Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/79

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From American Mercury

EVERYONE agreed that a perfect stranger could not have seen Mrs. Foster’s funeral without realizing that Mrs. Foster had lived a well-rounded life. There was her husband in the front pew, vainly struggling to conceal his grief so that he could console Mrs. Foster’s mother, old Mrs. Overton. There were her two sons, vainly struggling to conceal their grief so that they could console Mrs. Foster’s daughters-in-law, their wives. There were her four little grandchildren, as downcast as any one could ask. There were her six faithful servants, as heartbroken as her daughters-in-law. The society of Colonial Dames was there, in a body, and the Daughters of the Confederacy were there in a body. The Woman’s Club was there, in a body, and even the Chamber of Commerce was there, in a body. There was all of the Social Register which did not happen to be on its yachts, or in sanatoria, or abroad. And there were the wreaths, and the harps, and the crescents, and the sheaves of all those bodies and of all those personages.

The hearts of the community went out to every member of Mrs. Foster’s stricken family, so the rector told his audience and his God. But in particular it went out to Mrs. Foster’s mother, for not a month before she had stood by her only son’s open grave, and now she was about to stand beside her only daughter’s open grave. She sat among them in the church—as the rector said, like Rachel weeping for her children. But she was veiled in English crêpe of excellent quality and so the most acute eyes of the community could not count the number of her tears. It was fortunate, indeed, that Mr. Foster could afford that excellent quality of crêpe,