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The Economy Of The Beautiful
by [?]

Talking to you in this way once a month, O my confidential reader, there seems to be danger, as in all intervals of friendship, that we shall not readily be able to take up our strain of conversation just where we left off. Suffer me, therefore, to remind you that the month past left us seated at the fireside, just as we had finished reading of what a home was, and how to make one.

The fire had burned low, and great, solid hickory coals were winking dreamily at us from out their fluffy coats of white ashes,–just as if some household sprite there were opening now one eye and then the other, and looking in a sleepy, comfortable way at us.

The close of my piece about the good house mother had seemed to tell on my little audience. Marianne had nestled close to her mother, and laid her head on her knee; and though Jenny sat up straight as a pin, yet her ever busy knitting was dropped in her lap, and I saw the glint of a tear in her quick, sparkling eye,–yes, actually a little bright bead fell upon her work; whereupon she started up actively, and declared that the fire wanted just one more stick to make a blaze before bedtime; and then there was such a raking among the coals, such an adjusting of the andirons, such vigorous arrangement of the wood, and such a brisk whisking of the hearth-brush, that it was evident Jenny had something on her mind. When all was done, she sat down again and looked straight into the blaze, which went dancing and crackling up, casting glances and flecks of light on our pictures and books, and making all the old, familiar furniture seem full of life and motion.

“I think that’s a good piece,” she said decisively. “I think those are things that should be thought about.”

Now Jenny was the youngest of our flock, and therefore, in a certain way, regarded by my wife and me as perennially “the baby;” and these little, old-fashioned, decisive ways of announcing her opinions seemed so much a part of her nature, so peculiarly “Jennyish,” as I used to say, that my wife and I only exchanged amused glances over her head when they occurred.

In a general way, Jenny, standing in the full orb of her feminine instincts like Diana in the moon, rather looked down on all masculine views of women’s matters as tolerabiles ineptioe; but towards her papa she had gracious turns of being patronizing to the last degree; and one of these turns was evidently at its flood-tide, as she proceeded to say,–

I think papa is right,–that keeping house and having a home, and all that, is a very serious thing, and that people go into it with very little thought about it. I really think those things papa has been saying there ought to be thought about.”

“Papa,” said Marianne, “I wish you would tell me exactly how you would spend that money you gave me for house-furnishing. I should like just your views.”

“Precisely,” said Jenny with eagerness; “because it is just as papa says,–a sensible man, who has thought and had experience, can’t help having some ideas, even about women’s affairs, that are worth attending to. I think so, decidedly.”

I acknowledged the compliment for my sex and myself with my best bow.

“But then, papa,” said Marianne, “I can’t help feeling sorry that one can’t live in such a way as to have beautiful things around one. I’m sorry they must cost so much, and take so much care, for I am made so that I really want them. I do so like to see pretty things! I do like rich carpets and elegant carved furniture, and fine china and cut-glass and silver. I can’t bear mean, common-looking rooms. I should so like to have my house look beautiful!”