“There won’t be any mail for us, Paul,” Hilary said, glancing listlessly up from the book she was trying to read; “you’ll only get all wet and uncomfortable for nothing.”
Pauline’s gray eyes were dancing; “No,” she agreed, “I don’t suppose there will be any mail for us—to-day; but I want a walk. It won’t hurt me, mother. I love to be out in the rain.”
And all the way down the slippery village street the girl’s eyes continued to dance with excitement. It was so much to have actually started her ball rolling; and, at the moment, it seemed that Uncle Paul must send it bounding back in the promptest and most delightful of letters. He had never married, and somewhere down at the bottom of his apparently crusty, old heart he must have kept a soft spot for the children of his only brother.
Thus Pauline’s imagination ran on, until near the post-office she met her father. The whole family had just finished a tour of the West in Mr. Paul Shaw’s private car—of course, he must have a private car, wasn’t he a big railroad man?—and Pauline had come back to Winton long enough to gather up her skirts a little more firmly when she saw Mr. Shaw struggling up the hill against the wind.
“Pauline!” he stopped, straightening his tall, scholarly figure. “What brought you out in such a storm?”
With a sudden feeling of uneasiness, Pauline wondered what he would say if she were to explain exactly what it was that had brought her out. With an impulse towards at least a half-confession, she said hurriedly, “I wanted to post a letter I’d just written; I’ll be home almost as soon as you are, father.”
Then she ran on down the street. All at once she felt her courage weakening; unless she got her letter posted immediately she felt she should end by tearing it up.
When it had slipped from her sight through the narrow slit labeled “Letters,” she stood a moment, almost wishing it were possible to get it back again.
She went home rather slowly. Should she confess at once, or wait until Uncle Paul’s answer came? It should be here inside of a week, surely; and if it were favorable—and, oh, it must be favorable—would not that in itself seem to justify her in what she had done?
On the front piazza, Patience was waiting for her, a look of mischief in her blue eyes. Patience was ten, a red-haired, freckled slip of a girl. She danced about Pauline now. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going out so I could’ve gone, too? And what have you been up to, Paul Shaw? Something! You needn’t tell me you haven’t.”
“I’m not going to tell you anything,” Pauline answered, going on into the house. The study door was half open, and when she had taken off her things, Pauline stood a moment a little uncertainly outside it. Then suddenly, much to her small sister’s disgust, she went in, closing the door behind her.
Mr. Shaw was leaning back in his big chair at one corner of the fireplace. “Well,” he asked, looking up, “did you get your letter in in time, my dear?”