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   Chapter 18 ARTHUR AND JERRY.

Tracy Park By Mary Jane Holmes Characters: 40265

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Arthur had passed a restless night. Indeed all his nights were restless, but this one had been especially so. Thoughts of Gretchen had troubled him in his dreams, and two or three times he had started up to listen, thinking that he heard her calling to him from a distance. He had dreamed also of the blue hood seen that day of the funereal, now more than two years ago, and of the child who had come knocking at his door, first with her hands and then with her feet, but whom he had refused to admit. He had never seen her since, and had never inquired for her of his own accord. Two or three times his brother had spoken of her in a casual way, telling him once that she was with Mrs. Crawford. Arthur had then asked how she could afford to keep her, and Frank had made no reply. But the second time when he spoke of Jerry, and Arthur, more interested in Mrs. Crawford than in her, had asked the same question, Frank had said:

'She cannot afford it, I pay her three dollars a week.'

For a moment Arthur looked inquiringly at him; then he said:

'You are a good fellow after all, even if you did deceive me about sending John for Gretchen. Tell Colvin, when Christmas comes, to give Mrs. Crawford a hundred dollars for me.'

After this Mrs. Crawford and her affairs passed completely out of Arthur's mind. He never went to the cottage, or near it. He never went anywhere, in fact, but lived the life of a recluse, growing thinner, and paler, and more reticent every day, talking now but seldom of Gretchen, though he never arose in the morning or retired at night without kissing her picture and murmuring to it some words of tenderness in German.

He had measured the length of his three rooms and dressing-room, and found them to be nearly one hundred feet, or six rods do that by passing back and forth twenty-five times he would walk almost a mile.

Regularly each morning, when it was not too cold or stormy, he would throw open his windows and take his daily exercise, which was but a poor substitute for what might be had in the fresh air outside, but was nevertheless much better than nothing.

On this particular morning, when Harold and Jerry were at the park, he was taking his walk as usual, though very slowly, for he felt weak and sick, and, oh, so inexpressibly lonely and desolate that it seemed to him he would gladly lie down and die.

'If I thought Gretchen were dead, nothing would seem so desirable to me as the grave, for then there would be nothing to live for,' he was saying to himself, when the sound of voices outside attracted his attention, and going to the window, he saw the children, Harold in the top of the tree, and Jerry at the foot, with her white sun-bonnet shading her face.

Recognizing Harold, he guessed who the little girl was, and a strange feeling of interest stirred in his heart for her, as he said:

'Poor little waif! I wonder where she came from, or what will become of her?'

'Then resuming his walk, he forgot all about the little waif, until startled by a voice which rang, clear and bell-like, through the rooms:

'Mr. Crazyman! Mr. Crazyman! don't you want some cherries?'

It was not so much the words as something in the tone, the foreign accent, the ring like a voice he never could forget, and which the previous night had called to him in his dreams. And now it was calling again-not in his sleep, but in reality, for he knew he was awake-calling from the adjoining room, which no one could enter without his knowledge.

Mentally weak as he was, and apt to be superstitious, his limbs shook, and his heart beat faster than its wont, as he went toward his sleeping-apartment, from which the voice came again a little louder and more peremptory:

'Mr. Crazyman! where are you? I've brought you some cherries!'

He had reached the door by this time, and saw the pail on the broad window-ledge where Jerry had put it, and to which she was clinging, with her white sun-bonnet just in view.

'Oh, Gretchen! how did you get here?' he said, bounding across the floor, with no thought of Jerry in his mind, no thought of any one but Gretchen, whom he was constantly expecting to come, though not exactly in this way.

'I climbed the ladder to fetch you some cherries, and I'm standing on the toppest stick,' Jerry said, craning her neck until her bonnet fell back, disclosing to view her beautiful face flushed with excitement, and her bright, wavy hair, which, moist with perspiration, clung in masses of round curls to her head and forehead.

'Great Heaven!' Arthur exclaimed, as he stood staring at the wide-open blue eyes confronting him so steadily. 'Who are you, and where did you come from?'

'I'm Jerry, and I comed from the carpet-bag in the Tramp House. Take me in, won't you?' Jerry said; and, mechanically leaning from the window, Arthur took her in, while Harold from below looked on, horror-struck with fear as to what the result might be if Jerry were left any time alone with a madman who did not like children.

'He may kill her; I must tell the folks,' he said; and, going round to the side door, he entered, without knocking, and asked for Mrs. Tracy.

But she was not at home, and so he told the servants of Jerry's danger, and begged them to go to her rescue.

'Pshaw, he won't hurt her. Charles will come pretty soon, and I'll send him up. Don't look so scared; he is harmless,' the cook said to Harold, who, in a wild state of nervous fear, went back to the cherry trees, where he could listen and hear the first scream which should proclaim Jerry's danger.

But none came, and could he have looked into the room, where Jerry sat, or rather stood, he would have been amazed.

As Arthur lifted Jerry through the window, and put her down upon the floor, he said to her:

'Take off that bonnet and let me look at you.'

She obeyed and stood before him with all her wealth of hair tumbling about her glowing face, and an eager, questioning expression in her blue eyes, which looked at him so fearlessly. Arthur knew perfectly well who she was, but something about her so dazed and bewildered him that for a moment he could not speak, but stared at her with the hungry, wistful look of one longing for something just within his reach, but still unattainable.

'Do you like me?' Jerry asked at last.

'Like you?' he replied. 'Yes. Why did you not come to me sooner?'

And, stooping, he kissed the cherry-stained mouth as he had never kissed a child before.

Sitting down upon the lounge, he took her in his lap and said to her again:

'Who are you, and where did you come from? I know your name is Jerry, which is a strange one for a girl, and I know you live with Mrs. Crawford, but before that night where did you live? Where did you come from?'

'Out of the carpet-bag in the Tramp House. I told you that once,' Jerry said. 'Harold found me. I am his little girl. He is out in the cherry tree, and said I must not come up, because you were crazy and would hurt me. You won't hurt me, will you? And be you crazy?'

'Hurt you? No,' he answered, as he parted the rings of her hair from her low brow. 'I don't know whether I am crazy or not They say so, and perhaps I am, when my head is full of bumble-bees.'

'Oh-h!' Jerry gasped, drawing back from him. 'Can they get out? And will they sting?'

Arthur burst into a merry laugh, the first he had known since he came back to Shannondale. Jerry was doing him good. There was something very soothing in the touch of the little warm hands he held in his, and something puzzling and fascinating, too, in the face of the child. He did not think of a likeness to any one; he only knew that he felt drawn toward her in a most unaccountable manner, and found himself wondering greatly who she was.

'Harold told me there were pictures and marble people up here with nothing on, and everything, and that's why I comed-that and to bring you some cherries. I like pictures. Can I see them?' Jerry said.

'Yes, you shall see them,' Arthur replied; and he led her into the room where Gretchen's picture looked at them from the window.

'Oh, my!' Jerry exclaimed, with bated breath, 'Ain't she lovely! Is she God's sister?' and folding her hands together, she stood before the picture as reverently as a devout Catholic stands before a Madonna.

It was some time since Jerry had spoken a word of German, but as she stood before Gretchen's picture old memories seemed to revive, and with them the German word for pretty, which she involuntarily spoke aloud.

Low as was the utterance, it caught Arthur's ear, and grasping her shoulder, he said:

'What was that? What did you say, and where did you learn it?'

His manner frightened her; perhaps the bumble-bees were coming out, and she drew back from him, forgetting entirely what she had said.

'It was a German word,' he continued, 'and the accent is German, too; can you speak it.'

Unconsciously as he talked, he dropped into that language, and Jerry listened intently, with a strained look on her face, as if trying to recall something which came and went, but went more than it came, if that could be.

'I talked that once,' she said, 'when I lived with mamma; but she is dead. Harold found her, and I put flowers on her grave.'

Half the time she was speaking in German, or trying to, and Arthur listened in amazement, while his interest in her deepened every moment, as he took her through the rooms and showed her 'the marble people with nothing on them,' and the beautiful pictures which adorned his walls.

'How would you like to come and be my little girl?' he asked her at last, when, remembering Harold and the cherries, she told him she must go, and started toward the window as if she would make her egress as she had come in.

'Can Harold come, too? I can't leave Harold,' she said Then, as she caught sight of him still standing at a distance, gazing curiously up at the window through which she had disappeared, she called out, 'Yes Harold; I'm coming. I have seen him and everything, and he did not hurt me. Good-bye!' and she turned toward Arthur with a little nod.

Then, before he could stop her, she sprang out upon the ladder, and went down faster than she had come up, leaving the pail of cherries upon the window-sill, and leaving, too, in Arthur's breast a tumult of emotions which he could not define.

That night, when Frank, who had heard in much alarm of Jerry's visit to his brother, went up to see him, he found him more cheerful and natural than he had seen him in weeks. As Frank expected, his first words were of the little girl who had come to him through the window and left him the cherries, of which he said he had eaten so many that he feared they might make him sick. What did Frank know of the child? What had he learned of her history? Of course he had made enquiries everywhere?

It was just in the twilight, before the gas was lighted, and so Arthur did not see how his brother's face flamed at first and then grew white as he recapitulated what the reader already knows, dwelling at length upon the enquiries he had made in New York, all of which had been fruitless. There was the name Jerrine on the child's clothing, he said and the initials 'N.B.' on that of her mother, who was evidently French, although she must have come from Germany.'

'Yes,' Arthur replied, 'the child is a German, and interests me greatly. Her face and something in her voice has haunted me all the afternoon. Was there nothing in that trunk or the carpet-bag which would be a clue?'

'Nothing,' Frank replied, although it seemed to him it was the shadow speaking for him, or at least putting the lie into his mouth. There were articles of clothing, all very plain, and a picture book printed at Leipsic, I can get that for you if you like, though it tells nothing unless it he that the mother lived in Leipsic.'

Frank talked very rapidly, and laid so much stress on Leipsic, that Arthur got an idea that Jerry had actually come from there, just as his brother meant he should, and he began to speak of the town and recall all he knew of it.

'I was never there but once,' he said, 'for although I spent a great deal of time in Germany, it was mostly in Heidleberg and Wiesbaden. Oh, that is lovely,-Wiesbaden-and nights now, when I cannot sleep, I fancy that I am there again, in the lovely park, and hear the music of the band, and see the crowds of people strolling through the grounds, and I am there with them, though apart from the rest, just where a narrow path turns off from a bridge, and a seat is half hidden from view behind the thick shrubberies. There I sit again with Gretchen, and feel her hand in mine and her dear head on my arm. Oh, Gretchen-'

There was a sob now in his voice, and he seemed to be talking to himself rather than to his brother, who said to him:

'Gretchen lived in Wiesbaden, then?'

'Yes; but for heaven's sake pronounce it with a V, and not a W, and in two syllables instead of three,' Arthur answered, pettishly, his ear offended as it always was with a discordant sound or mispronounciation.

'Veesbaden, then,' Frank repeated, understanding now why Jerry had stumbled over the name when he once spoke it to her.

Clearly she had come from Wiesbaden, where Gretchen had lived, and where he believed she had died, though he did not tell Arthur so; he merely said:

'Gretchen was your sweetheart, I suppose?'

But Arthur did not reply; he never replied to direct questions as to who Gretchen was, but after a moment's silence, he said:

'You speak of her as something past. Do you believe she is dead?'

'Yes, I do,' was Frank's decided answer. You have never told me who she was, though I have my own opinion on the subject, and I know that you loved her very much, and if she loved you so much-'

'She did-she did; she loved me more-far more than I deserved,' was Arthur's vehement interruption.

'Well, then,' Frank continued, 'if she did, and were living, she would have come to you, or answered your letters, or sent you some messenger.'

Frank's voice trembled here, and be seemed to see again the cold, still face of the dead woman, whose lips, could they have spoken, might have unlocked the mystery and brought a message from Gretchen'

'True, true,' Arthur replied. 'She would have come or written. How long is it since I came home?'

'Four years next October,' Frank said.

'Four years;' Arthur went on, 'is it so long as that? And it, was then more than three years since I had seen her. Everything was blotted out from my mind from the time that I entered that accursed maison de santé until I found myself in Paris. I am afraid she is dead.'

Just then Charles came in with lights and the chocolate his master always took before retiring, and so Frank said good-night, and went out upon the broad piazza, hoping the night air would cool his heated brow, or that the laughter and prattle of Jack and Maude, who were frolicking on the gravel walk, would drown the voice of the shadow which said to him:

'But for the number of years he says it is since he saw Gretchen, there could be no doubt, and you would be the biggest rascal living. As it is, you need not distress yourself-Jerry is nothing to him; and if she were, you have gone too far now to go back. People would never respect you again. And then there is Maude. You cannot disgrace her.'

No, he could not disgrace his darling Maude, who, as if guessing that he was thinking of her, came up the steps to his side, and seating herself upon his lap, pushed the hair from his forehead with her soft fingers, and kissed him lovingly as she was wont to do.

'My beautiful Maude,' he thought, for he knew she would be beautiful, with her black hair, and starry eyes, and brilliant complexion, and he loved her with all the strength of his nature. To see her grow into womanhood, admired and sought after by everyone, was the desire of his heart, and as he believed that money was necessary to the perfect fulfilment of his desire, for her sake he would carry his secret to the grave.

'Are you sick, papa?' Maude asked, looking into his pale face, on which the moon shone brightly.

'No, pet,' he answered, 'only tired. I am thinking of little Jerry Crawford. She was here this afternoon,'

'Yes, I saw her in the park with Harold. Isn't he handsome, papa? and such a nice boy! so different from Tom,' said Maude, and then she went on: 'Jerry is pretty too; prettier than I am; her hair curls and mine doesn't, but her dress is so ugly-that old high apron and calico gown. What makes her so poor and me so rich?'

Mr. Tracy groaned inwardly, as he replied:

'You are not rich, my child.'

'Oh, yes, I am,' Maude said, 'I heard mamma tell Mrs. Brinsmade so. She said Uncle Arthur was worth a million, and when he died we should have it all, because he could not make a will if he wanted to, and he had no children of his own,'

Although little more than seven years old, Maude Tracy was very knowing and precocious in some respects, and, like her brother Tom, had heard so much from her mother and others of their prospective wealth, that she understood the situation far better than she ought, and was already counting on the thousands waiting for her when her uncle died. And yet Maude Tracy had in her nature qualities which were to ripen into a noble womanhood. Truthful and generous, her instincts of right and wrong were very keen, and young as she was she had no respect for anything like deception or trickery. This her father knew, and his bitterest pang of remorse came from this thought, 'What would Maude say if she knew?' And it was more for her sake he was sinning than for his own or that of any other. She was so pretty, or would be when grown to young ladyhood, and the adornments which money could bring would so well become her.

'Maude,' he said at last, 'how would you like to change places with Jerry? That is, let her come here and live, while we go away and be poor; not quite as she is, but like many people.'

'And not wear a sash, and beads, and buttoned boots every day?' Maude interrupted him quickly. 'I should not like it at all. Why, Jerry dresses herself, and wipes the dishes, and wears those big aprons all the time. No, I don't want to be poor;' and as if something in her father's mind had communicated itself to her, she raised her head from his shoulder and looked beseechingly at him.

'Nor shall you be poor, if I can help it,' he said; 'but you must be very kind to Jerry, and never let her feel that you are richer than she. Do you understand?'

'I think I do,' Maude answered, adding as she kissed him fondly: 'And now I s'pose I must go, for there is Hetty come for me; so, good-night, you dearest, best papa in the world.'

He knew that she believed in him fully; that should he confess his fault she would understand it, and lose faith in him. He would bear the burden, he said to himself. There should be no more repining or looking back, Maude must never know; and so Jerry's chance was lost.

The next morning Arthur awoke with a racking headache. He was accustomed to it, it is true; but this one was particularly severe.

'It's the cherries; no wonder; a quart of those sour things would turn upside down any stomach,' Charles said, as he glanced at the empty tin pail which was adorning an inlaid table, and then suggested a dose of ipecac as a means of dislodging the offending cherries.

But Arthur declined the medicine. His stomach was well enough, he said. It was his head which ached, and nothing would help that like the touch of the cool little hands he had held in his the previous day. Charles must go for Jerry-go at once, for he wanted her, and as when Arthur wanted a thing he wanted it immediately, Charles was soon on his way to the cottage in the lane, where he found the little girl under a tall lilac bush, busy with the mud pies she was making, and talking to herself, partly in English and partly in broken German, which she had resumed since visiting the park.

'Seemed like something I ha

d dreamed, when he talked like that, and I could almost do it myself,' she said to Harold when describing the particulars of her interview with Mr. Tracy, and her tongue fell naturally into the language of her babyhood.

On hearing Charles' errand, her delight was unbounded.

'Iss. You'll let me go,' she cried, as she stood before Mrs. Crawford, with the mud-spots on her hands and face; 'and you'll let me wear my best gown now, and my white apron with the shoulder-straps, and my morocco shoes, because this visiting.'

As Mrs. Crawford could see no objection to the plan, Jerry was soon dressed, and on her way to the Park House, which seemed to her to be a very palace, and until the day before a place to be looked upon with awe, and admired breathlessly at a distance. Indeed, she had sometimes, when passing near the house, walked on tiptoe, as if on sacred ground, and held back her humble dress lest it should harm a shrub or vine by contact. But matters now were changed. She had been there, and was going there again by special invitation from the master, and she tripped along airily with a sense of dignity and importance unusual in one so young.

Mrs. Tracy, who seldom troubled herself with her brother-in-law's affairs, knew nothing of his having sent for Jerry, and was surprised when she saw her coming up the walk with Charles, whose manner indicated that he knew perfectly what he was about. She had heard of Jerry's visit on the previous day, and had wondered what Arthur could find in that child to interest him, when he would never allow Maude in his room. She knew nothing of the shadow which night and day was nearer to her husband than she was herself, but she did not fancy Jerry, because of the three dollars a week, which she felt was so much taken from herself. Why they should be burdened with the support of the child, just because her mother happened to be found dead upon their premises, she could not understand.

Had Jerry been older, she might, she said, have taken her into the kitchen as maid of all work, for Dolly had reached a point where she liked a great many servants in the household, and prided herself upon employing more help than either Grace Atherton or Edith St. Claire. Only that morning she had spoken to her husband of Jerry, and asked him how long he proposed to support her.

'Just as long as I have a dollar of my own, and she needs it,' was his reply, as he left the room, slamming the door behind him and leaving her to think him almost as crazy as his brother.

Thus it was not in a very quiet frame of mind that she went out upon the cool, broad piazza, and, taking one of the large willow chairs standing there, began to rock back and forth and wonder what had so changed her husband, making him silent and absent-minded, and even irritable at times, as he had been that morning. Was there insanity in his veins as well as in his brother's, and would her children inherit-her darling Maude, of whom she was so proud, and who, she hoped, would some day be the richest heiress in the county and marry Dick St. Claire, if, indeed, she did not look even higher?

It was at this point in her soliloquy that she saw Jerry coming up the walk, her face glowing with excitement and her manner one of freedom and assurance.

Ascending the steps, Jerry nodded and smiled at the lady, whose expression was not very inviting, and who, to the child's remark, 'I've comed again,' answered, icily:

'I see you have. Seems to me you come pretty often.' Turning to Charles, Mrs. Tracy continued:

'Why is she here again so soon? What does she want?'

Quick to detect and interpret the meaning of the tones of a voice, and hearing disapprobation in Mrs. Tracy's, Jerry's face was shadowed at once, and she looked up entreatingly at Charles, who said:

'Mr. Tracy sent me for her. She was with him yesterday, and he will have her again to-day.'

Then Jerry's face brightened, and she chimed in:

'Iss, I'm visiting, I'm invited, and I'm going to stay to eat.'

Mrs. Tracy dared not interfere with Arthur, even if he took Jerry to live there altogether, and, with a bend of her head, she signified to Charles that the conference was ended.

'Come, Jerry,' Charles said; but Jerry held back a moment, and asked:

'Where's Maude?'

If Mrs. Tracy heard, she did not reply, and Jerry followed on after Charles through the hall and up the broad staircase to the darkened room where Arthur lay, suffering intense pain in the head, and moaning occasionally. But he heard the patter of the little feet, for he was listening for it, and when Jerry entered his room he raised himself upon his elbow, and reaching the other hand toward her, said:

'So you have come again, little Jerry; or, perhaps I should call you little Cherry, considering how you first came to me. Would you like that name?'

'Iss,' was Jerry's reply, in the quick, half-lisping way which made the monosyllable so attractive.

'Well, then, Cherry,' Arthur continued, 'take off that bonnet, and open the blind behind me so I can see your face. Then bring that stool and sit where I can look at you while you rub my head with your hands. It aches enough to split, and I believe the bumble bees are swarming; but they can't get out, and if they could, they are the white-faced kind, which never sting.'

Jerry knew all about white-faced bumble-bees, for Harold had caught them for her, and with this fear removed, she did as Arthur bade her, and was soon seated at his side, rubbing his forehead, where the blue veins were standing out full and round, and smoothing his hair caressingly with her fingers, which seemed to have in them a healing power, for the pain and heat grew less under their touch, and, after a while Arthur fell into a quiet sleep.

When he awoke, after half an hour or so, it was with a delicious sense of rest and freedom from pain. Jerry had dropped the shades to shut out the sunlight, and was walking on tiptoe round the room, arranging the furniture and talking to herself in whispers, as she usually did when playing alone.

'Jerry,' Arthur said to her, and she was at his side in a moment, 'you are an enchantress. The ache is all gone from my head, charmed away by your hands. Now, come and sit by me again, and tell me all you know of yourself before Harold found you. Where did you live? What was your mother's name? Try and recall all you can.'

Jerry, however, could tell him very little besides the Tramp House, and the carpet-bag, and Harold letting her fall in the snow. Of the cold and the suffering she could recall nothing, or of the journey from New York in the cars. She did remember something about the ship, and her mother's seasickness, but where she lived before she went to the ship she could not tell. It was a big town, she thought, and there was music there, and a garden, and somebody sick. That was all. Everything else was gone entirely, except now and then when vague glimpses of something in the past bewildered and perplexed her. Her pantomime of the dying woman and the child had not been repeated for more than a year, for now her acting always took the form of the tragedy in the Tramp House, with herself in the carpet-bag and a lay figure dead beside her. But gradually, as Arthur questioned her, the old memories began to come back and shape themselves in her mind, and he said at last:

'It was like this-playin' you was a sick lady and I was your nurse. I can't think of her name, I guess I'll call her Manny. And there must be a baby; that's me, only I can't think of my name.'

'Call it Jerry, then,' Arthur suggested, both interested and amused, though he did not quite understand what she meant.

But he was passive in her hands, and submitted to have a big handkerchief put over his head for a cap, to hold on his arm the baby she improvised from a sofa-cushion of costly plush, around which she arranged as a dress an expensive tablespread, tied with the rich cord and tassel of his dressing-gown.

'You must cry a great deal,' she said, 'and pray a great deal, and kiss the baby a great deal, and I must scold you some for crying so much, and shake the baby some in the kitchen for making a noise, because, you know, the baby can walk and talk, and is me, only I can't be both at a time.'

She was not very clear in her explanations, but Arthur began to have a dim perception of her meaning, and did what she bade him do, and rather enjoyed having his face and hands washed with a wet rag, and his hair brushed and turled, as she called it, even though the fingers which turled it sometimes made suspicious journeyings to her mouth. He cried when she told him to cry; he coughed when she told him to cough; he kissed the baby when she told him to kiss it; he took medicine from the tin pail in the form of the cherry juice left there, and did not have to make believe that it sickened him, as she said he must, for that was a reality. But when she told him he must die, but pray first, he demurred, and asked what he should say. Jerry hesitated a little. She knew that her prayers were 'Our Father,' and 'Now I lay me,' but it seemed to her that a person dying should say something else, and at last she replied:

'I can't think what she did say, only a lot about him. There was a him somewhere, and I guess he was naughty, so pray for him, and the baby-that's me-and tell Manny she must take me to Mecky,'

'To whom?' Arthur asked, and she replied:

'To Mecky, where he was, don't you know?'

Arthur did not know, but he prayed for him, saying what she bade him say-a mixture half English, half German.

'There now, you are dead,' she said at last, as she closed his eyes and folded his hand upon his chest, 'You are dead, and mustn't stir nor breathe, no matter how awful we cry, Man-nee and I.'

Kneeling down beside him, she began to cry so like that of two persons that if Arthur had not known to the contrary, he would have sworn there were two beside him, a woman and a child, the voice of the one shrill and clear, and young, and frightened, the other older, and harsher, and stronger, and both blending together in a most astonishing manner.

'With a little practice she would make a wonderful ventriloquist,' Arthur thought, as he watched her flitting about the room, talking to unseen people and giving orders with regard to himself.

Once Frank had witnessed a pantomine very similar to this, only then the play had ended with the death, while now there was the burial, and when Arthur moved a little and asked if he might get up, she laid her hand quickly on his mouth, with a peremptory 'hush! you are dead and we must bury you.'

But here Jerry's memory failed her, and the funeral which followed was an imitation of the one which had left the Park House three years before, and which Arthur had watched from his window. Frank was there, and his wife, and Peterkin, and Jerry imitated the voices of them all, and when someone bade her kiss her mother she stooped and kissed Arthur's forehead, and said:

'Good-bye, mamma,' then throwing a thin tidy over his face, she continued, 'Now, I am going to shut the coffin,' and as she worked at the corners, as if driving down the screws, Arthur felt as if he were actually being shut out from life, and light, and the world.

To one of his superstitious tendencies the whole was terribly real, and when at last she told him he was buried, and the folks had come back, and he could get up, the sweat was standing upon his face and hands in great drops, and he felt that he had in very truth been present at the obsequies of some one, whose death had made an impression so strong upon Jerry's mind that time had not erased it. There was in his heart no thought of Gretchen, as there had been in Frank's when he was a spectator at the play. He had no cause for suspicion, and thought only of the child whose restlessness and activity were something appalling to him.

'Now, what shall we play next?' she asked, as he sat white and trembling in his chair.

'Oh, nothing, nothing,' he groaned, 'I cannot stand any more now.'

'Well, then, you sit still, and I'll clean house; it needs it badly. Such mud as that boy brings in I never saw, and I'm so lame, too!' Jerry responded, and Arthur recognized Mrs. Crawford, whose tidiness and cleanliness were proverbial, and for the next half hour he watched the little actress as she limped around the room exactly as Mrs. Crawford limped with her rheumatism, sweeping, dusting, and scolding a little, both to Harold and Jerry, the latter of whom once retorted:

'I would not be so cross as that if I had forty rheumatisses in my laigs, would you, Harold?'

But Harold only answered, softly:

'Hush, Jerry I you should not speak so to grandmamma, and she so good to us both, when we haven't any mother.'

Arthur would have laughed, so perfect was the imitation of voice and gesture, but at the mention of Harold's mother there came into his mind a vision of sweet Amy Crawford, who had been his first love, and for whose son he had really done so little.

'Jerry,' he said, 'I guess you have cleaned house long enough. Wash your hands and come to me.'

She obeyed him, and looking into his face, said:

'Now, what? can you play cat's cradle or casino?'

'No; I want to talk to you of Harold. You love him very much?'

'Oh, a hundred bushels-him and grandma, too.'

'And he is very kind to you?'

'Yes, I guess he is. He never talks back, and I am awful sometimes, and once I spit at him, and struck him; but I was so sorry and cried all night, and offered to give him my best doll 'cause it was the plaything I loved most, and I went without my piece of pie so he could have two pieces if he wanted,' Jerry said, her voice trembling as she made this confession, which gave Arthur a better insight into her real character than he had had before.

Hasty, impulsive, repentant, generous, and very affectionate, he felt sure she was, and he continued;

'Does Harold go to school?'

'Yes; and I too-to the district; but I hate it!' Jerry replied.

'Why hate it?' Arthur asked. 'What is the matter with the district school?'

'Oh, it smells awful there sometimes when it is hot,' Jerry replied with an upward turn to her nose. 'And the boys are so mean, some of them. Bill Peterkin goes there and I can't bear him, he plagues me so. Wants to kiss me. A-a-h, and says I am to be his wife, and he has got warts on his thumb!'

Jerry's face was sufficiently indicative of the disgust she felt for Bill Peterkin with his warts, and leaning back in his chair, Arthur laughed heartily, as he said:

'And you do not like Bill Peterkin? Well, what boys do you like?'

'Harold and Dick St. Claire,' was the prompt response, and Arthur continued:

'What would you have in place of the district school?'

'A governess,' was Jerry's answer. 'Nina St. Claire has one, and Ann Eliza Peterkin has one, and Maude Tracy has one.'

Here Jerry stopped suddenly, as if struck with a new idea.

'Why, Maude is your little girl, isn't she? You are her rich uncle, and she is to have all your money when you die. I wish I was your little girl.'

She spoke the last very sadly, and something in the expression of her face brought Gretchen to Arthur's mind, and his voice was choked as he said to her:

'I'd give half my fortune if you were my little girl.'

Then laying his hand on her bright hair, he questioned her adroitly of her life at the cottage, finding that it was a very happy one, and that she had never known want, although Mrs. Crawford was unable to work as she once had done, and was largely dependent upon the price for Jerry's board, which Frank paid regularly. Of this, however, Jerry did not speak. She only said:

'Harold works in the furnace, and in folks' gardens, and does lots of things for everybody, and once Bill Peterkin twitted him because he goes to Mrs. Baker's sometimes after stuff for the pig, and Harold cried, and I got up early the next morning and went after it myself and drew the cart home. After that grandma wouldn't let Harold go for any more, so I s'pose the pig will not weigh as much, I'm sorry, for I like sausage, don't you?'

Arthur hated it, but he did not tell her so, and she went on.

'Harold studies awful hard, and wants to go to college. He is trying to learn Latin and recites to Dick St. Claire; but grandma says it is up-hill business. Oh, if I's only rich I'd give it all to Harold, and he should get learning like Dick. Maybe I can work some time and earn some money. I wish I could.'

Arthur did not speak for a long time, but sat looking at the child whose face now wore an old and troubled look. In his mind he was revolving a plan which, with, his usual precipitancy, he resolved to carry into effect at once. But he said nothing of it to Jerry, whose attention was diverted by the entrance of Charles and the preparations for luncheon, which on the little girl's account, was served with more care than usual.

Jerry, who had a great liking for everything luxurious, had taken tea once or twice at Grassy Spring with Nina St. Claire, and had been greatly impressed with the appointments of the table, prizing them more even than the dainties for her to eat. But what she had seen there seemed as nothing compared to this round Swiss table, with its colored glass and rare china, no two pieces of which were alike.

'Oh, it is just like a dream!' she cried, as she watched Charles' movement and saw that there were two places laid.

'Am I to sit down with you?' she said in an awe-struck voice, 'and in that lovely chair? I am glad I wore my best gown. It won't dirty the chair a bit.'

But she took her pocket handkerchief and covered over the satin cushion before she dared seat herself in the chair, which had once been brought out for Gretchen, and in which she now sat down, dropping her head and shutting her eyes a moment Then, as she heard no sound, she looked up wonderingly, and asked:

'Ain't you going to say "for Christ's Sake?" grandma does.'

Arthur's face was a study with its mixed expression of surprise, amusement, and self-reproach. He never prayed except it were in some ejaculatory sentences wrung from him in his sore need, and the thought of asking a blessing on his food had never occurred to him. But Jerry was persistent.

'You must say "for Christ's sake,"' she continued, and, with his weak brain all in a muddle, Arthur began what he meant to be a brief thanksgiving, but which stretched itself into a lengthy prayer, fall of the past and of Gretchen, whom he seemed to be addressing rather than his Maker.

For a while Jerry listened reverently; then she looked up and moved uneasily in the chair, and at last when the prayer had continued for at least five minutes, she burst out impulsively:

'Oh, dear, do say "amen." I am so hungry!'

That broke the spell, and with a start Arthur came to himself, and said:

'Think you, Jerry, praying is a new business for me, and I do believe I should have gone on forever if you had not stopped me. Now, what will you have?'

He helped her to whatever she liked best, but could eat scarcely anything himself. It was sufficient for him to watch Jerry sitting there in Gretchen's chair and using Gretchen's plate, which every day for so many years had been laid for her. Gretchen had not come. She would never come, he feared, but with Jerry he did not feel half as desolate as when alone, with only his morbid fancies for company. And he must have her there, at least a portion of the time. His mind was made up on that point, and when about four o'clock, Jerry said to him:

'I want to go now. Grandma said I was to be home by five,' she replied:

'Yes, I am going with you. I wish to see your grandmother. I am going to drive you in the phaeton. How would you like that?'

Her dancing eyes told him how she would like it, and Charles was sent to the stable with an order to have the little pony phaeton brought round as soon as possible as he was going for a drive.

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