Infomotions, Inc.Woman's Trials / Arthur, T. S. (Timothy Shay), 1809-1885



Author: Arthur, T. S. (Timothy Shay), 1809-1885
Title: Woman's Trials
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Tag(s): darlington; miriam; edith; scragg; marion; aunt mary; aunt; mary
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Title: Woman's Trials

Author: T.S. Arthur

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WOMAN'S TRIALS;

OR, TALES AND SKETCHES FROM THE LIFE AROUND US.

BY T. S. ARTHUR.

PHILADELPHIA:

1851.






PREFACE.

THE title of this volume sufficiently indicates its purpose. The
stories of which it is composed have been mainly written with the
end of creating for woman, in the various life-trials through which
she has to pass, sympathy and true consideration, as well in her own
sex as in ours. We are all too much engrossed in what concerns
ourselves--in our own peculiar wants, trials, and sufferings--to
give that thought to others which true humanity should inspire. To
the creator of fictitious histories is, therefore, left the task of
reminding us of our duty, by presenting pictures from the world of
life around us--moving pictures, in which we may not only see the
effect of our actions upon others, but also the relations of others
to society, and thus learn to sympathize with the tried and the
tempted, the suffering and the oppressed, the grief-stricken and the
mourner. It is good for us, at times, to forget ourselves; to think
of others and feel a heart-warm interest in all that concerns them.
If the perusal of this volume has such an effect upon the reader's
mind, it will accomplish all that its author desires; for right
feeling is but the prompter to right action.

This book is to be followed, immediately, by other volumes, to the
number of twelve, printed in uniform style: the series, when
complete, to be called, "ARTHUR'S LIBRARY FOR THE HOUSEHOLD."

"MARRIED LIFE," the volume to come after this, is passing through
the press, and will be ready for publication in a few days.






CONTENTS.





A LESSON OF PATIENCE
I DIDN'T THINK OF THAT
TAKING BOARDERS.
PLAIN SEWING; OR, HOW TO ENCOURAGE THE POOR
JESSIE HAMPTON
THE NEW YEAR'S GIFT
AUNT MARY'S PRESERVING KETTLE
HOME AT LAST
GOING HOME






WOMAN'S TRIALS.

A LESSON OF PATIENCE.





I WAS very unhappy, from a variety of causes, definable and
undefinable. My chambermaid had been cross for a week, and, by
talking to my cook, had made her dissatisfied with her place. The
mother of five little children, I felt that I had a weight of care
and responsibility greater than I could support. I was unequal to
the task. My spirits fell under its bare contemplation. Then I had
been disappointed in a seamstress, and my children were, as the
saying is, "in rags." While brooding over these and other
disheartening circumstances, Netty, my chambermaid, opened the door
of the room where I was sitting, (it was Monday morning,) and said--

"Harriet has just sent word that she is sick, and can't come
to-day."

"Then you and Agnes will have to do the washing," I replied, in a
fretful voice; this new source of trouble completely breaking me
down.

"Indeed, ma'am," replied Netty, tossing her head and speaking with
some pertness, "_I_ can't do the washing. I didn't engage for any
thing but chamber-work."

And so saying she left me to my own reflections. I must own to
feeling exceedingly angry, and rose to ring the bell for Netty to
return, in order to tell her that she could go to washing or leave
the house, as best suited her fancy. But the sudden recollection of
a somewhat similar collision with a former chambermaid, in which I
was worsted, and compelled to do my own chamber-work for a week,
caused me to hesitate, and, finally, to sit down and indulge in a
hearty fit of crying.

When my husband came home at dinnertime, things did not seem very
pleasant for him, I must own. I had on a long, a very long
face--much longer than it was when he went away in the morning.

"Still in trouble, I see, Jane," said he. "I wish you would try and
take things a little more cheerfully. To be unhappy about what is
not exactly agreeable doesn't help the matter any, but really makes
it worse."

"If you had to contend with what I have to contend with, you
wouldn't talk about things being _exactly agreeable,_" I replied to
this. "It is easy enough to talk. I only wish you had a little of my
trouble; you wouldn't think so lightly of it."

"What is the great trouble now, Jane?" said my husband, without
being at all fretted with my unamiable temper. "Let us hear. Perhaps
I can suggest a remedy."

"If you will get me a washerwoman, you will exceedingly oblige me,"
said I.

"Where is Harriet?" he asked.

"She is sick, or pretends to be, I don't know which."

"Perhaps she will be well enough to do your washing to-morrow,"
suggested my husband.

"Perhaps is a poor dependence."

I said this with a tartness that ill repaid my husband's effort to
comfort me. I saw that he felt the unkindness of my manner, in the
slight shade that passed over his face.

"Can't you get some one else to do your washing this week?"

I made no reply. The question was easily asked. After that, my
husband was silent,--silent in that peculiar way that I understood,
too well, as the effect of my words, or tones, or state of mind.
Here was another cause for unhappiness, in the reflection that I had
disturbed my husband's peace.

I am sure that I did not much look like a loving wife and mother as
I presided at the dinner table that day. The children never seemed
so restless and hard to manage; and I could not help speaking to
them, every now and then, "as if I would take their heads off;" but
to little good effect.

After my husband went away on finishing his dinner, I went to bed,
and cried for more than half the afternoon. Oh! how wretched I felt!
Life seemed an almost intolerable burden.

Then my mind grew more composed, and I tried to think about what was
to be done. The necessity for having the clothes washed was
absolute; and this roused me, at length, as the most pressing
domestic duty, into thinking so earnestly, that I presently rang the
bell for Netty, who came in her own good time.

"Tell Agnes that I want to see her," said I, not in a very
good-natured way.

The effect was that Netty left the chamber without replying, and
slammed the door hard after her, which mark of disrespect set my
blood to boiling. In a little while my cook made her appearance.

"Agnes," said I, "do you know of any one that can get to do the
washing this week?"

Agnes thought for a few moments, and then replied--

"There's a poor woman who lives near my mother's. I think she goes
out to wash sometimes."

"I wish you would step round and see if she can't come here
to-morrow."

Agnes said that she would do so.

"Tell her she must come," said I.

"Very well, ma'am."

And Agnes withdrew.

In an hour she tame back, and said that she had seen the woman, who
promised to come.

"What is her name?" I asked.

"Mrs. Partridge," was answered.

"You think she won't disappoint me?"

"Oh, no, ma'am. I don't think Mrs. Partridge is the kind of a woman
to promise and then disappoint a person."

It was some relief to think I was going to get my washing done; but
the idea of having the ironing about all the week fretted my mind.
And no sooner was this leading trouble set aside, than I began to
worry about the children's clothes, and the prospect of losing my
cook, who had managed my kitchen more to my satisfaction than any
one had ever done before.

The promise for a pleasant hour at home was but little more
flattering to my husband, when he returned in the evening, than it
had been at dinner time. I was still in a sombre mood.

In the morning Mrs. Partridge came early and commenced the washing.
There was something in this woman's appearance that interested me,
and something in her face that reminded me of somebody I had seen
before; but when and where I could not tell. Although her clothes
were poor and faded, there was nothing common about her, and she
struck me as being superior to her class. Several times during the
morning I had to go into the kitchen where she was at work, and each
time her appearance impressed me more and more. An emotion of pity
arose in my bosom, as I saw her bending over the washing tub, and
remembered that, for this hard labour during a whole day, the pay
was to be but seventy-five cents. And yet there was an air of meek
patience, if not contentment, in her face; while I, who had every
thing from which I ought to have derived happiness, was dissatisfied
and full of trouble. While in her presence I felt rebuked for my
complaining spirit.

At dinner time Mrs. Partridge came to my room, and with a gentle,
patient smile on her face, said--

"If you have no objections, ma'am, I would like to run home for a
few minutes to nurse my baby and give the children something to eat.
I'll make up the time."

"Go by all means," I replied, with an effort to speak calmly.

The woman turned, and went quickly away.

"Run home to nurse the baby and give the children something to eat!"
The words went through and through me. So unexpected a request,
revealing, as it did, the existence of such biting poverty in one
who was evidently bearing her hard lot without a murmur, made me
feel ashamed of myself for complaining at things which I ought to
have borne with a cheerful spirit. I had a comfortable, in fact a
luxurious, home, a kind and provident husband, and servants to do
every thing in my house. There was no lack of the means for
procuring every natural good I might reasonably desire. But, between
the means and the attainment of the natural blessings I sought,
there were many obstacles; and, instead of going to work in a
cheerful, confident spirit to remove those obstacles, I suffered
their interposition to make me unhappy; and not me alone, but my
husband and all around me. But here was a poor woman, compelled to
labour hard with her hands before she could obtain even the means
for supplying nature's most pressing wants, doing her duty with an
earnest, resigned, and hopeful spirit!

"It is wicked in me to feel as I do," I could not help saying, as I
made an effort to turn away from the picture that was before me.

When Mrs. Partridge came back, which was in about half an hour, I
said to her--

"Did you find all safe at home?"

"Yes, ma'am, thank you," she answered cheerfully.

"How old is your baby?"

"Eleven months old, ma'am."

"Is your husband living?"

"No, ma'am; he died more than a year ago."

"How many children have you?"

"Four."

"All young?"

"Yes, ma'am. The oldest is only in her tenth year, but she is a good
little girl, and takes care of the baby for me almost as well as a
grown person. I don't know what I would do without her."

"But ain't you afraid to leave them all at home alone, for so long a
time?"

"No, ma'am. Jane takes excellent care of them, and she is so kind
that they will obey her as well as they do me. I don't know what in
the world I would do without her. I am certainly blessed in having
so good a child."

"And only in her tenth year!" said I--the image of my Alice coming
before my mind, with the thought of the little use she would be as a
nurse and care-taker of her younger brothers and sisters.

"She is young, I know," returned the washerwoman--"too young to be
confined down as much as she is. But then she is a very patient
child, and knows that her mother has a great deal to do. I often
wish it was easier for her; though, as it can't be helped, I don't
let it fret me, for you know that would do no good."

"But how in the world, Mrs. Partridge," said I, "do you manage to
provide for four children, and do for them at the same time?"

"I find it hard work," she replied; "and sometimes I feel
discouraged for a little while; but by patience and perseverance I
manage to get along."

Mrs. Partridge went to her washing, and I sat down in my comfortable
room, having a servant in every department of my family, and ample
means for the supply of every comfort and luxury I could reasonably
desire.

"If she can get along by patience and perseverance," said I to
myself, "it's a shame for me that I can't." Still, for all this,
when I thought of losing my cook through the bad influence of Netty,
the chambermaid, I felt worried; and thinking about this, and what I
should do for another cook, and the trouble always attendant upon
bringing a new domestic into the house, made me, after a while, feel
almost as unhappy as before. It was not long before Netty came into
my room, saying, as she did so--

"Mrs. Smith, what frock shall I put on Alice?"

"The one with a blue sprig," I replied.

"That's in the wash," was answered.

"In the wash!" said I, in a fretful tone. "How came it in the wash?"

"It was dirty."

"No, it wasn't any such thing. It would have done very well for her
to put on as a change to-day and to-morrow."

"Well, ma'am, it's in the wash, and no help for it now," said Netty,
quite pertly.

I was dreadfully provoked with her, and had it on my tongue to order
her to leave my presence instantly. But I choked down my rising
indignation.

"Take the red and white one, then," said I.

"The sleeve's nearly torn off of that. There isn't any one that she
can wear except her white muslin."

"Oh dear! It's too bad! What shall I do? The children are all in
rags and tatters!"

And in this style I fretted away for three or four minutes, while
Netty stood waiting for my decision as to what Alice was to wear.

"Shall she put on the white muslin?" she at length asked.

"No, indeed! Certainly not! A pretty condition she'd have it in
before night! Go and get me the red and white frock, and I will mend
it. You aught to have told me it was torn this morning. You knew
there was nothing for the child to put on ut this. I never saw such
a set as you are!"

Netty flirted away, grumbling to herself. When she came in, she
threw the frock into my lap with manner so insolent and provoking
that I could hardly keep from breaking out upon her and rating her
soundly. One thing that helped to restrain me was the recollection
of sundry ebullitions of a like nature that had neither produced
good effects nor left my mind in a state of much self-respect or
tranquillity.

I repaired the torn sleeve, while Netty stood by. It was the work of
but five minutes.

"Be sure," said I, as I handed the garment to Netty, "to see that
one of Alice's frocks is ironed first thing to-morrow morning."

The girl heard, of course, but she made no answer. That was rather
more of a condescension than she was willing to make just then.

Instead of thinking how easily the difficulty of the clean frock for
Alice had been gotten over, I began fretting myself because I had
not been able to procure a seamstress, although the children were
"all in rags and tatters."

"What is to be done?" I said, half crying, as I began to rock myself
backward and forward in the great rocking-chair. "I am out of all
heart." For an hour I continued to rock and fret myself, and then
came to the desperate resolution to go to work and try what I could
do with my own hands. But where was I to begin? What was I to take
hold of first? All the children were in rags.

"Not one of them has a decent garment to his back," said I.

So, after worrying for a whole hour about what I should do, and
where I should begin, I abandoned the idea of attempting any thing
myself, in despair, and concluded the perplexing debate by taking
another hearty crying-spell. The poor washerwoman was forgotten
during most of this afternoon. My own troubles were too near the
axis of vision, and shut out all other objects.

The dusky twilight had begun to fall, and I was still sitting idly
in my chamber, and as unhappy as I could be. I felt completely
discouraged. How _was_ I to get along? I had been trying for weeks,
in vain, to get a good seamstress; and yet had no prospect of
obtaining one. I was going to lose my cook, and, in all probability,
my chambermaid. What would I do? No light broke in through the
cloudy veil that overhung my mind. The door opened, and Agnes, who
had come up to my room, said--

"Mrs. Partridge is done."

I took out my purse, and had selected therefrom the change necessary
to pay the washerwoman, when a thought of her caused me to say--

"Tell Mrs. Partridge to come up and see me."

My thoughts and feelings were changing. By the time the washerwoman
came in, my interest in her was alive again.

"Sit down," said I, to the tired-looking creature who sank into a
chair, evidently much wearied.

"It's hard work, Mrs. Partridge," said I.

"Yes, ma'am, it is rather hard. But I am thankful for health and
strength to enable me to go through with it. I know some poor women
who have to work as hard as I do, and yet do not know what it is to
feel well for an hour at a time."

"Poor creatures!" said I. "It is very hard! How in the world can
they do it?"

"We can do a great deal, ma'am, when it comes the pinch; and it is
much pleasanter to do, I find, than to think about it. If I were to
think much I should give up in despair. But I pray the Lord each
morning to give me my daily bread, and thus far he has done it, and
will, I am sure, continue to do it to the end."

"Happy it is for you that you can so think and feel," I replied.
"But I am sure I could not be as you are, Mrs. Partridge. It would
kill me."

"I sincerely trust, ma'am, that you will never be called to pass
through what I have," said Mrs. Partridge. "And yet there are those
who have it still harder. There was a time when the thought of being
as poor as I now am, and of having to work so hard, would have been
terrible to me; and yet I do not know that I was so very much
happier then than I am now, though I confess I ought to have been. I
had full and plenty of every thing brought into the house by my
husband, and had only to dispense in my family the blessings of God
sent to us. But I let things annoy me then more than they do now."

"But how can you help being worried, Mrs. Partridge? To be away from
my children as you have been away from yours all day would set me
wild. I would be sure some of them would be killed or dreadfully
hurt."

"Children are wonderfully protected," said Mrs. Partridge, in a
confident voice.

"So they are. But to think of four little children, the youngest
eleven months and the oldest not ten years old, left all alone, for
a whole day!"

"It is bad when we think about it, I know," returned Mrs. Partridge.
"It looks very bad! But I try and put that view of it out of my
mind. When I leave them in the morning they say they will be good
children. At dinner time I sometimes find them all fast asleep or
playing about. I never find them crying, or at all unhappy. Jane
loves the younger ones, and keeps them pleased all the time. In the
evening, when I get back from my work, there is generally no one
awake but Jane. She has given them the bread and milk I left for
their suppers, and undressed and put them to bed."

"Dear little girl! What a treasure she must be!" I could not help
saying.

"She is, indeed. I don't see how I could get along without her."

"You could not get along at all."

"Oh, yes, ma'am, I could. Some way would be provided for me," was
the confident reply.

I looked into the poor woman's face with wonder and admiration. So
patient, so trustful, and yet so very poor. The expression of her
countenance was beautiful in its calm religious hope, and it struck
me more than ever as familiar.

"Did I ever see you before, Mrs. Partridge?" I asked.

"Indeed, ma'am, I don't know. I am sure I have seen you somewhere.
No, now I recollect; it is your likeness to a young schoolmate that
makes your face so familiar. How much you do favour her, now I look
at you more closely."

"What was her name?" I asked.

"Her name was Flora S----."

"Indeed! Why, that was my name!"

"Your name! Did you go to Madame Martier's school?"

"I did."

"And can you indeed be my old schoolmate, Flora S----?"

"My maiden name was Flora S----, and I went to Madame Martier's.
Your face is also familiar, but how to place you I do not know."

"Don't you remember Helen Sprague?"

"Helen Sprague! This can't be Helen Sprague, surely! Yes! I remember
now. Why, Helen?" and I stepped forward and grasped her hand. "I am
both glad and sorry to see you. To think that, after the lapse of
fifteen years, we should meet thus! How in the world is it that
fortune has been so unkind to you? I remember hearing it said that
you had married very well."

"I certainly never had cause to regret my marriage," replied Mrs.
Partridge, with more feeling than she had yet shown. "While my
husband lived I had every external blessing that I could ask. But,
just before he died, somehow or other he got behind-hand in his
business, and after his death, there being no one to see to things,
what he left was seized upon and sold, leaving me friendless and
almost penniless. Since then, the effort to get food and clothes for
my children has been so constant and earnest, that I have scarcely
had time to sit down and grieve over my losses and sufferings. It is
one perpetual struggle for life. And yet, though I cannot now keep
the tears from my eyes, I will not say that I am unhappy. Thus far,
all things necessary for me have come. I yet have my little flock
together, and a place that bears the sacred name of home."

I looked into Helen's face, over which tears were falling, and
wondered if I were not dreaming. At school she had been the
favourite of all, she was so full of good humour, and had such a
cheerful, peace-loving spirit. Her parents were poor, but
respectable people, who died when Helen was fifteen years old. She
was then taken from school, and I never saw her afterward until she
came to my house in the capacity of a washerwoman, hundreds of miles
away from the scenes of our early years.

"But can't you find easier work than washing?" I asked. "Are you not
handy with your needle?"

"The only work I have been able to get has been from the clothing
men, and they pay so little that I can't live on it."

"Can you do fine sewing?" I asked.

"Yes, I call myself handy with my needle."

"Can you make children's clothes?"

"Boy's clothes?"

"No. Girl's clothing."

"Oh, yes."

"I'm very much in want of some one. My children are all in"--rags
and tatters I was going to say, but I checked myself--"are all in
need of clothes, and so far I have not been able to get anybody to
sew for me. If you like, I will give you three or four weeks' sewing
at least."

"I shall be very glad to have it, and very thankful for your
kindness in offering it to me," returned Mrs. Partridge, rising from
her chair, and adding as she did so--

"But I must be getting home. It is nearly dark, and Jane will be
anxious to see me back again."

I handed her the seventy-five cents she had earned for washing for
me during a whole day. Promising to come over and see me early in
the morning about the sewing, she withdrew, and I was left again to
my own reflections.

"If ever a murmurer and complainer received a severe rebuke, it is
I!" was the first almost audible thought that passed through my
mind. "To think that I, with my cup full and running over with
blessings, should make myself and all around me unhappy, because a
few minor things are not just to my satisfaction, while this woman,
who toils like a slave from morning until night, and who can hardly
procure food and clothing for her children, from whom she is almost
constantly separated, is patient and hopeful, makes me feel as if I
deserved to lose what I have refused to enjoy."

On the next morning Mrs. Partridge called quite early. She cut and
fitted several frocks for the children, at which work she seemed
very handy, and then took them home to make. She sewed for me five
weeks, and then got work in another family where I recommended her.
Since then, she has been kept constantly employed in sewing, at good
prices, by about six families. In all of these I have spoken of her
and created an interest in her favour. The mere wages that she earns
is much less than what she really receives. All her children's
clothes are given to her, and she receives many a bag of meal and
load of coal without knowing from whence it comes. In fact, her
condition is more comfortable in every way than it was, and, in
fact, so is mine. The lesson of patience I learned from Mrs.
Partridge in my first, and in many subsequent interviews, impressed
itself deeply upon my mind, and caused me to look at and value the
good I had, rather than fret over the few occurrences that were not
altogether to my wishes. I saw, too, how the small trouble to me had
been the means of working out a great good to her. My need of a
washerwoman, about which I had been so annoyed, and the temporary
want of a seamstress which I had experienced--light things as they
should have been--led me to search about for aid, and,
providentially, to fall upon Mrs. Partridge, who needed just what it
was in my power to do for her.

Whenever I find myself falling into my old habit, which I am sorry
to say is too frequently the case, I turn my thoughts to this poor
woman, who is still toiling on under heavy life-burdens, yet with
meekness and patience, and bowing my head in shame, say--

"If _she_ is thankful for the good she has, how deep should be _my_
gratitude!"






I DIDN'T THINK OF THAT!





MR. LAWSON, the tailor, was considered a very good member of
society. He was industrious, paid what he owed, was a kind husband
and father and a pleasant and considerate neighbour. He was,
moreover, attached to the church, and, by his brethren in the faith,
considered a pious and good man. And, to say the truth, Mr. Lawson
would compare favourably with most people.

One day as Mr. Lawson stood at his cutting board, shears in hand, a
poorly dressed young woman entered his shop, and approaching him,
asked, with some embarrassment and timidity, if he had any work to
give out.

"What can you do?" asked the tailor, looking rather coldly upon his
visitor.

"I can make pantaloons and vests," replied the girl.

"Have you ever worked for the merchant tailors?"

"Yes, sir, I worked for Mr. Wright."

"Hasn't he any thing for you to do?"

"No, not just now. He has regular hands who always get the
preference."

"Did your work suit him?"

"He never found fault with it."

"Where do you live?"

"In Cherry street," replied the young woman.

"At No.--."

Mr. Lawson stood and mused for a short time.

"I have a vest here," he at length said, taking a small bundle from
a shelf, "which I want by tomorrow evening at the latest. If you
think you can make it very neatly, and have it done in time, you can
take it."

"It shall be done in time," said the young woman, reaching out
eagerly for the bundle.

"And remember, I shall expect it made well. If I like your work, I
will give you more."

"I will try to please you," returned the girl, in a low voice.

"To-morrow evening, recollect."

"Yes, sir. I will have it done."

The girl turned and went quickly away. As she walked along
hurriedly, her slender form bent forward, and there was an
unsteadiness in her steps, as if from weakness. She did not linger a
moment, nor heed any thing that was passing in the street.

A back room in the third story of an old house in Cherry street was
the home of the poor sewing girl. As she entered, she said, in a
cheerful voice, to a person who was lying upon a bed which the room
contained--

"I have got work, sister. It is a vest, and it must be done by
to-morrow evening."

"Can you finish it in time?" inquired the invalid in a faint voice.

"Oh, yes, easily;" and as she spoke, she laid off her bonnet and
shawl hurriedly and sat down to unroll the work she had obtained.

The vest proved to be of white Marseilles. As soon as the invalid
sister saw this, she said--

"I'm afraid you won't be able to get that done in time, Ellen; it is
very particular work. To stitch the edges well will alone take you
many hours."

"I will sit up late, and get a fair start to-night, Mary. Then I can
easily finish it in time. You know a vest is only a day's work for a
good sewer, and I have nearly a day and a half before me."

"Yes; but you must remember, Ellen, that you are not very fast with
your needle, and are, besides, far from being well. The work, too,
is of the most particular kind, and cannot be hurried."

"Don't fear for me in the least, Mary. I will do all I have engaged
to do," and the young woman, who had already arranged the cut-out
garment, took a portion of it in her lap and commenced her task.

The two sisters, here introduced, were poor, in bad health, and
without friends. Mary, the older, had declined rapidly within a few
months, and become so much exhausted as to be obliged to keep her
bed most of the time. The task of providing for the wants of both
fell, consequently, upon Ellen. Increased exertion was more than her
delicate frame could well endure. Daily were the vital energies of
her system becoming more and more exhausted, a fact of which she was
painfully conscious, and which she, with studious care, sought to
conceal from Mary.

When, through loss of friends and change of circumstances, the two
sisters were thrown entirely dependent upon their own exertions for
a livelihood, they, with prudent forethought, immediately applied
themselves to the learning of a trade in order to have the means of
support. Confinement for twelve or fourteen hours a day, sitting in
one position--a great change for them--could not long be endured
without producing ill effects on frail young creatures at best.
Mary, the older, failed first; and, at the time of which we are
writing, had so far declined as to be little more than the shadow of
any thing earthly.

With her own unaided hands, Ellen found it impossible to earn enough
for even their most simple need. Often Mary was without medicine,
because there was no money left after food and fuel were bought.
More and more earnestly did Ellen apply herself as want came in more
varied shapes; but the returns of her labour became daily less and
less adequate to meet the demands of nature.

The busy season had passed, and trade was dull. Ellen worked for
only two merchant tailors, and with them she was considered an extra
hand. When business fell off, as the season approached towards
mid-summer, she was the first to receive notice that no more work
could be given out for the present. With a disheartened feeling she
returned home on receiving this intelligence. Mary saw that
something was wrong the moment she entered, and tenderly inquired
the cause of her trouble. On learning what it was, she endeavoured
to comfort and assure her, but to little purpose.

As soon as Ellen could regain sufficient composure of mind, she went
forth in search of work at other shops. To one of her peculiar,
timid, and shrinking disposition this was a severe trial. But there
was no passing it by. Three days elapsed, during which every effort
to get work proved unsuccessful. Even the clothing stores had
nothing to give out to extra hands.

Reduced to their last penny, Ellen was almost in despair, when she
called upon Mr. Lawson. The garment he gave her to make seemed to
her like help sent from heaven. Cheerfully did she work upon it
until a late hour at night, and she was ready to resume her labour
with the rising sun. But, as Mary had feared, the work did not
progress altogether to her satisfaction. She had never made over one
or two white Marseilles vests, and found that she was not so well
skilled in the art of neat and accurate stitching as was required to
give the garment a beautiful and workmanlike appearance. The
stitches did not impress themselves along the edges with the
accuracy that her eye told her was required, and she was troubled to
find that, be as careful as she would, the pure white fabric grew
soiled beneath her fingers. Mary, to whom she frequently submitted
the work, tried to encourage her; but her eyes were not deceived.

It was after dark when Ellen finished the garment. She was weary and
faint; for she had taken no food since morning, and had been bending
over her work, with very little intermission, the whole day; and she
had no hope of receiving any thing more to do, for Mr. Lawson, she
was sure, would not be pleased with the way the vest was made. But,
want of every thing, and particularly food for herself and sister,
made the sum of seventy-five cents, to be received for the garment,
a little treasure in her eyes; and she hurried off with the vest the
moment it was finished.

"I will bring home a little tea, sister," she said, as she was about
leaving; "I am sure a cup of tea will do you good; and I feel as if
it would revive and strengthen me."

Mary looked at Ellen with a tender, pitying expression, while her
large bright eyes shone glassy in the dim rays sent forth by a poor
lamp; but she did not reply. She had a gnawing in her stomach, that
made her feel faint, and a most earnest craving for nourishing and
even stimulating food, the consequence of long abstinence as well as
from the peculiarity of her disease. But she did not breathe a word
of this to Ellen, who would, she knew, expend for her every cent of
the money she was about to receive, if she was aware of the morbid
appetite from which she was suffering.

"I will be back soon," added Ellen, as she retired from the room.

Mary sighed deeply when alone. She raised her eyes upwards for a few
moments, then closing them and clasping her hands tightly together,
she lay with her white face turned towards the light, more the image
of death than of life.

"Here it is past eight o'clock, and that vest is not yet in," said
Mr. Lawson, in a fretful tone. "I had my doubts about the girl when
I gave it to her. But she looked so poor, and seemed so earnest
about work, that I was weak enough to intrust her with the garment.
But I will take care, another time, how I let my feeling get the
better of my judgment."

Before the individual had time to reply, Ellen came in with the
vest, and laid it on the counter, at which the tailor was standing.
She said nothing, neither did the tailor make any remark; but the
latter unfolded the vest in the way that plainly showed him not to
be in a very placid frame of mind.

"Goodness!" he ejaculated, after glancing hurriedly at the garment.

The girl shrunk back from the counter, and looked frightened.

"Well, this is a pretty job for one to bring in!" said the tailor,
in an excited tone of voice. "A pretty job, indeed! It looks as if
it had been dragged through a duck puddle. And such work!"

He tossed the garment from him in angry contempt, and walked away to
the back part of the shop, leaving Ellen standing almost as still as
a statue.

"That vest was to have been home to-night," he said, as he threw
himself into a chair. "Of course, the customer will be disappointed
and angry, and I shall lose him. But I don't care half so much for
that, as I do for not being able to keep my word with him. It is too
much!"

Ellen would have instantly retired, but the thought of her sick
sister forced her to remain. She felt that she could not go until
she had received the price of making the vest, for their money was
all gone, and they had no food in the house. She had lingered for a
little while, when the tailor called out to her, and said--

"You needn't stand there, Miss! thinking that I am going to pay you
for ruining the job. It's bad enough to lose my material, and
customer into the bargain. In justice you should be made to pay for
the vest. But there is no hope for that. So take yourself away as
quickly as possible, and never let me set eyes on you again."

Ellen did not reply, but turned away slowly, and, with her eyes upon
the floor and her form drooping, retired from the shop. After she
had gone, Mr. Lawson returned to the front part of the store, and
taking up the vest, brought it back to where an elderly man was
sitting, and holding it towards him, said, by way of apology for the
part he had taken in the little scene:

"That's a beautiful article for a gentleman to wear--isn't it?"

The man made no reply, and the tailor, after a pause, added--

"I refused to pay her, as a matter of principle. She knew she
couldn't make the garment when she took it away. She will be more
careful how she tries again to impose herself upon customer tailors
as a good vest maker."

"Perhaps," said the old gentleman, in a mild way, "necessity drove
her to you for work, and tempted her to undertake a job that
required greater skill than she possessed. She certainly looked very
poor."

"It was because she appeared so poor and miserable that I was weak
enough to place the vest in her hands," replied Mr. Lawson, in a
less severe tone of voice. "But it was an imposition in her to ask
for work that she did not know how to make."

"Brother Lawson," said the old gentleman, who was a fellow member of
the church, "we should not blame, with too much severity, the person
who, in extreme want, undertakes to perform work for which he does
not possess the requisite skill. The fact that a young girl, like
the one who was just here, is willing, in her extreme poverty, to
labour, instead of sinking into vice and idleness, shows her to
possess both virtue and integrity of character, and these we should
be willing to encourage, even at some sacrifice. Work is slack now,
as you are aware, and there is but little doubt that she had been to
many places seeking employment before she came to you. It may
be--and this is a very probable suggestion--that she did not come to
you for work until she, and those who may be dependent upon the
meagre returns of her labour, were reduced to the utmost extremity.
And, it may be, that even their next meal was dependent upon the
receipt of the money that was expected to be paid for making the
vest you hold in your hand. The expression of her face as she turned
away, and her slow, lingering step and drooping form, as she left
the shop, had in them a language which told me of all this, and even
more."

A great change came over the tailor's countenance.

"I didn't think of that," fell in a low tone from his lips.

"I didn't suppose you did, brother Lawson," said his monitor. "We
are all more apt to think of ourselves than of others. The girl
promised you the vest this evening?"

"Yes."

"And, so far as that was concerned, performed her contract. Is the
vest made so very badly?"

Mr. Lawson took up the garment, and examined it more carefully.

"Well, I can't say that the work is so very badly done. But it is
dreadfully soiled and rumpled, and is not as neat a job as it should
be, nor at all such as I wished it. The customer for whom it is
intended is very particular, and I was anxious to please him."

"All this is very annoying, of course; but still we should always be
ready to make some excuse for the short-comings of others. There is
no telling under how many disadvantages the poor girl may have
laboured in making this vest. She may have had a sick mother, or a
father, or sister to attend to, which constantly interfered with and
interrupted her. She may have been compelled, from this cause, to
work through a greater part of the night, in order to keep her
promise to you. Under such circumstances, even you could hardly
wonder if the garment were not made well, or if it came soiled from
her hands. And even you could hardly find it in your heart to speak
unkindly to the poor creature, much less turn her away angrily, and
without the money she had toiled for so earnestly."

"I didn't think of that," was murmured in a low abstracted voice.

"Who could wonder," continued the old man, "if that unhappy girl,
deprived of the reward of honest labour, and driven angrily away as
you drove her just now, should in despair step aside into ruin, thus
sacrificing herself, body and soul, in order to save from want and
deprivation those she could not sustain by virtuous toil?"

"I didn't think of that," fell quick and in an agitated voice from
the tailor's lips, as, dropping the garment he held in his hand, he
hurried around his counter and left the shop.

Ellen was not tempted as the friend of Mr. Lawson had supposed; but
there are hundreds who, under like circumstances, would have turned
aside. From the shop of the tailor she went slowly homeward; at her
heart was a feeling of utter despondency. She had struggled long, in
weariness and pain, with her lot; but now she felt that the struggle
was over. The hope of the hour had failed, and it seemed to her the
last hope.

When Ellen entered the room where her sister lay, the sight of her
expectant face (for the desire for nourishing, refreshing food had
been stronger than usual with Mary, and her fancy had been dwelling
upon the pleasant repast that was soon to be spread before her) made
the task of communicating the cruel repulse she had received tenfold
more painful. Without uttering a word, she threw herself upon the
bed beside her sister, and, burying her face in a pillow,
endeavoured to smother the sobs that came up convulsively from her
bosom. Mary asked no question. She understood the meaning of Ellen's
agitation well; it told her that she had been disappointed in the
expectation of receiving the money for her work.

Deep silence followed. Mary clasped her hands together and raised
her eyes upward, while Ellen lay motionless with her face hidden
where she had first concealed it. There was a knock at the door, but
no voice bade the applicant for admission enter. It was repeated;
but, if heard, it met no response. Then the latch was lifted, the
door swung open, and the tailor stepped into the room. The sound of
his feet aroused the passive sisters. The white face of Mary was to
him, at first, a startling image of death; but her large bright eyes
opened and turned upon him with an assurance that life still
lingered in its earthly tenement.

"Ellen, Ellen," said the sick girl, faintly.

Ellen, too, had heard the sound of footsteps on the floor, and she
now raised up slowly, and presented to Lawson her sad, tearful
countenance.

"I was wrong to speak to you as I did," said the tailor without
preface, advancing towards the bed and holding out to Ellen the
money she had earned. "There is the price of the vest; it is better
made than I at first thought it was. To-morrow I will send you more
work. Try and cheer up. Are you so very poor?"

The last two sentences were uttered in a voice of encouragement and
sympathy. Ellen looked her thankfulness, but did not venture a
reply. Her heart was too full to trust her lips with utterance.

Feeling that his presence, under all circumstances, could not but be
embarrassing, Mr. Lawson, after taking two or three dollars from his
pocket and placing them on the table with the remark--"Take this in
advance for work," retired and left the poor sisters in a different
frame of mind from what they were in when he entered. Shortly after
they received a basket, in which was a supply of nourishing food.
Though no one's name was sent with it, they were not in doubt as to
whence it came.

Mr. Lawson was not an unfeeling man, but, like too many others in
the world, he did not always "think."






TAKING BOARDERS.

CHAPTER I.





A LADY, past the prime of life, sat thoughtful, as twilight fell
duskily around her, in a room furnished with great elegance. That
her thoughts were far from being pleasant, the sober, even sad
expression of her countenance too clearly testified. She was dressed
in deep mourning. A faint sigh parted her lips as she looked up, on
hearing the door of the apartment in which she was sitting open. The
person who entered, a tall and beautiful girl, also in mourning,
came and sat down by her side, and leaned her head, with a pensive,
troubled air, down upon her shoulder.

"We must decide upon something, Edith, and that with as little delay
as possible," said the elder of the two ladies, soon after the
younger one entered. This was said in a tone of great despondency.

"Upon what shall we decide, mother?" and the young lady raised her
head from its reclining position, and looked earnestly into the eyes
of her parent.

"We must decide to do something by which the family can be
sustained. Your father's death has left us, unfortunately and
unexpectedly, as you already know, with scarcely a thousand dollars
beyond the furniture of this house, instead of an independence which
we supposed him to possess. His death was sad and afflictive
enough--more than it seemed I could bear. But to have this added!"

The voice of the speaker sank into a low moan, and was lost in a
stifled sob.

"But what _can_ we do, mother?" asked Edith, in an earnest tone,
after pausing long enough for her mother to regain the control of
her feelings.

"I have thought of but one thing that is at all respectable,"
replied the mother.

"What is that?"

"Taking boarders."

"Why, mother!" ejaculated Edith, evincing great surprise, "how can
you think of such a thing?"

"Because driven to do so by the force of circumstances."

"Taking boarders! Keeping a boarding-house! Surely we have not come
to this!"

An expression of distress blended with the look of astonishment in
Edith's face.

"There is nothing disgraceful in keeping a boarding-house," returned
the mother. "A great many very respectable ladies have been
compelled to resort to it as a means of supporting their families."

"But to think of it, mother! To think of _your_ keeping a
boarding-house! I cannot bear it."

"Is there any thing else that can be done, Edith?"

"Don't ask _me_ such a question."

"If, then, you cannot think for me, you must try and think with me,
my child. Something will have to be done to create an income. In
less than twelve months, every dollar I have will be expended; and
then what are we to do? Now, Edith, is the time for us to look at
the matter earnestly, and to determine the course we will take.
There is no use to look away from it. A good house in a central
situation, large enough for the purpose, can no doubt be obtained;
and I think there will be no difficulty about our getting boarders
enough to fill it. The income or profit from these will enable us
still to live comfortably, and keep Edward and Ellen at school."

"It is hard," was the only remark Edith made to this.

"It is hard, my daughter; very hard! I have thought and thought
about it until my whole mind has been thrown into confusion. But it
will not do to think for ever; there must be action. Can I see want
stealing in upon my children, and sit and fold my hands supinely?
No! And to you, Edith, my oldest child, I look for aid and for
counsel. Stand up bravely by my side."

"And you are in earnest in all this?" said Edith, whose mind seemed
hardly able to realize the truth of their position. From her
earliest days, all the blessings that money could procure had been
freely scattered around her feet. As she grew up and advanced
towards womanhood, she had moved in the most fashionable circles,
and there acquired the habit of estimating people according to their
wealth and social standing, rather than by qualities of mind. In her
view, it appeared degrading in a woman to enter upon any kind of
employment for money; and with the keeper of a boarding-house,
particularly, she had always associated something low, vulgar, and
ungenteel. At the thought of her mother's engaging in such an
occupation, when the suggestion was made her mind instantly
revolted. It appeared to her as if disgrace would be the inevitable
consequence.

"And you are in earnest in all this?" was an expression mingling her
clear conviction of the truth of what at first appeared so strange a
proposition, and her astonishment that the necessities of their
situation were such as to drive them to so humiliating a resource.

"Deeply in earnest," was the mother's reply.

"We are left alone in the world. He who cared for us and provided
for us so liberally has been taken away, and we have nowhere to look
for aid but to the resources that are in ourselves. These well
applied, will give us, I feel strongly assured, all that we need.
The thing to decide is, what we ought to do. If we choose aright,
all will doubtless come out right. To choose aright is, therefore,
of the first importance; and to do this, we must not suffer
distorting suggestions nor the appeals of a false pride to influence
our minds in the least. You are my oldest child, Edith; and, as
such, I cannot but look upon you as, to some extent, jointly with
me, the guardian of your younger brothers and sisters. True, Miriam
is of age, and Henry nearly so; but still you are the eldest--your
mind is more matured, and in your judgment I have the most
confidence. Try and forget, Edith, all but the fact that, unless we
make an exertion, one home for all cannot be retained. Are you
willing that we should be scattered like leaves in the autumn wind?
No! you would consider that one of the greatest calamities that
could befall us--an evil to prevent which we should use every effort
in our power. Do you, not see this clearly?"

"I do, mother," was replied by Edith in a more rational tone of
voice than that in which she had yet spoken.

"To open a store of any kind would involve five times the exposure
of a boarding-house; and, moreover, I know nothing of business."

"Keeping a store? Oh, no! we couldn't do that. Think of the dreadful
exposure!"

"But in taking boarders we only increase our family, and all goes on
as usual. To my mind, it is the most genteel thing that we can do.
Our style of living will be the same; our waiter and all our
servants will be retained. In fact, to the eye there will be little
change, and the world need never know how greatly reduced our
circumstances have become."

This mode of argument tended to reconcile Edith to taking boarders.
Something, she saw, had to be done. Opening a store was felt to be
out of the question; and as to commencing a school, the thought was
repulsed at the very first suggestion.

A few friends were consulted on the subject, and all agreed that the
best thing for the widow to do was to take boarders. Each one could
point to some lady who had commenced the business with far less
ability to make boarders comfortable, and who had yet got along very
well. It was conceded on all hands that it was a very genteel
business, and that some of the first ladies had been compelled to
resort to it, without being any the less respected. Almost every one
to whom the matter was referred spoke in favour of the thing, and
but a single individual suggested difficulty; but what he said was
not permitted to have much weight. This individual was a brother of
the widow, who had always been looked upon as rather eccentric. He
was a bachelor and without fortune, merely enjoying a moderate
income as book-keeper in the office of an insurance company. But
more of him hereafter.





CHAPTER II.




MRS. DARLINGTON, the widow we have just introduced to the reader,
had five children. Edith, the oldest daughter, was twenty-two years
of age at the time of her father's death; and Henry, the oldest son,
just twenty. Next to Henry was Miriam, eighteen years old. The ages
of the two youngest children, Ellen and Edward, were ten and eight.

Mr. Darlington, while living, was a lawyer of distinguished ability,
and his talents and reputation at the Philadelphia bar enabled him
to accumulate a handsome fortune. Upon this he had lived for some
years in a style of great elegance. About a year before his death,
he had been induced to enter into some speculation that promised
great results; but he found, when too late to retreat, that he had
been greatly deceived. Heavy losses soon followed. In a struggle to
recover himself, he became still further involved; and, ere the
expiration of a twelvemonth, saw every thing falling from under him.
The trouble brought on by this was the real cause of his death,
which was sudden, and resulted from inflammation and congestion of
the brain.

Henry Darlington, the oldest son, was a young man of promising
talents. He remained at college until a few months before his
father's death, when he returned home and commenced the study of
law, in which he felt ambitious to distinguish himself.

Edith, the oldest daughter, possessed a fine mind, which had been
well educated. She had some false views of life, natural to her
position; but, apart from this, was a girl of sound sense and great
force of character. Thus far in life she had not encountered
circumstances of a nature calculated to develop what was in her. The
time for that, however, was approaching. Miriam, her sister, was a
quiet, gentle, retiring, almost timid girl. She went into company
with reluctance, and then always shrunk as far from observation as
it was possible to get; but, like most quiet, retiring persons,
there were deep places in her mind and heart. She thought and felt
more than was supposed. All who knew Miriam loved her. Of the
younger children we need not here speak.

Mrs. Darlington knew comparatively nothing of the world beyond her
own social circle. She was, perhaps, as little calculated for doing
what she proposed to do as a woman could well be. She had no habits
of economy, and had. never in her life been called upon to make
calculations of expense in household matters. There was a tendency
to generosity rather than selfishness in her character, and she
rarely thought evil of any one. But all that she was need not here
be set forth, for it will appear as our narrative progresses.

Mr. Hiram Ellis, the brother of Mrs. Darlington to whom brief
allusion has been made, was not a great favourite in the
family--although Mr. Darlington understood his good qualities, and
very highly respected him--because he had not much that was
prepossessing in his external appearance, and was thought to be a
little eccentric. Moreover, he was not rich--merely holding the
place of book-keeper in an insurance office, at a moderate salary.
But as he had never married, and had only himself to support, his
income supplied amply all his wants, and left him a small annual
surplus.

After the death of Mr. Darlington, he visited his sister much more
frequently than before. Of the exact condition of her affairs, he
was much better acquainted than she supposed. The anxiety which she
felt, some months after her husband's death, when the result of the
settlement of his estate became known, led her to be rather more
communicative. After determining to open a boarding-house, she said
to him, on the occasion of his visiting her one evening--

"As it is necessary for me to do something, Hiram, I have concluded
to move to a better location, and take a few boarders."

"Don't do any such thing, Margaret," her brother made answer.
"Taking boarders! It's the last thing of which a woman should
think."

"Why do you say that, Hiram?" asked Mrs. Darlington, evincing no
little surprise at this unexpected reply.

"Because I think that a woman who has a living to make can hardly
try a more doubtful experiment. Not one in ten ever succeeds in
doing any thing."

"But why, Hiram? Why? I'm sure a great many ladies get a living in
that way."

"What you will never do, Margaret, mark my words for it. It takes a
woman of shrewdness, caution, and knowledge of the world, and one
thoroughly versed in household economy, to get along in this
pursuit. Even if you possessed all these prerequisites to success,
you have just the family that ought not to come in contact with
anybody and everybody that find their way into boarding-houses."

"I must do something, Hiram," said Mrs. Darlington, evincing
impatience at the opposition of her brother.

"I perfectly agree with you in that, Margaret," replied Mr. Ellis.
"The only doubt is as to your choice of occupation. You think that
your best plan will be to take boarders; while I think you could not
fall upon a worse expedient."

"Why do you think so?"

"Have I not just said?"

"What?"

"Why, that, in the first place, it takes a woman of great
shrewdness, caution, and knowledge of the world, and one thoroughly
versed in household economy, to succeed in the business."

"I'm not a fool, Hiram!" exclaimed Mrs. Darlington, losing her
self-command.

"Perhaps you may alter your opinion on that head some time within
the next twelve months," coolly returned Mr. Ellis, rising and
beginning to button up his coat.

"Such language to me, at this time, is cruel!" said Mrs. Darlington,
putting her handkerchief to her eyes.

"No," calmly replied her brother, "not cruel, but kind. I wish to
save you from trouble."

"What else can I do?" asked the widow, removing the handkerchief
from her face.

"Many things, I was going to say," returned Mr. Ellis. "But, in
truth, the choice of employment is not very great. Still, something
with a fairer promise than taking boarders may be found."

"If you can point me to some better way, brother," said Mrs.
Darlington, "I shall feel greatly indebted to you."

"Almost any thing is better. Suppose you and Edith were to open a
school. Both of you are well--"

"Open a school!" exclaimed Mrs. Darlington, interrupting her
brother, and exhibiting most profound astonishment. "_I_ open a
school! I didn't think _you_ would take advantage of my grief and
misfortune to offer me an insult."

Mr. Ellis buttoned the top button of his coat nervously, as his
sister said this, and, partly turning himself towards the door,
said--

"Teaching school is a far more useful, and, if you will, more
respectable employment, than keeping a boarding-house. This you
ought to see at a glance. As a teacher, you would be a minister of
truth to the mind, and have it in your power to bend from evil and
lead to good the young immortals committed to your care; while, as a
boarding-house keeper, you would merely furnish food for the natural
body--a use below what you are capable of rendering to society."

But Mrs. Darlington was in no state of mind to feel the force of
such an argument. From the thought of a school she shrunk as from
something degrading, and turned from it with displeasure.

"Don't mention such a thing to me," said she fretfully, "I will not
listen to the proposition."

"Oh, well, Margaret, as you please," replied her brother, now moving
towards the door. "When you ask my advice, I will give it according
to my best judgment, and with a sincere desire for your good. If,
however, it conflicts with your views, reject it; but, in simple
justice to me, do so in a better spirit than you manifest on the
present occasion. Good evening!"

Mrs. Darlington was too much disturbed in mind to make a reply, and
Mr. Hiram Ellis left the room without any attempt on the part of his
sister to detain him. On both sides there had been the indulgence of
rather more impatience and intolerance than was commendable.





CHAPTER III.




IN due time, Mrs. Darlington removed to a house in Arch Street, the
annual rent of which was six hundred dollars, and there began her
experiment. The expense of a removal, and the cost of the additional
chamber furniture required, exhausted about two hundred dollars of
the widow's slender stock of money, and caused her, to feel a little
troubled when she noticed the diminution.

She began her new business with two boarders, a gentleman and his
wife by the name of Grimes, who had entered her house on the
recommendation of a friend. They were to pay her the sum of eight
dollars a week. A young man named Barling, clerk in a wholesale
Market Street house, came next; and he introduced, soon after, a
friend of his, a clerk in the same store, named Mason. They were
room-mates, and paid three dollars and a half each. Three or four
weeks elapsed before any further additions were made; then an
advertisement brought several applications. One was from a gentleman
who wanted two rooms for himself and wife, a nurse and four
children. He wanted the second story front and back chambers,
furnished, and was not willing to pay over sixteen dollars, although
his oldest child was twelve and his youngest four years of
age--seven good eaters and two of the best rooms in the house for
sixteen dollars!

Mrs. Darlington demurred. The man said--

"Very well, ma'am," in a tone of indifference. "I can find plenty of
accommodations quite as good as yours for the price I offer. It's
all I pay now." Poor Mrs. Darlington sighed. She had but fifteen
dollars yet in the house--that is, boarders who paid this amount
weekly--and the rent alone amounted to twelve dollars. Sixteen
dollars, she argued with herself, as she sat with her eyes upon the
floor, would make a great difference in her income; would, in fact,
meet all the expenses of the house. Two good rooms would still
remain, and all that she received for these would be so much clear
profit. Such was the hurried conclusion of Mrs. Darlington's mind.

"I suppose I will have to take you," said she, lifting her eyes to
the man's hard features. "But those rooms ought to bring me
twenty-four dollars."

"Sixteen is the utmost I will pay," replied the man. In fact, I did
think of offering only fourteen dollars. "But the rooms are fine,
and I like them. Sixteen is a liberal price. Your terms are
considerably above the ordinary range."

The widow sighed again.

If the man heard this sound, it did not touch a single chord of
feeling.

"Then it is understood that I am to have your rooms at sixteen
dollars?" said he.

"Yes, sir. I will take you for that."

"Very well. My name is Scragg. We will be ready to come in on Monday
next. You can have all prepared for us?"

"Yes, sir."

Scarcely had Mr. Scragg departed, when a gentleman called to know if
Mrs. Darlington had a vacant front room in the second story.

"I had this morning; but it is taken," replied the widow.

"Ah! I'm sorry for that."

"Will not a third story front room suit you?" "No. My wife is not in
very good health, and wishes a second story room. We pay twelve
dollars a week, and would even give more, if necessary, to obtain
just the accommodations we like. The situation of your house pleases
me. I'm sorry that I happen to be too late."

"Will you look at the room?" said Mrs. Darlington, into whose mind
came the desire to break the bad bargain she had just made.

"If you please," returned the man.

And both went up to the large and beautifully furnished chambers.

"Just the thing!" said the man, as he looked around, much pleased
with the appearance of every thing. "But I understood you to say
that it was taken."

"Why, yes," replied Mrs. Darlington, "I did partly engage it this
morning; but, no doubt, I can arrange with the family to take the
two rooms above, which will suit them just as well."

"If you can"--

"There'll be no difficulty, I presume. You'll pay twelve dollars a
week?"

"Yes."

"Only yourself and lady?"

"That's all."

"Very well, sir; you can have the room."

"It's a bargain, then. My name is Ring. Our week is up to-day where
we are; and, if it is agreeable, we will become your guests
to-morrow."

"Perfectly agreeable, Mr. Ring."

The gentleman bowed politely and retired.

Now Mrs. Darlington did not feel very comfortable when she reflected
on what she had done. The rooms in the second story were positively
engaged to Mr. Scragg, and now one of them was as positively engaged
to Mr. Ring. The face of Mr. Scragg she remembered very well. It was
a hard, sinister face, just such a one as we rarely forget because
of the disagreeable impression it makes. As it came up distinctly
before the eyes of her mind, she was oppressed with a sense of
coming trouble. Nor did she feel altogether satisfied with what she
had done--satisfied in her own conscience.

On the next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Ring came and took possession of
the room previously engaged to Mr. Scragg. They were pleasant
people, and made a good first impression.

As day after day glided past, Mrs. Darlington felt more and more
uneasy about Mr. Scragg, with whom, she had a decided presentiment,
there would be trouble. Had she known where to find him, she would
have sent him a note, saying that she had changed her mind about the
rooms, and could not let him have them. But she was ignorant of his
address; and the only thing left for her was to wait until he came
on Monday, and then get over the difficulty in the best way
possible. She and Edith had talked over the matter frequently, and
had come to the determination to offer Mr. Scragg the two chambers
in the third story for fourteen dollars.

On Monday morning, Mrs. Darlington was nervous. This was the day on
which Mr. Scragg and family were to arrive, and she felt that there
would be trouble.

Mr. Ring, and the other gentlemen boarders, left soon after
breakfast. About ten o'clock, the door-bell rang. Mrs. Darlington
was in her room at the time changing her dress. Thinking that this
might be the announcement of Mr. Scragg's arrival, she hurried
through her dressing in order to get down to the parlour as quickly
as possible to meet him and the difficulty that was to be
encountered; but before she was in a condition to be seen, she heard
a man's voice on the stairs, saying--

"Walk up, my dear. The rooms on the second floor are ours."

Then came the noise of many feet in the passage, and the din of
children's voices. Mr. Scragg and his family had arrived.

Mrs. Ring was sitting with the morning paper in her hand, when her
door was flung widely open, and a strange man stepped boldly in,
saying, as he did so, to the lady who followed him--

"This is one of the chambers."

Mrs. Ring arose, bowed, and looked at the intruders with surprise
and embarrassment. Just then, four rude children bounded into the
room, spreading themselves around it, and making themselves
perfectly at home.

"There is some mistake, I presume," said Mrs. Scragg, on perceiving
a lady in the room, whose manner said plainly enough that they were
out of their place.

"Oh no! no mistake at all," replied Scragg.

"These are the two rooms I engaged."

Just then Mrs. Darlington entered, in manifest excitement.

"Walk down into the parlour, if you please," said she.

"These are our rooms," said Scragg, showing no inclination to vacate
the premises.

"Be kind enough to walk down into the parlour," repeated Mrs.
Darlington, whose sense of propriety was outraged by the man's
conduct, and who felt a corresponding degree of indignation.

With some show of reluctance, this invitation was acceded to, and
Mr. Scragg went muttering down stairs, followed by his brood. The
moment he left the chamber, the door was shut and locked by Mrs.
Ring, who was a good deal frightened by so unexpected an intrusion.

"What am I to understand by this, madam?" said Mr. Scragg, fiercely,
as soon as they had all reached the parlour, planting his hands upon
his hips as he spoke, drawing himself up, and looking at Mrs.
Darlington with a lowering countenance.

"Take a seat, madam," said Mrs. Darlington, addressing the man's
wife in a tone of forced composure. She was struggling for
self-possession.

The lady sat down.

"Will you be good enough to explain the meaning of all this, madam?"
repeated Mr. Scragg.

"The meaning is simply," replied Mrs. Darlington, "that I have let
the front room in the second story to a gentleman and his wife for
twelve dollars a week."

"The deuse you have!" said Mr. Scragg, with a particular exhibition
of gentlemanly indignation.

"And pray, madam, didn't you let both the rooms in the second story
to me for sixteen dollars?"

"I did; but"--

"Oh, very well. That's all I wish to know about it. The rooms were
rented to me, and from that day became mine. Please to inform the
lady and her husband that I am here with my family, and desire them
to vacate the chambers as quickly as possible. I'm a man that knows
his rights, and, knowing, always maintains them."

"You cannot have the rooms, sir. That is out of the question," said
Mrs. Darlington, looking both distressed and indignant.

"And I tell you that I will have them!" replied Scragg, angrily.

"Peter! Peter! Don't act so," now interposed Mrs. Scragg. "There's
no use in it."

"Ain't there, indeed? We'll see. Madam"--he addressed Mrs.
Darlington--"will you be kind enough to inform the lady and
gentleman who now occupy one of our rooms"--

"Mr. Scragg!" said Mrs. Darlington, in whose fainting heart his
outrageous conduct had awakened something of the right spirit--"Mr.
Scragg, I wish you to understand, once for all, that the front room
is taken and now occupied, and that you cannot have it."

"Madam!"

"It's no use for you to waste words, sir! What I say I mean. I have
other rooms in the house very nearly as good, and am willing to take
you for something less in consideration of this disappointment. If
that will meet your views, well; if not, let us have no more words
on the subject."

There was a certain something in Mrs. Darlington's tone of voice
that Scragg understood to mean a fixed purpose. Moreover, his mind
caught at the idea of getting boarded for something less than
sixteen dollars a week.

"Where are the rooms?" he asked gruffly.

"The third story chambers."

"Front?"

"Yes."

"I don't want to go to the third story."

"Very well. Then you can have the back chamber down stairs, and the
front chamber above."

"What will be your charge?"

"Fourteen dollars."

"That will do, Peter," said Mrs. Scragg. "Two dollars a week is
considerable abatement."

"It's something, of course. But I don't like this off and on kind of
business. When I make an agreement, I'm up to the mark, and expect
the same from everybody else. Will you let my wife see the rooms,
madam?"

"Certainly," replied Mrs. Darlington, and moved towards the door.
Mrs. Scragg followed, and so did all the juvenile Scraggs--the
latter springing up the stairs with the agility of apes and the
noise of a dozen rude schoolboys just freed from the terror of rod
and ferule.

The rooms suited Mrs. Scragg very well--at least such was her report
to her husband--and, after some further rudeness on the part of Mr.
Scragg, and an effort to beat Mrs. Darlington down to twelve dollars
a week, were taken, and forthwith occupied.





CHAPTER IV.




MRS. DARLINGTON was a woman of refinement herself, and had been used
to the society of refined persons. She was, naturally enough,
shocked at the coarseness and brutality of Mr. Scragg, and, ere an
hour went by, in despair at the unmannerly rudeness of the children,
the oldest a stout, vulgar-looking boy, who went racing and
rummaging about the house from the garret to the cellar. For a long
time after her exciting interview with Mr. Scragg, she sat weeping
and trembling in her own room, with Edith by her side, who sought
earnestly to comfort and encourage her.

"Oh, Edith!" she sobbed, "to think that we should be humbled to
this!"

"Necessity has forced us into our present unhappy position, mother,"
replied Edith. "Let us meet its difficulties with as brave hearts as
possible."

"I shall never be able to treat that dreadful man with even common
civility," said Mrs. Darlington.

"We have accepted him as our guest, mother, and it will be our duty
to make all as pleasant and comfortable as possible. We will have to
bear much, I see--much beyond what I had anticipated."

Mrs. Darlington sighed deeply as she replied--

"Yes, yes, Edith. Ah, the thought makes me miserable!"

"No more of that sweet drawing together in our own dear home
circle," remarked Edith, sadly.

"Henceforth we are to bear the constant presence and intrusion of
strangers, with whom we have few or no sentiments in common. We open
our house and take in the ignorant, the selfish, the vulgar, and
feed them for a certain price! Does not the thought bring a feeling
of painful humiliation? What can pay for all this? Ah me! The
anticipation had in it not a glimpse of what we have found in our
brief experience. Except Mr. and Mrs. Ring, there isn't a lady nor
gentleman in the house. That Mason is so rudely familiar that I
cannot bear to come near him. He's making himself quite intimate
with Henry already, and I don't like to see it."

"Nor do I," replied Mrs. Darlington. "Henry's been out with him twice
to the theatre already."

"I'm afraid of his influence over Henry. He's not the kind of a
companion he ought to choose," said Edith. "And then Mr. Barling is
with Miriam in the parlour almost every evening. He asks her to
sing, and she says she doesn't like to refuse."

The mother sighed deeply. While they were conversing, a servant came
to their room to say that Mr. Ring was in the parlour, and wished to
speak with Mrs. Darlington. It was late in the afternoon of the day
on which the Scraggs had made their appearance.

With a presentiment of trouble, Mrs. Darlington went down to the
parlour.

"Madam," said Mr. Ring, as soon as she entered, speaking in a firm
voice, "I find that my wife has been grossly insulted by a fellow
whose family you have taken into your house. Now they must leave
here, or we will, and that forthwith."

"I regret extremely," replied Mrs. Darlington, "the unpleasant
occurrence to which you allude; but I do not see how it is possible
for me to turn these people out of the house."

"Very well, ma'am. Suit yourself about that. You can choose between
us. Both can't remain."

"If I were to tell this Mr. Scragg to seek another boarding-house,
he would insult me," said Mrs. Darlington.

"Strange that you would take such a fellow into your house!"

"My rooms were vacant, and I had to fill them."

"Better to have let them remain vacant. But this is neither here nor
there. If this fellow remains, we go."

And go they did on the next day. Mrs. Darlington was afraid to
approach Mr. Scragg on the subject. Had she done so, she would have
received nothing but abuse.

Two weeks afterward, the room vacated by Mr. and Mrs. Ring was taken
by a tall, fine-looking man, who wore a pair of handsome whiskers
and dressed elegantly. He gave his name as Burton, and agreed to pay
eight dollars. Mrs. Darlington liked him very much. There was a
certain style about him that evidenced good breeding and a knowledge
of the world. What his business was he did not say. He was usually
in the house as late as ten o'clock in the morning, and rarely came
in before twelve at night.

Soon after Mr. Burton became a member of Mrs. Darlington's
household, he began to show particular attentions to Miriam, who was
in her nineteenth year, and was, as we have said, a gentle, timid,
shrinking girl. Though she did not encourage, she would not reject
the attentions of the polite and elegant stranger, who had so much
that was agreeable to say that she insensibly acquired a kind of
prepossession in his favour.

As now constituted, the family of Mrs. Darlington was not so
pleasant and harmonious as could have been desired. Mr. Scragg had
already succeeded in making himself so disagreeable to the other
boarders, that they were scarcely civil to him; and Mrs. Grimes, who
was quite gracious with Mrs. Scragg at first, no longer spoke to
her. They had fallen out about some trifle, quarrelled, and then cut
each other's acquaintance. When the breakfast, dinner, or tea bell
rang, and the boarders assembled at the table, there was generally,
at first, an embarrassing silence. Scragg looked like a bull-dog
waiting for an occasion to bark; Mrs. Scragg sat with her lips
closely compressed and her head partly turned away, so as to keep
her eyes out of the line of vision with Mrs. Grimes's face; while
Mrs. Grimes gave an occasional glance of contempt towards the lady
with whom she had had a "tiff." Barling and Mason, observing all
this, and enjoying it, were generally the first to break the
reigning silence; and this was usually done by addressing some
remark to Scragg, for no other reason, it seemed, than to hear his
growling reply. Usually, they succeeded in drawing him into an
argument, when they would goad him until he became angry; a species
of irritation in which they never suffered themselves to indulge. As
for Mr. Grimes, he was a man of few words. When spoken to, he would
reply; but he never made conversation. The only man who really
behaved like a gentleman was Mr. Burton; and the contrast seen in
him naturally prepossessed the family in his favour.

The first three months' experience in taking boarders was enough to
make the heart of Mrs. Darlington sick. All domestic comfort was
gone. From early morning until late at night, she toiled harder than
any servant in the house; and, with all, had a mind pressed down
with care and anxiety. Three times during this period she had been
obliged to change her cook, yet, for all, scarcely a day passed that
she did not set badly cooked food before her guests. Sometimes
certain of the boarders complained, and it generally happened that
rudeness accompanied the complaint. The sense of pain that attended
this was always most acute, for it was accompanied by deep
humiliation and a feeling of helplessness. Moreover, during these
first three months, Mr. and Mrs. Grimes had left the house without
paying their board for five weeks, thus throwing her into a loss of
forty dollars.

At the beginning of this experiment, after completing the furniture
of her house, Mrs. Darlington had about three hundred dollars. When
the quarter's bill for rent was paid, she had only a hundred and
fifty dollars left. Thus, instead of making any thing by boarders,
so far, she had sunk a hundred and fifty dollars. This fact
disheartened her dreadfully. Then, the effect upon almost every
member of her family had been bad. Harry was no longer the
thoughtful affectionate, innocent-minded young man of former days.
Mason and Barling had introduced him into gay company, and,
fascinated with a new and more exciting kind of life, he was fast
forming associations and acquiring habits of a dangerous character.
It was rare that he spent an evening at home; and, instead of being
of any assistance to his mother, was constantly making demands on
her for money. The pain all this occasioned Mrs. Darlington was of
the most distressing character. Since the children of Mr. and Mrs.
Scragg came into the house, Edward and Ellen, who had heretofore
been under the constant care and instruction of their mother, left
almost entirely to themselves, associated constantly with these
children, and learned from them to be rude, vulgar, and, in some
things, even vicious. And Miriam had become apparently so much
interested in Mr. Burton, who was constantly attentive to her, that
both Mrs. Darlington and Edith became anxious on her account. Burton
was entire stranger to them all, and there were many things about
him that appeared strange, if not wrong.

So much for the experiment of taking boarders, after the lapse of a
single quarter of a year.





CHAPTER V.




ABOUT this time a lady and gentleman, named Marion, called and
engaged boarding for themselves and three children. In Mrs. Marion
there was something that won the heart at first sight, and her
children were as lovely and attractive as herself; but towards her
husband there was a feeling of instant repulsion. Not that he was
coarse or rude in his exterior--that was polished; but there were a
sensualism and want of principle about him that could be felt.

They had been in the house only a week or two, when their oldest
child, a beautiful boy, was taken ill. He had fever, and complained
of distress in his back and pain in his head. The mother appeared
anxious, but the father treated the matter lightly, and said he
would be well again in a few hours.

"I think you'd better call in a doctor," Mrs. Darlington heard the
mother say, as her husband stood at the chamber door ready to go
away.

"Nonsense, Jane," he replied. "You are easily frightened. There's
nothing serious the matter."

"I'm afraid of scarlet fever, Henry," was answered to this.

"Fiddlesticks! You're always afraid of something," was lightly and
unkindly returned.

Mrs. Marion said no more, and her husband went away. About half an
hour afterwards, as Mrs. Darlington sat in her room, there was a
light tap at her door, which was immediately opened, and Mrs. Marion
stepped in. Her face was pale, and it was some moments before her
quivering lips could articulate.

"Won't you come up and look at my Willy?" she at length said, in a
tremulous voice.

"Certainly, ma'am," replied Mrs. Darlington, rising immediately.
"What do you think ails your little boy?"

"I don't know, ma'am; but I'm afraid of scarlet fever--that dreadful
disease."

Mrs. Darlington went up to the chamber of Mrs. Marion. On the bed
lay Willy, his face flushed with fever, and his eyes wearing a
glassy lustre.

"Do you feel sick, my dear?" asked Mrs. Darlington, as she laid her
hand on his burning forehead.

"Yes, ma'am," replied the child.

"There are you sick?"

"My head aches."

"Is your throat sore?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Very sore?"

"It hurts me so that I can hardly swallow."

"What do you think ails him?" asked the mother, in anxious tones.

"It's hard to say, Mrs. Marion; but, if it were my case, I would
send for a doctor. Who is your physician?"

"Dr. M----."

"If you would like to have him called in, I will send the waiter to
his office."

Mrs. Marion looked troubled and alarmed.

"My husband doesn't think it any thing serious," said she. "I wanted
him to go for the doctor."

"Take my advice, and send for a physician," replied Mrs. Darlington.

"If you will send for Dr. M----, I will feel greatly obliged," said
Mrs. Marion.

The doctor was sent for immediately. He did not come for two hours,
in which time Willy had grown much worse. He looked serious, and
answered all questions evasively. After writing a prescription, he
gave a few directions, and said he would call again in the evening.
At his second visit, he found his patient much worse; and, on the
following morning, pronounced it a case of scarlatina.

Already, Willy had made a friend in every member of Mrs.
Darlington's family, and the announcement of his dangerous illness
was received with acute pain. Miriam took her place beside Mrs.
Marion in the sick chamber, all her sympathies alive, and all her
fears awakened; and Edith and her mother gave every attention that
their other duties in the household would permit.

Rapidly did the disease, which had fixed itself upon the delicate
frame of the child, run its fatal course. On the fourth day he died
in the arms of his almost frantic mother.

Though Mrs. Marion had been only a short time in the house, yet she
had already deeply interested the feelings of Mrs. Darlington and
her two eldest daughters, who suffered with her in the affliction
almost as severely as if they had themselves experienced a
bereavement; and this added to the weight, already painfully
oppressive, that rested upon them.

The nearer contact into which the family of Mrs. Darlington and the
bereaved mother were brought by this affliction, discovered to the
former many things that strengthened the repugnance first felt
towards Mr. Marion, and awakened still livelier sympathies for his
suffering wife.

One evening, a week after the body of the child was borne out by the
mourners and laid to moulder in its kindred dust, the voice of Mr.
Marion was heard in loud, angry tones. He was alone with his wife in
their chamber. This chamber was next to hat of Edith and Miriam,
where they, at the time, happened to be. What he said they could not
make out; but they distinctly heard the voice of Mrs. Marion, and
the words--

"Oh, Henry! don't! don't!" uttered in tones the most agonizing. They
also heard the words, "For the sake of our dear, dear Willy!" used
in some appeal.

Both Edith and Miriam were terribly frightened, and sat panting and
looking at each other with pale faces.

All now became silent. Not a sound could be heard in the chamber
save an occasional low sob. For half an hour this silence continued.
Then the door of the chamber was opened, and Marion went down
stairs. The closing of the front door announced his departure from
the house. Edith and her sister sat listening for some minutes after
Marion had left, but not a movement could they perceive in the
adjoining chamber.

"Strange! What can it mean?" at length said Miriam, in a husky
whisper. Edith breathed heavily to relieve the pressure on her
bosom, but made no answer.

"He didn't strike her?" said Miriam, her face growing paler as she
made this suggestion.

The moment this was uttered, Edith arose quickly and moved towards
the door.

"Where are you going?" asked her sister.

"Into Mrs. Marion's room."

"Oh no, don't!" returned Miriam, speaking from some vague fear that
made her heart shrink.

But Edith did not heed the words. Her light tap at Mrs. Marion's
door was not answered. Opening it softly, she stepped within the
chamber. On the bed, where she had evidently thrown herself, lay
Mrs. Marion; and, on approaching and bending over her, Edith
discovered that she was sleeping. On perceiving this, she retired as
noiselessly as she had entered.

Ten, eleven, twelve o'clock came; and yet Mr. Marion had not
returned. An hour later than this, Edith and her sister lay awake,
but up to that time he was still away. On the next morning, when the
bell rang for breakfast, and the family assembled at the table, the
places of Mr. and Mrs. Marion were vacant. From their nurse it was
ascertained that Mr. Marion had not come home since he went out on
the evening before, and that his wife had not yet arisen. Between
nine and ten o'clock, Mrs. Darlington sent up to know if Mrs. Marion
wished any thing, but was answered in the negative. At dinner time
Mr. Marion did not make his appearance, and his wife remained in her
chamber. Food was sent to her, but it was returned untasted.

During the afternoon, Mrs. Darlington knocked at her door, but the
nurse said that Mrs. Marion asked to be excused from seeing her. At
supper time food was sent again to her room; but, save part of a cup
of tea, nothing was tasted. After tea, Mrs. Darlington called again
at her room, but the desire to be excused from seeing her was
repeated. Marion did not return that night.

Nearly a week passed, the husband still remaining away, and not once
during that time had Mrs. Marion been seen by any member of the
family. At the end of this period, she sent word to Mrs. Darlington
that she would be glad to see her.

When the latter entered her room, she found her lying upon the bed,
with a face so pale and grief-stricken, that she could not help an
exclamation of painful surprise.

"My dear madam, what has happened?" said she, as she took her hand.

Mrs. Marion was too much overcome by emotion to be able to speak for
some moments. Acquiring self-possession at length, she said, in a
low, sad voice--

"My heart is almost broken, Mrs. Darlington. I feel crushed to the
very ground. How shall I speak of what I am suffering?"

Her voice quivered and failed. But in a few moments she recovered
herself again, and said, more calmly--

"I need not tell you that my husband has been absent for a week; he
went away in a moment of anger, vowing that he would never return.
Hourly have I waited since, in the hope that he would come back;
but, alas! I have thus far received from him neither word nor sign."

Mrs. Marion here gave way to her feelings, and wept bitterly.

"Did he ever leave you before?" asked Mrs. Darlington, as soon as
she had grown calm.

"Once."

"How long did he remain away?"

"More than a year."

"Have you friends?"

"I have no relative but an aunt, who is very poor."

Mrs. Darlington sighed involuntarily. On that very day she had been
seriously examining into her affairs, and the result was a
conviction that, under her present range of expenses, she must go
behind-hand with great rapidity. Mr. and Mrs. Marion were to pay
fourteen dollars a weeks Thus far, nothing had been received from
them; and now the husband had gone off and left his family on her
hands. She could not turn them off, yet how could she bear up under
this additional burden!

All this passed through her mind in a moment, and produced the sigh
which distracted her bosom.

"Do you not know where he has gone?" she asked, seeking to throw as
much sympathy and interest in her voice as possible, and thus to
conceal the pressure upon her own feelings which the intelligence
had occasioned.

Mrs. Marion shook her head. She knew that, in the effort to speak,
her voice would fail her.

For nearly the space of a minute there was silence. This was broken,
at length, by Mrs. Marion, who again wept violently. As soon as the
passionate burst of feeling was over, Mrs. Darlington said to her in
a kind and sympathizing voice--

"Do not grieve so deeply. You are not friendless altogether. Though
you have been with us only a short time, we feel an interest in you,
and will not"--

The sentence remained unfinished. There was an impulse in Mrs.
Darlington's mind to proffer the unhappy woman a home for herself
and children; but a sudden recollection of the embarrassing nature
of her own circumstances checked the words on her tongue.

"I cannot remain a burden upon you," quickly answered Mrs. Marion.
"But where can I go? What shall I do?"

The last few words were spoken half to herself, in a low tone of
distressing despondency.

"For the present," said Mrs. Darlington, anxious to mitigate, even
in a small degree, the anguish of the unhappy woman's mind, "let
this give you no trouble. Doubtless the way will open before you.
After the darkest hour the morning breaks."

Yet, even while Mrs. Darlington sought thus to give comfort, her own
heart felt the weight upon it growing heavier. Scarcely able to
stand up in her difficulties alone, here was a new burden laid upon
her.

None could have sympathized more deeply with the afflicted mother
and deserted wife than did Mrs. Darlington and her family; and none
could have extended more willingly a helping hand in time of need.
But, in sustaining the burden of her support, they felt that the
additional weight was bearing them under.





CHAPTER VI.




THREE months more elapsed. Mrs. Marion was still an inmate of the
family. Up to this time, not a word had come from her husband, and
she had not been able to pay Mrs. Darlington a single dollar.

Painfully did she feel her dependent situation, although she was
treated with the utmost delicacy and consideration. But all the
widow's means were now exhausted in the payment of the second
quarter's rent, and she found her weekly income reduced to
thirty-five dollars, scarcely sufficient to meet the weekly expense
for supplying the table, paying the servants, etc., leaving nothing
for future rent bills, the cost of clothing, and education for the
younger children. With all this, Mrs. Darlington's duties had been
growing daily more and more severe. Nothing could be trusted to
servants that was not, in some way, defectively done, causing
repeated complaints from the boarders. What proved most annoying was
the bad cooking, to remedy which Mrs. Darlington strove in vain. One
day the coffee was not fit to drink, and on the next day the steak
would be burnt or broiled as dry as a chip, or the sirloin roasted
until every particle of juice had evaporated. If hot cakes were
ordered for breakfast, ten chances to one that they were not sour;
or, if rolls were baked, they would, most likely, be as heavy as
lead.

Such mishaps were so frequent, that the guests of Mrs. Darlington
became impatient, and Mr. Scragg, in particular, never let an
occasion for grumbling or insolence pass without fully improving it.

"Is your coal out?" said he, one morning, about this time, as he sat
at the breakfast table.

Mrs. Darlington understood, by the man's tone and manner, that he
meant to be rude, though she did not comprehend the meaning of the
question.

"No, sir," she replied, with some dignity of manner. "Why do you
ask?"

"It struck me," he answered, "that such might be the case. But,
perhaps, cook is too lazy to bring it out of the cellar. If she'll
send for me to-morrow morning, I'll bring her up an extra
scuttleful, as I particularly like a good cup of hot coffee."

His meaning was now plain. Quick as thought, the blood rushed to the
face of Mrs. Darlington.

She had borne so much from this man, and felt towards him such utter
disgust, that she could forbear no longer.

"Mr. Scragg," said she, with marked indignation, "when a gentleman
has any complaint to make, he does it as a gentleman."

"Madam!" exclaimed Scragg, with a threat in his voice, while his
coarse face became red with anger.

"When a _gentleman_ has any complaint to make, he does it _as_ a
gentleman," repeated Mrs. Darlington, with a more particular
emphasis than at first.

"I'd thank you to explain yourself," said Scragg, dropping his hands
from the table, and elevating his person.

"My words convey my meaning plainly enough. But, if you cannot
understand, I will try to make them clearer. Your conduct is not
that of a gentleman."

Of course, Mr. Scragg asked for no further explanation. Starting
from the table, he said, looking at Mrs. Scragg--

"Come!"

And Mrs. Scragg arose and followed her indignant spouse.

"Served him right," remarked Burton, in a low voice, bending a
little towards Miriam, who sat near him. "I hope we shall now be rid
of the low-bred fellow."

Miriam was too much disturbed to make a reply. All at the table felt
more or less uncomfortable, and soon retired. Ere dinner time, Mr.
and Mrs. Scragg, with their whole brood, had left the house, thus
reducing the income of Mrs. Darlington from thirty-five to
twenty-three dollars a week.

At dinner time, Mrs. Darlington was in bed. The reaction which
followed the excitement of the morning, accompanied as it was with
the conviction that, in parting with the Scraggs, insufferable as
they were, she had parted with the very means of sustaining herself,
completely prostrated her. During the afternoon, she was better, and
was able to confer with Edith on the desperate nature of their
affairs.

"What are we to do?" said she to her daughter, breaking thus
abruptly a silence which had continued for many minutes. "We have an
income of only twenty-three dollars a week, and that will scarcely
supply the table."

Edith sighed, but did not answer.

"Twenty-three dollars a week," repeated Mrs. Darlington. "What are
we to do?"

"Our rooms will not remain vacant long, I hope," said Edith.

"There is little prospect of filling them that I can see," murmured
Mrs. Darlington. "If all our rooms were taken, we might get along."

"I don't know," returned Edith to this, speaking thoughtfully. "I
sometimes think that our expenses are too great for us to make any
thing, even if our rooms were filled. Six hundred dollars is a large
rent for us to pay."

"We've sunk three hundred dollars in six months. That is certain,"
said Mrs. Darlington.

"And our furniture has suffered to an extent almost equivalent,"
added her daughter.

"Oh, do not speak of that! The thought makes me sick. Our handsome
French china dinner set, which cost us a hundred and fifty dollars,
is completely ruined. Half of the plates are broken, and there is
scarcely a piece of it not injured or defaced. My heart aches to see
the destruction going on around us."

"I was in Mr. Scragg's room to-day," said Edith.

"Well, what of it?" asked her mother.

"It would make you sick in earnest to look in there. You know the
beautiful bowl and pitcher that were in her chamber?"

"Yes."

"Both handle and spout are off of the pitcher."

"Edith!"

"And the bowl is cracked from the rim to the centre. Then the
elegant rosewood washstand is completely ruined. Two knobs are off
of the dressing-bureau, the veneering stripped from the edge of one
of the drawers, and the whole surface marked over in a thousand
lines. It looks as if the children had amused themselves by the hour
in scratching it with pins. Three chairs are broken. And the new
carpet we put on the floor looks as if it had been used for ten
years. Moreover, every thing is in a most filthy condition. It is
shocking."

Mrs. Darlington fairly groaned at this intelligence.

"But where is it all to lead, Edith?" she asked, arousing herself
from a kind of stupor into which her mind had fallen. "We cannot go
on as we are now going."

"We must reduce our expenses, if possible."

"But how are we to reduce them? We cannot send away the cook."

"No. Of course not."

"Nor our chambermaid."

"No. But cannot we dispense with the waiter?"

"Who will attend the table, go to market, and do the dozen other
things now required of him?"

"We can get our marketing sent home."

"But the waiting oh the table. Who will do that?"

"Half a dollar a week extra to the chambermaid will secure that
service from her."

"But she has enough to do besides waiting on the table," objected
Mrs. Darlington.

"Miriam and I will help more through the house than we have yet
done. Three dollars a week and the waiter's board will be saving a
good deal."

Mrs. Darlington sighed heavily, and then said--

"To think what I have borne from that Scragg and his family,
ignorant, low-bred, vulgar people, with whom we have no social
affinity whatever, who occupy a level far below us, and who yet put
on airs and treat us as if we were only their servants! I could bear
his insolence no longer. Ah, to what mortifications are we not
subjected in our present position! How little dreamed I of all this,
when I decided to open a boarding-house! But, Edith, to come back to
what we were conversing about, it would be something to save the
expense of our waiter; but what are three or four dollars a week,
when we are going behind hand at the rate of twenty?"

"If Mrs. Marion"--

Edith checked herself, and did not say what was in her mind. Mrs.
Darlington was silent, sighed again heavily, and then said--

"Yes; if it wasn't for the expense of keeping Mrs. Marion. And she
has no claim upon us."

"None but the claim of humanity," said Edith.

"If we were able to pay that claim," remarked Mrs. Darlington.

"True."

"But we are not. Such being the case, are we justified in any longer
offering her a home?"

"Where will she go? What will she do?" said Edith.

"Where will we go? What will we do, unless there is a change in our
favour?" asked Mrs. Darlington.

"Alas, I cannot tell! When we are weak, small things are felt as a
burden. The expense of keeping Mrs. Marion and her two children is
not very great. Still, it is an expense that we are unable to meet.
But how can we tell her to go?"

"I cannot take my children's bread and distribute it to others,"
replied Mrs. Darlington, with much feeling. My first duty is to
them."

"Poor woman! My heart aches for her," said Edith. "She looks so pale
and heart-broken, feels so keenly her state of dependence, and tries
so in every possible way to make the pressure of her presence in our
family as light as possible, that the very thought of turning her
from our door seems to involve cruelty."

"All that, Edith, I feel most sensibly. Ah me! into what a strait
are we driven!"

"How many times have I wished that we had never commenced this
business!" said Edith. "It has brought us nothing but trouble from
the beginning; and, unless my fears are idle, some worse troubles
are yet before us."

"Of what kind?"

"Henry did not come home until after two o'clock this morning."

"What!" exclaimed the mother in painful surprise.

"I sat up for him. Knowing that he had gone out with Mr. Barling,
and, finding that he had not returned by eleven o'clock, I could not
go to bed. I said nothing to Miriam, but sat up alone. It was nearly
half past two when he came home in company with Barling. Both, I am
sorry to say, were so much intoxicated, that they could scarcely
make their way up stairs."

"Oh, Edith!" exclaimed the stricken mother, hiding her face in her
hands, and weeping aloud.

Miriam entered the room at this moment, and, seeing her mother in
tears, and Edith looking the very image of distress, begged to know
the cause of their trouble. Little was said to her then; but Edith,
when she was alone with her soon after, fully explained the
desperate condition of their affairs. Hitherto they had, out of
regard for Miriam, concealed from her the nature of the difficulties
that were closing around them.

"I dreamed not of this," said Miriam, in a voice of anguish. "My
poor mother! What pain she must suffer! No wonder that her
countenance is so often sad. But, Edith, cannot we do something?"

Ever thus, to the mind of the sweet girl, when the troubles of
others were mentioned to her, came, first, the desire to afford
relief.

"We can do nothing," replied Edith, "at present, unless it be to
assist through the house, so that the chambermaid can attend the
door, wait on the table, and do other things now required of the
waiter."

"And let him go?"

"Yes."

"I am willing to do all in my power, Edith," said Miriam. "But, if
mother has lost so much already, will she not lose still more if she
continue to go on as she is now going?"

"She hopes to fill all her rooms; then she thinks that she will be
able to make something."

"This has been her hope from the first," replied Miriam.

"Yes; and thus far it has been a vain hope."

"Three hundred dollars lost already," sighed Miriam, "our beautiful
furniture ruined, and all domestic happiness destroyed! Ah me! Where
is all going to end? Uncle Hiram was right when he objected to
mother's taking boarders, and said that it was the worst thing she
could attempt to do. I wish we had taken his advice. Willingly would
I give music lessons or work with my hands for an income, to save
mother from the suffering and labour she has now to bear."

"The worst is," said Edith, following out her own thoughts rather
than replying to her sister, "now that all our money is gone, debt
will follow. How is the next quarter's rent to be paid?"

"A hundred aid fifty dollars?"

"Yes. How can we pay that?"

"Oh dear!" sighed Miriam. What are we to do? How dark all looks!"

"If there is not some change," said Edith, "by the close of another
six months, every thing we have will be sold for debt."

"Dreadful!" ejaculated Miriam, "dreadful!"

For a long time the sisters conferred together, but no gleam of
light arose in their minds. All the future remained shrouded in
darkness.





CHAPTER VII.




THE man named Burton, to whom reference has been made as being
particularly attentive to Miriam, was really charmed with the
beautiful young girl. But the affection of a man such as he was
comes to its object as a blight instead of a blessing. Miriam, while
she did not repel his attentions, for his manner towards her was
ever polite and respectful, felt, nevertheless, an instinctive
repugnance towards him, and when she could keep out of his way
without seeming to avoid him, she generally did so.

A few evenings after the conversation held with Edith, as given in
the last chapter, Burton, in passing from the dining room, said to
Miriam,--

"Come. I want you to play for me some of those beautiful airs in Don
Giovanni."

"Indeed you must excuse me Mr. Burton," replied Miriam. I don't feel
like playing to-night."

"Can't excuse you, indeed," said Burton, smiling pleasantly, and, at
the same time, taking Miriam's hand, which she quickly withdrew from
his touch. The contact sent an unpleasant thrill along her nerves.
"So come. I must have some music to-night."

Miriam yielded to the request, although she felt in no mood for
touching the piano. After playing several pieces, she lifted her
hands from the instrument, and, turning away from it, said,--

"There, Mr. Burton, you must really excuse me. I cannot play
to-night."

"Excuse you! Certainly. And for the pleasure you have given me,
accept my thanks," replied Mr. Burton. There was a change in his
tone of voice which Miriam did not comprehend. "And now," he added,
in a low voice, bending to her ear, "come and sit down with me on
the sofa. I have something particular that I wish to say."

Miriam did as she was desired, not dreaming of what was in the mind
of Burton.

"Miriam," said he, after a pause, "do not be startled nor surprised
at what I am going to say."

But his words and manner both startled her, and she was about
rising, when he took her hand and gently detained her.

"Nay, Miriam," said he, "you must hear what I wish to speak. From
the day I entered this house, you have interested me deeply.
Admiration was followed quickly by profound respect; and to this
succeeded a warmer sentiment."

A deep crimson instantly mantled the face of Miriam, and her eye
fell to the floor.

"Can you, my dear young lady," continued Mr. Burton, "reciprocate
the feeling I have expressed?"

"Oh, sir! Excuse me!" said Miriam, so soon as she could recover her
disordered thoughts. And she made another effort to rise, but was
still detained by Burton.

"Stay! stay!" said he. "Hear all that I wish to utter. I am rich"--

But, ere he could speak another word, Miriam sprang from the sofa,
and, bounding from the room, flew rather than walked up the stairs.
The instant she entered her own room she closed and locked the door,
and then, falling upon the bed, gave vent to a flood of tears. A
long time passed before her spirit regained its former composure;
and then, when her thought turned towards Mr. Burton, she
experienced an inward shudder.

Of what had occurred, she breathed not a syllable to Edith when she
joined her in the chamber to retire for the night.

"How my heart aches for mother!" sighed Edith, as she came in. "I
have been trying to encourage her; but words are of no avail. 'Where
is all to end?' she asks; and I cannot answer the question. Oh dear!
What is to become of us? At the rate we are going on now, every
thing must soon be lost. To think of what we have sacrificed and are
still sacrificing, yet all to no purpose. Every comfort is gone.
Strangers, who have no sympathy with us, have come into our house;
and mother is compelled to bear all manner of indignities from
people who are in every way her inferiors. Yet, for all, we are
losing instead of gaining. Ah me! No wonder she is heart-sick and
utterly discouraged. How could it be otherwise?"

Miriam heard and felt every word; but she made no answer. Thought,
however, was busy, and remained busy long after sleep had brought
back to the troubled heart of Edith its even pulsations.

"I am rich." These words of Mr. Burton were constantly recurring to
her mind. It was in vain that she turned from the idea presented
with them: it grew more and more distinct each moment. Yes, there
was a way of relief opened for her mother, of safety for the family,
and Miriam saw it plainly, yet shuddered as she looked, and closed
her eyes, like one about to leap from a fearful height.

Hour after hour Miriam lay awake, pondering the new aspect which
things had assumed, and gazing down the fearful abyss into which, in
a spirit of self-devotion, she was seeking to find the courage to
leap.

"I am rich." Ever and anon these words sounded in her ears. As the
wife of Burton, she could at once lift her mother out of her present
unhappy situation. Thus, before the hour of midnight came and went,
she thought. He had offered her his hand. She might accept the
offer, on condition of his settling an income upon her mother.

This the tempter whispered in her ears, and she hearkened, in
exquisite pain, to the suggestion.

When Edith awoke on the next morning, Miriam slept soundly by her
side; but Edith, observed that her face was pale and troubled, and
that tears were on her cheeks. At breakfast time, she did not appear
at the table; and when her mother sent to her room she returned for
answer that she was not very well. The whole of the day she spent in
her chamber, and, during all the time, was struggling against the
instinctive repulsion felt towards the man who had made her an offer
of marriage.

At supper time, she reappeared at the table with a calm, yet sad
face. As she was passing from the dining room after tea, Burton came
to her side and whispered--

"Can I have a word with you in the parlour, Miriam?"

The young girl neither looked up nor spoke, but moved along by his
side, and descended with him to the parlour, where they were alone.

"Miriam," said Burton, as he placed himself by her side on the sofa,
"have you thought seriously of what I said last evening? Can you
reciprocate the ardent sentiments I expressed?"

"Oh, sir!" returned Miriam, looking up artlessly in his face, "I am
too young to listen to words like these."

"You are a woman, Miriam," replied Burton, earnestly--"a lovely
woman, with a heart overflowing with pure affections. Deeply have
you interested my feelings from the first; and now I ask you to be
mine. As I was going to say last evening, I am rich, and will
surround you with every comfort and elegance that money can obtain.
Dearest Miriam, say that you will accept the hand I now offer you."

"My mother will never consent," said the trembling girl, after a
long pause.

"Your mother is in trouble. I have long seen that," remarked Mr.
Burton, "and have long wanted to advise and befriend her. Put it in
my power to do so, and then ask for her what you will."

This was touching the right key, and Burton saw it in a moment.

"Yes, you have said truly," replied Miriam; "my mother is in great
trouble. Ah! what would I not do for her relief?"

"Ask for your mother what you will, Miriam," said Burton.

The maiden's eyes were upon the floor, and the rapid heaving of her
bosom showed that her thoughts were busy in earnest debate. At
length, looking up, she said--

"Will you lift her out of her present embarrassed position, and
settle upon her an income sufficient for herself and family?"

"I will," was the prompt answer. "And now, my dear Miriam, name the
sum you wish her to receive."

Another long silence followed.

"Ah, sir!" at length said the maiden, "in what a strange,
humiliating position am I placed!"

"Do not speak thus, Miriam. I understand all better than words can
utter it. Will an income of two thousand dollars a year suffice?"

"It is more than I could ask."

"Enough. The moment you are mine, that sum will be settled on your
mother."

Miriam arose up quickly, as Burton said this, murmuring--

"Let me have a few days for reflection," and, ere he could prevent
her, glided from the room.





CHAPTER VIII.




Two weeks more went by, and the pressure upon Mrs. Darlington was
heavier and heavier. Her income was below her table expenses and
servant-hire, and all her reserve fund being exhausted, she felt the
extremity of her circumstances more than at any time before. To bear
longer the extra weight of poor, deserted Mrs. Marion and her two
children was felt to be impossible. With painful reluctance did Mrs.
Darlington slowly make up her mind to say to Mrs. Marion that she
must seek another home; and for this purpose she one day waited upon
her in her room. As tenderly and as delicately as possible did she
approach the subject. A word or two only had she said, when Mrs.
Marion, with tears upon her face, replied,--

"Pardon me that I have so long remained a burden upon you. Had I
known where to go, or what to do, I would not have added my weight
to the heavy ones you have had to bear. Daily have I lived in hope
that my husband would return. But my heart is sick with hope
deferred. It is time now that I began the work of self-dependence."

"Where can you go?" asked Mrs. Darlington.

"I know not," sadly returned Mrs. Marion. "My only relative is a
poor aunt, with scarcely the ability to support herself. But I will
see her to-day. Perhaps she can advise me what to do."

When Mrs. Marion returned from this visit to her aunt, she looked
very sad. Mrs. Darlington was in the passage as she came in; but she
passed her without speaking, and hurried up to her chamber. Neither
at tea time on that evening nor at breakfast time on the next
morning did she appear, though food for herself and children was
sent to her room. Deeply did Mrs. Darlington and her daughters
suffer on account of the step they were compelled to take, but stern
necessity left them no alternative. During the day, Mrs. Marion went
out again for an hour or two, and when she came back she announced
that she would leave on the next day. She looked even sadder than
before. Some inquiries as to where she was going were made, but she
evaded them. On the day following, a carriage came for her, and she
parted with her kind friends, uttering the warmest expressions of
gratitude.

"I have turned her from the house!" said Mrs. Darlington, in a tone
of deep regret, as she closed the door upon the poor creature. "How
would I like my own child treated thus?"

For the rest of the day she was so unhappy, owing to this
circumstance, that she could scarcely attend to any thing.

"Do you know where Mrs. Marion went when she left our house?" said
Edith to her mother, about two weeks afterwards. There was a
troubled look in Edith's face as she asked this question.

"No. Where is she?"

"At Blockley."

"What!"

"In the Alms-house!"

"Edith!"

"It is too true. I have just learned that when she left here, it was
to take up her abode among paupers. She had no other home."

Mrs. Darlington clasped her hands together, and was about giving
expression to her feelings, when a domestic came in and said that
Mr. Ellis was in the parlour, and wished to see her immediately.

"Where is Miriam?" asked the brother, in a quick voice, the moment
Mrs. Darlington entered the parlour, where he awaited her.

"She's in her room, I believe. Why do you ask?"

"Are you certain? Go up, Edith, quickly, and see."

The manner of Mr. Ellis was so excited that Edith did not pause to
hear more, but flew up stairs. In a few moments she returned, saying
that her sister was not there, and that, moreover, on looking into
her drawers, she found them nearly empty.

"Then it was her!" exclaimed Mr. Ellis.

"Where is she? Where did you see her?" eagerly asked both mother and
sister, their faces becoming as pale as ashes.

"I saw her in a carriage with a notorious gambler and scoundrel
named Burton. There was a trunk on behind, and they were driving
towards the wharf. It is ten minutes before the boat starts for New
York, and I may save her yet!"

And, with these words, Mr. Ellis turned abruptly away, and hurried
from the house. So paralyzed were both Mrs. Darlington and Edith by
this dreadful announcement, that neither of them had for a time the
power of utterance. Then both, as by a common impulse, arose and
went up to the chamber where Miriam slept. Almost the first thing
that met the eyes of Mrs. Darlington was a letter, partly concealed
by a book on the mantel-piece. It was addressed to her. On breaking
the seal, she read--

"MY DEAR, DEAR MOTHER: I shall be away from you only a little while;
and, when I return, I will come with relief for all your present
troubles. Do not blame me, dear mother! What I have done is for your
sake. It almost broke my heart to see you so pressed down and
miserable. And, then, there was no light ahead. Mr. Burton, who has
great wealth, offered me his hand. Only on condition of a handsome
settlement upon you would I accept of it. Forgive me that I have
acted without consultation. I deemed it best. In a little while, I
will be back to throw myself into your arms, and then to lift you
out of your many troubles. How purely and tenderly I love you,
mother, dear mother! I need not say. It is from this love that I am
now acting. Take courage, mother. Be comforted. We shall yet be
happy. Farewell, for a little while. In a few days I will be with
you again.

"MIRIAM."

As Mrs. Darlington read the last sentence of this letter, Henry, her
son, who had not been home since he went out at breakfast-time, came
hurriedly into the room, and, in an excited manner, said--

"Mother, I want ten dollars!"

The face of the young man was flushed, and his eyes unsteady. It was
plain, at a glance, that he had been drinking.

Mrs. Darlington looked at him for a moment, and then, before Edith
had seen the contents of Miriam's letter, placed it in his hands.

"What does this mean?" he exclaimed, after running his eyes over it
hurriedly. "Miriam gone off with that Burton!"

The letter dropped upon the floor, and Henry clasped his hands
together with a gesture of pain.

"Who is Mr. Burton? What do you know of him?" asked Edith.

"I know him to be a man of the vilest character, and a gambler into
the bargain! Rich! Gracious heaven!"

And the young man struck his hands against his forehead, and glanced
wildly from his pale-faced mother to his paler sister.

"And you knew the character of this man, Henry!" said Mrs.
Darlington. There was a smiting rebuke in her tone. "You knew him,
and did not make the first effort to protect your young, confiding,
devoted sister! Henry Darlington, the blood of her murdered
happiness will never be washed from the skirts of your garments!"

"Mother! mother!" exclaimed the young man, putting up his hands to
enforce the deprecation in his voice, "do not speak so, or I will go
beside myself! But where is she? When did she go? I will fly in
pursuit. It may not yet be too late."

"Your Uncle Hiram saw her in a carriage with Mr. Burton, on their
way, as he supposed, to the steamboat landing. He has gone to
intercept them, if possible."

Henry drew his watch from his pocket, and, as he glanced at the
time, sank into a chair, murmuring, in a low voice of anguish--

"It is too late!"





CHAPTER IX.




WHEN Mr. Ellis left the house of his sister, he called a carriage
that happened to be going by, and reached the wharf at Walnut street
in time. to spring on board of the steamboat just as the plank was
drawn in at the gangway. He then passed along the boat until he came
to the ladies' cabin, which he entered. Almost the first persons he
saw were Burton and his niece. The eyes of Miriam rested upon him at
the same moment, and she drew her veil quickly, hoping that she was
not recognised. Hiram Ellis did not hesitate a moment, but, walking
up to where Miriam sat, stooped to her ear, and said, in a low,
anxious voice--

"Miriam, are you married yet?"

Miriam did not reply.

"Speak, child. Are you married?"

"No," came in a half audible murmur.

"Thank God! thank God!" fell in low accents from the lips of Mr.
Ellis.

"Who are you, sir?" now spoke up Burton, whom surprise had till now
kept silent. There was a fiery gleam in his eyes.

"The uncle of this dear girl, and one who knows you well," was
answered, in a stern voice. "Knows you to be unworthy to touch even
the hem of her garment."

A dark scowl lowered upon the face of Burton. But Mr. Ellis returned
his looks of anger glance for glance. Miriam was in terror at this
unexpected scene, and trembled like an aspen. Instinctively she
shrank towards her uncle.

Two or three persons, who sat near, were attracted by the excitement
visible in the manner of all three, although they heard nothing that
was said. Burton saw that they were observed, and, bending towards
Mr. Ellis, said--

"This, sir, is no place for a scene. A hundred eyes will soon be
upon us."

"More than one pair of which," replied Mr. Ellis, promptly, "will
recognise in you a noted gambler, who has at least one wife living,
if no more."

As if stung by a serpent, Burton started to his feet and retired
from the cabin.

"Oh, uncle! can what you say of this man be true?" asked Miriam,
with a blanching face.

"Too true, my dear child! too true! He is one of the worst of men.
Thank God that you have escaped the snare of the fowler!"

"Yes, thank God! thank God!" came trembling from the lips of the
maiden.

Mr. Ellis then drew his niece to a part of the cabin where they
could converse without being overheard by other passengers on board
of the boat. To his inquiry into the reasons for so rash an act,
Miriam gave her uncle an undisguised account of her mother's
distressed condition, and touchingly portrayed the anguish of mind
which had accompanied her reluctant assent to the offer of Burton.

"And all this great sacrifice was on your mother's account?" said
Mr. Ellis.

"All! all! He agreed to settle upon her the sum of two thousand
dollars a year, if I would become his wife. This would have made the
family comfortable."

"And you most wretched. Better, a thousand times better, have gone
down to your grave, Miriam, than become the wife of that man. But
for the providential circumstance of my seeing you in the carriage
with him, all would have been lost. Surely, you could not have felt
for him the least affection."

"Oh, uncle! you can never know what a fearful trial I have passed
through. Affection! It was, instead, an intense repugnance. But, for
my mother's sake, I was prepared to make any sacrifice consistent
with honour."

"Of all others, my dear child," said Mr. Ellis, with much feeling,
"a sacrifice of this kind is the worst. It is full of evil
consequences that cannot be enumerated, and scarcely imagined. You
had no affection for this man, and yet, in the sight of Heaven, you
were going solemnly to vow that you would love and cherish him
through life!"

A shudder ran through the frame of Miriam, which being perceived by
Mr. Ellis, he said--

"Well may you shudder, as you stand looking down the awful abyss
into which you were about plunging. You can see no bottom, and you
would have found none. There is no condition in this life, Miriam,
so intensely wretched as that of a pure-minded, true-hearted woman
united to a man whom she not only cannot love, but from whom every
instinct of her better nature turns with disgust. And this would
have been your condition. Ah me! in what a fearful evil was this
error of your mother, in opening a boarding-house, about involving
her child! I begged her not to do so. I tried to show her the folly
of such a step. But she would not hear me. And now she is in great
trouble?"

"Oh yes, uncle. All the money she had when she began is spent; and
what she now receives from boarders but little more than half pays
expenses."

"I knew it would be so. But my word was not regarded. Your mother is
no more fitted to keep a boarding-house than a child ten years old.
It takes a woman who has been raised in a different school, who has
different habits, and a different character."

"But what can we do, uncle?" said Miriam.

"What are you willing to do?"

"I am willing to do any thing that is right for me to do."

"All employment, Miriam, are honourable so far as they are useful,"
said Mr. Ellis, seriously, "though false pride tries to make us
think differently. And, strangely enough, this false pride drives
too many, in the choice of employments, to the hardest, least
honourable, and least profitable. hundreds of women resort to
keeping boarders as a means of supporting their families when they
might do it more easily, with less exposure and greater certainty,
in teaching, if qualified, fine needle-work, or even in the keeping
of a store for the sale of fancy and useful articles. But pursuits
of the latter kind they reject as too far below them, and, in vainly
attempting to keep up a certain appearance, exhaust what little
means they have. A breaking up of the family, and a separation of
its members, follow the error in too many cases."

Miriam listened to this in silence. Her uncle paused.

"What can I do to aid my mother?" the young girl asked.

"Could you not give music lessons?"

"I am too young, I fear, for that. Too little skilled in the
principles of music," replied Miriam.

"If competent, would you object to teach?"

"Oh, no. Most gladly would I enter upon the task, did it promise
even a small return. How happy would it make me if I could lighten,
by my own labour, the burdens that press so heavily upon our
mother!"

"And Edith. How does she feel on this subject?"

"As I do. Willing for any thing; ready for any change from our
present condition."

"Take courage, then, my dear child, take courage," said the uncle,
in a cheerful voice. "There is light ahead."

"Oh, how distressed my mother will be when she finds I am gone!"
sighed Miriam, after a brief silence, in which her thoughts reverted
to the fact of her absence from home. "When can we get back again?"

"Not before ten o'clock to-night. We must go on as far as Bristol,
and then return by the evening line from New York."

Another deep sigh heaved the troubled bosom of Miriam, as she
uttered, in a low voice, speaking to herself--

"My poor mother! Her heart will be broken!"





CHAPTER X.




MEANWHILE the hours passed with the mother, sister, and brother in
the most agonizing suspense. Henry, who had been drawn away into
evil company by two young men who boarded in the house, was
neglecting his studies, and pressing on towards speedy ruin. To
drinking and association with the vicious, he now added gaming.
Little did his mother dream of the perilous ways his feet were
treading. On this occasion he had come in, as has been seen, with a
demand for ten dollars. When he left home in the morning, it was in
company with the young man named Barling. Instead of his going to
the office where he was studying, or his companion to his place of
business, they went to a certain public house in Chestnut Street,
where they first drank at the bar.

"Shall we go up into the billiard-room?" said Barling, as they
turned from the white marble counter at which they had been
drinking.

"I don't care. Have you time to play a game?" replied Henry.

"Oh, yes. We're not very busy at the store to-day."

So the two young men ascended to the billiard-room, and spent a
couple of hours there. Both played very well, and were pretty
equally matched.

From the billiard-room, they proceeded to another part of the house,
more retired, and there, at the suggestion of Barling, tried a game
at cards for a small stake. Young Darlington was loser at first,
but, after a time, regained his losses and made some advance on his
fellow-player. Hours passed in playing and drinking; and finally,
Darlington, whose good fortune did not continue, parted with every
sixpence.

"Lend me a dollar," said he as the last game went against him.

The dollar was lent, and the playing renewed. Thus it went on, hour
after hour, neither of the young men stopping to eat any thing,
though both drank too frequently. At last, Darlington was ten
dollars in debt to Barling, who, on being asked for another loan,
declined any further advances. Stung by the refusal, Henry said to
him, rising as he spoke--

"Do you mean by this that you are afraid I will never return the
money?"

"Oh, no," replied Barling. "But I don't want to play against you any
longer. Your luck is bad."

"I can beat you," said Darlington.

"You hav'n't done it to-day certainly," answered Barling.

"Will you wait here a quarter of an hour?" asked Henry.

"For what?"

"I want to pay you off and begin again. I am going for some money."

"Yes, I'll wait," replied the young man.

"Very well. I'll be back in a few minutes."

It was for this work and for this purpose that Henry Darlington came
to his mother just at the moment the absence of Miriam and her
purpose in leaving had been discovered. The effect of the painful
news on the young man has already been described. From the time he
became aware of the fact that Miriam had gone away with Burton for
the purpose of becoming his wife, until ten o'clock at night, he was
in an agony of suspense. As the uncle could not be found at the
office where he wrote, nor at the house where he boarded, it was
concluded that he had reached the boat before its departure, and
gone on with the fugitives in the train to New York. Nothing was
therefore left for the distressed family but to await his return.

How anxiously passed the hours! At tea time Edith only made her
appearance. Henry and his mother remained in the chamber of the
latter. As for the young man, he was cast down and distressed beyond
measure, vexing his spirit with self-accusations that were but too
well founded.

"Oh, mother!" said he, while they were alone, starting up from where
he had been sitting with his face buried in his hands--"oh, mother!
what evils have come through this opening of our house, for
strangers to enter! Miriam, our sweet, gentle, pure-hearted Miriam,
has been lured away by one of the worst of men; and!"--the young man
checked himself a moment or two, and then continued--"and I have
been drawn away from right paths into those that lead to sure
destruction. Mother, I have been in great danger. Until Barling and
Mason came into our family, I was guiltless of any act that could
awaken a blush of shame upon my cheek. Oh, that I had never met
them!"

"Henry! Henry! what do you mean by this?" exclaimed Mrs. Darlington,
in a voice full of anguish.

"I have been standing on the brink of a precipice," replied the
young man with more calmness. "But a hand has suddenly drawn me
away, and I am trembling at the danger I have escaped. Oh, mother,
will you not give up this mode of life? We have none of us been
happy. I have never felt as if I had a home since it began. And
you--what a slave have you been! and how unhappy! Can nothing be
done except keeping boarders? Oh, what would I not give for the dear
seclusion of a home where no stranger's foot could enter!"

"Some other mode of living must be sought, my son," replied Mrs.
Darlington. "Added to all the evils attendant on the present mode,
is that of a positive loss instead of a profit. Several hundred
dollars have been wasted already, and daily am I going in debt."

"Then, mother, let us change at once," replied the young man. "It
would be better to shrink together in a single room than to continue
as we are. I will seek a clerkship in a store and earn what I can to
help support the family."

"I can think of nothing now but Miriam!" said Mrs. Darlington. "Oh,
if she were back again, safe from the toils that have been thrown
around her, I think I would be the most thankful of mortals! Oh, my
child! my child!"

What could Henry say to comfort his mother? Nothing. And he remained
silent.

Long after this, Mrs. Darlington, with Henry and Edith, were sitting
together in painful suspense. No word had been spoken by either for
the space of nearly an hour. The clock struck ten.

"I would give worlds to see my dear, dear child!" murmured Mrs.
Darlington.

Just then a carriage drove up to the door and stopped. Henry sprang
down stairs; but neither Edith nor her mother could move from where
they sat. As the former opened the street door, Miriam stood with
her uncle on the threshold. Henry looked at her earnestly and
tenderly for an instant, and then, staggering back, leaned against
the wall for support.

"Where is your mother?" asked Mr. Ellis.

"In her own room," said Henry, in a voice scarcely audible.

Miriam sprang up the stairs with the fleetness of an antelope, and,
in a few moments, was sobbing on her mother's bosom.

"Miriam! Miriam!" said Mrs. Darlington, in a thrilling voice, "do
you return the same as when you left?"

"Yes, thank God!" came from the maiden's lips.

"Thank God! thank God!" responded the mother, wildly. "Oh, my child,
what a fearful misery you have escaped!"

In a few minutes, the mother and sisters were joined by Henry.

"Where is your uncle?" asked Mrs. Darlington.

"He has gone away; but says that he will see you to-morrow."

Over the remainder of that evening we will here draw a veil.





CHAPTER XI.




ON the next morning, only Mrs. Darlington met her boarders at the
breakfast-table, when she announced to them that she had concluded
to close her present business, and seek some new mode of sustaining
her family; at the same time, desiring each one to find another home
as early as possible.

At the close of the third day after this, Mrs. Darlington sat down
to her evening meal with only her children gathered at the table. A
subdued and tranquil spirit pervaded each bosom, even though a dark
veil was drawn against the future. To a long and troubled excitement
there had succeeded a calm. It was good to be once more alone, and
they felt this. "Through what a scene of trial, disorder, and
suffering have we passed!" said Edith. "It seems as if I had just
awakened from a dream."

"And such a dream!" sighed Miriam.

"Would that it were but a dream!" said Mrs. Darlington. "But, alas!
the wrecks that are around us too surely testify the presence of a
devastating storm."

"The storm has passed away, mother," said Edith; "and we will look
for calmer and brighter skies."

"No bright skies for us, I fear, my children," returned the mother,
with a deeper tinge of sadness in her voice.

"They are bright this hour to what they were a few days since," said
Edith, "and I am sure they will grow brighter. I feel much
encouraged. Where the heart is willing, the way is sure to open.
Both Miriam and I are willing to do all in our power, and I am sure
we can do much. We have ability to teach others; and the exercise of
that ability will bring a sure reward. I like Uncle Hiram's
suggestion very much."

"But the humiliation of soliciting scholars," said the mother.

"To do right is not humiliating," quickly replied Edith.

"It is easy to say this, my child; but can you go to Mrs. Lionel,
for instance, with whose family we were so intimate, and solicit her
to send Emma and Cordelia to the school you propose to open, without
a smarting sense of humiliation? I am sure you cannot."

Edith communed with her own thoughts for some moments, and then
answered--

"If I gave way to false pride, mother, this might be so; but I must
overcome what is false and evil. This is as necessary for my
happiness as the external good we seek--nay, far more so. Too many
who have moved in the circle where we have been moving for years
strangely enough connect an idea of degradation with the office of
teaching children. But is there on the earth a higher or more
important use than instructing the mind and training the heart of
young immortals? It has been beautifully and truly said, that 'Earth
is the nursery of Heaven.' The teacher, then, is a worker in God's
own garden. Is it not so, mother?"

"You think wisely, my child. God grant that your true thoughts may
sustain you in the trials to come!" replied Mrs. Darlington.

The door-bell rang as the family were rising from the tea-table. The
visitor was Mr. Ellis. He had come to advise with and assist the
distressed mother and her children; and his words were listened to
with far more deference than was the case a year before. Nine or ten
months' experience in keeping a boarding-house had corrected many of
the false views of Mrs. Darlington, and she was now prepared to make
an effort for her family in a different spirit from that exhibited
in the beginning. The plan proposed by her brother--a matter-of-fact
kind of person--was the taking of a house at a more moderate rent,
and opening a school for young children. Many objections and doubts
were urged; but he overruled them all, and obtained, in the end, the
cordial consent of every member of the family. During the argument
which preceded the final decision of the matter, Mrs. Darlington
said--

"Suppose the girls should not be able to get scholars?"

"Let them see to this beforehand."

"Many may promise to send, and afterwards change their minds."

"Let them," replied the brother. "If, at the end of the first,
second, and third years, you have not made your expenses, I will
supply the deficiency."

"You!"

"Yes. The fact is, sister, if you will be guided in some respects by
my judgment, I will stand by you, and see you safely over every
difficulty. Your boarding-house experiment I did not approve. I saw
from the beginning how it would end, and I wished to see the end as
quickly as possible. It has come, and I am glad of it; and, still
further, thankful that the disaster has not been greater. If you
only had now the five or six hundred dollars wasted in a vain
experiment during the past year, how much the sum might do for you!
But we will not sigh over this. As just said, I will stand by you in
the new experiment, and see that you do not fall again into
embarrassment."

Henry was present at this interview, but remained silent during the
whole time. Since the day of Miriam's departure with Burton, and
safe return, a great change had taken place in the young man. He was
like one starting up from sleep on the brink of a fearful precipice,
and standing appalled at the danger he had escaped almost by a
miracle. The way in which he had begun to walk he saw to be the way
to sure destruction, and his heart shrunk with shame and trembled
with dismay.

"Henry," said the uncle, after an hour's conversation with his
sister and Edith, "I would like to talk with you alone."

Mrs. Darlington and her daughters left the room.

"Henry," said Mr. Ellis, as soon as the rest had withdrawn, "you are
old enough to do something to help on. All the burden ought not to
come on Edith and Miriam."

"Only show me what I can do, uncle, and I am ready to put my hands
to the work," was Henry's prompt reply.

"It will be years before you can expect an income from your
profession."

"I know, I know. That is what discourages me."

"I can get you the place of clerk in an insurance office, at a
salary of five hundred dollars a year. Will you accept it?"

"Gladly!" The face of the young man brightened as if the sun had
shone upon it suddenly.

"You will have several hours each day, in which to continue your law
reading, and will get admitted to the bar early enough. Keep your
mother and sisters for two or three years, and then they will be in
a condition to sustain you until you make a practice in your
profession."

But to this the mother and sisters, when it was mentioned to them,
objected. They were not willing to have Henry's professional studies
interrupted. That would be a great wrong to him.

"Not a great wrong, but a great good," answered Mr. Ellis. "And I
will make this plain to you. Henry, as I learn from yourself, has
made some dangerous associations; and some important change is
needed to help him break away from them. No sphere of life is so
safe for a young man as that which surrounds profitable industry
pursued for an end. Temptation rarely finds its way within this
sphere. Two or three years devoted to the duties of a clerk, with
the end of aiding in the support of his mother and sisters, will do
more to give a right direction to Henry's character--more to make
success in after life certain--than any thing else possible now to
be done. The office in which I can get him the situation I speak of
adjoins the one to which I am attached, and I will, therefore, have
him mostly under my own eye. In this new school, the ardency of his
young feelings will be duly chastened, and his thoughts turned more
into elements of usefulness. In a word, sister, it will give him
self-dependence, and, in the end, make a man of him."

The force of all this, and more by this suggested, was not only
seen, but felt, by Mrs. Darlington; and when she found her son ready
to accept the offer made to him, she withdrew all opposition.

Steps preliminary to the contemplated change were immediately taken.
First of all, Edith waited upon a number of their old friends, who
had young children, and informed them that she was, in connection
with her sister, about opening a school. Some were surprised, some
pleased, and some indifferent at the announcement; but a goodly
number expressed pleasure at the opportunity it afforded them of
placing their younger children under the care of teachers in whose
ability and character they had so much confidence. Thus was the way
made plain before them.





CHAPTER XII.




A FEW weeks later, and the contemplated change was made. The family
removed into a moderate-sized house, at a lower rent, and prepared
to test the new mode of obtaining a livelihood. A good portion of
their furniture had been sold, besides three gold watches and some
valuable jewelry belonging to Mrs. Darlington and her two eldest
daughters, in order to make up a sum sufficient to pay off the debt
contracted during the last few months of the boarding-house
experiment. The real loss sustained by the widow in this experiment
fell little short of a thousand dollars.

"How many scholars have you now?" asked Mrs. Darlington of Edith,
two months after the school was opened, as they sat at tea one
evening, each member of the family wearing a cheerful face.

"Twenty," replied Edith. "We received two new ones to-day. Mrs.
Wilmot came and entered two of her children; and she said that Mrs.
Armond was going to send her Florence so soon as her quarter expired
in the school she is now attending."

"How much will you receive from your present number of scholars?"
inquired Henry.

"I made the estimate to-day," returned Edith, "and find that the
bills will come to something like a hundred and twenty-five dollars
a quarter."

"Five hundred dollars a year," said Henry; "and my five hundred
added to that will make a thousand. Can't we live on a thousand
dollars, mother?"

"We may, by the closest economy."

"Our school will increase," remarked Edith; and every increase will
add to our income. Oh! it looks so much brighter ahead! and we have
so much real comfort in the present! What a scene of trial have we
passed through!"

"How I ever bore up under it is more than I can now tell," said Mrs.
Darlington, with an involuntary shudder. "And the toil, and
suffering, and danger through which we have come! I cannot be
sufficiently thankful that we are safe from the dreadful ordeal, and
with so few marks of the fire upon us."

A silence followed this, in which two hearts, at least, were
humbled, yet thankful, in their self-communion--the hearts of Henry
and Miriam. Through what perilous ways had they come! How near had
they been to shipwreck!

"Poor Mrs. Marion!" said Edith, breaking the silence, at length.
"How often I think of her! And the thought brings a feeling of
condemnation. Was it right for us to thrust her forth as we did?"

"Can she still be in?"

"Oh no, no!" spoke up Henry, interrupting his mother. I forgot to
tell you that I met her and her husband on the street to-day."

"Are you certain?"

"Oh yes."

"Did you speak to them?"

"No. They saw me, but instantly averted their faces. Mrs. Marion
looked very pale, as if she had been sick."

"Poor woman! She has had heart-sickness enough," said Mrs.
Darlington. "I shall never forgive myself for turning her out of the
house. If I had known where she was going!"

"But we did not know that, mother," said Edith.

"We knew that she had neither friends nor a home," replied the
mother. "Ah me! when our own troubles press heavily upon us, we lose
our sympathy for others!"

"It was not so in this case," remarked Edith. "Deeply did we
sympathize with Mrs. Marion. But we could not bear the weight
without going under ourselves."

"I don't know, I don't know," said Mrs. Darlington, half to herself.
"We might have kept up with her a little longer. But I am glad from
my heart that her husband has come back. If he will be kind to his
wife, I will forgive all his indebtedness to me."

A few weeks subsequent to this time, as Miriam sat reading the
morning paper, she came upon a brief account of the arrest, in New
Orleans, of a "noted gambler," as it said, named Burton, on the
charge of bigamy. The paper dropped to the floor, and Miriam, with
clasped hands and eyes instantly overflowing with tears, looked
upward, and murmured her thanks to Heaven.

"What an escape!" fell tremblingly from her lips, as she arose and
went to her room to hold communion with her own thoughts.

Three years have passed, and what has been the result of the widow's
new experiment? The school prospered from the beginning. The spirit
with which Edith and Miriam went to work made success certain.
Parents who sent their children were so much pleased with the
progress they made, that they spoke of the new school to their
friends, and thus gave it a reputation, that, ere a year had
elapsed, crowded the rooms of the sisters. Mrs. Darlington was a
woman who had herself received a superior education. Seeing that the
number of scholars increased rapidly, and made the pressure on her
daughters too great, she gave a portion of her time each day to the
instruction of certain classes, and soon became much interested in
the work. From that time she associated herself in the school with
Edith and Miriam.

Three years, as we said, have passed, and now the profits on the
school are more than sufficient to meet all expenses. Henry has left
his clerkship, and is a member of the bar. Of course he has little
or no practice--only a few months having elapsed since his
admission; but his mother and sisters are fully able to sustain him
until he could sustain himself.

"How much better this is than keeping boarders!" said Edith, as she
sat conversing with her mother and uncle about the prospects of the
school.

"And how much more useful and honourable!" remarked Mr. Ellis. "In
the one case, you fed only the body, but now you are dispensing food
to the immortal mind. You are moreover independent in your own
house. When the day's work is done, you come together as one family,
and shut out the intruding world."

"Yes, it is better, far better," replied Mrs. Darlington. "Ah, that
first mistake of mine was a sad one!"

"Yet out of it has come good," said Mr. Ellis. "That painful
experience corrected many false views, and gave to all your
characters a new and higher impulse. It is through disappointment,
trial, and suffering, that we grow wise here; and true wisdom is
worth the highest price we are ever called upon to pay for it."

Yes, it is so. Through fiery trials are we purified. At times, in
our suffering, we feel as if every good thing in us was about being
consumed. But this never happens. No good in our characters is ever
lost in affliction or trouble; and we come out of these states of
pain wiser and better than when we entered them, and more fitted and
more willing to act usefully our part in the world.






PLAIN SEWING; OR, HOW TO ENCOURAGE THE POOR.





"Do you know of any poor body who does plain sewing?" asked Mrs.
Lander of a neighbour upon whom she called for the particular
purpose of making this inquiry. "I have a good deal of work that I
want done, and I always like to give my plain sewing to people that
need it."

"I think I know of a person who will suit you," replied Mrs.
Brandon, the lady to whom the application had been made. "She is a
poor widow woman, with four children dependent upon her for support.
She sews neatly. Yesterday she brought me home some little drawers
and night-gowns that were beautifully made. I am sure she will
please you, and I know she deserves encouragement."

"What is her name?"

"Mrs. Walton; and she lives in Larkin's Court."

"Thank you, ma'am. I will send for her this morning. You say she is
very poor?"

"You may judge of that yourself, Mrs. Lander. A woman who has four
children to support by the labour of her own hands cannot be very
well off."

"No--certainly not. Poor creature! I will throw all I can in her
way, if her work should please me."

"I am sure that will be the case, for she sews very neatly."

Mrs. Lander having found out a poor woman who could do plain
sewing--she was always more ready to employ persons in extreme
poverty than those who were in more easy circumstances--immediately
sent a summons for her to attend upon her ladyship. Mrs. Walton's
appearance, when she came, plainly enough told the story of her
indigence.

"Mrs. Brandon informs me," said Mrs. Lander, "that you do plain
sewing very well, and that you stand in need of work. I always like
to encourage the industrious poor."

The woman inclined her head, and Mrs. Lander went on.

"Do you make shirts?"

"Yes, ma'am, sometimes."

"Do you consider yourself a good shirt maker?"

"I don't call myself any thing very extra; but people for whom I
work seem generally pleased with what I do."

"I have six shirts cut out for Mr. Lander. How soon can you make
them?"

"I couldn't make them all in less than a couple of weeks, as I have
other work that must be done within that time."

"Very well. That will do."

The poor woman took the shirts home, feeling grateful to Mrs.
Brandon for having recommended her, and thankful to get the work. In
order to give satisfaction to both her new customer, and those for
whom she already had work in the house, she divided her time between
them, sewing one day for Mrs. Lander and the next on the work
received before hers came in. At the end of a week, three of the
shirts were ready, and, as she needed very much the money she had
earned in making them, she carried them over to Mrs. Lander on
Saturday afternoon.

"I have three of the shirts ready," said she, as she handed to the
lady the bundle she had brought.

"Ah! have you?" remarked Mrs. Lander, as, with a grave face, she
opened the bundle and examined the garments. This examination was
continued with great minuteness, and long enough almost to have
counted every stitch in the garments. She found the shirts
exceedingly well made; much better than she had expected to find
them.

"When will you have the others ready?" she asked, as she laid them
aside.

"I will try and bring them in next Saturday."

"Very well."

Then came a deep silence. The poor woman sat with the, fingers of
both hands moving together uneasily, and Mrs. Lander looked away out
of the window and appeared to be intent upon something in the
street.

"Are these made to please you?" Mrs. Walton ventured to ask.

"They'll do," was the brief answer; and then came the same dead
silence, and the same interest on the part of the lady in something
passing in the street.

Mrs. Walton wanted the money she had earned for making the shirts,
and Mrs. Lander knew it.

But Mrs. Lander never liked to pay out money, if she could help it;
and as doing so always went against the grain, it was her custom to
put off such unpleasant work as long as possible. She liked to
encourage the very poor, because she knew they generally worked
cheaper than people who were in easier circumstances; but the
drawback in their case was, that they always wanted money the moment
their work was done.

Badly as she stood in need of the money she had earned, poor Mrs.
Walton felt reluctant to ask for it until the whole number of shirts
she had engaged to make were done; and so, after sitting for a
little while longer, she got up and went away. It happened that she
had expended her last sixpence on that very morning, and nothing was
due to her from any one but Mrs. Lander. Two days at least would
elapse before she would have any other work ready to take home, and
what to do in the mean time she did not know. With her the reward of
every day's labour was needed when the labour was done; but now she
was unpaid for full four days' work, and her debtor was a lady much
interested in the welfare of the poor, who always gave out her plain
sewing to those who were in need of encouragement.

By placing in pawn some few articles of dress, and paying a heavy
interest upon the little sum of money advanced thereon, the poor
widow was able to keep hunger from her door until she could finish
some work she had in hand for a lady more considerate than Mrs.
Lander. Then she applied herself with renewed industry to the three
shirts yet to make, which she finished at the time she promised to
have them done. With the money to be received for these, she was to
pay one dollar and a half to get her clothes from the pawnbroker's
shop, buy her little boy a pair of shoes,--he had been from school a
week for want of them,--and get a supply of food for the many mouths
she had to feed.

Mrs. Lander received her with that becoming dignity of manner and
gravity which certain persons always assume when money has to be
paid out. She, as it behooved her to do, thoroughly examined every
seam, line of stitching, and hem upon each of the three shirts, and
then, after slowly laying the garments upon a table sighed, and
looked still graver. Poor Mrs. Walton felt oppressed; she hardly
knew why.

"Does the work please you?" she ventured to ask.

"I don't think these are as well made as the others," said Mrs.
Lander.

"I thought they were better made," returned the woman.

"Oh, no. The stitching on the bosoms, collars, and wristbands isn't
nearly so well done."

Mrs. Walton knew better than this; but she did not feel in any
humour to contend for the truth. Mrs. Lander took up the shirts
again, and made another examination.

"What is the price of them?" she asked.

"Seventy-five cents."

"Apiece?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Seventy-five cents apiece!"

"I have never received less than that, and some for whom I sew
always pay me a dollar."

"Seventy five cents! It is an imposition. I know plenty of poor
women who would have been glad of these shirts at half the
price--yes, or at a third of the price either. Seventy-five cents,
indeed! Oh, no--I will never pay a price like that. I can go to any
professed shirt-maker in the city, and get them made for
seventy-five cents or a dollar."

"I know you can, ma'am," said Mrs. Walton, stung into
self-possession by this unexpected language. "But why should I
receive less if my work is as well done?"

"A pretty question, indeed!" retorted Mrs. Lander, thrown off her
guard. "A pretty question for you to ask of me! Oh, yes! You can get
such prices if you can, but I never pay them to people like you.
When I pay seventy-five cents or a dollar apiece for shirts, I go to
regular shirt-makers. But this is what we generally get for trying
to encourage the poor. Mrs. Brandon said that you were in needy
circumstances, and that it would be a charity to give you work. But
this is the way it generally turns out."

"What are you willing to pay?" asked the poor woman, choking down
her feelings.

"I have had shirts as well made as these for forty cents many and
many a time. There is a poor woman down in Southwark, who sews
beautifully, who would have caught at the job. She works for the
shops, and does not get over twenty-five cents for fine shirts. But
as Mrs. Brandon said you were suffering for work, I thought I would
throw something in your way. Forty cents is an abundance; but I had
made up my mind, under the circumstances, to make it fifty, and that
is all I will give. So here is your money--three dollars."

And Mrs. Lander took out her purse, and counted out six half dollars
upon the table. Only for a few moments did the poor woman hesitate.
Bread she must have for her children; and if her clothes were not
taken out of pawn on that day, they would be lost. Slowly did she
take up the money while words of stinging rebuke were on her tongue.
But she forced herself to keep silence; and even departed, bearing
the wrong that had been laid upon her without uttering a word.

"Did you get my shoes as you promised, mother?" eagerly inquired her
little boy, as she came in, on returning from the house of Mrs.
Lander.

"No, dear," replied the heart-full mother, in a subdued voice. "I
didn't get as much money as I expected."

"When will you buy them, mother?" asked the child as tears filled
his eyes. "I can't go to school in this way." And he looked down at
his bare feet.

"I know you can't, Harry; and I will try and get them for you in a
few days."

The child said no more, but shrunk away with his little heart so
full of disappointment, that he could not keep the tears from
gushing over his face. The mother's heart was quite as full. Little
Harry sat down in a corner to weep in silence, and Mrs. Walton took
her sewing into her hands; but the tears so blinded her eyes, that
she could not see where to direct the needle. Before she had
recovered herself, there was a knock at the door, which was opened
immediately afterwards by a lady, who came into the room where the
poor widow sat with her little family around her.

More than an hour had passed since the unpleasant interview with the
poor widow, and Mrs. Lander had not yet recovered her equanimity of
mind nor lost the feelings of indignation which the attempt to
impose upon her by an exorbitant charge had occasioned, when she was
favoured with a visit from Mrs. Brandon, who said familiarly, and
with a smile, as she entered--

"Ah, how do you do, Mrs. Lander? I have just corrected a mistake you
made a little while ago."

"Indeed! what is that?" asked Mrs. Lander, looking a little
surprised.

"You only gave poor Mrs. Walton fifty cents apiece for the half
dozen of shirts she made for you, when the lowest price is
seventy-five cents. I always pay a dollar for Mr. Brandon's. The
difference is a very important one to her--no less than a dollar and
a half. I found her in much trouble about it, and her little boy
crying with disappointment at not getting a pair of shoes his mother
had promised him as soon as she got the money for the shirts. He has
been from school for want of shoes for more than a week. So I took
out my purse and gave Mrs. Walton the dollar and a half to make up
the sum she had earned, and told her I would see you about it. I
acted right, did I not? Of course, it was a mistake on your part?"

Mrs. Lander was never more completely out-generalled in her life.
The lady who had corrected her error was one in whose good opinion
she had every reason for desiring to stand high. She could grind the
face of the poor without pity or shame, but for the world she would
not be thought mean by Mrs. Brandon.

"I am very much obliged to you, indeed," she said with a bland
smile. "It was altogether a mistake on my part, and I blame the
woman exceedingly for not having mentioned it at the time. Heaven
knows I am the last person in the world to grind the faces of the
poor! Yes, the very last person. Here is the money you paid for me,
and I must repeat my thanks for your prompt correction of the error.
But I cannot help feeling vexed at the woman."

"We must make many allowances for the poor, Mrs. Lander. They often
bear a great deal of wrong without a word of complaint. Some people
take advantage of their need, and, because they are poor, make them
work for the merest pittance in the world. I know some persons, and
they well off in the world, who always employ the poorest class of
people, and this under the pretence of favouring them, but, in
reality, that they may get their work done at a cheaper rate than it
can be made by people who expect to derive from their labour a
comfortable support."

Mrs. Lander was stung to the quick by these words; but she dared not
show the least sign of feeling.

"Surely no one professing to be a Christian can do so," said she.

"Yes, people professing to be Christians do these things," was
replied; "but of course their profession needs a better practice to
prove it of any worth."

When her visitor retired, after having expressed her opinion on the
subject under consideration still more unequivocally, Mrs. Lander
did not feel very comfortable, nor was her good opinion of herself
quite so firm as it had been earlier in the day. But she took good
care, in the future, not to give any more work to Mrs. Walton, and
was exceedingly particular afterwards, in employing poor people, to
know whether they sewed for Mrs. Brandon. There are a good many
people in the world who encourage the poor on Mrs. Lander's
principle.






JESSIE HAMPTON.





"WHAT are you doing here, miss?"

The young girl thus addressed was sitting by a centre-table, upon
which stood a lamp, in a handsomely furnished drawing-room. She laid
aside the book she was reading, and, without making any reply, rose
up quickly and retired. Two or three persons, members of the family,
were present. All observed the effect of Mrs. Freeman's words, yet
no one had heard what was said; nor would they have been aware that
more than a request for some service had been made, but for the
lady's remark as the girl left the room.

"I might as well begin at once, and let Jessie know her place."

"What did you say to her, ma?" asked a young lady who sat swinging
herself in a large rocking-chair.

"I simply asked her what she was doing here."

"What did she answer?"

"Nothing. The way in which I put the question fully explained my
meaning. I am sorry that there should have arisen a necessity for
hurting her feelings; but if the girl doesn't know her place, she
must be told where it is."

"I don't see that she was doing any great harm," remarked an old
gentleman who sat in front of the grate.

"She was not in her place, brother," said Mrs. Freeman, with an air
of dignity. "We employ her as a teacher in the family, not as a
companion. Her own good sense should have taught her this."

"You wouldn't have us make an equal of Jessie Hampton, would you,
uncle Edward?" inquired the young lady who sat in the rocking-chair.

"You cannot make her your equal, Fanny, in point of worldly
blessings, for, in this matter, Providence has dealt more hardly
with her than with you. As to companionship, I do not see that she
is less worthy now than she was a year ago."

"You talk strangely, Edward," said Mrs. Freeman, in a tone of
dissent.

"In what way, sister?"

"There has been a very great change in a year. Jessie's family no
longer moves in our circle."

"True; but is Jessie any the less worthy to sit in your parlour than
she was then?"

"_I_ think so, and that must decide the matter," returned Mrs.
Freeman, evincing some temper.

The old gentleman said no more; but Fanny remarked--"I was not in
favour of taking Jessie, for I knew how it would be; but Mrs.
Carlton recommended her so highly, and said so much in her favour,
that no room was left for a refusal. As for Jessie herself, I have
no particular objection to her; but the fact of her having once
moved in the circle we are in is against her; for it leaves room for
her to step beyond her place, as she has already done, and puts upon
us the unpleasant necessity of reminding her of her error."

"It don't seem to me," remarked Mr. Freeman, who had till now said
nothing, "that Miss Hampton was doing any thing worthy of reproof.
She has been well raised, we know; is an educated, refined, and
intelligent girl, and, therefore, has nothing about her to create
repugnance or to make her presence disagreeable. It would be better,
perhaps, if we looked more to what persons are, than to things
merely external."

"It is all very well to talk in that way," said Mrs. Freeman. "But
Miss Hampton is governess in our family, and it is only right that
she should hold to us that relation and keep her place. What she has
been, or that she is, beyond the fact of her present position here,
is nothing to us."

Mr. Freeman knew from experience, that no particular good would grow
out of a prolonged argument on this subject, and so said nothing
further, although he could not force from his mind the image of the
young girl as she rose up hastily and left the room, nor help
thinking how sad a change it would be for one of his own children,
if reduced suddenly to her condition.

A good deal more was said by Mrs. Freeman, who did not feel very
comfortable, although she fully justified herself for what she had
done.

The young girl, who had been reminded so harshly of the error into
which she had fallen, went quickly up into her cold chamber, and
there, with a burning cheek, sat down to think as calmly as her
disturbed feelings would permit. The weakness of tears she did not
indulge; self-respect, rather than pride, sustained her. Had she
acted from the first impulse, she would have left the house
immediately, never again to re-enter it; but reason soon told her
that, however strong her impulses might be, duties and
considerations far beyond mere feeling must come in to restrain
them.

"Whatever I have been," she said to herself, as she sat and
reflected, "I am now simply a governess, and must steadily bear that
in mind. In this house I am to receive no more consideration than a
mere stranger. Have I a right to complain of this? Have I cause to
be offended at Mrs. Freeman for reminding me of the fact? Her
reproof was unkindly given; but false pride has in it no gentleness,
no regard for another's feelings. Ah me! this is one more lesson of
the many I have to learn; but let me bear up with a brave heart.
There is one who knows my path, and who will see that nothing
therein need cause my feet to stumble. From this moment I will think
of all here as strangers. I will faithfully do what I have engaged
to do, and expect therefor only the compensation agreed upon when I
came. Have I a right to expect more?"

The bright colour faded gradually from the flushed cheeks of Jessie
Hampton, and with a calm, yet pensive face, she arose and went down
into the room which had been set apart for her use when giving
instruction to the children. It was warmed and lighted, and had in
it a small library. Here she sat alone, reading and thinking, for a
couple of hours, and then retired to her chamber for the night.

As was intimated in the conversation that arose upon her leaving the
drawing-room, Jessie Hampton's circumstances had suffered, in a very
short period, a great change. A year before she was the equal and
companion of Fanny Freeman, and more beloved and respected by those
who knew her than Fanny was or ever could be; but unexpected
reverses came. The relative who had been to her as a father for many
years was suddenly deprived of all his worldly goods, and reduced so
low as to be in want of the comforts of life. So soon as Jessie saw
this, she saw plainly her duty.

"I cannot burden my uncle," said she resolutely to herself. "He has
enough, and more than enough, to bear up under, without the addition
of my weight." Thoughtfully she looked around her; but still in
doubt what to do, she called upon a lady named Mrs. Carlton, who was
among the few whose manner towards her had not changed with altered
fortune, and frankly opened to her what was in her mind.

"What does your uncle say?" inquired Mrs. Carlton. "Does he approve
the step?"

"He knows nothing of my purpose," returned Jessie.

"Then had you not better consult him?"

"He will not hear of it, I am certain; but, for all that, I am
resolved to do as I propose. He has lost his property, and is now in
great trouble. He is, in fact, struggling hard to keep his head
above water: my weight might sink him. But, even if there were no
danger of this, so long as I am able to sustain myself, I will not
cling to him while he is tossed on the waves of adversity."

"I cannot but highly approve your decision," said Mrs. Carlton, her
heart warm with admiration for the right-minded girl. "The fact that
your uncle has been compelled to give up his elegant house, and
retire with you to a boarding-house, shows the extremity to which he
has been reduced. I understand that his fine business is entirely
broken up, and that, burdened with debts, he has commenced the world
again, a few hundred dollars all his capital in trade, resolved, if
health and a sound mind be continued to him, to rise above all his
present difficulties."

"And shall I," replied Jessie, "sit an idle witness of the
honourable struggle, content to burden him with my support? No! Were
I of such a spirit, I would be unworthy the relation I bear him.
Much rather would I aid him, were it in my power, by any sacrifice."

"If I understand you aright," said Mrs. Carlton, after thinking for
a. few moments, "you would prefer a situation as governess in a
private family."

"Yes; that would suit me best."

"How would you like to take charge of Mrs. Freeman's younger
children? She mentioned to me, only yesterday, her wish to obtain a
suitable instructor for them, and said she was willing to pay a
liberal salary to a person who gave entire satisfaction."

Jessie's face became thoughtful.

"Mrs. Freeman is not the most agreeable person to be found, I know,
Jessie," said her friend; "but the step you propose involves
sacrifices from the beginning."

"It does, I know; and I must not forget this. Had I a choice, I
certainly should not select the family of Mrs. Freeman as the one in
which to begin the new life I am about entering upon. She and Fanny
are among the few who have ceased to notice me, except with great
coldness, since my uncle's misfortunes. But I will not think of
this. If they will take me, I will go even into their house, and
assume the humble duties of a governess."

Mrs. Carlton immediately called upon Mrs. Freeman, and mentioned
Jessie. Some objection was made on the score of her being, an old
acquaintance, who would expect more notice than one in her position
was entitled to receive. This, however, was overruled by Mrs.
Carlton, and, after an interview with Jessie, an engagement was
entered into for a year, at a salary of four hundred dollars.

When Jessie mentioned the subject to her uncle, Mr. Hartman, he
became a good deal excited, and said that she should do no such
thing. But Jessie remained firm, and her uncle was at last
compelled, though with great reluctance, to consent to what she
proposed, regarding it only as a temporary measure.

The first day's experience of Jessie under the roof of Mrs. Freeman
is known to the reader. It was a painful experience, but she bore it
in the right spirit. After that, she was careful to confine herself
to the part of the house assigned her as a servant and inferior, and
never ventured upon the least familiarity with any one. Her duty to
the children who were committed to her charge was faithfully
performed, and she received, regularly, her wages, according to
contract, and there the relation between her and this family ceased.
Day after day, week after week, and month after month, did Jessie
Hampton, uncheered by an approving smile or friendly word, discharge
her duties. But she had within, to sustain her, a consciousness that
she was doing right, and a firm trust in an all-wise and merciful
Providence.

Mrs. Carlton remained her steady friend, and Jessie spent an evening
at her house almost every week, and frequently met there many of her
old acquaintances. Of her treatment in the house of Mrs. Freeman she
never spoke, and when questioned on the subject avoided giving a
direct answer.

Mr. Hartman's struggle proved to be a hard one. Harassed by claims
that he could not pay off at once, his credit almost entirely gone,
and the capital upon which he was doing business limited to a few
hundred dollars, he found it almost impossible to make any headway.
In a year from the time Jessie had relieved him from the burden of
her support, so far from being encouraged by the result of his
efforts, he felt like abandoning all as hopeless. There are always
those who are ready to give small credits to a man whom they believe
to be honest, even though once unfortunate in business; but for such
favours Mr. Hartman could not have kept up thus far. Now the
difficulty was to pay the few notes given as they matured.

A note of five hundred dollars was to fall due on the next day, and
Mr. Hartman found himself with but a hundred dollars to meet it. The
firm from which he had bought the goods for which the note was given
had trusted him when others refused credit to the amount of a single
dollar, and had it in their power to forward his interests very
greatly if he was punctual in his payments. It was the first bill of
goods they had sold him, and Hartman could not go to them for
assistance in lifting the note, for that would effectually cut off
all hope of further credit. He could not borrow, for there was no
one to lend him money. There was a time when he could have borrowed
thousands on his word; but now he knew that it would be folly to ask
for even hundreds.

In a state of deep discouragement, he left his store in the evening
and went home. After tea, while sitting alone, Jessie, who came to
see him often, tapped at his door.

"Are you not well?" she asked, with much concern, as soon as the
smile with which he greeted her faded from his face, and she saw its
drooping expression.

"Yes, dear," he replied, trying to arouse himself and appear
cheerful; but the effort was in vain.

"Indeed, uncle, you are not well," remarked Jessie, breaking in upon
a longer period of silent abstraction into which Mr. Hartman had
fallen, after in vain trying to converse cheerfully with his niece.

"I am well enough in body, Jessie; but my mind is a little anxious
just now," he replied.

"Isn't your business coming out as well as you expected?" inquired
the affectionate girl.

"I am sorry to say that it is not," returned Mr. Hartman. "In fact,
I see but little hope of succeeding. I have no capital, and the
little credit I possess is likely to be destroyed through my
inability to sustain it. I certainly did anticipate a better reward
for my efforts, and am the more disappointed at this result. To
think that, for the want of three or four hundred dollars, the
struggle of a whole year must prove in vain! As yet, even that small
sum I cannot command."

The face of Jessie flushed instantly, as her uncle uttered the last
two sentences.

"And will so small an amount as three or four hundred dollars save
you from what you fear?" she asked, in a trembling voice.

"Yes, even so small an amount as that. But the sum might as well be
thousands. I cannot command it."

"You can, uncle!" replied Jessie, with a glow of exultation on her
cheek, and a spirit of joy in her voice. "_I_ have the money. Oh! it
is the happiest hour of my life!"

And sinking forward, she laid her now weeping face upon the breast
of her uncle. Her tears were the out-gushing waters of gladness.

"_You_ have the money, child?" said Mr. Hartman, after the lapse of
a few moments. "Where did you get it?"

"I have had no need to spend my salary."

"Your salary! Have you saved it all?"

"Every dollar. I had clothing sufficient, and there was no other
want to take it from me. Dear uncle, how happy it makes me to think
that I have it in my power to aid you! Would that the sum was tens
of thousands!"

Mr. Hartman, as soon as the first surprise was over, said, with
evident emotion--

"Jessie, I cannot express how much this incident has affected me.
But, deeply grateful to you as I feel for such an evidence of your
love, I must push back the hand that would force this aid upon me. I
will not be unjust to you. I will not take your hard earnings to run
the risk of losing them."

A shadow passed over the face of Jessie, and her voice was touched
with something like grief as she replied--

"How can you speak to me thus, uncle? How can you push back my hand
when, in love, it seeks to smooth the pillow upon which your
troubled head is resting? Would you deny me a higher gratification
than I have ever known? No--no--you cannot!"

Mr. Hartman was bewildered. He felt as if it would be a kind of
sacrilege to take the money of his niece, yet how could he
positively refuse to do so? Apart from the necessity of his
circumstances, there was the cruelty of doing violence to the
generous love that had so freely tendered relief. In the end, all
objections had to yield, and Mr. Hartman was saved from a second
disaster, which would have entirely prostrated him, by the money
that Jessie had earned and saved.

A short time after the occurrence of this circumstance, the Freemans
gave a large party. Mrs. Carlton, who was present, said to Mrs.
Freeman, an hour after the company had assembled--

"Where is Miss Hampton? I've been looking for her all the evening.
Isn't she well?"

"What Miss Hampton do you mean?" asked Mrs. Freeman, drawing herself
up with an air cold and dignified.

"Miss Jessie Hampton," replied Mrs. Carlton.

"Sure enough!" said a young man, who was sitting by, and who had
been attentive to Fanny Freeman; "where is Miss Hampton? I haven't
seen her for a long time. What can have become of her? Is she dead,
or is she married?"

"Her uncle, I suppose you know, failed in business, and has become
poor," replied Mrs. Carlton.

"True. I was perfectly aware of that, but didn't reflect that
poverty was a social crime. And is it possible that so lovely a girl
as Jessie Hampton has been excluded from the circle she so graced
with her presence, because of this change in her uncle's
circumstances?"

"It is true to a very great extent, Mr. Edgar," returned Mrs.
Carlton, "though I am glad to say that there are a few who can
appreciate the real gold of her character, and who love her as truly
and esteem her as highly as ever they did."

"A worthy few, and if I were only so fortunate as to fall in company
with her, I would be of the number. Is she here to-night?"

The young man looked at Mrs. Freeman, and became aware, from the
expression of her face, that the subject was disagreeable to her.
With easy politeness he changed the theme of conversation; but as
soon as opportunity offered, sought out Mrs. Carlton, and asked a
question or two more about Jessie.

"What has become of Miss Hampton? I should really like to know," he
said.

Mrs. Carlton could only reply direct, and she answered,

"She is living in this family in the capacity of governess."

"Indeed! I have been visiting here, off and on, for a twelvemonth,
but have neither seen her nor heard her name mentioned. Are you
sure?"

"Oh yes. I procured her the situation over a year ago, and see her
almost every week."

"This being the case, and it also being plain that her worth is not
appreciated here, our remarks a little while ago could not have been
very pleasant to the ears of Mrs. Freeman."

"I presume not," was returned.

The young man became thoughtful, and, in a little while, withdrew
from the crowded rooms and left the house. He was the son of a
wealthy merchant, and had recently come into his father's business
as a partner. It was to the firm of Edgar & Son that the note of Mr.
Hartman, which Jessie had aided him to lift, had been due.

On the day succeeding the party at Mrs. Freeman's, Mr. Hartman came
in to purchase some goods, and, after selecting them, asked if he
could have the usual credit.

"Certainly," replied old Mr. Edgar; "and to double the amount of the
bill."

Hartman thanked the merchant, and retired.

"You know the five hundred dollar note that he paid last week?" said
Mr. Edgar, speaking to his son, and alluding to Hartman, who had
just left.

"I do."

"Well, I heard something about that note this morning that really
touched my feelings. Hartman spoke of the circumstances to a friend,
and that friend--betraying, I think, the confidence reposed in
him--related it to me, not knowing that we were the parties to which
the note had been paid. On that note he came near failing again."

"Indeed! And yet you have just sold him freely!"

"I have. But such are my feelings that I would risk five thousand
dollars to keep him up. I know him to be a man of strict honesty."

"There is no doubt of that," replied the son.

"You remember his niece, I suppose?" said old Mr. Edgar.

"Oh, very well."

"When Mr. Hartman's circumstances became reduced, she, of her own
free choice, relieved him of the burden of her support, and assumed
the arduous and toilsome duties of a governess in one of our wealthy
families, where she has ever since been. On the evening before the
note of which I spoke was due, she called to see her uncle, and
found him in trouble. For some time he concealed the cause but so
earnest was she in her affectionate entreaties to know why he was
unhappy, that he told her the reason. He was again embarrassed in
his business, and, for want of a few hundred dollars, which one,
circumstanced as he was, could not borrow, was in danger of being
again broken up. To his astonishment, Jessie announced the fact that
she had the sum he wanted, saved from her salary as governess. He at
first refused to take it, but she would listen to no denial."

"Noble girl!" exclaimed the young man.

"She must be one in a thousand," said Mr. Edgar.

"She is one in ten thousand!" replied the son, enthusiastically.
"And yet worth like hers is passed over for the tinsel of wealth. Do
you know in whose family she is governess?"

"I do not."

"I can tell you. She is in the family of Mr. Freeman."

"Ah!"

"Yes. You know they gave a party last night?"

"I do."

"Miss Hampton was not present."

"As much as might have been inferred."

"And yet there was no young lady in the room her equal in all that
goes to make up the character of a lovely woman."

"Well, my son," replied the old gentleman, "all I have to say is,
that I look upon this young lady as possessing excellencies of
character far outweighing all the endowments of wealth. Money! It
may take to itself wings in a day; but virtue like hers is as
abiding as eternity. If your heart is not otherwise interested, and
you feel so inclined, win her if you can. Another like her may never
cross your path. With such a woman as your wife, you need not
tremble at the word adversity."

The young man did not reply. What his thoughts were, his actions
subsequently attested.

After the party, to the distant coldness with which Mrs. Freeman had
treated Jessie since she came into her house, were added certain
signs of dislike, quickly perceived by the maiden. In addressing
her, Mrs. Freeman exhibited, at times, a superciliousness that was
particularly offensive. But Jessie checked the indignant feelings
that arose in her bosom, and, in conscious rectitude of character,
went on faithfully discharging her duties. Since the timely aid she
had been able to bring her uncle, she had a new motive for effort,
and went through her daily task with a more cheerful spirit.

One day, about six months after the occurrence of the party which
has been mentioned, Jessie, a little to the surprise of Mrs.
Freeman, gave that lady notice that, at a certain time not far off,
she would terminate her engagement with her. The only reason she
gave was, that the necessity which took her from home no longer
remained. At the time mentioned, Jessie left, although Mrs. Freeman,
urged by other members of the family, who could better appreciate
the young lady's worth, offered a considerable increase of salary as
an inducement to remain.

"What do you think?" exclaimed Fanny, about three weeks
subsequently, throwing open the parlour door, where the family had
assembled just before tea. "Jessie Hampton's married!"

"What!" ejaculated Mrs. Freeman. "Married?"

"Oh yes, sure enough," said Mr. Freeman, "I heard of it a little
while before I left my counting-room. And, more surprising still,
she is married to young Edgar."

"Oh, no!" responded Mrs. Freeman, incredulously. "It's some mistake.
Never! It cannot be."

"Oh, but it is a fact, mother," said Fanny, with ill-concealed
chagrin. "Lizzy Martin was her bridesmaid. They were married at Mrs.
Carlton's this morning, and the whole bridal party has gone off to
Saratoga."

"He's got a good wife," remarked the brother of Mrs. Freeman, in his
quiet way. "I always liked that young man, and like him better than
ever now. I knew he was a fellow of good sense; but he has showed
himself to possess more of that sterling material than I thought."

Mr. Freeman also gave his opinion, and in doing so, expressed
himself pretty freely in regard to the treatment Jessie had
received, while in the house.

As for his wife, when the truth assumed an undoubted form, she sunk
into mortified silence, and Fanny felt even worse than her mother,
and for reasons that lay nearer her heart.

In a little while the bride took her old place in society, and many
who, in her seclusion, passed her coldly, or all unnoticed, met her
now with smiles and with warm congratulations. Of all the changes
that followed as a consequence of her marriage, there was none that
filled her with so much delight as the improved prospects of her.
uncle, Mr. Hartman. Her husband became his fast friend, and
sustained him through every difficulty. One home held them both. How
purely and brightly the stream of Jessie's happiness flowed on, need
not be told.

Virtue and integrity of character had met their just reward. In
adversity she was not cast down, and when prosperity again smiled
she was not unduly elated. In either relation to society, she was a
dispenser of blessings to those she loved.

It is a fact worthy of notice, that those who looked down upon
Jessie, and passed her unnoticed while she was only a governess, now
referred to the noble, self-sacrificing spirit that prompted her to
act as she had done, and spoke of her conduct with admiration.






THE NEW YEAR'S GIFT.





"JUST four weeks off," said a little boy, striking his hands
together, "and papa will be home!"

"Yes, four weeks more, and we shall see dear father. It will be the
happiest New Year's day we ever had; won't it, mother?" said the
little boy's sister, a bright smile playing over her face.

"I hope so," replied the mother. "Father has been away so long, his
coming home would make any day in the year a happy one."

"I wonder what he will bring me for a New Year's present?" said the
boy.

"I know what I'll get," said the little sister.

"What?"

"A hundred kisses."

"Oh! I don't care much for kisses."

"But I do; and I'm sure of getting them."

"I wonder what mamma will get?"

"I know!" replied the sister, with an arch smile.

"What?"

"Just what I will." And the little girl looked at her mother, and
smiled still more archly.

"A hundred kisses, you mean?"

"We'll see."

The mother's hand rested from her work, and she looked at her
children, with a calm, yet happy face. Their words had caused her to
realize, in imagination, with more than usual distinctness, the fact
of her husband's return, which he had written would be on the first
day of the coming new year. He had been away for many months, and
home had hardly seemed like home during his absence.

"We mustn't think too much about it," said the mother, "or we will
get so impatient for dear father's return as to make ourselves
unhappy. I am sure we will all love him better than ever we did,
when he does come home!"

"I am sure I will," returned the little girl.

"Oh! I think I never loved him so well in my life as I have since he
has been away."

Thus talked the mother and her children of the return of one whose
presence was so dear to them all.

This brief conversation took place in a farm-house. In the room sat,
near the fire, a man whose appearance was any thing but pleasant to
the eyes. He was a labourer, who had been hired, some months
previously, by the farmer. He did not seem to hear what was said,
yet he was listening with reluctant attention. The mother and her
children continued still to talk of what was uppermost in their
minds--the absent one, and his expected return--until the man became
restless, and at last got up and went out.

"I don't wonder Mr. Foster went out of the room," said the boy, as
the person alluded to shut the door.

"Why, Edward?" asked his sister.

"Can't you think, Maggy?"

"No. What made him go out?"

"Because we said we were so glad papa was coming home on New Year's
day. I'm sure he must have thought of his home. They won't be so
glad to see him on New Year's day, as we are to see our dear, good
father."

"Why do you say that, my son?" asked the mother.

"I'm sure they can't be so glad," said Edward. "I know I wouldn't be
so glad to see my father, if he was like Mr. Foster. Doesn't he
spend nearly all the money he gets in liquor? I've heard you say
that his poor wife and children hardly have enough to eat or to
wear, although he gets very good wages, and could make them
comfortable if he would. No, I'm sure they can't love him as we love
our father, nor be as glad to see him come home as we will be to see
our father. And he knows it, and that made him go out of the room.
He didn't like to hear us talking."

The boy was correct in his conclusions. The man Foster, of whom he
spoke, did feel troubled. He had children and a wife, and he was
absent from them, and had been absent for many months. On New Year's
day he was to go home; but many painful feelings mingled with the
thought of seeing his long-neglected and much-abused family. Since
he had been away, he had expended more than half his earnings upon
himself, and yet his appearance was worse than when he went from
home, for, in exchange for his money, he had received only poison.

It was evening. Without, the air was cold. The sky was clear, and
the moon and stars shone brightly. Foster walked a short distance
from the house, trying to drive from his mind the images that had
been conjured up by the words of the children and their mother; but
he could not. His own abused wife and neglected little ones were
before him, in their comfortless home, poorly clad, and pale and
thin from want of healthy and sufficient food. Did they think of
him, and talk with so much delight of his return? Alas! no. He
brought no sunshine to their cheerless abode.

"Wretch! wretch!" he said to himself, striking his hand hard against
his bosom. "A curse to them!--a curse to myself!"

For an hour the unhappy man stayed out in the chilly air; but he did
not feel the cold. Then he re-entered the house, but did not go into
the room where the happy mother sat with her children, but to the
lonely attic where he slept.

Twenty miles away lived the wife and three children of Foster. The
oldest boy was eleven years of age, and the youngest child, a little
girl, just five. Three small mounds, in a burying-ground near by
where the humble dwelling stood, marked the place where as many more
slept--more blessed than the living. The mother of these children
was a pale-faced woman, with a bent forth and an aspect of
suffering. She had been long acquainted with sorrow and trouble.
Like hundreds and thousands of others in our land, she had left,
years before, the pleasant home of her girlhood, to be the loving
companion of one on whose solemnly pledged faith she relied with the
most unwavering confidence. And, for a time, the trust was not in
vain. The first golden period of her married life was a happy time
indeed! None could have been more thoughtful of her comfort, nor
more tender of her feelings, than was her husband. But, alas! it was
with him as with hundreds and thousands of others. Not once did it
cross his mind that there was danger to him in the pleasant glass
that was daily taken. The bare suggestion he would have repelled as
an insult. On the day of his marriage, Henry Foster received from
the father of his wife the title-deeds of a snug little place
containing thirty acres, which was well stocked for a small farmer.
He had, himself, laid by a few hundred dollars. Thus he had a fair
start in the world, and a most comfortable assurance of happiness
and prosperity. For several years every thing went on pleasantly.
The farm was a very garden spot, and had increased from thirty to
sixty acres by the purchase of contiguous lands. Then a change
became apparent. Foster took more interest than formerly in what was
going on in the village near by. He attended the various political
meetings held at the "Travellers' Rest," and was a prominent man on
training and election days. After a while, his wife began to look on
these days with a troubled feeling, for they generally sent him home
in a sad plight; and it took nearly a week for him to get settled
down again to his work. Thus the declension began, and its progress
was too sadly apparent to the eyes of Mrs. Foster, even before
others, less interested than herself, observed it. At the end of ten
years from the happy wedding day, the farm, now more like a
wilderness than a beautiful garden, was seized and sold for debt.
There were no friends to step in and go Foster's security, and thus
save his property from sacrifice. The father of his wife was dead,
and his own friends, even if they had not lost confidence in him,
were unable to render any assistance.

The rented farm upon which Foster went with his family, after being
sold out, was cultivated with no more industry than his own had been
of late years. The man had lost all ambition, and was yielding
himself a slave to the all-degrading appetite for drink. At first,
his wife opposed a gentle remonstrance; but he became impatient and
angry at a word, and she shrank back into herself, choosing rather
to bear silently the ills of poverty and degradation, which she saw
were rapidly approaching, than to run the risk of having unkindness,
from one so tenderly loved, added thereto.

Affliction came with trouble. Death took from the mother's arms, in
a single year, three children. The loss of one was accompanied by a
most painful, yet deeply warning circumstance. The father came home
from the village one evening, after having taken a larger quantity
of liquor than usual. While the mother was preparing supper, he took
the babe that lay fretting in the cradle, and hushed its frettings
in his arms. While holding it, overcome with what he had been
drinking, he fell asleep, and the infant rolled upon the floor,
striking its head first. It awoke and screamed for a minute or two,
and then sank into a heavy slumber, and did not awake until the next
morning. Then it was so sick, that a physician had to be called. In
a week it died of brain fever, occasioned, the doctor said, by the
fall.

For a whole month not a drop of liquor passed the lips of the
rebuked and penitent father. Even in that short time the desert
places of home began to put forth leaves, and to give promise of
sweet buds and blossoms; and the grieving mother felt that out of
this great sorrow was to come forth joy. Alas! that even a hope so
full of sadness should be doomed to disappointment. In a moment of
temptation her husband fell, and fell into a lower deep. Then, with
more rapid steps the downward road was traversed. Five more years of
sorrow sufficed to do the work of suffering and degradation. There
was another seizure for debt, and the remnant of stock, with nearly
all their furniture, was taken and sold. The rented farm had to be
given up; with this, the hope of gaining even sufficient food for
her little ones died in the wretched mother's mind.

From a farmer on his own account, Foster now became a mere farm
labourer; with wages sufficient, however, to have made things
comfortable at home under the management of his frugal, industrious
wife, if all he earned had been brought home to her. But at least
one third, and finally one half, and sometimes more, went to swell
the gain of the tavern-keeper. Had it not been that a cow and a few
chickens were left to them at the last seizure of their things,
pinching hunger would have entered the comfortless home where the
mother hid herself with her children.

At last Foster became so good for nothing, that he could not obtain
employment as a farm hand anywhere in the neighbourhood, and was
obliged to go off to a distance to get work. This, to him, was not
felt to be a very great trial, for it removed him from the sight of
his half-fed, half-clothed children, and dejected, suffering wife;
and he could, therefore spend with more freedom, and fewer touches,
of compunction, the greater portion of his earnings in gratifying
the inordinate cravings of his vitiated appetite.

Thus, in general, stood affairs at the opening of our story. Let us
now take a nearer and more particular view. Let us approach, and
enter the cheerless abode of the man who, to feed an evil and
debasing appetite, could heartlessly turn away from his faithful
wife and dependent little ones, and leave them to the keenest
suffering.

New Year's day, to which the farmer's wife and children were looking
forward with so much delight, was but little more than a week off,
and Mrs. Foster expected her husband home also. But with what
different feelings did she anticipate his arrival! He never brought
a glad welcome with his presence; although his wife, when he was
absent, always looked for and desired his return. He had been away
over three months; and was earning twenty dollars a month. But, he
had only sent home eighteen dollars during the whole time. This, we
need hardly say, was far from enough to meet the wants of his
family. Had it not been that George, who was but eleven years old,
went every day to a factory in the village and worked from morning
until night, thus earning about a dollar and a half a week, and that
the mother took in sewing, spinning, washing and ironing, and
whatever she could get to do, they must have wanted even enough to
eat.

It was but six days to New Year's. Mrs. Foster had been washing
nearly the whole day,--work that she was really not able to do, and
which always so tired her out, that in the night following she could
not sleep from excessive fatigue,--she had been washing nearly all
day, and now, after cleaning up the floor, and putting the confused
room into a little order, she sat down to finish some work promised
by the next morning. It was nearly dark, and she was standing, with
her sewing, close up to the window, in order to see more distinctly
in the fading light, when there came a loud knock at the door. One
of the children opened it, and a man, whose face she knew too well,
came in. He was the owner of the poor tenement in which they lived.

"Have you heard from Foster since I was here last?" said the man,
with an unpleasant abruptness of manner.

"No sir, I have not," replied Mrs. Foster, in a low, timid voice,
for she felt afraid of the man.

"When do you expect him home?"

"He will be here at New Year's."

"Humph! Do you know whether he will bring any money?"

"I am sure I cannot tell; but I hope so."

"He'd better;"--the man spoke in a menacing tone--"for I don't
intend waiting any longer for my rent."

No reply was made to this.

"Will you tell your husband, when he returns, my good woman, what I
have just said?"

"I will," was meekly replied.

"Very well. If he doesn't come up to the notch then, I shall take my
course. It is simple and easy; so you had better be warned in time."
And the man walked out as abruptly as he came in. Mrs. Foster looked
after him from the window, where she had continued standing, and saw
him stop and look attentively at their cow, that stood waiting to be
milked, at the door. A faintness came over her heart, for she
understood now, better than before, the meaning of his threats.

An hour after dark George came home with his hand in a sling. He
went up, quickly, to where his mother was sitting by a table at
work, and dropping down in a chair, hid his face in her lap, without
speaking, but bursting into tears as he did so.

"Oh George! what is the matter?" exclaimed the mother in great
alarm. "What ails your hand?"

"It got mashed in the wheel," replied the boy, sobbing.

"Badly?" asked the mother, turning pale, and feeling sick and faint.

"It's hurt a good deal; but the doctor tied it up, and says it will
get well again; but I won't be able to go to work again in a good
while."

And the lad, from sobbing, wept bitterly. The mother leaned her head
down upon her boy, and wept with him.

"I don't mind the hurt so much," said George, after he had recovered
himself; "but I won't be able to do any thing at the mill until it
gets well."

"Can't I go to work in his place, mamma?" spoke up, quickly, little
Emma, just in her tenth year. Mrs. Foster kissed the earnest face of
her child and said--

"No, dear; you are not old enough."

"I'm nine, and most as big as George. Yes, mamma, I'm big enough.
Won't you go and ask them to let me come and work in brother's place
till he gets well?"

The mother, her heart almost bursting with many conflicting
emotions, drew the child's head down upon her bosom, and held it
tightly against her heart.

The time of severer trial was evidently drawing near. Almost the
last resource was cut off, in the injury her boy had sustained. She
had not looked at his hand, nor did she comprehend the extent of
damage it had received. It was enough, and more than enough, that it
was badly hurt--so badly, that a physician had been required to
dress it. How the mother's heart did ache, as she thought of the
pain i her poor boy had suffered, and might yet be doomed to suffer!
And yet, amid this pain, came intruding the thought, which she tried
to repel as a selfish thought, that he could work no more, and earn
no more, for, perhaps, a long, long time.

Yes, the period of severer trial had evidently come. She did not
permit herself even to hope that her husband when he returned would
bring with him enough money to pay the rent. She knew, too well,
that he would not; and she also knew, alas! too well that the man to
whose tender mercies they would then be exposed had no bowels of
compassion.

Wet with many tears was the pillow upon which the mother's head
reposed that night. She was too weary in body and sorrowful in mind
to sleep.

On the next morning a deep snow lay upon the ground. To some a sight
of the earth's pure white covering was pleasant, and they could look
upon the flakes still falling gracefully through the air with a
feeling of exhilaration. But they had food and fuel in store--they
had warm clothing--they had comfortable homes. There was no fear of
cold and hunger with them--no dread of being sent forth,
shelterless, in the chilling winter. It was different with Mrs.
Foster when she looked from her window at daylight.

George had been restless, and moaned a good deal through the night;
but now he slept soundly, and there was a bright flush upon his
cheeks. With what a feeling of tenderness and yearning pity did his
mother bend over him, and gaze into his fair face, fairer now than
it had ever looked to her. But she could not linger long over her
sleeping boy.

With the daylight, unrefreshed as she was, came her "never ending,
still beginning" toil; and now she felt that she must toil harder
and longer, and without hope.

Though little Emma's offer to go and work in the mill in her
brother's place had passed from the thought of Mrs. Foster, yet the
child had been too much in earnest to forget it herself. Young as
she was, the very pressure of circumstances by which she was
surrounded had made her comprehend clearly the necessity that
existed for George to go and work daily in the mill. She knew that
he earned a dollar and a half weekly; and she understood very well,
that without this income her mother would be greatly distressed.

After she had eaten her breakfast of bread and milk, the child went
up stairs and got an old pair of stockings, which she drew on over
her shoes, that had long been so worn as to afford but little
protection to her feet; and then taking from a closet an old shawl,
drew it over her head. Thus attired, she waited at the head of the
stairs until her mother was out of the way, and then went quickly
down. She managed to leave the house without being seen by any one,
and took her way, through the deep and untracked snow, towards the
mill, which was about a quarter of a mile off. The air was bitter
cold, and the storm still continued; but the child plodded on,
chilled to the very heart, as she soon was, and, at length, almost
frozen, reached the mill. The owner had observed her approach from
the window, and wondering who she was, or what brought so small a
child to the mill through the cold and storm, went down to meet her.

"Bless me! little one!" he said, lifting her from the ground and
placing her within the door. "Who are you, and what do you want?"

"I'm George's sister, and I've come to work in his place till he
gets well," replied the child, as she stood, with shivering body and
chattering teeth, looking up earnestly into the man's face.

"George Foster's sister?"

"Yes, sir. His hand's hurt so he can't work, and I've come to work
in his place."

"You have! Who sent you, pray?"

"Nobody sent me."

"Does your mother know about your coming?"

"No, sir."

"Why do you want to work in George's place?"

"If I do, then you'll send mother a dollar and a half every week,
won't you?"

The owner of the mill was a kind-hearted man, and this little
incident touched his feelings.

"You are not big enough to work in the mill, my child," said he,
kindly.

"I'm nine years old," replied Emma, quickly.

"Oh yes! I can work as well as anybody. Do let me come in George's
place! Won't you?"

Emma had not been gone very long before she was missed. Her mother
had become quite alarmed about her, when she heard sleigh-bells at
the door, and, looking out, saw the owner of the mill and her child.
Wondering what this could mean, she went out to meet them.

"This little runaway of yours," said the man, in a pleasant voice,
"came trudging over to the mill this morning, through the snow, and
wanted to take the place of George, who was so badly hurt yesterday,
in order that you might get, as she said, a dollar and a half every
week."

"Why, Emma!" exclaimed her mother, as she lifted her from the
sleigh. "How could you do so? You are not old enough to work in your
brother's place."

"Besides," said the man, "there is no need of your doing so; for
George shall have his dollar and a half, the same as ever, until he
is able to go to work again. So then, my little one, set your heart
at rest."

Emma understood this very well, and bounded away into the house to
take the good news to her brother, who was as much rejoiced as
herself. After inquiring about George, and repeating to Mrs. Foster
what he had said to Emma, he told her that he would pay the doctor
for attending the lad, so that the accident needn't prove a burden
to her.

The heart of Mrs. Foster lifted itself, thankfully, as she went back
into the house.

"Don't scold her, mother," said George. "She thought she was doing
right."

This appeal, so earnestly made, quite broke down the feelings of
Mrs. Foster, and she went quickly into another room, and closing the
door after her, sat down by the bedside, and, burying her face in a
pillow, suffered her tears to flow freely. Scold the child! She felt
more like taking her in her arms, and hugging her passionately to
her bosom.

To know that the small income her boy's labour had produced was not
to be cut off, proved a great relief to the mind of Mrs. Foster;
but, in a little while, her thoughts went back to the landlord's
threat and the real distress and hopelessness of their situation. To
the period of her husband's return she looked with no feeling of
hope; but, rather, with a painful certainty, that his appearance
would be the signal for the landlord to put his threat into
execution.

Sadly the days went by, each one bringing nearer the time towards
which the unhappy woman now looked forward with a feeling of dread.
That the landlord would keep his promise, she did not, for an
instant, doubt. Without their cow, how could she, with all her
exertions, feed her children? No wonder that her heart was troubled.

At last the day before the opening year came.

"Papa will be home to-morrow," said Emma. "I wonder what he will
bring me for a New Year's gift."

"I wish he would bring me a book," said George.

"I'd like a pair of new shoes," remarked the little girl, more
soberly, looking down at her feet, upon which were tied, with coarse
strings, what were called shoes, but hardly retained their
semblance. "And mamma wants shoes, too," added the child. "Oh! I
wish papa would bring her, for a New Year's gift, a nice new pair of
shoes."

The mother heard her children talking, and sighed to think how vain
were all their expectations.

"I wish we had a turkey for father's New Year's dinner," said Emma.

"And some mince pies!" spoke up little Hetty, the youngest, clapping
her hands. "Why don't we have mince pies, mamma?" she said, taking
hold of her mother's apron and looking up at her.

"Papa likes mince pies, I know; and so do I. Don't you like mince
pies, George?"

George, who was old enough to understand better than the rest of
them the true cause of the privations they suffered, saw that
Hetty's questions had brought tears to his mother's eyes, and, with
a thoughtfulness beyond his years, sought to turn the conversation
into another channel.

But the words of the children had brought to the mind of Mrs. Foster
a memory of other times,--of the many happy New Years she had
enjoyed with her husband, their board crowned with the blessings of
the year. Her dim eyes turned from her neglected little ones, and
fell upon a small ornament that stood upon the mantle. It was the
New Year's gift of her husband in better days. It reminded her too
strongly of the contrast between that time and the gloomy present.
She went quickly from the room, to weep unheard and alone.

New Year's morning at length broke clear and cold. Mrs. Foster was
up betimes. It was no holiday to her. Early in the day her husband
was to come home, and though she could not help looking and wishing
for him to come, yet the thought of him produced a pressure in her
bosom. She felt that his presence would only bring for her heart a
deeper shadow.

The children had grown eager for him to come. The younger ones
talked of the presents he would bring them, while George thought of
a book, yet dared hardly hope to receive one. At last, Emma descried
her father far down the road, and announced, in a loud voice, his
coming. The heart of the mother throbbed quicker at the word. She
went to the window, where the children crowded, feeling troubled,
and yet with something of the old gladness about her heart. She
strained her eyes to see him, and yet dreaded to fix them upon him
too intently, lest more should be seen than she wished to see. He
came nearer and nearer, and she was yet at the window, her heart
beating audibly. Could her eyes deceive her, or was it indeed so?
His form was erect and his step firm, and, though his clothes were
the same, they did not look so untidy.

"Thank God!" she ejaculated silently, yet fervently, as he came
nearer still--"he is sober."

Yes, he was sober.

"Henry!" she could not say another word, as she took his hand when
he came in. Her eyes were full of tears. He pressed her thin, small,
labour-worn hand tightly, and then turned and sat down. He, too, was
moved as well as she. But the children gathered around him, and
seemed gladder to see him than when he was last home. There was a
reason for this. Seeing the hand of George in a sling, he inquired
the cause, and when told of the accident, appeared deeply grieved,
and said he should not go back to the mill any more. The heart of
his wife fluttered. Was there a meaning deeper than a momentary
impulse? At last little Hetty, who had climbed upon his knee, said,
"Where's my New Year's gift, papa?"

The father put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small
picture-book, and gave it to the child who was wild with joy in a
moment. He had a larger book for Emma, and Robinson Crusoe for
George.

"And what for mother?" asked Emma, looking earnestly at her father.
"Haven't you brought dear mother a New Year's gift, too?"

"Oh, yes," replied the father, "I've got something for her also."
His voice was a little unsteady as he said this. Then he put his
hand into his pocket again, and, after keeping it there for a moment
or two, drew out a large folded piece of paper that looked like a
title-deed, and handed it to his wife, who took it with a trembling
hand. She opened it, read a few words, and, bursting into tears,
turned and went quickly from the room. Hers were tears of
joy--unutterable joy.

Was it then a title-deed of property that her husband had given her,
filling her heart with gladness at the thought of relief from toil,
and privation, and suffering? No, it was better than that, and
brought a fuller and more perfect joy. It was a _New Year's gift_
such as she had never dared hope to receive--the dearest gift in the
power of her husband to bestow. Already blotted with tears, it was
tightly pressed to her heaving bosom.

What was it? What could it be but the blessed temperance pledge,
signed, in a firm hand, with her husband's name.

That was indeed a happy New Year's day to the wife and mother, who,
when the morning dawned, felt that she was entering upon the darkest
days of her troubled existence. But a brighter day unknown was
breaking. It broke, and no gloomy clouds have since arisen to
obscure its smiling skies.






AUNT MARY'S PRESERVING KETTLE.





"I DECLARE, if these preserves haven't been working!" exclaimed Aunt
Mary, as she opened a jar of choice quinces, and perceived that,
since they were sealed up and carefully stored for the winter,
fermentation had taken place.

"And the peaches, too, as I live!" she added on examining another
jar. "Run, Hannah, and bring me my preserving kettle. I shall have
to do them all over."

"Mrs. Tompkins borrowed it, you know, yesterday," Hannah replied.

"So she did, I declare! Well, you must run over to Mrs. Tompkins,
Hannah, and tell her that I want my preserving kettle."

Hannah departed, and Aunt Mary proceeded to examine jar after jar of
her rich store of preserves, and, much to her disappointment, found
that all of her quinces and peaches, comprising some eight or ten
jars, had commenced working. These she took from their dark corners
in the closet, and, placing them on the large table in the kitchen,
awaited patiently Hannah's return. In about fifteen minutes her help
entered.

"But where is the kettle?" inquired Aunt Mary, eagerly.

"Why, ma'am, Mrs. Tompkins says as how she ain't quite done with it
yet; she's finished her pears; but then she has her mamlet to do."

Aunt Mary Pierce was a good woman, and her heart was full of kind
feelings towards others. But she had her foibles as well as her
neighbours, and among these was an almost passionate admiration of
her beautiful bell-metal preserving kettle, which was always kept as
bright as a gold eagle. Nothing tried Aunt Mary more than to have to
lend her preserving kettle. But as in reading her Bible she found it
written--_Of him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away_--she
dared not refuse any of the applications that were made for it, and
in preserving time these were enough to try the patience of even a
better woman than Aunt Mary. The fact was, that Aunt Mary's
preserving kettle was the best in the village, and there were at
least a dozen or two of her neighbours, who did not think their
sweetmeats good for any thing if not prepared in this favourite
kettle.

"Ain't it too bad!" ejaculated Aunt Mary, lifting her hands and then
letting them fall quickly. "Ain't it too bad! But it is always so!
Just when I want my own things, somebody's got them. Go right back,
Hannah, and tell Mrs. Tompkins that my preserves are all a working,
and that I must have my kettle at once, or they will be ruined."

Hannah started off again, and Aunt Mary stood, far less patiently
than before, beside the table on which she had placed her jars, and
awaited her return.

"Well," she asked eagerly, as Hannah entered after the lapse of some
ten minutes, where is the kettle?"

"Mrs. Tompkins says, ma'am, that she is very sorry that your
preserves have commenced working, but that it won't hurt them if
they are not done over for three or four days. She says that her
mamlet is all ready to put on, and as soon as that is done you shall
have the kettle in welcome."

Poor Aunt Mary was, for a few minutes, mute with astonishment. On
recovering herself, she did not storm and fret. Indeed, she was
never guilty of these little housewife effervescences, usually
taking every trouble with a degree of Christian meekness that it
would have been well for many in the village, even the minister's
wife, to have imitated.

"Well, Hannah," she said, heaving a sigh, "we shall have to wait, I
suppose, until Mrs. Tompkins has finished her marmalade. But I am
afraid all these preserves will be spoiled. Unless done over
immediately on their beginning to work, they get a flavour that is
not pleasant. But we must wait patiently."

"It's a downright shame, ma'am, so it is!" said Hannah, "and I
wonder you take it so quietly. If it was my kettle, and I wanted it,
I reckon I'd have it too quick. Only just say the word, ma'am, and I
will get it for you if I have to take it off of the fire."

"Oh no, no, no, not for the world, Hannah!" replied Aunt Mary, to
her indignant help. "We will try and wait for her, though it is a
little hard to have one's things always a-going, and never to be
able to put your hands on them when you want them."

All the next day Aunt Mary suffered the jars of fermenting preserves
to remain on the kitchen table. Every time her eye rested upon them,
unkind thoughts would arise in her mind against her neighbour, Mrs.
Tompkins, but she used her best efforts to suppress them. About the
middle of the next day, as the preserving kettle did not make its
appearance, Hannah was again despatched, with directions to urge
upon Mrs. Tompkins the pressing necessity there was for its being
returned. In due time Hannah made her appearance, but without the
kettle.

"Well?" inquired Aunt Mary, in a tone of disappointment.

"Mrs. Tompkins says, ma'am," replied Hannah, "that you needn't be in
such a fever about your old preserving kettle, and that it is not at
all neigh-hourly to be sending for a thing before it is done with.
She says she won't be through with her mamlet before day after
to-morrow, and that you can't have the kettle before then."

"Well, it is a downright shame!" said Aunt Mary, with a warmth of
manner unusual to her.

"And so I told her," responded Hannah.

"You did! And what did Mrs. Tompkins say?"

"Oh, she fired right up, and said she didn't want any of my
imperdence."

"But you oughtn't to have said so, Hannah."

"How could I help it, ma'am, when my blood was boiling over? It is a
shame; that's the truth."

Aunt Mary did not reply, but she thought all that Hannah had said to
Mrs. Tompkins, and a good deal more. Indeed, her forbearance was
sorely tried. Never since she could recollect, had she felt so
unkindly towards any one as she now did towards her neighbour and
fellow church member. Often did she try to put away these unkind and
troublesome thoughts; but the effort was vain. Mrs. Tompkins had
trespassed so far upon her rights, and then put such a face upon it,
that she could not help feeling incensed at her conduct.

After a while "day after to-morrow" came, which was on Saturday.

"I must have that kettle to-day, Hannah," said she, and Hannah
started off to Mrs. Tompkins.

"You needn't come after that kettle to-day," spoke up Mrs. Tompkins,
as Hannah entered, "my marmalade is not all done yet."

"But we must have it to-day, Mrs. Tompkins. Mrs. Pierce says as how
I mustn't come home without it. The preserves are nearly ruined now,
and all because you didn't send home the kittle when we first wanted
it."

"I want none of your impudence," said Mrs. Tompkins, going off at
once into a passion, for she was rather a high-tempered woman, "and
so just shut up at once. If Mrs. Pierce is so fussy about her old
worn-out kettle, she can have it and make the most out of it. A
pretty neighbour, indeed! Here, Sally," calling to her help, "empty
that kettle and give it to Hannah."

"Where shall I empty it?" asked Sally.

"Empty it into the slop barrel, for what I care; the whole kettle of
marmalade will be spoiled any how. A pretty neighbour, indeed!"

Sally, who understood her mistress's mood, knew very well that her
orders were not to be literally obeyed. So she took the preserving
kettle from the fire, and poured its contents into a large pan,
instead of the slop barrel.

"Here's the kettle," said she, bringing it in and handing. it to
Hannah. It was black and dirty on the outside, and within all
besmeared with the marmalade, for Sally cared not to take the
trouble of cleaning it.

"There, take the kettle!" said Mrs. Tompkins in an excited tone,
"and tell Mrs. Pierce that it is the last time I'll borrow any thing
from her."

Hannah took the kettle, and started for home at full speed.

"So you've got it at last," Said Aunt Mary, when Hannah entered;
"and a pretty looking thing it is! Really it is too bad to have a
thing sent home in that predicament."

"But ain't she mad though!" remarked Hannah, with something of
exultation in her tones.

"What in the world can she be mad about?" asked Aunt Mary in
surprise.

"Mad because I would have the kittle. Why, there she had her mamlet
on the fire, boiling away, and said you couldn't have the kittle.
But I told her you must have it; that your preserves were nearly all
spoiled, just because you couldn't get your own kittle. Oh, but
didn't she bile over then! And so she told Sally to pour the mamlet
into the slop barrel, as it would all be spoiled any how, by your
unneighbourly treatment to her."

Poor Aunt Mary was dreadfully grieved at this. She loved the good
opinion of her neighbours, and it always gave her pleasure to oblige
them; but, in this case, she had been tried beyond endurance. She
had little heart now to touch her preserves, and so went off to her
chamber and sat down, overcome by painful feelings.

In the mean time, Hannah went to work, and, by dint of half an
hour's hard scouring, got the kettle to look something like itself.
She then went up and told Aunt Mary that every thing was now ready
for doing the preserves over again.

"I reckon we'll not boil them over to-day, Hannah," she replied.
"It's Saturday, and you've got a good deal of cleaning to do, and I
don't feel much like touching them. The preserves won't get much
worse by Monday."

Hannah, who understood her mistress's feelings, and sympathized with
her, because she loved her, did not urge the matter, but at once
withdrew and left Aunt Mary to her own unpleasant reflections. It so
happened that the next day was the Communion Sabbath; and this fact
had at once occurred to Aunt Mary when Hannah repeated the words of
Mrs. Tompkins, and stated that she was very angry. Mrs. Tompkins was
a member and communicant of the same church with her. After sitting
thoughtfully in her chamber for some time, Aunt Mary took up the
communion service and commenced reading it. When she came to the
words, "Ye who do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, _and are
in love and charity with your neighbours,_" &c. &c., she paused and
sat thoughtful and troubled for some time.

"Am I in love and charity with my neighbours?" she at length asked
herself, aloud, drawing a heavy sigh.

"No, I am not," was the mental response. "Mrs. Tompkins is angry
with me, and I am sure I do not feel right towards her."

During all that afternoon, Aunt Mary remained in her chamber, in
deep communion with herself. For the last twenty years she had
never, on a single occasion, stayed away from the Lord's table; but
now she felt that she dared not go forward, for she was not in love
and charity with her neighbours, and the injunction was explicit.
Night came, and at the usual hour she retired, but not to sleep the
sweet refreshing sleep that usually locked up her senses. Her
thoughts were so active and troubled, that she could not sink away
into a quiet slumber until long after midnight. In the morning she
felt no better, and, as church time approached, her heart beat more
heavily in her bosom. Finally, the nine o'clock bell rang, and every
stroke seemed like a knell. At last the hour for assembling came,
and Aunt Mary, cast down in heart, repaired to the meeting-house.
The pew of Mrs. Tompkins was just in front of Aunt Mary's, but that
lady did not turn around and smile and give her hand as usual when
she entered. All this Aunt Mary felt.

In due time the services commenced, and regularly progressed to
their conclusion, the minister preaching a very close sermon. The
solemn and impressive communion service followed, and then the
members went up to partake of the sacred emblems. But Aunt Mary did
not go up as usual. She could not, for she was not in love and
charity with her neighbours. This was noticed by many, and
particularly by the minister, who lingered after all had
successively approached the table and retired, repeating his
invitation, while his eye was fixed upon Aunt Mary.

"What can be the matter?" asked Mrs. Peabody of Mrs. Beebe, the
moment she got outside of the church door. "Aunt Mary didn't go up."

"Indeed! It can't be possible?"

"Yes, but it is. For I sat just behind her all the time. She seemed
very uneasy, and I thought troubled. She hardly looked up during the
sermon, and hurried away, without speaking to any one, as soon as
the congregation was dismissed at the close of the communion
service. What can be the matter?"

"It is strange, indeed!" responded Mrs. Green, who came up while
Mrs. Peabody was speaking.

"I took notice myself that she did not go up."

"I wonder if she has done any thing wrong?"

"Oh, no!"

"Then what can be the matter?"

"I would give any thing to know!"

"Something is wrong, that is certain," remarked one of the little
crowd, for the group of two or three had swelled to as many dozens.

Many were the suggestions made in reference to Aunt Mary's conduct;
and, before Sabbath evening, there was not one of, the members that
did not know and wonder at her strange omission.

After Aunt Mary returned from church, she felt even worse than
before. A sacred privilege had been deliberately omitted, and all
because she had let unkindness spring up between herself and her
neighbour.

"And yet how could I help it?" she argued with herself. "I was tired
out of all patience. I only sent for my own, and because I did so,
Mrs. Tompkins became offended. I am sure I was not to blame."

"But then," said another voice within her, "you could have gone over
on Saturday and made up the matter with her, and then there would
have been nothing in the way. One duty neglected only opened the way
for another."

There was something in this that could not be gainsaid, and poor
Aunt Mary felt as deeply troubled as ever. She did not, as usual, go
to the afternoon meeting, for she had no heart to do so. And then,
as the shades of evening fell dimly around, she reproached herself
for this omission. Poor soul! how sadly did she vex her spirit by
self-condemnation.

That evening several of the society called in at the minister's
house, and soon Aunt Mary's singular conduct became the subject of
conversation.

"Ain't it strange?" said one. "Such a thing has not occurred for
these ten years, to my certain knowledge."

"No, nor for twenty either," remarked the minister.

"She seemed very uneasy during the sermon," said another.

"I thought she did not appear well, as my eye fell upon her
occasionally," the minister added. "But she is one of the best of
women, and I suppose she is undergoing some sore temptation, out of
which she will come as gold tried in the fire."

"I don't know," broke in Mrs. Tompkins, who was among the visitors,
"that she is so much better than other people. For my part, I can't
say that I ever found her to be any thing extra."

"You do not judge of her kindly, Mrs. Tompkins," said the minister
gravely. "I only wish that all my parish were as good as she is. I
should feel, in that case, I am sure, far less concern for souls
than I do."

Thus rebuked, Mrs. Tompkins contented herself by saying, in an
under-tone, to one who sat near her--

"They may say what they please, but I am well enough acquainted with
her to know that she is no better than other people."

Thus the conversation and the conjectures went round, while the
subject of them sat in solitude and sadness in her own chamber.
Finally, the minister said that he would call in and have some
conversation with her on the next day, as he had no doubt that there
was some trouble on her mind, and it might be in his power to
relieve it.

Monday morning came at last, and Aunt Mary proceeded, though with
but little interest in her occupation, to "do over" her preserves.
She found them in a state that gave her little hope of being able to
restore them to any thing like their original flavour. But the trial
must be made, and so she filled her kettle as full as requisite of a
particular kind, and hung it over a slow fire. This had hardly been
done, when Hannah came in and said--

"As I live, Mrs. Pierce, there is the minister coming up the walk!"

And sure enough, on glancing out, she saw the minister almost at the
door-step.

"Bless me!" she exclaimed, and then hurried into her little parlour,
to await the knock of her unexpected visitor. At almost any other
time, a call from the minister would have been delightful. But now,
poor Aunt Mary felt that she would as soon have seen any one else.

The knock came in a moment, and, after a pause, the door was opened.

"How do you do, Aunt Mary? I am very glad to see you," said the
minister, extending his hand.

Aunt Mary looked troubled and confused; but she received him in the
best way she could. Still her manner embarrassed them both. After a
few leading observations, the minister at length said--

"You seem troubled, Aunt Mary. Can any thing that I might say
relieve the pain of mind you evidently feel?"

The tears came into Aunt Mary's eyes, but she could not venture to
reply. The minister observed her emotion, and also the meek
expression of her countenance.

"Do not vex yourself unnecessarily," he remarked. "If any thing has
gone wrong with you, deal frankly with your minister. You know that
I am ever ready to counsel and advise."

"I know it," said Aunt Mary, and her voice trembled. "And I need
much your kind direction. Yet I hardly know how to tell you my
troubles. One thing, however, is certain. I have done wrong. But how
to mend that wrong I know not, while there exists an unwillingness
on my part to correct it."

"You must shun evil as sin," the minister remarked in a serious
tone.

"I know, and it is for that reason I am troubled. I have unkind
thoughts, and they are evil, and yet I cannot put these unkind
thoughts away."

For a moment the minister sat silent, and then, looking up with a
smile, said--

"Come, Aunt Mary, be open and frank. Tell me all the particulars of
your troubles, and then I am sure I can help you."

Aunt Mary, in turn, sat silent and thoughtful for a short period,
and then, raising her head, she proceeded to relate her troubles.
She told him how much she had been tried, year after year, during
the preserving season, by the neighbours who had borrowed her
preserving kettle. It was the best in the village, and she took a
pride in it, but she could have no satisfaction in its possession.
It was always going, and never returned in good order. She then
frankly related how she had been tried by Mrs. Tompkins, and how
nearly all of her preserves were spoiled, because she could not get
home her kettle,--how the unkind feelings which had suddenly sprung
up between them in consequence had troubled her, and even caused her
to abstain, under conscientious scruples, from the communion.

The minister's heart felt lighter in his bosom as she concluded her
simple narrative, and, smiling encouragingly, he said--"Don't let it
trouble you, Aunt Mary; it will all come right again. You have
certainly been treated very badly, and I don't wonder at all that
your feelings were tried."

"But what shall I do?" asked Aunt Mary, eagerly. "I feel very much
troubled, and am very anxious to have all unkindness done away."

"Do you think you can forgive Mrs. Tompkins?"

"Oh, yes. She has not acted kindly, but I can forgive her from my
heart."

"Then you might call over and see her, and explain the whole matter.
I am sure all difficulties will end there."

"I will go this day," Aunt Mary said, encouragingly.

The minister sat a short time longer, and then went away. He had no
sooner gone, than Aunt Mary put on her things and went directly over
to Mrs. Tompkins.

"Good morning, Mrs. Pierce," that lady said, coolly, as her visitor
entered. She had always before called Aunt Mary by the familiar name
by which she was known in the village.

"Good morning, Mrs. Tompkins. I have come over to say that I am very
sorry if I offended you on Saturday. I am sure I did not mean to do
so. I only sent for my kettle, and would not have done that, had not
some seven or eight jars of preserves been working."

"Oh, it was no offence to send for your kettle," Mrs. Tompkins
replied, smiling. "That was all right and proper. I was only a
little vexed at your Hannah's impudence. But, Aunt Mary, 'let
has-beens be has-beens.' I am sorry that there has occurred the
least bit of coolness between us."

Aunt Mary's heart bounded as lightly as if a hundred-pound weight
had been taken from it; she was made happy on the instant.

"You don't know how glad I am to hear you say so, Mrs. Tompkins,"
she said, earnestly. "It has removed a load from my heart.
Hereafter, I hope nothing will occur again to disturb our friendly
feelings. You may have the kettle again, in a day or two, in
welcome, and keep it as long as you please."

The breach was thus easily healed; and had Aunt Mary gone over on
Saturday to see Mrs. Tompkins, she would have saved herself a world
of trouble.

Still, nothing of this was known to the other members of the church,
who were as full of conjecture as ever, touching the singular
conduct, as they called it, of Aunt Mary. The minister said nothing,
and Mrs. Tompkins, of course, said nothing; and no one ventured to
question Aunt Mary.

On the next Sabbath, Aunt Mary came to church as usual, and all eyes
were instantly upon her.

Some thought she still looked troubled, and was paler than before,
while others perceived that she was really more cheerful. In due
time, the minister arose and announced his text:

"Give to him that asketh, and of him that would borrow of thee, turn
thou not away."

"My dear friends," said he, on drawing near to the close of his
subject, "the text teaches us, besides that of simple alms-giving,
the duty of lending; but you will observe, it says not a word about
borrowing. Under the law laid down here, we may lend as much as we
please, but it gives no license to borrow. Now, as far as I have
been able to learn, a number of my congregation have not been very
particular on this point. They seem to think that it is helping
their neighbours to keep this injunction to lend, by compelling an
obedience to the precept, whether they are inclined to obey or not.
Now, this is wrong. We are justified in lending to those who need
such kind offices, but not to put others to the inconvenience of
lending when we are fully able to supply our own wants. This is
going beyond the scope of the Divine injunction, and I hold it to be
morally wrong to do so. Some of you, I am credibly informed," and
his voice fell to a low, distinct, and solemn tone, "are in the
habit of regularly borrowing Aunt Mary's preserving kettle--(here
Aunt Mary looked up with a bewildered air, while her face coloured
deeply, and the whole congregation stared in amazement; but the
minister went calmly on)--and this, too, without regard to her
convenience. Nor is this all--the kettle is hardly ever returned in
a good condition. How thoughtless! how wrong! In this, Aunt Mary
alone has been faithful to the precept in my text, while you have
departed widely from its true spirit. Let me hope that you will
think better of this matter, and wisely resolve to let your past
short-comings suffice."

And thus the sermon closed. It may well be supposed that for some
days there was something of a stir in the hive. The ladies of the
congregation who were among the borrowers of the preserving kettle,
and they were not a few, including the minister's wife, were for a
time deeply incensed at Aunt Mary, and not a few at the minister.
But this temporary indignation soon wore off, for Aunt Mary was so
kind and good that no one could feel offended with her for any
length of time, more especially where there was really no cause of
offence. One by one, they called upon her, as they were enabled to
see how really they had been guilty of trespassing upon good nature,
and, after apologizing, enjoyed with her a hearty laugh upon the
subject. And, finally, the whole thing came to be looked upon as
quite an amusing as well as an instructive affair.

After this, Aunt Mary was allowed to possess her beautiful
bell-metal preserving kettle in peace, which was to her a source of
no small satisfaction. And what was more, in the course of the next
preserving season, a stock of twenty or thirty brass, copper, and
bell-metal kettles, that had been lying for years on the shelves of
a hardware-dealer's store in the village, almost uninquired for,
were all sold off, and a new supply obtained from Boston to meet the
increased demand.






HOME AT LAST.





"WE'RE home at last, and I am so glad!" exclaimed a little girl, not
over ten years of age, as she paused at twilight with her mother
before a small and mean-looking house, one evening late in the month
of November.

The mother did not reply, but lifted the latch, when both passed in.
There was no light in the dwelling, and no fire on the hearth. All
was cold, dark, and cheerless in that place which had been called
"home" by the little girl; yet, cold, dark, and cheerless as it was,
she still felt glad to be there once more.

"_I_ will get a light, mother," said she, in a cheerful tone,
running to a closet, and taking thence a candle and a match.

In a moment or two afterwards the candle was burning brightly, and
throwing its light into every corner of that meanly-furnished room,
which contained but few articles, and they the simplest that were
needed. An old pine table, without leaves, three or four old chairs
the paint from which had long since disappeared, a bench and a water
bucket, with a few cooking utensils, made up the furniture of the
apartment.

A small fire was soon kindled on the hearth, over which the mother
hung a tea-kettle. When this had boiled, and she had drawn some tea,
she placed upon the table a few slices of bread and a piece of
cheese, which she took from a basket that she had borne on her arm.
Then the mother and child sat down to partake of their frugal meal,
which both eat with a keen relish.

"I'm so glad to get home again!" the little girl said, glancing up
into her mother's face, with a cheerful smile.

The mother looked upon her child with a tender expression, but did
not reply. She thought how poor and comfortless that home was which
seemed so desirable.

"I don't like to go to Mrs. Walker's," said the child, after the
lapse of a few moments.

"Why not, Jane?"

"Because I can't do any thing right there. Amy scolds me if I touch
a thing, and John won't let me go any place, except into the
kitchen. I'm sure I like home a great deal better, and I wish you
would always stay at home, mother."

"I would never go out, Jane, if I could help it," the mother
replied, in the effort to make her daughter understand, that she
might acquiesce in the necessity. "But you know that we must eat,
and have clothes to wear, and pay for the house we live in. I could
not get the money to do all this, if I did not go out to work in
other people's houses, and then we would be hungry, and cold, and
not have any home to come to."

The little girl sighed and remained silent for a few moments. Then
she said, in a more cheerful tone,

"I know it's wrong for me to talk as I do, mother, and I'll try not
to complain any more. It's a great deal harder for you than it is
for me to go into these big people's houses. You have to work so
hard, and I have only to sit still in the kitchen. But won't father
come home soon? He's been away so long! When he was home we had
every thing we wanted, and you didn't have to go out a working."

Tears came into the mother's eyes, and her feelings were so moved,
that she could not venture to reply.

"Won't he be home soon, mother?" pursued the child.

"I'm afraid not," the mother at length said, in as calm a voice as
she could assume.

"Why not, mother? He's been gone a long time."

"I cannot tell you, my child. But I don't expect him home soon."

"Oh, I wish he would come," the child responded, earnestly. "If he
was only home, you would not have to go out to work any more."

The mother thought that she heard the movement of some one near the
door, and leant her head in a listening attitude. But all was silent
without, save the occasional sound of footsteps as some one hurried
by.

To give the incidents and characters that we have introduced their
true interest, we must go back some twelve years, and bring the
history of at least one of the individuals down from that time.

A young lady and one of more mature age sat near a window,
conversing earnestly, about the period to which we have reference.

"I would make it an insuperable objection," the elder of the two
said, in a decided tone.

"But surely there can be no harm in his drinking a glass of wine or
brandy now and then. Where is the moral wrong?"

"Do you wish to be a drunkard's wife?"

"No, I would rather be dead."

"Then beware how you become the wife of any man who indulges in even
moderate drinking. No man can do so without being in danger. The
vilest drunkard that goes staggering past your door, will tell you
that once he dreamed not of the danger that lurked in the cup; that,
before he suspected evil, a desire too strong for his weak
resistance was formed."

"I don't believe, aunt, that there is the slightest danger in the
world of Edward Lee. He become a drunkard! How can you dream of such
a thing, aunt?"

"I have seen much more of the world than you have, Alice. And I have
seen too many as high-minded and as excellent in character as Edward
Lee, who have fallen. And I have seen the bright promise of too many
girls utterly extinguished, not to tremble for you. I tell you,
Alice, that of all the causes of misery that exist in the married
life, intemperance is the most fruitful. It involves not only
external privations, toil, and disgrace, but that unutterable
hopelessness which we feel when looking upon the moral debasement of
one we have respected, esteemed, and loved."

"I am sure, aunt, that I will not attempt to gainsay all that. If
there is any condition in life that seems to me most deplorable and
heart-breaking, it is the condition of a drunkard's wife. But, so
far as Edward Lee is concerned, I am sure there does not exist the
remotest danger."

"There is always danger where there is indulgence. The man who will
drink one glass a day now, will be very apt to drink two glasses in
a twelvemonth; and so go on increasing, until his power over himself
is gone. Many, very many, do not become drunkards until they are old
men; but, sooner or later, in nine cases out of ten, a man who
allows himself to drink habitually, I care not how moderately at
first, will lose his self-control."

"Still, aunt, I cannot for a moment bring myself to apprehend danger
in the case of Edward."

"So have hundreds said before you. So did I once say, Alice. But
years of heart-aching misery told how sadly I was mistaken!"

The feelings of Alice were touched by this allusion. She had never
before dreamed that her uncle, who died while she was but a little
girl, had been a drunkard. Still, nothing that her aunt said caused
her to entertain even a momentary doubt of Edward Lee. She felt that
he had too much of the power of principle in his character ever to
be carried away by the vice of intemperance.

Edward Lee had offered himself in marriage to Alice Liston, and it
was on the occasion of her mentioning this to her aunt that the
conversation just riven occurred. It had, however, no effect upon
the mind of Alice. She loved Edward Lee tenderly, end, therefore,
had every confidence in him. They were, consequently, married, and
commenced life with prospects bright and flattering. But Edward
continued to use intoxicating drinks in moderate quantities every
day. And, while the taste for it was forming, he was wholly
unconscious of danger. He would as readily have believed himself in
danger of murdering his wife, as in danger of becoming a drunkard.
He was a young merchant in a good business when married, and able to
put his young wife in possession of a beautifully furnished house
and all required domestic attendance, so as to leave her but a very
small portion of care.

Like the passage of a delightful dream were the first five years of
her wedded life. No one was ever happier than she in her married
lot, or more unconscious of coming evil. She loved her husband
tenderly and deeply, and he was all to her that she could desire.
One sweet child blessed their union. At the end of the period named,
like the sudden bursting of a fearful tempest from a summer sky,
came the illness and death of her aunt, who had been a mother to her
from childhood.

Scarcely had her heart begun to recover from this shock, when it was
startled by another and more terrible affliction. All at once it
became apparent that her husband was losing his self-control. And
the conversation that she had held with her aunt about him, years
before, came up fresh in her memory, like the echo of a warning
voice, now heard, alas! too late. She noticed, with alarm, that he
drank largely of brandy at dinner, and was much stupified when he
would rise from the table--always retiring and sleeping for an hour
before going back to his business. Strange, it seemed to her, that
she had never remarked this before. Now, if she had desired it, she
could not close her eyes to the terrible truth.

For many weeks she bore with the regular daily occurrence of what
has just been alluded to. By that time, her feelings became so
excited, that she could keep silence no longer.

"I wouldn't drink any more brandy, Edward," said she, one day at the
dinner table; "it does you no good."

"How do you know that it does not?" was the prompt reply, made in a
tone that expressed very clearly a rebuke for interfering in a
matter that as he thought, did not concern her.

"I cannot think that it does you any good, and it may do you harm,"
the wife said, hesitatingly, while her eyes grew dim with tears.

"Do me harm! What do you mean, Alice?"

"It does harm, sometimes, you know, Edward?"

"That is, it makes drunkards sometimes. And you are afraid that your
husband will become a drunkard! Quite a compliment to him, truly!"

"O, no, no, no, Edward! I am sure you will never be one.
But--but--but--"

"But what?"

"There is always danger, you know, Edward."

"Oh yes, of course! And I am going to be a drunken vagabond, if I
keep on drinking a glass of brandy at dinner time!"

"Don't talk so, Edward!" said Mrs. Lee, giving way to tears. "You
never spoke to me in this way before."

"I know I never did. Nor did my wife ever insinuate before that she
thought me in danger of becoming that debased, despised thing, a
drunkard!"

"Say no more, Edward, in mercy!" Mrs. Lee responded--"I did not mean
to offend you. Pardon me this once, and I will never again allude to
the subject."

A sullen silence followed on the part of Lee, who drank frequently
during the meal, and seemed to do so more with the evil pleasure of
paining his wife than from any other motive. So sadly perverting is
the influence of liquor upon some men, when opposed, changing those
who are kind and affectionate into cruel and malicious beings.

From that hour Mrs. Lee was a changed woman. She felt that the star
of love, which for so many happy years had thrown its rays into the
very midst of their fireside circle, had become hidden amid clouds,
from which she looked at every moment for the bursting of a
desolating storm. And her husband was, likewise, a changed man. His
pride and self-love had been wounded, and he could not forgive her
who had thus wounded him, even though she were his wife. Whenever he
was under the influence of liquor, he would brood over her words,
and indulge in bitter thoughts against her because she had presumed
to insinuate that there was danger of his becoming a drunkard.

At last he was brought home in a state of drunken insensibility.
This humbled him for a time, but did not cause him to abandon the
use of intoxicating drinks. And it was not long before he was again
in the same condition.

But we cannot linger to trace, step by step, his downward course,
nor to describe its effects upon the mind of his wife; but will pass
over five years more, and again introduce them to the reader.

How sadly altered is every thing! The large and comfortable house,
in an eligible position, has been changed for a small, close,
ill-arranged tenement. The elegant furniture has disappeared, and in
its place are but few articles, and those old and common. But the
saddest change of all is apparent in the face, dress, and air of
Mrs. Lee. Her pale, thin, sorrow-stricken countenance--her old and
faded garments--her slow, melancholy movements, contrast sadly with
what she was a few years before.

A lot of incessant toil is now her portion. Lee has, in consequence
of intemperance, causing neglect of business, failed, and had every
thing taken from him to pay his debts. For a while after this event,
he contributed to the support of his wife and child by acting in the
capacity of a clerk. But he soon became so dissipated, that no
merchant would employ him, and the entire support of the family fell
upon his wife. That was, in the very nature of things, an
exceedingly meagre support. Mrs. Lee had never looked forward to
such a condition in life, and therefore was entirely unprepared for
it. Ordinary sewing was all that she could do, and at this she could
make but a small pittance. The little that her husband earned was
all expended in the accursed poison that had already ruined himself
and beggared his family.

After having suffered every thing to sink to this condition, Lee
found so little attractive in the appearance of a heart-broken wife
and beggared child, and so much about them to reprove him, that he
left them without a word, and went off to a neighbouring city.

How passing strange is the effect of drunkenness upon the mind and
character of a man! Is it not wonderful how the tender,
affectionate, and provident husband and father can become so changed
into a worse than brutal insensibility to all the sacred duties of
life? Is it not wonderful how the man, who would, to-day, sacrifice
even life itself for the safety of his family--who thinks nothing of
toil, early and late, that he may provide for every want, can in a
few years forsake them, and leave them to struggle, single-handed,
with sickness and poverty? But so it is! Instances of such heartless
abandonment are familiar to every one. "Surely," as it has been
said, "strong drink is a devil!" For he that comes under its
influence is transformed into a worse than brutal nature.

For a time after Lee went away, his wife was enabled, by sewing, to
meet the scanty wants of herself and child. The burden of his
support had been removed, and that was something gained. But a
severe illness, during which both herself and little Jane suffered
much for the want of nourishing food, left her with impaired sight.
She could no longer, by sewing, earn the money required to buy food
and pay her rent, and was compelled to resort to severe bodily toil
to accomplish that end.

From several of the old friends of her better days, she had obtained
sewing, and necessity compelled her to resort to them for still
humbler employment.

"Good morning, Mrs. Lee! I have been wondering what in the world had
become of you," said one of those former friends, a Mrs. Walker, as
the poor woman called to see her, after her recovery.

"I have been very sick," replied Mrs. Lee, in a low feeble voice,
and her appearance told too plainly the effects of the sickness upon
her.

"I'm sorry to hear it. But I am very glad you are out again, for my
sewing is all behindhand."

"I'm afraid that I shall not be able to do any more sewing for a
good while," said Mrs. Lee, despondingly.

"Indeed! And why not?"

"Because my eyes have become so weak that I can scarcely see."

"Then what do you expect to do? How will you get along, Mrs. Lee?"

"I can hardly tell myself. But I must do something."

"What can you do besides sewing?"

"I don't know of any thing, unless I take in washing."

"Take in washing! You are not fit to stand at the washing tub."

"I know that, ma'am. But when we are driven to it, we can do a great
many things, even though we gradually fail under our task."

A pause of a few moments ensued, which was broken by Mrs. Lee.

"Will you not give me your washing to do, Mrs. Walker?" she asked,
hesitatingly.

"Why, I don't know about that, Mrs. Lee. I never put my washing out
of the house."

"You hire some one in the house, then?"

"Yes, and if you will come for what I pay my present washerwoman,
why I suppose I might as well throw it in your way."

"Oh yes, of course I will. How much do you give?"

"I give half a dollar a day. Can you come for that?"

"If you will let me bring my little girl along. I could not leave
her alone."

"I don't know about that," replied Mrs. Walker, musingly. "I have so
many children of my own about the house."

"She will not be at all troublesome, ma'am," the poor woman urged.

"Will she be willing to stay in the kitchen?"

"Oh yes, I will keep her there."

"Well, Mrs. Lee, I suppose I might as well engage you. But there is
one thing that I wish understood. The person that I hire to help do
the washing must scrub up the kitchen after the clothes are all out.
Are you willing to do that?"

"Oh yes, ma'am. I will do it," said Mrs. Lee, while her heart sank
within her at the idea of performing tasks for which her feeble
health and strength seemed altogether insufficient. But she felt
that she must put her hands to the work, if she died in the effort
to perform it.

Three days afterwards, she entered, as was agreed upon, at half a
dollar a day, the kitchen of Mrs. Walker, who had but a few years
before been one of her friends and companions.

It is remarkable, how persons of the most delicate constitutions
will sometimes bear up under the severest toil, and encounter the
most trying privations, and yet not fail, but really appear to gain
some degree of strength under the ordeal that it seemed, to all
human calculation, must destroy them.

So it was with Mrs. Lee. Although she suffered much from debility
and weariness, occasioned by excessive toil for one all unaccustomed
to hard labour, yet she did not, as she feared, sink rapidly under
it. By taking in as much washing and ironing as she could do, and
going out two days in the week regularly, she managed to procure for
herself and child the bare necessaries of life. This she had
continued for about two years at the time when first introduced to
the reader's attention, as returning with her child to her
comfortless home.

The slight movement near her door, which Mrs. Lee had thought to be
only an imaginary sound, was a reality. While little Jane spoke of
her father, and wondered at his absence, a man, comfortably clad in
coarse garments, stood near the door in a listening attitude. Once
or twice he laid his hand upon the latch, but each time withdrew it
and stood musing in seeming doubt. "Oh, I wish father would come
home!" fell upon his ear, in clear, distinct, earnest tones.

He did not hear the low reply, though he listened eagerly. Only for
a moment longer did he pause. Then swinging the door open, and
stepping in quickly, he said in an earnest voice, "And I have come
home at last, my child!--at last, my dear Alice! if you will let me
speak to you thus tenderly--never, never again to leave you!"

Poor Mrs. Lee started and turned pale as her husband entered thus
abruptly, and all unexpected. But she saw a change in him that was
not to be mistaken; and all her former love returned with
overwhelming tenderness. Still she restrained herself with a strong
effort, and said--

"Edward, how do you come?"

"As a sober man. As a true husband and father, I trust, to my wife
and child; to banish sorrow from their hearts, and wipe the tears
from their eyes. Will you receive me thus?"

He had but half finished, when Mrs. Lee sprang towards him, and fell
sobbing in his outstretched arms. She saw that he was in earnest,
she felt that he was in earnest, and once more a, gleam of sunshine
fell upon her heart.

Years have passed, and no cloud has yet dimmed the light that then
dawned upon the darkness of Mrs. Lee's painful lot. Her husband is
fast rising, by industry and intelligence, towards the condition in
life which he had previously occupied; and she is beginning again to
find herself in congenial associations. May the light of her
peaceful home never again grow dim.






GOING HOME.





"IT'S nearly a year, now, since I was home," said Lucy Gray to her
husband, "and so you must let me go for a few weeks."

They had been married some four or five years, and never had been
separated, during that time, for twenty-four hours at a time.

"I thought you called this your home," remarked Gray, looking up,
with a mock-serious air.

"I mean my old home," replied Lucy, in a half-affected tone of
anger. "Or, to make it plain, I want to go and see father and
mother."

"Can't you wait three or four months, until I can go with you?"
asked the young husband.

"I want to go now. You said all along that I should go in May."

"I know I did. But I thought I would be able to go with you."

"Well, why can't you go? I am sure you might, if you would."

"No, Lucy, I cannot possibly leave home now. But if you are very
anxious to see the old folks, I can put you into the stage, and you
will go safe enough. Ellen and I can take care of little Lucy, no
doubt. How long a time do you wish to spend with them?"

"About three weeks, or so."

"Very well, Lucy; if you are not afraid to go alone, I will not say
a word."

"I am not afraid, dear," said the wife, in a voice changed and
softened in its expression. "But are you perfectly willing to let me
go, Henry?"

"Oh, certainly," was the reply, although the tone in which the words
were uttered had something of reluctance in it. "It would be selfish
in me to say, no. Your father and mother will be delighted to
receive a visit just now."

"And you think that you and Ellen can get along with little Lucy?"

"Oh yes, very well."

"I should like to go, so much!"

"Go, then, by all means."

"But won't you be very lonesome without me?" suggested Lucy, in
whose own bosom a feeling of loneliness was already beginning to be
felt at the bare idea of a separation from her husband.

"I can stand it as long as you," was Gray's laughing reply to this.
"And then I shall have our dear little girl."

Lucy laughed in return, but did not feel as happy at the idea of
"going home" as she thought she would be, before her husband's
consent had been gained. The desire to go, however, remaining
strong, it was finally settled that the visit should be paid. So all
the preparations were entered upon, and in the course of a week
Henry Gray saw his wife take her seat in the stage, with a feeling
of regret at parting, which required all his efforts to conceal. As
for Lucy, when the moment of separation came, she regretted ever
having thought of going without her husband and child; but she was
ashamed to let her real feelings be known. So she kept up a show of
indifference, all the while that her heart was fluttering. The
"good-bye" was finally said, the driver cracked his whip, and off
rolled the stage. Gray turned homewards with a dull, lonely feeling,
and Lucy drew her veil over her face to conceal the unbidden tears
from her fellow-passengers.

That night, poor Mr. Gray slept but little. How could he? His Lucy
was absent, and, for the first time, from his side. On the next
morning, as he could think of nothing but his wife, he sat down and
wrote to her, telling her how lost and lonely he felt, and how much
little Lucy missed her, but still to try and enjoy herself, and by
all means to write him a letter by return mail.

As for Mrs. Gray, during her journey of two whole days, she cried
fully half of the time, and when she got "home" at last, that is, at
her father's, she looked the picture of distress, rather than the
daughter full of joy at meeting her parents.

Right glad were the old people to see their dear child, but grieved,
at the same time, and a little hurt, too, at her weakness and
evident regret at having left her husband, to make them a brief
visit. The real pleasure that Lucy felt at once more seeing the aces
of her parents, whom she tenderly loved, was lot strong enough to
subdue and keep in concealment, except for a very short period at a
time, her earning desire again to be with her husband, for whom she
never before experienced a feeling of such deep and earnest
affection. Several times, during the first day of her visit, did her
mother find her in tears, which she would quickly dash aside, and
then endeavour to smile and seem cheerful.

The day after her arrival brought her a letter--the first she had
ever received from her husband. How precious was every word! How
often and often did she read it over, until every line was engraven
on her memory! Then she sat down, and spent some two or three hours
in replying to it. As she sealed this first epistle to her husband,
full of tender expressions, she sighed, as the wish arose in her
mind, involuntarily, that she could only go with it its journey to
the village of----.

Long were the hours, and wearily passed, to Henry Gray. It was the
sixth day of trial before Lucy's answer came. How dear to his heart
was every word of her affectionate epistle! Like her, he went over
it so often, that every sentiment was fixed in his mind.

"Two weeks longer! How can I bear it?" he said, rising up, and
pacing the floor backwards and forwards, after reading her letter
for the tenth time. On the next day, the seventh of his lonely
state, Mr. Gray sat down to write again to Lucy. Several times he
wrote the words, as he proceeded in the letter--"Come home
soon,"--but as often obliterated them. He did not wish to appear
over-anxious for her return, on her father's and mother's account,
who were much attached to her. But, forgetting this reason for not
urging her early return, he had commenced again writing the words,
"Come home soon," when a pair of soft hands were suddenly placed
over his eyes, by some one who had stolen softly up behind him.

"Guess my name!" said a voice, in feigned tones.

Gray had no need to guess whose were the hands, for a sudden cry of
joy from a little toddling thing, told that "Mamma" had come.

How "Mamma" was hugged and kissed all round, need not here be told.
That scene was well enough in its place, but would lose its interest
in telling. It may be imagined, however, without suffering any
particular detriment, by all who have a fancy for such things.

"And father, too!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Gray, after he had almost
smothered his wife with kisses, looking up, with an expression of
pleasure and surprise, at an old man who stood looking on, with his
good-humoured face covered with smiles.

"Yes. I had to bring the good-for-nothing jade home," replied the
old man, advancing and grasping his son-in-law's hand, with a hearty
grip. "She did nothing but mope and cry all the while, and I don't
care if she never comes to see us again, unless she brings you along
to keep her in good-humour."

"And I never intend going alone again," Mrs. Gray said, holding a
little chubby girl to her bosom, while she kissed it over and over
again, at the same time that she pressed close up to her husband's
side.

The old man understood it all. He was not jealous of Lucy's
affection, for he knew that she loved him as tenderly as ever. He
was too glad to know that she was happy with a husband to whom she
was as the apple of his eye. In about three months Lucy made another
visit "home." But husband and child were along, this time, and the
visit proved a happy one all around. Of course, "father and mother"
had their jest and their laugh, and their affectation of jealousy
and anger at Lucy for her "childishness," as they termed it, when
home in May; but Lucy, though half-vexed at herself for what she
called a weakness, nevertheless persevered in saying that she never
meant to go anywhere again without Henry. "That was settled."





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