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Miscellany: The Improvised Dinner

Miscellany: The Improvised Dinner image
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Yo lionsevvivcs wlio know the important meaning of a roast, who know the difficulties wliicli sometimes overwhelm you cspecially when you must improvise a fhmily dinner; yon who know ihut notwkhsjunding all inspiration, both of underslanding and inclination - yet inspirution is nece-sary to ill improvisaron - one cannot inspire either chickens or heathcocks to come ílymg into the important dish, when the crust is roady to put on it; you housewivcs who !iave spent many a long morning in ihoughts of cookery and in anguish; vou can sympathize in Elise's tioubles, osshe, on the morning of this important dinner, saw the finger of tfie clock stand at half-past eleven without having been able to improvise a roast . It is t-ue that an improvised dinner might do without a roast: this ve grant as a general Iqw; but in the case of this partculir dinner, ve deny it nltogether, in proof of which we miglit easily give t!ie arrangement cf' the whole dinner, did we not íMter ourselves that. we are believed on our bara word. Bevond this, the Judge was particular ly fond of a roast, fond of all kinds of meat, which circumstance incieased still more Elise's difticult}'; and, as if to make the difficulty still greater, Elise, on this very day, was remarkably in want of assistunti?, for her husband had sent out, on bis own business, those servante who, on extraordinary occasions, E!ie found very good help. The cook too ivas confused loday in a remarkable tnanner: the chiWren were in a fermentation; Eva and Leonore quarreled; Pétrea tore a hole in her ncv frock; Hem ie broke a bottle and tix glasscs: the baby cried and screamed for nothing; the clock was on thestroke of tw2lve,and no roast woi'.ld come! EHse was just on tlie point of falling into despair over roasts, cooks, chilc'ren, nny over the whols vvorld, whon the door oponed, and the words, ''your most devoted servant," were spoken out shiilly and joyously, and the tvidow of the Chamberlain - to Elise slie 6eemed an nngel of light from lieavcn - stuod in the room, with her beaming; friendly countenance; took out of her monstrous reticule one chicleen nfter anothcr, and laid them on the table, fi.ving her eye on Elise, and making with each a little courtesy to her. Enraptured by the eight, Elise embraced her, hastened into the kuchen with the chickens, and then returning, poured forth her thanks and all her cares to this friend in need . 'Well, well, patience!" exhorted Mrs. Gunilla, kir.dly and full of cordial sympathy, ancsomewhat touched by Elise's communication, "Best-beloved, one should not'take t so much to heartjsuch troubles ns these soon pnss away - ye?, indeed, llicy soon pase. Now listen, and I'li tell y mi semething: when need ia greatest, help is neaiest.' Yes, yes, remember thatl As Cor tlie chicleen?, I saw them in a pcasant's cart, as I crossed the market, and as I knew wliat was going nn here, I lost no time in buying them and and bringing them undfir tny cloak, and I have nearly run tnyself out of breaíh in my haste. He, he. he! And so now I must go, for the dear Indy must dress herself nicely, and so must I too. Adieu, dear Elise, I wish you ihe happiness of gctting both the dinrer and the young folks in tfider. He, iTëfhe!" Gunilla went, dinner-time carne, and with t catne the guesls and the Jtidge, who liad spent llie whole morning in the business of his own office, out of the house. Emeüe, the Colonel's lady, was elegant in the higliest degree; looked liandsome and distinguished, and nlmost outdid herself in pohtene?s; but s!ill Eüse, epite even of herself, feit stiff and 6tupid beside her husband'a 'old flame.' ;Oh that the chickens may bc nicely done!" was the incessant master ihought of Elise's eoul; and it prevailed over the Popo, the cliurch of St. Peter' s, Tliorwahlsen and Past'i, and over every subject on which they talked. The hour of dinner was come, and yet the dinner kept the company waitiïig. The Judge, who expected from every body ebe the pune - tuality which he himself practiced, began to suffer from what Eüso called his "dinner-fever," and threw unëasy glance?, ilrst at the dining-room door, and tlien at his wife, whose situalion, t must bo confessed, was not a very enviabíe óne. She endeavored to look quite calin, but whispered somethmg to the litlle Loise,which sent her speediiy out of the room. Elise's entertainment, both that part which vas audible, and that wliich was inaudible, was probably at the nïbtnent carried or. somethin' after the following fashion:"It musi bo inexpre.s.sibly pleasant to know," (ah, how unbearably long it is!) "it must be vcry interest ing.'1 (I wish Ernst vvould fire npain on his old flame, and forget dinuer:) "Ye?, indeed, ihat was very remarkable."- (Now, are tbose cliickcns not ronsted!) - "Poor Spain!" (Now, thank goodness, dinner is ready at last- f the chickens are only wel! cbne!) . And now to d inner! A word which brightens all countenance5,nnd cnlivend all tempers. Elise begryi to esteemthe Colonel's lady very highly, because die kept up such alively conversation, and she hopod this would divert attention from any of those dishes which were not particulnrly successful. The Judge was n. pol te und ngreeable host, and was particularly foijd ot tlinner-tïruë, wlien he would wil lingly have made all men partakers of his good appclite, good humor, and even of his good eating- N. B. If this really was good - bilt if the contrary happened to be the case, his temper could not weil Fuslain it. Duting the dinner Eüse saw now and Uien iii'.le clouds come over her husband's brow, jut he himself appcared anxious to disperse them, and all went on tolerably lili the chickens carne. As the Jr.dge, who adhered to all old customs, was cuttii.'g them up, he evidently found them tough, wheieupon a glance was sent across the table to his wife which went lo herheart like a stab of a knife, hut no sooner was the first pang over than this reproachful glance arouíed a degree of indignntion in her which delermined her to steel herself against a misfortuue v. hich in no caso was her fauit; she, therelore, grew quite livaly and talkative, and rever once lurned her eyes to her husband, wlio, angry and bilenl, sat there with a very hot brow, and the knifc sticking blill in the fowl. Bui, alter all, she feit as if she could again breathe freely when the dinner was over, and on tliat very account longed to speak one word of reconciliación with her husband; buthenow sce v.cú io have only cyes and eans lor Emelie, nor was it long before the two feil into a l.ively nnd most interesting conversalion, which certainly would have given Elise ploasure,and in which she might have taken part, had not a feeling of depression 6tolen over her, as she fancied she perceived a soicthing cold and depreciating in the manners of her husband toword her. She grew stiller nnd paler; all eathered themselvcs round the hrilliant Emelie; even the children eeemeJ enchante.l by her. Ilenrick presnted her with a beuatiful ÜDvvcr, which he had obtained from Louise by flatlery. Petrea seemod to have a passion lor her, look a footstool and sat near her, und kissed her hand as soon as she could possess herself ofit. The lady devoted herself exclusively to her old worshiper.casl bzams of her bcauliful eyes upon him, and smiled bewitchingly. "This is a great deüglit!" thought Elise, as she wiped ft traitorous tear; "but I will keep a good foei on it." The Candidato, who perceived all this, quickly withdrèv? from the enchanted circle in which he also had been involved,and tahing ''the baby" on his knee, began to relate a story which was calculated as inuch to interestthe mother as the child. The children were soon around him; Petrea herself forsook her iev flame to listen, and even Elise for the moment was bo amused by t that she forgot every tl) ing else. That was precisely whal Jacobi wanted, 'out it was not what pleased the Judge. He rose for a moment, in order lo ear what it was which had so riveted the atenlion of hts wife. "I cannot Conceivé," said he lo her in a half whisper, "how you can take delight in such i absurdity;nor do I thmk it good tbr the children that they should be crammed with such nonsense!" At length Emelíe roso to tnke her leave, overwhelming Elise with a flood of polite speeches, which she was obliged to answer as we!l a she could. and the Judge, who had promised to show her the liona of the place, accoinpunied her; on which the rest of the guesls dispersed themselves. The eider children accompanied the Cantlidate to the schoolroom to spend an hour in drawing, the younsfer went t- play, and Elise retired to her own chamber. Poor Elise! she dared not at this moment descend into her own heart; she feit a necessity to abstain from thought; a neeessity - entirely to forget herself and the troubling impressions which to-day had overwhelmed her soul. A full hour was before her - an hour of undisturbed repose, and she hastened to her manuscript, in order to busy herself wilh those rich moments of life which her pen could cali up at pleasuro, and to forget the poor and weary present - in one word, to lose the lesser in the higher reality. The tsense of suflering, of which the litüe annoyances of life gave her experience, made her alive to the sweet impressions of that beauty and that harmonious state of existence which was so dear lo her soul.She wrote and wrote - h?r heart was warm her eye3 fillcd wilh tears - he words glowed upon her page - life becamebright: the raoments flew - one half hour passed afier cnother. Her husband's time carne; he was so fond of his tea- had such delight in coming home at this huur to fmd hia wife and children all assembled round the tea-table in the fumily room. It very rarcly happened that Elise had not all in readiness Corhim; Uut now, the striking of 6even o'clock roused her suddenly from her writing ; she luid down her pen, and was in the act of rising when her husband entered. A strong expresión of displeasure was visible in his countenance, as he eaw her occupation. "You gave ns lo-day a very bad dinner, Elise,"' said he, going up to her and speaking with sevenfy; "but when this novel-wnting occupies so much of your time, it is no wonder that you neglect your domeslic duties: you may just as we!J trouble yourself as little about every tliing cltse as about my wishes." It would have been easy for Elise to excuse herself, and mrke all rïght and straight; but the severe tone in which her husband spoke, and his scornful glance, wounded her deeply. "You must have patience with me, Ernst," snid she; ';I nm not accustomed to renounce all innocent pleasures; my ed-ication, my earlier contiecüons, have not prepared me for this." These words excitcd the Judge greatly, and wilh a bitter voicc and great severity he replied -"You shonld have thought about that before you gave me your hand,"' said he; "before you lnd descended iiito 6 humble and caie(ul acircle. It is too late now. Now I vvill -"but he did not finish the sentence, for lie himself perceived a storm arising within him, before which he yielded. He went to the door, opened il, and said in a calm voice, yet still with au agitated tone and glance, "I would just teil you that I have taken tickets for the concert to-morrow, if you wish to go. I hoped to have found you at the tea-lauie, but it is just as desolate and deserted there as if ihere were the plague. Don't give youreelf any trouble, I shall take my tea at the club!" and thus sayiug he banged the door and went. Elise seated herself- she really could pot stand - and l:il her foce in her trembiintr hands. "What words! what looks! And 1, wretched being, what have I said?" Such were Elisc's broken and only halfdcfined thoughtp, while tears streamcd down her clieeks. "Woids, words. words!" says Hamlet, disparagingly. But God preserve lis from the deslructive power of words! There are words which can separate heaits sooner than 6lmrp swords - there are words whose siing can remnin in the hcart through a whole hfe! Elie wept long and violently, her whole soul was in excitement. In mornents of violent stiuggle, bad and good spirits are at hand; they surrounded Eüsc and spoke to her ihus: Bad Spirits. - ''Think on what tliou hast given up! think on thy own merits! RecolIcct the many little ads of ïnjnstice which (hou hast had lo bear, the bitter pains which the coverity of thy htjsbnrri Ims occasioneel thee? Why shouldst Ilion crawl in the dust?Raise thyself, depressed one! raiee tbyself, of.Tended wife! think of thy own worth, of thy own rights! Do not allow thyself to be subjected; show Bome character. Reqnite that which thou hnst endured. Thou also canat annoy; thou also canst punish! Take refuge in thy nerves, in unkindness; make use of thy pover,and enjoy the pleasure of revenge!" Good Spirits. - "Think on thy wants, on thy faults! Recollect all the palience, all the kindness, all the tenderness, which has been shown thee! Thinkon thy husband's wortb, on lus beautiful, noble quaüties! Think also on life, how 6hort it is; how much unavoidab!e bitterness it possesses, how much which if is eapy either to bear or to chase away; and think how the power of affecüon can make all thingsright. Trfnible before the chains of solfiahness; free thyself from them by a new sacrifice of love, and purify the heaven of home; a&cending clouds can easily expand into a dcstructive tempest, or can disperse and leave not a trace in the air. Oh, chase tham henee with the powerful brcath of love!'' The hanpiness of a long life depends, not unfrequently, upon which of these invisible counselors we give ear to. On chis it depends whether the gates of heaven or of heil shall be opened upon earth to men. Elise listenod to the good counselors; she conversedlong with them, and the more pure recollections they sent into her soul, the easier was it for her. The light of love was kindled in her, and that made her clear-sightcd in man directions. She saw what was right for her to do respecting her novel, and this revelation warmed her heart. She knew also that this was the only one she eliould ever write, and that her husband shoult! never again miss her at ihe tea-table, and therefore be obliged to drink his tea at the club (but he should be reconciled with the einner the novel;) and she would, moreover, preparo a dinner for the ColoneVs lady, which should compénsate for the unlucky one of thÍ3 day, and - "Would that Ernst would but come home Boon," thought she; 4I would endeavor to banisb all his displeasure, and make all right between us." It was the bathing day of the children, and the mestiage that the hour of bathing was come interruptcd Elise's solitude. She ordered Brigitta to commence her preparations and when she had somewhat composed herself, and washed away the troces of her tears with rose-water, she herself went down into the chaniber.'Wliat a blessiig is water!" thought ElLe, at the first view of the scène vvhich presentcd itself. The soft glowing young forms in the clear warm water, the glimmenng of the open fire, the splashing and jubileeing of the chüdren m their unspeakable comfort, their innocent sport one ui.h nnother,in tlie peaceful little lake of the which they had no fear of laising sturmy waves-, nay, even Brigïtta's happy face, under her white cap, her lively octivity, nmid the continual phroses of "best beloved," "little alabnster arm," "alabaster fooi," "lily bosom," and such like, while over'the lily-white bosom, and the alaboster arm, she spread soap-fuam scarcely less white, or wrapped them in snowy cloths, out of which nothing bat little, lively, glowing, merry faces pceped and played with one another at bo-peep - all this united to present a picture full of life and pleasure. Poor Elise, however, could not fully enjoy it; the thouglit of what had just occurrcd, lnninfs of reconciliation with her husband, fear that he might reniain out too long, that hemight return too much displeased for her easily to make all straight ngain- these thoughls occupied her mind; yet süll she could not help smiling as Gabriele, who had sunk down in the bath alone, exclaimed, almost beside herself for frizbt, 'I am drowning! I am drowning." In order to re-assure her,her mother stretched out her while hands to her, and under their protection she laughed and splashed about like a little fish in the water. A shower of flower. slreamed sudden'y over both mother nnd child, and Gabriele screamed aloud for joy, and stretched forth lier little arms to caten gilly flowers, roses and carnntione, which feil upon and around her. Elise turned herself round in surprise, and her surprise changed itself into the most delghtful Ecnsation of joy, as the lips of her husband were pressed te her foreheud. ':Ah, you!" exclaimed Elise, and threw her nrms round his neck, and caressingly stroked his cheek. "I shall Let vet through with all this," said he, laughing, yet without leaving the bath, nay, he even stooped down his hnad lo little Gabriele, kissed her, and allowed her to splash him with water. "Thank God! all is riglit ngain! and perhnps it will be best to take no farlher nolice of this unpleasant affuii!1' thought she, and prepared to follow her husband into the parlor. The Judge had, probably, during his had tea at the club, listcned to the invisible speakers as well as his wife, the consequence whoreof was his visit to the bathing-room, and the shower of flowers trom the nosegay iie had brought with him lor her, and the kiss of reconciliation which cffUccd every thoughtlessand wounding word. He Telt now quite pleased that every thing was as it should be, and thut the gentío an J yielding te mper of his wife would require nothing farther. But, perhaps, on that very account, he was dissatisfied with himself, and, theretore, feit a necessity to pronounce one word - one word, which it is so hard for the lips of a mnn to pronounce, yet, which Ernst Frank was too manly, too firm, to shu. When, therefore, his wife entered, he offered her his hand: "Forgive me, Elise,;' said he, with the deepest feeling; "I have behaved severely, nay, absurdly to-day!' (Oh, forgive me, Ernst !?' said Elise, deeply affected, while 6he presstd his hand to her heart.


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