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John Culver brought them home and as they left the car Mrs. Horton inquired, “Is your apartment comfortable, John?””
Perfectly comfortable, thank you,” said Culver.
“You are married?” Mrs. Horton continued.
“Yes,” replied Culver.
“One little girl,” said Culver, glancing at Rosanna with a smile.
Mrs. Horton saw the look. She said nothing, but when Rosanna sat before her at the great round table, eating her luncheon, Mrs. Horton remarked, “Of course, Rosanna, you will make no effort whatever to meet the child living over the garage. Unless you make the opportunity, she will never see you, thanks to the arrangement of the windows. She is a child that it would be impossible for you to know.”
Rosanna did not reply.
“Rosanna?” said her grandmother sharply.
“Yes, grandmother,” sighed poor Rosanna.
After luncheon Mrs. Horton dressed and was driven away to a bridge party. Rosanna practiced scales for half an hour, talked French with her governess for another long half, and then wandered out into the garden and commenced to wonder about the child over the garage. How old was she? What was she like? Rosanna wished she could see her. There was a rustic seat near the garage and Rosanna went over and curled up on its rough lap. She stared and stared at the garage, but the blank brick walls with their curtains of vines gave her no hint.
It seemed as though she had been sitting there for hours when she fancied a small voice called, “Hello, Rosanna!”
Rosanna sat perfectly still, staring at the brick wall.
“Hello, Rosanna!” said the voice again softly. It was a strangely sweet, gentle voice and seemed to come from the air. Rosanna cast a startled glance above her.
There was a little laugh. “Look in the tree,” said the pleasant voice.
Rosanna, mouth open, eyes popping, looked up.
A big tree growing in the alley, close outside the brick wall, leaned its biggest bough in a friendly fashion over Rosanna’s garden. High up something blue fluttered among the thick leaves. Then the branches parted, and a face appeared. Rosanna continued to stare.
The little girl in the tree waved her hand.
“You don’t know me, do you, Rosanna?” she teased. “But I know you. You are Rosanna Horton, and you live in that lovely, lovely house and this is your garden. Is that your playhouse over there? And oh, is there an honest-for-truly pony in that little barn? Dad says there really is. Is there?” She stopped for breath, and beamed down on Rosanna.
“How did you get up there?” said Rosanna. She was not allowed to climb trees.
“Father made a little ladder and fastened it to the trunk with wires so it won’t hurt the wood. If Mrs. Horton doesn’t mind, he is going to fix a little platform up here. There is a splendid place for it. Then I can study up here where it is all cool and breezy and whispery. Don’t you like to hear the leaves whisper? He is going to put a rail around it so we won’t fall off.”
“Who is we?” asked Rosanna. “Have you brothers and sisters?”
“No, I haven’t,” said the little girl. “Mother says it is my greatest misfortune. She says that I shall have to make a great many friends to make up for it, and that if I don’t I will grow selfish. Wouldn’t you hate to be selfish? I ‘spect you have dozens and dozens of little girls to play with. How happy you must make everybody with your lovely garden and things! My mother says that is what things are for: to share with people. She says it is just like having two big red apples. If you eat them both, why, you don’t feel good in your tummy; but if you give one to some one, you[Pg 11] feel good everywhere, and you have a good time while you are eating them and get better acquainted, and it just does you good. Do little girls come to see you every day?”
“No,” said Rosanna, “I don’t know any little girls. My grandmother won’t let me.”
“Won’t let you?” said the girl in the tree in a shocked tone. “Why won’t she let you?”
“She says I would learn to speak bad grammar and use slang, and grow up to be vulgar.”
“Goodness me!” said the stranger. She sat rocking on her bough for a few minutes. Then: “Why would you have to learn bad things of other girls?” she demanded. “I wouldn’t let anybody teach me anything I didn’t want to know. I should think it would be nice to have you teach them good grammar if you know it, and not to use slang, and all that. She must think you are soft! My mother says if you are made of putty, you will get dented all over and never be more than an unshapely lump, but if you are made of good stone, you can be carved into something lovely and lasting. But that is just your grandmother,” said the girl. “Where is your mother? Is she off visiting?”
“She is dead,” said Rosanna. A wave of unspeakable longing for the lost young mother swept over her and her lip trembled as she spoke.
“Oh, poor, poor Rosanna!” said the little tree girl softly. “Oh, Rosanna, I feel so sorry! If you ever want to borrow mine, I wish you would! My mother says that when a woman has even just one child in her heart, it grows so big that it can hold and love all the children in the world. You borrow her any time you need her, Rosanna!” Then feeling that perhaps the conversation ought to take a livelier strain, she did not wait for Rosanna to answer, but continued, “I wish somebody hadn’t built this apartment over your garage so that none of the windows look out on your garden. We are going to hate that, aren’t we?”
“Grandmother had it built that way so we would not see the people living there,” Rosanna explained.
“Oh!” said the tree girl. “Well, of course you know that I live there now. We came two days ago, and my name is Helen Culver. We would love to play together, wouldn’t we?”
“Oh, indeed we would!” said Rosanna.
“Well, then we will,” said Helen joyfully. “I must go now. I think it is practice time. I will see you after luncheon. Good-bye!” and she slid down the tree and disappeared.
Rosanna went skipping to the house. She was so happy. It was not her practice time, but she was going to practice because Helen was so engaged. Her mind was full of Helen as she sat doing finger exercises and scales. How lovely and clean and bright she looked with her big, blue eyes and blond docked hair! Her teeth were so white and pretty and her voice was so soft and low. And she had a dimple! It was Rosanna’s dream to have a dimple in her thin little cheek.
Rosanna commenced to play scales. She took the C scale—it was so easy that she could think. She was so happy that she played it in a very prancy way, up and down, up and down. Then it commenced to stumble and go ve-ry, v-e-r-y slowly. Rosanna had had an awful thought. The same thought had really been there all the time, but her heart was making such a happy noise that she wouldn’t let herself hear it. Now, however, it made such a racket she just had to listen. Over and over with the scales it said loudly and harshly, “Will your grandmother let you play with that little girl who lives over the garage? Will your grandmother even let you know that little girl who lives over the garage? Will she? Will she?”
Rosanna Horton knew the answer perfectly well.
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Little Rosanna Horton was a very poor little girl. When I tell you more about her, you will think that was a very odd thing to say.
She lived in one of the most beautiful homes in Louisville, a city full of beautiful homes. And Rosanna’s was one of the loveliest. It was a great, rambling house of red brick with wide porches in the front and on either side. On the right of the house was a wonderful garden. It covered half a square, and was surrounded by a high stone wall. No one could look in to see what she was doing. That was rather nice, but of course no one could look out either to see what they were doing on the brick sidewalk, and that does not seem so nice.
At the back of the garden, facing on a clean bricked alley, was the garage, big enough to hold four automobiles. The garage was covered with vines. Otherwise, it would have been a queer looking building, with its one door opening into the garden, and on that side not another door or window either upstairs or down. The upstairs part was a really lovely little apartment for the chauffeur to live in, but all the windows had been put on the side or in front because old Mrs. Horton, Rosanna’s grandmother, did not think that chauffeurs’ families were ever the sort who ought to look down into the garden where Rosanna played and where she herself sat in state and had tea served of an afternoon.
At one side of the garden where the roses were wildest and the flowers grew thickest was a little cottage, built to fit Rosanna. Grown people had to stoop to get in and their heads almost scraped the ceilings. The furniture all fitted Rosanna too, even to the tiny piano. This was Rosanna’s playhouse. She kept her dolls here, and there was a desk with all sorts of writing paper that a maid sorted and put in order every morning before Rosanna came out.
This doesn’t sound as though Rosanna was such a poor little girl, does it? But just you wait.
A good ways back of this playhouse was another small building that looked like a little stable. It was a stable—a really truly stable built to fit Rosanna’s tiny pony. He had a little box stall, and at one side there was space for the shiniest, prettiest cart.
Rosanna did not go to school. There was a schoolroom in the house, but I will tell you about that some other time. Rosanna disliked it very much: a schoolroom with just one little girl in it! You wouldn’t like it yourself, would you?
Rosanna’s clothes were the prettiest ever; much prettier then than they are now. And such stacks of them! There was a whole dresser full of ribbons and trinkets and jewelry besides. (Poor little Rosanna!)
She danced like a fairy, and every day she had a music lesson which was given her, like a bad pill, by a severe lady in spectacles who ought never to have tried to smile because it made her face look cracked all over and you felt so much better when the smile was over. Oh, poor, poor, poor little Rosanna!
Do you begin to guess why?
You have not heard me say a word about her dear loving mother and her big joky father, have you? They were both dead! This is such a pitiful thing to have come to any little girl that I can scarcely bear to tell you. Both were dead, and Rosanna lived with her grandmother, who was a very proud and important lady indeed. There was a young uncle who might have been good friends with Rosanna and made things easier but she scarcely knew him. He had been away to college and after that, three years in the army. Once a week she wrote to him, in France; but her grandmother corrected the letters and usually made her write them over, so they were not very long and certainly were not interesting.
Mrs. Horton was sure that her son’s little daughter could never be worthy of her name and family if she was allowed to “mix,” as she put it, with other children. So Rosanna was not allowed to have any other children for friends, and Mrs. Horton was too blind with all her foolish family pride to see that Rosanna was getting queer and vain and overbearing. Every day they took a drive together, usually through the parks or out the river road. Mrs. Horton did not like to drive down town. She did not like the people who filled the streets. She said they were “frightfully ordinary.” It was a shameful thing to be ordinary in Mrs. Horton’s opinion. She had not looked it up in the dictionary or she would have chosen some other word because being ordinary according to the dictionary is no crime at all. It is not even a disgrace.
Rosanna’s books were always about flowers and fairies, or animals that talked, or music that romped up and down the bars spelling little words. There were never any people in them, and if any one sent her a book at Christmas about some poor little girl who wore a pinafore and helped her mother and lived in two rooms and was ever so happy, that book had a way of getting itself changed for some other book about bees or flowers the very night before Christmas.
“She will know about those things soon enough,” said Rosanna’s grandmother.
But every afternoon when they sat in the rose arbor in the middle of the beautiful garden, Rosanna would get tired reading and she would stare up at the clouds and see how many faces she could find.
One day she startled and of course shocked her grandmother by saying in a low voice, “Dean Harriman!”
“Where?” said Mrs. Horton, staring down the walk.
“In that littlest cloud,” said Rosanna, unconscious of startling her grandmother. “It is very good of him, only his nose is even funnier than it is really. Sort of knobby, you know.”
“Please do not say ‘sort of,'” said Mrs. Horton. “And if you are looking at pictures in the clouds, I consider it a waste of time, Rosanna!”
She struck a little bell, and the house boy came hurrying across the lawn. Mrs. Horton turned to him.
“Find Minnie,” she said, “and tell her to send Miss Rosanna a volume of Classical Pictures for Young Eyes.”
So Rosanna looked at Classical Pictures, and for that afternoon at least kept her young eyes away from the clouds. And never again did she share her pictures with her grandmother.
Rosanna was not a spiritless child, but every day and all day her life slipped on in its dull groove and she did not know how to get out.
Poor little Rosanna! To the little girl behind it, a six-foot brick wall looks as high as the sky. And the garden, as I have told you before, was a very, very big garden indeed. Plenty large enough to be very lonesome in.
One morning Mrs. Horton was not ready to drive at the appointed time. Rosanna was ready, however, and was dancing around on the front porch when the automobile rolled up. She ran toward it but drew back at the sight of a strange chauffeur. He touched his cap and said “Good morning!” in a hearty, friendly way, very different to the stiff manner of the man who had been driving them. Rosanna went down to him.
“Where is Albert?” she asked.
“He does not work here now,” said the man. “I have his place.”
“What is your name?” said Rosanna.
“John Culver,” said the new chauffeur. “What is your name?”
Rosanna frowned a little. She liked this new man with his crinkly, twinkly blue eyes and white teeth. A deep scar creased his jaw, but it did not spoil his friendly, keen face. But chauffeurs usually did not ask her name. There had been so many going and coming during the war. She decided to walk away but could not resist his friendly eyes.
“I am Miss Rosanna,” she said proudly.
“Oh!” said the man, and Rosanna had a feeling that he was amused. So she went on speaking. “I will get in the car, if you please, and wait for my grandmother.”
He opened the door of the limousine and before she could place her foot on the step, he swung her lightly off her feet and into the car.
“There you are, kiddie!” he said pleasantly, and Rosanna was too stunned to say more than “Thank you!” as the door opened and her grandmother appeared, the maid following, laden with the small dog.
Mrs. Horton nodded to the new man and gave an order as he closed the door.
“Our new man,” said Mrs. Horton to Rosanna, then settled back in her corner and took out a list which she commenced to check off with a gold pencil. Rosanna, holding the dog, looked out the windows.
There were children all along the street: little girls playing dolls on front doorsteps and other little girls walking in happy groups or skipping rope. Boys on bicycles circled everywhere and shouted to each other. They made a short cut through one of the poor sections of the city. Here it was the same: children everywhere, all having the best sort of time. They were not so well dressed, that was all the difference. They had the same carefree look in their eyes. Rosanna gazed out wistfully, longingly.
And now you surely guess why Rosanna, with her beautiful home, her pony and her playhouse, her lovely garden, and her room full of pretty things, still was so very, very poor.
Rosanna did not have a single friend.
chapter 6 : “The Crime Of The “Blues” (1) Start at page 123–
The Miracle Of Right Thought
Orison Swett Marden
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