Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

to her By Emily

Mother
Calpin Blake

B

to you.

mean.

Before my

ELOVED Mother:

I'd start away from home
It is evening, and

and draw in the fresh, in-
Paul having gone on

vigorating air, many quesan errand to a neigh

tions would come winging to me; bor's, I am alone in our little home. and sometimes within myself I'd find Filled with a driving urge, I am writing an answer that books or people had to you as though I were close beside not, so far, given me. Then I'd thrill you, holding your hand and talking with self-admiration. I suppose every

body has those big moments of egoI think of you often as I go about tism; and after all, I believe they're my work. As I pump water to wash my divine flashes, because they lift you to dishes, or as I hang my clothes out on the knowledge of your own greatnessthe line in the yard, I fancy I see your your own possibilities of greatness, I horrified expression at the thought of a daughter of yours, once so tenderly One of those wonderful days when I cherished, engaged in such menial work. was happy just because I lived, I ran But I try not to overdo in any way,

dancing down the garden path. It and I believe I'm stronger than ever seemed to me I must sing and dance, before.

as an expression of my joy-joy beThough doing all my own housework, cause flowers are sweet and stars shine I still find many leisure hours, and being at night and little brooks make music. much of the time alone, I've grown And then, when at noon I returned somewhat self-analytical.

home, you met me at the door and said: marriage, I wanted simply to live and “Frances, this morning you acted like be merry. I suppose nearly all young a tomboy. You must learn to walk girls feel the same way,

like a lady." I asked the eternal child Mother, you cried when Paul and I question, "Why?" You answered, “Became to you and father one evening and cause girls must be sedate and ladylike." confessed our secret marriage.

You

It seemed so inadequate a reason to were terribly hurt, and overwhelmingly me, mother dear. And I couldn't at first surprised. You spoke of its being a bend myself. When the life-force swept whim, and of my certainly regretting it. through me, it raised me. I was no And father looked stern and a little piti- more a mere mortal, earth-bound, but ful, but neither of you—mercifully-un- one aspiring to the sky! I've thought derstood then. Mother, gather strength out the meaning of those days of upfor what I'm about to tell you.

lift. I think they are the days of a

young girl's ripening toward her ultimate I'm only a little over eighteen, but I meaning, her great completion. But realize that in experience and knowl- no one about me seemed to realize this. edge of life, until a short time ago, I And I wish some great teacher had said was a mere baby. But my instincts to me: “Frances, sing and dance now; were a thousand years old.

but know the significance of your emoWhen I was in my last year at high tions. Creation is repeating its refrain school I was sixteen, a healthy,

in you.” Oh, in reverence I would impetuous, life-curious girl.

have responded to that word! Often, when in the morning

But no one did tell me that

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

I hurt you

ing of every function toward ma

had been killed. turity and maternity. And this

After a time you said: “I had season might in any event have hoped, Frances, to keep your mind been followed by depression, reaction. wholesomely filled with your home But I knew only that when I tried life and your books and music. There to quench my spirits and to walk is plenty of time yet to talk of marsedately, I soon fell into spells of sullen- i riage.” ness or of cold reserve, and I shut my- “Isn't the time when you think about self quite away from you,

it the time to talk about it, mother?” I desperately many a time, mother, and I burst forth. hated myself when I saw your sweet You looked at me then, straight into face cloud; but I couldn't control my my eyes. You said: “I'm sorry to find moods.

this curiosity in you, Frances. I think Oh, I was hateful and perverse; and I it might be well now to give you some ask your forgiveness now. It must have new, interesting duties. How would been hard for you to see your only you like to make your own blouses?” child turn from you as I did, and go off But I was insistent. I felt I must for long hours in her own room, prefer- have an answer, so I brought my quesring solitude to any interest you could tioning down to the personal. "How devise.

did
you

know father was meant for you
When nearly seventeen, I spoke to you and you for him?”
one day about marriage. I felt shy

You answered: “I was introduced about broaching the subject; but my

to your father at a friend's house. girl friends all discussed it, and they He asked to call on me in my own home, all had sorry standards, I thought-even and after a proper length of time we then. Some wanted to marry for money,

were married.'' others so they could be free from home I fell back. Here was a tale stripped surveillance, while others wanted merely of all adornment. I stood there unthe dignity of marriage. And deep in thrilled, disappointed. Now I find it my heart was growing the flower of in my heart to wish you could have romance.

told me a little of the wonder of your So, to find the truth, I spoke to you. courtship days—that you could have We were out in the garden on a June told me something of your marriage day. afternoon. The air was very still, and Perhaps you had flowers and a flowing the flowers you tended so lovingly were veil, and music; and perhaps when you all about us. Something in the scene put your hand in father's, you looked made me very anxious to come close to you, to know you. I thought: "That's Well, I never asked you any more my own mother. She can tell me more intimate questions. And that winter wonderful stories than any of the girls I there began social activities in our know. I'll ask her some questions." young set. We usually went in groups And I plunged right in: "Mother, just to dances and picnics-unchaperoned how do people marry? How does mar- or inadequately chaperoned. I suppose riage come about?” I waited breath- all the mothers felt that precepts and lessly.

regulations were sufficient to keep their I saw the color creep up to your face, daughters in the path of rectitude. even to your eyes. You did not look at I heard a woman once say to you, me, nor did you answer me at once. “Well-reared young folks can't get into And I thought, “There's something any great harm.” And you agreed. But mysterious here; something painful to there wasn't one of us in that group of be hidden.” I was sick with disappoint- boys and girls equipped to understand

up at him

[ocr errors]

of

himself or herself. You told

One night six of us went to a me, course, always to be modest

moonlight picnic, out near River and to conduct myself in a lady

Grove. Our Bible-class teacher aclike way. But that was all. There companied us, but he napped under was precept under which there was a tree after supper, and so we paired no groundwork, no real enlightenment. off. Paul and I walked toward the Of the danger lurking within myself, woods. because I was human-a double danger, We sat under a tree. Paul made since I was ignorant alike of its pres- a pillow of his coat for me. But when ence and its meaning-I was not told. he put his arm about me, I left the And so you would have been terribly pillow and rested my head against his shocked had you known that the first shoulder. He began to talk, after a time, time Paul put his arm around me, about his future. His father meant to when we were sitting out a dance on let him study law, that being Paul's the secluded stairs of the Assembly ardent desire. He told me his hope that Hall, I enjoyed his doing so. I hoped some day he would be a big man, a he would embrace me again. I must justice of the Supreme Court, he said. be frank, honest with you now, though And then we were silent. The moon I can hear your cool, sweet voice saying, went sailing behind a cloud, and one of “I never dreamed a daughter of mine the boys somewhere in the wood began could so far forget herself!”

to 'strum on a guitar. Paul and I were And the first time Paul kissed me! quite alone in the world. I felt suddenly I was terribly shy. I turned my face a little cold, and he drew me closer. ... away from him, but the other girls We rode home silently together in the laughed. You'd be surprised to know big hay-wagon, and we didn't join in how free they are with the boys-and the songs of our companions. We were of course the boys with them—when they just two young things, suddenly facing are all out together, even in parties. Life. None of the mothers of really nice girls A sordid story, my mother? Perhaps! would believe that their daughters are And your daughter's story—the girl you flippant and flirtatious, and encourage have loved and carefully watched, and the boys as they do. And it isn't because shielded from every passing wind. You they want to do wrong. It's because had in your lifetime seen other girls go they're all curious about life; and not wrong, and sighed and wondered at the having any real knowledge, they just go weakness of human nature; but you ahead trying to solve mysteries in their thanked God that nothing so terrible own crude way.

could touch your child! When I was nearing my eighteenth Paul and I rather kept away from each birthday-Paul was almost twenty-all other after that picnic. But-oh, how the boys and girls spoke of our having can I tell it?-after a time the terrible a case” on each other. We had a truth was forced in upon me. And I passing fancy for each other, that was was helpless. I didn't know which way all. And we simply played with danger, to turn. There were nights of agony, as children might play with dynamite, when I tossed about with eyes wide laughingly, ignorantly. When I met awake, burning into the dark. There Paul, I thrilled; not because it was Paul, were days when I went about my home but because life was flowing through and wished I might die. me. And I didn't know what that At last, in despair I sought Paul. I mighty current, magnetizing me, meant. saw him on the street, and when he Oh, yes, a sacredly delicate period, those raised his hat, I said, “I'd like to take years in a girl's life when she's growing a walk with you." up to womanhood!

"All right," he answered. He tried

[ocr errors]

a

to speak cheerfully and with

“That's what I came to you out restraint, but I felt an over

about, sir," said Paul, powering shyness. We walked out

His father laughed then. He was from town, down a long, lonely road. greatly disturbed, I knew; but he He began to tell me about how he laughed. “Rather late to come to was preparing to go to college, and me,” he said. “You should have after that to law-school. And then thought matters out a bit beforehand.” I looked up into his boyish face, and “Why, there wasn't time to think. I told him.

I don't understand now how-" Pau! He didn't answer. He only stopped stammered. short, as though struck. His

eyes were

His father stopped him. “I don't like coals in his white face. We stared want to hear anything along that line," at each other, crushed under the blow he cried. A sudden passion lit his face, that had befallen us.

and he hit his fist on the desk. “The It was finally decided that we should old saying holds good here--As you've see Paul's father. Paul never knew his turned your life, now march it. Also, mother. I wish she had lived; but she I suppose you expect to do the proper died when he was a baby. I didn't want thing?” He looked me over critically. to go to Paul's house, but he thought it "Marry Frances?" said Paul. “Oh, best. He didn't tell me exactly why, I expect to do that. But there's the except that he wanted his father to question of college and my profession, understand the sort of girl I was. Paul father, and of caring for a wife—and had told me once that he rarely saw his child father, for the older man was always very “Yes, you have a lot to think about.” busy. When Paul took me into a big, There was no sympathy in the tones. book-lined room, I could see that the Paul moved away from me then. He man sitting at a desk, even when he went and stood close to his father, turned to greet us, had a far-away, re- speaking earnestly: "Father, you'll help moved look.

me? I've been wrong; I realize that A big book lay before him, and he fully. But the damage is done, and kept his finger in his place as he looked we must all face itover it at us. I felt numb, as though “We! You do the damage, and then paralyzed; and he half smiled, sensing drag me in! No, my son; you'll have my distress. I wished then that I looked to face it alone. If the girl meant more more of a woman. You wanted me to to you than your career be a little girl as long as possible, so. "But she didn't," broke in Paul. “I you kept my dresses just to my shoe tell you, father, I don't know how the tops.

situation came about. I've meant to be Paul plunged right in. He stood near straight and true. Couldn't you try to me, and once, as he told his father the understand?” story, he looked down at me.

" Trying to understand won't help There was a silence when Paul ceased. matters.” He paused, returned to his It seemed to me to last forever. Then book, read a few words, then again his father rose.

He was very tall and looked over at me. I had not moved, important looking, and instinctively I and I wanted to cry—cry out. I was took a step backward. Suddenly I wanted afraid I might, if he didn't stop lookmy own father. I wanted to be in his ing at me. Some moments I couldn't arms, to have him hold me as he used realize what it was all about—why I to when I was a tiny baby. But I was was there, why Paul's father was regardalone.

ing me as a judge might. I wanted to be “Well, what are you going to do about in my own home! it?" the big man asked at last.

At last he spoke again. "I will give

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »