“And you mustn’t worry about me. I am not hungry any more. I feel as if I should never want anything to eat. Perhaps it is because I am older and haven’t a growing appetite. And I am not any of the things you thought me. And of course you would be disappointed, and it wouldn’t be fair.”
Having posted this, Anne had other things to do. She wrote mysterious letters, and finally came into a room where her sisters and Aunt Elizabeth were sewing, with an important-looking paper in her hand.
“I am going to work, Amy.”
Amy and Ethel and Aunt Elizabeth wore white frocks, and looked very cool and feminine and high-bred. Aunt Elizabeth had a nose like Amy’s and the same look of race.
It was Aunt Elizabeth who said in her commanding voice: “What are you talking about, Anne?”
“I am going to work in the War Risk Bureau, Aunt Elizabeth. I wrote to two senators, and they helped me.”
No woman of the Merryman family had ever worked in an office.
Anne faced a storm of disapproval, but she stood there slim and defiant, and stated her reasons.
“We need money. I don’t see how we can get through a winter like the last. I can’t keep my self-respect if we go on living as we did last winter.”
“Haven’t you any pride, Anne?”
“I have self-respect.”
She left the room a conqueror. After she had gone the three women talked about her. They did not say it openly, but they felt that there was really an ordinary streak in Anne. Otherwise she would not have wanted to work in an office.
There was, however, nothing to be done. Anne was twenty-one. She was to get a hundred dollars a month. In spite of herself, Amy felt a throb of the heart as she thought of what that hundred dollars would mean to them.
Murray Flint was much perturbed when he heard of Anne’s decision. He wrote to her that of course she knew that there was no reason why she should go into an office—his home and hearthstone were hers. She wrote back that she should never marry! After that, Murray felt, with Amy and Ethel and Aunt Elizabeth, that there was an ordinary streak in Anne!
When he arrived in August at Aunt Elizabeth’s he was astonished at the change in Amy. She looked really very young as she came to meet him, and Aunt Elizabeth’s house was a perfect setting for her charms. Murray was very fond of Aunt Elizabeth’s house. It was an ancient, stately edifice, and within there were the gold-framed portraits of men and women with noses like Amy’s and Aunt Elizabeth’s.
Murray had missed Amy very much and he told her so.
“It was a point of honor for me to ask Anne again. But when I thought I was going to lose you I learned that my life would be empty without you.”
He really believed what he was telling her. If Amy did not believe it she made no sign. She was getting much more than she expected, and she accepted him graciously and elegantly, as became a daughter of the Merrymans.