I don’t believe in wedding functions.
I don’t believe in honeymoons and particularly
I abominate the inhuman custom of giving wedding presents.
And this is why:
Clara was the fifth poor daughter
of a rich man. I was respectably poor but artistic.
We had looked forward to marriage as a time when two
persons chose a home and garnished it with furnishings
of their own choice, happy in the daily contact with
beautiful things. We had often discussed our
future home. We knew just the pictures that must
hang on the walls, the tone of the rugs that should
lie on the floors, the style of the furniture that
should stand in the rooms, the pattern of the silver
that should adorn our table. Our ideas were clear
Unfortunately Clara had eight rich
relatives who approved of me and I had three maiden
aunts, two of whom were in precarious health and must
not be financially offended.
I am rather an imperious man, with
theories that a woman is happiest when she finds a
master; but when the details of the wedding came up
for decision I was astounded to find myself not only
flouted but actually forced to humiliating surrender.
Since then I have learned that my own case was not
glaringly exceptional. At the time, however, I
was nonplused and rather disturbed in my dreams of
the future. I had decided on a house wedding
with but the family and a few intimate friends to be
present at my happiness. After Clara had done
me the honor to consult me, several thousand cards
were sent out for the ceremony at the church and an
addition was begun on the front veranda.
Clara herself led me to the library
and analyzed the situation to me, in the profoundest
“You dear, old, impracticable
goose,” she said with the wisdom of just twenty,
“what do you know about such things? How
much do you suppose it will cost us to furnish a house
the way we want?”
I said airily, “Oh, about five hundred dollars.”
“Take out your pencil,” said Clara scornfully,
When she finished her dictation, and
I had added up the items with a groan, I was dumbfounded.
“Clara, do you think it is wise do
you think we have any right to get married?”
“Of course we have.”
“Then we must make up our minds to boarding.”
“Nonsense! we shall have everything just as
we planned it.”
“Wedding presents,” said
Clara triumphantly, “now do you see why it must
be a church wedding?”
I began to see.
“But isn’t it a bit mercenary?”
I said feebly. “Does every one do it?”
“Every one. It is a sort
of tax on the unmarried,” said Clara with a
determined shake of her head. “Quite right
that it should be, too.”
“Then every one who receives
an invitation is expected to contribute to our future
“An invitation to the house.”
“Well, to the house then?”
“Ah, now, my dear, I begin to
understand why the presents are always shown.”
For all answer Clara extended the
sheet of paper on which we had made our calculations.
I pass over the wedding. In theory
I have grown more and more opposed to such exhibitions.
A wedding is more pathetic than a funeral, and nothing,
perhaps, is more out of place than the jubilations
of the guests. When a man and a woman, as husband
and wife, have lived together five years, then the
community should engage a band and serenade them,
but at the outset however, I will not insist I
am doubtless cynically inclined. I come to the
moment when, having successfully weathered the pitfalls
of the honeymoon (there’s another mistaken theory but
let that pass) my wife and I found ourselves at last
in our own home, in the midst of our wedding presents.
I say in the midst advisably. Clara sat helplessly
in the middle of the parlor rug and I glowered from
“My dear Clara,” I said,
with just a touch of asperity, “you’ve
had your way about the wedding. Now you’ve
got your wedding presents. What are you going
to do with them?”
“If people only wouldn’t
have things marked!” said Clara irrelevantly.
“But they always do,”
I replied. “Also I may venture to suggest
that your answer doesn’t solve the difficulty.”
“Don’t be cross,” said Clara.
“My dear,” I replied with
excellent good-humor, “I’m not. I’m
only amused who wouldn’t be?”
“Don’t be horrid, George,” said
“It is deliciously humorous,”
I continued. “Quite the most humorous thing
I have ever known. I am not cross and I am not
horrid; I have made a profound discovery. I know
now why so many American marriages are not happy.”
“Wedding presents,” I
said savagely, “exactly that, my dear. This
being forced to live years of married life surrounded
by things you don’t want, you never will want,
and which you’ve got to live with or lose your
“Oh, George!” said Clara,
gazing around helplessly, “it is terrible, isn’t
“Look at that rug you are sitting
on,” I said, glaring at a six by ten modern
French importation. “Cauliflowers contending
with unicorns, surrounded by a border of green roses
and orange violets expensive! And
until the lamp explodes or the pipes burst we have
got to go on and on and on living over that, and why? because
dear Isabel will be here once a week!”
“I thought Isabel would have better taste,”
“She has Isabel has
perfect taste, depend upon it,” I said, “she
did it on purpose!”
“Exactly that. Have you
noticed that married people give the most impossible
presents? It is revenge, my dear. Society
has preyed upon them. They will prey upon society.
Wait until we get a chance!”
“It is awful!” said Clara.
“Let us continue. We have
five French rugs; no two could live together.
Five rooms desecrated. Our drawing-room is Art
Nouveau, furnished by your Uncle James, who is strong
and healthy and may live twenty years. I particularly
abominate Art Nouveau furniture.”
“So do I.”
“Our dining-room is distinctly Grand Rapids.”
“Well, it was your Aunt Susan.”
“It was, but who suggested it?
I pass over the bedrooms. I will simply say that
they are nightmares. Expensive nightmares!
I come to the lamps how many have we?”
“Fourteen atrocities, imitation
Louis Seize, bogus Oriental, feathered, laced and
tasseled. So much for useful presents. Now
for decoration. We have three Sistine Madonnas
(my particular abomination). Two, thank heaven,
we can inflict on the next victims, one we have got
to live with and why? so that each of our
three intimate friends will believe it his own.
We have water colors and etchings which we don’t
want, and a photograph copy of every picture that
every one sees in every one’s house. Some
original friend has even sent us a life-size, marble
reproduction of the Venus de Milo. These things
will be our artistic home. Then there are vases ”
“Now you are losing your temper.”
“On the contrary, I’m
reserving it. I shan’t characterize the
bric-a-brac, that was to be expected.”
“At least that is not marked.
I come at last to the silver. Give me the list.”
Clara sighed and extended it.
“Four solid silver terrapin dishes.”
“Marked Terrapin ha!
ha! Two massive, expensive, solid silver champagne
“Marked, my dear for
each end of the table when we give our beefsteak dinners.
“Forty-two individual, solid
or filigree almond dishes; forty-two, Clara.”
“Right again, dear. One
dozen bonbon dishes, five nouveau riche sugar
shakers (we never use them), three muffineers in
heaven’s name, what’s that? Solid
silver bread dishes, solid silver candlesticks by the
dozen, solid silver vegetable dishes, and we expect
one servant and an intermittent laundress to do the
cooking, washing, make the beds and clean the house
“All marked,” said Clara dolefully.
“Every one, my dear. Then
the china and the plates, we can’t even eat
out of the plates we want or drink from the glasses
we wish; everything in this house, from top to bottom
has been picked out and inflicted upon us against
our wants and in defiance of our own taste and we we
have got to go on living with them and trying not
“You have forgotten the worst of all,”
“No, my darling, I have not
forgotten it. I have thought of nothing else,
but I wanted you to mention it.”
“The flat silver, George.”
“The flat silver, my darling.
Twelve dozen, solid silver and teaset to match, bought
without consulting us, by your two rich bachelor uncles
in collusion. We wanted Queen Anne or Louis Seize,
simple, dignified, something to live with and grow
fond of, and what did we get?”
“Oh, dear, they might have asked me!”
“But they don’t, they
never do, that is the theory of wedding presents,
my dear. We got Pond Lily pattern, repousse
until it scratches your fingers. Pond Lily pattern,
my dear, which I loathe, detest, and abominate!”
“I too, George.”
“And that, my dear, we shall
never get rid of; we not only must adopt and assume
the responsibility, but must pass it down to our children
and our children’s children.”
“Oh, George, it is terrible terrible!
What are we going to do?”
“My darling Clara, we are going
to put a piece of bric-a-brac a day on the newel
post, buy a litter of puppies to chew up the rugs,
select a butter-fingered, china-breaking waitress,
pay storage on the silver and try occasionally to
set fire to the furniture.”
“But the flat silver, George, what of that?”
“Oh, the flat silver,”
I said gloomily, “each one has his cross to bear,
that shall be ours.”
We were, as has been suggested, a
relatively rich couple. That’s a pun!
At the end of five years a relative on either side
left us a graceful reminder. The problem of living
became merely one of degree. At the end of this
period we had made considerable progress in the building
up of a home which should be in fact and desire entirely
ours. That is, we had been extensively fortunate
in the preservation of our wedding presents.
Our twenty-second housemaid broke a bottle of ink over
the parlor rug, her twenty-one predecessors (whom
I had particularly selected) had already made the
most gratifying progress among the bric-a-brac,
two intelligent Airdale puppies had chewed satisfactory
holes in the Art Nouveau furniture, even the Sistine
Madonna had wrenched loose from its supports and considerately
annihilated the jewel-studded Oriental lamp in the
Our little home began at last to really
reflect something of the artistic taste on which I
pride myself. There remained at length only the
flat silver and a few thousand dollars’ worth
of solid silver receptacles for which we had now paid
four hundred dollars storage. But these remained,
secure, fixed beyond the assaults of the imagination.
One morning at the breakfast table
I laid down my cup with a crash.
Clara gave an exclamation of alarm.
“George dear, what is it?”
For all reply I seized a handful of
the Pond Lily pattern silver and gazed at it with
a savage joy.
“George, George, what has happened?”
“My dear, I have an idea a wonderful
“We will spend the summer in Lone Tree, New
“Are you in your senses, George?”
“Never more so.”
“But it’s broiling hot!”
“Hotter than that.”
“It is simply deluged with mosquitoes.”
“There are several mosquitoes there.”
“It’s a hole in the ground!”
“It certainly is.”
“And the only people we know there are the Jimmy
Lakes, whom I detest.”
“I can’t bear them.”
“And, George, there are burglars!”
“Yes, my dear,” I said
triumphantly, “heaven be praised there are
Clara looked at me. She is very quick.
“You are thinking of the silver.”
“Of all the silver.”
“But, George, can we afford it?”
“To have the silver stolen.”
“Supposing there was a burglar insurance, as
The next moment Clara was laughing in my arms.
“Oh, George, you are a wonderful,
brilliant man: how did you ever think of it?”
“I just put my mind to it,” I said loftily.
We went to Lone Tree, New Jersey.
We went there early to meet the migratory spring burglar.
We released from storage two chests and three barrels
of solid silver wedding presents, took out a burglar
insurance for three thousand dollars and proceeded
to decorate the dining-room and parlor.
“It looks rather rather
nouveau riche,” said Clara, surveying
“My dear, say the word it
is vulgar. But what of that? We have come
here for a purpose and we will not be balked.
Our object is to offer every facility to the gentlemen
who will relieve us of our silver. Nothing concealed,
nothing screwed to the floor.”
“I think,” said Clara, “that the
champagne coolers are unnecessary.”
The solid silver champagne coolers adorned either
side of the fireplace.
“As receptacles for potted ferns
they are, it is true, not quite in the best of taste,”
I admitted. “We might leave them in the
hall for umbrellas and canes. But then they might
be overlooked, and we must take no chances on a careless
Clara sat down and began to laugh,
which I confess was quite the natural thing to do.
Solid silver bread dishes holding sweet peas, individual
almond dishes filled with matches, silver baskets for
cigars and cigarettes crowded the room, with silver
candlesticks sprouting from every ledge and table.
The dining-room was worse but then solid
silver terrapin dishes and muffineers, not to mention
the two dozen almond dishes left over from the parlor,
are not at all appropriate decorations.
“I’m sure the burglars
will never come,” said Clara, woman fashion.
“If there’s anything will
keep them away,” I said, a little provoked,
“it’s just that attitude of mind.”
“Well, at any rate, I do hope
they’ll be quick about it, so we can leave this
“They’ll never come if
you’re going to watch them,” I said angrily.
We had quite a little quarrel on that point.
The month of June passed and still
we remained in possession of our wedding silver.
Clara was openly discouraged and if I still clung to
my faith, at the bottom I was anxious and impatient.
When July passed unfruitfully even our sense of humor
was seriously endangered.
“They will never come,” said Clara firmly.
“My dear,” I replied,
“the last time they came in July. All the
more reason that they should change to August.”
“They will never come,” said Clara a second
“Let’s bait the hook,”
I said, trying to turn the subject into a facetious
vein. “We might strew a dozen or so of those
individual dishes down the path to the road.”
“They’ll never come,” said Clara
And yet they came.
On the second of August, about two
o’clock in the morning I was awakened out of
a deep sleep by the voice of my wife crying:
“George, here’s a burglar!”
I thought the joke obvious and ill-timed and sleepily
“But, George dear, he’s here in
There was something in my wife’s
voice, a note of ringing exultation, that brought
me bolt upright in bed.
“Put up your hands quick!”
said a staccato voice.
It was true, there at the end of the
bed, flashing the conventional bull’s-eye lantern,
stood at last a real burglar.
“Put ’em up!”
My hands went heavenward in thanksgiving and gratitude.
“Make a move, you candy dude,
or shout for help,” continued the voice, shoving
into the light the muzzle of a Colt’s revolver,
“and this for you’s!”
The slighting allusion I took to the
credit of the pink and white pajamas I wore but
nothing at that moment could have ruffled my feelings.
I was bubbling over with happiness. I wanted to
jump up and hug him in my arms. I listened.
Downstairs could be heard the sound of feet and an
occasional metallic ring.
“Oh, George, isn’t it
too wonderful wonderful for words!”
said Clara, hysterical with joy.
“I can’t believe it,” I cried.
“Shut up!” said the voice behind the lantern.
“My dear friend,” I said
conciliatingly, “there’s not the slightest
need of your keeping your finger on that wabbling,
cold thing. My feelings towards you are only
the tenderest and the most grateful.”
“The feelings of a brother!
My only fear is that you may overlook one or two articles
that I admit are not conveniently exposed.”
The bull’s-eye turned upon me with a sudden
“Well, I’ll be damned!”
“We have waited for you long
and patiently. We thought you would never come.
In fact, we had sort of lost faith in you. I’m
sorry. I apologize. In a way I don’t
deserve this I really don’t.”
“Bughouse!” came from
the foot of the bed, in a suppressed mutter. “Out
and out bughouse!”
“Quite wrong,” I said
cheerily. “I never was in better health.
You are surprised, you don’t understand.
It’s not necessary you should. It would
rob the situation of its humor if you should.
All I ask of you is to take everything, don’t
make a slip, get it all.”
“Oh, do, please, please do!” said Clara
The silence at the foot of the bed had the force of
“Above all,” I continued
anxiously, “don’t forget the pots.
They stand on either side of the fireplace, filled
with ferns. They are not pewter. They are
solid silver champagne coolers. They are worth they
are worth ”
“Two hundred apiece,” said Clara instantly.
“And don’t overlook the
muffineers, the terrapin dishes and the candlesticks.
We should be very much obliged very grateful
if you could find room for them.”
Often since I have thought of that
burglar and what must have been his sensations.
At the time I was too engrossed with my own feelings.
Never have I enjoyed a situation more. It is
true I noticed as I proceeded our burglar began to
edge away towards the door, keeping the lantern steadily
on my face.
“And one favor more,”
I added, “there are several flocks of individual
silver almond dishes roosting downstairs ”
“Forty-two,” said Clara,
“twenty-four in the dining-room and eighteen
in the parlor.”
“Forty-two is the number; as
a last favor please find room for them; if you don’t
want them drop them in a river or bury them somewhere.
We really would appreciate it. It’s our
“All right,” said the
burglar in an altered tone. “Don’t
you worry now, we’ll attend to that.”
“Remember there are forty-two if
you would count them.”
“That’s all right just
you rest easy,” said the burglar soothingly.
“I’ll see they all get in.”
“Really, if I could be of any
assistance downstairs,” I said anxiously, “I
might really help.”
“Oh, don’t you worry,
Bub, my pals are real careful muts,” said the
burglar nervously. “Now just keep calm.
We’ll get ’em all.”
It suddenly burst upon me that he
took me for a lunatic. I buried my head in the
covers and rocked back and forth between tears and
“Hi! what the ’s
going on up there?” cried a voice from downstairs.
“It’s all right all
right, Bill,” said our burglar hoarsely, “very
affable party up here. Say, hurry it up a bit
down there, will you?”
All at once it struck me that if I
really frightened him too much they might decamp without
making a clean sweep. I sobered at once.
“I’m not crazy,” I said.
“Sure you’re not,” said the burglar
“But I assure you ”
“That’s all right.”
“I’m perfectly sane.”
“Sane as a house!”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“Course there isn’t. Hi, Bill, won’t
you hurry up there!”
“I’ll explain ”
“Don’t you mind that.”
“This is the way it is ”
“That’s all right, we know all about it.”
“You do ”
“Sure, we got your letter.”
“Your telegram then.”
“See here, I’m not crazy ”
“You bet you’re not,”
said the burglar, edging towards the door and changing
“Hold up!” I cried in
alarm, “don’t be a fool. What I want
is for you to get everything everything,
do you hear?”
“All right, I’ll just go down and speak
“Hold up ”
“I’ll tell him.”
“Wait,” I cried, jumping out of bed in
my desire to retain him.
At that moment a whistle came from
below and with an exclamation of relief our burglar
slammed the door and locked it. We heard him go
down three steps at a time and rush out of the house.
“Now you’ve scared them away,” said
Clara, “with your idiotic humor.”
I felt contrite and alarmed.
“How could I help it?”
I said angrily, preparing to climb out on the roof
of the porch. “I tried to tell him.”
With which I scrambled out on the
roof, made my way to the next room and entering, released
Clara. At the top of the steps we stood clinging
“Suppose they left it all behind,” said
“Or even some!”
“Oh, George, I know it I know it!”
“Don’t be unreasonable let’s
go down.” Holding a candle aloft we descended.
The lower floor was stripped of silver not
even an individual almond dish or a muffineer remained.
We fell wildly, hilariously into each other’s
arms and began to dance. I don’t know exactly
what it was, but it wasn’t a minute.
Suddenly Clara stopped.
“Oh, Lord, what is it?”
“Supposin’ they’ve dropped some
of it in the path.”
We rushed out and searched the path,
nothing there. We searched the road one
individual almond dish had fallen. I took it and
hammered it beyond recognition and flung it into the
pond. It was criminal, but I did it.
And then we went into the house and danced some more.
We were happy.
Of course we raised an alarm after
sufficient time to carefully dress, and fill the lantern
with oil. Other houses too had been robbed before
we had been visited, but as they were occupied by old
inhabitants, the occupants had nonchalantly gone to
sleep again after surrendering their small change.
Our exploit was quite the sensation. With great
difficulty we assumed the proper public attitude of
shock and despair. The following day I wrote
full particulars to the Insurance Company, with a
demand for the indemnity.
“You’ll never get the full amount,”
“You never do. They’ll
send a man to ask disagreeable questions and to beat
“Let him come.”
Just one week after the event, I opened
an official envelope, extracted a check, gazed at
it with a superior smile and tendered it to Clara by
the tips of my fingers.
“Three thousand dollars!”
cried Clara, without contrition, “three thousand
dollars oh, George!”
There it was three thousand
dollars, without a shred of doubt. Womanlike,
all Clara had to say was:
“Well, was I right about the wedding presents?”
Which remark I had not foreseen.
We shut up house and went to town
next day and began the rounds of the jewelers.
In four days we had expended four-fifths of our money but
with what results! Everything we had longed for,
planned for, dreamed of was ours and everything harmonized.
Two weeks later as, ensconced in our
city house, we moved enraptured about our new-found
home, gazing at the reincarnation of our silver, a
telegram was put in my hand.
“What is it?” said Clara
from the dining-room, where she was fondling our chaste
Queen Anne teaset.
“It’s a telegram,” I said, puzzled.
“Open it, then!”
I tore the envelope, it was from the Insurance Company.
“Our detectives have arrested
the burglars. You will be overjoyed to hear that
we have recovered your silver in toto!”