Sometimes, after sitting for five consecutive hours at the piano, guiding the clumsy fingers of tyros, and listening to a tiresome round of scales and exercises, Beulah felt exhausted, mentally and physically, and feared that she had miserably overrated her powers of endurance. The long, warm days of August dragged heavily by, and each night she felt grateful that the summer was one day nearer its grave. One afternoon she proposed to Clara to extend their walk to the home of her guardian, and, as she readily assented, they left the noise and crowd of the city, and soon found themselves on the common.
“This is my birthday,” said Beulah, as they passed a clump of pines and caught a glimpse of the white gate beyond.
“Ah! How old are you?”
“Eighteen—but I feel much older.”
She opened the gate, and, as they leisurely ascended the avenue of aged cedars, Beulah felt once more as if she were going home. A fierce bark greeted her, and the next moment Charon rushed to meet her; placing his huge paws on her shoulders, and whining and barking joyfully. He bounded before her to the steps, and lay down contentedly on the piazza. Harriet’s turbaned head appeared at the entrance, and a smile of welcome lighted up her ebon face, as she shook Beulah’s hand.
Mrs. Watson was absent, and, after a few questions, Beulah entered the study, saying:
“I want some books, Harriet; and Miss Sanders wishes to see the paintings.”
Ah! every chair and book-shelf greeted her like dear friends, and she bent down over some volumes to hide the tears that sprang into her eyes. The only really happy portion of her life had been passed here; every article in the room was dear from association, and, though only a month had elapsed since her departure, those bygone years seemed far, far off, among the mist of very distant recollections. Thick and fast fell the hot drops, until her eyes were blinded, and she could no longer distinguish the print they were riveted on. The memory of kind smiles haunted her, and kinder tones seemed borne to her from every corner of the apartment. Clara was eagerly examining the paintings, and neither of the girls observed Harriet’s entrance, until she asked: