After the return from Italy, Mrs. Cliff began to chafe and worry under her restrictions. She had obtained from Europe all she wanted at present, and there was so much, in Plainton she was missing. Oh, if she could only go there and avow her financial condition! She lay awake at night, thinking of the opportunities that were slipping from her. From the letters that Willy Croup wrote her, she knew that people were coming to the front in Plainton who ought to be on the back seats, and that she, who could occupy, if she chose, the best place, was thought of only as a poor widow who was companion to a lady who was travelling. It made her grind her teeth to think of the way that Miss Shott was talking of her, and it was not long before she made up her mind that she ought to speak to Edna on the subject, and she did so.
“Go home!” exclaimed the latter. “Why, Mrs. Cliff, that would be impossible just now. You could not go to Plainton without letting people know where you got your money.”
“Of course I couldn’t,” said Mrs. Cliff, “and I wouldn’t. There have been times when I have yearned so much for my home that I thought it might be possible for me to go there and say that the Valparaiso affair had turned out splendidly, and that was how I got my money. But I couldn’t do it. I could not stand up before my minister and offer to refurnish the parsonage parlor, with such a lie as that on my lips. But there is no use in keeping back the real truth any longer. It is more than eight months since Captain Horn started out for that treasure, and it is perfectly reasonable to suppose either that he has got it; or that he never will get it, and in either one of these cases it will not do any injury to anybody if we let people know about the money we have, and where it came from.”
“But it may do very great injury,” said Edna. “Captain Horn may have been able to take away only a part of it, and may now be engaged in getting the rest. There are many things which may have happened, and if we should now speak of that treasure, it might ruin all his plans.”
“If he has half of it,” said Mrs. Cliff, “he ought to be satisfied with that, and not keep us here on pins and needles until he gets the rest. Of course, I do not want to say anything that would pain you, Edna, and I won’t do it, but people can’t help thinking, and I think that we have waited as long as our consciences have any right to ask us to wait.”
“I know what you mean,” replied Edna, “but it does not give me pain. I do not believe that Captain Horn has perished, and I certainly expect soon to hear from him.”
“You have been expecting that a long time,” said the other.
“Yes, and I shall expect it for a good while yet. I have made up my mind that I shall not give up my belief that Captain Horn is alive, and will come or write to us, until we have positive news of his death, or until one year has passed since he left Acapulco. Considering what he has done for us, Mrs. Cliff, I think it very little for us to wait one year before we betray the trust he has placed in us, and, merely for the sake of carrying out our own plans a little sooner, utterly ruin the plans he has made, and which he intends as much for our benefit as for his own.”