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Produced by Josephine Paolucci and the Online Distributed Proofreading




_With Illustrations by Helen Mason Grose_




















From drawings by HELEN MASON GROSE




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Then he came in to see me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But this is the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nurse Sarah shrugged her shoulders again.

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

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



And this is Nurse Sarah's story.

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

"An' your ma - poor little thing! I couldn't think of anything but a
doll that was thrown in the corner because somebody'd got tired of
her. She _was_ lonesome, an' no mistake. Anybody'd be sorry for her,

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