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I know all about England

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I know all about England

Well, to be sure, when a man’s old, he ought to retire,” said I; there are always plenty to take his place.”

Ah, it’s easy to talk,” said Mr. Cresswell. It’s all very well for us to retire that have made money; but a man that{22} has only his pay, what is he to do? He has got that poor little widow-daughter of his to keep, and Fred is very unsettled, I’m afraid, and little comfort to his father. There’s a deal of difference, Miss Milly, between full-pay and half-pay. He’d have to cut down his living one half if he retired.”

That’s just exactly what I quarrel with in these grand times of ours,” said I; what’s the harm of cutting down one’s living one half? My own opinion is, I’d respect a man very much that did it. Great people can do it somehow. I wish you luxurious middle-class people would learn the way. But then you don’t stand by each other when you fall into poverty. You drop your friend when he can’t ask you to dinner. You are good to his children, and patronise them, and forget they were just the same as yours a little while ago. I don’t think we’ll ever come to any good in this country till we get back to knowing how to be poor.”

My dear lady, England never was in such splendid condition,” said Mr. Cresswell, with a smile at my ignorance. If we’ve forgotten how to save, we’ve learned how to grow rich.”

I know all about England,” said I; we read the Times; don’t you tell me. I’m anything but easy about England. Making money is no substitute in the world for saving it. I tell you, the world won’t be what I call right till a gentleman may be as poor as God pleases, without being ashamed of it; and have the heart to cut down his living one-half too.”

Well, well Miss Milly, ladies are always optimists,” said Mr. Cresswell; but I shouldn’t like to be poor myself, nor see Sara tried with economics. She don’t understand anything about them, that’s sure.”

The more’s the pity. What if she should marry a poor man?” said I.

She shan’t marry a poor man, my dear lady,” said Mr. Cresswell.

Upon which Sara lighted up. I knew she would. The dear child would do anything out of contradiction.

Rather a poor one than a rich one, papa,” cried Sara, with a little start of opposition. Godmamma is always quite right. It’s shocking how everybody worships rich people. If we were to live in a little cottage, now, and make a dozen poor people comfortable! instead of always living in that dull old house, and having the same chairs and tables, and looking at exactly the same things every day. Godmamma! I do so want my room fresh papered. I know every tint of that{23} pattern, till it makes me quite ill to look at it. Wouldn’t it be a thousand times more reasonable and like a Christian, if papa would stop giving stupid dinners, and taking me to stupid parties, and divide all his money with, say, a dozen poor families, and live in a sweet country cottage? It isn’t enough for us, you know, to make us great people. But it would be quite enough to give us all plenty to live upon, the dozen others and ourselves as well. Don’t you think it would be a great deal more like what a man should do, than keeping all one’s money to one’s self, like papa?”
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