Three Little Women’s Success: A Story for Girls

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Charles Was Sitting Upright Talking Wildly.

Charles Was Sitting Upright Talking Wildly.


THREE LITTLE WOMEN SERIES

Three Little Women’s Success

A STORY FOR GIRLS

By

GABRIELLE E. JACKSON

Author of “The Joy of Piney Hill,” “Wee Winkles,” “Sunlight and Shadow,” “By Love’s Sweet Rule,” Etc.

Illustrated

THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY Philadelphia


Copyright 1913,

by The John C. Winston Co.

Copyright 1910,

by The John C. Winston Co.


TO DOROTHY

_A loyal, lovable lassie,_
_A trusted and true little friend._

                            G. E. J.


CHAPTER I—After Three Years.

October had come to Riveredge. This fact meant more than the five words usually imply, for to few spots did October show such a gracious presence as she did to this pretty town. Beautiful at all seasons, even in its wintry dress of gleaming snow, in its autumn gorgeousness, Riveredge was entirely irresistible. In summer the town drowsed, for during July and August many of its inhabitants took a holiday and journeyed thither and yonder; in the autumn it wakened to the busy bustle of active life and its preparations for the drawing together of all who dwelt therein, and spring was the time when it did its renovating, its housecleaning, its decorating, but October’s crisp westerly winds blowing across the broad expanses of the river set blood stirring, made pulses throb many beats quicker, and caused even strangers to smile and nod to one another as they passed along the streets. Friends called gayly: “Isn’t the air delicious? Doesn’t it make you want to prance like a colt?”

There was one individual in Riveredge whom it so affected, anyway. The fact that nearly three years have slipped by since we last witnessed any of her prancings has not lessened her propensity to do so, for with nearly fourteen years numbered off upon her life’s calendar Jean Carruth is as much of a romp as ever, full of impulses as she was upon the day she rescued old Baltie; as she was when she so valiantly defended her property and her rights against the hoodlums of McKimm’s Hollow. The three years have brought about many changes, it is true, but Jean Carruth will remain Jean Carruth to the end of the story. She has grown like a weed, to be sure, and seems to be nearly all long arms and legs with a body like a hazel wand—pliable and vigorous, with powers of endurance far beyond its indications. A casual observer might think her less strong than she is, but in reality she is “soun’ as a dollar and de cause ob mo’ trebbilation dan a million ob ’em could be,” insisted old Mammy. And Mammy was pretty well qualified to judge, having had charge of that young person since she drew her first breath in the world. Mammy still lived and flourished as Mammy Blairsdale-Devon. Nothing could induce her to drop the Blairsdale. Hadyn Stuyvesant had quite conclusively, though unwittingly, settled that point when he presented the superb sign, with its gleaming gold letters, to the newly opened lunch counter in the Arcade. Mrs. Carruth tried to persuade Mammy to take the name of her lately restored spouse, and be known thenceforth as Mrs. Charles Devon; but Mammy had scornfully stammered: “D-d-drap de Blairsdale? Never! I was borned a Blairsdale, lived a Blairsdale eighteen year befo’ I hooked on de Devon, an’ den hatter onhook it inside of fo’ months; den I lived fo’ty-seben years wid de Blairsdale name befo’ I foun’ out dat I had claim ter any odder. So what fo’ I drap it now? Dey ain’t no name kin leave it behine as I knows on. Devon’s a good one, I knows, and down yonder where we-all was borned at it do stan’ high for a fac’, but it cyant rare up its head like de Blairsdale name kin. No, sir! Devon can hook on to de Blairsdale all right an’ straight if it got a min’ ter; but I ain’t never gwine let it lead it no mo’, an’ I’s a-gwine ter let Charles lead me.” As the possibility of Charles ever leading Mammy seemed more than visionary, Mrs. Carruth gave up the argument. Besides, she had many other things to occupy her thoughts. In the fall of 19— Eleanor had entered college, and within the present college year would graduate with well won honors. From the moment she entered she resolved to be independent so far as her personal needs were concerned. The tuition fees were paid by her great-aunt, Mrs. Eleanor Maxwell Carruth. Those she accepted because Mrs. Carruth, Sr., was amply able to meet them, but further than that she had resolved to be independent and she had been. The first year was the hardest; a freshman’s possibilities are circumscribed; Sophomore year brought with it broader opportunities; Junior year established her place in the college world beyond all argument, and now with senior year her triumph and success lay close at hand. Moreover, this last year was being made much easier for her by Constance’s success in her candy kitchen. The same autumn that Eleanor entered college Constance, in spite of Mammy’s protests and opposition, had branched out on a scale to outrage all the old colored woman’s instincts and traditions. But Mammy had stormed and scolded in vain, the addition to her little four-roomed cabin was built by Haydn Stuyvesant, all Constance’s practical ideas for the needs of such a kitchen being followed out to the minutest detail. He admired the girl’s pluck and enterprise too much to bar her progress in any way, in spite of the fact that Mammy had sought to dissuade him from encouraging her in venturing further into the commercial world. Mammy had actually gone to Haydn’s office to “ketch a word in private,” as she put it. Finding all argument with Constance futile, she played what she hoped would prove her trump card. Haydn had listened with all deference to her arguments against “dat chile a-goin’ on so scan’lous, an’ a-startin’ out fer ter make sweet stuff fer all creation, when dar’s mo’ sweet stuff in de shops dis minit dan folks kin swaller if dey stuff desefs de whole endurin’ time.”

“But, Mammy,” Haydn had replied, as he looked kindly at the troubled old face before him, “you know none can equal Miss Constance’s. It would be a downright piece of cruelty to deprive us all of our Saturday treat.”

“Den let her go ’long de way she’s been a-goin’; let her make it down yonder in her Ma’s kitchen, an’ sell it in de Arcyde, jus’ lak she been a-doin’ all dese months. She ain’t got no call fer to earn any mo’ money’n she’s a-earnin’ right now. Ain’t me an’ Charles a-comin’ ’long right spry wid our lunch counter in dar?” she insisted, with a nod of her turbaned head toward the section of the building in which she and Charles had carried on a flourishing trade ever since the immaculate counter had displayed its tempting viands to those who passed along the Arcade, and who were not slow to avail themselves of Mammy’s wonderful art of cookery, or to bring their friends to enjoy it also.

“Yes, Mammy, you and Charles are real wonders to all who know you; but can’t you understand why a girl of Miss Constance’s type would never be happy if dependent upon others? Why, with all her young and splendid health, strength and energy, she must have some outlet for her ambition.”

“Den let her go a-frolickin’ lak her Ma did when she was mos’ sixteen! Let her go a-horsebackin’ and a-dancin’ at parties, an’ a-picnicin’ and all dose t’ings what a girl lak her ought ter be a-doin’. Wha’ you s’pose ma ol’ Massa Blairsdale say an’ do if he could come back an’ see de doin’s in our house? Gawd-a-mighty, I wouldn’t crave ter be aroun’ if he come along unbeknownst an’ see Miss Jinny’s chillern grubbin’ ’long in candy kitchens and teachin’ oder folks’ chillern, and hikin’ all ober de kentryside peddlin’ candy. He ax me fust, ‘Mammy, yo’no count ol’ nigger, wha’ you been about?’ An den he bang ma haid clean off!”

“I hardly think so, Mammy. The head and the heart have given too much to those he loved. But don’t be troubled about Miss Constance. Remember this: no matter what she chooses to do, she will remain the sweetest of gentlewomen to the end of the story. You little guess the respect she already inspires in all who know her, if she is but sixteen. Let me help her by arranging her kitchen just as her practical little head has planned it all. It is the least I can do. Miss Willing will bear the brunt of the hard work this winter, leaving Miss Constance free to finish her high-school-course. It is a wise plan all around and a kinder one than you realize. The Arcade telephone switchboard was no place for a girl like Mary Willing, and to have been instrumental in removing her from the temptations she was sure to meet there is a more beautiful charity than those blazoned at large in the daily papers. Don’t thwart it, Mammy. Let the little girl down yonder go on with her good work; she doesn’t realize how far-reaching it is: perhaps she will never learn. Her mother does, however, and is using a very fine instrument to bring the work to perfection.”

Mammy had sat very silent all the time, her old face wearing a puzzled expression, her keen eyes fixed upon a paper cutter which lay upon Haydn’s desk, her lips pursed up doubtfully. Haydn did not break the silence; he only watched. After a few moments she looked up, gave a perplexed sigh, and said:

“Well, sah, p’raps yo’ is right. P’raps yo’ is. I ain’t nothin’ but a’ ole nigger woman, but, bress Gawd, I loves ma white folks, an’ I hates fer ter see de ole times so twisted up wid de new ideas, I sartain’ does. It goes against de grain p’intedly.”

“I can understand all that, dear old Mammy, but you mark my words, the results will justify the deeds.”

So Mammy gave up the argument, though she was far from resigned to the plans.

And thus had the enterprise grown. Constance finished her year at the high-school, Mary Willing was established in the model little candy kitchen, with all its practical little appointments, and before long was nearly as proficient as Constance herself, and quite as enthusiastic. One year slipped by and another followed it. Then a third was added to the number, until now, with the autumn of 19— Constance was nineteen years old and Eleanor twenty-one.

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