The Mystery of the Lost Box (Chapter Four)
“Gone!” Mrs. Eling gasped. “Why, I just can’t believe it! It was here only this morning! I saw it!”
“Are you sure, Mrs. Eling?” Alice asked. “Maybe you’re just remembering wrong.”
“No, no, dear. It was here, I tell you! Oh, what am I going to do?” She wrung her hands in despair.
“I suppose you would rather find the box for yourself than a thief finding it,” Alice said, more to herself than the elderly woman.
“Of course! I wouldn’t have minded not ever finding it, but for it to fall into the hands of thief! Oh!”
Alice walked over her and tried to console her. “Why don’t you come home with me, Mrs. Eling? I’m sure that mother would like it, and if you ate with us it might help you to get your mind off of the theft,” she said comfortingly.
“Oh, you are a dear, Alice. How can I say no? Of course I will.” Alice and Mrs. Eling walked out the door, and the two got into Mrs. Elings convertible. As they drove along the road, Alice though things out through her mind. “Mrs. Eling seems to be mighty sure that the key was here this morning,” she thought to herself, “And if it was, then that must mean that someone has broken into her house today! Perhaps it was while she was out gardening. I should have checked to see if there was a broken door, or something like that.”
At that moment, Mrs. Eling interrupted her thoughts. “You are being very quiet right now, Alice. Is something bothering you?” She asked
Alice shook her head and smiled faintly. “I was just thinking. Oh, here we are,” she added as they pulled into the Gladdens driveway. Alice opened the door and they walked in. “Mother?” She called. No answer. “Mom! I’m home!”
“I’m up here, Alice,” she heard her mother call from upstairs.
“Oh. Mom, Mrs. Eling’s here.” Then turing to her visitor Alice said, “Mrs. Eling, why don’t you make yourself comfortable on a chair? I’ll be right back, alright?”
Alice rushed up the stairs two at a time, and from there into her mothers room, where she found her dusting the furniture.
“Did you say Mrs. Eling is here?” Mrs. Gladden asked.
“Yes, and she’s downstairs waiting for you. But just a minute. Somethings happened.” hurriedly Alice explained to her mother what had happened, and the story about her uncle as quickly as she could.
“Oh, dear,” Mrs. Gladden said. “Poor Mrs. Eling,” she added sympathetically.
Alice nodded. “I invited her to eat supper with us so that she might get her mind off the theft.”
“Oh. I have chicken cooking. It should be done any minute now.” Mrs. Gladden followed her daughter downstairs.
In the living room, Mrs. Gladden greeted Mrs. Eling, then explained that she had to check on the food in the kitchen.
“I’m sorry I took so long upstairs, Mrs. Eling,” Alice said. “But I was explaining the situation to mother.”
Mrs. Eling smiled. “That’s quite alright, dear.”
Before long supper sat on the table. Mr. Gladden had arrived, and so they all sat down to eat. The talk around the table was not about the theft at Mrs. Elings house, because the didn’t want to upset her any further.
They talked about Alices ride on Jills new horse. When Mrs. Eling left, she seemed to have completely forgotten of the theft of her key. Alice and her parents escorted her to the door, waved goodbye until she was out of sigh, and went inside.
“Poor Mrs. Eling,” Mr. Gladden sympathetically.
Mrs. Gladden nodded. “Yes, indeed. I do hope that she finds her box…someday.”
Alice agreed, saying that maybe she could help her find it.
“You?” Mrs. Gladden asked, surprised.
“I don’t see why not,” Alice said. “And Jill and Olivia and Ashlyn might help me, too."