25. A Little Child Shall Lead
After dinner Harold went back to his cabin; locking himself in, he lay down on the sofa.
The gloom of his great sorrow was heavy on him; the reaction from the excitement of the
morning had come.
He was recalled to himself by a gentle tapping. Unlocking and opening the door he saw
Mr. Stonehouse, who said with trouble in his voice:
'I came to you on account of my little child.' There he stopped with a break in his voice.
Harold, with intent to set his mind at ease and to stave off further expressions of
'Oh, pray don't say anything. I am only too glad that I was privileged to be of service. I
only trust that the dear little girl is no worse for her--her adventure!'
'That is why I am here,' said the father quickly. 'My wife and I are loth to trouble you. But
the poor little thing has worked herself into a paroxysm of fright and is calling for you.
We have tried in vain to comfort or reassure her. She will not be satisfied without you.
She keeps calling on "The Man" to come and help her. I am loth to put you to further
strain after all you have gone through to-day; but if you would come--' Harold was
already in the passage as he spoke:
'Of course I'm coming. If I can in any way help it is both a pleasure and a duty to be with
her.' Turning to the father he added:
'She is indeed a very sweet and good child. I shall never forget how she bore herself
whilst we waited for aid to come.'
'You must tell her mother and me all about it,' said the father; much moved.
When they came close to the Stonehouses' suite of rooms they heard Pearl's voice rising
with a pitiful note of fear:
'Where is The Man? Oh! where is The Man? Why doesn't he come to me? He can save
me! I want to be with The Man!' When the door opened and she saw him she gave shriek
of delight, and springing from the arms of her mother fairly leaped into Harold's arms
which were outstretched to receive her. She clung to him and kissed him again and again,
rubbing her little hands all over his face as though to prove to herself that he was real and
not a dream. Then with a sigh she laid her head on his breast, the reaction of sleep
coming all at once to her. With a gesture of silence Harold sat down, holding the child in
his arms. Her mother laid a thick shawl over and sat down close to Harold. Mr.
Stonehouse stood quiet in the doorway with the child's nurse peering anxiously over his