Under the Lilacs
Mrs. Moss woke Ben with a kiss next morning, for her heart yearned over the fatherless
lad as if he had been her own, and she had no other way of showing her sympathy. Ben
had forgotten his troubles in sleep; but the memory of them returned as soon as he opened
his eyes, heavy with the tears they had shed. He did not cry any more, but felt strange and
lonely till he called Sancho and told him all about it, for he was shy even with kind Mrs.
Moss, and glad when she went away.
Sancho seemed to understand that his master was in trouble, and listened to the sad little
story with gurgles of interest, whines of condolence, and intelligent barks whenever the
word "daddy " was uttered. He was only a brute, but his dumb affection comforted the
boy more than any words; for Sanch had known and loved "father" almost as long and
well as his son, and that seemed to draw them closely together, now they were left alone.
"We must put on mourning, old feller. It's the proper thing, and there's nobody else to do
it now," said Ben, as he dressed, remembering how all the company wore bits of crape
somewhere about them at 'Melia's funeral.
It was a real sacrifice of boyish vanity to take the blue ribbon with its silver anchors off
the new hat, and replace it with the dingy black band from the old one; but Ben was quite
sincere in doing this, though doubtless his theatrical life made him think of the effect
more than other lads would have done. He could find nothing in his limited wardrobe
with which to decorate Sanch except a black cambric pocket. It was already half torn out
of his trousers with the weight of nails, pebbles, and other light trifles; so he gave it a
final wrench and tied it into the dog's collar, saying to himself, as he put away his
treasures, with a sigh,--
"One pocket is enough; I sha'n't want anything but a han'k'chi'f to-day."
Fortunately, that article of dress was clean, for he had but one; and, with this somewhat
ostentatiously drooping from the solitary pocket, the serious hat upon his head, the new
shoes creaking mournfully, and Sanch gravely following, much impressed with his black
bow, the chief mourner descended, feeling that he had done his best to show respect to
Mrs. Moss's eyes filled as she saw the rusty band, and guessed why it was there; but she
found it difficult to repress a smile when she beheld the cambric symbol of woe on the
dog's neck. Not a word was said to disturb the boy's comfort in these poor attempts,
however; and he went out to do his chores, conscious that he was an object of interest to
his friends, especially so to Bab and Betty, who, having been told of Ben's loss, now
regarded him with a sort of pitying awe very grateful to his feelings.