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“Another thug to their rescue, maybe!” thought the sergeant and the idea pulled him together with a jerk.
As the footsteps rang close, he held himself braced for an onset. They neared the corner ahead, - his Colt waited ready, — but the flying figure, rounding under the street lamp, showed, heaven be praised! the uniform of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Trooper Lithgow, returning to the sub-station from detached duty, and passing through the town of Republic, had learned from the waiting trolley men of his sergeant's presence, with some hint of the errand which had brought him there. Thinking that help might not be amiss, he had started out to join his officer, and was hastening along the way, when the sound of the two shots, distinct on the midnight silence, had turned his stride to a run.
Together they walked to the trolley, herding the prisoners before them. Together they rode to Unionville, with the prisoners between them. From time to time the two trolley men looked at Sergeant Stout, with the bleeding hole between his eyes, then looked at each other, and said nothing. Very rarely Trooper Lithgow looked at Sergeant Stout, then at the trolley men, but said nothing. A proud man he was that night. But he did not want those trolley men to know it. He wanted them to see and to understand for all time that this thing was a matter of course — that you could n't down an officer of the Pennsylvania State Police on duty.
They got their two prisoners jailed. Then they walked over to the hospital (the last lift of the way up the hospital hill, Lithgow lent a steadying arm) and there, in the doctor's presence, Sergeant Stout gently collapsed.
“I'm glad you came, Lithgow. But you see I could have fetched it!” he said, with the makings of a grin, just before he went over.
There were four days when he might have died. Then his own nature laid hold on him and lifted him back again into the world of sunshine. “It's one of those super-cures effected by pure optimism. The man expected to get well,” the surgeon said.
But they dared not cut for the bullet: it lay too close to the spinal cord. And so First Sergeant Stout, when his head gets stuck fast, has yet to take it in his two hands and shift it free again. Still, with a head as steady as that, what does it matter?
A LITTLE MOTHER
BY FLORENCE GILMORE
I had been on the train for hours and was very tired. All morning I had seen only a level, thinly wooded country, never beautiful or picturesque. The magazine with which I had armed myself, fondly imagining that it would be a protection against the tedium of a six-hour trip, had proved dull to a degree that defies expression. There was no one to talk to, for the only other passengers were a fat woman who slept most of the time and, when she was awake, read a novel and languidly munched peanuts, and four traveling salesmen who harped on boots and shoes and notions until I became so weary listening to them that I firmly resolved that, come what might, I would never again use any of the things they sold.
At one o'clock, having finished my luncheon, I sank back in my seat and looked out of the window, thinking irritably how I must be bored for another hour. The train was then standing at a country station exactly like thirty or forty others we had passed during the morning. What looked to be the same stiff-legged station-master was hurrying back and forth; the same shabbily dressed men loafed about; the same small boys ran hither and thither in everyone's way; the sameyoung girls giggled, and nudged one another, and giggled again.
Turning from my window with a long-drawn sigh, I
saw that a little girl had got on the train and was taking the seat across the aisle from mine. What impressed me most in that first glance was her quaint primness. Her hair hung down her back in the neatest of long braids, and was fastened with the neatest of small black bows. Her stiffly starched gingham dress was spotless and her gloves looked like new. She had a sweet, round, rosy little face, but it was graver than any other child's I have ever seen. Watching her, I wondered if she ever played, or broke her toys and tore her clothes and forgot to do the things she had been told but a moment before, like many dear naughty little girls I know.
Interested by the quaintness of the child, I reopened my magazine and watched her from behind it. As soon as she was seated she carefully arranged her belongings on the seat facing her -- a satchel, a box, and a large apple. She took off her hat, and spying a newspaper which I had thrown aside, asked me for it. “Perhaps the dust would spoil the flowers,” she said. “I don't like to run the risk.”
I asked her a few questions then. She was not shy, and was evidently inclined to be friendly, for as soon as she had disposed her belongings to her satisfaction, she crossed the aisle and sat beside me.
“I want to keep my hat as nice as new, because mamma trimmed it herself. Papa and I think it is the beautifulest hat we have ever seen. We are very proud of it. You see, mamma is sick all the time. She can't even sew except once in a great while. She has awful pains, and she is weak, and can hardly ever get out of bed, so papa and I are very good to her and take care of her all we can. She says we spoil her, but she's only
joking, don't you think so? It's only children that get spoiled, is n't it?”
I said that I believed so; and after a moment, to break the silence that followed, I asked her if she had any brothers and sisters. I felt certain that she had not. She would have been less staid had she been accustomed to the companionship of other children.
“I had three brothers,” she answered, “but they all died before I was born, and two little sisters — twins; and they died when they were just one hour old.” She looked puzzled after she had said this and an instant later she corrected herself: "The twins really were n't old at all; they were just — just one hour young.” And having settled this point to her satisfaction, she looked into
my face and added seriously, “I have often thought about it. I believe that when my brothers and sisters came they did not like it here, so God did n't make them stay, but took them straight to heaven.” “And
liked it, and did stay,” I said, drawing my conclusion from her premises.
“I? Oh, I like it pretty well. Sometimes things are inconvenient, and they ’re often uncomfortable, but it is n't bad if you have people to be good to.”
She lapsed into silence after this, and resting her chin on her hand stared thoughtfully through the window. Eager to hear more of her strange little thoughts, I racked my brain for something to say, and at last, nothing startling or original suggesting itself, I asked: “Have you been long away from home?”
“For four weeks. Mamma got so sick she had to be taken to a hospital, and then papa sent me to stay at grandma's.”