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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 28

20 th

Little Clo came over to-night. I believe she thinks Aunt Winifred the best friend she has in the world. Auntie has become much attached to all her scholars, and has a rare power of winning her way into their confidence. They come to her with all then-little interests,—everything, from saving their souls to trimming a bonnet. Clo, however, is the favourite, as I predicted.

She looked a bit blue to-night, as girls will look; in fact, her face always has a tinge of sadness about it. Aunt Winifred, understanding at a glance that the child was not in a mood to talk before a third, led her away into the garden, and they were gone a long time. When it grew dark, I saw them coming up the path, Clo's hand locked in her teacher's, and her face, which was wet, upturned like a child's. They strolled to the gate, lingered a little to talk, and then Clo said good night without coming in. Auntie sat for a while after she had gone, thinking her over, I could see.

"Poor thing!" she said at last, half to herself, half to me,—"poor little foolish thing! This is where the dreadful individuality of a human soul irks me. There comes a point beyond which you cant help people."

"What has happened to Clo?"

"Nothing, lately. It has been happening for two years. Two page 82 miserable years are an eternity at Clo's age. It is the old story,—a summer boarder; a little flirting; a little dreaming; a little pain; then antumn, and the nuts dropping on the leaves, and he was gone,—and knew not what he did,—and the child waked up. There was the future; to bake and sweep, to go to sewing-circles, and sing in the choir, and bear the moonlight nights,—and she loved him. She has lived through two years of it, and she loves him now. Reason will not reach such a passion in a girl like Clo. I did not tell her that she would put it away with other girlish things, and laugh at it herself some happy day, as women have laughed at their young fancies before her; partly because that would be a certain way of repelling her confidence,—she does not believe it, and my believing could not make her; partly because I am not quite sure about it myself. Clo has a good deal of the woman about her, her introspective life is intense. She may cherish this sweet misery as she does her musical tastes, till it has struck deep root. There is nothing in the excellent Mrs. Bentley's household, nor in Homer anywhere, to draw the girl out from herself in time to prevent the dream from becoming a reality."

"Poor little thing! What did you say to her?"

"You ought to have heard what she said to me! I wish I were at liberty to tell you the whole story. What troubles her most is that it is not going to help the matter any to die. 'O Mrs. Forceythe,' she says, in a tone that is enough to give the heart-ache, even to such an old woman as Mrs. Forceythe, 'O Mrs. Forceythe, what is going to become of me up there? He never loved me, you see, and he never, never will, and he will have some beautiful, good wife of his own, and I won't have any body! For I can't love anybody else,—I've tried; I tried just as hard as I could to love my cousin 'Bin; he's real good, and—I'm—afraid 'Bin likes me, though I guess he likes his carpet-sweepers better. O, sometimes I think, and think, till it seems as if I could not bear it! I don't see how God can make me happy. I wish I could be buried up and go to sleep, and never have any heaven!'"

"And you told her——?"

"That she should have him there. That is, if not himself, some-thing,—somebody who would so much more than fill his place, that she would never have a lonely or unloved minute. Her eyes brightened, and shaded, and pondered, doubting. She 'didn't see how it could ever be.' I told her not to try and see how, but to leave it to Christ. He knew all about this little trouble of hers, and he would make it right. 'Will he?' she questioned, sighing; 'but there are so many of us! There's 'Bin, and a plenty more, and I don't see how it's going to be smoothed out. Everything is in a jumble, Mrs. Forceythe, don't you see? for some people can't like and keep liking so many times.' Something came into my mind about the rough places that shall be made plain, and the crooked things straight. I tried to explain to her, and at last I kissed away her tears, and sent her home, if not exactly comforted, a little less miserable, I think, than when she came. Ah, well,—I wonder page 83 myself sometimes about these 'crooked things;' but though I wonder, I never doubt."

She finished her sentence somewhat hurriedly, and half started from her chair, raising both hands with a quick involuntary motion that attracted my notice. The lights came in just then, and, unless I am much mistaken, her face showed paler than usual; but when I asked her if she felt faint, she said, "O no, I believe I am a little tired, and will go to bed."