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Tracy Park, 8/11

April 4, 2007

The next day, Jerrie gets a note from Anne Eliza, telling her about Tom and the sprained ankle and asking her to come around to lunch. After she’s been there a while, Tom shows up, mostly because Maude told him it would be polite. He means to stop by and ask after her, but when the maid tells her that he’s there, Ann Eliza asks him to come in, in spite of the fact that this is very inappropriate, especially considering that one of Ann Eliza’s feet is bare. Tom cheers up a lot when he sees that Jerrie is there, so he’s nice instead of bratty, and all three of them have a good time.

Mr. Peterkin is in the midst of a lawsuit brought against him by a manufacturer in a neighboring town, and he and Billy have been worrying about it a lot, as they should, since they’re in the wrong. The opposite side has subpoenaed Harold, who was working in Peterkin’s office when the events being disputed took place, and Billy talks to Jerrie about it as he drives her home from lunch. Billy says something about how Peterkin will be furious if Harold says anything damaging to his case. I guess it could be taken as a hint that Billy wants Harold to withhold information, but you’d really have to be looking for one, and Jerrie is, I guess, because she immediately gets all defensive. That’s when Billy pulls over and proposes to her.

Jerrie can tell that Billy is somehow more serious than the two boys who have already proposed to her, but she responds with a joke about their respective heights. It’s mean, and not the kind of thing Jerrie usually does, especially since Billy is really sensitive about his height. He’s hurt so much that he starts crying, and finally Jerry feels bad and tells him that next to Harold, Dick, and Arthur Tracy, she likes him the best of all the men she knows. Why isn’t Frank on that list? I feel like Frank ought to be on that list. Anyway, this proposal makes Jerrie much more unhappy than either of the others. She figures that Tom and Dick will fall in love with other people someday, but she’s sure that Billy never will.

Later that week, Harold goes to visit Maude. For some reason, he’s decided to talk to her about his feelings for Jerrie because he’s an idiot and doesn’t realize that Maude’s in love with him. He only gets halfway through his preliminary explanation that he has something important to talk to her about before Maude, who thinks he’s confessing his love for her, jumps in and tells him that she loves him too, and that even though she’s going to die, he’s made her last few days very happy. Oops. After that, he can’t really explain her mistake, and anyway he doesn’t get a chance, because Mrs. Tracy comes in and he has to leave.

It becomes more and more clear that Maude is going to die very soon. Circumstances conspire to make her believe that Harold is in love with her, and Jerrie comes and sits with her every day, so she’s not too unhappy. Meanwhile, Peterkin’s lawsuit is about to come off, and everyone’s really tense about it, including Harold. The morning before they go to court, Jerrie is sitting outside the Tramp House when Peterkin comes along. She’s daydreaming about Germany and Gretchen, and feeling kind of odd, when Peterkin, who has just found out that she refused Billy, starts verbally abusing both her and Harold. She gets mad and tells him to leave the Tramp House, which he does, but on the way out he pounds on the rickety old table with his fist and it falls to pieces.

When he’s gone, Jerrie looks around and finds that the destruction of the table has also widened a hole in the floor. Feeling around under the floor for a missing table leg, she finds something else: a small leather handbag. Inside are some papers that let her know for sure that Gretchen is her mother and a box containing what look like the diamonds Dolly Tracy lost about ten years previously.

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