“Now let me help you, dear,” said Leah, “and then we can have a long talk.”
“Thank you, so we will. I’ll first tumble these things into that trunk quick as a flash, for Aunt Rose will not come up to inspect them, I guess; and when I get home my mother will give them a good overhauling. I am tired and worn out from hard study and excitement, and my good mother will excuse my disorder, this time. Cram them in. Here goes the shawl, now comes my dress, the muslin I wore last night. Don’t let me crush that. I’ll fold it carefully, for the sake of the compliment it secured me last night,” said Lizzie, smiling as she turned the snowy garment about, folding it for the trunk.
“What was that?” said Leah.
“George Marshall said I looked like a pearl, my dress was so gauzy. How does that sound to-day? It sounded very well last night. I scarcely made him a reply. I don’t know how to reply to such speeches, but I thought if I did look like a pearl in my gauzy robes, it was owing to my mother’s good taste and skilful fingers, for no professional modiste touched or contrived my dress.”
“It’s as handsome as any Madame Aufait turns out, I think,” said Leah.
“Not as handsome as yours, Leah; but then my mother has to consider the cost in everything, and you do not.”
These words of Lizzie’s, this kind and loving allusion to her mother’s tenderness and never-wearying care, fell upon the heart of Leah as the cold, cruel steel falls upon the unoffending dove. She looked out of the window and brushed a tear from the fringed eyelids, that Lizzie might not see it.
Lizzie continued, “I must take care of this dress, Leah; I don’t know when I shall have a new one again. Maybe, dear, the next time you hear from me, I’ll be playing school—ma’am, and such robes will not be often brought into use. How would you like to be my pupil, Leah?” she said, with a forced attempt at pleasantry.
Leah looked seriously at her friend a moment, and said, “You haven’t any idea of teaching, really, Lizzie?”
“Yes, dear, I may teach. My mother is a widow, you know, and by no means wealthy. I am the oldest child. She has educated me at great sacrifice, with my dear uncle’s assistance, and it would be wrong in me not to show my gratitude by at least endeavoring to maintain myself, if nothing more. Oh yes, love, by and by I shall be an angular school—ma’am, unless”—and she laughed a roguish, merry laugh—“unless I get married.”
“Dear me! how the wind blows!” said Leah, as the white muslin curtain flapped backward and forward in the playful breeze, ever and anon covering her beautiful head and face.
“Yes, Leah, this same sweet sea-breeze will soon waft me far from you, when to meet again, God only knows. I am about through this packing now, and we must have our talk—our last, long, confidential chat, for many, many days.”—“Maybe years,” Leah added sorrowfully.