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Just David by  Eleanor H. Porter

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CHAPTER XVI

DAVID'S CASTLE IN SPAIN

[199] ON his return from the House that Jack Built, David decided to count his gold-pieces. He got them out at once from behind the books, and stacked them up in little shining rows. As he had surmised, there were a hundred of them. There were, indeed, a hundred and six. He was pleased at that. One hundred and six were surely enough to give him a "start."

A start! David closed his eyes and pictured it. To go on with his violin, to hear good music, to be with people who understood what he said when he played! That was what Mr. Jack had said a "start" was. And this gold—these round shining bits of gold—could bring him this! David swept the little piles into a jingling heap, and sprang to his feet with both fists full of his suddenly beloved wealth. With boyish glee he capered about the room, jingling the coins in his hands. Then, very soberly, he sat down again, and began to gather the gold to put away.

[200] He would be wise—he would be sensible. He would watch his chance, and when it came he would go away. First, however, he would tell Mr. Jack and Joe, and the Lady of the Roses; yes, and the Hollys, too. Just now there seemed to be work, real work that he could do to help Mr. Holly. But later, possibly when September came and school,—they had said he must go to school,—he would tell them then, and go away instead. He would see. By that time they would believe him, perhaps, when he showed the gold-pieces. They would not think he had—stolen them. It was August now; he would wait. But meanwhile he could think—he could always be thinking of the wonderful thing that this gold was one day to bring to him.

Even work, to David, did not seem work now. In the morning he was to rake hay behind the men with the cart. Yesterday he had not liked it very well; but now—nothing mattered now. And with a satisfied sigh David put his precious gold away again behind the books in the cupboard.

David found a new song in his violin the next morning. To be sure, he could not play it— [201] much of it—until four o'clock in the afternoon came; for Mr. Holly did not like violins to be played in the morning, even on days that were not especially the Lord's. There was too much work to do. So David could only snatch a strain or two very, very softly, while he was dressing; but that was enough to show him what a beautiful song it was going to be. He knew what it was, at once, too. It was the gold-pieces, and what they would bring. All through the day it tripped through his consciousness, and danced tantalizingly just out of reach. Yet he was wonderfully happy, and the day seemed short in spite of the heat and the weariness.

At four o'clock he hurried home and put his violin quickly in tune. It came then—that dancing sprite of tantalization—and joyously abandoned itself to the strings of the violin, so that David knew, of a surety, what a beautiful song it was.

It was this song that sent him the next afternoon to see his Lady of the Roses. He found her this time out of doors in her garden. Unceremoniously, as usual, he rushed headlong into her presence.

"Oh, Lady—Lady of the Roses," he panted. [202] "I've found out, and I came quickly to tell you."

"Why, David, what—what do you mean?" Miss Holbrook looked unmistakably startled.

"About the hours, you know,—the unclouded ones," explained David eagerly. "You know you said they were all cloudy to you."

Miss Holbrook's face grew very white.

"You mean—you've found out why my hours are—are all cloudy ones?" she stammered.

"No, oh, no. I can't imagine why they are," returned David, with an emphatic shake of his head. "It's just that I've found a way to make all my hours sunny ones, and you can do it, too. So I came to tell you. You know you said yours were all cloudy."

"Oh," ejaculated Miss Holbrook, falling back into her old listless attitude. Then, with some asperity: "Dear me, David! Did n't I tell you not to be remembering that all the time?"

"Yes, I know, but I've learned something," urged the boy; "something that you ought to know. You see, I did think, once, that because you had all these beautiful things around you, [203] the hours ought to be all sunny ones. But now I know it is n't what's around you; it's what is in you!"

"Oh, David, David, you curious boy!"

"No, but really! Let me tell you," pleaded David. "You know I have n't liked them,—all those hours till four o'clock came,—and I was so glad, after I saw the sundial, to find out that they did n't count, anyhow. But to-day they have counted—they've all counted, Lady of the Roses; and it's just because there was something inside of me that shone and shone, and made them all sunny—those hours."

"Dear me! And what was this wonderful thing?"

David smiled, but he shook his head.

"I can't tell you that yet—in words; but I'll play it. You see, I can't always play them twice alike,—those little songs that I find,—but this one I can. It sang so long in my head, before my violin had a chance to tell me what it really was, that I sort of learned it. Now, listen!" And he began to play.

It was, indeed, a beautiful song, and Miss Holbrook said so with promptness and enthusiasm; yet still David frowned.

[204] "Yes, yes," he answered, "but don't you see? That was telling you about something inside of me that made all my hours sunshiny ones. Now, what you want is something inside of you to make yours sunshiny, too. Don't you see?"

An odd look came into Miss Holbrook's eyes.

"That's all very well for you to say, David, but you have n't told me yet, you know, just what it is that's made all this brightness for you."

The boy changed his position, and puckered his forehead into a deeper frown.

"I don't seem to explain so you can understand," he sighed. "It is n't the special thing. It's only that it's something. And it's thinking about it that does it. Now, mine would n't make yours shine, but—still,"—he broke off, a happy relief in his eyes,—"yours could be like mine, in one way. Mine is something that is going to happen to me—something just beautiful; and you could have that, you know,—something that was going to happen to you, to think about."

Miss Holbrook smiled, but only with her lips, Her eyes had grown somber.

[205] "But there is n't anything 'just beautiful' going to happen to me, David," she demurred.

"There could, could n't there?"

Miss Holbrook bit her lip; then she gave an odd little laugh that seemed, in some way, to go with the swift red that had come to her cheeks.

"I used to think there could—once," she admitted; "but I've given that up long ago. It—it did n't happen."

"But could n't you just think it was going to?" persisted the boy. "You see I found out yesterday that it's the thinking that does it. All day long I was thinking—only thinking. I wasn't doing it, at all. I was really raking behind the cart; but the hours all were sunny."

Miss Holbrook laughed now outright.

"What a persistent little mental-science preacher you are!" she exclaimed. "And there's truth—more truth than you know—in it all, too. But I can't do it, David,—not that—not that. 'T would take more than thinking—to bring that," she added, under her breath, as if to herself.

"But thinking does bring things," maintained [206] David earnestly. "There's Joe—Joe Glaspell. His mother works out all day; and he's blind."

"Blind? Oh-h!" shuddered Miss Holbrook.

"Yes; and he has to stay all alone, except for Betty, and she is n't there much. He thinks all his things. He has to. He can't see anything with his outside eyes. But he sees everything with his inside eyes—everything that I play. Why, Lady of the Roses, he's even seen this—all this here. I told him about it, you know, right away after I'd found you that first day: the big trees and the long shadows across the grass, and the roses, and the shining water, and the lovely marble people peeping through the green leaves; and the sundial, and you so beautiful sitting here in the middle of it all. Then I played it for him; and he said he could see it all just as plain! And that was with his inside eyes! And so, if Joe, shut up there in his dark little room, can make his think bring him all that, I should think that you, here in this beautiful, beautiful place, could make your think bring you anything you wanted it to."

But Miss Holbrook sighed again and shook her head.

[207] "Not that, David, not that," she murmured. "It would take more than thinking to bring—that." Then, with a quick change of manner, she cried: "Come, come, suppose we don't worry any more about my hours. Let's think of yours. Tell me, what have you been doing since I saw you last? Perhaps you have been again to—to see Mr. Jack, for instance."

"I have; but I saw Jill mostly, till the last." David hesitated, then he blurted it out: "Lady of the Roses, do you know about the gate and the footbridge?"

Miss Holbrook looked up quickly.

"Know—what, David?"

"Know about them—that they're there?"

"Why—yes, of course; at least, I suppose you mean the footbridge that crosses the little stream at the foot of the hill over there."

"That's the one." Again David hesitated, and again he blurted out the burden of his thoughts. "Lady of the Roses, did you ever—cross that bridge?"

Miss Holbrook stirred uneasily.

"Not—recently."

"But you don't mind folks crossing it?"

"Certainly not—if they wish to."

[208] "There! I knew 't was n't your blame," triumphed David.

"My blame!"

"Yes; that Mr. Jack would n't let Jill come across, you know. He called her back when she'd got halfway over once." Miss Holbrook's face changed color.

"But I do object," she cried sharply, "to their crossing it when they don't want to! Don't forget that, please."

"But Jill did want to."

"How about her brother—did he want her to?"

"N—no."

"Very well, then. I did n't, either."

David frowned. Never had he seen his beloved Lady of the Roses look like this before. He was reminded of what Jill had said about Jack: "His face was all stern and white, and his lips snapped tight shut after every word." So, too, looked Miss Holbrook's face; so, too, had her lips snapped tight shut after her last words. David could not understand it. He said nothing more, however; but, as was usually the case when he was perplexed, he picked up his violin and began to play. And as he played, there [209] gradually came to Miss Holbrook's eyes a softer light, and to her lips lines less tightly drawn. Neither the footbridge nor Mr. Jack, however, was mentioned again that afternoon.


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