Another moment and the door opened, and Katy dashed in calling out, `Papa - Elsie, Clover, where's papa?'
`He went over the river to see that son of Mr White's who broke his leg. Why, what's the matter?' asked Clover.
`Is somebody hurt?' inquired Elsie, startled at Katy's agitated looks.
`No, not hurt; but poor Mrs Ashe is in such trouble!'
Mrs Ashe, it should be explained, was a widow who had come to Burnet some months previously, and had taken a pleasant house not far from the Carrs'. She was a pretty, ladylike woman, with a particularly graceful, appealing manner, and very fond of her one child, a little girl. Katy and Papa both took a fancy to her at once, and the families had grown neighbourly and intimate in a short time, as people occasionally do when circumstances are favourable.
`I'll tell you all about it in a minute,' went on Katy. `But first I must find Alexander, and send him off to meet Papa and beg him to hurry home.' She went to the head of the stairs as she spoke, and called `Debby! Debby!' Debby answered. Katy gave her direction, and then came back again to the room where the other two were sitting.
`Now,' she said, speaking more collectedly, `I must explain as fast as I can, for I have got to go back. You know that Mrs Ashe's little nephew is here for a visit, don't you?'
`Yes, he came on Saturday.'
`Well, he was ailing all day yesterday, and today he is worse, and she is afraid it is scarlet fever. Luckily, Amy was spending the day with the Uphams yesterday, so she scarcely saw the boy at all; and as soon as her mother became alarmed, she sent Amy out into the garden to play, and hasn't let her come indoors since, so she can't have been exposed to any particular danger yet. I went by the house on my way down street, and there sat the poor little thing all alone in the arbour, with her dolly in her lap, looking so disconsolate. I spoke to her over the fence, and Mrs Ashe heard my voice, and opened the upstairs window and called to me. She said Amy had never had the fever, and that the very idea of her having it frightened her to death. She is such a delicate child, you know.'
`Oh, poor Mrs Ashe!' cried Clover, `I am so sorry for her! Well, Katy, what did you do?'
`I hope I didn't do wrong, but I offered to bring Amy here. Papa won't object, I am almost sure.'
`Why, of course he won't. Well?'
`I am going back now to fetch Amy. Mrs Ashe is to let Ellen, who hasn't been in the room with the little boy, pack a bagful of clothes and put it out on the steps, and I shall send Alexander for it by and by. You can't think how troubled poor Mrs Ashe was. She couldn't help crying when she said that Amy was all she had left in the world. And I nearly cried too, I was so sorry for her. She was so relieved when I said that we would take Amy. You know she has a great deal of confidence in Papa.'
`Yes, and in you, too. Where will you put Amy to sleep, Katy?'
`What do you think would be best? In Dorry's room?'
`I think she'd better come in here with you, and I'll go into Dorry's room. She is used to sleeping with her mother, you know, and she would be lonely if she were left to herself.'
`Perhaps that will be better, only it is a great bother for you, Clovy dear.'
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