Press enter after choosing selection

Ready To Be A Poor Man's Wife

Ready To Be A Poor Man's Wife image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

" My choice is made, sister Belle. Give uie your approval." Tliu eider sister looked at a couple of open letters lying on the writing desk bet're which the speaker sat, her cold, gray eye softening a iittle as she replied : " If you teil me whieh of the two you have chosen, I can aDswer you." "You oujjht to know without being told," Stella laughed. " Clareiice, oí' course. " Belle Lawêon looked serious. ¦'Stella," she t-aid, " I'ui sorry. Not that I bear Olarence Henshaw any ill will, but, child, you are not suited to be a poor man's wife. Kemeraber you are proud, and have been reared in eae and comfort. Follow my advice, and niarry Henry Lakeman." Stella shook her head. " No, Belle ; I wouldn't niarry Henry Lakeman, ifhewasa hundred times riolirr tlian lic is." She slippod a picture ipto its envelope, with a long glance at the view it iniaged. " It's a lovely place," she sighed, " and I would like to live there. " The sister was watching, and stooping, kissed the smooth, white brow, while slie said : "Don't be too hasty, Stella. If you covet tbis pretty home of Henry Lakeman's, accept it. ' " But I love Clarence Henshaw. l prefer a cottage with him to a mansion with Henry." Miss Lawson turned to the window with a sorry look. Sóme sweet dream of her own girlhood was in her memory, perhaps, but she held it worse than folly to indulge in regrets. Love, in her estiin ation, was no balance in the scalcs tor wealth. "Stella," she eontinued, very gravely, " I have acted the part of a mother for manyyears; my wish has ever been that you form a wealthy marriage. You love luxury, you enjoy display, and I am not eaying too much when I add that you worship beautiful apparel. Henry Lakeman can give you all of these. Clarence Hensliaw cannot. As his wife you will be subject to all manner of privations ; be content to live in a common way, stint, and economizo and manage the beft you can. How long will that suit a girl of your tastos ? Think well of it. I shall let you have your own choice in regard to marnage. " My miiidisniadeup," Stella responded readily. She took up the view, slippiog a letter into its envelope while she spoke. " If I favored his euit, I was to keep it, sister Belle," she continuad, touching the edge ot' the wrapper to her rosy lips, and sealing it with a heavy lap of the hand, " I do not, you will observe, l'll never be sorry, I know," !-he murraured, turning the fiivelope to look at its supersoription. " Your happiness is within your own grasp, Stella. You'll recall my words sonie day. And with a stately gait Belle Lawson left her. Stella ran lightly up the gtairs to her Own room and touched the bell in great ha.ste. " You will oblige me by mailing this at once," fhu said to the servant who antswered her cali, handing him this yery envelope, '"and," she said, smiling and blusiiing, " be careful of this," putting another letter into his hand. " Leave itwiili no one but the person to whom it is add. Miud!" she called, as he turned to obi'y. ''There'llbeno mistake, Mies," and th:it night a perfutued note lay on Clarence Henshaw's pillow, and he, foolish fellow, was transportad to the upper heaven of deliglu over its contents. Threo months later thcy were married, They were a happy and hopeful couple. The life upon which they had entered was like a new and unexplored country, but Clarence meant to work hard, and feit little or no doubt in regard to their future. lic was equal to any u miei taking in his own detertninatiOD that would promote his wife's h:iiness, andas to Stella, she would do anything to help her husband. He had been a head book keeper for many years, and had the promise of something u little bet ter yet the coming season. So the firt few months of their marriea life ran smoothly. They rented a house in a pira ant part of the city, kept a servant, and Stella wore the pretty clothes which had been provided at the time of her marriage, and wondered why sister Belle had suoh funny notions about marrying a poor DMD. But toward the close of the first year of their wedded life his firm was said to be ander heavy liabilities, and the anniversary of their marriage found the house bankrupt and 1,'laience out of asiluation. He applied at this and that place, but month after month slipped by and he found nu opening. They inoved out of the houM and took cheaper rooms in another part of the city. By this time their funds bogan to run'low, and Stella wanted something new for her wrdrobe. Already she had begun to show signsof discootent. " I shall find something by and by," the husband said bravely. It was at this trying time that a little speek of humanity was put into Stella's arms, and its feeble cry told that the responsibility of motherhood was here. '" I'm the happiestman alive," Clarcnce exclaimed, caressing wife and child. " The very happiest," he repeated again, kissing the baby boy. "Let prille goto the dogs, Stella," he adiled, reraeiulxirinL1 that now his responsibiüty was giater than before. " They want workruen on the new city hall. 111 take my hamnier - it will give us bread." She ought to have been contented, ought to have thought with pride of the man who would thus brave' the world's opinión. He went out in early morning, and came home late at night, as other workmen did, his handsoine face glowing with love. But the very thought that her husband was broughtdowo to the level of a common laborer hurf her. Sister Belle had said that hor tastes were luxurious, aod she wanted a pretty home now, and fine apparel for herself and babvi Thr people of the world in which she h;ul lived had never to coiint on their nionny to know if they could buy a new dress. She had never been taught to mako tiie let of whatover circumstaocas you may be placed in, and why should shc DOW? The little privatiuns she endured worried and vcxei her, and in a little while the einpeied woman grew ninody and doWti hi'RTtod. She hecame earelcss in her drafSi and iustead of the choertül little wife he u-ed to sre, he found a gloomy woman and disjrderly house, Kit he neyer complainod. "Stella i honicsick," he wnuld say ; " and the caro of' the baby is too much hor. I must mak e snine money," and his hatnmer rang with redoubled energy. Yet every day her discontont grew more apparent. The place and the pt'ople were 80 repulsive to her refineJ and sensitivo nature. "How ean you expct me to live among snch surroundings, Clarence ?" was her appeal when her husband begged her to be of l'i' ui chrer. " lts uruel n von, " slie sobbed. " I want to be back again in my owo home Minimi: my owt) t'l'lendH. " The warm glnw came to his face, and he drew hor tenderly towards hiin withoilt a word, bm tht-Ti was a 1 iok piteousto see in bis handaome eyes, while hisresolve was to work still harder. To conquur fortune, however, requires siurJy stroke?. Tliere caiue a day, later a little - " for sfmu? days are dark and dreary " - when it dld scem that matters had come to a crisis. Tho city hall was finished long ago, the Odd Fellowg' building completed, and the li-t srroke had been given to the new chureh. Clarence must look for some ihmir new. Junnie, who had minded Freddy for two orthree months, had to go, and all the household cares feil upon Stella's hands. Thoy had moved from place to place since Freddy 's birth, hoping to find a house with whieh Stella would be content. " But these people are all alike," she said, "and I may as well be in one place as auoilier, " w;is her reply to Clarenee, when he suggosted that tboy move into a new block. It was unwomanly in her to say this, she knew, the moment the words escapee! her lips, and she thciught to run after her husband and beg his forgiveness, but just then Freddy caught at her dress, causing her to spill the water she was pouring into the tea-kettle, which only increased her vexation. " You cross, little trouble.some thing!" sho exclainied, iuipatiently. "Take that I" laying her hand heavily on the little bare shoulders - " I'm sick to death with having you always to my skirts. " With this she let fall the earthen pitcher she held in her hand, and, dropping into the nearest chair, burst into hysterical weeping. Freddy, with the prints of her fingers still on his ueck, toddled to her side, umi tried to climb into her lap. But she pushed him away crossly with : "Go play with your blocks and horsrs. I dou't want you near me ;" and her hand was raised to lay on the rosy cheek. "Doo't do anythina; you'll be sorry for by-andby, Stella," Clarence said, coming into the room just then. Soiuething in his face stayed her hand just on the moment, and she rose to her feet, flushing with shame and anger. "I thought you'd gone down town," she replied, sharply. "Oh, dear! ifl'd minded sister Bulle I shouldn't have been here. She was right. i had no business to mar ry a poor man." " You're not quite yourself this morning, Stella," and his eyes wore full of' unshed teara as he eaught sight of the red marks on their baby's neck. "Do you suppose I can endure everything?" she cried, spitefully. "You are nervous and tired, dear. Come here," and he put out his hand to clasp her. She glided from him and went into the adjoining room. Something wet feil on the baby s head, and he pressed him clo-iely to his bosom as li i mght the sound of her sobbing. "Ihave heard of something new this moming, Stella, and I'm going to New York by the next train." He tried to s:iy it cheerfully. "Vou're always hearing of something new," was her quick reply ; "but what does it aiuount to ?" "So I ara hoping for something bettcr, and think l have tbund it now. " He rocked Freddy to sleep, put him into his crib, then went to the door of his wifft'a room. ' "Are you going to kiss me good-by, Stella 't" he asked, opening the door very softly ; "1 may be gone a day or two.'' "No," she replied, coldly, "you'll be back soon euough." " I will come as soon as Ian ; but I ihíkIii never return, you know." "Se if you are not back as soonas you can come, with the same oíd story." Clarence turned quickly, but she saw the look on his face, and never forgot it. She heard him cross the room, and knew he bent over Freddy's crib and kissed the little sleeper again and again. "He'II MM lack to me before he really goes," she whispered to herself, starting up and going toward the door; but a turn in the ttreet hid him from sight when she reached the window. He had gone, and for the first time without bidding her good-by. "Well, we've been married long enough to be done with such notiseuse," she said at last, by way of oonsolation ; yet there was a terrible throb at her heart, and sho secretly wished she could throw herself into her husbantl'; arms aud tull him how sorry che was tor it all. She sat quite still until ïreddy awokc, then with a cry of terror she ran acros- th hall to the noarest neighbor, with, 'Tlease come Mrf., my baby's dying." Mis. Wilson catne, for though rough of manncr, she wa.s kind of heart. "Uu's in a fit," she said, the moment her eyes repted on the liitle sufferer. "Bring me some water, quick," she called, " and help to got off his clothes." Stella obeyed. "Hold him so," was her command, putting him into the bath. I will run home and gct some medicine. Such women as you ain't fit for mothers," she continued, returniDgwith hor hands full of bottles. "Ob, Freddy," oried Stella, droivping on her knees, "if you'll only get well, I will try 80 hard to bear everything." "And what trials havo you to bear?" asked Mrs. Wilson. "You have a pretty home," looking about the room, "if it was put in order." "It Un't like the house I'm used to." " Young people don't expect to begin where the old ones left off. They must mak e their own homes." "I never understood it so; water Betifi is the only mother I ever knew, and her advice was never to marry a poor man." "And so you kept finding fault and complaining when your hnffband is trying io every way to make an honest living. It is a wondur you haveu't dr. ven hiiu to drink long ago. " ''But my hubaiul is a good man," replied Stella, warmiy resenting the last part of' the speech. "He has shown hiinsolf to be a good man." The wonian said it in good faith, wrapping Freddy in soft flannels, and administering a quieting portion. She liad boen watching the moveinents of thia ooQple' ever since they came to live in the house. "My baby will get well, won't lio ?" wis said pleadingly, and the ponr thing sobbed again as if her heart would break. "Yes, indeed " "And you will stay with me tlirouch the night?" forgetting she was one of 'those people.' "l'd stay with you a who!e blossed week," replied the trpe-hearted Mrs Wilsou, "if I could make you a wile worthy of your husband." "Teil me what I shall do and 111 do it faithfully and willingly, and wilhout coinplaining." All througb the long night hours, while Freddy lay between life and death, Mrs. Wilson worked over hioi bravely, and told the girl niother chapters in her oitn life experienees. There were passages over whieh Stella wept bitterly, and when morning dawned, givini; back the child f'rom danger, in place ot' the tíckte, unreasonahle woman, tliere was one ready to meet life's work with a fu in pnrpoM andslrong heart. She tidied up each apartiuent, and instead of going about in a dowdy wrapper, put on a fresh dress, arranged her hair becomingly, and changed the pucker about her mouth for her own rnsy lip. "You're a pretty little thing," Mrs. Wilson told her when shc hal fastened a knot of blue ribbon in her blonde hair. "See after baby now. 1 11 look in eyery now and then through the day, and to-night will come back to you. Your hasband will be here to morrow mornitiL'?" "Yes," replifld Stella, with abrinht look in her eyes. "He'll be here by ten o'clock." After all it was a long time to wait, she thought. She was so impatient to teil him - and she would kiss hiui hiui as niany limes as he wished. "Yes, indeed," she exclaimed joyfully, bending over Freddy' s crib, "we' 11 kiss papa a hundred thousand times, won't we, dear?" "Ido wish Clarence would come," she kept sayine next morning. " What detains hini ? she continued, when the clock was on the stroke of' twelve. "What if" - and her heart lay like lead in her bosom as ehe recalled the look she last saw on his face. "What if he never come9 back!" she murmured, goiDg into her own room. "Mrs. Wilson," she called, "where is my husband?" In an instant the dear good soul was beside her, resting a hand tenderly on the aching head. True hearted woman ! She shrank from paying it had been a dreadful night on the sound, and that a steamer had eollided with the New York boat. "Her husband travels by boat," had been her conclusión. Stella caught at her arm, the sound of her voice answering Freddy, and with the cry she feil. Poor, tired, inexperienced wife and mother! Was the ordeal so ordered? With the help of a neighbor Mrs. Wilson laid her on the bed. "Run for the doctor," said sbe ia MB Williame. "But you don't know - " "1 do." she interrupted. "Mrs Henshaw will have a run of nervous fevcr, and whether her huaud is dead or alive I can't say. " . . When Stella openod her eyes again it was nearly night. Slu knew no onc about the bed, buttalked to Clarence and Freddy and sister Belle. Shfi was gning to help her husband now. She could earn money by teaching music, or painting, " or might have a few pupils in dancing," she added. "But forgive me for striking-" and her arms were put up as if to clasp something, when she dozed again. Late that evening Clarence carne in mght of home. Contrary to Mrs. Wilson's con jecture, he carne by a different route. He had thought to telegraph, "Bui Stella won't worry," he said "if I am late.' The light faded froni his eyes and bi face turned ghastly white when he lookcd into the rooms. "Bothgone?" he groaned, walking fron the bed to the couch. "No, no," Mrs. Wilson ?aid, comfort ingly. Baby's botter, and yuur wilt: wil come out of this. All he neids i geoi nursing, and that she shall have," turninc aside her head aud drying lier eyes witl the corner of her apron. What could we do if MUD M shc wcr( not stationed all along the walks of life? It was painful to listen to the wild talk "If I might endure it," Clarence -aiii si many times. When at last Stella awokc from the terrible dream her husband va bending over her. "Clarence," she said, very softly at tirst "Clarence," she repeated, putting he arms around his neck, "if you'll forgivi me for striking Freddy I'll kiss you, O, so many times." Foolish lellow ! he cried like a baby "Listen, Stella," he said, as soon as lu could command his voice. "Listen I I die get the situation, and you can have every thing you want," tuuching his lips to chccl and forehead, "and you aro going to have such a pretty house in Brooklynl" "All I want is youtlove," okipiog hin close, "and that Freddy getwelL I" ready to be a poor man's wife !" - Sehcteu


Old News
Ann Arbor Courier