‘’Er nime?’ said Emmeline, thinking hard, ‘’er nime’s Morlvera.’ It was as near as she could get to the name of an adventuress who figured prominently in a cinema drama. There was silence for a moment while the possibilities of the name were turned over in the children’s minds.

‘Those clothes she’s got on ain’t paid for, and never won’t be,’ said Emmeline; ‘she thinks she’ll get the rich lord to pay for ’em, but ’e won’t. ’E’s given ’er jools, ’underds of pounds’ worth.’

‘’E won’t pay for the clothes,’ said Bert with conviction. Evidently there was some limit to the weak good nature of wealthy lords.

At that moment a motor carriage with liveried servants drew up at the emporium entrance; a large lady, with a penetrating and rather hurried manner of talking, stepped out, followed slowly and sulkily by a small boy, who had a very black scowl on his face and a very white sailor suit over the rest of him. The lady was continuing an argument which had probably commenced in Portman Square.

‘Now, Victor, you are to come in and buy a nice doll for your cousin Bertha. She gave you a beautiful box of soldiers on your birthday, and you must give her a present on hers.’

‘Bertha is a fat little fool,’ said Victor, in a voice that was as loud as his mother’s and had more assurance in it.

‘Victor, you are not to say such things. Bertha is not a fool, and she is not in the least fat. You are to come in and choose a doll for her.’

The couple passed into the shop, out of view and hearing of the two back-street children.

‘My, he is in a wicked temper,’ exclaimed Emmeline, but both she and Bert were inclined to side with him against the absent Bertha, who was doubtless as fat and foolish as he had described her to be.

‘I want to see some dolls,’ said the mother of Victor to the nearest assistant; ‘it’s for a little girl of eleven.’

‘A fat little girl of eleven,’ added Victor by way of supplementary information.

‘Victor, if you say such rude things about your cousin, you shall go to bed the moment we get home, without having any tea.’

‘This is one of the newest things we have in dolls,’ said the assistant, removing a hobble-skirted figure in peach-coloured velvet from the window; ‘leopard-skin toque and stole, the latest fashion. You won’t get anything newer than that anywhere. It’s an exclusive design.’

‘Look!’ whispered Emmeline outside; ‘they’ve bin and took Morlvera.’

There was a mingling of excitement and a certain sense of bereavement in her mind; she would have liked to gaze at that embodiment of overdressed depravity for just a little longer.

‘I ’spect she’s going away in a kerridge to marry the rich lord,’ hazarded Bert.

‘She’s up to no good,’ said Emmeline vaguely.

Inside the shop the purchase of the doll had been decided on.

‘It’s a beautiful doll, and Bertha will be delighted with it,’ asserted the mother of Victor loudly.

‘Oh, very well,’ said Victor sulkily; ‘you needn’t have it stuck into a box and wait an hour while it’s being done up into a parcel. I’ll take it as it is, and we can go round to Manchester Square and give it to Bertha,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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