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    “Read this.”


    1.With her anxieties on Richard’s behalf, Mary’s ambitions for him — that he should climb the tree, make a name — also gradually sank to rest. Her mind was thus at liberty to follow its own bent. Fond though she was of her fellow-creatures, the formal round of social life had never made a very deep appeal to her: she liked to see people merry and enjoying themselves, but she herself needed something more active to engross her. Her house, well staffed, well run, claimed only a fraction of her attention. Hence she had plenty of time to devote herself to what Richard called her true mission in life: the care of others — especially of the poor and suffering, the unhappy and unsure. And many a heart was lightened by having Mary to lean on, her strong common sense for a guide. Her purse, too, was an unending solace. Even in the latter years in Ballarat, she had had to dispense her charities carefully, balancing one against another. Now her income was equal to all the calls made on it . . . and more . . . Richard generously bidding her add to her own pin-money anything left over from the handsome cheque he gave her for housekeeping expenses. And since he, mindful of his promise, never inquired what she did with it, she was at last free to give as royally as she chose . . . in any direction. But if he did not ask to see her pass-book, neither did she see his: he would not have her troubling her head, he said, about their general expenditure. At first she rather demurred at this: she would have liked to know how their outlay per month tallied with the sum at their disposal; and she missed the talks they had been used to have, about how best to portion out their income. But Richard said those days were over and done with: she would lose her way, he teased her, among sums of four figures — for, in a twinkling, his late-found affluence had thrown him back on the traditional idea that money affairs were the man’s province, not the woman’s. For her comfort, he stressed once more the fact that he did not intend to speculate; also that at long last, he would, despite the enormous premium, be able to insure his life. In the event of anything happening to him, she would be well provided for, and thus might spend what he gave her freely and without scruple. Yielding to these persuasions, Mary acquiesced in the new arrangement, and gradually slipped into the delightful habit of taking money for granted. After all, the confidence was mutual: he trusted her not to run up bills at milliner’s or jeweller’s; she, too, had to trust in her turn. She valued his faith in her, and was careful not to abuse it. Her own accounts were scrupulously kept: just as in the old days, she wrote down every shilling she spent, and knitted her brows over the halfpennies; with the result that she soon began to accumulate a tidy little nest-egg.
    2.When he had danced out — danced was the word that occurred to her to describe the new spring in his step, which seemed intolerant of the floor — had gone to consult the steward about the purchase of a special brand of champagne, which that worthy was understood to hold in store for an occasion such as this: when Mary sat down to collect her wits, she indulged in a private reflection which neither then nor later did she share with Richard. It ran: “Oh, how thankful I am we didn’t get the letter till we were safely away from that . . . from England. Or he might have taken it into his head to stop there.”
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