Once Mrs. Livingstone ventured to remonstrate, telling him that Anna was very sensitive, and required altogether different treatment from Carrie. “She thinks you dislike her,” said she, “and while she retains this impression, she will do nothing as far as learning is concerned; so if you do not like her, try and make her think you do!”
There was a peculiar look in Mr. Everett’s dark eyes as he answered, “You may think it strange, Mrs. Livingstone, but of all my pupils I love Anna the best! I know I find more fault with her, and am perhaps more severe with her than with the rest, but it’s because I would make her what I wish her to be. Pardon me, madam, but Anna does not possess the same amount of intellect with her cousin or sister, but by proper culture she will make a fine, intelligent woman.”
Mrs. Livingstone hardly relished being told that one child was inferior to the other, but she could not well help herself—Mr. Everett would say what he pleased—and thus the conference ended. From that time Mr. Everett was exceedingly kind to Anna, wiping away the tears which invariably came when told that she must stay with him in the school-room after the rest were gone; then, instead of seating himself in rigid silence at a distance until her task was learned, he would sit by her side, occasionally smoothing her long curls and speaking encouragingly to her as she pored over some hard rule of grammar, or puzzled her brains with some difficult problem in Colburn. Erelong the result of all this became manifest. Anna grew fonder of her books, more ready to learn, and—more willing to be kept after school!
Ah, little did Mrs. Livingstone think what she was doing when she bade young Malcolm Everett make her warm-hearted, impulsive daughter think he liked her!
“Mother, where’s ’Lena’s dress? Hasn’t she got any?” asked Anna, one morning, about two weeks before Christmas, as she bent over a promiscuous pile of merinoes, delaines, and plaid silks, her own and Carrie’s dresses for the coming holidays. “Say, mother, didn’t you buy ’Lena any?”
Thus interrogated, Mrs. Livingstone replied, “I wonder if you think I’m made of money! ’Lena is indebted to me now for more than she can ever pay. As long as I give her a home and am at so much expense in educating her, she of course can’t expect me to dress her as I do you. There’s Carrie’s brown delaine and your blue one, which I intend to have made over for her, and she ought to be satisfied with that, for they are much better than anything she had when she came here.”
And the lady glanced toward the spot where ’Lena sat, admiring the new things, in which she had no share, and longing to ask the question which Anna had asked for her, and which had now been answered. John Jr., who was present, and who knew that Mr. Everett had been engaged to teach in the family long before it was known that ’Lena was coming, now said to his cousin, who arose to leave, “Yes, ’Lena, mother’s a model of generosity, and you’ll never be able to repay her for her kindness in allowing you to wear the girls’ old duds, which would otherwise be given to the blacks, and in permitting you to recite to Mr. Everett, who, of course, was hired on your account.”