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Girl Alone   By: (1895-)

Book cover

First Page:

GIRL ALONE

By ANNE AUSTIN

THE WHITE HOUSE, PUBLISHERS, CHICAGO

Copyright, 1930, by ANNE AUSTIN

PRINTED AND BOUND IN THE UNITED STATES BY THE WHITE BOOK HOUSE, CHICAGO

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I CHAPTER II CHAPTER III CHAPTER IV CHAPTER V CHAPTER VI CHAPTER VII CHAPTER VIII CHAPTER IX CHAPTER X CHAPTER XI CHAPTER XII CHAPTER XIII CHAPTER XIV CHAPTER XV CHAPTER XVI CHAPTER XVII CHAPTER XVIII CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER I

The long, bare room had never been graced by a picture or a curtain. Its only furniture was twenty narrow iron cots. Four girls were scrubbing the warped, wide planked floor, three of them pitifully young for the hard work, the baby of them being only six, the oldest nine. The fourth, who directed their labors, rising from her knees sometimes to help one of her small crew, was just turned sixteen, but she looked in her short, skimpy dress of faded blue and white checked gingham, not more than twelve or thirteen.

"Sal lee," the six year old called out in a coaxing whine, as she sloshed a dirty rag up and down in a pail of soapy water, "play act for us, won't you, Sal lee? 'Tend like you're a queen and I'm your little girl. I'd be a princess, wouldn't I, Sal lee?"

The child sat back on her thin little haunches, one small hand plucking at the skimpy skirt of her own faded blue and white gingham, an exact replica, except for size, of the frocks worn by the three other scrubbers. "I'll 'tend like I've got on a white satin dress, Sal lee "

Sally Ford lifted a strand of fine black hair that had escaped from the tight, thick braid that hung down her narrow back, tucked it behind a well shaped ear, and smiled fondly upon the tiny pleader. It was a miracle working smile. Before the miracle, that small, pale face had looked like that of a serious little old woman, the brows knotted, the mouth tight in a frown of concentration.

But when she smiled she became a pretty girl. Her blue eyes, that had looked almost as faded as her dress, darkened and gleamed like a pair of perfectly matched sapphires. Delicate, wing like eyebrows, even blacker than her hair, lost their sullenness, assumed a lovely, provocative arch. Her white cheeks gleamed. Her little pale mouth, unpuckered of its frown, bloomed suddenly, like a tea rose opening. Even, pointed, narrow teeth, to fit the narrowness of her delicate, childish jaw, flashed into that smile, completely destroying the picture of a rather sad little old woman which she might have posed for before.

"All right, Betsy!" Sally cried, jumping to her feet. "But all of you will have to work twice as hard after I've play acted for you, or Stone Face will skin us alive."

Her smile was reflected in the three oldish little faces of the children squatting on the floor. The rags with which they had been wiping up surplus water after Sally's vigorous scrubbing were abandoned, and the three of them, moving in unison like mindless sheep, clustered close to Sally, following her with adoring eyes as she switched a sheet off one of the cots.

"This is my ermine robe," she declared. "Thelma, run and shut the door.... Now, this is my royal crown," she added, seizing her long, thick braid of black hair. Her nimble, thin fingers searched for and found three crimped wire hairpins which she secreted in the meshes of the plait. In a trice her small head was crowned with its own magnificent glory, the braid wound coronet fashion over her ears and low upon her broad, white forehead.

"Say, 'A royal queen am I,'" six year old Betsy shrilled, clasping her hands in ecstasy. "And don't forget to make up a verse about me, Sal lee! I'm a princess! I've got on white satin and little red shoes, ain't I, Sal lee?"

Sally was marching grandly up and down the barrack like dormitory, holding Betsy's hand, the train of her "ermine robe" upheld by the two other little girls in faded gingham, and her dramatically deepened voice was chanting "verses" which she had composed on other such occasions and to which she was now adding, when the door was thrown open and a booming voice rang out:

"Sally Ford! What in the world does this mean? On a Saturday morning!"

The two little "pages" dropped the "ermine robe"; the little "princess" shrank closer against the "queen," and all four, Sally's voice leading the chorus, chanted in a monotonous sing song: "Good morning, Mrs... Continue reading book >>




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