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Paste Jewels   By: (1862-1922)

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Transcribed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk, from the 1897 Harper and Brothers edition.

PASTE JEWELS

PREFACE

It may interest the readers of this collection of tales, if there should be any such, to know that the incidents upon which the stories are based are unfortunately wholly truthful. They have one and all come under the author's observation during the past ten years, and with the exception of "Mr. Bradley's Jewel," concerning whom it is expressly stated that she was employed through lack of other available material, not one of the servants herein made famous or infamous, as the case may be, was employed except upon presentation of references written by responsible persons that could properly have been given only to domestics of the most sterling character. It is this last fact that points the moral of the tales here presented, if it does not adorn them.

J. K. B.

THE EMANCIPATION OF THADDEUS

They were very young, and possibly too amiable. Thaddeus was but twenty four and Bessie twenty two when they twain, made one, walked down the middle aisle of St. Peter's together.

Everybody remarked how amiable she looked even then; not that a bride on her way out of church should look unamiable, of course, but we all know how brides do look, as a rule, on such occasions looks difficult of analysis, but strangely suggestive of determined timidity, if there can be such a quality expressed in the human face. It is the natural expression of one who knows that she has taken the most important step of her life, and, on turning to face those who have been bidden to witness the ceremony, observes that the sacredness of the occasion is somewhat marred by the presence in church of the unbidden curiosity seekers, who have come for much the same reason as that which prompts them to go to the theatre to enjoy the spectacle. But Bessie's face showed nothing but that intense amiability for which she had all her life long been noted; and as for Thaddeus, he never ceased to smile from the moment he turned and faced the congregation until the carriage door closed upon him and his bride, and then, of course, he had to, his lips being otherwise engaged. Indeed, Thaddeus's amiability was his greatest vice. He had never been known to be ill natured in his life but once, and that was during the week that Bessie had kept him in suspense while she was making up her mind not to say "No" to an important proposition he had made a proposition, by the way, which resulted in this very ceremony, and was largely responsible for the trials and tribulations which followed.

Thaddeus was rich that is, he had an income and a vocation; a charming little home was awaiting their coming, off in a convenient suburb; and, best of all, Bessie was an accomplished house keeper, having studied under the best mistresses of that art to be found in the country. And even if she had not completely mastered the art of keeping house, Thaddeus was confident that all would go well with them, for their waitress was a jewel, inherited from Bessie's mother, and the cook, though somewhat advanced in years, was beyond cavil, having been known to the family of Thaddeus for a longer period than Thaddeus himself had been. The only uncertain quantity in the household was Norah, the up stairs girl, who was not only new, but auburn haired and of Celtic extraction.

Under such circumstances did the young couple start in life, and many there were who looked upon them with envy. At first, of course, the household did not run as smoothly as it might have done meals were late, and served with less ceremony than either liked; but, as Bessie said, as she and Thaddeus were finishing their breakfast one morning, "What could you expect?"

To which Thaddeus, with his customary smile, replied "What, indeed! We get along much better than I really thought we should with old Ellen."

Old Ellen was the cook, and she had been known to Thaddeus as "Old Ellen" even before his lips were able to utter the words... Continue reading book >>




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