« IndietroContinua »
It was by careful closeness of mouth know; with white lace foams or cloud. on disputable topics, and an assenting lets of some kind at the neck, and dinon-committalism that would have just- vers enhancements that I don't know ly enraged one of the ancient martyrs, how to describe; but she seemed to me that I had maintained my position at to combine all the feminine beauties, Tom Willis' as intimate friend of the and none of the defects, of every thing family. The babit, however, was for- from a fashion-plate up to a lady-angel. tunate for my present design of spying But there was a third person to out the land ; and, as I was shown into whom Mrs. Onthank proceeded to prethe parlor where the ladies sat, I put sent me. myself into the highest imaginable state “Frow Addlehead von Rosefeld,"– of deceitful loveliness.
exactly thus it was that Mrs. Onthank I assure the reader that it is not for enunciated the name and title,—" let the purposes of this narrative that I
me make you acquainted with our intihave bestowed upon Mrs. Onthank the mate friend, Mr. Charles Talcott." traits and qualities which she possesses I bowed, and expressed no end of dein such notable measure. She speaks light; for this was Adelheid von Rosethrough her nose, which is a long one, feld, the great German Woman's-Rights somewhat pinched in at the base of the woman, you understand. A year before, nostrils. She dresses in a correct enough I had casually dropped in at a convenold-lady-like guise, though there is tion of anti-religionists, or “Progresalways a stain or two, or a rent or two, sionists” of some kind, where this very somewhere visible. Stains and grease- person had, at the peak and tip of a spots and holes do really persecute some gigantic volcano of infuriated scolding people, I'm satisfied ; they just go after against every thing whatever, erupted them like enraged bees, and light on in a final blaze of fury, by formally them and take possession of them. She charging to the account of the Bible all wears glasses of a broad and moony the alleged tyrannies of man and torgleam, and a band on her forehead with tures and abuses of women. And thereå shiny black jewel of some kind— with, as Mr. Burke once displayed a doubtless of great cost, though it looks dagger in a speech, she drew forth a like a flat button-in the midst of pocket Bible, shook it aloft, seized it in it; and her hair is of a delicate pepper- both hands, tore it violently asunder, and-salt color, and is worn in long ring- and flung it slam-down upon the platlets, or rather stringlets, whose curl is form, with a great curse. always wilted, all except a faint writhe. That is true, reader. I saw it. How Her eyes are little and sunken, as if her ever, it was not my plan to stir up any head had been dried too much in bak- hornets just yet, so I was extremely ing, and she has a graceful way of wav- oily, as I said and expressed my proing the said head about, as if her neck found satisfaction at enjoying the sociwere round and white as well as long ety of one so widely and favorably and slender, instead of the crinkly known as the energetic and fearless brown thing it is.
champion, and so forth. She was wonAs for Susy Willis, she is a little deli- derfully pleased, and fairly laughed cate figure, with golden hair and great with light at my compliments. mazarine-blue eyes, a little rosy mouth, How dumpy and coarse she looked ! a skin white until it seems translucent, Her contrast with Susy's symmetrical but radiant with her perfect purity of figure and extremely pure complexion temperament and health, and a virginal made her seem like a large heathen idol innocence of look that is the true index carved out of raw beef. Yet she is no to her extreme and lovely purity of fool at all, and has immense force and heart and mind. She wore very deli- courage. Indeed, how could she be a cate light blue robes, about which I vociferous female atheist without courcan't particularize, because I don't age ? But Susy did not know all this.
Now, the conversation that followed when her admiring spouse first gazed was somewhat thus, after preliminaries :
(To Susy) Wouldn't you ?” ONTHANK.
. “I've ben a convincin Mrs. WILLIS (blushing). “I never Susy that she must come out, Mr. Tal- can tell whether you are in earnest or cott."
in joke, Mr. Talcott.” MYSELF. “Come out, Mrs. Onthank? MYSELF (in earnest).
The illustraWhy, she came out successfully five tion was a little jocular, but the thought years ago, and the very next season she
was perfectly sincere." went in again—married safely out of Mrs. WILLIS. “I should try to do this troublesome world. What are you whatever I saw to be right.” going to pull her back for ?”
MYSELF. " And it would not frightMrs. Willis laughed and blushed in en you to have death come in the way; her pretty, shy way. The red German would it?" female seemed to chuckle, as if to inti- Mrs. WILLIS. “I think not. I should mate that she defied the scoffer.
be afraid of the pain, but I should have ONTHANK. Oh, shaw! Now, you no trouble afterward about doing right know very well where I stand on the
any more." wimmen question. You're a dretful The FROW. “Ve do not know vat dodger. You're always a-drivin the ve shall geketch after ve die. Also devil astound the rump."
must ve hurry to do all our vurk that is [I believe I forgot to observe, that possible vile ve are alive. Let us den the great Onthank was so full of
be quick, and drample de last dyrant thought that sometimes her words, in unter our foot. De last enemy is not the crowd and hurry of them, exchanged Death. It is de Men." heads and tails, as people do hats at a MYSELF. "Ah, madam, you are party, becoming temporarily somewhat brave and outspoken yet as you were disguised, though I believe that the last summer, at the Convention of the clearness and precision of her ideas was Centrifugal Progressionists! Indeed, it too great to be obscured thereby.] is lucky for us men that there are few
ONTHANK (continuing). “ Around women as strong and courageous as the stump, I mean. My life's ben a you." failure, because I've never ben able to The Frow (tickled). “You dinks, git hold of any great public interest, den, truly, ve can have all ve do choose. sech as I was adapted to manage, nor to take ?" to show what there was in me."
MYSELF (and very sincerely, too). MYSELF. “My dear madam, it's by “I do, indeed, madam. Indeed, I no means too late yet. It's exactly such know it. The fact is, the only reason fearless and untiring natures as yours that the women have not already the that are needed in all our great con- suffrage all over the United States, is,
But what makes you want to that they don't want it." subject this little lily to the fatigues (Now, this suggestion was, at first, of public life?
very striking and delightful to all three ONTHANK. . Oh, I don't mean to ladies, but, as they chewed upon it, it make an alderman of her. Taint in tasted bitter.) that line that she's calclated to skseed. ONTIIANK. “ That's a fact.-Yis, and But she's got histronic abilities of the they'd orter be ashamed of it, too." fust rank, and I'm clear, and so is the (Then, espying the insinuation) “Shaw! Frow, that she'd orter go forrud and we'll make 'em want it!" develop um. She owes it to the whole MYSELF. “But if you make them do. semale fex-female sex, I mean." so, you become the tyrants—don't you?
MYSELF. “If Mrs. Willis thinks it -instead of us men, who simply let her duty, I believe she will stand on her them be." head amongst twice as many fireworks Hereupon Mrs. Onthank, acting curi. as surrounded the late Mrs. Crummles ously like a man, began to get vexed
because she couldn't at once see any an- The Frow, with great pluck, chose
I did not propose to have her vex- the first move; but her play was most ed, however, and so I answered myself, mysterious, insomuch that I at once
“But, of course, you mean only the made up my mind to one of two things: force of right reason. Well, Mrs. On- either she was one of those solvers of thank, you have thought of this subject problems in twenty-seven moves, who a great deal more than I-as you have don't need to pay any attention to the of all the great subjects. You know, first half of the game, or she was a I'm quite too lazy to study them up. goose—a chess-goose, that is. HowIf you will find me a lady as attractive ever, I merely used the opportunities she as Mrs. Willis, and make me love her gave me for deploying during the first as much as Tom does his wife, and then few moves; for, I said to myself, if I make her believe as you do, I should am to be trodden down so ruthlessly, I have either to study the subject, or to must try to defer the evil day at least. yield at once, and let her go on the Now, I will not annoy you with the stage, or kill myself. Shouldn't I ?" details of this parti, memorable though
ONTHANK. . “You'd do jest as Mr. it was; but I may just set down the Willis is a-goin to, and let her go on following introduction, in case any perthe stage. You're too finicky to kill son of a chess turn of mind should light yourself, and you're too lazy 'to study upon this narrative, and should care to any thing but those everlastin' chess. see whether the Addlehead Gambit (as Don't b'lieve you've got go enough in I have baptized it) is worth analyzing. you to make much of a tyrant, that's The Frow had the black pieces (by the fact!”
choice, because, she said, the men alThis rather depreciatory judgment ways selected them, and she wouldn't was softened by the old lady's good- put up with it); and she playing first, natured manner. At least, she did not we proceeded thus : mean to be uncivil; and I fear she was
BLACK (The Frow.) WHITE (MYSELF). no more than truthful. However, the
1. K. P. 2. Frow Addlehead pricked up (so to
2. Q. P. 2. speak) her red ears at the word "chess," somewhat to my surprise.
5. K. B. to Q. 3. “Ah, Mr. Tall-coat, you play ze
6. Q. Kt. to Q. B. 3. 6. Q. B. to K. 3. chess ?"
7. K. P. 1. MYSELF (with a humility that has 8. Q. P. 1.
8. Q. Kt. to Q. B. 3. often gained me funny experiences). "A little, madam-enough to amuse a There—that will do. Now, my chess friend.”
friend, you may observe that, while the The FROW. “So. I vood like to lady's King looks pretty snug after her play a game viz you. I like to set my ninth move, yet, that you cannot point foot on ze tyrants. I do not find ze out any particular plan of operations gentelmen who can beat me."
for which her line of battle is available, And, indeed, the lady spoke, as it unless it be to wait and see if White were, with the sound of a trumpet, in- does not make a blunder; and her somuch that I said to myself, Have I pieces are badly cramped; whereas really found a lady that can play chess ? White really commands the whole But I only said I should be most happy board, having his forces capitally deto receive even a trampling from her. veloped, and, in fact, a very strong poAnother fib. What hoofs! But she sition for either attack or defence. was really eager about it; and the other Of no such comparison, however, did ladies, great votaries of hers, obviously, the lady seem to take note, but played were instantly almost as eager; so, as her own game almost exclusively (as I there was time enough, the equipage have seen other ladies do at chess, was produced, and the game began. greatly to their detriment). The open
1. K. Kt. P. I.
3. K, B. P. 2.
7. K. Kt. to K. B. 3.
ing being now pretty well completed, it her intellects, and made a knight's was time for the fighting to begin ; and move with queen's rook. I wouldn't as I had the opportunity, and could see have said a word even then, if Mrs. no just cause nor impediment to the Willis had not herself espied the error, contrary, I pushed my King's Pawn at and I was obliged, of course, to point her King's Knight. Really, I grieve to it out in a bland manner. say it, but that unlucky move of mine The end came, almost in spite of was the beginning of sorrows. me. “Mate in three," I said, at last. poor cavalier found no rest for the sole The Frow. “Oh, no! I shall take of his one foot, and, before many moves,
your Queen.” I had strangled him up in one corner MYSELF. “ It is mate on the move, with my awful pawns, and “captivat- madam, if you do that.” ed ” him. The Frow was highly dis- The Frow (after studying a long gusted.
time). “So !-yes. But in dree move? “ Vy do you play zat dirty piece Vell, I have my kink very much gegame ? " she asked, with sharpness. crowdet here. I believe I have loozed
MYSELF. “I really beg your pardon, him." madam ; I only thought I could secure It was I who had crowded her a knight, and I thought it would help “kink," as she called him. But she me win the game to do so. Would you could not seem to see that I was the allow me to replace it?"
means of her losing at all. She evi. She did allow me, but we had to re- dently knew that it was not my play, voke three moves before a means could but hers, that had decided. Perhaps it be found of saving the poor fellow's was; Heaven knows I'm not much of a life; and even then he was left dread- player! Chess requires some executive fully squeezed, and where be seemed faculty, and I'm afraid I haven't much somehow to block up four or five other more of that than an average woman. pieces. The poor Frow could not like She was extremely displeased, and my style of play. She said :
explained about the “ kink," and many “I am not used to play ze piece other things, at great length, in all of game. It is for ze profound combina- which I diligently helped her, and at tions zat I admire ze chess. Your play last restored her good-humor. is barbarous. You have already ruined We talked a while longer, mostly ze symmetry of ze game."
again on the “Wimmen Question," beMYSELF (with the greatest humility). fore I departed. It is needless to recall “I am very much mortified, madam. I any more of wbat was said ; but I was never played for symmetry in my life. fully convinced that Mrs. Willis would I play to win, unless I should lose a go on the stage, if her life and health game on purpose.”
continued. She had made up her mind The FROW (suspiciously).
to it; her restless, talking old mother vould not be so childish ?"
kept her interested about it. She was MYSELF. Assuredly not, madam. unquestionably an excellent reader, and I would not dream of any thing so dis- had a fair share of dramatic talent, too, respectful to you."
besides a sweet, flexible voice, very In spite of my polite disclaimers, I charming manners, and exquisite perdid almost try to lose the game, but it sonal beauty ; but all that will not sufwas of no use. I let her retract moves fice to make an actress, leaving out of and strings of moves, until I should view the question of obeying the tythink there had been play enough bit rant. off in such ravellings for a dozen games; “I vill put my foot on ze neck of ze gave her back piece after piece; and tyrant next time,” observed the Frow, only resisted her purpose on one occa- on my taking leave; and she added, in sion, when, towards the end of the a complimentary manner, " You are not game, she had become quite muddy in ze vorst tyrant, Mr. Tall-coat. I like
" But you
you very vell. Come and play chess lis was diligently training, under a provith me again."
fessional instructor, for the stage, and I alleged that it would give me that the time, place, and circumstances great pleasure, and departed.
for what Mrs. Onthank called her “de
bew,” were all fixed. Thus it happened It was my full intention to visit the that I only returned the day before the Frow again, with the idea of trying to awful occasion; and, as it was aftercoax her to help keep Mrs. Willis off noon, I strolled down to Willis' place the stage; for I confess that I could of business. not devise any more hopeful plan; and I found him just as I had left him, my consultations with Willis himself except that he had really grown pale suggested nothing better. We agreed and thin, and his face had begun to upon one point: that it was not best wear one of those fixed expressions that for him assert any authority in the are planted by the continuance of some matter, and that, if worst came to one strong feeling. It was, on Tom worst, the least evil for him to choose Willis' face, mingled anger and pain; was his wife's appearance in public, the anger gathered in the lowered brows even though accompanied with the and the corrugations between them; usual newspaper"
"critiques," and their the pain shown in the drawn and comdiscussions of her talents, her person, pressed lips. He was obviously exher history, her family, and her charac- tremely nervous and irritable withal, ter. Poor tyrant ! How insufferable, and was using the utmost force of a to be fumbled and tumbled, patted or very powerful will to keep himself scratched, insulted and abused and lied steady. So I said as little as possible. about, or still more nauseously and quite He knew very well how thoroughly I as falsely praised and flattered, in the sympathized with him; and the fact of “ Dramatic Feuilleton" of the city sympathy, not the statement of it, is all dailies! A sufficiently filthy experience that such characters want. even for a man. But for a man, a gen
He insisted on my going home with tleman, proud and reserved and sensi- him to dinner, and we went accordingtive, to stand helplessly by while the ly. “It's an hour early," Willis said, “ dramatic critics " discussed his wife ! “ but I want to talk over two or three I don't think I ever saw any body more things with you, and the parlors will utterly wretched; and his perfect in- be empty." ability to help himself was worst of all. When we arrived, Willis opened the He would not even quarrel with On front door with his latch-key, and, after thank, for fear of troubling Susy. He his invariable manner, very quietly. So simply—it is the hardest task of all in it was not until the door was shut such a situation—he simply held his again, and we were both within the tongue, and was no otherwise than hall, that a voice in the front parlor usual, except that he was very quiet was heard to exclaim, and very kind.
“Law suz! who's that!" Most probably my plan of influencing It was Onthank who spoke. the Frow would have failed; for, though “Hmh!” aspirated Willis, with his she could not play chess, she was a very mouth shut, and led the way towards rough, fearless, resolute, indelicate per- the back parlor. As he did so, Mrs. son, and was with all her heart in ac- Onthank continued, cord with Onthank. It would have “Oh! it's only Mr. Willis; and been almost as hopeless as to set David then we could hear that she went on against Jonathan. Nor did I have time talking. There was obviously some into try; for, certain business emergencies terlocutor. suddenly arising, I was obliged to travel We entered the further room. Willis away unexpectedly, and remain for some drew up two chairs near a window, and time. I knew, however, that Mrs. Wil- we sat down. The rooms communi