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Miscellany: The Bargain-buyer

Miscellany: The Bargain-buyer image
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Mrs. Ilardcastle was a very honest, conscicntious woinan - in herownesiimation. She would not wrong another for lier right hand - -if shc knew it. Andyct, as she was an invetérate bargain-buyer, scarcely a week passed that she did not do wrong to some one, as all bargainbuyers invariably do. A moral dissection ofone ofthis class of persons would prosentavery interesting case for examinationj but if we were to make such a dissection here, we inight be thought too hard upon the unintentipnal injurers, and" thus fail in producing the good eiFect we desire. We will not linger, therefore, to do a work of questionable utility. Mrs. Hardeastle, as we have intimated, was a bargain-buyer. Not, however, of that class whobuy a thingmerely because it is cheap, whether it is needed or not. No, to get things at a rninimum-price was not so much with' her a passion as a principie. It was not because an article was cheap that she wanled it, but it was because she had use for a thing that she Avanted it cheap. If a. storekeeper stated very frankly that heonlymade half a cent profit on a yard of goods, that wás no inducement for her to buy, even i f she considered the articles very cheap. 'We put it to you at cost, ïnadanï,' had a Ht.tle ftiore effect. . But 'It really cost us more money, madam, than we ask you for it,' were strong influencing words. If, after that, one or two cents a yardf less would be faken she was sur'e to buy. One pl-easant, sun?hiny morning, Mrs. Hardeastle started out ta buy a-number of for spring wear. She first entered a store where bonnets were sold.-She wanted one for herself, and ohe for her eldest daughter, Margaret, a girl of fourteen, who accompanied her. A beautiful Florence braid toucled her heart at first sight. ♦What is th pricei' she asked 'Six dollars, ma'am.''Six dollars!' in a tone of surprise, 'Oh, no, I can't givesuch a price.' 'We have a very fair article much lower, madam,' jeturned the smiling shopkeeper, handing down other bonnets. - Mrs. Hardcastleglanced at these, and then tossed them away with a sligl)t air of contempt aside, half muttering as she did so, 'Too common.' 'You wil] find this a very cheap bonnet,' resumed the shop-keeper, taking up the one his customer had first selected. 'Six dollars, did you say?' 'Yes - six is the price.' 'Deai' enough, in all conscience.' The shopkëeper was anxious to sell. 'Perhaps I can make the price to suit 3'ou,' he said. Tdon't know,' replied Mrs. Hardcastle, whose fancy was captivated by the bonnet, and who in fact, thought the price quite moderate - 'I would'nt give anything like what you ask.' 'What would you give?' 'Not over four dollars.' The bonnet feil from the hands of the shopkëeper as sUddenly as the smile fel from his face. 'Four dollars!' he ejaculated in surprise. 'Bless me! I' 11 buy as many bonnets like that for five as you can bring me.' 'Just as you like,' said Mrs. Hardcastle, with digmty, turning away from the counter, and leaving the store. 'No doubt tliat woman thinks herself very honest,' mutteréd the disappointed shop-man, as he restored the bonnets to their places on the shelves. 'But I don't see much honesty in seeking to rob a dealer of his profits. Profils! Precious little profit would she leave me, or even costs - I remember herof old. Lastyear l sold her a bonnet for four dollars that cost me four and a half, and richly worth fivedollarsof any body's monèy. 1 showed her the Invoiee by which I had set upon the bonnet, four dollars and three quarters, was only twenty-five cents more t'han the bonnet actually cost me. I looked ut her the next Sunday in church, piously. bending over her prnyer book, and wondered if her conscience was hardened with the seventy-five cents out of which she had cheated me. I had heavy paynients to make in a few days and sacrificed my göods rather than not sell at all." But we will leave the disappointed shopkeeper and ibllow Mrs. Hardcastle. After visiting nearly all the retail bonnet stores she was satisfied that even at the price asked for the one that had at first pleased her, it was the best and cheapest she could get. She consequently returned to the store where she had seen it, after having bought various articles that were needed in her family; but none of these were taken until it had been declared that eachhad been parted at or below cost. 'Let me see that bonnet again,' she said, as she came up to the counter. 'Yes, ma'am;' and the shopkëeper bowed and smiled with his very best grace. The bonnet was again laid before the customer. '1 don't think tlns is as fine as one offcred as at Mason's for four and a half,' Mrs. Hardcastle said to her daughter,in an under tone, yet loud enough for the quick ear of the shopman, for which it was really intended. The more innocent girl made no reply. She remembered that her mother had saidof the bonnet at Mason's that it did not compare with this. 'I like this 'bonnet very well,' Mrs. Hardcastle said, now addressing the shopkeeper, 'but the price you ask for it is out of the question. 1 have seen a great many bonnels this morning, and much cheaper ones than this, but I thought I would just glance at it again before buying. 1 can't say it looks as fine as I thought it did when I first' examined it. - Five dollars 1 believe yóu asked for it.' 'No ina'nm, six.' 'Six! Oh, dear!' pushing the bonnet away as she spoke. 'Yes, ma'am. It cost me five and ahalf. And I cannot make up my rerits at a less profit than fifty cents on s'uch an article.' 'Well, I will make my offer for it, and tben you can do as you please.' 'JLet me hear you'r offer 'Five dollars is the utmost cent I will give.' 'Five dollars! but didn't 1 just say that at cost me five and ahalf?' 'Y'ou can do as you like!' coldfy returned the customer. I can suit myself very well at that pricé. Indeed, there is a bonnet at Mason's for four and a half that I don't know but I would choose in' preference to this at the same price. Come Margaret,'' turning to her daughter, 'let us go rouïjd' to Masoh'sJ the one there will suit very well.' The nïolner and' daughter made a movement to go. This va& the mofriènt:of trial. The storekeeper had stated very truly the cost of his article. But he hated to let a customer with money depart, especially as he was rather hard pushed, a condition in which he too often found himself placed. 'Ifl say five ántí a half, exactly the price I paid for the bonnet, you will not of course hesitate. I never like to let a customer go without being accommodated,' he said. 'No!' was the firm reply. 'If you choose to say five, well and good; if not I will take the one at Mason's; ad then I am ijot sure but that I shall make the best bargain.' 'You will have to take it, I suppose,' was replied to this in a half relucían: voice. 'The cheapest bonnet I ever bought,' Mrs. Hardcasile said, gaily, to her daughter as they left the store. 'I had no idea he would take five, for it is worth every cení of six dollars. You see now how much may be gained by knowing what you are about. He would have taken six dollars without aconscientious scruple, if I had been dunce enough to pay it. - But I understand these men, too well.' 'But the bonnet cost him five dollars and ahalf. How could he aíford to sell it for five dollars?' asked the simple minded daughter. írrhat's clear enough - he is hard pushed for money; you can easily see when that's the case after you have shopped a year or fwo. Whenever you hit upon one of these men who happen to have a heavy pay ment for the next day, you can get things at your own prices. They must turn their goods into money somehow, and therefore make it a point never to let a customer go.' While Mrs. Hardcastle was running about from -store to store, endeavoring to get necessary articles at prices below therr actual cost, a scène was passing in a humble apartment in a house situated in a retired part of the city, the introduction of Which will give force to the moral which it is.our aim to incúlcate. In this apartment was but linie furniture - though all was neat and in perfect order. It contained a bed, upon which a woman past the prime of life lay, propped up with a pillow, engaged in knitting. A young girl, not over fifteen sat near a window, workinga finecape,in imitationof French needie work. They were mot her and daughter. Both worked steadily, but in silence. While thus occupied, there was a hard, quick rap at the door. The inmates started involuntarily at the sound. In answer to a timidly uttered, 'Come in' the door was swung open and a stout lad, with a bold faced appearance, entered. 'Mr. Green,' he said, in a quick, somewhat insolent voice, aftcr stopping into the room a few paces, 'told me to teil you that you must pay the last month's rent to-morrow, or else move out. He does'nt want. to give you any trouble, but he can't aflbrd to let his houses for nothing.' 'Teil Mr. Green we will try and pay him to-morrow,' the mother said, in a feeble trembl ing voice. The lad hesitated a moment, and then went out, shutting the door hard as he did so. As soon as, he left the room, the daughter laid her work down, and went and stood by the bed upon which her invalid mother lay, looking the while anxiously in her face, thdt was very pale and much sunken. 'Mother,' she at löngth said, 'what can we do? Mr. Green is getting more and more urgent about his month's rent, althotigh it has only been du e for three days. It is five dollars, and we have only two.' 'I wish, now I come to think of it, that we had sent him that. But it is too lat.ei' 'By to-morrow we must try to have the whple nmouut. How soon will you get that cape done?' '1 have only a few stitches to set. A half hour's work will finish it.' 'That ought to bring five dollars.' 'Yes; I have seen many, no better, sell for ten dollars.' 'But that was French work.' 'I know; still it was no finer.' As the daughter said this, she lurned awny from the bedside, and resumed her work with renewed diligence. In about halfan houi the' cape was finished. 'Now mother,' she said, 'where had I better go and. sell it.' To this q.uestroii no reply was made for some moments. 'Ellen Jonessoldthe last one for you,' the mother at length said, speaking in a thoughtful but undeeideü" voice.' 'Yes, sold very well. You remember it broughf six dolfars in thé c'oürse of a few hours after ï left it in her neat liltle store.' 'Perhaps it would' be" betier for you to put this one there also And,'our pairs of children's slockings, I have ust finished - they may sell by to-morov.' 'Had'nt I better teil Ellen to let them ül go atany price ofFered for them! We rmst have inoney to pay Mr. Green by o-morrow morning; besides, we are out )f nearly every thing. We have but two Irawings of tea left and a few spoonfuls of sugar. The butter is all gone, and the lour too.' 'Yes, child, I think it wouldbe as weM o teil Ellen to get any thing she can for hem. Before our next month's rent is lúe, you can easily make another cape, md I can knit sevoral pair of stock in gs, mough tobuy all the little we eat.' With this understanding, Eunice, that vas the daughter's name, put on her hings and went with (he cape and four airs of stockings to the neat little trirnning store of Ellen Jones. 'I háve a few things here, Ellen,' Eunice ;aid, laying down the little package she ïeld in her hand, as she entered the store, that I want you to dispose of for me.- Dur rent is due, and Mr Green is troub)ling about it, so you must sell to the first iustomer, at the best pnce that can be ibtained.' As she said this, she unrolled the beautifully wrought cape, and showed it to Ellen. 'The handsomest one yet,' the laüer said, with a smile of great pleasure. - 'You improve very much, Eunice. This cape is richly worth nine or ten dollars.' 'Dut will not bring it of course.' 'No, I suppose not - it is not French - But it will bring five or six dollars easily.3 'You think so?' 'O, yes.' 'But not so soon as by to-morrow morning.' 'I'm afraid not, Eunice. But I wil put it into the window. We must hope for the best.' 'Sell it to the first one who will buy at any price. Mother promised to try anc let Mr. Green have the money to-morrow. And he will be sure to send.' 'Very well, Kunice; but I shall be sor. ry to let it go at anything less than five dollars.' 'It will bring that, at least I hope.' 'So do I.' Eunice then left the store. Ellen, as soon as she had gone out, took a neat box, and after laying a sheet of rose colored tissue paper upon the boitom of it, spread out upon this the exquisitely wrought cape, so as to show the needie work to the very best advantage. Thenshe placee it in the window in the most conspicuous position.' . Ten minutes afterwards, Mrs. Hardcastle carne along with her daughter, hei mind in quite a self satisfied mood at the result of her shopping expedition. The cape in Ellen's window caught Margaret's eye. 'There, mother,' she said, 'is the very thing I want.' Both mother and datighter siopped to examine the avticle of which the letter alluded. 'IsirL it a most beautiful pattern?' Margaret added, after both had looked at it for some moments. 'Yes, it is; and cheap, no doubt. You can often get great bargains in these little stores. People who have once been in good circumstances, are now compellec to do something, and often get up niost perfect specimens of needie work which are sold at half price, because they are of acknowledgèd domestic production. - Tii is is one of them, no doubt. Let us go in and price it.' 'Let me look at the cape in the window,' Mrs. Hardcastle said, entering, with her daughter, Ellen Jones little store. T"I 1 J , 1 . 1 he cape was placed before her. and cxamined mmulely. 'Tolerably well done, but inferior to the French lace work;' she remarked, carelessly, looking upasif she (hought but little of the cape. You certainly cannot have looked at it ver)' closely,' Ellen said; 'I think it equal to any French work I ever saw.' 'O yes I have. Put a Frénch cape along side of it and you will soon see the diilbrence.' Before making the remark Mrs. Hardcnstle hnè pretty well satisfied herself ihat no article by which the comparison uuld be made was in the shop. Ellen said no nxre, for she did not suppose' it would io any good, as" it was apparent the lady had no inclination to buy. 'What do you ask for it?' Mrs. Hardcastle said, carélessly.' retürning, the cape after she had looked at áeveral other articlés.- 'I sold one, not so handsomely dóhe as this, but by thé same hand, for six dollars ohly a' few weeks ago. This ought te hrhng ïraore thaiv thatj but as theson who worked it is in very destitute circumstances, and wants tnoney by tomorrow morning to pay a bilí Ihat she is troubled for, I wilí let it go for $5,00 - ' 'Five dollars! Yon certainly don't expect to get five dollars for thi.s! 'I cerlainly do, ma'am. And whoever buys it at that price will obtain one of Lhe best bargains she ever had.' 'íNonsenseí isn't worth over half that prrce;' and Mrs. Hardcastle made a movement toward the door. Ellen began to feel anxious. 'What will you give for il?' she asked, displaying too much eagerness. 'Well, I don't know that I care much about having it. 1 merely asked the price; but if you choose ,. to sell it for hree dollars, I might be induced to take t.' 'Three dollars!' éjaculated Ellen, shrink ng back f rom the counter. 'Certainly vou would not offer three dollars for a apeso richly worked as that.' 'I don't care, Miss, particularly aboutt,' was the reply, nmde in a slightly ofended tone. This, however, was assumed. 'Three dollars!' mused Ellen, half inclined to take even that poor offer, lest there should nol öe another chance to sell the cape. For fear another opportunity to dispose of it beforc to-morrow morning might not oceür. she at length said reluctantly - 'As the poor girl must have money, 1 1 will let this go for three dollars. But indeed, madam, it is not half of its real valué.' 'I don't care if T take it at that pnce; but I wouldn't pay a cent more for it.' The cape was carefully wrapped up for Mrs. Hardcastle, who paid the price agreed upon. 'What do you ask for these?' she inquired, lifting, as she spoke, the children's stockings which Eunicehad Ie ft upon the counter. 'They are worth a quarter of a dollar a pair, at the lowest. They are hand khit, and you can sce vcry finely done - worth as much again as stockings that are woven.' 'loo much,' replied the lady, indifierenlly tossing them aside. 'They belong to the same individual who worked the cape. As she is ingreat want of money, and anxious to have these articles sold, I will let them go at twenty cents a pair, if that will be any inducement.' Mrs. Hardcastle shook her head. 1 would'nt nu'nd givingyou fifleen cents a pair, though 1 don't care a greai deal about them.' . This offer mnde the heart of Ellen Jones beat with a quick indignant pulsation. - But she kept down her feelings as she quietly wrapped up the stockings and liauded them over to the customer. 'There, Margaret, that was a bargain worth making,' the mother said, as she regained the street with her daughter. - 'The cape is richly worth all that was asked for. But you see by perseverance and tnct, I got it for three dollars.' Margaret, to her credit, be it said, feit badly. While her mother had been selfishly intent upon getting the cape for half its real worth-, she had been thinking of the one who had wrought it, and whose extreme want had made it neccs.sary that the beautiful piece of work should be snerificed. She did not reply to what her mother said but walked home by hèr side in silence. As they pnssed a China store, a richcut glass dislï in the window attracted the oye of Mrs. Hardcastle. She went in and asked the price - it was seven dollars. 'Would'nt six dollars do for it?' 'No, madam, nor six dollars and ninety nine cents.' The man was in earnest, and Mrs. Hardcnitle' feit it; still the ruling passion was strong and she said, Pil give you six and a half.' 'Not a cent less than seven, ma'am.' 'Seven dollars - let me see! There is three dollars and sixty cents, and forty - that make fcur dollars; a dollar a-nda half and seventy cents, with thirty ánd forty - in all just sevon dollars that I have made this? morning by close burgaining; 1 can afford to get this dish.' This was not spoken aloud but oiVfy thought. 'Pil take it then at seven-,' Mrs. Hardcastle said; nnd paid over the money. - Rarely before had she reWrned home írom a shopping excursión so well satisíied with herself. On the nexf mb'rningEunice wéht early io the little stcre of Ellen Jones and received the amomt for which' the articles had sold. Elien would take no commission orr thé sales. Eunicewas disappointed - 'sad'ly disappoin(ed; but made no remarle cñ the smallness of the sum. 'This is all, dear mother!' shè saií wiíh a trembling' voice, and dim eyes, as" she kid th smaH sum she had received in herrand. 'Only three dollars and sixty cent-s br all! But right thankful was 1 for even .his. We can now pay Mr. Green, nnd ïave sixty cents left. On that we can jet along for several days, and somethirig ivill cöme in then as it always does. Our Father in Heaven - our only fïiend- He svill not forsake us.' 'No, my dear child - He that tempers :he wind to the shorn lamb will see that ;he blast ia not too strong for us,' the nother replied in a quivering voice, as Bunice leaned her head upon her bosom md wept. Jast then thcre carne a rap at the door. it wns the boy from Mr. Green. The nöney was ready for him. He look it md wem nway. And here we must leav hem. The reader needs no comments n order to make him conscious of the svils resulting from bargain-malcing, at least in this particular instance. He thal lempers the wind to the shorn lamb will. is the mother touchingly said, see that the blast is not too strong for them. But we will return for a moment or wo to Mrs. Hardcastle. There were iiscrepancies in her character that it may be well to present. She was, with all ihis selñshness flowing out in bargainmaking, exceedingly pioiiSj that is, as such persons always are - irrationally so. While careless about the principies from which she acted, she wasrigid in her obedience to exlernal things; that is, while she' indulged selfishness io the extent of deliberately wronging others, as has been seen, thus neglecting the weightier matters of the law, she gave tithes, of mint and cummin; - was punctilious in regard to certain externals of piety, such as a solemn, staid demeanor at public worship, with roany other things of whicb no reader need be reminded. - Dut one of her extremes we cannot o.-nit io mention - a little dialogue will present it more forcibly. A triend cailed to invite her to a party, at which there was to be dancing. Or.ce she had considered it a sin to be teen present where tiiere was dancing-, but he minister having expressed it as his opiniot that the children of professors rnigiit dance but uot professors themselves, ehe could ven tureto go loa par y where the young 'folks danced. JBut even in this there was one restrictiouas will be seen : 'There is to be dancing,' ehe said to the lad) who had mviïed her. 'Yes, we shaJl have a few cutiflions.' 'And niueic V 'Of cotirse.' 'Violin music ? 'Yee - we have engaged that kind of mu sic.1 'J am sorry for it, for I caanol come.' 'Why V 'I never go where there is violin music.' 'Mrs. Hardcastle !' 'It is truc, 1 think it wicked.' 'Wicked to listen to the violin ?' 'Certainly. It is profane, - the devii's mu sic' The Ludy lóbfe'ed ar Mrs. Hardcastle for a moment ín profound astonishment. Then she weak'y consented to have the violin music suspended, out of respect to her feelfugs, and the cotillions played on the piano ! 'Did you evor hear of such an absürdity ? this lady afterwards remarked lo a friend. 'Yes,' was ihe reply- 'a still greaferone - and in the person of this ve'ry Mrs. Hardcaslle.' 'Name it.' 'She has t wo pianos for her daughter - one in each partor.' 'Ye?, I have noticod thnt.' 'Do you know why she has two V No.' ♦I can leH you - one is for sacred mnsic, and the other for profane I' 'Jmpossible !' lt id true ; I had it from her owh lip?. If ony one wère tó' place a song tune upon the instrument consecraled to Bacred music, it would give her pious feelings á terrible shock - she Avenid olmosl bo tempted to send the instrument back ty ihe maker !' Alas ! there are too many in the worlil like Mrs. Hardcñstl. Too mnny who, like the Pharisees of eigliteen liundred years ago, strain at a gnat and ewallow a camel.


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