“He ain’t got nothin’ to really fret over,” said Joshua serenely; “he knows it, ‘n’ I know it, ‘n’ you know it, too.”
“You don’t know nothin’ of the sort,” said Lucinda. “She’s madder’n usual this time. She’s good an’ mad. You mark my words, if he goes off on a ‘nother spree this spring he’ll get cut out o’ her will.”
“You mark my words!” rasped Lucinda, shaking her finger in witchlike warning.
Joshua laughed again.
“Them laughs best what laughs last,” said Aunt Mary’s handmaiden. She turned away, and then returned to give Joshua a look that proved that the peppery mistress had inculcated some cayenne into the souls of those about her. “You mark my words—them laughs best what laughs last, an’ there’ll be little grinnin’ for him if he ain’t a chalk-walker for one while now.”
But, as a matter of fact, Jack’s situation was suddenly become extremely precarious.
“There ain’t no sense in it,” said Aunt Mary to herself, with an emphasis that screwed her face up until she looked quite like Lucinda; “that life those young men lead on their little vacations is to blame for everything. Cities are wells of iniquity; they’re full of all kinds of doin’s that respectable people wouldn’t be seen at, and I’m proud to say that I haven’t been in one myself for twenty-five years. I’m a great believer in keepin’ out of trouble, an’ if Jack’d just stuck to college an’ let towns go, he’d never have met the cabman and the Kalamazoo girl, an’ I’d have overlooked the cook an’ the cat. As it is, my patience is done. If he goes into one more scrape he’ll be done too. I mean what I say. So my young man had better take warnin’. Probably—most likely—pretty certainly.”
Chapter Three — Introducing Jack
It has been previously stated that Aunt Mary’s nephew, Jack, was a scapegrace, and as delightful as scapegraces generally are. It goes without saying that he was good-looking; and of course he must have been jolly and pleasant or he wouldn’t have been so popular. As a matter of fact, Jack was very good-looking, unusually jolly, and uncommonly popular. He was one of the best liked men in each of the colleges which he had attended. There was something so winning about his smile and his eternal good humor that no one ever tried to dislike him; and if anyone ever had tried he or she would not have succeeded for very long. It is probably very unfortunate that the world is so full of this type of young man, but that which should cause us all to have infinite patience with them is the reflection of how much more unfortunate it would be if they were suddenly eliminated from the general scheme of things.
Like all college boys, Jack had a chum. The chum was Robert Burnett, another charming young fellow of one-and-twenty, whose education had been so cosmopolitan in design and so patriotic in practice that he always said “Sacre bleu” and “Donnerwetter” when he thought of it, and “Great Scott” when he didn’t. He and Jack were as congenial a pair as ever existed, and they had just about as much in common as the aunt of the one and the father of the other had had to pay for.