Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/263

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251
FOLLOWING A BLIND TRAIL.

quarters were comfortable enough, but when the weather was cold, the family were sure to have his company,—nothing could keep him out of the house. But they always bore it kindly because he had saved Tom's life, years before. You remember Tom?"

"O, perfectly. Fine fellow he was, too."

"Yes he was. And what a pretty little thing his child was!"

"You may well say that. I never saw a prettier child."

"I used to delight to pet it and dandle it and play with it."

"So did I."

"You named it. What was that name? I can't call it to mind."

It appeared to me that the ice was getting pretty thin, here. I would have given something to know what the child's sex was. However, I had the good luck to think of a name that would fit either sex,—so I brought it out,—

"I named it Frances."

"From a relative, I suppose? But you named the one that died, too,—one that I never saw. What did you call that one?"

I was out of neutral names, but as the child was dead and she had never seen it, I thought I might risk a name for it and trust to luck. Therefore I said,—

"I called that one Thomas Henry."

She said, musingly,—

"That is very singular . . . . . . very singular."

I sat still and let the cold sweat run down. I was in a good deal of trouble, but I believed I could worry through if she wouldn't ask me to name any more children. I wondered where the lightning was going to strike next. She was still ruminating over that last child's title, but presently she said,—

"I have always been sorry you were away at the time,—I would have had you name my child."