FRED AND MARIA, AND ME

Fred and Maria, and Me by Elizabeth Prentiss.

Fred and Maria and Me first appeared anonymously in the Hours at Home, in 1865. It had been written several years before, and, without the knowledge of Mrs. Prentiss, was offered by a friend to whom she had lent the manuscript, to the Atlantic Monthly and to one or two other magazines, but they all declined it. She herself thus refers to it in a letter to Mrs. Smith, July 13: "I have just got hold of the Hours at Home. I read my article and was disgusted with it. My pride fell below zero, and I wish it would stay there." But the story attracted instant attention. "Aunt Avery" was especially admired, as depicting a very quaint and interesting type of New England religious character in the earlier half of the century. Such men as the late Dr. Horace Bushnell and Dr. William were unstinted in their praise. In a letter to Mrs. Smith, dated a few months later, Mrs. Prentiss writes: "Poor old Aunt Avery! She doesn't know what to make of it that folks make so much of her, and has to keep wiping her spectacles. I feel entirely indebted to you for this thing ever seeing the light." When published as a book, Fred and Maria and Me was received with great favor, and a wide circulation. In 1874 a German translation appeared. Although no attempt is made to reproduce the idioms, much of the peculiar spirit and flavor of the original is preserved in this version.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).

This is an amusing story of Aunt Avery and her nephew, Fred, who was always asking for help. Her soft heart gave him money to get his business going and for whatever else. Aunt Avery, who had never been 20 miles from where she was born, lacked knowledge in the ways of the world. She was unsettled when she went to New York and saw what Fred was doing with the money, but Aunt Avery's quaint ways that were based on the Bible were honored by God.—Curiosmith (2014).

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