7:17 pm - Saturday May 26, 2018

The Wives of Dead-by Nathaniel Hawthrone-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:The Wives Of Dead

Written by: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Category:Short Novel, Shrot stories

 

Page 1:

The following story, the simple and domestic incidents of which may be
deemed scarcely worth relating, after such a lapse of time, awakened some
degree of interest, a hundred years ago, in a principal seaport of the
Bay Province. The rainy twilight of an autumn day,–a parlor on the
second floor of a small house, plainly furnished, as beseemed the
middling circumstances of its inhabitants, yet decorated with little
curiosities from beyond the sea, and a few delicate specimens of Indian
manufacture,–these are the only particulars to be premised in regard to
scene and season. Two young and comely women sat together by the
fireside, nursing their mutual and peculiar sorrows. They were the
recent brides of two brothers, a sailor and a landsman, and two
successive days had brought tidings of the death of each, by the chances
of Canadian warfare and the tempestuous Atlantic. The universal sympathy
excited by this bereavement drew numerous condoling guests to the
habitation of the widowed sisters. Several, among whom was the minister,
had remained till the verge of evening; when, one by one, whispering many
comfortable passages of Scripture, that were answered by more abundant
tears, they took their leave, and departed to their own happier homes.
The mourners, though not insensible to the kindness of their friends, had
yearned to be left alone. United, as they had been, by the relationship
of the living, and now more closely so by that of the dead, each felt as
if whatever consolation her grief admitted were to be found in the bosom
of the other. They joined their hearts, and wept together silently. But
after an hour of such indulgence, one of the sisters, all of whose
emotions were influenced by her mild, quiet, yet not feeble character,
began to recollect the precepts of resignation and endurance which piety
had taught her, when she did not think to need them. Her misfortune,
besides, as earliest known, should earliest cease to interfere with her
regular course of duties; accordingly, having placed the table before the
fire, and arranged a frugal meal, she took the hand of her companion.

“Come, dearest sister; you have eaten not a morsel to-day,” she said.
“Arise, I pray you, and let us ask a blessing on that which is provided
for us.”

Her sister-in-law was of a lively and irritable temperament, and the
first pangs of her sorrow had been expressed by shrieks and passionate
lamentation. She now shrunk from Mary’s words, like a wounded sufferer
from a hand that revives the throb.

“There is no blessing left for me, neither will I ask it!” cried
Margaret, with a fresh burst of tears. “Would it were His will that I
might never taste food more!”

Yet she trembled at these rebellious expressions, almost as soon as they
were uttered, and, by degrees, Mary succeeded in bringing her sister’s
mind nearer to the situation of her own. Time went on, and their usual
hour of repose arrived. The brothers and their brides, entering the
married state with no more than the slender means which then sanctioned
such a step, had confederated themselves in one household, with equal
rights to the parlor, and claiming exclusive privileges in two sleeping-
rooms contiguous to it. Thither the widowed ones retired, after heaping
ashes upon the dying embers of their fire, and placing a lighted lamp
upon the hearth. The doors of both chambers were left open, so that a
part of the interior of each, and the beds with their unclosed curtains,
were reciprocally visible. Sleep did not steal upon the sisters at one
and the same time. Mary experienced the effect often consequent upon
grief quietly borne, and soon sunk into temporary forgetfulness, while
Margaret became more disturbed and feverish, in proportion as the night
advanced with its deepest and stillest hours. She lay listening to the
drops of rain, that came down in monotonous succession, unswayed by a
breath of wind; and a nervous impulse continually caused her to lift her
head from the pillow, and gaze into Mary’s chamber and the intermediate
apartment. The cold light of the lamp threw the shadows of the furniture
up against the wall, stamping them immovably there, except when they were
shaken by a sudden flicker of the flame. Two vacant arm-chairs were in
their old positions on opposite sides of the hearth, where the brothers
had been wont to sit in young and laughing dignity, as heads of families;
two humbler seats were near them, the true thrones of that little empire,
where Mary and herself had exercised in love a power that love had won.
The cheerful radiance of the fire had shone upon the happy circle, and
the dead glimmer of the lamp might have befitted their reunion now.
While Margaret groaned in bitterness, she heard a knock at the street
door.

“How would my heart have leapt at that sound but yesterday!” thought she,
remembering the anxiety with which she had long awaited tidings from her
husband.

“I care not for it now; let them begone, for I will not arise.”

But even while a sort of childish fretfulness made her thus resolve, she
was breathing hurriedly, and straining her ears to catch a repetition of
the summons. It is difficult to be convinced of the death of one whom we
have deemed another self. The knocking was now renewed in slow and
regular strokes, apparently given with the soft end of a doubled fist,
and was accompanied by words, faintly heard through several thicknesses
of wall. Margaret looked to her sister’s chamber, and beheld her still
lying in the depths of sleep. She arose, placed her foot upon the floor,
and slightly arrayed herself, trembling between fear and eagerness as she
did so.

“Heaven help me!” sighed she. “I have nothing left to fear, and methinks
I am ten times more a coward than ever.”

Seizing the lamp from the hearth, she hastened to the window that
overlooked the street-door. It was a lattice, turning upon hinges; and
having thrown it back, she stretched her head a little way into the moist
atmosphere. A lantern was reddening the front of the house, and melting
its light in the neighboring puddles, while a deluge of darkness
overwhelmed every other object. As the window grated on its hinges, a
man in a broad-brimmed hat and blanket-coat stepped from under the
shelter of the projecting story, and looked upward to discover whom his
application had aroused. Margaret knew him as a friendly innkeeper of
the town.

Filed in: Short Novel, Short Stories

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