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week, and, of course, I know more about things, and have done more.

I told her that Cousin Grace wasn't really Father's cousin at all, so
it wasn't any wonder she hadn't ever heard of her. She was the wife
of Father's third cousin who went to South America six years ago and
caught the fever and died there. So this Mrs. Whitney isn't really any
relation of his at all. But he'd always known her, even before she
married his cousin; and so, when her husband died, and she didn't have
any home, he asked her to come here.

I don't know why Aunt Jane went away, but she's been gone 'most four
months now, they say here. Nellie told me. Nellie is the maid - I mean
hired girl - here now. (I _will_ keep forgetting that I'm Mary now and
must use the Mary words here.)

I told Mother that she (Cousin Grace) was quite old, but not so old
as Aunt Jane. (I asked Nellie, and Nellie said she guessed she was
thirty-five, but she didn't look a day over twenty-five.) And she _is_
pretty, and everybody loves her. I think even Father likes to have her
around better than he did his own sister Jane, for he sometimes stays
around quite a lot now - after meals, and in the evening, I mean. And
that's what I told Mother. Oh, of course, he still likes his stars the
best of anything, but not quite as well as he used to, maybe - not to
give _all_ his time to them.

I haven't anything especial to write. I'm just having a beautiful
time. Of course, I miss Mother, but I know I'm going to have her again
in just September - I forgot to say that Father is going to let me go
back to school again this year ahead of his time, just as he did last
year.

So you see, really, I'm here only a little bit of a while, as it is
now, and it's no wonder I keep forgetting I am Mary.

I haven't got anything new for the love part of my story. I _am_ sorry
about that. But there just isn't anything, so I'm afraid the book
never will be a love story, anyway.

Of course, I'm not with Mother now, so I don't know whether there's
anything there, or not; but I don't think there will be. And as for
Father - I've pretty nearly given him up. Anyhow, there never used to
be any signs of hope for me there. As for myself - well, I've about
given that up, too. I don't believe they're going to give me any
chance to have anybody till I'm real old - probably not till I'm
twenty-one or two. And I can't wait all that time to finish this book.

* * * * *

_One week later_.

Things are awfully funny here this time. I wonder if it's all Cousin
Grace that makes it so. Anyhow, she's just as different as different
can be from Aunt Jane. And _things_ are different, everywhere.

Why, I forget half the time that I'm Mary. Honestly, I do. I try to be
Mary. I try to move quietly, speak gently, and laugh softly, just as
Mother told me to. But before I know it I'm acting natural again - just
like Marie, you know.

And I believe it _is_ Cousin Grace. She never looks at you in Aunt
Jane's I'm-amazed-at-you way. And she laughs herself a lot, and sings
and plays, too - real pretty lively things; not just hymn tunes. And
the house is different. There are four geraniums in the dining-room
window, and the parlor is open every day. The wax flowers are there,
but the hair wreath and the coffin plate are gone. Cousin Grace
doesn't dress like Aunt Jane, either. She wears pretty white and blue
dresses, and her hair is curly and fluffy.

And so I think all this is why I keep forgetting to be Mary. But, of
course, I understand that Father expects me to be Mary, and so I try
to remember - only I can't. Why, I couldn't even show him how much I
knew about the stars. I tried to the other night. I went out to the
observatory where he was, and asked him questions about the stars.
I tried to seem interested, and was going to tell him how I'd been
studying about them, but he just laughed kind of funny, and said not
to bother my pretty head about such things, but to come in and play to
him on the piano.

So, of course, I did. And he sat and listened to three whole pieces.
Now, wasn't that funny?

* * * * *

_Two weeks later_.

I understand it all now - everything: why the house is different, and
Father, and everything. And it _is_ Cousin Grace, and it _is_ a love
story.

_Father is in love with her_.

_Now_ I guess I shall have something for this book!

It seems funny now that I didn't think of it at first. But I
didn't - not until I heard Nellie and her beau talking about it. Nellie
said she wasn't the only one in the house that was going to get
married. And when he asked her what she meant, she said it was Dr.
Anderson and Mrs. Whitney. That anybody could see it that wasn't as
blind as a bat.

My, but wasn't I excited? I just guess I was. And, of course, I saw
then that I had been blind as a bat. But I began to open my eyes
after that, and watch - not disagreeably, you know, but just glad and
interested, and on account of the book.

And I saw:

That father stayed in the house a lot more than he used to.

That he talked more.

That he never thundered - I mean spoke stern and uncompromising to
Cousin Grace the way he used to to Aunt Jane.

That he smiled more.

That he wasn't so absent-minded at meals and other times, but seemed
to know we were there - Cousin Grace and I.

That he actually asked Cousin Grace and me to play for him several
times.

That he went with us to the Sunday-School picnic. (I never saw Father
at a picnic before, and I don't believe he ever saw himself at one.)

That - oh, I don't know, but a whole lot of little things that I can't
remember; but they were all unmistakable, very unmistakable. And I
wondered, when I saw it all, that I _had_ been as blind as a bat
before.

Of course, I was glad - glad he's going to marry her, I mean. I was
glad for everybody; for Father and Cousin Grace, for they would be
happy, of course, and he wouldn't be lonesome any more. And I was glad
for Mother because I knew she'd be glad that he'd at last found the
good, kind woman to make a home for him. And, of course, I was glad
for myself, for I'd much rather have Cousin Grace here than Aunt Jane,
and I knew she'd make the best new mother of any of them. And last,
but not least, I'm glad for the book, because now I've got a love
story sure. That is, I'm pretty sure. Of course, it may not be so; but
I think it is.

When I wrote Mother I told her all about it - the signs and symptoms, I
mean, and how different and thawed-out Father was; and I asked if she
didn't think it was so, too. But she didn't answer that part. She
didn't write much, anyway. It was an awfully snippy letter; but she
said she had a headache and didn't feel at all well. So that was the
reason, probably, why she didn't say more - about Father's love affair,
I mean. She only said she was glad, she was sure, if Father had found
an estimable woman to make a home for him, and she hoped they'd be
happy. Then she went on talking about something else. And she didn't
write much more, anyway, about anything.

* * * * *

_August_.

Well, of all the topsy-turvy worlds, this is the topsy-turviest, I am
sure. What _do_ they want me to do, and which do they want me to be?
Oh, I wish I was just a plain Susie or Bessie, and not a cross-current
and a contradiction, with a father that wants me to be one thing and
a mother that wants me to be another! It was bad enough before, when
Father wanted me to be Mary, and Mother wanted me to be Marie. But
now -

Well, to begin at the beginning.

It's all over - the love story, I mean, and I know now why it's been so
hard for me to remember to be Mary and why everything is different,
and all.

_They don't want me to be Mary_.

_They want me to be Marie_.

And now I don't know what to think. If Mother's going to want me to
be Mary, and Father's going to want me to be Marie, how am I going to
know what anybody wants, ever? Besides, it was getting to be such a
beautiful love story - Father and Cousin Grace. And now -

But let me tell you what happened.

It was last night. We were on the piazza, Father, Cousin Grace, and
I. And I was thinking how perfectly lovely it was that Father _was_
there, and that he was getting to be so nice and folksy, and how I
_did_ hope it would last, even after he'd married her, and not have
any of that incompatibility stuff come into it. Well, just then
she got up and went into the house for something - Cousin Grace, I
mean - and all of a sudden I determined to tell Father how glad I was,
about him and Cousin Grace; and how I hoped it would last - having him
out there with us, and all that. And I told him.

I don't remember what I said exactly. But I know I hurried on and said
it fast, so as to get in all I could before he interrupted; for he had
interrupted right at the first with an exclamation; and I knew he was
going to say more right away, just as soon as he got a chance. And I
didn't want him to get a chance till I'd said what _I_ wanted to. But
I hadn't anywhere near said what I wanted to when he did stop me. Why,
he almost jumped out of his chair.

"Mary!" he gasped. "What in the world are you talking about?"

"Why, Father, I was telling you," I explained. And I tried to be so
cool and calm that it would make him calm and cool, too. (But it
didn't calm him or cool him one bit.) "It's about when you're married,
and - "

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

"To Cousin Grace - yes. But, Father, you - you _are_ going to marry
Cousin Grace, aren't you?" I cried - and I did 'most cry, for I saw by
his face that he was not.

"That is not my present intention," he said. His lips came together
hard, and he looked over his shoulder to see if Cousin Grace was
coming back.

"But you're going to _sometime_," I begged him.

"I do not expect to." Again he looked over his shoulder to see if she
was coming. I looked, too, and we both saw through the window that she
had gone into the library and lighted up and was sitting at the table
reading.

I fell back in my chair, and I know I looked grieved and hurt and
disappointed, as I almost sobbed:

"Oh, Father, and when I _thought_ you were going to!"

"There, there, child!" He spoke, stern and almost cross now. "This
absurd, nonsensical idea has gone quite far enough. Let us think no
more about it."

"It isn't absurd and nonsensical!" I cried. And I could hardly say the
words, I was choking up so. "Everybody said you were going to, and I
wrote Mother so; and - "

"You wrote that to your mother?" He did jump from his chair this time.

"Yes; and she was glad."

"Oh, she was!" He sat down sort of limp-like and queer.

"Yes. She said she was glad you'd found an estimable woman to make a
home for you."

"Oh, she did." He said this, too, in that queer, funny, quiet kind of
way.

"Yes." I spoke, decided and firm. I'd begun to think, all of a sudden,
that maybe he didn't appreciate Mother as much as she did him; and
I determined right then and there to make him, if I could. When I
remembered all the lovely things she'd said about him -

"Father," I began; and I spoke this time, even more decided and firm.
"I don't believe you appreciate Mother."

"Eh? What?"

He made _me_ jump this time, he turned around with such a jerk, and
spoke so sharply. But in spite of the jump I still held on to my
subject, firm and decided.

"I say I don't believe you appreciate my mother. You acted right now
as if you didn't believe she meant it when I told you she was glad you
had found an estimable woman to make a home for you. But she did mean
it. I know, because she said it before, once, last year, that she
hoped you _would_ find one."

"Oh, she did." He sat back in his chair again, sort of limp-like. But
I couldn't tell yet, from his face, whether I'd convinced him or not.
So I went on.

"Yes, and that isn't all. There's another reason, why I know Mother
always has - has your best interest at heart. She - she tried to make me
over into Mary before I came, so as to please you."

"She did _what_?" Once more he made me jump, he turned so suddenly,
and spoke with such a short, sharp snap.

But in spite of the jump I went right on, just as I had before, firm
and decided. I told him everything - all about the cooking lessons, and
the astronomy book we read an hour every day, and the pink silk
dress I couldn't have, and even about the box of chocolates and the
self-discipline. And how she said if she'd had self-discipline when
she was a girl, her life would have been very different. And I told
him about how she began to hush me up from laughing too loud, or
making any kind of noise, because I was soon to be Mary, and she
wanted me to get used to it, so I wouldn't trouble him when I got
here.

I talked very fast and hurriedly. I was afraid he'd interrupt, and I
wanted to get in all I could before he did. But he didn't interrupt
at all. I couldn't see how he was taking it, though - what I said - for
after the very first he sat back in his chair and shaded his eyes with
his hand; and he sat like that all the time I was talking. He did not
even stir until I said how at the last she bought me the homely shoes
and the plain dark suit so I could go as Mary, and be Mary when Aunt
Jane first saw me get off the train.

When I said that, he dropped his hand and turned around and stared at
me. And there was such a funny look in his eyes.

"I _thought_ you didn't look the same!" he cried; "not so white and
airy and - and - I can't explain it, but you looked different. And yet,
I didn't think it could be so, for I knew you looked just as you did
when you came, and that no one had asked you to - to put on Mary's
things this year."

He sort of smiled when he said that; then he got up and began to walk
up and down the piazza, muttering: "So you _came_ as Mary, you _came_
as Mary." Then, after a minute, he gave a funny little laugh and sat
down.

Mrs. Small came up the front walk then to see Cousin Grace, and Father
told her to go right into the library where Cousin Grace was. So we
were left alone again, after a minute.

It was 'most dark on the piazza, but I could see Father's face in the
light from the window; and it looked - well, I'd never seen it look
like that before. It was as if something that had been on it for years
had dropped off and left it clear where before it had been blurred and
indistinct. No, that doesn't exactly describe it either. I _can't_
describe it. But I'll go on and say what he said.

After Mrs. Small had gone into the house, and he saw that she was
sitting down with Cousin Grace in the library, he turned to me and
said:

"And so you came as Mary?"

I said yes, I did.

"Well, I - I got ready for Marie."

But then I didn't quite understand, not even when I looked at him, and
saw the old understanding twinkle in his eyes.

"You mean - you thought I was coming as Marie, of course," I said then.

"Yes," he nodded.

"But I came as Mary."

"I see now that you did." He drew in his breath with a queer little
catch to it; then he got up and walked up and down the _piazza_ again.
(Why do old folks always walk up and down the room like that when
they're thinking hard about something? Father always does; and Mother
does lots of times, too.) But it wasn't but a minute this time before
Father came and sat down.

"Well, Mary," he began; and his voice sounded odd, with a little shake
in it. "You've told me your story, so I suppose I may as well tell you
mine - now. You see, I not only got ready for Marie, but I had planned
to keep her Marie, and not let her be Mary - at all."

And then he told me. He told me how he'd never forgotten that day
in the parlor when I cried (and made a wet spot on the arm of the
sofa - _I_ never forgot that!), and he saw then how hard it was for me
to live here, with him so absorbed in his work and Aunt Jane so stern
in her black dress. And he said I put it very vividly when I talked
about being Marie in Boston, and Mary here, and he saw just how it
was. And so he thought and thought about it all winter, and wondered
what he could do. And after a time it came to him - he'd let me be
Marie here; that is, he'd try to make it so I could be Marie. And he
was just wondering how he was going to get Aunt Jane to help him when
she was sent for and asked to go to an old friend who was sick. And he
told her to go, by all means to go. Then he got Cousin Grace to come
here. He said he knew Cousin Grace, and he was very sure she would
know how to help him to let me stay Marie. So he talked it over with
her - how they would let me laugh, and sing and play the piano all I
wanted to, and wear the clothes I brought with me, and be just as near
as I could be the way I was in Boston.

"And to think, after all my preparation for Marie, you should _be_
Mary already, when you came," he finished.

"Yes. Wasn't it funny?" I laughed. "All the time _you_ were getting
ready for Marie, Mother was getting me ready to be Mary. It _was_
funny!" And it did seem funny to me then.

But Father was not laughing. He had sat back in his chair, and had
covered his eyes with his hand again, as if he was thinking and
thinking, just as hard as he could. And I suppose it did seem queer
to him, that he should be trying to make me Marie, and all the while
Mother was trying to make me Mary. And it seemed so to me, as I began
to think it over. It wasn't funny at all, any longer.

"And so your mother - did that," Father muttered; and there was the
queer little catch in his breath again.

He didn't say any more, not a single word. And after a minute he got
up and went into the house. But he didn't go into the library where
Mrs. Small and Cousin Grace were talking. He went straight upstairs
to his own room and shut the door. I heard it. And he was still there
when I went up to bed afterwards.

Well, I guess he doesn't feel any worse than I do. I thought at first
it was funny, a good joke - his trying to have me Marie while Mother
was making me over into Mary. But I see now that it isn't. It's awful.
Why, how am I going to know at all who to be - now? Before, I used to
know just when to be Mary, and when to be Marie - Mary with Father,
Marie with Mother. Now I don't know at all. Why, they can't even
seem to agree on that! I suppose it's just some more of that
incompatibility business showing up even when they are apart. And poor
me - I have to suffer for it. I'm beginning to see that the child does
suffer - I mean the child of unlikes.

Now, look at me right now - about my clothes, for instance. (Of
course clothes are a little thing, you may think; but I don't think
anything's little that's always with you like clothes are!) Well, here
all summer, and even before I came, I've been wearing stuffy gingham
and clumpy shoes to please Father. And Father isn't pleased at all. He
wanted me to wear the Marie things.

And there you are.

How do you suppose Mother's going to feel when I tell her that after
all her pains Father didn't like it at all. He wanted me to be Marie.
It's a shame, after all the pains she took. But I won't write it to
her, anyway. Maybe I won't have to tell her, unless she _asks_ me.

But _I_ know it. And, pray, what am I to do? Of course, I can _act_
like Marie here all right, if that is what folks want. (I guess I have
been doing it a good deal of the time, anyway, for I kept forgetting
that I was Mary.) But I can't _wear_ Marie, for I haven't a single
Marie thing here. They're all Mary. That's all I brought.

Oh, dear suz me! Why couldn't Father and Mother have been just the
common live-happy-ever-after kind, or else found out before they
married that they were unlikes?

* * * * *

_September_.

Well, vacation is over, and I go back to Boston to-morrow. It's been
very nice and I've had a good time, in spite of being so mixed up as
to whether I was Mary or Marie. It wasn't so bad as I was afraid it
would be. Very soon after Father and I had that talk on the piazza,
Cousin Grace took me down to the store and bought me two new white
dresses, and the dearest little pair of shoes I ever saw. She said
Father wanted me to have them.

And that's all - every single word that's been said about that
Mary-and-Marie business. And even that didn't really _say_
anything - not by name. And Cousin Grace never mentioned it again. And
Father never mentioned it at all. Not a word.

But he's been queer. He's been awfully queer. Some days he's been just
as he was when I first came this time - real talky and folksy, and as
if he liked to be with us. Then for whole days at a time he'd be more
as he used to - stern, and stirring his coffee when there isn't any
coffee there; and staying all the evening and half the night out in
his observatory.

Some days he's talked a lot with me - asked me questions just as he
used to, all about what I did in Boston, and Mother, and the people
that came there to see her, and everything. And he spoke of the
violinist again, and, of course, this time I told him all about him,
and that he didn't come any more, nor Mr. Easterbrook, either; and
Father was _so_ interested! Why, it seemed sometimes as if he just
couldn't hear enough about things. Then, all of a sudden, at times,
he'd get right up in the middle of something I was saying and act as
if he was just waiting for me to finish my sentence so he could go.
And he did go, just as soon as I _had_ finished my sentence. And after
that, maybe, he wouldn't hardly speak to me again for a whole day.

And so that's why I say he's been so queer since that night on the
piazza. But most of the time he's been lovely, perfectly lovely. And
so has Cousin Grace, And I've had a beautiful time.

But I do wish they _would_ marry - Father and Cousin Grace, I mean. And
I'm not talking now entirely for the sake of the book. It's for their
sakes - especially for Father's sake. I've been thinking what Mother
used to say about him, when she was talking about my being Mary - how
he was lonely, and needed a good, kind woman to make a home for him.
And while I've been thinking of it, I've been watching him; and I
think he does need a good, kind woman to make a home for him. I'd be
_willing_ to have a new mother for his sake!

Oh, yes, I know he's got Cousin Grace, but he may not have her always.
Maybe she'll be sent for same as Aunt Jane was. _Then_ what's he going
to do, I should like to know?




CHAPTER VIII

WHICH IS THE REAL LOVE STORY


BOSTON. _Four days later_.

Well, here I am again in Boston. Mother and the rest met me at the
station, and everybody seemed glad to see me, just as they did before.
And I was glad to see them. But I didn't feel anywhere near so
excited, and sort of crazy, as I did last year. I tried to, but I
couldn't. I don't know why. Maybe it was because I'd been Marie all
summer, anyway, so I wasn't so crazy to be Marie now, not needing any
rest from being Mary. Maybe it was 'cause I sort of hated to leave
Father.

And I did hate to leave him, especially when I found he hated to have
me leave him. And he did. He told me so at the junction. You see, our
train was late, and we had to wait for it; and there was where he told
me.

He had come all the way down there with me, just as he had before. But
he hadn't acted the same at all. He didn't fidget this time, nor walk
over to look at maps and time-tables, nor flip out his watch every
other minute with such a bored air that everybody knew he was seeing
me off just as a duty. And he didn't ask if I was warmly clad, and had
I left anything, either. He just sat and talked to me, and he asked me
had I been a little happier there with him this year than last; and he
said he hoped I had.

And I told him, of course, I had; that it had been perfectly beautiful
there, even if there had been such a mix-up of him getting ready for
Marie, and Mother sending Mary. And he laughed and looked queer - sort
of half glad and half sorry; and said he shouldn't worry about that.
Then the train came, and we got on and rode down to the junction. And
there, while we were waiting for the other train, he told me how sorry
he was to have me go.

He said I would never know how he missed me after I went last year. He
said you never knew how you missed things - and people - till they were
gone. And I wondered if, by the way he said it, he wasn't thinking
of Mother more than he was of me, and of her going long ago. And he
looked so sort of sad and sorry and noble and handsome, sitting there
beside me, that suddenly I 'most wanted to cry. And I told him I _did_


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