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Just Mary | Effie M. Williams


Summer advanced and August arrived with its scorching heat. And again the rural delivery man left another letter in the Harmon mail box. Mother Harmon hastily broke the seal; as she began to read she gave a cry of delight which did not escape the ears of Father Harmon, who was passing through the barn lot.

“What is up now?” inquired he, as he paused near the gate which led into the lane.

Waving the letter in her hand and going to meet her husband, Mother Harmon called out, “Another letter from Elsie, and she says she is coming home for a few weeks and wants someone to meet her at Whitefield Saturday afternoon.” When she reached the gate she handed him the letter that he might read it for himself.

True enough, Elsie was coming home again, bringing little Mary that the grandparents might see what to her was the most wonderful baby on earth. Ever since Mary had come into the Dennison home, Elsie’s letters had been full of what a wonderful baby she had. This would always be the source of much amusement on the part of her father and mother, for they expected nothing else, but occasionally David and Roy would say, “Why can’t she tell us something else besides, ‘Baby, baby’ all the time? She seldom says a word about Dan any more. You would not think there is anyone else in all the world but that baby after reading one of her letters.”

“Just wait until you boys see her baby and you may not wonder at her writing so much about it,” replied Father Harmon. “I am guessing that each of you will think the same.”

“Not I,” retorted Roy. “I don’t think girl babies are so wonderful. I do not see why it could not have been a boy anyhow.”

At this Father Harmon laughed and, turning to David, said, “How about you, son? Do you think that you will have to turn against Elsie’s baby because it is a girl?”

David looked at first his father and then his mother and noted their expectant look. “I do not think that I shall turn against it, but I have never seen a baby yet that seemed so wonderful to me,” he said and turned away.

Such were conditions in the Harmon home when Elsie announced she would be with them for a few weeks. When Saturday morning dawned all was hustle and bustle about the place, for the work for that day must be done, and as it would take some time to go to Whitefield and return there could be no time lost. When the hour for leaving arrived, Father and Mother Harmon found two boys eager to go along. When asked why they wanted to go so badly the reply was it had been more than a year since they had seen Elsie. It took some time to persuade them to remain at home, but when Father Harmon told Roy that he might go along if he would hold Elsie’s baby on his lap on the return home that settled the question, and he was willing to remain at home. So Father and Mother Harmon climbed into the carriage, leaving the boys at home to attend to some chores which must be done.

As the Harmons lived some distance from Whitefield, and as this was before the days of the automobile, the bus, and other means of fast travel, with their slow farm team and carriage it would be late before they could return. As the afternoon waned the boys did up the evening’s chores. Fully an hour and a half before they could expect them to return, a fire was built in the kitchen stove, ready for Mother Harmon to prepare the evening meal. As the sun began to sink below the western horizon the two boys sat on the gatepost with their faces turned toward Whitefield, watching for the approach of the team, whose gait could not be mistaken. A cloud of dust would be sighted in the distance and the boys would wait anxiously until the top of the hill was reached, ready to recognize the team and carriage which was bringing Elsie home. A number of carriages passed by, and at last another was sighted in the distance amid a cloud of dust. As it reached the top of the hill, both boys exclaimed, “That is old Baldy and Fan,” and ran to open the gate which led into the barn lot.

“Hello, David; hello, Roy,” said Elsie as the carriage passed through the gate. Each boy returned the greeting with a boyish grin, and as the carriage stopped, Elsie handed a little bundle of white to Mother Harmon and sprang from the carriage. Soon she had each of the boys in her arms, hugging them one at a time and then both together. “My, my,” she exclaimed, “what big brothers I have! Roy, you will soon be as big as Papa. I never thought to find you boys so big. You have grown so much the last year!” Again she gave each of them a big bear hug. “But come on, boys, I want to show you little Mary. Do you not want to see her?” And she reached out and took the little bundle from Mother Harmon’s arms.

Little Mary had so much enjoyed the ride from the station that she slept almost all the way and was still sleeping when they arrived at the Harmon home. David looked at baby and to the inquiry of Elsie, “What do you think about her?” replied, “I can’t tell you what I think about her yet; you will have to wait until she begins to cry and then I can tell you.”

“But my baby does not cry,” replied Elsie. “Come, Roy, tell me what you think about her.”

But Roy could not be persuaded even to take a peep at the little baby face. Elsie took it all as a great joke, and they went into the house together. As Elsie laid the bundle of white cap, dress, and pink bootees on the bed, little Mary opened her eyes and began to look about her as if to say, “Where am I?” Elsie began to talk to her, and soon a smile spread over the little baby face which went straight to David’s heart. When Elsie removed her cap he exclaimed, “Look at that curly hair!” Walking around to the side of the bed, he lifted a little ringlet in his fingers and began to talk to little Mary, to receive a baby smile also. Little Mary was the center of attraction to all except Roy. No amount of persuasion could induce him even to take a peep at her all that evening.

Next morning after Elsie had dressed the baby and fed her she lay her down on the bed, and when she did so little Mary found her thumb and began to suck it. All the time that Elsie had been dressing her Roy had stood in the doorway watching her, and when little Mary found her thumb he burst into a big laugh and before he knew what he was doing exclaimed, “Mama, look at that baby go after her thumb; isn’t that cute?” His face turned scarlet as all the others began to laugh, but he still lingered near the bed. Before the day had ended he approached Mother Harmon as she was preparing the evening meal and said, “Mama, Elsie has got a cute baby, hasn’t she?”

All of them tried to find a name suited to her other than Mary. Mother Harmon called her Little Dumpling; David called her Curly, because of her curly hair; Father Harmon called her Sunshine because she was always smiling; but for several days Roy offered no suggestion for a name. At last, when Elsie was preparing to return home, he burst into the room saying, “I know what I shall call the baby. Her name is Peachy, because she is sweet as a peach.” This settled it all, and in the Harmon home from that time on no one mentioned the baby as little Mary, but she was always called Peachy.

When the time came for Elsie to be taken to the station for her return home, Roy needed no persuading to hold the baby on his lap on the trip to the station, for he was reluctant to turn her loose. When the train pulled out from the station, taking Elsie and little Mary back to their own home, he laid his head on his mother’s shoulder and sobbed as only a twelve-year-old boy can sob. Peachy had found a place in his heart which no one else could fill. Elsie’s little girl was truly a wonderful baby and formed the topic of his conversation for weeks to come.