So she merely glanced at the superscriptions on the envelopes to see if the letters were from any of her relatives or friends, and, failing to recognize either of them, she put them into her handbag, intending to read them at the first opportunity next morning. Then she went to bed and fell asleep almost instantly.
Marion was awakened in the morning by her roommate, Helen Nash, who had quietly arisen half an hour earlier. The latter was almost ready for breakfast when she woke her friend from a sleep that promised to continue several hours longer unless interrupted. She had turned on the electric light and was standing before the glass combing her hair. Marion glanced at the clock to see what time it was, but the face was turned away from her and the light in the room made it impossible for her to observe through the window shades that day was just breaking.
“What time is it, Helen?” she asked. “Did the alarm go off? I didn’t hear it. What waked you up?”
Helen did not answer at once. For a moment or two her manner seemed to indicate that she did not hear the questions of the girl in bed. Then, as if suddenly rescuing her mind from thoughts that appealed to have carried her away into some far distant abstraction, she replied thus, in a series of disconnected utterances:
“No, the alarm didn’t go off—a—Marion. I got up at 6 o’clock. I turned the alarm off. It is 6:30 now. I don’t know what woke me. I just woke up.”
Marion arose, wondering at the peculiar manner of her roommate and the strained, almost convulsive, tone of her voice. She asked no further questions, but proceeded with her dressing and preparation for breakfast. For the time being, she forgot all about the two letters in her handbag that lay on her dresser.
In some respects Helen was a peculiar girl. If her speech and action had been characterized with more vim, vigor and imagination, doubtlessly she would generally have been known as a pretty girl. As it was, her features were regular, her complexion fair, her eyes blue, and her hair a light brown. Marion thought her pretty, but Marion had associated with her intimately for two or three years, and had discovered qualities in her that mere acquaintances could never have discovered. She had found Helen apparently to be possessed of a strong, direct conception of integrity, never vacillating in manner or sympathies. Moreover, she exhibited a quiet, unwavering capability in her work that always commanded the respect, and occasionally the admiration, of both classmates and teachers.
Not only was Helen quiet of disposition, but strangely secretive on certain subjects. For instance, she seldom said anything about her home or relatives. She lived in Villa Park, a small town midway between Westmoreland and Hollyhill. Her father was dead, and, when not at school, she had lived with her mother; these two, so far as Marion knew, constituting the entire family.