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place; and doubtless they would by-and-by follow the fate of the rest, and vanish as fire-wood. One or two of the stairs even were torn to pieces for the same purpose, and the cupboard-doors of the room into which Lucy entered had vanished, with half the skirting-board and some of the flooring, revealing the joists, and the ceiling of the room below. All this dilapidation did not matter much in summer weather, but how would it be in the winter-except the police condemned the building before then, and because the wretched people who lived in it could get no better, decreed that so far they should have no shelter at all? Well, when the winter came, they would just go on making larger and larger holes to let in the wind, and fight the cold by burning their protection against it.
In this room there was nobody. Something shining in a dingy sunbeam that fell upon one of the holes in the floor caught Lucy's eye. She stooped, and putting in her hand, drew out a bottle. At the same moment she let it fall back into the hole, and started with a sense of theft.
“Don't touch Mrs. Flanaghan's gin-bottle, lady. She's a good 'un to swear, as you'd be frightened to hear her. She gives me the creepers sometimes, and I'm used to her. She says it's all she's got in the world, and she's ready to die for the 'ould bottle.'
It was Poppie's pretty dirty face and wild black eyes that looked round the door-post.
Lucy felt considerably relieved. She replaced the bottle carefully, saying as she rose,
I didn't mean to steal it, Poppie. I only saw it shining, and wanted to know what it was. Suppose I push it a little farther in that the sun maya't be able to see it.”
Poppie thought this was fun, and showed her white teeth. “But it was you I was looking for—not in that hole, you know," added Lucy, laughing.
“I think I could get into it, if I was to put my clothes off,” said Poppie.
Lucy thought it would be a tight fit indeed if her clothes made any difference.
“Will you come with me?" she said. “I want you."
“ Yes, lady," answered Poppie, looking though as if she would bolt in a moment.
"Come, then," said Lucy, approaching her where she still stood in the doorway.
But before she reached her, Poppie scudded, and was at the bottom of the stair before Lucy recovered from the surprise of her sudden flight. She saw at once that it would not do to make persistent advances, or show the least desire to get a hold of her.
When she got to the last landing-place on the way down, there was Poppie's face waiting for her in the door below. Careful as one who fears to startle a half-tamed creature with wings, Lucy
again approached her ; but she vanished again, and she saw no more of her till she was at the mouth of the court. There was Poppie once moie, to vanish yet again. In some unaccountable way she seemed to divine where Lucy was going, and with endless evanishments still reappeared in front of her, till she reached the railway station. And there was no Poppie.
For a moment Lucy was dreadfully disappointed. She had not yet had a chance of trying her powers of persuasion upon the child : she had not been within arm's length of her. And she stood at the station-door, hot, tired, and disappointed-with all the holiday-feeling gone out of her.
Poppie had left her, because she had no magic word by which to gain access to the subterranean regions of the guarded railway. She thought Lucy was going back to the great house in Wyvil Place ; but whether Poppie left her to perform the same journey on foot I do not know. She had scarcely lost sight of Lucy, however, before she caught sight of Thomas Worboise turning the corner of a street a hundred yards off. She darted after him, and caught him by the tail of his coat. He turned on her angrily, and shook her off.
“ The lady,” gasped Poppie ; but Thomas would not listen, and went on his way. Poppie in her turn was disappointed, and stood “like one forbid." But at that very moment her eye fell on something in the kennel. She was always finding things, though they were generally the veriest trifles. The penny of that morning was something almost awful in its importance. This time it was a bit of red glass. Now Poppie had quite as much delight in coloured glass as Lord Bacon had, who advised that hedges in great gardens should be adorned on the top here and there“ with broad plates of round coloured glass gilt, for the sun to play upon," only as she had less of the ways and means of procuring what she valued, she valued what she could lay her hands upon so much the more. She darted at the red shine, wiped it on her frock, sucked it clean in her mouth, as clean as her bright ivories, and polished it up with her hands, scudding all the time, in the hope that Lucy might be at the station still. Poppie did not seek to analyze her feelings in doing as she did ; but what she wanted was to give Lucy her treasure trove. She never doubted that what was valuable to her would be valuable to a beautiful lady. As
ttle did she imagine how much value, as the gift of a ragged little personage like herself, that which was all but worthless would acquire in the eyes of a lady beautiful as Lucy was beautiful with the beauty of a tender human heart.
Lucy was sitting in the open waiting-room 30 weary and disappointed that little would have made her cry. She had let one train go on the vague chance that the erratic littie maiden might yet show herself, but her last hope was almost gone wheu, to her
great delight, once more she spied the odd creature peeping round the side of the door. She had presence of mind enough not to rise, lest she should startle the human lapwing, and made her a sign instead to come to her. This being just what Poppie wished at the moment, she obeyed. She darted up to Lucy, put the piece of red glass into her hand, and would have been off again like a lowflying swallow, had not Lucy caught her by the arm. Once caught, Poppie never attempted to struggle. On this occasion she only showed her teeth in a rather constrained smile, and stood still. Lucy, however, did not take her hand from her arm, for she felt that the little phenomenon would disappear at once if she did.
Poppie,” she said, “I want you to come with me.” Poppie only grinned again. So Lucy rose, still holding her by the arm, and went to the ticket-window and got two second-class tickets. Poppie went on grinning, and accompanied her down the stairs without one obstructive motion.
When they were fairly seated in the carriage, and there was no longer any danger of her prisoner endeavouring to escape, Lucy thought of the something Poppie had given her, at which she had not even looked, so anxious was she to secure her bird. When she saw it, she comprehended it at once--the sign of love, the appeal of a half-savage sister to one of her own kind, in whom she dimly recognized her far-off ideal, even then not seeking love from the higher, only tendering the richest human gift, simple love, unsought, unbought. Thus a fragment dropped by some glazier as he went to mend the glass door leading into a garden, and picked out of the gutter by a beggar girl, who had never yet thought whether she had had a father or a mother, became in that same girl's hands a something which the Lord Himself, however some of His interpreters might be shocked at the statement, would have recognized as partaking of the character of His own eucharist. And as such, though without thinking of it after that fashion, it was received by the beautiful lady. The tears came into her eyes. Poppie thought she had offended or disappointed her, and looked very grave. Lucy saw she had misunderstood her. There was no one in the carriage with them. She stooped and kissed her. Then the same tears came, almost for the first time since she had been an infant, into Poppie's eyes. But just then the train moved off, and although the child by no remark and no motion evinced astonishment any more than fear, she watched everything with the intensity of an animal which in new circumstances cannot afford to lose one moment of circumspection, seeing a true knowledge of the whole may be indispensable to the preservation of its liberty; and before they reached King's Cross, her eyes were clear, and only a channel on each cheek ending in a little mudbank, showed that just two tears had flowed halfway down her cheeks and dried there undisturbed in the absorption of her interest.