Muriel’s Bright Idea
My friend Muriel is the youngest daughter in a large family. They are in moderate circumstances, and the original breadwinner has been long gone; so the young people have to be wage earners.
"Other people do not know how lovely vacations are," was the way Esther expressed it as she sat on the side porch, hands folded lightly in her lap, and an air of delicious idleness about her entire person. It was her week of absolute leisure, which she had earned by a season of hard work. She is a public-school teacher and works fourteen hours a day.
Alice is a music teacher, and goes from house to house in town and from school to school, with her music roll in hand. Ben, a young brother, is studying medicine in a doctor’s office, and also in town, and serving the doctor between times to pay for his opportunities. There are two others, an older brother just started in business for himself, and a sister in nurses’ training.
So they scattered each morning to their duties in the city ten miles away, and gathered at night, like chickens, to the home nest, which was mothered by the dearest little woman. She prepared favorite dishes for the wage earners as they gathered at night around the home table. It is a very happy family, but I set out to tell you about Muriel’s apron, but it seemed necessary to describe the family in order to secure full appreciation of the apron.
Muriel is still a high-school girl, hoping to graduate next year, though at times a little anxious lest she may not pass. She plans to go to college as soon as possible. But about her apron. I saw it first one morning when I crossed the street to my neighbor’s side door, and met Muriel in the doorway, as pretty a picture as a fair-haired, bright-eyed girl of seventeen can make. She was in what she called her uniform, a short dress (less than floor length) made of dark print, cut lower(but modest) in the neck than a street dress. It had elbow sleeves, with white braid stitched on their bands and around the square neck setting off the little costume charmingly.
Her apron was a strong dark green denim, wide enough to cover her dress completely; it had a bib waist held in place by shoulder straps; and the garment fastened behind with a single button. But its distinctive feature was a row of pockets—or rather several rows of them—extending across the front breadth; they were of varying sizes, and all bulged out as if well filled.
"What in the world?" I began, and stared at the pockets. Muriel’s merry laugh rang out.
"Haven’t you seen my pockets before?" she asked. "They astonish you, of course; everybody laughs at them; but I am proud of them; they are my own invention. You see, we are such a busy family, and so tired when we get home at night, that we have a bad habit of dropping things just where we are, and leaving them. By the last of the week this big living room is a sight to behold. It used to take half my morning to pick up the thousand and one things that did not belong here, and carry them to their places. You do not know now many journeys I had to make, because I was always overlooking something. So I invented this apron with a pocket in it for every member of the family, and it works like a charm.
"Look at this big one with a B on it; that is for Ben, and it is always full. Ben is a great boy to leave his pencils, and his handkerchiefs, and everything else about. Last night he even discarded this necktie because it felt choky.
"This pocket is Esther’s. She leaves her letters and her discarded handkerchiefs, as well as her gloves. And Kate sheds hair ribbons and hatpins wherever she goes. Just think how lovely it is to have a pocket for each, and drop things in as fast as I find them. When I am all through dusting, I have simply to travel once around the house and unpack my load. I cannot tell you how much time and trouble and temper my invention has saved me." "It is a bright idea," I said, "and I mean to pass it on. There are other living rooms and busy girls. Whose is that largest pocket, marked M?"
"Why, I made it for mother; but mothers do not leave things lying around. It is funny, is it not, when they have so many cares? It seems to be natural for mothers to think about other people. So I made the M stand for ‘miscellaneous,’ and I put into that pocket articles which belong to all of us. I needed pockets last winter, when we all had special cares and were so dreadfully busy. It is such a simple idea you would have supposed that any person would have thought of it. I just had to do it this spring, because there simply was not time to run up and down stairs so much.
"It is true, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention,’" I said. "And, besides, you have given me a new idea. I am going home to work it out. When it is finished, I will show it to you." Then I went home, and made rows and rows of strong pockets to sew on a folding screen I was making for my work room.
JUST DO YOUR BEST
Just do your best. It matters not how small,
How little heard of;
Just do your best—that’s all.
Just do your best. God knows it all,
And in His great plan you count as one;
Just do your best until the work is done.
Just do your best. Reward will come
To those who stand the test;
God does not forget. Press on,
Nor doubt, nor fear. Just do your best.
by Ernest Lloyd