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Births. Mrs. Meek, of a Son
by [?]

MY name is Meek. I am, in fact, Mr. Meek. That son is mine and Mrs. Meek’s. When I saw the announcement in the Times, I dropped the paper. I had put it in, myself, and paid for it, but it looked so noble that it overpowered me.

As soon as I could compose my feelings, I took the paper up to Mrs. Meek’s bedside. ‘Maria Jane,’ said I (I allude to Mrs. Meek), ‘you are now a public character.’ We read the review of our child, several times, with feelings of the strongest emotion; and I sent the boy who cleans the boots and shoes, to the office for fifteen copies. No reduction was made on taking that quantity.

It is scarcely necessary for me to say, that our child had been expected. In fact, it had been expected, with comparative confidence, for some months. Mrs. Meek’s mother, who resides with us – of the name of Bigby – had made every preparation for its admission to our circle.

I hope and believe I am a quiet man. I will go farther. I KNOW I am a quiet man. My constitution is tremulous, my voice was never loud, and, in point of stature, I have been from infancy, small. I have the greatest respect for Maria Jane’s Mama. She is a most remarkable woman. I honour Maria Jane’s Mama. In my opinion she would storm a town, single-handed, with a hearth-broom, and carry it. I have never known her to yield any point whatever, to mortal man. She is calculated to terrify the stoutest heart.

Still – but I will not anticipate.

The first intimation I had, of any preparations being in progress, on the part of Maria Jane’s Mama, was one afternoon, several months ago. I came home earlier than usual from the office, and, proceeding into the dining-room, found an obstruction behind the door, which prevented it from opening freely. It was an obstruction of a soft nature. On looking in, I found it to be a female.

The female in question stood in the corner behind the door, consuming Sherry Wine. From the nutty smell of that beverage pervading the apartment, I have no doubt she was consuming a second glassful. She wore a black bonnet of large dimensions, and was copious in figure. The expression of her countenance was severe and discontented. The words to which she gave utterance on seeing me, were these, ‘Oh, git along with you, Sir, if YOU please; me and Mrs. Bigby don’t want no male parties here!’

That female was Mrs. Prodgit.

I immediately withdrew, of course. I was rather hurt, but I made no remark. Whether it was that I showed a lowness of spirits after dinner, in consequence of feeling that I seemed to intrude, I cannot say. But, Maria Jane’s Mama said to me on her retiring for the night: in a low distinct voice, and with a look of reproach that completely subdued me: ‘George Meek, Mrs. Prodgit is your wife’s nurse!’

I bear no ill-will towards Mrs. Prodgit. Is it likely that I, writing this with tears in my eyes, should be capable of deliberate animosity towards a female, so essential to the welfare of Maria Jane? I am willing to admit that Fate may have been to blame, and not Mrs. Prodgit; but, it is undeniably true, that the latter female brought desolation and devastation into my lowly dwelling.

We were happy after her first appearance; we were sometimes exceedingly so. But, whenever the parlour door was opened, and ‘Mrs. Prodgit!’ announced (and she was very often announced), misery ensued. I could not bear Mrs. Prodgit’s look. I felt that I was far from wanted, and had no business to exist in Mrs. Prodgit’s presence. Between Maria Jane’s Mama, and Mrs. Prodgit, there was a dreadful, secret, understanding – a dark mystery and conspiracy, pointing me out as a being to be shunned. I appeared to have done something that was evil. Whenever Mrs. Prodgit called, after dinner, I retired to my dressing-room – where the temperature is very low indeed, in the wintry time of the year – and sat looking at my frosty breath as it rose before me, and at my rack of boots; a serviceable article of furniture, but never, in my opinion, an exhilarating object. The length of the councils that were held with Mrs. Prodgit, under these circumstances, I will not attempt to describe. I will merely remark, that Mrs. Prodgit always consumed Sherry Wine while the deliberations were in progress; that they always ended in Maria Jane’s being in wretched spirits on the sofa; and that Maria Jane’s Mama always received me, when I was recalled, with a look of desolate triumph that too plainly said, ‘NOW, George Meek! You see my child, Maria Jane, a ruin, and I hope you are satisfied!’