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“Wish me luck, Dodger!”
“So I do, Florence. Are you goin’ to begin teachin’ this mornin’?”
“Yes; and I hope to produce a favorable impression. It is very important to me to please Mrs. Leighton and my future pupil.”
“I’m sure you’ll suit. How nice you look!”
Florence smiled, and looked pleased. She had taken pains with her dress and personal appearance, and, being luckily well provided with handsome dresses, had no difficulty in making herself presentable. As she stepped out of the shabby doorway upon the sidewalk no one supposed her to be a tenant, but she was generally thought to be a visitor, perhaps the agent of some charitable association.
“Perhaps all will not judge me as favorably as you do, Dodger,” said Florence, with a laugh.
“If you have the headache any day, Florence, I’ll take your place.”
“You would look rather young for a tutor, Dodger, and I am afraid you would not be dignified. Good-morning! I shall be back to dinner.”
“I am glad to find you punctual, Miss Linden,” said Mrs. Leighton, as Florence was ushered into her presence. “This is your pupil, my daughter, Carrie.”
Florence smiled and extended her hand.
“I hope we will like each other,” she said.
The little girl eyed her with approval. This beautiful young lady was a pleasant surprise to her, for, never having had a governess, she expected to meet a stiff, elderly lady, of stern aspect. She readily gave her hand to Florence, and looked relieved.
“Carrie,” said Mrs. Leighton, “you may show Miss Linden the way to the schoolroom.”
“All right, mamma,” and the little girl led the way upstairs to a back room on the third floor.
“So this is to be our schoolroom, is it, Carrie?” said Florence. “It is a very pleasant room.”
“Yes; but I should have preferred the front chamber. Mamma thought that I might be looking into the street too much. Here there is only a back yard, and nothing to look at.”
“Your mamma seems very judicious,” said Florence, smiling. “Are you fond of study?”
“Well, I ain’t exactly fond, but I will do my best.”
“That is all that can be expected.”
“Do you know, Miss Linden, you don’t look at all like I expected.”
“Am I to be glad or sorry for that?”
“I thought you would be an old maid, stiff and starched, like May Robinson’s governess.”
“I am not married, Carrie, so perhaps you may regard me as an old maid.”
“You’ll never be an old maid,” said Carrie, confidently. “You are too young and pretty.”
“Thank you, Carrie,” said Florence, with a little blush. “You say that, I hope, because you are going to like me.”
“I like you already,” said the little girl, impulsively. “I’ve got a cousin that will like you, too.”
“A young girl?”
“No; of course not. He is a young man. His name is Percy de Brabazon. It is a funny name, isn’t it? You see, his father was a Frenchman.”
Florence was glad that she already knew from Percy’s own mouth of the relationship, as it saved her from showing a degree of surprise that might have betrayed her acquaintance with the young man.
“What makes you think your cousin would like me, Carrie?”
“Because he always likes pretty girls. He is a masher.”
“That’s slang, Carrie. I am sure your mamma wouldn’t approve your using such a word.”
“Don’t tell her. It just slipped out. But about Percy—he wants very much to be married.”
Florence was not surprised to hear this, for she had the best reason for knowing it to be true.
“Is he a handsome young man?” she asked, demurely.
“He’s funny looking. He’s awful good-natured, but he isn’t the sort of young man I would like,” concluded Carrie, with amusing positiveness.
“I hope you don’t let your mind run on such things. You are quite too young.”
“Oh, I don’t think much about it. But Percy is a dude. He spends a sight for clothes. He always looks as if he had just come out of a bandbox.”
“Is he in any business?”
“No; he has an independent fortune, so mamma says. He was in Europe last year.”
“I think, Carrie, we must give up talking and attend to business. I should have checked you before, but I thought a little conversation would help us to get acquainted. Now show me your books, and I will assign your lessons.”
“Don’t give me too long lessons, please, Miss Linden.”
“I will take care not to task you beyond your strength. I don’t want my pupil to grow sick on my hands.”
“I hope you won’t be too strict. When May Robinson makes two mistakes her governess makes her learn her lessons over again.”
“I will promise not to be too strict. Now let me see your books.”
The rest of the forenoon was devoted to study.
Florence was not only an excellent scholar, but she had the art of imparting knowledge, and, what is very important, she was able in a few luminous words to explain difficulties and make clear what seemed to her pupil obscure.
So the time slipped quickly and pleasantly away, and it was noon before either she or her pupil realized it.
“It can’t be twelve,” said Carrie, surprised.
“Yes, it is. We must defer further study till to-morrow.”
“Why, it is a great deal pleasanter than going to school, Miss Linden. I dreaded studying at home, but now I like it.”
“I hope you will continue to, Carrie. I can say that the time has passed away pleasantly for me.”
As Florence prepared to resume her street dress, Carrie said:
“Oh, I forgot! Mamma asked me to invite you to stay to lunch with me. I take lunch as soon as school is out, at twelve o’clock, so I won’t detain you long.”
“Thank you, Carrie; I will stay with pleasure.”
“I am glad of that, for I don’t like to sit down to the table alone. Mamma is never here at this time. She goes out shopping or making calls, so poor I have to sit down to the table alone. It will be ever so much pleasure to have you with me.”
Florence was by no means sorry to accept the invitation.
The meals she got at home were by no means luxurious, and the manner of serving them was by no means what she enjoyed.
Mrs. O’Keefe, though a good friend and a kindhearted woman, was not a model housekeeper, and Florence had been made fastidious by her early training. Lunch was, of course, a plain meal, but what was furnished was of the best quality, and the table service was such as might be expected in a luxurious home.
Just as Florence was rising from the table, Mrs. Leighton entered the room in street dress.
“I am glad you remained to lunch, Miss Linden,” she said. “You will be company for my little girl, who is very sociable. Carrie, I hope you were a good girl, and gave Miss Linden no trouble.”
“Ask Miss Linden, mamma,” said Carrie, confidently.
“Indeed, she did very well,” said Florence. “I foresee that we shall get along admirably.”
“I am glad to hear that. She is apt to be indolent.”
“I won’t be with Miss Linden, mamma. She makes the studies so interesting.”
After Florence left the house, Carrie pronounced an eulogium upon her which led Mrs. Leighton to congratulate herself upon having secured a governess who had produced so favorable an impression on her little girl.
“Was you kept after school, Florence?” asked Dodger, as she entered her humble home. “I am afraid you’ll find your dinner cold.”
“Never mind, Dodger. I am to take dinner—or lunch, rather—at the house where I am teaching; so hereafter Mrs. O’Keefe need not wait for me.”
“And how do you like your place?”
“It is everything that is pleasant. You wished me good luck, Dodger, and your wish has been granted.”
“I was lucky, too, Florence. I’ve made a dollar and a quarter this mornin’.”
“Not by selling papers, surely?”
“Not all. A gentleman gave me fifty cents for takin’ his valise to the Long Branch boat.”
“It seems we are both getting rich,” said Florence, smiling.
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