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mother.
"Hello,Mama."
"Hello,Francie."
Mamalookedlikemamaagain,onlyverytired.Shecouldn'traiseherheadsoFrancieheldthe
crackerswhilesheatethem.Aftertheyweregone,Franciestoodholdingtheemptyplate.
Mamasaidnothing.ItseemedtoFranciethatsheandmamawerestrangersagain.The
closenessofthelastfewdayswasgone.
"Andyouhadaboy'snamedpickedout,Mama."
"Yes.ButIdon'tmindagirl,really."
"She'spretty."
"She'llhaveblackcurlinghair.AndNeeleyhasblondcurlinghair.PoorFranciegotthestraight
brownhair."
"I
like
straightbrownhair,"Franciesaiddefiantly.Shewasdyingtoknowthebaby'snamebut
mamaseemedlikesuchastrangernowthatshedidn'tliketoaskoutright."ShallIwritethe
informationouttosendtotheBoardofHealth?"
"No.Thepriestwillsenditinwhenshe'schristened."
"Oh!"
KatierecognizedthedisappointmentinFrancie'stone."ButbringintheinkandthebookandI'll
letyouwritedownhername."
FrancietooktheGideonBiblethatSissyhadswipednearlyfifteenyearsago,fromthe
mantelpiece.Shelookedatthefourentriesontheflyleaf.ThefirstthreewereinJohnny'sfine
carefulhand.
January1,1901.Married.KatherineRommelyandJohnNolan.
December15,1901.Born.FrancesNolan.December23,1902.Born.CorneliusNolan..
ThefourthentrywasinKatie'sfirmback-handslant.
December25,1915.Died.JohnNolan.Age,34.
SissyandEvyfollowedFrancieintothebedroom.They,too,werecuriousastowhatKatie
wouldnamethebaby.Sarah?Eva?Ruth?Elizabeth?
"Writethisdown."Katiedictated."May28,1916.Born."Franciedippedherpenintheinkbottle.
"AnnieLaurieNolan."
"Annie!Suchanordinaryname,"groanedSissy.
"Why,Katie?Why?"demandedEvypatiently.
"AsongthatJohnnysangonce,"explainedKatie.
AsFranciewrotethename,sheheardthechords;sheheardherfathersinging,"
And'twas
therethatAnnieLaurie
."...Papa...papa....
"...asong,hesaid,thatbelongedtoabetterworld,"Katiewenton."Hewouldhavelikedthe
childnamedafteroneofhissongs."
"Laurieisaprettyname,"saidFrancie.
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AndLauriebecamethebaby'sname.
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XLI
LAURIEwasagoodbaby.Shesleptcontentedlymostofthetime.Whenshewasawake,she
putinthetimelyingquietlyandtryingtofocusherberrybrowneyesonherinfinitesimalfist.
Katienursedthebaby,notonlybecauseitwastheinstinctivethingtodo,butbecausethere
wasnomoneyforfreshmilk.Sincethebabycouldn'tbeleftalone,Katiestartedherworkatfive
inthemorning,doingtheothertwohousesfirst.SheworkeduntilnearlyninewhenFrancieand
Neeleyleftforschool.Thenshecleanedherownhouseleavingthedoorofherflatajarincase
Lauriecried.KatiewenttobedimmediatelyaftersuppereachnightandFranciesawsolittleof
hermotherthatitseemedasifmamahadgoneaway.
McGarritydidn'tfirethemafterthebaby'sbirthashehadplanned.Hereallyneededthemnow
becausehisbusinessboomedsuddenlyinthatspringof1916.Hissaloonwascrowdedallthe
time.Greatchangesweretakingplaceinthecountry,andhiscustomers,likeAmericans
everywhere,hadtogettogethertotalkthingsover.Thecornersaloonwastheironlygathering
place,thepoorman'sclub.
Francie,workingintheflatabovethesaloon,heardtheirraisedvoicesthroughthethinfloor
boards.Oftenshepausedinherworkandlistened.Yes,theworldwaschangingrapidlyand
thistimesheknewitwastheworldandnotherself.Sheheardtheworldchangingasshe
listenedtothevoices.
It'safact.They'regonnastopmakingliquorandinafewyearsthecountrywillbedry.
Amanthatworkshardhasarighttohisbeer.
Tellthattothepresidentandseehowfaryouget.
Thisisapeople'scountry.Ifwedon'twantitdry,itwon'tbedry.
Sureit'sapeople'scountrybutthey'regonnapushprohibitiondownyourthroat.
ByJesus,I'llmakemyownwine,then.Myoldmanusedtomakeitintheoldcountry.Youtake
abushelofgrapes....
G'wan!They'llnevergivewimmenthevote.
Don'tlayanybetsonit.
Ifthatcomes,mywifevoteslikeIdo,otherwiseI'llbreakherneck.
Myoldwomanwouldn'tgotothepollsandmixinwithabunchofbumsandrummies.
…awomanpresident.Thatmightbe.
They'llneverletawomanrunthegovernment.
There'sonerunningitrightnow.
Likehell!
Wilsoncan'tturnaroundandgotothebathroom'lessheasksMrs.Wilsonifit'sokaybyher.
Wilson'sanoldwomanhimself.
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He'skeepingusoutofwar.
Thatcollegeprofessor!
WhatweneedintheWhiteHouseisasoundpoliticianandnotaschoolteacher.
...automobiles.Soonthehorsewillbeathingofthepast.ThatfelleroutinDee-troit'smaking
carssocheapthatsooneveryworkingmancanhaveone.
Alaborerdrivinghisowncar!Youshouldlivesolong!
Airplanes!Justacrazyfad.Won'tlastlong.
Themovingpitchersisheretostay.Thethee-aytersisclosinguponebyoneinBrooklyn.Take
me:I'dratherseethishereCharlieChaplinanydaythanthishereCorsetPaytonthewifegoes
for.
...wireless.Greatestthingeverinvented.Wordscomethroughtheair,mindyou,withoutwires.
Youneedakindofamachinetoketchitandearphonestolistenin....
Theycallittwilightsleepandawomandon'tfeelathingwhenthekidcomes.Sowhenthis
friendtellsmywife,shesaysthatit'sabouttimetheyinventedsomethinglikethat.
What'reyoutalkingabout!Gaslight'soutofdate.They'reputting'lectricityeveninthecheapest
tenements.
Don'tknowwhat'sgotintotheyoungstersnowadays.They'realldancecrazy.Dance...dance...
dance....
SoIchangedmynamefromSchultztoScott.Thejudgesayswhatdoyouwanttogoanddo
thatfortSchultzisagoodname.HewasGermanhimself,see?Listen,Mac,Isays...that'sjust
howItalkedtohim;judgeornojudge.I'mthroughwiththeoldcountry,Isays.Afterwhatthey
donetothemBelgianbabies,Isays,IwantnopartofGermany.I'manAmericannow,Isays,
andIwantanAmericanname.
Andwe'reheadingstraightforwar.Man,Icanseeitcoming.
AllwegottodoistoelectWilsonagainthisfall.He'llkeepusoutofwar.
Don'tbetonthemcampaignpromises.WhenyougotaDemocratpresident,yougotawar
president.
LincolnwasaRepublican.
ButthesouthhadaDemocratpresidentandtheywastheonesstartedtheCivilWar.
Iaskyouhowlongwegottastandforit?Thebastardssunkanotheroneofourships.How
manydotheygottasinkbeforewegetupenoughnervetogooverthereandlickhelloutof
them?
Wegottostayout.Thiscountry'sgettingalongfine.Letthemfighttheirownwarswithout
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draggingusin.
Wedon'twantwar.
War'sdeclared,I'llenlistthenextday.
Youcantalk.You'repastfifty.Theywouldn'ttakeyou.
I'dsoonergotojailthantowar.
Afeller'sgottofightforwhathethinksisright.I'dbegladtogo.
Igotnothingtoworryabout.Igotadoublehernia.
Letthewarcome.They'llneedusworkingmenthentobuildtheirshipsandtheirguns.They'll
needthefarmertogrowtheirfood.Thenwatchthemcomesuckingaroundus.Uslaborerswill
havetheGod-damnedcapitalistsbythethroat.Theywon'ttellus.We'lltellthem,ByJesus,
we'llmakethemsweat.Warcan'tcomequickenoughtosuitme.
LikeI'mtellingyou.Everythingismachines.Iheardajoketheotherday.Fellerandhiswife
goingaroundgettingfood,clothes,everythingoutofmachines.Sotheycometothisbaby
machineandtheTellerputsmoneyinandoutcomesababy.Sothefellerturnsaroundand
says,givemethegoodolddays.
Thegoodolddays!Yeah.Iguessthey'regoneforever.
Fill'emupagain,Jim.
AndFrancie,pausinginhersweepingtolisten,triedtoputeverythingtogetherandtriedto
understandaworldspinninginconfusion.Anditseemedtoherthatthewholeworldchangedin
betweenthetimethatLauriewasbornandgraduationday.
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XLII
FRANCIEhardlyhadtimetogetusedtoLauriewhengraduationnightcamearound.Katie
couldn'tgotobothgraduationssoitwasdecidedthatshegotoNeeley's.Andthatwasright.
Neeleyshouldn'tbedeprivedbecauseFranciehadfeltlikechangingschools.Francie
understoodbutfeltabithurtjustthesame.Papawouldhavegonetoseehergraduateifhe
wereliving.TheyarrangedthatSissygowithFrancie.EvywouldstaywithLaurie.
OnthelastnightinJune,1916,Franciewalkedforthelasttimetotheschoolshesoloved.
Sissy,quietandchangedsinceshegotherbaby,walkedsedatelybesideher.Twofiremen
passedandSissyneversomuchasnoticedandtherehadbeenatimewhenSissycouldn't
resistauniform.FranciewishedSissyhadn'tchanged.Itmadeherfeellonesome.Herhand
creptintoSissy'sandSissysqueezedit.Franciewascomforted.SissywasstillSissy
underneath.
Thegraduatessatinthefrontpartoftheauditoriumandtheguestsintheback.Theprincipal
madeanearnestspeechtothechildrenabouthowtheyweregoingoutintoatroubledworld
andabouthowitwouldbeuptothemtobuildanewworldafterthewarwhichwassuretocome
toAmerica.Heurgedthemontohighereducationsothattheywouldbebetterequippedforthis
worldbuilding.Franciewasimpressedandvowedinherheartthatshe'dhelpcarrythetorch
likehesaid.
Thencamethegraduationplay.Francie'seyesburnedwithunshedtears.Asthediluted
dialoguedronedon,shethought,"Myplaywouldhavebeenbetter.Iwouldhavetakentheash
canout.IwouldhavedonewhateverTeachersaidifshehadonlyletmewritetheplay."
Aftertheplay,theymarchedup,gottheirdiplomasandweregraduatesatlast.Theoathof
allegiancetotheflagandthesingingof"TheStarSpangledBanner"clinchedit.
AndnowcamethetimeofFrancie'sGethsemane.
Itwasthecustomtopresentbouquetstothegirlgraduates.Sinceflowerswerenotallowedin
theauditorium,theyweredeliveredtotheclassroomswheretheteachersplacedthemonthe
recipient'sdesk.
Franciehadtogobacktoherroomtogetherreportcard;alsoherpencilboxandautograph
bookfromherdesk.Shestoodoutsidenervingherselffortheordeal,knowingherdeskwould
betheonlyonewithoutflowers.Shewassure,becauseshehadn'ttoldmamaaboutthecustom,
knowingtherewasnomoneyathomeforsuchthings.
Decidingtogetitoverwith,shewentinandwalkedstraighttotheteacher'sdesk,notdaringto
lookatherown.Theairwasthickwithflowerscents.Sheheardthegirlschatteringand
squealingwithdelightovertheirflowers.Sheheardtheexchangeoftriumphantadmiration.
Shegotherreportcard:four"A's"andone"C"minus."ThelatterwasherEnglishmark.She
usedtobethebestwriterinschoolandheresheendedupbarelypassingEnglish.Suddenly,
shehatedtheschoolandalltheteachers,especiallyMissGarnder.Andshedidn'tcareabout
notgettingflowers.Shedidn'tcare.Itwasasillycustom,anyway."I'llgotomydeskandgetmy
things,"shedecided."Andifanyonespeakstome,I'lltellthemtoshutup.AndthenI'llwalkout
ofthisschoolforeverandnotsaygoodbyetoanyone."Sheraisedhereyes."Thedeskwithout
flowersonitwillbemine."Buttherewerenoemptydesks!Therewereflowersoneverysingle
one!
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Franciewenttoherdesk,reasoningthatagirlhadplacedoneofherbouquetstherefora
moment.Francieplannedtopickitupandhandittotheownersayingcoolly,"Doyou
mind?
I
havetogetsomethingoutofmydesk."
Shepickeduptheflowers-twodozendarkredrosesonasheafofferns.Shecradledthemin
herarm,thewaytheothergirlsdid,andpretendedforamomentthattheywerehers.She
lookedfortheowner'snameonthecard.Butherownnamewasonthecard!Hername!The
cardsaid:
ForFrancieongraduationday.LovefromPapa
.
Papa!
Thewritingwasinhisfinecarefulhand,intheblackinkfromthebottleinthecupboardathome.
Thenit
was
alladream,alongmixed-updream.Lauriewasadream,andtheworkingat
McGarrity's,andthegraduationplay,andthebadmarkinEnglish.Shewaswakingupnowand
everythingwouldbeallright.Papawouldbewaitingoutinthehall.
ButtherewasonlySissyinthehall.
"Thenpapa
isdead
,"shesaid.
"Yes,"saidSissy."Andit'ssixmonthsnow."
"Buthe
can't
be,AuntSissy.Hesentmeflowers."
"Francie,aboutayearagohegavemethatcardallwrittenoutandtwodollars.Hesaid,'When
Franciegraduates,sendhersomeflowersforme-incaseIforget.'"
Franciestartedtocry.Itwasn'tonlybecauseshewassure,now,thatnothingwasadream;it
wasbecauseshewasunstrungfromworkingtoohardandworryingaboutmama;becauseshe
didn'tgettowritethegraduationplay;becauseshegotabadmarkinEnglish;becauseshehad
beentoowellpreparednottoreceiveflowers.
Sissytookhertothegirls'washroomandpushedherintoabooth."Cryloudandhard,"she
ordered,"andhurryup.Yourmotherwillbewonderingwhat'skeepingus."
Franciestoodinthebooth,clutchingherrosesandsobbing.Eachtimethewashroomdoor
openedandchatteringannouncedincominggirls,sheflushedthetoiletsothatthenoiseofthe
waterwoulddrownouthersobs.Soonshewasoverit.Whenshecameout,Sissyhada
handkerchiefwetwithcoldwatertohandher.AsFranciemoppedhereyes,Sissyasked
whethershefeltbetter.Francienoddedyes,andbeggedhertowaitamomentwhileshesaid
hergoodbyes.
Shewentintotheprincipal'sofficeandshookhandswithhim."Don'tforgettheoldschool,
Frances.Comebackandseeussometime,"hesaid.
"Iwill,"promisedFrancie.Shewentbacktosaygoodbyetoherclassroomteacher.
"We'llmissyou,Frances,"saidTeacher.
Franciegotherpencilboxandautographbookfromherdesk.Shestartedtosaygoodbyeto
thegirls.Theycrowdedaroundher.Oneputherarmaroundherwaistandtwootherskissed
hercheek.Theycalledoutgoodbyemessages.
"Cometomyhousetoseeme,Frances."
"Writetome,Frances,andletmeknowhowyou'regettingalong."
"Frances,wehaveatelephonenow.Ringmeupsometime.Ringmeuptomorrow."
"Writesomethinginmyautographbook,huh,Frances?So'sIcansellitwhenyougetfamous."
"I'mgoingtosummercamp.I'llputdownmyaddress.Writetome.Hear,Frances?"
"I'mgoingtoGirlsHighinSeptember.YoucometoGirlsHigh,too,Frances."
"No.CometoEasternDistrictHighwithme."
"GirlsHigh!"
"EasternDistrict!"
"ErasmusHallHigh'sthebest.Youcomethere,Frances,withmeandwe'llbefriendsall
throughhighschool.I'llneverhaveanyotherfriendbutyou,ifyou'llcome."
"Frances,youneverletmewriteinyourautographbook."
Meneither."
"Gimme,gimme."
TheywroteinFrancie'sallbutemptybook."They're
nice
,"Franciethought."Icouldhavebeen
friendswiththemallthetime.Ithoughttheydidn'twanttobefriends.Itmusthavebeenmethat
waswrong."
Theywroteinthebook.Somewrotesmallandcramped;others,looseandsprawling.Butall
thewritingwasthehandwritingofchildren.Franciereadastheywrote:
Iwishyouluck,Iwishyoujoy.
Iwishyoufirst,ababyboy.
Andwhenhishairbeginstocurl,
Iwishyouthen,ababygirl.
-FlorenceFitzgerald.
Whenyouaremarried
Andyourhusbandgetscross,
Sockhimwiththepoker,
Andgetadivorce.
-JeannieLeigh.
Whennightdrawsbackthecurtain,
Andpinsitwithastar,
RememberIamstillyourfriend,
Thoughyoumaywanderfar.
-NoreenO'Leary.
BeatriceWilliamsturnedtothelastpageinthebookandwrote:
Waybackhereandoutofsight,
Isignmyname,justforspite.
Shesignedit,
YourFellowWriter,BeatriceWilliams
."Shewouldsayfellowwriter,"thought
Franciestilljealousabouttheplay.
Franciegotawayatlast.OutinthehallshesaidtoSissy,"Justonemoregoodbye."
"It'stakingyouthelongesttimetograduate,"protestedSissygood-naturedly.
MissGarndersatatherdeskinherbrilliantlylightedroom.Shewasalone.Shewasn'tpopular
andsofarnoonehadbeenintosaygoodbye.ShelookedupeagerlyasFrancieentered.
"Soyou'vecometosaygoodbyetoyouroldEnglishteacher,"shesaid,pleased.
"Yes,ma'am."
MissGarndercouldn'tletitgoatthat.She
had
tobeateacher."Aboutyourmark:Youhaven't
turnedinworkthisterm.Ishouldhavefailedyou.Butatthelastmoment,Idecidedtopassyou
sothatyoucouldgraduatewithyourclass."Shewaited.Franciesaidnothing."Well?Aren'tyou
goingtothankme?"
"Thankyou,MissGarnder."
"Yourememberourlittlechat?"
"Yes,ma'am."
"Whydidyouturnstubbornandstophandinginwork,then?"
Franciehadnothingtosay.Itwassomethingshecouldn'texplaintoMissGarnder.Sheheldout
herhand."Goodbye,MissGarnder."
MissGarnderwastakenaback."Well-goodbye,then,"shesaid.Theyshookhands."Intimeto
come,you'llseeIwasright,Frances."Franciesaidnothing."Won'tyou?"MissGarnderasked
sharply.
"Yes,ma'am."
Franciewentoutoftheroom.ShedidnothateMissGarnderanymore.Shedidn'tlikeher,but
shefeltsorryforher.MissGarnderhadnothinginalltheworldexceptingasurenessabouthow
rightshewas.
Mr.Jensonstoodontheschoolsteps.Hetookeachchild'shandinbothofhisandsaid,
"GoodbyeandGodblessyou."HeaddedapersonalmessageforFrancie."Begood,workhard,
andreflectcreditonourschool."Franciepromisedthatshewould.
Onthewayhome,Sissysaid,"Look!Let'snottellyourmotherwhosenttheflowers.Itwillstart
hertorememberingandshe'sjustaboutgettingwellafterLaurie."Theyagreedtosaythat
Sissyboughttheflowers.Francieremovedthecardandputitinherpencilbox.
Whentheytoldmamathelieabouttheflowers,shesaid,"Sissy,youshouldn'thavespentyour
money."ButFranciecouldtellthatmamawaspleased.
ThetwodiplomaswereadmiredandeveryoneagreedthatFrancie'swastheprettieston
accountofMr.Jenson'sfinehandwriting.
"ThefirstdiplomasintheNolanfamily,"saidKatie.
"ButnotthelastIhope,"saidSissy.
"I'mgoingtoseetoitthateachofmychildrenhavethree,"saidEvy,"gradeschool,highschool
andcollege."
"Intwenty-fiveyears,"saidSissy,"ourfamilywillhaveastackofdiplomasthishigh."Shestood
ontiptoeandmeasuredsixfeetfromtheground.
Mamaexaminedthereportcardsforthelasttime.Neeleyhad"B"inconduct,thesamein
physicaleducationand"C"inallhisothersubjects.Mamasaid,"That'sgood,son."Shelooked
pastFrancie's"A's"andconcentratedonthe"Cminus."
"Francie!I'msurprised.Howdidthishappen?"
"Mama,Idon'twanttotalkaboutit."
"AndinEnglish,too.Yourbestsubject."
Francie'svoicenotcheduphigherassherepeated,"Mama,Idon'twanttotalkaboutit."
"Shealwayswrotethebestcompositionsinschool,"explainedKatietohersisters.
"Mama!"Itwasalmostascream.
"Katie!Stopit!"orderedSissysharply.
"Allright,then,"surrenderedKatie,suddenlyawarethatshewasnaggingandashamedof
herself.
Evyjumpedinwithachangeofsubject."Dowehavethatparty,ordon'twe?"sheasked.
"I'mputtingmyhaton,"Katiesaid.
SissystayedwithLauriewhileEvy,mama,andthetwograduateswenttoScheefly'sIce-Cream
Saloonfortheparty.Scheefly'swascrowdedwithgraduationparties.Thekidshadtheir
diplomaswiththemandthegirlsbroughttheirbouquets.Therewasamotherora
father-sometimesboth,ateachtable.TheNolanpartyfoundafreetableatthebackofthe
room.
Theplacewasamedleyofshoutingkids,beamingparentsandrushedwaiters.Somekidswere
thirteen,afewfifteen,butmostofthemFrancie'sage-fourteen.MostoftheboyswereNeeley's
classmatesandhehadagreattimeholleringgreetingsacrosstheroom.Franciehardlyknew
thegirls,neverthelessshewavedandcalledouttothemasgailyasthoughtheyhadbeenclose
friendsforyears.
Franciewasproudofmama.Theothermothershadgrayinghairandmostofthemweresofat
thattheirbacksidessloppedovertheedgesofthechair.Mamawasslenderanddidn'tlookat
alllikegoingonthirty-three.Herskinwasassmoothlyclearandherhairasblackandcurlingas
ithadeverbeen."Putherinawhitedress,"thoughtFrancie,"withabunchofrosesinherarms,
andshe'dlooklikeanyfourteen-year-oldgraduate-exceptforthelinebetweenhereyesthatcut
deepersincepapadied."
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