Page:Lippincotts Monthly Magazine-94.pdf/635

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The Banana Girl

625

herself cursed by her parent for not obeying him. She realized that he did not know what he was saying, and pitied him. She was tired and dis

appointed. Throwing herself dejectedly into a chair, her feelings gave way to tears, and she cried silently.

There was nothing very much out of the ordinary in the sorry plight of the Watson family, that is, for Central or South America. There were

many others like them. Mr. Watson was a failure, and, to forget his failure, he had taken to drink. And when his wife had died four years

before, he had sent for Laura, who was attending school in the States. When she returned, she found that her father had been wrecked both morally and physically by too much drink.in this hot, stifling climate. Her mother had been burdened with all the responsibilities of the planta tion, and upon Laura's return they fell to her. The plantation, in spite of her efforts, was going to pieces. Big tracts of land were being left uncultivated because of lack of funds. Busy all day, she saw little of her father. Then one day, when he returned from Naranjita, he brought with him this colored woman, Jess, as his wife. He had married her while drunk. His marriage nearly killed Laura. “What in the devil are you crying about?” demanded a rough voice from the doorway. Laura started. She had not heard him enter. Wiping her eyes as she sprang to her feet, she faltered, “Why, noth ing, Dad.” “Nix! nix!” he growled. He staggered towards her and seized her arms. “What are you crying about, Laura?” “I didn’t mean to cry, Dad. I was just thinking of Mother,” she fibbed, not having the heart to tell him the truth.

“Oh, no, you were n’t l” he contradicted. “Well, then, the bananas! Mr. Simons refused them because they were n’t—or at least so he said—cut “two-thirds.’”

“That was n’t the reason,” snarled the old man. “I saw Mr. Simons myself several weeks ago, and—and—he wants you.” “Dad!” she exclaimed disgustedly. “I won’t listen to you any

more. Let me go!” and she jerked herself free. “Listen, my young lady,” he continued, “you’re mine, and I have given you away!”

“Really And who will look after the place when I am gone. This Simons, as you know, is no fit man for a decent girl to marry. He’s always getting himself into trouble, and—I won’t discuss this any further. You are not sober; and Jess,” she flashed, “ought to be whipped for giving you drink!” “Simons—Simons,” murmured the old man—“let me see—he said —yes, he said he would buy the place from me for a good sum, and that I could always live here.”

“Father, don’t you see, he would sell it to the U. B. C. for a huge Vol. XCIV-40