THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
MR. SQUAB’S DOMESTIC CRISIS
“ With the ■ trusting confidence of girlhood I placed myself in the power of a smooth and smiling villain. No sooner had he led me from the altar than a smile of triumph illumined his fiendishly beautiful countenance, and tearing me from the arms of a loving mother, and severing the holy lies of sisterhood, he bore me to the seclusion of a den, where none could shield me from his inveterate hate and brutality.”
“ Scoundrel!” interpolated Mr. Squab, audibly grinding his teeth. “ Long and patiently I suffered in silence, striving, despite his behavior, to be to him a good and faithful wife.. Oh, how I longed for one who, like you, would wipe away my tears and comfort my aching heart. But still I had to bear my hard lot in utter solitude.”
“ Solitude it must have been, for what communication of thought or sentiment could exist between your husband a bear and you —an angel !” “A bear he was—cruel, obstinate, morose. At last 1 could support existence with him no longer, and I fled. Then his barbarity knew no bounds, and -he threatened to take the lives of all I hold-dear, and lay me in an untimely grave.” “The villain ! What is his name?” After a little hesitation on the part of the lady, she responded : “ Hem ! Smith !”
“'Smith ? By this hand, if I meet him, he or I shall fall, Mrs. Smith, nevei to rise again !” • : “ Call,.me not by that hateful name, but rather by my maiden application— Vavassour !”
“ Nay, let me call you only Mabel 1” “ Can you call me Mabel, and forget my fearful past ?” “ Oh, think not your past misfortunes prejudice me against you, or else must I appear to you no less 'culpable than you imagine I think you. For "know that, though- youthful, I'' too ant married !”
“Married? O heavens! and j'ou wife ?”
“ Call her not my wife, for she is Mrs.—hem !—Montressor no more !”
“ Poor unhappy boy ! I- can under-, stand the false, dissimulating viper she must have been, who, warmed within your bosom, could turn her venomous fangs against your tender heart, my own Monstressor !” “ Call me Theodore.”
“ The-o dore !”
“ And now forget there lives one in the world bearing the name of Smith, and let me be for ever thy guardian and cherisher. Fly how with me. My brougham is waiting below. Do not hesitate.”
“ Give me time for reflection.”
“Impossible. Fly!” “My heart, my heart! O, guardian spirits, .help me, for I know not how to act.” . ~
“ I ani thy guardian spirit henceforth -and for aye.”
“I feel that you are right.'" Lead me away.” ......
■ For one moment as Mrs. Smith: was into the brougham, Mr. Squab thought of his wife, and looked nervously at the crowd, almost expecting to see. there her face, and to hear her remark upon what he-feltto be,’despite his Platonic character, a rather improper proceeding on his part.. But the presence- of a soft- hand,on his as he took.his seat beside Mrs. Smith dispelled every terror, every thought, of past and future. He rapturously pressed the hand, to his lips, and when they had passed from the crowded streets, and to where the imperfect light-rendered discovery impossible, he again entreated the fair Mabel to unmask, at the same time removing the mask from his own face., Mabel instantly comphedi They gazed ,earnestly at each other in the darkness, and -Love’s torch dispelled the gloom. “ You are more beautiful than my imagination,- prompted, by the lovely, features your envious mask could not conceal, had pictured you,” said Mr. Squab. “ And you,” responded Mabel, “ have the noble lineaments your discourse led me to conceive.”
- Mr. Squab replied by a chaste salute; and then the lady returned to her- woes and business. “I fear with all your noble generosity that: you will repen j the step you have taken, and rbgret that you ever burdened yourself with the expense of -a broken-hearted woinan,” “ Lovely Mabel, never ! What is poverty to hearts opulent with love ?” : “Oh!” said the lady. . “ True, I am not rich in the vulgar sense.” “ But this brougham , “Is hired only .for the occasion. Thrifty as I am, I could not walk along the.-.streets in this costume. What cares passion for est.ate.or equipage ?” “ Oh !” said the lady. “What are jewels and riches to the priceless gems and treasures of- mutual affection ?” The ladyF sighed, [and Mr. Squab continued:
“ How much does your wretched husband allow you, dearest Mabel ?” “ But a paltry pittance, scarcely sufficient to decently feed and clothe myself and the children as becomes our station in life,” replied Mabel scornfully. “ Children, did you say ?” asked Mr.
Squab. “ Yes, six little angels.” “ Oh !” said Mr. Squab and he sank back in his corner and began to calculate how much it would cost to keep twelve children, seven sisters and a mother-n-law, one wife, and a friend, in the necessaries of existence. The calculation was painful, and he did not heed his fair companion’s discourse until these words struck his ear :
“ Revenge is sweet! You shall tell me what to say when we send back to the wretch the paltry pittance he thinks I need.” “ Don’t you think it would be more Christian-like to take his money and forgive him ?” urged Mr. Squab. “ Never, never ! If you feel incapable of writing such a letter, mamma shall, come and help me.” “Oh !” said Mr. Squab. Then he asked, as one would, having a forlorn hope that his own senses were not to be trusted : “Have you a mother?” “ Yes ; I don’t think I could exist for one day without her. You can’t imagine how clever she is.” “Yes, I can, though. Have you any other near relatives ?” “ Some sisters, darling. I shall be quite-envious if they come to live with us !” “ In that case they had better not come, then, dear.”, “ Oh, I was only in fun when I said I should be jealous. Of course they wont care for you.” “ You may be in fun, Mrs. Smith,” said Mr. Squab, now goaded to desperation by the contemplation of having to work for a family perhaps numbering forty or fifty, “ but lam in earnest, they shan’t come !” “ They shall,” said the lady quietly, yet firmly. “We shall see,” said Mr. Squa‘b, turning his face to the window. Mr. Squab put his feet on the opposite seat and- whistled cheerfully to show his indifference and resolution, but presently broke off his merry tune to say : “If I’m to be made uncomfortable I might as well have my wife back.” “ And if I’m not to have my own way I might as well go back to my husband.”
“It isn’t very complimentary to put me on a level with that fool.” “ And it isn’t kina to make so small a distinction between me and such an idiot as the woman must have been who married you.” “ Idiot, madam! I’ll let you know she was one of the cleverest women that I ever met.”
“ A deal too clever, I should think. Those very clever women generally make fools of themselves in the end with their dreadful tempers.” “ She was an angel when properly managed. You derive your idea of my wife’s ill-temper, surely, from the recollection of your husband’s brutality.” “He a brute ! Dear little fellow, he had the patience and tenderness of a lapdog.”- . Ah those amiable people are too stupid to be anything else.” ./ “Stupid! He was the ornament of society. His intellect was perfectly astonishing.” “ My poor little wife ! ” [A sigh.] “ My dear little husband ! ” [A sob.] “ Oh, if you are so fond of him, why don’t you go back to him ? ” “ I would this very moment if he’d Only ask me.”
“ He’s not likely to do that, with the certainty of getting your mother and sisters as well.”
. “ Do you think I’d let them, stand in the -way of reconciliation? No; I’ve long seen the folly of that. It’s irrational to expect a man to tolerate the interference of his wife’s relations.” '
“ My wife, I hope, wouldn’t sacrifice her family so heartlessly as that. Is it reasonable that the ties knitted by long years should be suddenly and forever broken ? ” , ;
“ Well, if you think your wife better than another man’s; why .don’t you ask her to live with you ?” “ I have, but she won’t accept .my invitation. Why don’t you ask your husband’s forgiveness it you think the precious flat’s in the right ?” “I have, but he won’t read my -.letters;” ■ '
, “ Allow me to observe, madam, that if your present professions of regard for your husband are true, your late protestation of affection for me was false.”
“ Not so, I loved you madly ! Even now iiiy heart yearns toward you ; for something in your voice reminds me of my lost darling.” “Very curiously that same consideration and. the faint resemblance your teeth bear to her. lovely set, fired the passion that still smoulders in my bosom.”
They sank back in their corners, and for some time were lost in melancholy •recollections of the partners of their affections. Then- Mr. Squab, with a profound sigh, murmured : “ Dearest Octavia !” - “ Did you address yourself to me ?” said the lady. ■ “No; I was alluding to my lost wife.” [Sigh.] • “Pardon me [sob], darling Sylvius.” “ What’s the matter ? “ Nothing. I was apostrophizing my late husband.” “Ah, Smith!” “. No, Squab. That is his real name. Disguise is no longer necessary. You must know, Mr. Mpntreszor, my maiden name was not Vavassour, but Jones.” “ Is it possible ?” Mr. Squab hastily put his feet down and turned to the lady ; the lady turned herself toward him.
■ The fly had stopped before .Mr, Squab’s residence, and the lamp placed conveniently at the garden gate shed its ■ effulgence into the brougham, wherefore when the .driver, .haying descended from the' box,, looked through the window, as he was about to open the door he- beheld the lady and gentle? man in an ’affectionate 1 embraced The flyman was; himself- the father of a family, and a bashful man : so, instead of opening the door, he coughed, and retiring modestly behind the brougham, awaited further orders.— Tinsley’s Ma-
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 224, 23 December 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 224, 23 December 1880
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