Under Polly’s door was a letter for her. She picked it up, not daring to look at it, for she knew it would be from her ex-boyfriend Gus. She took off her coat and hung it up, washed her hands, watered her plants, lit a cigarette. Then, trembling, she tore open the letter. Inside was a single sheet of paper, a short letter, in handwriting. She did not look directly at it yet but put it on the table, glancing at it sidewise, as if it could tell her what it said without making her read it. The letter was from her father.
Your mother and I have decided to get a divorce. If it suits you, I would like to come to New York and live with you. That is, if you are not otherwise encumbered. I could make myself useful, do the shopping and cooking for you. We might look for a little flat together. Your mother will keep the farm. My mental health is excellent.
Your obedient servant and loving father,
Henry L. K. Andrews
On hearing the news, everyone took for granted that her parents’ separation must have been a dreadful shock to her, but the sad truth was that all Polly felt then was a wan gratitude that her father was coming. It was with a start finally that she remembered her mother and wondered how she was taking it.
Long afterward, Polly admitted that it had all worked out for the best. She was happy, living with her father, far happier than she had been with Gus. They suited each other. And his arrival, three days after his letter, was occupational therapy for her—just what a doctor would have prescribed.
Mr. Andrews himself, when he got off the train, was in fine fettle—a small white-haired old man with a goblin head and bright blue eyes; he was carrying a case of fresh farm eggs, which he would not entrust to the redcap, and a bouquet of jonquils. He had not been so well in years, he declared, and Kate was well too, never better. He attributed it all to divorce—a splendid institution. Everyone should get a divorce. Kate already looked ten years younger. “But won’t it take a long time, Father?” said Polly. “All the legal side. Even if Mother consents.” But Mr. Andrews was sanguine. “Kate’s already filed the papers and served me. The process server came to tea. I’ve given her grounds, the best grounds there are.” Polly was slightly shocked at the notion that her father, at his age, had been committing adultery. But he meant insanity. He was delighted with himself for having had the foresight to be loony and to have the papers to prove it.
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