صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

than that. Yes; and you took wine with her four times. What do you say? Only twice? Oh, you were so lost — fascinated, Mr. Caudle; yes, fascinated — that you didn't know what you did. However, I do think while I'm alive I might be treated with respect at my own table. I say, while I am alive; for I know I sha'n't last long, and then Miss Pretty man may come and take it all. I'm wasting daily, and no wonder. I never say anything about it, but every week my gowns are taken in.

" I've lived to learn something, to be sure! Miss Prettyman turned up her nose at my custards. It isn't sufficient that you're always finding fault yourself, but you must bring women home to sneer at me at my own table. What do you say? She didn't turn up her nose? I know she did ; not but what it's needless — Providence has turned it up quite enough for her already. And she must give herself airs over my custards! Oh, I saw her mincing with the spoon as if she was chewing sand. What do you say? She praised my plum-pudding? Who asked her to praise it? Like her impudence, I think!

“ Yes, a pretty day I've passed. I shall not forget this wedding-day, I think! And as I say, a pretty speech you made in the way of thanks. No, Caudle, if I was to live a hundred years — you needn't groan, Mr. Caudle, I shall not trouble you half that time if I was to live a hundred years, I should never forget it. Never! You didn't even so much as bring one of your children into your speech. And — dear creatures!

— what have they done to offend you? No; I shall not drive you mad. It's you, Mr. Caudle, who'll drive me mad. Everybody says so.

“And you suppose I didn't see how it was managed, that you and that Miss Prettyman were always partners at whist! How was it managed? Why, plain enough. Of course you packed the cards, and could cut what you liked. You'd settled that, between you. Yes; and when she took a trick, instead of leading off a trump — she play whist, indeed! — what did you say to her, when she found it was wrong? Oh — It was impossible that her heart should mistake! And this, Mr. Caudle, before people — with your own wife in the room!

" And Miss Prettyman --- I won't hold my tongue. I will talk of Miss Prettyman : who's she, indeed, that I shouldn't talk of her? I suppose she thinks she sings? What do you say? She sings like a mermaid? Yes, very — very like a mermaid : for she never sings but she exposes herself. She might, I think, have chosen another song. I love somebody,' indeed; as if I didn't know who was meant by that “somebody'; and all the room knew it, of course; and that was what it was done for, nothing else.

“ However, Mr. Caudle, as my mind's made up, I shall say no more about the matter to-night, but try to go to sleep."

“ And to my astonishment and gratitude," writes Caudle, "she kept her word.”

MRS. CAUDLE “WISHES TO KNOW IF THEY'RE GOING TO

THE SEASIDE, OR NOT, THIS SUMMER - That's ALL."

“ Hot? Yes, it is hot. I'm sure one might as well be in an oven as in town this weather. You seem to forget it's July, Mr. Caudle. I've been waiting quietly — have never spoken ; yet, not a word have you said of the seaside yet. Not that I care for it myself — oh, no; my health isn't of the slightest consequence. And, indeed, I was going to say -- but I won't that the sooner, perhaps, I'm out of this world, the better. Oh, yes: I dare say you think so — of course you do, else you wouldn't lie there saying nothing. You're enough to aggravate a saint, Caudle ; but you sha'n't vex me. No! I've made up my mind, and never intend to let you vex me again. Why should I worry myself?

“ But all I want to ask you is this: do you intend to go to the seaside this summer? Yes ? you'll go to Gravesend? Then you'll go alone, that's all I know. Gravesend! You might as well empty a salt cellar in the New River, and call that the seaside. What? It's handy for business! There you are again! I can never speak of taking a little enjoyment, but you fing business in my teeth. I'm sure you never let business stand in the way of your own pleasure, Mr. Caudle -- not you. It would be all the better for your family if you did.

“ You know that Matilda wants sea-bathing; you know it, or ought to know it, by the looks of the child; and yet - I know you, Caudle — you'd have let the summer pass over, and never said a word about the matter. What do you say ? Margate': 80 expensive ? Not at all. I'm sure it will be cheaper for us in the end; for if we don't go, we shall all be ill

every one of us – in the winter. Not that my health is of any consequence: I know that well enough. It never was yet. You know Margate's the only place I can eat a breakfast at, and yet you talk of Gravesend ! But what's my eating to you? You wouldn't care if I never eat at all. You never watch my appetite like any other husband, otherwise you'd have seen what it's come to.

“What do you say? How much will it cost? There you are, Mr. Caudle, with your meanness again. When

When you want to go yourself to Black wall or to Greenwich, you never ask, how much will it cost? What? You never go to Blackwall ? На ! I don't know that; and if you don't, that's nothing at all to do with it. Yes, you can give a guinea a plate for white bait for yourself. No, sir; I'm not a foolish woman: and I know very well what I'm talking about — nobody better. A guinea for whitebait for yourself, when you grudge a pint of shrimps for your poor family. Eh? You don't grudge 'em anything? Yes, it's very well for you to lie there and say so. What will it cost ? It's no matter what it will cost, for we won't go at all now. No; we'll stay at home. We shall all be ill in the winter- every one of us, all but you; and nothing ever makes you ill. I've no doubt we shall all be laid up, and there'll be a doctor's bill as long as a railroad; but never mind that. It's better — much better — to pay for nasty physic than for fresh air and wholesome salt water. Don't call me woman,' and ask · what it will cost.' I tell you, if you were to lay the money down before me on that quilt, I wouldn't go now- certainly not.

certainly not. It's better we should all be sick; yes, then you'll be pleased.

“That's right, Mr. Caudle; go to sleep. It's like your unfeeling self! I'm talking of our all being laid up; and

you, like any stone, turn round and begin to go to sleep. Well, I think that's a pretty insult! How can you sleep with such a splinter in your flesh? I suppose you mean to call me the splinter?- and after the wife I've been to you! But no, Mr. Caudle, you may call me what you please; you'll not make me cry now. No, no: I don't throw away my tears upon any such person now. What? Don't? Ha! that's your ingratitude! But none of you men deserve that any woman should love you. My poor heart!

“Everybody else can go out of town except us. Hal if I'd only married Simmons - What? Why didn't I? Yes, that's all the thanks I get. Who's Simmons? Oh, you know very well who Simmons is. He'd have treated me a little better, I think. He was a gentleman. You can't tell ? May be not; but I can. With such weather as this, to stay melting in Lon

don; and when the painters are coming in! You won't have the painters in? But you must; and if they once come in, I'm determined that none of us shall stir then. Painting in July, with a family in the house! We shall all be poisoned, of course; but what do you care for that?

Why can't I tell you what it will cost ? How can I or any woman tell exactly what it will cost? Of course lodgings and at Margate, too — are a little dearer than living at your own house. Pooh! You know that? Well, if you did, Mr. Caudle, I suppose there's no treason in naming it. Still, if you take 'em for two months, they're cheaper than for one. No, Mr. Caudle, I shall not be quite tired of it in one month. No: and it isn't true that I no sooner get out than I want to get home again. To be sure, I was tired of Margate three years ago, when you used to leave me to walk about the beach by myself, to be stared at through all sorts of telescopes. But you don't do that again, Mr. Caudle, I can tell you.

What will I do at Margate? Why, isn't there bathing, and picking up shells; and arn't there the packets, with the donkeys; and the last new novel – whatever it is, to read — for the only place where I really relish a book is at the seaside. No, it isn't that I like salt with my reading, Mr. Caudle! I suppose you call that a joke? You might keep your jokes for the daytime, I think. But as I was saying - only you always will interrupt me the ocean always seems to me to open the mind. I see nothing to laugh at; but you always laugh when I say anything. Sometimes at the seaside — specially when the tide's down - I feel so happy: quite as if I could cry.

• When shall I get the things ready? For next Sunday? What will it cost? Oh, there - don't talk of it. No: we won't go. I shall send for the painters, to-morrow. What? I can go and take the children, and you'll stay? No, sir: you go with me, or I don't stir. I'm not going to be turned loose like a hen with her chickens, and nobody to protect me.

So we'll go on Monday? Eh?

What will it cost? What a man you are! Why, Caudle, I've been reckoning that, with buff slippers and all, we can't well do it under seventy pounds. No: I won't take away the slippers, and say fifty: it's seventy pounds, and no less. Of course, what's over will be so much saved. Caudle, what a man you are! Well, shall we go on Monday? What do you say — You'll see? There's a dear. Then, Monday.”

“I con

“Anything for a chance of peace," writes Caudle. sented to the trip for I thought I might sleep better in a change of bed.”

MRS. CAUDLE DWELLS ON CAUDLE'S “CRUEL NEGLECT” OF

HER ON BOARD THE RED ROVER.” “CAUDLE, have you looked under the bed ? What for? Bless the man! Why, for thieves to be sure. .

Do you suppose I'd sleep in a strange bed, without? Don't tell me it's nonsense! I shouldn't sleep a wink all night. Not that you'd care for that: not that you'd — hush! I'm sure I hear somebody. No; it's not a bit like a mouse. Yes; that's like you — laugh. It would be no laughing matter if — I'm sure there is somebody! — I'm sure there is!

" — Yes, Mr. Caudle ; now I am satisfied. Any other man would have got up and looked himself; especially after my sufferings on board that nasty ship. But catch you stirring! Oh, no! You'd let me lie here and be robbed and killed, for what you'd care. Why you're not going to sleep! What do you say? It's the strange air and you're always sleepy in a strange air? That shows the feelings you have, after what I've gone through. And yawning, too, in that brutal manner! Caudle, you've no more heart than that wooden figure in a white petticoat at the front of the ship.

“No; I couldn't leave my temper at home. I dare say! Because for once in your life you've brought me out — yes, I say once, or two or three times, it isn't more; because, as I say, you once bring me out, I'm to be a slave and say nothing. Pleasure, indeed! A great deal of pleasure I'm to have, if I'm to hold my tongue. A nice way that of pleasing a woman.

“Dear me ! if the bed doesn't spin round and dance about ! I've got all that filthy ship in my head! No: I sha'n't be well in the morning But nothing ever ails anybody but yourself. You needn't groan in that way, Mr. Caudle, disturbing the people, perhaps, in the next room. It's a mercy I'm alive, I'm sure. If once I wouldn't have given all the world for anybody to have thrown me overboard ! What are you smacking your lips at, Mr. Caudle? But I know what you mean

of course, you'd never have stirred to stop ’em: not you.

And then you might have known that the wind would have blown today; but that's why you came.

« السابقةمتابعة »