Apron-Strings

Apron-Strings

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Apron-Strings, by Eleanor GatesThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.orgTitle: Apron-StringsAuthor: Eleanor GatesRelease Date: September 29, 2007 [eBook #22804]Language: English***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK APRON-STRINGS***E-text prepared by Al HainesAPRON-STRINGSbyELEANOR GATESAuthor ofThe Poor Little Rich Girl, Etc. A story for all mothers who have daughters and for all daughters who have mothersNew YorkGrosset & DunlapPublishersCopyright, 1917, bySully and KleinteichAll rights reservedFirst edition, October, 1917Second edition, October, 1917DEAR ANN WILDE,—It seems to me that there are, broadly speaking, three kinds of mothers. First, there is the kind that does not plan for, orwant, a child, but, having borne one, invariably takes the high air of martyrdom, feeling that she has rendered thesupreme service, and that, henceforth, nothing is too good for her. Second, there is the mother who loves her ownchildren devotedly, and has as many as her health and the family purse will permit, but who is fairly indifferent to otherwomen's children. Last of all, there is the mother who loves anybody's children—everybody's children. Where the firstkind of mother finds "young ones" a bother, and the second ...

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Apron-Strings, by
Eleanor Gates
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: Apron-Strings
Author: Eleanor Gates
Release Date: September 29, 2007 [eBook
#22804]
Language: English
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK APRON-STRINGS***
E-text prepared by Al HainesAPRON-STRINGS
by
ELEANOR GATES
Author of
The Poor Little Rich Girl, Etc.
A story for all mothers who have daughters
and for all daughters who have mothers
New York
Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers
Copyright, 1917, by
Sully and Kleinteich
All rights reserved
First edition, October, 1917
Second edition, October, 1917DEAR ANN WILDE,—
It seems to me that there are, broadly speaking,
three kinds of mothers. First, there is the kind that
does not plan for, or want, a child, but, having
borne one, invariably takes the high air of
martyrdom, feeling that she has rendered the
supreme service, and that, henceforth, nothing is
too good for her. Second, there is the mother who
loves her own children devotedly, and has as many
as her health and the family purse will permit, but
who is fairly indifferent to other women's children.
Last of all, there is the mother who loves anybody's
children—everybody's children. Where the first kind
of mother finds "young ones" a bother, and the
second revels in a contrast of her darlings with her
neighbors' little people (to the disparagement of the
latter), the third never fails to see a baby if there is
a baby around, never fails to be touched by little
woes or joys; belongs, perhaps, to a child-study
club, or helps to support a kindergarten, or gives
as freely as possible to some orphanage. And
often such a woman, finding herself childless, and
stirred to her action by a voice that is Nature's,
ordering her to fulfill her woman's destiny, makes
choice from among those countless little ones who
are unclaimed; and if she happens not to be
married, nevertheless, like a mateless bird, she
sets lovingly about the building of a home nest.
This last kind is the best of all mothers. Not only is
the fruit of her body precious to her, but all child-life is precious. She is the super-mother: She is the
woman with the universal mother-heart.
You, the "Auntie-Mother" to two lucky little girls, are
of this type which I so honor. And that is why I
dedicate to you this story—with great affection,
and with profound respect.
Your friend,
ELEANOR GATES.
New York, 1917.APRON-STRINGS
CHAPTER I
"I tell you, there's something funny about it, Steve,
—having the wedding out on that scrap of lawn." It
was the florist who was speaking. He was a little
man, with a brown beard that lent him a
professional air. He gave a jerk of the head toward
the high bay-window of the Rectory drawing-room,
set down his basket of smilax on the well-cared-for
Brussels that, after a disappearing fashion,
carpeted the drawing-room floor, and proceeded to
select and cut off the end of a cigar.
"Something wrong," assented Steve. He found and
filled a pipe.
The other now dropped his voice to a whisper.
"'Mrs. Milo,' I says to the old lady, 'give me the
Church to decorate and I'll make it look like
something.' 'My good man,' she come back,—you
know the way she talks—'the wedding will be in the
Close.'"
"A stylish name for not much of anything,"
observed Steve. "The Close!
Why not call it a yard and be done with it?"
"English," explained the florist. "—Well, I pointed
out that this room would be a good place for the
ceremony. I could hang the wedding-bell right inthe bay-window. But at that, click come the old
lady's teeth together. 'The wedding will be in the
Close,' she says again, and so I shut my mouth."
"Temper."
"Exactly. And why? What's the matter with the
Church? and what's the matter with this room?—
that they have to go outdoors to marry up the poor
youngsters. What's worse, that Close hasn't got
the best reputation. For there stands that orphan
basket, in plain sight——"
"It's no place for a wedding!"
"Of course not!—a yard where of a night poor
things come sneaking in——"
A door at the far end of the long room had opened
softly. Now a voice, gentle, well-modulated, and
sorrowfully reproving, halted the protesting of the
florist, and paralyzed his upraised finger. "That will
do," said the voice.
What had frozen the gesture of his employer only
accelerated the movements of Steve. Recollecting
that he was in his shirt-sleeves, he snatched the
pipe from his mouth, seized upon the smilax
basket, and sidled swiftly through the door leading
to the Close.
"Goo—good-morning, Mrs. Milo," stammered the
florist, putting his cigar behind his back with one
large motion that included a bow. "Good-afternoon.
I've just brought the festoons for the wedding-bower." Once more he jerked his head in the
direction of the bay-window, and edged his way
toward it a step or two, his fluttering eyelids
belieing the smile that divided his beard.
Mrs. Milo, her background the heavy oak door that
led to the library, made a charming figure as she
looked down the room at him. She was a slender,
active woman, who carried her seventy years with
grace. Her hair was a silvery white, and so
abundant that it often gave rise to justified doubt;
now it was dressed with elaborate care. Her eyes
were a bright—almost a metallic—blue. Despite her
age, her face was silkily smooth, and as fair as a
girl's, having none of those sallow spots which so
frequently mar the complexions of the old. Her
cheeks showed a faint color. Her nose was
perhaps too thin, but it was straight and finely cut.
Her mouth was small, pretty, and curved by an
almost constant smile. Her hands were slender,
soft, and young. They were not given to quick
movements. Now they hung touching the blue-gray
of her morning-dress, which, with ruffles of lace at
collar and wrists, had the fresh smartness of a
uniform.
"You are smoking?" she inquired. That habitual
smile was on her lips, but her eyes were cold.
"Just—just a dry smoke,"—with a note of injured
innocence.
"Your cigar is in your mouth," she persisted, "and
yet you're not smoking."At that, the florist took a forward step. "And my
teeth are in my mouth," he answered boldly, "but
I'm not eating."
Another woman might have shrunk from the
impudence of his retort, or replied angrily. Mrs.
Milo only advanced, with slow elegance, prepared
again to put him on the defensive. "Why do I find
you in this room?" she demanded.
"I'm just passing through—to the lawn."
"Do not pass through again."
"Well, I'd like to know about that," returned the
florist, argumentatively. "When I mentioned
passing through the Church, why, the Rector, he
says to me——"
Mrs. Milo lifted a white hand to check him. "Never
mind what Mr. Farvel said," she admonished
sharply; then, with quick gentleness, "You know
that he has lived here only little more than a year."
"Oh, I know."
"And I have lived here fifteen years."
"True," assented the florist. "But I was talking with
Miss Susan about passing through the Church, and
Miss Susan——"
The blue eyes flashed. And once more Mrs. Milo
advanced. "Never mind what my daughter told
you," she commanded, but without raising hervoice. "I am compelled to make this Rectory my
home because Miss Milo does the secretarial work
of the parish. And what kind of a home should I
have if I allowed the place to be in continual
disorder?"
There was a pause, the two facing each other.
Then the look of the florist fell. "I'll go in by way of
the Church, madam," he announced. And turned
away with a stiff bow.
"One moment." The order was curt; but as he
brought up, and turned about once more, Mrs. Milo
spoke almost confidentially. "As you very well
know," she reminded, her face slightly averted,
"there is a third entrance to the Close."
The florist saw his opportunity. "Oh, yes," he
declared; "—the little white door where the ladies
come of a night to leave their orphans."
That brought Mrs. Milo about. And the color
deepened in her cheeks. It was the red, not only of
anger, but of modesty. "The women who desert
their infants in that basket," she replied (again that
sorrowful intonation), "are not ladies."
The florist was highly pleased with results. "That
may be so," he went on, with renewed boldness;
"but for my ladders, and my plants, the little white
door is too small, and so——" He stopped short.
His jaw dropped. His eyes widened, and fixed
themselves in undisguised admiration upon a
young woman who had entered the room behind
Mrs. Milo—a lankish, but graceful young woman,