The New Yorker Classics:

By Paul Rudnick

March 9, 2009

I am Rebecca, the wife of Mister Jonathan Harnsill. We arrived in the New World in 1626 and took up residence in a small cabin in the Plymouth Colony. Toward the end of our first January, I travelled to Boston to purchase a thimbleful of salt. And now, five years later, I have travelled to Boston for a second thimbleful. I am out of control.

During our first winter, I sewed two simple black woollen dresses, which I have alternated wearing in the years since. And yet this morning I find myself thinking about patching the frayed collar on one of the dresses. Have I no shame?

My mind has been consumed with nothing but thoughts of spending, purchasing, and the wanton enjoyment of unnecessary goods. On many nights I dream of acquiring a tin milk pail, like our neighbor’s. I picture myself strolling through the town as strangers whisper, “There she goes, the proud lady with the pail.” I imagine myself attending a fancy-dress ball with the pail on my arm, filled with pinecones and soil. I fear that I shall speak these dreams aloud, and beg my husband to bludgeon me.

Go to link