Story type: Literature
IN his “Dream Life,” Ik Marvel thus pleasantly sketches the lover and the husband:–
You grow unusually amiable and kind; you are earnest in your search of friends; you shake hands with your office boy, as if he were your second cousin. You joke cheerfully with the stout washerwoman; and give her a shilling overchange, and insist upon her keeping it; and grow quite merry at the recollection of it. You tap your hackman on the shoulder very familiarly, and tell him he is a capital fellow; and don’t allow him to whip his horses, except when driving to the post-office. You even ask him to take a glass of beer with you upon some chilly evening. You drink to the health of his wife. He says he has no wife–whereupon you think him a very miserable man; and give him a dollar, by way of consolation.
You think all the editorials in the morning papers are remarkably well-written,–whether upon your side or upon another. You think the stock-market has a very cheerful look,–with Erie–of which you are a large holder–down to seventy-five. You wonder why you never admired Mrs. Hemans before, or Stoddart, or any of the rest.
You give a pleasant twirl to your fingers, as you saunter along the street; and say–but not so loud as to be overheard–“She is mine–she is mine!”
You wonder if Frank ever loved Nelly one-half as well as you love Madge? You feel quite sure he never did. You can hardly conceive how it is, that Madge has not been seized before now by scores of enamoured men, and borne off, like the Sabine women in Romish history. You chuckle over your future, like a boy who has found a guinea in groping for sixpences. You read over the marriage service,–thinking of the time when you will take her hand, and slip the ring upon her finger; and repeat after the clergyman–“for richer–for poorer, for better–for worse!” A great deal of “worse” there will be about it, you think!
Through all, your heart cleaves to that sweet image of the beloved Madge, as light cleaves to day. The weeks leap with a bound; and the months only grow long when you approach that day which is to make her yours. There are no flowers rare enough to make bouquets for her; diamonds are too dim for her to wear; pearls are tame.–And after marriage, the weeks are even shorter than before; you wonder why on earth all the single men in the world do not rush tumultuously to the altar; you look upon them all, as a travelled man will look upon some conceited Dutch boor, who has never been beyond the limits of his cabbage-garden. Married men, on the contrary, you regard as fellow-voyagers; and look upon their wives–ugly as they may be–as better than none.
You blush a little at first telling your butcher what “your wife” would like; you bargain with the grocer for sugars and teas, and wonder if he knows that you are a married man? You practise your new way of talk upon your office boy: you tell him that “your wife” expects you home to dinner; and are astonished that he does not stare to hear you say it!
You wonder if the people in the omnibus know that Madge and you are just married; and if the driver knows that the shilling you hand to him is for “self and wife?” You wonder if anybody was ever so happy before, or ever will be so happy again?
You enter your name upon the hotel books as “Clarence–and Lady;” and come back to look at it,–wondering if anybody else has noticed it,–and thinking that it looks remarkably well. You cannot help thinking that every third man you meet in the hall, wishes he possessed your wife; nor do you think it very sinful in him to wish it. You fear it is placing temptation in the way of covetous men, to put Madge’s little gaiters outside the chamber-door at night.
Your home, when it is entered, is just what it should be–quiet, small,–with everything she wishes, and nothing more than she wishes. The sun strikes it in the happiest possible way; the piano is the sweetest toned in the world; the library is stocked to a charm; and Madge, that blessed wife, is there–adorning and giving life to it all. To think, even, of her possible death, is a suffering you class with the infernal tortures of the Inquisition. You grow twain of heart and of purpose. Smiles seem made for marriage; and you wonder how you ever wore them before!