Glory and the Other Girl
Annie Hamilton Donnell
DAVID C. COOK PUBLISHING COMPANY
Glory ran in the last minute to bid Aunt Hope good-by. That was the one thing that she never forgot.
"Good-by, auntie. I'm off, but I'm not happy. Happy! I'm perfectly mis-er-a-ble! If only I had passed last year! To think I've got to go back to that baby seminary, and the other girls will have entered at Glenwood! Oh, dear! I'll never be able to catch up."
"There, dear, don't! Keep brave. Remember what a pleasant vacation we've had, and this is such a lovely day in which to begin all over. I wouldn't mind 'beginning over' again to-day!"
Aunt Hope was smiling up at her from the cushions of the big couch, but Glory's lips trembled as she stooped to gather the thin little figure into her strong girlish arms.
"Auntie! Auntie! If you only could!" the girl cried wistfully. "If you could only take my place! It isn't fair that we can't take turns being well and strong. But, there," she made a wry face to hide her emotion, "who'd want to be poor me to-day and go back on that horrid train to that horrid, horrid school!"
"Glory Wetherell, I believe you're lazy!" Aunt Hope laughed. "A Wetherell lazy! There, kiss me again, Disappointment, and run away to your 'horrid train'!"
But out on the landing Glory paused expectantly, taking a rapid mental account of stock in readiness for the coming questions. "She'll call in a minute," the girl thought tenderly, waiting for the sweet, feeble voice. "The day auntie doesn't call me back I sha'n't be Gloria Wetherell!"
"Yes'm. Here I am. I've got my books, auntie."
"Every single one."
"All right, dear!" came in Aunt Hope's soft voice. And Glory went on downstairs, smiling to herself triumphantly. Such luck! When had she been able to answer like that before?
"Yes, auntie. Oh! oh! yes, I did forget my mileage book, auntie. I'll get it this minute. But, auntie,"—Glory stopped at the foot of the stairs. Her discomfited laugh floated upward to the pale little invalid—"I've felt of my head and it's on. I didn't forget that! Good-by."
"Dear girl—my Little Disappointment!" murmured the invalid, sinking back on her pillows, with a tender sigh. "Will she ever grow heedful? When will she come to her own?"
Oddly enough, at that moment Glory was saying to herself, as she hurried down the street, "I wish she wouldn't call me her 'Disappointment' like that—dear auntie! There's any quantity of love in it, but I don't like the sound of it. It reminds me of the trains I've missed, and the books I've forgotten, and—oh, me!—all the lessons I haven't learned! I wish auntie didn't care so much about such things—I don't!"
It was a splendid September day. The sweet, sharp air kissed the girl's fresh cheeks into blushes and sent her feet dancing along with the very joy of locomotion. In spite of herself Glory began to be happy. And the girls were at the station to see her off—that was an unexpected compliment. They ran to meet her excitedly.
"Quick, quick, Glory! We've 'held up' the train as long as we can!" they chorused. "Didn't you know you were late, for pity's sake? And it's the Crosspatch Conductor's day, too—we've had an awful time coaxing him to wait! But he's a real dear, after all."
"Give me your books—help her on, Judy! There, take 'em quick! Good-by."
"Our sympathies go-o with—yo-oo-ou!"
The chorus of gay voices trailed after her, as she stood alone on the platform. With a final wave of her book-strap she went dolefully inside. Suddenly the September getting-off intoxication oozed out of her finger-tips. She tumbled into the nearest seat with a sigh. It was even worse than she had anticipated.
"I wish the girls hadn't come down," she thought ungratefully. "Sending their condolences after me like that! I guess I could see the triumph in Judy Wells' face, and Georgia Kelley's, and all their faces. They were hugging themselves for not having to go back to the seminary. Nobody's got to but just poor me. I declare, I'm so sorry for you, Glory Wetherell, and I think I'm going to cry!"
The "girls," all four of them, had graduated the previous spring. Only heedless, unstudy-loving Glory had lagged over into another year, and must go back and forth from little Douglas to the Center Town Seminary all by herself. Every morning and every night—the days loomed ahead of her, not to be numbered or borne. Well, it was hard. No more merry chattering rides, as there had been last year when the girls were her companions. No more gay little car-feasts on the home trips, out of the carefully hoarded remnants of their dinners.
"I wish I'd kept up in mathematics and things!" lamented Glory, gazing at the flying landscape with gloomy eyes. "If I'd known how this was going to feel, I'd have done it if it killed me. Think of a year of this! Two times three quarters of an hour is an hour and a half. Let me see—in the three terms there'll be three times sixty-five days. Three times sixty-five is"—Glory figured slowly—"one hundred and ninety-five days! An hour and a half in one day—in one hundred and ninety-five days there will be—oh, forever!" groaned Glory. She sat and looked into the year to come with a gloomy face. In spite of herself she multiplied one hundred and ninety-five by one and a half.
"That's the number of hours you're going to sit here on a car-seat, is it?" she demanded of herself. "It's a nice prospect, isn't it? You'll have a charming time, won't you? Aren't you glad you didn't keep up in things?"
It did not occur to Glory that she might employ the time in study. Studying very rarely "occurred" to Glory, anyway. She went back and forth from little Douglas to the Centre Town "Seminary for Young Ladies" because of Aunt Hope. Aunt Hope wanted her to, and Aunt Hope was a dear. She would do even that for Aunt Hope!
The slow local train lurched on between grainfields and cattle-dotted pastures, and the pretty, dainty little maid on the back seat sat on, with the plaintive face of a martyr. In spite of herself the Other Girl smiled. The Other Girl was not dainty, nor was she pretty unless she smiled. The uptwitch of her mouth-corners and the flash of white teeth helped out a great deal. She had never had occasion to laugh much in her fifteen years of life, but now and then she smiled—when she saw girls playing martyr, for instance!
"It's funny, if she only knew it," the Other Girl thought. "There she sits feeling abused because she has to go to school—oh, my goodness, goodness! She feels that way, I'm certain she does! It's printed in capitals on her face. Diantha Leavitt, do you hear?—there's a girl back there feeling abused because she's got to go to a Young Ladies' Seminary! If you don't believe me, turn square round and look at her."
The Other Girl was sitting sidewise on her seat to give her a slanting view from under her shabby sailor of the trim little tailor-made figure on the back seat. She had been watching it ever since the train drew out of Douglas. She had recognized it at once as one of the five trim, girlish figures that had got on at the same place the previous spring. School-books and schoolgirl nonsense tell their own story, and, besides, hadn't they always got off at Centre Town, and wasn't there a Young Ladies' Seminary there? You could put two and two together if you didn't study arithmetic—if your name was only Diantha Leavitt and you worked in the East Centre Town rubber factory, instead of going to school.
The Other Girl's admiring eyes had taken in all the dainty details of gloves, tiny chatelaine watch, and neat school satchel out of which protruded green and brown books. With a fierce little gesture the Other Girl had slid her own hands under her threadbare jacket. They were reddened and rough.
"I should like to know if she can smell rubber clear back there," she thought. "You ought to go ahead to the front o' the car, Diantha Leavitt. Don't you know dainty folks don't like the smell of rubber? Oh, my goodness—goodness—goodness! I wish I could get out o' the reach of it for one day in my life! One day—doesn't seem like asking a great deal, does it?"
She straightened and turned her back to the dainty girl of luxury on the rear seat. She would not look again. But straight ahead, on the very front of the car, her gloomy, roaming gaze was stayed. What was this she saw? The pretty, plaintive face of the schoolgirl, in the mirror! She could not get away from it. The two pairs of blue eyes seemed to be looking directly into each other, but the Other Girl's were full of angry tears. The Other Girl sat up, straight and defiant, and stared ahead unswervingly. Mentally she was taking a scornful inventory of her own shabbiness.
"My feather is perfectly straight;—it rained Saturday night, and I haven't had any time to curl it over the poker. It doesn't belong on a sailor, anyway, but it's better than a hole right into your hair! It covers up. My jacket collar is all fringy round the edges, and the top button is split. My necktie has been washed four times too often—ugh! I smell rubber!"
Glory consulted her little chatelaine watch impatiently.
"I hope we're 'most there!" she sighed. "If this hasn't been the longest ride! I know one thing—I shall bring my crochet-work to-morrow, and my tatting, and my knitting-work, and my—patchwork! There's more than one way to 'kill' time." She smiled to herself a little. From the cover of the tiny watch Aunt Hope's picture looked up at her, smiling too. Glory nodded back to it.
"Yes'm, I've got everything—I haven't forgotten a thing. And I'm going to be good," she murmured, as she shut the sweet face out of sight.
The train slowed up. Glory was feeling better because of the little draught of Sweet Face Tonic, and she was even humming a tune under her breath when she stepped down on to the platform. She stepped daintily along with her pretty head held up saucily and her skirts a-flutter. It wasn't so bad, after all, once off that horrid train—good riddance to it! Let it go fizzing and puffing away. The farther the better—
Suddenly Glory stood still and gazed downward at her empty hands, then at the fading curl of white smoke up the track. Her face was a study of dismay.
"Oh! oh! That horrid train has carried off my books!" she cried.
Glory swung about on her toes and marched away to the Centre Town ticketman, whom she knew a little.
"Mr. Blodgett," she cried, "what do you do when you get off the train and your books don't?"
The pleasant old face twinkled at her out of the little window. Mr. Blodgett's acquaintance with Glory had been enlivened by a good many such crises as this. In his mind he had always separated her from the other Douglas young misses as "The Fly-away One."
"Forgot 'em, eh? Got carried off, did they? Well, that's a serious case. You'll have to engage a counsel, but I ain't sure you'll get your case. Looks to me as if the law was on the other—"
"Mr. Blodgett," laughed Glory, "I don't want to get my 'case'—I want my books! What do folks do when they leave things—umbrellas or something—in their seats?"
"Never left an umbrella yourself, of course?"
"Ye-es—three," admitted Glory, "but I never did anything—just let 'em go. This time it's my school-books, you see. It's different. I don't see how I'm going to school without any books."
"Sure enough. Well, I'll see what I can do for you, my dear. I'll telegraph to the conductor to take 'em in charge and deliver 'em to you at your place, in the morning. How's that?"
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Blodgett. You're a regular dear—I mean you're very kind."
"Don't change it, my dear. The first is good enough for me," the old man laughed. He was thinking what a refreshing little picture his small window framed in. Was it like this his little girl would have looked if she had grown into girlhood? He gazed after the Flyaway One wistfully.
It was still early in the morning, and Glory loitered about in the crisp September sunshine with an hour of time to "kill." There was but one early train to Centre Town, and that left Douglas at seven. It had not been so bad, of course, when the other girls came, too, but now!—Glory sighed pensively. So many things were bad now. The sun might just as well be snuffed out like a candle and it be raining torrents, for all the joy there was in living!
"That was my fourth Latin lexicon," Glory exclaimed suddenly, with a vivid vision of Aunt Hope's grieved face. "I left two out in the rain, and lost a lot of leaves out of another, and now this one's gone on a tour! Poor auntie! I guess she might as well keep right on calling me Little Disappointment."
It was an unpropitious beginning for the new term. Glory was obliged to refuse three times to recite, on the plea of her lost books, and double lessons loomed ahead of her dismally. But not for long—Glory never allowed "making up" to dispirit her unduly. Studying, anyway, was a nuisance, and the less time you let it give you the blues, the better. If you hadn't any books you couldn't study—naturally. Then why gloom over it a whole day?
"Well, dear?" Aunt Hope said that night, as they sat in the twilight together; "well, the beginning and the ending are the first day. How has it been? You look happy enough—I can feel the corners of your mouth, and they turn up!" The slender, cool fingers traveled over the girl's face in their own privileged fashion.
Glory remembered the books and drew down her lips hastily.
"I've been naughty, auntie," she confessed softly.
"Yes'm, I'm afraid so. I'm afraid I've—lost something."
Aunt Hope drew a long, patient breath before she spoke. Her fingers still lingered on the smooth cheeks and then wandered slowly to the tangle of soft hair. The little girl half hidden from her by the dusk was so dear to her!
"Tell me about it, Little Disappointment," Aunt Hope said at length. And Glory told her story penitently.
"But I think it will come out all right, auntie, truly," she ended. "I shall get them again to-morrow morning. Mr. Blodgett said he'd telegraph to have the Crosspatch Conduc—I mean the conductor—bring them with him to-morrow. It isn't likely anybody would steal a school satchel of books!" The bright voice ran on, quite gay and untroubled again. But Aunt Hope put up her hand and felt about for the laughing lips, to hush them. It had grown dark in the room.
"Glory, I am going to tell you a story," Aunt Hope said quietly. "You are to sit a little closer to me and listen like a good little girl. Don't speak, dear."
"I won't, auntie."
"There was another girl once," began Aunt Hope's gentle voice. "She had two things she loved especially—an Ambition and a Brother. She spelled them both with capitals, they were so dear to her. Sometimes she told herself she hardly knew which one she loved the better. But there came a time when she must choose between them, and then she knew. Of course it was the Brother. She put the Ambition away on a high shelf where she could not go to it too often and cry over it. 'Stay there awhile,' she said. 'Some day I shall come and take you down and live with you again. Just now I must take care of my Brother.'
"For the girl and her Brother were all alone in the world, and she was the older. He was a little thing, and she was all the mother he had. For fifteen years she took care of him, and then one day she found time to take the Ambition down from the high shelf—she had not had time before. She took it down and clasped it in the old way to her breast. 'Oh, ho!' she laughed—she was so glad!—'Oh, now I have time for you! You and I will never part again.' And she was as happy as a little child over a lost treasure. It did not seem to dismay her because she was not a girl any longer. Women could have Ambitions, she said. And what did she do but get out her study books and wipe off the dust of years! It lay on them discouragingly thick and white, but she laughed in its face.
"That was because she did not know. Sometimes it is better not to know. Do you think it would have been kind to let her know on that first sweet day? At any rate she never lost that day. She had it with her always afterward—the one beautiful, long day she and her Ambition spent together again, after she took it down from the shelf. They spent it all among the dusted books.
"The next day there was a terrible accident, and when it was over and this other girl, who had grown to a woman, was lying in a dark room that somehow seemed to be full of a dull pain, she heard her Brother and a doctor talking outside. She heard every word. Then she knew what was coming to her. She could tell what to expect.
"Well, she put the Ambition back, away back in her heart, and it has been there ever since. She lets it come to the front sometimes—but only once in a very great while."
The quiet voice ceased speaking, and Glory, with a little stifled sob, hid her face in the pillows. She understood.
"Oh, I forgot something in the story," Aunt Hope went on presently, her cheek against Glory's hair. "I forgot the best part! The Brother took care of the girl after that. He was the mother then. Even after he had a home of his own and a little baby, it was just the same. But he had to go away for years at a time, and the baby's mother was dead, so it came about that the girl—or rather woman; she is a woman now—had the little baby almost always to herself. It was beautiful, beautiful, until the little mischief took it into her head to grow up. Even then it wasn't so very bad! For, don't you see, she would fall heir to the Ambition by and by? So the woman was always hoping. And she hasn't quite given up hoping yet."
There was silence in the big, dark room. Glory got to her feet. Her voice trembled as she began to speak, and she hurried over the words as if she were afraid she might cry.
"I'm going down to Judy's to—to get her books. Then I'm coming home and—and study, auntie. Good-by," she stumbled.
"Good-by, dear," said Aunt Hope, softly.
"It was hard to tell her the story like that," she thought, half repenting. "Glory understands things instantly, and they hurt. But she is so precious—I had to tell it!"
That night Glory's light burned a good deal later than it ever had before, and Glory's bright head bent doggedly over Judy's books. Glory and Aunt Hope's beloved Ambition were so close that night that they almost touched each other. Not quite.
It was dull and bleak next day, and Glory was tired. The fierce little spark of energy seemed to have flickered out altogether.
"Don't say 'good-by, dear,'—say, 'Good-by, Disappointment,'" she said at Aunt Hope's couch the last moment.
"Good-by, dear," said Aunt Hope.
The early morning train was in the little station when Glory got there. She had just time to whisk up the steps on to the platform. The Crosspatch Conductor swung himself up after her. Glory eyed his empty hands with distinct disappointment.
"Haven't you got my books?" she panted, out of breath with her hurrying.
"Nary a book," the conductor said shortly. "Couldn't find 'em. Went through the whole train. Weren't any books. You'll have to hang on to 'em next time, young lady."
"I don't see how I can if I can't find 'em," sighed the "young lady." She went into the car and sat down heavily. Oh, it was too bad! She had been so sure the conductor would have them for her. She didn't want to lose them—not now, after that story. Oh, poor auntie!
There were not many early morning passengers. Among others Glory noticed an old man and two young men with dinner pails, and old lady without one, and a girl in a shabby jacket. She hadn't any dinner pail in sight, anyway. She sat in the seat ahead of Glory and pored over a book. She seemed buried—lost—in it.
Glory sat on the edge of her seat with her elbow on the window-sill and her chin in her hand. Her glance wandered gloomily around the car and came to rest at last on the open page of the Other Girl's book.
What—What! Glory leaned forward and gazed intently at the open page. On the margins were words scrawled carelessly in—her—handwriting! The odd, perked-up letters were unmistakable. Who else ever wrote like that? Who ever made M's and capital S's like that?
Glory got suddenly to her feet. That was her book the Other Girl was poring over—hers!
"I'll trouble you for my book," a clear, stiff voice said.
The Other Girl came to her senses abruptly.
"Oh! Why!" she stammered, her lean little face flooding crimson. "Oh, is it you? Oh, I didn't know we'd got to Douglas—oh, wait, please wait! Please let me explain." She kept tight hold of the book and faced Glory pluckily. "You must let me explain. Maybe you think I can't, but I can. I'm not a thief!"
"I don't care for any explanation, but I'd thank you for my books," Glory said loftily. "I suppose you've got the rest, too. They were all together."
"I have them all," the Other Girl returned quietly. The crimson in her cheeks had faded to a faint pink. She gazed up at Glory with steady eyes.
"But I cannot give them up till you let me explain," she persisted. "You've got to let me. Do you suppose I'm going to let you go away with my good name as though I would steal your books? They were lying on the seat—I saw you had forgotten them—I took care of them for you—I was going to give them back to you this morning, but I got interested in doing that sum and didn't know we'd got to Douglas yet. There!"
She sprang to her feet and forced the books into Glory's hands, her own fingers quivering as she did it. Suddenly Glory forgot her heroics and began to laugh.
"I never got interested in doing a sum," she cried. "I wish you'd tell me how you do it."
The laugh was infectious. The Other Girl laughed too. Unconsciously she moved along on her seat and as unconsciously Glory sat down.
"Oh, it's so easy to be interested!" breathed the Other Girl eagerly. Her eyes shone with enthusiasm. "You just have to open the book."
"I've opened a book a good many times and never got interested. Never was—never am—never shall be interested."
The Other Girl laid her rough red fingers on the books.
"Don't!" she said, gently. "It sort of—hurts to hear anyone talk that way. It all means so much to me. I had just begun history when—" She caught herself up abruptly, but Glory was curious. Was there ever a stranger "find" than this?—a girl in a shabby coat, with rough, red hands, who liked history!
"Yes, you had just begun when—"
"When I had to stop," went on the Other Girl, quietly. "I think I felt sorriest about the history, though it broke my heart to give up Latin. I don't know what you'll think, but I translated six lines in your Cicero last night. I did—I couldn't help it. I haven't the least idea I got them right, but I translated them."
Decidedly this was interesting. Couldn't help translating Cicero! Glory gasped with astonishment. She faced squarely about and gazed at her shabby little neighbor.
"Where do you go to school?" she demanded. Wherever it was, she was thinking that was the school Aunt Hope would like her to go to.
"At the East Centre Town rubber factory," the Other Girl smiled wistfully. "And oh, dear! that makes me think—can you smell rubber?"
Glory sniffed inquiringly. She certainly could detect a whiff of it somewhere. "Yes—yes, I think I do," she said.
"Then I'm going ahead. It's me," the Other Girl cried sharply. "I ought to have remembered. I wouldn't enjoy sitting beside a rubber factory if I was somebody else—if I was you. I forgot—I'm sorry."
She stood up and tried to pass out into the aisle in front of Glory, but Glory would not let her.
"Sit down, please—please. I don't smell it now, and anyway I like it. It's a variety. I'm tired of the perfume of white violets! If you don't mind, I wish you'd tell me some more about when you had to—stop, you know. I suppose you mean stop going to school, don't you?"
"Yes. It was when my father was killed in an accident. I had to stop then. There's only mother and me and 'Tiny Tim.' I went to work in the rubber factory—it was six months ago. I had just begun getting really into study, you know."
The quiet voice was unsteady with intense wistfulness. The Other Girl's eyes were gazing out of the car window as if they saw lost opportunities and yearned over them. Glory could not see the longing in them until they turned suddenly toward her and she caught a wondering glimpse of it.
"We had never had much, you see, but after father was killed—after that there was only mother and me, and mother is sick. So of course I had to stop going to school. I should like to have had enough so I could teach instead of working in a factory—"
This much said, the Other Girl shrank into herself as if into a little shabby shell. The distance between the two girls seemed abruptly to have widened. All at once Glory's hands were delicately gloved and the Other Girl's bare and red; Glory's dress trim and beautiful, and the Other Girl's faded and worn; Glory's jacket buttons rich and handsome, the Other Girl's top button split. It seemed all to have happened in a moment when the Other Girl woke up. How could she have forgotten herself so and talked like that!
"I wish—if you'd just as lief—you'd go back to your seat now," she said. "I—I never talked like that before to a stranger, and I ain't like you, you know. I've explained about the books. I studied them last night, but I don't think I hurt them any."
"I guess you did them good," laughed Glory, brightly. "I expect to find an inspiration between the pages—why, actually, I feel a little bit (oh, a very little) of interest already in history. How delighted Aunt Hope would feel if she knew!—No, I'm not going back to my seat. Why, here's Centre Town! Did you ever see such a short ride! I've got to get off here, and I wish I hadn't—oh, dear! Good-by."
Out on the platform Glory waved her books at the girlish face in the car window. The friendly little act sent the Other Girl on to the East Centre Town rubber factory with a warm spot in her heart.
"She's splendid, Diantha Leavitt, but don't you go to presuming on that wave!" she said to herself, severely. "This minute I believe you're presuming! You're looking ahead to seeing her again to-night when you go home, and getting another wave—it's just like you. I know you! A little thing like that turns your head round on your shoulders!"
A little thing! Was it a little thing to have beautiful, breezy Glory wave her books at you? To have her nod and smile up at your window?
All day long the Other Girl smiled over her petty, distasteful work, and Glory's face crept in between her tasks and nodded at her in friendly fashion. She watched for it breathlessly at night, when the train stopped at Centre Town. And it was there on the platform; it came smiling into the car and stopped at her seat! By the time Little Douglas was reached the two girls were friends.
"Auntie," Glory cried, dropping down by her aunt, "would you believe you could get to love anybody in two three-quarters of an hour? Well, I did to-day." And then she told her aunt of the girl in the sailor hat. "Her clothes were shabby—oh, terribly shabby. I thought her dreadful at first, till I found out—now I love her. You would, too."
"And who is she really? What is her name?"
"I don't know her name! Think of it, auntie, I love her and may be her name's Martha Jane! I don't know. But I don't care—I shall keep right on liking her. And so will you, because she studies history because she likes it. Likes it! Says she'd rather study it than not! It's a fact."
"I love her!" exclaimed Aunt Hope, fervently, and then they both laughed. And Glory told all that she knew about the Other Girl. Aunt Hope smoothed Glory's hair. It was the way she did when she approved of things.
"I like your new friend. I'm glad you left the books in the car," she said. "But there's more to the sad little story. It's to be continued, Glory. You must find out the other chapters. There will be plenty of time if you go back and forth together. And, dear, if you sit beside her in the car perhaps you will learn to love books, too."
"Never!" Glory laughed. "It isn't the age for miracles, auntie. The most you can hope for is that I'll learn to study. That's bad enough!"
"Well, kiss me, Little Disappointment, and run away. I wrote your father to-day, and what do you think I told him?"
"That I was a very good girl and he was to send on that ring right off; that you were actually worried about me, I was studying so hard; that—"
"That you were a dear girl," Aunt Hope laughed softly. "Now off with you!"
In the middle of the night Glory woke out of a dream that she was at the tip-top head of the geometry class, and in Latin the wonder of Centre Town Seminary for Young Ladies. The moonlight was streaming in on her face and found it laughing at the absurdity of the dream.
"The dream belongs to the Other Girl, not me. She's the one that ought to have the chances, too. I wish I could help her—why!" Glory sat up in bed, wide awake. Something had occurred to her.
"Why, of course. Why didn't I think of it before!" she said aloud. "I'll ask Aunt Hope—no, I'll do it." And then she tumbled back into the pillows to think out her plan. If the Other Girl could have known!
Two things prevented the immediate divulging of Glory's plan. She chafed at them both impatiently. On the way to the train the next morning Judy Wells waylaid her. That was one.
"I'm going, too," Judy announced cheerfully. "Of course you're delighted—I knew you would be! You see, I was taken violently homesick for the old Seminary, so I thought I'd run along with you and spend the day. I tried to work up a little enthusiasm in the other girls, but it was no use."
At any other time Glory would have been delighted enough at Judy's lively company, but to-day she wanted to propose her new plan to the Other Girl in the threadbare clothes. Judy would be dreadfully in her way about doing that. She would have to put it off a day. Glory never liked to put things off.
The other thing that interfered was the tiny boy she found sitting beside the Other Girl when she got on the train. He was almost too small to interfere with anything! Such a bit of a creature, in trousers almost too short to deserve the name! And beside him was tilted a tiny crutch that instantly suggested Tiny Tim to Dickens-loving Glory. Then she remembered that the Other Girl had spoken of a "Tiny Tim" the day before. So the Other Girl must have read Dickens, too.
"Here's a good seat," Judy said, dropping into the one just ahead of the two shabby figures.
Glory nodded cordially as she passed them, but how could she do any more? She could not introduce Judy when she didn't know the Other Girl's name herself! And, besides—well, Judy was not the—the kind to introduce to her. Instinctively Glory recognized that.
In between Judy's gay chatter, bits of child-talk crept to Glory's ears from behind, with now and then a quiet word from the Other Girl. She found herself listening to that with distinctly more interest than to Judy.
"No let's play it, Di," the child-voice piped eagerly, and there was a little clatter of the tiny crutch as it was tucked away out of sight under the seat.
"Can't see it now, can you?"
"Not a splinter of it, Timmie."
"I guess not! An' you wouldn't ever s'pose anybody was lame, would you? Not me!"
"You! The idea, Timmie!"
The child-voice broke into delighted laughter.
"Well, then let's begin. Play I'm very big, Di—oh, 'normous! You playin' that? An' play both my legs are twins—of course you must play that. An' that I could run down this car if I wanted to, faster'n—oh, faster'n ever was! Just lickety-split, you know! You playin' it?"
Glory could not hear the low reply, but the child-voice was clear enough.
"Now s'posin' that man 'cross the car got up an' came back here—play he did—an' said up real loud, 'See here, boy, you 'mind me of when I was young. I was big an' straight an' had twin legs, too!' Oh, my! s'posin' that, Di! Play it! You playin' it?"
The Other Girl's voice rang out, sharp with wistfulness.
Glory's eyes filled suddenly with tears. It must be such a hard play to play with Tiny Tim!
"Play I wear ve-ry big boots an' my mother has a dreadful time keepin' my pants up with my legs. 'Oh, how that boy does grow!' she keeps a-sighin' an' a-sighin', while she's lettin' 'em down. Play once she cried, he grew so fast!—Diantha Leavitt, you're lookin' right straight out the window! I don't believe you're playin' at all, one speck. I'm goin' to get my crutch an' be lame again, so there!"
"Mercy! what are we sitting here in the sun for!" Judy suddenly exclaimed. "I say we go over there on the shady side. It'll burn us all up."
"Let it," said Glory. "I like it. But go over there, dear. I'll stay here and get a nice pinky-brown! Good-by till Centre Town."
She was glad when Judy was gone. In an instant she had wheeled about toward the two behind her, nodding at the tiny boy in a friendly way.
"Is that your little brother?" she asked of the Other Girl.
Tiny Tim answered for himself.
"I'm her little brother now, but I was big a little speck of a while ago. Di went an' stopped playin'," he said in an aggrieved tone. The Other Girl laughed tenderly.
"He's the greatest boy for 'playin' things,' aren't you, Timmie? Yes, he's my brother. I bring him with me once in a great while for a change. He likes the ride on the cars and he takes care of himself beautifully while I'm at work. Then at nooning we play picnic, don't we, Timmie?"
There was no time for further talk then.
When the return trip came, Judy filled all the home ride with her lively spirits. So it was not until the next morning that Glory found her opportunity to broach her new idea to the Other Girl. She came breezily into the car and sat down beside the quiet figure with a sigh of relief.
"I'm glad my friend Judy isn't homesick for the Seminary to-day, as she was yesterday," she laughed. "And I'm a little glad you didn't bring your brother. You see, there's something I want to talk about, and, if you don't mind, I'll begin this minute."
Mind!—the Other Girl mind how soon this dainty, beautiful girl "began"! She stole an admiring look at the natty costume and upward into the bright, sweet face. But what was this that her companion was saying? A gasp of astonishment came to her as she sensed the words that were being spoken rapidly.
"I thought it all out in bed, night before last. Oh, I hope you'll like it! I think it's a lovely plan. You see, we'll have two three-quarters—an hour and a half a day. We can study together going down, and coming back I'll tell you all I learned in my classes—don't you see? You don't speak. I'm afraid you don't like it."
"Like it?—oh, if it's what I think! If it's—that! But I'm afraid I don't quite understand. I don't dare to understand!"
Glory clapped her hands gayly.
"It's plain as a b c," she said. "You long to go to school and can't—I don't long to and can! Now here's my idea that I evolved with my thinking-cap—I mean night-cap—on! Let's go to school together. We can pore over the horrid old books on the train, mornings and nights, and I can try and remember all the teachers tell me at the Seminary during the day. Aunt Hope will be overjoyed to have me try to remember anything! And, don't you see, anybody who worships history and can't let a Latin book alone, could keep up easy enough with a dull thing like me."
Glory paused for breath. She was still laughing with her eyes. But at sight of the radiance in the lean, brown face of the Other Girl, she sobered in sudden awe. To be as glad as that for a chance to learn!
"You understand all right now, don't you?" Glory said gently, and her gloved fingers stole across to the Other Girl's uncovered ones and rested on them reassuringly.
"Yes, now I dare to—but oh, it takes my breath away!" the Other Girl cried. "It's such a beautiful, beautiful thing for you to do! Do you think I don't know that? Do you think I won't do my very best? Why, I can study in the rubber factory, too! I mean I can carry the geometry propositions in my head—I know I should remember every line and every letter—and work them out noontimes and in all the betweens."
"You needn't do that," Glory said, "you could copy the lesson off on a piece of paper—no, I'll tell you! I'll get Judy's books for you. Oh, there are plenty of ways to manage. Now let's begin. There's time left to make a start, anyway."
"Wait," the Other Girl said quickly, "I hate to waste a minute, but I've got to say something. I want you to know what it may mean if you do this for me. It may mean luxuries for my sick mother and—a chance for my little 'Tiny Tim.' Do you know, my teachers said if I could only keep on I might get a place to teach. Think of it! Do you know, some doctors told mother once that there was a little chance of straightening Timmie's bad leg, if we had the money. Oh, do you know this may mean things like that! Do you think I'm not thankful to you?"
The impetuous words flowed out in a hurried stream, and the eyes of the Other Girl, as they looked into Glory's, shone through a dazzle of happy tears. For a moment after the eager voice ceased neither girl made a sound. Then it was Glory who spoke.
"Why!" she cried with a long breath, "Why, I didn't know it could mean anything like that! I thought it would just mean getting a little learning. I didn't know there were things like that at the other end of it."
Glory had lived a little less than sixteen years, but they had been "different" from the years the Other Girl had lived. Aunt Hope had been all the suffering she had ever seen—Aunt Hope, smiling and brave, on her silken pillows. Until that sad little story the other night, she had scarcely connected anything sorrowful or hard to bear with Aunt Hope.
The beautiful autumn weeks multiplied to months, and Glory's plan prospered thriftily. The lessons went on steadily through the morning and afternoon rides. The Other Girl's face was set toward a possible, splendid time to come; Glory's was set toward patience and gentleness. For it was not always easy to give up the hour and a half each day to the distasteful work that she so cordially hated. At first, I mean; strangely enough, after a while things changed. Glory woke up one day to find herself keenly interested in a knotty problem. She could hardly wait to get her head beside the Other Girl's, to see if together they could not solve it.
"Think of it, auntie! Is it me, or am I somebody else?" she laughed, hurrying in to kiss Aunt Hope good-by. "Think of me in a hurry to get an answer to a problem!"
"Yes, it's you, dear. It's Glory Glorified!" laughed back the sweet voice. Then she drew the girl's bright head down beside her. "It's gone, dear. The Ambition out of my heart. It's passed to somebody else—to you, I think, Glory—yes, I'm confident! You've got it this minute!"
And Glory understood. She went away wondering if it could be true that she, Gloria Wetherell, had a real ambition in life.
"Auntie hasn't called me Disappointment for a long time," she mused happily, as she sped down the frosty street with the nip of keen air on her cheeks and the tonic of it in her lungs. Her mind hurried back to the knotty problem. She and the Other Girl were still at work on it that night, coming home. It happened that it had not been taken up in the recitation that day.
"It looks so easy and it isn't," sighed Glory.
"But we're bound to solve it," the Other Girl cried. The two heads were close together, and the Crosspatch Conductor smiled as he passed them. He had been watching them with a good deal of interest for a long time. This time he turned and came back.
"Tough one, eh?" he said.
"Awfully!" laughed Glory.
"But we're going to get it," smiled the Other Girl, going back to the front. The Crosspatch Conductor stood regarding Glory gravely.
"Helping her along, eh?"
"No," answered Glory, "she's helping me."
Another wrestle with the problem, and still another—then an exciting moment when victory seemed in sight. Closer drew the brown heads—more earnest grew the eager voices. "We've got it!"
"Goody!" cried Glory. "Just in time, too, for here we are at—"
Her face sobered. She got to her feet in a sudden panic. What was this strange little place they were drawing into? Those woods, the houses and the trees—they were not Little Douglas.
"I've been carried by!" gasped Glory. "I wasn't noticing. There isn't any other train back to-night—I tell you I've been carried by. This isn't my home!"
As Glory stood on the desolate little platform, realizing that she had been carried by her own station, she presented a picture of dismay. For an instant the Other Girl stood regarding her with indecision. Then with a slight flush she stepped to Glory's side, and, placing her hand on her arm, said:
"You have been carried by your home, but you have not been taken by mine. Come with me; you will not mind much." There was a shy pleading in the Other Girl's tone. On the instant of offering hospitality to this dainty new friend, and acute perception of the barrenness of it overswept and dismayed her. In a flash she saw the patch on the seat of Tim's trousers, and instantly an array of mismatched cups, nicked plates and cracked pitchers, passed before her vision. Had the dainty Glory in all her life eaten from a nicked plate?
But instantly she rallied and was her own sweet self.
"It is only a little way. We will try to make you comfortable," the Other Girl said hurriedly. Her thoughts seemed to have occupied a long time, and she feared her invitation might have seemed lacking in cordiality. Glory scanned her face, then said:
"There isn't any train back to-night—not one. I can't go back. If you are sure it will not be a trouble— But what will Aunt Hope do? She will be so worried!"
The train was wriggling into motion, and Glory caught sight of the Crosspatch Conductor on one end of the platform. She ran toward him wrathfully.
"Goodness! You here?" he cried.
"You carried me by!" Glory cried. "I don't think it was very nice in you!" Then she laughed at the honest dismay in his grim face. The train was under way and she had to raise her voice to call after him. "Never mind! I'm going with my friend. I'll—forgive—you!"
"Oh, I'm glad you said that!" the Other Girl exclaimed earnestly. "I'm glad you said 'my friend.' Come, it's this way, just around one corner."
But Glory hesitated. "Is there any chance anywhere to telephone?" she asked. "I've got to send word to auntie. She would worry all night long, I know she would. I never stayed away from her but once before, and that time I telephoned. There's a wire in our house, you know."
The Other Girl reflected. "There's one at the store," she said, "but it's quite a walk. I don't mind it myself. I love to walk. But you—"
"But I do, too!" Glory laughed, tucking her hand through the shabby jacket sleeve in the friendliest way. "And if I didn't, do you suppose it would matter? I'd walk to a telephone that had Aunt Hope at the other end of it, if I had to go on one foot!"
"Like Tiny Tim," the Other Girl smiled gently. "But Timmy can walk as fast as anybody. He makes that little crutch of his do almost anything but skip."
"Skip! Oh, how I used to skip when I was little! I can remember it as plain!"
"I don't believe I ever was young. At any rate, I never skipped," added the Other Girl thoughtfully.
"Never skipped! Then it's time you did. It's never to late to—skip. Come on, I'll show you how."
Gayly they went skipping down the stretch of snowy roadway, with their arms around each other. The crisp air reddened the tips of their ears and patted their backs approvingly. For once, at any rate, the Other Girl was young.
At the "store," Glory telephoned to Aunt Hope. It was quite a while before she could make connections with the private wire, but she waited patiently.
"Hello!" she called, her voice unnecessarily high-pitched. "I'm Glory. Is this you, James? Well, tell auntie I got carried by—carried by! What? Yes, I'm all safe. I'm with my fr— Why, auntie, that's you! I hear your voice! You ought not to have walked out into the hall! Yes, I'm just as 'all right' as I can be. I'm going home with Diantha. What? Oh, yes, I knew you'd feel safe about me, then. I sha'n't tell Diantha. It would puff her up! Yes, I wore my rubbers. Yes, I've got my muffler. No, my cold's better. Take care of yourself, auntie; good-by. Oh, no, wait! You still there, auntie? Well, the reason I got carried by was because I was so buried up in a problem. Isn't that funny for Glory? Good-by."
Tiny Tim met them at the door of a little brown house near the station. His eyes widened with astonishment at sight of Glory. Then his glance traveled to his sister in evident uneasiness.
"My!" he ejaculated slowly, "I've e't up the last cooky!"
Glory laughed out merrily. "Oh, I'm so glad!" she said, "for I don't like cookies unless there's a hole in them."
"These had holes. I've e't up the last hole, too."
"Oh, dreadful! But I'll tell you what, Timmie—if you'll let me come in and stay all night, I'll promise not to eat anything but a slice of bread and butter. We could cut a hole in that and play it was a cook—"
"The bread's gone, too. I've e't up—"
"Timothy Leavitt, are you going to let us in?" laughed his sister, though there were two red spots blooming in her cheeks. What would Timmie say next! She led the way through the tiny hall into a big, bright room whose centerpiece was a frail, smiling little woman with a lapful of calico bits. She held out both her hands to Glory.
"Don't tell me who she is, Diantha. As if I didn't know! My dear, my dear, I am very glad you have come. I have hoped you would, ever since your path crossed Di's, and—"
"Glorified it, mamma."
"Yes, glorified it—that is it. Take off your things, dear, and just feel snug and at home."
And thus the little home opened its arms to dainty Glory. The welcome extended was as gracious and as perfect a hospitality as could have been found in the grandest home in the land. There was no luxury or even plenty. But Glory saw instantly there was the happiness that goes with love. It was her awakening. A new wonder filled the girl's heart that poverty and happiness could live together like this. While Di was busy she mused.
"I thought poor people fretted and grumbled. I know I should. I shouldn't be sunshiny and nice like this. And they open their doors into their poor, bare, empty rooms and bid me welcome just as beautifully as Aunt Hope would do to our house. It is beautiful. Just beautiful! It's a bit of heaven right down here in this little unpainted house."
Diantha put on a big apron and rolled up her sleeves. "I'm going out and make some muffins," she smiled. "Timmie, you stay here."
"Yes," said Glory, "Timmie'll stay with me. Can't we play something—we two?"
"Uncrutchit!" demanded Tiny Tim eagerly.
"Un—what? I don't believe I ever played that."
"No, 'course not. You ain't got any old crutch to un."
Glory looked helplessly at the gentle mother, who smiled back at her quietly. But in the sweet voice, when it spoke, there was depthless wistfulness.
"Timmie means play he hasn't any crutch—that he doesn't need one, you know," explained the sweet voice. "'Un-crutch-it' is his favorite play. He puts the crutch out of sight—"
"This way," cried Timmie, clattering the little crutch under the sofa in hot haste. "That's uncrutching, don't you see? Now I'm uncrutched. You play I'm very big an' tall an' my legs match. Every little while you must look up an' say, 'Mercy me! how that child grows!'"
The little play went on until supper was ready. Then the little crutch came out again and was put into active service.
It was a strange meal to Glory. She told Aunt Hope afterward all about it.
"It was just as quiet and nice-behaved and beautiful as any supper, only there wasn't anything to eat! Oh, auntie, you know what I mean! You know I mean there were the muffins (they were splendid) and the tea and dried apple sauce. I had more than I could eat. But you don't know how I wanted to fill that pale little lady's plate with some of our chicken and gravy and set by her plate a salad, after she'd worked all day. And pile Tiny Timmie's plate tumble-high with goodies! It made me ashamed to think of all the beautiful suppers of my life that I've taken without even a 'Thank you, God.'"
The two girls went to bed early and lay talking, as girls have done since girls began. The topics of talk drifted through the different lessons into personal subjects.
"Do you know, I'm hoping!" the Other Girl burst out softly, with a little quiver of her thin body under the quilts. "I began to last night. I'm going to do it right from now on. Maybe it's silly, but I am."
"Is it a riddle?" asked Glory.
"Oh, don't you understand? I thought you must, because I did! I mean I'm hoping to pass the examinations for the next grade next summer. That's just what I'm doing, Glory Wetherell."
"Why, that's nothing! I am going to pass, too. If I get through the seminary I am going to Smith College some day."
"And if I pass for the eighth grade I'm going to keep right on studying for the first grade in high-school. Miss Clem says I can. I talked with her the other night. She says she'll help. Oh, Glory, there is no end to this road you have started me on."
"I am glad," said Glory. "Auntie says for folks to keep on when they're doing well enough, and not fret about the other end of the road. One never knows what's on ahead or what may happen."
"And if I ever get to be anybody, Glory Wetherell, remember it's you who started me."
After a while the subdued chattering ceased, and the two girls fell asleep, Glory to dream that she and her new friend graduated together from the Centre Town Seminary, in beautiful twin white dresses, and that Aunt Hope was there and clapped her thin, white hands (but they were round and pink-tinted in the dream) when she heard Glory's valedictory.
The Other Girl's dream was of longed-for luxuries for the patient mother and legs that matched for Tiny Tim. Both dreams came to an end in a startling way.
Glory and Diantha were awakened from their rosy dreams by a sharp voice calling, "Fire! Fire!" They started up in affright, only to find little Timmie perched on the foot of the bed, crying monotonously, "Fire! Fire!" and interspersing his fire-alarm with brisk drummings of his crutch against the footboard. But though he had alarmed the girls, he himself did not look alarmed.
"Fire! Fire! Fi—"
"Timothy Leavitt, where is it? Tell me quick!" his sister gasped breathlessly.
"In the kitchen. Fire! Fire! Fi—"
"The kitchen? What part of it?—where?"
"In the stove. I built it," Timmie said in an aggrieved tone, but his eyes were glinting with mischief sparks. "I built it hours ago, an' you didn't get up—an' you didn't get up! I didn't s'pose we'd ever have breakfast unless I wokened you up."
"You bad little boy! So you went and made us think there was a fire?"
"Well, there is—I built it, so there!"
Glory was still laughing periodically over their fright, when they got to the station to take the train. She had the picture of innocent-faced Timmie still in her mind, and the monotonous drumming of his little crutch, between his alarms, in her ears.
"'Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!'" she sang laughingly. "Didn't the little scamp give us a fine scare, though! But he woke us up!"
"Oh, yes, he woke us up," answered the Other Girl, grimly.
After morning recitations, the Principal of the Centre Town Seminary had a caller in her office. It was Glory, with a pretty little air of pleading about her. She came in, in answer to the Principal's "Come," and stood, a suppliant, in the doorway.
"Are you busy? Ought I to go away?" she asked. "You see, I've got quite a lot to say."
"Then say it, my dear," the Principal smiled pleasantly. "Sit down in that chair and begin."
"Well, then—oh, Miss Sweetwater, can't my friend graduate with me? I mean, if you let me graduate—or if you don't let me—I mean can't she graduate, anyway? She is a splendid scholar, and—and she needs to graduate somewhere! You'll let her, won't you?"
The Principal smiled. "Who is your friend, Glory?" she asked.
"She's Diantha Leavitt, and she works in the rubber factory, and studies just awfully at home, and I help her some going and coming on the train."
"Oh, she is not one of the Seminary girls, then? She has never been here? Dear child, how do you think she can graduate if she has never been here to school?"
Glory's eager face fell. "I didn't know but you'd let her," she said, slowly. "She's just as smart as can be. I'm just sure she can pass the examinations. It would mean so much to Diantha to pass. I'm sorry I troubled you, Miss Sweetwater—I didn't know."
But the kind-hearted Principal detained Glory and drew out the whole wistful little story of the Other Girl. At the end, she said, "I am glad to know of her. Such a girl must be encouraged. I will keep mindful of her and see if I cannot help her in some way."
"Thank you. I hope you can help her. She wants to do so much if she can ever get to earning. It seems as though almost anyone could learn if they had a mother to help, and a Tiny Tim. There's an Aunt Hope. I can do it for her. I'm glad I've got to work. And thanks to Di, I do not stand so bad a show of graduating—with a great deal of honor, too. Dear old Di!"
More of the late winter days snowed past, and there came, by and by, hints of spring—faint suggestions of green in the bare, brown spots, whiffs of spring tonic in the air and clear little bird-calls overhead. New courage was born in Glory's heart and the Other Girl's, and both studied harder and harder with each day that went by. The Crosspatch Conductor took note of the two brown heads bent over the book and wondered behind his grim mask.
"What is it, anyhow?" he asked one day, late in the spring, stopping before them in the aisle.
The two pairs of eyes met his laughingly. "Oh—things. Splendid things!" Glory said. "Certificates and diplomas some day, and sick folks with glad faces, and little boys with twin legs! Isn't that enough to 'pay'?"
"Umph!" the Crosspatch Conductor muttered in his beard, and strode on down the aisle. But he beckoned Glory aside that night on the home trip and questioned her about the Other Girl. Glory told him the whole story in a few hurried words.
"That's why she's studying so hard," she wound up, out of breath. "She wants to get it all and some day be a teacher."
"And you're helping her," the Crosspatch Conductor said, gruffly.
"Mercy, no! She's helping me. That's why I'm studying so hard! I don't see what you mean—oh! In the very beginning, you mean? That? I'd forgotten there ever was a time when I helped her. I s'pose I might have a little, at first."
The conductor put his big hand on Glory's shoulder with a touch as light and caressing as that of a woman.
"You're the right kind, both o' you," he said. "It never comes amiss to help anybody. I've half a mind to try a little of it myself. See here, don't you tell her and go to raising hopes, but it kind of seems to me as though I knew a place where she could teach right away. I know a boy who hasn't any mother that wants to learn things. She'd make a pretty good sort of a teacher for a little feller who can never go outdoors and get the sunshine, and all that, now wouldn't she?"
"Oh, are you sure there is such a boy? Can you get him for Diantha? Would it pay her money—lots of it?"
"Easy! Easy! Don't go too fast. It wouldn't pay her a fortune, 'cause fortunes ain't found like hazel nuts, growing on bushes. But it ought to pay her pretty tolerable. I'm sure enough about the boy;" and a sad look came into the conductor's eyes. "He hasn't any mother, you see, and it's pretty hard for the little chap."
"Is he your boy?" asked Glory, putting her little hand on the conductor's sleeve and looking sympathetically up into the grave eyes.
The conductor nodded. "He's mine, and his grandmother says he ought to be learning things—poor Dan! That girl over there wouldn't be a very bad one to help him get hold, now would she?"
"Oh! Oh! Oh! What will she say? Why, if I had a little boy and he couldn't go out into the sunshine, and he wanted to learn, I'd rather have Diantha's little finger to help him with than the whole of some folks. You don't know Di."
The conductor laughed. "I guess I haven't been watching you two this winter without finding out something," he said, his eyes holding a twinkle. Then the old, gruff manner came back to him and he added brusquely, "But there, don't you go to countin' the chickens before they're hatched. I'll have to talk with grandma first; maybe she'd rather have a sort of circumspect person."
"But your Danny wouldn't—you said his name was Dan," said Glory, her face one sea of dimples, and her eyes like diamonds. "'Most seems as if a little boy who couldn't go out in the sunshine ought to have the one he'd like best with him. He wouldn't care much for a—a circumspect person, would he?" asked Glory, a merry twinkle in her eyes.
"There now, you go along!" said the conductor, laughing in spite of himself.
But Glory did not "go along" until she had caught the big hand and squeezed it between her soft little palms as it was extended to help her down to the Douglas platform.
That night Glory could hardly wait to get to Aunt Hope.
"Oh, auntie, won't it be splendid if she gets that place!" she cried when she had unfolded the beautiful plan at which the conductor had hinted.
"But you mustn't set your heart on it, Glory. The grandmother may not think that so young a girl will do for the boy."
"She will when she sees Diantha, auntie—I am just sure of it. Di is so strong and helpful, and so cheery, and so full of courage, and never thinks of herself, but always of others."
"Well, dear, we will leave it in the good Father's hands, and just ask him to bring it out in the way that is best for all."
* * * * *
June and all its glory was touching the world, and the sweet air, full of the perfume of rose and honeysuckle, crept in and fanned two faces close together on the sofa pillows.
"Auntie, you haven't called me 'Little Disappointment' this ever so long," Glory said suddenly after a long silence. "Is it a good sign? I thought—well—maybe it was."
"Dear child!" Aunt Hope's arms were round Glory, holding her in their feeble, loving clasp. "Dear child, did I ever call you that? Are you sure? Well, I shall never do it again, dear, as long as we twain shall live! Do you want a new name, Glory?"
"Yes'm, please," murmured the girl.
"Then you are my Little Ambition, and God bless you, dear!"
After that it was still again, and the cool darkness wrapped them in softly. They could hear the solemn tick-tock of the clock across the room. It was the same clock that used to say reproachful things to Glory when she was a little child and had been naughty. Once she had climbed on a chair and stopped its accusing tongue, because she could not bear it any longer. It was talking to Glory now, and she could not make it say anything but "Dear—child! dear—child!" over and over, solemnly. It was Aunt Hope's voice it was trying to imitate. Glory laughed out softly, under her breath.
"What is it, dear child?"
"Dear—child! dear—child!" echoed the clock solemnly.
"I've got to get up and stop that clock!" Glory said.
* * * * *
The week before the graduating exercises at the Centre Town Seminary, Glory had another of her "ideas," and of course she carried it to Aunt Hope.
"Why not?" she said, when she had introduced it to her. "It would be like one of Tiny Tim's plays. He could go, too, and help us 'play' it, don't you see? I think I should enjoy graduating better if Diantha 'played graduate' with me. The teacher wouldn't care if she sat with me down on the end seat. I don't believe she ever had a white dress in her life—a soft, thin, floaty one."
"Would you like to have hers just like yours, Glory?"
"Just, auntie. She's the—the friendest friend I ever had," Glory said simply. "I'd like to have her close when I'm there getting ready to read."
And so it came about that graduation day found the Other Girl beside Glory, in a beautiful white dress that lay about her in soft, sheer folds. The Other Girl's face above it was shining and rapt. This was almost like graduating herself. On the other side of Glory sat Tiny Tim, in the conscious pride of his best suit. There was no little crutch in sight. Timmie had hidden it under the seat. He was playing "Uncrutchit."
"You can't see—an'thing, can you?" he whispered anxiously to the Other Girl, across Glory's lap.
"Not a splinter of it, Timmie."
"An' you don't see where my legs don't match, do you?"
"No, not a single bit."
"That's all right, then." Timmie's brow smoothed with relief. He was silent a moment, and then his little whispering voice again, this time to Glory:
"Say, isn't this just splendid! I'm playin', an' Di's playin'. You're the only one that's it, honest true."
Another silence. Then, "Say, I'm sorry I wokened you up that time, screamin' 'Fire!'"
Glory laughed down into the repentant little face. "I'll forgive you, Timmie," she whispered. And then the exercises began and the air was full of a blast of jubilant music.
When it was all over, the three went back to Little Douglas together on the train. There was to be a bit of a banquet in Aunt Hope's room.
Glory had a neat white parchment roll in her hand, and she held it shyly, as if she had not had time to get very well acquainted with it.
"To think this is a diploma with Gloria Wetherell in Latin inside it!" she cried.
"To think this is a beautiful white dress with me inside!" answered the Other Girl. "Do you know—oh, do you know, it doesn't smell of rubber at all? There isn't a whiff about it; it's just sweet and dainty and—other-folksy."
On the train the Crosspatch Conductor drew Glory aside a moment. His eyes rested first on the parchment roll.
"Got it, didn't you? Good! Well, I've got it too. She's consented—grandma has. I've told her all about the other one, and what you said, and it's going to be all right. We won't tell her yet until we get kind of used to it ourselves, don't you see?"
"Oh, I'm so glad!" cried Glory, clasping her hands. "I don't believe I ever can keep it. To think she'll leave that old rubber factory and be in a nice, pleasant home all the time, and help her folks, and be having some of her dreams come true. I wonder what she will say!"
"I thought we'd get her over to the house and have Danny tell her. He's a great one for setting things out."
"You're the best man I ever knew in the wide world!" said Glory. "But I can't keep it very long—you mustn't expect me to."
The conductor laughed. "All right—all right. I'll get grandma to write. I've got her address. One of the men down at the factory told me a good deal about her. There are many ways of finding out about folks when one sets about it."
"Well, you'll never find out anything about Diantha but what's nice," said Glory. "Oh! I'm so glad!" And not a happier girl than Gloria Wetherell could have been found in all that region.
As to the Other Girl, her heart nearly burst with its weight of happiness when she found out what was in store for her.
"It's Glory's doings. She has just glorified my whole life, and helped me to find the rainbow. And Timmie!—won't I find a rainbow for him too, bless him! And some day his legs shall be twins, if working can do it."