+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

              A WIFE'S STORY.


We stood on the deck together,—I and my
husbandI, shrouded in warm wrappings,
with folded arms, leaning against him. How
strong he was! How firm he stood! How
delightful it was to me to lean there so!

It was late, and a wild night; a strong
wind blowing, and our ship bounding on
over high-swelling waves. It should have
been moonlightthe moon was at the full
but only now and then a wind-rent in the
clouds let her pale light through.

We did not talk, the wild wind would
have blown our words away, and my heart
and soul were very full. Leaning there I
thought I had found life-long peace, a refuge
from all trouble and distress. What a beautiful
future I pictured!

We were both young: I some five years the
younger: a mere girl in age and in appearance,
yet all too old at heart. Measuring
life by the bitterness of gained experience,
by its pain, and not by the number of its
days and years, I was no longer young. My
life had long been a struggle; a series of
conflicts in which I always came off heart-wounded,
sometimes hand-disabled, never
subdued. I had been ever at war with circumstance.
There was a strange and secret
strength somewhere within me, that would
not be crushed out: that would not let me
yield. But though too strong to submit myself
a willing slave to any imposed yoke, my nature
was not strong enough, I was not wise
enough, to gather all powers of soul, and heart,
and mind together, into conscious possession,
and then yield meekly, quietly, and entirely
to the recognition of the controlling power of
a higher will. So I had fought on as blindly
as vehemently, doing battle boldly for real
and unreal rights, resenting deeply both real
and supposed injuries.

No mere woman can live long so,—at war
with all around,—I had grown heart-sick, and
utterly weary; soon I should have lain down,
and yielded. But a great change came to me.
While I had been struggling and striving in a
night of great darkness, in which the things
after which my ambition prompted me to
reach always eluded my eager hands, God laid
in my path, at my very feet, a good gift.

I was a governess when my husband began
to woo me. I was his equal by birth, but
what did that serve me? He was far above
me in station now, was handsome, and much
courted and admired. The daughters of the
family with whom I lived would have been
proud to win him, but he turned from them
with his simple, frank indifference, and bent
the power of his nature to loving me! I was
rather small, generally very quiet in manner,
not beautiful, and not plain. I believe I had
a certain dignity of my own, which had been
useful to me in my unprotected state. I
felt that when I chose I could compel respect,
and gloried in the power, though it made
me more feared than loved.

I do not know what it could have been in
me that served to draw my husband's notice
upon me, and then to win me his love. I
think, for his was a most faithful heart, that
he must have regarded me, first, for the sake
of some real or imagined likeness to my
brother, my dead brother, who had been his
friend. And yet it was hardly me he loved;
of my real nature, its force, its aspirations, its
vehement unrest, he knew nothing. He
loved me as he saw me, looking through
some medium of his own interposing.

Of course he was my first lover. Who else
would have turned from our three household
Graces,—the grown-up daughters of
the familybrilliant, accomplished, dowered,
and, apparently, sweet-tempered, as they
were, to me? poor, plain, and proud, as I
was considered. So, of course, he was my
first lover! If I loved him aright I could
not tell,—if I ever loved him as a wife should
love, I do not even now know. I felt it infinitely
sweet and strange to be belovedto be
the object of such manly, protecting tenderness
as his. I asked no questions,—when I
could once believe in his love, I gave myself
up, abandoned my whole being utterly, to the
great, new joy. There was nothing to
distract my mind, nothing to divide my affection
with him, and I had very large capacity of
loving. His loving me was a sufficient proof
of his goodness, of his disinterestedness,
and great-heartedness. I was satisfied, and
Harold could not long doubt that I loved
him, and I am sure he never suspected me
of accepting him for any other reason.
He could see my eyes well over with delight,