“Well, thank goodness, I don’t owe her anything, and so I’m perfectly free to do what I choose. Come on, and help me get supper. I’m hungry as Billy!”
Margaret Sinton rocked slowly back and forth in her chair. On her breast lay Billy’s red head, one hand clutched her dress front with spasmodic grip, even after he was unconscious.
“You mustn’t begin that, Margaret,” said Sinton. “He’s too heavy. And it’s bad for him. He’s better off to lie down and go to sleep alone.”
“He’s very light, Wesley. He jumps and quivers so. He has to be stronger than he is now, before he will sleep soundly.”
WHEREIN ELNORA DISCOVERS A VIOLIN, AND BILLY DISCIPLINES MARGARET
Elnora missed the little figure at the bridge the following morning. She slowly walked up the street and turned in at the wide entrance to the school grounds. She scarcely could comprehend that only a week ago she had gone there friendless, alone, and so sick at heart that she was physically ill. To-day she had decent clothing, books, friends, and her mind was at ease to work on her studies.
As she approached home that night the girl paused in amazement. Her mother had company, and she was laughing. Elnora entered the kitchen softly and peeped into the sitting-room. Mrs. Comstock sat in her chair holding a book and every few seconds a soft chuckle broke into a real laugh. Mark Twain was doing his work; while Mrs. Comstock was not lacking in a sense of humour. Elnora entered the room before her mother saw her. Mrs. Comstock looked up with flushed face.
“Where did you get this?” she demanded.
“I bought it,” said Elnora.
“Bought it! With all the taxes due!”
“I paid for it out of my Indian money, mother,” said Elnora. “I couldn’t bear to spend so much on myself and nothing at all on you. I was afraid to buy the dress I should have liked to, and I thought the book would be company, while I was gone. I haven’t read it, but I do hope it’s good.”
“Good! It’s the biggest piece of foolishness I have read in all my life. I’ve laughed all day, ever since I found it. I had a notion to go out and read some of it to the cows and see if they wouldn’t laugh.”
“If it made you laugh, it’s a wise book,” said Elnora.
“Wise!” cried Mrs. Comstock. “You can stake your life it’s a wise book. It takes the smartest man there is to do this kind of fooling,” and she began laughing again.
Elnora, highly satisfied with her purchase, went to her room and put on her working clothes. Thereafter she made a point of bringing a book that she thought would interest her mother, from the library every week, and leaving it on the sitting-room table. Each night she carried home at least two school books and studied until she had mastered the points of her lessons. She did her share of the work faithfully, and every available minute she was in the fields searching for cocoons, for the moths promised to become her largest source of income.