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   Chapter 1 MONEY, MONEY!

Faith Gartney's Girlhood By A. D. T. Whitney Characters: 6490

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


"Shoe the horse and shoe the mare,

And let the little colt go bare."

East or West, it matters not where-the story may, doubtless, indicate something of latitude and longitude as it proceeds-in the city of Mishaumok, lived Henderson Gartney, Esq., one of those American gentlemen of whom, if she were ever canonized, Martha of Bethany must be the patron saint-if again, feminine celestials, sainthood once achieved through the weary experience of earth, don't know better than to assume such charge of wayward man-born, as they are, seemingly, to the life destiny of being ever "careful and troubled about many things."

We have all of us, as little girls, read "Rosamond." Now, one of Rosamond's early worries suggests a key to half the worries, early and late, of grown men and women. The silver paper won't cover the basket.

Mr. Gartney had spent his years, from twenty-five to forty, in sedulously tugging at the corners. He had had his share of silver paper, too-only the basket was a little too big.

In a pleasant apartment, half library, half parlor, and used in the winter months as a breakfast room, beside a table still covered with the remnants of the morning meal, sat Mrs. Gartney and her young daughter, Faith; the latter with a somewhat disconcerted, not to say rueful, expression of face.

A pair of slippers on the hearth and the morning paper thrown down beside an armchair, gave hint of the recent presence of the master of the house.

"Then I suppose I can't go," remarked the young lady.

"I'm sure I don't know," answered the elder, in a helpless, worried sort of tone. "It doesn't seem really right to ask your father for the money. I did just speak of your wanting some things for a party, but I suppose he has forgotten it; and, to-day, I hate to trouble him with reminding. Must you really have new gloves and slippers, both?"

Faith held up her little foot for answer, shod with a partly worn bronze kid, reduced to morning service.

"These are the best I've got. And my gloves have been cleaned over and over, till you said yourself, last time, they would hardly do to wear again. If it were any use, I should say I must have a new dress; but I thought at least I should freshen up with the 'little fixings,' and perhaps have something left for a few natural flowers for my hair."

"I know. But your father looked annoyed when I told him we should want fresh marketing to-day. He is really pinched, just now, for ready money-and he is so discouraged about the times. He told me only last night of a man who owed him five hundred dollars, and came to say he didn't know as he could pay a cent. It doesn't seem to be a time to afford gloves and shoes and flowers. And then there'll be the carriage, too."

"Oh, dear!" sighed Faith, in the tone of one who felt herself checkmated. "I wish I knew what we really could afford! It always seems to be these little things that don't cost much, and that other girls, whose fathers are not nearly so well off, always, have, without thinking anything about it." And she glanced over the table, whereon shone a silver coffee service, and up at the mantel where stood a French clock that had been placed there a month before.

"Pull at the bobbin and

the latch will fly up." An unspoken suggestion, of drift akin to this, flitted through the mind of Faith. She wondered if her father knew that this was a Signal Street invitation.

Mr. Gartney was ambitious for his children, and solicitous for their place in society.

But Faith had a touch of high-mindedness about her that made it impossible for her to pull bobbins.

So, when her father presently, with hat and coat on, came into the room again for a moment, before going out for the day, she sat quite silent, with her foot upon the fender, looking into the fire.

Something in her face however, quite unconsciously, bespoke that the world did not lie entirely straight before her, and this catching her father's eye, brought up to him, by an untraceable association, the half-proffered request of his wife.

"So you haven't any shoes, Faithie. Is that it?"

"None nice enough for a party, father."

"And the party is a vital necessity, I suppose. Where is it to be?"

The latch string was put forth, and while Faith still stayed her hand, her mother, absolved from selfish end, was fain to catch it up.

"At the Rushleighs'. The Old Year out and the New Year in."

"Oh, well, we mustn't 'let the colt go bare,'" answered Mr. Gartney, pleasantly, portemonnaie in hand. "But you must make that do." He handed her five dollars. "And take good care of your things when you have got them, for I don't pick up many five dollars nowadays."

And the old look of care crept up, replacing the kindly smile, as he turned and left the room.

"I feel very much as if I had picked my father's pocket," said Faith, holding the bank note, half ashamedly, in her hand.

Henderson Gartney, Esq., was a man of no method in his expenditure. When money chanced to be plenty with him it was very apt to go as might happen-for French clocks, or whatsoever; and then, suddenly, the silver paper fell short elsewhere, and lo! a corner was left uncovered.

The horse and the mare were shod. Great expenses were incurred; money was found, somehow, for grand outlays; but the comfort of buying, with a readiness, the little needed matters of every day-this was foregone. "Not let the colt go bare!" It was precisely the thing he was continually doing.

Mrs. Gartney had long found it to be her only wise way to make her hay while the sun was shining-to buy, when she could buy, what she was sure would be most wanted-and to look forward as far as possible, in her provisions, since her husband scarcely seemed to look forward at all.

So she exemplified, over and over again in her life, the story of Pharaoh and his fat and lean kine.

That night, Faith, her little purchases and arrangements all complete, and flowers and carriage bespoken for the next evening, went to bed to dream such dreams as only come to the sleep of early years.

At the same time, lingering by the fireside below for a half hour's unreserved conversation, Mr. Gartney was telling his wife of another money disappointment.

"Blacklow, at Cross Corners, gives up the lease of the house in the spring. He writes me he is going out to Indiana with his son-in-law. I don't know where I shall find another such tenant-or any at all, for that matter."

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