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Taking A Situation

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"Woll, girls," said my uncle Barnabas, "and now what do you propose to do about it ?" We sat around the fire in a disconsolate semi-circle, that dreary, drizzling May night, when the rain battered against the window panes, and the poor littlo daffodils iu the borders shook and shivered as ü they wonld fain hide thoir golden heads once more in the motherBoil. My mother, Eleauor aud I. The first, pale, and pretty, and silvered-haired with the widow's cap, and her dress of black bonibaziue and crape ; the sweetest looking old Lady, I think, that I ever saw. Eleanor sat beside her, looking, as sho always did, like a princesa, with large, dark eyes, Diaua-like features, and hair twisted in a sort of coronal around her queenly head. While I, plain, homespun Susanuah - conunonly called, "for short," Susy - crouched upon a footstool in the corner, my elbows on my knees, and my chin in my hands. Uncle Barnabas Berkelin sat in the miidle of the circle, erect, stift" and rather grim. He was stout and short, with a grizzled mustache, a little, round bald spot on the crown of his head, and two glittoring black eyes that were always sendingtheir dnsky lightnings in tüe direotion leunt expected. Uncle Samabas was rich and we were poor. Uncle Barnakns was wise in the ways of the world and we were inexperieuced. Uncle Barnabas was prosperous in all he did ; while, if there was a bad bargain to be made, we were pretty sure to be the ones to make it. Consequently, nnd as a matter of course, we looked up to Uncle Barnabas, and revereneed his opinions. "What do we propose to do about it?" Eleanor slowly repeated, lifting her beantiful, jetty brows. "Yes, that's exactlyit," saidmy mother nervously ; "because, Brothor Barnabas, we don't pretend to be business women, aud it's certain that we cannot live comfortably on our present income. Something has surely got to be done." And then my mother leaned back in her chair with a troubled face. . "Yes," said Uncle Barnabas, "something has got to be done ! But who's to do it V And another dead silence succeeded. "I suppose you girls are edueated ?" said Uncle Barnabas. "I know I found enough old school bilis when I was looking over my brother's papers. " "Of course," snid my mother, with evident pride ; "their educatión has been most expensivé. ,si„.. ,, use of the globes - " "Yes, yes, of course," interrupted Uncle Barimbas. "But is it practical? can they teach ?" Eleanor looked dubious. I was quite certain that I could not. Madame Lenoir, among all her 'list of accomplishments, had not included tho art of practical tuition. "Humph !" gruntod Uncle Barnabas. "A queer thing, this modern idea of education. Well, if you can't teach, you can surely do something ! What do you say, Eleanor, to a situation ?" "A situation ?" "The color fluttered in Eleanor's cheeks like pink and white apple blossoms. "I spoke plain enouh, didn't I?" said Unció Barnabas, dryly. "Yes a situation ?" "What sort of a situation, Uncle Barnabas ?" "Well, I can't bardly sny. )?art servant, part companion to an elderly lady 1" explained the old gentleman. "O, Uncle Barnabas, I couldn't do that." "Not do it ? And why not ?" "It's too mnch- too mucli," whiapered Eleanor, losing her regul dignity in the pressnie of tho emergency, "like going out to serjice." "And that is precisely wlmt it is 1" retorted Uncle Barrahas, nodding his head. "Service! Why, wo're all out at service, in one way or another, in this world !" "Oh, yes, I know," faltered poor Eleanor, who, between hor diataste for the proposed plan and her anxiety not to offend Uncle Barnabas Berkelin, didn quite know what to say. "But I - I'v always been educateá to be a lady." "So you won't take the situation, eh!" said Uncle Barnabas, starting up at wishy-washy little water color drawing of Cupid and Psyche, an "exhibitioD piece" of poor Eleanor'a, which hung above the chinmey piece. "'I couldn't, indeed, siv." "Wages twenty-five dollar? a month," mechanically repeated Unclo Banmbas, as if he were sayicg off a lesson. "Drive out in the carriage every day with the missus, cat and canary to take care of, modern house, and all its improvements. Sunday afternoons to yourself, and two weeks, spring and fall, to visit your mother." "Iso, Uncle Barnabas, no," said Eleanor, with a little bhudder. "I am a true Berkelin, and I cannot stoop to menial duties." Uncle Barnabas gave such a prolonged sniff as to suggeat the idea of a very bad cold in his head, indeed. "Sorry," said he. "Heaven helps those who help themselves, . and you can't expect me to be any more liberal minded than Heaven. Sister Rachel," to my mother, "what do you say ?" My mother drew her pretty little flg. ure up a trifle moro erect than usual. "I think my daughter Eleanor is quite right," said s'he. "Tho Berkelins have always been ladiea." I had sat quite silent, still with my chin in my hands, during all this family discussion ; but now I rose up and came creeping to Uncle Barnabab' side. "Well, littlo Susy," said the old gentleman, laying his hand kindly on my wrist, "what is it ?" 'ÍS you piense, Uncle Barnabas," said 1, with a rapidly throbbing heart, "I wonld like to take the situation." "Bravo !" cried Unclo Barnabas. "My dear child!" exclaimed my mother. "Susannah !" uttered Eleanor, in accents by no means landatory. "Yes," said I. "Twenty-five dollars a month is a great deal of money, and I was never af raid of work. I think I will go to the old lady, Uncle Barnabas. I'm fiure I could send home at least twenty dollars a month to mother and Eleanor, and then the two weeks, spring and fall, would be no nico ! Please, Uncle Barimbas, T'll go back with you, when you go. What ia the old lady's name ?" "Her name ?" snid Uncle Baruabns, T'll go back with yon, when you go. What is the old lady's name ?" :'Her name ?" said Unole Barnabas. "Didn't I teil you? It's Prudence - Mrs. l'nxlence !" "What a nieenamë !" said I. "I know I shaU like her." "Well, I think yon will," said Uncle Barnabas, looking kindly at me. "And I think she will like yon. Is it a bargain for the nine o'clock train to-morrow morning ?" "Yes," I answered, stoutly, taking care not to look in the direction of my mother and Eleanor. "You're the most sensible of the lot," said Uncle Barnabas. approvingly. But after he had gone to bed in thf best chamber, where the ruffled pillowcases were, and the ohintz-cushioned easy chair, tlio full Htreugth of tho fnmily tongue broke on ïny devoted hoad. "I can't help it, quoth I, holding valiantly to my colora. "We can't starvo. Some of us must do something. And you can live vory nicoly, indeed mothor, darling, on twenty dollars a inonth." "That is true," sighed my mothfir from behind her black-borderad pockethandkerchief. "But I never thoughtto see a daughter of mine going out to - to service !" "And Uncle Barnabns isn't gomg to do anything for us, after all," cried out Eleanor, indignantly. "ntinpry om leilow ; I should think he migbt at least adopt one of us ! Hc's ricli as Croosus, and never a chick nor a ehild." "He may do as he likfs about that," I answered indepeuilently. "I prefer to earn my own money. " So the next morning I set out for the unknown bouru of New York life. "Únele Bamabas, " said I, as the train reached the city, "how shall I find where Mrs. Prudenco lives ?" "Oh, I'll go with you," said he. "Are you well acquaiuted with her 2" I yentnred to ask. "Oh, very well indeed I" replied Uncle Barnabas, nodding his head approvingly. We took a carriage at the depot and drove through so tnany streets tbut my head spun around and around like a teetotnm, before we stoppod at a protty, brown stone mansión - it looked like a palace to my unaccustomed eyes - and Uncle Barnabas helped me out. "Here is where Mrs. Prudence lives," said he with a chuckle. A neat little maid, with a frilled white apron and rose-colored ribbons in her hair, opened the door with a courtesy. and I was conducted into an elegant apartment, all gilding, exótica and blue satan damask, when a plump old lady, dressed in black silk, with the loveliest Valenciennes lace at throat and wrists, came smilingly forward, like a sixty-year old sunbeam. "So you'vo comeback, Barnabas, have you, " said sho. "And brought one of the dear girls with you. Come and kiss me, my dear." "Yes, Susy, kiss yonr aunt," said Uncle Barnabas, fingering his hat one way and his gloves another, as he sat complacently down on the sofa, "My aunt ?" I echoed. "Why, of course," said the plnmp old lady. "Don't you kaow ? I'm youjAunt Prudence. "But I thought," gasped I, in bewilderment, "that I was coming to a situation !" "Woll, so you are," retortod Uncle Barnabas. "The situation of adopted daughter in my family. Twenty-five dollars a month pocket money - tho care of Aunt Prudence's cat and canary ! And to make yourself geuerally useful." "Oh ! nncle,"cried I, "Eleanor would have been so glad to come if she had known it !" "Fiddlestrings and little fiRhes I" illogically responded my Uncle Barnabas, 'Tve no patience with a girl that's too fine to work. Eleanor had the situation offered her and chose to decline. You decided to come, and here you stay ! King the bell, Prue, and order tea, for I'm as hungry as a hunter, and T dare say little Susy here would relish a cup of tea I" And this was the way I drifted into my luxurior.s home. Eleanor in the country cottage envies me bitterly, for she has all the tastes which wealth and a metropolitan home can gratify. But Uncle Barnabas will not hour of my exchanging with her. But he Iets me send them liberal presents every montii, and so I am happy.


Old News
Michigan Argus