“Oh, Mis’ Field, you didn’t have to lose all that money!”
“Yes, I did, every dollar of it.”
“I declare it’s wicked.”
“There’s a good many things that’s wicked, an’ sometimes I think some things ain’t wicked that we’ve always thought was. I don’t know but the Lord meant everybody to have what belonged to them in spite of everything.”
Mrs. Green stared. “I guess I don’t know jest what you mean, Mis’ Field.”
“I meant everybody ought to have what’s their just due, an’ I believe the Lord will uphold them in it. I’ve about come to the conclusion that folks ought to lay hold of justice themselves if there ain’t no other way, an’ that’s what we’ve got hands for.” Suddenly Mrs. Field’s manner changed. “I know Lois hadn’t ought to be teachin’ school as well as you do,” said she. “I ain’t said much about it, it ain’t my way, but I’ve known it all the time.”
“She’d ought to take a vacation, Mis’ Field, an’ get away from here for a spell. Folks say Green River ain’t very healthy. They say these low meadow-lands are bad. I worried enough about it after my Abby died, thinkin’ what might have been done. It does seem to me that if something was done right away, Lois might get up; but there ain’t no use waitin’. I’ve seen young girls go down; it seems sometimes as if there wa’n’t nothin’ more to them than flowers, an’ they fade away in a day. I’ve been all through it. Mis’ Field, you don’t mind my speakin’ so, do you? Oh, Mis’ Field, don’t feel so bad! I’m real sorry I said anythin’.”
Mrs. Field was shaking with great sobs. “I ain’t—blamin’ you,” she said, brokenly.
Mrs. Green got out her own handkerchief. “Mis’ Field, I wouldn’t have spoken a word, but—I felt as if something ought to be done, if there could be; an’—I thought—so much about my—poor Abby. Lois always makes me think of her; she’s jest about her build; an’—I didn’t know as you—realized.”
“I realized enough,” returned Mrs. Field, catching her breath as she walked on.
“Now I hope you don’t feel any worse because I spoke as I did,” Mrs. Green said, when they reached the gate of the Pratt house.
“You ain’t told me anything I didn’t know,” replied Mrs. Field.
Mrs. Green felt for one of her distorted hands; she held it a second, then she dropped it. Mrs. Field let it hang stiffly the while. It was a fervent demonstration to them, the evidence of unwonted excitement and the deepest feeling. When Mrs. Field entered her sitting-room, the first object that met her eyes was Lois’ face. She was tilted back in the rocking-chair, her slender throat was exposed, her lips were slightly parted, and there was a glassy gleam between her half-open eyelids. Her mother stood looking at her.