There was a pause, a soft wind came into the room, the noise of the frogs grew louder, a whippoorwill called; it seemed as if the wide night were flowing in at the windows.
“What I want to know is,” said Mrs. Field, “if you will take Lois in here to meals, an’ look after her a week or two. Be you willin’ to?”
“You ain’t goin’ away, Mis’ Field?” There was a slow and contained surprise in Amanda’s tone.
“Yes, I be; to-morrow mornin’, if I live, on the early train. I be, if you’re willin’ to take Lois. I don’t see how I can leave her any other way as she is now. You sha’n’t be any loser by it, if you’ll take her.”
“Where be you goin’, Mis’ Field?”
“I don’t want you to say anything about it. I don’t want it all over town.”
“I sha’n’t say anything.”
“Well, I’m goin’ down to Elliot.”
“Yes, I be. Old Mr. Maxwell’s dead. I had a letter a night or two ago.”
Amanda gasped, “He’s dead?”
“What was the matter, do you know?”
“They called it paralysis. It was sudden.”
Amanda hesitated. “I s’pose—you know anything about—his property?” said she.
“Yes; he left it all to my sister.”
“Why, Mis’ Field!”
“Yes; he left every cent of it to her.”
“Oh, ain’t it dreadful she’s dead?”
“It’s all been dreadful right along,” said Mrs. Field.
“Of course,” said Amanda, “I know she’s better off than she’d be with all the money in the world; it ain’t that; but it would do so much good to the livin’. Why, look here, Mis’ Field, I dun’no’ anything about law, but won’t you have it if your sister’s dead?”
“I’m goin’ down there.”
“It seems as if you’d ought to have somethin’ anyway, after all you’ve done, lettin’ his son have your money an’ everything.”
Amanda spoke with stern warmth. She had known about this grievance of her neighbor’s for a long time.
“I’m goin’ down there,” repeated Mrs. Field.
“I would,” said Amanda.
“I hate to leave Lois,” said Mrs. Field; “but I don’t see any other way.”
“I’ll take her,” said Amanda, “if you’re willin’ to trust her with me.”
“I’ve got to,” replied Mrs. Field.
“Well, I’ll do the best I can,” replied Amanda.
She was considerably shaken. She felt her knees tremble. It was as if she were working a new tidy or rug pattern. Any variation of her peaceful monotony of existence jarred her whole nature like heavy wheels, and this was a startling one.
She wondered how Mrs. Field could bring herself to leave Lois. It seemed to her that she must have hopes of all the old man’s property.
After Mrs. Field had gone home, and she, primly comfortable in her starched and ruffled dimities, lay on her high feather-bed between her smooth sheets, she settled it in her own mind that her neighbor would certainly have the property. She wondered if she and Lois would go to Elliot to live, and who would live in her tenement. The change was hard for her to contemplate, and she wept a little. Many a happiness comes to its object with outriders of sorrows to others.