|Chapter Number||3. VIII|
|Chapter Title||HARRIED LIFE.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Whatsoever a Man Soweth|
WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH.
BOOK III. — THE REAPING HARVEST. CHAPTER VIII. HARRIED LIFE. OF THE
And so tteece Meadowsere and Grace Mel vilie were married. The wedding was a quiet one, and took place as Warrydong, Attes Mabel ef oourse acting as bridesmaid. This young lady was naturally highly elated when Bhe saw the consummation of her hopes, and took no small oredit to herself for having besn instrumental in bringing the two together. Nor was tteeoe alow to appreciate the assist aace she had rendered him, and before leaving the station he asked her to name her oivn reward. Her reply <vaa characteristic. "Well," she said, with oharraing frank crees, " you are the handsomest gentleman have ever seen, Mr. Meadowsere ; and I am half in love with you myself. Suppose you give me a kiss ?" Reec3 lauzhed, though in soma confusion but Mabel reoeived her kiss and was satisfied. She afterwards returned it to Grace, "to save unpleasantness," she said ; but this was altogether unnuoessary, as Grace felt that Mabel had fully earned her reward, and she determined to invite her to Melbourne at no distant date, when perhaps it would be possible to repay in a more substantial form the debt she, as well as Reece, owed her, The Austins were serry to lose their governess, but yet rejoiced at the good fortune which had befallen ber. They had no mis givings as to the wisdom of the match, and prophesied a happy and prosperous future for both Reeoe and his wife. Their prophesy appeared likely to be realized, for as yet no oloud had risen to darken the brightneEB of Me&dowsere's wedded life, and already five years had passed. What events took place during this time have but little to do with this story. A ohild was born about two years after the marriage—a girl, and they oaiied it Grace. Meadowsere had wished it so, because his mother's name had bean Graoe, and so also was his wife's. Grace herself had somewhat demurred, aud wished to give the child some other name ; but Reeoe overruled ber objec tions, such as they were,and had his own way. This was the only time their wishes had been in opposition, and the nature of the disagreemeat was not of suffieient importance to call forth more than a serious but goed-tempered protest from Grace, and an equally good humoured, though none the ICSB tinn, deter mination on the part of Reeoe to oarry his point. Rbecs did not understand hie wife's dislike to the name he had ehosen, and she herself was unable to explain it; but in her heart she knew that it arose from a desire to forget a certain event in her life the remem braaoe of which was hateful to her. At times •he even wished that she had changed her Christian names. As, however, ~ rarely called her Grace, but almost invariably employed some pet phrase or other when addressing her, this mattered very little. But to have a child "Grace" was another thing, and Meadowsere soon found that though he had bad his wish be was expected to follow his wife's example and oall the baby " Telsie." When Graoe first yielded Meadowsers's entreaty, aud ptouiieed to be his wife, ehe fully intended making a fell avowal of her past relationship with Stephen Stornhill. But several days passed and nothing was said. She found it more diffionlt to speak than she expected, and told herself that she would wait just a little longer. Why should ehe not enjoy a brief period of happiness first? To-morrow, perhapg. she would tell him, or the next day, or maybe in a week's time. But day after day and week after week went by,
yet still on that one point she was silent. She would wait until they were married, ehe thought; it might be easier to make her confession when Raeoe was her husband. They were married, and no confession was made. Instead of growing easier her task had become mare difficult, and she began to wonder whether it would not be better to say nothing at all. What was the use of raking up that miserable story of her folly and weakness? What good purpose wonld it serve? None at all. Bstter to remain silent and be happy than to run the risk of bringing misery upon herself and Reece by an unnecessarv oonfeision. We can most of us reason thus when it suits us. Perhaps we have a certain duty to perform, and this duty is objectionable to us. We put it off from day to day, persuading ourselves that there is no hnrry; the matter will wait; and gradually this thought dissolves itself into another, t'll at length we nee with totally different eyes, and begin to die cover many reasons why we should not paraue the line of coaduot which before seemed the only right one open to us. To all persons the path of duty is at times an unpleasant one, and bow many are thero who do not occasionally Rhrink from oliowing it? Even though we ohoose the wrong course, we are never at a loss for excuses. If they do not oome readily to hand we invent them, and very often end by balieving them to be perfeody justified ; but the avoidance in life of all things disagreeable must eventually end in tbe blunting of our moral sensibilities. By attempting to eBcane the obligations which the mere fact of living imposes upon us we are pursuing course which, if persisted in, may end in crime. We do not like ta consider our conduct weak, much less dishonourable. We wish to think the best of ourselves and our motives; and by seizing bold of excuses, having little foundation save in our own imaginations, we Buoceed in doing eo. Thus we lose even the power of discriminating between right and wrong. Grace had not reached this stage, nor was she ever likely to reach it. She knew that in marrying Meadowsere without first acquaint icg him with her previous history she had wronged him, and she endeavoured to atone for this wrong by the wealth of love and tenderness ehe lavished upon him. Yet it seemed to her that in keeping her secret she had done what was bast for both of them; they had attained a height of happiness before undreamed of, whereas if Ryefs had been acquainted with that false step of beiB they might have dragged out an existence apart more bitter than death itself. But Grace's conscience was not altogether silenced, aod moments of doubt were not uukaown to her. She trembled at times even at her great happiness, and a fear Would come upon her that it oould not last. She did not deserve it, and some day it must all end. But this was mere fancy, and fuoh thoughts were not to be encouraged. Thev must be driven away ; and as nothing occurred to establish th? truth of her forebodings she found lest and le>s difficulty in ridding herself of them. Oa a certain morning, towards the olose of winter, she waited with a smiling face at the door of Reese's study, whieh she called to him to open. She carried a tray, ou which were oake, wine, and fruit, so that her hands were fuil. The years that had elapsed since her marriage had wrought one great change in her; she was no longer inclined to be melancholy, but the old sad expression of her face had given place to ous of undoubted happiness. As Mfiadowsere opened the door, r.nd stood a moment gazing at her, he oould hardly refrain from oomuiGnMntr upon her bright appearance, but he said instead, it lunch time already ?" " Already ! Well, I never—as if you hadn't been watcning the dock for an hour or more, and wishing for me to come in."
" There is nothing' like conceit," Reeoe said, as he toot the tray from her hands, kissing her as ho did so. " You take very good care that you don't leave im m peaoe for any length of time. Liu't that to':'' "Shall I go, sir?" auked Grace, with a eaucy toss of toe head. "Oh, of course,'' answered Reece, as he sank lazily into a huge armchair, drawing Grace with hioi. It was-Xleadowaere's custom to Bpend the whole of the morning in his stud}', where he either reid or wrote. Not even Graoe interrupted him till 11 o'clock, when Bhe Drought a ligtit luncheon, and remained in th» study with her husband tor exactly bait an hour. Reece never allowed her to outstay her time (chough this halt-hour irss to thdin OJtk the piua^autest naif-hour of the day), and Grace wii far too seaeiblo to interfere with Euch busiuess-like principles; especially when Rsece devoted the who e ot his afternoons to his wif6, and was in fact entirely at her back and c>;ll from the moment he pat aside bis work till he again touk it up ou the following day. Meadoivsere was a man who thought tUali all wives were entitled to a certain Hh&re of their husbands' time, and as Graue found littla pleasure away from him the two quickiy became known amooget their friends as "the inseparables." Husbands aud wives aa a rule are not so foad of eaoh other's company as to desire to speud the w&oie of their epure time together, aad with most ptojj'.ti tli» aooption ot Meadowsere's pli»u of liio might hare resulted in discord and disaster. The honeymoon over, marrifid life often resolves itself into a very " humdrum" sort of an existence. There is too much of the " mauhine" aspect about it. A man regards hie wile aa a human maehiue to prepare his meais, meed his clothes, aud atteud to his wants generally ; whilo it is not unoo:nmon fcr a woman to view her lord and master in the light of a mere money-making machine; and as for reai sympathy bstweeu them — well, there is nouo in very many cafes. Where does toe fault lie? This iB a question difficult to answer, but undoubtedly an unwise choioe has much to do with the unhappiuess existing in many a home to-day. W bat woman has not bought material for a dreis, and then found that it won't wnsh ? This is like matrimony. Men aud women, acquainted enly with each other's "Sunday manners," if the phrase may be employed, rush into it, and then open their eyes to the fact that Sunday is but a small portion of the week. There are six other days to be-lived through ; what about them ? They never thought of tbat. Indeed, the thinking faculties are not brought muoh into play when
one is in love. After marriage, however, they become very aotive. But this IB not a work on marriage. To discuss the many different phases of the married Btate would need a volume. Let ua only say then that to "act first and think afterwards" is the motto of a. fool. ^ Reeoe Meadowsere had never found it necessary to repent his choice of a wife, and be was determined that Grace should never regret the step she had taken in accepting him as her husband. The two lived for e&ch other, and in this lay tbe secret of their undoubted happiness. Their mutual intercourse was not marred by unseemly bickerings, yet they did not altogether avoid subjectB of disoussion upon which they could not exactly think alike. So closely did they resemble each other in disposition that such discussions were rare; but occasionally Reece in his fictional writing would rouse his wife's opposition to oertain soenes and situations, the result being an earnestly conducted argument till one or tbe other was convinced. During those brief morning hali-hours spent together Grace read over any work that Reece had accomplished sinoe the previous day, and offered her critioism upon it. Intellectually she was, in her husband's eyes, his equal; and he often sought her advice, and invariably respected her opinion, though perhaps he might not accept it as correot. This could only be proved by argument; and not unfrequently Meadowsere had to give way to his wife's superior intuition, especially in matters relating to the gentler sex. Nor was he ashamed to own that to her suggestions he owed much that was best and truest to nature in his books. OD this particular morning Reece had done no work at all. In reply to his wife's enquiry as to what had made him BO lazy, he answered— "I have been reading." " What? Adam Bede?" said Grace, taking a book from the table. "Yes." " How many times have you read it before?" "I don't know—several. One can't have too much of a good thing. Besides, there is a character in the book which reminds me strongly of yon." " I am very certain there isn't," Grace said decidedly. " Yes : Mrs. Poyser." "Oh!" "You don't recognise yourself, perhaps," observed Meadowsere playfully. "Very few of as see ourselves as others see us." Grace did not speak, but toyed musingly with a fruit knife. " Where are your thoughts, dear?" " I was wondering whether it would really be better for us if we oould see ourselves with the eyes of others." "It would do some persons good, but not you." eaid Reece, drawing her closer to him. " You would crow vain, my wife." Grace smiled as ehe placed her cheek against his. " Do think Mrs. Poyser would have grown vain had she realized the light in which she was regarded by those who Buffered from the sharpness of her tongue ?" "Well, perhaps not, so we must conclude that you don't resemble that estimable lady." "Thank you. But don't you consider, Reeoe, that a really oansoientious person is a better iudge of his or her own character than any one else can be? No one knows our lives as we do ; no one can read our secret thoughts or guess what temptations assaii us ; and how very many people are misjudged by the outside world every day. We form our own conoeptioa of the obaracterB of those we meet, bnt the oonception is often a wrong one; and would it be of any advantage to a person to know himself misjudged ?" " Yep, if it gave him the opDcrtuoity of revealing himself in his true colours. Many persons prefer to be misjudged, however; it pays. In reality, perhaps, it is just as well that wo can't altogether see ourselves as others
see us. I often meet men and women, too, who, without one partiole of reason, imagine themselves to be mentally superior to ever; ene else. It might possibly open their eyes to their own deficiencies if they ooeld for a momen trealize what othors thought of them; but yet I doubt it. Such people are usually so egotistieal that under these circumstances they would rno^t likely oonsider the whole world to be wrong aud themselves right. But it is very evident tbat we can't see with the eyes af other people, and no arnouae of talking will alter this fact, so let us turn to a more congenial subject. What have you been doing with vonrself yourself all thp the morning? mnrnim'" "Oh 1 attending to my household duties as usual, and making arrangements for thiB afternoon." " Do you know, dear, I fanoy we have &ade a mistake in asking so many psople here. The garden is not suitable tor a fete, and how they are all to amuse themselves I don't know." " Now, don'tthrow cold water on my garden party, R^ece, but just eat your lunob. You oan't deuy that the rooms are too small for dancing, and we neither of us oare for tbat sort of tiling, so as wa must make enreeivee agreeable sometimes, and not be too selfish, we bad to invite our friends to spend the afternoon here, playing tennis and so on. Everything is going to go off nioely, so don't look so gloomy." With a resigned air Reeoe poured out a glass of wine and took the cake tbat Grace handed to him. " Where is Teleie ?" he asked. With Margaret. The dear old soul—I believe Bhe cares as much fcr the child as we do. She will quite spoil her." Not ehe! Margaret knows all about that sort of thing. She nursed me, aud I'm not spoilt." "Query !" "lowdinoreto Margaret than I oan ever repay, "said Reeoe, looking grave. "We all do," Grace replied, kissing him. But, come, pay attention. This morning's post brought me a letter from Mabel, and there are some messages for you." " Let me hear them, by ali means." "In the first plaoe she expresses the hope tbat you are not working too hard." " Uinph ! This portion of the letter is underlined, I presume!" " Well—yes. Then ehe sends her love." "That's better." " And ehe wishes fio know when you intend taking me aud the baby to Warrydong." " Very soon. We hav'nt been there for a Jong time, have we. dear?" "No; and I should like to see the old place again, and Mabel, and all the others." "So should I. But now, what else has she to 6ay ?"_ "I will read you portions of tbe letter, Reece," said Grace, taking it from the envelope; "bnt, of oourse, I must omit some of it " "Of course! that's understood," replied Reece as he ohoae an orange. "I bavejuat returned from Adelaide," read Grace, " where I went on a visit ee Minnie, as I told you in my last letter I intended doing. You may perhaps be surprised, but it is a fact all the same, that I enjoyed myself heartily. You, no doubt, remember that Minnie and I eouldn't always agree; but things are quite dsfferent now, tad we get on together splendidly. Since her marriage ehe has seemed quite another per3on, and now that she has a baby boy you would hardly know her. Fanoy Minnie being a mother! The baby is a splendid one, BO every one says; but I thought it small and " Never mind the baby," interrupted Reece. Babies are all alike." Oh, Reece! I'm sure that Telsie was
never like other babies." Reece smiled as he answered—"Oertaiu'y not; she was the exception to prove the rule. But go on. Graoe." "Lat me see—where shall I bngin? Oh! here. I think I told you some time aeo ot a certain Mr. Martin, an English gentleman who came to Warrydong to gain a lictle colonial experience. Well—would you belisve t ?—the very doy I returned from Adelaide he proposed to me, and I want you to advise tue how to act. It appears that during my absence he Bpoke to dad about it; but dad told him I wa< my own mistress, aud be must plead his cause with me. I nra* quite knocked of a heap ' when he asked me to marry him, and behaved very rudely, for I burst out laughing, and treated the matter as a joke. Hi was awfully ia earnest, though, and atked me not to decide too hastily, but to think the matter over. It is all through the house now, though I dou't kaow how it gat about, and the bays give me no peace. They think a tremendous lot of Mr. Martin, and want me to aocept him. Da,^ ^ays 1 must follow the diotates of my heart, but 1 believe he would be glad "if f decided to remain single, though he would never draaia of opposing the match if my hesrc were set upon it. Mother says nothing, but I fanoy she would rather nee me married, eo altogether I am rather 'in a fog.' Ycu are the bess friend I ever had, dear Mrs. Meadowsere, and if you care at all for me, tell me what you think about ii. Mr. M.irtin is very rich, ana I know most people would consider me a lucky girl ; but though like him very well as a friend, I some-, times feel that it would ba impi-ieible for me to live with him always. Perhaps this ie foolish of me. Bob says I am an idiot to ho»itate ft moment, hu(j I can't help it. Thie is the first proposal I hare ever had, and it is my wish to do what is right towards Mr. Martin, and to please my parents; but I don't know wh»t is right. I won't be much good to any one. ami I am afraid I d^n't want to be married. I'm sure I am not in love, and I never wili be in love with any man, eo perhaps it nutters ?ery little whom marry. Rose preteuds that every girl ought to marry, and considers that my remaining siugle spoils hsr chances; whilst Bert, who used o be the thoughtful, dreamy boy till he went to oollegp, remarks sarcastically chat I shall soon be 'on the shelf.' This is a very rambling letter, but you must excuse it, as I feel regularly mixed up. Tell me, if you ean, how you would act if you were in my place, and I shall know what to for you oould not do wrong if you tried."
Grace paused here, and looked up at her husband. "Well?" he said, interrogatively. " That is all she sayB in reference to the proposal she has received." " Do you intend to advise her in the matter?" "Yes." Reece thoughtfully tapped against the table with his fingers, and waited for Grace to go on. " I shall advise her to refuse Mr. Martin in as friendly a manner as possible, but still give him firmly to understand that she has no intention of marrying him." "Is this wise, dear? She may never receive another suoh offer." "What does that matter? I have never met Mr. Martm, but even if he be really worthy of Mabel it iB very evident that she does not love him. Her letter shpws this very plainly, and a loveless marriage must result in uuhappiaess." "She may learn to care for him afterwards." "Would you advise a woman to marry a drunkard in the hope of ouring him of his drunkenness ?" " That argument is hardly applicable." " It would be just as foolish for a woman to aecept as her husband a man she did not love, thinking tbat love might come after marriage." "I would have married you whether you cared for me or not, and won your love afterwards." " No—beoause 1 should have refused ycu, Reece, had I not osred for you." " Sow many women marry for love in these times ?" asked Reeoe, a little bitterly. "Not a great many, perhaps; but that is no reason why Mabel should fallow the prevailing custom." " But Bhe isn't likely to care a great deal for any man. She saya BO herself." " I should be sorry to think that. Mabel is a genuine, true-hearted girl, and the right man will appear on the scene same day. In the meantime she is very happy at home, and it would be a pity for her to spoil her life by tying herself to a man for whom she has no great liking." " What if the right man should tura out to be the wrong one ? She may take a fanoy to some one altogether unworthy of her." "I think not. But honestly, Reeoe, you would not advise Mabel to aocept this offer?" "Not knowing Mr. Martin, I cannot really say what I consider the best course for her to follow." "I hardly know how to express myself dearly,"said Grace, with great earnestness; "but suppose fora moment that voucould put yourself in Mabel's place, and yet retain your individuality—would you marry Mr. Martin?" " No,"answered Reece, unhesitatingly. "Why not?" ' Because I could not honestly do BO. I should oonsider nnnaifiar it if. nmnj. wrong. 1 ' " And yet you hesitate as to whether Mabel wonld be wise in aoting in the same way ?" " Rut Mabel may not think as I do, and" "Tbat is enongh, Reeoe," and Graoe smilingly covered his mouth with her hand. " I understand how your thoughts run, and wili write to Mabel by the next post. You and I are both aware that many women are content—nay, even glad—to marry the first man who offers himself. But Mabel is not a woman ot that sort, nor does she care for wealth, and this proposal of Mr. Martin's must not be accepted." " I should be sorry to see her aocept it under the aircumstanoeB," said Reece, "yet I should hardly feel justified in advising her not to do so. From a worldly point of view the matoh would be a good one." "Then am I to let her ohoose for herself, and pay no heed to her earnest appeal for guidance?" Reeoe did not answer at onoe; but when he
spoke it was in a different strain. "No," he aaid, "tell her what you think is best, my wife. I am inclined to believe witi Mabel that you could not do wrong if you tried." "Do not say that, Raeoe,"exolaimed Grace, pressing hia hand and growing pale. " Very well,"iaughed Reece. "Now, about this afternoon, Mrs. Silvermede hasn't sent a note during the morning, has ehe?" "No ; and that makes me hope she intends coming to the fete. She promised faithfully to do so if Mr. Silvermede were not worse, and would surely have written had anything unusual oocurred. It is very sad that her husband is suoh a confirmed invalid, and I do admire Mrs. Silvermede so much for waiting upon him so devotedly. When I first came to Melbourne ehe was one of the leaders of society, and now she eoarcely goes out at all." "Yet she is happier to-day than she was then. In the past Mr. Silvermede was wrapped up in his books, and his wife had the second place in his regard. This pained hnr, though the world knew little of it. Things have ohanged, however. Sinoe Mr. Silvermede's health failed him he has had to rely more and more upon his wife, and has discovered her sterling worth and tha richness of her love for him. She is all in all to him now and sooiety has no charm for her since he cannot enter it with her. As hia nurse and companion she iB more a reality in his daily life than Bhe ever was before, and this is what she always wished to be." "Then you think she is happy?" "As happy as it is possible for a good woman to be under tbe circumstanoes. Of course it is a grief to her that her husband suffers so much, yet her life is devoid of all bitterness, and this it used not to be. Ethel and the captain will be here, I suppose?" "Of course; and tho MoTinnya, eo you can rely upon having your greatest friends." '' McTinny returns home this weak to prepare for the shearing, and the family follow a little later. Did he eayanything to you about it?" "No." " He was asking me whether I oould manage to pay him a visit in about a month's time, and, of course, take you. It is a wonder Mrs. McTinny never mentioned it." "What a memory you have, Reece. I haven't met Mrs. McTinny for nearly a fortnight." " I forgot that. Well, what do you think of the proposal ? : ' " I should like it very well, but we mustn't neglect Warrydong." No; I thought of that too. Suppose we go to Warrydong first, and leave the other visit till later oil?" " I think it would be the better plan." "Then I shall explain to Mac our reasons for not being able to accept his invitation at present." "But would you rather visit him first Reece?" ' " No, my love. I have very pleasant recollections of Warrydong, and prefer going there. Wasn't it at Warrydong that I first met you?" For answer Graoe nestled closer to him and for a time neither spoke, baing occupied with their own thoughts. Then Reece said suddenly —"Why, it is five minutes over the half hour. This will never do. Off you go, young lady !" Graos laughingly protested, bat Reece half earned her to the door, and placing tbe tray in her hands Raid — " Now give rae a kiss and go." As Grace lifted up her face she said, "Now wouldn't you hko me to stay another half hour ?" " Don't be inquisitive; and don't tempt me. When a rule is ma^e it must ba kept, my wife." They kissed eroh other, and with a bright, backward smile, Grace left him.