“I made a big mistake about the life that boy was leadin’,” she said in the course of the conversation. “He took me everywhere where he was in the habit of goin’, an’ so far from its bein’ wicked, I never enjoyed myself so much in my life. There ain’t no harm in havin’ fun, an’ it does cost a lot of money. I can understand it all now, an’ as I’m a great believer in settin’ wrong right whenever you can, I want Jack put right in my will right off. I want—” and then were unfolded the glorious possibilities of the future for her youngest, petted nephew. He was not only to be reinstated in the will, but he was to reign supreme. The other four children were to be rich—very rich,—but Jack was to be the heir.
Mr. Stebbins was well pleased. He was very fond of Jack and had always been particularly patient with him on that account. He felt that this was a personal reward of merit, for it cannot be denied that Jack had certainly cashed very large checks on the bank of his forbearance.
When all was finished, and Joshua and Lucinda had been called in and had duly affixed their signatures to the important document, the buggy was brought to the door again and Mr. Stebbins stepped in and allowed himself to be replaced where they had taken him from.
Joshua returned alone.
“There, what did I tell you!” said Lucinda, who was waiting for him behind the wood-house,—“she did want to change her will.”
“Well, she changed it, didn’t she?” said Joshua.
“I guess she wants to give him all she’s got, since that week in New York,” said Lucinda.
“Then she’ll give him all she’s got,” said Joshua.
Lucinda’s eyes grew big.
“An’ she’ll give it to you, too, if you don’t look out and stay where you can hear her bell if she rings it,” Joshua added, with his usual frankness, and then he whipped up Billy and drove on to the barn.
Arethusa returned late in the afternoon, very warm, very wilted. Aunt Mary looked over the cotton purchase, and deigned to approve.
“But, my heavens, Arethusa,” she exclaimed immediately afterwards, “if you had any idea how dirty and dusty and altogether awful you do look, you wouldn’t be able to get to soap and water fast enough.”
At that poor Arethusa sighed, and, gathering up her hat, and hat-pins, and veil, and gloves, and purse, and handkerchief, went away to wash.
About the first of July many agreeable things happened.
One was that Mr. Stebbins found it advisable to address a discreet letter to John Watkins, Jr., Denham, conveying the information that although he must not count unduly upon the future, still, if he behaved himself, he might with safety allow his expenditures to mount upward monthly to a certain limit. This was the way in which Aunt Mary salved her conscience and saved her pride all at once.