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- Raspberry Jam - 3/45 -
"No; but she was undecided," said Aunt Abby; "why, for weeks before your engagement was announced, Eunice couldn't make up her mind for certain. There was Mason Elliott and Al Hendricks, both as determined as you were."
"I know it, Aunt. Good Lord, I guess I knew those boys all my life, and I knew all their love affairs as well as they knew all mine."
"You had others, then?" and Eunice opened her brown eyes in mock amazement.
"Rather! How could I know you were the dearest girl in the world if I had no one to compare you with?"
"Well, then I had a right to have other beaux."
"Of course you did! I never objected. But now, you're my wife, and though all the men in Christendom may admire you, you are not to give one of them a glance that belongs to me."
"No, sir; I won't," and Eunice's long lashes dropped on her cheeks as she assumed an absurdly overdone meekness.
"I was surprised, though," pursued Aunt Abby, still reminiscent, "when Eunice married you, Sanford. Mr. Mason is so much more intellectual and Mr. Hendricks so much better looking."
"Thank you, lady!" and Embury bowed gravely. "But you see, I have that--er--indescribable charm--that nobody can resist."
"You have, you rascal!" and Miss Ames beamed on him. "And I think this a favorable moment to ask a favor of your Royal Highness."
"Out with it. I'll grant it, to the half of my kingdom, but don't dip into the other half."
"Well, it's a simple little favor, after all. I want to go out to Newark to-morrow in the big car--"
"Newark, New Jersey?"
"Is there any other?"
"Well, the New Jersey one will do me, this time. Oh, Sanford, do let me go! A man is going to will another man--blindfolded, you know--to find a thingumbob that he hid--nobody knows where--and he can't see a thing, and he doesn't know anybody and the guide man is Mr. Mortimer--don't you remember, his mother used to live in Cambridge? she was an Emmins--well, anyway, it's the most marvelous exhibition of thought transference, or mind-reading, that has ever been shown--and I must go. Do let me?--please, Sanford!"
"My Lord, Aunt Abby, you've got me all mixed up! I remember the Mortimer boy, but what's he doing blindfolded?"
"No; it's the Hanlon man who's blindfolded, and I can go with Ferdinand--and--"
"Go with Ferdinand! Is it a servants' ball--or what?"
"No, no; oh, if you'd only listen, Sanford!"
"Well, I will, in a minute, Aunt Abby. But wait till I tell Eunice something. You see, dear, if Hendricks does show up, I can pump him judiciously and find out where the Meredith brothers stand. Then--"
"All right, San, I'll see that he stays. Now do settle Aunt Abby on this crazy scheme of hers. She doesn't want to go to Newark at all--"
"I do, I do!" cried the old lady.
"Between you and me, Eunice, I believe she does want to go," and Embury chuckled. "Where's the paper, Aunt? Let me see what it's all about."
"'A Fair Test,'" he read aloud. "'Positive evidence for or against the theory of thought transference. The mysterious Hanlon to perform a seeming miracle. Sponsored by the Editor of the Newark Free Press, assisted by the prominent citizen, James L. Mortimer, done in broad daylight in the sight of crowds of people, tomorrow's performance will be a revelation to doubters or a triumph indeed for those who believe in telepathy.' H'm --h'm--but what's he going to do?"
"Read on, read on, Sanford," cried Aunt Abby, excitedly.
"'Starting from the Oberon Theatre at two o'clock, Hanlon will undertake to find a penknife, previously hidden in a distant part of the city, its whereabouts known only to the Editor of the Free Press and to Mr. Mortimer. Hanlon is to be blindfolded by a committee of citizens and is to be followed, not preceded by Mr. Mortimer, who is to will Hanlon in the right direction, and to "guide" him merely by mental will-power. There is to be no word spoken between these two men, no personal contact, and no possibility of a confederate or trickery of any sort.
"' Mr. Mortimer is not a psychic; indeed, he is not a student of the occult or even a believer in telepathy, but he has promised to obey the conditions laid down for him. These are merely and only that he is to follow Hanlon, keeping a few steps behind him, and mentally will the blindfolded man to go in the right direction to find the hidden knife."'
"Isn't it wonderful, Sanford," breathed Miss Abby, her eyes shining with the delight of the mystery.
"Poppycock!" and Embury smiled at her as a gullible child. "You don't mean to say, aunt, that you believe there is no trickery about this!"
"But how can there be? You know, Sanford, it's easy enough to say 'poppycock' and 'fiddle-dee-dee!' and 'gammon' and 'spinach!' But just tell me how it's done--how it can be done by trickery? Suggest a means however complicated or difficult--"
"Oh, of course, I can't. I'm no charlatan or prestidigitateur! But you know as well as I do, that the thing is a trick--"
"I don't! And anyway, that isn't the point. I want to go to see it. I'm not asking your opinion of the performance, I'm asking you to let me go. May I?"
"No, indeed! Why, Aunt Abby, it will be a terrible crowd--a horde of ragamuffins and ruffians. You'd be torn to pieces--"
"But I want to, Sanford," and the old lady was on the verge of tears. "I want to see Hanlon--"
"Hanlon! Who wants to see Hanlon?"
The expected Hendricks came into the room, and shaking hands as he talked, he repeated his question: "Who wants to see Hanlon? Because I do, and I'll take any one here who is interested."
"Oh, you angel man!" exclaimed Aunt Abby, her face beaming. "I want to go! Will you really take me, Alvord?"
"Sure I will! Anybody else? You want to see it, Eunice?"
"Why, I didn't, but as Sanford just read it, it sounded interesting. How would we go?"
"I'll run you out in my touring car. It won't take more'n the afternoon, and it'll be a jolly picnic. Go along, San?"
"No, not on your life! When did you go foolish, Alvord?"
"Oh, I always had a notion toward that sort of thing. I want to see how he does it. Don't think I fall for the telepathy gag, but I want to see where the little joker is,--and then, too, I'm glad to please the ladies."
"I'll go," said Eunice; "that is, if you'll stay and dine now --and we can talk it over and plan the trip."
"With all the pleasure in life," returned Hendricks.
A TRIP TO NEWARK
Perhaps no factor is more indicative of the type of a home life than its breakfast atmosphere. For, in America, it is only a small proportion, even among the wealthy who 'breakfast in their rooms.' And a knowledge of the appointments and customs of the breakfast are often data enough to stamp the status of the household.
In the Embury home, breakfast was a pleasant send-off for the day. Both Sanford and Eunice were of the sort who wake up wide-awake, and their appearance in the dining-room was always an occasion of merry banter and a leisurely enjoyment of the meal. Aunt Abby, too, was at her best in the morning, and breakfast was served sufficiently early to do away with any need for hurry on Sanford's part.
The morning paper, save for its headlines, was not a component part of the routine, and it was an exceptionally interesting topic that caused it to be unfolded.
This morning, however, Miss Ames reached the dining-room before the others and eagerly scanned the pages for some further notes of the affair in Newark.
But with the total depravity of inanimate things and with the invariable disappointingness of a newspaper, the columns offered no other information than a mere announcement of the coming event.
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