6. A Fire Brand
"Please, ma'am, could I speak to you? It is something very important," said Nat,
popping his head in at the door of Mrs. Bhaer's room.
It was the fifth head which had popped in during the last half-hour; but Mrs. Jo
was used to it, so she looked up, and said, briskly,
"What is it, my lad?"
Nat came in, shut the door carefully behind him, and said in an eager, anxious
"Dan has come."
"Who is Dan?"
"He's a boy I used to know when I fiddled round the streets. He sold papers, and
he was kind to me, and I saw him the other day in town, and told him how nice it
was here, and he's come."
"But, my dear boy, that is rather a sudden way to pay a visit."
"Oh, it isn't a visit; he wants to stay if you will let him!" said Nat innocently.
"Well, I don't know about that," began Mrs. Bhaer, rather startled by the coolness
of the proposition.
"Why, I thought you liked to have poor boys come and live with you, and be kind
to 'em as you were to me," said Nat, looking surprised and alarmed.
"So I do, but I like to know something about them first. I have to choose them,
because there are so many. I have not room for all. I wish I had."
"I told him to come because I thought you'd like it, but if there isn't room he can
go away again," said Nat, sorrowfully.
The boy's confidence in her hospitality touched Mrs. Bhaer, and she could not
find the heart to disappoint his hope, and spoil his kind little plan, so she said,
"Tell me about this Dan."
"I don't know any thing, only he hasn't got any folks, and he's poor, and he was
good to me, so I'd like to be good to him if I could."
"Excellent reasons every one; but really, Nat, the house is full, and I don't know
where I could put him," said Mrs. Bhaer, more and more inclined to prove herself
the haven of refuge he seemed to think her.
"He could have my bed, and I could sleep in the barn. It isn't cold now, and I don't
mind, I used to sleep anywhere with father," said Nat, eagerly.
Something in his speech and face made Mrs. Jo put her hand on his shoulder,
and say in her kindest tone:
"Bring in your friend, Nat; I think we must find room for him without giving him
Nat joyfully ran off, and soon returned followed by a most unprepossessing boy,
who slouched in and stood looking about him, with a half bold, half sullen look,
which made Mrs. Bhaer say to herself, after one glance,
"A bad specimen, I am afraid."
"This is Dan," said Nat, presenting him as if sure of his welcome.
"Nat tells me you would like to come and stay with us," began Mrs. Jo, in a