possible care of her, and do all I can to make her happy, if only you will consent to lend her to me. I shall consider it such a favour. And it is to cost you nothing. You understand, Doctor, she is to be my guest all through. That is a point I want to make clear in the outset; for she goes for my sake, and I cannot take her on any other conditions. Now, Dr Carr, please, please! I am sure you won't deny me, when I have so set my heart upon having her.'

Mrs Ashe was very pretty and persuasive, but still Dr Carr hesitated. To send Katy for a year's pleasuring in Europe was a thing that had never occurred to him as possible. The cost alone would have prevented it, for country doctors with six children are not apt to be rich men, even in the limited and old-fashioned construction of the word `wealth'. It seemed equally impossible to let her go at Mrs Ashes expense: at the same time, the chance was such a good one, and Mrs Ashe so much in earnest and so urgent, that it was difficult to refuse point blank. He finally consented to take time for consideration before making his decision.

`I will talk it over with Katy,' he said. `The child ought to have a say in the matter; and whatever we decide, you must let me thank you in her name as well as my own for your great kindness in proposing it.'

`Doctor, I'm not kind at all, and I don't want to be thanked. My desire to take Katy with me to Europe is purely selfish. I am a lonely person, she went on, `I have no mother or sister, and no cousins of my own age. My brother's profession keeps him at sea; I scarcely ever see him. I have no one but a couple of old aunts, too feeble in health to travel with me or to be counted on in case of any emergency. You see, I am a real case for pity.'

Mrs Ashe spoke gaily, but her brown eyes were dim with tears as she ended her little appeal. Dr Carr, who was soft hearted where women were concerned, was touched. Perhaps his face showed it, for Mrs Ashe added in a more hopeful tone:

`But I won't tease any more. I know you will not refuse me unless you think it right and necessary, and,' she continued mischievously, `I have great faith in Katy as an ally. I am pretty sure that she will say that she wants to go.

And indeed Katy's cry of delight when the plan was proposed to her said that ficiently, without need of further explanation. To go to Europe for a year with Mrs Ashe and Amy seemed simply too delightful to be true. All the things she had heard about and read about - cathedrals, pictures, Alpine peaks, famous places, famous people - came rushing into her mind in a sort of bewildering tide as dazzling as it was overwhelming. Dr Carr's objections, his reluctance to part with her, melted before the radiance of her satisfaction. He had no idea that Katy would care so much about it. After all, it was a great chance - perhaps the only one of the sort that she would ever have. Mrs Ashe could well afford to give Katy this treat, he knew, and it was quite true what she said, that it was a favour to her as well as to Katy. This train of reasoning led to its natural results. Dr Carr began to waver in his mind.

But, the first excitement over, Katy's second thoughts were more sober ones. How could Papa manage without her for a whole year? she asked herself. He would miss her, she well knew; and might not the charge of the house be too much for Clover? The preserves were almost all made, that was one comfort, but there were the winter clothes to be seen to; Dorry needed new flannels, Elsie's dresses must be altered for Johnnie; there were cucumbers to pickle, and the coal to order! A host of housewifely cares began to troop through Katy's mind; a little pucker came into her forehead, and a worried look across the face which had been so bright a few minutes before.

Strange to say, it was that little pucker and the look of worry which decided Dr Carr.

`She is only twenty-one,' he reflected, `hardly out of childhood. I don't want her to settle into an anxious drudging state, and lose her youth with caring for us all. She shall go; though how we are to manage without her I don't see. Little Clover will have to come to the fore, and show what sort of stuff there is in her.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.