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The Old Man’s Christmas
by [?]

Ben smiled.

“I’m already thinking of it,” he said. He had expected opposition from his father, and was surprised at his suggestion.

“Yes,” continued the “old man,” as Ben already designated him, “I’d like to see you settle down before you’re twenty-one. But you want to make a good choice. There’s Abby Wilson, now. She’s got the muscle of a man, and ain’t afraid of anything. And her father has a fine property–a growin’ property. Abby’ll make a man a good, vigorous helpmate, and she’ll bring him money in time. You’d better shine up to Abby, Ben.”

Ben gave a contemptuous laugh. “I’d as soon marry a dressed-up boy,” he said. “She’s more like a boy than a girl in her looks and in her ways. I have other plans in my mind, father, more to my taste. I mean to marry Edith Gilman, if she’ll take me, and I think she will.”

A dark frown contracted Anson English’s brow.

“Edith Gilman?” he repeated; “why, that puny schoolma’m, with her baby face and weak voice, ‘ll never help you to get a livin’, Ben. What are you thinkin’ of?”

“Of love, father, I guess. I love her, and that’s all there is of it. And I shall marry her, if she’ll take me, and you can like it or lump it, as you please. She’s a good girl, and if she’s treated well all round, she’ll make a good wife, and she’s the only woman that can put the check rein on me, when I get in my tempers. She’ll make a man of me yet.”

“But she can’t work,” insisted the father. “She looks as white and puny as ‘Liz’beth did the year she died.”

“She’s overworked in the school-room. I mean to take her home, and give her a rest. I don’t ask any woman to marry me and be my drudge. I expect my wife will keep help.”

The old man groaned aloud. Ben’s ideas were positively ruinous. If he married this girl, it would add to, not decrease, the family expenses. But it was useless to oppose. Ben would do as he pleased, the old man saw that plainly, and he might as well submit.

He did submit, and Ben married Edith on his twenty-first birthday, and brought her home.


Edith was a quiet little creature, with a soft voice, and a pale, sweet face, and frail figure. She came up to Anson English when she entered the house, and put her hands timidly upon his arms.

“I want you to love me,” she said; “I have had no father or mother since I can remember. I want to call you father, and I want to make you happy if I can.”

“Well, I’ll tell you how,” the old man retorted. “Discharge the hired girl, and make good bread. That’ll make me happy,”–and he laughed harshly.

Edith shrank from his rough words, so void of the sympathy and love she longed for. But she discharged the girl within a week, and tried to make good bread. It was not a success, however, and the old man was not slow to express his dissatisfaction. Edith left the table in tears.

“Another dribbler–‘Liz’beth was always cryin’ just that way over every little thing,” sighed the old man.

Edith eventually conquered the difficulties of bread making, and became a famous cook. But she did not please her husband’s father any the better by this achievement.

“You’re always a-fixin’ up some new sort of trash for the table,” he said to her one day. “Dessert is it, you call it? ‘Nuff to make a man’s patience desert him to see sugar and flour wasted so. ‘Liz’beth liked your fancy cooking, but I cured her of it.”

“Yes, and you killed her too,” cried Edith, for the first time since her marriage losing control of her temper and answering back. “Everybody says you worried her into the grave. But you won’t succeed so well with me. I will live just to defy you, if no more. And I’ll show you that I’ll not bear everything, too.”