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“A hopeless disease
an incurable sorrow, when it seizes on an old man.'
Mr. Weston's voice became tremulous; he even wept. Amy was alarmed; she had never seen her father so moved.
“ Tell me, father, what is the matter? What calamity has befallen you?”
“ The worst calamity that can befall a man; that from which I have so fervently prayed to be spared ; that from which I have labored and toiled to escape; that from which I thought I was secure; that misery which comprehends all others.”
“What -- what is it? O, dear father, speak! tell me!” cried Amy, almost breathless with fear; "tell me, I beseech you!”
“Poverty in my old age!” groaned out the
“ And is that all, father?” exclaimed Amy. “ Thank God, if that is all! I feared something much worse.”
“ And what worse than that could happen to your father, Amy? Is there any greater misery than poverty, which could befall a man of my standing in society ? "
“ Yes, father ; disgrace is worse. I did fear, from what you said, that some evil suspicion of wrong-doing had fallen on your old age."
“ And is not poverty a disgrace to a man who has always held the place that I have in the world? Will it not be a shame to me, to be standing in the street, with you, my only daughter, on my arm, covered with the dust from the carriages of the mushroom gentry,
who were once so glad to take their hats off, as we passed in ours? Will not you feel mortified and degraded ?"
“ No, father ; I can never feel that either you or I are disgraced by poverty, or be ashamed of the dust that falls upon me from any one's carriage. If we have our lives and health, father, and our honest name, we surely will not despair. Father, I feel so greatly relieved at finding that this is all, that it almost seems to me now as if no real misfortune had befallen us. If I could only make you feel so too!”
“ You never can, Amy. I see nothing but starvation and misery before us.”
No, no, father; the small property I inherited from my mother will keep us from starving; and you do not know what a good economist I can be. Only do not despair, father, and we will yet be as happy as we have ever been."
“Never! never !” said her father. one of the many victims of this miserable republicanism. Where the swinish multitude can
6 I am in con
make laws and repeal them at their pleasure, there is no security for property. One man after another has failed, who owed me money, sequence of the absurd policy of our government. I am worth almost nothing. What is left will not much more than pay my debts. I must sell my houses, and horses, and carriages, and live in the most economical way possible ; and, but for your mother's property, I don't know but you would have to dress in factory cotton.”
“If I can only see you happy, father, I shall not think of what material my dress is made.”
“ You will never see me happy again. I have spent my whole life in securing, as I supposed, a property which would put you and myself entirely above want - indeed, I hoped, in affluence, and establish you in society as the daughter of a man of my standing ought to be established; and here all my hopes are swept away in a moment, and I am left for the world to pity, and pass by, and soon forget.”
Amy found it was vain to reason with her father. He considered her ideas of happiness romantic and childish. She could not appeal to his religious feelings, for she knew that his gratitude to God, of which he often spoke, in the days of his prosperity, was founded upon the idea, that he himself was peculiarly favored. He had hitherto viewed the Creator as a partial, not as a just Being. He did not love him because he was the Father and Benefactor of all, but because he thought he had a particular love for himself, and had given to him more than to his other children. Now, when he was stripped of the many-colored coat with which his self-love fancied he had been clothed, he thought the love which gave it was gone too ; and his faith and gratitude were gone with it. He no longer talked of the designs of Providence; he began to doubt if there was one. Amy listened patiently to his complaints, and tried, by the most watchful tenderness, to soothe his sufferings; but she soon saw that he would not be comforted. The habits of activity, industry, and economy, which she had cultivated for the last year, in order to be able to do good to the poor, consistently with all her other duties, were now of the greatest service to her. These habits enabled her to assist her father in the change in their mode of life, which their altered circumstances made necessary.
They took a small house, and adopted an entirely different style of living. Amy retained Ruth for their only domestic. In all their arrangements, she took care that her father's comfort should be especially consulted. All the sacrifices she managed should, as far as possible, fall upon herself; all the indulgences that she thought they could allow themselves were for his comfort. Her father had gradually acquired the habit, from seeing Amy so efficient, of consulting her about everything. All his affairs were now known to her. The amount of his income, (when all his debts were paid,) with what her own little property supplied, amounted to a sufficient sum to enable them to live in comfort, and allowed them some few of the luxuries of life.
“I think, Amy,” said Mr. Weston, “that you might keep two domestics, a man and a woman ; and that you might afford a fire in your bed-room; and that you might also have retained your copy of Audubon's birds."
“We could not have every thing, father; and there is one luxury of more importance to me than either of those, and which would give me far more pleasure to retain ; and that, with your consent, I should like to be indulged in."
“And what is that, Amy?”
“ Provided you will ride him, so as to keep him in health, I should rather not part with Robinette.”