BREAKFAST, LUNCHEON, AND TEA
FAMILIAR TALK WITH THE READER.
I SHOULD be indeed flattered could I believe that you hail with as much pleasure as I do the renewal of the “Common-Sense Talks,” to which I first invited you four years ago. For I have much to say to you in the same free-masonic, free-and-easy strain in which you indulged me then.
It is a wild March night. Winter and Summer, Spring- time and Autumn, the wind sings, or plains at my sitting- room window. To-night its shout is less fierce than jocund to my ear, for it says, between the castanet passages of hail and sleet, that neither friend nor bore will interrupt our conference. Shutters and curtains are closed ; the room is still, bright, and warm, and we are no longer strangers. The poorest man of my acquaintance counts his money by the million, has a superb mansion he calls “ home,” a wife and beautiful children who call him “ husband ” and “ father.” He has friends by the score, and admirers by the hundred, for human nature has not abated one jot in pru- dential sycophancy since the Psalmist summed up a volume of satirical truth in the pretended “ aside ” — “ and men will praise thee when thou doest well unto thyself.” For all that, he of whom I write is a pauper, inasmuch as he makes his boast that he never experienced the emotion of gratitude. He has worked his own way in the world, he is wont to say : has never had helping hand from mortal man or woman. It is a part of his religion to pay for all he gets, and never to ask a favor.
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