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r BILLIARDS VERSUS HOME: Sketches of Many People. "Albert, I wish you would let me have five shillings." Kate Landman spoke very carefully, for she knew that her husband had not much money to spare; yet she spoke earnestly, and there was a world of entreaty in her look. What do you want five shillings for ?" asked Albert, not very pleasantly. I want to get some braid for my new dress." I thought you had the materials all on hand for that." "So I thought I' had; but Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Thompson both have a trimming of braid upon theirs, and it looks very pretty. It is very fashionable, and it certainly adds much to the dress." Plague take these women's fashions! Your end- less trimmings and thing-a-ma-gigs cost more than the dress is worth. It's nothing but shell out money when once a woman thinks of a new dress." Surely, Albert, I don't have many new dresses. I try to be as economical as I can." "It's a funny kind of economy, at all events; but if you must have it, I suppose you must." And Albert Landman taok out his purse and counted out five shillings, but he gave it grudgingly; and when he put the purse back into his pocket, he did it with an emphasis which seemed to say that he would not take it out again for a week. When Albert reached the outer door, on his way to his work, he found the weather so threatening that he went back to get his umbrella, and upon re-entering the sitting-room he found his wife in tears. She tried to hide the fact that she had been weeping, but she had been caught in the act, and she was asked what it meant. Good gracious I" cried the husband, I should like to know if you are crying at what I said about your dresB ? "I wasn't crying at what you said, Albert," replied Kate, tremulously; but you were so reluctant to grant me the little favour. I was thinking how hard I work-how I am tied to the house-how many little things I have to perplex me; and then to think-" Oh, pshaw! What do you want to be so foolish for ? And away started Albert Landman a second time; but not to escape so easily. In the hall he was met by his daughter Lizzie, a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked girl, ten years of age. "Oh, papa, give me a shilling." What! Oh, I want a shilling. Do, please, give it to me." What in the world do you want of it ? Are they changing school-books again ?" "No, I want to buy a hoop. Ellen Smith has got one, and so has Mary Back and Sarah Allen. Mr. Grant has got some real pretty ones to sell. Mayn't I have one ? "Nonsense! If you want a hoop go and get one off from an old barrel. I can't afford to be buying hoops for you to trundle about the streets." Please, papa." "No, I tell you! The bright blue eyes were filled with tears, and as the ohild's sobbing broke upon his ear Albert Lindman hurried from the house with some very impatient words upon his lips. This was in the morning. At noon, when he oame home to his dinner, there was a cloud over the house- hold. His wife was sober; and he was sober; and even Little Lizzie, usually so gay and blithesome, was sad and silent. But these things could not last long in that house- hold; for tho husband and wife loved each other devotedly, and were really, at heart, kind and for- bearing. When Albert came home to his supper Kate greeted him with a kiss, and in a moment the sun- shine came baok and had the lesson ended there the husband might have fancied that he had done nothing wrong-that the cloud had been but the exhalation of a domestic ferment for which no one was particularly responsible though he might not have banished the conviction that women's fashions were a nuisance and a humbug, as well as a frightful draft upon husbands' pockets. After tea Albert lighted a cigar and walked out. He had gone but a short distance when he met Lizzie. In her right hand she dragged an old hoop, which had been taken from a dilapidated flour-barrel, while with her left she was rubbing her red, swollen eyes. She was in deep grief, for she was sobbing painfully. He stopped hia child and asked her what was the matter. She answered, as well as her sobs would let her, that the other girls had laughed at her, and made fun of her old hoop. They all had nice, pretty hoops, while hers was ugly. Never mind," said Albert, patting the little one upon the head-for the child s grief touched him- perhaps we'll have a new hoop some time." Mayn't I have one now ? Mr. Grant's got one left—Oh such a pretty one The sobbing had ceased as the child caught her father's hand eagerly. Not now, Lizzie-not now. I'll think of it." Sobbing again, the child moved on towards home, dragging the old hoop after her. At one of the stores Albert Landman met some of his friends. Hallo, Albert, what's up?" Nothing in particular." What d'ye say to a game of billiards ? Good! I'm in for that." And away went Albert to the billiard, room, where he had a glorious time with his friends. He liked billiards. It was a healthy, pretty game; and the keeper allowed none but respectable people in his room. They had played four games. Albert had won two, and his opponauis had won two. "That's two- and-two," cried Tom Piper. "What d'ye say to playing ff? All right-go eon," replied Albert, full of anima- tion. So they played the fifth game, and he who lost was to pay for the nve games. It was an exciting contest; both made capital runs; but in the end Albert was beaten by just three poin-s, and, with a light laugh, he went up to settle the score. Five games, 8d. per game, 3s. 4d. Not much that for 'such sport; und he paid out the money with a good grace, never once seeming to feel that he couldn't afford it. "Have a cigar," said Tom. Yes." They lighted their cigars, and then sauntered down the room to watch other players. By-and-by Albert found himself seated over_ against a table at which some of his friends were playing, and close by him stood two gentlemen-both strangers to him-one of whom was explaining to the other the mysteries of the game. It is a healthy pastime," said he; "and certainly it is one which can have no evil tendency." Albert heard the remarks very plainly, and he had a curiosity to hear what the other, who seemed unac- quainted with billiards, would say. "I cannot, of course, assert that any game which calls for skill and judgment, and which is free from the attendant curse of gaming, is of itself an evil," remarked the second gentleman. Such things are only evils in so far as they excite and stimulate men beyond the bounds of healthful recreation." "That result can ba-dly follow such a game," said the first speaker. But the other shook his head. You are wrong there. The result can follow in two ways. First, it can lead men away from their busi- ness and, secondly, it can lead men to spare money who have not that money to spare. You will under- stand me. I would not cry down the game of billiards, for, if I understood it, I should certainly try you a game now bat whenever I visit a place of this kind 1 am lad to reflect uoon a most strange and prominent weakness of human nature as developed in our sex. For instance, observe that young man who is just now settling his bill at tha desk. He looks like a mechanic, and I should say, from his manner, and from the fact that he feels it his duty to go home at this hour, t1::w,t he has a wife and children. I see by his face that he is kind-hearted and generous, and I should judge that he meant to do about as near right as he can. He has been beaten, and he pays about four shillings for the recreation of some hours' duration. If you observe, you will sea that he pays it freely, and pockets the loss with a smile. Happy faculty! Bat how do you suppose it is in that young ma,¡;û home ? Suppose his wife had come to him this morning and asked him for a few shillings to spend for some trifling thing—some house- hold ornament, or some bit of jewellery—and suppose his little child had put in a piea for sixpence to buy paper doils and picture-books with, what would have been the result ? What do you think he would have answered ? Of fifty men just like him would not five. and-fortv have declared that they had not the money to spare for any such nonsense ? And, moreover, they would have said so, feeling that they were telling the truth. Am I not right? "Upon my soul," responded the man who under. stood billiards, you speak to the point. I know that young man who has just paid his score, and you have not misjudged him in a single particular. And, what is more, I happen to have a fact at hand to illustrate your charge. We have a club for an excellent literary paper in our village, and last year that young man was one of the subscribers. This year he felt obliged to discontinue it. His wife was very anxious to take it, for it had become a genial companion to her in her leisure moments; but he could not afford it. The club-rate was only 7s. 6d. per year." Aye-and so it goes," said the other gentleman. "While that man's wife may at this very moment be wishing that she had her paper to read, he is paying almost its full price for a year-for what ? Almost for nothing. And yet see how smilingly he does it. Ah! these poor, sympathising wives How many clouds darken upon them from the brows of their husbands when they ask for trifling sums of money, and how grudgingly the mite is handed out when it is given. What perfect floods of joy might that 3s. 4d. have poured upon the children of the unsuccessful billiard- player Ah! it is well for such wives and children that they do not know were all the money goes The game was finished at the nearest table; the two gentlemen moved on; and Albert Landman arose from his seat and left the room. Never before had he had just such thoughts as now possessed him. He had never dwelt upon the same ideas. That very morning his own true, faithful, loving wife had been sad and heart-sick because he had harshly and unkindly met her request for a small sum of money. And his sweet Lizzie had crept away to her home almost broken- hearted for the want of a simple toy such as her mates possessed. And yet the sum of both their wants amounted not to much more than he had paid away that evening for billiard-playing. Albert Landman wanted to be an honest husband and father, and the lesson was not lost upon him. On his way home he stopped at Mr. Grant's and pur- chased the best and prettiest hoop to be found, with a driving-stick painted red, white, and blue, and in the morning, when he beheld his child's delight, and had received her grateful, happy kiss, the question came to his mind—Which was the best and happiest result —this, or the five games at billiards F The hoop had cost one shilling. He could play two games less at billiards, and be the absolute gainer by the operation. A few mornings after this, as Albert arose from the breakfast. table, he detected an uneasy, wistful look upon his wife's face. Kate, what is it ? "Albert, if you could spare me half-a-crown this morning." t Certainly, my love. Anything in reason to make you happy." And out came the purse, and the money was handed over with a warm, genial smile. What! Tears at that ? Was it possible that she had been so little used to such scenes on his part, that so simple an act of loving-kindness thus affected her ? How many games of billiards would be required to give such satisfaction as Albert Landman carried with him en that morning to his shop ? A very simple story, is it not ? But how many may gain lasting profit by giving heed to the lesson!




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