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love him, I loved him dearly, and I had loved to be with him this
summer, and that I'd stay his whole six months with him next year if
he wanted me to.

He shook his head at that; but he did look happy and pleased, and said
I'd never know how glad he was that I'd said that, and that he should
prize it very highly - the love of his little daughter. He said you
never knew how to prize love, either, till you'd lost it; and he said
he'd learned his lesson, and learned it well. I knew then, of course,
that he was thinking of Mother and the long ago. And I felt so sorry
for him.

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

But again he shook his head.

"No, no, my dear; I thank you, and I'd love to have you; but it is
much better for you that you stay in Boston through the school year,
and I want you to do it. It'll just make the three months I do have
you all the dearer, because of the long nine months that I do not,"
he went on very cheerfully and briskly; "and don't look so solemn and
long-faced. You're not to blame - for this wretched situation."

The train came then, and he put me on board, and he kissed me
again - but I was expecting it this time, of course. Then I whizzed
off, and he was left standing all alone on the platform. And I felt
so sorry for him; and all the way down to Boston I kept thinking of
him - what he said, and how he looked, and how fine and splendid and
any-woman-would-be-proud-of-him he was as he stood on the platform
waving good-bye.

And so I guess I was still thinking of him and being sorry for
him when I got to Boston. That's why I couldn't be so crazy and
hilariously glad when the folks met me, I suspect. Some way, all of a
sudden, I found myself wishing _he_ could be there, too.

Of course, I knew that that was bad and wicked and unkind to Mother,
and she'd feel so grieved not to have me satisfied with her. And I
wouldn't have told her of it for the world. So I tried just as hard as
I could to forget him - on account of Mother, so as to be loyal to her.
And I did 'most forget him by the time I'd got home. But it all came
back again a little later when we were unpacking my trunk.

You see, Mother found the two new white dresses, and the dear little
shoes. I knew then, of course, that she'd have to know all - I mean,
how she hadn't pleased Father, even after all her pains trying to have
me go as Mary.

"Why, Marie, what in the world is this?" she demanded, holding up one
of the new dresses.

I could have cried.

I suppose she saw by my face how awfully I felt 'cause she'd found it.
And, of course, she saw something was the matter; and she thought it
was -

Well, the first thing _I_ knew she was looking at me in her very
sternest, sorriest way, and saying:

"Oh, Marie, how could you? I'm ashamed of you! Couldn't you wear the
Mary dresses one little three months to please your father?"

I did cry, then. After all I'd been through, to have her accuse _me_
of getting those dresses! Well, I just couldn't stand it. And I told
her so as well as I could, only I was crying so by now that I could
hardly speak. I told her how it was hard enough to be Mary part of the
time, and Marie part of the time, when I _knew_ what they wanted me to
be. But when she tried to have me Mary while he wanted me Marie, and
he tried to have me Marie while she wanted me Mary - I did not know
what they wanted; and I wished I had never been born unless I could
have been born a plain Susie or Bessie, or Annabelle, and not a Mary
Marie that was all mixed up till I didn't know what I was.

And then I cried some more.

Mother dropped the dress then, and took me in her arms over on the
couch, and she said, "There, there," and that I was tired and nervous,
and all wrought up, and to cry all I wanted to. And by and by, when I
was calmer I could tell Mother all about it.

And I did.

I told her how hard I tried to be Mary all the way up to Andersonville
and after I got there; and how then I found out, all of a sudden one
day, that father had got ready for _Marie_, and he didn't want me to
be Mary, and that was why he had got Cousin Grace and the automobile
and the geraniums in the window, and, oh, everything that made it nice
and comfy and homey. And then is when they bought me the new white
dresses and the little white shoes. And I told Mother, of course, it
was lovely to be Marie, and I liked it, only I knew _she_ would feel
bad to think, after all _her_ pains to make me Mary, Father didn't
want me Mary at all.

"I don't think you need to worry - about that," stammered Mother. And
when I looked at her, her face was all flushed, and sort of queer, but
not a bit angry. And she went on in the same odd little shaky voice:
"But, tell me, why - why did - your father want you to be Marie and not

And then I told her how he said he'd remembered what I'd said to him
in the parlor that day - how tired I got being Mary, and how I'd put
on Marie's things just to get a little vacation from her; and he said
he'd never forgotten. And so when it came near time for me to come
again, he determined to fix it so I wouldn't have to be Mary at all.
And so that was why. And I told Mother it was all right, and of course
I liked it; only it _did_ mix me up awfully, not knowing which wanted
me to be Mary now, and which Marie, when they were both telling me
different from what they ever had before. And that it was hard, when
you were trying just the best you knew how.

And I began to cry again.

And she said there, there, once more, and patted me on my shoulder,
and told me I needn't worry any more. And that _she_ understood it,
if I didn't. In fact, she was beginning to understand a lot of things
that she'd never understood before. And she said it was very, very
dear of Father to do what he did, and that I needn't worry about her
being displeased at it. That she was pleased, and that she believed he
meant her to be. And she said I needn't think any more whether to be
Mary or Marie; but to be just a good, loving little daughter to both
of them; and that was all she asked, and she was very sure it was all
Father would ask, too.

I told her then how I thought he _did_ care a little about having
me there, and that I knew he was going to miss me. And I told her
why - what he'd said that morning in the junction - about appreciating
love, and not missing things or people until you didn't have them; and
how he'd learned his lesson, and all that.

And Mother grew all flushed and rosy again, but she was pleased. I
knew she was. And she said some beautiful things about making other
people happy, instead of looking to ourselves all the time, just as
she had talked once, before I went away. And I felt again that hushed,
stained-window, soft-music, everybody-kneeling kind of a way; and I
was so happy! And it lasted all the rest of that evening till I went
to sleep.

And for the first time a beautiful idea came to me, when I thought how
Mother was trying to please Father, and he was trying to please her.
Wouldn't it be perfectly lovely and wonderful if Father and Mother
should fall in love with each other all over again, and get married? I
guess _then_ this would be a love story all right, all right!

* * * * *


Oh, how I wish that stained-window, everybody-kneeling feeling _would_
last. But it never does. Just the next morning, when I woke up, it
rained. And I didn't feel pleased a bit. Still I remembered what
had happened the night before, and a real glow came over me at the
beautiful idea I had gone to sleep with.

I wanted to tell Mother, and ask her if it couldn't be, and wouldn't
she let it be, if Father would. So, without waiting to dress me, I
hurried across the hall to her room and told her all about it - my
idea, and everything.

But she said, "Nonsense," and, "Hush, hush," when I asked her if she
and Father couldn't fall in love all over again and get married. And
she said not to get silly notions into my head. And she wasn't a bit
flushed and teary, as she had been the night before, and she didn't
talk at all as she had then, either. And it's been that way ever
since. Things have gone along in just the usual humdrum way, and she's
never been the same as she was that night I came.

Something - a little something - _did_ happen yesterday, though. There's
going to be another big astronomy meeting here in Boston this month,
just as there was when Father found Mother years ago; and Grandfather
brought home word that Father was going to be one of the chief
speakers. And he told Mother he supposed she'd go and hear him.

I couldn't make out whether he was joking or not. (I never can tell
when Grandfather's joking.) But Aunt Hattie took it right up in
earnest, and said, "Pooh, pooh," she guessed not. She could _see_
Madge going down to that hall to hear Dr. Anderson speak!

And then a funny thing happened. I looked at Mother, and I saw her
head come up with a queer little jerk.

"Well, yes, I am thinking of going," she said, just as calm and cool
as could be. "When does he speak, Father?"

And when Aunt Hattie pooh-poohed some more, and asked how _could_ she
do such a thing, Mother answered:

"Because Charles Anderson is the father of my little girl, and I think
she should hear him speak. Therefore, Hattie, I intend to take her."

And then she asked Grandfather again when Father was going to speak.

I'm so excited! Only think of seeing my father up on a big platform
with a lot of big men, and hearing him speak! And he'll be the very
smartest and handsomest one there, too. You see if he isn't!

* * * * *

_Two weeks and one day later_.

Oh, I've got a lot to write this time - I mean, a lot has happened.
Still, I don't know as it's going to take so very long to tell it.
Besides, I'm almost too excited to write, anyway. But I'm going to do
the best I can to tell it, just as it happened.

Father's here - right here in Boston. I don't know when he came. But
the first day of the meeting was day before yesterday, and he was here
then. The paper said he was, and his picture was there, too. There
were a lot of pictures, but his was away ahead of the others. It was
the very best one on the page. (I told you it would be that way.)

Mother saw it first. That is, I think she did. She had the paper in
her hand, looking at it, when I came into the room; but as soon as she
saw me she laid it right down quick on the table. If she hadn't been
quite so quick about it, and if she hadn't looked quite so queer when
she did it, I wouldn't have thought anything at all. But when I went
over to the table after she had gone, and saw the paper with Father's
picture right on the first page - and the biggest picture there - I knew
then, of course, what she'd been looking at.

I looked at it then, and I read what it said, too. It was lovely. Why,
I hadn't any idea Father was so big. I was prouder than ever of him.
It told all about the stars and comets he'd discovered, and the books
he'd written on astronomy, and how he was president of the college at
Andersonville, and that he was going to give an address the next day.
And I read it all - every word. And I made up my mind right there and
then that I'd cut out that piece and save it.

But that night, when I went to the library cupboard to get the paper,
I couldn't do it, after all. Oh, the paper was there, but that page
was gone. There wasn't a bit of it left. Somebody had taken it right
out. I never thought then of Mother. But I believe now that it _was_
Mother, for -

But I mustn't tell you that part now. Stories are just like meals. You
have to eat them - I mean tell them - in regular order, and not put the
ice-cream in where the soup ought to be. So I'm not going to tell yet
why I suspect it was Mother that cut out that page of the paper with
Father's picture in it.

Well, the next morning was Father's lecture, and I went with Mother.
Of course Grandfather was there, too, but he was with the other
astronomers, I guess. Anyhow, he didn't sit with us. And Aunt Hattie
didn't go at all. So Mother and I were alone.

We sat back - a long ways back. I wanted to go up front, real far
front - the front seat, if I could get it; and I told Mother so. But
she said, "Mercy, no!" and shuddered, and went back two more rows from
where she was, and got behind a big post.

I guess she was afraid Father would see us, but that's what _I_
wanted. I wanted him to see us. I wanted him to be right in the middle
of his lecture and look down and see right there before him his little
girl Mary, and she that had been the wife of his bosom. Now _that_
would have been what I called thrilling, real thrilling, especially if
he jumped or grew red, or white, or stammered, or stopped short, or
anything to show that he'd seen us - and cared.

I'd have loved that.

But we sat back where Mother wanted to, behind the post. And, of
course, Father never saw us at all.

It was a lovely lecture. Oh, of course, I don't mean to say that I
understood it. I didn't. But his voice was fine, and he looked just
too grand for anything, with the light on his noble brow, and he used
the loveliest big words that I ever heard. And folks clapped, and
looked at each other, and nodded, and once or twice they laughed. And
when he was all through they clapped again, harder than ever. And I
was so proud of him I wanted to stand right up and holler, "He's my
father! He's my father!" just as loud as I could. But, of course, I
didn't. I just clapped like the rest; only I wished my hands were big
like the man's next to me, so I could have made more noise.

Another man spoke then, a little (not near so good as Father), and
then it was all over, and everybody got up to go; and I saw that a
lot of folks were crowding down the aisle, and I looked and there was
Father right in front of the platform shaking hands with folks.

I looked at Mother then. Her face was all pinky-white, and her eyes
were shining. I guess she thought I spoke, for all of a sudden she
shook her head and said:

"No, no, I couldn't, I couldn't! But _you_ may, dear. Run along and
speak to him; but don't stay. Remember, Mother is waiting, and come
right back."

I knew then that it must have been just my eyes that spoke, for I
_did_ want to go down there and speak to Father. Oh, I did want to go!
And I went then, of course.

He didn't see me at first. There was a long line of us, and a big fat
man was doing a lot of talking to him so we couldn't move at all, for
a time. Then it came to when I was just three people away from him.
And I was looking straight at him.

He saw me then. And, oh, how I did love the look that came to his
face; it was so surprised and glad, and said, "Oh! _You_!" in such a
perfectly lovely way that I choked all up and wanted to _cry_. (The
idea! - cry when I was so _glad_ to see him!)

I guess the two folks ahead of me didn't think they got much
attention, and the next minute he had drawn me out of the line, and we
were both talking at once, and telling each other how glad we were to
see each other.

But he was looking for Mother - I know he was; for the next minute
after he saw me, he looked right over my head at the woman back of me.
And all the while he was talking with me, his eyes would look at me
and then leap as swift as lightning first here, and then there, all
over the hall. But he didn't see her. I knew he didn't see her, by the
look on his face. And pretty quick I said I'd have to go. And then he

"Your mother - perhaps she didn't - _did_ she come?" And his face grew
all red and rosy as he asked the question.

And I said yes, and she was waiting, and that was why I had to go back
right away.

And he said, "Yes, yes, to be sure," and, "good-bye." But he still
held my hand tight, and his eyes were still roving all over the house.
And I had to tell him again that I really had to go; and I had to pull
real determined at my hand, before I could break away. And I don't
believe I could have gone even then if some other folks hadn't come up
at that minute.

I went back to Mother then. The hall was almost empty, and she wasn't
anywhere in sight at all; but I found her just outside the door. I
knew then why Father's face showed that he hadn't found her. She
wasn't there to find. I suspect she had looked out for that.

Her face was still pinky-white, and her eyes were shining; and she
wanted to know everything we had said - everything. So she found out,
of course, that he had asked if she was there. But she didn't say
anything herself, not anything. She didn't say anything, either, at
the luncheon table, when Grandfather was talking with Aunt Hattie
about the lecture, and telling some of the things Father had said.

Grandfather said it was an admirable address, scholarly and
convincing, or something like that. And he said that he thought Dr.
Anderson had improved greatly in looks and manner. And he looked
straight at Mother when he said that; but still Mother never said a

In the afternoon I went to walk with one of the girls; and when I came
in I couldn't find Mother. She wasn't anywhere downstairs, nor in her
room, nor mine, nor anywhere else on that floor. Aunt Hattie said no,
she wasn't out, but that she was sure she didn't know where she was.
She must be somewhere in the house.

I went upstairs then, another flight. There wasn't anywhere else to
go, and Mother must be _somewhere_, of course. And it seemed suddenly
to me as if I'd just _got_ to find her. I _wanted_ her so.

And I found her.

In the little back room where Aunt Hattie keeps her trunks and
moth-ball bags, Mother was on the floor in the corner crying. And when
I exclaimed out and ran over to her, I found she was sitting beside
an old trunk that was open; and across her lap was a perfectly lovely
pale-blue satin dress all trimmed with silver lace that had grown
black. And Mother was crying and crying as if her heart would break.

Of course, I tried and tried to stop her, and I begged her to tell me
what was the matter. But I couldn't do a thing, not a thing, not for
a long time. Then I happened to say what a lovely dress, only what a
pity it was that the lace was all black.

She gave a little choking cry then, and began to talk - little short
sentences all choked up with sobs, so that I could hardly tell what
she was talking about. Then, little by little, I began to understand.

She said yes, it was all black - tarnished; and that it was just like
everything that she had had anything to do with - tarnished: her
life and her marriage, and Father's life, and mine - everything was
tarnished, just like that silver lace on that dress. And she had done
it by her thoughtless selfishness and lack of self-discipline.

And when I tried and tried to tell her no, it wasn't, and that I
didn't feel tarnished a bit, and that she wasn't, nor Father either,
she only cried all the more, and shook her head and began again, all
choked up.

She said this little dress was the one she wore at the big reception
where she first met Father. It was a beautiful blue then, all shining
and spotless, and the silver lace glistened like frost in the
sunlight. And she was so proud and happy when Father - and he was fine
and splendid and handsome then, too, she said - singled her out, and
just couldn't seem to stay away from her a minute all the evening. And
then four days later he asked her to marry him; and she was still more
proud and happy.

And she said their married life, when they started out, was just like
that beautiful dress, all shining and spotless and perfect; but that
it wasn't two months before a little bit of tarnish appeared, and then
another and another.

She said she was selfish and willful and exacting, and wanted Father
all to herself; and she didn't stop to think that he had his work to
do, and his place to make in the world; and that all of living, to
him, wasn't just in being married to her, and attending to her every
whim. She said she could see it all now, but that she couldn't then,
she was too young, and undisciplined, and she'd never been denied a
thing in the world she wanted. As she said that, right before my eyes
rose that box of chocolates she made me eat one at a time; but, of
course, I didn't say anything! Besides, Mother hurried right on

She said things went on worse and worse - and it was all her fault. She
grew sour and cross and disagreeable. She could see now that she did.
But she did not realize at all then what she was doing. She was just
thinking of herself - always herself; her rights, her wrongs, her hurt
feelings, her wants and wishes. She never once thought that _he_ had
rights and wrongs and hurt feelings, maybe.

And so the tarnish kept growing more and more. She said there was
nothing like selfishness to tarnish the beautiful fabric of married
life. (Isn't that a lovely sentence? I said that over and over to
myself so as to be sure and remember it, so I could get it into this
story. I thought it was beautiful.)

She said a lot more - oh, ever so much more; but I can't remember it
all. (I lost some while I was saying that sentence over and over, so
as to remember it.) I know that she went on to say that by and by the
tarnish began to dim the brightness of my life, too; and that was the
worst of all, she said - that innocent children should suffer, and
their young lives be spotted by the kind of living I'd had to have,
with this wretched makeshift of a divided home. She began to cry again
then, and begged me to forgive her, and I cried and tried to tell her
I didn't mind it; but, of course, I'm older now, and I know I do mind
it, though I'm trying just as hard as I can not to be Mary when I
ought to be Marie, or Marie when I ought to be Mary. Only I get all
mixed up so, lately, and I said so, and I guess I cried some more.

Mother jumped up then, and said, "Tut, tut," what was she thinking of
to talk like this when it couldn't do a bit of good, but only made
matters worse. And she said that only went to prove how she was still
keeping on tarnishing my happiness and bringing tears to my bright
eyes, when certainly nothing of the whole wretched business was my

She thrust the dress back into the trunk then, and shut the lid. Then
she took me downstairs and bathed my eyes and face with cold water,
and hers, too. And _she_ began to talk and laugh and tell stories, and
be gayer and jollier than I'd seen her for ever so long. And she was
that way at dinner, too, until Grandfather happened to mention the
reception to-morrow night, and ask if she was going.

She flushed up red then, oh, so red! and said, "Certainly not." Then
she added quick, with a funny little drawing-in of her breath, that
she should let Marie go, though, with her Aunt Hattie.

There was an awful fuss then. Aunt Hattie raised her eyebrows and
threw up her hands, and said:

"That child - in the evening! Why, Madge, are you crazy?"

And Mother said no, she wasn't crazy at all; but it was the only
chance Father would have to see me, and she didn't feel that she had
any right to deprive him of that privilege, and she didn't think it
would do me any harm to be out this once late in the evening. And she
intended to let me go.

Aunt Hattie still didn't approve, and she said more, quite a lot more;
but Grandfather spoke up and took my part, and said that, in his
opinion, Madge was right, quite right, and that it was no more than
fair that the man should have a chance to talk with his own child for
a little while, and that he would be very glad to take me himself and
look after me, if Aunt Hattie did not care to take the trouble.

Aunt Hattie bridled up at that, and said that that wasn't the case at
all; that she'd be very glad to look after me; and if Mother had quite
made up her mind that she wanted me to go, they'd call the matter

And Mother said she had, and so it was settled. And I'm going. I'm to
wear my new white dress with the pink rosebud trimming, and I'm so
excited I can hardly wait till to-morrow night. But - oh, if only
Mother would go, too!

* * * * *

_Two days later_.

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

Very well, then. I went last night with Grandfather and Aunt Hattie
to the reception; and Mother said I looked very sweet, and
any-father-ought-to-be-proud-of me in my new dress. Grandfather patted

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Online LibraryEleanor H. PorterMary Marie → online text (page 12 of 16)