He s not to blame if his father deserted him. For shame, Dan Peterson—an you with a child of your own!"
Big Dan shot an amazed glance at his wife, who looked rather like an angry robin. Then he stared at his boots.
"I was bamboozled into takin' him," he muttered.
"An' it's been ranklin' ever since: an' you take it out on Hugh. It isn't fair. Give him a chance now: it'11 pay you, an' you know it. An', Dan—if you put him on, treat him decent, or you'11 get nothing out of him. The boy's scared if you go within twenty yards of him."
Why, I ve never laid a finger on him!" Peterson defended himself.
"You don't need to, to scare a child. The way you look at him's enough. Oh, I've watched you! An' I used to be proud of you! said little Mrs. Dan, her voice quivering.
"Aw, Polly!" The big fellow looked shamefaced.
"Well, it's true. An' he's a kind little chap. Look at the way he minds that baby of Mrs. Crowe's. Young Eddie makes his life a burden because he does, but that doesn't stop Hugh. Why don't you see these things?"
Seems to me, said her husband, "that I've enough to do to run my Circus, without watchin' the kindergarten. All right, Polly, old girl: anything for a quiet life. I'll give your precious kid a chance."
Polly favored him with a smile.
"An' you'11 be gentle with him, Dan?"
"Me? Gentle? In the ring!"
Polly laughed. She sat on his knee and arranged his tie.