Caudle has been made a Mason

by Douglas Jerrold

Now, Mr. Caudle—Mr. Caudle, I say: oh! you can't be asleep already, I know. Now, what I mean to say is this: there's no use, none at all, in our having any disturbance about the matter; but at last my mind's made up, Mr. Caudle; I shall leave you. Either I know all you've been doing to-night, or to-morrow morning I shall quit the house. No, no! There's an end of the marriage state, I think—and an end of all confidence between man and wife—if a husband's to have secrets and keep 'em all to himself. Pretty secrets they must be, when his own wife can't know 'em. Not fit for any decent person to know, I'm sure, if that's the case. Now, Caudle, don't let us quarrel, there's a good soul: tell me, what's it all about? A pack of nonsense, I daresay; still—not that I care much about it—still, I should like to know. There's a dear. Eh? Oh, don't tell me there's nothing in it; I know better. I'm not a fool, Mr. Caudle; I know there's a good deal in it. Now, Caudle, just tell me a little bit of it. I'm sure I'd tell you anything. You know I would. Well?

And you're not going to let me know the secret, eh? You mean to say—you're not? Now, Caudle, you know it's a hard matter to put me in a passion—not that I care about the secret itself; no, I wouldn't give a button to know it, for it's all nonsense, I'm sure. It isn't the secret I care about; it's the slight, Mr. Caudle; it's the studied insult that a man pays to his wife, when he thinks of going through the world keeping something to himself which he won't let her know. Man and wife one, indeed! I should like to know how that can be when a man's a Mason—when he keeps a secret that sets him and his wife apart? Ha! you men make the laws, and so you take good care to have all the best of them to yourselves; otherwise a woman ought to be allowed a divorce when a man becomes a Mason—when he's got a sort of corner-cupboard in his heart, a secret place in his mind, that his poor wife isn't allowed to rummage.

Was there ever such a man? A man, indeed! A brute!—yes, Mr. Caudle, an unfeeling, brutal creature, when you might oblige me, and you won't. I'm sure I don't object to your being a Mason; not at all, Caudle; I daresay it's a very good thing; I daresay it is: it's only your making a secret of it that vexes me. But you'll tell me—you'll tell your own Margaret? You won't? You're a wretch, Mr. Caudle.