“But this isn’t ’society’,” broke in Hinpoha desperately.
“A meeting of a club partakes of a social nature,” returned her aunt, “and is not to be thought of.” And there the matter rested.
So Nyoda had to depart without accomplishing her mission. Hinpoha, utterly crushed, followed her to the door, and Nyoda gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t despair, dear,” she whispered hopefully; “she will come around to it eventually, but it will take time. Be patient. And in the meantime read this,” and she slipped into her hand a tiny copy of “The Desert of Waiting.” “Just be true to the Law, and see if you cannot find the roses among the thorns and from them distil the precious ointment that will open the door of the City of Your Desire later on.”
Hinpoha thrust the little book into her blouse, and when she was safe in her own room read it from cover to cover. When she finished there was a song in her heart again and a light in her eyes. Resolutely she turned her face to the East and began her long sojourn in the Desert of Waiting.
Nyoda pondered the problem for a long while that night, and the next day she went to call on Gladys’s mother. Mrs. Evans had taken a great liking to the popular young teacher of whom Gladys was so fond, and cordially invited her to spend as much time as she could at the house with the family. It was to her, then, that Nyoda appealed for advice in regard to Hinpoha. Mrs. Evans made a slight grimace when the facts were laid before her.
“If that isn’t just like Phoebe Bradford,” she exclaimed indignantly. “Trying to shut up that poor girl like a nun to conform to some moth-eaten ideas of hers! If the Judge were alive that house wouldn’t look as if there was a perpetual funeral going on! I certainly will call and see if I can do anything to change her mind, although I doubt very much if that could be accomplished by human means.”
The next day Aunt Phoebe was agreeably surprised to receive a call from Mrs. Evans, “All the best people in the neighborhood are making haste to call on the sister of Judge Bradford,” she reflected complacently. Mrs. Evans made herself very agreeable, speaking of many friends they had in common, and finally led the conversation around to Hinpoha.
“The child looks very pale,” she said. “I presume the death of her parents was a terrible shock to her?”
Aunt Phoebe dabbed her eyes with her black-bordered handkerchief. “The hand of misfortune has fallen heavily upon this house,” she said mournfully.
“It has indeed!” thought Mrs. Evans. Aloud she said, “You must not let the girl grieve herself sick. Cheerful company is what she needs at this time. Make her go out with the Camp Fire Girls as much as possible.”
Aunt Phoebe drew herself up rather stiffly. “I do not approve of the Camp Fire Girls,” she said.
“Not approve of the Camp Fire Girls!” echoed Mrs. Evans in well-feigned astonishment; “why, what’s wrong with them?”