Darmowy fragment publikacji:
Treść zgodna z wydaniem z roku 1909.
Obraz na okładce: Olga Bozańska, 1890, W białej sukni
Wydawnictwo Wymownia, 2017
STORIES OF THE GOOD
ANNA, MELANCTHA AND
THE GENTLE LENA
THE GOOD ANNA
THE tradesmen of Bridgepoint learned to dread the sound of Miss Mathilda, for with that
name the good Anna always conquered.
The strictest of the one price stores found that they could give things for a little less, when the
good Anna had fully said that Miss Mathilda could not pay so much and that she could buy
it cheaper by Lindheims.
Lindheims was Anna s favorite store, for there they had bargain days, when flour and sugar
were sold for a quarter of a cent less for a pound, and there the heads of the departments were
all her friends and always managed to give her the bargain prices, even on other days.
Anna led an arduous and troubled life.
Anna managed the whole little house for Miss Mathilda. It was a funny little house, one of a
whole row of all the same kind that made a close pile like a row of dominoes that a child
knocks over, for they were built along a street which at this point came down a steep hill.
They were funny little houses, two stories high, with red brick fronts and long white steps.
This one little house was always very full with Miss Mathilda, an under servant, stray dogs
and cats and Anna s voice that scolded, managed, grumbled all day long.
Sallie! can t I leave you alone a minute but you must run to the door to see the butcher boy
come down the street and there is Miss Mathilda calling for her shoes. Can I do everything
while you go around always thinking about nothing at all? If I ain t after you every minute
you would be forgetting all the time, and I take all this pains, and when you come to me you
was as ragged as a buzzard and as dirty as a dog. Go and find Miss Mathilda her shoes where
you put them this morning.
Peter! her voice rose higher, Peter! Peter was the youngest and the favorite dog — Peter,
if you don t leave Baby alone, Baby was an old, blind terrier that Anna had loved for many
years, Peter if you don t leave Baby alone, I take a rawhide to you, you bad dog.
The good Anna had high ideals for canine chastity and discipline. The three regular dogs, the
three that always lived with Anna, Peter and old Baby, and the fluffy little Rags, who was
always jumping up into the air just to show that he was happy, together with the transients, the
many stray ones that Anna always kept until she found them homes, were all under strict
orders never to be bad one with the other.
A sad disgrace did once happen in the family. A little transient terrier for whom Anna had
found a home suddenly produced a crop of pups. The new owners were certain that this Foxy
had known no dog since she was in their care. The good Anna held to it stoutly that her Peter
and her Rags were guiltless, and she made her statement with so much heat that Foxy s
owners were at last convinced that these results were due to their neglect.
You bad dog, Anna said to Peter that night, you bad dog.
Peter was the father of those pups, the good Anna explained to Miss Mathilda, and they
look just like him too, and poor little Foxy, they were so big that she could hardly have them,
but Miss Mathilda, I would never let those people know that Peter was so bad.
Periods of evil thinking came very regularly to Peter and to Rags and to the visitors within
their gates. At such times Anna would be very busy and scold hard, and then too she always
took great care to seclude the bad dogs from each other whenever she had to leave the house.
Sometimes just to see how good it was that she had made them, Anna would leave the room a
little while and leave them all together, and then she would suddenly come back. Back would
slink all the wicked-minded dogs at the sound of her hand upon the knob, and then they would
sit desolate in their corners like a lot of disappointed children whose stolen sugar has been
taken from them.
Innocent blind old Baby was the only one who preserved the dignity becoming in a dog.
You see that Anna led an arduous and troubled life.
The good Anna was a small, spare, german woman, at this time about forty years of age. Her
face was worn, her cheeks were thin, her mouth drawn and firm, and her light blue eyes were
very bright. Sometimes they were full of lightning and sometimes full of humor, but they
were always sharp and clear.
Her voice was a pleasant one, when she told the histories of bad Peter and of Baby and of
little Rags. Her voice was a high and piercing one when she called to the teamsters and to the
other wicked men, what she wanted that should come to them, when she saw them beat a
horse or kick a dog. She did not belong to any society that could stop them and she told them
so most frankly, but her strained voice and her glittering eyes, and her queer piercing german
english first made them afraid and then ashamed. They all knew too, that all the policemen on
the beat were her friends. These always respected and obeyed Miss Annie, as they called her,
and promptly attended to all of her complaints.
For five years Anna managed the little house for Miss Mathilda. In these five years there were
four different under servants.
The one that came first was a pretty, cheerful irish girl. Anna took her with a doubting mind.
Lizzie was an obedient, happy servant, and Anna began to have a little faith. This was not for
long. The pretty, cheerful Lizzie disappeared one day without her notice and with all her
baggage and returned no more.
This pretty, cheerful Lizzie was succeeded by a melancholy Molly.
Molly was born in America, of german parents. All her people had been long dead or gone
away. Molly had always been alone. She was a tall, dark, sallow, thin-haired creature, and she
was always troubled with a cough, and she had a bad temper, and always said ugly dreadful
Anna found all this very hard to bear, but she kept Molly a long time out of kindness. The
kitchen was constantly a battle-ground. Anna scolded and Molly swore strange oaths, and
then Miss Mathilda would shut her door hard to show that she could hear it all.
At last Anna had to give it up. Please Miss Mathilda won t you speak to Molly, Anna said,
I can t do a thing with her. I scold her, and she don t seem to hear and then she swears so that
she scares me. She loves you Miss Mathilda, and you scold her please once.
But Anna, cried poor Miss Mathilda, I don t want to, and that large, cheerful, but faint
hearted woman looked all aghast at such a prospect. But you must, please Miss Mathilda!
Miss Mathilda never wanted to do any scolding. But you must please Miss Mathilda, Anna
Miss Mathilda every day put off the scolding, hoping always that Anna would learn to
manage Molly better. It never did get better and at last Miss Mathilda saw that the scolding
simply had to be.
It was agreed between the good Anna and her Miss Mathilda that Anna should be away when
Molly would be scolded. The next evening that it was Anna s evening out, Miss Mathilda
faced her task and went down into the kitchen.
Molly was sitting in the little kitchen leaning her elbows on the table. She was a tall, thin,
sallow girl, aged twenty-three, by nature slatternly and careless but trained by Anna into
superficial neatness. Her drab striped cotton dress and gray black checked apron increased the
length and sadness of her melancholy figure. Oh, Lord! groaned Miss Mathilda to herself as
she approached her.
Molly, I want to speak to you about your behaviour to Anna! , here Molly dropped her head
still lower on her arms and began to cry.
Oh! Oh! groaned Miss Mathilda.
It s all Miss Annie s fault, all of it, Molly said at last, in a trembling voice, I do my best.
I know Anna is often hard to please, began Miss Mathilda, with a twinge of mischief, and
then she sobered herself to her task, but you must remember, Molly, she means it for your
good and she is really very kind to you.
I don t want her kindness, Molly cried, I wish you would tell me what to do, Miss
Mathilda, and then I would be all right. I hate Miss Annie.
This will never do Molly, Miss Mathilda said sternly, in her deepest, firmest tones, Anna is
the head of the kitchen and you must either obey her or leave.
I don t want to leave you, whimpered melancholy Molly. Well Molly then try and do
better, answered Miss Mathilda, keeping a good stern front, and backing quickly from the
Oh! Oh! groaned Miss Mathilda, as she went back up the stairs.
Miss Mathilda s attempt to make peace between the constantly contending women in the
kitchen had no real effect. They were very soon as bitter as before. At last it was decided that
Molly was to go away. Molly went away to work in a factory in the town, and she went to live
with an old woman in the slums, a very bad old woman Anna said.
Anna was never easy in her mind about the fate of Molly. Sometimes she would see or hear of
her. Molly was not well, her cough was worse, and the old woman really was a bad one.
After a year of this unwholesome life, Molly was completely broken down. Anna then again
took her in charge. She brought her from her work and from the woman where she lived, and
put her in a hospital to stay till she was well. She found a place for her as nursemaid to a little
girl out in the country, and Molly was at last established and content.
Molly had had, at first, no regular successor. In a few months it was going to be the summer
and Miss Mathilda would be gone away, and old Katie would do very well to come in every
day and help Anna with her work.
Old Katy was a heavy, ugly, short and rough old german woman, with a strange distorted
german-english all her own. Anna was worn out now with her attempt to make the younger
generation do all that it should and rough old Katy never answered back, and never wanted
her own way. No scolding or abuse could make its mark on her uncouth and aged peasant
hide. She said her Yes, Miss Annie, when an answer had to come, and that was always all
that she could say.
Old Katy is just a rough old woman, Miss Mathilda, Anna said, but I think I keep her here
with me. She can work and she don t give me trouble like I had with Molly all the time.
Anna always had a humorous sense from this old Katy s twisted peasant english, from the
roughness on her tongue of buzzing s s and from the queer ways of her brutish servile humor.
Anna could not let old Katy serve at table old Katy was too coarsely made from natural earth
for that and so Anna had all this to do herself and that she never liked, but even then this
simple rough old creature was pleasanter to her than any of the upstart young.
Life went on very smoothly now in these few months before the summer came. Miss Mathilda
every summer went away across the ocean to be gone for several months. When she went
away this summer old Katy was so sorry, and on the day that Miss Mathilda went, old Katy
cried hard for many hours. An earthy, uncouth, senile peasant creature old Katy surely was.
She stood there on the white stone steps of the little red brick house, with her bony, square
dull head with its thin, tanned, toughened skin and its sparse and kinky grizzled hair, and her
strong, squat figure a little overmade on the right side, clothed in her blue striped cotton dress,
all clean and always washed but rough and harsh to see and she stayed there on the steps till
Anna brought her in, blubbering, her apron to her face, and making queer guttural broken
When Miss Mathilda early in the fall came to her house again old Katy was not there.
I never thought old Katy would act so Miss Mathilda, Anna said, when she was so sorry
when you went away, and I gave her full wages all the summer, but they are all alike Miss
Mathilda, there isn t one of them that s fit to trust. You know how Katy said she liked you,
Miss Mathilda, and went on about it when you went away and then she was so good and
worked all right until the middle of the summer, when I got sick, and then she went away and
left me all alone and took a place out in the country, where they gave her some more money.
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