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cause, wretched as she was in that almost
disgraceful home of hers; and a young girl,
unhappy at home, can find many good
reasons why her lover is just the man she
would have chosen, had she had the privilege
of choice.

They married: and a week after the marriage
he took her to his house in Bloomsbury,
and Annie's real life began.

Percy was the junior partner in a lawyer's
office; with a respectable income and of a
respectable position. Indeed, no other word
was so well suited to him as this most
comprehensive term; for he was in all things
eminently and thoroughly respectable.
Mediocre, too: which English middle-class
respectability implies. Of fair average intellect;
of fair average social standing, of middle
height; by no means bad looking  (but by no
means handsome); of just such fortune as
professional men have when they are comfortably
off; without an expensive habit, an unusual
taste or a wild idea,—he was the very type of
the ordinary middle-class Englishman; loved
by none, hated by none, but respected by
all. He performed the customary duties of
life with regularity and without enthusiasm.
He went to church punctually once every
Sunday, in fine weather. He was a silent
man at all times; rarely heard to express
an opinion even on a leading article or the
foreign intelligence: parliamentary commitees
sat uncriticised by him; he read the
debates without advocacy, and he did not
censure the conduct of the Generals abroad
in active service. Yet no one said his silence
arose from stupidity. On the contrary, his
friends believed him to be a deep and thoughtful
man; and that he could, if he would, say
much on all matters. His behaviour to his
young wife was in harmony with the rest of
him. He was never harsh to her, never
ill-humoured; but never tender or caressing:
not even during that first week spent at a
Devonshire watering-place, when he had lain
silent on the sands all the summer day, with
his hat over his eyes and his arms crossed
behind his head, while Annie worked beside
him, and strangers thought him dreamily
and luxuriously happy. What a lucky fellow
to have the dear little woman in that round
hat for a wife, and how madly in love with
her he must be! But, after that brief
and shadowy honeymoon, when he brought
her home, and recommenced his daily work
at the office as if nothing had happened, he
might have been married many years for all
the lover-like attentions or tenderness he
bestowed on her. Annie had never been
accustomed to attention or tenderness, so
did not miss them from her married life,
and was quite as happy and contented
as she expected to be. She had her
house to manage, her servants to initiate
into those mysterious secrets called "ways;"
her weekly bills to make up and ponder for
hours where that mistake of twopence farthing
could be: she had her needlework to do, her
collars to embroider, her pocket-handkerchiefs
to hem, and his shirt buttons and woollen
socks to superintend; so that she got through
her days in all gentle tranquillity; never idle
and never hurrieda smooth life running on
its even course, in which there was nothing
to distress, to enrapture, or to excite.

Percy Clarke impressed but one thing on
his wifethe need of strict economy. In
token whereof he made her a very meagre
allowance for the house. Yet Annie contrived
that it should be sufficient, in the wonderful
way in which clever housekeepers can
save unseen expenses without curtailing the
public comforts of the family. She studied
all the best economies, and devised private
and peculiar savings of her own, and thus was
enabled to make an appearance of luxury
and domestic refinement decidedly beyond
her allowance.

"I hope you are not getting into debt,
Annie," Percy would sometimes say, if she
had provided a dinner more showy than
ordinary; though she always contrived to have
one special delicacy at the least on the table.

"No, Percy, you may see my books,"
Annie would answer with a little quiet
triumph: if it were allowance-day, perhaps
adding: "I have made it do exactly this
week, and have just fourpence over."

"Very well. I do not want details; only
do not exceed, that is all." And Annie did
not.

Old Mrs. Clarke, the mother, lived in a
small house at the upper end of Islington.
She was an invalid; and not softened by her
age or infirmities. She was as hard as her son,
and not so even-tempered; a good deal more
exacting,and actively selfish: for Percy's faults
were but negative at the worst. Mrs. Clarke
was accustomed to say, that "she had never
taken to that Ann Farre." She thought her too
young, and did not believe in her housekeeping:
for Mrs. Clarke was of the old school,
and believed in nothing that did not include
constant supervision and active doing among
the servants by the mistress. She was one
of those, too, who locked up everything, and
would have thought it infinite negligence
if a mistress gave her servant the key of the
tea-caddy, or suffered her in the store-closet
unwatched. She it was who continually
impressed on Percy her conviction of waste and
unthrift in his house; pointing to Annie's
little table elegancies, which the young wife
had obtained by the most cunning devices of
hidden savings, as evidencing extravagance
and needless expenditure. But, as Percy
knew that he allowed a very moderate sum,
he was not incited to active participation in
his mother's views. Nevertheless, her
perpetual recurrence to the subject did not tend
to make his money-dealings with his wife
more liberal.

One day, Percy came home half an hour
later than usual: he who was so methodical

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