MR. ROBERT HAS ANOTHER NAME
"I don't remember this park," Elizabeth Ann said aloud.
"Are you lost, little girl?" asked a very stout woman who sat on one of the park benches. She had overheard what Elizabeth Ann had said.
"No'm, of course not," she answered promptly.
But the stout woman was evidently not so sure. She moved a market basket, from which the yellow legs of a chicken stuck out, so that there was room for Elizabeth Ann to sit down beside her.
"You're pretty little to be out alone," said the stout woman who had a red, good-natured face. "Did your mother send you on an errand?"
The little girl explained that her mother was in Japan and that she had come to visit a friend. Like many little girls she had a horror of being laughed at, and she was determined that the stout woman should not know she had missed the right street.
"I'll bet you don't know the way home," said the woman persistently. "Maybe you don't even know where you live. It's mighty easy to get lost in New York."
Elizabeth Ann looked at her, frightened for a moment. She really didn't know the name of the street on which Aunt Isabel's apartment house was, and she wasn't sure that she could tell the conductor at which cross street she wanted to be set down. Then, for she had a level little head and had been learning to take care of herself all these weeks, she had a truly helpful thought. Perhaps she had one of her mother's letters in her little red leather purse. That would have the address on, of course!
While the stout woman watched her curiously, she tumbled everything out of her purse into her lap. There were a little heap of pennies and nickels, a few pieces of string and ribbon one or two snap-shots Daddy had taken of Mother on the steamer and sent to her. But there was no letter. The stamps she had put in for Peter were in a perfectly plain envelope. There was writing on one of the crumpled slips of paper though, that she found way down at the bottom of the bag. It was the address of Mr. Robert that he had written and given to her on the train!
"This is where I want to go," she said, holding out the slip of paper to the woman.
As soon as Elizabeth Ann had seen the paper with the clear, precise writing on it, she knew she wanted to see Mr. Robert more than any- one else in the world, next to Daddy and Mother. She remembered the little white-haired man who had been so good to her and who had said he was lonely. She wanted to tell him about Rosa. He wouldn't say she had taken the ring and the elephant. She must go to see Mr. Robert.
"That's pretty far downtown," said 'the stout woman suspiciously. "Do you know how to get there ? You take a bus, or the sub- way; the subway's nearer-you can get it three blocks over. And you'd better get off at Fulton street and then anyone can tell you where to go."
Elizabeth Ann put the things back in her purse, but kept the slip of paper tightly in her fingers.
"I don't approve of young ones gallivanting around alone like this," said. the stout woman, lifting her basket back on the seat. "I suppose you're too much for your mother."
Elizabeth Ann thanked her and. walked, off without replying. She was sure she wasn't gallivanting, whatever that was, and she wasn't too much for her mother--hadn't mother often said she wished she had. six daughters just like her one little girl? But, she sensibly decided, it was better to think about finding the subway than to fuss over what the stout woman had. said.
"One, two, three," she counted, as she walked the blocks away from the park.
Sure enough, there was the funny black hood that covered the steps that led down to the subway. Elizabeth Ann had ridden once on this queer railroad under ground with Rosa, so she knew how to buy her ticket. She asked. the ticket chopper if the next train was for Fulton street and he told her to go upstairs and down on the other side and she would be where the downtown trains came in.
So she climbed the long stairs and. crossed. the street and went down more stairs, arriving on the platform just in time to get a train that, the guard said, stopped at Fulton street. The ride was long and noisy and tiresome, and she was glad when it was time to get out. She followed the crowd up the stairs and. found herself on a narrow street that was crowded with people and automobiles and. horses and trucks.
"Please, where is this?" she asked, a police- man who stood near the curb.
He was a very nice policeman, for he read. the paper and not only took her across the street-while all the horses and automobiles had to stand perfectly still--but he showed her which building she would find Mr. Robert's office in.
"Dear me," said poor Elizabeth Ann, when she had thanked the policeman and walked down the street to the heavy glass door of the building he had shown her, "I don't feel much dressed-up."
She thought it was because she did not have on her best blue silk dress, that she felt so uncomfortable, but the real reason was be- cause the great stone building was so large and she so small. She couldn't push the revolving door, and some man had to make it go round for her, before she could get into the hall.
"My land, look at this peanut!" said the elevator boy to the man who started the elevators, when he saw her.
Elizabeth Ann did not think this was a polite remark, and it was not. But the elevator boy did not mean to be unkind, and when she showed him the slip of paper Mr. Robert had given her, he tried his best to help her. "It's pretty late, and I guess there won't be anybody in Mr. Morgan's offices but the clerks," he said. "Did you want to see a clerk ?"
"I want to see Mr. Robert, himself," she answered.
"Don't know him, but he must be a clerk," said the elevator boy. ' ' Step in, Miss, and I'll take you up."
The elevator climbed up, up, to the eleventh floor, and the elevator boy, when he brought it to a stop, showed her which door down the hall she should open.
The door was opening, as Elizabeth Ann reached it, and a young man came out.
"Oh, please," she begged, "is Mr. Robert in?"
"Never heard of him," said the young man. "Ask that man behind the railing."
This was discouraging, but she went in. The man behind the railing was reading a large book, and he did not look up till the little girl coughed to attract his attention.
"Is Mr. Robert in, please?" she asked hope- fully.
"Guess you have the wrong office," said. the man, not unkindly. "This is Mr. Morgan's office, the railroad president, you know."
Elizabeth Ann's lip began to tremble. She was tired, and if she could not find Mr. Robert then she must really be lost. Silently she held out the slip of paper and the man read it.
"That's the right address," he said, frowning. "Funny thing. I tell you-suppose you tell me what you want, and maybe I can help you."
"I just want to see Mr. Robert," Elizabeth Ann replied patiently. "He said I could."
"You're little to be out alone," said the man, just as the stout woman had spoken. "I can't bother Mr. Morgan about this-he's working late to-day and all the clerks are gone. He'd snap my head off if I told him a little girl was asking for Mr. Robert and had the wrong address. And yet it is the right address-well, I don't seem to know what I mean, do I? Where 'd you get that piece of paper, anyway?"
Elizabeth Ann started to explain, when a voice interrupted her. It came from one of the offices back of the railing and down a narrow corridor.
"Who is it, Hill?" asked the voice. "Anyone want to see me?"
Elizabeth Ann knew that voice. She started toward the gate that shut her out from the corridor and at the same time Mr. Hill rose as if to prevent her from coming in.
"Why bless us, if it isn't my Elizabeth Ann !" cried the voice suddenly, and a little white-haired man leaped lightly over the railing and had her tightly in his arms. It was Mr. Robert!
Mr. Hill stood staring at them with his mouth open. The telephone bell began to ring madly, and Elizabeth Ann, who had wanted to see Mr. Robert so much, who had a hundred things to tell him, put her little brown head down on his shoulder and cried as if her heart would break.
Mr. Robert strode through the gate and into his office and shut the door. Then he sat down in a chair before his desk, took off Elizabeth Ann's hat gently, and held her quietly until she sobbed less and less and presently struggled to sit up.
"There, dear, now you'll feel better," said Mr. Robert, handing her a beautiful, large, snowy-white handkerchief, and putting her hair back from her eyes. "Take your time, darling, and tell me everything that has happened to you since we have seen each other. You don't know how I have missed you, my dear!"
On to chapter 17
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