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OLD LETTERS. I HAVE often noticed that almost every one has his own individual small economies-careful habits of saving fractions of pennies in some one peculiar direction — any disturbance of which annoys him more than spending shil. lings or pounds on some real extravagance. An old gentleman of my acquaintance, who took the intelligence of the failure of a Joint-Stock Bank, in which some of his money was invested, with stoical mildness, worried his family all through a long summer's day, because one of them had torn (instead of cutting) out the written leaves of his now useless bank-book ; of course, the corresponding pages at the other end came out as well; and this little unnecessary waste of paper (his private economy) chafed him more than all the loss of his money. Envelopes fretted his soul terribly when they first came in; the only way in which he could reconcile himself to such waste of his cherished article was by patiently turning inside out all that were sent to him, and so making them
serve again. Even now, though tamed by age, I see him casting wistful glances at his daugh. ters when they send a whole instead of a half sheet of note-paper, with the three lines of acceptance to an invitation, written on only one oi the sides. I am not above owning that I have this human weakness myself. String is my foible. My pockets get full of little hanks of it, picked up and twisted together, ready for uses that never come. I am seriously annoyed if any one cuts the string of a parcel, instead of patiently and faithfully undoing it fold by fold. How people can bring themselves to use India-rubber rings, which are a sort of deifi. cation of string, as lightly as they do, I can not imagine. To me an India-rubber ring is a precious treasure. I have one which is not new; one that I picked up off the floor, nearly six years ago. I have really tried to use it; but my heart failed me, and I could not commit the extravagance.
Small pieces of butter grieve others. They can not attend to conversation, because of the annoyance occasioned by the habit which some people have of invariably taking more butter than they want. Have you not seen the anxious look (almost mesmeric) which such per sous fix on the article? They would feel it a
relief if they might bury it out of their sighty by popping it into their own mouths, and swallowing it down; and they aro really made hap. py if the person on whose plate it lies unused. suddenly breaks off a piece of toast (which he does not want at all) and eats up his butter They think that this is not waste.
Now Miss Matty Jenkyns was chary of can. dles. We had many devices to use as few as possible. In the winter afternoons she would sit knitting for two or three hours; she could do this in the dark, or by fire-light; and when I asked if I might not ring for candles to finish stitching my wristbands, she told me to “keep blind man's holiday.” They were usually brought in with tea; but we only burned one at a time. As we lived in constant preparation for a friend who might come in any evening (but who never did), it required some contrivance to keep our two candles of the same length, ready to be lighted, and to look as if we burned two always. The candles took it in turns; and, whatever we might be talking about or doing, Miss Matty's eyes were habit. ually fixed upon the candle, ready to jump up and extinguish it, and to light the other before they had become too uneven in length to be re. stored to equality in the course of the evening
One night, I rernember that this candle econ. omy particularly annoyed me. I had been very much tired of my compulsory “blind man's holiday,” especially as Miss Matty had fallen asleep, and I did not like to stir the fire, and run the risk of awakening her; so I could not even sit on the rug, and scorch myself with sewing by fire-light, according to my usual oustom. I fancied Miss Matty must be dreaming of her early life; for she spoke one or two words, in her uneasy sleep, bearing reference to persons who were dead long before. When Martha brought in the lighted candle and tea, Miss Matty started into wakefulness, with a strange, bewildered look around, as if we were not the people she expected to see about her. There was a little sad expression that shadowed her face as she recognized me; but immediately afterward she tried to give me her usual smile. All through tea-time, her talk ran upon the days of her childhood and youth. Perhaps this reminded her of the desirableness of looking over all the old family letters, and destroying such as ought not to be allowed to fall into the hands of strangers; for she had often spoken of the necessity of this task, but had al. ways shrunk from it, with a timid dread of something painful. To-night, however, she rose up after tea, and went for them-in the dark , for she piqued herself on the precise neatness of all her chamber arrangements, and used to look uneasily at me when I lighted a bed-candle to go to another room for any thing. When she returned, there was a faint, pleasant smell of Tonquin beans in the room. I had always noticed this scent about any of the things which had belonged to her mother; and many of the letters were addressed to her-yellow bundles of love-letters, sixty or seventy years old.
Miss Matty undid the packet with a sigh ; but she stifled it directly, as if it were hardly right to regret the flight of time, or of life either We agreed to look them over separately, each taking a different letter out of the same bundle, and describing its contents to the other, before destroying it. I never knew what sad work the reading of old letters was before that evening, though I could hardly tell why. The letters were as happy as letters could be-at least those early letters were. There was in them a vivid and intense sense of the present time, which seemed so strong and full, as if it could never pass away, and as if the warm, living hearts that so expressed themselves could never die, and be as nothing to the sunny earth. I should have felt less melancholy, I believe, if