- PART SECOND.
- CHAPTER XXIX. A HAPPY POLYGAMOUS HOUSEHOLD.
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A HAPPY POLYGAMOUS HOUSEHOLD.
AUNT LUCY was cross that evening, so Elsie asked permission to visit her friend Kleena. In spite of the great difference in the character of the girls, they sought each other's company,--Elsie, because she could talk of Smithville; Kleena, perhaps, for the same reason. But this evening Elsie was prompted by another motive. She wanted to see some happy people. Kleena's sister and cousin, married to Brother Cowles, presented a model polygamous household. The two women lived together, went everywhere together, dressed alike, talked of "our husband," and made plans for having Kleena as No. 3, without a tinge of jealousy. Moreover, in this household the right of priority was never discussed. Emma and Minna became brides on the same day, and at the same hour.
The Mormon high-priest tried to introduce these bigamous weddings, in order to do away with the absolute priority assumed by some first wives.
In this case, the plan worked well. No jealousy, no discord had as yet disturbed this Mormon household.
When Elsie felt more than ordinarily bitter against polygamy, she liked to visit this family, and contemplate their happiness--happiness of a very negative kind, but Elsie knew nothing about negative and positive conditions. Absence of discord and misery was to her happiness, the only happiness of which she could form an idea.| | 271
But this evening Elsie found Kleena in a very cross mood trying to pacify a still crosser baby. Emma tended another baby, who seemed very sick, while Minna was occupied in preparing her liege lord's toilette, to go courting!
If we collect the words floating in the atmosphere of the two rooms in which the members of the Cowles household are congregated, it will give a better idea of the happiness of this model family than any trite description.
Minna. "Dear me, how tired I am! Amos, I wish you would speak to those children, they are quarreling again."
Amos. "Sorry, my dear, but I haven't time just now. Where is my blue neck-tie? Julia likes blue. Why don't you women keep things in order?"
Minna. "We do try, but there's the children, and sickness, and washing and--here's your blue tie."
Emma. "Min, do come here."
Minna. "Yes, in a minute. Amos, can't you stay with us to-night? Em's baby is so sick."
Amos. "Stay! how inconsiderate you women are. Here, don't go off, tie this bow for me; you can do it so nicely--and don't frown, Min, it don't suit your style."
Child. "Papa, see what I got at school to-day."
Amos. "Don't bother me now."
Second Child. "Jim is saying naughty words."
Amos. Minna, you should look better after these children. You don't do your duty. There now, am I not irresistible?"
Emma. "Baby has another spasm."
Amos. " How do I look?"| | 272
Minna. "You look well enough. If you were as tired as I, you wouldn't be thinking of your looks."
Amos. "Just like women, always jealous, and tired, though they never do anything. Dear me! I am late."
Kleena. "Ain't it wicked that he won't make me his wife? I, who always expected to be the third."
Em. "Amos, do go for the doctor, baby is so ill."
Amos. "My dear, I can't; have I not an engagement?"
Minna. "Well, that can wait."
Amos. "My dear, what would you have said if I had been remiss in my engagements to you in the days when we were courting? Some of the girls can go."
Em. "Oh! dear, I am afraid baby will die."
Amos. "Nonsense; baby will be all right. Women always frighten themselves about nothing. I would stay with you, but Julia would be so disappointed. Good bye, dears."
Twirling his moustache, flourishing his cane, Brother Cowles was off to see the lady of his fancy, his mind quite untroubled by any thought of sick baby, tired wives, or children growing wild for want of a father's restraining influence.
"Dear me," cried Minna, "if Amos had fancied Kleena, instead of that airy, stuck-up Julia."
"I wish so, too; it would have made everything so nice;--but oh! somebody must go for the doctor."
"I'll go," said Kleena, who had just managed to get her baby to sleep.
"I will go with you," said Elsie.
The girls started, and all the way Kleena poured her griefs into Elsie's ear--what a pretentious creature Julia was, how she had visited the wives of her lover, | | 273 boasting to them that Amos had never loved any one but her.
Confidence invites confidence, and Elsie, who had love griefs also, told Kleena all about Stanly, and the intended marriage and escape. After the communication was made, Elsie felt sorry; but it was then beyond her power to recall it.
"Kleena, don't tell any one; it might bring trouble upon us--I mean upon me and somebody."
"Don't bother yourself; and may you be more fortunate than I. But there, you will be lucky, because you don't act from principle. I'm that mad that I'll marry the very first one that will give me a chance. It is perfectly awful, this marrying out of the family; but you never can depend upon men, and Julia tried awful to catch him. She's got the sweetest dress and bonnet, and I do believe that's what's done it. But here we are at the doctor's."
The girls did not have a chance for any more confidences that night, and Elsie went home without reentering the Cowles house.
Kleena's wrath at not being number three did not amuse Elsie; it saddened her.
"Why am I not like Kleena? Is it that I belong to the unregenerate? All these women seem resigned; why should I feel for them?"
Why indeed! These were problems beyond Elsie's power to solve for years yet to come.
As Elsie approached the Temple Block, the silvery moonlight disclosed to her two figures walking along very lover-like. They were Amos Cowles and Julia, number three elect. The latter seemed radiant. Brother Cowles was an adept in the art of matrimonial | | 274 fishing. Indeed, a man who could capture and harmoniously lead to Hymen's altar two young ladies at once, must be well skilled in the science.
As Elsie looked at the twain, there swept over her a wave from the ocean of inspiration. She longed to hold up to the world's contempt the heartless father, the merciless husband, the creatures of a creed whose sanctity consists in trampling under foot all that makes a man noble. Scathing words burned her lips; but at whom could she hurl them? To the trees, waving so far above the earth and its woes? To the wall, hard as the heart of the people? It was useless. The sense of her impotency overwhelmed her; and the sea of bitterness, repelled from her lips, flowed out from her eyes.
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