The Furnis Man, continued

A not at all timeless tale written in 1916.  Here is the beginning.  Below is part two.

To bring you up to speed, the well to do upper-crust Cameron family have a precocious and delightful young egalitarian of 5 who is having his own birthday party with just the people he most likes in the world.  These people include his wealthy young godmother, a lonely and somewhat sullen Swedish nursemaid, his doctor, a crusty old bachelor professor and author who never goes to parties at all and is quiet the elusive lion of society (young Master Philip loves him because he once showed the boy a tadpole or some such treasure), the man who does their furnace, a street urchin who touts newspapers- eight mismatched souls altogether, including the boy.   Set in New York City, published in 1916.  I’ll share the author and illustrator at the end of the series (the illustrations are how I found it, although unfortunately, they are only in black and white here).
The wee lad has just completed his diagram for where his luncheon guests shall be seated, and has fallen asleep, exhausted by his exertions.  His fond parents have found the smudged and wrinkled seating chart and are examining it:


“Couldn’t have done it better myself,” chuckled the elder Cameron. ” Few pictures could be more stimulating to the tired mind than that of Clark between Nurse and the Furnace Man.” “Unless,” murmured his wife, “it’s that of Nita between Jim and the Furnace Man. Oh, Phil, Isn’t it an appalling mixture r?”

“Nita could swing the thing alone, if she happened to be in the humor,” brooded Philip’s mother. ” But probably she won’t be. She almost never is, nowadays. How a girl with money and beauty and position and brains can be desperately discontented all the time is more than I can understand. But about this party— Really—hadn’t we better—“

” Not a bit of it,” interrupted Philip senior. “Give ’em a grand luncheon, and let ’em muddle through. You and I would spoil everything. Moreover, my dear—pardon me for mentioning it—the cold fact is that our son has not invited us!”

On Thursday morning Anita learned by telephone that the time set for Philip’s luncheon was one o’clock, a detail her overworked host had omitted to mention. She presented herself at five minutes before that hour, and was escorted to the drawing-room by a servant who appeared to be struggling with the last arrival, and Philip, eyes blazing with excitement, shook hands with her ceremoniously, and hastened to introduce her to his other guests—an attention complicated by the abrupt disappearance of one of them. Jim had taken refuge behind a divan, over the back of which his agonized red face was sinking with something of the effect of a setting sun. Carlotta, the Swedish nurse of a neighboring child, had coyly re- treated into a corner behind a potted palm. Three men, however, rose as Anita entered, and two of these Philip presented in turn.

“‘This is my doctor,” he said.  ‘He’s awful busy, but he came to my party just the same. He’s going to bring me a little brother soon ‘s he can ‘tend to it. And this is the Professor. He knows everything.”

The foot of Jim, appearing under the divan at this point, distracted the attention of the host. He promptly grabbed it. “We’ll go in to lunch now,” he ended hurriedly as he tugged away at Jim’s foot, “‘Cause we’re all here-  Jim! You just got to come out and bring Carlotta, so please do it quick!”

Professor Gray looked very much as Anita had expected him to look.  Doctor Clark was an elegant person with a Van Dyke beard and manner .Both murmured pleasant phrases to which Anita replied in kind. Both were utterly insignificant in the presence of the third man, a young giant with brown eyes and the handsomest head and face Miss Holloway had ever seen. They were almost too handsome; they rather took one’s breath away and made one self conscious, but the manner of their possessor was extremely simple and natural. His eyes were as brilliant as Philip’s, and there was an amused tremor in the voice that spoke to her.

“May I take you in?” he asked.

Anita took his arm without speaking, but with an extraordinary feeling of having done so before, indeed of knowing this young man surprisingly well, though certainly she had never met him until this hour. If she had, she could not have forgotten him.  Her spirits rose dizzyingly. This was sure to be an interesting luncheon.

The portieres leading into the dining room had been drawn back, and Philip, hand in hand with the beloved nurse who was his guest of honor, was advancing at the head of his short procession. Behind him, Carlotta and Jim, equally out of their native element, dragged reluctant feet, and back of them Gray and Clark walked, arm in arm, exhibiting a surprising gift of airy badinage.  Anita and her escort came last, and now she shot ia second glance at him quick but appraising taking in this time not alone his brilliant eyes and handsome face, but the swing of his big shoulders, his splendid length of limb, the perfection of his carriage, and the shabbiness of his clothes. His clothes were very shabby, indeed, threadbare even, and one of his carefully polished shoes showed a break at the side. It was a most incongruous thing that such a man should wear garments. He was a prince in a fairy tale, badly disguised.

“Philip does not believe in names,” she smiled, “but you are…”

“The Furnace Man? Yes.” He smiled down at her from the height of his six feet and something, and there was that in the smile which moved her oddly. No man had ever smiled at her quite like this; it was exactly such a smile as Philip might have given her, and it matched perfectly the look in this young giant’s eyes -the look of a happy boy. Those eyes held, too, something of the sudden intimacy of a little boy’s expression when he meets and likes a new friend.

“Isn’t this a lark?” he asked. “No one but Philip could have thought of it. And see him carry it off!”

They were at the table now, looking for the place cards that bore their names; Gray and Clark continuing their cheerful talk in an obvious determination to make the affair ‘go,’ Philip wholly at his ease, Carlotta and Jim still souls in outer darkness. But a few moments later, Anita found herself a sharer of the Furnace Man’s theory that Philip would carry his party to a triumphant finish. The strain was already relaxing; the newsboy and Carlotta had forgotten themselves in contemplation of the room, the flowers, and the food before them. Not even the presence of two noiselessly padding servants who came and went with the dishes of the first course could hurl them back into their abyss of agonized self consciousness Peace fell upon them. They had nothing to do but eat.

At the right hands of Jim and Philip stood tall goblets filled with milk. Near the other covers were bell shaped glasses which were immediately and expertly filled.

Resting his arms on the table in the attitude of a Murillo cherub, the host’s blue eyes swept the circle of his guests. He drew a breath of deep content. “Ain’t it interestin'” he said, “that all of us fr’en’s is alone together in this room?”

Dr. Clark replied, digging his spoon into his Casaba melon with the zest of a hungry man, “You’d better believe it’s interesting!” he said heartily, “And mighty jolly! I was horribly afraid you were going to forget me, Phil. You’re so healthy that I never see you except on gala occasions. Can’ t we knock him out for a day or two with his birthday cake?” he asked the nurse.

But Philip was seriously explaining. “You see I had to ask my fr’en’s when I saw them,” he began, “so I asked Nurse first and the Furnace Man next, cause I see them every day and ’cause the Furnace Man has so many en- engagements. But he said soon’s I asked him he thought he could get out of some of them. An he did!”

The Furnace Man dropped a few words into Anita’s ear ,”The special engagement today,” he murmured, “was Gray’s lecture on Pragmatism. You see he has cut it, too.”

“Then you are a university student, of course!” Anita wondered why she had not realized this before. She felt a quick relief, a quick disappointment, and swiftly wondered why she felt either.

He nodded. “Working my way through,” he added cheerfully. “Hence the furnace. Yes, I ‘ve a whole string of furnaces on this street. That’s how I met Philip. He’s an early riser. So am I. I get here at six every morning and Philip’s about the only person stirring. He trots down into the basement and we talk things over. We’ve settled most of the big problems of life. A few we;ve had to leave.”

“What were they?” Anita was interested. Her picture of Philip in the basement on the upturned box had been surprisingly accurate, as these sudden visualizations of hers were apt to be.

“He asked me one day if I didn t think the poor had too many children. I said I rather inclined to that theory. I’m one of seven, myself, but that I didn t know what could be done about it.* Philip admitted that he didn’t know, either. We don’t often give up like that. But Phil added that he was thinking about it a great deal. He’s a fascinating little beggar.”

Miss Holloway readily agreed, with the expression that so warmed her features more than she ever knew.   But she had known Philip’s charms through five years of close association, following their first intimate inspection the first next day after he had arrived on earth. Those of the Furnace Man were only now dawning upon her; he suggested hinterlands of possibility. She concentrated on the Furnace Man…


Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

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Leaked press meeting reveals the news is not about facts

Blatant bias revealed through leaked meeting at NYT

This will change nobody’s minds. The blindly partisan bias at the NYT has been obvious to all who can see for years.

Those who won’t see will continue to believe the ever shifting raucous, shrill accusations of the media are measured reports of facts motivated by a love of truth.

They will likely be muttering about this in nursing homes despite the fact that repeatedly an anti Trump story the press goes ballistic over turns out to be wrong (Russia Russia Russia) or silly (2 scoops of ice cream) or an outright lie (he included white supremacists in his good people on both sides comment).

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The Furnis Man, a story from 1916

This is a perfectly silly, soppy, and very dated story from an old magazine that I found because it’s illustrated by an illustrator I am quite fond of and I periodically do a search for her works just because I like to look at them.  But as silly, soppy, and utterly dated as it is, a period piece that simply couldn’t have come from any other country or era than the one it did, it tickled me.  While I am all for the merits of timeless literature, sometimes I like those stories precisely because of their dated references and standards.
It’s also classist, obliviously so even while making fun of classism, and yet, it made me smile.  It passed away a few minutes in mild enjoyment, an elbow-chair for the mind, complete with calorie-free chocolate bon-bons for the brain.

Miss Anita Hollowway rested her arms inelegantly on her breakfast tray and fronwncd down at the silver coffee-pot, the cream-pitcher, the two slieces of toast, and the pile of letters that met her sardonic glance. She was twenty- four.  A dear and candid friend had once said of her that she looked like a girl in her teens when she was interested, and thirty when she was bored. She was not interested now. Another day had begun, and there was every prospect that it would be very much like the previous seventy- eight days which had followed her reluctant return to New York from her big house in the country. She had been bored there, but not oppressively; she was oppressively bored in town, and she fiercely resented the fact.

In twenty minutes her masseuse would arrive, and the strenuous hour of this young person’s visit would be succeeded the attentions of a maid, who might or might not arouse the momentary interest attending the building of a new style of coiffure on the head of her mistress. After that there would be the nuisance of getting dressed, Anita reflected gloomily- and then a luncheon at which eight or ten women would gabble about nothing, none listening to any of the others. At five she must go to Harriet Mason’s tea, “to meet” a person she had not the slightest desire to meet and talk about pointless things she had not the slightest desire to talk about; and she must get away from that in time to dress for a seven-o’clock dinner, followed by a play concerning which she had heard the most depressing reports.

As to the mail, she knew before she opened her letters about what they contained: An appeal in behalf of the Polish fund; an appeal in behalf of the Servian fund; an almost tearful plea from a local charity organization not to forget the deserving poor at home; three invitations to dinners; five or six invitations to luncheons; four requests that she be a hostess of some fund-raisers, all entertainments for worthy ends of course, and requests that she buy half a dozen tickets at five dollars each; one or two casual notes from women friends as blasé as herself; several notes from uninteresting men with uninteresting conversational gifts inviting her to see the Russian dancers.  As she flicked through those invitations, Miss Holloway reflected with increasing gloom that one should see those Russian dancers with interesting men or one should not see them at all.

She opened other letters. They realized her darkest forebodings. But at the bottom of the heap, almost hidden under the rim of her plate, was a tiny envelope, addressed in sprawling printed letters; and at the sight of which the lovely but cold face of Miss Holloway warmed and brightened as if touched by a sudden beam from the sun of romance and became not just lovely, but delightfully human and charming. She tore open the envelope, swept an eye past a line of white ducks in frenzied fight across the top of a blue page, and read the words below:


Mother says I can Ask just the Ones I Want for my burthday partie. It is I want you. Will you come?

Mother says Tell you the Rest so it is Jim who does not belong to eny One. He sels papers he is Older than Me. And my nurs. And there is the the Furnis man and Carlota from Sweden she dosn’t no anybody and is lonsom.  And my Own dokter and Profeser Gray Farther says he nos more Than Any one els in the Unervercity but he has not Got eny Litel Boy. Pleas cum I kno you wil like The furnis Man. Yur lovin frend,


Miss Holloway read the letter twice. Then she threw back her head with a laugh, such an unexpected sound that it had a shattering effect on the nervous system of the maid who was just coming in to remove the breakfast-tray. Subsequently, as Anita resigned herself to the ministrations of the masseuse, and still later to those of the artiste in coiffures, her lips were curved in a tender and absent smile.

She recalled the list of Philip’s prospective guests, and they seemed to pass before her in imagined review: Carlotta of Sweden. who sounded like a royal, but was probably a cook; Gray, visualized as a dried-up, academic person who had won Philip’s heart by showing him a tadpole or a caterpillar; Jim. evidently a pal near Philip’s tender age; and last, but far from least, the Furnace Man Philip was sure she would like. She knew how the boy must have met this person in his explorations through the cellar of the great Cameron house. She could just picture the big-eyed, passionately friendly child sitting on an upturned box, watching the Furnace Man at his labors, and winning the heart of that untidy individual, as he won the hearts of all who touched his life.

Philip was a darling, a very prince of darlings; she had always adored him, and now she was almost passionately grateful to him for giving her a thrill of real interest. She wrote a personal acceptance of his and, light-heartedly leaving the remaining letters for her secretary to answer according to the dictates of grammar and the rules of etiquette, she went to the gabbling luncheon, which was fully as gabbling as she had expected it to be.

In one of the rare intervals in which she herself was permitted to gabble. she mentioned Philip’s invitation, and was rewarded by an immediate attention. even from a group which was discussing the latest in weight loss.

“That child will have a lot Of money when he’s twenty—one,” contributed her hostess-“ But he’ll probably be a socialist by that time and give It all away, because of the peculiar notions of his parents. Fancy letting him associate with newsboys and furnace-men !”
“’ But think of getting Professor Gray!” another breathed in awe. “He never goes anywhere, and his books are wonderful.”

“The Camerons ought to be putting up now for the best schools and clubs, so he’ll get in when he’s old enough,” another matron thought. “We entered Billy for Groton the day he was born.”

“Are you really his aunt?” a fourth asked Miss Holloway. “No,” Anita admitted; “only his godmother. But when he was old enough to notice names, and heard his mother call me Anita, he thought it meant ‘Aunt and so.” She stopped. Nobody was listening.

“That luncheon of his will be a weird affair,” said a girl who affected off-hand speech. ” Where d’ ye s’pose he’ll sandwich Nita—between Jim and Carlotta ?”
Anita laughed. “l hope so,” she declared. ” I’d infinitely prefer them to Professor Gray and the doctor.”

The same problem was at the same moment disturbing the breast of Master Philip Cameron. Following their usual method with this precocious infant, his parents had thrown upon him the bur den of the preparations for his party. as well as of the entertainment itself. They were, they lightly mentioned, at his service as a source of general information; but they expected him to untie his own somewhat tangled social knots.
Pale but calm, Master Philip asked a few’ questions. He learned that the table arrangement of his guests was highly important. Also that there were hosts so given to detail that they actually wrote out a list of their guests and then made a diagram of their positions at the banquet-board. His mother seemed to admire such hosts. Philip disappeared with a wan smile. A little later he returned with inky fingers and a blotted list, to which Mrs. Cameron gave immediate and respectful attention.

Carlotta from Sweden
Dokter Clark
Aunt Nita
Profeser Gray
the Furnis man

How many does that make?” his mother demanded. Breathing rather heavily in his interest, Philip counted the names. It was an important matter. There must be no mistake. ” Seven,” he decided. “Eight would be better,” mused the exacting parent. “Eight is an even number and they could go into the dining-room in pairs.”

“Like an’mals into the Ark,” con- firmed Philip, grasping the point.
“Can you think of any one else you’d like to ask? There really should be eight.” Philip shook his head. Then his brow cleared. “Would I do?” he suggested, diffidently. You know I—I— really ‘spected to be there!”
His mother laughed and hugged him, hiding in his yellow hair a conscious face. “I think you will,” she conceded. When the question of the diagram came up after this refreshing interval, Philip drew a circle that bore a depressing resemblance to a leaky egg. A few patient touches gave it better proportions, and then, still following a large general plan, he made crosses at the head and foot to represent his guests, and three marks on each side of the imaginary table.

There remained the delicate matter of arranging the guests, and at this point Mrs. Cameron departed somewhat abruptly, murmuring that a lady usually sat between two gentlemen, and that the guests “one most desired to honor” were placed at one’s right and left. The hints left Philip rather limp, but that night when he was sleeping—somewhat restlessly, it must be confessed, after his mental exertions— his father and mother found this document in his small desk, and bent reverent heads above it:


Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

What they were reading that year, from the pages of a 1915-16 of The Bookman. Not an endorsement (I’ve read three of these and haven’t even heard of the rest), here is some other fiction published in this time-frame:

The Anvil of Chance By Gerald Chitten, A story of character development. The scenes are in a boys boarding school, country life in New England and in Central America.

Around Old Chester By Margaret Deland. More tales of Dr Lavender’s community

The Ashiel Mystery A Detective Story By Mrs Charles Bryce, A detective story involving the mystery of the heroine’s birth and of a strange murder.

The Bachelors By William Dana Orcutt, A story of varying types of American college men and their reactions to the modern world.

Barnavoux By Pierre Mille Being the Authorized Translation by Berengere Drillien. Adventures in the French Colonial Infantry at its various stations.

The Bent Twig By Dorothy Canfield (later Dorothy Canfield Fisher of Understood Betsy fame) A psychological study of a young Western girl her early life and her love affair.

Beyond the Frontier By Randall Parrish. Early days in the Middle West with La Salle and the French explorers.

The Boomerang By William Hamilton Osborne. A mystery story of business and social life in New York.

A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens. A holiday edition illustrated by Arthur Rackham

The Corner Stone Bv Margaret Hill Mc Carter. A storv of Western farm life

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This was dying in our driveway and an enchantingly exciting and oblivious grand-daughter caught it with her Grandpa. She was unaware of its impending death but totally delighted with its beauty.

This is as it should be. She is four. There is time enough for her to learn more about the graver, harder things of life after she has more maturity and understanding. Let her have her fill of live and beauty first, as these things help build that solid foundational support which will help her develop that grace, maturity, and understanding which she will need for the uglier, harder truths of life.

Charlotte Mason, quoting Mr. Fisher who is quoting John Stuart Mill (vol. 6 p. 126):

“Of course there is a great deal to criticise in any country, and I should be the last person to suggest that the critical faculty should not be exercised and trained at school. But before we teach children to criticise the institutions of their country, before we teach them to be critical of what is bad, let us teach them to recognize and admire what is good. After all life is very short; we all of us have only one life to live, and during that life let us get into ourselves as much love, as much admiration, as much elevating pleasure as we can, and if we view education merely as discipline in critical bitterness, then we shall lose all the sweets of life and we shall make ourselves unnecessarily miserable. There is quite enough sorrow and hardship in this world as it is without introducing it prematurely to young people.”

Teach them to admire and recognize what is good. Give them love and beauty first.
And butterflies.

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Teaching grammar question

Any Winston grammar users? Help me out….

Going to Malaysia in December. I will be teaching Shakespeare to kids at a learning center. English should be the first language for most.

I *might* be teaching very basic grammar/parts of speech to 4th graders to ??? They will have basic English but might be ESL or ETL or EFL…


I have this much Winston grammar, some grammar songs, and mad libs. Would it work? What else would you suggest?

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