“I don’t want to! But I can have a voice in the matters of my own house and family yes, and guests! I can’t spare Maggie to-morrow. You well know Sanford won’t go on any such wild goose chase with you, and I’m sure I won’t. You can’t go alone —and anyway, the whole thing is bosh and nonsense. Let me hear no more of it!”
Eunice picked up her pen, but she cast a sidelong glance at her aunt to see if she accepted the situation.
She did not. Miss Abby Ames was a lady of decision, and she had one hobby, for the pursuit of which she would attempt to overcome any obstacle.
“You needn’t hear any more of it, Eunice,” she said, curtly. “I am not a child to be allowed out or kept at home! I shall go to Newark to-morrow to see this performance, and I shall go alone, and—”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort! You’d look nice starting off alone on a railroad trip! Why, I don’t believe you’ve ever been to Newark in your life! Nobody has! It isn’t done!”
Eunice was half whimsical, half angry, but her stormy eyes presaged combat and her rising color indicated decided annoyance.
“Done!” cried her aunt. “Conventions mean nothing to me! Abby Ames makes social laws—she does not obey those made by others!”
“You can’t do that in New York, Aunt Abby. In your old Boston, perhaps you had a certain dictatorship, but it won’t do here. Moreover, I have rights as your hostess, and I forbid you to go skylarking about by yourself.”
“You amuse me, Eunice!”
“I had no intention of being funny, I assure you.”
“While not distinctly humorous, the idea of your forbidding me is, well—oh, my gracious, Eunice, listen to this: ’The man chosen for Hanlon’s “guide” is the Hon. James L. Mortimer—’ —h’m—’High Street—’ Why, Eunice, I’ve heard of Mortimer —he’s—”
“I don’t care who he is, Aunt Abby, and I wish you’d drop the subject.”
“I won’t drop it—it’s too interesting! Oh, my! I wish we could go out there in the big car—then we could follow him round—”
“Hush! Go out to Newark in the car! Trail round the streets and alleys after a fool mountebank! With a horde of gamins and low, horrid men crowding about—”
They won’t be allowed to crowd about!”
“I admit the yelling—”
“Aunt Abby, you’re impossible!” Eunice rose, and scowled irately at her aunt. Her temper, always quick, was at times ungovernable, and was oftenest roused at the suggestion of any topic or proceeding that jarred on her taste. Exclusive to the point of absurdity, fastidious in all her ways, Mrs, Embury was, so far as possible, in the world but not of it.
Both she and her husband rejoiced in the smallness of their friendly circle, and shrank from any unnecessary association with hoi polloi.
And Aunt Abby Ames, their not entirely welcome guest, was of a different nature, and possessed of another scale of standards. Secure in her New England aristocracy, calmly conscious of her innate refinement, she permitted herself any lapses from conventional laws that recommended themselves to her inclination.