Puslapio vaizdai
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

But hark, oh, hark! the echoes all

Wake to the joyous clamor of the horn And bayings loud of many a panting hound!

Above all this, her beating heart she hears When now the prince upon his steed appears!


It was no deer his arrow stru But straight it flew upon its d And lodged it was within poo breast!


"Oh, never on thy beauty will he look!

A drudge thou art, and he shall wed a queen." Perchance the thicket with her sobbing. shook:

The prince's eye-alack! 't was passing keenHe saw the shaken bough, the cause mis


She sinks, half-swooning, in th

warm stream

That from the seat of life w


She sees her kneeling prince ( dream)

And all the pale, pale passi face.

"Ask what thou wilt, thy wish


And would that I might pe place!"

"A kiss, my prince, my falcon


And past their meeting lips a

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

THEN Melinda Westaway took and comfort and outside show went; while

Bassett, everybody said 't was Melinda, with her views, liked to see a doubtful feat on her part, and the hope- everything smart and slap up and a ful believed it would turn out right and thought ahead of the neighbors. He'd the experienced did n't see how it well fallen in with that when courting, of could. She was a proud girl, you must course, and gone to her in his best, and know, with a rather mistaken idea of what bought a new coat or two and looked to it was to be a Westaway; and Noah had the blacking on his boots and the starch in a different nature, and held that a man's his collar; but when he 'd got her, he very haveage was nought, but the man every- soon fell back to his easy and untidy ways, thing. He judged of everybody by them- and he did n't care no more about the selves and said that we must form our house-place than himself, and did n't mind judgment on the value of each man or litter and confusion and dirt, which was woman by studying their characters, not all gall and wormwood to her. Your red their grandfathers and grandmothers. All women generally be tidy, particular creathe same, he took Melinda for her outside tures; but you 'll find oft enough that if looks, because love has a trick to play the cleanliness be next to godliness o one side, fool with a man's opinions and make him 't is close kin with a devil of a temper on eat his words and go back on 'em in his t'other. And Melinda were n't no exdeeds. Noah just fell in love with her ception there, I believe, and certain 't is skin and shape and blue, brave eyes and she was a fiery thing, with a very uncommane of chestnut hair and pretty voice, mon sense of what she owed to herself like a good few had afore him; and since and what other people owed to her. She he was well-to-do, a master carpenter with was exacting, and she had a will of iron three men in his shop, and well set up, and where her dignity was at stake; and against well thought of by the bettermost people this passion Noah put up a dogged and a round about, she took him.

sulky obstinacy; so it ended, as it do in But there was a pretty deep-seated dif- such cases where two linked creatures pull ference in their point of view, and when different ways, in neither getting what there's that, a pair must be more than they wanted, and both finding the chain common wise to keep off trouble. Noah gall 'em into living sores. prided himself on his sense, and reckoned And, when that happens, whether the himself a bit of a philosopher where clothes sufferers yowl about it, or whether they



don't, the thing have got to be known. To do 'em justice, I will say both the man and the woman hid what they could; for he had his pride as well as her, and while she held her head high and pretended to be a cheerful and contented creature and did n't even grumble to her own mother, he merely went his own way and only let out, by side opinions on marriage and women over his glass of a night, what was in his mind.

But running water rubs away a stone, and self-control will fail and self-respect go under with the strongest and the best. The Bassetts went from bad to worse, and presently they were not at such pains to hide the trouble as of old. Folk passing the door often heard hard words; and it was along of that I came into their story.

Arthur Westaway, Melinda's ancient uncle it was, who first told me that things was so bad, and he only l'arned the fact by an accident. 'T was a summer night, and Arthur he'd gone to see 'em and smoke a pipe with Noah. But as he stood on the door-step, with the knocker lifted, their voices came to him from the parlor window, which was open, and he heard her


"You low-minded, mean-spirited trash! 'If I'd got a character like yours, I'd go and hang myself. A pig 's cleaner and a worm 's prouder than you."

And Noah Bassett answered:

"Oh, you drive me mad with your pride and foolishness! You puff yourself up, like the frog in the fable, and I wish to heaven you 'd bust, like him!"

With that old Arthur Westaway dropped the knocker very quiet, and stole off on the tips of his toes. He was a sensible man, and not valiant, and he judged 't was n't just the evening to visit the Bassetts.

"I never was a pusher," he said when he came in my bar. "I never was a pusher, Johnny Rowland, and you 'll agree that after I'd had the misfortune to hear them bitter speeches 't was truest wisdom for me to be gone."

And knowing his unwarlike nature, I did agree with the man; but nevertheless his sorry news set me thinking. I was younger in them days than what I be now, and braver, no doubt. Youth will rush in where middle age casts a side look and goes by; and, be it as 't will, fired by a

harmless wish to do the poor cre good turn, I resolved to try and r listen to sense. Looking back, I a terrible rash act it was, and I' go in a den of lions to-day as seek a quarrel between two such fier as Melinda and her Noah; but I a dashing blade of forty-five or these things happened, and at th man, specially an unbroken bach as me, will take on anything that his hand with the pluck of a re soldiers and the judgment of a meant well by 'em-never man r ter. I said to myself, " "T is th view must be righted if them t be saved alive." And then one just walked to their door. Of knew 'em and their families q And Noah would often-too of in my bar of an evening and bid closing. And it fell out now th gone to my public house by a road from mine, while I came I found Melinda alone in her p felt well pleased at that and set

I began crafty and pretended to see Noah touching a job or for carpenter's work; and then the matter in hand. She was at and she sat chill as ice under t a paraffin lamp by the table; a my pipe was by the open wind I could sit and spit comfortab flower garden.

"Darning his socks, I see." She nodded, but said nothing "My old mother," 1 went good, old mother used to say was doing my clothes, 'Ah, Joh I could put a button or two o so easy as I can put 'em on you And I dare say, like all wives something like that."

"I dare say I do," she said. laughed at a private thought, a spoke.

"A bit ago my husband w the leg of Mrs. Maydew's tab said to me that he wished th mend my manners as easy_as manners, if you please! Fur that mannerless oaf talk of n A board-school child have got ners than him."


Whatever had you done to say such a thing?" I asked, su

[ocr errors]

She shrugged her shoulders.

worry you to death; but he's awful' proud “Axed him to wash the blood off his of


and many a fine night have he sung face afore he come to dinner. A splinter your praises in a full bar. He 's a shy had struck him on the cheek, and he'd man, like some of the best, and he won't bled a pint. And he'd forgot it, and there

say to you what he 'll


But 't was, a gashly mess all over his face, to he 's loyal, Melinda; he 's loyal and proud spoil my meal. And all he said was, ‘if


you to the backbone, as well he ought I was half a wife, I 'd have been troubled to be. And where money 's the matter, for his hurt instead of my appetite.' you 'd be gratified to learn his view. They

“Not a very tidy man by nature.” was congratulating him a bit ago, because

She went on with her own thoughts, 't is well known what a snug man he growand presently let out another grievance. eth; and he said, “'T is along of my wife,

“He said a bit ago that if he'd been the for a cleverer head on young shoulders you first of the name,– Noah, I mean,-he 'd won't find. She strikes the right note of have took good care to leave one beast out thrift,' said Noah, and you'll look a of the ark afore he set forth. And I asked mighty long way afore you 'll find a man's him which it was, and he said, “My wife.' wife so .watchful for her husband's pocket That 's how we go on."

as mine.'" “Only his fun," I told her.

“He don't say things like that to me,” “Yes,” she answe

vered, “his fun. 'T is a she answered, making her eyes small, and poor lookout for a woman when her hus- threading her needle against the light. band's notion of fun be like that."

"Along of that shy feeling that comes So there we were; and I took my cour- over him. He gets nervous, and then he age in my hands, as they say, and had a gets clumsy with his own words. But he dash at her.

only wants to keep up his end of the stick, “Melinda," I said, "you must listen to and means far less than you mean, when me, because I 'm an old friend of your all 's said. So, as you are strong, you must family and terrible wishful to do you and be tender, my dear. And that brings me Noah a good turn. I know what a rea- back to the point of view.” sonable woman you are, and I know the I preached on that text, and showed her brain you 've got, and if I did n't, I should as the tenderest point in the world be the n't have took this upon myself, because point of view. many ordinary women would n't listen at “If you sit down on a tin tack," I said, all. But you 're big-minded, and far too "you know what haps; but there 's sharper wise to lose a chance of running your show points than that, and the sharpest of all is better, if a chance offers. 'T is like this, the point of view. And if we could only Melinda: you and him can't quite get at train our minds and instincts to look for each other's point of view, and 't is worth every man's point of view, and try to feel any trouble to do that.”

it afore we fell foul of him, the world “His point of view 's number one,” she would be a different place. And once you answered, satirical-like.

find yourself looking out at the world “Wait a bit. As for that, so be every- through Noah's eyes, mark me, there'll body's,” I told her. "And in this world come balm of Gilead into your life, and you 've got to have a pinch of selfishness, you 'll rise above yourself and above him, else you

'll go down, same as a bird with as if a angel had lent you wings." a broken wing, and be no more use to

She listened far more patient than I'd yourself or anybody else.

In this case,

got the right to hope. She even nodded. you be both strong creatures with strong now and again. Then I patted Noah on wills and strong opinions. You would n't the back. have took a weak, shambling sort of man,

“He 's a man in ten thousand -a mas— too proud for that,—and Noah, though terpiece of a carpenter and bound for a he ban't so particular about appearances as higher place than this village come a few you would have him be, is very particular years. And genius, they say, stands alone. indeed about one appearance, and that 's He can't do and think and dress and beyours. You can't deny it."

have like a common man. 'T is in his "For his credit and renown," she said. blood to be like the burning, fiery phenix,” A very good reason, too.

I said_"a rare invention and a creature

He may

[ocr errors]

apart. And great men be always cruel' aggravating to their women. 'T is a law of nature; to be regretted, but so it stands."

Then she said a clever thing.

"I see your point of view, anyway, Mr. Rowland," she said. "There's a lot in the idea, no doubt; but it 's kept you single, however."

I praised her for such swiftness of mind, and was just going on to show exactly how, in my opinion, she did ought to start on Noah at the first opportunity, when the man hisself came along the garden path. With that Melinda got up and took her work and prepared to go.


'T is all right," she said. "You give him a treat now, if you please. I'll come back in half an hour or so; and you can tell him about the point of view and try and hammer some sense into his thick head, if he 'll stand it. But he ban't so patient as me, remember, for all his wonderful character."

ter-strokes on him and shook h ward.

'T was a good text for me to fasten upon, and I did so. I blamed him pretty sharp for such a slovenly, dirty act, and he seemed a good bit astonished.

"Hang it, innkeeper!" he said, "may n't a man come in his own house through the open winder, if he wants to? Why, good powers!" he said, "if I've a mind to go down my chimney, or get in through the tiles, 't is my business surely, not yours."

"Don't you talk that rot, B answered in my sternest manne know me, and you know I ban't my own pleasure, and I 'm not i to stand silliness, especially from wise as you can be. 'T is a poc ment to me," I said, "for you me in that tone of voice; for I' good friend to your family an likewise; and who would have ha of all that woodwork at the re week but for me?"

"All right, all right," he "Don't get niffed, Johnny. 'T fun. And whether or no, I st that an Englishman's house is and he 've got a perfect right through his parlor winder any h day or night that pleases him."

"And an Englishwoman's ho castle, likewise," I declared, " 't is your wife's joy and pride to house in a way no other house lage be kept, you 're wrong alt take your careless, dirty line of make nought of all her genteel torture her sense of the comel

She went out, rather cold and thoughtful-like, and Noah came up to the window where I was sitting. He waited for her to shut the door, then, though well knowing it would have troubled her cruel to see him climb into the room through the win-clean and the fitting. 'T is just dow, he went and done it. And in the act he knocked over one of they big, redflowered cactus-plants. The pot scat abroad, and the plant was broke' in two, and the soil went all over the carpet.

"Good powers!" he said. "My wife will twitter about that. 'T was give' her by her late grandmother, and she thinks the world of the prickly thing. No matter; let her pick it up again: she 's got a pair of hands, I believe."

ing through the winder that
note of your conduct, and thou
't is no business of mine, Noah,
that for the sake of two cleve
think the world of-I 'll chanc
may speak against me-and assu
you be wrong and brutal and
this matter; and 't is casting pe
swine for your wonderful cre
wife to make your home like a
if you will come into it throug
der. Look what your hoof ha
the white paint, and look at al
and dirt on the carpet. 'T is
itself, but everything when yo
Melinda. She's a genius, I te
genius will have its special fe
high ideas above the herd of u
folk. And her genius takes su
of soap and water as never w
afore. Why, every dirty thun
the wall is a nail in the coffin of

I let him work up into a bit of heat, because a man in that state can be tackled roughly, and I did n't mind taking a hard blow or two at the beginning of the battle, so long as I got in a few heavy coun

That was pretty clever for paused to get my breath. B


"If thumb-marks be nails i of her pride, I'd plant 'em fr

« AnkstesnisTęsti »