Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself


Heyl's place. Fanny stood before it, key in hand (she had found it in the mail box, tied to a string), and she had a curious and restful feeling, as if she had come home, after long wanderings. She smiled, whimsically, and repeated her lesson to herself:

"The fire's laid in the fireplace with fat pine knots that will blaze up at the touch of a match. My books are there, along the wall. The bedding's in the cedar chest, and the lamps are filled. There's tinned stuff in the pantry. And the mountains are there, girl, to make you clean and whole again. . . ."

She stepped up to the little log-pillared porch and turned the key in the lock. She opened the door wide, and walked in. And then she shut her eyes for a moment. Because, if it shouldn't be true----

But there was a fire laid with fat pine knots. She walked straight over to it, and took her box of matches from her bag, struck one, and held it to the wood. They blazed like a torch. Books! Along the four walls, books. Fat, comfortable, used-looking books. Hundreds of them. A lamp on the table, and beside it a pipe, blackened from much use. Fanny picked it up, smiling. She held it a moment in her hand, as though she expected to find it still warm.

"It's like one of the fairy tales," she thought, "the kind that repeats and repeats. The kind that says, `and she went into the next room, and it was as the good fairy had said.'"

There's tinned stuff in the pantry. She went into the tiny kitchen and opened the pantry door cautiously, being wary of mice. But it met her eye in spotless array. Orderly rows of tins. Orderly rows of bottles. Coffee. Condensed milk. Beans. Spaghetti. Flour. Peaches. Pears.

Off the bedroom there was an absurdly adequate little bathroom, with a zinc tub and an elaborate water-heating arrangement.

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