If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

13 May, 2017

Serial Saturday ~ Independence Part I

Woman's Home Companion August 1926

A New Feature ~ Stories presented weekly in a serial format.

'Independence' by Sarah Fletcher Milligan ~ Illustrated by Pruett Carter

Part I

The Reverend Stephen Hopkins Chapin was passing through the kitchen.  It seemed to his wife that he was always passing through the kitchen and stopping to make suggestions on the way.  Today he noted the confusion of utensils on the table, the two sweet-smelling brown layers of cooling cake, the gas stove burning full-head and the moist beads on his wife's forehead as she stepped quickly around in the pantry.

"I should think," he commented, "You would plan to get our cooking done in the forenoon when it is cooler and not bake in the very hottest part of the day."

"I do plan, but what do you suppose happens to a plan when old Mrs. Whipple comes and stays an hour and a half?  She wanted to see you, but I told her you were preparing your prayer-meeting topic, so she stayed on with me.  Then that agent came and talked and talked and the telephone has rung every five minutes all day with somebody asking a question about the church sale."

"Of course everyone is liable to have interruptions; you have to allow for them when you plan your work."

It was on the tip of her tongue to retort, "You don't have them because I save you," but she kept the words back.  She did not want to say anything that might upset him, because Aunt Libby was coming the next day, Thursday, to stay over Sunday which was also the Fourth, and she wanted Aunt Libby to have a pleasant visit.

So, she quietly dodged around him as he stood in her path to the oven, wiped her fair flushed face and only answered placatingly, "I'll be through here in a little while,” hoping he would move on.

The Reverend Chapin held his ground in the middle of the floor.  He was unusually tall, a slender graceful figure topped by a sleek black head a trifle too small for his height.  His face was always white and his regular features were dominated by large dark blue eyes which ran the whole gamut of expression from vague vacuity, when he was dreaming out some theory, to the hardness of agate when he was opposed.  Opposition rarely occurred because he had an almost hypnotic way of making people believe that he was right.  However, the effects of hypnotism are not permanent and after eleven years of married life Isabel Chapin was well out from under the spell.  She knew that quiet frequently Stephen was wrong, but she kept that knowledge to herself.

"The trouble with you," went on Stephen, the omniscient, "is that you lack system.  If you worked with more system, you would not get so far behind."

Her mind leaped to his own system, which he never seemed to get perfected.  When he first came to Rockton he had made a complete card catalogue of his parishioners, their families and addresses, so that in the matter of calls he might deal all in exact impartiality, but unfortunately the A's had not grouped themselves into one neighborhood; they were scattered all over the village.  When he went to see Mrs. Adams it seemed very foolish not to call upon Mrs. Minot, who lived next door.  Besides, Mrs. Minot might feel hurt.  The sensible thing was to call on both, but it worked havoc with the system.  Some day he was going to do the whole thing over by districts and try that, but he had not got around to it yet.

"Housework is different every day," argued Isabel.  It doesn't seem to fit into a system.  You see, you are baking on one day and mending on the next and the interruptions are never twice alike; some take more time and some less."

She stopped, realizing that she had tried, quite futilely, to explain this to him at least once a week for a long time.  She might as well save her breath.  

She might indeed, for he was not half listening.

(To be continued....)

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