Deborah went out, and shut the door heavily after her.
After Deborah Thayer had shut the door, the young girl sitting beside it arose. “I didn’t know she was in here, or I wouldn’t have come in,” she said, nervously.
“That don’t make any odds,” replied Mrs. Barnard, who was trembling all over, and had sunk helplessly into a rocking-chair, which she swayed violently and unconsciously.
Cephas opened the door of the brick oven, and put in a batch of his pies, and the click of the iron latch made her start as if it were a pistol-shot.
Charlotte got up and went out of the room with a backward glance and a slight beckoning motion of her head, and the girl slunk after her so secretly that it seemed as if she did not see herself. Cephas looked sharply after them, but said nothing; he was like a philosopher in such a fury of research and experiment that for the time he heeded thoroughly nothing else.
The young girl, who was Rose Berry, Charlotte’s cousin, followed her panting up the steep stairs to her chamber. She was a slender little creature, and was now overwrought with nervous excitement. She fairly gasped for breath when she sat down in the little wooden chair in Charlotte’s room. Charlotte sat on the bed. The two girls looked at each other—Rose with a certain wary alarm and questioning in her eyes, Charlotte with a dignified confidence of misery.
“I didn’t sleep here last night,” Charlotte said, at length.
“You went over to Aunt Sylvy’s, didn’t you?” returned Rose, as if that were all the matter in hand.
Charlotte nodded, then she looked moodily past her cousin’s face out of the window.
“You’ve heard about it, I suppose?” said Charlotte.
“Something,” replied Rose, evasively.
“I don’t see how it got out, for my part. I don’t believe he told anybody.”
Rose flushed all over her little eager face and her thin neck. She opened her mouth as if to speak, then shut it with a catch of her breath.
“I can’t imagine how it got out,” repeated Charlotte.
Rose looked at Charlotte with a painful effort; she clutched her hands tightly into fists as she spoke. “I was coming up here ’cross lots last night, and I heard you out in the road calling Barney,” she said, as if she forced out the words.
“Rose Berry, you didn’t tell!”
“I went home and told mother, that’s all. I didn’t think that it would do any harm, Charlotte.”
“It’ll be all over town, that’s all. It’s bad enough, anyway.”
“I don’t believe it’ll get out; I told mother not to tell.”
“Mrs. Thayer knew.”
“Maybe Barney told her.”
“Rose Berry, you know better. You know Barney wouldn’t do such a thing.”
“No; I don’t s’pose he would.”
“Don’t suppose! Don’t you know?”