MARIAN’S DIARY

A YEAR passed away, in which time Marian was kept more and more outside
of the family and more and more apart from all ordinary pleasures of
childhood, but in spite of everything she was happy, ever hoping to win
the approval of her aunt and uncle.

Going to school was a never-failing joy because at noon-times and
recess there were girls and boys to play with, and the long walks to
and from school were always a delight to a child who was interested in
everything from a blade of grass to the clouds.

Ella attended a private school near home and was scarcely allowed to
speak to Marian. She had many playmates, but all of them put together
were not half so attractive from her point of view as the little cousin
who played alone. One winter morning Ella told Marian behind the
dining-room door that her grandmother and Uncle Robert were coming to
stay all the spring-time and that Uncle Robert was a little boy only
a few years older than Marian. Ella was delighted, but Marian wished
Uncle Robert was a girl. She had reason for the wish before summer.

Marian was prejudiced against boys for as much as a year after Ella’s
uncle went away. He believed it was his privilege to tease little
girls, though in all his life he never had such a chance to torment
any one as he had that spring. It was useless to play tricks on
Ella, because she ran crying to her mother and that made trouble for
Robert: but Marian could appeal to no one and teasing her was safe
and interesting. To hold her doll by the hair while Marian begged and
screamed, was daily amusement until the child learned to leave the doll
in her room. To hide her few books was another pleasure and to frighten
her on every possible occasion until her eyes seemed fairly popping out
of her head, was a victory.

Marian was glad to have some one to play with if that some one was a
tyrant and often before her tears were dry, she was ready to forgive
Robert for teasing her and to join in any game he proposed. One day
he suggested something that shocked Marian. He asked her to steal
sugar. He didn’t say steal, he said “Hook,” and at first Marian didn’t
understand. Robert told her to sneak into the pantry after Lala was
through work in the afternoon, take a lump of sugar from the barrel and
give it to him. She wouldn’t listen in the beginning, but by dint of
persuasion and threats, Robert succeeded in getting his lump of sugar:
not only one, but many, for stealing sugar became easier as the days
went by and no one caught the small culprit.

Robert’s ambition was to be a railroad engineer, and soon after the
sugar stealing began, he made an engine of boxes and barrels in the
locust grove. When it was finished and in running order, he allowed
Marian to be his fireman. At first the child thought it was fun,
but when she had shoveled air with a stick for five minutes without
stopping, while Robert rang the bell, blew the whistle and ran the
engine, she threw down her shovel. “It’s my turn to be engineer now,”
she declared.

“Girls don’t know enough to run engines,” was the reply.

“I’m not a girl,” protested Marian, “I’m a fireman.”

“Then tend to your job, why don’t you?” was the retort. “I wouldn’t
ring the bell for my fireman if I didn’t think he was a good one. Come,
coal up, tend to business.”

Somewhat flattered, the fireman smiled, shoveled coal until his arms
ached, and then rebelled. “I say,” she declared, “you’ve got to let me
be engineer now! I won’t be fireman another minute!”

“Oh, you won’t?” taunted the engineer. “We’ll see about that! Of course
you needn’t shovel coal for me if you don’t want to, but you had better
make up your mind pretty quick, because if you won’t be my fireman,
I’ll go and tell my sister Amelia that you steal sugar!”

Marian was too stunned for words until Robert laughed. Then her face
grew scarlet, and her eyes had a look in them the boy had never seen
before.

“You dare not tell!” she screamed, leaning towards Robert, anger and
defiance in every line of her slight figure. “I say you dare not!”

“I wonder why?” sniffed the boy.

“You know why; you told me to take the sugar, and I got it for you and
I never tasted a bit of it. You were such an old pig you wouldn’t give
me back a crumb–old rhinoceros–hippopotamus–I’d call you an elephant
too, only elephants are so much nicer’n you.”

Again the boy laughed. “You hooked the sugar, didn’t you?” he demanded.

“What if I did, didn’t I do it ’cause you told me to, and didn’t you
eat it, you old gorilla?”

“What if I did, Miss Marian Spitfire? I’ll say it’s one of your lies,
and no one will believe what you say. You know you can’t look my sister
in the face and tell her you didn’t take the sugar, but I can stand up
and cross my heart and hope to die if I ever saw any sugar, and they’ll
believe me and they won’t believe you. Now will you shovel coal?
Toot-toot-toot–chew-chew-chew–ding-a-ling-a-ling–engine’s going to
start! Ha, ha, ha!”

“You mean thing, you horrid boy! I hate you!” sputtered Marian, but she
shoveled coal. In fact the child shoveled coal the rest of the spring
whenever Robert chose to play engine, until the day his taunts proved
too much and she kicked his engine to pieces, threatening to “give it
to him,” if he didn’t keep out of the way.

“Now tell,” she screamed from the midst of the wreck, “tell anything
you’re a mind to, I don’t care what you do.”

Robert walked away whistling “Yankee Doodle.” “I’m tired of playing
engine,” he called over his shoulder, “and I’m much obliged to you
for saving me the trouble of taking it to pieces. I don’t wonder
nobody likes you. My sister Amelia knows what she’s talking about when
she says you’ve got the worst temper ever was! I bet you’ll die in
prison—-”

“You’ll die before you get to prison if you don’t get out of my sight,”
was the retort.

Robert walked away so fast Marian was certain he was going to tell
about the sugar and she waited, defiantly at first, then tremblingly.
What would become of her? What would they do? For reasons best known to
himself, Robert didn’t mention sugar, and after a few days of suspense,
Marian breathed easier, although she wasn’t thoroughly comfortable
until Robert and his mother were on their way home.

A few weeks later Aunt Amelia made a jar of cookies for Ella’s birthday
party. She made them herself and put them on a low shelf in the pantry.
Marian asked for a cookie and was refused. She didn’t expect to get
it. The more she thought of the cookies, the more she wanted one. She
remembered the sugar. No one but Robert knew about that sugar, and if
she helped herself to a cooky that would be her own secret. Marian took
a cooky and ate it back of the orchard. Her old friends, the chipping
sparrows, flew down for the crumbs that fell at her feet. The little
birds were surprised when Marian frightened them away. She had been so
kind to them they had lost all fear of her.

The second cooky Marian took she ate in the locust grove where she was
much annoyed by the curiosity of a chipmunk. He asked her questions
with his head on one side and his hand on his heart. His chatter made
her angry. What was it to him if she happened to be eating a cooky? She
did wish folks would mind their own business. From that day, Marian
grew reckless. She carried away cookies two or three at a time and
talked back to the birds and the squirrels and all the inhabitants of
the orchard and the locust grove who were not polite enough to hide
their inquisitiveness.

For once in her life, Marian had all the cookies she wished, although
they agreed with neither her stomach nor her conscience. She didn’t
feel well and she was cross and unhappy. At last Marian knew that the
day of reckoning was near at hand. She could almost touch the bottom
of the cooky jar when she realized that the cookies had been made for
Ella’s party and had not been used upon the table. No one had lifted
the cover of the jar but herself since the day they were baked. It
was a frightful thought. There was no more peace for Marian. Awake or
dreaming, the cookies were ever before her. In school and at home they
haunted her. What should she do, what could she do?

Quietly the child went about the house. She no longer sang nor laughed.
Uncle George wondered, Aunt Amelia rejoiced. She thought Marian’s usual
high spirits unbecoming a child dependent upon charity, as Marian had
often heard her remark.

“She may be working too hard in school,” suggested Uncle George.

“Whatever is the cause she has behaved so well lately, I shall allow
her in the sitting-room with the children when Ella has her party,”
conceded Aunt Amelia.

Even a shadow of kindness touched Marian’s heart. Oh, why had she done
wrong? From the depths of her soul, the child repented. Why had she
been called bad in the days when she tried to be good, and at last when
she was so bad, why would Aunt Amelia declare that there was a great
improvement in her behavior, and why would Uncle George speak to her
almost as pleasantly as he did to Ella? If only she had remembered
the words of Mrs. Moore before it was too late; to “Be good and to do
right.” Mrs. Moore also said, “Be brave.” It would be brave to go to
Aunt Amelia and tell her the truth about the cookies. Marian had not
been good, she had not done right and she could not be brave.

Many and many a time the child studied the grim face of Aunt Amelia,
repeating over and over to herself “Be brave.” It seemed to Marian
that if she attempted telling Aunt Amelia of her sin, she would die on
the spot, choke to death, perhaps, trying to get the words out. Her
throat closed tight together at the very thought. It might, under some
circumstances, be possible to tell Uncle George, although to confess
was to be forever an outcast. Neither Uncle George nor Aunt Amelia
would ever love her, nor would she ever be allowed to play with Ella.
All the golden texts Marian had ever learned, haunted her memory. “The
way of the transgressor is hard.” “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
“Enter not into the path of the wicked.” “Evil pursueth sinners.”
There were many others, so many, the child was sorry she had ever gone
to Sunday-school.

The day of the party was bright and beautiful. All the little girls
came who were invited, Ruth Higgins, Dorothy Avery and Dolly Russel
among the number. Marian went into the sitting-room with drooping head
and misery in her soul, until joining in the games and merriment,
she forgot the cookies and had a good time. Not a thought of trouble
disturbed her pleasure even though she heard Lala setting the table in
the dining-room.

Her conscience awoke only when Aunt Amelia appeared to summon her into
the kitchen. Every bit of color left the child’s face. She could hear
nothing clearly because of the ringing in her ears. As she followed
Aunt Amelia through the dining-room the floor seemed rising up at every
step and the candles on the birthday cake danced before her eyes. On
the table in the kitchen was the empty cooky jar, the eloquent witness
of her guilt. On a rosebud plate beside it were less than a dozen
cookies. Marian gazed stupidly at the jar and at the plate of cookies.

“What have you to say for yourself, Marian Lee?” Aunt Amelia’s voice
sounded far away. There were such lumps in Marian’s throat she couldn’t
speak.

“Answer me,” commanded Aunt Amelia, “what have you to say?”

Marian’s tongue felt paralyzed. Perhaps it was unwilling to do its
owner’s bidding. It was certainly hard for that truthful little tongue
to say the one word “Nothing.” Aunt Amelia’s face was terrible. “Do you
mean to tell me that you haven’t touched those cookies?”

There was no retreat. Marian nodded her head.

“Speak!” continued Aunt Amelia, “say yes or no? Do you dare to tell me
that you didn’t take the cookies?”

It was all Marian did dare to do and her reply was “Yes.”

Aunt Amelia raised a long forefinger as she said, “Don’t stand there
and lie, Marian Lee, you took those cookies.”

“I did not.” Lala grew pale when she heard that answer and saw the
terrified eyes of the child.

“Own up,” she whispered as she passed the trembling sinner on her way
to the dining-room.

Marian looked beseechingly at Aunt Amelia, but her face was hard
and pitiless. The child dared not “Be brave.” “I did not touch the
cookies,” she repeated again and again.

“How do you account for the disappearance of a whole jar of cookies,
Marian, if you didn’t eat them?” asked Uncle George upon his arrival.

Marian had not thought of accounting for the loss of the cookies, but
she took a deep breath and made a suggestion. “I s’pose a hungry tramp
took ’em.”

The reply wasn’t satisfactory. Uncle George frowned and Aunt Amelia
smiled. The smile wasn’t the kind she was in the habit of bestowing
upon Ella. It was the sort that froze the blood in Marian’s veins. She
sank in a miserable little heap upon the floor and cried and cried.

“Reform school is the place for children who steal and lie,” said Aunt
Amelia.

Uncle George tried to make the child confess, but his efforts were
vain. She would not. Threats were powerless. The more frightened Marian
became the more vehemently she denied her guilt. Although it was Ella’s
birthday, and shouts of laughter could be heard from the sitting-room,
Aunt Amelia produced a certain strap Marian was familiar with through
past experience. “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” was Mrs. St.
Claire’s favorite motto so far as her husband’s small relative was
concerned.

“You can whip me till I die,” sobbed Marian when she saw the strap,
“but I can’t say I took the cookies, because I didn’t. How can I say I
did, when I didn’t?” Nor could Aunt Amelia nor Uncle George compel the
child to say anything different.

“You can whip me till I die,” she insisted over and over, “but I can’t
say I took those cookies,” and they finally believed her.

“Go to bed,” commanded Aunt Amelia. “I don’t want to see a child who
could die easier than she could tell the truth. Go!”

A smothered sob caught Marian’s ear. Lala was crying; and because Lala
cried and was soon after found in Marian’s room trying to quiet her,
she was sent away the next day. Tilly was her successor. Before she had
been in the house a week, she openly befriended Marian. “Poor little
thing,” she said, “if you had stolen a barrel of cookies from a baker
you wouldn’t have deserved half of the punishment you get. There isn’t
anything left they can do to you, is there?”

“Yes, they can send me to the reform school,” was the reply, “and, oh,
dear, I’m afraid to go. What will become of me?”

“If I were you,” Tilly advised, “and I took the cookies, I would own
up. They can’t any more than kill you and I guess they’ll do that
anyway.”

Marian shook her head. The time to own up was long passed. She stayed
in her room and ate bread and water a week without protest. On
Sunday afternoon she listened to the story of Ananias and Sapphira
with teeth and fists tightly closed. She heard long speeches on the
fearful consequences of stealing and lying, without a word. Only when
questioned would she say in low spiritless tones, “I did not touch the
cookies.”

When it was all over, and Aunt Amelia and Uncle George gave up trying
to wring a confession from her and the child was simply in disgrace,
her own conscience began its work. It gave her no peace. Marian had
said her prayers every night as Mrs. Moore had taught her when she was
a baby; but she had repeated them quickly with her back turned towards
heaven and had made no mention of cookies. At last, troubled by her
conscience, and not knowing where to turn for comfort, Marian knelt by
her bedside one night and tried an experiment.

“O Lord,” she began, “I am not going to lie to you about the cookies.
Thou knowest I took them. That is why I haven’t said any made up
prayers for so long. I knew Thou knewest how wicked I am and I know
what the Bible says about lying lips. I am afraid of Aunt Amelia or I
would own up. She says I won’t go to heaven when I die because I am
too bad to live there. Now, O Lord, I know I could be good in heaven,
but it has been hard work on earth, and after I took the cookies I got
wickeder and wickeder, but honest and truth I’ll never do anything
wrong again and I’ll never tell another lie. Thou knowest I could be
good in heaven. Please, O Lord, forgive me and take me straight up to
heaven when I die. Amen.”

That prayer didn’t help Marian a bit. She could scarcely get off her
knees when she had said “Amen.” Her head seemed bowed down beneath a
weight of cookies.

“You know what you must do,” insisted her conscience, “you must go to
your Uncle George and your Aunt Amelia first, first, I say.”

“But I can’t do that, and I’m so unhappy,” sobbed Marian, but her
conscience was pitiless. It would allow no compromise. “Oh, if I could
see Nanna,” whispered Marian as she crept into bed. No one had ever
kissed her good-night but once since she had left the Home, and now, no
one ever would again. The Father in heaven had turned away His face.
Marian cried herself to sleep as she had many a night before.

In the middle of the night she awoke and sat up in bed, cold and
trembling. Thunder was rolling through the sky and an occasional flash
of lightning made the little room bright one minute and inky black the
next. Perhaps the end of the world was coming when the graves would
give up their dead and the terrible Judge would descend to deal with
the wicked. A crash of thunder shook the house. Marian dived beneath
the blankets, but a horrible thought caused her to sit bolt upright
again. Aunt Amelia had told her that sinners, on the last day, would
call for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them. Perhaps hiding
beneath blankets meant the same thing. Another crash came and a
blinding flash of lightning. Then another and another. Springing from
her bed, Marian ran down the hall to Mrs. St. Claire’s room. The door
was closed but the room was lighted.

“Oh, let me come in,” she cried, knocking frantically at the door and
keeping her eye upon the crack of light at the bottom.

The response was immediate. Aunt Amelia stepped into the hall and
closed the door behind her. “Go back to your room,” she said, “and
don’t you dare leave it again. I should think you would expect the
lightning to strike you!”

Marian shrank back as a flash of lightning illumined the hall. For one
moment she saw Aunt Amelia, tall and terrible in her white night-dress,
her voice more fearful than the thunder, and her form seeming to
stretch upward and upward, growing thinner and thinner until it
vanished in the awful darkness.

Marian fled, closing the door of her little room and placing a chair
against it. Kneeling by the window, she closed her eyes to shut out
glimpses of the unnatural garden below and the angry sky above. The
thought of sudden death filled her with terror. What would become
of her soul if she died with her sins unconfessed? “Dear Father in
heaven,” she cried, “if you have to kill me with lightning, forgive me
and take me to heaven. I’ll be good there. I’ll never steal anything
there nor ever lie again. I was going to own up to Aunt Amelia, but
O Lord, I was so afraid of her I didn’t dare. If you’ll let me live
through this night, I’ll go and tell her in the morning and then I’ll
never do wrong again. O Lord, I’m so sorry, and I’m awful afraid of
lightning. I don’t want to die by it, but if I have to, please take me
up to heaven. Amen.”

Then Marian went back to bed. Her conscience didn’t say a word that
time and she went to sleep before the storm was over, long before Ella
was quieted or ever Aunt Amelia closed her eyes.

Marian’s first waking thought when she looked out on the fresh
brightness of another day was one of thankfulness. It was good to be
alive. Another second and she groaned. Perhaps she would have been
dead but for that midnight promise, the promise she must keep. Marian
dressed quickly and sought Aunt Amelia before she lost courage. She
wasn’t gone long. Back she flew to the little room where her prayer was
short although her sobs were long.

“Oh, Lord, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t.”

There were many thunder-storms that summer and for a while every one
of them frightened Marian. In the night, she would resolve to confess,
but daylight took away her courage. “If I should be sick a long time,”
Marian argued, “perhaps then Aunt Amelia would like me some and just
before I died I could shut my eyes and tell her about the cookies. Then
God would surely forgive me and I would go straight up to heaven and it
would be all right. But if I should die suddenly, before I had any time
to say any last words, what would become of me?” she asked herself.
After thinking of it some time, Marian hit upon a plan that brought her
peace of mind. She wrote the following confession:

“Nobody knows how much I have suffered on account of some cookies. I
used to like cookies but not now. It began by sugar. I took lumps of
sugar out of a barrel for a boy. I thought if I could take sugar I
could take cookies, too, and I did, but I said I didn’t. I did take
the cookies. I hope my folks will forgive me now I am dead. I suffered
awful before I died on account of cookies. Give my wax doll and all my
things to Ella. The doll is good if I wasn’t. I tried but it is hard
for some children on earth. I am awful sorry on account of being so
much trouble to everybody. I took those cookies. Marian Lee.”

Having folded this paper, Marian was happier than she had been for
weeks. She felt that she had saved her soul.

“JUNE 20.–It is hard to begin a diary. You don’t know what to say
first. Bernice Jones says a diary is a book to put the weather in.
She ought to know on account of her grandmother keeping one. Leonore
Whiting, the girl that sits behind me and wears the prettiest ribbons
in school, says a diary is to put your feelings in. Leonore thinks she
ought to know because her sister is a poetry writer.

“When I asked Uncle George for an empty diary and what you write in
it, he laughed and said he would give me all the paper I wanted to
write things in and I had better put down everything. He said it would
be a good thing for me to write more and talk less, so I guess I will
have the fullest diary of any of the Diary Club. That’s our name. Maud
Brown was the one that got up the name. She says everybody belongs to
a Club. Her mother does and her father and her brothers too. Maud says
she has got to be in a Club or she never will be happy. She is only
going to keep weather because she doesn’t like to write. Leonore and a
lot of the other girls are just going to keep a few feelings, but I am
going to write down weather and feelings and everything.

“The weather is all right to-day.

“It is too bad about vacation. It is almost here and then I won’t have
anybody to play with. Uncle George says he never saw a little girl like
to go to school as well as I do. It really isn’t school I like to go
to, it is recesses. I guess he had some other boys to play with when he
was little or he would know. I would like to play with Dolly Russel but
my aunt never will let me go over there and she tells Dolly’s mother
‘No,’ about everything she wants me to do. She did let Ella go, only
they don’t invite Ella any more. I wonder if she talked too much, or
broke anything, or why? Lala works over there now, but my aunt told me
not to talk to Lala so I don’t dare.

“I found out something to-day at school. The children that live in
houses don’t all go to bed in the dark. I cried and cried when I first
had to go to bed in the dark because where I used to live, we didn’t
have to. I wish I could sit up late at night.

“Another thing about a diary is how nice it will be for your
grandchildren to know what you used to think about and what you used
to do. I can hardly believe that I am the grandmother of my own
grandchildren, but of course it is so.

“June 21.–We took our diaries to school. I had the most written of
anybody, but I don’t think it is nice to read your diary out loud
because they ask questions. The girls wanted to know where I used to
live and I wanted to tell them but I didn’t dare to, and now I wonder
about things. Louise Fisher said that Dolly Russel’s mother told her
mother that my aunt is not good to me, and a good many more things,
and they are all sorry for me and they say it is too bad I can’t have
pretty clothes like Ella. I didn’t say much because I don’t want
everybody in school to know how bad I am and that nobody can love me,
and about the cookies. I guess I would die if they knew it all. Their
mothers wouldn’t let them play with me at recess.

“I wish I had a white dress to wear the last day of school when I sing
a song alone and speak my piece. I don’t like to sing and speak pieces
because I am afraid. I am not going to take my diary to school any more.

“June 22.–I don’t know what to think. I heard some more things about
me at school to-day. Folks wonder who I am and where I came from, and
Louise Fisher says she knows Uncle George is not my own uncle and if
she was me she would run away. I can’t run away because I don’t know
where to run to and I am afraid. Ella knows things about me and if she
ever gets a chance I guess she will tell me, but her mother won’t let
her speak to me if she can help it. I guess her mother doesn’t know how
hard I try to set Ella a good example of being polite and not slamming
doors and speak when you’re spoken to, and children should be seen and
not heard, and if you behave as well as you look you’ll be all right.

“I know it was bad about the cookies, but Ella never can do a cooky
sin because her mother always says to her, ‘Help yourself, darling,’
and that’s different. Besides that, Ella thinks a tramp did take the
cookies. I will tell her some time because she cried and was sorry I
had so much trouble. Then she will never speak to me again, but it is
better to tell the truth than to do any other way. When I think I am
going to die, sure, then I will tell my aunt if it kills me.

“I wonder if Uncle George is my uncle or what?

“June 23.–It was the last day of school to-day. I sung my song and
spoke my piece and Dolly Russel’s mother kissed me. I wish she was my
mother. I wish I had a mother. I am glad she kissed me. Aunt Amelia
wasn’t there. Ella cried because she couldn’t go. It didn’t rain. You
don’t think about weather when it is nice.

“September 5.–The queerest thing happened. I thought I would be the
one that would write the most in my diary this summer, but I wasn’t,
and good reason why. It was just a little after daylight the day after
the last day of school, that Aunt Amelia came and called me and told me
to get dressed quick, and she gave me all clean clothes to put on and I
was frightened. I said what had I done and she said I had done enough.
I was scared worse than ever. She told me to go down in the kitchen and
I would find some breakfast ready. I thought I couldn’t eat, everything
was so queer and early, but I did, and then I had to put on my hat and
Uncle George said, ‘Are you ready?’ I said where am I going, is it
reform school, and Aunt Amelia said it ought to be, and then I got in
a carriage with Uncle George and the driver put a little new trunk on
behind and we drove to the depot.

“It was awful early and the grass and the trees looked queer and the
birds were singing like everything. Uncle George told me to cheer up, I
was going to a nice place where I would have a good time, and he told
me to write to him every week and he would write to me. He said I
mustn’t tell the folks where I was going that I was ever bad. He said
he thought I was a pretty good little girl, and when he put me on the
train and told the conductor where I was going and to take care of me,
because I was his little girl, I put my arms around his neck and kissed
him good-bye. He is a good man. I hope he is my uncle, but I don’t know.

“Well, I had a nice time in that village where I went and Uncle George
came after me yesterday. I was glad to see him, but I didn’t want to
come home. I wanted to stay and go to the country school, but he said
that my grandchildren would want their grandmother to know something.

“Then he told me he found my diary and that he put it away where nobody
could see it until I got back. He said he thought he had better tell
me to keep my diary out of sight, because that was the style among
diary-writing folks. So I will hide my diary now. I wonder if he read
it. Anyway, I know Aunt Amelia didn’t get a chance, because he told me
most particular about how he found it first thing and put it where
it wouldn’t get dusty. He says he is my Uncle George. I was afraid
maybe I was just adopted for a niece, and I am not sure yet. He didn’t
say he wasn’t my adopted Uncle George, and maybe he thought I was his
brother’s little girl when I wasn’t. The folks I stayed with told Uncle
George I am a lovely child. He didn’t look surprised, only glad.

“September 6.–All the girls had new dresses at school. I am in the
fourth grade this term. I am in fractions and on the map of South
America. We played London Bridge and King William at recess.

“September 7.–Too many things to play after school. Can’t write. Aunt
Amelia makes me get straight to bed after I come to my room at night.
It doesn’t seem like night, though. I don’t like to go to bed in the
afternoon very well, but after all, I am glad it doesn’t get dark
early. I go to sleep in the daytime and wake up in the daytime and the
birds are always singing.

“September 8.–Nothing happened in school to-day. It rains and I can’t
go out in the orchard. I was going to play ‘Landing of the Pilgrims,’
but I guess I will write in my diary. Where I was this summer they had
a library, not a big one like the one down-stairs, but the shelves were
low so I could reach the books, and the folks let me read all I wanted
to. I was pretty glad of it, rainy days and Sundays.

“The book I liked best was full of stories about the Norsemen. They
gave me the book to keep. I take it way up in the top of my favorite
apple-tree and read and read. Sometimes I play I’m Odin and sometimes
I am Thor. I am not so afraid of thunder since I read about Thor. When
it thunders and lightens I play I am an old Norseman and that I really
believe Thor is pounding with his big hammer and that he is scaring
the bad frost giants. I am glad Aunt Amelia says she never read Norse
stories. If she had, she would call me Loki, so there’s somebody that’s
bad she can’t say I am.

“What I like best is to sit in the top of the apple-tree and shut the
book and think about the Rainbow Bridge that stretched from earth to
heaven. Every one couldn’t cross, but if my father and my mother were
on the other side of the shining bridge, I would look straight towards
them and I wouldn’t look down and my mother would hold out her arms and
I wouldn’t be afraid. May be the Rainbow Bridge is wide. I am sure it
is when I stop to think, because the gods used to drive over it when
they came to visit the earth. Perhaps they would let me cross if they
saw me coming because it was only the bad giants they tried to keep
out of heaven. Oh, dear, I guess I am a bad giant myself, even if I am
little, because the book says, ‘The giants in old Norse times were not
easy to conquer: but generally it was when they hid themselves behind
lies and appeared to be what they were not that they succeeded for a
time.’ I hid myself behind lies.

“September 9.–One sure thing, I will always tell the truth as long as
I live. I didn’t come straight home from school to-night. A lot of us
girls went in the old cemetery and read what’s on the tombstones, and
I didn’t get home early. I tried to get through the gate when my aunt
wasn’t looking, but that would have been what you call good luck. She
took me in and said, ‘Where have you been?’ I said, ‘In the graveyard.’
She said, ‘Why didn’t you stay there?’ I didn’t know what to answer so
I kept still. Then my aunt said, ‘You can’t go out to play,’ and that
was all. So I am always going to tell the truth and feel comfortable
inside, no matter what happens. I was more afraid of how I would feel
when it was time to say my prayers if I told a lie, than I was of my
aunt.

“September 10.–I didn’t get home early to-night because I walked
around the pond with Louise Fisher and Maud Brown. I owned up when I
got home. I am not going to write down what happened, but it was worse
than just being sent to your room. I don’t want my little grandchildren
to read about it. I am coming straight home next Monday night.

“September 11.–Aunt Amelia says I act worse all the time. I don’t know
what I did that was bad to-day, but I got scolded all the time.

“September 12.–Went to church and Sunday-school and the boys made fun
of my shoes. They couldn’t make me cry. I should think I would get used
to being made fun of because I have to wear a sunbonnet to school and
all the other little girls wear hats. I wear my sunbonnet as far as my
aunt can see and then I take it off and swing it by the strings. She
would be angry if she knew. I would almost rather be baldheaded than
wear a sunbonnet when all the other girls wear hats. I wish I could
have pretty shoes for Sundays, but I won’t let the boys know I care.

“September 13.–I came straight home to-night. I wish school began at
daylight and didn’t let out till dark, there is so much trouble at
home. Uncle George says it is all on account of me.

“September 14.–I came straight home and got scolded.

“September 15.–Got scolded again.

“September 16.–Got scolded some more.

“September 17.–Got put to bed without any supper on account of sitting
down by the side of the pond to watch a frog. It was a funny frog and
when I had to go to bed, I went to sleep thinking about it. When it was
almost dark Uncle George came and woke me up to give me something to
eat. He didn’t scold. I am writing this the next morning for yesterday.

“September 18.–It was a beautiful Saturday. My aunt had company and
I played out in the orchard all day long. Ella and my aunt and the
company went to drive in the afternoon so there wasn’t anybody to scold
me. I saw the mole to-day. He came out and walked around a little. I
guess he knew my aunt was gone. Everything was happy in the orchard. I
watched a caterpillar a long time. He went so fast he made me laugh. I
guess he was going home from school and wanted to get there in time.

“September 19.–This is Sunday. Uncle George called me in the parlor to
sing for the company and some other folks that came. Aunt Amelia played
on the piano and when she couldn’t play any more on account of a cramp
in her wrist, they told me to sing without any music and I did. The
company wiped away some tears, and she said I could sing just the way
my father did when he was a little boy, and then she took me in her lap
and said she thought I looked like my mother. I was going to ask some
questions, but my aunt said not to talk about some things, and then
the company said it was going to rain, she guessed, and would I sing
another song. I did and then my aunt sent me to my room, cross. I mean
she was cross. I felt pretty bad at first but I got over it.

“September 20.–Ella says there is a picture of my father in the album,
and she will show it to me first chance she gets.

“September 21.–My aunt was away when I got home from school so Ella
said, ‘Now’s your chance,’ and we went into the parlor and she showed
me the picture. I smiled back at the face because it smiled at me. My
father is pleasant and kind.

“September 22.–I went in the parlor and looked at the picture again. I
was afraid my aunt would come in and find me.

“September 23.–It happened to-day. I was looking at the picture and
my aunt came in still and caught me. She said dreadful things, and I
cried and I don’t know what I did, but she said I was saucy and she
didn’t know what to do with me. Uncle George heard the noise and came
in and he scolded, too. I never saw him so cross. I almost thought he
was angry with Aunt Amelia, but of course that was not so. At last he
took my father’s picture out of the album and gave it to me, and told
me to keep it, and he told me not to go in my aunt’s parlor because
she didn’t want me there. I knew that before, because I wanted to take
lessons on the piano same as Ella, and she wouldn’t let me.

“I am so glad I have my father’s picture. It is like having folks of
your own to have a picture of somebody that was yours. I haven’t missed
a single question in school on the map of South America. I guess that
is one map I can’t forget. I wish I knew where my father went in South
America. I don’t dare ask Uncle George. He says I am the trial of his
life, and he doesn’t see why I don’t behave like other children.

“October 1.–I am getting so I don’t care what happens to me. I don’t
come straight home from school any more. I always think I will until I
get started home, and then I dread to come because nobody loves me and
I will get scoldings and things anyway, so I stop and look at toads and
frogs and have a good time before I get home, and sometimes nothing
happens. My aunt says I tell things, but I don’t. What would I tell
for? I don’t even write sad things in my diary because I don’t want to
make my grandchildren cry. It would make me feel pretty bad if I found
out that nobody loved my grandmother.

“October 2.–Had a lovely time playing Pocahontas in the grove.

“October 3.–I tried to count the stars last night, but I couldn’t. I
wonder why we don’t fall off the earth when China’s on top? Aunt Amelia
says I ought to know better than to ask her questions. I do.

“October 20.–I listened to what the minister said to-day. It was about
heaven. I’ve got to try to be awful good on earth so I can surely go
there. Then I guess somebody will love me and when I walk in through
one of the pearly gates, the angels won’t look cross.

“October 21.–You get tired of keeping your diary. I am going to write
a book. Its name will be ‘The Little Daughter of Thor.’ I guess Thor
never had a little girl, but I am going to write it in a book that he
did, and one day when the little girl was a baby and she was playing
with the golden apples, she fell right through the sky on to the earth.
Then I am going to write about how the little girl watched for the
Rainbow Bridge. She was a little stray child on earth, and even the
giants were kind to her. Of course Thor’s little daughter would know
enough to know that the only way home was over the blue and golden
Rainbow Bridge that she couldn’t see only sometimes.

“At the end of the story, Thor himself will find the little girl and
will take her in his chariot across the Rainbow Bridge to the shining
bright city in the clouds where her mother will hug her pretty near to
pieces. Maybe when I get the book done, I will write another about what
Thor’s little daughter did when she got home. About the songs she used
to sing with her mother, and the flowers they used to pick and about
everything that is happiness. It will be nicer to do than keeping an
old diary about real things.

“The nicest looking man’s picture I ever saw is my father, so I am
going to have him for Thor. My father looks kind and smiling, but he
looks, too, as if he would know how to use Thor’s big hammer if the bad
giants tried to cross the Rainbow Bridge. I think it is queer that I
like the god of thunder so well that I will let him have my father’s
face in my book.

“October 22.–I am going to put some last words in my diary, just
to say that it is a good thing to write a book. Something dreadful
happened after school to-night. I felt dreadful, nobody knows. I got
over it though, and then because I had to stay in my room and have dry
bread and water for my supper, I started my book and it was lots of
fun. It is the best thing there is to do when you want to forget you
are a little girl that nobody loves. If I live here until I am an old
lady I presume I will turn into an author.

“If it wasn’t for the orchard and the locust grove and the way home
from school, and recesses and my doll and my books, and the birds and
the wild flowers and the lovely blue sky I can see from my window this
minute, and a good many other things, I would wish I had died when I
was a baby. That makes me laugh. It is a nice world to live in after
all. A beautiful world.”