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Mae Madden by Mary Murdoch Mason

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"O, Mr. Mann, I haven't cut them yet. Babies don't have them."

"Don't they? Well, you have other teeth in their place, white and
sharp--but by this time you are four years old."

"Ah, here I begin to remember. You draw the pictures, and I'll
describe myself. Four years old!--let me see--I had a sled for
Christmas, and I used to eat green apples. That's all I can
remember; and five and six years old were just the same."

"O, no, I'm sure you went to church for the first time somewhere
along there; and isn't that a noteworthy event? I suppose all your
thoughts were of your button boots and your new parasol?"

"I behaved beautifully, I know; mamma says so; sat up like a lady,
while you were sleeping, on that very same Sunday, off in some
little country church, I suppose."

"I shouldn't wonder--sleeping in my brother's outgrown coat into
the bargain, with the sleeves dangling over my little brown hands."

"It doesn't seem as if they could ever have been very little, does
it, Mr. Mann?"

Mr. Mann unfolded five fingers and a thumb and surveyed them
gravely for a moment. "It is strange that this once measured three
inches by two and couldn't hit out any better than your's could."

Mae had laid her hand on her knee and was looking at it also in the
most serious manner. Now she doubled it into a small but very
pugnacious looking fist, which she shook most entrancingly before
the very eyes of the young man by her side. The eyes turned such a
peculiar look upon her that she hastened to add: "Go on with your
dissolving views. It is number eight's turn next. You are the
showman, and I am interested spectator."

"You insist upon describing my pictures, so I think you are
properly first assistant to the grand panorama. Here's eight-year-
old. Try your powers on her."

"Let me see. O, then I read all the while, the 'Fairchild Family'
and 'Anna Ross,' and I used to wear my hair in very smooth braids,
I remember. I was ever so good."

"Impossible; you must have forgotten," suggested Norman. "You
surely whispered in school and committed similar dreadful crimes.
Poor little prig."

"No, don't," plead Mae; "please don't laugh at the little girl me.
I love to think of her as so goody-goody. Last night," and Mae
lowered her voice, "I seemed to see little Mae Madden kneeling down
in the old nursery in her woolly wrapper saying her prayers," and
Mae brought up on the prayers very abruptly, and bent over toward
the sand and began to draw hastily. "Here comes nine-year-old Mae.
Mr. Mann, you may do the describing."

"O, I suppose there were doll's parties, first valentines, and
rides with Albert in his buggy, when you clung very tightly to the
slight arm of the carriage and smiled very bravely up in his face.
You must have been pretty then."

"No, I was dreadfully ugly. I had broken out two teeth climbing a
stone wall."

"You had stopped being good?"

"Yes, that only lasted a little bit of a time."

"Miss Mae, I'm sure you were never ugly, but naughty and silly, I
dare say. Kept a diary now, didn't you?"

"Yes, and went to sleep with Eliza Cooke's poems under my pillow
every night, and my finger holding the book open at some such
thrilling verse as this:

'Say on that I'm over romantic
In loving the wild and the free,
But the waves of the dashing Atlantic,
The Alps and the eagle for me.'"

"Did you wear your hair plaited when you were ten years old?"
enquired Norman, intensely busy with another drawing.

"O no; I didn't do anything when I was ten years old but get mad
and make up with my two dearest friends."

"One of whom was your dearest friend one-half of the time and the
other the rest of it, I suppose."

"Don't be satirical, sir. I had a lover when I was eleven; I used
to skate with him and write him little notes, folded very queerly."

"Why do you draw twelve and thirteen with their heads down?" asked
Mae, after a moment.

"Because they read so much; everything they can get hold of,
including, possibly, a very revised edition of 'Arabian Nights'?"

"Yes," laughed Mae, "and my first novel, 'Villette.'"

"You go to a play for the first time now," suggested Norman. "How
you clasp your hands and wink your eyes and bite your lips! And
next day, in front of your mother's pier-glass, how you scream 'O,
my love,' and gasp and tumble over in a heap in your brown calico,
as the grand lady did the night before, in her pink silk."

"Brown calico, indeed! I never condescended to die in my own
clothes, let me assure you. The garret was overhauled, and had
been since I was a mere baby, for effective, sweeping garments.
Let us hurry along over fourteen and fifteen. I was sentimental
and tried to be so young-ladyish then. I used to read history with
Albert, and always put on both my gloves when I started out, and
had great horror of girls who talked loud in the street. I learned
to make bread, and shirt bosoms, and such things."

"Well, here you are in a long dress, Miss Sweet Sixteen. I
remember you home from boarding school on a vacation."

"What did you think of me?" asked Mae, "didn't we have a nice time
that summer? O, how silly I was!"

She hurried on, because the eyes had given her that peculiar look
again, which put her heart in a tremble. "I did have a beautiful
time at boarding school," she continued, "the darlingest principal
and such girls."

"Then I suppose you wrote a salutatory in forlorn rhyme to end off
with," laughed Norman, "and read it, all arrayed in white, in a
trembling voice, and everybody applauded, and even old Judge
Seymour admired it, while you were reading, with your pink cheeks
and trembling hands and quivering voice."

"Abominable! I didn't have the salutatory, and the girl who did,
read a superb one, as strong and masculine--"

"Then the Judge went to sleep, I'm sure," declared Norman.

"Well," said Mae, "you are leaving out two years," for Norman had
leaned back against the rock with his arms folded.

"By and by," said Norman, "we all come off to Europe, and some of
us go through the heart-ache, don't we?"

"Yes," replied Mae, softly.

"But come out ahead one day at Sorrento, perhaps?" asked Norman.
To which Mae made no direct reply.

"All the Mae Maddens have faded away," she said, looking down at
the sand again. "The tide is rising." And she walked forward to
the ripples of water, and then came slowly back and stood before
Norman seriously. He laughed.

"Why, Mr. Mann," said Mae, "I have been so very, very wicked."

The dreadful Mr. Mann only laughed again.

"You act as if it were all a joke. I never saw you so merry

"I have never been as happy before in my life."

"Why?" asked Mae, in a low voice.

"Because I have found you," he answered earnestly, and before she
knew it Mae was lifted in the strong, manly arms, her pink cheek
close to Norman's brown one, and his lips on hers. She leaned her
face against his and clung tightly to him,

"O, Mr. Norman Mann," she said, "do you really want me as much--as
I do you?"

And Norman, still holding her tightly, bent his hand, with hers
clasped in it, to the sand, and after the Mae Madden, he wrote
another name, so that it read:


Then he said a great many, many things, all beginning with that
electric, wonderful little possessive pronoun "my," of which he had
discoursed formerly, and he held her close all the while, and they
missed the next train for Naples.

The gay peasant costume fell about the girl's round lithe form like
the luxuriant skin of some richly marked animal; but out of her
eyes looked a woman's tender, loving, earnest soul. Norman Mann
had saved her.


Edith was quietly married to Albert at Easter time, in the English
Chapel at Florence. The event was hastened by the sudden
appearance of Mae's parents, who set sail soon after hearing of the
Sorrento escapade and the embryonic engagement, which awaited their
sanction before being announced. Everything was beautifully smooth
at last. Edith and Albert left the day of their marriage for
Munich, and later, Mrs. Jerrold was to settle down with them at
Tuebingen. The rest of the party were to summer in Switzerland;
then came fall, and then--what?

Norman thought he knew, and Mae said she thought he didn't, but
this young woman was losing half her character for willfulness, and
Norman was growing into a perfect tyrant, so far as his rights were
concerned. Easter is a season of marriages. Mae read in a Roman
paper the betrothal announcement of the Signor Bero and Signorina
Lillia Taria. "I would like to send them a real beautiful
present," said she, and Norman did not say no. So these two hunted
all over Florence, and at length, in the studio of a certain not
unknown Florentine, they discovered the very gift Mae desired--a
picture of a young Italian soldier, bringing home his bride to his
own people. There was the aged mother, proud and happy, waiting to
bid the dark-eyed girl welcome. "She has a real 'old Nokomis'
air," laughed Mae. "I know she would have told her son not to seek
'a stranger whom he knew not.'" The distant olive-colored
hillsides, the splashing fountain near at hand, each face, and even
the thick strong sunshine seemed to bear a tiny stamp with Italy
graven on it. "The name of the picture is exactly right," said
Mae. Under the painting were these words: "Italia Our Home."

Norman would hardly have been human if he had not cast a quick
glance at her as she stood thoughtfully before the picture. Mae
was almost as good as an Italian for involuntary posing. She had
made a tableau of herself now, with one hand at her eyes to shade
them from the glare of the sun that fell fiercely through the
window, her head half on one side, and a bit of drapery, of lace or
soft silk, tight around her white throat. She felt Norman's
glance, and looked up quickly, and smiled and shook her head: "No,
Italy is not my home, although I love it so well. There is a
certain wide old doorway not many miles from New York, and the
hills around it, and the great river before it, and the people in
it, all belong together, too. That's where we belong, Norman, in
America, our home," and Mae struck a grand final pose with her
hands clasped ecstatically, and her eyes flashing in the true
Goddess of Liberty style.

"Yes, I believe we do, Mae; I am almost anxious to get back and
begin work in that young, eager country."

"And so am I," said Mae.

Norman laughed. "To think of your coming down to work, you young

"It is what we all have to come to, isn't it?--unless we go to that
creature that finds some mischief still for idle hands to do. I
don't expect to come to stone-cutting or cattle-driving, but I do
expect to settle down into a tolerable housewifely little woman,

"And look after me."

"Yes, I suppose so--and myself, and probably a sewing-class and the
cook's lame son. Heigh-ho-hum! What a pity it is, that it is so
uninteresting to be good."

"How do you know?"

"Don't be saucy. I do know, perfectly well, that Mae Madden,
naughty, idle, and silly, may be, after all, not so stupid; but get
me good, industrious and wise, and it will take all of my time when
I'm not asleep to keep so. No, there'll be nothing to say about me
any more. I'll be as humdrum as--"

"As I am."

"You--why Norman, are you humdrum?"

"Of course I am, dreadfully humdrum. If you and I were in a story-
book, you would have ten pages to my one, to keep the reader awake.
But then, story-books aren't the end of life. Suppose you, Mae
Madden, have been odd, full of variety, ready to twist common
occurrences into something startling and romantic, have you been
happy? Haven't you been restless and discontented? Now, can't
you, grown humdrum and good, be very happy and contented and
joyful, even if the sun rises on just about the same Mondays and
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the year round? You will not do for a
story-book then, but won't you do better for life? And, after all,
a lively murderer is a great deal more sensational than you could
ever be."

"Even when I ran away?"

"Yes. Now, you see, I have been humdrum again, and half preached a

"All right, sir; so long as you take me for a text, you may preach
as you want to, and by and by, I dare say, I shall agree with you."

"It would have been a great deal more interesting if you had
married that Italian."

"How do you know I could have married that Italian, my lord? He is
going to marry a girl as much more beautiful than I am as--as Bero
himself is than you--and yet I would rather have you. And now,
don't you dare look at me in that way. I'll never say another nice
thing to you if you do. This artist will think we are--"

"Lovers, my dear. And aren't we?"

* * * * * * *

Ten days later Norman entered with a letter for Mae. "Read it to
me," she said, throwing back the blinds and leaning her elbows on
the window-cushion.

"It is from Lillia. Would you rather read it yourself?" "O, no."
So Norman read what Lillia had written in her pretty broken

"My DEAR MISS MAE:--Thank you of all my heart for your so lovely
gift. I have had so little home since long, long ago my mother
died, and now I am to have one as the maid in the picture has. We
will marry the fifth day of May at five o'clock, and will wish you
to be there. Don't forget me.


"Signor Bero has added a postscript, Mae, which you can translate
better than I." And Norman handed her the letter. Mae translated
it thus:

"Did you know all that the picture would say to me, Signorina?
Receive my thanks for it, too, and believe I shall always live
worthy of my Italy, my wife and friends that I see in the picture,
and of another friend who lives so far away, whom I shall never see
again, if I have such a friend. Think of my beautiful Lillia on
our wedding day. We shall be married at St. Andrea's, at vesper


"And this is the day," said Mae, dropping the note.

"And the very hour, allowing the bride and the sun a few minutes
each," added Norman, glancing at the clock.

They gaze quietly out of the window of their lodgings on the Borgo
Ognissante, but Mae sees far away beyond the Arno, into the church
of St. Andrea,--music, and pomp, and beautiful ceremony, and before
the altar, a woman in her bridal robes, with heavily figured lace
falling over her black hair and white forehead, and against her
soft cheeks and shoulders. Her great brown eyes have thrown away
the mist of sadness for a luminous wedding veil of joy, and she is
Lillia, and by her side, erect, proud, glorious, with a lingering
ray of light falling on his golden head, is her happy husband,
Bero. They stand before the altar of St. Andrea's. "God bless
you," says Mae aloud. Then her gaze wanders back to the coral and
mosaic shops below in the street, and up across to the opposite
window, where a long-haired, brown-moustached, brown-eyed man
leans, puffing smoke from his curved lips, and holding his
cigarette in his slender fingers. She meets his gaze now, as she
has met it before. "He is wondering what life will bring to these
two young people, I fancy," says Mae.

"Our own wedding-day, Mae," Norman replies; and they both forget
all about Lillia, and Bero, and the stranger, and suddenly leave
the window. The long-haired man puffs his cigar in a little
loneliness, and wishes that wedding bells might ring for his empty
heart too.

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