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Living Like A Lady
by [?]

MR. HAMILTON BURGESS was a man of limited means, but having married a beautiful and amiable woman, he resolved to spare no expense in surrounding her with comforts, and in supporting her, as he said, “like a lady.”

“My dear Ammy,” said Mrs. Burgess, to her indulgent husband, about a year after their marriage–“My dear Ammy”–this was the name she called him by at home–” you are too kind to me, altogether. You are unwilling that I should work, or do anything towards our support, when I actually think that a little exertion on my part would not only serve to lighten your expenses, but be quite as good for my health and spirits as the occupations to which my time is now devoted.”

“Oh, you industrious little bee!” exclaimed Mr. Burgess, “you have great notions of making yourself useful, I declare! But, Lizzie, I shall never consent to your propositions. I did not marry you to make you my slave. When you gave me this dear hand, I resolved that it should never be soiled and made rough by labour–and it never shall, as long as I am able to attend to my business.”

Mrs. Burgess would not have done anything to displease her husband for the world, and she accordingly allowed him to have his way without offering farther remonstrance.

But Hamilton’s business was dull, and it required the greatest exertion on his part, and the severest application, to raise sufficient money to meet the daily expenses of his family.

“My affairs will be in a better state next year,” he said to himself, “and I must manage to struggle through this dull season some way or another. I will venture to run in debt a little, I think; for any way is preferable to reducing our household expenditures, which are by no means extravagant. At all events, Lizzie must not know what my circumstances are, for she would insist upon a change in our style of living, and revive the subject of doing something towards our support.”

Mr. Burgess then ventured to run in debt a little; he did not attempt to reduce the expenses of his housekeeping; he never gave his wife a hint respecting the true state of his business matters, but insisted upon her accepting, as usual, a liberal allowance of funds to meet her private expenses.

Lizzie seemed quite happy in her ignorance of her husband’s circumstances, never spoke again of assisting to support the establishment, but seemed to devote herself to the pursuit of quiet pleasures, and to procuring Hamilton’s happiness. But Mr. Burgess’s circumstances, instead of improving, grew continually worse. His venture of “running in debt a little,” resulted in running in debt a great deal. Thus the second year of his married life passed, and the dark shadows of disappointed hope and the traces of corroding care began to change the aspect of his brow.

One day a friend said to Hamilton–

“I am surprised at your conduct! Here you are, making a slave of yourself, while your wife is playing the lady. She is not to blame; it is you. She would gladly do something for her own support, if you would permit her; and it would be better for her and for you. Remember the true saying–

‘Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do!'”

“What do you mean?” demanded Hamilton, reddening.

“I mean that, generally speaking, young wives of an ardent temperament, when left to themselves, with nothing but their pleasures to occupy their minds, are apt to forget their husbands, and find enjoyment in such society as he might not altogether approve.”

“Sir, you do not know my wife,” exclaimed Hamilton. “She, thank Heaven, is not one of those.”

“I hope not,” was the quiet reply.

Although Hamilton Burgess had not a jealous nature, and would never have entertained unjust suspicions of his wife, these words of his friend set him to thinking. He remembered that Lizzie was always happy, however he might be oppressed with cares; and now he wondered how it was that she could be so unmindful of everything except pleasure, while he was so constantly harassed. The consistent Mr. Hamilton Burgess undoubtedly forgot that he had taken the utmost pains to conceal his circumstances from his wife.