Well, that made me feel very unhappy. For I could see that under Tom’s gay exterior and funny way of saying things he really meant every word. Of course I told him that I had wanted to help Lorraine and Peggy because they were so wretched, and he made me promise on the spot that if ever I wanted to help him I’d tell him about it first. Then he went off to the hotel looking more cheerful, and I was left alone with my sad thoughts.
When I got into the house the first thing I saw was Billy sneaking out of the back door. I had meant to have a long and earnest talk with Billy the minute he got home, and point out some of his serious faults, but when I looked at him I saw that mamma or grandma had just done it. He looked red eyed and miserable, and the minute he saw me he began to whistle. Billy never whistles except just before or just after a whipping, so my heart sank, and I was dreadfully sorry for him. I started after him to tell him so, but he made a face at me and ran; and just then Aunt Elizabeth came along the hall and dragged me up to her room and began to ask me all over again about Mr. Goward and all that he said—whether I was perfectly sure he didn’t mention any name. She looked worried and unhappy. Then she asked about Lorraine, but in an indifferent voice, as if she was really thinking about something else. I told her all I knew, but she didn’t say a word or pay much attention until I mentioned that the man in the photograph was Mr. Lyman Wilde. Then—well, I wish you had seen Aunt Elizabeth! She made me promise afterwards that I’d never tell a single soul what happened, and I won’t. But I do wish sometimes that Billy and I lived on a desert island, where there wasn’t anybody else. I just can’t bear being home when everybody is so unhappy, and when not a single thing I do helps the least little bit!
by John Kendrick Bangs