The Iron Will by T. S. Arthur
"FANNY! I've but one word more to say on the subject. If you marry
that fellow, I'll have nothing to do with you. I've said it; and you
may be assured that I'll adhere to my determination."
Thus spoke, with a frowning brow and a stern voice, the father of
Fanny Crawford, while the maiden sat with eyes bent upon the floor.
"He's a worthless, good-for-nothing fellow," resumed the father;
"And if you marry him, you wed a life of misery. Don't come back to
me, for I will disown you the day you take his name. I've said it,
and my decision is unalterable."
Still Fanny made no answer, but sat like a statue.
"Lay to heart what I have said, and make your election, girl." And
with these words, Mr. Crawford retired from the presence of his
On that evening Fanny Crawford left her father's house, and was
secretly married to a young man named Logan, whom, spite of all his
faults, she tenderly loved.
When this fact became known to Mr. Crawford, he angrily repeated
his threat of utterly disowning his child; and he meant what he
said—for he was a man of stern purpose and unbending will. When
trusting to the love she believed him to bear for her, Fanny ventured
home, she was rudely repulsed, and told that she no longer had a
father. These cruel words fell upon her heart and ever after rested
there, an oppressive weight.
Logan was a young mechanic, with a good trade and the ability to
earn a comfortable living. But Mr. Crawford's objection to him was
well founded, and it would have been better for Fanny if she had
permitted it to influence her; for the young man was idle in his
habits, and Mr. Crawford too clearly saw that idleness would lead to
dissipation. The father had hoped that his threat to disown his child
would have deterred her from taking the step he so strongly
disapproved. He had, in fact, made this threat as a last effort to
save her from a union that would, inevitably, lead to unhappiness.
But having made it, his stubborn and offended pride caused him to
adhere with stern inflexibility to his word.
When Fanny went from under her father's roof, the old man was left
alone. The mother of his only child had been many years dead. For her
father's sake, as well as for her own, did Fanny wish to return. She
loved her parents with a most earnest affection, and thought of him as
sitting gloomy and companionless in that home so long made light and
cheerful by her voice and smile. Hours and hours would she lie awake
at night, thinking of her father, and weeping for the estrangement of
his heart from her. Still there was in her bosom an ever living hope
that he would relent. And to this she clung, though he passed her in
the street without looking at her, and steadily denied her admission,
when, in the hope of some change in his stern purpose, she would go to
his house and seek to gain an entrance.
As the father had predicted, Logan added, in the course of a year
or two, dissipation to idle habits and neglect of his wife to both.
They had gone to housekeeping in a small way, when first married, and
had lived comfortably enough for some time. But Logan did not like
work, and made every excuse he could find to take a holiday, or be
absent from the shop. The effect of this was, an insufficient income.
Debt came with its mortifying and (sic) harrassing accompaniments, and
furniture had to be sold to pay those who were not disposed to wait.
With two little children, Fanny was removed by her husband into a
cheap boarding-house, after their things were taken and sold. The
company into which she was here thrown, was far from being agreeable;
but this would have been no source of unhappiness in itself.
Cheerfully would she have breathed the uncongenial atmosphere, if
there had been nothing in the conduct of her husband to awaken
feelings of anxiety. But, alas! there was much to create unhappiness
here. Idle days were more frequent; and the consequences of idle days
more and more serious. From his work, he would come home sober and
cheerful; but after spending a day in idle company, or in the woods
gunning, a sport of which he was fond, he would meet his wife with a
sullen, dissatisfied aspect, and, too often, in a state little above
"I'm afraid thy son-in-law is not doing very well, friend
Crawford," said a plain-spoken Quaker to the father of Mrs. Logan,
after the young man's habits began to show themselves too plainly in
Mr. Crawford knit his brows, and drew his lips closely together.
"Has thee seen young Logan lately?"
"I don't know the young man," replied Mr. Crawford, with an
impatient motion of his head.
"Don't know thy own son-in-law! The husband of thy daughter!"
"I have no son-in-law! No daughter!" said Crawford, with stern
"Frances was the daughter of thy wedded wife, friend Crawford."
"But I have disowned her. I forewarned her of the consequences if
she married that young man. I told her that I would cast her off for
ever; and I have done it."
"But, friend Crawford, thee has done wrong."
"I've said it, and I'll stick to it."
"But thee has done wrong, friend Crawford," repeated the Quaker.
"Right or wrong, it is done, and I will not recall the act. I gave
her fair warning; but she took her own course, and now she must abide
the consequences. When I say a thing, I mean it; I never eat my
"Friend Crawford," said the Quaker, in a steady voice and with his
calm eyes fixed upon the face of the man he addressed. "Thee was
wrong to say what thee did. Thee had no right to cast off thy child.
I saw her to-day, passing slowly along the street. Her dress was thin
and faded; but not so thin and faded as her pale, young face. Ah! if
thee could have seen the sadness of that countenance. Friend Crawford!
she is thy child still. Thee cannot disown her."
"I never change," replied the resolute father.
"She is the child of thy beloved wife, now in heaven, friend
"Good morning!" and Crawford turned and walked away.
"Rash words are bad enough," said the Quaker to himself, "but how
much worse is it to abide by rash words, after there has been time
for reflection and repentance!"
Crawford was troubled by what the Quaker said; but more troubled by
what he saw a few minutes afterwards, as he walked along the street,
in the person of his daughter's husband. He met the young man,
supported by two others—so much intoxicated that he could not stand
alone. And in this state he was going home to his wife—to Fanny!
The father clenched his hands, set his teeth firmly together,
muttered an imprecation upon the head of Logan, and quickened his
pace homeward. Try as he would, he could not shut out from his mind
the pale, faded countenance of his child, as described by the Quaker,
nor help feeling an inward shudder at the thought of what she must
suffer on meeting her husband in such a state.
"She has only herself to blame," he said, as he struggled with his
feelings. "I forewarned her; I gave her to understand clearly what
she had to expect. My word is passed. I have said it; and that ends
the matter. I am no childish trifler. What I say, I mean."
Logan had been from home all day, and, what was worse, had not
been, as his wife was well aware, at the shop for a week. The woman
with whom they were boarding, came into her room during the afternoon,
and, after some hesitation and embarrassment, said—
"I am sorry to tell you, Mrs. Logan that I shall want you to give
up your room, after this week. You know I have had no money from you
for nearly a month, and, from the way your husband goes on, I see
little prospect of being paid any thing more. If I was able, for your
sake, I would not say a word. But I am not, Mrs. Logan, and therefore
must, in justice to myself and family, require you to get another
Mrs. Logan answered only with tears. The woman tried to soften what
she had said, and then went away.
Not long after this, Logan came stumbling up the stairs, and
opening the door of his room, staggered in and threw himself heavily
upon the bed. Fanny looked at him a few moments, and then crouching
down, and covering her face with her hands, wept long and bitterly.
She felt crushed and powerless. Cast off by her father, wronged by her
husband, destitute and about to be thrust from the poor home into
which she had shrunk: faint and weary, it seemed as if hope were gone
forever. While she suffered thus, Logan lay in a drunken sleep.
Arousing herself at last, she removed his boots and coat, drew a
pillow under his head, and threw a coverlet over him. She then sat
down and wept again. The tea bell rung, but she did not go to the
table. Half an hour afterwards, the landlady came to the door and
kindly inquired if she would not have some food sent up to her room.
"Only a little bread and milk for Henry," was replied.
"Let me send you a cup of tea," urged the woman.
"No, thank you. I don't wish any thing to night."
The woman went away, feeling troubled. From her heart she pitied
the suffering young creature, and it had cost her a painful struggle
to do what she had done. But the pressing nature of her own
circumstances required her to be rigidly just. Notwithstanding Mrs.
Logan had declined having any thing, she sent her a cup of tea and
something to eat. But they remained untasted.
On the next morning Logan was sober, and his wife informed him of
the notice which their landlady had given. He was angry, and used
harsh language towards the woman. Fanny defended her, and had the
harsh language transferred to her own head.
The young man appeared as usual at the breakfast table, but Fanny
had no appetite for food, and did not go down. After breakfast, Logan
went to the shop, intending to go to work; but found his place
supplied by another journeyman, and himself thrown out of employment,
with but a single dollar in his pocket, a months boarding due, and his
family in need of almost every comfort. From the shop he went to a
tavern, took a glass of liquor, and sat down to look over the
newspapers, and think what he should do. There he met an idle
journeyman, who, like himself, had lost his situation. A fellow
feeling made them communicative and confidential.
"If I was only a single man," said Logan, "I wouldn't care, I could
easily shift for myself."
"Wife and children! Yes, there's the rub," returned the companion.
"A journeyman mechanic is a fool to get married."
"Then you and I are both fools," said Logan.
"No doubt of it. I came to that conclusion, in regard to myself,
long and long ago. Sick wife, hungry children, and four or five backs
to cover; no wonder a poor man's nose is ever on the grindstone. For
my part, I am sick of it. When I was a single man, I could go where I
pleased, and do what I pleased; and I always had money in my pocket.
Now I am tied down to one place, and grumbled at eternally; and if you
were to shake me from here to the Navy Yard, you wouldn't get a
sixpence out of me. The fact is, I'm sick of it."
"So am I. But what is to be done? I don't believe I can get work in
"I know you can't. But there is plenty of work and good wages to be
had in Charleston or New Orleans."
Logan did not reply; but looked intently into his companion's face.
"I'm sure my wife would be a great deal better off if I were to
clear out and leave her. She has plenty of friends, and they'll not
see her want."
Logan still looked at his fellow journeyman.
"And your wife would be taken back under her father's roof, where
there is enough and to spare. Of course she would be happier than she
"No doubt of that. The old rascal has treated her shabbily enough.
But I am well satisfied that if I were out of the way he would gladly
receive her back again."
"Of this there can be no question. So, it is clear, that with our
insufficient incomes, our presence is a curse rather than a blessing
to our families."
Logan readily admitted this to be true. His companion then drew a
newspaper towards him, and after running his eyes over it for a few
"This day, at twelve o'clock, the copper fastened brig Emily, for
Charleston. For freight or passage, apply on board."
"There's a chance for us," he said, as he finished reading the
advertisement. "Let us go down and see if they won't let us work our
Logan sat thoughtful a moment, and than said, as he arose to his
"Agreed. It'll be the best thing for us, as well as for our
When the Emily sailed, at twelve o'clock, the two men were on
Days came and passed, until the heart of Mrs. Logan grew sick with
anxiety, fear and suspense. No word was received from her absent
husband. She went to his old employer, and learned that he had been
discharged; but she could find no one who had heard of him since that
time. Left thus alone, with two little children, and no apparent means
of support, Mrs. Logan, when she became at length clearly satisfied
that he for whom she had given up every thing, had heartlessly
abandoned her, felt as if there was no hope for her in the world.
"Go to your father by all means," urged the woman with whom she was
still boarding. "Now that your husband has gone, he will receive
"I cannot," was Fanny's reply.
"But what will you do?" asked the woman.
"Work for my children," she replied, arousing herself and speaking
with some resolution. "I have hands to work, and I am willing to
"Much better go home to your father," said the woman.
"That is impossible. He has disowned me. Has ceased to love me or
care for me. I cannot go to him again; for I could not bear, as I am
now, another harsh repulse. No—no—I will work with my own hands.
God will help me to provide for my children."
In this spirit the almost heart-broken young woman for whom the
boarding-house keeper felt more than a common interest—an interest
that would not let her thrust her out from the only place she could
call her home—sought for work and was fortunate enough to obtain
sewing from two or three families, and was thus enabled to pay a
light board for herself and children. But incessant toil with her
needle, continued late at night and resumed early in the morning,
gradually undermined her health, which had become delicate, and
weariness and pain became the constant companions of her labor.
Sometimes in carrying her work home, the forsaken wife would have
to pass the old home of her girlhood, and twice she saw her father at
the window. But either she was changed so that he did not know his
child; or he would not bend from his stern resolution to disown her.
On these two occasions she was unable, on returning, to resume her
work. Her fingers could not hold or guide the needle; nor could she,
from the blinding tears that; filled her eyes have seen to sew, even
if her hands had lost the tremor that ran through every nerve of her
A year had rolled wearily by since Logan went off, and still no
word had come from the absent husband. Labor beyond her bodily
strength, and trouble and grief that were too severe for her spirit to
bear, had done sad work upon the forsaken wife and disowned child. She
was but a shadow of her former self.
Mr. Crawford had been very shy of the old Quaker, who had spoken so
plainly to him; but his words made some impression on him, though no
one would have supposed so, as there was no change in his conduct
towards his daughter. He had forewarned her of the consequences, if
she acted in opposition to his wishes. He had told her that he would
disown her forever. She had taken her own way, and, painful as it was
to him, he had to keep his word—his word that had ever been
inviolate. He might forgive her; he might pity her; but she must
remain a stranger. Such a direct and flagrant act of disobedience to
his wishes was not to be forgotten nor forgiven. Thus, in stubborn
pride, did his hard heart confirm itself in its cold and cruel
estrangement. Was he happy? No! Did he forget his child? No. He
thought of her and dreamed of her, day after day, and night after
night. But-he had said it, and he would stick to it! His pride was
unbending as iron.
Of the fact that the husband of Fanny had gone off and left her
with two children to provide for with the labor of her hands, he had
been made fully aware, but it did not bend him from his stern purpose.
"She is nothing to me," was his impatient reply to the one who
informed him of the fact. This was all that could be seen. But his
heart trembled at the intelligence. (sic) Neverthless, he stood
coldly aloof month after month, and even repulsed, angrily, the kind
landlady with whom Fanny boarded, who had attempted, all unknown to
the daughter, to awaken sympathy for her in her father's heart.
One day the old Friend, whose plain words had not pleased Mr.
Crawford, met that gentleman near his own door. The Quaker was
leading a little boy by the hand. Mr. Crawford bowed, and evidently
wished to pass on; but the Quaker paused, and said—
"I should like to have a few words with thee, friend Crawford."
"Well, say on."
"Thee is known as a benevolent man, friend Crawford. Thee never
refuses, it is said, to do a deed of charity."
"I always give something when I am sure the object is deserving."
"So I am aware. Do you see this little boy?"
Mr. Crawford glanced down at the child the Quaker held by the hand.
As he did so, the child lifted to him a gentle face, with mild
earnest loving eyes.
"It is a sweet little fellow," said Mr. Crawford, reaching his hand
to the child. He spoke with some feeling, for there was a look about
the boy that went to his heart.
"He is, indeed, a sweet child—and the image of his poor, sick,
almost heart-broken mother, for whom I am trying to awaken an
interest. She has two children, and this one is the oldest. Her
husband is dead, or what may be as bad, perhaps worse, as far as she
is concerned, dead to her; and she does not seem to have a relative
in the world, at least none who thinks about or cares for her. In
trying to provide for her children, she has overtasked her delicate
frame, and made herself sick. Unless something is done for her, a
worse thing must follow. She must go to the Alms-house, and be
separated from her children. Look into the sweet, innocent face of
this dear child, and let your heart say whether he ought to be taken
from his mother. If she have a woman's feelings, must she not love
this child tenderly; and can any one supply to him his mother's
"I will do something for her, certainly," Mr. Crawford said.
"I wish thee would go with me to see her."
"There is no use in that. My seeing her can do no good. Get all you
can for her, and then come to me. I will help in the good work
cheerfully," replied Mr. Crawford.
"That is thy dwelling, I believe," said the Quaker, looking around
at a house adjoining the one before which they stood.
"Yes, that is my house," returned Crawford.
"Will thee take this little boy in with thee, and keep him for a
few minutes, while I go to see a friend some squares off?"
"Oh, certainly. Come with me, dear!" And Mr. Crawford held out his
hand to the child, who took it without hesitation.
"I will see thee in a little while," said the Quaker, as he turned
The boy, who was plainly, but very neatly dressed, was about four
years old. He had a more than usually attractive face; and an earnest
look out of his mild eyes, that made every one who saw him his friend.
"What is your name, my dear?" asked Mr. Crawford, as he sat down in
his parlor, and took the little fellow upon his knee.
"Henry," replied the child. He spoke with distinctness; and, as he
spoke, there was a sweet expression of the lips and eyes, that was
"It is Henry, is it?"
"What else besides Henry?"
The boy did not reply, for he had fixed his eyes upon a picture
that hung over the mantle, and was looking at it intently. The eyes of
Mr. Crawford followed those of the child, that rested, he found, on
the portrait of his daughter.
"What else besides, Henry?" he repeated.
"Henry Logan," replied the child, looking for a moment into the
face of Mr. Crawford, and then turning to gaze at the picture on the
wall. Every nerve quivered in the frame of that man of iron will. The
falling of a bolt from a sunny sky could not have startled and
surprised him more. He saw in the face of the child, the moment be
looked at him, something strangely familiar and attractive. What it
was, he did not, until this instant, comprehend. But it was no longer
"Do you know who I am?" he asked, in a subdued voice, after he had
recovered, to some extent, his feelings.
The child looked again into his face, but longer and more
earnestly. Then, without answering, he turned and looked at the
portrait on the wall.
"Do you know who I am, dear?" repeated Mr. Crawford.
"No, sir," replied the child; and then again turned to gaze upon
"Who is that?" and Mr. Crawford pointed to the object that so fixed
the little boy's attention.
"My mother." And as he said these words, he laid his head down upon
the bosom of his unknown relative, and shrunk close to him, as if
half afraid because of the mystery that, in his infantile mind, hung
around the picture on the wall.
Moved by an impulse that he could not restrain, Mr. Crawford drew
his arms around the child and hugged him to his bosom. Pride gave
way; the iron will was bent; the sternly uttered vow was forgotten.
There is power for good in the presence of a little child. Its sphere
of innocence subdues and renders impotent the evil spirits that rule
in the hearts of selfish men. It was so in this case. Mr. Crawford
might have withstood the moving appeal of even his daughter's
presence, changed by grief, labor, and suffering, as she was. But his
anger, upon which he had suffered the sun to go down, fled before her
artless, confiding, innocent child. He thought not of Fanny—as the
wilful woman, acting from the dictate of her own passions or feelings;
but as a little child, lying upon his bosom—as a little child,
singing and dancing around him—as a little child, with, to him, the
face of a cherub; and the sainted mother of that innocent one by her
When the Friend came for the little boy; Mr. Crawford said to him,
in a low voice—made low to hide his emotion—
"I will keep the child."
"From its mother?"
"No. Bring the mother, and the other child. I have room for them
A sunny smile passed over the benevolent countenance of the Friend
as he hastily left the room.
Mrs. Logan, worn down by exhausting labor, had at last been forced
to give up. When she did give up, every long strained nerve of mind
and body instantly relaxed; and she became almost as weak and
helpless as an infant. While in this state, she was accidentally
discovered by the kind-hearted old Friend, who, without her being
aware of what he was going to do, made his successful attack upon her
father's feelings. He trusted to nature and a good cause, and did not
trust in vain.
"Come, Mrs. Logan," said the kind woman, with whom Fariny was still
boarding, an hour or so after little Henry had been dressed up to
take a walk—where, (sic) the the mother did not know or think,—"the
good Friend, who was here this morning, says you must ride out. He has
brought a carriage for you, It will do you good, I know. He is very
kind. Come, get yourself ready."
Mrs. Logan was lying upon her bed.
"I do not feel able to get up," she replied. "I do not wish to ride
"Oh, yes, you must go. The pure, fresh air, and the change, will do
you more good than medicine. Come, Mrs. Logan; I will dress little
Julia for you. She needs the change as much as you do."
"Where is Henry?" asked the mother.
"He has not returned yet. But, come! The carriage is waiting at the
"Won't you go with me?"
"I would with pleasure—but I cannot leave home. I have so much to
After a good deal of persuasion, Fanny at length made the effort to
get herself ready to go out. She was so weak, that she tottered about
the floor like one intoxicated. But the woman with whom she lived,
assisted and encouraged her, until she was at length ready to go. Then
the Quaker came up to her room, and with the tenderness and care of a
father, supported her down stairs, and when she had taken her place in
the vehicle, entered, with her youngest child in his arms, and sat by
her side, speaking to her, as he did so, kind and encouraging words.
The carriage was driven slowly, for a few squares, and then
stopped. Scarcely had the motion ceased, when the door was suddenly
opened, and Mr. Crawford stood before his daughter.
"My poor child!" he said, in a tender, broken voice, as Fanny,
overcome by his unexpected appearance, sunk forward into his arms.
When the suffering young creature opened her eyes again, she was
upon her own bed, in her own room, in her old home. Her father sat by
her side, and held one of her hands tightly. There were tears in his
eyes, and he tried to speak; but, though his lips moved, there came
from them no articulate sound.
"Do you forgive me, father? Do you love me, father?" said Fanny, in
a tremulous whisper, half rising from her pillow, and looking
eagerly, almost agonizingly, into her father's face.
"I have nothing to forgive," murmured the father, as he drew his
daughter towards him, so that her head could lie against his bosom.
"But do you love me, father? Do you love me as of old?" said the
He bent down and kissed her; and now the tears fell from his eyes
and lay warm and glistening upon her face.
"As of old," he murmured, laying his cheek down upon that of his
child, and clasping her more tightly in his arms. The long pent up
waters of affection were rushing over his soul and obliterating the
marks of pride, anger, and the iron will that sustained them in their
cruel dominion. He was no longer a strong man, stern and rigid in his
purpose; but a child, with a loving and tender heart.
There was light again in his dwelling; not the bright light of
other times; for now the rays were mellowed. But it was light. And
there was music again; not so joyful; but it was music, and its spell
over his heart was deeper and its influence more elevating.
The man with the iron will and stern purpose was subdued, and the
power that subdued him, was the presence of a little child.