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over of the astral lamp, which, in falling, just grazed my side, and went down, oil and all, upon our new carpet! An instant more, and we were in total darkness. But, ere the light went out, a glance had revealed a scene that I shall never forget. Our visitor, whose weight, as he tried his usual balancing experiment, had caused the slender legs of his chair to snap off short, had fallen backwards. In trying to save himself, he had caught at the table, and wrenched that from its centre fastening. Startled by this sudden catastrophe, my husband had sprung to his feet, grasping his chair with the intent of drawing it away, when the top of the back came off in his hand. I saw all this at a single glance—and then we were shrouded in darkness.
Of the scene that followed, I will not speak. My lady readers can, witout any effort of the mind, imagine something of its unpleasant reality. As for our visitor, when lights were brought in, he was no where to be seen. I have a faint recollection of having heard the street door shut amid the confusion that succeeded the incident just described.
About a week afterwards, the whole of our cheap furniture was sent to auction, where it brought less than half its first cost. It was then
. replaced with good articles, by good workmen, at a fair price; not one of which has cost us, to this day, a single cent for repairs. · A housekeeping friend of mine, committed, not long since, a similar error. Her husband could spare her a couple of hundred dollars for re-furnishing purposes; but, as his business absorbed nearly all of his time and thoughts, he left with her the selection of the new articles that were to beautify their parlors and chambers, merely saying to her:
“Let what you get be good. It is cheapest in the end.”
Well, my friend had set her heart on a dozen chairs, a new sofa, centre table, and “what-not, for her parlors; and on a dressing-bureau, mahogany bedstead, and wash-stand, for her chamber, besides a new chamber carpet. Her first visit was to the ware-rooms of one of our best cabinet makers; but, his prices completely frightened her—for, at his rate, the articles she wanted would amount to more than all the money she had to spend, and leave nothing for the new chamber carpet.
“I must buy cheaper,” said she.
“ The cheapest is generally dearest in the end,” returned the cabinet maker.
“I don't know about that,” remarked the lady, whose thoughts did not take in the meaning of the man's words. “All I know is, that I can get as good articles as I desire at lower prices than you ask.”
It did not once occur to my friend, that it would be wisest to lessen the number of articles, and get the remainder of the first quality. No; her heart covered the whole inventory at first made out, and nothing less would answer. So she went to an auction store, and bought inferior articles at lower prices. I visited her soon after. She showed me her bargains, and, with an air of exultation, spoke of the cost.
“What do you think I paid for this ?" said she, referring to a showy dressing-bureau; and, as she spoke, she took hold of the suspended looking-glass, and moved the upper portion of it forward. “Only seventeen dollars !”
The words had scarcely passed her lips, ere the looking-glass broke away from one of the screws that held it in the standards, and fell, crashing, at our feet!
It cost just seven dollars to replace the glass. But, that was not all-over thirty dollars were paid during the first year for repairs. And this is only the beginning of troubles.
Cheap furniture is, in most cases, the dearest that housekeepers can buy. It is always breaking, and usually costs more, in a year or two, than the difference between its price and that of first-rate articles; to say nothing of the vexation and want of satisfaction that always attends its possession. Better be content with fewer articles, if the purse be low, and have them good.
While on this subject, I will incorporate in these “ Confessions” an “Experience” of my sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. John Jones. Mr. Jones is, in some respects, very much like Mr. Smith, and, as will be seen in the story about to be given, my sister's ideas of things and my own, run quite parallel to each other. The story has found its way, elsewhere, into print, for Mr. Jones, like myself, has a natural fondness for types. But its repetition here will do no harm, and bring it before many who would not othervise see it.
IS IT ECONOMY?
THE “ Experience” of my relative, Mr. John Jones, referred to in the preceding chapter, is given in what follows. After reading it, we think that few young housekeepers will commit the folly of indulging to any very great extent in cheap furniture.
We had been married five years, and during the time had boarded for economy's sake. But the addition of one after another to our family, admonished us that it was getting time to enlarge our borders; and so we were determined to go to housekeeping. In matters of domestic economy both my wife and myself were a little “green,” but I think that I was the greenest of the two.
To get a house was our first concern, and to select furniture was our next.
The house was found after two months' diligent search, and at the expense of a good deal of precious shoe leather. Save me froin another siege at househunting! I would about as soon undertake to build a suitable dwelling with my own hands, to find one “exactly the thing” already up, and waiting with open doors for a tenant. All the really desirable houses that we found ticketed
“ to let,” were at least two prices above our limit, and most of those within our means we would hardly have lived in rent free.
At last, however, we found a cosey little nest of a house, just built, and clean and neat as a new pin, from top to bottom. It suited us to a T. And now came the next most important business—selecting furniture. My wife's ideas had always been a little in advance of mine. That is, she liked to have every thing of the best quality; and had the weakness, so to speak, of desiring to make an appearance. As my income, at the time, was but moderate, and the prospect of an increase thereof not very flattering, I felt like being exceedingly prudent in all outlays for furniture.
“ We must be content with things few and plain,” said I, as we sat down one morning to figure up what we must get. “But let them be good,” said my wife.
Strong and substantial,” was my reply. “But we can't afford to pay for much extra polish and filagree work."
"I don't want any thing very extra, Mr. Jones,” returned my wife, a little uneasily. “Though what I do have, I would like good. It's no economy, in the end, to buy cheap things.”
The emphasis on the word cheap, rather grated on my ear; for I was in favor of getting every thing as cheap as possible.
“What kind of chairs did you think of getting?" asked Mrs. Jones.
“A handsome set of cane-seat," I replied,