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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 152 pages of information about The Tinder-Box.

CHAPTER IV

Sweeter when tamed?

I wonder if men ever melt suddenly into little boys, and try to squirm and run back to hide their heads in their mothers’ skirts.  It is an open secret that starchy, modern women often long to wilt back into droopy musk roses, that climb over gates and things, but they don’t let each other.  When I feel myself getting soluble, I write it out to Jane and I get a bracing cold wave of a letter in reply.  The one this morning was on the subject of love, or, at least, that is what Jane would have said it was on.  She wrote: 

Yes, it is gratifying to know that Mary Elizabeth is so happily engaged to the young teacher who has been in her work with her.  She writes that she was encouraged by our resolution, at last to be her best self while in his presence as she had not had the courage to do last year.  You see, Evelina?  And also, you are right in your conclusion that there is not enough abstract love in this world of brotherhood and sisterhood; that the doctrine of divine love calls us to give more and more of it.  We cannot give too much!  But also, considerations for the advancement of the world call for experiments by the more illumined women along more definite and concrete lines.  How old is this Mr. Hayes, on whom you have chosen to note the reactions of sisterly affection?  Are you sure that he is not a fit subject for your consideration in the matter of a choice for a mate?

Remember to be as frank in your expressions of regard for him as he is in his of regard for you.  That is the crux of the whole matter.  Be frank, be courageous!  Let a man look freely into your heart, and thus encouraged he will open his to you.  Then you will both have an opportunity to judge each other with reference to a life-long union.  It is the only way; and remember what rests on you in this matter.  The destinies of many women are involved.

* * * * *

I don’t say this in a spirit of levity, but I do wish Polk Hayes and Jane Mathers were out on the front steps in the moonlight, after a good supper that has made him comfortable, Jane to be attired in something soft that would float against his arm, whether she wanted it to or not!  I believe it would be good for Jane, and make things easier for me.  Be frank with Polk as to how much he asphyxiates me?  I know better than to blow out the gas like that!  No, Jane!

But what is a woman going to do when she is young and hearty and husky, with the blood running through her veins at a two-forty rate, when her orchard is in bloom, the mocking-birds are singing the night through, and she is not really in love with anybody?  The loneliness does fill her heart full of the solution of love, and she has got to pour off some of it into somebody’s life.  There is plenty of me to be both abstract and concrete, at the same time, and I thought of Uncle Peter.

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