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Under False Colors

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Having lighted the lamps and drawn ,he curtains still more closely as if to hut out the influence of the blusterng, snowy evening, Hannah (the ïousekeer) quietly withdrew trom the uxurious sitting room leaving Judge Hartley and his son Harry at liberty to njoy the time according to their own nclinations, which, judging from past observations, would be a very quiet, unsocial manner, indicating that over he sunshine of that home a gloomy and pall-like shadow had been cast. The eldest Mr. Hartley was a gentlenan a little past middle .age, with a pleasant, benevolent-looking countenance expressive of the comfort and ease with which he had f or many years been surrounded, while his dark brown hair, slightly intermingled with gray, gave him an .air of dignity and self-respect. Almost buried in the soft cushions of his great easy chair, apparently ahsorbed in thought, he occasionaüy rested his eye upon Ilarry as if about to address him, and then, in an undecided way would turn his attentiou in another direction, showing a sort of meditative mood ; flnally, summoning up his courage with a sort of desperaüon, he said: "Harry, in all the lonely months have you never thought how much pleasanter our homti would be with a woman in the house - one who would meet us with a glad smile of welcome, af ter the daily care and perplexities of business - one whose cheerful preseace would brighten our home, which has seemed so desolate since your mother's deatli ?" "ís it possible," thought Harry, "that my father intends bringing a stranger into the family, expecting he can flnd one who will in any possible manner fill my motber's place f' And then, in a'thought, how rapidly did he recall the time, only two short years ago, when just before college commencement, which was to be the last of his school lif e, he had received a dispatch announemg his mother's illness and desiring his immediate presence home; and how few were the daysof anxious watching ere thatdear and saint-like mother was borne to "that country from whence no traveler returneth." Rousing himself from his thought'ul rêverie, he became aware that his father was expecting a reply ; but what should he say ? "Really, sir,' he began, 'there is a strange quietness about our present manner of living ; yet it has never oceurred to me that you could find it in your heart to give into the hands of a stranger the position so long and so well filled by your dear mother, and - "No, no, my son!" exclaimed his father. "That cannot be; I was not speaking for myself, but of you ; most young men of your age have some ideas of their own in regard to choosing a wife without waiting until his f ather's loneliness prompts his advice." "OhP'resumed Harry, "I- I did not understand your meaning. I may have had some thoughts on the subject, but certainly no very serious ones ; I will bear your advice in mind, however, and possibly I may take advantage of it." How readily we observe the sudden revelutions in the f eelings of the young gentleman, when, from his father's explanation, he became aware of the f act that the future inmate of the house was to be known as Mis. Ilarry Hartley instead of Mrs. Judge Hartley. But such is the selfishness of human nature ; and we think he was more excusable in his willingness to partake of the flrst slice of the matrimonial loaf than many who in various ways exhibit that almost universally prevailing propensity of mankind, seliishness; for in his objection to having his mother supplanted by a stranger, he was entirely governed by filial affection. That night, after retiring to his own room, Harry Hartley seated himself near a table, upon which he rested an elbow, and bowing his head upon his hand, commenced a soliloquy very much after this style: If a man becomes tired of singleblessedness, lie is at liberty at any time to look about him for a companion ; but if. once entangled in the matrimonial noose, there he must remain, for better or for worse. The best advice to be given is ■ "Look before you leap ; that's my motto. Well, my wife must be passably good-looking, gentle, refined, intelligent, affectionate, charitable and kind ; I need not add wealthy, since, in the matter of money, I have sufflcient for both. But how am I to know when I meet with a lady posessing the desired qualities ? For whenever I see any of my lady acquaintances, 1 flnd them the embodiment of smiling loveliness and amiability ; but they are al ways the same 'i That's the question ! There are several who stand favorable in my estimation - two, ticnlarly so - Fanny Leigli and Nellie ] Maxwell, cousins, and very much alike in look and manner. But are they alike in principies ? And how pure are ' their principies. "I have an ideal" he ] ejaculated. "Rather a novel one to be sure - possibly it niay not work well 1 however, I think I will make the trial.' Next morning, a very quaint looking figure appeared in the doorway leading I f rom the store room in the back attic of . Judge Hartley's residence, said figure ■ being mostly enveloped in a time worn, long skirted soldier overcoat, not omitting the inevitable short cape, just long enough to give mankind in general a I very broad shouldered, ungenteel i pearance, which seemed in good 1 ing with the long beard and h air, all of which was surmounted by a broad brimmed slouch hat. i Pausing bef ore a large mirror at the end of the ■ coolly toi if you need a wife to como uiie ma! locks of your long golden hair." Being fully assured that the reflection in the glass was entirely to his satisfaction, he supplied himself with : a substantial wood saw, and proceeded : down the street toward the south end of the town. Passing one after another : of his well known acquaintances, he i was frequently obliged to repress a ] miithful sniile at the thought of his ridiculous appearance and uncommon errand. ! "Boes your mistress want to get sonie i wood sawed ?" he inquired of the colored servant who appeared at the door of Mrs. Leigh's residence in answer to his summons. The woman went to ascertain, but soon returned, saying that Mrs. Leigh did not require his services in such a capacity. Nothing daunted, however, he determined his errand should not be in vain ; so he said : "ít's a very cold day. Would you allow an old man like me to warm himself by your kitchen fire ?" "To be sure," said Chloe. "Walk right straight into this 'ere kitchen, and make yourself comfortable, jess so long as yer please." With this assurance he seated himself by the fire, wondering if he should be likely to accomplish the object of his visit. Fortune favored him. Ere long the woman passed into what he knew to be the dining room, leaving the door ajar. "Who are you talking to in the kitchen?'' inquired the well-known voice of Fanny Leigh. "Only an old man getting warm," replied Chloe ; "pears like he's a little hard of hearin." "Who is he, or what is he like?" questioned Miss Nancj "Dunno ; 'spects he is what old Virginia folks cali poor white trash," answered the woman. Justthen the pretty face of Miss Fanny, surrounded by curl papers and ïair pins, peeped out in front of the door, and the deaf old man heard her say with a sneer: "Poor enough, and trashy enough, too, no doubt, But, Chloe, it is impossible for me to understand why you should permit that class of people to mtrude into your kitchen. Why did you not shut the door in his face, and et him go where he belongs ?" con;inued the young lady. "Sure 'nuff, honey, why didn't I ?" replied she, as if to quiet the indignation of her young mistress. "Well," thought Harry, "it is evident that neither charity, nor gentle refinement are among the ingredients which help to make up that young lady's character, and really I don't think I shonld enjoy an uncommonly happy life with a wife who could find it in lier heart to sneer at the poor or unfortunate." When the servant girl re-entered the títchen the old man thanked her for ;he privilege he hadenjoyed, and again oetook himself to the street, and after traveling a short distance he paused before the residenee of Mrs. Maxwell, iust as she and her daughter Nellie approached the house, after taking their morning walk, enjoying the clear, wintry atmosphere. Addressing the elderly lady, he inquired for work; but 3he inf ormed him that she had made a permanent arrangement for having that kind of work done. "Mother"' chimed in Miss Nellie, "Anderson left word yesterday that he might not be able to come again for some time, and as he does not need the work, it might be well to let this man have a short job, at least." "Perhaps so," said Mrs. Maxwell. Then turning to the old man, she directed him to the rear of the house, where he would find plenty of employment of the kind he was in pursuit of With a great appearance of zeal and energy he commenced a vigorous onslaught upon the woodpile ; before long, however, he began to think that by performing such manual labor of that kind he would pay well for the privilege of prying into the merits of his lady acquaintance. After a time tne saw began to lag in its forward and backward, and the wood business did not progress as rapidly as at first. "It'a a very cold day," he said to the girl who came out for an armful of wood. "That's true for ye," she replied. "B etter come in and warm yourself." Atter a lew moments the old man concluded to take the girl's advice; not that he really feit the need of the lire, but because it would be the easiest and possibly the only way in which he could accomplish the purpose of his labor. Upon entering the kitchen he found the Irish girl seated near the range, with a hand upon her cheek, while her body rocked to and fro, as if in mortal agony ; bv a vigorous push with her fooi, a chair which stood in close proximity was shoved towards him. This he concluded was an invitation for him to be seated. The rocking continued with unabated zeal, and was seemingly cheered by an occasional "Oh, dear me!" or a succe&sion 'of "oh's !" the articulation of which f ormed one prolonged groan. Just after a long spasm of groans, Miss Nellie entered the kitchen from an adjoining room. After bowing politely to the stranger, she said : "Well, Mary, I see your teeth are troubling you again." "Sure, miss, it's myself they a-re killing entirely," replied Mary. "Never a bit of ironing shall I be after doing this whole blessed morning !" "I am sorry you are suffering so badly," continued Nellie. "But never mind the ironing; I will take your place at the table while you go and ask mother for something to cure your pain, and don't come back until you get relief." Soon after tlie old man resumed his work, thé Irish girl again made her appearande' at the woodpile. "Have you got over the toothache ?" he inquired kindly. 'Sure it's all gone entirely,' she answered; 'and all because of the dear young lady, the good angel she is!' 'Indeed, she is goodness itself,' said Mary. 'Ye will not flnd the likes of her the world over.' A a few months, later Mrs. Hartley said, 'Harry, do you know I used to tliink you were uncommónly partial tomy cousin Fanny '?' 'And what if I were?' he inquired. 'If you were, then why did you not niaiiy her instead of demure littlè nu v 'Well simplv au ld wm umiers tand.' I ill teil you on coiïdltion that you will never mention it,' said Harry. 'Your word is law,' she replied. Thereupon he related his experience in working for the privilege of choosing a wife. 'I really think it is too good to keep !' she exclaimed. 'Mother has of ten wondered why the old man never came for his pay.' 'Surely,' he replied, she would cease to wonder if she only knew he was so selfish as to claim her dear, only daughter for his reward.' 'But, Harry, I believe there is a law against obtaining goods under false pretenses,' she said, roguishly. Certainly ; but not for sailing under false colors,' he replied.


Old News
Michigan Argus