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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Bernice Bobs Her Hair, part VI ... the end


Hello everyone.

"Why did I bob my hair? 
For several reasons. I did it because I wanted to, for one thing; because I found it easier to take care of; because I thought it more becoming; and because I felt freer without long, entangling tresses. 
But above and beyond these and several other reasons I had my hair cut short because, to me, it typified a progressive step, in keeping with the inner spirit that animates my whole existence"
(Mary Garden)


She continues:
"Bobbed hair is a state of mind and not merely a new manner of dressing my head. It typifies growth, alertness, up-to-dateness, and is part of the expression of the élan vital! [spirit] It is not just a fad of the moment, either like mah jong or cross-word puzzles. At least I don’t think it is. I consider getting rid of our long hair one of the many little shackles that women have cast aside in their passage to freedom. Whatever helps their emancipation, however small it may seen, is well worth while.."
By far, this should be The Statement of Bobbed Hair. :)


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And now, let us get back to Bernice
...because she's not done.. YET!

Bernice did not fully realize the outrageous trap that had been set for her until she met her aunt's amazed glance just before dinner.
"Why Bernice!"
"I've bobbed it, Aunt Josephine."
"Why, child!"
"Do you like it?"
"Why Bernice!"
"I suppose I've shocked you."
"No, but what'll Mrs. Deyo think tomorrow night? Bernice, you should have waited until after the Deyo's dance—you should have waited if you wanted to do that."
"It was sudden, Aunt Josephine. Anyway, why does it matter to Mrs. Deyo particularly?"
"Why child," cried Mrs. Harvey, "in her paper on 'The Foibles of the Younger Generation' that she read at the last meeting of the Thursday Club she devoted fifteen minutes to bobbed hair. It's her pet abomination. And the dance is for you and Marjorie!"
"I'm sorry."
"Oh, Bernice, what'll your mother say? She'll think I let you do it."
"I'm sorry."
Dinner was an agony. She had made a hasty attempt with a curling-iron, and burned her finger and much hair. She could see that her aunt was both worried and grieved, and her uncle kept saying, "Well, I'll be darned!" over and over in a hurt and faintly hostile torte. And Marjorie sat very quietly, intrenched behind a faint smile, a faintly mocking smile.
Somehow she got through the evening. Three boy's called; Marjorie disappeared with one of them, and Bernice made a listless unsuccessful attempt to entertain the two others—sighed thankfully as she climbed the stairs to her room at half past ten. What a day!
When she had undressed for the night the door opened and Marjorie came in.
"Bernice," she said "I'm awfully sorry about the Deyo dance. I'll give you my word of honor I'd forgotten all about it."
"'Sall right," said Bernice shortly. Standing before the mirror she passed her comb slowly through her short hair.
"I'll take you down-town to-morrow," continued Marjorie, "and the hairdresser'll fix it so you'll look slick. I didn't imagine you'd go through with it. I'm really mighty sorry."
"Oh, 'sall right!"
"Still it's your last night, so I suppose it won't matter much."
Then Bernice winced as Marjorie tossed her own hair over her shoulders and began to twist it slowly into two long blond braids until in her cream-colored negligée she looked like a delicate painting of some Saxon princess. Fascinated, Bernice watched the braids grow. Heavy and luxurious they were moving under the supple fingers like restive snakes—and to Bernice remained this relic and the curling-iron and a to-morrow full of eyes. She could see G. Reece Stoddard, who liked her, assuming his Harvard manner and telling his dinner partner that Bernice shouldn't have been allowed to go to the movies so much; she could see Draycott Deyo exchanging glances with his mother and then being conscientiously charitable to her. But then perhaps by to-morrow Mrs. Deyo would have heard the news; would send round an icy little note requesting that she fail to appear—and behind her back they would all laugh and know that Marjorie had made a fool of her; that her chance at beauty had been sacrificed to the jealous whim of a selfish girl. She sat down suddenly before the mirror, biting the inside of her cheek.
"I like it," she said with an effort. "I think it'll be becoming."
Marjorie smiled.
"It looks all right. For heaven's sake, don't let it worry you!"
"I won't."
"Good night Bernice."
But as the door closed something snapped within Bernice. She sprang dynamically to her feet, clinching her hands, then swiftly and noiseless crossed over to her bed and from underneath it dragged out her suitcase. Into it she tossed toilet articles and a change of clothing, Then she turned to her trunk and quickly dumped in two drawerfulls of lingerie and stammer dresses. She moved quietly, but deadly efficiency, and in three-quarters of an hour her trunk was locked and strapped and she was fully dressed in a becoming new travelling suit that Marjorie had helped her pick out.
Sitting down at her desk she wrote a short note to Mrs. Harvey, in which she briefly outlined her reasons for going. She sealed it, addressed it, and laid it on her pillow. She glanced at her watch. The train left at one, and she knew that if she walked down to the Marborough Hotel two blocks away she could easily get a taxicab.
Suddenly she drew in her breath sharply and an expression flashed into her eyes that a practiced character reader might have connected vaguely with the set look she had worn in the barber's chair—somehow a development of it. It was quite a new look for Bernice—and it carried consequences.
She went stealthily to the bureau, picked up an article that lay there, and turning out all the lights stood quietly until her eyes became accustomed to the darkness. Softly she pushed open the door to Marjorie's room. She heard the quiet, even breathing of an untroubled conscience asleep.
She was by the bedside now, very deliberate and calm. She acted swiftly. Bending over she found one of the braids of Marjorie's hair, followed it up with her hand to the point nearest the head, and then holding it a little slack so that the sleeper would feel no pull, she reached down with the shears and severed it. With the pigtail in her hand she held her breath. Marjorie had muttered something in her sleep. Bernice deftly amputated the other braid, paused for an instant, and then flitted swiftly and silently back to her own room.
Down-stairs she opened the big front door, closed it carefully behind her, and feeling oddly happy and exuberant stepped off the porch into the moonlight, swinging her heavy grip like a shopping-bag. After a minute's brisk walk she discovered that her left hand still held the two blond braids. She laughed unexpectedly—had to shut her mouth hard to keep from emitting an absolute peal. She was passing Warren's house now, and on the impulse she set down her baggage, and swinging the braids like piece of rope flung them at the wooden porch, where they landed with a slight thud. She laughed again, no longer restraining herself.
"Huh," she giggled wildly. "Scalp the selfish thing!"
Then picking up her staircase she set off at a half-run down the moonlit street.

...

The first time I've read this, story the ending left me speechless. By now, it still does, every time I rad it - this last line of Bernice's makes me smile in satisfaction.

(image taken yesterday)
The lips are bit on the darker side,
and I have treated myself for passing the exam:
the emerald-eyed gold snake (bijoux, of course!)


There's just something in getting the Divine Justice (or, should I say it: "returning the favor") that make the ending pleasurable.
I hope you've liked this read-along.
Marija

3 comments:

  1. The quote that led this enjoyable post was so powerful and feels as though it could have come from the mouth of a celebrity being quizzed about her latest haircut today.

    Goodness, how you're making me want bobbed hair myself with all of these recent wonderful posts on the subject. Tempting, tempting (in wig form, natch!) - especially when the sweltering days of summer return and the less hair, the less warmth, the better! :) If I ever do, you'll be the first (okay, probably after Tony :), to know), my dear friend.

    Big hugs & joyful weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    Replies
    1. Jessica,
      Stunning thing about the quote above is that I've been contemplating on something quite similar, when asked (over and over) why is it that I "fail to match" the beauty standard of today's fashion n this country. :)
      If you do chose to try out short hair (and I hope you do); you'll feel and see something both strange and amazing. First time anyone "sheds the locks" of hair and sports the short bob (or a pixie?!) the feeling of not having any weight is overwhelming. I know gals who came to me and asked me do they look lighter - because that is how they've felt. And the truth is, no matter weather it's your natural hair or a wig - there's less of it all-together and that makes it light, airy and stress-free (imagine: no need thinking about "is my hair looking good on the back side as well?") :)

      Have a glorious Sunday
      Marija

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  2. I've always loved that story. Ultimately, Bernice becomes the girl her cousin never thought she could be. I hope she had a racy life :-)

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