Home Scenes and Home Influence

By Timothy Shay Arthur, 1854
Home Scenes and Home Influence

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Excerpt

TAKING COMFORT.

"REALLY, this is comfortable!" said I, glancing around the handsomely furnished parlour of my young friend Brainard, who had, a few weeks before, ventured upon matrimony, and was now making his first experiments in housekeeping.

"Yes, it is comfortable," replied my friend. "The fact is, I go in for comforts."

"I'm afraid George is a little extravagant," said the smiling bride, as she leaned towards her husband and looked tenderly into his face.

"No, not extravagant, Anna," he returned; "all I want is to have things comfortable. Comfort I look upon as one of the necessaries of life, to which all are entitled. Don't you?"

I was looking at a handsome new rose-wood piano when this question was addressed to me, and thinking about its probable cost.

"We should all make the best of what we have," I answered, a little evasively; "and seek to be as comfortable as possible under all circumstances."

"Exactly. That's my doctrine," said Brainard. "I'm not rich, and therefore don't expect to live in a palace, and have every thing around me glittering with silver and gold; but, out of the little I possess, shall endeavour to obtain the largest available dividend of comfort. Ain't I right?"

"Perhaps so."

"You speak coldly," said my friend. "Don't you agree with me? Should not every man try to be as comfortable as his means will permit?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Of course he should. Some men set a value upon money above every thing else, and sacrifice all comfort to its accumulation; but I don't belong to that class. Money is a good gift, because it is the means of procuring natural blessings. I receive it thankfully, and use it wisely. You see how I am beginning life."

"I do."

"Well, what do you think of it?"

By this time my observation of things had become more particular, and I saw many evidences of expenditures that indicated a lavish spirit.

"What rent do you pay?" I asked.

"Three hundred."

I shook my head.

"Too much?" said Brainard.

"I think so."

"Perhaps it is a little high. But you can't get a genteel, comfortable house, in a good neighbourhood, for any thing less."

As it was my first visit to the young couple, who were but a few weeks past their honey-moon, I did not feel like questioning the propriety of my friend's conduct to the serious extent he was about involving himself; and so evaded replying to this excuse for taking at least a hundred dollars more rent upon himself than he was justified in doing by his circumstances, he being simply a clerk, with a salary of one thousand dollars.

"Rents are high," was my apparently indifferent answer.

"Too high," said he. "A man who wants a pleasant house has to pay for it. This is my experience."

The subject of conversation changed; I passed an agreeable evening; at the close of which I left my friend and his lovely young bride in their comfortable home.

What I had seen and heard during the few hours spent with Brainard made me fear that he was about committing a too common error. His ideas of comfort were not in keeping with his circumstances. Some days subsequently I saw my friend and his wife riding out in a handsome vehicle, drawn by a gay horse.

"Taking their comfort," said I, as I paused and looked upon the happy young couple.

Not long after, I saw them dashing off again to enjoy an afternoon's ride. Next, I met them at a fashionable concert.

"Have you been to the opera yet?" asked Brainard, leaning forward to the seat that I occupied just in front of him.

"No," was my answer.

"Then there is a treat in store for you. We go twice, and sometimes oftener, every week. Truffi, Benedetti, Rosi—oh! they are enchanting."

"Rather expensive," said I.

"It does cost something," and Brainard shrugged his shoulders. "But I think it's money well spent. You know that I go in for the comforts of life."

And he leaned back, while I thought I perceived a slight shadow flit across his face. A singer came forward at the moment, and no more was said.