Lo, Michael (Chapter 8, page 2 of 8)

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Chapter 8

The bleary eyes looked up unknowing, half resentful of his intrusion.

"Aunt Sally!" impulsively cried the boyish voice. "Aren't you Aunt Sally?"

The woman looked stupidly surprised.

"I be," she said thickly, "but wot's that to yous? I beant no hant o' yourn."

"Don't you remember Mikky?" he asked almost anxiously, for now the feeling had seized him that he must make her remember. He must find out if he could whether anything was known of his origin. Perhaps she could help him. Perhaps, after all, he might be able to trace his family, and find at least no disgrace upon him.

"Mikky!" the woman repeated dully. She shook her head.

"Mikky!" she said again stolidly, "Wot's Mikky?"

"Don't you remember Mikky the little boy that sold papers and brought you water sometimes? Once you gave me a drink of soup from your kettle. Think!"

A dim perception came into the sodden eyes.

"Thur wus a Mikky long ago," she mused. "He had hair like a h'angel, bless the sweet chile; but he got shot an' never come back. That war long ago."

Michael took off his hat and the little light in the dark alley seemed to catch and tangle in the gleam of his hair.

The old woman started as though she had seen a vision.

"The saints presarve us!" she cried aghast, shrinking back into her doorway with raised hands, "an' who be yez? Yeh looks enough like the b'y to be the father of 'im. He'd hair loike the verra sunshine itself. Who be yez? Spake quick. Be ye man, b'y, er angel?"

There was something in the woman's tone that went to the heart of the lonely boy, even while he recoiled from the repulsive creature before him.

"I am just Mikky, the boy, grown a little older," he said gently, "and I've come back to see the place where I used to live, and find the people I used to know."

"Y've lost yer way thin fer shure!" said the woman slightly recovering her equilibrium. "The loikes uv yous nivver lived in dis place; fer ef yous ain't angel you's gintulmun; an' no gintulmun ivver cum from the loikes o' this. An' besoides, the b'y Mikky, I tel'd yez, was shot an' nivver comed back no more. He's loikely up wid de angels where he b'longs."

"Yes, I was shot," said Michael, "but I wasn't killed. A good man sent me to college, and I've just graduated and come back to look up my friends."

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