Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Envoy Extraordinary
by [?]

There had been a great deal of trouble in the Norris family, and for weeks old Bill Norris had gone about scowling as blackly as a thunder-cloud, speaking to no one but his wife and daughter, and oftentimes muttering inaudible things that, however, had the tone of invective; and accompanied, as these mutterings were, with a menacing shake of his burley head, old Bill finally grew to be an acquaintance few desired.

Mrs. Norris showed equal, though not similar, signs of mental disturbance; for, womanlike, she clothed her worry in placidity and silence. Her kindly face became drawn and lined; she laughed less frequently. She never went “neighboring” or “buggy-riding” with old Bill now. But the trim farmhouse was just as spotless, just as beautifully kept, the cooking just as wholesome and homelike, the linen as white, the garden as green, the chickens as fat, the geese as noisy, as in the days when her eyes were less grave and her lips unknown to sighs. And what was it all about but the simple matter of a marriage–Sam’s marriage? Sam, the big, genial, curly-headed only son of the house of Norris, who saw fit to take unto himself as a life partner tiny, delicate, college-bred Della Kennedy, who taught school over on the Sixth Concession, and knew more about making muslin shirtwaists than cooking for the threshers, could quote from all the mental and moral philosophers, could wrestle with French and Latin verbs, and had memorized half the things Tennyson and Emerson had ever written, but could not milk a cow or churn up a week’s supply of butter if the executioner stood ready with his axe to chop off her pretty yellow mop of a head in case she failed. How old Billy stormed when Sam started “keeping company” with her!

“Nice young goslin’ fer you to be a-goin’ with!” he scowled when Sam would betake himself towards the red gate every evening after chores were done. “Nice gal fer you to bring home to help yer mother; all she’ll do is to play May Queen and have the hull lot of us a-trottin’ to wait on her. You’ll marry a farmer’s gal, I say, one that’s brung up like yerself and yer mother and me, or I tell yer yer shan’t have one consarned acre of this place. I’ll leave the hull farm to yer sister Jane’s man. She married somethin’ like–decent, stiddy, hard-working man is Sid Simpson, and he’ll git what land I have to leave.”

“I quite know that, dad,” Sam blazed forth, irritably; “so does he. That’s what he married Janie for–the whole township knows that. He’s never given her a kind word, or a holiday, or a new dress, since they were married–eight years. She slaves and toils, and he rich as any man need be; owns three farms already, money in the bank, cattle, horses–everything. But look at Janie; she looks as old as mother. I pity his son, if he ever has one. Thank heaven, Janie has no children!”

“Come, come, father–Sam!” a patient voice would interrupt, and Mrs. Norris would appear at the door, vainly endeavoring to make peace. “I’ll own up to both of you I’d sooner have a farmer’s daughter for mine-in-law than Della Kennedy. But, father, he ain’t married yet, and–“

“Ain’t married, eh?” blurted in old Bill. “But he’s a-goin’ to marry her. But I’ll tell you both right here, she’ll never set foot in my house, ner I in her’n. Sam ken keep her, but what on, I don’t know. He gits right out of this here farm the day he marries her, and he don’t come back, not while I’m a-livin’.”

It was all this that made old Billy Norris morose, and Mrs. Norris silent and patient and laughless, for Sam married the despised “gosling” right at harvest time, when hands were so scarce that farmers wrangled and fought, day in and day out, to get one single man to go into the field.