It was not only that he had to do so much household work, for even the cooking, cleaning up slops, bed-making and fire-lighting ere long devolved upon him, but his business no longer prospered. He could buy as hitherto, but Ellen seemed unable to sell as she had sold at first. The fact was that she sold as well as ever, but kept back part of the proceeds in order to buy gin, and she did this more and more till even the unsuspecting Ernest ought to have seen that she was not telling the truth. When she sold better—that is to say when she did not think it safe to keep back more than a certain amount, she got money out of him on the plea that she had a longing for this or that, and that it would perhaps irreparably damage the baby if her longing was denied her. All seemed right, reasonable, and unavoidable, nevertheless Ernest saw that until the confinement was over he was likely to have a hard time of it. All however would then come right again.
In the month of September 1860 a girl was born, and Ernest was proud and happy. The birth of the child, and a rather alarming talk which the doctor had given to Ellen sobered her for a few weeks, and it really seemed as though his hopes were about to be fulfilled. The expenses of his wife’s confinement were heavy, and he was obliged to trench upon his savings, but he had no doubt about soon recouping this now that Ellen was herself again; for a time indeed his business did revive a little, nevertheless it seemed as though the interruption to his prosperity had in some way broken the spell of good luck which had attended him in the outset; he was still sanguine, however, and worked night and day with a will, but there was no more music, or reading, or writing now. His Sunday outings were put a stop to, and but for the first floor being let to myself, he would have lost his citadel there too, but he seldom used it, for Ellen had to wait more and more upon the baby, and, as a consequence, Ernest had to wait more and more upon Ellen.
One afternoon, about a couple of months after the baby had been born, and just as my unhappy hero was beginning to feel more hopeful and therefore better able to bear his burdens, he returned from a sale, and found Ellen in the same hysterical condition that he had found her in in the spring. She said she was again with child, and Ernest still believed her.
All the troubles of the preceding six months began again then and there, and grew worse and worse continually. Money did not come in quickly, for Ellen cheated him by keeping it back, and dealing improperly with the goods he bought. When it did come in she got it out of him as before on pretexts which it seemed inhuman to inquire into. It was always the same story. By and by a new feature began to show itself. Ernest had inherited his father’s punctuality and exactness as regards money; he liked