“You’ll have to wear the striped stockings after this,” said Una. “Just think how the boys in school will laugh at you. You know how they laugh at Mamie Warren for her striped stockings and call her barber pole and yours are far worse.”
“I won’t wear them,” said Faith. “I’ll go barefooted first, cold as it is.”
“You can’t go barefooted to church to-morrow. Think what people would say.”
“Then I’ll stay home.”
“You can’t. You know very well Aunt Martha will make you go.”
Faith did know this. The one thing on which Aunt Martha troubled herself to insist was that they must all go to church, rain or shine. How they were dressed, or if they were dressed at all, never concerned her. But go they must. That was how Aunt Martha had been brought up seventy years ago, and that was how she meant to bring them up.
“Haven’t you got a pair you can lend me, Una?” said poor Faith piteously.
Una shook her head. “No, you know I only have the one black pair. And they’re so tight I can hardly get them on. They wouldn’t go on you. Neither would my gray ones. Besides, the legs of them are all darned and darned.”
“I won’t wear those striped stockings,” said Faith stubbornly. “The feel of them is even worse than the looks. They make me feel as if my legs were as big as barrels and they’re so scratchy.”
“Well, I don’t know what you’re going to do.”
“If father was home I’d go and ask him to get me a new pair before the store closes. But he won’t be home till too late. I’ll ask him Monday—and I won’t go to church tomorrow. I’ll pretend I’m sick and Aunt Martha’ll have to let me stay home.”
“That would be acting a lie, Faith,” cried Una. “You can’t do that. You know it would be dreadful. What would father say if he knew? Don’t you remember how he talked to us after mother died and told us we must always be true, no matter what else we failed in. He said we must never tell or act a lie—he said he’d trust us not to. You can’t do it, Faith. Just wear the striped stockings. It’ll only be for once. Nobody will notice them in church. It isn’t like school. And your new brown dress is so long they won’t show much. Wasn’t it lucky Aunt Martha made it big, so you’d have room to grow in it, for all you hated it so when she finished it?”
“I won’t wear those stockings,” repeated Faith. She uncoiled her bare, white legs from the tombstone and deliberately walked through the wet, cold grass to the bank of snow. Setting her teeth, she stepped upon it and stood there.
“What are you doing?” cried Una aghast. “You’ll catch your death of cold, Faith Meredith.”
“I’m trying to,” answered Faith. “I hope I’ll catch a fearful cold and be awful sick to-morrow. Then I won’t be acting a lie. I’m going to stand here as long as I can bear it.”