"When Herbert, my youngest child, left home, I
realized that old age was really upon us," said Grandmother Brown.
"I used to think often of that poem of Longfellow's - how true it
is - called 'The Hanging of the Crane,' which tells of the young
people staring to housekeeping, the babies coming one by one, their
growing up, their leaving one by one, and then, at the last, the man
and woman left together in the house, just two, as they had started.
"Here after all our tug and strain, Dan'l and I were
left alone in the old house. Of course, Frank and Herbie kept coming
back from Kansas City, - for Christmas and their summer vacations, -
but it wasn't the same as when they really lived with us.
"Dan'l and I enjoyed going peacefully together to
the Presbyterian church those years. I went faithfully to the
Ladies' Aid Society, too. One thing the boys did - the foolish
things - was to send me a gold thimble from Kansas City especially
to carry in my bag when i sewed at the Ladies' Aid. One year I was
president of it, the only time I ever held a public office.
Speaking of gifts, the boys sent me many nice things from Kansas
City - a handsome black silk that would stand alone, an embroidered
shawl, a heavy black satin that I never knew what to do with until I
had it made up for Herbie's wedding. They were very generous.
"I was in good health in those years and my
house-keeping was simpler than it had been for a long time. I found
time to read a book occasionally. About that time I read the
Prince of the House of David, Pillar of Fire, Ben-Hur, A Man without
a County - all fine books. And I commenced to take the
Christian Herald then and to read Talmadge's Sermons every
"No lighter literature, Grandmother? How good you
"What I really like best to read," Grandmother
confessed, "is poetry - Cowper and Longfellow and Will Carleton's
things about the farm. The poetry I learned as a child comes back
to me as I sit here now. I was thinking just this morning what a
fine peach sermon there is in that poem of Cowper's 'The Nightingale
and Glow-Worm.' " She threw back her head and recited he long thing
through. I marveled as I listened to her pouring forth the lofty
sentiments she had absorbed so lastingly, over ninety years before
in Grandma Foster's school.
"Dan'l and I had some nice trips together during
those years when we were first alone," continued Grandmother Brown.
"One time he said to me: 'How would you like to go up to St. Paul
this week? The boat get here Thursday night.' He never had to ask
me twice. I was always ready to go whenever he was. So that night I
heard the boat whistle at Nauvoo and roused Dan'l. We went about
midnight. Just across from us at the breakfast table next morning
sat a company of young folks from St. Louis. Going up the river for
pleasure. 'My wife's a fine dancer,' Dan'l told them. Then they
got hold of me and teased and teased me to dance with them. But I
wan't going to show off. All the way up we had the loveliest time.
Good company. Fine fare. The Captain invited us to dine with him!
And then, on reaching our destination, more pleasure. In
Minnesota, we liked to visit the falls of Minnehaha. When I first
went with Dan'l to see them, there was a good sheet of water coming
over the rock. The cliff extended out so far that children could
run back of the falls to play. Now it's just a dribble. many of
the great lakes that were so numerous throughout Minnesota are now
dry, their beds grown over with tall, feathery ferns. There were
twin lakes we used to drive by once that are now entirely gone.
"In '93, like everybody else, we went to the World's
Fair at Chicago. It was wonderful how they thought of all the
things they assembled there. I wanted to see everything I could set
my eyes on."
"Tell me what you specially remember."
"The statuary was remarkable. Everything in white
made the exposition beautiful. It was well named 'The White City.'
It had a look of purity that pleased my fancy.
"I said to a friend, 'One thing at the Fair affected
me in away I could never forget.' It was the representation of
Jesus being taken down from the Cross - life-size, - hands and feet
puffed up just as they would have been, of course. It was such a
perfect likeness of swollen, bruised flesh. it touched a tender
spot in my heart. How terrible that must have been!
"I was interested in the performance of an Indian
tribe. They had trained ponies that dropped down and pretended to
be dead. And there was an Indian girl called Sure-Shot who shot
glass balls from off the edge of a man's hat. And then I liked the
Village of Dahomey. It is wonderful to think what strides the
Africans have made.
"Two years after the Columbian Exposition, Dan'l and
I went to the exposition at Atlanta. That was a very special
occasion for us. We went to celebrate our fiftieth wedding
"Oh, tell me about that anniversary."
"It came on the twenty-third day of October, 1895,
and we were having lovely weather. The day before, Dan'l and I
hitched the pony to the phaeton and went out to the woods for autumn
leaves. We trimmed the house with them - yellow and green and red
and brown. One of the neighbors said we shouldn't have had any but
yellow ones. I s'pose she thought we were in the 'sear and yellow
leaf,' Dan'l and I. But wouldn't that have been a dead thing, a
"As it was, the house looked beautiful. We provided
a good supper. The only special thing I remember was pressed
chicken, prepared in a way that I made up myself. We issued no
invitations. We just put a notice in the paper that we wished to
entertain our friends and that all would be welcome. That brought
everybody, and nobody's feelings were hurt through being overlooked.
Of course our children were all there and that was the important
thing for us; all of them with partners, except Frank and Herbert,
who were still unmarried.
"Among the guests was our old neighbor, Charlie
Doerr. He was, you know, a justice of the peace. He made Dan'l and
me stand up in front of him, and he married us over again. And, by
the way, I had a new wedding ring. I had worn the old one out. It
broke in tow. For a while I went without one, and then Dan'l said
it didn't seem natural to see my hand moving among the cups and
saucers without a ring upon it, and so, one day, he brought me home
a new one."
Here Grandmother Brown paused a moment and then,
tossing her head in a mischievous way she had, she said: "Do you
know, I've been rather sorry I didn't make him take it back and get
me a diamond that time. But I didn't. And I took the old broken
ring and an old gold pen and some other pieces of gold that I had, -
among them a ring given by my grandmother to my mother, - went with
them to Billy Schneider, the jeweler, and asked him to make me a new
ring out of them, and then I gave that new ring to my daughter
Lizzie, and she gave it to her daughter Bessie. All of which I
think is very nice."
"How about the exposition at Atlanta?"
"Oh, yes. The boys wanted to make us the nicest
present they could think of. The Fair was on in Atlanta, Georgia.
They thought we would enjoy it. They gave us a pass and money for
"I had to hurry up and get some clothes. I had a
gray dress and cape that were very becoming. When we reached
Atlanta, we went around together at first. One morning I suggested
to Dan'l that we go seperate ways, meeting at noon for dinner
"I struck the Alabama exhibit. Everything there was
so beautiful - the clothing they manufactured, the cloth they made
it out of, the fruits displayed. At noon, I said to Dan'l: 'I want
you to visit the Alabama exhibit with me. There is a lady there, a
Mrs. Russell, who was very kind, and who showed and explained
everything to me.' She made him welcome, too, and showed him
everything. Then she invited us to go to a fine hotel with her and
to visit a wonderful fruit farm the next day. Going along, I said
to her, 'This is our wedding trip!' 'That's worth knowing,' she
answered. At the hotel a party of young people were dancing. Mrs.
Russell and her husband took us about and introduced us to
everybody, and they made a great deal of us.
"A guest chamber with bath was assigned to us. We
enjoyed it all, the beautiful bed, the lovely bath. But I worried.
'She told everybody that were on our wedding journey. I wonder if
she thought we were just married,' I said to Dan'l. But Dan'l said:
'Let it go so. We are bride and groom.'
"On the way back to Iowa, we stopped at Chattanooga.
We went up on Lookout Mountain and had dinner there. A car goes up
slanting. We stayed until after the sunset of a beautiful day. We
walked out to a point of the mountain where there was a house that
looked as if it would tumble down into the valley. We saw a great
rock where soldiers had scratched their names with a nail. My
brother John had been in the battle there. We looked and looked to
see if we could find his name. We went down by trolley after the
stars were out. The lights in the city below looked like stars,
too. Whether we looked up or down, to the heavens above or the town
below, we seemed to see stars. I said to Dan'l: 'Are you clinching
your toes in? I am.' We went down like lightning.
"Altogether, that Atlanta trip was just wonderful -
the most satisfactory present our children could have given us. We
had that treat as a bridal pair. We went through it beautifully,
like newly-weds. I had a nice-looking dress and a gold chain. Dan'l
walked with a gold-headed cane. He put on as much style as a French
dancing master. That was one of the funny cases in life's desert
for me. My grandmother thought if my father had a fault, it was
levity. I guess I caught some of it.
And so we had a few care-free times together again,
Dan'l and I, almost like our courting days, in the few years that
followed the going away of our last child. But we had our children
on our minds all the time. Whenever they were unhappy, it was
impossible for us to be happy.
"Will and Libbie had built a home in the same yard
with us, and their children ran in and out of our door. Carrie was
a child of gracious spirit with an intense love of beauty. She had
fine taste. If she didn't do anything but tie a bow it was just
perfect. When she had come visiting from St. Louis, a tiny girl,
she said to me, 'Grandma, have you any pretty clothes?' I showed
her my new bonnet with daisies across the top, heavier at each side.
'Oh, Grandma, you can wear that to St. Louis,' she cried. As I
squatted to look at my tomato vies, I showed the lace on my
petticoat. 'Why, Grandma, are you a lady?' she exclaimed. I was
rather annoyed for a minute, and then I realized that she had ben
seeing me in my kitchen calico. 'Oh, I'd like you to have a nice
black silk velvet dress with a silk lace flounce around the bottom.
That would be pretty for you to have, Grandma dear.'
"When she grew up she was very skillful with her
needle - could probably have excelled in costume designing. She was
crazy to make pictures; was always drawing and copying other
people's drawings. She showed a talent for music, too, and her
father's interest in that led him to set her to piano playing very
early and hold her strictly to it. She played extremely well and
taught many others to play.
"As a young woman, Carrie meant a great deal to
Dan'l and me. She used to run in every evening to see us, and was
always so jolly and pleasant. If she was going out, she'd com e
over to show herself all dressed up in her pretty clothes. She used
to tease Dan'l, saying, 'I've come over to close the blinds,
Grandpa.' He always wanted them left up. 'I like to pass along and
see the lights shining out,' he'd say. Of course, it was once
proper, when people carried guns and might pick one off as one sat
at one's fireside, to close the blinds, but that time has passed.
"When Carrie was five years old, her little brother
came for a Christmas present - the sunniest little boy. He was
'Brother' to everybody and nothing else until the school authorities
demanded a name the day he entered school. 'I haven't a name,' he
told the teacher. 'Oh, yes, you have; everybody must have a name,'
she insisted. 'No, I'm just Brother Brown,' he contended. He was
sent home to find out what his name was. After a hasty family
consultation he was told to return and register under his mother's
name of Knapp.
"Then, up the street, passing our door every day,
lived Lizzie and Church and their nice family of children. Lizzie
had had no children for five years. Then she hurried and did her
work all up at once; had four babies in five years, and stopped. It
was always a happy, noisy household. but most harmonious. No
quarreling. Indeed, I never saw a family of children as devoted to
each other as Lizzie's four have always been. Whenever one got
ahead a little, he always seemed to want to turn and reach out a
helping hand to the others.
"Lizzie was a busy women. Dan, her first child, was
never still a minute. When I'd see her coming with him I used to
run and turn my machine to the wall. When his mother lay in bed
with a newborn babe, Dan was strangely quiet in the kitchen one day.
On investigation, he was found to have climbed up into the sink
where he was making 'lazzer' in the baking-powder can and trying to
shave himself before the kitchen mirror with the butter knife. "T
ain't mischief,' he declared. 'It's Price's barber shop.' When he
grew older, he joined forces in mischief with Brother Brown. the
tow cousins were inseparable in their school days.
"Lynn, the baby of Lizzie's family, tried to tag
along. He always wanted to do everything Dan did and have
everything Dan had. he is the tallest of my grandchildren, - six
feet two or three, isn't it? - and when he was shooting up I used to
wonder if there wasn't some way to hold him down. But it would have
been some job to hold Lynn down long. He was full of high spirits
always. I remember how, when he was a stripling, a perfect bean
pole, all length and no width, he'd grab Sister Libbie or me when we
were invited up there to supper, and trot us on his knee and not let
us down. 'Little Aunt Libbie!' my children always called Sister
Libbie, but no one except Lynn ever took such liberties with her.
Why, Lynn used to throw me around and talk and laugh and carry on
with me, when he was about fifteen, exactly as if I was a little
"Of course, in Lizzie's house there'd be singing.
The piano was always going. The children seemed to know every
popular song that ever was written. But Bessie really had a serious
interest in music. She began to pick out chords as soon as she
could reach the piano. When she was only tow or three years old,
she could tell if a chord harmonized. At seven she began taking
piano lessons; later, lessons on the organ, and ever since she has
been working with music - studying, playing, teaching. Now she is
composing. She has just had a pipe-organ piece accepted for
publication. And she teaches her own daughters to sing part songs
in duets, and to play. One little one sings the soprano, the other
the alto, and then they change about, vice versa. How Dan'l would
love to that!
"Then there were Charlie's folks down in Missouri.
We used to go down there every once in a while for a treat -
especially at Thanksgiving time. Dan'l just loved to go over the
farm with Charlie and see all the things he was doing. And how Lyde
would feed us! I remember one nice time when we got up at four
o'clock in the morning. I made coffee while Dan'l fed the pony. We
drive through the thirty miles and got there while Charlie's folks
were at dinner. We had stopped halfway and eaten our own lunch out
in the open. We took out the buggy seat and set it down on the
ground, unhitched Pony, and let her rest and eat. Such a pretty
day! Such a nice time!
"It was always a satisfaction to me to see how
Charlie had worked his way through to independence. he had had to
pay such high interest on the money he had borrowed to buy his farm!
But he always paid the interest promptly; and by and by he added
two more farms and made his place a full square. Charlie's corn was
always taller than anyone else's, and his home, his grapevines, his
cattle, his fowls, always in fine condition, everything thriving and
orderly. Usually he had money in the bank."
"Yes," acknowledged Charlie, modestly, "I had to
pay 10 per cent interest on the money I borrowed when I bought my
first farm. It was when there was so much talk about resumption of
specie payments. The banks were all tight. But that's a way they
have, I notice, those Wall Street fellows, of acting scared and
hollering, 'Hard times,' whenever they want an excuse for a high
interest rat. And they don't get any more decent as time goes on.
When we moved to Missouri in 1876, taxes on our farm were $45 a
year. They're $230 now on the same piece of land. And that's not
so high as in Iowa.'
"Still, if I had it to do over again, I'd stick
close to the land. I mean that I like to live near the soil. The
farmer has a harder time of it part of the year than most city folks
do, but then he has the fun of seeing things grow.
"But, oh, Charlie and Lyde have had their share of
sorrow," Grandmother Brown told me. "They lost two lovely little
children in infancy. And their son Eben, the apple of their eye,
died of pneumonia just as he was entering manhood. He and a
neighbor's son were about to go away to school when he was taken
down. Eben was studious, and Charlie meant to give him every
advantage. 'We fear you are in a critical condition,' they told
him, when there seemed to be no hope. "I've known it for two days,'
he said, 'but it wouldn't do any good to speak of it. I wanted to
go to school, but now I'm going to a better place.' He was always
old beyond his years, with an unusual degree of self-restraint.
"Dan'l was very fond of Charlie's two girls - both
so capable and lovable. The winter when Edna went to school in Fort
Madison was a nice time for us. She was supposed to board with us -
but you should have seen what she brought in her trunk when she
came. Four chickens, a sack of buckwheat flour, sausage meat, a
slab of bacon, the nicest cakes - oh, what all wasn't in that trunk?
"Charlie's Olive was an especially spirited child.
She was not given to talking much, but every movement of her little
body showed her independence. The way she threw up her head! I was
there once at threshing time. Everybody was hurrying to get done by
sundown, so that the threshing machine could go to another farm the
next day. Lyde asked me to put Olive to bed. 'Don't you kneel down
and say your prayers?' I asked her, as she climbed into her crib.
'No, my father prays three times a day, and that's enough for one
family,' she said.
"She loved music. When she was a baby, Charlie used
to dance her up and down and sing a lively tune, and she'd beat her
little feet in rhythm against his legs. But if he sang slowly and
made a sorry sound, she'd almost cry. She learned to play the piano
early, and then sometimes when she was out in the field with
Charlie, she'd suddenly say, 'Wait a minute!' and go dashing toward
the house. You'd think that perhaps she'd hurt herself and stop to
see what was wrong. But all she wanted was to play a tune. 'Before
I forget it,' she'd explain.
"Preachers that came that way always used to stop at
Charlie's. He was somewhat embarrassed, but amused too, one time,
when a preacher began picking at the notes of the piano, and, after
a while, Olive said: 'Oh, do get a way and let me play it!' The
saucy little thing! But how she would ring it off, making her head
and feet go as well as her hands, vibrating all over as she played.
It was a great satisfaction to me later - in 1907 - when Charlie
and I could go together to the old college in Athens and see Olive
get a diploma in music.
"Gus was running the paper mill in those late
eighties and early nineties. He had married Sue Hesser and was
keeping house not far from us. When Adelaide was born, Gus was so
overcome by the whole experience that he said, "There'll never be
another one.' And there never has been.
"'I don't see how Charlie ever endured it,' he said
to me about that time, speaking of Charlie's loss of children. Gus
was always wrapped up completely in the mood of the hour, whatever
it was. He could rattle away so you'd laugh yourself tired just to
hear him, and then he could be silent for hours and days as if
there'd been a death in the family. 'Why, Gus, he just had to bear
his troubles. There is nothing else to do but endure, when trouble
comes,' I told him.
"Gus has always worshiped his one child. I don't
think he ever punished her or spoke a harsh word to her in his life.
And I don't believe she ever gave him a moment's sorrow.
"As the years went by, Gus had considerable to worry
over - as had Dan'l and I - in connection with the paper mill. At
one time, after about ten years in the paper business, I thought we
had come to the end of all our financial worries, and that an easy
old age was assured us. Dan'l had got control of the paper mill and
was making money. But about 1893 he sold out to the Columbia Paper
Trust. he was offered cash or stock. I pleaded with him to take
the cash, but he took the stock. It never paid a dividend.
"Oh, how I wanted him to take the cash - how I
wanted it! That meant security. That was something real. I just
couldn't stand it to have him pass that by and risk nearly all we
had in an unknown thing. I said to him: 'I've worked hard all my
life and haven't seen much return for it. I'd like to have a good
bank account once, have some cash for all my years of labor.'
"But he said, 'Why, what could we do with it,
" 'Do with it! Why, you like to travel.' We could
go to Europe. Think of it! We could build over this old house. We
could spend a little.'
"But Dan'l had never cared to spend. That didn't
appeal to him a bit. He wouldn't listen to me. Nor to Herbert, who
came home twice from Kansas City to try to influence his father to
let the Columbia Paper Company's stock alone. But Dan'l took the
stock, saying to me, 'When they pay us out, we'll go to Europe.'
Oh, I loved every bone in his old body, but, just the same, I have
to say that Dan'l Brown was not a good financier. His penny-wise,
pound-foolish ways and his strict integrity did not make him one.
Just think! He practically gave away the whole thing, after we had
all saved and scrimped for years to accumulate the money that bought
control of the mill!
"After the crash came, Don'l was out of the paper
business forever. He put practically all he had left into the
purchase of a shoe store. He took in Lizzie's husband to assist him
in that, and there he stayed during his remaining days. It gave him
the kind of background he had always seemed to like - a village
store where neighbors came and went. But it was slim picking for
"In the meantime, Gus felt that he had learned a
good deal about paper-making and he tried to turn what he had
learned to good account."
"It was expensive education and not to be thrown
away," commented Gus. "I got hold of that old mill on a lease.
Worked it about seven years. Borrowed money to pay the lease from
any one who'd lend it. I only had the lease from month to month and
so I couldn't make any improvements in the plant. But, whenever it
broke down, I'd tie the old thing up with string, lamm it across the
back, and make it go again."
"In the meantime," continued Grandmother Brown, "I
thought constantly of my tow bachelor sons off in Kansas City. All
the reports we had of them were good. Frank had made friends with
an important official of the bank where he worked. And I was never
happier in my life than when a letter came to us from Mr. Karnes,
senior member of the law firm, Karnes, Holmes and Krauthoff, for
which Herbert worked. It was a beautiful letter, saying many fine
things about my son - how much they thought of him, and how
satisfactory his work was. I began to dream that my Herbie would be
a great lawyer some day. The boys were happy, too, in their social
"Mr. Karne's letter reached me not long before the
Christmas holidays. I made up my mind that, some way, I should make
the homecoming of the boys this Christmas memorable, make them feel
that their good work was appreciated by their parents as well as by
their employers. 'Let's give the boys gold watches for Christmas
present,' I said. 'Handsome watches.' And I reminded Dan'l that he
had given Will and Charlie valuable horses when they were young men,
that he had given Will the lots on which he had built his home and
Charlie the farming implements with which he began, that he had
given Lizzie more education than the others and helped her husband
when reverses came, that he had stood by Gus through his educational
experiments in paper making, but that he had made no gifts, so far,
to his youngest sons. Dan'l liked the idea when he thought about
it, but he thought that gold-filled watches would do! The idea!
Something that would wear off! I wouldn't agree to that at all.
Oftentimes, I think Dan'l used to argue that way just to see what I
would say. I said a plenty.
"We bought the watches an had them engraved. They
were solid gold, heavy and nice. Herbert has his watch yet and
Frank has his. And Dan'l said a filled watch would do!
"I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I listened
for their coming on the early-morning train. And then I thought I
heard just one step on the porch, instead of two. I roused Dan'l.
'There's something wrong, for only one boy's come home!' It was a
"But it didn't last. They were both there, but they
had walked together in such perfect unison that it sounded like one
step, Under their plates they found the watches. Oh, what a happy
time we had that day!
"I remember another time when Frank was back alone,
how he said to Dan'l: 'Now, Father, I want you to send Herb to New
York to the Columbia Law School. You can afford it easily enough,'
he said. And so he could! 'That's the kind of a thing he needs.
He will do you credit, will pay you back, many times over.' He
argued and argued, and I joined in. But Dan'l wouldn't listen. He
said that if boys wanted to know any special thing, they'd take hold
and find it out for themselves. But I argued that if children
showed a proper spirit of industry it was our duty to take hold and
help them. I thought that our boys had shown the proper spirit.
There was always strife between Dan'l and me on that subject, and I
don't regret it. Not long after this, Dan'l lost the bulk of what
he possessed in the Paper Trust, and after that he was powerless to
help his children when he would gladly have done so. The trouble
was, he lacked imagination. He was close in his dealings, but
strictly honest. He wanted what belonged to him, but nothing more.
People knew that, too, and he was much respected. He was very
generous, in his way, helping many, keeping open house for
everybody. he gave credit too easily. I helped him clear out our
old secretary about that time, and we actually had a bushel basket
of old, outlawed noted. Seems to me honesty ought never to be
outlawed. He trusted - trusted - trusted. In my opinion, the
cash-and-carry stores have the right principle. People better not
buy things till they have the money to pay for them.
"I was very happy over the boys' Kansas City
connections, and I was disappointed when they left there. Frank
went first. His kind banker friend died, and then he was offered a
position in Mexico which he thought best to accept. It filled me
with dismay, the thought of his going so far away. It is one of
those moments one remembers in life. Frank came home to tell me of
his decision. He came around the corner of the house as I was
setting out plants in a flower bed. 'I'm going to Mexico, Mother,'
he said, coming up behind me. How he startled me! And then, to
bring such news! I had to let him go, of course, but I grieved over
it. During his first years in Mexico I had many anxious hours,
because I didn't always know where he was, and often he was in more
or less danger, as I knew. He traveled about from one mining camp
to another, alone often, and sometimes to the least civilized parts
of the republic. I was afraid he might be killed or come to grief
"For a while, Herbert stayed on in Kansas City, but
he wasn't as happy as he had been at first. His special work in the
office was to be clerk and stenographer to L. C. Krauthoff, a very
able man from whom he learned a great deal. But he had made up his
mind that he did not want to be a lawyer. In the meantime, he was
offered what seemed to him like an opportunity to get on in railroad
circles. he left the law office and became private secretary,
first, to the traffic manager of a small railroad, later, to the
vice president of a big line. But he was never very happy in that
work, and I was much disturbed by such changes - Frank's going to
Mexico and Herbie's leaving the law firm for a railroad office. All
my fond hopes for them seemed threatened. Such anxieties are hard
on mothers. still, I know that Herbie didn't want to be a lawyer.
he said to me: 'I want to understand law, but I don't want to be a
lawyer. Lawyers have to take cases against their convictions.'
They are bound by tradition. Many of them have their heads on
backward. Herbie always wanted to work out new ways of doing
As I look over the letters Grandmother Brown wrote
that son, I realize how hard it must have been for her to alter her
dreams for him. About a month after the golden-wedding celebration,
she sent him a newspaper article entitled, "A College at Your
Fireside," which set forth the advantages of a certain
correspondence school. She urged him to return home. "You could
study here undisturbed," she wrote. "There is perfect quiet about
the house, and we would be so glad to do anything to help you."
"I couldn't persuade Herbert to come home and follow
my programme," continued Grandmother Brown. "Frank was writing from
Mexico suggesting that Herbert join him there and help him 'turn a
trick.' Frank had the idea that, together, they might work into
independence, one holding a job while the other prospected, Not
long after I wrote that letter, Herbert came home one day, saying
that he was on his way to New York, and that, perhaps when he got
back, he would resign his position and be off for Mexico."
"I think I know this part of your story perhaps
better than you do, Grandmother dear," said I. "Your Herbie came to
New York, where I was living then, and told me that he was thinking
of going to Mexico - that is, if I would promise to join him there
later on. I promised. The year before, I had seen you for the
first time. I think you were sixty-eight years old then. your hair
was quite white. But you stood very erect and you walked very
proudly. you had on a long white dress and you were walking across
the green lawn between your house and Will's, a very queenly figure.
I thought I should like to have you for a mother-in-law. I
promised Herbert to go to Mexico. The next year we were married,
and you were the handsomest lady at the wedding. When we left your
home in the early dawn of an autumn morning, 1897, you stood at the
door to watch us go. I remember how Herbert looked back, saying
mournfully, 'Every time I go away and look back to see her standing
there, looking after me that way, I'm afraid it is the last time,'
But we've kept coming back, and going away, and coming back again
for nearly thirty years now. And, thank God, you've been here every