Author's Note: this is the last installment of my character study, and is the conclusion of Madame Librarian. Today we work "Till There Was You" (I tear up every time I hear that song, and I can't wait to hear me and Harold together) and the scene before, so I'll focus on second act Marian. There might be an epilogue to my character study, focusing on post-MM Marian, but I don't know. Please review, let me know how I'm doing and how you liked it!
Breaking My Rules
I had always lived by Uncle Maddy's rules on love until I actually thought I fell. Professor Hill, we weren't on first name basis or anything, but he made me feel different than anyone had ever made me feel before. Mama said I smiled more, and I had the biggest smile when Winthrop told me about "Harold".
Professor Hill had me dance the "Shipoopi" with him. To this day, I still don't know what the Shipoopi is, but we danced and apparently I danced "like a fairy princess". Mrs. Shinn and her ladies all came to tell me how cute I was with Professor Hill, even Ethel gave me a kind smile like I hadn't seen from her since daddy died. The ladies were forgiving of my supposed past with Uncle Maddy, but they still didn't know anything about it.
There was no doubt in my mind, what I felt for Professor Hill was stronger than anything I ever felt. Mama wanted me to go after the man, and I couldn't argue with her. What was I so afraid of?
I had to face my fears when Charlie Cowell came to town. Oh god, I hated that man from the second I saw him! He was the epitome of a traveling salesman, tall and thick with a strong jaw and dark eyes, a man who looked like he could fight anyone who told him he was wrong. I couldn't afford for him to spread rumors about Professor Hill, the professor couldn't leave yet! I had to tell him... to tell him...
Charlie's lips met mine in a desperate attempt to make him late for his train. I felt so violated even though I was the one that pulled him in. Mama watched from the window, probably hoping that the tall salesman was actually Professor Hill (even though, in all honesty, it was impossible to compare the two seeing as Charlie was almost a foot taller than the professor). I could almost feel her smile through the lace curtains. The sick feeling in my stomach only got worse when Charlie mentioned the professor's 102 other women. Did I want to be number 103? Could I fall OUT of love with him?
But Professor Hill came up on the porch and I couldn't help but listen to him! Even if at the beginning I didn't want to hear him, I couldn't stop listening. And then he asked me to the footbridge- I had dreamed most of my life about being asked to the footbridge! Fifteen minutes, I had fifteen minutes to get ready to meet him down by the footbridge.
I tugged my hair out of its bun and let the curls cascade down my shoulders and back. My party dress was much nicer than what I usually wore, and it was the prettiest shade I had ever seen! I ran down the stairs and out towards Madison Picnic Park to the footbridge. It wasn't until now that I realized that the footbridge wasn't all that its reputation built it to be: it wasn't a right of passage, it was a footbridge and nothing more. But standing on it, with Professor Hill in front of me, I saw why people considered it to be such a big deal as it was.
With a lump in my throat, I told him how I felt. The way the light fit the mood I was sure glad I did so, and that I didn't let the anvil salesman's words get to me. It couldn't have gone any smoother, I thought, when I first called him by his name. Harold, not professor or mister. He was right in front of me, exposed, and he was just Harold.
He followed me home. I don't know what I expected, since that's how we met, but I heard that anvil salesman talking to him and a fist knocking a jaw. I came outside to find Charlie on the ground, and a menacing look in Harold's eyes. Whatever had just happened, it couldn't stop the angry townspeople from rushing in on all sides. Harold caught Winthrop in his arms, tears in my baby brother's eyes, and he said the phrase I would've agreed with had it been said a few weeks sooner.
"I wish you'd never came to River City." A part of me wanted to agree, but I couldn't. I was thankful that Harold came to town. A part of Winthrop was too, I could see it in his eyes. He looked up to Harold. I took Winthrop in my arms, and expressed how much he had changed. I had never heard my little brother talk as much as he did now, or play his cornet the first couple weeks he had it. He was like a different child, and I a new woman. All thanks to Harold, a simple salesman who was anything but a band director.
Harold was arrested that night. I got glances from Ethel and Mrs. Shinn and the other ladies as I went in behind him, hands entwined. Harold was my first true love, and he told me he loved me too! It was my turn to do the right thing for him, petitioning to have him released and not tarred and feathered (as Mayor Shinn, the gangly buffoon, suggested). With a sharp tone, I told them all about the imaginary band and what it did for us. That was when the whistle blew, and Tommy led my baby brother and many of the boys out into the room to play. It was absolute cacophony, surely, but it touched the hearts of everyone there that day.
It took me until that day to realize why Uncle Maddy told me that there were more important things than love. If I had been looking for love, I would've never found Harold. Mama and I wouldn't have grown close, Winthrop would've never come out of his shell, and I would've never made up with Ethel or any of the ladies. That spellbinding cymbal salesman changed my life, and if it hadn't been for Uncle Maddy's guidance I may have never met him.