Observer, Volume XXI, Issue 1176, 13 July 1901, Page 18
E were discussing economy — a poor enough subj eot — and daring a pause I employed myb c1 f in stirring and replenishing the study fire. 'Are yon going to ait np all night, Jack?' inqni r e d the Angel, eyeing my operations critically. 'No. Why?" ' Oh, nothing. By the way, it'a nearly half-past eleven.' I removed two large lnmpa of coal from the fire withont any remark, and lit a cigarette. IDo yon think I'm very extravagant, Jack 7' she asked me presently. ' Not a bit, dear. Bat I hate telling you abont my worries — ' ' Jack, yon don't I' 'Well, I don't, then. Bat you know what I mean ' 'Of coarse I do. And, after all, there are heaps of little things one can do without, and still be quite happy.' ' What a wise little girl— l mean woman —yon are,' I observed, admiringly. The Angel ignored the remark, and continne — ' And I've been thinking that there are several trifles and lnxaries we ooald do witboat. For it's the little " extras " that ran away with the money — isn't it, Jack 7' I nodded. ' Flowers, for instance.' ' Oh, no ; not flowers I' she exclaimed. The Angel likes to have flowers in nearly every room of the hoaee. 1 What do the flowers cost yon a week ?' I inquired. ' well— er— they aren't very cheap at present. I should think they cost about —let me Bee — oh, dear ! I can't tell you without my book.' The book referred to is a sort of diary of expenditure which the Antrel insists on keeping to prevent her, as she has more than once remarked, becoming too happy, and which I often long to pitch in the fire when I see her straggling with its sordid pagea. ' Never mind the book, dear,' said I. ' I was Bare you were joking about the flowers,' said she. ' Oh, bat I wasn't joking. Flowers are very pretty, and all that, but they are quite useless, and ' ' Jack I* 1 And I think we might manage to do without them— in the meantime, at least.' ' How horrid 1' ' Why 7 If I asked you to give np taking an egg for breakfast, you'd do it in a minute.' ' Of coarse I would, Jack,' eagerly. 1 Exactly 1 It's so like a girl— woman, I mean— to throw over something praotical for something sentimental.' 'Oh, fiddle !' impatiently. 'An egg is nourishing and sustaining, bat— well, you could get along without flowers.' ' I'm Bare I couldn't.' 1 Ob, yeß you oould if you tried. And, of course, I'm ready and willing to give up something, too.' ' Are you, Jack 7 And what is it to be ?' ' I thought of discontinuing the weekly reviews and monthly magazines; but if yon like to suggest anything else, dear, why, I'll give It up to please you.' I lit a fresh olgarette, and smiled through the smoke at the Angel. Bhe, however, looked grave ; and presently she got up and crossed the hearthrug and Beated herself on the arm of my chair 'Jack,' she said, softly, 'I could no more do without flowers than you oould do without oigarettes.' I confess I was startled by the gently insinuated challenge, but I recovered and said, ' I'm not a slave to cigarettes.' ' No ; bat you couldn't do without them.' ' Couldn't 1 7' ' I'm afraid not. 1 wouldn't aak you to give them up.' ' Bat suppose I did,' I said snddenly. I believe I had smoked rather many that evening. The Adgel slowly shook her head. 1 Look here, dear,' I said, a trifle nettled ; ' let's make a bargain. No flowers and no cigarettes for three months.' lOh I' cried she, ' and the flowers in the house are all so withered I'
it to be ?'
Peering into my cigarette box, I discovered that it contained barely a dozen of my favourite brand. ' We're quits,' I returned, flinging them into cne fire. 1 Yonr flowers are done ; my cigarettes are gone ; we start even.' ' Oh, dear boy, you might have kept one for the morning. And, after all, it wasn't very economical to barn them, was it, Jack V ' No, perhaps not,' I admitted. ' Still, the temptation is gone,' I added, and kissed her. 'First thing in the morning,' said the Angel, with an obvious effort, ' I'll empty oat all my flower glasses and pat them away in the crystal cupboard.' ' Poor old chum!' be id I, sympathetically. 1 It's jast as bad for yon, dear,' ehe returned. ' Bat it will be good for each of as to have to do without ' 'Did we say three weeks?' I asked, interrupting her. 'No ; three months,' said the Angel, with great firmness.
The next morning we were both veiy bright at breakfast, but a dalneas set in when I, while looking through the newspaper, absent-mindedly asked the Angel to hand me the match-box. She pretended she did not hear me, and sat down with a tube of secootine to mend a flower-glaas which she had cleaned and broken. The day's work seemed to require more effort than usual, and onr meals were rather performances. In the evening we didn't know what to talk about, so I read Browning alond till I was hoarse, and then the Angel took the book and read till she coughed, and I made her stop. It was only half-past ten, bat we went to bed. The next evening we had a visit from Jim Marigold and his wife. Jim ia a shockingly heavy smoker, but he had left his cigarette-case al home. Mrs Marigold discussed table-decoration with the Angel, and gave her opinion again and again that there was nothing like flowers for beautifying the board, festive or everyday. On the whole, it was rather a slow evening. The following night, being by onraelves, we took tarns in reading a novel— l forget its title— and retired to rest at twenty minutes past nine.
' Mother ia coming to Bee me this afternoon,' remarked the Angel a few days
later, aa I happened to be leaving the house for the city. 1 I'm glad of that, dear,' I returned. 'I think yon want cheering np. Yon've been rather dull lately.' 'Nonßenae, Jack! I'm all right. Bat, how about yoareelf V 'Quite robust, thank yon. However, I mast catch that train.' I was just going down the steps when an idea ocourred to the., 'By-the-bye, I said, retaining to the door, ' yoar mother might think it strange if she fonnd you without a flower in the house. What do yoa think V Tbe Angel flashed. I had evidently divined her thoughts. 'It doesn't matter,' she said, ' it really doesn't.' 'Of coarse, it would never do to enter it in your account book,' Baid I. 1 Don't teaße, Jack. You know |I couldn't spend a penny on flowers, after oar bargain ' There was a brief silence. 1 What's that you're holding in your hand?' I demanded suddenly. 1 Why I I've nothing in my hand,' she she replied, in surprise, holding out her palm for inspection. Whereupon I put something in it and fled to the station. That evening the Angel was gayer than she had been for a week, and when I asked her if she would like me to read to her she laughed and said she didn't particularly care. Her good spirits, I felt, were due to her mother's visit, and perhaps to the flowers. I was glad I had remembered them in time, and determined that oar new economy should be exercised in Borne other direction. I w&b getting into a fairly good humour, when my eyes fell upon the cigarette box on the table at my side. 1 Tut I' I exclaimed. ' I wish that idiot, Martha, wouldn't shift things.' A few nights earlier I had hidden the box behind the clock on the mantelpiece. ' Pleaße tell Martha,' I aaid crossly, 'that she must not remove articles from where I place them. It's most aggravating 1 In fact, if Martha were not ' 'It wasn't Martha, Jack,' said tbe Angel, quietly. ' I removed the dot.' 'Oh!' ' It's such a pretty one, and I thought you'd like to look at it, and— er— perhaps inaide it.' Then, to my surprise, the Angel rose, and hurried from the room. And I found that the oigarette box waa fall of my favourite brand. ' And you didn't bay any flowers at all ?' I asked her a little later. ' N— no, Jack, only w— weeds.'
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