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Adela Cathcart, Volume 2 by George MacDonald

And wished mamma would come home


a sofa. I crept into a dark

corner by the sideboard, and watched him. He seemed very sad, and did nothing but stare into the fire. At last he sighed out: 'I wish mamma would come home.' 'Poor boy!' thought I, 'there is no help for that but mamma.' Yet I would try to while away the time for him. So out of my corner I stretched a long shadow arm, reaching all across the ceiling, and pretended to make a grab at him. He was rather frightened at first; but he was a brave boy, and soon saw that it was all a joke. So when I did it again, he made a clutch at me; and then we had such fun! For though he often sighed, and wished mamma would come home, he always began again with me; and on we went with the wildest game. At last his mother's knock came to the door, and, starting up in delight, he rushed into the hall to meet her, and forgot all about poor black me. But I did not mind that in the least; for when I glided out after him into the hall, I was well repaid for my trouble, by hearing his mother say to him: 'Why, Charlie, my dear, you look ever so much better since I left you!' At that moment I slipped through the closing door, and as I ran across the snow, I heard the mother say: 'What shadow can that be, passing so quickly?' And Charlie answered with a merry laugh: 'Oh! mamma, I suppose it must be the funny shadow that has been playing such games with me, all the time you were out.' As soon as the door was shut, I crept along the wall, and looked in at the dining-room window. And I heard his mamma say, as she
led him into the room: 'What an imagination the boy has!' Ha! ha! ha! Then she looked at him very earnestly for a minute, and the tears came in her eyes; and as she stooped down over him, I heard the sounds of a mingling kiss and sob.'"

* * * * *

"Ah, I thought so!" cried Adela, who espied, peeping, that I had this last tale on a separate slip of paper--"I thought so! That is yours, Mr. Armstrong, and not uncle's at all. He stole it out of your sermon."

"You are excessively troublesome to-night, Adela," I rejoined. "But I confess the theft."

"He had quite a right to take what I had done with, Miss Cathcart," said the curate; and once more I resumed.

* * * * *

"'I always look for nurseries full of children,' said another; 'and this winter I have been very fortunate. I am sure we belong especially to children. One evening, looking about in a great city, I saw through the window into a large nursery, where the odious gas had not yet been lighted. Round the fire sat a company of the most delightful children I had ever seen. They were waiting patiently for their tea. It was too good an opportunity to be lost. I hurried away, and gathering together twenty of the best Shadows I could find, returned in a few moments to the nursery. There we began on the walls one of our best dances. To be sure it was mostly extemporized; but I managed to keep it in harmony by singing this song, which I made as we went on. Of course the children could not hear it; they only saw the motions that answered to it. But with them they seemed to be very much delighted indeed, as I shall presently show you. This was the song:

'Swing, swang, swingle, swuff, Flicker, flacker, fling, fluff! Thus we go, To and fro; Here and there, Everywhere, Born and bred; Never dead, Only gone.

On! Come on. Looming, glooming, Spreading, fuming, Shattering, scattering, Parting, darting, Settling, starting, All our life, Is a strife, And a wearying for rest On the darkness' friendly breast.

Joining, splitting, Rising, sitting, Laughing, shaking, Sides all aching, Grumbling, grim and gruff. Swingle, swangle, swuff!


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