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The Dawn of A To-morrow Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter III

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Dart hid his own face after the manner of the wretched curate.

"No wonder," he groaned. His blood turned cold.

"But," said Glad, "Miss Montaubyn's lidy she says Godamighty never done it nor never intended it, an' if we kep' sayin' an' believin' 'e 's close to us an' not millyuns o' miles away, we'd be took care of whilst we was alive an' not 'ave to wait till we was dead."

She got up on her feet and threw up her arms with a sudden jerk and involuntary gesture.

"I 'm alive! I 'm alive!" she cried out, "I've got ter be took care of NOW! That 's why I like wot she tells about it. So does the women. We ain't no more reason ter be sure of wot the curick says than ter be sure o' this. Dunno as I've got ter choose either way, but if I 'ad, I'd choose the cheerflest."

Dart had sat staring at her--so had Polly--so had the thief. Dart rubbed his forehead.

"I do not understand," he said.

" 'T ain't understanding! It 's believin'. Bless yer, SHE doesn't understand. I say, let's go an' talk to 'er a bit. She don't mind nothin', an' she'll let us in. We can leave Polly an' 'im 'ere. They can make some more tea an' drink it."

It ended in their going out of the room together again and stumbling once more down the stairway's crookedness. At the bottom of the first short flight they stopped in the darkness and Glad knocked at a door with a summons manifestly expectant of cheerful welcome. She used the formula she had used before.

" 'S on'y me, Miss Montaubyn," she cried out. " 'S on'y Glad."

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The door opened in wide welcome, and confronting them as she held its handle stood a small old woman with an astonishing face. It was astonishing because while it was withered and wrinkled with marks of past years which had once stamped their reckless unsavoriness upon its every line, some strange redeeming thing had happened to it and its expression was that of a creature to whom the opening of a door could only mean the entrance--the tumbling in as it were--of hopes realized. Its surface was swept clean of even the vaguest anticipation of anything not to be desired. Smiling as it did through the black doorway into the unrelieved shadow of the passage, it struck Antony Dart at once that it actually implied this-- and that in this place--and indeed in any place--nothing could have been more astonishing. What could, indeed?

"Well, well," she said, "come in, Glad, bless yer."

"I've brought a gent to 'ear yer talk a bit," Glad explained informally.

The small old woman raised her twinkling old face to look at him.

"Ah!" she said, as if summing up what was before her. " 'E thinks it 's worse than it is, doesn't 'e, now? Come in, sir, do."

This time it struck Dart that her look seemed actually to anticipate the evolving of some wonderful and desirable thing from himself. As if even his gloom carried with it treasure as yet undisplayed. As she knew nothing of the ten sovereigns, he wondered what, in God's name, she saw.

The poverty of the little square room had an odd cheer in it. Much scrubbing had removed from it the objections manifest in Glad's room above. There was a small red fire in the grate, a strip of old, but gay carpet before it, two chairs and a table were covered with a harlequin patchwork made of bright odds and ends of all sizes and shapes. The fog in all its murky volume could not quite obscure the brightness of the often rubbed window and its harlequin curtain drawn across upon a string.

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The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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