She slammed and locked the door.
“Run for the sheriff!” she cried, in terror, to the boy who had brought her market basket; and she followed him as he fled.
“What is it, Mrs. Walters?” asked the sheriff, sternly, meeting her and bringing the handcuffs.
“There’s somebody in my bed!” she cried, wringing her hands. “I believe it’s the devil.”
“It’s my ’coon,” said the carpenter, laughing; for by this time we were all gathered together.
“What a dear ’coon!” said the sewing-girl.
“Oh, Mrs. Walters! You are like Little Red Riding-hood!” said Sylvia.
“I can’t arrest a ’coon, madam!” exclaimed the sheriff, red in the neck at being made ridiculous.
“Then arrest the carpenter!” cried poor, unhappy, excited Mrs. Walters, bursting into tears and hiding her face on Georgiana’s shoulder.
And among us all Georgiana was the only comforter. She laid aside her own work for that day, spent the rest of it as Samaritan to her desperately wounded neighbor, and at nightfall, over the bed, now peaceful and snowy once more, she spread a marvellous priceless quilt that she had long been making to exhibit at the approaching World’s Fair in New York.
“Georgiana,” I said, as I walked home with her at bedtime, “it seems to me that things happen in order to show you off.”
“Only think!” Georgiana replied; “she will never get into bed again without a shiver and a glance at the chimney. I begrudge her the quilt for one reason: it has a piece of one of your old satin waistcoats in it.”
“Did she tell you that she had had those bedclothes ever since her marriage?”
“Yes; but I have always felt that she couldn’t have been married very long.”
“How long should you think?”
“Oh, well—about a minute.”
“And yet she certainly has the clearest possible idea of Mr. Walters. I imagine that very few women ever come to know their husbands as perfectly as Mrs. Walters knew hers.”
“Or perhaps wish to.”
The end of August—the night before my marriage.
Several earthquakes have lately been felt in this
part of the globe.
Coming events cast their shocks before.
The news of it certainly came like the shock of an earthquake to many people of the town, who know perfectly well that no woman will allow the fruit and flowers to be carried off a place as a man will. The sagacious old soul who visits me yearly for young pie-plant actually hurried out and begged for a basketful of the roots at once, thus taking time—and the rhubarb—by the forelock. And the old epicurean harpy whose passion is asparagus, having accosted me gruffly on the street with an inquiry as to the truth of my engagement and been quietly assured, how true it was, informed me to my face that any man situated as happily as I am was an infernal fool to entangle himself with a wife, and bade me a curt and everlasting good-morning on the spot. Yet every day the theme of this old troubadour’s talk around the hotels is female entanglements—mendacious, unwifely, and for him unavailing.