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

27 May, 2017

Serial Saturday ~ Independence Part III

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 III

Isabel was an attractive little woman as she trudged off to her meeting.  She was rather short and prettily rounded, with crinkly brown hair and a pink skin which flushed easily under excitement or pleasure.  she had a nice taste in dress and always managed to have a stylish and becoming hat.  This afternoon its summery brim shaded a tiny pucker in her brow, a pucker which was growing to be a more and more frequent occurrence.  At first it had merely indicated perplexity; now it spelled rebellion.

"I have had just about enough of this dictation," she mused, as she walked down the elm-lined street.  "Here I am, thirty-six years old, and cannot say my soul is my own!  I cannot even do the work in my own house in my own way!  I cannot go where I like or see whom I like nor do what I like and I am sick to death of it!"

It seemed to her that she would gladly exchange several years of her life for a taste of freedom.  As Belle Pike, she had been one of a large family and had had a delightfully carefree girlhood.  Where there are five girls and two boys coming and going, all about of an age and all full of liveliness and sociable habits, there is bound to be considerable latitude for each one.

Perhaps it was the law of opposites which had attracted her to the serious, conscientious young preacher.  She was proud of his ability and he was proud of her gay charm.  Then, after their marriage, with apparent unconsciousness, he had gathered the reins into his own hands and guided both his affairs and hers undisturbed by any doubts as to his own competency.

It left Isabel bewildered.  It was as though a gay yellow butterfly, accustomed to sunlight and warm caressing airy breezes, had flown through an open window into a room and could not find its way out.  The butterfly was not broken; it still flew around in evident activity but always within walls and now it seemed as though the walls were closing in, like those in a nightmare.

"I am getting older and older and there is nothing different ahead of me,: thought Isabel, wildly, as she mounted the steps of the Community House.

The speaker of the day had already begun her address, "Sociological Problems in America."  It  seemed a big subject to be handled that warm afternoon, just as they were about to adjourn for July and August and could not attempt much in problems before fall anyhow, and Isabel did not give full heed to the earnest lady who had come from out of town to start them untying sociological knots.  After awhile, however, she realized that they had arrived at point three, which was Marriage, and she suddenly sat up.

"Statistics show," declared the earnest one, "that more separations occur after eleven years of married life than at any other period either before or after.  When a man and a woman have been married eleven years the first illusions have worn away, the first romance has passed, charm is likely to have been buried in routine and life begins to seem like a treadmill.  This truth is most vividly portrayed in Pinero's 'Mid-Channel,' that realistic drama of married life.  the fact that so many separations take place during this vital period would seem to indicate--" She paused for emphasis and Isabel fiercely finished the sentence for herself:

"It would seem to indicate that after eleven years women have had about all they can bear and they can't stand it a minute longer!  I am an eleven-year woman and I know!"

She slipped out before the program was over.  On the way home she stopped at the library and took out "Mid-Channel" and so far had her desperate defiance advanced that when the hour came for mid-week prayer meeting she announced that she was not equal to going.  Then, when her husband was safely on his way, she sat up in bed and read the realistic drama of modern life.

Her sympathies were all with the poor heroine.  To be sure, it seemed foolish to quarrel so fatally over which hotel they should patronize on their pleasure trip but with sisterly insight Isabel realized that with matters at such high tension it would have been something else if it was not the hotel.

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