Old Mrs. Lathrop looked again as though she were saying “You gump!” and said aloud, “Why, there’s James, going to New York on business in a few days anyhow. He can just go now, and take her along and put her on the right train at Albany. If he wires from here, they’ll meet her in Hillsboro.”
And that was just what happened. Perhaps you may have guessed by this time that when old Mrs. Lathrop issued orders they were usually obeyed. As to who the Bridget was who had the scarlet fever, I know no more than you. I take it, from the name, she was the cook. Unless, indeed, old Mrs. Lathrop made her up for the occasion, which I think she would have been quite capable of doing, don’t you?
At any rate, with no more ifs or ands, Elizabeth Ann’s satchel was packed, and Cousin James Lathrop’s satchel was packed, and the two set off together, the big, portly, middle-aged man quite as much afraid of his mother as Elizabeth Ann was. But he was going to New York, and it is conceivable that he thought once or twice on the trip that there were good times in New York as well as business engagements, whereas poor Elizabeth Ann was being sent straight to the one place in the world where there were no good times at all. Aunt Harriet had said so, ever so many times. Poor Elizabeth Ann!
BETSY HOLDS THE REINS
You can imagine, perhaps, the dreadful terror of Elizabeth Ann as the train carried her along toward Vermont and the horrible Putney Farm! It had happened so quickly—her satchel packed, the telegram sent, the train caught—that she had not had time to get her wits together, assert herself, and say that she would not go there! Besides, she had a sinking notion that perhaps they wouldn’t pay any attention to her if she did. The world had come to an end now that Aunt Frances wasn’t there to take care of her! Even in the most familiar air she could only half breathe without Aunt Frances! And now she was not even being taken to the Putney Farm! She was being sent!
She shrank together in her seat, more and more frightened as the end of her journey came nearer, and looked out dismally at the winter landscape, thinking it hideous with its brown bare fields, its brown bare trees, and the quick-running little streams hurrying along, swollen with the January thaw which had taken all the snow from the hills. She had heard her elders say about her so many times that she could not stand the cold, that she shivered at the very thought of cold weather, and certainly nothing could look colder than that bleak country into which the train was now slowly making its way.
The engine puffed and puffed with great laboring breaths that shook Elizabeth Ann’s diaphragm up and down, but the train moved more and more slowly. Elizabeth Ann could feel under her feet how the floor of the car was tipped up as it crept along the steep incline. “Pretty stiff grade here?” said a passenger to the conductor.