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0105_001E The Dawn of A To-morrow Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter IV

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They had gone out together and were standing in the fog in the court. The curate removed his hat and passed his handkerchief over his damp forehead, his breath coming and going almost sobbingly, his eyes staring straight before him into the yellowness of the haze.

"Who," he said after a moment of singular silence, "who are you?"

Antony Dart hesitated a few seconds, and at the end of his pause he put his hand into his overcoat pocket.

"If you will come upstairs with me to the room where the girl Glad lives, I will tell you," he said, "but before we go I want to hand something over to you."

The curate turned an amazed gaze upon him.

"What is it?" he asked.

Dart withdrew his hand from his pocket, and the pistol was in it.

"I came out this morning to buy this," he said. "I intended--never mind what I intended. A wrong turn taken in the fog brought me here. Take this thing from me and keep it."

The curate took the pistol and put it into his own pocket without comment. In the course of his labors he had seen desperate men and desperate things many times. He had even been--at moments--a desperate man thinking desperate things himself, though no human being had ever suspected the fact. This man had faced some tragedy, he could see. Had he been on the verge of a crime --had he looked murder in the eyes? What had made him pause? Was it possible that the dream of Jinny Montaubyn being in the air had reached his brain--his being?

He looked almost appealingly at him, but he only said aloud:

"Let us go upstairs, then."

So they went.

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As they passed the door of the room where the dead woman lay Dart went in and spoke to Miss Montaubyn, who was still there.

"If there are things wanted here," he said, "this will buy them." And he put some money into her hand.

She did not seem surprised at the incongruity of his shabbiness producing money.

"Well, now," she said, "I WAS wonderin' an' askin'. I'd like 'er clean an' nice, an' there's milk wanted bad for the biby."

In the room they mounted to Glad was trying to feed the child with bread softened in tea. Polly sat near her looking on with restless, eager eyes. She had never seen anything of her own baby but its limp newborn and dead body being carried away out of sight. She had not even dared to ask what was done with such poor little carrion. The tyranny of the law of life made her want to paw and touch this lately born thing, as her agony had given her no fruit of her own body to touch and paw and nuzzle and caress as mother creatures will whether they be women or tigresses or doves or female cats.

"Let me hold her, Glad," she half whimpered. "When she 's fed let me get her to sleep."

"All right," Glad answered; "we could look after 'er between us well enough."

The thief was still sitting on the hearth, but being full fed and comfortable for the first time in many a day, he had rested his head against the wall and fallen into profound sleep.

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The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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