Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Ch. 4: Grandmother Eve

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 5
    Previous Chapter
    Very different in almost every imaginable respect from Adam was his attractive lady, Madame Eve. Indeed, so radically different from each other were this rather ill-assorted pair that it was always difficult for us to believe that they were related even by marriage, and I hesitate to say what I think would have been the outcome of their little romance had there been any competition for the lady's hand when Adam set out to win it. I have personally always had a feeling that this first of hymeneal experiments was rather a marriage of convenience than anything else, and I have heard my great-great-great-grandmother say that in the old pioneer days there was very little for a woman to choose from in the matter of men's society.

    "For a long time," she remarked, "Adam was the only man in sight, and I was a young thing entirely without experience in worldly matters. He seemed to my girlish fancy to be all that a man should be. His habits were good. He neither smoked nor drank, cared apparently nothing for cards, and barring an interest in Discosaurus Racing, had very few sporting proclivities. We were thrown together a great deal, and inasmuch as the life in the Garden was a somewhat lonely one, we took considerable pleasure in each other's society. For myself, I was not particularly anxious to be married, preferring the free and independent life of the spinster, but as time went on and we came to realize that the people of future generations might misunderstand us and, as people will do, talk about us, we decided that the best way to avoid all gossip was to announce our engagement, and at the end of the usual period, settle down together as man and wife. I don't know that I have ever regretted the step, though I will say that I think it is undesirable for a young girl to enter too hastily into the obligations of matrimony, or to marry the first man that comes along, unless she is absolutely sure that he is the only man she could possibly endure through three meals a day for the balance of her life."

    It must not be assumed from this little reminiscence of this first lady in the land that her marriage was an unhappy one. I think, that as a matter of fact, it was quite the contrary, for subsequent to the wedding each was too busy with other matters to get thinking either morbidly or otherwise on the subject of their individual happiness. They took it as a matter of course, and in the division of labor which the social conditions of the day involved, found too much to occupy them to worry over such unimportant abstractions as mere personal felicity.

    "We were spared one of the direst afflictions of modern social life," Madame Eve once remarked to my mother, in talking over the old days, "in the absence of domestic servants from our family circle. Adam was head of the house, general provider, hired-man, stable-boy, head-gardener, coach-man, night-watchman and everything else of the male persuasion on the place; whilst I was cook, laundress, nurse, housekeeper, manicure, stenographer, and general housemaid, as well as the mother of the family--a situation that even though it involved us in no end of hard work, had its compensations. Living off in suburbs as we did, you can have no idea of what a comfort it was to us not to be at the mercy of a cook who would threaten to leave us every time anything happened to displease her, such as an extra meal to be cooked in emergency cases, or the failure of the cooking-sherry to come up to the exalted standards of her taste as a connoisseur in wines, and hard as the housework was, as I look back upon it now, I realize how much trouble I was spared in not having to follow a yellow-haired fluffy ruffles about the house all day long cleaning up after her. If there is anything of the labor-saving device in that modern invention known as a chambermaid, I don't know where it comes in. I'd rather sweep three floors, and make twenty-nine beds, every day of my life than put in one single week trying to get seven cents worth of efficient work out of a fourteen-dollar housemaid."

    At this point I ventured to put in the suggestion that I should have thought some use could have been made of the monkeys in the matter of Domestic Service, whereupon the dear lady, who was not nearly so sensitive on the subject of the Simian family as her husband had always shown himself to be, patted me on the head, and smiled indulgently, as she cracked her little joke.

    "Monkeys, my dear Methy," she replied, "were always more efficient in the higher branches. Seriously, however," she went on, "we had that same idea ourselves, and we tried Simian labor for a while, but it was far from satisfactory. They were too playfully impetuous, and we had to give them up as indoor servants. We had a Monkey Butler one season, and nothing could induce him to serve our dinner in that dignified fashion in which a dinner should be served. He would pass the soup with one paw, the fish with the other, while serving the bread with his tail, and all simultaneously, so that instead of dinner becoming a peaceful meal, it was at all times, a highly excitable function that left us all in a state of trembling nervousness when it was over. Try as we might we could not induce them to do one thing at a time, and finally when this particular butler, to whom I have referred, instead of standing as he was instructed to do behind Adam's chair, insisted on swinging from the chandelier over the center of the table suspended by his caudal appendage, we decided that we would rather wait on ourselves."

    Asked once if she had not found the primitive life uncomfortable, she shook her head in a decided negative.

    "There were too many compensations in our freedom from the things that make your social life of to-day a complex problem," she replied. "In the first place I never had to worry much over Adam. When he was not out getting the raw material for our daily meals he was most generally at home, for the very excellent reason that there was no other place to go. We hadn't any Clubs to begin with, so that on his way home from business there was no temptation for him to stop off anywhere and frivol away his time playing billiards, or squandering his limited means on rubbers of bridge or other ruinous games. The only Vaudeville shows we had at the time consisted of the somewhat too continuous performances of the monkeys and the poll-parrots right there in our own back-yard, so that that menace to the happy home was entirely unknown to us, and inasmuch as I was the only cook in all Christendom at the time, the idea of not coming home to dinner never occurred to Adam. It is true that at times he criticised my cooking, but in view of certain ancestral limitations from which he suffered, I never had to sit quietly and listen to an exasperating disquisition on the Pies That Mother Used To Make, a line of conversation that in these modern days has broken up many an otherwise happy home. Socially the time had its draw-backs, but even in that respect there were advantages. The fact that we had no next-door neighbors enabled us to live without ostentation. I have discovered that much of the trouble in the world to-day arises from a love of showing-off, and of course, if there is no one about to show-off to, you don't indulge in that sort of foolishness. Being the only family in the place we were not spurred into extravagances of living, either because we had to keep up an end in society, or because we wished to make a better showing than someone else was making. There was correspondingly no gossip going on all about us. The absence of society meant that there were no Sewing Circles anywhere where peoples' reputations were pulled apart while under-clothes for alleged heathen were put together. Nobody ever descended upon us at unreasonable hours with unwelcome Surprise Parties eating us out of house and home and compelling us to stay up all night dancing the Virginia Reel when we were so sleepy we could hardly keep our eyes open. We didn't have to give dinners to people we didn't like, or make calls on persons in whom we took no earthly interest whatever. There was no question of Woman's Suffrage to make an everlasting breach between Adam and myself; no church squabbles over whether the new carpet should be pink or green, and as for politics, there was not anything even remotely resembling a politic in the whole broad land. If Adam or I felt the need of a law now and then, we'd make it, and if it didn't work, we'd repeal it, so that there were no endless discussions on such subjects, involving hard feeling, acrimonious correspondence, and an endless chain of Chapters of the Ananias Club all over creation. And when the children came along I was permitted to bring them up according to my own ideas, thanks to the entire absence from the country of inspired old-maids, and omniscient editors, ceaselessly endeavoring to reduce a natural maternal function to an arbitrary science. It has been said that I did not have much to be proud of in the results of my efforts to bring up my children right, and I suppose that in the case of Cain and Abel I must admit that I have not; but I am not so sure that things would have turned out any different if I had reared them after a Fireside Companion pattern for the making of a panne velvet posterity. I will go so far as to say that after looking over the comic supplements of the Sunday Newspapers, I believe Cain would have killed Abel ten years earlier than he did if he had had the example of the Katzenjammer Kids and Buster Brown before him in the formative years of his life. So, on that score, I am comfortable in my mind, much as I regret the disastrous climax of the lives of those two boys. In connection with this matter of the bringing up of children I believe, too, that despite the narrowness of our outlook, the primitive conditions were better than those which now exist. I never heard of my boys running loose about town waking up the whole community with their cheers because their college football team had crippled eleven other boys from another college for life; and hard to manage as Cain and Abel were at times, Adam and I never had to put them to bed at five o'clock in the morning because they had paralyzed their throats at a college banquet announcing to an exasperated world that they were Sons of a Gambolier. In fact, the educational problem of those early days was an educational problem and not a social one. We did not spend our time teaching boys to speak seventeen languages, without any ideas to express in any one of them, but went in for the ideas first. We regarded speech merely as a vehicle for the expression of ideas, and went at it from that point of view, rather than the other way around according to modern notions. Cain and Abel didn't have to go to a military school to learn how to haze each other, and no young man of that day ever thought of qualifying for his A. B. by compelling another young man to sip Tabasco sauce through a straw. What they learned, they learned by experience, and not through the pages of a book. If we felt it well to teach one of them that water was wet, we did not subject his young mind to a nine months course of lectures by a Professor on Hydropathy, but took him out and dropped him in the duck-pond and let him draw his own conclusions; and when it came to Botany, we found that either one of them could get a more comprehensive idea of the habits of growing plants from weeding a ten-acre lot than he could get out of a four years' course at a Correspondence School. The result was that when he came to graduate and go out into the world he was ready for business, and didn't have to serve as an Office-Boy on a salary of nothing a week for seventy-five or a hundred years before he was able to earn his own living."

    It surely was an idyllic picture that the dear old lady drew, and I have often wished myself amid the rush and roar of modern life, that we might go back to the simpler methods of those Arcadian days.

    On the subject of dress, Eve was entirely out of accord with her husband. She viewed Adam's theories on that subject with toleration, however, and always laughed when they were mentioned.

    "He's just like a man," she smiled. "He really has no objection to fetching costumes when they are worn by other people. He merely does not wish to be bothered with such things himself. He has just as much of an eye for a daintily dressed little bit of femininity as anybody else, but he is eternally afraid that if I go in for that sort of thing he will be turned into a lady's maid. The idea of a hook-and-eye fills him with horror. His eyesight is not as good as it used to be, and he dreads the notion that if I come out in one of these new-fangled waists that hook up at the back he will be compelled to put in an hour or two fastening it up for me every time I put it on, and I don't blame him. It seems to me that if there is anything in this world that is unbefitting the glorious manhood of a true masculine being it is to have to sit down in a chair for an hour before dinner looking for a half million hooks and eyes, or cloth-covered buttons and loops, on the back of his wife's gown, and trying to fasten them up properly without the use of language unsuited to a lady's ears. When you think that the hand of man was made to wield the sceptre of imperial power over this magnificent world, it becomes a gross impropriety to divert it from the path of destiny into so futile an effort as hooking up a mere bit of fuss, feathers and fallals. You might just as well hitch up a pair of thoroughbred elephants to a milk wagon. It will do, as Adam says, for the Mollycoddle and the meticulous weakling, but never for a real man worthy of the name. But after all that is no reason why woman should be shorn of one of her chief glories, and I totally disagree with him in his condemnation of all clothes just because some of them are conceived in foolishness. Dresses can be made to button up at the side, or in front, and when I think of some of the new fall styles that are coming in I find myself regretting that I am over five hundred years old, and cannot with strict propriety, go in for them myself. Take those little chiffon--"

    And so the dear old lady went on into an enthusiastic disquisition on the glories of dress that was so intimately feminine that I hesitate to attempt to quote her words in this place, knowing little as I do on the subject, and hardly able myself to tell the difference between a gimp and a café parfait. I will merely close this chapter by quoting Eve's last remark on the subject.

    "All I can say is," she observed, "that Adam makes a great mistake in objecting to woman's thinking so much about her clothes, for I can tell him that if she didn't think about her own clothes she would begin to think about his, and if that were to happen it wouldn't be long before all men in creation would be going about looking as if somebody had picked them off a Christmas tree. In the matter of clothes woman is the court of last resort, and it is better for men that she should concentrate all her attention on herself!"

    Incidentally let me add that when someone once asked Eve if she hadn't often wished she had been a man, she replied:

    "Lord no! In that case there would have been two of us, and goodness knows one was enough!"
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 5
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a John Kendrick Bangs essay and need some advice, post your John Kendrick Bangs essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?