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Mary-'Gusta by Joseph C. Lincoln

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"Yes, Uncle Shad; but not unless you and Uncle Zoeth are willing."

He bent and kissed her.

"Bless your heart, dearie," he said, "it's all right. Zoeth and me
were talkin' about this very thing a little while ago. And do you
know what he said? He said: 'What wrecked all our lives thirty-five
year ago shan't wreck these two, if I can help it. If Mary-'Gusta
cares for him and he for her they shall have each other and be
happy. And we'll be happy watchin' their happiness.' That's what
he said. I don't know's I said 'Amen' exactly, but I thought it,
anyhow. God bless you, Mary-'Gusta. Now you and Crawford go and
see your Uncle Zoeth. He's down at the house. You just run along
and tell him about it."

Mary turned to Mr. Chase.

"Well, Isaiah," she said, "haven't you anything to say to me?"

Isaiah looked at Crawford and then at her.

"I should say you'd better go somewheres, both of you, and get dry,"
he said. "His overcoat's soakin' wet and your waist ain't much
better. I--I--don't know what sort of--of congratulations or--or
whatever they be I ought to say, but--but I hope you'll be terrible
happy, Mary-'Gusta."

"Thank you, Isaiah," laughed Mary.

"Yes, you're welcome. Now, just let me talk to Cap'n Shad a

He swung about and faced the Captain and in his eye was triumph
great and complete.

"Cap'n Shad Gould," crowed Isaiah, "a good many times in the last
four or five year you've called me a fool for heavin' out hints that
somethin' about like this was liable to happen. Well? WELL? What
have you got to say NOW? Who's the fool NOW? Hey? Who is?"


The story of Mary-'Gusta Lathrop is almost told. Before Crawford
left South Harniss, which was not until the end of another week, it
had been decided that on a day in June of the following year she
should cease to be Mary-'Gusta Lathrop. There was a great deal of
discussion before this decision was reached, for many perplexing
questions had to be answered.

First, there was the question of Crawford's future. His father had
left a comfortable fortune and an interest in mining properties
which would have rendered it quite unnecessary for the young man to
keep on with his professional studies had he wished to discontinue
them. But he did not so wish.

"As I think I told you that Sunday afternoon when we first met at
Mrs. Wyeth's, Mary," he said, "I have always intended to be a
doctor. Dad did not want me to be; he wanted me to come in with
him, but I wouldn't do it. I love my work and I mean to stick to it
and go on with it. If I were as rich as a dozen Rockefellers it
wouldn't make any difference. But, as I see it, I am not rich. It
is a grave question in my mind how much of that money out there
belongs to me."

Mary nodded. "I think I understand what you mean," she said.

"Yes, I think there is no doubt that almost all of my father's money
was made there in the West after"--he hesitated and then went on--
"after the--the other died and after he married my mother. But
nevertheless I shall always feel as if whatever there was belonged
to your uncles, the surviving members of the old firm. If I could,
I should give it to them."

Mary smiled. "Thank you for saying it, dear," she said, "and I know
you mean it; but it would be no use to offer; they wouldn't take

"I know they wouldn't. So we must try and make it up to them in
some other way. But suppose we leave that for a time and get back
to my work. I'm going to keep on with it; I want to and you say
that you want me to."

"I do, very much. I am sure you will be happier in that work than
in any other, and besides--I suppose I am ever so unpractical, but I
do feel it--I had rather you made your own way. Somehow the idea of
our depending upon that money out there doesn't--doesn't-- Oh, I
can't explain exactly, but I don't like the idea a bit."

"I know. I prefer to paddle my own canoe, if I can. But a young
doctor's canoe is likely to move pretty slowly at first. And I
intend taking a passenger, you know, and I want her to be

Mary laughed, a contented little laugh. "She will be," she
declared. "Did I tell you of the talk Uncle Shad and I had the
other day? He saw me sitting by the dining-room window looking out
at nothing in particular--and looking silly enough, too, I dare say--
and he asked me what I was thinking. I said, 'Nothing much,' which
wasn't true, and he said nothing must be good to think of, I looked
so cheerful. I told him I was. Then I asked him--my conscience
troubled me a little, you know--if he was sure that he and Uncle
Zoeth were happy, because I shouldn't be unless they were."

"Well, that was characteristic. What did he say to that?"

"Oh, he laughed that big laugh of his and told me not to worry.
'I'M feelin' pretty average satisfied with life just now, Mary-
'Gusta,' he said, 'and as for Zoeth--well, he asked me this mornin'
if I didn't cal'late 'twas wicked for him and me to be so contented
with the things of this world, so I know HE'S all right. When Zoeth
gets real happy he always begins to feel sinful.' I hope that a
consciousness of sin isn't the only test of happiness," she added,
"because I don't believe you feel wicked the least bit. At least
you have never said you did."

Crawford laughed, and there followed one of those interruptions to
conversation with which, although undoubtedly interesting to the
participants, outsiders are not supposed to be concerned. When it
was over Mary said:

"Of course I am not so foolish as to mean that you must not touch
the money your father left. That would be ridiculous. But I mean I
think we should not depend upon it; it should not change our plans
or spoil your life work, or anything like that. It will make life
easier for us, of course, and with its help we can make it easier
for other people. I think that is what we should do with it."

"So do I, my dear. And our first duty, it seems to me, is toward
your uncles. If they would consent, and I suppose there isn't the
least chance that they would, I should like to sell out the store
and the Lookout and the rest of it and take them with us, wherever
we decide to go, and give them an easy, carefree time of it the rest
of their lives."

Mary shook her head. "They wouldn't like it a bit," she said.
"That precious old store is the joy of their lives. Without it they
wouldn't know what to do; they would be as lost and lonesome and
miserable as a pair of stray kittens. No, if we take care of them
we must take care of Hamilton and Company, too. And we mustn't let
them know we're doing it, either," she added with decision.

Crawford looked troubled. "I suppose you're right," he said; "but
it is likely to be something of a puzzle, their problem. It will
mean, of course, that you and I must go and leave them."

"Oh, no, we can't do that--not for some time, at any rate."

"It seems to me we must. We have decided, you and I, that I shall
go back West, finish my preparatory work, then come here and marry
you. After that--well, after that we have decided that I am to
locate somewhere or other and begin to practice my profession.
You'll go with me then, I presume?"

"Silly! Of course I will."

"I hoped so. But if we can't leave your uncles and they won't leave
the store, what are we going to do? Put the store on a truck and
take it with us?"

She looked up at him and smiled. "I have a plan," she said. "I
haven't quite worked it out yet, but if it does work I think it's
going to be a very nice plan indeed. No, I'm not going to tell you
what it is yet, so you mustn't tease. You don't mind my planning
for you and bossing you and all that sort of thing, do you? I hope
you don't, because I can't help it. It's the way I'm made, I

"I don't mind. Boss away."

"Oh, I shall. I'm like that Scotch girl in the play Mrs. Wyeth took
me to see in Boston--Bunty, her name was. She made me think of
myself more than once, although she was ever so much more clever.
At the end of the play she said to her sweetheart, 'William, I must
tell ye this: if I marry ye I'll aye be managin' ye.' She meant she
couldn't help it. Neither can I. I'm afraid I'm a born manager."

Crawford stooped and kissed her.

"Do you remember William's answer?" he asked. "I do. It was:
'Bunty, I'll glory in my shame.' Manage all you like, my lady, I'll
glory in it."

The plan did work out and it was this: Doctor Harley, who had
practiced medicine for forty-one years in South Harniss, was
thinking of retiring after two more years of active work. He was
willing to sell out his practice at the end of that time. He liked
Crawford, had taken a fancy to him on the occasion of his first
visit to the town when he was a guest of the Keiths. Crawford,
after Mary had suggested the idea to him, called upon the old
doctor. Before the end of the week it was arranged that after
Crawford's final season of college and hospital work he was to come
to South Harniss, work with Doctor Harley as assistant for another
year, and then buy out the practice and, as Captain Shad said, "put
up his own shingle."

"I don't mean to stay here always," Crawford said, "but it will do
me good to be here for a time. Harley's a tiptop old chap and a
thoroughly competent general practitioner. He'll give me points
that may be invaluable by and by. And a country practice is the
best of training."

Mary nodded. "Yes," she said. "And at the end of this winter I
shall have Simeon Crocker well broken in as manager of the store.
And I can sell the tea-room, I think. My uncles don't care much for
that, anyway. They will be perfectly happy with the store to putter
about in and with Simeon to take the hard work and care off their
shoulders they can putter to their hearts' content."

"But suppose Simeon doesn't make it pay!" suggested Crawford.
"That's at least a possibility. Everyone isn't a Napoleon--I should
say a Queen Elizabeth--of finance and business like yourself, young

Mary's confidence was not in the least shaken.

"It will pay," she said. "If the townspeople and the summer
cottagers don't buy enough--well, you and I can help out. There is
that money in the West, you know."

He nodded emphatically.

"Good!" he cried. "You're right. It will be a chance for us--just
a little chance. And they will never know."

He went away at the end of the week, but he came back for Christmas
and again at Easter and again in the latter part of May. And soon
after that, on a day in early June, he stood, with Sam Keith at his
elbow, in the parlor of the white house by the shore, while Edna
Keith played "Here Comes the Bride" on the piano which had been
hired for the occasion; and, with her hand in Zoeth's arm, and with
Captain Shadrach and Barbara Howe just behind, Mary walked between
the two lines of smiling, teary friends to meet him.

It was a lovely wedding; everyone said so, and as there probably
never was a wedding which was not pronounced lovely by friends and
relatives, we may be doubly certain of the loveliness of this. And
there never was a more beautiful bride. All brides are beautiful,
more or less, but this one was more. Isaiah, who had been favored
with a peep at the rehearsal on the previous evening, was found
later on by Shadrach in the kitchen in a state of ecstatic

"I swan to godfreys!" cried Isaiah. "Ain't--ain't she an angel,
though! Did you ever see anything prettier'n she is in them clothes
and with that--that moskeeter net on her head? An angel--yes,
sir-ee! one of them cherrybins out of the Bible, that's what she is.
And to think it's our Mary-'Gusta! Say, Cap'n Shad, will checkered
pants be all right to wear with my blue coat tomorrow? I burnt a
hole in my lavender ones tryin' to press the wrinkles out of 'em.
And I went down to the wharf in 'em last Sunday and they smell
consider'ble of fish, besides."

The wedding company was small, but select. Judge Baxter and his
wife were there and the Keiths--Mrs. Keith condescended to ornament
the occasion; some of the "best people" had seen fit to make much of
Mary Lathrop and Mrs. Keith never permitted herself to be very far
behind the best people in anything--and Mrs. Wyeth was there, and
Miss Pease, and Mr. Green who had received an invitation and had
come from Boston, and Doctor Harley, and Simeon Crocker and his
"steady company," one of the tea-room young ladies, and Annabel
and--and--well, a dozen or fifteen more.

When the minister asked, "Who giveth this woman to this man?" Zoeth
answered, bravely, "I do--that is, me and Shadrach." But no one
laughed, because Zoeth himself was trying to smile and making rather
wet weather of it. As for the Captain, his expression during the
ceremony was a sort of fixed grin which he had assumed before
entering the room and had evidently determined to wear to the
finish, no matter what his emotions might be. But Miss Pease,
always susceptible, had a delightful cry all to herself, and Isaiah,
retiring to the hall, blew his nose with a vigor which, as Captain
Shad said afterwards, "had the Pollack Rip foghorn soundin' like a
deef and dumb sign."

Mary had managed everything, of course. Her uncles had tried to
remonstrate with her, telling her there were plenty of others to
arrange the flowers and attend to what the local newspaper would, in
its account of the affair, be sure to call the "collation," and to
make the hundred and one preparations necessary for even so small
and simple a wedding as this. But she only laughed at their

"I wouldn't miss it for anything," she said. "I have always wanted
to manage someone's wedding and I am certainly not going to let
anyone else manage mine. I don't care a bit whether it is the
proper thing or not. This isn't going to be a formal affair; I
won't have it so. Uncle Shad, if you want to say 'Jumpin' fire'
when Crawford drops the ring, as he is almost sure to do, you have
my permission."

But Crawford did not drop the ring, and so the Captain's favorite
exclamation was not uttered, being unnecessary. In fact there were
no mishaps, everything went exactly as it should, reception and
"collation" included, and, to quote from the South Harniss local
once more, "A good time was had by all."

And when the bride and groom, dressed in their traveling costumes,
came down the stairs to the carriage which was to take them to the
station, Mary ran back, amid the shower of rice and confetti, to
kiss Uncle Zoeth and Uncle Shad once more and whisper in their ears
not to feel that she had really gone, because she hadn't but would
be back in just a little while.

"And I have told Isaiah about your rubbers and oilskins when it
rains," she added, in Shadrach's ear, "and he is not to forget Uncle
Zoeth's medicine. Good-by. Good-by. Don't be lonesome. Promise
that you won't."

But to promise is easy and to keep that promise is often hard, as
Shadrach observed when he and Zoeth were alone in the sitting-room
that evening. "I feel as if the whole vitals of this place had gone
away on that afternoon train," the Captain admitted. "And yet I
know it's awful foolish, 'cause she'll only be gone a couple of

"I'm glad that question about the name is settled," mused Zoeth.
"That kind of troubled me, that did."

The partners had worried not a little over the question of whether
Crawford's name was legally Smith or Farmer. If it were Farmer and
he must be so called in South Harniss, they feared the revival of
the old scandal and all its miserable gossip. But when they asked
Crawford he reassured them.

"I consulted my lawyer about that," he said. "My father's middle
name was Smith; that is why he took it, I suppose. Edwin Smith is
not so very different from Edgar Smith Farmer, shorter, that's all.
He and my mother were married under the name of Smith. Mother never
knew he had had another name. I was born Smith and christened Smith
and my lawyer tells me that Smith I am. If there had been any
question I should have petitioned to have the name changed."

So that question was settled and Shadrach and Zoeth felt easier
because of it.

"Zoeth," observed Shadrach, after replying to his friend's remark
concerning the name, "do you know what I kind of felt as if we'd
ought to have had here this afternoon?"

"No, Shadrach," replied Zoeth, "I don't. What was it?"

"Seemed to me we'd ought to had one of them music box chairs. I'd
like to have put it under that Keith woman and seen her face when
the Campbells started to come. Ho, ho!"

"What in the world made you think of that?" demanded his partner.

"Oh, I don't know. Thinkin' about Mary-'Gusta, I cal'late, set me
to rememberin' how we fust met her and about Marcellus's funeral and
all. That made me think of the chair, you see. I ain't thought of
it afore for years."

Zoeth nodded. "Shadrach," he said, "that was a blessed day for you
and me, the day when we brought that child home in our old buggy.
The Lord put her there, Shadrach."

"Well, I guess likely He did, maybe, in a way of speakin'. Does
seem so, that's a fact."

"Our lives was pretty sot and narrow afore she came. She's changed

"That's so. Hello! What's that noise? I declare if it ain't
Isaiah liftin' up his voice in song! In a hymn tune! What do you
think of that?"

From the kitchen, above the rattle of dishes, Mr. Chase's nasal
falsetto quavered shrilly:

"There shall be showers of blessin's--"

The Captain interrupted.

"Hi, you--what's your name--Jennie Lind--come in here," he hailed.

Mr. Chase appeared, his arms dripping soapsuds. "What do you want,
callin' me out of my name?" he demanded.

"Want to know what started you singin' about blessin's? Fust I
thought 'twas the weathervane squeakin'. What tuned you up, eh?"

Isaiah looked rather foolish, but he grinned.

"I was thinkin' about Mary-'Gusta," he said.

"You was, eh? Well, she's been a blessin' to us, there's no doubt
about that."

"Indeed she has," concurred Zoeth.

But Isaiah had the final word.

"Huh!" he declared, "she's more'n one blessin', she's a whole
shower. That's what set me to singin' about 'em."

He departed for the kitchen once more, the falsetto rising

"There shall be showers of blessin's,
Send 'em upon us, oh Lord!"

Captain Shad looked after him. Then he turned to his friend and
partner and said earnestly:

"Do you know, Isaiah's gettin' real kind of sensible in his old

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