Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 887–92.

Three Quiet Ladies of the Name of Luce

Harriet Prescott Spofford


Short Fiction


Bacteriology, Theory, Religion, Disease, Public Health, Futurism

    The elderly Luce sisters, Miss Maria, Miss Margaret, and Miss Martha, each have 'unfailing topics of conversation' in their otherwise uneventful lives. For instance, 'Miss Maria, years ago, when rumour of bacteria first reached the vulgar ear, had mounted the germ theory, mention of which by some strange accident she had chanced to pick up, but only mention, so that she was at liberty to develop the theory after any manner that struck her fancy', and, amongst other oddities, she now 'declined to kiss people except on rare occasions', and 'took snuff to create a volcanic escape for any deleterious inhalation'. (889) Indeed, 'she cherished her germ theory in place of a religious creed' (890), and 'had fine ideals of that millennium when all poisonous germs were to have been exterminated and such absolute health was to reign in their place that mankind were to be practically immortal' (889).

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