Merry Leaves for America
Merry Primrose Ramsay was almost seven years old. She was named Merry because her mother loved merry little girls and Primrose because she was born in the month of April when the primroses bloom in England.
Merry lived in England in the big city of London. When asked whom she lived with, she would reply, "I live with my mummy and daddy, Greggie and Molly and Annie." Greggie was a Scottie dog whose name was really MacGregor. Molly was a make-believe playmate and Annie was the cook.
When people asked Merry where she lived she would say, "I live at number eight Heartford Square." Then everyone knew that Merry lived in a house that faced a little park. Merry was glad she lived in a house on a square. She liked walking past the houses on one side of the square, then across the end of the square and down the other side. The houses were built of red brick and they all had white stone steps. They were very close together. Merry thought they looked like faces with their cheeks touching. The square was a cozy place to live.
But the nicest part about living on the square was the little park. All around the park there was a high iron railing. There was a gate at each end. The people who lived on the square had keys so that they could go in and out of the gates. There were flower beds and trees in the park. In the spring there were tulips in the flower beds. The paths were covered with pebbles and sometimes Merry would find a very pretty pebble. Then she would put it in her pocket and carry it home to show to Mummy.
There were benches in the park, too. On clear days there were always nurses sitting on the benches. They watched over the little children while they played. All of the nurses were called "Nanny." Merry had had a nanny when she was little but now that she was almost seven years old, she didn't need a nurse to watch her. She was old enough to take care of herself.
One afternoon Merry stood at the front window. It was February and it was raining. No one was in the park. The benches were shiny wet. The bare trees dripped. Tiny rivers ran between the pebbles in the paths. Merry pressed her nose against the windowpane. "Do you know what, Molly?" she said to her make-believe playmate. "I'm going to America. I'm going to America to stay with Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill and my cousin Jerry. You see, Molly, it's because of the war. Mummy says when people are selfish and afraid of each other they go to war and hurt each other. All of the boys and girls in my school have gone away from London. Mummy and Daddy are sending me to America until the war is all over. I'm going all by myself, too. Daddy can't go because he is doing very important work for the King. And Mummy can't go because England needs her, too. So I'm going alone."
Merry turned away from the window and began to set out her doll's tea set. When Greggie heard the rattle of the dishes, he came into the room. Greggie knew that where there are dishes there may be food. He never missed any if he could help it.
"Greggie, you are going to America, too," said Merry.
Greggie cocked one ear.
"And I'm going to take you, too, Molly. Do you think you will like to go to America?"
Just then the front door closed. Merry set a cup on the table and ran to the head of the stairs. Greggie tore along at her heels.
"Daddy!" she called. "Is that you, Daddy?"
"Right you are!" called Daddy.
Merry started down the stairs at a run. Halfway down, she stopped still. Daddy stood at the bottom of the stairs. He was wearing a soldier's uniform. Merry hadn't seen her daddy in a soldier's uniform before. He looked strange and different. Merry went down the last six steps very slowly. Her face was grave and her eyes were very big. When she reached the second step, Daddy took her in his arms. "How do you like me, little one?" he asked.
"All right," murmured Merry, "only you don't look like Daddy."
Daddy rubbed his cheek against Merry's. "Do I feel like Daddy?" he asked.
Merry hugged him very tight. "Yes," she said, "you scratch like Daddy." Then they both laughed.
The night before Merry was to leave for America, her mummy packed her bag. She put in all of Merry's winter clothes and all of her summer clothes, her underwear, and her stockings. She packed her winter pajamas and her summer nightgowns. On the very top she placed her warm dressing gown. Her shoes and her bedroom slippers were tucked in the side of the suitcase. Into a little rubber envelope, she put Merry's toothbrush and sponge. Merry sat on the bed and watched her. At last the lid was closed. Merry heard the lock snap shut.
"Mummy," said Merry, "do you think you could sleep in my bed tonight?"
"Yes, darling," said Mummy. "I'll sleep in your bed tonight."
Merry lay in her bed and waited for Mummy. She wondered why it took Mummy so long to get ready for bed. At last she came. She turned out the light beside the bed. Then she lay down beside her little girl. "Oh, Mummy!" cried Merry, "you have lain right on top of Molly!"
"Dear, dear!" said Mummy. "It is so hard for me to know where Molly is. Do you think she will mind very much?"
"Well, if you could lift up a little, she could get out," said Merry.
Mummy lifted up a little. "Now I hope Molly has found a comfortable spot," she said.
Merry snuggled into her mother's arms. "Mummy," she whispered, "do I have to go to America?"
"Yes, dear," replied Mummy.
"But why, Mummy?" asked Merry. "Don't you and Daddy want me here with you?"
"Well, you see, darling, Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill haven't any little girl and Daddy and I want to share our little girl with them."
"But you won't have any little girl while I am in America," said Merry.
"It won't be long, dear," said Mummy. "You will be back almost before I can say 'Jack Robinson.' What a lot you will have to tell Daddy and me."
Merry was quiet a long time. Mummy thought she was asleep but Merry was thinking. After a while she said, "Mummy, I'm not going to take Molly to America with me. I'm going to leave her with you to be your little girl."
"Oh, Merry!" said Mummy, hugging her very tight, "how sweet of you to want to leave Molly with me!"
Merry thought again for a long time. She was having a very hard time deciding something. At last she whispered, "I'll leave Greggie, too, if you want him."
"No, dear," replied Mummy, "you must take Greggie with you. I'll be very happy with Molly."
Copyright © 1942 by Harcourt, Inc.
Copyright renewed 1970 by Carolyn Haywood
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