Hazel Wright learned to love her uncle Dick Badger very much during a visit he made at her mother’s home in Boston. She became well acquainted with him. He was always kind to her in his quiet way, and always had time to take her on his knee and listen to whatever she had to tell about her school or her plays, and even took an interest in her doll, Ella. Mrs. Wright used to laugh and tell her brother that he was a wonderful old bachelor, and could give lessons to many a husband and father; upon which uncle Dick responded that he had always been fond of assuming a virtue if he had it not; and Hazel wondered if “assuming-a-virtue” were a little girl. At any rate, she loved uncle Dick and wished he would live with them always; so it will be seen that when it was suddenly decided that Hazel was to go home with him to the town where he lived, she was delighted.
“Father and I are called away on business, Hazel,” her mother said to her one day, “and we have been wondering what to do with you. Uncle Dick says he’ll take you home with him if you would like to go.”
“Oh, yes, I would,” replied the little girl; for it was vacation and she wanted an outing. “Uncle Dick has a big yard, and Ella and I can have fun there.”
“I’m sure you can. Uncle Dick’s housekeeper, Hannah, is a kind soul, and she knew me when I was as little as you are, and will take good care of you.”
The evening before Hazel and her uncle were to leave, Mrs. Wright spoke to her brother in private.
“It seems too bad not to be able to write aunt Hazel that her namesake is coming,” she said. “Is she as bitter as ever?”
“Oh, yes. No change.”
“Just think of it!” exclaimed Mrs. Wright. “She lives within a stone’s throw of you, and yet can remain unforgiving so many years. Let me see—it is eight; for Hazel is ten years old, and I know she was two when the trouble about the property camp up; but you did right, Dick, and some time aunt Hazel must know it.”
“Oh, I think she has lucid intervals when she knows it now,” returned Mr. Badger; “but her pride won’t let her admit it. If it amuses her, it doesn’t hurt me for her to pass me on the street without a word or a look. When a thing like that has run along for years, it isn’t easy to make any change.”
“Oh, but it is so unchristian, so wrong,” returned his sister. “If you only had a loving enough feeling, Dick, it seems as if you might take her by storm.”
Mr. Badger smiled at some memory. “I tried once. She did the storming.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m a man of peace. I decided to let her alone.”
Mrs. Wright shook her head. “Well, I haven’t told Hazel anything about it. She knows she is named for my aunt; but she doesn’t know where aunt Hazel lives, and I wish you would warn Hannah not to tell the child anything about her or the affair. You know we lay a great deal of stress on not voicing discord of my kind.”