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   Chapter 17 No.17

Upsidonia By Archibald Marshall Characters: 6959

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

It is not customary, at least in England, to undertake the responsibilities of married life without a probability of being able to carry them out, and at the time I had come into Upsidonia I had not been in what is called a position to marry. In that country my position was quite satisfactory in this respect, but I did not propose to spend the rest of my life in Upsidonia.

So I now had to think seriously about acquiring that independence which would sweeten the existence that I looked forward to, with dear Miriam as my life-long companion. I was as happy as a king in her garden, but having achieved the step of being invited into it, I now looked forward eagerly to the next step, which was to get out of Upsidonia by the way I had come, and to take her with me.

She was quite ready to go, after our marriage. Indeed, the Highlands, where it was supposed that we should settle down, was so cut off from communication with the rest of Upsidonia that a separation was taken for granted, both by herself and her family.[30]

"Tell me about the sort of house we shall live in," said Miriam, as we sat together on a seat in her garden, under the shade of a sweet-smelling lime.

"My dear," I said, "we shall be able to live in any sort of house we want to. It is delightful to think of. All the beautiful places in the world are open to us, and we need be tied to none of them."

"I don't want more than one house," said Miriam. "I can't get it out of my head, in spite of everything you have told me, that more than one would be a bother. Besides, you wouldn't know which to call your home."

"Quite right," I said. "Even with us, more than one house might quite well be a bother; and to enjoy your possessions you want to have them all around you."

"I suppose I shall get to enjoy possessions," she said dubiously. "But I don't want too many of them, John dear."

"You shall have just as many, or just as few, as you please. We shall enjoy ourselves immensely in acquiring them."

"Do you think we shall? I shall try and like what you like. But it is a little difficult."

"You shall have some beautiful frocks, Miriam. I know you will like that."

She laughed. "How wicked it sounds!" she said. "Don't tell mother that I shall like having beautiful frocks. Are you sure that other girls-other married women-won't look down on me if I am well-dressed? I shouldn't like to be looked down upon, for your sake."

"My dear, get all that out of your head. The more you spend the less likely you are to be looked down upon."

"It sounds so funny. But it sounds rather nice too. Of course, it isn't really wrong to like spending money, rather, if everybody else does it."

"Not a bit. Not if you've got it to spend. And we shall have. I am going to see about that. Well, shall we live in the country?"

"That would be rather nice, John. In a dear little house with a pretty garden, and no labour-saving appliances."

"I don't think you will want to live in a little house when you get to England. I thought, perhaps, we might find some very delightful old-fashioned country house, in a beautiful part of the country, with a few thousand acres of land, good shooting, and a model home farm, which I could tackle myself."

"Do you know anything about farming?"

"Not much; but I should rather like to try it."

"Isn't it rather dangerous? Mightn't you make a lot of money over it?"

"I think I could escape the danger. How would you like an o

ld red-brick house, with a moat, and beautiful carving and plastering and all that sort of thing inside? I know of one near where I was born that we might be able to get."

"Is it in a village, with nice people in it?"

"It is near a charming village, which would belong to us. There aren't any other big houses very near."

"Would the other people call on us, and be friendly?"

"Oh, yes. There are a lot of good houses all about. The neighbours would all call on us."

"Yes, the rich neighbours. But the people in the village? Would the vicar's wife call on us, if we lived in a house like that?"

"I expect she would, if the vicar has a wife, of which I am not sure."

"And the labourers' wives-would they call?"

"Probably not. No, I don't think the labourers' wives would call."

"Then shouldn't we feel rather out of it?"

"You could call on them if you wanted to. They would be very pleased to see you. Any body would be pleased to see you."

"Dear old boy!" she said affectionately. "You think far too much of me. But I like you to. Somehow I don't think I should like to live in a house like that, John. For one thing, I shouldn't like to be always going to see people who wouldn't come and see me. Couldn't we live somewhere among our own sort of people-the people who are well-off, and yet well-educated, that you told me about-well, like we should be?"

"You don't want to live in London, do you?"

"That's where you live, isn't it?"

"Only because my work makes it convenient."

"But you wouldn't give up your work?"

"I should give up some of it, that I do at present. I don't say I should give up all work."

"Oh no, you couldn't do that."

"But I shouldn't have to live in London in order to work. I would much rather live out of it, and have it to go to."

"That is what I really feel about Culbut. If we could live here, just as we do, without feeling that we were different from other people, I should like it better than living in Culbut itself. Do they look down on the rich people living in the suburbs near London, as they do here?"

"There is a tendency that way," I admitted. "How would you like to live at Cambridge? I should be amongst friends, and there would be plenty to do there."

"I think it would be delightful from what you have told me about it. You could do your work there, couldn't you?"

"Yes, I could do a lot of work, if I wanted to; and I could always get a game of some sort."

"I thought it was only the undergraduates who played games. You couldn't row in the boat, could you?"

"I could row you in a boat. We could get a lot of fun in Cambridge, and we could always go to London when we wanted to."

"And we could get a pretty house there-not too big?"

"Yes, we could get that. I think perhaps you're right about the big house. Whoever loves the golden mean will avoid a palace as much as a hovel. Horace says that, or something like it, and what is good enough for Horace is good enough for me, also for my sweet Upsidonian bride. Miriam, I adore you, and it is at least a quarter of an hour since I had a kiss."

So we settled to live in Cambridge when we got to England, in the prettiest house we could find, with the prettiest garden, and I prided myself greatly on the moderation of my desires, while Miriam wondered whether we were not laying up trouble for ourselves, when I said that we should want at least four servants in the sort of house I had in my mind.

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