Married Life; Its Shadows and Sunshine
Part 1 out of 3
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ITS SHADOWS AND SUNSHINE
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
THE highest, purest, best and holiest relation in life is that of
marriage, which ought never to be regarded as a mere civil contract,
entered into from worldly ends, but as an essential union of two
minds, by which each gains a new power, and acquires! new capacities
for enjoyment and usefulness. Much has been said and written about
the equality of the sexes, and the rights of woman; but little of
all that has been said or written on this subject is based upon a
discriminating appreciation of the difference between man and woman;
a difference provided by the Creator, who made them for each other,
and stamped upon the spirit of each an irresistible tendency towards
The many evils resulting from marriage do not arise from a failure
in our sex to recognise the equality of man and woman, or the rights
of the latter; but from hasty, ill-judged and discordant alliances,
entered into in so many cases, from motives of a mere external
nature, and with no perception of internal qualities tending to a
true spiritual conjunction. Oppression and wrong cannot flow from
true affection, for love seeks to bless its object.--If, therefore,
man and woman are not happy in marriage, the fault lies in an
improper union, and no remedy can be found in outward constraints or
appliances. Let each, under such circumstances, remove from himself
or herself a spirit of selfish opposition; let forbearance,
gentleness, and a humane consideration, the one for the other, find
its way into the heart, and soon a better and a brighter day will
dawn upon them; for then will begin that true interior conjunction
which only can be called marriage. Happily, we have the intellectual
ability to see what is true, and the power to compel ourselves to do
what reason shows us to be right. And here lies the power of all to
rise above those ills of life which flow from causes in themselves.
To aid in this work, so far as discordant marriage relations are
concerned, and to bind in closer bonds those whose union is
internal, is the present volume prepared. That it will tend to unite
rather than separate, where discord unhappily exists, and to warn
those about forming alliances against the wrong of improper ones,
the author is well assured.
This book is the second in the series of "ARTHUR'S LIBRARY FOR THE
HOUSEHOLD." The third in the series will be "THE TWO WIVES; OR, LOST
AND WON," which is nearly ready for publication.
THREE WAYS OF MANAGING A HUSBAND.
RULING A WIFE.
THE INVALID WIFE.
THE FIRST AND LAST QUARREL.
GUESS WHO IT IS.
MARRYING A TAILOR.
IS MARRIAGE A LOTTERY?
THE UNLOVED ONE.
THREE WAYS OF MANAGING A HUSBAND.
TO those who have never tried the experiment, the management of a
husband may seem a very easy matter. I thought so once, but a few
years' hard experience has compelled me to change my mind. When I
married Mr. John Smith, which was about ten years ago, I was not
altogether blind to his faults and peculiarities; but then he had so
many solid virtues, that these were viewed as minor considerations.
Besides, I flattered myself that it would be the easiest thing in
the world to correct what was not exactly to my taste. It is no
matter of especial wonder that I should have erred in this, for Mr.
John Smith, while a lover, really appeared to have no will of his
own, and no thought of himself. It was only necessary for me to
express a wish, and it was gratified.
I soon found, much to my disappointment, that there is a marked
difference between a husband and a lover: it was at least so in the
case of Mr. Smith, and observation, since I have had my eyes open,
satisfies me that it is so in most cases. I must own, in justice to
all parties, however, that this difference is made more apparent by
a want of knowledge, on the other side, in regard to the difference
between the relation of a wife and a sweetheart--between the wooed
and the won.
There were a good many little things in Mr. Smith, which I had
noticed before marriage, that I made up my mind to correct as soon
as I had an opportunity to apply the proper means. He had a fashion
of saying "Miss" for "Mrs.," as "Miss Jones" and "Miss Peters" for
"Mrs. Jones" and "Mrs. Peters." This sounded exceedingly vulgar to
my ears, and I waited almost impatiently for the time to come when I
could use the prerogative of a wife for its correction. He had, an
ungraceful way of lounging in his chair and half reclining on the
sofa, even in company, that was terrible. It made me uneasy from
head to foot. Then he said, "I _shew_ it to him" for "I _showed_ it
to him,"--"of-_ten_" for "oft'n"--and "_obleeged_" for "obliged."
Besides these, there were sundry other things that worried me not a
little. But I consoled myself with the reflection that when I became
Mrs. Smith all these little matters would vanish like frost in the
sunshine. I was, alas! doomed to be mistaken. But let me give my
experience for the benefit of those who are to come after me.
We had been married just ten days, and I had begun to feel that I
was really a wife, and had a right to say and do a little as I
pleased, when Mr. Smith said to me, as we sat quite lover-like on
the sofa in the evening,
"I met Miss Williams as I came home this evening--"
"For mercy's sake, Mr. Smith! don't say _Miss_ when you speak of a
married woman. It is excessively vulgar." I was not aware that I had
spoken in a very offensive way, but I noticed an instant change in
Mr. Smith. He replied, with some dignity of tone, and manner--
"I ask your pardon, madam; but I didn't say _Miss_. I am not quite
so ignorant as all that comes to."
"Oh, yes, Mr. Smith, but you did say it," I replied, quite
astonished at this unexpected denial.
"Excuse me for saying that you are in error," he returned, drawing
himself up. "I never say Miss for Mrs."
"Why, Mr. Smith! You always say it. I have noticed it a hundred
times. I believe I can hear pretty correctly."
"In this instance you certainly have not."
Mr. Smith was growing warm, and I felt the blood rushing to my face.
A rather tart reply was on my lips, but I bit them hard and
succeeded in keeping them closed.
A deep silence followed. In a little while Mr. Smith took up a
newspaper and commenced reading, and I found some relief for a heavy
pressure that was upon my bosom, in the employment of hem-stitching
a fine pocket-handkerchief.
And this was the return I had met for a kind attempt to correct a
mistake of my husband's, that made him liable to ridicule on the
charge of vulgarity! And to deny, too, that he said "_Miss_," when I
had been worried about it for more than a year! It was too bad!
After this Mr. Smith was very particular in saying, when he spoke of
a married woman to me, _Misses_. The emphasis on the second syllable
was much too strongly marked to be pleasant on my ears. I was
terribly afraid he would say "_Mistress_," thus going off into the
opposite extreme of vulgarity.
This first attempt to put my husband straight had certainly not been
a very pleasant one. He had shown, unexpectedly to me, a humour that
could by no means be called amiable; and by which I was both
grieved, and astonished. I made up my mind that I would be very
careful in future how I tried my hand at reforming him. But his
oft-repeated "he _shew_ it to me," and "_obleeged_," soon fretted me
so sorely, that I was forced to come down upon him again, which I
did at a time when I felt more than usually annoyed. I cannot
remember now precisely what I said to him, but I know that I put him
into an ill-humour, and that it was cloudy weather in the house for
a week, although the sun shone brightly enough out of doors. "_He
shew it to me_," and "_obleeged_" were, however, among the things
that had been, after that. So .much was gained; although there were
times when I half suspected that I had lost more than I had gained.
But I persevered, and, every now and then, when I got "worked up"
about something, administered the rod of correction.
Gradually I could see that my husband was changing, and, as I felt,
for the worse. Scarcely a year had passed before he would get into a
pet if I said the least word to him. He couldn't bear any thing from
me. This seemed very unreasonable, and caused me not only to sigh,
but to shed many a tear over his perverseness. From the thoughtful,
ever considerate, self-sacrificing lover, he had come to be
disregardful of my wishes, careless of my comfort, and indifferent
to my society. Still I felt by no means inclined to give him up; was
by no means disposed to let him have his own way. It was clear to my
mind that I had rights as well as he had; and I possessed resolution
enough to be ready to maintain them. His self-will and indifference
to my wishes roused in me a bitter and contentious spirit; and, in
an evil hour, I determined that I would make a struggle for the
mastery. An opportunity was not long delayed. The Philharmonic
Society had announced one of its splendid concerts. A lady friend,
who had frequently attended these concerts, called in to see me,
and, by what she said, filled me with a desire to enjoy the fine
musical treat that had been announced for that very evening.
When Mr. Smith came home at dinner he said, before I had time to
mention the concert--
"Mary, I've taken a fancy to go and see Fanny Ellsler to-night, and,
as there will be no chance of getting a good seat this afternoon, I
took the precaution to secure tickets as I came home to dinner. I
would have sent the porter with a note to know whether there was any
thing to prevent your going to-night, but he has been out all the
morning, and I concluded that, even if there should be some slight
impediment in the way, you could easily set it aside."
Now this I thought too much. To go and buy tickets to see Fanny
Ellsler dance, and take it for granted that I would lay every thing
aside to go, when I had set my heart on attending the Philharmonic
"You are a strange man, Mr. Smith," said I. You ought to know that I
don't care a fig about seeing Fanny Ellsler. I don't relish such
kind of performances. You at least might have waited until you came
home to dinner and asked the question. I don't believe a word about
the good seats all being taken this morning. But it's just like you!
To go and see this dancers toss her feet about was a thing you had
made up your mind to do, and I was to go along whether I liked it or
"You talk in rather a strange way, Mrs. Smith," said my husband,
"I don't see that I do," replied I, warming. "The fact is, Mr.
Smith, you seem to take it for granted that I am nobody. Here I've
been making all my calculations to go to the Philharmonic to-night,
and you come home with tickets for the theatre! But I can tell you
plainly that I am _not_ going to see Fanny Ellsler, and that I _am_
going to the Philharmonic."
This was taking a stand that I had never taken before. In most of my
efforts to make my husband go my way, he had succeeded in making me
go his way. This always chafed me dreadfully. I fretted and scolded,
and "all that sort of thing," but it was no use, I could not manage
him. The direct issue of "I won't" and "I will" had not yet been
made, and I was some time in coming to the resolution to have a
struggle, fiercer than ever, for the ascendency. I fondly believed
that for peace' sake he would not stand firm if he saw me resolute.
Under this view of the case, I made the open averment that I would
not go to the theatre. I expected that a scene would follow, but I
was mistaken. Mr. Smith did, indeed, open his eyes a little wider,
but he said nothing.
Just then the bell announced that dinner was on the table. Mr. Smith
arose and led the way to the dinner-room with a firm step. Before we
were married he wouldn't have dreamed of thus preceding me! I was
fretted at this little act. It indicated too plainly what was in the
Dinner passed in silence. I forced myself to eat, that I might
appear unconcerned. On rising from the table, Mr. Smith left the
house without saying a word.
You may suppose I didn't feel very comfortable during the afternoon.
I had taken my stand, and my intention was to maintain it to the
last. That Mr. Smith would yield I had no doubt at first. But, as
evening approached, and the trial-time drew near, I had some
Mr. Smith came home early.
"Mary," said he, in his usual pleasant way, "I have ordered a
carriage to be here at half-past seven. We mustn't leave home later,
as the curtain rises at eight."
"What curtain rises? Where do you think of going?"
"To see Fanny Ellsler, of course. I mentioned to you at dinner-time
that I had tickets."
This was said very calmly.
"And I told you at dinner-time that I was going to the Philharmonic,
and not to see this dancer." I tried to appear as composed as he
was, but failed in the attempt altogether.
"You were aware that I had tickets for the theatre before you said
that," was the cold answer he made.
"Of course I was."
"Very well, Mary. You can do as you like. The carriage will be here
at half-past seven. If you are then ready to go to the theatre, I
shall be happy to have your company." And my husband, after saying
this with a most unruffled manner, politely bowed and retired to the
I was on fire. But I had no thought of yielding.
At half-past seven I was ready. I heard the carriage drive up to the
door and the bell ring.
"Mary," called my husband at the bottom of the stair-case, in a
cheerful tone, "are you ready?"
"Ready to go where?" I asked on descending.
"To the theatre."
"I am ready for the concert, "I answered in as composed a voice as I
"_I_ am not going to the concert to-night, Mrs. Smith. I thought you
understood that," firmly replied my husband. "I am going to see
Fanny Ellsler. If you will go with me, I shall be very happy to have
your company. If not, I must go alone."
"And I am going to the Philharmonic. I thought you understood that,"
I replied, with equal resolution.
"Oh! very well," said he, not seeming to be at all disturbed. "Then
you can use the carriage at the door. I will walk to the theatre."
Saying this, Mr. Smith turned from me deliberately and walked away.
I heard him tell the driver of the carriage to take me to the
Musical Fund Hall; then I heard the street-door close, and then I
heard my husband's footsteps on the pavement as he left the house.
Without hesitating a moment for reflection, I followed to the door,
entered the carriage, and ordered the man to drive me--where? I had
no ticket for the concert; nor could I go alone!
"To the Musical Fund Hall, I believe, madam," he said, standing with
his fingers touching the rim of his hat.
I tried to think what I should do. To be conquered was hard. And it
was clear that I could not go alone.
"No," I replied, grasping hold of the first suggestion that came to
my mind. "Drive me to No.--Walnut street."
I had directed him to the house of my sister, where I thought I
would stay until after eleven o'clock, and then return home, leaving
my husband to infer that I had been to the concert. But long before
I had reached my sister's house, I felt so miserable that I deemed
it best to call out of the window to the driver, and direct him to
return. On arriving at home, some twenty minutes after I had left
it, I went up to my chamber, and there had a hearty crying spell to
myself. I don't know that I ever felt so bad before in my life. I
had utterly failed in this vigorous contest with my husband, who had
come off perfectly victorious. Many bitter things did I write
against him in my heart, and largely did I magnify his faults. I
believe I thought over every thing that occurred since we were
married, and selected therefrom whatever could justify the
conclusion that he was a self-willed, overbearing, unfeeling man,
and did not entertain for me a particle of affection.
It was clear that I had not been able to manage my spouse,
determined as I had been to correct all his faults, and make him one
of the best, most conciliating and loving of husbands, with whom my
wish would be law. Still I could not think of giving up. The thought
of being reduced to a tame, submissive wife, who could hardly call
her soul her own, was not for a moment to be entertained. On
reflection, it occurred to me that I had, probably, taken the wrong
method with my husband. There was a touch of stubbornness in his
nature that had arrayed itself against my too earnest efforts to
bend him to my will. A better way occurred. I had heard it said by
some one, or had read it somewhere, that no man was proof against a
On the present occasion I certainly felt much more like crying than
laughing, and so it was no hard matter, I can honestly aver, to
appear bathed in tears on my husband's return between eleven and
twelve o'clock from the theatre. I cried from vexation as much as
from any other feeling.
When Mr. Smith came up into the chamber where I lay, I greeted his
presence with half a dozen running sobs, which he answered by
whistling the "Craccovienne!" I continued to sob, and he continued
to whistle for the next ten minutes. By that time he was ready to
get into bed, which he did quite leisurely, and laid himself down
upon his pillow with an expression of satisfaction. Still I sobbed
on, thinking that every sighing breath I drew was, in spite of his
seeming indifference, a pang to his heart. But, from this fond
delusion a heavily drawn breath, that was almost a snore, aroused
me. I raised up and looked over at the man--he was sound asleep.
A good hearty cry to myself was all the satisfaction I had, and then
I went to sleep. On the next morning, I met Mr. Smith at the
breakfast table with red eyes and a sad countenance. But he did not
seem to notice either.
"I hope you enjoyed yourself at the concert last night," said he. "I
was delighted at the theatre. Fanny danced divinely. Hers is truly
the poetry of motion!"
Now this was too much! I will leave it to any reader--any female
reader, I mean--whether this was not too much. I burst into a flood
of tears and immediately withdrew, leaving my husband to eat his
breakfast alone. He sat the usual time, which provoked me
exceedingly. If he had jumped up from the table and left the house,
I would have felt that I had made some impression upon him. But to
take things in this calm way! What had I gained? Nothing, as I could
see. After breakfast Mr. Smith came up to the chamber, and, seeing
my face buried in a pillow, weeping bitterly--I had increased the
flow of tears on hearing him ascending the stairs--said in a low
"Are you not well, Mary?"
I made no answer, but continued to weep. Mr. Smith stood for the
space of about a minute, but asked no further question. Then,
without uttering a word, he retired from the chamber, and in a
little while after I heard him leave the house. I cried now in good
earnest. It was plain that my husband had no feeling; that he did
not care whether I was pleased or sad. But I determined to give him
a fair trial. If I failed in this new way, what was I to do? The
thought of becoming the passive slave of a domestic tyrant was
dreadful. I felt that I could not live in such a state. When Mr.
Smith came home at dinner-time I was in my chamber, ready prepared
for a gush of tears. As he opened the door I looked up with
streaming eyes, and then hid my face in a pillow.
"Mary," said he, with much kindness in his voice, "what ails you?
Are you sick?" He laid his hand upon mine as he spoke.
But I did not reply. I meant to punish him well for what he had done
as a lesson for the future. I next expected him to draw his arm
around me, and be very tender and sympathizing in his words and
tones. But no such thing! He quietly withdrew the hand he had placed
upon mine; and stood by me, I could feel, though not see, in a cold,
"Are you not well, Mary?" he asked again.
I was still silent. A little while after I heard him moving across
the floor, and then the chamber door shut. I was once more alone.
When the bell rang for dinner, I felt half sorry that I had
commenced this new mode of managing my husband; but, as I had begun,
I was determined to go through with it. "He'll at least take care
how he acts in the future," I said. I did not leave my chamber to
join my husband at the dinner table. He sat his usual time, as I
could tell by the ringing of the bell for the servant to change the
plates and bring in the dessert. I was exceedingly fretted; and more
so by his returning to his business without calling up to see me,
and making another effort to dispel my grief.
For three days I tried this experiment upon my husband, who bore it
with the unflinching heroism of a martyr. I was forced, at last, to
come to; but I was by no means satisfied that my new mode was a
failure. For all Mr. Smith's assumed indifference, I knew that he
had been troubled at heart, and I was pretty well satisfied that he
would think twice before provoking me to another essay of tears.
Upon the whole, I felt pretty sure that I had discovered the means
of doing with him as I pleased.
A few weeks of sunshine passed--I must own that the sun did not look
so bright, nor feel so warm as it had done in former times--and then
our wills came once more into collision. But my tears fell upon a
rock. I could not see that they made the least perceptible
impression. Mr. Smith had his own way, and I cried about it until I
got tired of that sport, and in very weariness gave over. For the
space of a whole year I stood upon tears as my last defensible
position. Sometimes I didn't smile for weeks. But my husband
maintained his ground like a hero.
At last I gave up in despair. Pride, self-will, anger--all were
conquered. I was a weak woman in the hands of a strong-minded man.
If I could not love him as I wished to love him, I could at least
obey. In nothing did I now oppose him, either by resolute words or
tears. If he expressed a wish, whether to me agreeable or not, I
One day, not long after this change in my conduct towards my
husband, he said to me, "I rather think, Mary, we will spend a
couple of weeks at Brandywine Springs, instead of going to Cape May
I replied, "Very well, dear;" although I had set my heart on going
to the Capes. My sister and her husband and a number of my friends
were going down, and I had anticipated a good deal of pleasure. I
did not know of a single person who was going to the Brandywine
Springs. But what was the use of entering into a contest with my
husband? He would come off the conqueror, spite of angry words or
"The Springs are so much more quiet than the Capes," said my
"Yes," I remarked, "there is less gay company there."
"Don't you think you will enjoy yourself as well there as at the
Now this was a good deal for my husband to say. I hardly knew what
to make of it.
"If you prefer going there, dear, let us go by all means," I
answered. I was not affecting any thing, but was in earnest in what
Mr. Smith looked into my face for some moments, and with unusual
affection I thought.
"Mary," said he, "if you think the time will pass more pleasantly to
you at the Capes, let us go there by all means."
"My sister Jane is going to the Capes," I remarked, with some little
hesitation; "and so is Mrs. L--and Mrs. D--, and a good many
more of our friends. I did think that I would enjoy myself there
this season very much. But I have no doubt I shall find pleasant
society at the Springs."
"We will go to the Capes," said my husband promptly and cheerfully.
"No," said I, emulous now for the first time in a new cause. "I am
sure the time will pass agreeably enough at the Springs. And as you
evidently prefer going there, we will let the Capes pass for this
"To the Capes, Mary, and nowhere else," replied my husband, in the
very best of humours. "I am sure you will enjoy yourself far better
there. I did not know your sister was going."
And to the Capes we went, and I did enjoy myself excellently well.
As for my husband, I never saw him in a better state of mind. To me
he was more like a lover than a husband. No, I will not say that
either, for I can't admit that a husband may not be as kind and
affectionate as a lover; for he can and will be if managed rightly,
and a great deal more so. Whenever I expressed a wish, it appeared
to give him pleasure to gratify it. Seeing this, instead of
suffering myself to be the mere recipient of kind attentions, I
began to vie with him in the sacrifice of selfish wishes and
It is wonderful how all was changed after this. There were no more
struggles on my part to manage my husband, and yet I generally had
things my own way. Before I could not turn him to the right nor the
left, though I strove to do so with my utmost strength. Now I held
him only with a silken fetter, and guided him, without really
intending to do so, in almost any direction.
Several years have passed since that ever-to-be-remembered, happy
visit to Cape May. Not once since have I attempted any management of
my husband, and yet it is a rare thing that my wish is not, as it
used to be before we were married, his law. It is wonderful, too,
how he has improved. I am sure he is not the same man that he was
five years ago. But, perhaps, I see with different eyes. At any
rate, I am not the same woman; or, if the same, very unlike what I
So much for my efforts to manage a husband. Of the three ways so
faithfully tried, my fair readers will be at no loss to determine
which is best. I make these honest confessions for the good of my
sex. My husband, Mr. John Smith, will be no little surprised if this
history should meet his eye. But I do not believe it will interrupt
the present harmonious relations existing between us, but rather
tend to confirm and strengthen them.
RULING A WIFE.
AS a lover, Henry Lane was the kindest, most devoted,
self-sacrificing person imaginable. He appeared really to have no
will of his own, so entire was his deference to his beautiful
Amanda; yet, for all this, he had no very high opinion of her as an
intelligent being. She was lovely, she was gentle, she was good; and
these qualities, combined with personal grace and beauty, drew him
in admiration to her side, and filled him with the desire to possess
her as his own.
As a husband, Henry Lane was a different being. His relation had
changed, and his exterior changed correspondingly. Amanda was his
wife; and as such she must be, in a certain sense, under him. It was
his judgment that must govern in all matters; for her judgment, in
the affairs of life, was held in light estimation. Moreover, as a
man, it was his province to control and direct and her duty to look
to him for guidance.
Yet, for all this, if the truth must be told, the conclusions of
Amanda's mind were, in ordinary affairs, even more correct than her
husband's judgment; for he was governed a great deal by impulses and
first impressions, instead of by the reason of which he was so
proud, while she came naturally into the woman's quick perceptions
of right and propriety. This being the case, it may readily be seen
that there was a broad ground-work for unhappiness in the married
state. Amanda could not sink into a mere cipher; she could not give
up her will entirely to the guidance of another, and cease to act
from her own volitions.
It took only a few months to make the young wife feel that her
position was to be one of great trial. She was of a mild and gentle
character, more inclined to suffer than resist; but her judgment was
clear, and she saw the right or wrong of any act almost
instinctively. Love did not make her blind to every thing in her
husband. He had faults and unpleasant peculiarities, and she saw
them plainly, and often desired to correct them. But one trial of
this kind sufficed to keep her silent. He was offended, and showed
his state of mind so plainly, that she resolved never to stand in
that relation to him again.
As time progressed, the passiveness of Amanda encouraged in Lane his
natural love of ruling. His household was his kingdom, and there his
will must be the law. In his mind arose the conceit that, in every
thing, his judgment was superior to that of his wife: even in the
smaller matters of household economy, he let this be seen. His
taste, too, was more correct, and applied itself to guiding and
directing her into a proper state of dressing. He decided about the
harmony of colours and the choice of patterns. She could not buy
even a ribbon without there being some fault found with it, as not
possessing the elements of beauty in just arrangements. In company,
you would often hear him say--"Oh, my wife has no taste. She would
dress like a fright if I did not watch her all the time."
Though outwardly passive or concurrent when such things were said,
Amanda felt them as unjust, and they wounded her more or less
severely, according to the character of the company in which she
happened at the time to be; but her self-satisfied husband saw
nothing of this. And not even when some one, more plainly spoken
than others, would reply to such a remark--"She did not dress like a
fright before you were married," did he perceive his presumption and
But passiveness under such a relation does not always permanently
remain; it was accompanied from the first by a sense of oppression
and injustice, though love kept the feeling subdued. The desire for
ruling in any position gains strength by activity. The more the
young wife yielded, the more did the husband assume, until at length
Amanda felt that she had no will of her own, so to speak. The con-
viction of this, when it formed itself in her mind, half
involuntarily brought with it an instinctive feeling of resistance.
Here was the forming point of antagonism--the beginning of the state
of unhappiness foreshadowed from the first. Had Amanda asserted her
right to think and act for herself in the early days of her married
life, the jar of discord would have been light. It now promised to
be most afflicting in its character.
The first activity of Amanda's newly forming state showed itself in
the doing of certain things to which she was inclined,
notwithstanding the expression of her husband's disapproval.
Accustomed to the most perfect compliance, Mr. Lane was disturbed by
"Oh, dear! what a horrid looking thing!" said he one day, as he
discovered a new dress pattern which his wife had just purchased
lying on a chair. "Where in the world did that come from?"
"I bought it this morning," replied Amanda.
"Take it back, or throw it into the fire," was the husband's rude
"I think it neat," said Amanda, smiling.
"Neat? It's awful! But you've no taste. I wish you'd let me buy your
The wife made no answer to this. Lane said a good deal more about
it, to all of which Amanda opposed but little. However, her mind was
made up to one thing, and that was to take it to the mantuamaker's.
The next Lane saw of the dress was on his wife.
"Oh, mercy!" he exclaimed, holding up his hand, "I thought you had
burnt it. Why did you have it made up?"
"I like it," quietly answered Mrs. Lane.
"You like any thing."
"I haven't much taste, I know," said Amanda, "but such as it is, it
is pleasant to gratify it sometimes."
Something in the way this remark was made it disturbed the
self-satisfaction which was a leading feature in Mr. Lane's state of
mind; he, however, answered--"I wish you would be governed by me in
matters of this kind; you know my taste is superior to yours. Do
take off that dress, and throw it in the fire."
Amanda did not reply to this, for it excited feelings and produced
thoughts that she had no wish to manifest. But she did not comply
with her husband's wishes. She liked the dress and meant to wear it,
and she did wear it, notwithstanding her husband's repeated
condemnation of her taste.
At this time they had one child--a babe less than a year old. From
the first, Lane had encroached upon the mother's province. This had
been felt more sensibly than any thing else by his wife, for it
disturbed the harmonious activity of the natural law which gives to
a mother the perception of what is best for her infant. Still, she
had been so in the habit of yielding to the force of his will, that
she gave way to his interference here in numberless instances,
though she as often felt that he was wrong as right. Conceit of his
own intelligence blinded him to the intelligence of others. Of this
Amanda became more and more satisfied every day. At first, she had
passively admitted that he knew best; but her own common sense and
clear perceptions soon repudiated this idea. While his love of
predominance affected only herself, she could bear it with great
patience; but when it was exercised, day after day, and week after
week, in matters pertaining to her babe, she grew restless under the
After the decided, position taken in regard to her dress, Amanda's
mind acquired strength in a new direction. A single gratification of
her own will, attained in opposition to the will of her husband,
stirred a latent desire for repeated gratifications; and it was not
long before Lane discovered this fact, and wondered at the change
which had taken place in his wife's temper. She no longer acquiesced
in every suggestion, nor yielded when he opposed argument to an
assumed position. The pleasure of thinking and acting for herself
had been restored, and the delight appertaining to its indulgence
was no more to be suppressed. Her husband's reaction on this state
put her in greater freedom; for it made more distinctly manifest the
quality of his ruling affection, and awoke in her mind a more
determined spirit of resistance.
Up to this time, even in the most trifling matters of domestic and
social life, Lane's will had been the law. This was to be so no
longer. A new will had come into activity; and that will a woman's
will. Passive it had been for a long time under a pressure that
partial love and a yielding temper permitted to remain; but its
inward life was unimpaired; and when its motions became earnest, it
was strong and enduring. The effort made by Lane to subdue these
motions the moment he perceived them, only gave them a stronger
impulse. The hand laid upon her heart to quiet its pulsations only
made it beat with a quicker effort, while it communicated its
disturbance to his own.
The causes leading to the result we are to describe have been fully
enough set forth; they steadily progressed until the husband and
wife were in positions of direct antagonism. Lane could not give up
his love of controlling every thing around him, and his wife, fairly
roused to opposition, followed the promptings of her own will, in
matters where right was clearly on her side, with a quiet
perseverance that always succeeded. Of course, they were often made
unhappy; yet enough forbearance existed on both sides to prevent an
open rupture--at least, for a time. That, however, came at last, and
was the more violent from the long accumulation of reactive forces.
The particulars of this rupture we need not give; it arose in a
dispute about the child when she was two years old. As usual, Lane
had attempted to set aside the judgment of his wife in something
pertaining to the child, as inferior to his own, and she had not
submitted. Warm words ensued, in which he said a good deal about a
wife's knowing her place and keeping it.
"I am not your slave!" said Amanda, indignantly; the cutting words
of her husband throwing her off her guard.
"You are my wife," he calmly and half contemptuously replied; "and,
as such, are bound to submit yourself to your husband."
"To my husband's intelligence, not to his mere will," answered
Amanda, less warmly, but more resolutely than at first.
"Yes, to his will!" said Lane, growing blind from anger.
"That I have done long enough," returned the wife. "But the time is
past now. By your intelligence, when I see in it superior light to
what exists in my own, I will be guided, but, by your will--never!"
The onward moving current of years, which, for some time, had been
chafing amid obstructions, now met a sudden barrier, and flowed over
in a raging torrent. A sharp retort met this firm declaration of
Amanda, stinging her into anger, and producing a state of
recrimination. While in this state, she spoke plainly of his
assumption of authority over her from the first,--of her passiveness
for a time,--of being finally aroused to opposition.
"And now," she added, in conclusion, "I am content to be your wife
and equal, but will be no longer your passive and obedient slave."
"Your duty is to obey. You can occupy no other position as my wife,"
returned the blind and excited husband.
"Then we must part."
"Be it so." And as he said this, Lane turned hurriedly away and left
Fixed as a statue, for a long time, sat the stunned and wretched
wife. As the current of thoughts again flowed on, and the words of
her husband presented themselves in even a more offensive light than
when they were first uttered, indignant pride took the uppermost
place in her mind.
"He will not treat me as a wife and equal," she said, "and I will no
longer be his slave."
In anger Lane turned from his wife; and for hours after parting with
her this anger burned with an all-consuming flame. For him to yield
was out of the question. His manly pride would never consent to
this. She must fall back into her true position. He did not return
home, as usual, at dinner-time; but absented himself, in order to
give her time for reflection, as well as to awaken her fears lest he
would abandon her altogether. Towards night, imagining his wife in a
state of penitence and distressing anxiety, and feeling some
commiseration for her on that account, Mr. Lane went back to his
dwelling. As he stepped within the door, a feeling of desertion and
loneliness came over him; and unusual silence seemed to pervade the
house. He sat down in the parlour for some minutes; but hearing no
movement in the chamber above, nor catching even a murmur of his
child's voice, a sound for which his ears were longing, he ascended
the stairs, but found no one there. As he turned to go down again he
met a servant.
"Where is Mrs. Lane?" he asked.
"I don't know," was answered. "She went out this morning, and has
"Where is Mary?"
"She took Mary with her."
"Didn't she say where she was going?"
Mr. Lane asked no more questions, but went back into the room from
which he had just emerged, and, sitting down, covered his face with
his hands, and endeavoured to collect his thoughts.
"Has she deserted me?" he asked of himself in an audible husky
His heart grew faint in the pause that followed. As the idea of
desertion became more and more distinct, Mr. Lane commenced
searching about in order to see whether his wife had not left some
communication for him, in which her purpose was declared. But he
found none. She had departed without leaving a sign. The night that
followed was a sleepless one to Lane. His mind was agitated by many
conflicting emotions. For hours, on the next day, he remained at
home, in the expectation of seeing or hearing from Amanda. But no
word came. Where had she gone? That was the next question. If he
must go in search of hers in what direction should he turn his
steps? She had no relations in the city, and with those who resided
at a distance she had cultivated no intimacy.
The whole day was passed in a state of irresolution. To make the
fact known was to expose a family difficulty that concerned only
himself and wife; and give room for idle gossip and gross
detraction. Bad as the case was, the public would make it appear a
great deal worse than the reality. In the hope of avoiding this, he
concealed the sad affair for the entire day, looking, in each
recurring hour, for the return of his repentant wife. But he looked
in vain. Night came gloomily down, and she was still absent.
He was sitting, about eight o'clock in the evening, undetermined yet
what to do, when a gentleman with whom he was but slightly
acquainted named Edmondson, called at the door and asked to see him.
On being shown in, the latter, with some embarrassment in his
"I have called to inform you, that Mrs. Lane has been at my house
"At _your_ house!"
"Yes. She came there yesterday morning; and, since that time, my
wife has been doing her best to induce her to return home. But, so
far, she has not been able to make the smallest impression. Not
wishing to become a party to the matter, I have called to see you on
the subject. I regret, exceedingly, that any misunderstanding has
occurred, and do not intend that either myself or family shall take
sides in so painful an affair. All that I can do, however, to heal
the difficulty, shall be done cheerfully."
"What does she say?" asked Lane, when he had composed himself.
"She makes no specific complaint."
"What does she propose doing?"
"She avows her intention of living separate from you, and supporting
herself and child by her own efforts."
This declaration aroused a feeling of indignant pride in the
husband's mind. "It is my child as well as hers," said he. "She may
desert me, if she will; but she cannot expect me to give up my
child. To that I will never submit."
"My dear sir," said Mr. Edmondson, "do not permit your mind to
chafe, angrily, over this unhappy matter. That will widen not heal,
the breach. In affairs of this kind, pardon me for the remark, there
are always faults on both sides; and the duty of each is to put away
his or her own state of anger and antagonism and seek to reconcile
the other, rather than to compel submission. As a man, you have the
advantage of a stronger and clearer judgment,--exercise it as a man.
Feeling and impulse often rule in a woman's mind, from the very
nature of her mental conformation; and we should remember this when
we pass judgment on her actions. There is often more honour in
yielding a point than in contending for it to the end, in the face
of threatened disaster. Let me then urge you to seek a
reconciliation, while there is yet opportunity, and permit the veil
of oblivion to fall, while it may, over this painful event. As yet,
the fact has not passed from the knowledge of myself and wife. Heal
the breach, and the secret remains where it is."
"If she will return, I will receive her, and forgive and forget all.
Will you say this to her from me?"
"Why not go to her at once? See her face to face. This is the best
and surest way."
"No," said Lane, coldly. "She has left me of her own choice; and,
now, she must return. I gave her no cause for the rash act. Enough
for me that I am willing to forgive and forget all this. But I am
not the man to humble myself at the feet of a capricious woman. It
is not in me."
"Mr. Lane, you are wrong!" said the visitor, in a decided tone. "All
wrong. Do you believe that your wife would have fled from you
without a real or imagined cause?"
"No. But the cause is only in her imagination."
"Then see her and convince her of this. It is the same to her, at
present, whether the cause be real or imaginary. She believes it
real, and feels all its effects as real. Show her that it is
imaginary, and all is healed."
Lane shook his head.
"I have never humbled myself before a man, much less a woman," said
This remark exhibited to Mr. Edmondson the whole ground-work of the
difficulty. Lane regarded a woman as inferior to a man, and had for
her, in consequence, a latent feeling of contempt. He could
understand, now, why his wife had left him; for he saw, clearly,
that, with such an estimation of woman, he would attempt to degrade
her from her true position; and, if she possessed an independent
spirit, render her life wellnigh insupportable. Earnestly did he
seek to convince Lane of his error; but to no good effect. As soon
as all doubt was removed from the mind of the latter in regard to
where his wife had gone, and touching the spirit which governed her
in her separation from him, his natural pride and
self-esteem--self-respect, he called it--came back into full
activity. No, he would never humble himself to a woman! That was the
unalterable state of his mind. If Amanda would return, and assume
her old place and her old relation, he would forget and forgive all.
This far he would go, and no farther. She had left of her own free
will, and that must bring her back.
"You can say all this to her in any way you please; but I will not
seek her and enter into an humble supplication for her return. I
have too much self-respect--and am too much of a man--for that. If
she finds the struggle to do so hard and humiliating, she will be
the more careful how she places herself again in such a position.
The lesson will last her a life-time."
"You are wrong; depend upon it, you are wrong!" urged Mr. Edmondson.
"There must be yielding and conciliation on both sides."
"I can do no more than I have said. Passive I have been from the
first, and passive I will remain. As for our child, I wish you to
say to her, that I shall not consent to a separation. It is my child
as much as hers; moreover, as father, my responsibility is greatest,
and I am not the man to delegate my duties to another. Possession of
the child, if driven to that extremity, I will obtain through aid of
the law. This I desire that she shall distinctly understand. I make
no threat. I do not wish her to view the declaration in that light.
I affirm only the truth, that she may clearly understand all the
consequences likely to flow from her ill-advised step."
The more Mr. Edmondson sought to convince Mr. Lane of his error, the
more determinedly did he cling to it; and he retired at last, under
the sad conviction that the unhappy couple had seen but the
beginning of troubles.
Alone with his own thoughts, an hour had not elapsed before Mr. Lane
half repented of his conduct in taking so unyielding a position. A
conviction forced itself upon his mind that he had gone too far and
was asking too much; and he wished that he had not been quite so
exacting in his declarations to Mr. Edmondson. But, having made
them, his false pride of consistency prompted him to adhere to what
he had said.
The night passed in broken and troubled sleep; and morning found him
supremely wretched. Yet resentment still formed a part of Mr. Lane's
feelings. He was angry with his wife, whom he had driven from his
side, and was in no mood to bend in order to effect a
reconciliation. At mid-day he returned from his business, hoping to
find her at home. But his house was still desolate. With the evening
he confidently expected her, but she was not there. Anxiously he
sat, hour after hour, looking for another visit from Mr. Edmondson,
but he came not again.
In leaving her husband's house, Mrs. Lane had gone, as has been
seen, to the house of a friend. Mrs. Edmondson was an old school
companion, between whom and herself had continued to exist, as they
grew up, the tenderest relations. When she turned from her husband,
she fled, with an instinct of affection and sympathy, to this
friend, and poured her tears in a gild agony of affliction upon her
bosom. In leaving her husband, she was not governed by a sudden
caprice; nor was the act intended to humble him to her feet. Nothing
of this was in her mind. He had trenched upon her province as a wife
and mother; interfered with her freedom as an individual; and, at
last, boldly assumed the right to command and control her as an
inferior. The native independence of her character, which had long
fretted under this rule of subordination, now openly rebelled, and,
panting for freedom, she had sprung from her fetters with few
thoughts as to future consequences.
The first day of absence was a day of weeping. Mrs. Edmondson could
not and did not approve of what had been done.
"I am afraid, Amanda, that you have only made matters worse," said
she, as soon as she could venture to suggest any thing at all upon
the subject. "It is always easier to prevent than to heal a breach.
The day has not yet closed. There is time to go back. Your husband
need never know what has been in your mind. This hasty act may be
entirely concealed from him."
But the long suffering wife had been roused to opposition. A new
current of feeling was sweeping across and controlling her mind. She
was, therefore, deaf to the voice of reason. Still her friend, as in
duty bound, urged her to think more calmly on the subject, and to
retrace the steps she had taken. But all was in vain. This being so,
her husband, as has been seen, called upon Mr. Lane, and informed
him that his wife was at his house. From this interview Mr.
Edmondson returned disheartened, and reported all that had been said
on both sides to his wife.
"My husband saw Mr. Lane last evening," said Mrs. Edmondson to
Amanda on the next day.
"He did!" Amanda looked eagerly into the face of her friend, while
she became much agitated.
"Yes. He called to let him know that you were here."
"What did he say?"
"He wishes you to return. All will be forgotten and forgiven."
"He said that?"
"I have done nothing for which I desire forgiveness," said Amanda,
coldly, and with the air of one who is hurt by the words of another.
"If he will not have me return as his wife and equal, I can never go
"For the sake of your child, Amanda, you should be willing to bear
"My child shall not grow, up and see her mother degraded."
"She is his child as well as yours. Do not forget that," said Mrs.
Edmondson. "And it is by no means certain that he will permit you to
retain the possession of an object so dear to him."
The face of Mrs. Lane instantly flushed at this, a suggestion which
had not before been presented to her mind.
"Did he refer to this subject in conversing with your husband?"
inquired Amanda, with forced calmness.
"What did he say?"
"That, in any event, he could not and would not be separated from
his child. And you know, Amanda, that the law will give to him its
"The law!" There was a huskiness in Mrs. Lane's voice.
"Yes, Amanda, the law. It is well for you to view this matter in all
its relations. The law regards the father as the true guardian of
the child. If, therefore, you separate yourself from your husband,
you must expect to bear a separation from your child; for that will
be most likely to follow."
"Did he speak of the law?" asked Mrs. Lane, in a still calmer voice,
and with a steady eye.
"It would not be right to conceal from you this fact, Amanda. He did
do so. And can you wholly blame him? It is his child as well as
yours. He loves it, as you well know; and, as its father, he is
responsible for it to society and to Heaven. This separation is your
act. You may deprive him of your own society; but, have you a right,
at the same time, to rob him of his child? I speak plainly; I would
not be your friend did I not do so. Try, for a little while, to look
away from yourself, and think of your husband; and especially of the
consequences likely to arise to your child from your present act. It
will not be a mere separation with passive endurance of pain on
either side. There will come the prolonged effort of the father to
recover his child, and the anguish and fear of the mother, as she
lives in the constant dread of having it snatched from her hands.
And that must come, inevitably, the final separation. You will have
to part from your child, Amanda, if not in the beginning, yet
finally. You know your husband to be of a resolute temper Do not
give him a chance to press you to extremity. If he should come to
the determination to recover his child from your hands, he will not
stop short of any means to accomplish his purpose."
Mrs. Lane made no reply to this; nor did she answer to any further
remark, appeal, or suggestion of her friend, who soon ceased to
speak on the subject and left her to her own reflections, hoping
that they might lead her to some better purpose than had yet
influenced her in the unhappy business. On the day after, Mr.
Edmondson met Lane in the street.
"I was about calling to see you," said the latter, "on the subject
of this unhappy difficulty, to which, so reluctantly to yourself,
you have become a party. It may be that I am something to blame.
Perhaps I have been too exacting--too jealous of my prerogative as a
husband. At any rate, I am willing to admit that such has been the
case; and willing to yield something to the morbid feelings of my
wife. What is her present state of mind?"
Mr. Edmondson looked surprised.
Remarking this, Lane said quickly, "Is she not at your house?"
"No," replied Mr. Edmondson, "she left us yesterday. We believed
that she had gone home. My wife had a long conversation with her, in
which she urged her, by every consideration, to return; and we had
reason to think, when she left our house, that she went back to
"Such is not the case," said Mr. Lane, with disappointment, and
something of sadness in his tone. "I have not seen her since the
morning of our unhappy difference. Where can she have gone?"
Mr. Edmondson was silent.
"Did she say that she was going to return home?" asked Mr. Lane.
"No. But we had reason to think that such was her intention. Have
you heard nothing from her?"
"Not a word."
"It is strange!"
Mr. Lane heaved a deep sigh. A few more brief questions and answers
passed, and then the two men separated. The forsaken husband went
home with a sadder heart than he had yet known. The absence of his
wife and child for several days--both objects of real affection--and
absent under such peculiar and trying circumstances, had subdued, to
a great extent, his angry feelings. He was prepared to yield much.
He would even have gone to his wife, and acknowledged that he was
partly in error, in order to have brought about a reconciliation.
Something that she had said during their last, exciting interview,
which he had rejected as untrue, or not causes of complaint, had
represented themselves to his mind; and in the sober reflecting
states that were predominant, he saw that he had not in all things
treated her as an equal, nor regarded her at all times as possessing
a rational freedom as independent as his own. Though he did not
excuse her conduct, he yet thought of it less angrily than at first,
and was willing to yield something in order to restore the old
Anxiety and alarm now took possession of his mind. The distance
between them had become wider, and the prospect of a reconciliation
more remote. Amanda had gone, he could not tell whither. She had
neither money nor friends; he knew not into what danger she might
fall, nor what suffering she might encounter. It was plain from the
manner of her leaving the house of Mr. Edmondson, that her
resolution to remain away from him was fixed. He must, therefore,
seek her out, and invite her to return. He must yield if he would
reconcile this sad difficulty. And he was now willing to do so. But,
where was she? Whither should he go in search of the wanderer?
The very means which her friend had taken to induce Mrs. Lane to
return to her husband, had driven her farther away. The hint
touching her husband's legal rights in the child, and his resolution
to assert them, filled her with the deepest alarm, and determined
her to put it beyond his power, if possible, to deprive her of the
only thing in life to which her heart could now cling. Toward her
husband, her feelings were those of an oppressed one for an
oppressor. From the beginning, he had almost suffocated her own life
by his pressure upon her freedom of will. She remembered, with,
tears, his tenderness and his love; but soon would come the
recollection of his constant interference in matters peculiarly her
own; his evident contempt for her intellect; and his final efforts
to subdue her rising independence, and make her little less than a
domestic slave--and the fountain of her tears would become dry.
Added to all this, was the fact of his resolution to recover his
child by law. This crushed out all hope from her heart. He had no
affection left for her. His love had changed to hate. He had assumed
toward her the attitude of a persecutor. Nothing was now left for
her but self-protection.
In leaving the home of her husband, Mrs. Lane had exercised no
forethought. She made no estimate of consequences, and provided for
no future contingencies. She was blind in her faint-heartedness,
that was little less than despair. Any thing was better than to
remain in a state of submission, that had become, she felt,
intolerable. Leaving thus, Mrs. Lane had taken with her nothing
beyond a few dollars in her purse, and it was only an accident that
her purse was in her pocket. All her own clothes and those of her
child, except what they had on, were left behind.
Alarmed at the threat of her husband, Mrs. Lane, a few hours after
the conversation with Mrs. Edmondson, in which his views were made
known to her, took her child and went away. In parting with her
friend, she left upon her mind the impression that she was going
home. This was very far from her intention. Her purpose was to leave
New York, the city of her residence, as quickly as possible, and
flee to some obscure village, where she would remain hidden from her
husband. She had resided, some years before, for a short time in
Philadelphia; and thither she resolved to go, and from thence reach
some point in the country. On leaving the house of her friend, Mrs.
Lane hurried to the river and took passage in the afternoon line for
As the cars began their swift movement from Jersey City, a feeling
of inexpressible sadness came over her, and she began to realize
more distinctly than she had yet done, her desolate, destitute, and
helpless condition. After paying her passage, she had only two
dollars left in her purse; and, without money, how was she to gain
friends and shelter in a strange city? To add to her unhappy
feelings, her child commenced asking for her father.
"Where is papa?" she would repeat every few minutes. "I want to go
to my papa."
This was continued until it ended in fretfulness and complaints at
the separation it was enduring. Tears and sobs followed; and,
finally, the child wept herself to sleep.
A new train of feelings was awakened by this incident. In leaving
her husband, Mrs. Lane had thought only of herself. She had not once
considered the effect of a separation from its father upon her
child. Little Mary's heart was full of affection for the two beings
whom nature prompted her to love. Her father's return from business
had always been to her the happiest event of the day; and, when she
sprang into his arms, her whole being would thrill with delight.
Days had passed since she had seen her father, and she was pining to
meet him again to lay her head upon his bosom--to feel his arms
clasped tightly around her.
All this was realized by the mother, as the child lay sleeping on
her arm, while the swift rolling cars bore them farther and farther
away from the home she was leaving. Is it just to the child?
Distinctly did this thought present itself in her mind. For a long
time she mused over it, her feelings all the while growing more and
more tender, until something like repentance for the step she had
taken found its way into her mind--not for what she was herself
suffering, but for the sake of her child. She had not thought of the
effect upon little Mary, until the pain of absence showed itself in
This idea arose clearly before her--she could not push it aside;
and, the more she pondered it, the more troubled did she become,
from a new source. Would not the separation so deeply afflict the
child as to rob her of all happiness?
While these thoughts had full possession of the mother's mind, Mary
slept on and dreamed of her father, as was evident from the fact
that, more than once, she murmured his name.
When night came down, its effect upon Mrs. Lane was more sadly
depressing, for it brought her into a clearer realization of her
unhappy condition. Where was she going? What was the uncertain
future to bring forth? All was as dark as the night that had closed
At length the cars reached Bristol, and it became necessary to leave
them, and pass into the boat. In lifting Mary in her arms, to bear
her from the cars, the child again murmured the name of her father,
which so affected Mrs. Lane, that her tears gushed forth in spite of
her efforts to restrain them. Letting her veil fall over her face to
conceal this evidence of affliction from her fellow-passengers, she
proceeded with the rest; and, in a little while, was gliding swiftly
down the river. It was ten o'clock when they arrived in
Philadelphia. For an hour previous to this time, the mind of the
fugitive had been busy in the effort to determine what course she
should take on gaining the end of her journey. But the nearer she
came to its termination, the more confused did she become, and the
less clearly did she see the way before her. Where should she go on
reaching the city? There as no one to receive her; no one to whom
she could go and claim protection, or even shelter.
This state of irresolution continued until the boat touched the
wharf, and the passengers were leaving. Mary was awake again, and
kept asking, every few moments, to go home.
"Yes, dear, we will go home," the mother would reply, in a tone of
encouragement, while her own mind was in the greatest uncertainty
"Why don't papa come?" asked the child, as one after another moved
away, and they were left standing almost alone. At this moment, an
Irishman, with a whip in his hand, came up, and said--
"Want a carriage, ma'am?"
Mrs. Lane hesitated a moment or two, while she thought hurriedly,
and then replied--
"Very well, ma'am; I'll attend to you. Where is your baggage?"
"I have only this basket with me."
"Ah! well; come along." And Mrs. Lane followed the man from the
"Where shall I drive you?" he asked, after she had entered the
There was a pause, with apparent irresolution.
"I am a stranger here," said Mrs. Lane innocently. "I want to obtain
pleasant accommodations for a day or two. Can you take me to a good
"Faith, and I can--as good as the city will afford. Do you wish one
of the tip-top places, where they charge a little fortune a week; or
a good comfortable home at a reasonable price?"
"I want a comfortable, retired place, where the charges are not
"Exactly; I understand."
And the driver closed the door, and, mounting his box, drove off. At
the end of ten minutes the carriage stopped, the steps were let
down, and Mrs. Lane, after descending, was shown into a small
parlour, with dingy furniture. A broad, red-faced Irish woman soon
appeared, at the summons of the driver.
"I've brought you a lady customer, Mrs. McGinnis, d'ye see? And
you're just the one to make her at home and comfortable. She's a
stranger, and wants a quiet place for a day or two."
"And, in troth, she'll find it here, as ye well say, John Murphy.
Will the lady put off her bonnet? We'll have her room ready in a
jiffy! Much obleeged to yees, John Murphy, for remembering us. What
a darlint of a child; bless its little heart!"
"What must I pay you?" asked Mrs. Lane, hoarsely, turning to the
"One dollar, ma'am," was replied.
Mrs. Lane drew forth her purse, towards which the Irishwoman glanced
eagerly, and took therefrom the sum charged, and paid the man, who
immediately retired. The landlady followed him out, and stood
conversing with him at the door for several minutes. When she
returned, she was less forward in her attentions to her guest, and
somewhat inquisitive as to who she was, where she had come from, and
whither she was going. All these Mrs. Lane evaded, and asked to have
her room prepared as quickly as possible, as she did not feel very
well, and wished to retire. The room was at length ready, and she
went up with little Mary, who had again fallen to sleep. It was
small, meagerly furnished, and offensive from want of cleanliness.
In turning down the bed clothes, she found the sheets soiled and
rumpled, showing that the linen had not been changed since being
used by previous lodgers. The first thing that Mrs. Lane did, after
laying her sleeping child upon the bed, was to sit down and weep
bitterly. The difficulties about to invest her, as they drew nearer
and nearer, became more and more apparent; and her heart sank and
trembled as she looked at the unexpected forms they were assuming.
But a single dollar remained in her purse; and she had an
instinctive conviction that trouble with the landlady on account of
money was before her. Had she been provided with the means of
independence, she would have instantly called a servant, and
demanded a better room, and fresh linen for her bed; but, under the
circumstances, she dared not do this. She had a conviction that the
Irishwoman was already aware of her poverty, and that any call for
better accommodations would be met by insult. It was too late to
seek for other lodgings, even if she knew where to go, and were not
burdened with a sleeping child.
Unhappy fugitive! How new and unexpected were the difficulties that
already surrounded her! How dark was the future! dark as that old
Egyptian darkness that could be felt. As she sat and wept, the folly
of which she was guilty in the step she had taken presented itself
distinctly before her mind, and she wondered at her own blindness
and want of forethought. Already, in her very first step, she had
got her feet tangled. How she was to extricate them she could not
Wearied at last with grief and fear, her mind became exhausted with
its own activity. Throwing herself upon the bed beside her child,
without removing her clothes, she was soon lost in sleep. Daylight
was stealing in, when the voice of little Mary awakened her.
"Where's papa?" asked the child, and she looked with such a sad
earnestness into her mother's face, that the latter felt rebuked,
and turned her eyes away from those of her child. "Want to go home,"
lisped the unhappy babe--"see papa."
"Yes, dear," soothingly answered the mother.
Little Mary turned her eyes to the door with an expectant look, as
if she believed her father, whom she loved, was about to enter, and
listened for some moments.
"Papa! papa!" she called in anxious tones, and listened again; but
there was no response. Her little lip began to quiver, then it
curled grievingly; and, falling over, she hid her face against her
mother and began sobbing.
Tenderly did the mother take her weeping child to her bosom, and
hold it there in a long embrace. After it had grown calm she arose,
and adjusting her rumpled garments, and those of Mary, sat down by
the windows to await the events that were to follow. In about half
an hour a bell was rung in the passage below, and soon after a girl
came to her room to say that breakfast was ready.
"I wish my breakfast brought to me here," said Mrs. Lane.
The girl stared a moment and then retired. Soon after, the Irish
landlady made her appearance.
"What is it ye wants, mum?" said that personage, drawing herself up
and assuming an air of vulgar dignity and importance.
"Nothing," replied Mrs. Lane, "except a little bread and milk for my
"Isn't yees coming down to breakfast?"
Mrs. Lane shook her head.
"Ye'd better. It's all ready."
"I don't wish any thing. But if you'll send me up something for my
child, I will be obliged to you."
The landlady stood for some moments, as if undecided what she should
do, and then retired. About half an hour afterwards, a dirty looking
Irish girl appeared with a waiter, on which were the articles for
which she had asked.
"Don't ye want any thing for yerself, mum?" asked the girl, with
some kindness in her voice.
"No, I thank you," was replied.
"You'd better eat a little."
"I've no appetite," said Mrs. Lane, turning her face away to conceal
the emotion that was rising to the surface.
The girl retired, and the food brought for the child was placed
before her; but she felt as little inclined to eat as her mother,
and could not be induced to take a mouthful. Turning from the
offered food, she raised her tearful eyes to her mother's face, and
in a choking voice said--"Go home, mamma--see papa."
The words smote, like heavy strokes, upon the mother's heart. How
great a wrong had she done her child! But could she retrace her
steps now? Could she go back and humble herself under the imperious
will of her husband? Her heart shrunk from the thought. Any thing
but that! it would crush the life out of her. An hour she sat, with
these and kindred thoughts passing through her mind, when the girl
who had brought up Mary's breakfast came in and said--"Won't yees
walk down into the parlour, mum, while I clean up your room?"
"Is any one down there?" asked Mrs. Lane.
"No, mum," was answered by the girl.
With some reluctance Mrs. Lane descended to the small, dingy
parlour, which she found adjoining a bar-room, whence there came the
loud voices of men. From a window she looked forth upon the street,
which was narrow, and crowded with carts, drays, and other vehicles.
Opposite were old houses, in which business of various kinds was
carried on. One was occupied by a cooper; another used as a
storehouse for fish; another for a grog-shop. Every thing was dirty
and crowded, and all appeared bustle and confusion. It was plain to
her that she had fallen in an evil place, and that her first
business must be escape. As she sat meditating upon the next step,
there came suddenly, from the bar-room, the sound of angry voices,
mingled with fierce threats and shocking blasphemy. Springing to her
feet in terror, Mrs. Lane caught up her child, and was about
starting from the door without any covering upon her head, when the
landlady intercepted her.
"What's the matter with yees? Where are ye going?"
With quivering lips, and face white with alarm, Mrs. Lane
replied--"Oh, ma'am! get me my things and let me go."
"Ye can go when ye pays yer bill, in welcome," replied the woman.
"How much is it?"
"It's a dollar and a half."
The Irishwoman looked steadily at Mrs. Lane, and saw, by the change
in her countenance, what she had expected, that she had not as much
money in her possession.
"Won't a dollar pay you?" asked Mrs. Lane, after standing with her
eyes upon the floor for some moments. "I've had nothing but my
night's lodging and surely a dollar will pay for that."
"Indade and it won't, then! Sure, and yer breakfast was got. If ye
didn't ate it, I'm not to fault.
"Here is a dollar," said Mrs. Lane, taking out her purse. "I'm sure
it's full pay for all I've received."
"And d'ye mane to call me an ould chate, ye spalpeen, ye!"
indignantly replied the landlady, her face growing red with anger,
while she raised her huge fist and shook it at her terrified guest,
who retreated back into the parlour, and sank, trembling, into a
"As if I wasn't an honest woman," continued the virago, following
Mrs. Lane. "As if I'd extort on a lone woman! Give me patience! When
ye pays the dollar and a half, ye can go; but not a foot shall ye
take from my door until then."
A scuffle took place in the bar-room at that moment, attended by a
new eruption of oaths and imprecations.
Quickly sprinting from her chair, Mrs. Lane, with Mary in her arms,
glided from the room, and ran panting up-stairs to her chamber, the
door of which she locked behind her on entering.
Half an hour of as calm reflection as it was possible for Mrs. Lane
to make brought her to the resolution to leave the house at all
hazards. Where she was to go, was to be an afterthought. The
greatest evil was to remain; after escaping that, she would consider
the means of avoiding what followed. Putting on her bonnet and
shawl, and taking her basket, she went down-stairs with her child,
determined, if possible, to get away unobserved, and after doing so,
to send back, by any means that offered, the only dollar she
possessed in the world to the landlady. No one met her on the
stairs, and she passed the parlour-door unobserved. But, alas! the
street-door was found locked and the key withdrawn. After a few
ineffectual attempts to open it, Mrs. Lane went into the parlour,
and, standing there, debated for some moments whether she should
leave the house by passing through the bar-room, or wait for another
opportunity to get away by the private en-trance. While still
bewildered and undetermined the landlady came in from the bar-room.
The moment she saw her guest, she comprehended the purpose in her
"Where are ye going?" said she in a quick sharp voice, the blood
rising to her coarse sensual face.
"I am going to leave your house," replied Mrs. Lane, in as firm a
voice as she could command. As she spoke she drew forth her purse,
and taking out the solitary dollar it contained,
added--"Unfortunately, this is all the money I have with me, but I
will send you the other half-dollar."
But the landlady refused to take the proffered money, and replied,
"A purty how d'you do, indeed, to come into a genteel body's house,
and then expect to get off without paying your bill. But ye don't
know Biddy McGinnis--ye don't! If yees wants to go paceable, pay the
dollar and a half. But until this is done, ye shall not cross my
"I can't stay here! What good will it do?" said Mrs. Lane, wringing
her hand. "It's all the money I've got; and remaining won't increase
the sum, while it adds to the debt. Better let me go now."
"Indade, and ye'll not go, thin, my lady! I'll tache yees to come
into a respectable body's house without as much money in yer pocket
as 'll pay for the night's lodging. I wonder who ye are, any how! No
better than ye should be, I'll warrint!"
While speaking, the Irishwoman had drawn nearer and nearer, and now
stood with her face only a few inches from that of her distressed
guest, who, bursting into tears, clasped her hands together, and
"Let me go! let me go! If you have the heart of a woman, let me go!"
"Heart of a woman, indade!" returned Mrs. McGinnis, indignantly.
"Yer a purty one to talk to me about the heart of a woman. Stalein
into a body's house at twelve o'clock at night, and thin tryin' to
go off without paying for the lodgings and breakfast. Purty doings!"
"What's the matter here?" said a well dressed man, stepping in from
the bar-room and closing the door behind him. "What do you mean by
talking to the lady in this way, Mrs. McGinnis? I've been listening
There was an instant change in the Irishwoman. Her countenance fell,
and she retreated a few steps from the object of her vituperation.
"What's all this about? I should like to know," added the man in a
decided way. "Will you explain, madam?" addressing Mrs. Lane, in a
kind voice. "But you are agitated. Sit down and compose yourself."
"Let her pay me my money, that's all I want," muttered the landlady.
In a moment the man's purse was drawn from his pocket. "What does
she owe you?"
"A dollar and a half, bad luck till her!"
"There's your money, you old termagant!" And the man handed her the
amount. "And now, as you are paid, and have nothing more to say to
this lady, please to retire and let her be freed from your
"Yees needint call me ill names, Misther Bond," said the woman, in a
subdued voice, as she retired. "It doesn't become a jentilman like
you. I didn't mane any harm. I only wanted my own, and sure I've a
right to that."
"Well, you've got your own, though not in a way that does either you
or your house much credit," returned the man. "The next time you are
so fortunate as to get a lady in your hotel, I hope you'll know
better how to treat her."
Mrs. McGinnis retired without further remark, and the man turned to
Mrs. Lane, and said, in a kind, respectful manner,
"I am sorry to find you so unhappily situated, and will do any thing
in my power to relieve you from your present embarrassment. Your
landlady here is a perfect virago. How did you happen to fall into
Encouraged by the kindness of the man's address, as well as from the
fact that he had rescued her from a violent woman, Mrs. Lane, after
composing herself, said--
"I came in from New York last night, and, being a stranger, asked
the cabman to take me to a good hotel. He brought me here. I
happened to have but two dollars in my purse, he charged one for
"Finding into what a wretched place he had brought me, I wished to
leave this morning, but have been prevented because I could not pay
a dollar and a half when I had only a dollar. I told her to let me
go, and I would send her the balance claimed; but she only met the
proposition by insult."
"The wretch!" exclaimed the man, indignantly. "I happened to be
passing, and, hearing her loud voice, glanced in at the window. In
an instant I comprehended, to some extent, the difficulty; and,
knowing her of old, came in to see if something were not wrong. She
is a bad woman, and her house is a snare for the innocent. It is
fortunate for you that I came at the right moment!"
Mrs. Lane shuddered.
"And now, madam," said the man, "what can I do for you? Have you
friends in the city?"
"I am an entire stranger here," replied Mrs. Lane.
"Were you going farther?
"Yes," was answered after some hesitation.
"Where do your friends reside?"
"In New York."
"This is your child?" was said, after a pause.
There was something in the man's manner, and in the way he looked at
her, that now made Mrs. Lane shrink from, as instinctively as she
had at first leaned towards him. Beneath his steady eye her own
drooped and rested for some moments on the floor.
"Is your husband in New York?" pursued the man.
This question caused the heart of Mrs. Lane to bound with a sudden
throb. Her husband! She had deserted him, her natural and lawful
protector, and already she was encompassed with difficulties and
surrounded by dangers. What would she not at that moment have given
to be safely back in the home she had left? To the last question she
gave a simple affirmative.
"Where do you wish to go when you leave here?" inquired the man, who
had perceived a change in her and understood its nature.
"I wish to be taken to a good hotel, where I can remain a day or
two, until I have time to communicate with my friends. My being out
of money is owing to an inadvertence. I will receive a supply
immediately on writing home."
The man drew his purse from his pocket, and, presenting it, said--
"This is at your service. Take whatever you need."
Mrs. Lane thanked him, but drew back.
"Only get me into some safe place, until I can write to my friends,"
said she, "and you would lay both them and me under the deepest
The man arose at this, and stepping into the bar room, desired the
bar-keeper to send for a carriage. From a stand near by one was
called. When it came to the door, he informed Mrs. Lane of the fact,
and asked if she were ready to go.
"Where will you take me?" she asked.
"To the United States Hotel," replied the man. "You could not be in
a safer or better place."
On hearing this, Mrs. Lane arose without hesitation, and, going from
the house, entered the carriage with the man, and was driven away.
Drawing her veil over her face, she shrank into a corner of the
vehicle, and remained in sad communion with her own thoughts for
many minutes. From this state of abstraction, the stopping of the
carriage aroused her. The driver left his seat and opened the door,
when her companion stepped forth, saying as he did so--
"This is the place," and offering at the same time his hand.
As Mrs. Lane descended to the street, she glanced with a look of
anxious inquiry around her. Already a suspicion that all might not
be right was disturbing her mind. Two years before she had been in
Philadelphia, and had stayed several days at the United States
Hotel. She remembered the appearance of the building and the street,
but now she did not recognise a single object. All was strange.
"Is this the United States Hotel?" she asked eagerly.
"Oh, yes, ma'am," was the smiling reply. "We are at the private
Her bewildered mind was momentarily deceived by this answer, and she
permitted herself to be led into a house, which she soon discovered
not to be an hotel. The most dreadful suspicions instantly seized
her. So soon as she was shown into. a parlour, the man retired. A
woman came in shortly afterwards, who, from her appearance, seemed
to be the mistress of the house. She spoke kindly to Mrs. Lane, and
asked if she would walk up into her room.
"There has been some mistake," said the poor wanderer, her lips
quivering in spite of her efforts to assume a firm exterior.
"Oh, no, none at all," quickly replied the woman, smiling.
"Yes, yes there is. I am not in the hotel where I wished to go. Why
have I been brought here? Where is the man with whom I came?"
"He has gone away; but will return again. In the mean time do not
causelessly distress yourself. You are safe from all harm."
"But I am not where I wished to go," replied Mrs. Lane. "Will you be
kind enough to give me the direction of the United States Hotel, and
I will walk there with my child."
The woman shook her head.
"I could not permit you to go until Mr. Bond returned," said she.
"He brought you here, and will expect to find you when he comes
"I will not remain." And as she said this in a firm voice, Mrs. Lane
arose, and, taking her little girl in her arms, made an attempt to
move through the door into the passage. But the woman stepped before
her quickly, and in a mild, yet decided way, told her that she could
not leave the house.
"Why not?" asked the trembling creature.
"Mr. Bond has placed you in my care, and will expect to find you on
his return," answered the woman.
"Who is Mr. Bond? What right has he to control my movements?"
"Did you not place yourself in his care?" inquired the woman. "I
understood him to say that such was the case."
"He offered to protect me from wrong and insult."
"And, having undertaken to do so, he feels himself responsible to
your friends for your safe return to their hands. I am responsible
"Deceived! deceived! deceived!" murmured Mrs. Lane, bursting into
tears and sinking into a chair, while she hugged her child tightly
in her arms, and laid its face against her own.
The woman seemed slightly moved at this exhibition of distress, and
stood looking at the quivering frame of the unhappy fugitive, with a
slight expression of regret on her face. After Mrs. Lane had grown
calm, the woman said to her:
"Is your husband living?"
"He is," was answered, in a steady voice.
"Where does he reside?" continued the woman.
"In New York," replied Mrs. Lane.
"What is his name?"
Mrs. Lane reflected, hurriedly, for some moments, and then gave a
correct answer, adding, at the same time, that for any attempted
wrong, there would come a speedy and severe retribution. The next
inquiry of the woman was as to her husband's occupation, which was
also answered correctly.
"And now," added Mrs. Lane, with assumed firmness, "you had better
let me retire from this place immediately, and thus avoid trouble,
which, otherwise, you would be certain to have. My husband is a
merchant of influence, and a man who will not stop at half measures
in seeking to redress a wrong. This man, whoever he may be, who has
so basely deceived me, will find, ere long, that he has done an act
which will hot go unpunished, and that severely. As for yourself, be
warned in time, and let me go from this place."
Again Mrs. Lane sought to pass from the room, but was prevented. The
woman was neither harsh, rude, nor insulting in her manner, but
firmly refused to let her leave the house, saying--"I am responsible
for your safe keeping, and cannot, therefore, let you go."
She then urged her to go up-stairs and lay off her things, but Mrs.
Lane refused, in the most positive manner, to leave the parlour.
"You will be more comfortable in the chamber we have prepared for
you," said the woman, coldly; "but you must do as you like. If you
want any thing, you can ring for it."
And saying this, she turned from the room, and locked the door
through which she retired. The instant she was gone, Mrs. Lane
sprang towards one of the front windows, threw it up and attempted
to draw the bolt which fastened the shutter; but her effort was not
successful: the bolt remained immovable. On a closer inspection, she
found that it was locked. The back window was open, but a glance
into the yard satisfied her that it would be useless to attempt
escape in that way. Hopeless in mind and paralyzed in body, she
again sank down inactive.
Little Mary, who had been left standing on the floor during this
effort to escape, now came up to where she had thrown herself upon a
sofa, and, laying her little face upon her breast, looked tearfully
at her, and said, in a low, sorrowful voice--"Won't papa come? I
want my papa--my dear papa."
Not a word could the mother reply to her unhappy child, who, in her
folly, she had so wronged. Oh, what would she not have given at that
moment to see the face of her husband!
Five or six hours had passed. In a small sitting room, near the
parlour in which Mrs. Lane was still a prisoner, stood the man named
Bond, and the woman who had received her.
"Mrs. Lane did you say she called herself?" said the man, with a
sudden change of manner--"and from New York?"
"Did you inquire her husband's business?"
"She said he was a merchant of standing, and threatened both you and
me with the severest consequences, if she were not instantly
"Can it be possible!" remarked the man, and he stood in a musing
attitude for some time. "I'm a little afraid this affair is not
going to turn out quite so pleasantly as I at first supposed. I
think I know her husband."
"Yes. We have had several business transactions together, if he is
the individual I suppose him to be."
"Then you had better get her off of your hands as quickly as
possible; and this will be no hard matter. Only open the cage-door,
and the bird will fly."
"Confound that Irish huzzy! She and her John Murphy have scared up a
nice bit of adventure for me."
"Both you and they ought to have known better than to expect any
thing but trouble from a woman with a baby. As it is, the best thing
for you is to get her off of your hands forthwith."
"I don't like to give up after progressing so far. It isn't my
"A wise man foresees evil, and gets out of its way."
"True; and my better course is to step aside, I suppose. But what
shall we do with her?"
"Open the cage-door, as I said, and let her escape."
"Where will she go?"
"Have you any concern on that head?"
"Some. Moreover, I don't just comprehend the meaning of her visit
here alone at night, and without money. I wonder if, after all,
there isn't a lover in the case, who has failed to meet her."
"Most likely," returned the woman.
"In that event, why may not I take his place?"
"It will require her consent. Better have nothing more to do with
her, and thus keep out of the way of trouble.
"Her husband, if she be the wife of the man I think she is," said
Bond, "will hardly stop at half-way measures in an affair like
"So much the more reason for keeping out of his way."
"Perhaps so; and yet I like adventure, especially when spiced with a
little danger. Upon second thought, I'll let her remain here until
"Just as you like. But I've been unable to get her up-stairs; and
she can't stay in the parlour all night."
"No. She must go to the chamber you have prepared for her."
"How will we get her there?"
"Use every effort you can to induce her to comply with our wishes in
this respect. I will come in after nightfall, and, if you have not
been successful, will remove her by force."
With this understanding, the partners in evil separated.
Soon after parting with Mr. Edmondson, who had informed Mr. Lane
that his wife was no longer at his house, and when the latter had
begun to feel exceedingly anxious, he met a gentleman who said to
him, "When do you expect Mrs. Lane back?"
It was with difficulty that the deserted husband could refrain from
the exhibition of undue surprise at such an unexpected question.
"I was over the river yesterday afternoon with a friend who was on
his way to Philadelphia," added the man, "and saw your lady in the
"Good morning," said Mr. Lane, as he looked at his watch, and then
turned away with a hurried manner.
It was half-past eleven o'clock. At twelve a line started for the
South. Lane was on board the steamboat when it left the dock. Six
hours and a half of most intense anxiety were passed ere the unhappy
man reached Philadelphia. On arriving, he took a carriage and
visited all the principal hotels, but not a word could he hear of
his wife. He then bethought him to make some inquiries of the
hackman whom he had employed.
"Were you at the wharf last night when the New York line came in?"
he asked, as he stood with his hand on the carriage-door, after
leaving one of the hotels, again disappointed in his search.
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