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occupation, and of a right kind too. There are the poor and the sick round her home; she will visit them, and nurse them, and teach their children, and lecture their drunken husbands; she will fulfill her duty better thus than by walking the hospitals, or preaching on Sundays! There are meetings to attend also, and school committees, and clothing-clubs, and ragged schools to organize; and her voice will sound more sweet and natural there than when shrieking through a speaking-trumpet or echoing in court. And there arc books to read, and then to discuss by the fireside with her husband, when he comes home in the evening—though perhaps his attention may sometimes wander from the subject to her little foot, peeping out from under the flounces over the fender, or to the white hands stitching so busily—and is not this better than a public lecture in a Bloomer costume! And then, perhaps, she can help her husband in his profession, write out a clear manuscript for his editor, or copy a deed, find out references and mark them for him, or perhaps correct his sermon, to the general advantage of his congregation—which, we contend, is a fitter occupation than arguing divorce cases in a wig and blue bag, or floundering in the quagmires of theology in bands and a scholar's hood- Our natural woman, too, loves her children, and looks after them; but the babies of our emancipated woman belong as much to the state as to her, and as much to chance as to either. Our natural woman plays with her children, and lets them pull down her thick hair into a curtain over her face, and ruffle even her clean gown with their tiny hands: but the emancipated woman holds baby-playing a degradation, and resigns it to servants and governesses.
Give us the loving, quiet wife, the good mother, the sweet, unselfish sister; give us women beautiful and womanly, and we will dispense with their twelve years' service on board a brig, or two or three years' close attendance in a dissecting-room. Give us gentlewomen, who belisvo in milliners, and know the art of needlework; who can sew on buttons and make baby-clothes; who, while they use their heads, do not leave their hands idle; who, while claiming to be intellectual beings, claim also to be natural and loving beings—nay, even obedient and self-sacrificing beings, two virtues of the Old World which our Utopians count as no virtues at all. Oh, Utopians! Leave nature's loveliest work alone! Let women have their rights, in Heaven's name, but do .not thrust them into places which they can not fill, and give them functions they can not perform—except to their own disadvantage, and the darkening of the brightest side of this world. Reflect (if ye ever do reflect) on the destiny of woman, which nature has graven on her soul and body; a wife, a mother, a help-meet and a friend; but not by mind or by person ever meant to be an inferior man, doing his work badly while neglecting her own. The shadow of man darkens the path of woman, and while walking by his side, she yet walks not in the same light with him. Her home is in the shade, and her duties are still
and noiseless; his is in the broad daylight, and his works are stormy and tumultuous; but the one is the complement of the other, and while he labors for her she watches for him, and energy and love leave nothing incomplete in their fives. Rest in the shade, dear woman! Find your happiness in love, in quiet, in home activity and in natural duties; turn as from your ruin from all those glaring images of honor winch a weak ambition places before you. .'
BELLADONNA. HAT are you looking at so attentively, my friendT Your eyes wander round the room ceaselessly. You inspect every thing, and you seem half pleased, half sorrowful. What is it that ails you you are looking now at my
wife. Yes! I quite agree with you, that she is very pretty. It is pleasant to see the lamp-light falling on those dark glossy bands of hair that sweep about her forehead. It is pleasant to see her small white fingers glide so nimbly all over that tiny cap which she is embroidering. The steam from the tea-urn rises in wreaths through the room. The sea-coal fire blazes brightly, and sheds a red and flickering light on the silver spoons and tea-service. You, my friend, sit on one side of the hearth, with your legs stretched out, and the cigar, which in consideration of our friendship my wife permits you to smoke, held between your thumb and forefinger. I, on the other side, with the last number of Bleak House in my hand, have just turned from that mournful death of Lady Dedlock to the happy picture set before me, and, as my eyes fall on that rounded and graceful figure seated near the table, working so quietly, and ever and anon casting a stray and loving glance hitherward, I thank God from my heart that she is not wandering off through the cold, bleak country, with the memory of guilt tracking her steps, while the husband lies at home faint and speechless with sorrow!
I was lucky, you say, to get her? Well! no matter; if you did not say it, you looked it, and I answer all the same—I agree with you, my friend. But I had my little difficulties, too. It is true that no terrible spectre of secret sin and undying sorrow loomed up between us, through which we could not pierce; but we went through many sad hours, and experienced many a biting wind before we turned that comer of our Life's journey where our present happiness lay waiting for us. Now I see by those widely-opened eyes and halfparted lips that you are eagerly wishing for the story of my love. If my wife permits it, you shall have it. May I, Belladonna!
The dark eyes are lifted from the tiny cap, and turn on me with a consenting glance; but in their brown depths I see stirring many very mournful memories, that rise higher and higher as I tell the story of the past, until at last they overflow in tears.
A kiss, dear Belladonna, before I begin. *****
I have told you before, my friend, that Belladonna is an only child. You know, also, that she is of Spanish blood, though educated in France. In France I met her. She was very young: almost a child. I was, though a few years older than herself, in truth a boy. Love has, however, nothing to do with age. Walking along a road one day in the neighborhood of Dijon, I heard a clatter of hoofs behind me. I turned round and saw a young lady mounted on a donkey who would not go. The young lady seemed in a very evident passion. She had nothing in her hand but a delicate whip; but with this she belabored the donkey with tremendous good-will. The animal, however, took his punishment with the utmost indifference. He laid his long ears back on his neck and scarcely stirred, except now and then to give a very slight and playful kick with his hind legs, as if he were rather tickled with the whole affair. He even went so far as to crop some herbs from the road-side in the midst of what his rider intended to be a tremendous flogging. The young lady was quite pale, and her dark eyes sparkled with rage at this contumacious and insulting behavior en the part of the donkey. Once or twice she glanced toward me, and seemed to wish that the heavy cane which I carried in my hand was, for the time being, in hers. I could not resist such appeals long. Besides, I fove a woman who can get into a good downright rage ; so I stepped forward, without saying a word, and raising my cane let it fall with all my strength upon the donkey's buttocks. The application evidently took the animal by surprise. He could scarcely believe bis nerves. Where could such a blow have come from? He knew the exact force of his mistress's whip, but this was a different thing altogether For a moment he seemed lost in reverie; then, as I was lifting the stick, with the intention of administering a second and heavier dose, he suddenly shook his ears, gave a snort of apprehension, and set off at a round gallop; while his mistress, as she flew along, turned round in her saddle and gave me an exulting and at the same time grateful wave of the hand. That was my first interview with Belladonna. The next time I met her was at chapel. She was going to confession, poor thing! and looked very sad and mournful. I was standing on the steps of the church (a favorite lounge with idle roun^ men who wished to sec pretty girls without much trouble) as she came up, attended by her aunt, a horrid old woman with a perpetual cold in the head. Poor Belladonna! you must have had a great many sins to confess that day, for your face was pale, and your lips pressed tightly together, and you walked very reluctantly indeed!
As she ascended the steps her eyes met mine, and—no! she did not color—she grew paler than before if possible, and made me such a pretty little bow, that I would have walked to Spitzbergen to have got another. The aunt saw it, and by the whispering and nodding that took place between them as they passed, I could infer that poor Belladonna was getting a lecture.
You may be sure that, from that time forward,
I was pretty often to be seen standing on the steps of the church. And the pretty little bow soon came to be an established thing; and when Belladonna came without her aunt, which she sometimes did, the bow was much prettier and warmer, and even occasionally a few pleasant little sentences escaped, neither of us well knew how, but we spoke to each other, and chatted a little; and I once made her a compliment. But when the aunt came along. Lord! how formal we were; and how little the bow became, and how very stiff I stood beneath the great stone effigy of St. Denis, with bis head under his arm!
Things, of course, could not long remain so. Belladonna and I were in love with each other, and knew it; and formal salutations on church steps would not satisfy us. so we met in secret.
You must know, my friend, that at this time I was exceedingly poor. My father left a large family when he died, and I came in for a slender portion, which, however, if I had been prudent, I might have turned to account. But we young Americans were just then wild about travel, and the moment my money was lodged at the banker's for me I bade adieu to New York and trade, and set out on my European tour.
I spent all my money, and was too proud to ask my friends for more; so, at the time I speak of, I was literally cash-bound at Dijon. I was entirely destitute of means. My clothes were in that worst of all possible states of seediness— they were unequal. I had a very nice pair of trowsers; but then the coat! Good Lord, that coat! It had been once a German student's coat, braided and frogged magnificently, and ornamented with a huge velvet collar. But now the seams were white, and the velvet collar looked as if all the snails in Eden had been walking over it and left their tracks there, while the braid and frogs clung only here and there, like the last vine leaves clinging to the garden-wall in winter. I owed a bill, too, at my lodgings. My landlady was poor but kind-hearted; and, knowing my position, she seldom troubled me. Many is the time, my dear friend, I have walked out as if to get my dinner, when I had not the price of a crust of bread in my pocket, and returned picking my teeth elaborately as I went up stairs, in order to induce my landlady to believe that I had been dining sumptuously. She found out tho truth, however, at last, and, good soul that she was! used to call me to dine with her; but I did not go. I was too proud for that. I could havo swept a crossing, mark you! but I could not trespass on that poor old woman's scanty support. Well! I only mention these details to show you that at the time I am speaking of I was very poor. My poverty did not annoy me as long as it interfered only with my own comfort. But when I came to meet Belladonna so often, and walk with her in the charming environs that surround Dijon, no one can imagine what anguish I suffered. Flowergirls used to accost us with bouquets, and I knew that Belladonna loved flowers passionately. But I was penniless. She would feel faint after her walk, and look longingly at the tea-gardens which lined the road. I dare not enter, however, for I had no money to pay for the refreshments. Once I had to pretend to be taken suddenly ill, when she asked me to take her to sec a panorama of New York which was then exhibiting in some building which we were passing. If ever the temptation to become a thief was strong upon me, it was then. I seriously revolved for several nights the propriety of turning highway-robber. At last I summoned up courage to tell her my circumstances. I disclosed all my poverty in fear and trembling. How I was often dinnerless— how my clothes were in pawn—how I expected a remittance—that remittance which poor men are always expecting—which, if I did not receive, I should have to seek some mendicity asylum; all these things I told her, earnestly, truthfully, nay, almost tearfully. How beautifully she heard it! How beautifully she spoke to me! With her little hand pushed trustingly into mine, and her little arm thrown around my broad shoulders, as if she, poor weak little woman, would, from sheer strength of love, shelter me from all those evils I spoke of, she cheered me up, and bade me take good heart, and offered to share with me all earthly ills. I wept with joy to find her so true but did not accept her offer. I loved her too well to thrust my pangs of misery upon her.
Did I not, Belladonna?
Meanwhile I grew thin and pale, for I was starving; and my old German-student coat grew whiter and whiter at the seams, and my only pair of boots were in the last stage of dissolution. I know no load that sits more heavily on a poor gentleman's heart than bad boots. A shabby hat may pass with a thousand different excuses. Some one may have sat upon your new one the night before at the opera, and obliged you to make a shift with your second best; or it may have been blown off of your head crossing a bridge, and floated mockingly away on the rough waters of the river; or it may have been taken by mistahe at a fashionable ball, and the indifferent tile you are now wearing left in its stead. All these theories may surround and fortify a shabby hat, but broken boots are inexcusable. No such accidents ever happen to boots. You can not be supposed to lose them. No man's boots were ever blown into a river, and sitting on them would not do them the slightest harm. A split across the uppers, or a loose sole are evident and inexcusable signs of poverty. If you have a hole in the sido of one of them, every one in the street looks at it. It is of little use to ink your stocking, which shows through. I have tried that. The inked portion of the stocking remains in its proper place for the first few minutes, and the boot looks well enough; but after a quarter of an hour's walking, it shifts its place somehow, and an agonizing patch of white displays itself. Then, when the soles are very thin, with what inward terror one walks over rough pavements. How certain one is to knock his toe violently against some projecting flag-stone, thereby increasing the incipient crack in the side, and, mayhap, utterly tearing the sole from the upper leather! Believe me, my dear
fellow, that bad boots are the very acme of misery. Mine were very bad. I bad lost a heel off the left one, and my great toe had made its appearance through a hole in the top of the other, which hole nothing would efface. I tried every thing, from sewing a patch of black cloth underneath, to painting my stocking with black paint, but all would not do. The hole grew larger and larger every day, and the hour did not seem far distant when my foot, grub-like, would triumphantly cast its shell, and emerge into the world untrammeled by any calf-skin fetters.
"Dear Noble," said Belladonna to me, as we strolled ono morning together down the street, "your boots are shockingly bad. Why don't you get another pair?" and she looked at me as she spoke with such a charming forgetfulness of my financial position, that it was impossible to be angry with her.
"You forget, Belladonna, that in order to buy boots it is necessary to have money, and just at present—"
"Dear Noble, forgive me," and she pressed my hand. "Indeed, I never thought, or I would not—but there's my bootmaker," she cried, as if struck by a sudden thought; "why not go to him?"
"If you mean Pliquois, Belladonna, I must again recall a fact to your recollection, namely, that he makes only ladies' boots, and I don't think I could very well pass for a young damsel in a coat like this."
"I never thought of that either," she answered, musingly. "How I wish papa would give me some money! But he never seems to think I want any, and I am ashamed to ask him."
"Hush, child! And do you suppose that even if you had money I would take it from you? No, no! Noble Sydale has not reaclied that point yet. There's the remittance which I expect every—"
I stopped suddenly. Poor Belladonna, in spite of all her sympathy for me, could not prevent an inward smile from twinkling through her eyes at the mention of this eternal remittance, which was always on the point of arriving.
"Well, laugh away, Belladonna; I don't blame you, though really I have no doubt—Well, I declare I'll never mention that remittance again'. But there's my Uncle Jacob Starr, who is worth ever so many millions of dollars—do you know that a presentiment continually haunts me that he will leave me something handsome when he dies 1 I wrote to him about six months ago, and never got any answer. He is very old, and, Heaven knows, may be dead by this tune. How delightful it would be if I grew suddenly rich, Belladonna!"
"Oh! wouldn't it! We'd go immediately to papa—no! we'd go first to a bootmaker's, and get you a pair of beautiful patent-leather boots with red tops."
"That would be splendor, Belladonna!"
'' Yes! and then we'd go to the best tailor in town, and get you a charming suit of—of—"
"Blue and silver would look well with the red tops, dear."
"Pshaw! Noble, you're laughing at me. Well, then we'd hire a carriage with four gray horses and a postillion—an open carriage it should be— and we'd prance down the principal streets in great state, until we came opposite papa's house. And as the carriage drew up with a great noise, he would look out of the window to see who it was, and then, goodness gracious! how surprised he would be to see his little Belladonna sitting beside a tall, elegant—"
"Distinguished looking foreigner—"
"Belladonna! I'm blushing."
"With a lovely dark mustache—"
"And boots with red tops!"
'' Papa would be very angry at first, of course; and he'd swear out a terrible word, and run to the door, and then—"
"And then V
"And then you would step out of the carriage, and explain to him, in a few rapid but well-chosen words, your position and circumstances, and how you loved me to distraction—"
"Yes! distraction is a very good word, it's so new."
"Don't interrupt me, sir!—to distraction, and conclude by asking him if he would consent to surrender his treasure into the hands of one to whom it would be more precious than—than— than the diamonds of Hesperides."
"Exquisite simile! and papa would reply V
"Oh! he would smile, and, taking you by the hand, turn to me and say—gracious Heaven! is that dog mad?"
"Oh! he'd say that, would he?"
"Look! look, Noble! he's coming this way— oh! save mo! save me!" ,
I turned suddenly to Belladonna. She was deadly pale, and clutched my arm convulsively with one hand, while with the other she pointed, quiveringly, up the street. A hasty glance showed me the danger. Coming straight toward us, pursued by half-a-dozen ragged boys, I beheld a large, ill-conditioned-looking dog. He bad his tail between his legs, his eyes glared furiously, and a huge red tongue lolled out of one side of his mouth. On he came at a swift gallop, uttering now and then a low, fierce bark, and looking the very ideal of Hydrophobia. It was horrible. There seemed no escape, for so occupied had Belladonna and myself been with our acrial castles, that we had noticed nothing until the brute was actually within a few yards of us. There was no time for deliberation now. I pushed Belladonna rudely against the wall, placed myself in front of her, and waited breathlessly. The footpath on which we were standing was very narrow; so narrow that, with Belladonna behind me, I nearly blocked it all up; while on came the dog, panting and growling, with scarce a foot of space for him to pass. He came. I saw his red eyes glare upon me, and he uttered a savage, low bark as he drew near. I saw there was nothing for it but to bo the aggressor, and so perhaps frighten him out of our path, and thus at least save Belladonna; so, as he came within reach, I
made a violent kick at him. I felt my foot strike something. A shriek from Belladonna—a horrible growl from the animal—and I pitched heavily forward and fell. I was on my legs again in an instant, but trembling with terror. Belladonna was leaning against the wall, very pale. "The dog! Are you bitten, Belladonna V "No! no!" she said. "We are safe;" and' she pointed as she spoke to the retreating form of the dog as he scudded down tho street. "But you must be hurt," she continued.
"Oh, no! only my foot is a little—" I looked down as I spoke. Good Heavens! my boot! Instead of striking the dog, as I intended, I had struck my foot against the edge of one of the fiat stones with which the path was rudely paved, and my right boot had been literally torn into atoms. It had been leaky before; but now it was a total wreck. The sole had been rent from the upper leather as far back as the heel, while the upper itself was, in addition, split right across the instep. Not even the most ingenious professor of lcgerdcpied could make it, under any circumstances whatever, pass for a boot.
"What it to be done?" said I, mournfully regarding the tattered remains. "I con never walk through the streets in this plight; and my lodgings arc half a mile off at the very least. I've a good mind to break my leg, and then some one must have me taken home on a litter. What am I to do, Belladonna? "
Belladonna, I blush to say, instead of pitying jne was laughing—you needn't look so, my dear, for you know you were—and she burst into a perfect peal, as I repeated in a heart-broken tone,
"What am I to do, Belladonna?"
"I'll tell you what you must do, Mr. Noble Sydale," said she, as soon as she could compose her countenance sufficiently to speak. "You must do exactly as I tell you. Our house is, as you know, round the next comer. My aunt is gone on a visit to her sister, about five miles from the city, and will not be home until to-morrow, and papa never returns from his office until seven o'clock. Before that time it will be dusk; and by remaining in our house until half-past six, you can walk home without any body noticing you. I suppose you can contrive to pass five hours in my company without being very weary, Mr. Noble Sydale? "
"A thousand, dear Belladonna—but if your father should return?"
"Oh! there's no fear of that; his business always detains h^m until seven, and sometimes even later."
"Ah! Belladonna," said I, as we entered tho house together, "I acknowledge that I should like very much to have a pair of those patentleather boots with the red tops, which you described so charmingly a few minutes ago."
"Hum! I would have no objection to your obtaining them at half-past six, this evening. Until then I prefer you as you are, because— because—"
"Because I can't go away, selfish girl!"
Here somebody had the unpardonable presumption to kiss somebody on the stairs; but who that somebody was that did it, and who the somebody was that allowed it to be done, you should never learn, my friend, even if you were to torture me until the day of judgment.
Those five hours passed away with extraordinary rapidity. All the more extraordinary was it, because I can not possibly recollect any thing that was said on that eventful occasion. I recollect distinctly sitting on a sofa, with Belladonna's hand in mine for an indefinite period of time, but as to what we conversed about I am to this day profoundly ignorant. One thing only I remember, which can scarcely be called a conversation. I wanted Belladonna to let me try on her boot, which request she seemed to think was a mere pretext to see her foot, and she boxed my ears for suggesting it; but that could not properly be called an observation.
Well, we sat there, for I don't know how long, as of course we forgot all about the hour, when we were suddenly awakened from our trance by the sound of odious manly boots upon the staircase, and Belladonna jumped from the sofa with a smothered shriek, exclaiming that it was her father's step.
It is not every man who has the courage to face a danger in his night dress. Even a dressing-gown has a dispiriting effect upon one's daring; but what arc they all, compared to having but one boot? A man might do wonders in bare feet. Even in stockings it would be possible for him to distinguish himself; but there is something utterly humiliating in the idea of presenting oneself before an enemy with one boot on. It is a lop-sided business. A unity which is no unity, but the paltry remnant of what was once a fact. In short, a man with one boot on must morally as well as physically—limp!
I confess, at the sound of those paternal footsteps, my heart went down into my—I was going to say, boots; but, as I had only one, the simile won't answer—my heart, then, went down into my boot. Poor Belladonna grew as white as the jessamine blossoms that peeped in at the windows, and gazed about expectantly, as if she thought the walls would open somewhere, as they usually do in fairy tales, and accommodatingly inclose Mr. Noble Sydale in a crystal grotto, where he was to be kept till called for. There being no such magical response, however, to Belladonna's imploring look, nor any convenient stage-closet in the apartment, there was nothing left for me but to make a rush to the deep window, and close the heavy curtains before me, thereby darkening the room into a deep twilight. The next moment the door opened, and in stepped a tall, precise-looking old gentleman, who exclaimed as he entered,
"Why, what have you made the room so very dark for, Belladonna? one can hardly see, chiid."
And as I heard the steps moving toward the window where I was hidden, I believe I would
have sacrificed ten years of my life at that moment for another boot.
"Oh! papa, papa!" cried poor Belladonna, eagerly, "pray don't draw the curtains. My eyes are quite weak, and I can't bear the light, I assure you."
"That's lately come to you, dear. I never saw any lack of lustre in your eyes since you were born. Come here to the window and let me look at them. If there is any thing wrong, we must have in Doctor Sartclles."
"I don't mean that they're exactly weak, you know, papa, but—but—" and poor Belladonna stammered, and stopped, and began again, and finally burst into a flood of tears.
"Hey! what's this, child? Crying! why, something must be the matter. Let us see." And he moved toward the window as he spoke. I thought that I might as well save him any further trouble, so I pulled the red cord inside, the curtains opened, and Belladonna's papa did see. t ,
I never saw a man less pleased, however, with what he saw than that old gentleman. He grew ashen white, and his lips suddenly met as if they were going to grow together from that moment, and never part any more. They thought better of it, however, for they opened presently, and a terribly cold, stem, determined voice issued out of them.
"Well, Sir! what may your business be here? Is it the silver-spoons or my daughter?"
I did not make any answer, but walked deliberately over to where Belladonna lay upon th« sofa, sobbing as if her poor heart would break, and said to her, taking her hand in my own,
"Belladonna! may I.speak? "
"Oh! Noble," she sobbed, "say any thing —every thing—as for me I know that I shall die!"
"Let my daughter's hand loose, instantly, scoundrel!" thundered the old man. "If you do not, I will dash your brains out on the floor!"
"My dear Sir! if you will only let me explain—"
"I will not, Sir. Who are you? what do you want here! Belladonna, was it to break my heart that you present to me a tatterdemalion like this fellow, in the character, I suppose, of your lover V
"I assure you, Sir, that my position is every thing that—"
"That is disgraceful, Sir. You come into my house like a thief, during my absence, you make love to my daughter, and tell her some infernal lies, I suppose, about your respectability and so forth, and then you have the presumption to believe that you will bamboozle me with your explanations. A ragged, adventurous foreigner! Where's your boot, Sir V
I was prepared to answer any question but this. It was really too bad. There I stood, a gentleman, with good expectations, and the honestest of purposes, struck completely dumb by the miserable conviction that I had only one boot