Mother’s Excitement Over Father’s Old Sweetheart. By Bess Streeter Aldrich

Mother’s Excitement Over

Father’s Old Sweetheart

By Bess Streeter Aldrich

Mother’s Excitement Over

Father’s Old Sweetheart

It reaches white heat just as he starts for a class reunion which the hated rival is to attend

By Bess Streeter Aldrich

MRS. HENRY Y. MASON’S years numbered fifty-two, which means that she stood on that plateau of life where one looks both hopefully forward and longingly back. Life had been very gracious to Mother Mason. It had brought her health, happiness, and Henry; and sometimes in a spasm of loyal devotion, Mother decided that the greatest of these was Henry.

To-night, as she sat knitting by the library table, her heavy figure erect, her plump face, under its graying hair, radiating energy and kindliness, her health was evident.

As for the happiness, the source of a goodly share of it was apparent. Sounds of youthful laughter came with the scent of lilacs through the open windows. They were all out there in the yard: serious-eyed Katherine home from the University for spring vacation, lovely eighteen-year-old Marcia, merry sixteen-year-old Eleanor, and troublesome, lovable twelve-year-old Junior. Even Bob, good, steady Bob, her eldest, was out there, too, just leaving with Mabel, his bride of a year, for the little home two blocks down the street. Yes, Mother had known much happiness.

Which brings us to Henry. That big, calm, conservative president of the Springertown First National Bank was just sitting down on the opposite side of the library table and unfolding the “Evening Journal” when Mother began:

“Henry, you wait a minute. I want to talk to you about something that has been on my mind all day.”

Henry looked up politely, but hung on to his paper.

“This morning I was cleaning out the drawers of that old bureau in the attic and I began reading scraps of letters and looking at the pictures of my old college classmates, and I just got hungry to see them all. I kept thinking about my girlhood with those old chums, and I was so homesick to see them I could taste it. Why, if I could hear Nettie Fisher laugh and see Julie Todd’s shining, happy face!”

She dropped her knitting and turned to her husband.

“Henry, I’ve a good, big notion to plan to go back to Mount Carroll for Commencement.”

“Why, sure! Why don’t you, Mother?”

Henry prepared to plunge into the paper as though the matter were settled, but it seemed Mother had more to say. For twenty-six years Father had been a patient, silent boulder in the middle of the stream of Mother’s chatter.

“You know, Father, Junior would be all with the girls to look after him. And then there’s this: Of course I knew when Bob was married that he’d probably have children–and it’s right, too–I wouldn’t say this to a soul but you–for I am ashamed of it–but ever since the day Mabel told me her secret, and was so happy about it–poor child!–I’ve just resented the thought of being a grandmother. Why, Henry, I don’t feel like a grandmother, and I’m not ready to be one.”

“I don’t see any way to stop it, Mother.”

Henry stole a surreptitious glance at a tempting editorial.

“Of course not!” Mother was too much in earnest to be frivolous. “But before I’m a grandmother–it’ll be in July–I want to go back to Mount Carroll and be a girl again. If I could just get with that old crowd it would bring my youth all back, I know. I’d just live it over. Why, Henry, I’d give the price of the trip to have five minutes of real girlish thrill–”

“All right, Mother.” Father boldly dismissed the subject. “You just plan to go and get your thrill.”

IN THE busy weeks that followed Mother moved in an exalted state of mind, thinking of nothing but plans to leave the family comfortable and the exquisite pleasure before her. She wrote reams of messages to Julie Todd and Nettie Fisher and Myra Breckenridge and a dozen others. To be sure, they had all possessed other names for a quarter of a century, but Mother deigned to use them only on the outside of the envelopes.

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