“I am proud of my daughter,” he said; “proud that no one at Madam Truxton’s excelled my own Leah. I am proud of your example to your sisters, and trust they will strive to emulate it.”
“Thank you, father. I hope I shall never cause you shame,” she replied with tenderness.
During this brief dialogue, the evil-eyed mother had sat an attentive listener, her jealous nature stirred to its depths. Then she said:
“If you are so proud of Leah now, what will you feel when Sarah is through school?”
“Additional happiness, I trust; and following her sister’s example, she cannot disappoint papa,” said Mr. Mordecai, stroking Sarah upon the head softly, as he arose and led the way to the breakfast table.
The morning repast was finished with more than becoming haste, for Mr. Mordecai had waited to welcome his daughter, and would consequently be late at his bank.
“It’s real late,” said Leah, as she followed her father from the house. “I hear the Citadel clock striking ten. I must spend the morning with Lizzie.” Then donning the light Leghorn hat that gave her a gypsy-like appearance, she started forth toward Rev. Dr. Heartwell’s unpretentious house. As she passed block and square that marked the distance, her heart was heavy and her thoughts were sorrowful. She realized that it was perhaps her final leave—taking of her most cherished friend. Her path led past the walls of the dark, gray citadel, and as she cast a glance up toward its turreted heights, and its prison-like windows, she sighed a deep-drawn, heart-felt sigh. And why?
The gentle sea-breeze had arisen, and though it sported with the helpless ribbon upon her bosom, and kissed again and again the crimson cheeks, it could not cool the fires of anxiety and sorrow that burned within her heart. She felt that she was losing much in losing Lizzie Heartwell. And the fear was not an idle one.
Trembling with fatigue and deep-hidden emotion, Leah at length stood at the door of Dr. Heartwell’s house, awaiting the answer of the porter.
The door opened. “M-m-miss L-l-lizzie s-s-says c-c-come right u-up stairs, M-m-iss M-m-ordecai,” stuttered out the polished black Hannibal who attended the door, known throughout the large circle of Dr. Heartwell’s friends and acquaintances as a most accomplished servant and a most miserable stammerer.
“Very well; please show me the way,” replied Leah, repressing a smile.
Up two flights of stairs she followed the dark guide, and when they arrived at Lizzie’s room, whose door stood ajar, he said, with a flourish of his right hand; “M-m-iss M-m-mordecai, M-m-iss L-l-lizzie.”
“Well, Hannibal, why don’t you tell me?” said Lizzie playfully; and Hannibal retreated below stairs, grinning and rubbing his head in confusion. The girls were left alone. Lizzie was busy packing trunks and arranging boxes, while every description of feminine paraphernalia was lying about the room in disorder.