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Mary, Mary

by James Stephens

From the publication of its first chapters the appeal of "Mary" was felt in two or three countries. Mary Makebelieve was not just a fictional heroine--she was Cinderella and Snow-white and all the maidens of tradition for whom the name of heroine is big and burthensome. With the first words of the story James Stephens put us into the attitude of listeners to the household tale of folk-lore. "Mary, Mary" is the simplest of stories: a girl sees this and that, meets a Great Creature who makes advances to her, is humiliated, finds a young champion and comes into her fortune--that is all there is to it as a story. But is it not enough to go with Mary to Stephens' Green and watch the young ducks "pick up nothing with the greatest eagerness and swallow it with the greatest delight," and after that to notice that the ring priced One Hundred Pounds has been taken from the Jewellers' window, and then stand outside the theatre with her and her mother and make up with them the story of the plays from the pictures on the posters?--plays of mystery and imagination they must have surely been.

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