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soft cuffs-about in her hands, in a businesslike way. A breath of some kind of scented wood struck, in a little gust, against Deb's face. She wondered how people could weave sweet smells into a piece of lace, and if the young lady knew; or if she knew how much pleasanter it was than the onions that Mrs. McMahoney cooked for dinner, every day in the week but Sunday, upon the first floor. But it gave her quite enough to do to wonder, without speaking. "Fifteen!" repeated the young lady, standing up very straight, and looking very sorry. "How long
has she been like that?"
"Born so," said Deb's mother.
"But you never told me you had a crippled child!" The young lady said this quickly. "You have washed for me three years, and never told me that you had crippled child!"
"You never asked me, miss," said Deb's mother.
The young lady made no reply. She came and sat down on the edge of Deb's bed, close beside Deb's chair. She seemed to have forgotten all about her Cluny lace. She took Deb's hand between her two soft brown gloves, and her long brown feathers drooped and touched Deb's cheek. Deb hardly breathed. The feathers and the gloves, and the sweet smells of scented woods, and the young lady's sorry, yes-such very sorry eyes! were close to the high-chair.
"Fifteen years!" repeated the young lady, very low. "In that chair- and nobody ever-poor little girl, poor little girl!"
What was the matter with the straight, young lady? All at once her bright brown feathers and her soft brown gloves grew damp in little spots. Deb wondered very much over the damp little spots. "But you could ride!" said the young lady, suddenly.
"I don't know, ma'am," said Deb. "I never saw anybody ride but the grocer and the baker." "You could be lifted, I mean," said the young lady, eagerly. "There is some one who lifts you?"
"Mother sets me generally," said Deb. "Once when she was very bad with a lame ankle, Jim McMahoney set me. He's first floor - Jim McMahoney."
"I shall be back here," said the young lady, still speaking very quickly, but speaking to Deb's mother now, "in just an hour. I shall come with an easy sleigh with warm robes. If you will have your daughter ready to ride with me, I shall be very much obliged to you."
If all the blue of summer skies and the gold of summer sunlight and the shine of summer stars fell
down into your hands all at once, for you to paint scrap-books with, should you know what to say?
Into the poor little scrap-book of Deb's life the colors of heaven dropped and blinded her, on that bewildering, beautiful, blessed ride.
In just one hour the sleigh was there, with the easiest cushions, and the warmest robes, and bells, -the merriest bells! and the straight young lady. And Jim McMahoney was there, and he carried Deb downstairs to "set" her. And her mother was there, and wrapped her all about in an old red shawl, for Deb had no 66 things" like other little girls. The young lady had remembered that, and had brought the prettiest little white hood that Deb ever saw, and Deb's face looked like a bruised day-lily bud between the shining wool; but Deb could not see that.
The white horse pawed the snow and held up his head-Deb had never seen such a horse and the young lady gathered the reins into her brown gloves, and the sleigh-bells cried for joy-how they cried! and away they went, and Deb was out of the alley in a minute, and the people of the alley hurrahed and hurrahed and hurrahed to see her go.
That bewildering, beautiful, blessed ride! How warm the little white hood was! how the cushions sank beneath her, and the fur robes opened like feathers to the touch of her poor, thin hands! How
the bells sang to her, and the snowdrifts blinked at her, and the icicles and the slated roofs, and sky, and people's faces smiled at her!
"What is the matter?" asked the young lady; for Deb drew the great gray wolf's-robe over her face and head; and sat so, for a minute, still and hidden. The young lady thought she was frightened.
"But I only want to cry a little!" said Deb's little, smothered voice. "I must cry a little first!"
When she had cried a little, she held up her head, and the shine of her pretty white hood grew faint beside the shine of her eyes and cheeks. That bewildering, beautiful, blessed ride!
Streets and a crowd and church spires were in it,yes, and a wedding and a funeral, too; all that Deb had seen in her high-chair in the daytime, with her eyes shut, she saw in the sleigh on that ride, with her happy eyes wide open.
She sat very still. The young lady did not talk to her, and she did not talk to the young lady. They rode and they rode. The horse held up his head. It seemed to Deb that he was flying. She thought he must be like that awful, beautiful white horse in Revelation. She felt as if he could take her to Heaven just as well as not, if the young lady's brown gloves should only pull that way.
They rode and they rode. In and out of the
merry streets, through and through the singing bells, about and about the great church-spires, all over and over the laughing town. They rode to the river, and the young lady stopped the white horse, so that Deb could look across, and up and down, at the shining stream and the shining bank.
"There's so much of it!" said Deb, softly, thinking of the crack of it that she had seen between two houses for fifteen years. For the crack seemed to her very much like fifteen years in a high-chair; and the long, broad-shouldered, silvered river seemed to her very much like this world about which she had wondered.
They rode to the mills, and Deb trembled to look up at their frowning walls, and to meet their hundred eyes, for the windows stared like eyes; but some of the girls who wore the little pink bows, and who knew her, came nodding to look down out of them, and she left off trembling to laugh; then in a minute she trembled again, for all at once, without any warning, the great Androscoggin pealed the time just over her head, and swallowed her up in sound. She turned pale with delighted terror, and then she flushed with terrified delight.
Did it pray? or cry? or laugh? Deb did not know. It seemed to her that if the white horse would carry her into the sound of that bell, she need never sit in a high-chair at a window again, but ride