sunnuntai 10. tammikuuta 2016

Chapter Nine: The Petticoat

The garret was the next best place of the children of Five Cherry Trees after the orchard. It was a large, low room, full of chests and trunks, wooden boxes and cupboards with old clothes, toys, books, and portraits of their “family ghosts”. Old arms Angus MacDonald had wisely shut into a locked chest under the gable window and told the children never touch them, but they could play with all the other things.

In a sunny afternoon Myra was sitting on the gable chest and looking over the Wood and moors. Ethel had toothache and Louisa was amusing her with some stories, but Myra did not feel like story now. Instead, she felt like lady. But there was nobody to play a lady with — Annie Welsh had went over to Glennari, Tom was fishing at the pond with Geordie, mother and Aunt Maggie made bread. Myra sighed. She felt very lonely.

“Well, maybe I can play by myself”, she then thought and slipped down the chest. “I can wear the most beautiful clothes now and imagine I’m a queen.”

She went to an old cupboard, owned by her great-grandmother hundred years ago, opened the door and had a long breath of the dusty, thrilling smell of the old clothes.

“What shall I wear — this green silk dress? No, I had it last time when we played theatre. What about that?” She took a cream-coloured blouse and wine-red skirt. “No, that’s far too long for me. Oh, what’s that?” The girl suddenly bowed to catch something on the floor of the cupboard. “Oh! Oh! Oh!” she gasped.

The cloth was an old silk petticoat, the one Laura MacDonald had worn on her own wedding day, under the silk dress which was called “the prettiest one ever seen this village”. Myra did not know that, but she took the petticoat and looked it with airs of enjoyment. The white silk had yellowed a little, but three rows of lace and two blue ribbons in the hem were as fancy as fifteen years ago. Myra hopped into the petticoat. It was till her armpit, but clashed and shone so that she did not care about that.

“What a dress for a queen! she thought and rushed to get some blouse. The cream-coloured would not do — no, but here was and old curtain, as white and thin as a veil. She wrapped it loosely around her body and stepped before an old, tall looking-glass to look her reflection. “Oh, if I ever become rich I’ll get a dress just like that!” She turned around again and again. “I know. I’ll go for a walk — if I take my straw hat nobody knows me, but wonders who is that fine lady!”

She ran down the stairs holding the hems of the petticoat, caught her beloved hat and put it on her head.

“If I only could have a chignon — and maybe I can. I know Louisa has some pins Mommy gave her for school play last spring. Louisa’s in Ethel’s room, but I’m sure she won’t mind if I borrow them.”

After a quarter an hour Myra was standing before Louisa’s little mirror. She had tighened her beautiful auburn hair to the top of her head and now put the hat on that chignon.

“What a pretty one I am!” she thought. “Now I’ll go.”

She went out and walked through the yard. If Laura or Aunt Maggie had glimpsed out the kitchen window they had surely stopped her, but both of them were too busy in baking, and Myra could go down the way with her nose up, holding her hems.

“For heaven’s sake, Myra MacDonald! Have you got out of your mind? Does your mother really let you go out in that kind of a costume?”

It was Mrs Macaulay. Myra stopped, courtseyed and said, imitating English way of speaking she had once heard in a play in Glennari,

“My dear woman, I must admit I have never been called some ‘Myra’. I am lady Jane-Marie de la Barrie.”

“Lady Ludicrous, I say! And don’t you be unpolite to me. ‘My dear woman’, indeed!” Mrs Macaulay hurried forwards and had a delicious tale to tell the people she met.

But “lady Jane-Marie” began to feel that maybe her little walk was not so good idea after all. She remembered what mother had told them after the Robin Hood scandal.

“But I’m not going to visit any house, so nobody can say I’m going to steal”, she said stricly to her coinscidence. “Now, there’s Kerr’s place. I hope Mrs Kerr won’t see me, she’s such an ‘oh-my-dear-what’s-going-on’.”

Mrs Kerr did not see Myra, and she continued her way, when some little girls came along the lane.

“Myra MacDonald, is that you?” cried Esther MacGregor. “My, you’re fancy. Where’s that skirt from?”

“I found it”, Myra admitted and did not try to play any lady anymore. “Do you think it’s fancy?”

“It really is”, said Rosie Brown. “Did your mother let you come out in it? If I had one, I’d stay inside and wouldn’t dare even move.”

“Of course she let me come out”, Myra said, thinking that nobody had not tried to prevent her, so this was not exactly lieing.

“We are going to play in the Wood”, told Kitty Brown, Rosie’s twin sister. “Shall you come along?”

“Sure. I had nobody to play with at home, that’s why I came out.”

The girls ran through the village. Myra had some troubles with her skirt, but she tried hardy to follow her friends and did not even see wondering glances the people they passed gave her.

It was a wonderful afternoon. The girls played hide and seek, made a little house of grass and branches, and climbed to the trees.

“Shouldn’t you get your fine things off?” asked Esther. “I mean, your Mommy’s angry if you tear that dress.”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter”, Myra said proudly. “I don’t let it bother me.” She took her hems on another hand and put another on the lowest branch.

By the middle of the old birch her straw hat dropped d0wn.

“Do you have a chignon?” cried Kitty from another birch.

“Sure.” Myra was gasping for climbing — the curtain on her shoulders did bother her. “Open hair wouldn’t suit with that kind of a dress.”

“Be careful”, urged Rosie down on the ground. She had hurt her foot couple of days before, so she did not climb. “Please, Myra — your dress has stuck in something!”

It had really been stuck. Myra bowed to tear it off a branch, and her wide hems flowed down to her feet. She tried to catch them, but could not hold herself up anymore — with a awful cry she dropped down as a ripe apple.

“Myra!” cried Rosie. “Oh, Myra!”

Esther and Kitty got down faster they ever had. Myra sat on the ground and shook her head.

“I am all right, I guess”, she muttered. “But oh — oh!”

She had dropped just on her hat, and besides the branches had torn her fancy petticoat into two pieces.

“What your Mommy will say!” whispered Kitty.

“I — think it’s — best to go home.” Myra stood up and took her spoiled hat. It was the worst thing and almost made her cry. But she would not cry before the girls, never.

Aunt Maggie was sitting on veranda and knitting a stocking when Myra came. All the bread was made and cooling on kitchen table, and Laura had went upstairs to see Ethel. When the little rugged feature opened the gate, Aunt Maggie put her knitting on her arms.

“Well, well, lady de la Barrie”, she said.

Myra stopped and stared.

“Come hear, your wicked, stupid girl.” Aunty’s voice was angry. “Mrs Macaulay was over — and heaven only knows where else she’d been after that! Besides Mrs Welsh dropped in and told me that you had rushed through the whole Lochdhu with those ridiculous things — good grief, lass, come here! What have you made to yourself?”

“I dropped down from a tree”, Myra whispered.

“Really — and tore your Mommy’s petticoat, I see! Where did you find it?”

“In great-grandmother’s cupboard on the garret.” Myra began to cry. “Oh, Aunty, don’t be angry to me!”

“l’d like to spank you. Well, a nice piece of rubbish you’ve made of that, if you ask me! This was a pride of your Mommy, hear me?”

“It was in the cupboard!”

“Surely it was, and maybe she thought you would have some fun of it, but for heaven’s sake, she didn’t mean you to show it to the whole world and ruin it!”

“Lochdhu isn’t the whole world!”

“Don’t you be nosy to me, young lady. Take off these things — a curtain! What next, I wonder. What happened to your hat?”

“I dropped on it.”

Aunt Maggie stared her niece, then she gave a sarcastic sigh.

“Well, at last we got rid of that one. Stop crying now, I’m not really angry, just ashamed of you. And how could you speak Mrs Macaulay that way? You have been told to respect your elders.”

“She spoke me first, and not so friendly!” Myra sobbed.

At that moment Laura came to the veranda. “

“Well, lassie-o-mine, I’ve heard some tales of you. According to that l’d best to tie your up for the rest of the holiday.”

“Mommy, I’m so sorry!”

“Calm down now.” Laura helped Myra to step out of the petticoat and curtain. “I need some silk to repair Ethel’s best collar, so I can take it here. And those laces can be used, too. Calm down, lassie!”

Myra did slowly calm dom. Mother told her to take the pins off her head and then go to Ethel, so Louisa could have a little rest.

“I’m sorry I didn’t see you in the petticoat”, muttered Ethel, when Myra sat on the edge of her bed. “You should have come and shown yourself to us.”

“Please, don’t speak of it anymore”, asked Myra. “Aunt Maggie said she’s ashamed of me, and that’s the worst. I didn’t think there was any harm in going to the village with those clothes!”

“You never can guess what’s harm in the adults’ view”, little Ethel said solemnly. Her toothache had almost gone, but she was still a little melancholic. “I can tell you a story now. Louisa told it to me.”

“If speaking doesn’t make you feel worse.”

“Oh no, I’m quite all right. It’s a story of the very first MacDonald and King Kenneth.”

And Ethel told the story, till Myra felt it a little easier to stand her adventure. But the straw hat was ruined, nothing could repair it, and in all silence Aunt Maggie put it into oven when she lighted the fire for the dinner.

“I’ve heard every cloud has silver lining”, she told Louisa, when the girl came in to help with cooking and asked what she was burning.

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