He heard a voice; it was the parrot.
“Now see what you’ve done,” it said in sepulchral tones.
They reached the house, bore the honored guest within, and delivered her to Janice.
“You can have that parrot,” Jack called back to the cabman. “He’s guaranteed against slang.”
The cabman drove away.
Janice received them with a look which might have been construed in many ways, but they were all far past construing and the look fell to the ground unheeded.
And again Aunt Mary was tucked carefully up to dream herself rested once more.
Chapter Eighteen — A Departure And A Return
The next day poor Aunt Mary had to undergo the ordeal of being obliged to turn her face away from all those joys which had so suddenly and brilliantly altered the hues of life for her. It pretty nearly used her up. She took her reviving decoction with tears standing in her eyes,—and sat down the glass with a bursting sigh. “My, but I wish I knew when I’d be taking any more of this?” she said to Janice.
“Oh, you’ll come back to the city some day,” said the maid hopefully.
“Come back!” said Aunt Mary. “Well, I should say that I would come back! Why—I—?” she stopped suddenly, “never mind,” she said after a minute, “only you’ll see that I’ll come back. Pretty surely—pretty positively.”
Janice was folding her dresses into the small trunk. Aunt Mary contemplated the green plaid waist with an air of mournful reflection.
“I believe I’ll always keep that waist rolled away,” she murmured. “I shall like to shake it out once in a while to remind me of things.”
“Hand me my purse,” she said to the maid five minutes afterwards. “Here’s twenty-five dollars an’ I want you to take it and get anythin’ you like with it.”
“But that’s too much,” Janice cried, putting her hands behind her and shaking her head.
“Take it,” said Aunt Mary imperiously; “you’re well worth it.”
“I don’t like to—truly,” said the girl.
“Take it,” said Aunt Mary sternly.
So Janice took it and thanked her.
The train went about 4 p.m., and it seemed wise to give the traveller a quiet luncheon in her own room and rally her escort afterwards.
When she had eaten and drank she sighed again and thoughtfully folded her napkin.
“I’ve had a nice time,” she said, gazing fixedly out of the window. “I’ve had a nice time, and I guess those young men have enjoyed it, too. I rather think my bein’ here has given them a chance to go to a good many places where they’d never have thought of goin’ alone. I’m pretty sure of it.”
Janice made no reply.
“But it’s all over now,” said Aunt Mary with something that sounded suspiciously like a sob in her voice, “an’ I haven’t got only just one consolation left an’ that’s—” again she paused.