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- Glenloch Girls - 3/38 -
funny time getting home," said Ruth.
"Well, I called on them the last time I went East, and found them living not far from Boston in a very delightful home, and when that letter reminded me of them today I thought at once that their home would be just the place for you if they were willing to take you."
"Are there any children in the family?"
"One boy about sixteen," replied Mr. Shirley.
"Dear me! I wish he had a sister. But, papa, have you any idea that they'll want to take a strange girl into their family for a whole year? If they will take me I shall be so much nearer Europe, shan't I?"
"Of course you will, darling, and I somehow have the feeling that they'll be glad to have you with them," said Mr. Shirley. "Now if you agree with me that it is best to try this plan, I'll write tonight, for I'm sorry to say our plans must be made quickly."
Ruth's eyes filled with tears which she could not hide. "It all seems so horrid to me when I think of being without you, papa," she said slowly, "that I can't make any choice. You'll have to do just as you think best, and perhaps I shall learn to be brave."
Mr. Shirley hugged her tight for a moment without speaking. Then he said tenderly, "Darling, go to bed now and try to sleep. Perhaps in the morning things will look brighter to you. We'll talk it over then and see what is best to be done."
Ruth kissed him and tried to smile, "Goodnight, papa; I'll be a better chum tomorrow," she said with an effort, and then went quickly from the room.
"Why, how delightful, Henry," cried Mrs. Hamilton, as she finished reading a letter which her husband had just handed to her. "Of course we want the little girl to come at once."
"Of course," agreed Mr. Hamilton with equal heartiness. "It will be nice to have a little daughter around the house to bring me my slippers and play and sing to me when I am tired. But what will Arthur think of it?" inquired Mr. Hamilton with a note of anxiety in his voice.
"I hadn't thought of that," answered his wife, her bright face clouding. "I dare say he won't like it at all, but I don't see that we can let him decide it. Perhaps it may do him good in the end."
"Well, I shall leave you to settle it with him," said Mr. Hamilton rising from the table. "For some reason nothing I say seems to make much of an impression on him nowadays."
"I must say that I get dreadfully discouraged, too," confessed his wife. "He is so hopelessly indifferent to everything he used to like; he utterly refuses to see one of the boys or girls, and he sits for hours at a time doing absolutely nothing. I can see that the doctor is really anxious about him," she continued.
"Keep up your courage, dear," said Mr. Hamilton with more cheerfulness than he felt. "Perhaps we shall find a way out of it soon."
"I'll go up now and tell Arthur about Ruth," said Mrs. Hamilton as she said goodbye to her husband in the hall. "That will give him something to think of, whether he likes the prospect or not."
As Mrs. Hamilton entered the little sitting-room which used to be the pride of her son's heart, it was so full of warmth and light and brightness that, for a moment, in spite of herself, she felt as if she must see the cheery boy of six months before. Everything so suggested him, and it was so clearly the room of a boy who loved all kinds of outdoor exercise. A pair of tennis racquets crossed on the wall had evidently resigned their place for the time being to the golf clubs which stood in one comer. A couple of paddles occupied another comer, and rigged on the wall near the door was a complicated arrangement of ropes, pulleys and weights designed to exercise every muscle in the human body. Mrs. Hamilton sighed involuntarily as her eye rested on a silver cup which stood proudly on the centre table, a mute witness to the prowess of its owner. It was the prize for a hundred yard dash in which Arthur had borne off the honors.
"He'll never be able to do that again, poor laddie," she said to herself, as she waited a moment to brush the tears from her eyes before opening the door into the next room.
"Good-morning, dear boy," she said brightly, as she entered a room which seemed doubly gloomy to her after the brightness of the one she had left. "You should provide a boy with a torch so that your visitors can see to get across the room. What ho! have I found you at last?" she continued, as she took her son's hand in a tender grasp and gave him a good-morning kiss.
"Do let's have some sunshine, Arthur," she said, putting up the curtain and letting in a flood of light. "There, now I feel more at home. Why don't you get the benefit of the morning sunshine?"
"I don't like to look out just at this time in the morning, mother," he answered briefly.
Mrs. Hamilton understood in a flash, for just as they were speaking a gay group of boys and girls had passed the window, and Arthur, who had turned involuntarily to look at them, had closed his eyes quickly as though to shut out the pleasant sight.
"Dr. Holland says you may begin to study again, now, Arthur," said his mother cheerfully, "and it seems to me you might be ready for college next fall if you do a little every day. You may have a tutor any time you are ready."
"What's the use?" answered Arthur languidly. "I can't do anything in athletics with this confounded leg, and I don't want to go there just to limp around and grind."
"My dear boy, college training is occasionally useful in the way of improving one's mind as well as muscles," said Mrs. Hamilton with mild sarcasm. "Dear, don't think I am unsympathetic," she added quickly as her son. frowned impatiently. "I realize, in part, at least, what it must be to you to give up your dreams of athletic glory; but I know, too, that no one else can fight this battle for you. You've got to face the question squarely, and I have faith that you will come out a conqueror if you put your best self into the effort."
"Mother, you don't begin to know," said Arthur slowly, "what this means to me. It's not alone giving up the athletics, though that's hard enough, but it's the sensitiveness I feel about letting any one see that I'm lame. I believe I was rather proud before," he continued with a faint smile, "because I was straight and strong and could almost always beat the other boys at any game we tried; I know it always seemed to me the most dreadful thing in the world to be crippled in any way, and now I've got to hop around with a crutch all the rest of my life. Oh, I believe I'd rather die," he ended bitterly.
"Arthur, dear, I can understand that feeling perfectly," answered his mother eagerly, "for at your age I had it as strongly as you have. I think it is only natural to rejoice in strength and straightness and skill, and to be sensitive if in any way they are taken away from us. But for all our sakes you've got to bring yourself out of this unhappy condition. Begin with your crutches about your room, and when you get a little skill surprise father and me by coming downstairs. We miss our boy more than I can say."
There was silence for a moment and then Mrs. Hamilton said:
"I came up with a pocketful of news and have almost forgotten to tell you about it. We are to have a new member in our family; a little girl, the daughter of an old friend of mine, is coming to live with us for a whole year."
"How old is she?" asked Arthur indifferently.
"I'm not quite sure," answered his mother, relieved to find that he took it so calmly, "but I think she is about fourteen."
"Fourteen! Gracious!" ejaculated Arthur sitting bolt upright in his dismay. "You don't mean to say that we've got to have a girl fourteen years old in this house? I thought you meant a child about four or five when you said 'little girl.'"
Mrs. Hamilton couldn't help laughing at his comical look of apprehension. "I think she's quite harmless, Arthur, and perhaps you may find her really agreeable when you know her."
"You know I don't know how to get on with girls, mother," he answered ruefully. "I shall keep out of her way as much as possible, she may be sure of that."
"I am sorry to find you so ungraciously disposed toward our guest," said Mrs. Hamilton quietly, "for I hoped you would help me to make it pleasant for her. Her mother died only a little more than a year ago, and now she is going to lose her father for a year, so I am afraid the poor child will be rather forlorn."
"We shall make a pretty pair for you and father to get along with," said Arthur half ashamed. "I'm blue and disagreeable most of the time, and she'll probably be ready to burst into tears at a moment's notice."
"There are other ways of giving way to one's feelings that are fully as bad as tears, I think, my son," said Mrs. Hamilton significantly.
Arthur said nothing, but his chin went down upon his hand in a way that seemed to signify that he knew what his mother meant.
Mrs. Hamilton looked at the curly head remorsefully, and longed to pet and comfort as only mothers can. She knew, however, that Arthur must be made to see that he was spoiling his life by giving way to this great trial which had come to him.
"Well, dear boy," she said at last, "I must go now and write to
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