"Mmph! I'se awake, I am!" protested Angelica.
"Oh, aren't we acting like an angel today! Hmmph! It's no wonder you've been here seven years! With your behavior, no one will ever want you!"
Angelica pushed off the covers and made faces at Mrs. Jakobsen behind her back as she stood shivering, clad only in her long undershirt and boys' shorts that she always wore. She reached for her stockings and tied the brown wool stockings above her knees with pieces of bright red yarn- she'd lost her garters, and no one had donated any lately. Angelica pulled on two plain white petticoats and then her blue denim dress.
"'Ey Specs, button me up?" she called.
Specs, who was assumed to be about thirteen- he never told anyone anything about his past- came over with a resigned sigh. "Ya still can't button dis dress up da back?" he asked.
"Nope," she said sadly. "Hey Specs, what day 's it?"
"Friday," he said with a pause. Angelica grinned and turned to look at him. He smiled back and said, "So ya just remembered, huh?"
"'E's comin' back taday, ain't 'e? Blink's comin' home taday?"
"Yes ma'am," he answered. "Dere." Giving her a quick pat on the head, he told Angelica to finish getting dressed.
She sat down on her bed and pulled out the tiny comb Blink had given her a few Christmases ago. Angelica combed out her long, dark brown curls and quickly braided them, tying them together with another piece of yarn. She buttoned the cuffs of her sleeves, fastened her belt around her waist to keep her too-big dress from falling off, straightened the pleated skirt, pulled on the boy's cap she always wore, and laced up her boots. Angelica ran into the washroom and quickly washed her face, being careful not to get her dress wet. Then she found Specs again and they headed downstairs for breakfast.
"Well, g'bye fer now, Angel. I'll be back by seven," said Specs, pulling on his coat.
"How'm I supposed ta know when seven is?" she asked.
With a sigh, he pulled his pocket-watch out of his pocket. "Just for today, you can borrow it. All right?"
She grinned and hugged him around the neck, looking younger than her age. "Bye! Please hurry home!"
"Don't I always?"
"Yeah, but it always seems like it takes ya all day," she said with a sigh. "And don't tell Blink about me dancing! Ya promised ya wouldn't! I wanna tell 'im meself."
Specs laughed, gave her a brotherly kiss on the cheek, and left. She leaned against the window and watched him leave.
"That's enough pouting, Miss Angelica. Get to your work."
"I'se going, I'se going," I muttered.
For the entire afternoon, she worked at cleaning the entire orphanage. The only thing she was glad about was that it made the day fly by. At six-thirty, the children were let outside to play for half an hour, and Angel spent most of the time sitting on the steps, checking Specs' pocket-watch, and waiting for Blink. Angel had never really liked playing dolls with the girls, and she didn't feel like getting into the snowball fight that the younger boys had started.
Finally, as she was starting to lose hope, Angelica saw two figures in the dimming light. With a squeal, she leapt up and ran down the steps to Blink. He picked her up and spun her around, as he always did.
"I'se so glad yer back!" cried Angelica.
He comically bowed. "Do I have da honah a addressin' da young lady who danced wit the president's son?" he asked, pretending to be a gentleman. Blink was glad to see the little girl, who was just like a little sister to him.
"Specs! Ya promised ya wouldn't tell!" Angelica cried, tackling him.
"Hey, hey, leave ol' Specs heah 'lone," said Blink, pulling Angel off his friend. "'E didn't mean ta. It was an accident. I asked how ya were an' it just kinda... slipped out."
Angelica glared at Specs, who fought not to laugh. "Well, 's long 's it was a accident, I guess I'll have ta forgive ya," Angelica said. She pulled his pocket-watch out of her pocket and handed it back. "Oh, Blink, it was wondahful! I did wondahfully, I really did, everyone said so-"
"All right, every one of you inside! You too, miss Angelica."
They all headed upstairs and got undressed for bed. The children all pretended to fall asleep, but the second the lamp downstairs went out, they all got up and started talking again.
"What's Noo Yawk like?" Angelica asked Blink. She curled up at the foot of his head and pulled the quilt over herself. Blink didn't mind a bit.
"Same as always. Big an' busy an' crowded."
"I can't wait till I'm old enough to go with you and look for work!" sighed Angelica, her fake "Noo Yawk" accent failing her, as it did when she was feeling great emotion. Angelica had had a very nice upbringing, until she found herself four years old and wandering the streets. Mrs. Jakobsen had taken the child in, and she turned out to be difficult. Memories came back to her, and Angelica insisted she was rich, and someday her family would come and take her back. Mrs. Jakobsen laughed at her, but used the girl as a prize, and showed her off to other wealthy families at social events. As a result, Angelica could speak a good deal of French, sing, dance, and had the nicest penmanship anyone had ever seen.
But even with those skills, there was a good chance Angelica would end up on the streets, along with the other children. When the children at the orphanage reached twelve, as Blink had two months before, Mrs. Jakobsen insisted that they go to New York and look for work. Blink went once every two weeks. He left early Wednesday morning, before most of the children were awake, and didn't return until Friday night. Those three days were the hardest three days of the week for Angelica, and she would have never gotten through them if it weren't for Specs, who only looked for a job on Fridays. (Author's Note- Yeah, okay, there was an error there, & I'm not in a creative mood, so I can't think of a logical explanation!)
"Where didja stay dis time?" asked Angelica.
"At da newsboys' lodgin' 'owse, same as always."
"Who was dere? Da same people? Any new boys?" she asked. Blink's tales of New York were always very interesting.
"Jack an' Racetrack an' Dutchy were dere, an' Snitch, an' dis new guy- 'is name's Itey, er sumpin' like dat- an' Mush," he replied. "So what was dancin' wit da president's son like?" Blink leaned back and contently watched the little girl. He loved being with her. She was very sweet, and a good friend.
"It was wondahful, like I said b'fore. All dese people was whisperin' 'bout me, an' I hoped dat onna dem would toin out ta be me mudda. I look fer 'er every single time we go ta onna dese fancy-schmancy balls, er tea pahties, er whatevah. I remembah 'xactly what she looks like."
"You'll find 'er someday, Angel," he whispered.
"I know I will. Onna dese days, I'se gonna find 'er. An' maybe she's in Noo Yawk. Dat's why I can't wait till I'se twelve!"
Blink nodded. "It's late. Even Specs 's asleep, an' 'e stays up latah dan a owl most a da time. Why doncha get ta sleep, er else yer gonna be awful tiahed in da mornin'."
"I ain't tiahed!" protested Angel, hiding a yawn.
"Don't lie ta me, young lady. Get ta bed, er else," warned Blink.
Angel stared at him. Blink stared right back, and finally Angel gave in.
"Fine. G'night," she said, kissing him quickly before scampering over to her own bed.
"Well, Angelica, I don't know what we're to do about your dancing lessons. You and Henry were coming along so nicely! You were sure to win the prize at the dancing competition!" moaned Mrs. Jakobsen.
Angelica rolled her eyes. She'd already heard that speech six times in the last ten minutes. She wished it was three o'clock, and she could go and play with Specs and Blink.
"Whatta 'bout Blink?" blurted out Angelica.
Mrs. Jakobsen turned to her.
"'E'd be a good dancah, I bet," said Angelica.
So a few minutes later, Blink stumbled into the parlor, looking very uncomfortable and awkward. Angelica snickered, and when Blink glared at her, easily turned it into a cough. She quickly occupied herself by studying the laces on her boots.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Jakobsen gave Blink a hurried lesson in dancing. Blink tried his best to pay attention.
"Angelica, get out of that chair, child! Come over here!"
Angelica leapt to her feet and hurried over, her boots forgotten.
The piano player started the music. "And... one two three, one two three, one two three..." counted Mrs. Jakobsen. "You're doing wonderfully! Wonderful! Oh, tres bien! Wonderful!"
For the rest of the hour, Blink and Angelica practiced their dancing. They were both surprised at how well the other was doing. When the hour was over, they were glad to go and play, but that evening, Mrs. Jakobsen made them practice again... and again... and again...
Finally, the day of the big dancing competition dawned. Blink and Angelica were awakened an hour earlier than usual, and forced to take baths. One of Mrs. Jakobsen's maids brushed Angel's hair until it shone, and then she was dressed in all sorts of fancy clothes: a lacy undershirt trimmed with yards of ribbon, four lacy petticoats, and fancy black stockings. Then she was dressed in a fancy blue dress with a big white collar and a green sash. A green ribbon held her long, shining curls off her face, and black buttoned boots finished her off.
Meanwhile, Blink was dressed up in a fancy suit, the nicest he'd ever seen. Specs lent his pocketwatch for the occasion.
"Wish me luck," said Blink as Mrs. Jakobsen came upstairs to get him. He was ushered downstairs and into a carriage. Angel was already sitting in the carriage, and Blink hesitated before climbing in. She looked... beautiful! Angel looked older than her eleven years, and Blink found himself thinking about her in a very unbrotherly manner for the entire afternoon.
Blink and Angelica went on to win several dancing competitions, and each time, they got a little better at it. Angelica was constantly on Blink's mind, and Angelica thought about Blink more often, too. Blink still went to New York every Wednesday, but he stopped looking for jobs because he didn't want to leave the orphanage and leave Angel behind. While he was in New York, he sold papes and stayed at the Lodging House. He became very good friends with Mush and Racetrack. Specs also accompanied Blink, and stayed at the Lodging House. Specs occasionally sold a few papes, but it wasn't Specs' occupation of choice.
They went on this way for a nearly a year. The day before Angelica's twelfth birthday, she was sitting in the big workroom downstairs, mending one of the dresses someone had donated.
"Blink's so handsome, isn't he?"
"Oh, yes, and he's so charming!"
"He's got the nicest smile!"
"It's too bad that a little tomboy like Angelica has him all to herself," Mabel remarked rather loudly. Mabel was a popular, pretty young lady, just about Angelica's age, and she was very snobby. Mabel's friends snickered and began whispering things to each other about Angelica.
"Will all a yous quit yer gossipin' an' get ta woik?" muttered Angelica softly.
"You are sweet on him, aren't you, Angelica?" asked Mabel.
Angelica paused. She would never lie, but she knew if she admitted it, she would never live it down.
Before Angelica could answer, Blink came in. "Hello, ladies. Heya, Angel, didja miss me?" he asked, kissing her square on the lips. All the girls gasped and began talking.
Blink pulled back, a sly smile on his face, and said, "Save me a seat at dinnah, awright?"
Angelica couldn't have spoken if she wanted to. She nodded, and for a few moments, stared at the spot he had occupied a few moments before. Then Angelica noticed all the girls staring at her. Angelica simply sat up straighter and concentrated on her sewing.
"Blink, what da heck didja do dat fer?" asked Angelica that night. Everyone was already asleep, and Angelica was dying to know.
"Well, I was standin' outside da door, an' I hoid all da goyls gossipin', an' I knew dat ya wouldn't lie, so I decided ta help ya out," he said with a grin. "'Sides, what's wrong wit it? I've kissed ya a thousand times!" He began pacing beside his bed.
"No, no, no. Taday, dat... dat was diff'rent. All da udda times, it was like I was yer sistah. But taday, it was like I was..."
"Me goyl," Blink said softly.
Angel's head snapped up. Blink had that sly smile on his face again.
"'Re ya askin' me ta be yer goyl?" asked Angelica coyly. (Author's note- So I've seen the commercial for "54" a few too many times. "Are ya askin' me ta be yer goylfriend?" "She couldn't tell one of you from the next! Don't ferget how replacable you are!" Okay, enough of that...)
"Wouldja?" asked Blink.
Angelica flew from his bed to where he was standing and hugged him tightly. He kissed her and she kissed back.
Angel woke up happily. It was her birthday, she was Blink's girl, Mabel and the other girls would be insanely jealous... Whatta poifect day, she thought as she sat up and began getting dressed.
But the "poifect day" wouldn't last for long. While Angelica was sitting in the workroom sewing (as usual) Mrs. Jakobsen came in and brought the much-confused birthday girl to the parlor.
A tall, slender woman with coffee brown curls piled atop her head sat in the sofa, looking rather anxious. Angelica recognized her immediately, and the memories came flooding back.
"Angelica!" the woman cried, enveloping her daughter in a hug.
"Mother?" whispered Angelica.
"Oh, darling... what is this you're wearing?"
Angelica shamefully looked down at her blue denim dress. "Well, I-"
"Never mind, darling, we've got to get you out of here. Go fetch your things."
"I had one of the maids get them," interrupted Mrs. Jakobsen, handing Angelica the comb, her hat, and a few other things.
"Well, then, let's be on our way," suggested Angelica's mother.
"Come now! You shall see your sisters, and..." Angelica didn't hear another word, because she could only think of Blink. She blindly put on her coat and hat and headed out the door. As she was climbing into the carriage, Blink came up from behind the orphanage with Specs.
"Angel? Angel, where're ya goin'?" Blink ran up to the carriage.
"I don't know!"
"Angelica, sit down properly!" her mother said. The driver started the carriage.
"Well, are ya evah comin' back?"
"I don't know!" called Angelica, feeling as if she could burst into tears at any moment. She knew she would never, ever forget the look on Blink's face as she drove off. Pure betrayal.
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