When Miss Strangeworth goes to the post office to mail the three anonymous letters she had written earlier that day, she overhears part of a conversation between Linda Stewart and Dave Harris.
Miss Strangeworth stood by the door, opening her black pocketbook to take out the letters, and heard a voice which she knew at once to be Linda Stewart's. Poor little Linda was crying again, and Miss Strangeworth listened carefully. This was, after all, her town, and these were her people; if one of them was in trouble she ought to know about it.
Miss Strangeworth takes an interest in all the people in her town, but this is the one place in the story where she shows particular nosiness. She suspects that Linda and Dave, both young high school kids, have been having sexual relations. The old lady had previously written one of her poison-pen letters to Linda's parents suggesting that this might be the case. As usual, her letter was written in such a way that the writer seemed to be doing the parents a favor by advising them on a situation which was fairly common knowledge in the community. Miss Strangeworth has caused concern for Linda's parents and has threatened to destroy the chaste relationship between Linda and Dave. Linda's father has forbidden Dave from coming to their house anymore and is trying to separate the two young lovers altogether. The conversation Miss Strangeworth overhears goes as follows:
"I can't tell you, Dave," Linda was saying—so she was talking to the Harris boy, as Miss Strangeworth had supposed—"I just can't. It's just nasty."
"But why won't your father let me come around anymore? What on earth did I do?"
"I can't tell you. I just wouldn't tell you for anything. You've got to have a dirty, dirty mind for things like that."
"But something's happened. You've been crying and crying, and your father is all upset. Why can't I know about it, too? Aren't I like one of the family?"
"Not anymore, Dave, not anymore. You're not to come near our house again; my father said so. He said he'd horsewhip you. That's all I can tell you: You're not to come near our house anymore."
"But I didn't do anything."
"Just the same, my father said . . ."
Miss Strangeworth notices that many of the people in her town seem troubled, but she doesn't realize that she is the source of most of their troubles with her letters. This is the case with Linda Stewart and Dave Harris. Miss Strangeworth thought there was a possibility that they were misbehaving and hinted as much to Linda's parents. The part of the conversation the nosy old lady overhears at the post office seems to confirm that her suspicions were correct. She regards this as a situation in which she has been helpful to Linda and to Linda's parents, whereas in actuality she has done nothing but spread unhappiness. Linda and Dave were the kind of small-town kids who would get married some day, but now their futures are probably going to be shaped differently.
Miss Strangeworth is obviously lonely and unhappy. She bears some resemblance to Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations. Miss Havisham causes unhappiness for others, especially for Pip and Estella, because the eccentric old woman is so unhappy herself. Miss Strangeworth seems especially interested in poisoning love relationships. Linda and Dave are only one example. In one of her most recent letters she has notified Mrs. Harper that everybody knows her husband is having an affair with another women in the community. If she succeeds in planting the idea in the minds of Don and Helen Crane that they have a retarded daughter and shouldn't be having any more babies, then that could poison their love for each other. Miss Strangeworth sees the possibility of evil in everybody but herself.