WHEN Betty found herself seated on
the day coach of a way train, jogging along toward
a town she had never seen and away from the scenes
and people of her childhood, she found herself trembling
violently. It was as if she had suddenly been
placed in an airplane all by herself and started off
to the moon without any knowledge of her motor power
or destination. It both frightened and exhilarated
her. She wanted to cry and she wanted to laugh,
but she did neither. Instead she sat demurely
for the first hour and a half looking out of the window
like any traveler, scarcely turning her head nor looking
at anything in the car. It seemed to her that
there might be a detective in every seat just waiting
for her to lift her eyes that he might recognize her.
But gradually as the time dragged by and the landscape
grew monotonous she began to feel a little more at
her ease. Furtively she studied her neighbors.
She had seldom traveled in a common car, and it was
new to her to study all types as she could see them
here. She smiled at a dirty baby and wished she
had something to give it. She studied the careworn
man and the woman in black who wept behind her veil
and would not smile no matter how hard the man tried
to make her. It was a revelation to her that
any man would try as hard as that to make a woman smile.
She watched the Italian family with five children
and nine bundles, and counted the colors on a smart
young woman who got in at a way station. Every
minute of the day was interesting. Every mile
of dreary November landscape that whirled by gave
her more freedom.
She opened the little shabby handbag
that Jane had given her and got out the bit of mirror
one inch by an inch and a half backed with pasteboard
on which lingered particles of the original green taffeta
lining and studied her own strange face, trying to
get used to her new self and her new name. Jane
had written it, Lizzie Hope, on the back of the envelope
containing the address of Mrs. Carson. It seemed
somehow an identification card. She studied it
curiously and wondered if Lizzie Hope was going to
be any happier than Betty Stanhope had been. And
then she fell to thinking over the strange experiences
of the last twenty-four hours and wondering whether
she had done right or not, and whether her father
would have been disappointed in her, “ashamed
of her,” as her stepmother had said. Somehow
Jane had made her feel that he would not, and she
was more light-hearted than she had been for many
Late in the afternoon she began to
wonder what Tinsdale would be like. In the shabby
handbag was her ticket to Tinsdale and eight dollars
and a half in change. It made her feel richer
than she had ever felt in her life, although she had
never been stinted as to pocket money. But this
was her very own, for her needs, and nobody but herself
to say how she should spend either it or her time.
Little towns came in sight and passed,
each one with one or two churches, a schoolhouse,
a lot of tiny houses. Would Tinsdale look this
way? How safe these places seemed, yet lonely,
too! Still, no one would ever think of looking
for her in a lonely little village.
They passed a big brick institution,
and she made out the words, “State Asylum,”
and shuddered inwardly as she thought of what Jane
had told her about the morning paper. Suppose
they should hunt her up and put her in an insane
asylum, just to show the world that it had not
been their fault that she had run away from her wedding!
The thought was appalling. She dropped her head
on her hand with her face toward the window and tried
to pretend she was asleep and hide the tears that would
come, but presently a boy came in at the station with
a big basket and she bought a ham sandwich and an
apple. It tasted good. She had not expected
that it would. She decided that she must have
been pretty hungry and then fell to counting her money,
aghast that the meager supper had made such a hole
in her capital. She must be very careful.
This might be all the money she would have for a very
long time, and there was no telling what kind of an
impossible place she was going to. She might have
to get away as eagerly as she had come. Jane
was all right, but that was not saying that her mother
and sisters would be.
It was growing dark, and the lights
were lit in the car. All the little Italian babies
had been given drinks of water, and strange things
to eat, and tumbled to sleep across laps and on seats,
anywhere they would stick. They looked so funny
and dirty and pitiful with their faces all streaked
with soot and molasses candy that somebody had given
them. The mother looked tired and greasy and
the father was fat and dark, with unpleasant black
eyes that seemed to roll a great deal. Yet he
was kind to the babies and his wife seemed to like
him. She wondered what kind of a home they had,
and what relation the young fellow with the shiny dark
curls bore to them. He seemed to take as much
care of the babies as did their father and mother.
The lights were flickering out in
the villages now and gave a friendly inhabited look
to the houses. Sometimes when the train paused
at stations Betty could see people moving back and
forth at what seemed to be kitchen tables and little
children bringing dishes out, all working together.
It looked pleasant and she wondered if it would be
like that where she was going. A big lump of
loneliness was growing in her throat. It was
one thing to run away from something that you hated,
but it was another to jump into a new life where one
neither knew nor was known. Betty began to shrink
inexpressibly from it all. Not that she wanted
to go back! Oh, no; far from it! But once
when they passed a little white cemetery with tall
dark fir trees waving guardingly above the white stones
she looked out almost wistfully. If she were lying
in one of those beside her father and mother how safe
and rested she would be. She wouldn’t have
to worry any more. What was it like where father
and mother had gone? Was it a real place?
Or was that just the end when one died? Well,
if she were sure it was all she would not care.
She would be willing to just go out and not be.
But somehow that didn’t seem to be the commonly
accepted belief. There was always a beyond in
most people’s minds, and a fear of just what
Betty didn’t know. She was a good deal of
a heathen, though she did not know that either.
Then, just as she was floundering
into a lot of theological mysteries of her own discovery
the nasal voice of the conductor called out:
“Tinsdale! Tinsdale!” and she hurried
to her feet in something of a panic, conscious of
her short hair and queer clothes.
Down on the platform she stood a minute
trying to get used to her feet, they felt so numb
and empty from long sitting. Her head swam just
a little, too, and the lights on the station and in
the houses near by seemed to dance around her weirdly.
She had a feeling that she would rather wait until
the train was gone before she began to search for her
new home, and then when the wheels ground and began
to turn and the conductor shouted “All aboard!”
and swung himself up the step as she had seen him
do a hundred times that afternoon, a queer sinking
feeling of loneliness possessed her, and she almost
wanted to catch the rail and swing back on again as
the next pair of car steps flung by her.
Then a voice that sounded a little
like Jane’s said pleasantly in her ear:
“Is this Lizzie Hope?” and Betty turned
with a thrill of actual fright to face Nellie Carson
and her little sister Emily.
“Bobbie’ll be here in
a minute to carry your suitcase,” said Nellie
efficiently; “he just went over to see if he
could borrow Jake Peter’s wheelbarrow in case
you had a trunk. You didn’t bring your trunk?
O, but you’re going to stay, aren’t you?
I’m goin’ up to the city to take a p’sition,
and Mother’d be awful lonesome. Sometime
of course we’ll send fer them to come,
but now the children’s little an’ the country’s
better fer them. They gotta go to school
awhile. You’ll stay, won’t you?”
“How do you know you’ll
want me?” laughed Betty, at her ease in this
unexpected air of welcome.
“Why, of course we’d want
you. Jane sent you. Jane wouldn’t of
sent you if you hadn’t been a good scout.
Jane knows. Besides, I’ve got two eyes,
haven’t I? I guess I can tell right off.”
Emily’s shy little hand stole
into Betty’s and the little girl looked up:
“I’m awful glad you come! I think
you’re awful pretty!”
“Thank you!” said Betty,
warmly squeezing the little confiding hand. It
was the first time in her life that a little child
had come close to her in this confiding way.
Her life had not been among children.
Then Bob whirled up, bareheaded, freckled,
whistling, efficient, and about twelve years old.
He grabbed the suitcase, eyed the stranger with a
pleasant grin, and stamped off into the darkness ahead
It was a new experience to Betty to
be walking down a village street with little houses
on each side and lights and warmth and heads bobbing
through the windows. It stirred some memory of
long ago, before she could scarcely remember.
She wondered, had her own mother ever lived in a small
“That’s our church,”
confided Emily, as they passed a large frame building
with pointed steeple and belfry. “They’re
goin’ to have a entertainment t’morra
night, an’ we’re all goin’ and Ma
said you cud go too.”
“Isn’t that lovely!”
said Betty, feeling a sudden lump like tears in her
throat. It was just like living out a fairy story.
She hadn’t expected to be taken right in to
family life this way.
“But how did you know I was
coming on that train?” she asked the older girl
suddenly. “Jane said she was going to telegraph,
but I expected to have to hunt around to find the
“Oh, we just came down to every
train after the telegram came. This is the last
train to-night, and we were awful scared for fear you
wouldn’t come till morning, an’ have to
stay on the train all night. Ma says it isn’t
nice for a girl to have to travel alone at night.
Ma always makes Jane and me go daytimes.”
“It was just lovely of you,”
said Betty, wondering if she was talking “natural”
enough to please Jane.
“Did you bob you hair ’cause
you had a fever?” asked Nellie enviously.
“No,” said Betty, “that
is, I haven’t been very well, and I thought it
might be good for me,” she finished, wondering
how many questions like that it was going to be hard
for her to answer without telling a lie. A lie
was something that her father had made her feel would
hurt him more deeply than anything else she could
“I just love it,” said
Nellie enthusiastically. “I wanted to cut
mine, an’ so did Jane, but Ma wouldn’t
let us. She says God gave us our hair, an’
we oughtta take care of it.”
“That’s true, too,”
said Betty. “I never thought about that.
But I guess mine will grow again after a while.
I think it will be less trouble this way. But
it’s very dirty with traveling. I think
I’ll have to wash it before I put it on a pillow.”
That had troubled Betty greatly.
She didn’t know how to get rid of that hair
dye before Jane’s family got used to having it
“Sure, you can wash it, if you
ain’t ‘fraid of takin’ cold.
There’s lots of hot water. Ma thought you’d
maybe want to take a bath. We’ve got a
big tin bath-tub out in the back shed. Ma bought
it off the Joneses when they got their porcelain one
put into their house. We don’t have no
runnin’ water but we have an awful good well.
Here’s our house. I guess Bob’s got
there first. See, Ma’s out on the steps
waitin’ fer us.”
The house was a square wooden affair,
long wanting paint, and trimmed with little scrollwork
around the diminutive front porch. The color was
indescribable, blending well into the surroundings
either day or night. It had a cheerful, decent
look, but very tiny. There was a small yard about
it with a picket fence, and a leafless lilac bush.
A cheerful barberry bush flanked the gate on either
side. The front door was open into a tiny hall
and beyond the light streamed forth from a glass lamp
set on a pleasant dining-room table covered with a
red cloth. Betty stepped inside the gate and
found herself enveloped in two motherly arms, and
then led into the light and warmth of the family dining-room.