“Four thousand dollars!” he announced at last in a voice of disappointment.
“And a lucky thing,” said Hughie with an air of pride, “that I thought of the fireplace. For it might have laid there buried for the rest of time.”
“Four thousand dollars!” gasped Hannah in a reverential voice. “Four thousand dollars! Well, Mr. O’Neill, it may not be much, as you seem to think after all the dots you and Hughie have been a-diggin’, but I say it’s a lot. It ought to buy the child all the frocks and teachers in New York.”
“It will see her through the year,” said Kenny.
Joan’s eyes widened.
“It would see me through a decade!” she exclaimed.
Peace came mercifully to Craig farm with the finding of Adam’s money.
“Toby,” Joan whispered to the cat, her soft cheek pressed against his fur, “I’m going away. And I can’t believe it! I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!”
“Toby will miss you,” said Hannah. “And so will I. And so will Hughie and Hetty.” She cleared her throat. “As for Mr. O’Neill, Toby won’t be likely to miss him at all. He’s stepped too many inches off his tail. Hughie thinks it must be paralyzed. I never saw Mr. O’Neill headin’ for a new dot but what I knew Toby would be sure to stick his tail in the way and start a row.”
Joan’s face clouded.
“Oh, Hannah, if only I knew where Donald is!”
“I wish you did, dear.”
“It seems so dreadful with Uncle gone and everything changed. And Donald doesn’t even know. Think, Hannah, I may pass him in the train.”
“You may,” said Hannah. “And then again you mayn’t.”
“What if he comes home? What if he writes? It seems that I just should be here.”
“If he writes, I’ll send the letter. And if he comes, Hughie can ride down and telegraph you word.”
“It’s snowing,” exclaimed Joan at the kitchen window. “Harder and harder. Oh, Hannah, if it keeps up we shan’t be able to go to Briston to-morrow for my suit.”
“We’ll go in the sleigh. Hughie spoke of it at breakfast.”
“A brown suit,” mused Joan with shining eyes. “A brown hat and furs! Think, Hannah! Furs! I do hope I shall look well in them.”
“Mr. O’Neill said you would and he ought to know.”
Joan laughed and blushed.
At twilight the next night she came home dressed warmly in furs and a suit the color of her eyes.
“She would wear it home, Mr. O’Neill,” whispered Hannah on ahead. “And all, I think, to surprise you.”
Often afterward Kenny remembered her there in the half twilight of the kitchen, joyously crying out his name. There had been a glimmer of shining tin, a halo of light from the tilted stove-lids, purple at the window panes and beyond snow and the distant tinkle of sleighbells in the barn. Hetty, he remembered, had lighted the kitchen lamp and gasped. A lovely child, proud and mischievous! Her youth startled him.