Tuesday, July 7, 2015


"Why don't you store it?" Amanda Hopkins had asked, eyeing the tray covetously. It would look wonderful in her little apartment--and so domestic.

"We took as little storage space as possible; it costs the earth," Grace had said. "Besides, you've always liked it. I'm sure Eleanor won't mind."

AMANDA HOPKINS HAD TAKEN THE tray home and set it in front of her fireplace. It looked very good. Three months later, having served tea and homemade biscuits from it to a young man tired of boardinghouses, Miss Hopkins became Mrs. Eager and went off to California with her new husband. He was in the publicity department of a motion-picture company and had been transferred from the Chicago office. They shipped the tea tray.

But it seemed to Amanda, once they were settled, that no one in her new circle of friends drank tea--not even iced tea. Other beverages were served on the patio on glass-topped tables. The tea tray remained in the living room, a decorative Victorian touch in a California ranch-type home.

After approximately two years of marriage, Mr. Eager tired of a number of things, his wife among them. He began to spend his weekends in the desert, without his wife. Amanda, less stricken than you'd think, shipped her personal belongings to her home in Chicago and went to Las Vegas.

Before she left, they got together to decide about the disposition of the ranch-house furnishings.
"Do you want the tea tray?" inquired Amanda before their parting.

"What would I do with a tea tray?" he replied reasonably.

So Amanda gave it to Mrs. Bailey, an elderly woman of English birth, who came in twice a week to clean.

"I'm strapped," said Amanda. "You've been a treasure, Mrs. Bailey. I'd like to give you a thousand dollars, but I don't have a surplus hundred. How would you like my tea tray?"

Mrs. Bailey would like it very much. She thanked Mrs. Eager, wished her good fortune, and took the tray home, where her husband, a chronic invalid--why should he work when his Bessie was as strong as a horse?--remarked that it looked like another dust catcher.

Said Mrs. Bailey, "This is a real old one, Alf." She wiped it off carefully and placed it against the wall. "There," she said. "If anyone comes to tea--"

"Who comes to tea?" inquired Alf.

Tossing her gray head, she said, "I do."

But it was a chore to set the tea tray when she came home after work, so she drank her tea in the kitchen as usual, and Mrs. Tamerlane's tray stood, looking stately, in the parlor.

Six months later, a sensational car stopped before the modest Bailey residence, and a sensational young woman disembarked. Born Gloriana Gwendolyn Wolffenschmidt, she was now Mary Morse, a name bestowed on her by her motion picture studio. Everyone loved her, including Mrs. Bailey, who laundered Miss Morse's table linen.

It was early evening. The actress knocked and was admitted. Alf, sitting in the parlor, gaped.
Mary smiled; it was dazzling. "Darling Mrs. Bailey," she said, "my wretched maid has left me, and I haven't a thing to wear--"

Mrs. Bailey said, "Will tomorrow do? About two o'clock? I'd be glad to oblige."
At that moment, Miss Morse's large, expressive eyes chanced upon the tea tray. She moved quickly and stood before it admiringly. She cried, "Mrs. Bailey, darling, where did you get this divine tray?"

"It's an heirloom," said Alf loftily, but his wife silenced him.

"It was given to me by a lady I used to work for," Mrs. Bailey said. "From Chicago, she was. She went off to get a divorce."


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