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HOME > Classical Novels > Mary Marie9 > CHAPTER VII WHEN I AM NEITHER ONE
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 ANDERSONVILLE. Well, I came last night. I had on the brown suit and the sensible hat, and every turn of the wheels all day had been singing: "Mary, Mary, now you're Mary!" Why, Mother even called me Mary when she said good-bye. She came to the junction1 with me just as she had before, and put me on the other train.
"Now, remember, dear, you're to try very hard to be a joy and a comfort to your father—just the little Mary that he wants you to be. Remember, he has been very kind to let you stay with me so long."
She cried when she kissed me just as she did before; but she didn't tell me this time to be sure and not love Father better than I did her. I noticed that. But, of course, I didn't say anything, though I might have told her easily that I knew nothing could ever make me love him better than I did her.
But I honestly tried, as long as I was dressed like Mary, to feel like Mary; and I made up my mind that I would be Mary, too, just as well as I knew how to be, so that even Aunt Jane couldn't find any fault with me. And I'd try to please Father, and make him not mind my being there, even if I couldn't make him love me. And as I got to thinking of it, I was glad that I had on the Mary things, so I wouldn't have to make any change. Then I could show Aunt Jane that I was really going to be Mary, right along from the start, when she met me at the station. And I would show Father, too, if he was at home. And I couldn't help hoping he would be home this time, and not off to look at any old stars or eclipses.
When we got to Andersonville, and the train rolled into the station, I 'most forgot, for a minute, and ran down the aisle2, so as to get out quick. I was so excited! But right away I thought of Aunt Jane and that she might see me; so I slowed down to a walk, and I let quite a lot of other folks get ahead of me, as I was sure Mary ought to. You see, I was determined3 to be a good little Mary from the very start, so that even Aunt Jane couldn't find a word of fault—not even with my actions. I knew she couldn't with my clothes!
Well, I stepped down from the cars and looked over to where the carriages were to find John and Aunt Jane. But they weren't there. There wasn't even the carriage there; and I can remember now just how my heart sort of felt sick inside of me when I thought that even Aunt Jane had forgotten, and that there wasn't anybody to meet me.
There was a beautiful big green automobile4 there, and I thought how I wished that had come to meet me; and I was just wondering what I should do, when all of a sudden somebody spoke5 my name. And who do you think it was? You'd never guess it in a month. It was Father. Yes, FATHER!
Why, I could have hugged him, I was so glad. But of course I didn't, right before all those people. But he was so tall and handsome and splendid, and I felt so proud to be walking along the platform with him and letting folks see that he'd come to meet me! But I couldn't say anything—not anything, the way I wanted to; and all I could do was to stammer6 out:
"Why, where's Aunt Jane?"
And that's just the thing I didn't want to say; and I knew it the minute I'd said it. Why, it sounded as if I missed Aunt Jane, and wanted her instead of him, when all the time I was so pleased and excited to see him that I could hardly speak.
I don't know whether Father liked it, or minded it. I couldn't tell by his face. He just kind of smiled, and looked queer, and said that Aunt Jane—er—couldn't come. Then I felt sorry; for I saw, of course, that that was why he had come; not because he wanted to, but because Aunt Jane couldn't, so he had to. And I could have cried, all the while he was fixing it up about my trunk.
He turned then and led the way straight over to where the carriages were, and the next minute there was John touching7 his cap to me; only it was a brand-new John looking too sweet for anything in a chauffeur's cap and uniform. And, what do you think? He was helping8 me into that beautiful big green car before I knew it.
"Why, Father, Father!" I cried. "You don't mean"—I just couldn't finish; but he finished for me.
"It is ours—yes. Do you like it?"
"Like it!" I guess he didn't need to have me say any more. But I did say more. I just raved9 and raved over that car until Father's eyes crinkled all up in little smile wrinkles, and he said:
"I'm glad. I hoped you'd like it."
"I guess I do like it!" I cried. Then I went on to tell him how I thought it was the prettiest one I ever saw, and 'way ahead of even Mr. Easterbrook's.
"And, pray, who is Mr. Easterbrook?" asked Father then. "The violinist, perhaps—eh?"
Now, wasn't it funny he should have remembered that there was a violinist? But, of course, I told him no, it wasn't the violinist. It was another one that took Mother to ride, the one I told him about in the Christmas letter; and he was very rich, and had two perfectly10 beautiful cars; and I was going on to tell more—how he didn't take Mother now—but I didn't get a chance, for Father interrupted, and said, "Yes, yes, to be sure." And he showed he wasn't interested, for all the little smile wrinkles were gone, and he looked stern and dignified11, more like he used to. And he went on to say that, as we had almost reached home, he had better explain right away that Aunt Jane was no longer living there; that his cousin from the West, Mrs. Whitney, was keeping house for him now. She was a very nice lady, and he hoped I would like her. And I might call her "Cousin Grace."
And before I could even draw breath to ask any questions, we were home; and a real pretty lady, with a light-blue dress on, was helping me out of the car, and kissing me as she did so.
Now, do you wonder that I have been rubbing my eyes and wondering if I was really I, and if this was Andersonville? Even now I'm not sure but it's a dream, and I shall wake up and find I've gone to sleep on the cars, and that the train is just drawing into the station, and that John and the horses, and Aunt Jane in her I-don't-care-how-it-looks black dress are there to meet me.
One week later.
It isn't a dream. It's all really, truly true—everything: Father coming to meet me, the lovely automobile, and the pretty lady in the light-blue dress, who kissed me. And when I went downstairs the next morning I found out it was real, 'specially12 the pretty lady; for she kissed me again, and said she hoped I'd be happy there. And she never said one word about dusting one hour and studying one hour and weeding one hour. (Of course, she couldn't say anything about my clothes, for I was already in a Mary blue-gingham dress.) She just told me to amuse myself any way I liked, and said, if I wanted to, I might run over to see some of the girls, but not to make any plans for the afternoon, for she was going to take me to ride.
Now, what do you think of that? Go to see the girls in the morning, and take a ride—an automobile ride!—in the afternoon. In Andersonville! Why, I couldn't believe my ears. Of course, I was wild and crazy with delight—but it was all so different. Why, I began to think almost that I was Marie, and not Mary at all.
And it's been that way the whole week through. I've had a beautiful time. I've been so excited! And Mother is excited, too. Of course, I wrote her and told her all about it right away. And she wrote right back and wanted to know everything—everything I could tell her; all the little things. And she was so interested in Cousin Grace, and wanted to know all about her; said she never heard of her before, and was she Father's own cousin, and how old was she, and was she pretty, and was Father around the house more now, and did I see a lot of him? She thought from something I said that I did.
I've just been writing her again, and I could tell her more now, of course, than I could in that first letter. I've been here a whole week, and, of course, I know more about things, and have done more.
I told her that Cousin Grace wasn't really Father's cousin at all, so it wasn't any wonder she hadn't ever heard of her. She was the wife of Father's third cousin who went to South America six years ago and caught the fever and died there. So this Mrs. Whitney isn't really any relation of his at all. But he'd always known her, even before she married his cousin; and so, when her husband died, and she didn't have any home, he asked her to come here.
I don't know why Aunt Jane went away, but she's been gone 'most four months now, they say here. Nellie told me. Nellie is the maid—I mean hired girl—here now. (I will keep forgetting that I'm Mary now and must use the Mary words here.)
I told Mother that she (Cousin Grace) was quite old, but not so old as Aunt Jane. (I asked Nellie, and Nellie said she guessed she was thirty-five, but she didn't look a day over twenty-five.) And she is pretty, and everybody loves her. I think even Father likes to have her around better than he did his own sister Jane, for he sometimes stays around quite a lot now—after meals, and in the evening, I mean. And that's what I told Mother. Oh, of course, he still likes his stars the best of anything, but not quite as well as he used to, maybe—not to give all his time to them.
I haven't anything especial to write. I'm just having a beautiful time. Of course, I miss Mother, but I know I'm going to have her again in just September—I forgot to say that Father is going to let me go back to school again this year ahead of his time, just as he did last year.
So you see, really, I'm here only a little bit of a while, as it is now, and it's no wonder I keep forgetting I am Mary.
I haven't got anything new for the love part of my story. I am sorry about that. But there just isn't anything, so I'm afraid the book never will be a love story, anyway.
Of course, I'm not with Mother now, so I don't know whether there's anything there, or not; but I don't think there will be. And as for Father—I've pretty nearly given him up. Anyhow, there never used to be any signs of hope for me there. As for myself—well, I've about given that up, too. I don't believe they're going to give me any chance to have anybody till I'm real old—probably not till I'm twenty-one or two. And I can't wait all that time to finish this book.
One week later.
Things are awfully13 funny here this time. I wonder if it's all Cousin Grace that makes it so. Anyhow, she's just as different as different can be from Aunt Jane. And things are different, everywhere.
Why, I forget half the time that I'm Mary. Honestly, I do. I try to be
Mary. I try to move quietly, speak gently, and laugh softly, just as
Mother told me to. But before I know it I'm acting14 natural again—just
like Marie, you know.
And I believe it is Cousin Grace. She never looks at you in Aunt Jane's I'm-amazed-at-you way. And she laughs herself a lot, and sings and plays, too—real pretty lively things; not just hymn15 tunes16. And the house is different. There are four geraniums in the dining-room window, and the parlor17 is open every day. The wax flowers are there, but the hair wreath and the coffin18 plate are gone. Cousin Grace doesn't dress like Aunt Jane, either. She wears pretty white and blue dresses, and her hair is curly and fluffy19.
And so I think all this is why I keep forgetting to be Mary. But, of course, I understand that Father expects me to be Mary, and so I try to remember—only I can't. Why, I couldn't even show him how much I knew about the stars. I tried to the other night. I went out to the observatory20 where he was, and asked him questions about the stars. I tried to seem interested, and was going to tell him how I'd been studying about them, but he just laughed kind of funny, and said not to bother my pretty head about such things, but to come in and play to him on the piano.
So, of course, I did. And he sat and listened to three whole pieces.
Now, wasn't that funny?
Two weeks later.
I understand it all now—everything: why the house is different, and Father, and everything. And it is Cousin Grace, and it is a love story.
Father is in love with her.
Now I guess I shall have something for this book!
It seems funny now that I didn't think of it at first. But I didn't—not until I heard Nellie and her beau talking about it. Nellie said she wasn't the only one in the house that was going to get married. And when he asked her what she meant, she said it was Dr. Anderson and Mrs. Whitney. That anybody could see it that wasn't as blind as a bat.
My, but wasn't I excited? I just guess I was. And, of course, I saw then that I had been blind as a bat. But I began to open my eyes after that, and watch—not disagreeably, you know, but just glad and interested, and on account of the book.
And I saw:
That father stayed in the house a lot more than he used to.
That he talked more.
That he never thundered—I mean spoke stern and uncompromising to
Cousin Grace the way he used to to Aunt Jane.
That he smiled more.
That he wasn't so absent-minded at meals and other times, but seemed to know we were there—Cousin Grace and I.
That he actually asked Cousin Grace and me to play for him several times.
That he went with us to the Sunday-School picnic. (I never saw Father at a picnic before, and I don't believe he ever saw himself at one.)
That—oh, I don't know, but a whole lot of little things that I can't remember; but they were all unmistakable, very unmistakable. And I wondered, when I saw it all, that I had been as blind as a bat before.
Of course, I was glad—glad he's going to marry her, I mean. I was glad for everybody; for Father and Cousin Grace, for they would be happy, of course, and he wouldn't be lonesome any more. And I was glad for Mother because I knew she'd be glad that he'd at last found the good, kind woman to make a home for him. And, of course, I was glad for myself, for I'd much rather have Cousin Grace here than Aunt Jane, and I knew she'd make the best new mother of any of them. And last, but not least, I'm glad for the book, because now I've got a love story sure. That is, I'm pretty sure. Of course, it may not be so; but I think it is.
When I wrote Mother I told her all about it—the signs and symptoms, I mean, and how different and thawed-out Father was; and I asked if she didn't think it was so, too. But she didn't answer that part. She didn't write much, anyway. It was an awfully snippy letter; but she said she had a headache and didn't feel at all well. So that was the reason, probably, why she didn't say more—about Father's love affair, I mean. She only said she was glad, she was sure, if Father had found an estimable woman to make a home for him, and she hoped they'd be happy. Then she went on talking about something else. And she didn't writ............
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