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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOutpost, Or Dora Darling And Little Sunshine - Chapter XXII - THE CONFESSION
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Outpost, Or Dora Darling And Little Sunshine - Chapter XXII - THE CONFESSION Post by :jrivera Category :Long Stories Author :Jane Goodwin Austin Date :January 2011 Read :476

Click below to download : Outpost, Or Dora Darling And Little Sunshine - Chapter XXII - THE CONFESSION (Format : PDF)

Outpost, Or Dora Darling And Little Sunshine - Chapter XXII - THE CONFESSION

THE morning came, but brought no comfort. Mrs. Ginniss had crept up
stairs, and, throwing herself upon the bed, had fallen asleep with
the tears still trickling down her honest face; but to Teddy's
haggard eyes no sleep had come, and he had only changed his position
by stretching himself upon the floor beside the box, his head upon
his arm, his aching eyeballs still shaping in the darkness the form
and features of the little sister whom he had sullenly resolved was
lost to him forever as punishment for his fault in concealing her.

"If I'd brought her back," thought he again and again, "they'd have
let me get seeing her once in a while; they couldn't have refused me
so much; and maybe some day I'd have been a gentleman, and could
have talked with her free and equal. But now she's lost to them and
to me; and, when I tell the master, he'll call me a mean thief and a
liar, and a rascal every way, and he'll never look at me again; and
mother"--

Then he would wander away into dreary speculation upon what his
another would say when the truth was made known to her, and she
found the boy on whom she had lavished her love and pride dishonored
and discarded by the master to whom he owed so much, and whose
patronage she had taken such pains to secure for him; and then, like
the weary burden of a never-ending song, would come again the
thought,--

"But if I'd brought her back at the first!"

The bitter growth of the night, however, had borne fruit in a
resolution firm as it was painful; and, when Teddy came up stairs to
make himself fit to go to the office, he was able to say some words
of comfort to his mother, assuring her that no blame to her could
come of what had happened, and that it was possible the child might
yet be found, as he should warn those of her loss who could use
surer means to search for her than any at their command.

"An' is it the perlice ye're manin'?" asked Mrs. Ginniss. "Sure it's
little they'd heed the loss o' poor folks like us, or look for one
little child that's missin', whin there's more nor enough uv 'em to
the fore in ivery poor man's house. But niver a one like ours, Teddy
b'y,--niver another purty darlint like her that's gone."

Teddy made no reply to this, but, hastily swallowing some food, took
his hat, and left the room.

Upon the stairs he met the landlord, who, followed by a
furniture-broker, entered the room of the organ-grinder. Going in
after them, Teddy learned, in answer to his eager questions, that
the broker had, early in the morning of the previous day, received a
visit from the Italian, who, announcing that he had no further use
for the furniture, paid what was owing for the rent of it, and made
a bargain for a box he was about to leave behind him; but, as to his
subsequent movements, the man had no information to give, nor could
even judge whether he intended leaving the city, or only the house.

Thanking him or the information, Teddy went drearily on his way,
more hopelessly convinced than ever that Giovanni had deliberately
stolen the child, and absconded with her.

"Well," muttered he, "all I've got to do now is to tell the master,
and take what I'll get. If he finds the little-no: she's none of
that, nor ever was-if he finds her, and takes her home to them that
lost her, I'll be content, if it's to prison, or to sweeping the
streets, or to be a slave in the South, he sends me."

Arrived at the office, Teddy faithfully performed his morning
duties, and then seated himself to wait for Mr. Barlow, who was
again occupying Mr. Burroughs's office during that gentleman's
absence in the West. While arranging upon his table some papers he
was to copy, Teddy suddenly remembered that other morning, now
nearly a year ago, when Mr. Burroughs had laid upon his very table
the picture and advertisement of the lost child; and all the months
of guilty hesitation and concealment that since had passed seemed to
roll back upon the boy's heart, crushing it into the very dust. He
threw down the pen he had just taken up, and laid his head upon his
folded arms, groaning aloud,--

"Oh! if I had told him then! if I had just told him that morning!"

The door of the office opened quickly; and Mr. Barlow, a grave and
reserved young man, who had never taken much notice of Teddy,
entered, and, as he passed to the inner room, glanced with some
curiosity at the boy, whose emotion was not to be quite concealed.

"If you please, sir"--

"Well, Teddy?"

"I should like to send a letter to Mr. Burroughs."

"Do you mean a letter from yourself?"

"Yes, sir."

A slight smile crossed Mr. Barlow's face, as he replied a little
sneeringly,--

"I am afraid your business will have to wait till Mr. Burroughs's
return, my boy."

"Don't you be sending him letters, sir?"

"I have; but, when I heard from him yesterday, he was about leaving
Cincinnati, and gave me no further address. He will be at home in a
day or two."

Mr. Barlow passed on, and Teddy stooped over his work, but to so
little purpose, that, on submitting it for inspection, he received a
sharp reproof for his negligence, and an order to do the whole
afresh.

"What a Quixotism of Burroughs's to try to educate this stupid
fellow!" muttered Mr. Barlow to a friend who lounged beside his
table; and Teddy, hearing the criticism upon his patron, felt an
added weight fall upon his own conscience.

"They laugh at him because I'm stupid, and I'm stupid because I'm
thinking of what I've done. It's good that they'll soon be shut of
me altogether. Maybe I can sweep the crossings, or clean the
gutters," thought poor miserable Teddy, bending afresh to his task.

Mr. Burroughs did not come so soon as expected; and Mr. Barlow
became quite impatient of the constant inquiry addressed to him by
Teddy as to the probable movements of his master. At last, about
noon of Friday, he walked into the office, looking more cheerful and
like his old self than he had been since the heavy sorrow had fallen
upon the household so near to his heart.

Mr. Barlow greeted him heartily, and, calling him into the inner
office, closed the door; while Teddy remained without, his heart
beating with a sick hard throb, a tingling pain creeping from his
brain to the ends of his icy fingers, and his whole frame trembling
with agitation.

It was no light task that he had set himself; and so he well knew.
To stand before the man he loved and reverenced before all men and
say to him that he had been for months deliberately deceiving and
injuring him and his; to confess that he had not once, but
persistently, refused the only chance ever offered him of repaying,
in some measure, the kindness and generosity of his patron; to
acknowledge grateful,--oh! it was no light task that the boy had set
himself; and yet his resolution never faltered.

Great acts are only great in the light of the actor's previous
history and training; and perhaps the atonement Teddy now
contemplated was for him as heroic as that of the martyred bishop
who held the hand that had signed the recantation steadily in the
flame until it was consumed.

The door of the office opened, and the two gentlemen were passing
out together, when Teddy started up,--

"If you please, sir, might I speak with you by yourself?"

"Oh, yes! Teddy has been very anxious for an interview with you all
the week. I will go on, and expect you down there presently," said
Mr. Barlow.

"Yes, in two minutes. Come in here, Teddy, and let us hear what you
have to say."

Mr. Burroughs threw himself into the chair he had just quitted, and
stirred the fire, saying good-humoredly,--

"Out with it, my boy! What's amiss?"

Teddy, standing beside the table, one clammy hand grasping the edge
of it, seemed to feel the floor heave beneath his feet, and the
whole room to reel and swim before his eyes. His tongue seemed
paralyzed, his lips quivered, his voice came to his own ears strange
and hollow; but still he struggled on, resolute to reach the worst.

"It's about the little girl that was lost, sir, your little cousin
Antoinette."

"'Toinette Legrange, cried Mr. Burroughs, his face suddenly growing
earnest as he turned it upon the boy, and asked,--

"What is it? Have you heard of her?"

"Yes, sir. I found her in the street the night she was lost. She was
dressed in poor clothes, and her hair was cut off. I didn't know who
she was; and I took her home to my mother, and asked her to keep her
for my little sister, because I never got one, and always wanted
her. Then she was sick; and one day you told me she was lost, and
showed me the picture and the piece in the paper; and I knew it was
her. Then I thought she was going to die, and I waited to know; and,
when she got better, I waited a while longer; and at last she was
well, and I couldn't bear to part with her"--

"But she is safe now?" interrupted Mr. Burroughs, his look of stern
reproach mingling with a sudden hope.

"No, sir: she's lost!"

"What!"

Teddy's white lips tried again and again before they could form the
words,--

"She's lost again, sir! She went out walking with Jovarny, that's
an organ-grinder, last Monday morning; and he has taken her off."

"You miserable fellow! You had better have killed as well as stolen
her!" exclaimed Mr. Burroughs.

Teddy clung to the table, and reeled as if a physical blow had
fallen upon him. It was the first time in the four years they had
spent together that his master had spoken to him in anger, and now,--

"Five days ago! And what have you done in that time towards looking
for her?" asked Mr. Burroughs sternly.

"Nothing, sir. I wanted to write to you, but couldn't get any
direction."

"And why didn't you tell Mr. Barlow, and let him set the police at
work? If you had warned him as soon as you discovered the loss, this
organ-grinder might have been caught. Now he is perhaps in New
Orleans, perhaps halfway to Europe. Why didn't you tell Barlow, I
say?"

"Please, sir, I couldn't bear telling any one but you that I done
it," said Teddy in a low voice.

"Well, sir, and, now you have told me, you will please walk out of
this office, and never enter it again. I did not imagine, that, in
all these months, you were preparing such a pleasant surprise for
me. One question, however: did your mother know who the child was?"

"No, sir: never."

"Then you may thank her that I let you off so easily; but I never
desire to see either of you again after to-day. Wait here for one
hour, while I go with a detective to hear your mother's story and to
get a description of this organ-grinder. At two o'clock, leave the
office; and take with you whatever belongs to yourself, and nothing
more."

Mechanically obeying his master's gesture, Teddy staggered out of
the room. Mr. Burroughs followed him, and, locking the door of the
inner office, put the key in his pocket, and went out.

"He thinks I'm a thief!" was the bitter thought that darted through
Teddy's mind; and then, "And how could I steal more than when I
stole her? He's right to lock up from me."

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"OCHONE! an' it's weary work climbin' thim stairs," groaned Mrs.Ginniss, pausing upon the landing outside the organ-grinder's door."An' mabbe she's wid him still. Anyway, I'll see, and save thecoomin' down agin."With these words, Mrs. Ginniss gave a modest rap upon the door, and,as it remained unanswered, a somewhat louder one, calling at thesame time,--"Misther Jovarny! Misther Jovarny, I say! Is it out yees still are?"The question remaining unanswered, the good woman waited no longer,but, climbing the remaining flight of stairs took the key of herroom from the shelf in Teddy's closet where it had been left, andunlocked the door."Cherry, darlint, be
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