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- Drusilla with a Million - 4/43 -
thought of it all. He _must_ 'a' cared."
The next morning there was a buzz of excitement in the Doane home for old ladies. Word had got around that Drusilla had been left a fortune and was going away. Some of the ladies were plainly envious and said spiteful, catty things, while others were glad that at least one of their number would be able to leave behind the "home"--the living on charity--that nightmare of the old. Drusilla had endeared most of them to her by her many kindly acts, prompted by a loving heart that even years of poverty and unappreciated labor for others had not hardened.
She passed the morning in looking over her few possessions and making little packages of the things she treasured to be given to her friends after she left. The handkerchiefs she had embroidered before her eye-sight was bad, she left for Barbara. A little lace cap that had been given her years ago and which she had never worn, thinking it too "fancy," was for the old lady who had seen better days. The heavy shawl was for the oldest inmate, Grandma Perkins, who always suffered with the cold. The warm bed-stockings were neatly folded and left with a little word of love to Mary, who had rheumatism; and to Mrs. Childs, the beauty of the place, she left her lace fichu.
There was ample room within the tiny trunk for her clothing. The plain black cashmere that had been turned and returned until it had nearly forgotten its original texture, but which was her Sunday best, the two black dresses for every-day wear, the two night-dresses of Canton flannel, the woolen underskirt and the lighter one for summer, the heavy stockings, the Sunday shoes, a life of John Calvin that a director had given her, her Bible--and the packing was completed.
When Mrs. Smith came herself to tell her that Mr. Thornton had arrived, and in a motor car, she trembled so that she feared she would not be able to go down to meet him. But finally she put on the little bonnet that she had worn for many years, and her "mantle"--an antiquated wrap that had been given her by some kindly patron of former years--and went down the stairs. Mr. Thornton looked at the little old lady as she came into the room--this little, kindly-faced, white-haired old woman, who showed so plainly that life had sent her sorrow but not bitterness--and offered her his hand, saying:
"I am glad you are ready, Miss Doane. We will have a nice ride to the city."
Drusilla looked up at him like a pitiful child.
"I--I--may I set down a minute--I--I'm rather trembly. I--I didn't sleep last night a-thinkin' of it all."
She sat down and tried to still the trembling of her lips and keep the tears from her eyes. Then, after a few moments, she said:
"Will you wait here or somewhere, Mr. Thornton? I want to say good-by. Mis' Smith thought I hadn't better see the ladies until I was ready to leave, as it might upset them."
"I will wait in the car for you, Miss Doane. Don't hurry; take all the time you want."
Drusilla went to the sunny veranda where she knew she would find the women in their accustomed places, and immediately she was the center of the curious old ladies, who welcomed any excitement that would relieve the monotony of their lives.
"It's true, Drusilla--then it's true, you're-a-goin' to leave us! It's true what Mis' Graham heard Mis' Smith tell Mr. Smith last night."
"What did she hear her say?"
"She heard her say, 'What do you think, James! Drusilla Doane has been left a million dollars!'"
"That's what the man told me," Drusilla said quietly; "and he's come to take me away. I come to say good-by."
The women sat forward in their chairs and stopped their knitting or darning, so that they would not miss a word.
"Well, I swan! A million dollars! A _million dollars_!"
"Is it true, Drusilla? Do you think it can be so _much_?"
"I don't know--that's what he said. He's waitin' for me and I must be goin'. Good-by, dear Harriet. Good-by, Caroline. Good-by, Mis' Graham; you always been good to me. Good-by, Mis' Fisher; I ain't never goin' to fer-get how good you was to me when I was sick. Good-by all, good-by. I'm comin' often to see you. Good-by."
She looked slowly around on her friends, then walked down the veranda to the waiting motor. Just as she reached it old Barbara came shuffling up to her. "Oh, Drusilla," she mumbled, taking her hand, "I'm so glad for you, I'm so glad. I hope it is a million dollars."
The loving touch was too much for tired Drusilla. The tears sprang to her eyes and she clasped Barbara's hands in both of her own.
"Oh, Barbara," she said, "it gives me a hurt inside my heart to leave you all behind! Listen, Barbara! Whether it's a million dollars or only a hundred, you shall have new store teeth. Good-by!"
To Drusilla's embarrassment both Mr. and Mrs. Smith were waiting for her beside the motor to say good-by, and were effusive in their farewells.
"You will come to see us, won't you, Miss Doane, and you won't forget us"--and Drusilla was tucked into the luxurious motor, a footstool found for her feet, a soft rug wrapped around her and they drove away.
She was quiet for the greater part of the journey, and Mr. Thornton left her to her own thoughts. Finally she sat more upright and began to take an interest in the fittings of the car. Mr. Thornton watched her.
"Do you like the car?" he asked
"It's beautiful. You know it's the first time I been in one."
"Why, is it possible? I thought every one had been in a motor."
"No, not every one, Mr. Thornton; I don't think that more'n two of the ladies in the home have been in one. This is fixed up real nice."
"I am glad you like it," Mr. Thornton said. "It is yours."
Drusilla sat back suddenly in her seat.
"Yes, this is yours, and you have two more at your home."
"Two more like this?"
"No, not exactly the same. One is an open car and one is a small town car."
"Why--why--what'll I do with three? I can't ride in 'em all at once."
"No, but you will find that you can use them all."
"Can I use them whenever I want to?"
"Certainly; they are yours. All you have to do is to send word to one of the chauffeurs and they will be ready for you."
"Send word to who?"
"The chauffeur, the man who is driving."
"Is he mine, too?"
"Yes; you have two men."
"What'll I do with two?"
"One will be on duty a certain number of hours, and then the other takes his place."
"Oh--" She was quiet for a time. "Can I take them anywhere I want to?"
"Certainly. They are yours."
"Then, I know what I'll do! I'll take the old ladies for a ride! Wouldn't Mis' Graham love it, and old Grandma Perkins--we could bundle her up; and Barbara might even ferget her teeth."
Drusilla settled back among the cushions and mused upon the joy she could give with this new wonder machine that was hers to do with as she wished, and the frightened look died from her face and a happy smile seemed trying to crowd the wrinkles from the corners of her mouth. She said nothing more for a long time; then:
"Are we goin' very fast, Mr. Thornton?"
"No; not so very fast. Are you nervous? I will have the chauffeur drive slower. I forgot you were not used to it."
Drusilla stopped him as he started to speak to the chauffeur.
"No; I wasn't thinking of that. I ain't nervous, I was just wonderin' if he couldn't go a little faster."
Mr. Thornton looked somewhat surprised, but he gave the order.
Drusilla again sat back among the cushions, a slight flush on her face. Soon she leaned forward once more.
"Mr. Thornton, couldn't he let her out jest a leetle more?"
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