**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

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!


What Will You Do With Her? Or, The Woman Question
by [?]

“Well, I’m sorry to say she came back on my hands yesterday,” said my wife patiently. “She is a foolish young thing, and said she didn’t like living out in the country. I’m sorry, because the Morrises are an excellent family, and she might have had a life home there, if she had only been steady, and chosen to behave herself properly. But yesterday I found her back on her mother’s hands again; and the poor woman told me that the dear child never could bear to be separated from her, and that she hadn’t the heart to send her back.”

“And in short,” said I, “she gave you notice that you must provide for Miss O’Connor in some more agreeable way. Cross that name off your list, at any rate. That woman and girl need a few hard raps in the school of experience before you can do anything for them.”

“I think I shall,” said my long-suffering wife; “but it’s a pity to see a young thing put in the direct road to ruin.”

“It is one of the inevitables,” said I, “and we must save our strength for those that are willing to help themselves.”

“What’s all this talk about?” said Bob, coming in upon us rather brusquely.

“Oh, as usual, the old question,” said I,–“‘What’s to be done with her?'”

“Well,” said Bob, “it’s exactly what I’ve come to talk with mother about. Since she keeps a distressed women’s agency office, I’ve come to consult her about Marianne. That woman will die before six months are out, a victim to high civilization and the Paddies. There we are, twelve miles out from Boston, in a country villa so convenient that every part of it might almost do its own work,–everything arranged in the most convenient, contiguous, self-adjusting, self-acting, patent-right, perfective manner,–and yet I tell you Marianne will die of that house. It will yet be recorded on her tombstone, ‘Died of conveniences.’ For myself, what I languish for is a log-cabin, with a bed in one corner, a trundle-bed underneath for the children, a fireplace only six feet off, a table, four chairs, one kettle, a coffee-pot, and a tin baker,–that’s all. I lived deliciously in an establishment of this kind last summer, when I was up at Lake Superior; and I am convinced, if I could move Marianne into it at once, that she would become a healthy and a happy woman. Her life is smothered out of her with comforts; we have too many rooms, too many carpets, too many vases and knick-knacks, too much china and silver; she has too many laces and dresses and bonnets; the children all have too many clothes: in fact, to put it scripturally, our riches are corrupted, our garments are moth-eaten, our gold and our silver is cankered, and, in short, Marianne is sick in bed, and I have come to the agency office for distressed women to take you out to attend to her.

“The fact is,” continued Bob, “that since our cook married, and Alice went to California, there seems to be no possibility of putting our domestic cabinet upon any permanent basis. The number of female persons that have been through our house, and the ravages they have wrought on it for the last six months, pass belief. I had yesterday a bill of sixty dollars’ plumbing to pay for damages of various kinds which had had to be repaired in our very convenient water-works; and the blame of each particular one had been bandied like a shuttlecock among our three household divinities. Biddy privately assured my wife that Kate was in the habit of emptying dustpans of rubbish into the main drain from the chambers, and washing any little extra bits down through the bowls; and, in fact, when one of the bathing-room bowls had overflowed so as to damage the frescoes below, my wife, with great delicacy and precaution, interrogated Kate as to whether she had followed her instructions in the care of the water-pipes. Of course she protested the most immaculate care and circumspection. ‘Sure, and she knew how careful one ought to be, and wasn’t of the likes of thim as wouldn’t mind what throuble they made,–like Biddy, who would throw trash and hair in the pipes, and niver listen to her tellin’; sure, and hadn’t she broken the pipes in the kitchen, and lost the stoppers, as it was a shame to see in a Christian house?’ Ann, the third girl, being privately questioned, blamed Biddy on Monday, and Kate on Tuesday; on Wednesday, however, she exonerated both; but on Thursday, being in a high quarrel with both, she departed, accusing them severally, not only of all the evil practices aforesaid, but of lying and stealing, and all other miscellaneous wickednesses that came to hand. Whereat the two thus accused rushed in, bewailing themselves and cursing Ann in alternate strophes, averring that she had given the baby laudanum, and, taking it out riding, had stopped for hours with it in a filthy lane where the scarlet fever was said to be rife,–in short, made so fearful a picture that Marianne gave up the child’s life at once, and has taken to her bed. I have endeavored all I could to quiet her, by telling her that the scarlet fever story was probably an extemporaneous work of fiction, got up to gratify the Hibernian anger at Ann; and that it wasn’t in the least worth while to believe one thing more than another from the fact that any of the tribe said it. But she refuses to be comforted, and is so Utopian as to lie there crying, ‘Oh, if I only could get one that I could trust,–one that would really speak the truth to me,–one that I might know really went where she said she went, and really did as she said she did!’ To have to live so, she says, and bring up little children with those she can’t trust out of her sight, whose word is good for nothing,–to feel that her beautiful house and her lovely things are all going to rack and ruin, and she can’t take care of them, and can’t see where or when or how the mischief is done,–in short, the poor child talks as women do who are violently attacked with housekeeping fever tending to congestion of the brain. She actually yesterday told me that she wished, on the whole, she never had got married, which I take to be the most positive indication of mental alienation.”