The girl shrank back. “Oh, no’m,” she said, with an effect of seeming to know that her refusal would hurt, and with the wish to soften it. “I—couldn’t; indeed I couldn’t.”
“Why couldn’t you? Now you must! If I can’t let you have the wo’k the way you want, I don’t think it’s fair, and you ought to have the money for it just the same.”
Clementina shook her head smiling. “I don’t believe motha would like to have me take it.”
“Oh, now, pshaw!” said Mrs. Lander, inadequately. “I want you should take this for youaself; and if you don’t want to buy anything to wea’, you can get something to fix your room up with. Don’t you be afraid of robbin’ us. Land! We got moa money! Now you take this.”
Mrs. Lander reached the money as far toward Clementina as she could and shook it in the vehemence of her desire.
“Thank you, I couldn’t take it,” Clementina persisted. “I’m afraid I must be going; I guess I must bid you good-mo’ning.”
“Why, I believe the child’s sca’ed of me! But you needn’t be. Don’t you suppose I know how you feel? You set down in that chai’a there, and I’ll tell you how you feel. I guess we’ve been pooa, too—I don’t mean anything that a’n’t exactly right—and I guess I’ve had the same feelin’s. You think it’s demeanin’ to you to take it. A’n’t that it?” Clementina sank provisionally upon the edge of the chair. “Well, it did use to be so consid’ed. But it’s all changed, nowadays. We travel pretty nee’ the whole while, Mr. Lander and me, and we see folks everywhere, and it a’n’t the custom to refuse any moa. Now, a’n’t there any little thing for your own room, there in your nice new house? Or something your motha’s got her heat set on? Or one of your brothas? My, if you don’t have it, some one else will! Do take it!”
The girl kept slipping toward the door. “I shouldn’t know what to tell them, when I got home. They would think I must be—out of my senses.”
“I guess you mean they’d think I was. Now, listen to me a minute!” Mrs. Lander persisted.
“You just take this money, and when you get home, you tell your mother every word about it, and if she says, you bring it right straight back to me. Now, can’t you do that?”
“I don’t know but I can,” Clementina faltered. “Well, then take it!” Mrs. Lander put the bills into her hand but she did not release her at once. She pulled Clementina down and herself up till she could lay her other arm on her neck. “I want you should let me kiss you. Will you?”
“Why, certainly,” said Clementina, and she kissed the old woman.
“You tell your mother I’m comin’ to see her before I go; and I guess,” said Mrs. Lander in instant expression of the idea that came into her mind, “we shall be goin’ pretty soon, now.”
“Yes’m,” said Clementina.
She went out, and shortly after Lander came in with a sort of hopeful apathy in his face.