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Amarilly of Clothes-line Alley by Belle K. Maniates

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and your midday meal."

Amarilly, well satisfied with her new opening, closed the bargain
instantly.

The next morning at seven o'clock she rang the studio bell. The artist,
attired in a bathrobe and rubbing his eyes sleepily, opened the door.

"This was the day I was to clean," reminded Amarilly reprovingly.

"To be sure. But why so early? I thought you were a telegram."

"Early! It's seven o'clock."

"I still claim it's early. I have only been in bed four hours."

"Well, you kin go back to bed. I'll work orful quiet."

"And I can trust you not to touch any of the pictures or move anything?"

"I'll be keerful," Amarilly assured him. "Jest show me whar to het up
the water. I brung the soap and a brush."

The artist lighted a gas stove, and, after carefully donning a long-
sleeved apron, Amarilly put the water on and began operations. Her eyes
shone with anticipation as she looked about her.

"I'm glad it's so dirty," she remarked. "It's more interestin' to clean
a dirty place. Then what you do shows up, and you feel you earnt your
money."

With a laugh the artist returned to his bedroom, whence he emerged three
hours later.

"This room is all cleaned," announced Amarilly. "It took me so long
'cause it's so orful big and then 'twas so turrible dirty."

"You must have worked like a little Trojan. Now stop a bit while I
prepare my breakfast."

"Kin you cook?" asked Amarilly in astonishment.

"I can make coffee and poach eggs. Come into my butler's pantry and
watch me."

Amarilly followed him into a small apartment and was initiated into the
mysteries of electric toasters and percolators.

He tried in vain to induce her to share his meal with him, but she
protested.

"I hed my breakfast at five-thirty. I don't eat agin till noon."

"Oh, Miss Jenkins! You have no artistic temperament or you would not
cling to ironclad rules."

"My name's Amarilly," she answered shortly. "I ain't old enough to be
'missed' yet."

"I beg your pardon, Amarilly. You seem any age," he replied, sitting
down to his breakfast, "You are not too old, then, for me to ask what
your age is--in years?"

"I jest got into my teens."

"Thirteen. And I am ten years older. When is your birthday?"

"It's ben. It was the fust of June."

"Why, Amarilly," jumping up and holding out his hand, "we are twins!
That is my birthday."

"And you are twenty-three."

"Right you are. That is my age at the present moment. Last night I was
far older, and to-morrow, mayhap, I'll be years younger."

"Be you a Christian Science?" she asked doubtfully.

"Lord, no, child! I am an artist. What made you ask that?"

"'Cause they don't believe in age. Miss Jupperskin told me about 'em.
She's workin' up to it. But I must go back to my work."

"So must I, Amarilly. My model will be here in a few moments to don your
surplice. If you want to clean up my breakfast dishes you may do so, and
then tackle the bedroom and the rest of the apartment."

Three hours later, Amarilly went into the studio. The model had gone,
and the artist stood before his easel surveying his sketch with
approval.

"This is going to be a good picture, Amarilly. The model caught my idea.
There is some fore--"

"Mr. Phillips!"

"My name is Derry. I am too young to be 'mistered.'"

There was no response, and with a smile he turned inquiringly toward
her. There was a wan little droop about the corners of her eyes and lips
that brought contrition to his boyish heart.

"Amarilly you are tired! You have worked too steadily. Sit down and rest
awhile."

"'Tain't that! I'm hungry. Kin I het up the coffee and--"

"Good gracious, Amarilly! I forgot you ate at regular, stated intervals.
We will go right out now to a nice little restaurant near by and eat our
luncheon together."

Amarilly flushed.

"Thank you, Mr. Derry. That's orful nice in you, but I'd ruther eat
here. Thar's the toast and coffee to het, and an aig--"

"No! You are going to have a good, square meal and eat it with me. You
see I had to eat my birthday dinner all alone, so we'll celebrate the
first of June now, together. Slip off your apron. By the way, some day I
shall paint a picture of you in that apron scrubbing my 'mopboard.'"

Amarilly shook her head.

"I don't look fit to go nowhars with you, Mr. Derry."

"Vanitas, and the rest of it! Oh, Amarilly, only thirteen, and the
ruling passion of your sex already in full sway!"

"It's on your account that I'm ashamed," she said in defence of his
accusation. "I'd want ter look nice fer you."

"That's sweet of you, Amarilly; but if you really want to look nice,
don't think of your clothes. It's other things. Think of your hair, for
instance. It's your best point, and yet you hide it under a bushel and,
worse than that, you braid it so tight I verily believe it's wired."

"I'm used to bein' teased about my red head," she replied. "I don't
keer."

"It's a glorious red, Amarilly. The color the vulgar jeer at, and
artists like your friend and twin, Derry, rave over. You're what is
called 'Titian-haired,'"

"Are you makin' fun, Mr. Derry?" she asked suspiciously.

"No, Amarilly; seriously, I think it the loveliest shade of hair there
is, and now I am going to show you how you should wear it. Unbind it,
all four of those skin-tight braids."

She obeyed him, and a loosened, thick mass of hair fell below her waist.

"Glorious!" he cried fervidly. "Take that comb from the top of your head
and comb it out. There! Now part it, and catch up these strands
loosely--so. I must find a ribbon for a bow. What color would you
suggest, Amarilly?"

"Brown."

"Bravo, Amarilly. If you had said blue, I should have lost all faith in
your future upcoming. Here are two most beautiful brown bows on this
thingamajig some one gave me last Christmas, and whose claim on creation
I never discovered. Let me braid your hair loosely for two and
one-quarter inches. One bow here--another there. Look in the glass,
Amarilly. If I give you these bows will you promise me never to wear
your hair in any other fashion until you are sixteen at least? Off with
your apron! It's picturesque, but soapy and exceedingly wet. You won't
need a hat. It's only around the corner, and I want your hair to be
observed and admired."

Amarilly gained assurance from the reflection of her hair in the mirror,
and they started gayly forth like two school children out for a lark. He
ushered her into a quiet little caf that had an air of pronounced
elegance about it. In a secluded corner behind some palms came the
subdued notes of stringed instruments. Derry seemed to be well known
here, and his waiter viewed his approach with an air of proprietorship.

"It's dead quiet here," thought Amarilly wonderingly. "Like a church."

It was beginning to dawn upon her alert little brain that real things
were all quiet, not noisy like the theatre.

"What shall we have first, Amarilly?" inquired her new friend with mock
deference. "Bouillon?"

Amarilly, recalling the one time in her life when she had had
"luncheon," replied casually that she preferred fruit, and suggested a
melon.

"Good, Amarilly! You are a natural epicure. Fruit, certainly, on a warm
day like this. I shall let you select all the courses. What next?"

"Lobster," she replied nonchalantly.

"Fine! And then?"

"Grapefruit salad."

He looked at her in amazement, and reflected that she had doubtless been
employed in some capacity that had made her acquainted with luncheon
menus.

"And," concluded Amarilly, without waiting for prompting, "I think an
ice would be about right. And coffee in a little cup, and some cheese."

"By all means, Amarilly," he responded humbly. "And what kind of cheese,
please?"

"Now I'm stumped," thought Amarilly ruefully, "fer I can't 'member how
to speak the kind she hed."

"Most any kind," she said loftily, "except that kind you put in
mousetraps."

"Oh, Amarilly, you are a true aristocrat! How comes it that you scrub
floors? Is it on a bet?"

The waiter came up and said something to the artist in a low tone, and
Derry replied hastily:

"Nothing to-day." Then, turning to Amarilly, he asked her if she would
like a glass of milk. Upon her assent, he ordered two glasses of milk,
to the veiled surprise of the waiter.

When the luncheon was served, Amarilly, by reason of her good memory,
was still at ease. The children at the Guild school had been given a few
general rules in table deportment, but Amarilly had followed every
movement of Colette's so faithfully at the eventful luncheon that she
ate very slowly, used the proper forks and spoons, and won Derry's
undisguised admiration.

"Mr. Vedder's, good," she thought. "Mr. St. John's grand, but this 'ere
Mr. Derry's folksy. I'd be skeert settin' here eatin' with Mr. St. John,
but this feller's only a kid, and I feel quite to hum with him."

"Amarilly," he said confidentially, as they were sipping their coffee
from "little cups," "you are truthful, I know. Will you be perfectly
frank with me and answer a question?"

"Mebby," she replied warily.

"Did you ever eat a luncheon like this before?"

"I never seen the inside of a restyrant afore," she replied.

"Now you are fencing. I mean, did you ever have the same things to eat
that we had just now?"

Amarilly hesitated, longing to mystify him further, but it came over her
in a rush how very kind he had been to her.

"Yes, I hev. I'll tell you all about it."

"Good! An after-dinner story! Beat her up, Amarilly!"

So she told him of her patroness and the luncheon she had eaten at her
house.

"And I watched how she et and done, and she tole me the names of the
things we hed. I writ them out, and that was my lesson that night with
the Boarder."

Then, of course, Derry must know all about the Boarder and the brothers.
After she had finished her faithful descriptions, it was time to return
to the studio. Her quick, keen eyes had noted the size of the bill Derry
had put on the salver, and the small amount of change he had received.
She walked home beside him in troubled silence.

"What's the matter, Amarilly?" he asked as she was buttoning on her
apron preparatory to resuming work. "Didn't the luncheon agree with you,
or are you mad at me? And for why, pray?"

Amarilly's thin little face flushed and a tear came into each thoughtful
eye.

"I hedn't orter to hev tole you ter git all them things. I was atryin'
ter be smart and show off, but, honest, I didn't know they was agoin'
ter cost so much. I ain't agoin' ter take no money fer the cleanin', and
that'll help some."

Derry laughed rapturously.

"My dear child!" he exclaimed, when he could speak. "You are a veritable
little field daisy. You really saved me money by going with me. If I had
gone alone, I should have spent twice as much."

"How could that be?" she asked unbelievingly. "You would only hev give
one order, so 'twould hev ben jest half as much."

"But if you had not been with me, I should have had a cocktail and a
bottle of wine, which would have cost more than our meal. Out of
deference to your youth and other things, I forbore to indulge. So you
see I saved money by having you along. And then it was much better for
me not to have had those libations."

"Honest true?"

"Honest true, hope to die! Cross my heart and all the rest of it! I'd
lie cheerfully to some people, but never to you, Amarilly."

"My. Reeves-Eggleston--he's on the stage--said artists was allers poor."

"That's one reason why I am not an artist--a great artist. I am hampered
by an inheritance that allows me to live without working, so I don't do
anything worth while. I only dabble at this and that. Some day, maybe,
I'll have an inspiration."

"Go to work now," she admonished.

"I must perforce. My model's foot is on the stair."

Amarilly left the studio to resume her cleaning. At five o'clock she
came back. Derry stood at the window, working furiously at some fleecy
clouds sailing over a cerulean sky. She was about to speak, but
discerning that he must work speedily and uninterruptedly to keep pace
with the shifting clouds, she refrained.

"There!" he said. "I got it. You were a good little girl not to
interrupt me, Amarilly."

"It's beautiful!" gasped Amarilly. "I was afeard you'd git the sky blue
instead of purplish and that you'd make the clouds too white."

"Amarilly, you've the soul of an artist! In you I have found a true
critic."

"Come and see if the rooms is all right. I got 'em real clean. Every
nook and corner. And--"

"I know you did, Amarilly, without looking. I can smell the clean from
here."

"If thar's nothin' more you want did, I'll go hum."

"Here's a dollar for the rooms and two dollars for the surplice.
Amarilly, you were glad to learn table manners from Miss King, weren't
you?"

"Yes; I like to larn all I kin."

"Then, will you let me teach you something?"

"Sure!" she acquiesced quickly.

"There are two things you must do for me. Never say 'et'; say 'ate'
instead. Then you must say 'can'; not 'kin.' It will be hard to remember
at first, but every time you forget and make a mistake, remember to-day
and our jolly little luncheon, will you?"

"I will, and I _can_, Mr. Derry."

"You're an apt little pupil, Amarilly, and I am going to teach you two
words every time you come."

"Oh!" exclaimed Amarilly, brightening. "Will you want me ter come agin?"

"Indeed I shall. I am going away next week to the mountains for a couple
of months. When I come back, I am going to have you come every morning
at nine o'clock. You can prepare and serve my simple breakfast and clean
my rooms every day. Then they won't get so disreputable. I will pay you
what they do at the theatre, and it will not be such hard work. Will you
enjoy it as well?"

"Oh, better!" exclaimed Amarilly.

And with this naive admission died the last spark of Amarilly's
stage-lust.

"Then consider yourself engaged. You can call for the surplice to-morrow
afternoon at this hour."

"Thank you, Mr. Derry."

She hesitated, and then awkwardly extended her hand, which he shook most
cordially.

"Thank you for a day's entertainment, Amarilly. I haven't been bored
once. You have very nice hands," looking down at the one he still held.

She reddened and jerked her hand quickly away.

"Now you _are_ kiddin'! They're redder than my hair, and rough and big."

"I repeat, Amarilly, you have nice hands. It isn't size and color that
counts; it's shape, and from an artist's standpoint you have shapely
hands. Now will you be good, and shake hands with me in a perfectly
ladylike way? Thank you, Amarilly."

"Thank _you_, Mr. Derry. It's the beautifulest day I ever hed. Better'n
the matine or the Guild or--" she drew a quick breath and said in a
scared whisper--"the church!"

"I am flattered, Amarilly. We shall have many ruby-lettered days like
it."

CHAPTER X

The next afternoon Amarilly called at the studio for the surplice.

"I am glad to see you have your hair fixed as I told you, Amarilly," was
Derry's greeting. "And have you remembered the other things I told you?"

"I hev' writ out 'can' and 'ate' in big letters and pinned 'em up on the
wall. I can say 'em right every time now."

"Of course you can! And for a reward here's a dollar with which to buy
some black velvet hair-ribbons. Never put any color but black or brown
near your hair, Amarilly."

"No, Mr. Derry; but I don't want to take the dollar."

"See here, Amarilly! You're to be my little housemaid, and the uniform
is always provided. Instead of buying you a cap and apron, I prefer to
furnish velvet hair-ribbons. Take it, and get a good quality silk
velvet. And now, good-by for two months. I will let you know when I am
home so that you may begin on your duties."

"Good-by, Mr. Derry," said the little girl artlessly. "And thar's
something I'd like to say to you, if you don't mind."

"You may say anything--everything--to me, Amarilly."

"When you go to eat, won't you order jest as ef I was with you--nothin'
more?"

His fair boyish face reddened slightly, and then a serious look came
into his dancing eyes.

"By Jove, Amarilly! I've been wishing some girl who really meant it, who
really cared, would say that to me. You put it very delicately and
sweetly. I'll--yes, I'll do it all the time I'm gone. There's my hand on
it. Good-by, Amarilly."

"Good-by, Mr. Derry."

Amarilly walked home very slowly, trying to think of a way to realize
again from the surplice.

"I'm afeerd I won't find a place to rent it right away," she sighed.

Looking up, she saw the Boarder. A slender, shy slip of a girl had his
arm, and he was gazing into her intent eyes with a look of adoration.

"Oh, the Boarder is in love!" gasped Amarilly; her responsive little
heart leaping in sympathetic interest. "That's why he's wore a blue
necktie the last few days. Lord Algernon said that was allers a sure
sign."

She tactfully slipped around a corner, unseen by the entranced couple.

That night, as he was lighting his after-supper pipe, the Boarder
remarked casually:

"I'd like to rent the surplus fer an hour to-morrer, Amarilly."

"Why, what on airth can you do with it?" was the astonished query.

The Boarder looked sheepish.

"You see, Amarilly, I'm akeepin' stiddy company with a little gal."

"I seen you and her this arternoon. She's orful purty," said Amarilly
reflectively. "She looked kinder delikit, though. What's her name?"

"Lily--Lily Rose. Ain't that a purty name?"

"Beautiful. The lily part jest suits her. She's like a flower--a white
flower. But what do you want the surplus fer?"

"You see," began the Boarder, coming by circuitous route to his subject,
"gals git notions in their heads sometimes when they air in--"

"Love," promptly supplied the comprehending little girl.

"Yes," he assented with a fiery blush. "And she wants fer me to hev my
likeness took so I kin give it to her."

"Thar ain't nothin' foolish about that!" declared Amarilly.

"No; but I never sot fer one yet. I wouldn't mind, but you see she's got
it in her head that I am good-looking--"

"Well, you be," corroborated Amarilly decisively.

"And she wants me fer to dress up like a preacher. I told her about
Hallie Hudgers lookin' so swell in the surplus, and she wants, as I
should dress up in it and set fer my likeness in it."

"I think it would be fine!" approved Amarilly. "You sure would look
nicer nor Hallie did."

"Well, I wouldn't look like a dead one," admitted the Boarder. "But I
was orful afraid you'd laugh. Then I kin rent it fer an hour to-morrer
ef it ain't got no other dates."

"You can't _rent_ it. You can take it fer an hour, or so long as you
like," she assured him.

"You'll hev to take a quarter anyway, fer luck. Mebby 'twill bring me
luck awinnin' her."

The photograph of the Boarder in saintly attire was pronounced a great
success. Before the presentation he had it set in a frame made of gilt
network studded with shells.

Lily Rose spent her leisure moments gazing upon it with the dream-
centred eyes of a young devotee before a shrine.

The next wearing of the surplice was more in accord with its original
design. In the precinct adjoining the one in which lived and let live
the Jenkins family, a colored Episcopal church had recently been
established. The rector had but one surplice, and that had been stolen
from the clothes-line, mayhap by one of his dusky flock; thus it was
that Amarilly received a call from the Reverend Virgil Washington, who
had heard of the errant surplice, which he offered to purchase.

Naturally his proposition was met by a firm and unalterable refusal. It
would have been like selling a golden goose to dispose of such a
profitable commodity. He then asked to rent it for a Sunday while he was
having one made. This application, being quite in Amarilly's line of
business, met with a ready assent.

"You can hev it fer a dollar," she offered.

The bargain was finally closed, although it gave Amarilly more than a
passing pang to think of the snowy folds of Mr. St. John's garment
adorning an Ethiopian form.

One day there came to the Jenkins home a most unusual caller. The novel
presence of the "mailman" at their door brought every neighbor to post
of observation. His call was for the purpose of leaving a gayly-colored
postal card addressed to "Miss Amarilly Jenkins." It was from Derry, and
she spent many happy moments in deciphering it. His writing was
microscopic, and he managed to convey a great deal of information in the
allotted small space. He inquired solicitously concerning the surplice,
and bade her be a good girl and not forget the two words he had taught
her. "I have ordered all my meals as though you were with me," he wrote
in conclusion.

Amarilly laid the card away with her wedding waist. Then, with the
Boarder's aid, she indited an answer on a card that depicted the Barlow
Theatre.

The next event for Amarilly was an invitation to attend the wedding of
Mrs. Hubbleston, a buxom, bustling widow for whom Mrs. Jenkins washed.
In delivering the clothes, Amarilly had come to be on very friendly
terms with the big, light-hearted woman, and so she had been asked to
assist in the serving of refreshments on the eventful night.

"I've never been to a wedding," said Amarilly wistfully. "I've been to
most everything else, and I would like to see you wed, but I ain't got
no clo'es 'cept my hair-ribbons."

Mrs. Hubbleston looked at her contemplatively.

"My last husband's niece's little girl left a dress here once when she
was going home after a visit. She had hardly worn it, but she had
outgrown it, and her ma told me to give it away. I had 'most forgotten
about it. I believe it would just fit you. Let us see."

She produced a white dress that adjusted itself comfortably to
Amarilly's form.

"You look real pretty in white, Amarilly. You shall have this dress for
your own."

On the nuptial night Amarilly, clad in the white gown and with black
velvet hair-ribbons, went forth at an early hour to the house of
festivity.

Mrs. Hubbleston, resplendent in a glittering jetted gown, came into the
kitchen to see that things were progressing properly.

"Ain't you flustered?" asked Amarilly, looking at her in awe.

"Land, no, child! I have been married four times before this, you see,
so it comes natural. There goes the doorbell. It must be Mr. Jimmels and
the minister."

In a few moments she returned to the kitchen for sympathy.

"I am so disappointed," she sighed, "but then, I might have expected
something would happen. It always does at my weddings."

"What is it?" asked Amarilly, apprehensive lest the wedding might be
declared off.

"I've been married once by a Baptist minister, once by a Methodist, and
the third time by a Congregationalist; last time a Unitarian tied the
knot. So this once I thought I would have an Episcopal, because their
white robe lends tone. And Rev. Mr. Woodthorn has come without his. He
says he never brings it to the house weddings unless specially
requested. He lives clear across the city, and the carriage has gone
away."

"Oh, I have a surplus!" cried Amarilly enthusiastically. "I'll telephone
our grocer. Milt's ahelpin' him to-night, and he can ride over here on
the grocer's wheel and fetch it."

"Why, how in the world did you come by such a thing as a surplice?"
asked the widow in surprise.

Amarilly quickly explained, and then telephoned to her brother.

"He says he'll be over here in a jiffy," she announced. "And ain't it
lucky, it's jest been did up clean!"

"My, but that's fortunate! It'll be the making of my wedding. I shall
give you a dollar for the use of it, the same as those others did."

"No!" objected Amarilly. "Ill be more than glad to let you hev it arter
your givin' me this fine dress."

"I'll have Mr. Jimmels pay you for it. He can take a dollar out of the
fee for the minister. It will serve him right for not bringing all his
trappings with him."

Amarilly's sense of justice was appeased by this arrangement. She went
into the double parlors to witness the ceremony, which gave her a few
little heart thrills.

"Them words sounds orful nice," she thought approvingly. "The Boarder
and Lily Rose must hev an Episcopal fer to marry them. I wonder if I'll
ever get to Miss King's and Mr. St. John's weddin' or Mr. Derry's; but I
guess he'll never be married. He jokes too much to be thinkin' of sech
things." Then came the thought of her own wedding garment awaiting its
destiny.

"I ain't even hed a beau, yet," she sighed, "but the Boarder says that I
will--that red-headed girls ain't never old maids from ch'ice."

With this sustaining thought, she proceeded to the dining-room. She had
been taught at the Guild how to wait on table, and she proved herself to
be very deft and capable in putting her instructions into effect.

"Here's two dollars," the complacent bride said to Amarilly before
departing. "One is for serving so nicely, and one is for the surplice. I
told them in the kitchen to put you up a basket of things to take home
to the children."

Amarilly thanked her profusely and then went home. She deposited her two
dollars in the family exchequer, and proceeded to distribute the
contents of the basket.

"Now, set around the table here, and take what I give you. Thar ain't
enough of one thing to go hull way round, except fer ma. She's agoin' to
hev some of each. Yes, you be, ma. This here baskit's mine. Here's a
sandwich, some chicken, salid, jell, two kinds of cake, and some ice-
cream fer you. Bud can hev first pick now, 'cause he ain't so strong as
the rest of you. All right, Bud; take the rest of the ice-cream and some
cake."

"'Tain't fair! I'm a girl, and I'm younger than Bud. I'd orter choose
first," sobbed Cory.

"Shut up, Co! You'll wake Iry, and then he'll hev to hev something, and
if he sleeps right through, thar'll be jest so much more fer you.
'Twon't hurt him to miss what he don't know about. All right, Cory, you
can hev cake and jell. That's a good boy, Bud, to give her two tastes of
the cream, and ma'll give you two more. Bobby? Sandwiches and pickle.
Milt? Chicken and salid. Flammy and Gus, pickle and sandwich is all
that's left fer you. The rest of this chicken is agoin' into the
Boarder's dinner pail to-morrer."

CHAPTER XI

Milton came home from the grocery one night with a telephone message
from Mr. Vedder requesting Amarilly to bring the surplice to his rooms
on the next day.

"How is business?" asked the ticket-seller kindly, when the little girl
appeared in answer to his summons.

"Fine! The surplus has brung in nine dollars and seventy-five cents
a'ready. It's kept things goin'."

"The theatre will open in a couple of weeks, and then you will have
steady work, though I wish we might get an easier and pleasanter
occupation for you."

"I'm agoin' to hev one, Mr. Vedder," and she proceeded to tell him of
Derry and her engagement at his studio.

"It kinder seems as if I b'longed to the theayter, and you've been so
orful kind to me, Mr. Vedder, that it'll seem strange-like not to be
here, but Mr. Phillips's work'll be a snap fer me."

"You've been a good, faithful little girl, Amarilly, and I shall want to
keep track of you and see you occasionally, so I am going to give you a
pass to every Saturday matine during the winter."

"Oh, Mr. Vedder, there's been no one so good as you've been to me! And
you never laugh at me like other folks do."

"No, indeed, child! Why should I? But I never knew before that you had
such beautiful hair!"

"It's 'cause it's fixed better," said Amarilly with a blush. "But who
wants the surplus this time?"

"I do," he replied smiling. "I am invited to a sheet and pillow-case
party. I thought this surplice would be more comfortable than a sheet.
Here's a dollar for it."

"No," declined Amarilly firmly. "Not arter all you've done fer us. I
won't take it."

"Amarilly," he said earnestly. "I have no one in the world to do
anything for, and sometimes, when I get to thinking about it, I am very
lonely. So if you want to be kind to me, you will give me the pleasure
of helping you a little now and then. I shall not enjoy the party unless
you will take the money."

Amarilly cried a little that night, thinking how good he was.

"I hed orter like him best of all," she thought reproachfully.

Two or three days later Pete Noyes came to the house.

"Hello, Amarilly! I ain't seen yer in so long I'd fergit how you looked.
Say, why didn't you ever fix yer hair that way afore? It looks swell,
even if it is red!"

"I am older now," she explained in superior, lofty tones, "and of course
I hev to think more about my looks than I used ter."

He gazed at her with such ardent admiration that she was seized with an
impulse to don her white dress and impress his young fancy still
further.

"He ain't wuth it, though," her sober second thought decided.

"What does yer think I come fer, Amarilly?"

"I dunno, 'less Mr. Vedder sent you."

"He did, sorter. You see, I'm invited to one of them kind of parties
whar you dress up ter be the name of a book. One of the stock company is
givin' it fer her kids. I don't know the name of any book except
_Diamond Dick_ and _The Curse of Gold_, and I didn't know how to rig up
fer them. I went to Vedder, and he sez thar's a book what's called _The
Little Minister_, and I could rent yer surplus and tog out in it. He
said you would take tucks in it fer me."

"Sure I will. I'll fix it now while you wait, Pete."

"Say, Amarilly, I thought as how, seein' we are both in the perfesshun,
sorter, you'd come down on your price."

"Sure thing, Pete. I won't charge you nothin' fer it."

"Yes; I wanter pay. I'll tell you what, Amarilly, couldn't you take it
out in gum? I hed a hull lot left over when the theayter shut down.
It'll git stale ef I keep it much longer, and I'd like to git some of it
offen my hands."

"Sure, I will, Pete. We all like gum, and we can't afford to buy it very
often. That'll be dandy."

Thus it was that for the next fortnight the Jenkins family revelled in
the indulgence of a hitherto denied but dearly prized luxury. Their jaws
worked constantly and joyously, although differently. Mrs. Jenkins, by
reason of depending upon her third set of teeth, chewed cautiously and
with camel-like precision. The Boarder, having had long practice in the
art, craunched at railway speed. The older boys munched steadily and
easily, while Bud and Bobby pecked intermittently in short nibbles.
Amarilly had the "star method," which they all vainly tried to emulate.
At short and regular intervals a torpedo-like report issued from the gum
as she snapped her teeth down upon it. Cory kept hers strung out
elastically from her mouth, occasionally rolling it back.

The liberal supply of the luxury rapidly diminished, owing to the fact
that Iry swallowed his allowance after ineffectual efforts to retain it
in his mouth, and then like Oliver Twist pleaded for more.

"I declare fer it!" remarked Mrs. Hudgers to Amarilly. "That child's
insides will all be stuck together. I should think yer ma would be
afeard to let him chaw so much."

"He's ateethin', and it sorter soothes his gums," explained Amarilly.

During the summer season, Pete had pursued his profession at a
vaudeville theatre, and one day, not long after his literary
representation, he came to Amarilly with some good tidings.

"I hev another job fer yer surplus. Down to the vawdyville they're goin'
to put on a piece what has a preacher in it, and I tole them about yer
surplus, and the leadin' man, who is to be the preacher, says 'twould
lend to the settin's to wear it. I told him mebby you'd let him hev the
use on it fer a week fer five dollars. He said he could buy the stuff
and make a dozen fer that price, but they gotter start the piece
to-night so that'd be no time to make one. I'll take it down to them
to-night."

This was the longest and most remunerative act of the surplice, and
served to pay for a very long accruing milk bill. When the engagement at
the vaudeville ended, the Boarder came to the rescue.

"Thar's a friend of mine what brakes, and he wants the surplus to wear
to a maskyrade. I told him he could go as a preacher. He's asavin' to
git merried, so he don't want to give much."

"He shell hev it fer a quarter," said Amarilly, friend to all lovers,
"and I'll lend him a mask. I hev one the property man at the theayter
give me."

CHAPTER XII

"I wonder," meditated Gus, "where the surplus will land next?"

"It has been most everywhere except to the police court," said Bobby.
"'Spect 'twill land there next!"

His prophecy was fulfilled. Mrs. Jenkins washed the lucrative garment
late one afternoon and left it on the line all night. The next morning,
to the great consternation of the family and the wild distress of
Amarilly, the beloved surplice, that friend of friends in time of need,
had vanished. Other clotheslines in the vicinity had also been deprived
of their burdens, and a concerted complaint was made to the police, who
promptly located the offender and brought him summarily to trial. Mrs.
Jenkins was subpoenaed as a witness, which caused quite a ripple of
excitement in the family. Divided between dread of appearing in public
and pride at the importance with which she was regarded by her little
flock, Mrs. Jenkins was quite upset by the occasion. She hadn't attended
a function for so long that her costuming therefor was of more concern
than had been Amarilly's church raiment.

Mrs. Hudgers loaned her mourning bonnet and veil, which was adjusted at
half mast. They appeared in direct contradiction to the skirt of bilious
green she wore, but the Jenkinses were as unconventional in attire as
they were in other things.

The family attended the trial _en masse_, and were greatly elated at the
prominence their mother had attained. The culprit was convicted and the
surplice duly restored. The misfortune was not without profit. Mrs.
Jenkins received thirty-five cents as a witness fee.

They had managed to pay their household expenses through the summer, but
when the rent for August was due there was not quite enough cash on hand
to meet this important item of expenditure. Noting the troubled brows of
Mrs. Jenkins and Amarilly at breakfast time, the Boarder insisted on
knowing the cause.

"We're broke, and the rent's overdue," tersely explained Amarilly.

"I'm broke, too," sighed the Boarder, "except what I've got in the
savin's bank towards--"

"Lily Rose," suggested Amarilly softly.

"Yes," he admitted, with a beaming look. "But when I go broke, all other
things failin', I allers tackle a pawnbroker."

"We ain't got nothin' to pawn," sighed Amarilly.

She recalled the lace waist, but that, like the Lily Rose fund, was
sacred. There was always, to-day, yesterday, and forever, the surplice,
and her scruples regarding that article had of necessity become case-
hardened; still, Amarilly hesitated. A pawnshop seemed lower than a
police court.

"It's been everywhere else," she said loudly to the accusing, still,
small voice, "and it might jest as well go the limit. 'T won't bring
much, but 'twill help."

Through byways and highways Amarilly sought the region of the three-
balled porticoes. The shop of one Max Solstein attracted her, and she
entered his open door. Max, rat-eyed and frog-mouthed, came forward
propitiatingly.

"What'll you gimme on this?" came with directness from the small
importuner.

He took the garment, shook it, and held it up for falcon-gaze
inspection.

"Not worth much. A quarter of a dollar."

Amarilly snatched it from his grasp and fled. Not because of his low-
figured offer; she had fully expected to have to "beat him up." But when
she had entered, a youth who had all the recognized earmarks of a
reporter was lounging in the doorway. At sight of the uplifted garment
he had come eagerly forward, scenting a story. She knew his kind from
snatches of conversation she had heard between the leading lady and Lord
Algernon. In the lore of the stage at Barlow's, reporters were "hovering
vultures" who always dropped down when least wanted, and they had a way
of dragging to light the innermost thoughts of their victims.

"You read your secrets," Lord Algernon had dramatically declared, "in
blazoned headlines."

Hitherto Amarilly had effectually silenced her instinctive rebellion
against the profaning of St. John's surplice, but she had reached the
limit. No Max Solstein, no threatening landlord, no ruthless reporter
should thrust the sacred surplice into the publicity of print.

She darted from the shop, the reporter right at her heels, but the
chasing of his covey to corner was not easily accomplished. He was a
newly fledged reporter, and Amarilly had all the instinct of the lowly
for localities. She turned and doubled and dodged successfully. By a
course circuitous she returned to Hebrew haunts, this time to seek, one
Abram Canter, a little wizened, gnome-like Jew. Assuring herself that
there was no other than the proprietor within, Amarilly entered and
handed over the surplice for appraisal.

Once more the garment was held aloft. At that psychological moment an
elderly man of buxom build, benevolent in mien, and with smooth, long
hair that had an upward rolling tendency at the ends, looked in the shop
as he was passing. He halted, hesitated, and then entered. Of him,
however, Amarilly felt no apprehension.

"Looks like Quaker Oats, or mebby it's the Jack of Spades," she thought
after a searching survey.

"My child, is that yours?" he asked of Amarilly, indicating the garment
by a protesting forefinger.

"Sure thing!" she acknowledged frankly.

"Where did you get it?"

If he had been a young man, Amarilly would have cheerfully reminded him
that it was none of his business, but, a respecter of age, she loftily
informed him that it had been "give to her."

"By whom?" he persisted.

Perceiving her reluctance to answer, he added gently:

"I am a bishop of the Episcopal Church, and I cannot endure to see a
surplice in such a place as this."

A bishop! This was worse than a reporter even. St. John would surely
hear of it! But she felt that an explanation was due the calling of her
interlocutor.

She lifted righteous eyes to his.

"My mother works for one of the churches, and the minister, he give us
this to cut up into clo'es fer the chillern, but we didn't cut it up.
I'm agoin' to leave it here till the rent's paid, and we git the money
to take it outen hock."

The bishop's eyes softened, and lost their look of shocked dignity.

"I will advance you the money," he offered. "I would much prefer to do
so than to have it left here. How much money do you need to pay your
rent?"

"We need five dollars," said Amarilly, "to pay the balance of it. But I
wouldn't take it from you. I ain't no beggar. I don't believe, nuther,"
she continued, half to herself, "that Mr. St. John would like it."

"Who is Mr. St. John?" he asked curiously. "I know of no such rector in
this diocese. My child, you have an honest face. Since you won't accept
a gift of money, I will lend, you the amount. I want you to tell me all
about yourself and this surplice."

"Well, mebby he'd want me to," reflected Amarilly.

"Gimme back that surplus," she said to the Jew, who seemed loath to
relinquish his booty.

As she walked up the street with the bishop, she frankly related the
family history and the part Mr. Meredith and the surplice had played
therein.

The bishop had generous instincts, and a desire to reach the needy
directly instead of through the medium of institutions, but he had never
known just how to approach them. His presence in this unknown part of
the city had been unpremeditated, but he welcomed the chance that had
led his steps hither to perform an errand of mercy. He handed Amarilly
five dollars, and wrote down her address. He was most reluctant to
receive the surplice as security, but Amarilly's firm insistence was not
to be overcome. She returned home, rejoicing in the knowledge that she
had the price of their happy home in her pocket. The bishop had given
her his card, which she laid in a china saucer with other bits of
pasteboard she had collected from Derry Phillips, Mr. Vedder, and Pete
Noyes. The saucer adorned a small stand in the dining-room part of the
house.

"It's the way Mrs. Hubbleston kep' her keerds," Amarilly explained to
the family.

Meantime the bishop was walking in an opposite direction toward his
home, wondering if he should find he was mistaken in his estimate of
human nature; and a query arose in his mind as to what he should do with
the surplice if it were left on his hands.

CHAPTER XIII

Bud sat in the park,--Clothes-line Park, Amarilly had dubbed it--one
Monday afternoon, singing a song of gladness. The park was confined by a
clothes-line stretched between three tottering poles and the one
solitary poplar tree of the Jenkins estate. The line was hung with white
linen garments, and smaller articles adorned the grass plot within the
park.

This to Bud was the most beautiful spot in the world. He looked up into
the sapphire blue of the sky flecked with soft patches of white, then
down upon the waving grass latticed by sun and shade; he listened to the
soothing rustle of the poplar leaves, the soft flapping of linen in the
breeze, the birds in the tree tops, and felt his heart and throat
bursting with all the harmony and melody about him. Not always was Bud's
refrain one of joy. There were songs of sorrow on the damp days when the
washings must be dried within the house, and he could not venture forth
because he still was regarded as the delicate one of the family. There
were days, too, when the number of garments was not adequate to complete
the boundary to the park, and that meant less to eat and worry about the
rent and a harassed look in his mother's anxious eyes.

But there was no sob in Bud's song this afternoon. The clothes had been
hung out unusually early, and were nearly dry, so his mother had brought
out her little lean-back rocker and sat beside him for a few moments to
listen to his carol and to hark back to the days when his lusty-voiced
father had sung to her in the shadows of a vine clad porch.

It was not upon Amarilly, the sharer of her burdens, nor upon the baby
that Mrs. Jenkins lavished her tenderness. Bud crept closest because he
had been the one most dependent upon her care.

When the little singer ceased, the mother arose and unpinned the
garments, carrying them in armfuls to the huge basket in the middle of
the park. Bud watched her thin, fatigued hands as they performed their
accustomed task, and a sudden inspiration came to him. His future field
of labor had troubled him. Now his way seemed clear. He stepped nimbly
to the grass plot and gathered up the pieces spread thereon.

"Ma," he said, as they met at the basket, "I've jest thought what I kin
do, when I grow up, to support you."

"What is it, Bud?" she asked interestedly.

"The teacher said we must plan to do what we knew the most about. I know
more about washin' than anything else."

"You'd orter," she replied with a sigh.

"I kin run a laundry," he declared.

"That would be a fine business."

Happy in the hope of this new horoscope, Bud resumed his seat in the
amphitheatre, and in a voice of clarion clearness ecstatically rendered
one of the hymns he had learned at St. Mark's. Ever since he had become
a member of the choir, Clothes-line Park had rung with echoes of the
Jubilate and Venite instead of the popular old-time school airs. The
wringer was turned to the tune of a Te Deum, the clothes were rubbed to
the rhythm of a Benedictus, and the floor mopped to the melody of a
Magnificat.

On the happy, by-gone Thursdays, cloistered by snow-white surplices,
with the little chorister enthroned in the midst, Clothes-line Park had
seemed a veritable White Chapel.

Bud was snatched from his carols by the arrival of Amarilly, who was far
too practical to hearken to hymns when there was work to be performed.

"I got the money Miss Ormsby's owed us so long," she announced in a tone
of satisfaction, "and that jest makes up the money to git back the
surplus. I'll give you carfare one way, Bud, and you must go to the
bishop's and git it. I'm too beat to go. I've walked most five miles
sence dinner."

Bud was scoured and brushed, the pocket of his blouse tagged with a
five-dollar bill carefully secured by a safety pin, and he started on
his way for the address Amarilly had given him. He stopped at the corner
drug store to spend his car-fare for an ice-cream soda.

When the lad's quest was repeated to the bishop by his housekeeper, he
instructed her to send Bud up to the library, being kindly-disposed
towards all boy-kind. While he was questioning his young visitor, the
organ of Grace Church, which was next to the bishop's house, pealed
forth, and a man's voice began to chant a selection from an oratorio Bud
had learned at St. Mark's. A high, childish soprano voice was essaying
to carry the sustained note an octave above the man's voice; once it
sharped.

"Oh!" shuddered Bud in dismay. "He can't keep the tune."

"He isn't our regular soloist," explained the bishop apologetically. "He
is ill, and this boy is trying to learn the part for an organ recital to
be given next week."

Again the choirmaster's voice, patient and wearied, began the refrain.
Instinctively Bud's little chest swelled, and involuntarily his clear,
high treble took the note and sustained it without break through the
measures, and then triumphantly broke into the solo. The bishop's eyes
shone.

"Come," he said, rising and going towards the door, "come with me."

Wonderingly and obediently, Bud followed him into the church and up to
the organ where the choirmaster sat.

"This is one of the boys from St. Mark's. Try him on the solo. He just
sang it for me."

"I thought I heard it sung just now, but I feared it was only an echo of
my dreams. Let me hear you again, my lad."

Easily and confidently Bud attacked the high C in alt. At the end of the
solo, the long-suffering choirmaster looked as if he were an Orpheus,
who had found his Eurydice.

"Who taught you to sing that solo?" he demanded.

"My school teacher. She is studying fer an opery singer, and she helps
me with my Sunday singing."

"I thought the style was a little florid for the organist of St.
Mark's," said the choirmaster whimsically. "My boy, if you will sing it
for us at the recital as well as you did just now, you shall have ten
dollars."

The laundry now loomed as a fixed star in Bud's firmament. When he went
home and told his mother the good news she moved joyfully among her mops
and tubs. The turn of the wringer never seemed so easy, and she
frequently paused in the rubbing of a soaped garment to wring the suds
from her swollen hands and listen anew to the recital of Bud's call upon
the bishop and the choirmaster of Grace Church.

CHAPTER XIV

The next day the flood-tide of the Jenkins's fortunes bid fair to flow
to fullness. Word came to the little home that Mr. Meredith had returned
to the city and desired the laundry work to be resumed. Bud was summoned
to choir practice the following Friday, and Miss King sent her chauffeur
with a fair-sized washing.

"Everything comes so to onct, it takes your breath away," said Amarilly,
quite overcome by this renewal of commercial activity, "and next thing I
know,"--there her heart gave a deer-like leap--"Mr. Derry'll be hum, and
sendin' fer me. Then we'll all be earnin' excep' Gus."

At the end of the week Amarilly eagerly went to deliver the washings at
the rectory and Miss King's, but in both instances she was doomed to
disappointment, as her friends were not in.

"I'll go to church and see 'em," she resolved.

This time her raiment was very simple, but more effective than upon the
occasion of her previous attendance.

Before Amarilly's artistic temperament was awakened by the atmosphere of
the studio, she had been wont to array herself in things convenient
without regard to color or style, believing herself to be hopelessly
homely and beyond the aid of personal adornment; but since Derry had
praised her hair, she had scrupulously cared for it and allowed no
conflicting color in proximity thereto. On this occasion she fastened it
with the black velvet bows, and arrayed herself in the white dress Mrs.
Jimmels had given her.

"I declar, Amarilly," exclaimed her mother, "I believe you're agrowin'
purty!"

Amarilly's eyes danced, and she gave her mother a spontaneous and
rewarding hug.

She didn't do her own ushering this time, and was consequently seated
most inconspicuously near the entrance. Her heart beat rapturously at
the sight of John Meredith in the pulpit.

"His vacation didn't freshen him up much," she thought, after a shrewd
glance. "He's paler and don't look real peart. Sorter like Bud arter he
got up from the fever."

Her attention was diverted from the rector by the vision of Colette
coming down the aisle. The change in her appearance was even more
startling to the little anxious-eyed girl than in John's case. There
were violet shadows under the bright eyes, a subtle, subdued air about
her fresh young beauty that had banished the little touch of wilfulness.
As soon as she was seated, which was after the service had begun, she
became entirely absorbed in her prayer-book.

"Vacation ain't agreed with her, nuther," pondered Amarilly perplexedly.

She turned her gaze again to John, who was sitting back of the choir,
while his "understudy" conducted the service. His face was shaded by his
hand, but Amarilly's gimlet glance noted that he frequently sent a
fleeting, troubled look toward the King pew.

"Thar's something up atwixt 'em," deduced Amarilly, "and they air both
too proud to say nuthin' about it to the other."

John's sermon was on the strength that renunciation brings, and the duty
of learning resignation. There was a pervasive note of sadness in his
deliverance of the theme, and Amarilly felt her joyousness in the return
of her friends slipping from her.

She went out of church somewhat depressed, but was cheered by the
handclasp of the rector and his earnest assurance that he would see her
very soon. While he was saying this, Colette slipped past without
vouchsafing so much as a glance in their direction. Hurt through and
through, the little girl walked sadly to the pavement with head and eyes
downcast.

"Amarilly," dulcetly spoke a well-loved voice.

Her eyes turned quickly. Colette stood at the curb, her hand on the door
of the electric.

"I waited to take you home, dear. Why, what's the matter, Amarilly?
Tears?"

"I thought you wan't goin' to speak to me," said Amarilly, as she
stepped into the brougham and took the seat beside Colette.

"I didn't want to interrupt you and Mr. Meredith, but it's a wonder I
knew you. You look so different. You have grown so tall, and what a
beautiful dress! Who showed you how to fix your hair so artistically? I
never realized you had such beautiful hair, child!"

"I didn't nuther, till he told me."

"Who, Amarilly? Lord Algernon?"

"No!" scoffed Amarilly, suddenly realizing that her former hero had
toppled from his pedestal in her thoughts. "'Tain't him. It's a new
friend I have made. An artist."

"Oh, Amarilly, you have such distinguished acquaintances! All in the
profession, too. Tell me who the artist is."

"Mr. Derry Phillips. I cleaned his rooms, and he took me to lunch. We
ate things like we had to your house."

"Derry Phillips, the talented young artist! Why, Amarilly, girls are
tumbling over each other trying to get attention from him, and he took
you to luncheon! Where?"

"To Carter's, and I'm to serve his breakfast and take care of his rooms,
and he showed me how to fix my hair and to say 'can' and 'ate.' He's
fired the woman what red his rooms."

"'Merely Mary Ann,'" murmured Colette.

"No," said Amarilly positively. "Her name is Miss O'Leary, and she
didn't clean the mopboards."

Colette's gay laughter pealed forth.

"Amarilly, this is the first time, I've laughed this summer, but I must
explain something to you. The housekeeper told me that all the children
had scarlet fever and were quarantined a long time after we left. I wish
I had known it and thought more about you, but--I've had troubles of my
own. How did you manage so long with nothing coming in?"

"It was purty hard, but we fetched it," sighed Amarilly, thinking of the
struggles, "We're doin' fine now again."

"But, tell me; how did you buy food and things when none of you were
working?"

"When your ten dollars was gone, we spent his'n."

"Whose?"

"Mr. Meredith's. He sent us a ten, too."

"Oh!" replied Colette frigidly.

"Then the Boarder give us all he hed. Arterwards come dark days until
Mr. Vedder sent us a fiver.--Then thar was an orful day when thar wa'n't
a cent and we didn't know whar to turn, and then--It saved us."

"It? What?"

"The surplus. Mr. St. John's surplus. It brung in lots."

"Why, what do you mean, Amarilly?"

"You see 'twas at our house when Iry was fust took sick--same as the
waist you gimme was. They couldn't nuther on 'em be sent hum till they
was fumygated. Then Mrs. Winders said as how he, Mr. St. John, said as
how we was to keep it and cut it up fer the chillern, but we didn't."

"Oh, Amarilly," asked Colette faintly, "do you mean to tell me that the
surplice was never delivered to Mr. Meredith?"

"No. Gus didn't take it that night, and in the mornin' when Iry was took
it was too late. And then when it got fumygated, Mr. St. John had gone
away and he left word we was to keep it."

The transformation in Colette's mobile face during this explanation was
rapid and wonderful. With a radiant smile she stopped the brougham and
put her arms impulsively about Amarilly.

"Oh, Amarilly, I'm so happy, and I've had such a wretched summer! Now,
we will go right to your house and you'll let me see the surplice."
Amarilly looked surprised.

"Why, yes, you can see it, of course, though it ain't no diffrent from
his other ones."

"Oh yes it is! Far, far different, Amarilly. It has a history."

"Yes, I guess it has," laughed Amarilly, "It's been goin' some these
last two months!"

"Why, what do you mean, Amarilly? and I forgot in my excitement to ask
how it helped you. But first tell me. You know there is a pocket in it?"

"Yes, Miss King."

"Have you noticed anything in the pocket?"

"Never looked onct. But then if thar was 'twould hev come out in the
wash. It's been did up heaps of times. You see, rentin' it out so
much--"

"Renting it out!"

Amarilly gave a graphic account of the adventures of the errant garment
to date. Meanwhile Colette's countenance underwent kaleidoscopic
changes.

"Amarilly," she asked faintly, "have you the addresses of all those
people to whom you rented it?"

"Yes; I keep books now, and I put it down in my day ledger the way the
Boarder showed me."

"There was something--of mine--in--that pocket. Will you ask your mother
to look for it, and hunt the house over for it?"

Amarilly, greatly distressed at the loss, promised faithfully to do so.

CHAPTER XV

As soon as Amarilly had been deposited at her door, Colette tore a leaf
from the tablet reposing in its silver case, hastily wrote a few lines,
and then ran her brougham at full speed back to St. Mark's. A chorister
was just coming out.

"Walter!" she called.

The lad came down to the curb.

"Will you please take this to Mr. Meredith? He is probably in the
Sunday-school now."

"Sure. Will you wait for an answer, Miss King?".

"No, thank you, Walter."

She rode home and waited anxiously for the personal answer to her note,
which came with most unclerical alacrity.

"Colette," he said, his voice tense, "if you knew what your little note
meant! Did--"

"Wait until I explain, John. I must tell you about the surplice."

She repeated Amarilly's account of the peregrinations of the robe.

"Well?" he asked bewildered, "I don't see what that has to do with--"

"Everything. There was something of mine--" she turned a deep
crimson--"in the pocket of that surplice."

"Yours! Why, how did it get there, Colette? Was it--"

"I am not going to tell you--not until I have it back. Oh, I could die
of shame when I think who may have found it. You must get it."

"Colette," he answered gravely, "the surplice must have passed through
many hands, but if it is possible to trace this--article, I will do so.
Still, how can I make inquiries unless I know what it is?"

"You can ask them, each and all, if they found anything in the pocket,"
she replied. "And you must tell them you left it there."

"And you won't trust me, Colette? Not after my long unhappy summer. And
won't you give me an answer now to the note I wrote you last spring?"

"No; I won't tell you anything! Not until you find that."

"Be reasonable, Colette."

His choice of an adjective was most unfortunate for his cause. It was
the word of words that Colette detested; doubtless because she had been
so often entreated to cultivate that quality.

"I will not," she answered, "if to tell you is being reasonable. I must
have it back. I think no one will really know to whom it belongs, though
they may guess. You must, assume the ownership."

"I certainly shall, if it can be found," he assured her.

Seeing the utter futility of changing her mood, he took his departure;
perhaps a little wiser if not quite so sad as he had been before he saw
her. The next morning he called upon Amarilly, whom he found alone with
Iry.

"I am very sorry to learn that you had such a hard summer," he said
kindly, "and I regret that I didn't know more about your affairs before
I left the city, but I was too absorbed, I fear, in my own troubles."

"How did you hear about us?" she asked curiously.

"From Miss King."

"Oh," said Amarilly happily, imagining that their trouble must have been
patched up. Then another thought occurred to her which gave her a little
heart palpitation. With intense anxiety depicted on her lineaments she
asked tremulously: "Did she tell you about the surplus?"

"Amarilly," and the tone was so reassuring that the little wrinkles of
anxiety vanished, "when I gave you the surplice, I gave it to you
unconditionally, and I am very glad that you put it to profit. But, you
know, as Miss King told you, that there was something of value--of
importance--in that pocket; something that must be found. My happiness
depends entirely upon its recovery. Now, she tells me that you can give
me the names and addresses of all the people through whose hands it
passed."

"Sure thing!" she replied with business-like alacrity. "You see the
Boarder has been larnin' me bookkeepin', and so I keep all our accounts
now in a big book the grocer give me."

She produced a large, ledger-like book and laid it on the table for his
inspection. He examined her system of bookkeeping with interest. Under
the head of "Cr.," which she explained to him meant "brung in," was
"Washins," "Boarder," "Flamingus," "Milt," "Bobby," "Bud." Below each
of these subheads were dates and accounts. The page opposite, headed
"Dr.," she translated, "means paid out."

She turned a few leaves, and in big letters he read the word "Surplus."

"This bein' a sort of extry account, the Boarder said to run it as a
special and keep it seprut. If you'll set down, I'll read offer to you
whar it has went."

She began to read laboriously and slowly from the book, adding
explanatory notes in glib tones.

"'July 8. Mister Carrul, tenner, 1 doller. Pade.' He's the tenor, you
know, to Grace Church. He wanted it to sing in at a sacred concert. His
was too short or too long.

"'July 11. Miss Lyte and Miss Bobson. 'Tablos. 1 doller. Pade.' Mr.
Carul knows where they live. 'Twaz him as got the job fer me.

"'July 15 to July 19. The Beehive. 3 dollers and 1/2 Pade.' That's a
bargain store down in our parts. I went in fer to git Bud a cap and I
hearn the clerk askin' the boss about fixin' up a winder show with wax
figgers fer a weddin'. I step up to him and ask him if he kep surpluses,
and he sez as he didn't. I told him I could rent him one to put on the
minister, and he hedn't thought fer to hev it an Episcopal show, but he
sed he'd do it fer an ad fer his white goods. He wouldn't stand fer no
dollar a day. He beat me down to three-fifty, but he throwed in a cap
fer Bud.

"Next come Mrs. Hudgers. I didn't put it down in the ledger, though,
cause it didn't bring nuthin' but a pan of doughnuts. Her son Hallie
died, and he didn't hev no nice clo'es ter be laid out in, and she was
agoin' to hev quite a funyral, so jest afore folks come, she slipped the
surplus on ter him over his old clo'es, and then when 'twas over, she
took it offen him again. He made a swell lookin' corpse. Bein' a
neighbor we didn't go fer to ask her nuthin', but she give us the nut
cakes. They give her dyspepsy, anyhow."

The muscles of John Meredith's face grew rigid in his endeavor to
maintain a serious expression. He had taken out a notebook at the
beginning of the interview to jot down the addresses, but he copied
Amarilly's comments as well, for the future entertainment of Colette.

"'July 25 and 26. Mr. Derry Phillips, The Navarre. 2 dollers. Pade.' He
paints picters. He painted the surplus onto a man playin' on a orgin."

She hesitated a moment, and then continued: "I'm agoin' to work reg'lur
fer him instead of to the theayter. I'm agoin' to git his breakfast and
clean his rooms. He'll pay me the same as I got. He's a sort of
eddicatin' me too."

"Why, how is that, Amarilly?" asked John in perplexity.

"He larnt me not to say 'et' and 'kin.'"

The rector's eyes twinkled.

"And," pursued Amarilly, after another moment of hesitancy, "he's larnt
me how to fix my hair. He says red hair is beautiful! He took me to a
restyrant."

John looked troubled at this statement, and felt that his call at the
studio would now be for a double purpose.

"'July 27,'" resumed Amarilly. "'The Boarder. 25 cents. Pade.'"

"Why, what possible use could he have for a surplice?"

"He's akeepin' company with a young gal--Lily Rose--and she wanted his
likeness tooken sorter fancy-like, so he wuz took in the surplus, and he
got himself framed in a gilt and shell frame, and she hez it ahangin'
over her bed. I didn't want no pay from him, cause he give us his money
when yours and Miss King's was gone, but he says as how it might bring
him luck in gittin' her, so I took a quarter of a dollar.

"'July 29. Mister Vergil Washington. Reckter Colered Church. 1 doller.
Pade.' Some one stole his'n off en the clo'es-line, and he only hed one.

"'July 31. Widder Hubbleston, 56 Wilkins St. 1 Doller. Pade.' She got
merried by an Episcopal minister, and he furgot his surplus, and that
was all she hed hired him fer, so she rented our'n fer him, and Mr.
Jimmels, her new husband, took it outen the minister's pay. Somethin'
allers goes wrong to her weddin's."

"Does she have them often?" interrupted John gravely.

"Quite frequent." "'Aug. 3, Mister Vedder, Ticket Seller to the
Theayter. 1 doller. Pade.' He wore it to a sheet and piller case party.
I didn't want fer to take nuthin' from him, cause he give us money when
we hed the fever, but he wouldn't hev it that way.

"'Aug. 5. Pete Noyes. Gum.' He's the boy what sells gum to the theayter.
He was agoin' to a party whar you hev to be the name of a book. He wore
the surplus so his name was the Little Minister. We took it out in gum--
spruce and pepsin. Iry swallered his'n every time, and Miss Hudgers was
afeard he'd be stuck together inside.

"'Aug. 9-23. Vawdevil Theayter. 5 dollers. Pade.' They put it on fer a
sketch.

"'Aug. 25. Mister Cotter. 25 cents. Pade.' He's a brakeman friend of the
Boarder. He wore it to a maskyrade.

"'Aug. 27. Poleece. 35 cents. Pade.'"

"Police!" ejaculated John faintly.

"Some one swiped it offen our clo'es-line, and when the police ketched
the thief, we was subpenyed, or ma was. She got thirty-five cents, and
all on us 'cept Iry went to hear her."

"'Aug, 29. Bishop Thurber. 5 dollers. Pade.'"

"Bishop Thurber!" the name was repeated with the force of an expletive.

"Seems to mind that more'n he did the police," thought Amarilly.

"It's quite a story," she explained, "and though it was orful at the
beginnin' it come out all right, jest as the plays all do. I jest
thought, I shouldn't hev put that down in the account, cause we give
back the five, so we didn't make nuthin' in a way. We wuz dead broke. I
suppose," she ruminated, "you don't know jest how orful it is to be
that."

"I don't, Amarilly, from my own experience," replied John
sympathetically, "but I can imagine how terrible it must be, and I am
very sorry--"

"Well, as long as it come out all right, it don't make no difference.
We'd got to pay our rent or else git put out, and I was up a stump till
the Boarder said to tackle a pawnshop. I didn't hev nuthin' but the
surplus to pawn, and I hated to pawn it on your account."

"I don't care, my child," was the fervent assurance, "where you took it
as long as it helped you in your troubles."

"Well, I was in a pawnshop, and the man was holdin' it up, and the
bishop went by, and when he seen what it was he come in, and asked me
all about it, and I told him. He took it worse than you do that I would
pawn it, and to save it he lent me five dollers. Course I made him take
the surplus till I hed the money to git it outen hock, and when we was
able to pay fer it, Bud went arter it. Thar was a boy practicin' at the
church next door, and he warn't singin' it right, and Bud he couldn't
keep still noway, so he up and sings the soler, and when the man at the
orgin hearn him, he fired the boy what was tryin' to sing, and hired Bud
in his place. He's agoin' to sing to a recital at Grace Church day arter
to-morrer, and git ten dollers. And we air goin' to make Bud bank all he
gits cause he ain't so strong as the rest of us. He may need it some
time. That's all the places the surplus went to. I guess I'll go outen
the costumin' business now, 'cause I'll be startin' in with Mr. Derry
soon."

CHAPTER XVI

There was one little ominous cloud in the serene sky of Mrs. Jenkins's
happiness. She had nothing suitable for the occasion of the organ
recital in the way of wearing apparel.

"I feel as if gloves was due you, Bud," she lamented, "but I kin't
afford 'em. I guess I kin put my hands under my mantilly, though, and
folks won't know."

"She'd orter hev 'em, and she'd orter hev a new hat, too," reflected
Bud, and his song became a requiem. He manfully resolved to sacrifice
his future to present needs and curtail the laundry fund. After some
meditation he called upon the bishop, and asked if he might have an
advance of half the amount he would receive for his solo.

The bishop readily assented, but sought the reason for the request.

"My mother is comin' to the recital, but she ain't got no fixin's. I'm
goin' to buy her a hat."

"I am glad you think of your mother, my lad, but it would be well to let
some older person select it for you. My housekeeper--"

Bud's refusal was emphatic. He knew the kind of hat his mother wanted,
and he had noted her quickly suppressed look of disappointment at the
sombre hat donated by Mrs. Hudgers on the day of the police-court
attendance.

Upon receiving the five dollars he went directly to the Fashion
Emporium, where the windows were filled with a heterogeneous assortment
of gayly trimmed hats, marked enticingly with former and present prices.

"I want a hat kivered with flowers," he announced.

"Who for?" asked the young saleswoman.

"For my mother."

"How would you like a nice flower toque like this?" displaying a
headgear of modest forget-me-nots.

"That's all faded. Ain't you got any red flowers? If you haven't, I know
a store where they keep 'em."

The girl instantly sacrificed her ideas of what was fitting to the
certainty of a sale, and quickly produced a hat of green foliage from
which rose long-stemmed, nodding red poppies, "a creation marked down to
three-ninety-eight," she informed him.

"That's the kind! I'll take it and a pair of white gloves, too, if
you've got some big ones fer a dollar."

Bud hastened home with his purchases. His mother was quite overcome by
the sight of such finery.

"I never thought to be dressed up again," she exclaimed on the eventful
night, "No one has bought me nuthin' to wear sence your pa died. I feel
like I was some one outen a book."

The entire family, save Iry, who was put to bed at a neighbor's, went to
the recital. The Boarder took Lily Rose, who was quite flustered at her
first appearance with the family.

John and Colette occupied a pew directly opposite the family. Mr. Vedder
and Pete were also in attendance.

When the bishop came from the vestry and walked down the aisle to his
pew, his eyes fell upon the worn, seamed face of Bud's mother, the weary
patient eyes in such odd contrast to the youthful turban with its
smartly dancing flowers. Something stirred in his well-regulated heart,
and he carefully wiped his glasses.

At the signal from the choirmaster for the solo of the oratorio, Bud
arose. An atom of a boy he looked in the vast, vaulted chancel, and for
the first time he knew fear at the thought of singing. It was a terrible
thing, after all, to face this sea of staring, dancing people. As
lightning reaches to steel, the gay poppies nodding so nervously above
his mother's white, anxious face sought the courage place within, and
urged him on. He felt himself back in Clothes-line Park, alone with his
mother and the blue sky.

The little figure filled itself with a long, deep breath. The high,
clear note merged into one with the notes of the chorus. It touched the
tones of the accompaniment in harmony true, and swelled into grand,
triumphant music.

"He looks like he did arter the fever," thought Amarilly anxiously.

When he came down the aisle with the choir, the ethereal look had left
his face, and he was again a happy little boy. He gave his mother a gay
nod, and bestowed a wink upon the Boarder. He waited outside and the
family wended their way homeward.

There had not been time to bring in the clothes before leaving, but a
willing neighborhood had guarded the premises for them, so Clothes-line
Park was shrouded in a whiteness that looked ghostly in the moonlight.

They made quite an affair of the evening in honor of Bud's song, and
their introduction to Lily Rose. There were fried sausages, coffee,
sandwiches, and pork cake.

"The organist told me," announced Bud at supper, "that he was agoin' to
train my voice, and I could be soloist at Grace Church and git five
dollars a Sunday, and after a while I could git ten."

"You'll be a millynaire," prophesied Bobby in awed tones.

"Guess we'll be on Easy Street now," shouted Cory.

"We won't be nuthin' of the kind," snapped Amarilly. "It's agoin' to all
be banked fer Bud."

"I guess," said Bud, in his quiet, little old-man way, "I'm the one to
hev the say. I'm agoin' to give ma two dollars a week and bank the
rest."

Meanwhile John was having an uncomfortable time as he walked home with
Colette. He had started on the trail of the surplice the day before. The
"tenner" and the young ladies who had given the tableaux had been
interviewed, but in neither case had the mysterious pocket been
discovered. To-day he had visited the Beehive, but no one in the store
had paid any attention to the pocket, or knew of its existence. Colette
remained obdurate to his pleadings. She assumed that he was entirely to
blame for the loss, and seemed to take a gleeful delight in showing him
how perverse and wilful she could be. To-night he found himself less
able than usual to cope with her caprices, so he began to talk of
impersonal matters and dwelt upon the beauties of Bud's voice, and the
astonishing way in which it had developed.

She admitted that Bud's voice was indeed wonderful, but maintained that
Mrs. Jenkins's poppy hat and white gloves had been far surpassing in the
way of surprises.

"Did you ever, John, see anything more shoutingly funny?"

"It wasn't funny, Colette," he said wistfully, and he proceeded to
relate the history of the hat as he had heard it from the bishop that
day.

[Illustration: To-night he found himself less able than usual to cope
with her caprices]

And though in the depths of her heart Colette was touched by the pathos
of the purchase, she must needs tread again the feminine labyrinth
instead of following the more natural and open path.

"Who was the young girl with the Boarder?" John next vouchsafed.

"Why, Lily Rose, of course. The Lily for whom he 'sot for his likeness
in the surplus.' That awful surplice," she burst forth in irritation at
the mere mention of the unfortunate word. "Some of these people must
have it. John, you don't half try to find it."

"I am following out the list in order," he assured her. "I shall go to
see Mrs. Hudgers to-morrow."

"And the next one to her," reminded Colette, "is Derry Phillips,
Amarilly's new benefactor. She told me to-day that she had a note from
him, asking her to begin work at the studio in a few days."

"I have a double duty in my call there," said John didactically. "If he
is like some of the young artists I know, his studio will hardly be a
proper place for Amarilly."

"As it happens," returned Colette coldly, "Derry Phillips, for all his
nonsense, is reported to be a true gentleman; but it would make no
difference with Amarilly if he were not. Her inherent goodness would
counteract the evil of any atmosphere. She can take care of his rooms
until she is a little older. Then she can become a model."

"Colette!" he exclaimed protestingly.

"Why not?" she returned. "Why shouldn't Amarilly be a model, or go on
the stage? Neither place would be below her station in life."

John sought refuge in utter silence which admonished and exasperated
Colette far more than any reproof would have done.

"You might as well go, if you have nothing to say," she remarked
stiffly, as he lingered in the portico, evidently expecting an
invitation to enter.

"I have _too_ much to say, Colette."

Her sidelong glance noted his dejection, and her flagging spirits rose
again.

"Too much, indeed, when you are so critical of what I say!"

"Colette, hear me!"

"No, I won't listen--never when you preach!"

"I don't mean to preach, Colette, but don't you think--"

"Good night, John," she said, smiling.

"Good night!" he echoed dolefully, but making no move to leave.
"Colette, will you never tell me?"

"Yes," she replied unexpectedly, with a dancing light in her beautiful
eyes.

"When?"

"When you restore to me what was in the pocket."

CHAPTER XVII

Jason never sought the Golden Fleece with more unwearying perseverance
than John displayed in the pursuit of the lost article which Colette
refused to describe. His calls of inquiry didn't mean merely putting the
question politely and taking his departure after receiving an answer. It
meant, in the case of Mrs. Hudgers, a martyr's test of patience in
listening to the devious and manifold routes taken by her rheumatic
pains; a rehearsal of the late lamented Hallie's idiosyncracies; the
details of his last illness; his death; and his wearing of the surplice
at the obsequies.

Throughout her harangue he preached patience unto himself and remembered
that she was an old woman, desolate in her "lone lornness," so he
counselled not, neither did he pray, but comforted her with the
gentleness of voice and speech that won him a fond place in her memory
for all time.

"No," she assured him decisively, as in departing he reminded her of his
original question, "I didn't go fer to look in no pockit. I didn't
suppose them things had pockits."

Then the scene shifted to Derry Phillips's studio, and this visit was
fraught with more difficulties, for there was the case of Amarilly which
must be approached delicately and with subtlety.

After stating his errand concisely and receiving assurance that the
pocket had not been examined, but that the model should be interviewed
by him, John still lingered.

"It's very kind in you to give employment to Amarilly, Mr. Phillips."

Derry shook his head.

"I am the one to be congratulated, Mr. Meredith. I really feel
apologetic to Amarilly for accepting her services. They are so
conscientiously and faithfully rendered that I feel she should be given
a higher scope of work than she can find here. She is an honest, amusing
little soul, and if by giving her employment I can encourage her desire
to be industrious and earn something, I am very glad of the opportunity
to do so."

This was a long and serious observation for the gay-hearted Derry to
make, but he shrewdly fathomed the pastoral duty underlying the
seemingly casual remark.

John's keen perception recognized the sincerity in the ring of the
pleasant young voice, and he was quite won by the boyish directness. An
instinctive confidence moved him to extend the right hand of trust and
fellowship.

"You have been instructive as well as benevolent," he remarked
smilingly. "Two of Amarilly's errors of speech have been eradicated."

The young Artist flushed in slight confusion, and then with a half-
embarrassed laugh, he replied lightly: "Amarilly gave full measure of
correction in return."

Responding to the nameless something in John that so insistently and
irresistibly invited confidence, he related the little incident of the
luncheon and her request in regard to temperate orders in the future.

"And I don't mean to say," he replied with winning frankness, "that it
was merely the request of a little scrub-girl that has kept me temperate
through two months of vacation and temptation, but the guileless
suggestion was the spark that fired the flame of a dormant desire to
change--certain conditions."

John again extended his hand, this time in a remorseful spirit of
apology.

Derry partially understood.

"Amarilly has ardently interested friends," he observed whimsically.
"There was one Vedder, a solemn young German, here to-day in my little
maid's interest."

John's call upon the sable-hued preacher, Brother Washington, also
demanded strategic approach. The question of pockets must be delicately
handled lest any reflection be cast upon the integrity of the race, and
their known penchant for pockets.

Brother Washington's sympathies were at once enlisted, however, when he
scented a romance, for John became more confidential in this than in any
of his prior visitations, in his desire to propitiate. But his search
was fruitless here as elsewhere, and he went away convinced that Brother
Washington had not tampered with the pocket.

He went on to the house of the Reverend James Woodville, who had
performed the marriage ceremony at the nuptials of Mrs. Jimmels, ne
Hubbleston. In this instance also no pocket had been discovered in the
garment, so John wended his discouraged way to the office of the Barlow
Theatre.

Mr. Vedder was likewise surprised to learn that surplices possessed
pockets.

The young rector's face brightened at the next name on his list--Pete
Noyes. Of course a boy and a pocket would not long remain unacquainted.
Again he was doomed to disappointment. Pete's dismay when he learned
that there had been an overlooked pocket was convincingly genuine.

"You see," he explained, "I wore it over my pants, of course, and I had
the pockets in them, so I didn't look for no more."

Pete escorted the rector to the "Vawdyville," and by good fortune the
clerical impersonator in the sketch was still on the board, though in a
different act. He instantly and decidedly disclaimed all knowledge of a
pocket.

"It's like that game," grinned Pete. "Button, button, who's got the
button?"

"Yes," agreed John, with a sigh, "only in this case I fear I shall
continue to be 'it.'"

The brakeman, when he came in from his run, was located and he joined in
the blockade that was conspiring against John's future happiness.

The clothes-line thief was very sensitive on the subject, and felt
greatly aggrieved that he should be accused of picking his own pocket,
for he protested that he had "found" the garment. The fancied
insinuation indeed was so strongly resented that John wondered if it
might not be a proverbial case of "hit birds flutter."

Neither police nor court of justice had examined the pocket; nor had
they been aware of the existence of one. The bishop could throw no light
on the missing article, and this call ended the successless tour of
investigation.

"It was truly a profitable investment for the Jenkins family," thought
John, "but a sorry one for me."

Having now wended his weary and unavailing way into all the places
listed, John made his final report to Colette who remained adamant in
her resolve.

"Of course some of those people did find it," she maintained. "It stands
to reason they must have done so, and it is up to you now to find out
which one of them is the guilty person."

"How can I find that out, Colette?"

"How? Anyhow!" she replied, her mien betraying great triumph at her
powers of logic.

"It must be found!" she asserted with a distinct air of finality. "And
until it is found--"

She stopped abruptly.

"Was it of value? No, I am not trying to find out what it was since you
don't wish me to know, but if I knew its value, it might help me to
decide who would be the most likely to have a motive for taking it. But
my belief is that the article slipped from the pocket and is lost."

"It must be found then" she persisted obstinately.

John went home to ponder over his hopeless task. It remained for
Amarilly with her optimistic spirit to cheer him.

"It'll turn up some place whar you never looked fer it and when you
ain't thinkin' nuthin' about it," she asserted believingly. "Lost things
allers do."

Despite her philosophy she was greatly distressed over the disappearance
of the mysterious article whose loss was keeping John so unhappy. She
ransacked the house from the cellar to the Boarder's room, but found no
trace of it.

"I wonder what it was," she mused.

"Mebby Miss King dreamt she put something in there, and when could she
have done it anyhow? Mebby she give him a present, and he slipped it in
there and fergot to take it out when he sent it to us. But then it would
have come out in the wash. She don't seem to feel so bad as he does--
jest sorter stubborn about it."

The members of the household were put through the third degree, but each
declared his innocence in the matter.

"'Twas most likely Iry took it," said Cory, who found the baby a
convenient loophole for any accusations, "and most likely he hez
swallered it."

Gus persisted in his oft-repeated statement, that there was nothing in
the pocket when it was hung up during quarantine. This assurance was
conveyed to Colette by John, who hoped she might find solace in the
thought that none of the renters could have had it, if this were true,
but to his chagrin she found in his information an implied reflection on
her veracity.

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