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and punctual. He was paler than Annie
had ever before seen him, as if internally
agitated; dining in more than his customary
silence; replying only by monosyllables to
all that Annie said, or not replying at all, if
her words were not put in the form of a
direct question. In the evening, while they
sat together in the drawing-room, suddenly
he looked up from his pamphlet on the
Corn Laws, and said:—

"Annie, my mother has lost her fortune.
It is not necessary to enter into the business
details of the matter: besides, you could
not understand them, if I did. It is enough
to tell you that she comes to-morrow to
live with us. Let the best bed-room be given
up to her; and I trust I need not impress
on you the necessity of dutiful and
affectionate attention."

Annie's heart sank. She felt that all
her quiet happiness in her home was at
an end. But she had too high notions of
wifely duty to utter a word of protest. She
merely drooped her eyes over her work, and
said, "Very well, Percy," in her usual calm,
undemonstrative manner. Nothing more was
said; and no one knew that, while she sat
hemming that precious little robe, tears
were silently falling within the shadow of
her curls, steeping the muslin held in her
trembling hand.

Mrs. Clarke was a difficult person to deal
with in a house. Her times and tempers
were contrary to those of most people; and
she had no idea of yielding. Annie's quiet
petinacity irritated her beyond measure.

"God bless the girl!" she used to say,
blazing up in her fierce, passionate way,
"has she no blood in her veins at all, that
she can never be angry, or speak above her
breath?"

But, harsh critic and undisguised contemner
as she was, she did not intend to be
cruel. She was only mean and sour-
tempered. The day after she came, she spoke to
her son about his house-bills: asked how much
he allowed a week, what average he made for
each, and what sum he appropriated for that
future day which, in some people's imaginations,
is always raining furiously. Percy,
over whom his mother exerted a great,
but unacknowledged influence, detailed his
arrangements and position without reserve;
adding up, for her edification, how much
each person in his household was supposed
to cost.

"So much as that? Well! I must say
you are a generous husband, boy! I am sure
your wile has no right to complain! When
I was with your dear father, I had not half
that sum."

"Is it much, mother? I thought it
moderate. I do not think we could manage
on less."

"If not actually on less, then it ought to
include me as well," said the old lady, tartly.

Percy was silent; giving only a little
inquiring hem, as he sat puckering his lips
contemplatively.

"I hope you were not thinking of any
addition on my account. It is bad enough
to be ruined, and forced to come to you
for a home at all: old people are best by
themselves; but it would be intolerable if I
were any extra burden to you."

"I was thinking of allowing six or seven
shillings a-week extra," said Percy, hesitatingly.

"Nonsense, child! your wife must learn
economy: she knows little enough of it now.
I tell youand surely I ought to know; I,
who have kept house these forty years and
moreyou allow quite enough for us all;
and it will be useful to her to learn how to
make the best of everything."

"But she is not very extravagant now,
mother. Is she?"

"Quite extravagantquite! At all events,
take my advice, and make the trial. If
she cannot make it do, she will tell you,
and then you can alter your arrangements.
Take my advice, Percy; you are soon to be
a father, and all that, and you ought to be
doubly careful, considering what expenses
are before you."

"Very well, mother, I will. I can but
make the trial, as you say; and, if Annie is
hard pressed and tells me, I will enlarge the
allowance."

"Yes, yes, that's all very well, as between
you and me: but don't tell Ann."

"I am a lawyer, mother," said Percy,
with a grim smile, "and can keep my own
counsel."

So the law was passed in this domestic
Star-chamber, that Annie was to learn
experimental improvement in the art and
science of housekeeping: a law which never
would have been passed at all but for Annie's
private and peculiar economies, and her careful
concealment of painful details. Percy was
inclined to be mean and stingy, certainly, but
he was not revoltingly so; and, to do him
justice, he would not have imposed a task that
he knew was too hard to be accomplished.
He was not sorry to lay even a heavy strain
upon her, just for experiment's sake; but he
would not have done more, willingly. So
that poor Annie's very care it was which
now caused her discomfiture; her very
economy had created distrust of her
management.

At the end of the first week the young wife
was behind in her accounts. There was
brandy for the old lady, and not a little of it;
and there were her early dinners and her hot
suppers; eggs and teacakes for her breakfast;
special tea-making; bedroom-fire and
the extra candles. The housekeeping-books
showed frightful figuresincreased by a full
share and a-half. But Annie was not
disturbed; but reserved the revelation of those
multitudinous figures as a simple fact with
which her husband had to be made acquainted.

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