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´╗┐Title: Mary Marie
Author: Porter, Eleanor H. (Eleanor Hodgman), 1868-1920
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary Marie" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Team.



MARY MARIE

BY

ELEANOR H. PORTER

_With Illustrations by Helen Mason Grose_

1920


TO MY FRIEND

ELIZABETH S. BOWEN



CONTENTS

PREFACE, WHICH EXPLAINS THINGS

I. I AM BORN

II. NURSE SARAH'S STORY

III. THE BREAK IS MADE

IV. WHEN I AM MARIE

V. WHEN I AM MARY

VI. WHEN I AM BOTH TOGETHER

VII. WHEN I AM NEITHER ONE

VIII. WHICH IS THE REAL LOVE STORY

IX. WHICH IS THE TEST



ILLUSTRATIONS

"IF I CONSULTED NO ONE'S WISHES BUT MY OWN, I
SHOULD KEEP HER HERE ALWAYS"

"I TOLD HER NOT TO WORRY A BIT ABOUT ME"

"WHY MUST YOU WAIT, DARLING?"

THEN I TOLD HIM MY IDEA.

From drawings by HELEN MASON GROSE



MARY MARIE



PREFACE

WHICH EXPLAINS THINGS


Father calls me Mary. Mother calls me Marie. Everybody else calls me
Mary Marie. The rest of my name is Anderson.

I'm thirteen years old, and I'm a cross-current and a contradiction.
That is, Sarah says I'm that. (Sarah is my old nurse.) She says she
read it once--that the children of unlikes were always a cross-current
and a contradiction. And my father and mother are unlikes, and I'm the
children. That is, I'm the child. I'm all there is. And now I'm going
to be a bigger cross-current and contradiction than ever, for I'm
going to live half the time with Mother and the other half with
Father. Mother will go to Boston to live, and Father will stay here--a
divorce, you know.

I'm terribly excited over it. None of the other girls have got a
divorce in their families, and I always did like to be different.
Besides, it ought to be awfully interesting, more so than just living
along, common, with your father and mother in the same house all the
time--especially if it's been anything like my house with my father
and mother in it!

That's why I've decided to make a book of it--that is, it really will
be a book, only I shall have to call it a diary, on account of Father,
you know. Won't it be funny when I don't have to do things on account
of Father? And I won't, of course, the six months I'm living with
Mother in Boston. But, oh, my!--the six months I'm living here with
him--whew! But, then, I can stand it. I may even like it--some.
Anyhow, it'll be _different_. And that's something.

Well, about making this into a book. As I started to say, he wouldn't
let me. I know he wouldn't. He says novels are a silly waste of time,
if not absolutely wicked. But, a diary--oh, he loves diaries! He keeps
one himself, and he told me it would be an excellent and instructive
discipline for me to do it, too--set down the weather and what I did
every day.

The weather and what I did every day, indeed! Lovely reading that
would make, wouldn't it? Like this:

"The sun shines this morning. I got up, ate my breakfast, went to
school, came home, ate my dinner, played one hour over to Carrie
Heywood's, practiced on the piano one hour, studied another hour.
Talked with Mother upstairs in her room about the sunset and the snow
on the trees. Ate my supper. Was talked _to_ by Father down in the
library about improving myself and taking care not to be light-minded
and frivolous. (He meant like Mother, only he didn't say it right out
loud. You don't have to say some things right out in plain words, you
know.) Then I went to bed."

       *       *       *       *       *

Just as if I was going to write my novel like that! Not much I am. But
I shall call it a diary. Oh, yes, I shall call it a diary--till I take
it to be printed. Then I shall give it its true name--a novel. And
I'm going to tell the printer that I've left it for him to make the
spelling right, and put in all those tiresome little commas and
periods and question marks that everybody seems to make such a fuss
about. If I write the story part, I can't be expected to be bothered
with looking up how words are spelt, every five minutes, nor fussing
over putting in a whole lot of foolish little dots and dashes.

As if anybody who was reading the story cared for that part! The
story's the thing.

I love stories. I've written lots of them for the girls, too--little
short ones, I mean; not a long one like this is going to be, of
course. And it'll be so exciting to be living a story instead of
reading it--only when you're _living_ a story you can't peek over to
the back to see how it's all coming out. I shan't like that part.
Still, it may be all the more exciting, after all, _not_ to know
what's coming.

I like love stories the best. Father's got--oh, lots of books in the
library, and I've read stacks of them, even some of the stupid old
histories and biographies. I had to read them when there wasn't
anything else to read. But there weren't many love stories. Mother's
got a few, though--lovely ones--and some books of poetry, on the
little shelf in her room. But I read all those ages ago.

That's why I'm so thrilled over this new one--the one I'm living, I
mean. For of course this will be a love story. There'll be _my_ love
story in two or three years, when I grow up, and while I'm waiting
there's Father's and Mother's.

Nurse Sarah says that when you're divorced you're free, just like you
were before you were married, and that sometimes they marry again.
That made me think right away: what if Father or Mother, or both
of them, married again? And I should be there to see it, and the
courting, and all! Wouldn't that be some love story? Well, I just
guess!

And only think how all the girls would envy me--and they just living
along their humdrum, everyday existence with fathers and mothers
already married and living together, and nothing exciting to look
forward to. For really, you know, when you come right down to it,
there _aren't_ many girls that have got the chance I've got.

And so that's why I've decided to write it into a book. Oh, yes, I
know I'm young--only thirteen. But I _feel_ really awfully old; and
you know a woman is as old as she feels. Besides, Nurse Sarah says I
am old for my age, and that it's no wonder, the kind of a life I've
lived.

And maybe that is so. For of course it _has_ been different, living
with a father and mother that are getting ready to be divorced from
what it would have been living with the loving, happy-ever-after kind.
Nurse Sarah says it's a shame and a pity, and that it's the children
that always suffer. But I'm not suffering--not a mite. I'm just
enjoying it. It's so exciting.

Of course if I was going to lose either one, it would be different.
But I'm not, for I am to live with Mother six months, then with
Father.

So I still have them both. And, really, when you come right down to
it, I'd _rather_ take them separate that way. Why, separate they're
just perfectly all right, like that--that--what-do-you-call-it
powder?--sedlitzer, or something like that. Anyhow, it's that white
powder that you mix in two glasses, and that looks just like water
till you put them together. And then, oh, my! such a fuss and fizz and
splutter! Well, it's that way with Father and Mother. It'll be lots
easier to take them separate, I know. For now I can be Mary six
months, then Marie six months, and not try to be them both all at
once, with maybe only five minutes between them.

And I think I shall love both Father and Mother better separate, too.
Of course I love Mother, and I know I'd just adore Father if he'd let
me--he's so tall and fine and splendid, when he's out among folks.
All the girls are simply crazy over him. And I am, too. Only, at
home--well, it's so hard to be Mary always. And you see, he named me
Mary--

But I mustn't tell that here. That's part of the story, and this
is only the Preface. I'm going to begin it to-morrow--the real
story--Chapter One.

But, there--I mustn't call it a "chapter" out loud. Diaries don't have
chapters, and this is a diary. I mustn't forget that it's a diary.
But I can write it down as a chapter, for it's _going to be_ a novel,
after it's got done being a diary.



CHAPTER I

I AM BORN


The sun was slowly setting in the west, casting golden beams of light
into the somber old room.

That's the way it ought to begin, I know, and I'd like to do it, but
I can't. I'm beginning with my being born, of course, and Nurse Sarah
says the sun wasn't shining at all. It was night and the stars were
out. She remembers particularly about the stars, for Father was in the
observatory, and couldn't be disturbed. (We never disturb Father when
he's there, you know.) And so he didn't even know he had a daughter
until the next morning when he came out to breakfast. And he was late
to that, for he stopped to write down something he had found out about
one of the consternations in the night.

He's always finding out _something_ about those old stars just when we
want him to pay attention to something else. And, oh, I forgot to say
that I know it is "constellation," and not "consternation." But I used
to call them that when I was a little girl, and Mother said it was a
good name for them, anyway, for they were a consternation to _her_ all
right. Oh, she said right off afterward that she didn't mean that,
and that I must forget she said it. Mother's always saying that about
things she says.

Well, as I was saying, Father didn't know until after breakfast that
he had a little daughter. (We never tell him disturbing, exciting
things just _before_ meals.) And then Nurse told him.

I asked what he said, and Nurse laughed and gave her funny little
shrug to her shoulders.

"Yes, what did he say, indeed?" she retorted. "He frowned, looked kind
of dazed, then muttered: 'Well, well, upon my soul! Yes, to be sure!'"

Then he came in to see me.

I don't know, of course, what he thought of me, but I guess he didn't
think much of me, from what Nurse said. Of course I was very, very
small, and I never yet saw a little bit of a baby that was pretty, or
looked as if it was much account. So maybe you couldn't really blame
him.

Nurse said he looked at me, muttered, "Well, well, upon my soul!"
again, and seemed really quite interested till they started to put me
in his arms. Then he threw up both hands, backed off, and cried, "Oh,
no, no!" He turned to Mother and hoped she was feeling pretty well,
then he got out of the room just as quick as he could. And Nurse said
that was the end of it, so far as paying any more attention to me was
concerned for quite a while.

He was much more interested in his new star than he was in his new
daughter. We were both born the same night, you see, and that star was
lots more consequence than I was. But, then, that's Father all over.
And that's one of the things, I think, that bothers Mother. I heard
her say once to Father that she didn't see why, when there were so
many, many stars, a paltry one or two more need to be made such a fuss
about. And _I_ don't, either.

But Father just groaned, and shook his head, and threw up his hands,
and looked _so_ tired. And that's all he said. That's all he says lots
of times. But it's enough. It's enough to make you feel so small
and mean and insignificant as if you were just a little green worm
crawling on the ground. Did you ever feel like a green worm crawling
on the ground? It's not a pleasant feeling at all.

Well, now, about the name. Of course they had to begin to talk about
naming me pretty soon; and Nurse said they did talk a lot. But they
couldn't settle it. Nurse said that that was about the first thing
that showed how teetotally utterly they were going to disagree about
things.

Mother wanted to call me Viola, after her mother, and Father wanted to
call me Abigail Jane after his mother; and they wouldn't either one
give in to the other. Mother was sick and nervous, and cried a lot
those days, and she used to sob out that if they thought they were
going to name her darling little baby that awful Abigail Jane, they
were very much mistaken; that she would never give her consent to
it--never. Then Father would say in his cold, stern way: "Very
well, then, you needn't. But neither shall I give my consent to
my daughter's being named that absurd Viola. The child is a human
being--not a fiddle in an orchestra!"

And that's the way it went, Nurse said, until everybody was just about
crazy. Then somebody suggested "Mary." And Father said, very well,
they might call me Mary; and Mother said certainly, she would consent
to Mary, only she should pronounce it Marie. And so it was settled.
Father called me Mary, and Mother called me Marie. And right away
everybody else began to call me Mary Marie. And that's the way it's
been ever since.

Of course, when you stop to think of it, it's sort of queer and funny,
though naturally I didn't think of it, growing up with it as I did,
and always having it, until suddenly one day it occurred to me that
none of the other girls had two names, one for their father, and one
for their mother to call them by. I began to notice other things then,
too. Their fathers and mothers didn't live in rooms at opposite ends
of the house. Their fathers and mothers seemed to like each other, and
to talk together, and to have little jokes and laughs together, and
twinkle with their eyes. That is, most of them did.

And if one wanted to go to walk, or to a party, or to play some game,
the other didn't always look tired and bored, and say, "Oh, very well,
if you like." And then both not do it, whatever it was. That is, I
never saw the other girls' fathers and mothers do that way; and I've
seen quite a lot of them, too, for I've been at the other girls'
houses a lot for a long time. You see, I don't stay at home much, only
when I have to. We don't have a round table with a red cloth and a
lamp on it, and children 'round it playing games and doing things, and
fathers and mothers reading and mending. And it's lots jollier where
they do have them.

Nurse says my father and mother ought never to have been married.
That's what I heard her tell our Bridget one day. So the first chance
I got I asked her why, and what she meant.

"Oh, la! Did you hear that?" she demanded, with the quick look over
her shoulder that she always gives when she's talking about Father and
Mother. "Well, little pitchers do have big ears, sure enough!"

"Little pitchers," indeed! As if I didn't know what that meant! I'm no
child to be kept in the dark concerning things I ought to know. And I
told her so, sweetly and pleasantly, but with firmness and dignity. I
made her tell me what she meant, and I made her tell me a lot of other
things about them, too. You see, I'd just decided to write the book,
so I wanted to know everything she could tell me. I didn't tell her
about the book, of course. I know too much to tell secrets to Nurse
Sarah! But I showed my excitement and interest plainly; and when she
saw how glad I was to hear everything she could tell, she talked a
lot, and really seemed to enjoy it, too.

You see, she was here when Mother first came as a bride, so she knows
everything. She was Father's nurse when he was a little boy; then she
stayed to take care of Father's mother, Grandma Anderson, who was an
invalid for a great many years and who didn't die till just after
I was born. Then she took care of me. So she's always been in the
family, ever since she was a young girl. She's awfully old now--'most
sixty.

First I found out how they happened to marry--Father and Mother, I'm
talking about now--only Nurse says she can't see yet how they did
happen to marry, just the same, they're so teetotally different.

But this is the story.

Father went to Boston to attend a big meeting of astronomers from all
over the world, and they had banquets and receptions where beautiful
ladies went in their pretty evening dresses, and my mother was one
of them. (Her father was one of the astronomers, Nurse said.) The
meetings lasted four days, and Nurse said she guessed my father saw
a lot of my mother during that time. Anyhow, he was invited to their
home, and he stayed another four days after the meetings were over.
The next thing they knew here at the house, Grandma Anderson had a
telegram that he was going to be married to Miss Madge Desmond, and
would they please send him some things he wanted, and he was going on
a wedding trip and would bring his bride home in about a month.

It was just as sudden as that. And surprising!--Nurse says a
thunderclap out of a clear blue sky couldn't have astonished them
more. Father was almost thirty years old at that time, and he'd
never cared a thing for girls, nor paid them the least little bit of
attention. So they supposed, of course, that he was a hopeless old
bachelor and wouldn't ever marry. He was bound up in his stars, even
then, and was already beginning to be famous, because of a comet he'd
discovered. He was a professor in our college here, where his father
had been president. His father had just died a few months before, and
Nurse said maybe that was one reason why Father got caught in the
matrimonial net like that. (Those are _her_ words, not mine. The
idea of calling my mother a net! But Nurse never did half appreciate
Mother.) But Father just worshipped his father, and they were always
together--Grandma being sick so much; and so when he died my father
was nearly beside himself, and that's one reason they were so anxious
he should go to that meeting in Boston. They thought it might take his
mind off himself, Nurse said. But they never thought of its putting
his mind on a wife!

So far as his doing it right up quick like that was concerned, Nurse
said that wasn't so surprising. For all the way up, if Father wanted
anything he insisted on having it, and having it right away then. He
never wanted to wait a minute. So when he found a girl he wanted, he
wanted her right then, without waiting a minute. He'd never happened
to notice a girl he wanted before, you see. But he'd found one now,
all right; and Nurse said there was nothing to do but to make the best
of it, and get ready for her.

There wasn't anybody to go to the wedding. Grandma Anderson was sick,
so of course she couldn't go, and Grandpa was dead, so of course he
couldn't go, and there weren't any brothers or sisters, only Aunt Jane
in St. Paul, and she was so mad she wouldn't come on. So there was no
chance of seeing the bride till Father brought her home.

Nurse said they wondered and wondered what kind of a woman it could be
that had captured him. (I told her I wished she _wouldn't_ speak of
my mother as if she was some kind of a hunter out after game; but
she only chuckled and said that's about what it amounted to in some
cases.) The very idea!

The whole town was excited over the affair, and Nurse Sarah heard a
lot of their talk. Some thought she was an astronomer like him. Some
thought she was very rich, and maybe famous. Everybody declared she
must know a lot, anyway, and be wonderfully wise and intellectual; and
they said she was probably tall and wore glasses, and would be thirty
years old, at least. But nobody guessed anywhere near what she really
was.

Nurse Sarah said she should never forget the night she came, and how
she looked, and how utterly flabbergasted everybody was to see her--a
little slim eighteen-year-old girl with yellow curly hair and the
merriest laughing eyes they had ever seen. (Don't I know? Don't I
just love Mother's eyes when they sparkle and twinkle when we're off
together sometimes in the woods?) And Nurse said Mother was so excited
the day she came, and went laughing and dancing all over the house,
exclaiming over everything. (I can't imagine that so well. Mother
moves so quietly now, everywhere, and is so tired, 'most all the
time.) But she wasn't tired then, Nurse says--not a mite.

"But how did Father act?" I demanded. "Wasn't he displeased and
scandalized and shocked, and everything?"

Nurse shrugged her shoulders and raised her eyebrows--the way she does
when she feels particularly superior. Then she said:

"Do? What does any old fool--beggin' your pardon an' no offense meant,
Miss Mary Marie--but what does any man do what's got bejuggled with a
pretty face, an' his senses completely took away from him by a chit of
a girl? Well, that's what he did. He acted as if he was bewitched. He
followed her around the house like a dog--when he wasn't leadin' her
to something new; an' he never took his eyes off her face except to
look at us, as much as to say: 'Now ain't she the adorable creature?'"

"My father did that?" I gasped. And, really, you know, I just couldn't
believe my ears. And you wouldn't, either, if you knew Father. "Why,
_I_ never saw him act like that!"

"No, I guess you didn't," laughed Nurse Sarah with a shrug. "And
neither did anybody else--for long."

"But how long did it last?" I asked.

"Oh, a month, or maybe six weeks," shrugged Nurse Sarah. "Then it came
September and college began, and your father had to go back to his
teaching. Things began to change then."

"Right then, so you could see them?" I wanted to know.

Nurse Sarah shrugged her shoulders again.

"Oh, la! child, what a little question-box you are, an' no mistake,"
she sighed. But she didn't look mad--not like the way she does when
I ask why she can take her teeth out and most of her hair off and I
can't; and things like that. (As if I didn't know! What does she take
me for--a child?) She didn't even look displeased--Nurse Sarah _loves_
to talk. (As if I didn't know that, too!) She just threw that quick
look of hers over her shoulder and settled back contentedly in her
chair. I knew then I should get the whole story. And I did. And I'm
going to tell it here in her own words, just as well as I can remember
it--bad grammar and all. So please remember that I am not making all
those mistakes. It's Nurse Sarah.

I guess, though, that I'd better put it into a new chapter. This
one is yards long already. How _do_ they tell when to begin and
end chapters? I'm thinking it's going to be some job, writing this
book--diary, I mean. But I shall love it, I know. And this is a _real_
story--not like those made-up things I've always written for the girls
at school.



CHAPTER II

NURSE SARAH'S STORY


And this is Nurse Sarah's story.

As I said, I'm going to tell it straight through as near as I can in
her own words. And I can remember most of it, I think, for I paid very
close attention.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Well, yes, Miss Mary Marie, things did begin to change right there
an' then, an' so you could notice it. _We_ saw it, though maybe your
pa an' ma didn't, at the first.

"You see, the first month after she came, it was vacation time, an' he
could give her all the time she wanted. An' she wanted it all. An' she
took it. An' he was just as glad to give it as she was to take it. An'
so from mornin' till night they was together, traipsin' all over the
house an' garden, an' trampin' off through the woods an' up on the
mountain every other day with their lunch.

"You see she was city-bred, an' not used to woods an' flowers growin'
wild; an' she went crazy over them. He showed her the stars, too,
through his telescope; but she hadn't a mite of use for them, an'
let him see it good an' plain. She told him--I heard her with my own
ears--that his eyes, when they laughed, was all the stars she wanted;
an' that she'd had stars all her life for breakfast an' luncheon
an' dinner, anyway, an' all the time between; an' she'd rather have
somethin' else, now--somethin' alive, that she could love an' live
with an' touch an' play with, like she could the flowers an' rocks an'
grass an' trees.

"Angry? Your pa? Not much he was! He just laughed an' caught her
'round the waist an' kissed her, an' said she herself was the
brightest star of all. Then they ran off hand in hand, like two kids.
An' they _was_ two kids, too. All through those first few weeks your
pa was just a great big baby with a new plaything. Then when college
began he turned all at once into a full-grown man. An' just naturally
your ma didn't know what to make of it.

"He couldn't explore the attic an' rig up in the old clothes there any
more, nor romp through the garden, nor go lunchin' in the woods, nor
none of the things _she_ wanted him to do. He didn't have time. An'
what made things worse, one of them comet-tails was comin' up in the
sky, an' your pa didn't take no rest for watchin' for it, an' then
studyin' of it when it got here.

"An' your ma--poor little thing! I couldn't think of anything but a
doll that was thrown in the corner because somebody'd got tired of
her. She _was_ lonesome, an' no mistake. Anybody'd be sorry for her,
to see her mopin' 'round the house, nothin' to do. Oh, she read, an'
sewed with them bright-colored silks an' worsteds; but 'course there
wasn't no real work for her to do. There was good help in the kitchen,
an' I took what care of your grandma was needed; an' she always gave
her orders through me, so I practically run the house, an' there
wasn't anything _there_ for her to do.

"An' so your ma just had to mope it out alone. Oh, I don't mean your
pa was unkind. He was always nice an' polite, when he was in the
house, an' I'm sure he meant to treat her all right. He said yes, yes,
to be sure, of course she was lonesome, an' he was sorry. 'T was too
bad he was so busy. An' he kissed her an' patted her. But he always
began right away to talk of the comet; an' ten to one he didn't
disappear into the observatory within the next five minutes. Then your
ma would look so grieved an' sorry an' go off an' cry, an' maybe not
come down to dinner, at all.

"Well, then, one day things got so bad your grandma took a hand. She
was up an' around the house, though she kept mostly to her own rooms.
But of course she saw how things was goin'. Besides, I told her--some.
'T was no more than my duty, as I looked at it. She just worshipped
your pa, an' naturally she'd want things right for him. So one day she
told me to tell her son's wife to come to her in her room.

"An' I did, an' she came. Poor little thing! I couldn't help bein'
sorry for her. She didn't know a thing of what was wanted of her, an'
she was so glad an' happy to come. You see, she _was_ lonesome, I
suppose.

"'Me? Want me?--Mother Anderson?' she cried. 'Oh, I'm so glad!' Then
she made it worse by runnin' up the stairs an' bouncin' into the room
like a rubber ball, an' cryin': 'Now, what shall I do, read to you, or
sing to you, or shall we play games? I'd _love_ to do any of them!'
Just like that, she said it. I heard her. Then I went out, of course,
an' left them. But I heard 'most everything that was said, just the
same, for I was right in the next room dustin', and the door wasn't
quite shut.

"First your grandmother said real polite--she was always polite--but
in a cold little voice that made even me shiver in the other room,
that she did not desire to be read to or sung to, and that she did not
wish to play games. She had called her daughter-in-law in to have a
serious talk with her. Then she told her, still very polite, that she
was noisy an' childish, an' undignified, an' that it was not only
silly, but very wrong for her to expect to have her husband's entire
attention; that he had his own work, an' it was a very important one.
He was going to be president of the college some day, like his
father before him; an' it was her place to help him in every way she
could--help him to be popular an' well-liked by all the college people
an' students; an' he couldn't be that if she insisted all the time on
keepin' him to herself, or lookin' sour an' cross if she couldn't have
him.

"Of course that ain't all she said; but I remember this part
particular on account of what happened afterward. You see--your
ma--she felt awful bad. She cried a little, an' sighed a lot, an' said
she'd try, she really would try to help her husband in every way she
could; an' she wouldn't ask him another once, not once, to stay with
her. An' she wouldn't look sour an' cross, either. She'd promise she
wouldn't. An' she'd try, she'd try, oh, so hard, to be proper an'
dignified.

"She got up then an' went out of the room so quiet an' still you
wouldn't know she was movin'. But I heard her up in her room cryin'
half an hour later, when I stopped a minute at her door to see if she
was there. An' she was.

"But she wasn't cryin' by night. Not much she was! She'd washed her
face an' dressed herself up as pretty as could be, an' she never so
much as looked as if she wanted her husband to stay with her, when
he said right after supper that he guessed he'd go out to the
observatory. An' 't was that way right along after that. I know,
'cause I watched. You see, I knew what she'd _said_ she'd do. Well,
she did it.

"Then, pretty quick after that, she began to get acquainted in the
town. Folks called, an' there was parties an' receptions where she
met folks, an' they began to come here to the house, 'specially them
students, an' two or three of them young, unmarried professors. An'
she began to go out a lot with them--skatin' an' sleigh-ridin' an'
snowshoein'.

"Like it? Of course she liked it! Who wouldn't? Why, child, you never
saw such a fuss as they made over your ma in them days. She was all
the rage; an' of course she liked it. What woman wouldn't, that was
gay an' lively an' young, an' had been so lonesome like your ma had?
But some other folks didn't like it. An' your pa was one of them. This
time 't was him that made the trouble. I know, 'cause I heard what he
said one day to her in the library.

"Yes, I guess I was in the next room that day, too--er--dustin',
probably. Anyway, I heard him tell your ma good an' plain what he
thought of her gallivantin' 'round from mornin' till night with them
young students an' professors, an' havin' them here, too, such a lot,
till the house was fairly overrun with them. He said he was shocked
an' scandalized, an' didn't she have any regard for _his_ honor an'
decency, if she didn't for herself! An', oh, a whole lot more.

"Cry? No, your ma didn't cry this time. I met her in the hall right
after they got through talkin', an' she was white as a sheet, an' her
eyes was like two blazin' stars. So I know how she must have looked
while she was in the library. An' I must say she give it to him good
an' plain, straight from the shoulder. She told him _she_ was shocked
an' scandalized that he could talk to his wife like that; an' didn't
he have any more regard for _her_ honor and decency than to accuse her
of runnin' after any man living--much less a dozen of them! An' then
she told him a lot of what his mother had said to her, an' she said
she had been merely tryin' to carry out those instructions. She was
tryin' to make her husband and her husband's wife an' her husband's
home popular with the college folks, so she could help him to be
president, if he wanted to be. But he answered back, cold an' chilly,
that he thanked her, of course, but he didn't care for any more of
that kind of assistance; an' if she would give a little more time
to her home an' her housekeepin', as she ought to, he would be
considerably better pleased. An' she said, very well, she would see
that he had no further cause to complain. An' the next minute I met
her in the hall, as I just said, her head high an' her eyes blazin'.

"An' things did change then, a lot, I'll own. Right away she began to
refuse to go out with the students an' young professors, an' she sent
down word she wasn't to home when they called. And pretty quick, of
course, they stopped comin'.

"Housekeepin'? Attend to that? Well, y-yes, she did try to at first,
a little; but of course your grandma had always given the
orders--through me, I mean; an' there really wasn't anything your ma
could do. An' I told her so, plain. Her ways were new an' different
an' queer, an' we liked ours better, anyway. So she didn't bother
us much that way very long. Besides, she wasn't feelin' very well,
anyway, an' for the next few months she stayed in her room a lot, an'
we didn't see much of her. Then by an' by _you_ came, an'--well, I
guess that's all--too much, you little chatterbox!"



CHAPTER III

THE BREAK IS MADE


And that's the way Nurse Sarah finished her story, only she shrugged
her shoulders again, and looked back, first one way, then another. As
for her calling me "chatterbox"--she always calls me that when _she's_
been doing all the talking.

As near as I can remember, I have told Nurse Sarah's story exactly as
she told it to me, in her own words. But of course I know I didn't
get it right all the time, and I know I've left out quite a lot. But,
anyway, it's told a whole lot more than _I_ could have told why they
got married in the first place, and it brings my story right up to the
point where I was born; and I've already told about naming me, and
what a time they had over that.

Of course what's happened since, up to now, I don't know _all_ about,
for I was only a child for the first few years. Now I'm almost a young
lady, "standing with reluctant feet where the brook and river meet."
(I read that last night. I think it's perfectly beautiful. So kind of
sad and sweet. It makes me want to cry every time I think of it.) But
even if I don't know all of what's happened since I was born, I know
a good deal, for I've seen quite a lot, and I've made Nurse tell me a
lot more.

I know that ever since I can remember I've had to keep as still as a
mouse the minute Father comes into the house; and I know that I never
could imagine the kind of a mother that Nurse tells about, if it
wasn't that sometimes when Father has gone off on a trip, Mother and
I have romped all over the house, and had the most beautiful time.
I know that Father says that Mother is always trying to make me a
"Marie," and nothing else; and that Mother says she knows Father'll
never be happy until he's made me into a stupid little "Mary," with
never an atom of life of my own. And, do you know? it does seem
sometimes, as if Mary and Marie were fighting inside of me, and I
wonder which is going to beat. Funny, isn't it?

Father is president of the college now, and I don't know how many
stars and comets and things he's discovered since the night the star
and I were born together. But I know he's very famous, and that he's
written up in the papers and magazines, and is in the big fat red
"Who's Who" in the library, and has lots of noted men come to see him.

Nurse says that Grandma Anderson died very soon after I was born, but
that it didn't make any particular difference in the housekeeping; for
things went right on just as they had done, with her giving the orders
as before; that she'd given them all alone anyway, mostly, the last
year Grandma Anderson lived, and she knew just how Father liked
things. She said Mother tried once or twice to take the reins herself,
and once Nurse let her, just to see what would happen. But things got
in an awful muddle right away, so that even Father noticed it and said
things. After that Mother never tried again, I guess. Anyhow, she's
never tried it since I can remember. She's always stayed most of the
time up in her rooms in the east wing, except during meals, or when
she went out with me, or went to the things she and Father had to go
to together. For they did go to lots of things, Nurse says.

It seems that for a long time they didn't want folks to know there was
going to be a divorce. So before folks they tried to be just as usual.
But Nurse Sarah said _she_ knew there was going to be one long ago.
The first I ever heard of it was Nurse telling Nora, the girl we had
in the kitchen then; and the minute I got a chance I asked Nurse what
it was--a divorce.

My, I can remember now how scared she looked, and how she clapped her
hand over my mouth. She wouldn't tell me--not a word. And that's
the first time I ever saw her give that quick little look over each
shoulder. She's done it lots of times since.

As I said, she wouldn't tell me, so I had to ask some one else. I
wasn't going to let it go by and not find out--not when Nurse Sarah
looked so scared, and when it was something my father and mother were
going to have some day.

I didn't like to ask Mother. Some way, I had a feeling, from the way
Nurse Sarah looked, that it was something Mother wasn't going to like.
And I thought if maybe she didn't know yet she was going to have it,
that certainly _I_ didn't want to be the one to tell her. So I didn't
ask Mother what a divorce was.

I didn't even think of asking Father, of course. I never ask Father
questions. Nurse says I did ask him once why he didn't love me like
other papas loved their little girls. But I was very little then, and
I don't remember it at all. But Nurse said Father didn't like it very
well, and maybe I _did_ remember that part, without really knowing it.
Anyhow, I never think of asking Father questions.

I asked the doctor first. I thought maybe 't was some kind of a
disease, and if he knew it was coming, he could give them some sort
of a medicine to keep it away--like being vaccinated so's not to have
smallpox, you know. And I told him so.

He gave a funny little laugh, that somehow didn't sound like a laugh
at all. Then he grew very, very sober, and said:

"I'm sorry, little girl, but I'm afraid I haven't got any medicine
that will prevent--a divorce. If I did have, there'd be no eating or
drinking or sleeping for me, I'm thinking--I'd be so busy answering my
calls."

"Then it _is_ a disease!" I cried. And I can remember just how
frightened I felt. "But isn't there any doctor anywhere that _can_
stop it?"

He shook his head and gave that queer little laugh again.

"I'm afraid not," he sighed. "As for it's being a disease--there are
people that call it a disease, and there are others who call it a
cure; and there are still others who say it's a remedy worse than the
disease it tries to cure. But, there, you baby! What am I saying?
Come, come, my dear, just forget it. It's nothing you should bother
your little head over now. Wait till you're older."

Till I'm older, indeed! How I hate to have folks talk to me like that!
And they do--they do it all the time. As if I was a child now, when
I'm almost standing there where the brook and river meet!

But that was just the kind of talk I got, everywhere, nearly every
time I asked any one what a divorce was. Some laughed, and some
sighed. Some looked real worried 'cause I'd asked it, and one got mad.
(That was the dressmaker. I found out afterward that she'd _had_ a
divorce already, so probably she thought I asked the question on
purpose to plague her.) But nobody would answer me--really answer me
sensibly, so I'd know what it meant; and 'most everybody said, "Run
away, child," or "You shouldn't talk of such things," or, "Wait, my
dear, till you're older"; and all that.

Oh, how I hate such talk when I really want to know something! How
do they expect us to get our education if they won't answer our
questions?

I don't know which made me angriest--I mean angrier. (I'm speaking of
two things, so I must, I suppose. I hate grammar!) To have them talk
like that--not answer me, you know--or have them do as Mr. Jones, the
storekeeper, did, and the men there with him.

It was one day when I was in there buying some white thread for Nurse
Sarah, and it was a little while after I had asked the doctor if a
divorce was a disease. Somebody had said something that made me think
you could buy divorces, and I suddenly determined to ask Mr. Jones if
he had them for sale. (Of course all this sounds very silly to me now,
for I know that a divorce is very simple and very common. It's just
like a marriage certificate, only it _un_marries you instead of
marrying you; but I didn't know it then. And if I'm going to tell this
story I've got to tell it just as it happened, of course.)

Well, I asked Mr. Jones if you could buy divorces, and if he had them
for sale; and you ought to have heard those men laugh. There were six
of them sitting around the stove behind me.

"Oh, yes, my little maid" (above all things I abhor to be called a
little maid!) one of them cried. "You can buy them if you've got money
enough; but I don't reckon our friend Jones here has got them for
sale."

Then they all laughed again, and winked at each other. (That's another
disgusting thing--_winks_ when you ask a perfectly civil question! But
what can you do? Stand it, that's all. There's such a lot of things
we poor women have to stand!) Then they quieted down and looked
very sober--the kind of sober you know is faced with laughs in the
back--and began to tell me what a divorce really was. I can't remember
them all, but I can some of them. Of course I understand now that
these men were trying to be smart, and were talking for each other,
not for me. And I knew it then--a little. We know a lot more things
sometimes than folks think we do. Well, as near as I can remember it
was like this:

"A divorce is a knife that cuts a knot that hadn't ought to ever been
tied," said one.

"A divorce is a jump in the dark," said another.

"No, it ain't. It's a jump from the frying-pan into the fire," piped
up Mr. Jones.

"A divorce is the comedy of the rich and the tragedy of the poor,"
said a little man who wore glasses.

"Divorce is a nice smushy poultice that may help but won't heal," cut
in a new voice.

"Divorce is a guidepost marked, 'Hell to Heaven,' but lots of folks
miss the way, just the same, I notice," spoke up somebody with a
chuckle.

"Divorce is a coward's retreat from the battle of life." Captain
Harris said this. He spoke slow and decided. Captain Harris is old and
rich and not married. He's the hotel's star boarder, and what he says,
goes, 'most always. But it didn't this time. I can remember just how
old Mr. Carlton snapped out the next.

"Speak from your own experience, Tom Harris, an' I'm thinkin' you
ain't fit ter judge. I tell you divorce is what three fourths of the
husbands an' wives in the world wish was waitin' for 'em at home this
very night. But it ain't there." I knew, of course, he was thinking of
his wife. She's some cross, I guess, and has two warts on her nose.

There was more, quite a lot more, said. But I've forgotten the rest.
Besides, they weren't talking to me then, anyway. So I picked up my
thread and slipped out of the store, glad to escape. But, as I said
before, I didn't find many like them.

Of course I know now--what divorce is, I mean. And it's all settled.
They granted us some kind of a decree or degree, and we're going to
Boston next Monday.

It's been awful, though--this last year. First we had to go to that
horrid place out West, and stay ages and ages. And I hated it. Mother
did, too. I know she did. I went to school, and there were quite a lot
of girls my age, and some boys; but I didn't care much for them. I
couldn't even have the fun of surprising them with the divorce we were
going to have. I found _they_ were going to have one, too--every last
one of them. And when everybody has a thing, you know there's no
particular fun in having it yourself. Besides, they were very unkind
and disagreeable, and bragged a lot about their divorces. They said
mine was tame, and had no sort of snap to it, when they found Mother
didn't have a lover waiting in the next town, or Father hadn't run off
with his stenographer, or nobody had shot anybody, or anything.

That made me mad, and I let them see it, good and plain. I told them
our divorce was perfectly all right and genteel and respectable; that
Nurse Sarah said it was. Ours was going to be incompatibility, for
one thing, which meant that you got on each other's nerves, and just
naturally didn't care for each other any more. But they only laughed,
and said even more disagreeable things, so that I didn't want to go
to school any longer, and I told Mother so, and the reason, too, of
course.

But, dear me, I wished right off that I hadn't. I supposed she was
going to be superb and haughty and disdainful, and say things that
would put those girls where they belonged. But, my stars! How could I
know that she was going to burst into such a storm of sobs and clasp
me to her bosom, and get my face all wet and cry out: "Oh, my baby, my
baby--to think I have subjected you to this, my baby, my baby!"

And I couldn't say a thing to comfort her, or make her stop, even when
I told her over and over again that I wasn't a baby. I was almost a
young lady; and I wasn't being subjected to anything bad. I _liked_
it--only I didn't like to have those girls brag so, when our divorce
was away ahead of theirs, anyway.

But she only cried more and more, and held me tighter and tighter,
rocking back and forth in her chair. She took me out of school,
though, and had a lady come to teach me all by myself, so I didn't
have to hear those girls brag any more, anyway. That was better. But
she wasn't any happier herself. I could see that.

There were lots of other ladies there--beautiful ladies--only she
didn't seem to like them any better than I did the girls. I wondered
if maybe _they_ bragged, too, and I asked her; but she only began to
cry again, and moan, "What have I done, what have I done?"--and I had
to try all over again to comfort her. But I couldn't.

She got so she just stayed in her room lots and lots. I tried to make
her put on her pretty clothes, and do as the other ladies did, and go
out and walk and sit on the big piazzas, and dance, and eat at the
pretty little tables. She did, some, when we first came, and took
me, and I just loved it. They were such beautiful ladies, with their
bright eyes, and their red cheeks and jolly ways; and their dresses
were so perfectly lovely, all silks and satins and sparkly spangles,
and diamonds and rubies and emeralds, and silk stockings, and little
bits of gold and silver slippers.

And once I saw two of them smoking. They had the cutest little
cigarettes (Mother said they were) in gold holders, and I knew then
that I was seeing life--real life; not the stupid kind you get back in
a country town like Andersonville. And I said so to Mother; and I was
going to ask her if Boston was like that. But I didn't get the chance.
She jumped up so quick I thought something had hurt her, and cried,
"Good Heavens, Baby!" (How I hate to be called "Baby"!) Then she just
threw some money on to the table to pay the bill and hurried me away.

It was after that that she began to stay in her room so much, and not
take me anywhere except for walks at the other end of the town where
it was all quiet and stupid, and no music or lights, or anything. And
though I teased and teased to go back to the pretty, jolly places, she
wouldn't ever take me; not once.

Then by and by, one day, we met a little black-haired woman with white
cheeks and very big sad eyes. There weren't any spangly dresses and
gold slippers about _her_, I can tell you! She was crying on a bench
in the park, and Mother told me to stay back and watch the swans while
she went up and spoke to her. (Why do old folks always make us watch
swans or read books or look into store windows or run and play all
the time? Don't they suppose we understand perfectly well what it
means--that they're going to say something they don't want us to
hear?) Well, Mother and the lady on the bench talked and talked ever
so long, and then Mother called me up, and the lady cried a little
over me, and said, "Now, perhaps, if I'd had a little girl like
that--!" Then she stopped and cried some more.

We saw this lady real often after that. She was nice and pretty and
sweet, and I liked her; but she was always awfully sad, and I don't
believe it was half so good for Mother to be with her as it would have
been for her to be with those jolly, laughing ladies that were always
having such good times. But I couldn't make Mother see it that way at
all. There are times when it seems as if Mother just _couldn't_ see
things the way I do. Honestly, it seems sometimes almost as if _she_
was the cross-current and contradiction instead of me. It does.

Well, as I said before, I didn't like it very well out there, and I
don't believe Mother did, either. But it's all over now, and we're
back home packing up to go to Boston.

Everything seems awfully queer. Maybe because Father isn't here,
for one thing. He wrote very polite and asked us to come to get our
things, and he said he was going to New York on business for several
days, so Mother need not fear he should annoy her with his presence.
Then, another thing, Mother's queer. This morning she was singing away
at the top of her voice and running all over the house picking up
things she wanted; and seemed so happy. But this afternoon I found her
down on the floor in the library crying as if her heart would break
with her head in Father's big chair before the fireplace. But she
jumped up the minute I came in and said, no, no, she didn't want
anything. She was just tired; that's all. And when I asked her if she
was sorry, after all, that she was going to Boston to live, she said,
no, no, no, indeed, she guessed she wasn't. She was just as glad as
glad could be that she was going, only she wished Monday would hurry
up and come so we could be gone.

And that's all. It's Saturday now, and we go just day after to-morrow.
Our trunks are 'most packed, and Mother says she wishes she'd planned
to go to-day. I've said good-bye to all the girls, and promised to
write loads of letters about Boston and everything. They are almost as
excited as I am; and I've promised, "cross my heart and hope to die,"
that I won't love those Boston girls better than I do them--specially
Carrie Heywood, of course, my dearest friend.

Nurse Sarah is hovering around everywhere, asking to help, and
pretending she's sorry we're going. But she isn't sorry. She's glad.
I know she is. She never did appreciate Mother, and she thinks she'll
have everything her own way now. But she won't. _I_ could tell her a
thing or two if I wanted to. But I shan't.

Father's sister, Aunt Jane Anderson, from St. Paul, is coming to keep
house for him, partly on account of Father, and partly on account of
me. "If that child is going to be with her father six months of the
time, she's got to have some woman there beside a meddling old nurse
and a nosey servant girl!" They didn't know I heard that. But I did.
And now Aunt Jane is coming. My! how mad Nurse Sarah would be if she
knew. But she doesn't.

I guess I'll end this chapter here and begin a fresh one down in
Boston. Oh, I do so wonder what it'll be like--Boston, Mother's home,
Grandpa Desmond, and all the rest. I'm so excited I can hardly wait.
You see, Mother never took me home with her but once, and then I was a
very small child. I don't know why, but I guess Father didn't want me
to go. It's safe to say he didn't, anyway. He never wants me to do
anything, hardly. That's why I suspect him of not wanting me to go
down to Grandpa Desmond's. And Mother didn't go only once, in ages.

Now this will be the end. And when I begin again it will be in Boston.
Only think of it--really, truly Boston!



CHAPTER IV

WHEN I AM MARIE


BOSTON.

Yes, I'm here. I've been here a week. But this is the first minute
I've had a chance to write a word. I've been so busy just being here.
And so has Mother. There's been such a lot going on since we came. But
I'll try now to begin at the beginning and tell what happened.

Well, first we got into Boston at four o'clock Monday afternoon, and
there was Grandpa Desmond to meet us. He's lovely--tall and dignified,
with grayish hair and merry eyes like Mother's, only his are behind
glasses. At the station he just kissed Mother and me and said he was
glad to see us, and led us to the place where Peter was waiting with
the car. (Peter drives Grandpa's automobile, and _he's_ lovely, too.)

Mother and Grandpa talked very fast and very lively all the way home,
and Mother laughed quite a lot. But in the hall she cried a little,
and Grandpa patted her shoulder, and said, "There, there!" and told
her how glad he was to get his little girl back, and that they were
going to be very happy now and forget the past. And Mother said, yes,
yes, indeed, she knew she was; and she was _so_ glad to be there,
and that everything _was_ going to be just the same, wasn't it?
Only--then, all of a sudden she looked over at me and began to cry
again--only, of course, things couldn't be "just the same," she
choked, hurrying over to me and putting both arms around me, and
crying harder than ever.

Then Grandpa came and hugged us both, and patted us, and said, "There,
there!" and pulled off his glasses and wiped them very fast and very
hard.

But it wasn't only a minute or two before Mother was laughing again,
and saying, "Nonsense!" and "The idea!" and that this was a pretty way
to introduce her little Marie to her new home! Then she hurried me to
the dearest little room I ever saw, right out of hers, and took off my
things. Then we went all over the house. And it's just as lovely as
can be--not at all like Father's in Andersonville.

Oh, Father's is fine and big and handsome, and all that, of course;
but not like this. His is just a nice place to eat and sleep in, and
go to when it rains. But this--this you just want to live in all the
time. Here there are curtains 'way up and sunshine, and flowers in
pots, and magazines, and cozy nooks with cushions everywhere; and
books that you've just been reading laid down. (_All_ Father's books
are in bookcases, _always_, except while one's in your hands being
read.)

Grandpa's other daughter, Mother's sister, Hattie, lives here and
keeps house for Grandpa. She has a little boy named Lester, six years
old; and her husband is dead. They were away for what they called a
week-end when we came, but they got here a little after we did Monday
afternoon; and they're lovely, too.

The house is a straight-up-and-down one with a back and front, but no
sides except the one snug up to you on the right and left. And there
isn't any yard except a little bit of a square brick one at the back
where they have clothes and ash barrels, and a little grass spot in
front at one side of the steps, not big enough for our old cat to
take a nap in, hardly. But it's perfectly lovely inside; and it's
the insides of houses that really count just as it is the insides
of people--their hearts, I mean; whether they're good and kind, or
hateful and disagreeable.

We have dinner at night here, and I've been to the theater twice
already in the afternoon. I've got to go to school next week, Mother
says, but so far I've just been having a good time. And so's Mother.
Honestly, it has just seemed as if Mother couldn't crowd the days full
enough. She hasn't been still a minute.

Lots of her old friends have been to see her; and when there hasn't
been anybody else around she's taken Peter and had him drive us all
over Boston to see things;--all kinds of things; Bunker Hill and
museums, and moving pictures, and one play.

But we didn't stay at the play. It started out all right, but pretty
soon a man and a woman on the stage began to quarrel. They were
married (not really, but in the play, I mean), and I guess it was some
more of that incompatibility stuff. Anyhow, as they began to talk
more and more, Mother began to fidget, and pretty soon I saw she was
gathering up our things; and the minute the curtain went down after
the first act, she says:

"Come, dear, we're going home. It--it isn't very warm here."

As if I didn't know what she was really leaving for! Do old folks
honestly think they are fooling us all the time, I wonder? But even if
I hadn't known then, I'd have known it later, for that evening I heard
Mother and Aunt Hattie talking in the library.

No, I didn't listen. I _heard_. And that's a very different matter.
You listen when you mean to, and that's sneaking. You hear when you
can't help yourself, and that you can't be blamed for. Sometimes it's
your good luck, and sometimes it's your bad luck--just according to
what you hear!

Well, I was in the window-seat in the library reading when Mother and
Aunt Hattie came in; and Mother was saying:

"Of course I came out! Do you suppose I'd have had that child see that
play, after I realized what it was? As if she hasn't had enough of
such wretched stuff already in her short life! Oh, Hattie, Hattie, I
want that child to laugh, to sing, to fairly tingle with the joy of
living every minute that she is with me. I know so well what she _has_
had, and what she will have--in that--tomb. You know in six months she
goes back--"

Mother saw me then, I know; for she stopped right off short, and after
a moment began to talk of something else, very fast. And pretty quick
they went out into the hall again.

Dear little Mother! Bless her old heart! Isn't she the ducky dear to
want me to have all the good times possible now so as to make up for
the six months I've got to be with Father? You see, she knows what it
is to live with Father even better than I do.

Well, I guess she doesn't dread it for me any more than I do for
myself. Still, I'll have the girls there, and I'm dying to see them
again--and I won't have to stay home much, only nights and meals, of
course, and Father's always pretty busy with his stars and comets and
things. Besides, it's only for six months, then I can come back to
Boston. I can keep thinking of that.

But I know now why I've been having such a perfectly beautiful time
all this week, and why Mother has been filling every minute so full of
fun and good times. Why, even when we're at home here, she's always
hunting up little Lester and getting him to have a romp with us.

But of course next week I've got to go to school, and it can't be
quite so jolly then. Well, I guess that's all for this time.

       *       *       *       *       *

_About a month later_.

I didn't make a chapter of that last. It wasn't long enough. And,
really, I don't know as I've got much to add to it now. There's
nothing much happened.

I go to school now, and don't have so much time for fun. School is
pretty good, and there are two or three girls 'most as nice as the
ones at Andersonville. But not quite. Out of school Mother keeps
things just as lively as ever, and we have beautiful times. Mother is
having a lovely time with her own friends, too. Seems as if there is
always some one here when I get home, and lots of times there are teas
and parties, and people to dinner.

There are gentlemen, too. I suppose one of them will be Mother's lover
by and by; but of course I don't know which one yet. I'm awfully
interested in them, though. And of course it's perfectly natural that
I should be. Wouldn't _you_ be interested in the man that was going to
be your new father? Well, I just guess you would! Anybody would. Why,
most folks have only one father, you know, and they have to take that
one just as he is; and it's all a matter of chance whether they get
one that's cross or pleasant; or homely or fine and grand-looking; or
the common kind you can hug and kiss and hang round his neck, or the
stand-off-don't-touch-me-I-mustn't-be-disturbed kind like mine. I mean
the one I _did_ have. But, there! that doesn't sound right, either;
for of course he's still my father just the same, only--well, he isn't
Mother's husband any more, so I suppose he's only my father by order
of the court, same as I'm his daughter.

Well, anyhow, he's the father I've grown up with, and of course I'm
used to him now. And it's an altogether different matter to think of
having a brand-new father thrust upon you, all ready-made, as you
might say, and of course I _am_ interested. There's such a whole lot
depends on the father. Why, only think how different things would have
been at home if _my_ father had been different! There were such a lot
of things I had to be careful not to do--and just as many I had to be
careful _to_ do--on account of Father.

And so now, when I see all these nice young gentlemen (only they
aren't all young; some of them are quite old) coming to the house and
talking to Mother, and hanging over the back of her chair, and handing
her tea and little cakes, I can't help wondering which, if any, is
going to be her lover and my new father. And I am also wondering what
I'll have to do on account of him when I get him, if I get him.

There are quite a lot of them, and they're all different. They'd make
very different kinds of fathers, I'm sure, and I'm afraid I wouldn't
like some of them. But, after all, it's Mother that ought to settle
which to have--not me. _She's_ the one to be pleased. 'T would be such
a pity to have to change again. Though she could, of course, same as
she did Father, I suppose.

As I said, they're all different. There are only two that are anywhere
near alike, and they aren't quite the same, for one's a lawyer and the
other's in a bank. But they both carry canes and wear tall silk hats,
and part their hair in the middle, and look at you through the kind of
big round eyeglasses with dark rims that would make you look awfully
homely if they didn't make you look so stylish. But I don't think
Mother cares very much for either the lawyer or the bank man, and I'm
glad. I wouldn't like to live with those glasses every day, even if
they are stylish. I'd much rather have Father's kind.

Then there's the man that paints pictures. He's tall and slim, and
wears queer ties and long hair. He's always standing back and looking
at things with his head on one side, and exclaiming "Oh!" and "Ah!"
with a long breath. He says Mother's coloring is wonderful. I heard
him. And I didn't like it very well, either. Why, it sounded as if
she put it on herself out of a box on her bureau, same as some other
ladies do! Still, he's not so bad, maybe; though I'm not sure but what
his paints and pictures would be just as tiresome to live with as
Father's stars, when it came right down to wanting a husband to live
with you and talk to you every day in the year. You know you have to
think of such things when it comes to choosing a new father--I mean
a new husband. (I keep forgetting that it's Mother and not me that's
doing the choosing.)

Well, to resume and go on. There's the violinist. I mustn't forget
him. But, then, nobody could forget him. He's lovely: so handsome and
distinguished-looking with his perfectly beautiful dark eyes and white
teeth. And he plays--well, I'm simply crazy over his playing. I only
wish Carrie Heywood could hear him. She thinks her brother can play.
He's a traveling violinist with a show; and he came home once to
Andersonville. And I heard him. But he's not the real thing at all.
Not a bit. Why, he might be anybody, our grocer, or the butcher, up
there playing that violin. His eyes are little and blue, and his hair
is red and very short. I wish she could hear _our_ violinist play!

And there's another man that comes to the parties and teas;--oh, of
course there are others, lots of them, married men with wives, and
unmarried men with and without sisters. But I mean another man
specially. His name is Harlow. He's a little man with a brown pointed
beard and big soft brown eyes. He's really awfully good-looking, too.
I don't know what he does do; but he's married. I know that. He never
brings his wife, though; but Mother's always asking for her, clear and
distinct, and she always smiles, and her voice kind of tinkles like
little silver bells. But just the same he never brings her.

He never takes her anywhere. I heard Aunt Hattie tell Mother so at the
very first, when he came. She said they weren't a bit happy together,
and that there'd probably be a divorce before long. But Mother asked
for her just the same the very next time. And she's done it ever
since.

I think I know now why she does. I found out, and I was simply
thrilled. It was so exciting! You see, they were lovers once
themselves--Mother and this Mr. Harlow. Then something happened and
they quarreled. That was just before Father came.

Of course Mother didn't tell me this, nor Aunt Hattie. It was two
ladies. I heard them talking at a tea one day. I was right behind
them, and I couldn't get away, so I just couldn't help hearing what
they said.

They were looking across the room at Mother. Mr. Harlow was talking to
her. He was leaning forward in his chair and talking so earnestly to
Mother; and he looked just as if he thought there wasn't another soul
in the room but just they two. But Mother--Mother was just listening
to be polite to company. Anybody could see that. And the very first
chance she got she turned and began to talk to a lady who was standing
near. And she never so much as looked toward Mr. Harlow again.

The ladies in front of me laughed then, and one of them said, with a
little nod of her head, "I guess Madge Desmond Anderson can look out
for herself all right."

Then they got up and went away without seeing me. And all of a sudden
I felt almost sorry, for I wanted them to see me. I wanted them to see
that I knew my mother could take care of herself, too, and that I was
proud of it. If they had turned I'd have said so. But they didn't
turn.

I shouldn't like Mr. Harlow for a father. I know I shouldn't. But
then, there's no danger, of course, even if he and Mother were lovers
once. He's got a wife now, and even if he got a divorce, I don't
believe Mother would choose him.

But of course there's no telling which one she will take. As I said
before, I don't know. It's too soon, anyway, to tell. I suspect it
isn't any more proper to hurry up about getting married again when
you've been _un_married by a divorce than it is when you've been
unmarried by your husband's dying. I asked Peter one day how soon
folks did get married after a divorce, but he didn't seem to know.
Anyway, all he said was to stammer: "Er--yes, Miss--no, Miss. I mean,
I don't know, Miss."

Peter is awfully funny. But he's nice. I like him, only I can't find
out much by him. He's very good-looking, though he's quite old. He's
almost thirty. He told me. I asked him. He takes me back and forth to
school every day, so I see quite a lot of him. And, really, he's
about the only one I _can_ ask questions of here, anyway. There isn't
anybody like Nurse Sarah used to be. Olga, the cook, talks so funny I
can't understand a word she says, hardly. Besides, the only two times
I've been down to the kitchen Aunt Hattie sent for me; and she told
me the last time not to go any more. She didn't say why. Aunt Hattie
never says _why_ not to do things. She just says, "Don't." Sometimes
it seems to me as if my whole life had been made up of "don'ts."
If they'd only tell us part of the time things to "_do_," maybe we
wouldn't have so much time to do the "_don'ts_." (That sounds funny,
but I guess folks'll know what I mean.)

Well, what was I saying? Oh, I know--about asking questions. As I
said, there isn't anybody like Nurse Sarah here. I can't understand
Olga, and Theresa, the other maid, is just about as bad. Aunt Hattie's
lovely, but I can't ask questions of her. She isn't the kind. Besides,
Lester's always there, too; and you can't discuss family affairs
before children. Of course there's Mother and Grandpa Desmond. But
questions like when it's proper for Mother to have lovers I can't ask
of _them_, of course. So there's no one but Peter left to ask. Peter's
all right and very nice, but he doesn't seem to know _anything_ that I
want to know. So he doesn't amount to so very much, after all.

I'm not sure, anyway, that Mother'll want to get married again. From
little things she says I rather guess she doesn't think much of
marriage, anyway. One day I heard her say to Aunt Hattie that it was
a very pretty theory that marriages were made in heaven, but that the
real facts of the case were that they were made on earth. And another
day I heard her say that one trouble with marriage was that the
husband and wife didn't know how to play together and to rest
together. And lots of times I've heard her say little things to Aunt
Hattie that showed how unhappy _her_ marriage had been.

But last night a funny thing happened. We were all in the library
reading after dinner, and Grandpa looked up from his paper and said
something about a woman that was sentenced to be hanged and how a
whole lot of men were writing letters protesting against having a
woman hanged; but there were only one or two letters from women. And
Grandpa said that only went to prove how much more lacking in a sense
of fitness of things women were than men. And he was just going to say
more when Aunt Hattie bristled up and tossed her chin, and said, real
indignantly:

"A sense of fitness of things, indeed! Oh, yes, that's all very well
to say. There are plenty of men, no doubt, who are shocked beyond
anything at the idea of hanging a woman; but those same men will think
nothing of going straight home and making life for some other woman so
absolutely miserable that she'd think hanging would be a lucky escape
from something worse."

"Harriet!" exclaimed Grandpa in a shocked voice.

"Well, I mean it!" declared Aunt Hattie emphatically. "Look at poor
Madge here, and that wretch of a husband of hers!"

And just here is where the funny thing happened. Mother bristled
up--_Mother_--and even more than Aunt Hattie had. She turned red and
then white, and her eyes blazed.

"That will do, Hattie, please, in my presence," she said, very cold,
like ice. "Dr. Anderson is not a wretch at all. He is an honorable,
scholarly gentleman. Without doubt he meant to be kind and
considerate. He simply did not understand me. We weren't suited to
each other. That's all."

And she got up and swept out of the room.

Now wasn't that funny? But I just loved it, all the same. I always
love Mother when she's superb and haughty and disdainful.

Well, after she had gone Aunt Hattie looked at Grandpa and Grandpa
looked at Aunt Hattie. Grandpa shrugged his shoulders, and gave his
hands a funny little flourish; and Aunt Hattie lifted her eyebrows and
said:

"Well, what do you know about that?" (Aunt Hattie forgot I was in the
room, I know, or she'd never in the world have used slang like that!)
"And after all the things she's said about how unhappy she was!"
finished Aunt Hattie.

Grandpa didn't say anything, but just gave his funny little shrug
again.

And it was kind of queer, when you come to think of it--about Mother,
I mean, wasn't it?

       *       *       *       *       *

_One month later_.

Well, I've been here another whole month, and it's growing nicer all
the time. I just love it here. I love the sunshine everywhere, and the
curtains up to let it in. And the flowers in the rooms, and the little
fern-dish on the dining-room table, the books and magazines just lying
around ready to be picked up; Baby Lester laughing and singing all
over the house, and lovely ladies and gentlemen in the drawing-room
having music and tea and little cakes when I come home from school
in the afternoon. And I love it not to have to look up and watch and
listen for fear Father's coming in and I'll be making a noise. And
best of all I love Mother with her dancing eyes and her laugh, and her
just being happy, with no going in and finding her crying or looking
long and fixedly at nothing, and then turning to me with a great big
sigh, and a "Well, dear?" that just makes you want to go and cry
because it's so hurt and heart-broken. Oh, I do just love it all!

And Mother _is_ happy. I'm sure she is. Somebody is doing something
for her every moment--seems so. They are so glad to get her back
again. I know they are. I heard two ladies talking one day, and they
said they were. They called her "Poor Madge," and "Dear Madge," and
they said it was a shame that she should have had such a wretched
experience, and that they for one should try to do everything they
could to make her forget.

And that's what they all seem to be trying to do--to make her forget.
There isn't a day goes by but that somebody sends flowers or books
or candy, or invites her somewhere, or takes her to ride or to the
theater, or comes to see her, so that Mother is in just one whirl of
good times from morning till night. Why, she'd just have to forget.
She doesn't have any time to remember. I think she _is_ forgetting,
too. Oh, of course she gets tired, and sometimes rainy days or
twilights I find her on the sofa in her room not reading or anything,
and her face looks 'most as it used to sometimes after they'd been
having one of their incompatibility times. But I don't find her that
way very often, and it doesn't last long. So I really think she is
forgetting.

About the prospective suitors--I found that "prospective suitor" in a
story a week ago, and I just love it. It means you probably will want
to marry her, you know. I use it all the time now--in my mind--when
I'm thinking about those gentlemen that come here (the unmarried
ones). I forgot and used it out loud one day to Aunt Hattie; but I
shan't again. She said, "Mercy!" and threw up her hands and looked
over to Grandpa the way she does when I've said something she thinks
is perfectly awful.

But I was firm and dignified--but very polite and pleasant--and I said
that I didn't see why she should act like that, for of course they
were prospective suitors, the unmarried ones, anyway, and even some of
the married ones, maybe, like Mr. Harlow, for of course they could get
divorces, and--

"Ma_rie_!" interrupted Aunt Hattie then, before I could say another
word, or go on to explain that of course Mother couldn't be expected
to stay unmarried _always_, though I was very sure she wouldn't
get married again until she'd waited long enough, and until it was
perfectly proper and genteel for her to take unto herself another
husband.

But Aunt Hattie wouldn't even listen. And she threw up her hands and
said "Ma_rie_!" again with the emphasis on the last part of the name
the way I simply loathe. And she told me never, never to let her
hear me make such a speech as that again. And I said I would be very
careful not to. And you may be sure I shall. I don't want to go
through a scene like that again!

She told Mother about it, though, I think. Anyhow, they were talking
very busily together when they came into the library after dinner that
night, and Mother looked sort of flushed and plagued, and I heard her
say, "Perhaps the child does read too many novels, Hattie."

And Aunt Hattie answered, "Of course she does!" Then she said
something else which I didn't catch, only the words "silly" and
"romantic," and "pre-co-shus." (I don't know what that last means, but
I put it down the way it sounded, and I'm going to look it up.)

Then they turned and saw me, and they didn't say anything more. But
the next morning the perfectly lovely story I was reading, that
Theresa let me take, called "The Hidden Secret," I couldn't find
anywhere. And when I asked Mother if she'd seen it, she said she'd
given it back to Theresa, and that I mustn't ask for it again. That I
wasn't old enough yet to read such stories.

There it is again! I'm not old enough. When _will_ I be allowed to
take my proper place in life? Echo answers when.

Well, to resume and go on.

What was I talking about? Oh, I know--the prospective suitors. (Aunt
Hattie can't hear me when I just _write_ it, anyway.) Well, they all
come just as they used to, only there are more of them now--two fat
men, one slim one, and a man with a halo of hair round a bald spot.
Oh, I don't mean that any of them are really suitors yet. They just
come to call and to tea, and send her flowers and candy. And Mother
isn't a mite nicer to one than she is to any of the others. Anybody
can see that. And she shows very plainly she's no notion of picking
anybody out yet. But of course I can't help being interested and
watching.

It won't be Mr. Harlow, anyway. I'm pretty sure of that, even if he
has started in to get his divorce. (And he has. I heard Aunt Hattie
tell Mother so last week.) But Mother doesn't like him. I'm sure she
doesn't. He makes her awfully nervous. Oh, she laughs and talks with
him--seems as if she laughs even more with him than she does with
anybody else. But she's always looking around for somebody else to
talk to; and I've seen her get up and move off just as he was coming
across the room toward her, and I'm just sure she saw him. There's
another reason, too, why I think Mother isn't going to choose him for
her lover. I heard something she said to him one day.

She was sitting before the fire in the library, and he came in. There
were other people there, quite a lot of them; but Mother was all alone
by the fireplace, her eyes looking fixed and dreamy into the fire. I
was in the window-seat around the corner of the chimney reading; and
I could see Mother in the mirror just as plain as could be. She could
have seen me, too, of course, if she'd looked up. But she didn't.

I never even thought of hearing anything I hadn't ought, and I was
just going to get down to go and speak to Mother myself, when Mr.
Harlow crossed the room and sat down on the sofa beside her.

"Dreaming, Madge?" he said, low and soft, his soulful eyes just
devouring her lovely face. (I read that, too, in a book last week. I
just loved it!)

Mother started and flushed up.

"Oh, Mr. Harlow!" she cried. (Mother always calls him "Mr." That's
another thing. He always calls her "Madge," you know.) "How do you
do?" Then she gave her quick little look around to see if there wasn't
somebody else near for her to talk to. But there wasn't.

"But you _do_ dream, of the old days, sometimes, Madge, don't you?" he
began again, soft and low, leaning a little nearer.

"Of when I was a child and played dolls before this very fireplace?
Well, yes, perhaps I do," laughed Mother. And I could see she drew
away a little. "There was one doll with a broken head that--"

"_I_ was speaking of broken hearts," interrupted Mr. Harlow, very
meaningfully.

"Broken hearts! Nonsense! As if there were such things in the world!"
cried Mother, with a little toss to her head, looking around again
with a quick little glance for some one else to talk to.

But still there wasn't anybody there.

They were all over to the other side of the room talking, and paying
no attention to Mother and Mr. Harlow, only the violinist. He looked
and looked, and acted nervous with his watch-chain. But he didn't come
over. I felt, some way, that I ought to go away and not hear any
more; but I couldn't without showing them that I had been there. So
I thought it was better to stay just where I was. They could see me,
anyway, if they'd just look in the mirror. So I didn't feel that I was
sneaking. And I stayed.

Then Mr. Harlow spoke again. His eyes grew even more soulful and
devouring. I could see them in the mirror.

"Madge, it seems so strange that we should both have had to trail
through the tragedy of broken hearts and lives before we came to our
real happiness. For we _shall_ be happy, Madge. You know I'm to be
free, too, soon, dear, and then we--"

But he didn't finish. Mother put up her hand and stopped him. Her face
wasn't flushed any more. It was very white.

"Carl," she began in a still, quiet voice, and I was so thrilled. I
knew something was going to happen--this time she'd called him by his
first name. "I'm sorry," she went on. "I've tried to show you. I've
tried very hard to show you--without speaking. But if you make me say
it I shall have to say it. Whether you are free or not matters not to
me. It can make no difference in our relationship. Now, will you come
with me to the other side of the room, or must I be so rude as to go
and leave you?"

She got up then, and he got up, too. He said something--I couldn't
hear what it was; but it was sad and reproachful--I'm sure of that by
the look in his eyes. Then they both walked across the room to the
others.

I was sorry for him. I do not want him for a father, but I couldn't
help being sorry for him, he looked so sad and mournful and handsome;
and he's got perfectly beautiful eyes. (Oh, I do hope mine will have
nice eyes, when I find him!)

As I said before, I don't believe Mother'll choose Mr. Harlow, anyway,
even when the time comes. As for any of the others--I can't tell. She
treats them all just exactly alike, as far as I can see. Polite and
pleasant, but not at all lover-like. I was talking to Peter one day
about it, and I asked him. But he didn't seem to know, either, which
one she will be likely to take, if any.

Peter's about the only one I can ask. Of course I couldn't ask
Mother, or Aunt Hattie, after what _she_ said about my calling them
prospective suitors. And Grandfather--well, I should never think
of asking Grandpa a question like that. But Peter--Peter's a real
comfort. I'm sure I don't know what I should do for somebody to talk
to and ask questions about things down here, if it wasn't for him. As
I think I've said already, he takes me to school and back again every
day; so of course I see him quite a lot.

Speaking of school, it's all right, and of course I like it, though
not quite so well as I did. There are some of the girls--well, they
act queer. I don't know what is the matter with them. They stop
talking--some of them--when I come up, and they make me feel,
sometimes, as if I didn't _belong_. Maybe it's because I came from a
little country town like Andersonville. But they've known that all
along, from the very first. And they didn't act at all like that at
the beginning. Maybe it's just their way down here. If I think of it
I'll ask Peter to-morrow.

Well, I guess that's all I can think of this time.

       *       *       *       *       *

'_Most four months later_.

It's been ages since I've written here, I know. But there's nothing
special happened. Everything has been going along just about as it did
at the first. Oh, there is one thing different--Peter's gone. He went
two months ago. We've got an awfully old chauffeur now. One with gray
hair and glasses, and homely, too. His name is Charles. The very first
day he came, Aunt Hattie told me never to talk to Charles, or bother
him with questions; that it was better he should keep his mind
entirely on his driving.

She needn't have worried. I should never dream of asking him the
things I did Peter. He's too stupid. Now Peter and I got to be real
good friends--until all of a sudden Grandpa told him he might go. I
don't know why.

I don't see as I'm any nearer finding out who Mother's lover will be
than I was four months ago. I suppose it's still too soon. Peter
said one day he thought widows ought to wait at least a year, and he
guessed grass-widows were just the same. My, how mad I was at him for
using that name about my mother! Oh, I knew what he meant. I'd heard
it at school. (I know now what it was that made those girls act so
queer and horrid.) There was a girl--I never liked her, and I suspect
she didn't like me, either. Well, she found out Mother had a divorce.
(You see, _I_ hadn't told it. I remembered how those girls out West
bragged.) And she told a lot of the others. But it didn't work at all
as it had in the West. None of the girls in this school here had a
divorce in their families; and, if you'll believe it, they acted--some
of them--as if it was a _disgrace_, even after I told them good and
plain that ours was a perfectly respectable and genteel divorce.
Nothing I could say made a mite of difference, with some of the
girls, and then is when I first heard that perfectly horrid word,
"grass-widow." So I knew what Peter meant, though I was furious at him
for using it. And I let him see it good and plain.

Of course I changed schools. I knew Mother'd want me to, when she
knew, and so I told her right away. I thought she'd be superb and
haughty and disdainful sure this time. But she wasn't. First she grew
so white I thought she was going to faint away. Then she began to cry,
and kiss and hug me. And that night I heard her talking to Aunt Hattie
and saying, "To think that that poor innocent child has to suffer,
too!" and some more which I couldn't hear, because her voice was all
choked up and shaky.

Mother is crying now again quite a lot. You see, her six months are
'most up, and I've got to go back to Father. And I'm afraid Mother is
awfully unhappy about it. She had a letter last week from Aunt Jane,
Father's sister. I heard her read it out loud to Aunt Hattie and
Grandpa in the library. It was very stiff and cold and dignified, and
ran something like this:

    DEAR MADAM: Dr. Anderson desires me to say that he trusts you are
    bearing in mind the fact that, according to the decision of the
    court, his daughter Mary is to come to him on the first day of
    May. If you will kindly inform him as to the hour of her expected
    arrival, he will see that she is properly met at the station.

Then she signed her name, Abigail Jane Anderson. (She was named for
her mother, Grandma Anderson, same as Father wanted them to name
me. Mercy! I'm glad they didn't. "Mary" is bad enough, but "Abigail
Jane"--!)

Well, Mother read the letter aloud, then she began to talk about
it--how she felt, and how awful it was to think of giving me up six
whole months, and sending her bright little sunny-hearted Marie into
that tomb-like place with only an Abigail Jane to flee to for refuge.
And she said that she almost wished Nurse Sarah was back again--that
she, at least, was human.

"'And see that she's properly met,' indeed!" went on Mother, with an
indignant little choke in her voice. "Oh, yes, I know! Now if it were
a star or a comet that he expected, he'd go himself and sit for hours
and hours watching for it. But when his daughter comes, he'll send
John with the horses, like enough, and possibly that precious Abigail
Jane of his. Or, maybe that is too much to expect. Oh, Hattie, I can't
let her go--I can't, I can't!"

I was in the window-seat around the corner of the chimney, reading;
and I don't know as she knew I was there. But I was, and I heard. And
I've heard other things, too, all this week.

I'm to go next Monday, and as it comes nearer the time Mother's
getting worse and worse. She's so unhappy over it. And of course that
makes me unhappy, too. But I try not to show it. Only yesterday, when
she was crying and hugging me, and telling me how awful it was that
her little girl should have to suffer, too, I told her not to worry
a bit about me; that I wasn't suffering at all. I _liked_ it. It was
ever so much more exciting to have two homes instead of one. But she
only cried all the more, and sobbed, "Oh, my baby, my baby!"--so
nothing I could say seemed to do one mite of good.

But I meant it, and I told the truth. I _am_ excited. And I can't help
wondering how it's all going to be at Father's. Oh, of course, I know
it won't be so much fun, and I'll have to be "Mary," and all that;
but it'll be something _different_, and I always did like different
things. Besides, there's Father's love story to watch. Maybe _he's_
found somebody. Maybe he didn't wait a year. Anyhow, if he did find
somebody I'm sure he wouldn't be so willing to wait as Mother would.
You know Nurse Sarah said Father never wanted to wait for anything.
That's why he married Mother so quick, in the first place. But if
there is somebody, of course I'll find out when I'm there. So that'll
be interesting. And, anyway, there'll be the girls. I shall have
_them_.

[Illustration: "I TOLD HER NOT TO WORRY A BIT ABOUT ME"]

I'll close now, and make this the end of the chapter. It'll be
Andersonville next time.



CHAPTER V

WHEN I AM MARY


ANDERSONVILLE.

Well, here I am. I've been here two days now, and I guess I'd better
write down what's happened so far, before I forget it.

First, about my leaving Boston. Poor, dear Mother did take on
dreadfully, and I thought she just wouldn't let me go. She went with
me to the junction where I had to change, and put me on the parlor car
for Andersonville, and asked the conductor to look out for me. (As
if I needed that--a young lady like me! I'm fourteen now. I had a
birthday last week.)

But I thought at the last that she just wouldn't let me go, she clung
to me so, and begged me to forgive her for all she'd brought upon me;
and said it was a cruel, cruel shame, when there were children, and
people ought to stop and think and remember, and be willing to stand
anything. And then, in the next breath, she'd beg me not to forget
her, and not to love Father better than I did her. (As if there was
any danger of that!) And to write to her every few minutes.

Then the conductor cried, "All aboard!" and the bell rang, and she
had to go and leave me. But the last I saw of her she was waving her
handkerchief, and smiling the kind of a smile that's worse than crying
right out loud. Mother's always like that. No matter how bad she
feels, at the last minute she comes up bright and smiling, and just as
brave as can be.

I had a wonderful trip to Andersonville. Everybody was very kind to
me, and there were lovely things to see out the window. The conductor
came in and spoke to me several times--not the way you would look
after a child, but the way a gentleman would tend to a lady. I liked
him very much.

There was a young gentleman in the seat in front, too, who was very
nice. He loaned me a magazine, and bought some candy for me; but I
didn't see much more of him, for the second time the conductor came in
he told me he'd found a nice seat back in the car on the shady side.
He noticed the sun came in where I sat, he said. (_I_ hadn't noticed
it specially.) But he picked up my bag and magazine--but I guess he
forgot the candy-box the nice young gentleman in front had just put
on my window-sill, for when I got into my new seat the candy wasn't
anywhere; and of course I didn't like to go back for it. But the
conductor was very nice and kind, and came in twice again to see if I
liked my new seat; and of course I said I did. It was very nice and
shady, and there was a lady and a baby in the next seat, and I played
with the baby quite a lot.

It was heaps of fun to be grown up and traveling alone like that! I
sat back in my seat and wondered and wondered what the next six months
were going to be like. And I wondered, too, if I'd forgotten how to be
"Mary."

"Dear me! How shall I ever remember not to run and skip and laugh loud
or sing, or ask questions, or do _anything_ that Marie wants to do?" I
thought to myself.

And I wondered if Aunt Jane would meet me, and what she would be like.
She came once when I was a little girl, Mother said; but I didn't
remember her.

Well, at last we got to Andersonville. John was there with the horses,
and Aunt Jane, too. Of course I knew she must be Aunt Jane, because
she was with John. The conductor was awfully nice and polite, and
didn't leave me till he'd seen me safe in the hands of Aunt Jane and
John. Then he went back to his train, and the next minute it had
whizzed out of the station, and I was alone with the beginning of my
next six months.

The first beginning was a nice smile, and a "Glad to see ye home,
Miss," from John, as he touched his hat, and the next was a "How do
you do, Mary?" from Aunt Jane. And I knew right off that first minute
that I wasn't going to like Aunt Jane--just the way she said that
"Mary," and the way she looked me over from head to foot.

Aunt Jane is tall and thin, and wears black--not the pretty, stylish
black, but the "I-don't-care" rusty black--and a stiff white collar.
Her eyes are the kind that says, "I'm surprised at you!" all the time,
and her mouth is the kind that never shows any teeth when it smiles,
and doesn't smile much, anyway. Her hair is some gray, and doesn't
kink or curl anywhere; and I knew right off the first minute she
looked at me that she didn't like mine, 'cause it did curl.

I was pretty sure she didn't like my clothes, either. I've since found
out she didn't--but more of that anon. (I just love that word "anon.")
And I just knew she disapproved of my hat. But she didn't say
anything--not in words--and after we'd attended to my trunk, we went
along to the carriage and got in.

My stars! I didn't suppose horses _could_ go so slow. Why, we were
_ages_ just going a block. You see I'd forgotten; and without thinking
I spoke right out.

"My! Horses _are_ slow, aren't they?" I cried. "You see, Grandpa has
an auto, and--"

"Mary!"--just like that she interrupted--Aunt Jane did. (Funny how
old folks can do what they won't let you do. Now if I'd interrupted
anybody like that!) "You may as well understand at once," went on Aunt
Jane, "that we are not interested in your grandfather's auto, or his
house, or anything that is his." (I felt as if I was hearing the
catechism in church!) "And that the less reference you make to your
life in Boston, the better we shall be pleased. As I said before, we
are not interested. Besides, while under your father's roof, it would
seem to me very poor taste, indeed, for you to make constant reference
to things you may have been doing while _not_ under his roof. The
situation is deplorable enough, however you take it, without making it
positively unbearable. You will remember, Mary?"

Mary said, "Yes, Aunt Jane," very polite and proper; but I can tell
you that inside of Mary, _Marie_ was just boiling.

Unbearable, indeed!

We didn't say anything more all the way home. Naturally, _I_ was not
going to, after that speech; and Aunt Jane said nothing. So silence
reigned supreme.

Then we got home. Things looked quite natural, only there was a new
maid in the kitchen, and Nurse Sarah wasn't there. Father wasn't
there, either. And, just as I suspected, 't was a star that was to
blame, only this time the star was the moon--an eclipse; and he'd gone
somewhere out West so he could see it better.

He isn't coming back till next week; and when I think how he made me
come on the first day, so as to get in the whole six months, when all
the time he did not care enough about it to be here himself, I'm just
mad--I mean, the righteously indignant kind of mad--for I can't help
thinking how poor Mother would have loved those extra days with her.

Aunt Jane said I was to have my old room, and so, as soon as I got
here, I went right up and took off my hat and coat, and pretty quick
they brought up my trunk, and I unpacked it; and I didn't hurry about
it either. I wasn't a bit anxious to get downstairs again to Aunt
Jane. Besides, I may as well own up, I was crying--a little. Mother's
room was right across the hall, and it looked so lonesome; and I
couldn't help remembering how different this homecoming was from the
one in Boston, six months ago.

Well, at last I had to go down to dinner--I mean supper--and, by the
way, I made another break on that. I _called_ it dinner right out
loud, and never thought--till I saw Aunt Jane's face.

"_Supper_ will be ready directly," she said, with cold and icy
emphasis. "And may I ask you to remember, Mary, please, that
Andersonville has dinner at _noon_, not at six o'clock."

"Yes, Aunt Jane," said Mary, polite and proper again. (I shan't say
what Marie said inside.)

We didn't do anything in the evening but read and go to bed at nine
o'clock. I _wanted_ to run over to Carrie Heywood's; but Aunt Jane
said no, not till morning. (I wonder why young folks _never_ can do
things when they _want_ to do them, but must always wait till morning
or night or noon, or some other time!)

In the morning I went up to the schoolhouse. I planned it so as to get
there at recess, and I saw all the girls except one that was sick, and
one that was away. We had a perfectly lovely time, only everybody
was talking at once so that I don't know now what was said. But they
seemed glad to see me. I know that. Maybe I'll go to school next week.
Aunt Jane says she thinks I ought to, when it's only the first of May.
She's going to speak to Father when he comes next week.

She was going to speak to him about my clothes; then she decided to
attend to those herself, and not bother him. As I suspected, she
doesn't like my dresses. I found out this morning for sure. She came
into my room and asked to see my things. My! But didn't I hate to show
them to her? Marie said she wouldn't; but Mary obediently trotted to
the closet and brought them out one by one.

Aunt Jane turned them around with the tips of her fingers, all the
time sighing and shaking her head. When I'd brought them all out,
she shook her head again and said they would not do at all--not in
Andersonville; that they were extravagant, and much too elaborate for
a young girl; that she would see the dressmaker and arrange that I had
some serviceable blue and brown serges at once.

Blue and brown serge, indeed! But, there, what's the use? I'm Mary
now, I keep forgetting that; though I don't see how I can forget
it--with Aunt Jane around.

But, listen. A funny thing happened this morning. Something came
up about Boston, and Aunt Jane asked me a question. Then she asked
another and another, and she kept me talking till I guess I talked
'most a whole half-hour about Grandpa Desmond, Aunt Hattie, Mother,
and the house, and what we did, and, oh, a whole lot of things. And
here, just two days ago, she was telling me that she wasn't interested
in Grandpa Desmond, his home, or his daughter, or anything that was
his!

There's something funny about Aunt Jane.

       *       *       *       *       *

_One week later_.

Father's come. He came yesterday. But I didn't know it, and I came
running downstairs, ending with a little bounce for the last step. And
there, right in front of me in the hall was--_Father_.

I guess he was as much surprised as I was. Anyhow, he acted so. He
just stood stock-still and stared, his face turning all kinds of
colors.

"You?" he gasped, just above his breath. Then suddenly he seemed to
remember. "Why, yes, yes, to be sure. You are here, aren't you? How do
you do, Mary?"

He came up then and held out his hand, and I thought that was all he
was going to do. But after a funny little hesitation he stooped and
kissed my forehead. Then he turned and went into the library with very
quick steps, and I didn't see him again till at the supper-table.

At the supper-table he said again, "How do you do, Mary?" Then he
seemed to forget all about me. At least he didn't say anything more to
me; but three or four times, when I glanced up, I found him looking at
me. But just as soon as I looked back at him he turned his eyes away
and cleared his throat, and began to eat or to talk to Aunt Jane.

After dinner--I mean supper--he went out to the observatory, just as
he always used to. Aunt Jane said her head ached and she was going to
bed. I said I guessed I would step over to Carrie Heywood's; but Aunt
Jane said, certainly not; that I was much too young to be running
around nights in the dark. Nights! And it was only seven o'clock, and
not dark at all! But of course I couldn't go.

Aunt Jane went upstairs, and I was left alone. I didn't feel a bit
like reading; besides, there wasn't a book or a magazine anywhere
_asking_ you to read. They just shrieked, "Touch me not!" behind the
glass doors in the library. I hate sewing. I mean _Marie_ hates it.
Aunt Jane says Mary's got to learn.

For a time I just walked around the different rooms downstairs,
looking at the chairs and tables and rugs all _just so_, as if they 'd
been measured with a yardstick. Marie jerked up a shade and pushed a
chair crooked and kicked a rug up at one corner; but Mary put them all
back properly--so there wasn't any fun in that for long.

After a while I opened the parlor door and peeked in. They used to
keep it open when Mother was here; but Aunt Jane doesn't use it. I
knew where the electric push button was, though, and I turned on the
light.

It used to be an awful room, and it's worse now, on account of its
shut-up look. Before I got the light on, the chairs and sofas loomed
up like ghosts in their linen covers. And when the light did come on,
I saw that all the old shiver places were there. Not one was missing.
Great-Grandfather Anderson's coffin plate on black velvet, the wax
cross and flowers that had been used at three Anderson funerals, the
hair wreath made of all the hair of seventeen dead Andersons and five
live ones--no, no, I don't mean _all_ the hair, but hair from all
seventeen and five. Nurse Sarah used to tell me about it.

Well, as I said, all the shiver places were there, and I shivered
again as I looked at them; then I crossed over to Mother's old piano,
opened it, and touched the keys. I love to play. There wasn't any
music there, but I don't need music for lots of my pieces. I know them
by heart--only they're all gay and lively, and twinkly-toe dancy.
_Marie_ music. I don't know a one that would be proper for _Mary_ to
play.

But I was just tingling to play _something_, and I remembered that
Father was in the observatory, and Aunt Jane upstairs in the other
part of the house where she couldn't possibly hear. So I began to
play. I played the very slowest piece I had, and I played softly at
first; but I know I forgot, and I know I hadn't played two pieces
before I was having the best time ever, and making all the noise I
wanted to.

Then all of a sudden I had a funny feeling as if somebody somewhere
was watching me; but I just couldn't turn around. I stopped playing,
though, at the end of that piece, and then I looked; but there wasn't
anybody in sight. But the wax cross was there, and the coffin plate,
and that awful hair wreath; and suddenly I felt as if that room was
just full of folks with great staring eyes. I fairly shook with
shivers then, but I managed to shut the piano and get over to the door
where the light was. Then, a minute later, out in the big silent hall,
I crept on tiptoe toward the stairs. I knew then, all of a sudden, why
I'd felt somebody was listening. There was. Across the hall in the
library in the big chair before the fire sat--_Father_! And for 'most
a whole half-hour I had been banging away at that piano on marches and
dance music! My! But I held my breath and stopped short, I can tell
you. But he didn't move nor turn, and a minute later I was safely by
the door and halfway up the stairs.

I stayed in my room the rest of that evening; and for the second time
since I've been here I cried myself to sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Another week later_,

Well, I've got them--those brown and blue serge dresses and the
calfskin boots. My, but I hope they're stiff and homely enough--all of
them! And hot, too. Aunt Jane did say to-day that she didn't know but
what she'd made a mistake not to get gingham dresses. But, then, she'd
have to get the gingham later, anyway, she said; then I'd have both.

Well, they can't be worse than the serge. That's sure. I hate the
serge. They're awfully homely. Still, I don't know but it's just as
well. Certainly it's lots easier to be Mary in a brown serge and
clumpy boots than it is in the soft, fluffy things Marie used to wear.
You couldn't be Marie in _these_ things. Honestly, I'm feeling real
Maryish these days.

I wonder if that's why the girls seem so queer at school. They _are_
queer. Three times lately I've come up to a crowd of girls and heard
them stop talking right off short. They colored up, too; and pretty
quick they began to slip away, one by one, till there wasn't anybody
left but just me, just as they used to do in Boston. But of course it
can't be for the same reason here, for they've known all along about
the divorce and haven't minded it at all.

I heard this morning that Stella Mayhew had a party last night. But
_I_ didn't get invited. Of course, you can't always ask everybody to
your parties, but this was a real big party, and I haven't found a
girl in school, yet, that wasn't invited--but me. But I guess it
wasn't anything, after all. Stella is a new girl that has come here to
live since I went away. Her folks are rich, and she's very popular,
and of course she has loads of friends she had to invite; and she
doesn't know me very well. Probably that was it. And maybe I just
imagine it about the other girls, too. Perhaps it's the brown serge
dress. Still, it can't be that, for this is the first day I've worn
it. But, as I said, I feel Maryish already.

I haven't dared to touch the piano since that night a week ago, only
once when Aunt Jane was at a missionary meeting, and I knew Father was
over to the college. But didn't I have a good time then? I just guess
I did!

Aunt Jane doesn't care for music. Besides, it's noisy, she says, and
would be likely to disturb Father. So I'm not to keep on with my music
lessons here. She's going to teach me to sew instead. She says sewing
is much more sensible and useful.

Sensible and useful! I wonder how many times I've heard those words
since I've been here. And durable, too. And nourishing. That's another
word. Honestly, Marie is getting awfully tired of Mary's sensible
sewing and dusting, and her durable clumpy shoes and stuffy dresses,
and her nourishing oatmeal and whole-wheat bread. But there, what can
you do? I'm trying to remember that it's _different_, anyway, and that
I said I liked something different.

I don't see much of Father. Still, there's something kind of queer
about it, after all. He only speaks to me about twice a day--just
"Good-morning, Mary," and "Good-night." And so far as most of his
actions are concerned you wouldn't think by them that he knew I was in
the house, Yet, over and over again at the table, and at times when I
didn't even know he was 'round, I've found him watching me, and with
such a queer, funny look in his eyes. Then, very quickly always, he
looks right away.

But last night he didn't. And that's especially what I wanted to write
about to-day. And this is the way it happened.

It was after supper, and I had gone into the library. Father had gone
out to the observatory as usual, and Aunt Jane had gone upstairs to
her room as usual, and as usual I was wandering 'round looking for
something to do. I wanted to play on the piano, but I didn't dare
to--not with all those dead-hair and wax-flower folks in the parlor
watching me, and the chance of Father's coming in as he did before.

I was standing in the window staring out at nothing--it wasn't quite
dark yet--when again I had that queer feeling that somebody was
looking at me. I turned--and there was Father. He had come in and was
sitting in the big chair by the table. But this time he didn't look
right away as usual and give me a chance to slip quietly out of the
room, as I always had before. Instead he said:

"What are you doing there, Mary?"

"N-nothing." I know I stammered. It always scares me to talk to
Father.

"Nonsense!" Father frowned and hitched in his chair. Father always
hitches in his chair when he's irritated and nervous. "You can't be
doing nothing. Nobody but a dead man does nothing--and we aren't so
sure about him. What are you doing, Mary?"

"Just l-looking out the window."

"Thank you. That's better. Come here. I want to talk to you."

"Yes, Father."

I went, of course, at once, and sat down in the chair near him. He
hitched again in his seat.

"Why don't you do something--read, sew, knit?" he demanded. "Why do I
always find you moping around, doing nothing?"

Just like that he said it; and when he had just told me--

"Why, Father!" I cried; and I know that I showed how surprised I was.
"I thought you just said I couldn't do nothing--that nobody could!"

"Eh? What? Tut, tut!" He seemed very angry at first; then suddenly
he looked sharply into my face. Next, if you'll believe it, he
laughed--the queer little chuckle under his breath that I've heard him
give two or three times when there was something he thought was funny.
"Humph!" he grunted. Then he gave me another sharp look out of
his eyes, and said: "I don't think you meant that to be quite so
impertinent as it sounded, Mary, so we'll let it pass--this time. I'll
put my question this way: Don't you ever knit or read or sew?"

"I do sew every day in Aunt Jane's room, ten minutes hemming, ten
minutes seaming, and ten minutes basting patchwork squares together. I
don't know how to knit."

"How about reading? Don't you care for reading?"

"Why, of course I do. I love it!" I cried. "And I do read lots--at
home."

"At--_home_?"

I knew then, of course, that I'd made another awful break. There
wasn't any smile around Father's eyes now, and his lips came together
hard and thin over that last word.

"At--at _my_ home," I stammered. "I mean, my _other_ home."

"Humph!" grunted Father. Then, after a minute: "But why, pray, can't
you read here? I'm sure there are--books enough." He flourished his
hands toward the bookcases all around the room.

"Oh, I do--a little; but, you see, I'm so afraid I'll leave some of
them out when I'm through," I explained,

"Well, what of it? What if you do?" he demanded.

"Why, _Father_!" I tried to show by the way I said it that he knew--of
course he knew. But he made me tell him right out that Aunt Jane
wouldn't like it, and that he wouldn't like it, and that the books
always had to be kept exactly where they belonged.

"Well, why not? Why shouldn't they?" he asked then, almost crossly,
and hitching again in his chair. "Aren't books down there--in
Boston--kept where they belong, pray?"

It was the first time since I'd come that he'd ever mentioned Boston;
and I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard him. But I soon saw
it wasn't going to be the last, for right then and there he began to
question me, even worse than Aunt Jane had.

He wanted to know everything, _everything_; all about the house, with
its cushions and cozy corners and curtains 'way up, and books left
around easy to get, and magazines, and Baby Lester, and the fun we had
romping with him, and everything. Only, of course, I didn't mention
Mother. Aunt Jane had told me not to--not anywhere; and to be
specially careful before Father. But what can you do when he asks you
himself, right out plain? And that's what he did.

He'd been up on his feet, tramping up and down the room all the time
I'd been talking; and now, all of a sudden, he wheels around and stops
short.

"How is--your mother, Mary?" he asks. And it was just as if he'd
opened the door to another room, he had such a whole lot of questions
to ask after that. And when he'd finished he knew everything: what
time we got up and went to bed, and what we did all day, and the
parties and dinners and auto rides, and the folks that came such a lot
to see Mother.

Then all of a sudden he stopped--asking questions, I mean. He stopped
just as suddenly as he'd begun. Why, I was right in the middle of
telling about a concert for charity we got up just before I came away,
and how Mother had practiced for days and days with the young man who
played the violin, when all of a sudden Father jerked his watch from
his pocket and said:

"There, there, Mary, it's getting late. You've talked enough--too
much. Now go to bed. Good-night."

Talked too much, indeed! And who'd been making me do all the talking,
I should like to know? But, of course, I couldn't _say_ anything.
That's the unfair part of it. Old folks can say anything, _anything_
they want to to _you_, but you can't say a thing back to them--not a
thing.

And so I went to bed. And the next day all that Father said to me
was, "Good-morning, Mary," and, "Good-night," just as he had ever
since I came. And that's all he's said yesterday and to-day. But he's
looked at me. He's looked at me a lot. I know, because at mealtimes
and others, when he's been in the room with me, I've looked up and
found his eyes on me. Funny, isn't it?

       *       *       *       *       *

_Two weeks later_.

Well, I don't know as I have anything very special to say. Still, I
suppose I ought to write something; so I'll put down what little there
is.

Of course, there doesn't so much happen here, anyway, as there does at
home--I mean in Boston. (I _must_ stop calling it home down to Boston
as if this wasn't home at all. It makes Aunt Jane very, very angry,
and I don't think Father likes it very well.) But, as I was saying,
there really doesn't so much happen here as there does down to Boston;
and it isn't nearly so interesting. But, there! I suppose I mustn't
expect it to be interesting. I'm Mary now, not Marie.

There aren't any teas and dinners and pretty ladies and music and
soulful-eyed prospective suitors _here_. My! Wouldn't Aunt Jane have
four fits? And Father, too. But I'd just like to put one of Mother's
teas with the little cakes and flowers and talk and tinkling laughs
down in Aunt Jane's parlor, and then watch what happened. Oh, of
course, the party couldn't stand it long--not in there with the hair
wreath and the coffin plate. But they could stand it long enough for
Father to thunder from the library, "Jane, what in Heaven's name is
the meaning of all this?" And for Aunt Jane to give one look at the
kind of clothes _real_ folks wear, and then flee with her hands to her
ears and her eyes upraised to the ceiling. Wouldn't it be fun?

But, there! What's the use of imagining perfectly crazy, impossible
things like that? We haven't had a thing here in that parlor since I
came but one missionary meeting and one Ladies' Aid Sewing Circle; and
after the last one (the Sewing Circle) Aunt Jane worked a whole day
picking threads off the carpet, and smoothing down the linen covers
because they'd got so mussed up. And I heard her tell the hired girl
that she shouldn't have that Sewing Circle here again in a hurry, and
when she did have them they'd have to sew in the dining-room with a
sheet spread down to catch the threads. My! but I would like to see
Aunt Jane with one of Mother's teas in her parlor!

I can't see as Father has changed much of any these last two weeks. He
still doesn't pay much of any attention to me, though I do find him
looking at me sometimes, just as if he was trying to make up his mind
about something. He doesn't say hardly anything to me, only once or
twice when he got to asking questions again about Boston and Mother.

The last time I told him all about Mr. Harlow, and he was so
interested! I just happened to mention his name, and he wanted to know
right away if it was Mr. Carl Harlow, and if I knew whether Mother had
ever known him before. And of course I told him right away that it
was--the same one she was engaged to before she was engaged to him.

Father looked funny and kind of grunted and said, yes, yes, he knew.
Then he said, "That will do, Mary." And he began to read his book
again. But he never turned a page, and it wasn't five minutes before
he got up and walked around the room, picking out books from the
bookcases and putting them right back, and picking up things from the
mantel and putting _them_ right back. Then he turned to me and asked
with a kind of of-course-I-don't-care air:

"Did you say you saw quite a little of--this Harlow fellow?"

But he did care. I know he did. He was _real_ interested. I could see
that he was. And so I told him everything, all about how he came there
to the teas, and sent her flowers and candy, and was getting a divorce
himself, and what he said on the sofa that day, and how Mother
answered. As I said, I told him everything, only I was careful not to
call Mr. Harlow a prospective suitor, of course. I remembered too
well what Aunt Hattie had said. Father didn't say anything when I got
through. He just got up and left the room, and pretty quick I saw him
crossing the lawn to the observatory.

I guess there aren't any prospective suitors here. I mean, I guess
Father isn't a prospective suitor--anyhow, not yet. (Of course, it's
the man that has to be the suitor.) He doesn't go anywhere, only over
to the college and out to the observatory. I've watched so to see. I
wanted specially to know, for of course if he was being a prospective
suitor to any one, she'd be my new mother, maybe. And I'm going to be
awfully particular about any new mother coming into the house.

A whole lot more, even, depends on mothers than on fathers, you know;
and if you're going to have one all ready-made thrust upon you, you
are sort of anxious to know what kind she is. Some way, I don't think
I'd like a new mother even as well as I'd like a new father; and I
don't believe I'd like _him_ very well.

Of course, there are quite a lot of ladies here that Father _could_
have. There are several pretty teachers in the schools, and some nice
unmarried ladies in the church. And there's Miss Parmelia Snow. She's
Professor Snow's sister. She wears glasses and is terribly learned.
Maybe he _would_ like her. But, mercy! I shouldn't.

Then there's Miss Grace Ann Sanborn. She's fat, and awfully jolly. She
comes here a lot lately to see Aunt Jane. I don't know why. They don't
belong to the same church, or anything. But she "runs over," as she
calls it, almost every afternoon just a little before dinner--I mean
supper.

Mrs. Darling used to come then, too, when I first came; but she comes
over evenings now more. Maybe it's because she doesn't like Miss Grace
Ann. I don't think she _does_ like her, for every time she saw her,
she'd say: "Oh, _you_? So you're here!" And then she'd turn and talk
to Aunt Jane and simply ignore Miss Grace Ann. And pretty quick she'd
get up and go. And now she comes evenings. She's fixing over her
house, and she runs and asks Aunt Jane's advice about every little
thing. She asks Father's, too, every chance she gets, when she sees
him in the hall or on the front steps. I heard her tell Aunt Jane
she considered Professor Anderson a man of most excellent taste and
judgment.

I suppose Mrs. Darling _could_ be my new mother. She's a widow. Her
husband died last year. She is very well off now that her husband
is dead, I heard Aunt Jane say one day. She meant well off in
money--quite a lot of it, you know. I _thought_ she meant well off
because he was dead and she didn't have to live with him any more,
and I said so to Aunt Jane. (He was a cross man, and very stern, as
everybody knew.) But, dear suz me! Aunt Jane was awfully shocked, and
said certainly not; that she meant Mr. Darling had left his wife a
great deal of money.

Then she talked very stern and solemn to me, and said that I must not
think just because my poor dear father's married life had ended in
such a wretched tragedy that every other home had such a skeleton in
the closet.

_I_ grew stern and dignified and solemn then. I knew, of course, what
she meant. I'm no child. She meant Mother. She meant that Mother, my
dear blessed mother, was the skeleton in their closet. And of course I
wasn't going to stand there and hear that, and not say a word.

But I didn't say just a word. I said a good many words. I won't try to
put them all down here; but I told her quietly, in a firm voice, and
with no temper (showing), that I guessed Father was just as much of a
skeleton in Mother's closet as she was in his; and that if she could
see how perfectly happy my mother was now she'd understand a little of
what my father's skeleton had done to her all those years she'd had to
live with it.

I said a lot more, but before I'd got half finished with what I wanted
to say, I got to crying, so I just had to run out of the room.

That night I heard Aunt Jane tell Mrs. Darling that the worst feature
of the whole deplorable situation was the effect on the child's mind,
and the wretched conception it gave her of the sacredness of the
marriage tie, or something like that. And Mrs. Darling sighed, and
said, oh, and ah, and the pity of it.

I don't like Mrs. Darling.

Of course, as I said before, Mrs. Darling could be my new mother,
being a widow, so. But, mercy! I hope she won't. I'd rather have Miss
Grace Ann than her, and I shouldn't be crazy about having Miss Grace
Ann.

Well, I guess there's nothing more to write. Things at school are just
the same, only more so. The girls are getting so they act almost
as bad as those down to Boston in the school where I went before I
changed. Of course, maybe it's the divorce here, same as it was there.
But I don't see how it can be that here. Why, they've known it from
the very first!

Oh, dear suz me! How I do wish I could see Mother to-night and have
her take me in her arms and kiss me. I'm so tired of being Mary 'way
off up here where nobody cares or wants me.

Even Father doesn't want me, not really want me. I know he doesn't. I
don't see why he keeps me, only I suppose he'd be ashamed not to take
me his six months as long as the court gave me to him for that time.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Another two weeks later_.

I'm so angry I can hardly write, and at the same time I'm so angry
I've just got to write. I can't talk. There isn't anybody to talk to;
and I've got to tell somebody. So I'm going to tell it here.

I've found out now what's the matter with the girls--you know I said
there _was_ something the matter with them; that they acted queer
and stopped talking when I came up, and faded away till there wasn't
anybody but me left; and about the party Stella Mayhew had and didn't
invite me.

Well, it's been getting worse and worse. Other girls have had parties,
and more and more often the girls have stopped talking and have looked
queer when I came up. We got up a secret society and called it the
"Tony Ten," and I was going to be its president. Then all of a sudden
one day I found there wasn't any Tony Ten--only Carrie Heywood and me.
The other eight had formed another society and Stella Mayhew was their
president.

I told Carrie we wouldn't care; that we'd just change it and call
it the "Tony Two"; and that two was a lot more exclusive than ten,
anyway. But I did care, and Carrie did. I knew she did. And I know it
better now because last night--she told me. You see things have been
getting simply unbearable these last few days, and it got so it looked
as if I wasn't even going to have Carrie left. _She_ began to act
queer and I accused her of it, and told her if she didn't want to
belong to the Tony Two she needn't. That I didn't care; that I'd be a
secret society all by myself. But I cried. I couldn't help crying; and
she knew I did--care. Then she began to cry; and to-day, after school,
we went to walk up on the hill to the big rock; and there--she told
me. And it _was_ the divorce.

And it's all that Stella Mayhew--the new girl. Her mother found out I
was divorced (I mean Mother was) and she told Stella not to play with
me, nor speak to me, nor have a thing to do with me. And I said to
Carrie, all right! Who cared? _I_ didn't. That I never had liked that
Mayhew girl, anyway. But Carrie said that wasn't all. She said Stella
had got to be real popular before I came; that her folks had lots of
money, and she always had candy and could treat to ice-cream and
auto rides, and everybody with her was sure of a good time. She had
parties, too--lots of them; and of course, all the girls and boys
liked that.

Well, when I came everything was all right till Stella's mother found
out about the divorce, and then--well, then things were different.
First Stella contented herself with making fun of me, Carrie said. She
laughed at the serge dresses and big homely shoes, and then she began
on my name, and said the idea of being called Mary by Father and Marie
by Mother, and that 't was just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (That's
a story, Carrie says. I'm going to read it, if Father's got it. If
there ever was another Mary and Marie all in one in the world I want
to know what she did.) But Carrie says the poking fun at me didn't
make much difference with the girls, so Stella tried something else.
She not only wouldn't speak to me herself, or invite me, or anything,
but she told all the girls that they couldn't go with her and me, too.
That they might take their choice. And Carrie said some of them did
choose and stayed with me; but they lost all the good times and
ice-cream and parties and rides and everything; and so one by one they
dropped me and went back to Stella, and now there wasn't anybody left,
only her, Carrie. And then she began to cry.

And when she stopped speaking, and I knew all, and saw her crying
there before me, and thought of my dear blessed mother, I was so angry
I could scarcely speak. I just shook with righteous indignation.
And in my most superb, haughty, and disdainful manner I told Carrie
Heywood to dry her tears; that she needn't trouble herself any
further, nor worry about losing any more ice-cream nor parties. That I
would hereto declare our friendship null and void, and this day set
my hand and seal to never speak to her again, if she liked, and
considered that necessary to keeping the acquaintance of the precious
Stella.

But she cried all the more at that, and flung herself upon me, and, of
course, I began to cry, too--and you can't stay superb and haughty and
disdainful when you're all the time trying to hunt up a handkerchief
to wipe away the tears that are coursing down your wan cheeks. And of
course I didn't. We had a real good cry together, and vowed we loved
each other better than ever, and nobody could come between us, not
even bringing a chocolate-fudge-marshmallow college ice--which we both
adore. But I told her that she would be all right, just the same,
for of course I should never step my foot inside of that schoolhouse
again. That I couldn't, out of respect to Mother. That I should tell
Aunt Jane that to-morrow morning. There isn't any other school here,
so they can't send me anywhere else. But it's 'most time for school to
close, anyway. There are only two weeks more.

But I don't think that will make any difference to Aunt Jane. It's the
principle of the thing. It's always the principle of the thing with
Aunt Jane. She'll be very angry, I know. Maybe she'll send me home.
Oh, I _hope_ she will!

Well, I shall tell her to-morrow, anyway. Then--we'll see.

       *       *       *       *       *

_One day later_.

And, dear, dear, what a day it has been!

I told her this morning. She was very angry. She said at first:
"Nonsense, Mary, don't be impertinent. Of course you'll go to school!"
and all that kind of talk. But I kept my temper. I did not act angry.
I was simply firm and dignified. And when she saw I really meant what
I said, and that I would not step my foot inside that schoolroom
again--that it was a matter of conscience with me--that I did not
think it was _right_ for me to do it, she simply stared for a minute,
as if she couldn't believe her eyes and ears. Then she gasped:

"Mary, what do you mean by such talk to me? Do you think I shall
permit this sort of thing to go on for a moment?"

I thought then she was going to send me home. Oh, I did so hope she
was. But she didn't. She sent me to my room.

"You will stay there until your father comes home this noon," she
said. "This is a matter for him to settle."

_Father_! And I never even thought of her going to _him_ with it. She
was always telling me never to bother Father with anything, and I knew
she didn't usually ask him anything about me. She settled everything
herself. But _this_--and the very thing I didn't want her to ask him,
too. But of course I couldn't help myself. That's the trouble. Youth
is _so_ helpless in the clutches of old age!

Well, I went to my room. Aunt Jane told me to meditate on my sins. But
I didn't. I meditated on other people's sins. _I_ didn't have any to
meditate on. Was it a sin, pray, for me to stand up for my mother and
refuse to associate with people who wouldn't associate with _me_ on
account of _her_? I guess not!

I meditated on Stella Mayhew and her mother, and on those silly,
faithless girls that thought more of an ice-cream soda than they did
of justice and right to their fellow schoolmate. And I meditated on
Aunt Jane and her never giving me so much as a single kiss since I
came. And I meditated on how much better Father liked stars and
comets than he did his own daughter; and I meditated on what a cruel,
heartless world this is, anyway, and what a pity it was that I, so
fair and young, should have found it out so soon--right on the bank,
as it were, or where that brook and river meet. And I wondered, if I
died if anybody would care; and I thought how beautiful and pathetic I
would look in my coffin with my lily-white hands folded on my breast.
And I _hoped_ they 'd have the funeral in the daytime, because if it
was at night-time Father'd be sure to have a star or something to keep
_him_ from coming. And I _wanted_ him to come. I _wanted_ him to feel
bad; and I meditated on how bad he would feel--when it was too late.

But even with all this to meditate on, it was an awfully long time
coming noon; and they didn't call me down to dinner even then. Aunt
Jane sent up two pieces of bread without any butter and a glass of
water. How like Aunt Jane--making even my dinner a sin to meditate on!
Only she would call it _my_ sin, and I would call it hers.

Well, after dinner Father sent for me to come down to the library. So
I knew then, of course, that Aunt Jane had told him. I didn't know
but she would wait until night. Father usually spends his hour after
dinner reading in the library and mustn't be disturbed. But evidently
to-day Aunt Jane thought I was more consequence than his reading.
Anyhow, she told him, and he sent for me.

My, but I hated to go! Fathers and Aunt Janes are two different
propositions. Fathers have more rights and privileges, of course.
Everybody knows that.

Well, I went into the library. Father stood with his back to the
fireplace and his hands in his pockets. He was plainly angry at being
disturbed. Anybody could see that. He began speaking at once, the
minute I got into the room--very cold and dignified.

"Mary, your aunt tells me you have been disobedient and disrespectful
to her. Have you anything to say?"

I shook my head and said, "No, sir."

What could I say? Old folks ask such senseless questions, sometimes.
Naturally I wasn't going to say I _had_ been disrespectful and
disobedient when I hadn't; and of course, I couldn't say I _hadn't_
been when Aunt Jane said I _had_. That would be just like saying Aunt
Jane lied. So, of course, I had nothing to say. And I said so.

"But she declares you refused to go back to school, Mary," said Father
then.

"Yes, sir."

"Then you did refuse?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, you may go and tell her now, please, that you are sorry, and
that you will go to school this afternoon. You may go now." And he
turned to the table and picked up his book.

I didn't go, of course. I just stood there twisting my handkerchief
in my fingers; and, of course, right away he saw me. He had sat down
then.

"Mary, didn't you hear me?" he demanded.

"Yes, sir, but--Father, I _can't_ go back to that school," I choked.
And I began to cry.

"But I tell you that you must."

I shook my head.

"I can't."

"Do you mean that you defy me as you did your Aunt Jane this
morning?--that you refuse to go back to school?"

"Yes, sir."

For a minute he sat and stared at me just as Aunt Jane had done; then
he lifted his head and threw back his shoulders as if he was throwing
off a heavy weight.

"Come, come, Mary," he said sternly. "I am not a patient man, and my
temper has reached the breaking point. You will go back to school and
you will go now. I mean that, Mary."

"But, Father, I _can't_" I choked again; and I guess there was
something in my face this time that made even him see. For again he
just stared for a minute, and then said:

"Mary, what in the world does this mean? Why can't you go back? Have
you been--expelled?"

"Oh, no, sir."

"Then you mean you won't go back."

"I mean I _can't_--on account of Mother."

I wouldn't have said it if I hadn't had to. I didn't want to tell him,
but I knew from the very first that I'd have to tell him before I
got through. I could see it in his face. And so, now, with his eyes
blazing as he jumped almost out of his chair and exclaimed, "Your
mother!" I let it out and got it over as soon as possible.

"I mean, on account of Mother--that not for you, or Aunt Jane, or
anybody will I go back to that school and associate with folks that
won't associate with me--on account of Mother."

And then I told it--all about the girls, Stella Mayhew, Carrie, and
how they acted, and what they said about my being Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde because I was a Mary and a Marie, and the ice-cream, and the
parties they had to give up if they went with _me_. And I know I was
crying so I could hardly speak before I finished; and Father was on
his feet tramping up and down the room muttering something under his
breath, and looking--oh, I can't begin to tell how he looked. But it
was awful.

"And so that's why I wish," I finished chokingly, "that it would hurry
up and be a year, so Mother could get married."

"_Married!_" Like a flash he turned and stopped short, staring at me.

"Why, yes," I explained; "for if she _did_ get married, she wouldn't
be divorced any longer, would she?"

But he wouldn't answer. With a queer little noise in his throat he
turned again and began to walk up and down, up and down, until I
thought for a minute he'd forgotten I was there. But he hadn't. For
after a while he stopped again right in front of me.

"So your mother is thinking of getting married," he said in a voice so
queer it sounded as if it had come from away off somewhere.

But I shook my head and said no, of course; and that I was very sure
she wouldn't till her year was up, and even then I didn't know which
she'd take, so I couldn't tell for sure anything about it. But I hoped
she'd take one of them, so she wouldn't be divorced any longer.

"But you don't know _which_ she'll take," grunted Father again. He
turned then, and began to walk up and down again, with his hands in
his pockets; and I didn't know whether to go away or to stay, and I
suppose I'd have been there now if Aunt Jane hadn't suddenly appeared
in the library doorway.

"Charles, if Mary is going to school at all to-day it is high time she
was starting," she said. But Father didn't seem to hear. He was still
tramping up and down the room, his hands in his pockets.

"Charles!" Aunt Jane raised her voice and spoke again. "I said if Mary
is going to school at all to-day it is high time she was starting."

"Eh? What?" If you'll believe it, that man looked as dazed as if he'd
never even _heard_ of my going to school. Then suddenly his face
changed. "Oh, yes, to be sure. Well, er--Mary is not going to school
to-day," he said. Then he looked at his watch, and without another
word strode into the hall, got his hat, and left the house, leaving
Aunt Jane and me staring into each other's faces.

But I didn't stay much longer than Father did. I strode into the hall,
too, by Aunt Jane. But I didn't leave the house. I came up here to my
own room; and ever since I've been writing it all down in my book.

Of course, I don't know now what's going to happen next. But I _wish_
you could have seen Aunt Jane's face when Father said I wasn't going
to school to-day! I don't believe she's sure yet that she heard
aright--though she didn't try to stop me, or even speak when I left
and came upstairs. But I just know she's keeping up a powerful
thinking.

For that matter, so am I. What _is_ going to happen next? Have I got
to go to school to-morrow? But then, of course, I shan't do that.
Besides, I don't believe Father'll ask me to, after what I said about
Mother. _He_ didn't like that--what those girls said--any better than
I did. I'm sure of that. Why, he looked simply furious. But there
isn't any other school here that I can be sent to, and--

But what's the use? I might surmise and speculate all day and not
come anywhere near the truth. I must await--what the night will bring
forth, as they say in really truly novels.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Four days later_.

And what did the night bring forth? Yes, what did it bring! Verily
it brought forth one thing I thought nothing ever could have brought
forth.

It was like this.

That night at the supper-table Aunt Jane cleared her throat in the
I-am-determined-I-will-speak kind of a way that she always uses when
she speaks to Father. (Aunt. Jane doesn't talk to Father much more
than Mother used to.)

"Charles," she began.

Father had an astronomy paper beside his plate, and he was so busy
reading he didn't hear, so Aunt Jane had to speak again--a little
louder this time.

"Charles, I have something to say to you."

"Eh? What? Oh--er--yes. Well, Jane, what is it?" Father was looking up
with his I'll-be-patient-if-it-kills-me air, and with his forefinger
down on his paper to keep his place.

As if anybody could talk to a person who's simply tolerating you for a
minute like that, with his forefinger holding on to what he _wants_ to
tend to! Why, I actually found myself being sorry for Aunt Jane.

She cleared her throat again.

"It is understood, of course, that Mary is to go to school to-morrow
morning, I suppose," she said.

"Why, of course, of course," began Father impatiently, looking down at
his paper. "Of course she'll go to--" he stopped suddenly. A complete
change came to his face. He grew red, then white. His eyes sort of
flashed. "School?" he said then, in a hard, decided voice. "Oh, no;
Mary is not going to school to-morrow morning." He looked down to his
paper and began to read again. For him the subject was very evidently
closed. But for Aunt Jane it was _not_ closed.

"You don't mean, Charles, that she is not to go to school at all, any
more," she gasped.

"Exactly." Father read on in his paper without looking up.

"But, Charles, to stop her school like this!"

"Why not? It closes in a week or two, anyway."

Aunt Jane's lips came together hard.

"That's not the question at all," she said, cold like ice. "Charles,
I'm amazed at you--yielding to that child's whims like this--that she
doesn't want to go to school! It's the principle of the thing that I'm
objecting to. Do you realize what it will lead to--what it--"

"Jane!" With a jerk Father sat up straight. "I realize some things
that perhaps you do not. But that is neither here nor there. I do not
wish Mary to go to school any more this spring. That is all; and I
think--it is sufficient."

"Certainly." Aunt Jane's lips came together again grim and hard.
"Perhaps you will be good enough to say what she _shall_ do with her
time."

"Time? Do? Why--er--what she always does; read, sew, study--"

"Study?" Aunt Jane asked the question with a hateful little smile that
Father would have been blind not to have understood. And he was equal
to it--but I 'most fell over backward when I found _how_ equal to it
he was.

"Certainly," he says, "study. I--I'll hear her lessons myself--in the
library, after I come home in the afternoon. Now let us hear no more
about it."

With that he pushed back his plate, stuffed his astronomy paper into
his pocket, and left the table, without waiting for dessert. And Aunt
Jane and I were left alone.

I didn't say anything. Victors shouldn't boast--and I was a victor, of
course, about the school. But when I thought of what Father had said
about my reciting my lessons to him every day in the library--I wasn't
so sure whether I'd won out or not. Recite lessons to my father? Why,
I couldn't even imagine such a thing!

Aunt Jane didn't say anything either. I guess she didn't know what to
say. And it was kind of a queer situation, when you came right down to
it. Both of us sitting there and knowing I wasn't going back to school
any more, and I knowing why, and knowing Aunt Jane didn't know why.
(Of course I hadn't told Aunt Jane about Mother and Mrs. Mayhew.) It
would be a funny world, wouldn't it, if we all knew what each other
was thinking all the time? Why, we'd get so we wouldn't do anything
_but_ think--for there wouldn't any of us _speak_ to each other, I'm
afraid, we'd be so angry at what the other was thinking.

Well, Aunt Jane and I didn't speak that night at the supper-table. We
finished in stern silence; then Aunt Jane went upstairs to her room
and I went up to mine. (You see what a perfectly wildly exciting life
Mary is living! And when I think of how _full_ of good times Mother
wanted every minute to be. But that was for Marie, of course.)

The next morning after breakfast Aunt Jane said:

"You will spend your forenoon studying, Mary. See that you learn well
your lessons, so as not to annoy your father."

"Yes, Aunt Jane," said Mary, polite and proper, and went upstairs
obediently; but even Mary didn't know exactly how to study those
lessons.

Carrie had brought me all my books from school. I had asked her to
when I knew that I was not going back. There were the lessons that had
been assigned for the next day, of course, and I supposed probably
Father would want me to study those. But I couldn't imagine Father
teaching _me_ all alone. And how was I ever going to ask him
questions, if there were things I didn't understand? Besides, I
couldn't imagine myself reciting lessons to Father--_Father_!

But I needn't have worried. If I could only have known. Little did I
think--But, there, this is no way to tell a story. I read in a book,
"How to Write a Novel," that you mustn't "anticipate." (_I_ thought
folks always anticipated novels. I do. I thought you wanted them to.)

Well, to go on.

Father got home at four o'clock. I saw him come up the walk, and I
waited till I was sure he'd got settled in the library, then I went
down.

_He wasn't there_.

A minute later I saw him crossing the lawn to the observatory. Well,
what to do I didn't know. Mary said to go after him; but Marie said
nay, nay. And in spite of being Mary just now, I let Marie have her
way.

Rush after him and tell him he'd forgotten to hear my lessons?
_Father_? Well, I guess not! Besides, it wasn't my fault. _I_ was
there all ready. It wasn't my blame that he wasn't there to hear me.
But he might remember and come back. Well, if he did, _I'd_ be there.
So I went to one of those bookcases and pulled out a touch-me-not
book from behind the glass door. Then I sat down and read till the
supper-bell rang.

Father was five minutes late to supper. I don't know whether he looked
at me or not. I didn't dare to look at him--until Aunt Jane said, in
her chilliest manner:

"I trust your daughter had good lessons, Charles."

I _had_ to look at him then. I just couldn't look anywhere else. So I
was looking straight at him when he gave that funny little startled
glance into my eyes. And into his eyes then there crept the funniest,
dearest little understanding twinkle--and I suddenly realized that
Father, _Father_, was laughing with me at a little secret between
_us_. But 't was only for a second. The next moment his eyes were very
grave and looking at Aunt Jane.

"I have no cause to complain--of my daughter's lessons to-day," he
said very quietly. Then he glanced over at me again. But I had to look
away _quick_, or I would have laughed right out.

When he got up from the table he said to me: "I shall expect to see
you to-morrow in the library at four, Mary."

And Mary answered, "Yes, Father," polite and proper, as she should;
but Marie inside was just chuckling with the joke of it all.

The next day I watched again at four for Father to come up the walk;
and when he had come in I went down to the library. He was there in
his pet seat before the fireplace. (Father always sits before the
fireplace, whether there's a fire there or not. And sometimes he looks
_so_ funny sitting there, staring into those gray ashes just as if it
was the liveliest kind of a fire he was watching.)

As I said, he was there, but I had to speak twice before he looked up.
Then, for a minute, he stared vaguely.

"Eh? Oh! Ah--er--yes, to be sure," he muttered then, "You have come
with your books. Yes, I remember."

But there wasn't any twinkle in his eyes, nor the least little bit of
an understanding smile; and I _was_ disappointed. I _had_ been looking
for it. I knew then, when I felt so suddenly lost and heart-achey,
that I had been expecting and planning all day on that twinkly
understanding smile. You know you feel worse when you've just found a
father and then lost him!

And I had lost him. I knew it the minute he sighed and frowned and
got up from his seat and said, oh, yes, to be sure. He was just Dr.
Anderson then--the man who knew all about the stars, and who had
been unmarried to Mother, and who called me "Mary" in an
of-course-you're-my-daughter tone of voice.

Well, he took my books and heard my lessons, and told me what I was to
study next day. He's done that two days now.

Oh, I'm so tired of being Mary! And I've got more than four whole
months of it left. I didn't get Mother's letter to-day. Maybe that's
why I'm specially lonesome to-night.

       *       *       *       *       *

_July first_.

School is done, both the regular school and my school. Not that my
school has amounted to much. Really it hasn't. Oh, for three or four
days he asked questions quite like just a teacher. Then he got to
talking. Sometimes it would be about something in the lessons;
sometimes it would be about a star, or the moon. And he'd get so
interested that I'd think for a minute that maybe the understanding
twinkle would come into his eyes again. But it never did.

Sometimes it wasn't stars and moons, though, that he talked about. It
was Boston, and Mother. Yes, he did. He talked a lot about Mother. As
I look back at it now, I can see that he did. He asked me all over
again what she did, and about the parties and the folks that came to
see her. He asked again about Mr. Harlow, and about the concert, and
the young man who played the violin, and what was his name, and how
old was he, and did I like him. And then, right in the middle of some
question, or rather, right in the middle of some _answer_ I was giving
_him_, he would suddenly remember he was hearing my lessons, and he
would say, "Come, come, Mary, what has this to do with your lessons?"

Just as if I was to blame! (But, then, we women always get the blame,
I notice.) And then he'd attend strictly to the books for maybe five
whole minutes--before he asked another question about that party, or
the violinist.

Naturally the lessons haven't amounted to much, as you can imagine.
But the term was nearly finished, anyway; and my _real_ school is in
Boston, of course.

It's vacation now. I do hope _that_ will amount to something!

       *       *       *       *       *

_August first._

It hasn't, so far--I mean vacation. Really, what a world of
disappointment this is! How on earth I'm going to stand being Mary for
three months more I don't know. But I've got to, I suppose. I've been
here May, June, and July; and that leaves August, September, and
October yet to come. And when I think of Mother and Boston and Marie,
and the darling good times down there where you're really _wanted_, I
am simply crazy.

If Father wanted me, really wanted me, I wouldn't care a bit. I'd be
willing to be Mary six whole months. Yes, I'd be _glad_ to. But he
doesn't. I'm just here by order of the court. And what can you do when
you're nothing but a daughter by order of the court?

Since the lessons have stopped, Father's gone back to his
"Good-morning, Mary," and "Good-night," and nothing else, day in and
day out. Lately he's got so he hangs around the house an awful lot,
too, so I can't even do the things I did the first of the month. I
mean that I'd been playing some on the piano, along at the first,
after school closed. Aunt Jane was out in the garden a lot, and Father
out to the observatory, so I just reveled in piano-playing till I
found almost every time I did it that he had come back, and was in the
library with the door open. So I don't dare to play now.

And there isn't a blessed thing to do. Oh, I have to sew an hour, and
now I have to weed an hour, too; and Aunt Jane tried to have me learn
to cook; but Susie (in the kitchen) flatly refused to have me "messing
around," so Aunt Jane had to give that up. Susie's the one person Aunt
Jane's afraid of, you see. She always threatens to leave if anything
goes across her wishes. So Aunt Jane has to be careful. I heard her
tell Mrs. Small next door that good hired girls were awfully scarce in
Andersonville.

As I said before, if only there was somebody here that wanted me. But
there isn't. Of course Father doesn't. That goes without saying. And
Aunt Jane doesn't. That goes, too, without saying. Carrie Heywood has
gone away for all summer, so I can't have even her; and of course, I
wouldn't associate with any of the other girls, even if they would
associate with me--which they won't.

That leaves only Mother's letters. They are dear, and I love them. I
don't know what I'd do without them. And yet, sometimes I think maybe
they're worse than if I didn't have them. They make me so homesick,
and I always cry so after I get them. Still, I know I just couldn't
live a minute if 'twasn't for Mother's letters.

Besides being so lonesome there's another thing that worries me, too;
and that is, _this_--what I'm writing, I mean. The novel. It's getting
awfully stupid. Nothing happens. _Nothing!_ Of course, if 'twas just
a story I could make up things--lots of them--exciting, interesting
things, like having Mother elope with the violinist, and Father shoot
him and fall in love with Mother all over again, or else with somebody
else, and shoot that one's lover. Or maybe somebody'd try to shoot
Father, and I'd get there just in time to save him. Oh, I'd _love_
that!

But this is a real story, so, of course, I can't put in anything only
just what happens; and _nothing happens_.

And that's another thing. About the love story--I'm afraid there isn't
going to be one. Anyway, there isn't a bit of a sign of one, yet,
unless it's Mother. And of course, I haven't seen her for three
months, so I can't say anything about that.

Father hasn't got one. I'm sure of that. He doesn't like ladies. I
know he doesn't. He always runs away from them. But they don't run
away from him! Listen.

As I said before, quite a lot of them call here to see Aunt Jane, and
they come lots of times evenings and late afternoons, and I know now
why they do it. They come then because they think Father'll be at home
at that time; and they want to see him.

I know it now, but I never thought of it till the other day when
I heard our hired girl, Susie, talking about it with Bridget, the
Smalls' hired girl, over the fence when I was weeding the garden one
day. Then I knew. It was like this:

Mrs. Darling had been over the night before as usual, and had stayed
an awfully long time talking to Aunt Jane on the front piazza. Father
had been there, too, awhile. She stopped him on his way into the
house. I was there and I heard her. She said:

"Oh, Mr. Anderson, I'm so glad I saw you! I wanted to ask your advice
about selling poor dear Mr. Darling's law library."

And then she went on to tell him how she'd had an offer, but she
wasn't sure whether it was a good one or not. And she told him how
highly she prized his opinion, and he was a man of such splendid
judgment, and she felt so alone now with no strong man's shoulder to
lean upon, and she would be so much obliged if he only would tell her
whether he considered that offer a good one or not.

Father hitched and ahemmed and moved nearer the door all the time she
was talking, and he didn't seem to hear her when she pushed a chair
toward him and asked him to please sit down and tell her what to do;
that she was so alone in the world since poor dear Mr. Darling had
gone. (She always calls him poor dear Mr. Darling now, but Susie
says she didn't when he was alive; she called him something quite
different. I wonder what it was.)

Well, as I said, Father hitched and fidgeted, and said he didn't know,
he was sure; that she'd better take wiser counsel than his, and that
he was very sorry, but she really must excuse him. And he got through
the door while he was talking just as fast as he could himself, so
that she couldn't get in a single word to keep him. Then he was gone.

Mrs. Darling stayed on the piazza two whole hours longer, but Father
never came out at all again.

It was the next morning that Susie said this over the back-yard fence
to Bridget:

"It does beat all how popular this house is with the ladies--after
college hours!"

And Bridget chuckled and answered back:

"Sure it is! An' I do be thinkin' the Widder Darlin' is a heap fonder
of Miss Jane now than she would have been had poor dear Mr. Darlin'
lived!"

And she chuckled again, and so did Susie. And then, all of a sudden,
I knew. It was Father all those ladies wanted. It was Father Mrs.
Darling wanted. They came here to see him. They wanted to marry him.
_They_ were the prospective suitors. As if I didn't know what Susie
and Bridget meant! I'm no child!

But all this doesn't make Father like _them_. I'm not sure but it
makes him dislike them. Anyhow, he won't have anything to do with
them. He always runs away over to the observatory, or somewhere, and
won't see them; and I've heard him say things about them to Aunt Jane,
too--words that sound all right, but that don't mean what they say,
and everybody knows they don't. So, as I said before, I don't see any
chance of Father's having a love story to help out this book--not
right away, anyhow.

As for _my_ love story--I don't see any chance of that's beginning,
either. Yet, seems as if there ought to be the beginning of it by this
time--I'm going on fifteen. Oh, there have been _beginnings_, lots of
them--only Aunt Jane wouldn't let them go on and be endings, though I
told her good and plain that I thought it perfectly all right; and I
reminded her about the brook and river meeting where I stood, and all
that.

But I couldn't make her see it at all. She said, "Stuff and
nonsense"--and when Aunt Jane says _both_ stuff and nonsense I know
there's nothing _doing_. (Oh, dear, that's slang! Aunt Jane says she
does wish I would eliminate the slang from my vocabulary. Well, I
wish _she'd_ eliminate some of the long words from _hers_. Marie said
that--not Mary.)

Well, Aunt Jane said stuff and nonsense, and that I was much too young
to run around with silly boys. You see, Charlie Smith had walked home
from school with me twice, but I had to stop that. And Fred Small
was getting so he was over here a lot. Aunt Jane stopped _him_. Paul
Mayhew--yes, _Paul Mayhew_, Stella's brother!--came home with me, too,
and asked me to go with him auto-riding. My, how I did want to go! I
wanted the ride, of course, but especially I wanted to go because he
was Mrs. Mayhew's son. I just wanted to show Mrs. Mayhew! But Aunt
Jane wouldn't let me. That's the time she talked specially about
running around with silly boys. But she needn't have. Paul is no silly
boy. He's old enough to get a license to drive his own car.

But it wasn't just because he was young that Aunt Jane refused. I
found out afterward. It was because he was any kind of a man paying
me attention. I found that out through Mr. Claude Livingstone. Mr.
Livingstone brings our groceries. He's a _real_ young gentleman--tall,
black mustache, and lovely dark eyes. He goes to our church, and
he asked me to go to the Sunday-School picnic with him. I was _so_
pleased. And I supposed, of course, Aunt Jane would let me go with
_him. He's_ no silly boy! Besides, I knew him real well, and liked
him. I used to talk to him quite a lot when he brought the groceries.

But did Aunt Jane let me go? She did not. Why, she seemed almost more
shocked than she had been over Charlie Smith and Fred Small, and the
others.

"Mercy, child!" she exclaimed. "Where in the world do you pick
up these people?" And she brought out that "these people" _so_
disagreeably! Why, you'd think Mr. Livingstone was a foreign Japanese,
or something.

I told her then quietly, and with dignity, and with no temper
(showing), that Mr. Livingstone was not a foreign Japanese, but was a
very nice gentleman; and that I had not picked him up. He came to her
own door himself, almost every day.

"My own door!" exclaimed Aunt Jane. And she looked absolutely
frightened. "You mean to tell me that that creature has been coming
here to see you, and I not know it?"

I told her then--again quietly and with dignity, and without temper
(showing)--that he had been coming, not to see me, but in the natural
pursuance of his profession of delivering groceries. And I said
that he was not a creature. On the contrary, he was, I was sure, an
estimable young man. He went to her own church and Sunday-School.
Besides, I could vouch for him myself, as I knew him well, having seen
and talked with him almost every day for a long while, when he came to
the house.

But nothing I could say seemed to have the least effect upon her at
all, only to make her angrier and angrier, if anything. In fact _I_
think she showed a great deal of temper for a Christian woman about a
fellow Christian in her own church.

But she wouldn't let me go to the picnic; and not only that, but I
think she changed grocers, for Mr. Livingstone hasn't been here for a
long time, and when I asked Susie where he was she looked funny, and
said we weren't getting our groceries where Mr. Livingstone worked any
longer.

Well, of course, that ended that. And there hasn't been any other
since. That's why I say _my_ love story doesn't seem to be getting
along very well. Naturally, when it gets noised around town that your
Aunt Jane won't let you go anywhere with a young man, or let a young
man come to see you, or even walk home with you after the first
time--why, the young men aren't going to do very much toward making
your daily life into a love story.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Two weeks later._

A queer thing happened last night. It was like this:

I think I said before what an awfully stupid time Mary is having of
it, and how I couldn't play now, or make any noise, 'cause Father has
taken to hanging around the house so much. Well, listen what happened.

Yesterday Aunt Jane went to spend the day with her best friend. She
said for me not to leave the house, as some member of the family
should be there. She told me to sew an hour, weed an hour, dust the
house downstairs and upstairs, and read some improving book an hour.
The rest of the time I might amuse myself.

Amuse myself! A jolly time I could have all by myself! Even Father
wasn't to be home for dinner, so I wouldn't have _that_ excitement. He
was out of town, and was not to come home till six o'clock.

It was an awfully hot day. The sun just beat down, and there wasn't
a breath of air. By noon I was simply crazy with my stuffy,
long-sleeved, high-necked blue gingham dress and my great clumpy
shoes. It seemed all of a sudden as if I couldn't stand it--not
another minute--not a single minute more--to be Mary, I mean. And
suddenly I determined that for a while, just a little while, I'd be
Marie again. Why couldn't I? There wasn't anybody going to be there
but just myself, _all day long_.

I ran then upstairs to the guest-room closet where Aunt Jane had made
me put all my Marie dresses and things when the Mary ones came. Well,
I got out the very fluffiest, softest white dress there was there, and
the little white slippers and the silk stockings that I loved, and the
blue silk sash, and the little gold locket and chain that Mother gave
me that Aunt Jane wouldn't let me wear. And I dressed up. My, didn't
I dress up? And I just _threw_ those old heavy shoes and black cotton
stockings into the corner, and the blue gingham dress after them
(though Mary went right away and picked the dress up, and hung it in
the closet, of course); but I had the fun of throwing it, anyway.

Oh, how good those Marie things did feel to Mary's hot, tired flesh
and bones, and how I did dance and sing around the room in those light
little slippers! Then Susie rang the dinner-bell and I went down to
the dining-room feeling like a really truly young lady, I can tell
you.

Susie stared, of course and said, "My, how fine we are to-day!" But I
didn't mind Susie.

After dinner I went out into the hall and I sang; I sang all over the
house. And I ran upstairs and I ran down; and I jumped all the last
three steps, even if it was so warm. Then I went into the parlor and
played every lively thing that I could think of on the piano. And I
sang there, too--silly little songs that Marie used to sing to Lester.
And I tried to think I was really down there to Boston, singing to
Lester; and that Mother was right in the next room waiting for me.

Then I stopped and turned around on the piano-stool. And there was the
coffin plate, and the wax cross, and the hair wreath; and the room was
just as still as death. And I knew I wasn't in Boston. I was there in
Andersonville, And there wasn't any Baby Lester there, nor any mother
waiting for me in the next room. And all the fluffy white dresses and
silk stockings in the world wouldn't make me Marie. I was really just
Mary, and I had got to have three whole months more of it.

And then is when I began to cry. And I cried just as hard as I'd been
singing a minute before. I was on the floor with my head in my arms on
the piano-stool when Father's voice came to me from the doorway.

"Mary, Mary, what in the world does this mean?"

I jumped up and stood "at attention," the way you have to, of course,
when fathers speak to you. I couldn't help showing I had been
crying--he had seen it. But I tried very hard to stop now. My first
thought, after my startled realization that he was there, was to
wonder how long he had been there--how much of all that awful singing
and banging he had heard.

"Yes, sir." I tried not to have my voice shake as I said it; but I
couldn't quite help that.

"What is the meaning of this, Mary? Why are you crying?"

I shook my head. I didn't want to tell him, of course; so I just
stammered out something about being sorry I had disturbed him. Then
I edged toward the door to show him that if he would step one side I
would go away at once and not bother him any longer.

But he didn't step one side. He asked more questions, one right after
another.

"Are you sick, Mary?"

I shook my head.

"Did you hurt yourself?"

I shook my head again.

"It isn't--your mother--you haven't had bad news from her?"

And then I blurted it out without thinking--without thinking at all
what I was saying: "No, no--but I wish I had, I wish I had; 'cause
then I could go to her, and go away from here!" The minute I'd said
it I _knew_ what I'd said, and how awful it sounded; and I clapped my
fingers to my lips. But 'twas too late. It's always too late, when
you've once said it. So I just waited for him to thunder out his
anger; for, of course, I thought he _would_ thunder in rage and
righteous indignation.

But he didn't. Instead, very quietly and gently he said:

"Are you so unhappy, then, Mary--here?"

And I looked at him, and his eyes and his mouth and his whole face
weren't angry at all. They were just sorry, actually sorry. And
somehow, before I knew it, I was crying again, and Father, with his
arm around me--_with his arm around me!_ think of that!--was leading
me to the sofa.

And I cried and cried there, with my head on the arm of the sofa, till
I'd made a big tear spot on the linen cover; and I wondered if it
would dry up before Aunt Jane saw it, or if it would change color
or leak through to the red plush underneath, or some other dreadful
thing. And then, some way, I found myself telling it all over to
Father--about Mary and Marie, I mean, just as if he was Mother, or
some one I loved--I mean, some one I loved and _wasn't afraid of_; for
of course I love Father. Of course I do!

Well, I told him everything (when I got started there was no
stopping)--all about how hard it was to be Mary, and how to-day I had
tried to be Marie for just a little while, to rest me. He interrupted
here, and wanted to know if that was why I looked so different
to-day--more as I had when I first came; and I said yes, that these
were Marie things that Mary couldn't wear. And when he asked, "Why,
pray?" in a voice almost cross, I told him, of course, that Aunt Jane
wouldn't let me; that Mary had to wear brown serge and calfskin boots
that were durable, and that would wear well.

And when I told him how sorry I was about the music and such a noise
as I'd been making, he asked if _that_ was Marie's fault, too; and I
said yes, of course--that Aunt Jane didn't like to have Mary play at
all, except hymns and funeral marches, and Mary didn't know any. And
he grunted a queer little grunt, and said, "Well, well, upon my soul,
upon my soul!" Then he said, "Go on." And I did go on.

I told him how I was afraid it _was_ going to be just like Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde. (I forgot to say I've read it now. I found it in
Father's library.) Of course not _just_ like it, only one of me was
going to be bad, and one good, I was afraid, if I didn't look out. I
told him how Marie always wanted to kick up rugs, and move the chairs
out of their sockets in the carpet, and leave books around handy, and
such things. And so to-day it seemed as if I'd just got to have a
vacation from Mary's hot gingham dresses and clumpy shoes. And I told
him how lonesome I was without anybody, not _anybody_; and I told
about Charlie Smith and Paul Mayhew and Mr. Claude Livingstone,
and how Aunt Jane wouldn't let me have them, either, even if I was
standing where the brook and river meet.

Father gave another funny little grunt here, and got up suddenly and
walked over to the window. I thought at first he was angry; but he
wasn't. He was even more gentle when he came back and sat down again,
and he seemed interested, very much interested in everything I told
him. But I stopped just in time from saying again how I wished I could
go back to Boston; but I'm not sure but he knew I was going to say it.

But he was very nice and kind and told me not to worry about the
music--that he didn't mind it at all. He'd been in several times and
heard it. And I thought almost, by the way he spoke, that he'd come in
on purpose to hear it; but I guess that was a mistake. He just put it
that way so I wouldn't worry over it--about its bothering him, I mean.

He was going to say more, maybe; but I don't know, I had to run. I
heard Aunt Jane's voice on the piazza saying good-bye to the lady that
had brought her home; so, of course, I had to run and hang Marie in
the closet and get out Mary from the corner before she saw me. And I
did.

By dinner-time I had on the gingham dress and the hot clumpy shoes
again; and I had washed my face in cold water so I had got most of the
tear spots off. I didn't want Aunt Jane to see them and ask questions,
of course. And I guess she didn't. Anyway, she didn't say anything.

Father didn't say anything either, but he acted queer. Aunt Jane tried
to tell him something about the missionary meeting and the heathen,
and a great famine that was raging. At first he didn't say anything;
then he said, oh, yes, to be sure, how very interesting, and he was
glad, very glad. And Aunt Jane was so disgusted, and accused him
of being even more absent-minded than usual, which was entirely
unnecessary, she said.

But even that didn't move Father a mite. He just said, yes, yes, very
likely; and went on scowling to himself and stirring his coffee after
he'd drank it all up--I mean, stirring where it had been in the cup.

I didn't know but after supper he'd speak to me and ask me to come to
the library. I _hoped_ he would. There were lots more things I'd like
to have said to him. But he didn't. He never said a word. He just kept
scowling, and got up from the table and went off by himself. But he
didn't go out to the observatory, as he most generally does. He went
into the library and shut the door.

He was there when the telephone message came at eight o'clock. And
what do you think? He'd _forgotten_ he was going to speak before the
College Astronomy Club that evening! Forgotten his old stars for once.
I don't know why. I did think, for a minute, 'twas 'cause of me--what
I'd told him. But I knew, of course, right away that it couldn't be
that. He'd never forget his stars for _me_! Probably he was just
reading up about some other stars, or had forgotten how late it was,
or something. (Father's always forgetting things.) But, anyway, when
Aunt Jane called him he got his hat and hurried off without so much
as one word to me, who was standing near, or to Aunt Jane, who was
following him all through the hall, and telling him in her most
I'm-amazed-at-you voice how shockingly absent-minded he was getting to
be.

       *       *       *       *       *

_One week later._

Father's been awfully queer this whole week through. I can't make him
out at all. Sometimes I think he's glad I told him all those things in
the parlor that day I dressed up in Marie's things, and sometimes I
think he's sorry and wished I hadn't.

The very next morning he came down to breakfast with such a funny look
on his face. He said good-morning to me three times, and all through
breakfast he kept looking over at me with a kind of scowl that was not
cross at all--just puzzled.

After breakfast he didn't go out to the observatory, not even into the
library. He fidgeted around the dining-room till Aunt Jane went out
into the kitchen to give her orders to Susie; then he burst out, all
of a sudden:

"Well, Mary, what shall we do to-day?" Just like that he said it, as
if we'd been doing things together every day of our lives.

"D-do?" I asked; and I know I showed how surprised I was by the way I
stammered and flushed up.

"Certainly, do," he answered, impatient and scowling. "What shall we
do?"

"Why, Father, I--I don't know," I stammered again.

"Come, come, of course you know!" he cried. "You know what you want to
do, don't you?"

I shook my head. I was so astonished I couldn't even think. And when
you can't think you certainly can't talk.

"Nonsense, Mary," scowled Father again. "Of course you know what
you want to do! What are you in the habit of doing with your young
friends--your Carries and Charlies, and all the rest?"

I guess I just stood and stared and didn't say anything; for after a
minute he cried: "Well--well--well? I'm waiting."

"Why, we--we walk--and talk--and play games," I began; but right away
he interrupted.

"Good! Very well, then, we'll walk. I'm not Carrie or Charlie, but I
believe I can walk and talk--perhaps even play games. Who knows? Come,
get your hat."

And I got my hat, and we went.

But what a funny, funny walk that was! He meant to make it a good one;
I know he did. And he tried. He tried real hard. But he walked so
fast I couldn't half keep up with him; then, when he saw how I was
hurrying, he'd slow down, 'way down, and look so worried--till he'd
forget and go striding off again, way ahead of me.

We went up on the hill through the Benton woods, and it was perfectly
lovely up there. He didn't say much at first. Then, all of a sudden,
he began to talk, about anything and everything. And I knew, by the
way he did it, that he'd just happened to think he'd got to talk.

And how he talked! He asked me was I warmly clad (and here it is
August!), and did I have a good breakfast, and how old was I, and did
I enjoy my studies--which shows how little he was really thinking what
he was saying. He knows school closed ages ago. Wasn't he teaching me
himself the last of it, too? All around us were flowers and birds, and
oh, so many, many lovely things. But he never said a word about them.
He just talked--because he'd got to talk. I knew it, and it made me
laugh inside, though all the while it made me sort of want to cry,
too. Funny, wasn't it?

After a time he didn't talk any more, but just walked on and on; and
by and by we came home.

Of course, it wasn't awfully jolly--that walk wasn't; and I guess
Father didn't think it was either. Anyhow, he hasn't asked me to
go again this week, and he looked tired and worried and sort of
discouraged when he got back from that one.

But he's asked me to do other things. The next day after the walk he
asked me to play to him. Yes, he _asked_ me to; and he went into the
parlor and sat down on one of the chairs and listened while I played
three pieces. Of course, I didn't play loud ones, nor very fast ones,
and I was so scared I'm afraid I didn't play them very well. But he
was very polite and said, "Thank you, Mary," and, "That that was very
nice"; then he stood up and said, "Thank you" again and went away into
the library, very polite, but stiff, like company.

The next evening he took me out to the observatory to see the stars.
That was lovely. Honestly I had a perfectly beautiful time, and I
think Father did, too. He wasn't stiff and polite one bit. Oh, I don't
mean that he was _impolite_ or rude. It's just that he wasn't stiff
as if I was company. And he was so happy with his stars and his
telescope, and so glad to show them to me--oh, I had a beautiful time,
and I told him so; and he looked real pleased. But Aunt Jane came for
me before I'd had half enough, and I had to go to bed.

The next morning I thought he'd be different, somehow, because we'd
had such a lovely time together the night before. But he wasn't. He
just said, "Good-morning, Mary," and began to read his paper. And he
read his paper all through breakfast without saying another word to
me. Then he got up and went into the library, and I never saw him
again all day except at dinner-time and supper-time, and _then_ he
didn't talk to me.

But after supper he took me out again to see the stars, and he was
just as nice and friendly as could be. Not a bit like a man that's
only a father by order of the court. But the next day--!

Well--and that's the way it's been all the week. And that's why I say
he's been so queer. One minute he'll be just as nice and folksy as you
could ask anybody to be, and the very next he's looking right through
you as if he didn't see you at all, and you wonder and wonder what's
the matter, and if you've done anything to displease him.

Sometimes he seems almost glad and happy, and then he'll look so sorry
and sad!

I just can't understand my father at all.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Another week later_.

I'm so excited I don't know what to do. The most wonderful thing has
happened. I can't hardly believe it yet myself. Yet it's so. My trunk
is all packed, and I'm to go home to-morrow. _To-morrow!_

This is the way it happened.

Mother wrote Aunt Jane and asked if I might not be allowed to come
home for the opening of school in September. She said she understood
quite well that she had no _right_ to ask this, and, of course, if
they saw fit, they were entirely within their rights to refuse to
allow me to go until the allotted time. But that she could not help
asking it for my sake, on account of the benefit to be derived from
being there at the opening of the school year.

Of course, I didn't know Mother was going to write this. But she knew
all about the school here, and how I came out, and everything. I've
always told Mother everything that has happened. Oh, of course, I
haven't written "every few minutes," as she asked me to. (That was a
joke, anyway, of course.) But I have written every few days, and, as I
said before, I told her everything.

Well, when the letter came I took it to Aunt Jane myself; and I was
_crazy_ to know what was in it, for I recognized the writing, of
course. But Aunt Jane didn't tell me. She opened it, read it, kind of
flushed up, and said, "Humph! The idea!" under her breath, and put the
letter in her pocket.

Marie wanted to make a scene and insist on knowing what was in her own
mother's letter; but Mary contented herself with looking superb and
haughty and disdainful, and marching out of the room without giving
Aunt Jane the satisfaction of even being asked what was in that
letter.

But at the table that noon Aunt Jane read it to Father out loud. So
that's how I came to know just what was in it. She started first to
hand it over to him to read; but as he put out his hand to take it I
guess he saw the handwriting, for he drew back quickly, looking red
and queer.

"From Mrs. Anderson to you?" he asked. And when Aunt Jane nodded her
head he sat still farther back in his chair and said, with a little
wave of his hand, "I never care to read--other people's letters."

Aunt Jane said, "Stuff and nonsense, Charles, don't be silly!" But she
pulled back the letter and read it--after giving a kind of an uneasy
glance in my direction.

Father never looked up once while she was reading it. He kept his eyes
on his plate and the baked beans he was eating. I watched him. You
see, I knew, by Aunt Jane's reading the letter to him, that it was
something he had got to decide; and when I found out what it was, of
course, I was just crazy. I wanted to go so. So I watched Father's
face to see if he was going to let me go. But I couldn't make out. I
couldn't make out at all. It changed--oh, yes, it changed a great deal
as she read; but I couldn't make out what kind of a change it was at
all.

Aunt Jane finished the letter and began to fold it up. I could see she
was waiting for Father to speak; but he never said a word. He kept
right on--eating beans.

Then Aunt Jane cleared her throat and spoke.

"You will not let her go, of course, Charles; but naturally I had to
read the letter to you. I will write to Mrs. Anderson to-night."

Father looked up then.

"Yes," he said quietly; "and you may tell her, please, that Mary
_will_ go."

"Charles!"

Aunt Jane said that. But I--I almost ran around the table and hugged
him. (Oh, how I wish he was the kind of a father you could do that
to!)

"Charles!" said Aunt Jane again. "Surely you aren't going to give in
so tamely as this to that child and her mother!"

"I'm not giving in at all, Jane," said Father, very quietly again. "I
am consulting my own wishes in the matter. I prefer to have her go."

_I_ 'most cried out then. Some way, it _hurt_ to have him say it like
that, right out--that he _wanted_ me to go. You see, I'd begun to
think he was getting so he didn't mind so very much having me here.
All the last two weeks he'd been different, really different. But more
of that anon. I'll go on with what happened at the table. And, as I
said, I did feel bad to have him speak like that. And I can remember
now just how the lump came right up in my throat.

Then Aunt Jane spoke, stiff and dignified.

"Oh, very well, of course, if you put it that way. I can quite well
understand that you would want her to go--for _your_ sake. But I
thought that, under the circumstances, you would manage somehow to put
up with the noise and--"

"Jane!" Just like that he interrupted, and he thundered, too, so that
Aunt Jane actually jumped. And I guess I did, too. He had sprung to
his feet. "Jane, let us close this matter once for all. I am not
letting the child go for _my_ sake. I am letting her go for her own.
So far as I am concerned, if I consulted no one's wishes but my own, I
should--keep her here always."

With that he turned and strode from the room, leaving Aunt Jane and me
just staring after him.

But only for a minute did _I_ stare. It came to me then what he had
said--that he would like to keep me here _always_. For I had heard it,
even if he had said the last word very low, and in a queer, indistinct
voice. I was sure I had heard it, and I suddenly realized what it
meant. So I ran after him; and that time, if I had found him, I think
I _would_ have hugged him. But I didn't find him. He must have gone
quite away from the house. He wasn't even out to the observatory. I
went out to see.

He didn't come in all the afternoon. I watched for that, too. And when
he did come--well, I wouldn't have dared to hug him then. He had his
very sternest I-am-not-thinking-of-you-at-all air, and he just came
in to supper and then went into the library without saying hardly
anything. Yet, some way, the look on his face made me cry. I don't
know why.

The next day he was more as he has been since we had that talk in the
parlor. And he _has_ been different since then, you know. He really
has. He has talked quite a lot with me, as I have said, and I think
he's been trying, part of the time, to find something I'll be
interested in. Honestly, I think he's been trying to make up
for Carrie Heywood and Stella Mayhew and Charlie Smith and Mr.
Livingstone. I think that's why he took me to walk that day in the
woods, and why he took me out to the observatory to see the stars
quite a number of times. Twice he's asked me to play to him, and once
he asked me if Mary wasn't about ready to dress up in Marie's clothes
again. But he was joking then, I knew, for Aunt Jane was right there
in the house. Besides, I saw the twinkle in his eyes that I've seen
there once or twice before. I just love that twinkle in Father's eyes!

But that hasn't come any since Mother's letter to Aunt Jane arrived.
He's been the same in one way, yet different in another. Honestly, if
it didn't seem too wildly absurd for anything, I should say he was
actually sorry to have me go. But, of course, that isn't possible. Oh,
yes, I know he said that day at the dinner-table that he should like
to keep me always. But I don't think he really meant it. He hasn't
acted a mite like that since, and I guess he said it just to hush up
Aunt Jane, and make her stop arguing the matter.

Anyway, I'm _going_ to-morrow. And I'm so excited I can hardly
breathe.



CHAPTER VI

WHEN I AM BOTH TOGETHER


BOSTON AGAIN.

Well, I came last night. Mother and Grandfather and Aunt Hattie and
Baby Lester all met me at the station. And, my! wasn't I glad to see
them? Well, I just guess I was!

I was specially glad on account of having such a dreadful time with
Father that morning. I mean, I was feeling specially lonesome and
homesick, and not-belonging-anywhere like.

You see, it was this way: I'd been sort of hoping, I know, that at
the last, when I came to really go, Father would get back the
understanding smile and the twinkle, and show that he really _did_
care for me, and was sorry to have me go. But, dear me! Why, he
never was so stern and solemn, and
you're-my-daughter-only-by-the-order-of-the-court sort of way as he
was that morning.

He never even spoke at the breakfast-table. (He wasn't there hardly
long enough to speak, anyway, and he never ate a thing, only his
coffee--I mean he drank it.) Then he pushed his chair back from the
table and stalked out of the room.

He went to the station with me; but he didn't talk there much, only to
ask if I was sure I hadn't forgotten anything, and was I warmly clad.
Warmly clad, indeed! And there it was still August, and hot as it
could be! But that only goes to show how absent-minded he was, and how
little he was really thinking of _me_!

Well, of course, he got my ticket and checked my trunk, and did all
those proper, necessary things; then we sat down to wait for the
train. But did he stay with me and talk to me and tell me how glad he
had been to have me with him, and how sorry he was to have me go, and
all the other nice, polite things 'most everybody thinks they've got
to say when a visitor goes away? He did not. He asked me again if I
was sure I had not left anything, and was I warmly clad; then he took
out his newspaper and began to read. That is, he pretended to read;
but I don't believe he read much, for he never turned the sheet once;
and twice, when I looked at him, he was looking fixedly at me, as if
he was thinking of something. So I guess he was just pretending to
read, so he wouldn't have to talk to me.

But he didn't even do that long, for he got up and went over and
looked at a map hanging on the wall opposite, and at a big time-table
near the other corner. Then he looked at his watch again with a
won't-that-train-ever-come? air, and walked back to me and sat down.

And how do you suppose _I_ felt, to have him act like that before all
those people--to show so plainly that he was just longing to have me
go? I guess he wasn't any more anxious for that train to come than _I_
was. And it did seem as if it never would come, too. And it didn't
come for ages. It was ten minutes late.

Oh, I did so hope he wouldn't go down to the junction. It's so hard to
be taken care of "because it's my duty, you know"! But he went. I told
him he needn't, when he was getting on the train with me. I told him I
just knew I could do it beautifully all by myself, almost-a-young lady
like me. But he only put his lips together hard, and said, cold, like
ice: "Are you then so eager to be rid of me?" Just as if _I_ was the
one that was eager to get rid of somebody!

Well, as I said, he went. But he wasn't much better on the train than
he had been in the station. He was as nervous and fidgety as a witch,
and he acted as if he did so wish it would be over and over quick. But
at the junction--at the junction a funny thing happened. He put me on
the train, just as Mother had done, and spoke to the conductor. (How
I hated to have him do that! Why, I'm six whole months older, 'most,
than I was when I went up there!) And then when he'd put me in my
seat (Father, I mean; not the conductor), all of a sudden he leaned
over and kissed me; _kissed me--Father_! Then, before I could speak,
or even look at him, he was gone; and I didn't see him again, though
it must have been five whole minutes before that train went.

I had a nice trip down to Boston, though nothing much happened. This
conductor was not near so nice and polite as the one I had coming up;
and there wasn't any lady with a baby to play with, nor any nice young
gentleman to loan me magazines or buy candy for me. But it wasn't a
very long ride from the junction to Boston, anyway. So I didn't mind.
Besides, I knew I had Mother waiting for me.

And wasn't I glad to get there? Well, I just guess I was! And _they_
acted as if they were glad to see me--Mother, Grandfather, Aunt
Hattie, and even Baby Lester. He knew me, and remembered me. He'd
grown a lot, too. And they said I had, and that I looked very nice. (I
forgot to say that, of course, I had put on the Marie clothes to come
home in--though I honestly think Aunt Jane wanted to send me home in
Mary's blue gingham and calfskin shoes. As if I'd have appeared in
Boston in _that_ rig!)

My, but it was good to get into an automobile again and just _go_! And
it was so good to have folks around you dressed in something besides
don't-care black alpaca and stiff collars. And I said so. And Mother
seemed so pleased.

"You did want to come back to me, darling, didn't you?" she cried,
giving me a little hug. And she looked so happy when I told her all
over again how good it seemed to be Marie again, and have her and
Boston, and automobiles, and pretty dresses and folks and noise again.

She didn't say anything about Father then; but later, when we were up
in my pretty room alone, and I was taking off my things, she made me
tell her that Father _hadn't_ won my love away from her, and that I
_didn't_ love him better than I did her; and that I _wouldn't_ rather
stay with him than with her.

Then she asked me a lot of questions about what I did there, and Aunt
Jane, and how she looked, and Father, and was he as fond of stars as
ever (though she must have known 'most everything, 'cause I'd already
written it, but she asked me just the same). And she seemed real
interested in everything I told her.

And she asked was he lonesome; and I told her no, I didn't think so;
and that, anyway, he could have all the ladies' company he wanted by
just being around when they called. And when she asked what I meant, I
told her about Mrs. Darling, and the rest, and how they came evenings
and Sundays, and how Father didn't like them, but would flee to the
observatory. And she laughed and looked funny, for a minute. But right
away she changed and looked very sober, with the kind of expression
she has when she stands up in church and says the Apostles' Creed on
Sunday; only this time she said she was very sorry, she was sure; that
she hoped my father would find some estimable woman who would make a
good home for him.

Then the dinner-gong sounded, and she didn't say any more.

There was company that evening. The violinist. He brought his violin,
and he and Mother played a whole hour together. He's awfully handsome.
I think he's lovely. Oh, I do so hope he's _the_ one! Anyhow, I hope
there's _some_ one. I don't want this novel to all fizzle out without
there being _any_ one to make it a love story! Besides, as I said
before, I'm particularly anxious that Mother shall find somebody to
marry her, so she'll stop being divorced, anyway.

       *       *       *       *       *

_A month later_.

Yes, I know it's been _ages_ since I've written here in this book; but
there just hasn't been a minute's time.

First, of course, school began, and I had to attend to that. And, of
course, I had to tell the girls all about Andersonville--except the
parts I didn't want to tell, about Stella Mayhew, and my coming out of
school. I didn't tell _that_. And right here let me say how glad I was
to get back to this school--a real school--so different from that one
up in Andersonville! For that matter, _everything's_ different here
from what it is in Andersonville. I'd so much rather be Marie than
Mary. I know I won't ever be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde here. I'll be the
good one all the time.

It's funny how much easier it is to be good in silk stockings and a
fluffy white dress than it is in blue gingham and calfskin. Oh, I'll
own up that Marie forgets sometimes and says things Mary used to say;
like calling Olga a hired girl instead of a maid, as Aunt Hattie
wants, and saying dinner instead of luncheon at noon, and some other
things.

I heard Aunt Hattie tell Mother one day that it was going to take
about the whole six months to break Mary Marie of those outlandish
country ways of hers. (So, you see, it isn't all honey and pie even
for Marie. This trying to be Mary and Marie, even six months apart,
isn't the easiest thing ever was!) I don't think Mother liked it very
well--what Aunt Hattie said about my outlandish ways. I didn't hear
all Mother said, but I knew by the way she looked and acted, and the
little I did hear, that she didn't care for that word "outlandish"
applied to her little girl--not at all.

Mother's a dear. And she's so happy! And, by the way, I think it _is_
the violinist. He's here a lot, and she's out with him to concerts
and plays, and riding in his automobile. And she always puts on her
prettiest dresses, and she's very particular about her shoes, and her
hats, that they're becoming, and all that. Oh, I'm so excited! And I'm
having such a good time watching them! Oh, I don't mean watching them
in a disagreeable way, so that they _see_ it; and, of course, I don't
listen--not the sneak kind of listening. But, of course, I have to get
all I can--for the book, you know; and, of course, if I just happen
to be in the window-seat corner in the library and hear things
accidentally, why, that's all right.

And I have heard things.

He says her eyes are lovely. He likes her best in blue. He's very
lonely, and he never found a woman before who really understood him.
He thinks her soul and his are tuned to the same string. (Oh, dear!
That sounds funny and horrid, and not at all the way it did when _he_
said it. It was beautiful then. But--well, that is what it meant,
anyway.)

She told him she was lonely, too, and that she was very glad to
have him for a friend; and he said he prized her friendship above
everything else in the world. And he looks at her, and follows her
around the room with his eyes; and she blushes up real pink and pretty
lots of times when he comes into the room.

Now, if that isn't making love to each other, I don't know what _is_.
I'm sure he's going to propose. Oh, I'm so excited!

Oh, yes, I know if he does propose and she says yes, he'll be my new
father. I understand that. And, of course, I can't help wondering how
I'll like it. Sometimes I think I won't like it at all. Sometimes I
almost catch myself wishing that I didn't have to have any new father
or mother. I'd _never_ need a new mother, anyway, and I wouldn't need
a new father if my father-by-order-of-the-court would be as nice as he
was there two or three times in the observatory.

But, there! After all, I must remember that I'm not the one that's
doing the choosing. It's Mother. And if she wants the violinist I
mustn't have anything to say. Besides, I really like him very much,
anyway. He's the best of the lot. I'm sure of that. And that's
something. And then, of course, I'm glad to have something to make
this a love story, and best of all I would be glad to have Mother stop
being divorced, anyway.

Mr. Harlow doesn't come here any more, I guess. Anyway, I haven't seen
him here once since I came back; and I haven't heard anybody mention
his name.

Quite a lot of the others are here, and there are some new ones. But
the violinist is here most, and Mother seems to go out with him most
to places. That's why I say I think it's the violinist.

I haven't heard from Father.

Now just my writing that down that way shows that I _expected_ to hear
from him, though I don't really see why I should, either. Of course,
he never _has_ written to me; and, of course, I understand that I'm
nothing but his daughter by order of the court. But, some way, I did
think maybe he'd write me just a little bit of a note in answer to
mine--my bread-and-butter letter, I mean; for of course, Mother had me
write that to him as soon as I got here.

But he hasn't.

I wonder how he's getting along, and if he misses me any. But of
course, he doesn't do _that_. If I was a star, now--!

       *       *       *       *       *

_Two days after Thanksgiving_.

The violinist has got a rival. I'm sure he has. It's Mr. Easterbrook.
He's old--much as forty--and bald-headed and fat, and has got lots of
money. And he's a very estimable man. (I heard Aunt Hattie say that.)
He's awfully jolly, and I like him. He brings me the loveliest boxes
of candy, and calls me Puss. (I don't like _that_, particularly. I'd
prefer him to call me Miss Anderson.) He's not nearly so good-looking
as the violinist. The violinist is lots more thrilling, but I
shouldn't wonder if Mr. Easterbrook was more comfortable to live with.

The violinist is the kind of a man that makes you want to sit up and
take notice, and have your hair and finger nails and shoes just right;
but with Mr. Easterbrook you wouldn't mind a bit sitting in a big
chair before the fire with a pair of old slippers on, if your feet
were tired.

Mr. Easterbrook doesn't care for music. He's a broker. He looks
awfully bored when the violinist is playing, and he fidgets with his
watch-chain, and clears his throat very loudly just before he
speaks every time. His automobile is bigger and handsomer than the
violinist's. (Aunt Hattie says the violinist's automobile is a hired
one.) And Mr. Easterbrook's flowers that he sends to Mother are
handsomer, too, and lots more of them, than the violinist's. Aunt
Hattie has noticed that, too. In fact, I guess there isn't anything
about Mr. Easterbrook that she doesn't notice.

Aunt Hattie likes Mr. Easterbrook lots better than she does the
violinist. I heard her talking to Mother one day. She said that any
one that would look twice at a lazy, shiftless fiddler with probably
not a dollar laid by for a rainy day, when all the while there was
just waiting to be picked an estimable gentleman of independent
fortune and stable position like Mr. Easterbrook--well, she had her
opinion of her; that's all. She meant Mother, of course. _I_ knew
that. I'm no child.

Mother knew it, too; and she didn't like it. She flushed up and bit
her lip, and answered back, cold, like ice.

"I understand, of course, what you mean, Hattie; but even if I
acknowledged that this very estimable, unimpeachable gentleman was
waiting to be picked (which I do not), I should have to remind you
that I've already had one experience with an estimable, unimpeachable
gentleman of independent fortune and stable position, and I do not
care for another."

"But, my dear Madge," began Aunt Hattie again, "to marry a man without
_any_ money--"

"I haven't married him yet," cut in Mother, cold again, like ice. "But
let me tell you this, Hattie. I'd rather live on bread and water in
a log cabin with the man I loved than in a palace with an estimable,
unimpeachable gentleman who gave me the shivers every time he came
into the room."

And it was just after she said this that I interrupted. I was right in
plain, sight in the window-seat reading; but I guess they'd forgotten
I was there, for they both jumped a lot when I spoke. And yet I'll
leave it to you if what I said wasn't perfectly natural.

"Of course, you would, Mother!" I cried. "And, anyhow, if you did
marry the violinist, and you found out afterward you didn't like him,
that wouldn't matter a mite, for you could _un_marry him at any time,
just as you did Father, and--"

But they wouldn't let me finish. They wouldn't let me say anything
more. Mother cried, "_Marie_!" in her most I'm-shocked-at-you voice;
and Aunt Hattie cried, "Child--child!" And she seemed shocked, too.
And both of them threw up their hands and looked at each other in the
did-you-ever-hear-such-a-dreadful-thing? way that old folks do when
young folks have displeased them. And them they both went right out of
the room, talking about the unfortunate effect on a child's mind, and
perverted morals, and Mother reproaching Aunt Hattie for talking about
those things before that child (meaning me, of course). Then they got
too far down the hall for me to hear any more. But I don't see why
they needed to have made such a fuss. It wasn't any secret that Mother
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
about it?

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
and said:

"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
myself."

"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!
Stop_!"

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
forget it.

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
bright.

"I think you have a letter here from--your father," she said, handing
it out.

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
did to-day.

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,
Hattie!"

And Aunt Hattie put her lips together with her most I-told-you-so air,
and said:

"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,
and said:

"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
    it up.

    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

    Your

    FATHER

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
cry.

"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
said so.

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.

       *       *       *       *       *

_March_.

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
doubt it.

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
every day.

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
Mother!

       *       *       *       *       *

_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.

       *       *       *       *       *

_April_.

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
said:

"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
self-discipline business.

But Mother never used to say anything about self-discipline.

_Is_ she getting to be like Aunt Jane?

       *       *       *       *       *

_One week later._

She is.

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!

       *       *       *       *       *

_May_.

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.

But, alas!

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_
last!

       *       *       *       *       *

_June_.

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.

Listen:

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?



CHAPTER VII

WHEN I AM NEITHER ONE


ANDERSONVILLE.

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,
FATHER!

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
Mr. Easterbrook's.

"And, pray, who is Mr. Easterbrook?" asked Father then. "The
violinist, perhaps--eh?"

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
year.

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
story.

_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
times.

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
before.

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.

       *       *       *       *       *

_August_.

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
now--

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,
and all.

_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,
and--"

"Married!" he interrupted again. (They never let _me_ interrupt like
that!)

"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
coming back.

"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
reading.

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
way.

"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."

"Eh? What?"

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
here.

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
down.

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
said:

"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?

       *       *       *       *       *

_September_.

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
his observatory.

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?



CHAPTER VIII

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
Father.

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
me.

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
for him.

"But I'll stay--I'll stay the whole six months next year!" I cried
again.

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
waving good-bye.

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
was--

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
Mary?"

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
to sleep.

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!

       *       *       *       *       *

_October._

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_
Mother, for--

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
right back."

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
said:

"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
right away.

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
word.

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
choked up.

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
talking.

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
fault.

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
settled.

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
excited I can hardly wait till to-morrow night. But--oh, if only
Mother would go, too!

       *       *       *       *       *

_Two days later_.

Well, _now_ I guess something's doing all right! And my hand is
shaking so I can hardly write--it wants to get ahead so fast and
_tell_. But I'm going to keep it sternly back and tell it just as it
happened, and not begin at the ice-cream instead of the soup.

Very well, then. I went last night with Grandfather and Aunt Hattie
to the reception; and Mother said I looked very sweet, and
any-father-ought-to-be-proud-of me in my new dress. Grandfather patted
me, put on his glasses, and said, "Well, well, bless my soul! Is this
our little Mary Marie?" And even Aunt Hattie said if I acted as well
as I looked I'd do very well. Then Mother kissed me and ran upstairs
_quick_. But I saw the tears in her eyes, and I knew why she hurried
so.

At the reception I saw Father right away, but he didn't see me for a
long time. He stood in a corner, and lots of folks came up and spoke
to him and shook hands; and he bowed and smiled--but in between, when
there wasn't anybody noticing, he looked so tired and bored. After a
time he stirred and changed his position, and I think he was hunting
for a chance to get away, when all of a sudden his eyes, roving around
the room, lighted on me.

My! but just didn't I love the way he came through that crowd,
straight toward me, without paying one bit of attention to the folks
that tried to stop him on the way. And when he got to me, he looked so
glad to see me, only there was the same quick searching with his eyes,
beyond and around me, as if he was looking for somebody else, just as
he had done the morning of the lecture. And I knew it was Mother, of
course. So I said:

"No, she didn't come."

"So I see," he answered. And there was such a hurt, sorry look away
back in his eyes. But right away he smiled, and said: "But _you_ came!
I've got _you_."

Then he began to talk and tell stories, just as if I was a young lady
to be entertained. And he took me over to where they had things to
eat, and just heaped my plate with chicken patties and sandwiches and
olives and pink-and-white frosted cakes and ice-cream (not all at
once, of course, but in order). And I had a perfectly beautiful time.
And Father seemed to like it pretty well. But after a while he grew
sober again, and his eyes began to rove all around the room.

He took me to a little seat in the corner then, and we sat down and
began to talk--only Father didn't talk much. He just listened to what
I said, and his eyes grew deeper and darker and sadder, and they
didn't rove around so much, after a time, but just stared fixedly at
nothing, away out across the room. By and by he stirred and drew a
long sigh, and said, almost under his breath:

"It was just such another night as this."

And of course, I asked what was--and then I knew, almost before he had
told me.

"That I first saw your mother, my dear."

"Oh, yes, I know!" I cried, eager to tell him that I _did_ know. "And
she must have looked lovely in that perfectly beautiful blue silk
dress all silver lace."

He turned and stared at me.

"How did _you_ know that?" he demanded.

"I saw it."

"You saw it!"

"Yesterday, yes--the dress," I nodded.

"But how _could_ you?" he asked, frowning, and looking so surprised.
"Why, that dress must be--seventeen years old, or more."

I nodded again, and I suppose I did look pleased: it's such fun to
have a secret, you know, and watch folks guess and wonder. And I kept
him guessing and wondering for quite a while. Then, of course, I told
him that it was upstairs in Grandfather's trunk-room; that Mother had
got it out, and I saw it.

"But, what--was your mother doing with that dress?" he asked then,
looking even more puzzled and mystified.

And then suddenly I thought and remembered that Mother was crying.
And, of course, she wouldn't want Father to know she was crying over
it--that dress she had worn when he first met her long ago! (I don't
think women ever want men to know such things, do you? I know I
shouldn't!) So I didn't tell. I just kind of tossed it off, and
mumbled something about her looking it over; and I was going to say
something else, but I saw that Father wasn't listening. He had begun
to talk again, softly, as if to himself.

"I suppose to-night, seeing you, and all this, brought it back to me
so vividly." Then he turned and looked at me. "You are very like your
mother to-night, dear."

"I suppose I am, maybe, when I'm Marie," I nodded.

He laughed with his lips, but his eyes didn't laugh one bit as he
said:

"What a quaint little fancy of yours that is, child--as if you were
two in one."

"But I am two in one," I declared. "That's why I'm a cross-current and
a contradiction, you know," I explained.

I thought he'd understand. But he didn't. I supposed, of course, he
knew what a cross-current and a contradiction was. But he turned again
and stared at me.

"A--_what_?" he demanded.

"A cross-current and a contradiction," I explained once more.
"Children of unlikes, you know. Nurse Sarah told me that long ago.
Didn't you ever hear that--that a child of unlikes was a cross-current
and a contradiction?"

"Well, no--I--hadn't," answered Father, in a queer, half-smothered
voice. He half started from his seat. I think he was going to walk up
and down, same as he usually does. But in a minute he saw he couldn't,
of course, with all those people around there. So he sat back again in
his chair. For a minute he just frowned and stared at nothing; then he
spoke again, as if half to himself.

"I suppose, Mary, we were--unlikes, your mother and I. That's just
what we were; though I never thought of it before, in just that way."

He waited, then went on, still half to himself, his eyes on the
dancers:

"She loved things like this--music, laughter, gayety. I abhorred them.
I remember how bored I was that night here--till I saw her."

"And did you fall in love with her right away?" I just couldn't help
asking that question. Oh, I do so adore love stories!

A queer little smile came to Father's lips.

"Well, yes, I think I did, Mary. There'd been dozens and dozens of
young ladies that had flitted by in their airy frocks--and I never
looked twice at them. I never looked twice at your mother, for that
matter, Mary." (A funny little twinkle came into Father's eyes. I
_love_ him with that twinkle!) "I just looked at her once--and then
kept on looking till it seemed as if I just couldn't take my eyes off
her. And after a little her glance met mine--and the whole throng
melted away, and there wasn't another soul in the room but just us
two. Then she looked away, and the throng came back. But I still
looked at her."

"Was she so awfully pretty, Father?" I could feel the little thrills
tingling all over me. _Now_ I was getting a love story!

"She was, my dear. She was very lovely. But it wasn't just that--it
was a joyous something that I could not describe. It was as if she
were a bird, poised for flight. I know it now for what it was--the
very incarnation of the spirit of youth. And she _was_ young. Why,
Mary, she was not so many years older than you yourself, now."

I nodded, and I guess I sighed.

"I know--where the brook and river meet," I said; "only they won't let
_me_ have any lovers at all."

"Eh? What?" Father had turned and was looking at me so funny. "Well,
no, I should say not," he said then. "You aren't sixteen yet. And your
mother--I suspect _she_ was too young. If she hadn't been quite so
young--"

He stopped, and stared again straight ahead at the dancers--without
seeing one of them, I knew. Then he drew a great deep sigh that seemed
to come from the very bottom of his boots.

"But it was my fault, my fault, every bit of it," he muttered, still
staring straight ahead. "If I hadn't been so thoughtless--As if I
could imprison that bright spirit of youth in a great dull cage of
conventionality, and not expect it to bruise its wings by fluttering
against the bars!"

I thought that was perfectly beautiful--that sentence. I said it right
over to myself two or three times so I wouldn't forget how to write it
down here. So I didn't quite hear the next things that Father said.
But when I did notice, I found he was still talking--and it was about
Mother, and him, and their marriage, and their first days at the old
house. I knew it was that, even if he did mix it all up about the
spirit of youth beating its wings against the bars. And over and over
again he kept repeating that it was his fault, it was his fault; and
if he could only live it over again he'd do differently.

And right there and then it came to me that Mother said it was her
fault, too; and that if only she could live it over again, _she'd_ do
differently. And here was Father saying the same thing. And all of a
sudden I thought, well, why can't they try it over again, if they both
want to, and if each says it, was their--no, his, no, hers--well, his
and her fault. (How does the thing go? I hate grammar!) But I mean, if
she says it's her fault, and he says it's his. That's what I thought,
anyway. And I determined right then and there to give them the chance
to try again, if speaking would do it.

I looked up at Father. He was still talking half under his breath, his
eyes looking straight ahead. He had forgotten all about me. That was
plain to be seen. If I'd been a cup of coffee without any coffee in
it, he'd have been stirring me. I know he would. He was like that.

"Father. _Father!_" I had to speak twice, before he heard me. "Do you
really mean that you would like to try again?" I asked.

"Eh? What?" And just the way he turned and looked at me showed how
many _miles_ he'd been away from me.

"Try it again, you know--what you said," I reminded him.

"Oh, that!" Such a funny look came to his face, half ashamed, half
vexed. "I'm afraid I _have_ been--talking, my dear."

"Yes, but would you?" I persisted.

He shook his head; then, with such an oh-that-it-could-be! smile, he
said:

"Of course;--we all wish that we could go back and do it over
again--differently. But we never can."

"I know; like the cloth that's been cut up into the dress," I nodded.

"Cloth? Dress?" frowned Father.

"Yes, that Mother told me about," I explained. Then I told him the
story that Mother had told me--how you couldn't go back and be
unmarried, just as you were before, any more than you could put the
cloth back on the shelf, all neatly folded in a great long web after
it had been cut up into a dress.

"Did your mother say--that?" asked Father. His voice was husky, and
his eyes were turned away, but they were not looking at the dancers.
He was listening to me now. I knew that, and so I spoke quick, before
he could get absent-minded again.

"Yes, but, Father, you can go back, in this case, and so can Mother,
'cause you both want to," I hurried on, almost choking in my anxiety
to get it all out quickly. "And Mother said it was _her_ fault. I
heard her."

"_Her_ fault!" I could see that Father did not quite understand, even
yet.

"Yes, yes, just as you said it was yours--about all those things at
the first, you know, when--when she was a spirit of youth beating
against the bars."

Father turned square around and faced me.

"Mary, what are you talking about?" he asked then. And I'd have been
scared of his voice if it hadn't been for the great light that was
shining in his eyes.

But I looked into his eyes, and wasn't scared; and I told him
everything, every single thing--all about how Mother had cried over
the little blue dress that day in the trunk-room, and how she had
shown the tarnished lace and said that _she_ had tarnished the
happiness of him and of herself and of me; and that it was all her
fault; that she was thoughtless and willful and exacting and a spoiled
child; and, oh, if she could only try it over again, how differently
she would do! And there was a lot more. I told everything--everything
I could remember. Some way, I didn't believe that Mother would mind
_now_, after what Father had said. And I just knew she wouldn't mind
if she could see the look in Father's eyes as I talked.

He didn't interrupt me--not long interruptions. He did speak out a
quick little word now and then, at some of the parts; and once I know
I saw him wipe a tear from his eyes. After that he put up his hand and
sat with his eyes covered all the rest of the time I was talking. And
he didn't take it down till I said:

"And so, Father, that's why I told you; 'cause it seemed to me if
_you_ wanted to try again, and _she_ wanted to try again, why can't
you do it? Oh, Father, think how perfectly lovely 'twould be if you
did, and if it worked! Why, I wouldn't care whether I was Mary or
Marie, or what I was. I'd have you and Mother both together, and, oh,
how I should love it!"

It was just here that Father's arm came out and slipped around me in a
great big hug.

"Bless your heart! But, Mary, my dear, how are we going to--to bring
this about?" And he actually stammered and blushed, and he looked
almost young with his eyes so shining and his lips so smiling. And
then is when my second great idea came to me.

"Oh, Father!" I cried, "couldn't you come courting her again--calls
and flowers and candy, and all the rest? Oh, Father, couldn't you?
Why, Father, of course, you could!"

This last I added in my most persuasive voice, for I could see the
"no" on his face even before he began to shake his head.

"I'm afraid not, my dear," he said then. "It would take more than
a flower or a bonbon to to win your mother back now, I fear."

"But you could try," I urged.

He shook his head again.

"She wouldn't see me--if I called, my dear," he answered.

He sighed as he said it, and I sighed, too. And for a minute I didn't
say anything. Of course, if she wouldn't _see_ him--

Then another idea came to me.

"But, Father, if she _would_ see you--I mean, if you got a chance, you
_would_ tell her what you told me just now; about--about its being
your fault, I mean, and the spirit of youth beating against the bars,
and all that. You would, wouldn't you?"

He didn't say anything, not anything, for such a long time I thought
he hadn't heard me. Then, with a queer, quick drawing-in of his
breath, he said:

"I think--little girl--if--if I ever got the chance I would say--a
great deal more than I said to you to-night."

"Good!" I just crowed the word, and I think I clapped my hands; but
right away I straightened up and was very fine and dignified, for I
saw Aunt Hattie looking at me from across the room, as I said:

"Very good, then. You shall have the chance."

He turned and smiled a little, but he shook his head.

"Thank you, child; but I don't think you know quite what you're
promising," he said.

"Yes, I do."

Then I told him my idea. At first he said no, and it couldn't be, and
he was very sure she wouldn't see him, even if he called. But I said
she would if he would do exactly as I said. And I told him my plan.
And after a time and quite a lot of talk, he said he would agree to
it.

And this morning we did it.

At exactly ten o'clock he came up the steps of the house here, but he
didn't ring the bell. I had told him not to do that, and I was on the
watch for him. I knew that at ten o'clock Grandfather would be gone,
Aunt Hattie probably downtown shopping, and Lester out with his
governess. I wasn't so sure of Mother, but I knew it was Saturday, and
I believed I could manage somehow to keep her here with me, so that
everything would be all right there.

And I did. I had a hard time, though. Seems as if she proposed
everything to do this morning--shopping, and a walk, and a call on
a girl I knew who was sick. But I said I did not feel like doing
anything but just to stay at home and rest quietly with her. (Which
was the truth--I _didn't_ feel like doing _anything else_!) But that
almost made matters worse than ever, for she said that was so totally
unlike me that she was afraid I must be sick; and I had all I could do
to keep her from calling a doctor.

[Illustration: THEN I TOLD HIM MY IDEA]

But I did it; and at five minutes before ten she was sitting quietly
sewing in her own room. Then I went downstairs to watch for Father.

He came just on the dot, and I let him in and took him into the
library. Then I went upstairs and told Mother there was some one
downstairs who wanted to see her.

And she said, how funny, and wasn't there any name, and where was the
maid. But I didn't seem to hear. I had gone into my room in quite a
hurry, as if I had forgotten something I wanted to do there. But,
of course, I didn't do a thing--except to make sure that she went
downstairs to the library.

They're there now _together_. And he's been here a whole hour already.
Seems as if he ought to say _something_ in that length of time!

After I was sure Mother was down, I took out this, and began to write
in it. And I've been writing ever since. But, oh, I do so wonder
what's going on down there. I'm so excited over--

       *       *       *       *       *

_One week later_.

At just that minute Mother came into the room. I wish you could have
seen her. My stars, but she looked pretty!--with her shining eyes and
the lovely pink in her cheeks. And _young_! Honestly, I believe she
looked younger than I did that minute.

She just came and put her arms around me and kissed me; and I saw
then that her eyes were all misty with tears. She didn't say a word,
hardly, only that Father wanted to see me, and I was to go right down.

And I went.

I thought, of course, that she was coming too. But she didn't. And
when I got down the stairs I found I was all alone; but I went right
on into the library, and there was Father waiting for me.

_He_ didn't say much, either, at first; but just like Mother he put
his arms around me and kissed me, and held me there. Then, very soon,
he began to talk; and, oh, he said such beautiful things--_such_
tender, lovely, sacred things; too sacred even to write down here.
Then he kissed me again and went away.

But he came back the next day, and he's been here some part of every
day since. And, oh, what a wonderful week it has been!

They're going to be married. It's to-morrow. They'd have been married
right away at the first, only they had to wait--something about
licenses and a five-day notice, Mother said. Father fussed and fumed,
and wanted to try for a special dispensation, or something; but Mother
laughed, and said certainly not, and that she guessed it was just as
well, for she positively _had_ to have a few things; and he needn't
think he could walk right in like that on a body and expect her to
get married at a moment's notice. But she didn't mean it. I know she
didn't; for when Father reproached her, she laughed softly, and called
him an old goose, and said, yes, of course, she'd have married him
in two minutes if it hadn't been for the five-day notice, no matter
whether she ever had a new dress or not.

And that's the way it is with them all the time. They're too funny and
lovely together for anything. (Aunt Hattie says they're too silly for
anything; but nobody minds Aunt Hattie.) They just can't seem to do
enough for each other. Father was going next week to a place 'way on
the other side of the world to view an eclipse of the moon, but he
said right off he'd give it up. But Mother said, "No, indeed," she
guessed he _wouldn't_ give it up; that he was going, and that she was
going, too--a wedding trip; and that she was sure she didn't know a
better place to go for a wedding trip than the moon! And Father was
_so_ pleased. And he said he'd try not to pay all his attention to the
stars this time; and Mother laughed and said, "Nonsense," and that she
adored stars herself, and that he _must_ pay attention to the stars.
It was his business to. Then she looked very wise and got off
something she'd read in the astronomy book. And they both laughed, and
looked over to me to see if I was noticing. And I was. And so then we
all laughed.

And, as I said before, it is all perfectly lovely and wonderful.

So it's all settled, and they're going right away on this trip and
call it a wedding trip. And, of course, Grandfather had to get off his
joke about how he thought it was a pretty dangerous business; and to
see that _this_ honeymoon didn't go into an eclipse while they were
watching the other one. But nobody minds Grandfather.

I'm to stay here and finish school. Then, in the spring, when Father
and Mother come back, we are all to go to Andersonville and begin to
live in the old house again.

Won't it be lovely? It just seems too good to be true. Why, I don't
care a bit now whether I'm Mary or Marie. But, then, nobody else does,
either. In fact, both of them call me the whole name now, Mary Marie.
I don't think they ever _said_ they would. They just began to do it.
That's all.

Of course, anybody can see why: _now_ each one is calling me the other
one's name along with their own. That is, Mother is calling me Mary
along with her pet Marie, and Father is calling me Marie along with
his pet Mary.

Funny, isn't it?

But one thing is sure, anyway. How about this being a love story
_now_? Oh, I'm so excited!



CHAPTER IX

WHICH IS THE TEST


ANDERSONVILLE. _Twelve years later_.

_Twelve years_--yes. And I'm twenty-eight years old. Pretty old,
little Mary Marie of the long ago would think. And, well, perhaps
to-day I feel just as old as she would put it.

I came up into the attic this morning to pack away some things I shall
no longer need, now that I am going to leave Jerry. (Jerry is
my husband.) And in the bottom of my little trunk I found this
manuscript. I had forgotten that such a thing existed; but with its
laboriously written pages before me, it all came back to me; and I
began to read; here a sentence; there a paragraph; somewhere else a
page. Then, with a little half laugh and half sob, I carried it to an
old rocking-chair by the cobwebby dormer window, and settled myself to
read it straight through.

And I have read it.

Poor little Mary Marie! Dear little Mary Marie! To meet you like this,
to share with you your joys and sorrows, hopes and despairs, of
those years long ago, is like sitting hand in hand on a sofa with a
childhood's friend, each listening to an eager "And do you remember?"
falling constantly from delighted lips that cannot seem to talk half
fast enough.

But you have taught me much, little Mary Marie. I understand--oh, I
understand so many things so much better, now, since reading this
little story in your round childish hand. You see, I had almost
forgotten that I was a Mary and a Marie--Jerry calls me Mollie--and I
had wondered what were those contending forces within me. I know now.
It is the Mary and the Marie trying to settle their old, old quarrel.

It was almost dark when I had finished the manuscript. The far corners
of the attic were peopled with fantastic shadows, and the spiders in
the window were swaying, lazy and full-stomached, in the midst of the
day's spoils of gruesome wings and legs. I got up slowly, stiffly,
shivering a little. I felt suddenly old and worn and ineffably weary.
It is a long, long journey back to our childhood--sometimes, even
though one may be only twenty-eight.

I looked down at the last page of the manuscript. It was written on
the top sheet of a still thick pad of paper, and my fingers fairly
tingled suddenly, to go on and cover those unused white sheets--tell
what happened next--tell the rest of the story; not for the sake of
the story--but for my sake. It might help me. It might make things
clearer. It might help to justify myself in my own eyes. Not that I
have any doubts, of course (about leaving Jerry, I mean), but that
when I saw it in black and white I could be even more convinced that I
was doing what was best for him and best for me.

So I brought the manuscript down to my own room, and this evening I
have commenced to write. I can't finish it to-night, of course. But I
have to-morrow, and still to-morrow. (I have so many to-morrows now!
And what do they all amount to?) And so I'll just keep writing, as I
have time, till I bring it to the end.

I'm sorry that it must be so sad and sorry an end. But there's no
other way, of course. There can be but one ending, as I can see. I'm
sorry. Mother'll be sorry, too. She doesn't know yet. I hate to tell
her. Nobody knows--not even Jerry himself--yet. They all think I'm
just making a visit to Mother--and I am--till I write that letter to
Jerry. And then--

I believe now that I'll wait till I've finished writing this. I'll
feel better then. My mind will be clearer. I'll know more what to say.
Just the effort of writing it down--

Of course, if Jerry and I hadn't--

But this is no way to begin. Like the little Mary Marie of long ago I
am in danger of starting my dinner with ice-cream instead of soup!
And so I must begin where I left off, of course. And that was at the
wedding.

I remember that wedding as if it were yesterday. I can see now, with
Mary Marie's manuscript before me, why it made so great an impression
upon me. It was a very quiet wedding, of course--just the members
of the family present. But I shall never forget the fine, sweet
loveliness of Mother's face, nor the splendid strength and tenderness
of Father's. And the way he drew her into his arms and kissed her,
after it was all over--well, I remember distinctly that even Aunt
Hattie choked up and had to turn her back to wipe her eyes.

They went away at once, first to New York for a day or two, then to
Andersonville, to prepare for the real wedding trip to the other side
of the world. I stayed in Boston at school; and because nothing of
consequence happened all those weeks and months is the reason, I
suspect, why the manuscript got tossed into the bottom of my little
trunk and stayed there.

In the spring, when Father and Mother returned, and we all went back
to Andersonville, there followed another long period of just happy
girlhood, and I suspect I was too satisfied and happy to think of
writing. After all, I've noticed it's when we're sad or troubled over
something that we have that tingling to cover perfectly good white
paper with "confessions" and "stories of my life." As witness right
now what I'm doing.

And so it's not surprising, perhaps, that Mary Marie's manuscript
still lay forgotten in the little old trunk after it was taken up to
the attic. Mary Marie was happy.

And it _was_ happy--that girlhood of mine, after we came back to
Andersonville. I can see now, as I look back at it, that Father and
Mother were doing everything in their power to blot out of my memory
those unhappy years of my childhood. For that matter, they were also
doing everything in their power to blot out of their _own_ memories
those same unhappy years. To me, as I look back at it, it seems
that they must have succeeded wonderfully. They were very happy, I
believe--Father and Mother.

Oh, it was not always easy--even I could see that. It took a lot of
adjusting--a lot of rubbing off of square corners to keep the daily
life running smoothly. But when two persons are determined that it
shall run smoothly--when each is steadfastly looking to the _other's_
happiness, not at his own--why, things just can't help smoothing out
then. But it takes them both. One can't do it alone. Now, if Jerry
would only--

But it isn't time to speak of Jerry yet.

I'll go back to my girlhood.

It was a trying period--it must have been--for Father and Mother, in
spite of their great love for me, and their efforts to create for me
a happiness that would erase the past from my mind. I realize it now.
For, after all, I was just a girl--a young girl, like other girls;
high-strung, nervous, thoughtless, full of my whims and fancies; and,
in addition, with enough of my mother and enough of my father within
me to make me veritably a cross-current and a contradiction, as I had
said that I was in the opening sentence of my childish autobiography.

I had just passed my sixteenth birthday when we all came back to live
in Andersonville. For the first few months I suspect that just the
glory and the wonder and joy of living in the old home, with Father
and Mother _happy together_, was enough to fill all my thoughts. Then,
as school began in the fall, I came down to normal living again, and
became a girl--just a growing girl in her teens.

How patient Mother was, and Father, too! I can see now how gently and
tactfully they helped me over the stones and stumbling-blocks that
strew the pathway of every sixteen-year-old girl who thinks, because
she has turned down her dresses and turned up her hair, that she is
grown up, and can do and think and talk as she pleases.

I well remember how hurt and grieved and superior I was at Mother's
insistence upon more frequent rubbers and warm coats, and fewer
ice-cream sodas and chocolate bonbons. Why, surely I was old enough
_now_ to take care of myself! Wasn't I ever to be allowed to have my
own opinions and exercise my own judgment? It seemed not! Thus spoke
superior sixteen.

As for clothes!--I remember distinctly the dreary November rainstorm
of the morning I reproachfully accused Mother of wanting to make me
back into a stupid little Mary, just because she so uncompromisingly
disapproved of the beaded chains and bangles and jeweled combs and
spangled party dresses that "every girl in school" was wearing. Why,
the idea! Did she want me to dress like a little frump of a country
girl? It seems she did.

Poor mother! Dear mother! I wonder how she kept her patience at all.
But she kept it. I remember that distinctly, too.

It was that winter that I went through the morbid period. Like our
childhood's measles and whooping cough, it seems to come to most of
us--us women children. I wonder why? Certainly it came to me. True to
type I cried by the hour over fancied slights from my schoolmates, and
brooded days at a time because Father or Mother "didn't understand," I
questioned everything in the earth beneath and the heavens above;
and in my dark despair over an averted glance from my most intimate
friend, I meditated on whether life was, or was not, worth the living,
with a preponderance toward the latter.

Being plunged into a state of settled gloom, I then became acutely
anxious as to my soul's salvation, and feverishly pursued every ism
and ology that caught my roving eye's attention, until in one short
month I had become, in despairing rotation, an incipient agnostic,
atheist, pantheist, and monist. Meanwhile I read Ibsen, and wisely
discussed the new school of domestic relationships.

Mother--dear mother!--looked on aghast. She feared, I think, for my
life; certainly for my sanity and morals.

It was Father this time who came to the rescue. He pooh-poohed
Mother's fears; said it was indigestion that ailed me, or that I was
growing too fast; or perhaps I didn't get enough sleep, or needed,
maybe, a good tonic. He took me out of school, and made it a point to
accompany me on long walks. He talked with me--not _to_ me--about the
birds and the trees and the sunsets, and then about the deeper things
of life, until, before I realized it, I was sane and sensible once
more, serene and happy in the simple faith of my childhood, with all
the isms and ologies a mere bad dream in the dim past.

I was seventeen, if I remember rightly, when I became worried, not
over my heavenly estate now, but my earthly one. I must have a career,
of course. No namby-pamby everyday living of dishes and dusting and
meals and babies for me. It was all very well, of course, for some
people. Such things had to be. But for me--

I could write, of course; but I was not sure but that I preferred the
stage. At the same time there was within me a deep stirring as of a
call to go out and enlighten the world, especially that portion of it
in darkest Africa or deadliest India. I would be a missionary.

Before I was eighteen, however, I had abandoned all this. Father put
his foot down hard on the missionary project, and Mother put hers down
on the stage idea. I didn't mind so much, though, as I remember, for
on further study and consideration, I found that flowers and applause
were not all of an actor's life, and that Africa and India were not
entirely desirable as a place of residence for a young woman alone.
Besides, I had decided by then that I could enlighten the world just
as effectually (and much more comfortably) by writing stories at home
and getting them printed.

So I wrote stories--but I did not get any of them printed, in spite
of my earnest efforts. In time, therefore, that idea, also, was
abandoned; and with it, regretfully, the idea of enlightening the
world at all.

Besides, I had just then (again if I remember rightfully) fallen in
love.

Not that it was the first time. Oh, no, not at eighteen, when at
thirteen I had begun confidently and happily to look for it! What a
sentimental little piece I was! How could they have been so patient
with me--Father, Mother, everybody!

I think the first real attack--the first that I consciously
called love, myself--was the winter after we had all come back to
Andersonville to live. I was sixteen and in the high school.

It was Paul Mayhew--yes, the same Paul Mayhew that had defied his
mother and sister and walked home with me one night and invited me to
go for an automobile ride, only to be sent sharply about his business
by my stern, inexorable Aunt Jane. Paul was in the senior class now,
and the handsomest, most admired boy in school. He didn't care for
girls. That is, he said he didn't. He bore himself with a supreme
indifference that was maddening, and that took (apparently) no notice
of the fact that every girl in school was a willing slave to the mere
nodding of his head or the beckoning of his hand.

This was the condition of things when I entered school that fall,
and perhaps for a week thereafter. Then one day, very suddenly, and
without apparent reason, he awoke to the fact of my existence. Candy,
flowers, books--some one of these he brought to me every morning. All
during the school day he was my devoted gallant, dancing attendance
every possible minute outside of session hours, and walking home with
me in the afternoon, proudly carrying my books. Did I say "_home_ with
me"? That is not strictly true--he always stopped just one block short
of "home"--one block short of my gate. He evidently had not forgotten
Aunt Jane, and did not intend to take any foolish risks! So he said
good-bye to me always at a safe distance.

That this savored of deception, or was in any way objectionable, did
not seem to have occurred to me. Even if it had, I doubt very much if
my course would have been altered, for I was bewitched and fascinated
and thrilled with the excitement of it all. I was sixteen, remember,
and this wonderful Adonis and woman-hater had chosen me, _me!_--and
left all the other girls desolate and sighing, looking after us with
longing eyes. Of course, I was thrilled!

This went on for perhaps a week. Then he asked me to attend a school
sleigh-ride and supper with him.

I was wild with delight. At the same time I was wild with
apprehension. I awoke suddenly to the fact of the existence of Father
and Mother, and that their permission must be gained. And I had my
doubts--I had very grave doubts. Yet it seemed to me at that moment
that I just _had_ to go on that sleigh-ride. That it was the only
thing in the whole wide world worth while.

I can remember now, as if it were yesterday, the way I debated in my
mind as to whether I should ask Father, Mother, or both together; and
if I should let it be seen how greatly I desired to go, and how much
it meant to me; or if I should just mention it as in passing, and take
their permission practically for granted.

I chose the latter course, and I took a time when they were both
together. At the breakfast-table I mentioned casually that the school
was to have a sleigh-ride and supper the next Friday afternoon and
evening, and that Paul Mayhew had asked me to go with him, I said I
hoped it would be a pleasant night, but that I should wear my sweater
under my coat, anyway, and I'd wear my leggings, too, if they thought
it necessary.

(Sweater and leggings! Two of Mother's hobbies. Artful child!)

But if I thought that a sweater and a pair of leggings could muffle
their ears as to what had gone before, I soon found my mistake.

"A sleigh-ride, supper, and not come home until evening?" cried
Mother. "And with whom, did you say?"

"Paul Mayhew," I answered. I still tried to speak casually; at the
same time I tried to indicate by voice and manner something of the
great honor that had been bestowed upon their daughter.

Father was impressed--plainly impressed; but not at all in the way I
had hoped he would be. He gave me a swift, sharp glance; then looked
straight at Mother.

"Humph! Paul Mayhew! Yes, I know him," he said grimly. "And I'm
dreading the time when he comes into college next year."

"You mean--" Mother hesitated and stopped.

"I mean I don't like the company he keeps--already," nodded Father.

"Then you don't think that Mary Marie--" Mother hesitated again, and
glanced at me.

"Certainly not," said Father decidedly.

I knew then, of course, that he meant I couldn't go on the
sleigh-ride, even though he hadn't said the words right out. I forgot
all about being casual and indifferent and matter-of-course then. I
thought only of showing them how absolutely necessary it was for
them to let me go on that sleigh-ride, unless they wanted my life
forever-more hopelessly blighted.

I explained carefully how he was the handsomest, most popular boy
in school, and how all the girls were just crazy to be asked to go
anywhere with him; and I argued what if Father had seen him with boys
he did not like--then that was all the more reason why nice girls like
me, when he asked them, should go with him, so as to keep him away
from the bad boys! And I told them, that this was the first and last,
and only sleigh-ride of the school that year; and I said I'd be
heart-broken, just heart-broken, if they did not let me go. And I
reminded them again that he was the very handsomest, most popular boy
in school; and that there wasn't a girl I knew who wouldn't be crazy
to be in my shoes.

Then I stopped, all out of breath, and I can imagine just how pleading
and palpitating I looked.

I thought Father was going to refuse right away, but I saw the glance
that Mother threw him--the glance that said, "Let me attend to this,
dear." I'd seen that glance before, several times, and I knew just
what it meant; so I wasn't surprised to see Father shrug his shoulders
and turn away as Mother said to me:

"Very well, dear. Ill think it over and let you know to-night."

But I was surprised that night to have Mother say I could go, for I'd
about given up hope, after all that talk at the breakfast-table. And
she said something else that surprised me, too. She said she'd like to
know Paul Mayhew herself; that she always wanted to know the friends
of her little girl. And she told me to ask him to call the next
evening and play checkers or chess with me.

Happy? I could scarcely contain myself for joy. And when the next
evening came bringing Paul, and Mother, all prettily dressed as if
he were really truly company, came into the room and talked so
beautifully to him, I was even more entranced. To be sure, it did
bother me a little that Paul laughed so much, and so loudly, and that
he couldn't seem to find anything to talk about only himself, and what
he was doing, and what he was going to do. Some way, he had never
seemed like that at school. And I was afraid Mother wouldn't like
that.

All the evening I was watching and listening with her eyes and her
ears everything he did, everything he said. I so wanted Mother to like
him! I so wanted Mother to see how really fine and splendid and noble
he was. But that evening--Why _couldn't_ he stop talking about the
prizes he'd won, and the big racing car he'd just ordered for next
summer? There was nothing fine and splendid and noble about that. And
_were_ his finger nails always so dirty?

Why, Mother would think--

Mother did not stay in the room all the time; but she was in more or
less often to watch the game; and at half-past nine she brought in
some little cakes and lemonade as a surprise. I thought it was lovely;
but I could have shaken Paul when he pretended to be afraid of it, and
asked Mother if there was a stick in it.

The idea--Mother! A stick!

I just knew Mother wouldn't like that. But if she didn't, she never
showed a thing in her face. She just smiled, and said no, there wasn't
any stick in it; and passed the cakes.

When he had gone I remember I didn't like to meet Mother's eyes, and I
didn't ask her how she liked Paul Mayhew. I kept right on talking fast
about something else. Some way, I didn't want Mother to talk then, for
fear of what she would say.

And Mother didn't say anything about Paul Mayhew--then. But only a few
days later she told me to invite him again to the house (this time to
a chafing-dish supper), and to ask Carrie Heywood and Fred Small, too.

We had a beautiful time, only again Paul Mayhew didn't "show off" at
all in the way I wanted him to--though he most emphatically "showed
off" in _his_ way! It seemed to me that he bragged even more about
himself and his belongings than he had before. And I didn't like at
all the way he ate his food. Why, Father didn't eat like that--with
such a noisy mouth, and such a rattling of the silverware!

And so it went--wise mother that she was! Far from prohibiting me to
have anything to do with Paul Mayhew, she let me see all I wanted
to of him, particularly in my own home. She let me go out with him,
properly chaperoned, and she never, by word or manner, hinted that she
didn't admire his conceit and braggadocio.

And it all came out exactly as I suspect she had planned from the
beginning. When Paul Mayhew asked to be my escort to the class
reception in June, I declined with thanks, and immediately afterwards
told Fred Small I would go with _him_. But even when I told Mother
nonchalantly, and with carefully averted eyes, that I was going to the
reception with Fred Small--even then her pleasant "Well, that's good!"
conveyed only cheery mother interest; nor did a hasty glance into her
face discover so much as a lifted eyebrow to hint, "I thought you'd
come to your senses _sometime_!"

Wise little mother that she was!

In the days and weeks that followed (though nothing was said) I
detected a subtle change in certain matters, however. And as I look
back at it now, I am sure I can trace its origin to my "affair" with
Paul Mayhew. Evidently Mother had no intention of running the risk of
any more block-away courtships; also evidently she intended to know
who my friends were. At all events, the old Anderson mansion soon
became the rendezvous of all the boys and girls of my acquaintance.
And such good times as we had, with Mother always one of us, and ever
proposing something new and interesting!

And because boys--not _a_ boy, but boys--were as free to come to
the house as were girls, they soon seemed to me as commonplace and
matter-of-course and free from sentimental interest as were the girls.

Again wise little mother!

But, of course, even this did not prevent my falling in love with some
one older than myself, some one quite outside of my own circle of
intimates. Almost every girl in her teens at some time falls violently
in love with some remote being almost old enough to be her father--a
being whom she endows with all the graces and perfections of her dream
Adonis. For, after all, it isn't that she is in love with _him_, this
man of flesh and blood before her; it is that she is in love with
_love_. A very different matter.

My especial attack of this kind came to me when I was barely eighteen,
the spring I was being graduated from the Andersonville High School.
And the visible embodiment of my adoration was the head master, Mr.
Harold Hartshorn, a handsome, clean-shaven, well-set-up man of (I
should judge) thirty-five years of age, rather grave, a little stern,
and very dignified.

But how I adored him! How I hung upon his every word, his every
glance! How I maneuvered to win from him a few minutes' conversation
on a Latin verb or a French translation! How I thrilled if he bestowed
upon me one of his infrequent smiles! How I grieved over his stern
aloofness!

By the end of a month I had evolved this: his stern aloofness
meant that he had been disappointed in love; his melancholy was
loneliness--his heart was breaking. How I longed to help, to heal, to
cure! How I thrilled at the thought of the love and companionship _I_
could give him somewhere in a rose-embowered cottage far from the
madding crowd! (He boarded at the Andersonville Hotel alone now.) What
nobler career could I have than the blotting out of his stricken heart
the memory of that faithless woman who had so wounded him and blighted
his youth? What, indeed? If only he could see it as I saw it. If only
by some sign or token he could know of the warm love that was his but
for the asking! Could he not see that no longer need he pine alone and
unappreciated in the Andersonville Hotel? Why, in just a few weeks I
was to be through school. And then--

On the night before commencement Mr. Harold Hartshorn ascended our
front steps, rang the bell, and called for my father. I knew because I
was upstairs in my room over the front door; and I saw him come up the
walk and heard him ask for Father.

Oh, joy! Oh, happy day! He knew. He had seen it as I saw it. He had
come to gain Father's permission, that he might be a duly accredited
suitor for my hand!

During the next ecstatic ten minutes, with my hand pressed against my
wildly beating heart, I planned my wedding dress, selected with care
and discrimination my trousseau, furnished the rose-embowered cottage
far from the madding crowd--and wondered _why_ Father did not send for
me. Then the slam of the screen door downstairs sent me to the window,
a sickening terror within me,

Was he _going_--without seeing me, his future bride? Impossible!

Father and Mr. Harold Hartshorn stood on the front steps below,
talking. In another minute Mr. Harold Hartshorn had walked away, and
Father had turned back on to the piazza.

As soon as I could control my shaking knees, I went downstairs.

Father was in his favorite rocking-chair. I advanced slowly. I did not
sit down.

"Was that Mr. Hartshorn?" I asked, trying to keep the shake out of my
voice.

"Yes."

"Mr. H-Hartshorn," I repeated stupidly.

"Yes. He came to see me about the Downer place," nodded Father. "He
wants to rent it for next year."

"To rent it--the Downer place!" (The Downer place was no
rose-embowered cottage far from the madding crowd! Why, it was big,
and brick, and _right next_ to the hotel! I didn't want to live
there.)

"Yes--for his wife and family. He's going to bring them back with him
next year," explained Father.

"His wife and family!" I can imagine about how I gasped out those four
words.

"Yes. He has five children, I believe, and--"

But I had fled to my room.

After all, my recovery was rapid. I was in love with love, you see;
not with Mr. Harold Hartshorn. Besides, the next year I went to
college. And it was while I was at college that I met Jerry.

Jerry was the brother of my college friend, Helen Weston. Helen's
elder sister was a senior in that same college, and was graduated at
the close of my freshman year. The father, mother, and brother came on
to the graduation. And that is where I met Jerry.

If it might be called meeting him. He lifted his hat, bowed, said a
polite nothing with his lips, and an indifferent "Oh, some friend of
Helen's," with his eyes, and turned to a radiant blonde senior at my
side.

And that was all--for him. But for me--

All that day I watched him whenever opportunity offered; and I
suspect that I took care that opportunity offered frequently. I was
fascinated. I had never seen any one like him before. Tall, handsome,
brilliant, at perfect ease, he plainly dominated every group of which
he was a part. Toward him every face was turned--yet he never seemed
to know it. (Whatever his faults, Jerry is _not_ conceited. I will
give him credit for that!) To me he did not speak again that day. I am
not sure that he even looked at me. If he did there must still have
been in his eyes only the "Oh, some friend of Helen's," that I had
seen at the morning introduction.

I did not meet Jerry Weston again for nearly a year; but that did not
mean that I did not hear of him. I wonder if Helen ever noticed how
often I used to get her to talk of her home and her family life; and
how interested I was in her gallery of portraits on the mantel--there
were two fine ones of her brother there.

Helen was very fond of her brother. I soon found that she loved to
talk about him--if she had a good listener. Needless to say she had a
very good one in me.

Jerry was an artist, it seemed. He was twenty-eight years old, and
already he had won no small distinction. Prizes, medals, honorable
mention, and a special course abroad--all these Helen told me about.
She told me, too, about the wonderful success he had just had with the
portrait of a certain New York society woman. She said that it was
just going to "make" Jerry; that he could have anything he wanted
now--anything. Then she told me how popular he always was with
everybody. Helen was not only very fond of her brother, but very proud
of him. That was plain to be seen. In her opinion, evidently, there
was none to be compared with him.

And apparently, in my own mind, I agreed with her--there was none to
be compared with him. At all events, all the other boys that used
to call and bring me candy and send me flowers at about this time
suffered woefully in comparison with him! I remember that. So tame
they were--so crude and young and unpolished!

I saw Jerry myself during the Easter vacation of my second year in
college. Helen invited me to go home with her, and Mother wrote that I
might go. Helen had been home with me for the Christmas vacation,
and Mother and Father liked her very much. There was no hesitation,
therefore, in their consent that I should visit Helen at Easter-time.
So I went.

Helen lived in New York. Their home was a Fifth-Avenue mansion with
nine servants, four automobiles, and two chauffeurs. Naturally such
a scale of living was entirely new to me, and correspondingly
fascinating. From the elaborately uniformed footman that opened the
door for me to the awesome French maid who "did" my hair, I adored
them all, and moved as in a dream of enchantment. Then came Jerry home
from a week-end's trip--and I forgot everything else.

I knew from the minute his eyes looked into mine that whatever I had
been before, I was now certainly no mere "Oh, some friend of Helen's."
I was (so his eyes said) "a deucedly pretty girl, and one well worth
cultivating." Whereupon he began at once to do the "cultivating."

And just here, perversely enough, I grew indifferent. Or was it only
feigned--not consciously, but unconsciously? Whatever it was, it did
not endure long. Nothing could have endured, under the circumstances.
Nothing ever endures--with Jerry on the other side.

In less than thirty-six hours I was caught up in the whirlwind of his
wooing, and would not have escaped it if I could.

When I went back to college he held my promise that if he could gain
the consent of Father and Mother, he might put the engagement ring on
my finger.

Back at college, alone in my own room, I drew a long breath, and began
to think. It was the first chance I had had, for even Helen now had
become Jerry--by reflection.

The more I thought, the more frightened, dismayed, and despairing I
became. In the clear light of calm, sane reasoning, it was all so
absurd, so impossible! What could I have been thinking of?

Of Jerry, of course.

With hot cheeks I answered my own question. And even the thought of
him then cast the spell of his presence about me, and again I was back
in the whirl of dining and dancing and motoring, with his dear face
at my side. Of Jerry; yes, of Jerry I was thinking. But I must forget
Jerry.

I pictured Jerry in Andersonville, in my own home. I tried to picture
him talking to Father, to Mother.

Absurd! What had Jerry to do with learned treatises on stars, or with
the humdrum, everyday life of a stupid small town? For that matter,
what had Father and Mother to do with dancing and motoring and
painting society queens' portraits? Nothing.

Plainly, even if Jerry, for the sake of the daughter, liked Father and
Mother, Father and Mother certainly would not like Jerry. That was
certain.

Of course I cried myself to sleep that night. That was to be expected.
Jerry was the world; and the world was lost. There was nothing left
except, perhaps, a few remnants and pieces, scarcely worth the
counting--excepting, of course, Father and Mother. But one could not
always have one's father and mother. There would come a time when--

Jerry's letter came the next day--by special delivery. He had gone
straight home from the station and begun to write to me. (How like
Jerry that was--particularly the special-delivery stamp!) The most of
his letter, aside from the usual lover's rhapsodies, had to do with
plans for the summer--what we would do together at the Westons'
summer cottage in Newport. He said he should run up to Andersonville
early--very early; just as soon as I was back from college, in fact,
so that he might meet Father and Mother, and put that ring on my
finger.

And while I read the letter, I just knew he would do it. Why, I could
even see the sparkle of the ring on my finger. But in five minutes
after the letter was folded and put away, I knew, with equal
certitude--that he wouldn't.

It was like that all that spring term. While under the spell of the
letters, as I read them, I saw myself the adored wife of Jerry Weston,
and happy ever after. All the rest of the time I knew myself to be
plain Mary Marie Anderson, forever lonely and desolate.

I had been at home exactly eight hours when a telegram from Jerry
asked permission to come at once.

As gently as I could I broke the news to Father and Mother. He was
Helen's brother. They must have heard me mention him, I knew him well,
very well, indeed. In fact, the purpose of this visit was to ask them
for the hand of their daughter.

Father frowned and scolded, and said, "Tut, tut!" and that I was
nothing but a child. But Mother smiled and shook her head, even while
she sighed, and reminded him that I was twenty--two whole years older
than she was when she married him; though in the same breath she
admitted that I _was_ young, and she certainly hoped I'd be willing to
wait before I married, even if the young man was all that they could
ask him to be.

Father was still a little rebellious, I think; but Mother--bless her
dear sympathetic heart!--soon convinced him that they must at least
consent to see this Gerald Weston. So I sent the wire inviting him to
come.

More fearfully than ever then I awaited the meeting between my lover
and my father and mother. With the Westons' mansion and manner of
living in the glorified past, and the Anderson homestead, and _its_
manner of living, very much in the plain, unvarnished present, I
trembled more than ever for the results of that meeting. Not that I
believed Jerry would be snobbish enough to scorn our simplicity, but
that there would be no common meeting-ground of congeniality.

I need not have worried--but I did not know Jerry then so well as I do
now.

Jerry came--and he had not been five minutes in the house before it
might easily have seemed that he had always been there. He _did_ know
about stars; at least, he talked with Father about them, and so as
to hold Father's interest, too. And he knew a lot about innumerable
things in which Mother was interested. He stayed four days; and all
the while he was there, I never so much as thought of ceremonious
dress and dinners, and liveried butlers and footmen; nor did it once
occur to me that our simple kitchen Nora, and Old John's son at the
wheel of our one motorcar, were not beautifully and entirely adequate,
so unassumingly and so perfectly did Jerry unmistakably "fit in."
(There are no other words that so exactly express what I mean.) And in
the end, even his charm and his triumph were so unobtrusively complete
that I never thought of being surprised at the prompt capitulation of
both Father and Mother.

Jerry had brought the ring. (Jerry always brings his "rings"--and
he never fails to "put them on.") And he went back to New York with
Mother's promise that I should visit them in July at their cottage in
Newport.

They seemed like a dream--those four days--after he had gone; and I
should have been tempted to doubt the whole thing had there not been
the sparkle of the ring on my finger, and the frequent reference to
Jerry on the lips of both Father and Mother.

They loved Jerry, both of them. Father said he was a fine, manly young
fellow; and Mother said he was a dear boy, a very dear boy. Neither of
them spoke much of his painting. Jerry himself had scarcely mentioned
it to them, as I remembered, after he had gone.

I went to Newport in July. "The cottage," as I suspected, was twice
as large and twice as pretentious as the New York residence; and it
sported twice the number of servants. Once again I was caught in the
whirl of dinners and dances and motoring, with the addition of tennis
and bathing. And always, at my side, was Jerry, seemingly living only
upon my lightest whim and fancy. He wished to paint my portrait; but
there was no time, especially as my visit, in accordance with Mother's
inexorable decision, was of only one week's duration.

But what a wonderful week that was! I seemed to be under a kind of
spell. It was as if I were in a new world--a world such as no one had
ever been in before. Oh, I knew, of course, that others had loved--but
not as we loved. I was sure that no one had ever loved as we loved.
And it was so much more wonderful than anything I had ever dreamed
of--this love of ours. Yet all my life since my early teens I had
been thinking and planning and waiting for it--love. And now it had
come--the real thing. The others--all the others had been shams and
make-believes and counterfeits. To think that I ever thought those
silly little episodes with Paul Mayhew and Freddy Small and Mr. Harold
Hartshorn were love! Absurd! But now--

And so I walked and moved and breathed in this spell that had been
cast upon me; and thought--little fool that I was!--that never had
there been before, nor could there be again, a love quite so wonderful
as ours.

At Newport Jerry decided that he wanted to be married right away. He
didn't want to wait two more endless years until I was graduated. The
idea of wasting all that valuable time when we might be together! And
when there was really no reason for it, either--no reason at all!

I smiled to myself, even as I thrilled at his sweet insistence. I was
pretty sure I knew two reasons--two very good reasons--why I could not
marry before graduation. One reason was Father; the other reason was
Mother. I hinted as much.

"Ho! Is that all?" He laughed and kissed me. "I'll run down and see
them about it," he said jauntily.

I smiled again. I had no more idea that anything he could say would--

But I didn't know Jerry--_then_.

I had not been home from Newport a week when Jerry kept his promise
and "ran down." And _he_ had not been there two days before Father and
Mother admitted that, perhaps, after all, it would not be so bad an
idea if I shouldn't graduate, but should be married instead.

And so I was married.

(Didn't I tell you that Jerry always brought his rings and put them
on?)

And again I say, and so we were married.

But what did we know of each other?--the real other? True, we had
danced together, been swimming together, dined together, played tennis
together. But what did we really know of each other's whims and
prejudices, opinions and personal habits and tastes? I knew, to a
word, what Jerry would say about a sunset; and he knew, I fancy, what
I would say about a dreamy waltz song. But we didn't either of us know
what the other would say to a dinnerless home with the cook gone. We
were leaving a good deal to be learned later on; but we didn't think
of that. Love that is to last must be built upon the realization that
troubles and trials and sorrows are sure to come, and that they must
be borne together--if one back is not to break under the load. We
were entering into a contract, not for a week, but, presumedly, for a
lifetime--and a good deal may come to one in a lifetime--not all of it
pleasant. We had been brought up in two distinctly different social
environments, but we didn't stop to think of that. We liked the same
sunsets, and the same make of car, and the same kind of ice-cream;
and we looked into each other's eyes and _thought_ we knew the
other--whereas we were really only seeing the mirrored reflection of
ourselves.

And so we were married.

It was everything that was blissful and delightful, of course, at
first. We were still eating the ice-cream and admiring the sunsets. I
had forgotten that there were things other than sunsets and ice-cream,
I suspect. I was not twenty-one, remember, and my feet fairly ached
to dance. The whole world was a show. Music, lights, laughter--how I
loved them all!

_Marie_, of course. Well, yes, I suspect Marie _was_ in the ascendancy
about that time. But I never thought of it that way.

Then came the baby, Eunice, my little girl; and with one touch of her
tiny, clinging fingers, the whole world of sham--the lights and music
and glare and glitter just faded all away into nothingness, where it
belonged. As if anything counted, with _her_ on the other side of the
scales!

I found out then--oh, I found out lots of things. You see, it wasn't
that way at all with Jerry. The lights and music and the glitter and
the sham didn't fade away a mite, to him, when Eunice came. In fact,
sometimes it seemed to me they just grew stronger, if anything.

He didn't like it because I couldn't go with him any more--to dances
and things, I mean. He said the nurse could take care of Eunice. As if
I'd leave my baby with any nurse that ever lived, for any old dance!
The idea! But Jerry went. At first he stayed with me; but the baby
cried, and Jerry didn't like that. It made him irritable and nervous,
until I was _glad_ to have him go. (Who wouldn't be, with his eternal
repetition of "Mollie, _can't_ you stop that baby's crying?" As if
that wasn't exactly what I was trying to do, as hard as ever I could!)
But Jerry didn't see it that way. Jerry never did appreciate what a
wonderful, glorious thing just being a father is.

I think it was at about this time that Jerry took up his painting
again. I guess I have forgotten to mention that all through the first
two years of our marriage, before the baby came, he just tended to me.
He never painted a single picture. But after Eunice came--

But, after all, what is the use of going over these last miserable
years like this? Eunice is five now. Her father is the most popular
portrait painter in the country, I am almost tempted to say that he is
the most popular _man_, as well. All the old charm and magnetism are
there. Sometimes I watch him (for, of course, I _do_ go out with him
once in a while), and always I think of that first day I saw him at
college. Brilliant, polished, witty--he still dominates every group of
which he is a member. Men and women alike bow to his charm. (I'm glad
it's not _only_ the women. Jerry isn't a bit of a flirt. I will say
that much for him. At any rate, if he does flirt, he flirts just as
desperately with old Judge Randlett as he does with the newest and
prettiest _debutante_: with serene impartiality he bestows upon each
the same glances, the same wit, the same adorable charm.) Praise,
attention, applause, music, laughter, lights--they are the breath of
life to him. Without them he would--But, there, he never _is_ without
them, so I don't know what he would be.

After all, I suspect that it's just that Jerry still loves the
ice-cream and the sunsets, and I don't. That's all. To me there's
something more to life than that--something higher, deeper, more
worth while. We haven't a taste in common, a thought in unison, an
aspiration in harmony. I suspect--in fact I _know_--that I get on his
nerves just as raspingly as he does on mine. For that reason I'm sure
he'll be glad--when he gets my letter.

But, some way, I dread to tell Mother.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, it's finished. I've been about four days bringing this
autobiography of Mary Marie's to an end. I've enjoyed doing it, in a
way, though I'll have to admit I can't see as it's made things any
clearer. But, then, it was clear before. There isn't any other way.
I've got to write that letter. As I said before, I regret that it must
be so sorry an ending.

I suppose to-morrow I'll have to tell Mother. I want to tell her, of
course, before I write the letter to Jerry.

It'll grieve Mother. I know it will. And I'm sorry. Poor Mother!
Already she's had so much unhappiness in her life. But she's happy
now. She and Father are wonderful together--wonderful. Father is still
President of the college. He got out a wonderful book on the "Eclipses
of the Moon" two years ago, and he's publishing another one about the
"Eclipses of the Sun" this year. Mother's correcting proof for him.
Bless her heart. She loves it. She told me so.

Well, I shall have to tell her to-morrow, of course.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To-morrow_--_which has become to-day._

I wonder if Mother _knew_ what I had come into her little sitting-room
this morning to say. It seems as if she must have known. And yet--I
had wondered how I was going to begin, but, before I knew it, I was
right in the middle of it--the subject, I mean. That's why I thought
perhaps that Mother--

But I'm getting as bad as little Mary Marie of the long ago. I'll try
now to tell what did happen.

I was wetting my lips, and swallowing, and wondering how I was going
to begin to tell her that I was planning not to go back to Jerry, when
all of a sudden I found myself saying something about little Eunice.
And then Mother said:

"Yes, my dear; and that's what comforts me most of anything--because
you _are_ so devoted to Eunice. You see, I have feared sometimes--for
you and Jerry; that you might separate. But I know, on account of
Eunice, that you never will."

"But, Mother, that's the very reason--I mean, it would be the reason,"
I stammered. Then I stopped. My tongue just wouldn't move, my throat
and lips were so dry.

To think that Mother suspected--_knew already_--about Jerry and me;
and yet to say that _on account_ of Eunice I would not do it. Why, it
was _for_ Eunice, largely, that I was _going_ to do it. To let that
child grow up thinking that dancing and motoring was all of life,
and--

But Mother was speaking again.

"Eunice--yes. You mean that you never would make her go through what
you went through when you were her age."

"Why, Mother, I--I--" And then I stopped again. And I was so angry and
indignant with myself because I had to stop, when there were so many,
many things that I wanted to say, if only my dry lips could articulate
the words.

Mother drew her breath in with a little catch. She had grown rather
white.

"I wonder if you remember--if you ever think of--your childhood," she
said.

"Why, yes, of--of course--sometimes." It was my turn to stammer. I was
thinking of that diary that I had just read--and added to.

Mother drew in her breath again, this time with a catch that was
almost a sob. And then she began to talk--at first haltingly, with
half-finished sentences; then hurriedly, with a rush of words that
seemed not able to utter themselves fast enough to keep up with the
thoughts behind them.

She told of her youth and marriage, and of my coming. She told of her
life with Father, and of the mistakes she made. She told much, of
course, that was in Mary Marie's diary; but she told, too, oh, so much
more, until like a panorama the whole thing lay before me.

Then she spoke of me, and of my childhood, and her voice began to
quiver. She told of the Mary and the Marie, and of the dual nature
within me. (As if I didn't know about that!) But she told me much that
I did not know, and she made things much clearer to me, until I saw--

You can see things so much more clearly when you stand off at a
distance like this, you know, than you can when you are close to them!

She broke down and cried when she spoke of the divorce, and of the
influence it had upon me, and of the false idea of marriage it gave
me. She said it was the worst kind of thing for me--the sort of life I
had to live. She said I grew pert and precocious and worldly-wise, and
full of servants' talk and ideas. She even spoke of that night at the
little cafe table when I gloried in the sparkle and spangles and told
her that now we were seeing life--real life. And of how shocked she
was, and of how she saw then what this thing was doing to me. But it
was too late.

She told more, much more, about the later years, and the
reconciliation; then, some way, she brought things around to Jerry and
me. Her face flushed up then, and she didn't meet my eyes. She looked
down at her sewing. She was very busy turning a hem _just so_.

She said there had been a time, once, when she had worried a little
about Jerry and me, for fear we would--separate. She said that she
believed that, for her, that would have been the very blackest moment
of her life; for it would be her fault, all her fault.

I tried to break in here, and say, "No, no," and that it wasn't her
fault; but she shook her head and wouldn't listen, and she lifted
her hand, and I had to keep still and let her go on talking. She was
looking straight into my eyes then, and there was such a deep, deep
hurt in them that I just had to listen.

She said again that it would be her fault; that if I had done that she
would have known that it was all because of the example she herself
had set me of childish willfulness and selfish seeking of personal
happiness at the expense of everything and everybody else. And she
said that that would have been the last straw to break her heart.

But she declared that she was sure now that she need not worry. Such a
thing would never be.

I guess I gasped a little at this. Anyhow, I know I tried to break
in and tell her that we _were_ going to separate, and that that was
exactly what I had come into the room in the first place to say.

But again she kept right on talking, and I was silenced before I had
even begun.

She said how she knew it could never be--on account of Eunice. That I
would never subject my little girl to the sort of wretchedly divided
life that I had had to live when I was a child.

(As she spoke I was suddenly back in the cobwebby attic with little
Mary Marie's diary, and I thought--what if it _were_ Eunice--writing
that!)

She said I was the most devoted mother she had ever known; that I was
_too_ devoted, she feared sometimes, for I made Eunice _all_ my world,
to the exclusion of Jerry and everything and everybody else. But that
she was very sure, because I _was_ so devoted, and loved Eunice so
dearly, that I would never deprive her of a father's love and care.

I shivered a little, and looked quickly into Mother's face. But she
was not looking at me. I was thinking of how Jerry had kissed and
kissed Eunice a month ago, when we came away, as if he just couldn't
let her go. Jerry _is_ fond of Eunice, now that she's old enough to
know something, and Eunice adores her father. I knew that part was
going to be hard. And now to have Mother put it like that--

I began to talk then of Jerry. I just felt that I'd got to say
something. That Mother must listen. That she didn't understand. I told
her how Jerry loved lights and music and dancing, and crowds
bowing down and worshiping him all the time. And she said yes, she
remembered; that _he'd been that way when I married him_.

She spoke so sort of queerly that again I glanced at her; but she
still was looking down at the hem she was turning.

I went on then to explain that _I_ didn't like such things; that _I_
believed that there were deeper and higher things, and things more
worth while. And she said yes, she was glad, and that that was going
to be my saving grace; for, of course, I realized that there couldn't
be anything deeper or higher or more worth while than keeping the home
together, and putting up with annoyances, for the ultimate good of
all, especially of Eunice.

She went right on then quickly, before I could say anything. She said
that, of course, I understood that I was still Mary and Marie, even
if Jerry did call me Mollie; and that if Marie had married a man that
wasn't always congenial with Mary, she was very sure Mary had enough
stamina and good sense to make the best of it; and she was very sure,
also, that if Mary would only make a little effort to be once in a
while the Marie he had married, things might be a lot easier--for
Mary.

Of course, I laughed at that. I had to. And Mother laughed, too. But
we understood. We both understood. I had never thought of it before,
but I _had_ been Marie when I married Jerry. _I_ loved lights and
music and dancing and gay crowds just exactly as well as he did. And
it wasn't his fault that I suddenly turned into Mary when the baby
came, and wanted him to stay at home before the fire every evening
with his dressing-gown and slippers. No wonder he was surprised. He
hadn't married Mary--he never knew Mary at all. But, do you know? I'd
never thought of that before--until Mother said what she did. Why,
probably Jerry was just as much disappointed to find his Marie turned
into a Mary as I--

But Mother was talking again.

She said that she thought Jerry was a wonderful man, in some ways;
that she never saw a man with such charm and magnetism, or one who
could so readily adapt himself to different persons and circumstances.
And she said she was very sure if Mary could only show a little more
interest in pictures (especially portraits), and learn to discuss
lights and shadows and perspectives, that nothing would be lost, and
that something might be gained; that there was nothing, anyway, like a
community of interest or of hobbies to bring two people together; and
that it was safer, to say the least, when it was the wife that shared
the community of interest than when it was some other woman, though,
of course, she knew as well as I knew that Jerry never would--She
didn't finish her sentence, and because she didn't finish it, it made
me think all the more. And I wondered if she left it unfinished--on
purpose.

Then, in a minute, she was talking again.

She was speaking of Eunice. She said once more that because of her,
she knew that she need never fear any serious trouble between Jerry
and me, for, after all, it's the child that always pays for the
mother's mistakes and short-sightedness, just as it is the soldier
that pays for his commanding officer's blunders. That's why she felt
that I had had to pay for her mistakes, and why she knew that I'd
never compel my little girl to pay for mine. She said that the mother
lives in the heart of the child long after the mother is gone, and
that was why the mother always had to be--so careful.

Then, before I knew it, she was talking briskly and brightly about
something entirely different; and two minutes later I found myself
alone outside of her room. And I hadn't told her.

But I wasn't even thinking of that. I was thinking of Eunice, and of
that round, childish scrawl of a diary upstairs in the attic trunk.
And I was picturing Eunice, in the years to come, writing _her_ diary;
and I thought, what if she should have to--

I went upstairs then and read that diary again. And all the while I
was reading I thought of Eunice. And when it was finished I knew that
I'd never tell Mother, that I'd never write to Jerry--not the letter
that I was going to write. I knew that--

       *       *       *       *       *

They brought Jerry's letter to me at just that point. What a wonderful
letter that man can write--when he wants to!

He says he's lonesome and homesick, and that the house is like a tomb
without Eunice and me, and when _am_ I coming home?

       *       *       *       *       *

I wrote him to-night that I was going--to-morrow.



THE END





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