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A Waif of the Plains Bret Harte

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Would she appear among the boughs or on the edge of the wall? Either would be like the old Susy. But to his surprise he heard the sound of the key turning in the lock. The grated door suddenly swung on its hinges, and Susy slipped out. Grasping his hand, she said, "Let's run, Clarence," and before he could reply she started off with him at a rapid pace. Down the lane they flew--very much, as it seemed to Clarence's fancy, as they had flown from the old emigrant wagon on the prairie, four years before. He glanced at the fluttering, fairy-like figure beside him. She had grown taller and more graceful; she was dressed in exquisite taste, with a minuteness of luxurious detail that bespoke the spoilt child; but there was the same prodigal outburst of rippling, golden hair down her back and shoulders, violet eyes, capricious little mouth, and the same delicate hands and feet he had remembered. He would have preferred a more deliberate survey, but with a shake of her head and an hysteric little laugh she only said, "Run, Clarence, run," and again darted forward. Arriving at the cross-street, they turned the corner, and halted breathlessly.

"But you're not running away from school, Susy, are you?" said Clarence anxiously.

"Only a little bit. Just enough to get ahead of the other girls," she said, rearranging her brown curls and tilted hat. "You see, Clarence," she condescended to explain, with a sudden assumption of older superiority, "mother's here at the hotel all this week, and I'm allowed to go home every night, like a day scholar. Only there's three or four other girls that go out at the same time with me, and one of the Sisters, and to-day I got ahead of 'em just to see YOU."

"But" began Clarence.

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"Oh, it's all right; the other girls knew it, and helped me. They don't start out for half an hour yet, and they'll say I've just run ahead, and when they and the Sister get to the hotel I'll be there already--don't you see?"

"Yes," said Clarence dubiously.

"And we'll go to an ice-cream saloon now, shan't we? There's a nice one near the hotel. I've got some money," she added quickly, as Clarence looked embarrassed.

"So have I," said Clarence, with a faint accession of color. "Let's go!" She had relinquished his hand to smooth out her frock, and they were walking side by side at a more moderate pace. "But," he continued, clinging to his first idea with masculine persistence, and anxious to assure his companion of his power, of his position, "I'm in the college, and Father Sobriente, who knows your lady superior, is a good friend of mine and gives me privileges; and--and--when he knows that you and I used to play together--why, he'll fix it that we may see each other whenever we want."

"Oh, you silly!" said Susy. "WHAT!--when you're--"

"When I'm WHAT?"

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A Waif of the Plains
Bret Harte

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