Belle was mean enough to get it all from Mamie Sue without Mamie Sue suspecting that she was telling anything that would hurt me; and Belle told Helena and Helena told the ladylike Petway, who told his father, who told Judge Luttrell before night. The Judge sent for the Idol before breakfast this morning and told him that he was an idiot to let such a thing be stolen and he is beginning all kinds of prosecutions and things against Father, though my noble hearted friend won’t sign them on account of his esteem for me. And, of course, the whole town knows of it and is excited. It is not astonishing that Byrdsville is wild to find out that it has reared a great inventor, only to have his first fruits stolen. I feel with Byrdsville, even if they feel against me. Some of this Roxanne told me and some of it is my own surmise that came to me as we stood behind that old lilac bush.
“I don’t believe it, but if it is true, you won’t let your father’s having done my brother that way make any difference in the way you love us, Lovey and Douglass and me, will you, Phyllis? We just need you that much more to help us through with the starving and freezing for the new invention that we are going to take better care of.” Through all my misery I ask myself if any girl in the whole wide world ever had a friend like Roxanne Byrd?
And as if having Roxanne hold me in both arms and love me beyond my wildest expectations was not enough, what should happen to me? The Idol came around the bush full of blooms where we stood, and did likewise. He put his long arms around Roxanne and me and hugged us both up like we were not any bigger than Lovelace Peyton.
“You two precious kiddies are not to pay any attention to disagreeable things that are not any of your business,” he said in his wonderful voice that was as big and booming and comforting as any anthem sung in church where a sinner goes for help. That’s what it sounded like to me.
“That’s what I tell Phyllis, Douglass—she’s more valuable than the loss of any kind of a big fortune, that we really don’t need at all to make us happy, while we do need her.” Roxanne was laughing and crying and hugging me so that she got herself mixed in her words in a perfectly beautiful and loving way.
I am glad that my affection for these kind friends inspired me so that I could answer them like I wanted to—at least I tried so hard to say how I felt that I almost succeeded.
“You are both the best friends that were ever created for a lonely girl,” I answered, drawing out of both pairs of arms, and looking them both square in the face. “But I am my father’s daughter and must suffer for his sins, if he has them. If he has done this dreadful thing, which I don’t believe, then I don’t deserve your friendliness, and I can’t take what it is not right for me to have. I’m going home and stay there until he comes, and then if he can’t explain and has to pay any penalty I’m going to do it with him.”