As they entered the kitchen, Charley threw herself in Cora’s open arms like she’d never let her go. In contrast, Charley and Ellen were reserved at their reunion, especially when Ellen saw her overalls. “Oh my, Charlotte! Pretty little girls don’t wear overalls. We have to get you some dresses!” Geneva cringed. With the confusion surrounding Cousin Jean’s death, she’d forgotten how Ellen would react to tattered overalls. At the criticism, Charley was shy and held herself straight as a stick when her mother hugged her. “Don’t you even have a hug for me?” She demanded. Ellen had never been an understanding mother at best. Eight months is a lifetime to a five-year-old. At seeing Baby Ginny for the first time in memory, Ellen was enchanted with her reddish curls and bright blue eyes. “”Oh, you little angel! Look at those precious pink cheeks!” Though Ginny was bashful, she ducked her head to her father’s shoulder and flirted with her mother. Ellen couldn’t have been more pleased.
“She looks just like you, doesn’t she, My Love?” said Charles. “She’s the image of Charley at that age, and she and Charley just dote on each other! They are so sweet together.” Charles tried to redirect the conversation to the wide-eyed little girl.
“Oh yes, no mother could ask for a prettier baby, but I don’t think she looks a bit like Charlotte. Don’t you remember Charlotte looked like a fat bald-headed man till her hair finally came in.?” Charley’s lip quivered.
“Boys, maybe Charley would like to go out back. I seem to remember a big surprise waiting for her next to the birdbath.” Charles tried to protect her feelings with a distraction.
“Hey, Charley! I’ll race you. First one there gets the surprise!” Thrilled, Charley sped out the back door.” She’d never gotten enough of her brothers.
As soon as she was out of earshot, Charles spoke. “Ellen, Charley didn’t need to hear you praise Ginny and say ugly things about her. Don’t forget her tender little feelings. I’m surprised at you!” Cora stood with her back to them, her face stiff with fury.
“Of course, Dear. How thoughtless of me.” Ellen answered, but her eyes were black with fury at his reproach.