Page:A Girl of the Limberlost.djvu/32

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14
A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST

"No! Oh, no!" cried Elnora. "I will get them tomorrow," and gripped her desk for support, for she knew that was not true. Four books, ranging perhaps at a dollar and a half apiece; would her mother get them? Of course she would not—could not.

Did not Elnora know the story by heart. There was enough land, but no one to do clearing and farm. Tax on all those acres, recently the new gravel road tax added, the expense of living and only the work of two women to meet all of it. She was insane to think she could come to the city to school. Her mother had been right. The girl decided that if only she lived to get home, she would stay there and lead any sort of life to avoid more of this torture. Bad as what she wished to escape had been, it was nothing like this. She never could live down the movement that went through the class when she inadvertently revealed the fact that she had expected her books to be furnished. Her mother would not get them; that settled the question.

But the end of misery is never in a hurry to come, for before the day was over the superintendent entered the room and explained that pupils from the country were charged a tuition of twenty dollars a year. That really was the end. Previously Elnora had canvassed a dozen wild plans for securing the money for books, ranging all the way from offering to wash the superintendent's dishes to breaking into the bank. This additional expense made the thing so wildly impossible, there was nothing to do but hold up her head until she was out of sight.