Part 4 out of 4
situated, the fall sickness swept off every new-comer, and was in
very many instances fatal to the oldest residents. He was assured
that if he went back there to live before frost set in, it would be
almost certain death.
The loss of his oldest and best-beloved child; the bad location of
his farm; and the new and more correct views he had received on the
subject of Western life, completely opened the eyes of Parker to the
folly he had committed.
"If I could make any thing like a fair sale of my farm, I think I
would let it go, and return to the East," he said to his wife, after
they had all recovered from the worst effect of the fevers from
which they had been suffering.
"If you could do as well at the East, Benjamin, I think we would all
be happier there," Rachel replied, in her usual quiet way. Her
husband did not notice that the tears sprang instantly to her eyes,
nor did he know with what a quick throb her heart answered to his
A short time after this, Parker was fortunate enough to meet with a
purchaser for his land, who was willing to take it with all its
improvements at government price. With seven hundred dollars, the
remnant of his property, after an absence of eight months, Parker
returned to the East a wiser man, and his wife a more thoughtful,
pensive, absent-minded woman. The loss of little Rachel was a sad
thing for her. She could not get over it. It would have been some
comfort to her if they could have brought back the child's remains,
and buried them where her mother had slept for years, and where the
body of her father had been so recently laid; but to leave her alone
in the wild region where they had buried her, was something of which
she could not think without a pang.
On the small sum of money which he had brought back from his western
adventure, Parker recommenced his old business in the very town
where he lived, and in the store that he occupied at the time of his
marriage. As his means were more contracted, he could not do as good
a business as the one he had been so foolish as to give up several
years before, and he soon fell into his old habit of complaining and
perhaps now with more cause. To such complaints his meek-tempered
wife would reply in some words of encouragement and comfort, as--
"You do the best you can, and that is as much as can be expected of
any one. You plant and sow--the Lord must send the rain and the
Back in the old place and among her loving sisters, the heart of
Mrs. Parker felt once more the warm sunshine upon it--the gentle
dews and the refreshing rain. But a year or two only elapsed before
her husband determined to seek some better fortune in another place.
Without a complaining word his wife went with him, but her cheek
grew paler and thinner afterward, her step slower and her voice even
to the ear of her husband sadder. But he was too much absorbed in
his efforts to get along in the world to be able to see clearly the
true condition of his wife, or, if he at all understood it, to be
aware of the cause.
Their new location proved to be an unhealthy one, and the loss of
another child drove them away, after a residence of a year. Mrs.
Parker suffered here severely from intermittent fever. She was just
able to go about when her husband declared his intention to leave
the place on account of its being sickly.
"Where do you think of going?" she asked, raising to his her large
"I have hardly made up my mind yet," he replied. "But I was thinking
Rachel's eyes fell to the floor, and a gentle sigh escaped from her
bosom. This was noticed by her husband.
"Have you any objection to R--?" he asked.
"Why not go back to the old place?" Rachel ventured to say, while
her eyes were again fixed upon him, but now earnestly and tearfully.
"Would you rather live there?" he asked, with more than usual
tenderness in his voice.
"I have never been happy since we left there," the poor wife
replied, sinking forward and biding her tearful face on his breast.
Parker was confounded. He had never dreamed of this. Rachel had
always so patiently acquiesced in all that he had proposed to do,
that he had imagined her as willing to remove from one place to
another as he had been. But now a new truth flashed upon his
mind--"Never been happy since we left there?"
"We will go back, Rachel," he said, with some emotion. "If I had
only known this!"
And they went back. But somehow or other Rachel Parker did not
recover the healthy tone of body or mind that she had lost. By
strict attention to business and continuing at it for some years in
one place, her husband got along well enough, though he did not get
rich. As for Rachel, she gradually declined and three years after
her return was laid at rest.
THE SUM OF TRIFLES:
OR, "A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY GAINED."
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
"SAVING? Don't talk to me about saving!" said one journeyman
mechanic to another. "What can a man with a wife and three children
save out of eight dollars a week?"
"Not much, certainly," was replied. "But still, if he is careful, he
may save a little."
"Precious little!" briefly returned the other, with something like
contempt in his tone.
"Even a little is worth saving," was answered to this. "You know the
old proverb, 'Many littles make a mickle.' Fifty cents laid by every
week will amount to twenty-six dollars in a year."
"Of course, that's clear enough. And a dollar saved every week will
give the handsome sum of fifty-two dollars a year. Bat how is the
half-dollar or the dollar to be saved, I should like to know? I
can't do it, I am sure."
"I can, then, and my family is just as large as yours, and my wages
"If you say so, I am bound to believe you, but I must own myself
unable to see how you do it. Pray, how much do you save?"
"I have saved about seventy-five dollars a year for the last two
"You have!" in surprise.
"Yes, and I have it all snugly in the Savings' Bank."
"Bless me! How have you possibly managed to do this? For my part, it
is as much as I can do to keep out of debt. My wife is as
hard-working, saving a woman as is to be found anywhere. But all
won't do. I expect my nose will be at the grindstone all my life."
"How much does your tobacco cost you, Johnson?" asked his companion.
"Nothing, to speak of. A mere trifle," replied the man named
"A shilling a week?"
"And you take something to drink, now and then?"
"Nothing but a little beer. I never use any thing stronger."
"I suppose you never take, on an average, more than a glass a day?"
"No, nor that."
"But you occasionally ask a friend to take a glass with you?"
"Of course, that is a thing we all must do, sometimes--"
"Which will make the cost to you about equal to a glass a day?"
"I suppose it will; but that's nothing."
"Six glasses a week at sixpence each, will make just the sum of
three shillings, which added to the cost of tobacco, will make fifty
cents a week for beer and tobacco, or what would amount to a hundred
dollars and over in four years."
"Dear knows, a poor mechanic has few enough comforts without
depriving himself of trifles like these," said Johnson.
"By giving up such trifles as these, for trifles they really are,
permanent and substantial comforts may be gained. But, besides
chewing tobacco and drinking beer, you indulge yourself in a plate
of oysters, now and then, do you not?"
"Certainly I do. A hard-working man ought to be allowed to enjoy
himself a little sometimes."
"And this costs you two shillings weekly?" said the persevering
"At least that," was replied.
"How often do you take a holiday to yourself?"
"Not often. I do it very rarely."
"Not oftener than once a month?"
"Yes, I suppose I take a day for recreation about once in a month,
and that is little enough, dear knows."
"You spend a trifle at such times, of course?"
"Never more than half a dollar. I always limit myself to that, for I
cannot forget that I am a poor journeyman mechanic."
"Does your wife take a holiday, too?" asked the friend, with
something significant in his look and tone.
"No," was replied. "I often try to persuade her to do so; but she
never thinks she can spare time. She has all the work to do, and
three children to see after; and one of them, you know, is a baby."
"Do you know that this day's holiday once a month, costs you exactly
twenty-two dollars a year?"
"No, certainly not, for it costs no such thing."
"Well, let us see. Your wages per day come to one dollar
thirty-three cents and one-third. This sum multiplied by twelve, the
number of days lost in the year, gives sixteen dollars. Half a
dollar spent a day for twelve days makes six dollars, and six
dollars added to sixteen amount to twenty-two. Now, have I not
calculated it fairly?"
"I believe you have," replied Johnson, in an altered tone. "But I
never could have believed it."
"Add to this, thirteen dollars a year that you pay for oysters, and
"Not so fast, if you please. I spend no such sum as you name, in
"Let us try our multiplication again," coolly remarked the friend.
"Twenty-five cents a week multiplied into fifty-two weeks, gives
exactly thirteen dollars. Isn't it so?"
"Humph! I believe you are right. But I never would have thought of
"Add this thirteen dollars to the twenty-two it costs you for twelve
holidays in the year, and this again to the price of your beer and
tobacco, and you will have just sixty-one dollars a year that might
be saved. A little more careful examination into your expenses,
would, no doubt, detect the sum of fourteen dollars that might be as
well saved as not, which added to the sixty-one dollars, will make
seventy-five dollars a year uselessly spent, the exact sum I am able
to put into the Savings' Bank."
Johnson was both surprised and mortified, at being thus convinced of
actually spending nearly one-fifth of his entire earnings in
self-gratification of one kind or another. He promised both himself
and his friend, that he would at once reform matters, and try to get
a little a-head, as he had a growing family that would soon be much
more expensive than it was at present.
Some months afterward, the friend who had spoken so freely to
Johnson, met him coming out of a tavern, and in the act of putting
tobacco in his mouth. The latter looked a little confused, but said
with as much indifference as he could assume:
"You see I am at my old tricks again?"
"Yes, and I am truly sorry for it. I was in hopes you were going to
practice a thorough system of economy, in order to get beforehand."
"I did try, but it's no use. As to giving up tobacco, that is out of
the question. I can't do it. Nor could you, if you had ever formed
the bad habit of chewing or smoking."
"We can do almost any thing, if we try hard enough, Johnson. We
fail, because we give up trying. My tobacco and cigars used to cost
me just twice what yours cost you, and yet I made a resolution to
abandon the use of the vile weed altogether, and what is better,
have kept my resolution. So, you see, the thing can be done. All
that is wanted, is sufficient firmness and perseverance. I used to
like a glass of ale, too, and a plate of oysters, but I saw that the
expense was rather a serious matter, and that the indulgence did not
do me a particle of good. So I gave them up, also; and if you try
hard enough, you can do it, too."
"I don't know--perhaps I might; but somehow or other, it strikes me
that seventy or eighty dollars a year, laid by in the Savings' Bank,
is rather a dear saving, if made at the expense of every comfort a
poor man has. What good is the money going to do?"
"A strange question, that, to ask, Johnson. I will tell you what
good it is going to do me. I intend saving every cent I can possibly
lay by, until I get five hundred dollars; and then I mean to set up
my trade for myself, and become a master-workman. After that, I hope
to get along a little faster, and be able to send my children, who
will be pretty well advanced by the time, to better schools. I shall
also be able, I hope, to get help for my wife, who will need
assistance in the house."
"All very well to talk about, but not so easily done," replied
"I don't know. For every effect there is an adequate cause. The
cause of all this will be the saving of seventy-five dollars a year.
This I have been doing for three years, and I hope to be able to do
it for three or four years longer. Then the desired effect, in a
capital of five hundred dollars, upon which to commence business,
will be produced. Is it not so?"
"Yes, I suppose it is. But it is one thing to commence business, and
another thing to succeed in it. There are plenty of chances in favor
of your losing every cent you have, and then being obliged to go
back to journey-work, which will not be the most agreeable thing in
the world. For my part, I would much rather enjoy what little I have
as I go along, than stint and deny myself every thing comfortable
for six or seven years, in order to set up business for myself, and
then lose every dollar. It is not every man, I can tell you, who is
fit to go into business, nor every man who can succeed, if he does.
The fact is, there must be journeymen as well as master-workmen. As
for me, I have no taste for going into business, and don't believe I
should succeed if I did set up for myself. I expect to work
journey-work all my life, and might just as well take my comfort as
I go along."
"I shall not attempt to dispute what you say about some men being
born to be journeymen, and others to be master-workmen," replied the
friend of Johnson, "for I am very well aware that the gifts of all
are different; and that some men are so peculiarly constituted, that
they would not succeed if they were to set up business for
themselves. But the want of a business capacity, or inclination, is
no reason at all why a journeyman mechanic should not save every
cent he can."
"What good will it do him? He is bound to be a poor worker all his
life, and why should he deny himself the few comforts he has as he
goes along, in order to lay by a hundred or two dollars?"
"I am surprised to hear you ask such a question, Johnson. But I will
answer it by saying, that he should do it for the very reason that I
save my money; that is, to enable him to educate his children well,
to lighten his own and his wife's toil, when they grow older, and to
be able to obtain for his family more of the comforts of life than
they now enjoy."
"Don't exactly see how all this is to be achieved. Suppose he get
together as much as five hundred dollars; and instead of risking it
in business, he send his children to some expensive schools, hire
help for his wife, and take some comfort as he goes along; how long
do you suppose his five hundred dollars will last? But two years,
and then he must come down again and be ten times as unhappy, for it
is a much easier matter to get up than to go down."
"Pardon me, Johnson," replied his friend, "but I must say you are a
very short-sighted mortal. If you can't imagine any better mode of
using your five hundred dollars after you have saved it, I don't
blame you for not caring about making the attempt to do so. But I
can tell you a better way."
"Well, let us hear it."
"With your five hundred dollars, after you had saved it, you could
buy yourself a snug little cottage, with an acre of ground around
it. How much rent do you pay now?"
"Seventy-five dollars a year."
"Of course this would be saved after that, which, added to what you
were already saving, would make a hundred and fifty dollars a year.
Take fifty of that to buy yourself a cow, some pigs, and chickens,
and to get lumber for your pig-sty, hen-house and shed for your cow
in winter, and you would still have a hundred dollars left, the
first year, to go into the Savings' Bank. Your garden, which you
could work yourself by rising an hour or two earlier in the morning;
your cow, your chickens and your pigs, would make a sufficient
saving in your expenses to pay for all additional charges in
entering your children at better schools. In three years more,
laying by a hundred and fifty dollars a year, which you could easily
do, would give you enough to buy another cottage and an acre of
ground, which you could easily rent to a good tenant for eighty
dollars a year. In three years more, going on with the same economy,
you would have seven hundred dollars more to invest, which could be
done in property that would yield you seventy or eighty dollars a
year additional income. By this time the village would have grown
out toward your grounds, and perhaps doubled, may be quadrupled
their value for building lots, some of which you could sell, and
adding the amount to the savings of a couple of years, be able to
build one or two more comfortable little houses on your own lots.
Going on in this way, year after year, by the time your ability to
work as a journeyman began to fail you, the necessity for work would
not exist, for you would have a comfortable property, the regular
income from which would more than support you. Now all this may be
done, by your simply giving up your tobacco, beer and oysters, and
your day's holiday once a month. Is not the result worth the
trifling sacrifice, Johnson?"
"It certainly is," was the serious reply. "You have presented a very
attractive picture, and I suppose it is a true one."
"It is, you may depend upon it. Every journeyman mechanic, if he be
industrious and have a prudent, economical wife, as you have, may
accumulate a snug little property, and live quite at his ease, when
he passes the prime of life. Is it not all very plain to you."
"It certainly is, and I am determined that I will try to get a-head
just in the way that you describe. If you can save seventy-five
dollars a year, there is no good reason why I should not do the
"None in the world. Only persevere in your economy and self-denial,
and you are certain of accomplishing all I have set forth."
We are sorry that we cannot give as good an account of Johnson as we
could wish. He tried to be economical, and to break himself of his
bad habits of chewing, drinking, and other self-indulgences, for a
little while, and then sunk down into his old ways and went on as
Hopelessly his poor wife, now in ill health, is toiling on, and will
have to toil on until she sink, from exhaustion, into the grave, and
her children become scattered among strangers, to bear the hard lot
of the orphan.
How many hundreds are there like Johnson who spend as they go, in
self-indulgence, what, if properly hoarded, would make their last
days bright with life's declining sunshine.