Once there were two Married People who used "Lovey" and "Pet" when they were in Company, and as soon as they were at Home they Threw Things at each other. She used to watch him through a Hole in the Curtain to see if he Flirted with any Women as he walked up the Street, and he bribed the Hired Girl to tell him Everything that happened while he was off the Reservation.
They did not Mocha and Java worth a Cent.
The Cardboard Motto in the Dining Room said, "Love One Another," but they were too Busy to Read.
He had a Clearing on the top of his Head and wore Side-Whiskers and bore a general Resemblance to the Before in an Ad for a Facial Treatment, and yet she suspected that all the Women in Town were Crazy to steal him away from her.
Likewise, inasmuch as she was the same Width all the way up and down, the same as a Poster Girl, and used to sport a Velvet Shroud with Black Beads on it, and could wield a Tooth-Pick and carry on a Conversation at the same time, he knew that sooner or later some Handsome Wretch with Money would try to Abduct her.
Sometimes he would bring a Friend Home to Dinner, and then if the Friend extended himself and told the Missus how well she was looking or Perjured himself over her Hand-Painting, Papa would get a Grouch and hide in the Corner.
Then she would Fan herself rapidly and ask, "Aren't you well, Dear?"
Dear would force one of those Dying-Martyr Smiles and reply, "I am quite well, Puss."
Then Puss would tell the Visitor that Baby was simply ruining his Health through Devotion to his Employers, but they didn't seem to Appreciate him at all.
After the Visitor went away there would be Language all over the Shop, and the poor Hired Girl would lock the Door and write to the Intelligence Office for a new Place.
Truly, it was a Happy Little Home, with the Reverse English.
She would Frisk his Wardrobe every day or two, looking for Evidence, and he would compel her to Itemize her Accounts so that he might be sure she was not giving Jewelry to the Iceman.
She would find a certain Passage in a Book, relating to Man's Cruelty and Woman's Silent Suffering, and then she would Mark the Passage and put it where he could Find it. Then when he Found it, he would Mark it "Rot!" and put it where She could find it, and then she would Weep and write Letters to Lady Authors telling them how Sad and Lonely she was.
But all the Time they kept up an Affectionate Front before their Acquaintances. They thought it better to avoid Scenes in Public; and although each knew that the other was False and had ceased to Love, they could not bring themselves to think of a Separation or a Divorce on account of the Cat—their Cat! The Cat must never know.
However, one of his Business Associates was On. He was a Bachelor and had lived at a European Hotel for Years, and he knew just how to Arbitrate a Domestic Scrap. So he sat down one day and gave the Husband a Good Talking-To. He said it was a Shame that such Nice People should have their Differences when it was so easy to be Happy. With that he handed over a Slew of Platitudes and Proverbs, such as: "A Soft Answer Turneth Away Wrath," "It takes Two to Make a Quarrel," "Think Twice before you Speak once," et cetera.
The Gist of his heart-to-heart Talk was that any Husband could stop Rough House Proceedings and shoot all kinds of Sweetness and Light into the sassiest Mooch a Wife ever got on to herself, if only he would refuse to Quarrel with her, receive her Flings without a Show of Wrath, and get up every Morning ready to Plug for a Renaissance of their Early Love.
Oh, but it was a Beauty Bright System! The European Hotel Bachelor said it couldn't Lose.
The Husband decided to give it a Trial. That very Afternoon he met his Wife, who had come out in her long Fawn-Colored Coat that fell straight in the Back. She had her Upper Rigging set, and was trying to Blanket everything on the Street. He flashed a Smiling Countenance, and said he was glad to see her. Then, instead of asking her When she left the House, and Where she had been since then, and How Soon she expected to go Home again, he told her she was looking Unusually Charming. She was Startled.
He handed her a Ten and told her to have a Good Time. Now, usually, when she wanted any Pin Money, she had to Pry it out of him.
On her way home her Mind was in a Tumult. Why had he given her the Con Speech and all that Money? What was the Ulterior Motive? What had he been Doing that he should attempt to Coddle her into a Forgiving Mood? Did he Fear that she would get next to his Past? Huh?
He just couldn't Fool her. She knew Something was Doing. Else why should he try to Fix her?
As soon as he came Home that Evening she Accused him and said she knew All. Instead of Countering with the usual Gibe, he told her that she was the Only Woman he had ever Loved and would she go to a Show that Evening? She went, thinking that perhaps the Other Woman might be there and she could detect some Signal passing between them. While at the Theater he fanned her and explained the Plot, and was all Attention. They rode Home in a Cab, because he said a Car wasn't good enough for His Queen. After they were at Home he asked her to sing the Song he had liked so much in the Old Days, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." This was Conclusive Proof to her that the Hussy's Name was Bonnie.
Next Morning before he started away he Kissed her, and it wasn't any Make-Believe such as you see in Comic Opera. It was a genuine Olga Nethersole Buss, full of Linger and Adhesion. To cap the Climax he said he would stop in and order some Violets.
As soon as the Door slammed she Staggered toward the Kitchen, holding on to the Furniture here and there, the same as a Sardou Heroine. In the Kitchen was a Box of Rough on Rats. Hastily Concealing it beneath the loose Folds of her Morning Gown, she went to her Room and looked in the Mirror.
Ah, when he saw that Cold, White Face, then he would be Sorry. Upon Second Thought, this didn't seem to be a Moral Certainty, so she Weakened and had the Girl take the Poison and Hide it. She said she would Live—Live to Forget his Perfidy.
That day she went back to Mamma, and took the Cat with her.
When he came Home in the Twilight he found no Wife, no Cat—only a Scribbled Note saying that he could no longer Deceive her; that she had seen through his Diabolical Plan to Lull her Suspicions, and that she was no longer Safe in the Same House.
When the Deserted Husband went to the Friend and told him what had Happened, the Wise Bachelor said:
"I see. You did not go at her Strong enough."
MORAL: They don't know Anything about it.
Merci pour la lecture!
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