STORIES AND SKETCHES
AUTHOR OF ERNEST HARWOOD, CLARA ROSCOM, OR THE PATH OF DUTY, &C.
MONTREAL: PRINTED BY JOHN LOVELL, ST. NICHOLAS STREET.
TERRY DOLAN 5
THE FAITHFUL WIFE 15
EMMA ASHTON 24
THOUGHTS ON AUTUMN 47
WANDERING DAVY 50
LOOKING ON THE DARK SIDE 57
EDWARD BARTON 62
THE WEARY AT REST 71
THE RAINY AFTERNOON 75
THE STUDENT'S DREAM 85
UNCLE EPHRAIM 88
STORY OF A LOG CABIN 93
HAZEL-BROOK FARM 106
OLD RUFUS 127
THE DIAMOND RING 135
THE UNFORTUNATE MAN 146
THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE 150
ARTHUR SINCLAIR 154
THE SNOW STORM 173
THE NEW YEAR 177
Some years since circumstances caused me to spend the summer months in a farming district, a few miles from the village of E., and it was there I met with Terry Dolan. He had a short time previous come over from Ireland, and was engaged as a sort of chore boy by Mr. L., in whose family I resided during my stay in the neighborhood. This Terry was the oddest being with whom I ever chanced to meet. Would that I could describe him!—but most of us, I believe, occasionally meet with people, whom we find to be indescribable, and Terry was one of those. He called himself sixteen years of age; but, excepting that he was low of stature, you would about as soon have taken him for sixty, as sixteen. His countenance looked anything but youthful, and there was altogether a sort of queer, ancient look about him which caused him to appear very remarkable. When he first came to reside with Mr. L. the boys in the neighborhood nicknamed him "The little Old Man," but they soon learned by experience that their wisest plan was to place a safe distance between Terry and themselves before applying that name to him, for the implied taunt regarding his peculiar appearance enraged him beyond measure. Whenever he entered the room, specially if he ventured a remark—and no matter how serious you might have been a moment before—the laugh would come, do your best to repress it. When I first became an inmate with the family, I was too often inclined to laugh at the oddities of Terry—and I believe a much graver person than I was at that time would have done the same—but after a time, when I learned something of his past life, I regarded him with a feeling of pity, although to avoid laughing at him, at times, were next to impossible.
One evening in midsummer I found him seated alone upon the piazza, with a most dejected countenance. Taking a seat by his side I enquired why he looked so sad;—his eyes filled with tears as he replied—"its of ould Ireland I'm thinkin' to-night, sure." I had never before seen Terry look sober, and I felt a deep sympathy for the homesick boy. I asked him how it happened that he left all his friends in Ireland and came to this country alone. From his reply I learned that his mother died when he was only ten years old, and, also, that his father soon after married a second wife, who, to use Terry's own words, "bate him unmercifully." "It's a wonder," said he, "that iver I lived to grow up, at all, at all, wid all the batins I got from that cruel woman, and all the times she sint me to bed widout iver a bite uv supper, bad luck to her and the like uv her!" He did live, however, but he certainly did not grow up to be very tall. "Times grew worse an' worse for me at home," continued he, "and a quare time I had of it till I was fourteen years of age, when one day says I to mesilf, 'flesh and blood can bear it no longer,' and I ran away to the city uv Dublin where an aunt by me mother's side lived. Me aunt was a poor woman, but she gave a warm welcim to her sister's motherless boy; she trated me kindly and allowed me to share her home, although she could ill afford it, till I got a place as sarvant in a gintleman's family. As for my father, he niver throubled his head about me any more; indade I think he was glad to be rid uv me, an' all by manes of that wicked woman. It was near two years afther I lift home that I took the notion of going to Ameriky; me aunt advised me against going, but, whin she saw that me mind was set on it, she consinted, and did her best, poor woman, to sind me away lookin' dacent and respectable. I niver saw me father or me stepmother agin. I had no wish to see her; but, although I knew me father no longer loved me, I had still some natral-like feelin's for him; but, as I had runaway from home, I durst not go back, an' so I lift Ireland widout a sight uv him. But I could not lave it foriver, as it might be, widout one more sight uv me mother's grave. I rached the small village where me father lived about nightfall, and lodged in the house uv a kind neighbor who befrinded me, an he promised, at my earnest wish, to say nothing to any one uv my visit. Early in the morning, before any one was astir in the village, I stole away to the churchyard where they buried me mother. I knelt down, I did, an' kissed the sods which covered her grave, an' prayed that the blessin' which she pronounced before she died, wid her hand restin' on me head, might follow me wheriver I might go." The boy took from his pocket a small parcel, carefully inclosed in a paper, which he handed to me, saying: "I gathered these shamrocks from off me mothers grave, before I lift it forever."
My own eyes; grew moist as I gazed upon the now withered shamrock leaves which the poor boy prized so highly. Would that they had proved as a talisman to guard him from evil! I listened with much interest to Terry's story till our conversation was suddenly interrupted by Mr. —— calling him, in no very gentle tones, to go and drive home the cows from the far pasture. To reach this pasture he must needs pass through about a quarter of a mile of thick woods. He had a great dread of walking alone in the woods, which his imagination filled with wild animals. When he returned that evening he seemed very much terrified, and, when questioned as to the cause, he replied that he "had met a wild baste in the woods, and was kilt entirely wid the fright uv it."
We endeavoured to gain from him a description of the animal he had seen, but for some time were unable. "What color was the animal?" enquired Mrs. ——, "Indade Ma'am an' its jist the color uv a dog he was," answered Terry. This reply was greeted with a burst of laughter from all present, at which he was highly offended. In order to pacify him I said, "we would not laugh at you, Terry, only that dogs are of so many different colors that we are as much in the dark as ever regarding the color of the animal you saw." "Well thin," replied he, "if you must know, he was a dirthy brown, the varmint, that he was." From what we could learn from him we were led to suppose that he had met with one of those harmless little creatures, called the "Woodchuck," which his nervous terror aided by the deepening twilight, had magnified into a formidable wild beast.
A few evenings after, two or three friends of the family chanced to call; and in course of conversation some one mentioned an encampment of Indians, who had recently located themselves in our vicinity, for the purpose of gathering material for the manufacture of baskets, and other works of Indian handicraft. Terry had never seen an Indian, and curiosity, not unmixed with fear, was excited in his mind, when he learned that a number of those dark people were within three miles of us. He asked many questions regarding their personal appearance, habits, &c. It was evident that he entertained some very comical ideas upon the subject. After sitting for a time silent, he suddenly enquired, "Do they ate pratees like other people?" A lady, present, in order to impose upon his credulity, replied, "Indeed Terry they not only eat potates, but they sometimes eat people." His countenance expressed much alarm, as he replied, "Faix thin, but I'll kape out o'their way." After a short time he began to suspect they were making game of him, and applied to me for information, saying, "Tell me, sir, if what Mrs —— says is true?" "Do not be alarmed, Terry," I replied, "for if you live till the Indians eat you, you will look even older than you now do."
This allusion to his ancient appearance was very mischievous on my part, and I regretted it a moment after; but he was so much pleased to learn that he had nothing to fear from the Indians that he readily forgave me for alluding to a subject upon which he was usually very sensitive. I remember taking a walk one afternoon during the haymaking season to the field where Terry was at work. Mr. —— had driven to the village with the farm horses, leaving Terry to draw in hay with a rheumatic old animal that was well nigh unfit for use. But as the hay was in good condition for getting in, and the sky betokened rain, he told Terry, upon leaving home, to accomplish as much as possible, during his absence, and he would, if the rain kept off, draw in the remainder upon his return. As I drew nigh I spied Terry perched upon the top of a load of hay holding the reins, and urging forward the horse, in the ascent of a very steep hill. First, he tried coaxing, and as that proved of little avail, he next tried the effect of a few vigorous strokes with a long switch which he carried in his hand. When the poor old horse had dragged the heavy load about half way up the hill, he seemed incapable of further exertion, and horse, cart, Terry and all began a rapid backward descent down the hill.
Here the boy's patience gave way entirely. "Musha thin, bad luck to ye for one harse," said he as he applied the switch with renewed energy. Just then I arrived within speaking distance and said, "Do you think, Terry, you would be any better off if you had two of them." "Not if they were both like this one," answered he. I advised Terry to come down from his elevated position, and not add his weight to the load drawn by the overburdened animal. He followed my advice, and when with some difficulty we had checked the descending motion of the cart-wheels, we took a fair start, and the summit of the hill was finally gained.
"Its often," said Terry, "that I've seen a horse draw a cart, but I niver before saw a cart drawing a horse." There was one trait in the character of the boy which pleased me much; he was very grateful for any little act of kindness. He often got into difficulties with the family, owing to his rashness and want of consideration, and I often succeeded in smoothing down for him many rough places in his daily path; and when he observed that I interested myself in his behalf, his gratitude knew no bounds. I believe he would have made almost any sacrifice to please me. He surprised me one day by saying suddenly, "Don't I wish you'd only be tuck sick." "Why, Terry," replied I, "I am surprised indeed, that you should wish evil to me." "Indade thin," answered he, "its not for evil that I wish it, but for your good, jist to let ye see how tinderly I would take care uv ye." I thanked him for his kind intentions, saying that I was very willing to take the will for the deed in this case, and had no wish to test his kindness by a fit of sickness.
He came in one evening fatigued with a hard day's work, and retired early to bed. His sleeping apartment adjoined the sitting-room. I had several letters to write which occupied me till a late hour; the family had all retired. I finished writing just as the clock struck twelve. At that moment, I was almost startled by Terry's voice singing in a very high key. My first thought was that he had gone suddenly crazy. With a light in my hand I stepped softly into the room, to find Terry sitting up in bed and singing at the top of his voice, a song in the "Native Irish Tongue." By this time he had roused every one in the house; and others of the family entered the room. By the pauses which he made, we knew when he reached the end of each verse. He sang several verses; at the time I knew how many, but am unable now to recall the exact number. He must surely have been a sound sleeper, or the loud laughter which filled the room would have waked him, for the scene was ludicrous in the extreme: Terry sitting up in bed, sound asleep, at the hour of midnight, and singing, with a loud voice and very earnest manner, to an audience who were unable to understand one word of the song. At the close of the last verse he lay quietly down, all unconscious of the Musical Entertainment he had given. The next morning some of the family began teasing him about the song he had sung in his sleep. He was loth to believe them, and as usual, enquired of me if they were telling him the truth. "I'll believe whatever you say," said he, "for its you that niver toult me a lie yet." "You may believe them this time," said I, "for you certainly did sing a song. The air was very fine, and I have no doubt the words were equally so, if we could only have understood them."
"Well thin," replied he, "but I niver heard more than that; and if I raaly did sing, I may as well tell yee's how it happint. I dramed, ye see, that I was at a ball in Ireland, an' I thought that about twelve o'clock we got tired wid dancin and sated ourselves on the binches which were ranged round the walls uv the room, and ache one was to sing a song in their turn, an' its I that thought my turn had come for sure." "Well Terry," said I, "you hit upon the time exact at any rate, for it was just twelve o'clock when you favoured us with the song."
Soon after this time I left the neighborhood, and removed to some distance. Terry remained for considerable time with the same family; after a time I learned that he had obtained employment in a distant village. The next tidings I heard of him was that he had been implicated in a petty robbery, and had run away. His impulsive disposition rendered him very easy of persuasion, for either good or evil; and he seldom paused to consider the consequences of any act. From what I could learn of the matter it seemed he had been enticed into the affair by some designing fellows, who judged that, owing to his simplicity, he would be well adapted to carry out their wicked plans; and, when suspicion was excited, they managed in some way to throw all the blame upon Terry, who, fearing an arrest, fled no one knew whither. Many years have passed since I saw or heard of Terry Dolan, but often, as memory recalls past scenes and those who participated in them, I think of him, and wonder if he is yet among the living, and, if so, in what quarter of the world he has fixed his abode.
THE FAITHFUL WIFE.
It was a mild and beautiful evening in the early autumn. Mrs. Harland is alone in her home; she is seated by a table upon which burns a shaded lamp, and is busily occupied with her needle. She has been five years a wife; her countenance is still youthful, and might be termed beautiful, but for the look of care and anxiety so plainly depicted thereon. She had once been happy, but with her now happiness is but a memory of the past. When quite young she had been united in marriage to William Harland, and with him removed to the City of R., where they have since resided. He was employed as bookkeeper in a large mercantile house, and his salary was sufficient to afford them a comfortable support,—whence then the change that has thus blighted their bright prospects, and clouded the brow of that fair young wife with care? It is an unpleasant truth, but it must be told. Her husband has become addicted to the use of strong drink, not an occasional tippler, but a confirmed and habitual drunkard. His natural disposition was gay and social, and he began by taking an occasional glass with his friends—more for sociability than for any love of the beverage. His wife often admonished him of the danger of tampering with the deadly vice of intemperance, but he only laughed at what he termed her idle fears. Well had it been for them both had the fears of his wife proved groundless! It is needless for me to follow him in his downward path, till we find him reduced to the level of the common drunkard. Some three months previous to the time when our story opens his employers were forced to dismiss him, as they could no longer employ him with any degree of safety to their business. It was fortunate for Mrs. Harland that the dwelling they occupied belonged to her in her own right—it had been given her by her father at the period of her marriage—so that notwithstanding the dissipated habits of the husband and father they still possessed a home, although many of the comforts of former days had disappeared before the blighting influence of the demon of intemperance. After being dismissed by his employers Mr. Harland seemed to lose all respect for himself, as well as for his wife and children, and, but for the unceasing toil of the patient mother, his children might have often asked for bread in vain.
So low had he now fallen that almost every evening found him in some low haunt of drunkenness and dissipation; and often upon returning to his home he would assail his gentle wife with harsh and unfeeling language. Many there were who advised Mrs. Harland to return with her children to her parents, who were in affluent circumstances, but she still cherished the hope that he would yet reform. "I pray daily for my erring husband," she would often say, "and I feel an assurance that, sooner or later, my prayers will be answered; and I cannot feel it my duty to forsake him." But on this evening, as she sits thus alone, her mind is filled with thoughts of the past, which she cannot help contrasting with the miserable present, till her reverie is interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps, which she soon recognizes as those of her husband; she is much surprised—for it is long, very long, since he has returned to his home at so early an hour—and, as he enters the room, her surprise increases when she perceives that he is perfectly sober. As he met her wondering gaze a kind expression rested upon his countenance, and he addressed her saying: "I do not wonder at your astonishment, dear Mary, when I call to mind my past misconduct. I have been a fiend in human shape thus to ill-treat and neglect the best of wives; but I have made a resolve, 'God helping' me, that it shall be so no longer." Seating himself by her side, he continued: "If you will listen to me, Mary, I will tell you what caused me to form this resolution. When I went out this evening I at once made my way to the public house, where I have spent so much of my time and money. Money, I had none, and, worse than this, was owing the landlord a heavy bill. Of late he had assailed me with duns every time I entered the house; but so craving was the appetite for drink that each returning evening still found me among the loungers in the bar-room, trusting to my chance of meeting with some companion who would call for a treat. It so happened that to-night none of my cronies were present. When the landlord found that I was still unable to settle the 'old score,' as he termed it, he abused me in no measured terms; but I still lingered in sight of the coveted beverage; and knowing my inability to obtain it my appetite increased in proportion. At length, I approached the bar, and begged him to trust me for one more glass of brandy. I will not wound your ears by repeating his reply; and he concluded by ordering me from the house, telling me also never to enter it again till I was able to settle the long score already against me. The fact that I had been turned from the door, together with his taunting language, stung me almost to madness. I strolled along, scarce knowing or caring whither, till I found myself beyond the limits of the city; and seating myself by the roadside I gazed in silent abstraction over the moonlit landscape; and as I sat thus I fell into a deep reverie. Memory carried me back to my youthful days, when everything was bright with joyous hope and youthful ambition. I recalled the time when I wooed you from your pleasant country home, and led you to the altar, a fair young bride, and there pledged myself before God and man to love, honour and cherish you, till death should us part. Suddenly, as if uttered by an audible voice, I seemed to hear the words 'William Harland, how have you kept your vows?' At that moment I seemed to suddenly awake to a full sense of my fallen and degraded position. What madness, thought I, has possessed me all this time, thus to ruin myself and those dear to me? And for what? for the mere indulgence of a debasing appetite. I rose to my feet, and my step grew light with my new-formed resolution, that I would break the slavish fetters that had so long held me captive; and now, my dear wife, if you can, forgive the past and aid me in my resolutions for amendment there is hope for me yet." Mrs. Harland was only too happy to forgive her erring but now truly penitent husband; but she trembled for the future, knowing how often he had formerly made like resolutions, but to break them. She endeavoured, however, to be hopeful, and to encourage him by every means which affection could devise.
Through the influence of friends, his former employers were induced to give him another trial. He had many severe struggles with himself ere he could refrain from again joining his dissipated companions; but his watchful wife would almost every evening form some little plan of her own for his amusement, that he might learn to love his home. In a short time their prospects for the future grew brighter, his wife began to smile again; and his children, instead of fleeing from his approach, as they had formerly done, now met him upon his return home with loving caresses and lively prattle. Some six months after this happy change, Mrs. Harland one evening noticed that her husband seemed very much downcast and dejected. After tea, she tried vainly to interest him in conversation.
He had a certain nervous restlessness in his manner, which always troubled her, knowing, as she did, that it was caused by the cravings of that appetite for strong drink, which at times still returned with almost overwhelming force. About eight o'clock he took down his hat preparatory to going out. She questioned him as to where he was going, but could obtain no satisfactory reply; her heart sank within her; but she was aware that remonstrance would be useless. She remained for a few moments, after he left the house, in deep thought, then suddenly rising she exclaimed aloud, "I will at least make one effort to save him." She well knew that should he take but one glass, all his former resolves would be as nothing. As she gained the street she observed her husband a short distance in advance of her, and walking hastily she soon overtook him, being careful to keep on the opposite side of the street, that she might be unobserved by him. She had formed no definite purpose in her mind; she only felt that she must endeavor to save him by some means. As they drew nigh the turn of the street she saw two or three of his former associates join him, and one of them addressed him, saying, "Come on, Harland; I thought you would get enough of the cold water system. Come on, and I'll stand treat to welcome you back among your old friends." For a moment he paused as if irresolute; then his wife grew sick at heart, as she saw him follow his companions into a drinking saloon near at hand. Mrs. Harland was by nature a delicate and retiring woman; for a moment she paused; dare she go further? Her irresolution was but momentary, for the momentous consequences at stake gave her a fictitious courage. She quickly approached the door, which at that moment some one in the act of leaving the house threw wide open, and she gained a view of her husband in the act of raising a glass to his lips; but ere he had tasted its fiery contents it was dashed from his hand, and the shattered fragments scattered upon the floor. Mr. Harland, supposing it the act of one of his half-drunken companions, turned with an angry exclamation upon his lips; but the expression of anger upon his countenance suddenly gave place to one of shame and humiliation when he saw his wife standing before him, pale but resolute. In a subdued voice he addressed her, saying, "Mary, how came you here?" "Do not blame me, William," she replied; "for I could not see you again go astray without, at least, making an effort to save you. And now will you not return with me to your home?" The other occupants of the room had thus far remained silent since the entrance of Mrs. Harland; but when they saw that Mr. Harland was about to leave the house by her request, they began taunting him with his want of spirit in being thus ruled by a woman. One of them, who was already half drunk, staggered toward him, saying, "I'd just like to see my old woman follerin' me round in this way. I'll be bound I'd teach her a lesson she would'nt forget in a hurry," Many similar remarks were made by one and another present. The peculiar circumstances in which Mrs. Harland found herself placed gave her a degree of fortitude, of which upon ordinary occasions she would have found herself incapable. Raising her hand with an imperative gesture she said in a firm voice: "Back tempters, hinder not my husband from following the dictates of his better nature." For a few moments there was silence in the room, till one of the company, more drunken and insolent than the others, exclaimed in a loud, derisive voice; "Zounds, madam, but you would make a capital actress, specially on the tragedy parts; you should seek an engagement upon the stage." Mr. Harland's eyes flashed angrily as he listened to the insulting words addressed to his wife, and, turning to the man who had spoken, he addressed him, saying, in a decided tone of voice: "I wish to have no harsh language in this room while my wife is present, but I warn each one of you to address no more insulting language to her." The manner in which Mr. Harland addressed them, together with the gentle and lady-like appearance of his wife had the effect to shame them into silence. His voice was very tender as he again addressed his wife, saying, "Come Mary I will accompany you home—this is no place for you." When they gained the street the unnatural courage which had sustained Mrs. Harland gave way, and she would have fallen to the earth, but for the supporting arm of her husband. For a few moments they walked on in silence, when Mr. Harland said, in a voice choked with emotion, "You have been my good angel, Mary, for your hand it was which saved me from violating a solemn oath; but I now feel an assurance that I have broken the tempter's chains forever." I am happy to add that from this hour he gained a complete victory over the evil habit which well-nigh had proved his ruin; and in after years, when peace and prosperity again smiled upon them, he often called to mind the evening when his affectionate and devoted wife, by her watchful love, saved him from ruin, and perchance from the drunkard's grave.
It was a sad day for Emma Ashton, when, with her widowed mother, she turned from her father's new-made grave, and again entered their desolate home. None but those who have experienced a like sorrow can fully understand their grief as they entered their now lonely home, where a short time since they had been so happy. But the ways of Providence are, to our feeble vision, often dark and incomprehensible, and the only way by which we can reconcile ourselves to many trials which we are called to endure is by remembering that there is a "need be" for every sorrow which falls to our lot, in the journey of life. Emma was an only child and had been the idol of her father's heart, and no marvel if the world, to her, looked dark and dreary when he was removed by death. Added to the grief occasioned by their bereavement, the mother and daughter had yet another cause for anxiety and disquietude, for the home where they had dwelt for so many years in the enjoyment of uninterrupted happiness was now no longer theirs. Since quite a young man, Mr. Ashton had held the position of overseer, in a large manufactory in the village of W. Owing to his sober and industrious habits he had saved money sufficient to enable him, at the period of his marriage, to purchase a neat and tasteful home, to which he removed with his young wife. He still continued his industry, and began in a small way to accumulate money, when, unfortunately, he was persuaded by one whom he thought a friend to sign bank-notes with him to a large amount; but, ere the notes became due, the man he had obliged left the country, and he was unable to gain any trace of him, and was soon called upon to meet the claim. Bank-notes must be paid, and to raise money to meet the claim he was forced to mortgage his house for nearly its full value. His health failed; and for two years previous to his death he was unable to attend to his business. The term of the mortgage was five years, which time expired soon after his death. During the few last weeks of his life his mind was very much disturbed regarding the destitute condition in which he must leave his beloved wife and daughter; for he was too well acquainted with the man who held the claim to expect any lenity to his family when it should become due, and he was sensible that the hour of his own death was fast approaching. His wife tried to cheer him by hopeful words, saying: "Should it please our Heavenly Father to remove you, fear not that He will fail to care for the fatherless and widow." A short time before his death a sweet peace and hopeful trust settled over his spirit, and the religion he had sought in health afforded him a firm support in the hour of death. When all was over, and the mother and daughter found themselves left alone, their fortitude well-nigh forsook them, and they felt almost like yielding to a hopeless sorrow. Emma was at this time but fifteen years of age, possessed of much personal beauty, and also a very amiable and affectionate disposition. Since the age of six years she had attended school, and made rapid progress in her various studies till the sad period of her father's death. As Mr. Ashton had foreseen, Mr. Tompkins, the man who held the mortgage, soon called upon the widow, informing her that the time had already expired, and, unless she found herself able to meet the claim, her dwelling was legally his property; but, as a great favor, he granted her permission to occupy the house till she could make some arrangement concerning the future, giving her, however, distinctly to understand, that he wished to take possession as soon as she could find another home. Mrs. Ashton thanked him for the consideration he had shown her, little as it was, telling him she would as soon as possible seek another home, however humble it might be; and Mr. Tompkins departed with a polite bow and a bland smile upon his countenance, well pleased that he had got the matter settled with so little difficulty. I presume he never once paused to think of the grief-stricken widow and her fatherless daughter, whom he was about to render homeless. Money had so long been his idol that tender and benevolent emotions were well-nigh extinguished in his world-hardened heart. For a long time after Mr. Tompkins left the house Mrs. Ashton remained in deep thought. There are, dear reader, dark periods in the lives of most of us, when, turn which way we will, we find ourselves surrounded, as by a thick hedge, with difficulties and troubles from which we see no escape.
At such periods it is good for us to call to mind the fact, that the darkest cloud often has a silver lining, and that if we discharged, to the best of our ability, our duties for the time being, the cloud, sooner or later, will be reversed, and display its bright side to our troubled view. The time had now arrived, when Mrs. Ashton must come to some decision regarding the future. She had no friends to whom she could turn for aid or counsel in this season of trial. When quite young she had emigrated from England with her parents and one sister, and settled in Eastern Canada. About the time of her marriage and removal to W. her parents, with her sister, removed to one of the Western States; and it may be the knowledge that she must rely solely upon herself enabled her to meet her trials with more fortitude than might have been expected. Some fifty miles from W. was the large and thriving village of Rockford, and thither Mrs. Ashton at length decided to remove. One reason for this decision was the excellent institution for the education of young ladies, which was there located. She was very anxious that her daughter should obtain a good education, but was sorely puzzled as to raising the money needful for defraying her expenses. There were a few debts due her husband at the time of his death; these she collected with little difficulty. Their dwelling had been handsomely furnished, and she decided to sell the furniture, as she could easily, upon their arrival at Rockford, purchase what articles were necessary for furnishing their new home, which must, of necessity, be humble. One article she felt they must retain if possible, and that was the piano given her by her father at the period of her marriage. She did at first entertain the idea of parting with it, thinking how far the money it would bring would go in defraying the expenses attendant upon Emma's education, but upon second consideration, she resolved that they would not part with her father's parting gift to her, unless compelled to do so by actual want; and so when their old home was broken up the piano was carefully packed and forwarded to Rockford. The home where they had resided so long was very dear to them, and it would have grieved them, to leave it at any time; but to leave at the glad season of spring, when the trees which shaded their dwelling were beginning to put forth their leaves, and the flowers which adorned their garden were bursting into bloom, seemed to them doubly sad. But their preparations for removal were finally completed, and they left their home followed by the good wishes of many who had long known and loved them. Upon their arrival at Rockford, Mrs. Ashton hired a cheap tenement in a respectable locality, which she furnished in a plain but decent manner. When they became settled in their new home they had still in hand money sufficient to secure them from immediate want, but as Mrs. Ashton wished Emma to enter at once upon her studies, she was very anxious to devise some means of earning money to meet necessary expenses. There was one family residing in Rockford with whom Mrs. Ashton had several years before been intimately acquainted: their name was Lebaron, and they had at one time resided in the same village with the Ashtons. Mr. Lebaron had opened a store upon removing to Rockford; the world had smiled upon him, and he was now considered one of the most wealthy and influential men in the village.
It has been often said that "prosperity hardens the heart of man," but if such is the case in general, Mr. Lebaron proved an exception to the general rule. He had heard with much sorrow of the death of Mr. Ashton, and also of the other misfortunes which had overtaken the family; and no sooner did he learn of the arrival of the widow and daughter in Rockford, than, accompanied by his wife, he hastened to call upon them, to renew their former acquaintance, and in a delicate and considerate manner to enquire if he could assist them in any way? Mrs. Ashton thanked them for their kindness, saying that although in no immediate need of assistance, yet she would be very thankful if they would assist her in obtaining employment. "If such is the case," replied Mrs. Lebaron, "I can easily secure you employment, as I am acquainted with many ladies who give out work, and will gladly use my influence in your favor." "You will confer a favour upon me by so doing," replied Mrs. Ashton, "for I must rely upon my labor for a support for the future." Through the influence of these kind friends Mrs. Ashton soon obtained an abundant supply of work; and, when she became somewhat acquainted with the people of Rockford, her gentle and unobtrusive manner gained her many warm friends. Agreeable to her mother's wishes, Emma soon became a pupil in the seminary for young ladies, which was at that time under the direction of Miss Hinton, a lady who possessed uncommon abilities as a teacher, and was also aided by several competent assistants. Mrs. Lebaron had two daughters attending the institution at the time, and this circumstance, in a great measure, relieved Emma from the feeling of diffidence she might have experienced in entering a large school a stranger to both teachers and pupils; but her modest and unassuming manners, added to her diligence in study, soon caused her to become a general favorite with her teachers. In schools, as well as other places, we often meet with those who are inclined to be jealous of merit superior to their own, and the seminary at Rockford was no exception in this matter. Her teachers were guilty of no unjust partiality; true, they oftener commended her than some other members of her class, but not oftener than her punctual attendance, perfect recitations, and correct deportment generally, justified them in doing. But it soon became evident that, if Emma was a favourite with her teachers, she was far from being such with many members of her class. At the time she entered school Miss Hinton found, after examining her in her various studies, that her attainments were already superior to those of several young ladies who had been for some time members of the school. Among the pupils who at the time attended the institution was a Miss Carlton, from the distant city of H. She was the petted and only child of wealthy parents; and, as is often the case, her disposition, which, under proper training, might have been amiable, had been spoiled by unwise indulgence on the part of her parents. Her capacity for learning was not good; she was also sadly wanting in application, and, at the time Emma entered the school, although Miss Carlton had attended for more than a year, her progress in study was far from being satisfactory to her teachers. She was at much pains to inform her classmates of her wealth and position, seeming to entertain the idea that this would cover every defect. Owing to Emma's superior attainments, compared with her own, she soon learned to regard her with a feeling of absolute dislike, which she took little pains to conceal; and many were the petty annoyances she endured from the vain and haughty Julia Carlton. She soon learned that Emma was poor, and that her mother toiled early and late to defray the expenses of her education; and more than once she threw out hints regarding this fact, among the other pupils, even in hearing of Emma; and, as often as opportunity offered, she slighted the unoffending girl, and treated her with all the rudeness of which she was capable. "Let those who wish associate with Miss Ashton," she would often say to her companions; "but I am thankful that I have been better taught at home than to make a companion of a girl whose mother is obliged to take in sewing to pay her school bills." These and other remarks equally malicious were daily made by Miss Carlton; and I am sorry that she soon found others in the school who were weak enough to be influenced by her also to treat Emma with coldness and contempt. Emma could not long fail to notice the many slights, both direct and indirect, which she endured from many members of the school, and she taxed her memory to recall any act by which she might have given offence; but, finding herself unable to recollect any thing on her part which could have offended any member of the school, she was not a little puzzled to account for the rudeness with which she was treated. It happened one day that during recess she remained at her desk in the school-room to complete an unfinished French exercise. Several of her companions soon after entered the adjoining recitation room, and, as they were not aware of her proximity, she became an unwilling listener to a conversation which pained her deeply. As Sarah Lebaron entered the room one of the girls addressed her, saying:—"When you first introduced Miss Ashton among us, I supposed her to be at least a companionable girl, but I have lately been informed that she resides in a cheap tenement, and, farther, that her mother takes in sewing, and, if such is the case, I wish to cultivate no further acquaintance with her." "But then," added another girl, "Miss Hinton thinks her almost a saint, and sets her up as a model for us all; if there's any thing I do detest, it's these model girls, and I don't believe she's half as fond of study as she pretends; and, in my opinion, its only to hear the commendations of the teachers that she applies herself with such diligence; but Miss Hinton is so taken with her meek face and lady-like manners that she places her above us all, and, I suppose, we must submit, for as the old song says:
'What can't be cured must be endured.'
"Well, I for one shall try some method of cure, before I put up with much more of her impudence and assumption," chimed in the amiable Miss Carlton; "pay attention now, girls," continued she, "while I take my place in the class like Emma Ashton;" and separating herself from her companions, she crossed the room to one of the class-seats, with such a ludicrous air of meekness and decorum, that the girls were almost convulsed with laughter. Starting up and tossing her book from her hand she exclaimed, "It is so disgusting to see a girl in her position put on such airs." Miss Lebaron had not before spoken, but, when at length there was silence, she addressed her companions, saying, "if no other young lady present has any further remarks to make, I will myself say a few words if you will listen to me. I must say, I am surprised at the unkindness, even rudeness, which many of you have exhibited towards Miss Ashton. If she is poor it is death, and other misfortunes, which have caused her to become so; and this circumstance should excite your sympathy, but surely not your contempt and ridicule. Poor as she is, she is my friend, and I am proud to claim her as such. As to her being companionable that is a matter of taste; I shall continue to follow mine, and each young lady present is at liberty to do the same; but be assured that unless you can furnish some more satisfactory reason for your disparaging remarks than you have yet done, they will bear no weight with me." With much irony in her voice Miss Carlton replied, "Really, Miss Lebaron, I am unable to reply to your very able defence of your charming friend, and will only say that I shall avail myself of the liberty you have kindly granted us, for each to follow her own taste in the choice of associates, and avoid Miss Ashton as much as possible." "As you please," replied Miss Lebaron, "it is a matter of perfect indifference to me;" and just then the school bell put an end to further conversation. As may be easily supposed, the delicate and sensitive spirit of Emma was deeply wounded by the above conversation; and it was with much difficulty that she maintained her composure for the remaining portion of the day. For once her lessons were imperfect; and with a heavy heart she returned to her home. That evening she, for the first time, mentioned to her mother the daily annoyances she suffered from her companions at school; and concluded by relating the conversation she had that day chanced to overhear. Mrs. Ashton could not feel otherwise than grieved; but as much as possible she concealed the feeling from her daughter. "My dear Emma," she replied, "their unkind words can do you no real harm; although they may render you unhappy for the time being. But keep the even tenor of your way; and they will, probably, after a time become ashamed of their folly. Should they make any further remarks regarding my laboring to give you an education, you may tell them that I esteem it at one of my chief blessings that I have health granted me so to do." Time passed on; and the invariable kindness with which Emma treated her classmates finally gained her several warm friends; and some of them even apologised for their past unkindness. Miss Carlton still regarded her with a feeling of enmity and dislike; but as Emma seemed not to notice the many annoyances she experienced she was at length forced to desist, although the same resentful feeling remained in her heart. When Emma left the seminary, after attending it for four years, her departure was deeply regretted by both teachers and pupils. As she had pursued her studies in a very systematic manner, she had acquired, before leaving school, a thoroughly good education, which she intended turning to account by teaching. Miss Carlton also left school at the same time to return to her elegant home in the city of H. It was fortunate for her that she was not obliged, as was Emma, to teach as a means of support; for, notwithstanding the unwearied pains of her teachers, her education, when she left school, was very superficial. Emma soon obtained a situation as teacher in a small village some twenty miles from Rockford, where she remained for two years. During her absence, her mother, to avoid being left alone, received as boarders two or three young ladies who attended school in the village. Emma's success as a teacher became so well known that she was at length offered a high salary to accept of the position of assistant teacher in an academy in the city of H., the same city where Miss Carlton resided. As the salary offered was very liberal, she decided to accept of the position, and as situation was likely to prove a permanent one she was very anxious that her mother should accompany her; and after some deliberation upon the subject, Mrs. Ashton consented, thinking they would both much happier together than otherwise. Emma proved quite as successful in this her second situation as in the first; and owing to her position as teacher she soon formed acquaintance with several families of cultivated tastes and high respectability. She often received invitations to parties; but her tastes were quiet, and she usually preferred spending her evenings with her mother in the quiet of their own home, to mingling in scenes of mirth and gaiety; and it was only upon a few occasions that she attended parties, that her friends might not think her unsocial. At one of these parties she chanced to meet her former schoolmate, Miss Carlton, whose only sign of recognition was a very formal bow. This gave her no uneasiness; she cherished no malice towards Miss Carlton; but her ideas and tastes so widely differed from her own that she did not covet her friendship, even had she been inclined to grant it her. Meanwhile, with the widow and her daughter, time passed happily away. Emma's salary was more than sufficient for their support, and they were happy in the society of each other. There was one family, by the name of Milford, who had treated them with much kindness since their residence in the city. Mrs. Milford at first placed two little girls under Emma's instruction, and thus began an acquaintance which soon ripened into intimate friendship; for, although occupying a position of wealth and influence, Mrs. Milford was one of the few who place "mind above matter," and respected true worth wherever she met with it. Her eldest daughter, having finished her education at a distant boarding school, returned home about the same time her two sisters were placed in charge of Emma; and the little girls were so eloquent in their praises of their teacher, that their elder sister became interested, and decided to call upon her at her home; and the lady-like appearance of both mother and daughter, together with the appearance of good taste which their home exhibited, strongly interested her in their favor.
Some six months previous to the period of which I am writing a young physician from the Upper Province located himself in the city of H. for the practice of his profession. According to common report, he was wealthy, and the study of a profession had with him been a matter not of necessity but of choice. Owing to his pleasing manners, as well as his reputed wealth, he soon became an object of much interest to many of the match-making mammas and marriageable young ladies of the city of H. He was soon favored with numerous invitations to attend parties, where he formed acquaintance with most of the young people in the fashionable circles of the city; and he soon became a general favorite in society. Among others, he attended a large party given by the Carltons, and by this means became acquainted with the family. He had called occasionally, and during one of those calls Mrs. Carlton very feelingly lamented that her daughter was often obliged to forego the pleasure of attending concerts, lectures and other places of public amusement for want of a suitable escort; and courtesy to the family would of course allow him to do no less than offer to become her attendant upon such occasions. Mrs. Carlton, however, put a very different construction upon these slight attentions, and already looked upon him as her future son-in-law. When Dr. Winthrop had resided for about a year in the city, the Milfords also gave a large party, and Miss Ashton was included among their guests. The party was a brilliant affair, for the Milfords were a family of wealth and high social position. The young physician was among their guests; and Miss Carlton managed some way or other to claim his attention most of the evening. There was the usual amount of small talk, common to such occasions; about the usual number of young ladies were invited to sing and play, and, as usual, they were either out of practice or were afflicted with "bad colds." But it so happened that several young ladies who at the first begged to be excused, after much persuasion allowed themselves to be conducted to the piano, and played till it was evident from the manner of many that the music had become an infliction instead of a pleasure. When after a time Miss Ashton was invited to play, she took the vacant seat at the piano without any of the usual apologies; and began playing the prelude to a much admired song of the day; and before she reached the close of the first verse there was a hush through the room, and the countenance of each evinced the pleasure with which they listened to her performance. As she rose from the instrument Dr. Winthrop addressed Miss Carlton, saying: "Can you inform me who is that young lady? I never met her before; but she has favored us with the first real music I have listened to this evening." The young physician was not wanting in politeness, and he certainly must have forgotten that Miss Carlton occupied the seat at the piano a short time before. That young lady colored with anger as she replied: "Her name is Miss Ashton, and I understand she is engaged as an assistant teacher in one of the Academies in the city." "It is singular," replied Dr. Winthrop, "that I have never before met her at any of the numerous parties I have attended during the past year." "There is nothing very singular in that," replied Miss Carlton, "for I presume she is not often invited to fashionable parties, and I suppose it is owing to Mrs. Milford's two little girls being her pupils that we find her among their guests; but as you seem so much interested, I will tell you all I know of the person in question. When I attended school in Rockford, Miss Ashton was a pupil in the same institution; but, when I learned that her mother, who is a widow, took in sewing, to pay her school bills, I did not care to cultivate her acquaintance. She left school about the same time with myself, and I heard no more of her till she obtained a situation in this city." "Pardon me," replied the young physician; "but I see nothing in what you have stated that is in the least disparaging to the young lady; and I should be much pleased to make her acquaintance." "Our ideas slightly vary, in these matters," replied Miss Carlton, with a haughty toss of her head; "but I will not detain you from seeking the introduction for which you seem so anxious. I am sorry I cannot oblige you by introducing you myself; but as I did not associate with her when at school, I am still leas inclined to do so at the present time; I hope, however, you may find her an agreeable acquaintance;" and with a haughty manner she swept from his side in quest of companions whose tastes were more congenial. Dr. Winthrop obtained the desired introduction; and if Miss Carlton indulged the hope that he would find Miss Ashton an agreeable acquaintance, there was soon a fair prospect that her wishes would be realized; for the marked attention which Dr. Winthrop paid the lovely and engaging Miss Ashton soon formed the chief topic of conversation among the circle of their acquaintances. For once, public rumor was correct. Dr. Winthrop was very wealthy; but when a mere youth he had a decided taste for the study of medicine; and his parents allowed him to follow the bent of his own inclinations, in fitting himself for a profession for which he entertained so strong a liking. He had an uncle residing in a distant city, who was also a physician of high reputation, and, after passing through the necessary course of study, he had practiced his profession for two years under the direction of his uncle, before removing to the city of H. Up to the time when we introduced him to the reader matrimony was a subject to which he had never given a serious thought, and until he met with Miss Ashton he had never felt any personal interest in the matter. From what I have already said the reader will not be surprised to learn that the acquaintance begun at Mrs. Milford's party terminated in a matrimonial engagement; with the free consent of all who had a right to a voice in the matter. When the matter became known it caused quite a sensation in the circles in which Dr. Winthrop had moved since his residence in the city; but, happily for him, he was possessed of too independent a spirit to suffer any annoyance from any malicious remarks which chanced to reach his ears. When Miss Carlton first learned of the engagement, she indulged in a long fit of spiteful tears, to the imminent risk of appearing with red eyes at the forthcoming evening party. In due time the marriage took place; and the young physician and his lovely bride set out on their wedding tour amid the congratulations and good wishes of many true friends. After their departure Mrs. Carlton remarked to several of her 'dear friends' "that she had long since discovered that Dr. Winthrop was not possessed of refined tastes; and for her part she thought Miss Ashton much better suited to be his wife than many others which she could name." Had the doctor been present to express his sentiments regarding this matter, they would in all probability have exactly agreed with those already expressed by Mrs. Carlton. During their wedding tour, which occupied several weeks, they visited many places of note, both in Canada and the United States. Upon their return to the city Dr. Winthrop purchased an elegant house in a central location, which he furnished in a style justified by his abundant means; and with his wife and her mother removed thither.
In conclusion, we will again bestow a passing glance upon this happy family after the lapse of some twenty years. We find Dr. Winthrop now past the meridian of life, surrounded by an interesting family of sons and daughters, whom he is endeavoring to train for spheres of usefulness in this life, as well as for happiness in the "life to come." His graceful and dignified wife still gladdens his heart and home. Time has dealt very gently with her; she is quite as good and almost as beautiful as when we last saw her twenty years ago. The two eldest of their family are boys, and this is their last year in College. Mrs. Winthrop has thus far attended herself to the education of her two daughters. Along with many other useful lessons, she often seeks to impress upon their minds the sin and folly of treating with contempt and scorn those who may be less favored than themselves in a worldly point of view; and to impress the lesson more strongly upon their young minds, she has more than once spoken to them of her own early history, and of the trials to which she was subject in her youthful days. But what of Mrs. Ashton? She still lives; although her once active form is beginning to bow beneath the weight of years, and her hair has grown silvery white. This year Dr. Winthrop has completed his preparations for leaving the city after more than twenty years close application to his profession. He resolved to remove with his family to some quiet country village, which would afford sufficient practice to prevent time from hanging heavily upon his hands; but he now felt quite willing to resign his fatiguing and extensive practice in the city. When he first formed the idea of seeking a country home, he enquired of his wife, if she had any choice regarding a location. "If it meets your wishes," replied she, "no other place would please me so well as the village of W, the home of my childhood and youth, and where my dear father is buried." He soon after made a journey to W, and was so much pleased with the thriving appearance of the village, and the industry and sobriety of the inhabitants, that he decided to seek there a home. Before he left his home, his wife requested him, should he decide upon removing to W, if possible to re-purchase their old home, knowing how much this would please her now aged mother. The purchase was soon completed, and ere he left the village the old house was in the hands of workmen, with his instructions as to improvements and repairs. Mrs. Ashton was very happy when she learned that they were to return to W. "I have been happy here," said she, "but I shall be still happier there." In a short time they removed from the city to take possession of the "dear old home" in W, now enlarged and adorned in various ways; but the same clear brook still flowed at the foot of the garden, and the same trees, only that they were older, and their branches had grown more wide spreading, shaded the dwelling. As they passed beneath the shade of those well-remembered trees, Mrs. Winthrop addressed her mother, saying, "Do you remember, mamma, how sad we felt the morning we left our home so many years ago, and we little thought it would ever again be ours." Mrs. Ashton gazed fondly upon her daughter and the blooming children at her side, as she replied in the language of the Psalmist, "I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread."
THOUGHTS ON AUTUMN.
Again has the season of Autumn arrived. The stated changes of the seasons serve as monitors to remind us of the flight of time; and upon such occasions the most unthinking can hardly avoid pausing to reflect upon the past, the present, and the probable future. Autumn has been properly styled the "Sabbath of the year." Its scenes are adapted to awaken sober and profitable reflection; and the voice with which it appeals to our reflective powers is deserving of regard. This season is suggestive of thoughts and feelings which are not called forth by any other; standing, as it were, a pause between life and death; holding in its lap the consummate fruits of the earth, which are culled by the hand of prudence and judgment, some to be garnered in the treasury of useful things, while others are allowed to return to their primitive elements. When spring comes smiling o'er the earth, she breathes on the ice-bound waters, and they flow anew. Frost and snow retreat before her advancing footsteps. The earth is clothed with verdure, and the trees put forth their leaves. Again, a few short months, and where has all this beauty fled? The trees stand firm as before; but, with every passing breeze, a portion of their once green leaves now fall to the ground. We behold the bright flowers, which beautify the earth, open their rich petals, shed their fragrance on the breeze, and then droop and perish. Sad emblem of the perishing nature of all things earthly. May we not behold in the fading vegetation, and the falling leaves of autumn, a true type of human life? Truly "we all do fade as a leaf." Life at the best is but a shadow that passes quickly away. Why then this love of gain, this thirst for fame and distinction? Let us approach yonder church-yard and there seek for distinction. There we may behold marble tablets cold as the clay which rests beneath them: their varied inscriptions of youth, beauty, age, ambition, pride and vanity, are all here brought to one common level, like the leaves which in autumn fall to the earth, not one pre-eminent over another. The inspired writers exhibit the frailty of man by comparing him to the grass and the flowers withering and dying under the progress and vicissitudes of the year; and with the return of autumn we may behold in the external appearance of nature the changes to which the sacred penman refers, when he says, "So is man. His days are as grass; as a flower of the field so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." Autumn too, is the season of storms. Let this remind us of the storms of life. Scattered around us, are the wrecks of the tempests which have beaten upon others, and we cannot expect always ourselves to be exempt. Autumn is also the season of preparation for winter. Let us remember that the winter of death is at hand, and let us be impressed with the importance of making preparation for its approach. Let us then, as we look upon the changed face of nature, take home the lesson which it teaches; and, while we consider the perishable nature of all things pertaining to this life, may we learn to prepare for another and a happier state of being.
It was while I was spending a few days in the dwelling of Mr. C., a Scottish immigrant, that he received a long letter from his friends in Scotland. After perusing the letter he addressed his wife, saying: "So auld Davy's gone at last." "Puir man," replied Mrs. C. "If he's dead let us hope that he has found that rest and peace which has been so long denied him in this life." "And who was old Davy? may I enquire," said I, addressing Mr. C. "Ay, man," he replied, "tis a sad story; but when my work is by for the night, I'll tell ye a' that I ken o' the life o' Davy Stuart." I was then young and very imaginative; and a story of any kind possessed much interest for me; and the thought that the story of Old Davy was to be a true one, rendered it doubly interesting; so I almost counted the hours of the remaining portion of the day; and when evening came I was not slow to remind Mr. C. of his promise. Accordingly he related to me the following particulars of the life of David Stuart; which I give, as nearly as possible, in his own words; for it seems to me that the story would lose half its interest were I to render it otherwise.
"Davy Stuart was an aul' man when I was a wee boy at the school. I had aye been used wi' him; for he often bided wi' us for days thegither; and while a boy I gave little heed to his odd ways an' wanderin' mode o' life; for he was very kind to mysel' an' a younger brither, an' we thought muckle o' him; but when we had grown up to manhood my father tell'd us what had changed Davy Stuart from a usefu' an' active man to the puir demented body he then was. He was born in a small parish in the south of Scotland, o' respectable honest parents, who spared nae pains as he grew up to instruct him in his duty to baith God an' man. At quite an early age he was sent to the parish school; where he remained maist o' the time till he reached the age o' fourteen years. At that time he was apprenticed to learn the trade o' a shoemaker, in a distant town. It wad seem that he served his time faithfully, an' gained a thorough knowledge o' his trade. Upon leaving his master, after paying a short visit to his native parish, he gie'd awa' to the City of Glasgow, to begin the warld for himself. He continued steady and industrious, and was prospered accordingly; and at the age o' twenty-five he had saved considerable money. It was about this time, that he was married to a worthy young woman, to whom he had been long deeply attached. They had but one bairn, a fine boy, who was the delight o' his father's heart, and I hae heard it said by they who kenn'd them at the time, that a bonnier or mair winsome hoy could'na hae been found in the city, than wee Geordie Stuart. Time gied on till Geordie was near twelve year aul', when it began to be talked o' among Mr. Stuart's friends that he was becoming owre fond o' drink. How the habit was first formed naebody could tell; but certain it was, that during the past year he had been often seen the war o' drink. His wife, puir body, admonished an' entreated him to break awa' frae the sinfu' habit, and he often, when moved by her tears, made resolutions o' amendment, which were broken maist as soon as made; an' it was during a longer season o' sobriety than was usual wi' him, that his wife thinkin' if he was once awa' frae the great city he would be less in the way o' temptation, persuaded him to leave Glasgow an' remove to the sma' village o' Mill-Burn, a little way frae the farm which my father rented.
"I well mind, said my father, o' the time when they first cam' among us, an' how kin' was a' the neebors, to his pale sad-lookin' wife and the bonny light-hearted Geordie, who was owre young at the time, to realize to its fu' extent the sad habit into which his father had fa'n. When Mr. Stuart first came to our village he again took up his aul' habits o' industry, an' for a long time would'na taste drink ava; but when the excitement o' the sudden change had worn off, his aul' likin' for strong drink cam' back wi' fu' force, an' he, puir weak man, had'na the strength o' mind to withstand it. He soon became even war than before; his money was a' gane, he did'na work, so what was there but poverty for his wife an' child. But it is useless for me to linger o'er the sad story. When they had lived at Mill-Burn a little better than a twelve month; his wife died, the neebors said o' a broken heart. A wee while afore her death she ca'd Davy to her bed-side, an' once mair talked lang an' earnestly to him o' the evil habit which had gotten sic a hold o' him, an' begged him for the sake o' their dear Geordie, who; she reminded him, would soon be left without a mither to care for him, to make still anither effort to free himself frae the deadly habit. I believe Davy was sincere when he promised the dyin' woman that he wad gie up drink. Wi' a' his faults, he had tenderly loved his wife, an' I hae nae doubt fully intended keepin' the promise he made her. For a lang time after her death, he was ne'er seen to enter a public house ava', an' again he applied himsel' to his wark wi' much industry. After the death o' Mrs. Stuart Geordie an' his father bided a' their lane. Their house was on the ither side o' the burn which crossed the high-road, a wee bit out o' the village. Time gie'd on for some time wi' them in this way. Davy continued sober and industrious, an' the neebors began to hae hopes that he had gotten the better o' his evil habit; he had ne'er been kenned to taste strong drink o' ony kin' sin' the death o' his wife. One evening after he an' Geordie had ta'en their suppers, he made himsel' ready to gang out, saying to Geordie that he was gaun' doon to the village for a wee while, and that he was to bide i' the house an' he would'na be lang awa'. The hours wore awa' till ten o'clock, an' he had'na cam' hame. It was aye supposed that the boy, becoming uneasy at his father's lang stay, had set out to look for him, when by some mishap, it will ne'er be kenned what way, he lost his footin', an' fell frae the end o' the narrow brig which crossed the burn. The burn was'na large, but a heavy rain had lately fa'n, an' there was aye a deep bit at one end o' the brig. He had fa'n head first into the water in sic a way that he could'na possibly won 'oot. It was a clear moonlicht night, an' when Davy reached the brig, the first thing he saw was his ain son lyin i' the water. I hae often been told that a sudden shock o' ony kind will sober a drunken man. It was sae wi' Davy; for the first neebor who, hearin' his cries for assistance, ran to the spot, found him standin i' the middle o' the brig, perfectly sober, wi' the drooned boy in his arms; although it was weel kenned that he was quite drunk when he left the village. Every means was used for the recovery o' the boy, but it was a' useless, he was quite deed an' caul'. "Ah," said Davy, when tell'd by the doctor that the boy was indeed dead, "my punishment is greater than I can bear." Geordie had aye been as "the apple o' his een"; never had he been kenned to ill use the boy, even when under the influence o' drink; and the shock was too much for his reason. Many wondered at his calmness a' the while the body lay i' the house afore the burial—but it was the calmness o' despair; he just seemed like ane turned to stane. The first thing that roused him was the sound o' the first earth that fell on puir Geordie's coffin. He gie'd ae bitter groan, an' wad' hae fa'n to the earth had'na a kind neebor supported him. His mind wandered frae that hour; he was aye harmless, but the light o' reason never cam' back to his tortured mind. Sometimes he wad sit for hours by Geordie's grave, an' fancy that he talked wi' him. On these occasions nothing wad induce him to leave the grave till some ither fancy attracted his mind. As I hae before said he was never outrageous, but seemed most o' the time, when silent, to be in deep thought; but his reason was quite gone, and the doctors allowed that his case was beyond cure. Many questioned them as to whether it were safe to allow him his liberty, lest he might do some deed o' violence; but they gave it as their opinion that his disease was'na at a' likely to tak' that turn wi' him, an' so he was left to wander on. He never bided verra lang in a place, but wandered frae house to house through a' the country-side: and every one treated him wi' kindness. The sight o' a bonny fair-haired boy aye gave him muckle pleasure, an' he wad whiles hae the idea that Geordie had cam' back to him. From the day o' Geordie's death to that o' his ain', which took place a month sine, he was ne'er kenned to taste strong drink; he could'na bear even the sight o' it. He lived to a verra great age, an' for many years they who did'na ken the story o' his early life ha'e ca'd him Wanderin' Davy. I hae noo tell'd you his story," said Mr. C. addressing me; "an' I hope it may prove a warnin' to you an' ithers o' the awfu' evils o' intemperance; an' I think it's high time my story was finished, for I see by the clock that it's growin' unco late." When the evening psalm had been sung, Mr. C. read a portion of the Scriptures and offered the usual nightly prayer, and soon after we all sought repose; but it was long ere I slept. The story I had listened to still floated through my mind, and when sleep at length closed my eyes it was to dream of "Wandering Davy," and the poor drowned boy.
LOOKING ON THE DARK SIDE.
It is an old but true saying, that "troubles come soon enough without meeting them half way." But I think my friend Mrs. Talbot had never chanced to hear this saying, old as it is; for she was extremely prone at all times to look only upon the dark side, and this habit was a source of much trouble to herself as well as her family. Mr. Talbot might properly have been called a well-to-do farmer. They were surrounded by an intelligent and interesting family; and a stranger, in taking a passing view of their home and its surroundings, would have been strongly inclined to think that happiness and contentment might be found beneath their roof; but a short sojourn in the dwelling alluded to would certainly have dispelled the illusion. This Mrs. Talbot was possessed of a most unhappy disposition. She seemed to entertain the idea that the whole world was in league to render her miserable. It has often struck me with surprise, that a person surrounded with so much to render life happy should indulge in so discontented and repining a temper as did Mrs. Talbot. She was famous for dwelling at length upon her trials, as often as she could obtain a listener; and when I first became acquainted with her I really regarded her with a feeling of pity; but after a time I mentally decided that the greater part of her grievances existed only in her own imagination. She spent a large portion of her time in deploring the sins of the whole world in general, and of her own family and immediate neighbors in particular; while she looked upon herself as having almost, if not quite, attained to perfection.
I recollect calling one day upon Mr. Talbot; he was of a very social disposition, and we engaged for a short time in a lively conversation. Mrs. Talbot was present, and, strange to tell, once actually laughed at some amusing remark made by her husband. He soon after left the room, and her countenance resumed its usual doleful expression as she addressed me, saying, "I wish I could have any hopes of Mr. Talbot; but I am afraid the last state of that man will be worse than the first." I questioned her as to her meaning; and she went on to tell me that her husband had once made a profession of religion; but she feared he was then in a "backslidden state," as she termed it. I know not how this matter might have been; but during my acquaintance with Mr. Talbot I never observed any thing in his conduct which to me seemed inconsistent with a profession of religion. He certainly excelled his wife in one thing, and that was christian charity; for he was seldom if ever heard to speak of the shortcomings of others. It is quite possible that he thought his wife said enough upon the subject to suffice for both. Mrs. Talbot made a point of visiting her neighbors, if she chanced to hear of their meeting with any trouble or misfortune. The reason she gave for so doing was that she might sympathize with them; and if sickness invaded a household Mrs. Talbot was sure to be there; but I used often to think that her friends must look upon her as one of "Job's comforters," for no sickness was so severe, no misfortune so great, that she did not prophesy something worse still. According to her own ideas she was often favored with warnings of sickness and misfortune both to her own family and others. She was also a famous believer in dreams; and often entertained her friends at the breakfast table by relating her dreams of the previous night. I remember meeting with her upon one occasion, when it struck me that her countenance wore a look of unusual solemnity, even for her, so much so, that I enquired the cause, "Ah!" said she, "we are to have sickness, perhaps death, in our family very soon; for only last night I dreamed I saw a white horse coming toward our house upon the full gallop; and to dream of a white horse is a sure sign of sickness, and the faster the horse seems in our dream to be approaching us the sooner the sickness will come." Her husband often remonstrated with her upon the folly of indulging in these idle fancies. I remember a reply he once made to some of her gloomy forebodings "I think the best way is for each one to discharge their duty in the different relations of life; and leave the future in the hands of an All-wise Providence." "That is always the way with you," was her reply. "You have grown heedless and careless with your love of the world; but you will perhaps think of my warnings when too late." Before meeting with Mrs. Talbot I had often heard the remark that none were so cheerful as the true Christian; but I soon saw that her views must be widely different. A hearty laugh she seemed to regard as almost a crime. A cheerful laugh upon any occasion would cause her to shake her head in a rueful manner, and denounce it as untimely mirth. Upon one occasion she went to hear a preacher that had lately arrived in the neighboring village. This same preacher was remarkable for drawing dismal pictures, and was very severe in his denunciations, while he quite forgot to offer a word of encouragement to the humble seeker after good. Upon the Sabbath in question Mrs. Talbot returned from church, and seated herself at the dinner table with a countenance of moot woeful solemnity. Her husband at length enquired, how she had enjoyed the sermon. "O!" replied she, "he is a preacher after my own heart, and his sermon explained all my views clearly." "Indeed," replied Mr. Talbot, "he must have a wonderful flow of language to have handled so extensive a subject, in the usual time allotted to a sermon." His answer displeased her very much. Among her other gloomy forebodings she always seemed sure of the fact that Mr. Talbot would survive her; and she replied: "That is always the way. You make light of every thing I say; and I only hope you won't have all these things to repent of when I shall be no more." Mr. Talbot seemed sorry he had wounded her feelings, and replied: "We shall both live our appointed time, and it is not for us to decide which of us will be first removed." The last time I saw Mrs. Talbot she was indulging in her anticipation of some coming calamity. I have learned from various sources, that since I last saw her she has met real afflictions of a very trying nature, even to the most hopeful; and it may be that the presence of real troubles have put to flight many which were only imaginary; and she may by this time have learned to be thankful for whatever of blessings may yet be left her in her path through life.
My schoolmate Edward Barton, or 'Ned,' as he was usually called by the boys, was such an odd character in his way, that I trust my readers will pardon me for introducing him to their notice. His father was a physician in a distant village, and was justly esteemed among the residents of the place. He had an extensive practice both in the village and surrounding country, and his time was very much occupied; and as Ned grew up he proved a source of constant anxiety to his father, who, being unable to keep him under his own eye, at length decided to send him to reside with some relatives in a farming district some twenty miles from his home. Ned's disposition was a singular compound of good and evil, and his conduct depended, in a great measure, upon the companions he associated with. He was easily persuaded, and often during his father's frequent and lengthened absences from home he played truant from school, and associated with the worst boys in the village. I well remember the morning he first entered our school. He was then about twelve years of age; but owing to his carelessness and inattention, he had made but slight progress in study. I learned afterward that he had so long borne the names of "dunce" and "blockhead" in the school he attended in his own village that he supposed himself to be really such, and made up his mind that it was useless for him to try to be anything else: and I think when our teacher first called him up for examination he was inclined to be of the same opinion. The teacher first addressed him by saying, "How far have you advanced in reading, my boy?" "Don't know, sir, never thought any thing about how far I've been." "Well, at least," replied the master, "you can tell me the names of the books you have studied, in reading and spelling." "Oh, yes," replied the boy. "I've been clean through 'Webster's Elementary and the Progressive Reader.'" "Can you tell me the subject of any of your lessons?" "I can just remember one story, about a dog that was crossing a river on a plank with a piece of meat in his mouth, and when he saw his shadder in the water, made a spring at it, and dropped the meat which he held in his mouth, and it was at once carried away by the current." "Well," said the teacher, "as you remember the story so well, you can perhaps tell me what lesson we can learn from this fable." "I thought," replied the boy, "when I read the story, that the best way is to hold on to what we are sure of, and not grab after a shadder and lose the whole." "Your idea is certainly a correct one," said the master, "and now we will turn to some other branch of study; can you cipher?" "Don't know, I never tried," replied the boy, with the greatest coolness imaginable. "Well," replied the teacher, "we will, after a time, see how you succeed, when you do try. Can you tell me what the study of Geography teaches us?" "O," said the boy, "geography tells all about the world, the folks who live in it, and 'most everything else." The master then asked him some questions regarding the divisions of land and water, and for a short time he answered with some degree of correctness. At length, while referring to the divisions of water, the master said, "Can you tell me what is a strait?" This question seemed a "puzzler" to him, and for some moments he looked downward as if studying the matter; when the question was repeated in rather a sharp tone, it seemed he thought it wiser to give an answer of some kind than none at all, and he replied: "When a river runs in a straight course, we call it straight, and when it twists and winds about, we call it crooked." "A river is not a strait," replied the teacher with the manner of one who prayed for patience. "Well! at any rate," said the boy, "straight is straight, and crooked is crooked, and that is all I know about it." It was evident from the teacher's manner that he was half inclined to think the boy was endeavoring to impose upon him by feigning ignorance; and he dismissed him to his seat for the time being, thinking, no doubt, that he had met with a case out of the common order of school experience. It seems that the boy had never before attended school with punctuality, and it required a long time, to teach him to observe anything like system, either in his conduct or studies. Our teacher, though very firm, was mild and judicious in his government; and, thinking that possibly Ned's disposition had been injured by former harshness at school, resolved to avoid inflicting corporal punishment as long as possible; and try upon him the effect of kindness and mild persuasion. He had one very annoying habit, and that was he would very seldom give a satisfactory answer if suddenly asked a direct question, and often his reply would be very absurd, sometimes bordering on downright impudence. The master noticed one afternoon, after calling the boys from their play at recess, that Ned had not entered the school-room with the