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Copy-Cat and Other Stories
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
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The Balking Of Christopher
THE spring was early that year. It was only the last of March, but the trees were filmed
with green and paling with promise of bloom; the front yards were showing new grass
pricking through the old. It was high time to plow the south field and the garden, but
Christopher sat in his rockingchair beside the kitchen window and gazed out, and did
absolutely nothing about it.
Myrtle Dodd, Christopher's wife, washed the breakfast dishes, and later kneaded the
bread, all the time glancing furtively at her husband. She had a most old-fashioned
deference with regard to Christopher. She was always a little afraid of him. Sometimes
Christopher's mother, Mrs. Cyrus Dodd, and his sister Abby, who had never married,
reproached her for this attitude of mind. "You are entirely too much cowed down by
Christopher," Mrs. Dodd said.
"I would never be under the thumb of any man," Abby said.
"Have you ever seen Christopher in one of his spells?" Myrtle would ask.
Then Mrs. Cyrus Dodd and Abby would look at each other. "It is all your fault, mother,"
Abby would say. "You really ought not to have allowed your son to have his own head so
"You know perfectly well, Abby, what I had to contend against," replied Mrs. Dodd, and
Abby became speechless. Cyrus Dodd, now deceased some twenty years, had never
during his whole life yielded to anything but birth and death. Before those two primary
facts even his terrible will was powerless. He had come into the world without his
consent being obtained; he had passed in like manner from it. But during his life he had
ruled, a petty monarch, but a most thorough one. He had spoiled Christopher, and his
wife, although a woman of high spirit, knew of no appealing.
"I could never go against your father, you know that," said Mrs. Dodd, following up her
"Then," said Abby, "you ought to have warned poor Myrtle. It was a shame to let her
marry a man as spoiled as Christopher."
"I would have married him, anyway," declared Myrtle with sudden defiance; and her
mother-inlaw regarded her approvingly.
"There are worse men than Christopher, and Myrtle knows it," said she.
"Yes, I do, mother," agreed Myrtle. "Christopher hasn't one bad habit."