Error by T. S. Arthur
THE story of Julia Forrester is but a revelation of what occurs
every day. I draw aside the veil for a moment, would that some one
might gaze with trembling on the picture, and be saved!
The father of Julia had served an apprenticeship to the tanning and
currying business. He had been taken when an orphan boy of twelve
years old, by a man in this trade, and raised by him, without any of
the benefits of education. At twenty-one he could read and write a
little, but had no taste for improving his mind. His master, being
well pleased with him for his industry and sobriety, offered him a
small interest in his business, shortly after he was free, which soon
enabled him to marry, and settle himself in life.
His new companion was the daughter of a reduced tradesman; she had
high notions of gentility, but possessed more vanity and love of
admiration than good sense. Neither of them could comprehend the true
relation of parents. If they fed their children well, clothed them
well, and sent them to the most reputable schools, they imagined that
they had, in part, discharged their duty; and, wholly, when they had
obtained good-looking and well-dressed husbands for their daughters.
This may be a little exaggerated; but such an inference might readily
have been drawn by one who attentively considered their actions.
I shall not spend further time in considering their characters.
Their counterpart may be found in every street, and in every
neighbourhood. The curious student of human nature can study them at
will. Julia Forrester was the child of such parents. When she was
fifteen, they were in easy circumstances. But at that critical period
of their daughter's life, they were ignorant of human nature, and
entirely unskilled in the means of detecting false pretension, or
discovering true merit.
Indeed, they were much more ready to consider the former as true,
and the latter as false. The unpretending modesty of real worth they
generally mistook for imbecility, or a consciousness of questionable
points of character; while bold-faced assurance was thought to be an
open exhibition of manliness—the free, undisguised manner of those
who had nothing to conceal.
It is rarely that a girl of Julia's age, but little over fifteen,
possesses much insight into character. It was enough for her that her
parents invited young men to the house, or permitted them to visit
her. Her favour, or dislike, was founded upon mere impulse, or the
caprice of first impressions. Among her earliest visitors, was a young
man of twenty-two, clerk in a dry-goods' store. He had an open,
prepossessing manner, but had indulged in vicious habits for many
years, and was thoroughly unprincipled. His name I will call
Warburton. Another visitor was a modest, sensible young man, also
clerk in another dry-goods' store. He was correct in all his habits,
and inclined to be religious. He had no particular end in view in
visiting at Forrester's, more than to mingle in society. Still, as he
continued his visits, he began to grow fond of Julia, notwithstanding
her extreme youth. The fact was, she had shot up suddenly into a
graceful woman; and her manners were really attractive. Little could
be gleaned, however, in her society, or in that of but few who visited
her, from the current chit-chat. It was all chaffy stuff,—mere
small-talk. Let me introduce the reader to their more particular
acquaintance. There is assembled at Mr. Forrester's a gay social
party, such as met there almost every week. It is in the summer time.
The windows are thrown open, and the passers-by can look in upon the
light-hearted group, at will. Warburton and Julia are trifling in
conversation, and the others are wasting. the moments as frivolously
as possible. We will join them without ceremony.
"A more beautiful ring than this on your finger, I have never seen.
Do you know why a ring is used in marriage?"
"La! no, Mr. Warburton. Do tell me."
"Why, because it is an emblem of love, which has neither beginning
"And how will you make that out, Sir Oracle? ha! ha!"
"Why as plain as a pike-staff. True love has no beginning; for
those who are to be married love each other before they meet. And it
cannot have an end. So you see that a ring is the emblem of love."
"That's an odd notion; where did you pick it up?"
"I picked it up nowhere. It is a cherished opinion of my own, and I
believe in it as firmly as some of the Jews of old did in the
transmigration of souls."
"You are a queer body."
"Yes, I have got some queer notions; so people say: but I
think I am right, and those who don't agree with me, wrong. A mere
difference of opinion, however. All things are matters of opinion.
Aint it so, Perkins?" addressing the young man before alluded to.
"What were you talking about?"
"Why, I was just saying to Julia that all different ideas
entertained by different persons, were differences of opinion
"Do you mean to say, that there is no such thing as truth, or
"I do—in the abstract."
"Then we differ, of course—and as it would be, according to your
estimation, a mere difference of opinion, no argument on the subject
would be in place here."
"Of course not," replied Warburton, rather coolly, and dropped the
subject. Julia almost saw that Warburton had made himself
appear foolish in the eyes of the dull, insipid Perkins—but her
mental vision was closed up as firmly as ever, in a moment.
A loud burst of laughter from a group at the other end of the room,
drew the attention of the company, who flocked to the scene of mirth,
and soon all were chattering and laughing in a wild and incoherent
manner, so loud as to attract the notice of persons in the street.
"Ha! he! he!" laughed a young lady, hysterically, sinking into a
chair, with her handkerchief to her mouth—"what a droll body!"
"He-a, he-a, he-o-o-o," more boisterously roared out a fun-loving
chap, who knew more about good living than good manners. And so the
laugh passed round. The cause of all this uproar, was a merry fellow,
who had made a rabbit out of one of the girl's handkerchiefs, and was
springing it from his hand against the wall. He seemed to have a fair
appreciation of the character of his associates for the evening; and
though himself perfectly competent to behave well in the best society,
chose to act the clown in this.
In due course, order was restored, more from the appearance of a
waiter with nuts and raisins, than from an natural reaction.
"Name my apple, Mr. Perkins,"—(don't smile, reader—it's a true
picture)—whispered a young lady to the young man sitting next her.
"It is named."
"Name my apple, Mr. Collins," said Julia, with a nod and a smile.
"It is named."
"And mine, Mr. Collins"—"And mine, Mr. Warburton"—"And mine, Mr.
The apples being eaten, the important business of counting seed
came next in order.
"How many have you got, Julia?"
"Who is it, Mr. Collins?" asked two or three voices.
"Mr. Warburton," was the reply.
"I thought so, I thought so,—see how she blushes."
And in fact the red blood was mounting fast to Julia's face.
The incident escaped neither the eye of Warburton nor of Perkins.
To go through the whole insipid scene would not interest any reader,
and so we will omit it.
After the apples were eaten, "hull-gull,"—"nuts in my hand," were
played, and then music was called for
"Miss Simmons, give us an air, if you please."
"Indeed you must excuse me, I am out of practice."
"No excuse can be taken. We all know that you can play, and we must
hear you this evening."
"I would willingly oblige the company, but I have not touched the
piano for two months, and cannot play fit to be heard."
"O, never mind, we'll be the judges of that."
"Come, Miss Simmons, do play for us now, that's a good soul!"
"Indeed you must excuse me!"
But no excuse would be taken. And in spite of protestations, she
was forced to take a seat at the piano.
"Well, since I must, I suppose I must. What will you have."
"Give us 'Bonny Doon'—it is so sweet and melancholy," said an
interesting-looking young man.
"'Charlie over the Water,' is beautiful—I dote on that pong; do
sing it, Miss Simmons!"
"Give us Auld Lang Syne.'"
"Yes, or Burns's Farewell.'"
"'Oft in the Stilly Night,' Miss Simmons—you can sing that."
"Yes, 'Oft in the Stilly Night,'—Miss Simmons," said half-a-dozen
voices, and so that was finally chosen. After running her fingers
over the keys for a few moments, Miss Simmons started off.
Before she had half finished the first verse, the hum of voices,
which had commenced as soon as she began to sing, rose to such a
pitch as almost to drown the sound of the instrument. She laboured on
through about a verse and a half of the song, when she rose from the
piano, and was proceeding to her vacant seat.
"O no!—no!—no!" said half-a-dozen voices at once.
"That will never do-we must have another song."
"Indeed I can't sing to-night, and must be excused," said
the lady warmly, and so she was excused. But soon another was
chosen to be victimized at the piano, and "will-ye-nill-ye," sing she
must. Simultaneous with the sound of the instrument rose the hum of
voices, which grew louder and louder, until the performer stopped,
discouraged and chagrined.
"That's beautiful! How well you play, Miss Emma!" and Miss Emma was
forced to resume the seat she had left half in mortification. All was
again still for a moment.
"Can you play the 'Harp and Lute,' Miss Emma?"
"Yes you can, though, for I've heard you many a time," said a smart
young lady sitting on the opposite side of the room.
The blood mounted to the performer's cheeks. "Indeed you're
mistaken though," half pettishly replied Miss Emma.
"But you can play 'Yankee Doodle,'" retorted the first
speaker. Miss Emma left the instrument in anger.
"I'll never speak to the pert minx again as long as I live,"
whispered Miss Emma in the ear of a friend.
Thus ended the musical exhibition for that evening. As the spirit
of wine grew more active, the men became less formal in their
attentions, and the young ladies less reserved. Before the company
broke up, I almost blush to say, that there was scarcely a lady
present who had not suffered her red-ripe lips to be touched by those
of every young man in the room. And on all these proceedings, the
parents of Julia looked on with keen satisfaction! They liked to see
the young people enjoying themselves!
Then there were rambles by moonlight, during which soft things were
whispered in the ears of the young ladies. These were the occasions
on which Warburton loved most to steal away the fond confidence of
Julia; and, by degrees, he succeeded in fixing her regard upon
himself. Consent was asked of the parents, and given; and soon Julia
Forrester was Mrs. Warburton. It was only six months after the
marriage that a commercial crisis arrived; one of those reactions
from prosperity which occur in this country with singular regularity,
every ten or fifteen years, and swept from Julia's father the whole of
his property. This sudden revulsion so preyed upon his mind, that a
serious illness came on, which hurried him in a brief period to the
grave. The mother of Julia soon followed him. Warburton, ere this, had
neglected his wife, and wrung from her many a secret tear. He had
married her for the prospect of worldly gain which the connection held
out, and not from any genuine regard. And when all hope of a fortune
was suddenly cut off, he as suddenly appeared in his real character of
a heartless and unprincipled man.
He held the situation of clerk, at the time, in the same store
where he had been for years. But immediately upon the death of his
father-in-law, a flood of demands for debts due here and there came
in upon him, and not having where with to meet them, he was thrown
into jail, and obtained his freedom only by availing himself of the
law made and provided for the benefit of Insolvent Debtors.
His poor wife knew nothing of the proceedings against him, until he
was lodged in the jail. Hour after hour had passed since the time for
his return to dinner, and yet she listened in vain for his well-known
footsteps. She felt strangely oppressed in feeling when the dim
twilight came stealing sadly on, and still he came not home. But when
the clock struck nine, ten, eleven,—her distress of mind became
heightened to agony. The question, so often asked of herself, "Where
can he be?" could find no answer. All night long she sat listening
at the window, and sunk into a heavy slumber, just as the grey light
of morning stole into the window and paled the expiring lamp. From
this slumber, which had continued for nearly two hours, she was
aroused by the entrance of a servant, who handed her a note, addressed
in the well-known hand of her husband. Tremblingly she tore open the
seal; at the first words:
the note fell from her hand, and she pressed her aching head for a
moment, as if she feared that her senses would leave her. Then
snatching up the paper, she read:—
"Yesterday I was sent here for debt. I owe more than I can possibly
pay, and I see no chance of getting out but by availing myself of the
Insolvent Law, which I am determined to do. Don't let it trouble you,
Julia; I shall not be here long. To-morrow I shall probably be at
liberty. Good-bye, and keep a brave heart,
For some time after reading this letter, a stupor came over her
senses. Utterly unprepared for such a distressing event, she knew not
how to act. The idea of a jail had ever been associated in her mind
with disgrace and crime, and to think that her own husband was in jail
almost bereft her of rational thought. Slowly, however, she at length
rallied, and found herself able to appreciate her situation, and to
think more clearly on her course of action.
Her first determination was to go to her husband. This she
immediately did. When admitted, she fell senseless in his arms, and
it was a long time before she recovered her consciousness. Her
presence seemed to move his feelings less than it annoyed him. There
was nothing about his manner that sought affectionately her sympathy
and confidence—that which gives woman, in situations no matter how
distressing, something so much like happiness to bestow. He gave her
but little satisfaction as to the manner in which he became involved,
and when, after several hours, she prepared to go home, at his
suggestion, he told her that she must not come there again, as it was
not a fit place for her.
"If you are here, Henry," was her reply, the tears starting freshly
to her eyes—"it is a fit place for me."
"That's all nonsense and sentiment, Julia! This is no place for
you, and you must not come again. I shall be out in a day or two."
"A day or two is a long—long time,"—and the poor wife's voice
trembled as she spoke.
"It will soon pass away."
"It will seem ages to me, and you in this dreadful place. I must
come tomorrow, Henry. Tell me who has imprisoned you, and I will go
to him, and come to-morrow with his answer. He cannot stand the
pleadings of a wife for her husband."
"It's no use, at all, Julia. He is a hard-faced villain, and will
insult you if you see him."
"He cannot—he dare not!"
"He dare do anything."
"Dear Henry, tell me his name."
"No!—no!—no!—It's no use to ask me."
She had many times before suffered from his petulance and coldness;
but under present circumstances, when she sought to bring him
sympathy and relief, to be repulsed, seemed as though it would break
her heart. Slowly and in tears did she leave the dreadful place that
confined her husband, and sought her home. There she endeavoured to
rally her scattered thoughts, and devise some means of relief. Her
first movement was to go to the employers of her husband. They
received her coldly, and after she had stated the condition of her
husband, told her that they could offer no relief, and hinted that
his conduct had been such as to forfeit their confidence. This was a
double blow; and she returned home with but strength enough to seek
her chamber and throw herself, almost fainting, upon her bed.
For hours she lay in a kind of nervous stupor, the most fantastic
and troubled images floating through her brain. Sometimes she would
start up, at the imagined sound of her husband's voice, and spring to
the chamber-door to meet him. But the chilling reality would drive her
back in tears. Where now were the crowds of friends that but a short
time since had hovered round her? They were but fashionable, soulless
insects—the cold winds of adversity had swept them away. Since the
failure and death of her father, not one of the many who had called
her friend had come near her lonely dwelling. But she could not
complain. More than one friend had she deserted, when misfortune came
suddenly upon them.
She took no food through the whole of that dreadful day, and could
find no oblivious sleep during the night of agony that followed. On
the next day, just as she had determined to go again to the prison,
her quick ear recognised the foot-fall of her husband. She sprang to
meet him, with a gladder heart than she had known for many weeks—but
his cold manner and brief words threw back upon her feelings a
"We must move from here, Julia," said he, after a few silent
moments, and looked at her as though he expected objection as a
matter of course.
"I am willing, if it is necessary, Henry. I will go anywhere with
Her manner softened his feelings, and he said more tenderly,
"Things are changed with me, Julia. In expectation of something
handsome from your father, I have been imprudent, and am now largely
in debt. The Messrs. R. L. will not, I am sure, take me back into
their store, and it will be hard, I am afraid, for me to get a
situation in town. Our furniture, which I have secured to you, is all
we have, except about money enough to pay our quarter's rent now due.
I see no wiser plan for us than to sell this furniture, except enough
for one chamber, and then go to boarding. It will bring a sum
sufficient to pay our board and other expenses for at least one year,
if we manage prudently; and, surely, I can get something to do in the
"I am willing for anything, dear Henry!" said his wife, twining her
arms about his neck, and laying her pale cheek to his. The furniture
was accordingly sold, and the reduced and humbled couple removed to a
As he had expected, Warburton found it hard to get employment.
Finally, after doing nothing for two months, he accepted the
situation of bar-keeper at one of the city hotels. Julia pleaded hard
with him not to go there, for she feared the influence of such a place
upon him, but he would listen to no argument.
His wife soon began to observe indications of a change for the
worse in his character. He grew more pettish and dissatisfied, and
frequently acted towards her with great unkindness. He was rarely, if
ever, at home before midnight, and then repulsed every affectionate
act or word. Several times he came in intoxicated, and once, while in
that state, he struck her a severe blow on the head, which caused an
illness of several weeks.
At the end of a year, Warburton had not only become dissipated in
his habits, but had connected himself with a set of gamblers, who, as
he proved to be a skilful hand, and not at all squeamish, resolved to
send him on a trip down the Ohio and Mississippi, to New Orleans, for
mutual benefit. To this he had not the slightest objection. He told
his wife that he was going to New Orleans on business for the Stage
Office, and would probably be gone all winter. Unkind as he had grown,
it was hard parting. Gladly would she have taken all the risk of
fatigue, to have accompanied him with her babe but four months old,
but he would listen to no such proposal. When he did go, she felt sick
at heart, and, as the thought flashed across her mind that he might
probably desert her, helpless and friendless as she was, it seemed as
if the fever of her mind would end in madness.
Regularly, however, for several months, she heard from him, and
each time he enclosed her money; but little more than was sufficient
to meet expenses. In the last letter she received, he hinted that he
might return home in a few weeks. At the usual time of receiving a
letter, she waited day after day, hoping and almost fearing to
receive one—anxious to hear from him, and yet fearing that he might
have changed his mind as to his contemplated return.
Week after week passed, and there were no tidings. Day after day
she went to the post-office with an anxious heart, which throbbed
quicker and quicker as the clerk mechanically and carelessly turned
over letter after letter, and at last pronounced the word "none,"
with professional indifference. Then it would seem to stop, and lie
like a motionless weight in her bosom, and she would steal away paler
and sicker than when she came. At last, her distress of mind became so
great, that she went, reluctantly, to the stage-office, to inquire if
they had heard from him recently. To her hesitating, anxious inquiry,
she received the brief reply that they knew nothing of him.
"But is he not in the employment of this office?"
"I hope not," was the short, sneering reply of one of the clerks.
"What do you mean, sir?" she asked, in an excited tone—"he is my
The manner of the man instantly changed. "Nothing, ma'am.—It was
only a thoughtless reply. He is not, however, in our employment, and
never has been."
Mrs. Warburton turned pale as ashes. A chair was instantly handed
to her, and a glass of water, and every kind attention offered.
At this moment a man entered, who eyed Mrs. W. with a vulgar stare.
The person who had first spoken to Mrs. W. took him aside, and after
conversing in whispers for a few moments, turned to her and said that
he had just learned that her husband had joined a band of traders, and
was now on his way to Mexico.
"How do you know?" was the quick reply.
"This gentleman has just told me."
"And how do you know, sir?"
"I received a letter from him three weeks ago, in which he stated
the fact to me. He has been in my employment ever since he has been
away, but has left it and gone to Mexico."
"When did he say he would return?" she asked, in a calm voice.
"That is uncertain, madam."
She tottered out of the office, and stole home with an enfeebled
step. "Forsaken!—forsaken!"—was all the form her thoughts would
take, until she met the sweet face of her babe, and then her heart
felt warmer, and not all forsaken.
"Poor thing! how I pity her," said the clerk in the stage-office,
when Mrs. W. had retired. "Her husband is a scoundrel, that's all I
know about it," responded the gentleman-gambler, who had sent
Warburton out on a swindling expedition.
"The more the pity for his poor wife."
"I wonder if she has any property of his in her hands?" queried the
"Why?—Why because I'll have my own out of it if she has. I have
his note, payable in a week, for money lent; and if he has got a
dollar here, I'll have it."
"You'll not turn his wife out of doors, will you?"
"Will I?"—and his face grew dark with evil thoughts.—"Will
I?—yes!—what care I for the whining wench! I'll see her to-morrow,
and know what we have both to expect."
"Coulson!" said the clerk, in an excited but firm voice—"You shall
not trouble that helpless, unfortunate woman!"
"Shall not? ha! Pray, Mr. Sympathy, and how can you hinder
"Look you to that, sir. I act, you know, not threaten."
The gambler's face grew darker, but the clerk turned away with a
look of contempt, and resumed his employment.
That night he sought the dwelling of Mrs. Warburton. He found her
boarding at a respectable house on—street. He named his business at
once, and warned her not to allow herself to get in the power of
Coulson, who was a gambler, and an abandoned villain.
When he understood her real situation—that she was in debt for
board, and without a dollar, forsaken of her husband, and among
strangers, his heart ached for her. Himself but on the salary of a
clerk, he could give little or no assistance. But advice and sympathy
he tendered, and requested her to call on him at any time, if she
thought that he could aid her. A kind word, a sympathising tone, is,
to one in such a sad condition, like gentle dews to the parched
"Above all," was his parting admonition, "beware of Coulson! He
will injure your character if he can. Do not see him. Forbid the
servants to admit him. He will, if he fixes his heart upon seeing you,
leave no stone unturned to accomplish it. But waver not in your
determination. And be sure to let me know if he persecutes you too
closely. Be resolute, and fear not. I know the man, and have crossed
his path ere this. And he knows me."
Early on the next day, Coulson called, and with the most
insinuating address, asked to see Mrs. Warburton.
"Ask him to send up his name," was Mrs. W.'s reply to the
information of the servant, that a gentleman wished to speak to her.
"Coulson," was returned.
"Tell him that I cannot see him."
To this answer he sent back word that his business was important
"Tell him that I cannot see him," was the firm reply.
Coulson left the house, baffled for once. The next day he called,
and sent up another name.
"He is the same person who called himself 'Coulson' yesterday,"
said the servant to Mrs. W.
"Tell him that I cannot be seen."
"I'll match the huzzy yet!" he muttered to himself as he left the
It now became necessary for Mrs. Warburton to rally all the
energies of her nature, feeble though they were, and yet untried. The
rate of boarding which she was required to pay, was much beyond what
she could now afford. At first she nearly gave up to despair. Thus far
in life, she had never earned a single dollar, and, from her earliest
recollection, the thought of working for money seemed to imply
degradation. But necessity soon destroys false pride. Her greatest
concern now was, what she should do for a living. She had learned to
play on the piano, to draw and paint, and had practised embroidery.
But in all these she had sought only amusement. In not a single one of
them was she proficient enough to teach. Fine sewing she could not do.
Her dresses had all been made by the mantua-maker, and her fine sewing
by the family sempstress. She had been raised in idle pleasure—had
spent her time in thrumming on the piano, making calls, tripping about
the streets, and entertaining company.
But wherever there is the will, there is a way. Through the kind
interference of a stranger, she was enabled to act decisively. Two
rooms were procured, and after selling various articles of costly
chamber furniture which still remained, she was enabled to furnish
them plainly and comfortably, and have about fifty dollars left.
Through the kind advice of this same stranger, (where were all her
former friends?) employment was had, by which she was soon able to
earn from four to five dollars a week.
Her employment was making cigars. At first, the tobacco made her so
sick that she was unable to hold her head up, or work more than half
her time. But after awhile she became used to it, and could work
steadily all day; though she often suffered with a distressing
headache. Mrs. Warburton was perhaps the first woman who made cigars
in—. Through the application of a third person, to a manufacturer,
the work was obtained, and given, from motives of charity.
She had been thus employed for about three months, and was
beginning to work skilfully enough to earn four dollars a week, and
give all necessary attention to herself and child, when Mr.—, the
manufacturer, received a note signed by all the journeymen in his
shop, demanding of him the withdrawal of all work from Mrs.
Warburton, on pain of their refusal to work a day longer. It was an
infringement, they said, upon their rights. Women could afford to
work cheaper than men, and would ruin the business.
Mr.—was well off, and, withal, a man who could brook no
dictation, in his business. His journeymen were paid their regular
wages, and had, he knew, no right to say whom he should employ; and
for any such interference he promptly resolved to teach them a
lesson. He was, moreover, indignant that a parcel of men, many of
whom spent more money at the taverns and in foolish expenses, in the
week, than the poor forsaken mother of a young babe could earn in
that time, should heartlessly endeavour to rob the more than widow of
her hard-earned mite.
"I will sacrifice half that I am worth, before I will yield to such
dictation," was his only answer to the demand. The foolish men
"struck," and turned out to lounge idly in taverns and other places,
until their employer should come to terms. They were, however, soon
convinced of their folly; for but a few weeks elapsed before Mr. had
employed females to make his cigars, who could afford to work for
one-third less than the journeymen had been receiving, and make good
wages at that. The consequence was, that the men who had, from
motives of selfishness, endeavoured to deprive Mrs. W. of her only
chance of support, were unable to obtain work at any price. Several
of them fell into idle and dissolute habits, and became vagabonds.
Other manufacturers of cigars followed the example of Mr.—, and
lessened the demand for journeymen; and the result in this instance
was but a similar one to that which always follows combinations
against employers—viz: to injure the interests of journeymen.
It was not long before Coulson found out the retreat of Mrs.
Warburton, and commenced his persecutions. The note of her husband
had fallen due, and his first movement was to demand the payment.
Perceiving, however, at once, that to make the money out of any
property in her possession was impossible, he changed his manner, and
offered to befriend her in any way that lay in his power. For a moment
she was thrown off her guard; but remembering the caution she had
received, she assumed a manner of the most rigid coldness towards him,
and told him that she already had friends who would care for her. The
next day she managed to apprize the clerk in the Stage Office of the
visit of Coulson, who promptly took measures to alarm his fears, for
he was a coward at heart, and effectually prevent his again troubling
Little of an interesting nature occurred for about a year, when she
received a letter from her husband at Cincinnati. He stated that
having despaired of getting along in the business he had entered into
on leaving—which had involved him in debt, he had left with a company
of traders for Mexico, and had just returned with a little money, with
which he wished to go into business. But that if he returned to—, he
would be troubled, and all he had taken from him. He enclosed her a
hundred dollar note, and wished her to come to him immediately, and to
leave—without letting any one know her destination. He professed much
sorrow for having left her in so destitute a condition, but pleaded
stern necessity for the act.
Mrs. W. did not hesitate a moment. In four days from the time she
received the letter, she was on the way to Cincinnati. Arrived there,
she was met by her husband with some show of affection. He was greatly
changed since she had seen him, and showed many indications of
irregular habits. He appeared to have plenty of money, and took rooms
for his wife in a respectable boardinghouse. The improvement in his
child pleased him much. When he went away it was only about five
months old—now it was a bright little boy, and could run about and
chatter like a bird. After some hesitation in regard to the kind of
business he should select, he at last determined to go into the
river-trade. To this Mrs. Warburton gently objected; because it would
keep him away from home for months together. But his capital was
small, and he at length made his first purchase of produce, and
started in a flat-boat for New Orleans. Poor Mrs. W. felt as if
deserted again when he left her. But at the end of three months he
returned, having cleared four hundred dollars by the trip. He remained
at home this time for two months, drinking and gambling; and at the
expiration of that period had barely enough left to make a small
purchase and start again.
Her troubles, she plainly saw, were just beginning again, and Mrs.
Warburton almost wished herself back again in the city, for which,
though there she had no friends, her heart yearned.
Her husband did not return, this time, from his river-voyage, for
three months; nor did he send his wife during that time any money.
The amount left her was entirely exhausted before the end of the
second month, and having heard nothing of him since he went away, she
feared to get in debt, and, therefore, two weeks before her money was
out, applied for work at a cigar-factory. Here she was fortunate
enough to obtain employment, and thus keep herself above absolute
Long before her husband returned, her heart had fearful forebodings
of a second blighting of all its dearest hopes. Not the less painful,
were those anticipations, because she had once suffered.
One evening in June, just three months from the time her husband
left, she had paused from her almost unremitted employment, during
the violence of a tremendous storm, that was raging without. The
thunder rattled around in startling peals, and the lightning blazed
from cloud to cloud, without a moment's intermission. She could not
work while she felt that the bolt of death hung over her. For half an
hour had the storm raged, when in one of the pauses which indicated
its passing away, she started at the sound of a voice that seemed like
that of her husband. In the next moment another voice mingled with it,
and both were loud and angry. Fearfully she flung open the door, and
just on the pavement, drenched with the rain, and unregardful of the
storm, for one more terrible raged within, stood two men, contending
with each other in mortal strife, while horrible oaths and
imprecations rolled from their lips. One of these, from his distorted
face, rendered momently visible in the vivid flashes of the lightning,
and from his voice, though loud and disguised by passion, she at once
knew to be her husband. His antagonist was not so strong a man, but he
was more active, and seemed much cooler. Each had in his hand an open
Spanish knife, and both were striking, plunging, and parrying thrusts
with the most malignant fury. It was an awful sight to look upon. Two
human beings striving for each other's lives amid the fury of a
terrible storm, the lightnings of which glanced sharply upon their
glittering knives, revealing their fiend-like countenances for an
instant, and then leaving them in black darkness.
For a few moments, Mrs. Warburton stood fixed to the spot, but,
recalling her scattered senses, she rushed towards the combatants,
calling upon them to pause, and repeating the name of her husband in
a voice of agony. The result of the strife was delayed but an instant
longer, for with a loud cry her husband fell bleeding at her feet. His
antagonist passed out of sight in a moment.
Lifting the apparently lifeless form of her husband in her arms,
Mrs. Warburton carried or rather dragged him into the house, and
placed him upon the bed, where lay their sleeping boy. She then
hurried off for the nearest physician, who was soon in attendance.
The first sound that met the ear of Mrs. Warburton, on her return,
was the voice of her dear child, eagerly calling, "Pa! pa! wake up,
pa!"—And there was the little fellow pulling at the insensible body
of his father, in an (sic) extacy of infantile joy at his return.
"Pa come home!—Pa come home, mamma!" And the little fellow clapped
his hands, and shook the body of his father in the effort to wake
The mother gently lifted her child from the bed. His little face
instantly changed its expression into one of fear, when he looked
into his mother's countenance. "Pa's very sick, and little Charles
must keep still," she whispered to the child, and sat him down in the
When the physician arrived, he found that the knife had entered the
left breast just above the heart, but had not penetrated far enough
to destroy life. There were also several bad cuts, in different parts
of his body, all of which required attention. After dressing them, he
left the still insensible man in the care of his wife and one of his
assistants, with directions to have him called should any alarming
symptom occur. It was not until the next morning that there was any
apparent return of consciousness on the part of the wounded man. Then
he asked in a feeble voice for his wife. She had left the bed but a
moment before, and hearing him speak, was by his side in an instant.
"Julia, how came I here? What is the matter?" said he, rousing up,
and looking anxiously around. But overcome with weakness from the
loss of blood, he sank back upon the bed, and remained apparently
insensible for some time. But he soon showed evidence of painful
recollection having returned. For his breathing became more laboured,
under agitated feelings, and he glanced his eyes about the room with
an eager expression. After a few minutes he buried his face in the
bed-clothes and sighed heavily. Distinct, painful consciousness had
In a few days he began to grow stronger, and was able to sit up;
and with the return of bodily vigour came back the deadly passions
that had agitated him on the night of his return home. The man, he
said, had literally robbed him of his money, (in fact, won it); had
cheated him out of every dollar of his hard-earned gains, and he
would have his life.
When hardly well enough to walk about, Warburton felt the evil
influence of his desire for revenge so strong, as to cause him to
seek out the individual who, he conceived, had wronged him, by
winning from him, or cheating him out of his money. They met in one
of the vile places in Cincinnati, where vice loves to do her dark
work in secret. Truly are they called hells, for there the love of
evil and hatred of the neighbour prompt to action. Every malignant
passion in the heart of Warburton was roused into full vigour, when
his eyes fell upon the face of his former associate. Instantly he
grasped his knife, and with a yell of fiendish exultation sprang
towards him, like some savage beast eager for his prey. The other
gambler was a cool man, and hard to throw off of his guard. His first
movement was to knock Warburton down, then drawing his Spanish knife,
he waited calmly and firmly for his enemy to rise. Blind with passion,
Warburton sprang to his feet and rushed upon the other, who received
him upon the point of his knife, which entered deep into the abdomen.
At the same instant, Warburton's knife was plunged into the heart of
his adversary, who staggered off from its point, reeled for a few
seconds about the room, and then fell heavily upon the floor. He was
dead before the cool spectators of the horrid scene could raise him
From loss of blood Warburton soon fainted, and when he came to
himself, he found that he had been conveyed to his home, and that his
weeping wife stood over him. There were also others in the room, and
he soon learned that he was to be conveyed, even in the condition he
was then in, to prison, to await his trial for murder.
In vain did his poor heart-stricken wife plead that he might be
left there until he recovered, or even until his wound was dressed;
but she pleaded in vain. On a litter, faint from loss of blood, and
groaning with pain, he was carried off to prison. By his side walked
her whom no ill treatment or neglect could estrange.
Three months he was kept in jail, attended daily by his
uncomplaining wife, who supported herself and little boy, with her
own hands, sparing much for her husband's comfort. The wound had not
proved very dangerous, and long before his trial came on, he was as
well as ever.
The day of trial at length came, and Mrs. Warburton found that it
required her strongest efforts to keep sufficiently composed to
comprehend the true nature and bearing of all the legal proceedings.
Never in her life before had she been in a court of justice, and the
bare idea of being in that, to her awful, place, stunned at first all
her perceptions; especially as she was there under circumstances of
such deep and peculiar interest.
Next to her husband, in the bar, did this suffering woman take her
place: and that husband arraigned before. his country's tribunal for
the highest crime—murder! How little did she dream of such an awful
situation, years before, when a gay, thoughtless, innocent girl, she
gave up in maiden confidence, and with deep joy, her affections to
that husband. Passing on step by step, in misery's paths, she had at
last reached a point, the bare idea of which, had it been entertained
as possible for a moment, would have almost extinguished life. Now,
her deep interest in that husband who had abused her confidence, and
almost extinguished hope in her bosom, kept her up, and enabled her to
watch with unwavering attention every minute proceeding.
After the indictment was read, and the State's Attorney, in a
comprehensive manner, had stated the distinct features of the case,
which he pledged himself to prove by competent witnesses, poor Mrs.
Warburton became sick and faint. A clearer case of deliberate murder
could not, it seemed to her, be made out. Still, she was sure there
must be palliating circumstances, and longed to be permitted to rise
and state her impressions of the case. Once she did start to her
feet, but a right consciousness returned before she had uttered a
word. Shrinking into her seat again, she watched with a pale face and
eager look, the course of the proceedings.
Witness after witness was called on the part of the state, each
testifying distinctly the fact of Warburton's attack upon the
murdered man, and his threat to take his life. Hope seemed utterly to
fail from the heart of the poor wife, when the testimony on the part
of the prosecution closed. But now came the time for the examination
of witnesses in favour of the prisoner. Soon Mrs. Warburton was seen
upon her feet, bending over towards the witness' stand, and eagerly
devouring each word. Rapid changes would pass over her countenance, as
she comprehended, with a woman's quickness of perception, rendered
acute by strong interest, the bearing which the evidence would have
upon the case. Now her eye would flash with interest and her face
become flushed—and now her cheek would pale, and her form seem to
shrink into half its dimensions. Oh! who can imagine one thousandth
part of all her sufferings on that awful occasion? When, finally, the
case was given to the jury, and after waiting hour after hour at the
court-house, to hear the decision, she had to go home long after dark,
in despair of knowing the result before morning, it seemed hardly
possible that she could pass through that night and retain her senses.
She did not sleep through the night's long watches—how could she
sleep? Hours before the court assembled, she was at the court-house,
waiting to know the fate of one, who now, in his fearful extremity,
seemed dearer to her than ever. Slowly passed the lingering minutes,
and at length ten o'clock came. The court-room was filled to
suffocation, but through the dense crowd she made her way, and took
her place beside her anxious husband. The court opened, and the
foreman of the jury came forward to read the verdict. Many an eye
sought with eager curiosity, or strong interest, the face of the wife.
Its calmness was strange and awful. All anxiety, all deep interest had
left it, and as she turned her eye upon the foreman, none could read
the slightest exhibition of emotion. "GUILTY OF MURDER IN THE SECOND
DEGREE!" Quick as thought a hundred eyes again sought the face of
Mrs. Warburton. It was pale as ashes, and her insensible form was
gently reclining upon the arm of her husband, which had been extended
to save her from falling.
When recollection returned, she was lying upon her own bed, in her
own chamber, with her little boy crying by her side. Those who had,
from humane feelings, conveyed her home, suffered the dictates of
humanity to die in their bosoms ere her consciousness returned; and
thus she was left, insensible, with no companion but her child.
In due course, Warburton was sentenced to eight years imprisonment,
the first three years to be passed in solitary confinement. During
the first term, no person was to be allowed to visit him. The
knowledge of such a sentence was a dreadful blow to Mrs. Warburton.
She parted from him in the court-room, on the day of his sentence,
and for three long, weary years, her eyes saw him not again.
But a short time after the imprisonment of Warburton, another babe
came into the world to share the misery of her whose happiness he
had, in all his actions, so little regarded. When able again to go
about, and count up her store, Mrs. Warburton found that she had
little left her beyond a willing heart to labour for her children. It
would have been some comfort to her if she had been permitted to visit
her husband, but this the law forbade.
"Despair is never quite despair," and once more in her life did
Mrs. Warburton prove this. The certainty that there could be no
further dependence upon her husband, led her to repose more
confidently in her own resources, for a living, and they did not fail
her. She had long since found out that our necessities cost much less
than our superfluities, and therefore she did not sit down in idle
despondency. Early in the morning and late at night was she found
diligently employed, and though her compensation was not great, it
was enough to supply her real wants.
For two years had she supported thus with her own hands herself and
children. The oldest was now a smart little fellow of five years, and
the youngest a fair-haired girl of some two summers. Thus far had she
kept them around her; but sickness at last came. Nature could not
always sustain the heavy demands made upon her, and at last sunk under
There are many more cases of extreme suffering in this country than
persons are generally willing to believe. These extreme cases are
among those whose peculiar feelings will not allow of their making
known their real condition. They are such as were once members of
some social circle, far removed indeed from the apparent chances of
poverty. Their shrinking pride, their yearning desire for
independence clings closer and closer to them, and operates more and
more powerfully, as they sink lower and lower, from uncontrollable
causes, into the vale of want and destitution. Beggars with no
feelings, and no claims beyond those of idleness and intemperance,
thrust themselves forward, and consume the bread of charity, that
should go to nourish the widow and the orphan, who suffer daily and
nightly, rather than ask for aid.
One to whom the idea of eating the bread of charity had ever been a
painful and revolting one, was Mrs. Warburton. So long as she was
able, she had earned with untiring industry, the food that nourished
her children. But close confinement, insufficient nourishment, labour
beyond her strength, and above all, a wounded spirit, at last
completed the undermining work, which threw down the tottering and
feeble health that had long kept her at her duties.
It was mid-winter when she was severely attacked by a
bilious-pleurisy. For some weeks she had drooped about, hardly able
to perform half her wonted labour—most of that time suffering from a
hard cough and distressing pain in the side, which was augmented
almost to agony while bending steadily, and for hours over her work.
Taking, as it did, all that she could earn to keep herself and
children in comfort during the winter, she had nothing laid up for a
time of more pressing need; and, as for the last few weeks, she had
earned so little as to have barely enough for necessaries, when
helplessness came, she was in utter destitution, Her wood was just
out, except a few hard, knotted logs; her flour was out, and her
money gone. When she could no longer sit up, she sent her little boy
for a physician, who bled her, and left her some powerful medicines.
The first gave temporary relief, and the latter reduced her to a
state of great bodily and mental weakness. He did not call in again
until the second day, when he found the children both in bed with
their mother, who was suffering greatly from a return of the pain in
her side. The room was chilly, for there was no fire, and it was
intensely cold without, and the ground covered with a deep snow. He
again bled her, which produced immediate relief, and learning that
she had no wood, called in at the next door, where lived a wealthy
family, and stated the condition of their poor neighbour A child of
six years old stood by his mother while the physician was speaking.
The lady seemed much affected when told of the sufferings of the,
poor woman, politely thanked the physician for making her acquainted
with the fact, and promised immediate attention.
That evening there was to be at this house a large party. Extra
servants had been employed that day, and all was bustle and
"Sarah," called the lady, a few minutes after, to her
housekeeper—"Sarah, Dr. H—was here just now, and said that the poor
woman who lives next door is sick and out of fuel. Tell John to take
her in an armful of wood, and do you just step in and see what more
she is in want of."
"Yes, ma'am," responds Sarah, and muttering to herself some
dissatisfaction at the order, descends to the kitchen, and addresses
a sable man-servant, and kind of doer-of-all-work-in-general, in
doors and out,
"John, Mrs.—says you must take an armful of wood in to Mrs.
Warrington; I believe that is the woman's name who lives next door."
"Who? de woman whose husband in de (sic) Penetentiary?"
"Yes, that's the one, John."
"Don't love to meddle wid dem guess sort of folks, Miss Sarah.
'Druder not be gwine in dere," responds the black, with a broad grin
at his own humour.
"Well, I don't care whether you do or not," responds Sarah, and
glides swiftly away, satisfied to do one part of her order and forget
the other, which related to her going in to see the poor woman
herself. Mrs.—shifted off the duty on her housekeeper, and she
contented herself by forgetting it.
Little William, who was present with his mother when the doctor
called, was, like all children, a true republican, and had often
played with the child of the sick woman. He had seen his little
playmate but a few times since the cold weather set in; but had all
his sympathies aroused, at the doctor's recital. Being rather more
suspicious of the housekeeper than his mother, and no doubt for good
reasons best known to himself, he followed on to the kitchen, and was
an ear-witness to what passed between John and the sub-mistress of the
"Come, John, now that's a good fellow," said he to the negro, after
the housekeeper had retired, "take in some wood to poor Mrs.
"'Fraid, Massa Billy, 'deed. 'Fraid of (sic) penetentiary—ha! ha!!
"She can't help that, though, John. So come along, and take the
"'Fraid, i'deed, Massa Billy."
"Well, if you don't, I'll take it in myself, and dirty all my
clothes, and then somebody will find it out, without my turning
John grinned a broad smile, and forthwith, finding himself
outwitted, carried in the wood, and left it in the middle of the
floor, without saying a word.
Towards evening, just before the company assembled, little William,
not at all disposed to forget, as every one else had done, the poor
sufferers next door, went to the housekeeper's room, where she was
busy as a bee with preparations for the party, and stationed himself
in the door, accosted her with—
"Miss Sarah, have you been in to see Mrs. Warburton, as ma told
"That's no concern of yours, Mr. Inquisitive."
"But I'd just like to know, Miss Sarah; 'cause I'm going in myself,
if you hav'nt been."
"Do you suppose that I have not paid attention to what your ma
said? I know my own business, without instruction from you."
"Well, I don't believe you've been in, so I don't, that's all; and
if you don't say yes or no at once, why, you see, I'll go right in
"Well (coaxingly) never mind, Billy, I haint been in, I've been so
busy; but just wait a little bit, and I'll go There's no use of your
going; you can't do nothing."
"I know that, Miss Sarah, and that's why I want you to go in. But
if you don't go in, I will, so there, now!"
"Well, just wait a little bit, and I'll go."
The child, but half satisfied, slowly went away, but lingered about
the passages to watch the housekeeper. Night, however, came on, and
he had not seen her going. All were now busy lighting up, and making
the more immediate and active preparations for the reception of
company, when he met her in the hall, and to his, "Look here, I say,
Miss Sarah," she hurried past him unheeding.
The company at last assembled, and the hours had passed away until
it was nine o'clock. Without, all was cold, bleak, and cheerless.
Within, there was the perfection of comfort.
Little William had been absent for some time, but no one missed
him. Just as a large company were engaged in the various ways of
passing time, dancing, chatting, and partaking of refreshments, the
room door opened, and in came Master Billy, dragging in by the hand, a
little barefoot fellow about his own age, with nothing on but a
clean, well-patched shirt, and a pair of linen trowsers. Without
heeding the company, he pulled him up to the glowing grate, and in
the fulness of his young benevolent heart, cried out,
"Here's fire, Charley! Warm yourself, old fellow! Hurrah! I guess
I've fixed Miss Sarah now." And the little fellow clapped his hands
as innocently and as gracefully, as if there had been no one in the
room but himself and Charley.
All was agreeable and curious confusion in a few minutes, and
scores crowded around the poor child with a lively interest, who, an
hour before would have passed him in the street unnoticed.
"Why, Willy! what does all this mean?" exclaimed the father, after
something like order had been restored.
"Why, pa, you see, this is Charley Warburton," began the little
fellow, holding the astonished Charley by the hand, and presenting
him quite ceremoniously to his father. "Doctor H—came here to-day,
and told ma that his mother was sick next door, and that they had no
wood. So ma tells Sarah to send John in with some wood, and to go in
herself and see if they wanted anything. So Sarah goes and tells John
to go and take some wood in. But John he wa'nt going to go, till I
told him that if he didn't go I would, and if I went to carrying in
wood, I'd dirty all my clothes, and then somebody would want to know
the reason. So John he carried in some wood. Then I watched Sarah, but
she didn't go in. So I told her about it. And then she promised, but
didn't go. I told her again, and she promised, but didn't go. I waited
and waited until night, and still Sarah didn't go in. Then you see,
awhile ago I slipped out the front door, and tried to go in to Mrs.
Warburton's. But it was all so dark there, that I couldn't see
anybody; and when I called 'Charley,' here, his mother said, softly,
'who's there,' and I said 'it's only little Willy. Ma wants to know if
you don't want nothing.' 'Oh, it's little Willy—it's little Willy!'
says Charley, and he jumps on the floor, and then we both came in
here. O! it's so dark and cold in there—do pa go in, and make John
build them a fire."
During the child's innocent but feeling recital, more than one eye
filled with tears. Mrs.—hung down her head for a moment, in silent
upbraidings of heart, for having consigned a work of charity to
neglectful and unfeeling servants. Then taking her child in her arms,
she hugged him to her bosom, and said,
"Bless you, bless you, my boy! That innocent heart has taught your
mother a lesson she will not soon forget." The father felt prouder of
his son than he had ever felt, and there were few present who did not
almost wish him their own. Little Charley was asked by Mr.—if he was
hungry, on observing him wistfully eyeing a piece of cake.
"We haint had nothin' to eat all day, sir, none of us."
"And why not, my little man?" asked Mr.—in a voice of assumed
"'Cause, sir, we haint got nothin' to eat in the house. Mother
always had good things for us till she got sick, and now we are all
hungry, and haint got nothin' to eat."
"Here, Sarah, (to the housekeeper, who came in at the moment)—no,
not you, either—do you, Emma, (to his wife,) give this hungry child
some nourishing food with your own hands. He has a claim on you, for
the sake of our little Willy."
Mrs.—was not slow in relieving Charley's wants and then, after
excusing herself to the company, she visited, with John and Sarah,
the humble, uncomplaining child of humanity, who had been suffering,
so painfully, in the next house to her comfortable dwelling.
The light carried by John revealed, in the middle of the floor, the
armful of wood, in large logs, almost impossible to kindle, which the
servant had thrown down there without a word, or an offer to make a
fire. Mrs.—'s heart smote her when she saw this evidence of her
neglect of true charity. Enveloped in the bed-clothes, she found Mrs.
Warburton and her little child, the former suffering from pain and
fever, and the latter asleep, with tears glistening on her eyelashes.
The room was so cold that it sent chills all over her, as she had come
in without throwing a shawl around her shoulders.
"I am sorry to find you so sick, and everything around you so cold
and comfortless," she said, addressing Mrs. Warburton.
"I don't feel so very sick, ma'am, only when I try to sit up, I
grow so faint, and have to lie down again. If my little things had
anything to eat, I wouldn't mind it much."
Just then, aroused by the voice of her mother, the little girl
awoke, and began moaning and crying. She could not speak plain, and
her "bed and mik, mamma"—"O, mamma, bed and mik," thrilled every
heart-string of Mrs.—, who had never before in her life witnessed
the keen distress of a mother while her child asked in vain for
bread. She drew the child out of bed, and kissing it, handed it to
Sarah, whose feelings were also touched, and told her to take the
little thing into her house, and give it to the nurse, with
directions to feed it, and then come back.
By this time, John, rather more active than usual, had kindled a
fire, the genial warmth of which began already to soften the keen air
of the room. Some warm drinks were prepared for Mrs. Warburton; and
Mrs.—had the satisfaction to see her, in the course of half an hour,
sink away into a sweet and refreshing slumber. On glancing around the
room, she was gratified, and somewhat surprised, to see everything,
though plain and scanty, exhibiting the utmost order and cleanliness.
The uncarpeted floor was spotless, and the single pine table as white
as hands could make it. "How much am I to blame," was her inward
thought, "for having so neglected this poor woman in her distress and
in her poverty!"
On returning to her company, and giving a history of the scene she
had just witnessed, the general feeling of sympathy prompted
immediate measures for relief, and a very handsome sum was placed in
the hands of Mrs.—, by the gentlemen and ladies present, for the use
of Mrs. Warburton. Rarely does a social company retire with each
individual of it so satisfied in heart as did the company assembled
at Mrs.—'s, on that evening. Truly could they say, "It is more
blessed to give than to receive."
The incident just related, possessing a kind of romantic interest,
soon became noised about from family to family, and for awhile it was
fashionable to minister to the wants of Mrs. Warburton—whose health
continued very delicate—and to her young family. But a few months
passed away, and then one after another ceased to remember or care for
her. Even Mrs.—, the mother of little Billy, began to grow weary of
charity long continued, and to feel that it was a burdensome task to
be every day or two obliged to call in or inquire after the poor
invalid. Finally, she dismissed the subject from her mind, and left
Mrs. Warburton to the tender mercies of Sarah, the housekeeper.
From a state of deep despondence to one of hope, had Mrs. Warburton
been raised, by the timely aid afforded through the persevering
interference of the little playmate of her son. But she soon began to
perceive, after a time, that the charity was only spasmodic, and
entered into without a real consideration of her peculiar case. The
money given her was the best assistance that could have been
rendered, for with this she obtained a supply of wood, flour, meal,
potatoes, and some warm clothing for her little ones. But this would
not last always, and the multitude of little nice things sent from
this one and that, were of but little service.
The month of March, so trying to a weak and shattered constitution,
found her just well enough to venture out to seek for employment at
her old business of cigar-making. She readily obtained work, and
again sat down to earn for herself and children, the bread that
should nourish them. But she was soon made to feel keenly that her
health was not as it had been. A severe pain in the side was her
daily companion, and she had to toil on, often sick and faint, from
daylight until long after others had sought the grateful repose of
their pillows. Painfully alive to a sense of dependence, she was
ready at any time to work beyond her strength rather than to eat the
bread of charity. This kept her steadily bending over her work until
nature again became exhausted, and she was forced, from direct
debility, to suspend her labours for at least the half of every day.
As April came in, with an occasional warm day, her appetite gradually
left her, and she began to experience a loathing of food. Weakness,
headaches, and other painful warnings of nature, were the
consequences. Her earnings were now so small, that she with
difficulty procured enough of food for her children. She knew that if
she would let Mrs.—know her pressing destitution, food and other
necessaries would be supplied; but she shrank from telling her wants.
Finding, however, that her strength continued to fail, until she was
unable to sit up but for a few hours at a time, and that, in
consequence of her extreme weakness, the nausea produced by the
tobacco was so great, as to render it almost impossible for her to
work in it, she made up her mind to let her boy go in to Mrs.—, with
a request to send her some little thing that she could eat, in hopes
that something from her table might provoke an appetite.
Mrs.—was sitting at her dinner-table, which was covered with the
luxuries of the season, when little Charley came into the room and
handed in his poor mother's request.
"Please, ma'am, mother says will you be so good as to send her some
little thing that she could eat. She has no appetite, and not eatin'
makes her so weak."
"Here's some pie, Charley," struck in little Billy. "It's good, I
tell you! Eat it now; and ma, do send in Charley's mother a piece,
too: I know she'll like it."
But Billy and his mother did not agree in this. The latter thought
a little sago would be much better. So she gave Charley a paper in
which were a few spoonfuls of sago.
"Here is some sago, mother," said Charley, on his return,
"Mrs.—says it will do you good."
Now it so happened that, from a child, she had never liked sago.
There was something in it so insipid to her, that she had never felt
an inclination to more than taste it. Particularly now did her
stomach loathe it. But, even if she had felt an inclination to taste
the sago, she had not, at the time, any way to prepare it so as to
make it palatable. She did not, however, at the time, send for
anything else. She still had some flour and potatoes, and a little
change to buy milk, and on these her children fared very well.
Healthy food does not cost a great deal in this country, and Mrs.
Warburton had long before learned to husband well her resources.
On the next morning she tried to get up, but fainted away on the
floor. Her children were still asleep, and were not even awakened by
her fall. It was some time before she recovered sufficiently to crawl
upon the bed; and there she lay; almost incapable of thought or
motion, for hours. As feeble nature reacted again, and she was able to
think over her situation, she made up her mind to send in her little
boy again to Mrs.—, with an apology for not using the sago, and
request her to give her some little thing from her table—anything at
all that would be likely, as she said, "to put a taste in her mouth,"
and induce an appetite for food. The child delivered the message in
the best way he knew how, but some how or other it offended the ear of
Mrs.—, who had begun to be tired of what she was pleased to call the
importunities of Mrs. Warburton; though, in fact, she had never before
even hinted that she was in want of anything. The truth was, Sarah,
the housekeeper, had heard something from somebody, about Mrs.
Warburton, and had been relating the puerile scandal to Mrs.—, who,
instead of opposing the tattling propensity in her servant, encouraged
it, by lending to her silly stories an attentive ear. But the story
was false, from beginning to end, as are nearly all the idle rumours
which are constantly circulating from one family to another, through
the medium of servants.
"How did she do," she had just been saying to Sarah, "before I
befriended her? It is a downright imposition upon my good-nature, and
I have no notion of encouraging idleness."
"The fact is, ma'am," chimed in the maid, "these here poor people,
when you once help 'em, think you must be a'ways at it; they find it
so much easier to beg than work."
Just at this stage of conversation, the child timidly preferred the
humble and moderate request of his sick mother; a request that should
have thrilled the heart of any one possessing a single human sympathy.
But it came at the wrong moment. The evil of self-love was active in
the heart of Mrs.—, and all love of the neighbour was for the time
extinguished. She cast upon the child a look so forbidding that the
little fellow turned involuntarily to go.
"Here, Sarah," said she, in a half-angry tone, "send Mrs. Warburton
a dried herring. Perhaps that will 'put a taste in her mouth.'"
And a herring was sent!
"It's a pretty pass, indeed," said Miss Sarah, as the child closed
the door, "when beggars become choosers!"
Only half satisfied with herself, Mrs.—turned away and made no
reply. How differently did she feel on the night, when, with her own
hands, she ministered to the wants of this same suffering child of
humanity! Then her heart, though melted even to tears, felt a
bounding gladness, from the consciousness of having relieved the
suffering. Now it was heavy and sad in her bosom, and she could not
hush the whispers of an accusing conscience.
Little Charley carried home the herring, and laid it on the bed
before his sick mother. His own little heart was full, for he could
not mistake the manner of Mrs.—for kindness. Mrs. Warburton looked
at the uninviting food, and turned her head away. After awhile, it did
seem to her as if the fish would taste good to her, and she raised
herself up with an effort, and breaking off a small piece, put it
languidly to her lips. The morsel thrilled upon the nerve of taste,
and she ate the greater part of it with a relish she had not known for
In the mean time the heart of Mrs.—smote her so severely, when
all at once she remembered having lost her appetite after a spell of
sickness, and the difficulty with which she regained it;—how during
the day, nothing could tempt her to eat, while all night long she
would dream of rich banquets, of which she eagerly desired to
partake, but which changed to tasteless morsels, when she lifted the
inviting food to her lips. For a time she strove against her
feelings, but at last gave up, and ringing for the cook, directed her
to broil a couple of thin slices of ham very nicely, make a good cup
of tea, and a slice or two of toast. When this was ready, it was sent
in to Mrs. Warburton. It came just in time, and met the excited
appetite of the faint-hearted invalid. It was like manna in the
wilderness, and revived and refreshed her drooping frame.
From this time she gradually regained her appetite and strength;
and had the gratification of being able to earn with her own hands
enough for the support of her children.
This she continued to do until the expiration of the solitary
confinement term of her husband. How wearily passed the long, long
days and nights, as the time approached for her again to look upon
the face that had been hid from her sight for three sorrowful years!
The long absence had only excited her affection for him. Not as the
dead had she thought of him, but as of the living, and of the
suffering. Her own deep poverty, sickness, and anxious concern for
her children she counted as nothing to his lonely endurance of life.
Some weeks before the expiration of the first term of imprisonment,
she gathered together all her little store, and having sold many
heavy articles, packed the rest, and had them started for Columbus,
the capital of the state. She then took a deck-passage for herself
and children in a steamboat for Portsmouth, from which place she
determined to walk, carrying her youngest child, a little girl of
nearly three years, in her arms. I will not linger with her, nor
trace her toilsome and lonely journey through strange places,
continued without a day's intermission, until she at last came in
sight of the long-looked-for place. After the time-worn state-house,
the next building that met her eye, was the old, dark-looking prison,
in which was confined her husband. How gladly did her eyes greet its
sombre walls! It was the dwelling-place of one, for whom, in all his
wanderings, her heart retained its warm emotions of love. Suddenly,
like a parching wind of the desert, came upon her the thought that he
might be dead. For three long years she had not been permitted to
receive tidings from him, and who could tell, if in that time, the
wing of death had not o'ershadowed him? Trembling, weary, and sick at
heart, she made her way first to the prison-gate, and there, to her
unspeakable joy, she learned that he still lived.
For many nights previous to the day on which permission would be
granted her to see him, sleep had parted from her eyelids; and when
the time did come, she was in a high state of mental excitement.
Morning slowly dawned upon her anxious eyes, but seemed as if it
would never give place to the broad daylight. At last the sun came
slowly up from his bright chambers in the east. It was the day on
which she should again see her husband; the long-looked-for, the
long-hoped-for. Tremblingly she stole out, ere the day was an hour
old, and ran, not walked, to the gloomy dwelling-place of her
For several days previous she had not been able to keep away from
the prison, and the keeper, who knew her errand, had become much
interested in her case. He received her kindly, and made instant
preparation for the desired interview.
For three years Warburton had not heard the music of a human voice.
Far away from the sight or sound of his fellow-prisoners, he had
dwelt alone, visited only by the mute keeper who had brought his
daily food, or otherwise ministered to his wants. To his earnest and
oft-repeated inquiries if nothing was known of his wife and children,
for whose welfare a yearning anxiety had sprung up in his breast, he
was answered only by a gloomy silence. He did not know, even on the
morning of his release from solitary confinement, that the
all-enduring companion of his better days had come to cheer his
anxious eyes with her presence. Soon after daylight of this morning
the door of his cell turned heavily on its hinges, and he was brought
out among his fellows, and heard again the sweetest music that had
ever fallen upon his ear, the music of the human voice. A stronger
thrill of pleasure had never passed through his frame. He felt as
though he could remain thus shut out from the rest of the world for
ever, so that he could see and talk with his fellow-men. He did not
then think of the keen delight that awaited him, for in the first
impulse of selfish gratification he had forgotten the being who loved
him better than life.
An hour had not passed when he was again called for. The door of a
private apartment in the keeper's house was thrown open, and he
entered alone. There was but one being present: a pale, haggard
woman, poorly clad, who tottered towards him with extended arms. At
that moment both hearts were too full, and their lips were sealed in
silence. But oh! how eagerly did each bind the other in a long, long
embrace! It seemed as if their arms would never be unlocked. For one
hour were they left, thus alone. But how were years crowded into that
hour; years of endurance—terrible endurance!
It seemed scarcely one-tenth of that short time, when Mrs.
Warburton was summoned away, but with the kind permission to visit her
husband at the same hour every day. Slowly she passed beneath the
ponderous gate, and still more slowly moved away, thinking how long it
would be before another day had passed, bringing another blessed
The case of Warburton and his faithful wife soon came to the ears
of the governor, and he having expressed considerable sympathy for
them, the fact was soon made known to Mrs. Warburton, who was
recommended to petition him in person for a remission of the
sentence. The hint was no sooner given than acted upon, and after a
delay of several months of hope and fear, to the joy of her heart,
she found her husband at liberty.
In some of his former business or gambling transactions he had
become possessed of a clear title to three hundred acres of land,
upon which was a log-cabin, situated about thirty miles eastward from
the capital of the state, and nearly upon the national road. Searching
among his papers, still preserved by his wife, he found the deed, and
as nothing better offered, he started with his family and but ten
dollars, to begin the world anew as a backwoods farmer. The few
articles of furniture which his wife had preserved, served to render
the dilapidated cabin, in which was not a single pane of glass, sash,
or shutter, barely comfortable. It was early in the spring when they
re-moved, and though the right time for planting corn and the ordinary
table vegetables, yet it would be months before they would be fit to
use. In the mean time, a subsistence must be had. The quickest way to
obtain food Warburton found in the use of his rifle, for wild turkeys
and deer abounded in the forest. He also managed to take a few dozen
turkeys now and then to a neighbouring town, and dispose of them for
corn-meal, flour, and groceries. In about a month he was enabled to
sell one hundred acres of his land for three hundred dollars, one
hundred in money, and the balance in necessary things for stocking a
farm. He was now fairly started again, with a cow, a horse, and all
requisite agricultural implements.
Mrs. Warburton did not feel satisfied in her own mind that this
sudden relief from daily pressing want would be a real benefit to
them. She had learned to suspect the reformation which was effected
by the force of external circumstances, while no salutary change in
the will was going on. For some time, however, she had every reason
to be encouraged. Her husband was industrious, and careful to make
the best he possibly could out of his farm, and was kind and
attentive to her and his children. Their garden, as the summer wore
away, presented a rich supply of vegetables, and their corn and
potatoes in the fall yielded enough for their use during the winter,
besides several bushels for sale.
The winter, however, did not pass away without several indications
on the part of Warburton of a disposition to indulge in the pleasures
of the bottle. There had been, in the course of the summer, a tavern
erected, about a mile from his dwelling, on the national road; and
here, during the dull winter months, he too frequently resorted, to
pass away the hours, with such persons as are usually to be found at
these haunts of idleness.
The income of this house, as a place of accommodation for
travellers, was very small, for within four miles of it stood a
tavern and stage-house, kept in a style that had made it known to the
travelling public. It was simply a receptacle for the odd change of
the neighbours, at times when they had an hour or two to spare from
business. Gradually, its business increased, and as gradually the
farms of one or two individuals in the neighbourhood, who were, more
frequently than others, to be found at the tavern, evinced a
corresponding decrease in their flourishing condition. Fences that
never wanted a panel were now broken in many places; and barns that
never admitted a drop of rain, now leaked at a hundred pores. Once,
there was an air of cheerfulness and plenty around their dwellings;
now, wives and children looked, the former troubled and broken in
spirits, the latter dirty and neglected. Where once reigned peace and
quietness, existed wrangling and strife.
During the succeeding farming season, Warburton gave considerable
attention—cultivating his ground, which in the fall yielded him an
abundant return. Still, during the summer, he visited the "White Hall
Tavern" too frequently, and was too often under the bewildering and
exciting influence of liquor. The next winter tended greatly to
complete the work of dissipation, which had been commenced a year
before. Frequently he would come home so much intoxicated as to be
lost to all reason. At such times he was not the stupid,
good-natured, drunken fool that is often met with; he was then a
cruel, unreasonable and exacting tyrant. His poor wife and children
did not only suffer from his wordy ill temper, but had to endure in
silence his blows, and often tremble even for their lives. When
sober, an indistinct remembrance of his cruelties and other bad
conduct, instead of softening his feelings towards his family, made
him moodily silent, or cross and snappish if a word were said to him.
The constant and almost daily drain of small change for liquor, had
nearly exhausted all the money in the house long before the winter
was over. The accommodating landlord seemed to discover, as by
instinct, this condition of things, and encouraged Warburton to run
up a score. He well knew that at any time it was easy to get the
payment out of a man who had a good farm, well stocked. Not so much
for the money to be made at the business, as for the purpose of
attracting more persons to his tavern, the landlord of the "White
Hall" kept a small store. At this store, Warburton, long before the
winter was over, had also made a pretty large bill. As if to atone
for his unkindness to, and neglect of his family, he would rarely
return from his voluntary visits at the tavern, without bringing home
something. A few pounds of sugar to-day, some cheese or fish
to-morrow, or some dried fruit on the day after. The excuse, that
such and such a thing was wanted, was often made to get away to the
public house, and thus scarcely a day passed without a dollar or two
being entered against him on the books of the smiling landlord.
When the spring opened, and his bill was made out, much to his
surprise, he found his account to be one hundred and fifty dollars!
After some two or three weeks' pondering on the matter, during which
time he was cross and sulky at home, two fine cows and one of his
best horses were quietly transferred from his pasture to the more
capacious one of the landlord of the "White Hall;" and thus his
account was squared with Boniface.
The discouragement consequent upon such a reduction of his stock,
tended to make him less industrious and less pleasant. He was
constantly grumbling about his expensive family, and could not afford
to send his two oldest children to a school just opened in the
neighbourhood, although the master offered to take them both for five
dollars a quarter. His wife, he said, could teach them at home. And in
this she was not neglectful, as far as her time allowed.
How rarely does the drunkard, when once fairly started, stop in his
downward course! How similar is the history of each one! Neglect of
business—neglect of family—confirmed idleness—abuse of
family—waste of property—and finally, abject poverty.
In less than three years from the day on which he breathed the air
again as a free man—free, through the untiring assiduity of his
neglected but faithful wife, he struck her to the ground, and
unregardful of all the ties of nature, left her alone with her
children, in the wilds of the west, after having made over house and
farm to the land lord of the "White Hall," for fifty dollars and his
bill at the bar.
Day after day did his poor wife wait and look for him to return,
until even hope failed, and she at last, with a heavy heart,
commenced the task of recalling her own energies in aid of the little
ones around her.
But she soon found her condition to be far worse than she had
imagined. But a few days passed after her husband had left her before
the hard-hearted tavern-keeper came, and removed everything but the
house in which she lived from off the place, and then gave her notice
that she must also remove, and in three weeks, as he had rented the
farm to a man who wished to take immediate possession.
Hope, the kind and ever attendant angel of the distressed, for more
than a week seemed ready to depart; but at the end of that time, a
faint desire to return to her native city began to grow into a
resolution, and by the time a second week had passed away, she had
fully resolved to set out upon the journey.
But she had only twenty dollars, after disposing of the few things
their rapacious creditor had left them, and with this she had to go a
journey of nearly five hundred miles, with three children, the oldest
about twelve years of age. But when once her mind is made up, there
are few things a resolute mother will not undertake for her children.
By persevering in her applications, day after day, to the wagoners
on the national road, she at length so far prevailed on one of them
as to let her and her children ride as far as Zanesville, for the
trifle of a dollar or two, in his wagon.
In the true spirit of success, she looked only at the present
difficulty, reserving thought and attention for all succeeding
difficulties, whenever they might come. In this spirit she cut
herself loose from her place in the west, and started for—utterly
unable to say how she should ever reach the desired spot.
For the first day or two, the wagoner held no conversation with
her; he had been unable to resist the promptings of his kind feelings
in favour of one who had asked him for aid, although he had much
rather not have given her a place in his wagon. By degrees, however,
his temper changed, and he occasionally asked a question, or made a
passing remark; and by the time he had reached Zanesville, he had
become so interested in her case, that he refused to take the
stipulated price, and kindly offered to carry her as far as Wheeling,
and to—, if he found it to his interest to go there.
The way thus providentially opened for her, few obstacles remained,
and in the course of a few weeks she found herself again in the home
of her childhood, the dear spot that had lived in her memory, green
and inviting, for years.
But how changed was the poor sufferer! But a very few dollars of
her money was left. The fatigue of travel. ling so long and in so
uncomfortable a manner, had gradually shaken the props of a feeble
body; and by the time she looked again upon the old, familiar places,
her form was drooping with sickness.
Slowly she descended from the wagon, received her children, one by
one, from the hands of the wagoner, thanked him with a tearful look,
and tottered away. But where could she go? She had neither home, nor
money, nor friends—was sick and faint. Years before, she had tripped
lightly along the very street through which she now dragged her weary
limbs. She even passed by the same house, and heard the light laughter
of thoughtless voices, from the same window from which she had once
looked forth in earlier years, a joyful and light-hearted creature.
How familiar did that dear spot seem! but how agonizing the contrast
that forced itself upon her! Little did the merry maiden who looked
out upon the pale mother, with drooping form and soiled garments, who
gazed up so earnestly towards her, imagine, that but a few years
before, that poor creature looked forth from that same window, a
Scarcely able to act or decide rationally, for her head ached
intensely, and she was burning with fever, Mrs. Warburton wandered
about the streets with her three children, one a boy about twelve
years old, the other a little girl about nine, and the third, a
little one tottering by her side, scarce two years old. All at once,
as she turned her steps into—street, her eye caught sight of the
tall poplars that indicated the home of the homeless. "I have no home
but this," she murmured to herself, and turned her steps instinctively
towards the dark mass of buildings that stood near the present
"Where is your permit?" said the keeper, as she falteringly asked
"I have none," was the faint reply.
"We cannot take you, unless you bring a permit from one of the
"I don't know any commissioner."
"Where are you from?"
"I have just come to town from the west, and am too sick to do
anything. I feel faint, and unable to go farther. Can you not admit
me, and let application be made to the commissioners for me?"
The appearance of Mrs. Warburton too plainly indicated her sick
condition, and the keeper thought it best to admit her for the
present. A meeting of the commissioners was held on the same
afternoon, and a formal admission given.
The first indication that Mrs. W. had, that she was no longer at
liberty to choose or think for herself, was the entire separation of
her children from her. True, she was soon too ill to attend to them,
but that would have made no difference. After a dangerous illness of
many weeks, during most of which time she was insensible to
everything around her, she was again able to droop about a little.
Her first questions, after the healthy reaction of body and mind,
were about her children; her first request, to see them. But this was
denied. "They are doing well enough," was all the answer she could
"But cannot I see Emma, my little one? Do let me see her!"
"It is contrary to the rules of the institution. You cannot see her
"When can I see her?"
"I don't know,"—and the nurse of the sick woman left her and went
to attend somewhere else, utterly insensible to the keen agony of the
mother's heart. Was she not a pauper? What right had she to human
feelings? But a mother's love is not to be chained down to rules, or
circumscribed by the narrow policy of chartered expediency. As Mrs.
Warburton slowly gained strength, a quicker perception of her
situation grew upon her, and she soon determined to know all about her
children. In vain had she asked to see them; but each denial only
increased the desire, and confirmed her resolutions to see them and
know all about them.
One day, when she could walk about a little, a day on which she
knew the board of commissioners were in session, she watched her
opportunity, and when the nurse was attending in another part of the
room, stole quietly out, and soon made her way to the commissioners'
"Gentlemen, a mother asks your indulgence," was her appeal, as the
keeper checked her entrance.
"Let her enter, Mr.—," said one of them.
"What is your wish, good woman?" continued the first speaker.
"I want to see my children."
Her voice was so low and mournful, and her pale face, which still
retained many traces of former beauty, expressed so strongly her
maternal anxiety, that the hearts of all were touched.
They looked at each other for a few moments, and after some
whispered words, directed that she should be allowed to see her
children for half an hour each day.
The keeper now called their attention to certain of their
proceedings, some weeks past, and they found that places had been
obtained for two of them, the oldest boy, and the little girl, scarce
ten years old.
"We have obtained good places for two of your children, madam; the
other, aged two years, you can have under your own care, while here."
"And all without allowing me one word, as to who should take them,
or where they should go! My poor little Mary, what can you do as a
"They are well provided for, madam. You can now retire."
Mrs. Warburton did retire, and with a bleeding heart. Her little
Emma was restored to her, and was constantly by her side. She had
been two months in the alms-house, when she was strong enough to
work, and by a rule of he place, she had to work two months, to pay
for her keeping while sick, before she would be allowed to go out,
and maintain herself.
Slowly and heavily passed the hours for two weary months, when she
presented herself for a release from imprisonment.
"Where can I find my children?" she asked of the keeper, as she was
about to leave.
"It is against the rule to give any such information in regard to
pauper children. And in this particular instance, it was the request
of both persons taking your children, that you should not be told
where they were, as they wished to raise them without being troubled
by foreign influence."
The mother attempted no remonstrance, but turned away, and
homeless, and almost penniless, leading her little one by the hand,
again entered the city where her happiest years had been spent.
As she passed down a street, she saw on the door of an old brick
house, the words "A room to let." She made application, and engaged
it, at two dollars a month. A pine table, and an old chair, she
bought at a second-hand furniture store for a dollar; and with the
other dollar she had left, the pittance saved from the twenty dollars
she had when she left Ohio, she bought some bread, dried meat, milk,
She had no bed, and was for some time compelled to sleep with her
child on the hard floor.
The art of making cigars, which she had learned years before, and
which had more than once stood between her and want, was again
brought into use. She applied at a tobacconist's, and obtained work.
Giving all diligence, day and night, she was able to make five or six
dollars every week, with which, in a short time, she gathered a few
comfortable things about her, among which was a bed.
Two months had passed since she left the alms-house, and still she
could gain no tidings of her children. Daily, for an hour or two, had
she made search for them, but in the only way she could devise, that
of wandering about the streets, in hopes of finding them out on some
errand. As the winter drew on, she became more and more anxious and
concerned. If her little girl, who was always a delicate child, should
be in unkind hands, she sickened at heart to think how much she would
suffer. Night after night would she dream of the dear child; and
always saw her in some condition of extreme hardship.
One night she thought she saw little Mary sitting on the
curb-stone. She went up to her, and dreaming that it was very cold,
found her bare-foot, thinly clad, and almost perishing. The child
threw her little arms, naked and icy cold about her neck, and as her
well-known voice sounded in her ears, she awoke.
She slept no more through that night, and soon after breakfast,
started out, being unable, through the uneasiness of her mind, to
work. Without questioning the reason why, she naturally wandered in
the direction indicated in her dream. When near the place, she was
startled by the piercing screams of a child that seemed in great
agony, and there was entreaty and supplication mingled in the tones.
The voice was like the voice of her own child. She knew it was her
own child; a mother's ear is never deceived. Darting towards the
spot, she found a bucket of hot water spilled upon the pavement, from
which the vapour was rising in a cloud, and glancing her eye down the
alley, she saw her little one half-dragged, half-carried, by the arm,
by a tall, masculine woman, who seemed in a violent rage. Following
like the wind, she reached the dwelling of the virago as she entered
and dashed the child upon the floor. Just as Mrs. Warburton came up,
and was lifting it, the woman had obtained a stout cow-hide, and was
turning to lacerate the back of the little one, as she had often done
before, her face red and expressing the most wicked passions.
At once Mrs. Warburton felt that only in retreat was their safety,
and catching up the child in her arms, she darted out as quickly as
she had entered. Not more swiftly, however, did she go, than followed
the enraged woman to whom this child of nine years old had been bound
to do the work of a woman. Finding herself gained upon by the person
in pursuit, she looked about for a place of retreat, and seeing
"Magistrate's Office" on a sign, she darted into that lower court of
justice. Here she was safe from molestation, until some decision was
made in the case, by those deputed to act. A crowd soon gathered
about, attracted by the strange sight of a woman flying with a child
in her arms, and another in hot pursuit. The magistrate, who was a
humane man, and held his office in a part of his dwelling,
instinctively perceived that the mother and her child needed kindness
and consideration, and had them, after examination, removed back into
his dwelling, and placed under the care of his wife, while he entered
more fully into the merits of the case.
When Mrs. Warburton was sufficiently at ease to examine her child,
she found her a pitiable object indeed. Her face, neck, and body were
dreadfully scalded, and her back was in scars and welts all over, and
in some places with the skin broken and festering. It appeared, from
the statement of the child, that the woman she lived with had placed
on her head a bucket of scalding water for her to carry to a store,
which she was going to scrub out. The heavy weight on her head caused
her to lose her balance and fall, when the whole contents of the
bucket were spilled over her face and neck, and penetrated through her
clothes to the skin, in all directions.
Of course, she was suffering the most excruciating pain. Medical
aid was called in by the magistrate, and every attention extended to
the little sufferer, who seemed to forget her pain in the
consciousness of her mother's presence. The inhuman wretch who had
thus brutally maltreated a mere child, enraged to a state of insanity
in finding herself thwarted in obtaining the child, made an appeal to
the city court, then in session, and had all the parties present. It
needed but this to give Mrs. W. uncontrolled possession of little
Mary. The condition in which the court found the child, added to the
touching story of her mother, caused an instant cancelling of the
indenture by which the unfeeling woman claimed possession of her.
In a few days after, Mrs. Warburton found her boy, who, much to her
satisfaction, had a good place, with which he was pleased, and was
learning a good trade. She was now fairly started again, and as her
spirits revived, her health became much improved. Month after month
passed away, and brought with it new sources of comfort, new causes
for satisfaction. Of her husband, she now thought with no affection.
It is true, earlier feelings would sometimes return, but with no
force, and after moving the waters of her quiet spirit for a moment,
would tremble into rest.
When a man once extinguishes his own self-respect, he is a burden
to society. But when a husband and father descends so low, he becomes
a curse to his family. After abusing them, and making their condition
so wretched that even he cannot share it, he will forsake the wife of
his bosom and the children of his early love, and leave them to the
tender mercies of strangers. But let the mother gather her little ones
around her, and by toiling early and late, make their condition
comfortable, and the brutalized wretch will return and consume the
food of his children, and abuse them if they complain.
A year had passed away, when early one evening in the fall of the
year, a man pushed open the door of the room she occupied, and with a
"well Julia," took a chair, and made himself at home without further
ceremony. Though dirty and ragged, with a beard of a week's growth,
and half drunk, Mrs. Warburton could not mistake the form of her
"O, husband! can this be you?"
"Yes, Julia, this is me. I've come back at last. I've tried hard to
make something for you and the children, but it is no use, fate is
against me; so here I am again, poor as ever. But give me something
to eat, for I'm hungry as a badger."
Six years had passed away since Warburton had returned, and the
wretchedness which had been with him in his absence, he brought as an
abiding guest to the dwelling of his wife. During that time, she had
endured sickness, hunger, abuse, and been nigh unto death; but through
it all she had come with a heart still unsubdued, though almost
broken. For her children's sakes, two more of whom had been added in
that time, she had stood up and breasted the storm.
At last, her miserable husband, sunk in the lowest depths of
drunkenness and degradation, died, as he had lived. It was the dawn
of a brighter day for Mrs. Warburton when the spirit of her husband
took its flight to the world of spirits. Her son was nearly free from
his trade, and her oldest girl could assist her greatly in the house,
as well as by earning something for their support.
Content and health having taken up their abode with her, we will
leave her to fill up her allotted space in life unobtrusively and
peacefully. The story of Mrs. Warburton has been introduced as
another illustration of the ill effects which so often arise from the
want of watchfulness on the part of parents, in regard to the
characters of the young men who are allowed to visit and play upon
the affections of their daughters. It also shows how unconquerable is
a mother's love. Here a weak, foolish girl, by strong trial, becomes a
woman with a strength of mind that nothing can subdue, and, as a
mother, overcomes difficulties from which most men would shrink in