Turning on the nurse, she looked her full in the
face. The woman was gazing at the empty wallet.
’You know what was in that?’ queried
Miss Thankful. A fierce look answered her.
‘A thousand dollars!’ announced Miss Thankful.
The nurse’s lip curled. ‘Oh, you
knew that it was five,’ was Miss Thankful’s
next outburst. Still no answer, but a look which
seemed to devour the empty wallet. This look
had its effect. Miss Thankful dropped her accusatory
tone, and attempted cajolery. ’It was
his legacy to us,’ she explained. ’He
gave it to me just before he died. You shall
be paid out of it. Now will you call my sister?
She’s up and with my nephew, who came an hour
ago. Call them both; I am not afraid to remain
here for a few moments with my brother’s body.’
This appeal, or perhaps the promise, had its effect.
The nurse disappeared, after another careful look
at her patient, and Miss Thankful bounded to her feet
and began a hurried search for the missing bonds.
They could not be far away. They must be in
the room, and the room was so nearly empty that it
would take but a moment to penetrate every hiding-place.
But alas! the matter was not so simple as she thought.
She looked here, she looked there; in the bed, in
the washstand drawer, under the cushions of the only
chair, even in the grate and up the chimney; but she
found nothing—nothing! She was standing
stark and open-mouthed in the middle of the floor,
when the others entered, but recovered herself at
sight of their surprise, and, explaining what had
happened, set them all to search, sister, nephew, even
the nurse, though she was careful to keep close by
the latter with a watchfulness that let no movement
escape her. But it was all fruitless.
The bonds were not to be found, either in that room
or in any place near. They ransacked, they rummaged;
they went upstairs, they went down; they searched
every likely and every unlikely place of concealment,
but without avail. They failed to come upon
the place where he had hidden them; nor did Miss Thankful
or her sister ever see them again from that day to
“Oh!” I exclaimed; “and the nephew?
“Both went away disappointed; he to face his
disgrace about which his aunts were very reticent,
and she to seek work which was all the more necessary
to her, since she had lost her pay, with the disappearance
of these bonds, whose value I have no doubt she knew
and calculated on.”
“And the aunts, the two poor old creatures who
stare all day out of their upper window at these walls,
still believe that money to be here,” I cried.