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The door closed with a light click, and Jane looked about her with a great and sudden surprise. Poor stupid, stumbling child ! - she understood at last in what spirit she had been received and on what footing she had been placed.
She found herself in a small, cramped, low-ceiled room which was filled with worn and antiquated furniture. There was a ponderous old mahogany bureau, with the veneering cracked and peeled, and a bed to correspond. There was a shabby little writing-desk, whose let-down lid was lined with faded and blotted green baize. On the floor there was an old Brussels carpet, antique as to pattern, and wholly threadbare as to surface. The walls were covered with an old-time paper whose plaintive primitiveness ran in slender pink stripes alternating with narrow green vines. In one corner stood a small upright piano whose top was littered with loose sheets of old music, and on one wall hung a set of thin black-walnut shelves strung together with cords and loaded with a variety of well-worn volumes. In the grate was a coal fire.
Mrs. Bates sat down on the foot of the bed, and motioned Jane to a small rocker that had been re-seated with a bit of old rugging.
“And now,” she said, cheerily, “let's get to business. Sue Bates, at your service.”
“Oh, no,” gasped Jane, who felt, however dumbly and mistily, that this was an epoch in her life. Not here; not to-day.”
«Why not? Go ahead; tell me all about the charity that isn't a charity. You'd better; this is the last room— there's nothing beyond.” Her eyes were twinkling, but immensely kind.
"I know it,” stammered Jane. "I knew it in a second.” She felt too that not a dozen persons had ever penetrated to this little chamber. «How good you are to me! »
Presently, under some compulsion, she was making an exposition of her small plan. Mrs. Bates was made to understand how some of the old Dearborn Seminary girls were trying to start a sort of club-room in some convenient down-town building for typewriters and saleswomen and others employed in business. There was to be a room where they could get lunch, or bring their own to eat, if they preferred; also a parlor where they could fill up their noon hour with talk or reading or music; it was the expectation to have a piano and a few books and magazines.
“I remembered Lottie as one of the girls who went with us there, down on old Dearborn Place, and I thought perhaps I could interest Lottie's mother,” concluded Jane.
"And so you can,” said Lottie's mother, promptly. “I'll have Miss Peters — but don't you find it a little warm here? Just pass me that hair-brush.”
Mrs. Bates had stepped to her single little window. «Isn't it a gem?” she asked. “I had it made to order; one of the oldfashioned sort, you see — two sash, with six little panes in each. No weights and cords, but simple catches at the side. It opens to just two widths; if I want anything different, I have to contrive it for myself. Sometimes I use a hair-brush and sometimes a paper-cutter.” . . .
She dropped her voice.
Me?” called Jane. "I'm my own.”
“Keep it that way,” said Mrs. Bates, impressively. “Don't ever change - no matter how many engagements and appointments and letters and dates you come to have. You'll never spend a happy day afterwards. Tutors are bad enough — but thank goodness, my boys are past that age. And men-servants are bad enough - every time I want to stir in my own house I seem to have a footman on each toe and a butler standing on my train; however, people in our position - well, Granger insists, you know.” ..
“And now business is over,” she continued. “Do you like my posies ?” She nodded towards the window where, thanks to the hair-brush, a row of flowers in a long narrow box blew about in the draft.
"Asters ? »
«No, no, no! But I hoped you'd guess asters. They're chrysanthemums — you see, fashion will penetrate even here. But they're the smallest and simplest I could find. What do I care for orchids and American beauties, and all those other expensive things under glass? How much does it please me to have two great big formal beds of gladiolus and foliage in the front yard, one on each side of the steps ? Still, in our position, I suppose it can't be helped. No; what I want is a bed of portulaca, and some cypress vines running up strings to the top of a pole. As soon as I get poor enough to afford it I'm going to have a lot of phlox and London-pride and bachelor's-buttons out there in the back yard, and the girls can run their clothes-lines somewhere else.”
“It's hard to keep flowers in the city,” said Jane.
“I know it is. At our old house we had such a nice little rose-bush in the front yard. I hated so to leave it behind- one of those little yellow brier-roses. No, it wasn't yellow; it was just —'yaller. And it always scratched my nose when I tried to smell it. But oh, child ” — wistfully — "if I could only smell it now!»
«Couldn't you have transplanted it ?” asked Jane, sympathetically.
“I went back the very next day after we moved out, with a peach basket and fire shovel. But my poor bush was buried under seven feet of yellow sand. To-day there's seven stories of brick and mortar. So all I've got from the old place is just this furniture of ma's and the wall-paper.”
« The wall-paper ?”
« Not the identical same, of course. It's like what I had in my bedroom when I was a girl. I remembered the pattern, and tried everywhere to match it. At first I just tried on Twentysecond street. Then I went down-town. Then I tried all the little places away out on the West Side. Then I had the pattern put down on paper and I made a tour of the country. I went to Belvidere, and to Beloit, and to Janesville, and to lots of other places between here and Geneva. And finally — » «Well, what — finally ?”
Finally, I sent down East and had eight or ten rolls made to order. I chased harder than anybody ever chased for a Raphael, and I spent more than if I had hung the room with Gobelins; but — »
She stroked the narrow strips of pink and green with a fond hand, and cast on Jane a look which pleaded indulgence. Isn't it just too quaintly ugly for anything ?”
"It isn't any such thing," cried Jane. "It's just as sweet as it can be! I only wish mine was like it.”
SARAH MARGARET FULLER
MARGARET was one of the few persons who looked upon life as
an art, and every person not merely as an artist, but as a
work of art,” wrote Emerson. «She looked upon herself as a living statue, which should always stand on a polished pedestal, with right accessories, and under the most fitting lights. She would have been glad to have everybody so live and act. She was annoyed when they did not, and when they did not regard her from the point of view which alone did justice to her. ..It is certain that her friends excused in her, because she had a right to it, a tone which they would have reckoned intolerable in any other.” In the coolest way she said to her friends :
I take my natural position always: and the more I see, the more I feel that it is regal. Without throne, sceptre, or guards, still a queen. ... In near eight years' experience I have learned as much as others would in eighty, from my great talent at explanation. ... But in truth I have not much to say: for since I have had leisure to look at myself, I find that so far from being an original genius, I have not yet learned to think to any depth; and that the MARGARET FULLER utmost I have done in life has been to form my character to a certain consistency, cultivate my tastes, and learn to tell the truth with a little better grace than I did at first. When I look at my papers I feel as if I had never had a thought that was worthy the attention of any but myself; and 'tis only when on talking with people I find I tell them what they did not know, that my confidence at all returns. . . . A woman of tact and brilliancy, like me, has an undue advantage in conversation with men. They are astonished at our instincts. They do not see where we got our knowledge; and while they tramp on in their clumsy way, we wheel and fly, and dart hither and thither, and seize with ready eye all the weak points, like Saladin in the desert. It is quite another thing when we come to write, and without suggestion from another mind, to declare the positive amount of thought that is in us.... Then gentlemen are surprised that I write no better, because I talk so well. I have served a long apprenticeship to the one, none to the other. I shall write better, but never, I think, so well as I talk; for then I feel inspired. ... For all the tides of life that flow within me, I am dumb and ineffectual when it comes to casting my thought into a form. No old one suits me. If I could invent one, it seems to me the pleasure of creation would make it possible for me to write. What shall I do, dear friend? I want force to be either a genius or a character. One should be either private or public. I love best to be a woman; but womanhood is at present too straitly bounded to give me scope. At hours, I live truly as a woman; at others, I should stifle."
All these naive confessions were made, it must be remembered, either in her journal, or in letters to her nearest friends, and without fear of misinterpretation.
This complex, self-conscious, but able woman was born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, in 1810, in the house of her father, Timothy Fuller, a lawyer. Her mother, it is reported, was a mild, self-effacing lover of flower-bulbs and gardens, of a character to supplement, and never combat, a husband who exercised all the domestic dictation which Puritan habits and the marital law encouraged.
«He thought to gain time by bringing forward the intellect as early as possible,” wrote Margaret in her autobiographical sketch. “Thus I had tasks given me, as many and as various as the hours would allow, and on subjects beyond my age; with the additional disadvantage of reciting to him in the evening after he returned from his office. As he was subject to many interruptions, I was often kept up till very late, and as he was a severe teacher, both from his habits of mind and his ambition for me, my feelings were kept on the stretch till the recitations were over. Thus, frequently, I was sent to bed several hours too late, with nerves unnaturally stimulated. The conseqence was a premature development of the brain that made me a youthful prodigy) by day, and by night a victim of spectral illusions, nightmare, and somnambulism, which at the time prevented the harmonious development of my bodily powers and checked my growth, while later they induced continual headache, weakness, and nervous affections of all kinds. . . . I was taught Latin and English grammar at the same time, and began to read Latin at six years old, after which, for some years, I read it daily. ... Of the Greek language I knew only enough to feel that the sounds told the same story as the mythology; that the law of life in that land was beauty, as in Rome it was stern composure..With these books I passed my days. The great amount of study exacted of me soon ceased to be a burden, and reading became a habit and a passion. The force of feeling which under other circumstances might have ripened thought, was turned to learn the thoughts of others.”
By the time she entered mature womanhood, Margaret had made herself acquainted with the masterpieces of German, French, and Italian literatures. It was later that she became familiar with the