Part 3 out of 4
got a divorce; and if she got one once, of course she could again.
(That's what I'm going to do when I'm married, if I grow tired of
him--my husband, I mean.) Oh, yes, I know Mrs. Mayhew and her crowd
don't seem to think divorces are very nice; but there needn't anybody
try to make me think that anything my mother does isn't perfectly nice
and all right. And _she_ got a divorce. So, there!
* * * * *
_One week later_.
There hasn't much happened--only one or two things. But maybe I'd
better tell them before I forget it, especially as they have a good
deal to do with the love part of the story. And I'm always so glad to
get anything of that kind. I've been so afraid this wouldn't be much
of a love story, after all. But I guess it will be, all right. Anyhow,
I _know_ Mother's part will be, for it's getting more and more
exciting--about Mr. Easterbrook and the violinist, I mean.
They both want Mother. Anybody can see that now, and, of course,
Mother sees it. But which she'll take I don't know. Nobody knows. It's
perfectly plain to be seen, though, which one Grandfather and Aunt
Hattie want her to take! It's Mr. Easterbrook.
And he is awfully nice. He brought me a perfectly beautiful bracelet
the other day--but Mother wouldn't let me keep it. So he had to take
it back. I don't think he liked it very well, and I didn't like it,
either. I _wanted_ that bracelet. But Mother says I'm much too young
to wear much jewelry. Oh, will the time ever come when I'll be old
enough to take my proper place in the world? Sometimes it seems as if
it never would!
Well, as I said, it's plain to be seen who it is that Grandfather
and Aunt Hattie favor; but I'm not so sure about Mother. Mother acts
funny. Sometimes she won't go with either of them anywhere; then she
seems to want to go all the time. And she acts as if she didn't care
which she went with, so long as she was just going--somewhere. I
think, though, she really likes the violinist the best; and I guess
Grandfather and Aunt Hattie think so, too.
Something happened last night. Grandfather began to talk at the
dinner-table. He'd heard something he didn't like about the violinist,
I guess, and he started in to tell Mother. But they stopped him.
Mother and Aunt Hattie looked at him and then at me, and then back to
him, in their most see-who's-here!--you-mustn't-talk-before-her way.
So he shrugged his shoulders and stopped.
But I guess he told them in the library afterwards, for I heard them
all talking very excitedly, and some loud; and I guess Mother didn't
like what they said, and got quite angry, for I heard her say, when
she came out through the door, that she didn't believe a word of it,
and she thought it was a wicked, cruel shame to tell stories like that
just because they didn't like a man.
This morning she broke an engagement with Mr. Easterbrook to go
auto-riding and went with the violinist to a morning musicale instead;
and after she'd gone Aunt Hattie sighed and looked at Grandfather and
shrugged her shoulders, and said she was afraid they'd driven her
straight into the arms of the one they wanted to avoid, and that Madge
always _would_ take the part of the under dog.
I suppose they thought I wouldn't understand. But I did, perfectly.
They meant that by telling stories about the violinist they'd been
hoping to get her to give him up, but instead of that, they'd made her
turn to him all the more, just because she was so sorry for him.
Funny, isn't it?
* * * * *
_One week later_.
Well, I guess now something has happened all right! And let me say
right away that _I_ don't like that violinist now, either, any better
than Grandfather and Aunt Hattie. And it's not entirely because of
what happened last night, either. It's been coming on for quite a
while--ever since I first saw him talking to Theresa in the hall when
she let him in one night a week ago.
Theresa is awfully pretty, and I guess he thinks, so. Anyhow, I heard
him telling her so in the hall, and she laughed and blushed and looked
sideways at him. Then they saw me, and he stiffened up and said, very
proper and dignified, "Kindly hand my card to Mrs. Anderson." And
Theresa said, "Yes, sir." And she was very proper and dignified, too.
Well, that was the beginning. I can see now that it was, though, I
never thought of its meaning anything then, only that he thought
Theresa was a pretty girl, just as we all do.
But four days ago I saw them again. He tried to put his arm around her
that time, and the very next day he tried to kiss her, and after a
minute she let him. More than once, too. And last night I heard him
tell her she was the dearest girl in all the world, and he'd be
perfectly happy if he could only marry her.
Well, you can imagine how I felt, when I thought all the time it was
Mother he was coming to see! And now to find out that it was Theresa
he wanted all the time, and he was only coming to see Mother so he
could see Theresa!
At first I was angry,--just plain angry; and I was frightened, too,
for I couldn't help worrying about Mother--for fear she would mind,
you know, when she found out that it was Theresa that he cared for,
after all. I remembered what a lot Mother had been with him, and the
pretty dresses and hats she'd put on for him, and all that. And I
thought how she'd broken engagements with Mr. Easterbrook to go with
him, and it made me angry all over again. And I thought how _mean_ it
was of him to use poor Mother as a kind of shield to hide his courting
of Theresa! I was angry, too, to have my love story all spoiled, when
I was getting along so beautifully with Mother and the violinist.
But I'm feeling better now. I've been thinking it over. I don't
believe Mother's going to care so very much. I don't believe she'd
_want_ a man that would pretend to come courting her, when all the
while he was really courting the hired girl--I mean maid. Besides,
there's Mr. Easterbrook left (and one or two others that I haven't
said much about, as I didn't think they had much chance). And so far
as the love story for the book is concerned, _that_ isn't spoiled,
after all, for it will be ever so much more exciting to have the
violinist fall in love with Theresa than with Mother, for, of course,
Theresa isn't in the same station of life at all, and that makes it
a--a mess-alliance. (I don't remember exactly what that word is; but
I know it means an alliance that makes a mess of things because the
lovers are not equal to each other.) Of course, for the folks who have
to live it, it may not be so nice; but for my story here this makes it
all the more romantic and thrilling. So _that's_ all right.
Of course, so far, I'm the only one that knows, for I haven't told it,
and I'm the only one that's seen anything. Of course, I shall warn
Mother, if I think it's necessary, so she'll understand it isn't her,
but Theresa, that the violinist is really in love with and courting.
_She_ won't mind, I'm sure, after she thinks of it a minute. And won't
it be a good joke on Aunt Hattie and Grandfather when they find out
they've been fooled all the time, supposing it's Mother, and worrying
Oh, I don't know! This is some love story, after all!
* * * * *
_Two days later._
Well, I should say it was! What do you suppose has happened now? Why,
that wretched violinist is nothing but a deep-dyed villain! Listen
what he did. He proposed to Mother--actually proposed to her--and
after all he'd said to that Theresa girl, about his being perfectly
happy if he could marry _her_. And Mother--Mother all the time not
knowing! Oh, I'm so glad I was there to rescue her! I don't mean at
the proposal--I didn't hear that. But afterward.
It was like this.
They had been out automobiling--Mother and the violinist. He came for
her at three o'clock. He said it was a beautiful warm day, and maybe
the last one they'd have this year; and she must go. And she went.
I was in my favorite window-seat, reading, when they came home and
walked into the library. They never looked my way at all, but just
walked toward the fireplace. And there he took hold of both her hands
"Why must you wait, darling? Why can't you give me my answer now, and
make me the happiest man in all the world?"
"Yes, yes, I know," answered Mother; and I knew by her voice that
she was all shaky and trembly. "But if I could only be sure--sure of
"But, dearest, you're sure of me!" cried the violinist. "You _know_
how I love you. You know you're the only woman I have ever loved, or
ever could love!"
Yes, just like that he said it--that awful lie--and to my mother. My
stars! Do you suppose I waited to hear any more? I guess not!
[Illustration: "WHY MUST YOU WAIT, DARLING?"]
I fairly tumbled off my seat, and my book dropped with a bang, as I
ran forward. Dear, dear, but how they did jump--both of them! And I
guess they _were_ surprised. I never thought how 'twas going to affect
them--my breaking in like that. But I didn't wait--not a minute. And
I didn't apologize, or say "Excuse me," or any of those things that
I suppose I ought to have done. I just started right in and began to
talk. And I talked hard and fast, and lots of it.
I don't know now what I said, but I know I asked him what he meant by
saying such an awful lie to my mother, when he'd just said the same
thing, exactly 'most, to Theresa, and he'd hugged her and kissed her,
and everything. I'd _seen_ him. And--
But I didn't get a chance to say half I wanted to. I was going on to
tell him what I thought of him; but Mother gasped out, "Marie! _Marie!
And then I stopped. I had to, of course. Then she said that would do,
and I might go to my room. And I went. And that's all I know about it,
except that she came up, after a little, and said for me not to talk
any more about it, to her, or to any one else; and to please try to
I tried to tell her what I'd seen, and what I'd heard that wicked,
deep-dyed villain say; but she wouldn't let me. She shook her head,
and said, "Hush, hush, dear"; and that no good could come of talking
of it, and she wanted me to forget it. She was very sweet and very
gentle, and she smiled; but there were stern corners to her mouth,
even when the smile was there. And I guess she told him what was what.
Anyhow, I know they had quite a talk before she came up to me, for I
was watching at the window for him to go; and when he did go he
looked very red and cross, and he stalked away with a
never-will-I-darken-this-door-again kind of a step, just as far as I
could see him.
I don't know, of course, what will happen next, nor whether he'll ever
come back for Theresa; but I shouldn't think even _she_ would want
him, after this, if she found out.
And now where's _my_ love story coming in, I should like to know?
* * * * *
_Two days after Christmas_.
Another wonderful thing has happened. I've had a letter from
Father--from _Father_--a _letter_--ME!
It came this morning. Mother brought it in to me. She looked queer--a
little. There were two red spots in her cheeks, and her eyes were very
"I think you have a letter here from--your father," she said, handing
She hesitated before the "your father" just as she always does. And
'tisn't hardly ever that she mentions his name, anyway. But when she
does, she always stops a funny little minute before it, just as she
And perhaps I'd better say right here, before I forget it, that Mother
has been different, some way, ever since that time when the violinist
proposed. I don't think she _cares_ really--about the violinist, I
mean--but she's just sort of upset over it. I heard her talking to
Aunt Hattie one day about it, and she said:
"To think such a thing could happen--to _me_! And when for a minute I
was really hesitating and thinking that maybe I _would_ take him. Oh,
And Aunt Hattie put her lips together with her most I-told-you-so air,
"It was, indeed, a narrow escape, Madge; and it ought to show you the
worth of a real man. There's Mr. Easterbrook, now--"
But Mother wouldn't even listen then. She pooh-poohed and tossed her
head, and said, "Mr. Easterbrook, indeed!" and put her hands to her
ears, laughing, but in earnest just the same, and ran out of the room.
And she doesn't go so much with Mr. Easterbrook as she did. Oh, she
goes with him some, but not enough to make it a bit interesting--for
this novel, I mean--nor with any of the others, either. In fact, I'm
afraid there isn't much chance now of Mother's having a love story to
make this book right. Only the other day I heard her tell Grandfather
and Aunt Hattie that _all_ men were a delusion and a snare. Oh, she
laughed as she said it. But she was in earnest, just the same. I could
see that. And she doesn't seem to care much for any of the different
men that come to see her. She seems to ever so much rather stay with
me. In fact, she stays with me a lot these days--almost all the time
I'm out of school, indeed. And she talks with me--oh, she talks with
me about lots of things. (I love to have her talk with me. You know
there's a lot of difference between talking _with_ folks and _to_
folks. Now, Father always talks _to_ folks.)
One day it was about getting married that Mother talked with me, and
I said I was so glad that when you didn't like being married, or got
tired of your husband, you could get _un_married, just as she did, and
go back home and be just the same as you were before.
But Mother didn't like that, at all. She said no, no, and that I
mustn't talk like that, and that you _couldn't_ go back and be the
same. And that she'd found it out. That she used to think you could.
But you couldn't. She said it was like what she read once, that you
couldn't really be the same any more than you could put the dress you
were wearing back on the shelf in the store, and expect it to turn
back into a fine long web of cloth all folded up nice and tidy, as it
was in the first place. And, of course, you couldn't do that--after
the cloth was all cut up into a dress!
She said more things, too; and after Father's letter came she said
still more. Oh, and I haven't told yet about the letter, have I? Well,
I will now.
As I said at first, Mother brought it in and handed it over to me,
saying she guessed it was from Father. And I could see she was
wondering what could be in it. But I guess she wasn't wondering any
more than _I_ was, only I was gladder to get it than she was, I
suppose. Anyhow, when she saw _how_ glad I was, and how I jumped for
the letter, she drew back, and looked somehow as if she'd been hurt,
"I did not know, Marie, that a letter from--your father would mean so
much to you."
I don't know what I did say to that. I guess I didn't say anything.
I'd already begun to read the letter, and I was in such a hurry to
find out what he'd said.
I'll copy it here. It wasn't long. It was like this:
MY DEAR MARY:
Some way Christmas has made me think of you. I wish I had sent you
some gift. Yet I have not the slightest idea what would please
you. To tell the truth, I tried to find something--but had to give
I am wondering if you had a good time, and what you did. After
all, I'm pretty sure you did have a good time, for you are
Marie now. You see I have not forgotten how tired you got of
being--Mary. Well, well, I do not know as I can blame you.
And now that I have asked what you did for Christmas, I suspect it
is no more than a fair turnabout to tell you what I did. I suppose
I had a very good time. Your Aunt Jane says I did. I heard her
telling one of the neighbors that last night. She said she left no
stone unturned to give me a good time. So, of course, I must have
had a good time.
She had a very fine dinner, and she invited Mrs. Darling and Miss
Snow and Miss Sanborn to eat it with us. She said she didn't want
me to feel lonesome. But you can feel real lonesome in a crowd
sometimes. Did you know that, Mary?
But I left them to their chatter after dinner and went out to the
observatory. I think I must have fallen asleep on the couch there,
for it was quite dark when I awoke. But I didn't mind that,
for there were some observations I wanted to take. It was a
beautifully clear night, so I stayed there till nearly morning.
How about it? I suppose Marie plays the piano every day now,
doesn't she? The piano here hasn't been touched since you went
away. Oh, yes, it was touched once. Your aunt played hymns on it
for a missionary meeting.
Well, what did you do Christmas? Suppose you write and tell
I'd been reading the letter out loud, and when I got through Mother
was pacing up and down the room. For a minute she didn't say anything;
then she whirled 'round suddenly and faced me, and said, just as if
something inside of her was _making_ her say it:
"I notice there is no mention of your mother in that letter, Marie. I
suppose--your father has quite forgotten that there is such a person
in the world as--I."
But I told her no, oh, no, and that I was sure he remembered her,
for he used to ask me questions often about what she did, and the
violinist and all.
"The violinist!" cried Mother, whirling around on me again. (She'd
begun to walk up and down once more.) "You don't mean to say you ever
told your father about _him_!"
"Oh, no, not everything," I explained, trying to show how patient I
was, so she would be patient, too. (But it didn't work.) "I couldn't
tell him everything because everything hadn't happened then. But I
told about his being here, and about the others, too; but, of course,
I said I didn't know which you'd take, and--"
"You told him you didn't know _which I'd take_!" gasped Mother.
Just like that she interrupted, and she looked so shocked. And she
didn't look much better when I explained very carefully what I did
say, even though I assured her over and over again that Father was
interested, very much interested. When I said that, she just muttered,
"Interested, indeed!" under her breath. Then she began to walk again,
up and down, up and down. Then, all of a sudden, she flung herself on
the couch and began to cry and sob as if her heart would break. And
when I tried to comfort her, I only seemed to make it worse, for she
threw her arms around me and cried:
"Oh, my darling, my darling, don't you see how dreadful it is, how
dreadful it is?"
And then is when she began to talk some more about being married, and
_un_married as we were. She held me close again and began to sob and
"Oh, my darling, don't you see how dreadful it all is--how unnatural
it is for us to live--this way? And for you--you poor child!--what
could be worse for you? And here I am, jealous--jealous of your own
father, for fear you'll love him better than you do me!
"Oh, I know I ought not to say all this to you--I know I ought not to.
But I can't--help it. I want you! I want you every minute; but I have
to give you up--six whole months of every year I have to give you up
to him. And he's your father, Marie. And he's a good man. I know he's
a good man. I know it all the better now since I've seen--other men.
And I ought to tell you to love him. But I'm so afraid--you'll love
him better than you do me, and want to leave--me. And I can't give you
up! I can't give you up!"
Then I tried to tell her, of course, that she wouldn't have to give
me up, and that I loved her a whole lot better than I did Father. But
even that didn't comfort her, 'cause she said I _ought_ to love _him_.
That he was lonesome and needed me. He needed me just as much as
she needed me, and maybe more. And then she went on again about how
unnatural and awful it was to live the way we were living. And she
called herself a wicked woman that she'd ever allowed things to get to
such a pass. And she said if she could only have her life to live over
again she'd do so differently--oh, so differently.
Then she began to cry again, and I couldn't do a thing with her; and
of course, that worked me all up and I began to cry.
She stopped then, right off short, and wiped her eyes fiercely with
her wet ball of a handkerchief. And she asked what was she thinking
of, and didn't she know any better than to talk like this to me. Then
she said, come, we'd go for a ride.
And we did.
And all the rest of that day Mother was so gay and lively you'd think
she didn't know how to cry.
Now, wasn't that funny?
Of course, I shall answer Father's letter right away, but I haven't
the faintest idea _what_ to say.
* * * * *
_One week later._
I answered it--Father's letter, I mean--yesterday, and it's gone now.
But I had an awful time over it. I just didn't know what in the world
to say. I'd start out all right, and I'd think I was going to get
along beautifully. Then, all of a sudden, it would come over me, what
I was doing--_writing a letter to my father_! And I could imagine just
how he'd look when he got it, all stern and dignified, sitting in
his chair in the library, and opening the letter _just so_ with his
paper-cutter; and I'd imagine his eyes looking down and reading what I
wrote. And when I thought of that, my pen just wouldn't go. The idea
of _my_ writing anything my father would want to read!
And so I'd try to think of things that I could write--big things--big
things that would interest big men: about the President, and
our-country-'tis-of-thee, and the state of the weather and the crops.
And so I'd begin:
"Dear Father: I take my pen in hand to inform you that--"
Then I'd stop and think and think, and chew my pen-handle. Then I'd
put down _something_. But it was awful, and I knew it was awful. So
I'd have to tear it up and begin again. Three times I did that; then I
began to cry. It did seem as if I never could write that letter. Once
I thought of asking Mother what to say, and getting her to help me.
Then I remembered how she cried and took on and said things when the
letter came, and talked about how dreadful and unnatural it all was,
and how she was jealous for fear I'd love Father better than I did
her. And I was afraid she'd do it again, and so I didn't like to ask
her. And so I didn't do it.
Then, after a time, I got out his letter and read it again. And all of
a sudden I felt all warm and happy, just as I did when I first got it;
and some way I was back with him in the observatory and he was telling
me all about the stars. And I forgot all about being afraid of him,
and about the crops and the President and my-country-'tis-of-thee.
And I just remembered that he'd asked me to tell him what I did on
Christmas Day; and I knew right off that that would be easy. Why, just
the easiest thing in the world! And so I got out a fresh sheet of
paper and dipped my pen in the ink and began again.
And this time I didn't have a bit of trouble. I told him all about the
tree I had Christmas Eve, and the presents, and the little colored
lights, and the fun we had singing and playing games. And then how, on
Christmas morning, there was a lovely new snow on the ground, and Mr.
Easterbrook came with a perfectly lovely sleigh and two horses to take
Mother and me to ride, and what a splendid time we had, and how lovely
Mother looked with her red cheeks and bright eyes, and how, when we
got home, Mr. Easterbrook said we looked more like sisters than mother
and daughter, and wasn't that nice of him. Of course, I told a little
more about Mr. Easterbrook, too, so Father'd know who he was--a new
friend of Mother's that I'd never known till I came back this time,
and how he was very rich and a most estimable man. That Aunt Hattie
Then I told him that in the afternoon another gentleman came and took
us to a perfectly beautiful concert. And I finished up by telling
about the Christmas party in the evening, and how lovely the house
looked, and Mother, and that they said I looked nice, too.
And that was all. And when I had got it done, I saw that I had written
a long letter, a great long letter. And I was almost afraid it was
too long, till I remembered that Father had asked me for it; he had
_asked_ me to tell him all about what I did on Christmas Day.
So I sent it off.
* * * * *
Yes, I know it's been quite a while, but there hasn't been a thing to
say--nothing new or exciting, I mean. There's just school, and the
usual things; only Mr. Easterbrook doesn't come any more. (Of course,
the violinist hasn't come since that day he proposed.) I don't know
whether Mr. Easterbrook proposed or not. I only know that all of a
sudden he stopped coming. I don't know the reason.
I don't overhear so much as I used to, anyway. Not but that I'm in the
library window-seat just the same; but 'most everybody that comes in
looks there right off, now; and, of course, when they see me they
don't hardly ever go on with what they are saying. So it just
naturally follows that I don't overhear things as I used to.
Not that there's much to hear, though. Really, there just isn't
anything going on, and things aren't half so lively as they used to be
when Mr. Easterbrook was here, and all the rest. They've all stopped
coming, now, 'most. I've about given up ever having a love story of
Mother's to put in.
And mine, too. Here I am fifteen next month, going on sixteen. (Why,
that brook and river met long ago!) But Mother is getting to be almost
as bad as Aunt Jane was about my receiving proper attentions from
young men. Oh, she lets me go to places, a little, with the boys at
school; but I always have to be chaperoned. And whenever are they
going to have a chance to say anything really _thrilling_ with Mother
or Aunt Hattie right at my elbow? Echo answers never! So I've about
given up _that's_ amounting to anything, either.
Of course, there's Father left, and of course, when I go back to
Andersonville this summer, there may be something doing there. But I
I forgot to say I haven't heard from Father again. I answered his
Christmas letter, as I said, and wrote just as nice as I knew how, and
told him all he asked me to. But he never answered, nor wrote again. I
am disappointed, I'll own up. I thought he would write. I think Mother
did, too. She's asked me ever so many times if I hadn't heard from him
again. And she always looks so sort of funny when I say no--sort of
glad and sorry together, all in one.
But, then, Mother's queer in lots of ways now. For instance: One
week ago she gave me a perfectly lovely box of chocolates--a whole
two-pound box all at once; and I've never had more than a half-pound
at once before. But just as I was thinking how for once I was going to
have a real feast, and all I wanted to eat--what do you think she told
me? She said I could have three pieces, and only three pieces a day;
and not one little tiny one more. And when I asked her why she gave me
such a big box for, then, if that was all I could have, she said it
was to teach me self-discipline. That self-discipline was one of the
most wonderful things in the world. That if she'd only been taught it
when she was a girl, her life would have been very, very different.
And so she was giving me a great big box of chocolates for my very
own, just so as to teach me to deny myself and take only three pieces
Three pieces!--and all that whole big box of them just making my
mouth water all the while; and all just to teach me that horrid old
self-discipline! Why, you'd think it was Aunt Jane doing it instead of
* * * * *
_One week later._
It's come--Father's letter. It came last night. Oh, it was short, and
it didn't say anything about what _I_ wrote. But I was proud of it,
just the same. I just guess I was! There wasn't much in it but just
that I might stay till the school closed in June, and then come. But
_he wrote it_. He didn't get Aunt Jane to write to Mother, as he did
before. And then, besides, he must have forgotten his stars long
enough to think of me a _little_--for he remembered about the school,
and that I couldn't go there in Andersonville, and so he said I had
better stay here till it finished.
And I was so glad to stay! It made me very happy--that letter. It made
Mother happy, too. She liked it, and she thought it was very, very
kind of Father to be willing to give me up almost three whole months
of his six, so I could go to school here. And she said so. She said
once to Aunt Hattie that she was almost tempted to write and thank
him. But Aunt Hattie said, "Pooh," and it was no more than he ought to
do, and that _she_ wouldn't be seen writing to a man who so carefully
avoided writing to _her_. So Mother didn't do it, I guess.
But I wrote. I had to write three letters, though, before I got one
that Mother said would do to send. The first one sounded so _glad_ I
was staying that Mother said she was afraid he would feel hurt, and
that would be too bad--when he'd been so kind. And the second one
sounded as if I was so _sorry_ not to go to Andersonville the first of
April that Mother said that would never do in the world. He'd think
I didn't _want_ to stay in Boston. But the third letter I managed to
make just glad enough to stay, and just sorry enough not to go. So
that Mother said it was all right. And I sent it. You see I _asked_
Mother to help me about this letter. I knew she wouldn't cry and moan
about being jealous this time. And she didn't. She was real excited
and happy over it.
* * * * *
Well, the last chocolate drop went yesterday. There were just
seventy-six pieces in that two-pound box. I counted them that first
day. Of course, they were fine and dandy, and I just loved them; but
the trouble is, for the last week I've been eating such snippy little
pieces. You see, every day, without thinking, I'd just naturally pick
out the biggest pieces. So you can imagine what they got down to
toward the last--mostly chocolate almonds.
As for the self-discipline--I don't see as I feel any more disciplined
than I did before, and I _know_ I want chocolates just as much as
ever. And I said so to Mother.
But Mother _is_ queer. Honestly she is. And I can't help wondering--is
she getting to be like Aunt Jane?
Now, listen to this:
Last week I had to have a new party dress, and we found a perfect
darling of a pink silk, all gold beads, and gold slippers to match.
And I knew I'd look perfectly divine in it; and once Mother would have
got it for me. But not this time. She got a horrid white muslin with
dots in it, and a blue silk sash, suitable for a child--for any child.
Of course, I was disappointed, and I suppose I did show it--some. In
fact, I'm afraid I showed it a whole lot. Mother didn't say anything
_then_; but on the way home in the car she put her arm around me and
"I'm sorry about the pink dress, dear. I knew you wanted it. But it
was not suitable at all for you--not until you're older, dear."
She stopped a minute, then went on with another little hug:
"Mother will have to look out that her little daughter isn't getting
to be vain, and too fond of dress."
I knew then, of course, that it was just some more of that
But Mother never used to say anything about self-discipline.
_Is_ she getting to be like Aunt Jane?
* * * * *
_One week later._
I _know_ she is now.
I'm learning to cook--_to cook_! And it's Mother that says I must. She
told Aunt Hattie--I heard her--that she thought every girl should
know how to cook and to keep house; and that if she had learned those
things when she was a girl, her life would have been quite different,
she was sure.
Of course, I'm not learning in Aunt Hattie's kitchen. Aunt Hattie's
got a new cook, and she's worse than Olga used to be--about not
wanting folks messing around, I mean. So Aunt Hattie said right off
that we couldn't do it there. I am learning at a Domestic Science
School, and Mother is going with me. I didn't mind so much when she
said she'd go, too. And, really, it is quite a lot of fun--really it
is. But it _is_ queer--Mother and I going to school together to learn
how to make bread and cake and boil potatoes! And, of course, Aunt
Hattie laughs at us. But I don't mind. And Mother doesn't, either.
But, oh, how Aunt Jane would love it, if she only knew!
* * * * *
Something is the matter with Mother, certainly. She's acting queerer
and queerer, and she _is_ getting to be like Aunt Jane. Why, only this
morning she hushed me up from laughing so loud, and stopped my
romping up and down the stairs with Lester. She said it was noisy and
unladylike--and only just a little while ago she just loved to have me
laugh and play and be happy! And when I said so to her this morning,
she said, yes, yes, of course, and she wanted me to be happy now, only
she wished to remind me that very soon I was going back to my father
in Andersonville, and that I ought to begin now to learn to be more
quiet, so as not to trouble him when I got there.
Now, what do you think of that?
And another thing. What _do_ you suppose I am learning about _now_?
You'd never guess. Stars. Yes, _stars_! And that is for Father, too.
Mother came into my room one day with a book of Grandfather's under
her arm. She said it was a very wonderful work on astronomy, and she
was sure I would find it interesting. She said she was going to read
it aloud to me an hour a day. And then, when I got to Andersonville
and Father talked to me, I'd _know_ something. And he'd be pleased.
She said she thought we owed it to Father, after he'd been so good and
kind as to let me stay here almost three whole months of his six, so
I could keep on with my school. And that she was very sure this would
please him and make him happy.
And so, for 'most a week now, Mother has read to me an hour a day
out of that astronomy book. Then we talk about it. And it _is_
interesting. Mother says it is, too. She says she wishes _she'd_ known
something about astronomy when she was a girl; that she's sure it
would have made things a whole lot easier and happier all around, when
she married Father; for then she would have known something about
something _he_ was interested in. She said she couldn't help that
now, of course; but she could see that _I_ knew something about such
things. And that was why she was reading to me now. Then she said
again that she thought we owed it to Father, when he'd been so good to
let me stay.
It seems so funny to hear her talk such a lot about Father as she
does, when before she never used to mention him--only to say how
afraid she was that I would love him better than I did her, and to
make me say over and over again that I didn't. And I said so one day
to her--I mean, I said I thought it was funny, the way she talked now.
She colored up and bit her lip, and gave a queer little laugh. Then
she grew very sober and grave, and said:
"I know, dear. Perhaps I am talking more than I used to. But, you see,
I've been thinking quite a lot, and I--I've learned some things. And
now, since your father has been so kind and generous in giving you up
to me so much of his time, I--I've grown ashamed; and I'm trying to
make you forget what I said--about your loving me more than him. That
wasn't right, dear. Mother was wrong. She shouldn't try to influence
you against your father. He is a good man; and there are none too many
good men in the world--No, no, I won't say that," she broke off.
But she'd already said it, and, of course, I knew she was thinking of
the violinist. I'm no child.
She went on more after that, quite a lot more. And she said again that
I must love Father and try to please him in every way; and she cried a
little and talked a lot about how hard it was in my position, and
that she was afraid she'd only been making it harder, through her
selfishness, and I must forgive her, and try to forget it. And she
was very sure she'd do better now. And she said that, after all, life
wasn't in just being happy yourself. It was in how much happiness you
could give to others.
Oh, it was lovely! And I cried, and she cried some more, and we
kissed each other, and I promised. And after she went away I felt all
upraised and holy, like you do when you've been to a beautiful church
service with soft music and colored windows, and everybody kneeling.
And I felt as if I'd never be naughty or thoughtless again. And that
I'd never mind being Mary now. Why, I'd be glad to be Mary half the
time, and even more--for Father.
Listen. Would you believe it? Just that same evening Mother stopped me
again laughing too loud and making too much noise playing with Lester;
and I felt real cross. I just boiled inside of me, and said I hated
Mary, and that Mother _was_ getting to be just like Aunt Jane. And
yet, just that morning--
Oh, if only that hushed, stained-window-soft-music feeling _would_
* * * * *
Well, once more school is done, my trunk is all packed, and I'm ready
to go to Andersonville. I leave to-morrow morning. But not as I left
last year. Oh, no. It is very, very different. Why, this year I'm
really _going_ as Mary. Honestly, Mother has turned me into Mary
_before I go_. Now, what do you think of that? And if I've got to be
Mary there and Mary here, too, when can I ever be _Marie_? Oh, I know
I _said_ I'd be willing to be Mary half, and maybe more than half, the
time. But when it comes to really _being_ Mary out of turn extra time,
that is quite another thing.
And I am Mary.
I've learned to cook. That's Mary.
I've been studying astronomy. That's Mary.
I've learned to walk quietly, speak softly, laugh not too loudly, and
be a lady at all times. That's Mary.
And now, to add to all this, Mother has had me _dress_ like Mary. Yes,
she began two weeks ago. She came into my room one morning and said
she wanted to look over my dresses and things; and I could see, by the
way she frowned and bit her lip and tapped her foot on the floor, that
she wasn't suited. And I was glad; for, of course, I always like to
have new things. So I was pleased when she said:
"I think, my dear, that on Saturday we'll have to go in town shopping.
Quite a number of these things will not do at all."
And I was so happy! Visions of new dresses and hats and shoes rose
before me, and even the pink beaded silk came into my mind--though I
didn't really have much hopes of that.
Well, we went shopping on Saturday, but--did we get the pink silk? We
did not. We did get--you'd never guess what. We got two new gingham
dresses, very plain and homely, and a pair of horrid, thick low shoes.
Why, I could have cried! I did 'most cry as I exclaimed:
"Why, Mother, those are _Mary_ things!"
"Of course, they're Mary things," answered Mother, cheerfully--the
kind of cheerfulness that says: "I'm being good and you ought to be."
Then she went on. "That's what I meant to buy--Mary things, as you
call them. Aren't you going to be Mary just next week? Of course, you
are! And didn't you tell me last year, as soon as you got there, Miss
Anderson objected to your clothing and bought new for you? Well, I am
trying to see that she does not have to do that this year."
And then she bought me a brown serge suit and a hat so tiresomely
sensible that even Aunt Jane will love them, I know. And to-morrow
I've got to put them on to go in.
Do you wonder that I say I am Mary already?
WHEN I AM NEITHER ONE
Well, I came last night. I had on the brown suit and the sensible hat,
and every turn of the wheels all day had been singing: "Mary, Mary,
now you're Mary!" Why, Mother even _called_ me Mary when she said
good-bye. She came to the junction with me just as she had before, and
put me on the other train.
"Now, remember, dear, you're to try very hard to be a joy and a
comfort to your father--just the little Mary that he wants you to be.
Remember, he has been very kind to let you stay with me so long."
She cried when she kissed me just as she did before; but she didn't
tell me this time to be sure and not love Father better than I did
her. I noticed that. But, of course, I didn't say anything, though I
might have told her easily that I knew nothing could ever make me love
_him_ better than I did _her_.
But I honestly tried, as long as I was dressed like Mary, to feel like
Mary; and I made up my mind that I would _be_ Mary, too, just as well
as I knew how to be, so that even Aunt Jane couldn't find any fault
with me. And I'd try to please Father, and make him not mind my being
there, even if I couldn't make him love me. And as I got to thinking
of it, I was _glad_ that I had on the Mary things, so I wouldn't have
to make any change. Then I could show Aunt Jane that I was really
going to be Mary, right along from the start, when she met me at
the station. And I would show Father, too, if he was at home. And I
couldn't help hoping he _would_ be home this time, and not off to look
at any old stars or eclipses.
When we got to Andersonville, and the train rolled into the station, I
'most forgot, for a minute, and ran down the aisle, so as to get out
quick. I was so excited! But right away I thought of Aunt Jane and
that she might see me; so I slowed down to a walk, and I let quite a
lot of other folks get ahead of me, as I was sure Mary ought to. You
see, I was determined to be a good little Mary from the very start, so
that even Aunt Jane couldn't find a word of fault--not even with my
actions. I knew she couldn't with my clothes!
Well, I stepped down from the cars and looked over to where the
carriages were to find John and Aunt Jane. But they weren't there.
There wasn't even the carriage there; and I can remember now just how
my heart sort of felt sick inside of me when I thought that even Aunt
Jane had forgotten, and that there wasn't anybody to meet me.
There was a beautiful big green automobile there, and I thought how
I wished _that_ had come to meet me; and I was just wondering what I
should do, when all of a sudden somebody spoke my name. And who do you
think it was? You'd never guess it in a month. It was _Father_. Yes,
Why, I could have hugged him, I was so glad. But of course I didn't,
right before all those people. But he was so tall and handsome and
splendid, and I felt so proud to be walking along the platform with
him and letting folks see that he'd come to meet me! But I couldn't
say anything--not anything, the way I wanted to; and all I could do
was to stammer out:
"Why, where's Aunt Jane?"
And that's just the thing I didn't _want_ to say; and I knew it the
minute I'd said it. Why, it sounded as if I missed Aunt Jane, and
wanted _her_ instead of _him_, when all the time I was so pleased and
excited to see him that I could hardly speak.
I don't know whether Father liked it, or minded it. I couldn't tell by
his face. He just kind of smiled, and looked queer, and said that Aunt
Jane--er--couldn't come. Then _I_ felt sorry; for I saw, of course,
that that was why _he_ had come; not because he wanted to, but because
Aunt Jane couldn't, so he had to. And I could have cried, all the
while he was fixing it up about my trunk.
He turned then and led the way straight over to where the carriages
were, and the next minute there was John touching his cap to me;
only it was a brand-new John looking too sweet for anything in a
chauffeur's cap and uniform. And, what do you think? He was helping me
into that beautiful big green car before I knew it.
"Why, Father, Father!" I cried. "You don't mean"--I just couldn't
finish; but he finished for me.
"It is ours--yes. Do you like it?"
"Like it!" I guess he didn't need to have me say any more. But I did
say more. I just raved and raved over that car until Father's eyes
crinkled all up in little smile wrinkles, and he said:
"I'm glad. I hoped you'd like it."
"I guess I do like it!" I cried. Then I went on to tell him how I
thought it was the prettiest one I ever saw, and 'way ahead of even
"And, pray, who is Mr. Easterbrook?" asked Father then. "The
Now, wasn't it funny he should have remembered that there was a
violinist? But, of course, I told him no, it wasn't the violinist. It
was another one that took Mother to ride, the one I told him about
in the Christmas letter; and he was very rich, and had two perfectly
beautiful cars; and I was going on to tell more--how he didn't take
Mother now--but I didn't get a chance, for Father interrupted, and
said, "Yes, yes, to be sure." And he _showed_ he wasn't interested,
for all the little smile wrinkles were gone, and he looked stern and
dignified, more like he used to. And he went on to say that, as we had
almost reached home, he had better explain right away that Aunt Jane
was no longer living there; that his cousin from the West, Mrs.
Whitney, was keeping house for him now. She was a very nice lady, and
he hoped I would like her. And I might call her "Cousin Grace."
And before I could even draw breath to ask any questions, we were
home; and a real pretty lady, with a light-blue dress on, was helping
me out of the car, and kissing me as she did so.
Now, do you wonder that I have been rubbing my eyes and wondering if I
was really I, and if this was Andersonville? Even now I'm not sure but
it's a dream, and I shall wake up and find I've gone to sleep on the
cars, and that the train is just drawing into the station, and that
John and the horses, and Aunt Jane in her I-don't-care-how-it-looks
black dress are there to meet me.
* * * * *
_One week later_.
It isn't a dream. It's all really, truly true--everything: Father
coming to meet me, the lovely automobile, and the pretty lady in the
light-blue dress, who kissed me. And when I went downstairs the next
morning I found out it was real, 'specially the pretty lady; for she
kissed me again, and said she hoped I'd be happy there. And she never
said one word about dusting one hour and studying one hour and weeding
one hour. (Of course, she couldn't say anything about my clothes, for
I was already in a Mary blue-gingham dress.) She just told me to amuse
myself any way I liked, and said, if I wanted to, I might run over to
see some of the girls, but not to make any plans for the afternoon,
for she was going to take me to ride.
Now, what do you think of that? Go to see the girls in the morning,
and take a ride--an automobile ride!--in the afternoon. _In
Andersonville_! Why, I couldn't believe my ears. Of course, I was wild
and crazy with delight--but it was all so different. Why, I began to
think almost that I was Marie, and not Mary at all.
And it's been that way the whole week through. I've had a beautiful
time. I've been so excited! And Mother is excited, too. Of course, I
wrote her and told her all about it right away. And she wrote right
back and wanted to know everything--everything I could tell her; all
the little things. And she was so interested in Cousin Grace, and
wanted to know all about her; said _she_ never heard of her before,
and was she Father's own cousin, and how old was she, and was she
pretty, and was Father around the house more now, and did I see a lot
of him? She thought from something I said that I did.
I've just been writing her again, and I could tell her more now, of
course, than I could in that first letter. I've been here a whole
week, and, of course, I know more about things, and have done more.
I told her that Cousin Grace wasn't really Father's cousin at all, so
it wasn't any wonder she hadn't ever heard of her. She was the wife
of Father's third cousin who went to South America six years ago and
caught the fever and died there. So this Mrs. Whitney isn't really any
relation of his at all. But he'd always known her, even before she
married his cousin; and so, when her husband died, and she didn't have
any home, he asked her to come here.
I don't know why Aunt Jane went away, but she's been gone 'most four
months now, they say here. Nellie told me. Nellie is the maid--I mean
hired girl--here now. (I _will_ keep forgetting that I'm Mary now and
must use the Mary words here.)
I told Mother that she (Cousin Grace) was quite old, but not so old
as Aunt Jane. (I asked Nellie, and Nellie said she guessed she was
thirty-five, but she didn't look a day over twenty-five.) And she _is_
pretty, and everybody loves her. I think even Father likes to have her
around better than he did his own sister Jane, for he sometimes stays
around quite a lot now--after meals, and in the evening, I mean. And
that's what I told Mother. Oh, of course, he still likes his stars the
best of anything, but not quite as well as he used to, maybe--not to
give _all_ his time to them.
I haven't anything especial to write. I'm just having a beautiful
time. Of course, I miss Mother, but I know I'm going to have her again
in just September--I forgot to say that Father is going to let me go
back to school again this year ahead of his time, just as he did last
So you see, really, I'm here only a little bit of a while, as it is
now, and it's no wonder I keep forgetting I am Mary.
I haven't got anything new for the love part of my story. I _am_ sorry
about that. But there just isn't anything, so I'm afraid the book
never will be a love story, anyway.
Of course, I'm not with Mother now, so I don't know whether there's
anything there, or not; but I don't think there will be. And as for
Father--I've pretty nearly given him up. Anyhow, there never used to
be any signs of hope for me there. As for myself--well, I've about
given that up, too. I don't believe they're going to give me any
chance to have anybody till I'm real old--probably not till I'm
twenty-one or two. And I can't wait all that time to finish this book.
* * * * *
_One week later_.
Things are awfully funny here this time. I wonder if it's all Cousin
Grace that makes it so. Anyhow, she's just as different as different
can be from Aunt Jane. And _things_ are different, everywhere.
Why, I forget half the time that I'm Mary. Honestly, I do. I try to be
Mary. I try to move quietly, speak gently, and laugh softly, just as
Mother told me to. But before I know it I'm acting natural again--just
like Marie, you know.
And I believe it _is_ Cousin Grace. She never looks at you in Aunt
Jane's I'm-amazed-at-you way. And she laughs herself a lot, and sings
and plays, too--real pretty lively things; not just hymn tunes. And
the house is different. There are four geraniums in the dining-room
window, and the parlor is open every day. The wax flowers are there,
but the hair wreath and the coffin plate are gone. Cousin Grace
doesn't dress like Aunt Jane, either. She wears pretty white and blue
dresses, and her hair is curly and fluffy.
And so I think all this is why I keep forgetting to be Mary. But, of
course, I understand that Father expects me to be Mary, and so I try
to remember--only I can't. Why, I couldn't even show him how much I
knew about the stars. I tried to the other night. I went out to the
observatory where he was, and asked him questions about the stars.
I tried to seem interested, and was going to tell him how I'd been
studying about them, but he just laughed kind of funny, and said not
to bother my pretty head about such things, but to come in and play to
him on the piano.
So, of course, I did. And he sat and listened to three whole pieces.
Now, wasn't that funny?
* * * * *
_Two weeks later_.
I understand it all now--everything: why the house is different, and
Father, and everything. And it _is_ Cousin Grace, and it _is_ a love
_Father is in love with her_.
_Now_ I guess I shall have something for this book!
It seems funny now that I didn't think of it at first. But I
didn't--not until I heard Nellie and her beau talking about it. Nellie
said she wasn't the only one in the house that was going to get
married. And when he asked her what she meant, she said it was Dr.
Anderson and Mrs. Whitney. That anybody could see it that wasn't as
blind as a bat.
My, but wasn't I excited? I just guess I was. And, of course, I saw
then that I had been blind as a bat. But I began to open my eyes
after that, and watch--not disagreeably, you know, but just glad and
interested, and on account of the book.
And I saw:
That father stayed in the house a lot more than he used to.
That he talked more.
That he never thundered--I mean spoke stern and uncompromising to
Cousin Grace the way he used to to Aunt Jane.
That he smiled more.
That he wasn't so absent-minded at meals and other times, but seemed
to know we were there--Cousin Grace and I.
That he actually asked Cousin Grace and me to play for him several
That he went with us to the Sunday-School picnic. (I never saw Father
at a picnic before, and I don't believe he ever saw himself at one.)
That--oh, I don't know, but a whole lot of little things that I can't
remember; but they were all unmistakable, very unmistakable. And I
wondered, when I saw it all, that I _had_ been as blind as a bat
Of course, I was glad--glad he's going to marry her, I mean. I was
glad for everybody; for Father and Cousin Grace, for they would be
happy, of course, and he wouldn't be lonesome any more. And I was glad
for Mother because I knew she'd be glad that he'd at last found the
good, kind woman to make a home for him. And, of course, I was glad
for myself, for I'd much rather have Cousin Grace here than Aunt Jane,
and I knew she'd make the best new mother of any of them. And last,
but not least, I'm glad for the book, because now I've got a love
story sure. That is, I'm pretty sure. Of course, it may not be so; but
I think it is.
When I wrote Mother I told her all about it--the signs and symptoms, I
mean, and how different and thawed-out Father was; and I asked if she
didn't think it was so, too. But she didn't answer that part. She
didn't write much, anyway. It was an awfully snippy letter; but she
said she had a headache and didn't feel at all well. So that was the
reason, probably, why she didn't say more--about Father's love affair,
I mean. She only said she was glad, she was sure, if Father had found
an estimable woman to make a home for him, and she hoped they'd be
happy. Then she went on talking about something else. And she didn't
write much more, anyway, about anything.
* * * * *
Well, of all the topsy-turvy worlds, this is the topsy-turviest, I am
sure. What _do_ they want me to do, and which do they want me to be?
Oh, I wish I was just a plain Susie or Bessie, and not a cross-current
and a contradiction, with a father that wants me to be one thing and
a mother that wants me to be another! It was bad enough before, when
Father wanted me to be Mary, and Mother wanted me to be Marie. But
Well, to begin at the beginning.
It's all over--the love story, I mean, and I know now why it's been so
hard for me to remember to be Mary and why everything is different,
_They don't want me to be Mary_.
_They want me to be Marie_.
And now I don't know what to think. If Mother's going to want me to
be Mary, and Father's going to want me to be Marie, how am I going to
know what anybody wants, ever? Besides, it was getting to be such a
beautiful love story--Father and Cousin Grace. And now--
But let me tell you what happened.
It was last night. We were on the piazza, Father, Cousin Grace, and
I. And I was thinking how perfectly lovely it was that Father _was_
there, and that he was getting to be so nice and folksy, and how I
_did_ hope it would last, even after he'd married her, and not have
any of that incompatibility stuff come into it. Well, just then
she got up and went into the house for something--Cousin Grace, I
mean--and all of a sudden I determined to tell Father how glad I was,
about him and Cousin Grace; and how I hoped it would last--having him
out there with us, and all that. And I told him.
I don't remember what I said exactly. But I know I hurried on and said
it fast, so as to get in all I could before he interrupted; for he had
interrupted right at the first with an exclamation; and I knew he was
going to say more right away, just as soon as he got a chance. And I
didn't want him to get a chance till I'd said what _I_ wanted to. But
I hadn't anywhere near said what I wanted to when he did stop me. Why,
he almost jumped out of his chair.
"Mary!" he gasped. "What in the world are you talking about?"
"Why, Father, I was telling you," I explained. And I tried to be so
cool and calm that it would make him calm and cool, too. (But it
didn't calm him or cool him one bit.) "It's about when you're married,
"Married!" he interrupted again. (They never let _me_ interrupt like
"To Cousin Grace--yes. But, Father, you--you _are_ going to marry
Cousin Grace, aren't you?" I cried--and I did 'most cry, for I saw by
his face that he was not.
"That is not my present intention," he said. His lips came together
hard, and he looked over his shoulder to see if Cousin Grace was
"But you're going to _sometime_," I begged him.
"I do not expect to." Again he looked over his shoulder to see if she
was coming. I looked, too, and we both saw through the window that she
had gone into the library and lighted up and was sitting at the table
I fell back in my chair, and I know I looked grieved and hurt and
disappointed, as I almost sobbed:
"Oh, Father, and when I _thought_ you were going to!"
"There, there, child!" He spoke, stern and almost cross now. "This
absurd, nonsensical idea has gone quite far enough. Let us think no
more about it."
"It isn't absurd and nonsensical!" I cried. And I could hardly say the
words, I was choking up so. "Everybody said you were going to, and I
wrote Mother so; and--"
"You wrote that to your mother?" He did jump from his chair this time.
"Yes; and she was glad."
"Oh, she was!" He sat down sort of limp-like and queer.
"Yes. She said she was glad you'd found an estimable woman to make a
home for you."
"Oh, she did." He said this, too, in that queer, funny, quiet kind of
"Yes." I spoke, decided and firm. I'd begun to think, all of a sudden,
that maybe he didn't appreciate Mother as much as she did him; and
I determined right then and there to make him, if I could. When I
remembered all the lovely things she'd said about him--
"Father," I began; and I spoke this time, even more decided and firm.
"I don't believe you appreciate Mother."
He made _me_ jump this time, he turned around with such a jerk, and
spoke so sharply. But in spite of the jump I still held on to my
subject, firm and decided.
"I say I don't believe you appreciate my mother. You acted right now
as if you didn't believe she meant it when I told you she was glad you
had found an estimable woman to make a home for you. But she did mean
it. I know, because she said it before, once, last year, that she
hoped you _would_ find one."
"Oh, she did." He sat back in his chair again, sort of limp-like. But
I couldn't tell yet, from his face, whether I'd convinced him or not.
So I went on.
"Yes, and that isn't all. There's another reason, why I know Mother
always has--has your best interest at heart. She--she tried to make me
over into Mary before I came, so as to please you."
"She did _what_?" Once more he made me jump, he turned so suddenly,
and spoke with such a short, sharp snap.
But in spite of the jump I went right on, just as I had before, firm
and decided. I told him everything--all about the cooking lessons, and
the astronomy book we read an hour every day, and the pink silk
dress I couldn't have, and even about the box of chocolates and the
self-discipline. And how she said if she'd had self-discipline when
she was a girl, her life would have been very different. And I told
him about how she began to hush me up from laughing too loud, or
making any kind of noise, because I was soon to be Mary, and she
wanted me to get used to it, so I wouldn't trouble him when I got
I talked very fast and hurriedly. I was afraid he'd interrupt, and I
wanted to get in all I could before he did. But he didn't interrupt
at all. I couldn't see how he was taking it, though--what I said--for
after the very first he sat back in his chair and shaded his eyes with
his hand; and he sat like that all the time I was talking. He did not
even stir until I said how at the last she bought me the homely shoes
and the plain dark suit so I could go as Mary, and be Mary when Aunt
Jane first saw me get off the train.
When I said that, he dropped his hand and turned around and stared at
me. And there was such a funny look in his eyes.
"I _thought_ you didn't look the same!" he cried; "not so white and
airy and--and--I can't explain it, but you looked different. And yet,
I didn't think it could be so, for I knew you looked just as you did
when you came, and that no one had asked you to--to put on Mary's
things this year."
He sort of smiled when he said that; then he got up and began to walk
up and down the piazza, muttering: "So you _came_ as Mary, you _came_
as Mary." Then, after a minute, he gave a funny little laugh and sat
Mrs. Small came up the front walk then to see Cousin Grace, and Father
told her to go right into the library where Cousin Grace was. So we
were left alone again, after a minute.
It was 'most dark on the piazza, but I could see Father's face in the
light from the window; and it looked--well, I'd never seen it look
like that before. It was as if something that had been on it for years
had dropped off and left it clear where before it had been blurred and
indistinct. No, that doesn't exactly describe it either. I _can't_
describe it. But I'll go on and say what he said.
After Mrs. Small had gone into the house, and he saw that she was
sitting down with Cousin Grace in the library, he turned to me and
"And so you came as Mary?"
I said yes, I did.
"Well, I--I got ready for Marie."
But then I didn't quite understand, not even when I looked at him, and
saw the old understanding twinkle in his eyes.
"You mean--you thought I was coming as Marie, of course," I said then.
"Yes," he nodded.
"But I came as Mary."
"I see now that you did." He drew in his breath with a queer little
catch to it; then he got up and walked up and down the _piazza_ again.
(Why do old folks always walk up and down the room like that when
they're thinking hard about something? Father always does; and Mother
does lots of times, too.) But it wasn't but a minute this time before
Father came and sat down.
"Well, Mary," he began; and his voice sounded odd, with a little shake
in it. "You've told me your story, so I suppose I may as well tell you
mine--now. You see, I not only got ready for Marie, but I had planned
to keep her Marie, and not let her be Mary--at all."
And then he told me. He told me how he'd never forgotten that day
in the parlor when I cried (and made a wet spot on the arm of the
sofa--_I_ never forgot that!), and he saw then how hard it was for me
to live here, with him so absorbed in his work and Aunt Jane so stern
in her black dress. And he said I put it very vividly when I talked
about being Marie in Boston, and Mary here, and he saw just how it
was. And so he thought and thought about it all winter, and wondered
what he could do. And after a time it came to him--he'd let me be
Marie here; that is, he'd try to make it so I could be Marie. And he
was just wondering how he was going to get Aunt Jane to help him when
she was sent for and asked to go to an old friend who was sick. And he
told her to go, by all means to go. Then he got Cousin Grace to come
here. He said he knew Cousin Grace, and he was very sure she would
know how to help him to let me stay Marie. So he talked it over with
her--how they would let me laugh, and sing and play the piano all I
wanted to, and wear the clothes I brought with me, and be just as near
as I could be the way I was in Boston.
"And to think, after all my preparation for Marie, you should _be_
Mary already, when you came," he finished.
"Yes. Wasn't it funny?" I laughed. "All the time _you_ were getting
ready for Marie, Mother was getting me ready to be Mary. It _was_
funny!" And it did seem funny to me then.
But Father was not laughing. He had sat back in his chair, and had
covered his eyes with his hand again, as if he was thinking and
thinking, just as hard as he could. And I suppose it did seem queer
to him, that he should be trying to make me Marie, and all the while
Mother was trying to make me Mary. And it seemed so to me, as I began
to think it over. It wasn't funny at all, any longer.
"And so your mother--did that," Father muttered; and there was the
queer little catch in his breath again.
He didn't say any more, not a single word. And after a minute he got
up and went into the house. But he didn't go into the library where
Mrs. Small and Cousin Grace were talking. He went straight upstairs
to his own room and shut the door. I heard it. And he was still there
when I went up to bed afterwards.
Well, I guess he doesn't feel any worse than I do. I thought at first
it was funny, a good joke--his trying to have me Marie while Mother
was making me over into Mary. But I see now that it isn't. It's awful.
Why, how am I going to know at all who to be--now? Before, I used to
know just when to be Mary, and when to be Marie--Mary with Father,
Marie with Mother. Now I don't know at all. Why, they can't even
seem to agree on that! I suppose it's just some more of that
incompatibility business showing up even when they are apart. And poor
me--I have to suffer for it. I'm beginning to see that the child does
suffer--I mean the child of unlikes.
Now, look at me right now--about my clothes, for instance. (Of
course clothes are a little thing, you may think; but I don't think
anything's little that's always with you like clothes are!) Well, here
all summer, and even before I came, I've been wearing stuffy gingham
and clumpy shoes to please Father. And Father isn't pleased at all. He
wanted me to wear the Marie things.
And there you are.
How do you suppose Mother's going to feel when I tell her that after
all her pains Father didn't like it at all. He wanted me to be Marie.
It's a shame, after all the pains she took. But I won't write it to
her, anyway. Maybe I won't have to tell her, unless she _asks_ me.
But _I_ know it. And, pray, what am I to do? Of course, I can _act_
like Marie here all right, if that is what folks want. (I guess I have
been doing it a good deal of the time, anyway, for I kept forgetting
that I was Mary.) But I can't _wear_ Marie, for I haven't a single
Marie thing here. They're all Mary. That's all I brought.
Oh, dear suz me! Why couldn't Father and Mother have been just the
common live-happy-ever-after kind, or else found out before they
married that they were unlikes?
* * * * *
Well, vacation is over, and I go back to Boston to-morrow. It's been
very nice and I've had a good time, in spite of being so mixed up as
to whether I was Mary or Marie. It wasn't so bad as I was afraid it
would be. Very soon after Father and I had that talk on the piazza,
Cousin Grace took me down to the store and bought me two new white
dresses, and the dearest little pair of shoes I ever saw. She said
Father wanted me to have them.
And that's all--every single word that's been said about that
Mary-and-Marie business. And even that didn't really _say_
anything--not by name. And Cousin Grace never mentioned it again. And
Father never mentioned it at all. Not a word.
But he's been queer. He's been awfully queer. Some days he's been just
as he was when I first came this time--real talky and folksy, and as
if he liked to be with us. Then for whole days at a time he'd be more
as he used to--stern, and stirring his coffee when there isn't any
coffee there; and staying all the evening and half the night out in
Some days he's talked a lot with me--asked me questions just as he
used to, all about what I did in Boston, and Mother, and the people
that came there to see her, and everything. And he spoke of the
violinist again, and, of course, this time I told him all about him,
and that he didn't come any more, nor Mr. Easterbrook, either; and
Father was _so_ interested! Why, it seemed sometimes as if he just
couldn't hear enough about things. Then, all of a sudden, at times,
he'd get right up in the middle of something I was saying and act as
if he was just waiting for me to finish my sentence so he could go.
And he did go, just as soon as I _had_ finished my sentence. And after
that, maybe, he wouldn't hardly speak to me again for a whole day.
And so that's why I say he's been so queer since that night on the
piazza. But most of the time he's been lovely, perfectly lovely. And
so has Cousin Grace, And I've had a beautiful time.
But I do wish they _would_ marry--Father and Cousin Grace, I mean. And
I'm not talking now entirely for the sake of the book. It's for their
sakes--especially for Father's sake. I've been thinking what Mother
used to say about him, when she was talking about my being Mary--how
he was lonely, and needed a good, kind woman to make a home for him.
And while I've been thinking of it, I've been watching him; and I
think he does need a good, kind woman to make a home for him. I'd be
_willing_ to have a new mother for his sake!
Oh, yes, I know he's got Cousin Grace, but he may not have her always.
Maybe she'll be sent for same as Aunt Jane was. _Then_ what's he going
to do, I should like to know?
WHICH IS THE REAL LOVE STORY
BOSTON. _Four days later_.
Well, here I am again in Boston. Mother and the rest met me at the
station, and everybody seemed glad to see me, just as they did before.
And I was glad to see them. But I didn't feel anywhere near so
excited, and sort of crazy, as I did last year. I tried to, but I
couldn't. I don't know why. Maybe it was because I'd been Marie all
summer, anyway, so I wasn't so crazy to be Marie now, not needing any
rest from being Mary. Maybe it was 'cause I sort of hated to leave
And I did hate to leave him, especially when I found he hated to have
me leave him. And he did. He told me so at the junction. You see, our
train was late, and we had to wait for it; and there was where he told
He had come all the way down there with me, just as he had before. But
he hadn't acted the same at all. He didn't fidget this time, nor walk
over to look at maps and time-tables, nor flip out his watch every
other minute with such a bored air that everybody knew he was seeing
me off just as a duty. And he didn't ask if I was warmly clad, and had
I left anything, either. He just sat and talked to me, and he asked me
had I been a little happier there with him this year than last; and he
said he hoped I had.
And I told him, of course, I had; that it had been perfectly beautiful
there, even if there had been such a mix-up of him getting ready for
Marie, and Mother sending Mary. And he laughed and looked queer--sort
of half glad and half sorry; and said he shouldn't worry about that.
Then the train came, and we got on and rode down to the junction. And
there, while we were waiting for the other train, he told me how sorry
he was to have me go.
He said I would never know how he missed me after I went last year. He
said you never knew how you missed things--and people--till they were
gone. And I wondered if, by the way he said it, he wasn't thinking
of Mother more than he was of me, and of her going long ago. And he
looked so sort of sad and sorry and noble and handsome, sitting there
beside me, that suddenly I 'most wanted to cry. And I told him I _did_
love him, I loved him dearly, and I had loved to be with him this
summer, and that I'd stay his whole six months with him next year if
he wanted me to.
He shook his head at that; but he did look happy and pleased, and said
I'd never know how glad he was that I'd said that, and that he should
prize it very highly--the love of his little daughter. He said you
never knew how to prize love, either, till you'd lost it; and he said
he'd learned his lesson, and learned it well. I knew then, of course,
that he was thinking of Mother and the long ago. And I felt so sorry
"But I'll stay--I'll stay the whole six months next year!" I cried
But again he shook his head.
"No, no, my dear; I thank you, and I'd love to have you; but it is
much better for you that you stay in Boston through the school year,
and I want you to do it. It'll just make the three months I do have
you all the dearer, because of the long nine months that I do not,"
he went on very cheerfully and briskly; "and don't look so solemn and
long-faced. You're not to blame--for this wretched situation."
The train came then, and he put me on board, and he kissed me
again--but I was expecting it this time, of course. Then I whizzed
off, and he was left standing all alone on the platform. And I felt
so sorry for him; and all the way down to Boston I kept thinking of
him--what he said, and how he looked, and how fine and splendid and
any-woman-would-be-proud-of-him he was as he stood on the platform
And so I guess I was still thinking of him and being sorry for
him when I got to Boston. That's why I couldn't be so crazy and
hilariously glad when the folks met me, I suspect. Some way, all of a
sudden, I found myself wishing _he_ could be there, too.
Of course, I knew that that was bad and wicked and unkind to Mother,
and she'd feel so grieved not to have me satisfied with her. And I
wouldn't have told her of it for the world. So I tried just as hard as
I could to forget him--on account of Mother, so as to be loyal to her.
And I did 'most forget him by the time I'd got home. But it all came
back again a little later when we were unpacking my trunk.
You see, Mother found the two new white dresses, and the dear little
shoes. I knew then, of course, that she'd have to know all--I mean,
how she hadn't pleased Father, even after all her pains trying to have
me go as Mary.
"Why, Marie, what in the world is this?" she demanded, holding up one
of the new dresses.
I could have cried.
I suppose she saw by my face how awfully I felt 'cause she'd found it.
And, of course, she saw something was the matter; and she thought it
Well, the first thing _I_ knew she was looking at me in her very
sternest, sorriest way, and saying:
"Oh, Marie, how could you? I'm ashamed of you! Couldn't you wear the
Mary dresses one little three months to please your father?"
I did cry, then. After all I'd been through, to have her accuse _me_
of getting those dresses! Well, I just couldn't stand it. And I told
her so as well as I could, only I was crying so by now that I could
hardly speak. I told her how it was hard enough to be Mary part of the
time, and Marie part of the time, when I _knew_ what they wanted me to
be. But when she tried to have me Mary while he wanted me Marie, and
he tried to have me Marie while she wanted me Mary--I did not know
what they wanted; and I wished I had never been born unless I could
have been born a plain Susie or Bessie, or Annabelle, and not a Mary
Marie that was all mixed up till I didn't know what I was.
And then I cried some more.
Mother dropped the dress then, and took me in her arms over on the
couch, and she said, "There, there," and that I was tired and nervous,
and all wrought up, and to cry all I wanted to. And by and by, when I
was calmer I could tell Mother all about it.
And I did.
I told her how hard I tried to be Mary all the way up to Andersonville
and after I got there; and how then I found out, all of a sudden one
day, that father had got ready for _Marie_, and he didn't want me to
be Mary, and that was why he had got Cousin Grace and the automobile
and the geraniums in the window, and, oh, everything that made it nice
and comfy and homey. And then is when they bought me the new white
dresses and the little white shoes. And I told Mother, of course, it
was lovely to be Marie, and I liked it, only I knew _she_ would feel
bad to think, after all _her_ pains to make me Mary, Father didn't
want me Mary at all.
"I don't think you need to worry--about that," stammered Mother. And
when I looked at her, her face was all flushed, and sort of queer, but
not a bit angry. And she went on in the same odd little shaky voice:
"But, tell me, why--why did--your father want you to be Marie and not
And then I told her how he said he'd remembered what I'd said to him
in the parlor that day--how tired I got being Mary, and how I'd put
on Marie's things just to get a little vacation from her; and he said
he'd never forgotten. And so when it came near time for me to come
again, he determined to fix it so I wouldn't have to be Mary at all.
And so that was why. And I told Mother it was all right, and of course
I liked it; only it _did_ mix me up awfully, not knowing which wanted
me to be Mary now, and which Marie, when they were both telling me
different from what they ever had before. And that it was hard, when
you were trying just the best you knew how.
And I began to cry again.
And she said there, there, once more, and patted me on my shoulder,
and told me I needn't worry any more. And that _she_ understood it,
if I didn't. In fact, she was beginning to understand a lot of things
that she'd never understood before. And she said it was very, very
dear of Father to do what he did, and that I needn't worry about her
being displeased at it. That she was pleased, and that she believed he
meant her to be. And she said I needn't think any more whether to be
Mary or Marie; but to be just a good, loving little daughter to both
of them; and that was all she asked, and she was very sure it was all
Father would ask, too.
I told her then how I thought he _did_ care a little about having
me there, and that I knew he was going to miss me. And I told her
why--what he'd said that morning in the junction--about appreciating
love, and not missing things or people until you didn't have them; and
how he'd learned his lesson, and all that.
And Mother grew all flushed and rosy again, but she was pleased. I
knew she was. And she said some beautiful things about making other
people happy, instead of looking to ourselves all the time, just as
she had talked once, before I went away. And I felt again that hushed,
stained-window, soft-music, everybody-kneeling kind of a way; and I
was so happy! And it lasted all the rest of that evening till I went
And for the first time a beautiful idea came to me, when I thought how
Mother was trying to please Father, and he was trying to please her.
Wouldn't it be perfectly lovely and wonderful if Father and Mother
should fall in love with each other all over again, and get married? I
guess _then_ this would be a love story all right, all right!
* * * * *
Oh, how I wish that stained-window, everybody-kneeling feeling _would_
last. But it never does. Just the next morning, when I woke up, it
rained. And I didn't feel pleased a bit. Still I remembered what
had happened the night before, and a real glow came over me at the
beautiful idea I had gone to sleep with.
I wanted to tell Mother, and ask her if it couldn't be, and wouldn't
she let it be, if Father would. So, without waiting to dress me, I
hurried across the hall to her room and told her all about it--my
idea, and everything.
But she said, "Nonsense," and, "Hush, hush," when I asked her if she
and Father couldn't fall in love all over again and get married. And
she said not to get silly notions into my head. And she wasn't a bit
flushed and teary, as she had been the night before, and she didn't
talk at all as she had then, either. And it's been that way ever
since. Things have gone along in just the usual humdrum way, and she's
never been the same as she was that night I came.
Something--a little something--_did_ happen yesterday, though. There's
going to be another big astronomy meeting here in Boston this month,
just as there was when Father found Mother years ago; and Grandfather
brought home word that Father was going to be one of the chief
speakers. And he told Mother he supposed she'd go and hear him.
I couldn't make out whether he was joking or not. (I never can tell
when Grandfather's joking.) But Aunt Hattie took it right up in
earnest, and said, "Pooh, pooh," she guessed not. She could _see_
Madge going down to that hall to hear Dr. Anderson speak!
And then a funny thing happened. I looked at Mother, and I saw her
head come up with a queer little jerk.
"Well, yes, I am thinking of going," she said, just as calm and cool
as could be. "When does he speak, Father?"
And when Aunt Hattie pooh-poohed some more, and asked how _could_ she
do such a thing, Mother answered:
"Because Charles Anderson is the father of my little girl, and I think
she should hear him speak. Therefore, Hattie, I intend to take her."
And then she asked Grandfather again when Father was going to speak.
I'm so excited! Only think of seeing my father up on a big platform
with a lot of big men, and hearing him speak! And he'll be the very
smartest and handsomest one there, too. You see if he isn't!
* * * * *
_Two weeks and one day later_.
Oh, I've got a lot to write this time--I mean, a lot has happened.
Still, I don't know as it's going to take so very long to tell it.
Besides, I'm almost too excited to write, anyway. But I'm going to do
the best I can to tell it, just as it happened.
Father's here--right here in Boston. I don't know when he came. But
the first day of the meeting was day before yesterday, and he was here
then. The paper said he was, and his picture was there, too. There
were a lot of pictures, but his was away ahead of the others. It was
the very best one on the page. (I told you it would be that way.)
Mother saw it first. That is, I think she did. She had the paper in
her hand, looking at it, when I came into the room; but as soon as she
saw me she laid it right down quick on the table. If she hadn't been
quite so quick about it, and if she hadn't looked quite so queer when
she did it, I wouldn't have thought anything at all. But when I went
over to the table after she had gone, and saw the paper with Father's
picture right on the first page--and the biggest picture there--I knew
then, of course, what she'd been looking at.
I looked at it then, and I read what it said, too. It was lovely. Why,
I hadn't any idea Father was so big. I was prouder than ever of him.
It told all about the stars and comets he'd discovered, and the books
he'd written on astronomy, and how he was president of the college at
Andersonville, and that he was going to give an address the next day.
And I read it all--every word. And I made up my mind right there and
then that I'd cut out that piece and save it.
But that night, when I went to the library cupboard to get the paper,
I couldn't do it, after all. Oh, the paper was there, but that page
was gone. There wasn't a bit of it left. Somebody had taken it right
out. I never thought then of Mother. But I believe now that it _was_
But I mustn't tell you that part now. Stories are just like meals. You
have to eat them--I mean tell them--in regular order, and not put the
ice-cream in where the soup ought to be. So I'm not going to tell yet
why I suspect it was Mother that cut out that page of the paper with
Father's picture in it.
Well, the next morning was Father's lecture, and I went with Mother.
Of course Grandfather was there, too, but he was with the other
astronomers, I guess. Anyhow, he didn't sit with us. And Aunt Hattie
didn't go at all. So Mother and I were alone.
We sat back--a long ways back. I wanted to go up front, real far
front--the front seat, if I could get it; and I told Mother so. But
she said, "Mercy, no!" and shuddered, and went back two more rows from
where she was, and got behind a big post.
I guess she was afraid Father would see us, but that's what _I_
wanted. I wanted him to see us. I wanted him to be right in the middle
of his lecture and look down and see right there before him his little
girl Mary, and she that had been the wife of his bosom. Now _that_
would have been what I called thrilling, real thrilling, especially if
he jumped or grew red, or white, or stammered, or stopped short, or
anything to show that he'd seen us--and cared.
I'd have loved that.
But we sat back where Mother wanted to, behind the post. And, of
course, Father never saw us at all.
It was a lovely lecture. Oh, of course, I don't mean to say that I
understood it. I didn't. But his voice was fine, and he looked just
too grand for anything, with the light on his noble brow, and he used
the loveliest big words that I ever heard. And folks clapped, and
looked at each other, and nodded, and once or twice they laughed. And
when he was all through they clapped again, harder than ever. And I
was so proud of him I wanted to stand right up and holler, "He's my
father! He's my father!" just as loud as I could. But, of course, I
didn't. I just clapped like the rest; only I wished my hands were big
like the man's next to me, so I could have made more noise.
Another man spoke then, a little (not near so good as Father), and
then it was all over, and everybody got up to go; and I saw that a
lot of folks were crowding down the aisle, and I looked and there was
Father right in front of the platform shaking hands with folks.
I looked at Mother then. Her face was all pinky-white, and her eyes
were shining. I guess she thought I spoke, for all of a sudden she
shook her head and said:
"No, no, I couldn't, I couldn't! But _you_ may, dear. Run along and
speak to him; but don't stay. Remember, Mother is waiting, and come
I knew then that it must have been just my eyes that spoke, for I
_did_ want to go down there and speak to Father. Oh, I did want to go!
And I went then, of course.
He didn't see me at first. There was a long line of us, and a big fat
man was doing a lot of talking to him so we couldn't move at all, for
a time. Then it came to when I was just three people away from him.
And I was looking straight at him.
He saw me then. And, oh, how I did love the look that came to his
face; it was so surprised and glad, and said, "Oh! _You_!" in such a
perfectly lovely way that I choked all up and wanted to _cry_. (The
idea!--cry when I was so _glad_ to see him!)
I guess the two folks ahead of me didn't think they got much
attention, and the next minute he had drawn me out of the line, and we
were both talking at once, and telling each other how glad we were to
see each other.
But he was looking for Mother--I know he was; for the next minute
after he saw me, he looked right over my head at the woman back of me.
And all the while he was talking with me, his eyes would look at me
and then leap as swift as lightning first here, and then there, all
over the hall. But he didn't see her. I knew he didn't see her, by the
look on his face. And pretty quick I said I'd have to go. And then he
"Your mother--perhaps she didn't--_did_ she come?" And his face grew
all red and rosy as he asked the question.
And I said yes, and she was waiting, and that was why I had to go back
And he said, "Yes, yes, to be sure," and, "good-bye." But he still
held my hand tight, and his eyes were still roving all over the house.
And I had to tell him again that I really had to go; and I had to pull
real determined at my hand, before I could break away. And I don't
believe I could have gone even then if some other folks hadn't come up
at that minute.
I went back to Mother then. The hall was almost empty, and she wasn't
anywhere in sight at all; but I found her just outside the door. I
knew then why Father's face showed that he hadn't found her. She
wasn't there to find. I suspect she had looked out for that.
Her face was still pinky-white, and her eyes were shining; and she
wanted to know everything we had said--everything. So she found out,
of course, that he had asked if she was there. But she didn't say
anything herself, not anything. She didn't say anything, either, at
the luncheon table, when Grandfather was talking with Aunt Hattie
about the lecture, and telling some of the things Father had said.
Grandfather said it was an admirable address, scholarly and
convincing, or something like that. And he said that he thought Dr.
Anderson had improved greatly in looks and manner. And he looked
straight at Mother when he said that; but still Mother never said a
In the afternoon I went to walk with one of the girls; and when I came
in I couldn't find Mother. She wasn't anywhere downstairs, nor in her
room, nor mine, nor anywhere else on that floor. Aunt Hattie said no,
she wasn't out, but that she was sure she didn't know where she was.
She must be somewhere in the house.
I went upstairs then, another flight. There wasn't anywhere else to
go, and Mother must be _somewhere_, of course. And it seemed suddenly
to me as if I'd just _got_ to find her. I _wanted_ her so.
And I found her.
In the little back room where Aunt Hattie keeps her trunks and
moth-ball bags, Mother was on the floor in the corner crying. And when
I exclaimed out and ran over to her, I found she was sitting beside
an old trunk that was open; and across her lap was a perfectly lovely
pale-blue satin dress all trimmed with silver lace that had grown
black. And Mother was crying and crying as if her heart would break.
Of course, I tried and tried to stop her, and I begged her to tell me
what was the matter. But I couldn't do a thing, not a thing, not for
a long time. Then I happened to say what a lovely dress, only what a
pity it was that the lace was all black.
She gave a little choking cry then, and began to talk--little short
sentences all choked up with sobs, so that I could hardly tell what
she was talking about. Then, little by little, I began to understand.
She said yes, it was all black--tarnished; and that it was just like
everything that she had had anything to do with--tarnished: her
life and her marriage, and Father's life, and mine--everything was
tarnished, just like that silver lace on that dress. And she had done
it by her thoughtless selfishness and lack of self-discipline.
And when I tried and tried to tell her no, it wasn't, and that I
didn't feel tarnished a bit, and that she wasn't, nor Father either,
she only cried all the more, and shook her head and began again, all
She said this little dress was the one she wore at the big reception
where she first met Father. It was a beautiful blue then, all shining
and spotless, and the silver lace glistened like frost in the
sunlight. And she was so proud and happy when Father--and he was fine
and splendid and handsome then, too, she said--singled her out, and
just couldn't seem to stay away from her a minute all the evening. And
then four days later he asked her to marry him; and she was still more
proud and happy.
And she said their married life, when they started out, was just like
that beautiful dress, all shining and spotless and perfect; but that
it wasn't two months before a little bit of tarnish appeared, and then
another and another.
She said she was selfish and willful and exacting, and wanted Father
all to herself; and she didn't stop to think that he had his work to
do, and his place to make in the world; and that all of living, to
him, wasn't just in being married to her, and attending to her every
whim. She said she could see it all now, but that she couldn't then,
she was too young, and undisciplined, and she'd never been denied a
thing in the world she wanted. As she said that, right before my eyes
rose that box of chocolates she made me eat one at a time; but, of
course, I didn't say anything! Besides, Mother hurried right on
She said things went on worse and worse--and it was all her fault. She
grew sour and cross and disagreeable. She could see now that she did.
But she did not realize at all then what she was doing. She was just
thinking of herself--always herself; her rights, her wrongs, her hurt
feelings, her wants and wishes. She never once thought that _he_ had
rights and wrongs and hurt feelings, maybe.
And so the tarnish kept growing more and more. She said there was
nothing like selfishness to tarnish the beautiful fabric of married
life. (Isn't that a lovely sentence? I said that over and over to
myself so as to be sure and remember it, so I could get it into this
story. I thought it was beautiful.)
She said a lot more--oh, ever so much more; but I can't remember it
all. (I lost some while I was saying that sentence over and over, so
as to remember it.) I know that she went on to say that by and by the
tarnish began to dim the brightness of my life, too; and that was the
worst of all, she said--that innocent children should suffer, and
their young lives be spotted by the kind of living I'd had to have,
with this wretched makeshift of a divided home. She began to cry again
then, and begged me to forgive her, and I cried and tried to tell her
I didn't mind it; but, of course, I'm older now, and I know I do mind
it, though I'm trying just as hard as I can not to be Mary when I
ought to be Marie, or Marie when I ought to be Mary. Only I get all
mixed up so, lately, and I said so, and I guess I cried some more.
Mother jumped up then, and said, "Tut, tut," what was she thinking of
to talk like this when it couldn't do a bit of good, but only made
matters worse. And she said that only went to prove how she was still
keeping on tarnishing my happiness and bringing tears to my bright
eyes, when certainly nothing of the whole wretched business was my
She thrust the dress back into the trunk then, and shut the lid. Then
she took me downstairs and bathed my eyes and face with cold water,
and hers, too. And _she_ began to talk and laugh and tell stories, and
be gayer and jollier than I'd seen her for ever so long. And she was
that way at dinner, too, until Grandfather happened to mention the
reception to-morrow night, and ask if she was going.
She flushed up red then, oh, so red! and said, "Certainly not." Then
she added quick, with a funny little drawing-in of her breath, that
she should let Marie go, though, with her Aunt Hattie.
There was an awful fuss then. Aunt Hattie raised her eyebrows and
threw up her hands, and said:
"That child--in the evening! Why, Madge, are you crazy?"
And Mother said no, she wasn't crazy at all; but it was the only
chance Father would have to see me, and she didn't feel that she had
any right to deprive him of that privilege, and she didn't think it
would do me any harm to be out this once late in the evening. And she
intended to let me go.
Aunt Hattie still didn't approve, and she said more, quite a lot more;
but Grandfather spoke up and took my part, and said that, in his
opinion, Madge was right, quite right, and that it was no more than
fair that the man should have a chance to talk with his own child for
a little while, and that he would be very glad to take me himself and
look after me, if Aunt Hattie did not care to take the trouble.
Aunt Hattie bridled up at that, and said that that wasn't the case at
all; that she'd be very glad to look after me; and if Mother had quite
made up her mind that she wanted me to go, they'd call the matter
And Mother said she had, and so it was settled. And I'm going. I'm to
wear my new white dress with the pink rosebud trimming, and I'm so