Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

POPLAR HOUSE ACADEMY.

CHAPTER I.

Somewhat back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned country-seat;
Across its antique portico

Tall poplar trees their shadows throw;
And, from its station in the hall,

An antique time-piece says to all,

'For ever! never!

Never! for ever!'

LONGFELLOW: The Old Clock on the Stairs.

OW well I remember that evening! My

HO

H two sisters sat looking into the fire, and

I could see that Jacintha's heart was swelling; while tears silently rolled down Marian's cheeks. "Yes, I suppose that must be it," said Ja

B

[ocr errors]

cintha reluctantly at last. We need not have troubled ourselves to consider whether we could consent to receive my father's protection, since he has placed us beyond the pale of it."

"And thereby relieved us of a difficulty," said I; suggesting a comfort that I felt was a very poor one.

"The only thing is the disgrace," said Jacintha, knitting her brow a little.

“Oh, there's the sin!" ejaculated poor Marian; and tears at the same moment streamed so fast from her eyes, that ours sympathetically burst forth.

"This won't do-" said Jacintha at last, after crying very heartily.

"Any good," added I, as if she had not finished her sentence. "No, that's quite certain. Come, let us all cheer up a little."

"How can we ?" said Marian, trying to smile, and lapsing into tears again.

"Marian, you're eighteen. Jacintha and I are old women in comparison. Indeed, I am an old maid really, and have been ever since I was born; and Jacintha will be, if she lives to be old enough."

"Well, what then?"

"What then?

Why, Jacintha and I not

being quite so young and tender as you, do not feel things quite so keenly-though we do feel them bitterly, too."

"That's one comfort—I mean it is a comfort that you don't feel them so keenly," said Marian, drying her eyes; "because I know very well that I do feel things too much, and I will cure myself if I can, and when I canonly I can't do it all at once"—with a sweet, April smile.

"Of course you can't. But, as I'm the eldest, you know it is my province to preach a little. Now, let us all compose ourselves, and

have tea comfortably, and then talk over what is to be done."

"Oh, let us talk over what is to be done first, and have tea afterwards, please," said Marian. "Yes, I'm for that, too," said Jacintha, "unless Isabella particularly wishes for tea." "Oh no,” said I, “I can wait—” (though I should have liked it.)

"Well then, now for it :-Here are we three spinsters, bereaved of our dear mother by death, and of our father by his suddenly quitting the kingdom with every penny he can lay his hands on-leaving us with nothing-"

"Except his debts," said Jacintha.

"No, we are not liable to them :-except this house, I was going to say, which, luckily, was settled on my mother and her children-and fifty pounds a year each."

"" On which we must starve," said Jacintha. "Unless we do something," said I.

"Which of course we shall!" cried Marian. "I'm ready, for one. Let me be the first! I'll go out as governess, and then you two will have time to look about you and let the house. Dear old house!" said she, looking wistfully round.

66

Marian, what nonsense!" cried Jacintha. "I shall be the one to go out first; you're too young-who would have such a chit ?"

"I know I could not command such a salary as you could," said Marian, meekly.

"No, certainly you couldn't, though you are twice as clever as I am, and much better read, and more popular with children—”

Oh, Jacintha! how can you say so? You are all that, and more! I know very well I'm not equal to you; still, I might do something, and we can but do our best, you know—”

"There's only one thing, Marian, in which I am your superior-and that is, in age. I'm ten years older, and shall therefore fetch ten

« VorigeDoorgaan »