From the Children’s Friend, 1924:
The Making of Marty
by Elsie Talmage Brandley
Chapter 1 – Marty’s Birthday
Marty Lane opened her eyes slowly. She had just finished having a beautiful dream and there was a happy warmth in her heart. She had dreamed that her year-old wish had been fulfilled and at last the little wicker pony-cart and the black Shetland pony were hers; Daddy had given them to her for a birthday present.
At this point she broke away from the recollection of her dream and jumped up quickly to peek out of her bedroom window. What if the dream were to come true? Today was Marty’s eleventh birthday and she did want the pony-cart and dear little pony for her very own.
“Wouldn’t it be lovely if Daddy should have the gift tied to the maple tree on the lawn outside?”
She asked the question half aloud although there was not a soul in the dainty pink room but herself.
But she saw no sign of pony or cart tied to the maple tree. That was somewhat disappointing, but the smile lingered on her face. It might be that the man from the store would have to send the cart up today, and the boy who owned the pony would bring it over later. Marty dressed hurriedly, for she wanted to see her father before he left for the office, and extract from him a final promise concerning the pony and cart. Marty knew that when she got him to promise anything he always kept his word, and as a rule she found little difficulty in wheedling him into giving her what she wanted.
Glancing at the clock she saw that it was quarter-past eight; no time to spare, for Daddy always left at half-past eight and the matter needed at least fifteen minutes’ consideration. With a final brush-stroke of her curly head she turned and left the room; and the room gave a sigh of disgust, for its early, neat freshness had been spoiled by a nightgown, a hairbrush, a pair of bedroom slippers and a kimona being scattered about in disorderly confusion. The dresser drawer was half-way out and a handkerchief was partly out of it. Marty hated to pick things up and what she hated to do was always left for somebody else.
The girl ran excitedly into the dining-room. Sure enough Daddy was still at breakfast, and seemed to be in no particular hurry. That was very lucky, and Marty rushed over to give him a violent hug and a quick kiss.
“Well, well,” said Doctor Lane in the deep, kind voice that everyone loved. “How is my little daughter this morning? As well and happy as she looks, I hope.”
Marty slipped into her chair and began to eat an orange.
“I’m fine, thank you. Daddy, I’m glad I’m eleven years old.”
Her father looked at her over his glasses.
“Bless my soul!” he said in real surprise. “Here we’ve been so busy planning a birthday surprise for the little girl that we almost forgot which day it was.”
“Daddy, is it the pony and cart?’ Marty was truly ecstatic. She could hardly breathe until she heard her father’s answer.
“The pony and cart?” Why, no, my dear little girl. A pony and cart is far too expensive a present for a child your age. I have hoped for a month past that you would come to me and say, ‘Daddy, let’s share my birthday gifts with some of the poor sick children you see at the hospital.’ But you said no such thing to me, so I have not been very anxious to do so much for you.”
Marty was pouting horribly, and she felt sure that tears were very near. Her father, noting her cloudy face, folded his newspaper and settled down for what Marty knew was a serious talk. But even Marty little guessed how serious it would be, and how far-reaching the effect of that morning’s plans and arrangements.
He began by calling her “Martha” and she knew that meant something dreadful. She was called “Martha” only upon occasions of utmost gravity.
“Martha, your Mother and I have been worrying considerably about you of late. Before your Mother’s accident, we noticed your failings less, but in the six months since she was hurt, we have had many opportunities to observe and, I might add, grieve over your selfishness and lack of consideration for others. You have bene sullen when anything has been denied you; you have been envious when Mother has had little dainty morsels sent to her by friends; you have been unwilling to run errands for your poor Mother who has not taken a step for six months. Now I may as well explain your birthday surprise to you.”
He paused to take a long drink of water before continuing.
“As you know, your Mother had an operation a month ago, which was a decided success. However, she is still weak and needs a change. I have been working hard myself and need rest, so we expect to leave for California about the end of this week.”
Marty’s spirits rose like a sky-rocket. California was much better than a pony cart, anyway.
“Goody!” she cried, forgetting her pout. “May I ask Doris to go too, for a playmate?”
Doctor Lane shook, his head regretfully.
“Marty, your selfishness amazes me! Instead of thinking what you might do to make the trip more easy and pleasant for Mother, you instantly start to plan for yourself.”
“But, Daddy, I’ll die of lonesomeness down there with just Mother and you. I can’t have any fun alone.” The pout was back again.
MY dear, you haven’t heard the surprise yet. We mentioned California some time ago and you assured us then that you could not possibly exist for a year so far away from Doris Grayley. Consequently, we have made plans which will not permit of your being lonely. Instead of going to California to die, you are going to Springdale to spend a year with your Aunt Nanna and her family. You won’t be lonely there, for there will be five children to keep you company.”
“Six,” Marty interrupted sulkily.
“No, only five. Your cousin Marian will go to California with us. She will not find it unbearably lonely, and moreover she has the happy faculty of cheering others up. So Mother felt that she would enjoy having her go with us, and Aunt Nanna was delighted to trade Marian for Marty, just for a year.”
Marty burst into angry sobs and would have rushed blindly from the room, but her father held her firmly to his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, little daughter. I have never willingly hurt you, but I feel that this is the best way of doing. I want you to live a year of healthy, happy association with the family of brothers and sisters out there, and enjoy it. If you had been given some of your own matters would doubtless have been different. However, it seemed that it was not to be. You have had a lonesome life, and both Mother and I feel sure that you will enjoy the girls and boys at Aunt Nanna’s home far more than you would the ocean and beaches, alone. Our plan is quite complete, and you will leave this afternoon for Springdale. Suzie has been mending and fixing your clothing, so if you will get your own little personal belongings together, everything will be in readiness when I come for you at three o’clock.”
He kissed the sullen child on the forehead and arose to leave. At the door he half-expectantly paused, hoping for a friendly sign from his daughter. None was forthcoming, however, and with a breath deep enough to sound like a sigh, he was gone.
Marty sat down in rebellious anger.
“It’s the meanest thing I’ve ever heard of in my whole life,” she stormed to herself. “to leave me with Aunt Nanna and a whole houseful of cousins, while they go to California and have a glorious time! It’s mean, and they don’t care a snap for me, or they couldn’t do it!”
Here self-pity overcame what had been real hunger and leaving her poached egg and golden toast untouched, Marty went into the hallo and started upstairs. A sweet voice calling from the room at the foot of the stairs caused her to pause and listen. Again the call came.
“Marty. Marty, dear!”
“Come in a moment, please.”
Marty retraced her steps and entered the room of her Mother. It was a charming room with east and south windows that kept it sunny all morning. There were curtains of bright flowered cretonne and two big easy chairs with covers of the same material. There were books and magazines in comfortable profusion, and a piano which Mrs. Lane played sometimes. Everything possible had been done to make attractive the room in which Marty’s Mother had stayed since her accident, and usually the little girl loved to sit for an hour amidst its bright cheerfulness.
Just now she felt that every place in the house was hateful and her Mother, lying on her couch near the window, felt the spirit of resentment as soon as Marty entered the door. The girl did not even wish her Mother “good morning,” but sat down in the chair half way across the room from her.
“Did you want me?” she asked coldly.
“Yes, dear. I wanted to tell you that all your summer dresses were put into my old cedar chest in the store-room. Have Suzie get them and pack them in your trunk. You’ll need them soon, for although it is January now, the summer will be here sooner than you think. You had so many dresses last summer that you won’t need any new ones in a small town like Springdale, unless perhaps we find one in California which looks as though it wants to belong to a little girl named Marty. Then, of course, I couldn’t resist sending it to her.”
Marty’s mouth had gradually been losing its sullen expression. There were several things she wanted to ask about her trip.
“Will I go to school in that tiny little schoolhouse where they have three grades in each room?”
“Yes, and you’ll be in the same class as Claire and Dora. And by the way, Marty, you might pack a box of your story books and wonder books to take with you. Aunt Nanna has always had so many shoes and hats to buy that there has been very little money left for books, and some of her children dearly love to read.”
“I’ll go and gather them together before I forget,” and Marty was off on her errand.
The morning passed by so quickly that it was lunch-time before Marty could believe it. She felt hungry, however, and lost no time in answering the call. She was delighted to find that her Mother had had the meal spread on her own dainty table and Marty was to eat there. The little girl always dreaded the lonely noon meal, but her Father never came home then, and as a rule her Mother had a nap about twelve o’clock and lunch later.
Marty ran into Mrs. Lane’s room, but stopped abruptly at the sight which met her eyes. There on the table stood a great white birthday cake with eleven pink candles each tipped with flame. She had felt so disappointed when her Father had told her that the pony and cart were not to be hers that the idea of any other birthday surprise had not entered her head. The picture before her was so pleasing and unexpected that she found tears burning in her eyes. She brushed them away and ran to her mother with an impulsive hug.
“Oh, Mother!” she cried. “it’s such fun to be surprised. I didn’t dream you were fixing anything for my birthday.”
They ate the dainty lunch with keen enjoyment, and chatted excitedly about the things yet to be done. After they had finished, Marty suggested that she wrap the cake and take it to Springdale.
“It’s big enough to give every one of them a treat, and I’d like to surprise them all as you surprised me.”
“That’s a nice thought, Marty. I like to see you considering others in your plans, dear. And I have another little birthday surprise for you – one* that my mother gave me on my eleventh birthday, and her mother had it given to her when she was eleven. You are the fourth to own it and I hope it will carry down to you the sweet spirit of those first two little girls who wore it.”
She opened a new velvet box and took out a gold chain with a quaint old-fashioned locket hanging to it. quite easily it flipped open, and inside was a plain gold disc with writing carved on the surface.
Marty leaned forward and read aloud: “I wish to love every one.”
The girl smiled, for it was such an old-fashioned little motto, or seemed so to her. Suddenly she saw a picture in her mind of the other little girls who had read the inscription on their eleventh birthdays, and somehow she could not imagine them laughing at the little motto. They had probably felt very serious, and taken the thought expressed in the locket as a solemn trust. Marty felt a little bit ashamed. She was being taken into the little circle of girls who had worn the locket, and instead of feeling the honor of it, she was smiling because it was old-fashioned. Perhaps the spirits of the other little girls were disappointed and hurt. Quickly a resolution formed itself in Marty’s brain, and to make it more binding she confided it to her mother.
“Mother, for years I’ve expected people to love me and give me everything I wanted, but somehow I haven’t given anybody very much. So for a year at least, I’m going to try to live up to this little motto, and see how it works. I’ll wear the necklace every day as a reminder, and every day I’ll try to remember to love everyone.”
Just then there was a stir in the hallway. The man had come for Marty’s trunk, and very soon afterwards her father came to take her to the train. As Marty threw her arms about her mother’s neck for a farewell kiss, Mrs. Lane whispered in her ear:
“You’ve made me very happy, Marty. I know you won’t forget.”
And Marty felt a glow in her heart that she had never known before.
“No, Mother, I won’t forget,” she promised.
Then she was gone, but halfway down the street she turned and saw her mother at the large window in her wheel-chair, waiting to wave at the little daughter, and throw her a last kiss.