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him all the rest of the evening, so that he's not likely to You don't know how to manage a husband,
do it again.
Perhaps not," said the invalid, wearily, "but I must try to do something for George ;" and after her sister had gone she sat thinking over all that had been said, and wondering what she should do to induce her husband to break off the irregular and unsteady habits which were rapidly growing upon him.
Taking down her Bible, she read a chapter, and then prayed for the help and guidance of God's Holy Spirit, which so far calmed her, that she could wait with more patience her husband's coming home.
About an hour after her sister had left she heard an unsteady footstep coming up the garden path, and the next minute the door opened and George came in.
But instead of meeting her with a look of glad surprise, as she had expected, he said angrily, "What made you come down stairs to-day? I'm sure this room ain't fit for you."
Weak and weary, Maria could scarcely keep back her reproachful tears, but she managed to say, with an attempt at cheerfulness, "It isn't worse for me than it is for you, George."
"But if I'd known you were coming down I should have had the place cleaned up a bit," said George, in the same angry tone.
Oh, never mind about the place," she said. "I shall soon be able to clean it up myself, I hope."
"But I do mind," said her husband, who seemed bent upon making a quarrel; "and you ought to have told me you meant to come down stairs to-day. Of course your
sister thinks I am the greatest brute and the worst husband in the world."
"Oh no, George," said his wife, soothingly.
"But she told me so only half an hour ago," he said. "Have you seen Sarah this evening then ?"
"Yes, I have, and she told me all you two had been talking about; but you need not think of managing me as she manages John, for I won't have it, and he won't stand it much longer; he says his home is quite wretched with her scolding and grumbling at him as she does."
"Well, I have not scolded or grumbled yet, have I?” asked Maria.
"No, but you intend beginning, I hear. You don't like the way I'm going on, and mean to alter it, and I can tell you it's more than you can do. I mean to spend my time and money as I like, and as long as I give you enough to keep house with you need not grumble," saying which he went out of the room.
Poor Maria! she had been picturing the pleasant look of surprise, the glad, hopeful, tender words with which her husband would greet her. He had never spoken so harshly and unkindly to her before, and now that she was ill she was less able to bear it; but she did not forget to make allowance for his anger. He had been drinking too much, she could see, and then her sister's words and reproaches had made him very angry. Her tears she could not stop now, but she did not utter a word of complaint when he came into the room again and asked if she had had her
"Not yet," she said; "I waited for you. "I waited for you." She did not want any now, but she would not say so; she thought if she tried to eat a little her husband would do the same, and the quarrel might be made up before they went up-stairs.
But George seemed bent upon keeping up his anger, and after he put out the supper on the table he left the room again, and did not return until his wife had gone up to bed. The next morning as he was leaving to go to work, he said, "Do you mean to come down-stairs again to-day?" "Oh yes, I hope so," said his wife, cheerfully.
Very well; I shan't be home very early, you know, and you need not send Sarah for me again, for it won't make any difference in my plans, I can tell you."
"George, I did not send Sarah for you last night. I did not know she was coming," said his wife, the tears rising to her eyes at his continued unkindness.
He felt half ashamed of himself as he went down-stairs. If Maria had only answered shortly and angrily, he would have felt justified in staying out late at night; but still he did not mean to come home. She should see he was not to be managed so easily as she imagined. He would do as he liked.
Doing as he liked meant spending his money and wasting his time—at least a good deal of it; and for the next few days Maria saw very little of her husband. He came home cross and out of temper more with himself than anybody else; for his wife's gentle patience was a greater reproach than anything else could have been. He really wished she would grumble and scold him, for then he would have had some excuse for leaving her alone night after night.
At last he thought the scolding really would come. More than half his wages had to be paid for the beer he had drunk during the week; and when he went home he grumbled at having to part with the remainder, complaining that Maria had been very extravagant lately.
She was much better now, and able to move about the house and make things more comfortable. she repeated. "Well, I was going to be extravagant next week, and get somebody to weed the garden and make it tidy, but as we cannot afford it I must try to do it myself."
George was quite prepared with a retort if she had said anything in complaint; but he was not prepared with an answer to this, and so he went out into the garden that he had neglected so much lately. Maria guessed at what was passing in her husband's mind, and determined to follow up her present opportunity.
Her cleaning was just done, and she had prepared a favourite dish for her husband's dinner, and when it was set on the table she went to the door and called him, "Come, George, make haste, or it will get cold," she said.
"I don't want any dinner," he said, sulkily. He felt he did not deserve any, and would still rather have been grumbled at, but he came in and sat down at the table. “There, I said you were extravagant, and so you are, getting beefsteak pudding for Saturday," he said.
Well, I may be extravagant for you, may I not?" she said, with a smile. He ate a few mouthfuls in silence, and
then put down his
knife and fork and looked round the
bright, tidy room, and then at the warm, pale, but uncomplaining face of his wife.
Maria, I don't understand you one bit," he said. "Why don't you grumble and scold me? I'm sure I deserve it.” Maria's hand shook and her eyes filled with tears as she said, "Because I have learned that A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.'"
"And is that what religion has taught you?" asked George.
"I don't think I could have been patient this last week if God had not helped me," said Maria, sadly.
"Oh, I have tried your patience, I know," said her husband; but you've conquered, Maria. If you had grumbled and complained I could have gone on enjoying myself in my own way; but I can't now. Pray that God will help me to break off my bad habits as He has helped you to be patient. By His help I will never go to the public-house again."
George kept his word. His wife had conquered him, he said-conquered by the "soft answer" that "turneth away wrath."
Efficacy of Prayer.
HE hand of faith never knocked at heaven in vain.
waters could have given them any savour.
How easy is it
for Him that made the matter to alter the quality! It is not more hard to take away than to give. Who doubts but the same hand that created them might have immediately changed them? Yet that almighty power will do it by means. A piece of wood must sweeten the waters. What relation hath wood to water? or that which hath no savour to the redress of bitterness? Yet there is no more possibility of failing, than proportion to the success. All things are subject to the command of their Maker. He that made all of nothing can make everything of anything. There is so much power in every creature as He will please to give. It is the praise of Omnipotency to work by improbabilities: Elisha with salt, Moses with wood, shall sweeten the bitter waters. no man despise the means, when he knows the Author. God taught His people by actions as well as words. This entrance showed them their whole journey, wherein they should taste of much bitterness; but at last, through the mercy of God, sweetened with comfort. Or did it not represent themselves rather in the journey, in the fountains of whose hearts were the bitter waters of manifold corruptions; yet their unsavoury souls are sweetened by the graces of His Spirit. O blessed Saviour, the wood of Thy cross, that is, the application of Thy sufferings, is enough to sweeten a whole sea of bitterness! I care not how unpleasant a portion I find in this wilderness, if the power and benefit of Thy precious death may season it to my soul.
My Heavenly Home.
"Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where