AUNT STANSHY’S BOARDER.
Aunt Stanshy had often said she would never have boarders, and she would “go to the almshouse first,” yes, she “would.” One day, though, there came to the house a frank, lively, irrepressible young man of nineteen.
“I am a stranger here,” he said, “but my name is Somers, Will Somers, and I have come here to be a clerk in Tilton’s apothecary-store; been in Boston, you know, with Tompkins & Thomas, Tilton, when he was up the other day at our store, said that he wanted a clerk and offered me the chance, which I concluded to accept. I want a boarding-place, marm; but what a town this is? Do I look like a tramp, and if I don’t, what is the matter that I cant get a boarding-house? Do I look like one?”
Here he looked at Aunt Stanshy, making such an appeal with his frank, blue eyes, that Aunt Stanshy could not well do otherwise than say, “Why, no!”
“Then wont you take me?”
“O—I—I—said I never would take boarders,—and—and—I am unprepared,—and—and—”
“O this room will do first-rate. I shouldn’t want one any better, really. I know”—here he gave a very approving glance about the room. “Now come, do! It would please mother very much.”
“Have you a mother living?”
“O yes, and she is one of the best mothers, too, and I think you look like her. There are four of us brothers. How much your little boy looks like my little brother Willie at home! Come here,” he said to Charlie, who had opened the door to ask Aunt Stanshy a question, “come here and see what apothecaries carry in their pockets. Some folks think they only carry drugs and such things, but you see if it is so?” Here he put into Charlie’s fat hand a long and toothsome piece of checkerberry pipe stem!
“He is not my little boy really,” explained Aunt Stanshy, and then she went on to say who Charlie was, and also told about other things, finally saying so much concerning the Macomber family that he ceased to be a stranger and seemed to become a relative, a species of long-absent son, and consistently what could Aunt Stanshy do but let Will Somers—an arrival in Seamont only a few hours old—have that sacred apartment—her front room?
“What a fool I am!” soliloquized Aunt Stanshy. She watched Will Somers go down the street after the interview, and heard him whistling “The girl I left behind me.” Did he mean Aunt Stanshy? “I’m a nat’ral-born fool, I do believe,” she exclaimed, “letting a perfect stranger have that room; but there, it will be sort of nice having him round. I s’pose he will want to stick a lot of things into that room.” And didn’t he stick up “things” and make changes? Down came the two yellow crockery crow-biddies that had roosted on the mantelpiece the last twenty years, never having paid for the privilege with a single crow. Down came two vases of dried