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Cymric Strain - Book 2
By Una Howell (USA - circa 1893)
Chapter 39 - George's Mother
Copyright Scott Dunbar 2010
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My new family consisted of Father and Mother Cook and David, George’s younger brother, countless nieces of Uncle Ezra Cook extraction, the Bookiuses and their two adopted. The first time I had met George’s mother was when, early in our acquaintance, I had gone to Elgin to play his accompaniment at the evening concert.
He had told me very little about his family at that point. I knew that his father was a publisher of religious papers, Sunday School quarterlies, and the like. The very thought gave me a shudder. Shudder number two was that they had family prayers. I knew also that they lived in a large house with an elevator inside. Not many weeks before, his mother, in boarding the elevator, had released the catch, fallen, and broken her shoulder. I was naturally sympathetic and I felt very sorry indeed for her misfortune up to the moment of our meeting.
She was sitting on the lawn when the cab carrying George and me arrived and disgorged us. The day was warm – spring-like – as we walked down the terrace to meet her. She was seated in a rustic rocker, her dress covered with a big kitchen apron, talking animatedly to a young girl (a niece). In her lap was a pan of strawberries. She was hulling them. This was far from the setup I had expected and, as I looked at her, words of sympathy seemed utterly out of place.
Now, I’ve no idea what passed between us in conversation that day. I was most aware of my appraisal of her, and I knew that she and I would have little in common. I was more sure of it the following week when George told us his mother thought “The least (I) could have done was to have offered to help her stem strawberries. Her nieces always did.”
In plain English, she did not like me, as on other occasions when I played for George in her presence, I became increasing convinced of her antagonism toward me.
[The next typewritten page follows. It seems to repeat the first meeting experience in a new vein.]
Below us in the hollow, seated in a hickory lawn chair piled high with colored pillows, sat a spreading woman, dark skinned, poo-looking. Her right arm was suspended in a support. On her aproned lap she held a huge bowl of un-hulled strawberries which she picked at with one disabled and one perfectly good hand. I was already aware that several months before she had suffered an accident by unwittingly stepping on the controlling lever of the family elevator, which had immediately shot up, leaving her dangling from the floor with a broken shoulder. Her weight had increased with inactivity, obviously, and now her clothing had been cut to fit her needs. Yet she was not unlovely as she greeted us sitting down.
With much effort the servants had released her and now, months later, inactivity had increased her poundage. In spite of her handicaps, she was still personable as she greeted us from her chair.
George had told me a good deal about his mother. She had just taken him to Europe in order to break up his affair with a girl in an Indiana (?) small college. Now, in order not to risk losing him again, she had placed him in the care of a biblical student many years his senior.
His guardian held little or no interest, for we girls were inclined to make sport of Mama’s boy and each of us offered to give him back to his mother.
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 - 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 Page Removed!
Chapter 28 - The Marriage
Chapter 29 - Plans for a New Marriage
Chapter 30 - Honeymoon
Chapter 31 - A New Home
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 - Leave Leeches to Treat an Ear Ache
Chapter 38 - Winfield Illinois Sanatorium
Chapter 39 - George's Mother