Remember whatever was good and helpful, and emulate it.
To Miss Zoe Clayborn Artist
Concerning the Attentions of Married Men
I am sure, my dear niece, that you are a good and pure-minded girl, and that you mean to live a life above reproach, and I fully understand your rebellion against many of the conventional forms which are incompatible with the career of a “girl bachelor,” as you like to call yourself. But let us look at the subject from all sides, while you are on the threshold of life, in the morning of your career, and before you have made any more serious mistakes than the one you mention.
For it was a mistake when you accepted Mr. Gordon’s telephone message to lunch alone with him at a restaurant, even though you knew his wife might not object.
Mr. and Mrs. Gordon are happily married, parents of several children. They are broader and more liberal and more unselfish than most parents, and they went out of their path to extend courtesies to you, a young country girl—at first because you were my niece, then because they liked you personally.
When I first wrote Mrs. Gordon that you were to open a studio in Chicago after your course of study in the East, she expressed deep interest in you, and seemed anxious to have you consider her as a friend—always ready to act as a chaperon or adviser when you felt the need of wiser guidance than your own impulses.
Mrs. Gordon knew that your experience of the world was limited to a country village in the West, and two years’ study at the Pratt Institute. While there she knew you boarded with a cousin of your mother’s, and enjoyed the association and privileges of the daughters of the home.
To start alone in Chicago, and live in your studio, and dine from a chafing-dish, and sleep in an unfolded combination bureau and refrigerator—has more fascinations to your mind than to Mrs. Gordon’s. She was reared in comfort, bordering on luxury, and while her early home life was not happy, she enjoyed all the refinements and all the privileges of protected girlhood.
She knows city life as you cannot know it, and, although she discards many of the burden-some conventions of society, she realizes the necessity of observing some of its laws.
She wanted you to feel that you had the background of a wholesome home, and the protection of clean, well-behaved married friends in your exposed situation; her attitude to you is just what she would want another woman to hold toward her daughter, were she grown up and alone in a large city.
You have been her guest, and she has been your good friend. Mr. Gordon admired you from the first, and that was a new incentive for this most tactful and liberal of wives to befriend you. She always cultivates the women he likes.
This is excellent policy on the part of a wife. If the husband has any really noble qualities or possesses a sterling character, he will appreciate and respect his wife’s confidence, and never violate it; and added to this, he will usually become disillusioned with the women he has admired from a distance, when he sees them frequently at too close range.