An Awakening (part 1)

April 12, 2018

Before the nineteenth century, scarlet fever was considered to be a benign childhood illness, but between 1824 and 1885 America and England experienced cycles of pandemic scarlet fever, and the United States suffered numerous waves of scarlet fever from 1820 to 1880. First published in Lydia Maria Child’s Juvenile Miscellany in 1829, “Blind Susan, or, The Affectionate Family” told the true story of Susan Mordant who bravely underwent brutal corrective surgery after an illness. Susan appeared to be on the mend, but then died in the story’s conclusion.


“Bah, bah, bah!” The sheep asserted as he wrapped Fanny’s shall around him and took a piece of torn carpet for a cap. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Purchase notecard here.

In a story called “Fanny’s Menagerie,” edited by Lydia Maria Child (1802-1888) for Rainbows for Children (1847), a young, entitled girl named Fanny has nothing pleasant to do on a rainy, because her wax doll is sick in bed with a scarlet fever. Fanny wishes that she were poor so she could “run about barefoot” in the rain. Frustrated, she throws herself onto her bed and watches the raindrops trickle down the windowpanes with her eyes half shut.

Soon Fanny sees six geese fly into her room. Her first thought is that the geese may have a couple of large quills that she can use for pens. However the geese are angry and they are there for something else. The geese swoop over Fanny’s head and pounced upon her pillow, ripping it to pieces and carrying off as many of the feathers as they can carry and leaving the others scattered around her room.

Fanny next hears a patter, patter, patter at the door and then a big sheep comes in demanding, “Bah, bah, bah! Where is the wool they cut from my back?” The sheep grabs Fanny’s shawl and wraps it around him, the rips her rug to bits and throws a piece over his head. Fanny starts to laugh, but he is not amused and stomps out.

Fanny composes herself as another sound approaches, “Buzz, buzz, buzz!” A swarm of bees appears and the queen bee demands, “Where is our wax?”

“Hum, Hum, Hum! Who stole our wax!” The other bees swarm about the room angrily sticking their stingers into everything until they reach Fanny’s wax doll, then they started nibbling away at the wax on her doll’s face. Fanny gets upset because she loves that doll.

To be continued…

Source: Lydia Maria Child. 1847. “Fanny’s Menagerie,” Rainbows for Children. Boston: Ticknor and Fields: 119-131.

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