Beulah (Chapter 3, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 3

Beulah stood waiting on the steps of the large mansion to which she
had been directed by Miss Dorothea White. Her heart throbbed
painfully, and her hand trembled as she rang the bell. The door was
opened by a negro waiter, who merely glanced at her, and asked
carelessly: "Well, little miss, what do you want?"

"Is Mrs. Martin at home?"

"Yes, miss; come, walk in. There is but a poor fire in the front
parlor--suppose you sit down in the back room. Mrs. Martin will be
down in a minute."

The first object which arrested Beulah's attention was a center
table covered with books. "Perhaps," thought she, "they will permit
me to read some of them." While she sat looking over the titles the
rustle of silk caused her to glance around, and she saw Mrs. Martin
quite near her.

"Good-morning," said the lady, with a searching look, which made the
little figure tremble.

"Good-morning, madam."

"You are the girl Miss White promised to send from the asylum, are
you not?"

"Yes, madam."

"Do you think you can take good care of my baby?"

"Oh, I will try."

"You don't look strong and healthy--have you been sick?"

"No; I am very well, thank you."

"I may want you to sew some, occasionally, when the baby is asleep.
Can you hem and stitch neatly?"

"I believe I sew very well, madam--our matron says so."

"What is your name? Miss White told me, but I have forgotten it."

"Beulah Benton."

"Well, Beulah, I think you will suit me very well, if you are only
careful and attend to my directions. I am just going out shopping,
but you can come upstairs and take charge of Johnny. Where are your
clothes?"

"Our matron will send them to-day."

Beulah followed Mrs. Martin up the steps, somewhat reassured by her
kind reception. The room was in utter confusion, the toilet-table
covered with powder, hairpins, bows of different colored ribbon, and
various bits of jewelry; the hearth unswept, the workstand groaning
beneath the superincumbent mass of sewing, finished and unfinished
garments, working materials, and, to crown the whole, the lady's
winter hat. A girl, apparently about thirteen years of age, was
seated by the fire, busily embroidering a lamp-mat; another, some
six years younger, was dressing a doll; while an infant, five or six
months old, crawled about the carpet, eagerly picking up pins,
needles, and every other objectionable article his little purple
fingers could grasp.

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