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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

And the poor husband would nibble here and nibble there


_pate de foie gras_ is a monstrous dish. A goose is kept in some warm, confined place that precludes any extended motion, and fed with fattening food, so that his liver enlarges through disease till it is considered fit to be made into a pie,--a luxury to epicures, but a horror to any healthful person. Just such a goose is many a woman, confined by custom and her consenting will in a warm, narrow kitchen, only instead of her liver it is her life which she herself makes up into pies; but the pastry which you find so delicious seems to me disease.

The ancients buried in urns the ashes of their bodies: we deposit in urns the ashes of our souls, and pass them around at the tea-table.

Women not only injure themselves by what they neglect, but injure others by what they perform. Such stress is laid upon the commissary department, that they lose discrimination, and come to think that dainty morsels are a panacea for all the ills of the flesh, instead of being the chief cause of most of them. I knew a young wife whose husband used to come down from his study worn and weary with much brain-work, his muscles flaccid, his eyes heavy, his circulation sluggish, and she would come up from the kitchen her face all aglow with eagerness and love and cooking-stove heat, her hands full of abominable little messes which she had been plotting against him, reeking with butter and sugar, and all manner of glorified greasiness,--I

am happy to say I do not know by what name she called her machinations, but I call them broiled dyspepsia, toasted indigestions, fricasseed nightmare,--and the poor husband would nibble here and nibble there, sure of grim consequences, but loath to seem a churl by indifference, and neither give nor take satisfaction. I could bear his suffering with great equanimity, for there was a poetic justice in it, though he himself was not a sinner above others, nor yet so much as many. If only those men who are continually preaching the larder could be forced, sick or well, to swallow every combination which the fertile feminine brain can devise, and the nimble feminine fingers accomplish, I should listen to their exhortations with the most lively satisfaction. But even that would not atone for the female suffering. With what disconsolate countenance would my tender, anxious young wife ring the bell and send away the scarcely-diminished dish-lings, and wonder in her fond tortured heart what next she could do to smooth the wrinkled brow and light up the dull eyes, and so revolve perpetually in her troubled mind the mysterious question that loomed up mystically before us all in our Mother Goose days, "Why didn't Jack eat his supper?"

Why? O sweet and silly little wife? Because he wanted a thorough shaking-up. Because mind and body were flabby from too long poring over his books. If you could but have performed the impossible; if you could but have parted with the feeble cant which you had learned from infancy; if you would but have driven him out alike from his study and your sitting-room, going with him, if such inducement became necessary, into the fresh air; if you would but have walked him, or worked him, or in some way kneaded him into firm, hard thew and sinew, and kept him out and active till he should have got such an appetite that cold brown bread and molasses would have seemed to him a dish fit to set before a king, you would have done him true wifely service. Then you might have come home and fed him with butter and sugar to your heart's content,--and not to the perpetual discontent and rebellion of his body.

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