craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing

Chapter XVI: A Surprise from Mother

The doorbell rings and Katie, Grandma’s servant girl, answers it and reports to the others…


”A telegram for Miss Mary Frances,” said Katie coming into the dining-room. ”A telegram! And for you, Mary Frances. What can it be!” exclaimed Grandma.

‘’Shall I sign for it, ma’am?” asked Katie. ”No,” said Grandma. ”Mary Frances better learn to sign for herself.”

“There was a little look of excitement in Grandma’s face, and a little pink spot in each cheek.”

Yeah, I’d be flushed because literature has taught me that telegrams are for very important news that can’t wait…like DEATH. You’ve got a family member of varying health and suddenly you get an urgent message? YOU FREAK OUT. Grandma, however, sends Mary STRAIGHT to signing and reading.

Miss Mary Frances:
Expect \ by \ Express \ Mary \ Marie \ and \ trunk. \ Letter \ follows. \ \ Mother.”

Quickly, a second letter comes…one meant to arrive prior to the telegram. FATHER!

“Dear Mary Frances: —

Mother bought for you to-day the prettiest doll in San Francisco, and she is going to send it by express, as soon as she gets some shopping done for the young lady. She will send a telegram when she starts Mary Marie on her journey, and will write a letter of instruction as to her health, wealth, and happiness.

Give our love to dear Grandma.

It is a delight to send the prettiest doll in San Francisco, to the darlingest little girl in the whole wide world — at least she is to her

Loving Father.”

Ok, That’s a bit of an odd way to end a letter, “You’re the best…and least >I< think so” but I’ll allow it.

We’re getting a new doll! Well, Mary is.

Yesterday I found myself wandering a Disney store looking at other dolls. I’ve been doing well with my No-Buy November but yesterday was stressful (overslept and got through a morning of classes with no coffee) so I tempted myself.

The Moana in stores is ADORABLE but I’m happy with Snow.


If I see a used or discounted Mulan or Pocahontas I’ll buy it.

Mulan looks like she is calmly side-eying the world. Pocahontas is exhausted from ALL your bullshit.

“San Francisco is so far off’ said Mary Frances; ”but, oh. Grandma, isn’t it too lovely! Will Mary Marie have light hair and blue eyes, or dark hair and brown eyes, I wonder?”

Mary is assuming it’s a white doll (spoiler: IT IS!). I’ve read the Housekeeping book and have started drafting my blog/blogs about it and I KNOW how she treats paper dolls of color (spoiler: Poorly!). She would not be happy with Moana.

Much rejoicing and excitement is had! A gift is coming. Don’t worry, this gift is essential to furthering our plot so there is NO NEED to delay gratification, by the next page it arrives,

“Oh, Miss Mary Frances, here comes the expressman carrying a box!” exclaimed Katie a few mornings later.

“Katie, Katie, go to the door,” cried Mary Frances running down stairs.


Katie brings in the wooden crate and opens it by using an axe to pry the nails out. Mary removes layers and layer of tissue paper to reveal her new doll.


There’s some great blogging over here at The Panopticon that mirrors my feelings about Katie and all the cast of characters.

Angie, doll of before, prepare to be forgotten. Mary Marie is hear to replace you. If the blog I linked to above is to be believed we shall never speak of you again. All Hail Mary Marie and her long, delicate, blond curls. Long live Mary Marie.


Mary and Mary 4EVA


Surely Mary Marie was a lovely doll. She had beautiful long curls tied with pink ribbon; and on her feet were short stockings and slippers,—but her dress was a very plain, simple, “slip” of lawn.

There was a note pinned on Mary Marie’s dress, and a little key. The note read:

Dear Mary Frances:

This is Mary Marie. Isn’t she lovely? She is the very doll I’ve been looking for, for my own dear daughter. Father has told you something about Mary Marie, but I want to add some particulars. I have nothing to say about the care of her, — for I contentedly know my little girl’s careful, neat ways so well. You may be surprised when you unpack her trunk, to find no dresses. Mother is sending you, instead, all kinds of pretty goods which you may make up into dresses and clothes for your new little daughter; and you will find all kinds of laces and ribbons, and buttons, and hooks and eyes — everything Mother could think Mary Frances or Mary Marie could possibly want.

There is a set of toilet articles, — but I’ll not tell you about the other things, for I know you are anxious to find out for yourself.

I wish I could be with you, dear, to teach you how to make the pretty things; but I will, I hope, be able to do that before so very long. Meantime, I want you to use everything just as you wish. I’ve asked Grandma to let you do exactly as you want to with these things, and I ask you not to go to her with your sewing problems: for the doctor said that Grandma must not strain her eyes with any such work. I know you understand.

Does Mother know about the Thimble People? If she doesn’t I simply cannot fathom what she’s thinking. She promised to teach Mary the basics of sewing over the summer but now can’t. Mary isn’t allowed to bother Grandma, who isn’t around anyways, and Katie doesn’t seem to be available for fine work like stitching because she’s too busy making pork chops and opening crates with axes. Somehow Mary is to outfit her doll from this stash without assistance.




I have yet to finish reading the first book of cooking but I gather Mother was sent to a sanitarium, left Mary some instruction/recipes, and the Kitchen Folk taught her. This may have given mother the impression that you just leave Mary alone with objects and she figures it out herself.

Mary doesn’t have the Internet or access to other people. Sure, she might be able to steal Angie’s clothing reverse engineer some of the dresses but even that takes some assistance or enough items to work with that you can make a few wasteful mistakes.

Was the Fairy Lady in on this? Is Thimble Land near Kitchen Folkville? Do girls of a certain class status have a network of objects that teach them when their social network fails?

I guess I’m still asking:


Mary uses the key to open her new trunk of dry goods. Let’s note, Mary now has TWO boxes with locks, take that…patriarchy.


Mary rushes to the sewing room, introduces Mary Marie to all the Thimble Folks assembled, and explains about trunk of fabrics and fixings.

We’re off the Grandma Grid. We’ve got our own fabrics now!


In the next chapter Fairy Lady teaches Mary how to stitch a tiny linen handkerchief. It’s finicky and I haven’t any linen so I will return to it in the future…with our next Mary Frances chapter installment we’ll get to stitching doll clothes…finally

As always, excerpts From: Fryer, Jane Eayre, 1876-. “The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people.”©1915


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