Guess Who it is!
by T. S. Arthur
An Extract From
Married Life, Its Shadows and Sunshine
"IT will be great deal better for us, Lizzy. America is a country
where all things are in full and plenty; but here we are ground down
to the earth and half-starved by the rich and great in order that
they may become richer and greater. I isn't so there, Lizzy. Don't
you remember what John McClure wrote home, six months after he
crossed the ocean?"
"Yes, I remember all that, Thomas; but John McClure was never a
very truthful body at home and I've always thought that if we knew
every thing, we would find that he wrote with his magnifying glasses
on. John, you know, was very apt to see things through magnifying
"But the testimony doesn't come alone from John. We hear it every
day and from every quarter, that America is a perfect paradise for
the poor, compared to England."
"I don't know how that can be, Thomas. They say that it is full of
wild beast poisonous serpents, and savage Indians, and that the
people are in constant fear of their lives. I'm sure England is a
better place than that, even if we do have to work hard and get but
little for it."
"All that used to be, Lizzy," replied Thomas. "But they've killed
the wild beasts and serpents, and tamed the savage Indians. And there
are great cities there, the same as in England."
But Lizzy could not be convinced. From her earliest childhood she
had never had but one idea of America, and that was as a great
wilderness filled with Indians and wild beasts. Of the former, she
had heard tales that made her blood curdle in her veins. It was in
vain, therefore, for Thomas Ward to argue with his wife about going
to America. She was not to be convinced that a waste, howling
wilderness was at all comparable with happy old England, even if the
poor were "ground down."
As a dozen previous discussions on the subject had ended, so ended
this. Thomas Ward was of the same mind as before, and so was his
wife. The one wished to go, and the other to stay.
Ward had only been married a short time, but the period, short as
it was, proved long enough to bring a sad disappointment of his
worldly hopes. He had been employed as a gentleman's gardener for many
years, and had been able, by strict economy, to lay up a little
money. But soon after his, marriage, through some slight
misunderstanding he lost his place, and had not since been able to
obtain any thing more than transient employment, the return from
which had, so far, proved inadequate to the maintenance of himself
and wife, requiring him to draw steadily upon the not very large fund
that was deposited in the Savings' Bank.
About once a fortnight Thomas would become completely discouraged,
and then he invariably introduced his favourite project of going to
America; but Lizzy always met him when in this mood with a decided
negative, as far as she was concerned and sometimes went so far as to
say, when he grew rather warm on the subject—"It's no use to talk
about it, Thomas; I shall never go to America, that's decided."
This, instead of being a settler, as Lizzy supposed it would be,
only proved a silencer. Thomas would instantly waive all present
reference to the subject. But the less he talked, the more he thought
about the land of plenty beyond the ocean; and the oftener Lizzy said
she would never go to America, the more earnest became his desire to
go, and the more fully formed his resolution to emigrate while
possessed the ability to do so. He did not like Lizzy's mode of
silencing him when he talked about his favourite theme. He had certain
primitive notions about a wife's submission of herself to her husband,
and it not only fretted him, but made him a little resolute on the
subject of going to America when Lizzy declared herself determined not
One day Ward came home with brows knit more closely than usual, and
a firmer and more decided expression upon his tightly-closed lips.
"What's the matter now, Thomas?" asked his wife.
The "now" indicated that Thomas had something to trouble him, more
or less, nearly all the time.
"The matter is, that I'm going to America!" returned Ward, in an
angry tone of voice. "If you won't wish to go, you will only have to
stay where you are. But I've made up my mind to sail in the next
Ward had never spoken to his young wife in such harsh, angry,
rebuking tone of voice since they were married. But the import of
what he said was worse than his manner of saying it. Going to
America—and going whether she chose to go with him or remain behind!
What was this less than desertion? But Lizzy had pride and firmness as
tell as acute sensibilities. The latter she controlled by means of the
former, and, with unexpected coolness, replied—"Well, Thomas, if you
wish to leave me, I have nothing to say. As to that savage country, I
say now only what I have said before—I cannot go."
"Very well; I am not going to stay here and starve."
"We haven't starved yet, Thomas," spoke up Lizzy.
"No, thanks to my prudence in saving every dollar I could spare
while a bachelor! But we're in a fair way for it now. Every week we
are going behindhand, and if we stay here much longer we shall
neither have the means of living nor getting away. I've finished my
job, and cannot get another stroke to do."
"Something will turn up, Thomas; don't be impatient."
"Impatient!" ejaculated Ward.
"Yes, impatient, Thomas," coolly said his wife. "You are in a very
strange way. Only wait a little while, and all will come right."
"Lizzy," said Thomas Ward, suddenly growing calm, and speaking
slowly and with marked emphasis—"I've decided upon going to America.
If you will go with me, as a loving and obedient wife should, I shall
be glad of your company; but if you prefer to remain here, I shall lay
no commands upon you. Will you or will you not go? Say at a word."
Lizzy had a spice of independence about her, as well as a good
share of pride. The word "obedience," as applied to a wife, had never
accorded much with her taste, and the use of it made on the present
occasion by her husband was particularly offensive to her. So she
replied, without pausing to reflect—"I have already told you that I
am not going to America."
"Very well, Lizzy," replied Thomas, in a voice that was
considerably softened, "I leave you to your own choice,
notwithstanding the vow you made on that happy morning. My promise was
to love you and to keep you in sickness and in health, but though I
may love you as well in old England as in a far-off country, I cannot
perform that other promise so well. So I must e'en leave you with my
heart's best blessing, and a pledge that you shall want for no earthly
comfort while I have a hand to work."
And saying this, Thomas Ward left the presence of his wife, and
started forth to walk and to think. On his return, he found Lizzy
sitting by the window with her hands covering her face, and the tears
making their way through her fingers. He said nothing, but he had a
hope that she would change her mind and go with him when the time
came. In a little while Lizzy was able to control herself, and move
silently about her domestic duties; but her husband looked into her
face for some sign of a relenting purpose, and looked in vain.
On the next day, Ward said to his wife—"I've engaged my passage in
the Shamrock, that sails from Liverpool for New York in a week."
Lizzy started, and a slight shiver ran through; her body; but a
cold "Very well" was the only reply she made.
"I will leave twenty pounds in the Savings' Bank for you to draw
out as you need. Before that is gone, I hope to be able to send you
Lizzy made no answer to this, nor did she display any feeling,
although, as she afterwards owned, she felt as if she would have sunk
through the floor, and sorely repented having said that she would not
go with her husband to America.
The week that intervened between that time and the sailing of the
Shamrock passed swiftly away. Lizzy wished a hundred times that her
husband would refer to his intended voyage across the sea, and ask
her again if she would not go with him. But Thomas Ward had no more
to say upon the subject. At least as often as three times had his
wife refused to accompany him to a land where there was plenty of
work and good wages, and he was firm in his resolution not to ask her
As the time approached nearer and nearer, Lizzy's heart sank lower
and lower in her bosom; still she cherished all possible justifying
reasons for her conduct, and sometimes had bitter thoughts against
her husband. She called him, in her mind, arbitrary and tyrannical,
and charged him with wishing to make her the mere slave of his will.
As for Ward he also indulged in mental criminations, and tried his
best to believe that Lizzy had no true affection for him, that she
was selfish, self-willed, and the dear knows what all.
Thus stood affairs when the day came upon which the Shamrock was to
sail, and Ward must leave in the early train of cars for Liverpool,
to be on board at the hour of starting. Lizzy had done little but cry
all night, and Thomas had lain awake thinking of the unnatural
separation, and listening to his wife's but half-stifled sobs that
ever and anon broke the deep silence of their chamber. At last
daylight came, and Ward left his sleepless pillow to make hurried
preparations for his departure. His wife arose also, and got ready
his breakfast. The hour of separation at length came.
"Lizzy," said the unhappy but firm-hearted man, "we must now part.
Whether we shall ever meet again, Heaven only knows. I do not wish to
blame you in this trying moment, in this hour of grief to both, but I
must say that—No, no!" suddenly checking himself, "I will say nothing
that may seem unkind. Farewell! If ever your love for your husband
should become strong enough to make you willing to share his lot in a
far-off and stranger land, his arms and heart will be open to receive
Ward was holding the hand of his wife and looking into her face,
over which tears, in spite of all her efforts to control herself,
were falling. The impulse in Lizzy's heart was to throw herself into
her husband's arms; but, as that would have been equivalent to giving
up, and saying—"I must go with you, go where you will," she braved it
out up to the last moment, and stood the final separation without
trusting her voice in the utterance of a single word.
"God bless you, Lizzy!" were the parting words of the unhappy
emigrant, as he wrung the passive hand of his wife, and then forced
The voyage to New York was performed in five weeks. On his arrival
in that city, Ward sought among his countrymen for such information
as would be useful to him in obtaining employment. By some of these,
the propriety of advertising was suggested. Ward followed the
suggestion, and by so doing happily obtained, within a week after his
arrival, the offer of a good situation as overseer and gardener upon a
large farm fifty miles from the city. The wages were far better than
any he had received in England.
"Are you a single man?" asked the sturdy old farmer, after Ward had
been a day or two at his new home.
"No, sir; I have a wife in the old country," he replied, with a
slight appearance of confusion.
"Have you? Well, Thomas, why didn't you bring her along?"
"She was not willing to come to this country," returned Thomas.
"Then why did you come?"
"Because it was better to do so than to starve where I was."
"It doesn't matter about your wife, I suppose?"
"Why not?" Thomas spoke quickly, and knit his brows.
"If you couldn't live in England, what is your wife
"I shall send her half of my wages."
"Ah, that's the calculation, is it? But it seems to me that it
would have been a saving in money as well as comfort, if she had come
with you. Does she know any thing about dairy work?"
"Yes, sir; she was raised on a dairy farm."
"Then she's a regular-bred English dairy maid?"
"She is, and none better in the world."
"Just the person I want. You must write home for her, Thomas, and
tell her she must come over immediately."
But Thomas shook his head.
"Won't she come?"
"I cannot tell. But she refused to come with me, although I
repeatedly urged her. She must now take her own course. I felt, it to
be my duty to her as well as to myself, to leave England for a better
land; and if she thinks it her duty to stay behind, I must bear the
separation the best way I can."
"I hope you had no quarrel, Thomas?" said the farmer, in his blunt
"No, sir," said Thomas, a little indignantly. "We never had the
slightest difference, except in this matter."
"Then write home by the next steamer and ask her to join you, and
she will be here by the earliest packet, and glad to come."
But Thomas shook his head. The man had his share of stubborn pride.
"As you will," said the farmer. "But I can tell you what, if she'd
been my wife, I'd have taken her under my arm and brought her along
in spite of all objections. It's too silly, this giving up to and
being fretted about a woman's whims and prejudices. I'll be bound, if
you'd told her she must come, and packed her trunk for her to show
that you were in earnest, she'd never have dreamed of staying behind."
That evening Thomas wrote home to his wife all about the excellent
place he had obtained, and was particular to say that he had agreed
to remain for a year, and would send her half of his wages every
month. Not one word, however, did he mention of the conversation that
had passed between him and the farmer; nor did he hint, even remotely,
to her joining him in the United States.
All the next day Thomas thought about what the farmer had said, and
thought how happy both he and Lizzy might be if she would only come
over and take charge of the dairy. The longer this idea remained
present in his mind, the more deeply did it fix itself there. On the
second night he dreamed that Lizzy was with him, that she had come
over in the very next packet, and that they were as happy as they
could be. He felt very bad when he awoke and found that it was only a
At last, after a week had passed, Thomas Ward fully forgave his
wife every thing, and sat himself down to write her a long letter,
filled with all kinds of arguments, reasons, and entreaties favourable
to a voyage across the Atlantic. Thus he wrote, in part:—
......."As to wild Indians, Lizzy, of which you have such fear,
there are none within a thousand miles, and they are tame enough. The
fierce animals are all killed, and I have not seen a single serpent,
except a garter snake, that is as harmless as a tow string. Come then,
Lizzy, come! I have not known a happy moment since I left you, and I
am sure you cannot be happy. This is a land of peace and plenty—a
Thomas Ward did not know that a stranger had entered the room, and
was now looking over his shoulder, and reading what he had written.
Just as his pen was on the sentence left unfinished above, a pair of
soft hands were suddenly drawn across his eyes, and a strangely
familiar voice said, tremblingly—"Guess who it is!"
Before he had time to think or to guess, the hands passed from his
eyes to his neck, and a warm wet cheek was laid tightly against his
own. He could not see the face that lay so close to his, but he knew
that Lizzy's arms were around him, that her tears were upon his face,
and that her heart was beating against him.
"Bless us!" ejaculated the old farmer, who had followed after the
young woman who had asked at the door with such an eager interest for
Thomas Ward—"what does all this mean?"
By this time Thomas had gained a full view of his wife's tearful
but happy face. Then he hugged her to his bosom over and over again,
much to the surprise and delight of the farmer's urchins, who
happened to be in the room.
"Here she is, sir; here she is!" he cried to the farmer, as soon as
he could see any thing else but Lizzy's face, and then first became
aware of the old gentleman's presence; "here is your English dairy
"Then it's your wife, Thomas, sure enough."
"Oh, yes, sir; I thought she would be along after a while, but
didn't expect this happiness so soon."
"How is this, my young lady?" asked the farmer,
good-humouredly—"how is this? I thought you wasn't going to come to
this country. But I suppose the very next packet after your husband
left saw you on board. All I blame him for is not taking you under
his arm, as I would have done, and bringing you along as so much
baggage. But no doubt you found it much pleasanter coming over alone
than it would have been in company with your husband—no doubt at all
The kind-hearted farmer then took his children out of the room,
and, closing the door, left the reunited husband and wife alone. Lizzy
was too happy to say any thing about how wrong she had been in not
consenting to go with her husband; but she owned that he had not been
gone five minutes before she would have given the world, if she had
possessed it, to have been with him. Ten days afterwards another
packet sailed for the United States, and she took passage in it. On
arriving in New York she was fortunate enough to fall in with a
passenger who had come over in the Shamrock, and from him learned
where she could find her husband, who acknowledged that she had given
him the most agreeable surprise he had ever known in his life.
Lizzy has never yet had cause to repent of her voyage to America.
The money she received for managing the dairy of the old farmer,
added to what her husband could save from his salary, after
accumulating for some years, was at length applied to the purchase of
a farm, the produce of which, sold yearly in New York, leaves them a
handsome annual surplus over and above their expenses. Thomas Ward is
in a fair way of becoming a substantial and wealthy farmer.