VI. Mary Stays At The Manse
The manse children took Mary Vance to church with them the next day. At first
Mary objected to the idea.
"Didn't you go to church over-harbour?" asked Una.
"You bet. Mrs. Wiley never troubled church much, but I went every Sunday I
could get off. I was mighty thankful to go to some place where I could sit down for
a spell. But I can't go to church in this old ragged dress."
This difficulty was removed by Faith offering the loan of her second best dress.
"It's faded a little and two of the buttons are off, but I guess it'll do."
"I'll sew the buttons on in a jiffy," said Mary.
"Not on Sunday," said Una, shocked.
"Sure. The better the day the better the deed. You just gimme a needle and
thread and look the other way if you're squeamish."
Faith's school boots, and an old black velvet cap that had once been Cecilia
Meredith's, completed Mary's costume, and to church she went. Her behaviour
was quite conventional, and though some wondered who the shabby little girl
with the manse children was she did not attract much attention. She listened to
the sermon with outward decorum and joined lustily in the singing. She had, it
appeared, a clear, strong voice and a good ear.
"His blood can make the VIOLETS clean," carolled Mary blithely. Mrs. Jimmy
Milgrave, whose pew was just in front of the manse pew, turned suddenly and
looked the child over from top to toe. Mary, in a mere superfluity of naughtiness,
stuck out her tongue at Mrs. Milgrave, much to Una's horror.
"I couldn't help it," she declared after church. "What'd she want to stare at me like
that for? Such manners! I'm GLAD stuck my tongue out at her. I wish I'd stuck it
farther out. Say, I saw Rob MacAllister from over-harbour there. Wonder if he'll
tell Mrs. Wiley on me."
No Mrs. Wiley appeared, however, and in a few day the children forgot to look for
her. Mary was apparently a fixture at the manse. But she refused to go to school
with the others.
"Nope. I've finished my education," she said, when Faith urged her to go. "I went
to school four winters since I come to Mrs. Wiley's and I've had all I want of
THAT. I'm sick and tired of being everlastingly jawed at 'cause I didn't get my
home-lessons done. I'D no time to do home-lessons."
"Our teacher won't jaw you. He is awfully nice," said Faith.
"Well, I ain't going. I can read and write and cipher up to fractions. That's all I
want. You fellows go and I'll stay home. You needn't be scared I'll steal anything.
I swear I'm honest."
Mary employed herself while the others were at school in cleaning up the manse.
In a few days it was a different place. Floors were swept, furniture dusted,
everything straightened out. She mended the spare-room bed-tick, she sewed on
missing buttons, she patched clothes neatly, she even invaded the study with
broom and dustpan and ordered Mr. Meredith out while she put it to rights. But