Monday, July 20, 2009

The events of the day and the story I promised...

It was not overly hot today, so it made for some lovely hours in the garden for Mother and I!

My dad and brother, Andrew worked on stacking hay most of the afternoon, and somewhere in all of the hustle and bustle, we children mowed the lawn again. It is so wonderful to have green grass in July--a time when the lawn is usually drying up and turning a sickly brown color.

I am so grateful for Andrew, as he took my camera apart and fixed it for me today!!! Hooray! My mom took this picture of him showing me what the inside of my pink camera looks like:

...and here you can see that it's once again able to take pictures!
Those were the highlights of our day.

Now I'd like to share one of my very favorite stories--one that provides a good role model for women everywhere. It's simply called:

----author unknown

My friend Leslie had married a beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionable life. She had, it is true, no fortune; but that of my friend was ample, and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegant pursuit and administering to her delicate tastes and fancies..... "Her life," said he, "shall be like a fairy tale."

The very difference in their characters produced a harmonious combination---he was of a romantic and somewhat serious cast; she was all life and gladness. I have often noticed the mute rapture with which he would gaze upon her in company, of which her sprightly powers made her his delight; and how, in the midst of applause, her eye would still turn to him as if there alone she sought favor and acceptance.

When leaning on his arm, her slender form contrasted finely with his tall, manly person. The fond, confiding air with which she looked up to him seemed to call forth a flush of triumphant pride and cherishing tenderness as if he doted on his lovely burden for its very helplessness. Never did a couple set forward on the flowery path of early and well-suited marriage with a fairer prospect of felicity.

It was the misfortune of my friend, however, to have embarked his property in large speculations; and he had not been married many months, when, by a succession of sudden disasters, it was swept from him, and he found himself reduced to almost penury. For a time he kept his situation to himself and went about with a haggard countenance and a breaking heart. His life was but a protracted agony; and what rendered it more insupportable was the necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence of his wife; for he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news.

She saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not well with him. She marked his altered looks and stifled sighs and was not to be deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at cheerfulness. She tasked all her sprightly powers and tender blandishments to win him back to happiness; but she only drove the arrow deeper into his soul. The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched.

A little while, thought he, and the smile will vanish from that cheek---the song will die away from those lips---the luster of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow; and the happy heart which now beats lightly in that bosom will be weighed down like mine, with the cares and miseries of the world. At length he came to me, one day, and related his whole situation, in a tone of the deepest despair.

When I had heard him through I inquired, "Does your wife know all this?"

At the question he burst into an agony of tears. "For God's sake!" cried he, "if you have any pity on me, don't mention my wife; it is the thought of her that drives me almost to madness."

"And why not?" said I, "She must know it sooner or later; you can not keep it long from her, or the intelligence may break upon her in a more startling manner than if imparted by yourself; for the accents of those we love soften the harshest tidings. Besides, you are depriving yourself of the comforts of her sympathy; and not merely that, but also endangering the only bond that can keep hearts together--unreserved community of thought and feeling. She will soon perceive that something is secretly preying upon your mind; and true love will not brook reserve; it feels undervalued and outraged when even the sorrows of those it loves are concealed from it."

"Oh, but my friend! To think what a blow I am to give to all her future prospects--how I am to strike her very soul to the earth, by telling her that her husband is a beggar! That she is to forgo all the elegances of life--all the pleasures of society--to shrink with me into indigence and obscurity! To tell her that I have dragged her down from the sphere in which she might have continued to move in constant brightness, the light of every eye, the admiration of every heart! How can she bear poverty? She has been brought up in all the refinements of opulence. How can she bear neglect? She has been the idol of society. Oh! It will break her heart--it will break her heart!"

After additional patience, I finally persuaded Leslie to go home and unburden his sad heart to his wife. The next morning I was eager to know the results. In inquiring, I found that Leslie had made the disclosure.

"And how did she bear it?"

"Like an angel! It seemed rather to be a relief to her mind, for she threw her arms 'round my neck, and asked if this was all that had lately made me unhappy. But, poor girl!" added he, "She can not realize the change we must undergo. She has no idea of poverty but in the abstract; she has only read of it in poetry, where it is allied to love. She feels yet no privation; she suffers no loss of accustomed conveniences nor elegances. When we come practically to experience its sordid cares, its paltry wants, its petty humiliations, then will be the real trial."

Some days afterward he called upon me in the evening. He had disposed of his dwelling house, and taken a small cottage in the country, a few miles from town. He had been busied all day in sending out furniture. The new establishment required few articles, and those of the simplest kind.

He was going out to the cottage where his wife had been all day superintending its arrangement. My feelings had become strongly interested in the progress of the family story, and as it was evening, I offered to accompany him. He was wearied with the fatigues of the day, and as he walked out, fell into a fit of gloomy musing.

"Poor Mary!" at length broke, with a heavy sigh from his lips.

"And what of her?" asked I; "Has anything happened to her?"

"What!" said he, darting an impatient glance; "Is it nothing to be reduced to this paltry situation, to be caged in a miserable cottage, to be obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of her wretched habitation?"

"Has she, then, repined at the change?"

"Repined! She has been nothing but sweetness and good humor. Indeed, she seems in better spirits than I have ever known her; she has been to me all love and tenderness and comfort!"

"Admirable girl!" exclaimed I. "You call yourself poor, my friend, you never were so rich! You never knew the boundless treasures of excellence you possess in that woman."

"Oh, but, my friend, if this, our first meeting at the cottage were over, I think I could then be comfortable. But this is her first day of real experience; she has been introduced into a humble dwelling; she has been employed all day in arranging the miserable equipment; she has for the first time, known fatigues of domestic employment; she has, for the first time, looked around her on a home destitute of everything elegant, almost everything convenient; and now may be sitting down exhausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of future poverty."

There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could not gainsay; so we walked on in silence. After turning from the main road up a narrow lane, so thickly shaded with forest trees as to give it a complete air of seclusion, we came in sight of the cottage. It was humble enough in its appearance for the most pastoral poet; and yet it had a pleasing rural look. A wild vine had overrun one end with a profusion of foliage; a few trees threw their branches gracefully over it; and I observed several pots of flowers tastefully disposed about the door, and on the grass-plot in front.

A small wicket gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some shrubbery to the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound of music. Leslie grabbed my arm. We paused and listened. It was Mary's voice, singing in a style of the most touching simplicity, a little air of which her husband was peculiarly fond. I felt Leslie's hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward, to hear more distinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel walk.

A bright, beautiful face glanced out of the window and vanished, a light footstep was heard, and Mary came tripping forth to meet us. She was in a pretty rural dress of white; a few wildflowers were twisted in her fine hair; a fresh bloom was on her cheek, her whole countenance beamed with smiles. I had never seen her look so lovely.

"My dear Leslie," cried she, "I am so glad you are come! I have been watching and watching for you; and running down the lane, and looking for you. I've set out a table under a beautiful tree behind the cottage; and I've been gathering some of the most delicious strawberries, for I know you are fond of them, and we have such excellent cream, and everything is so sweet and still here! Oh!" said she, putting her arm within his and looking up brightly in his face--"Oh, we shall be so happy."

Poor Leslie was overcome. He caught her to his bosom, he folded his arms around her, he kissed her again and again, he could not speak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often assured me that, though the world has since gone prosperously with him, and his life has, indeed, been a happy one, yet never has he experienced a moment of more exquisite felicity.

In making application to this story, remember, you may be required to adapt to something less romantic than a cottage in the woods. It may be a cold house in a crowded city, or a barren home in a dry desert. But, adapting to these dreary situations cheerfully will deepen his (your husband's--or your families, for that matter) appreciation and love for you.


Kimberly said...

There's a good lesson in that story. Thanks for sharing.

Dawn said...

Bless you dear Cora!
I remember reading that story to you years ago from Fascinating Womanhood! Somehow it seems more special coming from your "Pen." Thank you for taking the time to share it with all of us as a reminder that it is the love of people, not the love of money, which makes us truly happy in life!!!

Kristi said...

This is a beautiful story. Thanks for your long labor typing it up for others to read. : ) I only found it because I did a search for "Jason" and ended up in 2009 at your friend Kjersti's wedding.

Your mom also sent me Fascinating Womanhood to read years ago when I first married, but I don't remember this story. The comparison of Agnes and Dora in David Copperfield is all that sticks in my memory from that book.