THE EMPTY HOUSE
Katherine Adams stepped from the train at Oakwood, glanced expectantly up and down the station platform, hesitated a moment, and then, picking out a conspicuous spot under a glaring arc light, deposited her suitcase on the ground with a thump, mounted guard beside it and patiently waited for Nyoda to find her in the surging crowd.
It was two days before Christmas, and travel was heavy. It seemed as though the entire population of Oakland was either coming home, departing, or rushing madly up and down before the panting train in search of friends and relatives. Katherine was engulfed in a tidal wave of rapturous greetings that rolled over her from every side, as a coachful of soldiers, home for Christmas, were met and surrounded by the waiting lines of townspeople.
Katherine stood still, absorbed in watching the various reunions taking place around her, while the tidal wave gradually subsided, receding in the direction of Main Street. The principal stream had already flowed past her and the crowd was rapidly thinning out when Katherine woke to the realization that she was still unclaimed. There was no sign of Nyoda. The expectant smile faded from Katherine’s face and in its place there came a look of puzzled wonder. What had happened? Why wasn’t Nyoda there to meet her? Was there some mistake? Wasn’t this Oakwood? Had she gotten off at the wrong station, she thought in sudden panic. No, there was the sign beside the door of the green boarded station; its gilded letters gleamed down reassuringly at her. Katherine stood on one foot and pondered. Was this the day she was supposed to come? What day was it, anyway? The thick pad calendar beside the ticket seller’s window inside the station proclaimed it to be the twenty-third. All right so far; she hadn’t mixed up the date, then. She had written Nyoda that she would come on the twenty-third, on the five-forty-five train. The train had been on time. Where was Nyoda?
Katherine was assailed by a sudden doubt. Had she mailed that letter? Yes, she was certain of that. She had run out to the mail box at ten o’clock at night especially to mail it. What had gone wrong? Why wasn’t there someone to meet her?
She looked around at the walls as if expecting them to answer, and her roving eye caught sight of the lettering on a glass door opposite. The telephone! Goose! Why hadn’t she thought of that before? Of course there was some mistake responsible for Nyoda’s not meeting her, but in a moment that would be all straightened out…………………………