Is It Just?

Is It Just?: A Classic Feminist Novel

Minnie Smith
Jenny Roth
Lori Chambers
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttvn1
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  • Book Info
    Is It Just?
    Book Description:

    This unique work of domestic literature adds to our limited library of Canadian feminist writings of the first wave.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9500-9
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. v-xxx)
    JENNY ROTH and LORI CHAMBERS

    Minnie Smith’s domestic novel about the legal perils of marriage,Is It Just?,was published in 1911 by the Methodist Book and Publishing House under the William Briggs imprint.¹ The book was dedicated to the National Council of Women and did not have extensive popular success, perhaps because it is much more strident in its critique of male-dominated society than the works of more famous women such as Nellie McClung.Is It Just?tells the tragic story of Mary Pierce (née Lee), whose selfish and lazy husband uses his legal right to their property to squander the family’s monies. Mary...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 1-4)
  4. CHAPTER I. THE LAND AGENT’S VISIT.
    (pp. 5-13)

    “Mother, when are we going to have supper? The table has been set for ever so long and I’m dreadfully hungry.”

    The speaker was a little ten-year-old boy whose rosy cheeks and robust form showed him to be the possessor of good health. His dark eyes—so dark that they were often taken for black—and his pouting lips spoke impatience as much as his ready tongue.

    “Why, Harry, surely you don’t want supper without your father! He may be here at any minute, and you know, dear, he does not like to have his meals alone, if it can...

  5. CHAPTER II. PHILIP HASTINGS.
    (pp. 14-19)

    Not ten miles from the Pierce farm lived a bachelor on an 800-acre ranch. His out-buildings, dwelling-house, stock, and the general appearance of the whole farm showed the thrift and intelligence of the owner, Philip Hastings. Although an Englishman, having lived in Manitoba for more than twenty years, he regarded Canada as his own country, by adoption, if not by birth. The bracing air and the wide, billowy prairie, studded with countless blossoms of varied hue, and the sunny sky, seemed to have made this man, whom nobody could call handsome, one of “Nature’s gentlemen,” No person could look into...

  6. CHAPTER III. LEAVING THE OLD HOME.
    (pp. 20-25)

    Having succeeded in selling their Manitoba property for five thousand dollars in cash, the Pierces by the first of April were busily employed in the delightful occupation of packing. At least the wife and children were; this work was too trivial to engage the energies of so important an individual as the husand and father, who spent the greater part of his time in trying to induce some of his neighbors to follow his example.

    Mrs. Pierce had not realized the strength of the ties that bound her to her home—the home to which her father had brought his...

  7. CHAPTER IV. THE NEW HOME.
    (pp. 26-31)

    After a very pleasant trip, in which the magnificent mountain scenery was enjoyed to the full, our travellers arrived at Ortgeard one evening in early May. They had not found the journey wearisome, until the arrival at Sicamous, when they found themselves crowded in a dirty, small, and uncomfortable coaches on the short branch from Sicamous Junction to Okanagan Landing. The rate of travelling was snail-like, and the stops were numerous and long, and every person was glad to leave the stuffy, bad-smelling coaches for the steamer. Although the wind was cold, the sun shone brightly, and all the family...

  8. CHAPTER V. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PICTURE.
    (pp. 32-37)

    May had passed away and glorious June had come, shedding golden sunshine over hill and dale, over mountain and lake, throughout the fair Okanagan Valley.

    The Pierces had moved into their new home after waiting at the hotel more than two weeks for their freight. During the stay at the hotel Mr. Pierce was presented with the bill for pruning and spraying, which took him by surprise. He now began to find that a little-amount of work in the Pacific Province costs a great amount of money. Then, to make matters worse, he was told by Mr. Newman that the...

  9. CHAPTER VI. HELEN’S PERPLEXITY.
    (pp. 38-45)

    Helen and Harry had been attending school regularly ever since their arrival in Ortgeard. As the former had been one of the most promising pupils in the Manitoba school, she found no difficulty in being assigned a place in the entrance class; but well-up as she was in general subjects, she discovered that she would have little enough time to prepare for the coming examination in literature and British Columbia history and geography, as the former was different from what she had been studying in the East, and the latter she had not studied.

    Susan Newman was in the same...

  10. CHAPTER VII. QUEER MISS TODD.
    (pp. 46-54)

    It was a beautiful day in July—not too hot, as there was a pleasant breeze blowing from the lake, which tempered the otherwise hot air. The younger children had all gone down to the lake to play, Mr. Pierce had gone to the coast on business, and his wife and Helen were sitting on the little stoop in front of the shack, when their attention was drawn to a horse and rig which stopped at their gate. The rig’s only occupant was a very tall and rather stout woman, who nimbly jumped out of the vehicle, and tied the...

  11. CHAPTER VIII. A VISIT TO CANYON RANCH.
    (pp. 55-69)

    One fine afternoon in the latter end of July a rig, in which were seated all the Pierces, was moving rapidly along the lake shore road. It was a very pleasant drive. To the right lay the lake, which was in one of its peaceful, sunny moods, mirroring in its glassy bosom the blue sky dotted here and there with sleepy, fleecy clouds; to the left, followed in rapid succession flourishing ten-acre ranches, smaller five-acre ones, then smaller ones still; on all of which could be seen peach trees loaded with fruit crimsoning and yellowing in the warm rays of...

  12. CHAPTER IX. A CHARMING WIDOW.
    (pp. 70-76)

    Among the many visitors who honored Ortgeard by their presence that summer was Mrs. Yates, a very beautiful and attractive widow, whose years did not appear to be far beyond a score. At least a casual observer would not accuse her of being older than twenty-five when she was seen in all her company attire. Some people were mean enough to say that powder and paint had something to do in subtracting from her age, but those were women who were jealous of her charms. A childlike simplicity and manner added to her youthful appearance, which was still further increased...

  13. CHAPTER X. WHO GETS THE PROFITS?
    (pp. 77-85)

    The summer was passing away, and the fruit-ranchers were busy gathering the downy peaches, and packing and shipping them off to some distant market. The crop was a very good one, and, although every person looked tired, all were happy; for a good crop means, or should mean, prosperity for the whole community.

    Although the peach trees on the Pierce ranch were only young and had not been very well cared for, the family were kept quite busy, busier than many of their neighbors, as they were “green” at the work and were unable to tell by looking whether a...

  14. CHAPTER XI. THE RATTLER BITES.
    (pp. 86-89)

    “The idea of a gentleman of your attainments shutting yourself up for life in such a place as this! It would not be so bad if you were making money, but, according to your own account, you are losing instead of winning. I have influence across the line, and if you will come to Chicago, you can enter a business in which you will make more money in one year than you will the rest of your life here.” Such were the words that greeted the ears of Mr. Pierce as he and Mrs. Yates were enjoying the first boat...

  15. CHAPTER XII. THE POISON WORKS.
    (pp. 90-93)

    “You needn’t think so much of yourself, Harry Pierce. Your father had to mortgage his place to get enough money to go away with.”

    “What a liar you are, Dick Newman! Our place isn’t mortgaged one bit. You are talking through your hat. When you get mad you never know what you say.”

    “I know what I’m saying now, you bet! I ought to know when my father holds the mortgage. If you don’t believe me, ask him.”

    “I’ll do it, too, just as soon as I get home. Then you’ll catch it from your father for telling lies!”

    “Not...

  16. CHAPTER XIII. PHILIP HASTINGS TO THE RESCUE.
    (pp. 94-101)

    “In your last letter you wondered why you had not heard from Mrs. Pierce for such a long time. It isn’t good news I have to tell you, I fear. I suppose the reason she hasn’t written lately is that she doesn’t feel like it.

    “You know that I told you in a former letter that Mr. Pierce had gone to seek his fortune in the States. Seek his fortune, the scamp! The most of the people here say that it is to seek the company of the fair widow with whom he was so friendly last winter, and I’m...

  17. CHAPTER XIV. THE BLOW FALLS.
    (pp. 102-106)

    Mrs. Pierce had been right in fearing that her husband was ill, but wrong in supposing that this illness was the sole reason of his neglecting to write to her. As the handsome widow boarded in the same house, she took upon herself the duties of a nurse, and so agreeable a companion did she prove that the patient was in danger of becoming like some hospital inmates who are so comfortable that they sham illness to prevent their being sent adrift. Not that our hero was capable of descending to such a contemptible trick as this, but he reasoned...

  18. CHAPTER XV. TRUE FRIENDS.
    (pp. 107-114)

    Shortly after the receipt of the two letters from Chicago, Mrs. Pierce was formally informed that she was a divorced woman. She had now lost both property and husband; the house in which she lived, and which her money had built, and the labor which she and the children had put on the place, were to enrich a stranger; her good name, which she valued more than any material possession, was made a plaything for cruel gossips to tarnish with slanderous tongues. Nothing seemed left to her except her children and her faith in God. Sometimes in her darker moments...

  19. CHAPTER XVI. THE FIVE LEVELS.
    (pp. 115-118)

    “If ever a person in this world reaches the highest level of life, I believe you have reached it now,” said Miss Todd sorrowfully one July afternoon, as she was sitting by the lounge on which her friend was lying.

    “Do not flatter me. There is a good deal of the old Adam in me yet. But what do you mean by the highest level of life?” asked Mrs. Pierce.

    “I read an article the other day which interested me very much. The German professor, Fichte, spoke of five levels of life, and the writer of this article described them....

  20. CHAPTER XVII. THE PERSISTENT LOVER.
    (pp. 119-123)

    “Oh, dear! There is that horrid calf in again! It has broken a board off the fence, too. I don’t think Mr. Green ought to be allowed to have that thing on the road; it’s always getting into somebody’s place. May, come and help get this calf out of the garden.”

    After calling her little sister, who, eager for the chase, at once ran out of the house, Helen began to drive the four-footed robber out of the lot. “May, open the gate and don’t let the brute go past it, whatever you do.”

    The calf looked at first with...

  21. CHAPTER XVIII. LIGHT AT EVENTIDE.
    (pp. 124-135)

    And how was Guy Pierce getting on all this time? Not very well. As soon as his father, an honorable English gentleman, heard that he had, after getting a divorce on insufficient grounds, married again, he immediately wrote to Guy a very angry letter, saying that his son was to look for no further help from him, as the former was a disgrace to his family. At the time Pierce received this letter the scales had fallen from his eyes. Indeed, he had not been married a month before he began to compare his new wife with his former one,...