In the next room Veronica was swiftly packing the suitcase. The whole house was filled with confusion and haste. The old portraits on the walls looked down in astonishment at this unwonted turning of night into day, at the lights burning all over the house, from attic to basement, and at the girls running up and downstairs, bumping into each other in their haste and getting more flurried all the time. A smell of coffee pervaded the whole place, and this was soon superseded by the odor of burning toast. In the midst of the confusion the telephone rang and everybody thought someone else was answering it, with the result that nobody answered it and it rang a second time, long and insistently. Sahwah rushed up from the basement; Veronica sped swiftly down from upstairs, followed in a moment by Migwan; Hinpoha hastily snatched the coffee pot off the fire and ran in from the kitchen; Gladys hastened from the pantry; the two boys jumped in from the porch, and at the same moment Nyoda called over the banister and asked if someone would answer the telephone.
Sahwah got there first and snatched down the receiver with a trembling hand while the rest stood expectantly around, fearful of what this midnight message might be. And then after all the call was not for the house at all; the operator had made a wrong connection!
Hinpoha flew back to her toast; Sahwah returned to the basement, limping as she went, having struck her shin against the steps in the hurried trip up. Migwan had pricked her finger when the bell rang, it had startled her so, and a great drop of blood fell on the clean collar, so that she had to rip it out and find another one and sew that in. Then she discovered a button missing and hunted endlessly to find another one to match.
Everything was fixed at last and Migwan ran downstairs to see what was to be done there. Everything was being taken care of, and so, turning off the lights which were blazing unnecessarily in the long parlor, she sank down in a chair to rest a moment. Already the party seemed days in the past—could it be that this was still the same night? A shade flapped in the window, irritating her strained nerves, and she rose hastily and pulled it up. Her hand came in contact with something soft and silky. It was the service flag in the window—the flag that stood for Sherry. Reverently she straightened it out and stood stroking it with shaking fingers. The dark blue star stood out dimly in the light that shone through the window from the outside and the thought came into her mind that soon it might be replaced by a gold star. Tears came into her eyes; she forced them resolutely back and hastened upstairs to tell Nyoda that her hour was up and she must get up and begin to dress. Nyoda was already up and dressed when she went into the room; she was standing in front of the mirror combing her hair. Migwan hastened forward to assist her, reproaching herself that she hadn’t come up sooner.