Click here to Download Fanny Herself PDF Book by Edna Ferber Language English having PDF Size 2.3 MB and No of Pages 163.
You could not have lived a week in Winnebago without being aware of Mrs. Brandeis. In a town of ten thousand, where every one was a personality, from Hen Cody, the drayman, in blue overalls (magically transformed on Sunday mornings into a suave black-broadcloth usher at the Congregational Church), to A. J. Dawes, who owned the waterworks before the city bought it.
Fanny Herself PDF Book by Edna Ferber
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Mrs. Brandeis was a super-personality. Winnebago did not know it. Winnebago, buying its dolls, and china, and Battenberg braid and tinware and toys of Mrs. Brandeis, of Brandeis’ Bazaar, realized vaguely that here was some one different. When you entered the long, cool, narrow store on Elm Street, Mrs. Brandeis herself came forward to serve you, unless she already was busy with two customers.
There were two clerks —three, if you count Aloysius, the boy—but to Mrs. Brandeis belonged the privilege of docketing you first. If you happened in during a moment of business lull, you were likely to find her reading in the left-hand corner at the front of the store, near the shelf where were ranged the dolls’ heads, the pens, the pencils, and school supplies.
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You saw a sturdy, well-set-up, alert woman, of the kind that looks taller than she really is; a woman with a long, straight, clever nose that indexed her character, as did everything about her, from her crisp, vigorous, abundant hair to the way she came down hard on her heels in walking. She was what might be called a very definite person. But first you remarked her eyes.
Will you concede that eyes can be piercing, yet velvety? Their piercingness was a mental quality, I suppose, and the velvety softness a physical one. One could only think, somehow, of wild pansies—the brown kind. If Winnebago had taken the trouble to glance at the title of the book she laid face down on the pencil boxes as you entered.
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It would have learned that the book was one of Balzac’s, or, perhaps, Zangwill’s, or Zola’s. She never could overcome that habit of snatching a chapter here and there during dull moments. She was too tired to read when night came. There were many times when the little Wisconsin town lay broiling in the August sun, or locked in the January drifts, and the main business street was as silent as that of a deserted village.
But more often she came forward to you from the rear of the store, with bits of excelsior clinging to her black sateen apron. You knew that she had been helping Aloysius as he unpacked a consignment of chamber sets or a hogshead of china or glassware, chalking each piece with the price mark as it was dug from its nest of straw and paper.
“How do you do!” she would say. “What can I do for you?” And in that moment she had you listed, indexed, and filed, were you a farmer woman in a black shawl and rusty bonnet with a faded rose bobbing grotesquely atop it, or one of the patronizing East End set who came to Brandeis’ Bazaar because Mrs. Brandeis’ party favors, for one thing, were of a variety that could be got nowhere else this side of Chicago. Fanny Herself PDF Book
If, after greeting you, Mrs. Brandeis called, “Sadie! Stockings!” (supposing stockings were your quest), you might know that Mrs. Brandeis had weighed you and found you wanting. There had always been a store—at least, ever since Fanny could remember. She often thought how queer it would seem to have to buy pins, or needles, or dishes, or soap, or thread.
The store held all these things, and many more. Just to glance at the bewildering display outside gave you promise of the variety within. Winnebago was rather ashamed of that display. It was before the day of repression in decoration, and the two benches in front of the windows overflowed with lamps, and water sets, and brooms, and boilers and tinware and hampers.
Once the Winnebago Courier had had a sarcastic editorial about what they called the Oriental bazaar (that was after the editor, Lem Davis, had bumped his shin against a toy cart that protruded unduly), but Mrs. Brandeis changed nothing. She knew that the farmer women who stood outside with their husbands on busy Saturdays would not have understood repression in display. Fanny Herself PDF Book
But they did understand the tickets that marked the wares in plain figures—this berry set, $1.59; that lamp, $1.23. They talked it over, outside, and drifted away, and came back, and entered, and bought. She knew when to be old-fashioned, did Mrs. Brandeis, and when to be modern. She had worn the first short walking skirt in Winnebago.
It cleared the ground in a day before germs were discovered, when women’s skirts trailed and flounced behind them in a cloud of dust. One of her scandalized neighbors (Mrs. Nathan Pereles, it was) had taken her aside to tell her that no decent woman would dress that way. Indians, priests, cavaliers, coureurs de bois, all vanished.
Fanny would stand a moment, blinking stupidly. The next moment she was running as fleetly as the best of the boys in savage pursuit of one of her companions in the tag game. She was a strange mixture of tomboy and bookworm, which was a mercifully kind arrangement for both body and mind. Fanny Herself PDF Book Download
The spiritual side of her was groping and staggering and feeling its way about as does that of any little girl whose mind is exceptionally active, and whose mother is unusually busy. It was on the Day of Atonement, known in the Hebrew as Yom Kippur, in the year following her father’s death that that side of her performed a rather interesting handspring.
Fanny Brandeis had never been allowed to fast on this, the greatest and most solemn of Jewish holy days Molly Brandeis’ modern side refused to countenance the practice of withholding food from any child for twenty-four hours. So it was in the face of disapproval that Fanny, making deep inroads into the steak and fried sweet potatoes at supper on the eve of the Day of Atonement.
Announced her intention of fasting from that meal to supper on the following evening. She had just passed her plate for a third helping of potatoes. Theodore, one lap behind her in the race, had entered his objection. “Well, for the land’s sakes!” he protested. “I guess you’re not the only one who likes sweet potatoes.” Fanny Herself PDF Book Download
Fanny applied a generous dab of butter to an already buttery morsel, and chewed it with an air of conscious virtue. “I’ve got to eat a lot. This is the last bite I’ll have until to-morrow night.” “What’s that?” exclaimed Mrs. Brandeis, sharply. “Yes, it is!” hooted Theodore. Fanny went on conscientiously eating as she explained.
“Bella Weinberg and I are going to fast all day. We just want to see if we can.” “Betcha can’t,” Theodore said. Mrs. Brandeis regarded her small daughter with a thoughtful gaze. “But that isn’t the object in fasting, Fanny—just to see if you can. If you’re going to think of food all through the Yom Kippur services——” “I sha’n’t?” protested Fanny passionately.
“Theodore would, but I won’t.” “Wouldn’t any such thing,” denied Theodore. “But if I’m going to play a violin solo during the memorial service I guess I’ve got to eat my regular meals.” Theodore sometimes played at temple, on special occasions. The little congregation, listening to the throbbing rise and fall of this fifteen-year-old boy’s violin playing, realized, vaguely. Fanny Herself PDF Book Download
That here was something disturbingly, harrowingly beautiful. They did not know that they were listening to genius. Molly Brandeis, in her second best dress, walked to temple Yom Kippur eve, her son at her right side, her daughter at her left. She had made up her mind that she would not let this next day, with its poignantly beautiful service, move her too deeply.
It was the first since her husband’s death, and Rabbi Thalmann rather prided himself on his rendition of the memorial service that came at three in the afternoon. “And so,” she finished, “I used to wonder, sometimes, whether it was worth while to keep on, and what it was all for. And now I know. Theodore is going to make up for everything.
Only we’ll have to help him, first. It’s going to be hard on you, Fanchen. I’m talking to you as if you were eighteen, instead of fourteen. But I want you to understand. That isn’t fair to you either—my expecting you to understand. Only I don’t want you to hate me too much when you’re a woman, and I’m gone, and you’ll remember—” “Why, Mother, what in the world are you talking about? Fanny Herself PDF Book Download
Hate you!” “For what I took from you to give to him, Fanny. You don’t understand now. Things must be made easy for Theodore. It will mean that you and I will have to scrimp and save. Not now and then, but all the time. It will mean that we can’t go to the theater, even occasionally, or to lectures, or concerts.
It will mean that your clothes won’t be as pretty or as new as the other girls’ clothes. You’ll sit on the front porch evenings, and watch them go by, and you’ll want to go too.” “As if I cared.” “But you will care. I know. I know. It’s easy enough to talk about sacrifice in a burst of feeling; but it’s the everyday, shriveling grind that’s hard.
You’ll want clothes, and books, and beaux, and education, and you ought to have them. They’re your right. You ought to have them!” Suddenly Molly Brandeis’ arms were folded on the table, and her head came down on her arms and she was crying, quietly, horribly, as a man cries. Fanny stared at her a moment in unbelief. Fanny Herself PDF Book Free
She had not seen her mother cry since the day of Ferdinand Brandeis’ death. She scrambled out of her chair and thrust her head down next her mother’s, so that her hot, smooth cheek touched the wet, cold one. “Mother, don’t! Don’t Molly dearie. I can’t bear it. I’m going to cry too. Do you think I care for old dresses and things?
I should say not. It’s going to be fun going without things. It’ll be like having a secret or something. Now stop, and let’s talk about it.” Molly Brandeis wiped her eyes, and sat up, and smiled. It was a watery and wavering smile, but it showed that she was mistress of herself again. “No,” she said, “we just won’t talk about it any more.
I’m tired, that’s what’s the matter with me, and I haven’t sense enough to know it. I’ll tell you what. I’m going to put on my kimono, and you’ll make some fudge. Will you? We’ll have a party, all by ourselves, and if Mattie scolds about the milk to-morrow you just tell her I said you could. And I think there are some walnut meats in the third cocoa can on the shelf in the pantry. Use ’em all.” Fanny Herself PDF Book Free
Molly Brandeis shook her head, though her expressive eyes were eager and interested. “Don’t you think I’ve thought of that, Emma? A thousand times? But I’m—I’m afraid. There’s too much at stake. Suppose I couldn’t succeed? There’s Theodore. His whole future is dependent on me for the next few years.
And there’s Fanny here. No, I guess I’m too old. And I’m sure of the business here, small as it is.” Emma McChesney glanced at the girl. “I’m thinking that Fanny has the making of a pretty capable business woman herself.” Fanny drew in her breath sharply, and her face sparkled into sudden life, as always when she was tremendously interested.
“Do you know what I’d do if I were in Mother’s place? I’d take a great, big running jump for it and land! I’d take a chance. What is there for her in this town? Nothing! She’s been giving things up all her life, and what has it brought her?” “It has brought me a comfortable living, and the love of my two children, and the respect of my townspeople.” Fanny Herself PDF Book Free
“Respect? Why shouldn’t they respect you? You’re the smartest woman in Winnebago, and the hardest working.” Emma McChesney frowned a little, in thought. “What do you two girls do for recreation?” “I’m afraid we have too little of that, Emma. I know Fanny has. I’m so dog-tired at the end of the day. All I want is to take my hairpins out and go to bed.”
“And Fanny?” “Oh, I read. I’m free to pick my book friends, at least.” “Now, just what do you mean by that, child? It sounds a little bitter.” “I was thinking of what Chesterfield said in one of his Letters to His Son. `Choose always to be in the society of those above you,’ he wrote. I guess he lived in Winnebago, Wisconsin.
I’m a working woman, and a Jew, and we haven’t any money or social position. And unless she’s a Becky Sharp any small town girl with all those handicaps might as well choose a certain constellation of stars in the sky to wear as a breastpin, as try to choose the friends she really wants.” From Molly Brandeis to Emma McChesney there flashed a look that said, “You see?” And from Emma McChesney to Molly Brandeis another that said, “Yes; and it’s your fault.” Fanny Herself PDF Book Free