A BIT OF EARTH 147
better get stronger before you had a governess."
" It makes me feel strong when I play and the wind comes over the moor," argued Mary.
" Where do you play? " he asked next.
" Everywhere," gasped Mary. " Martha's mother sent me a skipping-rope. I skip and run — and I look about to see if things are beginning to stick up out of the earth. I don't do any harm."
11 Don't look so frightened," he said in a worried voice. " You could not do any harm, a child like you ! You may do what you like."
Mary put her hand up to her throat because she was afraid he might see the excited lump which she felt jump into it. She came a step nearer to him.
" May I? " she said tremulously.
Her anxious little face seemed to worry him more than ever.
" Don't look so frightened," he exclaimed. " Of course you may. I am your guardian, though I am a poor one for any child. I cannot give you time or attention. I am too ill, and wretched and distracted; but I wish you to be happy and comfortable. I don't know anything about children, but Mrs. Medlock is to see that you have all you need. I sent for you to-day because Mrs. Sow-