The Model Husband
By Fanny Fern             1851 (her first published article)

    His Pocket-Book is never empty when his wife calls for money. He sits up in his bed, at night, feeding Thomas Jefferson Smith with a pap spoon, while his wife takes a comfortable nap and dreams of the new shawl she means to buy at Warren's the next day. As "one good turn deserves another," he is allowed to hold Tommy again before breakfast, while Mrs. Smith curls her hair. He never makes any complaints about the soft molasses gingerbread that is rubbed into his hair, coat and vest, during these happy, conjugal seasons. He always laces on his wife's boots, lest the exertion should make her too read in the face before going out to promenade Washington St. He never calls any woman "pretty," before Mrs. Smith. He never makes absurd objections to her receiving bouquets, or the last novel, from Captain this, or Lieutenant that. He don't set his teeth and stride down to the store like a victim every time his wife presents him with another little Smith. He gives the female Smiths French gaiter boots, parasols, and silk dresses without stint, and the boys, new jackets, pop guns, velocipedes and crackers, without any questions asked. He never breaks the seal of his wife's billet doux, or peeps over her shoulder while she is answering the same. He nver holds the drippings of the umbrella over her new bonnet while his last new hat is innocent of a rain-drop. He never complains when he is late home to dinner, though the little Smiths have left him nothing but bones and crusts.
     He never takes the newspaper and reads it, before Mrs. Smith has a chance to run over the advertisements, deaths, and marriages, etc. He always gets into bed first, cold nights, to take off the chill for his wife. He never leaves his trousers, drawers, shoes, etc. on the floor when he goes to bed, for his wife to break her neck over, in the dark, if the baby wakes and needs a dose of Paregoric. If the children in the next room scream in the night, he don't expect his wife to take an air-bath to find out what is the matter. He has been known to wear Mrs. Smith's night-cap in bed, to make the baby think he is its mother.
     When he carries the children up to be christened, he holds them right end up, and don't tumble their frocks. When the minister asks him the name--he says "Lucy--sir," distinctly, that he need not mistake it for Lucifer. He goes home and trots the child, till the sermon is over, while his wife remains in church to receive the congratulations of the parish gossips.
     If Mrs. Smith has company to dinner and there are not strawberries enough, and his wife looks at him with a sweet smile, and offers to help him, (at the same time kicking him gently with her slipper under the table) he always replies, "No, I thank you, dear, they don't agree with me."
     Lastly, he approves of "Bloomers" and "pettiloons," for he says women will do as they like--he should as soon think of driving the nails into his own coffin, as trying to stop them--"cosy?"--it's unpossible!

more articles by Fanny Fern