CHAPTER I ETHEL'S PLANS
The morning after Ethel had declared herself her mother came up to her room. She could see that Mrs. Hollister had not slept and her eyes were red from weeping. Ethel kissed her, saying:
"Mamma, we are going to be very happy together—you and I. I don't want to disappoint you, dear, nor would I do so willingly; but I simply can not live as I've been living. Sit down and let us talk."
Then she told of Aunt Susan,—of her kindness, unselfishness and self-sacrifice. She told of Mattie and how they had helped her, and of her Uncle John; of Patty and Judge Sands; and lastly of Kate and what a wonderful character she was.
"Wait, dear, I want to show you my ceremonial gown," and she quickly slipped it on. The girl's hair was still hanging unbound, having slept in it that way, and she hooked about it her coronation band. Said her mother:
"Well, I must say it is becoming. What a Pocahontas you would make in private theatricals!" she exclaimed with maternal pride; "But then, why should I speak of theatricals? You've given up all such things."
"Why, Mamma," laughed Ethel, "I'm not going into a convent. I have given up nothing but the unreal part of life."
"I suppose you'll tell everyone how poor we are, and how I have put you forward under false colors. Then people will despise me."
"No, Mamma, I shall not do a thing to put you in any awkward position. Keep on. Give your teas for me if you wish,—even have the two extra maids. It costs very little and we have a social time; it cheers Grandmamma and there's no need to stop them. But this is what I shall not do: First I shall tell Harvey Bigelow that Aunt Susan was once a millionaire but that she lost all of her money. I shall tell of her wonderful gifts to Akron,—of her charities, and how well she is beloved, but that I shall inherit no money from her. Harvey will tell his mother and she'll spread the news. If people care any the less for us after hearing it, let them go; but I don't propose to tell what Papa's salary is, or that you—poor dear—sit until morning sewing for me,—a thing that I'm not going to allow you to do any longer.
"Then I shall give up attending Madam's. Yes, don't start. Every bill Papa pays is a nail in his coffin, I know. Tomorrow I shall go to Barnard and try to pass an examination, and for one quarter what Madam charges I can get a sound and solid education, and were Papa to die I can leave with my teacher's diploma knowing something that will be of use to me. I could help support you and Grandmamma. What could I do were I forced to support myself after leaving Madam's. Why, an education such as her girls receive is of no earthly account unless for music or such accomplishments; but with a degree from Barnard I can earn good money. I am so glad that I am young and that I shall have a chance. You'll be proud of me, Mamma,—just wait and see," and she kissed her mother affectionately.
They went down to breakfast. Archibald Hollister listened to his daughter's plans....