Goodwill: I should like to make this a Christmas they would remember the year through!
Happyheart: I should like to teach them to believe in fairies!
Peace: Perhaps if we could fill their tree with gifts they would not forget!
Merrylips: Let's ask Joy! Spirit: Where is she?
Happyheart: Oh, she is still working. But if we sing her song she will come!
Merrylips: Let's sing, then! (Holds up her finger.) One, two, three! (All sing softly the Christmas Carol, "Joy to the World." As they sing Joy runs into the room. The fairies circle about her.)
Joy (stepping to the foreground and stretching arms): Oh, I am so tired!
Spirit (steps forward and lays her hand on Joy's shoulder): Poor little Joy-fairy!
Joy: I've been so busy making happiness! This funny world needs so much of it and everyone wants something different! And there were so many children! (Turns to the tree.) What—another tree?
Spirit: Yes, and we have no presents! Happyheart can make their hearts light and Peace can give them a song, but, you know, I'd just like to have them have some presents—like children have!
Merrylips (dances a step or two): Fairy presents would be fun! They are more fun than real presents and can make wishes come true!
Goodwill: They say grownfolks are worse than children about making wishes, only they keep their wishes locked up!
Happyheart: Wouldn't it be lovely?
Joy: I know—let's call the Spirit of Childhood!
Happyheart: Splendid! She will surely know a way!
Spirit: How can we call her, Joy-fairy? Joy: Put your fingers over your eyes tight! (All put their fingers over their eyes.) Now, say after me—"Spirit of Childhood, come at our call!"
Spirit of Childhood, come at our call, Spirit of Childhood, come at our call!
(As they repeat this the Spirit of Childhood dances joyously into the room and faces them. As they remove their fingers from their eyes, they bow low.)
Childhood (faces audience): I am the Spirit of Childhood! I am the happiest fairy of all! I am known all over this wide, wide world! Everybody loves me! Sometimes I am a dream, too, and I come out of the past when it is very still and creep into old, old hearts!
Happyheart (impatiently): We know all that!
Spirit (steps toward Childhood): We want you to help us now, Childhood, to make Christmas merry for this party of grownfolks.
Childhood: No children? They're all grownfolks?
Spirit: No children. They're all grownfolks.
Childhood: Poor things! How sad!
Spirit: But they have a tree and we want to give them gifts which, because they are fairy gifts, will make their best every-day wish come true!
Childhood: Yes-they'll think, because they are grownups, they must have useful gifts! But they shall have fairy gifts!
Happyheart (to other fairies): I told you she'd help us! Merrylips: And these grown folks must make a big, big wish and have it on top of their hearts! Then, if they carry their gifts in the bottom of their pockets their wishes will come true!
Childhood: I will call my Jesters! They are clever knaves—they will find the gifts!
Happyheart: Call them quickly!
Childhood: I have to do very funny things, because I am Childhood, you know. (She dances backward and forward across the room, with merry step; pirouettes and points finger into audience.) Some one out there must laugh, or the Jesters will not think we are merry. Laugh, someone, laugh! Harder! I am Childhood! Laugh with me! (As she speaks some one in the audience laughs; others join.)
Childhood (runs to door):
Jester big, jester small, Come at Childhood's merry call!
(Jesters enter—stand near door.)
Childhood (to Jesters): Go—find and bring us the biggest Christmas stocking in the world! It must be filled with fairy gifts! (Jesters hurry out.)
Goodwill: How will we know which gifts to give each person?
Childhood: Oh, I will look in my Book of the Past! You see I have to keep careful records of everybody!
Spirit: Why it's just like Santa Claus used to do when the old-fashioned children believed in him! Happyheart: He was a fine man!
Spirit: Ah, here they come!
(Enter Jesters dragging behind them an enormous Christmas stocking made of red cambric. They give it to the Christmas Spirit, then step back to the door.)
Childhood (as others gather around the stocking): Go, Jesters, and bring me my Book of Records!
Happyheart: Open it quickly! (Spirit opens stocking—all peep in.) Oh, lots and lots of gifts!
(Jester returns, gives book to Childhood who goes to the right of group and stands next to Happyheart.)
Childhood (solemnly to audience): Are all the grownups ready? Have they got their best wish on top of their hearts?
Happyheart: Is every one happy?
Goodwill: Do you all feel very, very kind to one another?
Peace: Do you know my songs?
Childhood: Then let's have a bright light so that we may begin!
(Lights of the room flash on.)
(Spirit takes packages one by one from the stocking and reads the name. Then she holds the package while Happyheart reads from Childhood's Record what the book has to say of each person. After this has been read Joy with dancing step takes the fairy package to the person named. This goes on until every one in the audience has received a gift.)
Spirit (throws stocking down): The stocking is empty!
Happyheart: The fairy gifts are all gone! Childhood (shakes finger at audience): But each one of you has a wish that will come true, just as sure as sure can be; for you have received a fairy gift!
Happyheart: And now they will be happy!
Goodwill (claps her hands together as if with a happy thought): Let us send the Jesters to bring in to them the Christmas Bowl! If they drink our fairy brew they will never, never forget this Christmas!
Happyheart: And they will always believe in the Christmas Spirit!
Spirit: And in the Christmas Fairies!
Goodwill: Go, Jesters, and bring in to them the Christmas Bowl! (Jesters go out quickly.)
Spirit: Now, fairies, we must stop our work! We've worked overtime already, and you know there is an eight-hour law now for fairies.
Merrylips: Yes, but we've helped these poor grownfolks! Happyheart: Let us say farewell to them! Now, one—two—three!
Chorus (waving hands):
May the brew that we've mixed you make every heart light, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!
(Fairies dance out, followed by the Spirit. Jesters, blowing horns, enter the room, bearing a tray upon which is placed a punch bowl filled with Nora's best cider punch.)
* * * * *
Loud applause demanded the return of the fairies and then all gathered in a merry group around the punch bowl while Mr. Lee toasted the youthful cast.
"I suspect you, Miss Bab, of a hand in those records," he cried, shaking a finger at Barbara. A paper crown was set rakishly on his head.
Behind the laughter in Mrs. Lee's eyes was shining something very like tears as she drew little Alice to her. Across the brightly-crowned heads of the children her glance caught Mr. Lee's.
"I feel as if my heart had been brushed by fairy wings to-night," she said with a happy sigh.
"William, it can't be true!"
Keineth, pausing on the threshold of the dining-room door, overheard the words. Peggy and Billy had gone to school; she was starting out for her music lesson and had stopped to ask Aunt Nellie a question. The tone of Aunt Nellie's voice, the seriousness of Mr. Lee's face, made Keineth's heart turn cold with fear!
"Aunt Nellie." They both turned towards her, startled. Involuntarily Mrs. Lee slipped the newspaper she had been reading under her napkin.
"Keineth, dear!" She held out her hand, her eyes filling with tears.
Keineth stood quite still, looking from one to the other, and because he was always somewhere very close in her mind and heart she cried "Daddy!"
Mrs. Lee had a curiously helpless look, as if she scarcely knew what to say, and with one hand she still held the paper beneath her napkin. Mr. Lee's voice was husky, he had to clear it two or three times before he could speak, and all the while Keineth's great eyes were fastened gravely upon him, demanding the truth.
"It may be a false report, my dear. There's been an accident at sea, and according to the paper—"
"My daddy was in it!" cried Keineth, putting her hands to her face. "Was my daddy in it?" she demanded in a queer little voice.
"Come here, dear," Mrs. Lee held out her hand again, but Keineth did not stir.
"Was he—in—it?" she demanded again.
"His name was listed among the passengers sailing from Liverpool, but there may have been a mistake."
Keineth's eyes were blazing. She walked to the table.
"Please give me that paper, Aunt Nellie! I have a right to know what it says!" She did not seem like the child she was as she stood there, white-faced. Her voice was very calm. Aunt Nellie handed her the paper; as she did so she said pleadingly: "Keineth, why not wait until your Uncle William has found out if it is true?" But Keineth did not hear her; she slowly unfolded the paper, stared a moment at the headlines, then, turning, rushed with it from the room.
There it was—his name! Her finger found it and stopped, as though she cared nothing for the rest! She read the big letters of the headlines, the few words that told of the attack by a German submarine on the big passenger ship, of the horrible confusion of the few moments before it sank, of the wild panic of the cowardly and the splendid bravery of a few! Then: "John Randolph, of New York City, the well-known journalist, abroad on a special mission for the President of the United States, was among the passengers."
Keineth, on her knees, with the paper spread out before her, read and reread the words. They sounded so final! He was gone—her daddy was gone!
And yet—how could this happen to her in this way? She knew a little of death; way back in her memory was a haunting picture of her own mother's going, of her father's grief and the music and the flowers. And she had watched the funeral of Francesca's baby brother from behind the geranium boxes. There had been music then, too. But this was so different—just the lines in the newspaper and then nothing more, ever and ever and ever! It couldn't happen like that! She was too puzzled to cry. There were so many questions she wanted to ask-how deep was the ocean there? Couldn't they swim? And whom could she ask who would tell her all about it?
She heard the door open, but did not turn her head. She felt Aunt Nellie's arms lift her, draw her head close to her breast. Aunt Nellie's voice was very tender.
"Uncle William has gone to telegraph immediately to the New York offices of the steamship line. We may learn more, my dear. You must be brave—you know how brave your father always was."
Almost violently Keineth pushed her away.
"I don't believe it!" she cried. Seizing the paper, she tore it into little bits and threw them fiercely to the floor.
"I'll never, never, nev-er believe it! He will come back!" And poor Keineth threw herself upon her bed and covered her face tight with her hands She had caught the look of deep pity on Aunt Nellie's face. Aunt Nellie believed it! She could not bear it!
"Please go away," she begged through her fingers. And Aunt Nellie slipped out of the room, closing the door softly behind her.
Keineth could shut from her eyes Aunt Nellie's pity, but she could not shut from her mind the flood of thoughts that came. Cruel thoughts, too, which her persistent "I don't believe it" failed to drive away! She had seen a picture once of a sinking ship; a great wave of water had engulfed it, men were clinging to its side like flies! She remembered it now! Remembered, too, an awful storm when, holding her daddy's hand, she had watched from a high point of land the angry sea surging over the rocks far beneath them. It was green and black and white where the water hissed, and its roar had made her shiver! That was the same sea! "Oh, I don't believe it!" she whispered. She had made so many pictures in her mind of her father's home-coming—she had felt sure he would surprise her! She had thought that perhaps she might go back to the old house and find him there, or go with someone to the dock and watch his boat come in and see him waving from its deck! Perhaps she might be standing some afternoon in the living-room window looking down the street watching Terry light the street lamps and suddenly see him walking towards her! And now—oh, it just couldn't be true!
At noon Mr. Lee came home to luncheon. The newspaper report had been confirmed by the New York offices of the steamship company. He said this very gravely and slowly, as though he hated to speak the words. Peggy sat watching Keineth in a frightened sort of way; she wished Keineth would cry so that she could put her arms around her to comfort her! But Keineth only sat very still staring down at her plate.
"I think I'll practice, Aunt Nellie," Keineth said when the luncheon was finished. She had to do something. She walked out of the room as she spoke, Peggy cast an entreating look toward her mother.
"Mummy, isn't it dreadful? What will we do? She acts so queer!"
Mrs. Lee answered very slowly. "Keineth will not believe it, Peggy! But when she does, when her loss comes to her, we must help her in every way! We must make her feel how much we love her and that she is one of us!"
"Why, what if it was our daddy," Peggy cried. "Listen!"
For from across the hall came wonderful music—not the lesson Keineth should be practicing, but fairy things! And happy notes, too, as though Keineth's own hands were trying to dispel the heavy shadows about her and give her comfort and hope!
Mr. Lee was carefully reading the report of the disaster in the afternoon paper.
"You know it's a funny thing—no one on the boat had seen John Randolph! Maybe—"
"Oh, maybe he got left!" cried Billy, who all through the tragic moments had been unusually silent.
Suddenly the doorbell rang. Its clang startled each one of them! The music across the hall stopped with a crash! They heard Keineth flying to the door.
In a moment she returned, holding a yellow envelope in her hand. Though it was addressed to her she carried it to Mr. Lee. "Please read it," she said in a trembling voice. "I think it is from Daddy! I—can't!"
Peggy crossed quickly to Keineth's side and put one arm close about her. Mr. Lee tore open the cablegram, read the lines written in it, tried to speak and, failing, put the sheet of paper in Keineth's hands.
"Oh!" Keineth cried. "Oh!" Something like a laugh caught in her throat.
Changed plans—did not sail on boat. Thank God! —JOHN RANDOLPH.
Both of Peggy's arms flew around her now; they hugged one another and both cried. And Aunt Nellie was crying, too, and Mr. Lee had to wipe his eyes. Billy was saying over and over, "Didn't I just have a hunch, now?"
The shadows lifted from their hearts, the children listened while Mr. Lee read to them the full account of the disaster which had stirred every nation of the globe. Billy and Peggy asked many questions, but Keineth was very silent. There were other little girls whose fathers had gone down into the sea—her heart went out to them in deepest pity. "I feel as though this morning was weeks ago," she said afterwards as she and Peggy curled upon the window seat with some sewing. From outside the sun was shining through the bare branches of the trees, making dancing figures on the polished floor. Keineth sighed. "It makes one realize how unhappy lots and lots of people are."
"And it makes you feel as though you could do anything to help them," answered Peggy, staring thoughtfully out of the window where on the city street humanity surged backward and forward in all the forms of joy and sorrow known by God's children.
PILOT GOES AWAY
Pilot's dog-life had fallen into pleasant paths. His days were one happy round of comfortable hours, spent close to the big fireplace or at Billy's heels. He slept on an old blanket in the hallway outside of Billy's door. His friends were Billy's friends and their dogs—Pilot was loyal and democratic to the end of his stubby tail. His duties were few and pleasant—to guard his master and his master's family, to keep the next-door cat away from his door and to inspect daily the refuse barrels in the backyards of his street. If he had a sorrow it was that he could not go to school with the children, but he always went with them to the corner, lifted his paw for a parting shake, watched them disappear from sight, and trotted home to wait for the hour when they would return. Twice daily Nora fed him choice scraps and bones which he ate from a plate in the back hall, and if occasionally someone spoke sharply to him or rebuked him for thoughtlessly lying upon one of the chairs or the davenport, the sting was always softened by a pat on his head. What hardships he had had in the past had been forgotten—he had no concern for the future!
Of course Pilot could not always understand the language his master spoke. He read mostly by signs. So, one morning, when he saw Billy and Peggy and Keineth making preparations for some out-of-door pleasure, he stood eagerly at Billy's heels, wagging his tail to tell his master that he was ready, too.
"We can't take him on the street-car," Peggy complained.
"And he might get lost in the woods," Keineth added.
Now Pilot could not know that the children were putting on heavy rubbers and warm sweaters under their coats because they were going to "hike" into the woods to see if the sap was beginning to run. And from their excited remarks he could not reason that, to get to the woods, they would have to take the street-car to the city line and dogs were not allowed on the street-cars. It was Saturday, and Saturday to Pilot meant a whole day with Billy! So when they were quite ready he dashed ahead to the door.
"You can't go Pilot. Go back!" Billy said sternly.
He stood very still and watched them disappear through the door, giving only one little whimper. They did not even say good-by; he heard their merry voices slowly die away. Then he lay down on the floor with one eye on the closed door.
But even the most faithful will not wait forever. The sound of Nora's step coaxed him into the kitchen. It was quite nice there—the sun was shining across the white floor and something on the stove smelled very good. Nora was singing, too, which meant that he could coax a little and get in her way. After a while she gave him a whole cookie—he felt happier!
A little later, having wandered several times through the empty rooms of the house and found no one, he started out of doors in search of some amusement. He chased the cat to the veranda roof from which she refused to descend. He saw a friend of Billy's, so he left the cat to walk with him to the corner. He carefully examined some boxes that were piled there, then he made friends with a stray terrier who stopped to exchange greetings with him. Pilot liked the terrier, together they trotted down the street, block after block.
He did not notice a big limousine car that passed and re-passed him—to him these motor cars were of no interest excepting to keep out from under their wheels. But when it stopped suddenly at the curb and an old man climbed out, calling "Jacky, Jacky!" he paused.
The old man was beckoning to his chauffeur and talking in an excited voice.
"Come and look at him! I know it's Jacky," he was saying.
At the name a memory stirred in Pilot's mind. He advanced slowly to the man. The man held out his hand and called again, "Jacky," and Pilot went to him and laid his nose in the palm of the man's hand.
"It's Jacky, it's Jacky," the old man cackled. "He'd always do that when I called him! Look at his ears—one got torn and I had a stitch taken in it! Look and see, Briggs, my eyes are so bad." Briggs pushed back the hair on Pilot's ears and found the scar. The old man was very joyful.
"He was stolen from me two years ago! Look on his collar, Briggs."
Briggs read aloud the address on the collar.
"We'll take him there right away, Briggs! Come on, Jacky, my boy!"
But Pilot considered this going a little too far—he objected, at which the man Briggs lifted him and placed him in the automobile. He was far too polite to struggle for his freedom, but he put his paws upon the door and barked a vigorous protest.
Mrs. Lee had just returned from shopping and answered the bell herself. Across her mind flashed immediately the explanation of the strange group on her doorstep. In a few words she told the old man the story of Pilot's coming into their family. As he listened he nodded several times.
"I cared more for that dog than anything on earth," he told her. "He was always with me! When he was stolen I couldn't get over it, Madam—just couldn't get over it! Felt as if I'd lost my only friend!" Mrs. Lee wished she could feel sympathetic, but she was thinking of Billy!
"Now let him go, Briggs, and you watch him, Madam!"
Briggs released his hold of Pilot's collar, Pilot leaped upon Mrs. Lee joyfully, tore down the length of the hall and back and then stood a little apart, eyeing suspiciously the strange group.
"Come, Jacky, come Jacky!" cackled the old man, holding out his hand.
And Pilot, above all else, was faithful! Slowly, reluctantly, he went towards the outstretched hand and laid his nose in it.
"Always did that when I called him! See his ear, Madam—I had a stitch taken in it when he tore it! See the scar?"
There was no doubt in Mrs. Lee's mind but that the dog belonged to the man.
"My children are going to be heartbroken," she commenced slowly. "Could we buy—"
The old man snorted angrily. "Buy Jacky? Don't you know he's a very valuable dog? And anyway, you haven't enough money to buy his companionship from me! Your children can get another dog, Madam, but for me there is only one Jacky!" As he spoke with fumbling fingers he drew out a card and a dollar bill. "Pay the boy his dollar, Madam. Take him down, Briggs. Very sorry, Madam, but good-day!"
Briggs pulled on the collar and Pilot went down the steps very slowly. He knew in his dog-mind that something was happening! He turned and looked appealingly at Mrs. Lee. She was standing very still and was not helping him at all! He tried to tell her to tell Billy that he had to do his duty and when this man called him Jacky he knew he had to go, but he would always love his young master best!
So when the children returned to the house, cheeks red with the wind, splashed with mud, tired and happy, there was no Pilot to greet them!
Mrs. Lee told them the story; tried to tell it in such a way that the children would feel sorry for the lonely old man who had been so happy at finding his dog!
But Billy raged—his high-pitched voice choking over the sob that struggled in his throat. He threw the dollar and the card savagely to the floor.
"Wouldn't you have thought the old thing would have at least given Billy a reward!" cried Peggy indignantly.
Though she did not answer this, Mrs. Lee smiled, as she recalled the reluctance with which the old man had extracted even the one-dollar bill from his pocket.
"I don't want any old reward—I just want Pilot! If we hadn't gone away and left him that old man would never have found him," Billy wailed.
"Couldn't we buy him, Mother?"
"The dog is worth a great deal of money. I'm afraid we could scarcely afford it, my dear, even if the man would part with him. Billy must look at the thing in a sensible way." She laid her hand on Billy's shoulder. "Pilot will miss you as much as you do him, my son! But you have a great many other things to make you happy and I should judge that that old man had nothing!"
Keineth went up to her room to take off her muddy shoes. On her bureau she found a letter Nora had placed there. In the corner of the envelope was printed in large letters: "Brown and Company." She tore it open with fingers trembling with excitement. It was from the music publishers, telling her that they would publish her "Castle of Dreams," and for its purchase had enclosed a check.
And Keineth, unfolding the small slip of paper, saw written there: "The Sum of Twenty-five Dollars."
Twenty-five dollars! To Keineth it seemed like a fortune!
She had never thought much about money. She knew some people were very poor—she had often felt sorry for them as she watched them near the Square in New York. And she knew some were very rich, for Aunt Josephine talked of them. She had always had all the money she wanted, because she had never wanted very much. She supposed Peggy and the others had all they wanted, too. Each week Mr. Lee gave to each one of them a small allowance and whenever they managed to save anything from this each of them put it in her bank. Keineth supposed that the Lees were not as rich as Aunt Josephine and not as poor as Francesca's family next door to her old home, but it didn't seem to matter at all, because she did not think that the Lees wanted to be rich, anyway. They never talked of anything in terms of dollars and cents! Twenty-five dollars—that seemed enough to Keineth to buy everything anyone could want!
Keineth and Peggy had carefully kept the precious secret of the "Castle of Dreams." For a few weeks they had watched the mail each day, then the holiday fun had filled their minds and the secret was forgotten. As the weeks passed and Keineth heard nothing she had almost given up all hope of selling her music and her great ambitions had taken a sad fall. Peggy had urged her to consult her music master about it, but after one or two attempts Keineth found she had not the courage.
And now a check had come! Twenty-five whole dollars!
"Peggy! Peggy!" she called, unable to wait one moment to share the good news.
It was a very excited family that listened to their story at dinner time. Even Billy, red-eyed, forgot his own sorrow. Everyone had to hold the check and read it! Then each one suggested some way for Keineth to spend her money!
And as is the way with all fortunes, sooner or later they become a burden! Already, even while they made merry over the check, Keineth was beginning to worry as to what she should do with it! Of course Mr. Lee had advised her putting it in the bank, but that did not seem like much fun! If Daddy were at home she would buy something for him with it or she might send it to Tante to help the poor children that were suffering from the war.
"Give it to the Red Cross!" Peggy suggested grandly.
"Buy a bicycle!" said Alice, "or one of those cunning electric stoves that we can cook on!"
"If I had it I'd buy Pilot!" put in Billy sadly.
"I'd like to do something with it," said Keineth slowly, "that would make somebody just awfully happy, because—" She looked down the length of the table and realized suddenly how dear to her these Lees had grown and what this home was to her. "Because I'm so happy here!"
And even while she was speaking she decided just what she would do! But she would tell no one, not even Peggy!
She would buy Pilot for Billy! Mrs. Lee had said they could not afford it! What good luck that her check had come just at the right time! After dinner she searched for and found the old man's card. It was soiled and crumpled from Billy's angry fingers. She hid it away with the check. She must wait until Monday.
Keineth had to ride on the street-car a very long way before she reached the address which the card gave. Then she found herself before a great iron fence and had to ring twice before the big gate in the fence opened. It opened quite by itself and it clanged shut behind her, startling her with its noise. There seemed to be a million steps leading to the big bronze door and her feet moved like tons of lead! She had to ring again. The door swung back and a sour-faced man in dark livery faced her.
"Is—is Mr. Grandison at home?" she asked in a voice so strange that she scarcely recognized it herself.
The sour-faced man looked very hard at her.
"Who is it, miss?" he asked wonderingly, as though few people came to that door for Mr. Grandison.
"I'm Keineth Randolph. I must see him, please!" "He never sees anyone, miss, but you can go in. Only I wouldn't advise you to bother him very much because he's bad this morning with his rheumatism!"
He was telling her this in a whisper as he led her through the long hall. Keineth thought it quite the longest, widest hall she had ever seen and she walked very fast past the big doors that opened into dark empty rooms that looked like great caverns! If a giant, bending his great head, had leaped through one of the heavy door-frames she would have thought it quite to be expected!
The servant drew back a door and Keineth saw a long room full of books. At the other end, close to a table, sat an old, old man. Then she saw something move suddenly and Pilot dashed at her from a corner and leaped upon her with great whimpering, licking her hands and face and even her shoes.
"What's this? Come here, Jacky! Who are you? Who let you in here?" roared the old man, glaring at Keineth.
Keineth, terribly frightened, advanced slowly towards him, one hand on the dog's head. "I live at the bees' where you found Pilot. We all miss him so terribly, especially Billy, that I came to buy him back!"
"You did, did you? Well, nobody has money enough to buy him."
Keineth was so indignant at his disagreeable manner that she forgot her fright.
"I know the Lees haven't money enough, because they have so many children and buy lots of things for them and give them a good time! But I'm going to buy Pilot for them! I know Pilot couldn't be happy here, anyway, it's so—so big and horrid and you're so—cross—after having a happy home with the Lees!"
Pilot, as though to tell her that was very true, snuggled his nose under her arm and wagged his tail.
"I've got twenty-five dollars," finished Keineth triumphantly, "and I can spend all of it because I earned it myself—writing music!"
He turned and looked hard at her. Her fury seemed to have amused him.
"Music—you write music! A child like you!"
Keineth stepped closer to him. "Yes. Do you like music?"
The old man answered very slowly. "It was all I cared for once upon a time! Let me see your eyes!" He reached out a wrinkled hand and drew her towards him. "They are blue—like hers were! Child, years and years ago I loved a young girl very much—and she taught me to love music! But she went out of my life and left me with nothing but loneliness!"
Keineth thought of the great empty house and felt very sorry for him.
"What was her name?" she asked softly.
"A pretty name—like she was!" he muttered, his eyes fastened on the child's face. It was as if something he saw there was awakening the memories. "It was Keineth."
"Why, that is my name!"
"Keineth—Keineth what?" he cried.
"You are John Randolph's girl—her son's girl."
"You mean my grandmother? That—lady—you loved was my daddy's mother?"
The old man was half laughing, half crying. He held Keineth's arms with his trembling fingers.
"Of course—the same blue eyes—and music! How your grandmother loved music! How her fingers could play, make sounds that'd tear the heart right out of you!" He shook his head. "And she wouldn't have me—my money couldn't buy her! After she died I stood in the Square and watched them take her away from the house—saw the flowers I had sent go with her! I saw the man she had chosen instead of me walk out, too. He had two children by the hand—the little fellow was your father. I went away from New York then—" He drew his hands across his eyes as though to brush away the haunting pictures. "And you're Keineth!" he finished.
Keineth told him of her daddy and of her coming from New York to live with the Lees until her father returned. She had almost forgotten Pilot in her deep sympathy for this lonely old man who had loved her father's mother—and had loved her for so many, many years! But Pilot suddenly barked!
"Pilot thinks he belongs to us because he once saved my life," Keineth explained, going on, then, to tell the story of her narrow escape from drowning. Perhaps the old man heard her, though his face still wore a far-away look as if he had not yet been able to bring himself back from that dear past the child's eyes had awakened.
"And so I'd like to buy him, please," Keineth finished, laying her check before him.
For a long time the old man stared at it, while Keineth and Pilot waited.
"He loves you better than he does me! You're right—he wasn't happy here—he's cried and cried! I can't keep even a dog's love! Take him." He slowly lifted the check, read it, turned it over, folded it and put it in his pocket.
Then Keineth felt very sorry for the old man. She felt, too, that now in some way or other he belonged to her, though not exactly related.
"Won't you come home to lunch with me? Then you can meet Peggy and the others and see how glad they are to get Pilot back! They'll be awfully glad to see you, really! Please don't be lonely any more—for—I'll be your friend!"
He had risen slowly to his feet, towering over her. He looked down at the bright face. Keineth slipped her hand into his.
"Oh, please come—it'll be such fun," and she gave his fingers a coaxing, friendly squeeze.
The sour-faced servant muttered, "Well, I never!" under his breath, when he saw his master walk through the door to his waiting car, holding the little girl's hand and listening to her chatter with a smile! It was the strangest sight he had ever beheld in this very strange house!
But it was a stranger sight for the Lees when the big limousine drew up at their curb and Pilot dashed from its door, followed by Keineth and a very, very old man who leaned one hand upon Keineth's shoulder.
"Pilot!" cried Billy, who had seen them through the window.
"And that old man!" echoed Peggy.
In the hall Billy was on his knees with his arms around Pilot's neck.
"Dear, dear old Pilot!" he was saying over and over.
Mrs. Lee, concealing her amazement when Keineth quaintly introduced "my friend, Mr. Grandison," greeted him cordially and by her smile and gracious manner made the old man immediately feel at home. At the table she placed him between Keineth and Peggy, and Peggy found that he was not such a cross old man after all!
"It's just like a story, Ken," she said after he had gone away and Keineth had given them an account of her morning's adventure. "You have found a fairy grandfather! But wasn't it scrumptious to see His Aged Grandness eating hash?"
"Well, I guess Keineth's money has been well spent," added Mrs. Lee, looking fondly at the little girl. "For I think—besides making Billy very happy, it has opened a new life to a very lonely old man!"
"I'll never forget what Ken has done," said Billy solemnly, as though he was taking a vow. "She's just all right and I'd like to see anyone that says she ain't!"
"Billy—your English!" pleaded his mother.
But Keineth blushed with pleasure. She knew she had won Billy's everlasting friendship! That evening a boy brought to the door a huge package addressed to Miss Keineth Randolph. It was a set of beautifully bound books, "The Lives of the Masters," and with them came a little note written in a queer, old-fashioned handwriting.
May these books give instruction, inspiration and courage to one whose feet are on the threshold. They are bought with the money you unselfishly spent to give a boy back his dog.
Your devoted friend,
"Why, I just can't believe that I'm Peggy Lee!" Peggy stood in the aisle of a sleeping car and looked up and down its length. Keineth, from her superior knowledge of sleeping cars, was pointing out to Peggy its arrangements. Both girls were dressed in new coats and hats and carried with them the bag Aunt Josephine had given Keineth and in which they had packed their nightgowns and toilet articles.
For they were starting for Washington!
Two days before Mr. Lee had come home and asked the children what would be the biggest surprise they could imagine! Of course they had guessed all sorts of things and he had teased them for quite a little while over it! Then, very quietly, he had said:
"Do you think you would like to make a little trip to Washington?"
Keineth had not been able to speak. Peggy, jumping from her chair, rushed at her father and threw both arms about his neck.
"All of us?" she cried between hugs.
"No, this time we'll leave mother home with Billy and Alice. Then the next time they'll go."
Peggy's eyes swept over Billy's and Alice's disappointed faces.
"Oh, I wish we could all go!"
"Mother'll make it up to them, my dear. I'll wager right now all sorts of nice plans are floating around in her head. Well, can you be ready?"
"Can we—!" they cried in chorus.
The hours then were full of excited preparations. The new clothes had to be purchased. "Keineth may be invited to meet the President," Mrs. Lee had laughingly explained, as she held two pretty hats, one in each hand, and considered them carefully.
"Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful!" Keineth whispered. She wanted to ask him so many questions about Daddy—she would tell him that she could keep a secret!
Billy gave them a thousand instructions. They must remember everything they saw to tell him! They must climb the big monument and walk up the Capitol steps and hear the echo in the rotunda of the Capitol Building. They must go to Camp Meyer and to Arlington and to Mount Vernon and be sure to see Washington's swords!
"And the White House china," Mrs. Lee added. "It must be as good as a lesson in history to look at that exhibit in the White House! They'd tell the tastes of the different ones who used them! I can picture pretty Dolly Madison ordering all new china because the pattern of the old did not please her!"
Billy broke in: "I'd want to go to the Treasury Building and see all the money and the watchmen that guard the building from little watch-houses! And the big machine where they destroy all the old money! Four men have keys and they go and unlock it and put the money in it and it gets ground and ground by sharp knives until it's just a pulp! And then they sell the pulp! I wish I had one of those keys!" Billy was very excited.
"And I want to see the Indian Exhibit at the National Museum," declared Peggy.
"You will, my dear, and a great many other things of interest." Little wonder that she could scarcely believe that she was Peggy Lee! As the train pulled away Keineth was very quiet. She was recalling how often her Daddy had told her of the interesting places in the National Capital and how often he had said, "Some day we'll go there together!" And now she was really going, but Daddy was far away.
"Well, aren't you children going to take off your things and stay awhile?" asked Mr. Lee, coming in from a smoke on the platform.
They laughed and began to lay aside their wraps. "I can't picture myself sleeping on that funny little shelf," Peggy declared. "What if I should roll out!"
There were a number of other people on the car. The children watched them closely and tried to do whatever they did. Peggy's eyes grew round with interest as she saw the porter deftly spread out mattresses and blankets and make cosy beds where nothing but seats had been. The girls insisted upon sharing the same berth and drew lots "for position," as Peggy put it. Keineth drew the place by the window and was soon cuddled there. And though they had declared that they were going to lie awake for a long time watching out of the window, their heads had scarcely touched the pillow when the motion of the train lulled them to sleep.
Then the night would have passed like any night at home, only that Peggy did fall out of bed!
She awakened suddenly to find herself in a heap in the aisle of the car with the brakeman, a swinging lantern in his hand, bending over her. "Well, bless my stars!" he was saying.
It took a moment or two for Peggy to realize where she was and what had happened! Then, torn between a desire to laugh at herself and to cry with chagrin, she clambered back into the berth and snuggled very close to Keineth.
It was too funny not to tell Keineth, who had wakened, but after she told her she made Keineth promise, crossing her heart over and over, that she would never, never, never tell Billy that Peggy had rolled out of bed!
"Where are we? It isn't a bit different from home," the girls cried as they stood the next morning with Mr. Lee viewing from the platform the country through which they were speeding.
"This is Maryland. In just half an hour we'll be in Washington. We'll wait and eat breakfast at the hotel there."
Mr. Lee was acting curiously excited and impatient. He looked at his watch several times. "On time," the girls heard him say once or twice—as if it made any difference. Before they were in the city he told them to put on their wraps.
"We'll be the first ones off," he said.
It was only a moment then before they had rolled into the station shed. They stepped from the train and walked a long way down between rows of cars. A great many people seemed hurrying in every direction. There was a dull roar echoing through the vaulted smoky space pierced by the loud voices of the trainmen giving their orders and the occasional clang of a bell. Then they passed through a little iron gate into the station. Keineth, clinging to Mr. Lee's arm, thought it quite the biggest place she had ever seen! Every step made an echo and though there were crowds of people there did not seem to be many because there was so much room! Mr. Lee gave some checks to a porter, then stood looking up and down the great space as though expecting to see someone. Peggy was just whispering something in Keineth's ear when Keineth gave a clear, joyous cry.
For there, stepping out from a little group, walking straight toward them, a smile on his tanned face, both arms extended as though they could not reach her quickly enough, was her dear, dear daddy!
Her own dear father!
Keineth had not realized until then how very dear he was to her! She clung to him as though she could not bear to ever lose her hold. A woman waiting in the station was watching the little scene, and turned away, wiping her eyes. And Keineth did not know whether she wanted to laugh or to cry!
So this was Mr. Lee's big surprise! He had known John Randolph was in Washington!
"This is Peggy," Keineth managed finally to say. At which John Randolph put his arm about Peggy and kissed her, too!
Mr. Lee said something about breakfast, and Keineth's father hurried them into a waiting taxicab. And as they drove away Keineth was so busy looking at her father's dear face that she did not notice the Capitol, its noble dome outlined against the blue morning sky. But Peggy gave an excited little shriek. "Oh—look—look!"
So, with her hand in her father's, Keineth saw Washington! He told the driver to go slowly while he pointed out to them the buildings they passed. The whole city lay bathed in sunshine that brought with it the balminess of real springtime for which they waited so long in the North. Robins were singing in the trees, so gladly that Keineth thought that even they must have guessed how happy she was!
Keineth and Peggy listened while John Randolph told Mr. Lee of his trip home across the ocean—how to escape the submarines of the Germans they had run cautiously, at half-speed, as in a fog, with look-outs posted all along the ship's decks and all lights out! Their voices were very serious as they talked and Keineth noticed for the first time that her father's face, under its tan, looked worn and tired, as though he had been working very hard.
But each time that his eyes came back to her face they lighted with a smile.
"I can hardly believe that this is my little girl," he said to Mr. Lee. "Her stay with you has done wonders for her!" And what he said was very true, for the year had changed Keineth from the shy-eyed, delicate child he had left to a happy, round-cheeked, strong-limbed girl. The pretty simple dress she wore had the becoming touch of color that Tante used to think unsuitable, and her fair hair, drawn loosely back from her forehead and fastened with a barrette, hung in heavy waves over her shoulders.
At the hotel after breakfast Keineth's father opened his trunk and took from it a box of gifts he had collected from every country he had visited. A carved box from Japan, a gay Chinese robe from Pekin, dolls of all sorts, brass plates from Egypt, embroidered scarfs from Constantinople, coral from Italy and other treasures over which Keineth and Peggy went into ecstasies of delight!
"For us?" she cried to her father.
He smiled—her "us" meant to him that Keineth had found at last the true joy of friends.
"Divide them as you wish, my dear," he answered. Thereupon the two girls sat down, cross-legged upon the floor and commenced assorting the gifts into little piles—for "Aunt Nellie," for "Barbara," the Japanese dolls for Alice, and, of course, the carved dagger from Petrograd, for Billy! "Oh, were ever girls as happy as we are?" Peggy cried.
Later Mr. Lee broke in upon this pleasant occupation. "If we are here to see Washington we'd better start out! Keineth—after luncheon your father wants to take you for a little walk—Peggy and I will go to the National Museum."
So it was that Keineth, trim in her new hat and coat, found herself early in the afternoon walking slowly down the "Avenue of the Presidents," holding her father's hand. They said little, each felt too happy to talk much, time enough for the stories later.
Suddenly through the trees of Lafayette Park, all a-quiver with their new spring leaves, Keineth glimpsed the stately lines of the White House.
She stopped short. "Daddy, is that where the President lives?"
Mr. Randolph smiled. "Yes, my dear! And we are going there now to call—at his request!"
So Keineth was really going to see Mr. President!
She felt very excited as she walked past the policeman guarding the gates and up the winding avenue leading to the great columns before the door. Through the branches of the trees the sun was shining slant-wise against the square-paned windows, making tiny sparks of fire. Another policeman at the door halted them. Keineth thought it too bad that the President of the United States should have to be guarded in this manner—for who could want to harm him? Then they were ushered into the entrance hall, where a servant took the card Mr. Randolph offered.
For Keineth the simple stateliness of the place had an atmosphere of romance. Staring curiously about her she went slowly through the spacious corridors to an oval-shaped room whose walls and windows were hung in heavy blue silk. The sunlight streamed through the windows across the highly polished floor and glinted through the crystals of the great chandelier hanging from the ceiling. From between the heavy blue curtains Keineth caught a glimpse of the green lawn outside, sloping down to the stretches of the Park—all adot with dandelions.
Her father pointed out to her the gold clock on the mantel and told her that it had been presented by Napoleon the First to General Lafayette and by him in turn to Washington. Then as they turned to examine the bronze vases standing on either side of the clock a quiet voice startled them.
"And so this is the little soldier girl!"
And there across the room, one hand extended, stood the President of the United States!
Keineth tried to say something, but found that her tongue would not move. But President Wilson, not noticing her embarrassment, was shaking her hand and talking as though they were old friends.
"Of course—after our letters—an introduction is unnecessary! I am delighted, however, to meet in person John Randolph's daughter."
He turned then from Keineth to her father and Keineth felt a glow of pride in the tone of intimacy with which the President greeted her father.
After they had exchanged a few words he took her hand and drew her towards a divan.
"Let us sit down here and have a little talk. I wonder if you know, my dear girl, what a wonderful man your father is."
Keineth smiled at this! President Wilson, patting her hand upon his knee, went on:
"His work for us is not done, either! And I am going to ask you to help me, Miss Keineth. I want him in my official family—I need his judgment and advice—need it badly! If he tries to refuse me then you must make him do what I want him to do! Wouldn't you like to live in Washington?"
"Oh—yes!" cried Keineth, then she stopped short. "But—it wouldn't have to be a secret, would it?"
The President broke into a hearty laugh. "No, indeed, my dear!" Then, more seriously, "You were very brave to help us guard so carefully his journeying. It was necessary that it should be kept a secret because in every land where he went there were bitter enemies to the work he was trying to do—enemies who, if they had had one word of the mission upon which he was going about, would have done everything within their power to defeat its purpose, even to taking his life without one moment's hesitation! Keineth, this is a funny world. It is made up of big nations and small nations and they struggle against one another like so many bad, heedless boys fighting in an alley."
"I know!" cried Keineth, bright-eyed. "When they ought to be living like nice families in a quiet street, each one keeping its own yard clean from rubbish and the doorsteps washed." She used her father's words with careful precision.
President Wilson turned to John Randolph. "The child has described it, exactly! What an ideal! Do you think we'll ever reach it?" Then, to Keineth, "And that is the mission that took your father abroad—to lay before the peoples of those other lands this plan of democracy; to show them the picture of how we all—as nations—might live as you have described it, like thrifty families on a clean-kept street, some in finer houses than others, perhaps, but each one with its door-step clean and its corners well cleared out. Well—well, in your lifetime you may come to it, child. And when you do—remember that the way was opened by the message your father carried!"
They talked a little longer of things Keineth could not understand, though she listened with rapt attention while her father spoke of the Emperor of Japan and the Czar of Russia as though they were just ordinary men!
President Wilson walked with them to the door; he shook hands and begged them to come again! "I should like some day to show you around Washington myself, Miss Keineth," he said, patting her shoulder. Then as they walked out toward the street gates Keineth turned back and saw him watching from the open door. She waved her hand impulsively and he lifted his in a farewell salute.
Keineth drew in a very deep breath: as Peggy would say, "Who could believe that she was little Keineth Randolph?"
THE CASTLE OF DREAMS
When her father suggested that they let the sightseeing wait and take a walk, Keineth was delighted. She wanted more than anything else right then to talk and talk and talk to her daddy! There was so much to tell him!
"We'll have plenty of time to see all the interesting things," Mr. Randolph said. "We'll stay here a week or two longer." "Peggy, too?" asked Keineth.
"Peggy, too, of course!"
"Oh, what fun!" cried Keineth, squeezing her father's hand with both of hers. She fairly danced along by his side, so that he had to walk very fast to keep up with her light feet 'Way across the Park through the trees they could see the waters of the Potomac gleaming blue, and beyond the hills of Arlington. Two weeks—her eyes shone—two weeks with Daddy and Peggy!
"You know, Daddy, that Peggy is my very best friend!" Keineth said very solemnly. She commenced to tell him of Overlook and the happy summer days—of Stella, whom she had seen several times during the winter and had learned to love—of Grandma Sparks and her quaint old home—of Mr. Cadowitz and the hours in his queer studio—of the Jenkins cousins and the little Penny girls. He listened with a smile, perhaps not always able to follow her excited chatter, but certain from it that Keineth had found what he had hoped she would find when he had sent her to the Lees.
Then Keineth thought of a confession she must make.
"Is it dreadful, Daddy, but I have forgotten to be lonesome for Tante? I am ashamed because I do not think of her oftener. Where do you suppose she is?"
"I saw her, my dear! Think what a coincidence it was! When I was in Paris one of the secretaries from the American Embassy took me around to visit the soup kitchens they have opened up there to feed the needy children of the soldiers at the front. At the very first one we went into, a woman in charge came up to greet us—and it was good Madame Henri! I might have known she'd be doing something like that! She knew me, of course—the tears ran down her cheeks as she clasped my hand. She couldn't say a word at first. She herself took us through the place and as it was at noontime, we stayed to see her hungry family. It was a sight I'll never forget—women, shivering in ragged clothing, with babes in their arms and gaunt, unhappy faces and eyes that looked at you as if they were eternally asking something and afraid to ask! Most of them had some scrap of dingy crepe somewhere about them—had lost their men at the battle-front! And little children gulping down the hot soup as though they were starved! Tante said it was the only meal most of them had during the day. After her work was over she and I went into a little room to talk. I knew she wanted to ask me about you—'her baby,' she called you. When I told her you were well and happy she broke down and sobbed 'thank God!'
"She told me that her mother was dead and that her brother's wife and her little family were on a farm in northern France. When they did not need her longer she had gone to Paris to help.
"'Give her my love,' she said to me—I knew she meant you. 'Keep her safe! It is my one comfort in these terrible days that she is not suffering! I love America—but I can never go back—my work is here!' I knew then that until the end Madame Henri would stick to her post and help wherever she could do the most good. She is a noble woman!"
Keineth sighed. "It doesn't seem right to be so happy when others are not," she said, troubled.
"But remember what she said—because you are happy is the one bright spot in Madame Henri's life! So it may be with others; you can always help someone."
"You couldn't do anything else at the Lees'," broke in Keineth, "because Aunt Nellie is so kind and unselfish that we children are terribly ashamed to be anything else! Daddy—" Keineth stopped short; for the first time it crossed her mind that now that her daddy had come back her visit at the Lees' would end. "Where will we live now, Daddy?"
He waited a moment before he answered.
"I am going to ask you to decide that for yourself, Keineth." Keineth remembered then the night her father had made her decide between Aunt Josephine and the Lees! How hard it had been!
John Randolph led her to a bench. "Let's sit down here and talk. I'll show you two pictures, Keineth, and you shall choose. You heard what the President said; he has asked me to be in his Cabinet! That is a great honor—perhaps the highest honor that may ever come to me!"
"You'll be more than a soldier that doesn't wear a uniform?"
Her father smiled at her quaint phrasing. "Yes, much more! But, besides the honor and the work of the position it will mean this to us—we will have to take a house here in Washington and live in such a way that we can entertain many, many guests. My time will never be my own, for there will be countless social demands besides the duties of the office—I will be able to spend very little time with my little girl! But she will not mind that because she will have ever so many new friends and new things to do, too. And we're too simple to know how to live such a life, so there's only one thing that'd happen—" Keineth was making tiny circles in the soft grass with the toe of her shoe. She had listened intently, now she interrupted quickly: "Aunt Josephine!"
"Yes—Aunt Josephine would have to come down to show us how!"
For some reason Keineth did not like the picture—and yet Daddy had said it was a great honor! But Aunt Josephine—
Near the Monument the Marine Band had begun its program for the first afternoon concert of the season. A great many people had begun to gather in groups on the green. The music had seemed to reach Keineth and her father as though it was all a part of the soft spring air and beauty around them—they had scarcely heeded it as they talked! But suddenly a familiar note struck Keineth's ear. She lifted her head quickly.
"Oh, listen!" she cried, clutching his arm. "Listen!"
"What is it, child?" He was startled by the look on her face. She had sprung to her feet.
"That—that—" she whispered as though her voice might drown out the soft strains of the music, "that is my Castle of Dreams!" She lifted her hand to beg him not to speak until it had ended. They listened together until the last note died away.
"Beautiful, my dear, but—"
She turned shining eyes toward him. "I wrote it," she added simply.
"You—you—" He stared at her in such a funny way that Keineth burst out laughing. "Why, my dear—"
"Aunt Nellie taught me to write music! And I sold this! I didn't want to tell you until I had a chance to play it for you."
"You—wrote—that?" He seemed not able to really believe. "My little girl?" A world of pride warmed the tone of his voice.
"Yes, and it's such fun putting down what comes to my fingers! Only Mr. Cadowitz says that I must learn a great deal more and practice what the masters can teach me. And Aunt Nellie says, too, that I ought to wait until I have finished school."
"Yes, they are right," Mr. Lee put in. Then he caressed the small fingers that lay in his clasp. "But, my dear little girl, what a joy for you some day! It is a wonderful gift to tell your thoughts in music! When you have built up a strong body and a good mind you can work with all your heart and soul!"
Keineth told him then the story of Pilot and Mr. Grandison. Her father was deeply interested. He recalled that he had heard his father speak of him once or twice. "He must have had a very lonely life," he added." We must see something of him now and then, my dear!"
"Oh, he will be glad!" Keineth described the big house on the outskirts of the city where she had gone with her check; its lonely rooms that all his money could not make cheerful. That led her to tell of the beautiful books and how Mr. Grandison had one day taken her and Peggy to see "Pollyanna"; of riding there in the big limousine and wearing the precious pink dresses!
The afternoon sun was dropping. The concert had ended and the crowds were slowly moving away. John Randolph's face wore its far-away look as though he was dreaming things. His eyes, as he turned them upon Keineth, were very serious.
"You know—child, we're given things in this world—good health and fortune and gifts like your music—and my writing—but I don't believe we're given them just to enjoy them ourselves! We're meant to share them! I haven't told you the other picture, my dear!"
"Oh, no!" cried Keineth. How could she have forgotten Aunt Josephine!
"I've had a dream, Keineth, these months that I've been gone! It's been a dream of the little home we'd make in some quiet corner where I could write and you could grow and play. It'd be a simple home, but we'd have a great many friends around us. There's a lot in my head I want to write, too—I long for time to do it! I couldn't help but think as I travelled over almost all the lands of the globe that people are alike after all—only some of us have learned things faster than others and some have a lot to learn. If those who see the vision could teach the others—well, to live, as we said, like respectable, happy families in a peaceful street—then this world would know a brotherhood we haven't got now. It could come after this war—we could all be comrades, always going forward shoulder to shoulder! I feel as if I want to write and write and write about it until that picture goes all over the world! Couldn't I do more for all my fellowmen that way than giving up my time to the immense duties of a Cabinet official?" He turned a frowning face toward Keineth, as though from this twelve-year-old girl he expected help in his perplexity.
Keineth's face was aglow.
"Could the little home be near Peggy?"
Her father nodded. "For a while, anyway."
"And could I go to school with Peggy?"
"Yes, I want you with your friends."
"And you'd have time to play with me?"
"Lots of time—I'd take it! That was part of my dream."
"Oh, Daddy, I like that picture lots best! Only—" She suddenly recalled what her father had said. "It would be such a great honor for you to be in the President's Cabinet! And he told me I must make you!"
"Keineth, dear, that honor would not mean half as much to me as the joy of serving my fellowmen through my writing! We'll show the President the two pictures—I know he will understand!"
Still Keineth hesitated. "Would we—would we have to have Aunt Josephine?" Then she added, as though a little ashamed, "but Aunt Josephine can be awfully jolly when—she forgets."
"Forgets what, child?"
"Oh, that—that she's so—so rich!" Keineth stammered.
John Randolph laughed. "We'll have her part of the time and maybe we can make her—forget."
"You have decided, you are very sure?" he asked after a moment, and he swept his hand toward the nearby buildings of the city as though to remind her of the interesting life that might lie there.
But Keineth's shining eyes saw a vision beyond them—long, happy days with Daddy and Peggy and the others; a home, too; real school days, such as she had never known in her life—perhaps another summer at Fairview.
"I'd love Washington, but—I like your dream best, Daddy!" she answered.
"I knew you would! And now, kitten, what do you say to finding Peggy and her father and going somewhere to have some cakes and hot chocolate?"
Through the soft April sunlight they went towards the White House and the thronging streets. Keineth walked quickly, eager to find Peggy and tell her everything! How glad Peg would be!
She hummed a few notes without realizing that it was a strain from her own music! She stopped suddenly and lifted laughing eyes to her father's face.
"Isn't it funny, Daddy? I called my music 'The Castle of Dreams'! We were both dreaming the same dream!"
"And we're going to have our Castle, Keineth!"