Page 18 - The.Unobstructed.Universe
P. 18

Joan had next described--and illustrated--"someone who put on their 
nose-glasses this way." Before reading this I asked Millicent to put on 

her glasses. She duplicated Joan's performance. Subsequently I asked 
other members of the family to show me "how Millicent puts on her 
glasses," and received the same demonstration.

"'Don't forget the creek: mustn't forget that!'" I continued. I confess 
that looked to me like a clean miss. None of the various residences of 

the various members of the family were within miles of anything that 
could be described as a creek.

"Could I EVER forget the creek!" cried Millicent fervently.

Francis, as has been mentioned, was a civil engineer, engaged in heavy 

construction--like the docks at Bordeaux and a good deal of New York's 
waterfront. His estate included a lot of heavy machinery, dredges, pile 
drivers, barges, and the like, which had worried Millicent for years. She 

was unable to get rid of them; she paid taxes and storage on them. And 
they had been kept all these years in an inlet of the Flushing marshes 

known by name as The Creek.

Now followed a number of small, less striking references which it would 

be tedious to analyze in detail. For instance, "A portrait. There's an 
old portrait." Now, every family has old portraits. But Millicent told me 
that a portrait of Francis' grandfather had somehow got separated and had 

gone to a collateral branch of the family, and that it was only after a 
long search and much trouble that he had managed to buy it back. Another 
was a simple insistence on the number seven. It seemed that Francis died 

just seven years ago; a fact not recalled to my mind even by the mention 
of the number.

There were, however, two more statements that hit Millicent hard, 
bringing her both to laughter and to tears.

"'Street car,'" I quoted Joan, "'the episode that occurred on a street 
car. I think,' said she, 'the boots, and the watch and the portrait, and 
the creek and what happened on the street car are important.'"

Here is where Millicent laughed. In the old days of ferry boats, said 
she, Francis was accustomed to go to the city each day with a neighbor, 

whose temper was somewhat peppery at times. One day--on the street 
car--this neighbor was rudely jostled, and promptly broke a paper bag of 
apples over the offender's head. Result: a near not, and a family warning 

when anger threatened--"remember the street car!"

The other statement: "This man says to tell Millicent, 'the child that 

never got born is here with me. Little girl.'"

A little girl had been born indeed, but never breathed.

"It was the only time in all his life I ever saw Francis cry," said 


I knew nothing whatever of this fact until I heard it then.

"Betty is laughing and nodding her head," Joan had concluded. I should 
think she well might. Joan knew nothing of Betty's sister: she did not 

even know Millicent's last name.

This looked to us like a pretty close hundred per cent, when we got 

together to analyze my report from Millicent.


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