So my trial was not so hard as I had expected, and father was just as wise as mother, and I alone rebellious concerning his departure. I cried night and day whenever I could get a moment to cry in, and I could not help it. How perverse I felt, although doing all I could to forward his departure, which was daily coming nearer, and when the 4th of July came and with it the gala day which the entire country about us enjoyed, I could not and did not go to the pic-nic, or the speech ground, and I succeeded in making all at home nearly as unhappy as myself.
Some people believe in predestination (or “fore-ordering,” as Aunt Ruth used to call it), and some do not. I never knew what I believed about events and their happening, but it was certainly true I learned to know that my efforts to hurry or retard anything were in one sense entirely futile—that is, when I did not work in unison with my surroundings, and made haste only when impelled. If I could have felt thus concerning Hal’s departure, I should have been of more service to him, and saved myself from hearing “Oh, Emily, don’t,” falling as an entreaty from his lips, at sight of my swelled eyes and woeful countenance. I think he was heartily glad of the innovation made in our family circle, which, of itself, was as wonderful to me as the story of Aladdin’s Lamp to the mind of a child. It happened so strangely too. Before I tell you of this event I must explain that our family circle consisted of father, mother, Halbert, Ben and myself. It was half past six in the evening of July 8, 18—, and we had just finished supper, when a loud knock was heard at the back door, and opening it we received a letter from the hands of a neighbor, who came over from the post-office and kindly brought our mail with him. We received a good many letters for farming people, and I had kept up a perfect fire of correspondence with Mary Snow ever since she went to the home of her uncle, who lived some twenty miles distant, but this appeared to be a double letter, and mother broke the seal, while we all listened to her as she read it. It is not necessary to quote the whole of it, but the gist of the matter was this: A distant cousin of father’s who had never seen any of us, nor any member of the family to which her mother and my father belonged, had settled in the city of ——, about thirty miles from our little village. Her husband dying shortly afterward, she was left a widow with one child, a son. In some unaccountable way she had heard of father, and she now wrote telling us that she proposed to come to see us the very next day, only two days before Hal was to leave us. She went on to say that she hoped her visit would not be an intrusion, but she wanted to see us, and if we could only accommodate her during the summer she would be so glad to stay, and would be willing to remunerate us doubly. Mother said simply, “Well, she must come.” Father looked at her and said nothing, while I flew at the supper dishes attacking them so ferociously that I should have broken them all, I guess, had not mother said gently,