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a time when other ladies would have been
cosily wrapped in white-frilled dressing
gowns and lying on bedroom sofas.

Percy noticed nothing. When, a fortnight
after that new life had come among them,
Annie appeared at the dinner-table just the
same as everonly paler and more languid,
but infinitely lovelierhis sole remark was
shaking hands with her and kissing her
forehead " It scarcely seems a fortnight,
Annie, since you were here: but my mother
says it is so." Yet his manner had an
indescribable shade of softness quite unusual to
him; and Annie forgave the coldness of his
spoken welcome.

But Percy was not soft either in speech or
in manner; and, after to-day, he gradually
relapsed into his old silence and indifference.
Annie re-assumed her household duties; and,
in another week all things were exactly the
same as before. The old nurse even leaving,
called away earlier than was expected, owing
to an error in dates elsewhere. And then
Annie had her treasure in her sole charge,
with no one to whom she could trust him
with confidence; therefore, without assistance
or relief. She had no nursemaid, and her
two servants were not clever about babies.
She was surprised to find how that one little
creature absorbed her time, and how scant
was the leisure left for the busy house duties
she had undertaken before his birth! Yet the
inexorable law had to be fulfilled, however
unable she was to fulfil it.

When those terrible house-books had been
put back into her hands again, and the mean
sum once more doled out, she had received
a strict injunction to be doubly careful now
with this heavy expense before her, and to
remember that she saved for her child while
she saved for her husband. This completed
the circle of Annie's obligations. Passionate
love was now added to her former principle
of steady duty, and she had not a wish to
evade the observance of her task.

Still, she could not spare so much time as
formerly, and she was not yet strong enough
for active household work. The
consequence was that week by week she fell
gradually behind, until she was in debt
several pounds; all to be saved out of an
allowance that did not compass the inevitable
expenses! It was hopeless to think of it.
What could she do? If she curtailed her
husband of any of his special comforts, she
feared he would say that she no longer
regarded him, and thought only of her baby.
Besides, ought she to fail in making her duty
to her husband the first thing in her life?
Exacting Mrs. Clarke it was impossible to
cut down. By virtue of that fallacythe
privilege of old ageshe must be pampered,
and petted, and preserved, whoever failed
or wanted, and a worn-out useless life be
nursed up to croon away a few idle years by
the chimney corner, though the young and
the needed should perish in its stead. Mrs.
Clarke was impossible. What could she
give up further in herself? She had not, as
it was, one of the ordinary physical helps to
a young mother, and, if she reduced her
regimen to within straiter limits than at
present, she must be content with plain
bread and water. What should she do?
While in her own room, kneeling by her
baby's pretty little cot, and longing for him
to awake, she suddenly remembered that she
had a handsome old-fashioned pearl necklace,
of her dear mother's. She never wore
it; it was of no use to her. She would sell
it; and thus be saved from further anxiety
and unhappiness. It might be a pain;
but it was only a pain of sentiment at the
worst; while, to vex her husband, and
perhaps lose his confidence, would be a crime.
That very day she paid up all her back
bills, and started fair again, with a balance
in hand.

But this must not happen again. She
must work, as she did before; for she was
strong now, and must bear her part with
the rest. And she did work as before,
improvising all sorts of portable cradles for her
darling, so that he should be watched over the
while she was busy, as zealously as if she had
nothing else to do than care for him and
guard him. She worked till her limbs
ached, and her head was dull, and her
heart depressed. She worked till she was
faint and giddy, and overwrought. But
no one saw it. She looked always neat and
glossy for dinner; and Percy did not
scrutinise her narrowly enough to see how pale
she was; nor how thin; nor how her lips
quivered when she spoke, and her eyebrows
lifted themselves up, as if to lift a heavy
weight from her eyes. He saw her just as
she used to be, with her placid smile, and
her low, sweet voice; with her dainty costume,
always marvellously clean and choice, though
simple. He saw nothing beyond all this;
and, as the house went on exactly as it did
before, he was never weary of congratulating
himself in secret that he had taken his
mother's advice, and had put Annie on her
mettle, to rightly understand and practise
economical housekeeping.

Mrs. Clarke had a slight attack of indigestion :
and what a miserable house that slight
attack created! Percy was impatient and
fault-finding; the old lady capricious, and
dissatisfied; and poor Annie's powers were
taxed till she was often faint and weeping
from weariness and fatigue. But she had
her old immunity from observation; though
now and then the servant would steal up
with tea or coffee, or sometimes with a cup
of arrowroot, saved from the old lady's
surplus, as more needful to Mrs. Clarke the
younger and weaker. The neck of Mrs.
Clarke's illness from overfeeding was broken
in a fortnight, though things had not
quite come back to their old groove even
then.

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