The Magic Egg and Other Stories
"His Wife's Deceased Sister"
It is now five years since an event occurred which so colored my life, or rather so
changed some of its original colors, that I have thought it well to write an account of it,
deeming that its lessons may be of advantage to persons whose situations in life are
similar to my own.
When I was quite a young man I adopted literature as a profession, and having passed
through the necessary preparatory grades, I found myself, after a good many years of
hard and often unremunerative work, in possession of what might be called a fair literary
practice. My articles, grave, gay, practical, or fanciful, had come to be considered with a
favor by the editors of the various periodicals for which I wrote, on which I found in time
I could rely with a very comfortable certainty. My productions created no enthusiasm in
the reading public; they gave me no great reputation or very valuable pecuniary return;
but they were always accepted, and my receipts from them, at the time to which I have
referred, were as regular and reliable as a salary, and quite sufficient to give me more
than a comfortable support.
It was at this time I married. I had been engaged for more than a year, but had not been
willing to assume the support of a wife until I felt that my pecuniary position was so
assured that I could do so with full satisfaction to my own conscience. There was now no
doubt in regard to this position, either in my mind or in that of my wife. I worked with
great steadiness and regularity, I knew exactly where to place the productions of my pen,
and could calculate, with a fair degree of accuracy, the sums I should receive for them.
We were by no means rich, but we had enough, and were thoroughly satisfied and
Those of my readers who are married will have no difficulty in remembering the peculiar
ecstasy of the first weeks of their wedded life. It is then that the flowers of this world
bloom brightest; that its sun is the most genial; that its clouds are the scarcest; that its
fruit is the most delicious; that the air is the most balmy; that its cigars are of the highest
flavor; that the warmth and radiance of early matrimonial felicity so rarefy the
intellectual atmosphere that the soul mounts higher, and enjoys a wider prospect, than
These experiences were mine. The plain claret of my mind was changed to sparkling
champagne, and at the very height of its effervescence I wrote a story. The happy thought
that then struck me for a tale was of a very peculiar character, and it interested me so
much that I went to work at it with great delight and enthusiasm, and finished it in a
comparatively short time. The title of the story was "His Wife's Deceased Sister," and
when I read it to Hypatia she was delighted with it, and at times was so affected by its
pathos that her uncontrollable emotion caused a sympathetic dimness in my eyes which
prevented my seeing the words I had written. When the reading was ended and my wife
had dried her eyes, she turned to me and said, "This story will make your fortune. There
has been nothing so pathetic since Lamartine's `History of a Servant Girl.'"