By Ring Lardner(1885-1933) – edited version
The Golden honeymoon
ByRing Lardner (1885-1933) – edited version
1. Mother says that when I starttalking, I never know when to stop. But then, "Well, Mother," I say,"when people are like you and I, and married over fifty years, do youexpect everything I say will be something you ain't heard me say before?” Soshe says: "You can bet they ain't, as nobody else can stand you thatlong." You can't get ahead of Mother.
2. It would be our Golden Honeymoon. We ended up in St.Petersburg, where we stayed at a cosy hotel. I asked Mother how she would liketo travel around more after this trip and she said: "Fine, but not with anold rattle brain like youdriving." You can't get ahead of Mother.
3. On the third day it was Mother'sbirthday, so we ordered ourselves a real sirloin steak in the Peninsula Hotelrestaurant, that was hardly big enough for one. I said to Mother: "Well, Iguess it's a good thing every day ain't your birthday or we would be in the poorhouse." "No," saysMother, "because if every day was my birthday, I would be old enough bythis time to of been in my grave long ago." You can't get ahead of Mother.
4. But I want to tell you aboutthe Park. While I was playing checkers with a random passer-by who was also keen on a game of checkers or two,Mother sat down on a bench. Thewoman next to her started a conversation. She was a woman about Mother's ownage, seventy or seventy-one, and finally she asked Mother's name. Mother toldher her name and where she was from, and Mother asked her the same questions,and who do you think the woman was?
5. Well, sir, it was the wife ofFrank M. Hartsell, the man who was engaged to Mother till I stepped in,fifty-two years ago! Yes, sir! You can imagine Mother's surprise! And Mrs.Hartsell was surprised, too, when Mother told her she had once been friendswith her husband, though Mother didn't say how close friends they had been. Mother asked if Frank was still livingand Mrs. Hartsell simply pointed over her shoulder.
6. There was old Frank! And heknew Mother as soon as he saw her, though it was over fifty years ago she lefthim. He said he saw it in her eyes. "Why,it's Lucy Frost!" he said. Him and I are the same age, but he seems toshow it more. He is balder for onething. And his beard is all white, where mine has still got a streak of brown in it.
7. Well, I excused myself from the checker game and it was pretty close tonoon, so we decided to all have lunch together. After, we invited them to ourplace. We began talking over old times and Mother said she was scared Mrs.Hartsell would find it tiresome listening to we three talk over old times, but as it turned out Mrs Hartselltalked more than anyone I ever met.
8. She bragged on and on about her son, and Mother made me shut up. Well,I thought they wouldn't never go home and I and Mother were in misery trying to keep awake, as theboth of us always take a nap after lunch. Finally, they left after Mrs.Hartsell invited us to come to their place the next night and play cards. Now I don't mind playing cards, but how can awoman like Hartsell's wife play cards when they have got to stop every coupleseconds and brag about their son? So Mother said: "You are getting too cranky. Maybe she does talk a littletoo much but she is good hearted. And Frank is always good company." So Isaid: "I suppose if he is such good company you wished you had of marriedhim." Mother laughed and said I sounded like I was jealous.
9. Maybe I forgot myself, butanyway, when we were about done playing cards that following evening, Hartsell made the remark that he wouldn'tever lose a game of cards if he could always have Mother for a partner in histeam of card players. So I said: "Well, you had a chance fifty years agoto always have her for a partner, but you weren’ta man enough to keep her." I was sorry the minute I had said it. Hartselldidn't know what to say and for once his wife couldn't say a word. Mother tried to smooth things over by making theremark that I must of had something stronger than tea or I wouldn't talk so silly. But Mrs. Hartsell had frozen likean iceberg and hardly said goodnight to us. I bet her and Frank put in a pleasant hour after we were gone.
10. I tried to keep quiet, but assoon as we were out of the house she started scolding me. Well, I wasn't in the mood to be scolded. So I said: "Iguess he is such a wonderful card player that you wished you had marriedhim." "Well," she said, "at least he ain't a baby." "Well,"I said, "why didn't you marry him?" "Well," said Mother,"I almost wished I had!" "And I wished so, too!" I said. "I'llremember that!" said Mother, and that's the last word she said to me fortwo days. We saw the Hartsells the next day in the Park and I was willing toapologize, but they just nodded tous.
11. Mother and I made it up settingon a bench. "Listen, Charley," she said. "This is our GoldenHoneymoon and we don't want the whole thing spoilt with a silly old quarrel." "Well," I said, "did you mean that about wishing you had marriedHartsell?" "Of course not," she said, "that is, if youdidn't mean that you wished I had, too." So I said: "I was just tiredand all wrought up. I thank God youchose me instead of him as there is no other woman in the world who I couldhave lived with for all these years." "How about Mrs. Hartsell?"says Mother. "Good gracious!"I said. "Imagine being married to a woman that plays cards like she does!”So I put my arm around her shoulder and she stroked my hand. The next day we took our train for home andarrived safe and sound, having been gone just one month and a day. Here comesMother, so I guess I better shut up.