Vernonia eagle. (Vernonia, Or.) 1922-1974, October 02, 1936, Image 9

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Copyright, Kathleen Norris.
“And you for me,” she said, in
a voice she tried to hold steady.
“I’ll always be glad we had this
much, Larry. This Is something—
this is more than I ever thought
I’d have.”
“It doesn’t seem possible to say
good-by,” Larry presently said very
simply. Tony stirred herself against
his arm, drew away.
“Let me look at you, Larry.”
They looked gravely at each oth­
er: the tall, lean brown-skinned
man, with the high-bridged nose
and the deepset eyes, and the girl
in her white frock and brown coat,
with her dark hair disheveled and
her blue eyes set In delicate cir­
cles of umber, and fringed with
dark lashes that were frankly wet.
“It’s good-by, my dear,” said
He put his arms about her, and
for a long minute she lay against
him, and felt bis kisses on her lips.
“You’ll forgive me, Tony, forever
letting this happen?”
“Ah, it you’ll forgive me I I let
It happen. You didn’t.”
“Sly wife!” Larry whispered. And
straightening herself in her seat
beside him again, the girl repeat­
ed It with her wet eyes shining.
"Yes—nothing will ever make me
anything but that, Larry. The wom­
an that was meant for you.”
He touched the starter, turned
the car on the short brown grass.
They drove back into the city, and
at the door of the newspaper office
Tony said only another half-audi­
ble “good-by.”
She went up to her desk, stop­
ping to hang up her bat and coat,
straighten her hair.
Her face
looked odd to her. it was white.
The newspaper office was very
quiet at twelve o’clock. Larry was
meeting Caroline and Iluth for
lunch and to do some last shop­
ping. A truck would call for the
trunks at five o’clock; they would
put their nightwear and their books
and hairbrushes Into their hand­
bags tomorrow morning.
And so down to the big white
ship, and through the pleasant
flurry of passports and finding their
staterooms with the clutter and
confusion of the waterfront all
about them.
She seemed to be hearing his
voice again, feeling the tightening
of that big arm about her shoul­
Tony crossed her arms on her
desk and put her head down upon
Waves of bitterness and
longing broke over her, and reced­
ed, and strengthened to break over
her again.
Yawning, a call boy came In to
arch himself like a snake over a
telephone. No, the managing edi­
tor wasn’t there yet—the city edi­
tor wasn’t there yet. Ring back,
He dawdled away, and Tony flat­
tened the curiously assorted notes
on her desk; brought her heavy
eyes to them. She picked up a pen.
“ 'Mrs. Bainbridge Foster’s an­
nouncement of the engagement of
her daughter, Mary Barbara, was
one of the surprises of an unusual­
ly Ray season. Miss Foster, a debu­
tante of last winter—’ ”
«IT WAS a nice thing for them
1 to ask us. and I don't see
how we could have gotten out of
It,” said Aunt Meg In an undertone.
“But, gosh, it’s more fun at
home, Christmas Eve,” Bruce ob­
“Sh-h-hl” Brenda muttered in
horror. “Your voice is absolutely
penetrating 1” They were all in
the Bly library, guests at the great
Christmas party that Cliff’s par­
ents-in-law had been planning for
weeks. For the moment only the
Tafts were In the room: Aunt Meg
rustling in silk; Bruce handsome
and sulky; Brenda in rapt attend­
ance upon little Anthony; Cliff
nervously proud of them all. Al­
vin had Just arrived; Tony had
had to do the Christmas tree at
the Orphanage, but of course she
was coming later.
The Bly house was enormous; it
stood majestically on a Pacific Ave­
nue corner that commanded the
sweep of the cold winter bay, and
the Presidio slopes, and the Golden
“Oh, glorious!” said all the
guests as they arrived to find the
big back drawing room deliciously
warm, and a great wood fire roar­
ing and snapping in the enormous
fireplace. Like all the houses along
Pacific Avenue on the north, the
living rooms, with their windows
for commanding, the wide pano­
rama, were at the back; the en­
trance hall was a jumble of wraps
and of attentive maids today, but
there was plenty of holly and mis­
tletoe there too. Christmas trees
stood in all the corners and up on
the great angle of the stairs, and
scented the air with pine.
There were relatives asked in for
Christmas: faded gentle elderly
men and women basking in the
family glory; there were nice boy
cousins, all penniless, evidently,
rather variously dressed, but bash­
fully amusing and talkative, and
being very much encouraged by Un­
cle Rick and Aunt Tina. There
was one spectacled nice girl cousin
with her young man, and there
were meaningless young men for
Geraldine and Pauline, and of
course Martin Gosslng and Helo-
ise. For Helolse was going to be
married too, only two years after
Mary Rose, and Mamma positively
said this time that she didn't want
to hear another word of engage­
ments for years!
Over this heterogeneous party
Dr. and Mrs. Bly reigned in happy
excitement. The doctor told Aunt
Meg at every opportunity that that
was what the house was for: to
give the young people a good time.
He reiterated in great satisfaction
the statement that it was his idea
to have Clifford's people—have ev­
eryone. Cliff’s aunt, and his sis­
ters and brothers—why not? It
was Christmas.
Evidently the big table—fcrty-one
wbuld sit down at it—had been in
the process of getting set and deco­
rated for the better part of the
day; as for the tree, concealed
downstairs in the billiard room, its
completion had occupied the family
for weeks. The atmosphere "of the
big house was one of Innocent
laughter and cheer; the Blys, the
Tafts, the cousins might all have
been children again, gathering at
the piano to sing the carols Pau­
line played so nicely, bending over
the great jig-saw puzzle that was
spread on the library table, run­
ning up and down stairs.
Brenda and Alvin, with the pre­
cious woolly armful that was An­
thony, had arrived at the Taft
apartment that morning before
Tony was out of bed, and Brenda
and Aunt Meg had spent a happy
day managing the good, sweet, con­
tented baby. Tony had rushed off
to work, Bruce had come home,
and In the old way had kept the
place In an uproar while he man­
aged a bath; Cliff had come at
about three o’clock to gather up
presents for the Bly tree.
“Gosh, the Bly library looks like
the Emporium packing room now!”
Cliff had exulted, as they had filled
his arms with the very creditable
Taft collection. Everyone had been
dressing then, for it was to be an
early dinner; Aunt Meggy, crimped
and rustling; Brenda, quite undls-
gulsedly changed In figure again,
matronly In spreading silk; the
WNU Service.
baby In his fur-trimmed cap and
caped coat.
Just as they started Bruce had
come in to escort them, and a mo­
ment later Tony, who had to
change, and to rush off to cover
one more Christmas tree before
joining them at the Blys’. It was
this circumstance that gave them a
chance, Cliff and Brenda and Aunt
Meg, to discuss her, when they
found themselves for a moment
quiet, out of the noisy current. In
the big leather chairs of the Bly
“Tony ought to be here."
“She'll be here any minute now.”
“Doesn’t she look well. Bendy?”
“Beautiful. She looked badly for
a while; just at first," Brenda said,
lowering her voice. “But lately—
oh, well, there’s no one like Tony.”
“Mary Rose Is crazy about her,"
Cliff said. “You know how Tony
can get people when she goes after
“I believe she's over it,” Aunt
Meg said decidedly.
She looked
They Cook and They Tramp
hopefully at Brenda and then at
“She’ll never be over It,” Brenda
said, shaking her head. She brushed
her lips across the soft fluff of
Anthony's hair.
“Think not, hey?” Cliff asked,
with a shrewd look. Brenda shook
her bead again.
"Ha!” Aunt Meg ejaculated, dis­
“No, but I think this of Tony,”
Brenda began slowly. “I think she
was horribly ashamed of herself.”
"I don’t see exactly why she
should have been ashamed of her­
self,” Cliff protested.
“Because Larry was married."
“She couldn’t help that.”
“Just the same, a girl does feel
ashamed when she falls in love
with a married man. Alvin thinks
she was too,” Brenda said, clinch­
ing the matter with the unanswer­
able argument
“It seems to me it's more bad
luck than anything to be ashamed
of,” Cliff persisted.
"A girl doesn't feel so. And Tony
was bitterly ashamed. She knew
that If Ruth hadn't stood by her
when that horrible Donny thing
“Don’t speak of It,” pleaded Aunt
Meggy faintly, her little chin
gripped in her hand, her eyes anx­
iously looking from one to the
“And I think,” Brenda pursued,
after a sympathetic nod and glance
in her aunt's direction, “I think
that Tony Just—Just woke up. I
think she grew three years in three
weeks after the Bellamys went
away. It was as if a part of her,
the hot old Impatient selfish part—”
“She was never selfish,” said
Aunt Meg, ready to weep.
“No, she never was. But she was
quick-tempered and stubborn—yes,
she was, Aunt Meg.”
“As a mule!" said Cliff, and both
women laughed.
"She changed,” said Brenda. “It
was as if she thought: ‘I’ll die—
Tony Taft. I’ll live for all the rest
of them, Brenda and the baby, and
Cliff and Mary Rose, and Aunt Meg
and Aunt Sally—I’ll be gentler,
I'll read and I’ll study—I'll make
myself the wisest woman, the fin­
est, the most cultured—I'll not be
wild, gay, reckless Tony Taft any­
“It was something like that,” Cliff
said, as Brenda paused, with tears
in her eyes.
"I think It was,” Brenda said.
"But then what’s the child go
ing to get out of It herself?” Aunt
Meg asked. “She's nearly twenty­
eight — she doesn't want to
“I wish she’d marry Joe Van-
derwall I” Brenda exclaimed, in the
“He doesn’t click,” Cliff said,
shaking his head. “He’s a prince;
she’s devoted to him. She goes
down to his place, and they cook
and they tramp around; she ad­
mires him. But somehow it doesn't
“Where are the Bellamys now,
“In Nice. Larry came back to
New York once; now I believe he's
gone over again. The old mother
had a stroke, you know, and they’ve
just been hanging on, waiting.
They’ve taken a place there, and
Larry's writing a book."
“They went away—when?”
“A year and a half ago. It was
Just before Mary Rose and I were
“What do you suppose Larry does
with himself all day?”
“Oh, writes. And swims, And
plays bridge. The cousin is with
them, Mrs. Polhemus."
“Does Tony hear from him?”
"Only through Joe.
No, she
doesn't write. And I must say 1
think,” Brenda said loyally, “she’s
behaved magnificently!"
“She’s been a good sport,” Cliff
"Ah, here she is; that's Tony In
the next room now!” said Aunt
Meg, and Bruce added, “Now It'll
be a party!”
Here was Tony Indeed, coming in
fresh and rosy from the cold air.
She had left her outer wraps down­
stairs; her freshly brushed hair fell
in waves over her low forehead;
her gown was dark green velvet,
with deep Vandyke cuffs and a col­
lar of lace; she was joyous, eager,
lovely; she seemed to bring with
her to the somewhat halting party
a breath of new life.
"White violets!” she said, com
ing up to her elderly little hostess.
“They gave them to me at the Or­
phanage; aren't they delicious?
Here, they’re for you. Are we all
kissing you today. Doctor, because
it’s Christmas? You don't know
how wonderful It Is to get into this
warm and find you all! Hello, my
Anthony, are you a good boy?
Hello, Mary Rose.” And then in
an undertone, “How goes It?”
“The horrid feeling in the morn­
ing has stopped,” Mary Rose con
flded to her sister-in-law.
“Ah, what a relief that is!” Bren­
da said.
“If It should be a girl, I believe
my father'd drown it,” Cliff's wife
"I want a girl," Brenda said.
Tony burst into an animated de­
scription of the Orphanage party:
they spilled milk and crumbled
sponge cakes, the little arms held
out for dolls, the mangy orna­
ments, mouldy and broken and old,
little dirty wax angels with their
wings bent, and gilded walnut
shells with holes in them I
"Pencil boxes and Lotto: those
aren’t very thrilling,” Tony went
on. "I thought of Anthony's Christ­
mas. His grandfather sent him a
coaster, wasn't it. Bendy?"
“He adores him," Brenda said
“Next year. Pm going to take
an orphan and send him something
swell!” Tony said.
“Papa!’• said Mrs. Bly, her moth­
erly eyes moist.
“Next year we will,” the old doc­
tor said, nodding.
The party went on Into enjoy­
ment and hilarity. There was a
marvelous dinner; Mrs. Bly telling
Aunt Meg in an aside that her Chi­
nese boy had been with her for
twenty-seven years and wouldn’t
allow anyone else to touch the tur­
keys or the dessert. “But of
course we get in help.”
Brenda slipped way now and
then, went upstairs to be sure An­
thony was asleep in Pauline’s old
crib In the care of Pauline’s old
“You better keep that crib,” Tony,
at the old doctor's right, said, in
tilc ear. He looked at her, blinked
his blue eyes.
“I hope so, I hope so; if not
now, one of these days! But Mary
Rose still seems like a baby herself
to me,” he said.
After dinner came the great hour
of the tree, with everyone quite
speechless with laughter, surprise,
and gratitude.
“Gee, it's cute! I love it I’m
mad about it. Look, look, look,”
said the babel of voices. “Isn't
that adorable? Isn't that too ador­
The excitement had reached its
height when a maid came to Mrs.
Bly, who turned to Tony.
“A Doctor Vanderwall?”
“Oh, on the telephone?"
“No, he's here.”
“Oh?” Tony said, pleased and
"Where’d you put him, Mamie?”
"In the library.”
“Oh. You'll go up, Tony? Yes,
and then do bring him down—we’ll
find something for him on the
Tony went upstairs; stretched
both hands to the squarely built
man who rose from the shadows
of the library.
“Joe, how nice! Merry Christ­
mas! But take off that coat. How’d
you know I was here?”
“I telephoned the office. Say, sit
down a minute. I Just had a ca­
ble,” Joe said abruptly. His fair
moon face was very serious.
Her color changed; her eyes were
riveted on his face.
“What Is it?” she asked quickly.
“Mrs. Patterson?”
“No. Ruth.”
"Ruth?” whispered Tony. The
quiet room, softly lighted In the
winter evening, and the drowsing
fire, and the decorous backs of the
handsome books seemed to reel, to
settle again in their places.
Joe frowned, spoke slowly, as If
he felt a little embarrassed by her
emotion, a little sorry for her.
"She was hurt in the street. She
never regained consciousness.”
“Ruth!” Tony whispered again,
with a dry mouth. For a long min­
ute she looked at Joe. "Dead?”
she asked.
"Yes, she died this morning—
Sunday morning, It said, at eleven
"They were motoring?”
“It didn't say. Larry was In
Paris. It said ‘Larry arrives from
Paris tonight.’
And It said my
grandmother’s condition was un­
changed; they’ve not told her. She
had a stroke, weeks back!”
Tony’s knotted fingers were
against her mouth. Her eyes were
far away; her forehead wrinkled.
“Ruth dead! It doesn’t make
sense!” she said, half aloud, as If
talking to herself.
“No, does it?”
“It Just doesn't seem—true. Ruth
“Christmas Eve.”
"I thought of that I can’t seem
to—get It.”
"He’ll come home now.”
Tony was not listening.
“She always loved him, dearly.
Poor Ruth!”