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Tracy Park, 7/11

April 3, 2007

After the boys leave, Jerrie goes to Tracy Park to see Maude, who has been coughing up blood or something. When she gets there she runs into Frank, who is looking very prematurely aged these days. He takes her to Arthur’s room before Maude’s because he promised Arthur that he would visit Gretchen’s picture every day and tell her that Arthur will be coming back. I guess it’s true when people say that Frank is getting to be as crazy as his brother.

Then Jerrie sits with Maude for a while, and they talk. It becomes pretty obvious that Maude is going to die. Jerrie really loves Maude, and she feels so bad that she thinks she could give Harold up for this girl who may be her cousin.

Tom insists on walking Jerrie home. Now, on the way to the cottage is a square formed by four pine trees, and there’s a bench there. The Tracy kids used to play there, but the real reason I’m describing it is that Jerrie receives numerous proposals of marriage there. This is the first one. Tom asks Jerrie to sit down with him on the bench, and tells her that of all the girls he’s ever seen, she’s the prettiest — and he’s had a lot of opportunities for seeing girls. Someday, he tells her, he’ll inherit his uncle’s money and he’ll be a millionaire. He could have married the governor’s daughter, but he’d rather marry Jerrie. Jerrie asks him what would happen if Arthur turned out to have a kid somewhere, but Tom laughs it off, saying that if a daughter of Arthur’s showed up, he’d probably kill her. And know that we’ve all had the opportunity to hear what a rascal Tom is, Jerrie can refuse his proposal, telling him that she’ll never marry for money and that she doesn’t love him.

Later, at the St. Claires’ garden party, Tom acts as if nothing has happened. He claims Jerrie as his croquet partner, which is kind of mean of him because Ann Eliza invited him to be her partner first. Yeah, Tom’s an asshole sometimes. Anyway, everyone has a nice time, and when tea is served, Jerrie finds herself seated next to Marian Raymond, who tells her that she looks exactly like a portrait in the house the Raymonds rented in Wiesbaden. Jerrie realizes that this must be Gretchen, and questions Marian about it, but learns little. While everyone is talking about Wiesbaden, a messenger comes along and summons Billy to his father’s office. Billy asks Tom to see Ann Eliza home, which Tom finds infuriating — he’d hoped to walk Jerrie home. There’s nothing to be done, though.

By the time everyone is ready to go home, the sky is overcast. There’s a storm coming on. Tom walks Ann Eliza home. She’s terrified by the thunder and lightning, but that’s nothing next to Tom’s fear of getting his clothes wet. He takes her hand and they start to run, but Ann Eliza’s tight boots hurt her feet, and of course she can’t run as fast as Tom can, but he keeps pulling her forward, holding her wrist so tightly that there are bruises later. Then she falls and sprains her ankle, and seeing her in such an awful state makes Tom pity her and treat her much more gently. He carries her home, where her parents make a huge fuss, but Ann Eliza is much more stoic than one might expect. Tom is impressed by her pluck, and also by the size of her feet, which are very small.

Dick walks Jerrie home, and they also get caught in the rain. When they get to the bench under the pines, they take shelter there for a little while, and Jerrie recieves her second proposal. It’s much nicer than the first one. Dick isn’t snobbish, like Tom, and makes no mention of his family’s money or position. When she says she doesn’t love him, he asks if she might someday, or whether there’s someone else. She tells him that there’s someone else, but she feels terrible, because Dick is nearly as nice as Harold. They agree to still be friends, and Dick walks her the rest of the way home.

That’s the end of Jerrie’s day, and I’m kind of at the end of my day, so I’m going to stop there. In the nest installment, Billy Peterkin proposes.

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