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and blue eyes, and hunting worms, and moving-pictures yearning

      Phoebe turned houseward. The world was just full, she reflected, of good moving-pictures that no one seemed to be using.
Chapter XVI
      To Phoebe, Uncle Bob took on a new and intense interest. Heretofore, he had been just Uncle Bob, stout and jolly and loving, with certain unknown duties at the Court House, and his various homely pastimes at home, such as gardening and puttering about the stable, and hunting worms. But now all at once he seemed different. And Phoebe forgot his stoutness and his baldness in remembering that he was the adoring, yet unhappy, lover. And just as she had watched her father’s face for signs of suffering, she now watched this uncle, discovering sadness in his smiling blue eyes, and yearning even in his whistled tunes as he hammered away at the chicken-coop.
      “He loves Miss Ruth,” she pondered. She was doubly tender to him, knowing his secret. And just as she had vowed to thwart any plan of her father’s to marry a second wife, she now gave time to a plot that would bring Miss Ruth to Grandma’s.
      Sophie discouraged the idea.

— Eleanor Gates, Phoebe (George Sully and Company, 1919) : 166 : link
same (NYPL copy/scan, via hathitrust) : link

Reviewers, then and now (Goodreads, etc.), do not like this or other of Eleanor Gates’s fiction —

Eleanor Gates, author of “The poor little rich girl,” has written another story in which the world is seen through the eyes of a child. When fourteen years old, Phoebe suddenly finds herself transplanted from her cozy apartment in New York with Mother to a distant city with just Daddy, and she can not quite understand it. And neither Daddy, nor her new-found Uncle John, the rather stern clergyman, nor Grandma, explains it to her. But when she hears the whisper of a “divorce,” she begins to understand. When her mother is taken out of her life by something even more irrevocable than divorce, the unpleasant possibilities of a “stepmother” begin to appeal to Phoebe’s movie-loving little soul, and she dramatically sets out to free herself from that ogre. But in the end she comes to see that a certain step-mother might be rather nice, and happiness is promised her once more.
      “The tale is probably an attempt to show what harm it does a child to go to the ‘movies’, but it is far more indicative of the harm it does to an author to go to them. The action might be good, but the story is constantly jiggling, like a scene picture, and there is no effect of reality. The ending is most replete of sob-stuff of all.”
Boston Transcript (June 14, 1919), in Mary Katharine Reely, ed., the Book Review Digest: Fifteenth Annual Cumulation : Reviews of 1919 books (1920) : link

19 July 2023