CHAPTER 20 A Wish Fulfilled

“LET’S count the money,” urged Connie as Mrs. Myles made no attempt to do so.

The widow seemed quite stunned by the unexpected discovery of the roll of bills inside the pillow. Without saying a word she handed it over to Miss Gordon.

Rapidly the teacher computed the amount of money. Nearly all of the bills were tens, most of them old in appearance.

“Exactly five hundred dollars,” Miss Gordon announced when she had completed her count.

“Then this must be the money my father lost so long ago,” Mrs. Myles said in a weak voice. “He was very forgetful. I suppose he hid the roll of bills in the pillow and then in his infirmity, forgot all about it.”

“But Sam Vincent was accused,” Veve reminded her. “All these years he has been blamed.”

“I’m so ashamed—I don’t know what to say. Father was so sure the money had been stolen. Oh, dear, what shall I do?”

“This is a fine windfall for you,” declared Miss Gordon, delighted over the widow’s good fortune. “I’m sure you have use for five hundred dollars.”

“But the pillow no longer is mine. One of the Brownies bought it at the sale.”

“That doesn’t matter,” declared Veve quickly.

“I should say not,” added Connie. “It was only the pillow that was bought—not the money inside of it.”

“How will I ever make amends to Sam?”

“That part should be easy,” Miss Gordon assured her. “He always has wanted to help you.”

Mrs. Myles nearly broke down then. “That makes it all the harder,” she declared. “He always insisted he was innocent, but I never would listen to any explanation. I was as unjust as I could be.”

“You couldn’t have known the money was hidden in the pillow,” Rosemary said kindly.

“I should have trusted my own brother,” Mrs. Myles berated herself. “Oh, I’ll never be able to face him.”

“Nonsense,” declared Miss Gordon. “Now that the money has been found, everything can be adjusted very easily. Just leave that part to me.”

Drawing apart from Mrs. Myles, the Brownie leader whispered to Veve and Connie. She requested them to hasten to Sam Vincent’s house and if he were at home to ask him to come to the park at once.

The two girls ran most of the way, so eager were they to impart the news.

Reaching the Vincent home, they found Sam’s wife there, but the carpenter had not yet arrived from his work.

“He should be driving in any minute,” Mrs. Vincent assured the girls. “Sam was working on an outside job and probably started home when it began to rain.”

“I see a car coming now that looks like his!” cried Veve.

The automobile turned in at the driveway. Seeing that it was indeed the carpenter, the girls ran to meet him.

“Well, well, this is a surprise!” he greeted them with a warm smile. “How does it happen you aren’t at the tree house today? Rained out?”

“Not exactly,” Connie answered. “We were having an important ceremony—”

“Eileen flew up into the Girl Scout troop,” Veve broke in. “But that’s not the important part. It began to rain and the pillow got wet.”

“So Mrs. Myles ripped it open,” Connie resumed the story.

“Minnie was there?” The carpenter was surprised at this information.

“Yes, of course,” Connie said impatiently. “She ripped open the pillow—and what do you think was inside?”

“Money!” shouted Veve. “Five hundred dollars!”

“Five hundred dollars,” Mr. Vincent repeated. “I don’t get it.”

“The pillow was the one with cross-stitching on it,” Connie explained. “The one that belonged to your family.”

At last Mr. Vincent understood.

“Then the money Minnie thought I took has been found,” he said quietly.

“That’s right,” laughed Veve.

“Miss Gordon wants you to come as fast as you can to the tree house,” Connie urged. “Your sister is waiting for you there.”

“You bet!” the carpenter replied. “We’ll drive to the park. Hop in!”

During the swift ride to the gate house, Veve and Connie told Mr. Vincent exactly how the money had been found. He laughed when they repeated that Mrs. Myles had said she would be ashamed to face him.

“I never held it against Minnie that she thought so poorly of me,” he told the girls. “For a long while I’ve only felt sorry for her. Now that this misunderstanding is cleared up, I hope she’ll let me help her.”

At the tree house, the Brownies remained very excited over discovery of the money. Between bites of cookies and cake, they reviewed every detail of the wonderful day.

“I’m so glad we found the money today, while I’m still almost a Brownie,” Eileen declared. “I couldn’t have stood it if the roll of bills had turned up later on.”

“To think that the money was hidden in the pillow all these years!” Mrs. Myles murmured. “If it hadn’t been for the Brownies, I never would have learned the truth.”

At this moment Veve, Connie and Sam Vincent arrived at the tree house.

Seeing her brother so unexpectedly made Mrs. Myles feel ill at ease.

However, he walked over to her and flung his arm around her thin shoulders.

“Oh, Sam, you know about the money?” she murmured. “Can you forgive me?”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” he assured her. “Minnie, the only thing that matters is the money has been found. You know now that I never took it.”

“Sam, I’m so ashamed of myself for ever doubting you—” Mrs. Myles covered her face and began to sob.

“There! There!” her brother comforted her awkwardly. “Let’s forget about it now. I want to help you, Minnie.”

“I’ve lost everything.”

“You have five hundred dollars,” Veve reminded her.

“That’s right,” Mrs. Myles agreed through her tears.

“And you have a home for the remainder of your life,” her brother convinced her. “My wife and I want you with us.”

“I can’t impose on you.”

“We really want you,” Mr. Vincent said firmly. “Later on, if you find you would like to have a place of your own, I’ll build you a modern cottage close to our property.”

By this time the Brownie Scouts were certain that Sam Vincent was a most wonderful person. They were pleased that Mrs. Myles would have a good home and that she no longer would be dependent upon charity or Miss Gordon’s kindness.

“Oh, hasn’t everything ended just like a story book!” Rosemary said, her eyes shining.

“Miss Gordon will have lots of time for our Brownie troop from now on,” Jane declared in satisfaction.

Of all the girls, only Eileen seemed a trifle sad.

She fingered the Brownie wings on her uniform and stood silently gazing up at the tree house.

“Don’t think about it,” Connie said, taking her hand.

“But I want to,” Eileen replied earnestly. “Never as long as I live do I want to forget about the grand times we’ve had here.”

“You’ll come back next summer, Eileen.”

“I know, but only as a visitor. I wouldn’t so much mind not being a Brownie any more, if only one thing had been settled.”

“What’s that?” asked Connie. She thought she knew, though, the answer Eileen would give.

And she was right.

“More than anything else, I’d like to know who built this tree house for us,” Eileen said slowly. “I don’t suppose we ever shall though.”

Veve had overheard the remark.

“I have an idea,” she proposed. “Almost all of the wishes we’ve made here have come true, haven’t they?”

“That’s so,” nodded Sunny.

“Let’s all close our eyes and wish hard that we knew who built the tree house for us,” Veve went on. “Maybe we’ll have our answer.”

The suggestion appealed to the other Brownies. All of the girls, including Eileen, closed their eyes, and for a moment concentrated very hard on the wish.

When they opened their eyes again everything was exactly the same. However, Mr. Vincent, who had been leaning against the oak tree, had an odd expression on his face.

“Do you youngsters really want to know who built your house?” he asked.

“Of course!” cried Connie.

“I should say so!” added Jane. “Eileen never will have any piece of mind as a Girl Scout unless she learns the answer today.”

“Was it Mr. Karwhite?” demanded Sunny, who began to suspect that the carpenter might be hiding something.

“It wasn’t Mr. Karwhite,” replied the carpenter.

“But you do know!” cried Jane. “You could tell us if you would!”

“Yes, I could,” Mr. Vincent replied slowly. “I’m wondering, though, if the fun might not be spoiled.”

“Oh, no!” cried all the Brownies together.

“We’re not children,” added Veve. “It was fun to say that the brownies built our tree house, but we always knew better.”

Sam Vincent stood gazing down at the girls, his eyes twinkling.

“It was a very large brownie who built this house,” he said. “One about my size.”

“You did it!” shouted Veve. “Oh, that doesn’t surprise me one bit!”

“Or me either!” cried Connie. “I think I suspected it all the time. Only I couldn’t quite be sure.”

The Brownies gazed at Miss Gordon and saw that she did not look surprised either.

“I’ve known for quite a while,” she admitted with a smile. “I didn’t tell you because it wasn’t my secret to relate.”

The Brownies urged Mr. Vincent to tell them exactly how he had chanced to build the house.

“I frequently come to the park just to walk around,” he explained. “Mr. Karwhite is a good friend of mine. Well, one day I overheard the Brownies wish for a tree house. I knew one could be built quite easily.”

“Then it was you who threw that first stone with the note attached,” Sunny recalled.

“Yes, I managed to hide while you were searching for me.”

“But how did you get the house built so quickly?” Connie asked.

“For a carpenter, the job wasn’t such a big one. I had plenty of boards at home. I did take one chance though.”

“What was that?” questioned Veve.

“Well, I didn’t tell Mr. Karwhite about the tree house until after it was built. I figured if I asked him first, he’d turn me down.”

“That’s why he didn’t know anything about it that first time we talked to him,” remarked Connie.

“I brought the boards and materials I needed in at night and built the house in one day—it happened that Mr. Karwhite was away from the park. I did a good job on the house if I do say so myself!”

“Magnificent!” declared Miss Gordon.

“At any rate, Mr. Karwhite decided to let it stay in the park when he saw that it was a good sturdy job. One thing that influenced him was the fine time you youngsters were having here.”

“Tell us how you were able to make so many of our other wishes come true,” urged Sunny. “Every time we asked for something—presto chango! There it was!”

“Not quite presto chango!” laughed the carpenter. “I was curious to see how you liked the tree house, so I frequently hid in the bushes to overhear your comments. It pleased me to make a few of the wishes come true.”

Connie asked Mr. Vincent if he were the one who had prepared a hot meal for the Brownies on the day they had invited him to lunch.

“Guilty,” he chuckled.

The Brownie Scouts told the carpenter again how well they liked the tree house and the many surprises.

“It wasn’t much,” he said, belittling his work. “The Brownies did far more for me by finding the lost money.”

The day had turned rather chilly following the brief rain. Mr. Vincent built a fire in one of the stone fireplaces of the park and everyone gathered about to warm themselves.

Some distance away, plainly visible in the old oak, could be seen the little tree house.

“Now that the leaves are falling, it stands out just like a light house!” declared Connie proudly.

“Yes, it does resemble one,” cried Veve, her imagination deeply stirred. “That little window is the searchlight!”

“A bright beacon blazing a trail to the future,” supplied Miss Gordon.

“May we come back here next spring?” Connie asked.

Even before the teacher replied, the girls knew what her answer would be.

“Of course,” she said heartily. “We’ll fly back with the birds—not only for good times, but to carry out many wonderful new Brownie plans!”

Transcriber’s Note

Punctuation has been standardised. Changes to the original publication have been made as follows:

Page 65
best would be very treachous changed to
best would be very treacherous
Page 76
the girls to their seperate homes changed to
the girls to their separate homes

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