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"Yes?" came the eager credulous cry of the mother. "Oh, I hope you are right!" Then to Gina, "You didn't see his face, did you?"

"I didn't have to. I knew it was father." She spoke positively.

Signora Sarti's piteous eyes came back to my face. "She knew him," "She knew him," she echoed, all hope again vanished. "You mustn't believe it!" I protested. "You'll see it was just a mistake. I'm sure your husband is all right. He wrote himself that he was feeling better."

And when a week later they got another letter from him saying he was gaining weight, I was very triumphant. "Now do you believe me that dreams are rubbish?" I cried.

Signora Sarti smiled happily, but Gina looked unconvinced.

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"I saw him as plain as I see you,' she said, looking at me from those cavernous eyes of hers. "Vittorio's got a bad cough," she added. "He says his head and his back ache." She had him in her arms at the time and began to sway back and forth with him soothingly, an affectionate motherish expression on her wan face. Then suddenly I saw her close her eyes and totter. Before I could get to her, however, she opened them again and laughed a shrill little treble. "I had such a funny feeling," she said. "It was kind of scary and kind of fun-just like I was going too high in a swing. You know the way your stomach feels." She sat down then, and I could see that her fleshless little legs were trembling.

"Vittorio is too heavy for you to carry," I cautioned. "You look as if you didn't feel very well yourself." "O Gesù Maria!" cried Signora Sarti. "You're not sick, Gina?"

"Me? No!" the child denied. "What could you do if I got sick? Both me and Vittorio on your hands.” She laughed with that high voice of scorn. "I just felt queer for a minute."

Vittorio began to whimper then, and she cuddled him sweetly.

"Mother's most finished father's uniform," she announced a moment later. "Show it to him, mother. It'll be ready for the buttons to-morrow." Her dark eyes shone bright with satisfaction as Signora Sarti fetched the uniform for me to see. "Won't father be tickled?" Gina cried. "There! There! Vittorio," she soothed. "What is it, Star of Gold? Do you want to go to bed? Mother, he's sick. Do you think Dr. Brunelli will come if I beg him to?" She got up from her chair, rather unsteadily I thought, and moved over to the bed where all three of them slept.

"We owe him fifty lire already." "Maybe he will come again.' Gina covered the whining Vittorio and started for the door.

"I'll go with you," I said. "The doctor has to come." Signora Sarti was crying as we went out.

"She can't get used to their dying," Gina explained when we were on the street. "This is the way the last baby went."

"Don't always be harping on death!" I reproved her sharply. "The baby is sick, but he isn't dying." Then at once I regretted my rude words, for the child's peaked little face began to twitch spasmodically. The chin quivered, the flat chest heaved, and she began to cry with heroic quietness, walking along by my side all the time.

"You needn't think I want Vittorio to die," she said. "If I could die for him I would." The words were said with passionate earnestness but very simply, and I felt a lump rise in my throat.

"I'm sorry I spoke like that," I told her.

"That's all right. You feel kind. of bad about Vittorio too, don't you? I know. Men don't cry. They get cross. I don't generally cry either. Father says I bear up wonderfullybut Vittorio and I, we get along awfully well-and I feel worse than usual. Here's Dr. Brunelli's."

"You wait outside," I said.

"He'll come quicker for me than for either mother or father," Gina demurred. "Maybe I better go."

"I think he'll come," I assured her. "Well, you try-and I can go afterward if he won't," she agreed. I found her sitting quietly on the steps when I came out. There were two bright red spots on her cheeks, but I laid them to the crying.

"He'll be along in half an hour," I assured her.

A look of new respect came into Gina's eight-year-old face.

"And us owing him fifty lire too!" she murmured incredulously. "I didn't believe he'd come even for me."

Half an hour later we knew that Vittorio had the influenza. His was one of the first cases that heralded the epidemic that took a toll of from three to four hundred persons daily. For a city of the size of Genoa that is a frightful number; so alarming indeed that the authorities had recourse to night-time burials in order not to increase the terror that had caught hold of the people.

"And this girl is coming down too," the doctor said with a hand on Gina's forehead. "Both of them must stay in bed."

"Me in bed?" scoffed Gina. "I'm not sick."

"You'll stay in bed," the doctor insisted.

"And who will go and stand in line for the bread and the milk in the morning?" Gina demanded. "You maybe?" Her laugh trilled high, and after the doctor had gone she denied with scorn that she felt bad. "The more people are sick the more money he makes," she told her mother. "You know I can't go to bed."

"I want you to go to bed for the rest of the day," I asked her. "Won't you do that for me? Then if you feel all right to-morrow you can get up. You can keep Vittorio company if you're in bed with him," I added quickly.

"I suppose I could," she agreed doubtfully. "Mother, can I sew buttons on father's uniform if I go to bed?"

Signora Sarti with a worried face was looking from one to another of us helplessly. At a nod from me she told Gina she could sew buttons; and Gina with a weary little sigh of which she was quite unconscious lay back among the pillows with Vittorio.

"Bed feels good," she announced. "I was just a little tired. To-morrow I shall feel fine." But looking down into those unnaturally bright black eyes and the pale cheeks with the spots of red, I doubted once more Gina's correct vision into the future. She was a sick little girl, and it had been only her Spartan courage that had kept her up till then.

a seat. Oh! Then he is dead at the station!" She began moaning again. The soldier looked uncomfortable, hesitated, but finally stepped inside -not removing his hat. He was a peasant. He understood death, but he knew nothing of social usage. He continued standing.

"From the house," Signora Sarti announced suddenly. "I want him brought here. But I have no money to pay for it."

"It won't cost you anything," the soldier said eagerly. "He was a soldier. It will be a military funeral."

"Well, that's good," Signora Sarti nodded. "He had a right to a good funeral. When will they bring him?" She was arranging everything calmly now. We had both forgotten the children for the moment, but now Gina's thin voice startled us.

"Father must wear his new uniform," she said. "I want him to look nice." So calmly she spoke that I was not sure she understood. "It's good we finished it last night, mother; but it's too bad he didn't get to see it. It was all wool," she told the soldier. "Good cloth." Then a little regretful sigh escaped her. "I should have liked to kiss him. May I kiss him when they bring him here?" she demanded.

"It's to be to-morrow morning," the soldier stated.

"You'll come too, won't you?" Gina asked of me, and I told her yes. "Let me have some more milk," she asked then. "I want to be strong for to-morrow."

Poor little waif! Her courageous spirit could not understand that the body was less mighty than her will. She drank her milk, lay back, and put a cuddling arm about the wee Vittorio.

"I'm going to sleep again," she said serenely; and so the two children remained until night fell. Then Gina awoke, and in the darkness we heard a cry of pained surprise. "Mother," she called, "Vittorio is cold. Mother, I think he is dead."

A little sob, a request that the lights be put on; that was all. Gina was "bearing up fine," as her father had said she always did.

"I had him in my arms, mother, anyway. It couldn't have hurt him. I guess he wanted to see father and couldn't wait till morning. And, mother"-the little voice assumed the tone of one who felt and accepted all the household responsibility— "Vittorio is to be buried with father. You see it was all right about grandma's earrings. Father has his uniform, and Vittorio has his funeral. Don't cry, mother. Everything is going fine.”

The mother, however, knew what little Gina did not know, what her brave soul could not suspect, for she never considered a possible harm to herself; and Signora Sarti flung herself beside the bed which held a little dead son and a very, very sick daughter, and she cried with long heartbroken sobs.

"Little Star of Gold! Little Star of Gold!" she repeated again and again while she clasped Gina's hot hand; and that unselfish spirit, thinking she was weeping for Vittorio, tried to console her with her matter-of-fact logic.

"Never mind, mother. We won't have any more babies to die now."

"No, darling, no," cried the mother, "no more." And I too felt the stinging tears roll down from

my eyes.

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I thought probably that was the last I should see of little Gina alive, but I had not counted on her indomitable spirit. She was still able to smile at me next morning.

"They're bringing father at nine. Mother has asked permission to have Vittorio go with him. Wasn't it lucky?" And when her father was brought at nine o'clock it was Gina from her bed who gave the directions in her thin voice-where to put the coffin while the new uniform was put on, how Vittorio was to be placed beside his father. "I'm still kind of wabbly if I stand up,' she confided to me, "or I would do more. I did get out of bed during the night to look at Vittorio, but my legs wouldn't hold me up, and mother had to lift me into bed again. When it's all finished you'll carry me over and let me kiss them both, won't you? Mother says I can't go to the funeral."

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When the moment came to lift her out all wrapped in blankets-I was amazed at the lightness of the bundle. The poor, meager little frame weighed no more than a child of three.

"They look happy," she said to me. "Mother, they look as if they were sleeping. I don't mind not going to the funeral. I thought I should, but I have seen them here. I am glad." Her voice trailed away to a faint sigh. Her eyes closed, and she lay tranquilly against my breast. "Mother!" The voice came suddenly, with surprise, but the eyes remained closed. "I am seeing a vision, mother. I see father and Vittorio. Father has both legs. Both legs, mother. I see him just as plain as I see you. He is standing. He is holding Vittorio's hand. They are walking toward me. Mother!" The voice thrilled with joy. "They are smiling at


Vittorio is beckoning. Father is holding out his other hand. Oh, mother, I feel so queer, just as if I were in a swing and going up-too -too high." The strength died out of the voice. "Where is my Americano?" Then: "Mother, I want to go out with father and Vittorio. We are going to the park I think. It's so sunny, mother." She smiledand died.



He Relied on Idealism and It Worked


THE OTHER day I took an American friend, who follows British politics closely and knows most of our prominent figures by name though not by sight, to the House of Commons. One always gets a fresh light from the impressions of an intelligent stranger, and with interest I watched his quick eyes traveling over the scene and taking it in.

It was a "big" day. The chamber was crowded. Questions were going on as we took our places, and there did not seem to be a vacant seat anywhere. Order-papers rustled like leaves. Every one was there. The two front benches, on each side of the table before the Speaker's Chair, the table that carries the mace and the sacred boxes which are thumped in moments of tension by the great, were both packed. At first it was not easy to distinguish faces, even when one knew them, and I was glad my friend sat in silence for some time. Suddenly I heard him say:

"Who is the man on the left, about the middle of the bench? With curly white hair and remarkable eyes. At first I picked him out as simply the handsomest of the bunch, but the more I look at him the more he impresses me. He's alive; those eyes of his are taking it all in, though

he sits with arms folded. . . . Ah, he's up now. . . . This is great.'

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A period of confused bustle had been followed by a low rumble of cheering, and now, out of the blurred indistinctness, a voice carried itself up to us by virtue not so much of volume as of musical quality of tone, aided by a firm enunciation of essential consonants. As Ramsay MacDonald-for it was he and not Stanley Baldwin, Lloyd George, or Winston Churchill who had been thus picked out as the "real" man among the shadows-went on speaking, this sense of authority grew.

"Hard man to answer, this. . . That's a good point he knows what he is talking about. . . . Fine he's got them there. . . . Oh, very good indeed."


He laughed as cheering and counter-cheering broke out, and an interruption was swiftly seized and turned to advantage. Other speakers followed. All the big guns were out in action. But I observed that my friend's attention always returned to MacDonald.

"I'm surprised," he said, as we came away. "He's not in the least what I had thought. You have to see people to get the hang of them. . . . I didn't agree with him, of course: never should; but that's neither here nor

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