Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

"S Is For Shiftless Susanna"
by [?]

“You look glorious. What’s the special programme you’ve laid out for this morning, Sue?” said Susanna’s husband, coming upon her in her rose garden early on a certain perfect October morning.

“I FEEL glorious too” young Mrs. Fairfax said, returning his kiss and dropping basket and scissors to bestow all her attention upon his buttonhole rose. “There is no special occasion for all this extravagance,” she added, giving a complacent downward glance at the filmy embroideries of her gown, and her small whiteshod feet. “In fact, to-day breaks before me a long and delicious blank. I don’t know when I have had such a Saturday. I shall write letters this morning–or perhaps wash my hair–I don’t know. And then I’ll take Mrs. Elliot for a drive this afternoon, or take some fruit to the Burkes, maybe, and stop for tea at the club. And if you decide to dine in town, I’ll have Emma set my dinner out on the porch and commence my new Locke. And if you can beat that programme for sheer idle bliss,” said Susanna, “let me hear you do it!”

She finished fastening his rose, stepped back to survey it, and raised to his eyes her own joyous, honest blue eyes, which still were as candid as a nice child’s. Jim Fairfax, keenly alive to the delight of it, even after six months of marriage, kissed her again.

“You know, Jim,” said Susanna, when they were presently sauntering with their load of roses toward the house and breakfast, “apropos of this new dress, I believe I put it on just BECAUSE there was no real reason for it. It is so delightful sometimes to get into dainty petties, and silk stockings, and a darling new gown, just as a matter of course! All my life, you know, I’ve had just one good outfit at a time, and sometimes less than that, and all the things I wore every day were so awfully plain–!”

“I know, my darling,” Jim said, a little gravely. For he was always sorry to remember that there had been long years of poverty and struggle in Susanna’s life before the day when he had found her, an underpaid librarian in a dark old law library, in a dark old street. Susanna, buoyant, ambitious, and overworked, had never stopped in her hard daily round long enough to consider herself pitiful, but she could look back from her rose garden now to the days before she knew Jim, and join him in a little shudder of reminiscence.

“I don’t believe a long, idle day will ever seem anything but a joyous holiday to me,” she said now. “It seems so curious still, not to be expected anywhere every morning!”

“Well, you may as well get used to it,” Jim told her smilingly. But a few minutes later, when Susanna was busy with the coffee-pot, he looked up from a letter to say: “Here’s a job for you, after all, to-day, Sue! This–” and he flattened the crackling sheets beside his plate, “this is from old Thayer.”

“Thayer himself?” Susanna echoed appreciatively. For old Whitman Thayer, in whose hands lay the giving of contracts far larger than any that had as yet been handled by Jim or his senior partners in the young firm of Reid, Polk & Fairfax, Architects, was naturally an enormously important figure in his and Susanna’s world. They spoke of Thayer nearly every night, Jim reporting to his interested wife that Thayer had “come in,” or “hadn’t come in,” that Thayer had “seemed pleased,” that Thayer had “jumped” on this, or had “been tickled to death” with that; and the Fairfax domestic barometer varied accordingly.

“Go ON, Jim,” said Susanna, in suspense.

“Why, it seems that his wife–she’s awfully sweet and nice,” Jim proceeded, “is coming into town this afternoon, and she wonders if it would be too much trouble for Mrs. Fairfax to come in and lunch with her and help her with some shopping.”