The next morning he asked Maude to draw him to the churchyard where "his other mother," as he called her, was buried. Maude complied, and when they were there, placed him at his request upon the ground, where stretching himself out at his full length, he said: "Look, Maude, won't mine be a little grave?" then, ere she could answer the strange question, he continued, "I want to die so bad; and if you leave me lying here in the long grass maybe God's angel will take me up to heaven. Will I be lame, there, think you?"
"Oh, Louis, Louis, what do you mean?" cried Maude, and as well as he could, for the tears he shed, Louis told her what he meant.
"Father don't love me because I'm lame, and he called me a cripple, too. What is a cripple, Maude? Is it anything very bad?" and his beautiful brown eyes turned anxiously toward his sister.
He had never heard that word before, and to him it had a fearful significance, even worse than lameness. In an instant Maude knelt by his side--his head was pillowed on her bosom, and in the silent graveyard, with the quiet dead around. them, she spoke blessed words of comfort to her brother, telling him what a cripple was, and that because he bore that name he was dearer far to her.
"Your father will love you, too," she said, "when he learns how good you are. He loves Nellie, and--"
Ere she could say more she was interrupted by Louis, on whose mind another truth had dawned, and who now said, "But he don't love you as he does Nellie. Why not? Are you a cripple, too?"
Folding him still closer in her arms, and kissing his fair, white brow, Maude answered: "Your father, Louis, is not mine--for mine is dead, and his grave is far away. I came here to live when I was a little girl, not quite as old as you, and Nellie is not my sister, though you are my darling brother."
"And do you love father?" asked Louis, his eyes still fixed upon her face as if he would read the truth.