The Enchanted Barn (Chapter I, page 2 of 9)


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She shuddered as the terrible thought flashed through her mind, then went on with her work again. She must shake off this state of mind and give attention to her duty, or she would lose even this opportunity to help her dear ones.

The door of the outer office opened, and Mr. Barnard entered.

"Miss Hollister," he said hurriedly, "if you have those letters ready, I will sign them at once. We have just had word that Mr. Baker of the firm died last night in Chicago, and I must go on at once. The office will be closed for the rest of the day. You can let those other matters that I spoke of go until to-morrow, and you may have the day off. I shall not be at the office at the usual hour to-morrow morning, but you can come in and look after the mail. I will leave further directions with Mr. Clegg. You can mail these letters as you go down."

Ten minutes later Shirley stood on the street below in the warm spring sunshine, and gazed about her half dazed. It seemed a travesty on her poor little life just now to have a holiday and no way to make it count for the dear ones at home. How should she use it, anyway? Should she go home and help Carol? Or should she go out and see whether she could find a house somewhere that they could possibly afford to move to? That, of course, was the sensible thing to do; yet she had no idea where to go. But they did not expect her home at this time of day. Perhaps it was as well that she should use this time and find out something without worrying her mother. At least, she would have time to think undisturbed.

She grasped her little package of lunch that she had brought from home with her and looked about her helplessly. In her little thin purse was the dime she always carried with her to pay her car-fare in case something happened that she had to ride either way--though she seldom rode, even in a storm. But her mother insisted on the dime. She said it was not safe to go without any money at all. This dime was her capital wherewith to hunt a house. Perhaps the day had been given her by a kind heavenly Father to go on her search. She would try to use it to the best of her ability. She lifted her bewildered heart in a feeble petition for light and help in her difficult problem, and then she went and stood on the corner of the street where many trolley-cars were passing and repassing. Which one should she take, and where should she go? The ten cents must cover all her riding, and she must save half of it for her return.

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