“Is it?” he said, asking the question chiefly of her pretty eyes. “Is it honestly different now?”
“I think it is,” she answered.
A door banged below.
“That’s Burr!” he exclaimed, remembering suddenly the proximity of their chairs, and making haste to place himself farther away.
Burnett’s step was heard on the stair.
“You never said anything to him, did you?” she questioned quickly.
The next instant Burnett was in the room, and his sister was in his arms. (Astonishing how coolly he accepted the fact, too.)
“Mr. Denham is coming to me with you, Bob,” she said when he released her. “I’ve persuaded him.”
“How did you do it?” she was asked.
“By undertaking to reconcile him with his aunt, dear,” she replied, blandly. “It’s a contract that we’ve drawn up between us. You know that I was always rather good in the part of the peacemaker.”
As she spoke, her eyes fell warningly on the manifest astonishment of Aunt Mary’s nephew.
“You don’t know what you’re undertaking, Betty,” said her brother. “You never had a chance to take Aunt Mary for better, for worse—I have.”
“I’m not alarmed,” said she, “I’m very courageous. I’m sure I’ll succeed.”
“Can the mender of ways—other people’s ways—come in?” asked a voice at the door.
It was Mitchell’s voice, and he came in without waiting for an invitation.
“Is it time that I went?” Mrs. Rosscott asked him, anxiously.
“Half an hour yet.”
“Oh, I say Jack,” cried Burnett, “let’s boil some water in the witch-hazel pan, and make a rarebit in the poultice pan, and have some tea here.”
“Sure,” said Jack, suddenly become his blithe and buoyant self again. “You just take off your hat and look the other way, Mrs. Rosscott, and we’ll have you a lunch in a jiffy.”
In Aunt Mary’s part of the country the skies had been crying themselves sick for the last six weeks. The cranberry bog was a goner forever, it was feared, and a little house, very handy for sorting berries in, had had its foundations undermined, and disappeared beneath the face of the waters also.
Under such propitious circumstances, Aunt Mary sat by her own particular window and looked sternly and severely out across the garden and down the road. Lucinda sat by the other window sewing. Lucinda hadn’t changed materially, but her general appearance struck her mistress as more irritating than ever. Everything and everybody seemed to have become more and more irritating ever since Jack had been disinherited. Of course, it was right that he should have been disinherited, but Aunt Mary hadn’t thought much beforehand as to what would happen afterward, and it was too aggravating to have him turn out so well just when she had lost all patience with him and so cast him off forever, and for him to develop such a beautiful character, all of a sudden too—just as if education and good advice had been his undoing and seclusion and illness were the guardian angels arrived just in time to save him from the evil effects thereof.