Lovey Mary by Alice Hegan Rice
Chapter IV. An Accident and an Incident
"Our deeds still travel with us from afar, And what we have been makes us what we are."
Through the assistance of Asia Wiggs, Lovey Mary secured pleasant and profitable work at the factory; but her mind was not at peace. Of course it was a joy to wear the red dress and arrange her hair a different way each morning, but there was a queer, restless little feeling in her heart that spoiled even the satisfaction of looking like other girls and earning three dollars a week. The very fact that nobody took her to task, that nobody scolded or blamed her, caused her to ask herself disturbing questions. Secret perplexity had the same effect upon her that it has upon many who are older and wiser: it made her cross.
Two days after she started to work, Asia, coming down from the decorating-room for lunch, found her in fiery dispute with a red- haired girl. There had been an accident in front of the factory, and the details were under discussion.
"Well, I know all about it," declared the red-haired girl, excitedly, "'cause my sister was the first one that got to her."
"Is your sister a nigger named Jim Brown?" asked Lovey Mary, derisively. "Ever'body says he was the first one got there."
"Was there blood on her head?" asked Asia, trying to stem the tide of argument.
"Yes, indeed," said the first speaker; "on her head an' on her hands, too. I hanged on the steps when they was puttin' her in the ambalance- wagon, an' she never knowed a bloomin' thing!"
"Why didn't you go on with them to the hospital!" asked Lovey Mary. "I don't see how the doctors could get along without you."
"Oh, you're just mad 'cause you didn't see her. She was awful pretty! Had on a black hat with a white feather in it, but it got in the mud. They say she had a letter in her pocket with her name on it."
"I thought maybe she come to long enough to tell you her name," teased her tormentor.
"Well, I do know it, Smarty," retorted the other, sharply: "it's Miss Kate Rider."
Meanwhile in the Cabbage Patch Miss Hazy and Mrs. Wiggs were holding a consultation over the fence.
"She come over to my house first," Mrs. Wiggs was saying, dramatically illustrating her remarks with two tin cans. "This is me here, an' I looks up an' seen the old lady standin' over there. She put me in mind of a graven image. She had on a sorter gray mournin', didn't she, Miss Hazy?"
"Yes, 'm; that was the way it struck me. Bein' gray, I 'lowed it was fer some one she didn't keer fer pertickler."
"An' gent's cuffs," continued Mrs. Wiggs; "I noticed them right off. ''Scuse me,' says she, snappin' her mouth open an' shut like a trap-- ''scuse me, but have you seen anything of two strange children in this neighborhood?' I th'owed my apron over Lovey Mary's hat, that I was trimmin'. I wasn't goin' to tell till I found out what that widder woman was after. But before I was called upon to answer, Tommy come tearin' round the house chasin' Cusmoodle."
"Cusmoodle, the duck. I named it this mornin'. Well, when the lady seen Tommy she started up, then she set down ag'in, holdin' her skirts up all the time to keep 'em from techin' the floor. 'How'd they git here?' she ast, so relieved-like that I thought she must be kin to 'em. So I up an' told her all I knew. I told her if she wanted to find out anything about us she could ast Mrs. Reddin' over at Terrace Park. 'Mrs. Robert Reddin'?' says she, lookin' dumfounded. 'Yes,' says I, 'the finest lady, rich or poor, in Kentucky, unless it's her husband.' Then she went on an' ast me goin' on a hunderd questions 'bout all of us an' all of you all, an' 'bout the factory. She even ast me where we got our water at, an' if you kept yer house healthy. I told her Lovey Mary had made Chris carry out more 'n a wheelbarrow full of dirt ever' night since she had been here, an' I guess it would be healthy by the time she got through."
Miss Hazy moved uneasily. "I told her I couldn't clean up much 'count of the rheumatism, an' phthisic, an' these here dizzy spells--"
"I bet she didn't git a chance to talk much if you got started on your symptims," interrupted Mrs. Wiggs.
"Didn't you think she was a' awful haughty talker?"
'No, indeed. She took on mighty few airs fer a person in mournin'. When she riz to go, she says, real kind fer such a stern-faced woman, 'Do the childern seem well an' happy?' 'Yes, 'm; they're well, all right,' says I. 'Tommy he's like a colt what's been stabled up all winter an' is let out fer the first time. As fer Mary,' I says, 'she seems kinder low in her mind, looks awful pestered most of the time.' 'It won't hurt her,' says the lady. 'Keep a' eye on 'em,' says she, puttin' some money in my hand,' an' if you need any more, I'll leave it with Mrs. Reddin'.' Then she cautioned me pertickler not to say nothin' 'bout her havin' been here."
"She told me not to tell, too," said Miss Hazy; "but I don't know what we're goin' to say to Mrs. Schultz. She 'most sprained her back tryin' to see who it was, an' Mrs. Eichorn come over twicet pertendin'-like she wanted to borrow a corkscrew driver."
"Tell 'em she was a newfangled agent," said Mrs. Wiggs, with unblushing mendacity--"a' agent fer shoestrings."