Tracy Park, 6/11

April 2, 2007

Nine years pass. Jerry spells her name “Jerrie” now, which I think is kind of stupid, so I’m going to continue spelling it with a ‘y’. The spelling of her name in the book isn’t all that consistent anyway. She’s grown tall and graceful, and she’s very beautiful, but not spoiled. She’s nineteen and she’s about to graduate from Vassar. Harold is a graduate of Harvard, where he worked to support himself so he wouldn’t have to borrow any more than was necessary from Arthur. He was valedictorian of his class, and Jerry and Maude went to see him graduate.

Maude’s health isn’t so good. She went to Vassar when Jerry, Nina St. Claire, and Ann Eliza Peterkin did, but Maude’s not that bright, so pretty soon she left. She and her mother went abroad for a couple of years, but now they’re back home, and Maude is a bit of an invalid.

Jerry’s in love with Harold, which isn’t terribly surprising. Maude is also in love with Harold, and is really obvious about it, i.e. everyone knows but Harold. Harold is in love with Jerry, of course, but neither of them has said anything to the other about it, and Jerry thinks Harold loves Maude.

Arthur is still nuts, obsessing over Gretchen and funny smells. He’s paid for Jerry’s education, and shortly before she graduates, he comes to visit. He’s not coming to the actual ceremony because he hates crowds and the way they smell. He brings her a graduating dress, and she tries it on for him. They look in the mirror together, and for the first time Jerry is struck by a resemblance between their faces. She also has been remembering, lately, her life before she came to America, and a pale, ill face that did not belong to the woman found dead in the Tramp House. She questions him about Gretchen, but it only makes the buzzing in his head worse. Before he goes, he mentions that Harold and Maude are up to something, but he’s promised not to tell what it is. Then he goes home, and not long afterwards, he makes a trip to California, just for the hell of it.

Not a whole lot else has happened over the course of nine years. The imbecile Jack Tracy is dead, and Frank Tracy is prematurely white-haired, which he’s obviously brought on himself by worrying too much. Oh, and Arthur is teaching him German. Frank secretly plans to go to Germany and research Jerry’s birth some day.

Peterkin has built a huge new house with turrets and fourteen foot high ceilings. It’s called “Le Bateau”, and it’s furnished expensively and ostentatiously. Basically, where you see “Peterkin” you can substitute “vulgar bad taste”. Billy, who is under five feet, dresses like a dandy and stutters a lot, but really he’s a pretty sweet guy. Ann Eliza is nice, too, but she piles her bright red hair on top of her head in a horribly haphazard way because she thinks it makes her look original. Which it sort of does, I guess.

Jerry gets a letter from Harold saying that he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to make it to her graduation — he’s got a job to finish. Jerry is really upset, but at least she’s got other visitors: Tom Tracy, Billy Peterkin, Dick St. Claire, and Fred Raymond are all coming to see the three girls from Shannondale graduate. Tom, Dick, and Billy are all in love with Jerry, while Fred likes Nina St. Claire. Harold gives the boys money to buy a floral offering for Jerry from him, but mean Tom Tracy purposely buys an arrangement that isn’t very fresh. Tom gives Jerry a large but tasteful one, and Billy gives her one shaped like a heart. Poor Ann Eliza gets hardly any, and nothing from Tom, with whom she’s in love. After the ceremony, Jerry, who has too many flowers to carry home, gives Ann Eliza the flowers from Tom.

When Jerry gets home, she discovers why Harold and Maude didn’t go to Vassar: Harold’s been raising the roof of the cottage so that Jerry won’t bump her head on the ceiling anymore, and Maude’s been helping decorate. This, of course, makes Jerry even more convinced that they’re in love with each other, but she tries to be happy for them, and she does love her newly high-ceilinged room. Harold has painted it in blue and gray, Maude has donated some furniture, and Arthur has left a vase and a note that says that he’s off to California and he hopes to meet robbers in the Yosemite. Arthur is kind of awesome sometimes.

The next morning, Jerry — or, fine, Jerrie — gets up early and starts doing housework. Now that she’s home, she intends to make things much easier for Mrs. Crawford, who’s kind of old now. She goes into the shed to do laundry, and while she’s there, Tom Tracy comes to make an early morning call. Mrs. Crawford is like, “um…shouldn’t you receive him inside the house?” But Jerrie’s like “if he likes me, he can like me when I’m doing laundry.” And he does, although he finds the idea kind of disturbing. But Tom isn’t the only one in love with Jerrie, and before she’s done with the laundry, Dick and Billy have come over too. the St. Claires have Fred Raymond’s sister Marian staying with them, and Dick invites all the young people to a garden party they’re having for her that evening. The Peterkins aren’t supposed to be invited, but as Billy is right there when Dick invites Jerrie and the others, he has to extend the invitation to them, too. And he hardly hesitates, because Dick is a nice boy.

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