Monday, April 12, 2010

EBENEZER FINDS A HOME! by Henriette Forester; April 1935; part 2

"Maybe we better adopt a hired man instead," joked Eben.

"Well, if things keep on picking up you can hire a man, dear." Eben would need help now that she couldn't take the place of a man in a pinch.

"Union Station in twenty minutes!" bawled the brakeman.

Myrtle looked out at the battered backs of tenements: gray lines of washing that hung out all night, heavy-eyed youngsters leaning over the zigzag of flimsy railings. No grass, no trees, no green--the train clicked on past mile after of mile of it. "Think of keeping a nursery full of babies in this dirty city all summer. My land! It's the time of year to take Ebenezer if ever..."

"If ever," echoed Eben. "But just remember we can't give him private schooling and college and his own car...You do wrong to set your heart on him, Myrt.

"It's set," said Myrtle and so were her lips, as the two climbed off the train and into the dingy train sheds, and out through the black wicket, and saw Chicago. She carried the baby's traveling basket and Eben carried the baby's little outfit.

She watched Eben eat a fried egg sandwich off the bleak whiteness of the five and dime store lunch counter, while she pretended to swallow a piece of toast. He drank three cups of coffee.

"He always drinks lots of coffee when he's trying to keep up his nerve," she thought, twirling restlessly on the stool. Between twirls she studied her costume in the glass. Did her hat she had fixed over look homemade? Her blue serge would pass, although it was two years old. She had turned, lengthened, sponged and pressed it and copied the pique collar and cuffs from a spring magazine.

She didn't notice Eben looking at her sideways. There was something in her set lips and the way she sat up straight that made Myrtle look like a soldier starting off to war, he thought.

"Would you like to ride around awhile and see the city?" she asked, a little hesitant, as they stood on the corner.

Just as though he didn't know she was busting to get there! "Guess we better head straight for the address on your letter," he said.

"All right," agreed Myrtle, with a great burst of relief.

The Baby Home Placing Society was a square, formidable building. Eben stopped dead on the steps. "This don't look like a home. It don't look like a home at all."

"Well, it's really a hospital, you know, Eben. The babies lie in their cribs all day and there are nurses and doctors looking after them."

"We won't have nurses and we're twenty miles from a doctor, Myrt."

Down the steps of the formidable building came an elegant couple. The lady wore some filmy summer stuff and the man wore a suit of pale gray, and a panama hat and white shoes. He carried a baby dressed like a princess. Her coat was like rose petals, her bonnet was silk and lace, peaked about her face like a sweet pea; two yellow ringlets curled down one side, two down the other side, and one down the middle of her forehead. Her white kid slippers and silk socks stuck straight out, for the elegant man carried her with awkward unfamiliarity. The chauffeur waiting in front jumped down, opened the door and stood motionless while the couple entered.

"What did I say, Myrt." whispered Eben.

Myrtle bit her lips to a pale line of determination and plunged her finger into the bell. "Didn't look like a baby. Looked like a dressed-up doll," she muttered grimly.

Eben stood abashed beside her temerity.