Matters at grassy spring.
The next morning as the family at Collingwood sat at their rather late breakfast a note was brought to Richard, who immediately handed it to Edith. Breaking the seal, and glancing at the name at the end, she exclaimed, “It’s from Mr. St. Claire, and he says,— let me see:
Grassy spring, Oct. 18—
“Dear Sir:—A wholly unexpected event makes it necessary for me to be absent from home for the next few weeks. During this time my house will be shut up, and I shall be very glad if in her daily rides Miss Hastings will occasionally come round this way and see that everything is straight. I would like much to give the keys into her charge, knowing as I do that I can trust her. The books in my library are at her disposal, as is also the portfolio of drawings, which I will leave upon the writing table.
“When I return, and have become somewhat domesticated, I hope to have her for my pupil, as proposed yesterday. Please let me know at once if she is willing to take charge of my keys.
Arthur st. Claire.”
“What does he mean?” asked Edith, as she finished reading this note aloud. “What does he wish me to do?”
“Why,” returned Richard, “He is to shut up his house, which, being brick, will naturally become damp, and I suppose he wishes you to air it occasionally, by opening the windows and letting in the sunlight.
“Wishes me, in short, to perform a servant’s duty,” said Edith, haughtily. “Very well, I’ll do it. Perhaps it will pay my tuition in part; who knows?” and in spite of Richard’s remonstrances, she seized a pen and dashed off the following:
“Mr. St. Claire:
“Dear Sir,—Miss Hastings accepts the great honor of looking after your house, and will see that nothing gets mouldy during your absence.”
In haste, Richard Harrington, “Per Edith Hastings.”
“P.S. Will you have her clean it before you return?”
“Edith!” and Richard’s voice was very stern. “Arthur St. Claire never intended to insult you and you shall not send that note. Tear it up at once.”
Edith stood a moment irresolute, while her eyes flashed with indignation, but she had been too long accustomed to obey the man, who, groping his way to her side, stood commandingly before her to resist his authority now, and mechanically tearing the note in pieces, she tossed them into the fire.
“Victor,” said Richard, wishing to spare Edith the mortification of writing a second answer, “tell the man from Grassy Spring that Mr. St. Claire can leave his keys at Collingwood.”
Victor departed with the message, and Edith, somewhat recovered from her pet, said,
“Isn’t it queer, though, that Mr. St. Claire should ask to leave his keys with me? One would suppose he’d trust his cousin to rummage his goods and chattels sooner than a stranger.”