“Well, leaving me out then, and speaking generally, why should a physician search continually for fresh wisdom, while a minister—”
“Beware, young man!” Aunt Caroline raised an affrighted hand. “Beware how you compare your case with that of a minister of the Gospel. That further wisdom is needed in the practice of medicine, anyone who has ever employed a doctor is well aware. But where is he who dare add one jot to Divine revelation?”
“No one is speaking of adding anything. But surely, in the matter of interpretation, an open mind is a first essential?”
“In the matter of interpretation,” said Aunt Caroline grandly, “we have our ordained ministers. How do you feel,” she added shrewdly, “toward quacks and healers who, without study or training, call themselves doctors? Do you say, ’Let us display an open mind’?”
“Time!” said Benis, who enjoyed his relative hugely—when she was disciplining someone else. “Here comes Desire with the tea.”
“What I really came out to say, Benis,” resumed Aunt Caroline, “is that I have just had a long distance call—Desire, my dear, cream or lemon?—a long distance call from Toronto where, I fear, such things are allowed on Sunday—Doctor, you like lemon, I think?—a call in fact from Mary Davis. You remember her, Benis? Such a sweet girl. She is feeling a little tired and would like to run down here for a rest. Desire, my dear, have you any plans with which this would interfere? I said that I would consult you and let her know. You are very careless with your plate, Benis. That Spode can never be replaced.”
Fortunately her anxiety for the family heirloom absorbed Aunt Caroline’s whole attention. If she noticed her nephew’s look of anguished guilt and his friend’s politely raised brows she ascribed it to his carelessness in balancing china. Desire’s downcast eyes and stiffened manner she did not notice at all.
“Well, my dear, what do you say? Shall we invite Mary?”
“It depends on Benis, of course,” said Desire quietly.
“Benis? What has Benis to do with it? Not but that he enjoyed having her here last time well enough. It is the privilege of the mistress of the house to choose her guests. I hope you will not be slack in claiming your privileges. They are much harder to obtain than one’s rights. My dear sister was careless. She allowed Benis’s father to do just as he pleased. Be warned in time.”
“Do you wish Miss Davis to visit us, Benis?” desire’s hands were busy with her teacup. Her eyes were still lowered.
“I have no wishes whatever in the matter,” said the professor with what might be considered admirable detachment.
“Tell Miss Davis we shall be delighted, Aunt,” said Desire.
Time, in quiet neighborhoods, like water in a pool, slips in and out leaving the pool but little changed. Only when one is waiting for something dreaded or desired do the days drag or hasten. Miss Davis was to arrive upon the Friday following her telephone invitation. That left Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Desire found them very long.