He would call our attention silently and reach behind her when she wuz about her work and turn an imaginary crank in her back, and then in the same pantomime would jump back as if in fear of the fatal power he’d invoked, but would wickedly delight in the endless stream of talk let forth, occasionally asking a few questions, enough to keep her going. She would lean on top of her broom and tell of her former adventures thrilling enough and lengthy enough to fill a dozen lives. But everything had happened to her personally, very few noted people but she had seen and been on intimate terms with, very few far distant countries but what she had visited, “Santered through,” as she termed it.
In a fine disregard for geography she would tell of stepping from Chicago over to the Phillippines, and so on to London and then to Europe. She detailed many adventures in Paris and described places that made us think that she had some time lived there. She said she went there with Miss Louise and her son, Prince Arthur, when he wuz little, as his nurse. And she described him as having all the virtues of his sex with none of its frailties. She said she had his picture which she would show us some day. She described his mother as a “proud piece,” almost putting her down on a level with “poor white trash,” which wuz the deepest depth her plummet of contumely could reach. And she described her as holding her son by her apron string, as she termed it.
She said he had been home this summer on bizness down South and had come to see her, which Billy said wuz true, a very handsome and elegant young gentleman having called twice to see his old nurse during the spring and summer.
She said he come to see her on his arrival at St. Louis on some bizness connected with the Fair, and then he santered off to Saratoga for a few weeks, and then on to ole Virginny and New Zealand, and then back to St. Louis to attend to his bizness agin about the Fair. She said he wuz pale and sad the last time she see him, and she mistrusted his ma had been cuttin’ up. She sez:
“You know she lacks.” That wuz Aunt Tryphena’s greatest condemnation to say folks lacked. She never told what they lacked, but left it to the imagination of the hearer; from her expression you would imagine they lacked all the cardinal virtues and them that wuzn’t cardinal. She said his ma wuz sick and kep’ the Prince right under her feet, and he’d gone back now to be with her leaving St. Louis only a week or so before we come.
Bein’ asked why she left Miss Louise she wuz more reticent, only remarking that after Prince Arthur went to college she wanted a change, so she had strolled over to South America, and from there to Asia and so on to Chicago where she wuz hired as nurse to Miss Dotie, and when her ma died and the child wuz taken by its great-aunt, Miss Huff, she had been willing to help the latter through the Exposition, for she wuz a nice woman and didn’t lack.