Amarilly of Clothes-line Alley
Belle K. Maniates
Part 4 out of 4
She opened a desk and took a thick, white square envelope from it, and
handed it to the little girl.
Wonderingly Amarilly opened it and took out a folded, engraved sheet of
thick paper. She read eagerly, and two little spots of pink came into
"Oh, oh!" she cried, looking up with shining eyes, which in another
moment glistened through tears.
"Why, Amarilly, aren't you glad that I am going to be--"
"Mrs. St. John?" smiled Amarilly. "I think it's beautiful. And,"
anxiously, "you will surely be good to--him?"
"Yes," replied Colette softly "I will be good--very good--to St. John.
Don't fear, Amarilly."
A card had fallen from the envelope. Amarilly picked it up and read:
"To be presented at the church."
"What's that?" she asked curiously.
"You have to show that at the church door. If you didn't have it, you
couldn't get in to see us married. It's the same as a ticket to a
theatre. And St. John doesn't like it; but if we didn't have them there
would be a mob of curious people who don't know us. I shall give all of
you tickets to come to the church, the Boarder and Lily Rose, too."
"Oh," cried Amarilly, "that will be lovely, and we shall all come."
"Of course you will all come. Your friend, the bishop, is to marry us,
and Bud is going to sing a solo. The choirmaster told me his voice was
"I must go home and tell them all about it," said Amarilly excitedly.
"Wait! There's more to hear. I am going to invite you to the reception
here at the house, and I am going to have a lovely white dress made for
you to wear, and you shall have white silk stockings and slippers and
"Oh!" gasped Amarilly, shutting her eyes. "I can't believe it."
The next morning at the studio she announced the wonderful news to
"I just received an invitation, myself," he replied. "We will go
together, Amarilly. I'll send you flowers and call for you with a
"Things must stop happening to me," said Amarilly solemnly. "I can't
stand much more."
"When things once begin to happen, Amarilly, they never stop. You are to
go from here now every day after luncheon to this address," handing her
"'Miss Varley,'" Amarilly read. "'1227, Winter Street.' Will she have
work for me, too?"
"Yes; work in schoolbooks. She takes a few private pupils, and I have
engaged her to teach you. I really think you should have instruction in
other branches than English and art and arithmetic."
Amarilly turned pale but said nothing for a moment. Then she held out
"I will study hard--to pay you," she said simply.
"And can you stand another piece of exciting news, Amarilly? Sunset,
which I have dawdled over for so long, drew first prize."
"Oh, Mr. Derry, that is best of all!"
"And do you know what I am going to give Mrs. St. John for a wedding
present from you and me? The picture of The Little Scrub-girl."
Another spring found the members of the Jenkins Syndicate still banking
regularly and flourishing in their various walks in life. The Boarder
had received a "raise"; Lily Rose was spending her leisure time in
fashioning tiny garments which she told Cory were for a doll baby; Iry
was wearing his first trousers cut over from a pair discarded by Bud;
and Amarilly was acquiring book lore with an ease and rapidity which
delighted Miss Varley and Derry. Through the medium of Mr. Vedder the
attention of the manager of a high class vaudeville had been drawn to
Bud, and he was now singing every night with a salary that made the
neighbors declare that "them Jenkinses was getting to be reg'ler
Amarilly coming home one Monday evening found the family grouped about
the long table listening with bulging eyes and hectic cheeks to the
Boarder, who had before him a sheet of figures. Amarilly was at once
alert, although somewhat resentful of this encroachment upon her
"Oh, come and hear, Amarilly!" "Amarilly, we've bought a farm!"
"Amarilly, we air agoin' to live in the country!"
"Let me explain," said the Boarder, usually slow and easy going, but now
alert and enthusiastic of mien and speech. "We've got a chance,
Amarilly, to sell this place and make quite a profit. That new factory
that's agoin' up acrost the alley has sent real estate scootin'. With
what we git fer it, we kin make a big payment on a farm. I took a run
down yesterday to look at one we kin git cheap, cause the folks on it
hez gotter go west fer the man's health. What we hev all saved up sence
we bought the place will keep us agoin' till we git in our fust summer
"Tell her about the house," prompted Mrs. Jenkins, her quick, maternal
eye noting the bewilderment and disapproval in her daughter's expressive
"It's all green meaders and orcherds and lanes," said the Boarder with
the volubility of one repeating an oft-told and well-loved tale, while
the young Jenkinses with the rapt, intense gaze of moving picture
beholders sat in pleased expectancy, "and the house sets on a little
rise of ground. It's a white house with a big chimbley and two stoops,
and thar's a big barn with two white hosses in it, and a cow and an
animal in the paster lot. A big pen of pigs, fifty hens in the henhouse,
and a few sheep. Thar's a piece of woods and the river."
"I'm a little fearful of the river on Iry's account," said Mrs. Jenkins,
"but we kin spank him up good as soon as we git thar, and then he'll
understand he's to keep away."
"We kin git a good dog to keep track of Iry and the cattle," said the
Boarder, and then he paused expectantly to listen to Amarilly's
approbation. But she was strangely silent.
"It will be a fust class investment," he continued sagely.
"Why will it? We don't know anything about farming," objected Amarilly.
"We'll have to hire someone to run it."
"I was brought up on a farm," replied the Boarder. "Thar ain't a thing I
don't know about farm work."
"I was raised on a farm, too," said Mrs. Jenkins. "I can make good
butter and I know all about raisin' chickens. I'll get some young
turkeys and have them ready to sell for Thanksgiving, and I'll set out
strawberries and celery plants."
"I kin larn, and I'll work hard and do just what he tells me to," said
Flamingus, motioning toward the Boarder.
"I kin have my dairy all right, all right," said Gus joyfully. "I'll
have a hull herd of cattle soon."
"I shall go in heavy on hens," said Milt importantly. "The grocer give
me a book about raising them. There's money in hens."
"I choose to take keer of the sheep," cried Bobby.
"I'll help ma do the work in the house and the garden," volunteered
"And I'm strong enough to work outdoors now," said Lily Rose. "I shall
help with the garden and with the housework."
"We'll all pitch in and work," said Flamingus authoritatively, "and
we're all partners and we won't hire no help. It will be clear profit."
"Ain't it lovely, Amarilly?" asked the mother, apprehensive lest the
little leader might blackball the project.
"We're all doing so well here, why change? Why not let well enough
alone?" she asked.
There was a general and surprised protest at this statement. It was
something new for Amarilly to be a kill-joy.
"Do you like to live in this alley when we kin hev all outdoors and git
a chanst to be somebody?" demanded Flamingus, who was rapidly usurping
his sister's place as head of the house.
"And think of the money we'll make!" reminded Milton.
"And the milk and butter and cream and good things to eat without buying
them!" exclaimed Gus.
"And huntin' f'r eggs and swimmin' in the river and skatin' and gettin'
hickory nuts and all the apples you kin eat," persuaded Bobby, who had
evidently been listening to the Boarder's fancies of farm life.
"Thar's a school close by, and all the chillern kin go," said the mother
anxiously. "Mebby you kin git to teach it after a while, Amarilly."
"Oh, Amarilly!" cried Lily Rose ecstatically, "to think of all the
trees, and all the sky, and all the green grass and all the birds--oh,
Words failed Lily Rose, but she sighed a far-seeing blissful sigh of
exquisite happiness at her horoscope. The Boarder looked at her, his
heart eloquent in his eyes, but he said nothing.
"Amarilly," cried Cory, "we kin hev real flowers fer nuthin' and pies
and ice-cream, and we kin cuddle little chicks like ma told me, and make
daisy chains, and hev picnics in the woods. Oh--"
Words also proved inadequate to Co's anticipations.
"Amawilly, we kin play wiv little lambs," lisped Iry.
"Bud, you haven't made your speech, yet," said Amarilly, wistfully,
realizing that the majority was against her.
"Bud won't go till fall," said Mrs. Jenkins.
"Till fall!" cried Amarilly faintly. "Why, when are we going?"
"Next week," answered the Boarder jubilantly. "The folks want to leave
right away, and we must get busy plantin'. I went to Vedder's friend,
the real estate man, this mornin' as soon as I got back, and he says
it's a real bargain."
"But why isn't Bud going?"
"This morning," informed Mrs. Jenkins proudly, "Bud had an offer. As
soon as the theatre shuts down, Mr. Vedder is going to take Bud to a big
resort and manage him for the season. He'll git lots of money. I
wouldn't let Bud go off with no one else, but Mr. Vedder is so nice, and
he says when Bud goes to the country in the fall he kin come into the
city Saturday nights on the Interurban and sing in the choir Sundays and
come back Monday. He kin stay with him, Mr. Vedder says. And the country
air and the fresh milk and eggs, will make a diff'rent boy of him. It's
what the doctor says he'd orter hev."
"Then, we'll go, of course," declared Amarilly resolutely.
"And, Amarilly," said the Boarder gravely, "your ma ain't said why she
wanted to go, but think of the diff'rence it will make in her life. To
be sure, she will have to work hard, but with you, Lily Rose, and Co to
help her, it won't be so hard, and it'll be higher class work than
slushing around in tubs and water, and she'll hev good feedin' and good
air, and we'll all feel like we was folks and our own bosses."
"Ma, I was selfish!" cried Amarilly remorsefully. "I'll work like a
Amarilly thereupon bravely assumed a cheerful mien and looked over the
Boarder's figures, listening with apparently great enthusiasm to the
plans and projects. But when she was upstairs in her own little bed and
each and every other Jenkins was wrapt in happy slumber, she turned her
face to the wall, and wept long, silently, and miserably. Far-away
fields and pastures did not look alluring to this little daughter of the
city who put bricks and mortar and lighted streets above trees and
meadows, for Amarilly was entirely metropolitan; sky-scrapers were her
birthright, and she loved every inch of her city.
"But it's best for them," she acknowledged.
A little pang came with the realization that they who had been so
dependent upon her guardianship for guidance were entirely competent to
act without her.
"It's Flam. He's growed up!" she sobbed, correctness of speech slipping
from her in her grief. "And he don't know near so much as I do, only
he's a man--or going to be--so what he says goes."
And with this bitter but inevitable recognition of the things that are,
Amarilly sobbed herself to sleep.
The next morning Amarilly served Derry's breakfast in heavy-hearted
silence, replying in low-voiced monosyllables to his gay, conversational
advances. She performed her household duties about the studio listlessly
though with conscientious thoroughness. When it came time to prepare
luncheon, Derry called her into the studio.
"Come here to the light, where I can see you best, Amarilly."
Reluctantly she came.
He turned his searching, artist's eyes upon her unsparingly, noting the
violet shadows under the white-lidded eyes, and the hard, almost tragic
lines in the drooping of her mobile mouth. She bore his gaze
unflinchingly, with indrawn breath and clenched hands.
"What is it, Amarilly?" he asked gently. "You will tell me, _nicht
These two last words were in deference to her new study of German.
At the genuine sympathy in his voice, Amarilly's composure gave way and
there was a rush of tears.
He led her to a divan and sat beside her.
"Yes, of course you will tell me, Amarilly. I knew there was an
emotional side to my practical, little maid, and I noticed at breakfast
that there was something wrong."
"Yes," she replied, with an effort, wiping away the rising tears, "I
will tell you, but no one else. If I told Mr. Vedder, he would not
understand; he would say I must do what was sensible. If I told Mr. St.
John, he would be shocked, and tell me that duty was hard, and that was
why it must be done,--to strengthen. Mrs. St. John would laugh, and say:
'Oh, what a foolish Amarilly!'"
"And what will I say, Amarilly?" he asked interestedly.
"You! Oh, you will understand what I feel, and you will be sorry."
"Then spin away, Amarilly. You'll have my sympathy and help in
everything that makes you feel bad, whether it's right or wrong."
"Oh, Mr. Derry, we are all going away--way off to the country--to live
on a farm!"
"Amarilly, you little city brat! You'd be a misfit on a farm. Tell me
what has sent the Jenkins family into the open."
Faithfully Amarilly enumerated the pros and cons of the agricultural
venture. When she had concluded her narrative, Derry, to her surprise
and sorrow, looked positively jubilant.
"And you don't want to live in the country, eh, Amarilly?"
"No, Mr. Derry," she protested. "I don't. I have never been there, but I
know the woods and the fields and--all that--must be beautiful--in
patches--but I couldn't bear it all the time--not to see all the bright
and white lights at night and the hurry, and the people, and the
theatres. No! I'd rather be the poorest little speck here than to own
and live on the biggest farm in the world."
He laughed delightedly.
"Oh, Amarilly, you little gamin! You have the right idea, though. We
don't want anything, however perfect it may be, all the time. We want it
just 'in patches'--as you say. You'll love the country with your whole
heart and soul when you come to see it if you know that you can leave
it. But this is a big change in your affairs, and we must talk it over.
We'll go to Carter's again for luncheon. Take off your apron and cap.
You won't have to fix your hair this time. It's even more beautiful than
it was then. Your frock, if it is cheap and plain, is artistic in cut
Amarilly felt cheered in spite of herself at his exuberant manner, but
burst into tears when on leaving the studio he casually remarked:
"So this is almost the last of your work here! I can never hope to get
such another housekeeper as you. I shall have to eat out again."
At sight of her grief he took hold of her arm almost roughly.
"Amarilly, you little goose, do you suppose I am going to let you be
exiled to a farm and lapse into the vernacular of the Boarder? Now, buck
up and trust to the judgment and affection of your twin brother."
Amarilly, wondering but hopeful, "bucked up," and they walked in silence
to Carter's, where Derry ordered a private dining-room and luncheon.
"Now, listen my child, and you shall hear, not of the midnight ride of
Paul Revere, but of the sad story of the life of your twin brother. My
parents died when I was too young to grieve for them. They are only a
faint memory. I had a cold-blooded, sensible guardian who put me into a
boys' school, from which I went to college, and then for a year in
Paris. He didn't let me know the amount of my inheritance. Consequently
I really worked and worked hard at the only thing I cared for and formed
no extravagant tastes. Neither was I courted and flattered by parasites.
"On my return from Paris, a year before I met you, I came into my
mother's fortune, and recently I have received the one left me by my
father. Having been brought up to live a comparatively simple life, in
the belief that I would be dependent on my own exertions, I have more
money than I know what to do with as yet. I have no one, not even a
fifth cousin, to be interested in. I have any number of acquaintances,
but no really intimate friends, so I have no one to help me spend and
enjoy my money.
"There was something about you, Amarilly, that appealed to me that first
day you came up to the studio. It couldn't have been your looks, for
aside from your hair, your expressive eyes, and your hands; you are
quite ordinary looking; but something about you amused me, then
interested me, and, now fascinates me. I have thought about it a good
deal, and have come to the conclusion that it is your direct naturalness
and earnestness. I have really come to feel as if you were a sort of a
younger sister of mine. I have done a very little for you in the way of
education, and I have intended to do more. The reason I have been slow
about it was--for reasons. I have discussed your future with the
Merediths a great many times.
"What I wished to do was to put you in the best girls' school I could
find and when you were finished there, to send you abroad, and give you
the same advantages that a sister of mine would have. But as I say, I
hesitated. It didn't seem exactly wise to separate you from your family,
surround you with different environments and then have you come home
to--the alley. I know your loyal little heart would never waver in its
affection for them, but such a decided change would not be wise.
"Now, you see, this farm business simplifies things wonderfully. With
the thrift and industry of your brothers and the Boarder I can easily
see the farm is going to be a prosperous undertaking, and by the time
you are finished--say five years--for Miss Varley tells me you are quite
up with the girls of your age in your studies, they will have a
substantial country home which you will enjoy immensely between times.
You will find that a country home, however humble, is not sordid like an
obscure home in the city. So next week, Amarilly, or as soon as Mrs.
Meredith can fit you out properly, you will be packed off to an ultra-
smart school. There will be one term this year, but I think you should
remain through the summer vacation and have private tutoring."
The waiter entered with the first course. When he had again gone out,
Amarilly looked up at Derry, her eyes full of a yearning that touched
"It would be lovely, Mr. Derry. Too lovely to happen, you know."
"There, Amarilly," he said with a combination of frown and smile, "there
it is again--your contradiction of eyes and mouth--the one of a gazelle;
the other, of a mule. I'll answer your objections before you make them,
for it is determined that you are to go."
The look he had ascribed to Amarilly's mouth came into the forward
thrust of his chin.
"First, you think you are too proud and independent to accept. From your
viewpoint it seems a good deal to do. From mine, proved by my bank
account, it is an absurdly small thing to do, but if you are truly
grateful for what you are pleased to think I have done for you, you will
let me do this, because you feel sorry for me that I am so alone in the
world. And St. John, himself, would tell you it was your duty to make
the most of your talents and opportunities. You can also do a little
charity work in keeping me straight, for you see, Amarilly, I am going
to Paris for two years to study, and I will have an incentive to work
and not play too hard if I know I have a little sister over here in
school who would be sorry if her brother went wrong and didn't get to be
a great artist. So for your sake, and for my sake--"
"But there's ma's sake," she said wistfully. "The Boarder says woman's
work on the farm is hard."
"There's the Boarderess and Co--"
"Lily Rose is not strong and doesn't know much about farm work, and Co's
only a kid."
"Well, I hadn't finished. You have an interest in the farm as one of the
syndicate, and you have some money saved."
"Yes," admitted Amarilly bewildered, not following his train of thought.
"Well, you won't need that now, and it can go towards a woman to help,--
a hired girl in country vernacular--during the busy seasons. And you can
go home summers. Every week you are to write me a long letter and tell
me about yourself and them."
Amarilly was gazing into space, and in silence he watched the odd,
little signs of conflict. It was the same sort of a struggle, only
harder and more prolonged, that she had passed through two years before
at the theatre when her untutored conscience bade her relinquish her
seat. Suddenly her countenance became illumined.
"I am going to do it, Mr. Derry! I am going to let you send me to
school, and abroad and wherever you think best."
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