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Amarilly of Clothes-line Alley   By:

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He was gazing into her intent eyes with a look of adoration

"You may all," she directed, "look at Amarilly's work"

To night he found himself less able than usual to cope with her caprices

"Be nice to Mr. St. John!" whispered the little peacemaker

[Illustration: He was gazing into her intent eyes with a look of adoration]



The tiny, trivial touch of Destiny that caused the turn in Amarilly's fate tide came one morning when, in her capacity as assistant to the scrub ladies at the Barlow Stock Theatre, she viewed for the first time the dress rehearsal of A Terrible Trial . Heretofore the patient little plodder had found in her occupation only the sordid satisfaction of drawing her wages, but now the resplendent costumes, the tragedy in the gestures of the villain, the languid grace of Lord Algernon, and the haughty treble of the leading lady struck the spark that fired ambition in her sluggish breast.

"Oh!" she gasped in wistful voiced soliloquy, as she leaned against her mop stick and gazed aspiringly at the stage, "I wonder if I couldn't rise!"

"Sure thing, you kin!" derisively assured Pete Noyes, vender of gum at matinées. "I'll speak to de maniger. Mebby he'll let youse scrub de galleries."

Amarilly, case hardened against raillery by reason of the possession of a multitude of young brothers, paid no heed to the bantering scoffer, but resumed her work in dogged dejection.

"Say, Mr. Vedder, Amarilly's stage struck!" called Pete to the ticket seller, who chanced to be passing.

The gray eyes of the young man thus addressed softened as he looked at the small, eager face of the youngest scrubber.

"Stop at the office on your way out, Amarilly," he said kindly, "and I'll give you a pass to the matinée this afternoon."

Amarilly's young heart fluttered wildly and sent a wave of pink into her pale cheeks as she voiced her gratitude.

She was the first to enter when the doors opened that afternoon, and she kept close to the heels of the usher.

"He ain't agoin' to give me the slip," she thought, keeping wary watch of his lithe form as he slid down the aisle.

In the blaze of light and blare of instruments she scarcely recognized her workaday environment.

"House sold out!" she muttered with professional pride and enthusiasm as the signal for the raising of the curtain was given. "Mebby I'd orter give up my seat so as they could sell it."

There was a moment's conflict between the little scrubber's conscience and her newly awakened desires.

"I ain't agoin' to, though," she decided. And having so determined, she gave her conscience a shove to the remotest background, yielding herself to the full enjoyment of the play.

The rehearsal had been inspiring and awakening, but this, "the real thing," as Amarilly appraised it, bore her into a land of enchantment. She was blind and deaf to everything except the scenes enacted on the stage. Only once was her passionate attention distracted, and that was when Pete in passing gave her an emphatic nudge and a friendly grin as he munificently bestowed upon her a package of gum. This she instantly pocketed "fer the chillern."

At the close of the performance Amarilly sailed home on waves of excitement. She was the eldest of the House of Jenkins, whose scions, numbering eight, were all wage earners save Iry, the baby. After school hours Flamingus was a district messenger, Gus milked the grocer's cow, Milton worked in a shoe shining establishment, Bobby and Bud had paper routes, while Cory, commonly called "Co," wiped dishes at a boarding house. Notwithstanding all these contributions to the family revenue, it became a sore struggle for the widow of Americanus Jenkins to feed and clothe such a numerous brood, so she sought further means of maintenance... Continue reading book >>

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