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Cymric Strain - Book 2

By Una Howell (USA - 1876-1949)

Chapter 19 - On a Bicycle Built for Two

Copyright Scott Dunbar 2010

Chapter 19

On a Bicycle Built for Two

Our new home was large, commodious and somewhat graceless but open rooms are fine for romping children and uncarved staircases produce fewer bumps. Grownups and children alike, we each of us was on the run with a fulltime job. Dinner was our gayest moment, for then each recounted the day’s experience in pungent form.

Mayne usually carried off the brown derby. He was a born mimic and his imitations of girls were as full of laughs as a comic strip. Once a business friend gently forced him into attending a student recital and he had dragged me along with him.

During the program a homely but animated girl had dashed out on the stage singing, “I am a dai-a-ay” – the "dai” being high then retreating with a gentle jerk at the “ai.” It was very comic. No teacher would have allowed such a thing nor composer to have written it and our self-control was at the breaking point.

From that day, at any dull moment, Mayne was likely to skip “up”, “out”, or “in” with a towel or scarf draped over his solar plexus, singing in falsetto, “I am a dai-a-ay!” while we held our sides and the children howled with delight.

Lilly’s little boys had quickly become the center of interest round which our family revolved. Each of us felt that no matter how much we might do, we could never make up to them for the loss of their mother. For years Howie showed the effect of the strain by taking somnambulistic walks in the middle of the night. Someone would hustle out of bed to find him shivering on the stairs with icy feet and staring eyes, and tuck him in bed again. “Searching for his mama,” was the doctor’s comment.

At the children’s request, Mary and I joined the school Mother’s Club, quoted their bright sayings and bragged like real blood mothers about “our children.” Our conversation was so interlarded with “the little boys” or “the children” that at Mayne’s office no one was aware that they were not his own and the business heads were aghast to learn years after that they had placed a bachelor in charge of four hundred girls. The idea had not in the least disturbed him. He was born with an appreciation of female pulchritude and often commented that if he were able to embellish business to his taste, he would just surround himself with one bouquet. The management, however, had a point, for Mayne was not without drawing power.

The year before, when we had rooms at Miss Jones’ house, a friend had stayed with us for a few days. She had been a supervisor of teachers in Springfield, a brilliant and charming woman who had often been in Lilly’s home. She and Mayne shared many tastes and we women had hoped he would fall in love with her, but he had not. I can still hear her voice at breakfast that summer as she drank her coffee in our crude breakfast room.

“O Maynard, you could have been President of the United States if you had wanted to.” Then, in a steadier tone, “…and somehow I always hoped you would care for me, but you didn’t,” and she set her cup down and smiled.

She had spoken with such complete honesty and unselfconsciousness that we were caught unaware, and I know my heart skipped a beat before we went on from there.

When Spring shook out her first daffodils and lake winds turned inland and grew bland, the Rich Young Man was moved to inquire whether I liked bicycling. His mother had agreed to buy him a man’s tandem (no female machinations for her) and he asked Brother if he had any objections to my riding a diamond frame. Maynard thought the men’s frame safer than the female form so Del Eberhard and I went wholesaling and picked up a divided skirt that was a model of neatness and femininity. After that, when the temperature was friendly, the Rich Young Man and I followed a path that led along Lake Michigan’s shore for a brief ride and home in time for dinner.

Cymric Strain - Book 2, by Una Howell (USA - 1876-1949) Current


Chapter 1 - Evanston

Chapter 2 - The Department of Music
Chapter 3 - Northwestern University

Chapter 4 - Beaued

Chapter 5 - Late for the 1am Train!

Chapter 6 - A Visit from Home

Chapter 7 - Bill Declares Himself

Chapter 8 - Engaged to be Married
Chapter 9 - A Grand Piano for Me?

Chapter 10 - Apartment Life in Evanston

Chapter 11 - On the Train with a Pass

Chapter 12 - Eric’s Decline

Chapter 13 - The Organist

Chapter 14 - Lilly Dies

Chapter 15 - An Unprincipled Woman

Chapter 16 - Music Critic

Chapter 17 - A Rich Young Man

Chapter 18 - Helping the World

Chapter 19 - Chapter 19 - On a Bicycle Built for Two

Chapter 19 - On a Bicycle Built for Two

Chapter 20 - Mendelssohn Concerto in E Major

Chapter 21 - The Meister Way

Chapter 22 - An Admirer

Chapter 23 - Gentlemen Callers

Chapter 24 - The Scotchman

Chapter 25 - Checking on Maynard

Chapter 26 - Rich Young Man - Not so Much

Chapter 27 - A Kind of Ending

Chapter 28 - Plans for a New Marriage

Chapter 29 - The Marriage

Chapter 30 - Honeymoon

Chapter 31 - Leaving for Elgin

Chapter 32 - Getting to Know Elgin -1901

Chapter 33 - Our First Mobile (Auto)

Chapter 34 - Life in Elgin

Chapter 35 - Preparing for Birth

Chapter 36 - Stillborn!

Chapter 37 - Live Leeches to Treat an Ear Ache

Chapter 38 - Winfield Illinois Sanatorium

Chapter 39 - Saugatuck

Chapter 40 - Friends and Family

Chapter 41 - Meeting George's Mother

Chapter 42 - Father Cook and David



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