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Making Allowances For Mamma
by [?]

Mr. Venable sat down next to Mary, and they talked of the sea, in which a few belated bathers were splashing, and of the hot and distant city, and finally of Mary’s work. These topics did not interest Mamma, who carried on a few gay, restless conversations with various acquaintances on the porch meanwhile, and retied her parasol bow several times.

Mamma, with her prettily arranged and only slightly retouched hair, her dashing big hat and smart little gown, her red lips and black eyes, was an extremely handsome woman, but Mr. Venable even now could not seem to move his eyes from Mary’s nondescript gray eyes, and rather colorless fair skin, and indefinite, pleasant mouth. Mamma’s lines were all compact and trim. Mary was rather long of limb, even a little GAUCHE in an attractive, unself-conscious sort of way. But something fine and high, something fresh and young and earnest about her, made its instant appeal to the man beside her.

“Isn’t she just the biggest thing!” Mamma said finally, with a little affectionate slap for Mary’s hand. “Makes me feel so old, having a great, big girl of twenty-three!”

This was three years short of the fact, but Mary never betrayed her mother in these little weaknesses. Mr. Venable said, not very spontaneously, that they could pass for sisters.

“Just hear him, will you!” said Mamma, in gay scorn. “Why there’s seventeen whole years between us! Ma’y was born on the day I was seventeen. My first husband–dearest fellow ever WAS–used to say he had two babies and no wife. I never shall forget,” Mamma went on youthfully, “one day when Ma’y was about two months old, and I had her out in the garden. I always had a nurse,–smartest looking thing you ever saw, in caps and ribbons!–but she was out, I forget where. Anyway our old Doctor Wallis came in, and he saw me, with my hair all hanging in curls, and a little blue dress on, and he called out, ‘Look here, Ma’y Lou Duval, ain’t you too old to be playin’ with dolls?'”

Mary had often heard this, but she laughed, and Mr. Venable laughed, too, although he cut short an indication of further reminiscence on Mamma’s part by entering briskly upon the subject of dinner. Would Mrs. Honeywell and Miss Bannister dine with him, in the piazza, dining-room, that wasn’t too near the music, and was always cool, and then afterward he’d have the car brought about–? Mary’s first smiling shake of the head subsided before these tempting details. It did sound so cool and restful and attractive! And after all, why shouldn’t one dine with the big, responsible person who was one of New York’s biggest construction engineers, with whom one’s mother was on such friendly terms?

That was the first of many delightful times. George Venable fell in love with Mary and grew serious for the first time in his life. And Mary fell in love with George, and grew frivolous for the first time in hers. And in the breathless joy that attended their discovery of each other, they rather forgot Mamma.

“Stealing my beau!” said the little lady, accusatively, one night, when mother and daughter were dressing. Mary turned an uncomfortable scarlet.

“Oh, don’t be such a little goosie!” Mrs. Honeywell said, with a great hug. And she artlessly added, “My goodness, Mary, I’ve got all the beaux I want! I’m only too tickled to have you have one at last!”

By the time the engagement, with proper formality, was announced, George’s attitude toward his prospective mother-in-law had shifted completely. He was no longer Mamma’s gallant squire, but had assumed something of Mary’s tolerant, protective manner toward her. Later, when they were married, this change went still further, and George became rather scornful of the giddy little butterfly, casually critical of her in conversations with Mary.

Mrs. Honeywell enjoyed the wedding as if she had been the bride’s younger sister now allowed a first peep at real romance.