"It's a poor business looking at the sun with a cloudy face."
The long, hot summer days that followed were full of trials for Lovey Mary.
Day after day the great unwinking sun glared savagely down upon the Cabbage
Patch, upon the stagnant pond, upon the gleaming rails, upon the puffing trains
that pounded by hour after hour. Each morning found Lovey Mary trudging away to
the factory, where she stood all day counting and sorting and packing tiles. At
night she climbed wearily to her little room under the roof, and tried to sleep
with a wet cloth over her face to keep her from smelling the stifling car smoke.
But it was not the heat and discomfort alone that made her cheeks thin and
her eyes sad and listless: it was the burden on her conscience, which seemed to
be growing heavier all the time. One morning Mrs. Wiggs took her to task for her
gloomy countenance. They met at the pump, and, while the former's bucket was
being filled, Lovey Mary leaned against a lamp-post and waited in a dejected
"What's the matter with you?" asked Mrs. Wiggs. "What you lookin' so wilted
Lovey Mary dug her shoe into the ground and said nothing. Many a time had she
been tempted to pour forth her story to this friendly mentor, but the fear of
discovery and her hatred of Kate deterred her.
Mrs. Wiggs eyed her keenly. "Pesterin' about somethin'?" she asked.
"Yes, 'm," said Lovey Mary, in a low tone.
"Somethin' that's already did?"
"Yes, 'm" — still lower.
"Did you think you was actin' fer the best?"
The girl lifted a pair of honest gray eyes. "Yes, ma'am, I did."
"I bet you did!" said Mrs. Wiggs, heartily. "You ain't got a deceivin' bone
in yer body. Now what you want to do is to brace up yer sperrits. The
decidin'-time was the time fer worryin'. You've did what you thought was best;
now you want to stop thinkin' 'bout it. You don't want to go round turnin'
folks' thoughts sour jes to look at you. Most girls that had white teeth like
you would be smilin' to show 'em, if fer nothin' else."
"I wisht I was like you," said Lovey Mary.
"Don't take it out in wishin'. If you want to be cheerful, jes set yer mind
on it an' do it. Can't none of us help what traits we start out in life with,
but we kin help what we end up with. When things first got to goin' wrong with
me, I says: 'O Lord, whatever comes, keep me from gittin' sour!' It wasn't fer
my own sake I ast it, — some people 'pears to enjoy bein' low-sperrited, — it
was fer the childern an' Mr. Wiggs. Since then I've made it a practice to put
all my worries down in the bottom of my heart, then set on the lid an' smile."
"But you think ever'body's nice and good," complained Lovey Mary. "You never
see all the meanness I do."
"Don't I? I been watchin' old man Rothchild fer goin' on eleven year', tryin'
to see some good in him, an' I never found it till the other day when I seen him
puttin' a splint on Cusmoodle's broken leg. He's the savagest man I know, yit he
keered fer that duck as tender as a woman. But it ain't jes seein' the good in
folks an' sayin' nice things when you're feelin' good. The way to git cheerful
is to smile when you feel bad, to think about somebody else's headache when yer
own is 'most bustin', to keep on believin' the sun is a-shinin' when the clouds
is thick enough to cut. Nothin' helps you to it like thinkin' more 'bout other
folks than about yerself."
"I think 'bout Tommy first," said Lovey Mary.
"Yes, you certainly do yer part by him. If my childern wore stockin's an' got
as many holes in 'em as he does, I'd work buttonholes in 'em at the start fer
the toes to come through. But even Tommy wants somethin' besides darns. Why
don't you let him go barefoot on Sundays, too, an' take the time you been
mendin' fer him to play with him? I want to see them pretty smiles come back in
yer face ag'in."
In a subsequent conversation with Miss Hazy, Mrs. Wiggs took a more serious
view of Lovey Mary's depression.
"She jes makes me wanter cry, she's so subdued-like. I never see anybody
change so in my life. It 'u'd jes be a relief to hear her sass some of us like
she uster. She told me she never had nobody make over her like we all did, an'
it sorter made her 'shamed. Lawsee! if kindness is goin' to kill her, I think
we'd better fuss at her some."
"'Pears to me like she's got nervous sensations," said Miss Hazy; "she jumps
up in her sleep, an' talks 'bout folks an' things I never heared tell of."
"That's exactly what ails her," agreed Mrs. Wiggs: "it's nerves, Miss Hazy.
To my way of thinkin', nerves is worser than tumors an' cancers. Look at old
Mrs. Schultz. She's got the dropsy so bad you can't tell whether she's settin'
down or standin' up, yet she ain't got a nerve in her body, an' has 'most as
good a time as other folks. We can't let Lovey Mary go on with these here
nerves; no tellin' where they'll land her at. If it was jes springtime, I'd give
her sulphur an' molasses an' jes a leetle cream of tartar; that, used along with
egg-shell tea, is the outbeatenest tonic I ever seen. But I never would run
ag'in' the seasons. Seems to me I've heared yallerroot spoke of fer killin'
"I don't 'spect we could git no yallerroot round here."
"What's the matter with Miss Viny? I bet it grows in her garden thick as
hairs on a dog's back. Let's send Lovey Mary out there to git some, an' we'll
jes repeat the dose on her till it takes some hold."
"I ain't puttin' much stock in Miss Viny," demurred Miss Hazy. "I've heared
she was a novelist reader, an' she ain't even a church-member."
"An' do you set up to jedge her?" asked Mrs. Wiggs, in fine scorn. "Miss
Viny's got more sense in her little finger than me an' you has got in our whole
heads. She can doctor better with them yarbs of hers than any physicianner I
know. As to her not bein' a member, she lives right an' helps other folks, an'
that's more than lots of members does. Besides," she added conclusively, "Mr.
Wiggs himself wasn't no church-member."