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The Rum-Seller's Dream by T. S. Arthur

 

"HOW much have you taken in to-day, Sandy?" asked a modern rum-seller of his bar-tender, after the doors and windows of his attractive establishment were closed for the night.

"Only about a dollar, Mr. Graves. I never saw such dull times in my life."

"Only about a dollar! Too bad! too bad! I shall be ruined at this rate."

"I really don't know what ails the people now. But 'spose it's these blamenation temperance folks that's doin' all the mischief."

"We must get up something new, Sandy;—something to draw attention to our house."

"So I've been a thinkin'. Can't we get George Washington Dixon to walk a plank for us? That would draw crowds, you know; and then every feller almost that we got in here would take a drink."

"We can't get him, Sandy. He's secured over at the—. But, any how, the people are getting up to that kind of humbuggery; and I'm afraid, that, like the Indian's gun, it would cost in the end more than it came to."

"Couldn't we get a maremaid?"

"A mermaid?"

"Yes, a maremaid. You know they had one in town t'other day. It would be a prime move, if we could only do it. We might fix her up here, just back of where I stand, so that every feller who called to see it would have to come up to the bar, front-face. There'd be no backing out then, you know, without ponying up for a drink. No one would be mean enough, after seeing a real maremaid for nothing, to go away without shelling out a fip for a glass of liquor."

"Nonsense, Sandy! Where are we to get a mermaid?"

"Where did they get that one from?"

"That was brought from Japan; and was a monkey's head and body sewed on to a fish's tail,—so they say;"

"Well, can't we send to Japan as well as any one? And as to its being a monkey's head on a fish's tail, that's no concern. It would only make a better gull-trap."

"And wait some two years before it arrived? Humph! If that's the only thing that will save me, I shall go to the dogs in spite of the—"

"Don't swear, Mr. Graves. It's a bad habit, though I am guilty of it myself,"—the bar-tender said, with vulgar familiarity. "But, why need we wait two years for a maremaid?"

"Did you ever study geography, Sandy?"

"Jografy?"

"Yes."

"What's that?"

"Why, the maps, at school."

"I warn't never to school."

"Then you don't know how far Japan is from here?"

"Not exactly. But 'spose it's some twenty or thirty miles."

"Twenty or thirty miles! It's t'other side of the world!"

"O, dear! Then we can't get a maremaid, after all. But 'spose we try and get a live snake."

"That won't do."

"Why not?"

"A live snake is no great curiosity."

"Yes, but you know we could call it some outlandish name; or say that it was dug up fifty feet below the ground, out of a solid rock, and was now all alive and doin' well."

"It wouldn't do, Sandy."

"Now I think it would, prime."

"It might if these temperance folks were not so confounded thick about here, interfering with a man and preventing him making an honest living. If it wasn't for them, I should be clearing five or ten dollars a day, as easy as nothing."

"Confound them! I say," was Sandy's hearty response; while he clenched his fist, and ground his teeth together. "If I had a rope round the necks of every mother's son of 'em, wouldn't I serve 'em as old Julus Cesar did the Hottentots? Wouldn't I though! But what could they say or do about it, Mr. Graves."

"They'd pretty quick put it on to us in their temperance papers about the good device we had. They'd talk pretty fast about the serpent that seduced Eve, and all that. No, blast 'em! A snake won't do, Sandy."

"How will a monkey do?"

"A monkey might answer, if he was a little cuter than common. But we can't get one handy."

"Try a band of music."

"That would soon wear out; and then we should have to get up something else, and the people would suspect us of trying to gull them."

"Then what is to be done, Mr. Graves? We can never stand it at this rate."

"I'm sure I don't know." And the rum-seller leaned upon his bar, and looked quite sad and dejected.

"I wonder what has become of Bill Riley?" he at length asked, rising up with a sigh. "He hasn't been here for a week."

"Dick Hilton told me to-day that he believed he had joined the teetotallers."

"I feared as much. He was one of my very best customers; worth a clear dollar and a half a week to me, above the cost of the liquors, the year round. And Tom Jones? Where can he be?"

"Gone, too."

"Tom Jones?" in surprise.

"It's a fact. They got him on the same night Bill Riley was caught."

"Foolish fellow, to go and throw himself away in that style! Them temperance men will get from him every dollar he can earn, to build Temperance Halls, and get up processions, and buy clothes for lazy, loafing vagabonds, that had a great sight better be sent to the poorhouse. It is too bad. My very blood boils when I think what fools men are."

"And there's Harry Peters,—Dick Hilton told me that he'd gone, too."

"Not Harry Peters, surely!"

"Yes. He hasn't been near our house for several days.

"Well, something must be done to get up a new set of customers, or we are gone. We must invent some new drink."

"What shall it be?"

"O, that's no consequence. The name must be taking."

"Have you thought of one?"

"No, Can't you think of something?"

"Well—Let me see. But I'm sure I don't know what would do."

"What do you think of 'Bank Stock?' That would attract attention."

"I can't say that I like it."

"Or 'Greasers?'"

"Most too vulgar."

"So I think myself. Suppose we call it a 'Mummy?'"

"I'm afraid it wouldn't go. It ought to have 'Imperial,' or 'Nectar,' or something like that about it."

"O, yes, I see your notion. But they've all been used up long ago. It must be some entirely new name, which, at the same time, will hit a popular idea. As 'Tariff,' or 'Compromise.'"

"I see now. Well, can't you hammer out something?"

"I must try. Let me see. How will 'Sub-Treasury' do?"

"Capital! 'Graves' Sub-Treasury' will be just the thing. You see, the young-fellows will say—'Why, what kind of a new drink is this they've been getting up, down at the Harmony House?'

"'I don't know—What is it?'

"'The Sub-Treasury, they call it.'

"'Have you tried it yet?'

"'No.'

"'Well, come, let's give him a call. Novelty, you know, is the order of the day.'

"That's the way these matters work, Mr. Graves. But how are you going to make it?"

"I've not thought of that. But anything will do. Liquor tastes good to 'em any way you choose to fix it."

"True enough. You can leave that part to me. I'll hatch up something that will tickle as it goes down, and make 'em wish their throats were a mile long, that they might taste it all the way."

"Have you tried Graves' new drink yet, Joe?" asked one young man of another, a day or two after the conversation just noted took place.

"No.—What is it?"

"Sub-Treasury."

"Sub-Treasury? That must be something new. I wonder what it is?"

"I've just been wondering the same thing. Suppose we go down and try it."

"I was about swearing off from ever tasting another drop of liquor. But, I believe I will try a 'Sub-Treasury' with you, just for the fun of the thing."

"Well, come along then."

And so the two started off for the Harmony House.

"Give us a couple of Sub-Treasuries," said one of them as they entered; and forthwith a couple of glasses filled with mixed liquors, crushed ice, lemonpeel, and snow-white sugar, were prepared, and a straw placed in each, through which the young men "imbibed" the new compound.

"Really, this is fine, Nelson!" said the one, called Joe, smacking his lips.

"It is, indeed. You'll make your fortune out of this, Graves."

"Do you think so?" the pleased liquor-seller responded, with a broad smile of satisfaction.

"I've not the least doubt of it," Joe, or Joseph Bancroft, said,—"I had half resolved to join the temperance society this day. But your 'Sub-Treasury' has shaken my resolution. I shall never be able to do it now in this world, nor in the next, either, if I can only get you in the same place with me to make 'Sub-Treasury!' Ha! ha! ha!"

"A Sub-Treasury," said another young man, coming up to the bar.

"Here, landlord, let us have one of your—what do you call 'em? O, Sub-Treasuries!" was the request of another.

"Hallo, Sandy! What new-fangled stuff is this you've got?" broke in a half-drunken creature, staggering up, and holding on to the bar-railing. "Let us have one, will you?"

Both Sandy and Graves were now kept as busy as they could be, mixing liquors and serving customers. The advertisement which had been inserted in two or three of the morning papers, in the following words, had answered fully the rum-sellers' expectations.

"Drop in at the HARMONY HOUSE, and try a 'Sub-Treasury.' 'What is a Sub-Treasury?' you ask. Come and see for yourself, and taste for yourself. Old Graves' word for it, you'll never want anything else to wet your whistle with, as long as you live."

All through the forenoon the run was kept up steadily, dozens of new faces appearing at the bar, and cheering the heart of the tavern-keeper with the prospect of a fresh set of customers. About two o'clock, succeeded a pause.

"That works admirably,—don't it, Sandy?" said Mr. Graves, as soon as the bar-room was perfectly clear, for the first time, since morning.

"Indeed, it does. They havn't given me time to blow. But aint some folks easily gulled?"

"Easily enough, Sandy. This Sub-Treasury they think something wonderful. But it's only rum after all, by another name, and in a little different form. A 'cobbler,' or a 'julep' has lost its attractions; but get up some new name for an old compound, and you go all before the wind again."

"I think we might tempt some of the new converts to temperance with this. Bill Riley, for instance."

"No doubt. I'll see if I can't come across Bill; he is too good a customer to lose."

And so saying, Mr. Graves retired from the bar-room, to get his dinner, feeling better satisfied with himself than he had been for a long time. After eating heartily, and drinking freely, he went into his handsomely furnished parlour, and reclined himself upon a sofa, thinking still, and with a pleasurable emotion that warmed his bosom, of the success of his expedient to draw custom. He had been lying down, it seemed to him, but a few moments, when a tap at the door, to which he responded with a loud "come in," was followed by the entrance of a thin, pale, haggard-looking creature, her clothes soiled, and hanging loosely, and in tatters about her attenuated body. By the hand she held a little girl, from whose young face had faded every trace of childhood's happy expression. She, too, was thin and pale, and had a fixed, stony look, of hopeless suffering. They came up to where he still lay upon the sofa, and stood looking down upon him in silence.

"Who are you? What do you want?" the rum-seller ejaculated, raising himself up with a strange feeling about his heart.

"The wife and child of one of your victims! He is dying, and wishes to see you."

"Who is he? What is his name?" asked the tavern-keeper, while his face grew pale, and his lips quivered.

"William Riley," was the mournful reply.

"Go home, woman! Go home! I cannot go with you! What good can I do your husband?"

"You must go! You shall go!" shrieked the wretched being, suddenly grasping the arm of Mr. Graves, with a tight grip, while her hand seemed to burn his arm, as if it were a hand of fire.

A sudden and irresistible impulse to obey the call of the dying man came over him, and as he arose mechanically, the mother and her child turned towards the door, and he followed after them. On emerging into the street, he became conscious of a great and sudden change in external nature. On retiring from his bar an hour before, the sun was shining in a sky of spotless beauty. Now the heavens were shrouded in dense masses of black clouds that were whirling here and there in immense eddies, or careering across the sky as if driven by a fierce and mighty wind. But below, all was hushed and pulseless as the grave; and the stagnant air felt like the hot vapour over an immense furnace. The tavern-keeper would have paused and returned so soon as he became conscious of this fearful change, portending the approach of a wild storm; but his conductors seemed to know his thoughts; and turning, each fixed upon him a stern and threatening look, whose strange power he could neither resist nor understand.

"Come," said the mother in a hollow, husky voice; and then turned and moved on again, while the tavern-keeper followed impulsively. They had proceeded thus, for only a few paces, when a fierce light glanced through half the sky, followed by a deafening crash, under the concussion of which the earth trembled as if shaken to its very centre. The tavern-keeper again paused in shrinking irresolution, and again the woman's emphatic,

"Come!" caused him to follow his guides mechanically.

Soon the storm burst over their heads, and raged with a wild fury, such as he had never before witnessed. The wind howled through the streets and alleys of the city, with the roar of thunder; while the deep reverberations following every broad sheet of lightning that blazed through the whole circle of the heavens, was as the roar of a dissolving universe. Amid all this, the rain fell like a deluge. But the rum-seller's guides paused not, and he kept steadily onwards after them, shrinking now into the shelter of the houses, and now breasting the fierce storm with a momentary desperate resolution.

Through street after street, lined on either side with wretched tenements that seemed tottering and just ready to fall, and through alley after alley, where squalid misery had hid itself from the eye of general observation, did they pass, in what seemed to Mr. Graves an interminable succession; At last the woman and her child paused at the door of an old, wretched-looking frame house, that appeared just ready to sink to the ground with decay.

"This is the place, sir. Come in! Your victim would see you before he dies," the woman said in a deep voice that made a chill run through every nerve, at the same time that she looked him sternly and with an expression of malignant triumph in the face.

Unable to resist the impulse that drove him onward, the rum-seller entered the house.

"See there, sir! Look! Behold the work of your own hands!" exclaimed the woman with startling emphasis, as he found himself in a room, with a few old rags in one corner of it for a bed, upon which lay, in the last sad agonies of dissolution, his old customer, Bill Riley, who, he had been that day informed by his bar-keeper, had joined the temperance society.

"There, sir! See there!" she continued, grasping his arm, and dragging him up to where the miserable wretch lay. "Look at him!—Bill—Bill!" she continued, stooping down, while she still held tightly the rum-seller's arm, and shaking the dying man. "Bill—Bill! Here he is. You said you wanted to see him! Now curse him, Bill! Curse him with your dying breath!" And the woman's voice rose to a wild shriek.

The wretch, thus rudely and suddenly called back from the brink of death into a painful consciousness of existence, half rose up, and stared wildly around him for a moment or two.

"Here he is, Bill! Here he is!" resumed his wife, again shaking him violently.

"Who? Who?" inquired the dying man.

"Why, the rum-seller, who robbed you of your hard earnings, that he might roll in wealth and feast daily on luxuries, while your wife and children were starving! Here he is. Curse him now, with your dying breath! Curse him, I say, Bill Riley! Curse him!"

"Who? Who?" eagerly asked the wretched being, a thrill of new life seeming to flash through his exhausted frame—"Old Graves? Where is he?"

"Here he is, Bill! Here he is! Don't you see him?"

"Ah, yes! I see him now!" And Riley fixed his eyes, that seemed, to the rum-seller, to burn and flash like balls of fire, sending off vivid scintillations, upon him with a long and searching stare.

"Ah, yes," he continued, "this is old Graves, the rum-seller, who has sent more men to hell, and more widows and orphans to the poor-house, than any other man living. How do you do, sir?" rising up still more in his bed, and grasping the unwilling hand of the tavern-keeper, which he clenched hard, and shook with superhuman strength. "How are you, old fellow? I'm glad to see you once more in this world. We shall have a jolly time in the next, though, shan't we?"

A smile of malignant triumph flitted for a moment over the livid face of Riley. Then its expression brightened into one of intelligence.

"Look here," he said, and brought his lips close to the ear of Graves. Then in a deep whisper, he breathed the words,

"Sub-Treasury!"

The rum-seller started, suddenly, and grew paler than ever.

Instantly a loud, unearthly laugh rang through the room, causing the blood to curdle about his heart.

"Ha! ha! ha! I thought that chord could be touched! Ha! ha! That was a capital idea, wasn't it, old fellow? But you were too late for Bill Riley. You thought the temperance men had him. But that was a little mistake."

The sweat already stood in large drops on the pale face of the tavern-keeper, and his limbs trembled like the quivering aspen.

"Horrible!" he murmured, closing his eyes, to shut out the scene.

"Not half so horrible as the place where I was, just before you came in, Mr. Graves," said Riley in a calmer voice. "And where do you think that was?"

"In hell, I suppose," replied the rum-seller, with the energy of desperation.

"Exactly," was the calm reply. "And what do you think I heard and saw there? Let me tell you. I was dead for a little while, and found myself in strange quarters, as you will say, when you get there. I always thought devils had long tails, and cloven feet, horns, and all that kind of thing. But that's a vulgar error. They are nothing but wicked men like you, who in this world have taken delight in injuring others. You will make a first-rate devil! Ha! ha! I heard 'em say so, and wishing you were only there to help them work out their evil intentions.

"There are a great many little hells there, all grouped into one immense hell, like societies here, grouped into one larger society or nation. And there, as here, every smaller society is engaged in doing some particular thing, and all are in one society who love to do that thing. As for instance, all who, while here, have taken delight in theft, are there associated together, and are all the while busy in inventing reasons to put into the heads of thieves here to justify them in stealing. Murderers, in like manner; and so rum-sellers. They have a hell all filled with rum-sellers there! I was let into it for a little while to see what was going on, and who do you think I saw there. Why, old Adams, that died about a month ago. The old fellow was as lively as a cricket, and as busy as a bee.

"'How is that prime old chap, Graves?' he asked of me, as soon as he found out I was there.

"'I havn't seen him for a week,' I replied. 'I have been sick for that time.'

"'But he's a rum 'un, though, ain't he?' chuckled Adams. 'Many a scheme he and I have laid to get money out of the grog-drinkers. But he was always ahead of me. I used, in my early days, to feel a little compunction when I saw a clever fellow going to ruin. But it never affected him in the least. All was fish that came into his net. I wish we had him with us. We want just such scheming devils as he to help us devise ways and means to circumvent these temperance men. They'll ruin us, if we don't look out. How were they coming on when you left?'

"'Carrying everything before them,' I said. 'The rum-sellers are almost driven to their wit's ends for devices to get customers.'

"'Too bad! Too bad!' ejaculated old Adams. 'I'll turn hell upside down, but what I'll beat them out.'

"'You'll have to do your prettiest, then, let me tell you, old fellow,' I rejoined, 'for the temperance cause is going with a perfect rush. It is a mighty torrent whose course, neither men nor devils can stay. It moves onward with a power and majesty that astonishes the world,—and onward it will move, until your hell of rum-makers and rum-sellers will not be able to find a single point through which to flow into the world and tempt men with your infernal devices!'

"O, if you had heard the horrid yell of malignancy which arose, and echoed through the black chamber of that region of wickedness and misery, it would have made you shrink into nothingness with terror. They fairly gnashed on me with their teeth in impotent rage. At length old Adams got upon a whiskey-still—they have such things in hell—the pattern was got from there when introduced here, and made a speech to his associates. From what he said, I found that he had minute information of all that was going on in this region.

"'Old Graves,' he said—'our very best man, has already been so reduced in his business by this accursed temperance movement, that he has recently thought seriously of giving up. This must not be. We cannot lose him. No mind receives our suggestions more readily than his.—If he gives up, we lose a host. You all know, that our influence on earth is powerless, unless we have men to carry out our plans. If they will not listen to our suggestion—if they will not become our agents, we can do nothing there. As spiritual existences, we cannot affect that which is corporeal, except through the spiritual united with the corporeal—that is, through spiritual bodies in material bodies. In other words, we can act on men's minds, and they can do our works on earth for us. Now, seeing that we can do nothing to stop this temperance movement, except through the self-love of the rum-sellers and rum-makers, it will never do to let old Graves fall. We must help him to some new scheme by which to bring back his diminished custom. Now what shall it be?'

"'Some device that will call attention to his bar-room, is what is wanted,' remarked one.

"Yes, that is plain enough,' replied old Adams, who seemed to be a kind of head devil there—'but what shall it be? That's the question!'

"'Suppose we put him up to getting a woman to walk a plank,' suggested one.

"'No. That has been tried already; and if it is tried again so soon, these temperance men will cry, humbug!'

"'How would it do for him to get a pretty girl behind his bar.'

"'That might do. But then, his wife is a sort of religious woman, and wouldn't let him do it.'

"Couldn't we induce him to poison her, and so get her out of the way?'

"'No—That's out of the question. He kind of likes the woman too well for that.'

"'What, then, do you suggest?'

"'Some new drink will be the thing. Something that will tickle the ear at the same time that it tickles the palate. It will be a great thing, if, in this matter, we can kill two birds with one stone. Bring back by some new attraction the wavering ones, and turn the tide of custom in the direction of our very particular friend Mr. Graves.'

"'Have you thought of a name for it?'

"'No.'

"'How would Ambrosia do?' suggested one.

"'Not at all,' replied old Adams. 'It aint the thing to catch gulls now-a-days. And more than that, it isn't something new.'

"'What do you think of Harlequinade?'

"'That might answer; but it's been used, already.'

"'Fiscal agent?'

"'The same objection.'

"'Mummy?'

"'The same.'

"'Cobbler?'

"'Good, but stale.'

"'Greaser?'

"'No'—And Adams shook his head emphatically.

"'Sam Weller?'

"'Been used already.'

"'Veto?'

"'That too.'

"'Hardware?'

"'Likewise.'

"'What do you think of Elevator?'

"'That might do; but still I can't exactly say that I like it. It should be something to strike the popular idea.'

"'Sub-Treasury, then?'

"That's it, exactly! Sub-Treasury—Sub-Treasury. Let it be called Sub-Treasury! And now, as I have more power over Graves than any of you, let me have the managing of him.' And so saying, Adams seemed to go away, and remain, for a day or two. When he came back, all the devils gathered around him full of interest to hear of his success. They greeted him, first, with three wild, infernal cheers, full of malignant pleasure, and then asked,

"'What news? What news from earth?'

"'Glorious!' was his response. And then another wild yell of triumph went up.

"'I found Graves,' he went on, 'just the same pliant fool that he has ever been. He fell into my suggestions at once, and on the very next day advertised his 'Sub-Treasury.' It took like a charm. I could tell you of a dozen young fellows just about being caught by the teetootallers, who couldn't withstand the new temptation. There was one in particular. His name is Joe Bancroft. Only married about three years, and almost at the bottom of the hill already. On the day before 'Sub-Treasury' was announced, he came home sober, for the first time in six months. His wife, a beautiful young girl when he married her, but now a thin, pale, heart-broken creature, sat near a window sewing when he entered. But she did not look up. She heard him come in—but she could not turn her eyes towards him, for her heart always grew sicker whenever she saw the sad changes that drink had wrought upon him.

"For a few moments Joe stood gazing at his young wife, with a tenderer interest than he had felt for a long time. He saw that she did not look up, and was conscious of the reason.

"'Sarah,' he at last said, in a voice of affection, coming to her side.

"'What do you want?' she replied, still without looking up.

"'Look up at me, Sarah,' he said, in a voice that slightly trembled.

"Instantly her work dropped from her hands, and she lifted her eyes to the face of her husband, and murmured in a low, sad tone,

"'What is it you wish, Joseph?'

"'You look very pale, and very sorrowful, Sarah,' her husband said, with increasing tenderness of tone and manner.

"It had been so very long since he had spoken to her kindly, or since he had appeared to take any interest in her, that the first tenderly uttered word melted down her heart, and she burst into tears, and leaning her head against him, sobbed long and passionately.

"With many a kind word, and many a solemn promise of reformation did the husband soothe the stricken heart of his wife, into which a new hope was infused.

"'I will be a changed man, after this, Sarah,' he said— 'And then it must go well with us. It seems as if I had been, for the last year, the victim of insanity. I cannot realize how it is possible for any one to abandon himself as I have done; to the neglect of all the most sacred ties and duties that can appertain to us. How deeply—O, how deeply you must have suffered!'

"'Deeply, indeed, dear husband!—More than tongue can utter,' the young wife replied, in a solemn tone. 'It has seemed, sometimes, as if I must die. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, to see you coming in and going out, as you have done, for ever intoxicated. To have no kind word or look. No rational intercourse with one to whom I had yielded up my heart so confidingly. O, my husband! you know not how sad a trial you have imposed upon your wife!'

"'Sad—sad, indeed, I am sure it has been, Sarah! But let us try and forget the past. There is bright sunshine yet for us, and it will soon, I trust, fall warmly and cheeringly on our pathway.'

"All that day Bancroft remained at home with his wife, renewing his assurances of reformation, and laying his plans for the future. I saw all this, and began to fear lest Joe would really get freed from the toils we had, through the rum-sellers, thrown around him—toils, that I had felt, sure would soon cause him to fall headlong down amongst us. I, of course, suggested nothing to him then; for it would have been of little use. Towards night, his wife proposed that he should sign the pledge. I was at his ear in a moment—

"'That would be too degrading!' I whispered. 'You have not got quite so low as that yet.'

"'No, Sarah, I do not wish to sign the pledge,' he at once replied.

"'Why not, dear?'

"'Because, I have always despised this way of binding oneself down by a written contract, not to do a thing. It is unmanly. My resolution is sufficient. If I say that I will never drink another drop, why I won't. But if I were to bind myself by a pledge not to touch liquor again, I should, never feel a moment's peace, until I had broken it.'

"These objections I readily infused into his mind, and he at once adopted them as his own. I had power to do so, because I now perceived that his love of drink was so strong, that he did not wish to cut off all chance of ever tasting it again. He, therefore, wanted specious reasons for not signing the pledge, and with these I promptly furnished him!

"It was in vain that his wife urged him, even with tears and eager entreaties to take the pledge: I was too much for her, and made him firm as a rock in his determination not to sign.

"On the next morning, he parted with his wife, strong in his resolution to be a reformed man. The pleasant thrill of her parting kiss, the first he had received for more than a year, lingered in his memory and encouraged him to abide by his promise. He passed his accustomed places of resort for liquor, on his way to business, but without the first desire to enter. I noted all this, and kept myself busy about him to detect a moment of weakness. Our friend Graves advertised his 'Sub-Treasury' on that morning. I calculated largely on the novelty of the idea to win him off. But, somehow or other, he did not see it. Another young man, one of his companions, did, however:

"'Have you tried Graves' new drink, yet?' he asked of him about eleven o'clock, while he was under the influence of a pretty strong thirst.

"'No, what is it?' he replied, with a feeling of lively interest.

"'Sub-Treasury,' replied his friend.

"'Sub-Treasury! That must be something new! I wonder what it can be?'

"Into this feeling of interest in knowing what the new drink could be, I infused a strong desire to taste it.

"'Suppose we go and try some,' suggested his friend.

"'There'll not be the least danger,' I whispered in his ear. 'You can try it, and refrain from drinking to excess. The evil has been your drinking too much. There is no harm in moderate drinking. This decided him, and I retired. I knew, if he tasted, that he was gone.'

"Down he went to the Harmony House;—I was there when he came in. It would have done your hearts good to have seen with what delight he sipped the new beverage,—and to have heard him say, as I did, to Graves;—'I had half resolved to join the temperance society this day,—but your Sub-Treasury has entirely shaken my resolution. I shall never be able to do it now in this world, nor in the next either, if I can only get you in the same place with me to make Sub-Treasury.' And then he laughed with great glee. One, of course, did not satisfy him, nor two, nor three. Before dinner-time he was gloriously drunk, and went staggering home as usual. I could not resist the inclination to see a little of the fun when he presented himself to his wife, whose fond hopes were all in the sky again. Like a bird, she had sung about the house during the morning, her heart so elated that she could not prevent an outward expression of the delight she felt. As the hour drew near for her husband's return, a slight fear would glance through her mind, quickly dismissed, however;—for she could not entertain the idea for a moment that his newly-formed resolution could possibly be so soon broken.

"At last the hour for his accustomed return arrived. She heard him open the door—and sprung to meet him. One look sufficed to break her heart. Statue-like she stood for a moment or two, and then sunk senseless to the floor.

"Other matters calling me away, I staid only to see this delightful little scene, and then hurried back to the Harmony House, to see if the run was kept up. Customers came in a steady stream, and crowded the bar of our worthy friend, whose heart was as light as a feather. I saw at least half a dozen come in and sip a glass of Sub-Treasury, who I knew had not tasted liquor for months. I marked them; and shall be about their path occasionally. But the best thing of all that I saw, was a reformer break his pledge. He was, years ago, a noted drunkard, but had been a reformed man for four years. In that time he had broken up several grog-shops, by reforming all their customers, and had got, I suppose, not less than five or six hundred persons to sign the pledge. I had, of course, a particular grudge against him. It was an exceedingly warm day, and he was uncommonly thirsty. He was reading the paper, and came across the 'Sub-Treasury' advertisement.

"'Ha! ha! What is this, I wonder?' he said, laughing; some new trick of the enemy, I suppose.'

"'Look here, what is this Sub-Treasury stuff, that Graves advertises this morning?' he said, to a young fellow, a protege of mine, who was more than a match for him.

"'A kind of temperance beverage.' I put it into the fellow's head to say.

"'Temperance beverage?'

"'Yes. It's made of lemonpeel, and one stuff or other, mixed up with pounded ice. He's got a tremendous run for it. I know half a dozen teetotallers who get it regularly. I saw three or four there to-day, at one time.'

"'Indeed!'

"'It's a fact. Come, won't you go down and try a glass? It's delightful.'

"'Are you in earnest about it?'

"'Certainly I am. It's one of the most delicious drinks that has been got up this season.'

"'I don't like to be seen going into such a place.'

"'O, as to that, there is a fine back entrance leading in from another street, that no one suspects, and a private bar into the bargain. We can go in and get a drink, and nobody will ever see us.'

"'Well, I don't care if I do,' said the temperance man, 'for I am very dry.'

"'You're a gone gozzling, my old chap,' I said, as I saw him moving off. 'I thought I'd get you before long.' Sure enough, the moment he took the first draught his doom was sealed. His former desire for liquor came back on him with irresistible power; and before nightfall, he was so drunk that he went staggering along the street, to the chagrin and consternation of the teetotallers; but to the infinite delight of your humble servant.

"And so saying, that malignant fiend, who, while he inhabited a material body, was called old Billy Adams, stepped down from the still. Then there arose three loud and long cheers, for Graves, and his 'Sub-Treasury,' that echoed and re-echoed wildly through that gloomy prison-house.

"You're much thought of down there, you see," continued Riley, with a cold grin of irony.—"Adams says, that if this temperance movement aint stopped soon, they will have to get you among them, and make you head devil in that department. How would you like that, old chap, say? How would you like to go now?"

As Riley said this, he threw himself forward, and clasped his thin, bony fingers around the neck of the rum-seller, with a strong grip.

"How would you like to go now, ha?" he screamed fiercely in his ear, clenching his hand tighter and still tighter, while his hot breath melted over the face of Graves in a suffocating vapour. The struggles of the rum-seller were vigorous and terrible—but the dying man held on with a superhuman strength. Soon everything around grew confused, and though still distinctly conscious, it was a consciousness in the mind of the tavern-keeper of the agonies of death. This became so terrible to him that he resolved on one last and more vigorous effort for life. It was made, and the hands of the dying man broke loose. Instantly starting to his feet, the wretched dealer in poison for both the bodies and souls of men, found himself standing in the centre of his own parlour, with the sweat rolling from his face in large drops.

"Merciful Heaven! And is it indeed a dream?" he ejaculated, panting with terror and exhaustion.

"A dream—and yet not all a dream," he added, in a few moments, in a sad, low tone.—"In league with hell against my fellow-men! Can it indeed be true? But away! away such thoughts!"

Such thoughts, however, could not be driven away. They crowded upon his mind at every avenue, and pressed inward to the exclusion of every other idea.

"But I am not in league with evil spirits to do harm to my fellow-men. I do not wish evil to any one," he argued.

"You are in such evil consociation," whispered a voice within him. "There are but two great parties in the world—the evil and the good. No middle ground exists. You are with one of these—working for the good of your fellow-men, or for their injury. One of these great parties acts in concert with heaven, the other with hell. On the side of one stand arrayed good spirits—on the side of the other evil spirits. Can good spirits be on your side? Would they, for the sake of gain, take the food out of the mouths of starving children? Would they put allurements in a brother's way to entice him to ruin? No! Only in such deeds can evil spirits take delight."

"Then I am on the side of hell?"

"There are but two parties. You cannot be on the side of heaven, and do evil to your neighbour."

"Dreadful thought! In league with infernal spirits to curse the human race! Can it be possible Am I really in my senses?"

For nearly half an hour did Graves pace the floor backwards and forwards, his mind in a wild fever of excitement. In vain did he try, over and over again, to argue the point against the clearest and strongest convictions of reason. Look at it as he would, it all resolved itself into that one bold and startling position, that he was in league with hell against his fellow-men.

"And now, what shall I do?" was the question that arose in his mind. "Give up my establishment?"

At that moment, Sandy, the bar-tender, opened the parlour door, and said with a broad smile—

"The Sub-Treasury is working wonders again! I'm overrun, and want help."

"I can't come down, just now, Sandy. I'm not very well. You will have to get along the best you can," Graves replied.

"I don't know what I shall do then, sir: I can't make 'em half as fast as they are called for."

"Let half of the people go away then," was the cold reply. "I can't help you any more to-day."

Sandy thought, as he withdrew, that the "old man" must have suddenly lost his senses. He was confirmed in this idea before the next morning.

It was past twelve o'clock when the run of custom was over, and Sandy closed up for the night. As soon as this was done, Mr. Graves came in for the first time since dinner.

"It's been a glorious day for business," Sandy said, rubbing his hands. "I've taken in more, than thirty dollars. Lucifer himself must have put the idea into your head."

"No doubt he did," was the grave reply.

Sandy stared at this.

"Didn't you tell me that Bill Riley had joined the temperance society?"

"Yes, I did," replied the bar-keeper.

"Are you sure?"

"I am sure, I was told so by one that knew."

"I only wish I was certain of it," was the reply, made half abstractedly. And then the dealer leaned down upon the bar and remained in deep thought for a very long time, to the still greater surprise of Sandy, who could not comprehend what had come over his employer.

"Aint you well, Mr. Graves," he at length asked, breaking in upon the rum-seller's painful reverie.

"Well!" he ejaculated, rousing up with a start. "No, I am not well."

"What is the matter, sir?"

"I'm sick," was the evasive response.

"How, sick?" was Sandy's persevering inquiry.

"Sick at heart! O, dear! I wish I'd been dead before I opened a grog-shop!"—And the countenance of Mr. Graves changed its quiet, sad expression, to one of intense agony.

Sandy looked at the tavern-keeper with an air of stupid astonishment for some moments, unable to comprehend his meaning. It was evident to his mind that Mr. Graves had suddenly become crazed about something. This idea produced a feeling of alarm, and he was about retiring for counsel and assistance, when the tavern-keeper roused himself and said:

"When did you see Bill Riley, Sandy?"

"I saw him yesterday."

"Are you certain?" in a quick, eager tone.

"O yes. I saw him going along on the other side of the street with two or three fellows that didn't look no how at all like rum-bruisers."

"I was afraid he was dead," Mr. Graves responded to this, breathing more freely.

"Dead! Why should you think that?" inquired Sandy, still more (sic) mistified.

"I had reason for thinking so," was the evasive reply. A pause of some, moments ensued, when the bar-keeper said—

"I shall have to be stirring bright and early to-morrow morning."

"Why so?"

"We're out of sugar and lemons both. That Sub-Treasury runs on them 'ere articles strong."

"Confound the Sub-Treasury!" Mr. Graves ejaculated, with a strong and bitter emphasis. Sandy stood again mute with astonishment, staring into the tavern-keeper's face.

"Sandy," Mr. Graves at length said in a calm, resolute tone, "my mind is made up to quit selling liquor."

"Quit selling liquor, sir!" exclaimed Sandy, more astonished than ever. "Quit selling liquor just at this time, when you have made such a hit?"

"Yes, Sandy, I'm going to quit it. I'm afraid that we rum-sellers are on the side of hell."

"I never once supposed that we were on the side of heaven," the bar-keeper replied, half smiling.

"Then what side did you suppose we were on?"

"O, as to that, I never gave the matter a thought. Only, it never once entered my head that we could claim much relationship with heaven. Heaven feeds the hungry and clothes the naked. But we take away both food and clothing, and give only drink. There is some little difference in this, now one comes to think about it."

"Then I am right in my notion."

"I'm rather afraid you are, sir. But that's a strange way of thinking."

"Aint it the true way?"

"Perhaps so."

"I am sure so, Sandy! And that's what makes me say that I'm done selling rum."

The tavern-keeper did not tell all that was in his mind. He said nothing of his dream, nor of that horrible idea of going to the rum-seller's hell, and becoming a devil, filled with the delight of rendering mankind wretched by deluging the land with drunkenness.

"What are you going to do then?" asked Sandy.

"Why, the first thing is to quit rum-selling."

"But what then?"

"I'm not decided yet;—but shall enter into some kind of business that I can follow with a clear conscience."

"You'll sell out this stands I suppose. The goodwill is worth three or four hundred dollars."

"No, Sandy, I will not!" was the tavern-keeper's positive, half indignant reply. "I'll have nothing more to do with the gain of rum-selling. I have too much of that sin on my conscience already."

"Somebody will come right in, as soon as you move out. And I don't see why you should give any one such an advantage for nothing."

"I'm not going to move out, Sandy."

"Then what are you going to do?"

"Why, one thing—I'm going to shut up this devil's man-trap. And while I can keep possession of the property, it shall never be opened as a dram-shop again."

"What are you going to do with your liquors, Mr. Graves? Sell 'em?"

"No."

"What then?"

"Burn 'em. Or let 'em run in the gutter."

"That I should call a piece of folly."

"You may call it what you please. But I'll do it notwithstanding. I've received my last dollar for rum. Not another would I touch for all the world!"

A slight shudder passed through the tavern-keeper's body, as he said this, occasioned by the vivid recollection of some fearful passage in his late dream.

"You'd better give the liquors to me, Mr. Graves. It would be a downright sin to throw 'em in the gutter, when a fellow might make a good living out of 'em."

"No, Sandy. Neither you nor anybody else shall ever make a man drunk with the liquor now in this house. It shall run in the gutter. That's settled!"

When the sun arose next morning, Harmony House was shorn of its attractions as a drinking establishment. All the signs, with their deceptive and alluring devices, were taken down—the shutters closed, and everything indicating its late use removed, excepting a strong smell of liquor, great quantities of which had been poured into the gutters.

In the course of a few weeks, the house was again re-opened as a hatter-shop, Mr. Graves having resumed his former honest business, which he still follows, well patronized by the temperance men, among whom are Joseph Randolph, and William Riley, the former reclaimed through his active instrumentality.

 
 
 

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