THE COURIER OF THE CZAR
her sister to trouble her, she had a sin to remember and a cruel penance to look forward to. She had committed an offence and this morning she meant to confess it in meeting.
“I can be a sinner,” said she, weeping. “But a hypocrite I cannot be. I can’t look them any more in the eye over there.”
Slipping carefully from bed she went about her work. Tilly slept late and it was well that she did so; her cruel hours of conscious darkness were that much shorter. Betsey opened the kitchen shutters and let in the horizontal sunshine; then she shook down the fire and slipping into her working jacket took her milk pail on her arm. The morning was not cold; the day which had dawned was to be like a day of May dropped accidentally into March. Tulips and hyacinths were pushing up through the soil of the garden, buds were swelling, the woodland back of the house had begun to have a look of misty purple as the twigs and little branches changed colour. Spring had always meant a foretaste of heaven to Betsey—how strange it was to have an aching heart!
Tilly slept on and on. Betsey prepared the breakfast and still she had not come. She stole upstairs and looked at her and realized after a moment of panic that she was asleep and not dead. Pushing the breakfast to the back of the stove she sat down with her Bible. But she could not read —the book lay strangely in her hand, the words looked unnatural, there was no sense of comfort from touch or sight.
At nine o’clock, when Tilly had not waked, Betsey stole to the room once more and got her Sunday dress and returning to the kitchen, put it on. The devil tempted her to make an excuse of Tilly’s blindness to stay at home, but she resisted him. He seemed to whisper in her ear; she saw his smile, his horns, his cloven hoofs.
“Don’t go this morning,” he said. “Go next Sunday. This morning the meeting will be large. William Hershey will be there with all his family—you don’t wish those little children to hear you make confession. Elder Nunnemacher will be there and you have always stood well before him. Perhaps next Sunday he will have to go elsewhere. The Stauffer sisters will be there—think how stonished they will be! And the Lindakugels and the Erlenbaughs and Herrs