Not only had she failed to impress her language upon others, but she found herself gradually succumbing to her environment and actually lapsing into vulgar forms herself. There was a larger and more vital conflict than the one she had lost. It was the fight against dirt. In such small quarters, with so many children and such activity in work she fought against great odds.
It was always: 'Why don't they go home for their meals? or 'Why don't they track dirt into their own houses? or 'Why don't they fill their own curtains with tobacco smoke? You know how they talk. And he quit bringing his friends home. He stayed away more and more himself. I've not seen him now for years." "I'm not sure I ever heard of your father," said Everychild.
Ada, in her beautiful mink furs, which she clung to persistently, though the fall weather so far had been very mild, was presently seen coming across the grass. She walked straight to the spot where the bottle was buried, and, stooping down, brushed away the leaves and dirt. She lifted the bottle. "Pshaw, it's empty!" she said aloud.
"The motto does not say a girl can tell us we must do a work that is not ours, and we must mind her. I shall sweep your dirt back," was the warm reply. Cordelia Running Bird gave her broom a sudden push and sent the sweepings flying backward in a cloud. "Now look how mean you are! Again I have to sweep my floor!" cried Hannah Straight Tree, angrily. "Proud vain cross mean!"
Wilbur had said about it, I supposed that it was something very mysterious. "It will creep all round, inside the lid of his eye," she had said, "and find the dirt, and draw it along to the outer corner and push it out."
For a long time he sat there, opening them one by one the vague and indifferent letters which drift in while one is gone; and at last he stole silently across the dirt floor and brought out the three letters from his bed.
I lit true in the pocket, an' I lit pretty hard, as ye might know, but not hard enough to knock the wits out o' me, the grass an' weeds bein' fairly soft. An' clawin' out desperate with both hands, I caught, an' stayed put. Some dirt an' stones come down, kind o' smart, on my head, an' when they'd stopped I looked up.
"He is not likely to look very sharply, Dicky; but at the same time, it is just as well not to put too great a strain on his loyalty. We will keep a piece of bread over from our supper, work it up into a sort of paste, fill up any cuts we make, and rub it over with dirt till it well matches the bars.
But Clodius met him in every corner, having a band of abusive and daring fellows about him, who derided Cicero for his change of dress and his humiliation, and often, by throwing dirt and stones at him, interrupted his supplication to the people.
The rose-tree was fairly planted; that would keep on speaking to Molly without the fear of a rebuff; and somehow Daisy's heart was warm towards the gruff old creature. How forlorn she had looked, sitting in the dirt, with her grum face! "But perhaps she will wear a white robe in heaven!" thought Daisy.