Now, Uncle Hiram could partake of both without serious disadvantage either to his health or purse. But caring very little for either, he seldom used them. During the evening several gentlemen friends came in to call on Charley’s uncle, and again ale and cigars were put out.
Uncle Hiram went to calculating. Ale, fifty cents, at least, that day; sometimes less, sometimes more. Make the average half as much—twenty-five cents. Cigars always as much; frequently, as that day, treble the amount. In a month it would sum up, to the very lowest, fifteen dollars. And who could tell how much more? What would not that money, worse than lost, have secured for Charley’s wife and children?
Rest, health, peace and length of days, most likely.
Now, Uncle Hiram knew well enough how it was Charley did not have things beautiful without and around his premises, and why Nellie’s weary mind and tired hands could not have help and rest.
But, next, he must find out how it was that with Henry things were so very different.
The following day Uncle Hiram dined with Henry. Everything was excellent and well cooked; and Ada sat at the head of the table, with an easy, quiet grace, which perfectly relieved Uncle Hiram’s mind from any care for her. He knew very well Ada’s husband sought in every way to relieve her of all unnecessary care and anxiety. After dinner came tea and coffee—nothing more. When they retired from the table Henry said:
“Uncle, would you like a cigar or pipe? I’ll get you one in a few moments, if you say so.”
“And will you join me?” asked his uncle.
“I do not use either. I care not for the weed, and think it better not to cultivate a taste,” answered Henry.
“You are right, my boy—and how about wine or ale?”
“Nothing of the kind, uncle.”
“Total abstinence, is it, Henry?”
“I knew you were a temperate man, as is Charley. But he takes his ale, I notice,” said Uncle Hiram.
“Yes, I wish he did not; a man has no idea how such little things, as he thinks them, draw upon his purse.”
“I know, I know!” said Uncle Hiram. And he no longer wondered at the difference in Charley’s and Henry’s style of living. And so he had a good talk with Charley, and showed him how Henry, with the same salary, could keep two servants and beautify his home, and he not be able “to keep his head above water,” to use his own expression.
“Yes, my boy, the cause is just this—the difference between temperance and total abstinence. You’ll try it now, will you not, for your wife’s sake?” said Uncle Hiram.
“Indeed I will, sir, and with many thanks to you for opening my eyes,” answered Charley, who really loved his wife, but was thoughtless, and never for a moment had considered himself at all responsible for Nellie’s failing health, strength and beauty.