“Our quilter is gone,” said Miss Chrissy. This time there was no whispered echo; only a gentle sighing all around. But some of the scallops in the yellow box were not without fresh adventures; and these I heard.
That winter, Miss Phoebe fell on the slippery little side alley. There were no bones broken, but she, too, sank to rest in the old gray churchyard.
It was three years before I went back. Then they said, “Miss Chrissy is alone.” Alone I found her. She was little changed. The brightness had merely gone from her smile. I noticed that her talk was less of her patterns, and more of the gray slabs. She no longer clung to the proud little boast, “I design my own patterns.” She was apt to tell what Suffy said, or Polly, or Phoebe, not forgetting Becky, our quilter.
“No,” she said, when I asked: “Polly was not sick. She said in the morning, ‘Chrissy, do you ever feel strange in your head?’ Next morning she did not wake up. Suffy was never as strong as the rest—her back was bad; so when she had a sort of fit one day, it was soon over.”
“You don’t—you can’t—stay here all alone?”
“No, Mrs. John, Henrietta is with me. You know Henrietta? She belongs to the people down stairs. I shan’t forget her kindness.”
“Are you very lonely, Miss Chrissy?” I asked, choking down the tears.
“No, not lonely. The dear Lord is with me; He will stay to the end. No, Mrs. John, not lonely.”
She had always refrained, in diffidence, or humility, from religious talk. I know it was from no lack of deep spiritual conviction. If ever the world contained a purer, sweeter sisterhood, I have not known it. Their work was homely, as their lives were secluded, but no one ever saw them idle or impatient. In one straight and narrow path they walked through earth’s temptations to heaven’s reward.
One of the last things she said to me was that I should take some of the choicest patterns to my western home, notably “little John’s first short dress edge.”
“You have been a helper to us in more ways than one. God will bless you, Mrs. John.”
“Is there nothing you would have me do now? Dear Miss Chrissy, do not hesitate to speak.”
She did hesitate. “I don’t think of anything. My papers have long been drawn up. Lawyer Thomas will attend to them. You know our little savings are to go to the Home for Aged Women.”
I never saw her again. Sitting one day, placid and patient, she fell asleep over the yellow box; and when they lifted the soft white old face, all was still.
“Here we are, safe and sound,” cheerily said the driver of the huge black ambulance, as he pulled up before the piazza of Crestdale, the beautiful villa whose tower had been tantalizing the travelers for several miles.