Only Ruth said “we were all good people, and meant right; it must all come right, somehow.”
But father made up his mind that we could not afford to keep the place. He should pay his debts, now, the first thing. What was left must do for us; the house must go into the estate.
It was fixed, though, that we should stay there for the summer,—until affairs were settled.
“It’s a dumb shame!” said Aunt Trixie.
The June days did not make it any better. And the June nights,—well, we had to sit in the “front box at the sunset,” and think how there would be June after June here for somebody, and we should only have had just two of them out of our whole lives.
Why did not grandfather give us that paper, when he began to? And what could have become of it since? And what if it were found some time, after the dear old place was sold and gone? For it was the “dear old place” already to us, though we had only lived there a year, and though Aunt Roderick did say, in her cold fashion, just as if we could choose about it, that “it was not as if it were really an old homestead; it wouldn’t be so much of a change for us, if we made up our minds not to take it in, as if we had always lived there.”
Why, we had always lived there! That was just the way we had always been trying to spell “home,” though we had never got the right letters to do it with before. When exactly the right thing comes to you, it is a thing that has always been. You don’t get the very sticks and stones to begin with, maybe; but what they stand for grows up in you, and when you come to it you know it is yours. The best things—the most glorious and wonderful of all—will be what we shall see to have been “laid up for us from the foundation.” Aunt Roderick did not see one bit of how that was with us.
“There isn’t a word in the tenth commandment about not coveting your own house,” Barbara would say, boldly. And we did covet, and we did grieve. And although we did not mean to have “hard thoughts,” we felt that Aunt Roderick was hard; and that Uncle Roderick and Uncle John were hatefully matter-of-fact and of-course about the “business.” And that paper might be somewhere, yet. We did not believe that Grandfather Holabird had “changed his mind and burned it up.” He had not had much mind to change, within those last six months. When he was well, and had a mind, we knew what he had meant to do.
If Uncle Roderick and Uncle John had not believed a word of what father told them, they could not have behaved very differently. We half thought, sometimes, that they did not believe it. And very likely they half thought that we were making it appear that they had done something that was not right. And it is the half thoughts that are the hard thoughts. “It is very disagreeable,” Aunt Roderick used to say.