Whereupon Bonner rushed into a detailed and somewhat lengthy history of the mysterious Miss Gray, repeating it as it had come to him from her own frank lips, but with embellishments of his own that would have brought the red to her cheeks, could she have heard them. His mother’s interest was not assumed; his sister was fascinated by the recital.
“Who knows,” she cried, her dark eyes sparkling, “she may be an heiress to millions!”
“Or a princess of the royal blood!” amended her mother with an enthusiasm that was uncommon. “Blood alone has made this girl what she is. Heaven knows that billions or trillions could not have overcome the influences of a lifetime spent in—in Winkletown—or is that the name? It doesn’t matter, Wicker—any name will satisfy. Frankly, I am interested in the girl. It is a crime to permit her to vegetate and die in a place like this.”
“But, mother, she loves these people,” protested Bonner lifelessly. “They have been kind to her all these years. They have been parents, protectors—”
“And they have been well paid for it, my son. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not planning to take her off their hands. I am not going to reconstruct her sphere in life. Not by any means. I am merely saying that it is a crime for her to be penned up for life in this—this desert. I doubt very much whether her parentage will ever be known, and perhaps it is just as well that it isn’t to be. Still, I am interested.”
“Mamma, I think it would be very nice to ask her to come to Boston for a week or two, don’t you?” suggested Edith Bonner, warmly but doubtfully.
“Bully!” exclaimed Wicker, forgetting in his excitement that he was a cripple. “Have her come on to stop a while with you, Ede. It will be a great treat for her and, by George, I’m inclined to think it maybe somewhat beneficial to us.”
“Your enthusiasm is beautiful, Wicker,” said his mother, perfectly unruffled. “I have no doubt you think Boston would be benefited, too.”
“Now, you know, mother, it’s not just like you to be snippish,” said he easily. “Besides, after living a while in other parts of the world, I’m beginning to feel that population is not the only thing about Boston that can be enlarged. It’s all very nice to pave our streets with intellect so that we can’t stray from our own footsteps, but I rather like the idea of losing my way, once in a while, even if I have to look at the same common, old sky up there that the rest of the world looks at, don’t you know. I’ve learned recently that the same sun that shines on Boston also radiates for the rest of the world.”
“Yes, it shines in Tinkletown,” agreed his mother serenely. “But, my dear—” turning to her daughter—“I think you would better wait a while before extending the invitation. There is no excuse for rushing into the unknown. Let time have a chance.”
“By Jove, mother, you talk sometimes like Anderson Crow. He often says things like that,” cried Wicker delightedly.