Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself


From now on Fanny Brandeis' life became such a swift-moving thing that your trilogist would have regarded her with disgust. Here was no slow unfolding, petal by petal. Here were two processes going on, side by side. Fanny, the woman of business, flourished and throve like a weed, arrogantly flaunting its head above the timid, white flower that lay close to the soil, and crept, and spread, and multiplied. Between the two the fight went on silently.

Fate, or Chance, or whatever it is that directs our movements, was forever throwing tragic or comic little life-groups in her path, and then, pointing an arresting finger at her, implying, "This means you!" Fanny stepped over these obstructions, or walked around them, or stared straight through them.

She had told herself that she would observe the first anniversary of her mother's death with none of those ancient customs by which your pious Jew honors his dead. There would be no Yahrzeit light burning for twenty-four hours. She would not go to Temple for Kaddish prayer. But the thing was too strong for her, too anciently inbred. Her ancestors would have lighted a candle, or an oil lamp. Fanny, coming home at six, found herself turning on the shaded electric lamp in her hall. She went through to the kitchen.

"Princess, when you come in to-morrow morning you'll find a light in the hall. Don't turn it off until to-morrow evening at six."

"All day long, Miss Fan! Mah sakes, wa' foh?"

"It's just a religious custom."

"Didn't know yo' had no relijin, Miss Fan. Leastways, Ah nevah could figgah----"

"I haven't," said Fanny, shortly. "Dinner ready soon, Princess? I'm starved."

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