tisdag 9 juli 2013

Fanny Fern

(Sara Payson Willis)
9 juli 1811 - 10 oktober 187


If there is a time when I sigh for the "Cave of Adullam," whatever that may be, it is when, my coffee swallowed, my fingers clutch my precious, morning papers, for a blessed, quiet read.
I just begin an editorial, which requires a little thinking, when up comes Biddy with "Ma'am, there's a hole in the biler." The "biler" settled, I go back to the place indicated by my forefinger, where the Editor was saying "that Congress—" when somebody upsets the coffee-pot in an attempt to burlesque last night's public performance. The coffee-pot set right end up, and the coffee pond drained off the table-cloth, I return again to my beloved editorial;—when Biddy again appears with "Ma'am, the man has come to mend the door-handle as is broke." That nuisance disposed of, I take my paper and retreat in self-defence to the top of the house, and commence to read again, "that Congress—" when I am interrupted with loud shouts of "Where's mother? Mother? where are you?" I disdain to answer. "Mother?" In despair, I cry, in tragic tones, "Well, what is it?" "A poor soldier is at the door with pictures at thirty cents apiece, and he has but one arm." "Well, I have but one life—but for mercy's sake take his pictures, and don't let in anything else, man, woman, or child, till I read my paper through." I begin again: "If Congress—" when Biddy, who is making the bed in the next room, begins howling "Swate Ireland is the land for me." I get up and very mildly request—in view of a possible visit to an Intelligence Office—that she will oblige me by deferring her concert till I get through my morning paper. Then I begin again: "If Congress—" when up comes paterfamilias to know if it is to be beef, or chicken, or veal, that he is to order at market for that day's dinner. "Possum, if you like," I mutter, with both fingers on my ears, as I commence again, "If Congress—" Paterfamilias laughs and retreats, exclaiming, "Shadrachs! vot a womansh!" and I finish "Congress," and begin on the book reviews. A knock on the door. "Six letters, ma'am." I open them. Three for an "autograph," with the privilege of finding my own envelope and stamp, and mailing it afterward. One with a request for me to furnish a speedy "composition" to save a school-boy at a dead-lock of ideas from impending suicide. One from a man who has made a new kind of polish for the legs of tables and chairs, and wants me to write an article about it in the Ledger, and send him an early copy of the same. One from a girl "who never in her life owned a dress bonnet," and would like, with my assistance, to experience that refreshing and novel sensation.
I begin again my postponed list of "book reviews;" when in comes paterfamilias to know "if I haven't yet done with that paper." That's the last ounce on the camel's back! Mind you, he has just read his morning paper through, and it contains a different stripe of politics from mine, I can tell you that. Read it in peace, too—with his legs on the mantel, smoking his beloved pipe. Read it up and down; backwards and forwards; inside out, and upside down; and disembowelled every shade of meaning from live and dead subjects; and then coolly inquires of me—me, with my hair on end in the vain effort to retain any ideas through all these interruptions—"if I haven't yet done with that paper?" Oh, it's too much! I sit down opposite him. I explain how I never get a chance to finish anything except himself. I tell him my life is all fragments. I ask him, with moist eyes, if he knows how the price of board ranges at the different Lunatic Asylums. What is his unfeeling answer? "Hadn't I better take some other hour in the day to read the papers?"
Isn't that just like a man?
Has not bother and worry "all seasons for its own," as far as women are concerned? Would it make any difference what "hour in the day" I took to read the papers? Can women ever have any system about anything, while a Biddy or a male creature exists on the face of the earth to tangle up things? Have I not all my life been striving and struggling for that "order" which my copy-book
 told me in my youth "was Heaven's first law"? And is it my fault if "chaos," which I hate, is my "unwilling portion"? I just propounded to paterfamilias these vital questions. With eyes far off on distant, and untried, and possible fields of literature, he absently replies: "Well, as you say, Fanny, I shouldn't wonder if it 
does rain to-day." Great Heavens!

Celebrate Fanny's birthday by reading one of her books. You find several of them at Project Gutenberg.