He drew it from his pocket and put it into her hand, while his face glowed with enthusiasm.
“Thank you, thank you.” Grateful tears sprang to her eyes; tears which acute suffering could not wring from her. He saw the gathering drops, and said gayly:
“If that is the way you intend to thank me I shall bring you no more pencils. But you look very pale, and ought to be asleep, for I have no doubt to-morrow will be a trying day for you. Do exert yourself to be brave, and bear it all for a little while; I know it will not be very long, and I shall come and see you just as often as possible.”
He rose as he spoke.
“Are you obliged to go so soon? Can’t you stay with me a little longer?” pleaded Beulah.
The boy’s eyes filled as he looked at the beseeching, haggard face, and he answered hastily:
“Not to-night, Beulah; you must go to sleep—you need it sadly.”
“You will be cold walking home. Let me get you a shawl.”
“No, I left my overcoat in the hall—here it is.”
She followed him out to the door, as he drew it on and put on his cap. The moonlight shone over the threshold, and he thought she looked ghostly as it fell upon her face. He took her hand, pressed it gently, and said:
“Good-night, dear Beulah.”
“Good-by, Eugene. Do come and see me again, soon.”
“Yes, I will. Don’t get low-spirited as soon as I am out of sight, do you hear?”
“Yes, I hear; I will try not to complain. Walk fast and keep warm.”
She pressed his hand affectionately, watched his receding form as long as she could trace its outline, and then went slowly back to the dormitory. Falling on her knees by the side of Lilly’s empty couch, she besought God, in trembling accents, to bless her “darling little sister and Claudy,” and to give her strength to perform all her duties contentedly and cheerfully.
Beulah stood waiting on the steps of the large mansion to which she had been directed by Miss Dorothea White. Her heart throbbed painfully, and her hand trembled as she rang the bell. The door was opened by a negro waiter, who merely glanced at her, and asked carelessly:
“Well, little miss, what do you want?”
“Is Mrs. Martin at home?”
“Yes, miss; come, walk in. There is but a poor fire in the front parlor—suppose you sit down in the back room. Mrs. Martin will be down in a minute.”
The first object which arrested Beulah’s attention was a center table covered with books. “Perhaps,” thought she, “they will permit me to read some of them.” While she sat looking over the titles the rustle of silk caused her to glance around, and she saw Mrs. Martin quite near her.
“Good-morning,” said the lady, with a searching look, which made the little figure tremble.