“Joyce,” said Jack Ware, stopping beside his sister’s seat in the long, Western-bound train, “I wish you’d go back into the observation-car, and make Mary stop talking. She’s telling all she knows to a couple of strangers.”
“Why don’t you do it?” asked Joyce, looking up from her magazine with a teasing smile. “That digniﬁed scowl of yours ought to frighten anything into silence.”
“I did try it,” confessed Jack. “I frowned and shook my head at her as I passed, but all the good it did was to start her to talking about me. ‘That’s my brother Jack,’ I heard her say, and her voice went through the car like a ﬁne-pointed needle. ‘Isn’t he big for fourteen? He’s been wearing long trousers for nearly a year.’ They both turned to look at me, and everybody smiled, and I was so embarrassed that I fell all over myself getting out of sight. And it was a girl she said it to,” he continued, wrathfully.
“A real pretty girl, about my age. The fellow with her is her brother, I reckon. They look enough alike. He’s a cadet from some military school. You can tell by his uniform.
They laugh at everything that Mary says, and that makes her go on all the worse. So if you don’t want them to know all our family history, past, present, and to come, you’d better go back and shut up that chatterbox. You know what Mary’s like when She gets started.”
“Yes, I know,” sighed Joyce, “but I don’t dare move now. Norman has just fallen asleep, and he’s been so restless all day that I don’t want him to waken until mamma has had her nap.” She glanced down at the little six-year-old brother stretched out on the seat beside her with his head in her lap, and then across the aisle at her mother, lying with her white face hidden among the shawls and pillows.
“If I send for Mary to come back here, she’ll ﬂop around until she wakes them both. Can’t you get her out on to the rear platform for a while? I should think she would enjoy riding out there on one of those little camp-stools. Slip one of those oranges into your pocket, and whisper to her to follow you out and guess what you have for her.”
“Well, I’ll try,” said Jack, dubiously, “but I’m almost sure she won’t budge. It isn’t every day she gets an audience like that. It ﬂatters her to have them laugh at everything she says, and as sure as I stop and speak to her she’ll say something that I don’t want to hear.”
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