A STORY REMODELED
 THE pretended Halloween was a great success. So very excited,
indeed, did David become over the swinging apples and popping
nuts that he quite forgot to tell Mr. Jack what the Lady of the
Roses had said until Jill had gone up to bed and he himself was
about to take from Mr. Jack's hand the little lighted lamp.
"Oh, Mr. Jack, I forgot," he cried then. "There was something I
was going to tell you."
"Never mind to-night, David; it's so late. Suppose we leave it
until to-morrow," suggested Mr. Jack, still with the lamp
extended in his hand.
"But I promised the Lady of the Roses that I'd say it to-night,"
demurred the boy, in a troubled voice.
The man drew his lamp halfway back suddenly.
"The Lady of the Roses! Do you mean—she sent a message—to me?"
 "Yes; about the story, 'The Princess and the Pauper,' you know."
With an abrupt exclamation Mr. Jack set the lamp on the table and
turned to a chair. He had apparently lost his haste to go to bed.
"See here, David, suppose you come and sit down, and tell me just
what you're talking about. And first—just what does the Lady of
the Roses know about that—that 'Princess and the Pauper'?"
"Why, she knows it all, of course," returned the boy in surprise.
"I told it to her."
"You—told—it—to her!" Mr. Jack relaxed in his chair. "David!"
"Yes. And she was just as interested as could be."
"I don't doubt it!" Mr. Jack's lips snapped together a little
"Only she did n't like the ending, either."
Mr. Jack sat up suddenly.
"She did n't like—David, are you sure? Did she say that?"
David frowned in thought.
"Well, I don't know as I can tell, exactly, but I'm sure she did
n't like it, because just before she told me what to say to you,
 that—that what she was going to say would probably have
something to do with the ending, anyway. Still—" David paused in
yet deeper thought. "Come to think of it, there really is n't
anything—not in what she said—that changed that ending, as I
can see. They did n't get married and live happy ever after,
"Yes, but what did she say?" asked Mr. Jack in a voice that was
not quite steady. "Now, be careful, David, and tell it just as
she said it."
"Oh, I will," nodded David. "She said to do that, too."
"Did she?" Mr. Jack leaned farther forward in his chair. "But
tell me, how did she happen to—to say anything about it? Suppose
you begin at the beginning—away back, David. I want to hear it
David gave a contented sigh, and settled himself more
"Well, to begin with, you see, I told her the story long ago,
before I was sick, and she was ever so interested then, and asked
lots of questions. Then the other day something came up—I've
forgotten how—about the ending, and I told her how hard I'd
tried to have you
 change it, but you would n't. And she spoke
right up quick and said probably you did n't want to change it,
anyhow. But of course I settled that question without any
trouble," went on David confidently, "by just telling her how you
said you'd give anything in the world to change it."
"And you told her that—just that, David?" cried the man.
"Why, yes, I had to," answered David, in surprise, "else she
would n't have known that you did want to change it. Don't you
"Oh, yes! I—see—a good deal that I'm thinking you don't,"
muttered Mr. Jack, falling back in his chair.
"Well, then is when I told her about the logical ending—what you
said, you know,—oh, yes! and that was when I found out she did
n't like the ending, because she laughed such a funny little
laugh and colored up, and said that she was n't sure she could
tell me what a logical ending was, but that she would try to find
out, and that, anyhow, your ending would n't be hers—she was
sure of that."
"David, did she say that—really?" Mr. Jack was on his feet now.
 "She did; and then yesterday she asked me to come over, and she
said some more things,—about the story, I mean,—but she did n't
say another thing about the ending. She did n't ever say anything
about that except that little bit I told you of a minute ago."
"Yes, yes, but what did she say?" demanded Mr. Jack, stopping
short in his walk up and down the room.
"She said: 'You tell Mr. Jack that I know something about that
story of his that perhaps he does n't. In the first place, I know
the Princess a lot better than he does, and she is n't a bit the
kind of girl he's pictured her."
"Yes! Go on—go on!"
" 'Now, for instance,' she says, 'when the boy made that call,
after the girl first came back, and when the boy did n't like it
because they talked of colleges and travels, and such things, you
tell him that I happen to know that that girl was just hoping and
hoping he'd speak of the old days and games; but that she could
n't speak, of course, when he had n't been even once to see her
during all those weeks, and when he'd acted in every way just as
if he'd forgotten.' "
 "But she had n't waved—that Princess had n't waved—once!"
argued Mr. Jack; "and he looked and looked for it."
"Yes, she spoke of that," returned David. "But she said she
should n't think the Princess would have waved, when she'd got to
be such a great big girl as that—waving to a boy! She said that
for her part she should have been ashamed of her if she had!"
"Oh, did she!" murmured Mr. Jack blankly, dropping suddenly into
"Yes, she did," repeated David, with a little virtuous uplifting
of his chin.
It was plain to be seen that David's sympathies had unaccountably
met with a change of heart.
"Oh, yes, and that's another thing," interrupted David. "The Lady
of the Roses said that she did n't like that name one bit; that
it was n't true, anyway, because he was n't a pauper. And she
said, too, that as for his picturing the Princess as being
perfectly happy in all that magnificence, he did n't get it right
at all. For she knew that the Princess was n't one bit happy,
because she was so lonesome
 for things and people she had known
when she was just the girl."
Again Mr. Jack sprang to his feet. For a minute he strode up and
down the room in silence; then in a shaking voice he asked:—
"David, you—you are n't making all this up, are you? You're
saying just what—what Miss Holbrook told you to?"
"Why, of course, I'm not making it up," protested the boy
aggrievedly. "This is the Lady of the Roses' story—she made it
up—only she talked it as if 't was real, of course, just as you
did. She said another thing, too. She said that she happened to
know that the Princess had got all that magnificence around her
in the first place just to see if it would n't make her happy,
but that it had n't, and that now she had one place—a little
room—that was left just as it used to be when she was the girl,
and that she went there and sat very often. And she said it was
right in sight of where the boy lived, too, where he could see it
every day; and that if he had n't been so blind he could have
looked right through those gray walls and seen that, and seen
lots of other things. And what did she mean by that, Mr. Jack?"
 "I don't know—I don't know, David," half-groaned Mr. Jack.
"Sometimes I think she means—and then I think that can't
"But do you think it's helped it any—the story?" persisted the
boy. "She's only talked a little about the Princess. She did n't
really change things any—not the ending."
"But she said it might, David—she said it might! Don't you
remember?" cried the man eagerly. And to David, his eagerness did
not seem at all strange. Mr. Jack had said before—long ago—that
he would be very glad indeed to have a happier ending to this
tale. "Think now," continued the man. "Perhaps she said something
else, too. Did she say anything else, David?"
David shook his head slowly.
"No, only—yes, there was a little something, but it does n't
change things any, for it was only a 'supposing.' She said: 'Just
supposing, after long years, that the Princess found out about
how the boy felt long ago, and suppose he should look up at the
tower some day, at the old time, and see a one—two wave, which
meant, "Come over to see me." Just what do
 you suppose he would
do?' But of course, that can't do any good," finished David
gloomily, as he rose to go to bed, "for that was only a
"Of course," agreed Mr. Jack steadily; and David did not know
that only stern self-control had forced the steadiness into that
voice, nor that, for Mr. Jack, the whole world had burst suddenly
Neither did David, the next morning, know that long before eight
o'clock Mr. Jack stood at a certain window, his eyes unswervingly
fixed on the gray towers of Sunnycrest. What David did know,
however, was that just after eight, Mr. Jack strode through the
room where he and Jill were playing checkers, flung himself into
his hat and coat, and then fairly leaped down the steps toward
the path that led to the footbridge at the bottom of the hill.
"Why, whatever in the world ails Jack?" gasped Jill. Then, after
a startled pause, she asked. "David, do folks ever go crazy for
joy? Yesterday, you see, Jack got two splendid pieces of news.
One was from his doctor. He was examined, and he's fine, the
doctor says; all well, so he can go back now, any time, to the
 and work. I shall go to school then, you know,—a young
ladies' school," she finished, a little importantly.
"He's well? How splendid! But what was the other news? You said
there were two; only it could n't have been nicer than that was;
to be well—all well!"
"The other? Well, that was only that his old place in the city
was waiting for him. He was with a firm of big lawyers, you know,
and of course it is nice to have a place all waiting. But I can't
see anything in those things to make him act like this, now. Can
"Why, yes, maybe," declared David. "He's found his work—don't
you see?—out in the world, and he's going to do it. I know how
I'd feel if I had found mine that father told me of! Only what I
can't understand is, if Mr. Jack knew all this yesterday, why did
n't he act like this then, instead of waiting till to-day?"
"I wonder," said Jill.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics