When a Man Marries
I Make A Discovery
Really, I have left Aunt Selina rather out of it, but she was important as a cause, not as a
result; at least at first. She came out strong later. I believe she was a very nice old
woman, with strong likes and prejudices, which she was perfectly willing to pay for. At
least, I only presume she had likes; I know she had prejudices.
Nobody every understood why Bella consented to take Betty's place with Aunt Selina. As
for me, I was too much engrossed with my own affairs to pay the invalid much attention.
Once or twice during the day I had stopped in to see her, and had been received frigidly
and with marked disapproval. I was in disgrace, of course, after the scene in the dining
room the night before. I had stood like a naughty child, just inside the door, and replied
meekly when she said the pillows were overstuffed, and why didn't I have the linen slips
rinsed in starch water? She laid the blame of her illness on me, as I have said before, and
she made Jim read to her in the afternoon from a book she carried with her, Coals of Fire
on the DOMESTIC Hearth, marking places for me to read.
She sent for me that night, just as I had taken off my gown; so I threw on a dressing gown
and went in. To my horror, Jim was already there. At a gesture from Aunt Selina, he
closed the door into the hall and tiptoed back beside the bed, where he sat staring at the
figures on the silk comfort.
Aunt Selina's first words were:
"Where's that flibberty-gibbet?"
Jim looked at me.
"She must mean Betty," I explained. "She has gone to bed, I think."
"Don't--let--her--in--this--room--again," she said, with awful emphasis. "She is an
"Oh, come now, Aunt Selina," Jim broke in; "she's foolish, perhaps, but she's a nice little
Aunt Selina's face was a curious study. Then she raised herself on her elbow, and, taking
a flat chamois-skin bag from under her pillow, held it out.
"My cameo breastpin," she said solemnly; "my cuff-buttons with gold rims and storks
painted on china in the middle; my watch, that has put me to bed and got me up for forty
years, and my money--five hundred and ten dollars and forty cents!--taken with the doors
locked under my nose." Which was ambiguous, but forcible.
"But, good gracious, Miss Car--Aunt Selina!" I exclaimed, "you don't think Betty Mercer
took those things?"
"No," she said grimly; "I think I probably got up in my sleep and lighted the fire with
them, or sent em out for a walk." Then she stuffed the bag away and sat up resolutely in