Page:Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Volume 5.djvu/121

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"But, child, what will people say?"

"That I'm an honest girl, and lend me a hand, if they are friends worth having."

Mrs. Barlow was not convinced, and declared she would hide herself if any one came; but after much discussion consented to let the trial be made, though predicting utter failure, as she retired to her sofa to bewail the sad necessity for such a step.

Clara worked busily for several days to carry into execution her plan; then she sent some notes to a dozen friends, modestly informing them that her "opening " would take place on a certain day.

"Curiosity will bring them, if nothing else," she said, trying to seem quite cool and gay, though her heart fluttered with anxiety as she arranged her little stock in the front parlor.

In the bay-window was her flower-stand, where the white azaleas, red geraniums, and gay nasturtiums seemed to have bloomed their loveliest to help the gentle mistress who had tended them so faithfully, even when misfortune's frost had nipped her own bright roses. Overhead swung a pair of canaries in their garlanded cage, singing with all