Daddy Long Legs (Daddy Long Legs, page 3 of 76)


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'I saw his back.'

'He is one of our most affluential Trustees, and has given large sums
of money towards the asylum's support. I am not at liberty to mention
his name; he expressly stipulated that he was to remain unknown.'

Jerusha's eyes widened slightly; she was not accustomed to being
summoned to the office to discuss the eccentricities of Trustees with
the matron.

'This gentleman has taken an interest in several of our boys. You
remember Charles Benton and Henry Freize? They were both sent through
college by Mr.--er--this Trustee, and both have repaid with hard work
and success the money that was so generously expended. Other payment
the gentleman does not wish. Heretofore his philanthropies have been
directed solely towards the boys; I have never been able to interest
him in the slightest degree in any of the girls in the institution, no
matter how deserving. He does not, I may tell you, care for girls.'

'No, ma'am,' Jerusha murmured, since some reply seemed to be expected
at this point.

'To-day at the regular meeting, the question of your future was brought
up.' Mrs. Lippett allowed a moment of silence to fall, then resumed in a
slow, placid manner extremely trying to her hearer's suddenly tightened
nerves.

'Usually, as you know, the children are not kept after they are
sixteen, but an exception was made in your case. You had finished our
school at fourteen, and having done so well in your studies--not
always, I must say, in your conduct--it was determined to let you go on
in the village high school. Now you are finishing that, and of course
the asylum cannot be responsible any longer for your support. As it
is, you have had two years more than most.'

Mrs. Lippett overlooked the fact that Jerusha had worked hard for her
board during those two years, that the convenience of the asylum had
come first and her education second; that on days like the present she
was kept at home to scrub.

'As I say, the question of your future was brought up and your record
was discussed--thoroughly discussed.'

Mrs. Lippett brought accusing eyes to bear upon the prisoner in the
dock, and the prisoner looked guilty because it seemed to be
expected--not because she could remember any strikingly black pages in
her record.

'Of course the usual disposition of one in your place would be to put
you in a position where you could begin to work, but you have done well
in school in certain branches; it seems that your work in English has
even been brilliant. Miss Pritchard, who is on our visiting committee,
is also on the school board; she has been talking with your rhetoric
teacher, and made a speech in your favour. She also read aloud an
essay that you had written entitled, "Blue Wednesday".'

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