“Serves you right for getting poetical about me,” retorted Hinpoha.
“But Nyoda,” said Gladys, whose eyes had been feasting on the details of the house with every increasing wonder and pleasure, “how does it come that you moved into this little town from Philadelphia, and how do you happen to be living in this wonderful old house?”
“I inherited this place a few months after I was married,” replied Nyoda. “It is the old Carver House; built before the Revolution and kept in the family ever since. My mother was a Carver—that’s how I happened to inherit it. She died years ago, without ever dreaming that the house would come to me, for she was not a direct heir, being only a third cousin. But the last of the direct line died out with old Uncle Jasper Carver and that left me the only living blood relation. So this beautiful house and everything in it came to me.”
“Oh, Nyoda, I should think you would have died of joy!” said Hinpoha in a rapt tone. “I know people who would give their eyebrows to own so much old Colonial furniture.”
“This house has seen proud days in its time,” went on Nyoda. “The Carvers were staunch patriots, and many a meeting of loyal citizens was held around that table in the dining room. They say that Benjamin Franklin was once a guest here. The history of the Carver family was Uncle Jasper’s pet hobby, and he has it all printed up in books which you may see in the library.
“The Carvers have always been a fighting family,” she continued, with a flash of pride in her black eyes. “They fought in the Revolution, in the Civil War, and in the Spanish-American War. But now that the country is again calling men to her aid,” she finished with a sigh, “there are no more Carver men to answer the call. I am the last of the Carvers, and I am only a woman.”
“But you’ve done all that you could do,” said Migwan staunchly. “You’ve sent your husband.”
Nyoda drew herself up unconsciously as her eyes sought the picture of Sherry on the mantelpiece with the silk flag draped over it.
“Yes,” she echoed softly, “the last of the Carvers has done her bit.”
A dinner bell clanged through the house and Nyoda sprang up with a start. “Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes, girls,” she exclaimed. “Scurry upstairs and remove the stains of travel while I consult the cook.”
“Why, Nyoda,” said Sahwah in surprise, “I didn’t know you had a cook. You told us coming up from the station that you did all your own work because you didn’t think it was patriotic to hire servants at this time and take them away from the more essential industries!”
Nyoda looked nonplussed for a moment and then she laughed heartily. “Special occasion,” she remarked ceremoniously, and disappeared with a chuckle through a door at the end of the hall.
The four girls went leisurely up the broad staircase with its white spindles and polished mahogany rail to the rooms overhead, furnished with huge curtained four-posters and fascinating chests of drawers with cut-glass knobs.