Short Story #159: Majorie Daw by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Title:  Majorie Daw

Author:  Thomas Bailey Aldrich


Book cover: he Bedside Book of Famous American Short Stories edited by Angus Burrell and Bennett A. CerfDr. Dillon writes to Edward Delaney about the condition of his friend, John Flemming.  Dillon taking care of Flemming who is recovering from a broken leg.  Flemming's spirits are down and he's been very disruptive and angry towards family and staff that are trying to help him so Dillon is beseeching Delaney to reach out to Flemming to help.  Delaney writes to Flemming to check in on him and share some of his recent activities.  The two proceed to correspond and share observations.  Delaney mentions a new womanly neighbor who Flemming takes a great interest in and continues to inquire about and who, according to Delaney has also taken an interest in hearing about Flemming.  This communication comes back and forth for several weeks and Flemming decides he wants to either send her a note via Delaney or go and see her himself despite what the doctor says.  Delaney begs him to be patient and then explains that she is to be wedded to an military man.  Flemming decides he must go to the town and stop this despite the doctor's and Delaney's protests.  Flemming arrives in town and goes to Delaney's home where a note was left to him by Delaney.  The note explains that the woman (Majorie Daw) was a mere fiction to help keep Flemming interested and distracted and that Delaney never meant it to go this far.  


I was surprised by the ending.  I anticipated that Delaney would run off with the girl or fall for her, but that she was an entire piece of fiction was quite nice.  It reminds me of the Brady Bunch episode with George Glass.  I'm also a fan of stories that are epistolary so I enjoyed this.  However, I think Aldrich cheated a bit by ditching Flemming's replies after the first round and sticking mostly with just what Delaney was writing.  I think there could have been much more done or it would have made Flemming's heartbreak all the more deep.

Short Story #159 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/8/2014
Source:  The Bedside Book of Famous American Short Stories edited by Angus Burrell and Bennett A. Cerf.  Random House, 1936.  The story can also be found on this website

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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