Lizzie put her arm around her friend, and the two girls walked out into the court-yard, that formed a play-ground for the younger scholars and a pleasant promenade for the older ones, and then turned aside upon the brick walk that connected the kitchen and servants’ hall with the main building.
This brick walk, covered overhead by the piazza floor of the second story of the wing of the building, was securely protected in all kinds of weather. As Leah and Lizzie turned upon this promenade, Bertha Levy came skipping up to them with a merry bound, saying:
“Come girls, let’s have a game of graces. Helen is willing. Here she is. What do you say?”
“Excuse me this morning, Bertha,” Leah replied. “I do not feel well; my head aches, and perhaps I can walk it away!”
“Oh! yes, certainly; but you are as solemn as an owl, of late, Leah; what is the matter with you? Do you contemplate taking the veil? If so, is it the white or the black veil?”
“Our people never take the veil, Bertha. Do you forget?” replied Leah reproachfully.
“Forgive me, dear, I meant no harm. But I am in a hurry. Dame Truxton will have that old bell sounded directly, and my game of graces not even begun. I wish the old thing was still in its native ore, and not always ready to call us into trouble;” and so saying, Bertha skipped away, calling, “Here, Mag Lawton, Mary Pinckney, come and play graces.”
For a moment Lizzie and Leah stood watching the group as it formed, and admiring the graceful movements of the hoops as they flew from the fairylike wands of the girls. “That game is well called,” said Lizzie, as Leah caught her arm again and said:
“Come, let’s walk on.” Then, after a pause, she continued, “I found your note, Lizzie, and I am sorry that I have such a telltale face; but I am unhappy, Lizzie; yes, I am miserable, and I cannot conceal it. I would not obtrude my sorrow upon others, but it is my face and not my tongue that betrays me.”
“Do not think, Leah, I beg you, that I would seek to pry into the secret of your heart,” responded Lizzie; “but I thought if you were in trouble, maybe I might in some way comfort you.”
“I thank you, dear, dear Lizzie, for your sympathy”—and a tear fell from the lustrous lashes of the Jewess; “I thank you again and again,” she continued, “but nothing you can do can alleviate my sorrow.”
“Well, you can trust me for sympathy and love always, whether that will comfort you or not, Leah; be your trouble what it may.”
“Mine is no sudden grief, Lizzie; it is a long, sad story, one that I have never felt at liberty to inflict upon any one’s hearing, and yet, I have always found you so tender and so true, that when any additional sorrow comes to me my heart strangely turns to you for sympathy. I know not why. Can you tell me?”
“We always turn to those who love us, I think, in hours of darkness.”