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“ La, me!” cried Miss Angeline Louisa, “I wonder what Professor Tilden would say to our attending a district school! Come, what do you say to turning in with the ragged urchins of the canaille, Matilda Mandeville ?” she added, giggling outright at the thought.
“O, dear me ! how could one be so very vulgar?” exclaimed the fair sprig of gentility to whom the question was put.
“ And what does Miss Maverick think of this matter?” said the doctor, who, finding himself repulsed, as he had been forewarned, with the mother and daughters, now turned confidently to the niece before described ; “ what does Miss Maverick think ?” he repeated with an expression which he intended and believed she alone would rightly interpret, -“perhaps she is not so erudite but that she might attend our school awhile, with some benefit.”
The young lady thus addressed lifted her clear blue eyes to the shrewd interrogator, and turned upon him, as he concluded, a look of the most searching scrutiny. The next instant, however, that look lost all its severity, and melted into a sweet, appreciating smile, that told that she had read a compliment instead of disparagement, in the doubly significant words of the speaker.
“I am quite conscious of my deficiencies in the solid sciences, sir,” she replied ; " and I confess I have sometimes wished for an opportunity to study them more. If you have a well-qualified instructor, I have but little doubt that it might be more profitable for me” —
“ Now you are not in earnest, surely, are you, Mary?” interposed Miss Ann Lucretia ; “why, where can be your taste? What! leave our Academy of Elegant Literature, so very recherché, for a common district school, filled up with the mere rabble, and headed by a country rustic, no doubt, who perhaps never trod on a carpet in his life ?”
“Why, our notions vary a little in these particulars, you know, cousin Ann,” modestly replied the former. “But, were they alike, I know not but I ought to be willing to attend our district school, for the purpose of lessening the burden of expense to uncle Carter, who has so kindly paid the high tuition which your instructor asks, that I might have the same privilege with his own daughters.
“I suppose Mary wishes to keep in our circle of society?" significantly remarked the old lady.
“Why, who could think of such a thing as going to a district school ?” said Miss Angeline Louisa; “I should be ashamed to have people know I thought of the thing."
“Indeed, so should I,” chimed in the delicate lisper, Miss Matilda Mandeville ; " for common schoolmasters are nothing but pedagogues, and they are the ones, you know, that Professor Tilden laughs so much about.”
The conversation was here interrupted by another peal of the bell; and, in a moment more, the notable personage to whom the young ladies had so often alluded in the foregoing discussion, was shown into the apartment. He was a man something under thirty, dressed in the extremes of fashion, and of manners which he evidently considered very Chesterfieldian. He bowed with an attitude on entering; and, as soon as he had disengaged himself from the three besieging sisters, who all sprang forward to meet him at the door, he advanced to a proffered seat, with a patronizing nod to the doctor, a distant “how d'ye do” to the still seated Mary, and a superb double congee to Mrs. Carter.”
In the black-bird chit-chat that now sprang up between the sisters and their elegant professor, Lincoln found opportunity to speak with Miss Maverick alone.
“ Now for your decision, Miss Maverick,” he said.
“On the subject you were speaking of when he entered ? » she asked; 0, I have come to no decision, sir.”
“ What would your father have advised in such a case, Miss Maverick ?” persisted the former.
“ You are quite a skilful pleader, doctor,” replied the other, with a melancholy, yet arch smile ; “ are you sure you did not mistake your profession ?”
“No,” said the doctor, smiling in surprise and admiration ; “ but what other girl would have taken that view of the drift of my question ? If, however, you think I am appealing to what I might well suppose would be, with you, unanswerable authority, for the purpose of carrying some selfish point only, you are mistaken. I will therefore press the question.”
“My father,” said Mary, “as perhaps you may know, sir, was very anxious that I should first secure the solid sciences, and kept me at those schools where he thought I could study such of them as suited my age, to the best advantage. He even taught me in them, a part of the time, himself.”
“ Then I have your opinion in this matter — have I not ?"
“Perhaps not; for, as unsuitable as I have felt my late course of study to be, for me at least, I have seen but little chance of pursuing any other with the hope of good instruction in your school, with the instructors you have lately had.”
“There is something in your observation, doubtless, Miss Maverick; but we shall have a different instructor this winter.”
“Do you know him personally, that you can answer for his qualifications ?”
“I do. He is a scholar and a gentleman. Now shall I not have your decision ? I know it will require some nerve to stem certain currents. But, as your father's friend, let me advise you to do it.”
“I know,” rejoined Mary, with a moistened eye, and other evidences of tender emotion, “I know you were my good father's friend, and he yours. And I thank you kindly, Dr. Lincoln, for the interest you take in me. But I cannot now
answer your question. I must first consult uncle Carter. I am too much indebted to him to take any step which he might disapprove, whatever my own opinion should happen to be."
The doctor now took his leave of the family, and, after seeking out Mr. Carter at his store, and saying a few words to him in private, returned to his own happy abode.
“There in his noisy mansion skill'd to rule,
On repairing to his school-house, the next morning, for the purpose of commencing his winter's task, Amsden unexpectedly found, among the pupils there assembled, and awaiting his coming, one whose appearance instantly attracted his attention, and awakened in his bosom a lively and peculiar interest. This was no other than Mary Maverick, the dependent orphan, who, on Dr. Lincoln's warrant of having a qualified teacher, had nobly braved the ridicule of her fashionable cousins, and the sneers of their arrogant professor, and come here to pursue those studies and receive that instruction which her own excellent judgment told her would most truly accomplish her, not only for the duties, but for the elegancies of life. Often did the former, during the forenoon, while engaged in ascertaining the intended studies of the different portions of his school, and arranging his classes, detect his attracted vision stealing in half-involuntary glances to the face of his fair pupil. He felt a vague though deepening impression that he had seen that remarkable countenance before; but it was rather a sensation of the heart than a recollection of the mind; for where or when he could have seen her, his taxed memory refused to inform him. And every effort he made to form a conclusion on the subject but added to his perplexity. Nor did the object of his mental inquiry herself seem wholly at ease in her posi