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12 We Tour the Oklahoma Prairie One of the disadvantages of being a fictionist lies in the fact that the history of one’s imaginary people halts just in proportion as one’s mind is burdened with the sorrowful realities of one’s own life.A troubled bank clerk can (I believe) cast up a column of figures , an actor can declaim while his heart is breaking, but a novelist can’t—or at any rate I can’t—write stories while some friend or relative is in pain and calling for relief.Composition is dependent in my case upon a delicately adjusted mood, and a very small pebble is sufficient to turn the currents of my mind into a dry channel. My aunt’s death was a sad shock to my mother and until she regained something of her cheerful temper, I was unable to take up and continue the action of my novel. I kept up the habit of going to my study,but for a week or more I could not write anything but letters. By the tenth of March we were all longing with deepest hunger for the coming of spring.According to the old almanac’s saying we had a right to expect on the twenty-first a relenting of the rigors of the north,but it did not come.“March the twenty-first is spring and little birds begin to sing” was not true of the Valley this year. For two weeks longer,the icy winds continued to sweep with Arctic severity across the crests of the hills,and clouds of snow almost daily sifted down through the bare branches of the elms.At times the landscape, mockingly beautiful,was white and bleak as January . Drafts filled the lanes and sleigh-bells jingled mockingly. At last came grateful change.The wind shifted to the South.At mid-day the eaves began to drip, and the hens, lifting their voices in jocund song, scratched and burrowed, careening in the dusty earth which appeared on the sunward side of the barn. Green grass enlivened the banks of the garden, and on the southern slopes of the hills warmly colored patches appeared, and then 142 Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page 142 came bird-song and budding branches!—so dramatic are the changes in our northern country. No sooner was spring really at hand than Zulime and I,eager to share in the art life which was so congenial to us both,returned to my former lodging in Chicago; and a little later we went so far as to give a party—our first party since our marriage. Fuller, who came early and stayed late, appeared especially amused at our make-shifts. “This isn’t Chicago,” he exclaimed as he looked around our rooms.“This is a lodging in London!” It was at this party that I heard the first word of the criticism under which I had expected to suffer. One of our guests, an old and privileged friend, remarked with a sigh,“Well, now that Zuhl has married a writer, I suppose her own artistic career is at an end.” “Not at all!” I retorted,somewhat nettled.“I am an individualist in this as in other things.I do not believe in the subordination of a wife to her husband. Zulime has all the rights I claim for myself— no more,no less.If she fails to go on with her painting or sculpture the fault will not be mine.Our partnership is an equal one.” I meant this. Although dimly aware that mutual concessions must be made, it was my fixed intention to allow my wife the fullest freedom of action. Proud of her skill as an artist, I went so far as to insist on her going back into her brother’s studio to resume her modeling. “You are not my house keeper—you are a member of a firm. I prefer to have you an artist.” Smiling, evasive, she replied,“I haven’t at the present moment the slightest ‘call’ to be an artist.Perhaps I shall—after a while;but at present I’d rather keep house.” “But consider me!” I insisted.“Here am I, a public advocate of the rights of women,already denounced as your ‘tyrant husband,’ ‘a selfish egotistic brute!’—I’ll be accused—I am already accused— of cutting short your career as a sculptor. Consider the injustice you are doing me!” She refused...


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MARC Record
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