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The House An Episode in the Lives of Reuben Baker, Astronomer, and of His Wife, Alice   By: (1850-1895)

Book cover

First Page:

The Works of Eugene Field

Vol. VIII

The Writings in Prose and Verse of Eugene Field

THE HOUSE

An Episode in the Lives of Reuben Baker, Astronomer, and of His Wife Alice

[Frontispiece: The House. Drawn by E. H. Garrett.]

Charles Scribner's Sons New York 1911

Copyright, 1896, by Julia Sutherland Field.

INTRODUCTION

The story that is told in this volume is as surely an autobiography as if that announcement were a part of the title: and it also has the peculiar and significant distinction of being in some sort the biography of every man and woman who enters seriously upon the business of life.

In its pages is to be found the history of the heart's desire of all who are disposed to take the partnership of man and woman seriously. The instinct the desire call it what you will that is herein set forth with such gentle humor is as old as humanity, and all literature that contains germs of permanence teems with its influence. But never before has it had so painstaking a biographer so deft and subtle an interpreter.

We are told, alas! that the story of Alice and Reuben Baker wanted but one chapter to complete it when Eugene Field died. That chapter was to have told how they reached the fulfilment of their heart's desire. But even here the unities are preserved. The chapter that is unwritten in the book is also unwritten in the lives of perhaps the great majority of men and women.

The story that Mr. Field has told portrays his genius and his humor in a new light. We have seen him scattering the germs of his wit broadcast in the newspapers we have seen him putting on the cap and bells, as it were, to lead old Horace through some modern paces we have heard him singing his tender lullabies to children we have wept with him over "Little Boy Blue," and all the rest of those quaint songs we have listened to his wonderful stories but only in the story of "The House" do we find his humor so gently turned, so deftly put, and so ripe for the purpose of literary expression. It lies deep here, and those who desire to enjoy it as it should be enjoyed must place their ears close to the heart of human nature. The wit and the rollicking drollery that were but the surface indications of Mr. Field's genius have here given place to the ripe humor that lies as close to tears as to laughter the humor that is a part and a large part of almost every piece of English literature that has outlived the hand that wrote it.

JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS.

The Chapters in this Book

I WE BUY A PLACE II OURSELVES AND OUR NEIGHBORS III WE MAKE OUR BARGAIN KNOWN IV THE FIRST PAYMENT V WE NEGOTIATE A MORTGAGE VI I AM BESOUGHT TO BUY THINGS VII OUR PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENTS VIII THE VANDALS BEGIN THEIR WORK IX NEIGHBOR MACLEOD'S THISTLE X COLONEL DOLLER'S GREAT IDEA XI I MAKE A STAND FOR MY RIGHTS XII I AM DECEIVED IN MR. WAX XIII EDITOR WOODSIT A TRUE FRIEND XIV THE VICTIM OF AN ORDINANCE XV THE QUESTION OF INSURANCE XVI NEIGHBOR ROBBINS' PLATYPUS XVII OUR DEVICES FOR ECONOMIZING XVIII I STATE MY VIEWS ON TAXATION XIX OTHER PEOPLE'S DOGS XX I ACQUIRE POISON AND EXPERIENCE XXI WITH PLUMBERS AND PAINTERS XXII THE BUTLER'S PANTRY XXIII ALICE'S NIGHT WATCHMAN XXIV DRIVEWAYS AND WALL PAPERS XXV AT LAST WE ENTER OUR HOUSE

THE HOUSE

I

WE BUY A PLACE

It was either Plato the Athenian, or Confucius the Chinese, or Andromachus the Cretan or some other philosopher whose name I disremember that remarked once upon a time, and the time was many centuries ago, that no woman was happy until she got herself a home. It really makes no difference who first uttered this truth, the truth itself is and always has been recognized as one possessing nearly all the virtues of an axiom.

I recall that one of the first wishes I heard Alice express during our honeymoon was that we should sometime be rich enough to be able to build a dear little house for ourselves... Continue reading book >>




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