The Making of Marty
by Elsie Talmage Brandley
Chapter 12 – Christmas Time
Doctor and Mrs. Lane with Marty had gone home very soon after Thanksgiving, for they were anxious to get back into their own work as soon as possible. The farewells between Marty and her cousins had been as fervent as any of them could hope.
“Marty, whatever will we do without you?” mourned Claire.
Then Dora added, “It’s as hard to have you go as it was to let Marian leave for California last January.”
Marty’s heart sang with joy. One of her early dreams had come true, for she had made a resolution the day she came to Springdale, and now she could see it had been carried out. She had said, “I’ll be such a good sister that they’ll be sorry to trade back for Marian.”
At first it had been very lonely at home in the big house, without the merry voices of girls and boys. At school Marty felt alone, too, for the girls who had been her best friends seemed so different that she did not enjoy being with them now. She wanted to make friends with some of the other girls who seemed more jolly and sweet, like Claire and Dora and Jessie Sayre, but these girls, remembering the Marty of last year, did not want her in their group.
The very nicest chum Marty had now was her mother, and the two of them had as much fun as any two girls of the same age. Mrs. Lane was so thankful to be well and strong again, and so happy to have Marty with her that she sang and laughed all the day long. She and her little daughter cooked together and played at keeping house until Marty found herself wishing that every day were Saturday so that she would not have to go to school.
As December rolled on toward the holiday time there was mystery in the air. Marty was making a necktie holder for her father and a handkerchief case for her mother, so a great deal of her time had to be spent in her own room alone. She was making doll pincushions for Claire and Dora, so kept one near her all the time she stitched on the other things. Then if she heard her mother’s step in the hall it was easy to slip her work into her basket, and pick up the pincushion. It was the first time she had tried to make Christmas gifts for her parents, and she did want them to be a surprise.
Dr. and Mrs. Lane seemed to have an interesting secret, too, for every once in a while they would look at each other and smile. Marty knew they were planning something for Christmas, and she wondered what it was. One day at dinner Dr. Lane almost gave it away.
“I don’t believe I’m getting enough exercise,” he said. “perhaps I’ll take up horseback riding, after Christmas when I have someone to go along with me.”
At this he smiled at his wife with that twinkle in his eyes which looked so Christmasy, and she said, “Sh-h.”
That gave Marty an idea. They were planning to give her a riding pony for Christmas. She had always wanted one, and it was lovely of them to think of it without even a word from her.
Somehow she felt that she was not as happy over the prospect as she should be. Any little girl ought to be wild with delight at the idea of having a pony for her very own. She sat down one day to think it out, and finally she discovered the reason for her lack of enthusiasm. That evening after her lessons were done, she went down to the library where her parents sat talking in front of the fire. Marty sat down in a chair quietly and waited until there was a silence before she spoke.
“Daddy and Mother, dear,” she began in so serious a tone that they looked at her in alarm. She did not look feverish, so their fears vanished and they listened to her next words carefully.
“I think I have guessed your Christmas present for me,” she went on. “You have planned to give me a riding pony, haven’t you?”
“Daddy, I knew you had given it all away,” reproached Mrs. Lane.
The Doctor did not seem to think it was such a sin, for he smiled broadly.
“You are such a helpful, loving daughter now, Marty, that we are glad to give you what we had to refuse you last year. Would you rather have the cart too, or just a good riding horse which you could keep for years?” he asked.
“Oh, I’d dearly love either one, Daddy. It is the dearest thing in the world for you to think of it, and I’ll always remember and appreciate it. But if you and Mother don’t mind, there is something I would rather have for the money a horse would cost.”
‘If it isn’t more expensive and would give you more pleasure, of course we don’t mind. We did think you’d like a horse more than anything else. But tell us about this other thing you want,” said Mrs. Lane.
“It is quite a long story,” replied Marty. “So prepare for it. While I was in Springdale, something happened that I didn’t tell you of because I felt so dreadfully about it. You remember that little Jessie Sayre of whom I wrote to you? She had a smaller brother and the two of them took care of their invalid mother. One day, through my carelessness, Tommy Sayre got a drink of water that gave him typhoid, and I did Jessie’s work while she took care of him. One day I went over to their home, and it was the most peaceful, happy one I was ever in. And all the time there lay Mrs. Sayre on the couch, not able to move without help. I thought of what it would mean to them to have an operation for her like mother had, so she would be well again, but they can’t afford it.”
She looked at her father before she finished.
“I want you to take her to the hospital and operate on her, for your gift, Daddy. And with the money my pony would cost, I want to pay her hospital expenses. Oh, Daddy, please say we can do it!”
Dr. Lane blew his nose several times and wiped the mist from his glasses before he could trust himself to speak. Marty’s mother had great big tears of sympathy and understanding in her eyes as her look rested lovingly on Marty.
“Of course, Marty, without an examination we are not sure that an operation would prove successful. It might be a long, expensive treatment.”
Marty’s face fell.
“Daddy, I’d give up anything to have her cured. I helped Mrs. Sandstrom all last summer, so next summer we could let Susie go, and I could do most of her work. I’ll wear my old clothes for two years. I’ll do anything – but I do want to help Mrs. Sayre get well.”
“It’s too big a question to decide tonight, dear. Run up to bed, and we will see what can be done.”
Marty kissed them both and ran as she was told. After she left, the doctor turned to Mrs. Lane.
“I think we could manage it, don’t you, Louise? I think well might squeeze the pony in as well, eh?”
“Of course we’ll manage the first part, dear, but I think Marty’s greatest joy will come from her sacrifice. We’ll let the horse go.”
Nothing more was said to Marty, and she hesitated to bring the subject up again. As the days went on, she feared that the plan had proved impossible and her father did not like to tell her.
About a week before Christmas, Dr. Lane did not come home for dinner, and by Marty’s bedtime he was still absent. the girl’s hopes rose high. At last she could conceal her curiosity no longer.
“Mother,” she burst out. “Tell me, has Daddy gone to Springdale?”
“My darling, he ‘phoned from the hospital about an hour ago to say he would be detained very late on a case there.”
Marty’s hopes fell again, and that night she cried herself to sleep.
Christmas morning dawned clear and bright, but somehow the girl did not feel the enthusiasm that usually came with Christmas. She rose about nine o’clock and went down stairs carrying the gifts for her parents. They opened the packages at the table and were surprised and infinitely delighted over them, and the fact that Marty had made them. After breakfast her mother said, “Marty, I have invited one of your friends in for the day, for her mother had to be away from home. So would you mind waiting until she comes to open your presents?”
“That will be fun. Is it Doris you’ve asked to come over?”
“You will see after awhile. Daddy is just ready to go out for a little trip. Wouldn’t you like to drive with him?” Mrs. Lane went on.
“Yes, I’ll go. If the girl comes while I’m gone, tell her I’ll be back soon.”
Dr. Lane said very little as he drove the warm closed car along the slippery streets. In a very short time they approached the railroad station, and Dr. Lane stopped the car and held the door open for Marty to step out. Quite mystified she followed him as he went to scan the time-table.
“It’s on time,” he said with satisfaction, and they passed out to the tracks just as a big engine puffed and shrieked its way into the station.
“Watch carefully for anyone you know,” her father advised Marty, just as she spied a familiar figure stepping from the train. She was off in a second and throwing her arms about a little girl in a shabby brown coat.
“Jessie Sayre! Are you the surprise Mother invited? And Tommy, too!” she cried as she discovered the boy behind his sister.
Dr. Lane came forward smiling.
“How are you, my dear? And Tommy looks inches taller than when I saw him last!”
Marty was greatly puzzled. Where had her father seen Jessie before? How did he know Tommy?
Jessie began to speak. “Doctor Lane, how did –?”
He put a finger on her lips with a smile.
“Not a word. It’s a surprise for Marty,” he whispered, and although his daughter did not catch the words she saw the gesture and her curiosity increased.
They all got into the car and started off, but not toward home. It was in another direction they went, and as the big hospital came in sight, Marty’s breath came in gasps. Still she would not voice the question in her throat, for she was afraid she might be wrong.
Getting out of the car again they went up the steps and through the great glass doors. Everything was clean and white and quiet, and Jessie’s face was white, too. Tommy was very curious and gazed fascinatedly at the people going to and fro.
The elevator took them for a ride upwards, and a moment after getting off, they found themselves being ushered into a little room that smelled of medicine and flowers. There was someone lying on the high white bed, and at sight of the visitors her face shone until its radiance filled the whole room.
“Jessie,” she cried. ‘Oh, Jessie, I’m going to get well!”
Jessie put her head on the pillow beside her mother and for a few moments sobbed out her love and thankfulness. Marty found herself crying, too, but she turned to her father and asked through her tears, “How did it all happen, and when?”
“The operation was performed about a week ago – that night I was so late getting home. I had been to Springdale the day before to bring the patient up here. We found that it was not a dangerous operation, and Mother and I both thought it would be a nicer Christmas present if the worst was over,” he explained.
“It’s the best gift in all the world, and I’m the happiest girl,” Marty assured him. “And you should be the happiest of all, for you are doing the giving, Daddy, and that is the most blessed thing, you know.”
They did not stay very long, for Mrs. Sayre was still weak, but she was joyful to know that her children were near her.
“Mrs. Lane said we are to stay with Marty until you are strong enough to go home,” said Tommy. “We’ll come to see you every day.”
It was a glad little group that made its way into the Lane house a few minutes later. Mrs. Lane opened the door of her own bright room and took the children into a real Christmas bower. There was a tree all covered with ornaments and candy, and holly wreaths hung in every window. There were presents for each of them, and three stockings full to the brim of fruit, nuts and candy. it was such a Christmas as none of them had ever known before. The presents seemed very lovely, but lovelier still was the glorious spirit of light and gladness that was everywhere.
Later there was a good dinner, and the Doctor said that Mrs. Sayre was having one just as good.
The day was so full of surprises and excitement that they were all ready to go to bed early. They sat together before going upstairs, to listen to Dr. Lane read about the shepherds and the wise men and the angels on that first Christmas. He read of the bright star shining to point the way to the manger where the tiny Christ-child lay, and as they listened, the old story seemed to take on new meaning and beauty.
Then in the happy evening of a joyous day, Marty went to bed and sweet slumber, for she had discovered the true spirit of Christmas tide.