Mrs. Vinnie Gardner
Mrs. Vinnie Gardner, a fussy, tyrannical, religious widow. She dominates her timid son Harry, but they nevertheless have a close and caring, if claustrophobic, relationship. A pious woman, she takes a kind of self-righteous pleasure in vicious gossip. She buys cosmetic items from Madam Fay, despite her claim that the use of cosmetics goes against her religious beliefs, because she relishes the sordid tale of adultery and murder that Madam Fay tells her during her sales call. She dies of a ruptured appendix.
Harry Gardner, Mrs. Gardner’s nineteen-year-old son, who works in a bank. He loves his mother, but he has no privacy living with her. He longs to leave but is afraid of hurting his mother. He is interested in Becky, the girl who delivers eggs, but his mother insists that he marry the daughter of a wealthy banker, and he complies. Three years later, he has become a lawyer but is trapped in a loveless marriage with a wife who thinks that she owns him. He leaves her and renews his acquaintanceship with Becky, who awaits execution, having confessed to the murder of Clifford Hopkins. Harry wins an acquittal for her by discovering the true circumstances of Hopkins’ death.
Becky Lorimer, later Becky Fay, a simple, shy country girl approximately Harry’s age. She lives alone on her farm, her family having been murdered by Madam Fay’s husband. Through hard work and self-sacrifice, she has kept the farm working and started a successful egg business. She feels a tender solicitude for the callow Eli Fay, Madam Fay’s son, and agrees to marry him in the hope that the two of them can somehow eradicate the hatred that sprang up between their families after the disastrous affair between...
(The entire section is 740 words.)