Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

Her husband did not heed the remark. He took another pull at his pipe, but drew no smoke from it. His pipe was out; but in his earnestness he puffed away at nothing, and continued :

• Who is to take care of us, you want to know, when we grow old, if Josh don't. When Josh grows up, Josh will get married, naturally.'

. So shall I, father,' interrupted Sarah, who was listening with the deepest interest to the conversation.

Perhaps, Sarah,' said Mr. Marvel a little dubiously. “Girls ain't like boys; they can't pick and choose. Josh will get married, naturally; and Josh will have children, naturally. Perhaps he'll have two; perhaps he'll have six.'

Mrs. Pigeon's got thirteen,' remarked Sarah vivaciously.

• Be quiet, Sarah. Where did you learn manners 2-Now if Josh has six children, and, being a wood-turner, doesn't do any better as a woodturner than his father has done—and he's a presumptuous young beggar if he thinks he's going to do better than me

I don't think so, father,' said Joshua.

Never mind. And he's a presumptuous young beggar if he thinks he's going to do better than

[ocr errors]

me,' Mr. Marvel repeated; he relished the roll of the words—what's to become of us then ? Josh, if he's a wood-turner with six children, can't be expected to keep his old father and mother. He will have enough to do as it is. But if Josh strikes out for himself, who knows what may happen? He may do this, or he may do that; and then we shall be all right.'

There was not the shadow of a doubt that in that house the gray mare was the worse horse, in defiance of the old adage.

* And as to Joshua's being shipwrecked,' continued Mr. Marvel, you know as well as I do, mother, that it would be enough to break my heart. But I don't believe there's more danger on the sea than on the land. There was Bill Brackett run over yesterday by a brewer's dray, and three of his ribs broken. You don't get run over by a brewer's dray at sea. And what occurred to William Small a month ago ? He was walking along as quiet and inoffensive as could be, when a brick from a scaffold fell upon his head, and knocked every bit of sense clean out of him. They don't build brick houses on the sea. Why, it might have happened to me, or you, or Josh !

6

6

Or me, father,' cried Sarah, not at all pleased at being deprived of the chance of being knocked on the head by a brick.

Or you, Sarah. So, mother, don't let us have any more talk about shipwrecks.'

• But if Josh does get shipwrecked, father,' persisted Mrs. Marvel, remember that I warned you beforehand.'

But Josh is not going to get shipwrecked,' exclaimed Mr. Marvel, slightly raising his voice, determined not to tolerate domestic insubordination; 'therefore, hold your tongue, and say nothing more about it.'

There was one privilege for the possession of which Mr. Marvel had fought many a hard battle in the early days of his married life, and which he now believed he possessed by right of conquest; that was the privilege of having the last word. To all outward appearance Mrs. Marvel respected this privilege ; but in reality she set it at defiance. It was a deceptive victory that he had gained; for if he had the last audible word, Mrs. Marvel had the last inaudible one. Woman is a long-suffering creature; she endures much with patience and resignation; but to yield the last word to a man is a sacrifice too great for her

to make. There are, no doubt, instances of such sacrifice; but they are very rare. Many precious oblations had Mrs. Marvel made in the course of her married life; but she had not sacrificed the last word upon the domestic altar. True, it was always whispered inly, under her breath; but it was hers nevertheless; and she exulted in it. When a woman cannot get what she wants by hook, she gets it by crook, depend upon it. For twenty years had the Marvels lived together man and wife ; and during all that time Mr. Marvel had never known, that in every family conversation and discussion his wife had invariably obtained the victory of the last word; although sometimes a half-triumphant look in her eyes had caused him to doubt.

So, upon this occasion, notwithstanding the decided tone in which her husband had closed the conversation, Mrs. Marvel bent her head over her worsted stocking, and whispered to herself, half tearfully and half triumphantly :

• But if Josh does get shipwrecked, father, don't forget that I warned you beforehand.'

CHAPTER VI.

THE ACTOR AND HIS DAUGHTER.

That night, as Joshua was lying half-awake and half-asleep, his mind being filled with pleasant sea-pictures, he was surprised to hear his bedroomdoor creak. Without moving in his bed, he turned his eyes towards the door, and, in the indistinct light, he saw his mother enter the room. She opened the door very softly, as if fearful of disturbing him, and she paused for a moment or two in the open space, with her hand raised in a listening attitude. Joshua saw that she believed him to be asleep, and he closed his eyes as she approached the bed. Her movements were so quiet, that he did not know she was close to him, until she gently took his hand and placed it to her lips. Then he knew that she was kneeling by his bedside, and knew also, by a moisture on his hand, that she was crying. His heart yearned to her, but he did not move. He heard her whisper,

« PredošláPokračovať »