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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER XVI. "LYDIA'S RESOLVE."
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 Lydia Purcell had hitherto been an honest woman. Now, in resolving to keep the purse, she but yielded to a further stage of that insidious malady which for so long had been finding ample growth in her moral and spiritual nature. She did not, however, know that the purse was Cecile's. The child's agony, and even terror, she put down with considerable alacrity to an evil conscience. How would it be possible for all that money to belong to a little creature like Cecile?  
Lydia's real thought with regard to the Russia-leather purse was that it belonged to old Mrs. Bell—that it had been put into the little tin box, and, unknown to anyone, had got swept away as so much lumber in the attic. Cecile, poking about, had found it, and had made up her mind to keep it: hence her distress.
Lydia had really many years ago lost a purse, about which the servants on the farm had heard her talk. It darted into her head to claim this purse, full of all its sweet treasure, as her own lost property. There was foundation to her tale. The servants would have no reason not to believe her.
Mrs. Bell's heir was turning her out. She would avenge herself in this way on him. She would keep the money which he might lawfully claim. Thus she would once more lay by a nest-egg for a rainy day.
Sitting in her own room, the door locked behind her, and counting the precious money, Lydia had made up her mind to do this. It was so easy to become a thief—detection would be impossible. Yes; she knew in her heart of hearts she was stealing, but looking at the delightful color of the gold—feeling the crisp banknotes—she did not think it very wrong to steal.
She was in an exultant frame of mind when she went down to supper. When Jane appeared she was glad to talk to her.
She little knew that Jane was about to open the sore, sore place in her heart, to probe roughly that wound that seemed as if it would never heal.
When Jane left her, she was really trembling with agitation and terror. Another, then, knew her secret. If that was so, it might any day be made plain to the world that she had caused the death of the only creature she loved.
Lydia was so upset that the purse, with its gold and n............
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