Talitha - Chapter 18

T a l i t h a

Chapter 18

   The remaining weeks of free school were busy ones for Talitha. Besides putting in extra time studying, wanting more than anything to excel in the oral examinations which Mr. Radford would be giving at the end of school, Talitha was sewing at every spare minute, day or night. When Polly and Jason were going to meet the boat at Grand Lakes some weeks past, Talitha had asked Polly to make sure the store supplies they brought back included material to make several dresses for herself. These she wanted so much to have ready when she started subscription school. The fact that she could now lend a helping hand at the store, and the possibility of one day being capable to taking over her business entirely, was making Talitha very happy. Happier, as she expressed it, than any time since Steve's death.

   During the remaining weeks of free school, Talitha found everything at school about the same. Mr. Radford continued to sit on the steps with her at noon, which she still thought permissible. And he continued to ask permission to see her to the crossroads, but to this she had learned to say no.

   One Friday afternoon at the close of another school week, Talitha was hurrying home in the winter cold when suddenly she realized Mr. Radford was again by her side. "Mrs. Davis, I'm sure you are aware that only a few more days remain until the end of this school term," he said. "I hope you are planning to be in attendance during the next term?" Before she could answer, he proceeded to tell her of his plans for the work in the new school term.

   At the crossroads where he bade Talitha good-bye, Mr. Radford could not resist the temptation to say, "Mrs. Davis, you have done well in the past three months of school and I feel sure you will do still better in the next three months, It has been nice to have someone as lovely as you around." Talitha now believed she had the answer to Mr. Radford's strange behavior in the past. She had not once thought of him as being in love with her and now wondered if he possibly could be. Although she dropped her head in embarrassment, it didn't hide the burning blush of her countenance.

   "Surely you wouldn't object to one falling in love with one as adorable as you," Mr. Radford said. He paused for an answer, but realizing that Talitha was in no mood to answer him, and wishing to change the subject, he said, "I don't believe you told me if your plans were to continue in school." Talitha then raised her head, and with a quick glance at the teacher she said, "Mr. Radford, my plans were to continue in school but now it's doubtful what my plans may be."

   Talitha was glad John didn't notice any change in her as they again walked homeward together. She knew she was far from being herself as many thoughts ran through her head, Among them, she could see her happy world tumbling. Should she not return to school? And she wondered, under the circumstances, if she could ever make up her mind to return. Worried as she was, she did manage to pass a few words with John, at least to answer his questions, hoping he wouldn't ask her questions that might cause her to reveal her mood. She had always told John everything, but this she could not tell him ever, she now thought.

   By the time they reached her home she was positive she would not be one of Mr. Radford's pupils the next term. No sooner had Talitha entered the house than her mother noticed she didn't greet her baby in her usual manner, and once she looked at her daughter she knew something was wrong. But she waited for Talitha to tell her. Talitha walked the length of the room to place her books on the table before she spoke.

 

   "Ma," she said, "this is the end of my school days." "Nonsense" said Mrs. Sammons, "I hope your school days are just beginning and not ending." "I wish I could build up your hopes but this I cannot do," Talitha said. When her mother asked for an explanation Talitha told her all, even to the sleepless nights she had had because of Mr. Radford. "Aren't you big enough to ignore these things and continue in school?" her mother asked. No, Talitha didn't think she was big enough to accept the possibilities of Mr. Radford's being in love with her and her remaining his pupil.

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Charlotte Curlee Ramsey
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