Eve to the Rescue
“To-morrow being Saturday afternoon,” began Eveley, deftly slipping a dish of sweet pickles beyond the reach of the covetous fat fingers of little niece Nathalie,—“to-morrow being Saturday afternoon—”
“Doesn’t to-morrow start at sunrise as usual?” queried her brother-in-law curiously.
“As every laborer knows,” said Eveley firmly, “Saturday begins with the afternoon off. And I am a laborer. Therefore, to-morrow being Saturday-afternoon-off, and since I have trespassed on your hospitality for a period of two months, it behooves me to find me a home and settle down.”
“Oh, Eveley,” protested her sister in a soft troubled voice, “don’t be disagreeable. You talk as if we were strangers. Aren’t we the only folks you have? And aren’t you my own and only baby sister? If you can’t live with us, where can you live?”
“As it says in the Bible,” explained Eveley, truthfully if unscripturally, “no two families are small enough for one house.”
“But who calls you a family?” interrupted the brother-in-law.
“I do. And nice and sweet as you all are, and adorable as I am well aware am I, all of you and all of me can not be confined to one house.”
“But we have counted on it,” persisted Winifred earnestly. “We have looked forward to it. We have always said that you would come to us when Aunt Eloise died,—and she did—and you must. We—we expect it.”
“‘England expects every man to do his duty,’” quoted Burton in a sepulchral voice.
Then Eveley rose in her place, tall and formidable. “That is it,—duty. Then let me announce right now, once and for all, Burton Raines and Winifred, eternally and everlastingly, I do not believe in duty. No one shall do his duty by me. I publicly protest against it. I won’t have it. I have had my sneaking suspicions of duty for a long time, and lately I have been utterly convinced of the folly and the sin of it. Whenever any one has anything hateful or disagreeable to do, he draws a long voice and says it is his duty. It seems that every mean thing in the world is somebody’s duty. Duty has been the curse of civilization for lo, these many years!” Then she sat down. “Please pass the jam.”
“Oh, all right, all right,” said Burton amiably, “have it your own way, by all means. Henceforth and forever after, we positively decline to do our duty by you. But what is our duty to you? Answer me that, and then I guarantee not to do it.”
“It is our duty to keep Eveley right here with us and take care of her,” said Winifred, with as much firmness as her soft voice could master. “She is ours, and we are hers, and it is our duty to stand between her and a hard world.”
“You can’t. In the first place I am awfully stuck on the world, and want to get real chummy with it. Any one who tries to stand between it and me, shall be fired out bodily, head first.”
“Oh, Eveley,” came a sudden wail from Winifred, “you can’t go off and live by yourself. What will people think?...