It was quite a change for me to find myself so suddenly removed from my position as teacher in a small school and installed as mistress in my uncle’s elegant home in Walnut Street, Philadelphia. We found Mrs. O’Flaherty very trustworthy, and well qualified in every way for her position.
Soon after our return to Philadelphia, my uncle accompanied me to the graves of my parents. I cannot describe my feelings when I found myself, after so long an absence, again standing by the spot where reposed the dust of my loved father and mother. I seemed almost to feel their presence, and the tears I shed were gentle and refreshing. Seated by those graves, I, for the first time, spoke to my uncle of the circumstances which had caused me to leave Mrs. Leighton, and remove from Philadelphia. He expressed much sympathy for me and said,—
“You should endeavor to banish these circumstances from your mind. You are young, and, I trust, have yet many years of happy life before you.”
I learned from Mrs. Burnside that Mr. Leighton had lately met with several heavy losses in business. William was still in England. He had written two or three letters to Birdie, but had corresponded with no other member of the family. Laura and Georgania had both married, and removed to a distant city. Birdie had finished her studies, and returned home. Lewis was attending school some two hundred miles from the city.
Mrs. Burnside further informed me that the health of Mrs. Leighton was very much impaired. According to the information I gained from Mrs. Burnside, there seemed to have been a great change in the family of Mr. Leighton since I left Philadelphia.
Time passed happily away in my new home. We often saw company, for all my old friends soon sought me out, when they learned of my return to the city; and my uncle, being of a social disposition, extended a kindly welcome to them all. Birdie Leighton called. I was truly glad to see her, and she seemed equally happy to meet me; but our meeting could not be otherwise than constrained and formal; and, owing to circumstances, anything like intimacy was, of course, out of the question. I had almost forgotten to mention that, among the first to call upon me in my new home, were Mrs. and Miss Kingsley, for she was Miss Kingsley still; the same who were so much shocked by meeting with a governess at a fashionable party. Surely, thought I, my uncle’s money is working wonders, when I am already patronized by the exclusive Mrs. Kingsley. Their call I have never yet returned.
While walking one day, with a friend, I caught a glimpse of Mrs. Leighton, as she rode past in her carriage. She was so much changed that, at the first, I hardly recognized her; but, upon looking more closely, I saw that it was indeed Mrs. Leighton.
A year and a half had now glided by since my return to Philadelphia. Nothing worthy of note had taken place during this time.