Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself


"You can come down now. They're all here, I guess. Doctor Thalmann's going to begin." Fanny, huddled in a chair in her bedroom, looked up into the plump, kindly face of the woman who was bending over her. Then she stood up, docilely, and walked toward the stairs with a heavy, stumbling step.

"I'd put down my veil if I were you," said the neighbor woman. And reached up for the black folds that draped Fanny's hat. Fanny's fingers reached for them too, fumblingly. "I'd forgotten about it," she said. The heavy crape fell about her shoulders, mercifully hiding the swollen, discolored face. She went down the stairs. There was a little stir, a swaying toward her, a sibilant murmur of sympathy from the crowded sitting-room as she passed through to the parlor where Rabbi Thalmann stood waiting, prayer book in hand, in front of that which was covered with flowers. Fanny sat down. A feeling of unreality was strong upon her. Doctor Thalmann cleared his throat and opened the book.

After all, it was not Rabbi Thalmann's funeral sermon that testified to Mrs. Brandeis's standing in the community. It was the character of the gathering that listened to what he had to say. Each had his own opinion of Molly Brandeis, and needed no final eulogy to confirm it. Father Fitzpatrick was there, tall, handsome, ruddy, the two wings of white showing at the temples making him look more than ever like a leading man. He had been of those who had sat in what he called Mrs. Brandeis's confessional, there in the quiet little store. The two had talked of things theological and things earthy. His wit, quick though it was, was no match for hers, but they both had a humor sense and a drama sense, and one day they discovered, queerly enough, that they worshiped the same God. Any one of these things is basis enough for a friendship. Besides, Molly Brandeis could tell an Irish story inimitably. And you should have heard Father Fitzpatrick do the one about Ikey and the nickel. No, I think the Catholic priest, seeming to listen with such respectful attention, really heard very little of what Rabbi Thalmann had to say.

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