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Our House
by [?]

Our gallant Bob Stephens, into whose lifeboat our Marianne has been received, has lately taken the mania of housebuilding into his head. Bob is somewhat fastidious, difficult to please, fond of domesticities and individualities; and such a man never can fit himself into a house built by another, and accordingly housebuilding has always been his favorite mental recreation. During all his courtship, as much time was taken up in planning a future house as if he had money to build one; and all Marianne’s patterns, and the backs of half their letters, were scrawled with ground-plans and elevations. But latterly this chronic disposition has been quickened into an acute form by the falling-in of some few thousands to their domestic treasury,–left as the sole residuum of a painstaking old aunt, who took it into her head to make a will in Bob’s favor, leaving, among other good things, a nice little bit of land in a rural district half an hour’s railroad ride from Boston.

So now ground-plans thicken, and my wife is being consulted morning, noon, and night; and I never come into the room without finding their heads close together over a paper, and hearing Bob expatiate on his favorite idea of a library. He appears to have got so far as this, that the ceiling is to be of carved oak, with ribs running to a boss overhead, and finished mediaevally with ultramarine blue and gilding,–and then away he goes sketching Gothic patterns of bookshelves which require only experienced carvers, and the wherewithal to pay them, to be the divinest things in the world.

Marianne is exercised about china-closets and pantries, and about a bedroom on the ground-floor,–for, like all other women of our days, she expects not to have strength enough to run upstairs oftener than once or twice a week; and my wife, who is a native genius in this line, and has planned in her time dozens of houses for acquaintances, wherein they are at this moment living happily, goes over every day with her pencil and ruler the work of rearranging the plans, according as the ideas of the young couple veer and vary.

One day Bob is importuned to give two feet off from his library for a closet in the bedroom, but resists like a Trojan. The next morning, being mollified by private domestic supplications, Bob yields, and my wife rubs out the lines of yesterday, two feet come off the library, and a closet is constructed. But now the parlor proves too narrow,–the parlor wall must be moved two feet into the hall. Bob declares this will spoil the symmetry of the latter; and, if there is anything he wants, it is a wide, generous, ample hall to step into when you open the front door.

“Well, then,” says Marianne, “let’s put two feet more into the width of the house.”

“Can’t on account of the expense, you see,” says Bob. “You see every additional foot of outside wall necessitates so many more bricks, so much more flooring, so much more roofing, etc.”

And my wife, with thoughtful brow, looks over the plans, and considers how two feet more are to be got into the parlor without moving any of the walls.

“I say,” says Bob, bending over her shoulder, “here, take your two feet in the parlor, and put two more feet on to the other side of the hall stairs;” and he dashes heavily with his pencil.

“Oh, Bob!” exclaims Marianne, “there are the kitchen pantries! you ruin them,–and no place for the cellar stairs!”

“Hang the pantries and cellar stairs!” says Bob. “Mother must find a place for them somewhere else. I say the house must be roomy and cheerful, and pantries and those things may take care of themselves; they can be put somewhere well enough. No fear but you will find a place for them somewhere. What do you women always want such a great enormous kitchen for?”