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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

Extravagance is a peculiarity of women


when a woman is married, do

you think she loses all personal feeling? Do you think your glum look over the expenses of housekeeping is a fulfilment of your promise to love and cherish? Is it calculated to retain and increase her tenderness for you? Does it bring sunshine and lighten toil, and bless her with knightly grace? Do you not know that it is only a way of regretting that you married her? It is a way of saying that you did not count the cost. You may not present it to yourself in that light, but in that light you present it to her. And do you think it is a pleasant thing to her? You go out to your shop, or sit down to your newspaper, and forget all about it. She sits down to her sewing, or stands over her cooking-stove, and meditates upon it with an indescribable pain. I do not say that every kind of uneasiness regarding expense is or ought to be thus construed. There may be an uneasiness springing directly from love. A strong and great-hearted affection frets that it cannot minister the beauty and the comfort which it longs to do, or defend against the emergencies which a future may bring. But this uneasiness is rarely if ever mistaken. Love can usually find a way to soothe the sorrows of love, and a wife's hand can almost always smooth out the wrinkles from the brow which is corrugated only for her. The complaint which I mean is of quite another character. Women know it, if men do not;--the women who have suffered from it, for it is pleasant to think that there are women to whose experience every
such sensation is entirely foreign. These very men who complain because it costs so much to live will lose by bad debts more than their wives spend. They will, by sheer negligence, by a selfish reluctance to present a bill to a disagreeable person, by a cowardly fear lest insisting on what is due should alienate a customer, by culpable mismanagement of business, by indorsing a note, or lending money, through mere want of courage to say "No," or of shrewdness to detect dishonesty or incapacity, lose money enough to foot up half a dozen bills. They will waste money in cigars, in oyster-suppers, in riding when walking would be better for them, in keeping a horse which "eats his head off," in buying luxuries which they would be better off without, in sending packages and luggage by express, rather than have the trouble of taking them themselves, in numberless small items of which they make no account, but of which the bills make great account. If one might judge from the newspapers, extravagance is a peculiarity of women. So far as my observation goes, the extravagance of women is not for a moment to be compared with the extravagance of men.[3] A man is perversely, persistently, and with malice aforethought, extravagant. He is extravagant in spite of admonition and remonstrance. Where his personal comfort or interest is concerned, he scorns a sacrifice. He laughs at the suggestion that such a little thing makes any difference one way or another. He has not even the idea of economy. He does not know what the word means. He does not know the thing when he sees it. Women take to it naturally. A certain innate sense


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