The young husband had the enumeration of qualities that went to the making of a man of that period, and if the qualities were in the proportion of ten physical to one intellectual, it does not follow that the grandmother’s grandfather was not a man of parts. For, to obtain the hand of his bride, an only child and an heiress, he had to give test of his mettle by ignoring his fortune, studying law, and getting his license before marriage, and binding himself to live the first year afterward on the proceeds of his practice; a device of the time thought to be a wholesome corrective of the corrupting influence of over-wealth in young domesticities.
Although he had already chosen the sea for his profession, and was a midshipman at the time, with more of a reputation for living than for learning, such was he, and such, it may be said, was the incentive genius of his choice, that almost before his resignation as midshipman was accepted, his license as a lawyer was signed. As for practice, it was currently remarked at his wedding, at the sight of him flying down the room in the reel with his bride for partner, that his tongue was as nimble as his heels, and that if he only turned his attention to criminal practice, there was no man in the country who would make a better prosecuting attorney for the State. And with him for prosecuting attorney, it was warranted that sirrahs the highwaymen would not continue to hold Georgia judge-and-jury justice in quite such contemptible estimation, and that the gallows would not be left so long bereft of their legitimate swingings. As for fees, it was predicted that the young fellow as he stood, or rather “chasse’d,” could snap his fingers at both his and his bride’s trustees.
He did turn his attention to criminal law, was made prosecuting attorney for the State in his county, and, before his six months had passed, was convincing the hitherto high and mighty, lordly, independent knights of the road that other counties in Georgia furnished more secure pasturage for them.
It was a beautiful spring morning. The young wife bade him a hearty good-by, and stood in the doorway watching him, gay and debonair, riding off, on his stout black charger Beetle, in the direction of the town in which court was to be held that week.
She herself feeling as full of ambition and work as if she also were prosecuting attorney, with a perennial spring of eloquence bubbling in her brain, turned to her domestic duties, and, without going into the detail of them, it suffices to say that, according to the grandmother’s estimation, one morning’s list of duties for a healthy young bride of that period would shame the week’s work of a syndicate of them to-day. Finding herself nearing the limit of diminution of several household necessities, and the spring suggesting the beginning of new ones, she made up her mind to profit by her husband’s absence and the fair weather to make a trading visit to the neighboring town next day.