Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue

Overview

In England his novels are always bestsellers, yet for the last decade this American literary master has not been published in his own country. No longer! Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue displays the same plainspoken power that has dazzled Purdy's devoted audience for decades. The story of a woman's struggle to come to terms with a life seemingly emptied of meaning by her estranged daughter's death, it explores themes that Purdy has long made his own: the mysterious connections between creativity and self ...
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Overview

In England his novels are always bestsellers, yet for the last decade this American literary master has not been published in his own country. No longer! Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue displays the same plainspoken power that has dazzled Purdy's devoted audience for decades. The story of a woman's struggle to come to terms with a life seemingly emptied of meaning by her estranged daughter's death, it explores themes that Purdy has long made his own: the mysterious connections between creativity and self destruction; the human alchemy that binds us even as it forces us apart; the paradox of loss that leads ultimately to renewed life and love. Its portraits of two very different women -- a bereaved, bewildered mother and the artistic, passionate, doomed daughter she is still striving to understand -- are sketched in deceptively simple lines that finally, magically depict a complex world filled with characters observed in such utterly particular detail that they achieve a resonant universality that every reader will recognize.
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Editorial Reviews

Bruce Bawer
Purdy is a powerful writer whose work deserves a far wider readership in his own country than it has enjoyed in recent years....[Purdy is a] singular American visionary. -- New York Times Book Review
The New York Times
"[A] singular American visionary."
Tampa Tribune
"A rich tour de force by one of America's quiet stealth geniuses."
Margot Mifflin
Purdy's writing is delightful, if a bit overripe, but his story is a charmingly loopy collection of arbitrary subplots forced to advance Carrie's late-life epiphanies.
Entertainment Weekly
New York Times Book Review
[A] singular American visionary.
Tampa Tribune
A rich tour de force by one of America's quiet stealth geniuses.
Library Journal
This is a strange, deeply unsatisfying novel by the well-known Purdy, his first since Out of the Stars. Gertrude, the daughter of the narrator, Carrie, is already several years dead at the story's beginning. Evidently an acclaimed artist of male nudes, Gertrude was also an alcoholic and sex addict. Although identities are unclear, Carrie and her husband, Daddy, appear to be an elderly couple grappling with declining health, emotional alienation, and overwhelming guilt at having failed as parents. They may also be losing their grip on reality, which could explain the dreamlike course of the narrative. To resolve her grief, Carrie takes off on a series of encounters with some unbelievable characters: her gold-digger sister-in-law, Gwendolyn; Spenser scholar Evelyn Mae, who wears 19th-century gowns and drives an ancient electric car; a seemingly ageless lawyer who was one of Gertrude's lovers and with her when she died; and a bizarre homeopathic doctor named Tryphena.

The book is written in a ponderous prose sprinkled with cliches. -- Reba Leiding, James Madison University Library

Margot Mifflin
Purdy's writing is delightful, if a bit overripe, but his story is a charmingly loopy collection of arbitrary subplots forced to advance Carrie's late-life epiphanies. -- Entertainment Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Purdy (The Candle of Your Eyes, 1987) comes home with his first American publication in more than a decade, a stupendous elegy on the silences of love. In suburban Chicago in an indeterminate past, probably the '30s. Victor and Carrie Kinsella move through the bric-a-brac of their North Shore lives without much evidence of purpose or pleasure. Prosperous enough in an old-money sort of way, they grumble at each other as old couples are wont to do and spend most of their time talking at cross-purposes or trading accusations.

Their daughter Gertrude, now some years dead, was an artist whose bohemian rebelliousness kept them both well at bay during her short life and now makes her absence all the more difficult to bear, especially for Carrie. 'Behind all this tame, insipid life we were leading on Stony Island Avenue, there was something after all mysterious, strange, and yes frightening.' And Carrie means to find out what it is. To begin with, she discovers that her husband, 'Daddy' as she calls him. is secretly compiling a massive and nonsensical record of his childhood and youth, entitled 'Index of Forgotten Items.' She leaves Daddy, moves in with a friend, and persuades Daddy's lawyer Cy Mellerick to show her her daughter's secret world. 'Around me I saw a terrible Chicago I had previously barely glanced at,' which in actual fact was a Chicago of passions: of jazz and painting and liquor and sex. 'A city of fearful energy and confusion, ceaseless change and sunless sky.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688172268
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.93 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Daddy is very peevish and irritable. He thinks I may be writing something about Gertrude. I, who seldom had the patience to write a postcard to anyone, and of course more trouble writing a letter. All I do is jot down little notes-recollections of Gertrude. Daddy complained once I sat up late scribbling. "Come to bed, Carrie, like a good wife and helpmeet."

Daddy is failing. Oh, is he ever. What will I do when he is gone? And the chilling thought came to me like someone whispering behind my armchair: You will write down everything you can remember, Carrie, about Gertrude, your daughter, Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue, Chicago..

We never got on, Gertrude and I. Yet I believe we loved one another. I often sit all day thinking of my own failings. Daddy knows this and it makes him even more irritable and bad-tempered. "You should take up your music again," he scolds.

He and I both sang once in the church choir, that is where we met, in fact. And we also sang for a while in the chorus of the Chicago Opera, oh so many years ago I shiver to recall.

Daddy found some of my notes about Gertrude. To my surprise it did not make him too angry. But he would not say what he thought. Daddy's lips now form one very thin bloodless line. The doctor mentioned his pale lips, and when the doctor mentions anything it means there's something wrong. He never mentions anything good after his examination.

"Daddy will be leaving me," I keep saying, and my voice chokes. (I do talk to myself more and more.)

And when Daddy goes, how strange, there will only be Gertrude to occupy my thoughts with.

She was not a beautiful girl. Her chin was too pointed.I even once thought of plastic surgery, for the rest of her face was quite lovely with beautiful large green eyes, and lovely Titian-colored hair. Her skin would have been more pleasing had she not been such an inveterate sun-bather. It was her body that attracted the men. And it was men that occupied most of her time when she was not painting her peculiar oil portraits, portraits which now hang in many of the world's museums. I never liked them. I still do not. I am only responsive to the Old Masters, but as she once said to me, "That's because you don't even know how to look at them."

I sometimes think she had so many fellows because it was her way of spiting me.

Daddy and I never discuss her penchant. It was the word Daddy once used for Gertrude's many love affairs.

And it was from one of her many boyfriends that I heard used the phrase one-night stands.

"All you are good for is one-night stands, Gertrude," I heard this young man say to her as I was about to rap on her studio door. They heard somebody outside and I scurried away. I think Gertrude knew it was me. I was not eavesdropping (she later accused me of this), I was about to knock, but couldn't bear to let her know I had heard what I had heard. She thought I did not know what she did when she was not before her easel. Men men men. She could not get enough of men. Daddy knew it, but I think Daddy has this great gift I do not possess, he can shut his eyes to almost everything he does not want to think about.

It was Daddy who persuaded me at the beginning of our courtship to attend the Plymouth Brothers Church, but I was a poor believer.

I don't think Daddy knows he is failing. And I don't think as a result that I know he is. He looks despite the mask of age over his face like a young boy at times. When I note that youthfulness on his face he stirs and gazes at me with a troubled frightened expression.

"What is it, Carrie," he will say. "What is on your mind?"

"Nothing at all, Daddy," I always reply. "Don't you worry now.

He smiles then a grim smile. We both know things are changing.

Copyright © 1997 by James Purdy

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First Chapter

Chapter One

                           Daddy is very peevish and irritable. He thinks I may be writing something about Gertrude. I, who seldom had the patience to write a postcard to anyone, and of course more trouble writing a letter. All I do is jot down little notes--recollections of Gertrude. Daddy complained once I sat up late scribbling. "Come to bed, Carrie, like a good wife and helpmeet."

    Daddy is failing. Oh, is he ever. What will I do when he is gone? And the chilling thought came to me like someone whispering behind my armchair: You will write down everything you can remember, Carrie, about Gertrude, your daughter, Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue, Chicago.

    We never got on, Gertrude and I. Yet I believe we loved one another. I often sit all day thinking of my own failings. Daddy knows this and it makes him even more irritable and bad-tempered. "You should take up your music again," he scolds.

    He and I both sang once in the church choir, that is where we met, in fact. And we also sang for a while in the chorus of the Chicago Opera, oh so many years ago I shiver to recall.

    Daddy found some of my notes about Gertrude. To my surprise it did not make him too angry. But he would not say what he thought. Daddy's lips now form one very thin bloodless line. The doctor mentioned his pale lips, and when the doctor mentions anything it means there's something wrong. He never mentions anything good after his examination.

    "Daddy will be leaving me," I keep saying, and my voice chokes. (I do talk to myself more and more.)

    And when Daddy goes, how strange, there will only be Gertrude to occupy my thoughts with.

    She was not a beautiful girl. Her chin was too pointed. I even once thought of plastic surgery, for the rest of her face was quite lovely with beautiful large green eyes, and lovely Titian-colored hair. Her skin would have been more pleasing had she not been such an inveterate sun-bather. It was her body that attracted the men. And it was men that occupied most of her time when she was not painting her peculiar oil portraits, portraits which now hang in many of the world's museums. I never liked them. I still do not. I am only responsive to the Old Masters, but as she once said to me, "That's because you don't even know how to look at them."

    I sometimes think she had so many fellows because it was her way of spiting me.

    Daddy and I never discuss her penchant. It was the word Daddy once used for Gertrude's many love affairs. And it was from one of her many boyfriends that I heard used the phrase one-night stands.

    "All you are good for is one-night stands, Gertrude," I heard this young man say to her as I was about to rap on her studio door. They heard somebody outside and I scurried away. I think Gertrude knew it was me. I was not eavesdropping (she later accused me of this), I was about to knock, but couldn't bear to let her know I had heard what I had heard. She thought I did not know what she did when she was not before her easel. Men men men. She could not get enough of men. Daddy knew it, but I think Daddy has this great gift I do not possess, he can shut his eyes to almost everything he does not want to think about.

    It was Daddy who persuaded me at the beginning of our courtship to attend the Plymouth Brothers Church, but I was a poor believer.

    I don't think Daddy knows he is failing. And I don't think as a result that I know he is. He looks despite the mask of age over his face like a young boy at times. When I note that youthfulness on his face he stirs and gazes at me with a troubled frightened expression.

    "What is it, Carrie," he will say. "What is on your mind?"

    "Nothing at all, Daddy," I always reply. "Don't you worry now."

    He smiles then a grim smile. We both know things are changing.

    "I am surprised," he began today at the breakfast table, "surprised you spend so much time going over Gertrude's effects."

    "Oh, it only passes the time," I tried to solace him.

    "Eight hours is a long time for that," he quipped.

    "There was a lot to Gertude's life we know nothing about, Daddy," I finally remarked just for something to say.

    "Don't delve, Carrie, whatever you do. Please don't. Let the dead rest in peace."

    I suddenly broke into tears.

    "Why, Carrie, what have I said to make you sob. I ask you!"

    "Nothing that you said, Daddy," I went on.

    I felt I was doing wrong, but I could not help myself. If Daddy was not failing perhaps I could not be delving into Gertrude's life, and especially her young men.

    Once when he was in one of his brighter moods, he said, "You forget, Carrie, that the young men our Gertrude knew would not be young today."

    "Oh, I know, Daddy," I replied.

    "But you don't act like you know," Daddy went on, and he took out his pipe against doctor's orders, and lit it. I said nothing about his disobeying medical instruction. Indeed I welcomed the sweet tobacco fragrance.

    "They would be old, most of them," Daddy returned now to the mention of Gertrude's beaux.

    "Oh, Daddy, you act as if I was going to run after them."

    "You're seeking information, Carrie. But why?"

    I tried to think up an excuse, but could not.

    "Go ahead, tell me, why don't you."

    "Oh, they know things about her, Daddy, we never dreamed of."

    "Carrie, Carrie, you act like my little girl."

    "I wish I was," I replied. "I am so wretched, so very wretched."

    I should not have said that. It brought Daddy up with a start. I could see him trying to garner up his energy to say something to encourage me.

    Finally he said, "You have to do what you can do, for look at me, would you, just look."

    "Don't speak that way, Daddy, please."

    "Just look at what has happened to me, Carrie, I am not me any more."

    "You are to me," I almost shouted. "Yes, you are."

    "Time certainly plays a joke on one," he spoke more quietly now and blinked his eyes.

    "Let me take your pipe, Daddy, for it's gone out."

    "All right," he said in a put-on cross tone. "Do what you want to. You will anyhow. Visit them if you want to. Why mind me."

    "Visit whom, Daddy, for heaven's sake."

    "The young men who are now old."

    "Oh, go on. Where would I find them? They may be dead, too. Who knows?"

    "Some of them would be around," Daddy reflected. "And I know you need a pastime. When I look in the mirror I always say, Carrie needs someone more than me to take her time up with. So, visit them. See if I care. You seem to forget that I am ten years older than you, Carrie. Time has a way of doing with us what it pleases."

    "I never think of you as older."

    "Well, maybe then you should think again."

    We sat then very quietly together and almost content.

    "Oh, Daddy," I said as I turned on the evening lights, "so you think I should go look for the young men who were her beaux!"

    "You should get out of the house. One excuse is as good as another. But I have to grin when I think you are going to be a detective."

    "A detective," I pretended to be indignant. "How can you say such a thing even in jest?"

    "Searching out the lost lovers!" He laughed his old deep laugh, and I felt almost happy then. It was like long ago when we were young married people.

*

The next day I began going through what Daddy called Gertrude's effects. But instead of finding anything of value my hands came across some old photos of Daddy when he was courting me. I was stuck dumb by the photographs. Daddy looked far more handsome than I ever remembered him. His eyes, especially, were to me the most beautiful of any man's I had ever seen. And though the photo was black and white, it caused me to remember that Daddy's eyes had a real gold tinge to them. But even back then I noticed his face was more heavily lined than a young man's of twenty or so usually is. And today Daddy's deep lines are so pronounced one feels they could lay a finger in any one of them.

    I can hardly explain the deep depression which fell upon me as I looked at those photographs. I hurried with them to a seldom-used chiffonier and hid them away in a heavy wooden shoe box.

    Daddy noticed something was wrong.

    "What have you found now snooping around," he wondered. Against doctor's orders he was drinking a huge cup of black coffee. I said nothing for awhile until I heard his sharp "Well? What have you found."

    "I found Gertrude's wedding ring," I lied. (Actually I had come across it the day before and had quickly put it away in the same chiffonier where Daddy's youthful photos now rested.)

    "And that depresses," he asked. He knew I was lying and I don't know why I was telling an untruth. Somehow I could not bring myself to tell him about his photos for I knew he would want to see them, and when he saw himself in his wonderful youthfulness what might it not bring on. A relapse, I was afraid.

    "You have secrets," he spoke almost inaudibly, mournfully.

    "No, Daddy," I responded. "Not real secrets."

    "I forgive you, Carrie." He finished his cup of coffee.

*

That morning we rented a limousine and drove through Jackson Park. At the end of the ride Daddy said he wanted to get out and have a look at Lake Michigan. The driver helped him out. I stayed inside the car, and suddenly burst into a kind of tempest of crying.

    When Daddy came back he stared at me for a full minute, and then taking out a handkerchief from his breast pocket he handed it to me for drying my face. One of Daddy's ways is he always has a large collection of pure Irish linen handkerchiefs. He is never without one.

    I had to bite my lips, however, as I dried my face not to begin crying even harder and drenching the handkerchief with my tears.

*

Then there was the affair of the intercepted letter. That was the beginning of everything changing.

    "Do you want me to mail your letter?" I inquired when I saw it was lying on the little hall table, and had not been posted for a couple of days.

    "Let Maud post it when she comes." (Maud was our cleaning woman.)

    "But this is Friday night, Daddy. Maud won't be here until late Monday."

    "There's no rush for it," Daddy muttered. "It's not important."

    "But I'm going out now for some groceries, Daddy. I can post it."

    "Suit yourself," he spoke in an angry uncivil tone.

    "Why, Daddy!" I showed my hurt.

    "Post it, damn it, then. Post it! I told you `tweren't important. Or tear the damned thing open if you like. Now leave me alone, Carrie, I'm trying to snooze here by the grate fire."

    I did not reply. But when I took the letter in my hand, I saw it had not been properly sealed. The contents of the letter came out in my open hands. I could not help reading it. I mean I could not stop my eyes from taking in the short contents.

    The letter was to Daddy's attorney, Hal Winterrowd:

Dear Hal,
    Under no circumstances confide in Carrie about our daughter's past involvements. She would worry herself ragged, and then her worry would compound itself on me. Carrie's very close herself to a nervous breakdown. I am not either in the best of health. Mum's the word. As my most trusted confidant, remember: silence.
Yours,
Vic Kinsella

    I stood motionless, the open letter in my hand.

    "Are you still in the hall, Carrie?"

    "Yes, Vic," I replied, using the name he had used in his letter to Mr. Winterrowd.

    "Well, close the door when you go out. I feel a draught. And what's this tack of calling me Vic all of a sudden?"

    "All right, Daddy. I'm going now."

    I put the letter deep in my outside coat pocket.

    "How will I seal the blamed thing," I spoke out loud to myself.

    "Carrie," he shouted.

    "Yes, Daddy."

    "Are you speaking to me or mumbling to yourself?"

    "Myself, Daddy. I'm going now."

    Outside I wondered what to do about sealing the letter. I felt guilty as sin. But more than guilty I felt hurt and mad. And what did he mean I was near a breakdown! I saw all at once he respected and confided more in a common lawyer than his wife of forty years. Some tears stood in both the corners of my eyes. But even more than this hurt was a sickening apprehension Mr. Winterrowd and he knew more about Gertrude than I had ever been allowed to share in. I recalled now Daddy's anger when he found me going through Gertrude's effects.

    "Gertrude had a secret. Many secrets." I heard myself talking to myself, and the postal clerk smiled as he overheard me.

    "Of course we can seal the letter, Mrs. Kinsella," he was saying. "Give it to me." He put some thick yellow paste where it had come open.

    "Oh, thank you so much," I told the clerk. "My husband forgot to properly ..."

    I did not finish my sentence. I knew the postal clerk had heard me talking to myself, and I blushed for the first time in I don't know when.

    The clerk took the sealed letter, and it was gone.

    A nervous breakdown! I almost shouted the words as I reached the street. He has his nerve to say such a thing.

    A smart not so much of sorrow but slow rage came to my eyes.

    I felt Daddy had betrayed me. I felt he did not love me. And I was to my astonishment jealous that he felt something also for Gertrude he had never felt for me. That in fact he loved Gertrude more than he loved me.

    The man in the post office knew something was wrong with that letter. Oh I felt I should begin then keeping a diary as Gertrude had, but then Daddy or somebody else would read it, and think I was crazy.

    And now I must tell that Gertrude's own diary was not like any diary you have perused or peeked into. It was largely, queer as it may seem, a collection of names, addresses, and odd half sentences like:

Pratt has very pronounced sideburns which give off the faint perfume of lily of the valley.

    Of course I must keep in mind Gertrude was in her day a famous painter and used live models.

    So I went on trying to explain these haphazard disconnected comments she had written like this:

His face had the texture of an overripe sunflower head.

or:

The broken nails on his sinewy toes cried out for a sculptor, not a painter.

    "Daddy must never see into Gertrude's diary," I was speaking aloud again now to myself. But let me correct the term diary. It was not a diary at all. It was well, why not say it, a book of codes. Unspoken, never to be uttered, half-finished notes to herself like someone talking in sleep or in the shadow of death.

    Many years before I found my mother had kept all her notes to the milkman, such as:

Two quarts of your farm-fresh buttermilk. Don't forget either the pint of smearcase you promised last Thursday, and please, would you seal the bottle more securely.

    Oddly enough Gertrude's jottings in her big maroon leather book reminded me of my poor mother's notes to the milkman, and what surprised me in my mother's case was she kept these notes to the milkman in a little drawer of her kitchen cabinet. Why did she keep notes when they were no longer of any use to the milkman or her. I had always wondered. And now, why had my Gertrude left these half-finished, usually unintelligible, sentences for whose ever eyes they would fall on.

    But she must have meant the book to be destroyed!

    Just before her last hours she had left word something was to be destroyed.

    For a long time after reading "His iron nipples gave me a vision that has never left me" I was afraid to go on reading her diary.

    "Mama, you are so sheltered, dear heart," Gertrude had once told me, and then she kissed my hand.

    "What do you mean by that," I wondered. "You see things," she said, "like a young girl of ages ago who has never ventured out of the front door."

    I laughed uproariously over this comment, and Gertrude joined in.

    "Did you post the letter?" I now heard Daddy's voice.

    "Of course, Daddy! What do you think I am? Would I throw a letter of yours in the dust bin?"

    "Good Lord, what a peculiar remark to make to your husband."

    "You and that Hal Winterrowd," I said. "I declare!" But I spoke too low probably for Daddy to hear.

*

"Do you miss Gertrude," I asked Daddy as I was finishing manicuring his nails. Daddy cannot use his right hand very well, and perhaps even less his left one. There were two things Daddy always insisted on with regard to his toilet. He shaved daily (he had rather a heavy beard), and he kept his hands in an immaculate condition for a businessman. They did not have a manicured look for Daddy prided himself on his masculine appearance, but they looked handsome. Now he cannot of course tend very well to these things. Our servant, Maud, shaves him sometimes, but more often a young Greek barber comes and does this.

    "Why do you ask me such a thing," Daddy pounced on me and drew his left hand out of my grasp.

    I had almost forgotten what I had asked him, there was such a long lapse of time after I had put the question to him.

    "Do I miss her," he repeated my inquiry. "What nonsense women talk!"

    "That is not nonsense, Daddy, and you know it."

    "Well, do you miss her," he almost roared at me, and began drying his hands. After a while he lowered his voice a bit to say, "Gertrude has been dead two years now."

    "It seems a hundred, Daddy. To me, of course."

    "To tell the truth, Gertrude was not easy in my company," he spoke in that strange faraway voice he used now. "She had many outside interests in any case, whatever she may have felt for us."

    "What do you think she felt for us, Daddy?" I began putting away the manicuring set.

    "There you go again, that blamed talk all you women have!"

    Grinning slightly, he said, "She was a very active person," and then surprisingly enough he blushed. I stared at him so hard he blushed even more furiously.

    "Gertrude did not confide in me, Daddy. I tried time and again to win her confidence, but to no avail."

    "Do you know what it was, Carrie?" He spoke in an almost loving, ever so soothing manner. "She was devoted entirely to her painting. Her painting was her life, not us."

    "Gertrude painted from life." I spoke now like an unwilling witness in a court trial.

    I saw immediately that what I had said annoyed Daddy. He looked at me with fierce wonderment and almost terror.

    "Could you explain what you really mean, Carrie," he mumbled, and he did not look now in my direction.

    "Why, she told me time and again she painted from life, Daddy. Behind the closed doors of her studio." I was lying and he knew I lied, why Gertrude never said anything to me about her painting or the young men who posed for her. I got this particular information from a gentleman who was viewing her paintings in a museum show.

    "You mean, don't you, she used live models," Daddy prompted. "As any artist does."

    "As any artist does!" I flared up. "Gertrude was not any artist. I'm surprised to hear you say such a thing."

    He painstakingly took off his glasses now and looked at me, and in that look for a brief moment I saw the golden eyes of his young manhood, and I could not help making a kind of brief sobbing sound.

    "We can't understand artists, Carrie," he mused, still gazing at me. "Certainly I don't."

    "Where do you suppose she got her calling, Daddy?" I began carrying out the water in the basin to a little lavatory in the next room. I listened to the water gurgling down the drain, my back to Daddy.

    "She would have to go and paint," he sighed. "At least we weren't fools enough to stop her. What good would it have done? Gertrude always went her own way in the end. She had a strong will."

    "How right you are there, Daddy." I could not resist the impulse now to go over and kiss him right above his eyes.

    He smiled then and tried to take my hand in his, but he was not able to. I pressed his bad hand gently, and his lips moved in a half-smile.

    Then a change occurred.

    When I heard Daddy say the words "I don't think I'll go with you this morning for our drive, Carrie," I felt as if a hand had clutched my throat and would not let go. He was not looking at me as he said this or he might have noticed the effect his words were having on me. But when I said nothing in return, he looked up and after mumbling a bit, he managed to get out, "You'll enjoy getting a little change of scenery in any case!"

    "But I've never taken the ride without you, Daddy, you know that."

    I tried to keep my voice calm and my hands quiet but I could do neither.

    "The motion of the car," he began, "it's not good for me now."

    "But why didn't you tell me, Daddy? We don't have to take the ride if it makes you feel bad, for heaven's sake. And besides, why should I go driving alone?"

    "Because I want you to, Carrie. It's you who needs the ride."

    "I?"

    "Cooped up here day and night with a sick man, for crying out loud. Go and enjoy it. Go to Washington Park, too, why don't you? Do you know Washington Park has a thousand acres, including woodlands and more than a few lagoons, and statues of war heroes? You could get out, Carrie, and take a short stroll."

    "Daddy, Daddy, you know perfectly well it is not safe to walk there."

    He did not hear me.

    The bell rang. It was the driver.

    He was a different driver from the one who usually called for us. He silently helped me on with my coat.

    I felt then that I was going on a long journey. I had never had such a feeling of bereavement. I could not believe Daddy's excuse that the car made him queasy. But what was it, then?

    "Take good care of Mrs. Kinsella," I heard Daddy's voice instructing the driver.

    When I was seated in the roomy back of the limousine, I remembered I had not said good-bye to him.

    "What did you say your name was," I asked the new driver.

    "Marius," came his answer and he tipped his cap. "Where would you like to go, ma'am?"

    "Didn't Mr. Kinsella tell you where," I inquired.

    "He did, ma'am, yes."

    I said nothing, my thoughts were back with Daddy.

    "Washington Park then, ma'am?"

    I nodded in agreement, and Marius started the motor.

    Coming back from my drive, I found Daddy seated in the same chair he had occupied when I left.

    When I went over to greet him, I realized he had completely forgotten I had ever been away.

    "I have been thinking, Carrie," he began.

    I encouraged him with a smile to go on.

    "At my time of life," Daddy began hesitantly, "there seems to be left only diversion, what they call killing time. The diversions which fall to my lot are not anything

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