Friday, January 22, 2010

NO ONE TO PLAY WITH, part 3 of 3, by Marion Temple (1917)

One night he felt more than usually lonely in his little bed. He had left "the boys" in the day nursery seated solemnly round their table for dinner, their silver plates in front of them. Nurse had gone down to supper and thru the chink of his half-opened door he could catch the ray of electric light just falling on the head of the French admiral and the Teddy Bear.

He could not go to sleep and he began to consider what "she" was doing and if--but he hardened his heart and the world felt lonelier than ever. Suddenly he heard some one coming up the stairs. It wasn't nurse; she seemed always to press the stairs downwards as if she wanted to hurt them. A faint scent of fresh flowers came to him like the breath of spring; a very gentle swish of something silky reached his straining ears. He sat up and then slid very noiselessly to the end of the bed which commanded a complete view of the day nursery.

He watched "her" movements with a look of fury. How dare she creep into his nursery when he was supposed to be asleep? Now she was looking at his pictures, and now--anger fairly shook him--she was coming toward "the boys." He was on the point of calling out when the very words stuck in his throat.

She had actually dared to touch the Teddy Bear, which his real mummy had given him.

Then a strange thing happened. She sat down beside "the boys" at the dinner party and her eyes were full of tears. She straightened the tired-looking guests in their chairs tenderly and seriously. She took the Teddy Bear very gently to her knee, bent over him till the light from the passage seemed to strike golden flames from her hair. Philip crept out of bed and watched, with astonishment, the tears dropping silently down her cheeks. He saw a wistful look come over her face as she glanced around the forlorn and empty nursery.

The next moment he was standing proudly in the doorway, his hair ruffled, his hands where he wished for pockets in his little pink pajamas.

"What is the matter?" he asked in a clear voice, interested but antagonistic in tone.

She did not look up but in a voice that muffled by a sob she answered unsteadily:

"I am lonely. I have no one to play with. The house is big and empty. At home, I had brothers and sisters but here I have no one at all."

There was a long pause and then--he never could explain to himself afterwards exactly how it happened--he found himself drawn on to her knee, his arms round her neck, his head nestling happily against hers.

They both talked at once. He told her about "the boys" and she told him about her home.

They were so interested that they never even heard nurse come up, hurting each stair as she climbed. Nurse paused a moment by the open door and turned away as noiselessly as she could. Her old face was wet with tears for which she felt no shame.