"I've never tasted anything more delicious in all my life," Nancy said enthusiastically.
The three girls chatted like old friends. Finally the sun broke through the clouds. As Nancy rose to leave, she noticed an unusual picture on the wall opposite her and commented on its beauty.
"Uncle Josiah Crowley gave it to us," Allison told her. "If he were only alive now, things would be different."
At the mention of the name, Nancy sat down again. Was she going to pick up a clue to the possibility that Mr. Crowley had made a later will?
"He wasn't really our uncle," Grace explained. "But we loved him as much as though he were a relative." Her voice broke and for a moment she could not go on. Then, gaining control of herself, she continued, "He lived on the farm next to us—that was when Mother and Father were alive. All of Allison's and my misfortunes seemed to come at once."
"He was the dearest man you ever saw," Allison added. "Some people thought him queer, but you never minded his peculiar ways after you knew him. Uncle Josiah was very good to us. He always told me that he'd back me in a singing career."
"Yes," Grace added. "Uncle Josiah used to say Allison sang as sweetly as a bird and he wanted to pay for lessons with a famous teacher. But after he went to live with the Tophams, he never said any more about it."
"He never liked it with the Tophams, though," Allison declared. "They weren't kind to him, and he used to slip away to visit us."
"Uncle Josiah often said that we seemed like his own children," Grace spoke up. "He brought us many nice gifts, but we loved him for himself and not his money. I remember, though, the very last day we saw him alive, he told us 'I have planned a big surprise to make you girls happy. But I can't tell you now what it is. You'll see it in my will.' Those were his very words."
"And then the Tophams got everything," Allison said. "He must have changed his mind for some reason."
"It's hard to believe he would forget his promise to us," Grace said sadly.
"Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful if a later will could be found!" Allison exclaimed.
"Yes," Nancy replied slowly. "I've heard that Mr. Crowley told other people he was leaving money to them. The Turner sisters, for instance. Do you know them?"
"Slightly," Grace answered.
"My dad," Nancy went on, "is a lawyer and he and I are very much interested in this case. He even mentioned you girls, and to tell the truth I was on my way here to talk to you."
Allison impulsively grasped Nancy's arm. "You say your father is a lawyer? Grace and I are positive Uncle Josiah made a later will. Oh, if we could only engage your father to help us prove this!" Then a sad look came over her face. "But I'm forgetting—we wouldn't have any money to pay him if we should lose the case."
"Don't let that worry you," said Nancy kindly. "This is your birthday and you must be happy, Allison. My special wish for you is that before you're one year older, you'll inherit some of the Crowley money, so that you can take those singing lessons!"