Somebody else must be up. If it were Esther, Jane decided that she would call “Boo” very loudly and surprise her; but it was her mother and not Esther who came out of the open door. Jane drew back, watching through the curtains. She thought her mother looked very pretty in her dressing gown with her hair down and her bare feet thrust into pink satin mules. It was a pity, Jane thought, that she wasn’t as nice as she looked. And how curiously she was acting. She was actually climbing up the little ladder which led to the bird house by the side of the lawn. Jane knew there was nothing at all in the bird house, for she herself had placed the ladder there the day before. Whatever was she doing? Jane giggled, for one of Mary’s slippers had fallen off leaving her foot bare. But she didn’t seem to care. She was putting her hand far into the bird house. Jane watched the hand carefully to see what it might bring out. But it came out empty. Mary hurriedly climbed down the ladder, picked up her slipper, glanced quickly around the empty garden and ran back into the house closing the door without a sound.
Jane was puzzled. What had her mother hoped to find in the bird house? She crept back into bed, wondering, and just as she was slipping off to sleep, the solution came. “She was hiding something,” thought Jane, sleepily, “and when I get up I’ll find out what it is.”
Little things are the levers which move the big things of life. Had it been any other day save the day of the picnic, Jane would certainly have found out what Mary hid in the bird house and many things might have been different. But there was so much to do that morning and Ann and Bubble came over before Jane finished breakfast so that in the delightful hurry of getting ready and packing baskets, she forgot all about it.
There was a disappointment, too, at the last moment, for just when they were all ready and the doctor had come with the motor, Mrs. Coombe decided that she really did not feel equal to going and that meant that Esther had to stay behind. Jane showed signs of tears. Ann and Bubble protested volubly. Even the doctor did his best to change Mary’s decision.
“You really ought to come, Mary,” he said, “the drive alone will do you good, and if you get tired of it, I can bring you home early.” He looked at her rather anxiously as he spoke but she did not seem ill. She looked better than usual for her eyes were brighter and her face was faintly flushed.
“No, I won’t come to-day. I’m tired. There is not the slightest need for Esther to stay. I am going to stay in my room with a good book.”
“Oh, Esther, do come! Oh, Esther, you promised!” Thus Ann and Bubble, while Jane pulled at her frock.
Mary looked on with a slightly acid smile. The doctor drew her aside.
“Won’t you come?” he asked patiently. “You see how disappointed the children are.”
“Yes, about Esther. And Esther does not need to stay. It’s absurd. Are you never going to trust me?”