Trent's Trust and Other Stories HTML version

Mr. Macglowrie's Widow
Very little was known of her late husband, yet that little was of a sufficiently awe-
inspiring character to satisfy the curiosity of Laurel Spring. A man of unswerving
animosity and candid belligerency, untempered by any human weakness, he had been
actively engaged as survivor in two or three blood feuds in Kentucky, and some desultory
dueling, only to succumb, through the irony of fate, to an attack of fever and ague in San
Francisco. Gifted with a fine sense of humor, he is said, in his last moments, to have
called the simple-minded clergyman to his bedside to assist him in putting on his boots.
The kindly divine, although pointing out to him that he was too weak to rise, much less
walk, could not resist the request of a dying man. When it was fulfilled, Mr. MacGlowrie
crawled back into bed with the remark that his race had always "died with their boots on,"
and so passed smilingly and tranquilly away.
It is probable that this story was invented to soften the ignominy of MacGlowrie's
peaceful end. The widow herself was also reported to be endowed with relations of
equally homicidal eccentricities. Her two brothers, Stephen and Hector Boompointer, had
Western reputations that were quite as lurid and remote. Her own experiences of a
frontier life had been rude and startling, and her scalp—a singularly beautiful one of
blond hair—had been in peril from Indians on several occasions. A pair of scissors, with
which she had once pinned the intruding hand of a marauder to her cabin doorpost, was
to be seen in her sitting room at Laurel Spring. A fair-faced woman with eyes the color of
pale sherry, a complexion sallowed by innutritious food, slight and tall figure, she gave
little suggestion of this Amazonian feat. But that it exercised a wholesome restraint over
the many who would like to have induced her to reenter the married state, there is little
reason to doubt. Laurel Spring was a peaceful agricultural settlement. Few of its citizens
dared to aspire to the dangerous eminence of succeeding the defunct MacGlowrie; few
could hope that the sister of living Boompointers would accept an obvious mesalliance
with them. However sincere their affection, life was still sweet to the rude inhabitants of
Laurel Spring, and the preservation of the usual quantity of limbs necessary to them in
their avocations. With their devotion thus chastened by caution, it would seem as if the
charming mistress of Laurel Spring House was secure from disturbing attentions.
It was a pleasant summer afternoon, and the sun was beginning to strike under the laurels
around the hotel into the little office where the widow sat with the housekeeper—a stout
spinster of a coarser Western type. Mrs. MacGlowrie was looking wearily over some
accounts on the desk before her, and absently putting back some tumbled sheaves from
the stack of her heavy hair. For the widow had a certain indolent Southern negligence,
which in a less pretty woman would have been untidiness, and a characteristic hook and
eyeless freedom of attire which on less graceful limbs would have been slovenly. One
sleeve cuff was unbuttoned, but it showed the blue veins of her delicate wrist; the neck of
her dress had lost a hook, but the glimpse of a bit of edging round the white throat made
amends. Of all which, however, it should be said that the widow, in her limp abstraction,
was really unconscious.