Story type: Essay
“Woman wields a wonderful influence over man’s destinies,” said Woodtick William, the other day, as he breathed gently on a chunk of blossom rock and then wiped it carefully with the tail of his coat.
“Woman in most cases is gentle and long suffering, but if you observe close for several consecutive weeks you will notice that she generally gets there with both feet.
“I’ve been quite a student of the female mind myself. I have, therefore, had a good deal of opportunity to compare the everedge man with the everedge woman as regards ketchin’ on in our great general farewell journey to the tomb.
“Woman has figgered a good deal in my own destinies. My first wife was a large, powerful woman, who married me before I hardly knew it. She married me down near Provost, in an early day. Her name was Lorena. The name didn’t seem to suit her complexion and phizzeek as a general thing. It was like calling the fat woman in the museum Lily. Lorena was a woman of great strength of purpose. She was also strong in the wrists. Lorena was of foreign extraction, with far-away eyes and large, earnest red hands. You ought to have saw her preserve order during the hour for morning prayers. I had a hired man there in Utah, in them days, who was inclined to be a scoffer at our plain home-made style of religion. So I told Lorena that I was a little afraid that Orlando Whoopenkaugh would rise up suddenly while I was at prayer and spatter my thinker all over the cook stove, or create some other ruction that would cast a gloom over our devotions.
“Lorena said: ‘Never mind, William. You are more successful in prayer, while I am more successful in disturbances. You go on with your petition, and I will preserve order.”
“Lorena saved my life once in a singular manner. Being a large, powerful woman, of course she no doubt preserved me from harm a great many times; but on this occasion it was a clear case.
“I was then sinking on the Coopon claim, and had got the prospect shaft down a couple of hundred foot and was drifting for the side wall with indifferent success. We was working a day shift of six men, blasting, hysting and a little timbering. I was in charge of the crew and eastern capital was furnishing the ready John Davis, if you will allow me that low term.
“Lorena and me had been a little edgeways for several days, owing to a little sassy remark made by her and a retort on my part in which I thoughtlessly alluded to her brother, who was at that time serving out a little term for life down at Canyon City, and who, if his life is spared, is at it yet. If I wanted to make Lorena jump nine feet high and holler, all I had to do was just to allude in a jeering way to her family record, so she got madder and madder, till at last it ripened into open hostility, and about noon on the 13th day of September Lorena attacked me with a large butcher knife and drove me into the adjoining county. She told me, also, that if I ever returned to Provost she would cut me in two right between the pancreas and the watch pocket and feed me to the hens.
“I thought if she felt that way about it I would not return. I felt so hurt and so grieved about it that I never stopped till I got to Omaha. Then I heard how Lorena, as a means in the hands of Providence, had saved my unprofitable life.
“When she got back to the house and had put away her butcher knife, a man came rushing in to tell her that the boys had struck a big pay streak of water, and that the whole crew in the Coopon was drowned, her husband among the rest.
“Then it dawned on Lorena how she had saved me, and for the first time in her life she burst into tears. People who saw her said her grief was terrible. Tears are sad enough when shed by a man, but when we see a strong woman bowed in grief, we shudder.
“No one who has never deserted his wife at her urgent request can fully realize the pain and anguish it costs. I have been married many times since, but the sensation is just the same to-day as it was the first time I ever deserted my wife.
“As I said, though, a woman has a wonderful influence over a man’s whole life. If I had a chance to change the great social fabric any, though, I should ask woman to be more thoughtful of her husband, and, if possible, less severe. I would say to woman, be a man. Rise above these petty little tyrannical ways. Instead of asking your husband what he does with every cent you give him, learn to trust him. Teach him that you have confidence in him. Make him think you have anyway, whether you have or not. Do not seek to get a whiff of his breath every ten minutes to see whether he has been drinking or not. If you keep doing that you will sock him into a drunkard’s grave, sure pop. He will at first lie about it, then he will use disinfectants for the breath, and then he will stay away till he gets over it. The timid young man says, ‘Pass the cloves, please. I’ve got to get ready to go home pretty soon.’ The man whose wife really has fun with him says, ‘Well, boys, good-night. I’m sorry for you.’ Then he goes home.
“Very few men have had the opportunities for observation in a matrimonial way that I have, William. You see, one man judges all the wives in Christendom by his’n. Another does ditto, and so it goes. But I have made matrimony a study. It has been a life-work for me. Others have simply dabbled into it. I have studied all its phases and I am an expert. So I say to you that woman, in one way or another, either by strategy and winnin’ ways or by main strength and awkwardness, is absolutely sure to wield an all-fired influence over poor, weak man, and while grass grows and water runs, pardner, you will always find her presiding over man’s destinies and his ducats.”