The Final Chapter
***Previous Chapters may be linked in the sidebar under The LittleLace Saga*****
Slowly the summer passed. Moira fed chickens and milked cows. She helped Poppa in the fields; she helped Momma in the house. She watched over Megan and Baby Lace; she cooked and cleaned and, in the evenings, she walked out in the fields and thought about Wellesley, the college just for women.
Poppa was pleased to see that Momma seemed to be feeling better. It was as if Momma had come to terms with Magda's disappearance. She didn't set for hours staring at the walls anymore; she was working in the garden and canning food for the winter. Momma talked sometimes about sending Moira to the college, but both she and Poppa could not see how they could afford to do so. Perhaps in a few years time, if they could set aside enough money from the crops...
Poppa washed his hands and face at the well. He could smell the dinner being set out in the kitchen. Momma and Moira were hard at work as always; he could hear Megan setting dishes on the wooden table. He shook the water from his hands and saw his brother Jake coming through the fields. Poppa called a greeting as Jake came up to the house. Set down to dinner, Poppa said; Jake smiled and agreed. They stepped into the snug little kitchen. Hello, everyone, said Jake, and then he handed Momma an envelope. Momma was pleased; one or two letters came each week from her old friends at the El Tovar hotel, and it always made Momma happy to hear from them. They all sat down and enjoyed the good stew, biscuits, and vegetables from the garden. Poppa was glad to see Momma smiling and telling little stories to entertain everyone.
When dinner was over, Momma picked up her letter and went outside to read it. Moira and Megan, who had grown much taller and was now able to help out, began to wash up the dishes, while Jake and Poppa lingered at the table with their coffee. The late afternoon sun spilled golden through the open window, and birds and crickets chirped in the peaceful fields. Suddenly the air was rent by a scream. Momma! Both Poppa and Jake leaped from the table and dashed outside, as the dish Megan had been drying crashed to the floor. Momma was running towards the house, still screaming while the letter fluttered in her hand. She fell into Poppa's arm. We've got to go back, she cried. We've got to go back.
It was nearly noon, almost a week later, as the train pulled into the Grand Canyon station. Moira was nervously peering out the window. Would Magda be there to meet them? They had telegraphed their arrival; perhaps Magda hadn't received it. Certainly there was no one on the platform that looked like her.
Momma was the first off the train. Moira could see the anxiety in her eyes as she turned back to look at Poppa. Moira looked around the platform as Momma began to walk towards the station. A lady was standing there waiting, dressed in a stylish hat and fine furs. Both Moira and Momma gasped, as the lady jumped forward and threw her arms around Momma.
They could hardly believe that it was really Magda. Moira couldn't keep her eyes off her now-so-sophisticated sister and her elegant clothes. And Magda was married as well! She was no longer Magda LittleLace; she was now Mrs. Magda Walker. She proudly introduced them all to her husband, Jay. Although as flashy and debonaire as ever, he was no longer the Mysterious Stranger, but Magda's beloved husband.
They all walked up to the hotel, where Magda and Jay Walker had been staying for the last few weeks, hoping that they could find out where Madga's family had gone. Now over a celebratory lunch, Jay explained to Poppa that his gambling days were over; he and Magda had purchased a cattle ranch in northern California and the both wanted Poppa and Momma and the girls to come and help them run it. Even Max the Wonder Sheep would come. A joyful Momma and Poppa quickly agreed, and Megan and Baby Lace both smiled and laughed because everyone was so happy.
Later in the afternoon, Magda asked Moira to come walking with her along the Canyon's rim. Moira quickly agreed, even though she was still feeling a little shy next to her so grown up younger sister. Magda seemed to sense this as they stood looking over the Canyon. I'm so sorry for all the times I've hurt you, Magda said. I know that I always treated you really badly, making you do all the work. I wish there was a way to make it up to you.
Moira was silent. After a few minutes passed, Magda spoke again. Momma and Poppa told us about the college, she said. Jay and I talked about it. We both think it's time that you stopped working for everyone else; we want you to go to Wellesley and do what you want to do now. Jay has already wired the funds to pay for your first year. If you leave again on the train tonight, you can make it there in time for the first day of fall classes.
Moira could hardly breathe. She turned and stared at Magda, her sister who had always irritated her so. Suddenly Moira burst into tears, and the two sisters hugged and cried together as the wondering tourists wandered past.
The sun was setting as Moira lifted her suitcase and set off on the path to the train station. She could not stop smiling. The summer was ending, and the real journey of the Amazing Lace was just beginning.