Late one afternoon, as Bertha Young turns a corner onto her street, her body and mind suddenly feel total bliss. Only the conscious constraints of “civilization” keep her from running, dancing, and laughing.
Inside her house, she tells her housekeeper to bring her a bowl of fruit so she can decorate the table where she is to give a dinner party that night. The beauty of the fruit on the table makes her laugh almost hysterically.
Bertha runs upstairs to the nursery and begs the nurse to allow her to hold her infant daughter, Little Bertha. The nurse resentfully consents. As Bertha fondles and kisses her child, bliss again overwhelms her. The nurse returns, tells her she is wanted on the telephone, and triumphantly seizes “her Little Bertha.” On the telephone, Bertha’s husband, Harry, tells her that he will be home a little late. She has an urge to tell him how she feels but represses it.
Anticipating seeing Miss Pearl Fulton, a lovely, mysterious blond woman, a recent acquaintance, who is to attend the dinner party, Bertha feels bliss again, and goes to the drawing-room window and looks across the garden at a lovely pear tree in full, perfect bloom. To her, it is “a symbol of her own life”: She is young; she and her husband are “really good pals”; she has a baby, no money worries, a house and garden, artistic friends, books, music, a wonderful dressmaker, a fine new cook; and a trip abroad is planned for the...
(The entire section is 470 words.)