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- Raspberry Jam - 2/45 -
His methods had been drastic--somewhat like those of Petruchio toward Katherine. When his wife grew angry, Sanford Embury grew more so and by harder words and more scathing sarcasms he--as he expressed it--took the wind out of her sails and rendered her helplessly vanquished.
And yet they were a congenial pair. Their tastes were similar; they liked the same people, the same books, the same plays. Eunice approved of Sanford's correct ways and perfect intuitions and he admired her beauty and dainty grace.
Neither of them loved Aunt Abby--the sister of Eunice's father --but her annual visit was customary and unavoidable.
The city apartment of the Sanfords had no guestroom, and therefore the visitor must needs occupy Eunice's charming boudoir and dressing-room as a bedroom. This inconvenienced the Emburys, but they put up with it perforce.
Nor would they have so disliked to entertain the old lady had it not been for her predilection for occult matters. Her visit to their home coincided with her course of Clairvoyant Sittings and her class of Psychic Development.
These took place at houses in undesirable, sometimes unsavory localities and only Aunt Abby's immovable determination made it possible for her to attend.
A large text-book, "The Voice of the Future," was her inseparable companion, and one of her chief, though, as yet, unfulfilled, desires was to have a Reading given at the Embury home by the Swami Ramananda.
Eunice, by dint of stern disapproval, and Sanford, by his good-natured chaffing and ridicule had so far prevented this calamity, but both feared that Aunt Abby might yet outwit them and have her coveted seance after all.
Outside of this phase of her character, Miss Ames was not an undesirable guest. She had a good sense of humor, a kind and generous heart and was both perceptive and responsive in matters of household interest.
Owing to the early death of Eunice's mother, Aunt Abby had brought up the child, and had done her duty by her as she saw it.
It was after Eunice had married that Miss Ames became interested in mystics and with a few of her friends in Boston had formed a circle for the pursuance of the cult.
Her life had otherwise been empty, indeed, for the girl had given her occupation a-plenty, and that removed, Miss Abby felt a vague want of interest.
Eunice Ames had not been easy to manage. Nor was Miss Abby Ames the best one to be her manager.
The girl was headstrong and wilful, yet possessed of such winsome, persuasive wiles that she twisted her aunt round her finger.
Then, too, her quick temper served as a rod and many times Miss Ames indulged the girl against her better judgment lest an unpleasant explosion of wrath should occur and shake her nervous system to its foundation. So Eunice grew up, an uncurbed, untamed, self-willed and self-reliant girl, making up her quarrels as fast as she picked them and winning friends everywhere in spite of her sharp tongue.
And so, on this occasion, neither of the combatants held rancor more than a few minutes. Eunice went on writing letters and Miss Abby went on reading her paper, until at five o'clock, Ferdinand the butler brought in the tea-things.
"Goody!" cried Eunice, jumping up. "I do want some tea, don't you, Aunty?"
"Yes," and Miss Ames crossed the room to sit beside her. "And I've an idea, Eunice; I'll take Ferdinand with me to-morrow!"
The butler, who was also Embury's valet and a general household steward, looked up quickly. He had been in Miss Ames' employ for many years before Eunice's marriage, and now, in the Embury's city home was the indispensable major-domo of the establishment.
"Yes," went on Aunt Abby, "that will make it all quite circumspect and correct. Ferdinand, tomorrow you accompany me to Newark, New Jersey."
"I think not," said Eunice quietly, and dismissing Ferdinand with a nod, she began serenely to make the tea.
"Don't be silly, Aunt Abby," she said; "you can't go that way. It would be all right to go with Ferdinand, of course, but what could you do when you, reached Newark? Race about on foot, following up this clown, or whoever is performing?"
"We could take a taxicab--"
"You might get one and you might not. Now, you will wait till San comes home, and see if he'll let you have the big car."
"Will you go then, Eunice?"
"No; of course not. I don't go to such fool shows! There's the door! Sanford's coming."
A step was heard in the hall, a cheery voice spoke to Ferdinand as he took his master's coat and hat and then a big man entered the living-room.
"Hello, girls," he said, gaily; "how's things?"
He kissed Eunice, shook Aunt Abby's hand and dropped into an easy chair.
"Things are whizzing," he said, as he took the cup Eunice poured for him. "I've just come from the Club, and our outlook is rosy-posy. Old Hendricks is going to get, badly left."
"It's all safe for you, then, is it?" and Eunice smiled radiantly at her husband.
"Right as rain! The prize-fights did it! They upset old Hendrick's apple-cart and spilled his beans. Lots of them object to the fights because of the expense--fighters are a high-priced bunch--but I'm down on them because I think it bad form--"
"I should say so!" put in Eunice, emphatically.
"Bad form for an Athletic Club of gentlemen to have brutal exhibitions for their entertainment."
"And what about the Motion-Picture Theatre?"
"The same there! Frightful expense,--and also rotten taste! No, the Metropolitan Athletic Club can't stoop to such entertainments. If it were a worth-while little playhouse, now, and if they had a high class of performances, that would be another story. Hey, Aunt Abby? What do you think?"
"I don't know, Sanford, you know I'm ignorant on such matters. But I want to ask you something. Have you read the paper to-day?"
"Why, yes, being a normal American citizen, I did run through the Battle-Ax of Freedom. Why?"
"Did you read about Hanlon--the great Hanlon?"
"Musician, statesman or criminal? I can't seem to place a really great Hanlon. By the way, Eunice, if Hendricks blows in, ask him to stay to dinner, will you? I want to talk to him, but I don't want to seem unduly anxious for his company."
"Very well," and Eunice smiled; "if I can persuade him, I will."
"If you can!" exclaimed Miss Abby, her sarcasm entirely unveiled. "Alvord Hendricks would walk the plank if you invited him to do so!"
"Who wouldn't?" laughed Embury. "I have the same confidence in my wife's powers of persuasion that you seem to have, Aunt Abby; and though I may impose on her, I do want her to use them upon me deadly r-rival!"
"You mean rival in your club election," returned Miss Ames, "but he is also your rival in another way."
"Don't speak so cryptically, Aunt, dear. We all know of his infatuation for Eunice, but he's only one of many. Think you he is more dangerous than, say, friend Elliott?"
"Mason Elliott? Oh, of course, he has been an admirer of Eunice since they made mud-pies together."
"That's two, then," Embury laughed lightly. "And Jim Craft is three and Halliwell James is four and Guy Little--"
"Oh, don't include him, I beg of you!" cried Eunice; "he flats when he sings!"
"Well, I could round up a round dozen, who would willingly cast sheeps' eyes at my wife, but--well, they don't!"
"They'd better not," laughed Eunice, and Embury added, "Not if I see them first!"
"Isn't it funny," said Aunt Abby, reminiscently, "that Eunice did choose you out of that Cambridge bunch."
"I chose her," corrected Embury, "and don't take that wrong! I mean that I swooped down and carried her off under their very noses! Didn't I, Firebrand?"
"The only way you could get me," agreed Eunice, saucily.
"Oh, I don't know!" and Embury smiled. "You weren't so desperately opposed."
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