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followed, to see the young ducks, but more curious to see "th' old man," who seemed a person of so much importance.
He looked up from his paper, and vouchsafed me a civil salutation, and then asked his wife rather sharply whether dinner was ready.
"Bless your dear soul!" she exclaimed;
why, I ha'n't so much as thought about dinner! But I can get some snaps in a minute, and stir up some griddles, if that'll do. You don't care much about dinner, such a hot day, do ye?"
Snaps!" said the fat man contemptuously; "keep your green victuals for your golins; and as for griddles, I an't a-going to have a fire in here, so whatever you do, you must do it out o' doors. I must have some pork, any way. I sha'n't keep, this weather, if I don't have some salt meat."
Poor Aunty Parshalls cast a doleful glance at the blazing sunshine, and ventured a gentle remonstrance.
Why deary now, them snaps is so tender, I know you would like 'em with butter, and
I could cook 'em with a little blaze of chips, and bake the griddles too. But then if you don't like it" She concluded, seeing a frown gathering on his brow, "why it an't I'll make a fire out o' doors."
I admired the young ducks duly, and accorded just commendation to the little tub of water sunk in the ground near the back door for them to paddle in, and then took my leave. (I must tell my reader what I did not always know myself, that "snaps" are young green beans, and "griddles" cakes baked on a girdle; favourite cates in these parts.)
After I reached home again, and sat fanning myself by the window, I saw Mrs. Parshalls hazing about her open fire, and I had a feeling sense of what she must be suffering.
This business acquaintance ripened into real interest before a great while. Mr. Parshalls was always the very man he appeared at first sight, selfish and exacting, and determinedly indolent. In summer it was too hot for him to stir, in winter too cold; and in the intermediate seasons it was either wet,
or windy, or chilly, neither of which conditions of atmosphere agreed with him. The greatest exertion he was ever known to make, was to walk over to the village in the morning, and sit smoking on the tavern steps or in the store all day, laying down the law on all disputed points to the hordes of idlers who frequent those places.
The wife was the very opposite of her husband in person as in heart. As he was fat she was lean, and even to a much greater degree. Her long, knobby limbs looked like mere framework, while he wore the air of having been run into his clothes, and pretty large clothes too. His face was of a hue approaching that of a red cabbage; his wife's brown and wrinkled with exposure and fatigue. Her humble and loving spirit but served to excite his tyrannical propensities but she had so much of that charity which "hopeth all things," that she persuaded herself always that her husband was improving.
"For the true-hearted soul deem'd a weather-stain'd face, And a toil-harden'd hand were no marks of disgrace." MRS. SIGOURNEY.
I HAD been some little time acquainted with Mrs. Parshalls before I knew that she had a son, a widower, with a little boy of some three years old, or perhaps not so much. But at length Henry came for a visit, with his sweet rosy-cheeked boy, and the poor old mother was the happiest of the happy. She said she took "clear comfort," and no one could doubt it, who saw her with her little grandson in her arms. To be sure she rose earlier, and toiled still harder than before, but the new spring at her heart lightened all her labours. Little Alfred was always with her. With the unerring instinct of childhood, he preferred following her steps all day, to enjoying any of the various temptations offered by his grand
father; and by virtue of this exclusive preference, added to his thousand little winning ways, he became part and parcel of poor Aunty Parshalls's being, so that Henry on going away yielded to her entreaties, and left the boy with her.
Soon after this, we heard of his marriage. He had chosen a girl of sixteen, thoughtless and uninformed, even more than is usual at that age. From this time, Mrs. Parshalls lived in constant fear, lest her darling would be required of her. But three months passed away, and no word came from Henry, who lived at some distance, and was not a very attentive son. By and by a letter was received, announcing that he was about to remove into our neighbourhood, where he owned a piece of land. The world had gone amiss with him, and he wrote in poor spirits, scarcely mentioning his young wife, and indeed saying nothing beyond what was absolutely necessary. Here was an increase of poor Aunty's cares and anxieties! Henry had been very prosperous; so much so that the order of nature had become reversed in