Marjorie Dean, Marvelous Manager
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“You and I are going to have one of our old-fashioned heart to heart talks this afternoon,” greeted Miss Susanna as she folded Marjorie in her arms and kissed her on the forehead and both cheeks. “We’re going to have a light tea now and dinner at seven. Tea will be in the study. I’m going to ask you to help me this afternoon go over some of Uncle Brooke’s papers. I’d like to arrange them in chronological order. A nice sort of hostess I am, to invite you here to dine and then make you work for your dinner,” chuckled the old lady.
“You know there is nothing I’d rather do. You are a fraud.” Marjorie swooped down on her, arms flying, mouth open, fingers curved into claws. It was her favorite mode of onslaught upon her general when at home. Miss Susanna squealed, dodged and giggled as the avenging bogie bore down upon her. A merry tussle ensued in which Miss Susanna held her own.
It was not until they had settled down at the study table with the tea spread out upon it that they behaved with anything but hilarity.
“I never treated you to such a tussle before.” Marjorie declared blithely as she reached for the cup of tea Miss Susanna held out to her. “Those are General’s and my favorite tactics at home. Oh, wait until we get you there. We’ll have some grand family frolics at Castle Dean.”
“I am looking forward to them with all my heart. This will be the first Christmas I have spent away from the Arms since he died. I am sure he would wish me to go with you.” Miss Hamilton regarded Marjorie with deep solemnity. “Now tell me about the girls. What have you all been busy doing?” She switched the subject from herself with characteristic abruptness.
During the light meal Marjorie kept strictly to the subject of her friends’ and her doings on the campus. Miss Susanna listened to the lively recital with apparent pleasure. Now and then Marjorie would catch the old lady’s eyes resting upon her with an expression of brooding tenderness which she had never before seen in them.
When Miss Susanna had rung for Jonas to come for the tea service she straightened in her chair with a nervous kind of energy that Marjorie had learned to construe as a sign that the last of the Hamilton’s was about to make an important disclosure. It was an entirely different attitude from that which she invariably adopted in giving a surprise. Without a word she rose, and, walking to one end of the study turned the key in a tall narrow mahogany cabinet which Marjorie had not seen before in the study.
“These are the most precious things in the world to me, Marjorie,” Miss Susanna said as she turned a brass key that stood in the lock. “Come here, child. Hold out your arms.” She swung open the door of the cabinet, revealing shelf upon shelf of papers. They were, for the most part, letters without envelopes, and documents. “This is his story, in his own hand,” she continued musingly. She carefully lifted the pile of papers from the top shelf and placed it upon Marjorie’s arms.The amazed lieutenant’s arms were steady, but her heart was thumping wildly.
“Miss Susanna,” she managed to gasp, “truly – are you going to allow me to look at them?”
“Truly, I am.” There was a tiny catch in Miss Susanna’s crisp voice. “No one has touched them since I partially collated them and put them here years ago. Bring them over to the table and lay them upon it. I have something to say to you, Marjorie Dean. I’ve been wondering for a week just how I’d like to say it to you. Well, the simplest way is best. I’ve decided to give his story to the world. I’ve selected my biographer. I can only hope that the one I wish to write the biography will not be too modest to accept my offer. The person I have in mind will probably declare that – ”
“If you feel you have chosen the right person, then you must have,” Marjorie interrupted. “Oh, pardon me, Miss Susanna. I couldn’t wait to say what I felt. You will have to make the one you have chosen see matters as you do.” Marjorie’s mind was already made up. Since Miss Susanna had actually decided to permit Brooke Hamilton’s biography to be written she must be encouraged and supported in her decision. There must be no refusal of any sort to discourage her.
“Yes, I am sure I have chosen the right person.” Again Marjorie caught the divinely tender look in her friend’s eyes. “You have always seen matters about him much as I have, Marvelous Manager. That is the reason I have chosen you to give a faithful presentation of him to the world.”
“Miss Su-u-san-na. I – ” With a little inarticulate murmur Marjorie’s curly head went down on the table, her face hidden in the curve of her arm. She did not raise it when she felt a hand rest lightly upon her curls. Silence reigned in the study, a calm, stately silence over which Brooke Hamilton himself seemed to preside. The impression of him was borne to the two who had united to keep his memory green. Afterward Miss Susanna and Marjorie both happily admitted to having had the same impression of his immediate presence in the study.
Presently, when the great emotional strain upon both women had lessened, they commenced an eager discussion of plans concerning the best way of writing Brooke Hamilton’s biography.
“You fell into your own trap, young lady. You can’t back out,” Miss Susanna told Marjorie with apparent relish.
“I don’t wish to back out; never; never,” was the fervent assertion. “It’s the greatest good fortune that has ever happened to me. I should like to drop chemistry, French, the dormitory, welfare – ” Marjorie lightly waved away her enumeration of duties. “But I can’t.”
“I wish you and Jerry would come and live at the Arms while you are in process of writing the biography. Perhaps you may be able to manage it, in the spring. You and I are to go to President Matthews with the news tomorrow. I have already written him that we would call at his Hamilton Hall office tomorrow afternoon at two o’clock. I have a curiosity to walk across the campus. When we go to Castle Dean for Christmas we will perfect all our plans. Shall we tell our girls now or wait until after the holidays?”
“Oh, please let us tell them soon,” pleaded Marjorie. “It will be the most wonderful Christmas present for the old Travelers. ‘Peace on earth; good will toward men.’” Marjorie hummed under her breath. Her eyes luminous, she rose, went over to Miss Susanna. Standing behind her chair she dropped her arms over the old lady’s shoulders. It was the special caress she loved to give her captain.
“Yes, ‘Peace on earth; good will toward men,’” Miss Susanna repeated, her small face bright with love. “And the reason I can say it is because I had the supreme good fortune to fall into the hands of Marvelous Manager.”
How Marjorie spent the remainder of her college post graduate year between Hamilton College and Hamilton Arms will be found in: “Marjorie Dean at Hamilton Arms.”
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