The Husband and Father
Mrs. Shelby had gone on her visit, and Eliza stood in the verandah, rather dejectedly looking after the retreating carriage, when a hand was laid on her shoulder. She turned, and a bright smile lighted up her fine eyes.
George, is it you? How you frightened me! Well; I am so glad you s come! Missis is gone to spend the afternoon; so come into my little room, and well have the time all to ourselves.
Saying this, she drew him into a neat little apartment opening on the verandah, where she generally sat at her sewing, within call of her mistress.
How glad I am!why dont you smile?and look at Harryhow he grows. The boy stood shyly regarding his father through his curls, holding close to the skirts of his mothers dress. Isnt he beautiful? said Eliza, lifting his long curls and kissing him.
I wish hed never been born! said George, bitterly. I wish Id never been born myself!
Surprised and frightened, Eliza sat down, leaned her head on her husbands shoulder, and burst into tears.
There now, Eliza, its too bad for me to make you feel so, poor girl! said he, fondly; its too bad: O, how I wish you never had seen meyou might have been happy!
George! George! how can you talk so? What dreadful thing has happened, or is going to happen? Im sure weve been very happy, till lately.
So we have, dear, said George. Then drawing his child on his knee, he gazed intently on his glorious dark eyes, and passed his hands through his long curls.
Just like you, Eliza; and you are the handsomest woman I ever saw, and the best one I ever wish to see; but, oh, I wish Id never seen you, nor you me!
O, George, how can you!
Yes, Eliza, its all misery, misery, misery! My life is bitter as wormwood; the very life is burning out of me. Im a poor, miserable, forlorn drudge; I shall only drag you down with me, thats all. Whats the use of our trying to do anything, trying to know anything, trying to be anything? Whats the use of living? I wish I was dead!
O, now, dear George, that is really wicked! I know how you feel about losing your place in the factory, and you have a hard master; but pray be patient, and perhaps something
Patient! said he, interrupting her; havent I been patient? Did I say a word when he came and took me away, for no earthly reason, from the place where everybody was kind to me? Id paid him truly every cent of my earnings,and they all say I worked well.
Well, it is dreadful, said Eliza; but, after all, he is your master, you know.
My master! and who made him my master? Thats what I think ofwhat right has he to me? Im a man as much as he is. Im a better man than he is. I know more about business than he does; I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can; I can write a better hand,and Ive learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,Ive learned it in spite of him; and now what right has he to make a dray-horse of me?to take me from things I can do, and do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse can do? He tries to do it; he says hell bring me down and humble me, and he puts me to just the hardest, meanest and dirtiest work, on purpose!
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