“That is neither here nor there. He will not hear the truth, of course; and, even if he did, he will not suppose you were actuated by any such Christian motives to shield his sister’s meanness. You ought to have seen him first.”
“Well, it is all over now, and I see I must help myself. I want to go to the public school, where the tuition is free; but how can I support myself in the meantime? Eighteen dollars would not board me long, and, besides, I shall have to buy clothes.” She looked up, much perplexed, in the matron’s anxious face. The latter was silent a moment, and then said:
“Why, the public school closes in a few weeks; the next session will not begin before autumn, and what could you do until then? No, I will just inform Dr. Hartwell of the truth of the whole matter. I think it is due him, and—”
“Indeed you must not! I promised Mrs. Chilton that I would not implicate her, and your doing it would amount to the same thing. I would not be the means of driving Pauline out of her uncle’s house for all the gold in California!”
“Silly child! What on earth possessed you to promise any such thing?”
“I wanted her to see that I was honest in what I said. She knew that I could, by divulging the whole affair, turn her out of the house (for Dr. Hartwell’s disposition is a secret to no one who has lived in his home), and I wished to show her that I told the truth in saying I only wanted to be educated for a teacher.” “Suppose the doctor comes here and asks you about the matter?”
“I shall tell him that I prefer not being dependent on anyone. But he will not come. He does not know where I am.”
Yet the dread that he would filled her mind with new anxieties.
“Well, well, it is no use to fret over what can’t be undone. I wish I could help you, but I don’t see any chance just now.”
“Could not I get some plain sewing? Perhaps the managers would give me work?”
“Ah, Beulah, it would soon kill you, to have to sew for your living.”
“No, no; I can bear more than you think,” answered the girl, with a dreary smile.
“Yes; your spirit can endure more than your body. Your father died with consumption, child; but don’t fret about it any more to-night. Come, get some supper, and then go to sleep. You will stay in my room, with me, dear, till something can be done to assist you.”
“Mrs. Williams, you must promise me that you never will speak of what I have told you regarding that conversation with Mrs. Chilton.”
“I promise you, dear, I never will mention it, since you prefer keeping the matter secret.”
“What will Dr. Hartwell think of me?” was the recurring thought that would not be banished; and, unable to sleep, Beulah tossed restlessly on her pillow all night, dreading lest he should despise her for her seeming ingratitude.