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Work: A Story of Experience
Louisa May Alcott
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A FORTNIGHT later, and Christie was off. Mrs. Flint had briefly answered that she had
a room, and that work was always to be found in the city. So the girl packed her one
trunk, folding away splendid hopes among her plain gowns, and filling every corner with
happy fancies, utterly impossible plans, and tender little dreams, so lovely at the time, so
pathetic to remember, when contact with the hard realities of life has collapsed our bright
bubbles, and the frost of disappointment nipped all our morning glories in their prime.
The old red stage stopped at Enos Devon's door, and his niece crossed the threshold after
a cool handshake with the master of the house, and a close embrace with the mistress,
who stood pouring out last words with spectacles too dim for seeing. Fat Ben swung up
the trunk, slammed the door, mounted his perch, and the ancient vehicle swayed with
premonitory symptoms of departure.
Then something smote Christie's heart. "Stop!" she cried, and springing out ran back into
the dismal room where the old man sat. Straight up to him she went with outstretched
hand, saying steadily, though her face was full of feeling:
"Uncle, I'm not satisfied with that good-bye. I don't mean to be sentimental, but I do want
to say, 'Forgive me!' I see now that I might have made you sorry to part with me, if I had
tried to make you love me more. It's too late now, but I'm not too proud to confess when
I'm wrong. I want to part kindly; I ask your pardon; I thank you for all you've done for
me, and I say good-bye affectionately now."
Mr. Devon had a heart somewhere, though it seldom troubled him; but it did make itself
felt when the girl looked at him with his dead sister's eyes, and spoke in a tone whose
unaccustomed tenderness was a reproach.
Conscience had pricked him more than once that week, and he was glad to own it now;
his rough sense of honor was touched by her frank expression, and, as he answered, his
hand was offered readily.
"I like that, Kitty, and think the better of you for't. Let bygones be bygones. I gen'lly got
as good as I give, and I guess I deserved some on't. I wish you wal, my girl, I heartily
wish you wal, and hope you won't forgit that the old house ain't never shet aginst you."
Christie astonished him with a cordial kiss; then bestowing another warm hug on Aunt
Niobe, as she called the old lady in a tearful joke, she ran into the carriage, taking with
her all the sunshine of the place.
Christie found Mrs. Flint a dreary woman, with "boarders" written all over her sour face
and faded figure. Butcher's bills and house rent seemed to fill her eyes with sleepless
anxiety; thriftless cooks and saucy housemaids to sharpen the tones of her shrill voice;
and an incapable husband to burden her shoulders like a modern "Old man of the sea."
A little room far up in the tall house was at the girl's disposal for a reasonable sum, and
she took possession, feeling very rich with the hundred dollars Uncle Enos gave her, and
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