Judith Merril

Judith Merril

So, take it all in all, by that part of the ’40s, Judy and I were doing quite well.

Was Judy happy?

Well, yes, more or less, in general. But there were some sources of displeasure. Judy had been a busy Young Socialist (Fourth International), more easily described as a kid Trotskyite. Many of our brainwashed citizens have been taught to think that anyone who approves of Socialism is a fool or a villain or worse. That wasn’t the case for Judy. (It hadn’t been for me, either, a decade or two earlier.)

Most of the people attracted to leftwing parties were driven there by revulsion against white men lynching black ones in the south. And crooked politicians calling their police out to spray strikers with machine-gun fire. And by about a million other social injustices. Neither Judy nor I could change any of these things, but writers could say what they needed to say, as long as they said it well.

Judy loved what people had said to and of her after “That Only a Mother.” She really wanted to see if she could get more of that kind of thing. But devoting herself to writing was not entirely compatible with holding a 9-to-5 job at Bantam.

This was a siren song not entirely lost on me. I have never really been thrilled to hold a job, especially if my boss expected me to spend 40 hours a week in his office to do it. But I also was quite pleased with solvency and the approbation of my bosses. I wasn’t ready to pack it all in.

And, after we talked it over at some length, she decided, wait a minute, maybe we didn’t have to quit our jobs right away. It wasn’t just boredom with an office that was bothering her. It was something that was much more important. Much more fundamental. Much more biological.

In short, the yearnings Judy had been suffused with, she said, had really been for another baby.

And what did I think of that idea?

Well, actually, after a moment’s thought, I loved it. I was madly infatuated with Judy’s little daughter, Merril, who had pretty much decided that I was the sort of Daddy, or at least the stand-in for one, that Mommy had promised they might luck into one day.

I did see some problems. I didn’t want my first child to be a bastard. What would Judy think of getting married before she got pregnant? Oh, positively, she said. She wouldn’t have it any other way. And was she thinking of the, you know, kind of marriage with all those forsaking all others vows and stuff, as contrasted with her own clearly expressed views on the subject?

Well, yes, she said. She had thought a lot about that, too. It was indeed possible that there might be trouble ahead. She hoped not, though. For a while, the simple fact of living in a family with Merril and me and Merril’s new baby sibling sounded just right to her. And if things went wrong at some time in the future we could try to work it out in some order we both could live with.

Well, it wasn’t a guarantee of peace and harmony. But we could take a chance, and the more I thought about it, the more I began to really want a lovable little Merril-sib of my own. We struck a deal, and began hunting for a friendly judge to say our vows.

To be continued.

Related posts:
Judith Merril, Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9