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“I slept and dreamed that life was beauty,
I waked and found that life was duty.”

More than four years have glided away since Eleanor's
marriage, and she is now a matron of six-and-twenty. She
had experienced the transition, common in the happiest
married relation, from adoration to friendship—passed from
the tropics to the temperate zone, a passage that often chills
conjugal happiness in its first blossoming. She had borne the
perils and heavy responsibilities of maternity; and in addition
to her share of the inevitable labor and annoyance from
Celtic domestic service, she had satisfactorily responded to
the demands on her time, strength, and sympathy from the
multitudinous congregation of her husband. And yet the
sweet serenity of Eleanor's brow was unruffled, the composure
of her spirit undisturbed. And why was she not impatient,
petulant, unreasonable, disappointed, like half the
petted children of fortune? Because she accepted life as
God's gift, and recognized, in all its details, the infinite love
that floods it with enjoyments. Because she received life's
tasks as her divine Master's appointment, and performed
them with a cheerful filial spirit, a religious obedience and
faith. A happy temperament may sustain one through a
healthful and occupied youth, but nothing less than a religious
spirit can meet the strain when cares, and toil, and
change—that come to all—come. And certainly, nothing
less can overcome the greater perils of ease, luxury, and indulgence.


Page 149
If it be not so, why do we hear such a pestilent
breathing of ennui and complaint from homes that should
be alive and happy? Why do our most gifted and accomplished
young women question life instead of using it, as if
its harvests could be reaped without being sown? Why do
so many married and unmarried women waste, and fret, and
fritter away life, instead of seeing that each cross, trial, and
blessing is a rung of that ladder which is set for them to
mount to heaven! Let them pray and strive for the spirit
that makes life duty, and duty life.

Eleanor had sustained all the ordinary trials of her position.
She had now something harder to struggle with—
something that would require all the strength of her well-preserved
health, and all the equanimity of her cheerfully
religious spirit.

In the midst of her husband's popular and satisfactory
career, he was disturbed by secret misgivings on points of
faith, which he had professed and promised to preach. He
was too honest a man for compromises and shams, and his
scrupulous investigations and over-work in every way—the
malaria of our atmosphere—were beginning to tell on his
health and temper.

The four years over which our history has leaped, had
brought Grace to the ripe age (in our fine world) of twenty-two.
Whether and how time had modified her character
in these four years, she will best show. She entered her
sister's nursery one bright morning, when Eleanor was repairing
a vest of her husband's. Her eldest child, May,
was sitting on a stool beside her, pricking her little finger
with her first hemming. A boy, not yet two years old,
was toddling about the room, watched, through his mischievous
gyrations, by his busy mother; and an infant
girl of six months was sleeping in the crib. Awakened
by Grace's entrance, she opened her eyes, and stretched


Page 150
her arms toward her. Grace caught her up, embraced
her vehemently, waltzed around the room with her, calling
her fond names, and then laying her down, she gazed
at her with an expression half curious and half sad, and

“Nan gives you a smile for your sigh, Grace!” said the

“Yes, poor child.”

“Why, `poor child?'”

“Why! ah, Eleanor! she only smiles because she does
not see beyond the threshold of life—the life she will spend
like most of us—not you, dear—`in drawing water in leaky
vessels.' She is now in the freshness of Paradise, but she
sees not the `mournful Eden' beyond it, and she smiles,
Eleanor. I sigh, seeing the rose tints of dawn changing to
leaden hues, the clouds of disappointment and infinite tediousness

“But, dear Grace, life is like a picture. Its beauty depends
on its lights and shadows, and those we can adjust for

“Yes, for the picture, but not for life, Eleanor—not for
life. Never reason from analogies, they always mislead.”

“Then I appeal to primitive truths. God gives life, and
therefore it must be a good.”

“And so I have tried to look upon it and to be content
with it. When you lived with us, Eleanor, I was happy—I
was young then—the rose tints had not quite faded. And
after you left us, for a year or two, life slid away. I filled
it up with the precious stuff that Anne Carlton's life is made
of; with dresses, and gayeties (so-called!) and `beaux.'
And when this bored me intolerably, I took yours and
Frank's advice, my dear physicians, and sought occupation.
I took to my music, and studying and reading German; and
then, misled by flattery of a talent for art only a little more


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than ordinary, I took to painting in oils. But after six
months' work, and poor old Bossi's admiration growing from
`Bene, bene!' to `Admirabile!' I saw a true Murillo, that
holy family of Tallis'—how dare his wife look at it?—I kissed
it—I knelt before it—and, as you know, Eleanor, I went
home and ordered all my bedaubed canvas to the garret.
After that, you coaxed me into your school for the German
emigrants. I was interested for a while, but it was not my
calling, and now I have subsided into the old rut with Mrs.
Herbert and Anne, and am not a whit better, and not half
so happy as they.”

“But, dear Grace, you know as well as I that happiness is
not got by running after it.”

“Ah, good-morning, Frank!” exclaimed Grace, “I am
glad you have come in; Eleanor was just beginning one of
her lay sermons, which I particularly dislike, because they
always end with leaving me in the wrong, convinced, but not
cured; and what is the use of conviction without amendment?
Pardon my disrespect to your profession, Frank,
but speak honestly—is any one ever made better by

“Certainly—my whole congregation.” The slight smile
that quivered on Esterly's lips vanished as he turned to his
wife, and said petulantly, “Eleanor, do I own a pocket-handkerchief?
There is not one in my drawer.”

Eleanor went to her husband's dressing-room, returned,
and giving him a handkerchief, said, with a smile, “There is
a pile of at least a dozen there.”

Esterly was absorbed in forcing a stud through a stiffly
starched shirt-bosom, and did not look into Eleanor's face to
see its unruffled sweetness, but thrust the handkerchief into
his pocket, without the “thank you” a gentleman bestows on
a maid-servant.

“I really wish, Eleanor, you would not forget to speak


Page 152
to Bridget about doing up my shirts so abominably,” he

“I have spoken to her, repeatedly.”

“Then turn her away—it's intolerable.”

He left the room with a nod to Grace, but turned back to
say, “I am not sure I shall return to dinner. You may wait
for me till five, Eleanor.”

“Eleanor, dear sister, you are a saint!” exclaimed Grace;
“I should detest a man, if he made me responsible for
the order of his drawers, and the starching of his shirts.”

Eleanor colored slightly, but not a muscle of her face was

“What transformation is there,” continued Grace, “in
the old myths, half so horrible as that of a lover into a husband?”
Just think of the devoted lover Frank was, four
years ago; a handkerchief you had but touched, was sacred
as a holy relic to him, and he would have sacrificed the
whole Protestant Episcopal Church rather than have kept
you waiting an hour for your dinner.”

“Then, Grace, he has gained in rationality what I have
lost in homage.”

“Eleanor, don't affect to justify him. I would not have
you an exacting wife, but I can not endure such utter self
negation. I know very well what Frank is—an excellent
husband in the main, very far better than most men; but
that is only saying he is far better than most brutes.”

“My dear Grace, you are in a worse humor than poor
Frank, this morning, but still, I think it would do neither
him, nor you, nor me good if I were to be vexed with him, or
with your attack on my husband, and fly out upon you for it.”

“You fly out! When lambs `growl and fight,' and
doves pick out vultures' eyes, then you will `fly out.' The
truth is, Eleanor, you are too unresisting, almost impassive.
When was there any thing gained in this world by inert submission?


Page 153
I do not like women publicly to champion women's
The Madame Georges, and our own prize-fighters
in women's conventions have made the very phrase odious;
but I would have every woman, in her own place, maintain
her dignity, and not submit to those little domestic wrongs
and tyrannies of your `very good men,' which are vestiges
of the dark ages.”

“You would recommend a species of guerilla warfare, my
dear, a fighting hand-to-hand in the seclusion and fastnesses
of home.”

“Fighting! no, but remonstrance—and—and resistance,
if need be. Tell me, honestly, Eleanor, do you really think
that your husband had any right to speak pettishly to you,
because his pocket-handkerchiefs were not where his lordship
expected to find them? to flout you, because your
laundress happened to put rather too much starch in his
shirts? or to make you wait an hour for your dinner, with
more discourtesy than he would have used toward the keeper
of a lodging-house? Now, answer me fairly, and not as a
special pleader for Frank—come. I see your feelings are
roused: there are those red spots on your white throat that
always indicate that your well-spring of feeling, which lies
deep, is stirred; but answer me fairly, Eleanor.”

“I will, Grace.”

“Yes, perfection, I know you will—proceed.”

“The relation between husband and wife, like all the other
relations of life, is imperfect, and more difficult than any
other, because it brings our imperfect natures into the
closest relation, complicated by complete community in some
respects, and indestructible individuality in others.”

“Pray, my darling,” interrupted Grace, “do you indite
Frank's sermons for him?”

“If I did, Grace, my next should be on patience, and you
should be the `awful example.'”


Page 154

“You are heavenly, Eleanor—go on.”

Eleanor proceeded, very much in earnest. “The nature
of the relation must account for a vast deal of imperfection
on both sides, and for some unpremeditated wrong on the
part of the husband. There are little conjugal tyrannies
that are relics of the stern domestic despotisms of past times,
which even such a man as Frank, good, kind, generous as he
is, and more loving than the lover, is unconsciously guilty of.
If any thing goes wrong in the household, the husband frets
at the wife, as we fret at the weather, without ever thinking,
in either case, that injustice is done to the Providence that
orders without and within. But the condition of women
and wives is ameliorating. Honest and generous men are
righting our great legal wrongs; and if our virtue improves
with our condition, the time is not far distant when such a
man as Frank will not—” Eleanor hesitated; she could not
bear to finish a sentence to her husband's disadvantage.

“When he will not, like a cross horse, bite his mate
whenever the harness galls,” interposed Grace; “but go on,

“Frank is never deliberately unkind, or even inconsiderate,

“And you are never stung by his injustice—extempore?

“That I did not pretend. Frank has the irritable temperament
that belongs to a fervent character. He is often
harassed in ways that you do not know, and over-worked,
and not well; and I, who best know the causes of his little
irritations, am best able to bear them. If I were to remonstrate,
and expostulate, and stand upon my dignity—most
uncomfortable ground to stand upon—or if I were to sulk,
or to weep, these transient dissatisfactions would ripen into
disgust, and then where would our love be?—the treasure
—the life of our lives! You know, dear Grace, there is a


Page 155
law of nature, by which running streams, if not disturbed by
external forces, deposit their impurities, and so I think our
affections by this divine law will become purer and purer,
till the mortal stream passes, in crystal clearness, into the
ocean of eternal love.”

“Happily symbolized, Eleanor. And so, if I understand
you, your patience, and forbearance, and love, is, in the life-long
course of the conjugal stream, to perfect Frank's purification?”

“I certainly did not mean, Grace, to make any such pharisaical
pretension. If I am patient with his foibles, he is
very forbearing with my faults. These trifling interruptions
of our tranquillity pass like the summer breeze over the
grain-field—the crop is the stronger, the harvest is the richer
for them. If you will stay and dine with us to-day, you
will see that neither Frank nor I remember that he was
ruffled this morning.”

“Oh! no doubt his feathers are smoothed down by exercise
in the open air, and—perhaps—a little parochial flattery.
Your's need no smoothing down, Eleanor, for they are never

“My temper is less perturbable than Frank's: no merit of
mine, for I have better health, and fewer annoyances. But,
Grace, I have faults quite as serious as his, and far more annoying
to him than his are to me.”

“In what undiscovered region do they lie, my dear?”

Eleanor was about to reply, when the tête-à-tête was interrupted
by a quick step on the stair, and a recognizing exclamation
from little May of, “There's papa again!” and
Esterly entered, his face radiant with pleasure. “Eleanor,”
he said, “Archibald Lisle has arrived! I met him coming
to see us—looking so well, and so handsome. He has
promised to dine with us to-morrow. You must come too,
Grace; and ask Uncle Walter.”


Page 156

“Certainly I will come, and you may be sure of Uncle
Walter—Mr. Lisle was such a favorite with him; and I like
a fresh traveler, before he subsides into the dullness of business

“And, if I remember, Grace, you liked him before he was
a traveler?”

“Yes, I think I should have liked him better if he had
given me the opportunity; but like most of our clever
young men, he kept aloof from society—so called. Is he at
all changed?”

“No, except in an appearance of health. He looks as
vigorous as an Englishman; and, perhaps there is now something
of the air of a traveled man—a man of the world—and

“The air of a rustic?” said Grace.

“No, he never had that; less the air of a hard-working

“We will not quarrel about terms, Frank. I remember
it distinctly—Horace Copley called it `the stoop legal.'”

“Horace Copley! I wish his `inner man' were as erect as

“Do not be quite so professional in your slurs, Mr. Frank,”
said Grace. The eyes of both husband and wife glanced at
Grace, and then met. Grace colored slightly, while she said
carelessly, “I suppose travel has had its usual effect in polishing
your friend?”

“I can not say. To me, he is the identical `Archy' of
our old, cordial days; the same light in his face, the same
warmth in his heart. The color of his coat is changed; poor
fellow! he has lost his excellent old father. But truly,
Grace, I did not look at the tie of his neckcloth, nor am I
quite sure whether a moustache adorn his face or not—
neither could make, or much mar him.”

“A concession, brother Frank, from one whose priestly


Page 157
office forbids all such adornments. But where has your
friend been, what sphere illuminated, since he left us?”

“He has been through a course of lectures on the civil
law at a German university, and in the mean while delving
in the German language and German literature—thus occupying
the first six months, and the last nine he has been running
over Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Palestine.”

“Bless me! I thought he was a poor young lawyer, forced
abroad to recover his health.”

“So he was. Not absolutely poor, either. He had two
or three thousand dollars to spare, and chose to invest them
in health and accomplishments, which could be had abroad
at a cheaper rate than at home.”

Grace sighed. Possibly she thought of men's different
tastes in investments, for, the preceding evening she had
heard a snobbish friend of Horace Copley enumerating, with
a tailor's precision, the costly articles of his luxurious wardrobe,
and conclude with a sum total of $2,000 for annual investments
in coats, vests, etc. “Pray, Frank,” continued
Grace, pursuing their subject, “can a man, just well started
in his profession, lay it down and resume it at pleasure?”

“No—certainly not in New York, where an individual is
not missed much longer than a particular wave from the ocean.”

“He can hardly expect,” said the considerate Eleanor,
“another piece of good fortune, like that of his partnership
with our old Counselor Jones.”

“Perhaps not,” replied her husband, “but it was by his
merit he attained that good fortune, and in due time his
merit will set him on his feet again. He depends on no accident
of patronage. With his experience, accomplishments,
laboriousness—and necessities, he can not fail.”

“Necessities, Frank?”

“Yes, his father has left a young family to be taken care
of; so, as he says, he must to work at once.”


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“Yes, work—work—work!” echoed Grace, “the demon
that haunts the American mind. All are alike ridden by
this `man of the sea.' Work for money—for fame—for duty.
Truly we work out the primeval curse. We are all taskwork

“With a few notable exceptions,” said Esterly; “Copley,
par exemple.”

“Yes, Mr. Esterly, Horace Copley is an exception. He
is a man of elegant tastes, elegant manners, and elegant

“And very elegant fortune, my dear sister, to the right
expenditure of which, if he continues favored by your approbation,
I trust he will sacrifice his elegant idlesse.”

Grace threw on her cloak, and was abruptly bidding
“good-morning,” when little May called out, “Come back,
my Grace, and kiss me!” Grace turned to embrace the
child, but she held her at arm's-length, and looking at her
with an expression of detective truth, the Ithuriel spear that
children come armed into the world with, she said, “You
are not good this morning, Grace—you are not my Grace!”
Grace made no reply, but as she went down the stairs, she
wiped away hot tears that sprang from a consciousness
responding to the child.