In Luck by
Mrs. Zadel B.
Lily De Koven was in luck. Luck, you know, is a word which stands for
that which comes to you without your having done anything to get it for
yourself; and as she had never done anything to bring about such
results, I call it the good luck of little Lily De Koven that she had
been born in a lovely home, to kind parents, and was growing up with all
the most pleasant things of life around her. She had a little maid to
braid her pretty yellow hair, lace her dainty boots, go up stairs and
down stairs, or stay in her little lady's chamber dressing and making
over the dresses of Lily's family of dolls.
One day, when Lily was not very well, and was lying in bed propped up by
the pillows, her maid came in with a new doll, larger and handsomer than
all the others.
Lily received the new doll calmly, for if it did not suit her she knew
she could have another, so she had no cause for excitement. She looked
it over carefully, touched the spring which made its eyes roll, drew off
one of its tiny silk shoes and stockings, passed her hand over the lace
"I'll keep it," said Lily; "and now you bring me the whole family."
When all her dolls, little and big—all of them had been handsome in
their day, but some of them were a little the worse for wear—were laid
on the bed, she put the new one, with curling yellow hair almost exactly
like her own, on the pillow beside her, and took up the others one by
"You can throw this one away," she said at last, holding out one which
had a broken arm, and was leaking sawdust at the elbow; "I don't want
but twelve children, anyway."
When her maid went out, Lily looked at her new doll, touched its hair
and rich costume, but there was not any wonder in it for her; there had
never been a time when she had not had as pretty dolls as money could
buy; so Lily sighed and fell asleep almost immediately. Now Lily's maid
left the disgraced doll on a chair in the kitchen, and there Mary the
cook found it. It had on a pretty muslin dress and sash, and nice
embroidered underwear, just like any fashionable young lady. It was
Christmas week, and Mary had bought a doll to give to her little niece
on Christmas-day, and seeing at once what a treasure this costume would
be, she took it off, did it up as fresh as new, and made the doll she
had bought look quite like a princess in it. So the old broken-armed
doll had not a rag left of its former glory. But luck sometimes comes
even to dolls.
Three days later, early in the cold morning, a little girl stood
ankle-deep in the new-fallen snow in front of the grand house where Lily
De Koven with her twelve waxen children lived.
This little girl was Biddy O'Dolan, and Biddy O'Dolan was in luck on
this cold morning.
She had on nothing that you would call clothes; she had on duds. She
had no parents and no home. She had some straw in a cellar, where other
children who wore duds slept at night on other bunches of straw. She was
a rag-picker and an ash girl, and sometimes was very hungry, and
sometimes was beaten by other poor hungry wretches, who, because they
were miserable, wanted to hurt somebody—not knowing any better—and so
beat Biddy O'Dolan because there was no one to interfere. In spite of
all these things, Biddy was sometimes merry, which I think is wonderful.
"BIDDY HELD IT OUT IN A KIND OF STUPEFIED DELIGHT."
On this cold morning, in front of the wide stone steps of Lily De
Koven's home, Biddy had found an ash can, and, poking over the ashes,
had found and pulled out the very broken-armed doll which Lily had
ordered to be thrown away, which Mary the cook had stripped of its fine
robes, and which had last of all been swept up and put in the ash
barrel, and so had come to the lowest possible condition of a once rich
doll. Biddy held it out, and looked straight before her for a moment,
at nothing in particular, in a kind of stupefied delight; for a doll,
even such a doll as this, had never been in her little cramped, purple
hands before. Then suddenly she tucked it in her breast, drew her dingy
sacque around it tight, caught up her rag bag, and with a scared glance
at the windows of Lily's fine home, she ran down the street.
Her heart beat so that it was like a little hammer striking quick blows
against the breast of the doll. Biddy had never had anything to love,
and from the moment she had got this doll hidden in her bosom she loved
it, and I think she was in good luck to have found something which could
bring her this dear feeling. And as for the doll, in its proudest days
it had never been loved, and now, when forlorn and cast out, it had
found a warm heart, and had come, if it could only have known it, into
the best luck of its whole life.
I should like to tell you the whole story of Biddy O'Dolan—of what she
did for the doll, and what the doll did for her; but to-day I want to
call your attention to something else, and if you will heed my wish, I
will heed yours, and soon tell you the rest of Biddy's story.
The good things that come to us have a way—which you will notice if you
are observant—of seeming to connect themselves together in a circle of
sweet thoughts and hopes, just as our friends might join hands and make
a ring around us.
It was so with Biddy that day. As she ran on with her doll she was
constantly thinking of something which she had hardly thought of since
it had happened two years before. It was this: Biddy had been run over
by a horse and cart, and carried, much hurt, to one of the New York
hospitals for children. There she had been tenderly cared for, which was
a great mystery to Biddy, and on Christmas morning she had waked up to
find beautiful fresh Christmas greens on the wall at the foot of her
little cot and around the window, and a lady standing in this window,
while a little girl held out to Biddy a bunch of flowers that smelled as
sweet as a whole summer garden.
Biddy had not understood the meaning of these things; she had only
wearily noticed that the little girl was pretty, and not at all like
her, and that the flowers and greens were "jolly." That day, when she
fled with her doll, she thought of the hospital; and though she did not
understand any better than before why there should be such great
difference in the lives of little children, she for the first time felt
that the lady and her little girl had been kind, had been sorry for her.
So you see that even after so long a time as a whole year, a little
seed of kindness may sprout in the heart; and don't you think, dear
children of New York, you who have every day the good luck of health,
happy homes, and pleasant things, that it would be delightful to bring
just one taste of such luck to the little ones in the New York
hospitals? Would you not like to blessedly surprise them on next
Christmas morning? You know the best hospital in the world can not be
like home with father and mother in it. But if you want to make the
hospitals seem almost like home to the little children for a whole happy
day, you can not begin too soon to look over all your little treasures,
and choose all you can part with. You all have cast-off toys,
story-books that have been read through, and boxes full of odds and
ends, and it takes very little to brighten the face of a poor sick child
lying alone in a hospital cot. A single pretty picture-card will do it.
Then, too, you can save your pennies and dimes, so that before Christmas
comes you can go into the stores and buy some of the books and
playthings that children like best; and all of you who can must tie on
your warm hoods and scamper away into the woods after the lovely
prince's-pine and scarlet berries. All the pretty things you can gather
to make bright the place where these other children stay will make your
own Christmas one of the merriest you ever knew, for when you are
pulling out the "goodies" from your plump bunchy stockings at home, you
will like to think of so many other little eyes and hands and hearts
brimful of the Christmas happiness which you have made.