Infomotions, Inc.The Son of My Friend / Arthur, T. S. (Timothy Shay), 1809-1885



Author: Arthur, T. S. (Timothy Shay), 1809-1885
Title: The Son of My Friend
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): martindale; snfrn; albert; agnes; gordon; wine; arthur; husband
Contributor(s): Abbott, Thomas Kingsmill, 1829-1913 [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 8,026 words (really short) Grade range: 8-11 (high school) Readability score: 64 (easy)
Identifier: etext4623
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Title: New Temperance Tales. No. 1: The Son of My Friend

Author: T.S. Arthur

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

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No. 1. THE SON OF MY FRIEND.

NEW TEMPERANCE TALES.

BY THE AUTHOR OF "TEN NIGHTS IN A BAR-ROOM."

PHILADELPHIA:

T. S. ARTHUR & SON.






THE SON OF MY FRIEND.





"_I'VE_ been thinking," said I, speaking to my husband, who stood
drawing on his gloves.

"Have you?" he answered; "then give me the benefit of your
thoughts."

"That we shall have to give a party. You know we've accepted a
number of invitations this winter, and it's but right that we should
contribute our share of social entertainment."

"I have thought as much myself," was his reply. "And so far we stand
agreed. But, as I am very busy just now, the heaviest part of the
burden will fall on you."

"There is a way of making it light, you know," I returned.

"How?" he queried.

"By employing a professional caterer. He will supply everything for
the table, and furnish writers. We will have nothing to do but
receive our guests."

My husband shrugged his shoulders and smiled, as he said, "What will
it cost?"

"Almost anything we please. But the size of the company will have
the most to do with that."

"Say we invite one hundred."

"Then we can make the cost range anywhere between three hundred
dollars and a thousand."

"A large sum to throw away on a single evening's entertainment of
our friends. I am very sure I could put it to a better use."

"Very likely," I answered. "Still, we cannot well help ourselves.
Unless we give a party, we shall have to decline invitations in
future. But there is no obligation resting on us to make it
sensational. Let the Hardings and the Marygolds emulate extravagance
in this line; we must be content with a fair entertainment; and no
friend worth the name will have any the less respect for us."

"All that is a question of money and good fame," said my husband,
his voice falling into a more serious tone. "I can make it three,
five, or ten hundred dollars, and forget all about the cost in a
week. But the wine and the brandy will not set so easily on my
conscience."

A slight but sudden chill went through my nerves.

"If we could only throw them out?"

"There is no substitute," replied my husband, "that people in our
circle would accept. If we served coffee, tea, and chocolate
instead, we would be laughed at."

"Not by the fathers and mothers, I think. At least not by those who
have grown-up-sons," I returned. "Only last week I heard Mrs. Gordon
say that cards for a party always gave her a fit of low spirits. She
has three sons, you know."

"Rather fast young men, as the phrase is. I've noticed them in
supper-rooms, this winter, several times. A little too free with the
wine."

We both stood silent for the space of nearly a minute.

"Well, Agnes," said my husband, breaking the silence, "how are we to
decide this matter?"

"We must give a party, or decline invitations in future," I replied.

"Which shall it be?" His eyes looked steadily into mine. I saw that
the thing troubled him.

"Turn it in your thought during the day, and we'll talk it over this
evening," said I.

After tea my husband said, laying down the newspaper he had been
reading and looking at me across the centre-table, "What about the
party, Agnes?"

"We shall have to give it, I suppose." We must drop out of the
fashionable circle in which I desired to remain; or do our part in
it. I had thought it all over--looking at the dark side and at the
bright side--and settled the question. I had my weaknesses as well
as others. There was social eclat in a party, and I wanted my share.

"Wine, and brandy, and all?" said my husband.

"We cannot help ourselves. It is the custom of society; and society
is responsible, not we."

"There is such a thing as individual responsibility," returned my
husband. "As to social responsibility, it is an intangible thing;
very well to talk about, but reached by no law, either of conscience
or the statute-book. You and I, and every other living soul, must
answer to God for what we do. No custom or law of society will save
us from the consequences of our own acts. So far we stand alone."

"But if society bind us to a certain line of action, what are we to
do? Ignore society?"

"If we must ignore society or conscience, what then?"

His calm eyes were on my face. "I'm afraid," said I, "that you are
magnifying this thing into an undue importance."

He sighed heavily, and dropped his eyes away from mine. I watched
his countenance, and saw the shadows of uneasy thought gathering
about his lips and forehead.

"It is always best," he remarked, "to consider the probable
consequences of what we intend doing. If we give this party, one
thing is certain."

"What?"

"That boys and young men, some of them already in the ways that lead
to drunkenness and ruin, will be enticed to drink. We will put
temptation to their lips and smilingly invite them to taste its
dangerous sweets. By our example we will make drinking respectable.
If we serve wine and brandy to our guests, young and old, male and
female, what do we less than any dram-seller in the town? Shall we
condemn him, and ourselves be blameless? Do we call his trade a
social evil of the direst character, and yet ply our guests with the
same tempting stimulants that his wretched customers crowd his
bar-room to obtain?"

I was borne down by the weight of what my husband said. I saw the
evil that was involved in this social use of wines and liquors which
he so strongly condemned. But, alas that I must say it! neither
principle nor conscience were strong enough to overcome my weak
desire to keep in good standing with my fashionable friends. I
wanted to give a party--I felt that I must give a party. Gladly
would I have dispensed with liquor; but I had not the courage to
depart from the regular order of things. So I decided to give the
party.

"Very well, Agnes," said my husband, when the final decision was
made. "If the thing has to be done, let it be well and liberally
done."

I had a very dear friend--a Mrs. Martindale. As school-girls, we
were warmly attached to each other, and as we grew older our
friendship became closer and tenderer. Marriage, that separates so
many, did not separate us. Our lots were cast in the same city, and
in the same social circle. She had an only son, a young man of fine
intellect and much promise, in whom her life seemed bound up. He
went into the army at an early period of the war, and held the rank
of second lieutenant; conducting himself bravely. A slight, but
disabling wound sent him home a short time previous to the surrender
of Lee, and before he was well enough to join his regiment, it was
mustered out of service.

Albert Martindale left his home, as did thousands of other young
men, with his blood untouched by the fire of alcohol, and returned
from the war, as thousands of other young men returned, with its
subtle poison in all his veins.

The dread of this very thing had haunted his mother during all the
years of his absence in the army.

"Oh, Agnes," she had often said to me, with eyes full of tears, "it
is not the dread of his death that troubles me most. I have tried to
adjust that sad event between myself and God. In our fearful crisis
he belongs to his country. I could not withhold him, though my heart
seemed breaking when I let him go. I live in the daily anticipation
of a telegram announcing death or a terrible wound. Yet that is not
the thing of fear I dread; but something worse--his moral defection.
I would rather he fell in battle than come home to me with manhood
wrecked. What I most dread is intemperance. There is so much
drinking among officers. It is the curse of our army. I pray that he
may escape; yet weep, and tremble, and fear while I pray. Oh, my
friend I think his fall into this terrible vice would kill me."

Alas for my friend! Her son came home to her with tainted breath and
fevered blood. It did not kill her. Love held her above despair, and
gave her heart a new vitality. She must be a savior; not a weak
mourner over wrecked hopes.

With what a loving care and wise discretion did she set herself to
work to withdraw her son from the dangerous path in which his feet
were walking! and she would have been successful, but for one thing.
The customs of society were against her. She could not keep him away
from the parties and evening entertainments of her friends; and here
all the good resolutions she had led him to make were as flax fibres
in the flame of a candle. He had no strength to resist when wine
sparkled and flashed all around him, and bright eyes and ruby lips
invited him to drink. It takes more than ordinary firmness of
principle to abstain in a fashionable company of ladies and
gentlemen, where wine and brandy flow as water. In the case of
Albert Martindale, two things were against him. He was not strong
enough to set himself against any tide of custom, in the first
place; and in the second, he had the allurement of appetite.

I knew all this, when, with my own hand, I wrote on one of our cards
of invitation, "Mr. and Mrs. Martindale and family;" but did not
think of it, until the card was written. As I laid it aside with the
rest, the truth flashed on me and sent a thrill of pain along every
nerve. My heart grew sick and my head faint, as thoughts of the evil
that might come to the son of my friend, in consequence of the
temptation I was about to throw in his way, rushed through my mind.
My first idea was to recall the card, and I lifted it from the table
with a half-formed resolution to destroy it. But a moment's
reflection changed this purpose. I could not give a large
entertainment and leave out my nearest friend and her family.

The pain and wild agitation of that moment were dreadful. I think
all good spirits and angels that could get near my conscious life
strove with me, for the sake of a soul in peril, to hold me back
from taking another step in the way I was going; for it was not yet
too late to abandon the party.

When, after a long struggle with right convictions, I resumed my
work of filling up the cards of invitation, I had such a blinding
headache that I could scarcely see the letters my pen was forming;
and when the task was done, I went to bed, unable to bear up against
the double burden of intense bodily and mental anguish.

The cards went out, and the question of the party was settled beyond
recall. But that did not soothe the disquietude of my spirit. I felt
the perpetual burden of a great and troubling responsibility. Do
what I would, there was for me no ease of mind. Waking or sleeping,
the thought of Albert Martindale and his mother haunted me
continually.

At last the evening came, and our guests began to arrive, in party
dresses and party faces, richly attired, smiling and gracious. Among
the earliest were Mr. and Mrs. Martindale, their son and daughter.

The light in my friend's eyes, as we clasped hands and looked into
each other's faces, did not conceal the shadows of anxious fear that
rested on them. As I held Albert's hand, and gazed at him for a
moment, a pang shot through my heart. Would he go out as pure and
manly as he had come in? Alas, no! for I had made provision for his
fall.

The company was large and fashionable. I shall not attempt a
description of the dresses, nor venture an estimate touching the
value of diamonds. I have no heart for this. No doubt the guests
enjoyed themselves to the degree usual on such occasions. I cannot
say as much for at, least one of the hosts. In the supper-room stood
a table, the sight of which had smitten my eyes with pain. Its image
was perpetually before me. All the evening, while my outward eyes
looked into happy faces, my inward gaze rested gloomily on decanters
of brandy and bottles of wine crowding the supper-table, to which I
was soon to invite the young men--mere boys, some of them--and
maidens, whose glad voices filled the air of my drawing-rooms.

I tried to console myself by the argument that I was only doing as
the rest did--following a social custom; and that society was
responsible--not the individual. But this did not lift the weight of
concern and self-condemnation that so heavily oppressed me.

At last word came that all was ready in the supper-room. The hour
was eleven. Our guests passed in to where smoking viands, rich
confectionery and exhilarating draughts awaited them. We had
prepared a liberal entertainment, a costly feast of all available
delicacies. Almost the first sound that greeted my ears after
entering the supper-room was the "pop" of a champagne cork. I looked
in the direction from whence it came, and saw a bottle in the hands
of Albert Martindale. A little back from the young man stood his
mother. Our eyes met. Oh, the pain and reproach in the glance of my
friend! I could not bear it, but turned my face away.

I neither ate nor drank anything. The most tempting dish had no
allurement for my palate, and I shivered at the thought of tasting
wine. I was strangely and unnaturally disturbed; yet forced to
commend myself and be affable and smiling to our guests.

"Observe Mrs. Gordon," I heard a lady near me say in a low voice to
her companion.

"What of her?" was returned.

"Follow the direction of her eyes."

I did so, as well as the ladies near me, and saw that Mrs. Gordon
was looking anxiously at one of her sons, who was filling his glass
for, it might be, the second or third time.

"It is no place for that young man," one of them remarked. "I pity
his mother. Tom is a fine fellow at heart, and has a bright mind;
but he is falling into habits that will, I fear, destroy him. I
think he has too much self-respect to visit bar-rooms frequently;
but an occasion like this gives him a liberty that is freely used to
his hurt. It is all very respectable; and the best people set an
example he is too ready to follow."

I heard no more, but that was quite enough to give my nerves a new
shock and fill my heart with a new disquietude. A few minutes
afterwards I found myself at the side of Mrs. Gordon. To a remark
that I made she answered in an absent kind of way, as though the
meaning of what I said did not reach her thought. She looked past
me; I followed her eyes with mine, and saw her youngest boy, not yet
eighteen, with a glass of champagne to his lips. He was drinking
with a too apparent sense of enjoyment. The sigh that passed the
mother's lips smote my ears with accusation. "Mrs. Carleton!" A
frank, cheery voice dropped into my ear. It was that of Albert
Martindale, the son of my friend. He was handsome, and had a free,
winning manner. I saw by the flush in his cheeks, and the gleam in
his eyes, that wine had already quickened the flow of blood in his
veins.

"You are enjoying yourself," I said.

"Oh, splendidly!" then bending to my ear, he added.--"You've given
the finest entertainment of the season."

"Hush!" I whispered, raising my finger. Then added, in a warning
tone--"Enjoy it in moderation, Albert."

His brows knit slightly. The crowd parted us, and we did not meet
again during the evening.

By twelve o'clock, most of the ladies had withdrawn from the
supper-room; but the enticement of wine held too many of the men
there--young and old. Bursts of coarse laughter, loud exclamations,
and snatches of song rang out from the company in strange confusion.
It was difficult to realize that the actors in this scene of revelry
were gentlemen, and gentlemen's sons, so called, and not the coarse
frequenters of a corner tavern.

Guests now began to withdraw quietly. It was about half-past twelve
when Mrs. Martindale came down from the dressing-room, with her
daughter, and joined Mr. Martindale in the hall, where he had been
waiting for them.

"Where is Albert?" I heard the mother ask.

"In the supper-room, I presume; I've looked for him in the parlors,"
Mr. Martindale answered.

"I will call him for you," I said, coming forward.

"Oh, do if you please," my friend replied. There was a husky tremor
in her voice.

I went to the supper-room. All the ladies had retired, and the door
was shut. What a scene for a gentleman's house presented itself!
Cigars had been lighted, and the air was thick with smoke. As I
pushed open the door, my ear was fairly stunned by the confusion of
sounds. There was a hush of voices, and I saw bottles from many
hands set quickly upon the table, and glasses removed from lips
already too deeply stained with wine. With three or four exceptions,
all of this company were young men and boys. Near the door was the
person I sought.

"Albert!" I called; and the young man came forward. His face was
darkly flushed, and his eyes red and glittering.

"Albert, your mother is going," I said.

"Give her my compliments," he answered, with an air of mock
courtesy, "and tell her that she has my gracious permission."

"Come!" I urged; "she is waiting for you."

He shook his head resolutely. "I'm not going for an hour, Mrs.
Carleton. Tell mother not to trouble herself. I'll be home in good
time."

I urged him, but in vain.

"Tell him that he _must_ come!" Mrs. Martindale turned on her
husband an appealing look of distress, when I gave her Albert's
reply.

But the father did not care to assert an authority which might not
be heeded, and answered, "Let him enjoy himself with the rest. Young
blood beats quicker than old."

The flush of excited feeling went out of Mrs. Martindale's face. I
saw it but for an instant after this reply from her husband; but
like a sun-painting, its whole expression was transferred to a leaf
of memory, where it is as painfully vivid now as on that
never-to-be-forgotten evening. It was pale and convulsed, and the
eyes full of despair. A dark presentiment of something terrible had
fallen upon her--the shadow of an approaching woe that was to burden
all her life.

My friend passed out from my door, and left me so wretched that I
could with difficulty rally my feelings to give other parting guests
a pleasant word. Mrs. Gordon had to leave in her carriage without
her sons, who gave no heed to the repeated messages she sent to
them.

At last, all the ladies were gone; but there still remained a dozen
young men in the supper-room, from whence came to my ears a
sickening sound of carousal. I sought my chamber, and partly
disrobing threw myself on a bed. Here I remained in a state of
wretchedness impossible to describe for over an hour, when my
husband came in.

"Are they all gone?" I asked, rising.

"All, thank God!" he answered, with a sigh of relief. Then, after a
moment's pause, he said--"If I live a thousand years, Agnes, the
scene of to-night shall never be repeated in my house! I feel not
only a sense of disgrace, but worse--a sense of guilt! What have we
been doing? Giving our influence and our money to help in the works
of elevating and refining society? or in the work of corrupting and
debasing it? Are the young men who left our house a little while
ago, as strong for good as when they came in? Alas! alas! that we
must answer, No! What if Albert Martindale were our son?"

This last sentence pierced me as if it had been a knife.

"He went out just now," continued Mr. Carleton, "so much intoxicated
that he walked straight only by an effort."

"Why did you let him go?" I asked, fear laying suddenly its cold
hand on my heart. "What if harm should come to him?"

"The worst harm will be a night at the station house, should he
happen to get into a drunken brawl on his way home," my husband
replied.

I shivered as I murmured, "His poor mother!"

"I thought of her," replied Mr. Carleton, "as I saw him depart just
now, and said to myself bitterly, 'To think of sending home from my
house to his mother a son in that condition!' And he was not the
only one!"

We were silent after that. Our hearts were so heavy that we could
not talk. It was near daylight before I slept, and then my dreams
were of so wild and strange a character that slumber was brief and
unrefreshing.

The light came dimly in through half-drawn curtains on the next
morning when a servant knocked at my door.

"What is wanted?" I asked.

"Did Mr. Albert Martindale sleep here last night?"

I sprang from my bed, strangely agitated, and partly opening the
chamber door, said, in a voice whose unsteadiness I could not
control, "Why do you ask, Katy? Who wants to know?"

"Mrs. Martindale has sent to inquire. The girl says he didn't come
home last night."

"Tell her that he left our house about two o'clock," I replied; and
shutting the chamber door, staggered back to the bed and fell across
it, all my strength gone for the moment.

"Send her word to inquire at one of the police stations," said my
husband, bitterly.

I did not answer, but lay in a half stupor, under the influence of
benumbing mental pain. After a while I arose, and, looking out, saw
everything clothed in a white mantle, and the snow falling in large
flakes, heavily but silently, through the still air. How the sight
chilled me. That the air was piercing cold, I knew by the delicate
frost-pencilings all over the window panes.

After breakfast, I sent to Mrs. Martindale a note of inquiry about
Albert. A verbal answer came from the distracted mother, saying that
he was still absent, and that inquiry of the police had failed to
bring any intelligence in regard to him. It was still hoped that he
had gone home with some friend, and would return during the day.

Steadily the snow continued to fall, and as the wind had risen since
morning, it drifted heavily. By ten o'clock it was many inches deep,
and there was no sign of abatement. My suspense and fear were so
oppressive that, in spite of the storm, I dressed myself and went
out to call on my friend. I found her in her chamber, looking very
pale, and calmer than I had hoped to find her. But the calmness I
soon saw to be a congelation of feeling. Fear of the worst had
frozen the wild waves into stillness.

"God knows best," she said, in a voice so sad that its tones ached
through my heart. "We are all in His hands. Pray for me, Agnes, that
I may have strength. If He does not give me strength, I shall die."

I shivered; for both in voice and look were signs of wavering
reason. I tried to comfort her with suggestions as to where Albert
might be. "No doubt," I said, "he went home with a friend, and we
may look any moment for his return. Why should the absence of a few
hours so alarm you?"

There was a stony glare in her eyes as she shook her head silently.
She arose, and walking to the window, stood for several minutes
looking out upon the snow. I watched her closely. She was motionless
as marble. After awhile I saw a quick shudder run through her frame.
Then she turned and came slowly back to the lounge from which she
had risen, and lay down quietly, shutting her eyes. Oh, the still
anguish of that pale, pinched face! Shall I ever be able to draw a
veil over its image in my mind?

Suddenly she started up. Her ear had caught the sound of the street
bell which had just been rung. She went hurriedly to the chamber
door, opened it, and stood out in the upper hall, listening.

"Who is it?" she asked, in a hoarse, eager under tone, as a servant
came up after answering the bell.

"Mrs. Gordon's man. He called to ask if we'd heard anything from Mr.
Albert yet."

Mrs. Martindale came back into her chamber with a whiter face and
unsteady steps, not replying. The servant stood looking after her
with a countenance in which doubt and pity were mingled; then turned
and went down stairs.

I did not go home until evening. All day the snow fell drearily, and
the wind sighed and moaned along the streets, or shrieked painfully
across sharp angles, or rattled with wild, impatience the loose
shutters that obstructed its way. Every hour had its breathless
suspense or nervous excitement. Messengers came and went
perpetually. As the news of Albert's prolonged absence spread among
his friends and the friends of the family, the circle of search and
inquiry became larger and the suspense greater. To prevent the
almost continual ringing of the bell, it was muffled, and a servant
stationed by the door to receive or answer all who came.

Night dropped down, shutting in with a strange suddenness, as some
heavier clouds darkened the west. Up to this period not a single
item of intelligence from the absent one had been gained since, as
related by one of the young Gordons, he parted from him between two
and three o'clock in the morning, and saw him take his way down one
of the streets, not far from his home, leading to the river. It was
snowing fast at the time, and the ground was already well covered.
Closer questioning of the young man revealed the fact that Albert
Martindale was, at the time, so much intoxicated that he could not
walk steadily.

"I looked after him," said Gordon, "as he left me, and saw him
stagger from side to side; but in a few moments the snow and
darkness hid him from sight. He was not far from home, and would, I
had no doubt, find his way there."

Nothing beyond this was ascertained on the first day of his absence.
I went home soon after dark, leaving Mrs. Martindale with other
friends. The anguish I was suffering no words can tell. Not such
anguish as pierced the mother's heart; but, in one degree sharper,
in that guilt and responsibility were on my conscience.

Three days went by. He had vanished and left no sign! The whole
police of the city sought for him, but in vain. Their theory was
that he had missed his home, and wandered on towards the docks,
where he had been robbed and murdered and his body cast into the
river. He had on his person a valuable gold watch, and a diamond pin
worth over two hundred dollars--sufficient temptation for robbery
and murder if his unsteady feet had chanced to bear him into that
part of the city lying near the river.

All hope of finding Albert alive was abandoned after a week's
agonizing suspense, and Mr. Martindale offered a reward of five
hundred dollars for the recovery of his son's body. Stimulated by
this offer, hundreds of boatmen began the search up and down the
rivers and along the shores of the bay, leaving no point unvisited
where the body might have been borne by the tides. But over large
portions of this field ice had formed on the surface, closing up
many small bays and indentations of the land. There were hundreds of
places into any one of which the body might have floated, and where
it must remain until the warm airs of spring set the water free
again. The search was fruitless.

Mrs. Martindale, meantime, had lapsed into a state of dull
indifference to everything but her great sorrow. That absorbed her
whole mental life. It was the house in which her soul dwelt, the
chamber of affliction wherein she lived, and moved, and had her
being--so darkly draped that no light came in through the windows.
Very still and passionless she sat here, refusing to be comforted.

Forced by duty, yet dreading always to look into her face, that
seemed full of accusations, I went often to see my friend. It was
very plain that, in her mind, I was an accessory to her son's death.
Not after the first few days did I venture to offer a word of
comfort; for such words from my lips seemed as mockery. They
faltered on my tongue.

One day I called and the servant took up my name. On returning to
the parlor, she said that Mrs. Martindale did not feel very well,
and wished to be excused. The servant's manner confirmed my instant
suspicion. I had looked for this; yet was not the pang it gave me
less acute for the anticipation? Was I not the instrumental cause of
a great calamity that had wrecked her dearest hope in life? And how
could she bear to see my face?

I went home very heavy-hearted. My husband tried to comfort me with
words that had no balm for either his troubled heart or mine. The
great fact of our having put the cup of confusion to that young
man's lips, and sent him forth at midnight in no condition to find
his way home, stood out too sharply defined for any self-delusion.

I did not venture to the house of my friend again. She had dropped a
curtain between us, and I said, "It shall be a wall of separation."

Not until spring opened was the body of Albert Martindale recovered.
It was found floating in the dock, at the end of the street down
which young Gordon saw him go with unsteady steps in the darkness
and storm on that night of sorrow. His watch was in his pocket, the
hands pointing to half-past two, the time, in all probability, when
he fell into the water. The diamond pin was in his scarf, and his
pocket-book in his pocket, unrifled. He had not been robbed and
murdered. So much was certain. To all it was plain that the
bewildered young man, left to himself, had plunged on blindly
through the storm, going he knew not whither, until he reached the
wharf. The white sheet of snow lying over everything hid from eyes
like his the treacherous margin, and he stepped, unheeding, to his
death! It was conjectured that his body had floated, by an incoming
tide, under the wharf, and that his clothes had caught in the logs
and held it there for so long a time.

Certainty is always better than doubt. On the Sunday after the
saddest funeral it has ever been my lot to attend, Mrs. Martindale
appeared for the first time in church. I did not see her face, for
she kept her heavy black veil closely drawn. On the following Sunday
she was in the family pew again, but still kept her face hidden.
From friends who visited her (I did not call again after my first
denial) I learned that she had become calm and resigned.

To one of these friends she said, "It is better that he should have
died than live to be what I too sadly fear our good society would
have made him--a social burden and disgrace. But custom and example
were all against him. It was at the house of one of my oldest and
dearest friends that wine enticed him. The sister of my heart put
madness in his brain, and then sent him forth to meet a death he had
no skill left to avoid."

Oh, how these sentences cut and bruised and pained my heart, already
too sore to bear my own thoughts without agony!

What more shall I write? Is not this unadorned story sad enough, and
full enough of counsel and warning? Far sooner would I let it sleep,
and go farther and farther away into the oblivion of past events;
but the times demand a startling cry of warning. And so, out of the
dark depths of the saddest experience of my life, I have brought
this grief, and shame, and agony to the light, and let it stand
shivering in the face of all men.





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