From The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors (Harper & Brothers Publishers; New York: 1908)
Automobile. (Painted red, with yellow lines.)
Automatic reel. (The 3-dollar kind.)
New stamp-book. (The puppy chewed my other.)
Golly, I forgot. I suppose I mustn't use this, but it's my birthday next month, and I want 'steen things, and I thought I'd better make a list to pin on the dining-room door, where the family could take their pick what to give me. Lorraine gave me this blank-book, and told me that if I'd write down everything that I knew about Peggy and Harry Goward and all that stuff, she'd have Sally make me three pounds of crumbly cookies with currants on top, in a box, to keep in my room just to eat myself, and she wouldn't tell Alice, so I won't be selfish not to offer her any as she won't know about it and so won't suffer. I'm going to keep them in the extra bureau drawer where Peg puts her best party dress, so I guess they'll be et up before anybody goes there.
Peggy's feeling pretty sick now to dress up for parties, but I know a thing or two that the rest don't know. Wouldn't Alice be hopping! She always thinks she's wise to everything, and to have a thick-headed boy-person know a whacking secret that they'd all be excited about would make her mad enough to burst. She thinks she can read my in-grown soul too — but I rather think I have my own interior thoughts that Miss Alice doesn't tumble to. For instance, Dr. Denbigh.
Golly, I forgot. Lorraine said she'd cut down the cookies if things weren't told orderly the way they happened. So I've got to begin back. First then, I've had the best time since Peggy got engaged that I've ever had in my own home. Not quite as unbossed as when they sent me on the Harris farm last summer, and I slept in the stable if I wanted to, and nobody asked if I'd taken a bath. That was a sensible way to live, but yet it's been unpecked at and pleasant even at home lately. You see, with such a lot of fussing about Peggy and Harry Goward, nobody has noticed what I did, and that, to a person with a taste for animals, is one of the best states of living. I've gone to the table without brushing my hair, and the puppy has slept in my bed, and I've kept a toad behind the wash-basin for two weeks, and though Lena, the maid, knew about it, she shut up and was decent because she didn't want to worry mother. A toad is such an unusual creature to live with. I've got a string to his hind leg, but yet he gets into places where you don't expect him, and it's very interesting. Lena seemed to think it wasn't nice to have him in the towels in the wash-stand drawer, but I didn't care. It doesn't hurt the towels and it's cosey for the toad.
I had a little snake — a stunner — but Lena squealed when she found him in my collars, so I had to take him away. He looked awfully cunning inside the collars, but Lena wouldn't stand for him, so I let well enough alone and tried to be contented with the toad and the puppy and some June-bugs I've got in boxes in the closet, and my lizard — next to mother, he's my best friend — I've had him six months. I'm not sure I wouldn't rather lose mother than him, because you can get a step-mother, but it's awfully difficult to replace a lizard like Diogenes.
I wonder if Lorraine will think I've written too much about my animals? They're more fun than Peggy anyway, and as for Harry Goward — golly! The toad or lizard that couldn't be livelier than he is would be a pretty sad animal.
A year ago I was fishing one day away up the river, squatting under a bush on a bank, when Peggy and Dr. Denbigh came and plumped right over my head. They didn't see me — but it wasn't up to me. They were looking the other way, so they didn't notice my fish-line either. They weren't noticing much of life as it appeared to me except their personal selves. I thought if they wouldn't disturb me I wouldn't disturb them. At first I didn't pay attention to what they were saying, because there was a chub and a trout together after my bait, and I naturally was excited to see if the trout would take it. But when I'd lost both of them I had time to listen.
I wouldn't have believed it of Dr. Denbigh, to bother about a girl like Peg, who can't do anything. And he's a whale, just a whale. He's six feet-two, and strong as an ox. He went through West Point before he degraded himself into a doctor, and he held the record there for shot-putting, and was on the foot-ball team, and even now, when he's very old and of course can't last long, he plays the best tennis in Eastridge. He went to the Spanish War — quite awhile ago that was, but yet in modern times — and he was at San Juan. You can see he's a jim dandy — and him to be wasting time on Peggy — it's sickening! Even for a girl she's poor stuff. I don't mean, of course, that she's not all right in a moral direction, and I wouldn't let anybody else abuse her. Everybody says she's pretty, and I suppose she is, in a red-headed way, and she's awfully kind, you know, but athletically — that's what I'm talking about — she doesn't amount to a row of pins. She can't fish or play tennis or ride or anything.
Yet all the same it's true, I distinctly heard him say he loved her better than anything on earth. I don't think he could have meant better than Rapscallion; he's awfully fond of that horse. Probably he forgot Rapscallion for the moment. Anyhow, Peg was sniffling and saying how she was going back to college — it was the Easter vacation — and how she was only a stupid girl and he would forget her. And he said he'd never forget her one minute all his life — which was silly, for I've often forgotten really important things. Once I forgot to stop at Lorraine's for a tin of hot gingerbread she'd had Sally make for me to entirely eat by myself, and Alice got it and devoured it all up, the pig! Anyway, Dr. Denbigh said that, and then Peggy sniffled some more, and I heard him ask her:
“What is it, dear?”
“Dear,” your grandmother. She said, then, why wouldn't he let her be engaged to him like anybody else, and it was hard on a girl to have to beg a man to be engaged, and then he laughed a little and they didn't either of them say anything for a while, but there were soft, rustling sounds — a trout was after my bait, so I didn't listen carefully. When I noticed again, Dr. Denbigh was saying how he was years and years older, and it was his duty to take care of her and not allow her to make a mistake that might ruin her life, and he wouldn't let her hurry into a thing she couldn't get out of, and a lot more. Peg said that forty wasn't old, and he was young enough for her, and she was certain, certain — I don't know what she was certain of, but she was horribly obstinate about it.
And then Dr. Denbigh said: “If I only dared let you, dear — if I only dared.”
And something about if she felt the same in two years, or a year, or something — I can't remember all that truck — and they said the same thing over a lot. I heard him murmur:
“Call me Jack, just once.”
And she murmured back, as if it was a stunt, “Jack” — and then rustlings. I'd call him Jack all the afternoon if he liked.
Then, after another of those still games, Peggy said, “Ow!” as if somebody'd pinched her, and that seemed such a queer remark that I stood up to see what they were up to. Getting to my feet I swung the line around and the bait flopped up the bank and hit Peg square in the mouth — I give you my word I didn't mean to, but it was awfully funny! My! didn't she squeal bloody murder? That's what makes a person despise Peggy. She's no sort of sport. Another time I remember I had some worms in an envelope, and I happened to feel them in my pocket, so I pulled out one and slid it down the back of her neck, and you'd have thought I'd done something awful. She yelped and wriggled and cried — she did — she actually cried. And you wouldn't believe what she finished up by doing — she went and took a bath! A whole bath — when she didn't have to! She can't see a joke at all. Now Alice is a horrid meddler — she and Maria. Yet Alice is a sport, and takes her medicine. I've seen that girl with a beetle in her hair, which I put there, keep her teeth shut and not make a sound — only a low gurgle — until she'd got him and slung him out of the window. Then she lammed me, I tell you — I respected her for it too — but she couldn't now, I'm stronger.
Oh, golly! Lorraine will cut down the cookies if I don't tell what happened. I don't exactly know what was next, but Dr. Denbigh somehow had me by the collar and gave me a yank, like a big dog does a little one.
“See here, you young limb,” he said, “I'm — I'm going to —” and then he suddenly stopped and looked at Peggy and began to chuckle, and Peggy laughed and turned lobster color, and put her face in her hands and just howled.
Of course I grinned too, and then I glanced up at him lovingly and murmured “Jack,” just like Peggy did.
That seemed to sober him, and he considered a minute. “Listen, Billy,” he began, slowly; “we're in your power, but I'm going to trust you.”
I just hooted, because there wasn't much else he could do. But he didn't smile, only his eyes sort of twinkled.
“Be calm, my son,” he said. “You're a gentleman, I believe, and all I need do is to point out that what you've seen and heard is not your secret. I'm sure you realize that it's unnecessary to ask you not to tell. Of course, you'll never tell one word — not one word —” and he glared. “That's understood, isn't it?”
I said, “Yep,” sort of scared. He's splendidly big and arrogant, and has that man-eating look, but he's a peach all the same.
“Are we friends — and brothers?” he asked, and slid a look at Peg.
“Yep,” I said again, and I meant it.
“Shake,” said Dr. Denbigh, and we shook like two men.
That was about all that happened that day except about my fishing. There was a very interesting — but I suppose Lorraine wouldn't care for that. It was a good deal of a strain on my feelings not to tell Alice, but of course I didn't. But once in awhile I would glance up at Dr. Denbigh trustingly and murmur “Jack,” and he would be in a fit because I'd always do it when the family just barely couldn't hear. As soon as Peg came home from college we skipped to the mountains, and she went back from there to college again, and I didn't have a fair show to get rises out of them together, and in the urgency of 'steen things like pigeons and the new puppy, I pretty nearly forgot their love's young dream. I didn't have a surmise that I was going to be interwoven among it like I was. I saw Aunt Elizabeth going out with Dr. Denbigh in his machine two or three times, but she's a regular fusser with men, and he's got a kind heart, so I wasn't wise to anything in that. The day Peg came home for Christmas she was singing like the blue canaries down in the parlor, and I happened to pass Aunt Elizabeth's door and she was lacing up her shoes.
“Oh, Billy, ask Peggy if she doesn't want to go for a walk, will you? There's a lamb,” she called to me.
So I happened to have intelligence from pristine sources that they went walking. And after that Peg had a grouch on and was off her feed the rest of the vacation — nobody knew why — I didn't myself, even, and it didn't occur to me that Aunt Elizabeth had probably been rubbing it in how well she knew Dr. Denbigh. The last day Peggy was home, at the table, they were chaffing Aunt Elizabeth about him, the way grown-ups do, instead of talking about the facts of life and different kinds of horse-feed, which is important in the winter. And I heard mother say in a “sort-of-vochy” tone to Peggy:
“They really seem to be fond of each other. Perhaps there may be an engagement to write you about, Peggy.”
I thought to myself that mother didn't know that Dr. Denbigh was prejudiced to being engaged, but I didn't say anything — it's wise not to say anything to your family beyond the necessary jargon of living. Peggy seemed to think the same, for she didn't answer a syllabus, but after dropping her glass of water into the fried potatoes which Lena was kindly handing to her, she jumped and scooted. A few minutes later I wanted her to sew a sail on a boat, so I tried her door and it was locked, and then I knocked and she took an awfully long time simply to open that door, and when she did her eyes were red and she was shivering as if she was cold.
“Oh, Billy, Billy!” she said, and then, of all things, she grabbed me and kissed me.
I wriggled loose, and I said: “Sew up this sail for me, will you? Hustle!”
But she didn't pay attention. “Oh, Billy, be a little good to me!” she said. “I'm so wretched, and nobody knows but you. Oh, Billy — he likes somebody better than me!”
“Who does?” I asked. “Father?”
She half laughed, a sort of sickly laugh. “No, Billy. Not father — he — Jack — Dr. Denbigh. Oh, you know, Billy! You heard what mother said.”
“O—o—oh!” I answered her, in a contemplating slowness. “Oh — that's so! Do you mind if he gets engaged to Aunt Elizabeth?”
“Do — I — mind?” said Peggy, as if she was astonished. “Mind? Billy, I'll love him till I die. It would break my heart.”
“Oh no, it wouldn't,” I told her, because I thought I'd sort of comfort her. “That's truck. You can't break muscles just by loving. But I know how you feel, because that's the way I felt when father gave that Irish setter to the Tracys.”
She went on chattering her teeth as if she was cold, so I put the table-cover around her. “You dear Billy,” she said. But that was stuff.
“I wouldn't bother,” I said. “Likely he's forgotten about you. I often forget things myself.” That didn't seem to comfort her, for she began to sob out loud. “Oh, now, Peg, don't cry,” I observed to her. “He probably likes Aunt Elizabeth better than you, don't you see? I think she's prettier, myself. And, of course, she's a lot cleverer. She tells funny stories and makes people laugh; you never do that — You're a good sort, but quiet and not much fun, don't you see? Maybe he got plain tired of you.”
But instead of being cheered up by my explaining things, she put her head on the table and just yowled. Girls are a queer species.
“You're cruel, cruel!” she sobbed out, and you bet that surprised me — me that was comforting her for all I was worth! I patted her on the back of the neck, and thought hard what other soothings I could squeeze out. Then I had an idea. “Tell you what, Peg,” I said, “it's too darned bad of Dr. Denbigh, if he just did it for meanness, when you haven't done anything to him. But maybe he got riled because you begged him so to let you be engaged to him. Of course a man doesn't want to be bothered — if he wants to get engaged he wants to, and if he doesn't want to he doesn't, and that's all. I think probably Dr. Denbigh was afraid you'd be at him again when you came home, so he hurried up and snatched Aunt Elizabeth.”
Peggy lifted her face and stared at me. She was a sight, with her eyes all bunged up and her cheeks sloppy. “You think he is engaged to her, do you, Billy?” she asked me.
Her voice sort of shook, and I thought I'd better settle it for her one way or the other, so I nodded and said, “Wouldn't be surprised,” and then, if you'll believe it, that girl got angry — at me. “Billy, you're brutal — you're like any other man-thing — cold-blooded and faithless — and —” And she began choking — choking again, and I was disgusted and cleared out.
I was glad when she went off to college, because, though she's a kind-hearted girl, she was so peevish and untalkative it made me tired. I think people ought to be cheerful around their own homes. But the family didn't seem to see it; there are such a lot of us that you have to blow a trumpet before you get any special notice — except me, when I don't wash my hands. Yet, what's the use of washing your hands when you're certain to get them dirty again in five minutes?
Well, then, awhile ago Peggy wrote she was engaged to Harry Goward, and there was great excitement in the happy home. My people are mobile in their temperatures, anyway — a little thing stirs them up. I thought it was queerish, but I didn't know but Peggy had changed her mind about loving Dr. Denbigh till she died. I should think that was too long myself. I was busy getting my saddle mended and a new bridle, so I didn't have time for gossip.
Harry came to visit the family, and the minute I inspected him over I knew he was a sissy. If you'll believe me, that grown-up man can't chin himself. He sings and paints apple blossoms, but he fell three-cornered over a fence that I vaulted. He may be fascinating, as Lorraine says, but he isn't worth saving, in my judgments. I said so to Dr. Denbigh one day when he picked me up in his machine and brought me home from school, and he was sympathetic and asked intelligent questions — at least, some of them were; some of them were just slow remarks about if Peggy seemed to be very happy, and that sort of stuff that doesn't have any foundations. I told him particularly that I like automobiles, and he thought a minute, and then said:
“If you were going to be playing near the Whitman station to-morrow I'd pick you up and take you on a twenty-mile spin. I'm lunching with some people near Whitman, and going on to Elmville.”
“Oh, pickles!” said I. “Will you, really? Of course, I'll be there. I'll drive over with the expressman — he's a friend of mine — right after lunch,” I said, “and I'll wait around the station for you.”
So I did that, and while I was waiting I saw Aunt Elizabeth coming — I saw her first, so I hid — I was afraid if she saw me she'd find out I was going with Dr. Denbigh and snatch him herself. I heard her sending a crazy telegram to Harry Goward, and then I forgot all about it until I wanted to distract Alice's mind off some cookies that I'd accumulated at Lorraine's house. Alice is a pig. She never lets me stuff in peace. So I told her about the telegram — I knew Alice would be perturbed with that. She just loves to tell things, but she made me tell Peggy, and there was a hullabaloo promptly. Nobody confided a word to me, and I didn't care much, but I saw them all whispering in low tones and being very busy about it, and Peg looking madder than a goat, and I guessed that Alice had made me raise Cain.
Now, I've got to back up and start over. Golly! it's harder than you'd think just to write down things the way they happened, like I promised Lorraine. Let's see — Oh yes, of course — about Dr. Denbigh and the bubble. I was in a fit for fear dear Aunt Elizabeth would linger around till the doctor came, and then somehow I'd be minus one drive in a machine. She didn't; she cleared out with solidity and despatch, and my Aurora, as the school-teacher would say, came in his whirling car, and in I popped, and we had a corking time. He let me drive a little. You see, the machine is a — Oh, well, Lorraine said, specially, I was not to describe automobiles. That seems such a stupid restrictiveness, but it's a case of cookies, so I'll cut that out.
There really wasn't much else to tell, only that Dr. Denbigh started right in and raked out the inmost linings of my soul about Peggy and Harry Goward. It wasn't exactly cross-examination, because he wasn't cross, yet he fired the questions at me like a cannon, and I answered quick, you bet. Dr. Denbigh knows what he wants, and he means to get it. Just by accident toward the last I let out about that day in the winter when they were chaffing Aunt Elizabeth at the table about him, and how he'd taken her out in the machine, and how mother had said there might be an engagement to write Peggy about.
“Oh!” said Dr. Denbigh. “Oh! — oh!”
Funny, the way he went on saying, “Oh! Oh!”
I thought if that interested him he might like to hear about Peg throwing a fit in her room after, so I told him that, and how I tried to comfort her, and how unreasonable she was. And what do you suppose he said? He looked at me a minute with his eyebrows away down, and his mouth jammed together, and then he brought out:
“You little devil!”
That's not the worst he said, either. I guess mother wouldn't let me go out with him if she knew he used profanity — Maria wouldn't, anyway. I have decided I won't tell them. It's the only time I ever caught him. The other thing is this. He said to himself — but out loud — I think he had forgotten me: “So they made her believe I liked her aunt better.” And then, in a minute: “She said it would break her heart — bless her!” And two or three other interlocutory remarks like that, meaning nothing in particular. And then all of a sudden he brought his fist down on his knee with a bang and said, “Damn Aunt Elizabeth!” — not loud, but compressed and explodingly, you know. I looked at him, and he said: “Beg pardon, Billy. Your aunt's a very charming woman, but I mean it. I only asked her to go out with me because she talked more about Peggy than anybody else would,” he went on.
I thought a minute, and put two and two together pretty quick. “You mind about Peggy's being engaged to Harry Goward, don't you?” I asked him; for I saw right through him then.
He looked queer. “Yes, I mind,” he said.
“But you wouldn't be engaged to her yourself,” I propounded to him; and he grinned, and said something about more things in heaven and earth, and called me Horatio. I reckon he got struck crazy a minute. And then he made me tell him further what Peggy said and what I said, and he laughed that time about my comforting her, though I don't see why. It doesn't pay to give up important things, to be kind and thoughtful in this world — nobody appreciates it, and you are sure to be sorry you took the time. When I got up-stairs, after comforting Peggy, my toad had jumped in the water-pitcher and got about drowned — he never was the same toad after — and if I hadn't stopped in Peg's room to do good it wouldn't have happened. And Dr. Denbigh laughed at me besides. However, for an old chap of forty, he's a peach. I'm not kicking at Dr. Denbigh.
Then let's see — (It makes me tired to go on writing this stuff — I wish I was through. But the cookies! I see a vision of a mountain range of cookies with currants on them — crumbly cookies. Up and at it again for me!)
The next stunt I had a shy at was a letter that Harry Goward asked Alice to give Peggy, and Alice gave it to me because she was up to something else just that minute. She didn't look at the address, but you bet your sweet life I did, when I heard it was from Harry Goward. I saw it was addressed to Peg. Then I stuffed it in my pocket and plain forgot, because I was in a hurry to go fishing with Sid Tracy. I put a chub on top of it that I wanted to keep for bait, and when I pulled it out — the letter — the chub hadn't helped much. The envelope was a little slimy. I said: “Gee!”
Sid said: “What's that?”
“A letter to my sister from that chump, Harry Goward,” said I. “I've got to take it to her. Looks pretty sad now.”
Sid didn't like Harry Goward any more than I did, because he'd borrowed Sid's best racket and left it out in the rain, and then just laughed. So he said: “Not sad enough. Give it to me. I'll fix it.”
He had some molasses candy that he'd bit, and he rubbed that over it a little, and then suddenly we heard Alice calling, and he crammed the letter in his pocket, candy and all, and there were some other things in there that stuck to it. We were so rattled when Alice appeared and demanded that very letter in her lordly way that I forgot if I had it or Sid, and I went all through my clothes looking for it, and then Sid found it in his, and, oh, my! Miss Alice turned up her nose when she saw it. It did look smudgy.
Sid hurriedly scrubbed it with his handkerchief, but even that didn't really make it clean, and by that time you couldn't read the address. Alice didn't ask me if I'd read it, or I'd have told her.
There was a fuss afterward in the family, but I kept clear of it. I wouldn't have time to get through what I have to do if I attended to their fusses, so all I knew was that it had something to do with that letter. All the family were taking trains, like a procession, for two or three days. I don't know why, so Lorraine can't expect me to write that down.
There's only one other event of great signification that I know about, and nobody knows that except me and Dr. Denbigh and Peggy. It was this way. The doctor saw me on the street one afternoon — I can't remember what day it was — and stopped his machine and motioned to me to get in. You bet I got. He shook hands with me just the way he would with father, and not as if I were a contemptible puppy.
“Billy, my son, I want you to do something for me,” he said.
“All right,” said I.
“I've got to see Peggy,” he went on. “I've got to!” And he looked as fierce as a circus tiger. “I can't sit still and not lift a finger and let this wretched business go on. I won't lose her for any silly scruples.”
I didn't know what he was driving at, but I said, “I wouldn't, either,” in a sympathetic manner.
“I've got to see her!” he fired at me again.
“Yep,” I said. “She's up at the house now. Come on.” But that didn't suit him. He explained that she wouldn't look at him when the others were around, and that she slid off and wormed out of his way, so he couldn't get at her, anyhow. Just like a girl, wasn't it — not to face the music? Well, anyway, he'd cooked up a plan that he wanted me to do, and I promised I would. He wanted me to get Peggy to go up the river to their former spooning-resort (only he put it differently), and he would be there waiting and make Peggy talk to him, which he seemed to desire more than honey in the honeycomb.
Lovers are a strange animal. I may be foolish, but I prefer toads. With them you can tie a string around the hind leg, and you have got them. But with lovers it's all this way one day and upside down the next, and wondering what's hurt the feelings of her, and if he's got tired of you, and polyandering around to get interviews up rivers when you could easier sit on the piazza and talk — and all such. It seems to me that things would go a lot simpler if everybody would cut out most of the feelings department, and just eat their meals and look after their animals and play all they get time for, and then go to sleep quietly. Fussing is such a depravity. But they wouldn't do what I said, not if I told them, so I lie low and think.
Next morning I harnessed the pony in the cart and said, “Peg — take a drive with me — come on,” and Peg looked grattyfied, and mother said I was a dear, thoughtful child, and grandma said it would do the girl good, and I was a noble lad. So I got encombiums all round for once. Only Aunt Elizabeth — she looked thoughtful.
I rattled Hotspur — that's the pony — out to the happy hunting-ground by the river, till I saw Dr. Denbigh's gray cap behind a bush, and I rightly argued that his manly form was hitched onto it, for he arose up in his might as I stopped the cart. Peggy gasped and said, “Oh — oh! We must go home. Oh, Billy, drive on!” Which Billy didn't do, not so you'd notice it. Then the doctor said, in his I-am-the-Ten-Commandments manner, “Get out, Peggy,” and held his hand.
And Peggy said, “I won't — I can't,” and immediately did, the goose.
Then he looked at me in a funny, fierce way he has, with his eyebrows away down, only you know he's pleasant because his eyes jiggle.
“Billy, my son,” he said, “will you kindly deprive us of the light of your presence for one hour by the clock? Here's my timepiece — one hour. Go!” And he gave Hotspur a slap so he leaped.
Dr. Denbigh is the most different person from Harry Goward I know.
Well, I drove round by the Red Bridge, and was gone an hour and twelve minutes, and I thought they'd be missing me and in a fit to get home, so I just raced Hotspur the last mile.
“I'm awfully sorry I'm so late,” said I. “I got looking at some pigs, so I forgot. I'm sorry,” said I.
Peg looked up at me as if she couldn't remember who I was, and inquired, wonderingly: “Is it an hour yet?”
And Dr. Denbigh said, “Great Scott! boy, you needn't have hurried!”
That's lovers all over.
And they hadn't finished yet, if you'll believe me. Dr. Denbigh went on talking as they stood up, just as if I wasn't living. “You won't promise me?” he asked her.
And she said: “Oh, Jack, how can I? I don't know what to do — but I'm engaged to him — that's a solemn thing.”
“Solemn nonsense,” said the doctor. “You don't love him — you never did — you never could. Be a woman, dearest, and end this wretched mess.”
“I never would have thought I loved him if I hadn't believed I'd lost you,” Peggy ruminated to herself. “But I must think —” As if she hadn't thunk for an hour!
“How long must you think?” the doctor fired at her.
“Don't be cross at me,” said she, like a baby, and that big capable man picked up her hand and kissed it — shame on him!
“No, no, dear,” he said, as meek as pie. “I'll wait — only you must decide the right way, and remember that I'm waiting, and that it's hard.”
Then he put her into the cart clingingly — I'd have chucked her — and I leaned over toward him the last thing and threw my head lovingly on one side and rolled my eyes up and murmured at him, “Good-bye, Jack,” and started Hotspur before he could hit me.
Now, thank the stars, there's just one or two little items more that I've got to write. One is what I heard mother tell father when they were on the front piazza alone, and I was teaching the puppy to beg, right in sight of them on the grass. They think I'm an earless freak, maybe. She told him that dear Peggy was growing into such a strong, splendid woman; that she'd been talking to her, and she thought the child would be able to give up her weak, vacillating lover with hardly a pang, because she realized that he was unworthy of her; that Peg had said she couldn't marry a man she didn't admire — and wasn't that noble of her? Noble, your grandmother — to give up a perfect lady like Harry Goward, when she's got a real man up her sleeve! I'd have made them sit up and take notice if I hadn't promised not to tell. Which reminds me that I ought to explain how I got Dr. Denbigh to let me write this for Lorraine. I put it to him strongly, you see, about the cookies, and at first he said.
“Not on your life! Not in a thousand years!” And then —
But what's the use of writing that? Lorraine is on to all that. But, my pickles! won't there be a circus when Alice finds out that I've known things she didn't! Won't Alice be hopping — gee.