“‘Herminius beat his bosom, but never a word he spake,’” quoted Slim, grinning. “You see,” he continued, turning to the girls, “the Captain and I were practising shooting at a target once, out in the country, and the Captain came so near the bull’s eye that he shot the perch out from under a parrot in a cage fifty feet away. O Mother dear, Jerusalem! You never saw such a surprised bird in all your life!” Slim was overcome by the remembrance, and the Captain grinned feebly at the laughter which the tale invoked.
“Don’t you worry, I guess I can shoot a goat all right,” said the Captain with some asperity.
“Uttered like a man, Captain,” grinned Slim. “’Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the gate—’”
His flow of nonsense was interrupted by an exclamation of surprise from Nyoda as they reached the front gate. A messenger boy was running up the steps of Carver House just ahead of them.
NEWS FROM THE FRONT
“Does Mrs. Andrew Sheridan live here?” asked the boy, looking from one to the other.
“Here,” replied Nyoda, holding out her hand for the envelope.
“Who can be telegraphing at this time of night?” asked Hinpoha, shot through with a sudden fear that something had happened to her aunt and they were telegraphing to Nyoda about it.
Nyoda stepped into the hall, switched on the light and tore open the envelope. Then she gasped suddenly and sat down on the stair steps with a frightened “Oh-h-h!”
“What is it, Nyoda?” asked the girls, crowding around her in alarm.
She held out the telegram and Gladys took it from her hands and held it up where all could see:
MRS. ANDREW SHERIDAN,
Your husband on board Antares when
she sank in collision off Nova
Scotia August first. Now in Good Samaritan Hospital, St. Margaret’s,
Nova Scotia, probably fatally injured.
The signature was that of some official of the government.
“Oh-h-h!” cried the Winnebagos in horror, staring, fascinated, at the fatal sheet of paper in their hands. Migwan ran to Nyoda and put her arms around her in silent sympathy; the rest stood still, with shocked, frightened faces.
After a moment of stunned surprise Nyoda rallied herself. “Come,” she said, in her usual calm, brisk tones, “I have to make haste. I must go on that early morning train. It goes through here about four. Help me pack, girls.”
Recalled to themselves by the quietness of Nyoda’s manner the Winnebagos set about helping in their usual efficient way. Hinpoha and Gladys sped to the kitchen to make coffee and sandwiches; Sahwah sped downstairs into the laundry to bring up the freshly ironed clothes; Slim and the Captain went up into the attic to bring down the suitcase and make themselves generally useful; Migwan went to Nyoda’s room with her to help her make ready for the journey.