« ZurückWeiter »
Mrs. Ransom her wash-tub. This was two weeks ago last Monday. When Mrs. Villiers saw it again, which was the next morning, it stood on her backstoop, minus a hoop. Mrs. Villiers sent over to Mrs. Ransom's a request for the hoop, couched in language calculated to impugn Mrs. Ransom's reputation for carefulness. Mrs. Ransom lost no time in sending back word that the tub was all right when it was sent back; and delicately intimated that Mrs. Villiers had better sweep before her own door first, whatever that might mean. Each having discharged a Christian duty to each other, further communication was immediately cut off; and the affair was briskly discussed by the neighbours, who entered into the merits and demerits of the affair with unselfish zeal. Heaven bless them! Mrs. Ransom clearly explained her connection with the tub by charging Mr. Villiers with coming home drunk as a fiddler the night before Christmas. This bold statement threatened to carry the neighbours over in a body to Mrs. Ransom's view, until Mrs. Villiers remembered, and promptly chronicled the fact, that the Ransoms were obliged to move away from their last place because of non-payment of rent. Here the matter rested among the neighbours, leaving them as undecided as before. But between the two families immediately concerned the fire burned as luridly as when first kindled. It was a constant skirmish between the two women, from early morning until late at night. Mrs. Ransom would glare through her blinds when Mrs. Villiers was in the yard, and murmur between her clenched teeth
“Oh, you hussy!”
And, with that wonderful instinct which characterises the human above the brute animal, Mrs. Villiers understood that Mrs. Ransom was thus engaged, and, lifting her nose at the highest angle compatible with the safety of her spinal cord, would sail around the yard as triumphantly as if escorted by a brigade of genuine princes.
And then would come Mrs. Villiers's turn at the window with Mrs. Ransom in the yard, with a like satisfactory and edifying result.
When company called on Mrs. Villiers, Mrs. Ransom would peer
from behind her curtains and audibly exclaim“ Who's that fright, I wonder ? ” And when Mrs. Ransom was favoured with a call, it was
Mrs. Villiers's blessed privilege to be at the window and audibly observe
“Where was that clod dug up from ? ”
Mrs. Ransom has a little boy named Tommy, and Mrs. Villiers has a similar sized son, who struggles under the cognomen of Wickliffe Morgan ; and it will happen, because these two children are too young to grasp fully the grave responsibilities of life—it will happen, I repeat, that they will come together in various respects. If Mrs. Ransom is so fortunate as to first observe one of these cohesions, she promptly steps to the door, and, covertly waiting until Mrs. Villiers's door opens, she shrilly observes—“Thomas Jefferson, come right into this house this minute ! How many times have I told you to keep away from that Villiers brat?
"Villiers brat!” What a stab that is! What subtle poison it is saturated with! Poor Mrs. Villiers's breath comes thick and hard; her face burns like fire, and her eyes
snap out of her head. She has to press her hand to her heart as if to keep that organ from bursting; there is no relief from the dreadful throbbing and the dreadful pain. The slamming of Mrs. Ransom's door shuts out all hope of
But it quickens Mrs. Villiers's faculties, and makes her so alert, that when the two children come together again, which they very soon do, she is first at the door. Now is the opportunity to heap burning coals on the head of Mrs. Ransom. She heaps them.
“Wickliffe Morgan! what are you doing out there with that Ransom imp? Do you want to catch some disease ? Come in here before I skin you.” And the door slams shut, and poor Mrs. Ransom, with trembling form and bated breath and flashing eyes, clinches her fingers, and glares with tremendous wrath over the landscape.
And in the absence of any real, tangible information as to the loss of that hoop, this is perhaps the very best that can be done on either side.
J. M. Bailey.
a rainy Sunday, in the gloomy month of November. I had been detained in the course of a journey by a slight indisposition, from which I was recovering, but I was still feverish, and was obliged to keep within doors all day, in an inn of the small town of Derby. A wet Sunday in a country inn! whoever has had the luck to experience one can alone judge of my situation. The rain pattered against the casements; the bells tolled for church with a melancholy sound. I went to the window in quest of something to amuse the eye; but it seemed as if I had been placed completely out of reach of all amusement. The windows of my bedroom looked out among tiled roofs and stacks of chimneys; while those of my sitting-room commanded a full view of the stable-yard. I know of nothing more calculated to make a man sick of this world than a stable-yard on a rainy day. The place was littered with wet straw that had been kicked about by travellers and stable-boys; in one corner was a stagnant pool of water surrounding an island of muck; there were several half-drowned fowls crowded together under a cart, among which was a miserable, crestfallen cock, drenched out of all life and spirit; his drooping tail matted as it were into a single feather, along which the water trickled from his back. Near the cart was a half-dozing cow, chewing the cud, and standing patiently to be rained on, with wreaths of vapour rising from her reeking hide; a wall-eyed horse, tired of the loneliness of the stable, was poking his spectral head out of a window, with the rain dripping on it from the eaves; an unhappy cur, chained to a dog-house hard by uttering something every now and then between a bark and a yelp; a drab of a kitchen wench tramped backwards and forwards through the yard in pattens, looking as sulky as the weather itself; everything, in short, was comfortless and forlorn, excepting a crew of hard-drinking ducks, assembled like boon companions round a puddle, and making a riotous noise over their liquor.