Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself

13. CHAPTER THIRTEEN (continued)

There were no Kaddish prayers in Kirsch's Temple. On the Friday following the first anniversary of Molly Brandeis's death Fanny did not go home after working hours, but took a bite of supper in a neighborhood restaurant. Then she found her way to one of the orthodox Russian Jewish synagogues on the west side. It was a dim, odorous, bare little place, this house of worship. Fanny had never seen one like it before. She was herded up in the gallery, where the women sat. And when the patriarchal rabbi began to intone the prayer for the dead Fanny threw the gallery into wild panic by rising for it--a thing that no woman is allowed to do in an orthodox Jewish church. She stood, calmly, though the beshawled women to right and left of her yanked at her coat.

In January Fanny discovered New York. She went as selector for her department. Hereafter Slosson would do only the actual buying. Styles, prices, and materials would be decided by her. Ella Monahan accompanied her, it being the time for her monthly trip. Fanny openly envied her her knowledge of New York's wholesale district. Ella offered to help her.

"No," Fanny had replied, "I think not, thanks. You've your own work. And besides I know pretty well what I want, and where to go to get it. It's making them give it to me that will be hard."

They went to the same hotel, and took connecting rooms. Each went her own way, not seeing the other from morning until night, but they often found kimonoed comfort in each other's presence.

Fanny had spent weeks outlining her plan of attack. She had determined to retain the cheap grades, but to add a finer line as well. She recalled those lace-bedecked bundles that the farmer women and mill hands had born so tenderly in their arms. Here was one direction in which they allowed extravagance free rein. As a canny business woman, she would trade on her knowledge of their weakness.

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