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the way I simply loathe. And she told me never, never to let her
hear me make such a speech as that again. And I said I would be very
careful not to. And you may be sure I shall. I don't want to go
through a scene like that again!

She told Mother about it, though, I think. Anyhow, they were talking
very busily together when they came into the library after dinner that
night, and Mother looked sort of flushed and plagued, and I heard her
say, "Perhaps the child does read too many novels, Hattie."

And Aunt Hattie answered, "Of course she does!" Then she said
something else which I didn't catch, only the words "silly" and
"romantic," and "pre-co-shus." (I don't know what that last means, but
I put it down the way it sounded, and I'm going to look it up.)

Then they turned and saw me, and they didn't say anything more. But
the next morning the perfectly lovely story I was reading, that
Theresa let me take, called "The Hidden Secret," I couldn't find
anywhere. And when I asked Mother if she'd seen it, she said she'd
given it back to Theresa, and that I mustn't ask for it again. That I
wasn't old enough yet to read such stories.

There it is again! I'm not old enough. When _will_ I be allowed to
take my proper place in life? Echo answers when.

Well, to resume and go on.

What was I talking about? Oh, I know - the prospective suitors. (Aunt
Hattie can't hear me when I just _write_ it, anyway.) Well, they all
come just as they used to, only there are more of them now - two fat
men, one slim one, and a man with a halo of hair round a bald spot.
Oh, I don't mean that any of them are really suitors yet. They just
come to call and to tea, and send her flowers and candy. And Mother
isn't a mite nicer to one than she is to any of the others. Anybody
can see that. And she shows very plainly she's no notion of picking
anybody out yet. But of course I can't help being interested and
watching.

It won't be Mr. Harlow, anyway. I'm pretty sure of that, even if he
has started in to get his divorce. (And he has. I heard Aunt Hattie
tell Mother so last week.) But Mother doesn't like him. I'm sure she
doesn't. He makes her awfully nervous. Oh, she laughs and talks with
him - seems as if she laughs even more with him than she does with
anybody else. But she's always looking around for somebody else to
talk to; and I've seen her get up and move off just as he was coming
across the room toward her, and I'm just sure she saw him. There's
another reason, too, why I think Mother isn't going to choose him for
her lover. I heard something she said to him one day.

She was sitting before the fire in the library, and he came in. There
were other people there, quite a lot of them; but Mother was all alone
by the fireplace, her eyes looking fixed and dreamy into the fire. I
was in the window-seat around the corner of the chimney reading; and
I could see Mother in the mirror just as plain as could be. She could
have seen me, too, of course, if she'd looked up. But she didn't.

I never even thought of hearing anything I hadn't ought, and I was
just going to get down to go and speak to Mother myself, when Mr.
Harlow crossed the room and sat down on the sofa beside her.

"Dreaming, Madge?" he said, low and soft, his soulful eyes just
devouring her lovely face. (I read that, too, in a book last week. I
just loved it!)

Mother started and flushed up.

"Oh, Mr. Harlow!" she cried. (Mother always calls him "Mr." That's
another thing. He always calls her "Madge," you know.) "How do you
do?" Then she gave her quick little look around to see if there wasn't
somebody else near for her to talk to. But there wasn't.

"But you _do_ dream, of the old days, sometimes, Madge, don't you?" he
began again, soft and low, leaning a little nearer.

"Of when I was a child and played dolls before this very fireplace?
Well, yes, perhaps I do," laughed Mother. And I could see she drew
away a little. "There was one doll with a broken head that - "

"_I_ was speaking of broken hearts," interrupted Mr. Harlow, very
meaningfully.

"Broken hearts! Nonsense! As if there were such things in the world!"
cried Mother, with a little toss to her head, looking around again
with a quick little glance for some one else to talk to.

But still there wasn't anybody there.

They were all over to the other side of the room talking, and paying
no attention to Mother and Mr. Harlow, only the violinist. He looked
and looked, and acted nervous with his watch-chain. But he didn't come
over. I felt, some way, that I ought to go away and not hear any
more; but I couldn't without showing them that I had been there. So
I thought it was better to stay just where I was. They could see me,
anyway, if they'd just look in the mirror. So I didn't feel that I was
sneaking. And I stayed.

Then Mr. Harlow spoke again. His eyes grew even more soulful and
devouring. I could see them in the mirror.

"Madge, it seems so strange that we should both have had to trail
through the tragedy of broken hearts and lives before we came to our
real happiness. For we _shall_ be happy, Madge. You know I'm to be
free, too, soon, dear, and then we - "

But he didn't finish. Mother put up her hand and stopped him. Her face
wasn't flushed any more. It was very white.

"Carl," she began in a still, quiet voice, and I was so thrilled. I
knew something was going to happen - this time she'd called him by his
first name. "I'm sorry," she went on. "I've tried to show you. I've
tried very hard to show you - without speaking. But if you make me say
it I shall have to say it. Whether you are free or not matters not to
me. It can make no difference in our relationship. Now, will you come
with me to the other side of the room, or must I be so rude as to go
and leave you?"

She got up then, and he got up, too. He said something - I couldn't
hear what it was; but it was sad and reproachful - I'm sure of that by
the look in his eyes. Then they both walked across the room to the
others.

I was sorry for him. I do not want him for a father, but I couldn't
help being sorry for him, he looked so sad and mournful and handsome;
and he's got perfectly beautiful eyes. (Oh, I do hope mine will have
nice eyes, when I find him!)

As I said before, I don't believe Mother'll choose Mr. Harlow, anyway,
even when the time comes. As for any of the others - I can't tell. She
treats them all just exactly alike, as far as I can see. Polite and
pleasant, but not at all lover-like. I was talking to Peter one day
about it, and I asked him. But he didn't seem to know, either, which
one she will be likely to take, if any.

Peter's about the only one I can ask. Of course I couldn't ask
Mother, or Aunt Hattie, after what _she_ said about my calling them
prospective suitors. And Grandfather - well, I should never think
of asking Grandpa a question like that. But Peter - Peter's a real
comfort. I'm sure I don't know what I should do for somebody to talk
to and ask questions about things down here, if it wasn't for him. As
I think I've said already, he takes me to school and back again every
day; so of course I see him quite a lot.

Speaking of school, it's all right, and of course I like it, though
not quite so well as I did. There are some of the girls - well, they
act queer. I don't know what is the matter with them. They stop
talking - some of them - when I come up, and they make me feel,
sometimes, as if I didn't _belong_. Maybe it's because I came from a
little country town like Andersonville. But they've known that all
along, from the very first. And they didn't act at all like that at
the beginning. Maybe it's just their way down here. If I think of it
I'll ask Peter to-morrow.

Well, I guess that's all I can think of this time.

* * * * *

'_Most four months later_.

It's been ages since I've written here, I know. But there's nothing
special happened. Everything has been going along just about as it did
at the first. Oh, there is one thing different - Peter's gone. He went
two months ago. We've got an awfully old chauffeur now. One with gray
hair and glasses, and homely, too. His name is Charles. The very first
day he came, Aunt Hattie told me never to talk to Charles, or bother
him with questions; that it was better he should keep his mind
entirely on his driving.

She needn't have worried. I should never dream of asking him the
things I did Peter. He's too stupid. Now Peter and I got to be real
good friends - until all of a sudden Grandpa told him he might go. I
don't know why.

I don't see as I'm any nearer finding out who Mother's lover will be
than I was four months ago. I suppose it's still too soon. Peter
said one day he thought widows ought to wait at least a year, and he
guessed grass-widows were just the same. My, how mad I was at him for
using that name about my mother! Oh, I knew what he meant. I'd heard
it at school. (I know now what it was that made those girls act so
queer and horrid.) There was a girl - I never liked her, and I suspect
she didn't like me, either. Well, she found out Mother had a divorce.
(You see, _I_ hadn't told it. I remembered how those girls out West
bragged.) And she told a lot of the others. But it didn't work at all
as it had in the West. None of the girls in this school here had a
divorce in their families; and, if you'll believe it, they acted - some
of them - as if it was a _disgrace_, even after I told them good and
plain that ours was a perfectly respectable and genteel divorce.
Nothing I could say made a mite of difference, with some of the
girls, and then is when I first heard that perfectly horrid word,
"grass-widow." So I knew what Peter meant, though I was furious at him
for using it. And I let him see it good and plain.

Of course I changed schools. I knew Mother'd want me to, when she
knew, and so I told her right away. I thought she'd be superb and
haughty and disdainful sure this time. But she wasn't. First she grew
so white I thought she was going to faint away. Then she began to cry,
and kiss and hug me. And that night I heard her talking to Aunt Hattie
and saying, "To think that that poor innocent child has to suffer,
too!" and some more which I couldn't hear, because her voice was all
choked up and shaky.

Mother is crying now again quite a lot. You see, her six months are
'most up, and I've got to go back to Father. And I'm afraid Mother is
awfully unhappy about it. She had a letter last week from Aunt Jane,
Father's sister. I heard her read it out loud to Aunt Hattie and
Grandpa in the library. It was very stiff and cold and dignified, and
ran something like this:

DEAR MADAM: Dr. Anderson desires me to say that he trusts you are
bearing in mind the fact that, according to the decision of the
court, his daughter Mary is to come to him on the first day of
May. If you will kindly inform him as to the hour of her expected
arrival, he will see that she is properly met at the station.

Then she signed her name, Abigail Jane Anderson. (She was named for
her mother, Grandma Anderson, same as Father wanted them to name
me. Mercy! I'm glad they didn't. "Mary" is bad enough, but "Abigail
Jane" - !)

Well, Mother read the letter aloud, then she began to talk about
it - how she felt, and how awful it was to think of giving me up six
whole months, and sending her bright little sunny-hearted Marie into
that tomb-like place with only an Abigail Jane to flee to for refuge.
And she said that she almost wished Nurse Sarah was back again - that
she, at least, was human.

"'And see that she's properly met,' indeed!" went on Mother, with an
indignant little choke in her voice. "Oh, yes, I know! Now if it were
a star or a comet that he expected, he'd go himself and sit for hours
and hours watching for it. But when his daughter comes, he'll send
John with the horses, like enough, and possibly that precious Abigail
Jane of his. Or, maybe that is too much to expect. Oh, Hattie, I can't
let her go - I can't, I can't!"

I was in the window-seat around the corner of the chimney, reading;
and I don't know as she knew I was there. But I was, and I heard. And
I've heard other things, too, all this week.

I'm to go next Monday, and as it comes nearer the time Mother's
getting worse and worse. She's so unhappy over it. And of course that
makes me unhappy, too. But I try not to show it. Only yesterday, when
she was crying and hugging me, and telling me how awful it was that
her little girl should have to suffer, too, I told her not to worry
a bit about me; that I wasn't suffering at all. I _liked_ it. It was
ever so much more exciting to have two homes instead of one. But she
only cried all the more, and sobbed, "Oh, my baby, my baby!" - so
nothing I could say seemed to do one mite of good.

But I meant it, and I told the truth. I _am_ excited. And I can't help
wondering how it's all going to be at Father's. Oh, of course, I know
it won't be so much fun, and I'll have to be "Mary," and all that;
but it'll be something _different_, and I always did like different
things. Besides, there's Father's love story to watch. Maybe _he's_
found somebody. Maybe he didn't wait a year. Anyhow, if he did find
somebody I'm sure he wouldn't be so willing to wait as Mother would.
You know Nurse Sarah said Father never wanted to wait for anything.
That's why he married Mother so quick, in the first place. But if
there is somebody, of course I'll find out when I'm there. So that'll
be interesting. And, anyway, there'll be the girls. I shall have
_them_.

[Illustration: "I TOLD HER NOT TO WORRY A BIT ABOUT ME"]

I'll close now, and make this the end of the chapter. It'll be
Andersonville next time.




CHAPTER V

WHEN I AM MARY


ANDERSONVILLE.

Well, here I am. I've been here two days now, and I guess I'd better
write down what's happened so far, before I forget it.

First, about my leaving Boston. Poor, dear Mother did take on
dreadfully, and I thought she just wouldn't let me go. She went with
me to the junction where I had to change, and put me on the parlor car
for Andersonville, and asked the conductor to look out for me. (As
if I needed that - a young lady like me! I'm fourteen now. I had a
birthday last week.)

But I thought at the last that she just wouldn't let me go, she clung
to me so, and begged me to forgive her for all she'd brought upon me;
and said it was a cruel, cruel shame, when there were children, and
people ought to stop and think and remember, and be willing to stand
anything. And then, in the next breath, she'd beg me not to forget
her, and not to love Father better than I did her. (As if there was
any danger of that!) And to write to her every few minutes.

Then the conductor cried, "All aboard!" and the bell rang, and she
had to go and leave me. But the last I saw of her she was waving her
handkerchief, and smiling the kind of a smile that's worse than crying
right out loud. Mother's always like that. No matter how bad she
feels, at the last minute she comes up bright and smiling, and just as
brave as can be.

I had a wonderful trip to Andersonville. Everybody was very kind to
me, and there were lovely things to see out the window. The conductor
came in and spoke to me several times - not the way you would look
after a child, but the way a gentleman would tend to a lady. I liked
him very much.

There was a young gentleman in the seat in front, too, who was very
nice. He loaned me a magazine, and bought some candy for me; but I
didn't see much more of him, for the second time the conductor came in
he told me he'd found a nice seat back in the car on the shady side.
He noticed the sun came in where I sat, he said. (_I_ hadn't noticed
it specially.) But he picked up my bag and magazine - but I guess he
forgot the candy-box the nice young gentleman in front had just put
on my window-sill, for when I got into my new seat the candy wasn't
anywhere; and of course I didn't like to go back for it. But the
conductor was very nice and kind, and came in twice again to see if I
liked my new seat; and of course I said I did. It was very nice and
shady, and there was a lady and a baby in the next seat, and I played
with the baby quite a lot.

It was heaps of fun to be grown up and traveling alone like that! I
sat back in my seat and wondered and wondered what the next six months
were going to be like. And I wondered, too, if I'd forgotten how to be
"Mary."

"Dear me! How shall I ever remember not to run and skip and laugh loud
or sing, or ask questions, or do _anything_ that Marie wants to do?" I
thought to myself.

And I wondered if Aunt Jane would meet me, and what she would be like.
She came once when I was a little girl, Mother said; but I didn't
remember her.

Well, at last we got to Andersonville. John was there with the horses,
and Aunt Jane, too. Of course I knew she must be Aunt Jane, because
she was with John. The conductor was awfully nice and polite, and
didn't leave me till he'd seen me safe in the hands of Aunt Jane and
John. Then he went back to his train, and the next minute it had
whizzed out of the station, and I was alone with the beginning of my
next six months.

The first beginning was a nice smile, and a "Glad to see ye home,
Miss," from John, as he touched his hat, and the next was a "How do
you do, Mary?" from Aunt Jane. And I knew right off that first minute
that I wasn't going to like Aunt Jane - just the way she said that
"Mary," and the way she looked me over from head to foot.

Aunt Jane is tall and thin, and wears black - not the pretty, stylish
black, but the "I-don't-care" rusty black - and a stiff white collar.
Her eyes are the kind that says, "I'm surprised at you!" all the time,
and her mouth is the kind that never shows any teeth when it smiles,
and doesn't smile much, anyway. Her hair is some gray, and doesn't
kink or curl anywhere; and I knew right off the first minute she
looked at me that she didn't like mine, 'cause it did curl.

I was pretty sure she didn't like my clothes, either. I've since found
out she didn't - but more of that anon. (I just love that word "anon.")
And I just knew she disapproved of my hat. But she didn't say
anything - not in words - and after we'd attended to my trunk, we went
along to the carriage and got in.

My stars! I didn't suppose horses _could_ go so slow. Why, we were
_ages_ just going a block. You see I'd forgotten; and without thinking
I spoke right out.

"My! Horses _are_ slow, aren't they?" I cried. "You see, Grandpa has
an auto, and - "

"Mary!" - just like that she interrupted - Aunt Jane did. (Funny how
old folks can do what they won't let you do. Now if I'd interrupted
anybody like that!) "You may as well understand at once," went on Aunt
Jane, "that we are not interested in your grandfather's auto, or his
house, or anything that is his." (I felt as if I was hearing the
catechism in church!) "And that the less reference you make to your
life in Boston, the better we shall be pleased. As I said before, we
are not interested. Besides, while under your father's roof, it would
seem to me very poor taste, indeed, for you to make constant reference
to things you may have been doing while _not_ under his roof. The
situation is deplorable enough, however you take it, without making it
positively unbearable. You will remember, Mary?"

Mary said, "Yes, Aunt Jane," very polite and proper; but I can tell
you that inside of Mary, _Marie_ was just boiling.

Unbearable, indeed!

We didn't say anything more all the way home. Naturally, _I_ was not
going to, after that speech; and Aunt Jane said nothing. So silence
reigned supreme.

Then we got home. Things looked quite natural, only there was a new
maid in the kitchen, and Nurse Sarah wasn't there. Father wasn't
there, either. And, just as I suspected, 't was a star that was to
blame, only this time the star was the moon - an eclipse; and he'd gone
somewhere out West so he could see it better.

He isn't coming back till next week; and when I think how he made me
come on the first day, so as to get in the whole six months, when all
the time he did not care enough about it to be here himself, I'm just
mad - I mean, the righteously indignant kind of mad - for I can't help
thinking how poor Mother would have loved those extra days with her.

Aunt Jane said I was to have my old room, and so, as soon as I got
here, I went right up and took off my hat and coat, and pretty quick
they brought up my trunk, and I unpacked it; and I didn't hurry about
it either. I wasn't a bit anxious to get downstairs again to Aunt
Jane. Besides, I may as well own up, I was crying - a little. Mother's
room was right across the hall, and it looked so lonesome; and I
couldn't help remembering how different this homecoming was from the
one in Boston, six months ago.

Well, at last I had to go down to dinner - I mean supper - and, by the
way, I made another break on that. I _called_ it dinner right out
loud, and never thought - till I saw Aunt Jane's face.

"_Supper_ will be ready directly," she said, with cold and icy
emphasis. "And may I ask you to remember, Mary, please, that
Andersonville has dinner at _noon_, not at six o'clock."

"Yes, Aunt Jane," said Mary, polite and proper again. (I shan't say
what Marie said inside.)

We didn't do anything in the evening but read and go to bed at nine
o'clock. I _wanted_ to run over to Carrie Heywood's; but Aunt Jane
said no, not till morning. (I wonder why young folks _never_ can do
things when they _want_ to do them, but must always wait till morning
or night or noon, or some other time!)

In the morning I went up to the schoolhouse. I planned it so as to get
there at recess, and I saw all the girls except one that was sick, and
one that was away. We had a perfectly lovely time, only everybody
was talking at once so that I don't know now what was said. But they
seemed glad to see me. I know that. Maybe I'll go to school next week.
Aunt Jane says she thinks I ought to, when it's only the first of May.
She's going to speak to Father when he comes next week.

She was going to speak to him about my clothes; then she decided to
attend to those herself, and not bother him. As I suspected, she
doesn't like my dresses. I found out this morning for sure. She came
into my room and asked to see my things. My! But didn't I hate to show
them to her? Marie said she wouldn't; but Mary obediently trotted to
the closet and brought them out one by one.

Aunt Jane turned them around with the tips of her fingers, all the
time sighing and shaking her head. When I'd brought them all out,
she shook her head again and said they would not do at all - not in
Andersonville; that they were extravagant, and much too elaborate for
a young girl; that she would see the dressmaker and arrange that I had
some serviceable blue and brown serges at once.

Blue and brown serge, indeed! But, there, what's the use? I'm Mary
now, I keep forgetting that; though I don't see how I can forget
it - with Aunt Jane around.

But, listen. A funny thing happened this morning. Something came
up about Boston, and Aunt Jane asked me a question. Then she asked
another and another, and she kept me talking till I guess I talked
'most a whole half-hour about Grandpa Desmond, Aunt Hattie, Mother,
and the house, and what we did, and, oh, a whole lot of things. And
here, just two days ago, she was telling me that she wasn't interested
in Grandpa Desmond, his home, or his daughter, or anything that was
his!

There's something funny about Aunt Jane.

* * * * *

_One week later_.

Father's come. He came yesterday. But I didn't know it, and I came
running downstairs, ending with a little bounce for the last step. And
there, right in front of me in the hall was - _Father_.

I guess he was as much surprised as I was. Anyhow, he acted so. He
just stood stock-still and stared, his face turning all kinds of
colors.

"You?" he gasped, just above his breath. Then suddenly he seemed to
remember. "Why, yes, yes, to be sure. You are here, aren't you? How do
you do, Mary?"

He came up then and held out his hand, and I thought that was all he
was going to do. But after a funny little hesitation he stooped and
kissed my forehead. Then he turned and went into the library with very
quick steps, and I didn't see him again till at the supper-table.

At the supper-table he said again, "How do you do, Mary?" Then he
seemed to forget all about me. At least he didn't say anything more to
me; but three or four times, when I glanced up, I found him looking at
me. But just as soon as I looked back at him he turned his eyes away


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