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The Dawn of A To-morrow Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter III

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"Bless yer," said Miss Montaubyn, "sit down."

Dart sat and thanked her. Glad dropped upon the floor and girdled her knees comfortably while Miss Montaubyn took the second chair, which was close to the table, and snuffed the candle which stood near a basket of colored scraps such as, without doubt, had made the harlequin curtain.

"Yer won't mind me goin' on with me bit o' work?" she chirped.

"Tell 'im wot it is," Glad suggested.

"They come from a dressmaker as is in a small way," designating the scraps by a gesture. "I clean up for 'er an' she lets me 'ave 'em. I make 'em up into anythink I can--pin-cushions an' bags an' curtings an' balls. Nobody'd think wot they run to sometimes. Now an' then I sell some of 'em. Wot I can't sell I give away."

"Drunken Bet's biby plays with 'er ball all day," said Glad.

"Ah!" said Miss Montaubyn, drawing out a long needleful of thread, "Bet, SHE thinks it worse than it is."

"Could it be worse?" asked Dart. "Could anything be worse than everything is?"

"Lots," suggested Glad; "might 'ave broke your back, might 'ave a fever, might be in jail for knifin' someone. 'E wants to 'ear you talk, Miss Montaubyn; tell 'im all about yerself."

"Me!" her expectant eyes on him. " 'E wouldn't want to 'ear it. I shouldn't want to 'ear it myself. Bein' on the 'alls when yer a pretty girl ain't an 'elpful life; an' bein' took up an' dropped down till yer dropped in the gutter an' don't know 'ow to get out--it 's wot yer mustn't let yer mind go back to."

"That 's wot the lidy said," called out Glad. "Tell 'im about the lidy. She doesn't even know who she was." The remark was tossed to Dart.

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"Never even 'eard 'er name," with unabated cheer said Miss Montaubyn. "She come an' she went an' me too low to do anything but lie an' look at 'er and listen. An' `Which of us two is mad?' I ses to myself. But I lay thinkin' and thinkin'--an' it was so cheerfle I couldn't get it out of me 'ead--nor never 'ave since."

"What did she say?"

"I couldn't remember the words --it was the way they took away things a body 's afraid of. It was about things never 'avin' really been like wot we thought they was. Godamighty now, there ain't a bit of 'arm in 'im."

"What?" he said with a start.

" 'E never done the accidents and the trouble. It was us as went out of the light into the dark. If we'd kep' in the light all the time, an' thought about it, an' talked about it, we'd never 'ad nothin' else. 'Tain't punishment neither. 'T ain't nothin' but the dark--an' the dark ain't nothin' but the light bein' away. `Keep in the light,' she ses, `never think of nothin' else, an' then you'll begin an' see things. Everybody's been afraid. There ain't no need. You believe THAT.' "

"Believe?" said Dart heavily.

She nodded.

" `Yes,' ses I to 'er, `that 's where the trouble comes in--believin'.' And she answers as cool as could be: `Yes, it is,' she ses, `we've all been thinkin' we've been believin', an' none of us 'as. If we 'ad what 'd there be to be afraid of? If we believed a king was givin' us our livin' an' takin' care of us who'd be afraid of not 'avin' enough to eat?' "

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The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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