“Let me go in,” he said, pushing her gently aside.
The lights, turned high in the quiet room, revealed only emptiness and disorder; drawers and wardrobes pulled wide, scattered garments apparently dropped at random on chairs and tables. The carpet, drawn aside in one corner, disclosed a shallow aperture in the floor, from which the boards had been lifted.
“Why— What?” stammered the girl, all the high courage gone from her face. “What has happened?”
He picked up a box—a common cigar box—from amid the litter of abandoned clothing. It was quite empty save for a solitary slip of greenish paper which had somehow adhered to the bottom.
Lydia clutched the box in both trembling hands, staring with piteous eyes at the damning evidence of that bit of paper.
“Money!” she whispered. “He must have hidden it before—before— Oh, father, father!”
History is said to repeat itself, as if indeed the world were a vast pendulum, swinging between events now inconceivably remote, and again menacing and near. And if in things great and heroic, so also in the less significant aspects of life.
Mrs. Henry Daggett stood, weary but triumphant, amid the nearly completed preparations for a reception in the new church parlors, her broad, rosy face wearing a smile of satisfaction.
“Don’t it look nice?” she said, by way of expressing her overflowing contentment.
Mrs. Maria Dodge, evergreen wreaths looped over one arm, nodded.
“It certainly does look fine, Abby,” said she. “And I guess nobody but you would have thought of having it.”
Mrs. Daggett beamed. “I thought of it the minute I heard about that city church that done it. I call it a real tasty way to treat a minister as nice as ours.”
“So ’tis,” agreed Mrs. Dodge with the air of complacent satisfaction she had acquired since Fanny’s marriage to the minister. “And I think Wesley’ll appreciate it.”
Mrs. Daggett’s face grew serious. Then her soft bosom heaved with mirth.
“’Tain’t everybody that’s lucky enough to have a minister right in the family,” said she briskly. “Mebbe if I was to hear a sermon preached every day in the week I’d get some piouser myself. I’ve been comparing this with the fair we had last summer. It ain’t so grand, but it’s newer. A fair’s like a work of nature, Maria; sun and rain and dew, and the scrapings from the henyard, all mixed with garden ground to fetch out cabbages, potatoes or roses. God gives the increase.”
Mrs. Dodge stared at her friend in amazement.
“That sounds real beautiful, Abby,” she said. “You must have thought it all out.”
“That’s just what I done,” confirmed Mrs. Daggett happily. “I’m always meditating about something, whilst I’m working ‘round th’ house. And it’s amazing what thoughts’ll come to a body from somewheres.... What you going to do with them wreaths, Maria?”