Eleanor H. Porter.

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Christmas morning, there was a lovely new snow on the ground, and Mr.
Easterbrook came with a perfectly lovely sleigh and two horses to take
Mother and me to ride, and what a splendid time we had, and how lovely
Mother looked with her red cheeks and bright eyes, and how, when we
got home, Mr. Easterbrook said we looked more like sisters than mother
and daughter, and wasn't that nice of him. Of course, I told a little
more about Mr. Easterbrook, too, so Father'd know who he was - a new
friend of Mother's that I'd never known till I came back this time,
and how he was very rich and a most estimable man. That Aunt Hattie
said so.

Then I told him that in the afternoon another gentleman came and took
us to a perfectly beautiful concert. And I finished up by telling
about the Christmas party in the evening, and how lovely the house
looked, and Mother, and that they said I looked nice, too.

And that was all. And when I had got it done, I saw that I had written
a long letter, a great long letter. And I was almost afraid it was
too long, till I remembered that Father had asked me for it; he had
_asked_ me to tell him all about what I did on Christmas Day.

So I sent it off.

* * * * *


Yes, I know it's been quite a while, but there hasn't been a thing to
say - nothing new or exciting, I mean. There's just school, and the
usual things; only Mr. Easterbrook doesn't come any more. (Of course,
the violinist hasn't come since that day he proposed.) I don't know
whether Mr. Easterbrook proposed or not. I only know that all of a
sudden he stopped coming. I don't know the reason.

I don't overhear so much as I used to, anyway. Not but that I'm in the
library window-seat just the same; but 'most everybody that comes in
looks there right off, now; and, of course, when they see me they
don't hardly ever go on with what they are saying. So it just
naturally follows that I don't overhear things as I used to.

Not that there's much to hear, though. Really, there just isn't
anything going on, and things aren't half so lively as they used to be
when Mr. Easterbrook was here, and all the rest. They've all stopped
coming, now, 'most. I've about given up ever having a love story of
Mother's to put in.

And mine, too. Here I am fifteen next month, going on sixteen. (Why,
that brook and river met long ago!) But Mother is getting to be almost
as bad as Aunt Jane was about my receiving proper attentions from
young men. Oh, she lets me go to places, a little, with the boys at
school; but I always have to be chaperoned. And whenever are they
going to have a chance to say anything really _thrilling_ with Mother
or Aunt Hattie right at my elbow? Echo answers never! So I've about
given up _that's_ amounting to anything, either.

Of course, there's Father left, and of course, when I go back to
Andersonville this summer, there may be something doing there. But I
doubt it.

I forgot to say I haven't heard from Father again. I answered his
Christmas letter, as I said, and wrote just as nice as I knew how, and
told him all he asked me to. But he never answered, nor wrote again. I
am disappointed, I'll own up. I thought he would write. I think Mother
did, too. She's asked me ever so many times if I hadn't heard from him
again. And she always looks so sort of funny when I say no - sort of
glad and sorry together, all in one.

But, then, Mother's queer in lots of ways now. For instance: One
week ago she gave me a perfectly lovely box of chocolates - a whole
two-pound box all at once; and I've never had more than a half-pound
at once before. But just as I was thinking how for once I was going to
have a real feast, and all I wanted to eat - what do you think she told
me? She said I could have three pieces, and only three pieces a day;
and not one little tiny one more. And when I asked her why she gave me
such a big box for, then, if that was all I could have, she said it
was to teach me self-discipline. That self-discipline was one of the
most wonderful things in the world. That if she'd only been taught it
when she was a girl, her life would have been very, very different.
And so she was giving me a great big box of chocolates for my very
own, just so as to teach me to deny myself and take only three pieces
every day.

Three pieces! - and all that whole big box of them just making my
mouth water all the while; and all just to teach me that horrid old
self-discipline! Why, you'd think it was Aunt Jane doing it instead of

* * * * *

_One week later._

It's come - Father's letter. It came last night. Oh, it was short, and
it didn't say anything about what _I_ wrote. But I was proud of it,
just the same. I just guess I was! There wasn't much in it but just
that I might stay till the school closed in June, and then come. But
_he wrote it_. He didn't get Aunt Jane to write to Mother, as he did
before. And then, besides, he must have forgotten his stars long
enough to think of me a _little_ - for he remembered about the school,
and that I couldn't go there in Andersonville, and so he said I had
better stay here till it finished.

And I was so glad to stay! It made me very happy - that letter. It made
Mother happy, too. She liked it, and she thought it was very, very
kind of Father to be willing to give me up almost three whole months
of his six, so I could go to school here. And she said so. She said
once to Aunt Hattie that she was almost tempted to write and thank
him. But Aunt Hattie said, "Pooh," and it was no more than he ought to
do, and that _she_ wouldn't be seen writing to a man who so carefully
avoided writing to _her_. So Mother didn't do it, I guess.

But I wrote. I had to write three letters, though, before I got one
that Mother said would do to send. The first one sounded so _glad_ I
was staying that Mother said she was afraid he would feel hurt, and
that would be too bad - when he'd been so kind. And the second one
sounded as if I was so _sorry_ not to go to Andersonville the first of
April that Mother said that would never do in the world. He'd think
I didn't _want_ to stay in Boston. But the third letter I managed to
make just glad enough to stay, and just sorry enough not to go. So
that Mother said it was all right. And I sent it. You see I _asked_
Mother to help me about this letter. I knew she wouldn't cry and moan
about being jealous this time. And she didn't. She was real excited
and happy over it.

* * * * *


Well, the last chocolate drop went yesterday. There were just
seventy-six pieces in that two-pound box. I counted them that first
day. Of course, they were fine and dandy, and I just loved them; but
the trouble is, for the last week I've been eating such snippy little
pieces. You see, every day, without thinking, I'd just naturally pick
out the biggest pieces. So you can imagine what they got down to
toward the last - mostly chocolate almonds.

As for the self-discipline - I don't see as I feel any more disciplined
than I did before, and I _know_ I want chocolates just as much as
ever. And I said so to Mother.

But Mother _is_ queer. Honestly she is. And I can't help wondering - is
she getting to be like Aunt Jane?

Now, listen to this:

Last week I had to have a new party dress, and we found a perfect
darling of a pink silk, all gold beads, and gold slippers to match.
And I knew I'd look perfectly divine in it; and once Mother would have
got it for me. But not this time. She got a horrid white muslin with
dots in it, and a blue silk sash, suitable for a child - for any child.

Of course, I was disappointed, and I suppose I did show it - some. In
fact, I'm afraid I showed it a whole lot. Mother didn't say anything
_then_; but on the way home in the car she put her arm around me and

"I'm sorry about the pink dress, dear. I knew you wanted it. But it
was not suitable at all for you - not until you're older, dear."

She stopped a minute, then went on with another little hug:

"Mother will have to look out that her little daughter isn't getting
to be vain, and too fond of dress."

I knew then, of course, that it was just some more of that
self-discipline business.

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

_Is_ she getting to be like Aunt Jane?

* * * * *

_One week later._

She is.

I _know_ she is now.

I'm learning to cook - _to cook_! And it's Mother that says I must. She
told Aunt Hattie - I heard her - that she thought every girl should
know how to cook and to keep house; and that if she had learned those
things when she was a girl, her life would have been quite different,
she was sure.

Of course, I'm not learning in Aunt Hattie's kitchen. Aunt Hattie's
got a new cook, and she's worse than Olga used to be - about not
wanting folks messing around, I mean. So Aunt Hattie said right off
that we couldn't do it there. I am learning at a Domestic Science
School, and Mother is going with me. I didn't mind so much when she
said she'd go, too. And, really, it is quite a lot of fun - really it
is. But it _is_ queer - Mother and I going to school together to learn
how to make bread and cake and boil potatoes! And, of course, Aunt
Hattie laughs at us. But I don't mind. And Mother doesn't, either.
But, oh, how Aunt Jane would love it, if she only knew!

* * * * *


Something is the matter with Mother, certainly. She's acting queerer
and queerer, and she _is_ getting to be like Aunt Jane. Why, only this
morning she hushed me up from laughing so loud, and stopped my
romping up and down the stairs with Lester. She said it was noisy and
unladylike - and only just a little while ago she just loved to have me
laugh and play and be happy! And when I said so to her this morning,
she said, yes, yes, of course, and she wanted me to be happy now, only
she wished to remind me that very soon I was going back to my father
in Andersonville, and that I ought to begin now to learn to be more
quiet, so as not to trouble him when I got there.

Now, what do you think of that?

And another thing. What _do_ you suppose I am learning about _now_?
You'd never guess. Stars. Yes, _stars_! And that is for Father, too.

Mother came into my room one day with a book of Grandfather's under
her arm. She said it was a very wonderful work on astronomy, and she
was sure I would find it interesting. She said she was going to read
it aloud to me an hour a day. And then, when I got to Andersonville
and Father talked to me, I'd _know_ something. And he'd be pleased.

She said she thought we owed it to Father, after he'd been so good and
kind as to let me stay here almost three whole months of his six, so
I could keep on with my school. And that she was very sure this would
please him and make him happy.

And so, for 'most a week now, Mother has read to me an hour a day
out of that astronomy book. Then we talk about it. And it _is_
interesting. Mother says it is, too. She says she wishes _she'd_ known
something about astronomy when she was a girl; that she's sure it
would have made things a whole lot easier and happier all around, when
she married Father; for then she would have known something about
something _he_ was interested in. She said she couldn't help that
now, of course; but she could see that _I_ knew something about such
things. And that was why she was reading to me now. Then she said
again that she thought we owed it to Father, when he'd been so good to
let me stay.

It seems so funny to hear her talk such a lot about Father as she
does, when before she never used to mention him - only to say how
afraid she was that I would love him better than I did her, and to
make me say over and over again that I didn't. And I said so one day
to her - I mean, I said I thought it was funny, the way she talked now.

She colored up and bit her lip, and gave a queer little laugh. Then
she grew very sober and grave, and said:

"I know, dear. Perhaps I am talking more than I used to. But, you see,
I've been thinking quite a lot, and I - I've learned some things. And
now, since your father has been so kind and generous in giving you up
to me so much of his time, I - I've grown ashamed; and I'm trying to
make you forget what I said - about your loving me more than him. That
wasn't right, dear. Mother was wrong. She shouldn't try to influence
you against your father. He is a good man; and there are none too many
good men in the world - No, no, I won't say that," she broke off.

But she'd already said it, and, of course, I knew she was thinking of
the violinist. I'm no child.

She went on more after that, quite a lot more. And she said again that
I must love Father and try to please him in every way; and she cried a
little and talked a lot about how hard it was in my position, and
that she was afraid she'd only been making it harder, through her
selfishness, and I must forgive her, and try to forget it. And she
was very sure she'd do better now. And she said that, after all, life
wasn't in just being happy yourself. It was in how much happiness you
could give to others.

Oh, it was lovely! And I cried, and she cried some more, and we
kissed each other, and I promised. And after she went away I felt all
upraised and holy, like you do when you've been to a beautiful church
service with soft music and colored windows, and everybody kneeling.
And I felt as if I'd never be naughty or thoughtless again. And that
I'd never mind being Mary now. Why, I'd be glad to be Mary half the
time, and even more - for Father.

But, alas!

Listen. Would you believe it? Just that same evening Mother stopped me
again laughing too loud and making too much noise playing with Lester;
and I felt real cross. I just boiled inside of me, and said I hated
Mary, and that Mother _was_ getting to be just like Aunt Jane. And
yet, just that morning -

Oh, if only that hushed, stained-window-soft-music feeling _would_

* * * * *


Well, once more school is done, my trunk is all packed, and I'm ready
to go to Andersonville. I leave to-morrow morning. But not as I left
last year. Oh, no. It is very, very different. Why, this year I'm
really _going_ as Mary. Honestly, Mother has turned me into Mary
_before I go_. Now, what do you think of that? And if I've got to be
Mary there and Mary here, too, when can I ever be _Marie_? Oh, I know
I _said_ I'd be willing to be Mary half, and maybe more than half, the
time. But when it comes to really _being_ Mary out of turn extra time,
that is quite another thing.

And I am Mary.


I've learned to cook. That's Mary.

I've been studying astronomy. That's Mary.

I've learned to walk quietly, speak softly, laugh not too loudly, and
be a lady at all times. That's Mary.

And now, to add to all this, Mother has had me _dress_ like Mary. Yes,
she began two weeks ago. She came into my room one morning and said
she wanted to look over my dresses and things; and I could see, by the
way she frowned and bit her lip and tapped her foot on the floor, that
she wasn't suited. And I was glad; for, of course, I always like to
have new things. So I was pleased when she said:

"I think, my dear, that on Saturday we'll have to go in town shopping.
Quite a number of these things will not do at all."

And I was so happy! Visions of new dresses and hats and shoes rose
before me, and even the pink beaded silk came into my mind - though I
didn't really have much hopes of that.

Well, we went shopping on Saturday, but - did we get the pink silk? We
did not. We did get - you'd never guess what. We got two new gingham
dresses, very plain and homely, and a pair of horrid, thick low shoes.
Why, I could have cried! I did 'most cry as I exclaimed:

"Why, Mother, those are _Mary_ things!"

"Of course, they're Mary things," answered Mother, cheerfully - the
kind of cheerfulness that says: "I'm being good and you ought to be."
Then she went on. "That's what I meant to buy - Mary things, as you
call them. Aren't you going to be Mary just next week? Of course, you
are! And didn't you tell me last year, as soon as you got there, Miss
Anderson objected to your clothing and bought new for you? Well, I am
trying to see that she does not have to do that this year."

And then she bought me a brown serge suit and a hat so tiresomely
sensible that even Aunt Jane will love them, I know. And to-morrow
I've got to put them on to go in.

Do you wonder that I say I am Mary already?




Well, I came last night. I had on the brown suit and the sensible hat,
and every turn of the wheels all day had been singing: "Mary, Mary,
now you're Mary!" Why, Mother even _called_ me Mary when she said
good-bye. She came to the junction with me just as she had before, and
put me on the other train.

"Now, remember, dear, you're to try very hard to be a joy and a
comfort to your father - just the little Mary that he wants you to be.
Remember, he has been very kind to let you stay with me so long."

She cried when she kissed me just as she did before; but she didn't
tell me this time to be sure and not love Father better than I did
her. I noticed that. But, of course, I didn't say anything, though I
might have told her easily that I knew nothing could ever make me love
_him_ better than I did _her_.

But I honestly tried, as long as I was dressed like Mary, to feel like
Mary; and I made up my mind that I would _be_ Mary, too, just as well
as I knew how to be, so that even Aunt Jane couldn't find any fault
with me. And I'd try to please Father, and make him not mind my being
there, even if I couldn't make him love me. And as I got to thinking
of it, I was _glad_ that I had on the Mary things, so I wouldn't have
to make any change. Then I could show Aunt Jane that I was really
going to be Mary, right along from the start, when she met me at
the station. And I would show Father, too, if he was at home. And I
couldn't help hoping he _would_ be home this time, and not off to look
at any old stars or eclipses.

When we got to Andersonville, and the train rolled into the station, I
'most forgot, for a minute, and ran down the aisle, so as to get out
quick. I was so excited! But right away I thought of Aunt Jane and
that she might see me; so I slowed down to a walk, and I let quite a
lot of other folks get ahead of me, as I was sure Mary ought to. You
see, I was determined to be a good little Mary from the very start, so
that even Aunt Jane couldn't find a word of fault - not even with my
actions. I knew she couldn't with my clothes!

Well, I stepped down from the cars and looked over to where the
carriages were to find John and Aunt Jane. But they weren't there.
There wasn't even the carriage there; and I can remember now just how
my heart sort of felt sick inside of me when I thought that even Aunt
Jane had forgotten, and that there wasn't anybody to meet me.

There was a beautiful big green automobile there, and I thought how
I wished _that_ had come to meet me; and I was just wondering what I
should do, when all of a sudden somebody spoke my name. And who do you
think it was? You'd never guess it in a month. It was _Father_. Yes,

Why, I could have hugged him, I was so glad. But of course I didn't,
right before all those people. But he was so tall and handsome and
splendid, and I felt so proud to be walking along the platform with
him and letting folks see that he'd come to meet me! But I couldn't
say anything - not anything, the way I wanted to; and all I could do
was to stammer out:

"Why, where's Aunt Jane?"

And that's just the thing I didn't _want_ to say; and I knew it the
minute I'd said it. Why, it sounded as if I missed Aunt Jane, and
wanted _her_ instead of _him_, when all the time I was so pleased and
excited to see him that I could hardly speak.

I don't know whether Father liked it, or minded it. I couldn't tell by
his face. He just kind of smiled, and looked queer, and said that Aunt
Jane - er - couldn't come. Then _I_ felt sorry; for I saw, of course,
that that was why _he_ had come; not because he wanted to, but because
Aunt Jane couldn't, so he had to. And I could have cried, all the
while he was fixing it up about my trunk.

He turned then and led the way straight over to where the carriages
were, and the next minute there was John touching his cap to me;
only it was a brand-new John looking too sweet for anything in a
chauffeur's cap and uniform. And, what do you think? He was helping me
into that beautiful big green car before I knew it.

"Why, Father, Father!" I cried. "You don't mean" - I just couldn't
finish; but he finished for me.

"It is ours - yes. Do you like it?"

"Like it!" I guess he didn't need to have me say any more. But I did
say more. I just raved and raved over that car until Father's eyes
crinkled all up in little smile wrinkles, and he said:

"I'm glad. I hoped you'd like it."

"I guess I do like it!" I cried. Then I went on to tell him how I
thought it was the prettiest one I ever saw, and 'way ahead of even
Mr. Easterbrook's.

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

Now, wasn't it funny he should have remembered that there was a
violinist? But, of course, I told him no, it wasn't the violinist. It
was another one that took Mother to ride, the one I told him about
in the Christmas letter; and he was very rich, and had two perfectly
beautiful cars; and I was going on to tell more - how he didn't take
Mother now - but I didn't get a chance, for Father interrupted, and
said, "Yes, yes, to be sure." And he _showed_ he wasn't interested,
for all the little smile wrinkles were gone, and he looked stern and
dignified, more like he used to. And he went on to say that, as we had
almost reached home, he had better explain right away that Aunt Jane
was no longer living there; that his cousin from the West, Mrs.
Whitney, was keeping house for him now. She was a very nice lady, and
he hoped I would like her. And I might call her "Cousin Grace."

And before I could even draw breath to ask any questions, we were
home; and a real pretty lady, with a light-blue dress on, was helping
me out of the car, and kissing me as she did so.

Now, do you wonder that I have been rubbing my eyes and wondering if I
was really I, and if this was Andersonville? Even now I'm not sure but
it's a dream, and I shall wake up and find I've gone to sleep on the
cars, and that the train is just drawing into the station, and that
John and the horses, and Aunt Jane in her I-don't-care-how-it-looks
black dress are there to meet me.

* * * * *

_One week later_.

It isn't a dream. It's all really, truly true - everything: Father
coming to meet me, the lovely automobile, and the pretty lady in the
light-blue dress, who kissed me. And when I went downstairs the next
morning I found out it was real, 'specially the pretty lady; for she
kissed me again, and said she hoped I'd be happy there. And she never
said one word about dusting one hour and studying one hour and weeding
one hour. (Of course, she couldn't say anything about my clothes, for
I was already in a Mary blue-gingham dress.) She just told me to amuse
myself any way I liked, and said, if I wanted to, I might run over to
see some of the girls, but not to make any plans for the afternoon,
for she was going to take me to ride.

Now, what do you think of that? Go to see the girls in the morning,
and take a ride - an automobile ride! - in the afternoon. _In
Andersonville_! Why, I couldn't believe my ears. Of course, I was wild
and crazy with delight - but it was all so different. Why, I began to
think almost that I was Marie, and not Mary at all.

And it's been that way the whole week through. I've had a beautiful
time. I've been so excited! And Mother is excited, too. Of course, I
wrote her and told her all about it right away. And she wrote right
back and wanted to know everything - everything I could tell her; all
the little things. And she was so interested in Cousin Grace, and
wanted to know all about her; said _she_ never heard of her before,
and was she Father's own cousin, and how old was she, and was she
pretty, and was Father around the house more now, and did I see a lot
of him? She thought from something I said that I did.

I've just been writing her again, and I could tell her more now, of
course, than I could in that first letter. I've been here a whole

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Online LibraryEleanor H. PorterMary Marie → online text (page 10 of 16)