A SUDDEN MISFORTUNE.
As the day drew near for the return of her mother and father Hinpoha went all over the house from garret to cellar seeing that everything was put to rights. She and the other Winnebagos took a trip into the country for bittersweet to decorate the fireplace in the library and in her father’s study upstairs. With pardonable pride she arranged a little exhibition of the Craft work she had done in camp and the sketches she had made of the lake and hills. On the table in her mother’s room she placed a work basket she had made of reed and lined with silk.
“Gracious sakes, child,” said her aunt, from her rocking chair by the front window of the living-room, “what a fuss you are going to! One would think it was your Aunt Phoebe who was coming instead of your mother and father. They’ll be just as glad to see you if the house isn’t as neat as a pin from top to bottom.” And Aunt Grace resumed her rocking and her novel, as unconcerned about the imminent return of the travelers as if it were nothing more than the daily visit of the milkman. Nothing short of an earthquake would ever shake Aunt Grace out of her settled complacency.
Hinpoha went happily on, seeing that every tack and screw was in place, and arranging the books in the cases to correspond to her father’s catalog, for they had become sadly mixed during his absence. She even took out a volume of his favorite essays and pored over them diligently so that she might discuss them with him and show that she had used some of her time to good advantage. She straightened out her bureau drawers and mended all her clothes and stockings. When everything was in order she viewed the result with a happy feeling at the pleasure it would give her mother when she saw it. Hinpoha’s most prominent trait in times past had not been neatness.
Nyoda, who had been called in to make a final inspection before Hinpoha was satisfied, wondered if all the girls were “seeking beauty” as earnestly as Hinpoha was. She envied Hinpoha the homecoming of her mother from the bottom of her heart. This feeling was particularly strong one afternoon as she sat in the school room after the close of school, looking over some English papers. It was the anniversary of the death of her mother and she sat recalling little incidents of her childhood before this best of chums had been taken away. As she sat there half dreaming she heard voices in the hall before her door.
“Have you heard the latest?” asked one voice.
“No,” said the second voice, “what is it?”
“Why, the Francona has gone down,” answered the first voice. “Struck a mine in the ocean.”