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Page 206


Mrs. Clement declared that she was not jealous.
She had affirmed this so often that she believed it, as
fully as she believed that Tom Clement, her husband,
was the handsomest fellow in the world. The Clements
had been married for several years, and it had been
fair weather with them all the time. It was a standing
joke with them that nothing inclement could occur
where both parties were Clement, and all went on
smoothly enough. Children were born to them, —
beautifully harmonious children, — born under pleasant
auspices, and were models for the world's imitation.
Such babies rarely were to be seen, and they were tall
feathers in the family cap, and added greatly to the happiness
of the worthy couple who boasted their paternity.

Nothing like jealousy ever entered that happy household.
Clement regarded his wife as an angel, and when
any visiting friend would joke with him concerning the
wickedness of the times, and about standing on slippery
places, he would snap his fingers, as much as to say he
did n't care a snap, not he, for the suggestion, feeling so
confident in her integrity.

While this feeling was at its height, a new family
moved into the Clement neighborhood. They were
young people, and genteel according to the orthodox
standard of gentility. Their name was Seville. They
had moved into Hopetown from abroad, and brought
with them letters to the best families in town; among
the rest to the Clements, who took an early occasion to


Page 207
call upon their new neighbors, and proffer them the
courtesies usually bestowed upon new comers by old
settlers. They found the Sevilles very fine people;
the one a gentlemanly and pleasant man, the other a
lady of rare beauty and winning address, and the visit
afforded great satisfaction to the Clements. It was renewed
afterwards, and a very agreeable sociality sprang
up between the families, and mutual and frequent visitations
were exchanged.

At these visitations, Mrs. Clement noticed how attentive
her husband was to Mrs. Seville, and Clement remarked
that his wife seemed very happy at the attentions
of Mr. Seville. Still, there was no jealousy
mingling with the feeling.

“Mrs. Seville is a charming woman,” said Clement, as
he was proceeding home, with his wife on his arm, “a
charming woman.”

He looked up at fiery Arcturus as he spoke, as if he
were informing that luminary of the fact; and the star
seemed to wink at him in return.

“Don't you think Mr. Seville a very splendid man?”
asked Mrs. Clement. “Such a noble bearing, such a
tenderness of manner, such whiskers!”

She spoke earnestly, and bore down heavily upon
Clement's arm, looking at a distant gas-light, which
seemed to glare upon her like a burning eye. And thus
they walked home, without exchanging another word.

It occurred to Tom Clement, the next day, that his
wife was strangely intimate with Seville, the night
before, and he remembered her eulogistic remark concerning
him with a feeling akin to pain. But he was
not jealous. The feeling was simply a dread lest she
should be deemed imprudent.

“How strangely infatuated Thomas is with Mrs.


Page 208
Seville!” said Mrs. Clement to herself, the next day, as
she sat alone. “What attention he pays her! How he
lolls over her chair, and turns over the leaves of her
music-book! It is years since he has been so attentive
to me.” There was a tear in her eye as she said or
thought this, and something like a sigh escaped her
lips. But she was not jealous. That was an admission
that she would never make, even to herself.

And thus things went on. Weeks passed away, and
harmony was unbroken in the home of the Clements.

“Are not Seville's attentions to you rather annoying?”
asked Clement, one morning, at breakfast. He
asked it carelessly, as though he were indifferent about
it himself, and only spoke on her account. She colored
up very warmly, before she replied,

“I asked Mrs. Seville the same question concerning
your attentions to her. I guess, if she can endure her
affliction, I can mine.”

There was a little mustard in the reply, — about as
much as is found in a lobster-salad, rendering it slightly

Clement was surprised at the reply. He — he — the
model husband, whose irreproachable constancy had
long been a subject of admiration — to himself — to be
thus assailed, by implication even, was not to be borne
without suitable notice. He laid down his knife in
order to give due effect to what he was to say, as a
rebuke or a moral lesson, given with a mouthful of food
for mastication, loses in its effect as food for reflection,
— a fact duly enforced by a recent decision of the
Retro-Progressive Unity.

“Do you say, Jane,” said he, severely, “that I pay
more attention to Mrs. Seville than is called for by the
rules of courtesy?”


Page 209

“And do you think, Thomas,” replied she, “that Mr.
Seville pays more attention to me than gentlemanly
politeness might warrant?”

“I do,” said he, rapping his knife-handle on the table.

“Ditto I do,” said she, spilling her coffee, in her agitation.

Clement pushed his chair away from the table, and,
with his breakfast unfinished, left the house. It was
the first domestic squall that had ever swept over their
home, and, like the received opinion of the effect of the
fall of man upon the earth, sorrow followed it. At
home, the children were cross, the cat had a fit, the
clothes-horse fell over upon the stove, the maid burst a
fluid-lamp, and general confusion prevailed. At the
store, Clement quarrelled with his partner, offended a
customer, could n't raise money to pay a note, took a
counterfeit bill, was drawn on a jury, and had his
pocket picked.

It was with a sad heart that he proceeded homeward
at night, where he had found so much peace and happiness.
He dreaded to go home, dreaded to meet the
wife he had so long loved; and yet he felt angry that
she should treat him thus. He had done nothing
wrong, and she alone was responsible for all the darkness
that he felt was lowering around his house. And
then there arose in his mind dark images of separation
and disgrace, that haunted him like devils, and the picture
of a ruined home and banished peace; and he shut
his eyes and groaned in the bitterness of his spirit.
He entered his door with a moody brow, and, like the
shadow of his own, his wife's brow was troubled, and
she acted as if she felt, for the first time, the duty of
house-keeping. There was no cheerfulness in it.


Page 210

“I have business that will keep me late this evening,”
said he, dryly.

“Very well,” she replied, in a tone of indifference;
“I shall not sit up for you, then.”

And thus they parted for a second time. I am a
believer in the utility of these little acidities. The mild
reäctions of temper have an effect to break up the crust
that environs a life possessed of too much peace. The
iron lying unused dies of corrosion. Gentle rubs are
needed to keep us bright. Love glows diviner when
emerging from the little clouds which for the moment
obscure it. But this quarrel was more serious; it
sprung, not from matters inherent in the parties, — little
pettishness, or wilfulness, that has but a momentary
existence, which, like Cassio's temper, emits a hasty
spark, and then is straightway cold again. It had its
rise in extraneous ground, and jealousy, that snake
in the grass, lay coiled at its root. They were not
jealous, however, if one were to believe them.

Clement was away every night for a week, on business,
of course, as he told his wife, in the brief conversation
that occurred between them; and she expressed
no concern about it at all, though when she was alone
she cried as if her heart would break with her sorrow.
She would not let him know she felt so badly, for the
world, so stubborn is the womanly nature; and he,
though he felt penitent, would not make advances
towards a reconciliation, so obstinate is the manly
nature. As some one has said, there is a good deal of
human nature in men and women.

Neither had visited the Sevilles all the while the
quarrel had lasted. They had thought so much of each
other that they had no room for any other thought.

“I saw your wife, last night, Tom,” said a neighbor,


Page 211
“coming out of Seville's gate. You did n't know his
wife had gone out of town, did you?”

If he had received a pretty hard knock on the head,
he could not have been more astonished. But he tried
to assume the old confident tone.

“You did, eh? well, what of it?”

“Why, it 's all well enough, I suppose,” said the tormentor,
giving a wink to a bystander, which Clement
did not see; “but I thought it was rather a queer time
to visit a house, at ten o'clock at night, when the mistress
of the house was away. She went three days ago.”

“I 'll risk it,” said he, with an attempt at a smile that
was a positive failure, and turned away to conceal his

He was as crazy as a spirit-rapper, all the rest of the
day. He made entries in the ledger, and attempted to
strike a balance in the day-book. He drew a check
payable to Seville, and put his wife's name to it. He
addressed his partner as Seville, and drew up a promise
to pay, payable at “ten o'clock at night,” instead of
ninety days. But amidst it all he came to a great conclusion
— he would watch his wife. What a step this
was, where distrust resolved to tip-toe it through the
dark, and watch the movements of one his heart told
him he loved! Though it has been a madness of mine
that jealousy and love were incompatible; that true love
expended itself irrespective of its object, and would
lead to sorrow and death, but not to hate; that jealousy
is a selfish feeling, springing from passion unrequited,
but passion is not love, though the dictionary says so.
This may be only a craze, so let it pass that he loved
her. It was a mean thing to watch her, at any rate.

He informed her, when he went home, that business
would keep him out; but the tone of his voice was so


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different from what it had been when he had previously
made her the same grave announcement, that she was
struck by it. At that moment, from some quarter, a
little suspicion dropped down into her mind, just as she
dropped a lump of sugar into her tea, though the suspicion
was not as sweet, and the figure of Mrs. Seville
became revealed to her gaze plainly in the lump of
butter on the table. She had heard, that very afternoon,
that Mr. Seville had been called out of town on business,
and her little head at once assumed it to be certain
that the treacherous Tom was to spend the evening
in the society of the lonesome wife. Harrowing reflection!
But she said nothing.

Clement went out, like a lamp filled with bad oil, and,
after a little while, Mrs. Clement came down stairs
dressed in a perfect disguise, she having drawn largely
upon the servant's wardrobe, and her own mother
would n't have known her from the Milesian Biddy
whose dress she wore. She opened the door softly, and
went out.

“There she comes,” said Clement; “I know her
through all her disguises.”

He stood just across the street, leaning upon a post.
His heart beat a quick measure against his ribs, and his
knees knocked together as he thought of the perfidy he
was about to detect. He moved down the street, with
his eye upon the little figure flitting along before him in
the gloom of night, with which his own gloom was in
perfect sympathy. She stopped, at last. His suspicion
was too true. She entered the gate leading to the
Seville mansion. He waited long enough to give her a
chance to enter before he ventured to follow.

A bright light burned in a lower corner room, in
which room were two windows, one looking towards


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the front of the house, and the other towards the end.
He hesitated a moment, and then, with “Tarquin's
ravishing strides,” he stole into the enclosure, and took
position beside the end window. There was an indistinct
sound of voices inside, — masculine and feminine,
— but whose he could not determine. The curtain,
too, was obstinately close, admitting not a single convenient
eye-hole, so essential in cases where a criminal
thing is to be proved. He listened painfully, but the
voices were provokingly indistinct. He thought he
would go round to the other window, and see if he
could see better. As he stealthily neared the corner,
feeling his way along in the dark, he came in contact
with another form, that appeared to be groping
in the direction which he came. He grasped the form
in his arms. A shriek rang out on the night-air. The
door opened, and Mr. Seville and his wife were revealed,
by the light of a lamp, standing on the door-step.

“Hallo, Clement!” said he, in a tone of surprise;
“why don't you come in? Who screamed?”

“ 'T was — 't was — 't was my wife,” replied he, rather
confused. “She struck against something, and was
much alarmed.”

“Well, come in,” said Seville; and they stepped
inside the door.

“I declare,” said Mrs. Seville, “I should think you
were coming to surprise us, you look so strangely.
Why, how queerly you are dressed, Mrs. Clement!”

“ 'T was a whim of mine,” said that little woman,
with a faint attempt to laugh; “please excuse it, do.”

She did not dare give the reason for her strange disguise,
but held her head down, and seemed rather
ashamed of it, or of herself. As she glanced up into
her husband's face, and saw the troubled expression it


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wore, she wished to throw herself upon his breast and
explain the mystery to him, and beg to be forgiven, and
to forgive him, whether he begged it or not, for the pain
he had caused her, but was restrained by the presence
of the Sevilles. She saw the necessity of keeping from
them the secret; and so, overcoming the embarrassment
of her manner, she became the vivacious and sparkling
little creature, to all appearances, that she ever had
been. She laughed at her bonnet, and laughed at her
dress, and made fun of herself in every way; but there
was a terrible choking in her throat, all the time, and
she would much rather have cried.

Somehow or other, her husband's attentions to Mrs.
Seville did not seem half so pointed to Mrs. Clement,
and the assiduity of Seville to please his wife did not
seem any way offensive to Tom Clement. His thoughts
were all with his wife, as hers were with him; and they
mutually longed to be together, that they might have
the mystery cleared up. The feeling became insupportable,
at length, and, bidding good-by, they brought
all the hypocrisy and lying of dissembled pleasure to a
close, and went home — home, that had not been home
for a week, that had seemed as long as four common
sunless weeks; for the sun of their love was under a

As soon as they arrived, even before she had taken
off her disguise, she threw herself upon his neck, and
asked his forgiveness.

“Forgive me! — forgive me!” said she, sobbing;
“will you forgive me?”

“Yes, yes,” said he; “anything, everything. But
what particular thing shall I forgive first?”

“Forgive my doubting your love; and for believing
that you cared more for Mrs. Seville than you did for


Page 215
me; and for watching, in this disguise, for two nights, to
see if you was n't there, while her husband was away,
as Mrs. Screed said he was.”

Poor Tom caved in, on hearing this, and he could n't
trust his voice to answer her, but gave her a hug that
had a very long sentence of meaning in it, while a tear
or two fell on the upturned beautiful brow before him,
as their lips met in a forgiving embrace. The sensitive
reader will forgive me — as forgiveness is here the
theme — if I am a little warm in my description. My
old blood fires up, at the portrayal of such a scene,
and my words smack a little of the enthusiasm of the

“And will you forgive my doubt of you?” said he,
at length; “I, who had so little cause? who was at
Seville's house for the purpose of watching you, when
we met, set on by that sneak of a Screed, who has been
for two years trying to make me jealous?”

“Then you were jealous?” said she, archly.

“A little,” replied he; “were n't you?”

“A little,” she confessed.

“Well, here I record my vow,” said he, kissing her
lips, “that I will be no more jealous of you, and may
heaven keep me loyal to it!”

“And here I register my vow,” kissing him back
again, “and reverently ask for the same strength.”

And the vows were religiously kept; and, though
Clement was attentive, and courteous, and friendly, and
loving, to others, she was not jealous; and, though she
was admired, and courted, and beloved, by others, he
was not jealous; for they both knew that, however the
whole world might worship in the outer temple of their
hearts, there was a holy of holies within where none
but themselves might enter.