Janice was catching her tired breath, but she answered with a smile.
“Can’t you get my Sunday umbrella out of the closet now an’ do a parasol dance?” the insatiate demanded; “one of those where you shoot it open an’ shut when people ain’t expectin’.”
The maid went to the closet and brought out the Sunday umbrella; but its shiny black silk did not appear to inspire any fluffy maneuvres, so she utilized it in the guise of a broadsword and did something that savored of the Highlands, and seemed to rebel bitterly at the length of her skirt. Aunt Mary writhed around in bliss—utter and intense.
“I feel like I was livin’ again,” she said, heaving a great sigh of content. “I tell you I’ve suffered enough, since I came back, to know what it is to have some fun again. Now, Granite, I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” when the girl sat down to rest; “you write for those cigarettes while I take a little nap and afterwards we’ll get the Universal Knowledge book and learn how to play poker. You don’t know how to play poker, do you?”
“A little,” cried the maid.
“Well, I want to learn how,” said the old lady, “an’ we’ll learn when—when I wake up.”
Janice nodded assent.
“Excuse me shuttin’ my eyes,” said Aunt Mary—and she was asleep in two minutes.
Mary and Arethusa—Aunt Mary’s two nieces—were not uncommonly mercenary; but about three weeks after the new arrival they became seriously troubled over the ascendancy that she appeared to be gaining over the mind of their aunt. Lucinda’s duties had included for many years the writing of a weekly letter which contained formal advices of the general state of affairs, and after Janice’s establishment, these letters became so provocative of gradually increasing alarm that first Mary, and then Arethusa thought it advisable to make the journey for the purpose of investigating the affair personally. They found the new maid apparently devoid of evil intent, but certainly fast becoming absolutely indispensable to the daily happiness of their influential relative. Mary feared that a codicil for five thousand dollars would be the result; but Arethusa felt, with a sinking heart, that there was another naught going on to the sum, and that, unless the tide turned, the end might not be even then.
Aunt Mary was so cool that neither niece stayed long, and Lucinda’s letters had to be looked to for the progress of events. Lucinda’s letters were frequent and not at all reassuring. After the sisters had talked them over, they sent them on to Jack.