Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > T. S. Arthur > Two Wives > This page

Two Wives, a fiction by T. S. Arthur

Chapter 3

< Previous
Table of content
Next >

"Now, what will you take?" said Henry Ellis, as he entered, with the weak and yielding Wilkinson, the bar-room of Parker's tavern.

"Any thing you choose to call for," replied Wilkinson, whose mind was turning homeward, and who wished to be there. "In fact, I don't really want any thing. Call for two glasses of cold water. These will leave our heads clear."

"Water! Ha! ha! That is a good one, Bill"--and Ellis spoke to the bar-tender--"Mix us a couple of stiff brandy toddies."

The bar-tender nodded and smiled his acceptance of the order, and the two men retired to a table that stood in a remote part of the room, at which they were soon served with the liquor.

"Bill mixes the best brandy toddy I ever tasted. He knows his business," said Ellis, as he put the glass to his lips. "Isn't it fine?"

"It is very good," replied Wilkinson, as he sipped the tempting mixture.

But his thoughts were turning homeward, and he scarcely perceived the taste of what he drank. Suddenly, he pushed the glass from him, and, making a motion to rise from the table, said--

"Indeed, Ellis, I must go home. My child is sick, and Mary will be distressed at my absence. Come around to my store, to-morrow, and we will talk this matter over. Neither you nor I are now in a fit state to discuss so grave a matter.

" Sit down, will you!"

This was the reply of Ellis, as he caught quickly the arm of his friend, and almost forced him, by main strength, to resume his seat.

"There, now," he added, as Wilkinson resumed his seat. "Never put off until to-morrow what can as well be done to-day. That is my motto. I want to talk with you about Cara, and no time is so good as the present."

"Well, well," returned Wilkinson, impatiently. "What do you want to say? Speak quickly, and to the point."

"Just what I'm going to do. But, first, I must see the bottom of my tumbler. There, now; come, you must do the same. Drink to good old times, and eternal friendship--drink, my fast and faithful friend!"

The warmth of the room and the quick effects of a strong glass of brandy toddy were making rapid advances on Ellis's partial state of inebriety.

Wilkinson emptied his glass, and then said--

"Speak, now, I'm all attention."

"Well, you see, Jack," and Ellis leaned over towards Wilkinson familiarly, and rested his arm upon his knee. You see, Jack, that huzzy of mine--if I must call the dear girl by such a name--is leading me the deuce of a life. Confound her pretty face! I love her, and would do almost any thing to please her; but she won't be pleased at any thing. She combs my head for me as regularly as the day comes."

"Hush--hush! Don't talk so of Cara. Her temper may be a little uncertain, but that is her weakness. She is your wife, and you must bear with these things. It isn't manly in you to be vexed at every trifle."

Trifle! Humph! I'd like you to have a week of my experience. You wouldn't talk any more about trifles."

"You should humour her a great deal, Harry. I am not so sure that you are not quite as much to blame for these differences and fallings out as she is."

" I wasn't to blame to-night, I am sure. Didn't I bring home Prescott, thinking that she would be delighted to have me sit the evening with her and read so charming an author? But, at the very proposition, she flared up, and said she didn't want to hear my musty old histories. Humph! A nice way to make a man love his home. Better for her and me, too, I'm thinking, that she had listened to the history, and kept her husband by her side."

"And for me, too," thought Wilkinson. "I should now, at least, be at home with my loving-hearted wife. Ah, me!"

"Now, what am I to do, Jack--say? Give me your advice."

"The first thing for you to do is to go home, and to go at once. Come!"

And Wilkinson made another effort to rise; but the hand of Ellis bore him down.

"Stay, stay!" he muttered, impatiently. "Now don't be in such a confounded hurry. Can't you talk with an old friend for a minute or so? Look here, I've been thinking--let me see--what was I going to say?"

The mind of Ellis was growing more and more confused; nor was the head of Wilkinson so clear as when he entered the bar-room. The strong glass of brandy toddy was doing its work on both of them.

"Let me see," went on Ellis, in a wandering way. I was speaking of Cara--oh, yes, of Cara. Bless her heart, but confound her crooked temper! Now, what would you advise me to do, my old friend?"

"Go home, I have said," replied Wilkinson.

"And get my head combed with a three-legged stool? No, blast me if I do! I've stayed out this long just to make her sensible of her unkindness to one of the best of husbands--and I'm not going home until I am dead drunk. I guess that'll bring her to her bearings. Ha! Don't you think so, Jack?"

"Good heavens!" was just at this instant exclaimed by one of the inmates of the bar-room, in a low, startled tone of voice.

"Your wife, as I live!" fell from the lips of Ellis, whose face was turned towards the entrance of the bar-room.

Wilkinson sprang to his feet. Just within the door stood a female form, her head uncovered, her under person clad in a white wrapper, and her face colourless as the dress she wore. There was a wild, frightened look in her staring eyes.

"Is Mr. Wilkinson here?" she asked, just as her husband's eyes rested upon her, and her thrilling voice reached his ears.

With a bound, Wilkinson was at her side.

"Oh, John! John!" she cried, in a voice of anguish. "Come home! Come quick! Our dear little Ella is dying!"

An instant more, and, to the inmates of the bar-room, the curtain fell upon that startling scene; for Wilkinson and his wife vanished almost as suddenly as if they had sunk together through the floor. _

Read next: Chapter 4

Read previous: Chapter 2

Table of content of Two Wives


Post your review
Your review will be placed after the table of content of this book