Story type: Essay
Adelbert G. Grimes writes as follows: “I am a young man not yet twenty-two years of age. I am said to be rather attractive in appearance and a fluent conversationalist. Three years ago I very foolishly married and settled on a tree claim in Dakota, where we have three children, consisting of one pair of twins and an ordinary child, born by itself. We are a considerable distance from town, and to remain at home during the winter with no company besides my wife and children is very irksome, especially as my wife has never had the advantages that I have in the way of society. Her conversational powers are very inferior, and I cannot bear to remain at home very much. So I go to town, where I can meet my equals and enjoy myself.
“I fear that this will lead to an estrangement, for, when I return at night, my wife’s nose is so red from sniveling all day that I can hardly bear to look at her. If there is anything in this world that I hate, it is a red-eyed, red-nosed woman who sheds tears on all occasions.
“Of course all this makes me irritable, and I say sharp things to her, as I have a wonderful command of language at such times. She surely cannot expect a young man twenty-two years old to stay at home day after day and listen to squalling children, when he is still in the heyday of life with joy beaming in his eye.
“Of course I do say things to my wife that I am afterward sorry for, but I made a great mistake in marrying the woman I did, and although some of my lady friends told me so at the time, I did not then believe it. Do you think I ought to bury myself on a tree claim with a woman far my inferior, while I have talents that would shine in the best of society? I am greatly distressed, and would willingly seek a legal separation if I knew how to go about it. Will you kindly advise me? What do you think of my penmanship?”
I hardly know how to advise you, Adelbert. You have got yourself into a place where you cannot do much but remain and take your medicine. Unfortunately, there are too many such young men as you are, Adelbert. You are young, and handsome, and smart. You casually admit this in your letter, I see. You have a social nature, and would shine in society. You also reluctantly confess this. That does not help you in my estimation, Adelbert. If you are a bright and shining light in society, you are probably a brunette fizzle as a husband. When you resolved to take a tree claim and make a home in Dakota, why didn’t you put your swallow-tail coat under the bed and retire from the giddy whirl and mad rush of society, the way your wife had to?
I dislike very much to speak to you in a plain, blunt way, Adelbert, being a total stranger to you, but when you convey the idea in your letter that you have made a great mistake in marrying at the age of nineteen, and marrying far beneath yourself, I am forced to agree with you. If, instead of marrying a young girl who didn’t know any better than to believe that you were a man, instead of a fractional one, you had come to me, and borrowed my revolver and blown out the fungus growth which you refer to as your brains, you would have bit it. Even now it is not too late. Yon can still come to me, and I will oblige you. You cannot do your wife a greater favor at this time than to leave her a widow, and the sooner you do so the less orphans there will be.
Did it ever occur to you, Adelbert, that your wife made a mistake also? Did it ever bore itself through your adamantine skull that it is not an unbroken round of gayety for a young girl to shut herself up in a lonesome house for three years, gradually acquiring children, and meantime being “sassed” by her husband because she is not a fluent conversationalist?
Wherein you offend me, Adelbert, is that you persist in breathing the air which human beings and other domestic animals more worthy than yourself are entitled to. There are too many such imitation men at large. There should be a law that would prohibit your getting up and walking on your hind legs and thus imposing on other mammals. If I could run the government for a few weeks, Adelbert, I would compel your style of zoological wonder to climb a tree and stay there.
So you married a woman who was far your inferior, did you? How did you do it? Where did you go to find a woman who could be your inferior and still keep out of the menagerie? Adelbert, I fear you do your wife a great injustice. With just barely enough vitality to hand your name down to posterity and blast the fair future of Dakota by leaving your trade-mark on future generations, you snivel and whine over your blasted life! If your life had been blasted a little harder twenty years ago, the life of your miserable little wife would have been less blasted.
If you had acquired a little more croup twenty years ago, Dakota would have been ahead. Why did you go on year after year, permitting people to believe you were a man, when you could have undeceived them in two minutes by crawling into a hollow log and remaining there?
Your penmanship is very good. It is better than your chances for a bright immortality beyond the grave. Write to me again whenever you feel lonesome or want advice. I was a young married man myself once, and I know what they have to endure. Up to the time of my marriage, I had never known a harsher tone than a flute note; my early life ran quiet as the clear brook by which I sported, and so on. I was a great belle in society, also. I attended all the swell balls and parties in our county for years. Wherever you found fair women and brave men tripping the light bombastic toe, you would also find me. “Sometimes I played second violin, and sometimes I called off.”
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