Drusilla with a Million
Drusilla had one neighbor whom, to use her own words, she "couldn't abide."
Miss Sarah Lee lived across the road from her, in a small house left her by her
father. This old man had also left her money enough to live in a modest way, and
an unkind Providence had left her high and dry on the matrimonial shores, and
she was embittered. She had been born and reared in Brookvale and had seen
the other girls married and settled in their homes, with their children growing up
around them. She had tried for years to get a husband, but finally, at the age of
thirty-eight, had given up the fight; and instead of sharing in the happiness of her
lifelong neighbors, she had drifted into being the neighborhood gossip, picking
flaws in everything and searching with microscopic eye to find the failures in the
lives of those around her, trying to find satisfaction in her unmarried state by
seeing only the darker side of the matrimonial adventures around her. If a man
came home late after dining well but not wisely with his companions, be sure
Sarah Lee heard of it. She would take her sewing and go to some neighbor and
say in her softly purring voice, "Isn't it too bad that Mr. Smith neglects his wife so
dreadfully, and it is shocking the way he drinks. Now the other night, etc., etc.,"
until her garrulous tongue would make a great crime of perhaps only a small
indiscretion. Drusilla had been a joy to her, as she was new in the neighborhood,
and she regaled her with all the gossip, much to Drusilla's disgust and
discomfiture; but she was too kindly to be rude to the bitter-tongued woman, who
was the only one of her neighbors who "ran in" or who brought their sewing and
sat down for a "real visit."
One morning Drusilla was sitting in the sun parlor, looking at a great box of baby
clothing that had been sent her from the city, when Miss Lee came in. She had
her tatting with her and Drusilla saw that she was in for a visitation. She tried to
interest her guest in the wonders of the baby frocks, but Miss Lee only shook her
head and would not notice them.
"I don't care for children nor their clothing, Miss Doane, and I can never see how
you care to burden yourself with all those waifs at your time of life. Now I, if I had
your money, would enjoy myself."
"But I am enjoying myself," said Drusilla. "Why I take more comfort in them
babies than I've ever had in all my seventy years."
"But they are such a care, such a bother."
"Bother, my aunt!" said Drusilla emphatically. "They ain't no bother. They give me
something to think about. Now, look at these clothes. I been all mornin' lookin' at
'em and sortin' 'em out. Look at that petticoat. See how soft and warm it is. I wish
I'd made it myself. I can sit here and imagine how some mother'd feel makin' a
petticoat like that fer her baby. I'm goin' to buy a lot of cloth and git some patterns
and let the mothers make 'em themselves. When it's a little warmer they can set
under the trees and sew while the babies is playin' around them."
"But the mothers you have here--will--do you think that class--those kind of
mothers will care to sew?"
Drusilla flushed and an angry gleam came into her kindly eyes.