The Happy Clown


Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at The Happy Clown BY ALICE ELEANOR JONES This was a century of peace, plethora and perfection, and little Steven was a misfit, a nonconformist, who hated perfection. He had to learn the hard way.... [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Worlds of If Science Fiction, December 1955. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.] Steven Russell was born a misfit, a nonconformist, and for the first five years of his life he made himself and his parents extremely unhappy. The twenty-first century was perfect, and this inexplicable child did not like perfection. The first trouble arose over his food. His mother did not nurse him, since the doctors had proved that Baby-Lac, and the soft rainbow-colored plastic containers in which it was warmed and offered, were both a vast improvement on nature. Steven drank the Baby-Lac, but though it was hard to credit in so young a child, sometimes his face wore an expression of pure distaste. A little later he rejected the Baby Oatsies and Fruitsies and Meatsies, and his large half-focused eyes wept at the jolly pictures on the jarsies. He disliked his plastic dish made like a curled-up Jolly Kitten, and his spoon with the Happy Clown's head on the handle. He turned his face away determinedly and began to pine, reducing his mother to tears and his father to frightened anger. The doctor said cheerily, "There's nothing the matter with him. He'll eat when he gets hungry enough," and Steven did, to a degree, but not as if he enjoyed it. One day when he was nearly a year old, his mother carried his Kiddie Korner with the Dancing Dogsies on the pad into her bedroom, put him in it, and began to take things out of the bottom bureau drawer. They were old things, and Harriet Russell was ashamed of them. She had said more than once to her husband Richard, only half joking, "I couldn't give them away, and I'd be ashamed for anybody to see them in our trash!" They were old silver, knives and forks and spoons that looked like what they were, unadorned, and a child's plain silver dish and cup, and one small spoon with a useful curly handle. They had belonged to Harriet's great-grandmother. Once a year Harriet took the things out and polished them and furtively put them back. This year Steven cried, "Ma!" stretching out his hands toward the silver and uttering a string of determined sounds which were perfectly clear to his mother. She smiled at him lovingly but shook her head. "No, Stevie. Mumsie's precious baby doesn't want those nasty old things, no he doesn't! Play with your Happy Clown, sweetheart." Steven's face got red, and he squeezed his eyes shut, opened his mouth

Alice Eleanor Jones

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