Today’s winter tale is by California poet, translator, and author Emma Francis Dawson (1839–1926). She wrote it for the Christmas 1881 edition of The Wasp, a satirical weekly San Francisco periodical, at the request of The Wasp‘s editor, Ambrose Bierce.
In “A Sworn Statement,” the valet Wilkins relates the story of his former employer, Mr. Audenried, and his relationship (or non-relationship?) with the mysterious silent woman who seems to co-inhabit their dwelling.
I’m in Franklin, Massachusetts all this week, on business. It’s fairly quiet here, and I’m pretty much on my own, so no painting the town for me.
I had hoped to spend my evenings working on a post for our professional blog — a post on “the rhetoric of data visualization”. The topic idea was inspired by a passing comment that Theophrastus made in the comments section of his post over at BLT about, of all things, HP Calculators. But the workdays have been long, and I’ve been tired. Hopefully tonight, after this post, I’ll get to it.
It was a five hour nonstop flight from San Francisco to Boston, so I did a lot of reading. First up: the short story “Maud-Evelyn,” by Henry James. Joyce Carole Oates mentions it in the preface to American Gothic Tales, and though I’d gathered it up into my e-collection of “Supernatural tales by Henry James,” I hadn’t yet read it. It isn’t actually supernatural. It tells the story of a bereaved couple whose daughter died young, before she has “had all they want her to have.” They draw a good hearted-young man, Marmaduke, into their memories/fantasy life, where Maud-Evelyn is still alive. Eventually, they convince him to help them live their daughter’s life forward, “fulfilling all her young happiness” — by courting her, and marrying her. Marmaduke is given emotional support in this project by Lavinia, his erstwhile (and living) fiancée.