Jack came in about seven and looked at her.
“She mustn’t be disturbed,” he said thoughtfully. “If she wakes up before ten we’ll go out then.”
She awoke about nine, and when she opened her eyes the first thing that she saw was Janice, sitting near by.
“I feel real good,” said Aunt Mary.
“I’m so glad,” yelled Janice, and smiled, too.
The old lady sat up.
“I believe I could have gone out, after all,” she said. “Only I don’t want to take dinner anywhere.”
Then she paused and reflected. It was surprising how good she felt and how she did want to make Jack happy. “After all boys will be boys,” she thought, tenderly, “an’ I ain’t but seventy, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t go out with him if he wants to. I’m a great believer in doin’ what you want to—I mean, in doin’ what other folks want you to. At any rate I’m a great believer in it sometimes. To-day—this time.”
“Your nephew is waiting,” the maid howled. “Shall I tell him you want to go after all?”
“Is it late?” the old lady inquired.
“Oh, dear, no!”
“Wouldn’t you go if you was me?” asked the old lady.
“Indeed I would.”
Aunt Mary rose. A flood of metropolitan fever suddenly surged up and around and over and through her.
“Tell him I’ll be down in five minutes,” she said.
“Can you change in that time?” Janice stopped to shriek.
“What should I change for?” Aunt Mary demanded in astonishment. “Ain’t I all dressed now?”
Janice did not attempt to shriek any counter-advice, and while she was gone to find Jack, her mistress brushed herself in some places, soaped herself in others, and considered her toilet made. When Janice returned she caught up a loose lock of hair, and put the placket-hole of her skirt square in the middle of Aunt Mary’s back, and dared go no further. There was an air even about the back of Jack’s influential aunt which forbade too much liberty to those dealing with her.
Aunt Mary descended the stairs about half-past nine; she thought it was about a quarter to eight, but the difference between the hour that it was and the hour that she thought that it was will be all the same a hundred years from now.
Jack came out of the Louis XIV. drawing room when he heard her step in the hall. There was another young man with him.
“This is my friend Burnett, Aunt Mary,” her nephew roared. “You must excuse his not bowing lower, but you know he broke his collarbone recently.”
Aunt Mary shook hands warmly; she knew all about the ribs and the collarbone, because they had formed big items in the testimony which had momentarily and as momentously relegated Jack to the comradeship of the devil himself, in her eyes. However, she recalled them merely as facts now—not at all in a disagreeable way—and gave Burnett an extra squeeze of good-fellowship, as she said: