“Oh, mother!” Pauline caught up the narrow blue slip. She had never received a check from anyone before. “Mother! listen!” and she read aloud, “’Pay to the order of Miss Pauline A. Shaw, the sum of twenty-five dollars.’”
Twenty-five dollars! One ought to be able to do a good deal with twenty-five dollars!
“Goodness me!” Patience exclaimed. She had followed her sister up-stairs, after a discreet interval, curling herself up unobtrusively in a big chair just inside the doorway. “Can you do what you like with it, Paul?”
But Pauline was bending over the letter, a bright spot of color on each cheek. Presently, she handed it to her mother. “I wish—I’d never written to him! Read it, mother!”
And Mrs. Shaw read, as follows—
NewYork city, May 31, 19—.
Miss Pauline A. Shaw,
My dear niece: Yours of May 16th to hand. I am sorry to learn that your sister Hilary appears to be in such poor health at present. Such being the case, however, it would seem to me that home was the best place for her. I do not at all approve of this modern fashion of running about the country, on any and every pretext. Also, if I remember correctly, your father has frequently described Winton to me as a place of great natural charms, and peculiarly adapted to those suffering from so-called nervous disorders.
Altogether, I do not feel inclined to comply with your request to make it possible for your sister to leave home, in search of change and recreation. Instead, beginning with this letter, I will forward you each month during the summer, the sum of twenty-five dollars, to be used in procuring for your sisters and yourself—I understand, there is a third child—such simple and healthful diversions as your parents may approve, the only conditions I make, being, that at no time shall any of your pleasure trips take you further than ten miles from home, and that you keep me informed, from time to time, how this plan of mine is succeeding.
Trusting this may prove satisfactory,
Paul A. Shaw.
“What do you think, mother?” Pauline asked, as Mrs. Shaw finished reading. “Isn’t it a very—queer sort of letter?”
“It is an extremely characteristic one, dear.”
“I think,” Patience could contain herself no longer, “that you are the inconsideratest persons! You know I’m perfectly wild to know what’s in that letter!”
“Run away now, Patience,” her mother said. “You shall hear about it later,” and when Patience had obeyed—not very willingly, Mrs. Shaw turned again to Pauline. “We must show this to your father, before making any plans in regard to it, dear.”
“He’s coming now. You show it to him, please, mother.”
When her mother had gone down-stairs, Pauline still sat there in the window seat, looking soberly out across the lawn to the village street, with its double rows of tall, old trees. So her flag had served little purpose after all! That change for Hilary was still as uncertain, as much a vague part of the future, as it had ever been.