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The Breadwinner
by [?]

When luncheon is over he takes his wife aside.

“I wish you would send Louisa to the tailor’s with my coat; a seam has come undone and I haven’t the time to sew it up myself.”

She makes no reply, but instead of sending the coat by Louisa, she takes it herself and walks to the village where the tailor lives.

In the garden she meets some of her emancipated friends who ask her where she is going.

She replies, truthfully enough, that she is going to the tailor’s for her husband.

“Fancy sending her to the tailor’s! And she allows him to treat her like a servant!”

“While he is lying on the bed, taking an after-dinner nap! A nice husband!”

It is quite true, he is taking an after dinner nap, for he is suffering from anaemia.

At three o’clock the postman rings again; he is expected to answer a letter from Berlin in German, one from Paris in French, and one from London in English.

His wife, who has returned from the tailor’s and refreshed herself with a cognac, asks him whether he feels inclined to make an excursion with the children. No, he has letters to write.

When he has finished his letters, he goes out for a stroll before dinner. He is longing for somebody to talk to. But he is alone. He goes into the garden and looks for the children.

The stout nurse is sitting on a garden seat, reading Mrs. Leffler’s True Women which his wife has lent her. The children are bored, they want to run about or go for a walk.

“Why don’t you take the children for a walk, Louisa?” he asks.

“Mistress said it was too hot.”

His wife’s orders!

He calls to the children and walks with them towards the high road; suddenly he notices that their hands and faces are dirty and their boots in holes.

“Why are the children allowed to wear such boots?” he asks Louisa.

“Mistress said….”

His wife said!

He goes for a walk by himself.

It is seven o’clock and dinner-time. The ladies have not yet returned to the hotel. The two first courses have been served when they arrive with flushed faces, talking and laughing loudly.

His wife and her friend are in high spirits and smell of cognac.

“What have you been doing with yourself all day, daddy?” she asks her husband.

“I went for a walk with the children.”

“Wasn’t Louisa there?”

“Oh! yes, but she was otherwise engaged.”

“Well, I don’t think it’s too much to ask of a man to keep an eye on his own children,” says the friend.

“No, of course not,” answers the husband. “And therefore I scolded Louisa for allowing the children to run about with dirty faces and worn-out boots.”

“I never come home but I am scolded,” says the wife; “You spoil every little pleasure I have with your fault-finding.”

And a tiny tear moistens her reddened eyelids. The friend and all the rest of the ladies cast indignant glances at the husband.

An attack is imminent and the friend sharpens her tongue.

“Has anybody here present read Luther’s views on the right of a woman?”

“What right is that?” asks his wife.

“To look out for another partner if she is dissatisfied with the one she has.”

There is a pause.

“A very risky doctrine as far as a woman’s interests are concerned,” says the husband, “for it follows that in similar circumstances a man is justified in doing the same thing. The latter happens much more frequently than the former.”

“I don’t understand what you mean,” says the wife.

“That’s neither Luther’s fault nor mine,” answers the husband. “Just as it is not necessarily the husband’s fault if he doesn’t get on with his wife. Possibly he would get on excellently with another woman.”

A dead silence follows; the diners rise from their chairs.

The husband retires to his own room. His wife and her friend leave the dining-room together and sit down in the pavilion.

“What brutality!” exclaims the friend. “How can you, a sensitive, intelligent woman, consent to be the servant of that selfish brute?”