And Mr. Burton, having viewed the ruined dress with the eye of experience, uttered the single word:
“What am I to do with them?” asked the unhappy woman.
Mr. Burton was an affectionate husband. He adored womankind, and sincerely bemoaned its special grievances; but he did not resist the temptation to recall his wife’s announcement of five days before, so he whispered:
Mrs. Burton’s humiliation by her own lips was postponed by a heavy footfall, which, by turning her face, she discovered was that of her brother-in-law, Tom Lawrence, who remarked:
“Tender confidences, eh? Well, I’m sorry I intruded. There’s nothing like them if you want to be happy. But Helen’s pretty well to-day, and dying to have her boys with her, and I’m even worse with a similar longing. You can’t spare them, I suppose?”
The peculiar way in which Tom Lawrence’s eyes danced as he awaited a reply would, at any other time, have roused all the defiance in Alice Burton’s nature; but now, looking at the front of her beautiful dress, she only said:
“Why—I suppose—we might spare them for an hour or two!”
“You poor, dear Spartan,” said Tom, with genuine sympathy, “you shall be at peace until their bedtime anyhow.”
And Mrs. Burton found occasion to rearrange the bandage on her husband’s face so as to whisper in his ear:
SAILING UP STREAM.
[The following is quoted, by permission, from Mr. Habberton’s popular book, “THE BARTON EXPERIMENT,” published by G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS, New York.]
The superintendency of the Mississippi Valley Woolen Mills was a position which exactly suited Fred Macdonald, and it gave him occasion for the expenditure of whatever superfluous energy he found himself possessed of, yet it did not engross his entire attention. The faculty which the busiest of young men have for finding time in which to present themselves, well clothed and unbusiness-like, to at least one young woman, is as remarkable and admirable as it is inexplicable. The evenings which did not find Fred in Parson Wedgewell’s parlor were few indeed, and if, when he was with Esther, he did not talk quite as sentimentally as he had done in the earlier days of his engagement, and if he talked business very frequently, the change did not seem distasteful to the lady herself. For the business of which he talked was, in the main, a sort which loving women have for ages recognized as the inevitable, and to which they have subjected themselves with a unanimity which deserves the gratitude of all humanity. Fred talked of a cottage which he might enter without first knocking at the door, and of a partnership which should be unlimited; if he learned, in the course of successive conversations, that even in partnerships