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The Cards
by [?]

About a year ago Eliza and myself had a little difference of opinion. I mentioned to her that we had no visiting-cards.

“Of course not,” she said. “The idea of such a thing!” She spoke rather hastily.

“Why do you say ‘of course not’?” I replied, quietly. “Visiting-cards are, I believe, in common use among ladies and gentlemen.”

She said she did not see what that had to do with it.

“It has just this much to do with it,” I answered: “that I do not intend to go without visiting-cards another day!”

“What’s the use?” she asked. “We never call on anybody, and nobody ever calls on us.”

“Is Miss Sakers nobody?”

“Well, she’s never left a card here, and she really is a lady by birth, and can prove it. She just asks the girl to say she’s been, and it’s nothing of importance, when she doesn’t find me in. If she can do without cards, we can. You’d much better go by her.”

“Thank you, I have my own ideas of propriety, and I do not take them from Miss Sakers. I shall order fifty of each sort from Amrod’s this morning.”

“Then that makes a hundred cards wasted.”

“Either you cannot count,” I said, “or you have yet to learn that there are three sorts of cards used by married people–the husband’s cards, the wife’s cards, and the card with both names on it.”

“Go it!” said Eliza. “Get a card for the cat as well. She knows a lot more cats than we know people!”

I could have given a fairly sharp retort to that, but I preferred to remain absolutely silent. I thought it might show Eliza that she was becoming rather vulgar. Silence is often the best rebuke. However, Eliza went on:

“Mother would hate it, I know that. To talk about cards, with the last lot of coals not paid for–I call it wickedness.”

I simply walked out of the house, went straight down to Amrod’s, and ordered those cards. When the time comes for me to put my foot down, I can generally put it down as well as most people. No one could be easier to live with than I am, and I am sure Eliza has found it so; but what I say is, if a man is not master in his own house, then where is he?

* * * * *

Amrod printed the cards while I waited. I had them done in the Old English character. I suggested some little decoration to give them a tone,–an ivy leaf in the corner, or a little flourish under the name,–but Amrod was opposed to this. He seemed to think it was not essential, and it would have been charged extra, and also he had nothing of the kind in stock. So I let that pass. The cards looked very well as they were, a little plain and formal, perhaps, but very clean (except in the case of a few where the ink had rubbed), and very gratifying to one’s natural self-respect.

That evening I took a small cardboard box that had contained candles, and packed in it a few carefully selected flowers from the garden, and one of our cards. On the card I wrote “With kindest love from” just above the names, and posted it to Eliza’s mother.

So far was Eliza’s mother from being offended that she sent Eliza a present of a postal-order for five shillings, three pounds of pressed beef, and a nicely worked apron.

On glancing over that sentence, I see that it is, perhaps, a little ambiguous. The postal order was for the shillings alone–not for the beef or the apron.

I only mention the incident to show whether, in this case, Eliza or I was right.

* * * * *