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MARGARET BLAKE

41

Schoolboys are barbarians, but girls are cannibals. That phase of the problem rarely occurred to me, however, because it was scarcely possible to imagine Maggie Blake being the mother of a girl. Her children would inevitably be boys. Even the names of the boys caused no comment. Howard Blake came first; when Sam Hodge appeared, the boys took it for granted his name was Sam Hodge Blake. They always called him Sam Hodge, and I think many of them were under the impression it was one word. Godfrey Wickwire was an impossible name, and he became “Bunny” even before schooldays. Carl Stanton was called by his full name, but the words were run together as Sam Hodge had always been. The boys inherited Maggie’s indifference to education. None went to the little college I had recommended.

During the Blake boys’ schooldays other children were tortured because they had red hair or big freckles or queer clothes or because of some unfavourable publicity touching their parents; but the Blake boys never were. I happen to know that several children were spanked for being friendly with them, but the punishment failed of its purpose. The lure of baseball, apples, gingerbread, and good company was too strong. The boys who were whipped suppressed the news and failed to mend their ways.

Maggie still liked to go to the dances and fairs or any other public entertainment where she did not feel that she was intruding. She would frequently be accompanied home by from six to ten young men. As her sons grew to young manhood, they seemed to take the same delight in her company. None of the boys moved away. Farms were growing smaller by the time they were ready to marry, so she gave each a piece of land to settle on. Every one of her boys married in that community. I cannot properly say that they amounted to a great deal, but as that community judged success, they had a very fair measure of it.

They knew their fathers, but didn’t pay much attention to them. I don’t think the information interested them a great deal more than it interested Maggie herself. They had a full share of her indifference to social conventions. I choose the word indifference with care, because it was not contempt.

The town began to grow very rapidly when Howard Blake, Junior, was about twenty-one years old. Maggie would