How we Act, Not How we Look

by Grace Greenwood

"O Tommy, what a funny little woman! come and see!" cried Harry Wilde, as he stood at the window of his father's house, in a pleasant English town. Tommy ran to the window and looked out, and laughed louder than his brother. It was indeed a funny sight to see. In the midst of a pelting rain, through mud and running water, there waddled along the queerest, quaintest little roly-poly figure you can imagine. It was a dwarf woman, who, though no taller than a child of seven or eight years, wore an enormous bonnet, and carried an overgrown umbrella. Her clothes were tucked up about her in a queer way, and altogether she was a very laugh-at-able little creature. As she passed, she looked up, and such an odd face as she had! The nose was large and long, as though it had kept on growing after the other features gave out. Indeed, it was so big that the eyes had got into a way of looking at it constantly, which did not improve their beauty. The hair was bushy, and of a lively red, but the mouth was quite sweet and good-humored, and the little crossed eyes had a merry, kindly twinkle in them.

"Well," said Harry, "if I were such an absurd looking body as that, I wouldn't show myself. I 'd hide by day, and only come out by night, like an owl, would n't you, Tommy?"

"Yes," said the little boy, and then asked, "Did God make her, Harry?"

"Why yes, He made what there is of her, and then I suppose He concluded it wasn't worth while to go on with her!"

"Harry! Harry!" cried the mother of the little boys, "you must not talk so; it is wicked. That poor little dwarf may be of much use in the world, and do a great deal of good, if she has a kind heart; and she looks as though she had."

"I should like to know of what use such a poor wee thing can be," said Harry, shrugging his shoulders.

"God knows," said Mrs. Wilde, "and He did not make her in vain."

The next day was Christmas. The rain was over, and it was clear and cold.

"Hurrah!" cried Harry from the window, "here's our wee bit woman again. Her hair is as fiery as ever. I wonder the rain didn't put it out. She might warm her hands in it, if it weren't for carrying that big basket."

Mrs. Wilde looked out. The dwarf was trudging slowly along, bearing a heavy basket. The good lady was seized with a strong desire to know more about the strange little creature; so she hurried to her room, put on a bonnet and cloak, went out and followed after her, quietly. She had to go a long way before her curiosity was satisfied; but at last she saw the dwarf enter a miserable house, in the suburbs of the town. Mrs. Wilde stole up to a window, and ventured to look in. She saw the dwarf surrounded by a crowd of shouting children, to whom she was giving Christmas-cake, toys, and clothes from her basket. She saw her give food and medicine to a poor woman, who lay on a bed in a corner. She heard her say, "Have the coals come?" and the woman answer, "Yes, and the blankets; God bless you!" She saw her take up the baby, feed it, and play with it,—so big a baby, that Mrs. Wilde thought it ought to take turns in tending, with the good little dwarf. Then the lady turned away in tears, and went home. When she had told Harry what she had seen, he blushed deeply, and Tommy said: "God knew better than brother what the funny little woman was good for, did n't He?"