“Tell everybody,” she cried; “tell Mrs. Packard and all who live in the house; but keep it secret from the woman who keeps that little shop. We are afraid of her; she haunts this neighborhood to get at these very bonds. She was the nurse who cared for my brother, and it was to escape her greed that he hid this money. If she knew that we had found these our lives wouldn’t be safe. Wait till we have them in the bank.”
“Assuredly. I shall tell no one.”
“But you must tell those at home,” she smiled; and the beaming light in her kindled eye followed me the few steps I had to take, and even into the door.
So Bess had been the old man’s nurse’!
THE MORNING NEWS
That evening I was made a heroine of by Mrs. Packard and all the other members of the household. Even Nixon thawed and showed me his genial side. I had to repeat my story above stairs—and below, and relate just what the old ladies had done and said, and how they bore their joy, and whatever I thought they would do with their money now they had it. When I at last reached my room, my first act was to pull aside my shade and take a peep at the old attic window. Miss Charity’s face was there, but so smiling and gay I hardly knew it. She kissed her hand to me as I nodded my head, and then turned away with her light as if to show me she had only been waiting to give me this joyous good night.
This was a much better picture to sleep on than the former one had been.
Next day I settled back into my old groove. Mrs. Packard busied herself with her embroidery and I read to her or played on the piano. Happier days seemed approaching, nay, had come. We enjoyed two days of it, then trouble settled down on us once more.
It began on Friday afternoon. Mrs. Packard and I had been out making some arrangements for the projected dinner-party and I had stopped for a minute in the library before going up-stairs.
A pile of mail lay on the table. Running this over with a rapid hand, she singled out several letters which she began to open. Their contents seemed far from satisfactory. Exclamation after exclamation left her lips, her agitation increasing with each one she read, and her haste, too, till finally it seemed sufficient for her just to glance at the unfolded sheet before letting it drop. When the last one had left her hand, she turned and, encountering my anxious look, bitterly remarked:
“We need not have made those arrangements this morning. Seven regrets in this mail and two in the early one. Nine regrets in all! and I sent out only ten invitations. What is the meaning of it? I begin to feel myself ostracized.”
I did not understand it any more than she did.
“Invite others,” I suggested, and was sorry for my presumption the next minute.