"No," said the wife, "but it's lonesome. If it had only been Anne! I shall miss Gerty the worst kind. And it'll kill the show!"
And to tell the truth, the show languished. Nothing but the happy acquisition of a Chinese giant nearly eight feet high, with slanting eyes and a long pigtail,--a man who did penance in his height for the undue brevity of his undersized nation,--would have saved the "museum."
Meantime the neat proprieties of orderly life found but a poor disciple in Gerty. Her warm heart opened to the dear old ladies; but she found nothing familiar in this phantom of herself, this well-dressed little girl who, after a rapid convalescence, was introduced at school and "meeting" under the name of Adelaide. The school studies did not dismay her, but she played the jew's-harp at recess, and danced the clog-dance in india-rubbers, to the dismay of the little Misses Grundy, her companions. In the calisthenic exercises she threw beanbags with an untamed vigor that soon ripped the stitches of the bags, and sowed those vegetables in every crack of the school-room floor. There was a ladder in the garden, and it was some comfort to ascend it hand over hand upon the under side, or to hang by her toes from the upper rung, to the terror of her schoolmates.
But she became ashamed of the hardness of her palms, and she grew in general weary of her life. Her clothes pinched her, so did her new boots; Madam Delia had gone to Providence with the show, and Gerty had not so much as seen the new Chinese giant.
Of all days Sunday was the most objectionable, when she had to sit still in Friends' Meeting and think how pleasant it would be to hang by the knees, head downward, from the parapet of the gallery. She liked better the Seamen's Bethel, near by, where there was an aroma of tar and tarpaulin that suggested the odors of the show-tent, and where, when the Methodist exhorter gave out the hymn, "Howl, howl, ye winds of night," the choir rendered it with such vigor that it was like being at sea in a northeaster. But each week made her new life harder, until, having cried herself asleep one Saturday evening, she rose early the next morning for her orisons, which, I regret to say, were as follows:--
"I must get out of this," quoth Gerty, "I must cut and run. I'll make it all right for the old ladies, for I'll send 'em Anne. She'll like it here first rate."
She hunted up such remnants of her original wardrobe as had been thought worth washing and preserving, and having put them on, together with a hat whose trimmings had been vehemently burned by Miss Martha, she set out to seek her fortune. Of all her new possessions, she took only a pair of boots, and those she carried in her hand as she crept softly down stairs.
"Save us!" exclaimed Biddy, who had been to a Mission Mass of incredible length, and was already sweeping the doorsteps. "Christmas!" she added, as a still more pious ejaculation, when the child said, "Good by, Biddy, I'm off now."
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