miss prue stared at dorine for another two seconds. "all right, you down on the far left, you are - "
"florine." miss prue took papers from the white and black hats. "right-wing."
"i - i'm not sure what that means."
"well, you will have a year to figure it out. and the author you will imitate is - gertrude stein."
florine just nodded.
hiram and hermione
by florine di fabrizzi
illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq
editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo
harriet harris came from sturdy anglo-saxon stock. the first time doctor wilson saw her smile was when he told her she had a few weeks to live.
"thank you, doctor,"' she said. "this simplifies matters enormously." she got up and escorted him to the front door herself.
her maid, judith, whom she had been planning to replace, was lazy and incompetent. now harriet would not have to replace her - another burden lifted from her shoulders.
it was a beautiful early autumn day. a few leaves had fallen from the beech tree in the front yard and lay across the path to the street. doctor wilson kicked at them with his heavy black boots - which he had made special for him by a shoemaker in thomasville, two towns away. he smiled at the thought of never having to deal with harriet harris again, and made his way to his well-polished model a ford, which had been the most expensive automobile in town until that damned fool benjamin jackson had purchased a new graham paige a week earlier - one he was sure to wreck any day now.
all these people lived in booneville. everything and everybody in booneville was connected, both to the other things and persons in booneville and to the things and persons beyond booneville.
harriet had made her will many years ago, and saw no reason to change it. she had no one to leave it to except her two children, hiram and hermione. hiram and hermione were weaklings and fools, both of them.
leaving her money to charity was out of the question. harriet had strong opinions about everything but an especially strong opinion against charity.
she had decided to leave her money equally to hiram and harriet. leaving it to one or the other would surely involve lawyers - they might well be involved anyway - and then the lawyers would get everything. harriet hated a lot of things - most things, since everything in the world is connected - but lawyers were high on the list.
part of her wished she could leave everything to hiram. at least he was a man. harriet was a "man's woman." she always took the side of men against women. suffragettes and such - don't get her started. and there were moments when she almost felt some affection for poor hiram. she did not think of it as "affection" - just a curious feeling that flitted through her brain from time to time - like a flying bug on a lazy summer day.
but hiram was so hopeless! he didn't have the brains of a blade of hay. the factory - her beloved factory - the pearl of her existence - was sure to be run into the ground in a year or two with hiram in charge.
there had been times - when harriet had been in a dreamy mood after a satisfying roast beef or turkey dinner ( always at somebody else's house or at an official dinner of some kind, as she always had bad luck with cooks as with all servants) when she had thought that she might marry hiram to a strong woman - one like herself - who could effectively manage the factory and the family's affairs.
hah! how she had despised herself when the fancy passed! now she would not have time to marry hiram off at all. and what were the chances of his marrying a strong woman at all - and even if he did, what chance that she would regard herself as a harris first, and not a member of her own family?
slim as it was, there was a better chance of hermione marrying someone with half a brain who could carry on. someone poor, to be sure, but all the better - no "family" of his own to swallow up the harrises.
harriet's fondest dream - one that she had never acknowledged except to her husband, dead now twenty years - was that the harrises would prosper to such an extent that the town would be renamed harrisville instead of booneville. this was now not to be. so be it.
there was only glimmer of hope - the personality of hiram. dull and uninspired and uninspiring as he was, he had one hopeful quality - stubbornness. the blind stubbornness of the weak. he would not give up the factory easily. let them come, harriet thought - the reformers and bleeding hearts, the competitors and sharpies from the city and the jews, the unions and bolsheviks and bootleggers and flappers and all the rest of the so-called modern world - hiram would never yield. well, not right away, anyway.
such were the ruminations that animated the brain of harriet harris on receiving the sudden news of her imminent demise. she had no thought of herself.
she was connected, and she would stay connected until she was disconnected. she was a harris and had been since the day she marred abraham harris, only son of jedediah and sarah harris. she saw her fellow humans as members of families. if they were not recognizable as members of families they were members of tribes - "sturdy anglo-saxon stock" or "the dutch" or jews or italians or greeks or irish or negroes or indians or chinamen. her brain was well stocked with a fund of anecdotes and received wisdoms about all these.
"good morning, mother."
"good morning, hermione."
"you look quite thoughtful this morning, mother." hermione laughed her foolish, insipid little laugh. "does the beech tree look so interesting today?" she laughed again.
"it is almost afternoon," harriet replied without looking at the young woman.
"yes, i suppose it is. i should have risen earlier, i know. but i had the loveliest dream."
"i shall have an announcement to make."
"oh, that sounds exciting."
"we shall wait until hiram returns."
"hiram was up bright and early this morning - on time for breakfast."
"hiram goes to the factory and i do not."
"have some breakfast. don't stand there like a canary that just fell out of a cage."
"oh, i don't want to be a bother."
"the servants are there to be bothered. have something to eat."