Maida knew what they were talking about—Granny had often told her the sad story of her lost daughter.
“What town in Ireland did you live in, Granny?” Billy asked.
“Aldigarey, County Sligo.” “Now don’t you get discouraged, Granny,” Billy said, “I’m going to find your daughter for you.”
He jumped to his feet and walked about the room. “I’m something of a detective myself, and you’ll see I’ll make good on this job if it takes twenty years.”
“Oh, Billy, do—please do,” Maida burst in. “It will make Granny so happy.”
Granny seemed happier already. She dried her tears.
“’Tis the good b’y ye are, Misther Billy,” she said gratefully.
“Yes, m’m,” said Billy.
The next week was a week of trouble for Maida. Everything seemed to go wrong from the first tinkle of the bell, Monday morning, to the last tinkle Saturday night.
It began with a conversation.
Rosie came marching in early Monday, head up, eyes flaming.
“Maida,” she began at once, in her quickest, briskest tone, “I’ve got something to tell you. Laura Lathrop came over to Dicky’s house the other day while the W.M.N.T.’s were meeting and she told us the greatest mess of stuff about you. I told her I was coming right over and tell you about it and she said, ‘All right, you can.’ Laura said that you said that last summer you had a birthday party that you invited five hundred children to. She said that you said that you had a May-pole at this party and a fish pond and a Punch and Judy show and all sorts of things. She said that you said that you had a big doll-house and a little theater all your own. I said that I didn’t believe that you told her all that. Did you?”
“Oh, yes, I told her that—and more,” Maida answered directly.
“Laura said it was all a pack of lies, but I don’t believe that. Is it all true?”
“It’s all true,” Maida said.
Rosie looked at her hard. “You know, Maida,” she went on after awhile, “you told me about a lot of birds and animals that your father had. I thought he kept a bird-place. But Dicky says you told him that your father had twelve peacocks, not in a store, but in a place where he lives.” She paused and looked inquiringly at Maida.
Maida answered the look. “Yes, I told him that.”
“And it’s all true?” Rosie asked again.
“Yes, it’s all true,” Maida repeated.
Rosie hesitated a moment. “Harold Lathrop says that you’re daffy.”
Maida said nothing.
“Arthur Duncan says,” Rosie went on more timidly, “that you probably dreamed those things.”
Still Maida said nothing.
“Do you think you did dream them, Maida?”
Maida smiled. “No, I didn’t dream them.”
“Well, I thought of another thing,” Rosie went on eagerly. “Miss Allison told mother that Granny told her that you’d been sick for a long time. And I thought, maybe you were out of your head and imagined those things. Oh, Maida,” Rosie’s voice actually coaxed her to favor this theory, “don’t you think you imagined them?”