The other side.
Breakfast was just over at t he Parsonage, the table was cleared away, the chairs set back, and Mrs. Ashton
in a neat morning dress, with a pretty little cap on her pretty little head, was standing with her arm over her tall husband's shoulder, looking at the morning paper.
And as fine a looking pair they were as you are, likely to see on a summer's day.--The reversed Clement Ashton
was indeed regarded the handsomest man in the parish, and that with good reason.
Whether he ever had an idea of has own upon the subject, was entirely his affair.
, as she was styled by the parish — Christiana
, as her godfather and godmother named her — Chrissy, as her brother's and husband called her — was not usually regarded as remarkably handsome.
Her features were not very regular, and she was not very ill, but her eyes were so bright and color and her figure so elastic and her abundant hair, and above all, her they manners, and the expression of sunny good temper and perfect openness lighting up her face, made most people consider her a very attractive woman.
Forever one in the parish liked her, from the two old people, who eat near the above in church and always came round to get their dinner at the parsonage on Sunday, to Mrs. Dr. Rush
, who was by far the grandest lady in the parish.
and Mrs. Ashton
had been married about six months, after an engagement of almost three years, during which time they had corresponded vigorously, but had seen very little of each other, for Mr. Ashton
was an assistant in an overgrown parish in one of our larger cities, and could seldom be spared; and Chrissy was a teacher in another great city, where she supported herself and helped by her labors to educate one of her brothers for the ministry.
It was not until this brother had finished his studies and was on the independent footing, that she had consented to be married.
‘"George cannot support himself entirely"’ she said, in answer to the remonstrances of her lover; "he is now strong enough to labor as many of the young men do, and he needs my help.
I know that he has talents that will make him ardently useful in the calling he has chosen, I know, too, that if he any more than he is doing his health's will fail, and at will become discouraged.
You most content yourself to board a while longer with good friend, Mrs. Blokets Clement
And to the resolution she stead lastly ochered, despite Clement
's persuasions and those of George who was much distressed at the thought that his sister's marriage should be put off on his account.
Under these circumstances the lovers did not see much of each other, and they were finally married without Chrissy ever having suspected her of an affirmably of temper.
She had suffered much on discovering that such was the cause, and felt inclined sometimes to wish never been disenchanted; but she was a very also woman; she knew her husband's excellences, and his strength as well as weakness and altering an old maxim to her purpose, she resolved both to endure and to cure.
‘"What do you set about to day"’ said she, as Mr. Ashton
arose from the corner of the sofa, having exhausted the paper.
‘"Visiting"’ replied his reverence. "I must go up to old Mrs. Balcomb
's and see the Joneses, and try to prevail on Phil Taggart
to let his children come to Sunday school once more.
Then I have to see poor Maggie Carpenter
, who is much worse again; and if I have time I shall get into the omnibus and ride out to the mills to see that girl Miss Flower mentioned to me yesterday.
‘"What a round!"’ exclaimed Chrissy.
‘"You will never get home to dinner at two o'clock. I think I will put it off till six, and run the of being thought stuck up, like poor cousin Lilly?"’
‘"What do you mean?"’
‘"Why, you know they always dine at six to suit the Doctor
One day Lilly
called about some society matter on a lady who lives not a hundred miles from her street, about five o'clock in the afternoon.--The lady herself came to the door, and Lilly
was about entering, when she thought she perceived the smell of roast meat in the hall; and said very politely, but perhaps it is now your dinner hour?"’
replied madam, with indignation.
We don't dine at this time of day; we are not so stuck up!"’
!"’ exclaimed Mr. Ashton
‘"What did she say? "’
‘"O, she did her errand and retired, of course.
There was nothing to be said."’
turned to go into the study, and as he did so, his foot caught in the carpet, and he was nearly thrown down.
Chrissy started in alarm, but he recovered himself and said pettishly--
‘"I do wish you would have that carpet nailed down.
I have stumbled over it twenty times in the course of a week, I really believe."’
‘"I thought Amy had fastened it down."’ returned his wife with perfect mildness.
‘"I am sure I saw her at work there.
The door must pull it out of place, I think."’
‘"Oh, of course there is some excellent reason for its being out of order, It seems to be that with all your ingenuity you might find some way of making it more secure."’
He turned into his study, shutting the door after him with unnecessary force, and Mrs. Ashton
returned to the fire and arranged her work basket for the day, with something of a cloud on her face.
She was not left long undisturbed, for Mr. Ashton
's voice was soon heard calling her in impatient tones.
She sighed, but rose and entered the next room, where she found her husband standing before his bureau partly dressed, and with shirts, cravats and handkerchiefs scattered about him, like a new kind of snow, while his face bore an expression of melancholy reproach at once painful and ludicrous.
‘"What is the matter?"’ she asked.
‘"O, the old story.
No button where it ought to bel Not a shirt ready to wear!
I do not mean to be unreasonable,"’ he continued, in an agitated voice, as he tumbled over the things to the manifest discomposure of the clean linen, ‘"but, really, Chrissy, I think you might see that my clothes are in order.
I am sure I would do more than that for you, but here I am delayed and put to the greatest inconvenience because you cannot sew on these buttons.
I should really think that a little of the time you spend in writing to George and Henry might as well be bestowed on me."’
This address was delivered in a tone of
mournful distress which might have been justified.
perhaps, if Mrs. Ashton
had picked his pocket of his sermon as he was going to church.
‘"What is the matter with this shirt?"’ said Chrissy, quietly examining one of the discarded paraments.
‘"It seems to have all the buttons in their places, and this one, too, is quite perfect; and here is another.
My dear husband.how many shirts do you usually wear at a time"’
‘"Oh, it is very well for you to smile, my love, but I do assure you I found several with no means at all of fastening the wristbands.
We had breakfasted late, and now I shall be detained half an hour, when I ought to be away.
I know you mean well; but if you had served a year's apprenticeship to my mother before you were married, it might have been all the better for your housekeeping."’
‘"It might have prevented it all together,"’ thought Chrissy; but the thought was repressed in a moment.
She picked up and replaced the scattered apparel, folded the snowy cravats, warmed her husband's overshoes, and saw that the beautiful little communion service, presented by a lady of the parish, and consecrated to such sufferers as Maggie Carpenter
, was in readiness.
Before he left the house, Mr. Ashton
had forgotten both his fretfulness and its cause.
He kissed his wife, and thanked her for her trouble, and proposed that she should send for Lilly
to spend the day with her, and strode away with his usual elasticity of step.
Chrissy watched him from the door till he turned into the next street, and then went back to the fireside and to her own reflection.
The fretfulness and tendency to be disturbed as little matters was almost her husband's only fault.
He was self-sacrificing to the last degree faithful and indefatigable as an apostle, almost.
in his professional labors, liberal to a fault; and in his administration of parish matters, wise and conciliating to all. He could bear injuries, real injuries, with the greatest patience, and was never known to harbor resentment.
But with all these good qualities, Mr. Ashton
had one fault — a fault which threatened to disturb and finally destroy the comfort of married life.
If his wife had, by extravagance or bad management, wasted his income and involved him in difficulties, it is probable that he would never have spoken an unkind word to her; but the fact of a button being missed or a book removed from its place, would produce a lamentation half indignant and half pathetic, which rung in Chrissy's ear's and made her heart ache long after Clement
had forgotten the circumstance altogether.
Strange as it may seem, Mr. Ashton
never thought of this habit, of which indeed, he was but imperfectly conscious as to its being a fault.
He thought, indeed, that it was a pity he should be so sensitive, and sometimes said that he wished he had not such love of order and symmetry; for then he should be so often annoyed by the disorderly habits of other people.
He said to himself that it was one of his peculiar trials that even Chrissy, perfect as she was, did not come up to his ideas in this respect; but that the temper with which he met what he was pleased to call his peculiar trials ever became a trial to other people, he did not imagine, He had indeed remarked, in spite of himself, that Chrissy's face was not as cheerful, nor her spirits as light, as when they were just married, and he regretted that the cares of housekeeping should wear so heavily upon her; but nothing was further from his thoughts that anything in himself could have produced the change.
, exhausted with his day's work, toward home, with his mind and heart full at all he had seen and felt.
He said very little.
during dinner; but when the table cloth was to moved, and he sat down in his dressinggown and slippers before the fire, he related to his wife all the events of the day, describing with all the enthusiasm of his earnest nature the patience and how resignation he had witnessed, and ended by saying:
"Certainly religion has power to sustain and console under and utter every misfortune.--
‘"Excepting she foss of a button,"’ replied Chrissy, seriously, is a misfortune which neither public religion can enable one to sustain.
The reverend Mr. Ashton
started as though a pistol had been discharged at his ear.
‘"Why, what do you mean, Chrissy?"’
‘"Just what I "’ returned Chrissy, with the same soberness for instance; you can bear with the greatest resignation the loss of friends, and I never saw you rattled by from others, or show any impacts see there severe pain; but the loss of a your shirt, or a nail from the carpet, perfect right to be misreasonable, unkind, and I must say it--
rose and walked up and down the room in some agitation.
‘"I did not think, my love,"’ he said at last, in a trembling ton, ‘"that you would attach so much importance to a single hasty word.--Perhaps I spoke too quickly; but, even if it were so, did we not promise to be patient with each other's infirmities?
I am very glad to bear with"’--
paused; he was an eminently truthful man, and, upon consideration, he could not remember that he had ever had anything to bear from his wife aside from the shirt buttons, etc., which he was now becoming conscious he had not borne very patiently.
‘"If it were only once, my dear husband, I should say nothing about it; but you do not seem in the least aware how the habit has grown upon you. There has not been a day this week in which you have not made my heart ache by some such outburst of fretfulness."’
was astonished; but as he began to reflect, he was still more surprised to find that his wife's accusations were quite true.
One day it had been about the front door mat
, the next about a mislaid Review, and then a lost pair of gloves, which, after all, were found in his own pocket.
He felt that it was all true, and as his conscience brought forward one instance of unkindness after another — real unkindness — he sat down again and covered his face with his hands.
‘"But this is not the worst,"’ continued Chrissy, becoming agitated in turn.
‘"I fear — I cannot help fearing — that I shall be led to feel as I ought not toward you. I fear lest I shall in time lose the power of respecting my husband; and when respect goes, Clement
, love does not last long.
This very morning I found myself wishing I had never known you."’
Chrissy burst into tears, an unusual demonstration for her, and Clement
, springing up once more, traversed the room once or twice, and then sat down by his wife's side.
,"’ he said, mournfully, ‘"I have deserved it; I feel that I have but to lose your respect to lose your love; my punishment is greater than I can bear, Chrissy."’
‘"It was but the thought of a moment,"’ replied Chrissy, checking her sobs; ‘"but I am frightened that the idea should have entered my head.
If I should, I would rather die this moment."’
‘"God forbid!"’ ejaculated her husband, as he clasped her in his arms.
‘"But why, my dearest, have you never told me of this before?"’
‘"It is neither a graceful nor a grateful office for a wife to reprove her husband, or a woman her pastor,"’ replied Carissy, laying her hand on his shoulder; "and if I had not been left here all day, I think I should hardly have got my courage up now. But if you are not angry I am glad that I have told you all that was in my heart; for, indeed, my dear, it has been a sad, aching heart this long time.
And now I must tell you how those two unlucky shirts came to be buttonless.
‘"No, don't say one word about them, my love,"’ said Clement
‘"I will never complain again, if the sleeves are missing as well as the buttons. "’
‘"But I must tell you, because I really mean to have my housekeeping affairs in as good order as any one.
I was looking over your shirts yesterday afternoon, and had put them all to rights but these two, when Mrs. Lenox
came in, in great distress, to say that her sister's child was much worse, and, they feared, dying; so I dropped all and went over there.
You know how it was. No one had any calmness or presence of mind; the child's convulsions were frightful to witness; the mother was in hysterics, and Mrs. Lenox
worse than nobody at all. It was nearly midnight before I could get away, and in the mean time Amy had put the room in order and restored the shirts to their places."’
Here Amy put her head into the room.
‘"If you please, Missus, a young woman in the kitchen would like to see Missus a minute."’
Missus arose and went into the kitchen, and Mr. Ashton
, taking a candle from the table, entered the study and locked himself in.--Chrissy waited for a long time, and at last went and tapped at the does.
It was opened to her with a kiss, and though there were not many words said on either side, there was a light in the eyes of the husband and wife which showed the understanding was perfect between then.