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TOWN & COUNTRY.
OR LIFE AT HOME AND ABROAD, WITHIN & WITHOUT US.
BY JOHN S. ADAMS.
SAVED BY KINDNESS THE LOVE OF ELINORE 'TIS SWEET TO BE REMEMBERED I CALL THEE MINE THE OLD TREE AND ITS LESSON VOICES FROM THE SPIRIT LAND THE BEACON LIGHT BEAR UP A WELCOME SONG TO SPRING THE HOPE OF THE FALLEN THOUGHTS THAT COME FROM LONG AGO DETERMINED TO BE RICH THE HEAVEN-SENT, HEAVEN-RETURNED FLOWERS, BRIGHT FLOWERS FORGET ME NOT WHAT IS TRUTH THE HOMESTEAD VISIT THE MARINER'S SONG LOVE'S LAST WORDS LIGHT IN DARKNESS MT. VERNON, AND THE TOMB OF WASHINGTON FREEDOM'S GATHERING SONG OF THE BIRD I CHANGE BUT IN DYING HE IS THY BROTHER THE WINE-DEALER'S CLERK ANGELINA FAREWELL, MY NATIVE LAND UNLEARNED TO LOVE WHAT WAS IT? LETTERS AND LETTER-WRITING A VISION OF REALITY JEWELS OF THE HEART LIGHT FROM A BETTER LAND POOR AND WEARY THE BANDBOX MOVEMENT NEW ENGLAND HOMES LOVE THAT WANES NOT. ONWARD COURAGEOUSLY A FOREST PIC-NIC SONG THE WARRIOR'S BRIDE THE ADVENT OF HOPE CHILD AND SIRE A BROTHER'S WELCOME THE IMMENSITY OF CREATION A VISION OF HEAVEN THERE'S HOPE FOR THEE YET SOLILOQUY OVER THE GRAVE OF A WIFE THE FUGITIVES THE UNIVERSAL JUBILEE THE BATTLE OF THE RED MEN SUNLIGHT ON THE SOUL A SONG FROM THE ABSENT TO THE LOVED ONE AT HOME TWILIGHT FOREST HYMN THE SUMMER SHOWER AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN AUTOMATON TO THE UNKNOWN DONOR OF A BOUQUET TO A SISTER IN HEAVEN I DREAMED OF THEE LAST NIGHT, LOVE THEY TELL OF HAPPY BOWERS MAN CANNOT LIVE AND LOVE NOT BETTER THAN GOLD GONE AWAY LINES TO MY MIFE CHEER UP TRUST THOU IN GOD THE MINISTRATION OF SORROW GIVING PUBLICITY TO BUSINESS THE MISSION OF KINDNESS A PLEA FOR THE FALLEN JOY BEYOND THE SUMMER DAYS ARE COMING THE MAN WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING PRIDE AND POVERTY WORDS THAT TOUCH THE INNER HEART OUR HOME SPECULATION AND ITS CONSEQUENCE RETROSPECTION NATURE'S FAIR DAUGHTER, BEAUTIFUL WATER THE TEST OF FRIENDSHIP WEEP NOT RICH AND POOR THE HOMEWARD BOUND THE POOR OF EARTH IF I DON'T OTHERS WILL NOT MADE FOR AN EDITOR HERE'S TO THE HEART THAT'S EVER BRIGHT MORNING BEAUTY THE RECOMPENSE OF GOODNESS BRIDAL SONGS THE JUG AFLOAT GIVE, AND STAY THEIR MISERY THE SPIRIT OF MAN PAUSE AND THINK LITTLE NELLY WE SHALL ALL BE HAPPY SOON REUNION THE VILLAGE MYSTERY THE WAYSIDE DEATH BEAUTY AND INNOCENCE NIGHT NOT DEAD, BUT CHANGED THE DISINHERITED THE SEASONS ALL ARE BEAUTIFUL SPRING A TEXT FOR A LIFETIME NOW CLOSE THE BOOK
TOWN AND COUNTRY.
SAVED BY KINDNESS.
A kind word is of more value than gold or precious stones.
"THEN you are here!" said a stern, gruff voice, addressing a pale, sickly-looking youth, whose frame trembled and whose lip quivered as he approached one who sat at the side of a low pine table;—it was his master, a man of about forty, of athletic form, and of power sufficient to crush the feeble youth.
"Well," he continued, "if you are sure that you gave it to him, go to bed; but mind you, whisper-breathe not the secret to a living soul, on peril of your life! You may evade my grasp, but like blood I will track you through life, and add a bitter to your every cup of sweet."
The lad had no sooner left the room than a man entered, whose carelessly arranged apparel and excited appearance indicated that something of vast importance-at least, as far as he was concerned-burthened his mind.
"Harry," he said, throwing himself upon a chair, "I fear we are betrayed-discovered—completely used up."
"Discovered!" shouted the person addressed. "How? where? why?"
"It is so, friend Harry. The boy you sent made a sad error."
"Then murder the boy!" and, clutching a dagger, he motioned to leave the room, and would have done so to plunge it in the bosom of the lad, had not his informant interfered, and thus prevented him from executing so rash and cruel an act.
"What!-I will-will do it!" he shouted, endeavoring to release himself from the hands of the other.
"Never!" was the bold, unwavering response. "Move a step, and death shall be thy doom. Seest thou that?" and the speaker drew from his bosom a richly-mounted pistol.
"Doubtless thou art right," said Harry, in a more calm manner; "the excitement of the moment urged me to desperation, and, if any but you had arisen in my path, the glistening steel should have met his heart. But, Bill, how,—I am confused, my eyes swim,—tell me, how are we discovered? Must the last act in the great drama of our fortune-making be crushed in the bud?-and who dare do it?"
"If you will restrain your indignation, I will tell you."
"A hard task, yet I will try."
"That answer will not do; you must say something more positive."
"Then I say, I will."
"Enough,—the boy Sim handed the note to the kitchen-girl."
"But, Bill, think you she suspected its contents?"
"That I cannot say, but she is inquisitive, and has been known to unseal letters committed to her care, by some ingenious way she has invented. She looked uncommonly wise when she handed it to me and said, 'Mr. Bang, that's of no small importance to you.'"
"The deuce she did! I fear she deserves the halter," said Harry.
"What, with the h off?"
"No, there is too much Caudleism in her to make her worthy of that; but this is no time for our jokes. Your suspicions are too true; but how shall we act? what plans shall we adopt?"
"None, Harry, but this;—we must act as though we were the most honest men on earth, and act not as though we suspected any of suspecting us."
"O, yes, I understand you, Bill; we must not suspect anything wrong in her."
"That's it," answered Bill, and, plunging his hand into his pocket, he drew from thence a small scrap of greasy, pocket-worn paper, and read a few words in a low whisper to his friend Harry. A nod from the latter signified his approval. He returned the mysterious memorandum to his pocket, and planting upon his head a poor, very poor apology for a hat, swung his body round a few times on his heel, and leaving the house; pushed open a small wicket-gate, and entered the street. He hurriedly trudged along, heaping silent curses upon the head of Harry's boy, the kitchen-girl, and sundry other feminine and masculine members of the human family not yet introduced to the reader.
Bold Bill gone, Harry sat for some considerable length of time ruminating upon the strange turn affairs had taken, and indulging in vague speculations upon whether the next would be as unfavorable; and at this point of our story we will divulge somewhat of his history.
Henry Lang had been in years past a man well-to-do in the world; he was once a merchant respected for his strict integrity and punctuality in business affairs; but by a false step, a making haste to be rich, he was ruined. The great land speculation of '37 and thereabout was the chief, and in fact the only cause of his misfortune. On one day he could boast of his thousands, and no paper held better credit than that signed or endorsed by him. The next, the bubble broke, his fortune was scattered, his riches took to themselves wings and flew away, his creditors, like vultures, flocked around and speedily devoured what little remained of his once large possessions. He was a man easily affected by such occurrences, and they deeply wounded his sensitive feelings. What should he do? He looked around upon those who once professedly loved him; but no hand was extended, no heart sympathized with him in the hour of trouble. He left his country, and with it a wife and one child, a daughter, lovely, if not in personal appearance, in highly virtuous and intellectual qualities, which, after all, will be admitted to be of more value than that which time withers and sickness destroys.
With a sad heart Mr. Lang left these and the spot of earth around which many fond recollections clustered. After twenty months of tedious wanderings, he returned, but he was a changed man; his ambitious spirit had been crushed, all his hopes: had departed, and he gave himself up to the fanciful freaks of a disordered mind. Defeated in his honest endeavors to obtain a livelihood, he was now seeking out dishonest ways and means to retrieve his fallen fortune. He sought for those of a kindred spirit, nor was he long in finding such; in a short time he became acquainted, and soon after connected, with a gang of adventurous men, about six in number, who by various fraudulent means were each amassing much wealth.
"And he deserted me in this my time of need! Can it be true that he has gone? For him I would willingly have endured any privation. Did he not know that my love was strong? Could he not believe me when I said, that, as I joyed with him in his prosperity, I would mourn with him in its reverse?-that I could ever be near to comfort and console,—one with him at all times, under all circumstances?"
"Comfort yourself, dear mother!" said a calm voice, "Remember that these trials are for our good, and that the sorrows of earth are but to prepare us for the joys of heaven. Cheer up, mother! let those thoughts rejoice thy heart! Despair not, but take courage!"
With such words did the daughter administer consolation to the afflicted, when hearing that her husband had forsaken her and sailed for a foreign port. It was indeed a heavy blow, and she felt it severely. She could have endured the thought of having all her earthly possessions taken from her,—but to be deserted, to be left at such a time dependent upon the charities of the world for a subsistence, such a thought she was not prepared to withstand.
The few words of Julia having been said, a deep silence for some moments pervaded the room. She sat and gazed up into the face of her mother, whose tears bore witness to the deep anguish of her soul. The silence was interrupted by the rising of the latter, who for a few moments paced the room, and then sank helplessly into a chair. The attentive child sprang to her relief, a few neighbors were called in, she was laid upon her bed. That night a severe attack of fever came upon her; for many days her life was despaired of; but at length a ray of hope cheered the solitude of the chamber of the sick, and at the close of six weeks her health was in a great degree restored.
"Time heals all wounds," is a common saying, true in some cases, but not in all. Some wounds there are that sink deep in the heart,—their pain even time cannot remedy, but stretch far into eternity, and find their solace there. Others there are which by time are partially healed;—such was that of Mrs. Lang. During her sickness, many of the little incidents that before had troubled her passed from her mind. She now yielded submissively to her sad allotment, believing, as during her sickness she had often been told, that afflictions come but for our own good, however paradoxical such a statement might seem to be.
The kindness of a neighbor enabled her, with her daughter, to remove their place of residence. This neighbor-a lady of moderate pecuniary circumstances-furnished them with needle-work, the compensation for which enabled them to obtain supplies necessary for a comfortable living.
For some time Mr. Henry Lang sat with his head resting upon his hands, and with them upon the table. Deep silence prevailed, broken only, at lengthy intervals, by the loud laugh following the merry jest of some passer-by, or the dismal creaking of the swing-sign of an adjacent tavern.
How long Mr. Lang might have remained in that position is not for us to determine. But it would have been much longer, had not a loud rap at the outer door awakened him from his drowsy condition.
He started at the sound, and, taking in his hand a dim-burning candle, proceeded to answer the call. Opening the door, a man closely enveloped in a large cloak and seal-skin cap, the last of which hung slouchingly about his head and face, inquired, in a gruff, ill-mannered voice, whether a person unfavorably known to the police as "Bold Bill" had been there. Harry trembled, knowing his interrogator to be one of the city watch; yet he endeavored to conceal his fears and embarrassment by a forced smile, and remarked:
"That is indeed a strange name, and one of which I have never before heard. Tell me what he has been about."
"Why do you think he has been about anything, or why think you I am acquainted with his actions?" inquired the stranger, in a stern voice, as though the supreme majesty of the law represented by him was not to be spoken lightly of. His scrutinizing features relaxed not in the least, but he looked our hero steadfastly in the face.
"By the appearance of your dress I judge you to be a watchman, and as such I suppose you to be in search of that odd-named person on account of his being suspected of having broken the law."
"You are right," answered the officer. "I am a watchman! The authority invested in me is great. I trust I duly appreciate it. I guard your dwelling when you are slumbering, unconscious of what takes place around you."
"You are very kind," remarked Harry, suddenly interrupting him, and speaking rather ironically than otherwise.
The watchman continued: "Life is to me nothing unless I can employ it in doing good. Do you understand me?"
"Will you walk in?" inquired Mr. Lang, as a sudden gust of wind nearly extinguished his light.
"No, I thank you; that would be of no service to my fellow-men; and, as I am in search of the man who committed the robbery, ten minutes ago, upon Mr. Solomon Cash, the broker, I must-"
"Robbery!" exclaimed Harry, appearing perfectly astonished at the thought. "O, the degeneracy of the nineteenth century,—the sinfulness of the age!"
"Amen!" responded the officer; and, pulling his large, loose cloak more closely about him, he made a motion to continue on in the service of his fellow-men.
"But wait, my good man," said Harry. "Am I to suppose, from what you said, that 'Bold Bill' is the perpetrator of this base crime?"
"Precisely so," was the laconic reply; and the man moved on in execution of his benevolent designs.
"He should be brought to justice," said Harry, as he turned to enter. No sooner, however, had he closed the door, than he burst forth in a loud laugh. This was soon changed to seriousness, for he became confident that his friend Bill was in danger. To shield him, if guilty, from detection, and protect him, if innocent, was now his great object. But where should he find him? That was a problem he could not solve. The boy was sleeping soundly; he must awaken him, he must go out in search of his friend.
With this intention, he dressed himself in a stout, heavy overcoat, and, locking the door hurriedly, walked up the street. On he went, as though his life depended upon whether he reached a certain square at a certain time. He looked at nothing save some far-distant object, from which, as it approached, he withdrew his eyes, and fixed them on an object yet distant. Turning a corner, a collision took place between him and another man, who appeared to be in as much haste as himself. He was about to proceed, when he who had met him so abruptly struck him very familiarly upon the shoulder, saying, as he did so, "Harry, how are you?-good luck-tin-lots of it-watch-haste."
The person thus addressed was not long in discovering who it was that spoke to him, and from his words and actions that he had reason to be in some haste. It was he for whom he was in search; and, being aware that the nature of the case demanded despatch, he cordially grasped his hand, and, without another word between them, they in a short time reached the dwelling of Mr. Lang.
"What are the facts now?" inquired Harry, after having narrated the incident that had occurred since he left, namely, the watchman's visit.
"Then you think there is no danger in my staying here?" inquired Bill.
"Not in the least," replied Harry; "for I positively asserted that you was not here, and strongly intimated that I knew no person of your name. Danger! there is none; so proceed, friend Bill,—but a little wine."
Wine is an indispensable with all rogues; it nerves to lawlessness, and induces them, when under its influence, to commit acts which in their sober moments they would scorn to perform.
The wine-glass emptied, Bill proceeded in his narrative.
"When I left here, I started intending in a direct course to go home. Musingly I walked along, cursing my fate, and several other things, too numerous to mention, and speculating upon the probable success of our scheme, till I arrived in front of the old broker's. He was just putting up his iron-clamped shutters. I was on the opposite side, at some distance, yet not so far but that I plainly saw him enter and pack snugly away in his little black trunk divers articles of apparently great worth. I carelessly jingled the last change in my pocket, of value about a dollar or so; and the thought of soon being minus cash nerved me to the determination of robbing the broker. Thus resolved, I hid myself behind a pile of boxes that seemed placed there on purpose, till I heard the bolt spring, and saw the broker, with the trunk beneath his arm, walk away. As he entered that dark passage, 'Fogg-lane,' I pulled my cap down over my face, and dogged him, keeping the middle of the passage; and, seeing a favorable opportunity, I sprang upon him from behind, and snatched the box; then left him to his fate.
"I ran off as fast as my legs, urged on by the cry of 'stop thief,' would carry me. Notwithstanding the speed at which I ran, I found the crowd bearing down upon me; and, my hope almost failing, I had resolved to give in and suffer the consequences, when, seeing a dark lane, I ran into it, then dodged behind a pump. The crowd ran on; I found I had escaped. Now, Harry, a friendly shake in honor of my good luck."
"As you say," answered Harry, "and it is my humble opinion you are not entirely free from change."
"Really, Harry, I don't know what the box contains; however, 't is confounded heavy. It is full of gold or iron."
"My face for a scrubber, if small change is n't pretty much the contents; the fourpences and dimes lie pretty near together, friend Bill." "But," continued Harry, "'t is best to secrete yourself, box and all, till the law dogs are silenced. If they come here, I will throw them a bone; but hark!-"
The two remained silent; for the sound of approaching footsteps momentarily grew more distinct. It sounded nearer, and now was in front of the door.
"To the closet," whispered Harry; and in a moment Mr. Lang was the only occupant of the room. He was right in his supposition; for the door opened; and the same man, in the same cloak, with the same consequential air, accompanied by others, entered abruptly, and interrogated Harry rather closely. "Positively, I know nothing about him," said Mr. Lang. This declaration seemed to have a wonderful effect upon each of the officers. They gazed steadfastly at him, then at each other, and their features indicated their belief in what he said.
"Benevolent as I am," said the officer, "I must require a strict search;—not that we suspect him to be on your premises, noble sir, but my duty demands it."
The officer, having thus far declared what he thought to be his duty, proceeded to its performance by pushing open the doors through which egress could be had to the street, and all others. As chance would have it, the right door was by them unobserved. But where was the fugitive? He had been hurried into a closet. It was not after the manner of most closets. It was about three feet square, at one side of which was a door communicating with the cellar, through which any person might pass, and from thence into the street. He could not stand long and listen to the loud converse of those without. He felt himself in danger if he remained, and determined upon leaving the closet. So, having passed into the cellar, he entered the street.
The night was dark; the hour late, and no persons stirring. Softly he crept beneath the window, and, perceiving none in the room but Harry, softly tapped the glass. Mr. Lang raised his arm, by which signal Bill understood that he was aware of his having left the closet. Then through back lanes, seldom pedestrianated, and narrow passages, he wended his way, with his stolen treasure closely held beneath the loose folds of his jacket. He passed on, till, reaching a dark street, he beheld a dim light in a low oyster-cellar; he entered. A black fellow was the proprietor, cook, &c. Bill asked for lodgings.
"Well, massa, dem I 'ave; but I always take pay in advance from gemmen."
Bill asked the price.
"Wall, 'tis fourpance on a chest, and threepance on de floor."
Mr. Bang availed himself of the best accommodations, and accepted the chest. He stretched himself upon it, having settled the bill, but slept little. His mind was continually roaming. Now he imagined himself in the closet, with scarcely room to breathe, and an officer's hand on the latch; now groping along untraversed paths, till, falling into some hole, he awoke from his revery.
'T was near the dawn of day when, from his house, accompanied by the boy, Mr. Lang passed out in search of Bill. A light rain was falling, and in perspective he saw a dull, drizzly sort of a day,—a bad air for a low-spirited individual. The "blues" are contagious on such a day. Yet he strove to keep his spirits up, and to make the best of a bad job.
As he passed by the office of the broker, he perceived a crowd, and many anxious inquiries were heard respecting the robbery. It appeared the broker had received but little injury, and was as busy as any one in endeavoring to find out the rogue. Harry put on as bold a face as possible, and inquired of the broker the circumstances, which he very minutely narrated.
"Have you any suspicions of any one?" inquired Mr. Lang.
"Of no one," was the brief response.
"It would be very sad if the rascal could not be found," continued Mr. Lang. "The gallows is too good for one who would make such a cowardly attack, and treat with such baseness one who never harmed his fellow."
"I am of your opinion," answered the broker; and the two, having thus fully expressed their opinion, parted.
Mr. Lang was not much troubled in finding his companion. He entered the cellar just as the latter had arisen from his chesty couch, and a cordial grasp of the hand bore witness that friends had met.
Both were aware that the place in which they were was not of very good repute, and made all possible haste to remove. But, to effect this successfully, it was necessary that Mr. Lang should have a change of dress.
He was making this change when half a dozen men unexpectedly entered. "You are my prisoner," said one, catching hold of Mr. Lang by the coat-collar. "Tropes, secure the other."
They were now both in custody, and the officers, after a little search, discovered the broken box, and arrested the black man.
"For what am I arrested?" inquired Mr. Lang.
"That you will soon know," was the reply.
"But I demand an answer now. I will not move a step till I get it."
"What! what's that?" said a stout, rough-looking man, striking the prisoner, and treating him more like a dog than what he was.
"I demand an answer to my inquiry. For what am I arrested?"
"He's a dangerous man," remarked another of the officers; "it's best to put him in irons;" whereupon he drew from a capacious pocket a pair of rusty manacles. Mr. Lang, and his two fellows in trouble, found it best to coolly submit, and did so. Five minutes passed, and the cold walls of a prison enclosed them.
Daylight breaks, and the dwellers upon a thousand hills rejoice in the first rays of the morning sun.
"Didst thou ever hear that promise, 'God will provide'? inquired a pale, yet beautiful girl, as she bent over the form of a feverish woman, in a small, yet neatly-furnished room.
"Yes," was the reply; "and he who allows not a sparrow to fall unnoticed, shall he not much more care for us? Yes, Julia, God will provide. My soul, trust thou in God!"
It was Mrs. Lang. The good lady who had befriended her was suddenly taken ill, and as suddenly died. Mrs. Lang, with her daughter, left the house, and, hiring a small room at an exorbitant rent, endeavored, by the use of her needle, to live. She labored hard; the morning's first light found her at her task, and midnight's silent hour often found her there. The daughter too was there; together they labored, and together shared the joys and sorrows of a worse than widowed and orphaned state. Naturally of a feeble constitution, Mrs. Lang could not long bear up under that labor, and fell. Then that daughter was as a ministering angel, attending and watching over her, and anticipating her every want. Long was she obliged to labor to provide the necessaries of life; often working hard, and receiving but ten to fifteen cents a day for that which, if paid for as it should be, would have brought her a dollar. It was after receiving her small pittance and having returned to her home, that the words at the commencement of this chapter fell from her lips. Her mother, with deep solicitude, inquired her success.
"He says he can get those duck trousers made for three cents, and that, if I will not make them for that, he can give me no more work. You know, mother, that I work eighteen hours of the twenty-four, and can but just make two pair,—that would be but six cents a day."
"My child," said the mother, rising with unusual strength, "refuse such a slavish offer. Let him not, in order to enrich himself, by degrees take your life. Death's arrows have now near reached you. Do not thus wear out your life. Let us die!"
She would have said more; but, exhausted by the effort, she sank back upon her pillow. Then came the inquiry, "Didst thou ever hear that promise, 'God will provide'?"
The question had been put, and the answer given, when a slight rap at the door was heard. Julia opened it; a small package was hastily thrust into her hand, and the bearer of it hasted away. It was a white packet, bound with white ribbon, and with these words, "Julia Lang," legibly written upon it. She opened it; a note fell upon the floor; she picked it up, and read as follows:
Enclosed you will find four five-dollar bills. You are in want; use them, and, when gone, the same unknown hand will grant you more.
"Let me break now a secret to you which I believe it is my duty to divulge. You will recollect that your father mysteriously abandoned you. He is now in this city, in—street jail, awaiting his trial. I am confident that he is innocent, and will be honorably acquitted; and I am as confident that it needs but your presence and your kind entreaty to bring him back once again to his family and friends. I have spoken to him, but my words have had no effect except when I spoke of his family. Then I could see how hard he strove to conceal a tear, and that I had found a tender chord, that needed but your touch to cause it to work out a reformatory resolution.
"I write because Mr. Lang was a friend of mine in his days of prosperity. I know he has no heart for dishonesty; but, thinking himself deserted by those who should cling to him, he madly resolved to give himself up, and follow where fate should lead. Yours, truly, "CHARLES B—.
N.B. Others have also spoken with him; but their appeals have been in vain. If you will be at the corner of L—avenue and W—street, at three o'clock to-day, a carriage will be in readiness to convey you to his presence. C. B.
Anxiously did Mrs. Lang watch the features of her child as she stood perusing the letter; and as she sat down with it unfolded, apparently in deep thought, her inquisitiveness increased. She inquired-she was told all. "Go," said she to her daughter, "and may the blessings of Heaven attend you!"
Julia stood wondering. She had doubted before; she feared it might be the scheme of some base intriguer; but now her doubts vanished, and hope cheered her on.
Long seemed the intervening hours, and many were the predictions made concerning the success of her mission; yet she determined to go, in the spirit of Martin Luther, though every stone in the prison should arise to persecute her.
The appointed hour came, and, letter in hand, she left her room, and repaired to the spot. There she found a carriage; and the driver, who, it appeared, was acquainted with her, inquired whether she desired to go to—street jail. Replying in the affirmative, she entered, and the carriage drove off. When she had reached the street, and came in full view of the prison, her timidity almost overcame her; but, recollecting the object she had in view, she resisted a desire that involuntarily arose to return.
"Is the warden in?" inquired the driver of the gate-keeper.
"He is;—another feast for the lion, eh?" and the keeper, who had more self-assurance than manners, having laughed at his own nonsense, pulled a bell-cord, and the warden appeared.
"The gentleman who came this morning to see Mr. Lang wished me to bring this young lady here, and introduce her to you as Mr. Lang's daughter." Having said this, the hack-man let down the steps, and aided her out. The gate-keeper retired into a sort of sentry-box, and amused himself by peeping over the window-curtain, laughing very immoderately when anything serious was said, and sustaining a very grave appearance when anything having a shade of comicality occurred.
The warden very politely conducted Julia into his office, and soon after into the jail. It was a long building inside of a building, with two rows of cells one above the other, each numbered, and upon each door a card, upon which was written, in characters only known to the officers of the prison, the prisoner's name, crime, term of imprisonment, and general conduct whilst confined.
As Mr. Lang was waiting trial, he was not in one of these cells, but in one of large dimensions, and containing more conveniences.
As they entered, he was seated at a small table, with pen, ink and paper, engaged in writing. He did not at first recognize his child, but in a moment sprang to her, and clasping her in his arms, said, "My child."
Such a change in him needs some explanation.
After being committed to prison, his first thought was upon the change of his condition from what it formerly was; and his first resolution was to reform. He thought of the deep plots he and his companion had laid to amass a fortune; but, supposing that the latter would be convicted, and condemned to serve a long time in confinement, he concluded that that scheme was exploded.
"Yet," thought he, "if there be none on earth I can call my friends,—if my family forsake me (yet just would it be in them should they reject my company),—of what avail would my reformation be, except to a few dogging creditors, who would jeer and scoff at me at every corner, and attempt to drive me back to my present situation? It might be some satisfaction to them to see me return; but what feelings would it arouse within me,—with what hatred would I view mankind! No; if none will utter a kind word to me, let me continue on; let the prison be my home, and the gallows my end, rather than attempt to reform while those who were once my friends stand around to drive me lack by scoffing remarks!"
Such were the sincere thoughts of Mr. Lang. He would return, but none stood by to welcome him. A few had visited him, most of whom had severely reflected upon his misdeeds. They opened a dark prospect for him in the future. "Now," said they, "you must here remain; receive retribution for your evil deeds, and a sad warning to others not to follow in your steps, lest they arrive at the same goal." Was there encouragement in this? Surely not; he deemed them not the words of friendship, and he was right in his judgment.
"Why did you visit this dark prison?" inquired Mr. Lang.
"Because you are here, father!" was the artless reply.
"And could you forgive your father? How could you seek him, when he forsook you?" Mr. Lang could not make this last observation without becoming affected even to tears.
Julia seemed to take courage; new energies seemed to be imparted to her. She felt an unseen influence at her side, and a holy calmness resting upon her soul.
"Prison-walls cannot bar you from my heart, though in the worst place on earth. Though friends laugh me to scorn when I seek your presence, you are my father still, and ungrateful would I be did I not own you as such!
"In thinking of the present, I do not forget the past; I remember the days of old, the years in which we were made glad;—and you, father, when free from these walls, will you not return again to your family, and make home what it once was? To-day I will see Mr. Legrange; he wants a clerk, and, by a little persuasion, I am certain I can get you the situation. Will you not reform?"
She could say no more; yet her actions spoke louder than words could possibly do, and her imploring attitude went home to the heart of her parent. He, for the first time since the commencement of his wayward course, felt that the hand of sympathy was extended to greet him, should he make a motion to return. And why should he not grasp it? He did. There, in that prison-cell, upon his knees, he promised to repent and return.
"Pleasant residence, Miss!" said the gate-keeper, as our heroine left the yard, and then laughed as though he had committed a pun that would immortalize him from that time forth.
She noticed not his ill-mannered remark, but, reentering the carriage, thought of nothing but the joy her mother would feel upon learning her success, till the carriage stopped and the driver let down the steps. Having related her adventure, she left her home with the intention of seeing Mr. Legrange.
Mr. Legrange was a merchant on Cadiz wharf; he was wealthy, and as benevolent as wealthy. Notices were often seen in the papers of large donations from him to worthy institutions, sometimes one and sometimes three thousand dollars. His fellow-men looked upon him as a blessing to the age. There was no aristocracy in him; he did not live like a prince in the costliest house in the city, but a small, neat tenement was pointed out as his abode. Not only was he called the "Poor Man's Friend," but his associate and companion. He did not despise the poor man, and wisely thought that to do him good he must live and be upon an equality with him.
Mr. Legrange had just opened an evening paper, when a light rap at his counting-house door induced him to lay it aside. Opening it, a young woman inquired if Mr. Legrange was in.
"That is my name," was the reply. "Good-morning, Miss Lang."
Julia was rejoiced that she was recognized. She had not spoken to Mr. Legrange since her father's failure in business; previous to that sad occurrence she had known him personally, yet she scarcely thought he would know her now.
"This is a lovely day," said Mr. Legrange, handing her a chair. "Your mother is well, I hope."
"As well as might be expected: she will recover fast, now."
"Indeed! What? Some glad news?"
"Yes, sir; father is in the city, and has reformed."
"Thank God for that!" said Mr. Legrange. "It is one of the blessings of this life to hope for better days."
"He has reformed," continued Miss Lang, "yet he may be led back unless he gets steady employment; and I heard that—"
"—that I want a clerk," said Mr. Legrange, anticipating her in her remarks; "and," continued he, "your father is just the man I want. I knew him in his better days, before a fatal misstep felled him to the ground. Miss Lang, let your father call next Tuesday; to-morrow I start on a journey, and shall not return till then."
With many sincere thanks, Julia left the room; her heart overflowed with gratitude to the Giver of all things. She saw his hand and felt his presence.
It was well that Mr. Legrange was about to leave the city, as Mr. Lang's examination was to be had the next day, and Mrs. Lang and her daughter confidently expected he would be acquitted.
The morrow came; the examination began and terminated as they had expected. William Bang was remanded back to prison to await his trial for robbery. Mr. Lang was acquitted, and, joining a company of friends whom Julia had collected, left for the residence of his family.
What a meeting was that! Angels could but weep for joy at such a scene, and drop their golden harps to wipe away their tears of gladness. Long had been their separation. What scenes had the interval disclosed! And how changed were all things! She was in health when he left, but now in sickness; yet it was not strange.
That day was the happiest he had spent for many months, and he rejoiced that an angel of light, his daughter, had sought him out. She had been, indeed, a ministering spirit of good to him, and in the happy scene then around her she found her reward,—O, how abundant!
With a light and joyous step did Henry Lang repair to the store of Mr. Legrange. The sun's rays were just peering over the house-tops, and he thought that he, like that sun, was just rising from degradation to assume new life, and put forth new energy.
We need not lengthen out our the by narrating what there ensued. He that day commenced his clerkship, and to this day holds it. He often received liberal donations from his employer in token of his regard for him, and by way of encouraging him in his attempts to regain his lost fortune.
It was on a December evening that a family circle had gathered around their fireside. The wild wind whistled furiously around, and many a poor wight lamented the hard fate that led him abroad to battle the storm. "Two years ago this night," said the man, "where was I? In an obscure house, planning out a way to injure a fellow-man! Yea, would you believe it? the very man who has since been my benefactor,—my employer!"
The door-bell rang, and the conversation was abruptly terminated.
In a few minutes none other than Mr. Legrange entered; he received a hearty welcome, and was soon engaged in conversation.
"Mr. Lang," said he, as he was about to depart, "your daughter remembers receiving an anonymous letter signed 'Charles B—.' I do not say it to please my own vanity, but I ordered my clerk to write it, and sent it by my son. I thought of you when you little thought you had a friend on earth who cared for you, and rejoice that I have been the humble instrument in effecting your reformation."
"Here," he continued, handing him a paper, "this is the deed of a house on—street, valued at eight thousand dollars; accept it as a present from me to you and your family, and remember this, that a kind word is of more value than gold or precious stones. It was that which saved you, and by that you may save others. Good-evening; I will see you at the store tomorrow."
Having said this, he left, waiting not to receive the thanks that grateful hearts desired to render him.
And now, reader, our story is ended. If you have followed us thus far, neglect not to receive what we have faintly endeavored to inculcate; and ever remember, while treading life's thorny vale, that "a kind word is of more value than gold or precious stones."
THE LOVE OF ELINORE.
SHE stood beside the sea-shore weeping, While above her stars were keeping Vigils o'er the silent deep; While all others, wearied, slumbered, She the passing moments numbered, She a faithful watch did keep. Him she loved had long departed, And she wandered, broken-hearted, Breathing songs he loved to hear. Friends did gather round to win her, But the thoughts that glowed within her Were to her most fond and dear. In her hand she held bright flowers, Culled from Nature's fairest bowers; On her brow, from moor and heath, Bright green leaves and flowers did cluster, Borrowing resplendent lustre From the eyes that shone beneath. Rose the whisper, "She is crazy," When she plucked the blooming daisy, Braiding it within her hair; But they knew not, what of gladness Mingled with her notes of sadness, As she laid it gently there. For her loved one, ere he started, While she still was happy-hearted, Clipped a daisy from its stem, Placed it in her hair, and told her, Till again he should behold her, That should be her diadem. At the sea-side she was roaming, When the waves were madly foaming, And when all was calm and mild, Singing songs,—she thought he listened,— And each dancing wave that glistened Loved she as a little child. For she thought, in every motion Of the ceaseless, moving ocean, She could see a friendly hand Stretched towards the shore imploring, Where she stood, like one adoring, Beckoning to a better land. When the sun was brightly shining, When the daylight was declining, On the shore she'd watch and wait, Like an angel, heaven-descending, 'Mid the ranks of mortals wending, Searching for a missing mate. Years passed on, and when the morning Of a summer's day gave warning Of the sweets it held in store, By the dancing waves surrounded, Like a fairy one she bounded To her lover's arms once more. Villagers thus tell the story, And they say a light of glory Hovereth above the spot Where for days and years she waited, With a love all unabated, And a faith that faltered not. There's a stone that is uplifted, Where the wild sea-flowers have drifted; Fonder words no stone o'er bore; And the waves come up to greet them, Seeming often to repeat them, While afar their echoes roar- "DEATHLESS LOVE OF ELINORE."
'TIS SWEET TO BE REMEMBERED.
'T IS sweet to be remembered In the turmoil of this life, While toiling up its pathway, While mingling in its strife, While wandering o'er earth's borders, Or sailing o'er its sea,— 'T is sweet to be remembered Wherever we may be. What though our path be rugged, Though clouded be our sky, And none we love and cherish, No friendly one is nigh, To cheer us in our sorrow, Or share with us our lot,— 'T is sweet to be remembered, To know we're not forgot. When those we love are absent From our hearth-stone and our side, With joy we learn that pleasure And peace with them abide; And that, although we're absent, We're thought of day by day;— 'T is sweet to be remembered By those who are away. When all our toils are ended, The conflict all is done, And peace, in sweetest accents, Proclaims the victory won; When hushed is all the tumult, When calmed is all the strife, And we, in patience, meekly Await the end of life: Then they who, when not present, In spirit yet were near, And, as we toiled and struggled, Did whisper in our ear, "'Tis sweet to be remembered, And thou art not forgot," If fortune smile upon us, Shall share our happy lot.
I CALL THEE MINE.
YES, ever such I'll call thee, will ever call thee mine, And with the love I bear thee a wreath of poesy twine; And when the stars are shining in their bright home of blue, Gazing on them, thou mayest know that I like them are true. Forget thee! no, O, never! thy heart and mine are one. How can the man who sees its light forget the noonday sun? Or he who feels its genial warmth forget the orb above; Or, feeling sweet affection's power, its source-another's love? Go, ask the child that sleepeth upon its mother's breast Whether it loves the pillow on which its head doth rest; Go, ask the weary mariner, when the dangerous voyage is o'er, Whether he loves the parent's smile that meets him at the door: But ask not if I love thee when I would call thee mine, For words are weak to tell thee all, and I the task resign; But send thy spirit out for love, and when it finds its goal, 'T will be encircled and embraced within my deepest soul.
THE OLD TREE AND ITS LESSON.
THERE is a story about that old tree; a biography of that old gnarled trunk and those broad-spread branches.
Many, very many years ago,—there were forests then where now are cities, and the Indian song was borne on that breeze which now bears the sound of the Sabbath bell, and where the fire of the work-shop sends up its dense, black smoke, the white cloud from the Indian's wigwam arose,—yes, 't was many years ago, when, by the door of a rough, rude, but serviceable dwelling, a little boy sat on an old man's knee. He was a bright youth, with soft blue eyes, from which his soul looked out and smiled, and hair so beautiful that it seemed to be a dancing sunbeam rather than what it really was.
The old man had been telling him of the past; had been telling him that when he was a child he loved the forest, and the rock, and the mountain stream.
Then he handed the lad a small, very small seed, and, leading him a short distance, bade him make a small hole in the ground and place the seed within it. He did so. And the old man bent over and kissed his fair brow as he smoothed the earth above the seed's resting-place, and told him that he must water it and watch it, and it would spring up and become a fair thing in his sight.
'Twas hard for the child to believe this; yet he did believe, for he knew that his friend was true.
Night came; and, as he lay on his little couch, the child dreamed of that seed, and he had a vision of the future which passed with the shades of the night.
Morning dawned, and he hastened to water and to watch the spot where the seed was planted.
It had not come up; yet he believed the good old man, and knew that it would.
All day long he was bending over it, or talking with his aged companion about the buried seed.
A few days passed, then a little sprout; burst from the ground; and the child clapped his hands, and shouted and danced.
Daily it grew fairer in the sight of the child, and rose higher and higher. And the old man led him once more to the spot, and told him that even so would the body of his little sister rise from the grave in which a short time before it hid been placed, and, rising higher and higher, it would never cease to ascend.
The old man wept; but the child, with his tiny white hand, brushed away his tears, and, with child-like simplicity, said that if his sister arose she would go to God, for God was above.
Then the mourner's heart was strengthened, and the lesson he would have taught the child came from the child to him, and made his soul glad.
A few weeks passed, and the old man died.
The child wept; but, remembering the good friend's lesson, he wiped away his tears, and wept no more; for the seed had already become a beautiful plant, and every day it went upward, and he knew that, like that, his sister and his good friend would go higher and higher towards God.
Days, weeks, months, years passed away. The plant had grown till it was taller than he who had planted it.
Years fled. The child was no more there, but a young man sat beneath the shade of a tree, and held a maiden's hand in his own. Her head reclined on his breast, and her eyes upturned met the glances of his towards her, and they blended in one.
"I remember," said he, "that when I was young a good old man who is now in heaven, led me to this spot, and bade me put a little seed in the earth. I did so. I watched the ground that held it, and soon it sprang up, touched by no hand, drawn forth, as it would seem, from its dark prison by the attractive power of the bright heaven that shone above it. See, now, what it has become! It shades and shelters us. God planted in my heart a little seed. None but he could plant it, for from him only emanates true love. It sprang up, drawn forth by the sunlight of thy soul, till now thou art shadowed and sheltered by it."
There was silence, save the rustle of the leaves as the branches bowed assent to the young man's words.
Time drove his chariot on; his sickle-wheels smote to earth many brave and strong, yet the tree stood. The winds blew fiercely among its branches; the lightning danced and quivered above and around it; the thunder muttered forth its threatenings; the torrent washed about its roots; yet it stood, grew strong and stately, and many a heart loved it for its beauty and its shade.
The roll of the drum sounded, and beneath a tree gathered crowds of stalwart men. There was the mechanic, with upturned sleeves and dusty apron; the farmer, fanning himself with a dingy straw hat; the professional man and trader, arguing the unrighteousness of "taxation without representation."
Another roll of the drum, and every head was uncovered as a young man ascended a platform erected beneath the tree. In a soft, low voice, he began. As he proceeded, his voice grew louder, and his eloquence entranced his auditors.
"Years ago," said he, "there were an old man and a young child. And the child loved the man, and the man loved the child, and taught him a lesson. He took him by the hand, and, leading him aside, gave him a seed and told him to plant it. He did so. It sprang up. It became mighty. Independent it stood, sheltering all who came unto it. That old man went home; but here stands the child, and here the tree, great and mighty now, but the child has not forgotten the day when it was small and weak. So shall the cause we have this day espoused go on; and though, to-day, we may be few and feeble, we shall increase and grow strong, till we become an independent nation, that shall shelter all who come unto it."
The speaker ceased, and immediately the air resounded with loud shouts and huzzas.
The struggle for independence came. Victory ensued. Peace rested once more upon all the land, But not as before. It rested upon a free people. Then, beneath that same tree, gathered a mighty host; and, as oft as came the second month of summer, in the early part of it the people there assembled, and thanked God for the lesson of the old tree.
An old man lay dying. Around his bedside were his children and his children's children.
"Remove the curtain," said he. "Open the window. Raise me, and let re see the sun once more."
They did so.
"See you yonder tree? Look upon it, and listen. I was a child once, and I knew and loved an old man; and he knew me and loved me, and he led me aside, placed in my hand a tiny seed, and bade me bury it in the earth, and I did so. Night came, with its shade and its dew; day, with its sunshine and its showers. And the seed sprang up,—but the old man died. Yet, ere he went, he had taught me the lesson of that seed, which was, that those who go down to the earth like that, will arise, like that, towards heaven. You are looking upon that tree which my friend planted. Learn from it the lesson it hath taught me."
The old man's task was performed, his life finished, and the morrow's light lit the pathway of many to his grave. They stood beneath the shadow of that tree; and deeply sank the truth in every heart as the village pastor began the burial service and read, "I am the resurrection and the life."
VOICES FROM THE SPIRIT-LAND.
IN the silence of the midnight, When the cares of day are o'er, In my soul I hear the voices Of the loved ones gone before; And they, words of comfort whispering, Say they'll watch on every hand, And my soul is cheered in hearing Voices from the spirit-land. In my wanderings, oft there cometh Sudden stillness to my soul; When around, above, within it Rapturous joys unnumbered roll. Though around me all is tumult, Noise and strife on every hand, Yet within my soul I list to Voices from the spirit-land. Loved ones who have gone before me Whisper words of peace and joy; Those who long since have departed Tell me their divine employ Is to watch and guard my footsteps,— O! it is an angel band! And I love, I love to list to Voices from the spirit-land.
DIMLY burns the beacon-light On the mountain top to-night; Faint as whisper ever fell, Falls the watcher's cry,—"All's well;" For the clouds have met on high, And the blast sweeps angry by; Not a star is seen this night,— God, preserve the beacon-light! Lo! a man whom age doth bow Wanders up the pathway now; Wistfully his eye he turns To the light that dimly burns; And, as it less glow doth shed, Quicker, quicker is his tread; And he prays that through the night God may keep the beacon-light. Far below him, rocks and waves Mark the place of others' graves; Other travellers, who, like him, Saw the beacon-light burn dim. But they trusted in their strength To attain the goal at length;— This old traveller prays, to-night, "God, preserve the beacon-light!" Fainter, fainter is its ray,— Shall its last gleam pass away? Shall it be extinguished quite? Shall it burn, though not as bright? Fervently goes up his prayer; Patiently he waiteth there, Trusting Him who doeth right To preserve the beacon-light. Look you now! the light hath burst Brighter than it was at first; Now with ten-fold radiance glows, And the traveller homeward goes. As the clouds grow darker o'er him, Brighter grows the light before him; God, who doeth all things right, Hath preserved the beacon-light. Thus upon the path we tread God a guiding light hath shed; Though at times our hearts are weary, Though the path we tread is dreary, Though the beacon's lingering ray Seems as if 't would pass away,— Be our prayer, through all the night, "God, preserve the beacon-light!" Threatening clouds may gather o'er us, Countless dangers rise before us: If in God we seek for strength, He will succor us at length: He his holy light will send, To conduct us to the end. Trust thy God, through day and night, He'll preserve thy beacon-light.
BEAR up, bear up, though Poverty may press thee, There's not a flower that's crushed that does not shed, While bowing low, its fragrance forth to bless thee, At times, more sweet than when it raised its head;
When sunlight gathered round it,
When dews of even crowned it, By nature nursed, and watched, and from its bounty fed Bear up, bear up! O, never yield nor falter! God reigneth ever, merciful and just; If thou despairest, go thou to his altar, Rest on his arm, and in his promise trust.
There Hope, bright Hope, will meet thee;
There Joy, bright Joy, shall greet thee; And thou shalt rise to thrones on high from out the dust.
A WELCOME SONG TO SPRING.
SHOUT a welcoming to Spring! Hail its early buds and flowers! It is hastening on to bring Unto us its joyous hours. Birds on bough and brake are singing, All the new-clad woods are ringing; In the brook, see Nature flinging Beauties of a thousand dyes,
As if jealous of the beauties Mantling the skies. Hail to Beauty! Hail to Mirth! All Creation's song is gladness; Not a creature dwells on earth God would have bowed down in sadness! Everything this truth is preaching, God in all his works is teaching, As if man by them beseeching To be glad, for he doth bless;
And to trust him, for he's mighty In his tenderness.
THE HOPE OF THE FALLEN.
IT was at the close of a beautiful autumnal day that Edward Dayton was to leave the place of his nativity. For many years he had looked forward, in joyous anticipation, to the time when he should repair to the city, and enter upon the business of life. And now that that long looked-for and wished-for day had arrived, when he was to bid an adieu to the companions of his youth, and to all the scenes of his childhood, it was well for him to cast a retrospective glance; and so he did.
Not far distant, rearing its clear white steeple far above the trees, stood the village church, up the broad, uncarpeted aisle of which he had scores of times passed; and, as the thought that he might never again enter those sacred walls came to his mind, a tear glistened in his eye that he could not rudely wipe away.
Next was the cot of the pastor. He had grown old in the service of his Master, and the frosts of nearly three-score winters rested their glory upon his head. All loved and respected him, for with them he had wept, and with them he had rejoiced. Many had fallen around him; withered age and blooming youth he had followed to the grave; yet he stood forth yet, and, with clear and musical voice, preached the truths of God.
An old gray building, upon whose walls the idler's knife had carved many a rude inscription, was the village school. There, amid those carvings, were seen the rough-hewn initials of many a man now "well-to-do in the world." Some, high above the rest, seemed as captains, and almost over-shadowed the diminutive ones of the little school-boy, placed scarce thirty inches from the ground.
Edward was a pet among the villagers. He had taken the lead in all the frolickings, and many a bright-eyed lass would miss his presence, and loud, clear laugh, at the coming "huskings."
Young and old reluctantly bade him "good-by," and, as the stage wound its circuitous way from the village, from many a heart ascended a prayer that He who ruleth over all would prosper and protect him.
"Good luck to him, God bless him!" said dame Brandon, as she entered the house. "He was always a kind, well-meant lad," she continued, "and dame Brandon knows no evil can befall him; and Emily, my dear, you must keep your eye on some of the best fruit of the orchard, for he will be delighted with it, and much the more so if he knows your bright eyes watched its growth and your hands gathered it."
These words were addressed to a girl of seventeen, who stood at an open window, in quite a pensive mood. She seemed not to hear the remark, but gazed in the direction the stage had passed.
The parents of Edward had died when he was quite young, and he, their only child, had been left to the care and protection of dame Brandon; and well had she cared for him, and been as a mother to the motherless.
"Now, Emi', don't fret! Edward won't forget you. I've known him long; he has got a heart as true as steel."
'T was not this that made her sad. She had no fears that he would forget his Emi', but another thought pressed heavily on her mind, and she said,
"But, aunty, city life is one of danger. Temptations are there we little think of, and stronger hearts than Edward's have quailed beneath their power."
"Well done!" quoth Mrs. B., looking over her glasses; "a sermon, indeed, quite good for little you. But girls are timid creatures; they start and are frightened at the least unusual sound." She assumed a more serious manner, and, raising her finger, pointing upwards, said, "But know you not there is a Power greater than that of which you speak?"
Emily seemed to be cheered by this thought. She hummed over a favorite air, and repaired to the performance of her evening duties.
Emily Brandon was a lovely creature, and of this Edward Dayton was well aware. He had spent his early days with her. His most happy hours had been passed in her company. Together they had frolicked over the green fields, and wandered by their clear streams. Hours passed as minutes when in each other's company; and, when separated, each minute seemed an hour.
Now, for the first time, they were separated; and ever and anon, as she passed about at her work, she cast a fitful glance from the window, as if it were possible he might return.
How she wished she could have gone with him, to gently chide when sinners should entice, and lead him from error's path, should gay temptation lure him therein! She was young in years, yet old in discretion; and had a heart that yearned for the good of all.
"Well, aunt," said she, "I hope good luck will betide him, but sad thoughts will come when I think of what he will have to bear up under."
"O, hush!" said the old lady; "simple girls have simple stories."
It was a late hour in the evening that the coach entered the metropolis. Railroads were not then in vogue, and large baggage-waggons, lumbering teams and clumsy coaches, were drawn by two or more horses, over deep-rutted roads, and almost endless turnpikes.
The bells had-rang their nine o'clock peal; most of the stores were closed; the busy trader and industrious mechanic had gone to their respective homes, and left their property to faithful watchers, whose muffled forms moved slowly through the streets of the great city.
Not all had left their work; for, by the green and crimson light that streamed from his window, and served to partially dissipate the darkness, it was seen that he of pestle and mortar labored on, or, wearied with his labor, had fallen asleep, but to be awakened by the call of some customer, requesting an antidote for one of the many "ills which flesh is heir to."
Other open places there were, whose appearance indicated that they were bar-rooms, for at their windows stood decanters filled with various-colored liquids. Near each of these stood a wine-glass in an inverted position, with a lemon upon it; yet, were not any of these unmistakable signs to be seen, you would know the character of the place by a rumseller's reeling sign, that made its exit, and, passing a few steps, fell into the gutter.
In addition to these other signs, were seen scattered about the windows of these places, in characters so large that he who ran might read, "Bar-room," "Egg-pop," "N. E. Rum," etc.
Those were the days of bar-room simplicities. "Saloons" were not then known. The refined names which men of the present day have attached to rum, gin and brandy, were not then in use. There were no "Wormwood-floaters" to embitter man's life, and Jewett had not had his "fancy."
The coach rolled on, and in a short time Edward was safely ensconced in a neatly-furnished room in a hotel known as "The Bull's Horn." It was indeed a great disadvantage to him that he came to a city in which he was a total stranger. He had no acquaintance to greet him with a friendly welcome; and the next day, as he was jostled by the crowd, and pushed aside by the hurried pedestrian, he realized what it was to be a stranger in a strange land, and an indescribable sensation came upon him, known only to those who have been placed in similar circumstances.
He looked around,—strange forms met his view. No one greeted him, no hand of friendship was held forth to welcome him. All the world seemed rushing on for something, he knew not what; and, disheartened at the apparent selfishness that pervaded society, he returned to his room, and wished for the quietness of his own sweet village, the companionship of his own dear Emi'.
The landlord of the tavern at which our hero had housed himself was a stout, burly man, and quite communicative. From him Edward learned much of importance. Mr. Blinge was his name. He was an inveterate smoker, and his pet was a little black pipe, dingy and old, and by not a few deemed a nuisance to "The Bull's Horn." This he held between his teeth, and, seating himself behind his bar, puffed away on the high-pressure principle.
Edward had not been many minutes in his room before Mr. Blinge entered with his pet in his mouth, hoped he did n't intrude, apologized, and wished him to walk below, saying that by so doing he might become acquainted with some "rare souls."
By "below" was meant a large, square room, on the ground floor, of dimensions ample enough to hold a caucus in. By some it was called a "bar-room," by others the "sitting-room," and others the "gentlemen's parlor."
Entering, Edward encountered the gaze of about twenty individuals. Old gentlemen with specs looked beneath them, and young gentlemen with papers looked above them. A young man in white jacket and green apron was endeavoring to satisfy the craving appetites of two teamsters, who were loudly praising the landlord's brandy, and cursing the bad state of the roads in a manner worthy of "our army in Flanders."
One young man, in particular, attracted the attention of our hero. He was genteelly dressed, and possessed an air of dignity and self-command, that would obtain for him at once the good will of any. Edward was half inclined to believe his circumstances to be somewhat similar to his own. He was reading an evening paper, but, on seeing our hero enter, and judging from his manner that he was a stranger, laid it aside, and, politely addressing himself to him, inquired after his health.
The introduction over, they engaged in conversation. The young man seemed pleased in making his acquaintance, and expressed a hope that a friendship so suddenly formed might prove lasting and beneficial to each.
"I also am from the country," said he, after Edward had informed him of his history, "and, like you, am in search of employment. Looking over the evening paper, I noticed an advertisement of a concern for sale, which I thought, as I read, would be a capital chance to make a fortune, if I could find some one to invest in it with me. I will read it to you.
For SALE.-The stock and stand of a Confectioner, with a good business, well established. One or two young men will find this a rare opportunity to invest their money advantageously. For other particulars inquire at No. 7 Cresto-st.
"Now, I tell you what," said the young man, before Edward had an opportunity to utter a word, "it is a fine chance. Why, Lagrange makes enough on his wines and fancy cordials to clothe and feed a regiment. Just pass there, some evening, and you will see a perfect rush. Soda-water, ice creams, and French wines, are all the rage, and Lagrange is the only man in this city that can suit the bon ton!"
"You half induce me to go there," said Edward. "How far is it from this place?"
"Not far, but it is too late; to-morrow morning we will go there. Here, take my card-Othro Treves is my name; you must have known my father; a member of Congress for ten years, when he died;—rather abused his health-attended parties at the capital-drank wine to excess,—took a severe cold-fell ill one day, worse the next, sick the next, and died soon after. Wine is bad when excessively indulged in; so is every good thing."
Edward smiled at this running account of his new-formed acquaintance, and, bidding him "good-night," betook himself to his chamber, intending to accompany Othro to the confectioner's in the morning.
The next morning the sun shone bright and clear in a cloudless sky, and all were made joyous by its gladsome rays.
Edward was awakened at an early hour by the departure or preparations to depart, of the two teamsters, who, having patronized rather freely the young man in white jacket and green apron, were in a delightful mood to enjoy a joke, and were making themselves quite merry as they harnessed up their sturdy horses.
It was near nine when Othro and Edward found themselves on the way to the confectioner's. Edward was glad on account of finding one whom he thought he could trust as a friend, and congratulated himself on his good luck.
Near the head of Cresto-street might have been seen, not many years since, over the door of a large and fashionable store, a sign-board bearing this inscription: "M. Lagrange, Confectioner and Dealer in Wines and Cordials." We say it was "large and fashionable;" and those of our readers who recollect the place of which we speak will testify to the truth of our assertion.
Its large windows, filled with jars of confectionary and preserves, and with richly-ornamented bottles of wine, with the richest pies and cake strewed around, presented a showy and inviting appearance, and a temptation to indulge, too powerful to resist, by children of a larger growth than lisping infants and primary-school boys. Those who daily passed this store looked at the windows most wistfully; and this was not all, for, at their weekly reckonings, they found that several silver "bits" had disappeared very mysteriously during the previous seven days.
To this place our hero and his newly-formed acquaintance were now hastening. As they drew near, quite a bevy of ladies made their exit therefrom, engaged in loud conversation.
"Lor!" said one, "it is strange Lagrange advertised to sell out."
"Why, if I was his wife," said another, "I'd whip him into my traces, I would; an' he shouldn't sell out unless I was willin',—no, he shouldn't! Only think, Miss Fitzgabble, how handy those wines would be when one has a social soul step in!"
"O yes," replied Miss Fitzgabble, "and those jars of lozenges! How enchantingly easy to elevate the lid upon a Sabbath morn, slip in one's hand, and subtract a few! How I should smell of sassafras, if I was Mrs. Lagrange!"
The ladies passed on, and were soon out of hearing. Edward and his companion entered the store, where about a dozen ladies and gentlemen were seated, discussing the fashions, forging scandal, and sipping wine.
Mr. Lagrange was actively engaged when the two entered; but, seeing them, and supposing them to have called on the business for which they actually had called, he called to one of the attendants to fill his place, and entered into conversation with Messrs. Dayton and Treves, which in due time was terminated, they agreeing to call again the next day.
First impressions are generally the most lasting. Those Edward and Othro received during their visit and subsequent conversation were favorable to the purchase.
On their return they consulted together for a long time, and finally concluded to go that day, instead of waiting till the next, and make Mr. Lagrange an offer of which they had no doubt he would accept.
Mr. Lagrange's chief object in selling out was that he might disengage himself from business. He had been a long time in it; he was getting somewhat advanced in life, and had accumulated sufficient to insure him against want, and he deemed it best to step out, and give room to the young-an example worthy of general imitation.
That the business was profitable there could be no doubt. As Othro had said, the profit on the wines was indeed immense.
On pleasant evenings the store was crowded; and, as it was filled with the young, gay, and fashionable of wealthy rank, not much difficulty was experienced in obtaining these large profits.
The return of the young men was not altogether unexpected by Mr. Lagrange. He was ready to receive them. He set before them his best wines. They drank freely, praised the wine, and extolled the store, for they thought it admirably calculated to make a fortune in.
Mr. Lagrange imparted to them all the information they desired. They made him an offer, which he accepted, after some thought; and arrangements were entered into by which Messrs. Dayton and Treves were to take possession on the morning of the following Monday.
No one commences business without the prospect of success. Assure a man he will not succeed, and he will be cautious of the steps he takes, if, indeed, he takes any.
If he does not expect to gain a princely fortune; he expects to earn a comfortable subsistence, and, at the same time, accumulate enough to shelter him in a rainy day, and be enabled to walk life's busy stage in comfort and respectability, and, as occasion may demand, relieve the wants of his less fortunate brethren.
For this all hope, yet the experience of thousands shows that few, very few, ever realize it. On the contrary, disappointment, in its thousand malignant forms, starts up on every hand; yet they struggle on, and in imagination see more prosperous days in the future. Thus they hope against hope, till the green sod covers their bodies, and they leave their places to others, whilst the tale is told in these few words: "They lived and died."
The next Monday the citizens were notified, by the removal of his old sign, that Mr. Lagrange had retired from business. During the day, many of Mr. Lagrange's customers came in, that they might become acquainted with the successors of their old friend. To these Messrs. Dayton and Treves were introduced, and from them received promise of support.
A colored man, who had been for a long time in the employ of Mr. Lagrange, was retained in the employ of the store. Ralph Orton was his name. He having been for a long time in the store, and during that time having had free access to the wines, had formed an appetite for them, in consequence of which he was often intoxicated.
His inebriation was periodical, and not of that kind whose subjects are held in continual thraldom; yet, to use his own words, "when he was drunk, he was drunk, and no mistake." He obeyed the old injunction of "what is worth doing is worth doing well," and as long as he got drunk he got well drunk.
He had ofttimes been reasoned with in his days of soberness, and had often promised to reform; but so many around him drank that he could not resist the temptation to drink also, and therefore broke his promise. This habit had so fastened itself upon him, that, like one in the coil of the serpent, the more he strove to escape the closer it held him.
If there is any one habit to which if a man becomes attached he will find more difficulty to escape from than another, it is that of intemperance; yet all habits are so one with our nature that the care taken to guard against the adoption of evil ones cannot be too great.
Behold that man! He was tempted,—he yielded. He has surrendered a noble estate, and squandered a large fortune. Once he had riches and friends; his eye sparkled with the fire of ambition; hope and joy beamed in each feature of his manly countenance, and all bespoke for him a long life and happy death. Look at him now! without a penny in his pocket, a wretched outcast, almost dead with starvation. Habit worked the change-an evil habit.
Perchance some one in pity may bestow a small sum upon him. Utterly regardless of the fact that his wife and children are at home shivering over a few expiring embers that give no warmth, without a crumb to appease their hunger, and although he himself a moment before believed that if aid did not come speedily he must perish, he hastens to the nearest groggery, and, laying down his money, calls for that which has brought upon him and his such woe.
If there is any scene upon earth over which demons joy, it must be when that rumseller takes that money.
This propensity of Ralph's was a serious objection to him as a servant; yet, in every other respect, he was all that could be desired. He was honest, faithful and obliging, and, knowing as they did that he was well acquainted with the trade of the city, and could go directly to the houses of Mr. Lagrange's customers, Messrs. Dayton and Treves were induced to have him remain.
At the end of a month, Edward found himself in prosperous circumstances, and wrote to his old village friends of the fact. They, as a matter in course, were overjoyed in the reception of such intelligence, and no one more so than Emily Lawton.
Edward had entered into a business in which temptations of a peculiar nature gathered about him. Like nearly every one in those days, he had no scruples against the use of wine. He thought no danger was associated with its use; and, as an objection against that would clash with the interests of his own pecuniary affairs, he would be the last to raise it. In dealing forth to others, how strong came the temptation to deal it to himself! Othro drank, and pronounced a certain kind of wine a great luxury. Edward could not (or, at least, so he thought) do otherwise; and so he drank, and pronounced the same judgment upon it.
"What say you for an evening at the theatre?" said Othro, one evening, as they were passing from their place of business, having left it in care of their servants. "At the Gladiate the play is 'Hamlet,' and Mr. Figaro, from the old Drury, appears."
Edward had been educated in strict puritanic style, and had been taught to consider the theatre as a den of iniquity. It is not our purpose to defend or oppose this opinion. It was his, and he freely expressed it. In fact, his partner knew it to be such before making the request.
"I suppose," said Mr. Treves, "you oppose the theatre on account of the intoxicating drinks sold there. Now, I am for a social drop occasionally. Edward, a glass of pure 'Cogniac,' a nice cigar, and a seat in front of a grate of blazing coal, and I'll be joyful."
"You may be joyful, then," replied Mr. Dayton; "but your joy might be changed to grief, and your buoyancy of spirit be turned to sadness of heart."
"Indeed, Edward! Quite a lecture, I declare! Been studying theology, eh?"
"Not so; you are mistaken, Othro," said he. "There," he continued, pointing to a reeling sot that passed them, "ask that man where he first went for joy, and he may tell you of the theatre, or of social glasses of brandy, cigars, and such like."
They had now arrived in front of the "Gladiate," a massive stone structure, most brilliantly illuminated. Long rows of carriages stood in front, and crowds of the gay and fashionable were flocking in.
All was activity. Hackmen snapped their whips. Boys, ragged and dirty, were waiting for the time when "checks" would circulate, and, in fact, were in much need of checks, but those of a different nature from those they so eagerly looked for.
Anon, the crowd gathered closer; and the prospect of a fight put the boys in hysterics of delight, and their rags into great commotion. To their sorrow, it was but the shadow of a "row"; and they kicked and cuffed each other, in order to express their grief.
A large poster announced in flaming characters that that night was the last but two of Mr. Figaro's appearance, and that other engagements would prevent him from prolonging his stay, however much the public might desire him to do so; whilst, if the, truth had been told, the public would have known that a printer was that moment "working off" other posters, announcing a rengagement of Mr. Figaro for two weeks.
"Will you enter?" inquired Othro. Edward desired to be excused, and they parted; one entering the theatre, the other repairing to his home.
The "tavern" at which our hero boarded was of the country, or, rather, the colony order of architecture,—for piece had been added to piece, until what was once a small shed was now quite an extensive edifice.
As was the case with all taverns in those days, so also with this,—the bar-room was its most prominent feature. Mr. Blinge, the landlord, not only smoked, but was an inveterate lover of raw whiskey, which often caused him to perform strange antics. The fact that he loved whiskey was not strange, for in those days all drank. The aged drank his morning, noon and evening potations, because he had always done so; the young, because his father did; and the lisping one reached forth its hands, and in childish accents called for the "thugar," and the mother, unwilling to deny it that which she believed could not harm it, gave.
Those were the days when seed was being sown, and now the harvesting is in progress. Vain were it for us to attempt its description; you will see it in ruined families, where are gathered blasted hopes, withered expectations, and pangs, deep pangs of untold sorrow.
The child indulged has become a man, yet scarce worthy of the name; for a habit has been formed that has sunken him below the brute, and he lives not a help, but a burden, not a blessing, but a curse, to his fellow-men.
Although Edward was opposed to the use of intoxicating drinks, his business led him to associate with those who held opposite opinions.
Among the boarders was one, a bold, drinking, independent sort of a man, who went against all innovations upon old customs with a fury worthy of a subject of hydrophobia.
His name was "Pump." Barrel, or bottle, would have been more in accordance with his character; but, as the old Pump had not foresight enough to see into the future, he did not know that he was inappropriately naming his son.
Every Pump must have its handle, on the same principle that "every dog must have his day." The handle to the Pump in question was a long one; 't was "Onendago."
"Onendago Pump" was written with red ink on the blank leaf of a "Universal Songster" he carried in his pocket.
Dago, as he was called, lived on appearances; that is, he acted the gentleman outwardly, but the beggar inwardly. He robbed his stomach to clothe his back: howbeit, his good outside appearance often got for him a good dinner.
By the aid of the tailor and the barber, he wore nice cloth and curled hair; and, being blessed with a smooth, oily voice, was enabled, by being invited to dinner here and to supper there, to live quite easy.
Edward had just seated himself, when a loud rap on the door was heard, and in a moment Mr. Onendago Pump, with two bottles, entered. With a low bow, he inquired as to our hero's health, and proposed spending an evening in his company.
"Ever hear me relate an incident of the last war?" said he, as he seated himself, and placed his two bottles upon the side-table.
"Never," replied Edward.
"Well, Butler was our captain, and a regular man he; right up and down good fellow,—better man never held sword or gave an order. Well, we were quartered at-I don't remember where-history tells. We led a lazy life; no red coats to fire at. One of the men came home, one night, three sheets in the wind, and the fourth bound round his head; awful patriotic was he, and made a noise, and swore he'd shoot every man for the good of his country. Well, Captain Butler heard of it, and the next day all hands were called. We formed a ring; Simon Twigg, he who was drunk the day before, stood within it, and then and there Captain Butler, who belonged to the Humane Society, and never ordered a man to be flogged, lectured him half an hour. Well, that lecture did Mr. Dago Pump immense good, and ever since I have n't drank anything stronger than brandy.
"Never a man died of brandy!" said Mr. Pump, with much emphasis. "Brandy's the word!" and, without saying more, he produced a cork-screw, and with it opened a bottle.
A couple of glasses soon made their appearance. "Now, you will take a glass with me," said Dago; "it is the pure Cogniac, quality one, letter A."
"Drink, now," said he, pushing a glass towards him. "Wine is used by the temperance society. They'll use brandy soon. Ah, they can't do without their wine, and we can't do without our brandy! They want to bind us in a free country, what my father bled and almost died for,— bind us to drink cold water!" said Mr. Pump, sneeringly. "Let 'em try it! I go for freedom of the press,—universal, everlasting, unbounded freedom!"
When this patriotic bubble had exploded and the mist cleared away, he sang a bacchanalian song, which he wished every free man in the world would commit to memory. "What is the difference," said he, "between this and wine? Neither will hurt a man; it is your rum-drinking, gin-guzzling topers that are harmed;—anything will harm them. Who ever heard of a genteel wine or brandy drinker becoming a pest to society? Who ever heard of such an one rolling in the mire? No; such men are able to take care of themselves. Away with the pledge!"
"Perhaps you are right," replied Edward; "yet we should be careful. Although all around me drink, I have until this moment abstained from the use of brandy; but now, at your request, I partake of it. Remember, if I, by this act, am led into habits of intemperance, if I meet a drunkard's grave, the blame will rest upon you."
"Ha, ha, ha! Well done! So be it! I'll shoulder the blame, if a respectable man like you falls by brandy."
Edward drank the contents of a glass, and, placing it upon the table, said "We must be careful!"
"True!" said Mr. Pump, as he again filled the glass; "we cannot be too much so. We must avoid rum and gin as we would a viper! How I abhor the very name of rum! O, Mr. Dayton, think of the misery it has brought upon man! I had a sister once, a beautiful, kind-hearted creature. She was married to an industrious man; all was fair, prospects bright. By degrees he got into bad company; he forgot his home, loved rum more than that, became dissipated, died, and filled a drunkard's grave! She, poor creature, went into a fever, became delirious, raved day after day, and, heaping curses upon him who sold her husband rum, died. Since then, I have looked upon rum as a curse; but brandy,—it is a gentle stimulant, a healthy beverage, a fine drink, and it can do no harm."
Onendago swallowed the contents of his glass, and Edward, who, having taken the first, found it very easy to take the second, did the same. Yet his conscience smote him; he felt that he was doing wrong.
Like the innocent, unthinking bird, who, charmed by the serpent's glistening eyes, falls an easy prey to its crushing embrace, was he at that moment. He the bird, unconscious of the danger behind the charm.
This is no fictitious tale. Would to Heaven it contained less of truth! The world has seen many men like "Mr. Pump," and many have through their instrumentality fallen; many not to rise till ages shall have obliterated all memory of the past, with all its unnatural loves! Whilst others, having struggled on for years, have at length seen a feeble ray of light penetrating the dark clouds that overshadowed their path, which light continued to increase, till, in all its beauty, the star of temperance shone forth, by which they strove ever after to be guided.
It was near midnight when Mr. Pump left. The two had become quite sociable, and Mr. Pump saw the effect of his brandy in the unusual gayety of Edward.
The latter was not lost to reflection; and now that he was alone, thoughts of home, his business, and many other matters, came confusedly into his mind.
Letters he had received of warning and advice. He took them in his hands, looked over their contents, and with feelings of sadness, and somewhat of remorse, thought of his ways.
A bundle of old letters! A circle of loved friends! How alike! There is that's pleasant, yet sad, in these. How vividly they present to our view the past! The writers, some, perhaps, are dead; others are far away. Yet, dead or alive, near or far distant, we seem to be with them as we read their thoughts traced out on the sheet before us.
As Edward read here and there a letter, it did seem as though his friends stood beside him, and spoke words of advice which conscience whispered should be heeded. Love was the theme of not a few, yet all warned him to flee from evil. He returned the parcel, and, as he did so, he pledged himself that if he drank any it should be with moderation: and that, as soon as he felt its ruinous effects, to abstain altogether.
The next morning Othro was late at the store; yet, when he arrived, he was full of praise of the play.
"Figaro acted Hamlet to a charm," said he; "and Fanny Lightfoot danced like a fairy. But two nights more! Now, Edward, if you do not wish to offend me, and that exceedingly, say you will go with me to-morrow night."
Three years had elapsed since the events of the last chapter. Edward had often visited his native village, and, as the results of these visits, Emily Lawton became Mrs. Dayton; and she, with Mrs. Brandon, was removed to an elegantly furnished house in the city. Yet, with all its elegance, Mrs. Brandon, who had been accustomed to rural simplicity, did not feel happy except when in her own room, which Edward had ordered to be furnished in a style answering her own wishes.
Messrs. Dayton and Treves had been highly successful in their business operations; and, enjoying as they did the patronage of the lite of the city, they, with but little stretch of their imaginative powers, could see a fortune at no great distance.
Becoming acquainted with a large number of persons of wealth, they were present at very many of the winter entertainments; and, being invited to drink, they had not courage to refuse, and did not wish to act so ungenteel and uncivil. Others drank; and some loved their rum, and would have it. Edward had taken many steps since the events of our last chapter; yet, thought he, "I drink moderately."
There was to be a great party. A musical prodigy, in the shape of a child of ten years, had arrived, and the leaders of fashion had agreed upon having a grand entertainment on the occasion.
Great was the activity and bustle displayed, and in no place more than at the store of Dayton and Treves. As ill-luck would have it, Ralph had been absent a week on one of his drunken sprees, and his employers were obliged to procure another to fill his place.
The event was to take place at the house of a distinguished city officer; and, as Messrs. Dayton and Treves were to provide refreshment, their time was fully occupied.
The papers were filled with predictions concerning it; and the editors, happy fellows, were in ecstasies of joy on account of having been invited to attend. Nor were Messrs. Dayton and Treves forgotten; but lengthy eulogies upon their abilities to perform the duty assigned them occupied prominent places, and "steamboat disasters," "horrid murders," and "dreadful accidents," were obliged to make room for these.
In the course of human events the evening came. Hacks were in demand, and the rattling of wheels and the falling of carriage-steps were heard till near midnight.
The chief object of attraction was a small boy, who had attained considerable proficiency in musical knowledge, not of any particular instrument, but anything and everything; consequently a large assortment of instruments had been collected, upon which he played. As music had called them together, it was the employment of the evening, and the hour of midnight had passed when they were summoned to the tables.
Those gentlemen who desired had an apartment to themselves, where wine and cigars circulated freely. Some, in a short time, became excited; whilst others, upon whom the same cause had a different effect, became stupid. One poor fellow, whose bloated countenance told a sad tale, lay almost senseless; another sat dreamingly over his half-filled glass, whilst another excited the risibilities of not a few by his ineffectual attempts to light his cigar.
Our hero, like his companions, was a little overcome by too frequent potations from the bottle. It was a sad sight to a reflective mind. The majority were young men, whose eyes had been blinded to the danger they were in, by adhering to a foolish and injurious custom.
As hour passed hour, they became more excited, until a high state of enthusiasm existed.
All the ladies had retired, except one, and she strove hard to conceal her rising sorrow by forced smiles; yet she could not restrain her feelings,—her heart seemed bursting with grief. In vain did officious servants seek to know the cause. To the inquiries of the lady of the house she made no reply. She dare not reveal the secret which pierced her very soul; but, burying her face in her hands, seemed resolved upon not being comforted. Finally, yielding to the persuasive influence of Mrs. Venet, she expressed her fears that Edward had tarried too long at the bowl.
Mrs. Venet tried to comfort her by saying that, if what she so much feared was true, yet it was nothing uncommon; and mentioned several men, and not a few ladies, who had been carried away in a senseless condition.
These words did not comfort her; on the contrary, they increased her fears, and led her to believe that there was more danger at such parties than there was generally thought to be; and the fact that Edward had often attended such parties increased her sorrow, for she knew not but that he had been among that number of whom Mrs. Venet spoke.
Imagination brought to her view troubles and trials as her future lot; and last, not least, the thought of Edward's temperament, and of how easily he might be led astray, rested heavily upon her heart. Mrs. Venet at length left her, and repaired to the gentleman's apartment, in order to learn the cause of his delay.
"Who in the devil's there, with that thundering racket?" inquired a loud voice.
"It is Mrs. Venet," replied the lady.
"O, it is, is it? Well, madam, Dayton the confectioner, and a dozen jovial souls, are having a rare time here. Put that down in your memorandum-book, and leave us to our meditations."
"Yes, and these to profit and loss," said another, and the breaking of glasses was heard.
"If Mr. Dayton is within, tell him his lady is waiting for him," said Mrs. Venet.
"Ed, your wife's waiting,"' said one of the party.
"Then, friends, I-I-I must go," said the inebriated man, who, though badly intoxicated, had not wholly forgotten her.
His companions endeavored to have him remain, but in vain. He unbolted the door, and, leaving, closed it upon them.
Mrs. Venet, who was standing without, laid hold of his coat, and, knowing the excited state of Mrs. Dayton, and fearing that the appearance of her husband would be too much for her to bear, endeavored to induce him not to enter the room, or, at least, to wait until he had recovered from the effects of his drinking.
He appeared rational for a while, but, suddenly breaking away, shouted, "Emily, where are you?"
The sound of his voice resounded through the building, and his drunken companions, hearing it, made the building echo with their boisterous laughter.
He ran through the entries gazing wildly around, and loudly calling for his wife.
The servants, hearing the tumult, hastened to the spot; but neither they nor Mrs. Venet could induce him to become quiet.
The latter, finding she could have no influence upon him, repaired to the room in which she left Mrs. Dayton, and found her senseless upon the floor, and to all appearances dead. She had heard his wild cries, and what she had so much feared she then knew to be true.
Mrs. Venet rang for the servants, and ordered some restoratives. These were soon obtained, and by their free use she had nearly recovered, when her husband rushed into the room.
Upon seeing his wife, the raging lion became as docile as a lamb. A sudden change came over him; he seemed to realize the truth, and it sent an arrow to his soul.
Again the injured wife fainted, and again the restoratives were faithfully applied; but it was evident that if Mr. Dayton remained in her presence it would be difficult to restore her, and the man who before would not be approached was led quietly away. In a short time Mrs. Dayton became sensible, and her first words were to inquire after Edward. Being told, she was induced to lie down, and, if possible, enjoy a little sleep; but sleep she could not. Her mind became almost delirious, and fears were entertained by her attendants that she would lose her reason.
The effects of Edward's carousal were entirely dissipated by the sudden realization of the truth.
To Mrs. Dayton this was an hour of the deepest sorrow. She looked back upon the past, and saw happiness; in the future nothing but misery seemed to await her. Yet a change came over her; she thanked God for his past mercies, and wisely trusted him for their continuance. She implored pardon for past ingratitude, and prayed that she might be more grateful in future, and that, having tasted of the cup of sorrow, she might not drink the bitter draught.
The next morning Edward repented of his crime, and in his inmost soul felt it to be such,—a crime of deepest dye.
Emily wept as she bent over him.
"Cease thy tears," said he, "and forgive; it is but that word, spoken by thee, that can send peace to my soul. Yet what peace can I expect? I have wronged thee!"-and the wretched man wept like a child.
New thoughts continually sprang into existence,—the days of his youth, the bliss of home, and his present situation. He felt disgraced;—how should he redeem his character?
"O, that the grave would hide me," continued Edward, "and that in death I might forget this crime! But no! I cannot forget it; it will cling to me through life, and the future—"
He would have said more, but the strong emotions of his soul choked his utterance.
He arose and paced the room in agony of feeling which pen cannot describe. Suddenly halting, he gazed steadfastly upon the face of his wife. It was deadly pale, and a tear dimmed the usual lustre of her eye.
"Comfort thyself," said he; "no further evil shall come upon thee. It shall never be said you are a drunkard's wife,—no, no, no, never!"
"Let us, then, forget the past," said Mrs. Dayton.
"What! forget those days when I had not tasted? O, misery indeed, if I cannot retain their remembrance!" said Edward.
"Not so, Edward; we would remember those, but forget the evil that has befallen us,—all will be well."
"Do you-can you forgive?"
"God will forgive; and shall not I?"
"Then let this be a pledge of the future;" and, taking her hand in his, he said; "I resolve to walk in the path of right, and never more to wander, God being my witness and my strength."
"'T is well thou hast pledged thyself," said she; "but know thou the tempter is on every side. Should the wine-cup touch thy lips, dash it aside, and proclaim yourself a pledged man."
"I will!" was the response, and, taking a pen, he boldly placed his name to the following pledge:
"PLEDGE.-We pledge ourselves to abstain from the use of all intoxicating drinks, except the moderate use of wine, beer and cider."
Such was the pledge to which he affixed his name, and such the pledge by which men of those days endeavored to stay the tide of intemperance. Did not every man who signed that pledge himself to become a moderate drinker; and is not every moderate drinker pledged to become a drunkard? What a pledge! Yet we should not blame the men of former years for pursuing a course which they conscientiously thought to be right. That was the first step. It was well as far as it led; but it paused at the threshold of the ark of safety, and there its disciples fell. They had not seen, as have men of late years, the ruinous tendency of such a course; and knew not, as we now do, that total abstinence is the only sure course.
The pledge Edward had signed was no preventive in his case. He had tasted; in fact, he had become a lover of strong drink; and the temptation of having it constantly beside him, and daily dealing it out to others, was too strong for him to resist. When he drank, he did think, as Emily had bade him, that he was a pledged man; but that pledge permitted him to drink wine. The remedy such a pledge applied was of no avail. It failed to reach the fountain-head, and strove to stop the stream by placing slight resistances in its way.
A long time must elapse before a man can know the heart of his fellow-man, if, indeed, it can ever be known; and it was not until Edward had become addicted to habits of intemperance that he discovered the professed friendship of Mr. Treves to be insincere. Words of warning seldom came from his lips. What cared he if Edward did fall? Such being the case, the business would come into his own hands; and such "a consummation devoutly to be wished" it was very evident that if Edward did not soon reform was not far distant.