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“ Why should I voluntarily resign them, Edward? What makes you so enigmatical ? Tell
mean.' Suppose that all the money, which enables us to indulge ourselves in these luxuries, is not truly our own; what would you have me do,
Amy ? "
“Is it you, Edward, that asks me whether I would keep that which belongs to another ?
Is it you that asks me whether I would be dishonest ?”
“But suppose, according to the law of the land, and the customs of society, and the tacit consent of those most interested, this property was secured to you ?
“When I am satisfied,” said Amy, “that I can plead the law of the land, the customs of society, and the opinions of the world, before the judgment-seat of God, as an excuse for violating that higher law, which he has written on my heart when I have placed the opinion of the world in the scales against my own self-respect, and found it the weightiest, then, Edward, I might hesitate. But why ask me such questions? Why do you not speak plainly ?"
“I will, Amy," answered her husband. « When I failed in business, before our marriage, I made a settlement with my creditors, by which Of late, my
I paid them seventy-five cents on a dollar. They knew that I paid them all I had, and signed a full release from all further claims. mind has been troubled about those debts; for such I consider them. A few days since, one of my old creditors came to ask me to take his son, a lad about fourteen
into He mentioned, in the course of conversation, that he had intended to send his son to college, for the boy had a thirst for learning ; that he was, in fact, fitted to enter; but that he found he was too poor. “If,” said the father,“ by denying myself every thing but the necessaries of life, I could feed my boy's mind, I would thankfully do it; but I cannot honestly indulge myself even in this luxury.” I felt smitten to the heart. When I failed, I owed that man twelve thousand dollars. I paid him but nine. I now, of course, owe him three. That sum, with the interest upon it, would enable him to give his son the advantage which he so much desires. I have been thinking over the whole subject, and studying it fairly. Dymond's Essay would satisfy me, if I were not convinced before, of what is right."
“ And you will of course do it, Edward ; there can be no doubt."
“I knew that you would say so, Amy; but you must think it over calmly. You know, upon the subject of property, as well as other things, we have no mine and thine ; as we have one interest and duty, so we have equal rights. I cannot take this step without your full approbation and consent.”
“ Is that all that has troubled you for these few days past ? ” said Amy, as she looked into her husband's face, with an expression of joyful relief.
“ All," said Edward.
“And why not speak to me at first about it? Why not let me share
trouble as it rises ?"
“O, Amy, I felt it only on your account. I hated to deprive you of all these luxuries. You know with what delight I see you doing good, real good, with money.”
“ Never again, Edward, do me the injustice to suppose that I prefer the lower virtue of charity to the higher one of justice. Let me not be acknowledged as your equal only in the cheap and easy duties and pleasures of life; but trust in me, as your helpmate, in the higher and more arduous exercises of virtue. I love all the refined pleasures which wealth can give; I enjoy, highly enjoy all these luxuries, with which we are surrounded; but, Edward, what are they, compared with the unspeakable thrill of joy, with which the noble soul can cast them all aside, as the slight, the paltry purchase-money of an infinite satisfaction of this never-silent monitor within ? You did not doubt me, surely, Edward ? ”
“No, dear Amy,” said Edward, “I did not; I never could doubt you. I ought to have spoken to you every thought as it arose in my mind. As soon as my moral sense was awakened to my duty, I ought to have opened my heart to you. But it is so painful to me, not to be able to give you every thing that you can desire, and you seemed so perfectly happy!”
“It is simply a choice between pleasures, Edward ; and, as we cannot have all, we will choose the highest and most enduring. Think of the happiness that you can confer upon others, by this simple act of justice !”
“ There is your father, too, Amy. The thought of him has been, perhaps, the greatest pain to me; for I knew you would feel justly; but his free consent to our marriage was founded upon the belief that I was rich; and when he hears of our determination, it will seem to him like mere folly and childishness. It will give him unmingled pain. I am grieved for him.”
“ So am I,” said Amy. “ He can enjoy none of the pleasure of this sacrifice. He will even think we do wrong.
It is the only real evil
SKETCHES OF MARRIED LIFE.
belonging to the case.
for him. But we must bear that too ; and we will bear it all bravely, Edward. What is it, after all, but relinquishing what we have no right what, in fact, we have enjoyed at the expense of the rights and happiness of others ? And the sooner we make restitution, the happier we shall be ourselves."