Eleanor H. Porter
Part 2 out of 4
live ones--no, no, I don't mean _all_ the hair, but hair from all
seventeen and five. Nurse Sarah used to tell me about it.
Well, as I said, all the shiver places were there, and I shivered
again as I looked at them; then I crossed over to Mother's old piano,
opened it, and touched the keys. I love to play. There wasn't any
music there, but I don't need music for lots of my pieces. I know them
by heart--only they're all gay and lively, and twinkly-toe dancy.
_Marie_ music. I don't know a one that would be proper for _Mary_ to
But I was just tingling to play _something_, and I remembered that
Father was in the observatory, and Aunt Jane upstairs in the other
part of the house where she couldn't possibly hear. So I began to
play. I played the very slowest piece I had, and I played softly at
first; but I know I forgot, and I know I hadn't played two pieces
before I was having the best time ever, and making all the noise I
Then all of a sudden I had a funny feeling as if somebody somewhere
was watching me; but I just couldn't turn around. I stopped playing,
though, at the end of that piece, and then I looked; but there wasn't
anybody in sight. But the wax cross was there, and the coffin plate,
and that awful hair wreath; and suddenly I felt as if that room was
just full of folks with great staring eyes. I fairly shook with
shivers then, but I managed to shut the piano and get over to the door
where the light was. Then, a minute later, out in the big silent hall,
I crept on tiptoe toward the stairs. I knew then, all of a sudden, why
I'd felt somebody was listening. There was. Across the hall in the
library in the big chair before the fire sat--_Father_! And for 'most
a whole half-hour I had been banging away at that piano on marches and
dance music! My! But I held my breath and stopped short, I can tell
you. But he didn't move nor turn, and a minute later I was safely by
the door and halfway up the stairs.
I stayed in my room the rest of that evening; and for the second time
since I've been here I cried myself to sleep.
* * * * *
_Another week later_,
Well, I've got them--those brown and blue serge dresses and the
calfskin boots. My, but I hope they're stiff and homely enough--all of
them! And hot, too. Aunt Jane did say to-day that she didn't know but
what she'd made a mistake not to get gingham dresses. But, then, she'd
have to get the gingham later, anyway, she said; then I'd have both.
Well, they can't be worse than the serge. That's sure. I hate the
serge. They're awfully homely. Still, I don't know but it's just as
well. Certainly it's lots easier to be Mary in a brown serge and
clumpy boots than it is in the soft, fluffy things Marie used to wear.
You couldn't be Marie in _these_ things. Honestly, I'm feeling real
Maryish these days.
I wonder if that's why the girls seem so queer at school. They _are_
queer. Three times lately I've come up to a crowd of girls and heard
them stop talking right off short. They colored up, too; and pretty
quick they began to slip away, one by one, till there wasn't anybody
left but just me, just as they used to do in Boston. But of course it
can't be for the same reason here, for they've known all along about
the divorce and haven't minded it at all.
I heard this morning that Stella Mayhew had a party last night. But
_I_ didn't get invited. Of course, you can't always ask everybody to
your parties, but this was a real big party, and I haven't found a
girl in school, yet, that wasn't invited--but me. But I guess it
wasn't anything, after all. Stella is a new girl that has come here to
live since I went away. Her folks are rich, and she's very popular,
and of course she has loads of friends she had to invite; and she
doesn't know me very well. Probably that was it. And maybe I just
imagine it about the other girls, too. Perhaps it's the brown serge
dress. Still, it can't be that, for this is the first day I've worn
it. But, as I said, I feel Maryish already.
I haven't dared to touch the piano since that night a week ago, only
once when Aunt Jane was at a missionary meeting, and I knew Father was
over to the college. But didn't I have a good time then? I just guess
Aunt Jane doesn't care for music. Besides, it's noisy, she says, and
would be likely to disturb Father. So I'm not to keep on with my music
lessons here. She's going to teach me to sew instead. She says sewing
is much more sensible and useful.
Sensible and useful! I wonder how many times I've heard those words
since I've been here. And durable, too. And nourishing. That's another
word. Honestly, Marie is getting awfully tired of Mary's sensible
sewing and dusting, and her durable clumpy shoes and stuffy dresses,
and her nourishing oatmeal and whole-wheat bread. But there, what can
you do? I'm trying to remember that it's _different_, anyway, and that
I said I liked something different.
I don't see much of Father. Still, there's something kind of queer
about it, after all. He only speaks to me about twice a day--just
"Good-morning, Mary," and "Good-night." And so far as most of his
actions are concerned you wouldn't think by them that he knew I was in
the house, Yet, over and over again at the table, and at times when I
didn't even know he was 'round, I've found him watching me, and with
such a queer, funny look in his eyes. Then, very quickly always, he
looks right away.
But last night he didn't. And that's especially what I wanted to write
about to-day. And this is the way it happened.
It was after supper, and I had gone into the library. Father had gone
out to the observatory as usual, and Aunt Jane had gone upstairs to
her room as usual, and as usual I was wandering 'round looking for
something to do. I wanted to play on the piano, but I didn't dare
to--not with all those dead-hair and wax-flower folks in the parlor
watching me, and the chance of Father's coming in as he did before.
I was standing in the window staring out at nothing--it wasn't quite
dark yet--when again I had that queer feeling that somebody was
looking at me. I turned--and there was Father. He had come in and was
sitting in the big chair by the table. But this time he didn't look
right away as usual and give me a chance to slip quietly out of the
room, as I always had before. Instead he said:
"What are you doing there, Mary?"
"N-nothing." I know I stammered. It always scares me to talk to
"Nonsense!" Father frowned and hitched in his chair. Father always
hitches in his chair when he's irritated and nervous. "You can't be
doing nothing. Nobody but a dead man does nothing--and we aren't so
sure about him. What are you doing, Mary?"
"Just l-looking out the window."
"Thank you. That's better. Come here. I want to talk to you."
I went, of course, at once, and sat down in the chair near him. He
hitched again in his seat.
"Why don't you do something--read, sew, knit?" he demanded. "Why do I
always find you moping around, doing nothing?"
Just like that he said it; and when he had just told me--
"Why, Father!" I cried; and I know that I showed how surprised I was.
"I thought you just said I couldn't do nothing--that nobody could!"
"Eh? What? Tut, tut!" He seemed very angry at first; then suddenly
he looked sharply into my face. Next, if you'll believe it, he
laughed--the queer little chuckle under his breath that I've heard him
give two or three times when there was something he thought was funny.
"Humph!" he grunted. Then he gave me another sharp look out of
his eyes, and said: "I don't think you meant that to be quite so
impertinent as it sounded, Mary, so we'll let it pass--this time. I'll
put my question this way: Don't you ever knit or read or sew?"
"I do sew every day in Aunt Jane's room, ten minutes hemming, ten
minutes seaming, and ten minutes basting patchwork squares together. I
don't know how to knit."
"How about reading? Don't you care for reading?"
"Why, of course I do. I love it!" I cried. "And I do read lots--at
I knew then, of course, that I'd made another awful break. There
wasn't any smile around Father's eyes now, and his lips came together
hard and thin over that last word.
"At--at _my_ home," I stammered. "I mean, my _other_ home."
"Humph!" grunted Father. Then, after a minute: "But why, pray, can't
you read here? I'm sure there are--books enough." He flourished his
hands toward the bookcases all around the room.
"Oh, I do--a little; but, you see, I'm so afraid I'll leave some of
them out when I'm through," I explained,
"Well, what of it? What if you do?" he demanded.
"Why, _Father_!" I tried to show by the way I said it that he knew--of
course he knew. But he made me tell him right out that Aunt Jane
wouldn't like it, and that he wouldn't like it, and that the books
always had to be kept exactly where they belonged.
"Well, why not? Why shouldn't they?" he asked then, almost crossly,
and hitching again in his chair. "Aren't books down there--in
Boston--kept where they belong, pray?"
It was the first time since I'd come that he'd ever mentioned Boston;
and I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard him. But I soon saw
it wasn't going to be the last, for right then and there he began to
question me, even worse than Aunt Jane had.
He wanted to know everything, _everything_; all about the house, with
its cushions and cozy corners and curtains 'way up, and books left
around easy to get, and magazines, and Baby Lester, and the fun we had
romping with him, and everything. Only, of course, I didn't mention
Mother. Aunt Jane had told me not to--not anywhere; and to be
specially careful before Father. But what can you do when he asks you
himself, right out plain? And that's what he did.
He'd been up on his feet, tramping up and down the room all the time
I'd been talking; and now, all of a sudden, he wheels around and stops
"How is--your mother, Mary?" he asks. And it was just as if he'd
opened the door to another room, he had such a whole lot of questions
to ask after that. And when he'd finished he knew everything: what
time we got up and went to bed, and what we did all day, and the
parties and dinners and auto rides, and the folks that came such a lot
to see Mother.
Then all of a sudden he stopped--asking questions, I mean. He stopped
just as suddenly as he'd begun. Why, I was right in the middle of
telling about a concert for charity we got up just before I came away,
and how Mother had practiced for days and days with the young man who
played the violin, when all of a sudden Father jerked his watch from
his pocket and said:
"There, there, Mary, it's getting late. You've talked enough--too
much. Now go to bed. Good-night."
Talked too much, indeed! And who'd been making me do all the talking,
I should like to know? But, of course, I couldn't _say_ anything.
That's the unfair part of it. Old folks can say anything, _anything_
they want to to _you_, but you can't say a thing back to them--not a
And so I went to bed. And the next day all that Father said to me
was, "Good-morning, Mary," and, "Good-night," just as he had ever
since I came. And that's all he's said yesterday and to-day. But he's
looked at me. He's looked at me a lot. I know, because at mealtimes
and others, when he's been in the room with me, I've looked up and
found his eyes on me. Funny, isn't it?
* * * * *
_Two weeks later_.
Well, I don't know as I have anything very special to say. Still, I
suppose I ought to write something; so I'll put down what little there
Of course, there doesn't so much happen here, anyway, as there does at
home--I mean in Boston. (I _must_ stop calling it home down to Boston
as if this wasn't home at all. It makes Aunt Jane very, very angry,
and I don't think Father likes it very well.) But, as I was saying,
there really doesn't so much happen here as there does down to Boston;
and it isn't nearly so interesting. But, there! I suppose I mustn't
expect it to be interesting. I'm Mary now, not Marie.
There aren't any teas and dinners and pretty ladies and music and
soulful-eyed prospective suitors _here_. My! Wouldn't Aunt Jane have
four fits? And Father, too. But I'd just like to put one of Mother's
teas with the little cakes and flowers and talk and tinkling laughs
down in Aunt Jane's parlor, and then watch what happened. Oh, of
course, the party couldn't stand it long--not in there with the hair
wreath and the coffin plate. But they could stand it long enough for
Father to thunder from the library, "Jane, what in Heaven's name is
the meaning of all this?" And for Aunt Jane to give one look at the
kind of clothes _real_ folks wear, and then flee with her hands to her
ears and her eyes upraised to the ceiling. Wouldn't it be fun?
But, there! What's the use of imagining perfectly crazy, impossible
things like that? We haven't had a thing here in that parlor since I
came but one missionary meeting and one Ladies' Aid Sewing Circle; and
after the last one (the Sewing Circle) Aunt Jane worked a whole day
picking threads off the carpet, and smoothing down the linen covers
because they'd got so mussed up. And I heard her tell the hired girl
that she shouldn't have that Sewing Circle here again in a hurry, and
when she did have them they'd have to sew in the dining-room with a
sheet spread down to catch the threads. My! but I would like to see
Aunt Jane with one of Mother's teas in her parlor!
I can't see as Father has changed much of any these last two weeks. He
still doesn't pay much of any attention to me, though I do find him
looking at me sometimes, just as if he was trying to make up his mind
about something. He doesn't say hardly anything to me, only once or
twice when he got to asking questions again about Boston and Mother.
The last time I told him all about Mr. Harlow, and he was so
interested! I just happened to mention his name, and he wanted to know
right away if it was Mr. Carl Harlow, and if I knew whether Mother had
ever known him before. And of course I told him right away that it
was--the same one she was engaged to before she was engaged to him.
Father looked funny and kind of grunted and said, yes, yes, he knew.
Then he said, "That will do, Mary." And he began to read his book
again. But he never turned a page, and it wasn't five minutes before
he got up and walked around the room, picking out books from the
bookcases and putting them right back, and picking up things from the
mantel and putting _them_ right back. Then he turned to me and asked
with a kind of of-course-I-don't-care air:
"Did you say you saw quite a little of--this Harlow fellow?"
But he did care. I know he did. He was _real_ interested. I could see
that he was. And so I told him everything, all about how he came there
to the teas, and sent her flowers and candy, and was getting a divorce
himself, and what he said on the sofa that day, and how Mother
answered. As I said, I told him everything, only I was careful not to
call Mr. Harlow a prospective suitor, of course. I remembered too
well what Aunt Hattie had said. Father didn't say anything when I got
through. He just got up and left the room, and pretty quick I saw him
crossing the lawn to the observatory.
I guess there aren't any prospective suitors here. I mean, I guess
Father isn't a prospective suitor--anyhow, not yet. (Of course, it's
the man that has to be the suitor.) He doesn't go anywhere, only over
to the college and out to the observatory. I've watched so to see. I
wanted specially to know, for of course if he was being a prospective
suitor to any one, she'd be my new mother, maybe. And I'm going to be
awfully particular about any new mother coming into the house.
A whole lot more, even, depends on mothers than on fathers, you know;
and if you're going to have one all ready-made thrust upon you, you
are sort of anxious to know what kind she is. Some way, I don't think
I'd like a new mother even as well as I'd like a new father; and I
don't believe I'd like _him_ very well.
Of course, there are quite a lot of ladies here that Father _could_
have. There are several pretty teachers in the schools, and some nice
unmarried ladies in the church. And there's Miss Parmelia Snow. She's
Professor Snow's sister. She wears glasses and is terribly learned.
Maybe he _would_ like her. But, mercy! I shouldn't.
Then there's Miss Grace Ann Sanborn. She's fat, and awfully jolly. She
comes here a lot lately to see Aunt Jane. I don't know why. They don't
belong to the same church, or anything. But she "runs over," as she
calls it, almost every afternoon just a little before dinner--I mean
Mrs. Darling used to come then, too, when I first came; but she comes
over evenings now more. Maybe it's because she doesn't like Miss Grace
Ann. I don't think she _does_ like her, for every time she saw her,
she'd say: "Oh, _you_? So you're here!" And then she'd turn and talk
to Aunt Jane and simply ignore Miss Grace Ann. And pretty quick she'd
get up and go. And now she comes evenings. She's fixing over her
house, and she runs and asks Aunt Jane's advice about every little
thing. She asks Father's, too, every chance she gets, when she sees
him in the hall or on the front steps. I heard her tell Aunt Jane
she considered Professor Anderson a man of most excellent taste and
I suppose Mrs. Darling _could_ be my new mother. She's a widow. Her
husband died last year. She is very well off now that her husband
is dead, I heard Aunt Jane say one day. She meant well off in
money--quite a lot of it, you know. I _thought_ she meant well off
because he was dead and she didn't have to live with him any more,
and I said so to Aunt Jane. (He was a cross man, and very stern, as
everybody knew.) But, dear suz me! Aunt Jane was awfully shocked, and
said certainly not; that she meant Mr. Darling had left his wife a
great deal of money.
Then she talked very stern and solemn to me, and said that I must not
think just because my poor dear father's married life had ended in
such a wretched tragedy that every other home had such a skeleton in
_I_ grew stern and dignified and solemn then. I knew, of course, what
she meant. I'm no child. She meant Mother. She meant that Mother, my
dear blessed mother, was the skeleton in their closet. And of course I
wasn't going to stand there and hear that, and not say a word.
But I didn't say just a word. I said a good many words. I won't try to
put them all down here; but I told her quietly, in a firm voice, and
with no temper (showing), that I guessed Father was just as much of a
skeleton in Mother's closet as she was in his; and that if she could
see how perfectly happy my mother was now she'd understand a little of
what my father's skeleton had done to her all those years she'd had to
live with it.
I said a lot more, but before I'd got half finished with what I wanted
to say, I got to crying, so I just had to run out of the room.
That night I heard Aunt Jane tell Mrs. Darling that the worst feature
of the whole deplorable situation was the effect on the child's mind,
and the wretched conception it gave her of the sacredness of the
marriage tie, or something like that. And Mrs. Darling sighed, and
said, oh, and ah, and the pity of it.
I don't like Mrs. Darling.
Of course, as I said before, Mrs. Darling could be my new mother,
being a widow, so. But, mercy! I hope she won't. I'd rather have Miss
Grace Ann than her, and I shouldn't be crazy about having Miss Grace
Well, I guess there's nothing more to write. Things at school are just
the same, only more so. The girls are getting so they act almost
as bad as those down to Boston in the school where I went before I
changed. Of course, maybe it's the divorce here, same as it was there.
But I don't see how it can be that here. Why, they've known it from
the very first!
Oh, dear suz me! How I do wish I could see Mother to-night and have
her take me in her arms and kiss me. I'm so tired of being Mary 'way
off up here where nobody cares or wants me.
Even Father doesn't want me, not really want me. I know he doesn't. I
don't see why he keeps me, only I suppose he'd be ashamed not to take
me his six months as long as the court gave me to him for that time.
* * * * *
_Another two weeks later_.
I'm so angry I can hardly write, and at the same time I'm so angry
I've just got to write. I can't talk. There isn't anybody to talk to;
and I've got to tell somebody. So I'm going to tell it here.
I've found out now what's the matter with the girls--you know I said
there _was_ something the matter with them; that they acted queer
and stopped talking when I came up, and faded away till there wasn't
anybody but me left; and about the party Stella Mayhew had and didn't
Well, it's been getting worse and worse. Other girls have had parties,
and more and more often the girls have stopped talking and have looked
queer when I came up. We got up a secret society and called it the
"Tony Ten," and I was going to be its president. Then all of a sudden
one day I found there wasn't any Tony Ten--only Carrie Heywood and me.
The other eight had formed another society and Stella Mayhew was their
I told Carrie we wouldn't care; that we'd just change it and call
it the "Tony Two"; and that two was a lot more exclusive than ten,
anyway. But I did care, and Carrie did. I knew she did. And I know it
better now because last night--she told me. You see things have been
getting simply unbearable these last few days, and it got so it looked
as if I wasn't even going to have Carrie left. _She_ began to act
queer and I accused her of it, and told her if she didn't want to
belong to the Tony Two she needn't. That I didn't care; that I'd be a
secret society all by myself. But I cried. I couldn't help crying; and
she knew I did--care. Then she began to cry; and to-day, after school,
we went to walk up on the hill to the big rock; and there--she told
me. And it _was_ the divorce.
And it's all that Stella Mayhew--the new girl. Her mother found out I
was divorced (I mean Mother was) and she told Stella not to play with
me, nor speak to me, nor have a thing to do with me. And I said to
Carrie, all right! Who cared? _I_ didn't. That I never had liked that
Mayhew girl, anyway. But Carrie said that wasn't all. She said Stella
had got to be real popular before I came; that her folks had lots of
money, and she always had candy and could treat to ice-cream and
auto rides, and everybody with her was sure of a good time. She had
parties, too--lots of them; and of course, all the girls and boys
Well, when I came everything was all right till Stella's mother found
out about the divorce, and then--well, then things were different.
First Stella contented herself with making fun of me, Carrie said. She
laughed at the serge dresses and big homely shoes, and then she began
on my name, and said the idea of being called Mary by Father and Marie
by Mother, and that 't was just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (That's
a story, Carrie says. I'm going to read it, if Father's got it. If
there ever was another Mary and Marie all in one in the world I want
to know what she did.) But Carrie says the poking fun at me didn't
make much difference with the girls, so Stella tried something else.
She not only wouldn't speak to me herself, or invite me, or anything,
but she told all the girls that they couldn't go with her and me, too.
That they might take their choice. And Carrie said some of them did
choose and stayed with me; but they lost all the good times and
ice-cream and parties and rides and everything; and so one by one they
dropped me and went back to Stella, and now there wasn't anybody left,
only her, Carrie. And then she began to cry.
And when she stopped speaking, and I knew all, and saw her crying
there before me, and thought of my dear blessed mother, I was so angry
I could scarcely speak. I just shook with righteous indignation.
And in my most superb, haughty, and disdainful manner I told Carrie
Heywood to dry her tears; that she needn't trouble herself any
further, nor worry about losing any more ice-cream nor parties. That I
would hereto declare our friendship null and void, and this day set
my hand and seal to never speak to her again, if she liked, and
considered that necessary to keeping the acquaintance of the precious
But she cried all the more at that, and flung herself upon me, and, of
course, I began to cry, too--and you can't stay superb and haughty and
disdainful when you're all the time trying to hunt up a handkerchief
to wipe away the tears that are coursing down your wan cheeks. And of
course I didn't. We had a real good cry together, and vowed we loved
each other better than ever, and nobody could come between us, not
even bringing a chocolate-fudge-marshmallow college ice--which we both
adore. But I told her that she would be all right, just the same,
for of course I should never step my foot inside of that schoolhouse
again. That I couldn't, out of respect to Mother. That I should tell
Aunt Jane that to-morrow morning. There isn't any other school here,
so they can't send me anywhere else. But it's 'most time for school to
close, anyway. There are only two weeks more.
But I don't think that will make any difference to Aunt Jane. It's the
principle of the thing. It's always the principle of the thing with
Aunt Jane. She'll be very angry, I know. Maybe she'll send me home.
Oh, I _hope_ she will!
Well, I shall tell her to-morrow, anyway. Then--we'll see.
* * * * *
_One day later_.
And, dear, dear, what a day it has been!
I told her this morning. She was very angry. She said at first:
"Nonsense, Mary, don't be impertinent. Of course you'll go to school!"
and all that kind of talk. But I kept my temper. I did not act angry.
I was simply firm and dignified. And when she saw I really meant what
I said, and that I would not step my foot inside that schoolroom
again--that it was a matter of conscience with me--that I did not
think it was _right_ for me to do it, she simply stared for a minute,
as if she couldn't believe her eyes and ears. Then she gasped:
"Mary, what do you mean by such talk to me? Do you think I shall
permit this sort of thing to go on for a moment?"
I thought then she was going to send me home. Oh, I did so hope she
was. But she didn't. She sent me to my room.
"You will stay there until your father comes home this noon," she
said. "This is a matter for him to settle."
_Father_! And I never even thought of her going to _him_ with it. She
was always telling me never to bother Father with anything, and I knew
she didn't usually ask him anything about me. She settled everything
herself. But _this_--and the very thing I didn't want her to ask him,
too. But of course I couldn't help myself. That's the trouble. Youth
is _so_ helpless in the clutches of old age!
Well, I went to my room. Aunt Jane told me to meditate on my sins. But
I didn't. I meditated on other people's sins. _I_ didn't have any to
meditate on. Was it a sin, pray, for me to stand up for my mother and
refuse to associate with people who wouldn't associate with _me_ on
account of _her_? I guess not!
I meditated on Stella Mayhew and her mother, and on those silly,
faithless girls that thought more of an ice-cream soda than they did
of justice and right to their fellow schoolmate. And I meditated on
Aunt Jane and her never giving me so much as a single kiss since I
came. And I meditated on how much better Father liked stars and
comets than he did his own daughter; and I meditated on what a cruel,
heartless world this is, anyway, and what a pity it was that I, so
fair and young, should have found it out so soon--right on the bank,
as it were, or where that brook and river meet. And I wondered, if I
died if anybody would care; and I thought how beautiful and pathetic I
would look in my coffin with my lily-white hands folded on my breast.
And I _hoped_ they 'd have the funeral in the daytime, because if it
was at night-time Father'd be sure to have a star or something to keep
_him_ from coming. And I _wanted_ him to come. I _wanted_ him to feel
bad; and I meditated on how bad he would feel--when it was too late.
But even with all this to meditate on, it was an awfully long time
coming noon; and they didn't call me down to dinner even then. Aunt
Jane sent up two pieces of bread without any butter and a glass of
water. How like Aunt Jane--making even my dinner a sin to meditate on!
Only she would call it _my_ sin, and I would call it hers.
Well, after dinner Father sent for me to come down to the library. So
I knew then, of course, that Aunt Jane had told him. I didn't know
but she would wait until night. Father usually spends his hour after
dinner reading in the library and mustn't be disturbed. But evidently
to-day Aunt Jane thought I was more consequence than his reading.
Anyhow, she told him, and he sent for me.
My, but I hated to go! Fathers and Aunt Janes are two different
propositions. Fathers have more rights and privileges, of course.
Everybody knows that.
Well, I went into the library. Father stood with his back to the
fireplace and his hands in his pockets. He was plainly angry at being
disturbed. Anybody could see that. He began speaking at once, the
minute I got into the room--very cold and dignified.
"Mary, your aunt tells me you have been disobedient and disrespectful
to her. Have you anything to say?"
I shook my head and said, "No, sir."
What could I say? Old folks ask such senseless questions, sometimes.
Naturally I wasn't going to say I _had_ been disrespectful and
disobedient when I hadn't; and of course, I couldn't say I _hadn't_
been when Aunt Jane said I _had_. That would be just like saying Aunt
Jane lied. So, of course, I had nothing to say. And I said so.
"But she declares you refused to go back to school, Mary," said Father
"Then you did refuse?"
"Well, you may go and tell her now, please, that you are sorry, and
that you will go to school this afternoon. You may go now." And he
turned to the table and picked up his book.
I didn't go, of course. I just stood there twisting my handkerchief
in my fingers; and, of course, right away he saw me. He had sat down
"Mary, didn't you hear me?" he demanded.
"Yes, sir, but--Father, I _can't_ go back to that school," I choked.
And I began to cry.
"But I tell you that you must."
I shook my head.
"Do you mean that you defy me as you did your Aunt Jane this
morning?--that you refuse to go back to school?"
For a minute he sat and stared at me just as Aunt Jane had done; then
he lifted his head and threw back his shoulders as if he was throwing
off a heavy weight.
"Come, come, Mary," he said sternly. "I am not a patient man, and my
temper has reached the breaking point. You will go back to school and
you will go now. I mean that, Mary."
"But, Father, I _can't_" I choked again; and I guess there was
something in my face this time that made even him see. For again he
just stared for a minute, and then said:
"Mary, what in the world does this mean? Why can't you go back? Have
"Oh, no, sir."
"Then you mean you won't go back."
"I mean I _can't_--on account of Mother."
I wouldn't have said it if I hadn't had to. I didn't want to tell him,
but I knew from the very first that I'd have to tell him before I
got through. I could see it in his face. And so, now, with his eyes
blazing as he jumped almost out of his chair and exclaimed, "Your
mother!" I let it out and got it over as soon as possible.
"I mean, on account of Mother--that not for you, or Aunt Jane, or
anybody will I go back to that school and associate with folks that
won't associate with me--on account of Mother."
And then I told it--all about the girls, Stella Mayhew, Carrie, and
how they acted, and what they said about my being Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde because I was a Mary and a Marie, and the ice-cream, and the
parties they had to give up if they went with _me_. And I know I was
crying so I could hardly speak before I finished; and Father was on
his feet tramping up and down the room muttering something under his
breath, and looking--oh, I can't begin to tell how he looked. But it
"And so that's why I wish," I finished chokingly, "that it would hurry
up and be a year, so Mother could get married."
"_Married!_" Like a flash he turned and stopped short, staring at me.
"Why, yes," I explained; "for if she _did_ get married, she wouldn't
be divorced any longer, would she?"
But he wouldn't answer. With a queer little noise in his throat he
turned again and began to walk up and down, up and down, until I
thought for a minute he'd forgotten I was there. But he hadn't. For
after a while he stopped again right in front of me.
"So your mother is thinking of getting married," he said in a voice so
queer it sounded as if it had come from away off somewhere.
But I shook my head and said no, of course; and that I was very sure
she wouldn't till her year was up, and even then I didn't know which
she'd take, so I couldn't tell for sure anything about it. But I hoped
she'd take one of them, so she wouldn't be divorced any longer.
"But you don't know _which_ she'll take," grunted Father again. He
turned then, and began to walk up and down again, with his hands in
his pockets; and I didn't know whether to go away or to stay, and I
suppose I'd have been there now if Aunt Jane hadn't suddenly appeared
in the library doorway.
"Charles, if Mary is going to school at all to-day it is high time she
was starting," she said. But Father didn't seem to hear. He was still
tramping up and down the room, his hands in his pockets.
"Charles!" Aunt Jane raised her voice and spoke again. "I said if Mary
is going to school at all to-day it is high time she was starting."
"Eh? What?" If you'll believe it, that man looked as dazed as if he'd
never even _heard_ of my going to school. Then suddenly his face
changed. "Oh, yes, to be sure. Well, er--Mary is not going to school
to-day," he said. Then he looked at his watch, and without another
word strode into the hall, got his hat, and left the house, leaving
Aunt Jane and me staring into each other's faces.
But I didn't stay much longer than Father did. I strode into the hall,
too, by Aunt Jane. But I didn't leave the house. I came up here to my
own room; and ever since I've been writing it all down in my book.
Of course, I don't know now what's going to happen next. But I _wish_
you could have seen Aunt Jane's face when Father said I wasn't going
to school to-day! I don't believe she's sure yet that she heard
aright--though she didn't try to stop me, or even speak when I left
and came upstairs. But I just know she's keeping up a powerful
For that matter, so am I. What _is_ going to happen next? Have I got
to go to school to-morrow? But then, of course, I shan't do that.
Besides, I don't believe Father'll ask me to, after what I said about
Mother. _He_ didn't like that--what those girls said--any better than
I did. I'm sure of that. Why, he looked simply furious. But there
isn't any other school here that I can be sent to, and--
But what's the use? I might surmise and speculate all day and not
come anywhere near the truth. I must await--what the night will bring
forth, as they say in really truly novels.
* * * * *
_Four days later_.
And what did the night bring forth? Yes, what did it bring! Verily
it brought forth one thing I thought nothing ever could have brought
It was like this.
That night at the supper-table Aunt Jane cleared her throat in the
I-am-determined-I-will-speak kind of a way that she always uses when
she speaks to Father. (Aunt. Jane doesn't talk to Father much more
than Mother used to.)
"Charles," she began.
Father had an astronomy paper beside his plate, and he was so busy
reading he didn't hear, so Aunt Jane had to speak again--a little
louder this time.
"Charles, I have something to say to you."
"Eh? What? Oh--er--yes. Well, Jane, what is it?" Father was looking up
with his I'll-be-patient-if-it-kills-me air, and with his forefinger
down on his paper to keep his place.
As if anybody could talk to a person who's simply tolerating you for a
minute like that, with his forefinger holding on to what he _wants_ to
tend to! Why, I actually found myself being sorry for Aunt Jane.
She cleared her throat again.
"It is understood, of course, that Mary is to go to school to-morrow
morning, I suppose," she said.
"Why, of course, of course," began Father impatiently, looking down at
his paper. "Of course she'll go to--" he stopped suddenly. A complete
change came to his face. He grew red, then white. His eyes sort of
flashed. "School?" he said then, in a hard, decided voice. "Oh, no;
Mary is not going to school to-morrow morning." He looked down to his
paper and began to read again. For him the subject was very evidently
closed. But for Aunt Jane it was _not_ closed.
"You don't mean, Charles, that she is not to go to school at all, any
more," she gasped.
"Exactly." Father read on in his paper without looking up.
"But, Charles, to stop her school like this!"
"Why not? It closes in a week or two, anyway."
Aunt Jane's lips came together hard.
"That's not the question at all," she said, cold like ice. "Charles,
I'm amazed at you--yielding to that child's whims like this--that she
doesn't want to go to school! It's the principle of the thing that I'm
objecting to. Do you realize what it will lead to--what it--"
"Jane!" With a jerk Father sat up straight. "I realize some things
that perhaps you do not. But that is neither here nor there. I do not
wish Mary to go to school any more this spring. That is all; and I
think--it is sufficient."
"Certainly." Aunt Jane's lips came together again grim and hard.
"Perhaps you will be good enough to say what she _shall_ do with her
"Time? Do? Why--er--what she always does; read, sew, study--"
"Study?" Aunt Jane asked the question with a hateful little smile that
Father would have been blind not to have understood. And he was equal
to it--but I 'most fell over backward when I found _how_ equal to it
"Certainly," he says, "study. I--I'll hear her lessons myself--in the
library, after I come home in the afternoon. Now let us hear no more
With that he pushed back his plate, stuffed his astronomy paper into
his pocket, and left the table, without waiting for dessert. And Aunt
Jane and I were left alone.
I didn't say anything. Victors shouldn't boast--and I was a victor, of
course, about the school. But when I thought of what Father had said
about my reciting my lessons to him every day in the library--I wasn't
so sure whether I'd won out or not. Recite lessons to my father? Why,
I couldn't even imagine such a thing!
Aunt Jane didn't say anything either. I guess she didn't know what to
say. And it was kind of a queer situation, when you came right down to
it. Both of us sitting there and knowing I wasn't going back to school
any more, and I knowing why, and knowing Aunt Jane didn't know why.
(Of course I hadn't told Aunt Jane about Mother and Mrs. Mayhew.) It
would be a funny world, wouldn't it, if we all knew what each other
was thinking all the time? Why, we'd get so we wouldn't do anything
_but_ think--for there wouldn't any of us _speak_ to each other, I'm
afraid, we'd be so angry at what the other was thinking.
Well, Aunt Jane and I didn't speak that night at the supper-table. We
finished in stern silence; then Aunt Jane went upstairs to her room
and I went up to mine. (You see what a perfectly wildly exciting life
Mary is living! And when I think of how _full_ of good times Mother
wanted every minute to be. But that was for Marie, of course.)
The next morning after breakfast Aunt Jane said:
"You will spend your forenoon studying, Mary. See that you learn well
your lessons, so as not to annoy your father."
"Yes, Aunt Jane," said Mary, polite and proper, and went upstairs
obediently; but even Mary didn't know exactly how to study those
Carrie had brought me all my books from school. I had asked her to
when I knew that I was not going back. There were the lessons that had
been assigned for the next day, of course, and I supposed probably
Father would want me to study those. But I couldn't imagine Father
teaching _me_ all alone. And how was I ever going to ask him
questions, if there were things I didn't understand? Besides, I
couldn't imagine myself reciting lessons to Father--_Father_!
But I needn't have worried. If I could only have known. Little did I
think--But, there, this is no way to tell a story. I read in a book,
"How to Write a Novel," that you mustn't "anticipate." (_I_ thought
folks always anticipated novels. I do. I thought you wanted them to.)
Well, to go on.
Father got home at four o'clock. I saw him come up the walk, and I
waited till I was sure he'd got settled in the library, then I went
_He wasn't there_.
A minute later I saw him crossing the lawn to the observatory. Well,
what to do I didn't know. Mary said to go after him; but Marie said
nay, nay. And in spite of being Mary just now, I let Marie have her
Rush after him and tell him he'd forgotten to hear my lessons?
_Father_? Well, I guess not! Besides, it wasn't my fault. _I_ was
there all ready. It wasn't my blame that he wasn't there to hear me.
But he might remember and come back. Well, if he did, _I'd_ be there.
So I went to one of those bookcases and pulled out a touch-me-not
book from behind the glass door. Then I sat down and read till the
Father was five minutes late to supper. I don't know whether he looked
at me or not. I didn't dare to look at him--until Aunt Jane said, in
her chilliest manner:
"I trust your daughter had good lessons, Charles."
I _had_ to look at him then. I just couldn't look anywhere else. So I
was looking straight at him when he gave that funny little startled
glance into my eyes. And into his eyes then there crept the funniest,
dearest little understanding twinkle--and I suddenly realized that
Father, _Father_, was laughing with me at a little secret between
_us_. But 't was only for a second. The next moment his eyes were very
grave and looking at Aunt Jane.
"I have no cause to complain--of my daughter's lessons to-day," he
said very quietly. Then he glanced over at me again. But I had to look
away _quick_, or I would have laughed right out.
When he got up from the table he said to me: "I shall expect to see
you to-morrow in the library at four, Mary."
And Mary answered, "Yes, Father," polite and proper, as she should;
but Marie inside was just chuckling with the joke of it all.
The next day I watched again at four for Father to come up the walk;
and when he had come in I went down to the library. He was there in
his pet seat before the fireplace. (Father always sits before the
fireplace, whether there's a fire there or not. And sometimes he looks
_so_ funny sitting there, staring into those gray ashes just as if it
was the liveliest kind of a fire he was watching.)
As I said, he was there, but I had to speak twice before he looked up.
Then, for a minute, he stared vaguely.
"Eh? Oh! Ah--er--yes, to be sure," he muttered then, "You have come
with your books. Yes, I remember."
But there wasn't any twinkle in his eyes, nor the least little bit of
an understanding smile; and I _was_ disappointed. I _had_ been looking
for it. I knew then, when I felt so suddenly lost and heart-achey,
that I had been expecting and planning all day on that twinkly
understanding smile. You know you feel worse when you've just found a
father and then lost him!
And I had lost him. I knew it the minute he sighed and frowned and
got up from his seat and said, oh, yes, to be sure. He was just Dr.
Anderson then--the man who knew all about the stars, and who had
been unmarried to Mother, and who called me "Mary" in an
of-course-you're-my-daughter tone of voice.
Well, he took my books and heard my lessons, and told me what I was to
study next day. He's done that two days now.
Oh, I'm so tired of being Mary! And I've got more than four whole
months of it left. I didn't get Mother's letter to-day. Maybe that's
why I'm specially lonesome to-night.
* * * * *
School is done, both the regular school and my school. Not that my
school has amounted to much. Really it hasn't. Oh, for three or four
days he asked questions quite like just a teacher. Then he got to
talking. Sometimes it would be about something in the lessons;
sometimes it would be about a star, or the moon. And he'd get so
interested that I'd think for a minute that maybe the understanding
twinkle would come into his eyes again. But it never did.
Sometimes it wasn't stars and moons, though, that he talked about. It
was Boston, and Mother. Yes, he did. He talked a lot about Mother. As
I look back at it now, I can see that he did. He asked me all over
again what she did, and about the parties and the folks that came to
see her. He asked again about Mr. Harlow, and about the concert, and
the young man who played the violin, and what was his name, and how
old was he, and did I like him. And then, right in the middle of some
question, or rather, right in the middle of some _answer_ I was giving
_him_, he would suddenly remember he was hearing my lessons, and he
would say, "Come, come, Mary, what has this to do with your lessons?"
Just as if I was to blame! (But, then, we women always get the blame,
I notice.) And then he'd attend strictly to the books for maybe five
whole minutes--before he asked another question about that party, or
Naturally the lessons haven't amounted to much, as you can imagine.
But the term was nearly finished, anyway; and my _real_ school is in
Boston, of course.
It's vacation now. I do hope _that_ will amount to something!
* * * * *
It hasn't, so far--I mean vacation. Really, what a world of
disappointment this is! How on earth I'm going to stand being Mary for
three months more I don't know. But I've got to, I suppose. I've been
here May, June, and July; and that leaves August, September, and
October yet to come. And when I think of Mother and Boston and Marie,
and the darling good times down there where you're really _wanted_, I
am simply crazy.
If Father wanted me, really wanted me, I wouldn't care a bit. I'd be
willing to be Mary six whole months. Yes, I'd be _glad_ to. But he
doesn't. I'm just here by order of the court. And what can you do when
you're nothing but a daughter by order of the court?
Since the lessons have stopped, Father's gone back to his
"Good-morning, Mary," and "Good-night," and nothing else, day in and
day out. Lately he's got so he hangs around the house an awful lot,
too, so I can't even do the things I did the first of the month. I
mean that I'd been playing some on the piano, along at the first,
after school closed. Aunt Jane was out in the garden a lot, and Father
out to the observatory, so I just reveled in piano-playing till I
found almost every time I did it that he had come back, and was in the
library with the door open. So I don't dare to play now.
And there isn't a blessed thing to do. Oh, I have to sew an hour, and
now I have to weed an hour, too; and Aunt Jane tried to have me learn
to cook; but Susie (in the kitchen) flatly refused to have me "messing
around," so Aunt Jane had to give that up. Susie's the one person Aunt
Jane's afraid of, you see. She always threatens to leave if anything
goes across her wishes. So Aunt Jane has to be careful. I heard her
tell Mrs. Small next door that good hired girls were awfully scarce in
As I said before, if only there was somebody here that wanted me. But
there isn't. Of course Father doesn't. That goes without saying. And
Aunt Jane doesn't. That goes, too, without saying. Carrie Heywood has
gone away for all summer, so I can't have even her; and of course, I
wouldn't associate with any of the other girls, even if they would
associate with me--which they won't.
That leaves only Mother's letters. They are dear, and I love them. I
don't know what I'd do without them. And yet, sometimes I think maybe
they're worse than if I didn't have them. They make me so homesick,
and I always cry so after I get them. Still, I know I just couldn't
live a minute if 'twasn't for Mother's letters.
Besides being so lonesome there's another thing that worries me, too;
and that is, _this_--what I'm writing, I mean. The novel. It's getting
awfully stupid. Nothing happens. _Nothing!_ Of course, if 'twas just
a story I could make up things--lots of them--exciting, interesting
things, like having Mother elope with the violinist, and Father shoot
him and fall in love with Mother all over again, or else with somebody
else, and shoot that one's lover. Or maybe somebody'd try to shoot
Father, and I'd get there just in time to save him. Oh, I'd _love_
But this is a real story, so, of course, I can't put in anything only
just what happens; and _nothing happens_.
And that's another thing. About the love story--I'm afraid there isn't
going to be one. Anyway, there isn't a bit of a sign of one, yet,
unless it's Mother. And of course, I haven't seen her for three
months, so I can't say anything about that.
Father hasn't got one. I'm sure of that. He doesn't like ladies. I
know he doesn't. He always runs away from them. But they don't run
away from him! Listen.
As I said before, quite a lot of them call here to see Aunt Jane, and
they come lots of times evenings and late afternoons, and I know now
why they do it. They come then because they think Father'll be at home
at that time; and they want to see him.
I know it now, but I never thought of it till the other day when
I heard our hired girl, Susie, talking about it with Bridget, the
Smalls' hired girl, over the fence when I was weeding the garden one
day. Then I knew. It was like this:
Mrs. Darling had been over the night before as usual, and had stayed
an awfully long time talking to Aunt Jane on the front piazza. Father
had been there, too, awhile. She stopped him on his way into the
house. I was there and I heard her. She said:
"Oh, Mr. Anderson, I'm so glad I saw you! I wanted to ask your advice
about selling poor dear Mr. Darling's law library."
And then she went on to tell him how she'd had an offer, but she
wasn't sure whether it was a good one or not. And she told him how
highly she prized his opinion, and he was a man of such splendid
judgment, and she felt so alone now with no strong man's shoulder to
lean upon, and she would be so much obliged if he only would tell her
whether he considered that offer a good one or not.
Father hitched and ahemmed and moved nearer the door all the time she
was talking, and he didn't seem to hear her when she pushed a chair
toward him and asked him to please sit down and tell her what to do;
that she was so alone in the world since poor dear Mr. Darling had
gone. (She always calls him poor dear Mr. Darling now, but Susie
says she didn't when he was alive; she called him something quite
different. I wonder what it was.)
Well, as I said, Father hitched and fidgeted, and said he didn't know,
he was sure; that she'd better take wiser counsel than his, and that
he was very sorry, but she really must excuse him. And he got through
the door while he was talking just as fast as he could himself, so
that she couldn't get in a single word to keep him. Then he was gone.
Mrs. Darling stayed on the piazza two whole hours longer, but Father
never came out at all again.
It was the next morning that Susie said this over the back-yard fence
"It does beat all how popular this house is with the ladies--after
And Bridget chuckled and answered back:
"Sure it is! An' I do be thinkin' the Widder Darlin' is a heap fonder
of Miss Jane now than she would have been had poor dear Mr. Darlin'
And she chuckled again, and so did Susie. And then, all of a sudden,
I knew. It was Father all those ladies wanted. It was Father Mrs.
Darling wanted. They came here to see him. They wanted to marry him.
_They_ were the prospective suitors. As if I didn't know what Susie
and Bridget meant! I'm no child!
But all this doesn't make Father like _them_. I'm not sure but it
makes him dislike them. Anyhow, he won't have anything to do with
them. He always runs away over to the observatory, or somewhere, and
won't see them; and I've heard him say things about them to Aunt Jane,
too--words that sound all right, but that don't mean what they say,
and everybody knows they don't. So, as I said before, I don't see any
chance of Father's having a love story to help out this book--not
right away, anyhow.
As for _my_ love story--I don't see any chance of that's beginning,
either. Yet, seems as if there ought to be the beginning of it by this
time--I'm going on fifteen. Oh, there have been _beginnings_, lots of
them--only Aunt Jane wouldn't let them go on and be endings, though I
told her good and plain that I thought it perfectly all right; and I
reminded her about the brook and river meeting where I stood, and all
But I couldn't make her see it at all. She said, "Stuff and
nonsense"--and when Aunt Jane says _both_ stuff and nonsense I know
there's nothing _doing_. (Oh, dear, that's slang! Aunt Jane says she
does wish I would eliminate the slang from my vocabulary. Well, I
wish _she'd_ eliminate some of the long words from _hers_. Marie said
Well, Aunt Jane said stuff and nonsense, and that I was much too young
to run around with silly boys. You see, Charlie Smith had walked home
from school with me twice, but I had to stop that. And Fred Small
was getting so he was over here a lot. Aunt Jane stopped _him_. Paul
Mayhew--yes, _Paul Mayhew_, Stella's brother!--came home with me, too,
and asked me to go with him auto-riding. My, how I did want to go! I
wanted the ride, of course, but especially I wanted to go because he
was Mrs. Mayhew's son. I just wanted to show Mrs. Mayhew! But Aunt
Jane wouldn't let me. That's the time she talked specially about
running around with silly boys. But she needn't have. Paul is no silly
boy. He's old enough to get a license to drive his own car.
But it wasn't just because he was young that Aunt Jane refused. I
found out afterward. It was because he was any kind of a man paying
me attention. I found that out through Mr. Claude Livingstone. Mr.
Livingstone brings our groceries. He's a _real_ young gentleman--tall,
black mustache, and lovely dark eyes. He goes to our church, and
he asked me to go to the Sunday-School picnic with him. I was _so_
pleased. And I supposed, of course, Aunt Jane would let me go with
_him. He's_ no silly boy! Besides, I knew him real well, and liked
him. I used to talk to him quite a lot when he brought the groceries.
But did Aunt Jane let me go? She did not. Why, she seemed almost more
shocked than she had been over Charlie Smith and Fred Small, and the
"Mercy, child!" she exclaimed. "Where in the world do you pick
up these people?" And she brought out that "these people" _so_
disagreeably! Why, you'd think Mr. Livingstone was a foreign Japanese,
I told her then quietly, and with dignity, and with no temper
(showing), that Mr. Livingstone was not a foreign Japanese, but was a
very nice gentleman; and that I had not picked him up. He came to her
own door himself, almost every day.
"My own door!" exclaimed Aunt Jane. And she looked absolutely
frightened. "You mean to tell me that that creature has been coming
here to see you, and I not know it?"
I told her then--again quietly and with dignity, and without temper
(showing)--that he had been coming, not to see me, but in the natural
pursuance of his profession of delivering groceries. And I said
that he was not a creature. On the contrary, he was, I was sure, an
estimable young man. He went to her own church and Sunday-School.
Besides, I could vouch for him myself, as I knew him well, having seen
and talked with him almost every day for a long while, when he came to
But nothing I could say seemed to have the least effect upon her at
all, only to make her angrier and angrier, if anything. In fact _I_
think she showed a great deal of temper for a Christian woman about a
fellow Christian in her own church.
But she wouldn't let me go to the picnic; and not only that, but I
think she changed grocers, for Mr. Livingstone hasn't been here for a
long time, and when I asked Susie where he was she looked funny, and
said we weren't getting our groceries where Mr. Livingstone worked any
Well, of course, that ended that. And there hasn't been any other
since. That's why I say _my_ love story doesn't seem to be getting
along very well. Naturally, when it gets noised around town that your
Aunt Jane won't let you go anywhere with a young man, or let a young
man come to see you, or even walk home with you after the first
time--why, the young men aren't going to do very much toward making
your daily life into a love story.
* * * * *
_Two weeks later._
A queer thing happened last night. It was like this:
I think I said before what an awfully stupid time Mary is having of
it, and how I couldn't play now, or make any noise, 'cause Father has
taken to hanging around the house so much. Well, listen what happened.
Yesterday Aunt Jane went to spend the day with her best friend. She
said for me not to leave the house, as some member of the family
should be there. She told me to sew an hour, weed an hour, dust the
house downstairs and upstairs, and read some improving book an hour.
The rest of the time I might amuse myself.
Amuse myself! A jolly time I could have all by myself! Even Father
wasn't to be home for dinner, so I wouldn't have _that_ excitement. He
was out of town, and was not to come home till six o'clock.
It was an awfully hot day. The sun just beat down, and there wasn't
a breath of air. By noon I was simply crazy with my stuffy,
long-sleeved, high-necked blue gingham dress and my great clumpy
shoes. It seemed all of a sudden as if I couldn't stand it--not
another minute--not a single minute more--to be Mary, I mean. And
suddenly I determined that for a while, just a little while, I'd be
Marie again. Why couldn't I? There wasn't anybody going to be there
but just myself, _all day long_.
I ran then upstairs to the guest-room closet where Aunt Jane had made
me put all my Marie dresses and things when the Mary ones came. Well,
I got out the very fluffiest, softest white dress there was there, and
the little white slippers and the silk stockings that I loved, and the
blue silk sash, and the little gold locket and chain that Mother gave
me that Aunt Jane wouldn't let me wear. And I dressed up. My, didn't
I dress up? And I just _threw_ those old heavy shoes and black cotton
stockings into the corner, and the blue gingham dress after them
(though Mary went right away and picked the dress up, and hung it in
the closet, of course); but I had the fun of throwing it, anyway.
Oh, how good those Marie things did feel to Mary's hot, tired flesh
and bones, and how I did dance and sing around the room in those light
little slippers! Then Susie rang the dinner-bell and I went down to
the dining-room feeling like a really truly young lady, I can tell
Susie stared, of course and said, "My, how fine we are to-day!" But I
didn't mind Susie.
After dinner I went out into the hall and I sang; I sang all over the
house. And I ran upstairs and I ran down; and I jumped all the last
three steps, even if it was so warm. Then I went into the parlor and
played every lively thing that I could think of on the piano. And I
sang there, too--silly little songs that Marie used to sing to Lester.
And I tried to think I was really down there to Boston, singing to
Lester; and that Mother was right in the next room waiting for me.
Then I stopped and turned around on the piano-stool. And there was the
coffin plate, and the wax cross, and the hair wreath; and the room was
just as still as death. And I knew I wasn't in Boston. I was there in
Andersonville, And there wasn't any Baby Lester there, nor any mother
waiting for me in the next room. And all the fluffy white dresses and
silk stockings in the world wouldn't make me Marie. I was really just
Mary, and I had got to have three whole months more of it.
And then is when I began to cry. And I cried just as hard as I'd been
singing a minute before. I was on the floor with my head in my arms on
the piano-stool when Father's voice came to me from the doorway.
"Mary, Mary, what in the world does this mean?"
I jumped up and stood "at attention," the way you have to, of course,
when fathers speak to you. I couldn't help showing I had been
crying--he had seen it. But I tried very hard to stop now. My first
thought, after my startled realization that he was there, was to
wonder how long he had been there--how much of all that awful singing
and banging he had heard.
"Yes, sir." I tried not to have my voice shake as I said it; but I
couldn't quite help that.
"What is the meaning of this, Mary? Why are you crying?"
I shook my head. I didn't want to tell him, of course; so I just
stammered out something about being sorry I had disturbed him. Then
I edged toward the door to show him that if he would step one side I
would go away at once and not bother him any longer.
But he didn't step one side. He asked more questions, one right after
"Are you sick, Mary?"
I shook my head.
"Did you hurt yourself?"
I shook my head again.
"It isn't--your mother--you haven't had bad news from her?"
And then I blurted it out without thinking--without thinking at all
what I was saying: "No, no--but I wish I had, I wish I had; 'cause
then I could go to her, and go away from here!" The minute I'd said
it I _knew_ what I'd said, and how awful it sounded; and I clapped my
fingers to my lips. But 'twas too late. It's always too late, when
you've once said it. So I just waited for him to thunder out his
anger; for, of course, I thought he _would_ thunder in rage and
But he didn't. Instead, very quietly and gently he said:
"Are you so unhappy, then, Mary--here?"
And I looked at him, and his eyes and his mouth and his whole face
weren't angry at all. They were just sorry, actually sorry. And
somehow, before I knew it, I was crying again, and Father, with his
arm around me--_with his arm around me!_ think of that!--was leading
me to the sofa.
And I cried and cried there, with my head on the arm of the sofa, till
I'd made a big tear spot on the linen cover; and I wondered if it
would dry up before Aunt Jane saw it, or if it would change color
or leak through to the red plush underneath, or some other dreadful
thing. And then, some way, I found myself telling it all over to
Father--about Mary and Marie, I mean, just as if he was Mother, or
some one I loved--I mean, some one I loved and _wasn't afraid of_; for
of course I love Father. Of course I do!
Well, I told him everything (when I got started there was no
stopping)--all about how hard it was to be Mary, and how to-day I had
tried to be Marie for just a little while, to rest me. He interrupted
here, and wanted to know if that was why I looked so different
to-day--more as I had when I first came; and I said yes, that these
were Marie things that Mary couldn't wear. And when he asked, "Why,
pray?" in a voice almost cross, I told him, of course, that Aunt Jane
wouldn't let me; that Mary had to wear brown serge and calfskin boots
that were durable, and that would wear well.
And when I told him how sorry I was about the music and such a noise
as I'd been making, he asked if _that_ was Marie's fault, too; and I
said yes, of course--that Aunt Jane didn't like to have Mary play at
all, except hymns and funeral marches, and Mary didn't know any. And
he grunted a queer little grunt, and said, "Well, well, upon my soul,
upon my soul!" Then he said, "Go on." And I did go on.
I told him how I was afraid it _was_ going to be just like Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde. (I forgot to say I've read it now. I found it in
Father's library.) Of course not _just_ like it, only one of me was
going to be bad, and one good, I was afraid, if I didn't look out. I
told him how Marie always wanted to kick up rugs, and move the chairs
out of their sockets in the carpet, and leave books around handy, and
such things. And so to-day it seemed as if I'd just got to have a
vacation from Mary's hot gingham dresses and clumpy shoes. And I told
him how lonesome I was without anybody, not _anybody_; and I told
about Charlie Smith and Paul Mayhew and Mr. Claude Livingstone,
and how Aunt Jane wouldn't let me have them, either, even if I was
standing where the brook and river meet.
Father gave another funny little grunt here, and got up suddenly and
walked over to the window. I thought at first he was angry; but he
wasn't. He was even more gentle when he came back and sat down again,
and he seemed interested, very much interested in everything I told
him. But I stopped just in time from saying again how I wished I could
go back to Boston; but I'm not sure but he knew I was going to say it.
But he was very nice and kind and told me not to worry about the
music--that he didn't mind it at all. He'd been in several times and
heard it. And I thought almost, by the way he spoke, that he'd come in
on purpose to hear it; but I guess that was a mistake. He just put it
that way so I wouldn't worry over it--about its bothering him, I mean.
He was going to say more, maybe; but I don't know, I had to run. I
heard Aunt Jane's voice on the piazza saying good-bye to the lady that
had brought her home; so, of course, I had to run and hang Marie in
the closet and get out Mary from the corner before she saw me. And I
By dinner-time I had on the gingham dress and the hot clumpy shoes
again; and I had washed my face in cold water so I had got most of the
tear spots off. I didn't want Aunt Jane to see them and ask questions,
of course. And I guess she didn't. Anyway, she didn't say anything.
Father didn't say anything either, but he acted queer. Aunt Jane tried
to tell him something about the missionary meeting and the heathen,
and a great famine that was raging. At first he didn't say anything;
then he said, oh, yes, to be sure, how very interesting, and he was
glad, very glad. And Aunt Jane was so disgusted, and accused him
of being even more absent-minded than usual, which was entirely
unnecessary, she said.
But even that didn't move Father a mite. He just said, yes, yes, very
likely; and went on scowling to himself and stirring his coffee after
he'd drank it all up--I mean, stirring where it had been in the cup.
I didn't know but after supper he'd speak to me and ask me to come to
the library. I _hoped_ he would. There were lots more things I'd like
to have said to him. But he didn't. He never said a word. He just kept
scowling, and got up from the table and went off by himself. But he
didn't go out to the observatory, as he most generally does. He went
into the library and shut the door.
He was there when the telephone message came at eight o'clock. And
what do you think? He'd _forgotten_ he was going to speak before the
College Astronomy Club that evening! Forgotten his old stars for once.
I don't know why. I did think, for a minute, 'twas 'cause of me--what
I'd told him. But I knew, of course, right away that it couldn't be
that. He'd never forget his stars for _me_! Probably he was just
reading up about some other stars, or had forgotten how late it was,
or something. (Father's always forgetting things.) But, anyway, when
Aunt Jane called him he got his hat and hurried off without so much
as one word to me, who was standing near, or to Aunt Jane, who was
following him all through the hall, and telling him in her most
I'm-amazed-at-you voice how shockingly absent-minded he was getting to
* * * * *
_One week later._
Father's been awfully queer this whole week through. I can't make him
out at all. Sometimes I think he's glad I told him all those things in
the parlor that day I dressed up in Marie's things, and sometimes I
think he's sorry and wished I hadn't.
The very next morning he came down to breakfast with such a funny look
on his face. He said good-morning to me three times, and all through
breakfast he kept looking over at me with a kind of scowl that was not
cross at all--just puzzled.
After breakfast he didn't go out to the observatory, not even into the
library. He fidgeted around the dining-room till Aunt Jane went out
into the kitchen to give her orders to Susie; then he burst out, all
of a sudden:
"Well, Mary, what shall we do to-day?" Just like that he said it, as
if we'd been doing things together every day of our lives.
"D-do?" I asked; and I know I showed how surprised I was by the way I
stammered and flushed up.
"Certainly, do," he answered, impatient and scowling. "What shall we
"Why, Father, I--I don't know," I stammered again.
"Come, come, of course you know!" he cried. "You know what you want to
do, don't you?"
I shook my head. I was so astonished I couldn't even think. And when
you can't think you certainly can't talk.
"Nonsense, Mary," scowled Father again. "Of course you know what
you want to do! What are you in the habit of doing with your young
friends--your Carries and Charlies, and all the rest?"
I guess I just stood and stared and didn't say anything; for after a
minute he cried: "Well--well--well? I'm waiting."
"Why, we--we walk--and talk--and play games," I began; but right away
"Good! Very well, then, we'll walk. I'm not Carrie or Charlie, but I
believe I can walk and talk--perhaps even play games. Who knows? Come,
get your hat."
And I got my hat, and we went.
But what a funny, funny walk that was! He meant to make it a good one;
I know he did. And he tried. He tried real hard. But he walked so
fast I couldn't half keep up with him; then, when he saw how I was
hurrying, he'd slow down, 'way down, and look so worried--till he'd
forget and go striding off again, way ahead of me.
We went up on the hill through the Benton woods, and it was perfectly
lovely up there. He didn't say much at first. Then, all of a sudden,
he began to talk, about anything and everything. And I knew, by the
way he did it, that he'd just happened to think he'd got to talk.
And how he talked! He asked me was I warmly clad (and here it is
August!), and did I have a good breakfast, and how old was I, and did
I enjoy my studies--which shows how little he was really thinking what
he was saying. He knows school closed ages ago. Wasn't he teaching me
himself the last of it, too? All around us were flowers and birds, and
oh, so many, many lovely things. But he never said a word about them.
He just talked--because he'd got to talk. I knew it, and it made me
laugh inside, though all the while it made me sort of want to cry,
too. Funny, wasn't it?
After a time he didn't talk any more, but just walked on and on; and
by and by we came home.
Of course, it wasn't awfully jolly--that walk wasn't; and I guess
Father didn't think it was either. Anyhow, he hasn't asked me to
go again this week, and he looked tired and worried and sort of
discouraged when he got back from that one.
But he's asked me to do other things. The next day after the walk he
asked me to play to him. Yes, he _asked_ me to; and he went into the
parlor and sat down on one of the chairs and listened while I played
three pieces. Of course, I didn't play loud ones, nor very fast ones,
and I was so scared I'm afraid I didn't play them very well. But he
was very polite and said, "Thank you, Mary," and, "That that was very
nice"; then he stood up and said, "Thank you" again and went away into
the library, very polite, but stiff, like company.
The next evening he took me out to the observatory to see the stars.
That was lovely. Honestly I had a perfectly beautiful time, and I
think Father did, too. He wasn't stiff and polite one bit. Oh, I don't
mean that he was _impolite_ or rude. It's just that he wasn't stiff
as if I was company. And he was so happy with his stars and his
telescope, and so glad to show them to me--oh, I had a beautiful time,
and I told him so; and he looked real pleased. But Aunt Jane came for
me before I'd had half enough, and I had to go to bed.
The next morning I thought he'd be different, somehow, because we'd
had such a lovely time together the night before. But he wasn't. He
just said, "Good-morning, Mary," and began to read his paper. And he
read his paper all through breakfast without saying another word to
me. Then he got up and went into the library, and I never saw him
again all day except at dinner-time and supper-time, and _then_ he
didn't talk to me.
But after supper he took me out again to see the stars, and he was
just as nice and friendly as could be. Not a bit like a man that's
only a father by order of the court. But the next day--!
Well--and that's the way it's been all the week. And that's why I say
he's been so queer. One minute he'll be just as nice and folksy as you
could ask anybody to be, and the very next he's looking right through
you as if he didn't see you at all, and you wonder and wonder what's
the matter, and if you've done anything to displease him.
Sometimes he seems almost glad and happy, and then he'll look so sorry
I just can't understand my father at all.
* * * * *
_Another week later_.
I'm so excited I don't know what to do. The most wonderful thing has
happened. I can't hardly believe it yet myself. Yet it's so. My trunk
is all packed, and I'm to go home to-morrow. _To-morrow!_
This is the way it happened.
Mother wrote Aunt Jane and asked if I might not be allowed to come
home for the opening of school in September. She said she understood
quite well that she had no _right_ to ask this, and, of course, if
they saw fit, they were entirely within their rights to refuse to
allow me to go until the allotted time. But that she could not help
asking it for my sake, on account of the benefit to be derived from
being there at the opening of the school year.
Of course, I didn't know Mother was going to write this. But she knew
all about the school here, and how I came out, and everything. I've
always told Mother everything that has happened. Oh, of course, I
haven't written "every few minutes," as she asked me to. (That was a
joke, anyway, of course.) But I have written every few days, and, as I
said before, I told her everything.
Well, when the letter came I took it to Aunt Jane myself; and I was
_crazy_ to know what was in it, for I recognized the writing, of
course. But Aunt Jane didn't tell me. She opened it, read it, kind of
flushed up, and said, "Humph! The idea!" under her breath, and put the
letter in her pocket.
Marie wanted to make a scene and insist on knowing what was in her own
mother's letter; but Mary contented herself with looking superb and
haughty and disdainful, and marching out of the room without giving
Aunt Jane the satisfaction of even being asked what was in that
But at the table that noon Aunt Jane read it to Father out loud. So
that's how I came to know just what was in it. She started first to
hand it over to him to read; but as he put out his hand to take it I
guess he saw the handwriting, for he drew back quickly, looking red
"From Mrs. Anderson to you?" he asked. And when Aunt Jane nodded her
head he sat still farther back in his chair and said, with a little
wave of his hand, "I never care to read--other people's letters."
Aunt Jane said, "Stuff and nonsense, Charles, don't be silly!" But she
pulled back the letter and read it--after giving a kind of an uneasy
glance in my direction.
Father never looked up once while she was reading it. He kept his eyes
on his plate and the baked beans he was eating. I watched him. You
see, I knew, by Aunt Jane's reading the letter to him, that it was
something he had got to decide; and when I found out what it was, of
course, I was just crazy. I wanted to go so. So I watched Father's
face to see if he was going to let me go. But I couldn't make out. I
couldn't make out at all. It changed--oh, yes, it changed a great deal
as she read; but I couldn't make out what kind of a change it was at
Aunt Jane finished the letter and began to fold it up. I could see she
was waiting for Father to speak; but he never said a word. He kept
right on--eating beans.
Then Aunt Jane cleared her throat and spoke.
"You will not let her go, of course, Charles; but naturally I had to
read the letter to you. I will write to Mrs. Anderson to-night."
Father looked up then.
"Yes," he said quietly; "and you may tell her, please, that Mary
Aunt Jane said that. But I--I almost ran around the table and hugged
him. (Oh, how I wish he was the kind of a father you could do that
"Charles!" said Aunt Jane again. "Surely you aren't going to give in
so tamely as this to that child and her mother!"
"I'm not giving in at all, Jane," said Father, very quietly again. "I
am consulting my own wishes in the matter. I prefer to have her go."
_I_ 'most cried out then. Some way, it _hurt_ to have him say it like
that, right out--that he _wanted_ me to go. You see, I'd begun to
think he was getting so he didn't mind so very much having me here.
All the last two weeks he'd been different, really different. But more
of that anon. I'll go on with what happened at the table. And, as I
said, I did feel bad to have him speak like that. And I can remember
now just how the lump came right up in my throat.
Then Aunt Jane spoke, stiff and dignified.
"Oh, very well, of course, if you put it that way. I can quite well
understand that you would want her to go--for _your_ sake. But I
thought that, under the circumstances, you would manage somehow to put
up with the noise and--"
"Jane!" Just like that he interrupted, and he thundered, too, so that
Aunt Jane actually jumped. And I guess I did, too. He had sprung to
his feet. "Jane, let us close this matter once for all. I am not
letting the child go for _my_ sake. I am letting her go for her own.
So far as I am concerned, if I consulted no one's wishes but my own, I
should--keep her here always."
With that he turned and strode from the room, leaving Aunt Jane and me
just staring after him.
But only for a minute did _I_ stare. It came to me then what he had
said--that he would like to keep me here _always_. For I had heard it,
even if he had said the last word very low, and in a queer, indistinct
voice. I was sure I had heard it, and I suddenly realized what it
meant. So I ran after him; and that time, if I had found him, I think
I _would_ have hugged him. But I didn't find him. He must have gone
quite away from the house. He wasn't even out to the observatory. I
went out to see.
He didn't come in all the afternoon. I watched for that, too. And when
he did come--well, I wouldn't have dared to hug him then. He had his
very sternest I-am-not-thinking-of-you-at-all air, and he just came
in to supper and then went into the library without saying hardly
anything. Yet, some way, the look on his face made me cry. I don't
The next day he was more as he has been since we had that talk in the
parlor. And he _has_ been different since then, you know. He really
has. He has talked quite a lot with me, as I have said, and I think
he's been trying, part of the time, to find something I'll be
interested in. Honestly, I think he's been trying to make up
for Carrie Heywood and Stella Mayhew and Charlie Smith and Mr.
Livingstone. I think that's why he took me to walk that day in the
woods, and why he took me out to the observatory to see the stars
quite a number of times. Twice he's asked me to play to him, and once
he asked me if Mary wasn't about ready to dress up in Marie's clothes
again. But he was joking then, I knew, for Aunt Jane was right there
in the house. Besides, I saw the twinkle in his eyes that I've seen
there once or twice before. I just love that twinkle in Father's eyes!
But that hasn't come any since Mother's letter to Aunt Jane arrived.
He's been the same in one way, yet different in another. Honestly, if
it didn't seem too wildly absurd for anything, I should say he was
actually sorry to have me go. But, of course, that isn't possible. Oh,
yes, I know he said that day at the dinner-table that he should like
to keep me always. But I don't think he really meant it. He hasn't
acted a mite like that since, and I guess he said it just to hush up
Aunt Jane, and make her stop arguing the matter.
Anyway, I'm _going_ to-morrow. And I'm so excited I can hardly
WHEN I AM BOTH TOGETHER
Well, I came last night. Mother and Grandfather and Aunt Hattie and
Baby Lester all met me at the station. And, my! wasn't I glad to see
them? Well, I just guess I was!
I was specially glad on account of having such a dreadful time with
Father that morning. I mean, I was feeling specially lonesome and
homesick, and not-belonging-anywhere like.
You see, it was this way: I'd been sort of hoping, I know, that at
the last, when I came to really go, Father would get back the
understanding smile and the twinkle, and show that he really _did_
care for me, and was sorry to have me go. But, dear me! Why, he
never was so stern and solemn, and
you're-my-daughter-only-by-the-order-of-the-court sort of way as he
was that morning.
He never even spoke at the breakfast-table. (He wasn't there hardly
long enough to speak, anyway, and he never ate a thing, only his
coffee--I mean he drank it.) Then he pushed his chair back from the
table and stalked out of the room.
He went to the station with me; but he didn't talk there much, only to
ask if I was sure I hadn't forgotten anything, and was I warmly clad.
Warmly clad, indeed! And there it was still August, and hot as it
could be! But that only goes to show how absent-minded he was, and how
little he was really thinking of _me_!
Well, of course, he got my ticket and checked my trunk, and did all
those proper, necessary things; then we sat down to wait for the
train. But did he stay with me and talk to me and tell me how glad he
had been to have me with him, and how sorry he was to have me go, and
all the other nice, polite things 'most everybody thinks they've got
to say when a visitor goes away? He did not. He asked me again if I
was sure I had not left anything, and was I warmly clad; then he took
out his newspaper and began to read. That is, he pretended to read;
but I don't believe he read much, for he never turned the sheet once;
and twice, when I looked at him, he was looking fixedly at me, as if
he was thinking of something. So I guess he was just pretending to
read, so he wouldn't have to talk to me.
But he didn't even do that long, for he got up and went over and
looked at a map hanging on the wall opposite, and at a big time-table
near the other corner. Then he looked at his watch again with a
won't-that-train-ever-come? air, and walked back to me and sat down.
And how do you suppose _I_ felt, to have him act like that before all
those people--to show so plainly that he was just longing to have me
go? I guess he wasn't any more anxious for that train to come than _I_
was. And it did seem as if it never would come, too. And it didn't
come for ages. It was ten minutes late.
Oh, I did so hope he wouldn't go down to the junction. It's so hard to
be taken care of "because it's my duty, you know"! But he went. I told
him he needn't, when he was getting on the train with me. I told him I
just knew I could do it beautifully all by myself, almost-a-young lady
like me. But he only put his lips together hard, and said, cold, like
ice: "Are you then so eager to be rid of me?" Just as if _I_ was the
one that was eager to get rid of somebody!
Well, as I said, he went. But he wasn't much better on the train than
he had been in the station. He was as nervous and fidgety as a witch,
and he acted as if he did so wish it would be over and over quick. But
at the junction--at the junction a funny thing happened. He put me on
the train, just as Mother had done, and spoke to the conductor. (How
I hated to have him do that! Why, I'm six whole months older, 'most,
than I was when I went up there!) And then when he'd put me in my
seat (Father, I mean; not the conductor), all of a sudden he leaned
over and kissed me; _kissed me--Father_! Then, before I could speak,
or even look at him, he was gone; and I didn't see him again, though
it must have been five whole minutes before that train went.
I had a nice trip down to Boston, though nothing much happened. This
conductor was not near so nice and polite as the one I had coming up;
and there wasn't any lady with a baby to play with, nor any nice young
gentleman to loan me magazines or buy candy for me. But it wasn't a
very long ride from the junction to Boston, anyway. So I didn't mind.
Besides, I knew I had Mother waiting for me.
And wasn't I glad to get there? Well, I just guess I was! And _they_
acted as if they were glad to see me--Mother, Grandfather, Aunt
Hattie, and even Baby Lester. He knew me, and remembered me. He'd
grown a lot, too. And they said I had, and that I looked very nice. (I
forgot to say that, of course, I had put on the Marie clothes to come
home in--though I honestly think Aunt Jane wanted to send me home in
Mary's blue gingham and calfskin shoes. As if I'd have appeared in
Boston in _that_ rig!)
My, but it was good to get into an automobile again and just _go_! And
it was so good to have folks around you dressed in something besides
don't-care black alpaca and stiff collars. And I said so. And Mother
seemed so pleased.
"You did want to come back to me, darling, didn't you?" she cried,
giving me a little hug. And she looked so happy when I told her all
over again how good it seemed to be Marie again, and have her and
Boston, and automobiles, and pretty dresses and folks and noise again.
She didn't say anything about Father then; but later, when we were up
in my pretty room alone, and I was taking off my things, she made me
tell her that Father _hadn't_ won my love away from her, and that I
_didn't_ love him better than I did her; and that I _wouldn't_ rather
stay with him than with her.
Then she asked me a lot of questions about what I did there, and Aunt
Jane, and how she looked, and Father, and was he as fond of stars as
ever (though she must have known 'most everything, 'cause I'd already
written it, but she asked me just the same). And she seemed real
interested in everything I told her.
And she asked was he lonesome; and I told her no, I didn't think so;
and that, anyway, he could have all the ladies' company he wanted by
just being around when they called. And when she asked what I meant, I
told her about Mrs. Darling, and the rest, and how they came evenings
and Sundays, and how Father didn't like them, but would flee to the
observatory. And she laughed and looked funny, for a minute. But right
away she changed and looked very sober, with the kind of expression
she has when she stands up in church and says the Apostles' Creed on
Sunday; only this time she said she was very sorry, she was sure; that
she hoped my father would find some estimable woman who would make a
good home for him.
Then the dinner-gong sounded, and she didn't say any more.
There was company that evening. The violinist. He brought his violin,
and he and Mother played a whole hour together. He's awfully handsome.
I think he's lovely. Oh, I do so hope he's _the_ one! Anyhow, I hope
there's _some_ one. I don't want this novel to all fizzle out without
there being _any_ one to make it a love story! Besides, as I said
before, I'm particularly anxious that Mother shall find somebody to
marry her, so she'll stop being divorced, anyway.
* * * * *
_A month later_.
Yes, I know it's been _ages_ since I've written here in this book; but
there just hasn't been a minute's time.
First, of course, school began, and I had to attend to that. And, of
course, I had to tell the girls all about Andersonville--except the
parts I didn't want to tell, about Stella Mayhew, and my coming out of
school. I didn't tell _that_. And right here let me say how glad I was
to get back to this school--a real school--so different from that one
up in Andersonville! For that matter, _everything's_ different here
from what it is in Andersonville. I'd so much rather be Marie than
Mary. I know I won't ever be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde here. I'll be the
good one all the time.
It's funny how much easier it is to be good in silk stockings and a
fluffy white dress than it is in blue gingham and calfskin. Oh, I'll
own up that Marie forgets sometimes and says things Mary used to say;
like calling Olga a hired girl instead of a maid, as Aunt Hattie
wants, and saying dinner instead of luncheon at noon, and some other
I heard Aunt Hattie tell Mother one day that it was going to take
about the whole six months to break Mary Marie of those outlandish
country ways of hers. (So, you see, it isn't all honey and pie even
for Marie. This trying to be Mary and Marie, even six months apart,
isn't the easiest thing ever was!) I don't think Mother liked it very
well--what Aunt Hattie said about my outlandish ways. I didn't hear
all Mother said, but I knew by the way she looked and acted, and the
little I did hear, that she didn't care for that word "outlandish"
applied to her little girl--not at all.
Mother's a dear. And she's so happy! And, by the way, I think it _is_
the violinist. He's here a lot, and she's out with him to concerts
and plays, and riding in his automobile. And she always puts on her
prettiest dresses, and she's very particular about her shoes, and her
hats, that they're becoming, and all that. Oh, I'm so excited! And I'm
having such a good time watching them! Oh, I don't mean watching them
in a disagreeable way, so that they _see_ it; and, of course, I don't
listen--not the sneak kind of listening. But, of course, I have to get
all I can--for the book, you know; and, of course, if I just happen
to be in the window-seat corner in the library and hear things
accidentally, why, that's all right.
And I have heard things.
He says her eyes are lovely. He likes her best in blue. He's very
lonely, and he never found a woman before who really understood him.
He thinks her soul and his are tuned to the same string. (Oh, dear!
That sounds funny and horrid, and not at all the way it did when _he_
said it. It was beautiful then. But--well, that is what it meant,
She told him she was lonely, too, and that she was very glad to
have him for a friend; and he said he prized her friendship above
everything else in the world. And he looks at her, and follows her
around the room with his eyes; and she blushes up real pink and pretty
lots of times when he comes into the room.
Now, if that isn't making love to each other, I don't know what _is_.
I'm sure he's going to propose. Oh, I'm so excited!
Oh, yes, I know if he does propose and she says yes, he'll be my new
father. I understand that. And, of course, I can't help wondering how
I'll like it. Sometimes I think I won't like it at all. Sometimes I
almost catch myself wishing that I didn't have to have any new father
or mother. I'd _never_ need a new mother, anyway, and I wouldn't need
a new father if my father-by-order-of-the-court would be as nice as he
was there two or three times in the observatory.
But, there! After all, I must remember that I'm not the one that's
doing the choosing. It's Mother. And if she wants the violinist I
mustn't have anything to say. Besides, I really like him very much,
anyway. He's the best of the lot. I'm sure of that. And that's
something. And then, of course, I'm glad to have something to make
this a love story, and best of all I would be glad to have Mother stop
being divorced, anyway.
Mr. Harlow doesn't come here any more, I guess. Anyway, I haven't seen
him here once since I came back; and I haven't heard anybody mention
Quite a lot of the others are here, and there are some new ones. But
the violinist is here most, and Mother seems to go out with him most
to places. That's why I say I think it's the violinist.
I haven't heard from Father.
Now just my writing that down that way shows that I _expected_ to hear
from him, though I don't really see why I should, either. Of course,
he never _has_ written to me; and, of course, I understand that I'm
nothing but his daughter by order of the court. But, some way, I did
think maybe he'd write me just a little bit of a note in answer to
mine--my bread-and-butter letter, I mean; for of course, Mother had me
write that to him as soon as I got here.
But he hasn't.
I wonder how he's getting along, and if he misses me any. But of
course, he doesn't do _that_. If I was a star, now--!
* * * * *
_Two days after Thanksgiving_.
The violinist has got a rival. I'm sure he has. It's Mr. Easterbrook.
He's old--much as forty--and bald-headed and fat, and has got lots of
money. And he's a very estimable man. (I heard Aunt Hattie say that.)
He's awfully jolly, and I like him. He brings me the loveliest boxes
of candy, and calls me Puss. (I don't like _that_, particularly. I'd
prefer him to call me Miss Anderson.) He's not nearly so good-looking
as the violinist. The violinist is lots more thrilling, but I
shouldn't wonder if Mr. Easterbrook was more comfortable to live with.
The violinist is the kind of a man that makes you want to sit up and
take notice, and have your hair and finger nails and shoes just right;
but with Mr. Easterbrook you wouldn't mind a bit sitting in a big
chair before the fire with a pair of old slippers on, if your feet
Mr. Easterbrook doesn't care for music. He's a broker. He looks
awfully bored when the violinist is playing, and he fidgets with his
watch-chain, and clears his throat very loudly just before he
speaks every time. His automobile is bigger and handsomer than the
violinist's. (Aunt Hattie says the violinist's automobile is a hired
one.) And Mr. Easterbrook's flowers that he sends to Mother are
handsomer, too, and lots more of them, than the violinist's. Aunt
Hattie has noticed that, too. In fact, I guess there isn't anything
about Mr. Easterbrook that she doesn't notice.
Aunt Hattie likes Mr. Easterbrook lots better than she does the
violinist. I heard her talking to Mother one day. She said that any
one that would look twice at a lazy, shiftless fiddler with probably
not a dollar laid by for a rainy day, when all the while there was
just waiting to be picked an estimable gentleman of independent
fortune and stable position like Mr. Easterbrook--well, she had her
opinion of her; that's all. She meant Mother, of course. _I_ knew
that. I'm no child.
Mother knew it, too; and she didn't like it. She flushed up and bit
her lip, and answered back, cold, like ice.
"I understand, of course, what you mean, Hattie; but even if I
acknowledged that this very estimable, unimpeachable gentleman was
waiting to be picked (which I do not), I should have to remind you
that I've already had one experience with an estimable, unimpeachable
gentleman of independent fortune and stable position, and I do not
care for another."
"But, my dear Madge," began Aunt Hattie again, "to marry a man without
"I haven't married him yet," cut in Mother, cold again, like ice. "But
let me tell you this, Hattie. I'd rather live on bread and water in
a log cabin with the man I loved than in a palace with an estimable,
unimpeachable gentleman who gave me the shivers every time he came
into the room."
And it was just after she said this that I interrupted. I was right in
plain, sight in the window-seat reading; but I guess they'd forgotten
I was there, for they both jumped a lot when I spoke. And yet I'll
leave it to you if what I said wasn't perfectly natural.
"Of course, you would, Mother!" I cried. "And, anyhow, if you did
marry the violinist, and you found out afterward you didn't like him,
that wouldn't matter a mite, for you could _un_marry him at any time,
just as you did Father, and--"
But they wouldn't let me finish. They wouldn't let me say anything
more. Mother cried, "_Marie_!" in her most I'm-shocked-at-you voice;
and Aunt Hattie cried, "Child--child!" And she seemed shocked, too.
And both of them threw up their hands and looked at each other in the
did-you-ever-hear-such-a-dreadful-thing? way that old folks do when
young folks have displeased them. And them they both went right out of
the room, talking about the unfortunate effect on a child's mind, and
perverted morals, and Mother reproaching Aunt Hattie for talking about
those things before that child (meaning me, of course). Then they got
too far down the hall for me to hear any more. But I don't see why
they needed to have made such a fuss. It wasn't any secret that Mother
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