MELANCHTHA -- Gertrude Stein (1909) 

Rose Johnson was a real black, tall, well built, sullen, stupid, childlike, good looking negress. She laughed when she was happy and grumbled and was sullen with everything that troubled.    6
  Rose Johnson was a real black negress but she had been brought up quite like their own child by white folks.    7
  Rose laughed when she was happy but she had not the wide, abandoned laughter that makes the warm broad glow of negro sunshine. Rose was never joyous with the earth-born, boundless joy of negroes. Hers was just ordinary, any sort of woman laughter.    8
  Rose Johnson was careless and was lazy, but she had been brought up by white folks and she needed decent comfort. Her white training had only made for habits, not for nature. Rose had the simple, promiscuous unmorality of the black people.    9
  Rose Johnson and Melanctha Herbert like many of the twos with women were a curious pair to be such friends.   10
  Melanctha Herbert was a graceful, pale yellow, intelligent, attractive negress. She had not been raised like Rose by white folks but then she had been half made with real white blood.   11
  She had Rose Johnson were both of the better sort of negroes, there, in Bridgepoint.   12
  “No, I ain’t no common nigger,” said Rose Johnson, “for I was raised by white folks, and Melanctha she is so bright and learned so much in school, she ain’t no common nigger either, though she ain’t got no husband to be married to like I am to Sam Johnson.”


  “I don’t see Melanctha why you should talk like you would kill yourself just because you’re blue. I’d never kill myself Melanctha just ’cause I was blue. I’d maybe kill somebody else Melanctha ’cause I was blue, but I’d never kill myself. If I ever killed myself Melanctha it’d be by accident, and if I ever killed myself by accident Melanctha, I’d be awful sorry.”

And then Melanctha was fond of watching men work on new buildings. She loved to see them hoisting, digging, sawing and stone cutting. Here, too, in the daylight, she always learned to know the common workmen. “Heh, Sis, look out or that rock will fall on you and smash you all up into little pieces. Do you think you would make a nice jelly?” And then they would all laugh and feel that their jokes were very funny. And “Say, you pretty yaller girl, would it scare you bad to stand up here on top where I be? See if you’ve got grit and come up here where I can hold you. All you got to do is to sit still on that there rock that they’re just hoistin’, and then when you get here I’ll hold you tight, don’t you be scared Sis.”


Dr. Jefferson Campbell was a serious, earnest, good, young joyous doctor. He liked to take care of everybody and he loved his own colored people. He always found life very easy did Jeff Campbell, and everybody liked to have him with them. He was so good and sympathetic, and he was so earnest and so joyous. He sang when he was happy, and he laughed, and his was the free abandoned laughter that gives the warm broad glow to negro sunshine.


  “Yes I certainly do see that very clear Dr. Campbell,” said Melanctha, “I see that’s certainly what it is always made me not know right about you and that’s certainly what it is that makes you really mean what you was always saying. You certainly are just too scared Dr. Campbell to really feel things way down in you. All you are always wanting Dr. Campbell, is just to talk about being good, and to play with people just to have a good time, and yet always to certainly keep yourself out of trouble. It don’t seem to me Dr. Campbell that I admire that way to do things very much It certainly ain’t really to me being very good. It certainly ain’t any more to me Dr. Campbell, but that you certainly are awful scared about really feeling things way down in you, and that’s certainly the only way Dr. Campbell I can see that you can mean, by what it is that you are always saying to me.”


 “Melanctha Herbert”, began Jeff Campbell, “I certainly after all this time I know you, I certainly do know little, real about you. You see, Melanctha, it’s like this way with me”; Jeff was frowning, with his thinking and looking very hard into the fire, “You see it’s just this way, with me now, Melanctha. Sometimes you seem like one kind of a girl to me, and sometimes you are like a girl that is all different to me, and the two kinds of girls is certainly very different to each other, and I can’t see any way they seem to have much to do, to be together in you. They certainly don’t seem to be made much like as if they could have anything really to do with each other. Sometimes you are a girl to me I certainly never would be trusting, and you got a laugh then so hard, it just rattles, and you got ways so bad, I can’t believe you mean them hardly, and yet all that I just been saying is certainly you one way I often see you, and it’s what your mother and Jane Harden always found you, and it’s what makes me hate so, to come near you. And then certainly sometimes, Melanctha, you certainly is all a different creature, and sometimes then there comes out in you what is certainly a thing, like a real beauty. I certainly, Melanctha, never can tell just how it is that it comes so lovely. Seems to me when it comes it’s got a real sweetness, that is more wonderful than a pure flower, and a gentleness, that is more tender than the sunshine, and a kindness, that makes one feel like summer, and then a way to know, that makes everything all over, and all that, and it does certainly seem to be real for the little while it’s lasting, for the little while that I can surely see it, and it gives me to feel like I certainly had got real religion. And then when I got rich with such a feeling, comes all that other girl, and then that seems more likely that that is really you what’s honest, and then I certainly do get awful afraid to come to you, and I certainly never do feel I could be very trusting with you. And then I certainly don’t know anything at all about you, and I certainly don’t know which is a real Melanctha Herbert, and I certainly don’t feel no longer, I ever want to talk to you. Tell me honest, Melanctha, which is the way that is you really, when you are alone, and real, and all honest. Tell me, Melanctha, for I certainly do want to know it.”


At last one day he got a letter from Melanctha. “I certainly don’t rightly understand what you are doing now to me Jeff Campbell,” wrote Melanctha Herbert. “I certainly don’t rightly understand Jeff Campbell why you ain’t all these days been near me, but I certainly do suppose it’s just another one of the queer kind of ways you have to be good, and repenting of yourself all of a sudden. I certainly don’t say to you Jeff Campbell I admire very much the way you take to be good Jeff Campbell. I am sorry Dr. Campbell, but I certainly am afraid I can’t stand it no more from you the way you have been just acting. I certainly can’t stand it any more the way you act when you have been as if you thought I was always good enough for anybody to have with them, and then you act as if I was a bad one and you always just despise me. I certainly am afraid Dr. Campbell I can’t stand it any more like that. I certainly can’t stand it any more the way you are always changing. I certainly am afraid Dr. Campbell you ain’t man enough to deserve to have anybody care so much to be always with you. I certainly am awful afraid Dr. Campbell I don’t ever any more want to really see you. Good-by Dr. Campbell I wish you always to be real happy.”

Jeff sat down and began his answer to her. “Dear Melanctha,” Jeff wrote to her. “I certainly don’t think you got it all just right in the litter, I just been reading, that you just wrote me. I certainly don’t think you are just fair or very understanding to all I have to suffer to keep straight on to really always to believe in you and trust you. I certainly don’t think you always are fair to remember right how hard it is for a man, who thinks like I was always thinking, not to think you do things very bad very often. I certainly don’t think, Melanctha, I ain’t right when I was so angry when I got your letter to me. I know very well, Melanctha, that with you, I never have been a coward. I find it very hard, and I never said it any different, it is hard to me to be understanding, and to know really what it is you wanted, and what it is you are meaning by what you are always saying to me. Idon’t say ever, it ain’t very hard for you to be standing that I ain’t very quick to be following whichever way that you are always leading. You know very well, Melanctha, it hurts me very bad and way inside me when I have to hurt you, but I always got to be real honest with you. There ain’t no other way for me to be, with you, and I know very well it hurts me too, a whole lot, when I can’t follow so quick as you would have me. I don’t like to be a coward to you, Melanctha, and I don’t like to say what I ain’t meaning to you. And if you don’t want me to do things honest, Melanctha, why I can’t ever talk to you, and you are right when you say, you never again want to see me, but if you got any real sense of what I always been feeling with you, and if you got any right sense, Melanctha, of how hard I been trying to think and to feel right for you, I will be very glad to come and see you, and to begin again with you. I don’t say anything now, Melanctha, about how bad I been this week, since I saw you, Melanctha. It don’t ever do any good to talk such things over. All I know is I do my best, Melanctha, to you, and I don’t say, no, never, I can do any different than just to be honest and come as fast as I think it’s right for me to be going in the ways you teach me to be really understanding. So don’t talk any more foolishness, Melanctha, about my always changing. I don’t change, never, and I got to do what I think is right and honest to me, and I never told you any different, and you always knew it very well that I always would do just so. If you like me to come and see you to-morrow, and go out with you, I will be very glad to, Melanctha. Let me know right away, what it is you want me to be doing for you, Melanctha.
Very truly yours,