Well, he gave a good deal, anyhow—a good deal more than most men, he reflected. He looked at the later stubs and was gratified to find how large the amounts were,—they showed how rich he was,—and what a diversified list of charities he contributed to: hospitals, seminaries, asylums, churches, soup-kitchens, training schools of one kind or another. The stubs all bore the names of those through whom he contributed—they were mostly fashionable women of his acquaintance, who either for diversion or from real charity were interested in these institutions.
Mrs. Wright’s name appeared oftenest. Mrs. Wright was a woman of fortune and very prominent, he reflected, but she was really kind; she was just a crank, and, somehow, she appeared really to believe in him. Her husband, Livingstone did not like: a cold, selfish man, who cared for nothing but money-making and his own family.
There was one name down on the book for a small amount which Livingstone could not recall.—Oh yes, he was an assistant preacher at Livingstone’s church: the donation was for a Christmas-tree in a Children’s Hospital, or something of the kind. This was one of Mrs. Wright’s charities too. Livingstone remembered the note the preacher had written him afterwards—it had rather jarred on him, it was so grateful. He hated “gush,” he said to himself; he did not want to be bothered with details of yarn-gloves, flannel petticoats, and toys. He took out his pencil and wrote Mrs. Wright’s name on the stub. That also should be charged to Mrs. Wright. He carried in his mind the total amount of the contributions, and as he came to the end a half-frown rested on his brow as he thought of having to give to all these objects again.
That was the trouble with charities,—they were as regular as coupons. Confound Mrs. Wright! Why did she not let him alone! However, she was an important woman—the leader in the best set in the city. Livingstone sat forward and began to fill out his cheques. Certain cheques he always filled out himself. He could not bear to let even Clark know what he gave to certain objects.
The thought of how commendable this was crossed his face and lit it up like a glint of transient sunshine. It vanished suddenly as he began to calculate, leaving the place where it had rested colder than before. He really could not spend as much this year as last—why, there was—for pictures, so much; charities, so much, etc. It would quite cut into the amount he had already decided to lay by. He must draw in somewhere: he was worth only—the line of figures slipped in before his eyes with its lantern-slide coldness.
He reflected. He must cut down on his charities. He could not reduce the sum for the General Hospital Fund; he had been giving to that a number of years.—Nor that for the asylum; Mrs. Wright was the president of that board, and had told him she counted on him.—Hang Mrs. Wright! It was positive blackmail!—Nor the pew-rent; that was respectable—nor the Associated Charities; every one gave to that. He must cut out the smaller charities.