Her mother went up to her, and stood close at her side. “Lois,” said she, with trembling solemnity, “can’t you trust mother?”
“O mother, I don’t know! I don’t know! You frighten me dreadfully.” Lois shrank away from her mother as she wept.
Mrs. Field stood over her, but she did not offer to touch her. Indeed, this New England mother and daughter rarely or never caressed each other. “Lois, dear child, mother don’t want you to feel so. Oh, you dear child, you dear child, you don’t know what mother’s goin’ through. But it ain’t anything to you. Lois, you remember that; it ain’t anything you’ve done. It’s all my doin’s. I’m jest goin’ to get that money back. An’ it’s right I should. Don’t you worry nothin’ about it. Now take your hat off, an’ let mother tuck you up on the sofa.”
Lois, sobbing still, began pulling off her hat mechanically. Her mother got a pillow, and she lay down on the sofa, turning her face to the wall with another outburst of tears. Her mother spread her black shawl carefully over her.
“Now you lay here still, an’ get rested,” said she. “I’m goin’ out in the kitchen, an’ see if I can’t start up a fire an’ get something for supper.”
Mrs. Field went out of the room. Soon her tall black figure sped stealthily past the windows out of the yard. She found a grocery store, and purchased some small necessaries. There were groceries already in the pantry at the Maxwell house. She had spied them, but would not touch a single article. She bought some tea, and when she returned, replaced the drawing she had taken that morning from the Maxwell caddy.
The old woman’s will, always vigorous, never giving place to another except through its own choice, now whipped by this great stress into a fierce impetus, carried her daughter’s, strong as it was for a young girl, before it. Lois lay quietly on the sofa. When her mother called her, she went out in the kitchen and ate her supper.
They retired early. Lois lay on the sofa until her mother came in and stood over her with a lighted lamp.
“I guess you’d better get up and go to bed now, Lois,” said she. “I’m goin’ myself, if it is early. I’m pretty tired.”
And Lois stirred herself wearily and got up.
There were two adjoining bedrooms opening out of the sitting-room. Mrs. Field had prepared the beds that afternoon. “I thought we’d better sleep in here,” said she, leading the way to them.
Lois had the inner room. After the lamp was blown out and everything was dark, her mother heard a soft stir and the pat of a naked foot in there, then she heard the door swing to with a cautious creak and the bolt slide. She knew with a great pang, that Lois had locked her door against her mother.
Elliot was only a little way from the coast, and sometimes seemed to be pervaded by the very spirit of the sea. The air would be full of salt vigor, the horizon sky take on the level, out-reaching blue of a water distance, and the clouds stand one way like white sails.