“Tell me, honey,” she said. “Is he to blame for a single one of these tears?”
“Not one!” sobbed Elnora. “Oh mother, I won’t forgive you if you don’t believe that. Not one! He never said, or looked, or did anything all the world might not have known. He likes me very much as a friend. He hated to go dreadfully!”
“Elnora!” the mother’s head bent until the white hair mingled with the brown. “Elnora, why didn’t you tell me at first?”
Elnora caught her breath in a sharp snatch. “I know I should!” she sobbed. “I will bear any punishment for not, but I didn’t feel as if I possibly could. I was afraid.”
“Afraid of what?” the shaking hand was on the hair again.
“Afraid you wouldn’t let him come!” panted Elnora. “And oh, mother, I wanted him so!”
WHEREIN MRS. COMSTOCK EXPERIMENTS WITH REJUVENATION, AND ELNORA TEACHES NATURAL HISTORY
For the following week Mrs. Comstock and Elnora worked so hard there was no time to talk, and they were compelled to sleep from physical exhaustion. Neither of them made any pretence of eating, for they could not swallow without an effort, so they drank milk and worked. Elnora kept on setting bait for Catacolae and Sphinginae, which, unlike the big moths of June, live several months. She took all the dragonflies and butterflies she could, and when she went over the list for the man of India, she found, to her amazement, that with Philip’s help she once more had it complete save a pair of Yellow Emperors.
This circumstance was so surprising she had a fleeting thought of writing Philip and asking him to see if he could not secure her a pair. She did tell the Bird Woman, who from every source at her command tried to complete the series with these moths, but could not find any for sale.
“I think the mills of the Gods are grinding this grist,” said Elnora, “and we might as well wait patiently until they choose to send a Yellow Emperor.”
Mrs. Comstock invented work. When she had nothing more to do, she hoed in the garden although the earth was hard and dry and there were no plants that really needed attention. Then came a notification that Elnora would be compelled to attend a week’s session of the Teachers’ Institute held at the county seat twenty miles north of Onabasha the following week. That gave them something of which to think and real work to do. Elnora was requested to bring her violin. As she was on the programme of one of the most important sessions for a talk on nature work in grade schools, she was driven to prepare her speech, also to select and practise some music. Her mother turned her attention to clothing.