DAVID'S convalescence was picturesque, in a way. As soon as he
was able, like a king he sat upon his throne and received his
subjects; and a very gracious king he was, indeed. His room
overflowed with flowers and fruit, and his bed quite groaned with
the toys and books and games brought for his diversion, each one
of which he hailed with delight, from Miss Holbrook's sumptuously
bound "Waverley Novels" to little crippled Jimmy Clark's bag of
Only two things puzzled David: one was why everybody was so good
to him; and the other was why he never could have the pleasure of
both Mr. Jack's and Miss Holbrook's company at the same time.
David discovered this last curious circumstance concerning Mr.
Jack and Miss Holbrook very early in his convalescence. It was on
the second afternoon that Mr. Jack had been admitted
 to the sick-room. David had been hearing all the latest news of Jill and
Joe, when suddenly he noticed an odd change come to his visitor's
The windows of the Holly "parlor bedroom" commanded a fine view
of the road, and it was toward one of these windows that Mr.
Jack's eyes were directed. David, sitting up in bed, saw then
that down the road was approaching very swiftly a handsome span
of black horses and an open carriage which he had come to
recognize as belonging to Miss Holbrook. He watched it eagerly
now till he saw the horses turn in at the Holly driveway. Then he
gave a low cry of delight.
"It's my Lady of the Roses! She's coming to see me. Look! Oh, I'm
so glad! Now you'll see her, and just know how lovely she is.
Why, Mr. Jack, you are n't going now!" he broke off in manifest
disappointment, as Mr. Jack leaped to his feet.
"I think I'll have to, if you don't mind, David," returned the
man, an oddly nervous haste in his manner. "And you won't mind,
now that you'll have Miss Holbrook. I want to speak to Larson. I
saw him in the field out
 there a minute ago. And I guess I'll
slip right through this window here, too, David. I don't want to
lose him; and I can catch him quicker this way than any other,"
he finished, throwing up the sash.
"Oh, but Mr. Jack, please just wait a minute," begged David. "I
wanted you to see my Lady of the Roses, and—" But Mr. Jack was
already on the ground outside the low window, and the next
minute, with a merry nod and smile, he had pulled the sash down
after him and was hurrying away.
Almost at once, then, Miss Holbrook appeared at the bedroom door.
"Mrs. Holly said I was to walk right in, David, so here I am,"
she began, in a cheery voice. "Oh, you're looking lots better
than when I saw you Monday, young man!"
"I am better," caroled David; "and to-day I'm 'specially better,
because Mr. Jack has been here."
"Oh, has Mr. Jack been to see you to-day?" There was an
indefinable change in Miss Holbrook's voice.
"Yes, right now. Why, he was here when you were driving into the
 Miss Holbrook gave a perceptible start and looked about her a
"Here when—But I did n't meet him anywhere—in the hall."
"He did n't go through the hall," laughed David gleefully. "He
went right through that window there."
"The window!" An angry flush mounted to Miss Holbrook's
forehead. "Indeed, did he have to resort to that to escape—" She
bit her lip and stopped abruptly.
David's eyes widened a little.
"Escape? Oh, he was n't the one that was escaping. It was Perry.
Mr. Jack was afraid he'd lose him. He saw him out the window
there, right after he'd seen you, and he said he wanted to speak
to him and he was afraid he'd get away. So he jumped right
through that window there. See?"
"Oh, yes, I—see," murmured Miss Holbrook, in a voice David
thought was a little queer.
"I wanted him to stay," frowned David uncertainly. "I wanted him
to see you."
"Dear me, David, I hope you did n't tell him so."
 "Oh, yes, I did. But he could n't stay, even then. You see, he
wanted to catch Perry Larson."
"I've no doubt of it," retorted Miss Holbrook, with so much
emphasis that David again looked at her with a slightly disturbed
"But he'll come again soon, I'm sure, and then maybe you'll be
here, too. I do so want him to see you, Lady of the Roses!"
"Nonsense, David!" laughed Miss Holbrook a little nervously.
"Mr.—Mr. Gurnsey does n't want to see me. He's seen me dozens of
"Oh, yes, he told me he'd seen you long ago," nodded David
gravely; "but he did n't act as if he remembered it much."
"Did n't he, indeed!" laughed Miss Holbrook, again flushing a
little. "Well, I'm sure, dear, we would n't want to tax the poor
gentleman's memory too much, you know. Come, suppose you see what
I've brought you," she finished gayly.
"Oh, what is it?" cried David, as, under Miss Holbrook's swift
fingers, the wrappings fell away and disclosed a box which, upon
being opened, was found to be filled with quantities of oddly
shaped bits of pictured wood—a jumble of confusion.
 "It's a jig-saw puzzle, David. All these little pieces fitted
together make a picture, you see. I tried last night and I could
n't do it. I brought it down to see if you could."
"Oh, thank you! I'd love to," rejoiced the boy. And in the
fascination of the marvel of finding one fantastic bit that
fitted another, David apparently forgot all about Mr. Jack—which
seemed not unpleasing to his Lady of the Roses.
It was not until nearly a week later that David had his wish of
seeing his Mr. Jack and his Lady of the Roses meet at his
bedside. It was the day Miss Holbrook brought to him the
wonderful set of handsomely bound "Waverley Novels." He was still
glorying in his new possession, in fact, when Mr. Jack appeared
suddenly in the doorway.
"Hullo my boy, I just—Oh, I beg your pardon. I supposed you
were—alone," he stammered, looking very red indeed.
"He is—that is, he will be, soon—except for you, Mr. Gurnsey,"
smiled Miss Holbrook, very brightly. She was already on her feet.
"No, no, I beg of you," stammered Mr. Jack, growing still more
red. "Don't let me
 drive—that is, I mean, don't go, please. I
did n't know. I had no warning—I did n't see—Your carriage was
not at the door to-day."
Miss Holbrook's eyebrows rose the fraction of an inch.
"I sent it home. I am planning to walk back. I have several calls
to make on the way; and it's high time I was starting. Good-bye,
"But, Lady, of the Roses, please, please, don't go," besought
David, who had been looking from one to the other in worried
dismay. "Why, you've just come!"
But neither coaxing nor argument availed; and before David really
knew just what had happened, he found himself alone with Mr.
Even then disappointment was piled on disappointment, for Mr.
Jack's visit was not the unalloyed happiness it usually was. Mr.
Jack himself was almost cross at first, and then he was silent
and restless, moving jerkily about the room in a way that
disturbed David very much.
Mr. Jack had brought with him a book; but even that only made
matters worse, for when he
 saw the beautifully bound volumes that
Miss Holbrook had just left, he frowned, and told David that he
guessed he did not need his gift at all, with all those other
fine books. And David could not seem to make him understand that
the one book from him was just exactly as dear as were the whole
set of books that his Lady of the Roses brought.
Certainly it was not a satisfactory visit at all, and for the
first time David was almost glad to have Mr. Jack go and leave
him with his books. The books, David told himself, he could
understand; Mr. Jack he could not—to-day.
Several times after this David's Lady of the Roses and Mr. Jack
happened to call at the same hour; but never could David persuade
these two friends of his to stay together. Always, if one came
and the other was there, the other went away, in spite of David's
protestations that two people did not tire him at all and his
assertions that he often entertained as many as that at once.
Tractable as they were in all other ways, anxious as they seemed
to please him, on this one point they were obdurate: never would
they stay together.
 They were not angry with each other—David was sure of that, for
they were always very especially polite, and rose, and stood, and
bowed in a most delightful fashion. Still, he sometimes thought
that they did not quite like each other, for always, after the
one went away, the other, left behind, was silent and almost
stern—if it was Mr. Jack; and flushed-faced and nervous—if it
was Miss Holbrook. But why this was so David could not
The span of handsome black horses came very frequently to the
Holly farmhouse now, and as time passed they often bore away
behind them a white-faced but happy-eyed boy on the seat beside
"My, but I don't see how every one can be so good to me!"
exclaimed the boy, one day, to his Lady of the Roses.
"Oh, that's easy, David," she smiled. "The only trouble is to
find out what you want—you ask for so little."
"But I don't need to ask—you do it all beforehand," asserted
the boy; "you and Mr. Jack, and everybody."
"Really? That's good." For a brief moment Miss Holbrook
hesitated; then, as if casually,
 she asked: "And he tells you
stories, too, I suppose,—this Mr. Jack,—just as he used to,
does n't he?"
"Well, he never did tell me but one, you know, before; but he's
told me more now, since I've been sick."
"Oh, yes, I remember, and that one was 'The Princess and the
Pauper'; was n't it? Well, has he told you any more—like—that?"
The boy shook his head with decision.
"No, he does n't tell me any more like that, and—and I don't
want him to, either."
Miss Holbrook laughed a little oddly.
"Why, David, what is the matter with that?" she queried.
"The ending; it was n't nice, you know."
"Oh, yes, I—I remember."
"I've asked him to change it," went on David, in a grieved voice.
"I asked him just the other day, but he would n't."
"Perhaps he—he did n't want to." Miss Holbrook spoke very
quickly, but so low that David barely heard the words.
"Did n't want to? Oh, yes, he did! He looked awful sober, and as
if he really cared, you know. And he said he'd give all he had in
 the world if he really could change it, but he could n't."
"Did he say—just that?" Miss Holbrook was leaning forward a
little breathlessly now.
"Yes—just that; and that's the part I could n't understand,"
commented David. "For I don't see why a story—just a story made
up out of somebody's head—can't be changed any way you want it.
And I told him so."
"Well, and what did he say to that?"
"He did n't say anything for a minute, and I had to ask him
again. Then he sat up suddenly, just as if he'd been asleep, you
know, and said, 'Eh, what, David?' And then I told him again what
I'd said. This time he shook his head, and smiled that kind of a
smile that is n't really a smile, you know, and said something
about a real, true-to-life story's never having but one ending,
and that was a logical ending. Lady of the Roses, what is a
The Lady of the Roses laughed unexpectedly. The two little red
spots, that David always loved to see, flamed into her cheeks,
and her eyes showed a sudden sparkle. When she answered,
 her words came disconnectedly, with little laughing breaths between.
"Well, David, I—I'm not sure I can—tell you. But perhaps I—can
find out. This much, however, I am sure of: Mr. Jack's logical
ending would n't be—mine!"
What she meant David did not know; nor would she tell him when he
asked; but a few days later she sent for him, and very gladly
David—able now to go where he pleased—obeyed the summons.
It was November, and the garden was bleak and cold; but in the
library a bright fire danced on the hearth, and before this Miss
Holbrook drew up two low chairs.
She looked particularly pretty, David thought. The rich red of
her dress had apparently brought out an answering red in her
cheeks. Her eyes were very bright and her lips smiled; yet she
seemed oddly nervous and restless. She sewed a little, with a bit
of yellow silk on white—but not for long. She knitted with two
long ivory needles flashing in and out of a silky mesh of
blue—but this, too, she soon ceased doing. On a low stand at
David's side she had placed books and pictures, and for
 a time she talked of those. Then very abruptly she asked:—
"David, when will you see—Mr. Jack again—do you suppose?"
"Tomorrow. I'm going up to the House that Jack Built to tea, and
I'm to stay all night. It's Halloween—that is, it is n't really
Halloween, because it's too late. I lost that, being sick, you
know. So we're going to pretend, and Mr. Jack is going to show me
what it is like. That is what Mr. Jack and Jill always do; when
something ails the real thing, they just pretend with the
make-believe one. He's planned lots of things for Jill and me to
do; with nuts and apples and candles, you know. It's to-morrow
night; so I'll see him then."
"To-morrow? So—so soon?" faltered Miss Holbrook. And to David,
gazing at her with wondering eyes, it seemed for a moment almost
as if she were looking about for a place to which she might run
and hide. Then determinedly, as if she were taking hold of
something with both hands, she leaned forward, looked David
squarely in the eyes, and began to talk hurriedly, yet very
"David, listen. I've something I want you to
 say to Mr. Jack, and
I want you to be sure and get it just right. It's about the—the
story, 'The Princess and the Pauper,' you know. You can remember,
I think, for you remembered that so well. Will you say it to
him—what I'm going to tell you—just as I say it?"
"Why, of course I will!" David's promise was unhesitating, though
his eyes were still puzzled.
"It's about the—the ending," stammered Miss Holbrook. "That is,
it may—it may have something to do with the ending—perhaps,"
she finished lamely. And again David noticed that odd shifting of
Miss Holbrook's gaze as if she were searching for some means of
escape. Then, as before, he saw her chin lift determinedly, as
she began to talk faster than ever.
"Now, listen," she admonished him, earnestly.
And David listened.
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