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Jennette Lee.

Happy Island : a new Uncle William story online

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back and forth and ought to be
stopped. . . . She reached up a hand and
laughed and toppled over and looked up
and saw Andy s grin somewhere. . . . For



320 Happy Island

a long minute she gazed back at it then
she went on hands and knees across the
rug flying from fate.

Sergia reached down and gathered her
up, smoothing the white dress. " I put her
into short clothes a week ago," she said
proudly. . . .

" She couldn t stan up a little now,
Sergia, could she ? suggested Uncle Will
iam.

11 Never! Sergia looked at him and
patted the round legs. " She won t walk
for ten weeks probably, she said kindly.

Uncle William s face had fallen a little.
" She ll be quite a spell gettin down to
my house," he said wistfully.

" I ll bring her tomorrow." The baby
gurgled and reached out fat hands and
Uncle William bent forward.

" Kind o takes to me! " he said. He
held out tentative hands, waggling the fin
gers, and the child looked at them gravely,



Happy Island 321

and leaned forward a little, and broke into
glee as Uncle "William seized her and
swung her toward the ceiling.

" She s not afraid of you," said Sergia
proudly.

Afraid of me ! ... I reckon she
couldn t be afraid of Uncle William ! "
There was something a little misty behind
the big spectacles . . . the blue eyes looked
out at the child from forgotten seas. She
grasped the tufts of beard and tugged at
them, rocking hard, and making remarks
to them.

Uncle William smiled in triumph and
seized the hand. * I reckon I might as well
take her down to my house," he said.
" She s got to learn the way some
time.

Sergia s face was a little alarmed
" You couldn t take care of her."

" I don t know why," said Uncle Will
iam, " I reckon I can take all the care she



322 Happy Island

needs She don t need any entertainin ."
He gazed at her fondly and chucked her
a little.

" She has to be fed," said Sergia.

11 I ll tend to feedin her myself," said
Uncle William, " Nobody ever starved -
to my house. You got a little bunnet for
her somewheres? He put his big hand
on the shining head.

Sergia looked at them reflectively. She
has to have special milk, you know ?

" I get mine to Andy s," said Uncle
William. " It s just as special as any,
ain t it Andy s milk?

Sergia smiled a little. It isn t that
It has to be prepared sterilized, you
know.

Uncle William looked at her sympathet
ically " Now, that s too bad and she
looks so healthy, too ! " He held her
off, and looked at her, and danced her a
little as an experiment and broke her



Happy Island 323

all up into little laughs. . . . He chuckled
softly. " I reckon I ll hev to take her,"
he said.

1 We-1-1 Sergia went slowly
toward the kitchen and returned with a
bottle in each hand. "I m going to let
you take her," she said magnanimously.
She laid the bottles on the table and
brought the little bonnet and put it on, pat
ting it and talking little, foolish words to
it " There ! " She stood off and looked
at them, doubtfully. " You must feed her
as soon as you get there, and then again in
three hours." She held out the bottles.

Yes m. Uncle William stored a bot
tle in either pocket where they would
balance and started toward the door.

" You must bring her back before din
ner, you know." She was following them
protectingly, " and I think I ll come
down by and by," she added.

Uncle William turned and laid a hand



324 Happy Island

on her shoulder. " Don t you worry a
mite, Sergia There s me and Celia to
take care of her and we re goin to hev
the best time t ever was The can t
anything happen to her not whilst I m
round.

He strode proudly out of the door and
over the rocks, the little figure riding on his
arm. The wind blowing softly across the
Island touched the small figure, and Uncle
William snuggled it down in his arm, cov
ering it with a great hand. The head nes
tled to him and drowsed a little and fell
asleep.

Uncle William came in the door with
hushed step. . . . " Sh-h ! he said.
He held up a warning finger.

Celia stopped singing and came over and
peeked at it. " Isn t she a dear! : She
held out inviting arms.

But Uncle William, proud in possession,



Happy Island 325

marched across to the red lounge and sat
down.

" Aren t you going to put her down? "
whispered Celia.

Uncle William shook his head. " Not
yet." He sat very quiet and the fire
crackled in the stove with the kettle
humming a little and leaving off and
beginning again. . . . Juno came across
and leaped up. She rubbed against him
and waited a minute then she purred
towards his knee. Uncle William watched
her benignantly, holding very still.

She purred softly, kneading her claws
and talking. . . . Presently she paused,
with fixed gaze her tail switched a ques
tion and was still. She leaped down and
went across and sat down, her back to the
room, and communed with space.

Uncle William s chuckle was very gen
tle. ..." Juno s makin up her mind, *
he said.



326 Happy Island

Celia turned and looked at the grey back
and laughed " She s jealous! " she said
in surprise.

Uncle William nodded. * * Women-folks.

She made no response and the room was
still again. The baby stirred and stretched
an arm and saw Uncle William s face
bending over her and laughed.

Celia came across and held out her
arms " Give her to me! " she said.

She gathered in the child, with little inar
ticulate words, and Uncle William watched
her gravely. " You ain t treated him
right, Celia, " he said gently.

She looked at him over the baby s
frock and her eyes had little stars in
them.

" You d ought to go tell him, Celia,
t you didn t mean anything," said Uncle
William, " actin that way. He s a
good deal cut up the way you ve been
actin ."



Happy Island 327

" I don t know where he is," said Celia.
She was smoothing the white frock and
smiling to Wilhelmina and whistling little
tunes.

" He s down to the beach," said Uncle
William. " He come along down when I
did You ain t treated him right," he
said slowly. ..." I like f am lies, and I
like folks to have houses and f am lies of
their own not be livin round, Celia."
He looked at her kindly. . . . " She ll be
kind of a fam ly to me " He nodded to
the rittle figure in her arms, " You needn t
worry a mite about me, Celia. . . . You
just wait till I get her suthin to eat and
then you can go. . . . George said he was
going out sailing," he added.

He drew the bottle from his pocket and
looked at it critically.

" You ought to heat it," said the girl
quickly.

" D you think so? " Uncle William



328 Happy Island

held it out, * * Feels kind o warm, don t
it bein in my pocket so! Guess I ll
keep the other one there till it s time."

He seated himself ancl reached up for
the baby. . . . Celia hesitated looking
out at the shining water and the clear sun
and the big boat down below "I don t
like to leave you alone," she said.

" I ain t alone," said Uncle William,
11 and like enough Sergia ll be here
byme-by. She said suthin about it
You run along now, Celia. You remember
he kind o hinted he wanted to take you out
today. You tell him you ll go tell him
right off fust thing fore anything
has time to happen "he said severely.

" Yes, sir." She flitted from the door
and he looked after her, a little dubi
ously. ..." I most ought to go with
her," he said.

Then his eye fell on the gurgling face
and he laughed.



Happy Island 329

He sat looking about the room with con
tented gaze. . . . Seems s if I had most

everything, he said " Juno

He called the name softly, but there was
no response. ..." Juno ! The grey tail
switched once on the floor and was still.
You come here to me, Juno ! " . . . Pres
ently she got up and came over to him and
jumped up beside him. Uncle William put
out a hand and stroked her. She settled
down with her gloomy green eyes. . . . The
baby dozed tranquilly over her bottle and
finished it and sat up. . . . Juno s back
tightened ready to spring. You lie
still, Juno," said Uncle William. . . .
" Nice kitty! " He smiled to the child
and stroked the soft fur. . . . She reached
out a willing hand and drew it back there
was a sound as if there were a small, muf
fled tornado in the room. Uncle William
stroked the great back steadily. " You
behave, Juno," he said sternly. The child



330 Happy Island

reached out the wavering hand again
and drew it back and cooed softly. . . .
There was a moment s breath then the
green-eyed Juno bowed her head, closing
her eyes, and allowed the small hand to
travel down her grey back and down
again and again and the red room was
filled with little, happy laughs.



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Online LibraryJennette LeeHappy Island : a new Uncle William story → online text (page 11 of 11)