Read CHAPTER IV - THE LOST PURSE of Kate's Ordeal , free online book, by Emma Leslie, on

Sunday “outings,” in the holiday-making sense, were not much to Kate’s fancy, but she had exhausted all her excuses and objections, and found herself forced to yield to Marion’s proposal. So the two girls went off and found their friends waiting for them a short distance from the shop. The bells of various churches were ringing for morning service, and Kate ventured to whisper to her cousin that she would like to go, but Marion shook her head so decidedly that she gave up the point at once, but she did not take much interest in the discussion that was going on about the rival attractions of Greenwich and Richmond, saying she knew nothing about either.

At last it was decided that they should spend the afternoon at Greenwich, going and returning by water. The young men walked with them almost as far as Marion’s home, but left them at the corner of the street, and nothing was said to her father about these companions of their walk. When Isabel heard where they were going she declared she must have her bonnet altered, and Marion sat down to do this while her sister got the dinner ready.

As they were going out after dinner, Marion said, “Perhaps we shall stop out to tea, father. I want to go and see a friend to-day, and she is sure to ask us to stay to tea.”

“Very well, my dear, I can manage to get tea for myself and the boys,” said her father, carelessly. Marion always had been allowed to do very much as she pleased, and since her mother’s death, and she had got a situation, she had taken the reins quite into her own hands, and seldom asked advice, and still more rarely accepted it when it was offered.

Kate felt rather uncomfortable at first, when she thought of this steamboat excursion, but she soon forgot this in the pleasure and novelty of the scene around her, and she stifled the voice of conscience, by whispering that this would not happen again she had only come this once, that her cousin might go with her to the Bible-class when the fine weather was over.

The steamboat was crowded, and there was a good deal of pushing and squeezing when they reached Greenwich Pier, where most of the passengers were landed.

“All tickets ready! all tickets ready!” called the man at the end of the landing-board, while another took each passenger’s scrap of paper as they passed out. Kate had put her ticket in her purse for safety; and now put her hand into her pocket to get it; but to her dismay she found her pocket empty. “Oh, stop a minute, wait for me, Marion, I must have dropped my purse!” and Kate began to elbow her way through the crowd back to where she had been sitting. The place was vacant now, and she hunted all round, but no purse could be seen. “Oh, what shall I do, what shall I do!” she exclaimed, bursting into tears.

“What is it, why don’t you come?” said Marion, who had now come back for her.

“My purse, my purse, I’ve lost it!” sobbed poor Kate.

“Lost your purse!” exclaimed Marion. “Did you drop it?”

Kate shook her head. “I don’t know; I thought I put it into my pocket,” she said.

The two were looking under the seats, and all round as they talked, but now they heard Bella and their companions calling to them from the pier to make haste, as the steamboat was about to leave, so they had to give up the search and run ashore.

“Tickets, Miss, tickets,” said the man, as they were hastening past to join their friends. Marion gave up hers, but Kate could only repeat, “What shall I do, what shall I do!”

“Have you had a purse given to you that was found on board the boat?” asked Marion.

The man laughed at the question. “I suppose you have lost one,” he said.

“Yes, and my steamboat ticket was in it. Did anyone give it to you?” asked Kate anxiously.

“Oh, no! my dear, I’ve seen no purse. You must pay again, that’s all I can say.”

“But how can I pay, all my money was in my purse,” sobbed Kate.

“What is it, what’s the row?” asked one of the young men, who had come back for them.

“This young lady’s lost her purse, that’s all,” said the man. “Are you one of her friends?” he suddenly added.

“Yes, I am!” said the young man.

“Ah, well then, the matter can soon be settled. You see her ticket was in the purse, and we can’t be expected to lose that.”

“Precious mean of you then,” grumbled the friend, putting his hand into his pocket and counting out Kate’s fare.

There was a momentary sense of relief in Kate’s mind, and Marion whispered, “There, now it’s all right, come along and forget all about it.”

But that was just what Kate could not do; and the longer she thought about it, the more miserable she grew. They went for a walk in the grand old park, which Kate would have enjoyed immensely at any other time, but conscience was reproving her for this misspent Sabbath, and then the loss of her money almost distracted her, for she was to receive her salary from Mrs. Maple by the quarter, and so it would be nearly three months before she had another penny she could call her own.

“Oh, dear, I wish I had never come,” sighed Kate.

“It’s no use crying over spilt milk,” said Marion; “so cheer up for a little while, and let us be jolly.” And she took her cousin and led her on to the rest of the party, for Kate had preferred to drop behind and indulge her gloomy thoughts alone.

“Here, William!” she said, “try and cheer her up a bit, she feels dull about losing her purse.”

The young man tried to “cheer her,” as he had been directed, but it was not any easy task. He was not the sort of companion Kate had been used to, and could talk of little but music-halls, and theatres, and the last popular song, and singers things which Kate knew nothing about, and could not interest her just now; so that the afternoon passed slowly away.

They were leaving the Park now, and Bella was declaring that she must have some tea before she went home.

“Well, then, I’ll sit down on this seat,” said Kate, “and you can come for me when you are ready to go home,” and Kate went over to the seat, but was closely followed by the rest.

“Come, come, we can’t allow this, you know,” said her self-constituted guardian, William; “you are under my charge, and you must come and have some tea.”

“Oh, do please leave me alone; I shall feel better here,” pleaded Kate.

“Nonsense, Kate, a cup of tea will do you good,” said Bella impatiently.

“But you forget I have lost my purse, and have no money to pay for it,” replied Kate, a little bitterly.

“But I told you that did not matter,” interposed the young man again; “my purse is at your service. I will give it you, if you like if you will only laugh and chat as you did on board the steamer.”

Kate smiled, and thanked him, but declined to accept either purse or tea from him.

“You are almost a stranger to me, and I feel vexed that you should have had to pay for my steamboat ticket,” she said.

“Oh, Kate, how rude you are,” said Marion, crossly; “there, come along to tea, and I will pay for it, if you will not accept William’s kindness.”

“I cannot,” said Kate; “and I would much rather stay here than go to a tea I cannot pay for.”

“Well, you shall pay me back, if you like if that will satisfy you,” said Marion, impatiently; and Kate reluctantly rose from her seat, and followed the rest, who had already turned in the direction of the park gates.

Marion and the rest seemed to enjoy their tea, and laughed and chatted, and tried to rouse Kate into something like merriment too, but Kate felt too anxious and unhappy to laugh at anything even the poor jokes and witticisms of William although they were made for her special benefit and which afforded her so much amusement when they first started.

“Really, Kate, it is too bad of you to let your loss spoil the fun for everybody,” said Marion, reproachfully, as they turned towards the steam-boat pier once more.

“I don’t want to spoil your fun, I only want you to leave me alone,” said Kate, crossly. And Marion did leave her alone for the rest of the evening, but her self-appointed friend would not. He paid her steamboat fare back, and talked to her assiduously as he had done during the afternoon, but with little better success, and Kate was thankful when the miserable day came to an end, and she was once more in the little bedroom she shared with Marion.

“And do you really mean to say, Kate, that you took out all the money you possessed?” said her cousin, as she began to undress.

“Yes. I know it was very foolish,” sighed Kate.

“How much was there altogether?” asked her cousin.

“Nearly six shillings.”

“Oh, well, that wasn’t much,” said Marion, rather contemptuously, “and I daresay you will be able to manage until your mother sends you some more.”

“I shall not ask mother I’ll wait until Mrs. Maple pays me my wages.”

“Say salary, my dear, that is more genteel,” said Marion. “But how are you going to manage for your letters; and you’ll want new neck-ribbons, and that bonnet will never last you three months.”

“It must, and I shall have to do without neck-ribbons. There, don’t bother me to-night,” concluded Kate.

“I don’t want to bother you, and you are a goose to bother and worry yourself as you do about trifles. Most girls would have forgotten the loss of a paltry purse when they had a nice-looking young man like William so kind to them. You must make it up to him, you know; he will expect it,” said Marion.

Kate lifted her head, and looked at her cousin but Marion turned her head aside.

“Make it up to him. What do you mean, Marion? Of course I shall pay the shilling I owe him for my steamboat fare, I told him so when I said ‘good-night.’”

“You did! How can you be so rude or so stupid, which is it? Don’t you know they like to pay for us, if they can get the chance. I let them do it sometimes; it pleases them, and don’t hurt me.”

“What, when you have the money in your pocket, and can pay for yourself?” exclaimed Kate, in astonishment.

“Yes; why shouldn’t they spend their money if they like it; and besides, I make it up to them,” added Marion.

“How do you do that?” asked Kate.

But Marion did not answer. She began to feel half sorry she had told her cousin as much as she had.

“How do you make it up to them?” repeated Kate.

“Oh, don’t bother me to-night, I’m tired. Keep your eyes open, and you’ll see for yourself,” concluded Marion, as she got into bed.

Kate kneeled down, as she always did, for the habit of prayer was too strong to be broken all at once. She felt ashamed and unhappy as she kneeled down, and she wished she could pray as her mother and teacher had often told her pouring out her whole heart before God. Poor, foolish Kate, she had read often enough those words, “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known unto God;” and yet she was afraid to bring this trouble to Him.

Her thoughts were also running on her cousin’s last words, and after she got into bed, she said again:

“I wish you would tell me how I can make it up to William about that shilling, I mean; it will be such a long time for him to wait before I can pay it.”

“I should think it would, if you mean to wait until you take your salary,” said Marion, impatiently.

“Well, then, tell me what I can do besides. How do you make it up when they pay shillings for you?”

“Keep your eyes open, and you’ll see for yourself some day. But you’d better shut them now and go to sleep, or you won’t be able to keep them open at the right time,” concluded Marion, as she turned round to put an end to the talk.

But after a minute or two, Kate said, “You might tell me when it is the right time to keep them open, Marion.”

“Oh, don’t bother; go to sleep. Haven’t you heard ’there’s tricks in every trade’?”

“I don’t know; perhaps I have.”

“Well, then, keep a sharp look-out, and you’ll soon learn the tricks of ours.” And Marion was soon fast asleep; but it was a long time before Kate could close her eyes, for conscience was at work again, urging her to tell her mother of her loss, and all that led to it. But Kate was afraid. She could not bear to forfeit her mother’s good opinion, and make her anxious. She might even send for her to come home, and Kate did not like the idea of that at all. She was very comfortable in this “old-fashioned place,” as everybody called it, and not at all inclined to go back to a quiet country life.