Timothy Shay Arthur, 1854
"Really, this is comfortable!" said I, glancing around the handsomely furnished parlor of my young friend Mr. Brainard, who had, a few weeks before, ventured upon matrimony, and was now making his first experiments in housekeeping.
"Yes, it is comfortable," replied my friend. "The fact is, I go in for comforts."
"I'm afraid George is a little extravagant," said the smiling bride, as she leaned towards her husband and looked tenderly into his face.
"No, not extravagant, Anna," he returned; "all I want is to have things comfortable. Comfort I look upon as one of the necessities of life, to which all are entitled. Don't you?"
I was looking at a handsome new rose-wood piano when this question was addressed to me, and thinking about its probable cost.
"We should all make the best of what we have," I answered, a little evasively; "and seek to be as comfortable as possible under all circumstances."
"Exactly. That's my doctrine," said Brainard. "I'm not rich, and therefore don't expect to live in a palace, and have everything around me glittering with silver and gold; but, out of the little I possess, shall endeavor to obtain the largest available dividend of comfort. Aren't I right?"
"You speak coldly," said my friend. "Don't you agree with me? Should not every man try to be as comfortable as his means will permit?"
"Of course he should. Some men set a value upon money above everything else, and sacrifice all comfort to its accumulation; but I don't belong to that class. Money is a good gift, because it is the means of procuring natural blessings. I receive it thankfully, and use it wisely. You see how I am beginning life."
"Well, what do you think of it?"
By this time my observation of things had become more particular, and I saw many evidences of expenditures that indicated a lavish spirit.
"What rent do you pay?" I asked.
"Three hundred a year."
I shook my head.
"Too much?" said Brainard.
"I think so."
"Perhaps it is a little high. But you can't get a genteel, comfortable house, in a good neighborhood, for anything less."
As it was my first visit to the young couple, who were but a few weeks past their honeymoon, I did not feel like questioning the propriety of my friend's conduct to the serious extent he was about involving himself; and so evaded replying to this excuse for taking at least a hundred dollars more rent upon himself, than he was justified in doing by his circumstances, he being simply a clerk, with a salary of one thousand dollars a year.
"Rents are high," was my apparently indifferent answer.
"Too high," said he. "A man who wants a pleasant house has to pay for it. This is my experience."
The subject of conversation changed; I passed an agreeable evening; at the close of which I left my friend and his lovely young bride in their comfortable home.
What I had seen and heard during the few hours spent with Mr. Brainard, made me fear that he was about committing a too common error. His ideas of comfort were not in keeping with his circumstances. Some days following this, I saw my friend and his wife riding out in a handsome vehicle, drawn by a mirthful horse.
"Taking their comfort," said I, as I paused and looked upon the happy young couple.
Not long after, I saw them dashing off again to enjoy an afternoon's ride. Next, I met them at a fashionable concert.
"Have you been to the opera yet?" asked Brainard, leaning forward to the seat that I occupied just in front of him.
"No," was my answer.
"Then there is a treat in store for you. We go twice, and sometimes oftener, every week. Truffi, Benedetti, Rosi — oh! they are enchanting."
"Rather expensive," said I.
"It does cost something," and Brainard shrugged his shoulders. "But I think it's money well spent. You know that I go in for the comforts of life."
And he leaned back, while I thought I perceived a slight shadow flit across his face. A singer came forward at the moment, and no more was said.
"It is possible," thought I, "in seeking after comfort — to get into the wrong road. I am afraid my young friends are committing this error."
I not only suggested as much to Brainard soon afterwards, but actually presented a serious remonstrance against the course of life he had adopted. But he only smiled at the fears I expressed, and said that he understood perfectly the nature of the ground he was treading. Thus it is with most young people. Be their views true or false — they act upon them, in spite of all counsel from the more experienced, and in the end reap their harvest of trouble or pleasure, as the case may be. Pride, which stimulates the desire to make a certain appearance in the world, is generally more at fault, than a wish to secure the comforts of which my friend talked so much.
I had another acquaintance, by the name of Tyler, who was married about the same time with Brainard. His tastes were as well cultivated as those of the former, and his income was as large; yet, in beginning the world, he had shown more prudence and a wise forethought. I found him in a small, neat house, at a rent of one hundred and seventy dollars. His furniture was not costly, but in good taste and keeping with the house and his circumstances. As for real comfort, as far as I could see, the preponderance was rather in his favor.
"This is really comfortable," said I, glancing around the room in which he received me on the occasion of my first visit.
"We think so," replied my friend, smiling.
"Nothing very elegant, but as good as we can afford, and with that we have made up our minds to be content."
"If all the world were as wise — all the world would be happier," I remarked.
"Perhaps so," returned Tyler. "Brainard tried to get me into a house like the one he occupies; but I thought it more prudent to cut my garment according to my cloth. The larger your house, the more costly your furniture and the higher your regular expenses. He talked about having things comfortable, as he called it, and enjoying life as he went along; but it would be poor comfort for me to know that I was five or six hundred dollars in debt, and all the while living beyond my income."
"In debt? What do you mean by that?" said I. "It isn't possible that Brainard has gone in debt for any of his fine furniture?"
"It is very possible."
"To the extent of five or six hundred dollars?"
"Yes. The rose-wood piano he bought for his wife cost four hundred dollars. It was purchased on six months' credit."
"Foolish young man!" said I.
"You may well say that. He thinks a great deal about the comforts of life; but he is going the wrong way to secure them, in my opinion. His parlor furniture, including the new piano, cost nearly one thousand dollars; mine cost three hundred; and I'm sure I would not exchange comforts with him. It isn't what is around us — so much as what is within us, which produces pleasure. A contented mind is said to be a continual feast. If, in seeking to have things comfortable, we create causes of disquietude — we defeat our own ends."
"I wish our friend Brainard could see things in the same light," said I.
"Nothing but painful experience will open his eyes," remarked Tyler.
And he was correct in this. Brainard continued to take his comfort for a few months, although there was a gradual sinking in the thermometer of his feelings as the time approached when the notes given for a part of his furniture would fall due. The amount of these notes was six hundred dollars, but he had not saved fifty towards meeting the payments. The whole of his income had been used in taking his comfort.
"Why, Mr. Brainard!" said I, in a tone of surprise, on meeting him one day, nearly six months after his marriage. "What has happened?"
"Happened? Nothing. Why do you ask?" replied the young man.
"You look troubled."
"Do I?" He made an effort to smile.
"Yes, you certainly do. What has gone wrong with you?"
"Oh, nothing." And he tried to assume an air of indifference; but, seeing me look incredulous, he added —
"Nothing particularly wrong. I'm only a little worried about money matters. The fact is, I've got two or three notes to pay next week."
"Yes; and what is more, I haven't the means to pay them."
"That is trouble," said I, shaking my head.
"It's trouble for me. Oh, dear! I wish my income were larger. A thousand dollars a year is too little."
"Two people ought to live on that sum very comfortably," I remarked.
"We can't, then; and I'm sure we are not extravagant. Ah, me!"
"I spent the evening with our friend Tyler last week," said I. "His salary is the same as yours, and he told me that he found it not only sufficient for all his needs, but that he could save a couple of hundred dollars yearly."
"I couldn't live as he does," said Brainard, a little impatiently.
"Do you think I would be cooped up in such a pigeon-box of a place?"
"The house he lives in has six rooms, and he has but three in family — your own number, I presume" —
"I have four," said Brainard, interrupting me.
"Yes. We have a cook and chambermaid."
"Oh! Mrs. Tyler has but one servant."
"My wife wasn't brought up to be a household drudge," said Brainard, contemptuously.
"Your house has ten rooms in it, I believe?" said I, avoiding a reply to his last remark.
"But why should you pay rent for ten rooms, when you have use for only five or six? Is not that a waste of money that might be applied to a better purpose?"
"Oh, I like a large house," said my friend, tossing his head, and putting on an air of dignity and consequence. "A hundred dollars difference in rent, is a small matter compared with the increase of comfort it brings."
"But the expense doesn't stop with the additional rent," said I.
"The larger the house — the more expensive the furniture. It cost you a thousand dollars to fit up your handsome parlor?" said I.
"Yes, I presume it did."
"For what amount did you give your notes?"
"For six hundred dollars."
"On account of furniture?"
"Tyler furnished his parlor for three hundred."
There was another gesture of impatience on the part of my young friend, as he said —
"And such furnishing!"
"Everything looks neat and comfortable," I replied.
"It may do for them, but it wouldn't suit us."
"Whatever is accordant with our means — should be made to suit us," said I, seriously. "You are no better off than Tyler."
"Do you think I could content myself in such a place?" he replied.
"Contentment is only found in the external circumstances that correspond to a man's financial ability," was my answer to this. "Who, do you think, is best contented? Tyler, in a small house, neatly furnished, and with a hundred dollars in his pocket — or you, in your large house, with a debt of six hundred dollars hanging over you?"
There was an instant change in my friend's countenance. The question seemed to startle him. He sighed, involuntarily.
"But all this won't pay my notes," said he, after the silence of a few minutes. "Good morning!"
Poor fellow! I felt sorry for him. He had been buying comfort at rather too large a price.
The more Brainard cast about in his mind for the means of paying his notes — the more troubled did he become.
"I might borrow," said he to himself; "but how am I to pay back the sum?"
To borrow, however, was better than to let his notes be dishonored. So Brainard, as the time of payment drew nearer and nearer, made an effort to get from his friends the amount of money needed.
But the effort was not successful. Some looked surprised when he spoke of having notes to pay; others ventured a little good advice on the subject of prudence in young men who are beginning the world, and hinted that he was living rather too luxuriously. None were prepared to give him what he needed.
Troubled, mortified, and humbled, Brainard retired to his comfortable home on the evening before the day on which his note given for the piano was to fall due. Nearly his last effort to raise money had been made, and he saw nothing but discredit, and what he feared even worse than that before him. Involved as he was in debt, there was no safety from the sharp talons of the law. They might strike him at any moment, and involve all in ruin.
Poor Mr. Brainard! How little pleasure did the sight of his large and pleasant house give him — as it came in view on his return home. It stood, rather as a monument of extravagance and folly, than the abode of sweet contentment.
"Three hundred dollars rent!" he murmured. "Too much for me to pay." And sighed deeply.
He entered his beautiful parlor, and gazed around upon the elegant furniture which he had provided as a means of comfort. All had lost its power to communicate pleasure. There stood the costly piano, once coveted and afterwards admired. But it possessed no charm to soothe the troubled spirit within him. He had bought it as a marriage present for his wife, who had little taste for music, and who preferred reading or sewing to the blandishment of sweet sounds. And for this toy — it was little more in his family — a debt of four hundred dollars had been created. Had it brought him an equivalent in comfort? Far, very far from it.
As Brainard stood in his elegant parlor, with troubled heart and troubled face — his wife came in with a light step.
"George!" she exclaimed on seeing him, her countenance falling and her voice expressing anxious concern. "What is the matter? Are you sick?"
"Oh, no!" he replied, affecting a lightness of tone.
"But something is the matter, George," said the young wife, as she laid her hand upon him and looked earnestly into his face. "Something troubles you."
"Nothing of any consequence. A mere trifle," returned Brainard, evasively.
"A mere trifle would not cloud your brow as it was clouded a moment ago, George."
"Trifles sometimes affect us, more seriously than graver matters." As Brainard said this, the shadows again deepened on his face.
"If you have any troubles, dear, let me share them, and they will be lighter." Anna spoke with much tenderness.
"I hardly think your sharing my present trouble will lighten it," said Brainard, forcing a smile, "unless, in so doing, you can put some four hundred dollars into my empty pockets!"
Anna withdrew a pace from her husband, and looked at him doubtingly.
"Do you speak in earnest?" said she.
"In truth, I do. Tomorrow I have four hundred dollars to pay; but where the money is to come from, is more than I can tell."
"How in the world has that happened?" inquired Mrs. Brainard.
Involuntarily the eyes of her husband wandered towards the piano. She saw their direction. Her own eyes fell to the floor, and she stood silent for some moments — silent, but hurriedly thoughtful. Then looking up, she said, in a hesitating voice —
"We can do without that." And she pointed towards the piano.
"Without what?" asked Brainard, quickly.
"The piano. It cost four hundred dollars. Sell it."
"Don't mention it, Anna. Sell your piano! It shall never be done."
"But, George" —
"It's no use to talk of that, Anna; I will not listen to it."
And so the wife was silenced.
Little comfort had the young couple that evening, in their finely furnished house. Brainard was silent and thoughtful, while Anna felt the pressure of a heavy weight upon her feelings.
How different was it in the smaller and more plainly attired dwelling of Tyler! There was comfort, and there were peace and contentment — her smiling handmaids.
On the next morning, Brainard found it impossible to conceal from his wife the great anxiety he felt. She said very little to him, for his trouble was of a kind for which she could suggest no remedy. After he parted with her at the door, she returned and sat down in one of the parlors to think. The piano was before her, and back to that, her thoughts at length came. It was not only a beautiful instrument, but one of great excellence. Often had it been admired by her friends, and particularly by a lady who had several times expressed a wish to own one exactly like it in every respect.
"I wish you would let me have that piano," the lady had said to her not a week before; and said it as much in earnest, as in jest.
"I wonder if she really would buy it?" mused Mrs. Brainard. "I don't need so fine an instrument. My old piano is a very good one — and is useless at father's. Oh! if I could only get George the four hundred dollars he needs so badly!"
And she struck her hands together as her thoughts grew earnest on the subject. For more than an hour, the mind of Mrs. Brainard gave itself up to this one idea. Then she dressed herself and went out. Without consulting anyone, she called upon the lady to whom reference has been made.
"Mrs. Aiken," said she, coming at once to the point, "you have often remarked that you would like to own that piano of mine. Were you really in earnest?"
"In earnest? Certainly I was." Mrs. Aiken smiled, at the same time that a slight expression of surprise came into her face. "It's one of the finest instruments I ever touched."
"It's for sale," said Mrs. Brainard, in a firm, business-like way. "So there is a chance for you to call it your own."
"For sale! Why do you say that, Anna?"
"It's too costly an instrument for me to own. My old piano is a very good one — quite good enough for all my purposes."
"But this is your husband's wedding-gift, if I remember rightly?"
"I know it is; but the gift was too costly a one for a young man whose salary is only a thousand dollars a year."
"Then he wishes to sell it."
"No, indeed, not he!"
"And would you sell it without consulting him?" said Mrs. Aiken.
"Such is my intention."
"He might be very much displeased."
"No matter; I would soon smooth his frowning brow. But, Mrs. Aiken, we won't discuss that matter. The instrument is to be sold. Do you want it?"
"Very well. Are you prepared to buy it?"
"Perhaps so. It cost four hundred dollars?"
"What is your price?"
"Then you make no deduction?" said Mrs. Aiken, smiling.
"I wouldn't like to do that. It's as good as new. If I can sell it, I want to be able to put in my husband's hands, just what he paid for it."
"Oh, then you want the money for your husband?"
"Certainly, I do. What use have I for four hundred dollars?"
"You've come just in time, Anna," said Mrs. Aiken. "I arranged with my husband to meet him this morning, at his store, to go and look at some pianos. But if yours is really for sale, we have no occasion to take any further trouble."
"It is for sale, Mrs. Aiken. Understand this."
"Very well. When do you want the money?"
"I don't know about that. However, I will see Mr. Aiken immediately."
"Shall I wait here for you?"
"You may do so — or I will call at your house."
"Do that, if you please."
"Very well. In an hour, at most, I will see you."
The two ladies then parted.
When Mr. Brainard left his house that morning, he felt wretched. Where — how was he to get four hundred dollars? To go to the party from whom he had bought the piano, and confess that he was not able to pay for it, had in it something so humiliating, that he could not bear the thought for a moment. But if the note was not paid — what then? Might not the instrument be demanded? And how could he give it up now? Or, worse, might it not be seized under execution?
"Oh, that I had never bought it!" he at length exclaimed, mentally, in the bitterness of his feelings. And then he half chid himself for the extorted declaration.
Nearly the whole of the morning was spent in the vain attempt to borrow the needed sum. But there was no one to lend him four hundred dollars. At length, in his desperation, he forced himself to apply for a quarter's advance of salary.
"No doubt," said he, within himself, "that the holder of the note will take two hundred and fifty dollars on the account, and give me time on the balance."
About the ways and means of living for the next three months, after absorbing his salary in advance, he did not pause to think. He was just in that state of mind in which he could say, with feeling, "Sufficient unto the day, is the evil thereof." Unhappily, his effort to raise money by this expedient failed. His application was received coldly, and in a way to mortify him exceedingly.
Half desperate, and half despairing, Brainard started for his home about one o'clock, his usual hour for dining. What was he to do? He turned his thoughts to the right and to the left, groping about like a man in the dark. But no light broke in upon his mental vision.
"It will not do to meet Anna in this way," said he, as he approached his own door. "I left her with a troubled countenance in the morning. Now I must force an assumed cheerfulness."
He entered, and was moving along the hallway, when Anna came out through one of the parlor doors to meet him, and drawing her arm through his, said, in a lively tone —
"Come, George, I want to play for you a favorite piece. I've been practicing it for the last hour."
And she drew him into the parlor, and, taking her seat at the piano, commenced running her fingers over the keys. Brainard stood and listened to the music until the piece was finished, trying, but in vain, to feel an interest in the performance.
"How do you like that?" said the wife, with animation, lifting her sparkling eyes to the face of her husband, which was serious, in spite of all he could do to give it a better expression.
"Beautifully performed," replied Brainard.
"And do you really think so?" said Anna, as she arose and leaning on his arm again, drew him into the next room.
"Certainly, I do."
"Didn't you think the instrument a little out of tune?" asked Anna.
"No; it struck me as being in better tune than when you played last evening."
"It's a fine instrument, certainly. I prize it very much."
Brainard sighed faintly.
"Oh! How about your four hundred dollars?" said Anna, as if the thought had just occurred to her. "Did you get the money?"
A change was apparent in the manner of Brainard.
"No, Anna," he replied, with assumed calmness.
"Do you need it badly?"
"Yes, dear. I have four hundred dollars due in the bank today, and every effort to obtain the sum has failed."
"What if I lend it to you?" said the young wife, looking archly into his troubled face.
"You!" he exclaimed, quickly.
"Yes, me. Would you take it as a very great favor?"
"The greatest you could do me just at this time!"
"Very well; here is the money."
And Anna drew a purse of gold from her pocket, and held it before his eyes.
"Anna! What does this mean?"
And Brainard reached his hand to grasp the welcome treasure. But she drew it away quickly, saying, as she did so —
"Certain conditions must go with the loan."
"Name them," was promptly answered by the husband, into whose face the sunshine had already come back.
"One is, that you are not to be angry with me for anything that I have done today."
"What have you done?"
And Brainard glanced around the room with an awakened suspicion.
"I want your promise first."
"You have it."
"But mind you, I am in earnest," said Anna.
"So am I. Now make your confession."
"I sold the piano!"
There was an instant change in the expression of Brainard's face.
"Your promise. Remember," said Anna, in a warning voice.
"Sold the piano!"
And he walked into the next room, Anna moving by his side.
"Yes, I sold it to Mrs. Aiken for four hundred dollars. I had my old piano brought over from father's. This is as good a piano as I want, or you either, I would think, seeing that you perceived no difference in its tones from the one I parted with. Now, take this purse, and if you don't call me the right sort of a wife, you are a very strange man — that is all I have to say."
Surprise kept Brainard silent for some moments. He looked at the piano, then at his wife, and then at the purse of gold — half doubting whether all were real, or only a pleasant dream.
"You are the right sort of a wife, Anna, and no mistake," said he, at length, drawing his arm around her neck and kissing her. "You have done what I had not the courage to do, and, in the act, saved me from a world of trouble. The truth is, I never should have bought that piano. A clerk, with a salary of only a thousand dollars, is not justified in expending four hundred dollars for a piano."
"Nor in having so much costly furniture," said Anna, glancing round the room.
Brainard sighed, for the thought of two hundred dollars yet to pay flitted through his mind.
"Nor in paying three hundred dollars for rent," added Anna.
"Why do you say that?" asked Brainard.
"Because it's the truth. The fact is, George, I'm afraid we're in the wrong road for comfort."
"Perhaps we are," was the young man's constrained admission.
"Then the quicker we get into the right way, the better. Don't you think so?"
"If we are wrong — then we should try to get right," said Brainard.
"It was wrong to buy that piano. This is your own admission."
"We are right again in that respect."
"Yes, thanks to my dear wife's good resolution and prompt action."
"It was wrong to take so costly a house," said Anna.
"I couldn't find a cheaper one that was genteel and comfortable."
"I'm sure I wouldn't ask anything more genteel and comfortable than Mrs. Tyler's house."
Brainard spoke in, a tone of contempt.
"Why, George, how you talk! It's a perfect gem of a house, well built and well finished in every part, and big enough for a family twice as large as ours. I think it far more comfortable than this great barn of a place, and would a thousand times rather live in it. And then it is cheaper by a hundred and twenty dollars a year."
A hundred and twenty dollars! What a large sum of money. Ah, if he had a hundred and twenty dollars in addition to the four hundred received from Anna — how happy he would be! These were the thoughts that were flitting through the mind of Brainard at the mention of the amount that could be saved by taking a smaller house.
"Well, Anna, perhaps you are right. Oh, dear!"
"Why do you sigh so heavily, George?" asked Mrs. Brainard, looking at her husband with some surprise.
"Because I can't help it," was frankly answered.
"You've got the money you needed?"
"Why, George! Didn't you say that you had only four hundred dollars to pay?"
"I didn't say only."
"How much more?"
"The fact is, Anna, I have two hundred dollars yet to meet."
Anna's face became troubled.
"No, not until the day after tomorrow."
The young wife's countenance lighted up again.
"Is that all?"
"Yes, thank Heaven, that is all. But how the payment is to be made, is more than I can tell."
Dinner was now announced.
"I shall have to turn financier again," said Anna, smiling, as she drew her arm within that of her husband, and led him away to the dining-room.
"I'm a little afraid of your financiering," returned her husband, shaking his head. "You might sell me next as a useless piece of furniture!"
"Now, George, that is too bad," replied Anna, looking hurt.
"I only jested, dear," said Brainard, repairing the little wrong done to her feelings with a kiss. "Your past efforts at financiering were admirable, and I only hope your next attempt may be as successful."
Two days more passed, during which time neither Brainard nor his wife said anything to each other about money, although the thoughts of both were busy for most of the time on that interesting subject. Silently sat Brainard at the breakfast-table on the morning of the day when his last note fell due. How was he to meet the payment? Two hundred dollars! He had not so much as fifty dollars in his possession, and as to borrowing, that was a vain hope. Must he go to the holder of the note, and ask a renewal? He shrunk from the thought, murmuring to himself — "Anything but that."
As for getting the required sum through Anna, he did not permit himself to hope very strongly. She had looked thoughtful since their last interview on the subject, and at times, it seemed to him, troubled. It was plain that she had been disappointed in any efforts to get money that she might have made.
"That she, too, should be subject to mortification and painful humiliation!" said he, as his mind dwelt on the subject. "It is too bad — too bad! — Oh, to think that my folly should have had this reaction!"
Anna looked sober as Brainard parted with her after breakfast, and he thought he saw tears in her eyes. As soon as he was gone, she dressed herself, and taking from a handsome jewel-box the presents of her husband — a gold watch and chain, a bracelet, diamond pin, and some other articles of the same kind, left the house.
Two hours afterward, as Brainard sat at his desk trying to fix his mind upon the accounts before him, a note was handed in bearing his address. He broke the seal, and found that it enclosed one hundred and seventy dollars, with these few words from Anna:
"This is the best I can do for you, dear husband. Will it be enough?"
"God bless her!" came half audibly from the lips of Brainard, as he drew forth his pocket-book, in which were thirty dollars. "Yes, it will be enough."
"There is no comfort in owing, or in paying after this fashion," said the young man to himself, as he walked homeward at dinner-time, with his last note in his pocket. "There will have to be a change."
And there was a change. When next I visited my young friend, I found him in a smaller house, looking as comfortable and happy as I could have wished to see him. We talked pleasantly about the errors of the past, and the trouble which had followed as a natural result.
"There is one thing," said Brainard, during the conversation, glancing at his wife as he spoke, "that I have not been able to make out."
"What is that?" asked Mrs. Brainard, smiling.
"Where the last one hundred and seventy dollars you gave me came from."
"Have you missed nothing?" said she, adeptly.
"Nothing," was his reply.
"Been deprived of no comfort?"
"So far from it — I have found a great many new ones."
"And been saved the trouble of winding up and regulating that pretty clock for which you gave forty dollars?"
Brainard fairly started to his feet as he turned to the mantel, and, strange to say, missed, for the first time, the handsome timepiece referred to by his wife!
"Why, Anna, is it possible? Surely that hasn't been gone for two months!"
"Oh, yes, it has."
"Well, that beats all."
And Brainard resumed his chair.
"You've been just as comfortable," said the excellent young woman.
"But you didn't get a hundred and seventy dollars for the timepiece?"
"No. Have you lost any other comfort? Think about it."
Brainard thought, but in vain. Anna glided from the room, and returned in a few moments with her jewel-box.
"Do you miss anything?" said she, as she raised the lid and placed the box in his hands.
"Your watch and chain!"
"You did not sell them?"
"Why, Anna! Did you set no value on your husband's gifts?"
There was a slight rebuke in the tone of Brainard. Tears sprang to Anna's eyes, as she answered — "I valued them less than his happiness."
Brainard looked at her for a few moments with an expression of deep tenderness. Then turning to me, he said, in a voice that was unsteady from emotion — "You shall be my judge. Has she done wrong, or right?"
"Right!" I responded, warmly. "Right! thank Heaven, my friend, for giving you a true woman for a wife. There is some hope now of your finding the comfort you sought so vainly in the beginning."
And he has found it — found it in a wise appropriation, of the good gifts of Providence according to his means.