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discouraged when he got back from that one.

But he's asked me to do other things. The next day after the walk he
asked me to play to him. Yes, he _asked_ me to; and he went into the
parlor and sat down on one of the chairs and listened while I played
three pieces. Of course, I didn't play loud ones, nor very fast ones,
and I was so scared I'm afraid I didn't play them very well. But he
was very polite and said, "Thank you, Mary," and, "That that was very
nice"; then he stood up and said, "Thank you" again and went away into
the library, very polite, but stiff, like company.

The next evening he took me out to the observatory to see the stars.
That was lovely. Honestly I had a perfectly beautiful time, and I
think Father did, too. He wasn't stiff and polite one bit. Oh, I don't
mean that he was _impolite_ or rude. It's just that he wasn't stiff
as if I was company. And he was so happy with his stars and his
telescope, and so glad to show them to me - oh, I had a beautiful time,
and I told him so; and he looked real pleased. But Aunt Jane came for
me before I'd had half enough, and I had to go to bed.

The next morning I thought he'd be different, somehow, because we'd
had such a lovely time together the night before. But he wasn't. He
just said, "Good-morning, Mary," and began to read his paper. And he
read his paper all through breakfast without saying another word to
me. Then he got up and went into the library, and I never saw him
again all day except at dinner-time and supper-time, and _then_ he
didn't talk to me.

But after supper he took me out again to see the stars, and he was
just as nice and friendly as could be. Not a bit like a man that's
only a father by order of the court. But the next day - !

Well - and that's the way it's been all the week. And that's why I say
he's been so queer. One minute he'll be just as nice and folksy as you
could ask anybody to be, and the very next he's looking right through
you as if he didn't see you at all, and you wonder and wonder what's
the matter, and if you've done anything to displease him.

Sometimes he seems almost glad and happy, and then he'll look so sorry
and sad!

I just can't understand my father at all.

* * * * *

_Another week later_.

I'm so excited I don't know what to do. The most wonderful thing has
happened. I can't hardly believe it yet myself. Yet it's so. My trunk
is all packed, and I'm to go home to-morrow. _To-morrow!_

This is the way it happened.

Mother wrote Aunt Jane and asked if I might not be allowed to come
home for the opening of school in September. She said she understood
quite well that she had no _right_ to ask this, and, of course, if
they saw fit, they were entirely within their rights to refuse to
allow me to go until the allotted time. But that she could not help
asking it for my sake, on account of the benefit to be derived from
being there at the opening of the school year.

Of course, I didn't know Mother was going to write this. But she knew
all about the school here, and how I came out, and everything. I've
always told Mother everything that has happened. Oh, of course, I
haven't written "every few minutes," as she asked me to. (That was a
joke, anyway, of course.) But I have written every few days, and, as I
said before, I told her everything.

Well, when the letter came I took it to Aunt Jane myself; and I was
_crazy_ to know what was in it, for I recognized the writing, of
course. But Aunt Jane didn't tell me. She opened it, read it, kind of
flushed up, and said, "Humph! The idea!" under her breath, and put the
letter in her pocket.

Marie wanted to make a scene and insist on knowing what was in her own
mother's letter; but Mary contented herself with looking superb and
haughty and disdainful, and marching out of the room without giving
Aunt Jane the satisfaction of even being asked what was in that
letter.

But at the table that noon Aunt Jane read it to Father out loud. So
that's how I came to know just what was in it. She started first to
hand it over to him to read; but as he put out his hand to take it I
guess he saw the handwriting, for he drew back quickly, looking red
and queer.

"From Mrs. Anderson to you?" he asked. And when Aunt Jane nodded her
head he sat still farther back in his chair and said, with a little
wave of his hand, "I never care to read - other people's letters."

Aunt Jane said, "Stuff and nonsense, Charles, don't be silly!" But she
pulled back the letter and read it - after giving a kind of an uneasy
glance in my direction.

Father never looked up once while she was reading it. He kept his eyes
on his plate and the baked beans he was eating. I watched him. You
see, I knew, by Aunt Jane's reading the letter to him, that it was
something he had got to decide; and when I found out what it was, of
course, I was just crazy. I wanted to go so. So I watched Father's
face to see if he was going to let me go. But I couldn't make out. I
couldn't make out at all. It changed - oh, yes, it changed a great deal
as she read; but I couldn't make out what kind of a change it was at
all.

Aunt Jane finished the letter and began to fold it up. I could see she
was waiting for Father to speak; but he never said a word. He kept
right on - eating beans.

Then Aunt Jane cleared her throat and spoke.

"You will not let her go, of course, Charles; but naturally I had to
read the letter to you. I will write to Mrs. Anderson to-night."

Father looked up then.

"Yes," he said quietly; "and you may tell her, please, that Mary
_will_ go."

"Charles!"

Aunt Jane said that. But I - I almost ran around the table and hugged
him. (Oh, how I wish he was the kind of a father you could do that
to!)

"Charles!" said Aunt Jane again. "Surely you aren't going to give in
so tamely as this to that child and her mother!"

"I'm not giving in at all, Jane," said Father, very quietly again. "I
am consulting my own wishes in the matter. I prefer to have her go."

_I_ 'most cried out then. Some way, it _hurt_ to have him say it like
that, right out - that he _wanted_ me to go. You see, I'd begun to
think he was getting so he didn't mind so very much having me here.
All the last two weeks he'd been different, really different. But more
of that anon. I'll go on with what happened at the table. And, as I
said, I did feel bad to have him speak like that. And I can remember
now just how the lump came right up in my throat.

Then Aunt Jane spoke, stiff and dignified.

"Oh, very well, of course, if you put it that way. I can quite well
understand that you would want her to go - for _your_ sake. But I
thought that, under the circumstances, you would manage somehow to put
up with the noise and - "

"Jane!" Just like that he interrupted, and he thundered, too, so that
Aunt Jane actually jumped. And I guess I did, too. He had sprung to
his feet. "Jane, let us close this matter once for all. I am not
letting the child go for _my_ sake. I am letting her go for her own.
So far as I am concerned, if I consulted no one's wishes but my own, I
should - keep her here always."

With that he turned and strode from the room, leaving Aunt Jane and me
just staring after him.

But only for a minute did _I_ stare. It came to me then what he had
said - that he would like to keep me here _always_. For I had heard it,
even if he had said the last word very low, and in a queer, indistinct
voice. I was sure I had heard it, and I suddenly realized what it
meant. So I ran after him; and that time, if I had found him, I think
I _would_ have hugged him. But I didn't find him. He must have gone
quite away from the house. He wasn't even out to the observatory. I
went out to see.

He didn't come in all the afternoon. I watched for that, too. And when
he did come - well, I wouldn't have dared to hug him then. He had his
very sternest I-am-not-thinking-of-you-at-all air, and he just came
in to supper and then went into the library without saying hardly
anything. Yet, some way, the look on his face made me cry. I don't
know why.

The next day he was more as he has been since we had that talk in the
parlor. And he _has_ been different since then, you know. He really
has. He has talked quite a lot with me, as I have said, and I think
he's been trying, part of the time, to find something I'll be
interested in. Honestly, I think he's been trying to make up
for Carrie Heywood and Stella Mayhew and Charlie Smith and Mr.
Livingstone. I think that's why he took me to walk that day in the
woods, and why he took me out to the observatory to see the stars
quite a number of times. Twice he's asked me to play to him, and once
he asked me if Mary wasn't about ready to dress up in Marie's clothes
again. But he was joking then, I knew, for Aunt Jane was right there
in the house. Besides, I saw the twinkle in his eyes that I've seen
there once or twice before. I just love that twinkle in Father's eyes!

But that hasn't come any since Mother's letter to Aunt Jane arrived.
He's been the same in one way, yet different in another. Honestly, if
it didn't seem too wildly absurd for anything, I should say he was
actually sorry to have me go. But, of course, that isn't possible. Oh,
yes, I know he said that day at the dinner-table that he should like
to keep me always. But I don't think he really meant it. He hasn't
acted a mite like that since, and I guess he said it just to hush up
Aunt Jane, and make her stop arguing the matter.

Anyway, I'm _going_ to-morrow. And I'm so excited I can hardly
breathe.




CHAPTER VI

WHEN I AM BOTH TOGETHER


BOSTON AGAIN.

Well, I came last night. Mother and Grandfather and Aunt Hattie and
Baby Lester all met me at the station. And, my! wasn't I glad to see
them? Well, I just guess I was!

I was specially glad on account of having such a dreadful time with
Father that morning. I mean, I was feeling specially lonesome and
homesick, and not-belonging-anywhere like.

You see, it was this way: I'd been sort of hoping, I know, that at
the last, when I came to really go, Father would get back the
understanding smile and the twinkle, and show that he really _did_
care for me, and was sorry to have me go. But, dear me! Why, he
never was so stern and solemn, and
you're-my-daughter-only-by-the-order-of-the-court sort of way as he
was that morning.

He never even spoke at the breakfast-table. (He wasn't there hardly
long enough to speak, anyway, and he never ate a thing, only his
coffee - I mean he drank it.) Then he pushed his chair back from the
table and stalked out of the room.

He went to the station with me; but he didn't talk there much, only to
ask if I was sure I hadn't forgotten anything, and was I warmly clad.
Warmly clad, indeed! And there it was still August, and hot as it
could be! But that only goes to show how absent-minded he was, and how
little he was really thinking of _me_!

Well, of course, he got my ticket and checked my trunk, and did all
those proper, necessary things; then we sat down to wait for the
train. But did he stay with me and talk to me and tell me how glad he
had been to have me with him, and how sorry he was to have me go, and
all the other nice, polite things 'most everybody thinks they've got
to say when a visitor goes away? He did not. He asked me again if I
was sure I had not left anything, and was I warmly clad; then he took
out his newspaper and began to read. That is, he pretended to read;
but I don't believe he read much, for he never turned the sheet once;
and twice, when I looked at him, he was looking fixedly at me, as if
he was thinking of something. So I guess he was just pretending to
read, so he wouldn't have to talk to me.

But he didn't even do that long, for he got up and went over and
looked at a map hanging on the wall opposite, and at a big time-table
near the other corner. Then he looked at his watch again with a
won't-that-train-ever-come? air, and walked back to me and sat down.

And how do you suppose _I_ felt, to have him act like that before all
those people - to show so plainly that he was just longing to have me
go? I guess he wasn't any more anxious for that train to come than _I_
was. And it did seem as if it never would come, too. And it didn't
come for ages. It was ten minutes late.

Oh, I did so hope he wouldn't go down to the junction. It's so hard to
be taken care of "because it's my duty, you know"! But he went. I told
him he needn't, when he was getting on the train with me. I told him I
just knew I could do it beautifully all by myself, almost-a-young lady
like me. But he only put his lips together hard, and said, cold, like
ice: "Are you then so eager to be rid of me?" Just as if _I_ was the
one that was eager to get rid of somebody!

Well, as I said, he went. But he wasn't much better on the train than
he had been in the station. He was as nervous and fidgety as a witch,
and he acted as if he did so wish it would be over and over quick. But
at the junction - at the junction a funny thing happened. He put me on
the train, just as Mother had done, and spoke to the conductor. (How
I hated to have him do that! Why, I'm six whole months older, 'most,
than I was when I went up there!) And then when he'd put me in my
seat (Father, I mean; not the conductor), all of a sudden he leaned
over and kissed me; _kissed me - Father_! Then, before I could speak,
or even look at him, he was gone; and I didn't see him again, though
it must have been five whole minutes before that train went.

I had a nice trip down to Boston, though nothing much happened. This
conductor was not near so nice and polite as the one I had coming up;
and there wasn't any lady with a baby to play with, nor any nice young
gentleman to loan me magazines or buy candy for me. But it wasn't a
very long ride from the junction to Boston, anyway. So I didn't mind.
Besides, I knew I had Mother waiting for me.

And wasn't I glad to get there? Well, I just guess I was! And _they_
acted as if they were glad to see me - Mother, Grandfather, Aunt
Hattie, and even Baby Lester. He knew me, and remembered me. He'd
grown a lot, too. And they said I had, and that I looked very nice. (I
forgot to say that, of course, I had put on the Marie clothes to come
home in - though I honestly think Aunt Jane wanted to send me home in
Mary's blue gingham and calfskin shoes. As if I'd have appeared in
Boston in _that_ rig!)

My, but it was good to get into an automobile again and just _go_! And
it was so good to have folks around you dressed in something besides
don't-care black alpaca and stiff collars. And I said so. And Mother
seemed so pleased.

"You did want to come back to me, darling, didn't you?" she cried,
giving me a little hug. And she looked so happy when I told her all
over again how good it seemed to be Marie again, and have her and
Boston, and automobiles, and pretty dresses and folks and noise again.

She didn't say anything about Father then; but later, when we were up
in my pretty room alone, and I was taking off my things, she made me
tell her that Father _hadn't_ won my love away from her, and that I
_didn't_ love him better than I did her; and that I _wouldn't_ rather
stay with him than with her.

Then she asked me a lot of questions about what I did there, and Aunt
Jane, and how she looked, and Father, and was he as fond of stars as
ever (though she must have known 'most everything, 'cause I'd already
written it, but she asked me just the same). And she seemed real
interested in everything I told her.

And she asked was he lonesome; and I told her no, I didn't think so;
and that, anyway, he could have all the ladies' company he wanted by
just being around when they called. And when she asked what I meant, I
told her about Mrs. Darling, and the rest, and how they came evenings
and Sundays, and how Father didn't like them, but would flee to the
observatory. And she laughed and looked funny, for a minute. But right
away she changed and looked very sober, with the kind of expression
she has when she stands up in church and says the Apostles' Creed on
Sunday; only this time she said she was very sorry, she was sure; that
she hoped my father would find some estimable woman who would make a
good home for him.

Then the dinner-gong sounded, and she didn't say any more.

There was company that evening. The violinist. He brought his violin,
and he and Mother played a whole hour together. He's awfully handsome.
I think he's lovely. Oh, I do so hope he's _the_ one! Anyhow, I hope
there's _some_ one. I don't want this novel to all fizzle out without
there being _any_ one to make it a love story! Besides, as I said
before, I'm particularly anxious that Mother shall find somebody to
marry her, so she'll stop being divorced, anyway.

* * * * *

_A month later_.

Yes, I know it's been _ages_ since I've written here in this book; but
there just hasn't been a minute's time.

First, of course, school began, and I had to attend to that. And, of
course, I had to tell the girls all about Andersonville - except the
parts I didn't want to tell, about Stella Mayhew, and my coming out of
school. I didn't tell _that_. And right here let me say how glad I was
to get back to this school - a real school - so different from that one
up in Andersonville! For that matter, _everything's_ different here
from what it is in Andersonville. I'd so much rather be Marie than
Mary. I know I won't ever be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde here. I'll be the
good one all the time.

It's funny how much easier it is to be good in silk stockings and a
fluffy white dress than it is in blue gingham and calfskin. Oh, I'll
own up that Marie forgets sometimes and says things Mary used to say;
like calling Olga a hired girl instead of a maid, as Aunt Hattie
wants, and saying dinner instead of luncheon at noon, and some other
things.

I heard Aunt Hattie tell Mother one day that it was going to take
about the whole six months to break Mary Marie of those outlandish
country ways of hers. (So, you see, it isn't all honey and pie even
for Marie. This trying to be Mary and Marie, even six months apart,
isn't the easiest thing ever was!) I don't think Mother liked it very
well - what Aunt Hattie said about my outlandish ways. I didn't hear
all Mother said, but I knew by the way she looked and acted, and the
little I did hear, that she didn't care for that word "outlandish"
applied to her little girl - not at all.

Mother's a dear. And she's so happy! And, by the way, I think it _is_
the violinist. He's here a lot, and she's out with him to concerts
and plays, and riding in his automobile. And she always puts on her
prettiest dresses, and she's very particular about her shoes, and her
hats, that they're becoming, and all that. Oh, I'm so excited! And I'm
having such a good time watching them! Oh, I don't mean watching them
in a disagreeable way, so that they _see_ it; and, of course, I don't
listen - not the sneak kind of listening. But, of course, I have to get
all I can - for the book, you know; and, of course, if I just happen
to be in the window-seat corner in the library and hear things
accidentally, why, that's all right.

And I have heard things.

He says her eyes are lovely. He likes her best in blue. He's very
lonely, and he never found a woman before who really understood him.
He thinks her soul and his are tuned to the same string. (Oh, dear!
That sounds funny and horrid, and not at all the way it did when _he_
said it. It was beautiful then. But - well, that is what it meant,
anyway.)

She told him she was lonely, too, and that she was very glad to
have him for a friend; and he said he prized her friendship above
everything else in the world. And he looks at her, and follows her
around the room with his eyes; and she blushes up real pink and pretty
lots of times when he comes into the room.

Now, if that isn't making love to each other, I don't know what _is_.
I'm sure he's going to propose. Oh, I'm so excited!

Oh, yes, I know if he does propose and she says yes, he'll be my new
father. I understand that. And, of course, I can't help wondering how
I'll like it. Sometimes I think I won't like it at all. Sometimes I
almost catch myself wishing that I didn't have to have any new father
or mother. I'd _never_ need a new mother, anyway, and I wouldn't need
a new father if my father-by-order-of-the-court would be as nice as he
was there two or three times in the observatory.

But, there! After all, I must remember that I'm not the one that's
doing the choosing. It's Mother. And if she wants the violinist I
mustn't have anything to say. Besides, I really like him very much,
anyway. He's the best of the lot. I'm sure of that. And that's
something. And then, of course, I'm glad to have something to make
this a love story, and best of all I would be glad to have Mother stop
being divorced, anyway.

Mr. Harlow doesn't come here any more, I guess. Anyway, I haven't seen
him here once since I came back; and I haven't heard anybody mention
his name.

Quite a lot of the others are here, and there are some new ones. But
the violinist is here most, and Mother seems to go out with him most
to places. That's why I say I think it's the violinist.

I haven't heard from Father.

Now just my writing that down that way shows that I _expected_ to hear
from him, though I don't really see why I should, either. Of course,
he never _has_ written to me; and, of course, I understand that I'm
nothing but his daughter by order of the court. But, some way, I did
think maybe he'd write me just a little bit of a note in answer to
mine - my bread-and-butter letter, I mean; for of course, Mother had me
write that to him as soon as I got here.

But he hasn't.

I wonder how he's getting along, and if he misses me any. But of
course, he doesn't do _that_. If I was a star, now - !

* * * * *

_Two days after Thanksgiving_.

The violinist has got a rival. I'm sure he has. It's Mr. Easterbrook.
He's old - much as forty - and bald-headed and fat, and has got lots of
money. And he's a very estimable man. (I heard Aunt Hattie say that.)
He's awfully jolly, and I like him. He brings me the loveliest boxes
of candy, and calls me Puss. (I don't like _that_, particularly. I'd
prefer him to call me Miss Anderson.) He's not nearly so good-looking
as the violinist. The violinist is lots more thrilling, but I
shouldn't wonder if Mr. Easterbrook was more comfortable to live with.

The violinist is the kind of a man that makes you want to sit up and
take notice, and have your hair and finger nails and shoes just right;
but with Mr. Easterbrook you wouldn't mind a bit sitting in a big
chair before the fire with a pair of old slippers on, if your feet
were tired.

Mr. Easterbrook doesn't care for music. He's a broker. He looks
awfully bored when the violinist is playing, and he fidgets with his
watch-chain, and clears his throat very loudly just before he
speaks every time. His automobile is bigger and handsomer than the
violinist's. (Aunt Hattie says the violinist's automobile is a hired
one.) And Mr. Easterbrook's flowers that he sends to Mother are
handsomer, too, and lots more of them, than the violinist's. Aunt
Hattie has noticed that, too. In fact, I guess there isn't anything
about Mr. Easterbrook that she doesn't notice.

Aunt Hattie likes Mr. Easterbrook lots better than she does the
violinist. I heard her talking to Mother one day. She said that any
one that would look twice at a lazy, shiftless fiddler with probably
not a dollar laid by for a rainy day, when all the while there was
just waiting to be picked an estimable gentleman of independent
fortune and stable position like Mr. Easterbrook - well, she had her
opinion of her; that's all. She meant Mother, of course. _I_ knew
that. I'm no child.

Mother knew it, too; and she didn't like it. She flushed up and bit
her lip, and answered back, cold, like ice.

"I understand, of course, what you mean, Hattie; but even if I
acknowledged that this very estimable, unimpeachable gentleman was
waiting to be picked (which I do not), I should have to remind you
that I've already had one experience with an estimable, unimpeachable
gentleman of independent fortune and stable position, and I do not
care for another."

"But, my dear Madge," began Aunt Hattie again, "to marry a man without
_any_ money - "

"I haven't married him yet," cut in Mother, cold again, like ice. "But
let me tell you this, Hattie. I'd rather live on bread and water in
a log cabin with the man I loved than in a palace with an estimable,


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