Jane Gladys thought it was Nora, so she didn't look up until she had taken a couple more stitches on a forget-me-not. Then she raised her eyes and was astonished to find a strange man in the middle of the room, who regarded her earnestly.
He was short and fat, and seemed to be breathing heavily from his climb up the stairs. He held a work silk hat in one hand and underneath his other elbow was tucked a good-sized book. He was dressed in a black suit that looked old and rather shabby, and his head was bald upon the top.
"Excuse me," he said, while the child gazed at him in solemn surprise. "Are you Jane Gladys Brown?"
"Yes, sir," she answered.
"Very good; very good, indeed!" he remarked, with a queer sort of smile. "I've had quite a hunt to find you, but I've succeeded at last."
"How did you get in?" inquired Jane Gladys, with a growing distrust of her visitor.
"That is a secret," he said, mysteriously.
This was enough to put the girl on her guard. She looked at the man and the man looked at her, and both looks were grave and somewhat anxious.
"What do you want?" she asked, straightening herself up with a dignified air.
"Ah!--now we are coming to business," said the man, briskly. "I'm going to be quite frank with you. To begin with, your father has abused me in a most ungentlemanly manner."
Jane Gladys got off the window sill and pointed her small finger at the door.
"Leave this room 'meejitly!" she cried, her voice trembling with indignation. "My papa is the best man in the world. He never 'bused anybody!"
"Allow me to explain, please," said the visitor, without paying any attention to her request to go away. "Your father may be very kind to you, for you are his little girl, you know. But when he's down-town in his office he's inclined to be rather severe, especially on book agents. Now, I called on him the other day and asked him to buy the 'Complete Works of Peter Smith,' and what do you suppose he did?"
She said nothing.
"Why," continued the man, with growing excitement, "he ordered me from his office, and had me put out of the building by the janitor! What do you think of such treatment as that from the 'best papa in the world,' eh?"
"I think he was quite right," said Jane Gladys.
"Oh, you do? Well," said the man, "I resolved to be revenged for the insult. So, as your father is big and strong and a dangerous man, I have decided to be revenged upon his little girl."
Jane Gladys shivered.
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
"I'm going to present you with this book," he answered, taking it from under his arm. Then he sat down on the edge of a chair, placed his hat on the rug and drew a fountain pen from his vest pocket.
"I'll write your name in it," said he. "How do you spell Gladys?"
"G-l-a-d-y-s," she replied.
"Thank you. Now this," he continued, rising and handing her the book with a bow, "is my revenge for your father's treatment of me. Perhaps he'll be sorry he didn't buy the 'Complete Works of Peter Smith.' Good-by, my dear."
He walked to the door, gave her another bow, and left the room, and Jane Gladys could see that he was laughing to himself as if very much amused.
When the door had closed behind the queer little man the child sat down in the window again and glanced at the book. It had a red and yellow cover and the word "Thingamajigs" was across the front in big letters.
Then she opened it, curiously, and saw her name written in black letters upon the first white leaf.
"He was a funny little man," she said to herself, thoughtfully.
She turned the next leaf, and saw a big picture of a clown, dressed in green and red and yellow, and having a very white face with three-cornered spots of red on each cheek and over the eyes. While she looked at this the book trembled in her hands, the leaf crackled and creaked and suddenly the clown jumped out of it and stood upon the floor beside her, becoming instantly as big as any ordinary clown.
After stretching his arms and legs and yawning in a rather impolite manner, he gave a silly chuckle and said:
"This is better! You don't know how cramped one gets, standing so long upon a page of flat paper."
Perhaps you can imagine how startled Jane Gladys was, and how she stared at the clown who had just leaped out of the book.