Out Of The
Mr. Taggard frowned as he observed the pile of bills by his plate, placed there by his prudent, economical wife, not without an anxious flutter at the heart, in anticipation of the scene that invariably followed. He actually groaned as he read the sum total.
“There must be some mistake, Mary” he said, pushing back his plate, with a desperate air: “it is absolutely impossible for us to have used all these things in one month!”
“The bills are correct, John,” was the meek response; “I looked them over myself.”
“Then one thing is certain, provisions are either wasted, thrown out the window, as it were, or stolen. Jane has relatives in the place, and I haven’t the least doubt but that she supports them out of what she steals.”
Mrs. Taggard’s temper was evidently rising; there were two round crimson spots upon her cheeks, as she tapped her foot nervously upon the floor.
“I am neither wasteful nor extravagant, John. And as for Jane, I know her to be perfectly honest and trustworthy.”
“It is evident that there is a leak somewhere, Mary; and it is your duty as a wife to find out where it is, and stop it. Our bills are perfectly enormous; and if this sort of thing goes on much longer, I shall be bankrupt.”
Mrs. Taggard remained silent, trying to choke down indignant feelings that struggled for utterance.
“You will have to order some coal,” she said, at last; “we have hardly sufficient for the day.”
“Is there anything more, Mrs. Taggard?” inquired her husband; ironically.
“Yes, neither I nor the children are decently or comfortably clothed; all need an entire new outfit.”
“Go on, madam. As I am a man of unlimited means, if you have any other wants, I hope you won’t be at all backward about mentioning them.”
“I don’t intend to be,” was the quiet, but spirited reply. I wouldn’t do for another what I do for you, for double my board and clothing. Both the parlor and the sitting-room need furnishing; everything looks so faded and shabby, that I am ashamed to have any one call. And the stairs need recarpeting, the blinds and the gate need repairing, and the fence needs painting.”
“That can’t be all, Mrs. Taggard. Are you sure there isn’t something else?”
“I don’t think of anything else just now, Mr. Taggard; though there should be a few dollars over and above what these will cost, they won’t come amiss. I should like to have a little change in my pocket, if only for the novelty of the thing. You needn’t fear its being wasted.”
Mr. Taggard was evidently not a little astonished at this sudden outbreak in his usually quiet and patient wife, but who like most women of that stamp, and considerable spirit when it was aroused.
“Now that you are through, Mrs. Taggard, perhaps you will let me say a word. Here is all the money I can spare you this month; so you can make the most of it.”
Laying a roll of bills on the table, Mr. Taggard walked to the door; remarking, just before he closed it, that he should leave town on the next train, to be absent about a week.
The reverie into which Mrs. Taggard fell, as she listened to the sound of his retreating steps, was far from being a pleasant one. Aside from her natural vexation, she felt grieved and saddened by the change that had come over her once kind and indulgent husband. He seemed to be entirely filled with greed and gain, the desire to amass money—not for the sake of the good that it might enable him to enjoy, or confer, but for the mere pleasure of hoarding it. And this miserly feeling grew upon him daily, until he seemed to grudge his family the common comforts of life. And yet Mrs. Taggard knew that he was not only in receipt of a comfortable income from his business, but had laid by a surplus, yearly, ever since their marriage.
She had taxed her ingenuity to save in every possible way, but when the monthly bills were presented the same scene was enacted, only it grew worse and worse.
And this penuriousness extended to himself. He grudged himself, as well as wife and children, clothing suitable to his means and station, and went about looking so rusty and shabby that Mrs. Taggard often felt ashamed of him, inwardly wondering if he was the same man who had wooed and won her.
With a heavy sigh Mrs. Taggard took up the roll of bills upon the table, hoping to find enough to pay what was already due—she did not look for more.
An ejaculation of astonishment burst from her lips as she unrolled the paper in which it was folded. It contained $500 in bills, and a check for $500 more.
With a look of quiet determination in her eyes, Mrs. Taggard arose to her feet. “The family should now have some of the comforts to which they were entitled, if they never did again.”
First, she settled every bill; a heavy weight being lifted from her heart as she did so; besides getting a fresh supply of fuel and other comforts. Her next move was to order new furniture for the sitting-room and parlor, have the hall recarpeted and papered, the broken door-step mended, and the fence and blinds repaired and painted. She then took the children out and got them new garments from hats to shoes. She bought herself three new dresses; a neat gingham for morning wear, a delaine for afternoons, and something nicer for best. And before going home she took the children into a toy-shop; delighting the boy with the skates he had so often asked for, and giving the girl the chief wish of her heart, a doll and doll’s wardrobe—not forgetting some blocks for the baby. For like a wise, as well as kind, mother, Mrs. Taggard desired to make their childhood a happy one; something to look back upon with pleasure through their whole life. Neither was John forgotten; by the aid of some old garments, for a pattern, she got him an entire new suit, together with stuff for dressing-gown and slippers.
The day on which Mrs. Taggard expected her husband’s return was a very busy one; but at last the carpets were down, and the paper hung, and everything in the best of order.
He was expected on the five o’clock train, and Mrs. Taggard set the children, attired in their pretty new dresses, at the window to watch for papa, while she went below to assist Jane in preparing something extra for supper. She had just returned when Mr. Taggard was seen approaching the house.
It looked so different from what it did when he left, that he stared at it in amazement, and would have hesitated about entering, had it not been for the name on the newly burnished door-plate. But he was even more astonished when he entered.
“Am I in my own house, or somebody else’s?” he ejaculated, as he looked around the bright and pleasant room.
“It is the new furniture I have been buying,” said his wife, smiling. “How do you like it?”
“Have you been running me in debt, Mary?”
“Not in the least, John. It was all bought with the money you so generously left me when you went away.”
Mr. Taggard clapped his hand into one of his pockets.
“My goodness!” he exclaimed, in an agitated tone and manner, “I gave it to you out of the wrong pocket!”
Mrs. Taggard did not look at all astonished or disturbed at this announcement; on the contrary, her countenance wore a very smiling and tranquil aspect.
“You don’t mean to say that you’ve spent it?” inquired Mr. Taggard, desperately.
“Why, what else should I do with it, John? You told me to make the most of it; and I rather think I have.”
“I am a ruined man!” groaned Mr. Taggard.
“Not a bit of it, my dear husband,” said his wife, cheerfully; you wouldn’t be ruined if you had given me twice that amount. Besides, I have saved enough for our housekeeping expenses, for three months, at least. I think you had better give me an allowance for that purpose in the future; It will save us both much annoyance.”
The children, who had been led to consider what their mother had bought them as “presents from papa” now they crowded eagerly around him.
Mr. Taggard loved his children, and it would be difficult for anyone having the kind and tender heart that he really possessed, to turn away from the innocent smiles and caresses that were lavished upon him.
It was a smiling group that gathered around the cheerful supper-table. And as Mr. Taggard glance from the gleeful children to the smiling face of his wife, who certainly looked ten years younger, attired in her new and becoming dress, he came to the conclusion that though it might cost something to make his family comfortable, on the whole, it paid.
We do not mean to say that Mr. Taggard was entirely cured; a passion so strong is not easily eradicated. But when the old miserly feeling came over him, and he began to dole out grudgingly the means with which to make his family comfortable, his wife would pleasantly say: “You are taking it out of the wrong pocket, John,! "
—words which seemed to have a magical effect on both heart and purse-strings.
“Let us not deprive ourselves of the comforts of life,” she would often say,” nor grudge our children the innocent pleasures natural to youth, for the purpose of laying up for them the wealth that is, too often, a curse rather than a blessing”
AN INFINITE GIVER.
Think you, when the stars are glinting
Or the moonlights shimmering gleam
Paints the water’s rippled surface
With a coat of silvered sheen—
Think you then that God, the painter
Shows His masterpiece divine
That he will not hang another
Of such beauty on the line?
Think you, when the air is trembling
With the birds’ exultant song
And the blossoms, mutely fragrant
Strive the anthem to prolong—
Think you then that their Creator
At the signal of His word
Fills the earth with such sweet music
As shall ne’er again be heard?
He will never send a blessing
But have greater ones in store
And each oft recurring kindness
Is an earnest of still more
If the earth seems full of glory
As His purposes unfold
There is still a better country--
And the half has not been told.