Hiram stood for a while staring blankly at her. It was she who first spoke. “Won’t you let me come in, Hi?” said she. “I’m nigh starved with the cold and I’m fit to die, I’m so hungry. For God’s sake, let me come in.”
“Yes,” said Hiram, “I’ll let you come in, but why don’t you go home?”
The poor girl was shivering and chattering with the cold; now she began crying, wiping her eyes with the corner of a blanket in which her head and shoulders were wrapped. “I have been home, Hiram,” she said, “but dad, he shut the door in my face. He cursed me just awful, Hi—I wish I was dead!”
“You better come in,” said Hiram. “It’s no good standing out there in the cold.” He stood aside and the girl entered, swiftly, gratefully.
At Hiram’s bidding black Dinah presently set some food before Sally and she fell to eating ravenously, almost ferociously. Meantime, while she ate, Hiram stood with his back to the fire, looking at her face that face once so round and rosy, now thin, pinched, haggard.
“Are you sick, Sally?” said he presently.
“No,” said she, “but I’ve had pretty hard times since I left home, Hi.” The tears sprang to her eyes at the recollection of her troubles, but she only wiped them hastily away with the back of her hand, without stopping in her eating.
A long pause of dead silence followed. Dinah sat crouched together on a cricket at the other side of the hearth, listening with interest. Hiram did not seem to see her. “Did you go off with Levi?” said he at last, speaking abruptly. The girl looked up furtively under her brows. “You needn’t be afeared to tell,” he added.
“Yes,” said she at last, “I did go off with him, Hi.”
“Where’ve you been?”
At the question, she suddenly laid down her knife and fork.