Family by T. S. Arthur
"HOW beautiful!" ejaculated Mary Graham, as she fixed her eyes
intently on the western sky, rich with the many-coloured clouds of a
brilliant sunset in June.
"Beautiful indeed!" responded her sister Anna.
"I could gaze on it for ever!" Ellen, a younger and more
enthusiastic sister remarked, with fervent admiration. "Look, Ma! was
ever anything more gorgeous than that pure white cloud, fringed with
brilliant gold, and relieved by the translucent and sparkling sky
"It is indeed very beautiful, Ellen," Mrs. Graham replied. But
there was an abstraction in her manner, that indicated, too plainly,
that something weighed upon her mind.
"You don't seem to enjoy a rich sunset as much as you used to do,
Ma," Anna said, for she felt the tone and manner in which her mother
had expressed her admiration of the scene.
"You only think so, perhaps," Mrs. Graham rejoined, endeavouring to
arouse herself, and to feel interested in the brilliant exhibition of
nature to which her daughter had alluded. "The scene is, indeed, very
beautiful, Anna, and reminds me strongly of some of Wordsworth's
exquisite descriptions, so full of power to awaken the heart's deepest
and purest emotions. You all remember this:
"'Calm is the evening air, and loth to lose
Day's grateful warmth, though moist with falling dews
Look for the stars, you'll say that there are none;
Look up a second time, and, one by one,
You mark them twinkling out with silvery light,
And wonder how they could elude the sight.'"
"'No sound is uttered,—but a deep
And solemn harmony pervades
The hollow vale from steep to steep,
And penetrates the glades.
Far distant images draw nigh,
Called forth by wondrous potency
Of beamy radiance, that imbues
Whate'er it strikes with gem-like hues!
In vision exquisitely clear,
Herds range along the mountain-side;
And glistening antlers are descried;
And gilded flocks appear.
Thine is the tranquil hour, purpureal Eve!
But long as god-like wish, or hope divine,
Informs my spirit, ne'er can I believe
That this magnificence is wholly thine!
From worlds not quickened by the sun
A portion of the gift is won.'"
"How calm and elevating to the heart, like the hour he describes,"
Ellen said, in a musing tone, as she sat with her eyes fixed intently
on the slow-fading glories of the many-coloured clouds.
The influence of the tranquil hour gradually subdued them into
silence; and as the twilight began to fall, each sat in the enjoyment
of a pure and refined pleasure, consequent upon a true appreciation of
the beautiful in nature, combined with highly cultivated tastes, and
innocent and elevated thoughts.
"There comes Pa, I believe," Anna remarked, breaking the silence,
as the hall door opened and then closed with a heavy jar; and the
well-known sound of her father's footsteps was heard along the
passage and on the stairs.
None of her children observed the hushed intensity with which Mrs.
Graham listened, as their father ascended to the chamber. But they
noticed that she became silent and more thoughtful than at first. In
about ten minutes she arose and left the room.
"Something seems to trouble Ma, of late," Ellen observed, as soon
as their mother had retired.
"So I have thought. She is certainly, to all appearance, less
cheerful, "Mary replied.
"What can be the cause of it?"
"I hardly think there can be any very serious cause. We are none of
us always in the same state of mind."
"But I have noticed a change, in Ma, for some months past—and
particularly in the last few weeks," Anna said. "She is not happy."
"I remember, now, that I overheard her, about six weeks ago,
talking to Alfred about something—the company he kept, I believe—and
that he seemed angry, and spoke to her, I thought, unkindly. Since
that time she has not seemed so cheerful;" Ellen said.
"That may be the cause; but still I hardly think that it is," Anna
replied. "Alfred's principal associates are William Gray and Charles
Williams; and they belong to our first families. Pa, you know, is
very intimate with both Mr. Gray and Mr. Williams."
"It was to William Gray and Charles Williams, I believe, however,
that Ma particularly objected."
"Upon what ground?"
"Upon the ground of their habits, I think, she said."
"Their habits? What of their habits, I wonder?"
"I do not know, I am sure. I only remember having heard Ma object
to them on that account."
"That is strange!" was the remark of Anna. "I am sure that I have
never seen anything out of the way, in either of them; and, as to
William Gray, I have always esteemed him very highly."
"So have I," Mary said. "Both of them are intelligent, agreeable
young men; and such, as it seems to me, are in every way fitted to be
companions for our brother."
But Mrs. Graham had seen more of the world than her daughters, and
knew how to judge from appearances far better than they. Some recent
circumstances, likewise, had quickened her perceptions of danger, and
made them doubly acute. In the two young men alluded to, now about the
ages of eighteen and twenty, she had been pained to observe strong
indications of a growing want of strict moral restraints, combined
with a tendency towards dissipation; and, what was still more painful,
an exhibition of like perversions in her only son, now on the verge of
manhood,—that deeply responsible and dangerous period, when parental
authority and control subside in a degree, and the individual,
inexperienced yet self-confident, assumes the task of guiding himself.
When Mrs. Graham left the room, she proceeded slowly up to the
chamber into which her husband had gone, where all had been silent
since his entrance. She found him lying upon the bed, and already in
a sound sleep. The moment she bent over him, she perceived the truth
to be that which her trembling and sinking heart so much dreaded. He
Shrinking away from the bed-side, she retired to a far corner of
the room, where she seated herself by a table, and burying her face in
her arms, gave way to the most gloomy, heart-aching thoughts and
feelings. Tears brought her no relief from these; for something of
hopelessness in her sorrow, gave no room for the blessing of tears.
Mr. Graham was a merchant of high standing in Philadelphia, where,
for many years, he had been engaged extensively in the East India
trade. Six beautiful ships floated for years upon the ocean,
returning at regular intervals, freighted with the rich produce of
the East, and filling his coffers, until they overflowed, with
accumulating wealth. But it was not wealth alone that gave to Mr.
Graham the elevated social position that he held. His strong
intelligence, and the high moral tone of his character, gave him an
influence and an estimation far above what he derived from his great
riches. In the education of his children, four in number, he had been
governed by a wise regard to the effect which that education would
have upon them as members of society. He early instilled into their
minds a desire to be useful to others, and taught them the difference
between an estimation of individuals, founded upon their wealth and
position in society, and an estimation derived from intrinsic
excellence of character. The consequence of, all this was, to make him
beloved by his family—purely and tenderly beloved, because there was
added to the natural affection for one in his position, the power of a
deep respect for his character and principles.
At the time of his introduction to the reader, Mr. Graham was
forty-five years old. Alfred, his oldest child, was twenty-one; Mary,
nineteen; Ellen, eighteen; and Anna just entering her sixteenth year.
Up to this time, or nearly to this time, a happier family circled no
hearth in the city. But now an evil wing was hovering over them, the
shadow from which had already been perceived by the mother's heart, as
it fell coldly and darkly upon it, causing it to shrink and tremble
with gloomy apprehensions. From early manhood up, it had been the
custom of Mr. Graham to use wines and brandies as liberally as he
desired, without, the most remote suspicion once crossing his mind
that any danger to him could attend the indulgence. But to the eye of
his wife, whose suspicions had of late been aroused, and her
perceptions rendered, in consequence, doubly acute, it had become
apparent that the habit was gaining a fatal predominance over him. She
noted, with painful emotions, that as each evening returned, there
were to her eye too evident indications that he had been indulging so
freely in the use of liquors, as to have his mind greatly obscured.
His disposition, too, was changing; and he was becoming less cheerful
in his family, and less interested in the pleasures and pursuits of
his children. Alfred, whom he had, up to this time, regarded with an
earnest and careful solicitude, was now almost entirely left to his
own guidance, at an age, too, when he needed more than ever the
direction of his father's matured experience.
All these exhibitions of a change so unlooked for, and so terrible
for a wife and mother to contemplate, might well depress the spirits
of Mrs. Graham, and fill her with deep and anxious solicitude. For
some weeks previous to the evening on which our story opens, Mr.
Graham had shown strong symptoms almost every day—symptoms apparent,
however, in the family, only to the eye of his wife—of drunkenness.
Towards the close of each day, as the hour for his return from
business drew near her feelings would become oppressed under the
fearful apprehension that when he came home, it would be in a state of
intoxication. This she dreaded on many accounts. Particularly was she
anxious to conceal the father's aberrations from his children. She
could not bear the thought that respect for one now so deeply honoured
by them, should be diminished in their bosoms. She felt, too, keenly,
the reproach that would rest upon his name, should the vice that was
now entangling, obtain full possession of him, and entirely destroy
his manly, rational freedom of action. Of consequences to herself and
children, resulting from changed external circumstances, she did not
dream. Her husband's wealth was immense; and, therefore, even if he
should so far abandon himself as to have to relinquish business, there
would be enough, and more than enough, to sustain them in any position
in society they might choose to occupy.
On the occasion to which we have already referred, her heart was
throbbing with suspense as the hour drew nigh for his return, when,
sooner than she expected him, Mr. Graham opened the hall-door, and
instead of entering the parlour, as usual, proceeded at once to his
chamber. The quick ear of his wife detected something wrong in the
sound of his footsteps—the cause she knew too well. Oh, how deeply
wretched she felt, though she strove all in her power to seem unmoved
while in the presence of her children! Anxious to know the worst, she
soon retired, as has been seen, from the parlours, and went up to the
chamber above. Alas! how sadly were her worst fears realized! The
loved and honoured partner of many happy years, the father of her
children, lay before her, slumbering, heavily, in the sleep of
intoxication. It seemed, for a time, as if she could not bear up under
the trial. While seated, far from the bed-side, brooding in sad
despondency over the evil that had fallen upon them—an evil of such a
character that it had never been feared—it seemed to her that she
could not endure it. Her thoughts grew bewildered, and reason for a
time seemed trembling. Then her mind settled into a gloomy calmness
that, was even more terrible, for it had about it something
approaching the hopelessness of despair.
Thoughts of her children at last aroused her, as the gathering
night darkened the chamber in which she sat, and she endeavoured to
rally herself, and to assume a calmness that she was far from feeling.
A reason would have to be given for the father's non-appearance at the
tea-table. That could easily be done. Fatigue and a slight
indisposition had caused him to lie down: and as he had fallen
asleep, it was thought best not to awaken him. Such a tale was
readily told, and as readily received. The hardest task was to school
her feelings into submission, and so control the expression of her
face, and the tone of her voice, as to cause none to suspect that
there was anything wrong.
To do this fully, however, was impossible. Her manner was too
evidently changed; and her face wore too dreamy and sad an expression
to deceive her daughters, who inquired, with much tenderness and
solicitude, whether she was not well, or whether anything troubled
"I am only a little indisposed," was her evasive reply to her
children's kind interrogatories.
"Can't I do something for you?" inquired Ellen, with an earnest
affection in her manner.
"No, dear," was her mother's brief response; and then followed a
silence, oppressive to all, which remained unbroken until the tea
things were removed.
"Alfred is again away at tea-time," Mrs. Graham at length said, as
they all arose from the table.
"He went out this afternoon with Charles Williams," Mary replied.
"Did he?" the mother rejoined quickly, and with something of
displeasure in her tone.
"Yes. Charles called for him in his buggy about four o'clock, and
they rode out together. I thought you knew it."
"No. I was lying down about that time."
"You do not seem to like Charles Williams much."
"I certainly do not, Anna, as a companion for Alfred. He is too
fond of pleasure and sporting, and I am very much afraid will lead
your brother astray."
"I never saw anything wrong about him, Ma."
"Perhaps not. But I have learned to be a much closer observer in
these matters than you, Mary. I have seen too many young men at
Alfred's age led away, not to feel a deep and careful solicitude for
As the subject seemed to give their mother pain, her daughters did
not reply; and then another, and still more troubled silence
A chill being thrown thus over the feelings of all, the family
separated at an early hour. But Mrs. Graham did not retire to bed.
She could not, for she was strangely uneasy about her son. It was
about twelve o'clock when Alfred came in. His mother opened her door
as he passed it, to speak to him—but her tongue refused to give
utterance to the words that trembled upon it. He, too, was
Brief were the hours given to sleep that night, and troubled the
slumber that locked her senses in forgetfulness. On the next morning,
the trembling hand of her husband, as he lifted his cup to his lips,
and the unrefreshed and jaded appearance of her son, told but too
plainly their abuse of nature's best energies. With her husband, Mrs.
Graham could not bring herself to speak upon the subject. But she felt
that her duty as a mother was involved in regard to her son, and
therefore she early took occasion to draw him aside, and remonstrate
against the course of folly upon which he was entering.
"You were out late last night, Alfred," she said, in a mild tone.
"I was in at twelve, Ma."
"But that was too late, Alfred."
"I don't know, Ma. Other young men are out as late, and even later,
every night," the young man said, in a respectful tone. "I rode out
with Charles Williams in the afternoon, and then went with him to a
wine party at night."
"I must tell you frankly, Alfred, that I like neither your
companion in the afternoon, nor your company in the evening."
"You certainly do not object to Charles Williams. He stands as high
in society as I do."
"His family is one of respectability and standing. But his habits,
I fear, Alfred, are such as will, ere long, destroy all of his title
to respectful estimation."
"You judge harshly," the young man said, colouring deeply.
"I believe not, Alfred. And what is more, I am convinced that you
stand in imminent danger from your association with him."
"How?" was the quick interrogatory.
"Through him, for instance, you were induced to go to a wine party
"And there induced to drink too much."
"I saw you when you came in, Alfred. You were in a sad condition."
For a few moments the young man looked his mother in the face,
while an expression of grief and mortification passed over his own.
"It is true," he at length said, in a subdued tone, "that I did
drink to excess, last evening. But do not be alarmed on that account.
I will be more guarded, in future. And let me now assure you, most
earnestly, that I am in no danger: that I am not fond of wine. I was
led to drink too much, last evening, from being in a company where
wine was circulated as freely as water. I thought you looked troubled,
this morning, but did not dream that it was on my account. Let me,
then, urge you to banish from your mind all fears in regard to me."
"I cannot banish such fears, my son, so long as I know that you
have dangerous associates. No one is led off, no one is corrupted
"But I do not think that I have dangerous associates."
"I am sure you have, Alfred. If they had not been such, you would
not have been led astray, last night. Go not into the way of
temptation. Shun the very beginnings of evil. Remember Pope's warning
"'Vice, to be hated, needs but to be seen,'
"Indeed, indeed, Ma, you are far too serious about this matter."
"No, my son, I cannot be!"
"Well, perhaps not. But, as I know the nature of my associations
far better than you possibly can, you must pardon me for thinking that
they involve no danger. I have arrived to years of discretion, and
certainly think that I am, or at least ought to be, able to judge for
There was that in the words and tone of the young man, that made
the mother feel conscious that it would be no use for her to urge the
matter further, at that time. She merely replied—
"For your mother's sake, Alfred, guard yourself more carefully, in
It is wonderful, sometimes, how rapidly a downward course is run.
The barrier, against which the waters have been driven for years, is
rapidly washed away, so soon as even the smallest breach is made. A
breach had been made in Mr. Graham's resolution to be only a sober
drinker of intoxicating liquors; and the consequence was, that he had
less power to resist the strong inclination to drink, that had become
almost like a second nature to him. A few weeks only elapsed, before
he came home so drunk as to expose himself in the street, and before
his children and servants, in a most disgusting and degrading manner.
Terrible indeed was the shock to his children—especially to Mary,
Ellen and Anna. His sudden death could not have been a more fearful
affliction. Then, they would have sorrowed in filial respect and
esteem, made sacred by an event that would embalm the memory of their
father in the permanent regard of a whole community: now, he stood
degraded in their eyes; and they felt that he was degraded in the eyes
of all. In his presence they experienced restraint, and they looked
for his coming with a shrinking fear. It was, indeed, an awful
affliction—such as few can realize in imagination; and especially for
them, as they occupied a conspicuous position in society, and were
conscious that all eyes were upon them, and that all tongues would be
busy with the story of their father's degradation.
It is wonderful, we have said, how rapidly a downward course is
sometimes run. In the case of Mr. Graham, many circumstances combined
to hasten his ruin. It was nearly a year after he had given way to the
regular indulgence of drink, so far as to be kept almost constantly in
a state of half-intoxication through the business hours of almost
every day, that he received news of the loss of a vessel richly laden
with teas from China. At the proper time he presented the requisite
documents to his underwriters, and claimed the loss, amounting, on
ship and cargo, to one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. On
account of alleged improper conduct on the part of the captain, united
with informality in the papers, the underwriters refused to pay the
loss. A suit at law was the consequence, in which the underwriters
were sustained. An appeal was made, but the same result followed-thus
sweeping away, at a single blow, property to the amount of over one
hundred thousand dollars. During the progress of the trial, Mr. Graham
was much excited, and drank more freely than ever. When the result was
finally ascertained, he sank down into a kind of morose inactivity for
some months, neglecting his large and important business, and
indulging, during the time, more deeply than ever in his favourite
potations. It was in vain that his distressed family endeavoured to
rouse him into activity. All their efforts were met by an irritability
and a moroseness of temper so unlike what he had been used to exhibit
towards them, that they gave up all idea of influencing him in
A second heavy loss, of nearly equal amount, altogether consequent
upon this neglect of business, seemed to awaken up the latent
energies of his character, and he returned to himself with something
of his former clear-sighted energy of character. But his affairs had
already become, to him, strangely entangled. The machinery of his
extensive operations had been interrupted; and now, in attempting to
make the wheels move on again, it was too apparent that much of it
had become deranged, and the parts no longer moved in harmonious
action with the whole. The more these difficulties pressed upon him,
the deeper did he drink, as a kind of relief, and, in consequence,
the more unfit to extricate himself from his troubles did he become.
Every struggle, like the efforts of a large animal in a quagmire,
only tended to involve him deeper and deeper in inextricable
This downward tendency continued for about three years, when his
family was suddenly stunned by the shock of his failure. It seemed
impossible for them to realize the truth—and, indeed, almost
impossible for the whole community to realize it. It was only three
or four years previous that his wealth was estimated, and truly so,
at a million and a half. He was known to have met with heavy losses,
but where so much could have gone, puzzled every one. It seems almost
incredible that any man could have run through such an estate by
mismanagement, in so brief a period. But such was really the case.
Accustomed to heavy operations, he continued to engage in only the
most liberal transactions, every loss in which was a matter of serious
moment. And towards the last, as his mind grew more and more
bewildered in consequence of is drinking deeper and deeper, he
scarcely got up a single voyage, that did not result in loss; until,
finally, he was driven to an utter abandonment of business—but not
until he had involved his whole estate in ruin.
The beautiful family mansion on Chestnut-street had to be given
up—the carriage and elegant furniture sold under the hammer, while
the family retired, overwhelmed with distress, to an humble dwelling
in an obscure part of the city.
Seven years from the day on which Mrs. Graham and her children were
thus thrown suddenly down from their elevation, and driven into
obscurity, that lady sat alone, near the window of a meanly-furnished
room in a house on the suburbs of the city, overlooking the
Schuylkill. It was near the hour of sunset. Gradually the day
declined, and the dusky shadows of evening fell gloomily around. Still
Mrs. Graham sat leaning her head upon her hand, in deep abstraction of
mind. Alas! seven years had wrought a sad change in her appearance,
and a sadder one in her feelings. Her deeply-sunken eye, and pale,
thin face, told a tale of wretchedness and suffering, whose silent
appeal made the very heart ache. Her garments, too, were old and
faded, and antiquated in style.
She sat thus for about half-an-hour, when the door of the room was
opened slowly, and a young woman entered, carrying on her arm a small
basket. She seemed, at first sight, not over twenty-three or four
years of age; but, when observed more closely, her hollow cheek, pale
face, and languid motions, indicated the passage of either many more
years over her head, or the painful inroads of disease and sorrow.
Mrs. Graham looked up, but did not speak, as the young woman entered,
and, after placing her basket on a table, laid aside her bonnet and
"How did you find Ellen, to-day?" she at length said.
"Bad enough!" was the mournful reply. "It makes my heart ache, Ma,
whenever I go to see her."
"Was her husband at home?"
"Yes, and as drunk and ill-natured as ever."
"How is the babe, Mary?"
"Not well. Dear little innocent creature! it has seen the light of
this dreary world in an evil time. Ellen has scarcely any milk for
it; and I could not get it to feed, try all I could. It nestles in
her breast, and frets and cries almost incessantly, with pain and
hunger. Although it is now six weeks old, yet Ellen seems to have
gained scarcely any strength at all. She has no appetite, and creeps
about with the utmost difficulty. With three little children hanging
about her, and the youngest that helpless babe, her condition is
wretched indeed. It would be bad enough, were her husband kind to
her. But cross, drunken and idle, scarcely furnishing his family with
food enough to sustain existence, her life with him is one of painful
trial and suffering. Indeed, I wonder, with her sensitive disposition
and delicate body, how she can endure such a life for a week."
A deep sigh, or rather moan, was the mother's only response. Her
"Bad as I myself feel with this constant cough, pain in my side,
and weakness, I must go over again to-morrow and stay with her. She
ought not to be left alone. The dear children, too, require a great
deal of attention that she cannot possibly give to them."
"You had better bring little Ellen home with you, had you not,
Mary? I could attend to her much better than Ellen can."
"I was thinking of that myself, Ma. But you seemed so poorly, that
I did not feel like saying anything about it just now."
"O yes. Bring her home with you to-morrow evening, by all means. It
will take that much off of poor Ellen's hands."
"Then I will do so, Ma; at least if Ellen is willing," Mary said,
in a lighter tone—the idea of even that relief being extended to her
overburdened sister causing her mind to rise in a momentary buoyancy.
"Anna is late to-night," she remarked, after a pause of a few
As she said this, the door opened, and the sister of whom she spoke
"You are late to-night, Anna," her mother said.
"Yes, rather later than usual. I had to take a few small articles
home for a lady, after I left the store, who lives in Sixth near
"In Sixth near Spring Garden!"
"Yes. The lad who takes home goods had gone, and the lady was
particular about having them sent home this evening."
"Do you not feel very tired?"
"Indeed I do," the poor girl said, sinking into a chair. "I feel,
sometimes, as if I must give up. No one in our store is allowed to
sit down from morning till night. The other girls don't appear to
mind it much; but before evening, it seems as if I must drop to the
floor. But I won't complain," she added, endeavouring to rally
herself, and put on a cheerful countenance. "How have you been
"If you won't complain, I am sure that I have no right to, Anna."
"You cannot be happy, of course, Ma; that I know too well. None of
us, I fear, will ever be again happy in this world!" Anna said, in a
tone of despondency, her spirits again sinking.
No one replied to this; and a gloomy silence of many minutes
followed—a quiet almost as oppressive as the stillness that reigns
in the chamber of death. Then Mary commenced busying herself about
the evening meal.
"Tea is ready, Ma and Anna," she at length said, after their frugal
repast had been placed upon the table.
"Has not Alfred returned yet?" Anna asked.
"No," was the brief answer.
"Hadn't we better wait for him?"
"He knows that it is tea-time, and ought to be here, if he wants
any," the mother said. "You are tired and hungry, and we will not, of
The little family, three in number, gathered around the table, but
no one eat with an appetite of the food that was placed before them.
There were two vacant places at the board. The husband and son—the
father and brother—where were they?
In regard to the former, the presentation of a scene which occurred
a few weeks previous will explain all. First, however, a brief review
of the past seven years is necessary. After Mr. Graham's failure in
business, he gave himself up to drink, and sunk, with his whole
family, down into want and obscurity with almost unprecedented
rapidity. He seemed at once to become strangely indifferent to his
wife and children—to lose all regard for their welfare. In fact, he
had become, in a degree, insane from the sudden reverses which had
overtaken him, combined with the bewildering effects of strong
drinks, under whose influence he was constantly labouring.
Thus left to struggle on against the pressure of absolute want,
suddenly and unexpectedly brought upon them, and with no internal or
external resources upon which to fall promptly back, Mrs. Graham and
her daughters were for a time overwhelmed with despair. Alfred, to
whom they should have looked for aid, advice, and sustenance, in this
hour of severe trial, left almost entirely to himself, as far as his
father had been concerned, for some two years, had sunk into habits of
dissipation from which even this terrible shock had not the power to
arouse him. Having made himself angry in his opposition to, and
resistance of, all his mother's admonitions, warnings, and
persuasions, he seemed to have lost all affection for her and his
sisters. So that a sense of their destitute and distressed condition
had no influence over him—at least, not sufficient to arouse him
into active exertions for their support. Thus were they left utterly
dependent upon their own resources—and what was worse, were burdened
with the support of both father and brother.
The little that each had been able to save from the general wreck,
was, as a means of sustenance, but small. Two or three gold watches
and chains, with various articles of (sic) jewelery, fancy
work-boxes, and a number of trifles, more valued than valuable, made
up, besides a remnant of household furniture, the aggregate of their
little wealth. Of course, the mother and daughters were driven, at
once, to some expedient for keeping the family together. A
boarding-house, that first resort of nearly all destitute females,
upon whom families are dependent, especially of those who have
occupied an elevated position in society, was opened, as the only
means of support that presented itself. The result of this
experiment, continued for a year and a half, was a debt of several
hundred dollars, which was liquidated by the seizure of Mrs. Graham's
furniture. But worse than this, a specious young man, one of the
boarders, had won upon the affections of Ellen, and induced her to
marry him. He, too soon, proved himself to have neither a true
affection for her, nor to have sound moral principles. He was,
moreover, idle, and fond of gay company.
On the day that Mrs. Graham broke up her boardinghouse, Markland,
her daughter's husband, was discharged from his situation as clerk,
on account of inefficiency. For six months previous, the time he had
been married, he had paid no boarding, thus adding himself as a dead
weight to the already overburdened family. As he had no house to
which he could take Ellen, he very naturally felt himself authorized
to share the house to which the distressed family of her mother
retired, seemingly regardless of how or by whom the food he daily
consumed was provided.
But Mrs. Graham was soon reduced to such extremities, that he was
driven off from her, with his wife, and forced to obtain employment
by which to support himself and her. As for the old man, he had
managed, in the wreck of affairs, to retain a large proportion of his
wines, and other choice liquors; and these, which no pressure of want
in his family could drive him to sell, afforded the means of
gratifying his inordinate love of drink. His clothes gradually became
old and rusty—but this seemed to give him no concern. He wandered
listlessly in his old business haunts, or lounged about the house in a
state of half stupor, drinking regularly all through the day, at
frequent periods, and going to bed, usually, at nights, in a state of
When the boarding-house was given up, poor Mrs. Graham, whose
health and spirits had both rapidly declined in the past two years,
felt utterly at a loss what to do. But pressing necessities required
"Anna, child, what are we to do," she said, rousing herself, one
evening, while sitting alone with her daughters in gloomy
"Indeed, Ma, I am as much at a loss as you are. I have been
thinking and thinking about it, until my min—has become beclouded and
"I have been thinking, too," said Mary, "and it strikes me that
Anna and I might do something in the way of ornamental needlework.
Both of us, you know, are fond of it."
"Do you think that we can sell it, after it is done?" Anna asked,
with a lively interest in her tone.
"I certainly do. We see plenty of such work in the shops; and they
must buy it, of course."
"Let us try, then, Mary," her sister said with animation.
A week spent in untiring industry, produced two elegantly wrought
capes, equal to the finest French embroidery.
"And, now, where shall we sell them?" Anna inquired, in a tone of
"Mrs.—would, no doubt, buy them; but I, for one, cannot bear the
thought of going there."
"Nor I. But, driven by necessity, I believe that I could brave to
go there, or anywhere else, even though I have not been in
Chestnut-street for nearly two years."
"Will you go, then, Mary?" Anna asked, in an earnest, appealing
"Yes, Anna, as you seem so shrinkingly reluctant, I will go."
And forthwith Mary prepared herself; and rolling up the two elegant
capes, proceeded with them to the store of Mrs.—, in
Chestnut-street. It was crowded with customers when she entered, and
so she shrunk away to the back part of the store, until Mrs.—should
be more at leisure, and she could bargain with her without attracting
attention. She had stood there only a few moments,—when her ear
caught the sound of a familiar voice—that of Mary Williams, one of
her former most intimate associates. Her first impulse was to spring
forward, but a remembrance of her changed condition instantly
recurring to her, she turned more away from the light, so as to
effectually conceal herself from the young lady's observation. This
she was enabled to do, although Mary Williams came once or twice so
near as to brush her garments. How oppressively did her heart beat, at
such moments! Old thoughts and old feelings came rushing back upon
her, and in the contrast they occasioned between the past and the
present, she was almost overwhelmed with despondency. Customer after
customer came in, as one and another retired, many of whose faces were
familiar to Mary as old friends and acquaintances. At last, however,
after waiting nearly two hours, she made out to get an interview with
"Well, Miss, what do you want?" asked that personage, as Mary came
up before her where she still stood at the counter, for she had
observed her waiting in the store for some time. Mrs.—either did not
remember, or cared not to remember, her old customer, who had spent,
with her sisters, many hundreds of dollars in her store, in times
"I have a couple of fine wrought capes that I should like to sell,"
Mary said, in a timid, hesitating voice, unrolling, at the same time,
the articles she named.
"Are they French?" asked Mrs.—, without pausing in her employment
of rolling up some goods, to take and examine the articles proffered
"No, ma'am; they are some of my own and sister's work."
"They won't do, then, Miss. Nothing in the way of fine collars and
capes will sell, unless they are French."
Mary felt chilled at heart as Mrs.—said this, and commenced
slowly rolling up her capes, faint with disappointment. As she was
about turning from the counter, Mrs.—said, in rather an indifferent
"Suppose you let me look at them."
"I am sure you will think them very beautiful," Mary replied,
quickly unrolling her little bundle. "They have been wrought with
"Sure enough, they are quite well done," Mrs.—said, coldly, as
she glanced her eyes over the capes. "Almost equal in appearance to
the French. But they are only domestic; and domestic embroidered work
won't bring scarcely anything. What do you ask for these?"
"We have set no price upon them; but think that they are richly
worth five or six dollars apiece."
"Five or six dollars!" ejaculated Mrs.—, in well feigned
surprise, handing back; suddenly, the capes. "O! no, Miss;—American
goods don't bring arty such prices."
"Then what will you give for them, Madam?"
"If you feel like taking two dollars apiece for them, you can leave
them. But I am not particular," Mrs.—said, in a careless tone.
"Two dollars!" repeated Mary, in surprise. "Surely, Mrs.—, they
are worth more than two dollars apiece!"
"I'm not at all anxious to give you even that for them," said
Mrs.—. "Not at all; for I am by no means sure that I shall ever get
my money back again."
"You will have to take them, then, I suppose," Mary replied, in a
disappointed and desponding tone.
"Very well, Miss, I will give you what I said." And Mrs.—took the
capes, and handed Mary Graham four dollars in payment.
"If we should conclude to work any more, may we calculate on
getting the same money for them?"
"I can't say positively, Miss; but I think that you may calculate
on that price for as many as you will bring."
Mary took the money, and turned away. It was only half an hour
after, that Mrs.—sold one of them, as "French," for twelve dollars!
Sadly, indeed, were the sisters disappointed at this result. But
nothing better offering that they could do, they devoted themselves,
late and early, to their needles, the proceeds of which rarely went
over five dollars per week; for two years they continued to labour
At the end of that period, Anna sunk under her self-imposed task,
and lay ill for many weeks. Especially forbidden by the physician, on
her recovery, to enter again upon sedentary employments, Anna cast
earnestly about her for some other means whereby to earn something for
the common stock. Necessity, during the past two years, had driven her
frequently into business parts of the city for the purchase of
materials such as they used. Her changed lot gave her new eyes, and
her observations were necessarily made upon a new class of facts. She
had seen shop-girls often enough before, but she had never felt any
sympathy with them, nor thought of gaining any information about them.
They might receive one dollar a week, or twenty, or work for
nothing—it was all the same to her. Even if any one had given her
correct information on the subject, she would have forgotten it in ten
minutes. But now, it was a matter of interest to know how much they
could make—and she had obtained a knowledge of the fact, that they
earned from three to six and seven dollars a week, according to their
capacities or the responsibility of their stations.
When, therefore, her shattered health precluded her from longer
plying her needle, much as she shrank from the publicity and exposure
of the position, she resolutely set about endeavouring to obtain a
situation as saleswoman in some retail dry-goods store. One of the
girls in Mrs.—'s store, who knew all about her family, and deeply
commiserated her condition, interested herself for her, and succeeded
in getting her a situation, at four dollars a week, in Second-street.
To enter upon the employment that now awaited her, was indeed a severe
trial; but she went resolutely forward, in the way that duty called.
The sudden change from a sedentary life to one of activity, where
she had to be on her feet all day, tried her feeble strength
severely. It was with difficulty that she could sometimes keep up at
all, and she went home frequently at night in a burning fever. But
she gradually acquired a kind of power of endurance, that kept her
up. She did not seem to suffer less, but had more strength, as it
were, to bear up, and hold on with unflinching resolution.
Thus she had gone on for two or three years, at the time she was
again introduced, with her mother and sister, to the reader.
As for their father, his whole stock of liquors had been exhausted
for nearly two years, and, during that time, he had resorted to many
expedients to obtain the potations he so much loved. Finally, he
became so lost to all sense of right or feeling, that he would take
money, or anything he could carry off from the house, for the purpose
of obtaining liquor. This system had stripped them of many necessary
articles, as well as money, and added very greatly to their distress,
as well as embarrassments.
At last, everything that he could take had been taken, and as
neither his wife nor daughters would give him any money, his supply
of stimulus was cut off, and he became almost mad with the
intolerable desire that was burning within him for the fiery poison
which had robbed him of rationality and freedom.
"Give me some money!" he said, in an excited tone, to his wife,
coming in hurriedly from the street, one day about this time. His
face was dark and red, as if there were a congestion of the blood in
the veins of the skin, while his hands trembled, and his whole frame
was strongly agitated. Those who had been familiar with that old man,
years before, would hardly have recognized him now, in his old worn
and faded garments.
"I have no money for you," his wife replied. "You have already
stripped us of nearly everything."
"Buy me some brandy, then."
"No. I cannot do that either. Brandy has cursed you and your
family. Why do you not abandon it for ever?"
"I must have brandy, or die! Give me something to drink, in the
name of heaven!"
The wild look that her husband threw upon her, alarmed Mrs. Graham,
and she hesitated no longer, but handed him a small piece of money.
Quick as thought, he turned away and darted from the house.
It was, perhaps, after the lapse of about half an hour that he
returned. He opened the door, when he did so, quietly, and stood
looking into the room for a few moments. Then he turned his head
quickly from the right to the left, glancing fearfully behind him
once or twice. In a moment or two afterwards he started forward, with
a strong expression of alarm upon his countenance, and seated himself
close beside Mrs. Graham, evidently in the hope of receiving her
protection from some dreaded evil.
"What is the matter?" quickly exclaimed Mrs. Graham, starting up
with a frightened look.
"It is really dreadful!" he said. "What can it all mean?"
"What is dreadful?" asked his wife, her heart throbbing with an
"There! Did you ever see such an awful sight? Ugh!" and he shrunk
behind her chair, and covered his eyes with his hands.
"I see nothing, Mr. Graham," his wife said, after a few moments of
hurried thought, in which she began to comprehend the fact that her
husband's mind was wandering.
"There is nothing here that will hurt you, father," Mary added,
coming up to him, as her own mind arrived at a conclusion similar to
"Nothing to hurt me!" suddenly screamed the old man, springing to
his feet, and throwing himself backwards half across the room; "and
that horrible creature already twining himself about my neck, and
strangling me! Take it off! take it off!" he continued, in a wild cry
of terror, making strong efforts to tear something away from his
"Take it off'! Why don't you take it off! Don't you see that it is
choking me to death! Oh! oh! oh!" (uttered in a terrific scream.)
Panting, screaming and struggling, he continued in this state of
awful alarm, vainly endeavouring to extricate himself from the toils
of an imaginary monster, that was suffocating him, until he sank
exhausted to the floor.
Happily for his alarmed and distressed family, two or three
neighbours, who had been startled by the old man's screams,—came
hurriedly in, and soon comprehended the nature of his aberration. A
brief consultation among themselves determined them, understanding,
as they did perfectly, the condition of the family, and his relation
to them, to remove him at once to the Alms-House, where he could get
judicious medical treatment, and be out of the sight and hearing of
his wife and children.
One of them briefly explained to Mrs. Graham, and Mary, the nature
of his mental affection, and the absolute necessity that there was
for his being placed where the most skilful and judicious management
of his case could be had. After some time, he gained their reluctant
consent to have him taken to the Alms-House. A carriage was then
obtained, and he forced into it, amid the tears and remonstrances of
the wife and daughter, who had already repented of their acquiescence
in what their judgment had approved. Old affection had rushed back
upon their hearts, and feelings became stronger than reason.
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when this occurred.
Early on the next morning, Mrs. Graham, with Mary and Anna, went out
to see him. Their inquiries about his condition were vaguely answered,
and with seeming reluctance, or as it appeared to them, with
indifference. At length the matron of the institution asked them to
go with her, and they followed on, through halls and galleries, until
they came to a room, the door of which she opened, with a silent
indication for them to enter.
They entered alone. Everything was hushed, and the silence that of
the chamber of death. In the centre of the room lay the old man. A
single glance told the fearful tale. He was dead! Dead in the
pauper's home! Seven years before, a millionaire—now sleeping his
last sleep in the dead-room of an Alms-House, and his beggared wife
and children weeping over him in heart-broken and hopeless sorrow.
From that time the energies of Mary and Anna seemed paralyzed; and
it was only with a strong effort that Mrs. Graham could rouse herself
from the stupor of mind and body that had settled upon her.
Mrs. Graham and her two daughters had nearly finished their evening
meal, at the close of the day alluded to some pages back, when the
sound of rapidly hurrying footsteps was heard on the pavement. In a
moment after, a heavy blow was given just at their door, and some one
fell with a groan against it. The weight of the body forced it open,
and the son and brother rolled in upon the floor, with the blood
gushing from a ghastly wound in his forehead. His assailant instantly
fled. Bloated, disfigured, in coarse and worn clothing, how different,
even when moving about, was he from the genteel, well-dressed young
man of a few years back! Idleness and dissipation had wrought as great
a change upon him as it had upon his father, while he was living. Now
he presented a shocking and loathsome appearance.
The first impulse of Mary was to run for a physician, while the
mother and Anna attempted to stanch the flow of blood, that had
already formed a pool upon the floor. Assistance was speedily
obtained, and the wound dressed; but the young man remained
insensible. As the physician turned from the door, Mrs. Graham sank
fainting upon her bed. Over-tried nature could bear up no longer.
"Doctor, what do you think of him?" asked the mother, anxiously,
three days after, as the physician came out of Alfred's room. Since
the injury he had received, he had lain in a stupor, but with much
"His case, Madam, is an extremely critical one. I have tried in
vain to control that fever."
"Do you think him very dangerous, Doctor?" Mary asked, in a husky
"I certainly do. And, to speak to you the honest truth, have,
myself, no hope of his recovery. I think it right that you should
"No hope, Doctor!" Mrs. Graham said, laying her hand upon the
physician's arm, while her face grew deadly pale. "No hope!—My only
son die thus!—O! Doctor, can you not save him?"
"I wish it were in my power, Madam. But I will not flatter you with
false hopes. It will be little less than a miracle should he
The mother and sisters turned away with an air of hopelessness from
the physician, and he retired slowly, and with oppressed feelings.
When they returned to the sick chamber, a great change had already
taken place in Alfred. The prediction of the physician, it was
evident to each, as all bent eagerly over him, was about to be too
surely and too suddenly realized. His face, from being slightly
flushed with fever, had become sunken, and ghastly pale, and his
respiration so feeble that it was almost imperceptible.
The last and saddest trial of this ruined family had come. The son
and brother, for whom now rushed back upon their hearts the tender
and confiding affection of earlier years, was lingering upon life's
extremest verge. It seemed that they could not give him up. They felt
that, even though he were neglectful of them, they could not do
without him. He was a son and brother; and, while he lived, there was
still hope of his restoration. The strength of that hope, entertained
by each in the silent chambers of affection, was unknown before—its
trial revealed its power over each crushed and sinking heart.
But the passage of each moment brought plainer and more palpable
evidence of approaching dissolution. For about ten minutes he had
lain so still, that they were suddenly aroused by the fear that he
might be already dead Softly did the mother lay her hand upon his
forehead. Its cold and clammy touch sent an icy thrill to her heart
Then she bent her ear to catch even the feeblest breath—but she
could distinguish none.
"He is dead!" she murmured, sinking down and burying her face in
The cup of their sorrow was, at last, full—full and running over!
THE RUINED FAMILY
STUNNED by this new affliction, which seemed harder to bear than
any of the terrible ones that had gone before, Mrs. Graham sunk into a
state of half unconsciousness; but Anna still lingered over the
insensible body of her brother, and though reason told her that the
spirit had taken its everlasting departure, her heart still hoped
that it might not be so,—that a spark yet remained which would
The pressure of her warm hand upon his cold, damp forehead, mocked
her hopes. His motionless chest told of the vanity of her fond
anticipations of seeing his heart again quicken into living activity.
And yet, she could not give him up. She could not believe that he was
dead. As she still hung over him, it seemed to her that there was a
slight twitching of the muscles about the neck. How suddenly did her
heart bound and throb until its strong pulsations pained her! Eagerly
did she bend down upon him, watching for some more palpable sign of
returning animation. But nothing met either her eye or her ear that
strengthened the newly awakened hope.
After waiting, vainly, for some minutes, until the feeble hope she
had entertained began to fail, Anna stepped quickly to the
mantelpiece, and lifted from it a small looking-glass, with which she
returned to the bedside. Holding this close to the face of her
brother, she watched the surface with an eager anxiety that almost
caused the beating of her heart to cease. As a slight mist slowly
gathered upon the glass and obscured its surface, Anna cried out with
a voice that thrilled the bosoms of her mother and sister—
"He lives! he lives!" and gave way to a gush of tears.
This sudden exclamation, of course, brought Mrs. Graham and Mary to
the bedside, who instantly comprehended the experiment which Anna had
been making and understood the result. The mother, in turn, with
trembling hands, lifted the mirror, and held it close to the face of
her son. In a moment or two, its surface was obscured, plainly
indicating that respiration, though almost imperceptible, was still
going on,—that life still lingered in the feeble body before them.
Gradually, now, the flame that had well-nigh gone out, kindled up
again, but so slowly, that for many hours the mother and sisters were
in doubt whether it were really brightening or not. The fever that had
continued for several days, exhausting the energies of the young man's
system, had let go its hold, because scarcely enough vital energy
remained for it to subsist upon. In its subsidence, life trembled on
the verge of extinction. But there was yet sufficient stamina for it
to rally upon; and it did rally, and gradually, but very slowly,
In an earnest spirit of thankfulness for this restoration of
Alfred, did the mother and sisters look up to the Giver of all good,
and with tearful devotion pray that there might ensue a moral as well
as a physical restoration. For years, they had not felt towards him
the deep and yearning tenderness that now warmed their bosoms. They
longed to rescue him, not for their sakes, but for his own, from the
horrible pit and the miry clay into which he had fallen.
"O, if we could but save him, sister!" Anna said, as she sat
conversing with Mary, after all doubt of his recovery had been
removed. "If we could only do some. thing to restore our brother to
himself, how glad I should be!"
"I would do anything in my power," Mary replied, "and sacrifice
everything that it was right to sacrifice, if, by so doing, I could
help Alfred to conquer his besetting evils. I cannot tell you how I
feel about it. It seems as if it would break my heart to have him
return again into his old habits of life: and yet, what have we to
found a hope upon, that he will not so return?"
"I feel just as you do about it, Mary," her sister said. "The same
yearning desire to save him, and the same hopelessness as to the
"There is one way, it seems to me, in which we might influence
"What is that, Mary?"
"Let us manifest towards him, fully, the real affection that we
feel; perhaps that may awaken a chord in this own bosom, and thus
lead him, for our sakes, to enter upon a new course of life."
"We can at least try, Mary. It can do no harm, and may result in
With the end of his reformation in view, the two sisters, during
his convalescence, attended him with the most assiduous and
affectionate care. The moment Anna would come home from the store at
night, she would repair with a smiling countenance to his bedside, and
although usually so fatigued as to be compelled to rally her spirits
with an effort, she would seem so interested and cheerful and active
to minister in some way to his pleasure, that Alfred began to look
forward every day as the evening approached, with a lively interest,
for her return. This Mary observed, and it gave her hope.
Three weeks soon passed away, when Alfred was so far recovered as
to be able to walk out.
"Do not walk far, brother," Mary said, laying her hand gently upon
his arm, and looking him with affectionate earnestness in the face.
"You are very weak, and the fatigue might bring on a relapse."
"I shall only walk a little way, Mary," he replied, as he opened
the door and went out.
Neither the mother nor sister could utter the fear that each felt,
lest Alfred should meet with and fall in temptation before he
returned. This fear grew stronger and stronger, as the minutes began
to accumulate, and lengthen to an hour. A period of ten or fifteen
minutes was as long as they had any idea of his remaining away. Where
could he be? Had he been taken sick; or was he again yielding to the
seductions of a depraved and degrading appetite? The suspense became
agonizing to their hearts, as not only one, but two, and even three
hours passed, bringing the dim twilight, and yet he returned not.
In the meantime, the young man, whose appearance the careful hand
of Mary and her sister had been rendered far superior to what it had
been for years past, went out from his mother's humble dwelling, and
took his way slowly down one of the streets, leading to the main
portion of the city, with many thoughts of a painful character
passing through his mind. The few weeks that he had been confined to
the house, and in constant association with his mother, and one or
both of his sisters, who were at home, had startled his mind into
reflection. He could not but contrast their constant and affectionate
devotion to him, with his own shameful and criminal neglect of them.
Conceal her real feelings as she would, it did not escape his notice,
that when Anna came home at night, she was so much exhausted as to be
hardly able to sit up; and as for Mary, often when she dreamed not
that he was observing her, had he noticed her air of languor and
exhaustion, and her half-stifled expression of pain,—as she bent
resolutely over her needle-work. Never before had he felt so indignant
towards Ellen's husband for his neglect and abuse of her, his once
favourite sister; and, indeed, the favourite of the whole family.
It was, to his own mind, a mystery how he ever could have sunk so
low, and become so utterly regardless of his mother and sisters.
"Wretch! wretch! miserable wretch that I am!" he would, sometimes,
mentally exclaim, turning his face to the wall as he lay reviewing,
involuntarily, his past life. Uniformly it happened, that following
such a crisis in his feelings, would be some affectionate word or
kind attention from Mary or his mother, smiting upon his heart with
emotions of the keenest remorse.
It was under the influence of such feelings that he went out on the
afternoon just alluded to. Still, no settled plan of reformation had
been formed in his mind, for the discouraging question would
constantly arise while pondering gloomily over his condition and the
condition of the family.
"What can I do?" To this, he could find no satisfactory answer.
Three or four years of debasing drunkenness, had utterly separated
him from those who had it in their power to encourage and strengthen
his good desires,—and to put him in the way of providing for himself
and his family, by an industrious application to some kind of
He had walked slowly on, in painful abstraction, for about five
minutes, when a hand was laid on his arm, and a familiar voice said—
"Is this you, Graham! Where in the name of Pluto have you been, for
the last three weeks? Why, how blue you look about the gills! Havn't
been sick, I hope?"
"Indeed I have, Harry," Alfred replied, in a feeble voices. "It
came very near being all over with me."
"Indeed! Well, what was the matter?"
Raising his hat, and displaying a long and still angry-looking
wound on the side of his head, from which the hair had been carefully
cut away, he said—
"Do you see that?"
"I reckon I do."
"Well, that came very near doing the business for me."
"How did it happen?"
"I hardly know, myself. I was drunk, I suppose, and quarrelled with
some one, or insulted some one in the street—and this was the
"Really, Graham, you have made a narrow escape."
"Havn't I? It kept me in bed for nearly three weeks, and now, I can
just totter about. This is the first time I have been outside of the
house since it happened."
"You certainly do look weak and feeble enough," replied his old
friend and crony, who added, in a moment after,
"But come! take a drink with me at the tavern across here. You
stand in need of something."
"No objection, and thank you," Alfred rejoined, at once moving over
towards a well-known, low tavern, quenching in imagination a morbid
thirst that seemed instantly created, by a draught of sweetened
"What will you take?" asked his friend, as the two came up to the
"I'll take a mint sling," Alfred replied.
"Two mint slings," said his companion, giving his orders to the
"Hallo, Graham! Is this you?" exclaimed one or two loungers, coming
forward, and shaking him heartily by the hand. "We had just made up
our minds that you had joined the cold-water army."
"Indeed!" suddenly ejaculated Graham, an instant consciousness of
what he was, where he was, and what he was about to do, flashing over
his mind. "I wish to heaven your conclusion had been true!"
This sudden charge in his manner, and his earnestly, indeed
solemnly expressed wish, were received with a burst of laughter.
"Here Dan," said one, to the bar-keeper, "havn't you a pledge for
him to sign."
"O, yes! Bring a pledge! Bring a pledge! Has no one a pledge?"
rejoined another, in a tone of ridicule.
"Yes, here is one," said a man in a firm tone, entering the shop at
the moment. "Who wants to sign the pledge?"
"I do!" Graham said, in a calm voice.
"Then here it is," the stranger replied, drawing a sheet of paper
from his pocket, and unrolling it.
"Give me a pen Dan," Alfred said, turning to the barkeeper.
"Indeed, then, and I won't," retorted that individual, "I'm not
going to lend a stick to break my own head."
"O, never mind, young man, I can supply pen and ink," said the
stranger, drawing forth a pocket inkstand.
Alfred eagerly seized the pen that was offered to him, and
instantly subscribed the total abstinence pledge.
"Another fool caught!" sneered one.
"Ha! ha! ha! What a ridiculous farce!" chimed in another.
"He'll be rolling in the gutter before three days, feeling upwards
for the ground," added a third.
"Why, I don't believe he can see through a ladder now;" the first
speaker said, with his contemptuous sneer. "Look here, mister," to
the stranger who had appeared so opportunely. "This is all gammon!
He's been fooling you."
"Come along, my friend," was all the stranger said, drawing his arm
within that of the penitent young man, as he did so,—"this is no
place for you."
And the two walked slowly out, amid the laughter, sneers, and open
ridicule of the brutal company. Once again in the open air, Alfred
breathed more freely.
"O, sir," he said, grasping the hand of the individual who had
appeared so opportunely—"you have saved me from my last temptation,
into which I was led so naturally, that I had not an idea of danger.
If I had fallen then, as I fear I should have fallen but for you, I
must have gone down, rapidly, to irretrievable ruin. How can I
express to you the grateful emotions that I now feel?"
"Express them not to me, young man," the stranger said, in a solemn
voice; "but to him, who in his merciful providence, sent me just at
the right moment to meet your last extremity. Look up to him, and,
whenever tempted, let your conscious weakness repose in his strength,
and no evil power can prevail against you. Be true to the resolution
of this hour—to your pledge—to those who have claims upon
you, for such, I know there must be, and you shall yet fill that
position of usefulness in society, which no one else but you can
occupy. And now let me advise you to go home, and ponder well this
act, and your future course. No matter how dark all may now seem,
light will spring up. If you are anxious to walk in a right path, and
to minister to those who have claims upon you, the way will be made
plain. This encouragement I can give you with confidence; for twelve
months ago, I trembled on the brink of ruin, as you have
just been trembling. I was once a slave to the same wild
infatuation that has held you in bondage. Hope, then, with a vigorous
hope, and that hope will be a guarantee for your future elevation!"
And so saying, the stranger shook the hand of Alfred heartily, and,
turning, walked hastily away.
The young man had proceeded only a few paces when he observed his
old friend and companion, Charles Williams, driving along towards
him. No one had done so much towards corrupting his morals, and
enticing him away from virtue, as that individual. But he had checked
himself in his course of dissipation, long before, while Alfred had
sunk rapidly downward. Years had passed since any intercourse had
taken place between them, for their condition in life had long been as
different as their habits. Charles had entered into business with his
father, and was now active and enterprising, increasing the income of
the firm by his energy and industry.
His eye rested upon Graham, the moment he came near enough to
observe him. There was something familiar about his gait and manner,
that attracted the young man's attention. At first, he did not
distinguish, through the disguise that sickness and self-imposed
poverty had thrown over Alfred, his old companion. But, suddenly, as
he was about passing, he recognised him, and instantly reined up his
"It is only a few minutes since I was thinking about you, Alfred,"
he said. "How are you? But you do not look well. Have you been sick?"
"I have been very ill, lately," Alfred Graham replied, in a
mournful tone; former thoughts and feelings rushing back upon him in
consequence of this unexpected interview, and quite subduing him.
"I am really sorry to hear it," the young man said, sympathizingly.
"What has been the matter?"
"A slow fever. This is the first time I have been out for weeks."
"A ride, then, will be of use to you. Get up, and let me drive you
out into the country. The pure air will benefit you, I am sure."
For a moment or two, Alfred stood irresolute. He could not believe
that he had heard aright.
"Come," urged Williams. "We have often ridden before, and let us
have one more ride, if we should never go out again together. I wish
to have some talk with you."
Thus urged, Alfred, with the assistance of Charles Williams, got up
into the light wagon, in which the latter was riding, and in a moment
after was dashing off with him behind a spirited horse.
It was on the morning of a day, nearly a week previous to this
time, that Mary Williams, or rather Mrs. Harwood,—for Anna and Mary
Graham's old friend had become a married woman—entered the store of
Mrs.—on Chestnut-street, for the purchase of some goods.
While one of the girls in attendance was waiting upon her, she
observed a young woman, neatly, but poorly clad, whom she had often
seen there before, come in, and go back to the far end of the store.
In a little while, Mrs.—joined her, and received from her a small
package, handing her some money in return, when the young woman
retired, and walked quickly away. This very operation Mrs. Harwood
had several times seen repeated before, and each time she had felt
much interested in the timid and retiring stranger, a glance at whose
face she had never been able to gain.
"Who is that young woman?" she asked of the individual in
"She's a poor girl, that Mrs.—buys fine work from, out of mere
charity, she says."
"Do you know her name?"
"I have heard it, ma'am, but forget it."
"Have you any very fine French worked capes, Mrs.—," asked Mrs.
Harwood, as the individual she addressed came up to that part of the
counter where she was standing, still holding in her hand the small
package which had been received from the young woman. This Mrs.
"O, yes, ma'am, some of the most beautiful in the city."
"Let me see them, if you please."
A box was brought, and its contents, consisting of a number of very
rich patterns of the article asked for, displayed.
"What is the price of this?" asked Mrs. Harwood, lifting one, the
pattern of which pleased her fancy.
"That is a little damaged," Mrs.—replied. "But here is one of the
same pattern," unrolling the small parcel she had still continued to
hold in her hand, "which has just been returned by a lady, to whom I
sent it for examination, this morning."
"It is the same pattern, but much more beautifully wrought," Mrs.
Harwood said, as she examined it carefully. "These are all French,
"Of course, ma'am. None but French goods come of such exquisite
"What do you ask for this?"
"It is worth fifteen dollars, ma'am. The pattern is a rich one, and
the work unusually fine."
"Fifteen dollars! That is a pretty high price, is it not, Mrs.—?"
"O, no, indeed, Mrs. Harwood! It cost me very nearly fourteen
dollars—and a dollar is a small profit to make on such articles."
After hesitating for a moment or two, Mrs. Harwood said—
"Well, I suppose I must give you that for it, as it pleases me."'
And she took out her purse, and paid the price that Mrs.—had
asked. She still stood musing by the side of the counter, when the
young woman who had awakened her interest a short time before,
re-entered, and came up to Mrs.—, who was near her.
"I have a favour to ask, Mrs.—," she overheard her say, in a half
tremulous, and evidently reluctant tone.
"Well, what is it?" Mrs.—coldly asked.
"I want six dollars more than I have got, for a very particular
purpose. Won't you advance me the price of three capes, and I will
bring you in one a week, until I have made it up."
"No, miss," was the prompt and decisive answer—"I never pay any
one for work not done. Pay beforehand, and never pay, are the two
worst kinds of pay!"
All this was distinctly heard by Mrs. Harwood, and her very heart
ached, as she saw the poor girl turn, with a disappointed air, away,
and walk slowly out of the store.
"That's just the way with these people," ejaculated Mrs.—, in
affected indignation, meant to mislead Mrs. Harwood, who, she feared,
had overheard what the young woman had said. "They're always trying in
some way or other, to get the advantage of you."
"How so?" asked Mrs. Harwood, wishing to learn all she could about
the stranger who had interested her feelings.
"Why, you see, I pay that girl a good price for doing a certain
kind of work for me, and the money is always ready for her, the moment
her work is done. But, not satisfied with that, she wanted me, just
now, to advance her the price of three weeks' work. If I had been
foolish enough to have done it, it would have been the last I ever
should have seen of either money, work, or seamstress."
"Perhaps not," Mrs. Harwood ventured to remark.
"You don't know these kind of people as well as I do, Mrs. Harwood.
I've been tricked too often in my time."
"Of course not," was the quiet reply. Then after a pause,
"What kind of sewing did she do for you, Mrs.—?"
"Nothing very particular; only a little fine work. I employ her,
more out of charity, than anything else."
"Do you know anything about her?"
"She's old Graham's daughter, I believe. I'm told he died in the
Alms-house, a few weeks ago."
"What old Graham?" Mrs. Harwood asked, in a quick voice.
"Why, old Graham, the rich merchant that was, a few years ago.
Quite a tumble-down their pride has had, I reckon! Why, I remember
when nothing in my store was good enough for them. But they are glad
enough now to work for me at any price I choose to pay them."
For a few moments, Mrs. Harwood was so shocked that she could not
reply. At length she asked—
"Which of the girls was it that I saw here, just now?"
"That was Mary."
"Do you know anything of Anna?"
"Yes. She stands in a store in Second-street."
"Married to a drunken, worthless fellow, who abuses and half
starves her. But that's the way; pride must have a fall!"
"Where do they live?" pursued Mrs. Harwood.
"Indeed, and that's more than I know," Mrs.—replied, tossing her
Unable to gain any further information, Mrs. Harwood left the
store, well convinced that the richly-wrought cape, for which she had
paid Mrs.—fifteen dollars, had been worked by the hands of Mary
Graham, for which she received but a mere pittance.
Poor Mary returned home disappointed and deeply troubled in mind.
She had about three dollars in money, besides the two which Mrs.—had
paid her. If the six she had asked for had only been advanced, as she
fondly hoped would be the case, the aggregate sum, eleven dollars,
added to three which Anna had saved, would have enabled them to
purchase a coat and hat for their brother, who would be ready in a few
days to go out. They were anxious to do, this, under the hope, that by
providing him with clothes of a more respectable appearance than he
had been used to wearing, he would be led to think more of himself,
seek better company, and thus be further removed from danger. At her
first interview with Mrs.—, Mary's heart had failed her—and it was
only after she had left the store and walked some squares homeward,
that she could rally herself sufficiently to return and make her
request. It was refused, as has been seen.
"Did Mrs.—grant your request?" was almost the first question that
Anna asked of her sister that evening, when she returned from the
"No, Anna, I was positively refused," Mary replied, the tears
rising and almost gushing over her cheeks.
"Then we will only have to do the best we can with what little we
have. We shall not be able to get him a new coat; but we can have his
old one done up, with a new collar and buttons,—I priced a pair of
pantaloons at one of the clothing-stores, in Market-street, as I came
up this evening, and the man said three dollars and a half. They
looked pretty well. There was a vest, too, for a dollar. I heard one
of the young men in the store say, two or three days ago, that he had
sold his old hat, which was a very good one, to the hatter, from whom
he had bought a new one—or rather, that the hatter had taken the old
one on account, valued at a dollar. I asked him a question or two, and
learned that many hatters do this, and sell the old hats at the same
that they have allowed for them. One of these I will try to get,—even
if a good deal worn; it will look far better than the one he has at
"In that case, then," Mary said, brightening up, "we can still get
him fitted up respectably. O, how glad I shall be! Don't you think,
sister, that we have good reason to hope for him?"
"I try to think so, Mary. But my heart often trembles with fearful
apprehensions when I think of his going out among his old associates
again. It will be little less than a miracle if he should not fall."
"Don't give way to desponding thoughts, sister. Let us hope so
strongly for the best, that our very hope shall compass its own
fruition. He cannot, he must not, go back!"
Anna did not reply. Her own feelings were inclined to droop and
despond, but she did not wish to have her sister's droop and despond
likewise. One reason for her saddened feelings arose from the fact,
that she had a painful consciousness that she should not long be able
to retain her present situation. Her health was sinking so rapidly,
that it was only by the aid of strong resolutions, which lifted her
mind up and sustained her in spite of bodily weakness, that she was at
all enabled to get through with her duties. This she was conscious
could not last long.
On the next morning, when she attempted to rise from her bed, she
became so faint and sick that she was compelled to lie down again.
The feeling of alarm that instantly thrilled through her bosom, lest
she should no longer be able to minister to the wants of her mother,
and especially of her brother at this important crisis in his life,
acted as a stimulant to exhausted nature, and endowed her with a
degree of artificial strength that enabled her to make another and
more successful effort to resume her wearying toil.
But so weak did she feel, even after she had forced herself to take
a few mouthfuls of food at breakfast time, that she lingered for
nearly half an hour longer than her usual time of starting in order
to allow her system to get a little braced up, so that she could
stand the long walk she had to take.
"Good by, brother," she said in a cheerful tone, coming up to the
bed upon which Alfred lay, and stooping down and kissing him. "You
must try and sit up as much as you can to-day."
"Good by, Anna. I wish you didn't have to go away and stay so
To this, Anna could not trust herself to reply. She only pressed
tightly the hand she held in her own, and then turned quickly away.
It was nearly three quarters of an hour later than the time the
different clerks were required to be at the store, when Anna came in,
her side and head both paining her badly, in consequence of having
walked too fast.
"It's three quarters of an hour behind the time," the storekeeper
said, with a look and tone of displeasure, as he drew out his watch.
"I can't have such irregularity in my store, Miss Graham. This is the
third time within a few days, that you have come late."
A reply instantly rose to Anna's tongue, but she felt that it would
be useless—and would, perhaps, provoke remarks deeply wounding to
her feelings. She paused, therefore, only a moment, with a bowed
head, to receive her rebuke, and then passed quickly, and with a
meek, subdued air, to her station behind the counter. There were some
of her fellow-clerks who felt for and pitied Anna—there were others
who experienced a pleasure in hearing her reproved.
All through that day, with only the respite of some ten or fifteen
minutes, when she retired to eat alone the frugal repast of bread and
cold meat that she had brought with her for her dinner, did Anna stand
behind the shop-man's counter, attending to his customers with a
cheerful air and often a smiling countenance. She spoke to no one of
the pain in her breast, back, and side; and none of those around her
dreamed that, from extreme lassitude, she could scarcely stand beside
To her, suffering as she did, the hours passed slowly and heavily
away. It seemed as if evening would never come—as if she would have
to yield the struggle, much as she strove to keep up for the sake of
those she loved.
But even to the weary, the heavy laden, and the prisoner, the slow
lingering hours at length pass on, and the moment of respite comes.
The shadows of evening at last began to fall dimly around, and Anna
retired from her position of painful labour, and took her way
homeward. But not even the anticipation of speedily joining those she
loved, had power so to buoy up her spirits, that her body could rise
above its depressed and weakened condition. Her weary steps were
slowly taken, and it seemed to her that she should never be able to
reach home. Many, very many depressing thoughts passed through her
mind as she proceeded slowly on her homeward way. The condition of her
sister Ellen troubled her exceedingly. About one-third of her own and
Mary's earnings were required to keep her and her little ones from
absolute suffering; and Mary, like herself, she too plainly perceived
to be rapidly sinking under her burdens.
"What is to be done when we fail, heaven only knows!" she murmured,
as a vivid consciousness of approaching extremity arose in her mind.
As she said this, the idea of her brother presented itself, with
the hope that he would now exert for them a sustaining and supporting
energy—that he would be to them at last a brother. But this thought,
that made her heart leap in her bosom, she put aside with an audible—
"No,—no,—Do not rest on such a feeble hope!"
At last her hand was upon the latch, and she lifted it and entered.
"I am glad to see you home again, Anna," Alfred said, with an
expression of real pleasure and affection; as she came in.
"And I am glad to see you sitting up and looking so well, brother,"
Anna replied, her gloomy thoughts at once vanishing. "How do you feel
"O, I feel much better, sister. In a few days I hope I shall be
able to go out. But how are you? It seems to me that you do not look
"I do feel very much fatigued, Alfred," Anna said, while her tone,
in spite of her effort to make it appear cheerful, became sad. "We
are not permitted in our store to sit down for a moment, and I get so
tired by night that I can hardly keep up."
"But surely, Anna, you do not stand up all day long."
"Yes. Since I left this morning, I have been standing every moment,
with the exception of the brief period I took to eat my dinner."
This simple statement smote upon the heart of the young man, and
made him silent and thoughtful. He felt that, but for his neglect of
duty—but for his abandonment of himself to sensual and besotting
pleasures, this suffering, this self-devotion need not be.
Anna saw that what she had said was paining the mind of her
brother, and she grieved that she had been betrayed into making any
allusion to herself. To restore again the pleased expression to
Alfred's countenance, she dexterously changed the subject to a more
cheerful one, and was rewarded for her effort by seeing his eye again
brighten and the smile again playing about his lips.
Instead of sitting down after tea and assisting Mary with her
embroidery, as she usually did, Anna took a book and read aloud for
the instruction and amusement of all; but most for the sake of
Alfred-that he might feel with them a reciprocal pleasure, and thus
be enabled to perceive that there was something substantial to fall
back upon, if he would only consent to abandon the bewildering and
insane delights to which he had given himself up for years. The
effect she so much desired was produced upon the mind of her brother.
He did, indeed, feel, springing up within him, a new-born
pleasure,—and wondered to himself how he could so long have strayed
away from such springs of delight, to seek bitter waters in a tangled
and gloomy wilderness.
When the tender good-night was at last said, and Mary stretched her
wearied limbs in silent thoughtfulness beside her sister, there was a
feeble hope glimmering in the dark and gloomy abyss of doubt and
despondency that had settled upon her mind—a hope that her brother
would go forth from his sick chamber a changed man. On this hope,
fancy conjured up scenes and images of delight, upon which her mind
dwelt in pleased and dreamy abstraction, until sleep stole upon her,
and locked up her senses.
When she awoke, it was with the same sinking sensation that she had
experienced on the morning previous, and, indeed, on every morning
for many months past. The remembrance of the rebuke she had received
on the day before for being late at her place of business, acted as a
kind of stimulant to arouse her to exertion, so as to be able to get
off in time. It was, however, a few minutes past the hour when she
entered the store, the owner of which looked at his watch,
significantly, as she did so.
This day passed, as the previous one had, in pain and extreme
weariness—and so did the next, and the next, the poor girl's
strength failing her too perceptibly. During this time, Alfred's coat
had been repaired, a pair of pantaloons and a vest bought for him, and
also a second-hand hat of very respectable appearance—all ready so
soon as he should be strong enough to venture out. How anxiously, and
yet in fear and trembling, did the sisters look forward to that
period, which was to strengthen their feeble hopes, or scatter them to
"I do really feel very ill," Anna said, sinking back upon her
pillow, after making an attempt to rise, one morning some four or
five days after that on which Mary has been represented as
endeavouring to get an advance from Mrs.—.
"What is the matter?" Mary inquired kindly.
"My head aches most violently—and grows confused so soon as I
attempt to rise."
"Then I would lie still, Anna."
"No, I must be up, and getting ready to go to the store."
"I wouldn't go down to the store, if I were you, Anna. You had
better rest for a day."
"I cannot afford to lose a day," Anna said, again rising in bed,
and sitting upright, until the swimming in her head, that commenced
upon the least motion, had subsided. Then she got out upon the floor,
and stood for a few moments, while her head seemed reeling, and she
every instant about to sink down. In a little while this dizziness
went off, but her head throbbed and ached with aggravated violence.
At breakfast, she forced herself to swallow a small portion of
food, although her stomach loathed it; and then, with trembling limbs
and a feeling of faintness, she went out into the open air, and took
her way to the store. The fresh breeze, as it fell coolingly on her
fevered forehead, revived her in a degree; but long ere she had
reached the store her limbs were sinking under her with excessive
"Late again, miss—" said her employer, as she came in, with a look
of stern reproof.
"I have not been very well, sir," Anna replied, lifting her pale,
languid face, and looking appealingly into the countenance of the
"Then you should stay at home altogether, Miss," was is cold
response, as he turned away, leaving her to proceed to her accustomed
station at the counter.
The day happening to be one of unusual activity in business, Anna
was kept so constantly busy, that she could not find a moment in
which to relieve the fatigue she felt by even leaning on the counter.
Customer after customer came and went, and box after box was taken
from, and replaced again upon the shelves, in what seemed to her an
endless round. Sometimes her head ached so violently, that it was with
difficulty she could see to attend correctly to her business. And
sometimes she was compelled to steady herself by holding to the
counter to prevent sinking to the floor, from a feeling of faintness,
suddenly passing over her. Thus she held bravely on, under the feeble
hope that her indisposition, as she tried mentally to term it, would
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon that the fever which had
been very high all through the day, began to subside. This symptom
she noticed with an emotion of pleasure, as indicating a healthy
reaction in her system.
It was but half an hour after, that she sunk, fainting, to the
floor, at her place beside the counter. When the fever abated,
exhausted nature gave way.
For nearly an hour she remained insensible. And it was nearly two
hours before she had so far recovered as to be able to walk, when she
was suffered to go away unattended. It was seven o'clock, when, with a
face almost as white as ashes, and nearly sinking to the ground with
weakness, she arrived at home, and opening the door, slowly entered.
"O, Anna! What ails you?" exclaimed her mother.
"I feel very sick," the poor girl replied, sinking into a chair.
"But where is Alfred?" she asked, in a quicker tone, in which was a
strong expression of anxiety, as she glanced her eye about the room,
in a vain search for him.
"He has walked out," Mary said.
"Has he!" ejaculated Anna. "How long has he been away?"
"It is now nearly four hours,'" Mary said, endeavouring to conceal
the distress she felt, in pity for her sister, who was evidently
"Four hours!" exclaimed Anna, her face blanching to still whiter
hue. "Four hours! And do you not know where he is?"
"Indeed we do not, Anna. He went out to take a short walk, and said
he would not be gone more than ten or twenty minutes."
Anna did not reply, but turned slowly away, and entering her
chamber, threw herself exhausted upon her bed, feeling so utterly
wretched, that she breathed an audible wish that she might die. In
about ten minutes a carriage stopped at the door; and in a moment
after, amid the rattling of departing wheels, Alfred entered, looking
better and happier than he had looked for a long, long time. A single
glance told the mother and sister that all was right.
"O, brother! How could you stay away so long?" Mary said, springing
to his side, and grasping tightly his arm.
"I did not expect, when I walked out, that it would be so long
before I returned, Mary," he replied, kissing her cheek
affectionately. "But I met with an old, though long estranged friend,
who seeing that I had been ill, and needed fresh air, insisted on
taking me out into the country in his carriage. I could but consent. I
was, however, so weak, as to be obliged to go to bed, when about three
miles from the city, and lie there for a couple of hours. But I feel
well, very well now; and have some good news to tell you. But where is
"She has just come in, and gone up to her chamber. I do not think
her at all well to-night," Mary said.
"Poor girl! She is sacrificing herself for the good of others,"
Alfred remarked, with tenderness and interest.
"Shall I call her down?" Mary asked.
"O, yes,—by all means."
Mary went up and found her sister lying across the bed, with her
face buried in a pillow.
"Anna! Anna!" she said, taking hold of her and shaking her gently.
Anna immediately arose, and looking wildly around her, muttered
something that her sister could not comprehend.
"Anna, brother's come home."
But she did not seem to comprehend her meaning.
The glaring brightness of Anna's eyes, and her flushed cheeks,
convinced Mary that all was not right. Stepping to the head of the
stairs, she called to Alfred, who instantly came up.
"Here is Alfred, Anna," she said, as she re-entered the chamber,
accompanied by her brother.
For a moment or two, Anna looked upon him with a vacant stare, and
then closing her eyes, sunk back upon the bed, murmuring
"It is all over—all over."
"What is all over, Anna?" her sister asked.
"What is all over?" the sick girl responded, in a sharp, quick
tone, rising suddenly, and staring at Mary with a fixed look. "Why,
it's all over with him! Havn't I drained my heart's blood for him?
Havn't I stood all day at the counter for his sake, when I felt that I
was dying? But it's all over now! He is lost, and I shall soon be out
of this troublesome world!"
And then the poor half-conscious girl, covered her face with her
hands and sobbed aloud.
"Don't do so, dear sister!" Alfred said, pressing up to the
bedside, and drawing his arm around her. "Don't give way so! You won't
have to stand at the counter any longer. I am Alfred—your
brother—your long lost, but restored brother, who will care for you
and work for you as you have so long cared for and worked for him.
Take courage, dear sister! There are better and happier days for you.
Do not give up now, at the very moment when relief is at hand."
Anna looked her brother in the face for a few moments, steadily, as
her bewildered senses gradually returned, and she began to comprehend
truly what he said, and that it was indeed her brother who stood thus
before her, and thus appealed to her with affectionate earnestness.
"O, Alfred," the almost heart-broken creature, said—as she bent
forward, and leaned her head upon his bosom—"Heaven be praised, if
you are really and truly in earnest in what you say!"
"I am most solemnly in earnest, dear sister!" the young man said,
with fervency and emphasis. "Since I saw you this morning, I have
signed my name to the total abstinence pledge, and I will die before
that pledge shall be broken! And that is not all. I met Charles
Williams immediately after that act, and have had a long interview
with him. He confessed to me that he had often felt that he was much
to blame for having first introduced me into dissipated company, and
that he now desired to aid me in reforming and assisting my mother
and sisters, if I would only try and abandon my past evil courses. I
responded most gladly to his generous interest, and he then told me,
that if I would enter his and his father's store as a clerk, he would
make my salary at once a thousand dollars per annum. Of course I
assented to the arrangement with thankfulness. Dear mother! Dear
sisters! There is yet, I trust, a brighter day in store for you."
"May our Heavenly Father cause these good resolutions to abide for
ever, my son!" Mrs. Graham, who had followed her children up stairs,
said, with tearful earnestness.
"He will cause them to abide, mother, I know that he, will," Alfred
Just at that moment some one entered below—immediately after quick
feet ascended the stairs, and Ellen bounded into the room.
"O, I have such good news to tell!" she exclaimed, panting for
breath as she entered. "My husband has joined the reformers! I felt
so glad that I had to run over and let you know. O, aint it good
news, indeed!" And the poor creature clapped her hands together in an
ecstacy of delight.
"It is truly good news, my child," Mrs. Graham said, as she drew
her arm about the neck of Ellen. "And we too have glad tidings. Alfred
has joined them also, and has got a situation at a thousand dollars a
Ellen, who had always loved her brother, tenderly, notwithstanding
his vile habit of life, turned quickly towards him, and flinging her
arms about his neck, said while the tears gushed from her eyes,
"Dear brother! I have never wholly despaired of this hour. Truly,
my cup of joy is full and running over!"
It was about eleven o'clock on the next day, as Mary and her mother
sat conversing by the side of the bed upon which lay Anna, now too
ill to sit up, that a knock was heard below. Mrs. Graham went down
and opened the door, when an elegantly dressed lady entered, calling
her by name as she did so, at the same time asking for Anna and Mary.
She was shown up stairs by the mother, who did not recognise her,
although both voice and face seemed familiar. On entering the
chamber, Mary turned to her and exclaimed—
"Mary Williams! Is it possible!"
"And Mary Graham, is it indeed possible that I see you
thus!"—(kissing her)" And Anna—is that pale, worn face, the face of
my old friend and companion, Anna Graham?" And she bent down over the
bed and kissed the lips and cheek of the sick girl, tenderly, while
her eyes grew dim with tears. "How changed in a few short years!" she
added, as she took a proffered chair. "Who could have dreamed, seven
years ago, that we should ever meet thus!"
In a short time, as the first shock and surprise of meeting passed
off, Mary Williams, or rather Mrs. Harwood, entered into a serious
conversation with Mrs. Graham, and her daughters, in reference to the
past, the present, and the future. After learning all that she could
of their history since their father's failure, which was detailed
without disguise by Mary—Anna was too feeble to converse—Mrs.
Harwood turned to Mary and asked suddenly—
"Do you know this cape, Mary?" alluding to one she had on.
"O, yes—very well."
"You worked it, did you not?"
"For what price?"
"Is it possible! I bought it of Mrs.—for French, and paid her for
it fifteen dollars."
"Fifteen dollars!" ejaculated Mary, in surprise. "How shamefully
that woman has imposed upon me! During the last two years, I have
worked at least one hundred capes for her, each of which brought me
in only two dollars. No doubt she has regularly sold them for French
goods, at from ten to fifteen dollars apiece."
"No doubt of it. I, myself, have bought several from her during
that time at high prices, all of which may have been worked by you. I
saw you in her store a few days ago, but did not recognise you,
although your appearance, as it did several times here before,
attracted my attention. I had my suspicions, after I had learned from
Mrs.—who you were, that you had wrought this cape, and from having
overheard you ask her for an advance of six dollars, as the price of
three capes, was pretty well satisfied that two dollars was all you
received for it. I at once determined to seek you out, and try to aid
you in your severe struggle with the world. It was only last evening
that I learned from my brother where you lived—and I also learned,
what rejoiced my heart, that there was about occurring a favourable
change in your circumstances. If, however, your health should permit,
and your inclination prompt you to do so, I will take care that you
get a much better price for any capes that you may hereafter work.
They are richly worth ten and twelve dollars apiece, and at that
price, I have no doubt but that I can get sales for many."
"Bless you, Mary! Bless you!" Anna said, smiling through gushing
tears, as she rose up in the bed, and bent over towards her old
friend and companion. "Your words have fallen upon my heart like a
Mrs. Harwood came forward, and received the head of Anna upon her
bosom, while she drew an arm round her waist, and bent down and
pressed her with tenderness and affection.
A better day had truly dawned upon this ruined and deeply afflicted
family. Mrs. Harwood and her brother continued to be their steady
friends. For a year Alfred remained in his new situation as an
efficient clerk, and at the end of that time had his salary advanced.
During that period, Mary, and Anna, whose health had become measurably
restored, employed all their spare time in embroidery, which, at the
excellent prices which, through the aid of Mrs. Harwood, they were
enabled to get for their really beautiful work, brought in a handsome
addition to their brother's earnings, and this enabled them to live in
independence, comfort and respectability. As for Ellen, her husband
had become truly a reformed man, and provided for her comfortably.
It is now nearly two years since this happy change took place, and
there is every appearance that another and a still happier one is
about to occur in reference to Anna. Charles Williams is seen very
often, of late, riding out with her and attending her to public
places. The reader can easily guess the probable result. If there; is
not a wedding-party soon, then appearances, in this case at least, are