ONE WOMAN’S PHILOSOPHY
Tale Of A Modern Wife.
As I look back, I remember that the next night was one of the most trying of the week.
As we came down to dinner we all had visions of the destruction of Louvain, and the burning of the famous library. It is hard enough to think of lives going out; still, as the Doctor was so fond of saying, “man is born to die, and woman, too,” but that the great works of men, his bequest to the coming generations, should be wantonly destroyed, seemed even more horrible, especially to those who love beauty, and the idea of the charred leaves of the library flying in the air above the historic city of catholic culture, made us all feel as if we were sitting down to a funeral service rather than a very good dinner.
Matters were not made any gayer because Angele, who was waiting on table, had rings round her eyes, which told of sleepless nights. And why? We were mere spectators. We had been interested to dispute and look on. But she knew that somewhere out there in the northeast her man was carrying a gun.
Yet all about us the country was so lovely and so tranquil, horses were walking the fields, and, even as we sat at dinner, we could hear the voices and the heavy feet of the peasant women as they went home from their work. The garden had never been more beautiful than it was that evening, with the silver light of the moon through the trees, and the smell of the freshly watered earth and flowers.
We had no doubt who was to contribute the story. The Divorcee was dressed with unusual care for the role, and carried a big lace bag on her arm, and, as she leaned back in her chair, she pulled one of the big old fashioned candles in its deep glass toward her, and said with a nervous laugh:
“I shall have to ask you to let me read my story. You know I am not accustomed to this sort of thing. It is really my very ‘first appearance,’ and I could not possibly tell it as the rest of you more experienced people can do,” and she took the manuscript out of her lace bag, and, settling herself gracefully, unrolled it. The Youngster put a stool under her pretty feet, and the Doctor set a cushion behind her back, while the Journalist, with a laugh, poured her a glass of water, and the Violinist ceremoniously leaned over, and asked, “Shall I turn for you?”
She could not help laughing, but it did not make her any the less nervous, or her voice any the less shaky as she began:
* * * * *
It was after dinner on one of those rare occasions when they dined alone together.
They were taking coffee in Mrs. Shattuck’s especial corner of the drawing-room, and she had just asked her husband to smoke.
She was leaning back comfortably in a nest of cushions, in her very latest gown, with a most becoming light falling on her from the tall, yellow-shaded lamp.
He was facing her–astride his chair, in a position man has loved since creation.
He was just thinking that his wife had never looked handsomer, finer, in fact, in all her life–quite the satisfactory, all-round, desirable sort of a woman a man’s wife ought to be.
She was wondering if he would ever be any less attractive to all women than he was now at forty-two–or any better able to resist his own power.
As she put her coffee cup back on the tiny table at her elbow, he leaned forward, and picked up a book which lay open on a chair near him, and carelessly glanced at it.