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Leaf VII. Heart Agonies.
 I have suffered this day until I want to lay my face down against the of His garment and wait in the dust for Him to pick me up. I shall never be able to do it myself, and how He's going to do it I can't see, but He will.  
That dinner-party last night was bad enough, but to-day's been worse. I didn't sleep until long after daylight and then Jane came in before eight o'clock with a letter for me that looked like a state document. I felt in my trembly bones that it was some sort of summons affair from Judge ; and it was. I looked into the first paragraph and then that I had better get up and dress and have a cup of coffee and a single egg before I tried to read it.
Incidental to my bath and , I weighed and found that I had lost all four of those last surplus pounds and two more in three days. Those two extra pounds might be to prove that I was in love, but exactly with whom I was unprepared to say. I didn't even enjoy the thinness, but took a kind of already married look in my glass and tried to slip the egg past my bored lips and get myself to chew it down. It was work; and then I took up the judge's letter, which also was work and more of it.
He started at the beginning of everything, that is at the beginning of the girl, and I cried over the pages of her as if she had been my own sister. At the tenth page we buried her and took up Alfred, and I must say I saw a new Alfred in the judge's bouquet-strewn of him, but I didn't want him as bad as I had the day before, when I read his own new and old letters, and cried over his old photographs. I suppose that was the result of some of what the judge manages the juries with. He'd be apt to use it on a woman, and she wouldn't find out about it until it was too late to be anything but mad. Still when he began on me at page sixteen I felt a little better, though I didn't know myself any better than I did Alfred when I got to page twenty.
What I am, is just a poor foolish woman, who has a lot more heart than she can manage with the amount of brains she got with it at birth. I'm not any star in a rose-coloured sky, and I don't want to inspire anybody; it's too heavy an . I want to be a healthy, happy woman and a wife to a man who can inspire himself and manage me. I want to marry a thin man, and when I get to be thirty I want my husband to want me to be as large as Aunt Bettie, but not let me. An inspiration couldn't be fat, and I'm always in danger from hot cakes and chicken .
However, if I should undertake to be all the things Judge Wade said in that letter he wanted me to be to him, I should soon be skin and bones from mental and physical exercise. Still, he does live in Hillsboro, and I won't let myself know how my heart aches at the thought of leaving my home—and other things. It's up in my throat, and I seem always to be swallowing it, the last few days.
All the men who write me letters seem to get themselves wound up into a sky rocket and then let themselves explode in the last paragraph, and it always upsets my nerves. I was just about to begin to cry again over the last words of the judge, when the only bright spot in the day so far suddenly happened. Pet Buford ran in with the pinkest cheeks and the brightest eyes I had seen since I looked in the mirror the night of the dance. She was in an awful hurry.
"Molly dear," she said with her words falling over themselves, "Tom says you would give us some of your dinner left-overs to take for lunch in the car, for we are going to take a run down to Hedgeland to see some fine cattle he has heard will be in the market there. I don't want to ask mother, in case she won't let me go; and his mother, if he asked her, will begin to talk about us. Tom said I was to come to you, and you would understand and arrange it all quickly. He sent his love and all sorts of other messages. Isn't he fond of a joke?" And we kissed and laughed and packed a basket, and kissed and laughed again for good-bye. I felt amused and happy for a few minutes—and also . It's a very good thing for a woman's to find out how many of her lovers are just make-believes. I may have needed Tom's deflection.
Anyway, I don't know when I ever was so glad to see anybody as I was when Mrs. Johnson came in the front door. A woman who has proved to her own satisfaction that marriage is a failure is at times a great to other women. I needed a tonic badly this morning and I got it.
"Well, from all my long experience, Molly," she said as she seated herself and began to hem a tea-cloth with long steady stabs, "husbands are just like sticks of candy in different jars. They may look a little different, but they all taste alike, and you soon get tired of them. In two months you won't know the difference in being married to Alfred Bennett and Mr. Carter, and you'll have to go on living with him maybe fifty years. Luck doesn't strike twice in the same place, and you can't count on losing two husbands. Alfred's father was Mr. Johnson's first cousin and had more crotchets and worse. He had silent spells that lasted a week, and altogether gave his family a bad time of it. Alfred looks very much like him."
"Mrs. Johnson," I said after a minute's silence, while I had decided whether or not I had better tell her all about it. If a woman's in love with her husband you can't trust her to keep a secret, but I decided to try Mrs. Johnson. "I really am not engaged exactly to Alfred Bennett, though I suppose he thinks so by now if he has got the answer to that telegram. But—but something has made me—made me think about Judge Wade—that is he—what do you think of him, Mrs. Johnson?" I concluded in the most pitifully tone of voice.
"All alike, Molly; all as much alike as peas in a pod; all except John Moore, who's the only exception in all the male tribe I ever met! His marrying once was just accidental and must be forgiven him. She fell in love with him while he was attending her when she had typhoid, when his back was turned as it were, and it was simple kindness in him that made him marry her when he found out how it was with the poor thing. There's not a woman in this town who could marry that wouldn't marry him at the drop of his hat—but, thank goodness, that hat will never drop, and I'll have one sensible man to comfort and doctor me down into my old age. Now, just look at that! Mr. Johnson's come home here in the middle of the morning, and I'll have to get that old paper I hunted out of his desk for him last night. I wonder how he came to forget it!"
It's funny how Mrs. Johnson always knows what Mr. Johnson wants before he knows himself and gets it before he asks for it!
As she went out of the gate the postman came in, and at the sight of another letter my heart slunk off into my , and my brain seemed about to back up in a corner and refuse to work. In a flash it came to me that men oughtn't to write letters to women very much—they really don't plough deep enough, they just irritate the top soil. I took this missive from Alfred, counted all the fifteen pages, put it out of sight under a book, looked out of the window and saw Mr. Johnson shooed off down the street by Mrs. Johnson; saw the doctor's car go chugging hurriedly in the garage, and then my spirit turned itself to the wall and refused to be comforted. I tried my best, but failed to respond to my own with myself, and tears were slowly in a cloud of gloom when a blue gingham, romper-clad sunbeam burst into the room.
"Git your night-gown and your tooth-bresh quick, Molly, if you want to pack 'em in my trunk!" he exclaimed with his eyes dancing and a curl straight up on the top of his head, as it has a habit of doing when he is most excited. "You can't take nothing but them 'cause I'm going to put in a rope to tie the whale with when I ketch him, and it'll take up all the rest of the room. Git 'em quick!"
"Yes, lover, I'll get them for you, but tell Molly where it is you are going to sail off with her in that trunk of yours?" I asked, dropping into the game as I have always done with him, no matter what game of my own pressed when he called.
"On the ocean where the boats go 'cross and run right over a whale. Don't you remember you showed me them pictures of whales in a book, Molly? Father says they comes right up by the ship and you can hear 'em shoot water and maybe a , too. Which do you want to ketch' most, Molly, a iceberg or a whale?" His eager eyes demanded instant decision on my part of the nature of capture I preferred. My mind quickly to those two and intense epistles I had got within the hour, and I lay back in my chair and laughed until I felt almost merry.
"The iceberg, Billy, every time," I said at last. I just can't manage whales, especially if they are , which word means intense. I like , or I think I should if I could catch one."
"I don't believe you could, Molly, but maybe father will let you put a rope and a long hook in his trunk to try with, if your clothes go into mine. His is a heap the biggest anyway, and Nurse Tilly said he ought to put my things in his, but I cried, and then he went upstairs and got out that little one for me. Come and see 'em."
"What do you mean, Billy?" I asked, while a sudd............
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