Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America
Mother and I went to Nell’s house for a visit. Our mothers were talking and laughing. I think they were planning the flowers they were going to add to their gardens this summer. Nell showed me something in her pocket. She had a beautiful blue glass marble in her pocket. Her brother gave it to her. It had a tiny crack in it. But before it is REALLY hers, she has to collect the ashes from the kitchen hearth ten times. That is what she owes him. It is a very messy chore because the ashes always settle all over your shoe tops. Josh said if Nell was his sister, he would just give it to her. She would not owe him anything. Brent whispered to me it was cracked anyway and would soon break. My marbles are clay and they break too. They are not nearly as pretty as that blue one.
Some times I hear father tell his friends that if you are free from debt and do not owe anyone anything, you are free to do other things with your life. I am not certain what else Nell would do with her life. She lives with her mother and father and plays with me. If Nell were my sister and I lived in her house, I would help her clear the ashes. Two of us together would make the job easier. She would really and truly own the marble sooner. I know she would let me hold it. Together we could collect and carry lots of ashes and then she would not owe anything!
On the day Father pays out wages to the workers he speaks a lot about thrift. He also mentions debt and the importance of being useful. He stands at the head of the table and his feet roll from the front to the back and back to the front again. When he speaks like this, he always seem to grow taller. I think he stretches his neck. Everyone listens. I am not certain what he means. I think it is about not being wasteful and always being busy. Josh once told me his mother always tells him, “waste not, want not.” He isn’t sure what that means either. Brent just rolls his eyes and makes me laugh.