“I am glad you enjoyed it; very glad. I wish the color would come back to your cheeks. Riding is better for you now than walking.” She stooped down and pressed her lips to the wan cheek as she spoke.
“Did you walk this evening, after I left you?”
“What makes you look so grave?”
“A great many causes—you among the number.”
“What have I done?”
“You are not so strong as I should like to see you. You have a sort of spiritual look that I don’t at all fancy.”
“I dare say I shall soon be well again.” This was said with an effort, and a sigh quickly followed.
Beulah rang the bell for a cup of coffee, and, taking down a book, drew her chair near the lamp.
“What! studying already?” cried Clara impatiently.
“And why not? Life is short at best, and rarely allows time to master all departments of knowledge. Why should I not seize every spare moment?”
“Oh, Beulah! though you are so much younger, you awe me. I told your guardian to-day that you were studying yourself into a mere shadow. He smiled, and said you were too willful to be advised. You talk to me about not looking well! You never have had any color, and lately you have grown very thin and hollow-eyed. I asked the doctor if he did not think you were looking ill, and he said that you had changed very much since the summer. Beulah, for my sake, please don’t pore over your books so incessantly.” She took Beulah’s hand gently in both hers.
“Want of color is as constitutional with me as the shape of my nose. I have always been pale, and study has no connection with it. Make yourself perfectly easy on my account.”
“You are very willful, as your guardian says!” cried Clara impatiently.
“Yes; that is like my sallow complexion—constitutional,” answered Beulah, laughing, and opening a volume of Carlyle as she spoke.
“Oh, Beulah, I don’t know what will become of you!” Tears sprang into Clara’s eyes.
“Do not be at all uneasy, my dear, dove-eyed Clara. I can take care of myself.”
It was the middle of November, and the absentees who had spent their summer at the North were all at home again. Among these were Mrs. Asbury and her two daughters; and only a few days after their return they called to see Beulah. She found them polished, cultivated, and agreeable; and when, at parting, the mother kindly pressed her hand and cordially invited her to visit them often and sociably, she felt irresistibly drawn toward her, and promised to do so. Ere long there came a friendly note, requesting her to spend the evening with them; and thus, before she had known them many weeks, Beulah found herself established on the familiar footing of an old friend. Universally esteemed and respected, Dr. Asbury’s society was sought by the most refined circle of the city,