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8. CHAPTER EIGHT (continued)
So this was what life did to you, was it? Squeezed you dry, and then cast you aside in your old age, a pulp, a bit of discard. Well, they'd never catch her that way.
Unchurchly thoughts, these. The little place was very peaceful and quiet, lulling one like a narcotic. The rabbi's voice had in it that soothing monotony bred of years in the pulpit. Fanny found her thoughts straying back to the busy, bright little store on Elm Street, then forward, to the Haynes-Cooper plant and the fight that was before her. There settled about her mouth a certain grim line that sat strangely on so young a face. The service marched on. There came the organ prelude that announced the mourners' prayer. Then Rabbi Thalmann began to intone the Kaddish. Fanny rose, prayer book in hand. At that Clarence Heyl rose too, hurriedly, as one unaccustomed to the service, and stood with unbowed head, looking at the rabbi interestedly, thoughtfully, reverently. The two stood alone. Death had been kind to Congregation Emanu-el this year. The prayer ended. Fanny winked the tears from her eyes, almost wrathfully. She sat down, and there swept over her a feeling of finality. It was like the closing of Book One in a volume made up of three parts.
She said to herself: "Winnebago is ended, and my life here. How interesting that I should know that, and feel it. It is like the first movement in one of the concertos Theodore was forever playing. Now for the second movement! It's got to be lively. Fortissimo! Presto!"
For so clever a girl as Fanny Brandeis, that was a stupid conclusion at which to arrive. How could she think it possible to shed her past life, like a garment? Those impressionable years, between fourteen and twenty-four, could never be cast off. She might don a new cloak to cover the old dress beneath, but the old would always be there, its folds peeping out here and there, its outlines plainly to be seen. She might eat of things rare, and drink of things costly, but the sturdy, stocky little girl in the made-over silk dress, who had resisted the Devil in Weinberg's pantry on that long-ago Day of Atonement, would always be there at the feast. Myself, I confess I am tired of these stories of young women who go to the big city, there to do battle with failure, to grapple with temptation, sin and discouragement. So it may as well be admitted that Fanny Brandeis' story was not that of a painful hand-over-hand climb. She was made for success. What she attempted, she accomplished. That which she strove for, she won. She was too sure, too vital, too electric, for failure. No, Fanny Brandeis' struggle went on inside. And in trying to stifle it she came near making the blackest failure that a woman can make. In grubbing for the pot of gold she almost missed the rainbow.
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