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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Family, People and Relationships

Home Comforts

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -


“Where are you going, George?” asked Mrs. Wilson, as her husband arose from the tea-table, and took his hat.

“Oh, I’m going out,” was the careless response.

“But where?”

“What odds does it make, Emma? I shall be back at my usual time.”

The young wife hesitated, and a quick flush overspread her face. She seemed to have made up her mind to speak plainly upon a subject which had lain uneasily upon her heart for some time, and she could not let the opportunity pass. It required an effort but she preserved.

“Let me tell you what odds it makes to me,” she said in a kind but tremulous tone. “If I cannot have your company here at home, I should at least feel much better if I knew where you were.”

“But you know that I am safe, Emma; and what more can you ask?”

“I do not know that you are safe George. I know nothing about you when you are away.”

“pooh! Would you have it that I am not capable of taking care of myself?”

“You put a wrong construction upon my words George. Love is always anxious when its dearest object is away. If I did not love you as I do, I might not be thus uneasy. When you are at your place of business I never feel thus because I know I can seek and find you at any moment; but when you are absent these long evenings, I get to wondering where you are. Then I begin to feel lonesome; and so one thought follows another, until I feel troubles and uneasy. Oh! If you would stay with me a portion of your evenings!”

“Aha! I thought that was what you were aiming at.” Said George, with a playful shake of the head. “You would have me here all the evening.”

“Well, can you wonder at it?” returned Emma. “I used to be very happy when you came to spend an evening with me before we were married; and I know I should be very happy in your society now.”

“Ah,” said George with a smile, “those were business meetings. We were arranging then for the future.”

“And why not continue so to do, my husband? I am sure we could be as happy now as ever. If you will remember – one of our plans was to make a home.

“And haven’t we got one, Emma?”

“We have a place in which to live.” Answered the wife, somewhat evasively. “Now, just remember, my husband, that, previous to our marriage, I had pleasant society all the time. Of course I remained at home much of my time; but I had a father and mother there, and I had brothers and sisters there; and our evenings were happily spent. Finally, I gave all up for you. I left the old home, and sought a home with my husband. And now, have I not a right to expect some of your companionship? How would you like it to have me away every evening, while you were obliged to remain here alone?”

“Why – I should like it well enough.”

“Ah! – but you would not be willing to try it.”

“Yes, I would.” Said George as a venture.

“Will you remain here every evening next week, and let me spend them among my female friends?” asked Emma.

“Certainly I will; and I assure you I shall not be so lonesome as you imagine.”

With this the husband went out, and was soon among his friends. He was a steady, industrious man, and loved his wife truly; but, like thousands of others, he had constructed a habit of spending his evenings abroad, and thought of no harm. His only practical idea of home seemed to be, that it was a place which his wife took care of, and where he could eat, drink, and sleep, as long as he could pay for it. His wife had frequently asked him to stay at home with her; but she had never ventured upon any argument before, and he had no conception of how much she missed him. She always seemed happy when he came home; and he supposed she could always be so.

Monday evening came, and George Wilson remained true to his promise. His wife put on her bonnet and shawl; and he said he would remain and “keep house.”

“What will you do while I am gone?” Emma asked.

“Oh! I shall read, and sing, and enjoy myself generally.”

“Very well. I shall be back in good time.”

The wife went out, and the husband was left alone. He had n interesting book, and he began to read it. He read till eight o’clock, and then he began to yawn, and refer frequently to the dial. The book did not interest him as usual. Ever and anon he would come to a passage which he knew would please his wife, and instinctively he turned as though he would read it aloud; but there was no wife to hear it. At half-past eight he arose from his chair to pace the floor. Then he went and got his flute, and performed several of his favourite airs. Finally the clock struck nine, and his wife returned.

“Well George, I am back in good time. How have you enjoyed yourself?”

“Capitally,” returned the husband. “I had no idea it was so late. I hope you have had a pleasant evening.”

“Oh, splendid! I had no idea how much enjoyment there was away from home. Home is a dull place, after all; isn’t it?”

“Why, no; I can’t say that it is,” returned George. “I rather like it.”

“I’m glad of that,” retorted Emma; “for we shall both enjoy ourselves now. You shall have a nice comfortable week of it.”

George winced at this, but he kept his countenance and determined to stand it out.

On the next evening Emma prepared to go away again.

“I shall be back in good time,” she said.

“Where are you going?” her husband asked.

“Oh, I can’t tell exactly. I may go to several places.”

So George Wilson was left alone again, and he tried to amuse himself as before, but he found it hard work. Ever and anon he would cast his eyes upon that empty chair, and the thought would come, “How pleasant it would be if she were here!”

The clock finally struck nine, and he began to listen for the step of his wife. Half an hour more slipped by, and he became very nervous and uneasy.

“I declare,” he muttered to himself, after he had listened for her some time in vain, “this is too bad. She ought not to stay out so late!”

But he happened to remember that he often remained away much later than that, so he concluded that he must make the best of it.

At fifteen minutes to ten Emma came.

“A little late, am I not?” she said, looking up to the clock. “But I fell in with some old friends. How have you enjoyed yourself?”

“First-rate,” returned George, bravely. “I think home is a great place.”

“Especially when one can have it all to himself,” added the wife, with a sidelong glance at her husband. But he made no reply.

On the next evening Emma prepared to go out as before; but this time she kissed her husband ere she went, and seemed to hesitate somewhat.

“Where do you think of going?” George asked, in an undertone.

“I may drop in to see Uncle John,” replied Emma. “However, you won’t be uneasy. You’ll know I’m safe.”

“Oh, certainly.”

When the husband was left to his own reflections, he began to ponder upon the subject thus presented for consideration. He could not read – he could not play – he could not enjoy himself in any way while that chair was empty. In short, he found that home had no real comfort without his wife. The one thing needed to make his home cheerful was not present.

“I declare, he said to himself, I did not think I could be so lonesome. And can it be that she feels as I do, when she is here all alone? It must be so,” he pursued, thoughtfully. “It is just s she says. Before we were married she was very happy in her childhood’s home. Her parents loved her, and her brothers and sisters loved her, and they did all they could to make her comfortable.”

After this he walked up and down the room several times, and then stopped again and communed with himself. “I can’t stand this. I should die in a week. If Emma were only here I think I could amuse myself very well. How lonesome and dreary it is. And only eight o’clock. I declare I’ve a mind to walk down to Uncle John’s, and see if she is there. It would b a relief to see her face. I won’t go in. She shan’t know yet that I hold out so faintly.”

George Wilson took another turn across the room, glanced once more at the clock, and then took his hat and went out. He locked the door after him, and then bent his steps towards Uncle John’s. It was a beautiful moonlight evening, and the air was keen and bracing. He was walking along, when he heard a light step approaching him. He looked up, and – he could not be mistaken – saw his wife. His first impulse was to avoid her, but she had recognised him.

“George,” she said, in surprise, “Is this you?”

“It is.” Was the response.

“And you do not pass your evenings at home?” she asked.

“This is the first time I have been out, Emma, upon my word; and even now I have not been absent from the house ten minutes. I merely came out to take fresh air. But where are you going?”

“I am going home George. Will you go with me?”

“Certainly,” returned the husband. She took his arm, and they walked home in silence. When Emma had taken off her things, she sat down and gazed up at the clock.

“You came home early to-night.” Remarked George. The young wife looked up into her husband’s face; and with an expression half-smiling and half-tearful she answered, “I will confess the truth George: I have given up the experiment. I managed to stand it last evening, but I could not stand it through to-night. When I thought of you here all alone, I wanted to be with you. It didn’t seem right. I haven’t enjoyed myself at all. I have no home but this”

“Say you so.” Cried George, moving his seat to his wife’s side, and taking one of her hands. “Then let me make my confession. I have stood it not a whit better. When I left the house this evening, I could bear it no longer. I found that this was no home for me while my sweet wife was absent. I thought I would walk down to Uncle John’s, and see your face, if possible. I had gazed upon your empty chair till my heart ached.”

He kissed her as he spoke, and then added, while she reclined her head upon his arm, “I have learned a very good lesson. Your presence here is like the bursting forth of the sun after a storm; and if you love me as I love you – which, of course, I cannot doubt – my presence may afford some sunlight for you. At al events, our next experiment shall be to that effect. I will try and see how much Home Comfort we can find while we are both here to enjoy it.”

Emma was too happy to express her joy in words; but she expressed it nevertheless, and in a manner, too, not to be mistaken.

The next evening was spent at home by both husband and wife, and it was one of much enjoyment. In a short time, George began to realise how much comfort was to be found in a quiet and peaceful home; and the longer he enjoyed this comfort the more plainly did he see and understand the simple truth that it takes two to make a happy home; and that if the wife is one party; the husband must be the other.