"You are the comfort of my life, Effie. If you make up your mind to go
away, what is to become of me?"
The speaker was a middle-aged woman. She was lying on a sofa in a shabby
little parlor. The sofa was covered with horse-hair, the room had a
faded paper, and faded chintz covered the shabby furniture. The woman's
pleading words were emphasized by her tired eyes and worn face. She
looked full at the young girl to whom she spoke.
"What shall I do without you, and what will your father say?"
"I have made up my mind," said Effie. "I don't want to be unkind to you,
mother,--I love you more than words can say,--but I must go out into the
world. I must live my life like other girls."
"You had none of these ideas until you met Dorothy Fraser."
"Yes, I have had them for a long time; Dorothy has given them emphasis,
that's all. Dorothy's mother did not like her to go away, but now she is
glad. She says that nothing has made Dorothy into so fine a woman as
taking her life into her own hands, and making the best she can of it.
Before I go, mother, I will get Agnes to learn all my duties; she shall
help you. She is nearly fourteen; she ought to be of use to you, ought
"She would not be like you," replied Mrs. Staunton. "She is very young,
remember, and is at school most of the day. I won't argue with you,
Effie, but it tires me even to think of it."
Effie sighed. She bent down and kissed her mother. Her words had sounded
hard and almost defiant, but there was nothing at all hard or defiant
about her sweet face. She was a dark-eyed girl, and looked as if she
might be any age between seventeen and twenty. There was a likeness
between her and her mother quite sufficient to show their relationship;
both faces were softly curved, both pairs of eyes were dark, and the
mother must have been even prettier in her youth than the daughter was