The garments were not of as fine material, nor elegant a cut as those he had pleased himself by purchasing for Mikky's outfit, but they were warm and strong and wonderful to their eyes, and one by one the grimy urchins went into a little dressing room, presently emerging with awe upon their faces to stand before a tall mirror surveying themselves.
Mikky's room became a museum of curious and wonderful things, and himself an authority on a wide and varied range of topics. The new life with plenty of wholesome plain food, plenty of fresh air, long nights of good sleep, and happy exercise were developing the young body into strength and beauty, even as the study and contact, with life were developing the mind.
Her words were few and her tongue as yet quite unacquainted with the language of this world; but perhaps that was all the better, for their conversations were more of the spirit than of the tongue, Mikky's language, of circumstance, being quite unlike that of Madison Avenue.
Around the corners scowling faces haunted the shadows, and murmured imprecations were scarcely withheld in spite of the mounted officers. A shot was fired down the street, and several policemen hurried away. But through it all the boys stood their ground. "Mikky's in dare. He's hurted. I seen him fall. Maybe he's deaded. We kids want to take him away.
He's a friend, I suppose, of the boy that was shot?" The officer nodded. "Well, boy, what's all this fuss about?" He looked kindly, keenly into the defiant black eyes of Buck. "Mikky's hurted mebbe deaded. I wants to take him away from dare," he burst forth sullenly. "We kids can't go off'n' leave Mikky in dare wid de rich guys. Mikky didn't do no harm. He's jes tryin' to save de kid." "Mikky.
Take money in exchange for Mikky's bright presence? Never! It took a great deal of explanation to convince Buck that anything could be better "fer de kids" than Mikky, their own Mikky, now and forever. He was quick, however, to see where the good lay for Mikky, and after a few plain statements from Mr. Endicott there was no further demur on the part of the boy.
The students saw it not, but acknowledged it in their lives. Mikky's flame of gold hair had grown more golden and flaming with the years, so that when their ball team went to a near-by town to play, Mikky was sighted by the crowd and pointed out conspicuously at once. "Who is that boy with the hair?" some one would ask one of the team. "That? Oh, that's the Angel!
The man watched him wistfully, wondering whether Mikky's appeal could reach the hardened little sinner; and, sighing at the wickedness of the world, went on his way grimly trying to make a few things better. That night "the kids" were gathered in front of little Janie's window, for she was too weak to go out with them, and Buck delivered a lesson in ethical culture.
He was the tallest of them all, with fierce little freckled face and flashing black eyes in which all the evil passions of four generations back looked out upon a world that had always been harsh. He was commonly known as fighting Buck. "Mikky's in dare. He's hurted. We kids can't leave Mick alone. He might be dead."
Buck was invited to an interview, but when the silver half dollar was laid in his grimy palm, and he was made to understand that others were to follow, and that he was to step up into Mikky's place in the community of the children while that luminary went to "college" to be educated, his face wore a heavy frown. He held out the silver sphere as if it burned him. What!