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It was bleak and cold outside, but
William was lonely and sleepless. He
put on his raincoat, pulled a warm
cap down over his face, and confront
ed the blustering elements, setting
out for a brisk night stroll.
His heart warmed as he counted
the days before Milly would be back.
He wondered if she, too, did not long
and dream as did he. He began to
calculate if he could not afford the
cpxe of a couple of adopted mites
from the orphan asylum, and then,
deep In the woods surrounding the
town, he let down on his broad,
swinging pace at the sound of juve
nile voices and a fire glow.
"Well, well," he commented, near
ing the glow and discerning four lit
tle forms in a sheltered nook.
There were two boys and two girls,
the eldest perhaps fifteen, the young
est not more than five. They were
enjoying the blaze and toasting pieces
of ham oa the ends of sharpened
twigs. All four were chattering ani
matedly. William listened, amazed
and then enlightened. ,
He gleaned from their talk that
they were young waifs who had been
traveling with a circus. They had
been raised to that life by their par
ents, both dead. One of them could
perform on the trapeze, another on
the slack wire. The smaller ones did
a horseback ride, and all four were
The circus had gone into bank
ruptcy and their manager had de
serted them. For over a week the
little quartette, stout hearted, but
hungry, had been begging their way
back to some big city.
How the heart of William glowed.
Ah, here Providence had placed in
his charge the shadow children of his
vision: Rodney, Leila, Maxy, little
William! He burst in upon them
with expansive smile and outstretch
"Pack up," he shouted. "I adopt
"In the hurly-burly of explanation
William Dexter was not a rational
being. It was only when he had got
them under his comfortable home
roof, and had fed them, and insisted
on renaming them, and had told
them that they were adopted for all
time to come, that the four little
waifs read earnestness in his great?
honest face and responded to it with
Within a week each one of the quar
tette had settled down to some sim-
pie household duty. The eldest boy
was the man about house, the eldest
girl a charming, willing little house
keeper. William Dexter left the house
with a prayer of fervent gratitude in
the morning and came home with a
shout of delight in the evening.
Then Milly came home. She was
stunned at the opulent gift a kind
heaven had sent her. She clasped
them in strained joy to her breast
and then clung about the neck of her
husband, crying like a happy baby.
It was unalloyed for a month. Then
a great shadow hovered over the de
voted group. The bank in which Wil
liam had all his savings failed. The
loss caused him to break down. For
weeks he lay in an invalid bed. And
then he was crushed, as one morn
ing his wife told him that the four
children had mysteriously vanished.
"They saw the lean days coming!"
moaned William! "It's human na
ture, but I loved them so!"
The burden of life was harder than
ever to bear now. William got back
to health, but, like hard-earned sav
ings, his courage was gone. Nights
he and his wife would sit, sad and si
lent, gazing at the vacant chairs.
One night a neighbor, poorly sup
pressing an excitement that was un
duly intense because it masked a vast
secret, Invited them over to supper.
Two hours later, returning home, the
guests were startled to notice their
house all alight. The shades were
down. Then enteredwin a wonder
"Home!" and four rapturous