Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > Sue, A Little Heroine > CHAPTER XI. A NEW DEPARTURE.
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 With Monday morning, however, all things seemed to have altered. Mrs. Warren was up spry and early. She called Connie to come and help her, but she desired Ronald to lie in bed.  
"It's a nasty day," she said; "there's sleet falling. We'll go out, of course, for fresh air is good for children, but we must none of us wear our best clothes."
"What do yer mean by that?" said Connie.
"Don't you go and ax me wot I mean; just do wot I tells yer. No dark-blue dress for yer to-day, missy. I ha' got a old gownd as 'ull fit yer fine."
Poor Connie trembled. Mrs. Warren went into her bedroom.
"'Ere, now," she said, "you put it on."
The old gown was certainly not at all nice. Its color was quite indescribable. It was very ragged and torn, too, round the bottom of the skirt. It dragged down in front so as almost to trip poor Connie when she tried to walk, and was several inches too short in the back.
Mrs. Warren desired Connie to take off her dainty shoes and stockings, and gave her some stockings with holes in them, and some very disreputable shoes down at the heel. She made her pin across her chest a little old shawl of an ugly pale pattern, and instead of allowing her to wear her hair in a golden fleece down her back, she plaited it, and tied it into a little bunch at the back of her head. She then put an old bonnet on the child's head—a bonnet which must have once belonged to quite an elderly woman—and tied it with strings in front. Connie felt terribly ashamed of herself.
"I'm all in rags," she said, "jest as though I wor a beggar maid."
"I've a fancy that yer shall wear these 'ere clothes to-day," said Mrs. Warren. "Yer've been a fine lydy too long; yer'll be a beggar maid to-day. W'en I tell yer wot to do in the street, yer'll do it. You can sing, I take it. Now then, you learn the words."45
Mrs. Warren planted down before Connie the well-known words of "Home, Sweet Home."
"I know this without learning it," said the girl.
"An' you 'as a good woice, I take it."
"Middlin'," replied Connie.
"Wull, sing it for me now."
Connie struck up the familiar words, and so frightened was she that in real desperation she acquitted herself fairly well.
"You'll take a treble, an' the little boy 'ull do likewise, and I'll take a fine, deep second. Ah! I know 'ow to sing," said Mrs. Warren.
"You won't take little Ronald out on a dreadful sort o' day like this," said Connie.
"Wen I want yer adwice I'll ax fur it," said Mrs. Warren, with most withering sarcasm.
Poor Connie felt her heart suddenly fit to burst. What new and dreadful departure was this? Mrs. Warren now brought Ronald into the front room, and there she arrayed him in garments of the poorest type, allowing his little thin legs to be quite bare, and his very thin arms to show through his ragged jacket. She posed, however, a little red cap on the midst of his curly dark hair; and this cap most wonderfully became the child, so that few people could pass him in the street without noticing the sweetness of his angelic face. Then Mrs. Warren prepared herself for the part she was to take. She went into her bedroom for the purpose, and returned looking so exactly like a stout old beggar woman that the children would scarcely have known her. She had covered her left eye with a patch, and now only looked out on the world with her right one. Her hair was knotted untidily under a frowsy old bonnet, and a very thin shawl was bound across her ample breast.
"We'll do fine, I take it," she said to the children. "I am your mother, my dears; you'll both 'old me by the 'and. Purtier little lambs couldn't be seen than the two of yez. And ef poor, ugly Mammy Warren 'ave made herself still uglier for yer sweet sakes, 'oo can but love 'er for the ennoblin' deed? Wull, come along now, children; but first I'll build up the fire, for we'll be 'ungry arter this 'ere job."
The fire was built up to Mrs. Warren's satisfaction, and the three went downstairs. Ronald was quite speechless with shame—to go out like this, to disgrace his brave father and his darling mother in this sort of fashion, was pure torture to the boy; but Connie, in the thought of him and the fear that he would take cold, almost forgot her own misery.
The three did not go anywhere by 'bus that day, but hurried down side alleys and back streets until they got into the region of Piccadilly. The children had not the least idea where they were. Suddenly, however, they came to a pause outside a large hotel, and there Mrs. Warren struck up the first note of "Home, Sweet Home."46
She had timed everything well. The policeman was at the other end of his beat, and she would not be molested for quite ten minutes. The quavering, ugly notes of the old woman were well subdued, and Connie had a really fine voice, and it rose high on the bitter air in sweet, childish appeal and confidence. Ronald, too, was struck with a sudden thought. That hotel was a sort of place where father used to live when he was alive. Who could tell if his father himself might not have returned, and might not be there, and might not hear him if he sang loud enough and sweet enough?
The voice of the boy and the voice of the girl blended together, and Mrs. Warren skilfully dropped hers so as not to spoil the harmony. The people in the hotel were attracted by the sweet notes, and crowded to the windows. Then Connie's face of purest beauty—Connie's face rendered all the more pathetic by the old bonnet and the dreadful, tattered dress—and Ronald with his head thrown back, his red cap held in his hand, the white snow falling in flakes on his rich dark hair, made between them a picture which would melt the hardest heart. Sixpences and even shillings were showered from the windows, and as the last note of "Home, Sweet Home" died away Mrs............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved