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Marguirite proves why they call her ‘bad’ Mary Cook’s Memories BY MARY COOK EMC lifestyle - It wasn’t only that Marguirite was an only child and spoiled beyond belief, but she had a way about her that riled everyone at the Northcote School. Often I couldn’t pin down exactly what it was I didn’t like about the young girl. But there were times it was all too obvious that Marguirite felt about me, exactly as I felt about her. Take the day she decided to walk home from school the long way. She could have just hopped down the road to her house less than half a mile had she chosen. But that day she decided she would go around the concession and walk to the Northcote side road with my little friend Joyce and me. We could have easily done without her company. There were things we wanted to talk about... the new boy in senior fourth for instance. And we wouldn’t dare say a word about him in front of Marguirite because we might as well write it on the blackboard for the whole school to see. Marguirite couldn’t keep a thing to herself.

It was a day I will not soon forget. And I can even remember what I had on that day, which had a lot to do with why I remember the details so well. Mother had made me a blouse out of bleached flour bag material, and to take away the look of its once holding flour, had dyed it a bright green with Ritz dye. And that day I had on this freshly dyed blouse over a white skirt which had come in a hand-me-down box from my aunt in St. Catharines. Mother thought it was far too early in the season for a white skirt, but I prevailed on her saying Marguirite had been in white for days. Well, that day, as we headed out after school, Joyce and I tried to ignore Marguirite as we walked along the Northcote side road. The ditches were full of water from the heavy rains we had that spring, and occasionally we would stop and kick small stones into the water, or coax a frog off the gravel. Marguirite said she had better things to do with her time than talk to frogs and toss stones into a ditch. Joyce suggested she hurry on ahead of us and do them! My friend and I had on black brogue shoes... Marguirite’s were patent leather, and they soon were covered with sand and dust. We pointed this fact out to her, saying we bet her mother would sure be mad when she got home and saw the mess of her good school footwear. Marguirite assured us her Mother never got mad at her. Joyce rolled her eyes skyward. We didn’t believe her for a minute. I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the side

road so that this pest would leave us and head off in the direction that would take her on to her house. What if Marguirite decided to walk down past Briscoes General Store? That would mean she would be with us almost all the way home. The thought just about gave me a sick stomach.

We went headlong into the water. It wasn’t deep, but we came up spluttering and rubbing our eyes. Joyce suggested to Marguirite that she would be late for supper if she walked with us much farther. Didn’t matter to her‌she assured us. Her mother would keep supper warm for her. It was sure different in our house. We better be there when it was time to sit down at the kitchen table or we didn’t eat. She was really getting on my nerves. I decided the best thing to do so that I could endure the rest of the walk to the cross road was to pretend she wasn’t there. I squatted down on my haunches at the edge of the road, peering into the deep dark green water of the ditch. I told Joyce I could see tadpoles‌which of course I couldn’t. Joyce squatted too. We squinted into the water pretending to be deeply engrossed in what was in the water-filled ditches. Well, right out of the blue, Marguirite’s foot

hit the middle of my back and then within seconds she connected with Joyce sending us both sprawling. We went headlong into the water. It wasn’t deep, but we came up spluttering and rubbing our eyes. All we could see of Marguirite was those spindly legs bolting down the Northcote side road. Joyce was out of the ditch first. She held her hand down towards me and helped me onto the side of the road. I could see Joyce staring at me. I followed the direction of her eyes. Great streams of green dye were running from the home made blouse, into the white hand-me-down skirt! I was starting to look like a patchwork quilt. I looked down the road to see if I could catch up to Marguirite. She was just a dot on the Northcote side road. There was nothing to do but head for home. By the time I hit the kitchen door, my clothes were dry and the green water mixed with weeds from the ditch and mud from the road, were caked to my legs. Only then did I burst into tears. Mother stripped my clothes, and even though it wasn’t yet Saturday night, I was given a bath in the copper tub before supper. A ll the time I lamented about the girl I hated with a passion. And once again Mother called my ordeal character building. I told Mother, after my ordeal with bad Marguirite, I thought I had had just about all the character building I could stand in one lifetime!


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42 West Carleton Review EMC - Thursday, April 11, 2013