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Making Allowances For Mamma
by [?]

Well, there was only one thing certain, Mary decided,–Mamma could not come to them. That would spoil all the summer they had been planning so happily. To picnic in the hot city with one beloved companion is one thing, to keep house there for one’s family is quite another. Mamma was not adaptable, she had her own very definite ideas. She hated a dimly lighted drawing-room, and interrupted Mary’s music–to which George listened in such utter content–with cheery random remarks, and the slapping of cards at Patience. Mamma hated silences, she hated town in summer, she made jolly and informal little expeditions the most discussed and tedious of events. If George, settling himself happily in some restaurant, suggested enthusiastically a planked steak, Mamma quite positively wanted some chicken or just a chop for herself, please. If George suggested red wine, Mamma was longing for just a sip of Pommerey: “You order it, Georgie, and let it be my treat!”

It never was her treat, but that was the least of it.

No, Mamma simply couldn’t come to them now. She would have to go to Miss Fox and the children. Myra wouldn’t like it, and Mamma always interfered with Miss Fox, and would have to take the second best bedroom, and George would probably make a fuss, but there was nothing else to do. It couldn’t be helped.

Sometimes in moments of less strain, Mary was amused to remember that it was through Mamma that she had met George. She, Mary, had gone down from, her settlement work in hot New York for a little breathing spell at Atlantic City, where Mamma, who had a very small room at the top of a very large hotel, was enjoying a financially pinched but entirely carefree existence. Mary would have preferred sober and unpretentious boarding in some private family herself, but Mamma loved the big dining-room, the piazzas, the music, and the crowds of the hotel, and Mary amiably engaged the room next to hers. They had to climb a flight of stairs above the last elevator stop to reach their rooms, and rarely saw any one in their corridors except maids and chauffeurs, but Mamma didn’t mind that. She knew a score of Southern people downstairs who always included her in their good times; her life never lacked the spice of a mild flirtation. Mamma rarely had to pay for any of her own meals, except breakfast, and the economy with which she could order a breakfast was a real surprise to Mary. Mamma swam, motored, danced, walked, gossiped, played bridge, and golfed like any debutante. Mary, watching her, wondered sometimes if the father she had lost when a tiny baby, and the stepfather whose marriage to her mother, and death had followed only a few years later, were any more real to her mother than the dreams they both were to her.

On the day of Mary’s arrival, mother and daughter came down to the wide hotel porch, in the cool idle hour before dinner, and took possession of big rocking-chairs, facing the sea. They were barely seated, when a tall man in white flannels came smilingly toward them.

“Mrs. Honeywell!” he said, delightedly, and Mary saw her mother give him a cordial greeting before she said:

“And now, George, I want you to know my little girl, Ma’y,–Miss Bannister. Ma’y, this is my Southe’n boy I was telling you about!”

Mary, turning unsmiling eyes, was quite sure the man would be nearer forty than thirty, as indeed he was, grizzled and rather solid into the bargain. Mamma’s “boys” were rarely less; had he really been at all youthful, Mamma would have introduced him as “that extr’ornarily intrusting man I’ve been telling you about, Ma’y, dear!”

But he was a nice-looking man, and a nice seeming man, except for his evidently having flirted with Mamma, which proceeding Mary always held slightly in contempt. Not that he seemed flirtatiously inclined at this particular moment, but Mary could tell from her mother’s manner that their friendship had been one of those frothy surface affairs into which Mamma seemed able to draw the soberest of men.