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THE "CRABBED OLD MAID" AND THE BABY J
BY JANE WHITAKER a
A great deal of humor In the magazines hinges upon the spinster whos.
nears forty and is unattractive. And little has been said of its pathos.
Mary Warner "was forty-one and single. More, she -was a stendgrapherl
who had reached the age when she was no longer wanted.
It was hard to recognize that, for she was a perfect machine trained '
for twenty years in the hardest school. And it required six months of un
tiring effort to convince her that there wasn't anyrooni for her in, the field
overcrowded by young, quick, attractive girls.
When a truth like this comes home to a woman, she turns to the best
friend she has. Mary Warner had no best friendi She lived in a little room
in a boarding house, and long since
they had dubbed her a cranky old
- maid and let her alone.
Tonight there was a strange list
lessness about her walk as she paced
the floor, to and fro, the length of the
narrow little room. Not even the
ringing of the cracked dinner bell
aroused he"r from her reverie.
Her purse lay on the couch bed,
open and empty. A little bottle
wrapped in a pink paper, such as they
use in drug stores, was beside it, and
it was at the little bottle Mary looked
each time she turned.
Twilight deepened into darkness,
but Mary did not light the gas. She
heard the boarders ascending from
the diningroom, chatting as they
went to their rooms-. There was the
tinny jangletof a piano that needed
tuning, and then a baritone voice be
gan to sing; "Love, I Am Lonely,
Years Are So Long."
- Mary laughed, and it was a very
bitter little laugh. Slowly she picked
up the bottle wrapped in the pink
paper and switched on the light. The
brown contents seemed to glitter,
and the skull and bones pasted on the
label had a sinister look, but Mary's
face was very calm.
"The scraps must go to the scrap
heap," she said, without expression.
"I wonder if I have ever had one sin
gle hour of unadulterated happiness.
Well, just a little while to think and
then the quiet drifting out."
She looked at her reflection in the
mirror. "Yqu're a quitter, Mary
Warner," she said, but it was a de
claration' rather .than an accusation.
Then she turned out the gas once
more and sat by the one lone win
dow, looking out where the light
gleamed, and wondered how many
other women, like herself, had reach
ed the place where there seemed no
She was startled by a timid tap at
the door, but she did not move.
"Come in," she called, impatiently., ..
The door opened a little way cau
tiously, then a tiny voice exclaimed,
"Why, you is all in the dark!"
"Who are you?" "Mary demanded,
as she rose and lit the gas, and then
paused amazed befpre the little figure
of a golden-haired, blue-eyed slip of
a girl, with such a wonderfully beau
"Don't you know me," the child
asked. ""I sits at your table with my
muzzer. You didn't eat tonight Muz
zer said maybe you sick. Are you
"No," Mary answered, in a strain
ed, hard voice. -"Please go away."
"But I come to play. Muzzer has a
headache, and she went out in the air.
with papa, and I is.all alone." i
"I don't know how to play," Mary
"Oh, but it's easy. You play house..
You be the mamma and I be the little?
girl. See, that's our house over
there- by the screen. We play 1'se
been naughty and you put meIn at
Love doesn't congeal when it Isn't5
lavished it lust' stores tip in'they
-afe- jj--. 'Ztttz.-:
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