The Luck of the Dudley Grahams As Related in Extracts from Elizabeth Graham's Diary
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Title: The Luck of the Dudley Grahams
As Related in Extracts from Elizabeth Graham's Diary
Author: Alice Calhoun Haines
Release Date: June 10, 2018 [eBook #57301]
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THE LUCK OF THE DUDLEY GRAHAMS
New York, Wednesday, November 26.
We are the Dudley Grahams,—four childrenand a mother. We are very poorand keep a boarding-house; not because we likeboarders, but because when dear father died athree thousand dollar life assurance and thishouse were our only “available assets,” as UncleGeorge, who was executor, explained: “and soyou must take boarders.” We do; but it isn’talways pleasant.
The three thousand dollars did not last long,either; for there were a great many debts to bemet that nobody had known anything about, andwe had to have the library repapered and a newcarpet in the hall, to impress the people who cameto look for rooms. “We must be very polite andcharming, too,” said Ernie, “and talk as hard aswe can all the time, and then perhaps they won’tnotice how shabby the rest of the things are.”But I fancy they did; because it was over twomonths before we could get anybody to stop withus, and the money in the bank grew less and less,while Uncle George grew more grim and disapproving,and said that dear father had been“criminally careless,” and that no man should bepermitted to have a family, if he did not knowenough to provide for it. But, at last, MissBrown came; and then Mrs. Hudson and theHancocks, and now we are really beginning toget along.
Father was Uncle George’s only brother. Hewas an inventor, and a true genius; but, unfortunately,nobody ever discovered this, exceptjust us. He knew all about air-currents, thecontractile bladders of fish, and the flight of birds.There is a great, ghostly, flying-machine in theworkshop in the attic with dusty yellow sails,and a really wonderful motor. Haze, who sleepsin the workshop since he was obliged to give uphis room to the boarders, often dreams that he istaking trips at night. He says the dreams arequite horrible, and calls them “nightmares”; butif only dear father had lived to perfect the machine,we are sure it would have been a success.And that would have been so pleasant, for fathernever had any successes, except just once,—whichwe did not profit by, as I will tell later.
Haze is my chum. He is fifteen, and I amseventeen; but sometimes we feel a hundred, becausethere are so many things to worry about.Dearest mother never worries. She is too Irishfor that;—all she cares for, she says, is that herchildren shall be happy, and good, and clever, andhave everything they want. Somehow she seemsto believe that we are what she wishes us to be,too,—so that one would feel ashamed to appeardiscontented. But, oh, if you love your familythe way I do, it is hard, hard, hard to be poor!
However, to return to our mutton,—in thisinstance Haze,—his real name is John Hazard,though he is never called John or Jack, only Hazard,or Haze, or Hazey, especially the last two,because they fit so well. For, though he is veryclever and half through High School already, heis not a bit practical, never sees what goes onabout him, and is always forgetting things. Hedoes not care about athletics, either. He hasn’tthe build, he says (his legs being too thin), northe time nor the money. He is in his Junior yearthis term, the youngest in his class, and at presenthe is cramming like mad, so that he can take thefinal examinations next fall, and “begin to helpthe family.” That means giving up college, hisfondest dream. It is mighty noble of Hazey;but, I must confess, not at all becoming. Hisface seems to grow smaller day by day, and hiseyes, behind his goggly glasses, bigger. DearHaze! he doesn’t even have time to talk to meany more, and that is why I thought of starting adiary. My cousin Meta has kept one for over ayear,—a dainty little volume with gold clasps anda red morocco binding. This is just an ugly oldaccount book of father’s that I found in the workshop.The first few pages are full of the mostamazing aërial computations; but there is plentyof room left for writing,—and one must havesomebody to confide in!
After Hazard comes Ernestine. She is twelve,and is frequently called Ernie,—which namesuits her just as well as Haze’s names do him;for she is really more of a boy than a girl, wethink, despite her charming blue eyes and rose-leafcomplexion. Ernie is very, very pretty, hassweet ways and a really lovely disposition; but,for all this, she is rather a trying child, for she iscontinually getting into scrapes, tearing herfrocks, breaking the furniture, etc.,—and shealways means so well that it is hard to scoldher.
Geof is Ernestine’s chum, just as Hazard ismine. He is Uncle George’s son, but so muchmore like a brother than a cousin that I am goingto describe him here. He is fourteen years old,and the direct opposite of Haze in nearly everyway. He is a handsome fellow, big for his age,and rather sullen sometimes. That, I think, isbecause he is not happier at home. He goes to afashionable school, plays football and hockey,and is perfectly hopeless in his studies. UncleGeorge maintains he could do better if he would.Aunt Adelaide, who is Geoffrey’s stepmother,says it is a case of “inherent stupidity.” Motherthinks neither is right, and that there is somethingradically wrong with the school methods.Altogether it is not pleasant for Geof, who wantsto give up studying and go into business. Thisenrages Hazard.
“A fellow with your chances!” he says.
“I’d swap them for yours,” answers Geof, whois not brilliant at an argument. And Haze snortsderisively.
After Ernie comes Robin; he is six, and ourbaby. He has never been strong, because whenhe was a tiny mite of a thing a careless nursedropped him and injured his hip. He has bright,dark eyes, and you can always tell when he iscoming by the little hopping sound he makeswith his crutch. It reminds one of a bird, so hisname suits him, too. I love Robin better thananything in the world; and I am never going tomarry, so that I can stay with him and take careof him always. But this is a secret.
And that (including mother, whom one can’tdescribe because she is too wonderful) is allthere are of us, except the kitten, which is blackand is named Rosebud, and the cook, who is alsoblack and is named Rose. Of course, we did notname the kitten after the cook. It just happenedthat way.
As to Uncle George’s family,—whom we callthe George Grahams,—they are very wealthy,and have a beautiful house, and horses, and plentyof servants. But we would not change withthem. No, indeed!
When Uncle George comes to visit us of aSunday morning, as he sometimes does to seehow we are getting on, he is sure to stand in themiddle of our shabby back parlour, and puff outhis cheeks, and throw out his chest and say,—
“I don’t pretend to be a man of genius likeyour father. I went into business at fifteen yearsof age. I’ve pegged away a good forty yearssince then, and I guess I’ve managed to get prettymuch what I want out of the world. Talent don’tpay, sir. No, sir; it’s common sense that pays.”
Aunt Adelaide, who is Uncle George’s secondwife, is handsome and fashionable. She was awidow with one daughter when Uncle Georgemarried her. So you see that Meta is really norelation to either Geof or ourselves. She is sixmonths older than I, and she and Geof do not getalong so very well. She thinks him stupid becausehe does not like the things she likes, and hethinks her silly and affected. I am afraid shesometimes is.
Georgie is both Meta and Geof’s half-brother.He is a little younger than our Robin. He hasvery rosy cheeks, and beautiful clothes, and expensivetoys. Once when he was sick for twoweeks with German measles a trained nurse wasengaged, and he had chicken broth and orangesevery day. Sometimes I hate Georgie!—whichis wicked.
Uncle George is devoted to his family, after hisown fashion, and does not spare any expensewhere they are concerned; though he, himself,dresses plainly and never gives anything incharity. He says he does not believe in it, thatno one ever gave anything to him.
One day when he was standing in the middleof our parlour with his cheeks puffed out as usual,Robin, who had been sitting in the windowturning the pages of an animal picture-book,looked up.
“Did you ever wish you were a camel, UncleGeorge?” he asked.
“No; I can’t say I ever did,” answered UncleGeorge, condescendingly. “Why should I,now?”
“It would be so much easier for you to get intoheaven,” chirped Robin. And, after a minute,when Uncle George had thought it over and beganto understand, he laughed and really feltrather flattered. Dear father was so different!
I said I would tell about his one success, andhow we did not profit by it as we should. It wasa great pity, because most of the problems fatherworked on had no market value at all:—he wastoo brilliant to find it easy to consider commercialinterests. But this was different,—somethingquite sellable and practical,—a mechanical attachmentfor dump-carts! How ever father came tothink of it, he admitted that he did not know.He quite despised it, and was really ratherashamed even to explain the way it worked. Buthe made up his mind that for once a little moneywould be nice; so he took the model to UncleGeorge and asked for a loan. But UncleGeorge’s own affairs were rather involved just atthat time, and besides he said he did not care forinvestments of such a nature. He never hadmuch faith in father.
After that father was introduced to Mr. Perry,a lawyer and promoter, and a partnership was arrangedbetween them by which father was to receive$500 down, and in one year’s time five percent. of whatever income the invention continuedto realize. The contract was drawn