“I don’t know whether I shall or not,” said Miss Daggett; “it depends entirely on how you behave.”
Although Patty was extremely good-natured, she couldn’t help feeling a little inclined to resent the tone taken by her guest, and she returned rather crisply:
“I shall try to behave as a lady and a neighbour.”
“Humph!” said Miss Daggett. “You’re promising a good deal. If you accomplish what you’ve mentioned, I shall consider you the best neighbour I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Patty began to think her strange guest was eccentric rather than impolite, and began to take a fancy to the somewhat brusque visitor.
“I live next-door,” said Miss Daggett, “and I am by no means social in my habits. Indeed, I prefer to let my neighbours alone; and I am not in the habit of asking them to call upon me.”
“I will do just as you like,” said Patty politely; “call upon you or not. It is not my habit to call on people who do not care to see me. But, on the other hand, I shall be happy to call upon such of my neighbours as ask me to do so.”
“Oh, people don’t have to call upon each other merely because they are neighbours,” said Miss Daggett; “and that’s why I came in here to-day, to let you understand my ideas on this matter. I have lived next-door to this house for many years, and I have never cared to associate with the people who have lived in it. I have no reason to think that you will prove of any more interest to me that any of the others who have lived here. Indeed, I have reason to believe that you will prove of less interest to me, because you are so young and inexperienced that I feel sure you will be a regular nuisance. And I would like you to understand once for all, that you are not to come to me for advice or assistance when you make absurd and ridiculous mistakes, as you’re bound to do.”
At first Patty had grown indignant at Miss Daggett’s conversation, but soon she felt rather amused at what was doubtless the idiosyncrasy of an eccentric mind, and she answered:
“I will promise not to come to you for advice or warning, no matter how much I may need assistance.”
“That’s right,” said Miss Daggett very earnestly; “and remember, please, that your cook is not to come over to my house to borrow anything; not even eggs, butter, or lemons.”
“I’ll promise that, too,” said Patty, trying not to laugh; though she couldn’t help thinking that her first caller was an extraordinary one.
“Well, you really behave quite well,” said Miss Daggett; “I am very much surprised at you. I came over here partly to warn you against interfering with myself and my household, but also because I wanted to see what you’re like. I had heard that you were going to live in this house, and that you were going to keep house yourself; and, though I was much surprised that your father would let you do such a thing, yet I can’t help thinking that you’re really quite sensible. Yet, I want you to understand that you are not to borrow things from my kitchen.”