She buried her face in her hands, and sat in silence for a few seconds; then looking at Mrs. Stevens, with tearful eyes, exclaimed, “God forgive me if it must be so; nothing but the utter ruin that stares me in the face if I refuse induces me to accede to your request.”
“I am sorry that you distress yourself so much about it. You know you are your own mistress, and can do as you choose,” said Mrs. Stevens; “but if you will be advised by me, you will send them away at once.”
“After school I will,” hesitatingly replied Miss Jordan.
“I hate to appear so pressing,” resumed Mrs. Stevens; “but I feel it my duty to suggest that you had better do it at once, and before the rest of the scholars. I did not wish, to inform you to what extent this thing had gone; but it really has been talked of in many quarters, and it is generally supposed that you are cognisant of the fact that the Garies are coloured; therefore you see the necessity of doing something at once to vindicate yourself from the reproach of abolitionism.”
At the pronunciation of this then terrible word in such connection with herself, Miss Jordan turned quite pale, and for a moment struggled to acquire sufficient control of her feelings to enable her to do as Mrs. Stevens suggested; at last, bursting into tears, she said, “Oh, I cannot—will not—do it. I’ll dismiss them, but not in that unfeeling manner; that I cannot do.”
The children were now entirely neglecting their lessons, and seemed much affected by Miss Jordan’s tears, of which they could not understand the cause. She observing this, rang the bell, the usual signal for intermission.
Mrs. Stevens, satisfied with the triumph she had effected, took leave of Miss Jordan, after commending her for the sensible conclusion at which she had arrived, and promising to procure her two more pupils in the room of those she was about to dismiss.
Miss Jordan was a long time writing the note that she intended sending to Mr. Garie; and one of the elder girls returned to the school-room, wondering at the unusually long time that had been given for recreation.
“Tell Clarence and his sister to come here,” said she to the girl who had just entered; and whilst they were on their way upstairs, she folded the note, and was directing it when Clarence entered.
“Clarence,” said she, in a soft voice, “put on your hat; I have a note of some importance for you to take to your father—your father remember—don’t give it to any one else.” Taking out her watch, she continued, “It is now so late that you would scarcely get back before the time for dismissal, so you had better take little Emily home with you.”
“I hope, ma’am, I haven’t done anything wrong?” asked Clarence.
“Oh, no!” quickly replied she; “you’re a dear, good boy, and have never given me a moment’s pain since you came to the school.” And she hurried out into the hall to avoid farther questioning.