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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about Ma Pettengill.

Lydia had now become more superior than ever.  She swaggered round the room, and when she didn’t swagger she strutted.  And she says to Oswald: 

“I’m going to make one little suggestion, because you seem so utterly helpless:  You must get a nice doormat to lay directly in front of your trunk, and you must always keep the key under this mat.  Lock the trunk and hide the key there.  It’s what people always do, and it will be quite safe, because no one would ever think of looking under a doormat for a key.  Now isn’t that a perfectly darling plan?”

Oswald had looked serious and attentive when she begun this talk, but he finally got suspicious that she was making some silly kind of a joke.  He grinned at her very foolish and again says:  “You wonderful woman!” It was a caressing tone—­if you know what I mean.

Lydia says “Oh, dear, won’t he ever stop his silly chatter about his stupid old trunk?” It seems to her that nothing but trunk has been talked of in this house for untold ages.  She’s tired to death of the very word.  Then she links her arm in mine in a sweet girlish fashion and leads me outside, where she becomes a mere twittering porch wren once more.

Oswald followed, you can bet.  And every five minutes he’d ask her how did she ever—­really now—­open the trunk.  But whenever he’d ask she would put the loud pedal on the ukulele and burst into some beachy song about You and I Together in the Moonlight, Love.  Even the Prof got curious and demanded how she had done what real brains had failed to pull off—­and got the same noisy answer.  Later he said he had been wrong to ask.  He said the answer would prove to be too brutally simple, and he always wanted to keep it in his thought life as a mystery.  It looked like he’d have to.  I was dying to know myself, but had sense enough not to ask.

The girl hardly spoke to Oswald again that night, merely giving him these cold showers of superiority when he would thrust himself on her notice.  And she kept me out there with her till bedtime, not giving the happy trunk owner a chance at her alone.  That girl had certainly learned a few things beyond fudge and cheese straws in her time.  She knew when she had the game won.

Sure, it was all over with Oswald.  He had only one more night when he could call himself a free man; he tried hard enough not to have even that.  He looked like he wanted to put a fence round the girl, elk-high and bull-tight.  Of course it’s possible he was landed by the earnest wish to find out how she had opened his trunk; but she never will tell him that.  She discussed it calmly with me after all was over.  She said poor Oswald had been the victim of scientific curiosity, but really it was time for her to settle down.

We was in her room at the time and she was looking at the tiny lines round her eyes when she said it.  She said, further, that she was about to plan her going-away gown.  I asked what it would be, and she said she hadn’t decided yet, but it would be something youth-giving.  Pretty game, that was!  And now Oswald has someone to guard his trunk keys for him—­to say nothing of this here new specimen of organic fauna.

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