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"National, I think it must have been,"
observed Louisa.

"Yes, it was.—But isn't it the same?" she
timidly asked.

"You had better say, National, as he said
so," returned Louisa, with her dry reserve.

"National Prosperity. And he said, Now,
this schoolroom is a Nation. And in this
nation, there are fifty millions of money.
Isn't this a prosperous nation? Girl number
twenty, isn't this a prosperous nation, and
a'n't you in a thriving state?"

"What did you say?" asked Louisa,

"Miss Louisa, I said I didn't know. I
thought I couldn't know whether it was a
prosperous nation or not, and whether I was
in a thriving state or not, unless I knew who
had got the money, and whether any of it
was mine. But that had nothing to do with
it. It was not in the figures at all," said
Sissy, wiping her eyes.

"That was a great mistake of yours,"
observed Louisa.

"Yes, Miss Louisa, I know it was, now.
Then Mr. M'Choakumchild said he would try
me again. And he said, this schoolroom is
an immense town, and in it there are a million
of inhabitants, and only five-and-twenty are
starved to death in the streets, in the course
of a year. What is your remark on that
proportion? And my remark wasfor I
couldn't think of a better onethat I thought
it must be just as hard upon those who were
starved, whether the others were a million,
or a million million. And that was wrong,
too."

"Of course it was."

"Then Mr. M'Choakumchild said he would
try me once more. And he said, Here are the
stutterings——"

"Statistics," said Louisa.

"Yes, Miss Louisathey always remind me
of stutterings, and that's another of my
mistakesof accidents upon the sea. And I
find (Mr. M'Choakumchild said) that in a
given time a hundred thousand persons went
to sea on long voyages, and only five hundred
of them were drowned or burnt to death.
What is the percentage? And I said, Miss;"
here Sissy fairly sobbed as confessing with
extreme contrition to her greatest error; " I
said it was nothing."

"Nothing, Sissy?"

"Nothing, Missto the relations and friends
of the people who were killed. I shall never
learn," said Sissy. "And the worst of all is, that
although my poor father wished me so much
to learn, and although I am so anxious to
learn because he wished me to, I am afraid I
don't like it."

Louisa stood looking at the pretty modest
head, as it drooped abashed before her, until
it was raised again to glance at her face.
Then she asked:

"Did your father know so much himself,
that he wished you to be well taught too,
Sissy?"

Sissy hesitated before replying, and so
plainly showed her sense that they were
entering on forbidden ground, that Louisa
added, " No one hears us; and if any one did,
I am sure no harm could be found in such an
innocent question."

"No, Miss Louisa," answered Sissy, upon
this encouragement, shaking her head;
"father knows very little indeed. It's as
much as he can do to write; and it's
more than people in general can do to read
his writing. Though it's plain to me."

"Your mother?"

"Father says she was quite a scholar. She
died when I was born. She was;" Sissy
made the terrible communication nervously;
"she was a dancer."

"Did your father love her?" Louisa
asked these questions with a strong, wild,
wandering interest peculiar to her; an
interest gone astray like a banished creature,
and hiding in solitary places.

"O yes! As dearly as he loves me. Father
loved me, first, for her sake. He carried me
about with him when I was quite a baby. We
have never been asunder from that time."

"Yet he leaves you now, Sissy?"

"Only for my good. Nobody understands
him as I do; nobody knows him as I
do. When he left me for my goodhe never
would have left me for his ownI know
he was almost broken-hearted with the
trial. He will not be happy for a single
minute, till he comes back."

"Tell me more about him," said Louisa,
"I will never ask you again. Where did
you live?"

"We travelled about the country, and had
no fixed place to live in. Father's a "; Sissy
whispered the awful word; "a clown."

"To make the people laugh? " said Louisa,
with a nod of intelligence.

"Yes. But they wouldn't laugh sometimes,
and then father cried. Lately, they very
often wouldn't laugh, and he used to come
home despairing. Father's not like most.
Those who didn't know him as well as I do,
and did'nt love him as dearly as I do, might
believe he was not quite right. Sometimes
they played tricks upon him; but they never
knew how he felt them, and shrunk up, when
he was alone with me. He was far, far
timider than they thought!"

"And you were his comfort through everything?"

She nodded, with the tears rolling down her
face. " I hope so, and father said I was. It
was because he grew so scared and trembling,
and because he felt himself to be a poor,
weak, ignorant, helpless man (those used to
be his words), that he wanted me so much to
know a great deal and be different from him.
I used to read to him to cheer his courage,
and he was very fond of that. They were
wrong booksI am never to speak of them
herebut we didn't know there was any
harm in them."

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