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CHAPTER IV.

CHEAP FURNITURE.

ONE of the cardinal virtues, at least for housekeepers who are not overburdened in the matter of income, is economy. In the early part of our married life, Mr. Smith and myself were forced to the practice of this virtue, or incur debt, of which both of us had a natural horror. For a few years we lived in the plain style with which we had begun the world. But, when our circumstances improved, we very naturally desired to improve the appearance of things in our household. Our cane seat chairs and ingrain carpet looked less and less attractive every day. And, when we went out to spend an evening, socially, with our friends, the contrast between home and abroad was strikingly apparent to our minds.

“I think,” said Mr. Smith to me, one day, " that it is time we re-furnished our parlors.”

“If you can afford the outlay,” I remarked. “ It won't cost a great deal,” he returned. “Not over three hundred dollars,” said I. Mr. Smith shook his head as he answered:

“Half that sum ought to be sufficient. What will we want ?”

“A dozen mahogany chairs to begin with,” I replied. “ There will be sixty dollars.”

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• You don't expect to pay five dollars a-piece for chairs ?” said my husband, in a tone of surprise.

“I don't think you can get good ones for less.”

“ Indeed we can. I was looking at a very handsome set yesterday ; aud the man only asked four dollars for them. I don't in the least doubt that I could get them for three and a half.”

“ And a dear bargain you would make of that, I do not in the least doubt. It is poor economy, Mr. Smith, to buy cheap furniture. It costs a great deal more in the end, than good furniture, and never gives you any satisfaction.”

“ But these were good chairs, Jané. As good as I would wish to look at. The man said they were from one of the best shops in the city, and of superior workmanship and finish.”

As I make it a point never to prolong an argument with my husband, when I see his mind bent in one direction, I did not urge my view of the case any farther.

. It was settled, however, that we could afford to re-furnish our parlors in a better style, and that in the course of the coming week, we should go out together and select a Brussels carpet, a sofa, a dozen mahogany chairs, a centre table, &c.

As I had foreseen from the beginning, my husband's ideas of economy were destined to mar everything. At one of the cabinet ware-rooms was a very neat, well-made set of chairs, for which five dollars and a half were asked, but which the dealer, seeing that he was beyond our mark, offered for five dollars. They were cheap at that price. But Mr. Smith could not see

that they were a whit better than the set of chairs just mentioned as offered for four dollars; and which he was satisfied could be bought for three and a half. So I went with him to look at them. They proved to be showy enough, if that were any recommendation, but had a common look in my eyes. They were not to be compared with the set we had just been examining.

“Now, are they not very beautiful, Jane ?" said my husband. To me they are quite as handsome as those we were asked sixty dollars for.”

From this I could not but dissent, seeing which, the cunning dealer came quickly to my husband's side of the question with various convincing arguments, among the strongest of which was an abatement in the price of the chairs—he seeing it to be for his interest to offer them for three dollars and three-quarters a-piece.

“ I'll give you three and a half,” said Mr. Smith, promptly.

Too little, that, sir,” returned the dealer. 6 I don't make a cent on them at three and threequarters. They are fully equal, in every respect, to the chairs you were offered at five dollars. I know the manufacturer, and have had his articles often."

“Say three and a-half, and its a bargain,” was the only reply made to this by my economical husband.

I was greatly in hopes that the man would decline this offer; but, was disappointed. He hesitated for some time, and, at last, said :

“Well, I don't care, take them along; though it is throwing them away. Such a bargain you will never get again, if you live to be as old as Mathuselah. But, now, don't you want something else? I can sell you cheaper and better articles in the furniture line than you can get in the city. Small profits and quick sales—I go in for the nimble sixpence.”

My husband was in the sphere of attraction, and I saw that it would take a stronger effort on my part to draw him out than I wished to make. So, I yielded with as good a grace as possible, and aided in the selection of a cheap sofa, a cheap, overgrown centre table, and two or three other article that were almost “thrown away.”

Well, our parlor was furnished with its new dress in good time, and made quite a respectable appearance. Mr. Smith was delighted with everything; the more particularly as the cost had been so moderate. I had my own thoughts on the subject; and looked very confidently for some evidences of imperfection in our great bargains. I was not very long kept in suspense. One morning, about two weeks after all had been fitted out so elegantly, while engaged in dusting the chairs, a part of the mahogany ornament in the back of one of them fell off. On the next day, another showed the same evidence of imperfect workmanship. A few evenings afterwards, as we sat at the centre table, one of our children leaned on it rather heavily, when there was a sudden crack, and the side upon which he was bearing his weight, swa down the distance of half an inch or more. The next untoward event was the dropping of one of its feet by the sofa, and the warping up of a large piece of veneering on the back. While lamenting over this, we discovered a broken spring ready to make its way through the hair cloth covering

“ So much for cheap furniture,” said I, in a tone of involuntary triumph.

My husband looked at me half reproachfully, and so I said no more.

It was now needful to send for a cabinet maker, and submit our sofa and chairs to his handy workmanship. He quickly discovered other imperfections, and gave us the consoling information that our fine furniture was little above fourth-rate in quality, and dear at any price. A ten dollar bill was required to pay the damage they had already sustained, even under our careful hands.

A more striking evidence of our folly in buying cheap furniture was, however, yet to come. An intimate friend came in one evening to sit a few hours with us. After conversing for a time, both he and my husband took up books, and commenced reading, while I availed myself of the opportunity to write a brief letter. Our visitor, who was a pretty stout man, had the bad fault of leaning back in his chair, and balancing himself on its hind legs; an experiment most trying to the best mahogahy chairs that were ever made.

We were all sitting around the centre table, upon which burned a tall astral lamp, and I was getting absorbed in my letter, when suddenly there was a loud crash, followed by the breaking of the table from its centre, and the pitching

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