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“ As soon as we were convinced that we had no right to the house and carriage, we could not enjoy them. Honest poverty is, in our opinion, a happier as well as more dignified state than even questionable riches. So don't lament on our account.”
“ But it is so noble in you both! The opinion of the world would entirely bear you out in keeping this property that Mr. Selmar and you have relinquished.”
“ The opinion of the world,” replied Amy, “could not also make us happy in doing so. Mr. Selmar and I both regret that we did not sooner see our duty. It is now nearly a year since he has had it in his power to pay these just debts ; and we feel rather humble on that account.”
66 But Mr. Selmar must suffer much from depriving you of all these luxuries.”
“ He will never, I trust, be so unkind as to separate me, in his thoughts, from himself, or to doubt whether I can bear as cheerfully as he whatever sacrifice duty requires.”
Just then, a domestic entered, and gave Amy a note.
you please,” she said to Mrs. Lovell, “ while I open this letter to my husband, and see if it should be sent to him.'
66 Excuse me,
When Amy had enclosed the letter to her husband, and sent it to him, Mrs. Lovell said, with great surprise in her looks, “What! do you venture to open your husband's letters ? "
“ Surely,” said Amy. “Why not?”
“ But suppose that the letter should contain something that Mr. Selmar would not wish you to know?"
“ That could not be," replied Amy. have one heart, one interest, and, as far as possible, one mind, in every thing. There is no mine and thine between us. Then why not open each other's letters ? We always do so, when there is any reason for it.
I can, indeed, imagine a case in which a strict regard for the rights of others might make it improper ; but, as far as we ourselves are concerned, it is impossible that there should be any objection.”
“ I have, my dear, always been scrupulously careful upon this point. I rarely open even a note of invitation; and to this delicate and watchful respect I owe, I think, much of the unparalleled happiness of my wedded life. Let me warn you, my dear, of the danger of this habit. Few characters can venture to be so transparent. I am better acquainted with men than you
Amy made no answer, but simply changed the conversation.
“ Shall you part, my dear, with any of your domestics ?” asked Mrs. Lovell. “ Yes, two
a man and a woman.” “ Are they trustworthy, and can you recommend them ? "
“ Yes, I can,” replied Amy.
“ But do they know their places, and will they conform to my rules ?”
“ I cannot tell that,” said Amy, “as I do not know what your rules are ; but they can best decide for themselves. Would you like to speak to them?”
“ Not to-day ; I must think of it first. What wages have you paid them, my dear? I always give low wages from principle. High wages spoil servants. If they deserve it, I make it up to them in presents; and it keeps them more under, and has a good effect upon them, to know that they must win your favor by good conduct, or they will lose by it. I think it is setting a bad example, to give women, especially, high wages.”
My views are different,” replied Amy. I think the wages of women too low; and I always pay them the highest, as a matter of right, if they
understand their work, and do it well. I had rather economize some other way.”
The other part of Mrs. Lovells remarks she was too much displeased with to reply to ; but she added, “ You know, my husband and I are true republicans, even radicals, as I suppose you would call us, and desire the abolition of all disgraceful servitude, and therefore encourage the spirit of independence in our domestics."
“0, my dear," said Mrs. Lovell, “this liberty and independence are excellent in the abstract, and highly desirable for those who are sufficiently enlightened to make a right use of them ; but they will never do in practice, particularly with .
It is liberty that spoils our servants. It will ruin the country, Mr. L. says.”
“ We hope better things,” said Amy. “We think that we have not liberty enough yet, and that, when we are consistent republicans, and truly faithful to our institutions, we shall be a truly happy people.”
“ Mr. Lovell thinks otherwise. He says that the prospects of the country are very gloomy," said Mrs. Lovell, as she took her leave.
When Ruth heard from Amy that Mr. Selmar was going to pay his creditors the remainder of what he owed them, and that, in order to do this,
they must move into a smaller house, and reduce their expenses very considerably, her first expression was, “Well, now, if that isn't ridiculous !
we have got fixed, to have to move again! Well, they say a rolling stone gathers no moss.
“ We shall give up our carriage, and part with Nancy and John, Ruth ; but we think we ought to pay this money, though the law does not bind us to it.”
“ And I'm sure, ma'am, I respect you for it; and you
know that no one goes in his own carriage to the grave.
It will be all the same thing a hundred years hence,
whether one has been rich or poor ; but not, I reckon, whether we have done justice to all men, or not; and nobody knows how you and Mr. Selmar would have borne your prosperity. It's hard to carry a full cup even ; and they say that vinegar is the son of wine. Not that there is much wine-drinking in this house either ; but then you might drink it, if you pleased; and I dare say it will all be for the best, in the end, that you can't burn the candle at both ends, even if you had money enough to afford to be so wasteful, which, I am sure, would be ridiculous."