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The Fretting Wife

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" Wliy don't you ever clean your boots on the soraper, William ?'' said Jane Lovott to her husband. " I liad just made everything niet' and conifortable when you came in; and uow sec the dirt wherever you've been, from one side of the room to the other ; and it must just be the same in the entries and on eyery stair. I'm completely tired out with brushiug and dusting " "Pret! fret! just so every timo I come into the house!" was William 's soothing response. " I should think your tongue would got tired." " I do get tired of speaking to you about things whieh make me so niuch trouble ; and yet you do not soein to mind them at all." " No; and so mnch spcaking only makes me mind the less." " ïhat's just as amiable as you are. You never care how much I have to go through, nor how mueh I suffer. Such a continua! eft'ort for me to get along! My life seems a continua! struggle, just for the sake of life," and hero Jane began to cry. " What a fuss about a little dust on the oarpet," snapped the husband. " No, it's not merely that," retorted the wife, in crying tone, "but you never seem to care how hard and try'ing things may be for me. You care nothing for my pleasure or ease. You know very well I wouldn't mind the carpet once, but it's just so all the time and about everything. The man who shook the cárpete last week said he never should have thought that they had been taken ui) every year if ho hadn't been told so, for he hadn't shaken such dirty ones for four years. Now, why should our house be so much dirtier than other people's ? You know it's not my fault, for I'm as particular as anybody." "You've got a new saddle for your hobby, and there'll be no end to your riding it, just because that old fe'llow wanted to make a fooi of you, and get the job of shaking your carpets twice a year." "But, 'William," said Jane, putting down the handkerchief from lier eyes, "why don't you be more careful? When I try so hard to get along and keep things nice you needn't make so much work. Dear me, to have to live with such a person! It would have been better for us both if we never had met." Hereupon the husband, William, departed, leaving Jane to cry it out alone. She sobbed awhile quite heartily, and made herself believe she was the most unapisreciated, unfortunate and miserable of beings ; then, like a good housewife, she began to think. "What good does all this do? I am making myself sick for nothing - my eyes will feel so badly that I can't sew." So she wisely rose and bathed them, brushed up her carpet and sat down to her needlework. But she_ was not in a good mood, nót repentant, nor forgiving, nor cheerful, not even pacifle. She was in little better feeling when she met her husband at dinner, but was quite in the humor to make demands and let her grievances bc manifest. The carving was hardly over when she began: "William", did you see about having the stove cleaned and lined this morning? Bridget says she cannot cook with it any longer as it is, and it makes her so cross I can hardly manage her." "No ; I hadn't time," was the laconic answer. "Hadn't time! I guoss you could have found time if you'd tried - I've no idea you ever thought of it. If you cared anything for other people, you'd think of them and find time to see to things. You find time for your own matters." "You seem to know so much, wliy do you ask me? Perhaps you'd better see to your aftairs yourself." "What hadn't I botter do? Ido almost everything now, yet you never seem satisfied. I supjiose I can go to the stove store, since you don't seem to be able to do anytliing - I don't know but I shall have to go to the tailor's yet, to order your clothes for you. Weïl, I want to know if you saw Walker about drawers, as I hwe so often asked you to? I am in sucn need of them I j don't know what to do. Everything is in confusión in the closets." "No ; I didn't see Walker." "Wel!, when will you?" "I don't know." "Will you ever?" "ThatI don't know. Anything ! ther ?" "Yes. Did you get a latch for Bridget's door?" "No." "I asked you to be sure and remember it when you went out from I fast. That door is slain, slam the whole time. I never saw anybody like you. I cannot get anything done, and it's just so always." Mr. Lovett ate away nnmovod, and i bis wife, not thinking of any other subject of complaint at that moment, finished her dinner in silence. Just as Mr. Lovett was leaving the dining-room,' she called out, "William, Alboni sings to-night ; can't you takc me to hear her?" "I have an engagement this evening," he answered, with hi.s hand upon the door. "It's the last night she sings, and I haven't heard her," said Jane. "I can't help it," said William. "You don't try tohelp it. Mr. Linton took his wife twice to hear her, and they're going again to-night. Mrs. Linton thinks she sings as wel! as Jenny Lind." "I suppose she lias a riglit to her opinión." "Well, why can't you take me?" persisted Jane. "Takc yon to a concert, af ter all you've said f" " Anything for an excuse ! You kno-n I've said nothing bxit the truth, and you never take me anywhere, and nevei did!" "No, never !" said Lovett, in a tone oJ irony, as he closed the door. Juno was not disappointcd, for she had no expectation of going to the concert. She only asked her husband to take her in order to try him, and to show him what other husbands did, and what he didn't do. She had now so far relieved herseli that she was in a mood for wholesome thought and reflection, and she sooai began to have some misgivings as to the right of the course she had been piirsuing, and also as to its wisdom, lïight and wisdom are, in fact, the same thing. Jane Lovett was at heart a woman of good motives and kind feelings, thougli, as we have seen, she had "n irritable, uncomfortable temper. Her temperament was nervous as that of too many women in these days - our grandmothers would have called them cross, ugly, or, most likely, scolds and vixcns ; but, in the light of our philanthropy, we know better - dear hearts! they are nervous! Jane Lovett was nervous - she had too much regard for trifles, a too-lively conception of evils, and little facility in adapting herself to circumstances. She was afeo afl'ectionate and imaginativo, and in her girlhood had formed a high ideal for her lover. Her opiiortunities of aequaintance with her husband before marriage were limited, and so she loved, and hoped, and trusted ho was all she would desire in a hfe-long companion and lord. Yes, lord, for she had mi idea that she would like to look up to somebody, lean upon him, ding to him, reverence him, and all that sort of thing. How was she disappointcd ! What a change a few weeks of married life does sometimes make in a woman's future ! ■ - William Lovett was a man of very good natural feelings and endowments, and could make himself very agreeable when he tried, else he never would have won his wife - but he had few of the qualifieatioiis that make domestie Míe a paradise for woman. Ho had been reared alone, without any homo discipline and edneation, and was often thoughtless and ineonsiderato of others, and sometimes selflsh. He lacked all the useful and convenient, though unappreeiated halits of order, tidinessand promptness ; and, what was worse for a man, lie even lacked industry and enorgy. He could rouse himself for an emergency, Irat it was only for that, and then he sank back into his former indifferent, careless ease. Such a character was least of all in accordance with that of Jane, who was possessed of great energy, and had been trained to carefulness and industry. At first she was greatly distressed in her disappointment, and recently lamented her fate in bitterness of spirit, but keen feelings do not last long. She gradually grew accustomed to her lot,' and endeavored to perform its duties faithfully, though she was not happy, and was very often annoyed by the delinquencies and deficiencies of her husband. They irritated her temper, j and she would complain and fret. This course had no effect to improve things. It seldom has. Matters gTew worse year by year. The lmsband's affection waned by degrees, and he became more and more inattentive and selflsh, while the cares and anxieties of the wife kept increasing, and with them increased her complaining and fretting. An unenvinble state of things, most surely. I wonder if it's rare ? After the dinner colloquy we have given, Jane returned to her room, thoughtful and repentant. She diseoursed with herself somewhat in this wise: "I am sorry I was so cross at dinner. William might have been pleasant if I had given him a chance. What a miserable life we are leading! I am so unhappy, and things are growing worse and worse - what may they come to? To be sure, William is not what I once thought he was, but that cannot be helped now - he is my husband ; we are vowed unto each other till death, and why not make the best, instead of the worst, of my lot? And it is not so bad as it might be, after all. William might be dissipated or dishonest, which he is not now. But who knows what he may become, if I any longer ronder his home unhappy. Oh, I am wrong ! I know I am! Let me try to do better! God help me! Finding fault with William does not improve him ; I havo tried it long enough ; I will try what gentleness, moekness and endurancc may do. I shall muke him happier in that way, and it is easier to be virtuoiis when we are happy than when we are wretched. It will require a strong effort and unremitidag watchfulness to overeóme my l'aults of temper, but is not the happiness and well-being of lifc a sufficient motive? I will make the effort. I cannot change character and circumstances, but I will snit myself to them." Jane tlius carne to a wisc rosohition, which she OUght to have made early in her married life; but it in this cuse according to the old maxim, " better late than never." And, what was wiwer thau the resolution, she began to act upon it. Plenty of good resolutions are made - a few remembered - fewer kept. When her lmsband came home to tea, Jane was dressod neatly, and, though there was a cloud on his brow, she looked and spoke pleasantly. It was an effort for her to appear in the samo way in the morning, for ho was still moody and silent, and disobliging, but sho remembered her resolution, and did not break it. In the middle of the forenoou he entered her room on some errand, as on the day previous, with boots unsoraped ; she seemed to take no notice of them. " I think I must have made a light breakfast," he said, earelessly. Jane soon disappeared, and roturning, offered him a píate of tompting sandwiches. He lookod up at her in surprise. " What does this mean, Jane?" " I thought you were hungry, and I wanfed to please you," was her ingenxious reply. He took the sandwiches with one hand, and, drawing her toward him with the other, kissed lier tonderly. "Why Jane, we're growing young again." "1 wish we might grow good and loving," was her answer, as she returned the kiss. When he was gone, Jane brushed up her carpet quickly and eheerfully ; and it clicl not seem half so dirty as the day before, though the mud was muoh deeper in the streets. The boot-scraper was not forgotten again that day, and, before night, a man appeared to put the stove in order, and Walker called to say he was sorry he had disappointed Mrs. L. about the drawers; lic would have tnem done verysoon. Jane kopt herself good-natnred and cheerful the next day, and several other days, althongh William often f orgot that his boots were muddy when he carne home, and several times turned all the drawers inside out to find what he had left at his offlce ; woke up the baby with his loud sneezes ; forgot half her commissions, important as they were to her, and even delayeil to order coal till one day there was none with which to oook the dinner. She schooled herself to patience. Sometióles, when a murnmring word was coming, she bit her li])s and kcpt it back. Sometimes she left the room to gather strength and self-control, but oftenest spoko of something beside the subject of vexation as quickly as possiblo. At the end of a week, Alboni's "lust concert" was agaifi announced. "Now, Jane, wc'll hoar Alboni touiglit," said William at breakfast. "She's going to sing again - perhaps on your account. You'll go, I suppose?" "Yes, thank you, but I don't care much about hearing hev. I'd almost as lief stay at homo with yon." "Wliy, don't you tliink she sings as wel] as Jenny Lindï" "No, I don't - do you?" "Hardly; Ijut you say Mrs. Linton does. We'll hear her, though, and see." When they were re,turning from the concert that .night, Mr. Lovett said to hia witc : wen, Jmie, what did you think of Alboni?" "O, I was charmed." "Well, did you think she sang as well as the nightingale ?" "Indeed, I enjoyed her singing more - she somehow made me i'eel so happy - so full of delight. Wereñt you delighted?" "Yes, I must own I was; but I cannot givo Alboni credit for all. You've been such a dear good girl lately, Jane" - and he bent his face very near to hers, I l;now, tliough one couldn't see di.stinctly for the darkuess. "I really think we're growing young again."


Old News
Michigan Argus