Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

9 articles on this Page

--THE RECRUIT.

THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR,…

[No title]

JACK'S MOTHER-IN-LAW.

News
Cite
Share

JACK'S MOTHER-IN-LAW. --+- I PRESUME you didn't know Jack Robinson in the days of his glory. So much the worse for you, then, for you missed the acquaintance of one of the jolliest and beat-hearted dogs that ever wore trousers. He was the life and soul and whisky punch of a crowd of us young fellow about town. No pleasure- promising project was ever afloat in which he did not take the lead; no party, or ride, or sail, or pic nic, was complete without his exhilarating countenance and jocular Ha, ha." In short, he was the kindest fellow that ever helped a fellow out of a scrape, and he was the most obliging fellow that ever backed a note for a friend, and he was tbitgallantest fellow that ever lifted a lady over a puddle, antl he was the toughest nut at a billiard board that ever chalked a erne. Business called him down east—I don't know where, exactly, but some place in Maine or Canada, or there- about—not the town you live in, however, but a long way further to the eastward, and there in that down east town Jack Robinson met his destiny. She was a great bouncing, rosy-cheeked, bright eyed, sentimental creature, was Jack's destiny, deeply read in novels, particularly indolent and helpless, and in everything subject unto her mother. There were sheep's eyes, and lending of books, and idiotic verses in albums, and delightful rides, and romantic walks, and somebody's arm round, somebody"s waist, and kiases, and all the rest of it. The east wind, or sompthing else, occasionally brought to us boys vague rumours of Jack's galli- vanting, and we were not disposed to interpose any stumbling blocks, for we knew there was and is a vast multitude of number-one girls in the orient, and we had some little confidence in Jack's judgment and ?ood taste. By-and-by Bob Bangs had occasion to journey towards the rising sun, too. "TelJ ye what ID is, boys," said Bob, in great ex- citement, when he returned to the city and to us, 'tain't goin' to do, by Jove, for Jack to fool round that gal any longer, now mind I tell ye. She's no more the wife for him than I am she's got no more mind of her own, or decision of character, by Jove, than a handsome sheep. Her mother's a regular field-marshal in petticoats, and is dismally strong- minded. She says she has but one daughter, and )nly lives to see that dear child happy. It is a langerous fix Jack's got into, for it's a little bit of a town, not much bigger'n your fist, by Jove, and she's the only pretty girl in it. I s'pose Jack's just fool enough to think that if he marries anybody down ;here, it'll be that gal. No such thing. He'll marry the ole 'ooman, and she'll swaller him, by Jove, that's what she'll do. Now, Jack's too good a feller to be wasted in that sort of style, and we ought somehow to ihake him up, and make him come to his senses. Here, Jinx, you write and tell him what we think ibout it." So Jinx squared himself at a sheet of paper, and From the dictation of half a dozen highly interested gentlemen, all speaking at the same time and to different purposes, wrote such a letter aa a wise rather might write to his son. The epistle evidently made an impression, for Jack wrote back that he would be cautious and consider well before he acted. And doubtless, he did but the result was the old itory. On one side was a frank, open-hearted gener- ous young gentleman, believing all men honest, and all women angels on the other, a managing, design- ing, intriguing mother of an only daughter, the only handsome girl in town, and she, like a few, a very few more of her own sex, a natural born Sapphira, putting on her most fascinating airs, and saying, by word and action, to him who would estimate her charms and merits, Yea, for so much," when all the time she knew herself to be on the tip-topest pinnacle of her good looks and behaviour. Well, Jack married and fetched Mrs. Jack down to the city, and took a nice little house in a nice little street, and set up a nice litMe establishment. Nothing could be more snug and comfortable. For about a year all went merry as the marriage bell, and the reading of Rosa Matildaish poetry, and the delightful rides, and the romantic walks went on, and it was dear, and duck, and dove, and darling, and what not, just the same as before the knot was tied. Although not a courtship, it was "the same subject continued." But ere the twelfth moon had sneaked out from the little end of her horn, a change comes o'er the spirit of Jack's dream. Shop-boys began ringing the door-bell with bundles of linen, and flannel, and narrow, bleached diamond-spotted towel stuff of some sort; then came an extra domestic of a comfortable, roomy, and matronly aspect, and last of all, one woful, black, and dismal day, came Mrs. Jones, with a hundred bandboxes. Ah, unsuspecting Jack! ah, gentle Robinson! little didst thou dream, aa with teeth-displaying smiles thou diast hand thy beloved mother-in-law from the door of that unhappy coach, that all those seemingly innocent bandboxes were henceforth to be te th«e and thy houso as though they had been bequeathed to thee by the late Mrs. Pandora. They didn't call its name John, after its father, as its father would have liked, but Adoniram, after the worthy divine that Mrs. Jones sits under." As Mrs. Jones was kini enough to come to town npon the occasion," and as she was only to stay a month or six weeks at furthest, the best room in the house—Jack's study—was prepared for her accommo- dation, or rather, she had it prepared for herself. It was a plejsant relief to Jack when Mrs. Jones kindly teok charge of the keys, and the marketing, and the ordering of the servants. "Mrs. Jones, my wife's mother, is really a verv superior woman," said J nek to Jinx, and Jinx shook his head dolefully, for if there is anything ominous and superlatively hateful to that gentleman, it is a superior woman." The month or six weeks went off promptly, as is the punctual custom of months and six weeks; but Mrs. Jones by no means followed their excellent ex- ample. On the contrary, she sent for another hundred bandboxes. "Lizzy was always delicate from a child, is far from well now, and requires a mother's care. It would be the height of imprudence and cruelty to leave the poor thing with so much to attend to." Thus said Mrs. Jones, though Lizzy looked and was as robust as a "beef creeter," and in the days of court- ship it had been her mother's boast that she never had known a sick day, Mrs. Jones has been a great help to all of us, and a comfort to Lizzy, since she has been with us, and she thinks it advisable to remain a few days longer," said Jack, with a perplexed and troubled look. When Mrs. Jones's "things" arrived, there also comes to hand a span of gawky boys, Mrs. Jones's two youngest sons, from whom she cannot think "Of being separated, and who must not lose such an ex- cellent opportunity for attending school at Boston during the winter. Of course they are quartered upon Jack, and hook his cigars and borrow money from him, and of course, when their education is com- pleted, Mr. Robinson is a heartless, unfeeling brute, because he does not forthwith get them situations in some flrat-claas bank or insurance office at a salary of £ •200 each. When Jack's own mother and sisters call upon him, what can be more natural than for Mrs. Jones to let them see, severely, that they are poking their noses into that which does not concern them, and when they venture, in a friendly way, to inquire or suggest the slightest thing, what more Proper t'ien for Mrs. Jones to give them a piece of her mind. Does Jack timidly remonstrate—herself, and her daughter are not going to be imposed upon in their own house by those who had better be attending to their own affairs, if they have any to attend to. If some people want to create a division in the family, thank goodness she is dear-sighted enough to see through it all, and will prevent it, he may set his heart on that. And so on, without end, until Mrs. Jack who is completely under her mother's influence and thumb, gets worked up to an hysterical pitch, and grabs her young one froral the crib, clutches it convulsively to her bosom, and hopes, amid a bucket of tears, that at least thev will net tear her unfortu- nate child from her, and that she may mercifully be permitted to die before they hare taught it, too, to hate and despise her. At this the offspring, who, like a little stupid cherub as it is, can't see any sense in its mother a sudden violence, begins kicking and striking out with its shapeless legs and arms, and giving vent to a chorus of dreadful shrieks and screeches. Jack, indignant, opens his mouth, but it is instantly closed by a volley from Mrs. Jones. Unfeeling wretch, he is killing her daughter, and does he think that she, as a mother, is going to stand by "nd permit it? He little knows, and never de- served the treasure that has been thrown away upon him in that dear creature. It is plain that he will be only too happy when the poor, suffering child has gone broken-hearted to her grave," &c. etc. For the first half year or so Jack buoys up his heart with the fond, feeble belief that his mother-in- law must, in the nature of things, some time or other take her bandboxes and her departure. Vain hope! it gradually becomes evident that even if she should return home, it would shortly become necessary to send for her again post haste, and so, fur the sake of peace in his steadily increasing family, he meekly yields to his fate. Faeilis descensus avcrni, which is, being interpreted, he who knuckles to Mrs. Jones is a gone goose. Jack becomes nobody in his own house, or rather he is supposed to infest Mrs. Jones's establishment, pro- vided he interferes with nothing during the day, and comes home to bed at a suitable hour at the early evening, for a latch-key, look you, is not for the likes of him. The doors of the temple of the drama, and ef his old accustomed club-room, are closed to him for ever; his harmless wine-glass is turned up- side down, and his cigar put out. If he smokes at home the curtains are so irretrievably ruined that a new set, at double cost, has to be put up forthwith, and if he smokes abroad, he is a dissolute, profligate,, wretch, who wishes to make his innocent children blush to own him as their father. His bachelor friends are, as a matter of course, intolerable nuisances. Once, when Jinx had the temerity to drop in of an evening, he was received with frigid silence on the part of the females, and a forced, fidgety air of reckless gaity, painfully overdone, on the part of Jack. Jinx soon saw the state of affairs at a glance, and not desiring to keep .his friend in agony, he abridged his call, and carelessly mentioned, as he rose to depart, that, as it was quite early, he should run down to the club, and see if there was any later news from Paria. Jack grabbed his hat, glad of any excuse for getting out of the house for an instant, and inti- mated that he was exceedingly anxious to hear from the seat of war. At this Mrs. Jones trod upon the toes of her daughter, causing that estimable spouse to remark, in an appallingly distinettone of voice," John, my de-ar, you surely are not going out at this late hour of the night it is almost eight o'clock besides, mother is going to have your feet in hot water and a plaster on your chest—it's absurd to think of going out now." Before Jinx was fairly off the stoop, Mra. Jones proceeded to fulfil her promise of putting Jack in hot water. Such disreputable individuals should never pollute her house, she could tell him. Do you hear, Mr. Bob-'meon ? when su h persons are introduced into this house by you, who, if you were a man, would scorn such associates, me and my daughter leave it— that we will. I'd have you know, Mr. Bob-inson, scorn such associates, me and my daughter leave it— that we will. I'd have you know, Mr. i?o6-inson, that I'm not to be trampled on we have borne with your abuse and ill-treatment quite long enough, sir and though it is the study of your life to insult and tread us under foot, I'd have you remember, sir-I say, I'd have you remember, sir, that even our patience may be worn out at last," and—more—of—the—same -sort. When upon the street Jack sees any of us boys afar off, instead of running and falling upon our necks and kissing us, he darts round the nearest corner and off out of sight, for fear we shall ask him to go some-; whfre, or insist upon his inviting us to his home to partake of the fatted calf, as he did during the first year of his wedded life. He loses his spirit, his inde- pendence, and his good looks, and becomes a very sneak and sloven. MftI. Jones arranges everything i and manages the household; Mra. Jones attends to all; the shopping and dealings with tradesmen, Jack not: being thought of, nor does his name appear except at, the summit of long and frequent bills. The servants sneer at him in the kitchen, and treat him disrespect fully in the parlour. He may ring his bell till be is black in the face, but unless the servants are parti- cularly good-natured, and Mrs. Jonea has nothing for them to do, he will ring in vain. Once, and only once did he make a determined effort to throw off the yoke. Mra. Jonea had taken herself and her daughter and the children to the aea- side, and Jack, in jubilant spirits at his temporary I emancipation, had us fellows up to a jolly spread at hia own house. Champagne and confidence abounded, as in the daya of old. We rallied him upon his domestic affairs, and he pleaded guilty. He was a miserable dog—had been a weak fool, and be knew it —nobody was to blame but himself." As bachelor's wivesand mothers-in-law arenotoriously well managed, we, of courae, were competent to give htm any quan- tity of the very best advice, and we did it. "You are right, boys," said Jack, with a flash of his old spirit, thumping the table with his fist till the glasses jumped with astonishment at hia rebellious danng. I have been led by the nose long enough— too long, and I won't stand it another day. It's time to assert my authority, and I'll do it, though the heavens fall. Lizzy and I got along tip-top till that horrid old woman came into the house, and we shall when she's gone, for go she shall, as sure as my name is Jack Robinson. I'll be master in my own house, see if I don't." Jack stuck to this excellent resolution like a hero, and when the queen bee returned, he marshalled his forces and a battle royal ensued, which lasted all night and attracted the attention of passers-by, so fierce and sternly-contested was the fight. Crossing the common next day, I met an interest- ing domestic procession. First came Mrs. Robinson, bundled up in a hundred shawls and leaning upon the arm of Mra. Jonea, who had a triumphant expres- sion upon her countenance, and aevere silk dress upon all the rest of her person. Immediately behind these I two came a four-wheeled go-cart, in which were the twins, sitting face to face at the stem and stern of tin vehicle. The motive power which impelled the de- testable willow contrivance, was a cross nursery- piaid, who waa sharply scolding a meek and frightened looking individual in nankin trousers, who was shading the infants with a thundering great blue cotton umbrella. For an instant our eyes mpt, but he dropped his to the ground in confusion, pretend- ing not to see me. Let me die if the thing in nankin trousers wasn't Jack! I could havekic-kfd hiiu. I I turntd away, sick at my stomach. Jack was ex- tinguished.

[No title]

LADIES' COLUMN

USEFUL HINTS.""

[No title]

JVARIETIES::'