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Just Mary | Effie M. Williams


Seven years have passed since Mary and Otis came to live with their Uncle Roy. These have been pleasant years for all of them for there has sprung up among them a love and an appreciation for one another which brings real happiness in any home.

After Mary’s graduation she taught in the grade schools for a few terms, and in this way relieved her uncle of a heavy burden by helping to keep Otis in school. Both were delighted with the progress Otis made, for he had developed into a fine-looking young man despite his misfortune. He was very congenial and was much sought after by the young folks because of his congeniality and care-free way. He was the entertainer at every social gathering, for his wit was above the average. He was also a real student, and his fingers brought much knowledge to him from the different books he read. But Otis was not appreciated in his fullness until seated at the piano, for he had mastered that instrument and could bring music from it as few others could. He was also proficient on the harp and a teacher of both piano and harp. He became a composer of music also and in this way became self-supporting.

As no children came into the home of Roy and Ethel, Mary and Otis filled a place in their hearts equal to children of their own, and their admiration was unbounded. It was a struggle for them to educate the children as they did. Many times they felt they would have to give it up, but always there was some way provided. One time he applied to Dan for help, but as he received no reply, he felt assured that the letter had never reached Dan’s hands. He wrote his brother David only to receive a surly letter in reply, informing him that David also had a family and was under no obligation whatever to deprive his family of anything to assist Elsie’s children. If he did he would not expect anything else than that the day would come when they would give him the “high hat” because of it. They had a father and if he wanted any help to polish up Elsie’s children call upon their father. So there was no one to whom he could turn. So Roy and Ethel struggled on. As they looked at the two children grown and doing for themselves they felt rewarded for all the efforts put forth. Ethel was often heard to say, “We are proud of our children.”

June arrived. Mary’s school closed and she decided not to teach the following term. When the officials pressed her for a positive answer, she told them she meant to leave the city. Teacher and pupils wept as she said goodbye at the close of school. They had endeared themselves to her and she herself to them, and it was not easy to separate. She felt, as she looked over her pupils, that she had instructed them in a way that would make them better citizens by having come in close touch with her. She always held out before them the greatness of One who will endow all mankind with greatness, and all knew that Mary’s life was one filled with His graces. Many boys who had been very unruly had been won by her kindness. She always held before them their good qualities and gave them something good to see, thereby letting the good overcome the bad in them, and making them realize what there was in life. She moved among them in such a way as to convince them that she loved them and was vitally interested in them. None could be thrown in constant touch with her without feeling her godly influence.

It was Wednesday evening. A large crowd had assembled in Park Avenue Church where the Harmons and Dennisons attended services. Ushers dressed in frock tail coats and white vests were seating the people here and there about the building. The room was filled with the scent of roses and other flowers artistically arranged about the building. Large, potted ferns here and there among the flowers gave richness to the coloring and added to their beauty. Trailing vines were twined about the altar and over an arch directly in front.

A hush fell over the audience as Otis entered with his Aunt Ethel, who led him to the piano. He seated himself as she took a seat near where she could reach him. Reverend Kelley entered through a rear door as Edwin Wheeler came down the aisle on the arm of his brother Charles, and the three men met under the vine-covered arch. Ethel touched Otis’ elbow and his fingers began to move over the keyboard of the piano. Notes of a wedding march floated out over the audience. Mary entered on the arm of her Uncle Roy, walking on the rose petals which had been scattered in the aisle by little Ruth Kelly, a daughter of the minister in charge. These two joined the three men at the altar, followed by two bridesmaids who were special friends of Mary. There was a brief pause. Ethel again touched Otis and the music changed. A soft, tinkling sound floated over the audience like the sound of distant bells or the rippling of water, dying away like the receding wind. He continued to play as the minister read the ceremony; soft, sweet music, which, blending with the minister’s voice, thrilled the listeners.

“Who giveth this daughter in marriage?” said the minister. There was a pause as from the ends of Otis’ fingers came the sound of rippling waters.

“I do,” said Uncle Roy as he placed Mary’s hand in the hand of Edwin Wheeler.

Uncle Roy and Charles Wheeler stepped back from the altar as the sound of whispering winds through leafy branches was heard. This died away into nothingness as the minister continued to read the ceremony joining Mary and Edwin. As he pronounced them husband and wife, Ethel again touched Otis, and as the sound of ringing bells was heard the bridal party turned from the altar and marched out.

“How beautiful!” exclaimed Mary’s friends as she turned that they could catch a glimpse of her face. Wreathed in smiles she walked out, leaning on the arm of her husband, her bright eyes shining. A bridal veil had been artistically draped about her forehead, held in place with a wreath of orange blossoms. The curls which ever played about her forehead and temple had found their way from beneath it and could be seen about her face.

After the ceremony many gathered in the Harmon home to say goodbye to the young couple. They were going away to their new home in a distant city, where Edwin Wheeler was pastor of a congregation, to take up their new duties, each to be a helper of the other and the two to be real helpers to the flock they were to pastor.

Uncle David had been persuaded to attend Mary’s wedding. As he looked on while her many friends gathered about her giving their congratulations, a sting of remorse and regret surged through his heart. He wished now that he could say he had had some part in making the noble young woman what she was. He returned to his own home a wiser and a better man, bearing a different feeling toward his brother than he had ever had before. He saw that unselfishness truly brings delightful reward, and he knew that Roy was enjoying real happiness of which he knew nothing.

Ten years have passed since Mary walked down the aisle on the arm of her uncle, meeting at the altar the young man whom she had selected to go through life with her, and these years brought about many changes. In Mary’s home can be heard the prattle of childish voices. Two little girls and one little boy have made their appearance. First, Elsie May, then Mary Ethel, and then Daniel LeRoy. These three children have about them all that makes a home pleasant. Edwin and Mary are fond, loving parents, teaching their children of the God that means so much to both of them. Theirs is a happy home, for love rules. Otis spends much of his time with Mary and her husband, although his home is with Uncle Roy. He delights to romp with Mary’s children and they love their uncle as he loves them.

There was another inmate in Mary’s home who required much of her attention. Myra Dennison lay, a helpless invalid, having been confined to her bed for a number of months. She had no other place to go, and Mary would have chosen to have her remain, for she delighted in doing what she could to make her comfortable.

Shortly after Mary’s wedding her father was injured by some piece of machinery while threshing, which injury resulted in his death, leaving Myra with a house full of children to support. She did the best she could, but as they grew up they went out to do for themselves. Some of them married and had homes of their own. But when Myra’s health failed so that she could not care for herself, none of them made room for her, nor offered to help her in any way. It was then that she appealed to Mary, who made room for her and cared for her untiringly. Although there are impressions made on childish minds that can never be erased, Mary swept past memories aside as she looked at the sufferer before her and kindly ministered unto her needs.

In her sufferings Mary pointed her to one who has promised to be a present help in every time of trouble. She felt rewarded as she saw the smile of hope spread over Myra’s face. Shortly after, Myra passed into eternity, but Mary’s kind, loving hands ministered to her until the last moment of her life. As her tears fell, none would think that she bore other than the sweetest memories for her who was gone. Her reverence and respect equaled that borne for an own mother.

As Roy looked on during this trial of Mary’s life, he again thanked God that he had taken her into his own home and through God’s help had polished the rough diamond until it was now shining with the real Christian graces. As he one time more gathered his little “Peachy girl” (as he still continued to call her) into his arms and began to talk of the past, she silenced him by saying, “I have too much to be thankful for now to think of dwelling on the past. The comfort which comes to me at this time well repays me.”

“Yes,” said Uncle Roy, “but you have done something which Myra’s own children would not do. Caroline has a home as well as you, and you know she could have made room for her, but she would not do it.”

Mary stood proudly erect before her uncle as she replied, “I know it, Uncle Roy. She could have given Mother a home and cared for her if she would have cared to. She refused to make room for her. But you must remember, she is Caroline, and I am Mary, just Mary.”