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ments -“The duties of a wife and mother are word from her teachers-telling, in short, in sacred, Molly; but without her art Beulah, the most instinctively calculated manner all though she is a sweet girl, might likely enough the things that Mrs. Garner would understand be a humdrum person. I don't
think she has the as reflecting credit upon herself. feeling for duty that you have, for instance, and “ This girl did n't have a very nice complexthat you always had, Molly; but her art lifts ion, did she?- that 's why you've made it so her above herself. For a long time she seemed dark and reddish, is n't it?" said Mrs. Garner, to have less feeling about her talent than her hesitatingly, after various half-articulate murfriends did; but I talked to her - I did that murs of admiration. She could not repress a much. I would not urge her one way or the little automatic effort to find out why these other about her marriage, but I wanted her to things, which were so much less pretty than realize what a great trust a gift like that was, the pictures in an illustrated weekly, were so and to make her choice solemnly. It is n't much more wonderful, a fact she never dreamed even as if Tom M'Grath were going to live in of questioning. Virginia ; in Texas she will be out of the way “Oh, no," said Beulah;“she had a very nice of instruction, and of all those associations that complexion, but the light was not strong on it, would stimulate her and give her something to and then you see these things are done in such work for. And then we know, under the best a hurry we only try to get the figure, the action." of circumstances —” Miss Nancy shook her It did not annoy her in the least when peo. head and sighed. Despite expressed views as ple did not understand; she liked to explain a to its desirability, in her secret heart she really sittle, and she never doubted their admirationcould but look on matrimony as an abyss that their admiration of her for making the pictures. swallowed up many high hopes; in her day she She was quite astute enough to feel that the adhad put such a deal of enthusiasm into teach- miration of the things themselves was not aling girls who got married.
ways a spontaneous burst; it did not disturb “So she made up her mind ?” said Mrs. her that many of her friends suffered a little Garner, with a suspended inflection. disappointment with themselves over the dull
“ Yes; at last. Her pa and ma did n't urge ness of their sensations before real hand-painther one way or the other. I think Mrs. Hunt ings; she realized that the tradition of their herself would a little rather she had married - value remained unshaken. she 's very conservative, you know; but Mr. Mrs. Garner looked at the last drawing, and Hunt never wanted her to, anyhow, and they then leaned back and gazed with emotion upon both felt the responsibility of the great future Beulah-Beulah looking so pleasant and simple there was before her. I reckon she settled it behind the collection of her complete works. just before she came back.” And then it was “It 's very wonderful — wonderful,” Mrs. that Miss Nancy had admitted the harmonizing Garner murmured, shaking her head slowly, of woman's development and woman's sphere and thinking of more things than one. to be a great problem.
Beulah smiled sweetly. Presently Beulah entered; she was just home "And it makes you very happy, does it, dear?" from her work at the League rooms, and had Beulah detected a thread of curiosity in the a sketch-book under her arm. Mrs. Garner got question that she resented, but she still smiled up to greet her in a little flutter of excitement. as she rose with the works on her arm, and
“ Beulah, you ’ve become a great woman said: since I saw you."
• Yes, indeed, Miss Molly; I could not be Beulah stooped a little to kiss her, and said happy without my art." And Miss Nancy nodserenely, “ I 'm just beginning, Miss Molly.” ded her approval.
“I so long to see some of your wonderful Life went on serenely in our household for things. You 'll show me some, won't you ?" several months after this. Southern visitors
" You are very kind; I 'll be delighted to," continually dropped in, and all, like Mrs. Garsaid Beulah, and, excusing herself a moment, ner, were treated to a sight of Beulah's producshe went to her room, laid aside her coat and tions. Miss Nancy called for them if no one hat, ran a comb through the dark curls on her else did, and she was apt to give an awe-inforehead, powdered her face afresh, and then spiring hint, when Beulah was out of the room, without loss of time got out an armful of as to the sacrifices the girl had made for her sketches and studies from the bottom of her art's sake. After a while a change began to wardrobe, and, smiling and polite, walked back show in Beulah ; she worked harder than ever, to Mrs. Garner. She sat down beside her, drew she painted early and late, and she grew more up a chair to rest the pile upon, and showed and more silent, and on Sunday, when she them all to her, conscientiously, one by one, ould not paint, more and more restless. She telling her in the mean time which were the was no longer content to hide her story-book hour sketches, and which had had a favorable in her lap for solace while she dutifully and
patiently sat and preserved the look of listen- easily and lightly to put before Beulah the base ing through long chapters of Jeremiah read fickleness of the discarded one, but the more aloud by short-sighted Miss Nancy.
she thought about it the less she knew how to “I 'm afraid, Beulah, my child,” said Miss do it. If ever there was an old maid in every Nancy, solemnly, one morning, stopping and fiber of her being it was the hearty, wholesome, laying her open book upon her lap - "I'm large-minded Miss Nancy, and consequently much afraid you are letting your delight in an her theories of love and love-affairs were of the earthly gift and your love of an earthly art draw most assured, definite, comprehensive characyou away from your interest in things eternal.” ter; but there was something about Beulah
Beulah had been fidgeting from one window these days that gave her pause, and for once to another, after having three times found ex- in a lifetime penetrated her soul with an uncuses for leaving the room; now she still stood acknowledged but dreadful doubt of her own at a window, and answered, without turning complete understanding of all the mysteries of around, “I'm afraid I am, Miss Nancy.” But human life. afterward she sat down and remained quiet Before she found a way to speak to Beulah through the next chapter, though sustained by of Tom M'Grath's lightness she got a letter no other distraction than her own thoughts. To from Beulah's mother mentioning the same do Beulah justice, she was always willing to do subject as a hearsay report, and adding that as much through one chapter; that, she said, she had written of it to Beulah — why, she did she had been raised to.
not say, and who knows? Miss Nancy had not expressed her fears fully. The day that this letter came Beulah did not What she said to Beulah was what she said to come home to dinner. It was eight o'clock herself, but down in the depths of her being when Miss Nancy heard the door of the flat lurked a faint uneasiness that she did not hall open, and, hurrying to the parlor entrance acknowledge. It was very annoying the way with unaccustomed speed, saw Beulah dragone person and another began to remark that ging herself wearily into her own tiny bedroom. Beulah was not looking well, that she was los- A feeling of relief was succeeded by a righteous ing flesh. How could she look well when even and tempered indignation in Miss Nancy's after dinner, at home, she got out paper and heart. She had not intimated to the other girls charcoal and fell again upon the work that had that Beulah's absence was to her unexpected; occupied her all day? Genius, of course, often on the contrary, so far as was consistent with did burn itself out in that way, but she had al- her ideas of Presbyterian doctrine, she had inways felt that she had reason to hope Beulah timated exactly the other thing. She was diswas better balanced. She was so far shaken out posed to maintain something like boardingof her usual noble poise as to protest crossly, school discipline over her girls, and they, she several times, against so much work; but one well knew, with their associations, were all too night after one of these scoldings she heard likely to imbibe the odious doctrines of youththe girl walking up and down in the drawing- ful feminine freedom with which the dreadful room till three o'clock in the morning, and in- Sunday papers reeked. She now thought that stead of the sense of intolerant outrage with to go at once and speak to Beulah alone would which she would usually have greeted such a be the best way of maintaining discipline. She performance, an odd forbearance fell upon her. knocked at the door, and, immediately opening After a month in which Beulah’s appetite and it, found herself face to face with a very white, color did not improve, Miss Nancy got a letter wide-eyed young woman, who stood in front in which, among other bits of gossip, she read of her chaperon as if barring the way. this: “ Mary has had a letter from her nephew "Beulah, my dear child," began Miss Nancy, from San Antonio, and he says he has heard in her most sadly serious way, her hands restthat Tom M'Grath is courting a girl in Hous- ing upon her stomach, “ I cannot feel that this ton; that people think it will be a match.” evening you have treated me or my household
Miss Nancy's heart lightened; if you will be with the respect that is my due, and I feel that lieve it, she thought to herself that now Beu- it is for your own—" lah's pride would come to her rescue, and make “ Because I did not come home to dinner?” her forget a man who had so soon forgotten Beulah broke in, in an unfamiliar, hard voice, her. This hope was her firsi admission to her- and without the slightest apparent consciousself of her fears, and you see from it that Miss ness of the rudeness of her interruption. “I Nancy had exalted ideas as to the offices and beg your pardon; I am very sorry.” possibilities of womanly pride, and also that she “Where have you been, Beulah ?" said Miss had the usual feminine and profound attach- Nancy, still trying to live up to her standard ment to the most romantic ideal of constancy of an ideal disciplinarian. - constancy under the most discouraging cir- “Been?" Beulah repeated, pushing her hair cumstances — for men. She meditated on how away from her forehead, and looking through
space. " I don't know; oh, I have been walk- to any one. She simply lay there, white as her ing." She brought her eyes back to Miss pillow, with her eyes shut, shaking her head Nancy's, and then added quickly, “ I had my sometimes with a little suffering scowl when lunch very late; I don't want any dinner. I she was spoken to. Miss Nancy was absolutely have been taking a little exercise in the park.” cowed; she was too far gone to put down the
This explanation was a small concession to little buzz of sympathetic and interested gosduty and decency, to be sure, but Miss Nancy's sip going on around her, for you may be sure well-trained ear was conscious of a singular these other girls had their ideas of the trouble, indifference in the girl's tone. She was uncom- though, to do Beulah justice, she had made no fortable, she felt like retreating, she did retreat; confidences,and was temperamentally attached but not till she had covered that move by say- to the dignity of secrecy. ing: “Very well, Beulah, but I don't expect But the time had come when her well-orthis to occur again; it is not proper conduct. dered personal reserve was to break down. I will go and fix you a plate of bread and butter, One of the girls — the one she liked best — was and make you a cup of coffee, and bring them detailed to sit with her, and when Miss Nancy to you. It is my duty”- raising her voice a stole away from the eye of man, and the other trifle in answer to Beulah's impatient wave of went about her affairs, the little nurse laid her protest - " to see that you do not injure your curly head down on the foot of the bed and health by your own — your own folly. I shall broke into tearful sobs. It was a most heteroexpect you to eat something."
dox thing for a nurse to do, but Beulah opened Miss Nancy's inward sense of weakness had her eyes, and then held out her arms, and as driven her into an irritation uncommon with the two young things clasped each other, she her. She was now moved to martyr herself to fell into a wild weeping that was the most merBeulah's bad behavior, and proceeded to ar- ciful thing in the world. range the little lunch instead of asking the ser- “I knew it would come, I knew it, Patty,” vant to do it. When she returned with a tray in she cried at last in a loud, strained whisperher hand she opened the door without knock-“I knew it. I knew I ’d suffer like this some ing. Beulah was seated on the floor with her time. I did n't at first; I did n't mind. I did n't writing-desk in her lap; she closed it as Miss feel as if I cared about being married. They Nancy came in, but for a moment she did not said I 'd be a great artist ; I wanted to be, but get up. When she awoke to the demands of I knew this would come. I did not say it to courtesy she fulfilled them rather scantily, and myself, but I knew." Miss Nancy carried herself out with unsoftened After a while she talked a little more calmly, dignity. She did not disturb Beulah again that and poured into Patty's small, palpitating bonight, although she kept an eye on the girl's som a deal of innocent young history. transom long after she herself went to bed, and “We'd been engaged ever since we were at one o'clock saw the gas burning in that room nothing but children,” she said, holding tight to with the complex emotions of a householder, a Patty's hand, and drawing herself toward her, guardian of youth, and a good woman who, as if she felt that in some way Patty might help despite herself
, feared that a great mistake had her. “He wanted to be married before, but I been made, and that she shared the responsi- thought I'd rather be a girl a little longer; and bility for it.
then came the painting, and Miss Nancy and During the next week her uneasiness de- everybody said I'd - oh, what does it matter, clined; life went on comfortably enough. Beu- what does all that matter? When you are enlah worked hard, but she ate her meals and gaged a long time like that you get to think talked to people, and altogether behaved more you don't care so much, but it's only because like a Christian than she had done in a long 'way down you care more. And Tom never said time.
a hard word to me; maybe he did n't mind“Thank heaven! that girl has come to her but he did, oh, he did then. Why should he senses," said Miss Nancy to herself, and her com- remember, when I could do such a thing ?” placency as a guide, philosopher, and friend re- Wide-eyed Patty opened her brave little newed its strength like the eagle. But the week mouth to speak, and the way Beulah half after this did not begin so well. On its last day raised herself, leaning forward with eyes strainBeulah came home at three o'clock in the after- ing to read what she should say before the noon, a very unusual thing. One of the other words were formed, was a heart-sickening revegirls met her as she came in and exclaimed about lation of distraught, hopeless hopes of help. her white face. A minute later she heard a heavy “ Tell him, tell him now," whispered Patty; fall in Beulah's room and, rushing in, saw her, but she was frightened enough when Beulah looking so pitifully slight and young in her sore flung her hand away, and, burying her face in trouble, lying unconscious on the floor. When the pillows, sought to stifle a burst of hysterical Beulah came to herself she would say nothing cries. When she could Beulah pressed her hand
HOLDING TIGHT TO PATTY'S HAND." an instant again, but begged her to go away- “Not really, not in thousands and thousands go away, and make everybody leave her alone. of times. Why should he answer me? I knew
The next morning when Miss Nancy went he would n't.” in and found her still lying as she had left her, “He will,” said Patty, with the inflection but with open eyes that some way looked as if proper to an axiomatic statement. she had not closed them through all the night, “Do you think so — do you, Patty ?” Beushe said that she must send for a doctor. Beu- lah, the elder, the genius, the once self-conlah turned her head, looked at her, and then tained, kind mentor of the younger girl, spoke said very distinctly:
now as if Patty were an oracle of heaven. “Miss Nancy, you must not send for a doc- Patty was equal to the position. “I know tor till I tell you to. When I can I 'll see one, it,” she said. Then, as Beulah's eyes besought if I need; but I have got to manage my own her for more, she went on : “ Probably he was life now. Please leave me alone. Thank you away, and did n't get the letter for some time, for your kindness.” And she turned her face and then probably he set in to arrange to come to the wall.
right up North to see you, and did n't think Miss Nancy could only pulse with an indig- about writing. Men do like that; pa does. nation that her other emotions were powerless Why, maybe he's coming now; or maybe he's to override; but she had an indefinable fear of gotten here to-night after it seemed too late to a conflict, and she went away and stayed away. call on you, and is waiting till in the morning.” Beulah lay there silent all day. It was after Little did Patty realize, in her infantine castledinner when Patty, going into the dimly lighted building, what she was laying out for herself. room again, heard her speak.
“Do you think so ?” cried Beulah, softly. “ Patty,” she said, in a wooden, steady voice, Then she said in a voice more like every-day “I have written. That 's what's so terrible.” life, but vibrating with suppressed excitement,
“When?" asked the intelligent Patty. “Where is Miss Nancy ?” “ More than two weeks ago.”
"In the dining-room." “ All sorts of things happen to letters.” “No one else there?”