The Camp Fire Girls in the Outside World

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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Walking slowly down a broad stairway, a girl carried three old silver candlesticks in her hands. And although the hallway was in semi-darkness, the candles had not yet been lighted. It was a cold November afternoon and the great house was chill and silent.

Entering the drawing room, she placed the candles upon the mantelpiece. Her breath was like a small gray cloud before her; and her dress, too, was the color of the mist and soft and clinging.

"Work, health and love," she murmured quietly, striking a match and watching the candles flicker and flare until finally they burned with a steady glow. "If one has these three things in life as I have, what else is worth worrying over?" Then the sigh that came in answer to her own question almost extinguished the candle flames.

"There are bills and boarders of course—too many of the first and at present none of the second," she added with a kind of whimsical smile. "But, oh dear, what a trying Thanksgiving day this has been, when even the Camp Fire ideals won't comfort me! Dick 'way off in Germany, Polly and Esther studying in New York and me face to face with my failure to save the old house. It is not worth while pretending; the house must be sold and mother and I shall have to find some other place to live. In the morning I will go and tell Judge Maynard that I give up."

Sadly Betty Ashton glanced about the familiar room. The portraits of her New England ancestors appeared to gaze coldly and reproachfully down upon her. They had not been of the stuff of which failures are made. Her grand piano was closed and dusty, the window blinds were partly pulled down, and although a fire was laid in the grate, it was not burning. Dust, cold and an unaccustomed atmosphere of neglect enveloped everything.

With a lifting of her head and a tightening of her lips that gave her face a new expression, the girl suddenly pulled open a table drawer and began fiercely to polish the top of the piano while she talked.

"There is no reason why I should allow this place to look so dismal just because things have gone wrong with my efforts to keep boarders and continue my work at school. As no one is coming to see me I can't afford a fire, but I'll open the piano and place Esther's song, 'The Soul's Desire,' on the music rack, just as though she were at home to sing it for me. Dick's dull old books shall lie here on the table where he used to leave them, near this red rose that John Everett brought me this morning. Somehow the rose makes me think of Polly. It is so radiant. How curious that certain persons suggest certain colors! Now Polly is often pale as a ghost, and yet red always makes me recall her."

A few moments afterwards and Betty moved toward the front window and stood there staring out into the street, too deep in thought to be actually conscious of what she was doing.

She had changed in the past six months of struggle with poverty and work beyond her strength. There were shadows under her gray eyes and worried lines about the corners of her mouth....