“Oh,” Pauline cried miserably, “what a horrid interfering thing father must think me! Rushing in where I had no right to! I wish I’d known—I just thought—you see, father speaks of Uncle Paul now and then—that maybe they’d only—grown apart—and that if Uncle Paul knew! But perhaps my letter will get lost. It would serve me right; and yet, if it does, I’m afraid I can’t help feeling somewhat disappointed—on Hilary’s account.”
Her mother smiled. “We can only wait and see. I would rather you said nothing of what I have been telling you to either Hilary or Patience, Pauline.”
“I won’t, Mother Shaw. It seems I have a lot of secrets from Hilary. And I won’t write any more such letters without consulting you or father, you can depend on that.”
Mr. Paul Shaw’s answer did not come within the allotted week. It was the longest week Pauline had ever known; and when the second went by and still no word from her uncle, the waiting and uncertainty became very hard to bear, all the harder, that her usual confidant, Hilary, must not be allowed to suspect anything.
The weather had turned suddenly warm, and Hilary’s listlessness had increased proportionately, which probably accounted for the dying out of what little interest she had felt at first in Patience’s “mysterious letter.”
Patience, herself, was doing her best to play fair; fortunately, she was in school the greater part of the day, else the strain upon her powers of self-control might have proved too heavy.
“Mother,” Pauline said one evening, lingering in her mother’s room, after Hilary had gone to bed, “I don’t believe Uncle Paul means answering at all. I wish I’d never asked him to do anything.”
“So do I, Pauline. Still it is rather early yet for you to give up hope. It’s hard waiting, I know, dear, but that is something we all have to learn to do, sooner or later.”
“I don’t think ‘no news is good news,’” Pauline said; then she brightened. “Oh, Mother Shaw! Suppose the letter is on the way now, and that Hilary is to have a sea voyage! You’d have to go, too.”
“Pauline, Pauline, not so fast! Listen, dear, we might send Hilary out to The Maples for a week or two. Mrs. Boyd would be delighted to have her; and it wouldn’t be too far away, in case we should be getting her ready for that—sea voyage.”
“I don’t believe she’d care to go; it’s quieter than here at home.”
“But it would be a change. I believe I’ll suggest it to her in the morning.”
But when Mrs. Shaw did suggest it the next morning, Hilary was quite of Pauline’s opinion. “I shouldn’t like it a bit, mother! It would be worse than home—duller, I mean; and Mrs. Boyd would fuss over me so,” she said impatiently.
“You used to like going there, Hilary.”
“Mother, you can’t want me to go.”
“I think it might do you good, Hilary. I should like you to try it.”