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Title: The Annals of Ann
Author: Sharber, Kate Trimble
Language: English
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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.

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Transcriber's Note:

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THE ANNALS OF ANN

  [Illustration: Ann]



The Annals of Ann

_By_ KATE TRIMBLE SHARBER

  WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS
  BY PAUL J. MEYLAN

A. L. BURT COMPANY

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK



  COPYRIGHT 1910
  THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY



THE ANNALS OF ANN



CHAPTER I


My Cousin Eunice is a grown young lady and she keeps a diary, which
put the notion into my head of keeping one too.

There are two kinds of people that keep diaries, married ones and
single ones. The single ones fill theirs full of poetry; the married
ones tell how much it costs to keep house.

Not being extra good in grammar and spelling, I thought I'd copy a few
pages out of Cousin Eunice's diary this morning as a pattern to keep
mine by, but I was disappointed. Nearly every page I turned to in hers
was filled full of poetry, which stuff never did make good sense to
me, besides the trouble it puts you to by having to start every line
with a fresh capital.

Cousin Eunice says nearly all famous people keep a diary for folks to
read after they're dead. I always did admire famous people, especially
Lord Byron and Columbus. And I've often thought I should like to be a
famous person myself when I get grown. I don't care so much about
graduating in white mull, trimmed in lace, as some girls do, for the
really famous never graduate. They get expelled from college for
writing little books saying there ain't any devil. But I should _love_
to be a beautiful opera singer, with a jasmine flower at my throat,
and a fresh duke standing at the side door of the theater every night,
begging me to marry him. Or I'd like to rescue a ship full of drowning
people, then swim back to shore and calmly squeeze the salt water out
of my bathing suit, so the papers would all be full of it the next
morning.

Things don't turn out the way you expect them to, though, and I
needn't count too much on these things. I might catch cold in my
voice, or cramps in the sea and never get famous; but I'm going to
keep this diary anyhow, and just hand it down to my grandchildren, for
nearly _every_ lady can count on _them_, whether she's famous or
infamous.

Maybe some rainy day, a hundred years from now, a little girl will
find this book in the attic, all covered with dust, and will sit down
and read it, while the rain sounds soft and pattery on the outside,
and her mother calls and calls without getting an answer. This is not
at all the right way to do, but what can they expect of you when your
attic is such a very delicious place? Ours is high enough not to bump
your head, even if you are as tall as my friend, Rufe Clayborne, and
where a part of the window-pane is broken out an apple-tree sends in a
perky little branch. Just before Easter every year I spend nearly all
my time up here at this window, for the apple blossoms seem to have so
many things to say to me; lovely things, that I can _feel_, but can
not hear, and if I could write them down this would be the most
beautiful book in the world. And great sheets of rain come sometimes;
you can see them coming from the hills back of Mr. Clayborne's house,
but the apple blossoms don't mind the wetting.

When I wrote "Mr. Clayborne" just then it reminded me of Cousin
Eunice's diary. That was _one_ sensible word which was on every page.
Sometimes it was mixed up close along with the poetry, but I always
knew who she meant, for he is my best friend and the grandest young
man I've ever seen out of a book. His other name is Rufe, and he's an
editor when he's in the city. But before he got to be an editor he was
born across the creek from our farm, and we've always been great
friends. His father and mine are also friends, always quarreling about
whose bird-dogs and hotbeds are the best; and our mothers talk a heap
about "original sin" and chow-chow pickle.

Maybe my grandchildren would like to know a few little things about
me at the time I started keeping this diary for their sakes, so I'll
stop now and tell them as quickly as I can, for I never did think just
my own self was so interesting. If they have any imagination they can
tell pretty well what kind of a person I was anyhow from the grand
portrait I'm going to have painted for them in the gown I wear when
I'm presented at court.

Well, I was born in the year--but if I tell that you will know exactly
how old I am, that is if you can count things better than I can.
Anyhow, when I read a thing I'd rather they didn't tell just how old
the heroine is. Then you can have her any age you like best. Maybe if
I were to tell exactly how many birthdays I've had you would always be
saying, like mother and Mammy Lou, "You're a mighty big girl to be
doing such silly things." Or like Rufe says sometimes, "Ann, you're
entirely too young to be interested in such subjects as that." So you
will have to be satisfied when I tell you that I'm at the "gawky
age." And a person is never surprised at anything that a girl at the
"gawky age" does.

I am little enough still to love puppies and big enough to love
Washington Irving. You might think these don't mix well, but they do.
On rainy mornings I like to take a puppy under one arm and _The
Alhambra_ under the other, with eight or ten apples in my lap, and
climb up in the loft to enjoy the greatest pleasure of my life. I
sling _The Alhambra_ up on the hay first, then ease the puppy up and
take the hem of my skirt between my teeth so the apples won't spill
out while I go up after them. But I never even look at hay when
there's a pile of cottonseed to wallow in.

As to my ways, I'm sorry to say that I'm what mother calls a "peculiar
child." Mammy says I'm "the curiousest mixtry she ever seen." That's
because I ask "Why?" very often and then lots of times don't exactly
believe that things are that way when they're told to me. One day at
Sunday-school, when I was about four, the teacher was telling about
Jonah. Mother often told me tales, some that I called "make-believe,"
and others that I called "_so_ tales." When the teacher got through I
spoke up and asked her if that was a "so tale." She said yes, it was,
but I horrified every other child in the class by speaking up again
and saying, "Well, me don't believe it!"

Old as I am now, I don't see how Jonah's constitution could have stood
it, but I've got sense enough to believe many a thing that I can't see
nor smell nor feel. An old man out in the mountains that had never
been anywhere might say he didn't believe in electricity, but that
wouldn't keep your electric light bill from being more than you
thought it ought to be at the end of the month.

Speaking of bills reminds me of father. Father is not a rich man, but
his folks used to be before the war. That's the way with so many
people around here, they have more ancestry than anything else.
Still, we have perfectly lovely smelling old leather books in our
library, and when cotton goes high we go up to the city and take a
suite of rooms with a bath.

I am telling you all this, my grandchildren, to let you know that you
have blue blood in your veins, but you mustn't let yours get too blue.
Father says it takes a dash of red blood mixed with blue, like
turpentine with paint, to make it go.

Still, I hope the old place will be just as beautiful when my
grandchildren get old enough to appreciate it as it is now, and not be
sold and turned into a sanitarium, or a girls' school. The walls of
the house are a soft grayish white, like a dear old grandmother's
hair; and the mycravella roses in the far corner of the yard put
_such_ notions into your head! There are rows of cedar trees down the
walk, planted before Andrew Jackson's time; and at night there are the
stars. I love stars, especially Venus; but there are a lot of others
that I don't know the names of.

Inside, the house is cool and shady; and you can always find a place
to lie down and read. Cousin Eunice says so many people spoil their
houses by selecting carpets and wall-paper that look like they want to
fight. But ours is not like that. Some corners in our library look
like _Ladies' Own Journal_ pictures.

Cousin Eunice doesn't belong to our house, but I wish she did, for
she's as beautiful as a magazine cover. And I think we have the nicest
home in the world. Besides being old and big and far back in the yard,
there's always the smell of apples up-stairs. And I'm sure mother is
the nicest lady in the world. She wants everybody to have a good time,
and no matter whether you're a man, a young lady, or a little girl,
she lets you scatter your pipes, love-letters and doll-rags from the
front gate to the backest chicken-coop without ever fussing. Mother
admires company greatly. She doesn't have to perspire over them
herself, though, for she has Mammy Lou to do all the cooking and
Dilsey to make up the beds. So she invited Cousin Eunice to spend the
summer with us and asked Bertha, a cousin on the other side, to come
at the same time, for she said girls _love_ to be together. We soon
found out, though, that some girls do and some don't.

Cousin Eunice said I might always express my frank opinion of people
and things in my diary, so I take pleasure in starting in on Bertha.
Bertha, she is a _cat_! Even Rufe called her one the night she got
here. Not a straight-out cat, exactly, but he called her a kitten!

You see, when Bertha was down here on a little visit last year she and
Rufe had up a kind of summer engagement. A summer engagement is where
the girl wears the man's fraternity pin instead of a ring. And when
she came again this time it didn't take them two hours to get summer
engaged again, it being moonlight on the front porch and Bertha
looking real soft and purry.

Then the very next week Cousin Eunice came! And poor Rufe! We all
felt _so_ sorry for him, for, from the _first_ minute he looked at her
he was in love; and it's a terrible thing to be in love and engaged at
the same time, when one is with _one_ girl and the other to another!
And it was so plain that the eyes of the _potatoes_ could see it! But
Bertha hadn't an idea of giving up anybody as good-looking as Rufe to
another somebody as good-looking as Cousin Eunice, which mother said
was a shame, and _she_ never did such a thing when _she_ was a girl;
but Mammy Lou said it was no more than Rufe deserved for not being
more careful.

But anyway, Cousin Eunice and Bertha hadn't been together two days
before they hated each other so they wouldn't use the same powder rag!
They just couldn't bear the sight of each other because they could
both bear the sight of Rufe so well. This was a disappointment to me,
for I had hoped they would go into each other's rooms at night and
brush their hair, half undressed, and have as good a time as the
pictures of ladies in underwear catalogues always seem to be having.
But they are not at all friendly. They have never even asked each
other what make of corsets they wear, nor who operated on them for
appendicitis. Bertha talks a great deal about Rufe and how devoted he
was to her last summer, but Cousin Eunice won't talk at all when
Bertha's around. She sits still and looks dumb and superior as a
trained nurse does when you are trying to find out what it is that the
patient has got.

Cousin Eunice has a right to act superior, though, for while other
girls are spending their time embroidering chafing-dish aprons she is
studying books written by a man with a name like a sneeze. Let me get
one of the books to see how it is spelled. N-i-e-t-z-s-c-h-e! There! I
got it down at last! And Cousin Eunice doesn't have just a plain
parlor at home to receive her beaux in; she has a studio. A studio is
a room full of things that catch dust. And the desire of her life is
to write a little brown-backed book that people will fill full of
pencil marks and always carry around with them in their suit-cases.
She doesn't neglect her outside looks, though, just because her mind
is so full of great thoughts. No indeed! Her fountain pen jostles
against her looking-glass in her hand-bag, and her note-book gets
dusted over with pink powder.

Now, Bertha is entirely different! No matter how the sun is shining
outside she spends all her mornings up in her room shining her
finger-nails; and she wears _pounds_ and _pounds_ of hair on the back
of her head. Father says the less a girl has on the inside the more
she will stick on the outside of her head, and lots of men can't tell
the difference. Bertha certainly isn't at a loss for lovers. She gets
a great many letters from a "commercial traveler." A "commercial
traveler" is a man who writes to his girl on different hotel paper
every day. These letters are a great comfort to her spirit when Rufe
acts so loving around Cousin Eunice; and she always has one sticking
in her belt when Rufe is near by, with the name of the hotel showing.

Every night just before or just after supper I always go out to the
kitchen and tell Mammy Lou all the news I've seen or heard that day.
She laughs when I tell her about how Bertha is trying to hold on to
Rufe.


"'Tain't a speck o' use," she said to-night so emphatically that I was
afraid the omelette would fall. "Why, a camel can dance a Virginny
reel in the eye of a needle quicker than a gal can sick a man back to
lovin' her after he's done took a notion to change the picture he
wears in his watch!"

Mammy told the truth, I'm sure, for Bertha has worn all her prettiest
dresses and done her hair two new ways, trying to get him back; but he
is still "coldly polite," which I think is the meanest way on earth to
treat a person. Not that Bertha doesn't deserve it, for she knew they
were just joking about that summer engagement, but she still wears
the fraternity pin, which of course causes Cousin Eunice to be "coldly
polite" to Rufe; and altogether we don't really need a refrigerator in
the house this summer.

Mammy Lou and I had been trying to think up a plan to thaw out the
atmosphere, but this morning a way was provided, and I greatly enjoyed
being "an humble instrument," as Brother Sheffield says.

Everything was draggy this morning. Bertha was down in the parlor
singing "popular songs" very loud as I came down the steps with my
diary in my hand. I _despise_ popular songs! As I went past the
kitchen door on my way to the big pear tree which I meant to climb and
write in my book I saw that Mammy Lou was having the time of her life
telling Cousin Eunice all about when Rufe was a baby. She had called
her in there to get some fresh buttermilk, and Cousin Eunice was
drinking glass after glass of it with such a rapt look on her face I
knew she didn't realize that she couldn't get on her tight clothes
till mid-afternoon.

"Of _course_ he's a extry fine young man!" mammy said, dipping for
another glassful. "There never was nary finer baby--an' wasn't I
_right there_ when Mr. Rufe was born?"

"Sure enough!" Cousin Eunice said, looking entranced.

This wasn't much more entertaining to me than Bertha's singing, for I
had heard it all so many times before, so I went out to the pear tree
and climbed up, but I couldn't think of even one word that would be of
interest to my grandchildren. So I just wrote my name over and over
again on the fly-pages. I wonder what makes them call them
"fly-pages?" Then I closed my book and climbed down again. I started
back to the house by the side way, and met Rufe coming up the walk
toward the front door.

"Hello, Rufe," I said, running to meet him and walking with him to the
front steps. "I'm so glad to see you. Everything is so draggy this
morning. Won't you sit on the steps and talk to me a while? Or are you
in a hurry?"

"I'm always in a hurry when I'm going to your house," he answered with
a look in the direction of Cousin Eunice's window. "And my visits
always seem as short as a wedding journey when the bridegroom's salary
is small."

He dusted off the step, though, and sat down; and I told him that
Cousin Eunice was drinking buttermilk in her kimono and wouldn't be in
a mood to dress for another hour. Then I told him what a hard time I'd
had trying to think up something interesting to write in my diary. He
said, looking again toward Cousin Eunice's window, that there was only
_one_ thing in the world to write about! But he supposed I was too
young to know anything about that. I spoke up promptly and told him a
girl never _got_ too young to know about love.

"Love!" he said, trying to look surprised. "Who mentioned love?"

Just then I heard the flutteration of a silk petticoat on the porch
behind the vines, but Rufe was gazing so hard at the blue hills on the
far side of town that he didn't hear it. So, without saying anything
to him, I leaned over far enough to look under the banisters, and saw
the bottom of Bertha's skirt and a skein of blue silk thread lying on
the floor. So I knew she was sitting there working on that everlasting
chafing-dish apron. Then Satan put an idea into my head. I think it
was Satan.

"Rufe," I said, talking very loud and quick, so Bertha would just
_have_ to hear me, "what's the difference between a kitten and a cat?"

Rufe at last got his eyes unfixed from the blue hills and just stared
at me foolishly for a second.

"Am I the parent of a child that I should have to answer fool
questions?" he said.

"But the night she came you called Bertha a _kitten_!" I reminded him,
and he looked worse surprised. "And since I've heard her called a
_cat_! How long does it take a kitten to grow into a cat?"

"Oh, I see! Well, I'm better versed in feline ways now than I was that
night; so I might state that sometimes you discover that a kitten is a
cat! There isn't any difference!"

We heard a clattering noise behind the vines just then, which I knew
was Bertha dropping her embroidery scissors. Rufe jumped, for he had
no idea anybody was hearing our conversation; and I know he wouldn't
have said what he did about cats except he _thought_ I was too little
to understand such figures of speech. Then he got up to go in and see
who it was. And I decided to disappear around the corner of the house.
I didn't altogether disappear before I heard her say indeed he _had_
meant to call her a cat; and he said indeed he hadn't, but she hadn't
been "square" with him, and they talked and talked until I got uneasy
that Cousin Eunice would be coming through the hall and hear them. So
I hurried on back to head her off. But Satan, or whoever it was, put
me up to a good job in that, for the next time I saw Rufe he was
wearing his fraternity pin and a happy smile. And Bertha had red spots
on her face, even as late as dinner-time, like consumption that lovely
heroines die of.


I've been too disappointed lately to write in my diary. Somehow, I
think like Rufe, that there's only one thing worth writing about, and
there's been very little in that line going on around here lately.
Poor Rufe is having a harder time now than he had when Bertha was on
his hands, for Cousin Eunice has taken it into her head to show him
that she doesn't have to accept him the minute he gets untangled from
a summer flirtation. Those were her very words.

She and I go for long walks with him every morning, down through the
ravine; and they read poetry that sounds so good you feel like
somebody's scratching your back. And she wears her best-fitting
shirtwaists. One good thing about Cousin Eunice is that her clothes
never look like she'd sat up late the night before to make them. And
when she's expecting him at night her eyes shine like they had been
greased; and I can tell from the way she breathes quick when she hears
the gate open that she loves him. Yes, she adores the sound of his
rubber heels on the front porch; but she won't give in to him. She's
punishing him for the Bertha part of it. Mother says she's very
foolish, for men will be men, especially on nights in June; but Mammy
Lou says she's exactly right; and I reckon mammy knows best, for she's
been married a heap more times than mother ever has.

"The longer you keep a man feelin' like he's on a red-hot stove the
better he loves you," Mammy Lou told Cousin Eunice to-night, as she
was powdering her face for the last time before going down-stairs and
trying to keep us from seeing that she was listening for a footstep on
the gravel walk. "An' a husban's got to be treated jus' like a lover!
A good, heavy poker's a fine thing to make a husban' know 'is
place--an' Lawk! a lazy husban's like a greasy churn--you have to give
him a thorough scaldin' to do any good!"


This morning at the breakfast table, after father had helped the
plates to chicken, saving two gizzards for me, he said: "Times have
changed since I was a young man!"

As this wasn't exactly the first time we had heard such a remark none
of us paid any attention to it until we saw mother trying to make him
hush. Then we knew he must be starting to say something funny about
Cousin Eunice and Rufe, for mother always stops him on this subject
whenever she can, because she doesn't want Bertha's feelings hurt. But
Bertha never seems to mind. She's decided to marry the commercial
traveler, I'm almost sure, although her people say he's not "steady."
Steady means staying still, so who ever heard of a traveling man who
was steady?

"Times have changed, especially about courting," father kept on,
pretending that he didn't see mother shaking her head at him. When
father gets that twinkle in his eye he can't see anything else. "Now
in _my_ young days when a girl and a fellow looked good to each other
they usually got engaged at once. But _now_--jumping Jerusalem! No
matter how deeply in love they are they waste days and days trying to
get a 'complete understanding' of each other's nature. They talk about
their opinion of everything under the sun, from woman's suffrage to
Belshazzar's feast."

"Lord Byron wrote a piece in the Fifth Reader about Belshazzar's
feast," I started to remark, but I remembered in time to hush, for
I've never been able to mention Lord Byron's name to my family in any
peace since they found that I keep a vase of flowers in front of his
picture all the time. They call him my _beau_--the beautiful creature!

Father didn't notice my remark, however. He was too busy with his
own. "And instead of exchanging locks of hair, as they used to when
Mary and I were young, they give each other limp-backed books that
have 'helped to shape their career,' and beg that they will mark the
passages that impress _them_!"

"Uncle Dan, you've been eavesdropping!" Cousin Eunice said, looking up
from her hot biscuit and honey long enough to smile at him, but she
didn't quit eating. It has got out of style to stop eating when you're
in love, for a man admires a healthy-looking girl. I know a young man
who had been going to see a girl for a long time and never did
propose. She was a pretty girl, too, slender and wild-rosy-looking.
Well, she took a trip to Germany one summer and drank so much of
_something_ fattening over there that the wild-rose look changed to
American beauty; and when she came home in the fall the young man was
so delighted with her looks that he turned in and married her before
Christmas!

Cousin Eunice knows these people too, and she does all she can to keep
her digestion good, even to fresh milk and raw eggs. I hope _I_ can
get married without the raw eggs part of it. And she tramps all over
the woods for the sake of her appetite in stylish-looking tan boots.

As we left the dining-room I noticed that she had on her walking-boots
and a short skirt, so I thought Rufe would be along pretty soon for us
to go down to the ravine and read poetry. They always take me along
because I soon get enough of the poetry and go off to wade in the
branch, leaving them on their favorite big gray rock.

Sure enough, Rufe wasn't long about coming, and I saw that his
limp-backed book was labeled "Keats" this morning. Cousin Eunice
didn't have a book. She carried a parasol. A parasol is used to jab
holes in the sand when you're being made love to.

I don't know why I should have felt so, but just as soon as they got
started to reading this morning I had a curious feeling, like you
have when the lights burn low on the stage and the orchestra begins
_The Flower Song_. The way they looked at each other made under my
scalp tingle. Now, if I ever have a granddaughter that doesn't have
this feeling in the presence of _great_ things I shall disinherit her
and leave my diamonds to a society for tuberculosis or pure food or
fresh air, or some of those charitable things.

  [Illustration: Jabbing holes in the sand with her parasol _Page 26_]

Before long they branched off from Keats to Shelley, and Rufe didn't
need a book with him. Just after he had finished a little verse
beginning, "I can not give what men call love," I had sense enough to
get up and go away from them. Although I have always been crazy to see
a proposal, there was something in the atmosphere around that old gray
rock that made me feel as if I were treading on sacred ground. (I hate
to use expressions like this, that everybody else uses, but I can't
think of anything else and it's getting too late to sit here by myself
and try.) Anyhow it's the feeling you have when you go into a
cathedral with stained glass windows. So I went away from them, but
not very far away, just a little distance, to where I have a lovely
pile of moss collected on the north side of a big tree. And the
smotheration around my heart kept up.

It seemed to me the _longest_ time before anything happened, for
Cousin Eunice was jabbing holes in the sand with her parasol like she
was being paid to do it by the hour. Finally, without any ado, he put
his hands on hers and made her stop.

"Sweetheart," I heard him say, so low that I could hardly hear, for
_The Flower Song_ was buzzing through my head so loud. Then he seemed
to remember me for he looked around, and, seeing that I was _clear_
gone, he said it again, "Sweetheart." She looked up at him when he
said it, and looked and _looked_! Maybe she never had realized before
just how big and broad-shouldered and brown-eyed Rufe really is!
Neither one of them said anything, but he put both arms around her;
and when I saw that they were going to kiss I shut my eyes right tight
and stopped up my ears and buried my face in the pile of moss. Even
then I never felt so much like a yellow dog in my life!



CHAPTER II


You hear a heap of talking these days about "the divine mission of
woman," especially from long-haired preachers that don't believe in
ladies voting; and another heap of talk about the "rights" of women
from the ladies themselves.

There was so much of it going on last winter when I was at Rufe's that
I told some of it to Mammy Lou when I came home. She says it's every
speck a question of dish-washing when you sift it down to the bottom.
The women are tired of their job and the men are too proud to do it
unless the window shades are pulled down.

I don't blame the men for being proud. They have something to be proud
of, for they can do exactly as they please, from wearing out the
seats of their trousers when they're little to being president when
they're big. When I was right little I used to think that the heathen
over the sea that threw the girl babies to the crocodiles were doing
it in hopes of killing out the girl breed, so the little new babies
would have to be boys. A heathen is anybody that lives on the other
side of the map from us.

Another good thing about a man is he can say, "Damn that telephone!"
Rufe says it whenever he's busy and it bothers him, but Cousin Eunice
can't. All she can do is to have sick headache when she gets worn out.

I know one tired lady whose husband is a busy doctor and whose baby is
a busy baby, and lots of times the lady has to stop up her ears to say
her prayers. And she hardly ever has time to powder her face unless
company is coming, but, sick or well, she has to answer that
telephone! She says it is a disheartening thing to have to take her
hands out of the biscuit dough when the cook's brother has died and go
to the telephone in a big hurry where folks tell her every symptom of
everything they have, from abscess on the brain to ingrowing
toe-nails. And she never gets the baby well lathered in his bath of a
morning but what some of her lady friends call her up and she has to
sit and talk for politeness' sake till the baby almost drowns and gets
soap in his eyes.

She tries to believe in New Thought though, and some days she "goes
into the silence." This means wrapping the telephone up in a
counterpane and stuffing up the door-bell until it can make only a
hoarse, choking noise. Then she spanks the baby and puts him to bed,
and that house is like the palace of the Sleeping Beauty.

Yes, women certainly seem to have a hard time in this life. Even when
they marry rich and live in a hotel and never have any babies they
seem to be worse tired than the ones that warm bottles of milk and
peel potatoes. Some of them that Cousin Eunice knows are called
"bridge maniacs," and they shrug their shoulders and say "What's the
use?" if you suggest anything to them.


I have been home from Cousin Eunice's now for two weeks, for the
stylish, private school I went to up there lets out soon. Mammy Lou
says I'm the worst person to break out in spots she ever saw, and one
of my "spots" last summer was keeping this diary, which I did for a
while very hard and fast. Now a whole year has passed and it is summer
again and I am so lonesome that I believe I'll write a little every
day and tell some of the things we did at Rufe's last winter. If any
of you grandchildren who read are afflicted with that trouble of doing
things by fits and starts you may know who you inherited it from. I'm
not really to blame so much for neglecting you, my diary, for all the
time I needed you most last winter you were lost. This is a terrible
habit that all my things have--getting lost. My garters do it
especially and I have to tear great holes in my stockings by pinning
them up and then forgetting to stand stiff-kneed.

Rufe told mother last fall that I was so precocious, which I looked up
in the dictionary and admired him very much for, that I ought to be
where I could have good teachers. So after he and Cousin Eunice had
been married long enough to be able to bear the sight of a third party
at the breakfast table they wrote for me to come and I went.

I was kinder disappointed to see them looking like every-day folks
again, for the last time I had seen them they were looking as they had
never looked before and never will look again, for Rufe says he'll be
hanged if anybody can get him to appear in that wedding suit any more.

But oh, that wedding! And oh, that wedding march played on a
thundering pipe-organ that makes cold chills run up and down your back
thinking what if it was happening to you! When the time comes for "I
will" you nearly smother, you're so afraid they might change their
minds at the last minute and embarrass you half to death right there
before all those people.

They didn't change their minds then, though, nor since then either, I
honestly believe. They married safe and sound, and Cousin Eunice's
favorite book now is _1,001 Tried Recipes_. And Keats is lots of times
covered with dust.

I got this far last night when Mammy Lou passed by my window on her
way to her house from the kitchen and stopped long enough to make me
go to bed. She says it takes a sight of sleep and a "passel o'
victuals" for a girl of my age, and I don't have enough of either.

"I'se shore goin' 'er tell Mis' Mary how you set up uv a night," she
said, very fiercely, but she couldn't shake her finger at me for it
took both hands to hold the big pan she had under her apron. "An' as
fer eatin'! Why, a red bug eats more! An' such truck! Candy and apples
and fried chicken and fried Saratoga chips! _Fries_ nuvver was no good
for nobody at the gawky age, nohow. It takes _boils_ to fatten them!"

I promised I'd go on to bed and eat nothing but "boils" to please her
if she wouldn't tell father and mother how late I sit up, so she
promised. She never would tell anyhow.

I believe the next thing I wanted to mention about was the theaters
they used to take me to on Friday night when there wasn't any lessons.
I just love the theater. I believe if I don't decide to be a trained
nurse, although I am sure that is what I was cut out for, I may be an
actress. When they used to tell me pitiful tales at Sunday-school
about the heathen I was sure I wanted to be a missionary to Japan.
Mother used to take me to a tea store with her every time we went into
the city to buy things we couldn't get at home and the walls were
covered with pictures of Japan. I never will forget how blue the sky
was nor how white the clouds, and it seemed the loveliest country in
the world to me, except home. And I would look at mother and wonder
how she would feel if I told her that some day I was going to leave
her and father and sail away to that beautiful land where the poor,
ignorant people didn't know how to wear corsets nor eat hog meat. Of
course they needed somebody to tell them what they were missing and I
was eager to be that one!

That was a long time ago! I know more about Japan now! I know more
about America too! Doctor Gordon said one night last winter that if
some of the missionaries were to go all over this country and tell
folks to open their windows and stop murdering their babies with candy
and bananas they would do more good than trying to teach the Japanese
so much. He said he didn't know which was the more heathenish, to
throw children in the river and let them have a quick death or stuff
them on fried meat and pickles and let them die by slow torture.

The mothers are hard to teach, he says, because they don't more than
leave the doctor's office with a poor little pale baby than they meet
an old woman who tells them not to let the child be doctored to death,
to "feed 'im." They will tell the mother "Didn't _I_ have eleven? And
everything _I_ et, _they_ et!"

He told us so many stories of murdered babies that I got to feeling
like I'd prefer being a nurse in a day home. I love babies! And Doctor
Gordon has the loveliest eyes!--But I haven't got to him yet.

Speaking of the theater, I got to see many notorious people on the
stage this winter. Rufe said I would get a great variety of ideas from
the best plays. I did. I got a great variety of Ideals too. One time
he would be tall, fair and brave, with a Scotch name, like Marmaduke
Cameron, or Bruce MacPherson. Then the very next time I'd go he'd
change his looks and disposition.

I loved some of the operas, too, especially _Il Trovatore_. I wish the
singers were slender, though. It hurts your feelings to have the
"voice that rang from that donjon tower" belonging to a great fat man
with no head to speak of, and what he has consisting mainly of jaws.
Of all the songs on record (not phonographic record) next to _Dixie_
and _La Paloma_ I believe I love _Ah, I have sighed to rest me!_ The
words to this are not so loving, but the tune is so pitiful.

I wish my name was Dolores Lovelock, or Anita Messala, and I could get
shut up in a tower. I have a girl friend in the city and every time we
write to each other we sign the name we're wishing most was ours at
that very minute. Her last letter was signed "Undine Valentine," but I
don't think that's half as pretty as Mercedes Ficediola.

It wouldn't hardly be worth while for me to change my name now,
because I change my mind so often. I'm a great hand to start a thing
and then branch off and start something entirely different, such as
learning how to make the table walk, and pyrography. Cousin Eunice
said one day when she looked around at the things I had in my room
that it reminded her of Pompeii when they dug it up--so many things
started that never would be finished.

One of the things we enjoyed most at Cousin Eunice's was walking out
to a lovely old cemetery not very far from her house. It is so old and
so beautiful that you're sure all the people in the graves must have
gone to Heaven long ago. Along in April, when the iris and
lilies-of-the-valley are in bloom and the birds and trees and sky all
seem to be so happy, you look around at those peaceful graves and you
don't believe in hell one bit. You think God is a heap better than
folks give Him credit for being. But I hope this will never come to
Brother Sheffield's ears, for he thinks you're certainly going there
if you don't believe in a hell worse than the Standard Oil Company on
fire.

While I'm on this kind of subject I want to tell something that Rufe
said last winter, but I'm afraid to, for if mother ever saw it she
would get Brother Sheffield to hold a special meeting for Rufe. I
might risk it and then lock my diary up tight. Rufe said one time when
I remarked that I liked St. John better than St. Paul: "No wonder! St.
John's _liver_ was in good working order!"

Cousin Eunice and Rufe are still very earnest and study deep things,
even if they don't read Keats so much. They know a jolly crowd of
people that call themselves "Bohemians." Lots of nights some of them
would come to Cousin Eunice's and we would cook things in the
chafing-dish and "discuss the deeper problems of life." They are not
real Bohemians though, for, from what they said, I learned that a real
Bohemian is a person that is very clever, but nobody knows it. He
"follows his career," eating out of paper sacks and tin cans and
sleeping on an article that is an oriental couch in the daytime. Then
finally some rich person finds him and invites him to dinner, and this
is called "discovering a genius."

When our friends would come we would talk about the "Brotherhood of
Man" and the North Pole and such things as that. I listen to
everything I can hear about the North Pole for I never have got over
the idea that Santa Claus lives there. And the "Brotherhood of Man"
means we're all as much alike as biscuits in a pan, the only
difference being in the place where we're put; and we ought to act
accordingly.

Some of the young ones talk a great deal about how the children of the
nation ought to be brought up, and they tell about what their family
life is going to be like, though Rufe says most of them haven't got
salary enough to support a cockroach.

I think the "Brotherhood of Man" business is a good thing to teach
children, for I wasn't taught it and I shall never forget my feelings
when I first learned that Christ was a Jew! I thought it couldn't be
so, and if it was so I could never be happy again. So the Bohemians
are going to teach their children that the Jew is our brother and that
he hath eyes and if you prick him he will bleed. These are their own
words. I'm sure the Jews are lovely people since I've seen Ben-Hur on
the stage and the picture of Dis-Disraeli. That's all I know about him
and I'm not sure how to spell that. I'll skin my children if I ever
catch them saying "Sheenie" in my presence.

And we make limericks! We don't make them in the chafing-dish though,
as I thought when I first went there. A limerick is a very different
thing from what you'd think if you didn't know. It's a verse of poetry
that's very clever in every line.

Among the Bohemians I liked best were a married couple and Ann
Lisbeth. Besides having the same name as mine, Ann Lisbeth is a
beautiful foreign girl who was living across the ocean when she was
born. Her last name is something that _Disraeli_ is not a circumstance
to, and I'd never spell it, so I won't waste time trying. She's going
to get rid of that name pretty soon and I don't blame her, although
Cousin Eunice says it is a noble one across the ocean. _Still_ I
don't blame her, for the man is a young doctor, Doctor Gordon that
I've already mentioned, and perfectly _precious_. Next to a prince I
believe a young doctor is the most thrilling thing in the world!

Ann Lisbeth lived near Cousin Eunice and they were great friends. She
and her mother were very poor because they got exiled from their home
for trying to get Ann Lisbeth's father out of prison where the king
had put him. Oh, the people across the ocean are so much more romantic
than we are in this country! Now, father wouldn't ever get put in
prison in a lifetime!

Ann Lisbeth has to work for a living. She does embroidery--exquisite
embroidery, and lace work that looks like charlotte russe. She is the
kind of looking girl that you'd expect to have a dressing-table
covered with silver things and eat marshmallows and ice-cream all the
time. She is what Cousin Eunice calls a "lotus-eater." This like to
have worried me to death at first, for I misunderstood it and imagined
it was something like eating roaches. I wasn't going to blame Ann
Lisbeth for it even if it _was_ like roaches, for I thought maybe it
was the style in her country across the ocean. What is _one_ nation's
style would turn another's stomach; and everybody likes what he was
raised on, even Chinese rats and Limburger cheese.

It was very romantic the way Ann Lisbeth met Doctor Gordon. She had
gone down to the florist's one slippery day to spend her last quarter
for white hyacinths to cheer her mother up when she had the good
fortune to slip down and break her arm. Doctor Gordon happened to be
passing at the time in his automobile and he carried her to the
hospital and fixed the arm. He said white hyacinths were his favorite
flower, too, so he sends them to her and her mother every day.

Poor Doctor Gordon! He's having a hard time to make a living like
every other young doctor. He says sometimes he has a whole month of
blue Mondays come right together. And he says every time he happens to
wake up with a headache he also has a blowout in his best tire and
gets a notice from the bank that he's overdrawn the same day.

I liked him extremely well myself for a while, and he seemed to like
me. He called me his little sweetheart, but I soon saw that a little
sweetheart has to take a big back seat when there's a grown one
around.

Mother and I have been laughing all day about a little affair that
happened here last winter while I was away at school.

After Christmas mother and father went back to stay at Rufe's with me
a few days, for they said the place was so lonesome when I left they
couldn't stand it. Of course they met Doctor Gordon and Ann Lisbeth,
for we were always at each other's house, either to learn a Mount
Mellick stitch or to play a piece from a new opera. Mother liked Ann
Lisbeth's sweet ways so much that she said she just must come down
and make her a visit before she _thought_ of getting married.

About the time for the first jonquils to bloom, early in February,
mother wrote that they reminded her so much of me and made her so
lonesome, that she wished Ann Lisbeth would come on then. So she
packed her suit-case and went.

Everybody knows how the people in a little place will look at a
stranger that comes in, because they're so tired of looking at each
other. So they stared at her from the station clear up to the house.
Now, city people never get any enjoyment out of staring unless they
see somebody in trouble, such as an unfortunate young man with his
shoulder to the wheel, trying to repair a puncture, by the side of a
muddy road. Then they stare, and giggle too.

There were several young men at the station that day, and, as Ann
Lisbeth went down there not breathing to a soul that she was engaged,
they came near losing their minds over her beautiful skin and foreign
accent.

The one of them that seemed to be most impressed was a bore--no, he
wasn't just an every-day kind of bore that asks you if this is your
first visit to that place and tells you afterward that he never has
been so impressed in his life on short acquaintance. I've heard Cousin
Eunice talk about them, but this man wasn't like that sort of bore. He
was a perfect _auger_. Many a time when he has dropped in to see
father of an evening and I would have to put my book down for
politeness' sake, I've sat there and pinched my face, the side that
was turned away from him, till it was black and blue, to keep awake.
Pinching your arm or leg wouldn't have done any good with this
man--you had to pinch up close to your brain.

All the time Ann Lisbeth was there he showed so plainly that he was
coming to see _her_ that mother and father would go out and leave them
alone, though father said he felt so sorry for her that he promised
always to do something to run him off by ten o'clock. Every man knows
how to do these things, I believe, such as taking off his shoes loud
and telling mother to wind the clock, in a stagey voice, and making a
great racket around the front door. And when the young man would hear
these signs he would leave.

Right in the midst of Ann Lisbeth's visit one day she got a telegram
from Doctor Gordon saying that he was coming down that evening and
leave on the midnight train. This is a sure sign a man cares. He
couldn't stand it any longer. Well this Mr. W. (I'll call him that for
fear his grandchildren might feel hard toward mine if it ever got to
their ears that I had spelt his name right out) had said he was coming
over that night to bring some new records for the talking machine, to
try them; but, when Ann Lisbeth told mother about Doctor Gordon
coming, mother telephoned him, Mr. W., I mean, not to come till the
next night when father would be at home, as he wanted to hear the
records.

Sure enough father did have some business out in the country that
afternoon and didn't get home until about ten o'clock that night. He
heard voices as he passed the parlor door, and thinking of course it
was Mr. W., decided that he would run him off right away so poor Ann
Lisbeth could get some sleep.

Mother was already asleep and there was no way for him to know who it
really was in the parlor, so he took his shoes off and slammed them
down in vain, and rattled out the ashes, and wound the clock, and
coughed and sneezed. By this time he was awfully sleepy, for it was a
cold night and he had had a long drive, so he went to bed and to
sleep.

Along about twelve o'clock father woke up, and seeing a light still in
the parlor, tried to get mother roused up long enough to ask her what
else she supposed he might use besides _dynamite_ to run that fellow
off. Mother was still so sleepy that she didn't say anything, so
father got out of bed and opened his bedroom door. There were voices
talking very easy in the parlor, so father, thinking that surely Ann
Lisbeth would be ready to commit suicide by this time, decided he
would walk to the front door and open and shut it real loud, knowing
_that_ would run him off, without waiting to slip on his trousers.

Now, father is long and lank, and wears old-timey bob-tail
night-shirts, winter and summer; and all the rooms of our house open
_square_ into that one big hall--and there are no curtains to hide
behind!

Just as father reached the front door and began tampering with the
lock, out walked the happy pair from the parlor and they must have had
a mighty tumble off of Mount Olympus or Pegasus, or whatever that
place is called. They jumped back as quickly as they could, but of
course they couldn't get back quickly enough to suit all parties
concerned.

Father finally got the door open and, to keep from having to pass the
parlor door again, he ran _clear_ around that big, rambling house,
bare-footed, and with the February moon shining down on him and the
February wind whistling through his little bob-tail night-shirt.

The noise of so many doors opening and shutting made mother wake up in
a hurry, and, being used to father's ways of leaping, then looking
afterward, she realized what had happened.

Poor father came around to the side porch and scratched on the bedroom
door for mother to let him in. By this time she was so near dead from
laughing that she could hardly speak, but managed to use her voice a
little, just to pay him back for doing such an idiotic thing, she
said.

She opened the bedroom door a little, so Doctor Gordon and Ann Lisbeth
could hear, then called out in a loud, distressed voice:

"Oh, Dan! _Have_ you come home in _that condition_ again?"

Everybody that knows father knows that he never drank a drop of
anything stronger than soothing-syrup in his life; and when he had met
Doctor Gordon in the city they hadn't been able to get off the subject
of prohibition, they both were so temperate. It was a terrible thing
to be called "in that condition" before _him_!

But mother let him in, and Doctor Gordon caught his train back to the
city where he sent father at least _two_ dozen funny post-cards on the
subject of "that condition."



CHAPTER III


I always did admire surprises, my diary, so when mother came in from
the station one day not long ago and said there was a surprise for me
I thought sure it must be a dessert for dinner, or a package come by
express, as it isn't Christmas for anything to be in the toe of my
stocking. But mother shook her head and smiled at all of these. She
said it was a heap better, and it is.

A curious thing has happened in this family. It's happened a little to
father, for he's kept awake by it; a good deal to mother, for she has
to tell how to tend to it; an awful lot to Dilsey, for she has to walk
it and feed it and get it to sleep; but it has happened most of all to
Bertha, for it's to _her_ that the stork (or the doctor, or out of
the rose bush--they tell you so many different tales you never know
which to believe) brought it. Just about that time Bertha happened not
to be feeling very well, so mother wrote for her to come down to our
house where the air would be good for her, and then she would have
Dilsey to tend to it. You'd never guess what it is, my diary, so I'll
tell you. It's a baby! A live one with open and shut eyes, and can
cry; you don't have to pull a string to make it, either. This makes it
better than even the finest doll, and, as I'm above dolls anyhow, a
baby is more suitable to one of my age. The only bad part about it is
that you can't lock it up in the wardrobe when you get through playing
with it. Sometimes I have wished it was the kind you had to pull a
string to make cry, and then I'd cut the string off so we would have a
few peaceful nights, but apt as not this wouldn't be healthy for it,
for I guess the stork (or the doctor, or out of the rose bush) knew
best how to fix it.

Mr. Parkes is the baby's father, and also Bertha's husband. He is one
of the nicest men you ever saw, pleasant all the time, which people
say is because he's a drummer which sells things. He carries valises
full of lovely crackers and little cakes with icing on the top, and
calls it his "line." I've heard Rufe and Cousin Eunice talk about
"lines falling in pleasant places," and I think it must mean something
like this, for our house has been a pleasant place since Saturday
night when he came to spend Sunday with us and Bertha. Some days he
sells as much as five hundred dollars worth of cake to _one_ man,
though I don't see what keeps him from _dying_ that bought them of
stomach ache, for I've had it myself since he's been here
considerable. He and father talk a heap about Mr. Parkes' "house" in
the city. He writes to the house every day and it writes back to him,
and he is always saying what he'll do "when he hears from the house,"
just like it was folks.

He wears an elk's head on the lapel of his coat for an ornament and
another on his watch chain, and even has a pair of purple socks with
white elks on them, and laughs a good deal, which has been a benefit
to Bertha's disposition since she married him. If the baby wakes up
and cries for her bottle as late as _eleven_ o'clock at night, which
would give most men room to say things, he's just as jolly as if it
was broad daylight, and says so loud you can hear him in the next
room: "Tonsound her little skin! Her is her daddy's own kid--_her_
knows that eleven o'clock calls for a bottle, only daddy wants _his_
cold, and her wants _hers_ warmed!" And out to the kitchen he goes and
warms it like a gentleman. I believe Mr. Parkes would be a gentleman
even if he had _twins_.

Of course there never is any good happens to your family without
something bad happening along with it. A misfortune was sent to us one
morning when the train came. It was Aunt Laura, mother's sister, and
Bertha's and my aunt. It is a habit of hers to come to our house
every summer, but this time she came before we were looking for her,
having got mad at the relatives where she was. So she has changed her
will and is going to leave all her money to Bertha's baby, and she
told mother that she came right on down as soon as she decided on this
to see if the baby was a nice, well-behaved child, as it didn't run in
the family for the children to be any too well-behaved; and she looked
at me when she said the last. Bertha was in a flutter when she heard
it, but mother just laughed and said the baby was equally as
well-behaved as most eight-weeks-old children.

Aunt Laura has spit-curls, but a great deal of money, having been a
school teacher ever since she was born, and never spending her money
buying her little nieces candy and pretty dresses. She admires church
and preachers more than anything, but I don't, and when the money was
willed to _me_ one time I lost my chance by saying at the table when
Brother Sheffield was there eating chicken and said he liked the
gizzard, right quick, before I thought of manners, "Father, don't
give it to him--_he_ ain't little!" The money has been willed to every
member of the family, for she gets mad at one and unwills it away from
them onto another, until we've all had a trial.

But the poetry books say it's a black cloud that don't blow somebody a
silver lining, and I guess the silver lining to Aunt Laura is that
she's in love with Brother Sheffield, which will give me a good many
new thoughts to write about; for before when I was writing about
couples it was always the man that was trying to marry the lady, but
now it's the other way, which you can always count on when you see
spit-curls. Even this is better to write about than just a baby,
though, for they mostly do the same thing day after day; but you can
never tell what a _loving_ person will do to thrill your diary.

It was till plumb breakfast time this morning before Aunt Laura made
known to us what new thing she's got up to talk about all the time.
Father calls it a "fad." He said the minute he saw her come he was
willing to bet on anything, from the latest breakfast food to an Aunty
Saloon League, but mother told him it was sinful to bet about such
things, for last summer it was foreign missions. It is just as well
that he didn't bet, for he would have lost, it being the heart disease
which she has very bad. She said she didn't tell us right at first
because she knew we didn't care anything about hearing it, but she
thought we better be prepared in case a spell came on her suddenly,
for she had felt worse symptoms lately than ever before. Bertha had
acted awful good all day and not let the baby cry nor slobber on Aunt
Laura for the sake of the will.

I guess I've been worse this last week than ever before, for it is the
first time I've been ashamed to tell what I've done in my diary.
Bertha knows if Aunt Laura could get Brother Sheffield to marry her
she would unwill the money from the baby; so she thinks up things to
tell me to do to keep them from being together, and I've been doing
them. One time I hid her purple Sunday bonnet, then her curls to keep
her from going to prayer-meeting, but I'm glad to say that I have
never taken the dimes which Bertha said she would give me for doing
them. I hate Aunt Laura enough to do mean things to her myself, which
is a better principle than to do them just for dimes.


This is Sunday again and I have to go to church. Somehow, during the
summer, Sunday smells like black silk, for mother and all the ladies
that can afford it wear it to church to let the others see how well
off they are. When I was _right_ little and got tee-ninsy cards at
Sunday-school I imagined Heaven looked like those cards, all
lilies-of-the-valley and little pink lambs, but since I've grown older
my views have changed. Preachers always think you can't go to Heaven
unless you do just like they do, and I couldn't be like a preacher to
save my life, except about chicken.

Aunt Laura had to look all over the place for her black silk waist
this morning and then not find it, so she got into a bad spell and
couldn't go to church. After the sermon was over and we were trying to
forget it by standing around and telling the other ladies how much
fruit we had put up this past week, Brother Sheffield came up and
asked mother if Aunt Laura was sick, not being out to services. Mother
said she was, but she hoped to find her all right when we got home, as
she never was sick very long, and I knew she would be well because it
was ice-cream for dinner. He said then he'd be over to see her this
afternoon as he hadn't seen her in so long.

Well, it was awfully hot all the afternoon, and, as he wouldn't be
over till late so as to be invited to supper, Aunt Laura decided to
take off her front hair and have a nap after dinner. Now, up to this
time I have been afraid to mention even in my diary about Bertha's
bad habit. I really like Bertha better than I did before she was
married, and I knew if Aunt Laura was to catch on to it she would
change from the baby right away, for Brother Sheffield calls it "the
trade-mark of Jezebel," which is a Bible lady, though the preachers
always throw her up to anybody they don't like. So Bertha keeps this
locked away good in the little left-handed drawer of her bureau, and
don't anybody but me know it's there.

It was getting late when brother Sheffield drove up to the gate. He is
an old man and his knees are so poor that they look like they would
punch through his trousers legs if he was to get down on them to ask a
lady to marry him, as they do in books. In fact, I have stayed around
the parlor and watched considerable, thinking how mortified I'd feel
if they were to punch through, but he hasn't ever got down on them
yet. His name is Gideon, which makes it worse for him, too. Cousin
Eunice said Ann Lisbeth's name is a very old one in the country
across the ocean where she used to live, but I know there ain't an
older name on earth than Gideon. Aunt Laura ought to have been named
the feminine of it, instead of that beautiful name that has so much
lovely poetry written about it.

Anyhow, I was surprised that she wasn't dressed up in a clean waist
and down on the front porch to meet him, but I went up-stairs right
quick to tell her he was there. She was still asleep and woke up as
mad and red as folks always do that go to sleep in the summer. I told
her he was already on the porch.

"Well, help me get dressed, won't you, instead of standing there
staring at me as if you never saw anybody with their front hair off
and their upper plate out before? Run to the well and bring me some
fresh water, and, say, come back by your mother's room and bring me
her box of powder and puff. I spilt all of mine looking in the drawer
this morning for that pestiferous waist. Hurry!"

I ran to the well and got the water, but coming back by mother's room
I saw that Brother Sheffield was facing the door and would have seen
me, which wouldn't have been nice to bring out a box and puff before a
man, much less a preacher, so I didn't get the powder. I told Aunt
Laura to get Bertha's, when she commenced fussing, for I had passed
her room and saw that she had dressed in a big hurry and left the
bureau unlocked, the room being very hot and dark, the baby being
asleep, on account of the flies. She hushed then and said for me to go
down and tell him that she would be out in a few minutes, which I did.
I left him on the porch fanning while I went out to a little place I
have under the porch where it is nice and quiet and they can't find
you reading fairy tales when they want you for something; but _you_
can hear _them_ talking.

Pretty soon Aunt Laura came out, and in her dressed-up voice commenced
telling him how sorry she was that she kept him waiting. But before
she had more than got it said he asked her excited-like what was the
matter with her. It seemed like when he got excited she did too, so
she grabbed her stomach (not that I saw her, but I know she always
does it here lately when she gets mad or scared) and said:

"Oh, my heart! It must be the heart disease!"

He interrupted her again, a heap too quick and sharp for a preacher:

"Your heart _nothing_! Go and look at your _face_!"

That was more than I could stand, so out from under the porch I slid,
just in time to see Aunt Laura, with her face as red as the Indians
they have in sideshows, turn and run into the hall where she could
look at herself in the hat-rack looking-glass. She gave one tremendous
yell which woke the baby and made the rest of the family come flying
in from where they were. It wasn't a minute before me and Brother
Sheffield were in the hall with her and mother and father running in
off of the back porch, and Dilsey with the baby in her arms leaning
over the banisters to see what was the matter.

"It's my death stroke," Aunt Laura said, just like she knew what she
was talking about. "The doctor's books say it comes on this way," she
kept on, while the preacher fanned her and we were all flying around
doing things for her, and me standing still wondering how on earth
come her face so fiery red. "Thank Heaven, I die in the conviction of
having lived a good life, _and_ willed all my money to the only member
of my family that has ever treated me with any respect." This did look
kinder like the truth, for the baby was the only member of the family
which was crying over this sad occasion; but she was very loud and
hard.

"I've been visited by Providence with a curious family," poor Aunt
Laura said, looking very mad toward father and mother, "but they will
soon have cause to regret all their strange ways with me. If there was
_one_ person in this world that _did_ care for me, to _that_ one
should my will be changed, for there is little consolation in leaving
your property to a baby."

Brother Sheffield here spoke up and said as Aunt Laura "so fully
realized her hopeless condition he thought they better have some
conversation together as to her spiritual welfare. He desired a few
moments alone with her."

"Yes," said Aunt Laura right quick, "_private_ conversation. My soul's
safety is not to be discussed in the presence of my enemies!"

So out we all got, me along with the rest of them, which was a great
disappointment, for I could have learned a good deal if there had been
any way of staying in there. They talked a long time and we could hear
a few remarks now and then, being as we couldn't think of anything to
say ourselves, and it was very still on the porch. Once or twice we
heard her say very decided-like that indeed she _wasn't_ mistaken, for
every book she had read on the subject said it was exactly that kind
of a symptom. And then he would talk some, and one time he seemed to
doubt her word so that she fairly yelled out, the way she does when
he ain't around: "Can you doubt the hideous mark of death that has
this hour appeared upon my face? Isn't it proof that my flesh is being
prepared for the worms?" which _did_ sound pitiful and scary, too, it
being kinder dark on the porch. This seemed to do the work, for in a
few minutes she called us in and told us that Brother Sheffield had
asked her to marry him, and although she had never before considered
him in the light of a lover, still she was going to do it if the Lord
let her live an hour, while father could ride over for a preacher and
she could change her will. Brother Sheffield was crying like he does
when he is calling mourners, and his voice would hardly talk, but he
managed to say:

"Yes, she has done me the honor to accept me; she, a woman of
intellect and _wealth_, and me, only a poor, humble worker----" He
couldn't get any further, but I had heard it so many times before that
I knew it was "humble worker of the vineyard," though father says he
is more of a _hungry_ eater of the _barnyard_.

When Aunt Laura mentioned about being married in an hour Brother
Sheffield seemed to take a second thought, and spoke up kinder weak
and said he didn't know whether it was exactly right to be married on
Sunday or not. When Aunt Laura saw him begin to weaken it brought on
such a hard spell that she laid back on the sofa with her eyes shut,
like she was sure enough dead. This really scared mother, and she told
Mammy Lou, who had her head poked in at the back door, to run for some
water. Mammy brought the bucket in off the back porch and commenced
sousing it over Aunt Laura by the handsful, which didn't bring her to;
but a strange thing happened, which, if it wasn't me that saw it,
anybody would think it was a story, but I cross my heart that the
water that dribbled down off her face on to her clean waist was
_pink_!

"Jumping Jerusalem!" father said, "the heart disease is washing off!"
This made Aunt Laura open her eyes, and by that time Mammy Lou had got
a towel and was wiping her face off all over, which seemed to make it
look natural again. Not one of us knew what to think of such a strange
disease till all of a sudden I remembered Bertha's bad habit! And then
I knew it was all off with Aunt Laura and the marrying. It wasn't very
long till they all caught on to what it was on her face; and the worst
part of it was that Brother Sheffield said he believed she did it
_a-purpose_. He rose up very proud, and looking kinder relieved and
said he could never marry a woman who would "defile herself with the
trade-mark of Jezebel."

When he commenced throwing up Jezebel to Aunt Laura she threw up Esau
to him, which sold himself for a "mess of pottage," though this never
did sound lady-like to me, even coming from the pulpit. So Esau went
out and drove straight home, and Jezebel went up-stairs and packed her
trunk to go home early in the morning, never having been so insulted
by relatives before in her life.

So the marrying is off and the baby is disinherited, which will be a
relief to it when it gets big enough to understand. But the worst part
is that Aunt Laura blames the whole thing on me, for she says I had
her ruination in mind when I sicked her on to that little left-handed
drawer. Of course it ain't so, but it proves that people ought to
raise the blind and be sure it's _whitening_ they're spreading on,
even if the baby is asleep.



CHAPTER IV


You remember, my diary, a good many pages back I mentioned in here a
pair of Bohemians that were married to each other and were friends of
ours and would come to Rufe's every week and we would all do funny
things? Well, I couldn't write about them then, for I didn't have any
space for married people, wanting to save it purely for folks that
loved each other. But now it does seem like Providence that they've
come down here to spend the summer in the country, for there's not a
single loving soul left to write about, Aunt Laura being gone and
Brother Sheffield never very loving when she was here, except chicken.

Their name is Mrs. Marie and Augustus Young. Father says that Adam or
the legislature knew a thing or two when it named them _Young_. He is
a professor and owns a chair in a college that must either have gold
nails in it or sit extra good, for Rufe says it is worth five thousand
dollars a year. Mrs. Young sings vocal. I wish she didn't, especially
in a parlor. If anybody is singing or reciting a speech on a platform
and flowers and electric lights it thrills you and you really enjoy
it; but if they do it in a close room, especially if it trills high or
has to kneel down and get red in the face, it makes you so ashamed for
the one that's doing it, and for yourself, too, that you look straight
at the carpet. Even then the blood rushes to your head.

They have built a house with such a wide porch running all around it
that it reminds you of a little, tiny boy with a great big hat pulled
down over his eyes, which is called a bungalow. They said they had
brought a "complete outfit for light housekeeping" along with them,
but when mother saw it she laughed considerable on the outside of the
bungalow, for it was fifty-three books, mostly ending in "ology," a
hammock and some chairs that lean away back, a guitar apiece, a great
many little glass cases that you stick bugs and butterflies in if you
can catch them, a picture of the Apostle Hosea, with his head all
wrapped up like an old lady with the neuralgia, which they both said
they could not live without, and a punching-bag, which they punched a
great deal in the city, not having any baby to amuse themselves with,
which was a good thing for the baby I reckon. So mother sent them over
a great many things and Professor Young said she was the most sensible
woman he ever saw, including a biscuit board and a sifter. They have
been here a few days now and are delighted with the country air and
the green scenery, and, although it does seem proud to say it, _me_.
They thought very highly of me at Cousin Eunice's and said I was the
most "interesting revelation of artless juvenile expression" they ever
saw, which I wrote down on paper and when I came home taught it to
Mammy Lou to give in at the experience meeting.

One morning early, while mammy was beating the biscuit for breakfast,
and I was up in the pear tree right by the kitchen door I nearly fell
out with surprise when I saw Professor Young coming around the house
with a pretty shirt open at the neck that he admires and two _great
big_ dominecker roosters up in his arms which were both squawking very
loud. Mammy Lou came to the door to see what all the noise was about,
and he said she was the very person he wanted to see.

"Auntie," he commenced, trying to get into his pocket and wipe his
face with his handkerchief, which was greatly perspiring, but he
couldn't do it for the roosters, "my wife and I are in a quandary. We
are both ignorant of the preferred method of inflicting a painless yet
instantaneous death upon a fowl."

Mammy's eyes began to shine, for she loves big words like she loves
watermelons, and without a sign of manners she never even tried to
answer his question, but looked up at me in the tree and says:

"Baby, kin you rickollect all that to write it down?"

Professor Young then looked up into the tree too and says: "Why,
Mistress Ann, how entirely characteristic!" And then he wanted to know
what book I was reading and I told him, _John Halifax, Gentleman_,
which I have had for my favorite book since I was eleven years old;
and the roosters continued to squawk. I got down then and asked
Professor Young if he wouldn't come into the house, but he said no and
asked his question to mammy over again. She looked at me and to save
her manners I told her right quick what the meaning of it was, me
understanding it on account of being precocious and also at Rufe's
last winter, where they use strange words.

"_Thar now!_ Is _that_ all it's about?" she asked awfully
disappointed, for she thought from the words "painless death" it must
be something about preaching. Then in a minute, when she saw that he
was still waiting, she turned around to him and said: "Whar is the
chicken _at_ that you want killed?"

He held the roosters away from him and, looking at them as proud as a
little boy looks at a bucket of minnows, he said:

"These are they!"

This tickled mammy so, and me too, though I remembered my manners,
that she began to laugh, which shook considerable under her apron, and
said:

"Well, gentle_men_! Whut do you want to kill _them_ for?"

"For breakfast," he said; and, noticing her laughing, his face got to
looking so pitiful all in a minute that it made me just wish that
Cinderella's fairy godmother would come along and turn those roosters
into nice little pullets all fried and laying on parsley.

"Why, Mr. Professor," mammy told him, "them roosters is so old that
they will soon die a natural death if you leave them alone; and
they're so big that you might fry 'em frum now till breakfast time on
Jedgment Day, and then they wouldn't be fitten!"

When she told him this he did manage to get out his handkerchief, I
thought maybe to cry on, he looked so disappointed, but it was just to
perspire on.

"I--er, observed that they were unduly large," the poor man told her,
"but I--er, thought maybe the larger a country thing was the better!"

I thought of horse-flies and ticks, but was too mannerly to mention
them, especially so near breakfast time. Just then mother and father
came out of the back door, and when they heard the tale of the
roosters they both invited him to come right in and have breakfast
with us, and said they would tie their legs together so they could
flop around the back yard, but couldn't get away, and I could run
over and bring Mrs. Young.


Last night when I got home I was too tired to write or anything else,
for it was the night of the glorious Fourth! Professor Young and Mrs.
Young both kept remarking all day how lovely it was to be able to
spend the Fourth of July in a cool ravine instead of in the horrid
city where there were so many smells of gunpowder and little boys.
They said they must have me go along for the woods wouldn't really be
woodsy without me, as I was the genius loci. I didn't know at first
what that was, but I know now that it makes you tired and perspiry to
be the genius loci of eight miles of woods on the Fourth of July. Rufe
and Cousin Eunice couldn't think of half as many peculiar things to do
when they were courting as the Youngs.

We ate a number of stuffed eggs which kinder made up for the
tiredness, me being very fond of them, but Professor Young is crazy
about Mrs. Young's singing voice and every time we'd come to an extra
pretty place he would say: "Marie, my love, sing something just here,"
so we'd have to stand still on our legs, it often being too snaky to
sit down, while she sang. One time she thought up part of a song
without a speck of tune to it, and it was in a language across the
ocean. All I could make out was "Parsifal," and every once in a while
she would stop a minute in the song and say a word that sounded like
"Itch," though I don't suppose it was, being in a song. Every time she
would say itch he would scratch, for the poor man was covered with
ticks.

But the most trying thing was the bugs and butterflies, which being
"naturalists" they caught. We had to run all over the ground and sides
of the hills for them, and empty our dinner out on a nice, shady rock,
so we could use the lunch box to put them in. When we got back we
found it all covered with ants, but we were so hungry we thought we'd
brushed them all off, though in the cake we found we _hadn't_. If a
person hasn't ever eaten an ant, my diary, there ain't any use in
trying to make them understand what they taste like, so I won't dwell
on that. Professor Young said though he was willing to eat them for
the sake of his beloved science, though I don't see how it helped
science any.

Toward evening we got to a fine place in the branch to wade and Mrs.
Young said, oh, let's do it; it would remind us of our childhood days.
So we soon had our feet bare, with our thoughts on our childhood days,
and never once stopping to remember that we didn't have a thing to
wipe them on. Nobody said so much as towel until we got out, and then
it was too late, so we were very much pained and annoyed every step of
the way home on account of our gritty feet.

Another morning early we decided to go out and see the sun rise, like
Thoreau. (They tell me how to spell all the odd words.) We went up to
the tiptop of a high hill, and when the sun was just high enough to
make you squint your eyes Mr. Young remarked that he realized his life
was "replete with glorious possibilities," and he said in such moments
he felt that he could "encompass his heart's desire." He said he fain
would be a novelist. Now, this is the only subject they ever fall out
about, for he's always wanting to be something that he is not. Last
winter when he met Doctor Gordon at Rufe's he decided he wanted to be
a doctor, for he said they could always make a living, no matter where
they were, while a poor college professor had to stay wherever he had
a chair to sit in. So he went to a store where you buy rubber arms and
legs and things and bought a long black bag like Doctor Gordon's, full
of shiny, scary-looking scissors and knives which cost seventy-five
dollars, to lay away till fall when the doctor's school opened up
again. In two weeks Mrs. Young had got the store man to take the
things back for half price because Professor Young had decided he
wanted to study banjo playing instead of doctoring and had bought a
banjo trimmed with silver.

She knew whenever he said he wanted to _be_ anything it would cost as
much as two new dresses, and then have to be exchanged for something
else, so she asked him if he would have to buy anything to begin this
novel-writing business with. He proudly told her no, for his "Mother
Nature had endowed him with a complete equipment," and he thumped his
forehead between his eyes and his straw hat. Then she told him to go
on. He said it would be a good time to get material from the study of
the "primitive creatures" around here in the country.

I hoped these "primitive creatures" were not the kind of insects you
would have to empty the lunch box for, nor be careful not to pull off
their hind legs while you were catching them, not knowing just what
they were.

I was scared good when he said he thought the girl that milked Mrs.
Hedges' cows would be a good one to begin on. He said if Marie didn't
mind he would go over to the farthest pasture where he could see her
then and _draw her out to see what was in her_! This sounded terrible
to me, knowing that he used some sickly smelling stuff on the bugs
that killed them before they had time to say a word, and I thought
maybe because Emma Belle was a poor servant girl he was going to do
her the same way.

He had always seemed such a kind-hearted man to me, and I saw him and
Emma Belle standing at the fence talking and he was not trying to hold
anything to her nose, still I didn't feel easy till he got back. Mrs.
Young asked him what he had learned, and if his novel would be along
"socialistic lines" or a "romance in a simple bucolic setting." That
"bucolic" reminded me of Bertha's little innocent baby, and I wished I
was at home nursing it even if it did cry, rather than be out
sun-rising with such a peculiar man. He said it would be a "pastoral,"
and that the girl's eyes were exactly like his first sweetheart's,
which was remarkable. Mrs. Young spoke up right quick and said there
wasn't anything remarkable in _that_, because all common, country
girls looked alike and they all had about as much expression as a
squash.

We haven't been out early acting like Thoreau any more, for Mrs. Young
said it was the most foolish of all the foolish things Augustus had
made her do, and he could continue to associate with milkmaids by
himself if he wanted to, which he has. This morning she came over to
our house early to ask mother if you singed a picked chicken over a
blaze or what, and if she didn't think Thoreau was an idiot. Mother
said yes, you did, if it had pin feathers on it, and she didn't know
much about Thoreau, but she preferred men that paid taxes and ate off
of white tablecloths. Mrs. Young said she thought all men that read
bugology and admired pictures like Hosea were a little idiotic and she
wished she had married a man like father. Mother said well, she
better not be too sure, for they all have their faults.

After a good long time Professor Young came in, not finding Marie at
the bungalow, looking awful hot and cross. The sight of him seemed to
make Mrs. Young feel worse than ever and she told him she had just
come over to consult mother about her journey home to-morrow, although
she hadn't mentioned it to us before. She went on to say that _he_
might spend the rest of the summer, or the rest of his life if he
wanted to, boarding over at Mrs. Hedges' where he could see Emma Belle
morning, noon and night, instead of only in the morning. He said why,
he was utterly surprised for she hadn't mentioned such a thing to him
before, but she told him he hadn't spent enough time with _her_ lately
even to know whether or not she still retained the power of speech. He
said right quick, oh, he never doubted _that_! She said, well, _she_
was going and he needn't argue with _her_. He said he wasn't going to
argue, he was only too glad to leave such a blasted place, for he
wanted material for his novel, but the farmer's girl he had talked
with the _first_ morning, and the _plow-boys_ he had been associating
with ever since were all such fools he couldn't get any material from
them.

The minute he said that she seemed to feel better and change her mind.
She said Augustus ought to be ashamed to talk that way about poor
ignorant things which never had any opportunities! He said he wanted
to go back to the city anyway where there was a bath-tub, but she told
him he was very foolish to think about leaving such a cool, "Arcadian"
spot; their friends would all laugh at them for coming back so soon.
She said she had merely mentioned going back for _his_ pleasure, for
all the world knew how she _loved_ the country. He finally said he
loved it too, so they would stay, but he would be forced to give up
novel-writing because the country people around here are all fools.

I've heard Professor Young talk about sitting in a college chair being
a hard life, and Doctor Gordon says doctoring is a hard life, and Rufe
says that editing is a hard life, but, my diary, between you and me,
from the looks of things this morning, I kinder believe that marrying
is a hard life, too.



CHAPTER V


Did you ever think what a dear old thing anybody's black mammy is, my
diary, especially when she's done all the cooking (and raised you) for
twenty-five years? Mammy Lou has belonged to us just like father and
mother ever since we've been at housekeeping, and my heart almost
breaks to-night when I think of the fire in our stove that won't burn
and the dasher in our churn that is still. Ever since I've been
keeping a diary I've been awfully glad to hear about anybody being in
love, and took great pleasure in watching them and writing it all out,
for I could _always_ imagine it was _me_ that was the lady. But I
would rather never keep a diary another day than to have such a thing
happen to Mammy Lou.

When mother heard about it she said not to be an old fool, but Mammy
Lou said, "either Marse Shakespeare or Marse Solomon said a old fool
was the biggest fool and she wasn't going to make him out no lie. So
marry that Yankee nigger she was!"

Bill Williams first came here to teach school, being very proud and
educated. Then he got to be Dilsey's beau and they expected to marry.
When he first commenced going to see Dilsey Mammy Lou would cook the
nicest kind of things for her to take to picnics, hoping to help her
catch him in a motherly way. But when he started to promising to give
Dilsey a rocking-chair and take her to "George Washington" if she
would marry him, Mammy Lou changed about. She had always wanted to see
a large city _herself_, and she thought it wasn't any use of letting
Dilsey get all the best things in life, even if she was her child.

Pretty soon she commenced wearing red ribbon around her neck and
having her hair wrapped fresh once a week. Then she told him she was
the good cook that cooked all the picnic things, and ironed all of
Dilsey's clean dresses; also that she had seventy-five dollars saved
up that she would be willing to spend on a grand bridal trip the next
time she got married. Mammy Lou is a smart old thing, and so she
talked to him until he said, well, he would just as soon marry her as
Dilsey, if she would stop cooking for us, and cook for _him_ and iron
_his_ shirts all the time. She promised him she would do this, like
people always do when they're trying to marry a person, although it
looks very different afterward. None of mammy's other husbands had
been so proud. _They_ would not only let her cook, but would come
around every meal time, in the friendliest kind of way, and help her
draw a bucket of water. This is why the whole family's heart is
breaking and we feel so hungry to-night. She's quit, and the wedding
is to-morrow.

This morning early she came up to the house to ask mother if it would
be excusable to take off her widow's bonnet, not being divorced from
Uncle Mose but four months; also how she had better carry her money to
keep Bill from getting "a holt" of it. She said she wouldn't trust any
white Yankee with a half a dollar that she ever saw, much less a
coffee-colored one. Mother was so mad at her, and so troubled about
the sad biscuits and the watery gravy at breakfast that she said she
hoped he would steal every cent of the seventy-five dollars before the
ceremony was over, and maybe _that_ would bring her to her senses.

"And me not to get to go to George Washington!" mammy said in a
hurt-like voice. "Why, Mis' Mary!"

"Where is this George Washington?" mother took time to ask, thinking
mammy would know she was just poking fun at her, but she didn't.

"Law! Ain't it surprising how little my white folks do know! Why, it's
the place where the president and his wife lives. Mr. Williams is
mighty well acquainted with the president and says he's shore I could
git a job cooking for the fambly if I was 'round lookin' for jobs. But
I ain't to cook for nobody but _him_ from now on."

Mother didn't encourage her to talk about her love and matrimony any,
so she took me by the hand and we went out and sat down on the kitchen
doorstep and had a long conversation. She seemed mighty sad at the
notion of leaving us, but was so delighted at the idea of marrying a
young man (as anybody naturally _would be_) that she couldn't think of
giving that up. Pretty soon in our conversation she commenced telling
me about the things that happened many years ago, when I was a little
child, like they say folks do when they're going on a long journey or
die.

She began from the time I was born, and said I was such a brown little
thing that I looked like I had tobacco-juice running through me
instead of blood. And I made use of a bottle until I was four years
old. Because I was the only one of mother's and father's children that
lived and was born to them like Isaac (_I_ don't know of any special
way that Isaac was born, but two of mammy's husbands have been
preachers, so _she_ knows what she's talking about) they let me keep
the bottle to humor me. It had a long rubber thing to it so I would
find it more convenient. Mammy said the old muley cow was just laid
aside for my benefit, they thought so much of me, and when I got big
enough to walk I'd go with her into the cow-lot every hour in the day
and drag my bottle behind me to be milked into. I enjoyed being milked
into my mouth, too, if my bottle was too dirty to hold it just then.

Mammy said I always admired the sunshine so much that I would sit out
in it on hot days till my milk bottle would clabber, which was one
cause of my brownness. When I found out I couldn't draw anything up
through the rubber, being all clabbered, I'd begin to cry and run with
my bottle to mammy. And she would quiet me by digging out all the
clabber with a little twig and feed it to the chickens. They got to
knowing the sound of me and my bottle rattling over the gravels so
well that they'd all come a running like they do when they hear you
scrape the plates.

This, of course, was very touching to us both and we nearly cried when
she talked about going off to Washington where the people are too
stylish to keep a muley cow. They won't even keep a baby in the
families there, but the ladies keep little dogs and get divorces.

Mother wouldn't go to the wedding, for dinner and supper were worse
than breakfast. The rest of the family all went except Dilsey, who
didn't much like the way her mother had treated her about Bill.
Professor and Mrs. Young went, being still down there and a great
pleasure to us all. They were delighted, being raised up North, and
wanted to take pictures of everything. Whenever we would pass a cabin
door with a nigger and his guitar sitting in it and picking on it
they would stop and say that it was so "picturesque." And the real old
uncles with white hair and the mammies with their heads tied up they
said reminded them of "Aunty Bellum days."

Everything went off as nice as could be expected under the
circumstances until the preacher said, "Salute your bride." Then, when
Bill started to kiss her, Mammy Lou laid her hand against the side of
his head so hard you could have heard the pop up to the big house and
said she would show him how to be impudent to a woman of sixty, even
if he was a Yankee and educated. Everybody passed it off as a joke,
but the slap didn't seem to set very well with Bill, being nineteen
years old and not used to such. We left right after the ceremony and
Mammy Lou and the others walked on down to her house to wait for the
twelve o'clock train that they were going to leave on.

Although I always enjoy going to places with the Youngs on account of
the curious words and the camera they use, and although it was the
sixth marriage of my old nurse, which you don't get a chance to see
_every_ day, still when I think of breakfast, I must say it was the
saddest wedding I ever witnessed.


This morning when I first woke up and heard that regular old tune,
_Play on Your Harp, Little David_, coming so natural and lifelike from
the kitchen I thought surely it must be a dream, mammy being hundreds
of miles away in Washington. The song kept on, though, just like it
has done every morning for twenty-five years, mother says:

      "_Shad_-rach, _Me_-shach, _Abed_-ne-_go_,
      The _Lord_ has _washed_ me _white_ as _snow_,"

so I got up. It never does take me a minute to wash my face of a
morning, and this morning it took even less time. I hopped into my
clothes and flew down-stairs. It wasn't any dream! There was mammy,
not looking like she was married nor anything, and a good, cheerful
fire in the stove, and the bacon smelling like you were nearly
starved. I didn't ask any questions, but just said, "Mammy," and she
said, "Baby," and there I was hugging her fit to turn over the churn.
I asked her if mother knew that she come back and she said no, she had
been easy and not made any noise, so as to surprise us all. I reckon
mother and father are so used to having Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
wake them up of a morning that they thought it was a dream, too.
Pretty soon they heard us talking though and came in. Mother came
first, for it is the gentleman's place to let the lady go first into
the kitchen, especially when they think that breakfast is to be got.

Mother said, "What are you doing here?" and Mammy Lou said, "Getting
breakfast, Mis' Mary," which was about as straightforward as they
could have been with each other. Mother asked her if she wasn't still
married, and she said no, for she had "had occasion to give that
uppish Yankee nigger a good whippin' las' night." And then she went on
to say that she told Dilsey _she_ could have him if she still wanted
him, and said she hoped Dilsey would take him for she would just
_admire_ to be mother-in-law to that nigger.

Just then father came in, hearing the last remark about "that nigger,"
and asked Mammy Lou what the trouble was between her and her new
husband. Mammy was breaking eggs into the big yellow bowl which she
was going to scramble for breakfast, and as she commenced telling us
about her marrying troubles she began to beat them very hard, which
seemed to ease her. It is a great help to people to think of their
enemies when they are beating things, for it makes them beat all the
harder and don't really hurt the enemies.

Mammy said when they got home from the wedding she started to change
her white dress and veil and put on her good cashmere dress to ride
on the train in. Just about that time Mr. Williams spoke up and said
he was sleepy and wanted to get a good night's rest so he was going to
bed, but he wanted mammy to have him a nice rare steak for his
breakfast. Mammy then asked him if he had been born a fool or just
turned that way since he had married so far above his station. He said
he would mighty soon find out who the _fool_ was in that family--and
she better have good beaten biscuits to go with the steak. When he
said this mammy gave him another sample of her strength like she did
in the church and told him to get out of there and change his clothes
to go to George Washington. Then he gave a big ha! ha! laugh in her
face, right before Dilsey and the neighbors and said why, didn't she
know that George Washington had been dead and buried behind the church
door for a hundred years? He kept on laughing and said the "ignorance
of country niggers is really amusable."

Mammy said she hated to do it with her veil on, being a new veil and
she hadn't used it but twice, but she couldn't wait to take it off,
him grinning like a picture-taking man at his funny joke. All his
teeth were showing, and, as mammy had always admired them for being so
big and white, she decided she would keep a handful to remember him
by; so she gave him one good lick in the mouth with her wedding
slipper, which was large and easy to come off. This broke a good half
of his front tooth, she said, besides drawing a lot of blood to
relieve her feelings. While he was busy wiping away the blood and
trying to open his eyes enough to see candle-light again, mammy sat
down by him, and, before he knew it, she had dragged him across her
lap and was paddling him like he was her own dear son instead of her
husband. Then she called Dilsey and told her she might feel safe about
marrying him now, if she still wanted him, for he had better sense
than to try to fool with any member of _that_ family again. Mammy Lou
said of course _she_ couldn't stay married to a man she could paddle.
She was too much of a lady. But Dilsey turned up her nose and said she
wouldn't have any second-hand nigger, much less a whipped one.

Father spoke up then and said she couldn't give Bill to Dilsey without
getting a divorce from him first. Mammy Lou said, well, Marse Sheriff
might arrest her and Marse Judge might fine her, but she would see
them all in the place that was prepared for them before she would
waste twenty-five dollars for just _that_ little speck of marrying!

Father went on out to feed the chickens and mother went to wake up
Bertha (but not the baby) for breakfast, and Mammy Lou scraped the
eggs into the dish I had brought her.

"Divorce _nothin'_," I heard her remark as she soused the hot skillet
into water that sizzled, "I done bought a hundred dollars' worth o'
divorces _already_, and if the lawyers wasn't all scribes and
Pharisees they'd let _that_ run me the rest o' my days."



CHAPTER VI


"Yuletide in the Southland" is what Professor Young calls it, but you
would never know from the sound how nice it really is. It means that
the Youngs have come down to the bungalow to spend Christmas and have
brought his brother, Julius, to spend it too. Now, I admire Mr. Julius
Young, both his name and his ways. He noticed me the minute he got off
the train and said I would have to be his sweetheart. Although I have
learned, from being so deceived by Doctor Gordon's remarks like that,
you mustn't depend on what they say, still you can't help but like a
person when they say it to you.

He is not a college professor like his brother, but he makes his
living drawing pictures. Now, the bad part about making your living
out of poetry or art is that so _often_ you don't do it. This is the
way with Julius. He draws fully as good as other artists, but he never
has been able to get people to notice it. Professor Young says his
work lacks "the divine spark," and so the poor young man has to heat
his coffee over the gas-jet, like they always have to do in pitiful
magazine stories. So much poetry and art have made him real thin, with
strange flannel shirts, and he looks half like a writing person and
half like a hero which was raised out West. He doesn't act as peculiar
as he looks, though, laughing as jolly as Mr. Parkes if anything funny
happens. And he knows so much about horses, having traveled
considerable, that father thinks he is very clever. Father says you
can excuse an artist with horse sense better than you can just a plain
artist.

Rufe and Cousin Eunice are down in the country too, partly at our
house and partly at Rufe's folks'. This makes a nice reunion for
them, being as Marcella, Rufe's sister, is home for the first time in
three Christmases, having been off studying how to play on the piano.

Ever since during the chestnuts getting ripe Marcella has been good
friends with me, for she loves the outdoors, and there wasn't anybody
but me that had the time to spare to go with her through the woods.
She felt sorry for me, too, not getting to go back to school in the
city this fall, and so she has taught me a lot. Mother and father said
they just couldn't spare me, being the only one that lived, and born
to them in their old age. It looks like if my brothers and sisters had
known how inconvenient it was for me to be the only child they would
have tried a little harder to live.

Marcella is not pretty in a blonde-headed way, like Ann Lisbeth and
Bertha, but her hair and eyes are as dark as chocolate candy when
you've grated a whole half a cake in it, and her skin looks like cream
does when it's nearly ready to churn. She wouldn't go with me and Rufe
and Cousin Eunice to meet the Youngs at the train, being ashamed on
Julius' account, I reckon, both being single. But _we_ went and
Professor and Mrs. Young said they were too happy for anything to be
back in the country again for a regular old-fashioned Christmas. They
said they were going to do everything just like it used to be in old
England, which Professor Young had brought a book along to read about.
They said this book would "infuse a genuine Yule spirit," but if they
had scraped as many cake pans and seeded as many raisins as I have
they would have more of that spirit now than they could hold without a
dose of cordial.

Well, this morning we collected on the other side of the creek to go
after holly to decorate the bungalow with, me, the Youngs, and Rufe
and Cousin Eunice. Julius said a good many compliments about the
nature you could see all over the hills, but Rufe said shucks, if he
had _plowed_ over that nature as often as _he_ had it wouldn't look so
pretty.

Cousin Eunice said let's go straight up through the woods and maybe we
would meet Marcella coming back from a poor person's house where she
had been to carry sick folks' things to. This plan must have been made
up between them, for, sure enough, when we got to the tip-top of the
hill we found Marcella sitting under some cedar trees resting, and
leaning back against one, just like it was done for a purpose. She had
on her red hat and her little red jacket, which set off her pale looks
considerable, and if she _did_ do it for the sake of Julius she knew
the right way to get on the good side of an artist, for he commenced
acting impressed from the start. If a person is trying to be romantic
it is a better plan to meet a man under a cedar tree with a tired
expression than it is to sprain your ankle so they will have to carry
you home in their arms, like they do in books. I don't know _why_
authors sprain so many of their characters' ankles, and then let them
make love smelling of liniment.

Mother says in olden times people married each other because the
ladies were pretty and could make good cakes and the young men were
able to take care of them, but nowadays they marry because they "feel"
the same way about things. This is called congenial, and an _overly_
congenial person is an "affinity." Cousin Eunice and Rufe felt the
same way about Keats and married. Doctor Gordon and Ann Lisbeth both
loved white hyacinths and married, and this morning I heard Marcella
and Julius say they felt the same way about music. Marcella was
playing on the piano in our parlor and we were all listening when
Julius remarked:

"Oh, isn't it rare to find a woman who can properly interpret
Beethoven?"

Father was in the room and spoke up. "Yes," he said, "and rarer still,
in these days, to find one who can properly interpret the
_bake-oven_."

Marcella thinks the world and all of Beethoven and Wagner and other
persons whose names are not spelt the way you would think.

  [Illustration: For the sake of Julius _Page 108_]

Later, when there wasn't anybody present but just those two, I heard
Julius ask Marcella if she would "sit" to him. I thought at first he
must be proposing, for the folks around here say that Widow Hollis is
"setting up to" anybody when she's trying to marry. But Marcella said
right away that she would be delighted, which I knew couldn't mean
marrying, for when a young lady gets proposed to she never even _lets
on_ how glad she is, much less says _delighted_ right out in plain
words. He said her face was the purest Greek he ever saw, which didn't
make her mad, although it would me, for a Greek is a smiling,
oily-looking person which runs a candy kitchen.

When he mentioned her face looking like a Greek's face she acted so
pleased that he went on to tell her he had never been so impressed
with anybody's looks in his life as he was with hers that first day
under the cedar tree. He said oh, if he had such a model he could do
_anything_, for he was sure she had soul as well as beauty. The idea
of him telling her she had a soul--as if anybody but foreign heathens
didn't have! She said she thought it would be a noble life to be a
model and inspiration to a man of lofty ideals--like Dan T. Gabriel
Rosetty's wife was, only sometimes the _woman_ was starved. If I'd
been Marcella I'd been ashamed to mention such a thing as not getting
enough to eat, but it seemed to please Julius, for he got over closer
and commenced making a sketch of her on the back of an envelope.


This morning early Mrs. and Professor Young came over to ask father
where they could find a Yule log and a peacock. They said in the
"eternal fitness of things" they must have a log to burn all Christmas
night and a peafowl to serve with "brilliant plumage" at the dinner
table. Mrs. Young went around to the kitchen to ask Mammy Lou if she
knew how to prepare the peacock the way they wanted it and brought to
the table in its feathers with the tail spread. Mammy wasn't a speck
more polite than she was last summer about the roosters.

"No, _ma'am_," she told her, "Mis' Mary won't let even so much as a
pin feather come on her table, much less a whole crittur covered with
'em. Looks like _that_ would turn a nigger's stomach, let alone white
folks; but there ain't no 'countin' for the taste o' _Yankees_."

Professor Young tried to explain that he was cooked without the
feathers which was put on afterward and an old English custom, but
that wouldn't pacify mammy.

"Well, all I can say for the old English is that they must have
stomachs on 'em like _buzzards_," mammy told them.

The Yule log was easier and so they got that, but it isn't to be lit
till to-morrow night with ceremony.

Julius and Marcella had a long walk through the woods after
sarsaparilla vines this afternoon, and talked a good deal about how
they would like a house furnished if they were going to furnish one.
They never got as far as the kitchen and smokehouse, but they both
agreed that they would love better than anything in the world to have
a dark green library with dull brass jardinieres. (I had a _terrible_
time with that word.) Julius then spoke up and said _any_ kind of a
library that had her in it would be artistic enough for _him_, which I
thought was saying a great deal, for artists make out like they can't
live without their "atmosphere," meaning battered-up tea-kettles and
dirty curtains from Persia. Marcella must have thought he meant
something by it, too, for she turned as red as when you have a
breaking out.

I helped mother and mammy considerable this morning by tasting all the
things to see if they were just right, for we are going to have a big
dinner to-morrow and invite them all.

To-night we all went over to the bungalow to hear Professor Young read
about how they used to do Christmas things in England before the
Pilgrim Fathers. It sounded awful nice about the waifs singing, "God
rest you, merry gentlemen," on the outside of your window, and the
servants at dinner bringing in the boar's head, singing too. Professor
Young said he thought these old customs ought to be revived,
especially in the South, where we had old-timey houses and old family
servants. Father laughed and said, well, we _might_ get Mammy Lou to
bring in the turkey to-morrow to the tune of "There _wuz_ er moanin'
lady, she _lived_ in er moanin' lan'," which was all the tune she knew
besides Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, one being about as Christmasy
as the other.

After a while Mrs. Young started up the chafing-dish and called Julius
from over in the corner where he and Marcella were talking very easy,
to help her with the coffee. She hadn't more than said coffee when
Professor Young picked up his book again.

"Why, Marie, my love," he interrupted her, "coffee is not at all a
drink in keeping with the season. To preserve the unities we ought to
have a wassail bowl." Then he read us how easy it was to make up the
wassail. All you have to do is to take wine, or ale, and sugar and
nutmeg, mixed with ginger and spice, then have apples and toast and
roasted crabs floating around in it. You must mix it up in an old
silver bowl that has been in your family a hundred years with the coat
of arms on it. A coat of arms is two peculiar animals standing on
their hind legs pawing at each other.

Mrs. Young said she was as anxious to preserve the unities as
Augustus, but how could she when there wasn't any wine or ale or
ginger or crabs, to say nothing of the silver bowl with the coat of
arms marked on it. Rufe said not to worry, for we might find it hard,
along toward midnight and day, to preserve much unity between wassail
and Welsh rabbit, if we ate them together, so the wassail bowl was
dropped.


All during my diary there hasn't been a thing as thrilling to happen
as what happened to-day, Christmas Day, to Julius and Marcella.
Getting your arm broken and carried to the hospital by your future
husband wasn't anything to compare with this.

Everybody was happy at the dinner table, me especially, for besides
all the books I wanted I got a pyrography set and a pearl ring. I
don't think any girl is complete without a pearl ring. The company all
praised mammy's cooking and Julius remarked that after such a dinner
as that it would be pretty tough on a fellow to go back to town the
next day and live on coffee heated over the gas-jet and crackers. We
laughed considerable over the gas-jet, all but Marcella, who didn't
look funny.

Just as we got the plum pudding burning and Julius had said he wished
he could paint a picture of it Dilsey came into the dining-room with a
telegram addressed to Mr. Julius Young. This excited Mammy Lou, who
admires him very much, so she nearly spilt all the sauce, saying,
"Thar! I jes' _know_ it's some of yo' folks dead!"

Julius laughed and told her he reckoned not, as all the folks he had
on earth were right there at the table, and he looked at Marcella when
he said it in preference to his own brother! Much to all of our
disappointment Julius never even opened his telegram and read it,
although we didn't say anything about it. He put it in his pocket and
went on eating pudding like it wasn't any more to be proud of than
just a plain mail letter.

After dinner father took them all out in the garden to look at some
new hotbeds he was having made and Julius and Marcella went into the
parlor. I stayed in the hall by the door, not being wanted in the
parlor and not admiring hotbeds much. They didn't sit down, but went
over and stood by the piano and all of a sudden Marcella said
nervous-like:

"Why don't you read your telegram? It might contain good news."

"It _is_ good news, I feel sure," he told her, "and I wanted you to be
the first one to know it--that's the reason I didn't mention it at
the table."

She said well hurry up and tell her, so he did. He said the day he saw
her leaning against the cedar tree he thought she was so beautiful
that he went straight back to the bungalow and made a picture of her
like she was then and sent it to a large magazine up North which had
promised to give five thousand dollars to the person which sent them
the best picture by Christmas, and he believed the telegram was to say
that his was it. Marcella told him well, he had a high opinion of his
work to take it for granted that it had won such a prize as _that_.

"Not at all," he said, catching her hand in his, "for it was a picture
of _you_."

This sounded so loving that I wasn't prepared for what came next. I
heard them tear open the telegram and Marcella said, "_Good-ness_;"
and he said, "Well, I'll be--I wasn't looking for this!" and it made
me so interested that before I knew it I was in the parlor, though so
easy and it nearly dark that I don't think they saw me.

As near as I could make out the telegram told Julius they thought his
picture was so good they were not only going to give him the prize
like they promised, but wanted to engage him to draw for them all the
next year and how much salary would he do it for.

"Why, you can have your green library and brass jardinieres _now_,"
Marcella said, still holding hands and her voice like it was about to
cry. He just looked at her and looked a long time without saying a
word. Finally he put both hands on her shoulders and looked down into
her eyes.

"I can have nothing without you," he said in the most devoted voice I
ever heard. "It is your beauty that has made my picture succeed. If I
amount to anything you will have to come with me--will you?"

"You want me for your model?" she asked very quivery and making out
like she didn't know what he was driving at, but she put her hands up
on his shoulders too, which was enough to give her away.

"True, I can not draw without you for my model," he said so grand and
sweet that it made you feel very strange listening to it, "but I can
not _live_ without you for my wife."

This won her. It was enough to win _anybody_, coming from an artist,
and good looking at that.



CHAPTER VII


Being in love with Marcella weighed so on Julius' mind that he
couldn't stay in New York but one week where the magazine is that he
draws for, so he came back and has been here ever since, loving and
drawing and sending them the jobs by mail. Right away they set the
wedding for the eleventh of April, which seems like it _never_ will
come, me being in a big hurry for it. Poor Julius gets more and more
delighted every day, talking a heap about what a happy home they're
going to have, not realizing that Chopin and dish-pan don't go
together. He stays around and advises Marcella about her clothes and
such-like all day long. He says she reminds him of a narcissus, being
tall and creamy-skinned, so he wants all her dresses to be either
white or light green, the color of right young lettuce. But she knows
when really to take his advice and when just to make like she's taking
it, the way most ladies do with men.

"Why, it would take a little pink milksop like Bertha Parkes to wear
such colors as _those_," she said behind his back one day. But I don't
think Marcella better be calling Bertha a _milksop_ just because she
has to handle baby-bottles all the time, for a person never can tell
what might happen to them.

One of the nicest things about the wedding is the bridesmaids. They
consist of girls born partly here in the country, partly in the cities
Marcella has visited and made friends with. The one I like best is
Miss Cicely Reeves, though most people around here call her Cis, being
very small, with fluffy hair and cute ways and dimples. She has a good
many lovers of different kinds, but don't seem to like one above
another. She is a great hand to act romantic, such as falling in love
with a man in a streetcar, or expecting her future husband to be a
certain size and comb his hair a certain way and things like that.
This often keeps young ladies from getting married a long time, for
mother says you oughtn't to be too choice about size and hair, but I
can't help being on that order myself. I do hope I can marry a man on
a jet-black charger named Sir Reginald de Beverley who owns _acres_
and _acres_ of English landed gentry.

Miss Cis had that experience with the _name_ of Julius' best man. It
happened that we were all sitting on the front step one day when
Julius pulled a letter out of his pocket and told Marcella that he had
just heard from Malcolm Macdonald, and that he was going to be his
best man.

"_Who?_" asked Miss Cis right quick, looking up from the sprig of
bridal wreath she was pulling the flowers off of.

Julius told her the name over again and then told her that he was a
very old friend of his and was a fine civil engineer. I used to think
a civil engineer was a _polite_ man who ran the trains, but I know now
he is a man that gets in the middle of the street with a string and a
three-legged thing and measures the road.

"Is he married?" Miss Cis asked a heap quicker than she had asked who.

"No, and not likely to be," Julius answered, still looking over the
letter absent-mindedly.

"The name sounds good," Miss Cis commenced, her eyes sparkling. "I
never heard anything Scotchier. Something tells me he must be my
ideal."

"Then 'something' must be telling you a lie," Julius said laughing,
"for he couldn't be any woman's ideal. He is very _real_. An old
bachelor, thirty-seven years, stern and precise; and he considers
every woman on earth as a frivolous and _un_necessary evil."

"The kind of man I adore," Miss Cis said joyfully, though anybody that
knew her well could tell she was fooling. "My life will be a blank
until he comes!"

"It would be a blankety-blank if you had to live with him, for you are
the kind of woman to torment such a man to death."

"All the more reason for his falling in love with me, as I have fallen
in love with his name, and if he doesn't I shall consider him a very
_un_civil engineer." Which was just her way of talking. This happened
fully two months ago, but they have talked about it off and on ever
since. And now he is coming to stay with Julius till the wedding, to
cheer him up I suppose.


Sure enough he did come to-day, although lots of times I imagine that
I never will get to see a person I have heard spoken of so often and
in such high tones--and sometimes I wish I hadn't. But it wasn't that
way with Mr. Macdonald. Nobody on earth could have been disappointed
in _him_ for he is one of the tallest gentlemen I ever saw with
trousers so smoothly creased that they look like somebody had ironed
them after he put them on. He takes his own time about saying things,
being very careful about saying "of whom" and "by which" like the
grammar tells you to.

Julius brought him over to Marcella's this afternoon so he could be
making friends with her and the bridesmaids that were collected there.
Remembering how they had been teasing Miss Cis about him I kept my eye
on her from the minute he walked through the door. I was greatly
disappointed though, for she never _seemed_ to notice him. I guess she
took a better look at him than I imagined though, for the minute they
were gone she jumped clear across the room to where Marcella was
standing and grabbed her and danced up and down.

"Isn't he _beautiful_!" she said all out of breath. "I'm just crazy
about him! Did you ever see such Gibsony feet and legs in your
_life_?" Which mortified her mother, it being impolite to mention feet
and legs in her days.

Julius is romantic, too, for a man, and says he doesn't want any
flowers used in connection with his wedding except the sweet, early
spring ones that favor Marcella so much. We have a yard full of them
and so mother told them this morning that they better come over and
gather them, knowing that young folks enjoy picking flowers together
and they will stay fresh for several days if you put a little salt in
the water.

It was the most beautiful morning you ever saw, with birds and peach
blossoms and the smell of plowed ground all making curious feelings
inside of you. Marcella, being a musician, noticed the birds, and
Julius, being an artist, noticed the peach blossoms, but Mr.
Macdonald, being just a man, noticed Miss Cis. She would walk along
without noticing him and take a seat in the farthest corner away from
him, but anyhow she seemed to do the work, which taught me a lesson;
that if you're trying to get a man to notice you it is the best plan
not to notice them except when they ain't looking.

They sat down on the porch and rested a while after they came while
the narcissuses (narcissi _they_ called them, which sounds stuck up to
me) smelled very sweet from the yard. Julius remarked he wished they
had made Rufe come along with them so he could have said poetry out of
Keats, as it was just the kind of day to make you feel Keatsy; and
pretty soon he and Marcella got on to their favorite subject, "The
Ruby Yacht," which they say is a piece of poetry from Persia. They
talked and talked, which made me very sleepy and pretty soon I noticed
that Mr. Macdonald was getting sleepy too. He leaned over to Miss Cis
and said, kinder whispery:

"I don't understand poetry, do you?"

"No, I don't," she answered back, with a smile on her face which I
knew she meant to be "congenial." I knew this was a story, for she
talks about "The Ruby Yacht" as much as anybody when he ain't around,
but I didn't blame her for telling one in a case like this.

"I never could discover what the deuced Ruby Yacht was about, in the
first place," he said.

"It looks like, from the name," I said speaking up, "that it would be
about a red ship," but before I could get any further they began to
laugh and tell my remark to Julius and Marcella, which was mortifying.
This broke up the poetry talk and they began gathering the flowers,
Miss Cis and Mr. Macdonald picking in pairs, by which I knew they were
getting affinityfied.

After they had picked till their backs were tired Mammy Lou came out
on the porch bringing a waiter with some of her best white cake and a
bottle of her year-before-last-before-that's wine setting on it and
her finest ruffled cap, very proud. She was curious to see the young
man "Miss Cis was settin' up to, to see whether the match was a
fittin' one or not." She took a good look at him, then called Miss Cis
into the hall to speak her opinion.

"He'll _do_," I heard her saying, while Miss Cis was telling her to
"s-s-sh, Mr. MacDonald would hear her."

"He'll _do_," mammy kept on, not paying any attention to what was told
her, like she always don't. "He must be all right, for bein' a frien'
o' Mr. Juliuses would pass 'im.' But, honey, he _is_ tolerable
_po_-faced, which ain't no good sign in marryin'. If thar's anybody
better experienced in that business than _me_ and King Solomon I'd
like to see the whites o' ther eyes; an' I tell you every time, if you
want to get a good-natured, wood-cuttin', baby-tendin' husban' choose
one that's _fat in the face_!"

A good many wedding presents commenced to coming in this morning,
which was a sign that the invitations got to the people all right. You
often hear of things being worth their weight in silver, but there's
_one_ thing you can count on it's being true about and that is wedding
invitations. You never saw such delighted people as Julius and
Marcella. They were laid out on tables in the parlor and greatly
admired.

"They're _ours_, dearest," he said, squeezing her hand right before
everybody, "yours and mine! Our Lares and Penates."

This greatly impressed me and I looked it up in the back of the
dictionary when I got home, which is a very useful place to find
strange words. It said: "Lares et Penates, household gods," which
didn't make sense, so I knew the dictionary man must have made a
mistake and meant to say household _goods_.

"Gentle-_men_!" said Mammy Lou when I told the words to her, "if he
thinks up such names as _them_ for his fu'niture what _will_ he do
when he gets to his chil'en?"

This remark seemed to put an idea into her head, for Lovie, mammy's
other daughter besides Dilsey, has got a pair of two little twins that
have been going around for the last five years in need of a name just
because Mammy Lou and Ike, their father, can't ever agree on one--a
name nor anything else.

"Them's the very names for the little angels," Mammy said, washing
the dinner dishes deep in thought, "for the twins bein' boys and girls
and the names bein' able to accommodate therselves to ary sect proves
that they're the _very thing_." She studied over it for a good while,
I guess on account of Ike, although mammy is usually what she calls
very plain-spoken with him. A plain-spoken person is one that says
nasty things to your face and expects you not to get mad. When they
say them behind your back they're "diplomatic." But finally she
started off to name them, and, having had so much trouble already with
Ike, I saw her slip her heavy-soled slippers into her pocket before
she started. She stayed away a long, long time, but when she got back
she held her head so high and acted so stuck-up that I just knew she
had got to use both the names and the slippers.

"Did you name 'em?" I asked her, going to the kitchen to get some
tea-cakes, supper being very late.

"_Did I?_" she answered back, cutting out the biscuits with a haughty
look, "you just oughter a _saw_ me namin' 'em!"

"Which did you name which?" I asked.

"I named the precious boy Penates, because I most know these common
niggers roun' here'll shorten it to 'Peanuts' which would be hurtin'
to a little girl's feelin's."

"Well," I said, continuing to show a friendly interest, "ain't you
glad they're named at last, so's if they die you could have a
tombstone for them?"

"Glad!" she answered, putting the biscuits in the pan (but her mind
still on the twins), and sticking holes in the top of them with a
fork, "glad ain't no name for it! Why, I ain't had as much enjoyment
out o' nothin' as I had out o' this namin' sence the night I married
Bill Williams!"


It's a very thrilling and exciting thing to be a bride and if you
can't be a bride you can still manage to get a good many thrills out
of just a bridesmaid. All of Marcella's have talked about how nervous
and timid they are going to be--when the men are around--and some say
they nearly faint when a great crowd stares at them, others say they
bet folks will think they've got St. Vituses' dance from trembling so;
anyhow, they're all very modest. But Miss Cis, I believe, ain't
putting on, for all she claims toward modestness is that her knees get
so weak that they nearly let her drop when she acts a bridesmaid,
which is the way a good many persons feel. The maids have laughed a
good deal over her knees among themselves, never dreaming that the men
would catch on to them, but they did in the following manner:

Miss Cis stayed all night at Marcella's last night to tell secrets for
the last time, for after a lady is married you can't be too careful
about telling her your secrets; and early this morning I ran over and
saw her dressed in a pretty blue kimono, which set off her good looks
greatly, down by the woodpile which they keep in the side yard. There
is a hedge of honeysuckle which runs between the garden and the yard
and she appeared to be searching on the ground for something close to
this hedge. I went up to where she was, admiring her company, and she
smiled when she saw me.

"Ann," she said, very pleasantly, "can you help me find two nice,
little, smooth, thin boards?"

I complimented her on her kimono and said yes'm to the board question,
then asked her what she wanted with them.

"My knees," she answered laughing, "they're so idiotic that when I get
excited they threaten to let me drop. If I could strap two nice little
boards to them, at the back, you know, it would prop them up and be
_such_ a help!"

"You couldn't walk very good," I told her, but she said oh, yes she
could; and to prove it she commenced whistling the wedding march and
walking stiff-kneed away from the woodpile to the tune of it. She
looked so funny that I started to laugh, when just then I heard
another laugh on the other side of the honeysuckle vines. I found a
place where I could peep through and saw it was Julius and Mr.
Macdonald who had come out to view Mr. Clayborne's hotbeds, and
greatly complimenting them, Julius knowing that it's a fine thing to
stay on the good side of your father-in-law in case you lose your job.

I knew they heard what Miss Cis had said, for they were laughing very
hard, which caused Mr. Macdonald to look real young, being as his eyes
can twinkle. I knew it would be mortifying for her to see that they
had heard her, so I hollered and told her that I heard Marcella
calling her from the up-stairs window, so she ran right on in without
coming back to the woodpile. I started to go on after her, but just as
I got to the kitchen door I remembered that I had left my pretty white
sunbonnet that Mammy Lou had freshly ironed for me on the woodpile and
ran back to get it.

Julius and Mr. Macdonald were right where they were, only looking in
the other direction and talking very seriously, so I stayed a minute
out of friendly interest.

"Although so bright and amusing she is never silly," I heard Mr.
Macdonald's long, slow voice saying. "She is a very lovely,
fascinating little woman." So I took a seat on the woodpile.

"You'd better fall in love with her," Julius said, cutting the briers
off of a long switch he held in his hand, and talking careless like,
as if he wasn't paying much attention.

"Your advice comes too late," Mr. Macdonald said, his voice so solemn
that Julius looked up in surprise.

"What!" Julius remarked.

"Yes," Mr. Macdonald said, sounding very devoted, "I did that very
thing the first moment I looked at her dear, sweet face."

Julius stared at him a minute, then laughed a tickled laugh; and I
moved my seat right up to the hedge so I could get a good look at
them--it was the next best thing to a proposal.

"That's the funniest thing I ever heard of," Julius said after he had
quit laughing.

"It's devilish funny to _you_," poor Mr. Macdonald said, looking like
he didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. "But--what am I to do?"

"Do?" said Julius very businesslike, like folks talk when they're
telling you to follow _their_ example. "What do men in your situation
usually do? Why, propose to her!"

"But _she'd_ never marry _me_," he said looking right pitiful, for he
spoke as humble as if he wasn't any taller than me, and him over six
feet tall. "It would be the most absurd thing in the world for a man
like me to propose to a woman like her!"

"No, you're wrong," Julius told him, still half laughing, "the _most_
absurd thing would be that she would accept you!"

I'm awfully tired to-night and it would cramp my hand nearly to death
to write all about the wedding--how Julius looked happy up to the
last, and how Marcella cried just enough to appear ladylike on her
lace handkerchief; and how the family relatives cried a little too.
Weddings are all alike, but proposals are all different, and I think
I'd better use more space on them in my diary, so my grandchildren
won't get sleepy over the sameness. But it would be a waste of
handwriting to tell how Miss Cis tormented poor Mr. Macdonald all day,
making him chase around after her trying to get in a private, loving
word; and me just crazy to see whether she really was going to accept
him or not, although I _might_ have known!

He followed her up though, looking so brave and determined that he
reminded me of "The boy stood on the burning deck." She worried him so
that all through the ceremony he looked so pale and troubled that
you'd have thought it was _him_ getting married. Finally, just before
it was time for the train that he was going back to town on to blow
she changed about and commenced acting sweet.

  [Illustration: He followed her up though _Page 138_]

All this was nice enough to watch, but is cramping to write about,
and anyhow, the main thing with me was to see whether she was going to
accept him or not. I stayed close to their heels all day, but he
didn't get a chance to propose until just after dark, down by the
front gate, with nobody around except me and a calecanthus bush
and--well, you just ought to have _seen_ her accepting him!



CHAPTER VIII


Ever since my last birthday there has a great change come over me for
I have not kept my diary. Mother took me to one side that morning and
said it was time for me to act like I was growing up now. She said
many a girl as big as me could pick a chicken and I couldn't do a
thing but write a diary; and would even run and stop up my ears every
time Mammy Lou started to wring one's head off. She said all the
ladies of the neighborhood nearly worried her to death advising her to
teach me how to work and saying it was simply ridiculous for a great
big girl like me to lie flat on her stomach reading a book all day in
the grass. This shows how I am misunderstood by my family, and I told
mother so, but she said for goodness' sake not to get _that_ idea
into my head, for girls that were always complaining about being
"misunderstood" were the kind that got divorces from their husbands
afterward. I know this won't be the way with me, though, for I expect
to live on good terms with Sir Reginald, always wearing pink satin and
spangles even around the castle; and never getting mussy-looking when
I give the children a bath in hopes of retaining his affections, like
they tell you to in ladies' magazines. But I didn't mention Sir
Reginald to mother, or she would have misunderstood me worse than
ever.

Goodness! I reckon the neighbors would have a fit if they could see me
of a night when I dress up and step out on the porch roof, making like
I'm Juliet in Shakespeare. I wear a lace thing over my head and let a
pair of Cousin Eunice's last year's bedroom slippers represent Romeo
with fur around the top. They are the kind he wore the night they took
me to see him and are all I can find in the house that looks at all
like him. Nobody gets to see me doing this, though, for I lock the
door. Somehow I think it would be a nicer world if you could always
lock the door on your advising friends.

Last summer Rufe said I was so clever for my age (_he_ said) that I
ought to be in the city (I like this kind of advice) at a good school;
so father and mother decided to move to the city and take Mammy Lou
and spend the winter and all the other winters until I could get
educated and live in a flat. So we went, me writing much sorry poetry
about leaving my old home. The older I get the more I think of poetry
and I reckon by the time I'm engaged I'll be crazy about it!

Our leaving was very sad, poor little Lares and Penates crying so hard
at the depot where they went to tell Mammy Lou good-by that a drummer
who was traveling with a kind heart gave them a quarter apiece to
hush.

I never admired the name of flat from the first and when we started to
rent one I admired it less than ever. It consists of a very large
house, divided up, and no place to kill a chicken. There is also no
place to warm your feet, nor to pop corn. In fact, there are more
places where you _can't_ do things than where you can. Rufe took us to
every one in town nearly, and mammy paid particular attention to how
the kitchens were fixed and asked what became of the potato peelings
with no pigs to eat them up. Finally, after everything had been
explained to her, she spoke up in the midst of a lady's flat with
tears in her eyes and said:

"Mis' Mary, le's go back to the country whar slop is called _slop_; up
here it's '_gawbage_!'"

Father and mother were both delighted that going back had been
mentioned without either one of _them_ saying it first, for both of
their feet were sore from looking for flats; and they like to have
fallen over each other in agreeing with mammy.

"God never intended for _human beings_ to live in flats," father said,
after the elevator had put us down on dry land once more, drawing a
deep breath.

"Nor in cities either," Rufe agreed, with a far-away look in his eyes,
like he might be thinking of the chestnut hunts and black haws of his
boyhood.

That night they said well, they had found out they couldn't live in
the city, and they weren't going to be separated from me, and I _had_
to be educated; so Rufe then told them that a governess was the next
best thing. This sounded so much like a young girl in a book that at
first I was delighted. A governess is a very clean person that always
expects you to be the same. Only in books they are usually
drab-colored young ladies without any nice clothes or parents, but the
son of the family falls in love with them, much to their surprise, and
they lose their job. Then the son gets sent away to India with his
regiment, where he hopes he can meet sweet death through a bullet
hole. This is the way they are in books.

Mine, though, is not anything like that, being very pretty and pink,
and with a regular father and mother like other folks have. But there
is a great mystery connected with her. Don't anybody but me know about
it, and I don't know _all_ about it. From the very first she seemed to
have something on her mind; this is very unusual for a young girl, so
I tried to find out what the cause of it was. One day at the dinner
table when she had been here about two weeks father remarked that I
was learning faster from her than I ever had, and he hoped that she
would stay here with us until I was finished being educated and not be
wanting to get married, like most young ladies. Miss Wilburn, instead
of laughing as one would expect, turned red in the face (her first
name is Louise) and said something that sounded like "Oh no!"

Mammy, who was in the room at the time, spoke up as she usually does
and said well, there must be something wrong with her if she didn't
want to marry, as all right-minded women married once and extra smart
ones married as often as there was any occasion to! Instead of smiling
Miss Wilburn looked more painful than ever; so mammy, who thinks
enough of her to _even_ do up her shirtwaists, changed the subject.

That night when I went into the kitchen to talk to mammy during the
cooking her mind was still on the subject of Miss Wilburn and
marrying.

"Honey," she said to me, flipping over the cakes with great
conviction, "I've been thinking it over and the long and short of it
is that pore child's been _fooled_! I know them _symptoms_! She's been
fooled and she's grievin' over it. Though thar ain't no use for a
woman to grieve over nary _one_ man so long's she under forty and got
good front teeth!"

I said oh, I hoped not. I hated to think about the lover of my
governess proving false! I told mammy maybe he had just died or
something else he couldn't help. But she interrupted me.

"Died nothin'! That ain't no excuse, for thar's allus time to marry no
matter what you're fixin' to do. Thar ain't nothin' no excuse for not
marryin' in this world," she kept on, "be it male or female. You
needn't be settin' thar swingin' your legs and arguin' with _me_ about
the holy estate!"

The very first minute I thought there was anything of a loving nature
connected with Miss Wilburn I got out my diary to write it down, as
you see. She had told mother anyhow to let me keep it as it would
"stimulate my mental faculties" and they would never be able to make a
chicken-picking person out of me. I'm going to keep it right here in
the drawer and jot down everything I see, although I am _convinced_
that the lover is dead. Julius and Marcella are down here now for the
first time since they were married. We see them a great deal, for they
love to go walking through the woods with Miss Wilburn and me; but I
can't waste my diary writing about them _now_.

I just happened to think what a pity it was that I didn't try to find
out the mystery about Miss Wilburn from Rufe and Cousin Eunice when we
was up there last summer, for they knew her real well before we got
her. In fact, for the first few days she and I didn't have any
congenial things to talk about except them and tiny Waterloo.
Waterloo's little name by rights is Rufus Clayborne, Junior, and he
occurred at a time when I wasn't keeping my diary; but my
grandchildren would have known about him anyhow, he being their little
fifth cousin. He is very different from Bertha's baby, for he is a
boy. I thought when I first saw him that if there was anything sweeter
in this world than a girl baby it is a boy one!

Rufe and Cousin Eunice have lately been kinder New Thought persons,
which think if you have "poise" enough there can't anything on earth
conquer you. Rufe bragged particularly about nothing being able to
conquer _him_ or get him in a bad temper, he had so much poise. But
when little Rufus was just three nights old and he had walked him the
other _two_ and he was still squalling he threw up his job.

"Poise be hanged!" Cousin Eunice told us he said, "I've met _my_
Waterloo!" And they've called him that ever since.

When we were up there in the summer Waterloo was giving his father
considerable trouble about the editorials. An editorial is a smart
remark opposite the society column; and Rufe couldn't think up smart
things while he was squalling.

"Oh, for a desert island!" he said one night when he was awful busy
and couldn't get anything done. "Oh, for a mammoth haystack where I
might thrust my head to drown the noise--I've read that Jean Jacques
Rousseau used to do so! Listen, I've made a rhyme!"

"'Tis not rhymes but dimes we need most just now; so go on with your
work," Cousin Eunice said, gathering Waterloo together to take him
up-stairs.

"Merely removing the location of the noise will lessen it but
slightly," Rufe called to her as she got to the door. "Seriously, do
you know of a hayloft in the neighborhood where I might go?"

"You might go next door to the Williams' garage and thrust your head
into their can of gasolene--_that's_ the latter-day equivalent for
hay!" Cousin Eunice answered kinder-mad, for _she_ admires Waterloo,
no matter how he acts.

So Miss Wilburn and I talked over all we knew about the little fellow;
and I thought what a mistake I'd made in not asking Cousin Eunice what
Miss Wilburn's lover's name was and where he is buried and a few other
things like that. But then I couldn't, because I didn't know that
there was a lover. Still, Mammy Lou can talk till her hair turns
straight and she won't get me to believe that he's anything else but
dead. Everything seems to point to it, from the fact of her not
getting any letters from young men and looking lonesome at times and
not wearing any diamond engagement ring. I'm sure he gave her one,
but maybe his wicked kinfolks made her give it back to them after the
funeral. Or maybe she buried it in his grave. I don't know why Miss
Wilburn never talks about him for one of our neighbors talks all the
time about her husband which was killed in the war. I used to be
delighted to hear her commence telling about him. He was killed at the
battle of Shiloh and was the tallest and handsomest man in the army.
She takes a great deal of pleasure in talking about him, and when
there are summer boarders at her house he grows to be nearly seven
feet tall and so handsome that it hurts your eyes to look at him. Her
second husband is stone deaf and can't hear it thunder, which makes it
nicer for them, for while it amuses her to talk about her first
husband's good looks it ain't hurting to the second one's feelings.

The autumn leaves are just lovely now and make you want to write a
book, or at least a piece of poetry. It's right hard on you, though,
not to have anything to write about but a girl without a beau. It's
kinder like eating sweet potatoes without butter. I decided this
morning that I better make the most of what I have got as a subject,
so I started to writing one called _The Maiden Widow_. I've heard of a
book by that name, but I don't reckon they'll have me arrested for
writing just a short poem by the same name. We have some nature study
every morning in the woods, which is one of the best things about
having a governess. She lets me do just as I like, so I took my tablet
and while she was writing some history questions I composed on my
poem. It is very discouraging work, though, to write about widows, for
there's nothing on earth that will rhyme with them. I got one line,
"The maiden widow, she wept, she did, oh!" which was sorry enough
sounding, but I didn't know whether or not it was exactly fair to have
two words rhyming with just one. After a while I thought maybe a
regular poet could do a better job by it than even I could, so I
decided to ask Marcella to ask Julius to write me a few lines as a
copy to go by, for anybody that can draw such lovely pictures ought to
be able to write poetry.

Marcella came over this afternoon and I took her up-stairs very
secretly to ask her about it. She said why, what on earth made me
think that Miss Wilburn was grieving over a dead lover, and I told her
that _everything_ made me think it. After studying about it for a
little while she said well, it might be that I was right, for the girl
did seem to have something preying on her mind. But she said such
subjects were not suitable for children of my age to be writing about
and that I ought to write about violets and sparrows. I said then
would she please find out from Julius whether or not there was a rhyme
for widow, for I might want to write a poem on them when I got grown,
but she said, "Ann, you are incorrigible," which I keep forgetting to
look up in the dictionary, although it looks like I would, for it has
been said to me so many times.

A thing happened this morning which made me understand what
Shakespeare must have meant when he said "Much Ado About Nothing." It
reminded me of the time Cousin Eunice rushed to the telephone and
called Rufe up and said, "Oh, dearest, the baby's got a tooth!" This
was harmless enough in itself, but it is when things are misunderstood
that the trouble comes in. Rufe misunderstood and thought she said,
"The baby's got the croup," which is very dangerous. So he didn't stop
to hear another word, but dropped the telephone and grabbed his hat.
It was night, for Rufe's paper is a morning one that works its men at
night, and didn't wait for a car, but jumped into a carriage, which
costs like smoke. He drove by Doctor Gordon's house and told the
driver to run in and tell Doctor Gordon to come right on and drive to
his house with him, as his baby was very sick, although Doctor Gordon
has an automobile of his own. He and Ann Lisbeth happened to have a
few friends in to play cards with them that night, but when she heard
the news about the baby she told the company that Cousin Eunice was
one of the best friends she had in the world and she would have to go
on over and see if she could help any. So the card party was broken up
and they all drove as hard as they could tear over to Rufe's house,
where they found Cousin Eunice tickled to death over the tooth and
washing Waterloo's little mouth out with boric acid water, which is
the proper thing. This is what I call much ado about nothing, and I'm
sure Shakespeare would if he was living to-day.

What happened this morning was equally as exciting and a long story,
so I'm going to stop and sharpen my pencil, for I despise to write
exciting things with a pencil that won't half write.

I reckon some people might lay the blame on me for what happened, but
it ain't so at all, if people hadn't just misunderstood me. Anyhow, it
may make me "curb my imagination," as Julius says, for that is what
they blamed it all on.

When we started out for our nature study this morning father said if
we could stand the sight of human nature a little would we go down
town right after train time and get the mail? We said yes and
Marcella, who was with us, said she would be glad to go in that
direction, for Julius was there and we could meet him and he would
walk home with us. She still likes to see him every few minutes in the
day.

There are usually several very handsome drummers and insurance men and
things like that standing around the post-office which have just got
off of the train at this hour, but this morning there wasn't anybody
but one strange man and he was talking to Julius like he knew him.
When we passed by Julius spoke to us and I noticed that the strange
man looked at Miss Wilburn and looked surprised. All in a minute I
thought maybe he was the lover which had just returned from some
foreign shore, instead of being dead, and would run up with open
hands and say, "Louise," and she would say, "Marmaduke," and all would
be well.

I learned afterward, though, that his name is Mr. White and he lives
in the city and has come down here on business and knew Julius. After
we had passed he remarked that he was surprised to see Miss Wilburn
down here as he didn't know she was away from home. Julius asked him
if he knew Miss Wilburn and he said no, but he knew Paul Creighton,
the fellow she was going to marry, mighty well. Julius, instead of not
saying anything as a person ought, spoke up and said why he understood
that Miss Wilburn's sweetheart was dead. The strange man said why he
was utterly shocked for he had seen Creighton on the streets only a
few days before, but he _had_ looked kinder pale and worried then. He
said it made him feel weak in the knees to hear such a thing, and
Julius commenced saying something about it must be a mistake then, but
Mr. White said no, he guessed it was so, for Mr. Creighton had looked
awful pale and thin, like he might be going into consumption. Julius
said well he was certain his wife had told him something about Miss
Wilburn having a dead lover, but he hadn't paid much attention to what
she was saying, like most married men; but it surely couldn't be so.
By that time Mr. White was moving down the street to where we were and
was asking Julius to introduce him to Miss Wilburn, so he could find
out the particulars about poor old Creighton. I _will_ give Julius
credit for trying to stop him, but he is one of the kind of persons
that never knows when to say a thing and when not to, Mr. White, I
mean. And before Julius could get him side-tracked they had caught up
with us and there wasn't anything else to do but introduce him. Miss
Wilburn smiled very joyfully when she heard his name, and in a minute
he had got her off to one side and I heard him saying something about
how horrified he was to hear the news about poor Creighton. In just
an instant Miss Wilburn was the one that looked horrified and said why
_what_? This seemed to bring Mr. White to his right mind a little and
instead of going ahead and telling it he turned around to Julius and
said:

"Why our friend, Young, here, was telling me that----"

"I _told_ you that it must be a mistake," Julius spoke up, looking
awfully uncomfortable, "but I remember my wife saying that--oh, say,
Marcella, explain--will you?"

"Why, Julius Young," Marcella commenced in a married-lady tone, "you
promised me that you wouldn't say a word about it; anyway we only
suspected----"

"Will _nobody_ tell me what has happened to Paul?" Miss Wilburn said
in a low, strangled voice, like she couldn't get her breath good.

"Ain't anything happened to him that _we_ know of," I told her, for
Julius and the rest of them looked like they were speechless. "We
thought _you_ knew it!"

"Knew _what_? Oh, for the love of Heaven, tell me!" she said, poor
thing! And I felt awful sorry for us all, but for Miss Wilburn and me
in particular.

I just couldn't tell her we thought he was _plumb_ dead, so I told her
we thought he must be very sick or something.

"He may be," she answered, not looking any happier. "I haven't heard
from him since I've been here! Oh, it serves me right for acting such
an idiot as to run off down here and forbid his writing to me! He may
be desperately ill! How did you hear it?"

"Ain't anybody heard it _yet_!" I told her, feeling so angry at
Marcella and Julius and Mr. White for telling such a thing and so
ashamed of myself for making it up that I couldn't think very well. I
kept wishing in my mind that it was the first day of April so I could
say "April Fool," or an earthquake would happen or _anything_ else to
pass it off; but didn't anything happen, so I had to stand there with
all of them looking at me and tell Miss Wilburn how Mammy Lou said
_she_ believed she had been fooled because she looked so sad at the
mention of marrying, but _I_ believed the gentleman was dead.

Well, it took every one of us every step of the way home to explain it
to her and to each other, each one of us talking as hard as we could;
and Julius remarked what he'd do the next time he heard any such
"sewing-society tales" under his breath.

Just as we got in sight of the house poor Miss Wilburn was so worn out
with grief and anxiety that she sat down on the big stump and laughed
and cried as hard as she could. Mother saw her from the window and she
and mammy ran down to where we were to see what it was all about. She
patted Miss Wilburn on the back and on the head and said, "poor dear,"
while mammy said she would run right back to the house and brew her
some strong tea, which was splendid when a body was distressed about a
man.

"There, dear, talk to us about him," mother said, after the whole
story was told, "tell us about him, for talking will do you good.
You've been unnaturally quiet about him since you've been here!"

"I was trying to find out whether or not I really loved him," Miss
Wilburn said, after Julius and Marcella had left us and we were going
on up the walk. "It was silly of me, for all the time I've been so
lonesome for him that I felt as if I should scream if anybody
suggested men or marrying to me!"

"Yes, you pore lamb," mammy said, walking on fast to make the tea,
"you loves him, you shore do. I knows them symptoms!"



CHAPTER IX


I think if the person which remarked, "It is not always May," had said
April he would have come nearer hitting it, for I think it is the most
beautiful time of all. There's something in the very feelings at this
time of the year that makes you want to write pretty things, whether
you know what you want to say or not. So I have got out my diary and
dusted it off, it being laid away in the drawer ever since last fall,
when I told about me getting Miss Wilburn's affairs so mixed up
because there hasn't been anything happening.

One time not long ago I did get out my diary, for I got very excited
over the news that a _widow_ was here, and I sharpened seventeen
pencils so as to be ready for her. But she had the misfortune to
marry, before I could get introduced to her, a man from her same city
which had got on the train and followed her down here. She was a
lovely, high-heeled, fluffy-petticoated kind of a widow and I could
have written _chapters_ out of her I know; because all the time she
was down here the ladies' sewing circle met three times a week and
talked so that father said he heard they had to pass around potash
tablets instead of refreshments for the sake of their sore throats.

Mammy Lou made fun of me when I told her how disappointed I was over
not getting to meet such a pretty lady and write her experiences.

"Looks like you'd a knew better than to expect a widow to waste time
a-cou'tin'," she told me with that proud look coming over her face
that always does when she begins to brag on herself. "_They_ don't
cou't; they marries! Thar ain't nobody able to dispute with _me_ over
the ways o' widows, for ain't I done been _six_ of them _myself_?"

This ain't exactly so, it's just five, for she never has got that
divorce from Bill Williams yet; and she says now that she's going to
spend the money that the divorce would cost in beautifying herself so
she can marry again. She says she wants to buy her a stylish set of
bangs and a pair of kid gloves to go with them, then she is going to
let the next man make her a present of the divorce for a bridal gift.

"And you needn't be settin' it down in that little dairy book o'
yourn, neither, for your gran'chillen to be makin' spo't o' _me_ about
after I'm done dead an' gone."

I told her it was diary, not dairy, but she wouldn't listen to me.

"Go 'long with that stuck-up talk," she told me, "ain't I been knowin'
about dairies all my life? An' I never even heered tell of a _di_-ry
till I learned to my sorrow of that pesky little book that's always
gettin' lost and me havin' to find it." And I couldn't blame her very
much for this, me being a great hand myself to get words mixed up in
my childhood, especially such words as epistle and apostle. I always
thought that ignorant people said "epistle" and smart ones "apostle."

But as I was saying, a sweetheart is the proper thing to get in the
spring if you _can_ get one; but if you're too little for such a thing
a kindred spirit is the next best thing a girl can have. A kindred
spirit is a girl you lay awake till twelve o'clock of a night telling
secrets to. Of course _men_ never tell secrets, but they often need a
kindred spirit, that is, a close friend, especially when they get so
sick they think they're about to die they want the friend to run quick
to their private office and burn up some letters in their desk that it
wouldn't be healthy for them to let their wife know about, even if
they were dead. So it is a convenient thing to have, male or female.

The first night I laid awake with mine I told her all about stuffing
my insteps to make them look aristocratic and kissing Lord Byron's
picture good night every night, which I _never_ would have done in
the daylight. At night things just seem to tell _themselves_, although
you are very sorry for it the next day. Men mostly propose at night; I
guess one excuse is that the girls form such beautiful optical
illusions under a pink lamp shade.

Well, I told her all I knew and she told me the story of her life,
which is as follows: Her name is Jean Everett, her mother's name is
Mrs. Everett and her young lady aunt is named Miss Merle Arnold on her
mother's side. They are down here to spend the summer and are boarding
close to our house. There is another boarder in the house for the
summer which is named Mr. St. John, and Jean says if they had named
him Angel instead of just Saint it wouldn't be any too good for him.
And, if I do say it myself, he is as beautiful as a mermaid. Mammy Lou
says he's got a "consumpted look," but to other people it is the
height of poetry.

Jean is so full of poetical thoughts herself that her stomach is very
much upset and nothing but chocolate candy will agree with her. She
has promised the next time she stays all night with me she will tell
me the one great secret of her life (as if I hadn't guessed it the
minute she called Mr. St. John's name.) She hasn't got much appetite
and the smell of honeysuckle fills her with strange longings. She says
she either wants to write a great book or live in a marble palace or
marry a duke, she can't tell exactly which. But the poor girl is
cruelly misunderstood by her family, because her mother is giving her
rhubarb to break it out on her.

Jean came over early this morning and said she just had to talk to
somebody about how spiritual Mr. St. John looked last night with his
fair hair and white vest on.

"He looked just like a _lily_, Ann," she said, with almost tears in
her eyes, and me remembering Doctor Gordon didn't laugh at her. Then,
before I could comfort her, she had dropped down by the iris bed and
was telling me the one great secret of her life, without waiting to
stay all night and tell it in the moonlight.

"_Love_ him," she said, gathering up a handful of the purple irises,
"love _him_? I'd _cook_ for that man."

I didn't hardly know what to say in answer to this secret, which
wasn't much of a secret to me; but she didn't wait for me to say
anything for she went on telling me what big pearl buttons the white
vest had on it and how Mr. St. John said "i-ther and ni-ther," and how
broken her heart was. She said she was the most sinful girl on earth,
for she believed Mr. St. John was about to get struck on her Aunt
Merle, and here she was winning him away from her!

I asked her if he had ever said anything about loving her and she said
why, no; no well-behaved girl would let a man say such a thing to her
until they had been acquainted at least a month, and they hadn't been
knowing each other but twenty-two days. I then asked her if he had
made any sign that he would like to say things to her when the month
was out, but she said that was just where the trouble came in. She
_knew_ she could win his love if she once got a _chance_ at him; but
no matter how early she got up of a morning to go and sit with him on
the porch before breakfast, which was a habit of his, he would just
ask her how far along she was in geography and if she didn't think
algebra was easier than arithmetic, and such insulting questions as
that. Then he would pace up and down the floor until her Aunt Merle
came out of the front door, acting like a _caged bridegroom_! She
said, oh, it would put her in her grave if she didn't get her mind off
of it for a little while! Then she asked me if we were going to have
strawberries for dinner and said she would run over and ask her mother
if she could stay.

This morning Jean asked me if I remembered what Hamlet in Shakespeare
said about _words_. I told her I had just got as far as _The Merchant
of Venice_ and was getting ready to start on Hamlet when Miss Wilburn
left. She said well, he remarked "words, words, words," but he didn't
know what he was talking about. She said he meant that there wasn't
anything in mere words, but he was badly fooled, for there was a heap
in them.

I told her yes, there was something in words, for I had read of a
beautiful Irish poet once that just couldn't think of a word that he
wanted to finish up a song with. He studied over it for about three
months, when all of a sudden one day his carriage upset and bumped his
head so hard that he thought of it.

Jean said that was a _beautiful_ story and she would be willing to
have her head bumped once for _every_ word, if she could just write
poetry that would touch one cold heart that she knew of.

I said well, how on earth did all this talk about words come up, and
she told me that all her future happiness depended upon the meaning
of just one word. Then she went on to tell me that this morning she
had seen her Aunt Merle on the porch talking to Mr. St. John; so she
slipped around to the end of the porch like I showed her how to do
when there was anything interesting going on; and she had heard him
tell Miss Merle that she mustn't "condemn the precipitation, but
rather consider how he _could_ do otherwise." Then he had made use of
a word that she never heard of before in her life. It was
_pro-pin-qui-ty_; and Miss Merle's face had turned as red as tomatoes
when he said it. She said if it was a love word she was ready to
commit suicide of a broken heart, but if it was a _hateful_ word and
they were quarreling, then there was great hopes for her. We looked it
up, but the dictionary man didn't explain it hardly a bit. Finally I
told Jean as it was spelled so much like _In-i-qui-ty_ maybe they
meant the same thing, and she went home feeling much easier in her
mind.

I'm in such a writable mood to-night that I don't know what to begin
on, and I reckon I'll know less about where to stop. Mammy Lou started
us at it, for her mind never runs on a thing except loving and
marrying. She asked me early this morning if we wasn't going to try
our fortunes to-day by looking down into a well at noon, this being
May Day. Me, being of an affectionate nature, of course liked the
idea, so I ran right over to tell Jean, who was simply carried away.
She said it would be such a relief to her to see the face of her
beloved reflected in the well; but I told her that to see _any_ face
would mean that she was going to get a husband, which a girl ought to
be thankful for, and not get her heart set on any particular one.
While we were planning about it Miss Merle came in and asked what it
was. When we told her she smiled and asked if she was too old and
grown-up to join in the game, but I told her no indeed, she didn't act
at all like a grown person. I really think Miss Merle is very
fascinating. Even her name, Merle, sounds soft and sweet to me, like
a right fresh marshmallow.

Now, naturally anybody would be excited to think that they were going
to see their husband's face at twelve o'clock in the bottom of a well,
and it seemed to us that the time never would come. There is a very
old well down in our pasture close by the fence which ain't covered
over, and a lot of lilac bushes right around it in bloom, so you
couldn't well pick a prettier spot for your future husband's face.

Mammy Lou said we better all wear white sunbonnets, because they
become you so, and Miss Merle looked awful pretty in hers, with her
dark, curly hair.

I don't know how the news that we were going to do such a thing ever
got spread, for we didn't tell hardly a soul--just mother and mammy
and Mrs. Everett and the lady they board with and her married
daughter, which all promised that they wouldn't ever tell, but
somebody else found out about it, as you shall see.

We collected at the pasture gate at exactly a quarter to twelve and
the minute the first whistle blew we raced to the well, for we were
all anxious to see our husband if he was there. They said for me to go
first as it was my well, but I said no, they must go first, because
they were company, but Miss Merle said for me to look first, then she
and Jean would look at the same time, as their husbands wouldn't mind
reflecting together, being that they were kin.

My heart was beating so that I was about to smother, but I pulled my
bonnet down low over my eyes to shut out any view except what was in
the well, like mammy told us to do, and leaned 'way over and looked.

Now, up to this time, my diary, whenever I have mentioned Sir Reginald
I was kinder half joking, and never really thought he would come to
pass, as so many things in this life don't; but now I believe it's
_so_. While I couldn't make out his face very well and don't know
whether his eyes are blue or brown, and his nose Roman or not, still
there was something glittering and shining in that well which I firmly
believe was meant to be Sir Reginald de Beverley and his _coat of
mail_!

They were punching me and saying, "Ann, do you see anything?" till I
couldn't tell whether he smiled at me or not; but I remembered my
manners even on such a critical occasion, so I got up and let them
look.

They commenced pulling down their bonnets like I did and leaned over
the well. I was on the other side, facing the lilac bushes--and in
less time than it takes me to write it, me being in a hurry and my
pencil short, there was something happening that made me feel like I
was in a fairy tale. I saw those lilac bushes move and the next thing
I knew there was Mr. St. John. Not in a white vest, it's true, but
looking beautiful enough, even in the daylight. He motioned to me not
either to speak or move, though I couldn't have done either one, being
almost paralyzed between seeing him and Sir Reginald at the same
time. He tipped up right easy and leaned over the well, opposite to
Miss Merle.

When Jean saw his image in the well she gave one overjoyed scream and
leaned farther over to see more.

"Oh, it's Mr. St. John," she called out to her Aunt Merle, her voice
sounding very deep and hollow, but joyful. "It's _Mr._ St. John!
_He's_ going to be my future husband!"

He and Miss Merle were about to kill themselves laughing, for Miss
Merle had seen him from the first; but when Jean looked up and saw him
he looked at her so sweet that you felt like you could forgive him
anything he was to do, even the "i-ther and ni-ther."

"I'd like to accommodate you, Jean," he said, laughing and catching
her hand with an affectionate look, although he is usually very timid
and dignified, "but the fact is--may I tell, Merle?" And the way _he_
said "Merle" sounded like a whole _box_ of marshmallows.

Miss Merle smiled at him and then he told Jean if she would every
_bit_ as soon have it that way, he would be her uncle instead of her
future husband.

I was so afraid that she would faint or die right there in the pasture
that I told them I heard mother calling me and ran as hard as I could
tear.

She came over this afternoon to tell me all about it and was feeling
strong enough to eat a small basket of wild goose plums.

"Oh, it was a terrible shock at first," she said, stopping long enough
to spit out a seed, "but the _minute_ he said _uncle_ my love changed.
Why, Ann, an uncle is an _old_ person, almost like a grandpa! Anyway,
they've promised that I shall be in the wedding, dressed in a pair of
beautiful white silk stockings."



CHAPTER X


It ain't any easy matter to keep a diary with a baby in the house,
especially if he's at the _watchable_ age, although he's such a
darling one that you don't begrudge him the trouble he makes. Before
you more than get a sentence set down you have to drop everything and
run and jerk the palm-leaf fan out of his hands, which he takes great
pleasure in ramming the handle of down his throat. Then he eats great
handsful of the Virginia Creeper leaves if you leave him on the porch
for a minute by himself. And at times he won't be satisfied with
anything on earth unless you turn up the mattress and let him beat on
the bed-springs, which I consider a smart idea and think Cousin Eunice
ought to write out and send to a magazine under the head of "Hints
for Tired Mothers." But I say it again, there don't any of us begrudge
him these many little ways, although it's hard to be literary with
them; for when he smiles and "pat-a-cakes" and says "Ah! ah!" you
don't care if you never write another line.

Mother made Cousin Eunice turn over the raising of him to her the very
day she got here, for everybody knows, my diary, how a lady that's
ever raised a baby feels toward a lady that's just owned one a few
months.

"No _flannel_ on this precious child!" mother almost screamed the
minute we got him off the train and started to drive home. "Why, it's
positively flying in the face of Providence to leave his band off this
early!" And mother looked at Cousin Eunice like she had done it
a-purpose.

"Oh, Aunt Mary, please don't," poor Cousin Eunice said like she was
about to cry. "For the last eleven months there has been scarcely a
thing discussed in my presence but _belly-bands_!" (There weren't any
men around.) "It seems if a woman ever has one baby her thoughts never
travel away from flannel bands afterward!"

"But pneumonia! Cholera infantum! Teething!" Mother kept on, hugging
Waterloo close.

"That's what _twenty-three_ of my neighbors tell me," Cousin Eunice
answered, "then nineteen others say it's cruel to keep him all swathed
up in this hot weather, while eleven said to leave it off until his
second summer, and fifteen said for me to----"

"What does Doctor Gordon say?" mother asked, to change the subject off
of the neighbors.

"He said, '_Damn those old women!_'" Cousin Eunice told her, which
made her jump, although it looks like she has lived with father long
enough not to.

Right after dinner they started up the talk again. Should Waterloo be
banded or disbanded? They hadn't talked long when Mammy Lou came into
the room holding something under her apron. She looked kinder mad and
dignified at mother and Cousin Eunice because they hadn't asked her
for _her_ say-so about bands.

"If it's entirely respectable for me to speak before I'm spoke to,"
she commenced, her voice very proud and haughty, "I'd like for you all
to pay _me_ some mind. There's _two_ subject's I'm well qualified to
speak about and one is babies. Ain't I done raised a bushel basket
full o' little niggers, let alone that one beautiful little white
angel that's the peartest and sweetest of any in the state?"

Which made me feel very much embarrassed with modestness.

"We all know that you made a good job of Ann," Cousin Eunice said very
pleasantly just to pacify her. "What would you suggest about little
Rufus?"

"_These!_" Mammy Lou said, drawing her hand out from her apron like a
man on the stage dressed in velvet does his sword and we saw a string
of speckled beans.

"Job's Tears," mammy told the company. "Ther ain't no need to worry
about bands when you've got _these_! Ther nuvver has been a child that
cut teeth hard from Adam on down if his ma put a string of these
aroun' his neck----"

Cousin Eunice was beginning to say something nice when father spoke up
and asked mammy who it was that put them around Adam's neck, which
made her mad.

"Poke all the fun you want to," she said, "but the time _will_ come
that you-all 'ull be thankful to me for savin' these for Mr. Rufe's
baby, or I'm a blue-gum nigger!"

Lots of times I take Waterloo over to make Jean a visit, which is easy
on everybody, for the folks over there love babies so that they
relieve me of his weight the minute I get there and leave me and Jean
free to do whatever we want to. She is teaching me what she calls
"artistic handwriting" now, using an actress' signature for a copy. It
consists of some very large letters and some very small ones, like the
charts in an eye-doctor's office that he uses to see if you're old
enough to wear spectacles.

Cousin Eunice has time now with so many folks to help tend to Waterloo
to slip off every morning and go to a quiet place down in the yard
with her paper and pencil and compose on a book she's trying to write.
Before she was ever married she wanted to write a book, and if you
once get _that_ idea into your head even marrying won't knock it out.

Cousin Eunice says I'm such a kindred spirit that I don't bother her
when I go along too, but she has a dreadful time at her own house
trying to write. She don't more than get her soul full of beautiful
thoughts about tall, pale men and long-stemmed roses and other things
like that before a neighbor drops in and talks for three hours about
the lady around the corner's husband staying out so late at night and
what her servants use to scrub the kitchen sink. I told her I knew one
lady that hated so for folks to drop in that she unscrewed the front
doorbell, so she couldn't hear them ring, but she got paid back for it
next day by missing the visit of a rich relation.


Rufe and Cousin Eunice may live to be thankful for the string of Job's
Tears, but I reckon to-night Miss Merle and Mr. St. John wish that Job
never shed a tear in the shape of a bean, for they were what a grown
person would call "the indirect cause" of a quarrel between them. It's
queer that such a little thing as Waterloo should be picked out by
Fate to break up a loving couple, but he did; although I ain't saying
that it was _altogether_ his fault.

This afternoon I took him over to Jean's and we were having a lovely
time out on their front porch, enjoying stories of her former
sweethearts and a bottle of stuffed olives. She told me about one she
had last winter that she was deeply attached to. She would see him at
a big library in the city where she loves to read every afternoon. She
saw him there one time and got to admiring him so much that she would
go up there every afternoon at the time she knew he would be there and
get a book and sit opposite him, making like she was reading, but
really feasting her eyes on his lovely hair and scholarly looking
finger-nails.

"I never got acquainted with him, so never learned his name," she told
me, jabbing her hat-pin deep down into the olive bottle, like little
Jack Horner, "but he was always reading about 'The Origin of the Aryan
Family,' so I'm sure he was a young Mr. Aryan."

I told her I certainly had heard the Aryan family spoken of, I
couldn't remember where, but she said oh, yes, she knew it was a swell
family and that I must have read about it in the pink sheet of the
Sunday paper.

Then she said she had a souvenir of him, and, as I'm crazy about
souvenirs, I begged her to go and get it, hoping very much that it was
a miniature on ivory set in diamonds.

"What is it?" I kept asking her, as she was trying to get her legs
untangled out of her petticoats to get up and go after it; we were
sitting flat down on the floor, which sometimes tangles your heels
dreadfully. Finally she got up, tearing a piece of trimming out, which
she did up in a little ball and threw away, so her mother would lay it
on the washerwoman when she saw the tear.

"_Ashes_;" she told me, kinder whispery, after she had reached the
front door, for she was afraid somebody would hear; but it gave me a
terrible feeling and I wondered how she got them away from his
relations and whether she had to go to the graveyard in the middle of
the night to do it or not. I comforted myself with the thought that
they would be in a prettily ornamented urn, even if they were ashes,
for I had read about urns in Roman history; but shucks! when she got
back it wasn't a thing but a pink chewing-gum wrapper full of cigar
ashes that he had thrown away one day right in front of her as they
were going up the steps to the library.

Before I had time to tell her how disappointed I was there came a
picture-taking man up the front walk and asked us to let him take
Waterloo's picture for some post-cards. If you were pleased you could
buy them and if you weren't you didn't have to. But he knew of course
there wouldn't any lady be hardhearted enough not to buy a picture of
her own baby.

Nothing could have delighted us more, unless the man had said take
_our_ pictures; and Jean remarked that Waterloo ought to be fixed up
funny to correspond with the string of beads around his neck. She ran
and got a pair of overalls that belonged to the lady she boards with's
little boy and we stuffed Waterloo in. He looked too cute for anything
and we was just settling him down good for the picture when Jean
spoke up again and said oh, wasn't it a pity that he didn't have any
hair on his head, as hair showed up so well in a picture. I told her
it was aristocratic not to have hair when you're a baby, on your head.
She said shucks! how could anything connected with a baby be
aristocratic? This made me mad and I told her maybe she didn't know
what it was to be aristocratic. She said she did, too; it was
aristocratic to have a wide front porch to your house and to eat
sweetbreads when you were dining in a hotel. I was thinking up
something else to say when the picture-taking man said hurry up. There
is a great deal more to this, but it is so late that I'm going to
leave the rest for to-morrow night. Anyhow maybe my grandchildren will
be more interested to go on and read, for magazine writers always chop
their stories off at the most particular spot, when they are going to
be continued, just where you are holding your breath, so as to make
you buy the next number of the magazine.


Well, in just a minute after we were talking about the hair Jean said
she knew the _very_ thing! Her Aunt Merle was up on the far back porch
drying her hair that she had just finished washing, and had left her
rat lying on her bureau. She had seen it there when she went to get
the ashes of Mr. Aryan. She said it was a lovely rat, which cost five
dollars, all covered with long brown hair; and she said it was just
the thing to set off Waterloo's bald head fine. So she ran and got it
and we fixed it on. He looked exactly like a South Sea Islander which
you see in the side show of an exposition by paying twenty-five cents
extra. (An exposition is a large place which makes your feet nearly
kill you.) But the picture-man said he looked mighty cute and snapped
him in several splendid positions.

Now, if Mr. St. John had just stayed where he belonged this would be
the end of the story and I could go on to bed to-night, without having
to sit up by myself writing till the clocks strike eleven, which is a
lonesome hour when everybody else is in bed.

But Mr. St. John didn't stay away; and, as all the bad things that
happen are laid on Fate, I reckon she was the one that put it into his
head to walk up those front steps and on to that porch before we
noticed him, for we were trying our best to get Waterloo back into
citizen's clothes.

He stopped to see what it was we were scrambling over, and when he saw
that it was alive he threw up his nice white hands and remarked
"Heavens!" which is the elegant thing to say when you're surprised,
although father always says, "Jumping Jerusalem!"

"What is the thing?" he asked, after he had looked again. Jean told
him why it was just the lady over at our house's little baby dressed
up. Then he asked what that horrible woolly growth on his head was,
which tickled Jean mightily. Then, just for the fun of seeing what he
_would_ say when he was very much surprised, she jerked it off and
held it up, like the executioner did Mary, Queen of Scot's head, which
gives me a crinkly pain up and down my back even to read about. The
rat was just pinned together and set up on Waterloo's little noggin,
so Jean jerked it off and explained to Mr. St. John that it was her
Aunt Merle's rat. _I_ always knew it wasn't any good idea to talk
about such things before a man that was a person's lover; but I
thought Jean had had more experience in such things than I had and it
wasn't my place to interrupt her.

I am sure Mr. St. John felt like saying "Jumping Jerusalem" when Jean
told him that the woolly growth was the rat of his beloved. If I was
writing a novel I'd say that he "recoiled with horror," that is, he
jumped back quickly, like he didn't want it to bite him, and sat
down.

"_Imagine!_" he kept saying to himself like he was dazed; "imagine a
man _touching_ the thing! _Kissing_ the thing!"

I thought, of course, he was talking about Waterloo, and was ready to
speak up and say, "I thank you, Mr. St. John, my little cousin is not
to be called a '_thing_,'" but Jean spoke first.

"What would you want to kiss _this_ for?" she asked him. "'Tain't any
harm to kiss in the _mouth_ after you're engaged, is it?"

We might have been standing there asking him such questions as that
till daylight this morning for all the answers we got out of him, but
while he sat looking at us and we were trying to squirm Waterloo's
little fat legs out of the overalls and him kicking and crying, Miss
Merle walked out on the porch. She saw Mr. St. John first, as you
would naturally expect an engaged girl to do, and started toward him,
but just then she saw us and stopped.

"Why, what on earth are you children doing with my rat down here?"
she asked, not looking a bit ashamed.

We told her what we had been doing with it and she just laughed and
said well, it was too hot to wear the thing on such a day anyway,
although she had looked for it high and low.

All the time we were talking Mr. St. John looked at her in the most
amazed way, like he expected to see her appear looking like a Mexican
dog, but was greatly surprised to see her with such a nice lot of
home-made hair. If he had had any sense he would admire her all the
more for not telling a story about that rat; for I've seen a thousand
young ladies in my life that wouldn't have owned up to it for a
hundred dollars, but would have made their little niece out a story
and then boxed her ears in private. I hope when I get grown I won't be
a _liarable_ young lady, although it does seem like they're twice as
quick to get married as an honest one.

He didn't act with good sense, though, for they soon got to talking
and we could hear what they said (although we were out of sight) for
they were high-toned remarks.

He said he _hated_ shams, and she said well, that wasn't any sham for
every blowsy-headed girl wears them nowadays and everybody knows it,
even the poets and novel-writers that always make their heroines so
fuzzy-headed. Then she called him a prig and he said something back at
her and she gave him back the ring, which was a brave thing to do, it
being a grand diamond one with Mizpath marked in it.


Of course the next thing that happens after an engagement is broken is
for it to get mended again. All day we have hung around Miss Merle to
see just when she gets the ring back again, but up to a late hour
to-night, as the newspapers say about the election returns, there was
nothing doing. Oh, it does seem a pity that they would let the news go
down to their children or be put on their tombstones that their lives
were blighted on account of a rat!

I've neglected you, my diary, for the last few days because my mind
has been on other things. It rained all the next day after I wrote
last and I couldn't go over to Jean's, which put me out greatly. I
finally thought about sending a note by Lares and Penates and paid
them in chicken livers, me being so uneasy in my mind that I didn't
have any appetite for them, and knowing that they loved them enough to
fight over them any time.

I told Jean in the note to fix some kind of signal like Paul Revere to
let me know the minute the ring got back to Miss Merle, for I was
deeply worried, me and Waterloo and Jean being to blame for it. Then,
too, it is dangerous for an engagement ring to stay returned too long
for it might get given to another girl.

Jean was delighted with my note and said she would certainly hang a
lantern in the garret only she never could undo the chimney of a
lantern to light it, and never saw a lady person that could; but it
was a romantic idea. So she thought hanging a white towel in the
window that faces our house for a signal would do very well, and I
could know by that if it kept on raining and I couldn't get over
there.

Well, I was so interested that I hardly moved from that side of the
house all day, until it got so dark that I couldn't see the house,
much less a towel. So I went sorrowfully to bed. The next morning I
was delighted to see that I was going to get rewarded for my watching,
for _long_ before breakfast I discovered a white thing, and it was
waving from Mr. St. John's window, which made it all the surer in my
mind.

Although it was cakes and maple syrup I didn't waste much time over
breakfast, but grabbed my hat and started for Jean's.

Miss Merle was on the front porch and I noticed Mr. St. John just
inside the hall, looking like he would like to come out, but was
waiting for her to give him lief. She looked up at me quick.

"Why, Ann," she said, "what are you in such a big hurry about?"

I've often noticed, my diary, that when people are in a hurry and
can't think of anything else to tell they tell the _truth_, although
they don't intend to. It was that way with me.

"Oh, I'm _so_ glad you and Mr. St. John have made up!" I told her,
fanning hard with my hat, for I was all out of breath.

She looked very strange and asked me, "What?" and so I told her over
again. Just then Mr. St. John came out and asked who was that talking
about him behind his back. He looked pitiful, although he tried to
look pleasant, too.

Jean heard me talking and came running down the stairs just in time to
hear me telling it over again to Miss Merle.

"Why, there ain't a _sign_ of a towel hanging out the window," she
told me, looking very much surprised and me greatly mortified. "You
must have dreamed it!"

Miss Merle asked her then what she was talking about and it was their
turn to look surprised when she told them.

I told them I had felt awfully bad about the rat, because me and
Waterloo was partly responsible, and they kinder smiled. But I
couldn't let them think that I had _made_ up the towel story, so I
told them if they would come around on the side that faces our house
I'd show them. Mr. St. John and Miss Merle looked at each other very
peculiar and he said:

"It's a shame to disappoint the children!" which she didn't make any
answer to, but she looked _tolerable_ agreeable. Then I begged them to
come on around to Mr. St. John's window and I could show them I wasn't
any story.

"My window!" he said, looking surprised; then his face turned red.
"Why, it must have been my er--_shirt_ I hung there last night to dry
after I was out in that shower!"

We couldn't help from laughing, all of us; but he laughs like the
corners of his mouth ain't used to it. That is one bad thing about a
dignified man--they're always afraid to let their mouth muscles
stretch.

Miss Merle caught me and Jean by the hand with a smile and said let's
go and see what that signal looked like that brought Ann over in such
a hurry. "A shirt is a highly proper thing to discuss--since Thomas
Hood," she said as we started down the steps.

"Pray don't," he said, the corners of his mouth wrinkling again, but
his face just covered with red. "I'll be the happiest man on earth,
Merle, if you'll just forgive me for my asininity; but--_do_ come
back!---- For it's an _undershirt_!"



CHAPTER XI


"Come on in, the egg-nog's fine," Rufe called out to us as we came up
the walk to the side gate this morning, a beautiful Christmas morning,
after a long tramp down through the wood lot and up the ravine.

"Come on out, the ozone's finer," Cousin Eunice sang back at him; then
stopped still, leaned against the gate-post and looked up at the
mistletoe hanging in the trees all about.

"You can get ozone three hundred and sixty-five days in the year,
egg-nog but one!" he hollered again, but I saw him set his glass down
and start to swing Waterloo up on his shoulder. No matter how long
they have been married you can always find Rufe wanting to be where
Cousin Eunice is, and vice versa.

Long ago anybody reading in my diary would have seen that mother is
the kind of woman who loves to mother anything that needs it, from a
little chicken with the gapes to a college professor out in a storm
without his rubbers; and the latest notion she has taken up is to see
that Miss Martha Claxton, one of the teachers in a girls' school that
has been opened up near here, shall not get homesick during the
week-ends. We all like her, Mammy Lou even saving the top of the
churning every Friday to make cottage cheese for her; and Cousin
Eunice said she knew she was a kindred spirit as soon as she said she
could eat a bottle of olives at one sitting and _loved_ Baby Stuart's
picture. So we invited her to go walking with us this morning and
Cousin Eunice told her all about her courting in the ravine.

_I_ also knew about her _peculiarity_, which Cousin Eunice didn't; but
I didn't like to mention it, for Miss Claxton had smashed her
eye-glasses all to pieces yesterday and was wearing an embroidered
waist and a string of coral, so instead of looking intellectual, as
she usually does, she looked just like other girls. But the men of our
family all laugh at her behind her back and call her "The Knocker,"
because she carries a hammer with her on all her rambles instead of a
poetry book, and knocks the very jiblets out of little rocks to see if
they've got any fossils on their insides. In other words, she is a
geologist. A person ought not to blame her though until she has had
time to explain to them that her father was professor of it and had a
chair in a college when she was born. So he taught her all about rocky
subjects when she was little, and she's crazy about it. Still, I would
rather be with a person that is crazy about geology than one that
isn't crazy at all. I hate _medium_ people. But, as I have said, we
are all very fond of her, although she has never done anything since
I've known her that would be worth writing about in this book, not
having any lover; so it has been lying on the shelf all covered with
dust ever since Jean left. Sometimes I think I'll never find another
Jean!

To get back to my subject, though, this morning _was_ lovely--cool
enough to keep your hair in curl (if you were a grown lady) and warm
enough to make your cheeks pink. Cousin Eunice said she _couldn't_ go
back into the house while the sunshine was so golden, so we leaned our
elbows on the fence and Miss Claxton examined a handful of pebbles she
had picked up on our walk. Pretty soon Rufe came out with Waterloo on
his shoulder and in his hands a horse that can walk on wheels and a
mule that can wag his head, ears, legs and tail and say, "queek,
queek," all at the same time.

"Oh, Rufe, isn't it lovely?" Cousin Eunice said, looking away toward
the hills and sighing that half-sad sigh that rises in you when you
see something beautiful and can't eat it nor drink it nor _squeeze_
it.

"Isn't what lovely, your complexion?" he answered, just to tease her,
for Rufe loves the outdoors as much as any of us, and if Waterloo
takes after his mother and father both, he will never sleep in
anything more civilized than a wigwam.

"Don't joke," she said. "It's too beautiful--and too fleeting! Just
think, in another week we'll be back, dwelling with the rest of the
fools amid the tall buildings!"

"It is everything you say," he answered soberly, looking in the
direction she pointed, and he seemed to have that happy, hurting
feeling that comes to you when you look at Lord Byron's picture, or
smell lilies-of-the-valley.

"Don't you feel light on a morning like this?" Cousin Eunice said
again, still looking at the hills. "Couldn't you do anything?"

"Anything!" he echoed. "Even push my paper to the hundred thousand
mark--or carry a message to Garcia."

"Especially the message to Garcia! Now _couldn't_ you?" she said with
a bright smile. "I could do that myself, without even mussing up my
white linen blouse!"

Miss Claxton looked up at them with a puzzled look, and Rufe and
Cousin Eunice unhitched hands.

"Miss Claxton," Rufe began with a half-teasing twinkle in his eyes (I
had heard father telling him a while ago about Miss Claxton being a
knocker), "this little affair about the message to Garcia happened a
bit this side of the Eocene age, so maybe you haven't bothered your
head about it. I might explain that----"

"Nobody asked you to, sir," she said, with such a rainbow of a smile
at him that I was surprised. If she could smile like that at a married
man what would she do at a single one? "I know a lot more things than
I look to--with my glasses on! That carrying the message to Garcia was
a brave thing to do, even aside from the risks. It is heroic to do the
thing at hand. I'm trying to learn that lesson myself. I'm being a
schoolmarm and wearing glasses to look like one, instead of following
my natural bent in the scientific field," she wound up, still smiling.

"What's your ambition?" Cousin Eunice said, looking at her
wonderingly.

"Knowing what's to be known about Primitive Man," Miss Claxton
answered. "He's the only man I ever cared a copper cent about!"

"Mine's writing a book that will make me famous overnight, I don't
want to wait to awake some morning and find myself so," Cousin Eunice
said, stooping over to set Waterloo's horse up on his wheels, for he
would come unfixed every time Waterloo would yank him over a gravel;
and all the time we were talking he kept up a chorus of "Fick horte!
Fick horte!"

Rufe said his ambition was never to see an editor's paste-pot again,
and he was turning to me to ask what mine is when the conversation was
interrupted. I was glad that it was, for I should hate to tell them
just what mine is. Somehow it is mostly about Sir Reginald de
Beverley, and I'm old enough now to know that he may not be an English
lord after all and dress in a coat of mail. He may be just a plain
young doctor or lawyer, and we'll have to live in a cottage (only
excuse me from a flat, I wouldn't live in a flat with Lord Byron) and
maybe we'll just have chicken on Sunday. But as long as he has brown
eyes and broad shoulders and lovely teeth I shall manage to do with
crackers and peanut butter through the week. A woman will do
_anything_ for the man she loves.

But I didn't have to tell them all this, for just then we heard the
gate click and saw our friend, Mr. Gayle, coming up the walk.

"There comes old Zephyr," Rufe said with a laugh. "It was the biggest
lie on earth to name him Gayle. Even Breeze would have been an
exaggeration."

"He's awfully smart," I told Rufe, for I hate to have my friends
laughed at. "I know you and Julius joke about him on account of his
gentle ways and broad-brimmed hats! Father says it's better to have
something _under_ your hat than to have so much style in its looks!"

"Well, he has something under his hat," Cousin Eunice said, "and hat
enough to cover twice as much. But I think those old-timey things are
becoming to him!"

"What is the subject about which he knows so much?" Miss Claxton
asked, following him with her eyes until Dilsey let him in at the
front door.

"Heaven," Rufe answered her, "and hell. He writes deep psychological
stuff for the magazines and they pay him ten cents a word for it. He
must spend his dimes building model tenements, for he certainly
doesn't buy new hats with them."

"What does he say about Heaven and the other place?" Miss Claxton
asked, much to our surprise, for we had thought she didn't care about
anything but earth.

"He says they're both in your own heart. The Heaven side comes up
when you've done a decent job at your work--and loved your office boy
as your own nephew!"

"And----" Miss Claxton kept on.

"And the hell part comes into the limelight when you've done anything
mean, such as----"

"Spanking your Waterloo when the telephone bell makes you
nervous--_not_ when he's bad," Cousin Eunice said, gathering Waterloo
up in her arms and loving him. "Him's a precious angel, and mudder's a
nasty lady to him lots of times."

"Aunt Mary is sending him out here to find us," Rufe said, as we saw
Mr. Gayle coming out of the dining-room door. "I hope she's filled him
so full of egg-nog that we can have some fun out of him!"

He had on a Sunday-looking suit of black clothes and a soft black tie
in honor of the day, and was really nice-looking as he came up toward
us. And Miss Claxton threw away the last one of her pebbles, no matter
what they had on their insides, and commenced wiping her hands
vigorously with her handkerchief.

"Thank goodness!" I thought as I watched her. "I shall go straight
up-stairs and wipe the dust off my diary with my petticoat!"

I reckon Rufe and Cousin Eunice both thought that Mr. Gayle and Miss
Claxton had met before, for they didn't offer to introduce them, but I
knew they hadn't, so I was the one that had to do it. I had forgotten
how _The Ladies' Own Journal_ said it ought to be done, and I was
kinder scared anyway; and when I get scared I always make an idiot of
myself. So I just grabbed her right hand and his right hand and put
them together and said, "Mr. Gayle, do shake hands with Miss Claxton!"

Well, they shook hands, but the others all laughed at me. Cousin
Eunice said she was sorry she didn't know they hadn't met before, or
she would have introduced them. But Mr. Gayle smiled at me to keep me
from feeling bad.

"Never mind," he said, "I'm sure Ann's introduction is as good as
anybody's. What she lacks in form she more than makes up for in
sincerity."

I thought it was nice of him to say that, but I was so embarrassed
that I got away from them as soon as I could. I went out to the
kitchen to see if Mammy Lou was ready to stuff the turkey. Lares and
Penates were on the floor playing with two little automobiles that
Julius had brought them. Mammy Lou was fixing to cut up the liver in
the gravy.

"Please don't," I began to beg her, "I'll go halves with Lares and
Penates if you'll give it to me!"

"You don't deserve nothin'," she said, trying to look at me and not
laugh. "I seen you out thar by the side gate, aggin' 'em on! Reckon
you're in your glory, now that you've got a pair of 'em to spy on and
write it all out in that pesky little book!"

"Oh, they ain't a pair!" I told her, slicing up the liver into three
equal halves.

"They soon will be if they listen to you!"

"Never in this world! She says she never has cared for anybody but a
person she calls 'Primitive Man!'"

"Dar now! I bet he fooled her!" she said with great pleasure, for next
to a funeral she likes a fooling, and she is always excited when she
forgets and says "Dar now." "If he has," she kept on, "she'd better do
the nex' best thing and marry Mr. Gayle. He's got as good raisin' as
ary man I ever seen, although he's a little pore. But they's _some_
things I don't like about fat husban's--they can't scratch they own
back!"

I was glad to keep her mind on marrying, for I thought I'd get a
chance at the gizzard too, but she watched it like she watches her
trunk-key when her son-in-law's around. I told her to go to the window
and see what they were doing now, and she did it, poor old soul! When
she came back the gizzard was gone, but she was so tickled that she
didn't notice it.

"They've done paired off and gone down by the big tree to knock
mistletoe out'n the top," she told me, her face shining with grease
and happiness. "I knowed 'twould be a match! Needn't nuvver tell no
nigger of my experience that folks is too smart to fall in love!
Ever'body's got a little _grain_ o' sense, no matter how deep it's
covered with book-learnin'."

"Oh, they don't have to be smart at all," I told her, talking very
fast to divert her mind from the gravy. "Father says if the back of a
girl's neck is pretty she can get married if she hasn't sense enough
to count the coppers in the contribution box."

"An' he tol' the truth," she said, stopping still with her hands on
her hips like she was fixing for a long sermon. "An' furthermore, if
she's rich she don't need to have neither. But marryin' for riches is
like puttin' up preserves--it looks to be a heap bigger pile
beforehan' than afterwards. An' many a man marries a rich girl
expectin' a automobile when he don't git nothin' but a baby buggy!"


Mr. Gayle has been coming over so early every morning since that first
morning that he met Miss Claxton, and staying so late that I haven't
had much time to write. I've been too busy watching. I've often heard
Doctor Gordon say that diseases have a "period of incubation," but I
believe that love is one disease that doesn't incubate. It just comes,
like light does when you switch on the electricity. This morning Mr.
Gayle came so early that Rufe went into the sitting-room and began to
poke fun at him, as usual.

"Hello, old man," he said, shaking hands with him. "I'm surely glad to
see that it's _you_. Thought of course when the door-bell rang so soon
after breakfast that it was an enlarged picture agent!"

"No, I'm far from being an enlarged anything," the poor man said,
wiping off the perspiration from his forehead, for he must have
walked very fast. "In fact, I'm feeling rather 'ensmalled,' as our
friend, Ann, might say. I have never before so realized my utter
unworthiness!"

"Bosh," Rufe said, slapping him on the shoulder in a friendly way.
"Why, man, you're on to your job as well as anybody I ever saw. Why,
your last article in _The Journal for the Cognoscenti_ made me give up
every idea of the old-fashioned Heaven I'd hoped for--a place where a
gas bill is never presented, and alarm clocks and society editors
enter not!"

"Mr. Clayborne would have been worth his weight in platinum as court
jester to some melancholy monarch in the middle ages," Miss Claxton
said, looking up from her crochet work which mother is teaching her
and Cousin Eunice to do, because it has come back into style, to smile
at Mr. Gayle.

"I'm not what Ann calls 'smart'!" he said in answer to her, "but I
remember enough history to know that the other name for jester is
fool. I shan't stay where people call me such names!" So he got up and
went out, which gave Cousin Eunice and Waterloo and me an excuse to go
too. So we left the lovers alone.

"Well, he's what I call a damn fool," Rufe said in a whisper as soon
as the door was closed so they couldn't hear. "Coming over here every
few minutes in the day, 'totin' a long face,' as mammy says, and
hasn't got the nerve to say boo to a goose!"

"Saying boo to a goose wouldn't help his suit any," Cousin Eunice
said; "besides, well-regulated young people don't get engaged in three
days!"

"What ill-regulated young people you and I must have been!" Rufe said,
then dodged Waterloo's ball which she threw at him, saying what a
_story_! It was nearly two weeks before they got engaged.

"I advocate getting engaged in two hours when people are as much in
love as those two we've just left. Gayle hasn't red blood enough in
him to stain a _chigoe's undershirt_!"


Hasn't anything happened worth writing about until to-day, but it has
been happening so thick ever since morning that my backbone is fairly
aching with thrills. And I'm _tired_! Oh, mercy! But I'm going to stay
awake to-night until I get it all written out even if I have to souse
my head in cold water, or rouse up Waterloo.

Right after breakfast this morning Mr. Gayle happened to see Cousin
Eunice go into the parlor by herself to crochet some extra hard
stitches, and so he went in after her and said he would like to have a
little talk with her if she didn't mind. Dilsey had left the window up
when she finished dusting, which I was very glad to see, for I was in
my old place on the porch. He told her he supposed he was the
confoundedest ass on earth, but she said oh no, she was sure he wasn't
so bad as that! Then he plunged right into the subject and said he
was madly in love and didn't know how to tell it. Would she please
help him out?

"Oh, don't mind that," she answered kindly. "All earnest lovers are
awkward. The Byronic ones are liars!"

He said he knew she would understand and help him with her valued
advice!---- But, just _what_ was he to say? And _when_ was he to say
it?

She told him she thought it would be a psychological moment to-night,
the last night of the year, and they would all be going their
different ways on the morrow. It would be very romantic to propose
then, say on the stroke of twelve, or just whenever he could get
himself keyed up to it. He said oh, she was the kindest woman in the
world. She had taken such a load off his heart! He thought it would be
a fine idea to propose just on the stroke of midnight--somehow he
imagined the clock striking would give him courage! Oh, he felt so
much better for having told somebody!

I felt that it would be a weight off my heart if I could tell somebody
too, and just then I spied Rufe holding Waterloo up to see the turkeys
down by the big chicken coop. I didn't waste a second.

"Oh, Rufe, you'll be surprised!" I said, all out of breath, and he
turned around and looked thrilled. "Mr. Gayle is _red-bloodier_ than
you think!" Then I told him all about it. "Now aren't you sorry you
called him a d---- fool?" I wasn't really minding about the cuss word,
for Rufe isn't the kind of a man that says things when he's mad. He's
as apt to say 'damn' when he's eating ice-cream as at any other time.

Rufe was delighted to hear that it was going to happen while they were
still here to see it; and we went right back to the house and planned
to sit up with Cousin Eunice and see them after they came out of the
parlor on the glad New Year. Julius and Marcella were coming over to
sit up with us anyhow to watch it in, so it wouldn't be hard to do.

Well, mother put enough fruit cake and what goes with it out on the
dining-table to keep us busy as long as we could eat, but along toward
ten o'clock we got _so_ sleepy (being just married people and me) that
Julius said let's run the clock up two hours. Marcella said no, that
would cause too much striking at the same time, but she said if
_something_ didn't happen to hurry them up and put us out of our
misery we would all be under the table in another five minutes. We
were all so sleepy that everything we said sounded silly, so when a
bright idea struck me it took some time to get it into their heads.

"Rufe's typewriter!" I said, jumping up and down in my joy, so it
waked them up some just to look at me. "The bell on it can go exactly
like a clock if you slide the top thing backwards and forwards right
fast. I've done it a million times to amuse Waterloo!"

They said they knew I'd make a mess of it if I tried such a thing, but
I told them if they took that view of what a person could do they
never would be encouraged to try to do things. I knew I _could_ do it!
Marcella said then for Rufe to place the typewriter close up to the
parlor door, and they would all go out on the front porch to keep the
lovers from hearing them laugh. So out they all filed.

Well, it was an exciting moment of my life when I was sliding that
thing backwards and forwards and thinking all sorts of heroic
thoughts, but I gritted my teeth and didn't look up until I had got
the twelve strokes struck. Then I went out on the front porch right
easy and sat down by the others. Julius tucked his big coat around me
and we all sat there a little while, laughing and shivering and
shaking until I felt that I'd never had such a good time in my life!
Then somebody whispered let's go in--and _then_ the unexpected
happened.

We heard a sound in the parlor close back of us and the _first_ thing
we knew there was Mr. Gayle raising the window that opens on to the
porch, and he and Miss Claxton came over and looked out into the
night. They couldn't see us if we sat still, close up against the
wall; and it seemed that none of us could budge to save our lives!

It was a lovely moonlight night, clear and cold, that always reminds
me of the night Washington Irving reached Bracebridge Hall (I just
love it), and so he put his arm around her, Mr. Gayle I mean, not
Washington Irving, and his voice was so clear and firm and happy that
we all knew he had been accepted.

"Bid good morrow to the New Year, my love," he said and kissed her on
the lips a long, _long_ time. "There has been created for me this
night not only a new year, but a new _Heaven_ and----"

"And a new _earth_," she finished up softly, and they closed the
window down.

"I hope she won't take her little hammer and knock on her new earth to
see if it has petrified wiggle tails in it," Rufe said, after we had
filed back into the house and moved the typewriter away from the
door. But his voice was solemn when he said it, and we all felt like
_puppy dogs_ for being out there. And nobody said another word about
staying up to see how they looked when they came out of the parlor.

The next day everybody made like they were very much surprised at the
way it had turned out except Mammy Lou. She looked as happy when Miss
Claxton told us the news as if she had got herself engaged again.

"You were right after all, mammy," Cousin Eunice told her. "In spite
of all Miss Claxton's scientific knowledge she has preferred a _man_
to a career!"

"An' shows her good sense, too," mammy answered, her old brown face
running over with smiles, like molasses in the sunshine. "A man's a
man, I can tell you; and a career's _a mighty pore thing to warm your
feet against_ on a cold night!"



CHAPTER XII


April is here! Jean and April together! No wonder I haven't any sense!
"And the rain it raineth every day," but for just a little while at a
time, and the mud smells so good afterward that you don't care. The
warm air comes blowing through my window so early every morning and
puts such sad, happy thoughts into my head that I have to get up and
wake Jean. Then we dress and go out into the side yard, where I try to
find a calecanthus in bloom that is really sweet enough to go in front
of Lord Byron's picture. And I try to make Jean listen while I tell
her all my sad, happy thoughts, that's what I invited her down here
for, but she hardly ever listens.

"Isn't everything lovely?" I asked her this morning, after we had
tiptoed through the house and out to the side porch. "And doesn't
April just remind you of a right young girl, about seventeen years
old, with hair made out of sunshine, and cheeks made of
peach-blossoms; and eyes made out of that patch of blue sky over Mrs.
West's big barn?"

That patch of sky over Mrs. West's barn takes up a heap of my time on
summer afternoons when I lie close to the windows and read. It is so
deep and far-off looking that I get to dreaming about Italy, and I
call it the place where "Tasso's spirit soars and sings." I learned
this long ago out of the Fifth Reader, and I don't know what else
Tasso did besides soaring and singing.

But Jean wasn't listening to me. She had reached out and gathered a
bunch of snowballs and was shaking the night before's rain off them.

"Oh, Ann," she said, "don't they remind you of willow plumes? And
don't you wish we were old enough to wear _them_ on our hats instead
of sissy bows? You can get engaged in a minute if you have a willow
plume on your hat!"

This seemed to remind her of something, for she spoke again the next
minute.

"Say, I've never told you about Cassius, have I?"

I told her no, although I knew a little about him myself, even if he
wasn't in that easy Shakespeare that Lamb wrote for kids. And she
seemed to be lost in thought, so I got lost too. It never is hard for
me to. I thought: "Mercy, how I have grown!" When I first commenced
keeping this diary I just despised poetry, and never cared about
keeping my hair tied out of my eyes, nor my hands clean. You know that
age! But I soon got over that, for when you get a little bigger being
in love causes you to admire poetry and also to beautify yourself.
Jean and I tried very sour buttermilk (the sourer the better) to make
our complexion lovely, with tansy mixed in, until it got so sour that
mother said, "Whew! There must be a rat dead in the walls!" So we had
to pour it out.

In looking over my past life it seems to me that I've been in love
with somebody or other ever since that night so long ago, when Mammy
Lou washed me and dressed me up in my tiny hemstitched clothes. And
with such lovely heroes, too! When I was awfully little I used to be
crazy about the prince that the mermaid rescued while Hans Christian
Andersen stood on the beach and watched them. Then I loved Ben Hur
from his pictures when I was ten, John Halifax when I was eleven, Lord
Byron when I was twelve--I loved him then, do now, and ever shall,
world without end, Amen! It is so much easier to love _good-looking_
people than good ones! And, oh, every handsome young Moor, who ever
dwelt in "the moonlit halls of the Alhambra!" Washington Irving will
have a heap to answer for in the making of me. And I used to dream
about "Bonny Prince Charlie," although Miss Wilburn never _could_
hammer it into my head which one of the Stuarts he was. And _actors_!
Well, I would try to make a list and write it on the fly-pages, only
it might be a bad example to my grandchildren; then, too, there are so
very few fly-pages.

But I started out to tell how much I've changed since I began this
book, for now I not only adore poetry, I write it! Fully a quart jar
full I've written since I found the first buttercup this spring. An
ode to Venus, an ode to Venice, and a world of just plain odes. Mammy
Lou washed out a preserves jar and put it on my desk for me to stick
them in. It saves trouble for her.

Jean soon woke up out of her brown study and commenced telling about
Cassius.

"I used to meet him on sunshiny mornings going to school," she said.
"He was about nineteen and so pale and thin and sad-looking that I
named him 'Cassius.' He walked with a crutch. One morning when the
wind blew his hat off I saw that his head was very scholarly looking,
so from that hour I began thinking of him every second of the time.
That is one of the worst features about being in love, you can't get
your mind off of the person, and if you _do_ it's on to somebody else.
Now, just last week I burnt up a great batch of Turkish candy I was
trying to make on account of a person's eyes. They look at you like
they're kissing you!" And she fell again into a study, not a brown one
this time, just a sort of light tan.

"Whose? Cassius's?" I interrupted, shaking her to bring her to.

"Pshaw! No! I had almost forgotten about Cassius! I've never seen
anything on earth to equal this other person's eyes! But, anyway,
going back to finish up with Cassius, I thought _of course_, from his
walking with a crutch, that he must have had a bad spinal trouble when
he was a child and used to have to sit still and be a scholar, instead
of chasing cats and breaking out people's window-panes like healthy
boys. I pictured out how lonely he must feel and how he must long for
a companion whose mind was equal to his; and it certainly made a
changed girl of me! I burnt out gallons and gallons of electricity
every night studying deep things to discuss with him when I should get
to know him well."

"How did you know what kind of things he admired?" I asked, for some
men like mathematics and some Dickens and you can't tell the
difference by passing them on the street.

"Well, it did make a heap of extra trouble to me," she answered,
sighing as tiredly as if she had been trying on coat suits all day.
"As I didn't know which was his favorite subject I had to study the
encyclopedia so as to be sure to hit it."

"Gee whiz!" I couldn't help saying.

"Oh, that ain't all! I wrote down a list of strange words to say to
him so that he could tell at a glance that I was brilliant. They were
terrific words too, from aortic and actinic in the a's to
genuflections in the g's. That's as far as I got."

Mammy Lou called us to breakfast just then, but I could eat only four
soft-boiled guinea eggs, wondering what on earth Cassius had said in
reply when Jean said genuflections to him.

"Pshaw! The rest isn't worth telling," she said with a weary look, as
I pulled her down on the steps right after breakfast and begged her to
go on about Cassius. "It ended with a disappointment--like everything
else that has a man connected with it! You're a lucky girl to be in
love with Lord Byron so long, for dead men break no hearts!"

"Well, tell it!" I begged.

"Oh, it's too disgusting for words, and was a real blow to a person of
my nature! The idiot didn't have spinal trouble at all, I learned it
from a lady who knew his mother. He had only sprained his knee, just a
plain, every-day knee, with playing basket-ball at school, which was
all the good school ever did him, the lady said. My life has certainly
been full of disillusions!"

"But, you've learned what genuflections means," I reminded her, for I
think people ought to be thankful for everything they learn by
experience, whether it's from an automobile or an auction house.

Pretty soon after this we heard the sound of horses' feet (when I saw
who it was riding them I just couldn't say _hoofs_), so Jean and I ran
to the front door. We were very glad when we saw who it was, for if it
hadn't been for this couple we should have had little to talk about
down here in the country except telling each other our dreams and
what's good to take off freckles.

It was Miss Irene Campbell riding past our house, with Mr. Gerald
Fairfax, her twin flame, in swell tan leggins that come to his knee.
Miss Irene comes down here sometimes to spend the summer with her
grandmother, Mrs. West. She used to know Mr. Fairfax so well when
they were little that there were always several planks off of the
fence so they could visit together without going all the way around to
the gate. But he grew up and went one direction and she went another
and they didn't see each other again until late last summer; but they
saw each other then, oh, so often! And they found that they must be
twin flames from the way their "temperaments accord."

I had heard Doctor Gordon say that I was of a nervous temperament and
was wondering whether or not this was the kind you could have a twin
flame with; but father says the temperament that Mr. Fairfax and Miss
Irene have is what makes affinities throw skillets at each other after
they've been married two weeks. But these two are not going to marry,
for their friendship is of the _spirit_. They talk about incarnations
and "Karma," which sounds like the name of a salve to me. Sometimes he
seems to like her looks as much as her soul, and says she's a typical
maid of Andalusia. I learned about Andalusia out of Washington Irving
too, so I know he thinks she's pretty. She has some splendid traits of
character, mother says, which means I reckon that she doesn't fix her
hair idiotically just because other women do, nor use enough violet
sachet to out-smell an automobile.

Miss Irene is very sad, both on account of her liver and her lover.
Mrs. West says the books she reads are enough to give anybody liver
complaint, but she has had a disappointment lately that is enough to
give her appendicitis.

His name is Doctor Bynum and he's as handsome as Apollo and a
bacteriologist, which is worse than a prohibitionist, for while the
last-named won't let you drink whisky in peace, the other won't let
you drink water in peace. Still, Miss Irene says he has the most
honest brown eyes and the warmest, most comfortable-feeling hands she
ever saw and she was beginning to love him in spite of their souls
being on different planes.

"He doesn't care for _one line_ in literature," she told mother, who
is very fond of her and would like to see her settled in life. "I've
tried him on everything from Marcus Aurelius to Gray's _Elegy_. When I
got to this last he said, 'Good Lord! Eliminate it! It's my business
to keep folks _out_ of the churchyard instead of droning ditties after
they're in it!' Now, do you call that anything short of savage?"

"I call it sensible," mother told her.

"But I hate sensible people--with _no_ nonsense."

"Oh, nonsense is necessary to the digestion," mother answered quickly,
"we all know _that_. But a little sense, now and then, it takes to pay
the market men."

"Which, being interpreted, means that you're like grandmother. You
hope I'll marry Doctor Bynum, but you greatly fear that it will be
Gerald Fairfax!"

"All I have to say is that 'The Raven' is not a good fowl to roast for
dinner," mother answered, with a twinkle in her eye, for Jean had come
home from Mrs. West's the day before and said that Mr. Fairfax had
been reading _The Raven_ so real you were afraid it would fly down and
peck your eyes out.

"Oh, Gerald and I don't believe in flesh foods!" she said loftily,
then added quickly, "but I'm not going to marry _him_. Neither am I
going to marry a man who calls my reincarnation theory 'bug-house
talk.' I came away down here the very day after he said that, without
telling him good-by or anything. And I'm just disappointed to death
that he has not followed me long ago. I thought sure he would!"

"You don't deserve that he should ever think of you again," mother
told her, looking as severe as she does when she tells me I'll never
get married on earth unless I learn to be more tidy.

"I confess the 'conflicting doubts and opinions' _do_ give me
indigestion. Doctor Bynum has the most good-looking face I ever saw.
And he's just lovely when he isn't perfectly hateful, and--mercy me! I
think I'll get Mammy Lou to give me a spoonful of soda in a glass of
warm water. I have an awful heaviness around my heart!"

This talk took place two or three days ago and we hadn't seen her
again until this morning when she came riding past our house. They
waved at us as they got even with our gate and turned off the main
road to the little path that leads to the prettiest part of the woods.

"Jean, what would you do if Mr. Fairfax looked at you the way he looks
at her?" I asked, as we sat down and fixed ourselves to watch them out
of sight.

"I'd marry him quicker than you could hiccough!" she answered, gazing
after them with a yearning look. "What would you do?"

"I don't know," I told her, and I don't. "Some people seem to be happy
even after they're married, but I think it would be nice to be like
Dante and Beatrice, with no gas bills nor in-laws to bother you."

"Shoo! Well, I bet she marries him in spite of all that talk about the
spirit. A spirit is all right to marry if he smells like good cigars
and is _on the spot_!"

"Yes, I'm afraid Doctor Bynum has lost his chance; for a girl will
love the nearest man--when the lilies-of-the-valley are in bloom."

"But I heard Mrs. West say the other day that Mr. Fairfax would make a
mighty bad husband, in spite of the good looks and deep voice. He'd
always forget when the oatmeal was out."

"Yes," I answered, "I heard her tell mother the other day that she
would leave all she had to somebody else if she did marry him, for she
believed in every married couple there ought to be at least one that
had sense enough to keep the fences mended up."

"Why, that old lady's mind is as narrow as a ready-made nightgown,"
Jean exclaimed in surprise. "Why, affinities marry in every page of
the pink Sunday papers!"

"But really who _does_ make the living?" I asked, for I had heard
mother say that that kind of folks never worked.

"The lawyer that divo'ces 'em makes the livin'," Mammy Lou said then,
popping her black head out through mother's white curtains. "An' them
two, if they marries, will fu'nish him with sev'al square meals! I've
knowed 'em both sence they secon' summer," she said, a brown finger
pointing in the direction they had gone, and a smile coming over her
face, for second summers are to old women what war times are to old
men, only more so. "I said it then and I say it now, he's too pore!
Across the chist! He thinks too much, which ain't no 'count. It leads
to _devilment_! Folks ain't got no business thinkin'--they ought to go
to sleep when they're through work!"

"But his sympathy----" I started, for that's what Miss Irene is
always talking about, but mammy interrupted me.

"Sympathy nothin'! How much sympathy do you reckon he'd have on a
freezin' mornin' with wet kin'lin' and the stovepipe done fell down?
She better look out for a easy-goin' man that ain't carin' 'bout
nothin' 'cept how to keep the barn full o' corn and good shoes for
seven or eight chil'en!"

Mammy Lou mostly knows what's she talking about, but somehow I hate to
think of Miss Irene with seven children. She reminds me so much of a
flower. When I stop to think of it, all the girls I've written about
remind me of flowers. Cousin Eunice is like a lovely iris, and Ann
Lisbeth is like a Marechal Niel rose. Miss Cis Reeves used to look
like a bright, happy little pansy, but that was before the twins were
born. Now her collar to her shirtwaist always hikes up in the back and
shows the skin underneath and her hat (whenever she gets a chance to
put on a hat) is over one ear, and lots of times she looks like she
wishes nobody in her family ever had been born, especially the twin
that cries the loudest.

When I told Miss Irene that she reminded me of a flower, she said
well, it must be the jasmine flower, or something else like a funeral,
for she was as desolate as everybody was in _Ben Bolt_. (I always
wondered why they didn't bury "Sweet Alice" with the rest of her
family instead of in a corner obscure and alone.) I told her then just
to pacify her that maybe she would feel better after she got married
one way or another and stopped reading books named _The Call
of_----all sorts of things, and thinking that she had to answer all
the calls. Cousin Eunice says her only troubles in matrimony were
stomach and eye teeth and frozen water-pipes. She never gets disgusted
with life except on nights when Rufe goes to the lodge to see the
third degree administered. She can even write a few articles now if
she gives Waterloo a pan of water and a wash-rag to play with, but
she says many of her brightest thoughts never were fountain-penned
because he happened to squall in the midst of them.

For the last few days Mr. Fairfax has been riding around the country
looking for a little cabin where he can be by himself and fish and
read Schopenhauer. I imagine from what they've read before me that he
must be the man who wrote the post-cards you send to newly engaged
couples saying, "Cheer up! The worst is yet to come!"

Mr. Fairfax says the blue smoke will curl up from his cabin chimney at
sunset and form a "symphony in color" against the green tree-tops; and
he can lead the "untrammeled life." He is begging Miss Irene to go and
lead it with him, I'm sure; and she's half a mind to do it, but can't
bear the _thoughts_ of it when she remembers Doctor Bynum's eyes and
hands. Altogether the poor girl looks as uncertain as if she was
walking on a pavement covered with banana peelings.

I think the blue-smoke-cabin idea is very romantic, but when I
mentioned it to Mammy Lou she got mad and jerked the skillet off the
stove so suddenly that the grease popped out and burnt her finger.

"Blue smoke! Blue _blazes_!" she said, walloping her dish-rag around
and around in it. "I hope that pretty critter ain't goin' to be took
in by no such talk as that! Blue smoke curlin'! Well, _she'll_ be the
one to make the fire that curls it!"


It's a good thing that father gave me a fountain pen on my last
birthday, for I should hate to write what happened last night with a
dull pencil.

Mrs. West had invited Jean and me to spend the night at her house, for
Miss Irene was feeling worse and worse and needed something light to
cheer her up. Well, it was just long enough after supper for us to be
wishing that we hadn't eaten so many strawberries when Mr. Fairfax
came up the walk looking as grand and gloomy as Edgar Allan Poe, right
after he had written a poem to his mother-in-law. He said let's take a
walk in the moonlight for the air was _madding_. I always thought
before it was _maddening_, and should be applied only to nuisances,
like your next-door neighbor's children, or the piano in the flat
above you; but I saw from the dictionary and the way he acted later on
that he was right, both about the word and the way he applied it.

Not far down the road from Mrs. West's front gate is a very old-timey
school-house, so dilapidated that Jean says she knows it's the one
where the little girl said to the little boy, forty years ago:

      "I'm sorry that I spelt the word,
        I hate to go above you;
      Because," the brown eyes lower fell;
        "Because, you see, I love you!"

Jean didn't mean a bit of harm when she quoted it, but the sound of
that last line made them look as shivery as if they had malaria. We
soon found a nice place and sat down on a log that looked less like
snakes than the others, and when we saw that there wasn't quite room
enough for us all Jean and I had the politeness to go away out of
hearing and find another log, over closer to the road. Even then we
could hear, for the night was so still and we were so busy with our
thoughts.

I began thinking: What if _I_ should have such a hard time to find a
lover that is sympathetic and systematic at the same time? Suppose Sir
Reginald de Beverley isn't sympathetic about Lord Byron! Suppose he
likes his parliamentary speeches better than his poetry, like one
husband of a lady that I know does!

But my mind was diverted just then by hearing words coming from the
direction of Miss Irene and Mr. Fairfax so much like the little girl
said to the little boy forty years ago that I was astonished. I had
been told that a girl could always keep a man from proposing when she
wanted to! But he was saying that she _should_ come with him and lead
the untrammeled life, and she was looking pleased and frightened and
was telling him to hush, but was letting him go on; and they were both
standing up and holding hands in the moonlight.

"I'm not at all sure it's the untrammeled life I'm looking for," she
said in little catchy breaths; "but I'm so wretched! And you're the
only one who cares! I suppose I may as well--oh, I wish I had somebody
here to keep me from acting an idiot!"

Now, if Shakespeare or "The Duchess" had written this story they would
have pretended that Doctor Bynum came around the curve in the road at
that very minute and taking off his hat said: "Nay, you shall be my
wife!"

But it was only Mrs. West coming down the road, carrying a heavy
crocheted shawl to keep Miss Irene from catching her death of cold!
But listen! The minute we got back to the house the telephone bell
rang and it was a long-distance call for Miss Irene. She knew in a
_second_ from the city it was from that Doctor Bynum was at the other
end of the line. She looked at that telephone like a person in the
fourth story of a house afire looks at the hook-and-ladder man.

Mr. Fairfax said well, he must be going; and we all got out on the
porch while she and Doctor Bynum made up their quarrel at the rate of
two dollars for the first three minutes and seventy-five cents a
minute extra. (I know because father sometimes talks to that city
about cotton.) And he's coming down Sunday. And Jean and I are holding
our breath.


We're having the very last fire of the season to-night! A big,
booming, beautiful one that makes you think winter wasn't such a bad
time after all! A cold spell has come, and oh, it is so cold! It makes
you wonder how it had the heart to come now and cause the flowers to
feel so out of place. But it has also caused us to have another fire
and I love a fire. I even like to make them, and lots of times I tell
Dilsey to let me build the fire in my room myself. I sit down on the
hearth and sit and _sit_, building that fire. Then I get to looking
into it and thinking. Thinking is a mighty bad habit, like Mammy Lou
says.

I can't do this any more though--for to-night we're having the last
fire of the season. To-morrow spring cleaning will be gone through
with and the chimneys all newspapered up. No matter how cold it gets
after _that_ you can't expect to have a fire after you've _sprung
cleaned_! I never _am_ going to spring clean at my house. The dust and
soapsuds are not the worst part of house cleaning, though they are bad
enough, goodness knows! What I hate worst to see is the battered old
bureaus and shabby old quilts that you've kept a secret from the
public for years pulled out from their corners by the hair of their
heads and knocked around in the back yard without any pity for their
poor old bones! I never see a moving van going through the city
streets loaded with pitiful old furniture without thinking "That used
to be _somebody's_ Lares and Penates!"

By-the-way, Mammy Lou is crazy for Dovie to have some more twins so
she can name them "Scylla and Chrybdis." She hasn't much hopes though,
for she says lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. Father
says it wouldn't be lightning, it would be _thunder_ to have two more
little pickaninnies always standing around under his feet and have to
explain to everybody that came along how they got their curious names.

Mammy Lou heard Miss Irene say "Scylla and Chrybdis;" Miss Irene
doesn't say it any more though. Doctor Bynum didn't wait for the train
to bring him down here that Sunday, but whizzed through the country in
his automobile Saturday night. Then he "venied, vidied, vicied" in
such a hurry that everybody in town knew it before nap time Sunday
afternoon. Mr. Fairfax has gone away on a long trip. Jean said if he
had had any sense he would have seen that Miss Irene Campbell wasn't
the only girl in the world, but he didn't see it and he's gone.

Next week Jean is going home and when I think of how lonesome I'll be
something nearly pops inside of me. They have been writing and writing
for me to go home with Jean and stay until Rufe and Cousin Eunice and
Waterloo get ready to come down this summer, but mother says I may not
go unless Jean and I both promise to reform. We're not to eat any more
stuffed olives nor write any more poetry--and, _think_ of it! I'm to
stop writing in _my diary_! Mother says I'll never have any practical
sense if I don't begin now to learn things. I tell her, "Am I to blame
if I love a fountain pen better than a darning needle?" The Lord made
me so. And I _hate_ sewing. It's as hard for me to sew as it is to
keep from writing.

Yet if I go home with Jean I must quit writing. Must give up my
diary. Must not write one line of poetry, no matter how much my head
is buzzing with it! Why, if poets couldn't _write_ their poetry they'd
burst a blood vessel! I can't even take you with me to Jean's house
and read over what I have written in happier days, you poor little
forsaken diary!



CHAPTER XIII


It seems to me that the writing habit is kinder like poison oak; it's
sure to break out on you in the spring, and you can never get it
entirely out of your system.

I've tried my best to keep from writing, and when you have done your
best and failed, why I don't believe even Robert Bruce's spider could
have done any more.

I promised mother I would stop writing in my diary and I have--for
such a long time that every one of the hems in my dresses has had to
be let out since I wrote last. But now I just must break my promise,
and I reckon if you are going to break a promise at all you might as
well break it all to pieces. So I'll just dive in and tell all that
happened since I wrote last.

You remember that fluffy-skirted widow that I told you about being
down here, my diary, and I sharpened seventeen pencils for--a long
time ago? Well, she said that _she_ believed every minute of this life
was made for enjoyment. She told it to a young man that told it to
father that told it to mother and I happened to hear. She said you
ought to do the things you enjoy most, as long as they didn't bother
anybody else, and if you did things you had to repent of afterward,
why, even then, you ought to cut out your sackcloth by a becoming
pattern!

Everybody in town heard that she said it, and Brother Sheffield said
it was a _heathenish_ thing to say! He preached his Jezebel sermon the
very next Sunday, although it wasn't due until nearer Easter bonnet
time. Maybe he wasn't to blame so much, though, for the presiding
elder was due that Sunday and found out at the last minute he couldn't
get there in time for the morning service; so Brother Sheffield had to
preach the first sermon he could get his hands on, I reckon. The
presiding elder (I _wonder_ if you ought to begin him with a capital
letter? I never wrote "presiding elder" before in my life and maybe
never will again, so it's no use getting up to go and look for it in
the dictionary) well, he got in late that afternoon and spent the
night at our house where he kept the supper table in a roar telling
funny tales about the ignorance and tacky ways of the country brethren
he had stayed with the night before. He was an awfully popular
presiding elder with his members.

But what I started out to say when I commenced writing to-night was
that surely mother wouldn't be so cruel as not to want my
grandchildren to know a few little last things about all the friends
I've written of in here, and also a few little last things about me. I
always like to read a book that winds up that way. For instance, you
will enjoy hearing that Miss Irene is spending every minute of her
time just about now running baby blue ribbon in her underclothes. And
Miss Merle has long ago quit running it in hers!

Miss Irene has stopped being a "pseudo-Poe in petticoats," as father
one time called her, but not to her face. Doctor Bynum told her that
he thought one bright magazine story that would make a "T.B." patient
sit up in bed and laugh was worth all the graveyard gloom that Poe
ever wrote.

And before I get clear away from the subject of Miss Merle I must tell
you that Mr. St. John is still the most bashful, though married, man I
ever heard of. I never shall forget the time he wouldn't let us see
his undershirt--when it was hanging in an up-stairs window, too. But
Jean wrote me not long ago that when the census man came around to see
how many folks lived there and how many times each one had been
married and if they kept a cow, etc., Mr. St. John happened to be the
one to go to the door and answer the man's questions. Now, it does
seem that if he and Miss Merle have been married long enough for her
to leave off the ribbon he might leave off the blushes; but they were
all standing around looking at him, which of course made it worse. So
when the census man said, "How many children is your wife the mother
of?" instead of speaking out boldly, "None!" Jean said his face turned
every color in the curriculum and he stammered, "Not any--that _I_
know of!" And then he looked around at them as if to see whether or
not _they_ knew of any lying around loose about the house.

I haven't seen Jean since she was down here, but we write eighteen
pages a week. I didn't get to go on my visit to her house as I
expected, for we went to Florida instead. We all went, that is, us
three, and Waterloo and his family besides Ann Lisbeth and Doctor
Gordon.

Doctor Gordon was the one that started it. He caught pneumonia one
dreary day in the early spring when he was already sick in bed, but
got up and went out to the hospital to operate for appendicitis. Ann
Lisbeth almost went into catalepsy, trying to keep him from going,
but it was a very expensive appendix, he said, so he got up and went
out and bottled it. The changing from his warm room to the cold air
gave him pneumonia, although the doctors say it is caused by a germ.
I'll never believe this, not even if I marry one!

Well, he finally got over his spell by "lysis" instead of "crisis,"
but I hope this will never come to Mammy Lou's ears, or she will
fairly long for more twins in the Dovie family.

When Doctor Gordon got able to be out a little all the other doctors
told him that he had better go to a warm climate for a month or two,
for it was still so cold, so he and Ann Lisbeth persuaded Rufe and
Cousin Eunice to go too, and they all wrote for us to hurry up and get
ready so we could go with them.

Mother said she'd just _love_ to go, but she didn't see how we
possibly could, for none of us had any clothes and she had always
heard that Florida was fairly alive with rich Yankees! Mammy Lou
spoke up then and said, well, she was sure Ann looked exactly like a
rich Yankee, and she was the only one that folks was going to look at
anyhow! So mother took heart and we went.

Father had to have a new overcoat, for the weather has been colder
this spring than ever the oldest inhabitant can tell about, and as
they wrote us to get ready in such a hurry, on account of poor Doctor
Gordon's cough, he didn't have time to have one made at his regular
place, so he bought one ready-made, a light tan one, the poor dear!
And it had two long "heimer" names from Chicago printed on the label
at the collar.

We got ready in such a rush that none of us had time to rip this label
out, though I lived to regret it many a time! It was too hot to wear
it when we got down there, but father had got scared up about catching
pneumonia, so he insisted on carrying it around on his arm all the
time, inside out; and there was not one millionaire, not one tennis
champion, nor famous authoress we met, but what I saw the eyes of
fixed, at one time or another, on those "heimer" names!

That's one delightful thing about Florida--you get to see so many
people that you never would see at home. And everybody mixes like
candidates! For instance, you may have a mosquito on you one minute
that you will see on a Russian anarchist the next. The mosquitoes down
there are so big that you can easily recognize their features. And apt
as not you'll go in bathing every day with a person _so famous_ when
he's at home that he is never invited to dine with anybody that hasn't
got monogram china and _pâté de foie gras_.

I've noticed that the things people tell about after they come home
from a trip depend a good deal on the disposition they carry with them
on it. It's the way with Florida. If you're an optimist you'll come
back and tell about the palms, roses and sunsets. If you're a
pessimist you'll mention snakes, hotel bills and buzzards. The honest
truth is there's quite enough of them all to go around.

You're impressed with the country from the first morning that you get
into it and raise up (half way) in your berth and look out the car
window. At first there seems to be a mighty lot of just flat scenery,
with tall trees that have all their branches at the tiptop. These
trees remind you of pictures of the Holy Land that you used to see in
the big Bible your mother and father would give you on Sunday
afternoons to keep you quiet while they could take a nap.

You begin to think that what you're seeing is too beautiful to be
true, though, from the first minute you look out on a blue bay that is
deep green in places, and has purple streaks in it. But when you row
over to an island all covered with palms and find a strip of beach
that has bushels and bushels of tiny shells, that the mermaids used to
make necklaces out of--why, nothing on earth but your _feet_ hurting
so bad makes you believe it is not a dream!

Florida has all the things in it that you see when you shut your eyes
and smell a jasmine flower!

The climate is fine for the lungs, but very bad on the alimenary canal
and curling-iron hair!

We stopped at all the points of interest as we went on down. A point
of interest is a place that the post-cards tell lies about. Still I do
think Florida cards come nearer telling the truth than those of most
places, for the country is very nearly as many colors as they make it
out to be.

Cousin Eunice said she thought sending post-cards was the _one_
melancholy pleasure of traveling, and so I bought a quarter's worth at
every place.

Traveling _is_ a melancholy pleasure when you have a baby that you
won't let drink a drop of water unless it has had the germs all stewed
in it. Waterloo is getting to be such a big boy now, too; but he
still talks like a telegram--just the most important words of what he
wants to say, with all the others left out. He's crazy about
foot-ball, chewing-gum and billy-goats. And you just ought to hear him
chew gum!

Among the points of interest we saw was the oldest house in America.
It is a _very_ interesting place. It has a marble bust of Lord Byron
in it!

I don't remember another thing, I believe, except that! Oh yes, I do,
too! I do remember a startling thing I heard about a very old bed in
that house. I heard the guide telling that this was the bed that
William the Conqueror and Maria Theresa slept on! I hate to hear folks
get their history mixed, so I had just opened my mouth to say "Why,
they were not _married_," when I spied the bust of his lordship in the
next room. After that I didn't care how many tales they made up on
William and Maria!

Poor little Waterloo didn't much fancy the oldest house, but when we
drove up to "The Fountain of Youth," and he saw the clear, sparkling
"drink" that helped Ponce get rid of his double chin and crow's-feet
he commenced to howl for some. Doctor Gordon had told us before we got
there that we mustn't dare drink any of it unless there was a signed
certificate that there wasn't any "coli" in it.

We looked all around, but as we didn't see any sign, Rufe thought
maybe he'd better not give him any. There didn't _look_ to be any
"coli," either, but still Rufe didn't like the idea of his drinking
it. When Waterloo saw that they didn't intend to give him any he
commenced to kick and squall and get so red in the face with his
dancing up and down that Rufe finally screamed back to the carriage
that Doctor Gordon was in and asked him if he thought one little glass
would hurt Waterloo. Cousin Eunice screamed back at the same time and
said for Doctor Gordon to give his _honest_ opinion, for she wouldn't
have the little angel catch anything so far away from home for the
whole of the East coast.

Doctor Gordon, who had been made nervous by his spell, screamed back
to them for Heaven's sake let the little imp drink till he
_busted_--only he hoped it wouldn't make him stay as _young_ as he was
then!

So Rufe motioned for the lady that hands you the water, with a
North-of-the-Mason-and-Dixon accent, to hush talking about her friend,
Ponce de Leon, long enough to give the glass an extra scrubbing and
hand Waterloo some water, which she did. This didn't do as much good,
though, as we had hoped for. Rufe was in such a hurry to get away from
"The Fountain of Youth" that his hand trembled some and he spilt the
first glassful down Waterloo's little front. This made the darling so
mad, and I don't blame him either, that he slapped the second glassful
out of Rufe's hand. He washed Teddy Bear's face with the third, and
threw the fourth in Cousin Eunice's white linen lap, when she tried to
soothe him.

Rufe ran his hand down into his pocket before he told the driver to
drive on, for he knew that milk was fifteen cents a quart in Florida,
and water was almost priceless. The lady told him that she would have
to collect fifty cents for the water that Waterloo had wasted, and
that washing out the glass was twenty-five cents extra.

Rufe handed her a twenty-dollar bill, but she couldn't change it. So
he called back to Doctor Gordon to ask him if he could.

"_Change!_" said Doctor Gordon, looking surprised that Rufe should
have asked him such an embarrassing question. "Why, I haven't a
_thing_ left but my watch-fob and thermometer-case and wouldn't have
had them if I hadn't worn them in a chamois bag around my neck!"

So Rufe told the lady he would mail her a check for the amount with
interest.

Later on we saw ostrich farms and the biggest cigar factory in the
world. I _think_ they said it was the biggest. Anyway, if there's a
bigger one I don't care about smelling it!

It's long past time for the lights to go out, mine especially, for
they never want me to sit up until I get really interested in
anything; but I believe I will throw a black sateen petticoat up over
the transom, which I have found out you can do very well if you have
two nails up there to hang it on, and tell one more little thing that
happened on that trip. I say "little thing," but it seemed a monstrous
big thing to me at the time.

When we were about half-way through Georgia on our way home, some of
us commenced having chills. Doctor Gordon had his first, but he didn't
say anything about it to Ann Lisbeth until he got to shaking so that
she saw something was the matter. Then mother and Cousin Eunice had
one apiece. Doctor Gordon said it wasn't anything to be alarmed about,
for it was just a little malaria cropping out, but I felt so sorry
for them that I told Ann Lisbeth if she would go with me I would go up
to the baggage car and see if we could get out some heavy underclothes
from our trunk.

We had to stagger through a long string of sleepers, for we were in
the backest one, but we were rewarded when we finally did get to the
baggage car. There was a merry-eyed express messenger in there who
said he would be _glad_ to pull and haul those fifteen or twenty
trunks that were on top of ours! May the gods reward him, for it was
an awful job! And so we got out enough clothes for our cold and
destitute families.

Now, you may have noticed before this, my diary, that I am a forgetful
person. I can remember the last words of Charles II, or anything like
that, but I forget what I did yesterday.

I had entirely forgotten about stuffing oranges in with all our
clothes when I helped mother pack our trunks! And we were in such a
hurry in the express car that we didn't stop to shake the clothes out
as we fished them up from the trays; it wouldn't have been polite to,
anyway, in front of that good-looking express messenger, and we didn't
have room enough. So we had just lifted things out as we came to them
and eased them up in our arms as we started on back on our walk to our
sleeper.

But the oranges hadn't forgotten about being there! I reckon they
wanted to see what all that disturbance was about for, I cross my
heart, _just_ as I got opposite the swellest-looking man in that whole
string of sleepers, a man with silk socks and golf sticks, a long
sleeve of mother's knit corset-cover dropped down against the seat in
front of him and four oranges rolled out! They rolled slowly, one by
one, and dropped to the floor with muffled thuds. Then they rolled
some more and didn't stop until they reached his feet.

That's how I knew he had on silk socks.



CHAPTER XIV


I'm as lonesome as _Marianna in the Moated Grange_ to-night! Isn't
that the lonesomest poem on earth? Everything about it is unsanitary,
too, from the rusty flower-pots to the blue fly "buzzing in the pane."
No wonder it got on Marianna's nerves, in her condition, too! But she
had one thing to be thankful for--she didn't know how many germs that
fly had on its feet!

I'm lonesome for Jean--or somebody! Thank goodness it is nearly time
for Waterloo to come! Cousin Eunice said in a letter that we had from
her to-day she was trying to raise Waterloo right, but he was a trial
to her feelings! Now, poor Cousin Eunice has read Herbert Spencer for
the sake of Waterloo's future education ever since he has been born,
and she has never let him out of her sight with a nurse for fear she
would feed him chewed-up chestnuts and teach him about the Devil. I
reckon you spell him with a capital letter, if you don't waste them on
presiding elders. But Waterloo doesn't always show how carefully he's
been brought up. He is of nervous temperament and told a woman who was
sewing on the machine right loud the other day: "Hus', hus'! God's
sake, make noise _easy_!"

This is disheartening after all the trouble she has taken with his
morals and diet and things like that! She never lets him eat the
"deadly" things that Doctor Gordon is always talking about, but she
_does_ keep a little pure sugar candy on hand all the time to be used
only as a last resort. When she can't make him do any other way on
earth she uses the candy.

Speaking of deadly things reminds me of Doctor Bynum's friends, the
germs. He has told Miss Irene so many stories about their unpleasant
ways that she got to not believing in kissing, but he said pshaw! it
looked like we all had to die of germs anyhow, and so he'd rather die
of that kind than any other!

Cousin Eunice's letters always tell us so many interesting things
about all our friends in the city. She and Ann Lisbeth still live
close neighbors, but they have both bought beautiful places out on one
of the pikes and each one is claiming to be more countrified than the
other. One day Ann Lisbeth ran over and told Cousin Eunice that Doctor
Gordon had heard an owl in their yard the night before, but Cousin
Eunice told her that wasn't anything! She and Rufe had had a _bat_ in
their bedroom!

Doctor Gordon has two automobiles now. He had them the last time I was
in the city and I got to find out exactly what "limousine" means. I
had an idea before that it meant _dark green_, because--oh, well, I
needn't tell the reason; it was silly enough to think such a thing
without making excuses for it. But you know so many swell cars _are_
painted dark green, and so many swell cars are limousines!

Ann Lisbeth is a great help to Doctor Gordon in his practice, he says.
She always remembers the different babies' names and looks up subjects
for him in his surgical books that would knock the knee-cap off of
Jean's little word, "genuflections."

No matter how fine a doctor a lady's husband is she is never permitted
to mention it to her friends, for this is called "unethical." But if
she's expecting company of an afternoon she can happen to have a
bottle with a queer thing inside setting on the mantelpiece and when
the company asks what on earth that thing is she can say, "For
goodness' sake! My husband must have forgotten that! Why that's
Senator Himuck's appendix!"

Ann Lisbeth seems to get sweeter every year and you would never know
she has a foreign accent now except on Sunday night when the cook's
away and the gas stove doesn't do right.

Another good piece of news Cousin Eunice wrote to-day was that the
Youngs are going to try it again at the bungalow this summer.
Professor Young has to go somewhere to rest up from his studies. For
nearly eighteen months now he's been sitting up late at night and
spending the whole of Saturdays, even taking his coffee out to the
laboratory in a thermos bottle, studying pharmacy. He is delighted
with the progress he has made, for he says he has not only learned how
to make a perfectly splendid cold cream for his wife's complexion, but
has discovered just which bad-smelling stuff put with another
bad-smelling stuff is best to develop his films. He says his knowledge
of pharmacy has saved him a lot of money in this way.

Speaking of curious couples reminds me of the Gayles. They're not half
as queer now as they were before they married though. At present they
are neither in Heaven, nor on earth, exactly, but they are cruising on
the Mediterranean. They send me post-cards from every place and I
stick them in my album with great pride.

Another family that we're always glad to hear from is the Macdonalds.
Poor little fluffy-haired Miss Cis! I reckon the very last of her
dimples will soon be changed into wrinkles, for there's _another_ one
since the twins! Nobody can say that Miss Cis is not bearing up
bravely, though. She does all she can to present a stylish,
straight-front appearance when she goes out, which isn't often. But at
home they are all perfectly happy together, Mr. Macdonald getting down
on the floor to play bear, and if he _does_ look more like a devil's
horse while he's doing it, with his long arms and legs, the twins
don't know the difference.

Marrying has helped Julius' looks more than anybody I ever saw. His
cheeks have filled out until he's as handsome as a floor-walker. And
they're so contented that Marcella says actually when she finds a pin
pointing toward her she doesn't know what to wish for.

You may have caught on to it before now, my diary, that the reason I'm
telling you this very last news of all our friends is because I'm
going to stop writing _sure enough_ to-night! I'm ashamed to keep
breaking my promise to mother.

The only ones I've left out, I believe, are Aunt Laura and Bertha. I
wish I had forgotten them for I don't like to say anything hateful in
my diary.

Aunt Laura has joined some kind of New Thoughters and has grown
quantities of new brown hair on the strength of it. And she dresses in
champagne silk all the time.

As for Bertha--she _lives_ to keep up with the "best people," meaning
by this that she runs up to the hairdresser's every other day to see
if she can learn how many "society men" have thrown their wives down
the steps or poured boiling coffee over them since she last heard.

I'm sorry I thought of Bertha so near the last, for I don't want to
leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, my diary. So I'll branch
off and mention something sweet right away.

That blessed Waterloo! He's the sweetest thing I know anything about!
Just about this time I reckon he's begging his "Daddy-boy" to sing
Feep Alsie, Ben Bolt, for that's been his precious little sleepy song
ever since he's been born.

When I think of those three and how happy they are, and how satisfied
they are just to be together, I know that Rufe told me the truth that
day, a long, long time ago! There is only one subject worth writing
about--or one object worth living for! May every one of you
grandchildren find just such an object, and be as happy as they are
while living for it!

It does seem that I ought to be able to think of something beautiful
to wind up my diary with! Everything about me is beautiful! The
honeysuckle is smelling like the very soul of spring and love just
outside my window--and there's a bust of Lord Byron on my mantelpiece
close by. Such a tiny bust--the curly head just fits into the palm of
my hand--when I get grown I'm going to have one big enough to burn
candles before! Not that I shall burn candles before it--for, to tell
the truth, I'd much rather be burning my fingers cooking oatmeal for
some big, brown-eyed "Daddy-boy" and tiny, brown-eyed Waterloo!

Mammy Lou came to my window just as I wrote this last and stuck her
head in.

"Name o' Deuteronomy!" she said in a loud whisper when she saw this
book open before me. "What good'll your _gran'children_ do you, I'd
like to know--if you set up all night and lose your looks so you'll
nuvver fin' a husban'?"


THE END



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