Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania is a gay novel by Bayard Taylor (1825-1878).
Young Joseph Aster marries a wealthy woman just as he is discovering an even more powerful love with his new friend Philip Held. Joseph must contend with the revelation of his wife's manipulative nature as well as his increasing feelings for Philip.
Small excerpt of the novel :
Rachel Miller was not a little surprised when her nephew Joseph came to the supper-table, not from the direction of the barn and through the kitchen, as usual, but from the back room up stairs, where he slept. His work-day dress had disappeared ; he wore his best Sunday suit, put on with unusual care, and there were faint pomatum odors in the air when he sat down to the table.
Her face saidand she knew it asplain as any words, "What in the world does this mean?" Joseph, she saw, endeavored to look as though coming down to supper in that costume were his usual habit; so she poured out the tea in silence. Her silence, however, was eloquent; a hundred interrogation-marks would not have expressed its import; and Dennis, the hired man, who sat on the other side of the table, experienced very much the same apprehension of something forthcoming, as when he had killed her favorite speckled hen by mistake.
Before the meal was over, the tension between Joseph and his aunt had so increased by reason of their mutual silence, that it was very awkward and oppressive to both; yet neither knew how to break it easily. There is always a great deal of unnecessary reticence in the intercourse of country people, and in the case of these two it had been specially strengthened by the want of every relationship except that of blood. They were quite ignorant of the fence, the easy thrust and parry of society, where talk becomes an art; silence or the bluntest utterance were their alternatives, and now the one had neutralized the other. Both felt this, and Dennis, in his dull way, felt it too. Although not a party concerned, he was uncomfortable, yet also internally conscious of a desire to laugh...