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Our trunks are 'most packed, and Mother says she wishes she'd planned
to go to-day. I've said good-bye to all the girls, and promised to
write loads of letters about Boston and everything. They are almost as
excited as I am; and I've promised, "cross my heart and hope to die,"
that I won't love those Boston girls better than I do them - specially
Carrie Heywood, of course, my dearest friend.

Nurse Sarah is hovering around everywhere, asking to help, and
pretending she's sorry we're going. But she isn't sorry. She's glad.
I know she is. She never did appreciate Mother, and she thinks she'll
have everything her own way now. But she won't. _I_ could tell her a
thing or two if I wanted to. But I shan't.

Father's sister, Aunt Jane Anderson, from St. Paul, is coming to keep
house for him, partly on account of Father, and partly on account of
me. "If that child is going to be with her father six months of the
time, she's got to have some woman there beside a meddling old nurse
and a nosey servant girl!" They didn't know I heard that. But I did.
And now Aunt Jane is coming. My! how mad Nurse Sarah would be if she
knew. But she doesn't.

I guess I'll end this chapter here and begin a fresh one down in
Boston. Oh, I do so wonder what it'll be like - Boston, Mother's home,
Grandpa Desmond, and all the rest. I'm so excited I can hardly wait.
You see, Mother never took me home with her but once, and then I was a
very small child. I don't know why, but I guess Father didn't want me
to go. It's safe to say he didn't, anyway. He never wants me to do
anything, hardly. That's why I suspect him of not wanting me to go
down to Grandpa Desmond's. And Mother didn't go only once, in ages.

Now this will be the end. And when I begin again it will be in Boston.
Only think of it - really, truly Boston!




CHAPTER IV

WHEN I AM MARIE


BOSTON.

Yes, I'm here. I've been here a week. But this is the first minute
I've had a chance to write a word. I've been so busy just being here.
And so has Mother. There's been such a lot going on since we came. But
I'll try now to begin at the beginning and tell what happened.

Well, first we got into Boston at four o'clock Monday afternoon, and
there was Grandpa Desmond to meet us. He's lovely - tall and dignified,
with grayish hair and merry eyes like Mother's, only his are behind
glasses. At the station he just kissed Mother and me and said he was
glad to see us, and led us to the place where Peter was waiting with
the car. (Peter drives Grandpa's automobile, and _he's_ lovely, too.)

Mother and Grandpa talked very fast and very lively all the way home,
and Mother laughed quite a lot. But in the hall she cried a little,
and Grandpa patted her shoulder, and said, "There, there!" and told
her how glad he was to get his little girl back, and that they were
going to be very happy now and forget the past. And Mother said, yes,
yes, indeed, she knew she was; and she was _so_ glad to be there,
and that everything _was_ going to be just the same, wasn't it?
Only - then, all of a sudden she looked over at me and began to cry
again - only, of course, things couldn't be "just the same," she
choked, hurrying over to me and putting both arms around me, and
crying harder than ever.

Then Grandpa came and hugged us both, and patted us, and said, "There,
there!" and pulled off his glasses and wiped them very fast and very
hard.

But it wasn't only a minute or two before Mother was laughing again,
and saying, "Nonsense!" and "The idea!" and that this was a pretty way
to introduce her little Marie to her new home! Then she hurried me to
the dearest little room I ever saw, right out of hers, and took off my
things. Then we went all over the house. And it's just as lovely as
can be - not at all like Father's in Andersonville.

Oh, Father's is fine and big and handsome, and all that, of course;
but not like this. His is just a nice place to eat and sleep in, and
go to when it rains. But this - this you just want to live in all the
time. Here there are curtains 'way up and sunshine, and flowers in
pots, and magazines, and cozy nooks with cushions everywhere; and
books that you've just been reading laid down. (_All_ Father's books
are in bookcases, _always_, except while one's in your hands being
read.)

Grandpa's other daughter, Mother's sister, Hattie, lives here and
keeps house for Grandpa. She has a little boy named Lester, six years
old; and her husband is dead. They were away for what they called a
week-end when we came, but they got here a little after we did Monday
afternoon; and they're lovely, too.

The house is a straight-up-and-down one with a back and front, but no
sides except the one snug up to you on the right and left. And there
isn't any yard except a little bit of a square brick one at the back
where they have clothes and ash barrels, and a little grass spot in
front at one side of the steps, not big enough for our old cat to
take a nap in, hardly. But it's perfectly lovely inside; and it's
the insides of houses that really count just as it is the insides
of people - their hearts, I mean; whether they're good and kind, or
hateful and disagreeable.

We have dinner at night here, and I've been to the theater twice
already in the afternoon. I've got to go to school next week, Mother
says, but so far I've just been having a good time. And so's Mother.
Honestly, it has just seemed as if Mother couldn't crowd the days full
enough. She hasn't been still a minute.

Lots of her old friends have been to see her; and when there hasn't
been anybody else around she's taken Peter and had him drive us all
over Boston to see things; - all kinds of things; Bunker Hill and
museums, and moving pictures, and one play.

But we didn't stay at the play. It started out all right, but pretty
soon a man and a woman on the stage began to quarrel. They were
married (not really, but in the play, I mean), and I guess it was some
more of that incompatibility stuff. Anyhow, as they began to talk
more and more, Mother began to fidget, and pretty soon I saw she was
gathering up our things; and the minute the curtain went down after
the first act, she says:

"Come, dear, we're going home. It - it isn't very warm here."

As if I didn't know what she was really leaving for! Do old folks
honestly think they are fooling us all the time, I wonder? But even if
I hadn't known then, I'd have known it later, for that evening I heard
Mother and Aunt Hattie talking in the library.

No, I didn't listen. I _heard_. And that's a very different matter.
You listen when you mean to, and that's sneaking. You hear when you
can't help yourself, and that you can't be blamed for. Sometimes it's
your good luck, and sometimes it's your bad luck - just according to
what you hear!

Well, I was in the window-seat in the library reading when Mother and
Aunt Hattie came in; and Mother was saying:

"Of course I came out! Do you suppose I'd have had that child see that
play, after I realized what it was? As if she hasn't had enough of
such wretched stuff already in her short life! Oh, Hattie, Hattie, I
want that child to laugh, to sing, to fairly tingle with the joy of
living every minute that she is with me. I know so well what she _has_
had, and what she will have - in that - tomb. You know in six months she
goes back - "

Mother saw me then, I know; for she stopped right off short, and after
a moment began to talk of something else, very fast. And pretty quick
they went out into the hall again.

Dear little Mother! Bless her old heart! Isn't she the ducky dear to
want me to have all the good times possible now so as to make up for
the six months I've got to be with Father? You see, she knows what it
is to live with Father even better than I do.

Well, I guess she doesn't dread it for me any more than I do for
myself. Still, I'll have the girls there, and I'm dying to see them
again - and I won't have to stay home much, only nights and meals, of
course, and Father's always pretty busy with his stars and comets and
things. Besides, it's only for six months, then I can come back to
Boston. I can keep thinking of that.

But I know now why I've been having such a perfectly beautiful time
all this week, and why Mother has been filling every minute so full of
fun and good times. Why, even when we're at home here, she's always
hunting up little Lester and getting him to have a romp with us.

But of course next week I've got to go to school, and it can't be
quite so jolly then. Well, I guess that's all for this time.

* * * * *

_About a month later_.

I didn't make a chapter of that last. It wasn't long enough. And,
really, I don't know as I've got much to add to it now. There's
nothing much happened.

I go to school now, and don't have so much time for fun. School is
pretty good, and there are two or three girls 'most as nice as the
ones at Andersonville. But not quite. Out of school Mother keeps
things just as lively as ever, and we have beautiful times. Mother is
having a lovely time with her own friends, too. Seems as if there is
always some one here when I get home, and lots of times there are teas
and parties, and people to dinner.

There are gentlemen, too. I suppose one of them will be Mother's lover
by and by; but of course I don't know which one yet. I'm awfully
interested in them, though. And of course it's perfectly natural that
I should be. Wouldn't _you_ be interested in the man that was going to
be your new father? Well, I just guess you would! Anybody would. Why,
most folks have only one father, you know, and they have to take that
one just as he is; and it's all a matter of chance whether they get
one that's cross or pleasant; or homely or fine and grand-looking; or
the common kind you can hug and kiss and hang round his neck, or the
stand-off-don't-touch-me-I-mustn't-be-disturbed kind like mine. I mean
the one I _did_ have. But, there! that doesn't sound right, either;
for of course he's still my father just the same, only - well, he isn't
Mother's husband any more, so I suppose he's only my father by order
of the court, same as I'm his daughter.

Well, anyhow, he's the father I've grown up with, and of course I'm
used to him now. And it's an altogether different matter to think of
having a brand-new father thrust upon you, all ready-made, as you
might say, and of course I _am_ interested. There's such a whole lot
depends on the father. Why, only think how different things would have
been at home if _my_ father had been different! There were such a lot
of things I had to be careful not to do - and just as many I had to be
careful _to_ do - on account of Father.

And so now, when I see all these nice young gentlemen (only they
aren't all young; some of them are quite old) coming to the house and
talking to Mother, and hanging over the back of her chair, and handing
her tea and little cakes, I can't help wondering which, if any, is
going to be her lover and my new father. And I am also wondering what
I'll have to do on account of him when I get him, if I get him.

There are quite a lot of them, and they're all different. They'd make
very different kinds of fathers, I'm sure, and I'm afraid I wouldn't
like some of them. But, after all, it's Mother that ought to settle
which to have - not me. _She's_ the one to be pleased. 'T would be such
a pity to have to change again. Though she could, of course, same as
she did Father, I suppose.

As I said, they're all different. There are only two that are anywhere
near alike, and they aren't quite the same, for one's a lawyer and the
other's in a bank. But they both carry canes and wear tall silk hats,
and part their hair in the middle, and look at you through the kind of
big round eyeglasses with dark rims that would make you look awfully
homely if they didn't make you look so stylish. But I don't think
Mother cares very much for either the lawyer or the bank man, and I'm
glad. I wouldn't like to live with those glasses every day, even if
they are stylish. I'd much rather have Father's kind.

Then there's the man that paints pictures. He's tall and slim, and
wears queer ties and long hair. He's always standing back and looking
at things with his head on one side, and exclaiming "Oh!" and "Ah!"
with a long breath. He says Mother's coloring is wonderful. I heard
him. And I didn't like it very well, either. Why, it sounded as if
she put it on herself out of a box on her bureau, same as some other
ladies do! Still, he's not so bad, maybe; though I'm not sure but what
his paints and pictures would be just as tiresome to live with as
Father's stars, when it came right down to wanting a husband to live
with you and talk to you every day in the year. You know you have to
think of such things when it comes to choosing a new father - I mean
a new husband. (I keep forgetting that it's Mother and not me that's
doing the choosing.)

Well, to resume and go on. There's the violinist. I mustn't forget
him. But, then, nobody could forget him. He's lovely: so handsome and
distinguished-looking with his perfectly beautiful dark eyes and white
teeth. And he plays - well, I'm simply crazy over his playing. I only
wish Carrie Heywood could hear him. She thinks her brother can play.
He's a traveling violinist with a show; and he came home once to
Andersonville. And I heard him. But he's not the real thing at all.
Not a bit. Why, he might be anybody, our grocer, or the butcher, up
there playing that violin. His eyes are little and blue, and his hair
is red and very short. I wish she could hear _our_ violinist play!

And there's another man that comes to the parties and teas; - oh, of
course there are others, lots of them, married men with wives, and
unmarried men with and without sisters. But I mean another man
specially. His name is Harlow. He's a little man with a brown pointed
beard and big soft brown eyes. He's really awfully good-looking, too.
I don't know what he does do; but he's married. I know that. He never
brings his wife, though; but Mother's always asking for her, clear and
distinct, and she always smiles, and her voice kind of tinkles like
little silver bells. But just the same he never brings her.

He never takes her anywhere. I heard Aunt Hattie tell Mother so at the
very first, when he came. She said they weren't a bit happy together,
and that there'd probably be a divorce before long. But Mother asked
for her just the same the very next time. And she's done it ever
since.

I think I know now why she does. I found out, and I was simply
thrilled. It was so exciting! You see, they were lovers once
themselves - Mother and this Mr. Harlow. Then something happened and
they quarreled. That was just before Father came.

Of course Mother didn't tell me this, nor Aunt Hattie. It was two
ladies. I heard them talking at a tea one day. I was right behind
them, and I couldn't get away, so I just couldn't help hearing what
they said.

They were looking across the room at Mother. Mr. Harlow was talking to
her. He was leaning forward in his chair and talking so earnestly to
Mother; and he looked just as if he thought there wasn't another soul
in the room but just they two. But Mother - Mother was just listening
to be polite to company. Anybody could see that. And the very first
chance she got she turned and began to talk to a lady who was standing
near. And she never so much as looked toward Mr. Harlow again.

The ladies in front of me laughed then, and one of them said, with a
little nod of her head, "I guess Madge Desmond Anderson can look out
for herself all right."

Then they got up and went away without seeing me. And all of a sudden
I felt almost sorry, for I wanted them to see me. I wanted them to see
that I knew my mother could take care of herself, too, and that I was
proud of it. If they had turned I'd have said so. But they didn't
turn.

I shouldn't like Mr. Harlow for a father. I know I shouldn't. But
then, there's no danger, of course, even if he and Mother were lovers
once. He's got a wife now, and even if he got a divorce, I don't
believe Mother would choose him.

But of course there's no telling which one she will take. As I said
before, I don't know. It's too soon, anyway, to tell. I suspect it
isn't any more proper to hurry up about getting married again when
you've been _un_married by a divorce than it is when you've been
unmarried by your husband's dying. I asked Peter one day how soon
folks did get married after a divorce, but he didn't seem to know.
Anyway, all he said was to stammer: "Er - yes, Miss - no, Miss. I mean,
I don't know, Miss."

Peter is awfully funny. But he's nice. I like him, only I can't find
out much by him. He's very good-looking, though he's quite old. He's
almost thirty. He told me. I asked him. He takes me back and forth to
school every day, so I see quite a lot of him. And, really, he's
about the only one I _can_ ask questions of here, anyway. There isn't
anybody like Nurse Sarah used to be. Olga, the cook, talks so funny I
can't understand a word she says, hardly. Besides, the only two times
I've been down to the kitchen Aunt Hattie sent for me; and she told
me the last time not to go any more. She didn't say why. Aunt Hattie
never says _why_ not to do things. She just says, "Don't." Sometimes
it seems to me as if my whole life had been made up of "don'ts."
If they'd only tell us part of the time things to "_do_," maybe we
wouldn't have so much time to do the "_don'ts_." (That sounds funny,
but I guess folks'll know what I mean.)

Well, what was I saying? Oh, I know - about asking questions. As I
said, there isn't anybody like Nurse Sarah here. I can't understand
Olga, and Theresa, the other maid, is just about as bad. Aunt Hattie's
lovely, but I can't ask questions of her. She isn't the kind. Besides,
Lester's always there, too; and you can't discuss family affairs
before children. Of course there's Mother and Grandpa Desmond. But
questions like when it's proper for Mother to have lovers I can't ask
of _them_, of course. So there's no one but Peter left to ask. Peter's
all right and very nice, but he doesn't seem to know _anything_ that I
want to know. So he doesn't amount to so very much, after all.

I'm not sure, anyway, that Mother'll want to get married again. From
little things she says I rather guess she doesn't think much of
marriage, anyway. One day I heard her say to Aunt Hattie that it was
a very pretty theory that marriages were made in heaven, but that the
real facts of the case were that they were made on earth. And another
day I heard her say that one trouble with marriage was that the
husband and wife didn't know how to play together and to rest
together. And lots of times I've heard her say little things to Aunt
Hattie that showed how unhappy _her_ marriage had been.

But last night a funny thing happened. We were all in the library
reading after dinner, and Grandpa looked up from his paper and said
something about a woman that was sentenced to be hanged and how a
whole lot of men were writing letters protesting against having a
woman hanged; but there were only one or two letters from women. And
Grandpa said that only went to prove how much more lacking in a sense
of fitness of things women were than men. And he was just going to say
more when Aunt Hattie bristled up and tossed her chin, and said, real
indignantly:

"A sense of fitness of things, indeed! Oh, yes, that's all very well
to say. There are plenty of men, no doubt, who are shocked beyond
anything at the idea of hanging a woman; but those same men will think
nothing of going straight home and making life for some other woman so
absolutely miserable that she'd think hanging would be a lucky escape
from something worse."

"Harriet!" exclaimed Grandpa in a shocked voice.

"Well, I mean it!" declared Aunt Hattie emphatically. "Look at poor
Madge here, and that wretch of a husband of hers!"

And just here is where the funny thing happened. Mother bristled
up - _Mother_ - and even more than Aunt Hattie had. She turned red and
then white, and her eyes blazed.

"That will do, Hattie, please, in my presence," she said, very cold,
like ice. "Dr. Anderson is not a wretch at all. He is an honorable,
scholarly gentleman. Without doubt he meant to be kind and
considerate. He simply did not understand me. We weren't suited to
each other. That's all."

And she got up and swept out of the room.

Now wasn't that funny? But I just loved it, all the same. I always
love Mother when she's superb and haughty and disdainful.

Well, after she had gone Aunt Hattie looked at Grandpa and Grandpa
looked at Aunt Hattie. Grandpa shrugged his shoulders, and gave his
hands a funny little flourish; and Aunt Hattie lifted her eyebrows and
said:

"Well, what do you know about that?" (Aunt Hattie forgot I was in the
room, I know, or she'd never in the world have used slang like that!)
"And after all the things she's said about how unhappy she was!"
finished Aunt Hattie.

Grandpa didn't say anything, but just gave his funny little shrug
again.

And it was kind of queer, when you come to think of it - about Mother,
I mean, wasn't it?

* * * * *

_One month later_.

Well, I've been here another whole month, and it's growing nicer all
the time. I just love it here. I love the sunshine everywhere, and the
curtains up to let it in. And the flowers in the rooms, and the little
fern-dish on the dining-room table, the books and magazines just lying
around ready to be picked up; Baby Lester laughing and singing all
over the house, and lovely ladies and gentlemen in the drawing-room
having music and tea and little cakes when I come home from school
in the afternoon. And I love it not to have to look up and watch and
listen for fear Father's coming in and I'll be making a noise. And
best of all I love Mother with her dancing eyes and her laugh, and her
just being happy, with no going in and finding her crying or looking
long and fixedly at nothing, and then turning to me with a great big
sigh, and a "Well, dear?" that just makes you want to go and cry
because it's so hurt and heart-broken. Oh, I do just love it all!

And Mother _is_ happy. I'm sure she is. Somebody is doing something
for her every moment - seems so. They are so glad to get her back
again. I know they are. I heard two ladies talking one day, and they
said they were. They called her "Poor Madge," and "Dear Madge," and
they said it was a shame that she should have had such a wretched
experience, and that they for one should try to do everything they
could to make her forget.

And that's what they all seem to be trying to do - to make her forget.
There isn't a day goes by but that somebody sends flowers or books
or candy, or invites her somewhere, or takes her to ride or to the
theater, or comes to see her, so that Mother is in just one whirl of
good times from morning till night. Why, she'd just have to forget.
She doesn't have any time to remember. I think she _is_ forgetting,
too. Oh, of course she gets tired, and sometimes rainy days or
twilights I find her on the sofa in her room not reading or anything,
and her face looks 'most as it used to sometimes after they'd been
having one of their incompatibility times. But I don't find her that
way very often, and it doesn't last long. So I really think she is
forgetting.

About the prospective suitors - I found that "prospective suitor" in a
story a week ago, and I just love it. It means you probably will want
to marry her, you know. I use it all the time now - in my mind - when
I'm thinking about those gentlemen that come here (the unmarried
ones). I forgot and used it out loud one day to Aunt Hattie; but I
shan't again. She said, "Mercy!" and threw up her hands and looked
over to Grandpa the way she does when I've said something she thinks
is perfectly awful.

But I was firm and dignified - but very polite and pleasant - and I said
that I didn't see why she should act like that, for of course they
were prospective suitors, the unmarried ones, anyway, and even some of
the married ones, maybe, like Mr. Harlow, for of course they could get
divorces, and -

"Ma_rie_!" interrupted Aunt Hattie then, before I could say another
word, or go on to explain that of course Mother couldn't be expected
to stay unmarried _always_, though I was very sure she wouldn't
get married again until she'd waited long enough, and until it was
perfectly proper and genteel for her to take unto herself another
husband.

But Aunt Hattie wouldn't even listen. And she threw up her hands and
said "Ma_rie_!" again with the emphasis on the last part of the name


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