The Two Wives by Eugene Field

Story type: Literature

In a certain city there were two wives named Gerda and Hulda. Although their homes adjoined, these wives were in very different social stations, for Gerda was the wife of a very proud and very rich man, while Hulda was the wife of a humble artisan. Gerda’s house was lofty and spacious and was adorned with most costly and most beautiful things, but Hulda’s house was a scantily furnished little cottage. The difference in their social stations did not, however, prevent Gerda and Hulda from being very friendly in a proper fashion, and the two frequently exchanged visits while their husbands were away from home.

One day Hulda was at Gerda’s house, and Gerda said: “I must show you the painting we have just received from Paris. It is the most beautiful painting in the world, and it cost a princely sum of money.”

And Gerda took Hulda into an adjoining chamber and uncovered the picture, and for a long time Hulda stood admiring it in silence. It was indeed a masterpiece of art. Such beauty of conception, such elegance of design, and such nicety in execution had never before been seen. It was a marvel of figure and color and effect.

“Is it not the most beautiful picture in all the world?” asked Gerda.

“It is very beautiful,” replied Hulda, “but it is not the most beautiful picture in all the world.”

Then Gerda took Hulda into another chamber and showed her a jewelled music-box which the most cunning artisans in all Switzerland had labored for years to produce.

See also  Robinson Crusoe by Isaac Disraeli

“You shall hear it make music,” said Gerda.

And Gerda touched the spring, and the music-box discoursed a harmony such as Hulda’s listening ears had never heard before. It seemed as if a mountain brook, a summer zephyr, and a wild-wood bird were in the box vying with each other in sweet melodies.

“Is it not the most beautiful music in all the world?” asked Gerda.

“It is very beautiful,” replied Hulda, “but it is not the most beautiful music in all the world.”

Then Gerda was sorely vexed.

“You said that of the picture,” said Gerda, “and you say it of the music. Now tell me, Hulda, where is there to be found a more beautiful picture, and where more beautiful music?”

“Come with me, Gerda,” said Hulda.

And Hulda led Gerda from the stately mansion into her own humble little cottage.

“See there upon the wall near the door?” said Hulda.

“I see nothing but stains and marks of dirt,” said Gerda. “Where is the picture of which you spoke?”

“They are the prints of a baby hand,” said Hulda. “You are a woman and a wife, and would you not exchange all the treasures of your palace for the finger-marks of a little hand upon your tinted walls?”

And Gerda made no reply.

Then Hulda went to a corner and drew forth a pair of quaint, tiny shoes and showed them to Gerda.

“These are a baby’s shoes,” said Hulda, “and make a music no art can equal. Other sounds may charm the ear and delight the senses, but the music of a baby’s shoe thrills the heart and brings the soul into communion with the angels.”

See also  An Elaborate Elopement By W W Jacobs

Then Gerda cried “‘T is true, O Hulda! ‘t is true.” And she bowed her head and wept. For she was childless.

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *