Friday, January 15, 2010

NO ONE TO PLAY WITH, part 1 of 3; by Marion Temple (1917)

Philip had only a hazy remembrance of that strange morning and the weary days that followed when the blinds were all down and the house felt dark and queer. Since the day when the long string of black carriages waited outside, the drawing-room had never been used. His father now came home late each day, rushed into the nursery to say "Good-night" and rushed out again. Philip gathered that they played a great deal with a club but wondered where it was hidden as he never saw one in the house. He wished he had one--it might help to pass the time, which often seemed to go very slowly.

One evening his father came home early and sent for him to come down to his study.

"I've something to tell you, Philip," he said rather nervously.

They were standing like two men on the hearth rug side by side. The tall man knew nothing of the etiquette of "Guess and describe."

"Is it animal?" asked Philip politely, quoting the first of his trinity.

His father started, then answered with a strange smile, "Spiritual."

Philip was puzzled as one who hears the first whisper of doubt on an unshakable creed. He had never believed in anything beyond animal, vegetable and mineral.

"Something wonderful is going to happen," continued his father rapidly, "something that will make you very happy. A lady, a beautiful lady is coming to live here."

Philip danced for joy. "Is God sending Mummy back?" he cried.

Mr. Wilton started and ran his fingers thru his iron-ray hair. "No, no," he answered, "not that; but a beautiful lady is coming to play with you and look after you. In fact she's going to marry me."

Something stuck in Philip's throat. He swallowed hard and then something kept twitching at the corners of his mouth. He had all he could do to keep it steady. His eyes felt hot and stinging.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. He could not think of anything else to say. His father, longing to conclude so embarrassing an interview, drew forth from his pocket a large silver watch and chain, and Philip forgetting everything else dashed off, calling on Nurse and Jessie and Annie and Mrs. Coleman to come and see a watch which had a loud voice of its own.

For a fortnight Philip did not see his father even for a minute or two in the nursery. Nurse and Jessie whispered mysteriously together, the housemaids were busy all day long and Mrs. Colman the housekeeper looked anxious and worried. One special day there was even more excitement than usual and in the evening Philip was sent for to come to see his "new mamma."

He entered the room solemnly. He knew he must be polite to ladies but there was no trace of friendliness in his frank direct gaze. His attitude bespoke strong disapproval.

Someone very beautiful, wrapped in sable furs, was sitting by the fire.

"You are sitting in my Mummy's chair," he said slowly, and steadily looked away from her. There came a moment of tense silence and then a sweet, gentle voice whispered tenderly across the room:

"I am sorry--but you see I did not know. Won't you come to me?"