“I have,” said Mrs. Hopkins, with a groan; “but I haven’t paid for one of them. Parkins says he will trust me for quite a month; but however I am to pay your Aunt Church, and keep enough money for the new goods, beats me. Sometimes I think that my burden is greater than I can bear. I have often had a feeling that I ought to give up the shop and take service somewhere. I used to be noted as the best of good housekeepers when I was young.”
“Oh, no, mother, you mustn’t do that,” said Susy. “What would Tom and I do?”
“If it wasn’t for you and Tom I’d give notice to-morrow,” said the widow. “But there! we must hope for the best, I suppose. God never forsakes those who trust Him.”
“Mother,” said Susy suddenly, “I hope you will be able to spare me this afternoon. I want to go and see Aunt Church.”
“Why should you do that, child? There’s no way for you to go except on your legs, and it’s a weary walk, and the days are getting short.”
“All the same, I must go,” said Susy. “I suppose you couldn’t shut up the shop and come with me, could you, mother?”
“Shut up the shop!” said Mrs. Hopkins. “What next will the child ask? Not a bit of it, Susan. But what do you want to see your aunt for?”
“It is a little private message in connection with Miss Kathleen O’Hara. It means money, mother; of that I am certain. It means that Aunt Church will forgive you last month’s installment of the debt, and perhaps next month’s, too. You had best let me go, mother. I am not talking without knowledge, and I can’t tell you what I know.”
“I know something,” said Tom, and he gave utterance to a low whistle.
Susy turned and glanced at her brother in some uneasiness.
“There are a deal of funny things whispered about your school just now,” he said. “I’m not going to peach, of course; only you’d best look out. They say if it got to the governors’ ears every foundationer in the place would be expelled. It is something that ought not to be done.”
“Don’t mind him, mother. Do you think I’d do anything to endanger my continuing at the school, after all the trouble and care and anxiety you had in getting me placed there?”
“Really, child,” said Mrs. Hopkins, “I don’t know. The wilfullness of young folks in these days is past enduring. But you had better clearly understand, Susy, that if for any reason you are dismissed from the school there is nothing whatever for you but to take a place as a servant; and that you wouldn’t like.”
“I should think not, indeed. Well, mother, to avoid all these consequences I must go as fast as I can to see Aunt Church.”
SUSY HOPKINS PERSUADES AUNT CHURCH.