meant to be as steady as Bunker Hill Monument; but here I am again, worse than ever, for last quarter I didn’t say anything to father, he was so bothered by the loss of those ships just then, so things have mounted up confoundedly.”

“What have you done with all your money?”

“Hanged if I know.”

“Can’t you pay it anyway?”

“Don’t see how, as I haven’t a cent of my own, and no way of getting it, unless I try gambling.”

“Oh, mercy, no! Sell your horse,” cried Polly, after a minute of deep meditation.

“I have! but he didn’t bring half I gave for him. I lamed him last winter, and the beggar won’t get over it.”

“And that didn’t pay up the debts?”

“Only about a third of ’em.”

“Why, Tom, how much do you owe?”

“I have dodged figuring it up till yesterday; then things were so desperate, I thought I might as well face the truth, so I overhauled my accounts, and there’s the result.”

Tom threw a blotted, crumpled paper into Polly’s lap, and tramped up and down again, faster than ever. Polly took one look at the total, and clasped her hands, for to her inexperienced eyes it looked appalling.

“Tidy little sum, isn’t it?” asked Tom, who couldn’t bear the silence, or the startled, grieved look in Polly’s eyes.

“It’s awful! I don’t wonder you dread telling your father.”

“I’d rather be shot. I say, Polly, suppose we break it to him easy!” added Tom, after another turn.

“How do you mean?”

“Why suppose Fan, or, better still, you go and sort of pave the way. I can’t bear to come down on him with the whole truth at once.”

“So you’d like to have me go and tell him for you?” Polly’s lip curled a little as she said that, and she gave Tom a look that would have shown him how blue eyes can flash, if he had seen it. But he was at the window, and didn’t turn, as he said slowly,—

“Well, you see, he so fond of you; we all confide in you; and you are so like one of the family, that it seems quite natural. Just tell him I’m expelled, you know, and as much more as you like; then I’ll come in, and we’ll have it out.”

Polly rose and went to the door without a word. In doing so, Tom caught a glimpse of her face, and said hastily,—

“Don’t you think it would be a good plan?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Why not? Don’t you think he’d rather have it told him nicely by you, than blurted out as I always do blurt things?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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