Magnolia sat, with her feet tucked under her on the red cushion.
Cora was gone now; she sat on her previously occupied spot on the settee. There was a much more pleasant air to the room now, a silence that was peaceful rather than glaring. Marie was still on her same chair. Her hands were stretched towards the hearth and she stared absently at the pattern on the carpet.
“Nolie,” Marie began abruptly, after a few minutes. Magnolia glanced up in surprise.
“Nolie. Why are we here?” Her voice was soft, and it had a startlingly quivery edge, as if she was near tears.
“Well…I suppose, because Miss Bonifaz thought it would be good for us. To come. And, because of Cora.” She spoke uncertainly, but tried to sound vaguely comforting. It seemed as though Marie was more upset than she’d been letting on.
“But why? Why is it good for us?” Voice catching, she put her face in her hands. “I want to go home.”
Now she was sad too. “Three weeks, Marie.” Nolie slid off the settee and put her hand on her shoulder. “After that we’ll all leave.”
Her cousin’s eyes were damp. She stared up at her and tried to smile, weakly.
“Give it a chance. Try to enjoy being here. You know I didn’t want to come either.” Magnolia grasped her hand and hauled her out of the chair. “Come on, now.”
Together, they stepped across the cold floorboards. Marie closed her eyes for a second. Although possibly not her first choice in companions, she was thankful Magnolia was there.They walked up the stairs still in step