The Fairy Wife–An Apologue by T. S. Arthur

Story type: Literature

A MERCHANT married a Fairy. He was so manly, so earnest, so energetic, and so loving, that her heart was constrained toward him, and she gave up her heritage in Fairyland to accept the lot of woman.

They were married; they were happy; and the early months glided away like the vanishing pageantry of a dream.

Before the year was over he had returned to his affairs; they were important and pressing, and occupied more and more of his time. But every evening as he hastened back to her side she felt the weariness of absence more than repaid by the delight of his presence. She sat at his feet, and sang to him, and prattled away the remnant of care that lingered in his mind.

But his cares multiplied. The happiness of many families depended on him. His affairs were vast and complicated, and they kept him longer away from her. All the day, while he was amidst his bales of merchandise, she roamed along the banks of a sequestered stream, weaving bright fancy pageantries, or devising airy gayeties with which to charm his troubled spirit. A bright and sunny being, she comprehended nothing of care. Life was abounding in her. She knew not the disease of reflection; she felt not the perplexities of life. To sing and to laugh–to leap the stream and beckon him to leap after her, as he used in the old lover-days, when she would conceal herself from him in the folds of a water-lily–to tantalize and enchant him with a thousand coquetries–this was her idea of how they should live; and when he gently refused to join her in these childlike gambols, and told her of the serious work that awaited him, she raised her soft blue eyes to him in a baby wonderment, not comprehending what he meant, but acquiescing, with a sigh, because he said it.

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She acquiesced, but a soft sadness fell upon her. Life to her was Love, and nothing more. A soft sadness also fell upon him. Life to him was Love, and something more; and he saw with regret that she did not comprehend it. The wall of Care, raised by busy hands, was gradually shutting him out from her. If she visited him during the day, she found herself a hindrance and retired. When he came to her at sunset he was preoccupied. She sat at his feet, loving his anxious face. He raised tenderly the golden ripple of loveliness that fell in ringlets on her neck, and kissed her soft beseeching eyes; but there was a something in his eyes, a remote look, as if his soul were afar, busy with other things which made her little heart almost burst with uncomprehended jealousy.

She would steal up to him at times when he was absorbed in calculations, and throwing her arms around his neck, woo him from his thought. A smile, revealing love in its very depths, would brighten his anxious face, as for a moment he pushed aside the world, and concentrated all his being in one happy feeling.

She could win moments from him, she could not win his life; she could charm, she could not occupy him! The painful truth came slowly over her, as the deepening shadows fall upon a sunny Day, until at last it is Night: Night with her stars of infinite beauty, but without the lustre and warmth of Day.

She drooped; and on her couch of sickness her keen-sighted love perceived, through all his ineffable tenderness, that same remoteness in his eyes, which proved that, even as he sat there grieving and apparently absorbed in her, there still came dim remembrances of Care to vex and occupy his soul.

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“It were better I were dead,” she thought; “I am not good enough for him.”

Poor child! Not good enough, because her simple nature knew not the manifold perplexities, the hindrances of incomplete life! Not good enough, because her whole life was scattered!

And so she breathed herself away, and left her husband to all his gloom of Care, made tenfold darker by the absence of those gleams of tenderness which before had fitfully irradiated life. The night was starless, and he alone.

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