James M. Bailey ~ After the Funeral

It was just after the funeral. The bereaved and subdued widow, enveloped in millinery gloom, was seated in the sitting-room with a few sympathizing friends. There was that constrained look so peculiar to the occasion observable on every countenance. The widow sighed.

“How do you feel, my dear?” said her sister.

“Oh! I don’t know,” said the poor woman, with difficulty restraining her tears. “But I hope everything passed off well.”

“Indeed it did,” said all the ladies.

“It was as large and respectable a funeral as I have seen this winter,” said the sister, looking around upon the others.

“Yes, it was,” said the lady from next door. “I was saying to Mrs. Slocum, only ten minutes ago, that the attendance couldn’t have been better—the bad going considered.”

“Did you see the Taylors?” asked the widow faintly, looking at her sister. “They go so rarely to funerals that I was surprised to see them here.”

“Oh, yes! the Taylors were all here,” said the sympathizing sister. “As you say, they go but a little: they are so exclusive!”

“I thought I saw the Curtises also,” suggested the bereaved woman droopingly.

“Oh, yes!” chimed in several. “They came in their own carriage, too,” said the sister, animatedly. “And then there were the Randalls and the Van Rensselaers. Mrs. Van Rensselaer had her cousin from the city with her; and Mrs. Randall wore a very black heavy silk, which I am sure was quite new. Did you see Colonel Haywood and his daughters, love?”

“I thought I saw them; but I wasn’t sure. They were here, then, were they?”

“Yes, indeed!” said they all again; and the lady who lived across the way observed:

“The Colonel was very sociable, and inquired most kindly about you, and the sickness of your husband.”

The widow smiled faintly. She was gratified by the interest shown by the Colonel.

The friends now rose to go, each bidding her good-by, and expressing the hope that she would be calm. Her sister bowed them out. When she returned, she said:

“You can see, my love, what the neighbors think of it. I wouldn’t have had anything unfortunate to happen for a good deal. But nothing did. The arrangements couldn’t have been better.”

“I think some of the people in the neighborhood must have been surprised to see so many of the uptown people here,” suggested the afflicted woman, trying to look hopeful.

“You may be quite sure of that,” asserted the sister. “I could see that plain enough by their looks.”

“Well, I am glad there is no occasion for talk,” said the widow, smoothing the skirt of her dress.

And after that the boys took the chairs home, and the house was put in order.

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