Happy Wife Feminized Husband Stories
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THE STORY OF GRISELDA AS SILENCED INCEST NARRATIVE Louise O. Vasvári New York, New York The Griselda story of a noble's abuse of his wife in order to test her obedience has been endlessly recirculated from its first textualized version as the last and most famous tale in Boccaccio's Decameron (1 3491351 ). Petrarch, who in his letter to Boccaccio in 1372-1373 objected to the lewdness of the Decameron in general, blaming it on the low tastes of its female readership, declared that he was deeply moved by the serious subject matter and moral significance of this tarn dulcís ystoria (Seniles XVII, 3; Aldo Bernardo 2: 655). He became the first of many rewriters to take possession of Griselda and silence die violence and indeterminate moral of the story, by ripping it from its frame in the Decameron, amplifying and translating it into Latin for a male readership, turning Griselda into a Job figure, and in this new garb bestowing it on Boccaccio. The subsequent history oí Griselda is one of continued translation, where Petrarch's rewriting began the process of homosocial exchange among male writers and male readers of the translatio of die text-heroine as feminized object (Carolyn Dinshaw 132; Mihoko Suzuki; Emma Campbell). Griselda's suffering came to be interpreted variously, as symbolizing not onlyJob's suffering, but, alternately, as Christ's or Mary's passion, or the Christian soul who suffers out of loyalty to Jesus Christ, "her" eternal spouse. Even today allegorical interpretation continues to be promoted among some contemporary critics, who insist that since die story is an exemplum, its value is political, moral, philosophical, and religious (the reading of Dora Faraci is a case in point). The difficulty with allegory is that while masquerading as an idealist literary manifestation, it is, in reality, a form ofviolent textual colonization, a necessary "fig leaf" serving to direct attention precisely away and upward, removing a text altogether from a taboo realm. No matter La corónica 35.2 (Spring, 2007): 139-56 140Louise O. VasváriLa corónica 35.2, 2007 how many fanciful interpretations are imposed the text remains an embarrassing constant (Gordon Teskey 297). Some rewTiters have tried to cope with the literal level by utilizing Griselda as a didactic exemplum ofwifely patience and humility. For example, Philippe de Mézières in his 1384 Le Miroir des Dames Mariées, a translation of Boccaccio's Griselda story, treated the story simultaneously as an allegory and as a conduct book for married women (Françoise Gazai 1 : 141-76; Kevin Brownlee). Ofparticular interest in attempting to reconcile the incompatibility of the literary level with the allegorical is the anonymous Le mesnagier de Paris, written about 1394 by an unnamed author who apparently had a fifteen-year-old wife when he was fifty, perhaps much older (Georgina E. Brererton andJanet M. Ferrier). In his book, intended for his wife's education, he deals with everything from spiritual teaching, to stories of Griselda and other exemplary wives, to practical details of how to manage a household. The history and reception of the Griselda story has been one of rationalizing explanations of this sort with, at best, passing condemnation of Walter's cruel behavior, which Dioneo, the embedded narrator ofthe Decameron version, was the first to condemn as matta bestialità, 'wild brutality''. Here I will not deal with the scholarship on latent allegorical interpretations ofGriselda, nor will I enter into another favorite topic, the endless and irresolvable conjectures about the mythic or historical origins ofthe tale. Nor will I be retracing the history ofthe Griselda story, from medieval sources through the present, whose European diffusion has been well documented.1 Rather, I will focus on the violence in the much-neglected literal level ofthe story, suggesting that it deals not with an isolated case of senseless cruelty but represents, rather, a classic case of sexual abuse of the sort that is inevitable in patriarchal social structure. According to feminist theory, power and domination are reflected in gender relations and sexual practices. Sexual violence is defined as the primary social sphere of male power through which men express power over and the desire to...
As a class, we would read the play and listen to the music. As they become more involved in the story, the students would be able to appreciate the work of the adapter in pulling together at least these three short stories into one cohesive whole. The character of Tevye has been expanded, strengthened, made more appealing. Golde has turned from a shrew or a nag into a more sympathetic albeit nagging wife.
James Peake and his wife, and Enoch Lovatt, his wife's half-sister'shusband, and Randolph Sneyd, the architect, were just finishing theusual Saturday night game of solo whist in the drawing-room of Peake'slarge new residence at Hillport, that unique suburb of Bursley. EllaPeake, twenty-year-old daughter of the house, sat reading in anarm-chair by the fire which blazed in the patent radiating grate. Peakehimself was banker, and he paid out silver and coppers at the rate ofsixpence a dozen for the brass counters handed to him by his wife andRandolph Sneyd."I've made summat on you to-night, Lovatt," said Peake, with his broadeasy laugh, as he reckoned up Lovatt's counters. Enoch Lovatt'sprinciples and the prominence of his position at the Bursley WesleyanChapel, though they did not prevent him from playing cards at hissister-in-law's house, absolutely forbade that he should play for money,and so it was always understood that the banker of the party should behis financier, supplying him with counters and taking the chances ofgain or loss. By this kindly and ingenious arrangement Enoch Lovatt wasenabled to live at peace with his conscience while gratifying thatinstinct for worldliness which the weekly visit to Peake's alwaysaroused from its seven-day slumber into a brief activity."Six shillings on my own; five and fourpence on you," said Peake."Lovatt, we've had a good night; no mistake." He laughed again, tookout his knife, and cut a fresh cigar."You don't think of your poor wife," said Mrs Peake, "who's lost overthree shillings," and she nudged Randolph Sneyd."Here, Nan," Peake answered quickly. "You shall have the lot." Hedropped the eleven and fourpence into the kitty-shell, and pushed itacross the table to her."Thank you, James," said Mrs Peake. "Ella, your father's given me elevenand fourpence.""Oh, father!" The long girl by the fire jumped up, suddenly alert. "Dogive me half-a-crown. You've no conception how hard up I am.""You're a grasping little vixen, that's what you are. Come and give me alight." He gazed affectionately at her smiling flushed face and tangledhair.When she had lighted his cigar, Ella furtively introduced her thinfingers into his waistcoat-pocket, where he usually kept a reserve ofmoney against a possible failure of his trouser-pockets."May I?" she questioned, drawing out a coin. It was a four-shillingpiece."No. Get away.""I'll give you change.""Oh! take it," he yielded, "and begone with ye, and ring for somethingto drink.""You are a duck, pa!" she said, kissing him. The other two men smiled."Let's have a tune now, Ella," said Peake, after she had rung the bell.The girl dutifully sat down to the piano and sang "The Children's Home."It was a song which always touched her father's heart.Peake was in one of those moods at once gay and serene which arepossible only to successful middle-aged men who have consistently workedhard without permitting the faculty for pleasure to deteriorate throughdisuse. He was devoted to his colliery, and his commercial acutenesswas scarcely surpassed in the Five Towns, but he had always found timeto amuse himself; and at fifty-two, with a clear eye and a perfectdigestion, his appreciation of good food, good wine, a good cigar, afine horse, and a pretty woman was unimpaired. On this night hishappiness was special; he had returned in the afternoon from a week'svisit to London, and he was glad to get back again. He loved his wifeand adored his daughter, in his own way, and he enjoyed the feminizeddomestic atmosphere of his fine new house with exactly the same zest as,on another evening, he might have enjoyed the blue haze of thebilliard-room at the Conservative Club. The interior of the drawing-roomrealized very well Peake's ideals. It was large, with two magnificentwindows, practicably comfortable, and unpretentious. Peake despised, orrather he ignored, the aesthetic crazes which had run throughfashionable Hillport like an infectious fever, ruthlessly decimating itsturned and twisted mahogany and its floriferous carpets and wall-papers.That the soft thick pile under his feet would wear for twenty years, andthat the Welsbach incandescent mantles on the chandelier saved thirtyper cent, in gas-bills while increasing the light by fifty per cent.: itwas these and similar facts which were uppermost in his mind as he gazedround that room, in which every object spoke of solid, unassuming luxuryand represented the best value to be obtained for money spent. Hedesired, of a Saturday night, nothing better than such a room, a coupleof packs of cards, and the presence of wife and child and his twolife-long friends, Sneyd and Lovatt--safe men both. After cards wereover--and on Lovatt's account play ceased at ten o'clock--they woulddiscuss Bursley and Bursley folk with a shrewd sagacity and an intimateand complete knowledge of circumstance not to be found in combinationanywhere outside a small industrial town. To listen to Sneyd and MrsPeake, when each sought to distance the other in tracing a genealogy,was to learn the history of a whole community and the secret springs ofthe actions which constituted its evolution."Haven't you any news for me?" asked Peake, during a pause in the talk.At the same moment the door opened and Mrs Lovatt entered. "Eh, AuntieLovatt," he went on, greeting her, "we'd given ye up." Mrs Lovattusually visited the Peakes on Saturday evenings, but she came later thanher husband."Eh, but I was bound to come and see you to-night, Uncle Peake, afteryour visit to the great city. Well, you're looking bonny." She shookhands with him warmly, her face beaming goodwill, and then she kissedher half-sister and Ella, and told Sneyd that she had seen him thatmorning in the market-place.Mrs Peake and Mrs Lovatt differed remarkably in character andappearance, though this did not prevent them from being passionatelyattached to one another. Mrs Lovatt was small, and rather plain; contentto be her husband's wife, she had no activities beyond her own home. MrsPeake was tall, and strikingly handsome in spite of her fifty years,with a brilliant complexion and hair still raven black; her energy wasexhaustless, and her spirit indomitable; she was the moving force of theWesleyan Sunday School, and there was not a man in England who couldhave driven her against her will. She had a fortune of her own. EnochLovatt treated her with the respect due to an equal who had more thanonce proved herself capable of insisting on independence and equalrights in the most pugnacious manner."Well, auntie," said Peake, "I've won eleven and fourpence to-night, andmy wife's collared it all from me." He laughed with glee."Eh, you should be ashamed!" said Mrs Lovatt, embracing the company in aglance of reproof which rested last on Enoch Lovatt. She was aMethodist of the strictest, and her husband happened to be chapelsteward. "If I had my way with those cards I'd soon play with them; I'dplay with them at the back of the fire. Now you were asking for newswhen I came in, Uncle Peake. Have they told you about the new organ?We're quite full of it at our house.""No," said Peake, "they haven't.""What!" she cried reproachfully. "You haven't told him, Enoch--nor you,Nan?""Upon my word it never entered my head," said Mrs Peake."Well, Uncle Peake," Mrs Lovatt began, "we're going to have a new organfor the Conference.""Not before it's wanted," said Peake. "I do like a bit of good music atservice, and Best himself couldn't make anything of that old wheezerwe've got now.""Is that the reason we see you so seldom at chapel?" Mrs Lovatt askedtartly."I was there last Sunday morning.""And before that, Uncle Peake?" She smiled sweetly on him.Peake was one of the worldlings who, in a religious sense, existedprecariously on the fringe of the Methodist Society. He rented a pew,and he was never remiss in despatching his wife and daughter to occupyit. He imagined that his belief in the faith of his fathers wasunshaken, but any reference to souls and salvation made him exceedinglyrestless and uncomfortable. He could not conceive himself crowned andharping in Paradise, and yet he vaguely surmised that in the last resulthe would arrive at that place and state, wafted thither by the prayersof his womenkind. Logical in all else, he was utterly illogical in hisattitude towards the spiritual--an attitude which amounted to this: "Leta sleeping dog lie, but the animal isn't asleep and means mischief."He smiled meditatively at Mrs Lovatt's question, and turned it asidewith another."What about this organ?""It's going to cost nine hundred pounds," continued Mrs Lovatt, "andTitus Blackhurst has arranged it all. It was built for a hall inBirmingham, but the manufacturers have somehow got it on their hands.Young Titus the organist has been over to see it, and he says it's abargain. The affair was all arranged as quick as you please at theTrustees' meeting last Monday. Titus Blackhurst said he would give ahundred pounds if eight others would do the same within a fortnight--itmust be settled at once. As Enoch said to me afterwards, it seemed, assoon as Mr Blackhurst had made his speech, that we must have thatorgan. We really couldn't forshame to show up with the old one again atthis Conference--don't you remember the funny speech the Presidentmade about it at the last Conference, eleven years ago? Of course he wasvery polite and nice with his sarcasm, but I'm sure he meant us to takethe hint. Now, would you believe, seven out of those eight subscriptionswere promised by Wednesday morning! I think that was just splendid!""Well, well!" exclaimed Peake, genuinely amazed at this proof ofreligious vitality. "Who are the subscribers?""I'm one," said Enoch Lovatt, quietly, but with unconcealed pride."And I'm another," said Mrs Lovatt. "Bless you, I should have beenashamed of myself if I hadn't responded to such an appeal. You may saywhat you like about Titus Blackhurst--I know there's a good many thatdon't like him--but he's a real good sort. I'm sure he's the best SundaySchool superintendent we ever had. Then there's Mr Clayton-Vernon, andAlderman Sutton, and young Henry Mynors and--""And Eardley Brothers--they're giving a hundred apiece," put in Lovatt,glancing at Randolph Sneyd."I wish they'd pay their debts first," said Peake, with suddensavageness."They're all right, I suppose?" said Sneyd, interested, and leaning overtowards Peake."Oh, they're all right," Peake said testily. "At least, I hope so,"and he gave a short, grim laugh. "But they're uncommon slow payers. Isent 'em in an account for coal only last week--three hundred and fiftypound. Well, auntie, who's the ninth subscriber?""Ah, that's the point," said Enoch Lovatt. "The ninth isn'tforthcoming."Mrs Lovatt looked straight at her sister's husband. "We want you to bethe ninth," she said."Me!" He laughed heartily, perceiving a broad humour in the suggestion."Oh, but I mean it," Mrs Lovatt insisted earnestly. "Your name wasmentioned at the trustees' meeting, wasn't it, Enoch?""Yes," said Lovatt, "it was.""And dost mean to say as they thought as I 'ud give 'em a hundred poundtowards th' new organ?" said Peake, dropping into dialect."Why not?" returned Mrs Lovatt, her spirit roused. "I shall. Enoch will.Why not you?""Oh, you're different. You're in it.""You can't deny that you're one of the richest pew-holders in thechapel. What's a hundred pound to you? Nothing, is it, Mr Sneyd? When MrCopinger, our superintendent minister, mentioned it to me yesterday, Itold him I was sure you would consent.""You did?""I did," she said boldly."Well, I shanna'."Like many warm-hearted, impulsive and generous men, James Peake did notcare that his generosity should be too positively assumed. To take itfor granted was the surest way of extinguishing it. The pity was thatMrs Lovatt, in the haste of her zeal for the amelioration of divineworship at Bursley Chapel, had overlooked this fact. Peake's manner wasfinal. His wife threw a swift glance at Ella, who stood behind herfather's chair, and received a message back that she too had discernedfinality in the tone.Sneyd got up, and walking slowly to the fireplace emitted the casualremark: "Yes, you will, Peake."He was a man of considerable education, and though in neither force norastuteness was he the equal of James Peake, it often pleased him toadopt towards his friend a philosophic pose--the pose of a seer, of onefar removed from the trivial disputes in which the colliery-owner wasfrequently concerned."Yes, you will, Peake," he repeated."I shanna', Sneyd.""I can read you like a book, Peake." This was a favourite phrase ofSneyd's, which Peake never heard without a faint secret annoyance. "Atthe bottom of your mind you mean to give that hundred. It's your duty todo so, and you will. You'll let them persuade you.""I'll bet thee a shilling I don't.""Done!""Ssh!" murmured Mrs Lovatt, "I'm ashamed of both of you, betting on sucha subject--or on any subject," she added. "And Ella here too!""It's a bet, Sneyd," said Peake, doggedly, and then turned to Lovatt."What do you say about this, Enoch?"But Enoch Lovatt, self-trained to find safety in the middle, kept thatneutral and diplomatic silence which invariably marked his demeanour inthe presence of an argument."Now, Nan, you'll talk to James," said Mrs Lovatt, when they all stoodat the front-door bidding good-night."Nay, I've nothing to do with it," Mrs Peake replied, as quickly as atdinner she might have set down a very hot plate. In some women profoundaffection exists side by side with a nervous dread lest that affectionshould seem to possess the least influence over its object.IIPeake dismissed from his mind as grotesque the suggestion that he shouldcontribute a hundred pounds to the organ fund; it revolted his sense ofthe fitness of things; the next morning he had entirely forgotten it.But two days afterwards, when he was finishing his midday dinner with apiece of Cheshire cheese, his wife said:"James, have you thought anything more about that organ affair?" Shegave a timid little laugh.He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment, holding a morsel of cheeseon the end of his knife; then he ate the cheese in silence."Nan," he said at length, rather deliberately, "have they been trying tocome round you? Because it won't work. Upon my soul I don't know whatsome people are dreaming of. I tell you I never was more surprised i' mylife than when your sister made that suggestion. I'll give 'em a guineatowards their blooming organ if that's any use to 'em. Ella, go and seeif the horse is ready.""Yes, father."He felt genuinely aggrieved."If they'd get a new organist," he remarked, with ferocious satire, fiveminutes later, as he lit a cigar, "and a new choir--I could see summatin that."In another minute he was driving at a fine pace towards his colliery atToft End. The horse, with swift instinct, had understood that to-day itsmaster was not in the mood for badinage.Half-way down the hill into Shawport he overtook a lady walking veryslowly."Mrs Sutton!" he shouted in astonishment, and when he had finished withthe tense frown which involuntarily accompanied the effort of stoppingthe horse dead within its own length, his face softened into a beautifulsmile. "How's this?" he questioned."Our mare's gone lame," Mrs Sutton answered, "and as I'm bound to getabout I'm bound to walk."He descended instantly from the dogcart. "Climb up," he said, "and tellme where you want to go to.""Nay, nay.""Climb up," he repeated, and he helped her into the dogcart."Well," she said, laughing, "what must be, must. I was trudging home,and I hope it isn't out of your way.""It isn't," he said; "I'm for Toft End, and I should have driven upTrafalgar Road anyhow."Mrs Sutton was one of James Peake's ideals. He worshipped this smallfrail woman of fifty-five, whose soft eyes were the mirror of as candida soul as was ever prisoned in Staffordshire clay. More than forty yearsago he had gone to school with her, and the remembrance of having kissedthe pale girl when she was crying over a broken slate was still vivid inhis mind. For nearly half a century she had remained to him exactly thatsame ethereal girl. The sole thing about her that puzzled him was thatshe should have found anything attractive in the man whom she allowed tomarry her--Alderman Sutton. In all else he regarded her as an angel.And to many another, besides James Peake, it seemed that Sarah Suttonwore robes of light. She was a creature born to be the succour ofmisery, the balm of distress. She would have soothed the two thieves onCalvary. Led on by the bounteous instinct of a divine, all-embracingsympathy, the intrepid spirit within her continually forced its fragilephysical mechanism into an activity which appeared almost supernatural.According to every rule of medicine she should have been dead longsince; but she lived--by volition. It was to the credit of Bursley thatthe whole town recognized in Sarah Sutton the treasure it held."I wanted to see you," Mrs Sutton said, after they had exchanged variousinquiries."What about?""Mrs Lovatt was telling me yesterday you hadn't made up your mind aboutthat organ subscription." They were ascending the steepest part ofOldcastle Street, and Peake lowered the reins and let the horse into awalk."Now look here, Mrs Sutton," he began, with passionate frankness, "I cantalk to you. You know me; you know I'm not one of their set, as it were.Of course I've got a pew and all that; but you know as well as I do thatI don't belong to the chapel lot. Why should they ask me? Why shouldthey come to me? Why should I give all that sum?""Why?" she repeated the word, smiling. "You're a generous man; you'vefelt the pleasure of giving. I always think of you as one of the mostgenerous men in the town. I'm sure you've often realized what a reallysplendid thing it is to be able to give. D'you know, it comes over mesometimes like a perfect shock that if I couldn't give--something,do--something, I shouldn't be able to live; I would be obliged to go tobed and die right off.""Ah!" he murmured, and then paused. "We aren't all like you, MrsSutton. I wish to God we were. But seriously, I'm not for giving thathundred; it's against my grain, and that's flat--you'll excuse mespeaking plain.""I like it," she said quickly. "Then I know where I am.""No," he reiterated firmly, "I'm not for giving that hundred.""Then I'm bound to say I'm sorry," she returned kindly. "The wholescheme will be ruined, for it's one of those schemes that can only becarried out in a particular way--if they aren't done on the inspirationof the moment they're not done at all. Not that I care so much for theorgan itself. It's the idea that was so grand. Fancy--nine hundredpounds all in a minute; such a thing was never known in Bursley Chapelbefore!""Well," said Peake, "I guess when it comes to the pinch they'll findsomeone else instead of me.""They won't; there isn't another man who could afford it and trade sobad."Peake was silent; but he was inflexible. Not even Mrs Sutton could makethe suggestion of this subscription seem other than grossly unfair tohim, an imposition on his good-nature."Think it over," she said abruptly, after he had assisted her to alightat the top of Trafalgar Road. "Think it over, to oblige me.""I'd do anything to oblige you," he replied. "But I'll tell youthis"--he put his mouth to her ear and whispered, half-smiling at theconfession. "You call me a generous man, but whenever that organ'smentioned I feel just like a miser--yes, as hard as a miser. Good-bye!I'm very glad to have had the pleasure of driving you up." He beamed onher as the horse shot forward.IIIThis was on Tuesday. During the next few days Peake went through a noveland very disturbing experience. He gradually became conscious of thepower of that mysterious and all-but-irresistible moral force which iscalled public opinion. His own public of friends and acquaintancesconnected with the chapel seemed to be, for some inexplicable reason,against him on the question of the organ subscription. They visited him,even to the Rev. Mr Copinger (whom he heartily admired as having"nothing of the parson" about him), and argued quietly, rather severely,and then left him with the assurance that they relied on his sense ofwhat was proper. He was amazed and secretly indignant at this combinedattack. He thought it cowardly, unscrupulous; it resembled brigandage.He felt most acutely that no one had any right to demand from him thathundred pounds, and that they who did so transgressed one of thoseunwritten laws which govern social intercourse. Yet these transgressorswere his friends, people who had earned his respect in years long pastand kept it through all the intricate situations arising out of dailycontact. They could defy him to withdraw his respect now; and, withoutknowing it, they did. He was left brooding, pained, bewildered. Theexplanation was simply this: he had failed to perceive that thegrandiose idea of the ninefold organ fund had seized, fired, andobsessed the imaginations of the Wesleyan community, and that under theunwonted poetic stimulus they were capable of acting quite differentlyfrom their ordinary selves.Peake was perplexed, he felt that he was weakening; but, being a man ofresourceful obstinacy, he was by no means defeated. On Friday morning hetold his wife that he should go to see a customer at Blackpool about acontract, and probably remain at the seaside for the week-end.Accustomed to these sudden movements, she packed his bag withoutquestioning, and he set off for Knype station in the dogcart. Oncebehind the horse he felt safe, he could breathe again. The customer atBlackpool was merely an excuse to enable him to escape from the circleof undue influence. Ardently desiring to be in the train and on theother side of Crewe, he pulled up at his little order-office in themarket-place to give some instructions. As he did so his clerk, Vodrey,came rushing out and saw him."I have just telephoned to your house, sir," the clerk said excitedly."They told me you were driving to Knype and so I was coming after you ina cab.""Why, what's up now?""Eardley Brothers have called their creditors together.""What?""I've just had a circular-letter from them, sir."Peake stared at Vodrey, and then took two steps forward, stamping hisfeet."The devil!" he exclaimed, with passionate ferocity. "The devil!"Other men of business, besides James Peake, made similar exclamationsthat morning; for the collapse of Eardley Brothers, the greatearthenware manufacturers, who were chiefly responsible for the ruinouscutting of prices in the American and Colonial markets, was no ordinarytrade fiasco. Bursley was staggered, especially when it learnt that theBank, the inaccessible and autocratic Bank, was an unsecured creditorfor twelve thousand pounds.Peake abandoned the Blackpool customer and drove off to consult hislawyer at Hanbridge; he stood to lose three hundred and fifty pounds, amatter sufficiently disconcerting. Yet, in another part of his mind, hefelt strangely serene and happy, for he was sure now of winning his betof one shilling with Randolph Sneyd. In the first place, the failure ofEardleys would annihilate the organ scheme, and in the second place noone would have the audacity to ask him for a subscription of a hundredpounds when it was known that he would be a heavy sufferer in theEardley bankruptcy.Later in the day he happened to meet one of the Eardleys, and at oncelaunched into a stream of that hot invective of which he was a master.And all the while he was conscious of a certain hypocrisy in hisattitude of violence; he could not dismiss the notion that the Eardleyshad put him under an obligation by failing precisely at this juncture.IVOn the Saturday evening only Sneyd and Mrs Lovatt came up to Hillport,Enoch Lovatt being away from home. Therefore there were no cards; theytalked of the Eardley affair."You'll have to manage with the old organ now," was one of the firstthings that Peake said to Mrs Lovatt, after he had recited his own woe.He smiled grimly as he said it."I don't see why," Sneyd remarked. It was not true; he saw perfectly;but he enjoyed the rousing of Jim Peake into a warm altercation."Not at all," said Mrs Lovatt, proudly. "We shall have the organ, I'msure. There was an urgency committee meeting last night. TitusBlackhurst has most generously given another hundred; he said it wouldbe a shame if the bankruptcy of professed Methodists was allowed toprejudice the interests of the chapel. And the organ-makers have takenfifty pounds off their price. Now, who do you think has given anotherfifty? Mr Copinger! He stood up last night, Mr Blackhurst told me thismorning, and he said, 'Friends, I've only seventy pounds in the world,but I'll give fifty pounds towards this organ.' There! What do you thinkof that? Isn't he a grand fellow?""He is a grand fellow," said Peake, with emphasis, reflecting that thetotal income of the minister could not exceed three hundred a year."So you see you'll have to give your hundred," Mrs Lovatt continued."You can't do otherwise after that."There was a pause."I won't give it," said Peake. "I've said I won't, and I won't."He could think of no argument. To repeat that Eardley's bankruptcy wouldcost him dear seemed trivial. Nevertheless, the absence of any plausibleargument served only to steel his resolution.At that moment the servant opened the door."Mr Titus Blackhurst, senior, to see you, sir."Peake and his wife looked at one another in amazement, and Sneyd laughedquietly."He told me he should come up," Mrs Lovatt explained."Show him into the breakfast-room, Clara," said Mrs Peake to theservant.Peake frowned angrily as he crossed the hall, but as he opened thebreakfast-room door he contrived to straighten out his face into asemblance of urbanity. Though he could have enjoyed accelerating thepassage of his visitor into the street, there were excellent commercialreasons why he should adopt a less strenuous means towards the end whichhe had determined to gain."Glad to see you, Mr Blackhurst," he began, a little awkwardly."You know, I suppose, what I've come for, Mr Peake," said the old man,in that rich, deep, oily voice of which Mrs Lovatt, in one of thosegraphic phrases that came to her sometimes, had once remarked that itmust have been "well basted in the cooking.""I suppose I do," Peake answered diffidently.Mr Blackhurst took off a wrinkled black glove, stroked his grey beard,and started on a long account of the inception and progress of the organscheme. Peake listened and was drawn into an admission that it was agood scheme and deserved to succeed. Mr Blackhurst then went on to makeplain that it was in danger of utterly collapsing, that only one man of"our Methodist friends" could save it, and that both Mrs Sutton and MrsLovatt had advised him to come and make a personal appeal to that man.Peake knew of old, and in other affairs, the wily diplomatic skill ofthis Sunday School superintendent, and when Mr Blackhurst paused hecollected himself for an effort which should conclude the episode at astroke."The fact is," he said, "I've decided that I can't help you. It's nogood beating about the bush, and so I tell you this at once. Mind you,Mr Blackhurst, if there's anyone in Bursley that I should have liked tooblige, it's you. We've had business dealings, you and me, for manyyears now, and I fancy we know one another. I've the highest respect foryou, and if you'll excuse me saying so, I think you've some respect forme. My rule is always to be candid. I say what I mean and I mean what Isay; and so, as I've quite made up my mind, I let you know straight off.I can't do it. I simply can't do it.""Of course if you put it that way, if you can't--""I do put it that way, Mr Blackhurst," Peake continued quickly, warminghimself into eloquence as he perceived the most effective line topursue. "I admire your open-handedness. It's an example to us all. Iwish I could imitate it. But I mustn't. I'm not one o' them as rushesout and promises a hundred pound before they've looked at their profitand loss account. Eardleys, for example. By the way, I'm pleased to hearfrom Sneyd that you aren't let in there. I'm one of the flats. Threehundred and fifty pound--that's my bit; I'm told they won't pay sixshillings in the pound. Isn't that a warning? What right had they to gooffering their hundred pound apiece to your organ fund?""It was very wrong," said Mr Blackhurst, severely, "and what's more, itbrings discredit on the Methodist society.""True!" agreed Peake, and then, leaning over confidentially, he spoke ina different voice: "If you ask me, I don't mind saying that I think thatmagnificent subscription o' theirs was a deliberate and fraudulentattempt to inspire pressing creditors with fresh confidence. That's whatI think. I call it monstrous."Mr Blackhurst nodded slowly, as though meditating upon profound truthsably expressed."Well," Peake resumed, "I'm not one of that sort. If I can afford togive, I give; but not otherwise. How do I know how I stand? I needn'ttell you, Mr Blackhurst, that trade in this district is in a very queerstate--a very queer state indeed. Outside yourself, and Lovatt, and oneor two more, is there a single manufacturer in Bursley that knows how hestands? Is there one of them that knows whether he's making money orlosing it? Look at prices; can they go lower? And secret discounts; canthey go higher? And all this affects the colliery-owners. I shouldn'tlike to tell you the total of my book-debts; I don't even care to thinkof it. And suppose there's a colliers' strike--as there's bound to besooner or later--where shall we be then?"Mr Blackhurst nodded once more, while Peake, intoxicated by his ownrhetoric, began actually to imagine that his commercial condition wasindeed perilous."I've had several very severe losses lately," he went on. "You know Iwas in that newspaper company; that was a heavy drain; I've done withnewspapers for ever more. I was a fool, but calling myself a fool won'tbring back what I've lost. It's got to be faced. Then there's that newshaft I sunk last year. What with floodings, and flaws in the seam, thatshaft alone is running me into a loss of six pound a week at this verymoment, and has been for weeks.""Dear me!" exclaimed Mr Blackhurst, sympathetically."Yes! Six pound a week! And that isn't all"--he had entirely forgottenthe immediate object of Mr Blackhurst's visit--"that isn't all. I've gota big lawsuit coming on with the railway company. Goodness knows howthat will end! If I lose it ... well!""Mr Peake," said the old man, with quiet firmness, "if things are as badas you say we will have a word of prayer."He knelt down and forthwith commenced to intercede with God on behalf ofthis luckless colliery-owner, his business, his family, his soul.Peake jumped like a shot rabbit, reddening to the neck withstupefaction, excruciating sheepishness and annoyance. Never in thewhole course of his life had he been caught in such an ineffablepredicament. He strode to and fro in futile speechless rage and shame.The situation was intolerable. He felt that at no matter what cost hemust get Titus Blackhurst up from his knees. He approached him, meaningto put a hand on his shoulder, but dared not do so. Inarticulate soundsescaped from his throat, and then at last he burst out:"Stop that, stop that! I canna stand it. Here, I'll give ye a chequefor a hundred. I'll write it now."When Mr Blackhurst had departed he rang for a brandy-and-soda, and then,after an interval, returned to the drawing-room."Sneyd," he said, trying to laugh, "here's your shilling. I've lost.""There!" exclaimed Mrs Lovatt. "Didn't I say that Mr Copinger's examplewould do it? Eh, James! Bless you!"5.5 Add An Unfair Advantage to your library.Return to the Arnold Bennett library, or . . . Read the next short story; Catching the Train 2b1af7f3a8