On that same Wednesday morning all of the Pettengill family were together at the breakfast table. The conversation naturally turned to Mrs. Putnam’s death, and Ezekiel remarked “that she was a nice old lady, and that she and his mother were great friends. It beats all,” continued he, “the way Lindy has acted. Abner Stiles told me that she took the half-past three train to Boston, and he said Bob Wood took over an express wagon full of trunks. Samanthy Green told Stiles that Lindy hadn’t left a single thing in the house that belonged to her, and it don’t look as though she was comin’ back to the funeral.”
During this recital, Alice listened intently. She flushed then grew pale, and finally burst into tears. All present, of course, attributed her agitation to her well known love for Mrs. Putnam.
“Shall I go upstairs with you, Sis?” asked Ezekiel.
“No,” said Alice, drying her eyes, “I’m going into the parlor. I told Mandy to build a fire there, and I want you and Uncle Ike and Mr. Sawyer to come with me.”
When they were gathered in the parlor, Alice began her story. Every word said by the dead woman had burned itself deep into her memory, and from the time she entered the sick room until she fell exhausted upon the stairway, after calling loudly for Samanthy and Lindy, not a word was missing from the thrilling narrative. Her audience, including even Quincy, listened intently to the dramatically told story, and they could almost see the frenzied face, the pointed finger, and hear the wild, mocking laugh.
For a few moments nothing was said. Finally, Ezekiel broke the silence.
“Well, I guess,” said he, “that will of her’n will stand, all right. Lindy’s got enough of her own; she won’t be likely to interfere; and I never he’rd of their havin’ any other relatives.”
Then Uncle Ike spoke up. “I shall go to the funeral, of course, next Friday, and I shall expect to hear the Rev. Mr. Howe stand up in his pulpit and tell us what a good Christian woman Hepsy was; she was so kind and so benevolent, and so regardful of the feelings of others, and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if you went and told him what you’ve told us, Alice; he’d say just the same thing.”
“Oh, hush! Uncle Ike,” cried Alice, pleadingly; “she was a good woman, excepting on that one point, and you must own that she had some provocation. Let me ask you a question, Uncle Ike. How far should promises made to the dead be kept?”
“Just so far,” replied Uncle Ike, “as they do not interfere with the just rights of the living. Where is that letter that she wanted you to destroy?” he asked.
“Here it is,” said Alice, and she took it from the bosom of her dress.
“Well,” said Uncle Ike, “if I were in your place I’d open that letter, read it, and if it was likely to be of any value to Miss Putnam in finding her parents or relatives, I’d hunt her up and give it to her. Mrs. Putnam owned up that she lied about it, and the whole thing, any way, may be a bluff. Perhaps it’s only blank paper, after all.”