“Robert Browning!” I repeated. I was bewildered, and Louisa stared at me in a frightened way. She said afterward that she thought for a minute that Grandma Cobb was out of her head.
But Grandma Cobb went on to explain. “Yes, my daughter seems to look upon Robert Browning as if everything he said was written on tables of stone,” said she; “and last night she had a letter from Mrs. Addison Sears, who feels just the same way. My daughter had written her about Harriet’s love affair, and this was in answer. Mrs. Sears dwelt a good deal upon Mr. Browning’s own happy marriage; and then she quoted passages; and my daughter became convinced that Robert Browning would have been in favor of the match,—and that settled it. My daughter proves things by Browning almost the same way as people do by Scripture, it seems to me sometimes. I am thankful that it has turned out so,” Grandma Cobb went on to say, “for I like the young man myself; and as for Harriet, her mind is set on him, and she’s something like me: once get her mind set on anybody, that’s the end of it. My daughter has got the same trait, but it works the contrary way: when she once gets her mind set against anybody, that’s the end of it unless Robert Browning steps in to turn her.”
Louisa and I were heartily glad to hear of Mr. Browning’s unconscious intercession and its effect upon Mrs. Jameson, but we wondered what Caroline Liscom would say.
“It will take more than passages of poetry to move her,” said Louisa when Grandma Cobb had gone.
All we could do was to wait for developments concerning Caroline. Then one day she came in and completely opened her heart to us with that almost alarming frankness which a reserved woman often displays if she does lose her self-restraint.
“I can’t have it anyhow,” said Caroline Liscom; and I must say I did pity her, though I had a weakness for little Harriet. “I feel as if it would kill me if Harry marries that girl—and I am afraid he will; but it shall never be with my consent, and he shall never bring her to my house while I am in it.”
Then Caroline went on to make revelations about Harriet which were actually dire accusations from a New England housewife like her.
“It was perfectly awful the way her room looked while she was at my house,” said Caroline; “and she doesn’t know how to do one thing about a house. She can’t make a loaf of bread to save her life, and she has no more idea how to sweep a room and dust it than a baby. I had it straight from Hannah Bell that she dusted her room and swept it afterward. Think of my boy, brought up the way he has been, everything as neat as wax, if I do say it, and his victuals always cooked nice, and ready when he wanted them, marrying a girl like that. I can’t and I won’t have it. It’s all very well now, he’s captivated by a pretty face; but wait a little, and he’ll find out there’s something else. He’ll find out there’s comfort to be considered as well