Miss Minerva, sober, proper, dignified, religious old maid unused to children, listened in frozen amazement and paralyzed silence. She decided to put the child to bed at once that she might collect her thoughts, and lay some plans for the rearing of this sadly neglected, little orphaned nephew.
“William,” she said, “it is bedtime, and I know you must be sleepy after your long ride on the cars. Would you like something to eat before I put you to bed? I saved you some supper.”
“Naw ’m, I ain’t hongry; the Major man what I talk to on the train tuck me in the dinin’-room an’ gimme all I could hol’; I jest eat an’ eat tell they wan’t a wrinkle in me,” was the reply. “He axed me ‘bout you, too. Is he name’ Major Minerva?”
She opened a door in considerable confusion, and they entered a small, neat room adjoining.
“This is your own little room, William,” said she, “you see it opens into mine. Have you a nightshirt?”
“Naw ‘m, I don’ need no night-shirt. I jest sleeps in my unions and sometimes in my overalls.”
“Well, you may sleep in your union suit to-night,” said his scandalized relative, “and I’ll see what I can do for you to-morrow. Can you undress yourself?”
Her small nephew wrinkled his nose, disdainfully. “Well, I reckon so,” he scornfully made answer. “Me an’ Wilkes Booth Lincoln been undressin’ usself ever sence we’s born.”
“I’ll come in here after a while and turn off the light. Good-night, William.”
“Good-night, Aunt Minerva,” responded the little boy.