The Magic Egg and Other Stories
Love Before Breakfast
I was still a young man when I came into the possession of an excellent estate. This
consisted of a large country house, surrounded by lawns, groves, and gardens, and
situated not far from the flourishing little town of Boynton. Being an orphan with no
brothers or sisters, I set up here a bachelor's hall, in which, for two years, I lived with
great satisfaction and comfort, improving my grounds and furnishing my house. When I
had made all the improvements which were really needed, and feeling that I now had a
most delightful home to come back to, I thought it would be an excellent thing to take a
trip to Europe, give my mind a run in fresh fields, and pick up a lot of bric-a- brac and
ideas for the adornment and advantage of my house and mind.
It was the custom of the residents in my neighborhood who owned houses and travelled
in the summer to let their houses during their absence, and my business agent and myself
agreed that this would be an excellent thing for me to do. If the house were let to a
suitable family it would yield me a considerable income, and the place would not present
on my return that air of retrogression and desolation which I might expect if it were left
unoccupied and in charge of a caretaker.
My agent assured me that I would have no trouble whatever in letting my place, for it
offered many advantages and I expected but a reasonable rent. I desired to leave
everything just as it stood, house, furniture, books, horses, cows, and poultry, taking with
me only my clothes and personal requisites, and I desired tenants who would come in
bringing only their clothes and personal requisites, which they could quietly take away
with them when their lease should expire and I should return home.
In spite, however, of the assurances of the agent, it was not easy to let my place. The
house was too large for some people, too small for others, and while some applicants had
more horses than I had stalls in my stable, others did not want even the horses I would
leave. I had engaged my steamer passage, and the day for my departure drew near, and
yet no suitable tenants had presented themselves. I had almost come to the conclusion
that the whole matter would have to be left in the hands of my agent, for I had no
intention whatever of giving up my projected travels, when early one afternoon some
people came to look at the house. Fortunately I was at home, and I gave myself the
pleasure of personally conducting them about the premises. It was a pleasure, because as
soon as I comprehended the fact that these applicants desired to rent my house I wished
them to have it.
The family consisted of an elderly gentleman and his wife, with a daughter of twenty or
thereabout. This was a family that suited me exactly. Three in number, no children,
people of intelligence and position, fond of the country, and anxious for just such a place
as I offered them--what could be better?
The more I walked about and talked with these good people and showed them my
possessions, the more I desired that the young lady should take my house. Of course her