What Rum Does - Youth's Outlook
I was sitting at my breakfast-table one Sunday morning, when I was called
to my door by the ringing of the bell. There stood a boy about fourteen
years of age, poorly clad, but tidied up as best he could. He was leaning
on crutches; for one leg was off at the knee.
In a voice trembling with emotion, and with tears coursing down his cheeks,
he said: "Mr. Hoagland, I am Freddy Brown. I have come to see if you will
go to the jail and talk and pray with my father. He is to be hanged
tomorrow for the murder of my mother. My father was a good man, but whisky
did it. I have three little sisters younger than myself. We are very, very
poor, and have no friends. We live in a dark and dingy room. I do the best
I can to support my sisters by selling papers, blacking boots, and doing
odd jobs; but Mr. Hoagland, we are very poor. Will you come and be with us
when father's body is brought home? The governor says we may have his body
after he is hanged."
I was deeply moved to pity. I promised, and made haste to the jail, where I
found his father.
He acknowledged that he must have murdered his wife, for the circumstances
pointed that way, but he had not the slightest remembrance of the deed. He
said he was crazed with drink, or he never would have committed the crime.
He said: "My wife was a good and faithful mother to my little children.
Never did I dream that my hand could be guilty of such a crime."
The man could bravely face the penalty of the law for his deed, but he
broke down and cried as if his heart would break when he thought of leaving
his children in a destitute and friendless condition. I read and prayed
with him, and left him to his fate.
The next morning I made my way to the miserable quarters of the children. I
found three little girls upon a bed of straw in one corner of the room.
They were clad in rags. They would have been beautiful girls had they had
the proper care. They were expecting the body of their dead father, and
between their cries and sobs they would say, "Papa was good, but whisky did
In a little time two strong officers came bearing the body of the dead
father in a rude pine box. They set it down on two old rickety stools. The
cries of the children were so heartrending that the officers could not
endure it, and made haste out of the room.
In a moment the manly boy nerved himself, and said, "Come, sisters, kiss
papa's face before it is cold." They gathered about his face and smoothed
it down with kisses, and between their sobs cried out: "Papa was good, but
whisky did it! Papa was good, but whisky did it!"
I raised my heart to God and said, "O God, did I fight to save a country
that would derive a revenue from a traffic that would make a scene like