“I know it,” said Mr. Henry Jenkinson.
Now, when a man asserts that he knows a thing in the particular tone adopted
by Mr. Jenkinson, you may pretty safely make up you mind that he is as
conceited an individual as the sun shines on. And Mary Leigh was the more
provoked because, although she wasn’t exactly an old maid, yet she
had reached the time of life when she thought she knew quite as much about
a young lady as Mr. Jenkinson, her cousin.
“I know that Anna Howe would make a good wife!”
pursued Mr Jenkinson, coolly leaning back in his chair and unfolding the
newspaper with the air of a man who has exhausted argument, and wishes
to have done with it, once for all.
“But how do you know, Henry?” pursued Mary
Leigh, who was a very determined little body.
“I have very good proof,” said Jenkinson,
nodding his head sagaciously.
“I don’t believe a word of it,” said
Mary, taking refuge in total incredulity.
“A good, economical wife,” added Jenkinson.
“Why, you haven’t seen her half a dozen times,”
said Mary, biting off the end of her thread with teeth that were white
and even as seed pearls. “What can you possibly know as to her qualifications
“Mary,” said Jenkinson, “I am a man
that believes in trifles. Straws show which way the wind blows.”
“Do spare me any more of those horrid maxims of
yours.” Said Mary, pursing up her rosy lips impatiently. “I’ll
tell you my opinion, sir, without any unnecessary prosing. Ruth Howe is
worth twenty such idle little flirts as Anna; and, Henry, I do believe
Ruth likes you!”
“Very probably,” said Henry, his mouth relaxing
into a smile; “but I’m not to blame for that – I like
“I am sorry I ministered to that inordinate vanity
of his,” said Mary to herself. “But it is too late now; that
wretch, Henry, believes every woman is in love with him!”
“I have reason to know that Anna is an economical,
neat, industrious person,” said Henry, all unconscious of his cousin’s
“Produce your reasons!” said Mary, tartly;
for she, too, was becoming wearied of the proverbially ungrateful task
of “convincing a man against his will.”
Henry put his hand deliberately into his pocket, and
brought up from its depths a small brown glove, covered with innumerable
“Anna’s glove,” said he; “she
dropped it last night when she ran in here to see you. Look! There is
her name written in the inside. Just look at that mending, and tell me
what you think of her economy!”
Mary turned the glove over and over. Henry Jenkinson
was right – the stitches were like tiny dots of pearl, the repairs
perfect in their dainty exactness. She could not....
said she, pettishly, “It’s nothing but a glove.”
“No,” said Henry sententiously, “but
I shall marry Anna Howe on the strength of that same glove. She’s
just the wife I have been looking for this ten years.”
Mary made no answer – but she could have cried
for vexation. Not that Henry’s love affairs were anything to her
in particular, but women always do like to put their little fingers into
the pie of courtship and matrimony, reason or no reason. Well –
of course Henry Jenkinson married Anna Howe, and Mary Leigh helped make
the iceing for the wedding cake, and directed the bridal cards, and tormented
Henry, by refusing to believe Anna to be an un-winged angel, although
he knew it to be so
There was no answer. The fair Anna, a three-months bride, was leisurely
sitting at the window, deeply absorbed in a novel, while the breakfast
was yet standing upon the table, although the clock had chimed eleven,
and dust lay thick upon the pier-table and mirrot frame.
“Mrs. Jenkinson, I say! Put down that yellow covered
trash and listen to me!”
"Well, what is it, Blue-beard?” said Anna,
pertly, as she laid aside the book, having just come to the “finis”
thereof, or she would not probably have yielded such ready obedience.
“Is this what you call housekeeping, madam? Why
is not that table cleaned – why is not the room swept?”
“I suppose because the servants haven’t come
to do it,” said Anna, pushing back the yellow curls from her forehead
with a yawn.
“And why do you not give the necessary orders,
and see that they are executed, madam?”
“O, I can’t be troubled,” said Anna,
listlessly. “I think it’s going to clear up,” she added,
glancing from the window; “I believe I’ll dress and go out.”
“Hear me, Mrs. Jenkinson,” said the infuriated
husband. “Since our marriage, I have lived in dust, disorder and
discomfort – I have had nothing fit to eat – my garments are
ragged, and yours, Mrs. Jenkinson, are no better. There has been a serious
mistake here somewhere, Mrs. Jenkinson! When I married you I did not suppose
I was marrying a wretched slattern.”
“I didn’t suppose I was marrying a snarling
bear!” retorted his amiable helpmate, rising to sweep past him out
of the room.
“Hold, madam, you do not leave me thus;”
ejaculated Henry. “Do you see this ragged shirt bosom?”
“Well, what of it?”
“Do you intend to mend it for me?”
“And pray, why not?”
“I never mend things,” said Anna, languidly;
“it’s too much trouble! When they won’t hang together
any longer, buy new – that’s my motto!”
“Pretty economy that would be!” growled Mr.
Jenkinson, nearly turned to stone with horror at his wife’s heresies.
“Oh, brother economy – I am sick of the sound
of it!” said Anna, fairly vexed into a passion.
Mr. Jenkinson put his hand into his coat pocket without a word, and slowly
fished up the little brown glove which had captivated his bachelor heart.
“Madam,” said he, grimly, “were you
sick of economy when you mended that glove?”
Mrs. Jenkinson looked carelessly at the glove, and todded
it on one side.
“Pshaw!” said she, scornfully. “I never mended that
“Who did, may I ask?”
“Why, Ruth, my sister – she worked an hour
on it because she didn’t like to see me wearing ragged gloves! I
told her it was all nonsense at the time – I wouldn’t have
taken the trouble!”
Mr. Jenkinson clasped his hands despairingly over his
forehead; his last hope was drifting away from him! He, the precisest
and most fastidious of men was married – yes, tied for life, to
a careless, slatternly, extravagant woman, whose very beauty was of a
kind to inspire weariness – link and white, without an atom of expression!
Anna walked calmly upstairs to prepare herself for a
saunter on Broadway, and Henry went out of the house straight to Mary
“Mary,” said he, surprising that damsel in
a white apron, with sleeves rolled up above her elbow, making apple-pies,
“I have been a fool!”
“Never doubted that fact!” said Mary, shaking
the spice-box over her sliced apples; “but in what particular instance?”
“In marrying that girl!” said Henry. “Mary,
she makes my life a burden to me.” And he related his domestic trials
to his cousin’s sympathising ear, ending with the true history of
the mended glove.
“I never had any faith in that glove,” said
Mary, half smiling; “but there’s no help for you, Henry; you
must just make the best of it!”
“I wish I had married Ruth,” said Henry,
“as you advised.”
“Well, to tell you the truth,” said Mary,
“I don’t think she would have had you, for it seems she has
been engaged these three years to the young minister, and is to marry
him this fall.”
Henry winced a little – even this salve to his
vanity was gone.
“Well, I hope they’ll be happy,” said he; “I know
Mary thought, but she didn’t say so, that it served