OF A FINE MAN AND SOME FOOLISH WOMEN.
“For life is like
unto a winter’s day,
Some break their fast and so depart away;
Others stay dinner, then depart full fed;
The longest age but sups, and goes to bed.”
Mr. John Mortimer, as has before been said, was the father of seven children. It may now be added that he had been a widower one year and a half.
Since the death of his wife he had been his own master, and, so far as he cared to be, the master of his household.
This had not been the case previously: his wife had ruled over him and his children, and had been happy on the whole, though any woman whose house, containing four sitting-rooms only, finds that they are all thoroughfares, and feels that one of the deepest joys of life is that of giving dinner-parties, and better ones than her neighbours, must be held to have a grievance—a grievance against architects, which no one but an architect can cure.
And yet old Augustus, in generously presenting this house, roof and all, to his son, had said, “And, my dears, both of you, beware of bricks and mortar. I have no doubt, John, when you are settled, that you and Janie will find defects in your house. My experience is that all houses have defects; but my opinion is, that it is better to pull a house down, and build a new one, than to try to remedy them.”
Mr. Augustus Mortimer had tried building, rebuilding, and altering houses more than once; and his daughter-in-law knew that he would be seriously vexed if she disregarded his advice.
Of course if it had been John himself that had objected, the thing would have been done in spite of that; but his father must be considered, she knew, for in fact everything depended on him.
John had been married the day he came of age. His father had wished it greatly: he thought it a fine thing for a man to marry early, if he could afford it. The bride wished it also, but the person who wished it most of all was her mother, who managed to make John think he wished it too, and so, with a certain moderation of feeling, he did; and if things had not been made so exceedingly easy for him, he might have attained almost to fervour on the occasion.
As it was, being young for his years, as well as in fact, he had hardly forgotten to pride himself on having a house of his own, and reached the dignified age of twenty-two, when Mrs. John Mortimer, presenting him with a son, made a man of him in a day, and threw his boyish thoughts into the background. To his own astonishment, he found himself greatly pleased with his heir. His father was pleased also, and wrote to the young mother something uncommonly like a letter of thanks, at the same time presenting her with a carriage and horses.
The next year, perhaps in order to deserve an equally valuable gift (which she obtained), she presented her husband with twin daughters; and was rather pleased than otherwise to find that he was glad, and that he admired and loved his children.