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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 119, No. 1 (July, 1931)

Dawson, Coningsby
Little Annie,   pp. 13-14 PDF (1.2 MB)

Page 13

J U L Y,     1 9 3 1
The author of that unforgettable story
"The Unknown Soldier"-one of our
greatest successes-as well as many
popular novels and stories, here reveals
his talent in a new light in an appeal-
ing tale of a good and faithful servant
Everything seemed unreal.
But even so the master had
called her his dear friend!
A N) to my dear friend and faithful servant,
little Annie, the sum of one hundred thousand
There was a turning of heads such as one
/-\witnesses at church when worshipers are dis-
turbed by a late arrival. Only they didn't turn to
rebuke her, on the contrary, they were nodding con-
gratulation. Mr. Ralph, who was no respecter of occa-
sions, leaned across his wife and daughter to whisper,
"You can buy a new hat now, little Annie." The lawyer
looked up, scandalized at the breach of decorum. Little
Annie met his challenge by thrusting her toil-worn hands
beneath her apron. When quiet had been restored, he
resumed his r6le of lugubrious Father Christmas distrib-
uting unmerited presents.
To little Annie the money meant nothing; that her old
master should have called her his dear friend was the gift
that counted.
"And 'im in his coffin," she ruminated, "underground,
where I can't thank 'im!"
Her thoughts were all confused; everything seemed
unreal. It was a spring afternoon, perfumed by hyacinths
and gilded with sunshine; yet she felt there ought to be
snow on the ground. Her Christmas feeling must be due
to the reading of the will and the family party it had
assembled. Outside the house was a festal array of auto-
mobiles, representing all degrees of affluence, from
Miss Jane's shabby flivver to Mr. Ralph's Rolls Royce
with its liveried chauffeur. Miss Jane had married for
love-a Presbyterian minister; whatever chariots awaited
her in heaven, on earth a flivver was her portion.
Miss Dollie had had three husbands. From the first
two she had been divorced; from the third, as her widow's
weeds betokened, she had parted more amicably. If one
were to judge by her mustard-colored Fiat, she had found
matrimony a profitable venture.  Miss Grace, who had
never been anything but good and reliable, had arrived
in a Buick. Of Miss Ruby perhaps the less said the better;
she had cultivated a career and had driven up in a taxi.
There remained Mr. Ralph, the pride of the Nesbits,
the possessor of the Rolls Royce. He was a promoter by
profession, humorous and boyish. His gestures seemed to
say, "Eat, drink and be merry"; but if there were two
in a bed, one might be certain that his companion would
be taken and he would be left. He had chosen his wife
for love, but had been sufficiently far-sighted to have a
canning-factory included.
When legal formalities had been completed the tension
was relaxed and refreshments were served. Refreshments
had been little Annie's idea. She had risen at dawn to
cut sandwiches and mix salads, just as she had always
done when her master and mistress had been expecting
She was so much a creature of habit that, though she
knew they had traveled beyond the delights of her cook-
ing, she continually looked up in the hope that they would
enter. In her white cap and apron she flitted hither and
thither, ignoring the time-worn jokes to which she was
subjected. She was Nesbit property to be borrowed in
times of crisis, when babies threatened, or domestics
departed without warning: "Oh, mother, can you lend
me little Annie?" Even the grandchildren monopolized
and disrespected her. Not that she minded. All she had
ever asked was to be wanted.
Everyone had something pleasant to say to her.
"I'm so glad for your sake, little Annie. It was cer-
tainly very handsome of father. Not that any of us grudge
you the money. I suppose you'll be going home to
England now?" That was Miss Jane.
"Handsome, be damned. Where would we be, if she
hadn't done everything for us?" That was Mr. Ralph.
"She'll be marrying, no doubt." That was Miss Dollie.
( 13)
This kitchen was her life.
How could they turn her
out into an alien world?

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