"That man said this wasn't your office!" Elizabeth Ann said indignantly, drying her eyes.
"Well, I'll have to tell you about that," answered Mr. Robert, smiling. "You mustn't blame Hill, who is my chief clerk. You see, dear, Robert is my middle name; I am Stanley Robert Morgan, and a great many people know me only as a cross old man, who is president of the Transcontinental Railroad."
"You're not a cross old man!" protested Elizabeth Ann.
"I hope not, to you," said Mr. Robert. "I like to travel on my trains, dear, without the other passengers being told I am an officer of the road. So the train crews have strict orders not to gossip about me. I wanted you
to know me by a name that was really mine, and yet, if you should happen to mention it to anyone else on the train, a name which would have no meaning. So I chose 'Mr. Robert. ' And I knew that if you wrote to me, the letter would reach this address and. be opened by me; I personally open every letter."
"Then you're not really Mr. Robert ?" she asked, a little puzzled still.
"Do you think you could call me Uncle Robert?" suggested the railroad president. "I should like so much to hear a little girl call me that; couldn't you try?"
Elizabeth Ann was sure she would like that. She had an Uncle Ralph, she said, but no Uncle Robert.
"And do you like New York?"' asked her new uncle, when they had settled the question of names.
Then Elizabeth Ann confided that she did not like it at all. She had no kitty-cat or dog to play with-animals were not allowed in the apartment. ' ' And Aunt Isabel doesn 't like me to bring the girls home from school, and I can't go to their houses, so there is nobody to play with," she explained. She had so much to tell Uncle Robert, about school and the letters from Japan and about Albert and Charles and Jerry and the battleships on the river, that she had almost forgotten Rosa, when he made her remember.
"Have you the elephant still?" he asked her.
Elizabeth Ann wriggled from his lap and stood on the floor.
"Rosa didn't take it, so that means she didn't take Uncle Ralph's," she said solemnly. "I love Rosa and she loves me, and I know she wouldn't steal."
No wonder Mr. Robert, or Mr. Morgan as we must call him, looked astonished.
"My dear child, what are you talking about?" he cried.
Then Elizabeth Ann told him the whole story. She told him about Rosa-how good she was, and how she worked to make everyone happy and was never too busy or tired to amuse her. She told him about Uncle Ralph's elephant with the blue eyes, and. about the diamond and sapphire ring. She told him about Rosa's brothers and sisters and her visit to the yellow brick house.
"Aunt Isabel says the reason she didn't take all the rings and all the carvings is because she just wanted enough money for Ruth and the boys," said Elizabeth Ann when she had told him all this. "But I don't think so. I don't think she took anything. Rosa wouldn't steal, would she?"
Mr. Morgan put his arm around, the excited little girl.
"You're a loyal friend, my dear," he said. "I don't know Rosa, of course, but I am inclined to think you are right; she would have stolen all, or at least more than those two articles. We must try to help her. I should like to know Rosa."
"I wish you had come to see us before she went away," sighed Elizabeth Ann. "I guess the reason I was lonesome at Aunt Isabel's house was 'cause I never saw you." Mr. Morgan had more to tell her, after he had heard all she had to tell him. He had made another trip on Mr. Hobart's train, he said, and the big conductor had asked many questions about her.
"I had to tell him that I had not seen you," smiled Mr. Morgan, "and he and Caroline and Fred each asked me why I did not have your address. Wasn't it odd that I never thought to ask you where you were going 1? All I knew was that Elizabeth Ann Loring was going to visit her Aunt Isabel in New York, and that isn't very definite directions in a city like this."
Elizabeth Ann giggled.
"I couldn't find my way home myself this afternoon," she confessed.
"You couldn't? Well, what have I been thinking of?" cried Mr. Morgan, hastily pulling out his watch. "Child, it's six o'clock, and I never thought to ask you who came with you. You don't mean to tell me you came downtown alone?"
'I meant to go see Rosa," she explained. 'And the street went into a park, not like Rosa's street at all. And a lady asked me was I lost, but of course I wasn't. Only I didn't know where Aunt Isabel lived. So I pulled the things out of my purse and found the paper you gave me, and she told me how to get here, and I did."
"I see," said Mr. Morgan. "But won't Aunt Isabel be wondering where you are all this time?"
Elizabeth Ann blushed suddenly. She did not look at Mr. Morgan, but tried to play with the flower on her hat which lay on his desk.
"Does Aunt Isabel know you started out to see Rosa?" asked Mr. Morgan quietly.
She shook her head without speaking.
"Oh, my dear, how could you?" her new uncle said sadly. "You don't know how she will worry! We must get her word at once."
"She wasn't home when I went to see Rosa, ' ' Elizabeth Ann said. ' ' She went to the matinee with Mrs. Ellis and Mrs. Harrison. Only Annie and Esther were there. They don't care if I go out, long as I come in at five."
"But dearest, it is long after five," protested Mr. Morgan. "Aunt Isabel must be home and worrying about you now. She has a telephone, hasn't she?"
Yes, Elizabeth Ann knew the telephone very well indeed. It stood in the front hall on a small table and its little sister was in Aunt Isabel's room, hidden, if you did not know where to look, under a doll with a pink silk dress on.
"Hill!" shouted Mr. Morgan. "Are you there? Bring me a telephone book."
The chief clerk, who could not go home while his superior was in the office, hurried in with a telephone book. He looked curiously at Elizabeth Ann, wondering, no doubt, why such a little girl should come to see the railroad president and why she should stay so late.
Mr. Morgan took the book and the clerk closed the door again.
"Now, let's see," said Mr. Morgan, running his finger down the page of names and addresses and numbers. "This may take some time-has your Uncle Ralph any other name?"
"But he isn't home," Elizabeth Ann said anxiously. ' ' He 's out West. ' '
"The telephone will be in his name, dear," explained Mr. Morgan. "What is his last name?"
"Wood," she responded, glad that she knew the answer to that question. "He is Ralph Francis Wood-Aunt Isabel puts it on her letters to him."
"All right, then here we are," announced Mr. Morgan, drawing his desk telephone toward him. "Remember the telephone book, if you are ever lost again, my child. But take my advice and don't get lost a second time."'
He took down the receiver and gave a number. Elizabeth Ann could hear "Central" repeat it after him. Then there was a click and a long silence.
"They're ringing them all right, but why doesn't someone answer?" said Mr. Morgan, after he had waited several minutes.
The little girl kept perfectly still for what seemed a long time, and then she heard "Central" say something to Mr. Morgan. He hung up the receiver and turned to her.
"No one answers!" he said, surprised. "You are sure that was the right name, my dear?"
Elizabeth Ann was sure.
"I am, too," agreed Mr. Morgan. "It is the only Wood who lives on the Drive, anyway. Someone ought to be home at this time of evening-it is a quarter of seven. Well, it looks as though you and I would have to go up and see for ourselves."
Elizabeth Ann seized her hat eagerly and snapped the elastic under her chin.
"Will you ride on top of the bus?" she asked, slipping her hand into Mr. Morgan's as a sign that she was ready to start.
"We are not going to take a bus," he replied rather grimly. "We are going the quickest way we can get there, and that's by subway. For all I know, all uptown New York is out looking for you."
Mr. Morgan closed and locked his desk and they went out, passing Mr. Hill in the outer office. They were the only people in the big elevator, and the building "sounded empty," as Elizabeth Ann said.
"Everyone has gone home to supper," Mr. Morgan told her. ' ' You must be hungry, dear; what time do you usually have your supper?" When she said half-past five and admitted that she was hungry, he said he thought they could take time to stop in somewhere and get a glass of milk.
On to chapters 18-20 (conclusion)
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