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Newspaper Page Text
many kind-hearted persons in the vil
lage, but Thome refused any com
panionship. One evening Mrs. Cran
dall sent little Dot over to the place
with a dish of the first strawberries
of the season, newly picked from their
own home garden. Kir. Crandall and
the masked man had got as far as
bowing to one another, but only at a
distance. The kind-intentioned Cran
dall hoped to break down the barrier
of reserve with the recluse. -He pitied
his loneliness and hoped to become
A sharp scream caused Mrs. Cran
dall to rush to the street a minute or
two after little Dot had started on her
"Oh, my .darling! My, darling!"
she screamed, as she saw amid a
cloud of dust a great touring car and
an excited crowd gathering.
"She is safe!" called out a voice
suddenly, and the speaker and some
others drew back as there emerged
from amid the confusion the masked
He carried little Dot in his arms.
She was white with fright, but smil
ing up at him murmuring lovingly:
"Oh, you good man to come just
as I was being runned over!"
A little lad followed with the dish
filled, with dust and berries. Then
there were explanations. The auto
mobile had borne down unexpectedly,
the masked man chanced to be at his
garden gate. He shrank from the
staring crowd, without a word,
placed Dot in the arms of her adopted
mother and disappeared, followed by
the ardent thanks of Mrs. Crandall.
But there was a great ado the next
day. Dot insisted that she must go
and see her friend. Young as she
was, she recognized a debt of grati
tude to the stranger. There was an
iron-grated door in the wall of the
next place abutting on the Crandall
grounds. There Dot stationed her
self. An .hour later Mrs. Crandall
was astonished to find the gate open
and Dot nowhere in view. Then she
discovered her swinging in a ham-1
mock in the next garden, telling
stories to the masked man.
That was the beginning of a rare
companionship between the lovable
little Dot and the lonely world
weary recluse. All through the
golden month of June, hour after
hour, the strangely mated twain
would wander over the garden. To
this charming little sprite who was
not at all repelled by the mask he
wore, the recluse seemed to pour out
all the love and sympathy of his na
ture. The Crandalls had not the
heart to deprive Dot of this great
pleasure. Besides, he took pains in
teaching her to read, he filled her
mind with wondrous nature stories.
Then one day Dot came home in
"He is going away," she sobbed,
"and I shall be so lonely!"
At the barred gate that evening
Mr. Thorne met Mr. Crandall and told
him that business would call him
away for a month to a distant city.
He expressed his gratitude for the
company of the little child who had
brought so much of sunshine into his'
It was a joyful evening when Dot
saw a light once more in the solitary
old house. She could scarcely sleep,
so anxious waS she to regain her old
friend. The barred gate was kept '
locked, however. For fully a week
the recluse was not seen about the
grounds. At dusk one evening he
passed the house. Dot ran out im
petuously to greet him.
She returned with a white, fright
ened face. She was trembling all
over. Amid great terror she gasped
"Oh, papa! Oh, mamma! It isn't
"What is that, my child?" inquired
Mrs. Crandall quickly.
No, the clothing was the same, the
mask was the same, but, oh!- she
knew; the gruff voice, the touch of
the hand. And the suspicion awoke
in the mind of her auditors and then
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