Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Wanted–A Real Mother
by [?]

Mary King sat before the dressing-table in her bedroom holding in her hand a string of beads–pearls they were, but they showed signs of much wear, and as Mary looked at them her eyes blazed with anger.

To-morrow was her graduation day from the High School. All day she had been at the class picnic and she had had such a glorious time. They had danced and played; they had rowed on the lake and sung their school songs in the moonlight. She had been as happy as a girl could be, and to have it spoiled in this way was cruel.

Why should her mother give her a string of old beads for a graduation present? Other girls had wrist watches and pretty dresses and checks and all sorts of beautiful things. When they asked her what her mother’s gift had been, how could she say, “A string of old beads”? Mother would expect her to wear them at her graduation and how could she?

She had found them on her table when she had come into her room and with them was a note saying:

“Dear Mary:

“I waited for you to come home so that I could give you my gift, but it is so late and I am too tired to wait longer, so I will leave them for you. I could not buy you a real gift, so I have given you the dearest thing I have. Every bead has a story which some day I will tell you–perhaps on the day that you graduate from college, but not now. I hope you will love them as I do. I shall see them to-morrow on your pretty new dress. Good night, girlie. I hope you had a good time.


Why was mother so queer? All her life long it had been hard for Mary to have her mother so different. Her mother worked for Mr. Morse and so she could never bring her friends to their rooms lest she should annoy the Morses. Other girls’ mothers had pretty faces and her mother’s face was all red and cross-looking. Other girls’ mothers had pretty hair, but her mother had straight hair and little of it. She had tried to get her to wear false hair, but instead of doing it her mother had gone to her room and cried because Mary had suggested it. Other girls’ mothers let them wear pretty clothes, but hers were always plain, though they were always very neat. Most of the girls had fancy graduation dresses, but hers was only a little dimity that her mother had made–and now these dreadful beads were more than she could stand and she threw them on the bed in anger. She wished she had a real mother of whom she could be proud.

As she started to take down her long, wavy hair, she saw a letter in Mr. Morse’s handwriting on her desk. Perhaps this was a check for her graduation present, so she hastily tore it open. But no check dropped out. Instead, there was a long letter, and she sat down to read.

“My dear Mary,” it began. “A few days ago, I chanced to be on the beach when you were there with your friend, and I heard you say to her, ‘I wish my mother were as beautiful as yours. Mother can’t even go down the street with me for she drags her foot so that everybody turns and looks at us and it makes me feel so conspicuous. You must be very proud of your mother.’ So I have decided that for your graduation gift, I shall give you a story instead of the check that I intended to give you. The check can wait.”

“A story,” said Mary to herself. “That is worse than the old beads. What a house of queer people this is! Anyway, I am curious to see what sort of a story he could write.” So she read on.