"My grown-up brother's coming," said Hattie, "an' my mamma an' gran'ma an' the rest."
"My Aunt Cordelia has invited the visiting lady next door," said Emmy Lou.
But it was Sadie's hour. "Our minister's coming," said Sadie.
"Oh, Sadie," said Hattie, and while there was despair in her voice one knew that in Hattie's heart there was exultation at the very awfulness of it.
"Oh, Sadie," said Emmy Lou, and there was no exultation in the tones of Emmy Lou's despair. Not that Emmy Lou had much to do—hers was mostly the suiting of the action to some other's word. She was chosen largely because of Hattie and Sadie who had wanted her. And then, too, Emmy Lou's Uncle Charlie was the owner of a newspaper. The Exhibition might get into its columns. Not that Miss Carrie cared for this herself—she was thinking of the good it might do the school.
Emmy Lou's part was to weep when Sadie wept, and to point a chubby forefinger skyward when Hattie mentioned the departure from earth of the soldier parent, and to lower that forefinger footward at Sadie's tearful allusion to an untimely grave.
Emmy Lou had but one utterance, and it was brief. Emmy Lou was to advance one foot, stretch forth a hand and say, in the character of orphan for whom no asylum was offered, "We know not where we go."
That very morning, at gray of dawn, Emmy Lou had crept from her own into Aunt Cordelia's bed, to say it over, for it weighed heavily on her mind, "We know not where we go."
As Emmy Lou said it the momentous import of the confession fell with explosive relief on the go, as if the relief were great to have reached that point.
It seemed to Aunt Cordelia, however, that the where was the problem in the matter.
Aunt Louise called in from the next room. Aunt Louise had large ideas. The stress, she said, should be laid equally on know not, where, and go.
Since then, all day, Emmy Lou had been saying it at intervals of half minutes, for fear she might forget.
Meanwhile, it yet lacking a moment or so to two o'clock, the orphaned heroines continued to linger at the gate, awaiting the hour.
"Listen," said Hattie, "I hear music."
There was a church across the street. The drug-store adjoined it. It was a large church with high steps and a pillared portico, and its doors were open.
"It's a band, and marching," said Hattie.
The orphaned children hurried to the curb. A procession was turning the corner and coming toward them. On either sidewalk crowds of men and boys accompanied it.
"It's a funeral," said Sadie, as if she intuitively divined the mournful.
Hattie turned with a face of conviction. "I know. It's that big general's funeral; they're bringing him here to bury him with the soldiers."
"We'll never see a thing for the crowd," despaired Sadie.
Emmy Lou was gazing. "They've got plumes in their hats," she said.
"Let's go over on the church steps and see it go by," said Hattie, "it's early."
The orphaned children hurried across the street. They climbed the steps. At the top they turned.
There were plumes and more, there were flags and swords, and a band led.
But at the church with unexpected abruptness the band halted, turned, it fell apart, and the procession came through; it came right on through and up the steps, a line of uniforms and swords on either side from curb to pillar, and halted.
Aghast, between two glittering files, the orphaned children shrank into the shadow behind a pillar, while upstreamed from the carriages below an unending line—bare-headed men, and ladies bearing flowers. Behind, below, about, closing in on every side, crowded people, a sea of people.
The orphaned children found themselves swept from their hiding by the crowd and unwillingly jostled forward into prominence.
A frowning man with a sword in his hand seemed to be threatening everybody; his face was red and his voice was big, and he glittered with many buttons. All at once he caught sight of the orphaned children and threatened them vehemently.
"Here," said the frowning man, "right in here," and he placed them in line.
The orphaned children were appalled, and even in the face of the man cried out in protest. But the man of the sword did not hear, for the reason that he did not listen. Instead he was addressing a large and stout lady immediately behind them.
"Separated from the family in the confusion, the grandchildren evidently—just see them in, please."
And suddenly the orphaned children found themselves a part of the procession as grandchildren. The nature of a procession is to proceed. And the grandchildren proceeded with it. They could not help themselves. There was no time for protest, for, pushed by the crowd which closed and swayed above their heads, and piloted by the stout lady close behind, they were swept into the church and up the aisle, and when they came again to themselves were in the inner corner of a pew near the front.
The church was decked with flags.
So was the Third Reader room. It was hung with flags for The Exhibition.
Hattie in the corner nudged Sadie. Sadie urged Emmy Lou, who, next to the stout lady, touched her timidly. "We have to get out," said Emmy Lou, "we've got to say our parts."
"Not now," said the lady, reassuringly, "the programme is at the cemetery."
Emmy Lou did not understand, and she tried to tell the lady.
"S'h'h," said that person, engaged with the spectacle and the crowd, "sh-h-"
Abashed, Emmy Lou sat, sh-h-ed.
Hattie arose. It was terrible to rise in church, and at a funeral, and the church was filled, the aisles were crowded, but Hattie rose. Hattie was a St. George and A Dragon stood between her and The Exhibition.
She pushed by Sadie, and past Emmy Lou. Hattie was as slim as she was strenuous, or perhaps she was slim because she was strenuous, but not even so slim a little girl as Hattie could push by the stout lady, for she filled the space.
At Hattie's touch she turned. Although she looked good-natured, the size and ponderance of the lady were intimidating. She stared at Hattie; people were looking; it was in church; Hattie's face was red.
"You can't get to the family," said the lady, "you couldn't move in the crowd. Besides I promised to see to you. Now be quiet," she added crossly, when Hattie would have spoken. She turned away. Hattie crept back vanquished by this Dragon.
"So suitably dressed," the stout lady was saying to a lady beyond; "grandchildren, you know."
"She says they are grandchildren," echoed the whispers around.
"Even their little handkerchiefs have black borders," somebody beyond replied.
Emmy Lou wondered if she was in some dreadful dream. Was she a grandchild or was she an orphan? Her head swam.
The service began and there fell on the unwilling grandchildren the submission of awe. The stout lady cried, she also punched Emmy Lou with her elbow whenever that little person moved, but finally she found courage to turn her head so she could see Sadie.
Sadie was weeping into her black-bordered handkerchief, nor were they the tears of histrionic talent. They were real tears. People all about were looking at her sympathetically. Such grief in a grandchild was very moving.
It may have been minutes, it seemed to Emmy Lou hours, before there came a general up-rising. Hattie stood up. So did Sadie and Emmy Lou. Their skirts no longer stood out jauntily; they were quite crushed and subdued.
There was a wild, hunted look in Hattie's eyes. "Watch the chance," she whispered, "and run."
But it did not come. As the pews emptied, the stout lady passed Emmy Lou on, addressing some one beyond. "Hold to this one," she said, "and I'll take the other two, or they'll get tramped in the crowd."
Emmy Lou felt herself grasped, she could not see up to find by whom. The crowd in the aisle had closed above her head, but she heard the stout lady behind saying, "Did you ever see such an ill-mannered child!" and Emmy Lou judged that Hattie was struggling against Fate.
Slowly the crowd moved, and, being a part of it however unwillingly, Emmy Lou moved too, out of the church and down the steps. Then came the crashing of the band and the roll of carriages, and she found herself in the front row on the curb.
The man with the brandishing sword was threatening violently. "One more carriage is here for the family," called the man with the sword. His face was red and his voice was hoarse. His glance in search for the family suddenly fell on Emmy Lou. She felt it fall.
The problem solved itself for the man with the sword, and his brow cleared. "Grandchildren next," roared the threatening man.
"Grandchildren," echoed the crowd.
Hattie and Sadie were pushed forward from somewhere, Hattie lifting her voice. But what was the cry of a Hattie before the brazen utterance of the band? Sadie was weeping wildly.
Emmy Lou with the courage of despair cried out in the grasp of the threatening man, but the man lifting her into the carriage, was speaking himself, and to the driver. "Keep an eye on them—separated from the family," he was explaining, and a moment later Hattie and Sadie were lifted after Emmy Lou into the carriage, and as the door banged, their carriage moved with the rest up the street.
"Now," said Hattie, and Hattie sprang to the farther door.
It would not open. Things never will in dreadful dreams.
Through the carriage windows the school, with its arched doorways and windows, gazed frowningly, reproachfully. A gentleman entered the gate and went in the doorway.
"It's our minister," said Sadie, weeping afresh.
Hattie beat upon the window, and called to the driver, but no mortal ear could have heard above that band.
"An' my grown-up brother, an' gran'ma an' the rest," said Hattie. And Hattie wept.
"And the visiting lady next door," said Emmy Lou. She did not mean to weep, tears did not come readily to Emmy Lou, but just then her eyes fell upon the handkerchief still held by its exact centre in her hand. What would The Exhibition do without them?
Then Emmy Lou wept.
Late that afternoon a carriage stopped at a corner upon which a school building stood. Since his charges were but infantile affairs, the coloured gentleman on the box thought to expedite matters and drop them at the corner nearest their homes.
Descending, the coloured gentleman flung open the door, and three little girls crept forth, three crushed little girls, three limp little girls, three little girls in a mild kind of mourning.
They came forth timidly. They looked around. They hoped they might reach their homes unobserved.
There was a crowd up the street. A gathering of people—many people. It seemed to be at Emmy Lou's gate. Hattie and Sadie lived farther on.
"It must be a fire," said Hattie.
But it wasn't. It was The Exhibition, the Principal, and Miss Carrie, and teachers and pupils, and mammas and aunties and Uncle Charlie.
"An' gran'ma—" said Hattie.
"And the visiting lady—" said Emmy Lou.
"And our minister," said Sadie.
The gathering of many people caught sight of them presently, and came to meet them, three little girls in mild mourning.
The little girls moved slowly, but the crowd moved rapidly.
The gentlemen laughed, Uncle Charlie and the minister and the papa or two, laughed when they heard, and laughed again, and went on laughing, they leaned against the fence.
But the ladies could see nothing funny, the mammas, nor Aunt Cordelia. That mild mourning had been the result of anxious planning and consultation.
Neither could Miss Carrie. She said they had failed her. She said it in her deepest tones and used gestures.
Sadie wept, for the sight of Miss Carrie recalled afresh the tears she should have shed with Histrionic Talent.
The parents and guardians led them home.
Emmy Lou was tired. She was used to a quiet life, and never before had been in the public eye.
At supper she nodded and mild mourning and all, suddenly Emmy Lou collapsed and fell asleep, her head against her chair.
Uncle Charlie woke her. He stood her up on the chair and held out his arms. Uncle Charlie meant to carry her as if she were a baby thing again up to bed.
"Come," said Uncle Charlie.
Emmy Lou stood dazed and flushed, she was not yet quite awake.
Uncle Charlie had caught snatches of school vernacular. "Come," said he, "suit the action to the word."
Emmy Lou woke suddenly, the words smiting her ears with ominous import. She thought the hour had come, it was The Exhibition.
She stood stiffly, she advanced a cautious foot, her chubby hand described a careful half circle. Emmy Lou spoke—
"We know not where we go," said Emmy Lou.
"No more we do," said Uncle Charlie.
THE SHADOW OF A TRAGEDY
Miss Lizzie kept in.
The ways of teachers like rainy days and growing pains belong to the inexplicable and inevitable. All teachers have ways, that is to be expected, it is the part of an Emmy Lou to adjust herself to meet, not to try to understand, these ways.
Miss Lizzie kept in, but that was only one of her ways, she had many others. Perhaps they were no more peculiar than the ways of her predecessors, but they were more alarming.
Miss Lizzie placed a deliberate hand on her call bell and, as its vibrations dinged and smote upon the shrinking tympanum, a rigid and breathless expectancy would pervade the silence of the Fourth Reader room.
Miss Lizzie was tall, she seemed to tower up and over one's personality. One had no mind of her own, but one said what one thought Miss Lizzie wanted her to say. Sometimes one got it wrong. Then Miss Lizzie's cold up-and-down survey smote one into a condition something akin to vacuity, until Miss Lizzie said briefly, "Sit down."
Then one sat down hastily.
Miss Lizzie never wasted a word. Miss Lizzie closed her lips. She closed them so their lines were blue. Her eyes were blue too, but not a pleasant blue. Miss Lizzie did not scold, she looked. She kept looking until one became aware of an elbow resting on the desk. In her room little girls must sit erect.
Sometimes she changed. It came suddenly. One day it came suddenly and Miss Lizzie boxed the little girl's ears. The little girl had knocked over a pile of slates collected on the platform for marking.
Another time she changed. It was when the little girl brought a note from home because her ears were boxed. Miss Lizzie tore the note in pieces and threw them on the floor.
One lived in dread of her changing. One watched in order to know the thing she wanted. Emmy Lou knew every characteristic feature of her face—the lean nose that bent toward the cheek, the thin lips that tightened and relaxed, the cold survey that travelled from desk to desk.
Miss Lizzie's thin hands were never still any more than were her eyes. Most often her fingers tore bits of paper into fine shreds while she heard lessons.
Life is strenuous. In each reader the strenuousness had taken a different form. In the Fourth Reader it was Copy-Books.
Miss Lizzie always took an honour in Copy-Books, and she meant to take an honour this year. But the road to fame is laborious.
She had her methods. Each morning she gave out four slips of paper to each little girl. This was trial paper. On these slips each little girl practised until the result was good enough, in Miss Lizzie's opinion, to go into the book. Some lines must be fine and hair-like. Over these Emmy Lou held her breath anxiously. Others must be heavy and laboured. Over these she unconsciously put the tip of her tongue between her teeth until it was just visible between her lips.
What, however, is school for but the accommodating of self to the changing demands of teachers? In the Fourth Reader it was fine lines on the upward strokes and heavy lines on the downward.
Emmy Lou finally found the way. By turning the pen over and writing with the back of the point, the upward strokes emerged fine and hair-like. This having somewhat altered the mechanism of the pen point, its reversal brought lines sombre and heavy. It was slow and laborious, and it spoiled an alarming number of pen points; but then it achieved fine lines upward and heavy lines downward, and that is what Copy-Books are for.
Hattie reached the result differently. She kept two bottles of ink, one for fine and one for heavy lines. One was watered ink and one was not.
The trouble was about the trial-paper. One could have only four pieces. And the copy could go in the book only after the writing on the trial paper met with the approval of Miss Lizzie. So if one reached the end of the trial-paper before reaching approval one was kept in, for a half page of Copy-Book must be done each day. And "kept in" meant staying after school, in hunger, disgrace, and the silence of a great, deserted building, to write on trial-paper until the copy was good enough to be put in.
Emmy Lou did not sit with Hattie in the Fourth Reader. On the first day Miss Lizzie asked the class if there was any desk-mate a little girl preferred. At that one's heart opened and one told Miss Lizzie.
At first Emmy Lou did not understand. For Miss Lizzie promptly seated all the would-be mates as far apart as possible.
Emmy Lou thought about it. It seemed as though Miss Lizzie did it to be mean.
Then Emmy Lou's cheeks grew hot. She put the thought quickly away that she might forget it; but the wedge was entered. Teachers were no longer infallible. Emmy Lou had questioned the motives of pedagogic deism.
And so Emmy Lou and Hattie were separated. But there were three new little girls near Emmy Lou. Their kid button-shoes had tassels. Very few little girls had button-shoes. Button-shoes were new. Emmy Lou had button-shoes. She was proud of them. But they did not have tassels.
The three new little girls looked amused at everything, and exchanged glances; but they were not mean glances—not the kind of glances when little girls nudge each other and go off to whisper. Emmy Lou liked the new little girls. She could not keep from looking at them. They spread their skirts so easily when they sat down. There was something alluring about the little girls.
At recess Emmy Lou waited near the door for them. They all went out together. After that they were friends. They lived on Emmy Lou's square. It was strange. But they had just come there to live. That explained it.
"In the white house, the white house with the big yard," the tallest of the little girls explained. She was Alice. The others were her cousins. They were Rosalie and Amanthus. Such charming names.
Emmy Lou was glad that she lived in the other white house on the square with the next biggest yard. She never had thought of it before, but now she was glad.
Alice talked and Amanthus shook her curls back off her shoulders, and Rosalie wore a little blue locket hung on a golden chain. And Rosalie laughed.
"Isn't it funny and dear?" asked Alice.
"What?" said Emmy Lou.
"The public school," said Alice.
"Is it?" said Emmy Lou.
And then they all laughed, and they hugged Emmy Lou, these three fluttering butterflies. And they told Emmy Lou she was funny and dear also.
"We've never been before," said Alice.
"But we are too far from the other school now," said Rosalie.
"It was private school," said Amanthus.
"And this is public school," said Alice.
"It's very different," said Amanthus.
"Oh, very," said Rosalie.
Emmy Lou went and brought Hattie to know the little girls. All the year Emmy Lou was bringing Hattie to know the little girls. But Hattie did not seem to like the little girls as Emmy Lou did. She seemed to prefer Sadie when she could not have Emmy Lou alone. Hattie liked to lead. She could lead Sadie. Generally she could lead Emmy Lou, not always.
But all the while slowly a conviction was taking hold in Emmy Lou's mind. It was a conviction concerning Miss Lizzie.
Near Emmy Lou in the Fourth Reader room sat a little girl named Lisa—Lisa Schmit. Once Emmy Lou had seen Lisa in a doorway—a store doorway hung with festoons of linked sausage. Lisa had told Emmy Lou it was her papa's grocery store.
One day the air of the Fourth Reader room seemed unpleasantly freighted. As the stove grew hotter, the unpleasantness grew assertive.
Forty little girls were bending over their slates. It was problems. It had been Digits, Integral Numbers, Tables, Rudiments, according to the teacher, in one's upward course from the Primer, but now it was Problems, though in its nature it was always the same, as complicated as in its name it was varied.
The air was most unpleasant. It took the mind off the finding of the Greatest Common Divisor.
The call-bell on Miss Lizzie's desk dinged. The suddenness and the emphasis of the ding told on unexpected nerves, but it brought the Fourth Reader class up erect.
Miss Lizzie was about to speak. Emmy Lou watched Miss Lizzie's lips open. Emmy Lou often found herself watching Miss Lizzie's lips open. It took an actual, deliberate space of time. They opened, moistened themselves, then shaped the word.
"Who in this room has lunch?" said Miss Lizzie, and her very tones hurt. It was as though one were doing wrong in having lunch.
Many hands were raised. There were luncheons in nearly every desk.
"File by the platform in order, bringing your lunch," said Miss Lizzie.
Feeling apprehensively criminal—of what, however, she had no idea—Emmy Lou went into line, lunch in hand. One's luncheon might be all that it should, neatly pinned in a fringed napkin by Aunt Cordelia, but one felt embarrassed carrying it up. Some were in newspaper. Emmy Lou's heart ached for those.
Meanwhile Miss Lizzie bent and deliberately smelled of each package in turn as the little girls filed by. Most of the faces of the little girls were red.
Then came Lisa—Lisa Schmit. Her lunch was in paper—heavy brown paper.
Miss Lizzie smelled of Lisa's lunch and stopped the line.
"Open it," said Miss Lizzie.
Lisa rested it on the edge of the platform and untied it. The unpleasantness wafted heavily. There was sausage and dark gray bread and cheese. It was the cheese that was unpleasant.
Miss Lizzie's nose, which bent slightly toward her cheek, had a way of dilating. It dilated now.
"Go open the stove door," said Miss Lizzie.
Lisa went and opened the stove door.
"Now, take it and put it in," said Miss Lizzie.
Lisa took her lunch and put it in. Her round, soap-scoured little cheeks had turned a mottled red. When she got back to her seat, Lisa's head went down on her arm on the desk, and presently even her yellow plaits shook with the convulsiveness of her sobs.
It wasn't the loss of the sausage or the bread or the cheese. Emmy Lou was a big girl now, and she knew.
Emmy Lou went home. It was at the dinner table.
"I don't like Miss Lizzie," said she.
Aunt Cordelia was incredulous, scandalised. "You mustn't talk so."
"Little girls must not know what they like," said Aunt Louise. Aunt Louise was apt to be sententious. She was young.
"Except in puddings," said Uncle Charlie, passing Emmy Lou's saucer. There was pudding for dinner.
But wrong or not, Emmy Lou knew that it was so, she knew she did not like Miss Lizzie.
One morning Miss Lizzie forgot the package of trial-paper. The supply was out.
She called Rosalie. Then she called Emmy Lou. She told them where her house was, then told them to go there, ring the bell, ask for the paper, and return.
It seemed strange and unreal to be walking the streets in school-time. Rosalie skipped. So Emmy Lou skipped, too. Miss Lizzie lived seven squares away. It was a cottage—a little cottage. On one side its high board fence ran along an alley, but on the other side was a big yard with trees and bushes. The cottage was almost hidden, and it seemed strange and far off.
Rosalie rang the bell. Then Emmy Lou rang the bell.
They kept on ringing the bell. They did not know what to do. They were afraid to go back and tell Miss Lizzie, so they went around the side. It was a narrow, paved court between the house and the high board fence. It was dark. They held each other's hands.
There was a window. Someone tapped. It was a lady—a pretty lady. There was a flower in her hair—an artificial flower. She nodded to them. She smiled. She laughed. Then she put her finger on her lips. Emmy Lou and Rosalie did not know what to do.
The lady pointed to her throat and then to Rosalie. It seemed as if it were the blue locket on the golden chain she wanted.
Then someone came. It was an old woman. It was the servant Miss Lizzie had said would come to the door. She came from the front. She had been away somewhere.
She looked cross. She told them to go around to the front door. As they went the lady tapped. Rosalie looked back. Rosalie said the lady had pulled the flower from her hair and was tearing it to pieces.
The old woman brought the trial-paper. She told them not to mention coming around in the court, and not to say they had had to wait.
It was strange. But many things are strange when one is ten. One learns to put many strange things aside.
There were more worrisome things nearer. The screw was loose which secured the iron foot of Emmy Lou's desk to the floor. Now the front of one desk formed the seat to the next.
Muscles, even in the atmosphere of a Miss Lizzie's rigid discipline, sometimes rebel. The little girl sitting in front of Emmy Lou was given to spasmodic changes of posture, causing unexpected upheavals of Emmy Lou's desk.
On one of these occasions Emmy Lou's ink bottle went over. It was Copy-Book hour. That one's apron, beautiful with much fine ruffling, should be ruined, was a small matter when one's trial-paper had been straight in the path of the flood. Neither was Emmy Lou's condition of digital helplessness to be thought of, although it did seem as if all great Neptune's ocean and more might be needed to make those little fingers white again. Sponges, slate-rags, and neighbourly solicitude did what they could. But the trial-paper was steeped indelibly past redemption.
Still not a word from Miss Lizzie. Only a cold and prolonged survey of the scene, only an entire suspension of action in the Fourth Reader room while Miss Lizzie waited.
At last Emmy Lou was ready to resume work. She raised a timid and deep-dyed hand, and made known her need.
"Please, I have no trial-paper."
Miss Lizzie's lips unclosed. Had she waited for this? "Then," said Miss Lizzie, "you will stay after school."
Emmy Lou's heart burned, the colour slowly left her cheeks.
It was something besides Emmy Lou that looked straight out of Emmy Lou's eyes at Miss Lizzie. It was Judgment.
Miss Lizzie was not fair.
Emmy Lou did not reach home until dinner was long over. She had first to cover four slips of trial-paper and half a page in her book with upward strokes fine and hair-like, and downward strokes black and heavy. Emmy Lou ate her dinner alone.
At supper she spoke. Emmy Lou generally spoke conclusions and, unless pressed, did not enter into the processes of her reasoning.
"I don't want to go to school any more."
Aunt Cordelia looked shocked. Aunt Louise looked stern. Uncle Charlie looked at Emmy Lou.
"That sounds more natural," said Uncle Charlie, but nobody listened.
"She's been missing," said Aunt Louise.
"She's growing too fast," said Aunt Cordelia, who had just been ripping two tucks out of Emmy Lou's last winter's dress; "she can't be well."
So Emmy Lou was taken to the doctor, who gave her a tonic. And following this, she all at once regained her usual cheerful little state of mind, and expressed no more unwillingness to go to school.
But it was not the tonic.
It was the Green and Gold Book.
Rosalie brought it. It belonged to her and to Alice and to Amanthus.
They lent it to Emmy Lou.
And the glamour opened and closed about Emmy Lou, and she knew—she knew it all—why the hair of Amanthus gleamed, why Alice flitted where others walked, why laughter dwelt in the cheek of Rosalie. The glamour opened and closed about Emmy Lou, and she and Rosalie and Alice and Amanthus moved in a world of their own—the world of the Green and Gold Book, for the Green and Gold Book was "The Book of Fairy Tales."
The strange, the inexplicable, the meaningless, that hitherto one had thought the real—teachers, problems, such—they became the outer world, the things of small matter.
One loved the far corner of the sofa now, with the book in one's lap, with one's hair falling about one's face and book, shutting out the unreal world and its people.
The real world lay between the covers of the Green and Gold Book—the real world and its people.
And the Princess was always Rosalie, and the Prince—ah! the Prince was the Prince. One had met one's Rosalie, but not yet the Prince.
One could not talk of these things except to Rosalie. Hattie would not understand. One was glad when Rosalie told them to Alice and Amanthus, but one could not tell one's self.
And Miss Lizzie? Miss Lizzie had stepped all at once into her proper place. One had not understood before. One would not want Miss Lizzie different. It was right and natural to Miss Lizzie's condition—which condition varied according to the page in the Book, for Miss Lizzie was the Cruel Step-mother, Miss Lizzie was the Wicked Fairy Godmother, Miss Lizzie was the Ogress, the wife of the terrible giant.
One told Rosalie. But Rosalie went even further. Miss Lizzie was the grim and terrible Ogress who dwelt in her lonely castle. True. The school-house was the castle of the Ogress. And the forty little girls in the Fourth Reader were the captives—the captive Princesses—kept by Miss Lizzie until certain tasks were performed.
One looked at Problems differently now. One saw Copy-books through a glamour. They were tasks, and each task done, the nearer release from Miss Lizzie.
Did one fail—?
Emmy Lou held her breath. Rosalie spoke softly: "The lady at the window—her finger at her lips—she had failed—"
Miss Lizzie was the Ogress, and the lady was the Princess—the captive Princess—waiting at the window for release.
And so one played one's part. And so Emmy Lou and Rosalie moved and lived and dreamed in the glamour and the world of the Green and Gold Book.
It stayed in one's desk—sometimes with Alice, or with Amanthus, sometimes with Rosalie. To-day it was with Emmy Lou.
One never read in school. But at recess, on the steps outside the big door, one read aloud in turn while the others ate their apples. And Hattie came, too, when she liked, and Sadie. But one carried the book home, that one might not be parted from it.
To-day it was with Emmy Lou. It had certain treasures between its leaves. One expects to find faint sweet rose-leaves between the pages of the Green and Gold Book, and the scrap of tinsel recalls the gleam and shimmer of the goose girl's ball-dress of woven moonbeams.
To-day the book was in Emmy Lou's desk.
Emmy Lou was at the board. It was Problems. She did not need a book. Miss Lizzie dictated when one was at the board. Emmy Lou was poor at Problems and Miss Lizzie was cross about it.
Sadie, at her desk, needed a book. She had forgotten her Arithmetic, and asked permission to borrow Emmy Lou's.
She went to get it. She pulled it out. Sadie had a way of being unfortunate. She also pulled another book out which fell open on the floor, shedding rose-leaves and tinsel.
The green and gold glitter of the book caught Miss Lizzie's eye.
Her fingers had been tearing at bits of paper all morning until her desk was strewn.
"Bring it to me," she said.
Miss Lizzie took the book from Sadie and looked at it.
Emmy Lou had just failed quite miserably at Problems. Miss Lizzie's face changed. It was as if a white rage passed over it. She stepped to the stove and cast the book in.
The very flames turned green and gold.
It was gone—the world of glamour, of glory, of dreams—the world of Emmy Lou and Rosalie, of Alice and Amanthus.
It was not Emmy Lou. It was a cry through Emmy Lou. Emmy Lou was just beginning to grow tall, just losing the round-eyed faith of babyhood.
"You hadn't any right."
It was terrible. The Fourth Reader class failed to breathe.
Emmy Lou must say she was sorry. Emmy Lou would not.
The hours of school dragged on. Emmy Lou sat silent.
Rosalie looked at her. Laughter had died in Rosalie's cheek. Rosalie pressed her fingers tight in misery for Emmy Lou.
Sadie looked at Emmy Lou. Sadie wept.
Hattie looked at Emmy Lou. Hattie straightened her straight little back and ground her little teeth. Hattie was of that blood which has risen up and slain for affection's sake.
This was an Emmy Lou nobody knew—white-cheeked, brooding, defiant. There are strange potentialities in every Emmy Lou.
The last bell rang.
Emmy Lou must say she was sorry. Emmy Lou would not.
Everyone went—everyone but Emmy Lou and Miss Lizzie—casting backward looks of awe and commiseration.
To be left alone in that nearness solitude entails meant torture, the torture of loathing, of shrinking, of revulsion.
She must say she was sorry. Emmy Lou was not sorry.
She sat dry-eyed. The tears would come later. More than once this year they had come after home and Aunt Cordelia's arms were reached. And Aunt Cordelia had thought it was because one was growing too fast. And Aunt Cordelia had rocked and patted and sung about "The Frog Who Would A-Wooing Go."
And then Emmy Lou had laughed because Aunt Cordelia did not know that The Frog and Jenny Wren and The Little Wee Bear were gone into the past, and The Green and Gold Book come to take their place.
The bell had rung at two o'clock. At three Tom came. Tom was the house-boy. He was suave and saddle-coloured and smiling. He had come for Emmy Lou.
Miss Lizzie looked at Emmy Lou. Emmy Lou looked straight ahead.
Then Miss Lizzie looked at Tom. Miss Lizzie could do a good deal with a look. Tom became uneasy, apologetic, guilty. Then he went. It took a good deal to wilt Tom.
At half-past three he knocked at the door again. He gave his message from outside the threshold this time. Emmy Lou must come home. Miss Cordelia said so. Emmy Lou's papa had come.
Emmy Lou heard Papa—who came a hundred miles once a month to see her.
Would Emmy Lou say she was sorry? Emmy Lou was not sorry, she could not.
Miss Lizzie shut the door in Tom's face.
Later Aunt Cordelia, bonnet on, returning from the school, explained to her brother-in-law.
Her brother-in-law regarded her thoughtfully through his eye-glasses. He was an editor, and had a mental habit of classifying people while they talked, and putting them away in pigeon-holes. While Aunt Cordelia talked he was putting her in a pigeon-hole marked "Guileless."
"She stood on the outside of the door, Brother Richard," said Aunt Cordelia, quite flushed and breathless, "with the door drawn to behind her. She's a terrifying woman, Richard. She said it was a case for discipline. She said she would allow no interference. My precious baby! And I kept on giving her iron——"
Uncle Charlie had come out with the buggy to take his brother-in-law driving.
"What did you come back without her for?" demanded Uncle Charlie.
Aunt Cordelia turned on Uncle Charlie. "You go and see why," said Aunt Cordelia.
Truly an Aunt Cordelia is the last one to stand before a Miss Lizzie.
Uncle Charlie took his brother-in-law in the buggy, and they drove to the school. Emmy Lou's father went in.
Uncle Charlie sat in the buggy and waited. Uncle Charlie wondered if it was right. Miss Lizzie was one of three. One was in an asylum. One was kept at home. And Miss Lizzie, with her rages, taught.
But could one speak, and take work and bread from a Miss Lizzie?
When papa came down, he had Emmy Lou, white-cheeked, by the hand. He had also a sternness about his mouth.
"I got her, you see," he explained with an assumption of comical chagrin, "but with limitations. She's got to say she's sorry, or she can't come back."
"I'm not sorry," said Emmy Lou wearily, but with steadiness.
"Stick it out," said Uncle Charlie, who knew his Emmy Lou.
"She needn't go back this year," said Aunt Cordelia when she heard, "my precious baby!"
"I will teach her at home," said Aunt Louise.
"There must be other Green and Gold Books," said papa, "growing on that same tree."
But Uncle Charlie, with brows drawn into a frown, was wondering.
ALL THE WINDS OF DOCTRINE
Emmy Lou was now a Big Girl. One climbed from floor to floor as one went up in Readers. With the Fifth Reader one reached the dizzy eminence of top. Emmy Lou now stood, as it were, upon a peak in Darien and stared at the great unknown, rolling ahead, called The Grammar School.
Behind, descended the grades of one's achievements back to the A, B, C of things. One had once been a pygmy part of the Primer World on the first floor one's self, and from there had gazed upward at the haloed beings peopling these same Fifth Reader Heights.
But Emmy Lou felt that somehow she was failing to experience the expected sense of dizzy height, or the joy of perquisite and privilege. To be sure, being a Big Girl, she found herself at recess, one of many, taking hands in long, undulating line, and, like the Assyrian, sweeping down on the fold, while the fold, in the shape of little girls, fled shrieking before the onslaught.
But there had been a time when Emmy Lou had been a little girl, and had fled, shrieking, herself. The memory kept her from quite enjoying the onslaught now, though of course a little girl of the under world is only a Primary and must be made to feel it. The privileged members of the Fifth Reader World are Intermediates.
They are other things, too. They are Episcopalians or Presbyterians or some other correspondingly polysyllabic thing, as the case may be. In this case each seemed to be a different thing. Hattie first called the attention of Emmy Lou to it.
The Fifth Reader members ate lunch in groups. Without knowing it, one was growing gregarious. And as becomes a higher social state, one passed one's luncheon around.
Emmy Lou passed her luncheon around. Emmy Lou herself knew the joys of eating; and hers, too, was a hospitable soul. She brought liberal luncheons. On this day, between the disks of her beaten biscuit showed the pinkness of sliced ham.
Mary Agatha drew back; Mary Agatha was Emmy Lou's newest friend. "It's Friday," said Mary Agatha.
"Of course," said Rosalie, "I forgot." Rosalie put her biscuit back.
"It's ham," said Rebecca Steinau.
Emmy Lou was hurt. It seemed almost like preconcerted reflection on her biscuits and her ham.
Hattie took Emmy Lou aside. "It's their religion," said Hattie, in tones of large tolerance. "We can eat anything, you and I, 'Piscopalians and Presbyterians."
"But Rosalie," said Emmy Lou; Rosalie, like Emmy Lou, was Episcopalian.
But Rosalie had joined Hattie and Emmy Lou. "My little brother's singing in the vested choir," said Rosalie, "and we're going to be High Church."
Hattie looked at Rosalie steadily. Then Hattie took another biscuit. Hattie took another biscuit, deliberately, aggressively. It was as though, with Hattie, to take another biscuit was a matter of conscience and protest. Hattie was Presbyterian.
But to Emmy Lou biscuits and ham had lost their savour. Emmy Lou admired Rebecca. Rebecca could reduce pounds and shillings to pence with a rapidity that Emmy Lou could not even follow. Yet Rebecca stooped from this eminence to help labouring Emmy Lou with her sums.
And Emmy Lou saw life through Rosalie's eyes. Emmy Lou trudged unquestioningly after, where the winged feet of Rosalie's fancy led. For yet about Rosalie's light footsteps trailed back some clouds of glory, and through the eyes of Rosalie one still caught visions of the glory and the dream.
And high as are the peaks of the Fifth Reader Heights, Mary Agatha stood on one yet higher. Mary Agatha went to church, not only on Sundays, but on Saints' days.
Mary Agatha loved to go to church.
But, for the matter of that, Rebecca went to church on Saturdays. When did Rebecca play?
To Emmy Lou church meant several things. It meant going, when down in her depraved heart lay the knowledge she tried to hide even from herself that she did not want to go. It meant a sore and troubled conscience, because her eye would travel ahead on the page to the Amens. The Amens signified the end. And it meant a fierce and unholy joy that would not down, when that end came.
But Mary Agatha loved to go to church. And Rebecca gave Saturdays to church. And now Rosalie, who admired Mary Agatha, was taking to church. No wonder that to Emmy Lou biscuits and ham were tasteless.
But the Fifth Reader is an Age of Revelation. One is more than an Intermediate. One is an Animal and a Biped. One had to confess it on paper in a Composition under the head of "Man."
One accepted the Intermediate and Biped easily, because of a haziness of comprehension, but to hear that one is an Animal was a shock.
But Miss Fanny said so. Miss Fanny also said the course in Language was absurd. She said it under her breath. She said it as Emmy Lou handed in her Composition on "Man."
So one was an animal. One felt confidence in Miss Fanny's statements. Miss Fanny walked lightly, she laughed in her eyes; that last fact one did not cherish against Miss Fanny, though sometimes one smiled doubtfully back at her. Was Miss Fanny laughing at one?
Miss Fanny was a Real Person. The others had been Teachers. Miss Fanny had a grandpapa. He was rich. And she had a mamma who cried about Miss Fanny's teaching school. But her grandpapa said he was proud of Miss Fanny.
Emmy Lou knew all about Miss Fanny. Miss Fanny's sister was Aunt Louise's best friend.
Mr. Bryan, the Principal, came often to the Fifth Reader room. He came for Language Lessons. Mr. Bryan told them he had himself introduced the Course in Language into the School Curriculum.
Its purpose, he explained, was to increase the comprehension and vocabulary of the child. The paucity of vocabulary of even the average adult, he said, is lamentable.
"In all moments of verbal doubt and perplexity," said Mr. Bryan, "seek the Dictionary. In its pages you will find both vocabulary and elucidation."
Toward spring Religions became more absorbing than ever. One day Rebecca and Gertie and Rachel brought notes. Rebecca and Gertie and Rachel must thereafter be excused on certain days at an early hour for attendance at Confirmation Class.
Miss Fanny said "Of course." But she reminded them of Examination for the Grammar School looming ahead.
A little later a second influx of notes piled Miss Fanny's desk. Mary Agatha and Kitty and Nora and Anne must go at noon, three times a week, to their Confirmation Class.
Then Yetta and Paula could not come at all on their instruction days, because the Lutheran Church was far up-town in Germanberg. They, too, were making ready for Confirmation.
Again Miss Fanny reminded them all of Examination.
Just at this time Emmy Lou was having trouble of her own. It was Lent, which meant Church three times a week. Aunt Louise said Emmy Lou must go. She said Emmy Lou, being now a big girl, ought to want to go.
Rosalie, being High, had Church every afternoon. But Rosalie liked it. Emmy Lou feared she was the only one in all the class who did not like it.
Even Sadie must enjoy church. For one day she missed in every lesson and lost her temper and cried; next day she brought a note from her mamma, and then she told Emmy Lou about it; it asked that Sadie be excused for missing, for because of the Revival at her church, Sadie would be up late every night.
Mr. Bryan was in the room when Miss Fanny read this note. She handed it to him.
"To each year its evils, I suppose," said Miss Fanny; "to the Primer its whooping-cough and measles, to the First Reader the shedding of its incisors. With the Fifth Reader comes the inoculation of doctrines. We are living the Ten Great Religions."
Mr. Bryan laid the note down. He said he must caution Miss Fanny that, as Principal or as Teacher, neither he nor she had anything to do with the religions of the children intrusted to their care. And he must remind Miss Fanny that these problems of school life could not be met with levity. He hoped Miss Fanny would take this as he meant it, kindly.
The class listened breathlessly. Was Miss Fanny treating their religions with levity? What is levity?
It was Emmy Lou who asked the others when they sought to pin the accusation to Miss Fanny.
Mary Agatha looked it up in the Dictionary. Then she reported: "Lightness of conduct, want of weight, inconstancy, vanity, frivolity." She told it off with low and accusing enunciation.
It sounded grave. Emmy Lou was troubled. Could Miss Fanny be all this? Could she be guilty of levity?
It was soon after that Mary Agatha brought a note; she told Rosalie and Emmy Lou about it; it asked that Mary Agatha be allowed a seat to herself. This, Mary Agatha explained, was because, preparatory to Confirmation, she was trying to keep her mind from secular things, and a seat to herself would help her to do it.
To Rosalie and Emmy Lou, Mary Agatha was as one already apart from things secular. To them the look on her clear, pale little profile was already rapt.
But Mary Agatha went on to tell them why she was different from Kitty or Nora, or the others of her Confirmation Class. It was because she was going to be a Bride of Heaven.
Rosalie listened, awed. But Emmy Lou did not quite understand.
Mary Agatha looked pityingly at her. "You know what a bride is? And you know what's Heaven?"
The bell rang. Emmy Lou returned to the mental eminence of her Fifth Reader heights, still hazy. Yet she hardly needed the Dictionary, for she knew a bride. Aunt Katie had been a bride. With a diamond star. And presents. And Emmy Lou knew Heaven.
Though lately Emmy Lou's ideas of Heaven had broadened. Hitherto, Heaven, conceived of the primitive, primary mind, had been a matter of vague numbers seated in parallel rows, answering to something akin to Roll Call, and awarded accordingly. But lately, a birthday had brought Emmy Lou a book called "Tanglewood Tales." And Heaven had since taken on an Olympian colouring and diversity more complex and perplexing.
Miss Fanny read Mary Agatha's note, and looking down at her said that she wondered, since every desk was in use in its dual capacity, if Mary Agatha were to devote herself quite closely to reducing pounds to pence, would it not be possible for her to forget her nearness to things secular?
Mary Agatha was poor in Arithmetic. And Miss Fanny was laughing in her eyes. Was Miss Fanny laughing at Mary Agatha?
Mary Agatha cried at recess. She said her Papa furnished pokers and tongs and shovels and dust-pans for the public schools, and he would see to it that she had a seat to herself if she wanted it.
But when the class went up from recess, there was a seat for Mary Agatha. Miss Fanny had sent the note down to Mr. Bryan, and he had arranged it. It was a table from the office, and a stool. For want of other place, they stood beneath the blackboard in front of the class. It was a high stool.
Being told, Mary Agatha gathered her books together and went and climbed upon her stool, apart from things secular.
Miss Fanny turned to Mr. Bryan. "For the propagation of infant Saint Stylites," said Miss Fanny.
"Ur-r—exactly," said Mr. Bryan. He said it a little, perhaps, doubtfully.
Suddenly Mr. Bryan grew red. He had caught Miss Fanny's eyes laughing, and saw her mouth twitching. Was Miss Fanny laughing at Mr. Bryan? What about?
Mr. Bryan went out. He closed the door. It closed sharply.
Then everything came at once. Hot weather, and roses and syringa piling Miss Fanny's desk, and Reviews for Examination, and Confirmations.
Mary Agatha asked them to her confirmation. Rosalie and Emmy Lou went. The great doors at Mary Agatha's church opened and closed behind them; it was high and dim; there were twinkling lights and silence, and awe, and colour. Something quivered. It burst forth. It was music. It was almost as if it hurt. One drew a deep breath and shut one's eyes a moment because it hurt; then one opened them. The aisles were filled with little girls in misty white and floating veils, stealing forward.
And Mary Agatha was among them.
Rosalie told Emmy Lou she meant some day to belong to Mary Agatha's church. Emmy Lou thought she would, too.
But afterward Emmy Lou found herself wavering. Was Emmy Lou's a sordid soul? For next came Confirmation at the Synagogue, and that, it seemed, meant presents. Gertie wore to school a locket on a glittering chain; Rebecca showed a new ring. Emmy Lou's faith was wavering.
About this time Miss Fanny spoke her mind. Because of excuses and absences, because of abstractions and absorptions, Miss Fanny said marks were low; and she reminded them of Examination for the Grammar School near at hand. Then she asked a little girl named Sally why she had failed to hand in her Composition.
Sally said her church was having a season of prayer, and her Mother said Sally was old enough now to go, and as it was both afternoons and evenings, Sally had had no time to write a Composition.
Miss Fanny told Sally to remain in at recess and write it. Mr. Bryan had inquired for her Composition.
Sally remained in tears. The subject for her Composition was "Duty."
Miss Fanny put her hand on Sally's shoulder and said something about a divided duty. And Sally cried some more, and Miss Fanny sat down at the desk and helped her.
Emmy Lou saw it. She had come upstairs, in a moment of doubt and perplexity, to consult the Dictionary; the word was heretic.
It was this way. They had been in a group at recess and Mary Agatha was dividing her button-string. Mary Agatha said she had given up worldly things, and it would be a sin for her to own a button-string.
She offered Hattie a button. Hattie refused it; she said if it was a sin to own a button-string, why should Mary Agatha offer her buttons to other people? And she walked off. Hattie had an uncompromising way of putting things. Hattie was a Presbyterian.
Emmy Lou felt anxious; she had been offered a button first and had taken it gratefully, for her button-string was short.
But Mary Agatha assured her that she and Hattie and the others of the group could own button-strings where Mary Agatha could not. A mere matter of a button-string made small difference. They were Heretics.
Rosalie put her arm about Emmy Lou. Being High Church, she did not take it to herself; she took it for Emmy Lou.
Emmy Lou hesitated. Ought she to be offended? Was she a Heretic? Emmy Lou was cautious, for she had contradicted Hattie about being an Animal, and then had to confess on paper that such she was.
But Sadie had no doubts. Sadie, following the revival, had joined the church, and she felt she knew where she stood. "I'd have you know," said Sadie, "I'm a Christian," and Sadie began to cry.
Rebecca Steinau lifted her black eyes. She gave her beringed little hand a dramatic and conclusive wave. "You're all of you Gentiles," said Rebecca.
Emmy Lou left the group. As Animal, Biped, Intermediate, Low Church, Episcopalian, Gentile, and possible Heretic, she went upstairs to seek the Dictionary. It was a moment of doubt and perplexity; with labouring absorption she and her index finger pored over the page.
"One whose errors are doctrinal and usually of a malignant character—" Ought she to be offended?
The bell rang. The class filed in. Sadie's eyes were red. Miss Fanny tried not to see her—her eyes were chronically red. But so insistently and ostentatiously did Sadie continue to mop them, that Miss Fanny was compelled to take notice.
Sadie told her grievances. Her voice broke on Heretic, and she wept afresh at Gentile.
Miss Fanny was outdone. She said they had better all be little Heretics than little Pharisees; she said she only needed a few infant Turks and Infidels, and her sectarian Babel would be complete.
That day there were more notes. Miss Fanny gave them this time. To Sadie and Mary Agatha and Rebecca and Sally among others.
Emmy Lou heard about the notes afterward. Each said the same thing. Each said that Sadie or Rebecca or Mary Agatha or whichever little girl it might be, had repeatedly fallen below; that she had not for weeks given her mind to her lessons, and she could not conscientiously be recommended as ready for Examination for the Grammar School.
The next day, near recess, there came a knock at the Fifth Reader door. Sadie's mamma came in. Sadie grew red. One always grows red when it is one's relative who comes in. Sadie's mamma was a pale, little lady who cried. She cried now. She said that for Sadie to be kept back for no other reason than her natural piety, was evidence of a personal dislike. She said Miss Fanny had upheld another little girl who called Sadie a Heretic.
Miss Fanny asked Sadie's mamma to sit down on the bench. Recess was near, and then Miss Fanny could talk.
There came a knock at the door. A lady with black eyes came in. Rebecca got red. It was Rebecca's mamma. She said Rebecca had always done well at school. She said Rebecca was grand at figures. She said Miss Fanny had thrown her religion at Rebecca, and had called her a Pharisee.
Miss Fanny asked Rebecca's mamma to sit down on the bench. It would soon be recess.
Sadie's mamma and Rebecca's mamma looked at each other coldly.
The door opened. Sally got red. Sally looked frightened. It was Sally's mamma. The flower in her bonnet shook when she talked. She said Sally had refused to go to church for fear of Miss Fanny. And because Sally had been made to do her religious duty she was being threatened with failure——
Miss Fanny interrupted Sally's mamma to say there was the bench, if she cared to sit down. At recess Miss Fanny would be at leisure.
Mr. Bryan threw open the door. Mary Agatha grew pink as Mr. Bryan waved in a slender lady with trailing silken skirts and reproachful eyes. It was Mary Agatha's mamma. She said that even with the note, threatening Mary Agatha with failure, she could not have believed it true; that Miss Fanny disliked Mary Agatha because of the seat to herself; that Miss Fanny had classed Mary Agatha with Turks and Infidels—but since Mr. Bryan had just admitted downstairs that he had had to caution Miss Fanny about this matter of religion——
Miss Fanny looked at Mr. Bryan. Then she rang the bell. It was not yet recess-time; but since Miss Fanny rang the bell, the Fifth Reader Class filed out wonderingly. Miss Fanny, looking at Mr. Bryan, had a queer smile in her eyes. Yet it was not as though Miss Fanny's smile was laughter.
But, after all, Sadie and Mary Agatha and Sally and Rebecca did try at Examination. Miss Fanny, it seemed, insisted they should. A teacher from the Grammar School came and examined the class.
Later, one went back to find out. There was red ink written across the reports of Sadie and Sally and Mary Agatha and Rebecca. It said "Failure."
Emmy Lou breathed. There was no red ink on her report. Emmy Lou had passed for the Grammar School.
Down-stairs Mary Agatha said her papa would see to it because she had failed. Her papa furnished pokers and shovels for the schools, and her papa would call on the Board.
Mary Agatha's Papa did see to it, and the papas of Sadie and Sally and Rebecca supported him. They called it religious persecution; and they wanted Miss Fanny removed.
Emmy Lou heard about it at home. It was vacation.
Uncle Charlie owned a newspaper. It was for Miss Fanny. And Miss Fanny's grandpapa, talking at the gate with Uncle Charlie, struck the pavement hard with his cane; he'd see about it, too, said her grandpapa. Emmy Lou heard him.
But when it came time for the Board to meet, Miss Fanny, it seemed, had resigned. Aunt Louise read it out of the paper at breakfast.
"How strange—" said Aunt Louise.
"Not at all," said Uncle Charlie.
Aunt Louise said, "Oh!" She was reading on down the column.
"—resignation by request, because the Board, in recognition of her merit and record as Teacher, has appointed her Principal of the new school on Elm Street."
"But she's not a man," said Emmy Lou when it had been explained to her. Emmy Lou was bewildered.
"It's a departure," said Uncle Charlie.
"Don't tease her, Charlie," said Aunt Cordelia.
Emmy Lou felt troubled; she liked Miss Fanny; she could not bear to contemplate her in the guise of Principal. One could never like Miss Fanny then any more.
Miss Fanny's mamma had cried because Miss Fanny was a teacher, Emmy Lou remembered. But that was nothing to this.
Some teachers could be nice. Miss Fanny had been nice. But to be a Principal!
Emmy Lou had known but one type. She looked up from her plate. "I reckon Miss Fanny's mamma will cry some more," said Emmy Lou.
THE CONFINES OF CONSISTENCY
Aunt Louise was opposed to the public school.
Uncle Charlie said he feared Aunt Louise did not appreciate the democratic institutions of her country.
Emmy Lou caught the word—democratic; later she had occasion to consider it further.
Aunt Louise said that Uncle Charlie was quite right in his fear, and the end was that Emmy Lou was started at private school.
But it was not a school—it was only a Parlour; and there being a pupil more than there were accommodations, and Emmy Lou being the new-comer, her portion was a rocking-chair and a lap-board.
There was not even a real teacher, only an old lady who called one "my dear."
At home Emmy Lou cried with her head buried in Aunt Cordelia's new bolster sham; for how could she confess to Hattie and to Rosalie that it was a parlour and a lap-board?
Upon consultation, Uncle Charlie said, let her do as she pleased, since damage to her seemed to be inevitable either way. So, Emmy Lou, rejoicing, departed one morning for the Grammar School.
Public school being different from private school, Emmy Lou at once began to learn things. For instance, at Grammar School, one no longer speaks of boys in undertones. One assumes an attitude of having always known boys. At Grammar School, classes attend chapel. There are boys in Chapel, still separated from the girls, to be sure, after the manner of the goats from the sheep; but after one learns to laugh from the corners of one's eyes at boys, a dividing line of mere aisle is soon abridged. Watching Rosalie, Emmy Lou discovered this.
There was a boy in Chapel whom she knew, but it takes courage to look out of the corners of one's eyes, and Emmy Lou could only find sufficient to look straight, which is altogether a different thing. But the boy saw her. Emmy Lou looked away quickly.
Once the boy's name had been Billy; later, at dancing school, it was Willie; now, the Principal who conducted Chapel Exercises called him William.
Emmy Lou liked this Principal. He had white hair, and when it fell into his eyes he would stand it wildly over his head, running his fingers through its thickness; but one did not laugh because of greater interest in what he said.
Emmy Lou asked Rosalie the Principal's name, but Rosalie was smiling backward at a boy as the classes filed out of Chapel. Afterward she explained that his name was Mr. Page.
At Grammar School Emmy Lou continued to learn things. The pupils of a grammar school abjure school bags; a Geography now being a folio volume measurable in square feet, it is the thing to build upon its basic foundation an edifice of other text-books, and carry the sum total to and fro on an aching arm.
Nor do grammar-school pupils bring lunch; they bring money, and buy lunch—pies, or doughnuts, or pickles—having done with the infant pabulum of primary bread and butter.
Nor does so big a girl as a grammar-school pupil longer confess to any infantile abbreviation of entitlement; she gives her full baptismal name and is written down, as in Emmy Lou's case, Emily Louise Pope MacLauren, which has its drawbacks; for she sometimes fails to recognise the unaccustomed sound of that name when called unexpectedly from the platform.
For at twelve years, an Emmy Lou finds herself dreaming, and watching the clouds through the school-room windows. The reading lesson concerns one Alnaschar, the Barber's Fifth Brother; and while the verses go droningly round, the kalsomined blue walls fade, and one wanders the market-place of Bagdad, amid bales of rich stuffs, and trays of golden trinkets and mysteries that trouble not, purveyors and Mussulmen, eunuchs and seraglios, khans, mosques, drachmas—one has no idea what they mean, nor does one care: on every hand in Life lie mysteries, why not in books? The thing is, to seize upon the Story, and to let the other go.
And so Emily Louise fails to answer to the baptismal fulness of her name spoken from the platform, until at a neighbour's touch she springs up, blushing.
But, somehow, she did not take the reproach in Miss Amanda's voice to heart; Miss Amanda was given to saying reproachfully, "Please, p-ple-e-ase—young ladies," many times a day, but after a brief pause one returned to pleasant converse with a neighbour.
Jokes were told about Miss Amanda among the girls, and, gathering at recess about her desk, her pupils would banter Miss Amanda as to who was her favourite, whereupon, she, pleased and flattered, would make long and detailed refutation of any show of partiality.
Miss Amanda pinned a bow in her hair, and wore a chain, and rings, and was given to frequent patting and pushing of her hair into shape; was it possible Miss Amanda felt herself to be—pretty?
Ordinarily, however, Emily Louise did not think much about her one way or another, except at those times when Miss Amanda tried to be funny; then she quite hated her with unreasoning fierceness.
Right now Miss Amanda was desiring Emily Louise MacLauren to give attention.
Once a week there was public recitation in the Chapel. Mr. Page considered it good for boys and girls to work together, which was a new way of regarding it peculiar to grammar school, for hitherto, boys, like the skull and cross-bones bottles in Aunt Cordelia's closet, had been things to be avoided.
"To-morrow," Miss Amanda was explaining, "the chapel recitation will be in grammar; you will conjugate," Miss Amanda simpered, "the verb—to love," with playful meaning in her emphasis; "but I need have no fear, young ladies," archly, "that you will let yourselves be beaten at this lesson."
Miss Amanda meant to be funny. Emily Louise, for one, looked stonily ahead; not for anything would she smile.
But the weekly recitation varied, and there came a week when the classes were assembled for a lesson in composition.
Mr. Page laughed at what he called flowery effusions. "Use the matter and life about you," he said.
"There is one boy," he went on to state, "whose compositions are generally good for that reason. William, step up, sir, and let us hear what you have made of this."
William arose. He was still square, but he was no longer short; there was a straight and handsome bridge building to his nose, and he had taken to tall collars. William's face was somewhat suffused at this summons to publicity, but his smile was cheerful and unabashed. His composition was on "Conscience." So were the compositions of the others; but his was different.
"A boy has one kind of a conscience," read William, "and a girl has another kind. Two girls met a cow. 'Look her right in the face and pretend like we aren't afraid,' said the biggest girl; but the littlest girl had a conscience. 'Won't it be deceiving the cow?' she wanted to know."
Emily Louise blushed; how could William! For Emily Louise was "the littlest girl;" Hattie was the other, and William had come along and driven the cow away.
William was still reading: "There was a girl found a quarter in the snow. She thought how it would buy five pies, or ten doughnuts, or fifteen pickles, and then she thought about the person who would come back and find the place in the snow and no quarter, and so she went and put the quarter back."
How could William! Mr. Page, his hair wildly rumpled, was clapping hand to knee; even the teachers were trying not to smile. Emily Louise blushed hotter, for Emily Louise, taking the quarter back, had met William.
"Boys are different," stated William's composition. "There was a boy went to the office to be whipped. The strap hit a stone in his pocket. So the Principal, who went around on Saturdays with a hammer tapping rocks, let the boy off. He didn't know the boy got the rock out the alley on purpose. But I reckon boys have some kind of a conscience. That boy felt sort of mean."
It was the teachers who were laughing now, while Mr. Page, running his fingers through his hair, wore a smile—arrested, reflective, considering. But it broadened; there are Principals, here and there, who can appreciate a William.
The cheek of Emily Louise might be hot, but in her heart was a newer feeling; was it pleasure? Something, somewhere, was telling Emily Louise that William liked her the better for these things he was laughing at. Was she pleased thereat? Never. Her cheek grew hotter. Yet the pleasurable sensation was there. Suddenly she understood. It was because of this tribute to the condition of her conscience. Of course it would be perfectly proper, therefore, to determine to keep up this reputation with William.
There was other proof that William liked her. At grammar school it was the proper thing to own an autograph album. William's page in the album of Emily Louise was a triumph in purple ink upon a pinkish background. Not that William had written it. Jimmy Reed had written it for him. Jimmy wielded a master pen in flourish and shading, upon which he put a price accordingly. A mere name cost the patrons of Jimmy a pickle, while a pledge to eternal friendship or sincerity was valued at a doughnut. For the feelings in verse, one paid a pie.
William had paid a pie, and his sentiments at maximum price thus set forth declared:
"True friendship is a golden knot Which angles' hands have tied, By heavenly skill its textures wrought Who shall its folds divide?"
Emily Louise wondered about the "angles hands." What were they? It never suggested itself that a master of the pen such as Jimmy might be weak in spelling.
One has to meet new responsibilities at grammar school, too; one has to be careful with whom she associates.
Associate was Isobel's word; she used many impressive words, but then Isobel was different; she spelled her name with an o, and she did not live in a home; Isobel lived in a hotel, and her papa was the holder of a government position. Hattie's papa, someone told Emily Louise, had wanted to hold it, but Isobel's papa got it.
Isobel said a person must discriminate. This Emily Louise found meant, move in groups that talked each about the others. Isobel and Rosalie pointed out to Emily Louise that the nice girls were in their group.
Yet Hattie was not in it; Emily Louise wondered why.
"It depends on who you are," said Isobel, with the sweeping calmness of one whose position is assured. "My papa is own second cousin to the Attorney-General of the United States."
And that this claim conveyed small meaning to the group about Isobel, made her family connections by no means the less impressive and to be envied. The Isobels supply their part of the curriculum of grammar school.
Emily Louise went home anxious. "Have I a family?" she inquired.
"It's hard to say, since you abandoned it," said Uncle Charlie.
Emily Louise blushed; she did not feel just happy in her mind yet about those dolls buried in a mausoleum-like trunk in the attic.
She explained: the kind of family that has a tree? Did she belong to a family? Had she a tree?
"The only copper beech in town," said Uncle Charlie.
But Aunt Cordelia's vulnerable spot was touched; she grew quite heated. Emily Louise learned that she was a Pringle and a Pope.
"And a MacLauren?" queried Emily Louise.
But Aunt Cordelia's enthusiasm had cooled.
There came a time when Emily Louise divined why. All at once talk began at school, about a thing looming ahead, called an Election. It seemed a disturbing thing, keeping Uncle Charlie at the office all hours. And when in time it actually arrived, Emily Louise could not go to school that day because the way would take her past the Polls, yet ordinarily this was only the grocery; but so dreadful a place is it when it becomes a poll, that Aunt Cordelia could not go to it for her marketing.
Hitherto, except when Miss Amanda wanted to be funny, Emily Louise had felt her to be inoffensive; but as election became the absorbing topic of Grammar School, a dreadful thing came to light—Miss Amanda was a Republican.
Hattie told Emily Louise; her voice was low and full of horror. For Hattie reflected the spirit of her State and age; the State was in the South, the year was preceding the '80's.
Emily Louise lowered her voice, too; it was to ask just what is a Republican. She was conscious of a vagueness.
Hattie looked at her, amazed. "A Republican—why—people who are not Democrats—of course."
"How does one know which one is?" asked Emily Louise, feeling that it would be disconcerting, considering public opinion, to find herself a Republican.
Hattie looked tried. "You're what your father is, naturally. I should think you'd know that, Emily Louise."
On the way from school William joined Emily Louise.
"What's a Republican, William?" she asked.
His countenance changed. "It's—well—it's the sort you don't want to have anything to do with," said William, darkly.
Emily Louise, knowing how William regarded her conscientiousness, was uneasy because of a certain recollection. She must get to the bottom of this. She sought Aunt Louise privately. "Aren't you a Democrat?" she inquired.
The indignant response of Aunt Louise was disconcerting. "What else could you dream I am?" she demanded with asperity.
"You said you didn't approve of Democratic Institutions," explained Emily Louise, recalling.
"I approve of nothing under Republican domination," said Aunt Louise haughtily—which was muddling.
"What's Papa?" asked Emily Louise, suddenly.
Aunt Louise, dressing for a party, shut her door sharply.
One could ask Aunt Cordelia. But Aunt Cordelia turned testy, and even told Emily Louise to run away.
Uncle Charlie was gone.
There was Aunt M'randa and Tom, so Emily Louise sought the kitchen. It was after supper. Tom was spelling the news from a paper spread on the table, and Aunt M'randa was making up the flannel cakes for breakfast.
"Who? Yo' paw?" said Tom; "he's a Republican; he done edit that kinder paper over 'cross the Ohier River, he does."
There was unction in the glib quickness of Tom's reply. Then he dodged; it was just in time.
"Shet yo' mouf," said Aunt M'randa with wrath; "ain't I done tol' how they've kep' it from the chile."
Emily Louise was swallowing hard. "Then—then—am I a Republican?" Her voice sounded way off.
Aunt M'randa turned a scandalised face upon her last baby in the family. "Co'se yer ain't chile; huccome yer think sech er thing? Ain't yer done learned its sinnahs is lumped wi' 'publicans—po' whites, an' cul'd folks an' sech?"
The comfort in Aunt M'randa's reassuring was questionable. "But—you said—my papa—" said Emily Louise.
The tension demanded relief. Aunt M'randa turned on Tom. "I lay I bus' yo' haid open ef yer don't quit yo' stan'in' wi' yer mouf gapin' at the trouble yer done made."
Aunt M'randa was sparring for time.
"Don' yer worry 'bout dat, honey"—this to Emily Louise—"hit's jes' one dese here mistakes in jogaphy, seem like, same es yer tell erbout gettin' kep' in foh. Huccome a gen'man like yo' paw, got bawn y'other side de Ohier River, 'ceptin' was an acci-dent? Dess tell me dat? But dere's 'nough quality dis here side de fam'ly to keep yer a good Dem'crat, honey—" and Aunt M'randa, muttering, glared at Tom.
For Emily Louise was gazing into a gulf wider than the river rolling between home—and papa, a gulf called war; nor did Emily Louise know, as Aunt M'randa knew, that it was a baby's little fists clutching at Aunt Cordelia that had bridged that gulf.
Emily Louise turned away—her papa was that thing for lowered voice and bated breath—her papa—was a Republican.
Then Emily Louise was a Republican also. Hattie said so; Aunt M'randa did not know. At twelve one begins determinedly to face facts.
Yet the very next day Emily Louise made discovery that a greater than her papa had been that thing for lowered tones. She was working upon her weekly composition, and this week the subject was "George Washington."
Emily Louise had just set forth upon legal cap her opening conclusions upon the matter. She had gone deep into the family annals of George, for, by nature, Emily Louise was thorough, and William had testified that she was conscientious.
"George Washington was a great man and so was his mother."
Here she paused, pen suspended; for the full meaning of a statement in the history spread before her had suddenly dawned upon her; for that history declared George Washington "a firm advocate for these republican principles."
Should an Emily Louise then turn traitor to her father, or should she desert an Aunt Cordelia and an Aunt Louise?
Life is complex. At twelve a pucker of absorption and concentration begins to gather between the brows.
On the homeward way, William was waiting at the corner. "What is a person when they are not either Democrat or Republican?" Emily Louise asked as they went along.
William's tones were uncompromising. "A mugwump," he said, and he said it with contempt.
It sounded unpleasant, and as though it ought to merit the contempt of William.
And grammar was becoming as complex as life itself. One forenoon Emily Louise was called upon to recite the rule. Every day it was a different rule, which in itself was discouraging. But the exceptions were worse than the rule; for a rule is a matter of a mere paragraph, while the exceptions are measurable by pages.
But Emily Louise knew the rule. Even with town one background for flag and bunting; even with the streets one festive processional; even with the advent, in her city, of the President of the United States on his tour of the South; even with this in her civic precincts, Emily Louise, arising, was able correctly to recite the rule.
"An article should only be used once before a complex description of one and the same object."
"An example," said Miss Amanda.
Emily Louise stood perplexed, for none had been given in the book.
"Simply apply the rule and make your own," said Miss Amanda.
But it did not seem simple; Emily Louise was still thinking in the concrete.
Hattie had grasped abstractions. Hattie waved her hand. There was a scarlet spot upon her cheek. Before school there had been words between Hattie and Isobel. The politics of the President of the United States had figured in it, and Emily Louise had learned that the President was a Republican. And yet flags! And processions!
Miss Amanda said, "Well, Hattie?"
Hattie arose. "There is a single, only, solitary Republican pupil in this class," said she promptly and with emphasis.
Miss Amanda might proceed to consider the proposition grammatically, her mind being on the rule, and not the import, but the class interpreted it as Hattie meant they should. In their midst! And unsuspected!
Emily Louise grew hot. Could Hattie, would Hattie, do this thing? Hattie, accuse her thus? Yet who else could Hattie mean? The heart of Emily Louise swelled—Hattie to do this thing!
And Hattie was wrong. She should know that she was wrong. She should read it in her own autograph album, just brought to Emily Louise for her inscribing. Emily Louise remained in at recess. Verse was beyond her. She recognised her limitations. Some are born to prose and some to higher things. She applied herself to a plain statement in Hattie's album:
Dear Hattie: I am a Mugwump and your true friend. Emily Louise Maclauren.
Then she put the book on Hattie's desk as the bell rang.
With the class came a visible and audible excitement. Mr. Page followed, his hair wildly erect, and he conversed with Miss Amanda hurriedly.
With visual signalling and labial dumb show, Emily Louise implored enlightenment.
"Ours is the honour class, so we're to be chosen," enunciated Hattie, in a staccato whisper.
Rosalie was nearer. "There's to be a presentation—in the Chapel," whispered Rosalie; "sh-h—he's going to choose us—now——"
Mr. Page and Miss Amanda were surveying the class. Some two score pairs of eager eyes sought each to stay those glances upon themselves. Perhaps Mr. Page lacked courage.
"The choice I leave to you," said he to Miss Amanda. Then he went.
Miss Amanda was also visibly excited. She settled her chain and puffed the elaborate coiffure of her hair, the while she continued to survey the class. She looked hesitant and undecided, glancing from row to row; then, as from some inspiration, her face cleared and she grew arch, shaking a finger playfully. "To the victors belong the spoils," she said with sprightly humour, "and it will, at least, narrow the choice. I will ask those young ladies whose fathers chance to be of a Republican way of thinking to please arise."
A silence followed—a silence of disappointment to the many; then Emily Louise MacLauren arose.
Was retribution following thus fast because of that subterfuge of Mugwump? Alas for that conscientiousness of which she had once been proud! Was it the measure of her degradation she read on Rosalie's startled face—Rosalie's face of stricken incredulity and amaze? But no; Rosalie's transfixed gaze was not on Emily Louise—it passed her, to——
To where in the aisle beyond stood another—Isobel.
But the head of Isobel was erect, and her eyes flashed triumph; the throw of Isobel's shoulders flung defiance back in the moment of being chosen.
Excitement quivered the voice of Miss Amanda's announcement. "The wife of the President of the United States, young ladies, having signified her intention of to-day visiting our school, the young ladies standing will report to the office at once, to receive instructions as to their part in the programme; though first, perhaps"—did Miss Amanda read sex through self—"a little smoothing of hair—and ribbons——"
Emily Louise on this day carried her news home doubtfully, for Aunt Louise and Aunt Cordelia were of such violent Democracy.
"You were chosen"—Aunt Louise repeated—"Isobel, to make the speech and you to present the flowers?" Aunt Louisa's face was alight with excitement and inquiry. "And what did you do, Emmy Lou?"
"I gave them to her up on the platform; it was a pyramid in a lace paper—the bouquet."
"And then?" Aunt Louise was breathless with attention.
"She kissed me," said Emily Louise, "on the cheek."
Aunt Louise gave a little laugh of gratification and pride. "The wife of the President—why, Emmy Lou——"
"I'll write to her Aunt Katie this very afternoon," said Aunt Cordelia.
"Better look to the family tree," said Uncle Charlie. "There's danger of too rich soil in these public honours."
But, instead, Emily Louise went out and sat on the side-door step; she needed solitude for the readjustment of her ideas.
Aunt Cordelia was pleased, and Aunt Louise was proud.
And Emily Louise, with the kiss of Republicanism upon her cheek, had stepped down from the Chapel platform into ovation and adulation, to find herself the centre of a homeward group jostling for place beside her. Hattie had carried her books, Rosalie her jacket. William had nodded to her at one corner, to be waiting at the next, where he nodded again with an incidental carelessness of manner, and joined the group. Emily Louise had stolen a glance at William, anxiously. Had William's opinion of her fallen? It would seem not.
Yet Isobel had gone home alone. Emily Louise had seen her starting, with sidewise glance and lingering saunter should any be meaning to overtake her. But she had gone on alone.
"Because she never told," said Hattie.
"Until she wanted to be chosen," said Rosalie.
"But I never told," said Emily Louise.
Hattie was final. "It's different," said Hattie.
"Oh, very," said Rosalie.
They travel through labyrinthian paths who seek for understanding.
The sun went down; the dusk grew chill. Emily Louise sat on the door-step, chin in palm.
A BALLAD IN PRINT O' LIFE
Double names are childish things; therefore Emmy Lou entered the high school as Emily MacLauren.
Her disapproval of the arrangements she found there was decided. High-school pupils have no abiding place, but are nomadic in their habits and enforced wanderers between shrines of learning, changing quarters as well as teachers for every recitation; and the constant readjustment of mood to meet the varied temperaments of successive teachers is wearing on the temper.
Yet there is a law in the high school superior to that of the teacher. At the dictates of a gong, classes arise in the face of a teacher's incompleted peroration and depart. As for the pupils, there is no rest for the soles of their feet; a freshman in the high school is a mere abecedarian part of an ever-moving line, which toils, weighted with pounds of text-books, up and down the stairways of knowledge, climbing to the mansard heights for rhetoric, to descend, past doors to which it must later return, to the foundation floor for Ancient History.
Looking back at the undulating line winding in dizzy spiral about the stairways, Emily, at times, seemed to herself to be a vertebrate part of some long, forever-uncoiling monster, one of those prehistoric, seen-before-in-dreams affairs. She chose her figures knowingly, for she was studying zoology now.
Classes went to the laboratory for this subject, filing into an amphitheatre of benches about Miss Carmichael, who stood in the centre of things and wasted no time; she even clipped her words, perhaps that they might not impede each other in their flow, which lent a disconcerting curtness of enunciation to an amazing rapidity of the same. Indeed, Miss Carmichael talked so fast that Emily got but a blurred impression of her surroundings, carrying away a dazed consciousness that the contents of certain jars to the right and left of the lady were amphibian in their nature, and that certain other objects in skin leering down from dusty shelves were there because of saurian claims. And because man is a vertebrate, having an internal, jointed, bony skeleton, man stood in a glass case behind the oracular priestess of the place, in awful, articulated, bony whole, from which the newly initiated had constantly to drag their fascinated, shuddering gaze. Not that Emily wanted to look, indeed she had no time to be looking, needing it all to keep up with Miss Carmichael, discoursing in unpunctuated, polysyllablic flow of things batrachian and things reptilian, which, like the syllables falling from the lips of the wicked daughter in the story-book, proved later to be toads and lizards.
Miss Carmichael was short and square, and her nose was large. She rubbed it with her knuckle like a man. She had rubbed it one day as she looked at Emily, whom she had called upon as "the girl who answers to the name of MacLauren."
It was not a flattering way to be designated, but freshmen learn to be grateful for any identity. Then, too, Miss Carmichael was famed for her wit, and much is to be overlooked in a wit which in another might seem to be bad manners. Once Emily had been hazy about the word wit, but now she knew. If you understand at once it is not wit; but if, as you begin to understand, you find you don't, that is apt to be wit. Miss Carmichael was famed for hers.
Thus called upon, the girl who answered to the name of MacLauren stood up. The lecture under discussion was concerned with a matter called perpetuation of type. Under fire of questions it developed that the pupil in hand was sadly muddled over it.
Under such circumstances, it was a way with Miss Carmichael to play with the pupil's mystification. "'Be a kitten and cry mew,'" said she, her eyes snapping with the humour of it. "Why mew and not baa? Why does the family of cow continue to wear horns?"
Why, indeed? There wasn't any sense. Emily felt wild. Miss Carmichael here evidently decided it was time to temper glee with something else. Emily was prepared for that, having discovered that wit is uncertain in its humours.
"An organ not exercised loses power to perform its function. Think!" said Miss Carmichael. "Haven't you taken down the lecture?"
Emily had taken down the lecture, but she had not taken in the lecture. She looked unhappy. "I don't think I understand it," she confessed.
"Then why didn't you have it explained?"
"I did try." Which was true, for Emily had gone with questions concerning perpetuation of type to her Aunt Cordelia.
"What did you want to know?" demanded Miss Carmichael.
"About—about the questions at the end for us to answer—about that one, 'What makes types repeat themselves?'"
"And what does?" said Miss Carmichael. "That is exactly what I'm trying to find out."
Emily looked embarrassed. Aunt Cordelia's answer was the same one that she gave to all the puzzling whys, but Emily did not want to give it here.
"Come, come, come," said Miss Carmichael. She was standing by her table, and she rapped it sharply, "And what does?"
"God," said Emily desperately.
She felt the general embarrassment as she sat down. She felt Hattie give a quick look at her, then saw her glance around. Was it for her? Hattie's cheek was red. Rosalie, with her cheek crimson, was looking in her lap.
In the High School some have passed out of Eden, while others are only approaching the fruit of the tree.
Hattie had glanced at her protectingly, and though Emily did not understand just why, she was glad, for of late she had been feeling apart from Hattie and estranged from Rosalie, and altogether alone and aggrieved.
Hattie now wrote herself Harriet, and had seemed to change in the process, though Emily, who had once been Emily Louise herself, felt she had not changed to her friends. But Hattie was one to look facts in the face. "If you're not pretty," she had a while back confided to Emily, "you've got to be smart." And forthwith taking to learning, Hattie was fast becoming a shining light.
Rosalie had taken to things of a different nature, which she called Romantic Situations. To have the wind whisk off your hat and take it skurrying up the street just as you meet a boy is a Romantic Situation.
Emmy Lou had no sympathy with them, whatever; it even embarrassed her to hear about them and caused her to avoid Rosalie's eye. Perhaps Rosalie divined this, for she took to another thing—and that was Pauline. With arms about each other, the two walked around the basement promenade at recess, while Emily stood afar off and felt aggrieved.
She was doing a good deal of feeling these days, but principally she felt cross. For one thing, she was having to wear a sailor suit in which she hated herself. It takes a jaunty juvenility of spirit to wear a sailor suit properly, and she was not feeling that way these days. She was feeling tall and conscious of her angles. The tears, too, came easily, as at thought of herself deserted by Hattie and Rosalie, or at sight of herself in the sailor suit. It was in Aunt Cordelia's Mirror that she viewed herself with such dissatisfaction; but while looking, the especial grievance was forgotten by reason of her gaze centring upon the reflected face. She was wondering if she was pretty. But even while her cheek flamed with the thinking of it, she forgot why the cheek was hot in the absorption of watching it fade, until—eyes met eyes——
She turned quickly and hid her face against the sofa. Emmy Lou had met Self.
But later she almost quarrelled with Aunt Cordelia about the sailor suit.
One day at recess a new-comer who had entered late was standing around. Her cheek was pale, though her eager look about lent a light to her face. But all seemed paired off and absorbed and the eager look faded. Emily, whom she had not seen, moved nearer, and the new-comer's face brightened. "They give long recesses," she said.