What Fanny did not tell Ellen was that after Lydia’s departure she had unexpectedly come upon the photograph of the picnic group under a book on her table. The faded picture with its penciled words had meant much to Fanny. She had not forgotten, she told herself, she could never forget, that day in June, before the unlooked-for arrival of the strange girl, whose coming had changed everything. Once more she lived over in imagination that perfect day, with its white clouds floating high in the blue, and the breath of clover on the wind. She and Wesley Elliot had gone quietly away into the woods after the boisterous merriment of the picnic luncheon.
“It’s safe enough, as long as we follow the stream,” Fanny had assured him, piloting the way over fallen logs and through dense thickets of pine and laurel, further and further away from the sounds of shrill laughter and the smoky smell of the camp fire, where the girls were still busy toasting marshmallows on long sticks for the youths who hovered in the rear.
The minister had expressed a keen desire to hear the rare notes of the hermit thrush; and this romantic quest led them deep into the forest. The girl paused at last on the brink of a pool, where they could see the shadowy forms of brook trout gliding through the clear, cold water.
“If we are quiet and listen,” she told him, “I think we shall hear the hermit.”
On a carpet of moss, thicker and softer than a deep-piled rug, they sat down. Not a sound broke the stillness but the gurgle of water and the soft soughing of the wind through great tree tops. The minister bared his head, as if aware of the holy spirit of solitude in the place. Neither spoke nor stirred; but the girl’s heart beat loud—so loud she feared he might hear, and drew her little cape closer above her breast. Then all at once, ringing down the somber aisles of the forest came the song of the solitary bird, exquisite, lonely, filled with an indescribable, yearning sweetness. The man’s eloquent eyes met her own in a long look.
“Wonderful!” he murmured.
His hand sought and closed upon hers for an instant. Then without further speech they returned to the picnickers. Someone—she thought it was Joyce Fulsom—snapped the joyous group at the moment of the departure. It had been a week later, that he had written the words “Lest we forget”—with a look and smile which set the girl’s pulses fluttering. But that was in June. Now it was September. Fanny, crouched by the window where Lydia Orr had been that afternoon, stared coldly at the picture. It was downright silly to have carried it about with her. She had lost it somewhere—pulling out her handkerchief, perhaps. Had Lydia Orr found and brought it back? She ardently wished she knew; but in the meanwhile—
She tore the picture deliberately across, thereby accomplishing unhindered what Wesley Elliot had attempted several days before; then she burned the fragments in the quick spurt of a lighted match.... Lest we forget, indeed!