After A Shadow and Other Stories by T. S. Arthur
I. AFTER A SHADOW.
II. IN THE WAY OF TEMPTATION.
III. ANDY LOVELL.
IV. A MYSTERY EXPLAINED.
V. WHAT CAN I DO?
VI. ON GUARD.
VII. A VISIT WITH THE DOCTOR.
VIII. HADN'T TIME FOR TROUBLE.
IX. A GOOD NAME.
X. LITTLE LIZZIE.
XI. ALICE AND THE PIGEON.
XII. DRESSED FOR A PARTY.
XIII. COFFEE vs. BRANDY.
XIV. AMY'S QUESTION.
XV. AN ANGEL IN DISGUISE.
XVI. WHICH WAS MOST THE LADY?
XVII. OTHER PEOPLE'S EYES.
I. AFTER A SHADOW.
"ARTY! Arty!" called Mrs. Mayflower, from the window, one bright
June morning. "Arty, darling! What is the child after? Just look at
him, Mr. Mayflower!"
I leaned from the window, in pleasant excitement, to see what new
and wonderful performance had been attempted by my little prodigy—my
first born—my year old bud of beauty, the folded leaves in whose
bosom were just beginning to loosen themselves, and send out upon the
air sweet intimations of an abounding fragrance. He had escaped from
his nurse, and was running off in the clear sunshine, the slant rays
of which threw a long shadow before him.
"Arty, darling!" His mother's voice flew along and past his ear,
kissing it in gentle remonstrance as it went by. But baby was in
eager pursuit of something, and the call, if heard, was unheeded. His
eyes were opening world-ward, and every new phenomenon—commonplace
and unheeded by us—that addressed itself to his senses, became a
wonder and a delight. Some new object was drawing him away from the
loving heart and protecting arm.
"Run after him, Mr. Mayflower!" said my wife, with a touch of
anxiety in her voice. "He might fall and hurt himself."
I did not require a second intimation as to my duty in the case.
Only a moment or two elapsed before I was on the pavement, and making
rapid approaches towards my truant boy.
"What is it, darling? What is Arty running after?" I said, as I
laid my hand on his arm, and checked his eager speed. He struggled a
moment, and then stood still, stooping forward for something on the
"O, papa see!" There was a disappointed and puzzled look in his
face as he lifted his eyes to mine. He failed to secure the object of
"What is it, sweet?" My eyes followed his as they turned upon the
He stooped again, and caught at something; and again looked up in a
perplexed, half-wondering way.
"Why, Arty!" I exclaimed, catching him up in my arms. "It's only
your shadow! Foolish child!" And I ran back to Mrs. Mayflower, with
my baby-boy held close against my heart.
"After a shadow!" said I, shaking my head, a little soberly, as I
resigned Arty to his mother. "So life begins—and so it ends! Poor
Mrs. Mayflower laughed out right merrily.
"After a shadow! Why, darling!" And she kissed and hugged him in
"So life begins—so it ends," I repeated to myself, as I left the
house, and walked towards my store. "Always in pursuit of shadows! We
lose to-day's substantial good for shadowy phantoms that keep our eyes
ever in advance, and our feet ever hurrying forward. No pause—no
ease—no full enjoyment of now. O, deluded heart!—ever
bartering away substance for shadow!"
I grow philosophic sometimes. Thought will, now and then, take up a
passing incident, and extract the moral. But how little the wiser are
we for moralizing! we look into the mirror of truth, and see
ourselves—then turn away, and forget what manner of men we are.
Better for us if it were not so; if we remembered the image that held
The shadow lesson was forgotten by the time I reached my store, and
thought entered into business with its usual ardor. I buried myself,
amid letters, invoices, accounts, samples, schemes for gain, and
calculations of profit. The regular, orderly progression of a fair
and well-established business was too slow for my outreaching
desires. I must drive onward at a higher speed, and reach the goal of
wealth by a quicker way. So my daily routine was disturbed by
impatient aspirations. Instead of entering, in a calm self-possession
of every faculty, into the day's appropriate work, and finding, in its
right performance, the tranquil state that ever comes as the reward of
right-doing in the right place, I spent the larger part of this day in
the perpetration of a plan for increasing my gains beyond, anything
"Mr. Mayflower," said one of the clerks, coming back to where I sat
at my private desk, busy over my plan, "we have a new man in from the
West; a Mr. B——, from Alton. He wants to make a bill of a thousand
dollars. Do you know anything about him?"
Now, even this interruption annoyed me. What was a new customer and
a bill of a thousand dollars to me just at that moment of time? I saw
tens of thousands in prospective.
"Mr. B——, of Alton?" said I, affecting an effort of memory. "Does
he look like a fair man?"
"I don't recall him. Mr. B——? Hum-m-m. He impresses you
"Yes, sir; but it may be prudent to send and get a report."
"I'll see to that, Edward," said I. "Sell him what he wants. If
everything is not on the square, I'll give you the word in time. It's
all right, I've no doubt."
"He's made a bill at Kline Co.'s, and wants his goods sent there
to be packed," said my clerk.
"Ah, indeed! Let him have what he wants, Edward. If Kline Co. sell
him, we needn't hesitate."
And turning to my desk, my plans, and my calculations, I forgot all
about Mr. B——, and the trifling bill of a thousand dollars that he
proposed buying. How clear the way looked ahead! As thought created
the means of successful adventure, and I saw myself moving forward
and grasping results, the whole circle of life took a quicker motion,
and my mind rose into a pleasant enthusiasm. Then I grew impatient for
the initiatory steps that were to come, and felt as if the to-morrow,
in which they must be taken, would never appear. A day seemed like a
week or a month.
Six o'clock found me in not a very satisfactory state of mind. The
ardor of my calculations had commenced abating. Certain elements, not
seen and considered in the outset, were beginning to assume shape and
consequence, and to modify, in many essential particulars, the grand
result towards which I had been looking with so much pleasure. Shadowy
and indistinct became the landscape, which seemed a little while
before so fair and inviting. A cloud settled down upon it here, and a
cloud there, breaking up its unity, and destroying much of its fair
proportion. I was no longer mounting up, and moving forwards on the
light wing of a castle-building imagination, but down upon the hard,
rough ground, coming back into the consciousness that all progression,
to be sure, must be slow and toilsome.
I had the afternoon paper in my hands, and was running my eyes up
and down the columns, not reading, but, in a half-absent way, trying
to find something of sufficient interest to claim attention, when,
among the money and business items, I came upon a paragraph that sent
the declining thermometer of my feelings away down towards the chill
of zero. It touched, in the most vital part, my scheme of gain; and
the shrinking bubble burst.
"Have the goods sold to that new customer from Alton been
delivered?" I asked, as the real interest of my wasted day loomed up
into sudden importance.
"Yes, sir," was answered by one of my clerks; "they were sent to
Kline Co.'s immediately. Mr. B——said they were packing up his
goods, which were to be shipped to-day."
"He's a safe man, I should think. Kline Co. sell him." My voice
betrayed the doubt that came stealing over me like a chilly air.
"They sell him only for cash," said my clerk. "I saw one of their
young men this afternoon, and asked after Mr. B——'s standing. He
didn't know anything about him; said B——was a new man, who bought a
moderate cash bill, but was sending in large quantities of goods to
be packed—five or six times beyond the amount of his purchases with
"Is that so!" I exclaimed, rising to my feet, all awake now to the
real things which I had permitted a shadow to obscure.
"Just what he told me," answered my clerk.
"It has a bad look," said I. "How large a bill did he make with
The sales book was referred to. "Seventeen hundred dollars,"
replied the clerk.
"What! I thought he was to buy only to the amount of a thousand
dollars?" I returned, in surprise and dismay.
"You seemed so easy about him, sir," replied the clerk, "that I
encouraged him to buy; and the bill ran up more heavily than I was
aware until the footing gave exact figures."
I drew out my watch. It was close on to half past six.
"I think, Edward," said I, "that you'd better step round to Kline
Co.'s, and ask if they've shipped B——'s goods yet. If not, we'll
request them to delay long enough in the morning to give us time to
sift the matter. If B——'s after a swindling game, we'll take a short
course, and save our goods."
"It's too late," answered my clerk. "B——called a little after one
o'clock, and gave notes for the amount of his bill. He was to leave
in the five o'clock line for Boston."
I turned my face a little aside, so that Edward might not see all
the anxiety that was pictured there.
"You look very sober, Mr. Mayflower," said my good wife, gazing at
me with eyes a little shaded by concern, as I sat with Arty's head
leaning against my bosom that evening; "as sober as baby looked this
morning, after his fruitless shadow chase."
"And for the same reason," said I, endeavoring to speak calmly and
"Why, Mr. Mayflower!" Her face betrayed a rising anxiety. My
assumed calmness and firmness did not wholly disguise the troubled
feelings that lay, oppressively, about my heart.
"For the same reason," I repeated, steadying my voice, and trying
to speak bravely. "I have been chasing a shadow all day; a mere
phantom scheme of profit; and at night-fall I not only lose my shadow,
but find my feet far off from the right path, and bemired. I called
Arty a foolish child this morning. I laughed at his mistake. But,
instead of accepting the lesson it should have conveyed, I went forth
and wearied myself with shadow-hunting all day."
Mrs. Mayflower sighed gently. Her soft eyes drooped away from my
face, and rested for some moments on the floor.
"I am afraid we are all, more or less, in pursuit of shadows," she
said,—"of the unreal things, projected by thought on the canvas of a
too creative imagination. It is so with me; and I sigh, daily, over
some disappointment. Alas! if this were all. Too often both the
shadow-good and the real-good of to-day are lost. When night falls
our phantom good is dispersed, and we sigh for the real good we might
"Shall we never grow wiser?" I asked.
"We shall never grow happier unless we do," answered Mrs.
"Happiness!" I returned, as thought began to rise into clearer
perception; "is it not the shadow after which we are all chasing,
with such a blind and headlong speed?"
"Happiness is no shadow. It is a real thing," said Mrs. Mayflower.
"It does not project itself in advance of us; but exists in the
actual and the now, if it exists at all. We cannot catch it by
pursuit; that is only a cheating counterfeit, in guilt and tinsel,
which dazzles our eyes in the ever receding future. No; happiness is
a state of life; and it comes only to those who do each day's work
peaceful self-forgetfulness, and a calm trust in the Giver of all
good for the blessing that lies stored for each one prepared to
receive it in every hour of the coming time."
"Who so does each day's work in a peaceful self-forgetfulness and
patient trust in God?" I said, turning my eyes away from the now
tranquil face of Mrs. Mayflower.
"Few, if any, I fear," she answered; "and few, if any, are happy.
The common duties and common things of our to-days look so plain and
homely in their ungilded actualities, that we turn our thought and
interest away from them, and create ideal forms of use and beauty,
into which we can never enter with conscious life. We are always
losing the happiness of our to-days; and our to-morrows never come."
I sighed my response, and sat for a long time silent. When the tea
bell interrupted me from my reverie, Arty lay fast asleep on my
bosom. As I kissed him on his way to his mother's arms, I said,—
"Dear baby! may it be your first and last pursuit of a shadow."
"No—no! Not yet, my sweet one!" answered Mrs. Mayflower, hugging
him to her heart. "Not yet. We cannot spare you from our world of
II. IN THE WAY OF TEMPTATION.
MARTIN GREEN was a young man of good habits and a good conceit of
himself. He had listened, often and again, with as much patience as
he could assume, to warning and suggestion touching the dangers that
beset the feet of those who go out into this wicked world, and become
subject to its legion of temptations. All these warnings and
suggestions he considered as so many words wasted when offered to
"I'm in no danger," he would sometimes answer to relative or
friend, who ventured a remonstrance against certain associations, or
cautioned him about visiting certain places.
"If I wish to play a game of billiards, I will go to a billiard
saloon," was the firm position he assumed. "Is there any harm in
billiards? I can't help it if bad men play at billiards, and
congregate in billiard saloons. Bad men may be found anywhere and
everywhere; on the street, in stores, at all public places, even in
church. Shall I stay away from church because bad men are there?"
This last argument Martin Green considered unanswerable. Then he
"If I want a plate of oysters, I'll go to a refectory, and I'll
take a glass of ale with my oysters, if it so pleases me. What harm, I
would like to know? Danger of getting into bad company, you say?
Hum-m! Complimentary to your humble servant! But I'm not the kind to
which dirt sticks."
So, confident of his own power to stand safely in the midst of
temptation, and ignorant of its thousand insidious approaches, Martin
Green, at the age of twenty-one, came and went as he pleased, mingling
with the evil and the good, and seeing life under circumstances of
great danger to the pure and innocent. But he felt strong and safe,
confident of neither stumbling nor falling. All around him he saw
young men yielding to the pressure of temptation and stepping aside
into evil ways; but they were weak and vicious, while he stood
firm-footed on the rock of virtue!
It happened, very naturally, as Green was a bright, social young
man, that he made acquaintances with other young men, who were
frequently met in billiard saloons, theatre lobbies, and eating
houses. Some of these he did not understand quite as well as he
imagined. The vicious, who have ends to gain, know how to cloak
themselves, and easily deceive persons of Green's character. Among,
these acquaintances was a handsome, gentlemanly, affable young man,
named Bland, who gradually intruded himself into his confidence.
Bland never drank to excess, and never seemed inclined to sensual
indulgences. He had, moreover, a way of moralizing that completely
veiled his true quality from the not very penetrating Martin Green,
whose shrewdness and knowledge of character were far less acute than
he, in his self-conceit, imagined.
One evening, instead of going with his sister to the house of a
friend, where a select company of highly-intelligent ladies and
gentleman were to meet, and pass an evening together, Martin excused
himself under the pretence of an engagement, and lounged away to an
eating and drinking saloon, there to spend an hour in smoking,
reading the newspapers, and enjoying a glass of ale, the desire for
which was fast growing into a habit. Strong and safe as he imagined
himself, the very fact of preferring the atmosphere of a drinking or
billiard saloon to that in which refined and intellectual people
breathe, showed that he was weak and in danger.
He was sitting with a cigar in his mouth, and a glass of ale beside
him, reading with the air of a man who felt entirely satisfied with
himself, and rather proud than ashamed of his position and
surroundings, when his pleasant friend, Mr. Bland, crossed the room,
and, reaching out his hand, said, with his smiling, hearty manner,—
"How are you, my friend? What's the news to-day?" And he drew a
chair to the table, calling at the same time to a waiter for a glass
"I never drink anything stronger than ale," he added, in a
confidential way, not waiting for Green to answer his first remark.
"Liquors are so drugged nowadays, that you never know what poison you
are taking; besides, tippling is a bad habit, and sets a questionable
example. We must, you know, have some regard to the effect of our
conduct on weaker people. Man is an imitative animal. By the way, did
you see Booth's Cardinal Wolsey?"
"A splendid piece of acting,—was it not? You remember, after the
cardinal's fall, that noble passage to which he gives utterance. It
has been running through my mind ever since:—"'Mark but my fall, and
that that ruined me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition:
By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by't?
Love thyself last: Cherish those hearts that hate thee:
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues; be just, and fear not.
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st, O Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr.'
"'Love thyself last.—Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy
country's, thy God's, and truth's.' Could a man's whole duty in life
be expressed in fewer words, or said more grandly? I think not."
And so he went on, charming the ears of Green, and inspiring him
with the belief that he was a person of the purest instincts and
noblest ends. While they talked, two young men, strangers to Green
came up, and were introduced by Bland as "My very particular
friends." Something about them did not at first impress Martin
favorably. But this impression soon wore off, they were so
intelligent and agreeable, Bland, after a little while, referred
again to the Cardinal Wolsey of Booth, and, drawing a copy of
Shakspeare's Henry VIII. from his pocket, remarked,—
"If it wasn't so public here, I'd like to read a few of the best
passages in Wolsey's part."
"Can't we get a private room?" said one of the two young men who
had joined Bland and Green. "There are plenty in the house. I'll see."
And away he went to the bar.
"Come," he said, returning in a few minutes; and the party followed
a waiter up stairs, and were shown into a small room, neatly
furnished, though smelling villanously of stale cigar smoke.
"This is cosy," was the approving remark of Bland, as they entered.
Hats and overcoats were laid aside, and they drew around a table that
stood in the centre of the room under the gaslight. A few passages
were read from Shakspeare, then drink was ordered by one of the the
party. The reading interspersed with critical comments, was again
resumed; but the reading soon gave way entire to the comments, which,
in a little while, passed from the text of Shakspeare to actors,
actresses, prima donnas, and ballet-dancers, the relative merits of
which were knowingly discussed for some time. In the midst of this
discussion, oysters, in two or three styles, and a smoking dish of
terrapin, ordered by a member of the company—which our young friend
Green did not know—were brought in, followed by a liberal supply of
wine and brandy. Bland expressed surprise, but accepted the
entertainment as quite agreeable to himself.
After the supper, cigars were introduced, and after the cigars,
cards. A few games were played for shilling stakes. Green, under the
influence of more liquor than his head could bear, and in the midst
of companions whose sphere he could not, in consequence, resist,
yielded in a new direction for him. Of gambling he had always
entertained a virtuous disapproval; yet, ere aware of the direction
in which he was drifting, he was staking money at cards, the sums
gradually increasing, until from shillings the ventures increased to
dollars. Sometimes he won, and sometimes he lost; the winnings
stimulating to new trials in the hope of further success, and the
losses stimulating to new trials in order to recover, if possible;
but, steadily, the tide, for all these little eddies of success, bore
him downwards, and losses increased from single dollars to fives, and
from fives to tens, his pleasant friend, Bland, supplying whatever he
wanted in the most disinterested way, until an aggregate loss of
nearly a hundred and fifty dollars sobered and appalled him.
The salary of Martin Green was only four hundred dollars, every
cent of which was expended as fast as earned. A loss of a hundred and
fifty dollars was, therefore, a serious and embarrassing matter.
"I'll call and see you to-morrow, when we can arrange this little
matter," said Mr. Bland, "on parting with Green at his own door. He
spoke pleasantly, but with something in his voice that chilled the
nerves of his victim. On the next day while Green stood at his desk,
trying to fix his mind upon his work, and do it correctly, his
"Martin, there's a young man in the store who has asked for you."
Green turned and saw the last man on the earth he desired to meet.
His pleasant friend of the evening before had called to "arrange that
"Not too soon for you, I hope," remarked Bland, with his courteous,
yet now serious, smile, as he took the victim's hand.
"Yes, you are, too soon," was soberly answered.
The smile faded off of Bland's face.
"When will you arrange it?"
"In a few days."
"But I want the money to-day. It was a simple loan, you know."
"I am aware of that, but the amount is larger than I can manage at
once," said Green.
"Can I have a part to-day?"
"I'll do the best in my power."
"Very well. To-morrow, at this time, I will call. Make up the whole
sum if possible, for I want it badly."
"Do you know that young man?" asked Mr. Phillips, the employer of
Green, as the latter came back to his desk. The face of Mr. Phillips
was unusually serious.
"His name is Bland."
"Why has he called to see you?" The eyes of Mr. Phillips were fixed
intently on his clerk.
"He merely dropped in. I have met him a few times in company."
"Don't you know his character?"
"I never heard a word against him," said Green.
"Why, Martin!" replied Mr. Phillips, "he has the reputation of
being one of the worst young men in our city; a base gambler's
stool-pigeon, some say."
"I am glad to know it, sir," Martin had the presence of mind, in
the painful confusion that overwhelmed him, to say, "and shall treat
him accordingly." He went back to his desk, and resumed his work.
It is the easiest thing in the world to go to astray, but always
difficult to return, Martin Green was astray, but how was he to get
into the right path again? A barrier that seemed impassable was now
lying across the way over which he had passed, a little while before,
with lightest footsteps. Alone and unaided, he could not safely get
back. The evil spirits that lure a man from virtue never counsel
aright when to seek to return. They magnify the perils that beset the
road by which alone is safety, and suggest other ways that lead into
labyrinths of evil from which escape is sometimes impossible. These
spirits were now at the ear of our unhappy young friend, suggesting
methods of relief in his embarrassing position.
If Bland were indeed such a character as Mr. Phillips had
represented him, it would be ruin, in his employer's estimation, to
have him call again and again for his debt. But how was he to
liquidate that debt? There was nothing due him on account of salary,
and there was not a friend or acquaintance to whom he could apply
with any hope of borrowing.
"Man's extremity is the devil's opportunity." It was so in the
present case, Green had a number of collections to make on that day,
and his evil counsellors suggested his holding back the return of two
of these, amounting to his indebtedness, and say that the parties were
not yet ready to settle their bills. This would enable him to get rid
of Bland, and gain time. So, acting upon the bad suggestion, he made
up his return of collections, omitting the two accounts to which we
Now it so happened that one of the persons against whom these
accounts stood, met Mr. Phillips as he was returning from dinner in
the afternoon, and said to him,—
"I settled that bill of yours to-day."
"That's right. I wish all my customers were as punctual," answered
"I gave your young man a check for a hundred and five dollars."
And the two men passed their respective ways.
On Mr. Phillips's return to his store, Martin rendered his account
of collections, and, to the surprise of his employer, omitted the one
in regard to which he had just been notified.
"Is this all?" he asked, in a tone that sent a thrill of alarm to
the guilty heart of his clerk.
"Yes, sir," was the not clearly outspoken answer.
"Didn't Garland pay?"
"N-n-o, sir!" The suddenness of this question so confounded Martin,
that he could not answer without a betraying hesitation.
"Martin!" Astonishment, rebuke, and accusation were in the voice of
Mr. Phillips as he pronounced his clerk's name. Martin's face flushed
deeply, and then grew very pale. He stood the image of guilt and fear
for some moments, then, drawing out his pocket book, he brought
therefrom a small roll of bank bills, and a memorandum slip of paper.
"I made these collections also." And he gave the money and
memorandum to Mr. Phillips.
"A hundred and fifty dollars withheld! Martin! Martin! what
"Heaven is my witness, sir," answered the young man, with quivering
lips, "that I have never wronged you out of a dollar, and had no
intention of wronging you now. But I am in a fearful strait. My feet
have become suddenly mired, and this was a desperate struggle for
extrication—a temporary expedient only, not a premeditated wrong
"Sit down, Martin," said Mr. Phillips, in a grave, but not severe,
tone of voice. "Let me understand the case from first to last.
Conceal nothing, if you wish to have me for a friend."
Thus enjoined, Martin told his humiliating story.
"If you had not gone into the way of temptation, the betrayer had
not found you," was the remark of Mr. Phillips, when the young man
ended his confession. "Do you frequent these eating and drinking
"I go occasionally, sir."
"They are neither safe nor reputable, Martin. A young man who
frequents them must have the fine tone of his manhood dimmed. There
is an atmosphere of impurity about these places. Have you a younger
"Would you think it good for him, as he emerged from youth to
manhood, to visit refectories and billiard saloons?"
"No, sir, I would do all in my power to prevent it."
"There's danger in them, sir."
"And, knowing this, you went into the way of danger, and have
Martin dropped his eyes to the floor in confusion.
"Bland is a stool-pigeon and you were betrayed."
"What am I to do?" asked the troubled young man. "I am in debt to
"He will be here to-morrow."
"I will have a policeman ready to receive him."
"O, no, no, Sir. Pray don't do that!" answered Martin, with a
"Why not?" demanded Mr. Phillips.
"It will ruin me."
"Bland will denounce me."
"I shall be exposed to the policeman."
"An evil, but a mild one, compared with that to which you were
rushing in order to disentangle yourself. I must have my way, sir.
This matter has assumed a serious aspect. You are in my power, and
On the next day, punctual to the hour, Bland called.
"This is your man," said Mr. Phillips to his clerk. "Ask him into
the counting-room." Bland, thus invited, walked back. As he entered,
Mr. Phillips said,—
"My clerk owes you a hundred and fifty dollars, I understand."
"Yes, sir;" and the villain bowed.
"Make him out a receipt," said Mr. Phillips.
"When I receive the money," was coldly and resolutely answered.
Martin glanced sideways at the face of Bland, and the sudden change
in its expression chilled him. The mild, pleasant, virtuous aspect he
could so well assume was gone, and he looked more like a fiend than a
man. In pictures he had seen eyes such as now gleamed on Mr. Phillips,
but never in a living face before.
The officer, who had been sitting with a newspaper in his hand, now
gave his paper a quick rattle as he threw it aside, and, coming
forward, stood beside Mr. Phillips, and looked steadily at the face
of Bland, over which passed another change: it was less assured, but
not less malignant.
Mr. Phillips took out his pocket-book, and, laying a twenty-dollar
bill on the desk by which they were standing, said,—
"Take this and sign a receipt."
"No, sir!" was given with determined emphasis. "I am not to be
robbed in this way!"
"Ned," the officer now spoke, "take my advice, and sign a receipt."
"It's a cursed swindle!" exclaimed the baffled villain.
"We will dispense with hard names, sir!" The officer addressed him
sternly. "Either take the money, or go. This is not a meeting for
parley. I understand you and your operations."
A few moments Bland stood, with an irresolute air; then, clutching
desperately at a pen, he dashed off a receipt, and was reaching for
the money, when Mr. Phillips drew it back, saying,—
"Wait a moment, until I examine the receipt." He read it over, and
then, pushing it towards Bland, said,—
"Write 'In full of all demands.'" A growl was the oral response.
Bland took the pen again, and wrote as directed.
"Take my advice, young man, and adopt a safer and more honorable
business," said Mr. Phillips, as he gave him the twenty-dollar bill.
"Keep your advice for them that ask it!" was flung back in his
face. A look of hate and revenge burned in the fellow's eyes. After
glaring at Mr. Phillips and Martin in a threatening way for several
moments, he left more hurriedly than he had entered.
"And take my advice," said the officer, laying his hand on Martin's
arm,—he spoke in a warning tone,—"and keep out of that man's way.
He'll never forgive you. I know him and his prowling gang, and they
are a set of as hardened and dangerous villains as can be found in
the city. You are 'spotted' by them from this day, and they number a
dozen at least. So, if you would be safe, avoid their haunts. Give
drinking saloons and billiard rooms a wide berth. One experience like
this should last you a life-time."
Thus Martin escaped from his dangerous entanglement, but never
again to hold the unwavering confidence of his employer. Mr. Phillips
pitied, but could not trust him fully. A year afterwards came
troublesome times, losses in business, and depression in trade. Every
man had to retrench. Thousands of clerks lost their places, and
anxiety and distress were on every hand. Mr. Phillips, like others,
had to reduce expenses, and, in reducing, the lot to go fell upon
Martin Green. He had been very circumspect, had kept away from the old
places where danger lurked, had devoted himself with renewed assiduity
to his employer's interests; but, for all this, doubts were forever
arising in the mind of Mr. Phillips, and when the question, "Who shall
go?" came up, the decision was against Martin. We pity him, but cannot
blame his employer.
III. ANDY LOVELL.
ALL the village was getting out with Andy Lovell, the shoemaker;
and yet Andy Lovell's shoes fitted so neatly, and wore so long, that
the village people could ill afford to break with him. The work made
by Tompkins was strong enough, but Tompkins was no artist in leather.
Lyon's fit was good, and his shoes neat in appearance, but they had
no wear in them. So Andy Lovell had the run of work, and in a few
years laid by enough to make him feel independent. Now this feeling
of independence is differently based with different men. Some must
have hundreds of thousands of dollars for it to rest upon, while
others find tens of thousands sufficient. A few drop below the tens,
and count by units. Of this last number was Andy Lovell, the
When Andy opened his shop and set up business for himself, he was
twenty-four years of age. Previous to that time he had worked as
journeyman, earning good wages, and spending as fast as he earned,
for he had no particular love of money, nor was he ambitious to rise
and make an appearance in the world. But it happened with Andy as
with most young men he fell in love; and as the village beauty was
compliant, betrothal followed. From this time he was changed in many
things, but most of all in his regard for money. From a free-handed
young man, he became prudent and saving, and in a single year laid by
enough to warrant setting up business for himself. The wedding
followed soon after.
The possession of a wife and children gives to most men broader
views of life. They look with more earnestness into the future, and
calculate more narrowly the chances of success. In the ten years that
followed Andy Lovell's marriage no one could have given more attention
to business, or devoted more thought and care to the pleasure of
customers. He was ambitious to lay up money for his wife's and
children's sake, as well as to secure for himself the means of rest
from labor in his more advancing years. The consequence was, that Andy
served his neighbors, in his vocation, to their highest satisfaction.
He was useful, contented, and thrifty.
A sad thing happened to Andy and his wife after this. Scarlet fever
raged in the village one winter, sweeping many little ones into the
grave. Of their three children, two were taken; and the third was
spared, only to droop, like a frost-touched plant, and die ere the
summer came. From that time, all of Andy Lovell's customers noted a
change in the man; and no wonder. Andy had loved these children
deeply. His thought had all the while been running into the future,
and building castles for them to dwell in. Now the future was as
nothing to him; and so his heart beat feebly in the present. He had
already accumulated enough for himself and his wife to live on for
the rest of their days; and, if no more children came, what motive
was there for a man of his views and temperament to devote himself,
with the old ardor, to business?
So the change noticed by his customers continued. He was less
anxious to accommodate; disappointed them oftener; and grew impatient
under complaint or remonstrance. Customers, getting discouraged or
offended, dropped away, but it gave Andy no concern. He had, no
longer, any heart in his business; and worked in it more like an
automaton than a live human being.
At last, Andy suddenly made up his mind to shut up his shop, and
retire from business. He had saved enough to live on—why should he
go on any longer in this halting, miserable way—a public servant,
yet pleasing nobody?
Mrs. Lovell hardly knew what to say in answer to her husband's
suddenly formed resolution. It was as he alleged; they had laid up
sufficient; to make them comfortable for the rest of their lives;
and, sure enough, why should Andy worry himself any longer with the
shop? As far as her poor reason went, Mrs. Lovell had nothing to
oppose; but all her instincts were on the other side—she could not
feel that it would be right.
But Andy, when he made up his mind to a thing, was what people call
hard-headed. His "I won't stand it any longer," meant more than this
common form of speech on the lips of ordinary men. So he gave it out
that he should quit business; and it was soon all over the village.
Of course Tompkins and Lyon were well enough pleased, but there were
a great many who heard of the shoemaker's determination with regret.
In the face of all difficulties and annoyances, they had continued to
depend on him for foot garniture, and were now haunted by unpleasant
images of cramped toes, corns, bunyons, and all the varied ill
attendant on badly made and badly fitting shoes, boots, and gaiters.
The retirement of Andy, cross and unaccommodating as he had become,
was felt, in many homes, to be a public calamity.
"Don't think of such a thing, Mr. Lovell," said one.
"We can't do without you," asserted another.
"You'll not give up altogether," pleaded a third, almost coaxingly.
But Andy Lovell was tired of working without any heart in his work;
and more tired of the constant fret and worry attendant upon a
business in which his mind had ceased to feel interest. So he kept to
his resolution, and went on with his arrangements for closing the
"What are you going to do?" asked a neighbor.
"Do?" Andy looked, in some surprise, at his interrogator.
"Yes. What are you going to do? A man in good health, at your time
of life, can't be idle. Rust will eat him up."
"Rust?" Andy looked slightly bewildered.
"What's this?" asked the neighbor, taking something from Andy's
"An old knife," was the reply. "It dropped out of the window two or
three months ago and was lost. I picked it up this morning."
"It's in a sorry condition," said the neighbor. "Half eaten up with
rust, and good for nothing."
"And yet," replied the shoemaker, "there was better stuff in that
knife, before it was lost, than in any other knife in the shop."
"Better than in this?" And the neighbor lifted a clean, sharp-edged
knife from Andy's cutting-board.
"Worth two of it."
"Which knife is oldest?" asked the neighbor.
"I bought them at the same time."
"And this has been in constant use?"
"While the other lay idle, and exposed to the rains and dews?"
"And so has become rusted and good for nothing. Andy, my friend,
just so rusted, and good for nothing as a man, are you in danger of
becoming. Don't quit business; don't fall out of your place; don't
pass from useful work into self-corroding idleness, You'll be
The pertinence of this illustration struck the mind of Andy Lovell,
and set him to thinking; and the more he thought, the more disturbed
became his mental state. He had, as we have see, no longer any heart
in his business. All that he desired was obtained—enough to live on
comfortably; why, then, should he trouble himself with hard-to-please
and ill-natured customers? This was one side of the question.
The rusty knife suggested the other side. So there was conflict in
his mind; but only a disturbing conflict. Reason acted too feebly on
the side of these new-coming convictions. A desire to be at once, and
to escape daily work and daily troubles, was stronger than any cold
judgement of the case.
"I'll find something to do," he said, within himself, and so pushed
aside unpleasantly intruding thoughts. But Mrs. Lovell did not fail
to observe, that since, her husband's determination to go out of
business, he had become more irritable than before, and less at ease
in every way.
The closing day came at last. Andy Lovell shut the blinds before
the windows of his shop, at night-fall, saying, as he did so, but in a
half-hearted, depressed kind of a way, "For the last time;" and then
going inside, sat down in front of the counter, feeling strangely and
ill at ease. The future looked very blank. There was nothing in it to
strive for, to hope for, to live for. Andy was no philosopher. He
could not reason from any deep knowledge of human nature. His life had
been merely sensational, touching scarcely the confines of interior
thought. Now he felt that he was getting adrift, but could not
understand the why and the wherefore.
As the twilight deepened, his mental obscurity deepened also. He
was still sitting in front of his counter, when a form darkened his
open door. It was the postman, with a letter for Andy's wife. Then he
closed the door, saying in his thought, as he had said when closing
the shutters, "For the last time," and went back into the house with
the letter in his hand. It was sealed with black. Mrs. Lovell looked
frightened as she noticed this sign of death. The contents were soon
known. An only sister, a widow, had died suddenly, and this letter
announced the fact. She left three young children, two girls and a
boy. These, the letter stated, had been dispensed among the late
husband's relatives; and there was a sentence or two expressing a
regret that they should be separated from each other.
Mrs. Lovell was deeply afflicted by this news, and abandoned
herself, for a while, to excessive grief. Her husband had no
consolation to offer, and so remained, for the evening, silent and
thoughtful. Andy Lovell did not sleep well that night. Certain things
were suggested to his mind, and dwelt upon, in spite of many efforts
to thrust them aside. Mrs. Lovell was wakeful also, as was evident to
her husband from her occasional sighs, sobs, and restless movements;
but no words passed between them. Both rose earlier than usual.
Had Andy Lovell forgotten that he opened his shop door, and put
back the shutters, as usual? Was this mere habit-work, to be corrected
when he bethought himself of what he had done? Judging from his sober
face and deliberate manner—no. His air was not that of a man acting
Absorbed in her grief, and troubled with thoughts of her sister's
oprhaned children, Mrs. Lovell did not, at first, regard the opening
of her husband's shop as anything unusual. But, the truth flashing
across her mind, she went in where Lovell stood at his old place by
the cutting-board, on which was laid a side of morocco, and said,—
"Why, Andy! I thought you had shut up the shop for good and all."
"I thought so last night, but I've changed my mind," was the
low-spoken but decided answer.
"Changed your mind! Why?"
"I don't know what you may think about it, Sally; but my mind's
made up." And Andy squared round, and looked steadily into his wife's
face. "There's just one thing we've got to do; and it's no use trying
to run away from it. That letter didn't come for nothing. The fact is,
Sally, them children mustn't be separated. I've been thinking about it
all night, and it hurts me dreadfully."
"How can we help it? Mary's dead, and her husband's relations have
divided the children round. I've no doubt they will be well cared
for," said Mrs. Lovell.
She had been thinking as well as her husband, but not to so clear a
result. To bring three little children into her quiet home, and
accept years of care, of work, of anxiety, and responsibility, was
not a thing to be done on light consideration. She had turned from
the thought as soon as presented, and pushed it away from every
avenue through which it sought to find entrance. So she had passed
the wakeful night, trying to convince herself that her dead sister's
children would be happy and well cared for.
"If they are here, Sally, we can be certain that they are well
cared for," replied Andy.
"O, dear! I can never undertake the management of three children!"
said Mrs. Lovell, her countenance expressing the painful reluctance
Andy turned partly away from his wife, and bent over the
cutting-board. She saw, as he did so, an expression of countenance
that rebuked her.
"A matter like this should be well considered," remarked Mrs.
"That's true," answered her husband. "So take your time. They're
your flesh and blood, you know, and if they come here, you'll have
the largest share of trouble with them."
Mrs. Lovell went back into the house to think alone, while Andy
commenced cutting out work, his hands moving with the springs of a
readier will than had acted through them for a long time.
It took Mrs. Lovell three or four days to make up her mind to send
for the children, but the right decision came at last. All this while
Andy was busy in his shop—cheerfully at work, and treating the
customers, who, hearing that he had changed his mind, were pressing
in upon him with their orders, much after the pleasant fashion in
which he had treated them in years gone by. He knew that his wife
would send for the children; and after their arrival, he knew that he
would have increased expenses. So, there had come a spur to action,
quickening the blood in his veins; and he was at work once more, with
heart and purpose, a happier man, really, than he had been for years.
Two or three weeks passed, and then the long silent dwelling of
Andy Lovell was filled with the voices of children. Two or three years
have passed since then. How is it with Andy? There is not a more
cheerful man in all the village, though he is in his shop early and
late. No more complaints from customers. Every one is promptly and
cheerfully served. He has the largest run of work, as of old; and his
income is sufficient not only to meet increased expenses, but to leave
a surplus at the end of every year. He is the bright, sharp knife,
always in use; not the idle blade, which had so narrowly escaped,
falling from the window, rusting to utter worthlessness in the dew and
IV. A MYSTERY EXPLAINED.
"GOING to the Falls and to the White Mountains!"
"Yes, I'm off next week."
"How long will you be absent?"
"From ten days to two weeks."
"What will it cost?"
"I shall take a hundred dollars in my pocket-book! That will carry
"A hundred dollars! Where did you raise that sum? Who's the lender?
Tell him he can have another customer."
"I never borrow."
"Indeed! Then you've had a legacy."
"No, and never expect to have one. All my relations are poor."
"Then unravel the mystery. Say where the hundred dollars came
"The answer is easy. I saved it from my salary."
"I saved it during the last six months for just this purpose, and
now I am to have two weeks of pleasure and profit combined."
"I have given you the fact."
"What is your salary, pray?"
"Six hundred a year."
"So I thought. But you don't mean to say that in six months you
have saved one hundred dollars out of three hundred?"
"Yes; that is just what I mean to say."
"Preposterous. I get six hundred, and am in debt."
"Why no wonder?"
"If a man spends more than he receives, he will fall in debt."
"Of course he will. But on a salary of six hundred, how is it
possible for a man to keep out of debt?"
"By spending less than he receives."
"That is easily said."
"And as easily done. All that is wanted is prudent forethought,
integrity of purpose, and self-denial. He must take care of the
pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves."
"Trite and obsolete."
"True if trite; and never obsolete. It is as good doctrine to-day
as it was in poor Richard's time. Of that I can bear witness."
"I could never be a miser or a skinflint."
"Nor I. But I can refuse to waste my money in unconsidered trifles,
and so keep it for more important things; for a trip to Niagara and
the White Mountains, for instance."
The two young men who thus talked were clerks, each receiving the
salary already mentioned—six hundred dollars. One of them, named
Hamilton, understood the use of money; the other, named Hoffman,
practised the abuse of this important article. The consequence was,
that while Hamilton had a hundred dollars saved for a trip during his
summer vacation, Hoffman was in debt for more than two or three times
The incredulous surprise expressed by Hoffman was sincere. He could
not understand the strange fact which had been announced. For an
instant it crossed his mind that Hamilton might only have advanced
his seeming impossible economy as a cover to dishonest practices. But
he pushed the thought away as wrong.
"Not much room for waste of money on a salary of six hundred a
year," answered Hoffman.
"There is always room for waste," said Hamilton. "A leak is a leak,
be it ever so small. The quart flagon will as surely waste its
precious contents through a fracture that loses only a drop at a
time, as the butt from which a constant stream is pouring. The fact
is, as things are in our day, whether flagon or butt, leakage is the
rule not the exception."
"I should like to know where the leak in my flagon is to be found,"
said Hoffman. "I think it would puzzle a finance committee to
"Shall I unravel for you the mystery?"
"You unravel it! What do you know of my affairs?"
"I have eyes."
"Do I waste my money?"
"Yes, if you have not saved as much as I have during the last six
months; and yes, if my eyes have given a true report."
"What have your eyes reported?"
"A system of waste, in trifles, that does not add anything
substantial to your happiness and certainly lays the foundation for a
vast amount of disquietude, and almost certain embarrassment in money
affairs, and consequent humiliations."
Hoffman shook his head gravely answering, "I can't see it."
"Would you like to see it?"
"O, certainly, if it exists."
"Well, suppose we go down into the matter of expenditures, item by
item, and make some use of the common rules of arithmetic as we go
along. Your salary, to start with, is six hundred dollars, and you
play the same as I do for boarding and washing, that is, four and a
half dollars per week, which gives the sum of two hundred and
thirty-four dollars a year. What do your clothes cost?"
"A hundred and fifty dollars will cover everything!"
"Then you have two hundred and sixteen dollars left. What becomes
of that large sum?"
Hoffman dropped his eyes and went to thinking. Yes, what had become
of these two hundred and sixteen dollars? Here was the whole thing in
"Cigars," said Hamilton. "How many do you use in a day?"
"Not over three. But these are a part of considered expenses. I am
not going to do without cigars."
"I am only getting down to the items," answered the friend. "We
must find out where the money goes. Three cigars a day, and, on an
average, one to a friend, which makes four."
"Very well, say four."
"At six cents apiece."
Hamilton took a slip of paper and made a few figures.
"Four cigars a day at six cents each, cost twenty-four cents. Three
hundred and sixty-five by twenty-four gives eighty-seven dollars and
sixty cents, as the cost of your cigars for a year."
"O, no! That is impossible," returned Hoffman, quickly.
"There is the calculation. Look at it for yourself," replied
Hamilton, offering the slip of paper.
"True as I live!" ejaculated the other, in unfeigned surprise. "I
never dreamed of such a thing. Eighty-seven dollars. That will never
do in the world. I must cut this down."
"A simple matter of figures. I wonder you had not thought of
counting the cost. Now I do not smoke at all. It is a bad habit, that
injures the health, and makes us disagreeable to our friends, to say
nothing of the expense. So you see how natural the result, that at the
end of the year I should have eighty-seven dollars in band, while you
had puffed away an equal sum in smoke. So much for the cigar account.
I think you take a game of billiards now and then."
"Certainly I do. Billiards are innocent. I am very fond of the
game, and must have some recreation."
"Exactly so. The question now is, What do they cost?"
"Nothing to speak of. You can't make out a case here."
"We shall see. How often do you play?"
"Two or three times a week."
"Say twice a week."
"Very well. Let it be twice. A shilling a game must be paid for use
of the table?"
"Which comes from the loser's pocket. I, generally, make it a point
"But lose sometimes."
"Of course. The winning is rarely all on one side."
"One or two games a night?"
"Suppose we put down an average loss of three games in a week. Will
that be too high?"
"No. Call it three games a week."
"Or, as to expense. three shillings. Then, after the play, there
comes a glass of ale—or, it may be oysters."
"Will two shillings at week, taking one week with another, pay for
your ale and oysters?"
Hoffman did not answer until he had reflected for a few moments,
Then he said,—
"I'm afraid neither two nor four shillings will cover this item. We
must set it down at six."
"Which gives for billiards, ale and oysters, the sum of one dollar
and a shilling per week. Fifty-two by a dollar twelve-and-a-half, and
we have the sum of fifty-eight dollars and fifty cents. Rather a
serious item this, in the year's expense, where the income is only
six hundred dollars!"
Hoffman looked at his friend in a bewildered kind of way. This was
"How often do you go to the theatre and opera?" Hamilton went on
with his questions.
"Sometimes once a week. Sometimes twice or thrice, according to the
"And you take a lady now and then?"
"Particularly during the opera season?"
"Yes. I'm not so selfish as always to indulge in these pleasures
"Very well. Now for the cost. Sometimes the opera is one dollar. So
it costs two dollars when you take a lady."
"Which is not very often."
"Will fifty cents a week, averaging the year, meet this expense?"
After thinking for some time, Hoffman said yes, he thought that
fifty cents a week would be a fair appropriations.
"Which adds another item of twenty-six dollars a year to your
"But would you cut off everything?" objected Hoffman. "Is a man to
have no recreations, no amusements?"
"That is another question," coolly answered Hamilton. "Our present
business is to ascertain what has become of the two hundred and
sixteen dollars which remained of your salary after boarding and
clothing bills were paid. That is a handsome gold chain. What did it
"Within six months."
"So much more accounted for. Is that a diamond pin?"
Hoffman colored a little as he answered,—
"Not a very costly one. Merely a scarf-pin, as you. see. Small,
though brilliant. Always worth what I paid for it."
"Cost twenty-five or thirty dollars?"
"Shall I put that down as one of the year expenses?"
"Yes, you may do so."
"What about stage and car hire? Do you ride or walk to and from
"I ride, of course. You wouldn't expect me to walk nearly a mile
four times a day."
"I never ride, except in bad weather. The walk gives me just the
exercise I need. Every man, who is confined in a store or
counting-room during business hours, should walk at least four miles
a day. Taken in installments of one mile at a time, at good
intervals, there is surely no hardship in this exercise. Four rides,
at six-pence a ride and we have another item of twenty-five cents at
day. You go down town nearly every evening?"
"And ride both ways?
"A shilling more, or thirty seven and a half cents daily for car
and stage hire. Now for another little calculation. Three hundred
days, at three shillings a day. There it is."
And Hamilton reached a slip of paper to his friend.
"Impossible!" The latter actually started to his feet. "A hundred
and twelve dollars and fifty cents!"
"If you spend three shillings a day, you will spend that sum in a
year. Figures are inexorable."
Hoffman sat down again in troubled surprise, saying,
"Have you got to the end?"
"Not yet," replied his companion.
"Very well. Go on."
"I often notice you with candies, or other confections; and you
are, sometimes, quite free in sharing them with your friends. Burnt
almonds, sugar almonds, Jim Crow's candied fruits, macaroons, etc.
These are not to be had for nothing; and besides their cost they are
a positive injury to the stomach. You, of course, know to what extent
you indulge this weakness of appetite. Shall we say that it costs an
average of ten cents a day?"
"Add fruit, in and out of season, and call it fifteen cents,"
"Very well. For three hundred days this will give another large
"Anything more?" said Hoffman in a subdued, helpless kind of way,
like one lying prostrate from a sudden blow.
"I've seen you driving out occasionally; sometimes on Sunday. And,
by the way, I think you generally take an excursion on Sunday. over
to Staten Island, or to Hoboken, or up the river, or—but no matter
where; you go about and spend money on the Sabbath day. How much does
all this cost? A dollar a week? Seventy-five cents? Fifty cents? We
are after the exact figures as near as maybe. What does it cost for
drives and excursions, and their spice of refreshment?"
"Say thirty dollars a year."
"Thirty dollars, then, we will call it. And here let us close, in
order to review the ground over which we have been travelling. All
those various expenses, not one of which is for things essential to
health, comfort, or happiness, but rather for their destruction,
amount to the annual sum of four hundred and two dollars sixty
cents,—you can go over the figures for yourself. Add to this three
hundred and eighty-four dollars, the cost of boarding and clothing,
and you swell the aggregate to nearly eight hundred dollars; and your
salary is but six hundred!"
A long silence followed.
"I am amazed, confounded!" said Hoffman, resting his head between
his hands, as he leaned on the table at which they were sitting. "And
not only amazed and confounded," he went on, "but humiliated, ashamed!
Was I a blind fool that I did not see it myself? Had I forgotten my
"You are like hundreds—nay, thousands," replied the friend, "to
whom a sixpence, a shilling, or even a dollar spent daily has a very
insignificant look; and who never stop to think that sixpence a day
amounts to over twenty dollars in a year; a shilling a day to over
forty; and a dollar a day to three hundred and sixty-five. We cannot
waste our money in trifles, and yet have it to spend for substantial
benefits. The cigars you smoked in the past year; the games of
billiards you played; the ale and oysters, cakes, confections, and
fruit consumed; the rides in cars and stages; the drives and Sunday
excursions, crave only the briefest of pleasures, and left new and
less easily satisfied desires behind. It will not do, my friend, to
grant an easy indulgence to natural appetite and desire, for they
ever seek to be our masters. If we would be men—self-poised,
self-controlling, self-possessing men—we must let reason govern in
all our actions. We must be wise, prudent, just, and self-denying;
and from this rule of conduct will spring order, tranquillity of
mind, success, and true enjoyment. I think, Hoffman, that I am quite
as happy a man as you are; far happier, I am sure, at this moment;
and yet I have denied myself nearly all theses indulgences through
which you have exhausted your means and embarrassed yourself with
debt. Moreover, I have a hundred dollars clear of everything, with
which I shall take a long-desired excursion, while you will be
compelled, for lack of the very money which has been worse than
wasted, to remain a prisoner in the city. Pray, be counselled to a
different course in future."
"I would be knave or fool to need further incentive," said Hoffman,
with much bitterness. "At the rate I am going on, debt, humiliation,
and disgrace are before me. I may live up to my income without
actually wronging others—but not beyond it. As things are now going,
I am two hundred dollars worse off at the end of each year when than
I began, and, worse still, weaker as to moral purpose, while the
animal and sensual natures, from constant indulgence, have grown
stronger. I must break this thraldom now; for, a year hence, it may
be too late! Thank, you, my friend, for your plain talk. Thank you
for teaching me anew the multiplication table, I shall, assuredly,
not forget it again."
V. WHAT CAN I DO?
HE was a poor cripple—with fingers twisted out of all useful
shape, and lower limbs paralyzed so that he had to drag them after him
wearily when he moved through the short distances that limited his
sphere of locomotion—a poor, unhappy, murmuring, and, at times,
ill-natured cripple, eating the bread which a mother's hard labor
procured for him. For hours every fair day, during spring, summer,
and autumn, he might be seen in front of the little house where he
lived leaning upon the gate, or sitting on an old bench looking with
a sober face at the romping village children, or dreamily regarding
the passengers who moved with such strong limbs up and down the
street. How often, bitter envy stung the poor cripple's heart! How
often, as the thoughtless village children taunted him cruelly with
his misfortune, would he fling harsh maledictions after them. Many
pitied the poor cripple; many looked upon him with feelings of
disgust and repulsion; but few, if any, sought to do him good.
Not far from where the cripple lived was a man who had been
bedridden for years, and who was likely to remain so to the end of
his days. He was supported by the patient industry of a wife.
"If good works are the only passport to heaven," he said to a
neighbor one day, "I fear my chances will be small."
"'Well done, good and faithful servant,' is the language of
welcome," was replied; and the neighbor looked at the sick man in a
way that made him feel a little uncomfortable.
"I am sick and bedridden—what can I do?" he spoke, fretfully.
"When little is given, little is required. But if there be only a
single talent it must be improved."
"I have no talent," said the invalid.
"Are you sure of that?"
"What can I do? Look at me! No health, no strength, no power to
rise from this bed. A poor, helpless creature, burdening my wife.
Better for me, and for all, if I were in my grave."
"If that were so you would be in your grave. But God knows best.
There is something for you to do, or you would be no longer permitted
to live," said the neighbor.
The sick man shook his head.
"As I came along just now," continued the neighbor, "I stopped to
say a word to poor Tom Hicks, the cripple, as he stood swinging on
the gate before his mother's house, looking so unhappy that I pitied
him in my heart. 'What do you do with yourself all through these long
days, Tom?' I asked. 'Nothing,' he replied, moodily. 'Don't you read
sometimes?' I queried. 'Can't read,' was his sullen answer. 'Were you
never at school?' I went on. 'No: how can I get to school?' 'Why don't
your mother teach you?' 'Because she can't read herself,' replied Tom.
'It isn't too late to begin now,' said I, encouragingly; 'suppose I
were to find some one willing to teach you, what would you say?' The
poor lad's face brightened as if the sunshine had fallen upon it; and
he answered, 'I would say that nothing could please me better.' I
promised to find him a teacher; and, as I promised, the thought of
you, friend Croft, came into my mind. Now, here is something that you
can do; a good work in which you can employ your one talent."
The sick man did not respond warmly to this proposition. He had
been so long a mere recipient of good offices,—had so long felt
himself the object towards which pity and service must tend,—that he
had nearly lost the relish for good deeds. Idle dependence had made
"Give this poor cripple a lesson every day," went on the neighbor,
pressing home the subject, "and talk and read to him. Take him in
charge as one of God's children, who needs to be instructed and led
up to a higher life than the one he is now living. Is not this a good
and a great work? It is, my friend, one that God has brought to your
hand, and in the doing of which there will be great reward. What can
you do? Much! Think of that poor boy's weary life, and of the sadder
years that lie still before him. What will become of him when his
mother dies? The almshouse alone will open its doors for the helpless
one. But who can tell what resources may open before him if stimulated
by thought. Take him, then, and unlock the doors of a mind that now
sits in darkness, that sunlight may come in. To you it will give a few
hours of pleasant work each day; to him it will be a life-long
benefit. Will you do it?"
The sick man could not say "No," though in uttering that
half-extorted assent he manifested no warm interest in the case of
poor Tom Hicks.
On the next day the cripple came to the sick man, and received his
first lesson; and every day, at an appointed hour, he was in Mr.
Croft's room, eager for the instruction he received. Quickly he
mastered the alphabet, and as quickly learned to construct small
words, preparatory to combining them in a reading lesson.
After the first three or four days the sick man, who, had
undertaken this work with reluctance, began to find his heart going
down into it. Tom was so ready a scholar, so interested, and so
grateful, that Mr. Croft found the task of instructing him a real
pleasure. The neighbor, who had suggested this useful employment of
the invalid's time, looked in now and then to see how matters were
progressing, and to speak words of encouragement.
Poor Tom was seen less frequently than before hanging on the gate,
or sitting idly on the bench before his mother's dwelling; and when
you did find him there, as of old, you saw a different expression on
his face. Soon the children, who had only looked at him, half in
fear, from a distance, or come closer to the gate where he stood
gazing with his strange eyes out into the street, in order to worry
him, began to have a different feelings for the cripple, and one and
another stopped occasionally to speak with him; for Tom no longer
made queer faces, or looked at them wickedly, as if he would harm
them if in his power, nor retorted angrily if they said things to
worry him. And now it often happened that a little boy or girl, who
had pitied the poor cripple, and feared him at the same time, would
offer him a flower, or an apple, or at handful of nuts in passing to
school; and he would take these gifts thankfully, and feel better all
day in remembrance of the kindness with which they had been bestowed.
Sometimes he would risk to see their books, and his eyes would run
eagerly over the pages so far in advance of his comprehension, yet
with the hope in his heart of one day mastering them; for he had grown
all athirst for knowledge.
As soon as Tom could read, the children in the neighborhood, who
had grown to like him, and always gathered around him at the gate,
when they happened to find him there, supplied him with books; so that
he had an abundance of mental food, and now began to repay his
benefactor, the bedridden man, by reading to him for hours every day.
The mind of Tom had some of this qualities of a sponge: it absorbed
a great deal, and, like a sponge, gave out freely at every pressure.
Whenever his mind came in contact with another mind, it must either
absorb or impart. So he was always talking or always listening when
he had anybody who would talk or listen.
There was something about him that strongly attracted the boys in
the neighborhood, and he usually had three or four of them around him
and often a dozen, late in the afternoon, when the schools were out.
As Tom had entered a new world,—the world of books,—and was
interested in all he found there, the subjects on which he talked
with the boys who sought his company were always instructive. There,
was no nonsense about the cripple: suffering of body and mind had
long ago made him serious; and all nonsense, or low, sensual talk, to
which boys are sometimes addicted, found no encouragement in his
presence. His influence over these boys was therefore of the best
kind. The parents of some of the children, when they found their sons
going so often to the house of Tom Hicks, felt doubts as to the safety
of such intimate intercourse with the cripple, towards whom few were
prepossessed, as he bore in the village the reputation of being
ill-tempered and depraved, and questioned them very closely in regard
to the nature of their intercourse. The report of these boys took
their parents by surprise; but, on investigation, it proved to be
true, and Tom's character soon rose in the public estimation.
Then came, as a natural consequence, inquiry as to the cause of
such a change in the unfortunate lad; and the neighbor of the sick man
who had instructed Tom told the story of Mr. Croft's agency in the
matter. This interested the whole town in both the cripple and his
bedridden instructor. The people were taken by surprise at such a
notable interest of the great good which may sometimes be done where
the means look discouragingly small. Mr. Croft was praised for his
generous conduct, and not only praised, but helped by many who had,
until now, felt indifferent, towards his case—for his good work
rebuked them for neglected opportunities.
The cripple's eagerness to learn, and rapid progress under the most
limited advantages, becoming generally known, a gentleman, whose son
had been one of Tom's visitors, and who had grown to be a better boy
under his influence, offered to send him in his wagon every day to
the school-house, which stood half a mile distant, and have him
brought back in the afternoon.
It was the happiest day in Tom's life when he was helped down from
the wagon, and went hobbling into the school-room.
Before leaving home on that morning he had made his way up to the
sick room of Mr. Croft.
"I owe it all to you," he said, as he brought the white, thin hand
of his benefactor to his lips. It was damp with more than a kiss when
he laid it back gently on the bed. "And our Father in heaven will
"You have done a good work," said the neighbor, who had urged Mr.
Croft to improve his one talent, as he sat talking with him on that
evening about the poor cripple and his opening prospects; "and it
will serve you in that day when the record of life is opened. Not
because of the work itself, but for the true charity which prompted
the work. It was begun, I know, in some self-denial, but that
self-denial was for another's good; and because you put away love of
ease, and indifference, and forced yourself to do kind offices,
seeing that it was right to help others, God will send a heavenly
love of doing good into your soul, which always includes a great
reward, and is the passport to eternal felicities.
"You said," continued the neighbor, "only a few months ago, 'What
can I do?' and spoke as a man who felt that he was deprived of all
the means of accomplishing good; and yet you have, with but little
effort, lifted a human soul out of the dark valley of ignorance,
where it was groping ill self-torture, and placed it on an ascending
mountain path. The light of hope has fallen, through your aid, with
sunny warmth upon a heart that was cold and barren a little while
ago, but is now green with verdure, and blossoming in the sweet
promise of fruit. The infinite years to come alone can reveal the
blessings that will flow from this one act of a bedridden man, who
felt that in him was no capacity for good deeds."
The advantages of a school being placed within the reach of Tom
Hicks, he gave up every thought to the acquirement of knowledge. And
now came a serious difficulty. His bent, stiff fingers could not be
made to hold either pen or pencil in the right position, or to use
them in such a way as to make intelligible signs. But Tom was too
much in earnest to give up on the first, or second, or third effort.
He found, after a great many trials, that he could hold a pencil more
firmly than at first, and guide his hand in some obedience to his
will. This was sufficient to encourage him to daily long-continued
efforts, the result of which was a gradual yielding of the rigid
muscles, which became in time so flexible that he could make quite
passable figures, and write a fair hand. This did not satisfy him,
however. He was ambitious to do better; and so kept on trying and
trying, until few boys in the school could give a fairer copy.
"Have you heard the news?" said a neighbor to Mr. Croft, the poor
bedridden man. It was five years from the day he gave the poor
cripple, Tom Hicks, his first lesson.
"What news?" the sick man asked, in a feeble voice, not even
turning his head towards the speaker. Life's pulses were running very
low. The long struggle with disease was nearly over.
"Tom Hicks has received the appointment of teacher to our public
"Are you in earnest?" There was a mingling of surprise and doubt in
the low tones that crept out upon the air.
"Yes. It is true what I say. You know that after Mr. Wilson died
the directors got Tom, who was a favorite with all the scholars, to
keep the school together for a few weeks until a successor could be
appointed. He managed so well, kept such good order, and showed
himself so capable as an instructor, that, when the election took
place to-day, he received a large majority of votes over a number of
highly-recommended teachers, and this without his having made
application for the situation, or even dreaming of such a thing."
At this moment the cripple's well-known shuffling tread and the
rattle of crutches was heard on the stairs. He came up with more than
his usual hurry. Croft turned with an effort, so as to get a sight of
him as he entered the room.
"I have heard the good news," he said, as he reached a hand feebly
towards Tom, "and it has made my heart glad."
"I owe it all to you," replied the cripple, in a voice that
trembled with feeling. "God will reward you."
And he caught the shadowy hand, touched it with his lips, and wet
it with grateful tears, as once before. Even as he held that thin,
white hand the low-moving pulse took an lower beat—lower and
lower—until the long-suffering heart grew still, and the freed
spirit went up to its reward.
"My benefactor!" sobbed the cripple, as he stood by the wasted form
shrouded in grave-clothes, and looked upon it for the last time ere
the coffin-lid closed over it. "What would I have been except for
Are your opportunities for doing good few, and limited in range, to
all appearances, reader? Have you often said, like the bedridden man,
"What can I do?" Are you poor, weak, ignorant, obscure, or even sick
as he was, and shut out from contact with the busy outside world? No
matter. If you have a willing heart, good work will come to your
hands. Is there no poor, unhappy neglected one to whom you can speak
words of encouragement, or lift out of the vale of ignorance? Think!
Cast around you. You may, by a single sentence, spoken in the right
time and in the right spirit, awaken thoughts in some dull mind that
may grow into giant powers in after times, wielded for the world's
good. While you may never be able to act directly on society to any
great purpose, in consequence of mental or physical disabilities, you
may, by instruction and guidance, prepare some other mind for useful
work, which, but for your agency, might have wasted its powers in
ignorance or crime. All around us are human souls that may be
influenced. The nurse, who ministers to you in sickness, may be hurt
or helped by you; the children, who look into your face and read it
daily, who listen to your speech, and remember what you say, will grow
better or worse, according to the spirit of your life, as it flows
into them; the neglected son of a neighbor may find in you the wise
counsellor who holds him back from vice. Indeed, you cannot pass a
single day, whether your sphere be large or small, your place exalted
or lowly, without abundant opportunities for doing good. Only the
willing heart is required. As for the harvest, that is nodding, ripe
for the sickle, in every man's field. What of that time when the Lord
of the Harvest comes, and you bind up your sheaves and lay them at his
VI. ON GUARD.
"O, MAMMA! See that wicked-looking cat on the fence! She'll have
one of those dear little rabbits in a minute!"
Mattie's sweet face grew pale with fear, and she trembled all over.
"It's only a picture, my dear," said Mattie's mother. "The cat
can't get down, and so the rabbits are safe."
"But it looks as if she could—as if she'd jump right upon the dear
little things. I wish there was a big dog, like Old Lion, there.
Wouldn't he make her fly?"
"But it's only a picture. If there was a dog there, he couldn't
bark nor spring at the cat."
"Why didn't the man who made the picture put in a dog somewhere, so
that we could see him, and know the rabbits were safe?"
"Maybe he didn't think of it," said Mattie's mother.
"I wish he had."
"Perhaps," said the mother, "he wished to teach us this lesson,
that, as there are evil and hurtful things in the world, we should
never be so entirely off of our guard as the children playing, with
the rabbits seem to be. Dear little things! How innocent and happy
they are! There is not a thought of danger in their minds. And yet,
close by them is a great cat, with cruel eyes, ready to spring upon
their harmless pets. Yes; I think the artist meant to teach a lesson
when he drew this picture."
"What lesson, mother?" asked Mattie. "O, I remember," she added
quickly. "You said that it might be to teach us never to be off of
our guard, because there are evil and hurtful things in the world."
"Yes; and that is a lesson which cannot be learned too early. Baby
begins to learn it when he touches the fire and is burnt; when he
pulls the cat too hard and she scratches him; when he runs too fast
for his little strength, and gets a fall. And children learn it when
they venture too near vicious animal and are kicked or bitten; when
they tear their clothes, or get their hands and faces scratched with
thorns and briers; when they fall from trees, or into the water, and
in many other ways that I need not mention. And men and women learn,
it very, very, often in pains and sorrows too deep for you to
Mattie drew a long sigh, as she stood before her mother, looking,
soberly into her face.
"I wish there wasn't anything bad in the world," she said. "Nothing
that could hurt us."
"Ah, dear child!" answered the mother, her voice echoing Mattie's
sigh, "from millions and millions of hearts that wish comes up daily.
But we have this to cheer us: if we stand on guard—if we are watchful
as well as innocent—we shall rarely get hurt. It is the careless and
the thoughtless that harm reaches."
"And so we must always be on guard," said Mattie, still looking
"There is no other way, my child. 'On guard' is the watchword of
safety for us all, young and old. But the harm that comes from the
outside is of small account compared with the, harm that comes from
"From within, mother! How can harm could from within?"
"You read about the 'hawk among the birds'?"
"Yes, yes—O, now I understand what you mean! Bad thoughts and
feelings can do us harm."
"Yes; and the hurt is deeper and more deadly than any bodily harm,
for it is done to the soul. These rabbits are like good and innocent
things of the mind, and the cat like evil and cruel things. If you do
not keep watch, in some unguarded moment angry passions evil arise and
hurt or destroy your good affections; just as this cat, if she were
real, would tear or kill the tender rabbits."
"O, mother! Is it as bad as that?" said Mattie.
"Yes, my dear; just as bad as that. And when any of these good and
innocent feelings are destroyed by anger, hatred, jealousy, envy,
revenge and the like, then just so much of heavenly good dies in us
and just so far do we come under the power of what is evil and
hurtful. Then we turn aside from safe and pleasant ways and walk
among briers and thorns. Dear Mattie! consider well the lesson of
this picture, and set a watch over your heart daily. But watching is
not all. We are told in the Bible to pray as well as watch. All of
us, young and old, must do this if we would be in safety; for human
will and human effort would all be in vain to overcome evil if divine
strength did not flow into them. And unless we desire and pray for
this divine strength we cannot receive it."
VII. A VISIT WITH THE DOCTOR.
"HOW are you to-day, Mrs. Carleton?" asked Dr. Farleigh, as he sat
down by his patient, who reclined languidly in a large cushioned
"Miserable," was the faintly spoken reply. And the word was
The doctor took one of the lady's small, white hands, on which the
network of veins, most delicately traced, spread its blue lines
everywhere beneath the transparent skin. It was a beautiful hand—a
study for a painter or sculptor. It was a soft, flexible hand—soft,
flexible, and velvety to the touch as the hand of a baby, for it was
as much a stranger to useful work. The doctor laid his fingers on the
wrist. Under the pressure he felt the pulse beat slowly and evenly. He
took out his watch and counted the beats, seventy in a minute. There
was a no fever, nor any unusual disturbance of the system. Calmly the
heart was doing its appointed work.
"How is your head, Mrs. Carleton?"
The lady moved her head from side to side two or three times.
"Anything out of the way there?"
"My head is well enough, but I feel so miserable—so weak. I
haven't the strength of a child. The least exertion exhausts me."
And the lady shut her eyes, looking the picture of feebleness.
"Have you taken the tonic, for which I left a prescription
"Yes; but I'm no stronger."
"How is your appetite?"
"Have you taken the morning walk in the garden that I suggested?"
"O, dear, no! Walk out in the garden? I'm faint by the time I get
to the breakfast-room! I can't live at this rate, doctor. What am I to
do? Can't you build me up in some way? I'm burden to myself and every
And Mrs. Carleton really looked distressed.
"You ride out every day?"
"I did until the carriage was broken, and that was nearly a week
ago. It has been at the carriage-maker's ever since."
"You must have the fresh air, Mrs. Carleton," said the doctor,
emphatically. "Fresh air, change of scene, and exercise, are
indispensable in your case. You will die if you remain shut up after
this fashion. Come, take a ride with me."
"Doctor! How absurd!" exclaimed Mrs. Carleton, almost shocked by
the suggestion. "Ride with you! What would people think?"
"A fig for people's thoughts! Get your shawl and bonnet, and take a
drive with me. What do you care for meddlesome people's thoughts?
The doctor knew his patient.
"But you're not in earnest, surely?" There was a half-amused
twinkle in the lady's eyes.
"Never more in earnest. I'm going to see a patient just out of the
city, and the drive will be a charming one. Nothing would please me
better than to have your company."
There was a vein of humor, and a spirit of "don't care" in Mrs.
Carleton, which had once made her independent, and almost hoydenish.
But fashionable associations, since her woman-life began, had toned
her down into exceeding propriety. Fashion and conventionality,
however, were losing their influence, since enfeebled health kept her
feet back from the world's gay places; and the doctor's invitation to
a ride found her sufficiently disenthralled to see in it a pleasing
"I've half a mind to go," she said, smiling. She had not smiled
before since the doctor came in.
"I'll ring for your maid," and Dr. Farleigh's hand was on the
bell-rope before Mrs. Carleton had space to think twice, and endanger
a change of thought.
"I'm not sure that I am strong enough for the effort," said Mrs.
Carleton, and she laid her head back upon the cushions in a feeble
"Trust me for that," replied the doctor.
The maid came in.
"Bring me a shawl and my bonnet, Alice; I am going to ride out with
the doctor." Very languidly was the sentence spoken.
"I'm afraid, doctor, it will be too much for me. You don't know how
weak I am. The very thought of such an effort exhausts me."
"Not a thought of the effort," replied Dr. Farleigh. "It isn't
"What is it?"
"A thought of appearances—of what people will say."
"Now, doctor! You don't think me so weak in that direction?"
"Just so weak," was the free-spoken answer. "You fashionable people
are all afraid of each other. You haven't a spark of individuality or
true independence. No, not a spark. You are quite strong enough to
ride out in your own elegant carriage but with the doctor!—O, dear,
no! If you were certain of not meeting Mrs. McFlimsey, perhaps the
experiment might be adventured. But she is always out on fine days."
"Doctor, for shame! How can you say that?"
And a ghost of color crept into the face of Mrs. Carleton, while
her eyes grew brighter—almost flashed.
The maid came in with shawl and bonnet. Dr. Farleigh, as we have
intimated, understood his patient, and said just two or three words
more, in a tone half contemptuous.
"Afraid of Mrs. McFlimsey!"
"Not I; nor of forty Mrs. McFlimseys!"
It was not the ghost of color that warmed Mrs. Carleton's face now,
but the crimson of a quicker and stronger heart-beat. She actually
arose from her chair without reaching for her maid's hand and stood
firmly while the shawl was adjusted and the bonnet-strings tied.
"We shall have a charming ride," said the doctor, as he crowded in
beside his fashionable lady companion, and took up the loose reins.
He noticed that she sat up erectly, and with scarcely a sign of the
languor that but a few minutes before had so oppressed her. "Lean
back when you see Mrs. McFlimsey's carriage, and draw your veil
closely. She'll never dream that it's you."
"I'll get angry if you play on that string much longer!" exclaimed
Mrs. Carleton; "what do I care for Mrs. McFlimsey?"
How charmingly the rose tints flushed her cheeks! How the light
rippled in her dark sweet eyes, that were leaden a little while
Away from the noisy streets, out upon the smoothly-beaten road, and
amid green field and woodlands, gardens and flower-decked orchards,
the doctor bore his patient, holding her all the while in pleasant
talk. How different this from the listless, companionless drives
taken by the lady in her own carriage—a kind of easy, vibrating
machine, that quickened the sluggish blood no more than a cushioned
Closely the doctor observed his patient. He saw how erectly she
continued to sit; how the color deepened in her face, which actually
seemed rounder and fuller; how the sense of enjoyment fairly danced
in her eyes.
Returning to the city by a different road, the doctor, after
driving through streets entirely unfamiliar to his companion, drew up
his horse before a row of mean-looking dwellings, and dropping the
reins, threw open the carriage door, and stepped upon the
pavement—at the same time reaching out his hand to Mrs. Carleton.
But she drew back, saying,—
"What is the meaning of this, doctor?"
"I have a patient here, and I want you to see her."
"O, no; excuse me, doctor. I've no taste for such things," answered
"Come—I can't leave you alone in the carriage. Ned might take a
fancy to walk off with you."
Mrs. Carleton glanced at the patient old horse, whom the doctor was
slandering, with a slightly alarmed manner.
"Don't you think he'll stand, doctor?" she asked, uneasily.
"He likes to get home, like others of his tribe. Come;" and the
doctor held out his hand in a persistent way.
Mrs. Carleton looked at the poor tenements before which the
doctor's carriage had stopped with something of disgust and something
"I can never go in there, doctor."
"I might take some disease."
"Never fear. More likely to find a panacea there."
The last sentence was in an undertone.
Mrs. Carleton left the carriage, and crossing the pavement, entered
one of the houses, and passed up with the doctor to the second story.
To his light tap at a chamber door a woman's voice said,—
The door was pushed open, and the doctor and Mrs. Carleton went in.
The room was small, and furnished in the humblest manner, but the air
was pure, and everything looked clean and tidy. In a chair, with a
pillow pressed in at her back for a support, sat a pale, emaciated
woman, whose large, bright eyes looked up eagerly, and in a kind of
hopeful surprise, at so unexpected a visitor as the lady who came in
with the doctor. On her lap a baby was sleeping, as sweet, and pure,
and beautiful a baby as ever Mrs. Carleton had looked upon. The first
impulse of her true woman's heart, had she yielded to it, would have
prompted her to take it in her arms and cover it with kisses.
The woman was too weak to rise from her chair, but she asked Mrs.
Carleton to be seated in a tone of lady-like self-possession that did
not escape the visitor's observation.
"How did you pass the night, Mrs. Leslie?" asked the doctor.
"About as usual," was answered, in a calm, patient way; and she
even smiled as she spoke.
"How about the pain through your side and shoulder?"
"It may have been a little easier."
"What of the night sweats?"
"I don't think they have diminished any."
The doctor beat his eyes to the floor, and sat in silence for some
time. The heart of Mrs. Carleton was opening towards—the baby and it
was a baby to make its way into any heart. She had forgotten her own
weakness—forgotten, in the presence of this wan and wasted mother,
with a sleeping cherub on her lap, all about her own invalid state.
"I will send you a new medicine," said the doctor, looking up; then
speaking to Mrs. Carleton, he added,—
"Will you sit here until I visit two or three patients in the
"O, certainly," and she reached out her arms for the baby, and
removed it so gently from its mother's lap that its soft slumber was
not broken. When the doctor returned he noticed that there had been
tears in Mrs. Carleton's eyes. She was still holding the baby, but
now resigned the quiet sleeper to its mother, kissing it as she did
so. He saw her look with a tender, meaning interest at the white,
patient face of the sick woman, and heard her say, as she spoke a
word or two in parting,—
"I shall not forget you."
"That's a sad case, doctor," remarked the lady, as she took her
place in the carriage.
"It is. But she is sweet and patient."
"I saw that, and it filled me with surprise. She tells me that her
husband died a year ago."
"And that she has supported herself by shirt-making."
"But that she had become too feeble for work, and is dependent on a
younger sister, who earns a few dollars, weekly, at book-folding."
"The simple story, I believe," said the doctor.
Mrs. Carleton was silent for most of the way home; but thought was
busy. She had seen a phase of life that touched her deeply.
"You are better for this ride," remarked the doctor, as he handed
her from the carriage.
"I think so," replied Mrs. Carleton.
"There has not been so fine a color on your face for months."
They had entered Mrs. Carleton's elegant residence, and were
sitting in one of her luxurious parlors.
"Shall I tell you why?" added the doctor.
Mrs. Carleton bowed.
"You have had some healthy heart-beats."
She did not answer.
"And I pray you, dear madam, let the strokes go on," continued Dr.
Farleigh. "Let your mind become interested in some good work, and
your hands obey your thoughts, and you will be a healthy woman, in
body and soul. Your disease is mental inaction."
Mrs. Carleton looked steadily at the doctor.
"You are in earnest," she said, in a calm, firm way.
"Wholly in earnest, ma'am. I found you, an hour ago, in so weak a
state that to lift your hand was an exhausting effort. You are
sitting erect now, with every muscle taughtly strung. When will your
carriage be home?"
He asked the closing question abruptly.
"To-morrow," was replied.
"Then I will not call for you, but—"
"Say on, doctor."
"Will you take my prescription?"
"Yes." There was no hesitation.
"You must give that sick woman a ride into the country. The fresh,
pure, blossom-sweet air will do her good—may, indeed, turn the
balance of health in her favor. Don't be afraid of Mrs. McFlimsey."
"For shame, doctor! But you are too late in your suggestion. I'm
quite ahead of you."
"Ah! in what respect?"
"That drive into the country is already a settled thing. Do you
know, I'm in love with that baby?"
"Othello's occupation's gone, I see!" returned the doctor, rising.
"But I may visit you occasionally as a friend, I presume, if not as a
"As my best friend, always," said Mrs. Carleton, with feeling. "You
have led me out of myself, and showed me the way to health and
happiness; and I have settled the question as to my future. It shall
not be as the past."
And it was not.
VIII. HADN'T TIME FOR TROUBLE.
MRS. CALDWELL was so unfortunate as to have a rich husband. Not
that the possession of a rich husband is to be declared a misfortune, per se, but, considering the temperament of Mrs. Caldwell, the
fact was against her happiness, and therefore is to be regarded,
taking the ordinary significance, of the term, as unfortunate.
Wealth gave Mrs. Caldwell leisure for ease and luxurious
self-indulgence, and she accepted the privileges of her condition.
Some minds, when not under the spur, sink naturally into, a state of
inertia, from which, when any touch of the spur reaches them, they
spring up with signs of fretfulness. The wife and mother, no matter
what her condition, who yields to this inertia, cannot escape the
spur. Children and servant, excepting all other causes, will not
spare the pricking heel.
Mrs. Caldwell was, by nature, a kind-hearted woman, and not lacking
in good sense. But for the misfortune of having a rich husband, she
might have spent an active, useful, happy life. It was the
opportunity which abundance gave for idleness and ease that marred
everything. Order in a household, and discipline among children, do
not come spontaneously. They are the result of wise forecast, and
patient, untiring, never-relaxing effort. A mere conviction of duty
is rarely found to be sufficient incentive; there must be the
impelling force of some strong-handed necessity. In the case of Mrs.
Caldwell, this did not exist; and so she failed in the creation of
that order in her family without which permanent tranquillity is
impossible. In all lives are instructive episodes, and interesting as
instructive. Let us take one of them from the life of this lady, whose
chief misfortune was in being rich.
Mrs. Caldwell's brow was clouded. It was never, for a very long
time, free from, clouds, for it seemed as if all sources of worry and
vexation were on the increase; and, to make matters worse, patience
was assuredly on the decline. Little things, once scarcely observed,
now give sharp annoyance, there being rarely any discrimination and
whether they were of accident, neglect, or wilfulness.
"Phoebe!" she called, fretfully.
The voice of her daughter answered, half-indifferently, from the
"Why don't you come when I call you?" Anger now mingled with
The face of a girl in her seventeenth year, on which sat no very
amiable expression, was presented at the door.
"Is that your opera cloak lying across the chair, and partly on the
Phoebe, without answering, crossed the room, and catching up the
garment with as little carefulness as if it had been an old shawl
threw it across her arm, and was retiring, when her mother said,
"Just see how you are rumpling that cloak! What do you mean?"
"I'm not hurting the cloak, mother," answered Phoebe, coolly. Then,
with a shade of reproof, she added, "You fret yourself for nothing."
"Do you call it nothing to abuse an elegant garment like that?"
demanded Mrs. Caldwell. "To throw it upon the floor, and tumble it
about as if it were an old rag?"
"All of which, mother mine, I have not done." And the girl tossed
her head with an air of light indifference.
"Don't talk to me in that way, Phoebe! I'll not suffer it. You are
forgetting yourself." The mother spoke with a sternness of manner
that caused her daughter to remain silent. As they stood looking at
each other, Mrs. Caldwell said, in a changed voice,—
"What is that on your front tooth?"
"A speck of something, I don't know what; I noticed it only
Mrs. Caldwell. crossed the room hastily, with a disturbed manner,
and catching hold of Phoebe's arm, drew her to a window.
"Let me see!" and she looked narrowly at the tooth, "Decay, as I
live!" The last sentence was uttered in a tone of alarm. "You must go
to the dentist immediately. This is dreadful! If your teeth are
beginning to fail now, you'll not have one left in your head by the
time you're twenty-five."
"It's only a speck," said Phoebe, evincing little concern.
"A speck! I And do you know what a speck means?" demanded Mrs.
Caldwell, with no chance in the troubled expression of her face.
"What does it mean?" asked Phoebe.
"Why, it means that the quality of your teeth is not good. One
speck is only the herald of another. Next week a second tooth may show
signs of decay, and a third in the week afterwards. Dear—dear! This
is too bad! The fact is, you are destroying your health. I've talked
and talked about the way you devour candies and sweetmeats; about the
way you sit up at night, and about a hundred other irregularities.
There must be a change in all. This, Phoebe, as I've told you dozens
and dozens of times."
Mrs. Caldwell was growing more and more excited.
"Mother! mother!" replied Phoebe, "don't fret yourself for nothing.
The speck can be removed in an instant."
"But the enamel is destroyed! Don't you see that? Decay will go
"I don't believe that follows at all," answered Phoebe, tossing her
head, indifferently, "And even if I believed in the worst, I'd find
more comfort in laughing than crying." And she ran off to her own
Poor Mrs. Caldwell sat down to brood over this new trouble; and as
she brooded, fancy wrought for her the most unpleasing images.
She saw the beauty of Phoebe, a few years later in life, most sadly
marred by broken or discolored teeth. Looking at that, and that
alone, it magnified itself into a calamity, grew to an evil which
She was still tormenting herself about the prospect of Phoebe's
loss of teeth, when, in passing through her elegantly-furnished
parlors, her eyes fell on a pale acid stain, about the size of a
shilling piece, one of the rich figures in the carpet. The color of
this figure was maroon, and the stain, in consequence, distinct; at
least, it became very distinct to her eye as they dwelt upon it as if
held there by a kind of fascination.
Indeed, for a while, Mrs. Caldwell could see nothing else but this
spot on the carpet; no, not even though she turned her eyes in
various directions, the retina keeping that image to the exclusion of
While yet in the gall of this new bitterness, Mrs. Caldwell heard a
carriage stop in front of the house, and, glancing through the
window, saw that it was on the opposite side of the street. She knew
it to be the carriage of a lady whose rank made her favor a desirable
thing to all who were emulous of social distinction. To be of her set
was a coveted honor. For her friend and neighbor opposite, Mrs.
Caldwell did not feel the highest regard; and it rather hurt her to
see the first call made in that quarter, instead of upon herself. It
was no very agreeable thought, that this lady-queen of fashion, so
much courted and regarded, might really think most highly of her
neighbor opposite. To be second to her, touched the quick of pride,
Only a card was left. Then the lady reentered her carriage. What?
Driving away? Even so. Mrs. Caldwell was not even honored by a call!
This was penetrating the quick. What could it mean? Was she to be
ruled out of this lady's set? The thought was like a wounding arrow
to her soul.
Unhappy Mrs. Caldwell! Her daughter's careless habits; the warning
sign of decay among her pearly teeth; the stain on a beautiful
carpet, and, worse than all as a pain-giver, this slight from a
magnate of fashion;—were not these enough to cast a gloom over the
state of a woman who had everything towards happiness that wealth and
social station could give, but did not know how to extract from them
the blessing they had power to bestow? Slowly, and with oppressed
feelings, she left the parlors, and went up stairs. Half an hour
later, as she sat alone, engaged in the miserable work of weaving out
of the lightest material a very pall of shadows for her soul, a
servant came to the door, and announced a visitor. It was an intimate
friend, whom she could not refuse to see—a lady named Mrs. Bland.
"How are you, Mrs. Caldwell?" said the visitor, as the two ladies
"Miserable," was answered. And not even the ghost of a smile played
over the unhappy face.
"Are you sick?" asked Mrs. Bland, showing some concern.
"No, not exactly sick. But, somehow or other, I'm in a worry about
things all the while. I can't move a step in any direction without
coming against the pricks. It seems as though all things were
conspiring against me."
And then Mrs. Caldwell went, with her friend, through the whole
series of her morning troubles, ending with the sentence,—
"Now, don't you think I am beset? Why, Mrs. Bland, I'm in a
"A purgatory of your own creating, my friend," answered Mrs. Bland
with the plainness of speech warranted by the intimacy of their
friendship; "and my advice is to come out of it as quickly as
"Come out of it! That is easily said. Will you show me the way?"
"At some other time perhaps. But this morning I have something else
on hand. I've called for you to go with me on an errand of mercy."
There was no Christian response in the face of Mrs. Caldwell. She
was too deep amid the gloom of her own, wretched state to have
sympathy for others.
"Mary Brady is in trouble," said Mrs. Bland.
"What has happened?" Mrs. Caldwell was alive with interest in a
"Her husband fell through a hatchway yesterday, and came near being
"The escape was miraculous."
"Is he badly injured?"
"A leg and two ribs broken. Nothing more, I believe. But that is a
very serious thing, especially where the man's labor is his family's
"Poor Mary!" said Mrs. Caldwell, in real sympathy. "In what a
dreadful state she must be! I pity her from the bottom of my heart."
"Put on your things, and let us go and see her at once."
Now, it is never a pleasant thing for persons like Mrs. Caldwell to
look other people's troubles directly in the face. It is bad enough
to dwell among their own pains and annoyances, and they shrink from
meddling with another's griefs. But, in the present case, Mrs.
Caldwell, moved by a sense of duty and a feeling of interest in Mrs.
Brady, who had, years before, been a faithful domestic in her
mother's house, was, constrained to overcome all reluctance, and join
her friend in the proposed visit of mercy.
"Poor Mary! What a state she must be in!"
Three or four times did Mrs. Caldwell repeat this sentence, as they
walked towards that part of the town in which Mrs. Brady resided. "It
makes me sick, at heart to think of it," she added.
At last they stood at the door of a small brick house, in a narrow
street, and knocked. Mrs. Caldwell dreaded to enter, and even shrank
a little behind her friend when she heard a hand on the lock. It was
Mary who opened the door—Mary Brady, with scarcely a sign of change
in her countenance, except that it was a trifle paler.
"O! Come in!" she said, a smile of pleasure brightening over her
face. But Mrs. Caldwell could not smile in return. It seemed to her
as if it would be a mockery of the trouble which had come down upon
that humble dwelling.
"How is your husband, Mary?" she asked with a solemn face, as soon
as they had entered. "I only heard a little while ago of this
"Thank you, ma'am," replied Mrs. Brady, her countenance hardly
falling to a serious tone in its expression. "He's quite comfortable
to-day; and it's such a relief to see him out of pain. He suffered
considerably through the night, but fell asleep just at day dawn, and
slept for several hours. He awoke almost entirely free from pain."
"There are no internal injuries, I believe," said Mrs. Bland.
"None, the doctor says. And I'm so thankful. Broken bones are bad
enough, and it is hard to see as kind and good a husband as I have
suffer,"—Mary's eyes grew wet, "but they will knit and become strong
again. When I think how much worse it might have been, I am condemned
for the slightest murmur that escapes my lips."
"What are you going to do, Mary?" asked Mrs. Caldwell. "Your
husband won't be fit for work in a month, and you have a good many
mouths to fill."
"A woman's wit and a woman's will can do a great deal," answered
Mrs. Brady, cheerfully. "You see"—pointing to a table, on which lay
a bundle—"that I have already been to the tailor's for work. I'm a
quick sewer, and not afraid but what I can earn sufficient to keep
the pot boiling until John is strong enough to go to work again.
'Where there's a will, there's a way,' Mrs. Caldwell. I've found that
true so far, and I reckon it will be true to the end. John will have a
good resting spell, poor man! And, dear knows, he's a right to have
it, for he's worked hard, and with scarcely a holiday, since we were
"Well, well, Mary," said Mrs. Caldwell, in manifest surprise, "you
beat me out! I can't understand it. Here you are, under circumstances
that I should call of a most distressing and disheartening nature,
almost as cheerful as if nothing had happened. I expected to find you
overwhelmed with trouble, but, instead, you are almost as tranquil as
a June day."
"The truth is," replied Mrs. Brady, drawing, almost for shame, a
veil of sobriety over her face, "I've had no time to be troubled. If
I'd given up, and set myself down with folded hands, no doubt I
should have been miserable enough. But that isn't my way, you see.
Thinking about what I shall do, and their doing it, keep me so well
employed, that I don't get opportunity to look on the dark side of
things. And what would be the use? There's always a bright side as
well as a dark side, and I'm sure it's pleasant to be on the bright
side, if we can get there; and always try to manage it, somehow."
"Your secret is worth knowing, Mary," said Mrs. Bland.
"There's no secret about it," answered the poor woman, "unless it
be in always keeping busy. As I said just now, I've no time to be
troubled, and so trouble, after knocking a few times at my door, and
not gaining admittance, passes on to some other that stands ajar—and
there are a great many such. The fact is, trouble don't like to crowd
in among busy people, for they jostle her about, and never give her a
quiet resting place, and so she soon departs, and creeps in among the
idle ones. I can't give any better explanation, Mrs. Bland."
"Nor, may be, could the wisest philosopher that lives," returned
The two friends, after promising to furnish Mrs. Brady with an
abundance of lighter and more profitable sewing than she had obtained
at a clothier's, and saying and doing whatever else they felt to be
best under the circumstances, departed. For the distance of a block
they walked in silence. Mrs. Caldwell spoke first.
"I am rebuked," she said; "rebuked, as well as instructed. Above
all places in the world, I least expected to receive a lesson there."
"Is it not worth remembering?" asked the friend.
"I wish it were engraved in ineffaceable characters on my heart.
Ah, what a miserable self-tormentor I have been! The door of my heart
stand always ajar, as Mary said, and trouble comes gliding in that
all times, without so much as a knock to herald his coming. I must
shut and bar the door!"
"Shut it, and bar it, my friend!" answered Mrs. Bland. "And when
trouble knocks, say to her, that you are too busy with orderly and
useful things—too earnestly at work in discharging dutiful
obligations, in the larger sphere, which, by virtue of larger means,
is yours to work in—to have any leisure for her poor companionship,
and she will not tarry on your threshold. Throw to the winds such
light causes of unhappiness as were suffered to depress you this
morning, and they will be swept away like thistle down."
"Don't speak of them. My cheek burns at the remembrance," said Mrs.
They now stood at Mrs. Caldwell's door.
"You will come in?"
"No. The morning has passed, and I must return home."
"When shall I see you?" Mrs. Caldwell grasped tightly her friends'
"In a day or two."
"Come to-morrow, and help me to learn in this new book that has
been opened. I shall need a wise and a patient teacher. Come, good,
true, kind friend!"
"Give yourself no time for trouble," said Mrs. Bland, with a
tender, encouraging smile. "Let true thoughts and useful deeds fill
all your hours. This is the first lesson. Well in the heart, and all
the rest is easy."
And so, Mrs. Caldwell found it. The new life she strove to lead,
was easy just in the degree she lived in the spirit of this lesson,
and hard just in the degree of her departure.
IX. A GOOD NAME.
TWO boys, named Jacob Peters and Ralph Gilpin were passing along
Chestnut Street one evening about ten years ago, when one of them,
stopped, and said,—
"Come, Ralph, let us have some oysters. I've got a quarter." They
were in front of an oyster-cellar.
"No," replied Ralph, firmly. "I'm not going down there."
"I didn't mean that we should get anything to drink," replied the
"No matter: they sell liquor, and I don't wish to be seen in such a
"That's silly," said Jacob Peters, speaking with some warmth. "It
can't hurt you to be seen there. They sell oysters, and all we should
go there for would be to buy oysters. Come along. Don't be foolish!"
And Jacob grasped the arm of Ralph, and tried to draw him towards the
refectory. But Ralph stood immovable.
"What harm can it do?" asked Jacob.
"It might do at great deal of harm."
"In what way?"
"By hurting my good name."
"I don't understand you."
"I might be seen going in or coming out by some one who know me,
and who might take it for granted that my visit, was for liquor."
"Well, suppose he did? He would be wrong in his inference; and what
need you care? A clear conscience, I have heard my uncle say, is
better than any man's opinion, good or bad."
"I prefer the clear conscience and the good opinion together, if I
can secure both at the same time," said Ralph.
"O, you're too afraid of other people's opinions," replied Jacob,
in a sneering manner. "As for me, I'll try to do right and be right,
and not bother myself about what people may think. Come, are you
going to join me in a plate of oysters?"
"Very well. Good by. I'm sorry you're afraid to do right for fear
somebody may think you're going to do wrong," and Jacob Peters
descended to the oyster-cellar, while Ralph Gilpin passed on his way
homeward. As Jacob entered the saloon he met a man who looked at him
narrowly, and as Jacob thought, with surprise. He had seen this man
before, but did not know his name.
A few weeks afterwards, the two boys, who were neighbor, sat
together planning a row-boat excursion on the Schuylkill.
"We'll have Harry Elder, and Dick Jones, and Tom Forsyth," said
"No, not Tom Forsyth," objected Ralph.
"Why not? He's a splendid rower."
"I don't wish to be seen in his company," said Ralph. "He doesn't
bear a good character."
"O, well; that's nothing to us."
"I think it is a great deal to us. We are judged by the company we
"Let people judge; who cares?" replied Jacob; "not I."
"Well, I do, then," answered Ralph.
"I hate to see a boy so 'fraid of a shadow as you are."
"A tainted name is no shadow; but a real evil to be afraid of."
"I don't see how our taking Tom Forsyth along is going to taint
your name, or mine either."
"He's a bad boy," Ralph firmly objected. "He uses profane language.
You and I have both seen him foolish from drink. And we know that he
was sent home from a good place, under circumstances that threw
suspicion on his honesty. This being so, I am not going to be seen in
his company. I think too much of my good name."
"But, Ralph," urged Jacob, in a persuasive manner, "he's such a
splendid rower. Don't be foolish about it; nobody'll see us. And we
shall have such a grand time. I'll make him promise not to use a
wicked word all day."
"It's no use to talk, Jacob. I'm not going in company with Tom
Forsyth if I never go boating."
"You're a fool!" exclaimed Jacob, losing his temper.
Ralph's face burned with anger, but he kept back the sharp words
that sprung to his lips, and after a few moments said, with forced
"There's no use in you're getting mad about it, Jacob. If you
prefer Tom to me, very well. I haven't set my heart on going."
"I've spoken to Tom already" said Jacob, cooling off a little. "And
he's promised to go; so there's no getting away from it. I'm sorry
you're so over nice."
The rowing party came off, but Ralph was not of the number. As the
boys were getting into the boat at Fairmount, Jacob noticed two or
three men standing on the wharf; and on lifting his eyes to the face
of one of them, he recognized the same individual who had looked at
him so intently as he entered the oyster saloon. The man's eyes
rested upon him for a few moments, and then turned to the boy, Tom
Forsyth. Young Peters might have been mistaken, but he thought he saw
on the man's face a look of surprise and disapprobation. Somehow or
other he did not feel very comfortable in mind as the boat pushed off
from shore. Who was this man? and why had he looked at him twice so
intently, and with something of disapproval in his face?
Jacob Peters was fifteen years old. He had left school a few weeks
before, and his father was desirous of getting him into a large
whole-sale house, on Market Street. A friend was acquainted with a
member of the firm, and through his kind offices he hoped to make the
arrangement. Some conversation had already taken place between the
friend and merchant, who said they wished another lad in the store,
but were very particular as to the character of their boys. The friend
assured him that Jacob was a lad of excellent character; and depending
on this assurance, a preliminary engagement had been made, Jacob was
to go into the store just one week from the day on which he went on
the boating excursion. Both his own surprise and that of his father
may be imagined when a note came, saying that the firm in Market
Street had changed its views in regard to a lad, and would not require
the services of Jacob Peters.
The father sent back a polite note, expressing regret at the change
of view, and asking that his son should still be borne in mind, as he
would prefer that situation for him to any other in the city. Jacob
was the bearer of this note. When he entered the store, the first
person he met was the man who looked at him so closely in the oyster
saloon and on the wharf at Fairmount. Jacob handed him the note, which
he opened and read, and then gave him cold bow.
A glimpse of the truth passed through Jacob's mind. He had been
misjudged, and here was the unhappy result. His good name had
suffered, and yet he had done nothing actually wrong. But boys, like
men, are judged by the company they keep and the places in which they
"I'm going into a store next week," said Ralph Gilpin, to his
friend Jacob, about a week afterwards.
"Where?" asked Jacob.
"On Market Street."
"In what store?"
"In A. L.'s," replied Ralph.
"O, no!" ejaculated Jacob, his face flushing, "not there!"
"Yes," replied Ralph. "I'm going to A. L.'s. Father got me the
place. Don't you think I'm lucky? They're very particular about the
boys they taking that store. Father says he considers their choice of
me quite a compliment. I'm sure I feel proud enough about it."
"Well, I think they acted very meanly," said Jacob, showing sonic
anger. "They promised father that I should have the place."
"Are you sure about that?" asked the young friend.
"Certainly I am. I was to go there this week. But they sent father
a note, saying they had changed their minds about a boy."
"Perhaps," suggested Ralph, "it you were seen going into a drinking
saloons or in company with Tom Forsyth. You remember what I said to
you about preserving a good name."
Jacob's face colored, and his eyes fell to the ground.
"O, that's only your guess," he replied, tossing his head, and
putting on an incredulous look; but he felt in his heart that the
suggestion of Ralph was true.
It was over six months before Jacob Peters was successful in
getting a place, and then he had to go into a third-rate
establishment, where the opportunity for advancement was small, and
where his associates were not of the best character.
The years passed on; and Ralph continued as careful as in the
beginning to preserve a good name. He was not content simply with
doing right; but felt that it was a duty to himself, and to all who
might, in any way be dependent on him, to appear right also. He was,
therefore, particular in regard to the company he kept and the places
he visited. Jacob, on the, contrary, continued to let inclination
rather than prudence govern him in these matters. His habits were
probably as good as those of Ralph, and his business capacity fully
equal. But he was not regarded with the same favor, for he was often
seen in company with young men known to be of loose morals, and would
occasionally, visit billiard-saloons, tenpin-alleys, and other places
where men of disreputable character are found. His father, who
observed Jacob closely, remonstrated with him occasionally as the boy
advanced towards manhood; but Jacob put on an independent air, and
replied that he went on the principle of being right with himself.
"You can't," he would say, "keep free from misjudgment, do what you
will. Men are always more inclined to think evil of each other than
good. I do nothing that I'm ashamed of."
So he continued to go where he pleased, and to associate with whom
he pleased, not caring what people might say.
It is no very easy thing for as young man to make his way in the
world. All the avenues to success are thickly crowded with men of
talent, industry, and energy, and many favorable circumstances must
conspire to help him who gets very far in advance. Talent and
industry are wanted in, business, but the passport of a good
character must accompany them, or they cannot be made rightly
available to their possessor. it is, therefore, of the first
importance to preserved a good name, for this, if united with ability
and industry, with double your chances of success in life; for men
will put confidence in you beyond what they can in others, who do not
stand so fairly in common estimation.
In due time Ralph Gilpin and Jacob Peters entered the world as men,
but not at equal advantage. They had learned the same business, and
were both well acquainted with its details; but Ralph stood fairer in
the eyes of business men, with whom he had come in contact, because he
had been more careful about his reputation.
While Jacob was twenty-three years of age, he was getting a salary
of one thousand dollars a year; but this was too small a sum to meet
the demands that had come upon him. His father, to whom he was
tenderly attached, had lost his health and failed in business. In
consequence of this, the burden of maintaining the family fell almost
entirely on Jacob. It would not have been felt as a burden if his
income had been sufficient for their support. But it was not, unless
their comfortable style of living was changed, and all shrunk together
in a smaller house. He had sisters just advancing towards womanhood,
and for their sakes, particularly, did he regret the stern necessity
that required a change.
About this time, the death of a responsible clerk in the house of
A. L. left a vacancy to be filled, and as Jacob was in every way
competent to take the position, which commanded a salary of eighteen
hundred dollars he made application; Ralph Gilpin, who was a salesman
in the house, said all that he could in Jacob's favor; but the latter
had not been careful to preserve a good name, and this was against
him. The place was one of trust, and the members of the firm, after
considering the matter, decided adversely. Nothing as to fact was
alleged or known. Not a word as to his conduct in life was said
against him. But he had often been seen in company with young men who
did not bear a solid reputation, and where doubt existed, it was not
considered safe to employ him. So that good opportunity was lost—lost
through his own fault.
Poor Jacob felt gloomy and disappointed for a time; talked of
"fate," "bad luck," and all that kind of nonsense, when the cause of
his ill-success was to be attributed solely to an unwise disregard of
"We shall have to remove," he said to his mother in a troubled way,
after this disappointment. "If I had secured the situation at A. L.'s
all would have been well with us. But now nothing remains but to seek
a humbler place to remain here will only involve us in debt; and that,
above all things, we must avoid. I am sorry for Jane and Alice; but it
can't be helped."
His mother tried to answer cheerfully and hopefully: but her words
did not dispel a single shadow from his mind. A few days after this,
a gentleman said to Jacob Peters,—
"I'll give you a hint of something that is coming in the way of
good fortune. A gentleman, whose name I do not feel at liberty to
mention, contemplates going into your business. He has plenty of
capital, and wishes to unite himself with a young, active, and
experienced man. Two or three have been thought of—you among the
rest; find I believe it has been finally settled that Jacob Peters is
to be the man. So let me congratulate you, my young friend, on this
And he grasped the hand of Jacob, and shook it warmly. From the
vale of despondency, the young man was at once elevated to the
mountain-top of hope, and felt, for a time, bewildered in prospect of
the good fortune awaited him.
Almost in that very hour the capitalist, to whom his friend
referred, was in conversation with Mr. A., of the firm of A. L.
"I have about concluded to associate with myself in business young
Jacob Peters," said the former; "but before coming to a final
conclusion, I thought it best to ask your opinion in the matter. You
know the young man?"
"Yes," replied Mr. A., "I have known him in a business way for
several years. We have considerable dealing with the house in which
he is employed."
"What do you think of him?"
"He is a young man of decided business qualities."
"So it appear's to me. And you think favorably of him?"
"As to the business qualification I do," replied Mr. A., placing an
emphasis on the word business.
"Then you do not think favorably of him in some other respect?"
Mr. A. was silent.
"I hope," said the, other, "that you will speak out plainly. This
is a matter, to me, of the first importance. If you know of any reason
why I should not associate this young man with me in business I trust
you will speak without reserve."
Mr. A. remained silent for some moments, and then said,—
"I feel considerably embarrassed in regard to this matter. I would
on no account give a wrong impression in regard to the young man. He
may be all right; is all right, perhaps; but—"
"But what, sir?"
"I have seen him in company with young men whose characters are not
fair. And I have seen him entering into and coming out of places
where it is not always safe to go."
"Enough, sir, enough!" said the gentleman, emphatically, "The
matter is settled. It may be all right with him, as you say. I hope it
is. But he can never be a partner of mine. And now, passing from him,
I wish to ask about another young man, who has been in my mind second
to Peters. He is in your employment."
"Ralph Gilpin, you mean."
"In every way unexceptionable. I can speak of him with the utmost
confidence. He is right in all respects—right as to the business
quality, right as to character, and right as to associations. You
could not have a better man."
"The matter is settled, then," replied the gentleman. "I will take
Ralph Gilpin if neither you nor he objects."
"There will be no objection on either side, I can answer for that,"
said Mr. A., and the interview closed.
From the mountain-top of hope, away down into the dark vale of
despondency, passed Jacob Peters, when it was told him that Ralph
Gilpin was to be a partner in the new firm which he had expected to
"And so nothing is left to us," he said to himself, in bitterness
of spirit, "but go down, while others, no better than we are, move
steadily upwards. Why should Ralph Gilpin be preferred before me? He
has no higher ability nor stricter integrity. He cannot be more
faithful, more earnest, or more active than I would have been in the
new position. But I am set aside and he is taken. It is a bitter,
Three years have passed, and Ralph Gilpin is on the road to
fortune, while Jacob Peters remains a clerk. And why? The one was
careful of his good name; the other was not.
My young reader, take the lesson to heart. Guard well your good
name; and as name signifies quality, by all means guard your spirit,
so that no evil thing enter there; and your good name shall be only
the expression of your good quality.
X. LITTLE LIZZIE.
"IF they wouldn't let him have it!" said Mrs. Leslie, weeping. "O,
if they wouldn't sell him liquor, there'd be no trouble! He's one of
the best of men when he doesn't drink. He never brings liquor into
the house; and he tries hard enough, I know, to keep sober, but he
cannot pass Jenks's tavern."
Mrs. Leslie was talking with a sympathizing neighbor, who
responded, by saying, that she wished the tavern would burn down, and
that, for her part, she didn't feel any too good to apply fire to the
place herself. Mrs. Leslie sighed, and wiped away the tears with her
"It's hard, indeed, it is," she murmured, "to see a man like Jenks
growing richer and richer every day out of the earnings of poor
working-men, whose families are in want of bread. For every sixpence
that goes over his counter some one is made poorer—to some heart is
given a throb of pain."
"It's a downright shame!" exclaimed the neighbor, immediately. "If
I had my way with the lazy, good-for-nothing fellow, I'd see that he
did something useful, if it was to break stone on the road. Were it
my husband, instead of yours, that he enticed into his bar, depend
on't he'd get himself into trouble."
While this conversation was going on, a little girl, not over ten
years of age, sat listening attentively. After a while she went
quietly from the room, and throwing her apron over head, took her
way, unobserved by her mother, down the road.
Where was little Lizzie going? There was a purpose in her mind: She
had started on a mission. "O, if they wouldn't sell him liquor!"
These earnest, tearful words of her, mother had filled her thoughts.
If Mr. Jenks wouldn't sell her father anything to drink, "there would
be no more trouble." How simple, how direct the remedy! She would go
to Mr. Jenks, and ask him not to let her father have any more liquor,
and then all would be well again. Artless, innocent child! And this
was her mission.
The tavern kept by Jenks, the laziest man in Milanville,—he was
too lazy to work, and therefore went to tavern-keeping,—stood nearly
a quarter of a mile from the poor tenement occupied by the Leslies.
Towards this point, under a hot, sultry sun, little Lizzie made her
way, her mind so filled with its purpose that she was unconscious of
heat of fatigue.
Not long before a traveller alighted at the tavern. After giving
directions to have his horses fed, he entered the bar-room, and went
to where Jenks stood, behind the counter.
"Have something to drink?" inquired the landlord.
"I'll take a glass of water, if you please."
Jenks could not hide the indifference at once felt towards the
stranger. Very deliberately he set a pitcher and a glass upon the
counter, and then turned partly away. The stranger poured out a
tumbler of water, and drank it off with an air of satisfaction.
"Good water, that of yours, landlord," said he.
"Is it?" was returned, somewhat uncourteously.
"I call it good water—don't you?"
"Never drink water by itself." As Jenks said this, he winked to one
of his good customers, who was lounging, in the bar. "In fact, it's
so long since I drank any water, that I forgot how it tastes. Don't
The man, to whom this was addressed, was not so far lost to shame
as Jenks. He blushed and looked confused, as he replied,—
"It might be better for some of us if we had not lost our relish
for pure water."
"A true word spoken, my friend!" said the stranger, turning to the
man, whose swollen visage, and patched, threadbare garments, too
plainly told the story of his sad life. "'Water, pure water, bright
water;' that is my motto. It never swells the face, nor inflames the
eyes, nor mars the countenance. Its attendants are health, thrift,
and happiness. It takes not away the children's bread, nor the
toiling wife's garments. Water!—it is one of God's chiefest
blessings! Our friend, the landlord here, says he has forgotten how
it tastes; and you have lost all relish for the refreshing draught!
Ah, this is a sad confession!—one which the angels might weep to
There were two or three customers in the bar besides Leslie, to
whom this was addressed; and all of them, in spite of the landlord's
angry and sneering countenance, treated the stranger with attention
and respect. Seeing this, Jenks could not restrain himself; so,
coming from behind his bar, he advanced to his side, and, laying his
hand quite rudely on his shoulder, said, in a peremptory manner,—
"See here, my friend! If you are about making a temperance lecture,
you can adjourn to the Town Hall or the Methodist Chapel."
The stranger moved aside a pace or two, so that the hand of Jenks
might fall from his person, and then said, mildly,—
"There must be something wrong here if a man may not speak in
praise of water without giving offense."
"I said you could adjourn your lecture!" The landlord's face was
now fiery red, and he spoke with insolence and passion.
"O, well, as you are president of the meeting, I suppose we must
let you exercise an arbitrary power of adjournment," said the
stranger, good-humoredly. "I didn't think any one had so strong a
dislike for water as to consider its praise an insult."
At this moment a child stepped into the bar-room. Her little face
was flushed, and great beads of perspiration were slowly moving down
her crimson cheeks. Her step was elastic, her manner earnest, and her
large, dark eyes bright with an eager purpose. She glanced neither to
the right nor the left, but walking up to the landlord, lifted to him
her sweet young face, and said, in tones that thrilled every heart but
"Please, Mr. Jenks, don't sell papa any more liquor!"
"Off home with you, this instant!" exclaimed Jenks, the crimson of
his face deepening to a dark purple. As he spoke, he advanced towards
the child, with his hand uplifted in a threatening attitude.
"Please don't, Mr. Jenks," persisted the child, not moving from
where she stood, nor taking her eyes front the landlord's
countenance. "Mother says, if you wouldn't sell him liquor, there'd
be no trouble. He's kind and good to us all when he doesn't drink."
"Off, I say!" shouted Jenks, now maddened beyond self-control; and
his hand was about descending upon the little one, when the stranger
caught her in his arms, exclaiming, as he did so, with deep
"God bless the child! No, no, precious one!" he added; "don't fear
him. Plead for your father—plead for your home. Your petition must
prevail! He cannot say nay to one of the little ones, whose angels do
always behold the face of their Father in heaven. God bless the
child!" added the stranger, in a choking voice. "O, that the father,
for whom she has come on this touching errand, were present now! If
there were anything of manhood yet left in his nature, this would
awaken it from its palsied sleep."
"Papa! O, papa!" now cried the child, stretching forth her hands.
In the next moment she was clinging to the breast of her father, who,
with his arms clasped tightly around her, stood weeping and mingling
his tears with those now raining from the little one's eyes.
What an oppressive stillness pervaded that room! Jenks stood
subdued and bewildered, his state of mental confusion scarcely
enabling him to comprehend the full import of the scene. The stranger
looked on wonderingly, yet deeply affected. Quietly, and with moist
eyes, the two or three drinking customers who had been lounging in the
bar, went stealthily out; and the landlord, the stranger and the
father and his child, were left the only inmates of the room.
"Come, Lizzie, dear! This is no place for us," said Leslie,
breaking the deep silence. "We'll go home."
And the unhappy inebriate took his child by the hand, and led her
towards the door. But the little one held back.
"Wait, papa; wait!" she said. "He hasn't promised yet. O, I wish he
"Promise her, in Heaven's name!" said the stranger.
"Promise!" said Leslie, in a stern yet solemn voice, as he turned
and fixed his eyes upon the landlord.
"If I do promise, I'll keep it!" returned Jenks, in a threatening
tone, as he returned the gaze of Leslie.
"Then, for God's sake, promise!" exclaimed Leslie, in a
half-despairing voice. "Promise, and I'm safe!"
"Be it so! May I be cursed, if ever I sell you a drop of drinking
at this bar, while I am landlord of the 'Stag and Hounds'!" Jenks
spoke with with an angry emphasis.
"God be thanked!" murmured the poor drunkard, as he led his child
away. "God be thanked! There is hope for me yet."
Hardly had the mother of Lizzie missed her child, ere she entered,
leading her father by the hand.
"O, mother!" she exclaimed, with a joy-lit countenance, and in a
voice of exultation, "Mr. Jenks has promised."
"Promised what?" Hope sprung up in her heart, on wild and
fluttering wings, her face flushed, and then grew deadly pale. She sat
panting for a reply.
"That he would never sell me another glass of liquor," said her
A pair of thin, white hands were clasped quickly together, an ashen
face was turned upwards, tearless eyes looked their thankfulness to
"There is hope yet, Ellen," said Leslie.
"Hope, hope! And O, Edward, you have said the word!"
"Hope, through our child. Innocence has prevailed over vice and
cruelty. She came to the strong, evil, passionate man, and, in her
weakness and innocence, prevailed over him. God made her fearless and
A year afterwards a stranger came again that way, and stopped at
the "Stag and Hounds." As before, Jenks was behind his well-filled
bar, and drinking customers came and went in numbers. Jenks did not
recognize him until he called for water, and drank a full tumbler of
the pure liquor with a hearty zest. Then he knew him, but feigned to
be ignorant of his identity. The stranger made no reference to the
scene he had witnessed there a twelvemonth before, but lingered in
the bar for most of the day, closely observing every one that came to
drink. Leslie was not among the number.
"What has become of the man and the little girl I saw here, at my
last visit to Milanville?" said the stranger, speaking at last to
"Gone to the devil, for all I care," was the landlord's rude
answer, as he turned off from his questioner.
"For all you care, no doubt," said the stranger to himself. "Men
often speak their real thoughts in a passion."
"Do you see that little white cottage away off there, just at the
edge of the wood? Two tall poplars stand in front."
Thus spoke to the stranger one who had heard him address the
"I do. What of it?" he answered.
"The man you asked for lives there."
"And what is more, if he keeps on as he has begun, the cottage will
be all his own in another year. Jenks, here, doesn't feel any good
blood for him, as you may well believe. A poor man's prosperity is
regarded as so much loss to him. Leslie is a good mechanic—one of
the best in Milanville. He can earn twelve dollars a week, year in
and year out. Two hundred dollars he has already paid on his cottage;
and as he is that much richer, Jenks thinks himself just so much
poorer; for all this surplus, and more too, would have gone into his
till, if Leslie had not quit drinking."
"Aha! I see! Well, did Leslie, as you call him, ever try to get a
drink here, since the landlord promised never to let him have another
"Twice to my knowledge."
"And he refused him?"
"Yes. If you remember, he said, in his anger, '_May I be cursed, if
I sell him another drop.'"
"I remember it very well."
"That saved poor Leslie. Jenks is superstitious in some things. He
wanted to get his custom again,—for it was well worth having,—and he
was actually handing him the bottle one day, when I saw it, and
reminded him of his self-imprecation. He hesitated, looked
frightened, withdrew the bottle from the counter, and then, with
curses, drove Leslie from his bar-room, threatening, at the same
time, to horsewhip him if ever he set a foot over his threshold
"Poor drunkards!" mused the stranger, as he rode past the neat
cottage of the reformed man a couple of hours afterwards. "As the
case now stands, you are only saved as by fire. All law, all
protection, is on the side of those who are engaged in enticing you
into sin, and destroying you, body and soul. In their evil work, they
have free course. But for you, unhappy wretches, after they have
robbed you of worldly goods, and even manhood itself, are provided
prisons and pauper homes! And for your children,"—a dark shadow swept
over the stranger's face, and a shudder went through his frame. "Can
it be, a Christian country in which I live, and such things darken the
very sun at noonday!" he added as he sprung his horse into a gallop
and rode swiftly onward.
XI. ALICE AND THE PIGEON.
ONE evening in winter as Alice, a dear little girl whom everybody
loved, pushed aside the curtains of her bedroom window, she saw the
moon half hidden by great banks of clouds, and only a few stars
peeping out here and there. Below, the earth lay dark, and cold. The
trees looked like great shadows.
There was at change in her sweet face as she let fall the curtain
and turned from the window.
"Poor birds!" she said.
"They are all safe," answered her mother, smiling. "God has
provided for every bird a place of rest and shelter, and each one
knows where it is and how to find it. Not many stay here in the winter
time, but fly away to the sunny south, where the air is warm and the
trees green and fruitful."
"God is very good," said the innocent child. Then she knelt with
folded hands, and prayed that her heavenly further would bless
everybody, and let his angels take care of her while she slept. Her
mother's kiss was still warm upon her lips as she passed into the
world of pleasant dreams.
In the morning, when Alice again pushed back the curtains from her
window, what a sight of wonder and beauty met her eyes! Snow had
fallen, and everything wore a garment of dazzling whiteness. In the
clear blue sky, away in the cast, the sun was rising; and as his
beams fell upon the fields, and trees, and houses, every object
glittered as if covered all over with diamonds.
But only for a moment or two did Alice look upon this beautiful
picture, for a slight movement drew her eyes to a corner of the
window-sill, on the outside, and there sat a pigeon close against the
window-pane, with its head drawn down and almost hidden among the
feathers, and its body shivering with cold. The pigeon did not seem to
be afraid of her, though she saw its little pink eyes looking right
into her own.
"O, poor, dear bird!" she said in soft, pitying tones, raising the
window gently, so that it might not be frightened away. Then she
stepped back and waited to see if the bird would not come in. Pigeon
raised its brown head in a half scared away; turned it to this side
and to that; and after looking first at the, comfortable chamber and
then away at the snow-covered earth, quietly hopped upon the sill
inside. Next he flew upon the back of a chair, and then down upon the
"Little darling," said Alice, softly. Then she dressed herself
quickly, and went down stairs for some crumbs of bread, which she
scattered on the floor. The pigeon picked them up, with scarcely a
sign of fear.
As soon as he had eaten up all the crumbs, he flew back towards the
window and resting on the sill, swelled his glossy throat and cooed
his thanks to his little friend. After which darted away, the morning
sunshine glancing from wings.
A feeling of disappointment crept into the heart of Alice as the
bird swept out of sight. "Poor little darling!" she sighed. "If he
had only known how kind I would have been, and how safe he was here,
what nice food and pure water would have been given, he wouldn't have
When Alice told about the visit of pigeon, at breakfast time, a
pleasant surprise was felt by all at the table. And they talked of,
doves and wood-pigeons, her father telling her once or two nice
stories, with which she was delighted. After breakfast, her mother
took a volume from the library containing Willis's exquisite poem,
"The little Pigeon," and gave it to Alice to read. She soon knew it
all by heart.
A great many times during the day Alice stood at the open door, or
looked from the windows, in hope of seeing the pigeon again. On a
distant house-top, from which the snow had been melted or blown away,
or flying through the air, she would get sight of a bird now and then;
but she couldn't tell whether or not it was the white and brown pigeon
she had sheltered and fed in the morning. But just before sundown, as
she stood by the parlor window, a cry of joy fell from her lips. There
was the pigeon sitting on a fence close by, and looking, it seemed to
her, quite forlorn.
Alice threw open the window, and then ran into the kitchen for some
crumbs of bread. When she came back, pigeon was still on the fence.
Then she called to him, holding out her her hand scattering a few
crumbs on the window-sill. The bird was hungry and had sharp eyes,
and when he saw Alice he no doubt remembered the nice meal she had
given him in the morning, in a few moments he flew to the window, but
seemed half afraid. So Alice stood a little back in the room, when he
began to pick up the crumbs. Then she came nearer and nearer, holding
out her hand that was full of crumbs, and as soon as pigeon had picked
up all that was on the sill, he took the rest of his evening meal from
the dear little girl's hand. Every now and then he would stop and look
up at his kind friend, as much as to say, "Thank you for my nice
supper. You are so good!" When he had eaten enough, he cooed a little,
bobbed his pretty head, and then lifted his wings and flew away.
He did not come back again. At first Alice, was disappointed, but
this soon wore off, and only a feeling of pleasure remained.
"I would like so much to see him and feed him," she said. "But I
know he's better off and happier at his own home, with a nice place
to sleep in and plenty to eat, than sitting on a window-sill all
night in a snow storm." And then she would say over that sweet poem,
"The City Pigeon," which her mother had given her to get by heart.
Here it is, and I hope every one of my little readers will get it by
"Stoop to my window, thou beautiful dove! Thy daily visits have
touched my love. I watch thy coming, and list the note That stirs so
low in thy mellow throat, And my joy is high To catch the glance of
thy gentle eye.
"Why dost thou sit on the heated eaves, And forsake the wood with
its freshened leaves? Why dost thou haunt the sultry street, When the
paths of the forest are cool and sweet? How canst thou bear This
noise of people—this sultry air?
"Thou alone of the feathered race Dost look unscared on the human
face; Thou alone, with a wing to flee, Dost love with man in his
haunts to be; And the 'gentle dove' Has become a name for trust and
"A holy gift is thine, sweet bird! Thou'rt named with childhood's
earliest word! Thou'rt linked with all that is fresh and wild In the
prisoned thoughts of the city child; And thy glossy wings Are its
brightest image of moving things.
"It is no light chance. Thou art set apart, Wisely by Him who has
tamed thy heart, To stir the love for the bright and fair That else
were sealed in this crowded air I sometimes dream Angelic rays front
thy pinions stream.
"Come then, ever, when daylight leaves The page I read, to my
humble eaves, And wash thy breast in the hollow spout, And murmur thy
low sweet music out! I hear and see Lessons of heaven, sweet bird, in
XII. DRESSED FOR A PARTY.
A LADY sat reading. She was so absorbed in her book as to be nearly
motionless. Her face, in repose, was serious, almost sad; for twice a
score of years had not passed without leaving the shadow of a cloud or
the mark of a tempest. The door opened, and, as she looked up,
pleasant smile lay softly on her lips. A beautiful girl, elegantly
attired for an evening party, came in.
"All ready?" said the lady, closing her volume, and looking at the
maiden with a lively interest, that blended thoughtfulness with
"All ready," aunt Helen. "And now what do you think of me? What is
the effect?" Tone, expression, and manner, all gave plainly enough
speaker's own answer to her questions. She thought the make up
splendid—the effect striking.
"Shall I say just what I think, Alice?"
A thin veil of shadows fell over the bright young countenance.
"Love will speak tenderly. But even tenderly-spoken things, not
moving with the current of our feelings, are not pleasant to hear."
"Say on, aunt Helen. I can listen to anything from you. You think
me overdressed. I see it in your eyes."
"You have read my thought correctly, dear."
"In what particular am I overdressed? Nothing could be simpler than
a white illusion."
"Without an abundance of pink trimming, it would be simple and
becoming enough. Your dressmaker has overloaded it with ribbon; at
least, so it appears to me. But, passing that let me suggest a
thought touching those two heavy bracelets. One, on the exposed arm,
is sufficiently attractive. Two will create the impression that you
are weakly fond of ornament; and in the eyes of every one who feels
this, the effect of your dress will be marred. Men and women see down
into our states of feeling with wonderful quick intuitions, and read
us while we are yet ignorant in regard to ourselves."
Alice unclasped, with a faint sigh, one of the bracelets, and laid
it on her aunt's bureau.
"Is that better?" she asked.
"I think so."
"But the arm is so naked, aunt. It wants something, just for
"To me the effect would be improved if arms and neck were covered.
But, as it is, if you think something required to draw attention from
the bare skin, let one ornament be the most simple in your jewel box.
You have a bracelet of hair, with neat mountings. Take that."
Alice stood for a while pondering her aunt's suggestion. Then, with
half-forced cheerfulness of tone, she answered,—
"May be you're right, I'll take the hair bracelets instead. And
now, what else?"
"The critic's task is never for me a pleasant one, Alice. Least
pleasant when it touches one I love. If you had not asked what I
thought of your appearance, I would have intruded no exceptions. I
have been much in society since I was very young, and have always
been an observer. Two classes of women, I notice, usually make up the
staple of our social assemblages: those who consult taste in dress,
and those who study effect; those who think and appreciate, and those
who court admiration. By sensible people,—and we need not pay much
regard to the opinion of others,—these two classes are well
understood, and estimated at their real value."
"It is quite plain, aunt Helen," said Alice, her color much
heightened, "that you have set me over to the side of those who study
effect and court admiration."
"I think you are in danger of going over to that side, my dear,"
was gently answered, "and I love you too well not to desire something
better for my niece. Turn your thought inward and get down, if
possible, to your actual state of mind. Why have you chosen this very
effective style of dress? It is not in good taste—even you, I think,
will agree with me so far."
"Not in good taste, aunt Helen!"
"A prima donna, or a ballet—"
"How, aunt!" Alice made a quick interruption.
"You see, my child, how I am affected. Let me say it out in plain
words—your appearance, when, you came in a few minutes ago actually
"Indeed, indeed, aunt Helen, you are too severe in your tastes! We
are not Friends."
"You are not going in the character of a May queen, Alice, that you
should almost hide your beautiful hair in ribbons and flowers. A
stiff bouquet in a silver holder is simply an impediment, and does
not give a particle of true womanly grace. That necklace of pearls,
if half hidden among soft laces, would be charming; but banding the
uncovered neck and half-exposed chest, it looks bald, inharmonious,
and out of place. White, with a superfluity of pink trimming, jewelry
and flowers, I call on the outside of good taste; and if you go as you
are, you will certainly attract all eyes, but I am sure you will not
win admiration for these things from a single heart whose regard is
worth having. Don't be hurt with me, Alice. I am speaking with all
love and sincerity, and from a wider experience and observation than
it is possible for you to have reached. Don't go as you are, if you
can possibly make important changes. What time is left?"
Alice stood silent, with a clouded face. Her aunt looked at her
"There is a full half hour. You may do much in that time. But you
had best refer to your mother. Her taste and mine may not entirely
"O, as to that, mother is on your side. But she is always so plain
in her notions," said Alice, with a slight betrayal of impatience.
"A young lady will always be safest in society, Alice—always more
certain to make a good impression, if she subordinate her love of
dress and ornament as much as possible to her mother's taste. In
breaking away from this, my dear, you have gone over to an extreme
that, if persisted in, will class you with vain lovers of admiration;
with mere show girls, who, conscious of no superior moral and mental
attractions, seek to win by outward charms. Be not of them, dear
Alice, but of the higher class, whose minds are clothed in beautiful
garments whose loveliest and most precious things are, like jewels,
shut within a casket."
Alice withdrew, silent, almost hurt, though not offended, and more
than half resolved to give up the party. But certainly recollections
checked this forming resolve before it reached a state of full
"How will this do?" She pushed open the door of her aunt's room
half an hour afterwards with this sentence on her lips. Her cheeks
were glowing, and her eyes full of sparkles. So complete was the
change, that for a brief space the aunt gazed at her wonderingly. She
wore a handsome fawn-colored silk, made high in the neck, around which
was a narrow lace collar of exceeding fineness, pinned with a single
diamond. A linked band of gold, partly hidden by the lace
undersleeve, clasped one of her wrists. A small spray of pearls and
silver formed the only ornament for her hair, and nestled,
beautifully contrasted among its dark and glossy braids.
"Charming!" replied aunt Helen, in no feigned admiration. "In my
eyes you are a hundred times more attractive than you were, a little
while ago, and will prove more attractive to all whose favor is worth
the winning." And she arose and kissed her nice lovingly.
"I am not overdressed." Alice smiled.
"Better underdressed than overdressed, always, my dear, If there is
any fault, it is on the right side."
"I am glad you are pleased, aunt Helen."
"Are you not better pleased with yourself?" was asked.
"I can't just say that, aunt. I've worn this dress in company
several times, and it's very plain."
"It is very becoming, dear; and we always appear to best advantage
in that which most accords with our style of person and complexion.
To my eyes, in this more simple yet really elegant apparel, you look
charming. Before, you impressed me with a sense of vulgarity; now,
the impression, is one of refinement."
"Thank you for such flattering words, aunt Helen. I will accept the
pictures in your eyes as justly contrasted. Of one thing I am sure, I
shall feel more at ease, and less conscious of observation, than would
have been the case had I gone in my gayer attire. Good evening. It is
growing late, and I must be away."
The maiden stooped, and kissed her aunt affectionately.
"Good evening, dear, and may the hours be pleasant ones."
When Alice entered the drawing-room, where the company were
assembling her eyes were almost dazzled with the glitter of jewelry
and the splendor of colors. Most of the ladies present seemed
ambitious of display, emulous of ornament. She felt out of place, in
her grave and simple costume, and moved to a part of the room where
she would be away from observation. But her eyes were soon wandering
about, scanning forms and faces, not from simple curiosity, but with
an interest that was visible in her countenance. She looked for the
presence of one who had been, of late, much in her thoughts: of one
for whose eyes, more than for the eyes of any other, she apparelled
herself with that studied effect which received so little approval
from her aunt Helen. Alice felt sober. If she entertained doubts
touching her change of dress they were gone now. Plainly, to her
convictions, aunt Helen was wrong and she had been wrong in yielding
her own best judgement of the case.
Alice had been seated only for a little while, when she saw the
young man to whom we have just referred. He was standing at the
extreme end of the room, talking in a lively manner with a
gayly-dressed girl, who seemed particularly pleased with his
attentions. Beside her Alice would have seemed almost Quaker-like in
plainness. And Alice felt this with something like a pang. Soon they
passed across the room, approaching very near, and stood within a few
feet of her for several minutes. Then they moved away, and sit down
together not far off, still chatting in the lively manner at first
observed. Once or twice the young man appeared to look directly at
Alice, but no sign of recognition was visible on his face.
After the first emotions of disappointment in not being recognized
had subsided, the thoughts of Alice began to lift her out of the
state in much she bad been resting.
"If fine feathers make the fine bird," she said to herself, "let
him have the gay plumage. As for me, I ask a higher estimate. So I
will be content."
With the help of pride she rose above the weakness that was
depressing her. A lady friend joined her at the moment, and she was
soon interested in conversation.
"Excuse me for a personal reference, Alice," said this friend in a
familiar way, "and particularly for speaking of dress. But the fact
is, you shame at least one half of us girls by your perfect
subordination of everything to good taste. I never saw you so
faultlessly attired in my life."
"The merit, if there is any," replied Alice, "is not mine. I was
coming like a butterfly, but my aunt Helen, who is making us a visit,
objected so strongly that I took off my party dress and head-dress,
made for the occasion, and, in a fit of half-don't-care desperation,
got myself up after this modest fashion that you are pleased to call
in such good taste."
"Make your aunt Helen my compliments, and say to her that I wish
she were multiplied a thousands times. You will be the belle to-night,
if there are many sensible man present. Ah, there comes Mr. Benton!"
At this name the heart of Alice leaped. "He has spied you out
already. You are the attraction, of course, not me."
Mr. Benton, who had been, of late, so much in her thought, now
stood bowing before the two young ladies, thus arresting their
conversation. The last speaker was right. Alice had drawn him across
the room, as was quickly apparent, for to her alone he was soon
addressing himself. To quite the extent allowable in good breeding,
was Alice monopolized by Mr. Benton during the evening and when he
left her, with scarcely-concealed reluctance, another would take his
place, and enjoy the charm of her fine intelligence.
"Have you been introduced to Alice T——?" she heard one gentleman
ask of another, as she stood near a window opening into the
conservatory, and partly hidden by curtains.
"Yes," was the answer.
"She is a pleasant girl."
"By odds the most charming I have met to-night. And then she has
had the good taste to dress in a modest, womanly manner. How
beautifully she contrasts with a dozen I could name, all radiant with
colors as a bed of tulips."
She heard no more. But this was enough.
"You had a pleasant evening judging from your face," said aunt
Helen, when she meet her niece on the next morning.
"Yes; it was a very pleasant one—very pleasant." Her color
deepened and her eyes grew brighter.
"You were not neglected on account of you attractive style of
"Judging from the attentions I received, it must have been very
attractive. A novelty, perhaps. You understand human nature better
than I do, aunt Helen."
"Was it the plainest in the room?"
"It was plainer than that of half a dozen ladies old enough to have
The aunt smiled.
"Then it has not hurt your prospects?"
The question was in jest; but aunt Helen saw instantly into the
heart of her niece. For a moment their eyes lingered in each other;
then Alice looked down upon the floor.
"No it has not hurt my prospects." The answer was in a softer
voice, and then followed a long-drawn inspiration, succeeded by the
faintest of sighs.
A visit from Mr. Benton, on the next evening, removed all doubt
from the dress question, if any remained.
XIII. COFFEE vs. BRANDY.
"WE shall have to give them a wedding party," said Mrs. Eldridge to
Mr. Eldridge assented.
"They will be home to-morrow, and I think of sending out of
invitations for Thursday."
"As you like about that," replied Mr. Eldridge. "The trouble will
"You have no objections?"
"O, none in the world. Fanny is a good little girl, and the least
we can do is to pay her this compliment on her marriage. I am not
altogether satisfied about her husband, however; he was rather a wild
sort of a boy a year or two ago."
"I guess he's all right now," remarked Mrs. Eldridge; "and he
strikes me as a very kind-hearted, well-meaning young man. I have
flattered myself that Fanny has done quite well as the average run of
"Perhaps so," said Mr. Eldridge, a little thoughtfully.
"Will you be in the neighborhood of Snyder's?" inquired the lady.
"I think not. We are very busy just now, and I shall hardly have
time to leave the store to-day. But I can step around there
"To-morrow, or even the next day, will answer," replied Mrs.
Eldridge. "You must order the liquors. I will attend to everything
"How many are you going to invite?" inquired Mr. Eldridge.
"I have not made out a list yet, but it will not fall much short of
seventy or eighty."
"Seventy or eighty!" repeated Mr. Eldridge.
"Let me see. Three dozen of champagne; a dozen of sherry; a dozen
of port; a dozen of hock, and a gallon of brandy,—that will be enough
to put life into them I imagine."
"Or death!" Mrs. Eldridge spoke to herself, in an undertone.
Her husband, if he noticed the remark, did not reply to it, but
said, "Good morning," and left the house. A lad about sixteen years
of age sat in the room during this conversation, with a book in his
hand and his eyes on the page before him. He did not once look up or
move; and an observer would have supposed him so much interested in
his book as not to have heard the passing conversation. But he had
listened to every word. As soon as Mr. Eldridge left the room his
book fell upon his lap, and looking towards Mrs. Eldridge, he said,
in an earnest but respectful manner,—
"Don't have any liquor, mother."
Mrs s Eldridge looked neither offended nor irritated by this
remonstrance, as she replied,—
"I wish it were possible to avoid having liquor, my son; but it is
the custom of society and if we give a party it must be in the way it
is done by other people."
This did not satisfy the boy, who had been for some time associated
with the Cadets of Temperance, and he answered, but with modesty and
great respect of, manner,—"If other people do wrong, mother—what
"I am not so sure of its being wrong, Henry."
"O, but mother," spoke out the boy, quickly, "if it hurts people to
drink, it must be wrong to give them liquor. Now I've been thinking
how much better it would be to have a nice cup of coffee. I am sure
that four out of five would like it a great deal better than wine or
brandy. And nobody could possibly receive any harm. Didn't you hear
what father said about Mr. Lewis? That he had been rather wild? I am
sure I shall never forget seeing him stagger in the street once. I
suppose he has reformed. But just think, if the taste should be
revived again and at our house, and he should become intoxicated at
this wedding party! O, mother! It makes me feel dreadfully to think
about it. And dear Cousin Fanny! What sorrow it would bring to her!"
"O, dear, Henry! Don't talk in that kind of a way! You make me
shudder all over. You're getting too much carried away by this
subject of temperance"
And Mrs. Eldridge left the room to look after her domestic duties.
But she could not push from her mind certain uneasy thoughts which
her son's suggestions had awakened. During the morning an intimate
lady friend came in to whom Mrs. Eldridge spoke of the intended
"And would you believe it," she said, "that old-fashioned boy of
mine actually proposed that we should have coffee instead of wine and
"And you're going to adopt the suggestion," replied the lady, her
face lighten up with a pleasant smile.
"It would suit my own views exactly; but then such an innovation
upon a common usage as that; is not to be thought of for a moment."
"And why not?" asked the lady. "Coffee is safe, while wine and
brandy are always dangerous in promiscuous companies. You can never
tell in what morbid appetite you may excite an unhealthy craving. You
may receive into your house a young man with intellect clear, and
moral purposes well-balanced, and send him home at midnight, to his
mother, stupid from intoxication! Take your son's advice, my friend.
Exclude the wine and brandy, and give a pleasant cup of coffee to your
"O, dear, no, I can't do that!" said Mrs. Eldridge. "It would look
as if we were too mean to furnish wines and brandy. Besides, my
husband would never consent to it."
"Let me give you a little experience of my own. It may help you to
a right decision in this case."
The lady spoke with some earnestness, and a sober cast of thought
in her countenance. "It is now about three years since I gave a large
party, at which a number of young men were present,—boys I should
rather say. Among these was the son of an old and very dear friend.
He was in his nineteenth year,—a handsome, intelligent, and most
agreeable person—full of life and pleasant humor. At supper time I
noticed him with a glass of champagne in his hand, gayly talking with
some ladies. In a little while after, my eyes happening to rest on
him, I saw him holding, a glass of port wine to his lips, which was
emptied at a single draught. Again passing near him, in order to speak
to a lady, I observed a tumbler in his hand, and knew the contents to
be brandy and water. This caused me to feel some concern, and I kept
him, in closer observation. In a little while he was at the table
again, pouring out another glass of wine. I thought it might be for a
lady upon whom he was in attendance; but no, the sparkling liquor
touched his own lips. When the company returned to the parlors, the
flushed face, swimming eyes, and over-hilarious manner of my young
friend, showed too plainly that he had been drinking to excess. He was
so much excited as to attract the attention of every one, and his
condition became the subject of remark. He was mortified and
distressed at the occurrence, and drawing him from the room, made free
to tell him the truth. He showed some indignation at first, and
intimated that I had insulted him but I rebuked him sternly, and told
him he had better go home. I was too much excited to act very wisely.
He took me at my word, and left the house. There was no sleep for my
eyes on that night, Mrs. Eldridge. The image of that boy going home to
his mother at midnight, in such a condition, and made so by my hand
haunted me like a rebuking spectre; and I resolved never again to set
out a table with liquors to a promiscuous company of young and old,
and I have kept that word of promise. My husband is not willing to
have a party unless there is wine with the refreshments, and I would
rather forego all entertainments than put temptation in the way of any
one. Your son's suggestion is admirable. Have the independence to act
upon it, and set an example which many will be glad to follow. Don't
fear criticism or remark; don't stop to ask what this one will say or
that one think. The approval of our own consciences is worth far more
than the opinions of men. Is it right? That is the question to ask;
not How will it appear? or What will people say? There will be a
number of parties given to your niece, without doubt; and if you, lead
off with coffee instead of wine, all the rest of Fanny's friends may
follow the good example."
When Mr. Eldridge came home at dinner-time, his wife said to him,—
"You needn't order any liquors from Snyder."
"Why not?" Mr. Eldridge looked at his wife with some surprise.
"I'm going to have coffee, instead of wine, and brandy," said Mrs.
Eldridge, speaking firmly.
"Nonsense!" You're jesting."
"No, I'm in earnest. These liquors are not only expensive, but
dangerous things to offer freely in mixed companies. Many boys get
their first taste for drink at fashionable parties, and many reformed
men have the old fiery thirst revived by a glass of wine poured out
for them in social hospitality. I am afraid to have my conscience
burdened with the responsibility which this involves."
"There is no question as to the injury that is done by this free
pouring out of liquors at our fashionable entertainments. I've long
enough seen that," said Mr. Eldridge; "but she will be a bold lady
who ventures to offer a cup of coffee in place of a glass of wine.
You had better think twice on this subject before you act once."
"I've done little else I but think about it for the last two hours,
and the more I think about it the more settled my purpose becomes."
"But what put this thing into your head?" inquired Mr. Eldridge.
"You were in full sail for party this morning, liquor and all; this
sudden tacking for a new course is a little surprising. I'm puzzled."
"Your son put it into my head," replied Mrs. Eldridge.
"Henry? Well, that boy does beat all!" Mr. Eldridge did not speak
with disapprobation, but with a tone of pleasure in his voice. "And
so he proposed that we should have coffee instead of wine and
"Bravo for Henry! I like that. But what will people say, my dear? I
don't want to become a laughing stock."
"I'd rather have other people laugh at me for doing right," said
Mrs. Eldridge, "than to have my conscience blame me for doing wrong."
"Must we give the party?" asked Mr. Eldridge, who did not feel much
inclined to brave public opinion.
"I don't see that we can well avoid doing so. Parties will be
given, and as Fanny is our niece, it will look like a slight towards
her if we hold back. No, she must have a party; and as I am resolved
to exclude liquor, we must come in first. Who knows but all the rest
may follow our example."
"Don't flatter yourself on any such result. We shall stand alone,
you may depend upon it."
The evening of the party came and a large company assembled at the
house of Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge. At eleven o'clock they passed to the
supper-room. On this time the thoughts of the host and hostess had
passed, ever and anon, during the whole evening, and not without many
misgivings as to the effect their entertainment would produce on the
minds of the company. Mr. Eldridge was particularly nervous on the
subject. There were several gentlemen present whom he knew to be
lovers of good wine; gentlemen at whose houses he had often been
entertained, and never without the exhilarating glass. How would they
feel? What would they think? What would they say? These questions
fairly haunted him; and he regretted, over and over again, that he had
yielded to his wife and excluded the liquors.
But there was no holding back now; the die was cast, and they must
stand to the issue. Mr. Eldridge tried to speak pleasantly to the
lady on his arm, as he ascended to the supper-room; but the words
came heavily from his tongue, for his heart was dying in him. Soon
the company were around the table, and eyes, critical in such
matters, taking hurried inventories of what it contained. Setting
aside the wine and brandy, the entertainment was of the most liberal
character, and the whole arrangement extremely elegant. At each end
of the table stood a large coffee-urn, surrounded with cups, the
meaning of which was not long a mystery to the company. After the
terrapin, oysters, salad, and their accompaniments, Mr. Eldridge said
to a lady, in a half-hesitating voice, as if he were almost ashamed to
ask the question,—
"Will you have a cup of coffee?"
"If you please," was the smiling answer. "Nothing would suit me
"Delicious!" Mr. Eldridge heard one of the gentlemen, of whom he
stood most in dread, say. "This is indeed a treat. I wouldn't give
such a cup of coffee for the best glass of wine you could bring me."
"I am glad you are pleased," Mr. Eldridge could not help remarking,
as he turned to the gentleman.
"You couldn't have pleased me better," was replied.
Soon the cups were circling through the room, and every one seemed
to enjoy the rich beverage. It was not the ghost of coffee, nor
coffee robbed of its delicate aroma; but clear, strong, fragrant, and
mellowed by the most delicious cream. Having elected to serve coffee,
Mrs. Eldridge was careful that her entertainment should not prove a
failure through any lack of excellence in this article. And it was
very far from proving a failure. The first surprise being over, one
and another began to express an opinion on the subject to the host and
"Let me thank you," said a lady, taking the hand of Mrs. Eldridge,
and speaking very warmly, "for your courage in making this innovation
upon a custom of doubtful prudence. I thank you, as a mother, who has
two sons here to-night."
She said no more, but Mrs. Eldridge understood well her whole
"You are a brave man, and I honor you," was the remark of a
gentleman to Mr. Eldridge. "There will be many, I think, to follow
your good example. I should never have had the courage to lead, but I
think I shall be brave enough to follow, when it comes my turn to
entertain my friends."
Henry was standing by his father when this was said listening with
respectful, but deeply gratified attention.
"My son, sir," said Mr. Eldridge.
The gentleman took the boy by the hand, and while he held it, the
"I must let the honor go to where it really is due. The suggestion
came from him. He is a Cadet of Temperance, and when the party was
talked of, he pleaded so earnestly for the substitution of coffee for
wine and brandy, and used such good reason for the change, that we saw
only one right course before us, and that we have adopted."
The gentleman, on hearing this, shook the lad's hand warmly, and
"Your father has reason to be proud of you, my brave boy! There is
no telling what good may grew out of this thing. Others will follow
your father's example, and hundreds of young men be saved from the
enticements of the wine cup."
With what strong throbs of pleasure did the boy's heart beat when
these words came to his ears! He had scarcely hoped for success when
he pleaded briefly, but earnestly, with his mother. Yet he felt that
he must speak, for to his mind, what she proposed doing was a great
evil. Since it had been resolved to banish liquor from the
entertainment, he had heard his father and mother speak several times
doubtfully as to the result; and more than once his father expressed
result that any such "foolish" attempt to run in the face of people's
prejudices had been thought of. Naturally, he had felt anxious about
the result; but now that the affair had gone off so triumphantly, his
heart was outgushing with pleasure.
The result was as had been predicted. Four parties were given to
the bride, and in each case the good example of Mrs. Eldridge was
followed. Coffee took the place of wine and brandy, and it was the
remark of nearly all, that there had been no pleasant parties during
So much for what a boy may do, by only a few right words spoken at
the right time, and in the right manner. Henry Eldridge was
thoughtful, modest, and earnest-minded. His attachment to the cause
of temperance was not a mere boyish enthusiasm, but the result of a
conviction that intemperance was a vice destructive, to both soul and
body, and one that lay like a curse and a plague-spot on society, He
could understand how, if the boys rejected, entirely, the cup of
confusion, the next, generation of men would be sober; and this had
led him to join the Cadets, and do all in his power to get other lads
to join also. In drawing other lads into the order, he had been very
successful; and now, in a few respectfully uttered, but earnest words,
he had checked the progress of intemperance in a circle far beyond the
ordinary reach of his influence.
Henry Eldridge was a happy boy that night.
XIV. AMY'S QUESTION.
Mrs. Grove called from the door that opened towards the garden. But
no answer came. The sun had set half an hour before, and his parting,
rays, were faintly tinging with gold and purple few clouds that lay
just alone the edge of the western sky. In the east, the full moon was
rising in all her beauty, making pale the stars that were sparking in
"Where is Amy?" she asked. "Has any one seen her come in?"
"I saw her go up stairs with her knitting in her hand half an hour
ago," said Amy's brother, who was busily at work with his knife on a
block of pine wood, trying to make a boat.
Mrs. Grove went to the foot of the stairs, and called again. But
there was no reply.
"I wonder where the child can be," she said to herself, a slight
feeling of anxiety crossing her mind. So she went up stairs to looks
for her. The door of Amy's bedroom was shut, but on pushing it open
Mrs. Grove saw her little girl sitting at the open window, so lost in
the beauty of the moonlit sky and her own thoughts that she did not
hear the noise of her mother's entrance.
"Amy," said Mrs. Grove.
The child started, and then said quickly,—
"O, mother! Come and see! Isn't it lovely?"
"What are you looking at, dear?" asked Mrs. Grove, as she sat down
by her side, and drew an arm around her.
"At the moon, and stars, and the lake away off by the hill. See
what a great road of light lies across the water! Isn't it beautiful,
mother? And it makes me feel so quiet and happy. I wonder why it is?"
"Shall I tell you the reason?"
"O, yes, mother, dear! What is the reason?"
"God made everything that is good and beautiful."
"O, yes, I know that!"
"Good and beautiful for the sake of man; because man is the highest
thing of creation and nearest to God. All things below him were
created for his good; that is, God made them for him to use in
sustaining the life of his body or the life of his soul."
"I don't see what use I can make of the moon and stars," said Amy.
"And yet," answered her mother, "you said only a minute ago that
the beauty of this moon-light evening made you feel so quiet and
"O, yes! That is so; and you were going to tell me why it was."
"First," said the mother, "let me, remind you that the moon and
stars give us light by night, and that, if you happened to be away at
a neighbor's after the sun went down, they would be of great use in
showing you the path home-ward."
"I didn't think of that when I spoke of not seeing what use I could
make, of the moon and stars," Amy replied.
Her mother went on,—
"God made everything that is good and beautiful for the stake of
man, as I have just told you; and each of these good and beautiful
things of creation comes to us with a double blessing,—one for our
bodies and the other for our souls. The moon and stars not only give
light this evening to make dark ways plain, but their calm presence
fills our souls with peace. And they do so, because all things of
nature being the work of God, have in them a likeness of something in
himself not seen by our eyes, but felt in our souls. Do you understand
anything of what I mean, Amy?"
"Just a little, only," answered the child. "Do you mean, mother
dear, that God is inside of the moon and stars, and everything else
that he has made?"
"Not exactly what I mean; but that he has so made them, that each
created thin is as a mirror in which our souls may see something of
his love and his wisdom reflected. In the water we see an image of
his truth, that, if learned, will satisfy our thirsty minds and
cleanse us from impurity. In the sun we see an image of his love,
that gives light, and warmth, and all beauty and health to our
"And what in the moon?" asked Amy.
"The moon is cold and calm, not warm and brilliant like the sun,
which tells us of God's love. Like truths learned, but not made warm
and bright by love, it shows us the way in times of darkness. But you
are too young to understand much about this. Only keep in your memory
that every good and beautiful thing you see, being made by God,
reflects something of his nature and quality to your soul and that
this is why the lovely, the grand, the beautiful, the pure, and sweet
things of nature fill your heart with peace or delight when you gaze
For a little while after this they sat looking out of the window,
both feeling very peaceful in the presence of God and his works. Then
voice was heard below, and Amy, starting up, exclaimed,—
"O, there is father!" and taking her mother's hand, went down to
XV. AN ANGEL IN DISGUISE.
IDLENESS, vice, and intemperance had done their miserable work, and
the dead mother lay cold and still amid her wretched children. She
had fallen upon the threshold of her own door in a drunken fit, and
died in the presence of her frightened little ones.
Death touches the spring of our common humanity. This woman had
been despised, scoffed at, and angrily denounced by nearly every man,
woman, and child in the village; but now, as the fact of, her death
was passed from lip to lip, in subdued tones, pity took the place of
anger, and sorrow of denunciation. Neighbors went hastily to the old
tumble-down hut, in which she had secured little more than a place of
shelter from summer heats and winter cold: some with grave-clothes for
a decent interment of the body; and some with food for the
half-starving children, three in number. Of these, John, the oldest, a
boy of twelve, was a stout lad, able to earn his living with any
farmer. Kate, between ten and eleven, was bright, active girl, out of
whom something clever might be made, if in good hands; but poor little
Maggie, the youngest, was hopelessly diseased. Two years before a fall
from a window had injured her spine, and she had not been able to
leave her bed since, except when lifted in the arms of her mother.
"What is to be done with the children?" That was the chief question
now. The dead mother would go underground, and be forever beyond all
care or concern of the villagers. But the children must not be left
to starve. After considering the matter, and talking it over with his
wife, farmer Jones said that he would take John, and do well by him,
now that his mother was out of the way; and Mrs. Ellis, who had been
looking out for a bound girl, concluded that it would be charitable in
her to make choice of Katy, even though she was too young to be of
much use for several years.
"I could do much better, I know," said Mrs. Ellis; "but as no one
seems inclined to take her, I must act from a sense of duty expect to
have trouble with the child; for she's an undisciplined thing—used to
having her own way."
But no one said "I'll take Maggie." Pitying glances were cast on
her wan and wasted form and thoughts were troubled on her account.
Mothers brought cast-off garments and, removing her soiled and ragged
clothes, dressed her in clean attire. The sad eyes and patient face of
the little one touched many hearts, and even knocked at them for
entrance. But none opened to take her in. Who wanted a bed-ridden
"Take her to the poorhouse," said a rough man, of whom the question
"What's to be done with Maggie?" was asked. "Nobody's going to be
bothered with her."
"The poorhouse is a sad place for a sick and helpless child,"
"For your child or mine," said the other, lightly speaking; "but
for tis brat it will prove a blessed change, she will be kept clean,
have healthy food, and be doctored, which is more than can be said of
her past condition."
There was reason in that, but still it didn't satisfy. The day
following the day of death was made the day of burial. A few
neighbors were at the miserable hovel, but none followed dead cart as
it bore the unhonored remains to its pauper grave. Farmer Jones, after
the coffin was taken out, placed John in his wagon and drove away,
satisfied that he had done his part. Mrs. Ellis spoke to Kate with a
hurried air, "Bid your sister good by," and drew the tearful children
apart ere scarcely their lips had touched in a sobbing farewell.
Hastily others went out, some glancing at Maggie, and some resolutely
refraining from a look, until all had gone. She was alone! Just beyond
the threshold Joe Thompson, the wheelwright, paused, and said to the
blacksmith's wife, who was hastening off with the rest,—
"It's a cruel thing to leave her so."
"Then take her to the poorhouse: she'll have to go there," answered
the blacksmith's wife, springing away, and leaving Joe behind.
For a little while the man stood with a puzzled air; then he turned
back, and went into the hovel again. Maggie with painful effort, had
raised herself to an upright position and was sitting on the bed,
straining her eyes upon the door out of which all had just departed,
A vague terror had come into her thin white face.
"O, Mr. Thompson!" she cried out, catching her suspended breath,
"don't leave me here all alone!"
Though rough in exterior, Joe Thompson, the wheelwright, had a
heart, and it was very tender in some places. He liked children, and
was pleased to have them come to his shop, where sleds and wagons
were made or mended for the village lads without a draft on their
"No, dear," he answered, in a kind voice, going to the bed, and
stooping down over the child, "You sha'n't be left here alone." Then
he wrapped her with the gentleness almost of a woman, in the clean
bedclothes which some neighbor had brought; and, lifting her in his
strong arms, bore her out into the air and across the field that lay
between the hovel and his home.
Now, Joe Thompson's wife, who happened to be childless, was not a
woman of saintly temper, nor much given to self-denial for others'
good, and Joe had well-grounded doubts touching the manner of
greeting he should receive on his arrival. Mrs. Thompson saw him
approaching from the window, and with ruffling feathers met him a few
paces from the door, as he opened the garden gate, and came in. He
bore a precious burden, and he felt it to be so. As his arms held the
sick child to his breast, a sphere of tenderness went out from her,
and penetrated his feelings. A bond had already corded itself around
them both, and love was springing into life.
"What have you there?" sharply questioned Mrs. Thompson.
Joe, felt the child start and shrink against him. He did not reply,
except by a look that was pleading and cautionary, that said, "Wait a
moment for explanations, and be gentle;" and, passing in, carried
Maggie to the small chamber on the first floor, and laid her on a
bed. Then, stepping back, he shut the door, and stood face to face
with his vinegar-tempered wife in the passage-way outside.
"You haven't brought home that sick brat!" Anger and astonishment
were in the tones of Mrs. Joe Thompson; her face was in a flame.
"I think women's hearts are sometimes very hard," said Joe. Usually
Joe Thompson got out of his wife's way, or kept rigidly silent and
non-combative when she fired up on any subject; it was with some
surprise, therefore, that she now encountered a firmly-set
countenance and a resolute pair of eyes.
"Women's hearts are not half so hard as men's!"
Joe saw, by a quick intuition, that his resolute bearing had
impressed his wife and he answered quickly, and with real
indignation, "Be that as it may, every woman at the funeral turned
her eyes steadily from the sick child's face, and when the cart went
off with her dead mother, hurried away, and left her alone in that
old hut, with the sun not an hour in the sky."
"Where were John and Kate?" asked Mrs. Thompson.
"Farmer Jones tossed John into his wagon, and drove off. Katie went
home with Mrs. Ellis; but nobody wanted the poor sick one. 'Send her
to the poorhouse,' was the cry."
"Why didn't you let her go, then. What did you bring her here for?"
"She can't walk to the poorhouse," said Joe; "somebody's arms must
carry her, and mine are strong enough for that task."
"Then why didn't you keep on? Why did you stop here?" demanded the
"Because I'm not apt to go on fools' errands. The Guardians must
first be seen, and a permit obtained."
There was no gainsaying this.
"When will you see the Guardians?" was asked, with irrepressible
"Why put it off till to-morrow? Go at once for the permit, and get
the whole thing off of your hands to-night."
"Jane," said the wheelwright, with an impressiveness of tone that
greatly subdued his wife, "I read in the Bible sometimes, and find
much said about little children. How the Savior rebuked the disciples
who would not receive them; how he took them up in his arms, and
blessed them; and how he said that 'whosoever gave them even a cup of
cold water should not go unrewarded.' Now, it is a small thing for us
to keep this poor motherless little one for a single night; to be kind
to her for a single night; to make her life comfortable for a single
The voice of the strong, rough man shook, and he turned his head
away, so that the moisture in his eyes might not be seen. Mrs.
Thompson did not answer, but a soft feeling crept into her heart.
"Look at her kindly, Jane; speak to her kindly," said Joe. "Think
of her dead mother, and the loneliness, the pain, the sorrow that must
be on all her coming life." The softness of his heart gave unwonted
eloquence to his lips.
Mrs. Thompson did not reply, but presently turned towards the
little chamber where her husband had deposited Maggie; and, pushing
open the door, went quietly in. Joe did not follow; he saw that, her
state had changed, and felt that it would be best to leave her alone
with the child. So he went to his shop, which stood near the house,
and worked until dusky evening released him from labor. A light
shining through the little chamber windows was the first object that
attracted Joe's attention on turning towards the house: it was a good
omen. The path led him by this windows and, when opposite, he could
not help pausing to look in. It was now dark enough outside to screen
him from observation. Maggie lay, a little raised on the pillow with
the lamp shining full upon her face. Mrs. Thompson was sitting by the
bed, talking to the child; but her back was towards the window, so
that her countenance was not seen. From Maggie's face, therefore, Joe
must read the character of their intercourse. He saw that her eyes
were intently fixed upon his wife; that now and then a few words came,
as if in answers from her lips; that her expression was sad and
tender; but he saw nothing of bitterness or pain. A deep-drawn breath
was followed by one of relief, as a weight lifted itself from his
On entering, Joe did not go immediately to the little chamber. His
heavy tread about the kitchen brought his wife somewhat hurriedly
from the room where she had been with Maggie. Joe thought it best not
to refer to the child, nor to manifest any concern in regard to her.
"How soon will supper be ready?" he asked.
"Right soon," answered Mrs. Thompson, beginning to bustle about.
There was no asperity in her voice.
After washing from his hands and face the dust and soil of work,
Joe left the kitchen, and went to the little bedroom. A pair of large
bright eyes looked up at him from the snowy bed; looked at him
tenderly, gratefully, pleadingly. How his heart swelled in his bosom!
With what a quicker motion came the heart-beats! Joe sat down, and
now, for the first time, examining the thin free carefully under the
lamp light, saw that it was an attractive face, and full of a childish
sweetness which suffering had not been able to obliterate.
"Your name is Maggie?" he said, as he sat down and took her soft
little hand in his.
"Yes, sir." Her voice struck a chord that quivered in a low strain
"Have you been sick long?"
"Yes, sir." What a sweet patience was in her tone!
"Has the doctor been to see you?"
"He used to come."
"But not lately?"
"Have you any pain?"
"Sometimes, but not now."
"When had you pain?"
"This morning my side ached, and my back hurt when you carried me."
"It hurts you to be lifted or moved about?"
"Your side doesn't ache now?"
"Does it ache a great deal?"
"Yes, sir; but it hasn't ached any since I've been on this soft
"The soft bed feels good."
"O, yes, sir—so good!" What a satisfaction, mingled with
gratitude, was in her voice!
"Supper is ready," said Mrs. Thompson, looking into the room a
little while afterwards.
Joe glanced from his wife's face to that of Maggie; she understood
him, and answered,—
"She can wait until we are done; then I will bring her somethings
to eat." There was an effort at indifference on the part of Mrs.
Thompson, but her husband had seen her through the window, and
understood that the coldness was assumed. Joe waited, after sitting
down to the table, for his wife to introduce the subject uppermost in
both of their thoughts; but she kept silent on that theme, for many
minutes, and he maintained a like reserve. At last she said,
"What are you going to do with that child?"
"I thought you understood me that she was to go to the poorhouse,"
replied Joe, as if surprised at her question.
Mrs. Thompson looked rather strangely at her husband for sonic
moments, and then dropped her eyes. The subject was not again
referred to during the meal. At its close, Mrs. Thompson toasted a
slice of bread, and softened, it with milk and butter; adding to this
a cup of tea, she took them into Maggie, and held the small waiter, on
which she had placed them, while the hungry child ate with every sign
"Is it good?" asked Mrs. Thompson, seeing with what a keen relish
the food was taken.
The child paused with the cup in her hand, and answered with a look
of gratitude that awoke to new life old human feelings which had been
slumbering in her heart for half a score of years.
"We'll keep her a day or two longer; she is so weak and helpless,"
said Mrs. Joe Thompson, in answer to her husband's remark, at
breakfast-time on the next morning, that he must step down and see
the Guardians of the Poor about Maggie.
"She'll be so much in your way," said Joe.
"I sha'n't mind that for a day or two. Poor thing!"
Joe did not see the Guardians of the Poor on that day, on the next,
nor on the day following. In fact, he never saw them at all on
Maggie's account, for in less than a week Mrs. Joe Thompson would as
soon leave thought of taking up her own abode in the almshouse as
sending Maggie there.
What light and blessing did that sick and helpless child bring to
the home of Joe Thompson, the poor wheelwright! It had been dark, and
cold, and miserable there for a long time just because his wife had
nothing to love and care for out of herself, and so became soar,
irritable, ill-tempered, and self-afflicting in the desolation of her
woman's nature. Now the sweetness of that sick child, looking ever to
her in love, patience, and gratitude, was as honey to her soul, and
she carried her in her heart as well as in her arms, a precious
burden. As for Joe Thompson, there was not a man in all the
neighborhood who drank daily of a more precious wine of life than he.
An angel had come into his house, disguised as a sick, helpless, and
miserable child, and filled all its dreary chambers with the sunshine
XVI. WHICH WAS MOST THE LADY?
"DID you ever see such a queer looking figure?" exclaimed a young
lady, speaking loud enough to be heard by the object of her remark.
She was riding slowly along in an open carriage, a short distance
from the city, accompanied by a relative. The young man, her
companion, looked across the, road at a woman, whose attire was
certainly not in any way very near approach to the fashion of the
day. She had on a faded calico dress, short in the waist; stout
leather shoes; the remains of what had once been a red merino long
shawl, and a dingy old Leghorn bonnet of the style of eighteen
hundred and twenty.
As the young man turned to look at the woman, the latter raised her
eyes and fixed them steadily upon the young lady who had so rudely
directed towards her the attention of her companion. Her face, was
not old nor faded, as the dress she wore. It was youthful, but plain
almost to homeliness; and the smallness of her eyes, which were close
together and placed at the Mongolian angle, gave to her countenance a
"How do you do, aunty?" said the young man gently drawing on the
rein of his horse so as still further to diminish his speed.
The face of the young girl—for she was quite young—reddened, and
she slackened her steps so as to fall behind the rude, unfeeling
couple, who sought to make themselves merry at her expense.
"She is gypsy!" said the young lady, laughing.
"Gran'mother! How are catnip and hoarhound, snakeroot and tansy,
selling to-day? What's the state of the herb market?" joined the
young man with increasing rudeness.
"That bonnet's from the ark—ha! ha!"
"And was worn by the wife of Shem, Ham or Japheth. Ha! now I've got
it! This is the great, great, great granddaughter of Noah. What a
discovery! Where's Barnum? Here's a chance for another fortune!"
The poor girl made no answer to this cruel and cowardly assault,
but turned her face away, and stood still, in order to let the
carriage pass on.
"You look like a gentleman and a lady," said a man whom was riding
by, and happened to overhear some of their last remarks; "and no
doubt regard yourselves as such. But your conduct is anything but
gentlemanly and lady-like; and if I had the pleasure of knowing your
friends, I would advise them to keep you in until you had sense and
decency enough not to disgrace yourselves and them!"
A fiery spot burned instantly on the young man's face, and fierce
anger shot from his eyes. But the one who had spoken so sharply fixed
upon him a look of withering contempt, and riding close up to the
carriage, handed him his card, remarking coldly, as he did so,—
"I shall be pleased to meet you again, sir. May I ask your card in
The young man thrust his hand indignantly into his pocket, and
fumbled there for some moments, but without finding a card.
"No matter," said he, trying to speak fiercely; "you will hear from
me in good time."
"And you from me on the spot, if I should happen to catch you at
such mean and cowardly work as you were just now engaged in," said
the stranger, no seeking to veil his contempt.
"The vulgar brute! O, he's horrid!" ejaculated the young lady as
her rather crestfallen companion laid the whip upon his horse and
dashed ahead. "How he frightened me!"
"Some greasy butcher or two-fisted blacksmith," said the elegant
young man with contempt. "But," he added boastfully, "I'll teach him
Out into the beautiful country, with feeling a little less buoyant
than when they started, rode our gay young couple. As the excitement
of passion died away both feel a little uncomfortable in mind, for
certain unpleasant convictions intruded themselves, and certain
precepts in the code of polite usage grew rather distinct in their
memories. They had been thoughtless, to say the least of it.
"But the girl looked so queer!" said the young lady. "I couldn't
help laughing to save my life. Where on earth did she come from?"
Not very keen was their enjoyment of the afternoon's ride, although
the day was particularly fine, and their way was amid some bits of
charming scenery. After going out into the country some five or six
miles, the horse's head was turned, and they took their way homeward.
Wishing to avoid the Monotony of a drive along the same road the young
man struck across the country in order to reach another avenue leading
into the city, but missed his way and bewildered in a maze of winding
country roads. While descending a steep hill, in a very secluded
place, a wheel came off, and both were thrown from the carriage. The
young man received only a slight bruise, but the girl was more
seriously injured. Her head had struck against a stone with so strong
a concussion as to render her insensible.
Eagerly glancing around for aid, the young man saw, at no great
distance from the road, a poor looking log tenement, from the mud
chimney of which curled a thin column of smoke, giving signs of
inhabitants. To call aloud was his first impulse, and he raised his
voice with the cry of "Help!"
Scarcely had the sound died away, ere he saw the door of the cabin
flung open, and a woman and boy looked eagerly around.
"Help!" he cried again, and the sound of his voice directed their
eyes towards him. Even in his distress, alarm, and bewilderment, the
young man recognized instantly in the woman the person they had so
wantonly insulted only an hour or two before. As soon as she saw
them, she ran forward hastily, and seeing the white face of the
insensible girl, exclaimed, with pity and concern,—
"O, sir! is she badly hurt?"
There was heart in that voice of peculiar sweetness.
"Poor lady!" she said, tenderly, as she untied the bonnet strings
with gentle care, and placed her hand upon the clammy temples.
"Shall I help you to take her over to the house?" she added,
drawing an arm beneath the form of the insensible girl.
"Thank you!" There was a tone of respect in the young man's voice.
"But I can carry her myself;" and he raised the insensible form in
his arms, and, following the young stranger, bore it into her humble
dwelling. As he laid her upon a bed, he asked, eagerly,—
"Is there a doctor near?"
"Yes, sir," replied the girl. "If you will come to the door, I will
show you the doctor's house; and I think he must be at home, for I
saw him go by only a quarter of an hour since. John will take care of
your horse while you are away, and I will do my best for the poor
The doctor's house, about a quarter of a mile distant, was pointed
out, and the young man hurried off at a rapid speed. He was gone only
a few minutes when his insensible companion revived, and, starting up,
looked wildly around her.
"Where am I? Where is George?" she asked, eagerly.
"He has gone for the doctor; but will be back very soon," said the
young woman, in a kind, soothing voice.
"For the doctor! Who's injured?" She had clasped her hands across
her forehead, and now, on removing them, saw on one a wet stain of
blood. With a frightened cry she fell backs upon the pillow from
which she had risen.
"I don't think you are much hurt," was said, in a tone of
encouragement, as with a damp cloth the gentle stranger wiped very
tenderly her forehead. "The cut is not deep. Have you pain anywhere?"
"No," was faintly answered.
"You can move your arms; so they are uninjured. And now,
won't you just step on to the floor, and see if you can bear your
weight? Let me raise you up, There, put your foot down—now the
other—now take a step—now another. There are no bones broken! How
glad I am!"
How earnest, how gentle, how pleased she was. There was no acting
in her manner. Every tone, expression, and gesture showed that heart
was in everything.
"O, I am glad!" she repeated. "It might have been so much worse."
The first glance into the young girl's face was one of
identification; and even amid the terror that oppressed her heart,
the unwilling visitor felt a sense of painful mortification. There
was no mistaking that peculiar countenance. But how different she
seemed! Her voice was singularly sweet, her manner gentle and full of
kindness, and in her movements and attitude a certain ease that marked
her as one not to be classed, even by the over-refined young lady who
was so suddenly brought within her power, among the common herd.
All that assiduous care and kind attention could do for the unhappy
girl, until the doctor's arrival, was done. After getting back to the
bed from which she bad been induced to rise, in order to see if all
her limbs were sound, she grew sick and faint, and remained so until
the physician came. He gave it as his opinion that she had received
some internal injuries, and that it would not be safe to attempt her
The young couple looked at each other with dismay pictured in their
"I wish it were in my power to make you more comfortable," said the
kind-hearted girl, in whose humble abode they were. "What we have is
at your service in welcome, and all that it is in my power to do
shall be done for you cheerfully. If father was only at home—but
that can't be helped."
The young man dazed upon her in wonder and shame—wonder at the
charm that now appeared in her singularly marked countenance, and
shame for the disgraceful and cowardly cruelty with which he had a
little while before so wantonly assailed her.
The doctor was positive about the matter, and so there was no
alternative. After seeing his unhappy relative in as comfortable a
condition as possible, the young man, with the doctor's aid, repaired
his crippled vehicle by the restoration of a linchpin, and started for
the city to bear intelligence of the sad accident, and bring out the
mother of the injured girl.
Alone with the person towards whom she had only a short time before
acted in such shameless violation of womanly kindness and lady-like
propriety, our "nice young lady" did not feel more comfortable in
mind than body. Every look—every word—every tone—every act of the
kind-hearted girl—was a rebuke. The delicacy of her attentions, and
the absence of everything like a desire to refund her of the recent
unpleasant incident, marked her as possessing, even if her face and
attire were plain, and her position humble, all the elements of a
Although the doctor, when he left, did not speak very
encouragingly, the vigorous system of the young girl began to react
and she grew better quite rapidly so that when her parents arrived
with the family physician, she was so much improved that it was at
once decided to take her to the city.
For an hour before her parents came she lay feigning to be in
sleep, yet observing every movement and word of her gentle attendant.
It was an hour of shame, self-reproaches, and repentance. She was not
really bad at heart; but false estimates of things, trifling
associations, and a thoughtless disregard of others, had made her far
less a lady in act than she imagined herself to be in quality. Her
parents, when they arrived, overwhelmed the young girl with
thankfulness; and the father, at parting, tried to induce her to
accept a sum of money. But the offers seemed to disturb her.
"O, no, sir!" she said, drawing back, while a glow came into her
pale face, and made it almost beautiful; "I have only done a simple
"But you are poor," he urged, glancing around. "Take this, and let
it make you more comfortable."
"We are contented with what God has given to us," she replied,
cheerfully. "For what he gives is always the best portion. No, sir; I
cannot receive money for doing only a common duty."
"Your reward is great," said the father, touched with the noble
answer, "may God bless you, my good girl! And if you will not receive
my money, accept my grateful thanks."
As the daughter parted from the strange young girl, she bent down
and kissed her hand; then looking up into her face, with tearful
eyes, she whispered for her ears alone,—
"I am punished, and you are vindicated. O, let your heart forgive
"It was God whom you offended," was whispered back. "Get his
forgiveness, and all will be right. You have mine, and also the
prayer of my heart that you may be good and wise, for only such are
The humbled girl grasped her hand tightly, and murmured, "I shall
never forget you—never!"
Nor did she. If the direct offer of her father was declined,
indirect benefits reached, through her means, the lonely log cottage,
where everything in time put on a new and pleasant aspect, wind the
surroundings of the gentle spirit that presides there were more in
agreement with her true internal quality. To the thoughtless young
couple the incidents of that day were a life-lesson that never passed
entirely from their remembrance. They obtained a glance below the
surface of things that surprised them, learning that, even in the
humblest, there may be hearts in the right places—warm with pure
feelings, and inspired by the noblest sentiments of humanity; and
that highly as they esteem themselves on account of their position,
there was one, at least, standing below them so far as external
advantages were concerned, who was their superior in all the higher
qualities that go to make up the real lady and gentleman.
XVII. OTHER PEOPLE'S EYES.
"OUR parlor carpet is beginning to look real shabby," said Mrs.
Cartwright. "I declare! if I don't feel right down ashamed of it,
every time a visitor, who is anybody, calls in to see me."
"A new one will cost—"
The husband of Mrs. Cartwright, a good-natured, compliant man, who
was never better pleased than when he could please his wife, paused
to let her finish the sentence, which she did promptly, by saying,—
"Only forty dollars. I've counted it all up. It will take
thirty-six yards. I saw a beautiful piece at Martin's—just the
thing—at one dollar a yard. Binding, and other little matters, won't
go beyond three or four dollars, and I can make it myself, you know."
"Only forty dollars! Mr. Cartwright glanced down at the carpet
which had decorated the floor of their little parlor for nearly five
years. It had a pleasant look in his eyes, for it was associated with
many pleasant memories. Only forty dollars for a new one! If the cost
were only five, instead of forty, the inclination to banish this old
friend to an out-of-the-way chamber would have been no stronger in the
mind of Mr. Cartwright. But forty dollars was an item in the
calculation, and to Mr. Cartwright a serious one. Every year he was
finding it harder to meet the gradually increasing demand upon his
purse; for there was a steadily progressive enlargement of his family,
and year after year the cost of living advanced. He was thinking of
this when his wife said,—
"You know, Henry, that cousin Sally Gray is coming here on a visit
week after next. Now I do want to put the very best face on to things
while she is here. We were married at the same time, and I hear that
her husband is getting rich. I feel a little pride about the matter,
and don't want her to think that we're growing worse off than when we
began life, and can't afford to replace this shabby old carpet by a
new one." No further argument was needed. Mr. Cartwright had sixty
dollars in one of the bureau drawers,—a fact well known to his wife.
And it was also well known to her that it was the accumulation of very
careful savings, designed, when the sum reached one hundred dollars,
to cancel a loan made by a friend, at a time when sickness and a death
in the family had run up their yearly expenses beyond the year's
income. Very desirous was Mr. Cartwright to pay off this loan, and he
had felt lighter in heart as those aggregate of his savings came
nearer and nearer to the sum required for that purpose.
But he had no firmness to oppose his wife in anything. Her wishes
in this instance, as in many others, he unwisely made a law. The
argument about cousin Sally Gray was irresistible. No more than his
wife did he wish to look poor in her eyes; and so, for the sake of
her eyes, a new carpet was bought, and the old one—not by any means
as worn and faded as the language of his wife indicated—sent up
stairs to do second-hand duty in the spare bedroom.
Not within the limit of forty dollars was the expense confined. A
more costly pattern than could be obtained for one dollar a yard
tempted the eyes of Mrs. Cartwright, and abstracted from her
husband's savings the sum of over fifty dollars. Mats and rugs to go
with the carpet were indispensable, to give the parlor the right
effect in the eyes of cousin Sally Gray, and the purchase of these
absorbed the remainder of Mr. Cartwright's carefully hoarded sixty
Unfortunately, for the comfortable condition of Mrs. Cartwright's
mind, the new carpet, with its flaunting colors, put wholly out of
countenance the cane-seat chairs and modest pier table, and gave to
the dull paper on the wall a duller aspect. Before, she had scarcely
noticed the hangings on the Venetian blinds, now, it seemed as if
they had lost their freshness in a day; and the places where they
were broken, and had been sewed again, were singularly apparent every
time her eye rested upon them.
"These blinds do look dreadfully!" she said to her husband, on the
day after the carpet went down. "Can you remember what they cost?"
"Eight dollars," replied Mr. Cartwright.
"So much?" The wife sighed as she spoke.
"Yes, that was the price. I remember it very well."
"I wonder what new hangings would cost?" Mrs. Cartwright's manner
grew suddenly more cheerful, as the suggestion of a cheaper way to
improve the windows came into her thought.
"Not much, I presume," answered her husband.
"Don't you think we'd better have it done?"
"Yes," was the compliant answer.
"Will you stop at the blind-maker's, as you go to the store, and
tell him to send up for them to-day? It must be attended to at once,
you know, for cousin Sally will be here on next Wednesday."
Mr. Cartwright called at the blind-maker's, as requested, and the
blind-maker promised to send for the blinds. From there he continued
onto the store in which he was employed. There he found a note on his
desk from the friend to whom he was indebted for the one hundred
"Dear Cartwright" (so the note ran), "if it is possible for you to
let me have the one hundred dollars I loaned you, its return
to-morrow will be a particular favor, as I have a large payment to
make, and have been disappointed in the receipt of a sum of money
A very sudden change of feeling did Mr. Cartwright experience. He
had, in a degree, partaken of his wife's pleasure in observing the
improved appearances of their little parlor but this pleasure was now
succeeded by a sense of painful regret and mortification. It was
nearly two hours before Mr. Cartwright returned an answer to his
friend's note. Most of that time had been spent in the vain effort to
discover some way out of the difficulty in which he found himself
placed. He would have asked an advance of one hundred dollars on his
salary, but he did not deem that a prudent step, and for two reasons.
One was, the known character of his employers; and the other was
involved in the question of how he was to support his family for the
time he was working out this advance? At last, in sadness and
humiliation, he wrote a brief reply, regretting his inability to
replace the loan now, but promising to do it in a very short time. Not
very long after this answer was sent, there came another note from his
friend, written in evident haste, and under the influence of angry
feelings. It was in these words:—
"I enclose your due bill, which I, yesterday, thought good for its
face. But, as it is worthless, I send it back. The man who buys new
carpets and new furniture, instead of paying his honest debts, can be
no friend of mine. I am sorry to have been mistaken in Henry
Twice did the unhappy man read this cutting letter; then, folding
it up slowly, be concealed it in one of his pockets. Nothing was said
about it to his wife, whose wordy admiration of the new carpet, and
morning, noon, and night, for the next two or three days, was a
continual reproof of his weakness for having yielded to her wishes in
a matter where calm judgement and a principle of right should have
prevailed. But she could not help noticing that he was less cheerful;
and once or twice he spoke to her in a way that she thought positively
ill-natured. Something was wrong with him; but what that something
was, she did not for an instant imagine.
At last the day arrived for cousin Sally Gray's visit.
Unfortunately the Venetian blinds were still at the blind-maker's,
where they were likely to remain for a week longer, as it was
discovered, on the previous afternoon, that he had never touched them
since they came into his shop. Without them the little parlor had a
terribly bare look; the strong light coming in, and contrasting
harshly the new, gaudy carpet with the old, worn, and faded furniture.
Mrs. Cartwright fairly cried with vexation.
"We must have something for the windows, Henry," she said, as she
stood, disconsolate, in the parlor, after tea. "It will never do in
the world to let cousin Sally find us in this trim."
"Cousin Sally will find a welcome in our hearts," replied her
husband, in a sober voice, "and that, I am sure, will be more
grateful to her than new carpets and window blinds."
The way in which this was spoken rather surprised Mrs. Cartwright,
and she felt just a little rebuked.
"Don't you think," she said, after a few moments of silence on both
sides, "that we might afford to buy a few yards of lace to put up to
the windows, just for decency's sake?"
"No," answered the husband, firmly. "We have afforded too much
His manner seemed to Mrs. Cartwright almost ill-natured. It hurt
her very much. Both sat down in the parlor, and both remained silent.
Mrs. Cartwright thought of the mean appearance everything in that
"best room" would have in the eyes of cousin Sally, and Mr.
Cartwright thought of his debt to his friend, and of that friend's
anger and alienation. Both felt more uncomfortable than they had been
for a long time.
On the next day cousin Sally arrived. She had not come to spy out
the nakedness of the land,—not for the purpose of making contrasts
between her own condition in life and that of Mr. Cartwright,—but
from pure love. She had always been warmly attached to her cousin;
and the years during which new life-associations had separated them
had increased rather than diminished this attachment. But the
gladness of their meeting was soon overshadowed; at least for cousin
Sally. She saw by the end of the first day's visit that her cousin
was more concerned to make a good appearance in her eyes,—to have
her understand that she and her husband were getting along bravely in
the world,—than to open her heart to her as of old, and exchange with
her a few pages in the history of their inner lives. What interest had
she in the new carpet, or the curtainless window, that seemed to be
the most prominent of all things in the mind of her relative? None
whatever! If the visit had been from Mary Cartwright to herself, she
would never have thought for an instant of making preparations for her
coming in the purchase of new furniture, or by any change in the
externals of her home. All arrangements for the reception would have
been in her heart.
Cousin Sally was disappointed. She did not find the relative, with
whom so many years of her life had been spent in sweet intercourse,
as she had hoped to find her. The girlish warmth of feelings had
given place to a cold worldliness that repelled instead of attracting
her. She had loved, and suffered much; had passed through many trials,
and entered through many opening doors into new experiences, during
the years since their ways parted. And she had come to this old, dear
friend, yearning for that heart intercourse,—that reading together of
some of the pages of their books of life,—which she felt almost as a
necessity. What interest had she for the mere externals of Mary's
life? None! None! And the constant reference thereto, by her cousin,
seemed like a desecration. Careful and troubled about the little
things of life, she found the dear old friend of her girlish days, to
whom she had come hopefully, as to one who could comprehend, as in
earlier years, the feelings, thoughts, and aspirations which had grown
stronger, deeper, and of wider range.
Alas! Alas! How was the fine gold dimmed in her eyes!
"Dear Mary!" she said to her cousin, on the morning of the day that
was, to end her visit,—they were sitting, together in the little
parlor, and Mrs. Cartwright had referred, for the fortieth time, to
the unshaded windows, and declared herself mortified to death at the
appearance of things,—"Dear Mary! It was to see you, not your
furniture, that I came. To look into your heart and feel it beating
against mine as of old; not to pry, curiously, into your ways of
living, nor to compare your house-furnishing with my own. But for
your constant reference to these things, I should not have noticed,
particularly, how your house was attired; and if asked about them,
could only have answered, 'She's living very nicely.' Forgive me for
this plain speech, dear cousin. I did not mean to give utterance to
such language; but the words are spoken now, and cannot be recalled."
Mrs. Cartwright, if not really offended, was mortified and rebuked
and these states of feeling united with pride, served to give
coldness to her exterior. She tried to be cordial in manner towards
her cousin; to seem as if she had not felt her words; but this was
impossible, for she had felt them too deeply. She saw that the
cherished friend and companion of her girlhood was disappointed in
her; that she had come to look into her heart, and not into the
attiring of her home; and was going away with diminished affection.
After years of divergence, their paths had touched; and, separating
once more, she felt that they would never run parallel again.
A few hours later, cousin Sally gave her a parting kiss. How
different in warmth to the kiss of meeting! Very sad, very
dissatisfied with herself,—very unhappy did Mrs. Cartwright feel, as
she sat musing alone after her relative had departed. She was
conscious of having lost a friend forever, because she had not risen
to the higher level to which that friend had attained—not in
external, but in the true internal life.
But a sharper mortification was in store for her. The letter of her
husband's friend, in which he had returned the due bill for one
hundred dollars, fell accidentally into her hands, and overwhelmed
her with consternation. For that new carpet, which had failed to win
more than a few extorted sentences of praise from cousin Sally Gray,
her husband had lost the esteem of one of his oldest and best
friends, and was now suffering, in silence, the most painful trial of
Poor, weak woman! Instead of the pleasure she had hoped to gain in
the possession of this carpet, it had made her completely wretched.
While sitting almost stupefied with the pressure that was on her
feelings, a neighbor called in, and she went down to the parlor to
"What a lovely carpet!" said the neighbor, in real admiration.
"Where did you buy it?"
"At Martin's," was answered.
"Had they any more of the same pattern?" inquired the neighbor.
"This was the last piece."
The neighbor was sorry. It was the most beautiful pattern she had
ever seen; and she would hunt the city over but what she would find
another just like it.
"You may have this one," said Mrs Cartwright, on the impulse of the
moment. "My husband doesn't particularly fancy it. Your parlor is
exactly the size of mine. It is all made and bound nicely as you can
see; and this work on it shall cost you nothing. We paid a little
over fifty dollars for the carpet before a stitch was taken in it;
and fifty dollars will make you the possessor."
"Are you really in earnest?" said the neighbor.
"Never more so in my life."
"It is a bargain, then."
"When can I have it?"
"Just as soon as I can rip it from the floor," said Mrs.
Cartwright, in real earnest.
"Go to work," replied the neighbor, laughing out at the novelty of
the affair. "Before your task is half done, I will be back with the
fifty dollars, and a man to carry home the carpet."
And so she was. In less than half an hour after the sale was made,
in this off-hand fashion, Mrs. Cartwright sat alone in her parlor,
looking down upon the naked floor. But she had five ten-dollar gold
pieces in her hand, and they were of more value in her eyes than
twenty carpets. Not long did she sit musing here. There was other
work to do. The old carpet must be replaced upon the parlor floor ere
her husband's return. And it was replaced. In the midst of her hurried
operations the old blinds with the new hangings came in, and were put
up to the windows. When Mr. Cartwright returned home, and stepped
inside of the little parlor, where he found his wife awaiting him, he
gave an exclamation of surprise.
"Why, Mary! What is the meaning of this? Where is the new carpet?"
She laid the five gold pieces in his hand, and then looked
earnestly, and with tears in her eyes, upon his wondering face.
"What are these, Mary? Where did they come from?"
"Cousin Sally is gone. The carpet didn't seem attractive in her
eyes, and it has lost all beauty in mine. So I sold the unlovely
thing, and here is the money. Take it, dear Henry, and let it serve
the purpose for which it was designed."
"All right again!" exclaimed Mr. Cartwright, as soon as the whole
matter was clear to him. "All right, Mary, dear! That carpet, had it
remained, would have wrecked, I fear, the happiness of our home. Ah,
let us consult only our own eyes hereafter, Mary—not the eyes of
other people! None think the better of us for what we seem—only for
what we are. It is not from fine furniture that our true pleasure in
life is to come, but from a consciousness of right-doing. Let the
inner life be right, and the outer life will surely be in just
harmony. In the humble abode of virtue there is more real happiness
than in the palace-homes of the unjust, the selfish, and wrong-doers.
The sentiment is old as the world, but it must come to every heart, at
some time in life, with all the force of an original utterance. And
let it so come to us now, dear wife!"
And thus it did come. This little experience showed them an aspect
of things that quickened their better reasons, and its smart remained
long enough to give it the power of a monitor in all their after
lives. They never erred again in this wise. For two or three years
more the old carpet did duty in their neat little parlor, and when it
was at last replaced by a new one, the change was made for their own
eyes, and not for the eyes of another.