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Work: A Story of Experience
Louisa May Alcott
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BEFORE she had time to find a new situation, Christie received a note from Miss Tudor,
saying that hearing she had left Mrs. Saltonstall she wanted to offer her the place of
companion to an invalid girl, where the duties were light and the compensation large.
"How kind of her to think of me," said Christie, gratefully. "I'll go at once and do my best
to secure it, for it must be a good thing or she wouldn't recommend it."
Away went Christie to the address sent by Miss Tudor, and as she waited at the door she
"What a happy family the Carrols must be!" for the house was one of an imposing block
in a West End square, which had its own little park where a fountain sparkled in the
autumn sunshine, and pretty children played among the fallen leaves.
Mrs. Carrol was a stately woman, still beautiful in spite of her fifty years. But though
there were few lines on her forehead, few silver threads in the dark hair that lay smoothly
over it, and a gracious smile showed the fine teeth, an indescribable expression of
unsubmissive sorrow touched the whole face, betraying that life had brought some heavy
cross, from which her wealth could purchase no release, for which her pride could find no
She looked at Christie with a searching eye, listened attentively when she spoke, and
seemed testing her with covert care as if the place she was to fill demanded some unusual
gift or skill.
"Miss Tudor tells me that you read aloud well, sing sweetly, possess a cheerful temper,
and the quiet, patient ways which are peculiarly grateful to an invalid," began Mrs.
Carrol, with that keen yet wistful gaze, and an anxious accent in her voice that went to
"Miss Tudor is very kind to think so well of me and my few accomplishments. I have
never been with an invalid, but I think I can promise to be patient, willing, and cheerful.
My own experience of illness has taught me how to sympathize with others and love to
lighten pain. I shall be very glad to try if you think I have any fitness for the place."
"I do," and Mrs. Carrol's face softened as she spoke, for something in Christie's words or
manner seemed to please her. Then slowly, as if the task was a hard one, she added:
"My daughter has been very ill and is still weak and nervous. I must hint to you that the
loss of one very dear to her was the cause of the illness and the melancholy which now
oppresses her. Therefore we must avoid any thing that can suggest or recall this trouble.
She cares for nothing as yet, will see no one, and prefers to live alone. She is still so
feeble this is but natural; yet solitude is bad for her, and her physician thinks that a new
face might rouse her, and the society of one in no way connected with the painful past
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