FC: Mrs. Bullfrog by Nathaniel Hawthorne
1: It makes me melancholy to see how like fools some very sensible people act in the matter of choosing wives. They perplex their judgments by a most undue attention to little niceties of personal appearance, habits, disposition, and other trifles which concern nobody but the lady herself.
2: The true rule is to ascertain that the match is fundamentally a good one. For my own part I freely confess that, in my bachelorship, I was precisely such an over-curious simpleton as I now advise the reader not to be. My early habits had gifted me with a feminine sensibility and too exquisite refinement. I grew up a very ladylike sort of a gentleman. It is not assuming too much to affirm that the ladies themselves were hardly so ladylike as Thomas Bullfrog.
3: So painfully acute was my sense of female imperfection, and such varied excellence did I require in the woman whom I could love, that there was an awful risk of my getting no wife at all. I demanded the fresh bloom of youth, pearly teeth, glossy ringlets, and the whole list of lovely items, with the utmost delicacy of habits and sentiments, a silken texture of mind, and, above all, a virgin heart. In a word, if a young angel just from paradise.
4: There was every chance of my becoming a most miserable old bachelor, when, by the best luck in the world, I made a journey into another state, and was smitten by, and smote again, and wooed, won, and married, the present Mrs. Bullfrog The same morning that Mrs. Bullfrog and I came together as a unit, we took two seats in the stage-coach and began our journey towards my place of business. | There was every chance of my becoming a mostmiserable old bachelor, when, by the best luck in the world, I made a journey into another state, and was smitten by, and smote again, and wooed, won, and married, the present Mrs. Bullfrog
5: "My love," said Mrs. Bullfrog tenderly, "you will disarrange my curls." "Oh, no, my sweet Laura!" replied I, still playing with the glossy ringlet. "Even your fair hand could not manage a curl more delicately than mine. I propose myself the pleasure of doing up your hair in papers every evening at the same time with my own." "Mr. Bullfrog," repeated she, "you must not disarrange my curls."
6: Now, I am a fidgety little man, and always love to have something in my fingers; so that, being debarred from my wife's curls, I looked about me for any other plaything. On the front seat of the coach there was one of those small baskets in which traveling ladies carry a supply of light refreshments. I thrust my hand under the newspaper with which it was carefully covered. "What's this, my dear?" cried I; for the black neck of a bottle had popped out of the basket. "A bottle of Kalydor, Mr. Bullfrog," said my wife, coolly taking the basket from my hands and replacing it on the front seat.
7: Our driver had carelessly driven over a heap of gravel and capsized the coach. And in the confusion, I quite forgot that there was a Mrs. Bullfrog in the world.
8: I had scrambled out of the coach and was settling myself, when somebody brushed roughly by me. "Take that, you villain!" cried a strange, hoarse voice. "You have ruined me. I shall never be the woman I have been!" And then came a second punch, aimed at the driver's other ear; but missed and hit him on the nose. Now, who or what fearful person was punishong the poor fellow remained an impenetrable mystery to me.
9: The blows were given by a horrible looking person with a head almost bald, and sunken cheeks, apparently of the feminine gender The most awful circumstance of the affair is yet to be told: for this ogre, or whatever it was, had a riding habit like Mrs. Bullfrog's, and also a green silk calash dangling down her back by the strings.
10: "Come, sir, bestir yourself! Help this rascal to set up the coach," said the hobgoblin to me; then, with a terrific screech at three countrymen at a distance, "Here, you fellows, ain't you ashamed to stand off when a poor woman is in distress?"
11: "Why, here we are, all to rights again!" exclaimed a sweet voice behind. "Thank you for your assistance, gentlemen. My dear Mr. Bullfrog, don't take this little accident too much to heart, good driver. We ought to be thankful that none of our necks are broken." "We might have spared one neck out of the three," muttered the driver, rubbing his ear and pulling his nose, to ascertain whether he had been cuffed or not. "Why, the woman's a witch!" I fear that the reader will not believe, yet it is positively a fact, that there stood Mrs. Bullfrog, with her glossy ringlets curling on her brow, and two rows of orient pearls gleaming between her parted lips, which wore a most angelic smile.There stood my wife.
12: I confess that my feelings were not altogether so ecstatic as when I first called Mrs. Bullfrog mine. True, she was a sweet woman and an angel of a wife; but what if that monster should return? I recollected the tale of a fairy, who half the time was a beautiful woman and half the time a hideous monster. Had I taken that very fairy to be the wife of my dreams?
13: .To divert my mind, I took up the newspaper which had covered the little basket of refreshments.The paper was two or three years old, but contained an article of several columns, in which I soon grew wonderfully interested.. It was the report of a trial for breach of promise of marriage. A horrible idea was suggested by the lady's name. "Madam," said I, holding the newspaper before Mrs. Bullfrog's eyes, "madam," repeated I, through my shut teeth, "were you the plaintiff in this cause?" "Oh, my dear Mr. Bullfrog," replied my wife, sweetly, "I thought all the world knew that!" "Horror! horror!" exclaimed I, sinking back on the seat.
14: Covering my face with both hands, I emitted a deep groan. I thought of the glossy ringlets and pearly teeth; I thought of the Kalydor; I thought of the coachman's bruised ear and bloody nose--and gave another groan! "Mr. Bullfrog," said my wife. As I made no reply, she gently took my hands within her own, removed them from my face, and fixed her eyes steadfastly on mine. "Mr. Bullfrog," said she, not unkindly, yet with all the decision of her strong character, "let me advise you to overcome this foolish weakness, and prove yourself, to the best of your ability, as good a husband as I will be a wife. You have discovered, perhaps, some little imperfections in your bride. Well, what did you expect? Women are not angels. If they were, they would go to heaven for husbands; or, at least, be more difficult in their choice on earth." "Should a woman to disclose her faults earlier than the wedding day? Few husbands, I assure you, make the discovery in such good season, and still fewer complain that these trifles are concealed too long.
15: "But the suit for breach of promise!" groaned I. . "Ah, and is that the rub?" exclaimed my wife. "Is it possible that you view this an objectionable light? Mr. Bullfrog, "Do you complain because your wife has shown the proper spirit of a woman, and punished the villain who trifled with her affections?" "But," persisted I, "but, my love, would it not have been more dignified to treat the villain with the silent contempt he merited?"
16: "That is all very well, Mr. Bullfrog," said my wife, slyly; "but, in that case, where would have been the five thousand dollars which are to stock your dry goods store?" "Mrs. Bullfrog, upon your honor," demanded I, as if my life hung upon her words, "is there no mistake about those five thousand dollars?" "Upon my word and honor there is none," replied she. "The jury gave me every cent the rascal had; and I have kept it all for my dear Bullfrog."
17: "Then, thou dear woman," cried I, with an overwhelming gush of tenderness, "let me fold thee to my heart. The basis of matrimonial bliss is secure, and all thy little defects and frailties are forgiven. Nay, since the result has been so fortunate, I rejoice at the wrongs which drove thee to this blessed lawsuit. Happy Bullfrog that I am!"