She quoted it this way:
Cross by name and Cross by nature, Cross hopped out of an Irish potato.
"The schoolhouse was a 2-story frame building with a gallery across the entire front," she resumed. "After a year together in that school Sam and I went to the school taught by Mrs. Horr. It was then he used to write notes to me and bring apples to school and put them on my desk. And once, as a punishment for some prank, he had to sit with the girls and occupied a vacant seat by me. He didn't seem to mind the penalty at all," Mrs. Frazer added with another laugh, "so I don't know whether it was effective as a punishment or not.
"We hadn't reached the dancing age then, but we went to many 'play parties' together and romped through 'Going to Jerusalem,' 'King William was King George's Son' and 'Green Grow the Rushes—O.'
"Judge Clemens, Sam's father, died and left the family in straitened circumstances, and Sam's schooling ended there. He began work in the printing office to help out, and when he was 17 or 18 he left Hannibal to go to work in St. Louis. He never returned to live, but he visited here often in the years that followed."
Mrs. Frazer's own story formed the next chapter of her narrative. A young physician, Doctor Frazer of Madisonville, which was a little inland village in Ralls County, adjoining, came often to Hannibal and courted pretty Laura Hawkins. When she was 20 they were married and went to live in the new house Doctor Frazer had built for his bride at Madisonville. There they reared two sons until they required better school facilities, when they went to Rensselaer, also in Ralls County, but nearer Hannibal. They lived in Rensselaer until Doctor Frazer's death, when the mother and younger son moved to the General Canby farm. This son's marriage led to Mrs. Frazer's return to Hannibal twenty-two years ago. She was offered the position of matron at the Home for the Friendless, and for twenty-two years she has managed it. The boys and girls who have gone out from it in nearly every case have become useful men and women as a result of her guidance at the critical period of their life, for the girls remain in the home until they are 14 and the boys until they are 12. The old mansion which houses the score or more of children always there is to be abandoned in the spring for a new and modern building, a gift from a wealthy citizen to the private charity which has conducted the institution so long without aid from city, county or state.
It was given to Mrs. Frazer and Mark Twain to renew their youthful friendship after a lapse of half a century. In 1908 Mrs. Frazer made a trip East, accepting an invitation to visit Albert Bigelow Paine at Redding, Conn. Mr. Paine had visited Hannibal two years before in a search for material for his biography of Mark Twain and had made Mrs. Frazer's acquaintance then. He mentioned the approaching visit to the great humorist and Mark Twain promptly sat down and wrote Mrs. Frazer that she must be a guest also at Stormfield, his Redding estate. So it came about that the one-time little Laura Hawkins found herself lifting the knocker at the beautiful country home of Mark Twain in the Connecticut hills.
"The door was opened by Clara Clemens, Mr. Clemens's daughter," Mrs. Frazer said, "and she threw her arms about me and cried:
'I know you, for I've seen your picture, and father has told me about you. You are Becky Thatcher, and I'm happy to see you.'
"And that," Mrs. Frazer said, "was the first time I really knew I was the original of the character, although I had suspected it for thirty years. Clara Clemens, you know, even then was a famous contralto, and Ossip Gabrilowitsch, whose wife she is now, was 'waiting' on her at the time.
"It was a wonderful visit," she went on. "Mr. Clemens took me over Stormfield. It must have been a tract of three hundred acres. We went through the fields, which were not fields at all, since they were not cultivated, and across a rustic bridge over a little rushing brook which boiled and bubbled among the rocks in the bed of a great ravine, and we sat down under a rustic arbor and talked of the old days in Hannibal when he was a little boy and I a little girl, before he went out into the world to win fame and before I lived my own happy married life. Mr. Clemens had that rare faculty of loyalty to his friends which made the lapse of fifty years merely an interim. It was as if the half century had rolled away and we were there looking on the boy and girl we had been.
"Mr. Clemens had won worldwide fame; he had been a welcome guest in the palaces of Old World rulers and lionized in the great cities of his own country. He had been made a Doctor of Literature by the University of Oxford, the highest honor of the greatest university in the world, and yet there at Stormfield to me he seemed to be Sam Clemens of old Hannibal, rather than the foremost man in the American world of letters.
"That, I believe, is my most treasured memory of Sam Clemens," Mrs. Frazer ended. "I love to think of him as the curly-headed, rollicking, clean minded little boy I played with as a child, but I like better still to think of him as he was in his last days, when all that fame and fortune had showered on him did not, even momentarily, make him waver in his loyalty to the friends of his youth."
In Hannibal stands the quaint little 2-story house flush with the sidewalk which Samuel Langhorne Clemens's father built in 1844, after he had moved to the old river town from Florida, Mo., where the great story teller was born. Restored, it houses many reminders of the author and is maintained as a memorial to Mark Twain. There, November 30, the eighty-second anniversary of the birth of Clemens, the people of Hannibal and persons from many cities widely scattered over America will go to pay tribute to his memory.
And there they will see Becky Thatcher in the flesh, silkengowned, gray-haired and grown old, but Becky Thatcher just the same, seated in a chair which once was Mark Twain's and pouring tea at a table on which the author once wrote. And if the aroma of the cup she hands out to each visitor doesn't waft before his mind a vision of a curly-headed boy and a little girl with golden long-tails at play on the wharf of old Hannibal while the ancient packets ply up and down the rolling blue Mississippi, there is nothing whatever in the white magic of association.
* * * * *
FOUR MEN OF HUMBLE BIRTH HOLD WORLD DESTINY IN THEIR HANDS
BY WILLIAM G. SHEPHERD
WASHINGTON—Out of a dingy law office in Virginia, out of a cobbler's shop in Wales, out of a village doctor's office in France and from a farm on the island of Sicily came the four men who, in the grand old palace at Versailles, will soon put the quietus on the divine right of kings.
In 1856, three days after Christmas, a boy named Thomas was born in the plain home of a Presbyterian parson in Staunton, Va. When this boy was 4 years old, there was born in Palermo, on the island of Sicily, 4,000 miles away, a black-eyed Sicilian boy. Into the town of Palermo, on that July day, came Garibaldi, in triumph, and the farmer-folk parents of the boy, in honor of the occasion, named their son Victor, after the new Italian king, whom Garibaldi had helped to seat.
Three years later still, when Thomas was playing the games of 7-year-old boys down in Virginia, and when Victor, at 3, spent most of his time romping on the little farm in Sicily, there was born in the heart of the foggy, grimy town of Manchester, in England, a boy named David. His home was the ugliest of the homes of all the three. It was of red brick, two stories high, with small windows, facing a busy stone sidewalk. Its rooms were small and little adorned, and not much hope of greatness could ever have sprung from that dingy place.
There was one other boy to make up the quartet. His name was George. He was a young medical student in Paris twenty-two years old when David was born in England. He thought all governments ought to be republics, and, by the time he was 25, he came over to the United States to study the American republic, and, if possible, to make a living over here as a doctor. He had been born in a little village in France, in a doctor's household.
While George was in New York, almost starving for lack of patients, and later, while he taught French in a girls' school in Stamford, Conn., little Thomas, down in Virginia, at the age of 10 years, had buckled down to his studies, with the hope of being a lawyer; Victor, at 6, was studying in a school in far-away Palermo, and David, at 3, fatherless by this time, was getting ready for life in the home of his uncle, a village shoemaker, in a little town of Wales. The only city-born boy of the four, he was taken by fate, when his father died, to the simplicity of village life and saved, perhaps, from the sidewalks.
The years whirled on. George married an American girl and went back to France, to write and teach and doctor. Thomas went to a university to study law. David, seven years younger, spent his evenings and spare time in his uncle's shoe shop or in the village blacksmith shop, listening to his elders talk over the affairs of the world.
Victor, with law as his vision, crossed the famous old straits of Messina from his island home and went to Naples to study in the law school there.
In the '80s things began to happen. Down in Virginia, Thomas was admitted to the bar. In old Wales, David, who, by this time, had learned to speak English, was admitted to practice law in 1884, and, in 1885, the black-eyed, hot-blooded Sicilian Victor received the documents that entitled him to practice at the Italian bar.
George, in France, by this time had dropped medicine. Bolshevism had arisen there in the form of the Commune, and he had fought it so desperately that he had been sentenced to death. He hated kings, and he also hated the autocracy of the mob. He fled from Paris.
Soon they will sit at a peace table together, the first peace table in all human history from which divine-right kings are barred. The future and the welfare of the world lie in their four pairs of hands. Their full names are: Georges Clemenceau, premier of France; David Lloyd George, prime minister of England; Victor Emanuel Orlando, premier of Italy, and Thomas Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States.
* * * * *
(Saturday Evening Post)
Three half-tone reproductions of wash-drawings by a staff artist.
THE CONFESSIONS OF A COLLEGE PROFESSOR'S WIFE
A college professor—as may be proved by any number of novels and plays—is a quaint, pedantic person, with spectacles and a beard, but without any passions—except for books. He takes delight in large fat words, but is utterly indifferent to such things as clothes and women—except the dowdy one he married when too young to know better.... It is always so interesting to see ourselves as authors see us.
Even more entertaining to us, however, is the shockingly inconsistent attitude toward academic life maintained by practical people who know all about real life—meaning the making and spending of money.
One evening soon after I became a college professor's wife I enjoyed the inestimable privilege of sitting next to one of America's safest and sanest business men at a dinner party given in his honor by one of the trustees of the university.
When he began to inform me, with that interesting air of originality which often accompanies the platitudes of our best citizens, that college professors were "mere visionary idealists—all academic theories; no practical knowledge of the world"—and so on, as usual—I made bold to interrupt:
"Why, in the name of common sense, then, do you send your own sons to them to be prepared for it! Is such a policy safe? Is it sane? Is it practical?" And I am afraid I laughed in the great man's face.
He only blinked and said "Humph!" in a thoroughly businesslike manner; but throughout the rest of the evening he viewed me askance, as though I had become a dangerous theorist too—by marriage. So I turned my back on him and wondered why such a large and brilliant dinner was given for such a dull and uninteresting Philistine!
This shows, by the way, how young and ignorant I was. The mystery was explained next day, when it was intimated to me that I had made what is sometimes called, even in refined college circles, a break. Young professors' wives were not expected to trifle with visitors of such eminent solvency; but I had frequently heard the materialistic tendencies of the age condemned in public, and had not been warned in private that we were all supposed to do our best to work this materialist for a million, with which to keep up the fight against materialism.
In the cloistered seclusion of our universities, dedicated to high ideals, more deference is shown to the masters of high finance than to the masters of other arts—let me add not because Mammon is worshiped, but because he is needed for building cloisters.
The search for truth would be far more congenial than the search for wealth; but, so long as our old-fashioned institutions remain, like old-fashioned females, dependent for their very existence on the bounty of personal favor, devious methods must be employed for coaxing and wheedling money out of those who control it—and therefore the truth.
I was a slender bride and had a fresh, becoming trousseau. He was a heavy-jowled banker and had many millions. I was supposed to ply what feminine arts I could command for the highly moral purpose of obtaining his dollars, to be used in destroying his ideals.
Well, that was the first and last time I was ever so employed. Despite the conscientious flattery of the others he gruntingly refused to give a penny. And—who knows—perhaps I was in part responsible for the loss of a million! A dreadful preface to my career as a college professor's wife.
However, before pursuing my personal confessions, I must not overlook the most common and comic characteristic of the college professor we all know and love in fiction. I refer to his picturesque absent-mindedness. I had almost forgotten that; possibly I have become absent-minded by marriage too! Is not the dear old fellow always absent-minded on the stage? Invariably and most deliriously! Just how he manages to remain on the Faculty when absent-minded is never explained on the program; and it often perplexes us who are behind the scenes.
I tell my husband that, in our case, I, as the dowdy and devoted wife, am supposed to interrupt his dreams—they always have dreams—remove his untidy dressing gown—they always wear dressing gowns—and dispatch him to the classroom with a kiss and a coat; but how about that great and growing proportion of his colleagues who, for reasons to be stated, are wifeless and presumably helpless?
Being only a woman, I cannot explain how bachelors retain their positions; but I shall venture to assert that no business in the world—not even the army and navy—is conducted on a more ruthless and inexorable schedule than the business of teaching.
My two brothers drift into their office at any time between nine and ten in the morning and yet control a fairly successful commercial enterprise; whereas, if my husband arrived at his eight-o'clock classroom only one minute late there would be no class there to teach. For it is an unwritten law among our engaging young friends the undergraduates that when the "prof" is not on hand before the bell stops ringing they can "cut"—thus avoiding what they were sent to college for and achieving one of the pleasantest triumphs of a university course.
My confessions! Dear me! What have I, a college professor's wife, to confess? At least three things:
1—That I love my husband so well that I wish I had never married him.
2—That I have been such a good wife that he does not know he ought never to have had one.
3—That if I had to do it all over again I would do the same thing all over again! This is indeed a confession, though whether it be of weakness of will or strength of faith you may decide if you read the rest.
The first time I saw the man who became my husband was at the Casino in Newport. And what was a poor professor doing at Newport? He was not a professor—he was a prince; a proud prince of the most royal realm of sport. Carl, as some of you might recall if that were his real name, had been the intercollegiate tennis champion a few years before, and now, with the kings of the court, had come to try his luck in the annual national tournament. He lasted until the finals this time and then was put out. That was as high as he ever got in the game.
Alas for the romance of love at first sight! He paid not the slightest attention to me, though he sat beside me for ten minutes; for, despite his defeat, he was as enthusiastically absorbed in the runner-up and the dashing defender of the title as—well, as the splendid sportsman I have since found him to be in disappointments far more grim.
As for me, I fear I hardly noticed him either, except to remark that he was very good-looking; for this was my first visit to Newport—the last too—and the pageantry of wealth and fashion was bewilderingly interesting to me. I was quite young then. I am older now. But such unintellectual exhibitions might, I fancy, still interest me—a shocking confession for a college professor's wife!
I did not see Carl again for two years, and then it was in another kind of pageant, amid pomp and circumstance of such a different sort; and, instead of white flannel trousers, he now wore a black silk gown. It had large flowing sleeves and a hood of loud colors hanging down behind; and he was blandly marching along in the academic procession at the inaugural ceremonies of the new president of the university.
I wonder why it is that when the stronger sex wishes to appear particularly dignified and impressive, as on the bench or in the pulpit, it likes to don female attire! No matter whether suffragists or antis—they all do it. Now some of these paraders seemed as embarrassed by their skirts as the weaker sex would be without them; but the way Carl wore his new honors and his new doctor's hood attracted my attention and held it. He seemed quite aware of the ridiculous aspect of an awkward squad of pedagogues paraded like chorus girls before an audience invited to watch the display; but, also, he actually enjoyed the comedy of it—and that is a distinction when you are an actor in the comedy! His quietly derisive strut altogether fascinated me. "Hurrah! Aren't we fine!" he seemed to say.
As the long, self-conscious procession passed where I sat, smiling and unnoticed, he suddenly looked up. His veiled twinkle happened to meet my gaze. It passed over me, instantly returned and rested on ray eyes for almost a second. Such a wonderful second for little me!... Not a gleam of recollection. He had quite forgotten that our names had once been pronounced to each other; but in that flashing instant he recognized, as I did, that we two knew each other better than anyone else in the whole assemblage.
The nicest smile in the world said as plainly as words, and all for me alone: "Hurrah! You see it too!" Then, with that deliciously derisive strut, he passed on, while something within me said: "There he is!—at last! He is the one for you!" And I glowed and was glad.
Carl informed me afterward that he had a similar sensation, and that all through the long platitudinous exercises my face was a great solace to him.
"Whenever they became particularly tiresome," he said, "I looked at you—and bore up."
I was not unaware that he was observing me; nor was I surprised when, at the end of the exhausting ordeal, he broke through the crowd—with oh, such dear impetuosity!—and asked my uncle to present him, while I, trembling at his approach, looked in the other direction, for I felt the crimson in my cheeks—I who had been out three seasons! Then I turned and raised my eyes to his, and he, too, colored deeply as he took my hand.
We saw no comedy in what followed.
There was plenty of comedy, only we were too romantic to see it. At the time it seemed entirely tragic to me that my people, though of the sort classified as cultured and refined, deploring the materialistic tendency of the age, violently objected to my caring for this wonderful being, who brilliantly embodied all they admired in baccalaureate sermons and extolled in Sunday-school.
It was not despite but because of that very thing that they opposed the match! If only he had not so ably curbed his materialistic tendencies they would have been delighted with this well-bred young man, for his was an even older family than ours, meaning one having money long enough to breed contempt for making it. Instead of a fortune, however, merely a tradition of noblesse oblige had come down to him, like an unwieldy heirloom. He had waved aside a promising opening in his cousin's bond-house on leaving college and invested five important years, as well as his small patrimony, in hard work at the leading universities abroad in order to secure a thorough working capital for the worst-paid profession in the world.
"If there were only some future in the teaching business!" as one of my elder brothers said; "but I've looked into the proposition. Why, even a full professor seldom gets more than four thousand—in most cases less. And it will be years before your young man is a full professor."
"I can wait," I said.
"But a girl like you could never stand that kind of life. You aren't fitted for it. You weren't brought up to be a poor man's wife."
"Plenty of tune to learn while waiting," I returned gayly enough, but heartsick at the thought of the long wait.
Carl, however, quite agreed with my brothers and wanted impetuously to start afresh in pursuit of the career in Wall Street he had forsworn, willing and eager—the darling!—to throw away ambition, change his inherited tastes, abandon his cultivated talents, and forget the five years he had "squandered in riotous learning," as he put it!
However, I was not willing—for his sake. He would regret it later. They always do. Besides, like Carl, I had certain unuttered ideals about serving the world in those days. We still have. Only now we better understand the world. Make no mistake about this. Men are just as noble as they used to be. Plenty of them are willing to sacrifice themselves—but not us. That is why so few of the sort most needed go in for teaching and preaching in these so-called materialistic days.
What was the actual, material result of my lover's having taken seriously the advice ladled out to him by college presidents and other evil companions of his innocent youth, who had besought him not to seek material gain?
At the time we found each other he was twenty-seven years of age and had just begun his career—an instructor in the economics department, with a thousand-dollar salary. That is not why he was called an economist; but can you blame my brothers for doing their best to break the engagement?... I do not—now. It was not their fault if Carl actually practiced what they merely preached. Should Carl be blamed? No; for he seriously intended never to marry at all—until he met me. Should I be blamed? Possibly; but I did my best to break the engagement too—and incidentally both our hearts—by going abroad and staying abroad until Carl—bless him!—came over after me.
I am not blaming anybody. I am merely telling why so few men in university work, or, for that matter, in most of the professions nowadays, can support wives until after the natural mating time is past. By that time their true mates have usually wed other men—men who can support them—not the men they really love, but the men they tell themselves they love! For, if marriage is woman's only true career, it is hardly true to one's family or oneself not to follow it before it is too late—especially when denied training for any other—even though she may be equally lacking in practical training for the only career open to her.
This sounds like a confession of personal failure due to the typical unpreparedness for marriage of the modern American girl. I do not think anyone could call our marriage a personal failure, though socially it may be. During the long period of our engagement I became almost as well prepared for my lifework as Carl was for his. Instead of just waiting in sweet, sighing idleness I took courses in domestic science, studied dietetics, mastered double-entry and learned to sew. I also began reading up on economics. The latter amused the family, for they thought the higher education of women quite unwomanly and had refused to let me go to college.
It amused Carl too, until I convinced him that I was really interested in the subject, not just in him; then he began sending me boxes of books instead of boxes of candy, which made the family laugh and call me strong-minded. I did not care what they called me. I was too busy making up for the time and money wasted on my disadvantageous advantages, which may have made me more attractive to men, but had not fitted me to be the wife of any man, rich or poor.
All that my accomplishments and those of my sisters actually accomplished, as I see it now, was to kill my dear father; for, though he made a large income as a lawyer, he had an even larger family and died a poor man, like so many prominent members of the bar.
I shall not dwell on the ordeal of a long engagement. It is often made to sound romantic in fiction, but in realistic life such an unnatural relationship is a refined atrocity—often an injurious one—except to pseudo-human beings so unreal and unromantic that they should never be married or engaged at all. I nearly died; and as for Carl—well, unrequited affection may be good for some men, but requited affection in such circumstances cannot be good for any man—if you grant that marriage is!
A high-strung, ambitious fellow like Carl needed no incentive to make him work hard or to keep him out of mischief, any more than he needed a prize to make him do his best at tennis or keep him from cheating in the score. What an ignoble view of these matters most good people accept! In point of fact he had been able to do more work and to play better tennis before receiving this long handicap—in short, would have been in a position to marry sooner if he had not been engaged to marry! This may sound strange, but that is merely because the truth is so seldom told about anything that concerns the most important relationship in life.
Nevertheless, despite what he was pleased to call his inspiration, he won his assistant professorship at an earlier age than the average, and we were married on fifteen hundred a year.
Oh, what a happy year! I am bound to say the family were very nice about it. Everyone was nice about it. And when we came back from our wedding journey the other professors' wives overwhelmed me with kindness and with calls—and with teas and dinners and receptions in our honor. Carl had been a very popular bachelor and his friends were pleased to treat me quite as if I were worthy of him. This was generous, but disquieting. I was afraid they would soon see through me and pity poor Carl.
I had supposed, like most outsiders, that the women of a university town would be dreadfully intellectual and modern—and I was rather in awe of them at first, being aware of my own magnificent limitations; but, for the most part, these charming new friends of mine, especially the wealthier members of the set I was thrown with, seemed guilelessly ignorant in respect of the interesting period of civilization in which they happened to live—almost as ignorant as I was and as most "nice people" are everywhere.
Books sufficiently old, art sufficiently classic, views sufficiently venerable to be respectable—these interested them, as did foreign travel and modern languages; but ideas that were modern could not be nice because they were new, though they might be nice in time—after they became stale. College culture, I soon discovered, does not care about what is happening to the world, but what used to happen to it.
"You see, my dear," Carl explained, with that quiet, casual manner so puzzling to pious devotees of "cultureine"—and even to me at first, though I adored and soon adopted it! "—universities don't lead thought—they follow it. In Europe institutions of learning may be—indeed, they frequently are—hotbeds of radicalism; in America our colleges are merely featherbeds for conservatism to die in respectably." Then he added: "But what could you expect? You see, we are still intellectually nouveaux over here, and therefore self-consciously correct and imitative, like the nouveaux riches. So long as you have a broad a you need never worry about a narrow mind."
As for the men, I had pictured the privilege of sitting at their feet and learning many interesting things about the universe. Perhaps they were too tired to have their feet encumbered by ignorant young women; for when I ventured to ask questions about their subject their answer was—not always—but in so many cases a solemn owllike "yes-and-no" that I soon learned my place. They did not expect or want a woman to know anything and preferred light banter and persiflage. I like that, too, when it is well done; but I was accustomed to men who did it better.
I preferred the society of their wives. I do not expect any member of the complacent sex to believe this statement—unless I add that the men did not fancy my society, which would not be strictly true; but, even if not so intellectual as I had feared, the women of our town were far more charming than I had hoped, and when you cannot have both cleverness and kindness the latter makes a more agreeable atmosphere for a permanent home. I still consider them the loveliest women in the world.
In short my only regret about being married was that we had wasted so much of the glory of youth apart. Youth is the time for love, but not for marriage! Some of our friends among the instructors marry on a thousand a year, even in these days of the high cost of living; and I should have been so willing to live as certain of them do—renting lodgings from a respectable artisan's wife and doing my own cooking on her stove after she had done hers.
Carl gave me no encouragement, however! Perhaps it was just as well; for when first engaged I did not know how to cook, though I was a good dancer and could play Liszt's Polonaise in E flat with but few mistakes.
As it turned out we began our wedded life quite luxuriously. We had a whole house to ourselves—and sometimes even a maid! In those days there were no flats in our town and certain small but shrewd local capitalists had built rows of tiny frame dwellings which they leased to assistant professors, assistant plumbers, and other respectable people of the same financial status, at rates which enabled them—the owners, not the tenants—to support charity and religion.
They were all alike—I refer to the houses now, not to all landlords necessarily—with a steep stoop in front and a drying yard for Monday mornings in the rear, the kind you see on the factory edges of great cities—except that ours were cleaner and were occupied by nicer people.
One of our next-door neighbors was a rising young butcher with his bride and the house on the other side of us was occupied by a postman, his progeny, and the piercing notes of his whistle—presumably a cast-off one—on which all of his numerous children, irrespective of sex or age, were ambitiously learning their father's calling, as was made clear through the thin dividing wall, which supplied visual privacy but did not prevent our knowing when they took their baths or in what terms they objected to doing so. It became a matter of interesting speculation to us what Willie would say the next Saturday night; and if we had quarreled they, in turn, could have—and would have—told what it was all about.
"Not every economist," Carl remarked whimsically, "can learn at first hand how the proletariat lives."
I, too, was learning at first hand much about my own profession. My original research in domestic science was sound in theory, but I soon discovered that my dietetic program was too expensive in practice. Instead of good cuts of beef I had to select second or third quality from the rising young butcher, who, by the way, has since risen to the dignity of a touring car. Instead of poultry we had pork, for this was before pork also rose.
My courses in bookkeeping, however, proved quite practical; and I may say that I was a good purchasing agent and general manager from the beginning of our partnership, instead of becoming one later through bitter experience, like so many young wives brought up to be ladies, not general houseworkers.
Frequently I had a maid, commonly called along our row the "gurrul"—and quite frequently I had none; for we could afford only young beginners, who, as soon as I had trained them well, left me for other mistresses who could afford to pay them well.
"Oh, we should not accuse the poor creatures of ingratitude," I told Carl one day. "Not every economist can learn at first hand the law of supply and demand."
If, however, as my fashionable aunt in town remarked, we were picturesquely impecunious—which, to that soft lady, probably meant that, we had to worry along without motor cars—we were just as desperately happy as we were poor; for we had each other at least. Every other deprivation seemed comparatively easy or amusing.
Nor were we the only ones who had each other—and therefore poverty. Scholarship meant sacrifice, but all agreed that it was the ideal life.
To be sure, some members of the Faculty—or their wives—had independent means and could better afford the ideal life. They were considered noble for choosing it. Some of the alumni who attended the great games and the graduating exercises were enormously wealthy, and gave the interest of their incomes—sometimes a whole handful of bonds at a time—to the support of the ideal life.
Was there any law compelling them to give their money to their Alma Mater? No—just as there was none compelling men like Carl to give their lives and sacrifice their wives. These men of wealth made even greater sacrifices. They could have kept in comfort a dozen wives apiece—modest ones—on what they voluntarily preferred to turn over to the dear old college. Professors, being impractical and visionary, cannot always see these things in their true proportions.
We, moreover, in return for our interest in education, did we not shamelessly accept monthly checks from the university treasurer's office? It was quite materialistic in us. Whereas these disinterested donors, instead of receiving checks, gave them, which is more blessed. And were they not checks of a denomination far larger than those we selfishly cashed for ourselves? Invariably. Therefore our princely benefactors were regarded not only as nobler but as the Nobility.
Indeed, the social stratification of my new home, where the excellent principles of high thinking and plain living were highly recommended for all who could not reverse the precept, struck me, a neophyte, as for all the world like that of a cathedral town in England, except that these visiting patrons of religion and learning were treated with a reverence and respect found only in America. Surely it must have amused them, had they not been so used to it; for they were quite the simplest, kindest, sweetest overrich people I had ever met in my own country—and they often took pains to tell us broad-mindedly that there were better things than money. Their tactful attempts to hide their awful affluence were quite appealing—occasionally rather comic. Like similarly conscious efforts to cover evident indigence, it was so palpable and so unnecessary.
"There, there!" I always wanted to say—until I, too, became accustomed to it. "It's all right. You can't help it."
It was dear of them all the same, however, and I would not seem ungrateful for their kind consideration. After all, how different from the purse-proud arrogance of wealth seen in our best—selling—fiction, though seldom elsewhere.
For the most part they were true gentlefolk, with the low voices and simple manners of several generations of breeding; and I liked them, for the most part, very much—especially certain old friends of our parents, who, I learned later, were willing to show their true friendship in more ways than Carl and I could permit.
One is frequently informed that the great compensation for underpaying the college professor is in the leisure to live—otium cum dignitate as returning old grads call it when they can remember their Latin, though as most of them cannot they call it a snap.
Carl, by the way, happened to be the secretary of his class, and his popularity with dear old classmates became a nuisance in our tiny home. I remember one well-known bachelor of arts who answered to the name of Spud, a rather vulgar little man. Comfortably seated in Carl's study one morning, with a cigar in his mouth, Spud began:
"My, what a snap! A couple of hours' work a day and three solid months' vacation! Why, just see, here you are loafing early in the morning! You ought to come up to the city! Humph! I'd show you what real work means."
Now my husband had been writing until two o'clock the night before, so that he had not yet made preparation for his next hour. It was so early indeed that I had not yet made the beds. Besides, I had heard all about our snap before and it was getting on my nerves.
"Carl would enjoy nothing better than seeing you work," I put in when the dear classmate finished; "but unfortunately he cannot spare the time."
Spud saw the point and left; but Carl, instead of giving me the thanks I deserved, gave me the first scolding of our married life! Now isn't that just like a husband?
Of course it can be proved by the annual catalogue that the average member of the Faculty has only about twelve or fourteen hours of classroom work a week—the worst-paid instructor more; the highest-paid professor less. What a university teacher gives to his students in the classroom, however, is or ought to be but a rendering of what he acquires outside, as when my distinguished father tried one of his well-prepared cases in court. Every new class, moreover, is a different proposition, as I once heard my brother say of his customers.
That is where the art of teaching comes in and where Carl excelled. He could make even the "dismal science," as Carlyle called economics, interesting, as was proved by the large numbers of men who elected his courses, despite the fact that he made them work hard to pass. Nor does this take into account original research and the writing of books like Carl's scholarly work on The History of Property, on which he had been slaving for three solid summers and hundreds of nights during termtime; not to speak of attending committee meetings constantly, and the furnace even more constantly. The latter, like making beds, is not mentioned in the official catalogue. I suppose such details would not become one's dignity.
As in every other occupation, some members of the Faculty do as little work as the law requires; but most of them are an extremely busy lot, even though they may, when it suits their schedule better, take exercise in the morning instead of the afternoon—an astonishing state of affairs that always scandalizes the so-called tired business man.
As for Carl, I was seeing so little of him except at mealtimes that I became rather piqued at first, being a bride. I felt sure he did not love me any more!
"Do you really think you have a right to devote so much time to outside work?" I asked one evening when I was washing the dishes and he was starting off for the university library to write on his great book.—It was the indirect womanly method of saying: "Oh, please devote just a little more time to me!"—"You ought to rest and be fresh for your classroom work," I added.
Being a man he did not see it.
"The way to advance in the teaching profession," he answered, with his veiled twinkle, "is to neglect it. It doesn't matter how poorly you teach, so long as you write dull books for other professors to read. That's why it is called scholarship—because you slight your scholars."
"Oh, I'm sick of all this talk about scholarship!" I cried. "What does it mean anyway?"
"Scholarship, my dear," said Carl, "means finding out all there is to know about something nobody else cares about, and then telling it in such a way that nobody else can find out. If you are understood you are popular; if you are popular you are no scholar. And if you're no scholar, how can you become a full professor? Now, my child, it is all clear to you."
And, dismissing me and the subject with a good-night kiss, he brushed his last year's hat and hurried off, taking the latchkey.
So much for otium.
"But where does the dignity come in?" I asked Carl one day when he was sharpening his lawnmower and thus neglecting his lawn tennis; for, like a Freshman, I still had much to learn about quaint old college customs.
"Why, in being called p'fessor by the tradesmen," said Carl. "Also in renting a doctor's hood for academic pee-rades at three dollars a pee-rade, instead of buying a new hat for the rest of the year. Great thing—dignity!"
He chuckled and began to cut the grass furiously, reminding me of a thoroughbred hunter I once saw harnessed to a plow.
"P'fessors of pugilism and dancing," he went on gravely, "haven't a bit more dignity than we have. They merely have more money. Just think! There isn't a butcher or grocer in this town who doesn't doff his hat to me when he whizzes by in his motor—even those whose bills I haven't paid. It's great to have dignity. I don't believe there's another place in the world where he who rides makes obeisance to him who walks. Much better than getting as high wages as a trustee's chauffeur! A salary is so much more dignified than wages."
He stopped to mop his brow, looking perfectly dignified.
"And yet," he added, egged on by my laughter, for I always loved his quiet irony—it was never directed at individuals, but at the ideas and traditions they blandly and blindly followed—
"And yet carping critics of the greatest nation on earth try to make out that art and intellectuality are not properly recognized in the States. Pessimists! Look at our picture galleries, filled with old masters from abroad! Think how that helps American artists! Look at our colleges, crowded with buildings more costly than Oxford's! Think how that encourages American teachers! Simply because an occasional foreign professor gets higher pay—bah! There are better things than money. For example, this!"
And he bent to his mower again, with much the same derisively dignified strut as on that memorable day long ago when I came and saw and was conquered by it—only then he wore black silk sleeves and now white shirtsleeves.
And so much for dignity.
I soon saw that if I were to be a help and not a hindrance to the man I loved I should have to depart from what I had been carefully trained to regard as woman's only true sphere. Do not be alarmed! I had no thought of leaving home or husband. It is simply that the home, in the industrial sense, is leaving the house—seventy-five per cent of it social scientists say, has gone already—so that nowadays a wife must go out after it or else find some new-fashioned productive substitute if she really intends to be an old-fashioned helpmate to her husband.
It was not a feminist theory but a financial condition that confronted us. My done-over trousseau would not last forever, nor would Carl's present intellectual wardrobe, which was becoming threadbare. Travel abroad and foreign study are just as necessary for an American scholar as foreign buying is for an American dealer in trousseaus.
I thought of many plans; but in a college town a woman's opportunities are so limited. We are not paid enough to be ladies, though we are required to dress and act like them—do not forget that point. And yet, when willing to stop being a lady, what could one do?
Finally I thought of dropping entirely out of the social, religious and charitable activities of the town, investing in a typewriter and subscribing to a correspondence-school course in stenography. I could at least help Carl prepare his lectures and relieve him of the burden of letter writing, thus giving him more time for book reviewing and other potboiling jobs, which were not only delaying his own book but making him burn the candle at both ends in the strenuous effort to make both ends meet.
I knew Carl would object, but I had not expected such an outburst of profane rage as followed my announcement. The poor boy was dreadfully tired, and for months, like the thoroughbred he was, he had repressed his true feelings under a quiet, quizzical smile.
"My heavens! What next?" he cried, jumping up and pacing the floor. "Haven't you already given up everything you were accustomed to—every innocent pleasure you deserve—every wholesome diversion you actually need in this God-forsaken, monotonous hole? Haven't I already dragged you down—you, a lovely, fine-grained, highly evolved woman—down to the position of a servant in my house? And now, on top of all this—No, by God! I won't have it! I tell you I won't have it!"
It may be a shocking confession, but I loved him for that wicked oath. He looked so splendid—all fire and furious determination, as when he used to rush up to the net in the deciding game of a tennis match, cool and quick as lightning.
"You are right, Carl dear," I said, kissing his profane lips; for I had learned long since never to argue with him. "I am too good to be a mere household drudge. It's an economic waste of superior ability. That's why I am going to be your secretary and save you time and money enough to get and keep a competent maid."
"But I tell you—"
"I know, dear; but what are we going to do about it? We can't go on this way. They've got us down—are we going to let them keep us down? Look into the future! Look at poor old Professor Culberson. Look at half of the older members of the Faculty! They have ceased to grow; their usefulness is over; they are all gone to seed—because they hadn't the courage or the cash to develop anything but their characters!"
Carl looked thoughtful. He had gained an idea for his book and, like a true scholar, forgot for the moment our personal situation.
"Really, you know," he mused, "does it pay Society to reward its individuals in inverse ratio to their usefulness?" He took out his pocket notebook and wrote: "Society itself suffers for rewarding that low order of cunning called business sense with the ultimate control of all other useful talents." He closed his notebook and smiled.
"And yet they call the present economic order safe and sane! And all of us who throw the searchlight of truth on it—dangerous theorists! Can you beat it?"
"Well," I rejoined, not being a scholar, "there's nothing dangerous about my theory. Instead of your stenographer becoming your wife, your wife becomes your stenographer—far safer and saner than the usual order. Men are much more apt to fall in love with lively little typewriters than with fat, flabby wives."
Though it was merely to make a poor joke out of a not objectionable necessity, my plan, as it turned out, was far wiser than I realized.
First, I surreptitiously card-catalogued the notes and references for Carl's "epoch-making book," as one of the sweet, vague wives of the Faculty always called her husband's volumes, which she never read. Then I learned to take down his lectures, to look up data in the library, to verify quotations, and even lent a hand in the book reviewing.
Soon I began to feel more than a mere consumer's interest—a producer's interest—in Carl's work. And then a wonderful thing happened: My husband began to see—just in time, I believe—that a wife could be more than a passive and more or less desirable appendage to a man's life—an active and intelligent partner in it. And he looked at me with a new and wondering respect, which was rather amusing, but very dear.
He had made the astonishing discovery that his wife had a mind!
Years of piano practice had helped to make my fingers nimble for the typewriter, and for this advantage I was duly grateful to the family's old-fashioned ideals, though I fear they did not appreciate my gratitude. Once, when visiting them during the holidays, I was laughingly boasting, before some guests invited to meet me at luncheon, about my part in the writing of Carl's History of Property, which had been dedicated to me and was now making a sensation in the economic world, though our guests in the social world had never heard of it.
Suddenly I saw a curious, uncomfortable look come over the faces of the family. Then I stopped and remembered that nowadays wives—nice wives, that is—are not supposed to be helpmates to their husbands except in name; quite as spinsters no longer spin. They can help him spend. At that they are truly better halves, but to help him earn is not nice. To our guests it could mean only one thing—namely, that my husband could not afford a secretary. Well, he could not. What of it?
For a moment I had the disquieting sensation of having paraded my poverty—a form of vulgarity that Carl and I detest as heartily as a display of wealth.
The family considerately informed me afterward, however, that they thought me brave to sacrifice myself so cheerfully. Dear me! I was not being brave. I was not being cheerful. I was being happy. There is no sacrifice in working for the man you love. And if you can do it with him—why, I conceitedly thought it quite a distinction. Few women have the ability or enterprise to attain it!
One of my sisters who, like me, had failed to "marry well" valeted for her husband; but somehow that seemed to be all right. For my part I never could see why it is more womanly to do menial work for a man than intellectual work with him. I have done both and ought to know.... Can it be merely because the one is done strictly in the home or because no one can see you do it? Or is it merely because it is unskilled labor?
It is all right for the superior sex to do skilled labor, but a true womanly woman must do only unskilled labor, and a fine lady none at all—so clothed as to prevent it and so displayed as to prove it, thus advertising to the world that the man who pays for her can also pay for secretaries and all sorts of expensive things. Is that the old idea?
If so I am afraid most college professors' wives should give up the old-fashioned expensive pose of ladyhood and join the new womanhood!
Well, as it turned out, we were enabled to spend our sabbatical year abroad—just in time to give Carl a new lease of life mentally and me physically; for both of us were on the verge of breaking down before we left.
Such a wonderful year! Revisiting his old haunts; attending lectures together in the German and French universities; working side by side in the great libraries; and meeting the great men of his profession at dinner! Then, between whiles, we had the best art and music thrown in! Ah, those are the only real luxuries we miss and long for! Indeed, to us, they are not really luxuries. Beauty is a necessity to some persons, like exercise; though others can get along perfectly well without it and, therefore, wonder why we cannot too.
Carl's book had already been discovered over there—that is perhaps the only reason it was discovered later over here—and every one was so kind about it. We felt quite important and used to wink at each other across the table. "Our" book, Carl always called it, like a dear. His work was my work now—his ambitions, my ambitions; not just emotionally or inspirationally, but intellectually, collaboratively. And that made our emotional interest in each other the keener and more satisfying. We had fallen completely in love with each other. For the first time we two were really one. Previously we had been merely pronounced so by a clergyman who read it out of a book.
Oh, the glory of loving some one more than oneself! And oh, the blessedness of toiling together for something greater and more important than either! That is what makes it possible for the other thing to endure—not merely for a few mad, glad years, followed by drab duty and dull regret, but for a happy lifetime of useful vigor. That, and not leisure or dignity, is the great compensation for the professorial life.
What a joy it was to me during that rosy-sweet early period of our union to watch Carl, like a proud mother, as he grew and exfoliated—like a plant that has been kept in a cellar and now in congenial soil and sunshine is showing at last its full potentialities. Through me my boy was attaining the full stature of a man; and I, his proud mate, was jealously glad that even his dear dead mother could not have brought that to pass.
His wit became less caustic; his manner more genial. People who once irritated now interested him. Some who used to fear him now liked him. And as for the undergraduates who had hero-worshiped this former tennis champion, they now shyly turned to him for counsel and advice. He was more of a man of the world than most of his colleagues and treated the boys as though they were men of the world too—for instance, he never referred to them as boys.
"I wouldn't be a damned fool if I were you," I once overheard him say to a certain young man who was suffering from an attack of what Carl called misdirected energy.
More than one he took in hand this way; and, though I used to call it—to tease him—his man-to-man manner, I saw that it was effective. I, too, grew fond of these frank, ingenuous youths. We used to have them at our house when we could spare an evening—often when we could not.
None of this work, it may be mentioned, is referred to in the annual catalogue or provided for in the annual budget; and yet it is often the most vital and lasting service a teacher renders his students—especially when their silly parents provide them with more pocket money than the professor's entire income for the support of himself, his family, his scholarship and his dignity.
"Your husband is not a professor," one of them confided shyly to me—"he's a human being!"
After the success of our book we were called to another college—a full professorship at three thousand a year! Carl loved his Alma Mater with a passion I sometimes failed to understand; but he could not afford to remain faithful to her forever on vague promises of future favor. He went to the president and said so plainly, hating the indignity of it and loathing the whole system that made such methods necessary.
The president would gladly have raised all the salaries if he had had the means. He could not meet the competitor's price, but he begged Carl to stay, offering the full title—meaning empty—of professor and a minimum wage of twenty-five hundred dollars, with the promise of full pay when the funds could be raised.
Now we had demonstrated that, even on the Faculty of an Eastern college, two persons could live on fifteen hundred. Therefore, with twenty-five hundred, we could not only exist but work efficiently. So we did not have to go.
* * * * *
I look back on those days as the happiest period of our life together. That is why I have lingered over them. Congenial work, bright prospects, perfect health, the affection of friends, the respect of rivals—what more could any woman want for her husband or herself?
Only one thing. And now that, too, was to be ours! However, with children came trouble, for which—bless their little hearts!—they are not responsible. Were we? I wonder! Had we a right to have children? Had we a right not to have children? It has been estimated by a member of the mathematical department that, at the present salary rate, each of the college professors of America is entitled to just two-fifths of a child.
Does this pay? Should only the financially fit be allowed to survive—to reproduce their species? Should or should not those who may be fittest physically, intellectually and morally also be entitled to the privilege and responsibility of taking their natural part in determining the character of America's future generations, for the evolution of the race and the glory of God?
* * * * *
A PARADISE FOR A PENNY
MADDENED BY THE CATALOGUES OF PEACE-TIME, ONE LOVER OF GARDENS YET MANAGED TO BUILD A LITTLE EDEN, AND TELLS HOW HE DID IT FOR A SONG
By WALTER PRICHARD EATON
War-time economy (which is a much pleasanter and doubtless a more patriotically approved phrase than war-time poverty) is not without its compensations, even to the gardener. At first I did not think so. Confronted by a vast array of new and empty borders and rock steps and natural-laid stone, flanking a wall fountain, and other features of a new garden ambitiously planned before the President was so inconsiderate as to declare war without consulting me, and confronted, too, by an empty purse—pardon me, I mean by the voluntarily imposed necessity for economy—I sat me down amid my catalogues, like Niobe amid her children, and wept. (Maybe it wasn't amid her children Niobe wept, but for them; anyhow I remember her as a symbol of lachrymosity.) Dear, alluring, immoral catalogues, sweet sirens for a man's undoing! How you sang to me of sedums, and whispered of peonies and irises—yea, even of German irises! How you spoke in soft, seductive accents of wonderful lilacs, and exquisite spireas, and sweet syringas, murmurous with bees! How you told of tulips and narcissuses, and a thousand lovely things for beds and borders and rock work—at so much a dozen, so very much a dozen, and a dozen so very few! I did not resort to cotton in my ears, but to tears and profanity.
Then two things happened. I got a letter from a Boston architect who had passed by and seen my unfinished place; and I took a walk up a back road where the Massachusetts Highway Commissioners hadn't sent a gang of workmen through to "improve" it. The architect said, "Keep your place simple. It cries for it. That's always the hardest thing to do—but the best." And the back-country roadside said, "Look at me; I didn't come from any catalogue; no nursery grew me; I'm really and truly 'perfectly hardy'; I didn't cost a cent—and can you beat me at any price? I'm a hundred per cent American, too."
I looked, and I admitted, with a blush of shame for ever doubting, that I certainly could not beat it. But, I suddenly realized, I could steal it!
I have been stealing it ever since, and having an enormously enjoyable time in the bargain.
Of course, stealing is a relative term, like anything else connected with morality. What would be stealing in the immediate neighborhood of a city is not even what the old South County oyster fisherman once described as "jest pilferin' 'round," out here on the edges of the wilderness. I go out with the trailer hitched to the back of my Ford, half a mile in any direction, and I pass roadsides where, if there are any farmer owners of the fields on the other side of the fence, these owners are only too glad to have a few of the massed, invading plants or bushes thinned out. But far more often there is not even a fence, or if there is, it has heavy woods or a swamp or a wild pasture beyond it. I could go after plants every day for six months and nobody would ever detect where I took them. My only rule—self-imposed—is never to take a single specimen, or even one of a small group, and always to take where thinning is useful, and where the land or the roadside is wild and neglected, and no human being can possibly be injured. Most often, indeed, I simply go up the mountain along, or into, my own woods.
I am not going to attempt any botanical or cultural description of what I am now attempting. That will have to wait, anyhow, till I know a little more about it myself! But I want to indicate, in a general way, some of the effects which are perfectly possible, I believe, here in a Massachusetts garden, without importing a single plant, or even sowing a seed or purchasing any stock from a nursery.
Take the matter of asters, for instance. Hitherto my garden, up here in the mountains where the frosts come early and we cannot have anemone, japonica, or chrysanthemums, has generally been a melancholy spectacle after the middle of September. Yet it is just at this time that our roadsides and woodland borders are the most beautiful. The answer isn't alone asters, but very largely. And nothing, I have discovered, is much easier to transplant than a New England aster, the showiest of the family. Within the confines of my own farm or its bordering woods are at least seven varieties of asters, and there are more within half a mile. They range in color from the deepest purple and lilac, through shades of blue, to white, and vary in height from the six feet my New Englands have attained in rich garden soil, to one foot. Moreover, by a little care, they can be so massed and alternated in a long border (such a border I have), as to pass in under heavy shade and out again into full sun, from a damp place to a dry place, and yet all be blooming at their best. With what other flower can you do that? And what other flower, at whatever price per dozen, will give you such abundance of beauty without a fear of frosts? I recently dug up a load of asters in bud, on a rainy day, and already they are in full bloom in their new garden places, without so much as a wilted leaf.
Adjoining my farm is an abandoned marble quarry. In that quarry, or, rather, in the rank grass bordering it, grow thousands of Solidago rigida, the big, flat-topped goldenrod. This is the only station for it in Berkshire County. As the ledges from this quarry come over into my pastures, and doubtless the goldenrod would have come too, had it not been for the sheep, what could be more fitting than for me to make this glorious yellow flower a part of my garden scheme? Surely if anything belongs in my peculiar soil and landscape it does. It transplants easily, and under cultivation reaches a large size and holds its bloom a long time. Massed with the asters it is superb, and I get it by going through the bars with a shovel and a wheelbarrow.
But a garden of goldenrod and asters would be somewhat dull from May to mid-August, and somewhat monotonous thereafter. I have no intention, of course, of barring out from my garden the stock perennials, and, indeed, I have already salvaged from my old place or grown from seed the indispensable phloxes, foxgloves, larkspur, hollyhocks, sweet william, climbing roses, platycodons and the like. But let me merely mention a few of the wild things I have brought in from the immediate neighborhood, and see if they do not promise, when naturally planted where the borders wind under trees, or grouped to the grass in front of asters, ferns, goldenrod and the shrubs I shall mention later, a kind of beauty and interest not to be secured by the usual garden methods.
There are painted trilliums, yellow and pink lady's slippers, Orchis spectabilis, hepaticas, bloodroot, violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, masses of baneberries, solomon's seal, true and false; smooth false foxglove, five-flowered and closed gentians, meadow lilies (Canadensis) and wood lilies (Philadelphicum), the former especially being here so common that I can go out and dig up the bulbs by the score, taking only one or two from any one spot. These are but a few of the flowers, blooming from early spring to late fall, in the borders, and I have forgotten to mention the little bunch berries from my own woods as an edging plant.
Let me turn now for a moment to the hedge and shrubbery screen which must intervene between my west border and the highway, and which is the crux of the garden. The hedge is already started with hemlocks from the mountain side, put in last spring. I must admit nursery in-grown evergreens are easier to handle, and make a better and quicker growth. But I am out now to see how far I can get with absolutely native material. Between the hedge and the border, where at first I dreamed of lilacs and the like, I now visualize as filling up with the kind of growth which lines our roads, and which is no less beautiful and much more fitting. From my own woods will come in spring (the only safe time to move them) masses of mountain laurel and azalea. From my own pasture fence-line will come red osier, dogwood, with its white blooms, its blue berries, its winter stem-coloring, and elderberry. From my own woods have already come several four-foot maple-leaved vibernums, which, though moved in June, throve and have made a fine new growth. There will be, also, a shadbush or two and certainly some hobble bushes, with here and there a young pine and small, slender canoe birch. Here and there will be a clump of flowering raspberry. I shall not scorn spireas, and I must have at least one big white syringa to scent the twilight; but the great mass of my screen will be exactly what nature would plant there if she were left alone—minus the choke cherries. You always have to exercise a little supervision over nature!
A feature of my garden is to be rock work and a little, thin stream of a brooklet flowing away from a wall fountain. I read in my catalogues of marvellous Alpine plants, and I dreamed of irises by my brook. I shall have some of both too. Why not? The war has got to end one of these days. But meanwhile, why be too down-hearted? On the cliffs above my pasture are masses of moss, holding, as a pincushion holds a breastpin, little early saxifrage plants. From the crannies frail hair bells dangle forth. There are clumps of purple cliffbrase and other tiny, exquisite ferns. On a gravel bank beside the State road are thousands of viper's bugloss plants; on a ledge nearby is an entire nursery of Sedum acre (the small yellow stone crop). Columbines grow like a weed in my mowing, and so do Quaker ladies, which, in England, are highly esteemed in the rock garden. The Greens Committee at the nearby golf club will certainly let me dig up some of the gay pinks which are a pest in one of the high, gravelly bunkers. And these are only a fraction of the native material available for my rock work and bank. Many of them are already in and thriving.
As for the little brook, any pond edge or brookside nearby has arrowheads, forget-me-nots, cardinal flowers, blue flag, clumps of beautiful grasses, monkey flowers, jewel-weed and the like. There are cowslips, too, and blue vervain, and white violets. If I want a clump of something tall, Joe-pye-weed is not to be disdained. No, I do not anticipate any trouble about my brookside. It will not look at all as I thought a year ago it was going to look. It will not look like an illustration in some "garden beautiful" magazine. It will look like—like a brook! I am tremendously excited now at the prospect of seeing it look like a brook, a little, lazy, trickling Yankee brook. If I ever let it look like anything else, I believe I shall deserve to have my spring dry up.
Probably I shall have moments of, for me, comparative affluence in the years to come, when I shall once more listen to the siren song of catalogues, and order Japanese irises, Darwin tulips, hybrid lilacs, and so on. But by that time, I feel sure, my native plants and shrubs will have got such a start, and made such a luxuriant, natural tangle, that they will assimilate the aliens and teach them their proper place in a New England garden. At any rate, till the war is over, I am 100 per cent Berkshire County!
* * * * *
WANTED: A HOME ASSISTANT
One illustration made by a staff artist, with the caption, "The New Home Assistant is Trained for Her Work."
WANTED: A HOME ASSISTANT
BUSINESS HOURS AND WAGES ARE HELPING WOMEN TO SOLVE THE SERVANT PROBLEM
BY LOUISE F. NELLIS
WANTED: A HOME ASSISTANT—Eight hours a day; six days a week. Sleep and eat at home. Pay, twelve dollars a week.
Whenever this notice appears in the Help Wanted column of a city newspaper, fifty to one hundred answers are received in the first twenty-four hours!
"Why," we hear some one say, "that seems impossible! When I advertised for a maid at forty dollars a month with board and lodging provided, not a soul answered. Why are so many responses received to the other advertisement?"
Let us look more closely at the first notice.
Wanted: A Home Assistant! How pleasant and dignified it sounds; nothing about a general houseworker or maid or servant, just Home Assistant! We can almost draw a picture of the kind of young woman who might be called by such a title. She comes, quiet, dignified, and interested in our home and its problems. She may have been in an office but has never really liked office work and has always longed for home surroundings and home duties.
I remember one case I was told of—a little stenographer. She had gladly assumed her new duties as Home Assistant, and had wept on the first Christmas Day with the family because it was the only Christmas she had spent in years in a home atmosphere. Or perhaps the applicant for the new kind of work in the home may have been employed in a department store and found the continuous standing on her feet too wearing. She welcomes the frequent change of occupation in her new position. Or she may be married with a little home of her own, but with the desire to add to the family income. We call these Home Assistants, Miss Smith or Mrs. Jones, and they preserve their own individuality and self-respect.
"Well, I would call my housemaid anything if I could only get one," says one young married woman. "There must be more to this new plan than calling them Home Assistants and addressing them as Miss."
Let us read further in the advertisement: "Eight hours a day; six days a week." One full day and one half day off each week, making a total of forty-four hours weekly which is the standard working week in most industrial occupations. At least two free Sundays a month should be given and a convenient week-day substituted for the other two Sundays. If Saturday is not the best half day to give, another afternoon may be arranged with the Home Assistant.
"Impossible," I can hear Mrs. Reader say, "I couldn't get along with eight hours' work a day, forty-four hours a week." No! Well, possibly you have had to get along without any maid at all, or you may have had some one in your kitchen who is incompetent and slovenly, whom you dare not discharge for fear you can not replace her. Would you rather not have a good interested worker for eight hours a day than none at all? During that time the Home Assistant works steadily and specialization is done away with. She is there to do your work and she does whatever may be called for. If she is asked to take care of the baby for a few hours, she does it willingly, as part of her duties; or if she is called upon to do some ironing left in the basket, she assumes that it is part of her work, and doesn't say, "No, Madam, I wasn't hired to do that," at the same time putting on her hat and leaving as under the old system.
The new plan seems expensive? "Twelve dollars a week is more than I have paid my domestic helper," Mrs. Reader says. But consider this more carefully. You pay from thirty-five to fifty dollars a month with all the worker's food and lodging provided. This is at the rate of eight to eleven dollars a week for wages. Food and room cost at least five dollars a week, and most estimates are higher. The old type of houseworker has cost us more than we have realized. The new system compares favorably in expense with the old.
"I am perfectly certain it wouldn't be practical not to feed my helper," Mrs. Reader says. Under the old system of a twelve to fourteen-hour working day, it would not be feasible, but if she is on the eight-hour basis, the worker can bring a box-luncheon with her, or she can go outside to a restaurant just as she would if she were in an office or factory. The time spent in eating is not included in her day's work. Think of the relief to the house-keeper who can order what her family likes to eat without having to say, "Oh, I can't have that; Mary wouldn't eat it you know."
"I can't afford a Home Assistant or a maid at the present wages," some one says. "But I do wish I had some one who could get and serve dinner every night. I am so tired by evening that cooking is the last straw."
Try looking for a Home Assistant for four hours a day to relieve you of just this work. You would have to pay about a dollar a day or six dollars a week for such service and it would be worth it.
How does the Home Assistant plan work in households where two or more helpers are kept? The more complicated homes run several shifts of workers, coming in at different hours and covering every need of the day. One woman I talked to told me that she studied out her problem in this way! She did every bit of the work in her house for a while in order to find out how long each job took. She found, for instance, that it took twenty-five minutes to clean one bathroom, ten minutes to brush down and dust a flight of stairs, thirty minutes to do the dinner dishes, and so on through all the work. She made out a time-card which showed that twenty-two hours of work a day was needed for her home. She knew how much money she could spend and she proceeded to divide the work and money among several assistants coming in on different shifts. Her household now runs like clockwork. One of the splendid things about this new system is its great flexibility and the fact that it can be adapted to any household.
Thoughtful and intelligent planning such as this woman gave to her problems is necessary for the greatest success of the plan. The old haphazard methods must go. The housekeeper who has been in the habit of coming into her kitchen about half past five and saying, "Oh, Mary, what can we have for dinner? I have just come back from down-town; I did expect to be home sooner," will not get the most out of her Home Assistant. Work must be scheduled and planned ahead, the home must be run on business methods if the system is to succeed. I heard this explained to a group of women not long ago. After the talk, one of them said, "Well, in business houses and factories there is a foreman who runs the shop and oversees the workers. It wouldn't work in homes because we haven't any foreman." She had entirely overlooked her job as forewoman of her own establishment!
"Suppose I have company for dinner and the Home Assistant isn't through her work when her eight hours are up, what happens?" some one asks. All overtime work is paid for at the rate of one and one-half times the hourly rate. If you are paying your assistant twelve dollars for a forty-four-hour week, you are giving her twenty-eight cents an hour. One and one half times this amounts to forty-two cents an hour, which she receives for extra work just as she would in the business world.
"Will these girls from offices and stores do their work well? They have had no training for housework unless they have happened to do some in their own homes," some one wisely remarks. The lack of systematic preparation has always been one of the troubles with our domestic helpers. It is true that the new type of girl trained in business to be punctual and alert, and to use her mind, adapts herself very quickly to her work, but the trained worker in any field has an advantage. With this in mind the Central Branch of the Young Women's Christian Association in New York City has started a training-school for Home Assistants. The course provides demonstrations on the preparation of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and talks on the following: House-cleaning, Laundry, Care of Children, Shopping, Planning work, Deportment, Efficiency, and Duty to Employer. This course gives a girl a general knowledge of her duties and what is even more important she acquires the right mental attitude toward her work. The girls are given an examination and those who successfully pass it are given a certificate and placed as Trained Home Assistants at fifteen dollars a week.
The National Association would like to see these training-schools turning out this type of worker for the homes all over the country. This is a constructive piece of work for women to undertake. Housewives' Leagues have interested themselves in this in various centers, and the Y.W.C.A. will help wherever it can. There are always home economics graduates in every town who could help give the course, and there are excellent housekeepers who excel in some branch who could give a talk or two.
The course would be worth a great deal in results to any community. The United States Employment Bureaus are also taking a hand in this, and, with the cooeperation of the High Schools, are placing girls as trained assistants on the new basis. I have talked with many women who are not only using this plan to-day but have been for several years.
It has been more than six years ago since Mrs. Helene Barker's book "Wanted a Young Woman to Do Housework" was published.
This gave the working plan to the idea. Women in Boston, Providence, New York, Cleveland, and in many other cities have become so enthusiastic over their success in running their homes with the Home Assistants that a number are giving their time to lecturing and talking to groups of women about it.
Let me give two concrete illustrations of the practical application of housework on a business basis.
Mrs. A. lives in a small city in the Middle West. Her household consists of herself, her husband, and her twelve year old son. She had had the usual string of impossible maids or none at all until she tried the new system. Through a girls' club in a factory in the city, she secured a young woman to work for her at factory hours and wages. Her assistant came at seven-thirty in the morning. By having the breakfast cereal prepared the night before, breakfast could be served promptly at eight, a plan which was necessary in order that the boy get to school on time. Each morning's work was written out and hung up in the kitchen so that the assistant wasted no time in waiting to know what she had to do. Lunch was at twelve-fifteen, and at one o'clock the Home Assistant went home.
She came back on regular duty at five-thirty to prepare and serve the dinner. Except for times when there were guests for dinner she was through her work by eight. When she worked overtime, there was the extra pay to compensate. Mrs. A. paid her thirteen dollars a week and felt that she saved money by the new plan. The assistant was off duty every other Sunday, and on alternate weeks was given all day Tuesday off instead of Sunday. Tuesday was the day the heavy washing was done and the laundress was there to help with any work which Mrs. A. did not feel equal to doing. Even though there are times in the day when she is alone, Mrs. A. says she would not go back to the old system for anything.
Mrs. B. lives in a city apartment. There are four grown people in the family. She formerly kept two maids, a cook-laundress, and a waitress-chambermaid. She often had a great deal of trouble finding a cook who would do the washing. As her apartment had only one maid's room, she had to give one of the guestrooms to the second maid. She paid these girls forty dollars apiece and provided them with room and board. Her apartment cost her one hundred and fifteen dollars a month for seven rooms, two of which were occupied by maids.
Mrs. B. decided to put her household on the new business basis last Fall. She moved into a five-room apartment which cost her ninety dollars, but she had larger rooms and a newer building with more up-to-date improvements than she had had before. She saved twenty-five dollars a month on rent plus eighty dollars wages and about thirty dollars on her former maids' food. All together she had one hundred and thirty-five dollars which could be used for Home Assistants. This is the way the money was spent:
A laundress once a week................................ $2.60 Home Assistant, on duty from 7.30 A.M. to 2 P.M........ 10.00 Home Assistant, on duty from 12 M. to 9 P.M............ 15.00 Week...............................................$27.60
On this schedule the work was done better than ever before. There was no longer any grievance about the washing. Mrs. B. had some one continuously on duty. The morning assistant was allowed a half hour at noon to eat her luncheon which she brought with her. As Mrs. B. entertained a great deal, especially at luncheon, she arranged to have the schedule of the two assistants overlap at this time of day. The morning worker, it will be noted, was employed for only six hours. The afternoon worker was a trained assistant and, therefore, received fifteen dollars a week. She had an hour off, between three-thirty and four-thirty and was on duty again in time to serve tea or afternoon refreshments. If there were a number of extra people for dinner, the assistant was expected to stay until nine and there was never any complaining about too much company. Mrs. B. has a better apartment and saves money every month besides!
* * * * *
(New York Sun)
SIX YEARS OF TEA ROOMS
BUSINESS CAREER OF A WOMAN COLLEGE GRADUATE
"For the last three years I have cleared $5,000 a year on my tea rooms," declared a young woman who six years ago was graduated with distinction at one of the leading colleges of the country.
"I attained my twenty-third birthday a month after I received my diploma. On that day I took stock of the capital with which I was to step into the world and earn my own living. My stock taking showed perfect health, my college education and $300, my share of my father's estate after the expenses of my college course had been paid.
"In spite of the protests of many of my friends I decided to become a business woman instead of entering one of the professions. I believed that a well conducted tea room in a college town where there was nothing of the kind would pay well, and I proceeded to open a place.
"After renting a suitable room I invested $100 in furnishings. Besides having a paid announcement in the college and town papers I had a thousand leaflets printed and distributed.
"Though I couldn't afford music I did have my rooms decorated profusely with flowers on the afternoon of my opening. As it was early in the autumn the flowers were inexpensive and made a brave show. My only assistant was a young Irish woman whom I had engaged for one month as waitress, with the understanding that if my venture succeeded I would engage her permanently.
"We paid expenses that first afternoon, and by the end of the week the business had increased to such an extent that I might have engaged a second waitress had not so many of my friends persisted in shaking their heads and saying the novelty would soon wear off. During the second week my little Irish girl and I had so much to do that on several occasions our college boy patrons felt themselves constrained to offer their services as waiters, while more than one of the young professors after a long wait left the room with the remark that they would go elsewhere.
"Of course it was well enough to laugh as we all knew there was no 'elsewhere,' but when I recalled how ready people are to crowd into a field that has proved successful, I determined no longer to heed the shaking heads of my friends. The third week found me not only with a second assistant but with a card posted in a conspicuous place announcing that at the beginning of the next week I would enlarge my quarters in such a way as to accommodate more than twice as many guests.
"Having proved to my own satisfaction that my venture was and would be successful, I didn't hesitate to go into debt to the extent of $150. This was not only to repair and freshen up the new room but also to equip it with more expensive furnishing than I had felt myself justified in buying for the first.
"Knowing how every little thing that happens is talked about in a college town, I was sure the difference in the furnishings of the rooms would prove a good advertisement. I counted on it to draw custom, but not just in the way it did.
"Before I realized just what was happening I was receiving letters from college boys who, after proclaiming themselves among my very first customers, demanded to know why they were discriminated against. I had noticed that everybody appeared to prefer the new room and that on several occasions when persons telephoning for reservations had been unable to get the promise of a table in there, they had said they would wait and come at another time. What I had not noticed was that only men coming alone or with other men, and girls coming with other girls, would accept seats in the first room.
"I learned from the letters of 'my very first patrons' that no gentleman would take a girl to have tea in a second class tea room. They were not only hitting at the cheaper furnishings of my first room but also at the waiter whom I had employed, because I felt the need of a man's help in doing heavy work. The girl in her fresh apron and cap was more attractive than the man, and because he happened to serve in the first room he also was second class.
"No, I couldn't afford to buy new furniture for that room, so I did the only thing I could think of. I mixed the furniture in such a way as to make the two rooms look practically alike. I hired another girl and relegated the man to the kitchen except in case of emergency.
"Although my custom fell off in summer to a bare sprinkling of guests afternoons and evenings and to almost no one at lunch, I kept the same number of employees and had them put up preserves, jams, syrups, and pickles for use the coming season. I knew it would not only be an economical plan but also a great drawing card, especially with certain of the professors, to be able to say that everything served was made on the place and under my own supervision.
"My second winter proved so successful that I determined to buy a home for my business so that I might have things exactly as I wished. I was able to pay the first instalment, $2,500, on the purchase price and still have enough in bank to make alterations and buy the necessary furnishings.
"The move was made during the summer, and when I opened up in the autumn I had such crowds afternoons and evenings that I had to put extra tables in the halls until I could get a room on the second floor ready. At present I have two entire floors and often have so many waiting that it is next to impossible to pass through the entrance hall.
"Three summers ago I opened a second tea room at a seashore resort on the New England coast. I heard of the place through a classmate whose family owned a cottage down there. She described it as deadly dull, because there was nothing to do but bathe and boat unless you were the happy possessor of an automobile or a horse.
"I was so much interested in her description of the place that I went down one warm day in April and looked things over. I found a stretch of about three miles of beach lined with well appearing and handsome cottages and not a single place of amusement. The village behind the beach is a lovely old place, with twenty or more handsome old homes surrounded by grand trees. There are two or three small stores, a post office, two liveries and the railroad station half a mile away.
"Before I left that afternoon I had paid the first month's rent on the best of the only two cottages to be rented on the beach. Of course it needed considerable fixing up and that had to be done at my own expense, but as I was getting it at a rental of $200 for the season I was not worried at the outlay. The cottages told me enough of the character of the people who summered on that beach to make me sure that I would get good interest on all the money spent.
"Immediately after commencement I shut up my college tea rooms, leaving only the kitchen and storeroom open and in charge of an experienced woman with instructions to get more help when putting up preserves and pickles made it necessary. Then I moved.
"The two first days on the beach my tea room didn't have a visitor. People strolled by and stared at the sign, but nobody came in to try my tea. The third day I had a call from my landlord, who informed me that he had been misled into letting me have his cottage, and offering to return the amount paid for the first month's rent, he very politely requested me to move out.
"After considerable talking I discovered that the cottagers didn't like the way my waitresses dressed. They were too stylish and my rooms appeared from the outside to be so brilliantly lighted that they thought I intended to sell liquor.
"I didn't accept the offered rent, neither did I agree to move out, but I did assure my landlord that I would go the very day anything really objectionable happened on my premises. I told him of my success in the college town and then invited him to bring his family the following afternoon to try my tea.
"Well, they came, they saw, and I conquered. That evening all the tables on my piazza were filled and there was a slight sprinkling indoors. A few days later the classmate who had told me of the place came down for the summer and my troubles were at an end.
"The secret of my success is hard work and catering to the taste of my patrons. Had I opened either a cheap or a showy place in the college town, I would not have gained the good will of the faculty or the patronage of the best class of students. If my prices had been too high or the refreshments served not up to the notch, the result would not have been so satisfactory.
"Knowing one college town pretty well, I knew just about what was needed in the student's life; that is, an attractive looking place, eminently respectable, where you can take your best girl and get good things to eat well served at a reasonable cost.
"The needs of the beach were pretty much the same. People can't stay in the water all the time, neither can they spin around the country or go to an unlighted village at night in their carriages and automobiles. My tea room offers a recreation, without being a dissipation.
"Another point about which many people question me is the effect of my being a business woman on my social standing. I haven't noticed any slights. I receive many more invitations than it is possible for me to accept. I go with the same set of girls that I did while I was in college.
"Two of my classmates are lawyers, more than one is a doctor, and three have gone on the stage. I know that my earnings are far more than any of theirs, and I am sure they do not enjoy their business any more than I do. If I had to begin again I would do exactly as I have done, with one exception—I would lay out the whole of my $300 in furnishing that first tea room instead of keeping $75 as a nest egg in bank."