“Where are you going?” asked Mrs. Brigham.
“I have something to see to,” replied Caroline, and the others at once knew by her tone that she had some solemn and sad duty to perform in the chamber of death.
“Oh,” said Mrs. Brigham.
After the door had closed behind Caroline, she turned to Rebecca.
“Did Henry have many words with him?” she asked.
“They were talking very loud,” replied Rebecca evasively.
Mrs. Brigham looked at her. She had not resumed rocking. She still sat up straight, with a slight knitting of intensity on her fair forehead, between the pretty rippling curves of her auburn hair.
“Did you—ever hear anything?” she asked in a low voice with a glance toward the door.
“I was just across the hall in the south parlor, and that door was open and this door ajar,” replied Rebecca with a slight flush.
“Then you must have——”
“I couldn’t help it.”
“Most of it.”
“What was it?”
“The old story.”
“I suppose Henry was mad, as he always was, because Edward was living on here for nothing, when he had wasted all the money father left him.”
Rebecca nodded, with a fearful glance at the door.
When Emma spoke again her voice was still more hushed. “I know how he felt,” said she. “It must have looked to him as if Edward was living at his expense, but he wasn’t.”
“No, he wasn’t.”
“And Edward had a right here according to the terms of father’s will, and Henry ought to have remembered it.”
“Yes, he ought.”
“Did he say hard things?”
“Pretty hard, from what I heard.”
“I heard him tell Edward that he had no business here at all, and he thought he had better go away.”
“What did Edward say?”
“That he would stay here as long as he lived and afterward, too, if he was a mind to, and he would like to see Henry get him out; and then——”
“Then he laughed.”
“What did Henry say?”
“I didn’t hear him say anything, but——”
“I saw him when he came out of this room.”
“He looked mad?”
“You’ve seen him when he looked so.”
Emma nodded. The expression of horror on her face had deepened.
“Do you remember that time he killed the cat because she had scratched him?”
Then Caroline reentered the room; she went up to the stove, in which a wood fire was burning—it was a cold, gloomy day of fall—and she warmed her hands, which were reddened from recent washing in cold water.
Mrs. Brigham looked at her and hesitated. She glanced at the door, which was still ajar; it did not easily shut, being still swollen with the damp weather of the summer. She rose and pushed it together with a sharp thud, which jarred the house. Rebecca started painfully with a half-exclamation. Caroline looked at her disapprovingly.