The original £15,000 had increased in eleven years to over £60,000; the accumulated interest, which, of course, I had reinvested, had come to about £10,000 more, so that Ernest was then worth over £70,000. At present he is worth nearly double that sum, and all as the result of leaving well alone.

Large as his property now was, it ought to be increased still further during the year and a half that remained of his minority, so that on coming of age he ought to have an income of at least £3,500 a year.

I wished him to understand book-keeping by double entry. I had myself as a young man been compelled to master this not very difficult art; having acquired it, I have become enamoured of it, and consider it the most necessary branch of any young man's education after reading and writing. I was determined, therefore, that Ernest should master it, and proposed that he should become my steward, book-keeper, and the manager of my hoardings, for so I called the sum which my ledger showed to have accumulated from £15,000 to £70,000. I told him I was going to begin to spend the income as soon as it had amounted up to £80,000.

A few days after Ernest's discovery that he was still a bachelor, while he was still at the very beginning of the honeymoon, as it were, of his renewed unmarried life, I broached my scheme, desired him to give up his shop, and offered him £300 a year for managing (so far indeed as it required any managing) his own property. This £300 a year, I need hardly say, I made him charge to the estate.

If anything had been wanting to complete his happiness it was this. Here, within three or four days, he found himself freed from one of the most hideous, hopeless liaisons imaginable, and at the same time raised from a life of almost squalor to the enjoyment of what would to him be a handsome income.

`A pound a week,' he thought, `for Ellen, and the rest for myself.'

`No,' said I, `we will charge Ellen's pound a week to the estate also. You must have a clear £300 for yourself.'

I fixed upon this sum, because it was the one which Mr Disraeli gave Coningsby when Coningsby was at the lowest ebb of his fortunes. Mr Disraeli evidently thought £300 a year the smallest sum on which Coningsby could be expected to live, and make the two ends meet; with this, however, he thought his hero could manage to get along for a year or two. In 1862, of which I am now writing, prices had risen, though not so much as they have since done; on the other hand, Ernest had had less expensive antecedents than Coningsby, so on the whole I thought £300 a year would be about the right thing for him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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