(she never went out without Mrs. Chick, who called on fine mornings, usually accompanied by Miss Tox, to take her and Baby for an airing--or in other words, to march them gravely up and down the pavement; like a walking funeral); when, as she was sitting in her own room, the door was slowly and quietly opened, and a dark-eyed little girl looked in.
`It's Miss Florence come home from her aunt's, no doubt,' thought Richards, who had never seen the child before. `Hope I see you well, Miss.'
`Is that my brother?' asked the child, pointing to the Baby.
`Yes, my pretty,' answered Richards. `Come and kiss him.'
But the child, instead of advancing, looked her earnestly in the face, and said:
`What have you done with my Mama?'
`Lord bless the little creeter!' cried Richards, `what a sad question! I done? Nothing, Miss.'
`What have they done with my Mama?' inquired the child.
`I never saw such a melting thing in all my life!' said Richards, who naturally substituted for this child one of her own, inquiring for herself in like circumstances. `Come nearer here, my dear Miss! Don't be afraid of me.'
`I am not afraid of you,' said the child, drawing nearer. `But I want to know what they have done with my Mama.'
`My darling,' said Richards, `you wear that pretty black frock in remembrance of your Mama.'
`I can remember my Mama,' returned the child, with tears springing to her eyes, `in any frock.'
`But people put on black, to remember people when they're gone.'
`Where gone?' asked the child.
`Come and sit down by me,' said Richards, `and I'll tell you a story.'
With a quick perception that it was intended to relate to what she had asked, little Florence laid aside the bonnet she had held in her hand until now, and sat down on a stool at the Nurse's feet, looking up into her face.
`Once upon a time,' said Richards, `there was a lady--a very good lady, and her little daughter dearly loved her.'
`A very good lady and her little daughter dearly loved her,' repeated the child.
`Who, when Good thought it right that it should be so, was taken ill and died.'
The child shuddered.
`Died, never to be seen again by any one on earth, and was buried in the ground where the trees grow.'
`The cold ground?' said the child, shuddering again.
`No! The warm ground,' returned Polly, seizing her advantage, `where the ugly little seeds turn into beautiful flowers, and into grass, and corn, and I don't know what all besides. Where good people turn into bright angels, and fly away to Heaven!'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|