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|The Dawn of A To-morrow||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 4 of 13||
"I couldn't tell my mother. I did not know how. I was too frightened and ashamed. Now it's too late. I shall never see my mother again, and it seems as if all the lambs and primroses in the world was dead. Oh, they're dead--they're dead-- and I wish I was, too!"
Glad's eyes winked rapidly and she gave a hoarse little cough to clear her throat. Her arms still clasping her knees, she hitched herself closer to the girl and gave her a nudge with her elbow.
"Buck up, Polly," she said, "we ain't none of us finished yet. Look at us now--sittin' by our own fire with bread and puddin' inside us-- an' think wot we was this mornin'. Who knows wot we 'll 'ave this time to-morrer."
Then she stopped and looked with a wide grin at Antony Dart.
"Ow did I come 'ere?" she said.
"Yes," he answered, "how did you come here?"
"I dunno," she said; "I was 'ere first thing I remember. I lived with a old woman in another 'ouse in the court. One mornin' when I woke up she was dead. Sometimes I've begged an' sold matches. Sometimes I've took care of women's children or 'elped 'em when they 'ad to lie up. I've seen a lot--but I like to see a lot. 'Ope I'll see a lot more afore I'm done. I'm used to bein' 'ungry an' cold, an' all that, but--but I allers like to see what's comin' to-morrer. There's allers somethin' else to-morrer. That's all about ME," and she chuckled again.
Dart picked up some fresh sticks and threw them on the fire. There was some fine crackling and a new flame leaped up.
"If you could do what you liked," he said, "what would you like to do?"
Her chuckle became an outright laugh.
"If I 'ad ten pounds?" she asked, evidently prepared to adjust herself in imagination to any form of un-looked-for good luck.
"If you had more?"
His tone made the thief lift his head to look at him.
"If I 'ad a wand like the one Jem told me was in the pantermine?"
"Yes," he answered.
She sat and stared at the fire a few moments, and then began to speak in a low luxuriating voice.
"I'd get a better room," she said, revelling. "There 's one in the next 'ouse. I'd 'ave a few sticks o' furnisher in it--a bed an' a chair or two. I'd get some warm petticuts an' a shawl an' a 'at--with a ostrich feather in it. Polly an' me 'd live together. We'd 'ave fire an' grub every day. I'd get drunken Bet's biby put in an 'ome. I'd 'elp the women when they 'ad to lie up. I'd--I'd 'elp 'IM a bit," with a jerk of her elbow toward the thief. "If 'e was kept fed p'r'aps 'e could work out that thing in 'is 'ead. I'd go round the court an' 'elp them with 'usbands that knocks 'em about. I'd--I'd put a stop to the knockin' about," a queer fixed look showing itself in her eyes. "If I 'ad money I could do it. 'Ow much," with sudden prudence, "could a body 'ave --with one o' them wands?"
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|The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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