Instead of thinking about her first evening dress, Molly found pupils to whom she could give music lessons. She found handkerchiefs that she could embroider with initials. And she found fruit that she could make into preserves. That machine called the typewriter was then in existence, but the day of women typewriters had as yet scarcely begun to dawn, else I think Molly would have preferred this occupation to the handkerchiefs and the preserves.

There were people in Bennington who “wondered how Miss Wood could go about from house to house teaching the piano, and she a lady.” There always have been such people, I suppose, because the world must always have a rubbish heap. But we need not dwell upon them further than to mention one other remark of theirs regarding Molly. They all with one voice declared that Sam Bannett was good enough for anybody who did fancy embroidery at five cents a letter.

“I dare say he had a great-grandmother quite as good as hers,” remarked Mrs. Flynt, the wife of the Baptist minister.

“That’s entirely possible,” returned the Episcopal rector of Hoosic, “only we don’t happen to know who she was.” The rector was a friend of Molly’s. After this little observation, Mrs. Flynt said no more, but continued her purchases in the store where she and the rector had happened to find themselves together. Later she stated to a friend that she had always thought the Episcopal Church a snobbish one, and now she knew it.

So public opinion went on being indignant over Molly’s conduct. She could stoop to work for money, and yet she pretended to hold herself above the most rising young man in Hoosic Falls, and all just because there was a difference in their grandmothers!

Was this the reason at the bottom of it? The very bottom? I cannot be certain, because I have never been a girl myself. Perhaps she thought that work is not a stooping, and that marriage may be. Perhaps-- But all I really know is that Molly Wood continued cheerfully to embroider the handkerchiefs, make the preserves, teach the pupils--and firmly to reject Sam Bannett.

Thus it went on until she was twenty. There certain members of her family began to tell her how rich Sam was going to be--was, indeed, already. It was at this time that she wrote Mrs. Balaam her doubts and her desires as to migrating to Bear Creek. It was at this time also that her face grew a little paler, and her friends thought that she was overworked, and Mrs. Flynt feared she was losing her looks. It was at this time, too, that she grew very intimate with that great-aunt over at Dunbarton, and from her received much comfort and strengthening.

“Never!” said the old lady, “especially if you can’t love him.” “I do like him,” said Molly; “and he is very kind.” “Never!” said the old lady again. “When I die, you’ll have something--and that will not be long now.” Molly flung her arms around her aunt, and stopped her words with a kiss. And then one winter afternoon, two years later, came the last straw.

The front door of the old house had shut. Out of it had stepped the persistent suitor. Mrs. Flynt watched him drive away in his smart sleigh.

“That girl is a fool!” she said furiously; and she came away from her bedroom window where she had posted herself for observation.

Inside the old house a door had also shut. This was the door of Molly’s own room. And there she sat, in floods of tears. For she could not bear to hurt a man who loved her with all the power of love that was in him.

It was about twilight when her door opened, and an elderly lady came softly in.

“My dear,” she ventured, “and you were not able--”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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