Mrs. Edward Leigh
FIRESIDE SOLILOQUY-APPLES AND CHESTNUTS
What a delightful night it is, and how comfortable I am! It is just cold enough to enjoy the small fire which is blazing on the hearth; and how cozy those two apples and that handful of chestnuts look roasting there! They were placed there by tiny hands, for Mother and Father to eat before going to sleep; but Father has not come home yet. We are not rich, and he must work to support his darlings. It will be two hours before the office closes, and if I do not find something to employ my mind, I must eat the apples before he comes, and then he will be certain to laugh at me, and say I am selfish, and I cannot bear that, for the truth will hurt.
I am lonely now. Little feet have been dancing over the floor, sweet voices have been singing "I want to be an Angel", and then little knees were bent, and a prayer wafted to the throne of God, for all mankind, and Mother and Father; the good-night kiss was given, and with "Mother don't eat Father's apple", the precious eyes closed for the night. God bless my children! I bend over them now; how sweetly they are sleeping! One is smiling. I wonder what she is thinking about! if it is Mother, or if an Angel is whispering words of love, too sweet for any mortal, except a child, to hear.
What shall I do to amuse myself until Edward comes? I do not like to sew, although I have enough of it to do; and knitting is such lazy work, it really spoils me for everything else. It is too cold to go in the parlor to practice on my piano, and I cannot sit here and do nothing. I believe I will eat my apple. Ah! That suggests something to me. Those apples and chestnuts were sent to me by an old beau of mine. How Neddy will laugh when I tell him about it, ha! ha! ha! I should like to know if he ever thinks of our grand flirtation.
I believe I will write about it, and have the book published. I imagine it would take. No. I cannot write a book, but I am certain I can write a confession of some of the misdeeds of my early life. Yes, I will, for Neddy to read when he comes home.
I am sure he would like my confessions very much. Although he does not like to see me too attentive to any of my old flames now, it amuses him to hear of things that happened long before he could claim me as all his own. I tell him he is rather jealous, which fact he does not deny: but gives me, as candy after the vinegar, a little flattery, and says his wife is so good-looking, fascinating, accomplished, and sweet, he cannot blame any one for falling in love with her even now.
How I have blinded him. It is impossible for him to see things as they are about the house, except when I am not dressed to suit his fastidious taste, and he sees that quick enough. He says that homespun is entirely too heavy for his darling dainty wife to wear, and if calicoes are twenty dollars per yard instead of fifteen, that I shall have them as I prefer them to silk. I believe if I was to tell him I would rather have silk, he would buy it, and go without a new coat and pants two or three years. He is such a goose about me; and how I love him for it! I look back with perfect horror upon my early life, and even upon the few short years of my first marriage, for Neddy is not my first husband.
And now let me moralize a little. Will this confession do my children any good? Not yet I own, although one already shows, that she, at least, has inherited her Mother's flirting propensities. In future years, I am sure it will, and it may do other people's children some good now. It cannot fail to interest even the young, giddy girl, for I will try and relate as many amusing incidents as I can remember, if my present happiness has not blotted them all from my memory.
Men are called flirts much oftener than women, for womanly modesty, and the rules of society, forbid that we should approach the subject of love and marriage, except during leap year. While men are allowed the privilege of visiting a girl for months, enlisting her young, and pure affections, by their acts, and without saying a word, are allowed to leave, and let her mourn the wreck of all hopes, and perchance to marry the first straggler who comes along, just to show the man, who perhaps would not care if she should marry a vagrant, that she could easily get a husband. Although in his very soul he thinks she was obliged to love him if she had any taste at all.
Plague take the men! how I hate them! All except my Edward; and he is something more than a man.
How in the world did it happen that he fancied me? I never will account for it. I was a poor pitiful object, almost heart-broken, with three children, just about as spoiled as children ever get to be. My health was wretched, and of course my temper worse, and yet, he says, he saw jerms of great intellect, and a kind, loving heart, that judicious training, and kind treatment, would bring to the surface.
And, kind reader, how do you think he went to work to train and treat me? The morning after our marriage, he went to see my first husband's Mother, who is a good, kind soul, and told her that he thought I needed a change of air for a month or two, and that it would be impossible for me in my delicate state of health, to travel with three children, would she be kind enough to take charge of the oldest two, and I would take the youngest with me. He knew I would not be parted from that child, my noble boy, for even a day. Mrs. King of course consented, for she knew that Edward was too disinterested to do such a thing, for selfish motives, and she could well see that my health really required a change of air.
Every one said he married me because I was rich, but they took all back when they found he had settled every cent of Mr. King's property, upon my three children, and my own little income upon myself.
That is one thing that makes Mrs. King think so much of him, and I believe she really has an idea that he is something more than mortal, for such a thing as that is unprecedented in her family. They are all kind and good enough, but I never heard of a real noble act of one of them in my life. Are you not tired of hearing about my husband, I will never get at my confessions if I do not commence them some time; but I must finish telling how he spoiled me. We left the two children with their Grand-Mother, and started off on our bridal tour. Dear Neddy knew how fond I was of all the gaieties of life, and so offered to take me to the Springs. But now, for the first time in my life, I felt as if I could enjoy a quiet day, with one person, much more than a gay season with the fops and butterflies of fashionable society. And so we went to a quiet spot, where we were all in all to each other, and there, with little Harry, we staid until I was quite well again, and oh! so happy!
Speaking of flirts, Edward is the greatest one I ever saw. I firmly believe he is flirting with me now, for he is just as much like a lover as he was the first day we were married, and that day was over two years ago.
I owned quite a comfortable house in Macon, to which I expected to return after our Summer trip was finished; but one day I chanced to say to Edward, that I never wished to spend another day in that house, if I could help it; that such recollections haunted the place, that I knew I could never be happy there.
"Poor darling", said he, "how you must have suffered there; never mind, when we get rich, you shall buy another". And there the subject was dropped.
The time soon came for us to return home, the carriage met us at the car shed, with its smiling driver, who was ordered to drive to Mr. Black's, who owned a beautiful cottage in the suburbs of the town. Edward wished to stop there on business he said, and he did not wish to leave me alone that day to call. What was my amazement to see both of my children at the gate, and quietly sitting in the shady piazza was Mrs. King, and Edward's Mother, looking as comfortable as possible. They both welcomed me kindly, and took me to a beautiful bed-room, and left me alone with my husband.
"Ella dear, how do you like your new home?"
I could say nothing. My overflowing heart, too full of happiness, must relieve itself, and weeping is the only way we women have for that; and I wept heartily.
"You said once Ella", said Edward, when he saw I was almost through my hysterics, as he called it, "that you were very glad you could give me a home. I am a little better off than you thought I was, but you shall not be disappointed in your disinterested wish. Here is a deed of gift for this house, the grounds around it, and also a pair of noble carriage horses, which I will show you after dinner. So, now dear, you can give me a home in your house, that is if you still wish it".
He had brought from the old place, only a few articles, that he knew would not recall former days. The rest of the furniture was all new. As Mrs. King was not in very good circumstances, Edward proposed that I should let her have the other house, free of rent, so long as she should live, to which I very gladly consented, for I really loved her, and she was devoted to my children.
And, now reader, how can I help being happy and contented, with a delightful home, kind friends around me, sweet children to love, and above all, a husband, who to me is, without doubt, "the noblest work of God". I have a study to which no one is admitted, except my husband, for he declares I must write, to show the world what a genius I am, and that I must not be interrupted while at my labors.
It is almost time for him to come home, and I have not even commenced my confessions. There, I did not finish about flirts. Men are great flirts, but women are still greater ones. That is a candid confession, coming from a woman; and now I will lay before the world my life, to shine a beacon to guide the young across the breakers of fashionable life, whereon many a poor soul has been wrecked. But God, in His great mercy, vouchsafed that I should pass safely through, though shattered and torn by the billows of fashionable flirtations.