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Vanity Punished (a dramatic piece),
[Spell and write] comparatively, indicating, conscience, possessed, cultivated, fami.
liarity, millionaire, additional, necessary, independence, decided, solicitations, premature, respectable, wretchedness, benefactor.
ONE day, while walking along the road, I overtook a carrier's cart, and entered into conversation with the carrier. He was a comparatively young man, of good exterior, his looks indicating robust health and a good conscience. In the course of conversation, I learned that he possessed some acres of land, which he cultivated in the intervals of carrying goods. He was telling me the history of his little estate, as he laughingly called it, when a man passed us, miserably clad, bent, and with
gray hair hanging down on his shoulders. As he passed, I observed him. He gave a drunken salutation to the carrier, who replied in a tone of familiarity which surprised me.
Is he a friend of yours ?' I asked.
'That man,' said he, 'is my greatest benefactor.' I looked surprised.
• That may surprise you,' he continued ; but it is easily explained. John Pick (for that is his name) and I were brought up from infancy as neighbours. When a young man, John was a good enough fellow, but loved to lead a “jolly life," as it is called. We were engaged by the same master; and, the first morning on our way to work, John and our other fellow-workmen stopped at a tavern to have a morning-glass. I stood at the door, doubtful how to act, but they all pressed me to enter.
“I see,” said John, “he is afraid of being ruined ; a penny saved, he perhaps thinks, will make a millionaire of him !"
The bystanders laughed; I felt ashamed, and took my glass with the others. Meanwhile, I was set a-thinking by John's remark, and all day while at work I reflected on what he had said. The price of the glass of spirits was not worth mentioning ; but repeated daily, it ended by costing £1, 108. 5d. a year. I at once set to counting what could be done with this sum.
“ £1, 10s. 5d.," I said to myself, " when one takes up house, will enable me to rent an additional room- --that is to say, it will be an ease to my wife, a source of health to the children, and of good-humour to the husband.
“ It would furnish fuel for the winter, and give us sun in our little house, when there is nothing but snow outside.
“It is the price of a goat, whose milk would add to our home comforts.
“ It is the cost of putting two or three children to school.”
Then turning my thoughts in another direction, I said :