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ISS HETTY cleared the kitshen of the last traces of her early tea, brushed up the hearth and drew her chair into the circle of lamplight. ïhis had beea her eveniDg's programnie wich scarcely a variation for. the last ten years. She kuew the exact number of dextrous. flips from the turkey's wing necessary to reduce the hearth to speckless order and could calcúlate almost the number of ■teps she must take between the sinkand' kitchen pantry. To-night she glaneed at the clock as she seated herself in the waiting chair and noticed that she had been five minutes longer than usual. "I'mgetting old," she thought, grimly. "Well, whyshouldn't I be gettingold'f It's ten years since- " At this moment there was a long-drawn howl from the woodshed. " Drat the dog !" she exclaimed. "He's a pesky nuisance. Protection indeed. I'll send him away to-morrow." A more prolonged howl brought Miss Hetty to her feet. She seized the broom and opened the yrood-sbed door. There were several sounding thumps, a yelp or two, and then Miss Hetty, flushed with vietory, replaced the broom aud took up her vvork. "Yes, Fin getting old," taking up her thought with her knitting vvhere she had leit ofE. "Ten years more, and in spite of my money, who'll there be to take care of ine when I'm sick or- " There was a rap at the door. It was such a wee, timid iittls rap that it is a wonder Miss Hetty heard it at all. Five minutes before she could not. She got up and opened the door with a jerk. "Land' sake, child; what ever are you doing there! And no stockings, as I live!" The little lip quivered, and the choked voice sobbed : " You's my Aunt 'Etty. Papa said so." Miss Hetty drew her into the room and shut the door with a shiver. " What's your name!" she asked the trembling little figure before her. "It's Midget." " What's your papa's name '" "I- Idon't know." Miss Hetty was in despair. "What is your mother's name, child?" she asked at last. Midget brigbtened. ''Papa oalled her 'Clara,'" she said. There could be no doubt about it, then. Miss Hetty sat down in her chair, suoh a fierce conflict of emotions raging within her that she could not speak - coald scarcely think. What was to be done with her! "Does you love mypapa!" Midget had drawn near and now laid a little hand ïmpulsively od Miss Hetty's knce. She struck it off with a sharp breath that was almost a cry. The child's lip trembled, but the tears tbat filled eyes dia not fall. She drevv back a step and folded her hands iu a patiënt, unchildlike way that told of ageing sorrovv9 borne even by her youngshoulders. It was late that night when Miss Hetty, laid her weary head on her pillow. The lit-i tle one murinured in her sleep and crepb into Miss Hetty's arms, but she laid her sternly back and tossed and turned until daylight. Then she feil into a deep sleep, irora which she was awakened by a little, cooing laugh frorn the kitcnen, i:coinpanied by various snortiugs that emled in a big sneeze. She crept to the dooi-. Midget had dressed herself, and, heaiiuR Rollo' scrstch at the door, had opened it softly, and, to her delight, let in a big, black Newiouudland dog, who rubbed his cold nosa against her chubby hand and capered clumsily around her with joy, though as süentlyasif he understood the warniug finger held up to him. Now he lay in the middle of the floor while she 8at beside him, warming one little cold hand in bis shaggy hair and tickling his nose with a wisp of the broom held in the other. They had both forgottcn Mis Hetty. Midget saw her first. ' Oh, auntie! she cried. "Seel I iound him - my doggie!" Miss Hetty stepped to the corner am took the broora. KoÜo crouclied ior th blow he knew would come. But Midge threw her arras around his ueck aud turnei her blazing eyes upon Miss Htty. "Yousha'n't! Yousha'n't!" she crieö " Bad, bad auntie !" Her yellow eurls were tumbled about her head, her cheeks were flushed and her blue eyes were black with excitement. She was a very Medea in her anger, and truly Misa Hetty seemed turned to stone. How many time had James looked like that when she had laughed at his childish anger; how well she remembered the last time she ha seen that look on his face, when she ha bade him, her only brother, leave her pres ence forcver, since he could love a nameless shop-girl better than his sister, who couh boast of blood descended from the veins o some of England's héroes. She dropped the broom as suddenly as she had raised it. "Very well," she said ; "you may keep the dog." Midget burst into tear3 and caught Miss. Hetty's hand. "Oh, auntie!" she sobbed, "Midget ba girl- Midget promised papa to be good t" "I am uot angry, child. Go and play with. the dog," Miss Hetty said, quietly. The snow lay thick on the ground anc the air was still heavy with it as she looked out of the window after breakfast. Sha could not hunt up the child's parents to-day she thought, but to-morrovv she would sure lygo. "Where do your papa and mamma live?' she asked, suddenly. "I don't know," Midget replied. "Mamma don't live anywhere. Som", men came anc took her away a long time ago. Papa cried. I didn't," she added, with dignity, that showed painfully how little she realized her loss. "Papa don't live anywhere either, now. He brought me here an' he said ïf Midget was a good girl you would give her some Kissmus, cause he couldn't - he was going to find mamma. Will you!" A sharp pain tore at Miss Hetty's heart. "Going to flnd mamma!" What did that mean! TVith a start sho remembered that to-morrow was Christmas Day : the thought brought so many memories in its train ! "Will you?" "Will I what?" She had forgotten all about the child and her question. "Dive me my Kissmus." "No, no, child. Don't bother!' she said, impatiently. What was Christmas to hei-' if James had indeed "gone to mamma;" jfl because of her stubborn pride and wicked' anger she could never agaiu sec hi yellow curls and blue eyes that mocked her in the' baby at her knee I Midget turned silently away. This last blow was too great ior her to bcar. She crept into the bed-room, and throwing herself on the floor, wept as though her hearü were broken. "Come here, child I" suddenly called Miss Hetty. Noanswer. She rose sharply and? went into the other room. A rough shake brought the little fipire to her feet. "Whafc is the matter?" "Papa, papa!" she sobbed. "I- want- to -go- home!" The harp iron in Miss Hetty's soul madeher cruel. She raised her hand and let it iall upon the little tear-stained cheek. "Will you be quiet?" she asked. "You shall stay in this room now till I come back." She went out, shutting the door af ter her.. She must do her marketing, and the child1 would be pumshed enough by the time she returned. The stores were full of toys and Christmas goods. Miss Hetty could not keep the thought from her mind, "How Midget would like this- or that!" Fiually she stopped beforo a toy-laden window. "I will go in," she said, at last. Hidget could not know what a victory she had caiiiod An bour later Miss Hetty entered the house, and after disposing of the bundies with which her arma were laden, stepped to the closed door and opened it. A smile was on her face that had not known a smile for years, and her awakened heart sent the blood pulsing to the ends of her fingers. " I am glad I dkl not disappoint her," she thought, Midget lay on the floor, one little hand ander her oheek, the lips open, breathing1 heavily. "Midget!" The child did not wake or move. Miss Hetty lifted her and sho moaned and muttered hoarsely. She sauk for a moment, pale and trembling, on a chaii-, It was too evident what was ,he matter, and the doctor who carne a little. ater only confirmed her fears. "She may Uve Uil morning," was all he said. Oh, the struggle of that long, long night! ïvery minute was an hour. At last Miss ïetty crept into the deserted kitchen and crouehcd over the dying embcrs of the fire. All her pride was gone; nothing but love and a great longing for forgiveness remained. " James ! James ! " she cried, " what shallltellhim!" 8he had not heard the door open until an icy wind blew across her cheek, and a toarse voice ericl: "Hetty, where is my child- my baby !" With a ery she was in lus arms, and there the whole miserable story was sobbed out to loving ears, and torgriveness asked and received by both. " Midget, darling, it's papa 1 " ; "If she knows you we can save her," the doctor had said. Amidsta bre .thless silence she opened her eyes at the sound of the loved voice, and murmuring "Papa!" she feil smilingly asleep with his hand f ast clasped in herj. And so after all it was to Miss Hettv i elad and thankful Christmas.


Old News
Ann Arbor Register