Why He Didn’t
The son of Mr. Jeremy Lord, age fourteen, was spending the afternoon with one of his young friends, and his stay was prolonged into the evening, during which some male friends of the family dropped in. The boys withdrew into the recess of the bay window, at the end of the room, and the men went on chatting about the most important matters of the day, politics, etc. Still apparently entertaining each other, the two boys yet kept their ears open, as boys will, and, taking their cue from the sentiments expressed by their elders, endorsed one or the other as they happen to agree with them.
“Gentlemen, will you smoke?” asked Mr. Benedict, the host A simultaneous “thank you,” went around, and a smile of satisfaction lighted all faces but one. Not that he was gloomy, or a drawback on the rest, but his smile was not one of assent. A box of cigars was soon forthcoming, costly and fragrant, as the word goes.
“Fine cigar,” said one, as he held it to his nose, before lighting. “What, Linton, you don’t smoke?” “I’m happy to say I do not,” was the firm rejoinder.
“Well, now, you look like a smoking man, jolly, care free, and all that. I’m quite surprised.” Said another.
“We are hardly doing right, are we,” said a rubicund-visaged man, whom puffed away heartily “to smoke in the parlor? I condone that much to my wife’s dislike of the weed. She makes a great ado about the curtains, you know.”
“For my part, that’s a matter I don’t trouble myself about,” said the host, broadly. There’s no room in this house too good for me and my friends to smoke in. My wife has always understood that, and she yields, of course.”
But you don’t know how it chokes her,” said the young Hal Benedict. “Yes, indeed it gets all through the house, you know, and she almost always goes into Aunt Nellie’s when there are two or three smoking. There she goes now, “ he added, as the front door closed.
“Why, It ‘s absolutely driving her out of the house, isn’t it?” asked Johnny. “Too bad!”
“Why don’t you smoke, Dalton?” queried one of the party. “’Fraid of it? Given it up lately? It don’t agree with some constitutions.”
“Well, if you want to know why I don’t smoke, friend Jay,” was the answer, “I will tell you, I respect my wife too much.”
“Why, you don’t mean—“ stammered his questioner. I mean simply what I said. When I was married I was addicted to the use of cigars. I saw that the smoke annoyed her, though she behaved with utmost good taste and forbearance, and cut down my cigars so as to smoke only when going and returning from business. I considered what my presence must be to a delicate and sensitive woman, with breath and clothes saturated with the odor, and I began to be disgusted with myself, so that I finally dropped the habit, and I can’t say I'm, sorry.”
“I shouldn’t be, I know,” said another, admiringly. I’m candid enough to own it, and I think your wife ought to be very much obliged to you.”
“On the contrary, it is I who ought to be obliged to my wife,” said Mr. Dalton, while the host smoked on in silence, very red in the face, and evidently wincing under the reproof that was not meant.
“I say Dalton is a brick,” whispered young Benedict.
“He’s splendid!" Supplemented Johnny, who was thinking his own thoughts while the smoke was really getting too much for him, and presently he took his leave.
The next day Johnny was thoughtful, so quiet, indeed, that everybody noticed it, and in the evening, when his father lighted his pipe with its strong tobacco, Johnny seemed on thorns.
“I can’t think that you don’t respect mother,” he blurted out, and then his face grew scarlet.
“What do you mean?” asked the father, in a sever voice. “I say, what do you mean, sir?”
“Because mother hates the smoke so; because it gets into the curtains and carpet—and–and because I heard Mr. Dalton last night give as a reason that he did not smoke that he respected his wife too much,”
“Pshaw! Your mother don’t mind my smoking—do you, mother?” he asked jocularly, as his wife entered just then.
“Well—I—I—used to rather more than I do now. One can get accustomed to anything, I suppose, so I go on the principle that what can’t be cured must be endured.”
“Nonsense! You know I could stop tomorrow if I wanted to,“ he laughed.
“But you won’t want to,” she said, softly.
I don’t know whether Johnny’s father gave up the weed. Most likely not; but if you want to see what really came of it, I will give you a peep at the following paper, written some years ago, and which happens to be in my possession.
“I, John Lord, of sound mind, do make, this first day of January, 1861, the following resolution, which I pray God I may keep:--
“First. I will not get married till I own a house, for I expect my uncle to give me one, one of these days; mother says he will.
“Second. I will never swear, because it is silly, as well as wicked.
“Third I will never smoke and so make myself disagreeable to everybody who comes near me, a and I will always keep these words as my motto after I am married:
“’I don’t smoke because I respect my wife.’ Mr. Dalton said that and I will never forget it. "
And Johnny kept his word like a hero.
The world will never adjust itself.
To suit your whims to the letter
Some things must go wrong your whole life long
And the sooner you know it the better..
Ella Wheeler Wilcox