Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself


Theodore came home at twelve o'clock that night. He had gone to Bauer's studio party after all. It was the first time he had deliberately disobeyed his mother in a really big thing. Mrs. Brandeis and Fanny had nibbled fudge all evening (it had turned out deliciously velvety) and had gone to bed at their usual time. At half past ten Mrs. Brandeis had wakened with the instinctive feeling that Theodore was not in the house. She lay there, wide awake, staring into the darkness until eleven. Then she got up and went into his room, though she knew he was not there. She was not worried as to his whereabouts or his well-being. That same instinctive feeling told her where he was. She was very angry, and a little terrified at the significance of his act. She went back to bed again, and she felt the blood pounding in her head. Molly Brandeis had a temper, and it was surging now, and beating against the barriers of her self-control.

She told herself, as she lay there, that she must deal with him coolly and firmly, though she wanted to spank him. The time for spankings was past. Some one was coming down the street with a quick, light step. She sat up in bed, listening. The steps passed the house, went on. A half hour passed. Some one turned the corner, whistling blithely. But, no, he would not be whistling, she told herself. He would sneak in, quietly. It was a little after twelve when she heard the front door open (Winnebago rarely locked its doors). She was surprised to feel her heart beating rapidly. He was trying to be quiet, and was making a great deal of noise about it. His shoes and the squeaky fifth stair alone would have convicted him. The imp of perversity in Molly Brandeis made her smile, angry as she was, at the thought of how furious he must be at that stair.

"Theodore!" she called quietly, just as he was tip-toeing past her room.


"Come in here. And turn on the light."

He switched on the light and stood there in the doorway. Molly Brandeis, sitting up in bed in the chilly room, with her covers about her, was conscious of a little sick feeling, not at what he had done, but that a son of hers should ever wear the sullen, defiant, hang-dog look that disfigured Theodore's face now.

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