“I guess I don’t remember it,” said Mrs. Field.
“Don’t remember it? Why, Mis’ Field, I should think you’d remember that! It was town’s talk how she followed him up. Well, she’s got him, an’ she’s been teachin’—you know she had Lois’s school—to get money for her weddin’ outfit. They say she’s got a brown silk dress to be married in, an’ a new black silk one too. Should you think the Starrs could afford any such outlay?”
“I dunno as I should,” replied Mrs. Field.
When she went out of the room presently, Mrs. Babcock turned to the others. “She didn’t act as if she cared no more about it than nothin’ at all,” she said indignantly. “She don’t act to me as if she had any more interest in Green River than Jerusalem, nor the folks that live there. I keep thinkin’ I won’t tell her another thing about it. I never see anybody so changed as she is.”
“Mebbe she ain’t well,” said Mrs. Green. “I think she looks awfully. She’s as thin as a rail, an’ she ain’t a mite of color. Lois looks better.”
“Mis’ Field never did have any flesh on her bones,” Mrs. Babcock rejoined; “an’ as for Lois, nothin’ ever did ail her but spring weather an’ fussin’. I guess Mis’ Field’s well enough, but havin’ all this property left her has made a different woman of her. I’ve seen people’s noses teeter up in the air when their purses got heavy before now.”
“It ain’t that,” said Amanda.
“What is it, then?” asked Mrs. Babcock sharply.
“I dunno. I know one thing: home’s the best place for everybody if they’ve got one.”
“I don’t think ’tis always. I b’lieve when you’re off on an excursion ticket in makin’ the best of things, for my part. To-morrow’s Sunday, an’ I expect to enjoy the meetin’ an’ seein’ the folks. I shall be kinder glad, for my part, not to see exactly the same old bonnets an’ made-over silks that I see every Sunday to home. I like a change sometimes. It puts new ideas into your head, an’ I feel as if I had spunk enough to stan’ it.”
On Sunday Mrs. Field led her procession of guests into church; and they, in their best black gowns and bonnets, sat listening to the sermon, and looking about with decorous and furtive curiosity.
Mrs. Babcock had a handsome fan with spangles on it, and she fanned herself airily, lifting her head up with the innocent importance of a stranger.
She had quite a fine bonnet, and a new mantle with some beaded fringe on it; when she stirred, it tinkled. She looked around and did not see another woman with one as handsome. It was the gala moment of her visit to Elliot. Afterward she was wont to say that when she was in Elliot she did not go out much, nobody came to the house nor anything, but she went to meeting and she enjoyed that.
It was the evening following that Mrs. Jane Maxwell came. Mrs. Field, sitting with her guests, felt a strange contraction of her heart when she heard the door open.