February 28, 1857

28 February 1857


There was not a child in the house, not one; I was sure of it, when I first went in. Such a spick-and-span look as it had! Chairs—grown-up chairs, plastered straight up against the wall; books arranged by rule and compass; no dear little careless finger-marks on furniture, doors, or window-glass; no hoop, or ball, or doll, or mitten, or basket, or picture-book on the premises; not a pin, or a shred on the angles and squares of the immaculate carpet; the tassels of the window shades, at which baby-fingers always make such a dead set, as fresh as if just from the upholsterers. I sat down at the well-polished window, and looked across the street. At the upper window of a wooden house opposite, I saw a little bald baby, tied into a high chair, speculating upon the panorama in the street, while its little fat hands frantically essayed to grab distant pedestrians on the sidewalk. Its mother sat sewing diligently by its side. Happy woman! she has a baby! She thought so, too; for bye and bye she threw down her work, untied the fettering handkerchief, took the child from its prison-house, and covered it with kisses. Ah! she had heard a step upon the stairs—the step! And now there are two to kiss the baby; for John has come to his dinner, and giving both mother and child a kiss that makes my lips work, he tosses the babe up in his strong arms, while its mother puts dinner on the table.

But, pshaw!—here come the old maids I was sent to see. I hear the rustle of their well-preserved silks in the entry. I feel proper all over. Vinegar and icicles! how shall I ever get through with it? Now the door opens. What a bloodless look they have!—how dictionary-ish they speak!—how carefully they lower themselves into their chairs, as if the cushions were stuffed with live kittens!—how smooth their ruffs and ribbons!

Bibs and pinafores! Give me the upper room in the wooden house, with kissing John and the bald baby!

Source Text:

Fanny Fern, "A House Without a Baby," The New-York Ledger (28 February 1857): 4

To cite this project:

Fanny Fern, "A House Without a Baby," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2018) http://fannyfern.org.