by T.S. Arthur
OR, THE TRIALS OF A SEAMSTRESS
CHAPTER I. LIZZY
GASTON AND HER
CHAPTER II. HOW
DEATH OF MRS.
INTEREST OF A
CHAPTER V. SOME
OF THE TROUBLES
FRIEND IN NEED.
LEAVES HOME WITH
FINDS IN MRS.
GASTON AN OLD
CHAPTER X. LIZZY
PERKINS FINDS IN
LIZZY GLENN HIS
I'LL SEE ABOUT
THE SUM OF
TRIFLES: OR, "A
PENNY SAVED IS A
Till the brain begins to swim;
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!"
Hood's Song of the Shirt.
CHAPTER I. LIZZY GLENN—MRS. GASTON
AND HER SICK CHILD.
NEEDLE-WORK, at best, yields but a small return. Yet how many
thousands have no other resource in life, no other barrier thrown up
between them and starvation! The manly stay upon which a woman has
leaned suddenly fails, and she finds self-support an imperative
necessity; yet she has no skill, no strength, no developed resources.
In all probability she is a mother. In this case she must not only
stand alone, but sustain her helpless children. Since her earliest
recollection, others have ministered to her wants and pleasures. From
a father's hand, childhood and youth received their countless natural
blessings; and brother or husband, in later years, has stood between
her and the rough winds of a stormy world. All at once, like a bird
reared, from a fledgling, in its cage, and then turned (sic) lose in
dreary winter time, she finds herself in the world, unskilled in its
ways, yet required to earn her bread or perish.
What can she do? In what art or profession has she been educated?
The world demands service, and proffers its money for labor. But what
has she learned? What work can she perform? She can sew. And is that
all? Every woman we meet can ply the needle. Ah! as a seamstress, how
poor the promise for her future. The labor-market is crowded with
serving women; and, as a consequence, the price of needle-work—more
particularly that called plain needle-work—is depressed to mere
starvation rates. In the more skilled branches, better returns are
met; but even here few can endure prolonged application—few can bend
ten, twelve, or fifteen hours daily over their tasks, without fearful
inroads upon health.
In the present time, a strong interest has been awakened on this
subject. The cry of the poor seamstress has been heard; and the
questions "How shall we help her?" "How shall we widen the circle of
remunerative employments for women?" passes anxiously from lip to
lip. To answer this question is not our present purpose. Others are
earnestly seeking to work out the problem, and we must leave the
solution with them. What we now design is to quicken their generous
impulses. How more effectively can this be done than by a
life-picture of the poor needlewoman's trials and sufferings? And
this we shall now proceed to give.
It was a cold, dark, drizzly day in the fall of 18—, that a young
female entered a well-arranged clothing store in Boston, and passed
with hesitating steps up to where a man was standing behind one of
"Have you any work, sir?" she asked, in a low, timid voice.
The individual to whom this was addressed, a short, rough-looking
man, with a pair of large, black whiskers, eyed her for a moment with
a bold stare, and then indicated, by half turning his head and nodding
sideways toward the owner of the shop, who stood at a desk some
distance back, that her application was to be made there. Turning
quickly from the rude and too familiar gaze of the attendant, the
young woman went on to the desk and stood, half frightened and
trembling, beside the man from whom she had come to ask the privilege
of toiling for little more than a crust of bread and a cup of cold
"Have you any work, sir?" was repeated in a still lower and more
timid voice than that in which her request had at first been made.
"Yes, we have," was the gruff reply.
"Can I get some?"
"I don't know. I'm not sure that you'll ever bring it back again."
The applicant endeavored to make some reply to this, but the words
choked her; she could not utter them.
"I've been tricked in my time out of more than a little by
new-comers. But I don't know; you seem to have a simple, honest look.
Are you particularly in want of work?"
"Oh yes, sir!" replied the applicant, in an earnest, half-imploring
voice. "I desire work very much."
"What kind do you want?"
"Almost any thing you have to give out, sir?"
"Well, we have pants, coarse and fine roundabouts, shirts, drawers,
and almost any article of men's wear you can mention."
"What do you give for shirts, sir?"
"Various prices; from six cents up to twenty-five, according to the
quality of the article."
"Only twenty-five cents for fine shirts!" returned the young
woman, in a surprised, disappointed, desponding tone.
"Only twenty-five cents?
twenty-five cents! Pray how much did you expect to get, Miss?"
retorted the clothier, in a half-sneering, half-offended voice.
"I don't know. But twenty-five cents is very little for a hard
"Is it, indeed? I know enough who are thankful even for that.
Enough who are at it early and late, and do not even earn as much.
Your ideas will have to come down a little, Miss, if you expect to
work for this branch of business."
"What do you give for vests and pantaloons?" asked the young woman,
without seeming to notice the man's rudeness.
"For common trowsers with pockets, twelve cents; and for finer
ones, fifteen and twenty cents. Vests about the same rates."
"Have you any shirts ready?"
"Yes, a plenty. Will you have em coarse or fine?"
"Fine, if you please."
"How many will you take?"
"Let me have three to begin with."
"Here, Michael," cried the man to the attendant who had been first
addressed by the stranger, "give this girl three fine shirts to
make." Then turning to her, he said: "They are cotton shirts, with
linen collars, bosoms, and wristbands. There must be two rows of
stitches down the bosoms, and one row upon the wristband. Collars
plain. And remember, they must be made very nice."
"Yes, sir," was the reply, made in a sad voice, as the young
creature turned from her employer and went up to the shop-attendant
to receive the three shirts.
"You've never worked for the clothing stores, I should think?"
remarked this individual, looking her in the face with a steady gaze.
"Never," replied the applicant, in a low tone, half shrinking away,
with an instinctive aversion for the man.
"Well, it's pretty good when one can't do any better. An
industrious sewer can get along pretty well upon a pinch."
No reply was made to this. The shirts were now ready; but, before
they were handed to her, the man bent over the counter, and, putting
his face close to hers, said—
"What might your name be, Miss?"
A quick flush suffused the neck and face of the girl, as she
stepped back a pace or two, and answered—
"That is of no consequence, sir."
"Yes, Miss, but it is of consequence. We never give out work to
people who don't tell their names. We would be a set of
unconscionable fools to do that, I should think."
The young woman stood, thoughtful for a little while, and then
said, while her cheek still burned—
"Very well. And now, Miss Lizzy, be kind enough to inform me where
"That is altogether unnecessary. I will bring the work home as soon
as I have finished it."
"But suppose you should happen to forget our street and number?
"Oh no, I shall not do that. I know the place very well," was the
"No, but that won't do, Lizzy. We must have the name and place of
residence of every man, woman, and child who work for us. It is our
rule, and we never depart from it."
There was another brief period of irresolution, and then the place
of abode was given. This was first entered, with her name, in a book,
and then the three shirts were handed over. The seamstress turned away
on receiving them, and walked quickly from the shop.
The appearance of this young applicant for work would have appealed
instantly to the sympathies of any one but a regular slop-shop man,
who looked only to his own profits, and cared not a fig whose
heart-drops cemented the stones of his building. She was tall and
slender, with light brown hair, clear soft complexion, and eyes of a
mild hazel. But her cheeks were sunken, though slightly flushed, and
her eyes lay far back in their sockets. Her forehead was high and
very white. The tones of her voice, which was low, were soft and
musical, and her words were spoken, few though they were, with a
taste and appropriateness that showed her to be one who had moved in
a circle of refinement and intelligence. As to her garments, they
were old, and far too thin for the season. A light, faded shawl, of
costly material, was drawn closely around her shoulders, but had not
the power to keep from her attenuated frame the chill air, or to turn
off the fine penetrating rain that came with the wind, searchingly
from-the bleak north-east. Her dress, of summer calico, much worn,
clung closely to her body. Above all was a close bonnet, and a thick
vail, which she drew around her face as she stepped into the street
and glided hurriedly away.
"She's a touch above the vulgar, Michael," broke in Berlaps, the
owner of the shop, coming forward as he spoke.
"Yes, indeed! That craft has been taut rigged in her time."
"Who can she be, Michael? None of your common ones, of course?"
"Oh no, of course not; she's 'seen better days,' as the slang
"No doubt of that. What name did she give."
"Lizzy Glenn. But that may or may not be correct. People likely her
are sometimes apt to forget even their own names."
"Where does she live?"
"In the lower part of the town somewhere. I have it in the book
"You think she'll bring them shirts back?"
"Oh, yes. Folks that have come down in the world as she has, rarely
play grab-game after that fashion."
"She seemed all struck aback at the price."
"I suppose so. Ha! ha!"
"But she's the right kind," resumed Berlaps. "I only wish we had a
dozen like her."
"I wish we had. Her work will never rip."
Further conversation was prevented by the entrance of a customer.
Before he had been fully served, a middle-aged woman came in with a
large bundle, and went back to Berlaps's desk, where he stood engaged
over his account-books.
"Good-day, Mrs. Gaston," said he, looking up, while not a feature
relaxed on his cold, rigid countenance.
"I've brought you in six pairs of pants," said the woman, untying
the bundle she had laid upon the counter.
"You had seven pair, ma'am."
"I know that, Mr. Berlaps. But only six are finished; and, as I
want some money, I have brought them in."
"It is more than a week since we gave them out. You ought to have
had the whole seven pair done. We want them all now. They should have
been in day before yesterday."
"They would have been finished, Mr. Berlaps," said the woman, in a
deprecating tone; "but one of my children has been sick; and I have
had to be up with her so often every night, and have had to attend to
her so much through the day, that I have not been able to do more than
"Confound the children!" muttered the tailor to himself, as he
began inspecting the woman's work. "They're always getting sick, or
After carefully examining three or four pairs of the coarse
trowsers which had been brought in, he pushed the whole from him with
a quick impatient gesture and an angry scowl, saying, as he did so—
"Botched to death! I can't give you work unless it's done better,
Mrs. Gaston. You grow worse and worse!"
"I know, sir," replied the woman, in a troubled voice, "that they
are not made quite so well as they might be. But consider how much I
have had against me. A sick child—and worn out by attendance on her
night and day."
"It's always a sick child, or some other excuse, with the whole of
you. But that don't answer me. I want my work done well, and mean to
have it so. If you don't choose to turn out good work, I can find a
plenty who will."
"You sha'n't complain of me hereafter, Mr. Berlaps," replied the
"So you have said before; but we shall see."
Berlaps then turned moodily to his desk, and resumed the employment
he had broken off when the seamstress came in, whilst she stood with
her hands folded across each other, awaiting his pleasure in regard
to the payment of the meagre sum she had earned by a full week of
hard labor, prolonged often to a late hour in the night. She had
stood thus, meekly, for nearly five minutes, when Berlaps raised his
head, and looking at her sternly over the top of his desk, said—
"What are you waiting for, Mrs. Gaston?"
"I should like to have the money for the pants I have brought in. I
am out of every"—
"I never pay until the whole job is done. Bring in the other pair,
and you can have your money."
"Yes; but Mr. Berlaps"—
"You needn't talk any thing about it, madam. "You have my say," was
the tailor's angry response.
Slowly turning away, the woman moved, with hesitating steps, to the
door, paused there a moment, and then went out. She lingered along,
evidently undecided how to act, for several minutes, and then moved
on at a quicker pace, as if doubt and uncertainty had given way to
some encouraging thought. Threading her way along the narrow winding
streets in the lower part of the city, she soon emerged into the open
space used as a hay market, and, crossing over this, took her way in
the direction of one of the bridges. Before reaching this, she turned
down toward the right, and entered a small grocery. A woman was the
only attendant upon this.
"Won't you trust me for a little more, Mrs. Grubb?" she asked, in a
supplicating voice, while she looked anxiously into her face.
"No, ma'am! not one cent till that dollar's paid up!" was the sharp
retort. "And, to tell you the truth, I think you've got a heap of
impudence to come in here, bold-faced, and ask for more trust, after
having promised me over and over again for a month to pay that
dollar. No! pay the dollar first!"
"I did intend to pay you a part of it this very day," replied Mrs.
"Oh yes. It's 'but' this, and 'but' that. But 'buts' ain't my
dollar. I'm an honest woman, and want to make an honest living; and
must have my money."
"But I only want a little, Mrs. Grubb. A few potatoes and, some
salt fish; and just a gill of milk and a cup of flour. The children
have had nothing to eat since yesterday. I took home six pairs of
trowsers to-day, which came to ninety cents, at fifteen cents a pair.
But I had seven pairs, and Mr. Berlaps wont pay me until I bring the
whole number. It will take me till twelve o'clock to-night to finish
them, and so I can't get any money before to-morrow. Just let me have
two pounds of salt fish, which will be only seven cents, and, three
cents' worth of potatoes; and a little milk and flour to make
something for Ella. It won't be much, Mrs. Grubb, and it will keep the
little ones from being hungry all day and till late to-morrow."
Her voice failed her as she uttered the last sentence. But she
restrained herself after the first sob that heaved her overladen
bosom, and stood calmly awaiting the answer to her urgent petition.
Mrs. Grubb was a woman, and a mother into the bargain. She had,
too, the remains of a woman's heart, where lingered a few maternal
sympathies. These were quick to prompt her to duty. Turning away
without a reply, she weighed out two pounds of fish, measured a peck
of potatoes, poured out some milk in a cup, and filled a small paper
with flour. These she handed to Mrs. Gaston without uttering a word.
"To-morrow you shall be paid for these, and something on the old
account," said the recipient, as she took them and hurried from the
"Why not give up at once, instead of trying to keep soul and body
together by working for the slop-shops?" muttered Mrs. Grubb, as her
customer withdrew. "She'd a great sight better go with her children
to the poor-house than keep them half-starving under people's noses
at this rate, and compelling us who have a little feeling left, to
keep them from dying outright with hunger. It's too bad! There's that
Berlaps, who grinds the poor seamstresses who work for him to death
and makes them one-half of their time beggars at our stores for
something for their children to eat. He is building two houses in
Roxbury at this very moment: and out of what? Out of the money of
which he has robbed these poor women. Fifteen cents for a pair of
trowsers with pockets in them! Ten cents for shirts and drawers! and
every thing at that rate. Is it any wonder that they are starving,
and he growing rich? Curse him, and all like him! I could see them
And the woman set her teeth, and clenched her hand, in momentary
but impotent rage.
In the meantime, Mrs. Gaston hurried home with the food she had
obtained. She occupied the upper room of a narrow frame house near
the river, for which she paid a rent of three dollars a month. It was
small and comfortless, but the best her slender means could provide.
Two children were playing on the floor when she entered: the one about
four, and the other a boy who looked as if he might be nearly ten
years of age. On the bed lay Ella, the sick child to whom the mother
had alluded, both to the tailor and the shopkeeper. She turned
wishfully upon her mother her young bright eyes as she entered, but
did not move or utter a word. The children, who had been amusing
themselves upon the floor, sprang to their feet, and, catching hold of
the basket she had brought in with her, ascertained in a moment its
"Fish and taters! Fish and taters!" cried the youngest, a little
girl, clapping her hands, and dancing about the floor.
"Won't we have some dinner now?" said Henry, the oldest boy,
looking up into his mother's face with eager delight, as he laid his
hands upon her arm.
"Yes, my children, you shall have a good dinner, and that right
quickly," returned the mother in a voice half choked with emotion, as
she threw off her bonnet, and proceeded to cook the coarse provisions
she had obtained at the sacrifice of so much feeling. It did not take
long to boil the fish and potatoes, which were eaten with a keen
relish by two of the children, Emma and Harry. The gruel prepared for
Ella, from the flour obtained at Mrs. Grubb's, did not much tempt the
sickly appetite of the child. She sipped a few spoonfuls, and then
turned from the bowl which her mother held for her at the bedside.
"Eat more of it, dear," said Mrs. Gaston. "It will make you feel
"I'm not very hungry now, mother," answered Ella.
"Don't it taste good to you?"
"Not very good."
The child sighed as she turned her wan face toward the wall, and
the unhappy mother sighed responsive.
"I wish you would try to take a little more. It's so long since you
have eaten any thing; and you'll grow worse if you don't take
nourishment. Just two or three spoonfuls. Come, dear."
Ella, thus urged, raised herself in bed, and made an effort to eat
more of the gruel. At the third spoonful, her stomach heaved as the
tasteless fluid touched her lips.
"Indeed, mother, I can't swallow another mouthful," she said, again
sinking back on her pillow.
Slowly did Mrs. Gaston turn from the bed. She had not yet eaten of
the food, which her two well children were devouring with the
eagerness of hungry animals. Only a small portion did she now take
for herself, and that was eaten hurriedly, as if the time occupied in
attending to her own wants were so much wasted.
The meal over, Mrs. Gaston took the unfinished pair of trowsers,
and, though feeling weary and disheartened, bent earnestly to the
task before her. At this she toiled, unremittingly, until the falling
twilight admonished her to stop. The children's supper was then
prepared. She would have applied to Mrs. Grubb for a loaf of bread,
but was so certain of meeting a refusal, that she refrained from doing
so. For supper, therefore, they had only the salt fish and potatoes.
It was one o'clock that night before exhausted nature refused
another draft upon its energies. The garment was not quite finished.
But the nerveless hand and the weary head of the poor seamstress
obeyed the requirements of her will no longer. The needle had to be
laid aside, for the finger had no more strength to grasp, nor skill
to direct its motions.
CHAPTER II. HOW A NEEDLEWOMAN LIVES.
IT was about ten o'clock on the next morning, when Mrs. Gaston
appeared at the shop of Berlaps, the tailor.
"Here is the other pair," she said, as she came up to the counter,
behind which stood Michael, the salesman.
That person took the pair of trowsers, glanced at them a moment,
and then, tossing them aside, asked Mrs. Gaston if she could make some
"At what price?" was inquired.
"The usual price—thirty cents."
"Thirty cents for cloth jackets! Indeed, Michael, that is too
little. You used to give thirty-seven and a half."
"Can't afford to do it now, then. Thirty cents is enough. There are
plenty of women glad to get them even at that price."
"But it will take me a full day and a half to make a cloth jacket,
"You work slow, that's the reason; a good sewer can easily make one
in a day; and that's doing pretty well these times."
"I don't know what you mean by pretty well, Michael," answered the
seamstress. "How do you think you could manage to support yourself
and three children on less than thirty cents a day?"
"Haven't you put that oldest boy of yours out yet?" asked Michael,
instead of replying to the question of Mrs. Gaston.
"No, I have not."
"Well, you do very wrong, let me tell you, to slave yourself and
pinch your other children for him, when he might be earning his
living just as well as not. He's plenty old enough to be put out."
"You may think so, but I don't. He is still but a child."
"A pretty big child, I should say. But, if you would like to get
him a good master, I know a man over in Cambridge who would take him
off of your hands."
"Who is he?"
"He keeps a store, and wants just such a boy to do odd trifles
about, and run of errands. It would be the very dandy for your little
follow. He'll be in here to-day; and if you say so, I will speak to
him about your son."
"I would rather try and keep him with me this winter. He is too
young to go so far away. I could not know whether he were well or ill
"Oh, as to that, ma'am, the man I spoke of is a particular friend
of mine, and I know him to be as kind-hearted as a woman. His wife's
amiability and good temper are proverbial. Do let me speak a good
word for your son; I'm sure you will never repent it."
"I'll think about it, Michael; but don't believe I shall feel
satisfied to let Henry go anywhere out of Boston, even if I should be
forced to get him a place away from home this winter."
"Well, you can do as you please, Mrs. Gaston," said Michael in a
half offended tone. "I shall not charge any thing for my advice; But
say! do you intend trying some of these jackets?"
"Can't you give me some more pantaloons? I can do better on them, I
"We sha'n't have any more coarse trowsers ready for two or three
days. The jackets are your only chance."
"If I must, suppose I must, then," replied Mrs. Gaston to this, in
a desponding tone. "So let me have a couple of them."
The salesman took from a shelf two dark, heavy cloth jackets, cut
out, and tied up in separate bundles with a strip of the fabric from
which they had been taken. As he handed them, to the woman he said—
"Remember, now, these are to be made extra nice."
"You shall have no cause of complaint—depend upon that, Michael.
But isn't Mr. Berlaps in this morning?"
"No. He's gone out to Roxbury to see about some houses he is
putting up there."
"You can pay me for them pantys, I suppose?"
"No. I never settle any bills in his absence."
"But it's a very small matter, Michael. Only a dollar and five
cents," said Mrs. Gaston, earnestly, her heart sinking in her bosom.
"Can't help it. It's just as I tell you."
"When will Mr. Berlaps be home?"
"Some time this afternoon, I suppose."
"Not till this afternoon," murmured the mother, sadly, as she
thought of her children, and how meagerly she had been able to
provide for them during the past few days. Turning away from the
counter, she left the store and hurried homeward. Henry met her at
the door as she entered, and, seeing that she brought nothing with
her but the small bundles of work, looked disappointed. This touched
her feeling a good deal. But she felt much worse when Ella, the sick
one, half raised herself from her pillow a said—
"Did you get me that orange, as you promised, mother?"
"No, dear; I couldn't get any money this morning," the mother
replied, bending over her sick child and kissing her cheek, that was
flushed and hot with fever. "But as soon as Mr. Berlaps pays me, you
shall have an orange."
"I wish he would pay you soon then, mother; for I want one so bad.
I dreamed last night that I had one, and just as I was going to eat
it, I waked up. And, since you have been gone, I've been asleep, and
dreamed again that I had a large juicy orange. But don't cry mother.
I know you couldn't get it for me. I'll be very patient."
"I know you will, my dear child," said the mother, putting an arm
about the little sufferer, and drawing her to her bosom; "you have
been good and patient, and mother is only sorry that she has not been
able to get you the orange you want so badly."
"But I don't believe I want it so very, very bad, mother, as I seem
to. I think about it so much—that's the reason I want it, I'm sure.
I'll try and not think about it any more."
"Try, that's a dear, good girl," murmured Mrs. Gaston, as she
kissed her child again, and then turned away to resume once more her
wearying task. Unrolling one of the coarse jackets she had brought
home, she found that it was of heavy beaver cloth, and had to be
sewed with strong thread. For a moment or two, after she spread it
out upon the table, she looked at the many pieces to be wrought up
into a well-finished whole, and thought of the hours of hard labor it
would require to accomplish the task. A feeling of discouragement
stole into her heart, and she leaned her head listlessly upon the
table. But only a moment or two elapsed before a thought of her
children aroused her flagging energies.
It was after eleven o'clock before she was fairly at work. The
first thing to be done, after laying aside the different portions of
the garment in order, was to put in the pockets. This was not
accomplished before one o'clock, when she had to leave her work to
prepare a meal for herself and little ones. There remained from their
supper and breakfast, a small portion of the fish and potatoes. Both
of these had been boiled, and hashed up together, and, of what
remained, all that was required was to make it into balls and fry it.
This was not a matter to occasion much delay. In fifteen minutes from
the time she laid aside her needle and thimble, the table had been
set, with its one dish upon it, and Harry and little Emma were eating
with keen appetites their simple meal. But, to Mrs. Gaston, the food
was unpalatable; and Ella turned from it with loathing. There was,
however, nothing more, in the house; and both Ella and her mother had
to practice self-denial and patience.
After the table was cleared away, Mrs. Gaston again resumed her
labor; but Emma was unusually fretful, and hung about her mother
nearly the whole afternoon, worrying her mind, and keeping her back a
good deal, so that, when the brief afternoon had worn away, and the
deepening twilight compelled her to suspend her labors, she had made
but little perceptible progress in her work.
"Be good children now until I come back," she said, as she rose
from her chair, put on her, bonnet, and drew an old Rob Roy shawl
around her shoulders. Descending then into the street, she took her
way with a quick step toward that part of the city in which her
employer kept his store. Her heart beat anxiously as she drew near,
and trembled lest she should not find him in. If not?—but the fear
made her feel sick. She had no food in the house, no friends to whom
she could apply, and there was no one of whom she could venture to ask
to be trusted for even a single loaf of bread. At length she reached
the well-lighted store, in which were several customers, upon whom
both Berlaps and bis clerk were attending with business assiduity.
The sight of the tailor relieved the feelings of poor Mrs. Gaston
very much. Passing on to the back part of the store, she stood
patiently awaiting his leisure. But his customers were hard to
please. And, moreover, one was scarcely suited. before another came
in. Thus it continued for nearly half an hour, when, the poor woman
became so anxious about the little ones she had left at home, and
especially about Ella, who had appeared to have a good deal of fever
when she came away, that she walked slowly down the store, and paused
opposite to where Berlaps stood waiting upon a customer, in order to
attract his attention. But he took not the slightest notice of her.
She remained thus for nearly ten minutes longer. Then she came up to
the side of the counter, and, leaning over toward him, said, in a half
"Can I speak a word with you, Mr. Berlaps?"
"I've no time to attend to you now, woman," he answered, gruffly,
and the half-frightened creature shrunk away quickly, and again stood
far back in the store.
It was full half an hour after this before the shop was cleared,
and then the tailor, instead of coming back to where Mrs. Gaston
stood, commenced folding up and replacing his goods upon the shelves.
Fearful lest other customers would enter, the seamstress came slowly
forward, and again stood near Berlaps.
"What do you want here to-night, woman?" asked the tailor, without
lifting his eyes from the employment in which he was engaged.
"I brought home the other pair of trowsers this morning, but you
were not in," Mrs. Gaston replied.
"Michael couldn't pay me, and so I've run up this evening."
"You're a very troublesome kind of a person," said Berlaps, looking
her rebukingly in the face. Then taking a dollar and five cents from
the drawer, he pushed them toward her on the counter, adding, as he
did so, "There, take your money. One would think you were actually
Mrs. Gaston picked up the coin eagerly, and hurried away. It was
more than an hour since she had left home. Her children were alone,
and the night had closed in some time before. The thought of this
made her quicken her pace to a run. As she passed on, the sight of an
orange in a window reminded her of her promise to Ella. She stopped
and bought a small one, and then hurried again on her way.
"Here's half a dollar of what I owe you, Mrs. Grubb," said she, as
she stepped into the shop of that personage, and threw the coin she
named upon the counter. "And now give me a loaf of bread, quickly;
some molasses in this cup, and a pint of milk in this," drawing two
little mugs from under her shawl as she spoke.
The articles she mentioned were soon ready for her. She had paid
for them, and was about stepping from the door, when she paused, and,
turning about, said:
"Oh, I had like to have forgotten! I want two cent candles. I shall
have to work late to-night."
The candles were cut from a large bunch hanging above the narrow
counter, wrapped in a very small bit of paper, and given to Mrs.
Gaston, who took them and went quickly away.
All was dark and still in the room that contained her children, as
she gained the house that sheltered them. She lit one of her candles
below, and went up-stairs. As she entered, Ella's bright eyes
glistened upon her from the bed; but little Emma had fallen asleep
with her head in the lap of Henry, who was seated upon the floor with
his back against the wall, himself likewise locked in the arms of
forgetfulness. The fire had nearly gone out, and the room was quite
"Oh, mother, why did yon stay so long?" Ella asked, looking her
earnestly in the face.
"I couldn't get back any sooner, my dear. But see! I've brought the
orange you have wished for so long. You can eat it all by yourself,
for Emma is fast asleep on the floor, and can't cry for it."
But Emma roused up, at the moment, and began to fret and cry for
something to eat.
"Don't cry, dear. You shall have your supper in a little while. I
have brought you home some nice bread and molasses," said the mother,
in tones meant to soothe and quiet her hungry and impatient little
one. But Emma continued to fret and cry on.
"It's so cold, mamma!" she said. "It's so cold, and I'm hungry!"
"Don't cry, dear," again urged the mother. "I'll make the fire up
nice and warm in a little while, and then you shall have something
good to eat."
But—"It's so cold, mamma! it's so cold, and I'm hungry!" was the
continued and incessant complaint of the poor child.
All this time, Ella had been busily engaged in peeling her orange,
and dividing it into four quarters.
"See here, Emma! Look what I've got!" she said, in a lively,
cheerful tone, as soon as her orange had been properly divided.
"Come, cover up in bed here with me, until the fire's made, and you
shall have this nice bit of orange."
Emma's complaints ceased in a moment, and she turned toward her
sister, and clambered upon the bed.
"And here's a piece for you, Henry, and a piece for mother, too,"
continued Ella, reaching out two other portions.
"No, dear, keep it for yourself. I don't want it," said the mother.
"And Emma shall have my piece," responded Henry; "she wants it
worse than I do."
"That is right. Be good children, and, love one another," said Mrs.
Gaston, encouragingly. "But Emma don't want brother Henry's piece,
"No, Emma don't want brother Henry's piece," repeated the child;
and she took up a portion of the orange as she spoke, and handed it to
Henry received it; and, getting upon the bed with his sisters,
shared with them not only the orange, but kind fraternal feelings.
The taste of the fruit revived Ella a good deal and she, with the
assistance of Henry, succeeded in amusing Emma until their mother had
made the fire, and boiled some water. Into a portion of the water she
poured about half of the milk she had brought home, and, filling a
couple of tin cups with this, set it with bread and molasses upon a
little table, and called Henry and Emma to supper. The children, at
this announcement, scrambled from the bed, and, pushing chairs up to
the table, commenced eating the supper provided for them with keen
appetites. Into what remained of the pint of milk, Mrs. Gaston poured
a small portion of hot water, and then crumbled some bread, and put a
few grains of salt into it, and took this to the bed for Ella. The
child ate two or three spoonsful; but her stomach soon turned against
"I don't feel hungry, mother," said she, as she laid herself back
upon the pillow.
"But you've eaten scarcely any thing to-day: Try and take a little
more, dear. It will do you good."
"I can't, indeed, mother." And a slight expression of loathing
passed over the child's face.
"Can't you think of something you could eat?" urged the mother.
"I don't want any thing. The orange tasted good, and that is enough
for to-night," Ella replied, in a cheerful voice.
Mrs. Gaston then sat down by the table with Henry and Emma, and ate
a small portion of bread and molasses. But this food touched not her
palate with any pleasurable sensation. She ate, only because she knew
that, unless, she took food, she would not have strength to perform
her duties to her children. For a long series of years, her system had
been accustomed to the generous excitement of tea at the evening meal.
A cup of good tea had become almost indispensable to her. It braced
her system, cleared her head, and refreshed her after the unremitting
toils of the day. But, for some time past, she had felt called upon,
for the sake of her children, to deny herself this luxury—no,
comfort—no, this, to her, one of the necessaries of life. The
consequence was that her appetite lost its tone. No food tasted
pleasantly to her; and the labors of the evening were performed under
depression of spirits and nervous relaxation of body.
This evening she ate, compulsorily, as usual, a small portion of
dry bread, and drank a few mouthfuls of warm water, in which a little
milk had been poured. As she did so, her eyes turned frequently upon
the face of Henry, a fair-haired, sweet-faced, delicate boy, her
eldest born—the first pledge of pure affection, and the promise of a
happy wedded life. Sadly, indeed, had time changed since then. A young
mother, smiling over her first born—how full of joy was the sunlight
of each succeeding day! Now, widowed and alone, struggling with
failing and unequal strength against the tide that was slowly bearing
her down the stream, each morning broke to her more and, more
drearily, and each evening, as it closed darkly in, brought another
shadow to rest in despondency upon her spirit.
Faithfully had she struggled on, hoping still to be able to keep
her little ones around her. The proposition of Michael to put out
Henry startled into activity the conscious fear that had for some
months been stifled in her bosom; and now she had to look the matter
full in the face, and, in spite of all her feelings of reluctance,
confess to herself that the effort to keep her children around her
must prove unavailing. But how could she part with her boy? How could
she see him put out among strangers? How could she bear to let him go
away from her side, and be henceforth treated as a servant, and be
compelled to perform labor above his years? The very thought made her
Her frugal meal was soon finished, and then the children were put
to bed. After laying away their clothes, and setting back the table
from which their supper had been eaten, Mrs. Gaston seated herself by
the already (sic) nearly nearly half burned penny candle, whose dim
light scarcely enabled her failing eyesight to discern the edges of
the dark cloth upon which she was working, and composed herself to her
task. Hour after hour she toiled on, weary and aching in every limb.
But she remitted not her labors until long after midnight, and then
not until her last candle had burned away to the socket in which it
rested. Then she put aside her work with a sigh, as she reflected upon
the slow progress she had made, and, disrobing herself, laid her
over-wearied body beside that of her sick child. Ella was asleep; but
her breathing was hard, and her mother perceived, upon laying her hand
upon her face, that her fever had greatly increased. But she knew no
means of alleviation, and therefore did not attempt any. In a little
while, nature claimed for her a respite. Sleep locked her senses in
CHAPTER III. DEATH OF MRS. GASTON'S
CHILD.—A MOTHER'S ANGUISH.
ON the next morning, at the earliest dawn, Mrs. Gaston arose. She
found Ella's fever still very high. The child was restless, and
moaned a good deal in her sleep.
"Poor little thing!" murmured the mother, as she bent over her for
a moment, and then turned away, and commenced kindling a fire upon the
hearth. Fortunately, for her, she had saved enough from her earnings
during the summer to buy half a cord of wood; but this was gradually
melting away, and she was painfully conscious that, by the time the
long and severe winter had fairly set in, her stock of fuel would be
exhausted; and at the prices which she was receiving for her work,
she felt that it would be impossible to buy more. After making the
fire, she took her work, and drew near the window, through which the
cold faint rays of the morning were stealing. By holding the work
close to the light, she could see to set her needle, and in this way
she commenced her daily toil. An hour was spent in sewing, when Emma
aroused up, and she had to lay by her work to attend to her child.
Ella, too, had awakened, and complained that her head ached badly,
and that her throat was very sore. Half an hour was spent in
dressing, washing, and otherwise attending to her children, and then
Mrs. Gaston went out to get something for breakfast. On entering the
shop of Mrs. Grubb, she met with rather a more courteous reception
than had been given her on the morning previous.
"Ah! good-morning, Mrs. Gaston! Good-morning!" said that personage,
with a broad, good-natured smile. "How is Ella?"
"She seems very poorly, Mrs. Grubb. I begin to feel troubled about
her. She complains of a sore throat this morning, and you know the
scarlet fever is all about now."
"Oh, no! never fear that, Mrs. Gaston. Ella's not down with the
scarlet fever, I know."
"I trust not. But I have my fears."
"Never take trouble on interest, Mrs. Gaston. It is bad enough when
it comes in the natural way. But what can I do for you?"
"I think I must have a cent's worth of coffee this morning. My head
aches so that I am almost blind. A strong cup of coffee I am sure
will do me good. And as I have a hard day's work before me, I must
prepare for it. And then I must have a pint of milk and a three-cent
loaf of bread for the children. That must do me for the present. We
have some molasses left."
"You'll want a little dried meat, or a herring, or something to
give you a relish, Mrs. Gaston. Dry bread is poor eating. And you know
you can't touch molasses." Half in sympathy did Mrs. Grubb utter
this, and half as a dealer, desirous of selling her goods.
"Nothing more just now, I believe," the poor woman replied. "I must
be prudent, you know, and count over every cent."
"But you'll make yourself sick, if you don't eat something more
than you do. So come now; treat yourself to a herring, or to a penny's
worth of this sweet butter. You'll feel all the better for it, and do
more than enough work to pay the cost twice over."
Mrs. Gaston's appetite was tempted. The hard fresh butter looked
inviting to her eyes, and she stooped over and smelled it half
"I believe you are right, Mrs. Grubb," she said. "You may give me a
couple of cents' worth of this nice butter."
An ounce of butter was carefully weighed out, and given to the
"Isn't there something else, now, that you want?" said the smiling
shopkeeper, leaning her elbows upon the counter, and looking
encouragingly into the face of Mrs. Gaston.
"I've indulged myself, and I shall not feel right, unless I indulge
the children a little also," was the reply; "so weigh me two cents'
worth of your smoked beef. They all like it very much."
The smoked beef was soon ready, and then the mother hurried home to
After the morning meal tad been prepared, Mrs. Gaston sat down and
ate her bread and butter, tasting a little of the children's meat,
and drinking her coffee with a keen relish. She felt braced up on
rising from the table, and, but for the illness of Ella, would have
felt an unusual degree of cheerfulness.
Henry attended the common school of the district, and, soon after
breakfast, prepared himself to go. As he was leaving, his mother told
him to call at Doctor R—'s, and ask him if he would be kind enough to
stop and see Ella. She then seated herself once more beside her little
work-table. The two foreparts of the jacket had been finished, except
the button-holes; and the sleeves were ready to put in as soon as the
body of the garment was ready for them. As the button-holes tried the
sight of Mrs. Gaston severely, she chose that part of the day, when
her eyes were fresh, to work them. The jacket was double-breasted, and
there were five holes to be worked on each side. She had nearly
completed one-half of them, when Doctor R—came in. He looked serious
upon examining his patient. Said she was very ill, and required
"But you don't think it the scarlet fever, doctor?" the mother
said, in a low, alarmed voice.
"Your child is very sick, madam; and, to tell you the truth, her
symptoms resemble too closely those of the fever you have named," was
the undisguised reply.
"Surely, my cup is full and running over!" sobbed Mrs. Gaston,
clasping her hands together as this sudden announcement broke down,
for a moment, her self-control, while the tears gushed from her eyes.
Doctor R—was a man of true feeling. He had attended, in two or
three cases of illness, the children of Mrs. Gaston, and had observed
that she was a woman who had become, from some cause, greatly reduced
in circumstances. His sympathies were strongly awakened at seeing her
emotion, and he said, in a kind but firm voice:
"A mother, the safety of whose child depends upon her calm and
intelligent performance of duty, should never lose her self-control."
"I know that, doctor," the mother answered, rallying herself with a
strong effort. "But I was over-tried already, and your sudden
confirmation of my worst fears completely broke me down."
"In any event, however," the doctor replied, "you must not permit
yourself to forget that your child is in the hands of Him who regards
its good in a far higher sense than you can possibly. He never permits
sickness of any kind without a good end."
"I know that, doctor, but I have a mother's heart. I love my
children, and the thought of losing them touches me to the quick."
"And yet you know that, in passing from this to another state of
existence, their condition must be bettered beyond comparison."
"Oh, yes. Beyond comparison!" replied the mother, half
abstractedly, but with touching pathos. "And yet, doctor, I cannot
spare them. They are every thing to me."
"Do not suffer yourself to indulge needless alarm. I will leave you
medicine now, and call again to-morrow. If she should be decidedly
worse, send for me toward evening."
After the doctor went away, Mrs. Gaston gave the medicine he had
left, as directed, and then forced herself from the bedside, and
resumed her work. By the time the button-holes of the garment she was
engaged upon were all completed, and the back and shoulder seams sewed
up, it was time to see about something for dinner. She put aside the
jacket, and went to the bed. Ella lay as if asleep. Her face was
flushed, and her skin dry and hot. The mother looked upon her for a
few moments with a yearning heart; then, turning away, she took from a
closet her bonnet and shawl, and a little basket. Passing quickly
down-stairs, after telling Emma to keep very still and be a good girl
until she came back, she took her way toward the market-house. At a
butcher's she obtained, for three cents, some bones, and then at one
of the stalls bought a few herbs, a head of cabbage, and three
turnips; the whole at a cost of sixpence.
With these she returned home, renewed her fire, and, after
preparing the bones and vegetables she had procured, put them into an
iron pot with some water, and hung this upon the crane. She then sat
down again to her work.
At twelve o'clock Henry came in from school, and brought up an
armful of wood, and some water, and then, by direction of his mother,
saw that the fire was kept burning briskly. At one, Mrs. Gaston laid
by her work again, and set the table for dinner. Henry went for a loaf
of bread while she was doing this, and upon his return found all
ready. The meal, palatable to all, was a well-made soup; the mother
and her two children ate of it with keen appetites. When it was over,
Henry went away again to school and Mrs. Gaston, after administering
to Ella another dose of medicine, sat down once more to her work. One
sleeve remained to be sewed in, when the garment would only require to
have the collar put on, and be pressed off. This occupied her until
late in the afternoon.
"Thirty cents for all that!" she sighed to herself, as she laid the
finished garment upon the bed. "Too bad! Too bad! How can a widow and
three children subsist on twenty cents a day?"
A deep moan from Ella caused her to look at her child more intently
than she had done for half an hour. She was alarmed to find that her
face had become like scarlet, and was considerably swollen. On
speaking to her, she seemed quite stupid, and answered incoherently,
frequently putting her hand to her throat, as if in pain there. This
confirmed the mother's worst fears for her child, especially as she
was in a raging fever. Soon after, Henry came in from school, and she
dispatched him for Doctor R—, who returned with the boy. He seemed
uneasy at the manner in which the symptoms were developing themselves.
A long and silent examination ended in his asking for a basin. He bled
her freely, as there appeared to be much visceral congestion, and an
active inflammation of the tonsils, larynx, and air passages, with a
most violent fever. After this she lay very still, and seemed much
relieved. But, half an hour after the doctor had left, the fever
rallied again, with burning intensity. Her face swelled rapidly, and
the soreness of her throat increased. About nine o'clock the doctor
came in again, and upon examining the child's throat, found it black
and deeply ulcerated.
"What do you think of her, doctor?" asked the poor mother, eagerly.
"I think her very ill, madam—and, I regret to say, dangerously
"Is it scarlet fever, doctor?"
"It is, madam. A very bad case of it. But do not give way to
feelings of despondency. I have seen worse cases recover."
More active medicines than any that had yet been administered were
given by the doctor, who again retired, with but little hope of
seeing his patient alive in the morning.
From the time Mrs. Gaston finished the garment upon which she had
been working, she had not even unrolled the other roundabout, and it
was now nine o'clock at night. A sense of her destitute condition,
and of the pressing necessity there was for her to let every minute
leave behind some visible impression, made her, after Henry and Emma
were in bed, leave the side of her sick child, though with painful
reluctance, and resume her toil. But, ever and anon, as Ella moaned,
or tossed restlessly upon her pillow, would the mother lay by her
work, and go and stand beside her in silent anguish of spirit, or
inquire where she suffered pain, or what she could do to relieve her.
Thus passed the hours until twelve, one, and two o'clock, the
mother feeling that her child was too sick for her to seek repose, and
yet, as she could do nothing to relieve her sufferings, she could not
sit idly by and look upon her. For fifteen or twenty minutes at a time
she would ply her needle, and then get up and bend over the bed for a
minute or two. A thought of duty would again call her back to her
position by the work-table, where she would again devote herself to
her task, in spite of an aching head, and a reluctant, over-wearied
body. Thus she continued until near daylight, when there was an
apparent subsidence of Ella's most painful symptoms. The child ceased
to moan and throw herself about, and finally sunk into slumber. In
some relief of mind, Mrs. Gaston laid down beside her upon the bed,
and, in a little while was fast asleep. When she awoke, the sun had
been up some time, and was shining brightly into the room. Quickly
rising, her first glance was toward her sick child. She could scarcely
suppress a cry of agony, as she perceived that her face and neck had
swollen so as to appear puffed up, while her skin was covered with
livid spots. An examination of the chest and stomach showed that these
spots were extending themselves over her whole body. Besides these
signs of danger, the breathing of the child was more like gasping, as
she lay with her mouth half opened.
The mother laid her hand upon her arm, and spoke to her. But she
did not seem to hear the voice.
"Ella, dear! how do you feel this morning?" repeated Mrs. Gaston in
louder and more earnest tones.
But the child heeded her not. She was already past consciousness!
At an early hour Doctor R—came in. The moment he looked at his
patient his countenance fell. Still, he proceeded to examine her
carefully. But every symptom was alarming, and indicated a speedy
fatal termination, this was especially the case with the upper part of
the throat, which was black. Nothing deeper could be seen, as the
tonsils were so swollen as to threaten suffocation.
"Is there any hope, doctor?" asked Mrs. Gaston, eagerly, laying her
hand upon his arm as he turned from the bed.
"There is always hope where there is life, madam," he replied,
abstractedly; and then in a thoughtful mood took two or three turns
across the narrow apartment.
"I will come again in an hour," he at length said, "and see if
there is any change. I would rather not give her any more medicine for
the present. Let her remain perfectly quiet."
True to his promise, Doctor R—entered the room just an hour from
the time he left it. The scene that met his eye moved his heart
deeply, all used as he was to the daily exhibition of misery in its
many distressing forms. The child was dead! He was prepared for
that—but not for the abandoned grief to which the mother gave way.
The chords of feeling had been drawn in her heart too tightly. Mind
and body were both out of tune, and discordant. In suffering, in
abject want and destitution, her heart still clung to her children,
and threw around them a sphere of intenser affection, as all that was
external grew darker, colder, and more dreary. They were her jewels,
and she could not part with them. They were hidden away in her heart
of hearts so deeply, that not a single one of them could be taken
without leaving it lacerated and bleeding.
When the doctor entered, he found her lying upon the bed, with the
body of her child hugged tightly to her bosom. Little Emma had crept
away into a corner of the room, and looked frightened. Henry was
crouching in a chair, with the tears running down his cheeks in
"You are too late, doctor," said the mother, in a tone so calm, so
clear, and yet to his ear so thrilling, that he started, and felt a
chill pass through his frame. There was something in the sound of
that voice in ill accordance with the scene.
As she spoke, she glanced at the physician with bright, tearless
eyes for a moment; and then, turning away her head, she laid her
cheek against that of the corpse, and drew the lifeless body with
trembling eagerness to her heart.
"This is all vain, my dear madam!" urged Dr. R—, approaching the
bedside, and laying his hand upon her. "Come! Be a woman. To bear is
to conquer our fate. No sorrow of yours can call back the happy
spirit of your child. And, surely, you would not call her back, if
you could, to live over the days of anguish and pain that were meted
out to her?"
"I cannot give up my child, doctor. Oh, I cannot give up my child!
It will break my heart!" she replied, her voice rising and trembling
more and more at each sentence, until it gave way, and the hot tears
came raining over her face, and falling upon the insensible cheek of
"'The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,' Mrs. Gaston. Can you
not look up, even in this sore affliction, and say, 'Blessed be the
name of the Lord?' It is your only hope. An arm of flesh cannot
support you now. You must look to the Strong for strength."
As Doctor R—thus urged her to reason and duty, the tears of the
bereaved mother gradually ceased to flow. She grew calmer, and
regained, in some degree, her self-possession. As she did so, she
slowly disengaged her arm from the body of her child, placed its
head, as carefully as if it had been asleep, upon the pillow, and
then arose, and stood with her hands tightly clasped across her
"I am but a weak woman, doctor, and you must bear with me," said
she, in a changed voice. "I used to have fortitude; but I feel that I
am breaking fast. I am not what I was."
The last two sentences were spoken in a tone so sad and mournful,
that the doctor could scarcely keep back the tears.
"You have friends here, I suppose," he remarked, "who will be with
you on this afflicting occasion?"
"I have no friends," she replied, in the same sad voice. "I and my
children are alone in this hard world. Would to heaven we were all
with Ella!" Her tears again gushed forth and flowed freely.
"Then I must send some one who will assist you in your present
need," said Dr. R—; and turning away he left the room, and, getting
into his chaise, rode off at a brisk pace. In about a quarter of an
hour, he returned with a woman who took charge of the body of the
child, and performed for it the last sad offices that the dead
Upon close inquiry, he ascertained from Mrs. Gaston that she was in
a state of extreme destitution; that so far from having the means to
bury her dead child, she was nearly without food to give to her
living ones. To meet this pressing need, he went to a few benevolent
friends, and procured money sufficient to inter the corpse, and about
ten dollars over. This he gave to her after the funeral, at which
there were only three mourners, the mother and her two children.
CHAPTER IV. LIZZY GLENN AROUSES THE
INTEREST OF A STRANGER.
BERLAPS was leaning over his counter late in the afternoon of the
second day from that on which the person calling herself Lizzy Glenn
had applied for and obtained work, when a young man entered and asked
for some article of dress. While the tailor was still engaged in
waiting upon him, the young woman came in, carrying a small bundle in
her hand. Her vail was drawn over her face as she entered; but was
thrown partly aside as she retired to the back part of the store,
where she stood awaiting the leisure of the man from whom she had
obtained work. As she passed him, the customer turned and looked at
her earnestly for a moment or two, and then asked in a whisper—
"Who is that?"
"Only one of our sewing-girls," replied Berlaps, indifferently.
"What is her name?"
"I forget. She's a girl to whom we gave out work day before
This paused the man to look at her more attentively. The young
woman, becoming conscious that she was an object of close scrutiny by
a stranger, turned partly away, so that her face could not be seen.
"There is something singularly familiar about her," mused the young
man as he left the store. "Who can she be? I have certainly seen her
"Ah, good-afternoon, Perkins!" said a familiar voice, while a
friendly hand was laid upon his arm. "You seem to be in a browner
mood than usual!"
"I am a little thoughtful, or abstracted, just as you please,"
replied the individual addressed.
"Are you, indeed? May I ask the reason?"
"The reason hardly seems to be a sufficient one—and, therefore, I
will not jeopardize your good opinion of me by mentioning it."
"O, very well! I am content to have my friends conceal from me
The two young men then walked on arm and arm for some distance.
They seemed to be walking more for the sake of a little conversation
than for any thing else, for they went slowly, and after winding about
among the labyrinthine streets for ten or twenty minutes, took their
way back again.
"There she is again, as I live!" Perkins exclaimed, half pausing,
as the young woman he had seen at the tailor's passed quickly by them
on their turning a corner.
"You've noticed her before, then?" remarked the friend, whose name
"I saw her a little while ago in a clothing store; and her
appearance instantly arrested my attention. Do you know who she is?"
"I do not. But I'd give something to know. You saw her in a
"Yes. In the shop of that close-fisted Berlaps. She is one of his
seamstresses—a new one, by the way—to whom he has just given work.
So he informed me."
"Indeed! She must be in great extremity to work for his pay. It is
only the next remove, I am told, from actual starvation."
"But tell me what you know of her, Milford. She seems to have
attracted your notice, as well as mine."
"I know nothing of her whatever," replied the young man, "except
that I have met her five or six times during the last two weeks, upon
the Warren Bridge, on her way to Charlestown. Something in her
appearance arrested my attention the first time I saw her. But I have
never been able to catch more than a glimpse of her face. Her vail is
"Who can she visit in Charlestown?"
"No one, I have good reason to think."
"I had once the curiosity to follow her as far as I deemed it
prudent and courteous. She kept on entirely through the town—at
least through the thickly settled portion of it. Her step was too
quick for the step of one who was merely going to pay a friendly
"You have had, if I understand you, at least a glimpse of her
"Yes. Once, in passing her, her vail was half drawn aside, as if to
get a freer draught of air."
"And her face?"
"Was thin and pale."
"So I should call it. Not pretty—not a mere doll's face—but
intellectually beautiful; yet full of softness. In fact, the face of
a woman with a mind and heart. But sorrow had touched her—and pain.
And, above all, the marks of crushed affection were too plainly
visible upon her young countenance. All this could be seen at the
single glance I obtained, before her vail was drawn hurriedly down."
"Strange that she should seek so to hide her face from every eye.
Can it be that she is some one we have known, who has fallen so low?"
"No, I think not," replied Milford. "I am certain that I have never
seen her before. Her face is a strange one to me. At least, the
glance I had revealed no familiar feature."
"Well, I, for one, am resolved to know more about her," remarked
Perkins, as the two friends paused before separating. "Since she has
awakened so sudden, and yet so strong an interest in my mind, I
should feel that I was not doing right if I made no effort to learn
something of her true position in our city, where, I am much inclined
to think, she is a stranger."
The young men, after a few more words, separated, Perkins getting
into an "hourly" and going oyer to Charlestown to see a man on some
business who could not be at his house until late in the day. The
transaction of this business took more time than he had expected, and
it was nearly an hour after nightfall before he returned to Boston.
After passing the "draw," as he crossed the old bridge, he perceived
by the light of a lamp, some distance ahead, a female figure hurrying
on with rapid steps.
"It's the strange girl I saw at Berlaps', as I live!" he mentally
ejaculated, quickening his pace. "I must see where she hides herself
The night was very dark, and the form of the stranger, as she
hurried forward, was soon buried in obscurity. In a little while, she
emerged into the little circle of light that diffused itself around
the lamp that stood at the termination of the bridge, and in the next
moment was again invisible. Perkins now pressed forward, and was soon
clear of the bridge, and moving along the dark, lonely avenue that led
up to the more busy part of the city. He had advanced here but a few
paces, when a faint scream caused him to bound onward at full speed.
In a moment after, he came to the corner of a narrow, dark street,
down which he perceived two forms hurrying; one, a female, evidently
struggling against the superior force of the other.
His warning cry, and the sound of his rapidly advancing footsteps,
caused the man to relax his hold, when the female figure glided away
with wind-like fleetness. The man hesitated an instant; but, before
Perkins reached the spot where he stood, ran off in an opposite
direction to that taken by the woman.
Here was an adventure calculated to give to the mind of Perkins a
new and keener interest in the young seamstress. He paused but a
moment, and then ran at the height of his speed in the direction the
female form, which he had good reason to believe was (sic) her's, had
taken. But she was nowhere to be seen. Either she had sought a shelter
in one of the houses, or had hurried forward with a fleetness that
carried her far beyond his reach.
Thoughtful and uneasy in mind, he could hardly tell why, he sought
his lodgings; and, retiring at once to his chamber, seated himself by
a table upon which were books and papers, and soon became lost in sad
memories of the past that strongly linked themselves, why he could not
tell, for they had no visible connection, with the present. For a long
time he sat in this abstract mood, his hand shading his face from the
light. At last he arose slowly and went to a drawer, from which he
took a small morocco case, and, returning with it to the table, seated
himself again near the lamp. He opened the case, and let the light
fall strongly upon the miniature of a most beautiful female. Her light
brown hair, that fell in rich and glossy ringlets to her neck,
relieved tastefully her broad white forehead, and the gentle roundness
of her pure cheeks, that were just tinged with the flush of health and
beauty. But these took not away from the instant attraction of her
dark hazel eyes, that beamed tenderly upon the gazer's face. Perkins
bent for many minutes over this sweet image; then pressing it to his
lips, he murmured, as he leaned back, and lifted his eyes to the
"Where, where in the spirit-land dost thou dwell, dear angel? In
what dark and undiscovered cave of the ocean rests, in dreamless
sleep, thy beautiful but unconscious body? Snatched from me in the
bloom of youth, when fresh flowers blossomed in thy young heart to
bless me with their fragrance, how hast thou left me in loneliness
and desolation of spirit! And yet thou seemest near to me, and, of
late, nearer and dearer than ever. Oh, that I could hear thy real
voice, even if spoken to the ear of my spirit, and see once more thy
real face, were it only a spiritual presence!"
The young man then fell into a dreamy (sic) stat of mind, in which
we will leave him for the present.
CHAPTER V. SOME OF THE TROUBLES OF A
NEEDLEWOMAN.—A FRIEND IN NEED.
THE prompt assistance rendered, by Dr. R—to Mrs. Gaston came just
in time. It enabled her to pay her month's rent, due for several
days, to settle the amount owed to Mrs. Grubb, and lay in more wood
for the coming winter. This consumed all her money, and left her once
more dependent upon the meagre reward of her hard labor to supply food
and clothing for herself and her two remaining children. From a state
of almost complete paralysis of mind, consequent upon the death of
Ella, her necessities aroused her. On the second day after the child
had been taken, she again resumed her suspended toil. The sight of the
unfinished garment which had been laid aside after bending over it
nearly the whole night previous to the morning upon which Ella died,
awakened a fresh emotion of grief in her bosom. As this gradually
subsided, she applied herself with patient assiduity to her task,
which was not finished before twelve o'clock that night, when she laid
herself down with little Emma in her arms, and soon lost all care and
trouble in profound sleep.
Hasty pudding and molasses composed the morning meal for all. After
breakfast, Mrs. Gaston took the two jackets, which had been out now
five days to the shop.
"Why, bless me, Mrs. Gaston, I thought you had run off with them
jackets!" was Michael's coarse salutation as she came in. The poor,
heart-oppressed seamstress could not trust herself to reply, but laid
her work upon the counter in silence. Berlaps, seeing her, came
"These kind of doings will never answer, madam!" he said angrily.
"I could have sold both jackets ten times over, if they'd been here
three days ago, as by rights they ought to have been. I can't give
you work, if you are not, more punctual. You needn't think to get
along at our tack, unless you plug it in a little faster than all
this comes to."
"I'll try and do better after this," said Mrs. Gaston, faintly.
"You'll have to, let me tell you, or we'll cry 'quits.' All my
women must have nimble fingers."
"These jackets are not much to brag of," broke in Michael, as he
tossed them aside. "I think we had better not trust her with any more
cloth roundabouts. She has botched the button-holes awfully; and the
jackets are not more than half pressed. Just look how she has held on
the back seam of this one, and drawn the edges of the lappels until
they set seven ways for Sunday! They're murdered outright, and ought
to be hung, with a basin under them to catch the blood."
"What was she to have for them?" asked Berlaps.
"Thirty cents a-piece, I believe," replied the salesman.
"Don't give her but a quarter, then. I'm not going to pay full
price to have my work botched up after that style!" And, so saying,
Berlaps turned away and walked back to his desk.
Lizzy Glenn, as she had called herself, entered at the moments and
heard the remark of the tailor. She glided. noiselessly by Mrs.
Gaston, and stood further down the store, with both her body and face
turned partly from her, where she waited patiently for the interview
between her and Michael to terminate.
The poor, heart-crushed creature did not offer the slightest
remonstrance to this act of cruel oppression, but took the half
dollar thrown her by Michael for the two jackets with an air of meek
resignation. She half turned to go away after doing so, but a thought
of her two remaining children caused her to hesitate.
"Have'n't you some more trowsers to give out?" she asked, turning
again toward Michael.
The sound of her voice reached the ear of the young female who had
just entered, causing her to start, and look for an instant toward
the speaker. But she slowly resumed her former position with a sigh,
after satisfying herself by a single glance at the woman, whose voice
had fallen upon her ear with a strange familiarity.
"We haven't any more ready, ma'am, just now."
"What have you to give out? Any thing?"
"Yes. Here are some unbleached cotton shirts, at seven cents. You
can have some of them, if you choose."
"I will take half a dozen," said Mrs. Gaston in a desponding tone.
"Any thing is better than nothing."
"Well, Miss Lizzy Glenn," said Michael, with repulsive familiarity,
as Mrs. Gaston turned from the counter and left the store, "what can
I do for you this morning?"
The young seamstress made no reply, but laid her bundle upon the
counter and unrolled it. It contained three fine shirts, with linen
bosoms and collars, very neatly made.
"Very well done, Lizzy," said Michael, approvingly, as he inspected
the two rows of stitching on the bosoms and other parts of the
garments that required to be sewed neatly.
"Have you any more ready?" she asked, shrinking back as she spoke,
with a feeling of disgust, from the bold, familiar attendant.
"Have you any more fine shirts for Lizzy Glenn?" called Michael,
back to Berlaps, in a loud voice.
"I don't know. How has she made them?"
"Then let her have some more, and pay her for those just brought
"That's your sorts!" responded Michael, as he took seventy-five
cents from the drawer and threw the money upon the counter. "Good
work, good pay, and prompt at that. Will you take three more?"
"I will," was the somewhat haughty and dignified reply, intended to
repulse the low-bred fellow's offensive familiarity.
"Highty-tighty!" broke in Michael, in an undertone, meant only for
the maiden's ear. "Tip-top airs don't pass for much in these 'ere
parts. Do you know that, Miss Lizzy Glenn, or whatever your name may
be? We're all on the same level here. Girls that make slop shirts and
trowsers haven't much cause to stand on their dignity. Ha! ha!"
The seamstress turned away quickly, and walked back to the desk
where Berlaps stood writing.
"Be kind enough, sir, if you please, to hand me three more of your
fine shirts," she said, in a firm, but respectful tone.
Berlaps understood the reason of this application to him, and it
caused him to call out to his salesman something after this homely
"Why, in thunder, Michael, don't you let the girls that come to the
store, alone? Give Lizzy three shirts, and be done with your
confounded tom-fooleries! The store is no place for them."
The young woman remained quietly beside the desk of Berlaps until
Michael came up and handed her the shirts. She then walked quickly
toward the door, but did not reach it before Michael, who had glided
along behind one of the counters.
"You're a fool! And don't know which side your bread's buttered,"
he said, with a half leer, half scowl.
She neither paused nor replied, but, stepping quickly out, walked
hurriedly away. Young Perkins, before alluded to, entered at the
moment, and heard Michael's grossly insulting language.
"Is that the way to talk to a lady, Michael?" he asked, looking at
him somewhat sternly.
"But you don't call her a lady, I hope, Mr. Perkins?" the salesman
retorted, seeming, however, a little confused as he spoke.
"Do you know any thing to the contrary?" the young man asked, still
looking Michael in the face.
"I can't say that I know much about her, any way, either good or
"Then why did you use such language as I heard just now?"
"Oh, well! Never mind, Mr. Perkins," said Michael, his whole manner
changing as a new idea arose in his thoughts; "if she's your game,
I'll lie low and shut my eyes."
This bold assurance of the fellow at first confounded Perkins, and
then made him very indignant.
"Remember, sir," said he, in a resolute voice, and with a
determined expression on his face, "that I never suffer any one to
trifle with me in that style, much less a fellow like you; so govern
yourself, hereafter, accordingly. As to this young lady, whom you have
just insulted, I give you fair warning now, that another such an act
will bring with it merited punishment."
Perkins then turned from the somewhat crestfallen salesman, and
walked back to where Berlaps was standing at his desk.
"Do you know any thing about that young woman I just now saw leave
here, Mr. Berlaps?" he asked.
"I do not, Mr. Perkins," was the respectful answer. "She is a
stranger, who came in some days ago for work."
"What is her name?"
"Lizzy Glenn, I believe."
"Where does she live?"
"Somewhere at the north end. Michael; there, knows."
"Get from him her street and number for me, if you please."
Berlaps asked Michael for the street and number where she lived,
which the fellow took good care to give wrong. Perkins made a
memorandum of the name and residence, as furnished, in his note-book,
and, bowing to the man of shears, departed.
With her half-dozen shirts at seven cents, Mrs. Gaston returned
home, feeling as if she must give up the struggle. The loss of Ella,
after having striven so long and so hard for the sake of her
children, made her feel more discouraged than she had ever yet felt.
It seemed to her as if even Heaven had ceased to regard her—or that
she was one doomed to be the sport of cruel and malignant powers. She
had been home for only a short time, when Dr. R—came in. After
inquiring about her health, and if the children were still free from
any symptoms of the terrible disease that had carried off their
sister, he said—
"I've been thinking about you a good deal in the last day or two,
Mrs. Gaston, and have now called to have some talk with you. You work
for the stores, I believe?"
"What kind of work do you do?"
"Here are some common shirts, which I have just brought home."
"Well, how much do you get for them?"
"Seven cents, sir."
"Seven cents! How many of them can you make in a day?"
"Two are as many as I shall be able to get through with, and attend
to my children; and even then I must work half the night. If I had
nothing to do but sit down and sew all the while, I might make three
"Shameful! Shameful! And is that the price paid for such work?"
"It is all I get."
"At this rate, then, you can only make fourteen cents a day?"
"That is all, sir. And, even on the best of work, I can never get
beyond a quarter of a dollar a day."
"How in the world, then, have you managed to keep yourself and
three children from actual want?"
"I have not been able, doctor," she replied, with some bitterness.
"We have wanted almost every thing."
"So I should suppose. What rent do you pay for this poor place?"
"Three dollars a month."
"What! seventy-five cents a week! and not able to earn upon an
average more than a dollar a week?"
"Yes, sir. But I had better work through the summer, and sometimes
earned two dollars, and even a little more, in a week."
The doctor paused some time and then said—
"Well, Mrs. Gaston, it's no use for you to struggle on at this
rate, even with your two remaining children. You cannot keep a home
for them, and cover their nakedness from the cold. Now let me advise
"I am ready to hear any thing, doctor."
"What I would propose, in the first place—and that, in fact, is
what has brought me in this morning—is that you put Henry out to a
trade. He is young, it is true; but necessity, you know, knows no
law. He will be just as well off, and better, too, under the care of
a good master than he can be with you. And, then, such an arrangement
will greatly relieve you. The care of little Emma will be light in
comparison to what you have had to endure."
"You are no doubt right, doctor," the poor woman said, while the
tears came to her eyes as she glanced toward Henry, who, for want of
a pair of shoes, was compelled to stay home from school. "But I
cannot bear the thought of parting with him. He is a delicate child,
and only ten years old this winter. He is too young to go from home
and have a master."
"He is young, I know, Mrs. Gaston. But, then, it is vain to think
of being able to keep him with you. It is a cruel necessity, I know.
But it cannot be avoided."
"Perhaps not. But, even if I should consent to put him out, I know
of no one who would take him. And, above all, I dread the
consequences of vicious association in a city like this."
"That matter, I think, can all be arranged to your satisfaction. I
saw a man yesterday from Lexington, who asked me if I knew any one
who had a lad ten or twelve-years old, and who would like to get him
a good place. I thought of you at once. He said a friend of his
there, who carried on the hatting business, wanted a boy. I inquired
his character and standing, and learned that they were good. Now, I
think this an excellent chance for you. I have already mentioned your
little boy to the man, and promised to speak to you on the subject."
"But think, doctor," said Mrs. Gaston, in a trembling voice, "Henry
is but ten. To put a child out for eleven years is a long, long
"I know it is, madam. But he has to live the eleven years
somewhere, and I am sure he will be as comfortable in this place as
you can make him; and, indeed, even more so."
"In some respects he may, no doubt. But a child like him is never
happy away from his mother."
"But suppose it is out of his mother's power to get him food and
"True—true, doctor. It is a hard fate. But I feel that I have only
one way before me—that of submission."
And submit she did, though with a most painful struggle. On the
following day, the friend of the hatter called upon Mrs. Gaston, and
it was settled between them that little Henry should be called for by
the man who was to become his master on the morning of the next day
but one. The best that the mother could do for her son, about to leave
his home and go out among strangers, was to get him a pair of shoes,
upon which she paid forty cents, promising to settle the balance in a
couple of weeks. His thin, scanty clothes she mended and washed
clean—darned his old and much-worn stockings, and sewed on the torn
front of his seal-skin cap. With his little bundle of clothes tied up,
Henry sat awaiting on the morning of the day appointed for the arrival
of his master, his young heart sorrowful at the thought of leaving his
mother and sister. But he seemed to feel that he was the subject of a
stern necessity, and therefore strove to act a manly part, and keep
back the tears that were ready to flow forth. Mrs. Gaston, after
preparing her boy to pass from under her roof and enter alone upon
life's hard pilgrimage, sat down to her work with an overburdened
heart. At one moment she would repent of what she had done, and half
resolve to say "No," when the man came for her child. But an
unanswerable argument against this were the coarse shirts in her
hands, for which she was to receive only seven cents a-piece!
At last a rough voice was heard below, and then a heavy foot upon
the stairs, every tread of which seemed to the mother to be upon her
heart. Little Henry arose and looked frightened as a man entered,
saying as he came in—
"Ah, yes! This is the place, I see. Well, ma'am, is your little boy
"He is, sir," replied Mrs. Gaston, almost inaudibly, rising and
handing the stranger a chair. "You see he is a very small boy, sir."
"Yes, so I see. But some small boys are worth a dozen large ones.
Come here, my little fellow! What is your name?"
The child went up to the man, telling him his name as he did so.
"That's a fine little fellow! Well, Henry! do you think you and I
can agree? Oh, yes. We'll get along together very well, I have no
doubt. I suppose, ma'am," he continued, addressing Mrs. Gaston, "that
the better way will be for him to stay this winter on trial. If we
like each other, you can come out to Lexington in the spring and have
him regularly bound."
"That will be as well, I suppose," the mother replied. Then, after
a pause, she said—
"How long will it be, Mr. Sharp, before I can see Henry?"
"I don't know, ma'am. How long before you think you can come out to
"Indeed, sir, I don't know that I shall be able to get out there
this winter. Couldn't you send him in sometimes?"
"Perhaps I will, about New Year's, and let him spend a few days
"It is a good while to New Year's day, sir. He has never been from
home in his life."
"Oh no, ma'am. It's only a few weeks off. And I don't believe he'll
be homesick for a day."
"But I shall, Mr. Sharp."
"Yes, sir. It is hard to let my child go, and not see him again
before New Year's day."
"But you must act the woman's part, Mrs. Gaston. We cannot get
through life without some sacrifice of feeling. My mother had to let
me go before I was even as old as your boy."
As Mr. Sharp said this, he arose, adding as he did so—
"Come, my little man. I see you are all ready."
Holding back her feelings with a strong effort, Mrs. Gaston took
hold of Henry's small, thin hand, bent over him, and kissed his fair
young cheek, murmuring in an under tone—
"God be with you, and keep you, my boy!"
Then, speaking aloud, she said—
"Be a good and obedient child, and Mr. Sharp will be kind to you,
and let you come home to see me at New Year's."
"Oh, yes. He shall come home then," said the man half
indifferently, as he moved toward the door.
Henry paused only to kiss his sister, and then followed after, with
his little bundle in his hand. As he was about descending the steps,
he turned a last look upon his mother. She saw that his eyes were
filled with tears. A moment more, and he was gone.
Little Emma had stood looking wonderingly on while this scene was
passing. Turning to her mother with a serious face, as the door
closed upon Henry, she said—
"Brother gone, mamma?
"Yes, dear! Brother is gone," sobbed the mother, taking the last
child that remained to her, and hugging it passionately to her bosom.
It was a long time before she could resume her work, and then so deep
was her feeling of desolation, that she could not keep back from her
eyelids the blinding tear-drops.
CHAPTER V. PERKINS' NARRATIVE.
THE efforts made by Perkins to find the residence of the stranger
proved unavailing. Half suspecting that Michael had deceived him, he
returned to the shop of Mr. Berlaps, and asked the direction anew. It
was repeated precisely as at first given.
"But I have been there."
"Well, wasn't she at that number?"
"I don't know any thing about her, then. It often happens that
these sewing girls deceive us as to their whereabouts?"
Perkins turned away disappointed, but with his interest in the
stranger more than ever excited.
"Who and what can she be? and why do I feel so deep an interest in
a perfect stranger, who cannot possibly be any thing to me?" were
involuntary questions which the young man endeavored, but in vain, to
That night, as he sat alone in his room, his friend Milford came in
and found him with the miniature before alluded to in his hand.
"Whose sweet face is that? Bless me! But she is a lovely creature!"
said Milford, as his eye caught a glimpse of the picture which
Perkins made a movement to conceal. "Aha! Mr. Sober-sides! have I
found you out at last?"
But seeing that his remarks had the effect to disturb, even agitate
his friend, he said, in a changed tone—
"Forgive me if I have thoughtlessly jarred a string that vibrates
painfully! I knew not that you carried in your heart an unhealed
"And yet I do, my friend. A wound that, I fear, will never
cicatrize. Five years have passed since I parted with the living
original of this picture. The parting was to be only for a few
months. We have never met since, and never will, in this world! The
sea gives not up its dead!"
There was a solemn earnestness in the voice of Perkins, that showed
how deeply the loss still affected him.
"To me," said his companion, after a pause, "it seems strange that
you should never have alluded to this subject, even to your nearest
"I could not, Milford. The effort to keep my feelings under control
has been severe enough, without permitting myself to speak of the
matter at all. But now that it has been alluded to, I feel inclined
to talk upon the subject, if you have any desire to hear."
"I certainly have an anxious desire to hear," replied Milford.
Perkins shaded his face for a few moments with his hand, and sat
silent and thoughtful. He then gave, in a calm voice, the following
"You are aware that, when I came to this city to reside, a few
years since, I removed from Troy, New York. That is my native
place—or, at least, I had lived there from boyhood up, when I removed
to Boston. It is now about ten years since a man named Ballantine, who
seemed to possess considerable wealth, made his appearance in the
place, accompanied by his daughter, a young girl about thirteen years
of age. He came from New Orleans, where his wife had died, and where
he was still engaged in business. His object in coming North with his
child was to secure for her the advantages of a good seminary. He
seemed to prefer Troy, and after remaining there for some months
concluded to place his child in the family of a newly-married man,
whose wife, somewhat matronly in age and in habits, happened to please
his fancy, as a maternal guardian for his child. After making every
requisite arrangement in regard to her education, he returned to New
Orleans, from which city money to defray her expenses was regularly
transmitted. Once a year he came North to visit her, and remained in
our town for a few weeks.
"I happened to know the family in which Eugenia Ballantine was
placed, and became acquainted with her immediately. I was then but a
boy, though some four years her senior, yet old enough to feel for
her, from the beginning, something more than a mere fraternal regard.
And this sentiment was reciprocal. No place was so pleasant to me as
that which was cheered by her presence—no smile warmed my heart like
her smile; and I could always see her countenance brighten the moment
I came where she was.
"Gradually, as year after year passed, and she still remained among
us, our early preference for each other, or rather our early
affection, assumed a more serious character. We loved each other; she
was just seventeen, and I twenty-one, when I ventured to tell her how
deeply, fervently, and purely I loved her. The formal announcement did
not seem to create surprise, or agitate her in the least.
"'I never doubted it,' was her innocent reply, looking me tenderly
in the face.
"'And do you love me as truly as I love you, Eugenia?' I asked.
"'Have you ever doubted it?' was her quiet response to this, also.
"From that moment I was bewilderingly happy. My family was one of
wealth and standing; and I immediately wrote to Mr. Ballantine, who,
after sufficient time to make inquiry in regard to the character and
position of his daughter's lover, returned a cordial assent to my
proposal for her hand. Thus far every thing had gone on as smoothly
as a summer sea. We smiled sometimes together at the carping adage,
'The course of true love never did run smooth,' and referred to our
own case as a signal instance of its falsity.
"During the summer succeeding our engagement, Mr. Ballantine did
not come on to the North. In the ensuing spring, Eugenia's term of
instruction closed at the seminary, after having been in Troy nearly
live years. She was a tall, beautiful woman, with a mind highly
cultivated, and externally accomplished in every respect. I was proud
of her beauty and acquirements, at the same time that I loved her with
fervent devotion. Spring passed away and summer came; with the
advancing season her father arrived from the South. He had not seen
his child for two years, during which time she had grown up into a
mature and lovely woman. I could forgive the jealous pride with which
he would look into her face, and the constant tenderness of his
allusions to her when she was away from his side.
"'I do not think, Mr. Perkins,' he would say to me, sometimes,
'that I can let you have my Eugenia, unless you will go South. I am
sure I cannot part with her again.'
"'Why not come North, Mr. Ballantine?' I would suggest.
"But he would shake his head as he made some disparaging remark in
regard to the North, and playfully insist that I must go with him to
the sunny South. It was about the first of September that I asked
that our marriage might take place at an early day. But the father
shook his head.
"'Be content that the flower is to be yours. Do not become too
eager to pluck it from its parent stem, I must have my dear girl with
me for at least one winter. In the spring she shall be yours.'
"'Oh, no! Mr. Ballantine,' I said in alarm. 'You are not going to
rob me of her for so long a time?' I spoke with warmth.
"'Rob you of her!' ejaculated the father, in seeming half
indignation. 'You are unreasonable and very selfish, my dear boy!
Here you have had her for five years, and after a little while are to
have her for life, and yet are unwilling to give me even the boon of a
few short months with my own child. You are not generous!'
"I felt the rebuke, and confessed that I had been moved by too
"'If you think the time long,' he added, 'all you have to do is to
take a packet and come round—we shall welcome you with joy.'
"'That I shall no doubt be compelled to do, for I will not be able
to exist for five or six long months away from Eugenia.'
"'So I should suppose. Well, come along; and after I get you there,
I will see if I can't inoculate you with a love of southern people,
southern habits, and southern manners. I am sanguine that you will
"'Well, perhaps so,' I said. 'But we will see.'
"The time for the departure of Mr. Ballantine and his daughter was
set for the first of October. The few remaining days passed on fleet
wings, and then, after completing the necessary arrangements, Eugenia
left Troy with her father for New York, thence to go by sea to her
native city. I accompanied them down the river, and spent two days
with them in the city, previous to the sailing of the ship Empress, in
which they were to embark. Our parting was tender, yet full of hope
for a speedy meeting. I had already made up my mind to visit New
Orleans about January, and remain there during the winter. Our
marriage was then to be solemnized.
"After the sailing of the Empress, I returned to Troy, to await the
news of her safe arrival at New Orleans. I felt gloomy and desolate,
and for my uncompanionable humor received sundry playful jibes or
open-rebukes from my friends. In about a week I began to examine the
shipping lists of the New York papers, in the hope of seeing some
notice of the good ship that contained my heart's best treasure. But
no record of her having been spoken at sea met my eyes as I scanned
the newspapers day after day with an eager and increasing hope, until
four, five, and six weeks had passed away. So much troubled had I now
become, that I went down to New York to see the owners of the ship.
"'Has the Empress arrived out yet?' I asked, on entering the
"'Not at the latest dates,' was the reply, made in a voice
expressive of concern.
"'Is not her passage a very long one?'
"'We should have had news of her arrival ten days ago.'
"'Has she been spoken on the passage?'
"'Never but once, and that after she was three days out.'
"'Is she a good ship?' I next inquired.
"'None better out of this port,' was the prompt answer.
"For ten days I remained in New York, eagerly examining each
morning the shipping lists, and referring to all the southern papers
to which I could get access. I met during that time but one reference
to the Empress, and that was contained in a paragraph alluding to her
long passage, and expressing great fears for her safety. This thrilled
my heart with a more palpable and terrible fear. On the next day but
one, I met in a New Orleans paper a further allusion to her, coupled
with the remark that a suspicious-looking vessel, clipper-built, with
a black hull, had been seen several times during the past few weeks
cruising in the Gulf, and expressing a fear lest she had come across
the Empress. I thought this would have driven me beside myself. But
why prolong this painful narration by attempting to describe my
feelings, as day after day, week after week, and month after month
passed, and no tidings came of the missing ship? From the day I parted
with Eugenia, I have neither seen her nor heard from her. The noble
vessel that bore her proudly away neither reached her destination, nor
returned back with her precious freight. All—all found a grave in the
dark depths of the ocean.
"It is a terrible thing, my friend, to be
thus reft of all
you hold dearest in life. If I had seen her touched by the hand of
disease, and watched the rose fading from her cheek, leaf after leaf
falling away, until death claimed at last his victim, I could have
borne the severe affliction with some degree of fortitude. Even if
she had been struck down suddenly at my side, there would have been
something for the bruised heart to rest upon. But to be taken from me
thus! Her fate shrouded in a most fearful mystery! Oh! it is
And the young man set his teeth firmly, and clenched his hands, in
a powerful struggle with his still o'ermastering feelings. At length
he resumed, a calmer voice—
"No matter what terrors or violence attended her death—no matter
how deep she lies in the unfathomable sea, her spirit is with the
blessed angels, for she was pure and good. This ought to be enough
for me. The agonies of a fearful departure are long since over. And
why should I recall them, and break up afresh the tender wounds that
bleed at the slightest touch? Henceforth I will strive to look away
from the past, and onward, in pleasing hope, to that future time when
we shall meet where there will be no more parting."
"She must have been a lovely creature indeed," said Milford, some
minutes after his friend had ceased, holding, as he spoke, the
miniature in his hand, and looking at it attentively.
"She was lovely as innocence itself," was the half abstracted
"Although I never saw her, yet there is an expression in her face
that is familiar"—Milford went on to say—"very familiar; but it
awakens, I cannot tell why, a feeling of pain. This face is a happy
face; and yet t seems every moment as if it would change into a look
of sadness—yea, of deep sorrow and suffering."
"This may arise, and no doubt does, from the melancholy history
connected with her, that I have just related."
"Perhaps that is the reason," Milford returned, thoughtfully. "And
yet I know not how to account for the strangely familiar expression
of her face."
"Did you ever see a picture in your life that had not in it some
feature that was familiar?" asked Perkins.
"Perhaps not," the friend replied, and then sat in mental
abstraction for some moments. He was not satisfied with this
explanation, and was searching his memory for the original of that
peculiar expression which had struck him so forcibly. He was sure
that it did exist, and that he had looked upon it no very long time
before. But he tried in vain to fix it. The impression floated still
in his mind only as a vague idea.
"There! I have it!" he at length exclaimed, but with something of
disappointment in his tones. "I remember that the young seamstress we
were speaking of a few days ago, a single glimpse of whose face I
obtained, had that very look which strikes me as familiar in this
picture. I thought I had seen it somewhere else."
Perkins started, and looked surprised and agitated. But this was
"Now you speak of her," he said, calmly, "I remember that I always
thought of Eugenia when I saw her, which is no doubt the reason why I
have felt strongly interested for the young stranger, who has
doubtless seen better days. I related to you, I believe, the
adventure I had near the bridge, in which she was concerned?"
"You did. I wonder what in the world takes her over to Charlestown
so often? She goes, I believe, almost every day, and usually late in
the afternoon. Several persons have spoken of her to me; but none
seemed to know her errand there, or to have any knowledge of her
"There is some mystery connected with her, certainly. This
afternoon I went in to make some inquiries in regard to her of
Berlaps. I was just in time to hear Michael, his salesman, give her
some insulting language, for which I rebuked the fellow sharply."
"Indeed! How did she take it?" said Milford.
"She did not seem to notice him, but glided quickly past, as he
bent over the counter toward her, and left the store."
"Did you see her face?"
"No. Her vail was closely drawn, as usual," answered Perkins.
"I don't know why it is, but there is something about this young
female that interests me very much. Have you yet learned her name?"
"It is Lizzy Glenn—so I was told at the clothing store for which
"Lizzy Glenn! An assumed name, in all probability."
"Very likely. It sounds as if it might be," said Perkins.
"If I were you," remarked the friend, "I would learn something
certain about this stranger; if for no other reason, on account of
the singular association of her, in your involuntary thought, with
Miss Ballantine. She may be a relative; and, if so, it would afford a
melancholy pleasure to relieve her from her present unhappy condition,
for the sake of the one in heaven."
"I have already tried to find her; but she was not at the number
where Michael said she resided."
"She may not have given him the right direction," said Milford.
"So he pretends to infer. But I would rather believe that Michael
has purposely deceived me than that she would be guilty of
"If I see her again," said Milford, "I will endeavor, by all means,
to discover her place of residence."
"Do, if you would oblige me. It is my purpose not to lose sight of
her at our next meeting, be it where it may. Our present conversation
has awakened a deeper interest, and stimulated a more active
curiosity. I am no blind believer in chance, Milford. I do not regard
this meeting with the stranger as something only fortuitous. There is
a Providence in all the events of life, and I am now firmly assured
that these encounters with the seamstress are not merely accidental,
as the world regards accidents, but events in a chain of circumstances
that, when complete, will result in positive good. Of the nature of
that good—as to who will be blessed or benefitted—I do not pretend
to divine. I only feel ready to act my part in the drama of life. I
must and will know more about this stranger."
CHAPTER VII. HENRY GASTON LEAVES
HOME WITH SHARP.
AS little Henry, after parting with his mother, hurried on by the
side of Mr. Sharp, who took his way directly across the bridge
leading over to Charlestown, where he had left the chaise in which he
had ridden from Lexington, a handsome carriage, containing a mother
and three happy children, about the age of himself, Emma, and the
sister who had just died, drove rapidly by. The children were full of
spirits, and, in their thoughtless glee, called out gayly, but with
words of ridicule, to the poor, meanly-clan child, who was hurrying on
at almost a run beside the man who had become his master. Their words,
however, were heeded not by the full-hearted boy. His thoughts were
going back to his home, and to his much-loved mother.
This incident is mentioned here, as a striking illustration of the
practical working of that system of grinding the poor, especially
poor females, by which many men make fortunes, or at least acquire
far more than a simple competence for life. That carriage belonged to
Berlaps, and those happy children were his. But how could he buy a
carriage and horses, and build fine houses, and yet not be able to pay
more than the meagre pittance for his work that the reader has seen
doled out to his half-starving workwomen? How could his children be
fed and clothed sumptuously every day, and the widow, who worked for
him from early dawn until the silent watches of midnight, not be able
to get wholesome bread and warm garments for her little ones, unless he took more than his just share of the profits upon his
goods? If he could only afford to pay seven cents for coarse shirts,
and so on, in proportion, up through the entire list of articles made,
how came it that the profits on these very articles enabled him to
live in elegance, build houses, and keep his own carriage and horses?
Such questions apply not alone to, the single instance of Berlaps,
here introduced. They are pertinent in their application to all who
add to their profits for the purpose of a grand aggregate, at the
expense of reducing the pay, even a few cents, upon the hard-toiling
workwoman, whose slender income, at best, is barely sufficient to
procure the absolute necessaries of life. This cutting down of
women's wages, until they are reduced to an incompetent pittance, is
a system of oppression too extensive, alas! in this, as well as many
other countries. It is one of the quiet and safe means by which the
strong oppress the weak—by which the selfish build themselves up,
cruelly indifferent to the sufferings of those who are robbed of a
just compensation for their labor. The record of a conversation
overheard between two of the class alluded to will illustrate this
matter. They were tailors—or, rather, what are sometimes called
slop-shop, or clothing men. Let it not be supposed that tailors alone
are the oppressors of workwomen. In most of the employments at which
females engage, especially such as admit of a competition in labor,
advantage is taken of the eager demand for work, and prices reduced to
the lowest possible standard. In the eager scramble for monopolizing
more than a just share of custom, or to increase the amount of sales
by the temptation of extremely moderate rates, the prices of goods are
put down to the lowest scale they will bear. If, in doing this, the
dealer was content with a profit reduced in some proportion to the
increase of his sales, no one would have a right to complain. He would
be free to sell his goods at cost, or even below cost, if that suited
his fancy. Instead of this, however, the profits on his articles are
often the same that they were when prices were ten or fifteen per
cent. higher, and he reaps the advantage of a greatly increased sale,
consequent upon the more moderate rates at which he can sell. The evil
lies in his cutting down his operatives' wages; in taking off of them,
while they make no party to his voluntary reduction of prices, the
precise amount that he throws in to his customer as a temptation to
buy more freely. But to the promised dialogue—
"Money don't come in hand-over-fist, as it ought to come," remarked
Grasp, of the flourishing firm of Grasp Co., Merchant Tailors, of
Boston, to the junior partner of the establishment. "The nimble
sixpence is better than the slow shilling, you know. We must make our
shears eat up cloth a little faster, or we sha'n't clear ten thousand
dollars this year by one-third of the sum."
"Although that would be a pretty decent business these times."
"I don't call any business a decent one that can be bettered,"
replied Grasp, contemptuously.
"But can ours be bettered?"
"By selling more goods."
"How are we to do that?"
"By putting down the prices, and then making a confounded noise
about it. Do you understand?"
"I do. But our prices are very low now."
"True. But we may reduce them still further, and, by so doing,
increase our sales to an extent that will make our business net us
beyond the present income quite handsomely. But, to do this, we must
cut down the prices now paid for making up our clothes. In this way,
we shall be able to greatly increase our sales, with but a slight
reduction upon our present rates of profit."
"But will our workmen stand it? Our needlewomen, particularly, work
very low now."
They'll have to stand it!" replied Grasp; "most of them are glad to
get work at any price. Women, with half a dozen hungry mouths around
them, don't stand long to higgle about a few cents in a garment, when
there are so many willing to step in and take their places. Besides,
what are three or four cents to them on a vest, or pair of pants, or
jacket? The difference in a week is small and will not be missed—or,
at the worst, will only require them to economize with a little
steadier hand; while upon the thousands of garments we dispose of
here, and send away to other markets, it will make a most important
aggregate on the right side of profit and loss."
"There is no doubt of that," replied the partner, the idea of the
aggregate of three or four cents on each garment occupying his mind,
and obscuring completely, for a time, every other idea. "Well, I'm
with you," he said, after a little while, "in any scheme for
increasing profits. Getting along at the rate of only some two or
three thousand a year is rather slow work. Why, there's Tights,
Screw, Co., see how they're cutting into the trade, and carrying
every thing before them. Tights told me that they cleared twenty
thousand dollars last year."
"No doubt of it. And I'll make our house do the same before three
years roll over, or I'm no prophet."
"If we are going to play this cutting-down game, we had better
begin at once."
"Oh, certainly. The sooner the better. But first, we must arrange a
reduced scale of prices, and then bring our whole tribe of workwomen
and others down to it at once. It will not do to hold any parley with
them. If we do, our ears will be dinned to death with trumped-up tales
of poverty and distress, and all that sort of thing, with which we
have no kind of concern in the world. These are matters personal to
these individuals themselves, and have nothing to do with our
business. No matter what prices we paid, we would have nothing but
grumbling and complaint, if we allowed an open door on that subject."
"Yes, there is no doubt of that. But, to tell the truth, it is a
mystery to me how some of these women get along. Very few make over
two dollars a week, and some never go beyond a dollar. Many of them
are mothers, and most of them have some one or more dependent upon
them. Food, rent, clothes, and fuel, all have to come out of these
small earnings By what hocus-pocus it is done, I must confess,
puzzles me to determine."
"Oh, as to that," returned Grasp, "it is, no doubt, managed well
enough. Provisions, and every thing that poor people stand in need
of, are very cheap. The actual necessaries of life cost but little,
you know. How far above the condition of the starving Irish, or the
poor operatives in the manufacturing portions of England, is that of
the people who work for us! Think of that for a moment."
"True-very true," replied the partner. "Well," ha continued, "I
think we had better put the screws on to our workwomen and journeymen
at once. I am tired of plodding on at this rate."
"So am I. To-night, then, after we close the store, we will arrange
our new bill of prices, and next week bring all hands down to it."
And they were just as good as their word. And it happened just as
they said—the poor workwomen had to submit.
But we must return from our digression.
The child who, under the practical operation of a system of which
the above dialogue gives some faint idea, had to go out from his home
at the tender age of ten years, because his mother, with all her hard
toil, early and late, at the prices she obtained for her labor, could
not earn enough to provide a sufficiency of food and clothes for her
children—that child passed on, unheeding, and, indeed, unhearing the
jibes of the happier children of his mother's oppressor; and
endeavored, sad and sorrowful as he felt, to nerve himself with
something of a manly feeling. At Charlestown, Mr. Sharp got into his
chaise, and, with the lad he had taken to raise, drove home.
"Well, here is the youngster, Mrs. Sharp," he said, on alighting
from his vehicle. "He is rather smaller and punier than I like, but I
have no doubt that he will prove willing and obedient."
"What is his name?" asked Mrs. S., who had a sharp chin, sharp
nose, and sharp features throughout; and, with all, rather a sharp
voice. She had no children of her own—those tender pledges being
denied her, perhaps on account of the peculiar sharpness of her
"His name is Henry," replied her husband.
"Henry Gaston, I believe. Isn't that it, my boy?"
Henry replied in the affirmative. Mr. Sharp then said—
"You can go in with Mrs. Sharp, Henry. She will tell you what she
wants you to do."
"Yes, come along." And Mrs. Sharp turned away as she spoke, and
retired into the more interior portion of the house, followed by the
"Mrs. Sharp will tell you what she wants you to do?" Yes, that'
tells the story. From this hour the child is to become the
drudge—the hewer of wood and drawer of water—for an unfeeling
woman, whose cupidity and that of her husband have prompted them to
get a little boy as a matter of saving—one who could do the errands
for the shop and the drudgery for the house. There was no thought
for, and regard toward the child to be exercised. He was to be to
them only an economical little machine, very useful, though somewhat
troublesome at times.
"I don't see that your mother has killed you with clothes," said
Mrs. Sharp to him, after taking his bundle and examining it, and then
surveying him from head to foot. "But I suppose she thinks they will
do well enough; and I suppose they will. There, do you see that wooden
pail there? Well, I want you to take it and go to the pump across the
street, down in the next square, and bring it full of water."
Henry took the pail, as directed, and went and got the water. This
was the beginning of his service, and was all well enough, as far as
it went. But from that time he had few moments of relaxation, except
what the night gave him, or the quiet Sabbath. All through the first
day he was kept busy either in the house or shop, and, before night,
had received two or three reprimands from Mrs. Sharp, administered in
no very affectionate tones.
When night came, at last—it had seemed a very long day to him—and
he was sent to bed alone, in the dark, he put off his clothes and
laid himself down, unable, as he did so, to restrain the tears and
sobs. Poor child! How sadly and yearningly did his heart go back to
the narrow apartment, every nook and corner of which were dear to
him, because his mother's presence made all sunshine there! And bow
earnestly did he long to be with her again! But he soon sank away to
sleep, from which he did not awaken until the half angry voice of
Mrs. Sharp chided him loudly for "lazying it away" in bed until after
sunrise. Quickly getting up and dressing himself, he went down and
commenced upon a new day of toil. First he had to bring in wood, then
to grind the coffee, afterward to bring water from the pump, and then
to scour the knives for breakfast. When these were done, he was sent
into the shop to see if Mr. Sharp didn't want him, where he found
plenty to occupy his attention. The shop was to be sprinkled and swept
out, the counter to be dusted, and various other little matters to be
attended to, which occupied him until breakfast time. After he had
finished this meal, Mrs. Sharp managed to find him plenty to do for
some hours, and then her husband laid out work for him, at which he
devoted himself all the rest of the day, except when he was wanted in
the kitchen for some purpose or other. And so it continued, day after
day, from morning until night. Not an hour's relaxation was allowed
the child; and if, from weariness or disheartened feeling, he
sometimes lingered over a piece of work, a severe scolding or some
punishment from Mrs. Sharp was sure to follow.
Thus things went on, every day adding to the cold of a rapidly
advancing northern winter. But Mrs. Sharp still thought, according to
her first conclusions in regard to Henry's clothes, that "they would
do." They were not very warm, it is true—that she could not help
admitting. "But then he is used to wearing thinner clothes than other
children," she reasoned, "or else his mother would have put warmer
ones on him. And, any how, I see no use in letting him come right down
as a dead expense upon our hands. He hasn't earned his salt yet, much
less a winter suit of clothes."
But the poor little fellow was no more used to bearing exposure to
the chilling winds of winter than she had been when a child. He
therefore shrunk shiveringly in the penetrating air whenever forced
to go beyond the door. This did not fail to meet the eye of Mrs.
Sharp—indeed, her eye was rarely off of him when he was within the
circle of its vision—and it always irritated her. And why? It
reproved her for not providing warmer clothes for the child; and hurt
her penurious spirit with the too palpable conviction that before many
weeks had passed they would be compelled to lay out some money for
"the brat," as she had begun frequently to designate him to her
husband, especially when she felt called upon to complain of him for
idleness, carelessness, dulness, stupidity, wastefulness,
uncleanliness, hoggishness, or some other one of the score of faults
she found in a child of ten years old, whom she put down to work as
steadily as a grown person.
A single month made a great change in his external appearance; such
a change as would have made him unfamiliar even to his mother's eye.
While under her care, his clothes, though poor, had always been whole
and clean—his skin well washed, and his hair combed smoothly. Now,
the color of his thin jacket and trowsers could scarcely have been
told for the dust and grease which had become imbedded in their
texture. His skin was begrimed until it was many shades darker, and
his hair stood stiffly about his head, in matted portions, looking as
if a comb had not touched it for weeks. One would hardly have imagined
that so great a change could have passed upon a boy in a few weeks as
had passed over him. When he left his mother's humble abode, there was
something about him that instantly attracted the eye of almost any one
who looked at him attentively, and won for him favorable impressions.
His skin was pure and white, and his mild blue eyes, with their
expression of innocent confidence, looked every one in the face
openly. Now there was something repulsive to almost every one about
the dirty boy, who went moping about with soiled face and hands, a
cowed look, and shrinking gait. Scarcely any one seemed to feel a
particle of sympathy for him, either in or out of the house where he
Time passed on, and New Year's day rapidly approached, the
anxiously longed-for time, to which Henry had never ceased to look
forward since he left his mother's presence. Every passing day seemed
to render his condition more and more uncomfortable. The air grew
colder and colder, and the snow lay all around to the depth of many
inches. A suit of cloth clothes had been "cooked up" for him out of
an old coat and trowsers that had long since been worn threadbare by
Mr. Sharp. Thin though they were, they yet afforded a most
comfortable substitute for those their welcome appearance had caused
him to throw aside. But the pair of shoes he had worn when he left
Boston were still considered good enough, if thought of at all,
notwithstanding they gaped largely at the toes, and had been worn so
thin in the soles that scarcely the thickness of a knife-blade lay
between his feet and the snow-covered ground. In regard to sleeping,
he was not much better off. His bed was of straw, upon the floor, in
a large unplastered garret, and but scantily supplied with covering.
Here he would creep away alone in the dark every night, on being
driven away to bed from crouching beside the warm kitchen fire after
his daily toil was done, and get under the thin covering with all his
clothes on. There he would lie, all drawn up into a heap to keep warm,
and think of his mother, and long for New Year's day to come, until
sleep would lock up his senses in unconsciousness.
At last it was New Year's eve, but the poor child had heard no word
about going home. He could sleep but little through that night for
thinking about the promised return to his mother on the next day, and
for the dread he felt lest Mr. Sharp had forgotten, or would disregard
his promise. The bright morning of another new year at length arose,
clear and piercingly cold, and Henry crept early from his bed, and
went down stairs to make the fires as usual. When Mr. Sharp at length
made his appearance, he looked wishfully and inquiringly into his
face, but no notice whatever was taken of him, except to give him some
order, in the usual short, rough tone in which he always addressed
"Ain't I going home to see my mother to-day, sir?" was on his
tongue, but he feared to utter it.
After breakfast he watched every movement of Mr. Sharp, expecting
each moment to see him go out and get the chaise ready to take him to
Boston. But no such idea was in the mind of the thoughtless, unfeeling
master. Nine, ten, and eleven o'clock came and went, and the poor
child's anxious heart began to fail him. Several times he was on the
point of recalling to the mind of Mr. Sharp, his promise to his mother
that he should be sent home at New Year's, but as often his timid
heart caused him to shrink back. At last dinner-time came, and yet
nothing was said, nor were there any indications that the boy was to
go home. The meal passed, and then Henry was directed to go on some
errand about a mile away.
"But ain't I going home to-day, Mr. Sharp?" said he, with a sudden,
despairing resolution, looking up with tearful eyes, as he spoke.
"What's that?" eagerly asked Mrs. Sharp, coming forward. "What's
The frightened boy slunk back, and stood with his eyes upon the
"Go where, did he say, Mr. Sharp?"
"Go to see his mammy, to be sure!" replied the hatter, in a
half-sneering tone of surprise.
"His mammy, indeed! And pray what put that into his head, I should
like to know?"
"Mr. Sharp told mother he would send me home to see her on New
Year's day," the child ventured to says in explanation.
"Clear out! Off with you, Mr. Assurance!" exclaimed Sharp, in an
angry voice, at this, half raising his hand to strike the lad. "How
Henry started back trembling, at once conscious that all hope of
seeing her he had so pined to meet for many long and weary days of
suffering and privation, was at an end. Slowly he left the house,
shrinking in the cold blast, and went on his errand through the hard
"Did any one ever hear such impudence!" ejaculated Mrs. Sharp, in
breathless surprise. "Sent home on New Year's day to his mammy! A
pretty how-do-you-do, upon my word! the dirty little ill-conditioned
"I believe, now I come to think of it," said Sharp, "that I did say
something of the kind to his mother, just to pacify her, though I had
no thought of doing it; and, indeed, I don't suppose she cares any
great deal about seeing him. She didn't look as if she could keep soul
and body together long."
"If she wanted to see him so dreadful bad, why didn't she keep him
at home with her tied all the while to her apron string?" said the
"She would have had to work a little harder to have done that. No
doubt she was glad enough to get rid of the burden of supporting
"Well, all that I can say is, that any mother who is not willing to
work to take care of her children, don't deserve to see them."
"So say I," returned the husband.
"And as to Henry's going home, I wouldn't hear to any such thing.
He'd not be a bit too good to trump up any kind of stories about not
being treated well, so as to prevails upon her not to let him come
back. I know just how boys like him talk when they get a chance to
run home. Even when they do come back, they're never worth a cent
"Oh, no! As to his going home, that is out of the question this
winter," replied Sharp. "If his mother cares about seeing him, she'll
find her way out here."
With a sadder heart than ever did poor Henry grope his way up into
the cold garret that night, with but one thought and one image in his
mind, the thought of home and the image of his mother. He dreamed of
her all night. He was at home. Her tender voice was in his ear, and
his head rested on her bosom. She clothed him in warmer garments, and
set him beside her at the table, upon which was tempting food. But
morning came at last, and he was awakened from visions of delight to a
more painful consciousness of his miserable condition by the sharp,
chiding voice of his cruel mistress. Slowly, with stiffened limbs and
a reluctant heart did he arise, and enter upon the repulsive and hard
duties of another day.
As he had not been permitted to go home, his next consolatory
thought was that his mother would come out at once to see him. This
hope he clung to day after day, but he clung to it in vain. It
mattered not that, every-time the shop-door opened when he was in it,
he turned with a quickened pulse to see if it were not his mother, or
that he would pause and listen, when back in the house, to hear if the
strange voice that came suddenly from the shop, were not the voice of
her he so longed to see. She came not; nor was any word from her
brought to him.
And thus passed the whole of the severe month of January, the long
and cold winter adding greatly to his other causes of suffering.
CHAPTER VIII. HENRY GASTON'S
TREATMENT BY SHARP.
A BOY of more robust constitution and fuller of blood than Henry
Gaston, with that activity which a fine flow of animal spirits and a
high degree of health give, would have cared little for the exposure
to which he was subjected at Sharp's, even if clad no more
comfortably. But Henry had little of that healthy warmth natural to
the young. He was constitutionally delicate, and this caused him to
feel more keenly the chilling intensity of the cold to which he was
frequently exposed without sufficient clothing. His whole dress,
intended to protect him from the cold of a remarkably severe and
trying winter, was a thin shirt, the remains of one worn for nearly a
year; the jacket and trowsers, thin and threadbare, that Mrs. Sharp
had made for him out of some worn-out garment which her husband had
thrown aside, and which were now rent in many places; a pair of
dilapidated yarn stockings, with feet like a honey-comb. His shoes,
the pair given him by his mother, had been half-soled once, but were
again so far gone that his stockings protruded in several places, and
yet neither his master nor mistress seemed to take any notice of their
condition, and he was afraid to ask for a new pair. When it rained or
snowed, or, worse, when it rained with or after the snow, as it had
done several times within a week, his shoe were but a poor protection
for his feet. The snow and water went through them as through a sieve.
Before the first of February, the poor boy was almost crippled with
the chilblains. Through the day, he hobbled about as best he could,
often in great pain; and at night the tender skin of his feet,
irritated by the warmth of the bed, would keep him awake for hours
with a most intolerable burning and itching.
"Why don't you walk straight? What do you go shuffling along in
that kind of style for?" said Sharp to him one day, toward the last of
"My feet are so sore," replied Henry, with a look of suffering,
blended with patient endurance.
"What's the matter with them, ha?" asked his master glancing down
at the miserable apologies for shoes and stockings that but partially
protected the child's feet front the snow whenever he stepped beyond
"They're frosted, sir," said Henry.
"Frosted, ha? Pull off your shoes and stockings, and let me see."
Henry drew off an old shoe, tied on with various appliances of
twine and leather strings; and then removed a stocking that, through
many gaping holes, revealed the red and shining skin beneath. That
little foot was a sight to pain the heart of any one but a cruel
tyrant. The heel, in many places, was of a dark purple, and seemed as
if mortification were already begun. And in some places it was cracked
open, and exhibited running sores.
"Take off your other shoe and stocking," said Sharp, in
Henry obeyed, trembling all the while. This foot exhibited nearly
the same marks of the progress of the painful disease.
"What have you done for it?" asked Sharp, looking Henry in the face
with a scowl.
"Nothing but to put a little candle-grease on it at night before I
went to bed," replied the child.
"Come out here with me. I'll doctor you," said his master, turning
away and disappearing through the back door. Henry followed as
quickly as he could walk on his bare feet, that seemed ready to give
way under him at ever step. When he got as far as the kitchen, he
found Sharp waiting for him in the door.
"Here, jump out into that snow-bank!" said he, pointing to a pile
of snow that had been shoveled up only that morning, after a fall
through the night, and lay loose and high.
The poor boy looked down at his crippled, and, indeed, bleeding
feet, and, as may well be supposed, hesitated to comply with the
"Do you hear, sir?" exclaimed his master, seizing him by the
collar, and pushing him out into the yard. Then catching him by one
arm, he set him in the centre of the snow-bank, his naked feet and
legs going down into it some twelve or eighteen inches.
"Now stand there until I tell you to come out!"
The child did not scream, for he had already learned to bear pain
without uttering even the natural language of suffering; although the
agony he endured for the next minute was terrible. At the end of that
time, a motion of the head of his master gave him to understand that
the ordeal was over.
"Now take that bucket of cold water, and let him put his feet into
it," said he to a little girl they had just taken to raise, and who
stood near the kitchen window, her heart almost ready to burst at the
cruelty inflicted upon the only one in the house with whom she had a
single feeling in common.
The girl quickly obeyed, and sat down on the floor beside the
bucket of water. She handled tenderly the blood-red feet of the little
boy, ever and anon looking up into his face, and noting with tender
solicitude, the deep lines of suffering upon his forehead.
"There, that will do," said Sharp, who stood looking on, "and now
run up stairs and get a better pair of stockings for Henry."
"What do you want with a better pair of stockings?" said Mrs.
Sharp, a few moments after, bustling down into the kitchen.
"Why, I want them for Henry," replied her husband.
"Want them for Henry!" she exclaimed, in surprise. "Where's the
ones he had on?"
"There are some old rags in the shop that he had on; but they won't
do now, with such feet as he's got."
"What's the matter with his feet, I'd like to know," inquired Mrs.
"Why, they're frosted."
"Let him put them in snow, then. That'll cure 'em. It's nothing but
a little snow-burn, I suppose."
"It's something a little worse than that," replied Sharp, "and he
must have a comfortable pair of stockings. And here, Anna, do you run
around to Stogies, and tell him to send me three or four pairs of
coarse shoes, about Henry's size."
Anna, the little girl, disappeared with alacrity, and Mr. Sharp,
turning to his wife, said:
"Henry must have a good, warm pair of stockings, or we shall have
him sick on our hands."
"Well, I'll find him a pair," replied Mrs. Sharp, going off up
stairs. In the mean time, Henry still sat with his feet in the cold
water. But the pain occasioned by the snow was nearly all gone. Mrs.
Sharp came down with the stockings, and Anna came in with the shoes
at the same moment. On lifting the child's feet from the water, the
redness and inflammation had a good deal subsided. Mrs. Sharp rubbed
them with a little sweet oil, and then gave him the stockings to put
on. He next tried the shoes; and one pair of them fitted him very
well. But his feet were too sore and tender for such hard shoes; and
when they were on, and tied up around the ankles, he found that after
getting up they hurt him most dreadfully in his attempt to walk. But
he hobbled, as best he could, into the shop.
"Throw them dirty things into the street!" were the only words
addressed to him by Sharp, who pointed at his wet apologies for shoes
and stockings, still lying upon the floor.
Henry did as directed, but every step he took was as if he were
treading upon coals of fire. His feet, now enveloped in a closely
fitting pair of woolen stockings, and galled by the hard and
unyielding leather of the new shoes, itched and burned with maddening
"Here, carry this hat home," said his master, as he came in from
the street, not seeming to notice the expression of suffering that was
on his face, nor the evident pain with which he walked.
Henry took the hat and started out. He was but a few paces from the
shop, before he found that the shoes rubbed both heels, and pressed
upon them at the same time so hard as to produce a sensation at each
step as if the skin were torn off. Sometimes he would stop and wait a
moment or two, until the intolerable pain subsided, and then he would
walk on again with all the fortitude and power of endurance he could
command. In this extreme suffering, the uppermost thought in his mind,
when on the street, kept his eyes wandering about, and scanning every
female form that came in sight, in the ever-living hope of seeing his
mother. But the sigh of disappointment told too frequently, that he
looked in vain. He had not proceeded far, when the pains in his feet
became so acute that he paused, and leaned against a tree-box, unable
for a time to move forward a single step. While resting thus, Doctor
R—, who had been called to visit a patient in Lexington, came past
and noticed him. There was something about the child, although so
changed that he did not recognize him, that aroused the doctor's
sympathies, and he ordered his man to drive up to the pavement and
"Well, my little man, what's the matter?" said he, leaning out of
his carriage window.
Henry looked up into his face, but did not reply. He knew Doctor
R—instantly. How strong a hope sprang up in his heart—the hope of
hearing from or being taken back to his mother! The kind-hearted
physician needed no words to tell him that the little boy was
suffering acutely. The flushed face, the starting eye, and the
corrugation of the brow, were language which he understood as plainly
as spoken words.
"What ails you, my little boy!" he said in a voice of tender
The feelings of Henry softened under the warmth of true sympathy
expressed in the countenance and tone of Doctor R—, and still
looking him steadily in the face, essayed, but in vain, to answer the
"Are you sick, my boy?" asked the doctor, with real and increasing
concern for the poor child.
"My feet hurt me so that I can hardly walk," replied Henry, whose
tongue at last obeyed his efforts to speak.
"And what ails your feet?" asked Doctor R—.
"They've been frosted, sir."
"Frosted, indeed! poor child! Well, what have you done for them?"
"Nothing—only I greased them sometimes at night; and to-day my
master made me stand in the snow."
"The cruel wretch!" muttered Doctor R—between his teeth. "But
can't you walk up as far as the drug store at the corner, and let me
see your feet?" continued the doctor.
"Yes, sir" replied the child, though he felt that to take another
step was almost impossible.
"You'll come right up, will you," urged the doctor.
"Yes, sir," returned Henry, in a low voice.
"Then I'll wait for you. But come along as quickly as you can;" and
so saying, the doctor drove off. But he could not help glancing back,
after he had gone on about the distance of half a square, for his
heart misgave him for not having taken the little fellow into his
carriage. He soon caught a glimpse of him on the sidewalk, slowly and
laboriously endeavoring to work his way along, but evidently with
extreme suffering. He at once gave directions to the driver to turn
back; and taking Henry into the carriage, hurried on to the office.
The child, when lifted in, sank back upon the seat, pale and
exhausted. Doctor R—asked him no question; and when the carriage
stopped, directed the driver to carry him in. He then, with his own
hands, carefully removed his shoes and stockings. "My poor, poor
child!" said he in pity and astonishment, on beholding the condition
of Henry's feet. The harsh remedy prescribed by Sharp, if the
subsequent treatment had been tender and judicious, might have been
salutary; but, after it, to confine the boy's feet in hard, tight new
shoes, and to send him out upon the street, was to induce a high state
of inflammation, and, in the advanced state of the chilblains, to
endanger mortification. Several of the large ulcerous cracks, which
were bleeding freely, the doctor dressed, and then, cutting a number
of short strips of adhesive plaster, he applied them to the skin over
the heel and foot, in various directions, so as almost completely to
cover every portion of the surface.
"How does that feel?" he asked, looking into Henry's face with an
air of relief and satisfaction after he had finished the first foot.
"It feels a good deal better," replied the child, his voice and the
expression of his countenance both indicating that he no longer
suffered so excruciatingly as he had but a short time previously.
The other foot was soon dressed in the same way. Doctor R—then
went back into the house and got a loose pair of stockings and a light
pair of shoes, belonging to one of the apothecary's children, from
their mother. These fitted Henry comfortably, and when he stood down
upon his feet he did not experience any pain.
"That feels a good deal better, don't it?" said the doctor,
"Yes, indeed it does," and Henry looked his gratitude; and yet,
blended with that look, was an expression that seemed to the doctor
an appeal for protection.
"You're afraid to go back now, ain't you, since you've stayed so
long?" he asked, in a tone meant to encourage the child's confidence.
"Indeed I am. Mr. Sharp will be almost sure to beat me."
"What a very devil incarnate the man must be!" muttered Dr. R—to
himself, taking three or four strides across the floor. "I shall have
to take the little fellow home, and browbeat his master, I suppose,"
he continued. Then addressing Henry, he said, aloud—
"Well, I'll take you home to him in my carriage, and settle all
that for you, my little man; so don't be frightened."
Acting upon this resolution, Dr. R—soon drove up before the
hatter's shop, and, lifting out Henry himself, led him into the
presence of his astonished master.
"What's the matter now?" asked the latter, roughly, and with a
forbidding aspect of countenance.
"The matter is simply this, sir," responded Doctor R—, firmly. "I
found this little boy of yours on the street absolutely unable to get
along a step further; and on taking him into the drug store above, and
examining his feet, I found them in a most shocking condition! Why,
sir, in twelve hours mortification would have commenced, when nothing
could have saved his life but the amputation of both limbs." The sober
earnestness of Doctor R—caused Sharp to feel some alarm, and he
"I had no idea, doctor, that he was as bad as that."
"Well, he is, I can assure you, and it is a fortunate thing that I
happened to come across him. Why, I haven't seen so bad a case of
chilblains these ten years."
"What ought I to do for him, doctor?" asked Sharp, in real concern.
"I have done all that is necessary at present," replied the doctor.
"But he must be suffered to have rest; and, as you value his limbs,
don't let him be exposed to the wet or cold until his feet are
healed, and the tenderness and soreness are both gone."
"I shall attend to your direction, most certainly," said Sharp, his
manner greatly changed from what it was when the doctor came in.
"But, really, doctor," he continued, "I had no idea that there was
any danger in getting the feet a little frosted."
"The chilblains are not only extremely painful," replied Doctor
R—, "but there is great danger, where the feet are exposed to wet and
cold, as Henry's must have been to get in the condition they are, of
mortification supervening. That little boy will require great care,
or he will stand a chance of being crippled for life. Good-morning!"
Poor Henry! How eagerly had he hung upon the doctor's words; how
almost agonizing had been his desire for even the slightest
intimation that he was remembered by the physician, to whose mistaken
kind offices he was indebted for the place he held in the family of
Sharp! But all was in vain. A dozen times he was on the eve of asking
for his mother; but, as often, weak timidity held him back. In the
presence of his master, fear kept him dumb. It seemed to him as if
life would go out when he saw Doctor R—turn away from the shop and
enter his carriage. A deep darkness fell upon his spirit.
As Doctor R—rode off in his carriage, he could not help
congratulating himself on the good deed he had performed. Still he
did not feel altogether satisfied about the boy. He had been so much
concerned for his distressed situation, that he had failed to make
any inquiries of him in regard to his friends; and for this he blamed
himself, because it was clear that, if the child had friends they
ought to know his condition. He blamed himself for this
thoughtlessness, and a consciousness of having performed but half of
his duty to the poor boy caused a shade of concern to steal over him,
which he could not shake off.
And Henry, as he stood frightened in the shop, felt, as the
carriage-wheels rattled away, the hope that had awakened faint and
trembling in his heart, sinking into the gloom of despair. One who
could have told him of his mother; one who, if he had only taken the
courage to have mentioned his name, could have taken tidings of his
condition to her, or perhaps would have carried him home, had been
beside him for half an hour, and he had not spoken out. And now he
was gone. He felt so sick and weak that he could hardly stand.
From his sad, waking dreams he was roughly startled by the loud,
sharp voice of his mistress, who, attracted by the strong expressions
of Doctor R—, now entered the shop, exclaiming—
"What's all this? What's that little wretch been doing now, ha?"
"I wish I'd never seen him!" muttered Sharp, but in a tone that
left no doubt on the mind of his wife that something more than usually
annoying had occurred.
"What's the matter? What's he been doing? Not stealing, I hope;
though I shouldn't wonder."
"He's sick, and you've got to take care of him," was the dogged
answer of Sharp.
"Sick! He looks sick, don't he?" The tones of the virago were full
Any eye but hers would have seen sickness, sorrow, suffering, and
want in the pale, frightened face of the poor boy, as he stood
trembling beside the counter, and actually clinging to it for
"Who was that in here, just now?" she added.
"Doctor R—, of Boston," replied the hatter, who knew the doctor by
sight very well.
"What did he want?"
"He picked Henry up in the street and took him over to the drug
store at the corner. Then he brought him home in his carriage. He
says that he must be taken care of, or he will become a cripple; that
it's the worst case of chilblains he ever saw; and that his feet are
in danger of mortification."
"I don't believe a word of it. Here I you go off up-stairs,"
speaking sharply, and with a threatening look to the child. "I'd like
to know what business he has to come here, meddling in affairs that
don't concern him."
Henry, thus spoken to, let go of the counter, by which he was
sustaining himself, and attempted to move toward the door. As he did
so, his face grew deadly pale. He staggered across the shop, fell
against the wall, and then sank down upon the floor. Mrs. Sharp
sprang toward him, not with any humane intention, we are sorry to
say; but, ere she had grasped the boy's arm, and given him the
purposed jerk, the sight of his ashen, lifeless face prevented the
outrage. Exhausted nature could bear nothing more, and protected
herself in a temporary suspension of her power. Henry had fainted,
and it was well that it was so. The fact was a stronger argument in
his favor than any external exhibition of suffering that could have
The hatter and his wife were both alarmed at an event so unexpected
by either of them. Henry was quickly removed to a chamber, and every
effort made to restore him. It was not a very long time before the
machinery of life was again in motion; its action, however, was
feeble, as even his oppressors could see. Self-interest, and fear of
consequences, if not humanity, prompted more consideration for the
boy, and secured for him a few days respite. After that, the
oppressed and his oppressors assumed their old relations.
CHAPTER IX. LIZZY GLENN FINDS IN
MRS. GASTON AN OLD FRIEND.
"I DON'T think I've seen any thing of Lizzy Glenn for a week,"
remarked Berlaps to his man Michael one day during the latter part of
December. "Has she any thing out?"
"Yes. She has four of our finest shirts."
"How long since she took them away?"
"It's over a week—nearly ten days."
"Indeed! Then she ought to be looked after. It certainly hasn't
taken her all this time to make four shirts."
"Well, I don't know. She gets along, somehow, poorly enough,"
replied Michael. "She's often been a whole week making four of them."
While this conversation was going on, the subject of it entered.
She came in with a slow, feeble step, and leaned against the counter
as she laid down the bundle of work she bad brought with her. Her
half-withdrawn vail showed her face to be very pale, and her eyes
much sunken. A deep, jarring cough convulsed her frame for a moment
or two, causing her to place her hand almost involuntarily upon her
breast, as if she suffered pain there.
"It's a good while since you took these shirts out, Lizzy," said
Berlaps, in a tone meant to reprove her for the slowness with which
"Yes, it is," she replied, in a low, sad tone. "I can't get along
very fast. I have a constant pain in my side. And there are other
The last sentence was spoken only half aloud, but sufficiently
distinct for Berlaps to hear it.
"I don't expect my workwomen," he said a little sharply, "to have
any reasons for not finishing my work in good season, and bringing it
in promptly. Ten days to four shirts is unpardonable. You can't earn
your salt at that."
The young woman made no reply to this, but stood with her eyes
drooping to the floor, and her hands leaning hard upon the counter to
Berlaps then commenced examining the shirts. The result of this
examination seemed to soften him a little. No wonder; they were made
fully equal to those for which regular shirt-makers receive from
seventy-five cents to a dollar a piece.
"Don't you think you can make five such as these in a week—or even
six?" he asked, in a somewhat changed tone.
"I'm afraid not," was the reply. "There's a good day's work on each
one of them, and I cannot possibly sit longer than a few hours at a
time. And, besides, there are two or three hours of every day that I
must attend to other duties."
"Well, if you can't I suppose you can't," said the tailor, in a
disappointed, half-offended tone, and turned away from the counter
and walked back to his desk, from which he called out to his
salesman, after he had stood there for about a minute—
"Pay her for them, Michael, and if you have any more ready give her
Since the sharp rebuke given by Mr. Perkins, Michael had treated
Lizzy with less vulgar assurance. Sometimes he would endeavor to
sport a light word with her, but she never replied, nor seemed to
notice his freedom in the least. This uniform, dignified reserve, so
different from the demeanor of most of the girls who worked for them,
coupled with the manner of Perkins's interference for her, inspired in
his mind a feeling of respect for the stranger, which became her
protection from his impertinences. On this occasion, he merely asked
her how many she would have, and on receiving her answer, handed her
the number of shirts she desired.
As she turned to go out, Mrs. Gaston, who had just entered, stood
near, with her eyes fixed upon her. She started as she looked into
her face. Indeed, both looked surprised, excited, then confused, and
let their eyes fall to the floor. They seemed for a moment to have
identified each other, and then to have become instantly conscious
that they were nothing but strangers—that such an identification was
impossible. An audible sigh escaped
Lizzy Glenn, as she passed slowly out and left the store. As she
reached the pavement, she turned and looked back at Mrs. Gaston.
Their eyes again met for an instant.
"Who is that young woman?" asked Mrs. Gaston.
"Her name is Lizzy Glenn," replied Michael.
"Do you know any thing about her?"
"Nothing—only that she's a proud, stiff kind of a creature; though
what she has to be proud of, is more than I can tell."
"How long has she been working for you?"
"A couple of months or so, if I recollect rightly."
"Where does she live?" was Mrs. Gaston's next question.
"Michael gave her the direction, and then their intercourse had
entire reference to business."
After the subject of this brief conversation between Mrs. Gaston
and Michael left the store of Mr. Berlaps, she walked slowly in the
direction of her temporary home, which was, as has before been
mentioned, in an obscure street at the north end. It consisted of a
small room, in an old brick house, which had been made by running a
rough partition through the centre of the front room in the second
story, and then intersecting this partition on one side by another
partition, so as to make three small rooms out of one large one.
These partitions did not reach more than two-thirds of the distance
to the ceiling, thus leaving a free circulation of air in the upper
and unobstructed portion of the room. As the house stood upon a
corner, and contained windows both in front and on the end, each room
had a window. The whole were heated by one large stove. For the little
room that Lizzy Glenn occupied including fire, she paid seventy-five
cents a week. But, as the house was old, the windows open, and the
room that had been cut up into smaller ones a large one; and,
moreover, as the person who let them and supplied fuel for the stove
took good care to see that an undue quantity of this fuel was not
burned she rarely found the temperature of her apartment high enough
to be comfortable. Those who occupied the other two rooms, in each of
which, like her own, was a bed, a couple of chairs, and a table, with
a small looking-glass, were seamstresses, who were compelled, as she
was, to earn a scanty subsistence by working for the slop-shops. But
they could work many more hours than she could, and consequently
earned more money than she was able to do. Her food—the small portion
she consumed—she provided herself, and prepared it at the stove,
which was common property.
On returning from the tailor's, as has been seen, she laid her
bundle of work upon the bed, and seated herself with a thoughtful
air, resting her head upon her hand. The more she thought, the more
she seemed disturbed; and finally arose, and commenced walking the
floor slowly. Suddenly pausing, at length she sighed heavily, and
went to the bed upon which lay her work, took it up, unrolled the
bundle, and seating herself by the table, entered once more upon her
daily toil. But her mind was too much disturbed, from some cause, to
permit her to pursue her work steadily. In a little while she laid
aside the garment upon which she had begun to sew, and, leaning
forward, rested her head upon the table, sighing heavily as she did
so, and pressing one hand hard against her side, as if to relieve
pain. A tap at the door aroused her from this state of abstraction.
As she turned, the door was quietly opened, and the woman she had
seen at the tailor's a short time before, entered. She started to her
feet at this unexpected apparition, and gazed, with a look of
surprise, inquiry, and hope, upon her visitor.
"Can it be Mrs. Gaston? But no! no!" and the young creature shook
her head mournfully.
"Eugenia!" exclaimed Mrs. Gaston, springing forward, and instantly
the two were locked in each other's arms, and clinging together with
"But no, no! It cannot be my own Eugenia," said Mrs. Gaston, slowly
disengaging herself, and holding the young woman from her, while she
read over every feature of her pale, thin face. "Surely I am in a
"Yes, I am your own Eugenia Ballantine! my more than mother! Or,
the wreck of her, which a wave of life's ever restless ocean has
heaved upon the shore."
"Eugenia Ballantine! How can it be! Lost years ago at sea, how can
she be in this room, and in this condition! It is impossible! And yet
you are, you must be, my own dear Eugenia."
"I am! I am!" sobbed the maiden, leaning her head upon the bosom of
Mrs. Gaston, and weeping until tears fell in large drops upon the
"But the sea gives not up its dead," said Mrs. Gaston, in a
doubting, bewildered tone.
"True—but the sea never claimed me as a victim."
"And your father?"
The maiden's face flushed a moment, while a shade of anguish passed
"At another time, I will tell you all. My mind is now too much
agitated and confused. But why do I find you here? And more than all,
why as a poor seamstress, toiling for little more than a crust of
bread and a cup of water? Where is your husband? Where are your
"Three years ago," replied Mrs. Gaston, "we removed to this city.
My husband entered into business, and was unsuccessful. He lost every
thing, and about a year ago died, leaving me destitute. I have
struggled on, since then, the best I could, but to little purpose.
The pittance I have been able to earn at the miserable prices we are
paid by the tailors has scarcely sufficed to keep my children from
starving. But one of them"—and the mother's voice trembled—"my
sweet Ella! was not permitted to remain with me, when I could no
longer provide things comfortable for my little ones. A few short
weeks ago, she was taken away to a better world. It was a hard trial,
but I would not have her back again. And Henry, the dear boy, you
remember—I have been forced to let him go from my side out into the
world. I have neither seen nor heard from him since I parted with him.
Emma alone remains."
Mrs. Gaston's feelings so overcame her at this relation, that she
wept and sobbed for some time.
"But, my dear Eugenia!—my child that I loved so tenderly, and have
so long mourned as lost," she said, at length, drawing her arm
affectionately around Miss Ballantine, "in better and happier times,
we made one household for more than five pleasant years. Let us not
be separated now, when there are clouds over our heads and sorrow on
our paths. Together we shall be able to bear up better and longer
than when separated. I have a room, into which I moved a week since,
that is pleasanter than this. One room, one bed, one fire, and one
light, will do for two as well as one. We shall be better able to
contend with our lot together. Will you come with me, Eugenia?"
"Will I not, Mrs. Gaston? Oh, to be once more with you! To have one
who can love me as you will love me! One to whom I can unburden my
heart—Oh, I shall be too happy!"
And the poor creature hung upon the neck of her maternal friend,
and wept aloud.
"Then come at once," said Mrs. Gaston. "You have nothing to keep
"No, nothing," replied Eugenia.
"I will get some one to take your trunk." And Mrs. Gaston turned
away and left the room. In a little while, she came back with a man,
who removed the trunk to her humble dwelling-place. Thence we will
"And now, my dear Eugenia," said Mrs. Gaston, after they had become
settled down, and their minds had assumed a more even flow, "clear up
to me this strange mystery. Why are you here, and in this destitute
condition? How did you escape death? Tell me all, or I shall still
think myself only in the bewildering mazes of a dream."
CHAPTER X. LIZZY GLENN'S NARRATIVE
TO MRS. GASTON.
WITHOUT venturing the remotest allusion to her parting with her
lover, Miss Ballantine commenced her narrative by saying—
"When I left New York with my father, for New Orleans, no voyage
could have promised fairer. Mild, sunny weather, with good breezes
and a noble ship, that scarcely seemed to feel the deep swell of the
ocean, bore us pleasantly on toward the desired port. But, when only
five days out, an awful calamity befel us. One night I was awakened
from sleep by a terrific crash; and in a little while the startling
cry of 'The ship's on fire!' thrilled upon my ear, and sent an icy
shudder to my heart. I arose from my berth, and put on my clothes
hastily. By this time my father had come, dreadfully agitated, into
the cabin; and while his own lips quivered, and his own voice
trembled, he endeavored to quiet my fears, by telling me that there
was no danger; that the ship had been struck with lightning; but that
the fire occasioned thereby would readily be put out.
"When I ascended to the deck, however, I saw that we had little to
hope for. While the masts and rigging were all enveloped in flame, a
dense smoke was rising from the hold, indicating that the electric
fluid, in its descent through the ship, had come in contact with
something in the cargo that was highly combustible. Passengers and
crew stood looking on with pale, horror-stricken faces. But the
captain, a man of self-possession, aroused all from their lethargy by
ordering, in a loud, clear voice, the masts and rigging to be cut away
instantly. This order was obeyed. Over went, crashing and hissing,
three noble masts, with their wealth of canvas, all enveloped in
flames, quenching the heaven-enkindled fires in the ocean. Then all
was breathless and silent as the grave for some moments, when a broad
flash lit up the air, and revealed, for an instant, the dismantled
deck upon which we stood, followed by a pealing crash that made the
ship tremble. The deep silence that succeeded was broken by the voice
of the captain. His tones were cheerful and confident.
"'All will now be well!' he cried. 'We are saved from fire, and our
good hull will bear us safely up until we meet a passing ship.'
"'But there is fire below, captain,' said one.
"'It cannot burn without air,' he replied, in the same tone of
confidence. 'We will keep the hatches closed and sealed; and it must
"This took a load from my bosom. I saw that what he said was
reasonable. But when daylight came, it showed the smoke oozing out
through every crevice in the deck. The floors, too, were hot to the
feet, and indicated An advanced state of the fire within. All was
again terror and confusion, but our captain still remained
self-possessed. He saw that every hope of saving the ship was gone;
and at once ordered all the boats made ready, and well stored with
provisions. To the first and second mates, with a portion of the
crew, he assigned two of the boats, and in the third and largest he
embarked himself with four stout men and the passengers, twelve in
all. The sky was still overcast with clouds, and the sea rolled
heavily from the effects of the brief but severe storm that had raged
in the night. Pushing off front the doomed vessel, we lingered near
for a couple of hours to see what her fate would be. At the end of
that time, the dense smoke which had nearly hidden her from our view,
suddenly became one enveloping mass of flame. It was a beautiful, yet
appalling sight, to see that noble vessel thus burning upon the breast
of the sea! For nearly an hour her form, sheeted in fire, stood out
distinctly against the face of the sky, and then she went down, and
left only a few charred and mutilated fragments afloat upon the
surface to tell of her doom.
"During the night that followed, it stormed terribly, and in it our
boat was separated from the other two. We never met again, and for
all I have ever learned to the contrary, those that were saved in
them from the burning ship perished from hunger, or were overwhelmed
by some eager wave of the ocean.
"The four men of the ship's crew, with the captain and male
passengers, labored alternately at the oars, but with little effect.
Heavy seas, and continued stormy weather, rendered of little avail
all efforts to make much headway toward any port. Our main hope was
that of meeting with some vessel. But this hope mocked us day after
day. No ship showed her white sails upon the broad expanse of waters
that stretched, far as the eye could reach, in all directions. Thus
ten days passed, and our provisions and water were nearly exhausted.
Three of the passengers had become already very ill, and all of us
were more or less sick from exposure to the rain and sea. On the
twelfth day, two of our number died and were cast overboard. Others
became sick, and by the time we had been floating about thus for the
space of twenty days, only four of the twelve remained. Most of them
died with a raging fever. The captain was among the number, and there
was now no one to whom we could look with confidence. My father still
lived though exceedingly ill. Our companions were now reduced to a
young man and his sister.
"A bag of biscuit still remained, and a small portion of water. Of
this, none but myself could eat. The rest were too sick. Three days
more passed, and I was alone with my father! The brother and his
sister died, and with my own hands I had to consign them to their
grave in the sea. I need not attempt to give any true idea of my
feelings when I found myself thus alone, with my father just on the
brink of death, afar in the midst of the ocean. He was unconscious;
and I felt that I was on the verge of delirium. A strong fever made
the blood rush wildly through my veins, causing my temples to throb
as if they would burst. From about this time consciousness forsook
me. I can recollect little more until I found myself lying in a
berth, on board of a strange vessel. I was feeble as an infant. A
man, with the aspect of a foreigner, sat near me. He spoke to me, but
in a foreign tongue. I understood, and could speak French, Spanish,
and Italian; but I had never studied German, and this man was a
Hollander. Of course, I understood but a word here and there, and not
sufficient to gain any intelligence from what he said, or to make him
comprehend me, except when I asked for my father. Then he understood
me, and pointing across the cabin, gave me to know that my father was
with me in the the ship, though very sick.
"Small portions of nourishing food were now offered at frequent
intervals; and, as my appetite came back keenly, and I took the
scanty supply that was allowed me, I gradually gained strength. In a
week I was able to leave my berth, and to walk, with the assistance
of the captain of the vessel, for he it was whom I had first seen on
the restoration of consciousness, to the state-room in which my
father lay. Oh! how he had changed! I hardly recognized him. His face
had grown long and thin, his eyes were sunken far back in his head,
and his hair, that had been scarcely touched with the frosts of age
when we left New York, was white! He did not know me, although he
looked me feebly in the face. The sound of my voice seemed to rouse
him a little, but he only looked at me with a more earnest gaze, and
then closed his eyes. From this time I was his constant nurse, and was
soon blessed with finding him gradually recovering. But as health came
back to his body, it was too appallingly visible that his reason had
been shattered. He soon came to know me, to speak to me, and to caress
me, with more than his usual fondness; but his mind was—alas! too
evidently—imbecile. As this state of mental alienation showed itself
more and more distinctly, on his gradually acquiring physical
strength, it seemed as if the painful fact would kill me. But we are
formed to endure great extremes of bodily and mental anguish. The bow
will bend far before it breaks.
"After I had recovered so as to leave my berth entirely, and when,
I suppose, the captain thought it would be safe to question me, he
brought a map, and indicated plainly enough that he wished me to
point out the country I was from. I laid my hand upon the United
States. He looked surprised. I glanced around at the ship, and then
pointed to the map with a look of inquiry. He placed his finger near
the Island of St. Helena. It was now my turn to look surprised. By
signs I wished him to tell me how we should get back; and he
indicated, plainly enough, that he would put us on board of the first
vessel he met that was returning either to Europe or the United
States, or else would leave us at the Cape of Good Hope. But day after
day passed, and we met no returning vessel. Before we reached the
Cape, a most terrific storm came on, which continued many days, in
which the ship lost two of her masts, and was driven far south. It
seemed to me as if my father and I had been doomed to perish in the
ocean, and the sea would not, therefore, relinquish its prey. It was
ten or twelve days before the storm had sufficiently abated to leave
the vessel manageable in the hands of the captain and crew, and then
the captain's reckoning was gone. He could get his latitude correctly,
but not his longitude, except by a remote approximation. His first
observation, when the sky gave an opportunity, showed us to be in
latitude forty-five degrees south. This he explained to me, and also
the impracticability of now making the Cape, pointing out upon the map
the Swan River Settlement in Australia as the point he should endeavor
first to make. A heavy ship, with but one mast, made but slow
progress. On the third day another storm overtook us, and we were
driven before the gale at a furious rate. That night our vessel stuck
and went to pieces. Six of us escaped, my father among the rest, and
the captain, in a boat, and were thrown upon the shore of an
uninhabited island. In the morning there lay floating in a little
protected cove of the island barrels of provisions, as pork, fish,
bread, and flour, with chests, and numerous fragments of the ship, and
portions of her cargo. The captain and sailors at once set about
securing all that could possibly be rescued from the water, and
succeeded in getting provisions and clothing enough to last all of us
for many months, if, unfortunately, we should not earlier be relieved
from our dreadful situation. My father had become strong enough to go
about and take care of himself, but his mind was feebler, and he
seemed more like an old man in his second childhood than one in the
prime of life as he was. He was not troublesome to any one, nor was
there any fear of trusting him by himself. He was only like an
imbecile old man—and such even the captain thought him.
"A thing which I failed to mention in its place, I might as well
allude to here. On recovery from that state of physical exhaustion in
which the humane captain of the Dutch East Indiaman had found me, my
hand rested accidentally upon the pocket of my father's coat, which
hung up in the state-room that had been assigned to them. His
pocket-book was there. It instantly occurred to me to examine it, and
see how much money it contained, for I knew that, unless we had money,
before getting back, we would be subjected to inconvenience,
annoyance, and great privation; and as my father seemed to be so weak
in mind, all the care of providing for our comfort, I saw, would
devolve upon me. I instantly removed the pocket-book, which was large.
I found a purse in the same pocket, and took that also. With these I
retired into my own state-room, and fastening the door inside,
commenced an examination of their contents. The purse contained twenty
eagles; and in the apartments of the pocket-book were ten eagles more,
making three hundred dollars in gold. In bank bills there were five of
one thousand dollars each, ten of one hundred dollars, and about two
hundred dollars in smaller amounts, all of New York city banks. These
I took and carefully sewed up in one of my under garments, and also
did the same with the gold. I mention this, as it bears with
importance upon our subsequent history.
"A temporary shelter was erected; a large pole with a white flag
fastened to it, as a signal to any passing vessel, was set up; and
the captain, with two of his men, set out to explore the island. They
were gone for two days. On returning, they reported no inhabitants,
but plenty of good game, if any way could be devised to take it. No
vessel appearing, after the lapse of some twelve or fifteen days, the
men set about building for us a more comfortable place of shelter. One
of these men had been a carpenter, and as an axe and saw, and some few
tools, had come ashore on pieces of the wreck, and in chests, he was
enabled to put up a very comfortable tenement, with an apartment for
me partitioned off from the main room.
"Here we remained for I can scarcely tell how long. It was, I
believe, for about a year and a half; during which time two of the
men died, and our party was reduced to four. About this period, when
all of us began to feel sick from hope deferred, and almost to wish
that we might die, a heavy storm came up, with wind from the
north-west, and blew heavily for three or four days. On the morning
of the fourth day, when the wind had subsided, a vessel, driven out
of her course, was seen within a few leagues of the land. Signals
were instantly made, and our eyes gladdened by the sight of a boat
which was put off from the ship. In this we soon embarked, and, with
a sensation of wild delight, found ourselves once more treading the
deck of a good vessel. She was an English merchantman, bound for
Canton. We made a quick passage to that port, where we found a vessel
just ready to sail for Liverpool. In this I embarked, with my father,
who still remained in the same sad state of mental derangement. No
incident, worthy of referring to now, occurred on our passage to
Liverpool, whence we embarked for New Orleans, at which place we
arrived, after having been absent from our native land for the long
space of nearly three years! How different were my feelings, my hopes,
my heart, on the day I returned to that city eight years from the time
I left it as a gay child, with the world all new and bright and
beautiful before me! I need not draw the contrast. Your own thoughts
can do that vividly enough.
"You can scarcely imagine the eagerness with which I looked forward
to an arrival in my native city. We had friends there, and a fortune,
and I fed my heart with the pleasing hope that skillful physicians
would awaken my father's slumbering reason into renewed and healthy
activity. Arrived there at last, we took lodgings at a hotel, where I
wrote a brief note to my father's partner, in whose hands all the
business had been, of course, during our absence, stating a few facts
as to our long absence and asking him to attend upon us immediately.
After dispatching this note, I waited in almost breathless
expectation, looking every moment to see Mr. Paralette enter. But hour
after hour passed, and no one came. Then I sent notes to two or three
of my father's friends, whom I recollected, but met with no response
during the day. All this strange indifference was incomprehensible to
me. It was, in part, explained to my mind on the next morning, when
one of the persons to whom I had written called, and was shown up into
our parlor by request. There was a coldness and reserve about him,
combined with a too evident suspicion that it was not all as I had
said. That my father was not Mr. Ballantine, nor I his daughter—but
both, in fact, impostors! And certain it is that the white-headed
imbecile old man bore but little resemblance to the fine, manly,
robust form, which my father presented three years before. The visitor
questioned and cross-questioned me; and failed not to hint at what
seemed to him discrepancies, and even impossibilities in my story. I
felt indignant at this; at the same time my heart sank at the suddenly
flashing conviction that, after all our sufferings and long weary
exile from our home, we should find ourselves but strangers in the
land of our birth—be even repulsed from our own homestead.
"Our visitor retired after an interview of about half an hour,
giving me to understand pretty plainly that he thought both my father
and myself impostors. His departure left me faint and sick at heart.
But from this state I aroused myself, after a while, and determined to
go and see Mr. Paralette at once. A servant called a carriage, and I
ordered the driver to take me to the store of Ballantine Paralette.
"'There is no such firm now, madam,' he said; 'Mr. Ballantine was
lost at sea some years ago. It is Paralette Co. now.'
"'Drive me there, then,' I said, in a choking voice.
"In a few minutes the carriage stopped at the place I had
designated, and I entered the store formerly kept by my father.
Though I had been absent for eight years, yet every thing looked
familiar, and nothing more familiar than the face of Mr. Paralette,
my father's partner. I advanced to meet him with a quick step; but
his look of unrecognition, and the instant remembrance that he had
not attended to my note, and moreover that it had been plainly hinted
to me that I was an impostor, made me hesitate, and my whole manner to
"'Eugenia Ballantine is my name,' said I, in a quivering voice. 'I
dropped you a note yesterday, informing you that my father and I had
returned to the city.'
"He looked at me a moment with a calm, severe, scrutinizing gaze,
and then said—
"'Yes, I received your note, and have this moment seen Mr.—, who
called upon you. And he corroborates the instant suspicion I had that
your story could not be correct. He tells me that the man whom you
call your father resembles Moses a great deal more than he does the
late Mr. Ballantine. So you see, madam, that your story won't go for
any thing here.'
"There was something cold and sneering in the tone, manner, and
expression of Mr. Paralette that completely broke me down. I saw, in
an instant, that my case was hopeless, at least for the time. I was a
lone, weak woman, and during an absence of eight years from my native
city, I had grown up from a slender girl into a tall woman, and had,
from suffering and privation, been greatly changed, and my countenance
marred even since I had attained the age of womanhood. Under these
circumstances, with my father changed so that no one could recognize
him, I felt that to make my strange story believed would be
impossible. From the presence of Mr. Paralette I retired, and went
back to the hotel, feeling as if my heart would break. Oh, it was
dreadful to be thus repulsed, and at home, too I tried only twice more
to make my story believed; failing in these efforts, I turned all my
thoughts toward the restoration of my father to mental health,
believing that, when this was done, he, as a man, could resume his own
place and his true position. I had over six thousand dollars of the
money I had taken from my father's pocket-book, and which I had always
kept so completely concealed about my person, that no one had the
least suspicion of it. Five thousand of this I deposited on interest,
and with the residue took a small house in the suburbs of the city,
which I furnished plainly, and removed into it with my father. I then
employed two of the most skillful physicians in the city, and placed
him in their hands, studiously concealing from them our real names and
history. For eighteen months he was under medical treatment, and for
at least six months of that time in a private insane hospital. But all
to no effect. Severe or lenient treatment all ended in the same
result. He continued a simple, harmless old man, fond of me as a child
is of his mother, and looking up to and confiding in me for every
"At the end of the period I have indicated, I found my means had
become reduced to about three thousand dollars. This awoke in my
bosom a new cause of anxiety. If my father should not recover his
reason in two or three years, I would have nothing upon which to
support him, and be compelled to see him taken to some public
institution for the insane, there to be treated without that
tenderness and regard which a daughter can exercise toward her
parent. This fear haunted me terribly.
"It was near the end of the period I have named, that I met with an
account of the Massachusetts Insane Hospital, situated in Charlestown
in this State. I was pleased with the manner in which patients were
represented to be treated, and found that, by investing in Boston the
balance of my little property, the income would be sufficient to pay
for my father's maintenance there. As for myself, I had no fear but
that with my needle, or in some other way, I could easily earn enough
to supply my own limited wants. A long conference with one of the
physicians who had attended my father, raised my hopes greatly as to
the benefits which might result from his being placed in an
institution so well conducted.
"As soon as this idea had become fully formed in my mind, I sold
off all our little stock of furniture, and with the meager supply of
clothing to which I had limited myself, ventured once more to try the
perils of the sea. After a quick passage, we arrived in Boston. My
father I at once had placed in the asylum, after having invested
nearly every dollar I had in bank stock, the dividends from which
were guaranteed to the institution for his support, so long as he
remained one of its inmates. This was early in the last fall. I had
then but a few dollars left, and no income. I was in a strange city,
dependent entirely upon my own resources. And what were they? 'What
am I to do? Where am I to go for employment?' were questions I found
hard indeed to answer. Twenty dollars were all I possessed in the
world; and this sum, at a hotel, would not last me, I knew, over two
or three weeks. I therefore sought out a private boarding-house,
where, under an assumed name, I got a room and my board for two
dollars a week. The woman who kept the boarding-house, and to whom I
communicated my wish to get sewing, gave me half a dozen plain shirts
to make for her husband, for which I received fifty cents each. This
was all the work I obtained during the first two weeks I was in the
house, and it yielded me only three dollars, when my boarding cost me
four. I felt a good deal discouraged after that. I knew no one to whom
I could go for work—and the woman with whom I boarded could not
recommend me to any place, except to the clothing-stores: but they,
she said, paid so badly that she would not advise me to go there, for
I could not earn much over half what it would cost me for my board.
Still, she added, 'half a loaf is better than no bread.' I felt that
there was truth in this last remark, and, therefore, after getting the
direction of a clothing-store, I went there and got a few pairs of
coarse trowsers. This kind of work was new to me. In my ignorance, I
made some portion of them wrong, for which I received abuse from the
owner of the shop, and no money. He was not going, he said, to pay me
for having his work spoiled.
"Dreadfully disheartened, I returned to my lodgings, and set myself
to ponder over some other means of support. I had been, while at
school, one of the best French and Spanish scholars in the seminary.
I had also given great attention to music, and could have taught it
as skillfully as our musical professor. But five years had passed
since I touched the keys of a piano or harp, and I had not, during
that time, spoken a dozen words in any language except my native
tongue. And, even if I had retained all my former skill and
proficiency, my appearance was not such as to guarantee me, as a
perfect stranger, any favorable reception either from private
families or schools. So anxious had I been to make the remnant of my
father's property, which a kind Providence had spared to us, meet our
extreme need, that I denied myself every thing that I could possibly
do without. Having no occasion to go into society, for no one would
recognize me as Eugenia Ballantine, I had paid little regard to my
external appearance, so far as elegant and fashionable apparel was
concerned. I bought sparingly, and chose only plain and cheap
articles. My clothes were, therefore, not of a kind, as you may
yourself see, to give me, so far as they were concerned, a passport to
"As two dollars a week would, I knew, in a very short time, exhaust
my little stock of money, I determined to try and rent a room
somewhere, at the lowest possible rate, and buy my own food. I eat
but a little, and felt sure that, by making this arrangement, I could
subsist on one dollar a week instead of two, and this much it seemed
as if I must be able to earn at something or other. On the day after I
formed this resolution I met, in my walks about the city for the
purpose, with the room where you found me, for which I paid
seventy-five cents a week. There I removed, and managed to live on
about one dollar and a quarter a week, which sum, or, at the worst,
seventy-five cents or a dollar a week, I have since earned at making
fine shirts for Mr. Berlaps at twenty-five cents each. I could have
done better than that, but every day I visit my father, and this
occupies from two to three hours."
"And how is your father?" asked Mrs. Gaston, wiping her tearful
eyes, as Eugenia paused, on ending her narrative.
"He seems calmer, and much more serious and apparently thoughtful
since he has been in this institution," Eugenia replied, with
something of cheerfulness in her tone. "He does not greet my coming,
as he did at first, with childish pleasure, but looks at me gravely,
yet with tenderness, when I enter; and, when I go away, he always
asks if I will 'come again to-morrow.' He did not do this at first."
"But have you not written to Mr. Perkins since your return?" asked
Eugenia became instantly pale and agitated. But recovering herself
with an effort, she simply replied—
"How could I? To him I had, years before, been lost in the sea. I
could not exist in his mind, except as one in the world of spirits.
And how did when I came back, or how do I know now, that he has not
found another to fill that place in his heart which I once occupied?
On this subject I dared make no inquiry. And, even if this were not
the case, I am not as I was. I had fortune and social standing when
he wooed and won me. Now I am in comparative indigence, and branded
as an impostor in my native city. If none recognized and received us
in our own home, how could I expect him to do so? And to have been
spurned as a mere pretender by him would have broken my heart at
Eugenia was greatly moved by this allusion to her former lover and
affianced husband. The subject was one upon which she had never
allowed herself to thinks except compulsorily, and but for a few
moments at a time. She could not bear it. After a silence of some
moments, Mrs. Gaston said—
"I have not met with or heard of Mr. Perkins for some years. He
remained in Troy about six months after you went away, and, during
that period, I saw him very frequently. Your loss seemed, for a time,
as if it would destroy his reason. I never saw any one suffer such
keen mental distress as he did. The fearful uncertainty that hung
around your fate racked his mind with the intensest anguish. At the
end of the time I have mentioned, he went to New York, and, I was
told, left that city a year afterward; but, whether it is so or not, I
never learned. Indeed, I am entirely ignorant as to whether he is now
alive or dead. For years I have neither heard of him nor seen him."
Eugenia wept bitterly when Mrs. Gaston ceased speaking. She did not
reply, but sat for a long time with her hand partly concealing her
face, her whole body trembling nervously, and the tears falling fast
from her eyes. From this excitement and agitation, consequent upon a
reference to the past, she gradually recovered, and then Mrs. Gaston
related, in turn, her trials and afflictions since their separation
so many years before. These we will not now record for the reader,
but hurry on to the conclusion of our narrative.
By a union of their efforts, Mrs. Gaston and Eugenia were enabled,
though to do so required them to toil with unremitting diligence, to
secure more comforts—to say nothing of the mutual strength and
consolation they received from each other—than either could have
possibly obtained alone. The rent of a room, and the expense of an
extra light, were saved, and this was important where every cent had
to be laid out with the most thoughtful economy. Eugenia no longer
went out, except to visit her father. Mrs. Gaston brought home as
much work from the shop as both of them could do, and received the
money for it when it was done, which all went into a common fund.
Thus the time wore on, Eugenia feeling happier than she had felt for
many weary years. Mrs. Gaston had been a mother to her while she
lived in Troy, and Eugenia entertained for her a deep affection.
Their changed lot, hard and painful though it was, drew them closer
together, and united them in a bond of mutual tenderness.
New Year's day at last came, and the mother, who had looked forward
so anxiously for its arrival, that she might see her boy once more,
felt happier in the prospect of meeting him than she had been for a
long time. Since his departure, she had not heard a single word from
him, which caused her to feel painfully anxious. But this day was to
put an end to her mind's prolonged and painful suspense, in regard to
him. From about nine o'clock in the morning, she began to look
momently for his arrival. But the time slowly wore on, and yet he did
not come. Ten, eleven twelve, one o'clock came and went, and the boy
was still absent from his mother, whose heart yearned to see his fair
face, and to hear his voice, so pleasant to her ear, with unutterable
longings. But still the hours went by—two, three, four, and then the
dusky twilight began to fall, bringing with it the heart-aching
assurance that her boy would not come home. The tears, which she had
restrained all day, now flowed freely, and her over-excited feelings
gave way to a gush of bitter grief. The next day came and went, and
the next, and the next—but there was no word from Henry. And thus the
days followed each other, until the severe month of January passed
away. So anxious and excited did the poor mother now become, that she
could remain passive no longer. She must see or hear from her child.
Doctor R—had obtained him his place, and to him she repaired.
"But haven't you seen your little boy since he went to Lexington?"
the doctor asked, in some surprise.
"Indeed, I have not; and Mr. Sharp promised to bring him home on
New Year's day," replied the mother.
"Mr. Sharp! Mr. Sharp!" ejaculated the doctor, thoughtfully. "Is
that the name of the man who has your son?"
"Yes, sir. That is his name."
Doctor R—arose and took two or three turns across the floor at
this, and, then resuming his seat, said—
"You shall see your son to-morrow, Mrs. Gaston. I will myself go to
Lexington and bring him home. I had no idea that the man had not kept
his promise with you. And, as I got Henry the place, I must see that
his master is as good as his word in regard to him."
With this assurance, Mrs. Gaston returned home, and with a lighter
CHAPTER XI. PERKINS ANXIOUSLY SEEKS
ONE Morning, a few days after the young man named Perkins had
related to his friend the history of his attachment to Miss
Ballantine and his subsequent bereavement, he opened a letter which
came by mail, among several relating to business, postmarked New
Orleans. It was from an old friend, who had settled there. Among
other matters, was this paragraph:—
"I heard something the other day that surprised me a good deal,
and, as it relates to a subject in which no one can feel a deeper
interest than yourself, I have thought it right to mention it. It is
said that, about a year and a half ago, a young woman and her father
suddenly made their appearance here, and claimed to be Mr. and Miss
Ballantine. Their story, or rather the story of the daughter (for the
father, it is, said, was out of his mind), was that the ship in which
they sailed from New York had been burned at sea, and that a few of
the passengers had been saved in a boat, which floated about until all
died but herself and father; that they were taken up almost exhausted,
by a Dutch East Indiaman, and that this vessel when near the Cape of
Good Hope, encountered a gale, and was blown far off south, losing two
of her masts; and that she was finally wrecked upon an uninhabited
island, and the few saved from her compelled to remain there for
nearly two years before being discovered and taken off. This story was
not believed. Mr. Paralette, it is said, who has retained possession
of all Mr. Ballantine's property since his absence, was waited upon by
the young woman; but he repulsed her as an impostor, and refused to
make the least investigation into her case. He had his own reasons for
this, it is also said. Several of Mr. Ballantine's old friends
received notes from her; but none believed her story, especially as
the man she called her father bore little or no resemblance to Mr.
Ballantine. But it is now said, by many, that loss of reason and
great physical suffering had changed him, as these would change any
man. Discouraged, disheartened, and dismayed at the unexpected
repulse she met, it is supposed by some, who now begin to half
believe the story, that she died in despair. Others say that the same
young woman who called upon Mr. Paralette has occasionally been seen
here; And it is also said that two of our most eminent physicians were
engaged by a young woman, about whom there was to them something
singular and inexplicable, for nearly a year and a half to attend her
father, who was out of his mind, but that they failed to give him any
relief. These things are now causing a good deal of talk here in
private circles, and I have thought it best to make you aware of the
From that time until the cars left for New York, Perkins was in a
state of strong inward excitement. Hurriedly arranging his business
for an absence of some weeks, he started for the South late in the
afternoon, without communicating to any one the real cause of his
sudden movement. After an anxious journey of nearly two weeks, he
arrived in New Orleans, and called immediately upon Mr. Paralette,
and stated the rumor he had heard. That gentleman seemed greatly
surprised, and even startled at the earnestness of the young man, and
more particularly so when he learned precisely the relation in which
he stood to the daughter of Mr. Ballantine.
"I remember the fact," was his reply. "But then, the young woman
was, of course, a mere pretender."
"But how do you know?" urged Mr. Perkins. "Did you take any steps
to ascertain the truth of her story?"
"Of course not. Why should I? An old friend of her father's called
upon them at the hotel, and saw the man that was attempted to be put
off by an artful girl as Mr. Ballantine. But he said the man bore no
kind of resemblance to that person. He was old and white-headed. He
was in his dotage—a simple old fool—passive in the hands of a
"Did you see him?"
"Strange that you should not!" Perkins replied, looking the man
steadily in the face. "Bearing the relation that you did to Mr.
Ballantine, it might be supposed that you would have been the first
to see the man, and the most active to ascertain the truth or falsity
of the story."
"I do not permit any one to question me in regard to my conduct,"
Mr. Paralette said, in an offended tone, turning from the excited
Perkins saw that he had gone too far, and endeavored to modify and
apologize: but the merchant repulsed him, and refused to answer any
more questions, or to hold any further conversation with him on the
The next step taken by the young man was to seek out his friend,
and learn from him all the particular rumors on the subject, and who
would be most likely to put him in the way of tracing the individuals
he was in search of. But he found, when he got fairly started on the
business for which he had come to New Orleans, that he met with but
little encouragement. Some shrugged their shoulders, some smiled in
his face, and nearly every one treated the matter with a degree of
indifference. Many had heard that a person claiming to be Miss
Ballantine had sent notes to a few of Mr. Ballantine's old friends
about two years previous; but no one seemed to have the least doubt of
her being an impostor. A week passed in fruitless efforts to awaken
any interest, or to create the slightest disposition to inquiry among
Mr. B.'s old friends. The story told by the young woman they
considered as too improbable to bear upon its face the least
appearance of truth.
"Why," was the unanswerable argument of many, "has nothing been
heard of the matter since? If that girl had really been Miss
Ballantine, and that simple old man her father, do you think we
should have heard no more on the subject? The imposition was
immediately detected, and the whole matter quashed at once."
Failing to create any interest in the minds of those he had
supposed would have been most eager to prosecute inquiry, but led on
by desperate hope, Perkins had an advertisement inserted in all the
city papers, asking the individuals who had presented themselves some
eighteen months before as Mr. Ballantine and his daughter, to call
upon him at his rooms in the hotel. A week passed, but no one
responded to the call. He then tried to ascertain the names of the
physicians who, it was said, had attended an old man for imbecility
of mind, at the request of a daughter who seemed most deeply devoted
to him. In this he at length proved successful.
"I did attend such a case," was at last replied to his oft-repeated
"Then, my dear sir," said Perkins, in a deeply excited voice, "tell
me where they are."
"That, my young friend, is, really out of my power," returned the
physician. "It is some time since I visited them."
"What was their name?" asked the young man.
"Glenn, if I recollect rightly."
"Glenn! Glenn!" said Perkins, starting, and then pausing to think.
"Was the daughter a tall, pale, slender girl, with light brown hair?"
"She was. And though living in the greatest seclusion was a woman
of refinement and education."
"You can direct me, of course, to the house where they live?"
"I can. But you will not, I presume, find them there. The daughter,
when I last saw her, said that she had resolved on taking her father
on to Boston, in order to try the effects of the discipline of the
Massachusetts Insane Hospital upon him, of which she had seen a very
favorable report. I encouraged her to go, and my impression is that
she is already at the North."
"Glenn! Glenn!" said Perkins, half aloud, and musingly, as the
doctor ceased. "Yes! it must be, it is the same! She was often seen
visiting Charlestown, and going in the direction of the hospitals.
Yes! yes! It must be she!"
Waiting only long enough in New Orleans to satisfy himself that the
persons alluded to by the physician had actually removed from the
place where they resided some months before, and with the declared
intention of going North, Perkins started home by the quickest route
from New Orleans to the North. It was about the middle of February
when he arrived in Boston. Among the first he met was Milford, to
whom he had written from New Orleans a full account of the reason of
his visiting that place so suddenly, and of his failure to discover
the persons of whom he was in search.
"My dear friend, I am glad to see you back!" said Milford,
earnestly, as he grasped the hand of Perkins. "I wrote you a week
ago, but, of course, that letter has not been received, and you are
doubtless in ignorance of what has come to my knowledge within the
last few days."
"Tell me, quickly, what you mean!" said Perkins, grasping the arm
of his friend.
"Be calm, and I will tell you," replied Milford. "About a week ago
I learned, by almost an accident, from the transfer clerk in the bank,
that the young woman whom we knew as Lizzy Glenn had, early in the
fall, come to the bank with certificates of stock, and had them
transferred to the Massachusetts Insane Hospital, to be held by that
institution so long as one Hubert Ballantine remained an inmate of
"Well?" eagerly gasped Perkins.
"I know no more. It is for you to act in the matter; I could not."
Without a moment's delay, Perkins procured a vehicle, and in a
little while was at the door of the institution.
"Is there a Mr. Ballantine in the asylum?" he asked, in breathless
eagerness, of one of the attendants who answered his summons.
"No, sir," was the reply.
"But," said Perkins in a choking voice, "I have been told that
there was a man here by that name."
"So there was. But he left here about five days ago, perfectly
restored to reason."
Perkins leaned for a moment or two against the wall to support
himself. His knees bent under him. Then he asked in an agitated
"Is he in Boston?"
"I do not know. He was from the South, and his daughter has, in all
probability, taken him home."
"Where did they go when they left here?"
But the attendant could not tell. Nor did any one in the
institution know. The daughter had never told her place of residence.
Excited beyond measure, Perkins returned to Boston, and went to see
Berlaps. From him he could learn nothing. It was two months or so
since she had been there for work. Michael was then referred to; he
knew nothing, but he had a suspicion that Mrs. Gaston got work for
"Mrs Gaston!" exclaimed Perkins, with a look of astonishment. "Who
is Mrs. Gaston?"
"She is one of our seamstresses," replied Berlaps.
"Where does she live?"
The direction was given, and the young man hurried to the place.
But the bird had flown. Five or six days before, she had gone away in
a carriage with a young lady who had been living with her, so it was
said, and no one could tell what had become of her or her children.
Confused, perplexed, anxious, and excited, Perkins turned away and
walked slowly home, to give himself time to reflect. His first fear
was that Eugenia and her father, for he had now no doubt of their
being the real actors in this drama, had really departed for New
Orleans. The name of Mrs. Gaston, as being in association with the
young woman calling herself Lizzy Glenn, expelled from his mind every
doubt. That was the name of the friend in Troy with whom Eugenia had
lived while there. It was some years since he had visited or heard
particularly from Troy, and therefore this was the first intimation he
had that Mrs. Gaston had removed form there, or that her situation had
become so desperate as the fact of her working for Berlaps would
CHAPTER XII. PERKINS FINDS IN LIZZY
GLENN HIS LONG LOST EUGENIA.
AFTER Eugenia Ballantine, for she it really was, had removed to the
humble abode of Mrs. Gaston, her mind was comparatively more at ease
than it yet had been. In the tenderly manifested affection of one who
had been a mother to her in former, happier years, she found something
upon which to lean her bruised and wearied spirits. Thus far, she had
been compelled to bear up alone—now there was an ear open to her, and
her overburdened heart found relief in sympathy. There was a bosom
upon which she could lean her aching head, and find a brief but
blessed repose. Toward the end of January, her father's symptoms
changed rapidly, indicating one day more alarming features than ever,
and the next presenting an encouraging aspect. The consequence was,
that the mind of Eugenia became greatly agitated. Every day she
repaired to the Asylum, with a heart trembling between hope and fear,
to return sometimes with feelings of elation, and sometimes deeply
On the day after Dr. R—had promised to go to Lexington to look
after Mrs. Gaston's little boy, the mother's anxious desire to see
her child, from whom she had heard not a word for nearly three
months, became so strong that she could with difficulty compose
herself so far as to continue her regular employments. She counted
the hours as they slowly wore away, thinking that the moment would
never come when her eyes should rest upon her dear boy. As the doctor
had not said at what hour he would return from Lexington, there was no
period in the day upon which she could fix her mind as that in which
she might expect to see her child; but she assumed that it would not
be until the after part of the day, and forward to that time she
endeavored to carry her expectations.
When Doctor R—parted with her, as has been seen, on the day
previous, he was exquisitely pained under the conviction that the
child he had met with in Lexington in so deplorable a condition was
none other than the son of Mrs. Gaston, who had been put out to Mr.
Sharp at his instance. Hastily visiting a few patients that required
immediate attention, he, very soon after parting with Mrs. Gaston,
started in a sleigh for the town in which Henry had been apprenticed.
On his arrival there, and before he had proceeded far along the main
street, he observed the child he had before met, toiling along under a
heavy burden. His clothes were soiled and ragged, and his hands and
face dirty—indeed, he presented an appearance little or nothing
improved from what it was a short time before. Driving close up to the
side-walk upon which the boy was staggering along under his heavy
load, he reined up his horses, and called out, as he did so—
The lad stopped instantly, and turned toward him, recognizing him
as he did so.
"Don't you want to see your mother, Henry?" asked the doctor.
The bundle under which he was toiling fell to the ground, and he
stood in mute surprise for a moment or two.
"What is your name?" Doctor R—asked.
"Henry Gaston," replied the child.
"Then jump in here, Henry, and I will take you to see your mother."
The boy took two or three quick steps toward the doctor, and then
stopped suddenly and looked back at the load which had just fallen
from his shoulders.
"Never mind that. Let Mr. Sharp look after it," said Doctor R—.
"But he will—," and Henry hesitated.
"Jump in, quick, my little fellow; and say good-bye in your heart
to Mr. Sharp! You shall never go back there again."
The child sprang eagerly forward at this, and clambered into Doctor
R—'s sleigh. A word to the horses, and away they were bounding
toward Boston. When Doctor R—arrived there, his mind was made up, as
it had been, indeed, before he started, not to take Henry home to his
mother that day. He saw that it would be too cruel to present the
child to her in the condition he was; and, besides, he felt that,
after having procured for him the situation, he could not look the
mother in the face with her abused child in all the deformity of his
condition before them. He, therefore, took Henry to his own home; had
him well washed, and dressed in a suit of comfortable clothing. The
change produced in him was wonderful. The repulsive-looking object
became an interesting boy; though with a pale, thin face, and a
subdued, fearful look. He was very anxious to see his mother; but
Doctor R—, desirous of making as great a change in the child's
appearance and manner as possible, kept him at his house all night,
and until the afternoon of the next day. Then he took him to his
eagerly expectant mother.
Mrs. Gaston had waited and waited with all the patience and
fortitude she could summon, hour after hour, (sic) antil the
afternoon had advanced far toward evening. So anxious and restless
had she now become, that she could no longer sit at her work. She had
been standing at the window looking out and watching each approaching
vehicle for some time, until she felt sick from constantly awakening
hope subsiding in disappointment, when she turned away, and, seating
herself by the bed, buried her face despondingly in the pillow. She
had been sitting thus only a minute or two, when a slight noise at the
door caused her to lift her head and turn in that direction. There
stood a boy, with his eyes fixed upon her. For an instant she did not
know him. Suffering, and privation, and cruel treatment had so changed
him, even after all the doctor's efforts to eradicate their sad
effects, that the mother did not at first recognize her own child,
until his plaintive voice, uttering her name, fell upon her ear. A
moment more, and he was in her arms, and held tightly to her bosom.
Her feelings we will not attempt to describe, when he related in his
own artless and pathetic manner, all and more than the reader knows in
regard to his treatment at Mr. Sharp's, too sadly confirmed by the
change im the whole expression of his face.
While her mind was yet excited with mingled feelings of joy and
pain, Eugenia came in from her regular visit to her father. Her step
was quicker, her countenance more cheerful and full of hope.
"Oh, Mrs. Gaston!" she said, clasping her hands together, "my
father is so much better to-day, and they begin to give me great hopes
of his full restoration. But who is this? Not your little Henry?"
"Yes, this is my poor, dear boy, whom I have gotten back once
more," Mrs. Gaston said, the tears glistening upon her eyelids.
After a few words to, and in relation to Henry, the thoughts of
Eugenia went off again to her father, and she spoke many things in
regard to him, all of which bore a highly encouraging aspect. For the
three or four days succeeding this, Mr. Ballantine showed stronger and
stronger indications of returning reason; his daughter was almost
beside herself with hope and joy.
Earlier than usual, one day about the second week in February, she
went over to the asylum to pay her accustomed visit. She was moving
on, after having entered the building, in the direction of the
apartment occupied by her father, when an attendant stepped up, and
touching her arm in a respectful manner, said—
"This direction, if you please."
There was something in the manner of the attendant that seemed to
Eugenia a little mysterious, but she followed as he led the way. He
soon paused at the door of an apartment, and half whispering in her
"Your father is in this room."
Eugenia entered alone. Her father was standing near the fire in an
attitude of deep thought. He lifted his eyes as she entered, and
looked her inquiringly in the face for some moments. She saw in an
instant that he was greatly changed—that reason had, in fact, again
assumed her sway over the empire of his mind.
"My dear, dear father!" she instantly exclaimed, springing toward
"Eugenia! Eugenia!" he ejaculated, in turn, as he held her from him
for a moment or two. "Can this be my own Eugenia? Surely we are both
dreaming! But it is! It is!" and he drew her to his bosom, and held
her there in a long-strained embrace.
"But what does all this mean, my dear child? Why are we here? What
place is it? Why am I so unlike myself that I doubt my own identity?
Why am I so changed? Surely! surely! I am not Hubert Ballantine!"
"Be composed, dear father!" said Eugenia, with an instinctive
feeling of concern. "We will go from here at once, and then we will
talk over all that seems strange to you now."
As she said this, Eugenia pulled a bell, and requested the
attendant who answered to call the principal of the institution. He
came immediately, and she had a brief interview with him in regard to
the propriety of removing her father instantly. He acquiesced, and
ordered a carriage to be brought to the door. In this she entered
with him, and directed the driver to take them to the Tremont House
in Boston. There handsome rooms were ordered, and every effort was
made by her to cause external circumstances to assume a character
similar to what he had been accustomed to in former years. But her
own appearance—her plain, worn, meagre garments, and above all, her
changed face, so pale, so thin, so careworn, so marred by years of
intense suffering—sadly perplexed him. Still he had a faint glimpse
of the truth, and as his mind's eye turned intently toward the point
from whence light seemed to come, he more than suspected the real
facts in the case—at least the leading fact, that he had been out of
his mind for a long time. He could remember distinctly the burning of
the vessel at sea, and also the days and nights of suffering which
were spent in open boats after leaving the vessel. But all from that
time was dim and incoherent, like the vagaries of a dream.
After satisfying her father's mind, as far as she dared do so at
once, in regard to the real position in which he suddenly found
himself placed, she left him, and going to the proper representative
of the asylum, procured a transfer of the stock held for the support
of Mr. Ballantine, and then placed the certificates in the hands of
an agent for sale, procuring from him at the same time an advance of
one hundred dollars for immediate use. This was all accomplished in
the course of a couple of hours. After this arrangement, she paid
Mrs. Gaston a hurried visit—explained the happy change in her
father's state of mind, and promising to see her again in a little
while; had her trunk sent to the hotel, to which she herself
returned, after having purchased various articles of clothing. When
she next saw her father, her external appearance was greatly changed.
This seemed to afford him real pleasure.
The next two or three days she spent in gradually unfolding to him
the whole history of the past five years. At every step of her
progress in this she trembled for the result—like one traversing a
narrow, unknown, and dangerous passage in the dark. But on the third
day, after nearly every thing had been told, she began to feel
confidence that all would be well. The agitation and strong
indignation exhibited when she related the treatment she had received
in New Orleans, especially from Mr. Paralette, alarmed her greatly.
But this gave way to a calm and rational consideration of the right
course to be pursued to prove his identity and claim his property, to
do which he was well aware would not be attended with any real
difficulty, especially as with the return of reason had come back a
distinct recollection of every particular connected with his business
and property in New Orleans.
In the mean time, Mrs. Gaston was looked after, and temporary
arrangements made for her comfort. As soon as Mr. Ballantine fully
understood the position of things in New Orleans, he insisted upon an
immediate return to that city, which Eugenia did not oppose.
Preparations were therefore made for their early departure, and
completed in a very short time.
It was nearly four o'clock on the afternoon of the day fixed for
their departure, and when they were about leaving for the cars, that
a servant came to the door of their parlor and said that a gentleman
wished to see Mr. Ballantine. The servant was requested to ask him to
walk up. Eugenia was in the parlor, and could not but feel surprised
that any one in Boston should wish to see her father. She waited,
therefore, to see who the individual was. He soon made his
appearance—entering without speaking, and advancing toward her with
his eyes fixed intently upon her face.
"William!" she ejaculated, in a quick, low, astonished voice, and
sank instantly upon a chair, pale as ashes, and trembling in every
"Eugenia! Can this be, indeed, my own long-lost Eugenia?" said
Perkins, for it was he, springing eagerly forward and taking the
half-fainting girl in his arms.
It needed no words of explanation from either—no renewal of early
vows—no new pledges of affection—for "Love hath wordless language
all its own, Heard in the heart—-"
"My dear children!" said the father, coming forward, as soon as he
could recall his bewildered senses, and taking both in his arms, "the
long night has at last broken, and the blessed sun has thrown his
first bright beams upon us. Let us look up to HIM who chasteneth his
children for good, and bless him not only for the present joy, but for
past sorrow—it was not sent in anger, but in mercy."
The departure of Mr. Ballantine and Eugenia was deferred for some
days, during which time, at the urgent solicitation of Mr. Perkins,
the nuptial ceremonies, so long delayed, were celebrated. He then
accompanied them to New Orleans, where a summary proceeding restored
to Mr. Ballantine all his property. He did not resume business, but
returned to the North to reside with his daughter and her husband.
Nothing more remains to be said, except that Mrs. Gaston was never
after compelled to work for the slop-shop men. Mr. Perkins and his
lovely wife cared well for her.
THE FATHER'S DREAM.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
WHEN Mr. William Bancroft, after much reflection, determined upon
matrimony, he was receiving, as a clerk, the moderate salary of four
hundred dollars, and there was no immediate prospect of any increase.
He had already waited over three years, in the hope that one or two
hundred dollars per annum would be added to his light income. But, as
this much-desired improvement in his condition did not take place, and
both he and his lady-love grew impatient of delay, it was settled
between them, that, by using strict economy in their expenses, they
could get along very well on four hundred dollars a year.
"If there should be no increase of family," was the mental
exception that forced itself upon Mr. Bancroft, but this he hardly
felt at liberty to suggest; and as it was the only reason he could
urge against the step that was so favorably spoken of by his bride to
be, he could do no less than resolve, with a kind of pleasant
desperation, to take it and let the worst come, if it must come.
Single blessedness had become intolerable. Three years of patient
waiting had made even patience, itself, no longer a virtue.
So the marriage took place. Two comfortable rooms in a very
comfortable house, occupied by a very agreeable family, with the use
of the kitchen, were rented for eighty dollars a year, and, in this
modest style, housekeeping was commenced. Mrs. Bancroft did all her
own work, with the exception of the washing. This was not a very
serious labor—indeed, it was more a pleasure than a toil, for she
was working for the comfort of one she loved.
"Would I not rather do this than live as I have lived for the past
three years?" she would sometimes say to herself, from the very
satisfaction of mind she felt. "Yes, a hundred times!"
A year passed away without any additional income. No! we forget
there has been an income, and a very important one; it consists in
the dearest little babe that ever a mother held tenderly to her
loving breast, or ever a father bent over and looked upon with pride.
Before the appearance of this little stranger, and while his coming
was anxiously looked for, there was a due portion of anxiety felt by
Mr. Bancroft, as to how the additional expense that must come, would
be met. He did not see his way clear. After the babe was born, and he
saw and felt what a treasure he had obtained, he was perfectly
satisfied to make the best of what he had, and try to lop off some
little self-indulgences, for the sake of meeting the new demands that
were to be made upon his purse.
At first, as Mrs. Bancroft had now to have some assistance, and
they had but two rooms, a parlor and chamber adjoining, it was thought
best to look out for a small house; the objection to this was the
additional rent to be paid. After debating the matter, and looking at
it on all sides, for some time, they were relieved from their
difficulty by the offer of the family from which they rented, to let
their girl sleep in one of the garret-rooms, where their own domestic
slept. This met the case exactly. The only increased expense for the
present, on account of the babe, was a dollar a week to a stout girl
of fourteen, and the cost of her boarding, no very serious matter, and
more than met from little curtailments that were easily made. So the
babe was stowed snugly into the little family, without any necessity
for an enlargement of its border. It fit in so nicely that it seemed
as if the place it occupied had just been made for it.
And now Mr. Bancroft felt the home-attraction increasing. His steps
were more briskly taken when he left his desk and turned his back, in
the quiet eventide, upon ledgers and account books.
At the end of another year, Mr. Bancroft found that his expenses
and his salary had just balanced each other. There was no
preponderance any way. Like the manna that fell in the wilderness from
heaven, the supply was equal to the demand. This, however, did not
satisfy him. He had a great desire to get a little ahead. In the three
years preceding his marriage, he had saved enough to buy the furniture
with which they were enabled to go to housekeeping, in a small way;
but, since then, it took every dollar to meet their wants.
"In case of sickness and the running up of a large doctor's bill,
what should I do?" he would sometimes ask himself, anxiously; "or,
suppose I were thrown out of employment?"
These questions always made him feel serious. The prospect of a
still further increase in his family caused him to be really
"It is just as much as I can now do to make both ends meet," he
would say, despondingly, and sometimes give utterance to such
expressions even in the presence of his wife. Mrs. Bancroft was not a
woman very deeply read in the prevailing philosophies of the day; but
she had a simple mode of reasoning, or rather of concluding, on most
subjects that came up for her special consideration. On this matter,
in particular, so perplexing to her husband, her very satisfactory
solution to the difficulty, was this—
"He that sends mouths, will be sure to send something to fill
There was, in this trite and homely mode of settling the matter,
something conclusive, for the time, even to Mr. Bancroft. But doubt,
distrust and fear, were his besetting sins, and in a little while,
would come back to disturb his mind, and throw a shadow even over the
sweet delights of home.
"If there was to be no more increase of family, we could do very
well," he would often say to himself; "but how we are to manage with
another baby, is more than I am able to see."
But all this trouble upon interest availed not. The baby came, and
was received with the delight such visits always produce, even where
there is already a house full of children. A crib for little Flora,
who was now two years old, and able to amuse herself, with occasional
aid from her mother and Nancy, the stout girl, who had in two years,
grown stouter and more useful, was all the change the coming of the
little stranger, already as warmly welcomed as the oldest and dearest
friend could be, produced in the household arrangements of Mr.
Bancroft. But sundry expenses attendant upon the arrival and previous
preparations therefor, drew rather heavier than usual upon his income,
and made the supply fall something short of the demand. At this point
in his affairs, a vacancy occurred in an insurance office, and Mr.
Bancroft applied for and obtained the clerkship. The salary was seven
hundred dollars a year. All was now bright again. In the course of a
few months, it was thought best for them to rent the whole of a
moderate-sized house, as they really needed more room, for health,
than they now had; besides, it would be much pleasanter to live alone.
For an annual rent of one hundred and fifty dollars, they suited
themselves very well. They waited, until the additional salary gave
them the means of increasing their furniture in those particulars
required, and then made the change. The second comer was a boy, and
they had him christened William. As year after year was added to his
young life, he grew into a gentle, fair-haired, sweet-tempered child,
whose place upon his father's knee was never yielded even to his
sister, on any occasion. His ear was first to catch the sound of his
father's approaching footsteps, and his voice the first to herald his
coming. This out-going of affection toward him, caused Mr. Bancroft to
feel for little "Willy," as he was called, a peculiar tenderness, and
gave to his voice a tone of music more pleasant than sounds struck
from the sweetest instruments.
Year after year came and went, in ever varying succession, adding,
every now and then, another and another to the number of Mr.
Bancroft's household treasures. For these, he was not always as
thankful as he should have been; and more than once, in anticipation
of blessings in this line, was known to say something, in a murmuring
way, about being "blessed to death." And yet for Flora, and William,
and Mary, and Kate, and even Harry, the last and least, he had a place
in his heart, and all lay there without crowding or jostling each
other. The great trouble was, what he was to do with them all. How are
they to be supported and educated? True, his salary had been increased
until it was a thousand dollars, which was as much as he could expect
to receive. On this he was getting along very well, that is, making
both ends meet at the expiration of each year. But the children were
getting older all the time, and would soon be more expense to him; and
then there was no telling how many more were still to come. They had
been dropping in, one after another, ever since his marriage, without
so much as saying "By your leave, sir!" and how long was this to
continue, was a question much more easily asked than answered.
Sometimes he made light of the subject, and jested with his wife about
her "ten daughters;" but it was rather an unrelishable jest, and never
was given with a heartiness that made it awaken more than a smile upon
the gentle face of his excellent partner.
We will let five or six years more pass, and then bring our friend,
Mr. Bancroft, again before the reader. Flora has grown into a tall
girl of fifteen, who is still going to school. William, now a youth
of thirteen, is a lad of great promise. His mind is rapidly opening,
and is evidently one of great natural force. His father has procured
for him the very best teachers, and is determined to give him all the
advantages in his power to bestow. Mary and Kate are two sprightly
girls, near the respective ages of eight and eleven; and Harry, a
quiet, innocent-minded, loving child, is in his sixth year. There is
another still, a little giddy, dancing elf, named Lizzy, whose voice,
except during the brief periods of sleep, rings through the house all
day. And yet another, who has just come, that the home of Mr. Bancroft
may not be without earth's purest form of innocence—a newborn babe.
To feed, clothe, educate, and find house-room for several children,
was more than the father could well do on a thousand dollars a year.
But this was not required. During the five or six years that have
elapsed, he has passed from the insurance office into a banking
institution as book-keeper, at a salary of twelve hundred dollars,
thence to the receiving teller's place, which he now holds at fifteen
hundred dollars a year. As his means have gradually increased, his
style of living has altered. From a house for which he paid the annual
rent of one hundred and fifty dollars, he now resides in one much
larger and more comfortable, for which three hundred dollars are paid.
This was the aspect of affairs when the seventh child came in its
helpless innocence to ask his love.
One evening, after the mother was about again, Mr. Bancroft, as
soon as the children were in bed, and he was entirely alone with his
wife, gave way to a rather stronger expression than usual, of the
doubt, fear and anxiety with which he was too often beset.
"I really don't see how we are ever to get through with the
education of all these children, Mary," he remarked with a sigh, "I'm
sure it can't be done with my salary. It takes every cent of it now,
and in a little while it must cost us more than it does at present."
"We've always got along very well, William," replied the wife. "As
our family has increased our means have increased, and I have no
doubt will continue to increase, if the wants of our children require
us to have a larger income than we enjoy at present."
"I don't know—I'm not sure of that. It was more by good fortune
than any thing else that I succeeded in obtaining better employment
than I had when we were married. Suppose my salary had continued to
be only four hundred dollars, what would we have done?"
"But it didn't continue at four hundred dollars, William."
"It might though—think of that. It was by the merest good luck in
the world that I got into the insurance office—there we're two or
three dozen applicants, and the gaining of the place by me was mere
chance work. If I hadn't been in the insurance office for so many
years, and by that means become acquainted with most of the directors
of the bank, I never would have attained my present comfortable place.
It makes me sick when I think of the miserable plight we would now be
in, if that piece of good fortune had not accidentally befallen me."
"Don't say accidentally," returned the wife, in a gentle tone, "say
providentially. He who sent us children, sent with them the means for
their support. It isn't luck, dear, it is Providence."
"It may be, but I can't understand it," returned Mr. Bancroft,
doubtingly. "To me it is all luck."
After this remark, he was silent for some time. Then he said, with
a tone made cheerful by the thought he expressed,
"How pleasantly we would be getting along if our family were no
larger than it was when I had only four hundred dollars income. How
easy it would be to lay up a thousand dollars every year. Let me see,
we have been married over sixteen years. Just think what a handsome
little property we would have by this time—sixteen thousand dollars.
As it is, we haven't sixteen thousand cents, and no likelihood of ever
getting a farthing ahead. It is right down discouraging."
The semi-cheerful tone in which Mr. Bancroft had commenced
speaking, died away in the last brief sentence.
"Two or three children are enough for any body to have," he
resumed, half fretfully; "and quite as many as can be well taken care
of. With two or even three, we might be as happy and comfortable as we
could desire. But with seven, and half as many more in prospect, O
dear! It is enough to dishearten any one."
Mrs. Bancroft did not reply, but drew her arm tighter around the
babe that lay asleep upon her breast. Her mind wandered over the
seven jewels that were to her so precious, and she asked herself
which of them she could part with; or if there was an earthly good
more to be desired than the love of these dear children.
Mr. Bancroft had very little more to say that evening, but his
state of mind did not improve. He was dissatisfied because his income,
ten years before, when his expenses were less, was not as good as it
was now, and looked ahead with, a troubled feeling at the prospect of
a still increasing family, and still increasing expenses, to meet
which he could see no possible way. In this unhappy mood he retired
at an earlier hour than usual, but could not sleep for a long
time—his thoughts were too unquiet. At last, however, he sunk into a
When again conscious, the sun was shining in at the window. His
wife had already risen. He got up, dressed himself, and went down
stairs. Breakfast was already on the table, and his happy little
household assembling. But after all were seated, Mr. Bancroft noticed
a vacant place.
"Where is Flora?" he asked.
A shade passed over the brow of his wife.
"Flora has been quite ill all night," she replied; "I was up with
her for two or three hours."
"Indeed! what is the matter?"
Mr. Bancroft felt a sudden strange alarm take hold of his heart.
"I can't tell," returned the mother. "She has a high fever, and
complains of sore throat."
"Scarlet fever?" ejaculated Mr. Bancroft, pushing aside his
untasted cup of coffee and rising from the table. "I must have the
doctor here immediately. It is raging all around us."
The father hurried from the room, and went in great haste for the
family physician, who promised to make his first call that morning at
When Mr. Bancroft came home from the bank in the afternoon, he
found Flora extremely ill, with every indication of the dreadful
disease he named in the morning. A couple of days reduced doubt to
certainty. It was a case of scarlatina of the worst type. Speedily
did it run its fatal course, and in less than a week from the time
she was attacked, Flora was forever free from all mortal agonies.
This was a terrible blow to the father. It broke him completely
down. The mother bore her sad bereavement with the calmness of a
Christian, yet not without the keenest suffering.
But the visitation did not stop here. Death rarely lays his
withering hand upon one household flower without touching another,
and causing it to droop, wither, and fall to the ground. So it was in
this case. William, the manly, intelligent, promising boy, upon whom
the father had ever looked with love and pride so evenly balanced,
that the preponderance of neither became apparent, was taken with the
same fatal disease and survived his sister only two weeks.
The death of Flora bowed Mr. Bancroft to the ground: that of
William completely prostrated him. He remembered, too distinctly, how
often and how recently he had murmured at the good gift of children
sent him by God, and now he trembled lest all were to be taken from
him, as one unworthy of the high benefactions with which be had been
blessed. How few seemed now the number of his little ones. There were
but five left. The house seemed desolate; he missed Flora every where,
and listened, in vain, for her light step and voice of music. William
was never out of his thoughts.
For weeks and months his heart was full of fear. If Mary, or Kate,
or little Harry looked dull, he was seized with instant alarm. A
slight fever almost set him wild. Scarcely a week passed that the
doctor was not summoned on some pretense or other, and medicine
forced down the throats of the little ones.
This was the aspect of affairs, when, in a time of great fiscal
derangement, the bank in which Mr. Bancroft was clerk suffered a
severe run, which was continued so long that the institution was
forced to close its doors. A commission was appointed to examine into
its affairs. This examination brought to light many irregularities in
the management of the bank, and resulted in a statement which made it
clear that a total suspension and winding-up of the concern must
By this disaster, Mr. Bancroft was thrown out of employment.
Fortunately, the clerk in his old situation in the insurance company
gave up his place very shortly afterward, and Bancroft on
application, was appointed in his stead. The salary was only a
thousand dollars, but he was glad to get that.
So serious a reduction in his income made some reduction in
existing expenses necessary. This was attained, in part, by removing
into a house for which a rent of only two hundred dollars, instead of
three, was paid.
Still the parents trembled for their children, and were filled with
alarm if the slightest indisposition appeared. A few months passed
and again the hand of sickness was laid upon the family of Mr.
Bancroft. Mary and Kate and little Harry were all taken with the
fatal disease that had stricken down Flora and William in the
freshness of youth and beauty. The father, as he bent over his desk
had felt all day an unusual depression of spirits. There was, upon
his mind, a foreshadowing of evil. On leaving the office, rather
earlier than usual, he hurried home with a heart full of anxiety and
fear. His wife opened the door for him. She looked troubled, but was
silent. She went up-stairs quickly—he followed. The chamber they
entered was very still. As he approached the bed, he saw that Mary
and Kate were lying there, and that Harry was in the crib beside
them. Their faces were red, and when he placed his hands upon their
foreheads, he found them hot with fever.
Hopelessly and silently the unhappy man turned from the bed, and
seated himself in a distant corner of the room. The death-mark was
upon his children—did he not recognize the fatal sign? He had
remained thus for only a minute or two, it seemed, when he felt a
hand upon his arm. He looked up; his wife stood beside him, and her
eyes rested steadily in his own. She pointed to the bed and motioned
him to return there. He obeyed with a shrinking heart. No words were
spoken until they were again close to the children; then the mother
said, in a calm, cold, stern voice—
"You murmured at the blessings God gave us, and he is withdrawing
them one by one. When these are gone, it will not cost us over five
hundred dollars to live, and then you can save five hundred a year.
Five hundred dollars for three precious children! But it's the price
you fixed upon them. Kate and Mary and Harry, dear, dear, dear ones!
not for millions of dollars would I part with you!"
A wild cry broke from the lips of the agonized mother, and she fell
forward upon the bed, with a frantic gesture.
The father felt like one freezing into ice. He could not speak nor
move; how long this state remained he knew not. A long, troubled,
dreary period seemed to pass, and then all was clear again. His wife
had risen from the bed, and left the chamber. Little Harry had been
removed from the crib, but Kate and Mary were still on the bed, with
every indication of a violent attack of the same disease that had
robbed them of their two oldest children. He was about leaving the
room for the purpose of inquiring whether a physician had been sent
for, when the door opened and the doctor came in with Mrs. Bancroft.
The stern expression that but lately rested upon the face of the
latter, had passed away. She looked kindly and tenderly into her
husband's face, and even leaned her head against him while the
physician proceeded to examine the children.
But little, if any encouragement was offered to the unhappy
parents. The incipiency of the disease gave small room for hope, it
was so like the usual precursor of the direful malady they feared.
Ten days of awful suspense and fear succeeded to this, and then the
worst came. Two happy voices that had, for so many years, echoed
through the familiar places of home, were hushed forever. Kate and
Mary were no more. But, as if satisfied, death passed, and Harry was
Three were now all that remained of the large and happy household;
the babe, whose coming had awakened afresh the murmurings of the
father, and clear little Harry, just snatched, as it were, from the
jaws of death, and the gay, dancing Lizzy, whose voice had, lost much
of its silvery sweetness. Mrs. Bancroft did not again, either by look
or word, repeat or refer to her stunning rebuke. But her husband could
not forget it. In fact, it had awakened his mind to a most distressing
sense of the folly, not to say sin, of which he had been guilty.
In self upbraidings, in the bitterness of grief for which there
came no alleviation, the time passed on, and Mr. Bancroft lived in the
daily fear of receiving a still deeper punishment.
One day, most disastrous intelligence came to the office in which
he was employed. There had been a fierce gale along the whole coast,
and the shipping had suffered severely. The number of wrecks, with
the sacrifice of life, was appalling. Among the vessels lost, were
ten insured in the office. Nothing was saved from then. Five were
large vessels, and the others light crafts. The loss was fifty
thousand dollars. Following immediately upon this, was another loss
of equal amount arising from the failure of a certain large moneyed
institution, in the stock of which the company had invested largely.
In consequence of this serious diminution of the company's funds,
the directors found themselves driven to make sacrifices of property,
and to diminish all expenses.
"We shall have to reduce your salary Mr. Bancroft," said the
president, to him, some weeks after the company had received the
shock just mentioned. "The directors think that five hundred dollars
is as large a salary as they now ought to pay. I am sorry that the
necessity for reduction exists, but it is absolute. Of course we
don't expect you to remain at the diminished compensation. But we
will be obliged to you, if you will give us as much notice as
With a heavy heart did Mr. Bancroft return to the home that seemed
so desolate, when the duties of the day were done. He tried, at
tea-time, to eat his food as usual, and to conceal from his wife the
trouble that was oppressing him. But this was a vain effort. Her eyes
seemed never a moment from his face.
"What is the matter, dear?" she asked, as soon as they had left the
table. "Are you not well?"
"No; I am sick," he replied, sadly.
"Sick?" ejaculated the wife, in alarm.
"Yes, sick at heart."
Mrs. Bancroft sighed deeply.
"My cup is not yet full, Mary," he said, in a bitter tone. "There
is yet more gall and wormwood to be added. We must go back to the two
rooms, and live as we began some sixteen or seventeen years ago. My
salary, from this day, is to be only five hundred dollars. It is
useless to try for a better place—all is ill-luck now. We must go
down, down, down!"
Mrs. Bancroft wept bitterly, but did not reply.
Back to the two rooms they went, but oh! how sad and weary-hearted
they were. It was not with them as when with the first dear pledge of
their love, they drew close together in the small bounds of a chamber
and parlor, and were happy. Why could they not be happy now? They
still had three children, and an income equal to their necessities, if
dispensed with prudent care. They were relieved from a world of labor
and anxiety. No—no—they could not be happy. Their hearts were larger
now, for they had been expanding for years, as objects of love came
one after the other in quick succession; but these objects of love,
with two or three solitary exceptions, had been taken away from them,
and there was silence, vacancy, and desolation in their bosoms.
"My cup is not yet full, Mary." No, it seemed that it was not yet
full, for a few days only had elapsed, after the family had
contracted itself to meet the diminished income, before little Harry
began to droop about. Mr. Bancroft noticed this, but he was afraid to
speak of it, lest the very expression of his fear should produce the
evil dreaded. He came and went to and from his daily tasks with an
oppressive weight ever at his heart. He looked for evil and only evil;
but without the bravery to meet it and bear it like a man.
One night, after having, before retiring to bed, bent long in
anxious solicitude over the child for whom all his fears was aroused,
he was awakened by a cry of anguish from his wife. He started up in
alarm, and sprung upon the floor, exclaiming:
"In Heaven's name, Mary! what is the matter?"
His wife made no answer. She was lying with her face pressed close
to that of little Harry, and both were pale as ashes. The father
placed his hand upon the cheek of his boy, and found it marble cold.
Clasping his hands tightly against his forehead, he staggered
backward and fell; but he did not strike the floor, but seemed
falling, falling, falling from a fearful height. Suddenly he was
conscious that he had been standing on a lofty tower—had missed his
footing, and was now about being dashed to pieces to the earth.
Before reaching the ground, horror overcame him, and he lost, for a
moment, his sense of peril.
"Thank God!" was uttered, most fervently, in the next instant.
"For what, dear?" asked Mrs. Bancroft, rising up partly from her
pillow, and looking at her husband with a half-serious, half-laughing
"That little Harry is not dead." And Mr. Bancroft bent over and
fixed his eyes with loving earnestness upon the rosy-cheeked,
Just then there came from the adjoining room a wild burst of
"What's that?" A strange surprise flashed over the face of Mr.
"Kate and Mary are in a gay humor this morning," said the mother.
"But what have you been dreaming about, dear?"
As this question was asked, a strain of music was heard floating up
from the parlor, and the voice of Flora came sweetly warbling a
The father buried his face in the pillow, and wept for joy. He had
awakened from a long, long dream of horror.
From that time Mr. Bancroft became a wiser man. He was no longer a
murmurer, but a thankful recipient of the good gifts sent him by
Providence. His wife bore him, in all, ten children, five of whom
have already attained their majority. He never wanted a loaf of bread
for them, nor anything needful for their comfort and happiness. True,
he did not "get ahead" in the world, that is, did not lay up money;
but One, wiser than he, saw that more than enough would not be good
for him, and, therefore, no efforts that he could make would have
given him more than what was needed for their "daily bread." There was
always enough, but none to spare.
I'LL SEE ABOUT IT.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
MR. EASY sat alone in his counting-room, one afternoon, in a most
comfortable frame, both as regards mind and body. A profitable
speculation in the morning had brought the former into a state of
great complacency, and a good dinner had done all that was required
for the repose of the latter. He was in that delicious, half-asleep,
half-awake condition, which, occurring after dinner, is so very
pleasant. The newspaper, whose pages at first possessed a charm for
his eye, had fallen, with the hand that held it, upon his knee. His
head was gently reclined backward against the top of a high,
leather-cushioned chair; while his eyes, half-opened, saw all things
around him but imperfectly. Just at this time the door was quietly
opened, and a lad of some fifteen or sixteen years, with a pale, thin
face, high forehead, and large dark eyes, entered. He approached the
merchant with a hesitating step, and soon stood directly before him.
Mr. Easy felt disturbed at this intrusion, for so he felt it. He
knew the lad to be the son of a poor widow, who had once seen better
circumstances than those that now surrounded her. Her husband had,
while living, been his intimate friend, and he had promised him at his
dying hour to be the protector and adviser of his wife and children.
He had meant to do all he promised, but not being very fond of
trouble, except where stimulated to activity by the hope of gaining
some good for himself, he had not been as thoughtful in regard to Mrs.
Mayberry as he ought to have been. She was a modest, shrinking,
sensitive woman, and had, notwithstanding her need of a friend and
adviser, never called upon Mr. Easy, or even sent to request him to
act for her in any thing, except once. Her husband had left her poor.
She knew little of the world. She had three quite young children, and
one, the oldest, about sixteen. Had Mr. Easy been true to his pledge,
he might have thrown many a ray upon her dark path, and lightened her
burdened heart of many a doubt and fear. But he had permitted more
than a year to pass since the death of her husband, without having
once called upon her. This neglect had not been intentional. His will
was good but never active at the present moment. "To-morrow," or "next
week," or "very soon," he would call upon Mrs. Mayberry; but
to-morrow, or next week, or very soon, had never yet come.
As for the widow, soon after her husband's death, she found that
poverty was to be added to affliction. A few hundred dollars made up
the sum of all that she received after the settlement of his
business, which had never been in a very prosperous condition. On
this, under the exercise of extreme frugality, she had been enabled
to live for nearly a year. Then the paucity of her little store made
it apparent to her mind that individual exertion was required,
directed toward procuring the means of support for her little family.
Ignorant of the way in which this was to be done, and having no one to
advise her, nearly two months more passed before she could determine
what to do. By that time she had but a few dollars left, and was in a
state of great mental distress and uncertainty. She then applied for
work at some of the shops, and obtained common sewing, but at prices
that could not yield her any thing like a support.
Hiram, her oldest son, had been kept at school up to this period.
But now she had to withdraw him. It was impossible any longer to pay
his tuition fees. He was an intelligent lad—active in mind, and pure
in his moral principles. But like his mother, sensitive, and inclined
to avoid observation. Like her, too, he had a proud independence of
feeling, that made him shrink from asking or accepting a favor, or
putting himself under an obligation to any one. He first became aware
of his mother's true condition, when she took him from school, and
explained the reason for so doing. At once his mind rose into the
determination to do something to aid his mother. He felt a glowing
confidence, arising from the consciousness of strength within. He felt
that he had both the will and the power to act, and to act
"Don't be disheartened mother," he said, with animation. "I can and
will do something. I can help you. You have worked for me a great
many years. Now I will work for you."
Where there is a will, there is a way. But it is often the case,
that the will lacks the kind of intelligence that enables it to find
the right way at once. So it proved in the case of Hiram Mayberry. He
had a strong enough will, but did not know how to bring it into
activity. Good, without its appropriate truth, is impotent. Of this
the poor lad soon became conscious. To the question of his mother—
"What can you do, child?" an answer came not so readily.
"Oh, I can do a great many things," was easily said; but, even in
saying so, a sense of inability followed the first thought of what he
should do, that the declaration awakened.
The will impels, and then the understanding seeks for the means of
effecting the purposes of the will. In the case of young Hiram,
thought followed affection. He pondered for many days over the means
by which he was to aid his mother. But the more he thought, the more
conscious did he become, that in the world, he was a weak boy. That
however strong might be his purpose, his means of action were
limited. His mother could aid him but little. She had but one
suggestion to make, and that was, that he should endeavor to get a
situation in some store or counting-room. This he attempted to do.
Following her direction, he called upon Mr. Easy, who promised to see
about looking him up a situation. It happened, the day after, that a
neighbor spoke to him about a lad for his store—(Mr. Easy had already
forgotten his promise)—Hiram was recommended, and the man called to
see his mother.
"How much salary can you afford to give him?" asked Mrs. Mayberry,
after learning all about the situation, and feeling satisfied that
her son should accept of it.
"Salary, ma'am?" returned the storekeeper, in a tone of surprise.
"We never give a boy any salary for the first year. The knowledge
that is acquired of business is always considered a full
compensation. After the first year, if he likes us, and we like him,
we may give him seventy-five or a hundred dollars."
Poor Mrs. Mayberry's countenance fell immediately.
"I wouldn't think of his going out now, if it were not in the hope
of his earning something," she said, in a disappointed voice.
"How much did you expect him to earn?" was asked by the
"I didn't know exactly what to expect. But I supposed that he might
earn four or five dollars a week."
"Five dollars a week is all we pay our porter an abled-bodied,
industrious man," was returned. "If you wish your son to become
acquainted with mercantile business, you must not expect him to earn
much for three or four years. At a trade you may receive from him
barely a sufficiency to board and clothe him, but nothing more."
This declaration so damped the feelings of the mother that she
could not reply for some moments. At length she said—
"If you will take my boy with the understanding, that, in case I am
not able to support him, or hear of a situation where a salary can be
obtained, you will let him leave your employment without hard
feelings, he shall go into your store at once."
To this the man consented, and Hiram Mayberry went with him
according to agreement. A few weeks passed, and the lad, liking both
the business and his employer, his mother felt exceedingly anxious
for him to remain. But she sadly feared that this could not be. Her
little store was just about exhausted, and the most she had yet been
able to earn by working for the shops, was a dollar and a half a
week. This was not more than sufficient to buy the plainest food for
her little flock. It would not pay rent, nor get clothing. To meet
the former, recourse was had to the sale of her husband's small,
select library. Careful mending kept the younger children tolerably
decent, and by altering for him the clothes left by his father, she
was able to keep Hiram in a suitable condition, to appear at the
store of his employer.
Thus matters went on for several months. Mrs. Mayberry, working
late and early. The natural result was, a gradual failure of strength.
In the morning, when she awoke, she would feel so languid and heavy,
that to rise required a strong effort, and even after she was up, and
attempted to resume her labors, her trembling frame almost refused to
obey the dictates of her will. At length, nature gave way. One morning
she was so sick that she could not rise. Her head throbbed with a
dizzy, blinding pain—her whole body ached, and her skin burned with
fever. Hiram got something for the children to eat, and then taking
the youngest, a little girl about two years old, into the house of a
neighbor, who had showed them some good-will, asked her if she would
take care of his sister until he returned home at dinner time. This
the neighbor readily consented to do—promising, also, to call in
frequently and see his mother.
At dinner-time, Hiram found his mother quite ill. She was no better
at night. For three days the fever raged violently. Then, under the
careful treatment of their old family physician, it was subdued.
After that she gradually recovered, but very slowly. The physician
said she must not attempt again to work as she had done. This
injunction was scarcely necessary. She had not the strength to do so.
"I don't see what you will do, Mrs. Mayberry," a neighbor who had
often aided her by kind advice, said, in reply to the widow's
statement of her unhappy condition. "You cannot maintain these
children, certainly. And I don't see how, in your present feeble
state, you are going to maintain yourself. There is but one thing
that I can advise, and that advice I give with reluctance. It is to
endeavor to get two of your children into some orphan asylum. The
youngest you may be able to keep with you. The oldest can support
himself at something or other."
The pale cheek of Mrs. Mayberry grew paler at this proposition. She
half-sobbed, caught her breath, and looked her adviser with a strange
bewildered stare in the face.
"Oh, no! I cannot do that! I cannot be separated from my dear
little children. Who will care for them like a mother?"
"It is hard, I know, Mrs. Mayberry. But necessity is a stern ruler.
You cannot keep them with you—that is certain. You have not the
strength to provide them with even the coarsest food. In an asylum,
with a kind matron, they will be better off than under any other
But Mrs. Mayberry shook her head.
"No—no—no," she replied—"I cannot think of such a thing. I
cannot be separated from them. I shall soon be able to work
again—better able than before."
The neighbor who felt deeply for her, did not urge the matter. When
Hiram returned at dinner-time, his face had in it a more animated
expression than usual.
"Mother," he said, as soon as he came in, "I heard to-day that a
boy was wanted at the Gazette office, who could write a good hand. The
wages are to be four dollars a week."
"You did!" Mrs. Mayberry said, quickly, her weak frame trembling,
although she struggled hard to be composed.
"Yes. And Mr. Easy is well acquainted with the publisher, and could
get me the place, I am sure."
"Then go and see him at once, Hiram. If you can secure it, all will
be well; if not, your little brothers and sisters will have to be
separated, perhaps sent into an orphan asylum."
Mrs. Mayberry covered her face with her hands, and sobbed bitterly
for some moments.
Hiram eat his frugal meal quickly, and returned to the store, where
he had to remain until his employer went home and dined. On his
return, he asked liberty to be absent for half an hour, which was
granted. He then went direct to the counting-house of Mr. Easy, and
disturbed him, as has been seen. Approaching with a timid step, and a
flushed brow, he said in a confused and hurried manner—
"Mr. Easy, there is a lad wanted at the Gazette Office."
"Well?" returned Mr. Easy, in no very cordial tone.
"Mother thought you would be kind enough to speak to Mr. G—for
"Haven't you a place in a store?"
"Yes, sir. But I don't get any wages. And at the Gazette office
they will pay four dollars a week."
"But the knowledge of business to be gained where you are, will be
worth a great deal more than four dollars a week."
"I know that, sir. But mother is not able to board and clothe me. I
must earn something."
"Oh, aye, that's it. Very well, I'll see about it for you."
"When shall I call, sir?" asked Hiram.
"When? Oh, almost any time. Say to-morrow or next day."
The lad departed, and Mr. Easy's head fell back upon the chair, the
impression which had been made upon his mind passing away almost as
quickly as writing upon water.
With anxious trembling hearts, did Mrs. Mayberry and her son wait
for the afternoon of the succeeding day. On the success of Mr. Easy's
application rested all their hopes. Neither she nor Hiram eat over a
few mouthfuls at dinner-time. The latter hurried away, and returned to
the store, there to wait with trembling eagerness, until his employer
should return from dinner, and he again be free to go and see Mr.
To Mrs. Mayberry, the afternoon passed slowly.
She had forgotten to tell her son to return home immediately, if
the application should be successful. He did not come back, and she
had, consequently to remain in a state of anxious suspense, until
dark. He came in at the usual hour. His dejected countenance told of
"Did you see Mr. Easy?" Mrs. Mayberry asked, in a low, troubled
"Yes. But he hadn't been to the Gazette office. He said he had been
very busy. But that he would see about it soon."
Nothing more was said. The mother and son, after sitting silent and
pensive during the evening, retired early to bed. On the next day,
urged on by his anxious desire to get the situation of which he had
heard, Hiram again called at the counting-room of Mr. Easy, his heart
trembling with hope and fear. There were two or three men present. Mr.
Easy cast upon him rather an impatient look as he entered. His
appearance had evidently annoyed the merchant. Had he consulted his
feelings, he would have retired at once. But there was too much at
stake. Gliding to a corner of the room, he stood, with his hat in his
hand, and a look of anxiety upon his face, until Mr. Easy was
disengaged. At length, the gentleman with whom he was occupied, went
away, and Mr. Easy turned toward the boy. Hiram looked up earnestly in
"I have really been so much occupied, my lad," the merchant said,
in a kind of apologetic tone, "as to have entirely forgotten my
promise to you. But I will see about it. Come in again,
Hiram made no answer, but turned with a sigh toward the door. The
keen disappointment expressed in the boy's, face, and the touching
quietness of his manner, reached the feelings of Mr. Easy. He was not
a hard-hearted man, but selfishly indifferent to others. He could feel
deeply enough if he would permit himself to do so. But of this latter
feeling he was not often guilty.
"Stop a minute," he said. And then stood in a musing attitude for a
moment or two. "As you seem so anxious about this matter," he added
"if will wait here a little while, I will step down to see Mr. G—at
The boy's face brightened instantly. Mr. Easy saw the effect of
what he said, and it made the task he was about entering upon
reluctantly, an easy one. The boy waited for nearly a quarter of an
hour, so eager to know the result, that he could not compose himself
to sit down. The sound of Mr. Easy's step at the door, at length made
his heart bound. The merchant entered. Hiram looked into his face. One
glance was sufficient to dash every dearly-cherished hope to the
"I am sorry," Mr. Easy said, "but the place was filled this
morning. I was a little too late."
The boy was unable to control his feelings. The disappointment was
too great. Tears gushed from his eyes, as he turned away, and left
the counting-room without speaking.
"I'm afraid I've done wrong," said Mr. Easy to himself, as he
stood, in a musing attitude, by his desk, about five minutes after
Hiram had left. "If I had seen about the situation when he first
called upon me, I might have secured it for him. But it's too late
After saying this, the merchant placed his thumbs in the armholes
of his waistcoat, and commenced walking the floor of his counting-room
backward and forward. He could not get out of his mind, the image of
the boy as he turned from him in tears, nor drive away thoughts of
the friend's widow, whom he had neglected. This state of mind
continued all the afternoon. Its natural effect was to cause him to
cast about in his mind for some way of getting employment for Hiram,
that would yield immediate returns. But nothing presented itself.
"I wonder if I couldn't make room for him here?" he at length
said—"He looks like a bright boy. I know Mr.—is highly pleased with
him. He spoke of getting four dollars a week. That's a good deal to
give to a mere lad. But I suppose I might make him worth that to me.
And now I begin to think seriously about the matter, I believe I
cannot keep a clear conscience, and any longer remain indifferent to
the welfare of my old friend's widow and children. I must look after
them a little more closely than I have heretofore done."
This resolution reliever the mind of Mr. Easy a good deal.
When Hiram left the counting-room of the merchant, his spirits were
crushed to the very earth. He found his way back, how he hardly knew,
to his place of business, and mechanically performed the tasks
allotted to him, until evening. Then he returned home, reluctant to
meet his mother, and yet anxious to relieve her state of suspense,
even if in doing so, he should dash a last hope from her heart. When
he came in, Mrs. Mayberry lifted her eyes to his, inquiringly; but
dropped them instantly—she needed no words to tell her that he had
suffered a bitter disappointment.
"You did not get the place?" she at length said, with forced
"No—it was taken this morning. Mr. Easy promised to see about it.
But he didn't do so. When he went this afternoon, it was too late."
Hiram said this with a trembling voice, and lips that quivered.
"Thy will be done!" murmured the widow, lifting her eyes upward.
"If these tender ones are to be taken from their mother's fold, oh, do
thou temper for them the piercing blast, and be their shelter amid
the raging tempests."
A tap at the door brought back the thoughts of Mrs. Mayberry. A
brief struggle with her feelings, enabled her to overcome them in
time to receive a visitor with composure. It was the merchant.
"Mr. Easy!" she said, in surprise.
"Mrs. Mayberry, how do you do?" There was some restraint and
embarrassment in his manner. He was conscious of having neglected the
widow of his friend, before he came. The humble condition in which he
found her, quickened that consciousness into a sting.
"I am sorry, madam," he said, after he had become seated, and made
a few inquiries, "that I did not get the place for your son. In fact,
I am to blame in the matter. But I have been thinking since, that he
would suit me exactly, and if you have no objections, I will take
him, and pay him a salary of two hundred dollars for the first year."
Mrs. Mayberry tried to reply, but her feelings were too much
excited by this sudden and unlooked-for proposal, to allow her to
speak for some moments. Even then, her assent was made with tears
glistening on her cheeks.
Arrangements were quickly made for the transfer of Hiram from the
store where he had been engaged, to the counting-room of Mr. Easy.
The salary he received was just enough to enable Mrs. Mayberry, with
what she herself earned, to keep her little ones together, until
Hiram, who proved a valuable assistant in Mr. Easy's business, could
command a larger salary, and render her more important aid.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
BENJAMIN PARKER was not as thrifty as some of his neighbors. He
could not "get along in the world."
"Few men are more industrious than I am," he would sometimes say to
his wife. "I am always attending to business, late and early, rain or
shine. But it's no use, I can't get along, and am afraid I never
shall. Nothing turns out well."
Mrs. Parker was a meek, patient-minded woman; and she had married
Benjamin because she loved him above all the young men who sought her
hand, some of whom had fairer prospects in the world than he had; and
she continued to love him and confided in him, notwithstanding many
reverses and privations had attended their union.
"You do the best you can," she would reply to her husband when he
thus complained, "and that is as much as can be expected of any one.
You can only plant and sow, the Lord must send the rain and the
The usually pensive face of Mrs. Parker would lighten up, as she
spoke words of comfort and encouragement like these. But she never
ventured upon any serious advice as to the management of her
husband's affairs, although there were times when she could not help
thinking that if he would do a little differently it might be better.
To his fortunes she had united her own, and she was ready to bear with
him their lot in life. If he proposed any thing, she generally
acquiesced in it, even if it cost her much self-sacrifice; and when,
as it often happened, all did not turn out as well as had been
expected, she never said—"I looked for this," or "I never approved of
it," or, "If I had been allowed to advise you, it never would have
been done." No, nothing like this ever passed the lips of Mrs. Parker.
But rather words of sympathy and encouragement, and a reference of all
to the wise but inscrutable dispensations of Providence. It might have
been better for them if Mrs. Parker had possessed a stronger will and
had manifested more decided traits of character; or it might not. The
pro or con of this we will not pretend to decide. As a general thing
it is no doubt true that qualities of mind in married partners have a
just relation the one to the other, and act and react in a manner best
suited for the correction of the peculiar evils of each and the
elevation of both into the highest moral state to which they can be
raised. At first glance this may strike the mind as not true as a
general rule. But a little reflection will cause it to appear more
obvious. If an all-wise Providence governs in the affairs of men, it
is but reasonable to suppose that, in the most important act of a
man's life, this Providence will be most conspicuous. Marriage is this
most important act, and without doubt it is so arranged that those
are brought together between whom action and reaction of intellectual
and moral qualities will be just in the degree best calculated to
secure their own and their children's highest good.
We are not so sure, therefore, that it would have been any better
for Mr. and Mrs. Parker had the latter been less passive, and less
willing to believe that her husband was fully capable of deciding as
to what was best to be done in all things relating to those pursuits
in life by which this world's goods are obtained. She was passive,
and therefore we will believe that it was right for her to be so.
Mrs. Parker, though thus passive in all matters where she felt that
her husband was capable of deciding and where he ought to decide, was
not without activity and force of character. But all was directed by a
gentle and loving spirit, and in subservience to a profound conviction
that every occurrence in life was under the direction or permission of
God. No matter what she was called upon to suffer, either of bodily or
mental pain, she never murmured, but lifted her heart upward with
pious submission and felt, if she did not speak the sentiment—"Thy
will be done."
Mrs. Parker was one of three sisters, between whom existed the
tenderest affection. Their mother had died while they were young, and
love for each other had been strengthened and purified in mutual love
and care for their father. They had never been separated, from
childhood. The very thought of separation was always attended with
pain. If in the marriage of Rachel with Benjamin Parker any thing
crossed the mind of the loving and happy girl to cast over it a
shade, it was the thought of being separated from her sisters. Not a
distant separation, for Benjamin was keeping a store in the village,
and there was every prospect therefore of their remaining there,
permanently, but a removal from the daily presence of and household
intercourse with those, to love whom had been a part of her nature.
In the deeper, tenderer, more absorbing love with which Rachel
loved her husband, she found a compensation for what she lost in being
separated from her sisters and father. She was happy—but happy with
a subdued and thankful spirit.
Not more than a year elapsed after their marriage before Parker
began to complain of the badness of the times, and to sit thoughtful
and sometimes gloomy during the evenings he spent at home. This
grieved Rachel very much, and caused her to exercise the greatest
possible prudence and economy in order that the household expenses
might be as little burdensome as possible to her husband. But all
would not do.
"I am afraid I shall never get ahead here in the world," Parker at
length said outright, thereby giving his wife the first suspicion of
what was in his mind—a wish to try his fortune in some other place.
The truth was, Parker was making a living and a little over, but he
was not satisfied with this, and had moreover a natural love of
change. An acquaintance had talked to him a good deal about the
success of a young friend who had commenced in a town some fifty
miles away, a business precisely like the one in which he was
engaged. According to the account given, on half the capital which
Parker possessed, this person was selling double the quantity of
goods and making better profits.
A long time did not pass before Parker, after a bitter complaint in
regard to his business, said:
"I don't know what is to be done unless we go to Fairview. We could
do a great deal better there."
"Do you think so?" asked Rachel, in a calm voice, although her
heart sank within her at the thought of being separated from those she
so tenderly loved.
"I know it," was the answer. "Fairview is a thriving town, while
this place is going behindhand as fast as possible. I shall never get
along if I remain here, that is certain."
Rachel made no reply, but the hand that held the needle with which
she was sewing moved at a quicker rate.
"Are you willing to go there?" the husband asked, with some
hesitation of manner.
"If you think it best to go I am willing, of course," Rachel said,
Parker looked into the face of his wife, as it bent lower over the
work she held in her hand, and tried to understand as well as read
its expression. But he could not exactly make it out. Nor did the
tone of voice in which she so promptly expressed her willingness to
remove, if he thought it best, entirely satisfy his mind. Her assent,
however, had been obtained, and this being the thing he most desired,
he was not long in forgetting the manner in which that assent was
given. Of the cloud that fell upon her heart—of the sadness that
oppressed—of the foreshadowing loneliness of spirit that came over
her, he knew nothing.
A removal once determined upon, it was soon made. A large portion
of the goods in Mr. Parker's store was sold at a rather heavy
sacrifice and converted into cash. What remained of his stock was
packed up and sent to Fairview, whither with his wife and child he
quickly followed. While he looked hopefully ahead, the tearful eyes of
Rachel were turned back upon the loved and loving friends that were
left behind. But she did not murmur, or make any open manifestation
of the grief she felt. She believed it to be her duty to go with her
husband, and her duty, if she could not go cheerfully, at least to
conceal from others the pain she suffered.
For a time, things looked very bright in Fairview to the eyes of
Mr. Parker. He sold more goods and at better prices than at the old
place; but he had to credit more. The result of his first year's
business was quite encouraging. There was, however, a slight
drawback; very much more than his profits were outstanding. But he
doubted not that all would come in.
As for Mrs. Parker the year had not gone by without leaving some
marks of its passage upon her heart. Some are purified by much
suffering who, to common observation, seem purer far than hundreds
around them whose days glide pleasantly on and whose skies are rarely
overcast, and then only by a swiftly-passing summer cloud. Rachel
Parker was one of these. During the first year of her absence from
those who were loved next to her husband and child, her father died.
And what rendered the affliction doubly severe, was the fact, that it
occurred while she herself was so ill that she could not be moved
without endangering her life. He died and she could not be with him in
the last sad hours of his earthly existence! He died and was buried,
and she was not there to look for the last time upon his beloved
face—to follow him to his quiet resting-place—to weep over his
grave! She suffered—but to no mortal eye were apparent the adequate
signs of that suffering. Even her husband was misled by the calm
surface of her feelings into the belief that there was no wild
turbulence beneath. He did not see the tears that wet the pillow upon
which she slept. He did not know how many hours she lay sleepless in
the silent midnight watches. Daily all her duties were performed with
unvarying assiduity; and when he spoke to her she answered with her
usual gentle smile. That it faded more quickly than was its wont,
Benjamin Parker did not notice, nor did he remark upon the fact that
she rarely introduced any subject of conversation. Indeed, so entirely
was his mind engrossed by business, that it was impossible for him to
have any realizing sense of the true state of his wife's feelings.
Four years were past at Fairview, during which time Parker barely
managed to get sufficient out of his store to live upon; the greater
portion of his profits being represented by the figures on the debtor
side of his ledger. Many of these accounts were good, though slow in
being realized; but many more were hopelessly bad. He was very far
from being satisfied with the result. He lived, it is true, and by
carefully attending to his business could continue to live, and it
might be lay up a little; but this did not satisfy Benjamin Parker. He
wanted to be getting ahead in the world.
"Why don't you go to the West?" said an acquaintance, to whom he
was one day making complaint of his slow progress. "That is the
country where enterprise meets a just reward. If I were as young a man
as you are, you wouldn't catch me long in these parts. I would sell
out and buy five or six hundred acres of government land and settle
down as a farmer. In a few years you'd see me with property on my
hands worth looking at."
This set Parker to thinking and inquiring about the West. The idea
of becoming a substantial farmer, with broad acres covered with grain
and fields alive with stock, soon became predominant in his mind, and
he talked of little else at home or abroad. His wife said nothing, but
she thought almost as much on the subject as did her husband. At
length Benjamin Parker determined that he would remove to Northern
Indiana, more than a thousand miles away, upon a farm of five hundred
acres, that was offered to him at two dollars and a half an acre. It
was government land that had been taken up a year or two before, and
slightly improved by the erection of a log hut and the clearing of a
few acres, and now sold at one hundred per cent. advance. Instead of
first visiting the West and seeing the location of the land that was
offered to him, Parker was willing to believe all that was said of its
excellence and admirable location, and weak enough to invest in it
more than half of all he was worth.
The store at Fairview was sold out, and Mrs. Parker permitted to
spend a week with her sisters before parting with them, perhaps,
forever. When the final moment of separation came it seemed to her
like a death-parting. The eyes of Rachel lingered upon each loved
countenance, as if for the last time, and when these passed from
before her bodily visions, love kept them as distinct as ever, but
distinct in their tearful sadness.
If the wishes and feelings of Rachel Parker had been consulted—if
she had been at all considered and her true feelings and character
justly appreciated—a removal to the West would never have been
determined upon. But her husband's mind was all absorbed in ideas of
worldly things. Not possessing the habits and qualities of mind that
ensure success in any calling, he was always oppressed with the
consciousness that he was either standing still, or going
behind-hand. Instead of seeking to better his condition by greater
activity, energy, and concentration of thought upon his business, he
was ever looking to something beyond it, and to change of place and
pursuit as the means of improving his fortunes. This at last, as has
been seen, led him off to the West in the ardent hope of becoming in
time a wealthy farmer. In an inverse ratio to the hopeful elevation
of spirits with which Parker set out upon his journey was the
sorrowful depression experienced by his wife. But Rachel kept meekly
and patiently her feelings to herself. It was her duty, she felt, to
go with her husband. She had united her fortunes with his, and
without murmuring or complaining, she was ready to go with him
through the world and to stand bravely up by his side in any and all
After a journey of five weeks, Benjamin Parker and his wife, with
their family of three children, arrived at their new home in the
West. It was early in the spring. The main body of the farm, which
was densely wooded, lay upon the eastern bank of a small, sluggish
river, with broad, marshy bottom-lands. The cabin, which had been put
up the year before on a small clearing, stood on an eminence just
above this river, and was five miles away from any other human
habitation. It consisted of two rooms and a small loft above. One of
these rooms had only a ground floor. The windows were not glazed. The
last thirty miles of the journey to this wild region had been
performed in a wagon, which contained their furniture and a small
supply of provisions.
The first night spent in this lonely, cheerless place was one that
brought no very pleasant reflections to either Parker or his wife. He
was disappointed in his expectations, and she felt as if a heavy hand
were pressing upon her bosom.
But there they were, and the only thing for them to do was to make
the best of what was in their hands. Parker obtained an assistant and
went to work to prepare the cleared ground for spring crops, and his
wife, with a babe at her breast and no help, assumed all the duties
pertaining to her family. In cooking, washing, milking, sewing, etc.,
she found enough to occupy all her time late and early. It was a rare
thing for her to lay her head upon her pillow without extreme
weariness and even exhaustion.
Time went on, and they began to reap the first fruits of their
industry. The wilderness and solitary place blossomed. The little
clearing widened gradually its circle, and many little comforts, at
first wanting, were obtained. Still they suffered many privations and
Mrs. Parker far more than her husband imagined.
The first summer, hot and sultry, drew near to its close. Thus far
they had been blessed with health. But now slight headache, nausea,
and a general feeling of debility were experienced by all. The first
to show symptoms of serious illness was the oldest child. She was
nearly five years of age, her name was Rachel, and she was aptly
named, for she was the image of her mother. The bright eyes, sweet,
loving face, and happy voice of little Rachel, that was heard all day
long, lightened the mother's toil, refreshed her spirits, and often
made her forget the loneliness and seclusion in which they lived. She
was like a cool spring in the desert, a bright flower in a barren
waste, a ray of sunshine from a wintry sky.
Little Rachel was the first to droop. Saturday was always the
busiest day of the week; it was the day of preparation for the
Sabbath; for even separate and lonely as they were, this family
sacredly regarded the Sabbath as a day of rest from worldly care and
labor. It was Saturday, and Mrs. Parker, in the more earnest
attention which she gave to her household duties, did not notice that
the child was more quiet than usual; nor did the fact of finding her
fast asleep on the floor when dinner was ready, cause any thing
further than a thought that she had tired herself out with play. At
night she refused her supper, and then it was observed for the first
time that her eyes were heavy, her hands hot, and that she was
affected with a general languor. Her mother undressed her and put her
to bed, and the child sank off immediately into a heavy sleep. For
some time Mrs. Parker stood bending over her with a feeling of unusual
tenderness for the child. She also felt concern, but not arising from
any definite cause. The fear of extreme sickness and impending death
she had not yet known. That was one of the lessons she had still to
In the morning little Rachel awoke with a severe chill, accompanied
by vomiting. A raging fever succeeded to this. The parents became
alarmed, and Mr. Parker started off on horseback, for a physician,
distant about seven miles. It was noon when the doctor arrived. He
did not say much in answer to the anxious questions of the mother,
but administered some medicine and promised to call on the next day.
At his second visit he found nothing favorable in the symptoms of his
little patient. Her fever was higher than on the day before. There had
been a short intermission after midnight, which lasted until morning,
when it had returned again greatly exacerbated.
Nine days did the fever last without the abatement of a single
symptom, but rather a steady increase of all. The little sufferer had
not only the violence of a dangerous disease to bear, but there was
added to this a system of medical treatment that of itself, where no
disease existed, would have made the child extremely ill. In the first
place large doses of mercury were given, followed by other nauseous
and poisonous drugs; then copious bleeding was resorted to; and then
the entire breast of the child was covered with a blister that was
kept on until the whole surface of the skin was ready to peel off.
Afterward the head was shaved and blistered. During all this time,
medicines that the poor sufferer's stomach refused to take were forced
down her throat, almost hourly! If there had been any hope of escape
from the fever, this treatment would have made death certain.
At the close of the ninth day the physician informed the parents
that he could do no more for their child. When Mrs. Parker received
this intelligence, there was little change in her external
appearance, except that her pale, anxious face grew slightly paler.
She tried to say in her heart, as she endeavored to lift her spirit
upward—"Thy will be done." But she failed in the pious effort. It
was too much to take from her this darling child; this companion of
her loneliness; this blossom so gently unfolding and loading the
desert air with soul-refreshing sweetness. It was too much—she bowed
her spirit in meek endurance, but she could not say—"Thy will be
Little Rachel died. The father dug her grave near by their humble
dwelling; he made the rough coffin in which they enclosed her; and
then bore out the body and laid it in the ground, while the weeping
mother stood by his side. Sole mourners were they at these sad
funereal rites. No holy words from the book of consolation were read,
no solemn hymn was sung—all was silence, heart-oppressing silence.
On the succeeding day Parker had to go for the physician again. His
next child was taken sick. His wife was far from being well, and he
felt strangely. After the doctor had prescribed for the family, and
was about leaving, he took Mr. Parker to an eminence overlooking the
river that bounded his farm on the western side, and spoke to him
"My friend, do you see that river, with more than half of its muddy
bed exposed to the hot sun? Your farm lies upon its eastern side, and
the poisonous miasma that arises from its surface and banks is
steadily blown upon you by the south-westerly and westerly winds of
summer. Is it any wonder that your family have become sick? I
wouldn't live here if you would give me fifty farms like this!
Already a whole family have died on this spot, and your's will be the
next if you do not leave immediately. You have lost one child; let
that suffice. Flee from this place as hurriedly as Lot fled from
Sodom. Medical aid I solemnly believe to be useless while you remain
here. The village of A—is healthy. Remove your wife and children
there immediately. Do not wait for a single day. It is the only hope
for their lives."
A warning like this was not a thing to be let go by unheeded.
Parker promptly announced to his wife what the doctor had
communicated, and ended by saying—
"We must go at once."
"And leave Rachel?" she returned, sadly.
"Our staying here cannot do her any good," replied the husband, in
a choking voice.
"I know—I know," quickly answered the mother. "I am weak and
foolish. Yes—yes—we had better go."
A few hours sufficed for all needful preparations, and then, with
his wife and children in his wagon, Parker mounted one of the horses
and drove off for the village of A—, distant a little over ten
miles. As they moved away the mother's eyes were turned back upon the
little mound of earth beneath which slept the body of her precious
child, and remained fixed upon that one spot until by intervening
trees all was hidden from her sight. Then her eyes closed, and she
leaned her head down against the side of the wagon, while her arm
tightened its hold of the babe that was sleeping on her bosom. For a
long time she remained lost to all that was around her. Years
afterward she said to a friend that the severest trial of her whole
life was in leaving her child alone in that wild, desolate place. It
seemed as if the little one must feel the desertion.
At the town of A—Parker and his family obtained accommodations in
a poor tavern, where they remained for six weeks, during which time
every one suffered more or less severely from fevers, contracted in
the poisoned atmosphere in which they had been residing. During the
time that Parker remained at A—he obtained more information in
regard to Western life, and the prospects of a man like himself
getting ahead, as a farmer on wild lands than he had ever before had.
He learned, too, some particulars about his own farm, of which be was
before ignorant. All along the river upon which it was situated, the
fall sickness swept off every new-comer, and was in very many
instances fatal to the oldest residents. He was assured that if he
went back there to live before frost set in, it would be almost
The loss of his oldest and best-beloved child; the bad location of
his farm; and the new and more correct views he had received on the
subject of Western life, completely opened the eyes of Parker to the
folly he had committed.
"If I could make any thing like a fair sale of my farm, I think I
would let it go, and return to the East," he said to his wife, after
they had all recovered from the worst effect of the fevers from which
they had been suffering.
"If you could do as well at the East, Benjamin, I think we would
all be happier there," Rachel replied, in her usual quiet way. Her
husband did not notice that the tears sprang instantly to her eyes,
nor did he know with what a quick throb her heart answered to his
A short time after this, Parker was fortunate enough to meet with a
purchaser for his land, who was willing to take it with all its
improvements at government price. With seven hundred dollars, the
remnant of his property, after an absence of eight months, Parker
returned to the East a wiser man, and his wife a more thoughtful,
pensive, absent-minded woman. The loss of little Rachel was a sad
thing for her. She could not get over it. It would have been some
comfort to her if they could have brought back the child's remains,
and buried them where her mother had slept for years, and where the
body of her father had been so recently laid; but to leave her alone
in the wild region where they had buried her, was something of which
she could not think without a pang.
On the small sum of money which he had brought back from his
western adventure, Parker recommenced his old business in the very
town where he lived, and in the store that he occupied at the time of
his marriage. As his means were more contracted, he could not do as
good a business as the one he had been so foolish as to give up
several years before, and he soon fell into his old habit of
complaining and perhaps now with more cause. To such complaints his
meek-tempered wife would reply in some words of encouragement and
"You do the best you can, and that is as much as can be expected of
any one. You plant and sow—the Lord must send the rain and the
Back in the old place and among her loving sisters, the heart of
Mrs. Parker felt once more the warm sunshine upon it—the gentle dews
and the refreshing rain. But a year or two only elapsed before her
husband determined to seek some better fortune in another place.
Without a complaining word his wife went with him, but her cheek grew
paler and thinner afterward, her step slower and her voice even to the
ear of her husband sadder. But he was too much absorbed in his efforts
to get along in the world to be able to see clearly the true condition
of his wife, or, if he at all understood it, to be aware of the cause.
Their new location proved to be an unhealthy one, and the loss of
another child drove them away, after a residence of a year. Mrs.
Parker suffered here severely from intermittent fever. She was just
able to go about when her husband declared his intention to leave the
place on account of its being sickly.
"Where do you think of going?" she asked, raising to his her large
"I have hardly made up my mind yet," he replied. "But I was
thinking of R—."
Rachel's eyes fell to the floor, and a gentle sigh escaped from her
bosom. This was noticed by her husband.
"Have you any objection to R—?" he asked.
"Why not go back to the old place?" Rachel ventured to say, while
her eyes were again fixed upon him, but now earnestly and tearfully.
"Would you rather live there?" he asked, with more than usual
tenderness in his voice.
"I have never been happy since we left there," the poor wife
replied, sinking forward and biding her tearful face on his breast.
Parker was confounded. He had never dreamed of this. Rachel had
always so patiently acquiesced in all that he had proposed to do,
that he had imagined her as willing to remove from one place to
another as he had been. But now a new truth flashed upon his
mind—"Never been happy since we left there?"
"We will go back, Rachel," he said, with some emotion. "If I had
only known this!"
And they went back. But somehow or other Rachel Parker did not
recover the healthy tone of body or mind that she had lost. By strict
attention to business and continuing at it for some years in one
place, her husband got along well enough, though he did not get rich.
As for Rachel, she gradually declined and three years after her return
was laid at rest.
THE SUM OF TRIFLES: OR, "A PENNY
SAVED IS A PENNY GAINED."
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
"SAVING? Don't talk to me about saving!" said one journeyman
mechanic to another. "What can a man with a wife and three children
save out of eight dollars a week?"
"Not much, certainly," was replied. "But still, if he is careful,
he may save a little."
"Precious little!" briefly returned the other, with something like
contempt in his tone.
"Even a little is worth saving," was answered to this. "You know
the old proverb, 'Many littles make a mickle.' Fifty cents laid by
every week will amount to twenty-six dollars in a year."
"Of course, that's clear enough. And a dollar saved every week will
give the handsome sum of fifty-two dollars a year. Bat how is the
half-dollar or the dollar to be saved, I should like to know? I can't
do it, I am sure."
"I can, then, and my family is just as large as yours, and my wages
"If you say so, I am bound to believe you, but I must own myself
unable to see how you do it. Pray, how much do you save?"
"I have saved about seventy-five dollars a year for the last two
"You have!" in surprise.
"Yes, and I have it all snugly in the Savings' Bank."
"Bless me! How have you possibly managed to do this? For my part,
it is as much as I can do to keep out of debt. My wife is as
hard-working, saving a woman as is to be found anywhere. But all
won't do. I expect my nose will be at the grindstone all my life."
"How much does your tobacco cost you, Johnson?" asked his
"Nothing, to speak of. A mere trifle," replied the man named
"A shilling a week?"
"And you take something to drink, now and then?"
"Nothing but a little beer. I never use any thing stronger."
"I suppose you never take, on an average, more than a glass a day?"
"No, nor that."
"But you occasionally ask a friend to take a glass with you?"
"Of course, that is a thing we all must do, sometimes—"
"Which will make the cost to you about equal to a glass a day?"
"I suppose it will; but that's nothing."
"Six glasses a week at sixpence each, will make just the sum of
three shillings, which added to the cost of tobacco, will make fifty
cents a week for beer and tobacco, or what would amount to a hundred
dollars and over in four years."
"Dear knows, a poor mechanic has few enough comforts without
depriving himself of trifles like these," said Johnson.
"By giving up such trifles as these, for trifles they really are,
permanent and substantial comforts may be gained. But, besides
chewing tobacco and drinking beer, you indulge yourself in a plate of
oysters, now and then, do you not?"
"Certainly I do. A hard-working man ought to be allowed to enjoy
himself a little sometimes."
"And this costs you two shillings weekly?" said the persevering
"At least that," was replied.
"How often do you take a holiday to yourself?"
"Not often. I do it very rarely."
"Not oftener than once a month?"
"Yes, I suppose I take a day for recreation about once in a month,
and that is little enough, dear knows."
"You spend a trifle at such times, of course?"
"Never more than half a dollar. I always limit myself to that, for
I cannot forget that I am a poor journeyman mechanic."
"Does your wife take a holiday, too?" asked the friend, with
something significant in his look and tone.
"No," was replied. "I often try to persuade her to do so; but she
never thinks she can spare time. She has all the work to do, and
three children to see after; and one of them, you know, is a baby."
"Do you know that this day's holiday once a month, costs you
exactly twenty-two dollars a year?"
"No, certainly not, for it costs no such thing."
"Well, let us see. Your wages per day come to one dollar
thirty-three cents and one-third. This sum multiplied by twelve, the
number of days lost in the year, gives sixteen dollars. Half a dollar
spent a day for twelve days makes six dollars, and six dollars added
to sixteen amount to twenty-two. Now, have I not calculated it
"I believe you have," replied Johnson, in an altered tone. "But I
never could have believed it."
"Add to this, thirteen dollars a year that you pay for oysters, and
"Not so fast, if you please. I spend no such sum as you name, in
"Let us try our multiplication again," coolly remarked the friend.
"Twenty-five cents a week multiplied into fifty-two weeks, gives
exactly thirteen dollars. Isn't it so?"
"Humph! I believe you are right. But I never would have thought of
"Add this thirteen dollars to the twenty-two it costs you for
twelve holidays in the year, and this again to the price of your beer
and tobacco, and you will have just sixty-one dollars a year that
might be saved. A little more careful examination into your expenses,
would, no doubt, detect the sum of fourteen dollars that might be as
well saved as not, which added to the sixty-one dollars, will make
seventy-five dollars a year uselessly spent, the exact sum I am able
to put into the Savings' Bank."
Johnson was both surprised and mortified, at being thus convinced
of actually spending nearly one-fifth of his entire earnings in
self-gratification of one kind or another. He promised both himself
and his friend, that he would at once reform matters, and try to get
a little a-head, as he had a growing family that would soon be much
more expensive than it was at present.
Some months afterward, the friend who had spoken so freely to
Johnson, met him coming out of a tavern, and in the act of putting
tobacco in his mouth. The latter looked a little confused, but said
with as much indifference as he could assume:
"You see I am at my old tricks again?"
"Yes, and I am truly sorry for it. I was in hopes you were going to
practice a thorough system of economy, in order to get beforehand."
"I did try, but it's no use. As to giving up tobacco, that is out
of the question. I can't do it. Nor could you, if you had ever formed
the bad habit of chewing or smoking."
"We can do almost any thing, if we try hard enough, Johnson. We
fail, because we give up trying. My tobacco and cigars used to cost
me just twice what yours cost you, and yet I made a resolution to
abandon the use of the vile weed altogether, and what is better, have
kept my resolution. So, you see, the thing can be done. All that is
wanted, is sufficient firmness and perseverance. I used to like a
glass of ale, too, and a plate of oysters, but I saw that the expense
was rather a serious matter, and that the indulgence did not do me a
particle of good. So I gave them up, also; and if you try hard enough,
you can do it, too."
"I don't know—perhaps I might; but somehow or other, it strikes me
that seventy or eighty dollars a year, laid by in the Savings' Bank,
is rather a dear saving, if made at the expense of every comfort a
poor man has. What good is the money going to do?"
"A strange question, that, to ask, Johnson. I will tell you what
good it is going to do me. I intend saving every cent I can possibly
lay by, until I get five hundred dollars; and then I mean to set up
my trade for myself, and become a master-workman. After that, I hope
to get along a little faster, and be able to send my children, who
will be pretty well advanced by the time, to better schools. I shall
also be able, I hope, to get help for my wife, who will need
assistance in the house."
"All very well to talk about, but not so easily done," replied
"I don't know. For every effect there is an adequate cause. The
cause of all this will be the saving of seventy-five dollars a year.
This I have been doing for three years, and I hope to be able to do
it for three or four years longer. Then the desired effect, in a
capital of five hundred dollars, upon which to commence business,
will be produced. Is it not so?"
"Yes, I suppose it is. But it is one thing to commence business,
and another thing to succeed in it. There are plenty of chances in
favor of your losing every cent you have, and then being obliged to go
back to journey-work, which will not be the most agreeable thing in
the world. For my part, I would much rather enjoy what little I have
as I go along, than stint and deny myself every thing comfortable for
six or seven years, in order to set up business for myself, and then
lose every dollar. It is not every man, I can tell you, who is fit to
go into business, nor every man who can succeed, if he does. The fact
is, there must be journeymen as well as master-workmen. As for me, I
have no taste for going into business, and don't believe I should
succeed if I did set up for myself. I expect to work journey-work all
my life, and might just as well take my comfort as I go along."
"I shall not attempt to dispute what you say about some men being
born to be journeymen, and others to be master-workmen," replied the
friend of Johnson, "for I am very well aware that the gifts of all
are different; and that some men are so peculiarly constituted, that
they would not succeed if they were to set up business for
themselves. But the want of a business capacity, or inclination, is
no reason at all why a journeyman mechanic should not save every cent
"What good will it do him? He is bound to be a poor worker all his
life, and why should he deny himself the few comforts he has as he
goes along, in order to lay by a hundred or two dollars?"
"I am surprised to hear you ask such a question, Johnson. But I
will answer it by saying, that he should do it for the very reason
that I save my money; that is, to enable him to educate his children
well, to lighten his own and his wife's toil, when they grow older,
and to be able to obtain for his family more of the comforts of life
than they now enjoy."
"Don't exactly see how all this is to be achieved. Suppose he get
together as much as five hundred dollars; and instead of risking it
in business, he send his children to some expensive schools, hire
help for his wife, and take some comfort as he goes along; how long
do you suppose his five hundred dollars will last? But two years, and
then he must come down again and be ten times as unhappy, for it is a
much easier matter to get up than to go down."
"Pardon me, Johnson," replied his friend, "but I must say you are a
very short-sighted mortal. If you can't imagine any better mode of
using your five hundred dollars after you have saved it, I don't
blame you for not caring about making the attempt to do so. But I can
tell you a better way."
"Well, let us hear it."
"With your five hundred dollars, after you had saved it, you could
buy yourself a snug little cottage, with an acre of ground around it.
How much rent do you pay now?"
"Seventy-five dollars a year."
"Of course this would be saved after that, which, added to what you
were already saving, would make a hundred and fifty dollars a year.
Take fifty of that to buy yourself a cow, some pigs, and chickens,
and to get lumber for your pig-sty, hen-house and shed for your cow
in winter, and you would still have a hundred dollars left, the first
year, to go into the Savings' Bank. Your garden, which you could work
yourself by rising an hour or two earlier in the morning; your cow,
your chickens and your pigs, would make a sufficient saving in your
expenses to pay for all additional charges in entering your children
at better schools. In three years more, laying by a hundred and fifty
dollars a year, which you could easily do, would give you enough to
buy another cottage and an acre of ground, which you could easily rent
to a good tenant for eighty dollars a year. In three years more, going
on with the same economy, you would have seven hundred dollars more to
invest, which could be done in property that would yield you seventy
or eighty dollars a year additional income. By this time the village
would have grown out toward your grounds, and perhaps doubled, may be
quadrupled their value for building lots, some of which you could
sell, and adding the amount to the savings of a couple of years, be
able to build one or two more comfortable little houses on your own
lots. Going on in this way, year after year, by the time your ability
to work as a journeyman began to fail you, the necessity for work
would not exist, for you would have a comfortable property, the
regular income from which would more than support you. Now all this
may be done, by your simply giving up your tobacco, beer and oysters,
and your day's holiday once a month. Is not the result worth the
trifling sacrifice, Johnson?"
"It certainly is," was the serious reply. "You have presented a
very attractive picture, and I suppose it is a true one."
"It is, you may depend upon it. Every journeyman mechanic, if he be
industrious and have a prudent, economical wife, as you have, may
accumulate a snug little property, and live quite at his ease, when
he passes the prime of life. Is it not all very plain to you."
"It certainly is, and I am determined that I will try to get a-head
just in the way that you describe. If you can save seventy-five
dollars a year, there is no good reason why I should not do the
"None in the world. Only persevere in your economy and self-denial,
and you are certain of accomplishing all I have set forth."
We are sorry that we cannot give as good an account of Johnson as
we could wish. He tried to be economical, and to break himself of his
bad habits of chewing, drinking, and other self-indulgences, for a
little while, and then sunk down into his old ways and went on as
Hopelessly his poor wife, now in ill health, is toiling on, and
will have to toil on until she sink, from exhaustion, into the grave,
and her children become scattered among strangers, to bear the hard
lot of the orphan.
How many hundreds are there like Johnson who spend as they go, in
self-indulgence, what, if properly hoarded, would make their last
days bright with life's declining sunshine.