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Title: Hot corn: Life Scenes in New York Illustrated
Author: Robinson, Solon, 1803-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hot corn: Life Scenes in New York Illustrated" ***

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    [Illustration: HOT CORN, LIFE SCENES IN NEW YORK ILLUSTRATED.]



    HOT CORN:

    LIFE SCENES IN NEW YORK ILLUSTRATED.


    INCLUDING

    THE STORY OF LITTLE KATY,

    MADALINA, THE RAG-PICKER'S DAUGHTER,

    WILD MAGGIE, &c.


    WITH ORIGINAL DESIGNS, ENGRAVED BY N. ORR.

    BY SOLON ROBINSON.

    "Bid that welcome
    Which comes to punish us."

    "A beggar's book outworth's a noble's blood."

    "Of every inordinate cup beware,
    Or drink, and with it misery share."

       *       *       *       *       *

    NEW YORK:
    DE WITT AND DAVENPORT, PUBLISHERS,
    160 & 162 NASSAU STREET.
    1854.


    ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by DE
    WITT & DAVENPORT, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court
    for the Southern District of New-York

       *       *       *       *       *

    W. H. TINSON, Stereotyper, &c.,
    22 Spruce Street, New York.

    R. CRAIGHEAD, PRINTER,
    53 Vesey St, N. Y.


    TO

    HORACE GREELEY,

    AND HIS CO-LABORERS,

    EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE;

    The Friends of the Working Man; The Advocates of Lifting up poor
    trodden-down Humanity; The Ardent Supporters of, and Earnest
    Advocates for the Maine Law; The Wishers for Better Rewards for
    Woman's Labor, And All Honest Industry,

    This Volume is

    RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
    BY YOUR FRIEND AND FELLOW WORKER,

    THE AUTHOR.



INTRODUCTION.


The growing taste for works of this kind--works intended to promote
temperance and virtue, to lift up the lowly, to expose to open day the
the poor in this city--has induced the Publishers to offer liberal
inducements to the author to use his powerful pen, and words of fire, to
depict his "Life Scenes," and embody them in a volume, which, we are
satisfied, will prove one of the most acceptable to the moral portion of
the community, ever published. It is a work of high tone, that must do
good. The peculiar style of the author is as original as the tales of
truth which he narrates. It is unlike that of any other author, and
every page is full of fresh interest and thrilling narrative.

As a temperance tale, it has no equal. As such, we hope it may prove but
the commencement of a series. As an exposé of life among the poor in
this city, it will be read with deep and abiding interest, in all parts
of this country. It is a work for the fireside of every family; a book
that commends itself to the heart.

No one who has read the "HOT CORN STORIES," as they appeared in the
_Tribune_, but will rejoice to have the opportunity to possess them, and
many more like them, all complete and connected, in one handsome volume,
such as we now offer.

To a moral and religious public; to all who would promote temperance;
to all who would rather see virtue than vice abound; to all who have a
heart to feel for other's woes; to all who would have their hearts
touched with sympathy for the afflictions of their fellow creatures,
"Life Scenes," as depicted in this volume, are respectfully commended,
by

    THE PUBLISHERS.



AUTHOR'S PREFACE.


"Oh, pshaw," says pretty Miss Impulsive, "I hate prefaces." So do I.
Nobody reads them; that is, nobody but a few old fellows with
spectacles. I would not write one, only that some folks think a book
looks not well without. Well, then, I have written a great deal in my
life--travels, tales, songs, temperance stories, some politics, a good
deal upon agriculture, much truth, and some fiction, always in the
newspapers, never before in a book. I know that many, very many, have
read what I have written with pleasure, or else "this world is awfully
given to lying," for they have said so. Will they read my _book_? That
we shall see. If they do, they must not criticise too closely. Remember
that some of the most thrilling sketches were written amid the daily
scenes and avocations of a city editor's office, for the paper in which
they first appeared, without any thought or design on the part of the
author of making a book;--that was the thought of the publishers. They
read the first sketches, and judged, we hope rightly, if enlarged and
embodied in a neat volume, it would be appreciated as one of the best
efforts, in this book-making age, to do good.

If they have judged rightly,--if it _does_ have that effect,--if the
public _do_ appreciate the volume as they often have my fugitive
effusions,--then shall I be rewarded, and they may rest assured,
whenever they buy a volume, that a portion of the purchase money will go
to ameliorate the condition of the poor, such as you will become
acquainted with, if you follow me in my walks through the city, as
depicted in this volume, which I offer most hopingly to all who do not
know, and most trustingly to all who do know him, who has so often
signed himself

    Your old friend,

    SOLON ROBINSON.

    NEW YORK, _November_, 1853.



CONTENTS.


    CHAPTER I.

    Scenes in Broadway
    First Appearance of Hot Corn
    Sally Eaton--Julia Antrim
    Drunken Man Killed by an Omnibus
    Bill Eaton sent to the Hospital
    The Fire--Mrs. Eaton's House Burned
    Three Golden Words


    CHAPTER II.

    Hot Corn--First Interview with Little Katy
    A Shilling's Worth of Happiness
    A Watch-word


    CHAPTER III.

    Wild Maggie
    The Five Points--Dens where Human Beings Live
    Wild Maggie's Home
    The House of Industry--Commencement of the Ragged School
    The Rat-hole--The Temperance Meeting--The Pledge--'Tis Done
    Jim Reagan--Tom Nolan--His Temperance Address
    Ring-nosed Bill--Snaky Jo
    The Pledge and a Kiss


    CHAPTER IV.

    The Temptation--The Fall--James Reagan after the Pledge
    The Conspiracy at Cale Jones's Grocery
    Tom Top--Snaky Jo--Ring-nosed Bill--Old Angeline
    Reagan Rescued by Maggie
    His Second Fall
    Tom Finds and Feeds Him
    His Second Visit to the Temperance Meeting


    CHAPTER V.

    The Two-Penny Marriage--Thomas Elting


    CHAPTER VI.

    The Home of Little Katy
    A Sad Tale and its Termination--"Will he come?"


    CHAPTER VII.

    Wild Maggie's Mother
    Wild Maggie's Father
    Wild Maggie's Letter
    Death and his Victim
    Greenwood, and the Rose planted by a new-made Grave


    CHAPTER VIII.

    Athalia, the Sewing Girl
    The Morgans
    Athalia's Song
    Her Home--Jeannette
    The Blow and its Results
    Charley Vail and Walter Morgan


    CHAPTER IX.

    The Trip to Lake George--Preparation--A New Bonnet
    One Bottle too many, and the Catastrophe
    Marriage and Death
    Where Shall the Dead find Rest?
    Going "To Get a Drink"


    CHAPTER X.

    Walter Morgan and Wife--Charley Vail and Wife
    Going to Savannah
    The Ten Dollar Bill
    Seeing is Believing
    Athalia Homeless and Friendless


    CHAPTER XI.

    Life at the Five Points--Madalina, the Rag-Picker's Daughter
    Cow Bay and its Inhabitants
    Tom and the Glass of Cold Water
    "I never Kiss any but those I Love"
    "Our Trade," said the Fiend
    Pocket-picking
    The Poor-House Hearse


    CHAPTER XII.

    Athalia, and the Home she found
    Mrs. Laylor--Nannette
    The Arts of Deception
    Frank Barkley


    CHAPTER XIII.

    The Little Peddler
    The Exchange--Money for Rum, Health for Misery
    Mr. Lovetree
    Stella May
    Savage, Civilized, and Christian Nature
    A Walk up Broadway
    Mysterious Disappearance
    The Legless Flower-seller
    Visit to a Suspicious House
    Agnes Brentnall and the Negro Wood-sawyer
    Phebe and her Bible
    A Girl Lost
    Stella May and her Mother
    The Will


    CHAPTER XIV.

    New Scenes and New Characters
    Mrs. McTravers
    Visit to the Five Points
    The Home of Little Katy deserted
    Mrs. De Vrai--Who is she?
    A Woman Drunk in the Street


    CHAPTER XV.

    Little Katy's Mother.
    De Vrai, and a Night Scene


    CHAPTER XVI.

    Agnes Brentnall
    Spirit Mediums
    How Agnes was Deceived


    CHAPTER XVII.

    The Intelligence Office
    Agnes' Story
    Mr. Lovetree's Story
    Agnes finds her Mother
    Mrs. De Vrai's Story
    Song--Will he Come?
    A Death-bed Appeal


    CHAPTER XVIII.

    Julia Antrim and other Old Acquaintances
    The Penitentiary--the Visit to Mrs. May
    Stella May in her New Home
    Julia Antrim's Story
    Names and Characters for Life Scenes
    Invitation to a Party
    Going to be Married
    Visit to Mrs. De Vrai--Mrs. Meltrand--Agnes and Adaleta


    CHAPTER THE LAST.

    "She is Gone, Sir!"
    The Death-bed--Little Sissee
    The Wedding Party at Mrs. Morgan's
    Who is the Bride?--The Double Marriage
    Greenwood Cemetery--the Grave
    "'Tis the Last of Earth"
    "Will he Come?"
    In the Dark Grave Sleeping--a Poem
    A Voice from the Grave--a Poem
    The Last Word



HOT CORN.

LIFE SCENES IN NEW YORK ILLUSTRATED.



CHAPTER I.

OUR TITLE.--THE STORY.

     "How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature."


"It is a queer title for a book; what can it mean?" is the exclamation
of those who open it for the first time.

Visit this city--walk with me from nine o'clock till midnight, through
the streets of New York, in the month of August, then read the first
interview of the author with little Katy, the Hot Corn girl, and the
story of her life, and you will not ask, "What does it mean?" But you
may ask, what does it mean that I see so many squalid-looking women, so
many tender children, so many boys, who with well directed labor might
work their way to fortune; or crippled men, sitting upon the stone steps
along the street crying, "Hot corn! here's your nice hot corn--smoking
hot, smoking hot, just from the pot!" Your heart, if it has not grown
callous, will be pained as mine has been at the sights of misery you
will meet with, and you will then exclaim, "What does it mean that I see
these things in the very heart of this great commercial city, where
wealth, luxury, extravagance, all abound in such profusion? Surely the
condition of the people, the ways and wants of the poor, cannot be
known, or they would be improved. Why does not somebody write a book
illustrating these 'Life Scenes in New York,' whose every page shall be
a cry, startling as this of 'Hot corn, hot corn!' now pealing in the
midnight air?"

So thought I; and so straightway set about the work, with ample material
at hand, and more accumulating at every step. In writing a book, the
first thought of the author is, what shall be my title? What better
could I have than HOT CORN, since that was the inciting cry that waked
my pen to action, to paint these life scenes in vivid pictures, for the
world to look at and improve?

If, in my daily walks and midnight rambles, I have seen revolting
sights, the details of which are harrowing to your soul as you read, so
much the more need that they be opened to your view. Wounds must be seen
to be healed. Old sores are often pronounced incurable, simply because
they are old.

First, strip off their dirty covering, then probe and wash, and then
apply the healing balsam. If not already gangrened from long neglect,
you may save the patient's life, and at all events, ease his suffering,
and smooth his road to the grave.

Be mine the task to strip and expose, and yours to wash and heal.

Of just such life scenes as I depict, there are enough transpiring every
night to fill a volume.

Come, walk with me, of an August evening, from the Battery to Union
Square, and you shall see all the characters of a romance.

'Tis concert night at Castle Garden. Stand here a short half hour, and
look at the gay and smiling throng. There is material for many a tale.

Three thousand robes of fine cloth, silks, gauze, and lace, pass the
Battery gates in one night, fluttering to the open sea breeze, without
one thought from those who wear them for the poor little girl that sits
shivering by the path, crying hot corn, or vainly striving to beg one
penny from the overflowing purses that freely give dollars for
amusement, and less than nothing to misery, or for its annihilation.
Little do they think that this child has a mother at home, who once
counted one in just such a thoughtless throng.

Here might a chapter be written, but let us on; we shall find plenty of
subjects. If we stop to write the history of that little girl and her
mother, we shall fill our book before we start.

The Philadelphia boat has just landed her passengers at Pier No. 1.,
North River, and the crowd are coming up Battery Place. Here is a
picture of American character. Every one is pushing forward as though
there was but one bed left in the city, and to obtain that he intended
to outstride and overreach all his fellow travellers. Take care, little
hot corn girl, or you will be run over, and your store trampled
under-foot. Bitter tears for your loss will run down your hollow
cheeks, but they will gain you no sympathy. The only answer that you
will get, will be, "Why didn't you get out of the way, you little dirty
brat--good enough for you." Yes, good enough for you, that you have lost
your entire stock of merchandize; what business had you in the way of
commerce, or path of pleasure?

"But, sir," says benevolence in a drab bonnet, "you have hurt the
child."

"What if I have? She has no business in the way. She is nothing but a
hot corn girl; they are no better than beggars and often are little
thieves. Why don't she stay at home?" Sure enough. Simply because
necessity or cruelty drives her into the street. Now your cruelty will
drive her home to be beaten by a drunken father, for your act of wanton
carelessness.

Stand aside, my little sufferer, or you will be run over again. Here
comes a little dark skinned, black-eyed, black-haired man, with life and
death in his very step.

What magic power impels him forward. He is a Jew--a dealer in
second-hand clothes. Surely his business cannot be so important that he
need to upset little children, or step on the gouty toes of slow-going
old gentlemen, in his hurry to get forward.

It is Friday night, his Sabbath has already commenced, he can do no
business--make no monish--to-night. He is not in a hurry to reach the
synagogue, that is closed, what then? He has a Christian partner, and he
wants to arrange a little speculation for to-morrow. He has just
received information of a shipment of yellow fever patients' clothing,
which will arrive to-morrow or Sunday, and he wants his Christian
partner to look out on Saturday; on Sunday, the Jew will watch the
chance to buy the infected rags, which both will sell on Monday at a
hundred per cent profit.

"What, at the risk of human life? Oh, I can believe that of a Jew, but
certainly no Christian would do it."

There spoke the Christian reader. The Jew will say the same, only
reversing the character. No good Christian or Jew either will do it; yet
it will be done, and little beggar girls will be run over in the hot
haste to meet the coming ship.

Walk on. The side-walks are crowded, and the street between the
curb-stones full of great lumbering omnibuses and carriages, that go up
and down all night for hire; but there is a melancholy stillness in all
the houses where wealth and fashion, in our young days, lived in
lamp-lighted parlors, and diamonds flashed down upon the listener to
music which had its home in these gay dwellings, where happy looking
faces were seen through open windows. Iron shutters close them now, and
commerce wears a dark frown by gas light.

On the right is Wall street, where fortunes are made and lost as by the
turn of a card, or rattle of a dice box. It is very thronged at noon
day. It is very dull now. A few watchmen tread slowly around the great
banking houses, working for a dollar a night to eke out a poorly paid
day, by guarding treasures that the owners would not watch all the live
long night for all the watchman is worth. But he must watch and work; he
has a sick wife at home, and four little girls are growing up to
womanhood and city life. God knows for what!

A few express wagons, and more of these ever-going ever-coming
omnibuses, are coming out of Wall street to join the great Broadway
throng. And a pale-faced little girl sits upon the steps of the Bank of
the Republic, adding to that constant cry, "Hot corn! Hot corn!" Now
here comes the Cerberus of this money palace. What possible harm to his
treasures, can this little poverty-clad girl and her sickly looking
little beggar boy brother do, sitting here upon the cold grey, stone
steps, with an appealing look to every passer-by to give a penny or buy
an ear of corn. Does he think they are merely using their trade to plot
mischief and schemes to rob his vaults of their stores of gold? One
would judge so by the way he growls at them.

"Clear out, you dirty brats--away with you, lousy beggars--home to your
kennel, young thieves. Don't come on these steps again, or I will throw
your corn in the gutter."

Are these the words to work reform? They are such as fall every day and
night upon the ear of just such specimens of the young sprouts of
humanity, that vegetate and grow a brief summer in the city, dying in
some of the chill winters of neglect, that come over their tender years,
blighting, freezing, killing. How little of the gold, Cerberus guards,
would serve to warm these two young children into useful life. How
little those who guard or use it, care for those they drive unfeelingly
away from their door steps--for what? They have made it a place of
convenience for their nightly trade. Tired of walking, carrying a heavy
pail between them--heavy to them--it would be light, and were it all
gold, compared with that within--they have sat themselves down, and just
uttered one brief cry of "Hot corn, here's your nice hot corn!" when
they are roughly ordered to "clear out, you dirty brats." Yes, they are
dirty, poor, and miserable, children of a drunken father--who made them
so? No matter. They are so, and little has that gold done to make them
otherwise.

"Clear out--get off these steps, or I will kick you off."

They did so, and went over to the other side of Broadway, and clung to
that strong iron fence, and looked up three hundred feet along that
spire which points to heaven from Trinity church. Did they think of the
half million of dollars there piled up, to tell the world of the wealth
of New York city? No, they thought of the poor, wretched room, to them
their only home, a little way down Rector street, scarcely a stone's
throw from this great pile, in a house, owned and rented to its poor
occupants by that great land monopoly, the Rectory of this great church.

"Bill," says the girl, "do you see that gal? how fine she is tittivated
up. Don't she look like a lady? I know who she is, Bill. Do you think
when I gets a little bigger, the old woman is going to keep me in the
street all day and half the night, peddling peanuts and selling hot
corn? No, sir-ee. I will dress as fine as she does, and go to balls and
theatres, and have good suppers and wine, at Taylor's, and lay a-bed
next day just as long as I please. Why not? I am as good-looking, if I
was dressed up, as she is."

"Why, Sal, how will you do that? You ha'n't got no good clothes, and
mother ha'n't got none, and if she had, she wouldn't give 'em to ye."

"I don't care, I know how to get them. I know the woman that owns every
rag that street gal has got on her back."

"Them ain't rags, them's silk, and just as good dress as them opera gals
had on, that went stringing along down Broadway a while ago. I don't see
how you can get sich, 'less you prig 'em. I'd do that if I had a chance,
blessed quick. How'd she get 'em, Sal?"

"I knows, and that's 'nuff."

Why should she not know? She had been to school long enough to learn,
and would be a very inapt scholar if she had not learned some of the
ways of the street, in thirteen years. In thirteen years more she will
be a fit subject to excite the care of the Moral Reform Society, or
become the inmate of a Mary Magdalene asylum; perchance, of Randall's
Island.

There is a history about these two children and their parents, which you
may read by and by. We cannot stop, now. Let us walk on. Iron
shutters--bolted, barred, and strong locked doors, what piles of
treasure lie just within.

At Maiden lane on the right, and Courtlandt street on the left, more
omnibuses come up, crowding their way into an already overfull
"Broadway."

Oh! what a scream. It is a woman's scream. A cry of anguish--of horror,
that chills the blood. It comes from the apple woman at the corner, and
yet she is not hurt. No one is near her, the crowd is rushing to the
centre of the street. What for? An omnibus has run over a drunken man.
This is always enough to excite the sympathy of woman, and make her cry
out as with pain. It is pain, the worst of pain; it comes from a blow
upon the heart; worse than that, in this case, for the man is her
husband. He has just left her, where he has been tormenting her for an
hour, begging, coaxing, pleading, promising, that if she would give him
one shilling, he would go directly home and go to bed, as soon as he got
something to eat. "Something to drink." No. Upon his word, he would not
touch another drop the blessed night. She well knew the value of such
promises. She well knew that the corner grocery, where he would stop to
buy the loaf of bread, which he promised to share with the two children,
kept a row of glistening glasses and decanters upon the same shelf with
the loaves. "The staff of life," and life's destroyer, side by side. She
knew his appetite--she knew the temptation to which he would be
subjected, she knew he could not resist, she knew the vampire who dealt
in life and death, would suck up that shilling, if with it came the
heart's blood of him, her, and their two children. She knew her husband,
he could not resist the temptation. Once sober and he could keep so, if
the means of intoxication were kept out of his sight. Once drunk and he
would keep so, as long as he could obtain a shilling to pay for the
poison. His last resource was to beg from his wife's scanty profits, by
which she mainly supported the family, who often went supperless to bed,
for the rent must be paid. Landlords are inexorable. Hers was worth so
many millions that the income was a source of great care, how it should
be disposed of. Her rent was coming due, and every shilling looked to
her of tenfold value to-night. Her children are in the street, filling
the night air with an appealing cry, "Hot corn, hot corn, who'll buy my
nice hot corn?" Her husband was begging for one more shilling to
waste--worse than waste--to close an ill-spent day. Oh, what a contrast
between this and their wedding day!

She resisted his importunity until he found 'twas no avail, and then he
swore he would upset her little store in the gutter, if she did not give
him the money. What could she do? She would not call an officer to take
him away. No, she could not do that, he was her husband. She could not
resist him, could not have an altercation in the street, that would draw
an idle crowd around her, spoil her trade, and worse than that, let the
world know that this bloated, ill-looking, miserable remnant of a man,
was her husband. Shame did what persuasion or fear could not: she gave
him the shilling, and he started to cross the crowded street. He heeded
little of danger--he had often crossed when more drunk than now--he
heeded not the tripartite crush of carriages coming up and going down
these streets, all meeting in a sort of vortex at that point. He heard,
or heeded not, the drivers, "hi, hi, hi, get out of the way, you drunken
son of a----," and down he went among the horses' clattering feet, upon
the slippery stones, and the wheels passed over him, crushing
bones--human bones, and mangling flesh, and mixing human blood with
street dirt.

The omnibuses turned aside, the passengers shuddered as the poor wretch
was lifted up, covered with blood and dirt, and inquired, "Is he dead?"
The drivers looked down coolly from their high seats, with a consoling
remark, that, "it's nothing but a drunken man," yet, that drunken man
was that woman's husband; him who, fourteen years ago, walked the
streets as well dressed, as proud, as sober as any in the crowd who now
gaze carelessly upon his bruised form, and hear the remark, that he, "is
nothing but a drunken man."

Fourteen years ago--yes, this very night--that woman walked this very
street, arm in arm, with that man, and heard him, for the first time,
call her wife. It was a happy time then, and "all was merry as the
marriage bell." Little thought they then--less thought they a year
afterwards, while rocking the cradle in their own happy home, that the
time would come when he would raise his hand in anger to strike that
loving wife, or that child would be driven, with kicks and curses, into
the streets, or that he would lie bleeding upon the pavement he had so
often and so proudly trod before, a poor mangled drunkard.

Oh how those words--joyous words--first rung in that happy mother's
ears, when the proud father said:--

"Have you got a baby?"

"Yes, Willie, _we_ have got a baby."

How these words have rung like electric sparks through many a happy
heart.

"Have you got a baby?" said a little girl to a gentleman riding out of
Boston. It was a queer question, arising as it did from a child he
overtook on the road. How his city friends would have laughed at him if
they had heard the question--"Have you got a baby?" No he had got no
baby, yet he was a man full forty years of age, and looked as though he
might have been a father, and so thought the little girl. Yet he had no
baby. Why? He was a bachelor! So he had to answer, "no, my pretty miss,
I have got no baby." "Oh la, haven't you? Well _we_ have. We have got a
baby at _our_ house!!"

This was not interesting to a bachelor. How different it would have been
if he had married Lucy Smith, whom he intended to a dozen years ago, but
he was too busy then--too intent upon making money enough, to support a
wife before he got one. Nonsense! How little he knew of the sweet music
of the words, "have you got a baby?" How her heart would have leaped up
and choked her utterance if she had now been riding by his side as his
wife, instead of his "old flame," Lucy Smith! Lucy Smith, still, for she
had never heard those words touchingly applied to her, "have you got a
baby?" nor had she ever heard a sweet little girl say of her, "we have
got a baby at our house!"

How many a mother's heart has leapt for joy, at that question, when she
could answer it, "Yes, I _have_ got a baby!" How many a father's
heart will be touched with emotion when he reads, "Have you got a baby?"
for he will think as I do, of a time when, returning from a long
journey, he meets just such a little cherub of a girl at his own gate,
who does not stop to ask him how he does, nor climb his knee for the
accustomed kiss, so exuberant is her joy--so anxious is she to possess
him with the secret that wells up and fills her very existence to
overflowing, so that she must speak or burst, and hence she watches for
Papa, and runs out to meet him at the gate with such a smile--such a
joyous, glorious smile, and cry of "Oh, Papa, we have got a baby!!" How
many a mother's heart will swell and throb, and how the warm
tears--tears of joy and gladness--will flow as she hears that husband's
footstep approach, for she knows he will say, "_Have_ you got a baby?"

But there is no such joy now for that mother's heart. Yet that is the
same father--fallen, trampled, dying, and she rushes to the rescue.

Two police officers bear him to the side-walk and lift him, lifeless as
he is, upon a hand-cart. How the idle crowd push and jostle each other
to get a sight of the wounded man. What for? To administer to his wants;
to give, if need be, something to minister to his relief? No. To gratify
curiosity--morbid, idle curiosity.

How this woman pushes and struggles to break the circle, crying, "Let me
in, let me in; let me see him." How little the crowd heed her. They
think it is curiosity, too, nothing but curiosity, that impels her, as
it does themselves.

Why don't she say, "It is my husband?" and then they would give her
room, or the officers would make them. Why! why don't she say it? She is
ashamed to tell unfeeling hearts how low she has been sunk in the world
since first she called that man by that name, or heard those
heart-touching words when their first child was born.

Husband was a sweet word once; it is a bitter one now; yet it must be
spoken, for they are about to bear him away to the hospital. Whether
dead or alive she knows not, and she rushes madly forward, seizing the
policeman, with a cry of, "No, no; not there, not there; take him home,
I will take care of him--nobody can take care of him so well as I can.
Oh, let me take him home! Do let me take him home." What could she do
with him in her one room, the home of herself and children. She could
not stay to nurse him day after day, for then her trade would be lost;
somebody else would take her stand; there would be no income, all would
be outgo, and all would soon be exhausted; nothing to buy bread, nothing
to pay rent, and then out must go the whole, sick or well; they must go
in the street if they fail to meet that dreaded periodical--the rent
day. There is no help for it. All this is hastily considered, and there
is no other way; he must go to the hospital. 'Tis a blessed
institution--a noble honor to the city, charitably sustained, to give
relief to--who? A thousand just such subjects as this; made drunk,
covered with gore, maimed with broken limbs, by a legalized traffic in
hell's best aid on earth. A trade that fills jails, thieves-dens, and
brothels, and furnishes subjects like this for hospitals.

"He must go to the hospital."

"Then I will follow and nurse him there."

There spoke the wife, as, ever since that holy name was known, the wife
has spoken--can speak alone.

How can she go?

Something clings to her dress and pulls her back. She looks around upon
a little boy and girl--it is the hot corn girl, just driven from the
banking-house steps three squares below.

"Mother, mother, do speak to us; it is Bill and me. Is father dead? What
killed him?"

Rum! She did not say so. She only thought. She thought, too, of her
helpless children, and what would they do if she went to take care of
their father. She did not think of the blows, the kicks, and cuffs, and
curses, received from him during long bitter years, for they were given
by--not by him--not by her husband--but by the demon in him--the devil
engendered by rum. She thought nothing of the cruel neglect and poverty
and suffering of herself and children, for that was a sequence of the
other. She did think of this night, fourteen years ago. She did think of
the night when this girl, now clinging to her dress and convulsively
crying, "Mother, is he dead," was born, for then she was a happy wife
and mother. Then that father took that child in his arms and kissed and
blessed it--then he took her in his arms and kissed and loved her, and
called her his dear wife. She did not think of the night when that
little slender boy, now ten years old, was born, for then a devil--not a
husband--dragged her by the hair, while in labor, from her poor cot,
and bid her go out in the pitiless storm to fill his bottle for him. No,
she did not remember that; she only remembered that he was her husband;
wounded, dying husband, in need of some kind hand to make his bed and
smooth his passage to the grave, and she would leave all without a
thought to follow him to the hospital. She was his wife. Now there is a
struggle between duty and affection--between husband and children. She
cannot go with both. One must be neglected; which shall it be? Had the
husband been what he was when that girl was born, the heart of many a
wife would give the ready answer. She looked upon her and remembered the
time when she first heard these words, "Have you got a baby?" She looked
upon her, and all intervening time faded from memory, and she thought
and felt as she would have felt if he had been struck down that night.
She tears herself away from the grasp of the little girl, telling her to
pick up the apples and go home, she must go with father.

Another hand clings to her dress, and looks up with such an appealing
look and says:--

"Don't go, mother; they will take care of father. Don't leave us."

She looked upon her sickly boy, and thought of the night he was born.
Why does she start and turn round? Did some one pull her by the hair?
No, it was only fancy. A sort of magnetic influence, linked with
thought. That twinge decided her. That twinge decided his fate, and
saved her children's lives. She went home with them, and tired nature
slept in spite of mental agony. At four o'clock the bells rung for fire;
it was long before she could wake sufficiently to count the eight
strokes which told it was in her district. Dreamily unconscious of
danger, she moves not till she hears a crash and sees a light through
the small rear window, when she springs up, opens the door, looks out in
the direction of the stairs, and meets a burst of flame and smoke coming
up. Back, back to the bed, closing the door--a thin pine door--the only
barrier between the fire and her sleeping babes, she drags them out and
up to the window. Will she throw them down upon the pavement below, as
the only hope of saving their lives, for the fire is fairly up the
stairs and rattling at the door behind her? If it enters all is lost.
The window is opened, and the little boy first--he is the
darling--poised upon the sill, in the bewildered amazement of
half-awaking consciousness.

"Oh mother, mother, don't throw me out! I will be a good boy, mother. I
never will tear my jacket again. Indeed I could not help it. It was a
big boy that pulled me. Oh, mother, mother, don't, pray don't."

He screams with fear, as he hangs convulsively upon his mother's neck,
and looks down upon the gathering crowd, crying, "Throw him out, throw
him out; we will catch him." And a hundred hands are outstretched, a
hundred noble hearts would prostrate themselves upon the pavement to
save, to break the fall of a beggar boy whom they would have kicked out
of their path the day before. Now a mother appeals to her fellow men to
save her child. She had oft appealed before, but then the house was not
on fire; the fire was in his father's mouth--and that they heeded not.
No bells rung, to call the engines with copious streams of water to put
it out--they are ringing now. And now see the outstretched hands, each
ready to risk its own life to save that of a child.

[Illustration: THE NEW-YORK FIREMAN.--_Page 30._]

"Let him go--throw him out--you will all burn up in five minutes
more--this old wooden house burns like tinder."

She looks behind her; the flame is sending serpent tongues under the
door. Her dress upon a chair is on fire--now the bed. They must jump,
naked too, down among those men, or die.

"Hold on! hold on! Way there--give way there. Hurrah, men! lively now!"

Oh, that was a sight for that mother and her two children. A ladder
company thundered down the street with their cry of "Way there!" for
they have caught the sight of a woman and children in distress; and oh!
how they do press forward, shouting, "Way there! lively now! Hold on, we
will save you!" How quick, after they reach the spot, a ladder is
loosened and off the carriage, with one end on the ground and the other
going up, up--"Up with her now!" and so they do. Before it has found a
resting-place, a man, active as a cat, is halfway up. Now he is at the
top; now--hurrah!--how the shouts rend the air, for he has the boy in
one arm and the girl in the other, and tells the mother to follow. She
hesitates. What for? The noble fireman sees at a glance, stops a moment,
pulls off his coat and throws it to her--"now"--down they go--now they
are safe. Safe with life--not a thing else on earth but her two
fatherless children, her only covering a fireman's coat. Where is her
husband now? Where he will never see them again; for while his attendant
slept he tore the bandages from his wound, and then slept himself--a
sleep that one voice alone will awaken. Judge him not harshly; he was
the victim, not the criminal. He is dead now, tread lightly upon his
grave.

Look to his wife and children. It is they who need your sympathy. Raised
in the worst school on earth--the streets of this city, some of the Life
Scenes of which I aim to depict--the boy has already learned to "prig;"
and, so he shared the proceeds with his father--that father, or rather
the monster who made him a devil, would encourage the boy to be a thief.
What could the mother do to counteract such deleterious influence? All
day she must stand at her corner, selling fruit, pea-nuts, and candy, to
make bread to feed her else starving offspring, and to keep her husband
out of the prison or alms-house.

You have already seen the effect of the street education upon Sally; the
sight of her playmate, Julia Antrim, dressed in silks and laces,
although borrowed--no, furnished, by "the woman," on hire, for a purpose
more wicked than murder, for murder only kills the body--has already
tempted her towards the same road--to that broad path to woe; not in the
future, but here present with us every day; and she has already
determined that she will follow it as soon as "she gets big enough."

Who shall rescue her?

The danger is still more imminent now. Houseless, naked, starving in the
street, how shall she live? One step, one resolution, will take her to
the clothes-lending harpy, who fattens upon the life-blood of young
girls, whom she dooms to the fate of Ixion for the remainder of their
lives; for her garments are the shirts of Nessus to all who wear them.

She feels that she _is_ big enough now--big enough to begin. Younger
girls than her are night-walkers. Julia is no older, and but little
bigger, and she has often stopped in her walk to eat hot corn or
pea-nuts with Sally, and show her shining gold, trying to tempt her to
go and do likewise. She has an interest, too, in the temptation, for she
has told Mrs. Brown of her old playmate, Sally Eaton, and how
good-looking she was; and Mrs. Brown has been to see her, has bought her
merchandise, and spoken words of soul-trapping flattery, and promised
Julia a present of a new silk dress--that is, just as good as new, it
had just been bought by a girl whom she turned out of doors because she
could not pay her way--if she will coax Sally to come and live with her.

And so she has been sorely tempted. Eve was so, and fell.

These tempting words are now running through the brain of Sally, as she
stands in the crowd, wrapt in a blanket, kindly lent her, with her
mother and little Willie, looking at their home and every earthly thing
going up in flame and smoke heavenward. Her mother weeps, for the first
time in long years. Long, long, had she steeled her heart against such
indulgence; its pent up fountains burst now. Not for grief; no, they
were tears, such as she shed when that girl was born. How she cried,
and thanked God, and pressed the hand of the fireman and thanked him for
saving her children's lives, dearer to her than all her household goods.

How little he thought of the noble act. He almost repulsed her and her
gratitude.

"There, that'll do, old woman. You had better be getting in somewhere."

Somewhere! Yes, somewhere! Where?

That is the question. The crowd shout at the heroic deeds of the
firemen, and would carry them in triumph through the streets, or bring
out baskets of champaigne to drink libations to their honor, for saving
two helpless children from the flames. Saved for what? To stand naked in
the street! No. Let them go to their friends. They have none. Yes, they
have, but not relatives. A few dollars are put into the mother's hand,
but who will take her in? who will give her a home? One that three years
ago had no home himself. One who had been more drunken than Bill
Eaton--had been drunk for forty years. He is sober now--you shall hear
directly how he became so.

A man advanced in years, say more than half a century, followed by a
tall, fine-formed, well-dressed, bright-eyed girl, about one-third her
father's age, press through the crowd to where the widow and her
children stand, take them by the hand and lead on, with the simple
words, "Come with us."

It needs but few such words, spoken in such kind tones, to the afflicted
to lead them into paths of peace, and hope, and joy.

The mother went forward with a sort of mechanical motion of the limbs,
unaided by any impulse of the mind. Willie followed, as the lamb follows
the ewe, whether to green fields or the butcher's shambles.

Sally was more independent. She was on the point of being entirely so,
but a moment before. Now she clung to her girlish companion, as the
wrecked mariner to hope. Had hope come one minute later, she had been
led by the tempter that was gnawing at her heart-strings, to slip away
from her mother, and in one hour afterwards, she would have been
knocking at the ever-ready-to-open door of Mrs. Brown, and once passing
that threshold, woe, woe, woe, had been written upon every page of her
life. Once having passed that door, every other but its like had been
closed against her for ever. For the sin of entering that door, in her
young years, the world would never forgive her. No matter, that gaudily
dressed and luxuriously fed tempters had beset her and led her in. Such
tempters--such school teachers for city children are allowed to
monopolise the Broadway sidewalks, and hold their infant evening
schools, if not by authority of the common council, at least by
permission and countenance of the chief of police and all his "stars."
No Proserpine can walk this street at night alone, without meeting, or
at least subjecting herself to, the sad fate of Proserpine of old.

Few of those we meet in our late walks, are Proserpines or Vestas;
although they may be goddesses of fire.

Seek not to lift the veil, you will find Pandora there; Blame not the
girl who got her teachings in such a street, if, in her deep adversity
she was tempted--tempted to leave that mother and brother, and slip away
in the crowd, to go where she knew she would find a home. Where else
should she go? She knew of none. No one of all that crowd offered to
take her home with him. She had no hope. She was a fit subject for
despair, and despair is the father of temptation. What a blessed thing
is hope, charity, and a will to do good; when it flows from one young
girl to another!

But who is it says, "come with us?" The voice seemed familiar, and yet
not familiar to Sally's ear. If the person had been clothed in such a
garb of poverty as she herself had always worn, she would have known
her, although it was three years since they had met. She was not; she
wore a neat tidy calico frock, and clean white sun-bonnet, hastily put
on, and altogether looked so neat, so smart, so comfortable, as though
she had a home which she meant to take them to, when she said, "come
with us," that the tempter's spell was broken. Sally would not have gone
with Julia Antrim, for all her gold and silks, good suppers and other
enjoyments. The words were few and common-place. How often the mother
and children had heard them before--"come with us." But they never
sounded as they did this night. There is something in the tone, as well
as words. There is a magnetic power in kindness. Kind words are always
winning, whether from friend or stranger. These came from strangers. Not
altogether so; the man had been one of the drunken companions of Bill
Eaton; had helped to make him such, and now he was going to pay part of
the damage to his family. The girl, in her father's drunken days, had
been one of Sally's street companions; they had begged, and stole, and
peddled hot corn and pea-nuts together. But Sally knew her not. How
could she? Then she was, ragged and dirty, far worse than Sally; her
parents were far poorer, and lived in a worse room, one of the worst in
Centre street, and both of them were great drunkards, and she was, so
everybody said, "the worse child that ever run unhung."

How could she know the well behaved, nice looking young lady, walking by
her side. But she did know that she spoke kind words in a sweet tone,
and her heart was touched, and she went on with a light step. That
blanket wrapped a happier heart that night, than ever fluttered under
the silk dress of her former playmate, Julia Antrim.

They went on; the old man gave his arm to the widow and led the little
boy; the daughter walked with Sally. They enter the _front_ door of a
good house--when did either ever enter the front door before--up one
flight of clean stairs, and there is their home, a room, and two
bed-rooms, and kitchen; small to be sure, but a most comfortable home,
for the old man and his daughter. He was a carpenter, and made from a
dollar and a half to two dollars a day; she was a stock-maker, and could
earn from three to five dollars a week, enough to pay nearly all
expenses. "Three years ago," said he, "I was the most hopeless drunkard
that ever tumbled into a Centre street cellar. And my wife--but no
matter--she is in heaven now. All that girl's work. She reformed us; she
made me a sober man, and, God willing, I shall never fill a drunkard's
grave."

"Oh, if she could only reform my husband, how I would bless her."

"It is too late."

"No, no; it is never too late; while there is life there is hope."

"Yes, true; but--"

"But what? what is it? what do you know?"

"Why, you see, ma'am, I was in the crowd last night when the accident
happened. It was me that first picked him up; and so, you see, I went up
with him. It was me that told you that you couldn't go, 'cause I knew
how 'twas with the children, and how you hadn't much to do with at home;
for I had been sort o' watching Bill, and he had promised to go with me
this very night to sign the pledge; and so, you see, I went up with him,
and they dressed his wounds, and I knew he wouldn't get over it, his
blood was so bad, and it was so warm; but he might have lived a while,
and so when they got things fixed, I thought I would come down and tell
you about it; but just as I got down to the gate, a fellow came running
after me to go back--it was a'most morning then--and so back I went.
They said he had got crazy while I was in the room with another old
friend, and when--when I--I--"

"Yes, I see; he is dead."

"Yes; he is dead. When I came back he was about gone, but he was just as
rational as I am now. 'Oh, Jim,' said he, 'Jim Reagan, if I had only
taken the pledge when you did, I should have been a man now. But I am
glad I am going. My folks will be a great deal better off without me.'"

"Oh, no, no, no! he was my husband--their father--he might have
reformed."

"Tell them," said he, "that I am dying, and that for the first time in
ten years I feel as though I had my senses. If I could see them and know
they forgave me all the wrongs I have inflicted upon them! Do you think
my wife could forgive--"

"Yes, yes; everything, everything."

"So I told him, and that seemed to quiet him. And then I begged him to
forgive me for what I had done towards making him a drunkard. 'Oh,' says
he, 'I can forgive everybody--even those who used to sell it to us, who
used to take the bread out of our children's mouths for liquor, but I
never can forgive those who made the law, or licensed them to murder us.
I forgive everybody else that ever injured me, and I die in peace. Tell
my wife I die loving her. God bless her and my poor children, what will
become of them? Good bye, Jim; go and see my wife, and tell her good
bye, and that I die as I wish I had lived; but it is too late, too late.
God bless my wife!'

"I could not speak, I turned my eyes away a minute, looked again, and
poor Bill Eaton was gone--gone to Heaven, I am sure, if sincere
repentance would take him there. Well, you see, I could not do anything
more for poor Bill, for he was gone where we must all go pretty soon,
and so I come down and waked up Maggie."

There was a start--a sudden wakening up to consciousness on the part of
Sally, she had recognised the name.

"And says I, Maggie, daughter, come get up, and go with me to see a poor
widow and children in distress. Oh, I wish you could have seen how she
bounded out of bed--we sleep in beds, good clean beds, now, and how
quick she dressed herself, and how neat, and cheerful, and pretty she
looked, and how sweetly she said, 'now, father, I am ready, who is it?'
and when I told her, how her heart bounded with joy, and then she told
me she knew Sally, but had not seen her for a long time, and so, arm in
arm, we went out, and you know the rest. Poor Bill!"

"Oh, that I could have seen him--could have heard him speak soberly and
affectionately once more--I think I could have given him up without a
murmur."

"No. You would not have been willing to give him up to die, just as he
had begun to live. Be content, you must not murmur. Who knows but all
this overwhelming affliction will work together for your good, and your
children's good."

"Yes, mother, I am sure it will for mine. It has already, for I will be
like Maggie; don't you remember Maggie?"

"No. I don't recollect but one Maggie--'Wild Maggie of the Five
Points'--the most mischievous, ragged, dirty little beggar in all that
dreadful neighborhood; and her father, the most filthy drunkard I ever
saw. Why he was a great deal worse than----."

"Your husband. Speak it out, I am not ashamed to own it, now I have
reformed."

"You--you, not you; this is not Maggie."

"Yes, mother, this is 'Wild Maggie,' and this is her father. This nice
young lady, that said so sweetly, 'Come with us,' this is 'Wild Maggie,'
and this is--is--"

"Old Jim Reagan, the miserable old drunkard, that used to live in a
miserable cellar, in Centre street, and finally got turned out of that,
and this is Maggie, and this is our home."

And he looked around proudly upon the comforts of this home, and
contrasted them with the miseries of that.

Now Margaret--Mag or Maggie, no longer--began to "fly around." Breakfast
was to be got, and what was much more difficult, a full-sized woman, a
half-grown girl, and a quarter-grown boy, were to be clothed. How was it
to be done? One of her dresses, "with a tuck,"--tucks are fashionable in
these days--was soon made to fit Sally. The father said, he would go out
and get some clothes for Mrs. Eaton and little Willie, for, thank God,
he was able to do it, for what he saved by soberness, not only enabled
him to live and clothe himself, but to fulfil that best of all Christian
injunctions, to be kind to the widows and fatherless, and he did not
know of any that he was under more obligations to than the wife and
children of Bill Eaton, and, God willing, he was going to clothe them,
and then he was going to go with them to Mr. Pease, the man that had
been the means of reclaiming him, and get them a home in the House of
Industry, until they could find some other one, or a way to earn a
living.

Apparently it was not willed that he should spend his scanty store to
clothe the naked at this time; the will to do so was equally acceptable
to the great Will, as though the deed were done, for just now there was
a rap at the door, indicating an early visitor. Who could it be?
Margaret ran down to see. A boy from a second-hand clothing store,
entered with a large bundle.

"I wants to know as how if the woman that was burnt out is here?"

"Yes."

"And a little boy and gal?"

"Yes."

"This is the place then. Are you the gal what was at the fire and said,
'come with us?'"

"Yes, why do you ask that?"

"'Cause the gentleman told me to ask, and when I was sure I was right,
to give the gal these three gold pieces, one for each word, and the
bundle of clothes and the letter to the woman. That's all. So here they
are. I am sure I is right for you don't look as though you could tell a
lie if you tried. Why what ails the gal? I'll be blamed if I see
anything to cry about. Why, hang me, what does it mean? I feel just so I
should cry too if I stayed in this house long. So good bye. I am sure it
is all right?"

And the door closed behind him, and he was gone. What could it mean? Was
she dreaming? No! There lay the bundle, there glistened the half eagles
in her hand. It could not be a dream, yet it was a mystery. How could
any one know so soon that her roof contained one so needy? Who had heard
those words, those three little words, every one of which had turned to
gold? Yes, and will yet turn to fruit more precious.

How she wished she had asked the boy who it was, who had been so
suddenly raised up, so mysteriously sent to visit the widow in her
affliction. Perhaps the letter would tell. So she took it and the bundle
up stairs and opened both. One contained full suits for the mother,
daughter, and little boy, all black--the other was a letter to Mr.
Pease.

"Can this be the work of man?" said Mrs. Eaton; "who knew, who could
know, that I must wear the widow's weeds, so soon?"

"There is a spirit of intelligence which maketh known secret things. How
could any one without such spiritual aid know that you was a widow, that
you was destitute, that we had bid you come with us, that I was just
going out to buy clothes, and here they come like manna in the
wilderness to Israel's host. Who will deny spiritual influence and
special interposition now?"

Who will believe it, when they are told how all this seeming mystery
will melt away with the shades of the night which brought it into the
minds of these simple people?

"But what is in the letter, my child, does that tell anything?"

"Nothing, father; it is addressed to the Rev. Mr. Pease, at the Five
Points House of Industry, requesting him to give a home to a poor woman
and two children, and says the writer will see him about it soon."

"Ah, that is just where I intended to take them, after the funeral."

"Yes, and see how nicely these clothes fit them, just as well as though
made on purpose. How could anybody guess so well?"

"It is no guess work. There is something more than guess work about
this."

So there was.

"Breakfast is ready, father."

"Then let us eat it in thankfulness and then."

And then!



CHAPTER II.[A]

LITTLE KATY.--A MIDNIGHT INTERVIEW.

     What is said in this, will apply to everything similar.


"Here's your nice Hot Corn, smoking hot, smoking hot, just from the
pot!" Hour after hour one evening, as I sat over the desk, this cry came
up in a soft, plaintive voice, under my window, which told me of one of
the ways of the poor to eke out means of subsistence in this
over-burdened, ill-fed, and worse-lodged home of misery--of so many
without means, who are constantly crowding into the dirtiest purlieus of
this notoriously dirty city, where they are exposed to the daily chance
of death from some sudden outbreaking epidemic like that now desolating
the same kind of streets in New Orleans, and swallowing up its
thousands of victims from the same class of poverty-stricken,
uncomfortably-provided for human beings, who know not how, or have not
the power, to flee to the healthy hills and green fields of the country.
Here they live--barely live--in holes almost as hot as the hot corn, the
cry of which rung in my ears from dark till midnight.

[A] This chapter was published under the simple title of "Hot Corn,"
among the "City Items" of the New York Daily Tribune, August 5, 1853. It
is but slightly altered from the original text.

[Illustration: "HOT CORN! HERE'S YOUR NICE HOT CORN!"--_Page 45._]

"Hot corn! hot corn! here's your nice hot corn," rose up in a faint,
child like voice, which seemed to have been aroused by the sound of my
step as I was about entering the Park, while the city clock told the
hour when ghosts go forth upon their midnight rambles. I started, as
though a spirit had given me a rap, for the sound seemed to come out of
one of the iron posts which stand as sentinels over the main entrance,
forbidding all vehicles to enter, unless the driver takes the trouble to
pull up and tumble out of the way one of the aforesaid posts, which is
not often done, because one of them, often, if not always, is out of its
place, giving free ingress to the court-yard, or livery stable grounds
of the City Hall, which, in consideration of the growth of a few
miserable dusty brown trees and doubtful colored grass-patches, we call
"the Park."

Looking over the post I discovered the owner of the hot corn cry, in the
person of an emaciated little girl about twelve years old, whose dirty
shawl was nearly the color of the rusty iron, and whose face, hands, and
feet, naturally white and delicate, were grimmed with dirt until nearly
of the same color. There were two white streaks running down from the
soft blue eyes, that told of the hot scalding tears that were coursing
their way over that naturally beautiful face.

"Some corn, sir," lisped the little sufferer, as she saw I had stopped
to look at her, hardly daring to speak to one who did not address her in
rough tones of command, such as "give me some corn, you little wolf's
whelp," or a name still more opprobrious both to herself and mother.
Seeing I had no look of contempt for her, she said, piteously, "please
buy some corn, sir."

"No, my dear, I do not wish any; it is not very healthy in such warm
weather as this, and especially so late at night."

"Oh dear, then, what shall I do?"

"Why, go home. It is past midnight, and such little girls as you ought
not to be in the streets of this bad city at this time of night."

"I can't go home--and I am so tired and sleepy. Oh dear!"

"Cannot go home. Why not?"

"Oh, sir, my mother will whip me if I go home without selling all my
corn. Oh, sir, do buy one ear, and then I shall have only two left, and
I am sure she might let little Sis and me eat them, for I have not had
anything to eat since morning, only one apple the man gave me, and part
of one he threw away. I could have stole a turnip at the grocery when I
went to get--to get something in the pitcher for mother, but I dared
not. I did use to steal, but Mr. Pease says it is naughty to steal, and
I don't want to be naughty, indeed I don't; and I don't want to be a bad
girl, like Lizzy Smith, and she is only two years older than me, if she
does dress fine; 'cause Mr. Pease says she will be just like old drunken
Kate, one of these days. Oh dear! now there goes a man, and I did not
cry hot corn, what shall I do?"

"Do! There, that is what you shall do," as I dashed the corn in the
gutter. "Go home; tell your mother you have sold it all, and here is the
money."

"Wont that be a lie, sir? Mr. Pease says we must not tell lies."

"No, my dear, that wont be a lie, because I have bought it and thrown it
away, instead of eating it."

"But, sir, may I eat it then, if you don't want it?"

"No, it is not good for you; good bread is better, and here is a
sixpence to buy a loaf, and here is another to buy some nice cakes for
you. Now that is your money; don't give it to your mother, and don't
stay out so late again. Go home earlier and tell your mother you cannot
sell all your corn and you cannot keep awake, and if she is a good
mother she won't whip you."

"Oh, sir, she is a good mother sometimes. But I am sure the grocery man
at the corner is not a good man, or he would not sell my mother rum,
when he knows--for Mr. Pease told him so--that we poor children are
starving. Oh, I wish all the men were good men like him, and then my
mother would not drink that nasty liquor, and beat and starve us, 'cause
there would be nobody to sell her any--and then we should have plenty to
eat."

Away she ran down the street towards that reeking centre of filth,
poverty and misery, the noted Five Points of New, York.

As I plodded up Broadway, looking in here and there upon the palatial
splendors of metropolitan "saloons"--I think that is the word for
fashionable upper class grog-shops--I almost involuntarily cried, "hot
corn," as I saw the hot spirit of that grain, under the various guises
of "pure gin"--"old rum"--"pale brandy"--"pure port"--"Heidsick"--or
"Lager-bier"--poured down the throats of men--and ah! yes, of women,
too, whose daughters may some day sit, at midnight, upon the cold
curbstone, crying "Hot corn," to gain a penny for the purchase of a
drink of the fiery dragon they are now inviting to a home in their
bosoms, whose cry in after years will be, "Give, give, give," and still
as unsatisfied as the horse-leech's daughters.

Again, as I passed on up that street, still busy and thronged at
midnight, as a country village at mid-day intermission of church
service, ever and anon, from some side-street, came up the cry of "Hot
corn--hot corn!" and ever as I heard it, and ever as I shall, through
all years to come, I thought of that little girl and her drunken mother,
and the "bad man" at the corner grocery, and that her's was the best,
the strongest Maine Law argument which had ever fallen upon my listening
ear.

Again, as I turned the corner of Spring street, the glare and splendor
of a thousand gas lights, and the glittering cut glass of that, for the
first time lighted-up, bar-room of the Prescott House--so lauded by the
press for its magnificence--dashes our eyes and blinds our senses, till
we are almost ready to agree, that first class hotels must have such
Five Point denizen-making appurtenances, as this glittering room,
shamelessly, invitingly open to the street; when that watch-word cry,
like the pibroch's startling peal, came up from the near vicinity,
wailing like a lost spirit on the midnight air--"Hot corn, hot
corn!--here's your nice hot corn--smoking hot--hot--hot corn."

"Yes, yes!" I hear you cry--"it is a watchword--a glorious watchword,
that bids us do or die--until the smoking hot, fiery furnace-like gates
of hell, like this one now yawning before us, shall cease to be licensed
by a Christian people, or send delicate little girls at midnight through
the streets, crying 'Hot corn,' to support a drunken mother, whose first
glass was taken in a 'fashionable saloon,' or first-class liquor-selling
hotel."

"Hot corn," then, be the watchword of all who would rather see the grain
fed to the drunkard's wife and children, than into the insatiable hot
maw of the whiskey still.

Let your resolutions grow hot and strong, every time you hear this
midnight city cry, that you will devote, if nothing more,

    "Three grains of corn, mother,
    Only three grains of corn,"

towards the salvation of the thousand equally pitiable objects as the
little girl whose wailing cry has been the inciting cause of this
present dish of "Hot Corn--smoking hot!"



CHAPTER III.

WILD MAGGIE.

     "A woman sometimes scorns what best contents her."


It is human nature to scorn many things which would content us--which do
content us after we once taste them.

One of the reasons why the vicious scorn those who would make them
better; why they scorn to change their present wretched life, or
miserable habitations, is because they know not what would best content
them.

When that missionary first located his mission to the poorest of New
York city poor, the drunkards, thieves, and prostitutes of the Five
Points, he was scorned by those he came to save. He and his mission were
hated with all the bitter hate which the evil mind oft feels for the
good, made still more bitter by the sectarian venom of ignorant
Catholics towards the hated heretic Protestants. Every annoyance that
low cunning could invent was thrown in his way.

Feeling the inefficiency of the system so long and so uselessly
practiced, of giving Bibles or tracts to such people, to be sold or
pawned for a tenth part of their value, he began a new system. This was
to give employment to the idle, to teach all, who would learn, how to
work, how to earn their own living, and that industry would bring more
content than drunkenness and its concomitant vices. Though stolen fruit
may be sweet, the bread of toil is sweeter, and he would teach them how
to gain it.

One of the first efforts made was work for the needle; because that was
the most easily started, can be carried on with less capital, and, on
the other hand, produces the least capital--or rather poorest pay to
those who labor. Yet it is better than idleness, and he soon found
willing hands to work, after he opened his shop, and invited all who
would conform to the rules, and were willing to earn their bread, rather
than beg or steal it, to come and get work--such as coarse shirts and
pants--work that they could do, many of them with skill and great
rapidity, but such as they could not get trusted with at any common
establishment--the very name of the place where they lived being
sufficient to discredit them--so that security, which they could not
give, for the return of the garments, closed the door against their very
will to work.

Another discouraging thing against the very poor who did occasionally
get "slop shop work," arose from some gross, cruel, wicked, downright
robbery, perpetrated upon "sewing women" by some incarnate fiend in the
clothing trade. The difficulty to get work, the miserably poor pay
offered to those who

        "Stitch, stitch, stitch,
      Band and gusset and seam,
        Seam and gusset and band,
    With eyes and lamp both burning dim,
    With none to lend a helping hand,"

is enough to sink stouter hearts than those which beat in misery's
bosom.

Sunk in misery, poverty, crime, filth, degradation, want; neglected by
all the world; hated by those who should love; trodden down by those who
should, if they did a Christian duty, lift up; living in habitations
such as--but no matter, you shall go with me, by and by, to see where
they live--how could they lift themselves up, how could they be
industrious and improve their condition, how could they accept bibles
and tracts, with any promise of good?

So thought the missionary; and so he set himself about giving them the
means to labor, with a hope and sure promise of reward.

Some of those who sent him there to preach salvation to the heathen of
the Five Points differed with him--differ still--thinking that a
Christian minister degrades himself when he goes into a "slop shop" to
give out needle-work to misery's household--or attempts to teach
industry to idle, vicious children, or reform degraded women, by
teaching them the ways of living without sin, without selling their
bodies to buy bread, or in their despair, to exchange the last loaf for
rum.

So he opened a shop--now enlarged into a "House of Industry"--and soon
found his reward. But he was annoyed, hated, persecuted, beaten--but God
and a good will conquered.

Among other petty, vexatious trifles--it is trifles that annoy--a little
girl, in rags and filth, with a mat of soft "bonny brown hair," no doubt
well colonized, bare-headed and bare-footed, in cold or heat, used to
come every day to the door, ringing her shrill musical voice through
the open way, through the crack or key-hole, if it was shut, calling him
all sorts of opprobrious names, mixed with all sorts of sentences of
Catholic hatred to Protestantism, that showed that she was herself a
missionary from adults of evil minds. Then she would call over the names
of the inmates, with all their catalogue of crimes, giving little scraps
of their history, and their hateful nick-names--singing some of the
songs they used to sing in their drunken debauches at Pete Williams's;
and such a voice as she had would have won her worshippers in high life,
and she had been with them and of them. And her features and blue eyes
were as beautiful as her voice was strong and sweet; and there she would
tell him, and the crowd of idlers who came to listen, and laugh, and
shout at her cunning tricks and evident annoyances, for what purpose he
wanted all them old ----'s; and so it went on, day after day. All
attempts to get rid of her were of no avail. Scolding, threatening, were
alike unheeded. "Catch me first," was her answer. Then he followed her
to her home, to expostulate with her parents. Vain effort!

Up Anthony street to Centre; come with me, reader, let us look at that
home!

There is a row of dens all along upon the east side of that street, full
of those whom hope has forsaken, and misery has in her household. Above
ground, below ground, in cellar or garret, back room or front, black and
white, see how they swarm at door and window, in hall and stairway, and
out upon the sidewalk, all day in idleness, all night in mischief,
crime, and sin.

Elbow your way along among the standing, and step over the prostrate
drunken or sleeping women and children along the side-walk. Stop
here--here is a sort of hole-in-the-ground entrance to a long, dark,
narrow alley, let us enter. "No, no, not there," you will exclaim.
"Surely human beings cannot live there?"

Yes, they do. That girl has just gone down there, and we will follow.

"Better not go there," says a young urchin in the crowd; "a man was
stabbed down there last night."

Encouraging; but we enter, and grope along about a hundred feet, and a
door opens on the right, the girl we have followed darts out, up like a
cat, over a high fence, on to a roof, up that, into a garret window,
with a wild laugh and ringing words, "You didn't do it this time, you
old Protestant thief, did you? You want to catch me, to send me to 'the
Island.' I know you, you old missionary villain you. I heard Father
Phelan tell what you want to do with the poor folks at the Points; you
want to turn them out of house and home, and build up your grand houses,
and make them all go to hear you preach your lies; you do, you old
heretic, but you didn't catch me. I'll plague you again to-morrow."

We entered her home--the home that the missionary was trying to turn her
out of. Can it be possible that human nature can cling to such a home,
and refuse to be turned out, or occupy a better one.

The room is one of a "row," along the narrow dark corridor we entered,
half sunken below the ground, with another just such another row
overhead, each ten or twelve feet square, with a door and one little
window upon this narrow alley which is the only yard; at the end of
which there is a contagion-breeding temple of Cloacina, common to all.

In "the house" that we enter, a man lies helplessly drunk upon a dirty
rug on the floor; a woman, too much overcome to rise, sits propped up in
one corner. There is altogether, perhaps, fifty cents worth of furniture
and clothing in the room.

And this is the loved home of one of the smartest, brightest, most
intelligent little girls in this God-forsaken neighborhood.

The missionary made known his errand and was told that he might do
anything he pleased with the girl, if he would catch her and tame her.

"For," said her mother, "what do we want with her at home--_at
home_!--She is never here, only to sleep."

Only to sleep! Where did she sleep? On the damp, bare floor, of course,
where else could she sleep in that home?

The next morning various devices were contrived to catch her, to force
her into a better home. All failed.

When did force ever succeed with one of her sex?

If the serpent had _bid_ our first mother to eat the apple, she would
have thrown it down the villain's throat, splitting his forked tongue in
its passage.

Finally it was arranged that a boy, noted as "a runner," should stand
behind the door, and when she came with her jibes, sometimes provoking
mirth, and sometimes ire, he should jump out and catch her.

"Catch me if you can!" and away went she, away went he, under this cart
and over that. Now he will have her--his hand is outstretched to seize
his chase--vain hope--she drops suddenly in his path, and he goes
headlong down a cellar. When he came up there was a great shout, and a
great many dirty bare-footed girls about, but that one was nowhere in
sight. So back he goes, enters the door; and a wild laugh follows him
close upon his heels.

"You didn't catch me this time, did you? Don't you want another race?
Ha, ha, ha."

And away she went, singing:

    "Up, up, and away with the rising sun,
      The chase is now before ye;
    Up, up and away with hound and gun,
      The chase is now before ye."

It was a chase that cunning must catch, strength could not win.
Everybody said she never could be caught and tamed. She had run wild all
her young years. She was not by nature vicious, but she was most
incorrigibly mischievous. She was, so everybody said, and he ought to
know, beyond the hope of redemption. Yet everybody was mistaken. Reader,
you already know this girl, for this is "Wild Maggie, of the Five
Points." This is the kind, sweet, tender-hearted Margaret, you have read
of in a former chapter, ministering to the wants of that poor widow and
destitute children, living in comfort, with neatness and industry, and
her father, in a happy home; and that father the poor, miserable,
wretched, besotted drunkard, whom we found in that wretched hole, in
that dark alley in Centre street.

What a change!

It was a change for good. It was a deed of mercy to redeem such a child
as this from a course of life that has but one phase--one worse than
useless object--one wretched termination.

What magic power had wrought this change?

Words of kindness, charity, hope, teachings of the happiness attendant
on virtue, religion, industry; by these the worst can be redeemed.

How?

"Finding every effort unavailing," said the missionary, "I changed my
tactics. I was busy one morning in the workshop, laying out work, when I
cast my eye towards the open door, and there saw Wild Maggie, waiting
for a word upon which she might retort. Without seeming to notice her, I
said, loud enough for her to hear, 'Oh, how I wish I had some one to
help me lay out this work.' There was a look of intelligence spreading
over her face, which seemed to say as plainly as looks could say, 'I
could do that.'

"'Will you?' I said; she started as though I was mentally replying to
her passing thoughts.

"She did not say, 'Yes,' but she thought it. I had touched a chord.

"'Maggie,' said I, with all the tone and looks of kindness I could
command, 'Maggie, my girl, come in; you can help me; I know you are
smart, come, I will give you sixpence if you will help me a little
while.' She stepped into the door, looked behind it suspiciously, and
started back. She remembered the trap. 'No, I won't. You want to catch
me and send me to the Island. I know you, you old Protestant. Old Kate
told me yesterday, that you had sent off Liz. Smith, Nance Hastings, and
hump-backed Lize, and a lot of girls.'

"'So I have, but not to the Island. They have all got good places where
they are contented and happy. But I don't send anybody away that don't
want to go. I won't send you away, nor won't keep you if you don't want
to stay.'

"'Will you let me come out again, if I come in, when I am a mind to?'

"'Yes, certainly, my dear child.'

"My dear child!" Where has she ever heard those words? In former days,
before her father and mother had sunk so low, as they now are, when she
used to go to school, to church, and sabbath-school, and wear clothes,
such as she was not ashamed of. Want of clothing will sink the highest
to the lowest state of rags, and dirt, and misery.

"'Will you swear, that you will let me come out, and you won't beat me.
Limping Bill and one-eyed Luce, his woman, says, you licked little Sappy
till she died.'

"'They are great liars.'

"'So they say you are. That you preach nothing but lies.'

"'Well, I won't lie to you, Maggie, and I won't whip you, but I won't
swear. Did you ever know any good man swear?'

"She thought a moment, and replied, 'Well, I don't know--I know them
that swear the most will lie. Will you let the door stand open? If you
will I will come in?'

"'Yes,' and in she came.

"'Now, what do you want I should do?'

"'There, do you look at me. I am laying out shirts for the women to sew.
That pile, there, that is the body; this, the sleeves; that, the collar;
these, the wristbands; these, the gussets; here are six buttons, and
here is the thread to make it, and then it will be a shirt when made.
Now we roll it up and tie a string around it; now it is ready to give
out. Now, you can do that just as well as I can, and you don't know how
much it will help me.'

"'Yes, I can, and I can beat you.'

So she could. She was just as quick at work as she was at play and
mischief, and the piles disappeared under her nimble fingers much more
rapidly than they did under his, and so he told her. Who had ever
praised her work before, though all had "her deviltry?"

The spirit of reformation had already commenced its glorious work.

"When that job was finished, she turned her sweet blue eyes upon me,
with an expression which said as plain as eyes can speak, 'I am sorry
that job is done. I like that, can't you give me another?'

"There was no other which she could do just then, but she said, 'What
shall I do now?'"

"Well, Maggie, I have no more work for you to-day, but here is your
sixpence, I promised you, and here are some cakes; come again to-morrow,
you can help me every day. I like your help."

She did not want to go. She had tasted of a fruit which had opened her
eyes, and she would fain clothe herself in fig leaves, so they hid the
deformity of dirt, and rags, and sin. Wild as the fawn, as easily as the
fawn subdued. At the approach of man, that timid animal bounds into the
thickest brake and hides away; but once in the hands of man, it turns
and follows him to his home, licking his hand as though it were with its
own dam. So was Wild Maggie tamed.

"What shall I do now?"

What should she do? A score of little girls were huddling around the
door, for the news was out that Maggie, Wild Maggie, had been caught and
caged, and they wanted to see "what would come of it."

"A thought struck me," said the missionary. "I asked her if she could
read. Yes, and write. Had she been to school? Yes. Then you shall play
school. You shall have these benches, and you shall call in those
children, and you shall be the teacher, and so you may play school."

Was there ever a happier thought engendered. Maggie was delighted, the
children came rushing in, ready for "a play never before enacted in this
theatre."

For an hour or more she plied her task diligently, and it was
astonishing with what effect. How she reduced her unruly materials to
order. How she made them say, yes, ma'am, and no, ma'am, to their school
mistress. How she made them sit and "look like somebody." Taught this
one his A B Cs, and that one to spell B-a-k-e-r. How she told this one
to wash his face, next time he came to school, and that one if she had
any better clothes, to wear them. Poor Maggie, she never thought of the
poverty of her own.

"Now," said she, "every one of you sit still; not a word of noise, and
no running out while I am gone, or I shall punish you worse than
shutting you up in a dark closet. Mr. Pease, will you look to my school
a moment?"

Away she bounded. Oh, what a step! Step! it was more like flying. A
moment, hardly time for a few pleasant words to her school, and she
bounds in again, with a little paper parcel in her hand. What could it
mean? It means that,

    Many a flower in wilds unseen,
      The sweetest fragrance grows;
    From many a deep and hidden spring,
      The coolest water flows.

She first inquires, "have they all been good?" "Yes, all." Then she
unwraps her parcel. How they look and wonder, "what is it?"

What is it? Simply this.

She has been out and spent her sixpence to do unto others just as she
had been done unto. Did ever cakes taste sweeter? Did ever benevolence
better enjoy herself than Maggie did, while thus distributing her
rewards? What a lesson of self-sacrifice! The first sixpence--the whole
treasure of this world's goods, spent to promote the happiness of
others. This was a hint. It were a dull intellect that could not improve
it. The children were further fed, and bid to come again to-morrow. "And
this," said he, "was the beginning of our ragged beggar children school,
that has proved such a blessing to this neighborhood.

"Maggie," said I, taking her by the hand and looking her in the eye.
"Maggie, you have helped me a great deal to-day, will you come again
to-morrow?"

The string was touched, and tears flowed. When had tears, except tears
of anger, filled those eyes before? What had touched that string? Kind
words!

"If you will let me stay, I wont go away. I can learn to sew. I can make
these shirts."

"Yes, yes; and if you are here, these children will come, and we will
have school every day."

And so Wild Maggie was Wild Maggie no more. She was tamed. Her life had
taken on a new phase. To the questions, what would her father say? what
would her mother say? she replied, "What do they care? what have they
ever cared? Though they were not always so bad as they now are."

No, they were not always so bad as they now are. None of his class were
always so bad as they now are. Once her father was James Reagan, a
respectable man, a good carpenter, and had a good home. Now where was
he. Sunk, step by step, from hotel to saloon, from saloon to bar-room,
from bar-room to corner grocery, from grocery to cellar rum hole, from a
good house to a filthy, underground den in Centre street. He has but one
more step to take--one more underground hole to occupy.

But such as he may reform. He did. You have seen that. Will you ask,
how? You shall know.

Maggie became one of the household. She was washed, and fed, and
clothed; and how she worked, and learnt everything, and how she listened
at the temperance meetings to what "the pledge" had done, and how she
wished her mother would come and try--try to leave off drinking, and
become "the good mother she was when I was a little girl." For her
father she had no hope. For her mother, she determined to persevere.
When she was sober she would talk, and cry, and promise, but the demon
rum would overcome her, and then she would curse her daughter, and call
her all the vile names that the insane devil in her could invent.

And so it went on; Maggie still determined, still trying. The right time
came at last. One night, Maggie was not at the meeting. By and by, there
was a little stir at the door. What is the matter? A little girl is
pulling a woman, almost by force, into the room. It is Maggie and her
mother. She has got her old ragged dress off, and looks quite neat in
one that Maggie has made for her. But she hides her face. She is ashamed
to look those in the face she would have once looked down upon. A woman
is speaking--women can speak upon temperance--just such a woman as
herself--is it not herself--is she awake, or does she sleep and dream?
If awake, she hears her own story. The story of a woman with a drunken
husband. And she traces his fall from affluence down to beggary; then
her fall, down, down, down, to a cellar in Farlow's Court; there her
husband dies; there upon a pile of straw and rags upon the floor, in
drunken unconsciousness, she gives birth to a child--a living child by
the side of its dead father.

"What a night--what a scene, but you have not seen the worst of it. The
very heavens, as though angry at such awful use of the gifts of reason,
and the abuse of appetite, sent their forked messengers of fire to the
earth--less dangerous than the fire that man bottles up for his own
damnation; and the water came down in torrents, pouring into that cave
where the dead, and living, and new born were lying together, and
overflowed the floor, and when I felt its chill," said she, "I awaked
out of my drunken sleep, and felt around me, to see, no, I could not
see, all was pitch darkness. My child cried, and then--then a whole army
of rats, driven in by the rain, driven by the water from the floor, came
creeping on to me. Oh! how their slimy bodies felt as they crept over my
face. Then I tried to awaken my husband, but he would not wake, and in
my frenzy I struck and bit him--bit a dead man--for his was the sleep of
eternity. Then I summoned almost superhuman strength, and creeped up the
stairs and out into the court. I looked up; the storm was gone; there
was a smile in heaven--it was the smile of that murdered babe; for when
I had begged a light, and went back again to that dreadful, dreadful
habitation--why are human beings permitted to live in such awful
holes--has nobody any care for human life--what did I see? Mothers,
mothers--mothers that sleep on soft couches--hear me, hear me--hear of
the bitter fruits the rum trade bears--the rats had devoured the life
blood of that child. What next I know not. I know that I have never
drank since--never will again--by signing this pledge I was saved--all
may be saved."

"All? all? Can I--can I be restored as you have been--can I shake off
this demon that has dragged me down so low that my own mother would not
know me; or knowing, would spurn me? Can I be saved?"

It was Maggie's mother.

"Yes, you, you, I was a thousand times worse. Look at me now."

"Yes, mother, you. Come." And she took her by the hand and led her up to
the table, put a pen in her hand--dropt upon her knees--looked up to her
mother imploringly--up to heaven prayerfully--her lips quivered--the
tears rolled down her cheeks--"Now, mother, now."

'Tis done. She wrote her name in a fair hand--Mary Reagan--'Tis done.

    'Tis done!--'tis done!--wild Maggie cries;
    'Tis done!--'tis done!--the mother sighs;
    'Tis done!--'tis done!--in chorus join,
    To bear aloft the news along.
    'Tis done!--'tis done! a voice replies,
    Stand forth, be strong, and you shall rise.

And so she did. She never fell. She came to live in the house with
Maggie. "I cannot go back," she said, "to live with your father, if I
would stand fast; and I cannot think, after hearing that woman's story,
last night, of ever drinking again. I know that woman; I knew her when
she was a girl, one of the proudest and prettiest. My husband has spent
many a dollar with hers in the bar-room. Oh yes, I knew her well. I did
not know her last night; but when she told me who she was--that she was
Elsie Wendall--then I knew her. Oh! I could tell you such a story--but
not now. No! no, I cannot live with your father again, for I never will
drink any more--never--never!"

"But what, if father will take the pledge?"

"Oh! then I should be a happy woman again. But there is no hope."

"Yes, there is hope. I shall watch him; and, mother, I _will_ save him."

It was a great promise--a great undertaking for a young girl to promise
with an "I will." When did "I will" in woman's mouth ever fail?

That will was the strength of her life. It was for that she now lived
and labored. Now she had hope--now 'twas lost--now revived again. Now he
worked a month--sober for a whole month--then down he went if he
happened to go into one of his old haunts, or meet with some of his old
companions, who said, "come, Jim, let's take one drink--only one--one
won't do any hurt"--but two follow the one. Then Maggie would look him
up, get him sober again, and get him to work.

God bless that child! God did bless her, for she stuck to him, until he
finally consented to come once, just once to the temperance meeting--but
he would not sign the pledge--he never would sign away his
liberties--no--he was a free man. Well only come, come and listen--come
and see mother. That touched him. He loved mother--Yes he would come.
The evening came. Maggie watched every shadow that darkened the door.
Finally the last one seemed to have entered, but Jim Reagan was not
among them. Maggie could not give it up. She slipped out into the
street, it was well she did. She was just in time. A knot of men were
talking together, of the tyranny of temperance men, wanting to make
slaves of the people, getting them to sign away their rights--rights
their fathers fought and bled for.

Yes, and so had they--at the nose.

They had just carried the point, and started to follow Cale Jones over
to his grocery, who was going to stand treat all round. One lingered a
moment--looked back--as though he had promised to go that way--but
appetite was too strong for conscience, and he turned towards the
rum-hole. Just then a gentle hand is laid upon his arm, and a sweet
voice says:

"Father, come with me, come and see mother--don't go with those men."

Woman conquered.

When Cale Jones counted noses, to see which he should charge with the
treat he had promised "to stand," he found Jim Reagan was not in the
crowd.

"Why, damn the fellow, he has given us the slip after all our trouble.
I thought we had made a sure thing of it. I tell you what it is, boys,
we must manage somehow to stop this business, or trade is ruined. If
people are not to be allowed to drink anything but water, there'll be
many an honest man out of business. Times is hard enough now, what'll
they be then?"

Just then Tom Nolan, the mason--it used to be Drunken Tom Nolan--was
telling what they would be, at the temperance meeting.

It was a propitious time for Maggie. She led her father in, he hung back
a little, and tried to get into a dark corner near the door. That she
would not allow; some of Satan's imps might drag him away from the very
threshold of salvation. She led him along, he was sober now, and looked
sad, perhaps, ashamed.

"James, you here? Oh!"

It was his wife. He knew her voice, it was that of other days. He stared
at her; could it be her, so neat, and clean, and well dressed, and
speaking so fondly to him--to him--for she had refused to see him ever
since she took the pledge. Now, she came forward, took him by the hand,
ragged and dirty as he was--she knew what would clean him--led him to a
seat and sat down by his side. Maggie sat on the other. For a minute the
speaker could not go on. There was a choking in his throat, strong man
as he was, and there were many tears in the eyes that looked upon that
father, mother, and daughter, that night.

"Jim Reagan," said the speaker, "I am glad to see you here. You are an
old acquaintance of mine."

Jim Reagan looked at him with astonishment. Could that well dressed
laboring man, clean shaved and clean shirted, be Tom Nolan?

"I don't wonder that you look inquiringly at me, as much as to say, 'is
that you?' Yes, it is me, Tom Nolan, the mason, me who used to lay
around the dirty rum holes with you, begging, lying, stealing, to get a
drink. Do you think that now I would pick up old cigar stumps and quids
of tobacco, to fill my pipe? Do you think I would wear a hat, as I have
done, that my poor beggared boy picked out of the street? Look at that.
Does that look like the old battered thing I used to wear? Do these
clothes look like the dirty rags I wore when you and I slept in Cale
Jones's coal-box? Do I look like the drunken Tom Nolan that kept a
family of starving beggars, with two other families, in one room, ten by
twelve feet square; and that a garret room, without fireplace, without
glass in its one window; with the roof so low that I could only stand up
straight in one corner; and that mean room in the vilest locality on
earth, in a house--ah! whole row of houses, tenanted by just such
miserable, rum-beggared human beings--buildings owned by a human
monster--houses for the poor which are enough to sicken the vilest of
beasts; such as no good man would let for tenements, even when he could
get tenants as degraded as I was--tenements that any Christian grand
jury would indict, and any court, which desired to protect the lives of
the people, would compel the owners to pull down, as the worst, with
one exception, of all city nuisances.

"How did I live there? How did my wife and children ever live there, in
that little miserable room, with seven others, just such wretches as
ourselves? How do hundreds of such men, women, and children as we were,
still live there? I was in that same room--the place my children used to
call _home_--this evening. The entrance is in Cow Bay. If you would like
to see it, saturate your handkerchief with camphor, so that you can
endure the horrid stench, and enter. Grope your way through the long,
dark, narrow passage--turn to your right, up the dark and dangerous
stairway; be careful where you place your foot around the lower step, or
in the corners of the broad stairs, for it is more than shoe-mouth deep
of steaming filth. Be careful too, or you may meet some one--perhaps a
man, perhaps a woman--as nature divides the sexes; as the rum seller
combines them, both beasts, who in their drunken frenzy may thrust you,
for the very hatred of your better clothes, or the fear that you have
come to rescue them from their crazy loved dens of death, down, headlong
down, those filthy stairs. Up, up, winding up, five stories high, now
you are under the black smoky roof; turn to the left--take care and not
upset that seething pot of butcher's offal soup, that is cooking upon a
little furnace at the head of the stairs--open that door--go in, if you
can get in. Look; here is a negro and his wife sitting upon the
floor--where else could they sit, for there is no chair--eating their
supper off of the bottom of a pail. A broken brown earthen jug holds
water--perhaps not all water. Another negro and his wife occupy another
corner; a third sits in the window monopolising all the air astir. In
another corner, what do we see?

"A negro man, and a stout, hearty, rather good looking, young white
woman."

"Not sleeping together?"

"No, not exactly that--there is no bed in the room--no chair--no
table--no nothing--but rags, and dirt, and vermin, and degraded, rum
degraded, human beings--men and women with just such souls as animate
the highest and proudest in the land."

"Who is this man?"

"Dat am Ring-nosed Bill."

"Is that his wife?"

"Well, I don't know that. He calls her his woman."

"And she lives with him as his wife--you all live here together in this
room?"

"Well, we is got nowhere else to live. Poor folks can't lib as rich ones
do--hab to pay rent--pretty hard to do that alone."

"How much rent for this room?"

"Seventy-five cents a week, ebry time in advance."

"Who is this man?"

"They calls me Snaky Jo. 'Spose may be my name is Jo Snaky. Don't know
rightly."

"What do you do for a living?"

"Well, mighty hard to tell dat, dat am fact, massa. Picks up a job now
and then. Mighty hard times though--give poor man a lift, massa."

"Is that man and woman drunk."

"Well, 'spose am, little tossicated."

"A little intoxicated! They are dead drunk, lying perfectly unconscious,
in each other's _emesis_, upon the bare floor. The atmosphere of this
room is enough to breed contagion, and sicken the whole neighborhood,
and would, but that the whole neighborhood is equally bad. Let us hasten
down to the open air of the court--it is but little better--all
pollution--all that breathe it, polluted. Yet, in that gate of death I
once lived. Look at me, James, you knew me then. Look at me now, you
don't know me. You knew me a beast--you may know me a man--you may know
yourself one. Sign this paper--there is a power of magic in it--and you
shall go home with me, and see where I live now, and I will clothe you
and help to sustain you in your sober life, just as Thomas Elting did
me, and with heaven's blessing, we will make a man of you."

"Too late! too late! not enough of the old frame left to rebuild."

"It is never too late. Look at the piles of old brick, and tiles, and
boards, and joist, and rafters, and doors, and glass, of the pulled down
houses. Are they wasted? I am a mason, you a carpenter; if we cannot put
them back and build up the same old-fashioned edifice, we can make a
good, snug, comfortable house. Come, sign the contract, and let us set
right about the job."

"Father, come, father!"

He turned and spoke a few low words to his wife, to which she replied:

"Yes, I will. Keep the pledge one month and I will go and live with you,
die with you."

"Then try it, father, come." And she led him forward, just as she had
done her mother. You have seen, shall see, how heaven blessed her for
filial piety.

"I used to write. 'Tis a long time since I did. Maggie, my hand
trembles. Help me--guide the pen. I cannot see clearly."

No wonder. There was a tear in each eye. There were other tears when
Maggie took him again by the hand, and again said:

"Come, father, let us pray;" and then all kneeled down together, and
then Mr. Nolan took him by the arm, and said, "Come, James, let us go
home."

Not yet. He had one more act to perform. He shook his wife's hand, and
said, "Good bye. I shall keep it." Then he looked wishfully at Maggie,
as though he wanted something, yet dare not ask it, for fear he should
be repulsed. Still the yearning of nature was upon him. It was a long
time since he had felt it as he now felt, but he was beginning to be a
new man. Maggie was his only child, his once loved, much caressed child.
Would she ever cling those arms around his neck again. She had shown
herself this night one of the blessed of this earth. She had done, or
induced him to do, what no other soul on earth could have done, and how
his heart did yearn to clasp her in his arms. He stopped half way to the
door, and looked upon her with tearful, loving, thankful eyes. It needs
no wires, no magnet, no human contrivance, to convey the magnetism of
the heart. She felt its power, as it sprung from the lightning flash of
loving eyes, and quick as that flash, she made one bound, one word,
"Father!" and her arms were around his neck, her lips to his, and here
let us shift the scene.



CHAPTER IV.

THE TEMPTATION.--THE FALL.

    Eve was tempted of Satan, and fell.
    So have been her children.


About two months after the events of the last chapter, a few of the new
friends of James Reagan joined together, procured a comfortable room in
Mulberry street, and put in the necessary articles of furniture, and his
wife, faithful to her promise, came to live with him. There was a great
contrast between this and the home where we visited him in Centre
street. Nolan and Elting stuck to him, and he stuck to the pledge.
Margaret watched him, visited him, went with him and her mother to
church and temperance meetings, and, finally, became satisfied and happy
that her father had made a complete reformation, and that he had
outlived all danger of relapse; so she accepted a good offer to go into
the country, and live in a farmer's house, where she would learn
house-work. It was her fortune, but his misfortune, thus to be
separated. She was his ever-watchful guardian angel. His wife was
affectionately kind, and they lived together, as of old, happily. And
so, as of Adam and Eve in paradise, they might have lived, if there had
been no serpents in New York. They beset him--waylaid him--tempted
him--but no art could induce him to enter their sulphurous dens. Cale
Jones swore that he would get him back; that he would have him among
his old cronies again, or die in the attempt.

"Them ere cold water chaps aren't a going to crow over me that ere way,
no how. I tell you what it is, boys, you must contrive some way to get
Jim in here some night; he has got money now, and if he won't drink
himself, he shall stand treat any how. We've treated him many a time."

"Dat am de fac," says Ring-nosed Bill.

"Shut your clapper, you drunken nigger, you; who axt you to put in your
oar. If you want to do anything, just get Jim Reagan, by hook or crook,
in here once more."

"And you will give him what you did Pedlar Jake."

"Shut pan, or I'll chuck your ivory into your bread-basket. What's in
your wool, Snakey?"

"Dis nigger knows how to fix him. Make him come his self."

"Let her rip, Snakey; how'll you do it?"

"Jis go to work at right end foremost. 'Spose you the debble stick him
forked tongue right out all at once to frighten Fader Adam? No, sir-ee;
he creep round mighty sly, and wiggle him tail at Mudder Eve, and den
she come it over de old man. Dat am the way. Aren't you got no
gumption?"

"I understand. Who shall the Eve be, Snakey?"

"Smoky Sal. She is a pet of his. He got her in."

"I know it. She is in that old missionary's claws. How are you going to
get her out?"

"Dat easy 'nuff, so you work him right. Gib us a drink, Cale. I isn't
going to grab for you for nothing."

"I'll give you a gallon if you bring him in. How'll you do it?'

"Do you think this nigger am a fool, sure? 'Spose I gwine to tell you,
and lose the gallon. Take notice, Ring-nose, it's a fair trade. So jis
you git ready to-morrow night for business, case he'll be down then."

The next night the trap was set. Snakey went to One-eyed Angeline, and
promised her a share in the gallon, if she would contrive a plan to get
Smoky Sal out of the House of Industry, and get her over to Cale
Jones's, and get her drunk.

These two had long been sisters in sin. One had reformed, or was trying
to reform, for Reagan had got her into the House, and seemed very
anxious for her, having, as he said, been the cause of her downfall. The
other hated her for her reformation, and would drag her back, down,
down, to the wretched life she had escaped from.

So she sent word to Sally that she was sick and almost dying, and begged
her to come and see her. How could she refuse? So she went, and found
her with her head tied up, and in dreadful pain. Directly in came Snakey
Jo, with the first installment of the gallon. It was to bathe her head.
Can an old inebriate put liquor upon the outside of the head without
putting it in? Sally could not. She smelt--she tasted--she drank--was
drunk--and then Angeline took her down to Cale Jones's grocery, and into
his back room, and then that black imp of a worse than slave's master,
watched for Reagan as he started for home, and with an air of honesty
that might deceive the wariest old fox into a trap, he told him how
"Angeline had coaxed Sally into the grocery, and he had been watching an
hour"--that was the only truth he spoke--he watched for another
victim--"and she hadn't come out yet, and he was afraid she was in
trouble; and now, Mister Reagan, I is so glad I is fell in wid you,
accidental like, case I didn't know as you was in the Points, case you
can get her out, and get her back home."

With a natural impulse to do good, he determined, imprudently, to be
sure, to do what he had not done since he signed the pledge--to enter a
rum-hole. There he found the two women as the negro had told him. Sally
was completely overcome, and lying in one corner of "the back room."
Back it was, quite out of sight or hearing of the street, where many a
victim had been robbed at a game of cards, or by more direct means. It
was in this room that Pedlar Jake got his quietus.

"I had been in the room often before," said Reagan. "I knew the way, and
I paid no heed to the hypocritically angry words I was greeted with as I
entered, and told to clear out and mind my own business. I pushed my way
through the crowd of loafers, and entered the door of death. That old
witch, Angeline, took care to get out of my way as I went in. I sat down
upon the bed and tried to rouse up the victim of this infernal plot,
little thinking that I was the greatest one of the two. The room was
very close and foul, and as I had been unused, lately, to breathe such
air, it made me sick. 'Tom,' said I--let me stop and moralize a little
upon this name. I would never call a child, Tom. There is something
fatal in the word. I have known more drunken Toms than of all other
names. It is a low-bred name. Bill, Jim, Joe, Sam, Ike, are all bad, but
none equal to Tom." "Two of my drunkenest companions," said Reagan,
"afterwards, my best friends, were Toms--now Thomas Elting and Thomas
Nolan." Parents, don't nickname your children, it is a step down that
may carry them to the bottom of the ladder.

Give your children good names; names they will not be ashamed of in
after life, and never cut them short. Never call, William, Bill; or,
Catherine, Kate; or, Mary, that most beautiful of all names, a name I
love, Moll; it will, perhaps, be the direct cause of their ruin as they
grow up. Who would think of speaking a foul word to Miss Mary Dudley?
Who would speak with respect to Moll Dud? Parents, think of it.

Now, here was another Tom. A bright, active boy--Tom Top, whose proper
name was, Thomas Topham. What if he had been called Charles? why, his
nickname would have been an elongation to Charley, a name that everybody
loves. At any rate, he would not have been, drunken Tom--a poor,
neglected orphan boy, who, for want of some one to guide and keep him in
the path of virtue, had strayed into the very worst of all paths of
vice. From a home, where he received a fair education, and had a good
mother, but a father who learned him to drink, and who thought it
cunning to call him, Tom Top, he was come down to be a mere hanger-on
around Cale Jones's grocery.

"God never works without an object," is an axiom of those who look
every day to him for counsel. We shall see in time how the villain was
defeated in his object of bringing Reagan into this place, and making
use of Tom for an instrument of his ruin.

"'Tom,' said I, 'bring me a glass of water.' He did so, I tasted it and
set it down a moment for the ice to melt. When I took it up again, I
swallowed the whole tumbler full at a gulph. In a moment my throat, my
stomach, my brain were on fire. I had drank half-a-pint of white
whiskey. Those wicked wretches had hired Tom to substitute one glass for
the other. What transpired for three days after, I know not."

The next morning, before sunrise, his wife came down to the Points in an
agony of fear. "Was Reagan there?" was her hopeful inquiry. Hope sunk
and almost carried her with it when told that he left there before ten
to go home. "Then he is lost, lost, lost!"

All that day he was searched for up and down, high and low, but nobody
had seen him. How the villains lied, for they were all the time gloating
over their victory--double victory--two stray sheep won back--back to
the wolf's den. All that day the pack were carousing upon the money
robbed from Reagan.

"What a glorious haul, boys," says Cale Jones, "we must have Tom Elting
and Nolan, next, and then hurrah, boys, we'll break up old Pease and
drive him out of the Points yet."

How could human nature become so infernally depraved, as to rejoice over
and glorify such deeds of darkness?

By Rum. The very parent of total depravity.

At night, after their day's work, Elting and Nolan came down and joined
the search, looking into every hole that was most likely to have been
used for his tomb, worse than tomb, for it was the burial-place of his
soul. They did not look in Cale Jones's back room, for he "took his
Bible oath that Jim Reagan had never entered his door in a three month."

Finally, after the pack had spent every cent of his money, and pawned
every article of his clothing, they were ready to get rid of his
company. But they were not quite satisfied with the misery they had made
for his wife, and so they plotted a scheme so wicked that the most
incarnate one of all the hosts of the infernal regions would blush to
own the deed.

They knew that Sally had been a source of disturbance, a cause of
jealousy to his wife in by-gone years, and so they laid their plan.
Madalina, a little beggar girl, an Italian rag-picker's daughter, was
promised a sixpence to go, as she would not be suspected, to tell Mrs.
Reagan, that Tom knew where her husband was.

It was a faint hope, but drowning men catch at straws.

Tom was hunted up. He was easily found, for he had his instructions, "to
bring the old woman along." Did they hope in her frenzy of despair and
jealousy that she too would fall? Yes they did.

Could human ingenuity contrive anything more harrowing to the mind of a
wife, searching for her absent husband, than an introduction into a room
where he was in bed with another woman, folding her, in his drunken
insanity, in his arms, protesting how he loved her, loved her better
than he did--better than--his grog?

The monsters missed their aim. Mrs. Reagan spoke kindly to him as though
in her own bed; begged him to get up and go home with her. No he would
not. She might go back to her old missionary paramour. She might go to
---- no matter where, he was drunk. But he could not get up, for the
villains had stripped him of every stitch of clothing; they had not even
left him a shirt. So she went away, sorrowing.

"Tom," said she, "come, go home with me, that is a good boy, I feel so
faint and weak." Tom was a good boy; who had ever said it though? One,
one he remembered, and these words came like hers and nestled down in
his heart. They will live there and drive out evil ones.

Tom went home with her, giving her his arm and telling her to lean upon
it. Tom was not the best of guides, he made several missteps that day,
for tears dimmed his eyes, but he made one good step, it was up the
ladder of reform.

"Mrs. Reagan," said he, "let me stay here to-day, I have got no home,
and I don't feel as though I wanted to go back to Cale Jones's."

No. He did not want to go back there. He had heard the sound of his dead
mother's voice, saying, good boy. Nobody would say, good boy, if he went
back there. Conscience too was doing her work; conscience told him what
he had done to a woman who now said, "good boy."

So he stayed--he was a good boy--she was sick and he waited upon her all
day. At night he was going to get Mr. Elting and Nolan to go with him
and bring Reagan home. That would be his reward. He has his hand upon
the door to go out, but waits a moment to see who comes. He opens it to
a hurried footstep, and in bounds Wild Maggie, her face radiant with
health, strength, and the lovely bloom of country life.

"Where's father? Mother sick? What's the matter?"

Her mother draws the clothes over her face. She would not have her
daughter see her weep.

"Tom, my boy, tell me; come, Tom, that is a good boy--the truth, nothing
but the truth--I must know it."

Good boy, again, and his heart overflowed. He could stand kicks, and
cuffs, and curses, without a tear, but he could not hold out against,
"good boy."

"Maggie, I will not lie to _you_, I could not; but I can't tell you the
truth."

"Why?"

"I am 'fraid you won't call me good boy again."

"Yes, I will. I don't believe you are a bad one."

"And you won't hate me?"

"No, no; she cannot hate you, for you have been good to her mother,
to-day."

"Mother! Oh! I know all about it. You need not tell me. Only, where is
he? I will go and bring him home."

"Did Heaven ever give a mother such another child?"

Yes, many such. Many a flower would send its blossomed sweets to many a
heart, but for blighting frosts in its young years.

"What sent you home, Maggie?"

"I don't know, mother; I felt as though I was wanted. Something told me
so. I dreamed so for three nights, and so I came."

She was soon told everything. Tom made a full confession; and still she
did not hate him. She told him how he could help her. He should go with
her; she was going to bring her father home. She gave him a little
bundle of clothes to carry; and away they went. She stopped on her way
down, at the police office, made her complaint, and took an officer
along with her, who arrested Cale Jones and the two women; the rest of
the gang were prowling for prey somewhere else. The women were sent to
the Island, next day, for they had no friends. The plotter of villainy
had. The Alderman of the Sixth Ward, was his friend; political friend;
him he sent for; and after being an hour in custody, he was discharged;
and this was the end of his punishment.

Reagan, since his wife's visit in the morning, had steadily refused to
drink any more, and had become in a measure sober. It was a sad meeting
with his daughter. At first, he refused to see or speak to her. He was
ashamed. Nature overcame him at last, and he got up and pulled off the
dirty suit his robbers had put on him, preparatory to kicking him into
the street, and put on the clean ones, which Maggie and Tom had brought
him; and then they took him, each by an arm, and went home. It was a sad
home; it never will be a happy one again. Then she went to work and got
him some supper, spending of her own little store to buy some tea, and
such things as he could eat.

"Now," says she, "I have got another thing to do to-night, for I must go
back again in the morning. Tom, I am going to provide you with a home.
You must go to the House of Industry, reform, and make a man of
yourself."

Reader, do not forget. This ministering angel, is Wild Maggie.

Most willingly he went with her, and was most kindly received by the
Superintendent. There we will leave him awhile. We shall see him again
perhaps.

Maggie went back to her country home. Her father remained sick for some
days, and then went to work, but his spirit was broken, he grew more and
more uneasy, and finally, in a fit of despondency, met with one of his
old cronies, and back he went, down, down, to his former degradation.
Had he gone back and renewed his pledge, after his first fall, when he
was dragged down, he might have been saved; but he would not; he said,
he had proved himself incapable of ever being a man again, and so he
sunk in despair. Week after week his clothes, his furniture, his wife's
clothes, even her daughter's gift-Bible, went for rum. Nothing was left,
but starvation. Yes, there was one thing left for her--one thing that
that wife had never before received from her husband.

A blow, a black-eye, and a kick. It was one drop too much in her cup of
affliction, and she parted with him for ever, and came back to her old
home, the House of Industry.

Tom welcomed her with a smile; he was door-keeper now.

"It is better to be door-keeper," said he, "in the house--you know the
rest. I will call Mr. P. I am sure, he will give you a home, he said as
much yesterday. I shall write to Maggie now, and let her know all about
it."

"You are very kind, Tom, to say that."

"Well, wasn't she kind to me? Where should I have been all this time, if
it had not been for her? I think, we will get the old man in again,
yet."

"No, no, he is passed everything, now. He never was so bad before, never
struck me a blow before. A blow from him! Oh! it is dreadful. I never
can forgive that."

"Don't say that. 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us.'"

"True, my boy, you have taught me a lesson. I will forgive, but I don't
think he will ever get over this bout; he is very violent."

"The most violent fires are soonest burnt out."

Tom had faith, she had none, she was a sad victim of despair--a
despairing wife. But time will heal the deepest wounds. She went to
work, grew cheerful, and contented there to spend the remainder of her
life, which she said, would not be long. Of that she seemed to have a
presentiment, and made all preparation which it becomes a reasonable
mortal to make for such a prospective journey. She seemed to have but
one wish.

"Oh! if I could see my husband as he was a few months ago, I should be
willing to die then. But I cannot bear to die now with the thought upon
my mind, that he would never shed a tear at my grave."

His time was coming. Tom was a philosopher. "Didn't I tell you," says
he, "that the fire would soon burn out. He was here last night, walking
up and down the pavement for hours, looking down into the kitchen when
you were at work."

"Perhaps he wanted to strike me again."

"No, he was as sober as a judge."

"Oh, dear! then may be he was hungry, poor man."

"So I thought, and went and bought him a loaf of bread. When I gave it
to him, he burst into tears, and walked away to a cart and sat down to
eat it. He was hungry, and for fear he would be dry, and go to that
cursed hole--"

"Don't swear, Tom."

"I can't help it; it is one, and why not call it so? I did not want him
to go there, and so I went and got him a cup of water, and carried to
him, and then I thought if everybody knew what a blessed thing it is to
give these poor old drunkards bread and water instead of rum, how much
happiness they might make in the world. And then I talked to him about
taking the pledge again, but he said, 'no, Tom, I took it once, I don't
want to break it again.' 'No,' said I, 'you did not break it, it was me
that did it, I was the guilty one.' And then I told him all about it. He
never knew before. The rascals there told him, that he and Sally came
there together and called for whiskey, and then got drunk and went to
bed together, and he believed it; his mind was so confused that he
forgot all about the past, and he never knew till now that they had lied
to him so shockingly. 'You don't know,' says he, 'Tom, what a load you
have lifted off of my conscience.' Then I asked him where he was going
to sleep that night?

"'Where? where should I? In the cart or under it. Anywhere I can find a
hole. Me that have had a house of my own, and built a score of houses
for others to sleep in, have not slept in one these two months. Perhaps
never shall again.'

"'Yes you will,' says I; 'you will sleep in that one to-night.'

"'What! under the same roof with my wife once more; I don't know as I
could stand it; it is more happiness than I deserve.'

"'No, it is not; and if you will go away in the morning, and stay away
all day, and come back at night as sober as you are now, I will ask the
Superintendent to take you in for good.'

"'I will, I will! I will go away and sweep the streets to-morrow; they
will give me another loaf of bread, and that is more than I have had for
a whole week.'

"So you see, he will come again to-night, and then it is temperance
meeting, and we will get him in. Depend upon it, if he ever takes the
pledge again he will never break it."

True to his word, Reagan came the next night sober.

"See," said he, "Tom, I have got a quarter of a dollar, and have not
spent it for liquor. If some of the harpies knew I had it, how they
would be after me."

He hesitated long about going into the meeting. He was afraid his wife
would be there, and he could not bear to meet her. She was equally
afraid to meet him. Finally, one of the assistants went out and talked
with him.

"Do you think," he replied, "that I could ever be a man again? I am
afraid there is not enough of me left to make one. Manhood is all gone.
I feel as though I had made a beast of myself so long, that I must
always be a beast. But if you think there is enough left of the old
wreck--"

"Enough? Yes; come along."

This was a new voice, just come up on the other side. He looked around;
it was Nolan.

"Nolan, my old friend--you were a friend to me; and I will try if Mr.
Pease will agree to shut me up and keep me out of the way of these
alligators. Look at them. Don't they lie about just like alligators in
the mud and swamps, ready to snap up every poor dog that comes within
reach of their tails or jaws?"

Well, he took the pledge, and in due time we will see how he kept it.

While I give my readers a little respite from the contemplation of such
characters as have been introduced in the preceding chapters, I propose
to introduce a little episode in the life of two of those which they
have seen engaged in the noble work of reclaiming and sustaining a poor
inebriate in his efforts to become a sober man. That they had reason to
believe in the possibility of such reclamation, the reader will
understand after reading the historical facts of the next chapter.



CHAPTER V.

THE TWO PENNY MARRIAGE.

    "And ye twain shall be one flesh."

    "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder."


No, not even rum; yet it often does. We have just read of one of the
many thousand sad instances that have occurred in this world, of rum
separating those who had taken upon them that holy ordinance which makes
them as one flesh, one heart, one mind; and, unless such have one mind
both to be drunk together, how can they live with one another? How can
they live in rum's pollution in the holy bonds of matrimony? There is
nothing holy about such a sinful life.

Do away with the cause--abolish intoxicating liquor from society, and
you will not only rivet those holy bonds with golden rivets, but you
will shut up nine-tenths of the brothels and gaming houses in this city.
Without rum they could not live over the first quarter's rent day. With
it their profits are enormous--its effects awful.

I could point you to a house in this city, with its twenty-five painted
harlots, where the sales of wine in one year have been thirteen thousand
bottles, costing $15,000, and selling for $39,000. And why not a profit,
since men and women will get drunk in a palace, the mere repairs or
additions to which, in one season, cost the almost incredible sum of
$70,000?

Who furnished the money? Who made the inmates what they are? Those who
_made the wine_; not those who furnished the grape juice, for it is
probable that the whole did not contain a thousand bottles full of that
liquor.

What caused the inmates to be what they are? Rum!

Who made them harlots? Not those who marry, or are given in marriage.

Marriage is one of the best preventives of licentiousness, but it is not
often perhaps that it produces so positive a reformation as in the
following cases.

"I have married," said Mr. Pease to me one day, "some very curious
couples. That of Elting was very remarkable."

He was sitting one evening, trying to post up his books, amid continued
interruptions, such as, "Little Lucy's eyes are worse to-night, sir."

"Let me see. She must go into the hospital. Send the sore-eye nurse to
me. Take this little girl to your room--keep her eyes well washed with
cold water, and use that ointment. Report to me to-morrow. Go."

"That is a fine-looking woman."

"Yes, and an excellent nurse. She lived last year in one of those Centre
street cellars. She came here with both eyes nearly out of her head;
gouged by a drunken husband. We put her into the sore eye hospital, and
soon found she would make a good nurse for the afflicted children."

"Mr. Pease, is it the powder once and the pills every hour, or is it
t'other way?"

"Exactly. The other way. You have hit it. The powder is Dover's Powder,
to allay fever. The pills are cathartic. Go."

"Cathartic. I never heard of that pill-maker before. Wonder if he will
make as many as Brandreth has," says this interrupter as she goes away.

"Susan Apsley says you promised her she might go out this evening."

"Did she come in all right when she was out before?"

"All right, sir."

"Let her go."

"Please, sir, may I go with her?"

"Who is this."

"Juliana, sir. I want to go and see my cousin Madalina, sir."

"Oh, yes, I remember. You are the little Italian tambourine girl. Yes,
you may go. See if you can get that pretty cousin of yours to come and
live here."

"She would like to, sir, but her mother won't let her."

"Very well. Go."

And he resumed his work. "7 and 5 are 12, and 8 are 20; two 1's are 2--"

"Yes, but two ones want to be made one."

"How is that--what do you want?"

Reader, will you just turn to the illustration of the couple that now
presented themselves as candidates for matrimony. The delineator and
engraver have made one of the most perfect daguerreian pictures ever got
up from description.

"What do you want of me?"

"We want to be married, sir."

"Want to be married--what for?"

"Why, you see, we don't think it is right for us to be living together
this way any longer, and we have been talking over the matter to-day,
and you see----"

"Yes, yes, I see you have been talking over the matter over the bottle,
and have come to a sort of drunken conclusion to get married. When you
get sober, you will both repent it, probably."

"No, sir, we are not very drunk now, not so drunk but what we can think,
and we don't think we are doing right--we are not doing as we were
brought up to do by pious parents. We have been reading about the good
things you have done for just such poor outcasts as we are, and we want
you to try and do something for us."

"Read! can you read? Do you read the Bible?"

"Well, not much lately, but we read the newspapers, and sometimes we
read something good in them. How can we read the Bible when we are
drunk?"

"Do you think getting married will keep you from getting drunk?"

"Yes, for we are going to take the pledge too, and we shall keep it,
depend upon that."

"Suppose you take the pledge and try that first, and if you can keep it
till you can wash some of the dirt away, and get some clothes on, then I
will marry you."

[Illustration: THE TWO PENNY MARRIAGE COUPLE.--_Page 95._]

"No; that won't do. I shall get to thinking what a poor, dirty,
miserable wretch I am, and how I am living with this woman, who is not a
bad woman by nature; and then I will drink, and then she will drink--oh,
cursed rum!--and what is to prevent us? But if we were married, my wife,
yes, Mr. Pease, my wife, would say, 'Thomas'--she would not say, 'Tom,
you dirty brute,'--'don't be tempted;' and who knows but we might be
somebody yet--somebody that our own mothers would not be ashamed of?"

Here the woman, who had been silent and rather moody, burst into a
violent flood of tears, crying, "Mother, mother, I know not whether she
is alive or not, and dare not inquire; but if we were married and
reformed, I would make her happy once more."

"I could no longer resist the appeal," said Mr. P., "and determined to
give them a trial. I have married a good many poor, wretched-looking
couples, but none that looked quite so much so as this. The man was
hatless and shoeless, without coat or vest, with long hair and beard
grimed with dirt. He was by trade a bricklayer, one of the best in the
city. The woman wore the last remains of a silk bonnet, and something
that might pass for shoes, and an old, very old dress, once a rich
merino, apparently without any under garments."

"Your name is Thomas--Thomas what?"

"Elting, sir. Thomas Elting, a good, true name and true man; that is,
shall be, if you marry us."

"Well, well. I am going to marry you."

"Are you? There, Mag, I told you so."

"Don't call me Mag. If I am going to be married, it shall be by my right
name, the one my mother gave me."

"Not Mag? Well, I never knew that."

"Now, Thomas, hold your tongue, you talk too much. What is your name?"

"Matilda. Must I tell you the other? Yes, I will, and I never will
disgrace it. I don't think, I should ever have been as bad if I had kept
it. That bad woman who first tempted me to ruin, made me take a false
name. They always do that, sir, and so she said I must take another
name, I did not know what for then; and so they called me Mag, and that
is the name he knows me by, and I never would have told him my right
name, only that we are going to get married, and reform."

Could they do it--could beings sunk so low, reform? We shall see.

"It is a bad thing, sir, for a girl to give up her name unless for that
of a good husband. Matilda Morgan. Nobody that is good knows me by any
other name in this bad city."

Yes, it is a bad thing for a girl to give up her own name for a
fictitious one. I could tell a touching story of an instance of a poor
sewing woman, who went to one of these name-changing houses to work, not
to sin, who was coaxed to be called Lucy, instead of her own sweet name
of Athalia, and how she was accidentally discovered and rescued from the
very jaws of ruin by her own uncle. But not now, I must go on with
the marriage. The bride and bridegroom are waiting, and the reader for a
share of the feast.

"Now I am going to join you two in wedlock; it cannot make you worse, it
may better. Look me in the face. Now, Matilda and Thomas, take each
other by the right hand, look at me, while I unite you in the holy bonds
of marriage by God's ordinance. Do you think you are sufficiently sober
to comprehend its solemnity?"

"Yes, sir."

"Marriage being one of God's holy ordinances, cannot be kept in sin,
misery, filth, and drunkenness. Thomas, will you take Matilda to be your
lawful, true, only, wedded wife?"

"Yes, sir."

"You promise that you will live with her, in sickness as well as health,
and nourish, protect, and comfort her as your true and faithful wife;
that you will be to her a true and faithful husband; that you will not
get drunk, and will clothe yourself and keep clean?"

"So I will."

"Never mind answering until I get through. You promise to abstain
totally from every kind of drink that intoxicates, and treat this woman
kindly, affectionately, and love her as a husband should love his wedded
wife. Now, all of this will you, here before me as the servant of the
Most High,--here, in the sight of God, in heaven, most faithfully
promise, if I give you this woman to be your wedded wife?"

"Yes, I will."

"And you, Matilda, on your part, will you promise the same, and be a
true wife to this man?"

"I will try, sir."

"But do you promise all this faithfully?"

"Yes, sir, I will."

It was a woman's "I will," spoken right out with a good, hearty
emphasis, that told, as it always tells, the faith and truth of woman,
when she says, "I will."

"Then I pronounce you man and wife."

"Now, Thomas," says the new wife, after I had made out the certificate
and given it to her, with an injunction to keep it safely--"now pay Mr.
Pease, and let us go home and break the bottle." Thomas felt first in
the right pocket, then the left, then back to the right, then he
examined the watch fob.

It is probable that the former owner of this principal article of his
wardrobe, owned a watch. It is more likely that the present owner had
been often in the hands of the watch, than that he had often had a watch
in his hands. He was evidently searching for lost treasures.

"Why, where is it?" says she. "You had two dollars this morning."

"Yes, I know it; but I have only got two cents this evening. There, Mr.
Pease, take them. It is all I have got in the world--what more can I
give?"

Sure enough; what could he do more? He took them and prayed over them,
that in parting with the last penny, this couple might have parted with
a vice--a wicked, foolish practice, which had reduced them to such a
degree of poverty and wretchedness, that the monster power of rum could
hardly send its victims lower.

So, by a few words, I hope, words of power to do good, Thomas and
Matilda, long known as, drunken Tom and Mag, were transformed into Mr.
and Mrs. Elting, and having grown somewhat more sober while in the
house, seemed to fully understand their new position, and all the
obligations they had taken upon themselves.

"For a few days," said Mr. P., "I thought occasionally of this two-penny
marriage, and then it became absorbed with a thousand other scenes of
wretchedness which I have witnessed since I have lived in this centre of
city misery. Time wore on, and I married many other couples; often those
who came in their carriage and left a golden marriage fee--a delicate
way of giving to the needy--but among all, I had never performed the
rite for a couple quite so low as that of this two-penny fee, and I
resolved I never would again. At length, however, I had a call from a
full match to them, which I refused."

"Why do you come to me to be married, my friend?" said I to the man.
"You are both too poor to live separate; and, besides, you are both
terrible drunkards, I know you are."

"That is just what we want to get married for, and take the pledge."

"Take that first."

"No; we must take all together--nothing else will save us."

"Will that?"

"It did one of my friends."

"Well, then, go and bring that friend here; let me see and hear how much
it saved him, and then I will make up my mind what to do. If I can do
you any good, I want to do it."

"My friend is at work--he has got a good job and several hands working
for him, and is making money, and won't quit till night. Shall I come
this evening?"

"Yes, I will stay at home and wait for you."

He little expected to see him again, but about eight o'clock the servant
said that man and his girl, with a _gentleman_ and _lady_, were waiting
in the reception room. He told him to ask the lady and gentleman to walk
up to the parlor and sit a moment, while he sent the candidates for
marriage away, being determined never to unite another drunken couple,
not dreaming that there was any sympathy between the parties. But they
would not come up; they wanted to see that couple married. So he went
down, and found the squalidly wretched pair, that had been there in the
morning, in conversation, and apparently very friendly and intimate,
with the lady and gentleman. He had the appearance of a well dressed
laboring man, for he wore a fine black coat, silk vest, gold
watch-chain, clean white shirt and cravat, polished calf-skin boots; and
his wife was just as neat and tidily dressed as anybody's wife, and her
face beamed with intelligence, and the way in which she clung to the arm
of her husband, as she seemed to shrink out of sight, told that she was
a loving as well as a pretty wife.

"This couple," said the gentleman, "have come to be married."

"Yes, I know it," said Mr. P., "and I have refused. Look at them; do
they look like fit subjects for such a holy ordinance? God never
intended those, whom he created in his own image, should live in
matrimony like this man and woman. I cannot marry them."

"Cannot! Why not? You married us when we were worse off--more
dirty--worse clothed, and more intoxicated."

"The woman shrunk back a little more out of sight. I saw she trembled
violently, and put her clean cambric handkerchief up to her eyes."

"What could it mean? Married them when worse off? Who were they?"

"Have you forgotten us?" said the woman, taking my hands in hers, and
dropping on her knees; "have you forgotten drunken Tom and Mag? We have
never forgotten you, but pray for you every day!"

"If you have forgotten them, you have not forgotten the two-penny
marriage. No wonder you did not know us. I told Matilda she need not be
afraid, or ashamed, if you did know her. But I knew you would not. How
could you? We were in rags and dirt then. Look at us now. All your work,
sir. All the blessing of the pledge and that marriage, and that good
advice you gave us. Look at this suit of clothes, and her dress--all
Matilda's work, every stitch of it. Come and look at our house, as neat
as she is. Everything in it to make a comfortable home; and, oh! sir,
there is a cradle in our bedroom. Five hundred dollars already in bank,
and I shall add as much more next week when I finish my job. So much for
one year of a sober life, and a faithful, honest, good wife. Now, this
man is as good a workman as I am, only he is bound down with the galling
fetters of drunkenness, and living with a woman as I did, only worse,
for they have two children. What will they be, if they chance to live,
and grow up to womanhood in Cow Bay? Now he has made up his mind to try
to be a man again--he is a beast now--he thinks that he can reform just
as well as me; but he thinks he must take the pledge of the same man,
and have his first effort sanctified with the same blessing, and then,
with a good resolution, and Matilda and me to watch over them, I do
believe they will succeed."

So they did. So may others, by the same means.

They were married, solemnly, impressively, solemnly married; and pledged
to total abstinence in the most earnest manner; and promised most
faithfully, not only to keep the pledge, but to do unto others, as
Elting had done unto them. Both promises you have seen that they have
kept well.

As they were parting, Elting slipped something into Nolan's hand, and
told him to pay the marriage fee.

"I thought," said the missionary, "of the two pennies, and expected
nothing more, and therefore was not disappointed when he handed me the
two reddish-looking coins. I thought, well, they are bright, new looking
cents, at any rate, and I hope their lives will be like them. I was in
hopes that it might have been a couple of dollars this time, but I said
nothing, and we parted with a mutual God bless you. When I went up
stairs, I tossed the coin into my wife's lap, with the remark, 'two
pennies again, my dear.'"

"Two pennies! Why, husband, they are eagles--real golden eagles. What a
deal of good they will do. What blessings have followed that act."

And what blessings did follow the last one; will always follow the
pledge faithfully kept; will always follow a well formed, faithfully
kept union, even if it is a "two-penny marriage."



CHAPTER VI.

THE HOME OF LITTLE KATY.

    "There is a special Providence in the fall of a sparrow."

        "He, that of the greatest works is finisher,
         Oft does them by the weakest minister."


I have still another little episode in this life drama--a scene in one
of the acts, which we may as well put upon the stage at this point of
the story, though it is quite unconnected with those that immediately
precede it; yet you will find a character here, in whom you have,
perhaps, taken some interest. It is the termination of the story of the
Hot Corn girl, whom you read about in chapter second, whose portrait you
have already looked at in the frontispiece of this volume.

You have read in the story of Little Katy, what a world of cheap
happiness can be bought with a shilling. No one of the thousand silver
coins wasted that night in hotel, saloon, bar-room, grocery, or rum
hole, gave the waster half the pleasure that that shilling gave to three
individuals--he that gave and those who received. No ice-cream, cake,
jelly, or health-destroying candy, tasted half so sweet as the bread
purchased with that sixpence.

No man ever made so small an investment, that paid so well, both in a
pecuniary point of view and large increase of human happiness, for it
has been the means of waking up benevolence, not dead but sleeping, to
look about and inquire, what shall I do to remove this misery-producing
curse from among us? Thousands have read the story of Little Katy, and
thousands of little hearts have been touched. Many hands have been
opened--more will be. These little stories, detailing some of the
sufferings which crime and misery bring upon the poor of this city, will
be, as some of them already have been, read with tearful eyes. You have
read the story of a poor neglected child of a drunken mother--not always
so--wasting her young life away with no object but to live, with no
thought of death. It is a sad tale, and it is not yet finished. The next
night after the interview with that neglected, ill-used little girl, the
same plaintive cry of "Hot corn, hot corn!--here's your nice hot corn!"
came up through our open window, on the midnight air, while the rain
came dripping down from the overcharged clouds, in just sufficient
quantities to wet the thin single garment of the owner of that sweet
young voice, without giving her an acceptable excuse for leaving her
post before her hard task was completed.

At length the voice grew faint, and then ceased altogether, and then I
knew that exhausted nature slept--that a tender house-plant was exposed
to the chilling influence of a night rain--that an innocent girl had the
curb-stone for a bed and an iron post for a pillow--that by and by she
would awaken, not invigorated with refreshing slumber, but poisoned with
the sleep-inhaled miasma of the filth-reeking gutter at her feet, which
may he breathed with impunity awake, but like the malaria of our
southern coast, is death to the sleeper.[B] Not soothed by a dreamy
consciousness of hearing a mother's voice tuning a soft lullaby of

    "Hush, my child, lie still and slumber;"

but starting like a sentinel upon a savage frontier post, with alarm at
having slept; shivering with night air and fear, and, finally, compelled
to go home, trembling like a culprit, to hear the harsh words of a
mother--yes, a mother--but oh! what a mother--cursing her for not
performing an impossibility, because exhausted nature slept--because her
child had not made a profit which would have enabled her more freely to
indulge in the soul and body-destroying vice of drunkenness, to which
she had fallen from an estate, when "my carriage" was one of the
"household words" which used to greet the young ears of that poor little
death-stricken, neglected, street sufferer.

[B] On many of the Rice and Sea Island plantations in South Carolina and
Georgia, in fact upon almost all the coast lands of these States, the
malaria is so deadly in its effects upon the sleeper, that every effort
is made to keep awake by those who are accidentally exposed for a single
night to its influence. Many of the most beautiful residences in the
vicinity of Charleston, are uninhabited by white persons in summer. The
negroes are not at all, or only slightly affected. The overseers often
have a little cabin in the most convenient pine woods, to which they
retire before nightfall.

No doubt, though to a less deadly degree, the malaria arises from the
filth in our dirty streets, killing its thousands of little children
every year.

It was past midnight when she awoke, and found herself, with a desperate
effort, just able to reach the bottom of the rickety stairs which led to
her _home_. We shall not go up now. In a little while, reader, you shall
see where live the city poor.

You shall go with me at midnight to the _Home of little Katy_. You shall
see where she lies upon her straw pallet in a miserable garret; yet she
was born in as rich a chamber as you or you, who tread upon soft Turkey
carpets when you go to your downy couches.

Wait a little.

Tired--worn with the daily toil--for such is the work of an editor who
caters for the appetites of his morning readers--I was not present the
next night to note the absence of that cry from its accustomed spot; but
the next and next, and still on, I listened in vain--that voice was not
there. True, the same hot-corn cry came floating upon the evening breeze
across the park, or wormed its way from some cracked-fiddle voice down
the street, up and around the corner, or out of some dark alley, with a
broken English accent, that sounded almost as much like "lager bier" as
it did like the commodity the immigrant, struggling to eke out his
precarious existence, wished to sell. All over this great
poverty-burdened, and wicked waste, extravagant city, at this season,
that cry goes up, nightly proclaiming one of the habits of this
late-supper eating people.

Yes, I missed that cry. "Hot Corn" was no longer like the music of a
stringed instrument to a weary man, for the treble-string was broken,
and, for me the harmony spoiled.

Who shall say there is not music in those two little words? "Hot Corn"
shall yet be trilled from boudoir and parlor, as fairy fingers run over
the piano keys. Hot Corn! Hot Corn! shall yet be the chorus of the
minstrel's song, and hot tears shall flow at the remembrance of "Little
Katy." But that one song had ceased. That voice came not upon my
listening ear.

What was that voice to me? It was but one in a thousand, just as
miserable, which may be daily heard where human misery has its abode.
That voice, as some others have, did not haunt me, but its absence, in
spite of all reasoning, made me feel uneasy. I do not believe in
spiritual manifestations half as strongly as some of the costermongers
of the fruits of other men's brains, who eke out their existence by
retailing petty scandal to long-eared listeners, would have them
believe; yet I do believe there is a spirit in man, not yet made
manifest, which makes us yearn after coexisting spirits in this sphere
and in this life, and that there is no need of going beyond it, after
strange idols.

I shall not stop to inquire whether it was a spirit of "the first, third
or sixth sphere," that prompted me, as I left my desk one evening, to go
down among the abodes of the poor, with a feeling of certainty that I
should see or hear something of the lost voice, or what spirit led me
on; perhaps it was the spirit of curiosity; no matter, it led, and I
followed, in the road I had seen that little one go before--it was my
only cue--I knew no name--had no number, nor knew any one that knew her
whom I was going to find. Yes, I knew that good Missionary; and she had
told me of the good words which he had spoken; but would he know her
from the hundred just like her? Perhaps. It will cost nothing to
inquire. I went down Centre street with a light heart; I turned into
Cross street with a step buoyed with hope; I stood at the corner of
Little-Water street, and looked around inquiringly of the spirit, and
mentally said, "which way now?" The answer was a far-off scream of
despair. I stood still with an open ear, for the sound of prayer,
followed by a sweet hymn of praise to God, went up from the site of the
Old Brewery, in which I joined, thankful that that was no longer the
abode of all the worst crimes ever concentrated under one roof. Hark! a
step approaches. My unseen guide whispered, "ask him." It were a curious
question to ask a stranger, in such a strange place, particularly one
like him, haggard with over much care, toil, or mental labor.
Prematurely old, his days shortened by overwork in his young years, as
his furrowed face and almost frenzied eye hurriedly indicate, as we see
the flash of the lamp upon his dark visage, as he approaches with that
peculiar American step which impels the body forward at railroad speed.
Shall I get out of his way before he walks over me? What if he is a
crazy man? No; the spirit was right--no false raps here. It is that good
missionary. That man who has done more to reform that den of crime, the
Five Points of New-York, than all the Municipal Authorities of this
Police-hunting, and Prison-punishing city, where misfortune is deemed a
crime, or the unfortunate driven to it, by the way they are treated with
harsh words, damp cells--death cells--and cold prison-bars, instead of
being reformed, or strengthened in their resolution to reform, by kind
words; means to earn food, rather than forced to steal it; by schools
and infant-teaching, rather than old offenders-punishing.

"Sir," said Mr. Pease, "what brings you here at this time of night, for
I know there is an object; can I aid you?"

"Perhaps, I don't know--a foolish whim--a little child--one of the
miserable, with a drunken mother."

"Come with me, then. There are many such. I am just going to visit one,
who will die before morning--a sweet little girl, born in better days,
and dying now--but you shall see, and then we will talk about the one
you would seek to save."

We were soon treading a narrow alley, where pestilence walketh in
darkness; and crime, wretched poverty, and filthy misery, go hand in
hand to destruction.

"Behold," said my friend, "the fruits of our city excise. Here is the
profit of money spent for license to kill the body and damn the soul."
Proven by the awful curses and loud blows of a drunken husband upon a
wife, once an ornament of society, and exemplary member of a Christian
church, that came up out of one of the low cellars, which human beings
call by the holy name of home!

The fetid odor of this filthy lane had been made more fetid by the late
and almost scalding hot rains, until it seemed to us that such an air
was only fit for a charnel house. With the thermometer at 86, at
midnight, how could men live in such a place, below the surface of the
earth? Has rum rendered them proof against the effect of carbonic acid
gas?

We groped our way along to the foot of an outside stair-case, where our
conductor paused for a moment, calling my attention to the spot. "Here,"
said Mr. Pease, "the little sufferer we are going to see, fainted a few
nights ago, and lay all night exposed to the rain, where she was found
and beaten in the morning by her miserable mother, just then coming home
from a night of debauch and licentiousness, with a man who would be
ashamed to visit her in her habitation, or have 'the world' know that he
consorted with a street wanderer."

"Beat her! for what?"

"Because she had not sold all her corn, which she had been sent out with
the evening before. Poor thing, she had fallen asleep, and some villain
had robbed her of her little store, and, as it is with greater crimes,
the wicked escaped and the innocent suffered."

I thought aloud:

"Great and unknown cause, hast thou brought me to her very door?"

My friend stared, but did not comprehend the expression. "Be careful,"
said he, "the stairs are very old, and slippery."

"Beat her?" said I, without regarding what he was saying.

"Yes, beat her, while she was in a fever of delirium, from which she has
never rallied. She has never spoken rationally, since she was taken.
Her constant prayer seems to be to see some particular person before she
dies.

"'Oh, if I could see him once more--there--there--that is him--no, no,
he did not speak that way to me--he did not curse and beat me.'

"Such is her conversation, and that induced her mother to send for me,
but I was not the man. 'Will he come?' she says, every time I visit her;
for, thinking to soothe and comfort her, I promised to bring him."

We had reached the top of the stairs, and stood a moment at the open
door, where sin and misery dwelt, where sickness had come, and where
death would soon enter.

"Will he come?"

A faint voice came up from a low bed in one corner, seen by the very dim
light of a miserable lamp.

That voice. I could not be mistaken. I could not enter. Let me wait a
moment in the open air, for there is a choking sensation coming over me.

"Come in," said my friend.

"Will he come?"

Two hands were stretched out imploringly towards the Missionary, as the
sound of his voice was recognised.

"She is much weaker to-night," said her mother, in quite a lady-like
manner, for the sense of her drunken wrong to her dying child had kept
her sober, ever since she had been sick; "but she is quite delirious,
and all the time talking about that man who spoke kindly to her one
night in the Park, and gave her money to buy bread."

"Will he come?"

"Yes, yes; through the guidance of the good spirit that rules the world,
and leads us by unseen paths, through dark places, for His own wise
purposes, _he has come_."

The little emaciated form started up in bed, and a pair of beautiful,
soft blue eyes glanced around the room, peering through the
semi-darkness, as if in search of something heard but unseen.

"Katy, darling," said the mother, "what is the matter?"

"Where is he, mother? He is here. I heard him speak."

"Yes, yes, sweet little innocent, he is here, kneeling by your bedside.
There, lay down, you are very sick."

"Only once, just once, let me put my arms around your neck, and kiss
you, just as I used to kiss papa. I had a papa once, when we lived in
the big house--there, there. Oh, I did want to see you, to thank you for
the bread and the cakes; I was very hungry, and it did taste so
good--and little Sis, she waked up, and she eat and eat, and after a
while she went to sleep with a piece in her hand, and I went to sleep;
hav'n't I been asleep a good while? I thought I was asleep in the Park,
and somebody stole all my corn, and my mother whipt me for it, but I
could not help it. Oh dear, I feel sleepy now. I can't talk any more. I
am very tired. I cannot see; the candle has gone out. I think I am going
to die. I thank you; I wanted to thank you for the bread--I thought you
would not come. Good bye--Sissy, good bye. Sissy--you will
come--mother--don't--drink--any more--Mother--good b--."

"'Tis the last of earth," said the good man at our side--"let us pray."

Reader, Christian reader, little Katy is in her grave. Prayers for her
are unavailing. There are in this city a thousand just such cases.
Prayers for them are unavailing. Faith without works, works not reform.
A faithful, prayerful resolution, to work out that reform which will
save you from reading the recital of such scenes--such fruits of the rum
trade as this before you, will work together for your own and others'
good. Go forth and listen. If you hear a little voice crying _Hot Corn!_
think of poor Katy, and of the hosts of innocents slain by that
remorseless tyrant--rum. Go forth and seek a better spirit to rule over
us. Cry aloud, "Will he come," and the answer will be, "Yes, yes, he is
here."

       *       *       *       *       *

     The commendation given to these stories, as they were published
     in the _Tribune_, was an inducement for me to "keep the cry of
     _Hot Corn_ before the people," for I saw that they appreciated
     my labors; and I set about collecting other materials, and
     writing out notes made during many a night-watch among the
     habitations of men, yet the abodes of misery, with which this
     city abounds.

     Many an anxious mind, after conning the preceding chapters, has
     yearned after further knowledge touching the things therein
     hinted at. Many have asked to know more of "Sissy," and Little
     Katy's mother. It is a laudable curiosity: it shall be
     gratified in due time. I have other stories--other scenes where
     you may stop a moment and drop a tear, and then we will walk on
     with our Life Scenes. First we will finish that of Maggie's
     mother.



CHAPTER VII.

MAGGIE'S MOTHER.

    Let go thy hold--the glass has run out its sands--the wheel goes
      down hill.
          There is a time to mourn.


Reagan took the pledge, and took up his residence at that house of the
destitute. At first, he did not ask to live with his wife. He said, he
was not worthy of her. He begged Tom to write to Maggie: "I know it will
make her happy to learn that I am here." So it did. The rose had another
rival now. Her cheeks blossomed afresh. Reagan worked busily--he did up
a great many little jobs of joiner-work; and when there was nothing more
to do at that, he said, let me go into the bake-shop, shoe-shop,
anywhere. I will sit down with those women and use the needle, rather
than be idle, or venture out where tempters will beset me. So he went on
for some time, till he grew stronger and gained more confidence--his
wife strengthened him by her counsel, and then he ventured out to work
where he could earn good wages. It was curious to see him go quite out
of his way, around a whole square, perhaps, to avoid going by one of his
old haunts.

"I have suffered so much," said he to me one day, "from the temptation
of these places, where the liquor is placed in our sight on purpose to
allure and whet our depraved appetites, that it is no wonder that the
poor inebriate loses his balance and falls into the abyss. If there was
no liquor in sight, there would be no danger of our falling back into
old habits. I never should think of going to look after it. The danger
is when it is thrust right under my nose. Oh, that these rum shops might
be shut up, or at least, kept out of sight!"

This was the earnest prayer of one who knew the demon power of
temptation which one, who is trying to reform, has constantly to combat
with.

Those who sell liquor know the advantage to them of this temptation. So
they fix up the street corners with all the enticing attractions of
artistic skill. The cool ice water; the free lunch; the ever-burning
light for the smoker's convenience; the arm-chair and easy lounge, and
cool room in summer, or well heated one in winter; the ever open, always
free resting-place for the tired walker, or ennui-tormented genteel
loafer, are only a few of the inducements to just "step in a moment;"
and then the old appetite is aroused by the sight and smell of liquor in
the glistening array of cut glass, and by the influence of a score of
old companions standing before the bar--they will stand before another
bar hereafter--or sitting at the little white marble tables, sipping or
sucking "sherry cobblers" and "mint juleps" through a glass "straw."

Woe to the tired walker who has been tempted into one of these
invitingly open rooms. If he has the power to resist his own
inclination to drink, he may not have enough to resist the persuasion of
half a dozen of his acquaintances, or the force of crazed brains and
strong hands, by which he is dragged up and held, while they merit the
curse denounced upon those who "put the cup to their neighbor's lips."
Perhaps he will be taunted with meanness for coming in to drink water
and rest himself, "and not patronise the house."

From this, those of us who desire to see those places of temptation shut
up, may take the hint.

Let reading rooms be opened, free to all who choose to come in and read
the papers, drink ice water, and enjoy their rest in the shade, or
partake of the comforts of a warm room, for a five cent fee. A coffee
and tea room, strictly so, may be attached. How much better than
drinking such liquor as those who visit all our public places must do,
or be set down as mean. "Let them stay at home," is a common answer to
those who say they fell by the temptations of such places.

"Suppose," said Jim Reagan to me one day, "that we have no home. That
was my case when I was a young man. I lived in a common boarding-house;
in my little uncomfortable room I would not stay; where else had I to go
but the public bar room, and there I learned to drink; I was a good
fellow then; a genteel young man, and married a genteel young girl; I
did not go down all at once--it was step by step, slow but sure--to Cale
Jones's grocery and the Centre street cellar."

True, thought I, as I entered the front door of the first hotel in this
great metropolis, the largest in America, and looked through the
splendid marble hall, two hundred feet long, lighted by glittering
chandeliers, into the immense drinking saloon of that fashionable place
of resort; and I said to myself, "some of these fine forms of men,
clothed in fine linen and rich broad cloth, may some day fall as low as
thee, poor Jim Reagan. You began your course in just such a genteel
drinking room."

"Yes," says he, "and the first drink I ever took in one, for I was
brought up a temperance boy, I was dragged up by the strength of two
companions, and held while the bar-keeper baptised me, as he called it,
by pouring the liquor down my throat, over my head, and saturating my
clothes till the smell made me sick, and then they gave me more to
settle it. 'A hair of the same dog,' said they, 'will cure the bite.'
Bite it was. No mad dog's bite ever caused more sin and sorrow than that
bite did me. We cry, 'mad dog,' and kill the poor brute; the worse than
brute we 'license' to live."

Thus he would sit and talk by the hour. "If I can only keep out of the
way of the tempters," said he, "I never shall drink again."

He was now accumulating money; he always came home to sleep, "for," says
he, "I feel, as sure as I enter this door, that I am safe."

It was determined, as soon as Maggie came again, that they would go to
keeping house. "If that blessed child was only with me," said the
father, as the tears rolled down his furrowed cheeks, "I should feel as
though I had a shield--through which none of these traffickers in human
souls could reach me. My wife is like an aged counsellor, there is
wisdom in her every word, but she cannot go out through the streets,
leaning upon my arm, still full of manly strength, like Maggie, while I
lean upon her still greater strength--the strength and might of a strong
mind."

"Here is a letter from our dear child," said Mrs. Reagan to her husband,
one evening as he came in from work. "Sit down and read it aloud, for
some how, my old eyes get dim every time I try; I cannot imagine what is
the matter with them."

I can. They were full of tears. Strange, that we shed bitter and sweet
water from the same fountain.

Reagan put on his spectacles, took the letter, looked at the first
words, took them off, wiped the glasses, looked again, repeated the
operation, laid both letter and spectacles upon the table, got up and
walked the room back and forth, then he tried to speak--to utter the
first words of that letter; if he could get over that he could go on,
but he could not, they stuck in his throat. At length he got them
up--"Dear father and mother, I am coming home to kiss you both." Simple
words! Common every-day words. But they were strong words, for they had
overcome the strength of a strong man, and he fell upon his wife's neck
and wept like a child.

"Such words to me--me who have kicked, and cuffed, and froze, and
starved, and abused that child for years. Oh, God, preserve my life to
make her ample amends for my wrongs and her love! Oh, God, preserve her
life to make us both happy, and drop a tear at our grave!"

Prayer calms the spirit. Realization and acknowledgment of sin soothes
the soul.

Reagan could now read the letter without difficulty. His spectacles did
not need wiping again. It was dated,

    "Near KATONA, Westchester County, New York.

    "DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER:

     "I am coming home to kiss you both. I don't know but I shall
     kiss Tom, for he has written me all about it--I know it all--I
     know how you was brought in, and how you took the pledge, and
     how you have kept it, and how industrious you have been, and
     how you have saved your money, and how you want to go to
     housekeeping again, and all about it--I know it all. Tom writes
     me every week. He is a good boy. Well, in two months I am
     coming down. You need not look for me before, and then, if you
     want me, I will come and live with you."

"If we want her! Did you ever hear the like? But, then, what is she to
do? She is a big girl now, and must not be idle. I wish she had a trade.
Every child ought to have a trade."

"Well, well, wife, let us have the balance of the letter."

"Yes, yes, go on; you need not mind what I say. Go on."

"Let me see; where was I? 'Come and live with you,' that's it."

     "And now I must tell you such a piece of news--good news. Oh,
     it was a good thing I came up here. I have got a trade--a
     trade that will support us all when you get so you cannot
     work."

"Heaven bless the girl, what is it?"

"Do wait, wife, and you shall hear."

     "It is a nice, genteel trade, too. Now we will take a house,
     and father will work at his trade, and mother will do the
     house-work, and I will work at my trade, and we shall live so
     happy."

"So we shall. But, dear me, why don't she tell what it is?"

"So she will if you let me alone. A girl must have her own way to tell
it; probably she will do that in a postscript."

"Well, read on. I am so impatient."

"Perhaps you would like to know what my trade is?"

"Why to be sure we should. Why don't she tell?"

     "So I will tell you. I am a stock-maker--those things the
     gentlemen wear round their necks. And it is very curious how I
     learned the trade. A lady from New York--oh, she is a
     lady!--came up here on a visit, and for work she brought along
     some stocks to make. She lives in New York. I believe she keeps
     a few boarders, and makes stocks. She is a widow lady, quite
     young, and very pretty, only she is in bad health; she has no
     family, only her uncle, who is an old bachelor--a nice old
     gentleman, who has adopted her as his daughter, and is going to
     give her all he has when he dies. She has no father and mother,
     as I have, and no brothers and sisters; nobody to love but the
     old uncle--he does love her, so do I. I did not at first. I was
     afraid of her. I thought she was some grand city lady; and she
     used to sit and sew in her room, only when her uncle--Papa she
     calls him, and he calls her daughter--'Athalia, daughter,' so
     sweet; is it not a sweet name? Her name is Athalia Morgan--"

"Morgan, Morgan--Athalia Morgan. I will warrant it is she. Don't you
remember, wife, that old Morgan, the great shipping merchant? his son
married a sewing girl, and his sister married George Wendall."

"Oh, oh, how singular! It was she that was talking when Maggie took me
into the temperance meeting that night, telling how her husband died.
And now Maggie has met with another of the family. And her husband must
be dead too."

"Yes, he died just as miserable a death as Wendall. Let us read on and
see what of his wife. I hope he did not drag her down with him as I did
mine."

"James, James, you are not to speak of anything that is past."

"Well, well," and he brushed away another tear and read on:

     "After she had been here a few days, our folks told her about
     me, and how I used to run the streets, and how I got into the
     House of Industry, and how they got me from there, and what a
     good girl I had been--yes, they did--and then Mrs. Morgan, she
     began to talk to me so kindly; and then I told her everything
     about myself, and some about you, and she told me a great many
     things about herself. Oh, it would be such a story to put in a
     book. And then she grew as fond of me as I was of her. And
     every day when I had my work done, and every evening, I used to
     be up in her room, and she showed me all about her work, and I
     used to help her, and now she declares that I can make just as
     good a stock as she can, and almost as fast. She can make eight
     in a day; when I help her, odd times and evenings, she can make
     twelve. Last week she made, with what I did, seventy-two, and
     put them all in a box. How nice they do look! That is
     seventy-two York shillings--nine dollars! And she says when I
     come home to live, she will recommend me--I must have a good
     recommend to get work--when I can get just as much such work as
     I can do. Oh, but she is a good woman! I guess you would cry
     though as much as I have, to hear her story. I will tell it you
     some day. Mrs. Morgan is going down to-morrow. I wish I was.
     But I cannot. In two months my time is up; then you will see
     me. Now, good night. Say 'good by' to Tom for me. Kiss mother,
     father, and ever love your

    "MAGGIE."

"Oh, James, something tells me that if she don't come before that, I
never shall see her. But you will be happy with her. You will live a
long life, I hope, for her to bless and comfort you in your old age. You
are not so old and so broken down as I am."

"All my fault, all my fault. If I had treated you as a rational man
should treat a wife, you would not be so broken down now."

"You must not look back. Look ahead and aloft. Think what a treasure of
a daughter you have got. How I should like to see her once more before I
go to my rest, and give her my blessing; and oh! how I should like to
see that blessed woman, that Mrs. Morgan. I want to bring her and Elsie
together, and make peace on earth as there will be in heaven, where I
hope to meet them both. They will soon follow. This life, at best, is
short. Mine will be, I am sure."

"Don't have such gloomy forebodings, wife; it seems to me that you were
never in better health."

"I know it, and never more happy."

This was on Thursday evening. On Saturday evening everybody was
astonished to see Maggie come bounding in, with a step as light and
quick as a playful lamb.

"Where's mother? Is she well? Has anything happened? Where is father? Is
everything all right with him?" were the questions she asked, in such
rapid succession that nobody could answer any one of them.

"Where is Tom? Is he well? Where is Mr. Pease and Mrs. Pease? Are they
well? Is mother in the kitchen?"

"Yes, yes, yes, yes, to the whole string."

Away she went, three stairs at a time, and then she almost overwhelmed
her mother with kisses and questions; and up she went to the third
story, and there was father in his room, reading the Bible. When had she
ever seen that before? The last time she saw him, he was so dreadfully
intoxicated that he did not know his own child, that was lifting him
out of the gutter. Now he was sober, well clothed, cheerful, and happy.
As she opened the door he read:

"Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling?
who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

"They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

"Look not thou upon the wine when it is red; when it giveth his color in
the cup; when it moveth itself aright.

"At the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.

"Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and--"

And he looked up, as his ear caught a little rustle of a woman's
clothes, and his eyes beheld a strange woman--a beautiful,
neatly-dressed young woman, with laughing, bright eyes and rosy cheeks,
and such a saucy little straw hat, so tastily trimmed--Mrs. Morgan did
that--and altogether such a lady-like girl, that he did not recognise
her, and he turned his eyes again to the book and repeated:

"Thine eyes shall behold strange women--"

"Father!"

The book dropped from his knees to the floor, as he sprang towards her.

"Am I so strange, father, that you did not know me?"

"Indeed, my daughter, I was afraid to speak; I did not know but a
strange woman had been sent to punish me, to 'sting me like an adder.'
Oh, Maggie, you don't know how I feel that I deserve it. And yet you are
so good. You are a strange woman. It is strange, passing strange, to
think that my daughter, my little neglected, dirty, ragged,
mischievous--"

"Wild Maggie, father."

"Yes, she had run wild; should be the lovely--you do look lovely,
Maggie--girl now in my arms. Oh, Maggie! Maggie! this is all your work."

"No, no, father; you must give the good Missionary his share of the
credit; and the good people all over the country who have sent him money
and clothes to feed and clothe the naked, and reform the drunkard. What
should we have been to-day, if he had not come to live in the Five
Points, father?"

"I should have been in my grave; a poor, miserable drunkard's grave; it
is awful to think where else I should have been."

"Well, well, father, you are happy now,"

"Yes, I am, and so is mother, and we shall be more so when we get a home
of our own, and all live together. Why, Maggie, why, who did dress you
up so neat?"

"Oh, my new friend I wrote you about, Mrs. Morgan--you got my
letter--yes--well, I do wish you could see her, she is such a good
woman."

So they talked on, and then the old lady came up, and then Maggie told
how they had arranged it all. On Monday, father was to see if he could
find a couple of nice rooms, and Maggie was going to see Mrs. Morgan,
for Mrs. Morgan's old uncle had told Maggie, that whenever she wanted to
go to keeping house, to come to him, she did not know what for, but she
was sure it was something good, for he was a good man, but he never let
anybody know what he did for poor folks, he did love to do things in his
own way. And Mrs. Morgan was going to write up to the people where she
lived, and if father and mother wanted her, they would let her come
before her time was up.

"Your father will want you."

"Will you, too? Do not you want me, mother?"

"I do not know, Maggie, I can hardly tell. Who can tell what a day may
bring forth. I am glad to see you; I have been praying all day, that the
good Spirit would direct your steps hither to-day."

"Did you pray that last night?"

"Yes."

"And this morning?"

"Yes."

"I thought so--I felt it, all night, all the morning, just as though a
little stream of fire was running through me, all over; now in my head,
now, in my heart, now in my very fingers' ends; now I started at a
whisper in my ear, that sounded just like mother, saying, 'Oh, Maggie!
Oh, that she would come! Oh, that I could see her once more!' and then I
felt as though I must come. I was afraid something was going to happen.
But now I find you all well, I see what a foolish girl I have been."

"No, Maggie, not foolish, not foolish; something tells me that you have
only obeyed the dictates of a good heart, guided by an invisible power.
But we will not talk about it any more now. I have arranged a place for
you to sleep to-night, for the house is very full, and we can scarcely
find beds for those we have, and there are applications for more poor
children every day. Do you remember that pretty little Italian beggar
girl, Madalina, that you used to go out with sometimes? She is going to
sleep in that little room, and you may sleep with her."

"Oh, mother, she is so dirty!"

"She used to be, she is not so now. She was so when she ran the streets,
just like another little girl."

"Oh, mother, I know who you mean, but I did not know that she had been
improved."

The next day, the father and mother and daughter were sitting side by
side in the chapel, and it was the remark of more than one, "Oh, what a
change!" "Is it possible that that is old drunken Reagan and his wife,
that used to live in that Centre street cellar, and that that is 'Wild
Maggie?' What a change! Why she is real pretty, and so bright, and so
affectionate--see how she looks out the hymn for her mother; and now
they all kneel together. Well well, that is better than all drunk
together."

After morning service, Mrs. Reagan went into the kitchen to assist about
dinner.

"I cannot tell how it is," said she, "but I feel as though this was the
last meal I shall ever eat with my husband and Maggie; perhaps I shall
not eat this."

She never did.

Half an hour after that, the house was in wild commotion. "Where is Mr.
Reagan?--where is Maggie?--call the doctor!--oh, dear!--oh, dear! Mrs.
Reagan is in a fit."

It was a fit which all must have sooner or later. Her forebodings, from
whatever cause they came, had given her prescience of her death.

The husband and daughter were soon kneeling over her where she had
fallen upon the floor, vainly trying to revive animation. The physician
vainly essayed his skill.

"It is too late. My mother is in heaven."

"It is certain she is in the hands of God, and she died with a blessing
on her lips for her child," said one of the women who were present when
she fell.

"What did she say, Angeline?"

"Sally, how was it? you heard it best."

This is drunken Sal and old Angeline, whom you have seen before. They,
too, are inmates; sober, industrious ones, of the House of Industry.

"She said, 'Oh, God, forgive me all my sins! And my husband, forgive
him, oh, Lord! as I do. Margaret, oh, God! I thank thee for sending her
to see me once more--God bless as I do my dear Maggie. I die in peace, I
die--dying--hap--Oh!' and she fell forward; I caught her in my arms, and
laid her down gently, but she never breathed again."

"Oh, mother, mother, are you dead, dead, dead! Will you never, never
speak to your Maggie again? Oh! it is so hard to part with you now, just
as we were going to be so happy, and all live together."

"Yes," said Angeline, "and that reminds me to tell you that she said
just before she died, but I thought she was talking wild like, that if
she did not see you again, that I must tell you not to go back to
Westchester, but you must be sure to stay with your father, he would be
so lonesome when she was gone."

The poor husband was lonesome; he already felt it. Then he felt what
blessings he had left. He had good health and strength, and a most
affectionate good child to comfort him in his old age. And then he
poured out such a prayer, as all ought to hear who lack courage to go on
in the glorious work of lifting up the fallen, and giving strength to
the feeble, and forgiveness to the erring. The day closed in sadness,
yet there were some who witnessed the sad scene who felt that "it is
good to be afflicted."

The next day after these events I was in Greenwood Cemetery, that lovely
resting-place for the dead. It is a landmark in this progressive age,
that shows the good fruits of an improved state of society. If any of
the readers of these Life Scenes, are curious to know what becomes of
the falling leaves of this great forest of human beings, let them go
over the Brooklyn South ferry, and follow some of the score of mourning
trains that go every day to put away some dead trunk, or lopped limb, or
twig, leaf, or flower, perhaps nothing but a bud, which they will plant
in earth to blossom in heaven; and they will see where a portion of the
fallen go to decay. It is a place for a day, not of gloom, but sweet
meditations, such as does the soul good.

I was meditating over a late made grave. It was by the side of one
almost old enough to be forgotten, and yet the number of years since it
was made were very few, and very, very short. There was a rose bush
growing at the head, but I saw through the green leaves the name of
"Morgan, Æt. 62." I was not curious to know what Morgan, for my thoughts
were far away. I did wonder, it is natural to do so, if that was Mrs.
Morgan by his side, and if they had always lain so quiet, without words
of contention, or "Caudle Lectures." My doubts were soon to be solved,
for now came a cart and a couple of stone setters. How quick, and how
carelessly they work; now the hole is dug, now they lift the little
stone out of the cart, now they set it upright, now they fill in the
dirt around it, now they give a few stamps with heavy boots just over
the head of the sleeper--he hears them not--now the stone is planted,
now they jump into the cart, slash the whip, and curse the poor old
horse for his laziness, and rattle away with a whistle and merry glee.
Now we can read the name on the new stone. Ah, it is not his wife--it is
"Walter Morgan, Æt. 27." His son--perhaps, an only son--how soon he has
come after his father. It is a common name, or I might moralize farther
upon what I know of that name. I am interrupted, and walk off a little
way and turn to look again. A fine, benevolent looking gentleman--faces
do look benevolent--is getting out of a carriage. He is about the age of
the elder Morgan. His brother, perhaps. Now, he lifts out a rose bush,
in bloom, in its little world, all its own, in an earthen pot. Ah, ha!
that is to be planted at the new stone just put in its place. Now he
lifts out a lovelier flower. It is a young widow. Fancy is at work now;
it says, "Is she pretty?" We are too far off to discern features, but we
can think. We do think that a widow who comes to plant a flower at her
husband's grave, is a flower of a woman, let her face be what it may.

So I sat down with pencil in hand, writing, "Musings at the Tomb." I had
just written, "Benevolent old gent and beautiful young widow," and was
going to add, rose bush planted at husband's grave, and all that sort of
thing, when somebody slapped me on the back--that knocks out the
sentimental--with a clear hearty expression of, "my old friend."

"Why, Lovetree, is this you? Athalia--Mrs. Morgan, I should say."

"No; always call me by the name you first knew me by."

"Then I should call you Lucy."

"No, no, not that, not that."

"Forgive me, but I did not intend to call up unpleasant reminiscences.
Ah, what have we here? A little train of mourners, with a tenant for
that open grave. See, that is the Missionary from the Five Points."

"And, oh, uncle, that is Maggie, our little Maggie from up the country.
It must be her mother. Yes, it is, for she takes the arm of a man with a
crape on his hat--it is her father. Her mother has her wish. He will
drop a tear at her grave. See, he does; his handkerchief is at his eyes.
Oh, it is a sad thing for a husband to follow the wife he has lived with
forty years, to such an end as this. Poor Maggie, how she weeps. I must
go and see her as soon as the ceremony is over. Suppose, uncle, that we
take them in our carriage home with us, it will not be quite so
melancholy as it will be to go back to the house of death."

"So we will, and then I will arrange the plan for them to go to
housekeeping together. I have already got a place in view."

So they met, and so Athalia said, "Come with us."

And so they went. Maggie looked upon it as another remarkable
interposition, or something, at any rate, that she could not account
for, that Mrs. Morgan should have felt impelled to come over here
to-day, of all other days, and that they should meet so singularly;
"for," said she, "fifty different parties might be riding about among
these hills, and dales, and groves, looking at this lonely poor grave,
and at that twenty thousand dollar monument, and yet no one know that
the other was so near. Well, it is a place where all must come. I hope
we shall all meet our friends as happily as I have mine to-day."

So they went home with Mrs. Morgan, and three days after they went to a
house of their own.

You have already seen how they were able afterwards to say to others,
"Come with us," when a houseless widow and her two children stood in the
street the night of the fire--the night that rum and its effects made
Mrs. Eaton a widow.

Perhaps you would like to see the benevolent gentleman that clothed the
naked after that fire? You have seen him. Turn back a leaf and look at
him again as he lifts that rose-bush out of the carriage, to plant at
that grave. You did not see him in the crowd at the fire, but he was
there, and heard his protégé say, "Come with us." He was just going to
say it, but he liked it better that Maggie had said it first. Then he
said to himself--it was one of his odd freaks of benevolence--I will
surprise the dear girl directly, and make her remember those golden
words to her dying day.

You have seen him. It was Athalia's uncle.

Who is Athalia?

Turn over. Read.



CHAPTER VIII.

ATHALIA, THE SEWING GIRL.

     "How full of briars is this working day world."

    "With fingers weary and worn,
      With eyelids heavy and red,
    A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
      Plying her needle and thread."


Athalia wore not unwomanly rags at the period when I shall commence her
history. She was clad in the garb of a country girl, just arrived in the
city, in the full expectation that fortune awaited her, just as soon as
she could learn the trade of a dress-maker. Oh, how she worked, and
laughed, and sung! She was the life of the shop. Sometimes she thought
of home--home where mother was--and then she wept. But the sunshine of
youth soon sends the clouds and dew drops that dim the eye away to
forgetfulness.

Athalia was sixteen--sweet sixteen in face and mind. What a bright blue
eye, what soft brown hair, what wit, and oh, what a voice in song! and
such a heart, 'twas tuned for others' woes, and not her own.

Why comes this mountain flower from her country home?

Her father was a farmer--ah! _was_--would be still, only that he had
swallowed his farm. The mortgage to the store at the cross roads, the
damage paid in a law suit for a fight, and the cost of throwing his
neighbor's horse down his well, had left him without a home for himself,
and so his children went forth into the world to seek bread; the
daughter, of course, by the needle, the sons at sea.

Athalia chose the city. How little she knew the danger. She would have
shuddered to see a man sit carelessly down upon a powder keg with a pipe
in his mouth. Not half so dangerous is that, as for a young country
girl, with a beautiful face, to come here.

Oh, how she worked one whole year to learn her dress-maker's trade,
without one cent of compensation. Such is the law. The law of custom
with milliners' apprentices.

Then she went home. How joyfully her mother opened her arms; how sweet
was that kiss--a loved mother's kiss. Did she love her father? How could
she love a man who often cursed, and sometimes beat that mother? She
went home to stay, to ply her new trade among her old neighbors. How
could she love her father when he would not let her stay, and, like a
drunken brute as he was, drove her back again to the city?

"You have learnt a city trade, and you have got city airs; nobody wants
you here."

It was not so. Everybody wanted her there but her miserable father.
Everybody else loved Athalia. They saw no city airs; all they saw was
that a rough diamond had been polished. What is it worth without?

So she came back to the city with a heavy heart. What was she to do? She
could go back to her old shop and work eighteen hours a day, for
twenty-five cents, and scanty food; lodging, as she had done during her
long year of apprenticeship, three in a narrow bed, in a room with just
air and space enough for the decent accommodation of a cat, nothing
more. What hope in such a life? What would she have at the end of the
year? Just what she had at the beginning? No; for one year of youth
would be gone.

She could not go back; there was no hope there. So, with another girl
just as poor, but just as willing to work, she took a room, and took in
work, or went out to do it. Then how she was exposed, how in danger.
Libertines live in genteel families. Ah, and are pet sons of mothers who
would give dollars to dissipated rakes, and grudge shillings to poor
dress-makers. And if the poor girl should be caught in the snare of such
a son, how the mother would rave and drive her away unpaid, because she
had disgraced her "respectable boy."

Mrs. Morgan was one of Athalia's lady "patrons." Haughtily proud, yet
not, like some of her class, positively dishonest, cruelly dishonest.
She wanted the labor of the poor sewing girl, because she possessed
great taste, and could dress her daughters better, and what was still
more, though so little practised by the rich, cheaper, than she could
get their dresses at a "regular establishment." That was just what the
daughters most disliked. They knew that none of their acquaintances wore
such neat-fitting dresses, but when the question was put, "Where did you
get them made?" they could not answer, "Oh, we always get everything at
Madame Chalambeau's fashionable establishment in Broadway."

They could not change their mother's policy, and so they determined to
drive poor Athalia out of the house.

They had another object. Athalia was beautiful. Her face was such as we
are apt to conceive that an angel must have. And everybody who came in
the house while she was there, and saw her, said, "Oh, what a sweet
face!"

This was gall and wormwood to the "young ladies," for their faces were
just such as you would suppose were made out of those two ingredients,
and they were true indications of their minds. So they hated the poor
seamstress for double cause.

At first she came to the table with the family. But the girls could not
help observing that she was the diamond, they the setting, to all eyes.
She was better bred than they, with all their boarding-school education.
Where had she got it? In a country school house, and her mother's
kitchen.

Once, once only, after tea she was invited to sing. Who supposed that
she could touch a piano note. She accepted the invitation, as all
well-bred girls do, who know that they can sing, and Walter offered his
arm to lead her to the piano.

Walter was the brother, the only "son and heir of our family." He had
just returned from a lady-killing Niagara tour, and met Athalia for the
first time at the tea table. It was the last time, the sisters said,
that he should meet her there. She went home that evening; she had
finished her job and received her poor pay. That was one of Mrs.
Morgan's virtues; she paid the stipulated price to those who worked for
her.

What daggers, scorpions' stings, and poisoned darts, poor Athalia and
Walter would have felt, while he stood over her at the piano, if they
could have felt the glances of scornful, angry eyes. How he was taken to
task afterwards for paying attention to "a sewing girl," particularly
for waiting upon her home.

How he justified himself. Just as though there was need of it. But
aristocracy had stept down to the level of one who

    "Plied her needle and thread,
      In poverty, hunger, and toil;"
    Who sang with a voice of saddening song,
      Of the home on her own native soil.

    Of the spring and the brook where it flow'd,
      Of the plums and the pears where they grew,
    Of the meadows and hay lately mow'd.
      And the roses all dripping with dew.

    And her heart it went journeying back,
      While her fingers plied needle and thread,
    Till the morning came in at a crack,
      Where it found her still out of her bed.

    Shall I ever work thus like a slave,
      With the scorn of the rich and the proud?
    For they think that a seamstress must crave
      For the work that is making her shroud.

Walter justified, apologised, for he was bound in the iron fetters,
"polite custom."

"I found," says he, "when I came home, a beautiful, well-dressed,
well-behaved girl, to all appearance a young lady, at your tea table."

"Well, she shall never come there again. I always told mother that she
might know better than to bring her to the table; and the pert minx, if
she knew her place, would never try to stick herself into genteel
company. So much for having a dress-maker in the house."

"Elsie, Elsie, I am ashamed of you."

"I think you had better be ashamed of yourself, mother."

"I found her," resumed Walter, "at your table, and I took the only
vacant seat, by her side. I did not find her pert, but on the contrary,
I must say it, better behaved, better spoken, than my sister Elsie, when
speaking of or to her mother."

"You had better insult me, by your comparison, Sir Walter."

"No; I do not intend that. But I was only explaining why I paid
attention to the lady."

"The lady--lady! That to a sewing girl who goes out to work by day's
work. Did you learn that at college or at Saratoga?"

"I have learned to call every female lady, who looks, acts, and talks
like one. I hope my sister Elsie will not unlearn me. I found the lady
at your table. I found her polite and diffident. She is not a forward
minx. I walked with her to the parlor."

"Yes, and she should have known better than to go there. Why did she not
go back to her work?"

"Elsie, she had done her work, and was waiting for your father to come
home, so I could get some money to pay her; for I should be ashamed to
keep her out of her money, or oblige her to call again. You had spent
all the change I had in the house in your afternoon shopping. It was me
that asked her to stay. It was me that asked her into the parlor. It was
me, your mother, that asked her to sing one of those plaintive, sweet
songs, I had heard her sing to the children while at work. It was you
that urged her. What for? That she might fail. Elsie, Elsie, there is
envy in your heart."

"And she did sing. Was ever anything sweeter? I can repeat every word,
for every note went down into my soul, and printed itself like the
magnetic telegraph. Listen:

    "Oh, I was born where waters leaping,
      Cascade down the green, green hill;
    Oh, I was born where lambkins bleating,
      Leap along the clear, clear rill.
    Oh, I was born where lightning flashes,
      'Luminate the green, green trees;
    Oh, I was born where the wild wind dashes,
      Raging o'er the deep, deep seas.

    "Oh, now I live amid confusion,
      Commerce wears an ugly frown;
    Oh, who would give that sweet seclusion,
      For all the pleasures of the town?
    Oh, how I love my native mountain,
      Hills and glens and all their flocks,
    Oh, how I love that sweet sweet fountain,
      Every tree, and all the rocks."

"Smitten--smitten--my brother Walter smitten with my dress-maker! Faugh!
I wonder if he went home with her, for he went out at the same time?"

Yes, he did go home with her. It was her first false step. But ye that
stand fast, do not censure this first step of her fall. She was young
and handsome; so was he. Theirs were such hearts as nature sports with.
Both were touched. He went home with her. They got into a stage at
Seventeenth street to ride to Broome, for there was the home of the
sewing girl. At Broome street he forgot to pull the check string. She
did not notice it till the crowd of cars, carriages, and swarms of human
beings, which fill up that great wide thoroughfare, Canal street,
awakened her, from her reverie of wild thoughts, to the fact that they
were already too far down. Before he could stop her she had pulled the
string, and the driver held up and looked down through his little peep
hole at his passengers, ready for his sixpenny fare, which he will
contrive to make seven cents, if he makes change for you.

Walter acknowledged that he did not mean to stop the stage; he wanted
Athalia to go to Taylor's, and take an ice cream with him. But she was
inexorable. He plead, she said, no; she said it sweetly, and, finally,
they compromised by her agreeing to go to-morrow evening.

The second false step!

Then he walked home with her. She said, good night, at the door, he
said, "Oh, let me see you up these dim stairs."

"Oh, no, I am used to them, I can find my room in the dark. If
Jeannette is at home, she will hear a little signal upon the wall, and
open the door, then it will be light."

"Give it then."

She did; Jeannette was not at home.

"Oh, let me go up, and just look in, and see where angels live."

Oh, flattery! thy power is great. Why should she refuse, since he was to
come again, she had promised that? So she said, "come up, then," and
away she tripped into the darkness, her step so light that he could not
tell where it fell. Directly there was a little scratch, a flash, a blue
flame, very small, and then a full white light, and a match, and then a
lamp was burning.

"Come up. Take care of the narrow, crooked steps, they are not like your
broad easy stair-case."

She had made another false step. Did far off visions of fancy revel in
her brain, that she might some day go up that broad stair-case, arm in
arm with that handsome young man? What if they did? you too have dreamed
more unlikely day dreams.

"Come up, can you see?"

Yes, he could see,

    "By the lamp dimly burning,"

just up there above him, one of the houris he had often read of, often
dreamed of, never before seen. He went up, to her little heaven of a
room. How could she sing that,

    "Commerce wears an ugly frown,"

while everything looked so smiling in her mart? How could she long for
the sweet seclusion of her country home, with such a bijou of a hermit's
cell here? He stood amazed. He spoke not, but he thought. Did she divine
his thoughts?--she answered them--how did she know them? The magnetic
telegraph of the soul was at work.

"Yes, sir, we are obliged to keep our room neat, because ladies come
here to get work done, and they would not give us their custom if we
lived in a plain room."

Plain room! What would his sisters say to a plainly furnished room, if
that was not one?

"True, it is plainer than theirs--I mean--but you did not speak--I
thought you spoke--yes it is plain compared with rooms that ladies
occupy. We pay enough though for the furniture to have good."

"Do you hire it then?"

"Yes, we neither of us had money enough to furnish a room, only a few
things, and pay the rent in advance. So we hired a furniture man to put
in the things, and we pay him for the use of them."

"How much?"

"Five dollars a month."

"Five dollars! Why there is not over a hundred dollars worth."

"No, sir; that is just what it was counted at. They are all second-hand
articles. There is the bedstead; we furnished the bed and bedding; my
mother gave me that; Jeannette has no mother; and the table, and the
other little pine table, the bureau, the wash-stand, the six chairs,
the rocker, and the sofa; we made those ottomans, and the curtains; and
in that pantry----. Oh, I declare how I am running on."

"Pray, tell me, Miss----, I really have not learned your name yet."

"Athalia. I am sure you heard your mother call me that."

"Yes, but I was going to call you by your sirname."

"Lovetree, sir. Athalia Lovetree."

"Oh, that is a very sweet, pretty name."

"Yes, sir, so much so that I think I shall always keep it."

"So all the young ladies say. But it hardly ever proves true with one
who owns so pretty a name, and a face prettier still."

More flattery. She did not hear it. No. She felt it though.

"Well, I am very sure I never shall change my first name. I never shall
be called by any other than Athalia."

She thought so then; I wonder if she ever thought of it in after years?

"But you have not told me what is in that pantry."

"Oh, no matter; that is where we keep all our dishes and cooking
utensils. We have a stove in winter; in summer, a little charcoal
furnace behind the fire-board."

"And is your room warm in winter?"

"Why yes, sir, if we have plenty of work."

"Does work keep you warm?"

"Oh, no; but work gives us money to buy coal. There was a time last
winter, when we were out of work, that----"

"You had no fire?"

"Yes, sir, but only a few days, we had to make up the month's rent,
eight dollars for the room, and five for the furniture."

Walter put his hand in his pocket. What for? He felt how easy it would
be to take out a hundred dollars, and tell her, to go and pay for that
furniture, and not pay rent for it any longer. Then he thought how
ridiculous, to be so affected by the woes and wants of a sewing girl.
How his proud sisters would laugh at him. Pride conquered a heart prone
to a good action.

"And so you went without fire, to pay that usurious old miser who owns
this furniture, sixty per cent per annum, for the use of it. Sixty, yes,
more than a hundred upon what it would sell for at auction. And what did
you do for food in the meantime?"

"Well, we did not need much, and should not have suffered any, if Mrs.
Jenkins had paid me for my work. Oh, if she only knew how much we did
need it. Jeannette was sick, and what little money I had, I spent for
her; I had almost ten dollars due me for work, and could not get one. It
is wicked to keep poor girls out of their money; indeed it is, when they
are sick and suffering for it."

"And you suffered, while Mrs. Jenkins, with her thirteen servants, and
coach and horses owed you for work?"

"Well, we did not suffer much, except I had to pawn my black silk
dress, the very one too that I needed most when it was cold, and had to
do without fire when Jeannette was sick, and should, by all means, have
had one. She is a sweet, good girl; I wish she was at home."

"Wish again, and you will see her."

Both started as though caught in something they were ashamed of. Why
should they be? True he had approached very close to Athalia, as she
stood watering her flowers and feeding her bird--both windows were full
of flowers, and over each a canary bird; and he was watching all her
operations with as much interest as though they were all his own.

"Poor things," she said, "they look neglected."

She loved flowers. So did he. He loved their owner, but he had not said
so yet. He hardly knew it; he would not let any one know it; hence he
started when Jeannette spoke, for he thought she must have seen it. He
blushed and turned round, and then she blushed; there was a trio of
blushes. What for? Jeannette did not think it was a stranger. She
thought it was Charley Vail. Charley was a sort of beau, yet not a beau.
He was Jeannette's cousin; and though he did not love her exactly, he
liked her, and I guess that she liked him; Athalia thought more than
liked him. Charley would have loved Athalia if she had given him the
least encouragement, but she would not, for she hoped he would love his
cousin and marry her. He was a good fellow, always ready to do anything
on earth for "the girls"--in short he was Charley.

Jeannette blushed. She had reason to, for, thinking it was cousin
Charley--who else could it be, there in their room alone with Athalia,
in the evening--she tripped up behind him and gave him a good hearty
slap on the back. He turned around, she almost felt him hugging and
kissing her, but he did not. She looked again, the light now shone in
his face, and there she stood before a stranger. Is it any wonder she
blushed? is it any wonder he blushed? is it any wonder they all blushed?
She played with her bonnet strings; he twirled his hat; Athalia could
not play with any thing. She had the lamp in one hand, and the bird cage
in the other. But she could laugh, and she burst out in such clear,
musical tones, as she said, "Why, Jeannette, did you think it was
Charley?"

That explained the whole. He understood the blow now. Did he also
understand what Charley would have done, if it had been him that got the
blow. Perhaps he thought, for he said, "You have struck me, miss. I
never take a blow without giving one back. There."

Did he strike her? What! strike a woman! Shame! Oh, no; but he caught
her in his arms, before she could be aware of the movement, and such a
kiss! such, a good, hearty kiss as he gave her. Ah, well! who would not?
She was a nice, sweet girl, not quite so pretty as Athalia, but one that
a colder heart than his might relish in just such a case. She pouted a
little, and talked about great liberty in a stranger; but who took the
first liberty? True; but "that was a mistake."

"Then count the other a mistake too."

"No, that was done on purpose."

"So it was, and I should like to do it again, but I will not, so rudely.
Pray forgive me."

What had she to forgive? what to be angry about. How could she hold out
against that, "I should like to do it again?"

After all she was not half so angry as Athalia. And what was she angry
about? That he had kissed Jeannette instead of her? Take care, little
heart, jealousy is creeping in among thy pulsations. Take care, big
heart, for just now Charley enters the scene, and before he has observed
that a stranger is in the room, he has kissed Athalia.

Mischief has broke loose to-night. What is in the men? What is in Walter
Morgan, that a kiss given to that girl, for the first time seen that
night, should send a pang to his heart? How it goes throbbing through
every nerve, and pricks into the very core of sensation. Take care, big
heart and little heart, nature is at her sports and she always makes
pleasures sweet by contrast with pain.

Finally, all are reconciled. How they do laugh over the queer mistakes.
Jeannette would have sooner struck a bear than him, yet he did not bite
her. Charley would have sooner kissed that same bear, and risked the
hug, than have kissed Athalia before a stranger, for he is a good boy, a
little mischievous, but would never do a thing to hurt the feelings of
another, particularly a woman.

How they did sit, and talk, and laugh, and enjoy happiness, such as
Walter had never found in rose-wood furnished parlors. What would his
proud sisters say, if they knew how "low he had sunk himself, to keep
company with sewing girls?" But he would not tell them. Take care, young
man, you are breaking in upon the conventionalities of life. You must
stick to your _caste_, in America as well as India. You may lay your
heart at the feet of anything that is old and ugly, even as your
sisters, so that she is _ton_ and of the _ton_--the upper _ton_. But
offer to love one who lives, barely lives, by her needle, and see how
your own flesh and blood will hate you.

So passed the evening away. Then Walter would go. But he wanted to hear
Athalia sing once more. No. She had no piano. His hand was in his pocket
again. How he would like to send her one to-morrow, but he dared not say
so. He did look around the room, to see where he could set it. There was
no room. She could not sing any more to-night. Ask Jeannette. She sings
a beautiful little song while we are at work. No, she could not. She was
afraid to sing before strangers. But Charley asked her, in his blandest
manner, and then she would sing one verse if he would go right home. How
anxious she was to get rid of him. So she sung:

    "Why bitter life with useless tears,
      With mourning unavailing?
    Why bitter hope with ceaseless fears,
      Of shoals where we are sailing?
    With lively song and music peals,
      Make life just like the ocean,
    When flapping sails a zephyr steals,
    To toss us with its motion,
                Motion, motion, motion.
    To toss us with its motion."

"There now, I hope you are satisfied. If not you may go, for I shall not
sing another word to-night. I don't know how I came to do that."

No, they were not satisfied. Who ever knew a man that was? Who ever got
one favor of a woman, that did not ask for two more? So they both asked
both the girls to go to the theatre to-morrow night, and both promised.

More false steps. How many will it take to reach the end?

Walter went home, never more happy. You have seen how he was taken to
task. He had defied the laws of caste.

It did not require stronger Argus eyes than his two sisters possessed to
see how deeply he was enamored with Athalia. How they did wish they knew
whether she had dared to look up to him, as he had down to her. How
should they find out. It does not take mischief-makers long to contrive
their plot. If one woman wants to ruin another one, there is one always
ready to assist her in her wicked design. No doubt he was the father of
millinery, for he caused the first apron to be made, and he has assisted
largely in all the designs of female apparel from that day to this.
Sometimes his fashion is very fig-leafish, barely hiding a portion of
the body, while the limbs, head, neck, shoulders, and other
"excitements," are left exposed to Adam's rude gaze. Then he contrives
his fashion of so much cloth, that those who follow it may lose their
souls in its attainment, and those who make them may feel, as they

                      "Work, work, work,
    Till the stars shine through the roof,"
    That they are weaving a web with sin for the woof,
    "Till the brain begins to swim,
    Till the eyes grow heavy and dim,
    Sewing at once, with a double thread,
    A dress for the living and dead."

Mischief is always busy. It must be so with an envious wicked woman.

The Morgans changed their tactics, and adopted those more wicked than I
could invent.

They soon found that they wanted more dresses, and what was very
remarkable, they did not want to go to the French dress-maker. What
could be the reason? They had watched their brother; they had seen him
go to Athalia's; they had seen him in the theatre with her; they had met
them walking, arm in arm, in Broadway, "the shameless hussey;" and once
they had entered Thompson's, and walked upstairs to take ice cream,
"actually over our heads." Walter Morgan, the richest merchant's son, in
New York, gallanting a seamstress--their own dress-maker. And every day
some of their acquaintance were asking them, "Who is that beautiful girl
I saw with Walter?" Of course they did not know; how could they tell
that he had taken up with "such a thing?" In vain they talk to him, he
was mum, or if he spoke of her, it was with the highest respect. Would
he marry her? Ah, there was the rub.

"It is a pity," said Elsie, "that he would not ruin her, and that would
be the end of it."

Did a spirit furnish that cue, or was it a wicked woman's own conceit?
At any rate, it was a cue upon which they acted. Athalia was sent for,
and the young ladies never were so affable before. Every opportunity was
contrived for Walter to accomplish the purpose of a villain. Their
schemes had the exact contrary effect desired. He had made such advances
at first as "men about town" do make, and had met with such a decided
repulse, not an angry one, but a virtuous one, that he never would try
again.

"I expected it," said she to his proposals, "I am used to it--I am
almost every day exposed to such tempting offers, to escape a life of
poverty--I have ceased to look upon them as insulting--nature, and
fashion, and the state of society, are such in this city, that a girl
with an unfortunate face like mine, must fall, unless she is possessed
of such fortitude as but few young girls are naturally gifted with. You
may ask me that question every day; every day you may, if you feel like
wounding the feelings of a poor girl, repeat your question, and every
day you will get the same answer."

"Athalia, forgive me. Oh, forgive me; I never will repeat the question
again; whether you forgive me or not, you need have no fear of that."

What a failure then had his sisters made. They did just what they did
not intend to do; they led Walter to think, that his family would
approve a match with one so virtuous, so beautiful, so lovely, even if
she was a sewing girl, and he began to build castles in the air upon
this foundation. They were very sandy, and a storm was approaching that
would soon beat upon the frail walls, and like all such fabrics, down
they will tumble.



CHAPTER IX.

ATHALIA, THE SEWING GIRL.

    "One sorrow never comes but brings an heir,
    That may succeed as its inheritor."

    "Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
    So horrid, as in woman."


Marriage, death, bankruptcy, poverty, sin, and, finally, "plucked like a
brand from the burning," are the contents, the introduction, and
peroration, of this chapter. If you are satisfied at a glance, you can
pass on, the filling up, is but the shading of the sketch. But if you
are curious to know who marries, who dies, and who does worse--read.

"It is but a step from the palace to the tomb," yet the road sometimes
seems a long and dreary one, leading through strange, dark places.

I have come to the conclusion, that lovers of romance, and those who
cater for them, writing tales of fiction, have mistaken their vocation.
Let them gather up and detail a few of the incidents of real Life Scenes
as they occur, and there will be no occasion for fiction. So let us on
with our narration of events.

Mr. Morgan was a merchant, wealthy as Croesus, perhaps more so; and he
had more need to be, for he lived "up town," in "up town" style. The
simple interest upon the cost of his house and furniture was seven
thousand dollars a year, and his annual expenses double that sum.

Of course his daughters had never taken a stitch in their lives. They
had been to school, where nothing useful is taught; and learned what is
called music, and could waltz to perfection. Walter, had been to
college. What had he learnt? To drink a bottle of wine every day after
dinner, and "fill up," with mint juleps, sherry coblers, and brandy
smashes, the intermediate time. Not one useful thing had either of them
been taught, not one lesson in the art of self-support; all was
self-indulgence. They laughed, or would have laughed at the idea, if any
one had dared to mention it, that the time would ever come, that they
would have occasion to lift a hand to procure their own bread.

It is a bad school--it has many scholars.

Mr. Morgan came home one day in unusual glee; he was naturally a stern
man. He had heard of the very successful voyage of the Matilda--named
after his daughter--to China, where she would load with teas and silks
for a home voyage. She was insured in a very rich London office. Some of
his cautious friends advised him to "hedge," by insuring also in other
offices; he had never met with a single loss in his life; he had often
been his own insurer, and took about half the value of the Matilda now
on his own insurance book, which showed a great many thousand dollars in
his favor.

"Yes," said a Paul Pry, of my acquaintance, "more thousands than he is
now worth, if his debts were paid."

Who believed it? Not the banks, which loaned him any amount he desired.
Not the wife, and son, and daughters, for that stern husband and father
never told them of his business.

"That is my business," was the cut-off valve which always shut down upon
every question as certain as that of the steam engine at the point where
it must change the motion.

After dinner and the second bottle, the family were startled by the
sudden announcement he made for to-morrow.

"We start for Lake George to-morrow morning; come, get ready."

"Why, father, what has started you all of a sudden?"

"That's my business."

"Well, we cannot get ready, no way in the world."

"Pshaw! I could get a ship ready before ten o'clock."

"But we cannot get new hats."

"Plenty of time. Start right out."

"To-night? Buy a hat in the evening, who ever heard of such a thing?
What would Mrs. Grundy say?"

"Ask her, she is going with us; or rather, we are going with them.
Grundy is in shoal water, and wants to get out of sight a few days; and
I want he should, for I am on his paper heavy."

"Oh, it is absolutely impossible for us to go to our milliner to-night."

"Go in the morning, then. Time enough."

"What? before ten o'clock. How vulgar you are, father."

"Very well: if you cannot get up new flying gibs, go to sea with the old
ones."

"Well, I suppose we might send for Madam Pantanosi to call in the
morning; but, dear me, there are our dresses all in the work-room, not
one of them done. You don't expect Athalia is going to finish them
to-night, do you?"

"Have you no others?"

"What if we have? the Grundys know that we have new ones making, and of
course, will expect to see them. You don't expect your daughters, I
hope, to wear old dresses, on a tour to the Lakes?"

"Why not? That is the place to wear them."

"You may talk, father, but it is out of the question."

"Well, settle it your own way. I go to-morrow, and if you are going with
me, you had better be getting ready; besides, let me tell you, young
Wendall is going up too. We are going to have some great sport,
fishing."

That decided Elsie. If George Wendall and the Grundys were going, she
must go, for he and Minnie Grundy needed watching. She would go, if she
wore the old hat, and a dress that had been worn twice before.

"Where is that seamstress? she must work all night, and get my dress
done any way."

"Elsie, daughter, she cannot do that, her eyes are very weak. You had
better take her along with us, the poor girl; give her a little country
air, and let her finish your dresses there."

"Yes, yes, that's it, wife, let her go along. She appears to be a right,
tight little craft. A sail will do her good. What a pity she did not
hail from the right port."

"You have very curious notions, father."

"That is my business."

"Well, for my part," says Matilda, "I think she can go just as well as
not; our maid and she can have a room together, and nobody need to know
that we have brought a seamstress along with us; if they did, they would
think it very vulgar. Of course, she won't come to the table with us, at
the hotel."

"No, indeed; I guess she will not; though, I suppose, we shall have a
private table; shall we not, father?"

"That is my business."

But as it was settled that she was to go, it was, finally, thought
necessary to tell her so, and she was sent for, and told of the
arrangement.

How could she go? How start so sudden? How leave Jeannette? She could
not go. Yet she would like to. Perhaps she never would have another
opportunity. She would go down and see Jeannette, and if she could go,
she would come up very early. Away she ran upstairs for her little straw
hat and black mantilla. Walter had been a "silent member" of the party.
What wild thoughts ran through his brain, when he found that Athalia was
to be one of the party. Did he dream of the shady walk, the moonlit
lake, and egg-shell boat, with only two in it, floating upon the glassy
surface of the water? Did he think that he should climb the rocks with
her, and wander through the ruins of old Ticonderoga? Yes, he did dream;
youth do dream. Did she dream, while she stood before the glass, tying
her bonnet strings? What of? Of the hook that he would bait and put in
her hands, and the fish that would be caught. Fish! It is not fish alone
that young girls catch, when young men bait hooks for them, in wild
woods, and lonely glens, where mountain streams murmur soft music.

As she came down upon the steps, Walter was waiting there. What for? For
a poor sewing girl. He wanted, he said, that she should stop with him
and pick out a hat and some little articles, a toilet box, and sundry
conveniences or necessaries, to one on a journey, for his sister
Matilda.

Oh yes, she would do that, with pleasure, if he wished it. He did wish
it. The selections were made with great taste and without regard to
expense. The hat was a little treasure.

What was that sigh for? Can a woman--a young girl--just on the eve, too,
of a journey to a watering place, see such a hat shut up in its paper
case, without a sigh? It is more than human nature ever could do.
Athalia is human, and that hat is just such a one as she would like
herself. She is too poor. So she sighed and went home.

"Shall I send it?"

"Let it be until I return, and then I will give directions."

It is no matter what Walter said to her on the way home, but she had
determined to go with the Morgans, to Lake George, and so she told him.

"Good night then, I must go home and get ready, you know what the word
is with father--'that is my business.'"

He had a little other business. He went back to the store, and gave the
necessary orders about the purchase.

"Would the lady be kind enough to write a little note that he would
dictate, and put it in the bonnet box?"

"Certainly, anything to oblige the gentleman. Was that his sister? His
cousin perhaps? Well, she is very pretty, at any rate. Was that her
name? What a sweet name."

What sweet words to Walter. How we do like to hear those we love spoken
of in such words.

How Athalia busied herself getting her few things ready. What she
lacked, Jeannette, the good soul, lent her. She never thought how lonely
the room would be for the two or three weeks she would be away.

"I wish I had a few dollars to spare, Jeannette, I certainly would go
and buy just such a hat as I picked out this evening for Matilda Morgan.
It was very pretty. And Walter, he admired it too. He said it was so
tasty, when I tried it on, to let him see how it looked."

Just then there was a rap at the door.

"Oh there comes cousin Charley."

No, it could not be Charley, it was a little rap. The door was opened,
and there stood a little girl with a bandbox and bundle.--It is a shame
to send such little girls out late in the evening with such heavy
bundles.

"Does Miss Lovetree live here?"

"Yes."

"Then this is the place."

"Oh dear," says Jeannette, "more work. Who can this be from? Why,
Athalia, what is the matter, you look amazed?"

"I am amazed. Is there no mistake in the direction?"

"No, it is Miss Athalia Lovetree. No.--Broome street, up-stairs."

"Oh! I cannot take it, indeed I cannot. Accept such a present from him?
No, no, no."

He had thought of that. Jeannette by this time had the bandbox open. Did
woman ever resist that temptation?

"Ah here is a note. This will explain the mystery."

     "TO MISS LOVETREE:--

     "As it is decided that you will go with us to Lake George,
     please accept a few things that you will need, which I have
     commissioned my son to buy.

     "From your friend,

     "MRS. MORGAN."

"Oh that is a different thing, if they come from her. And then for him
to pretend all the time that they were for his sister. It is too bad.
Oh, but it is a love of a hat though! is it not, Jeannette?"

Yes, it was; that was settled. First one tried it on, and then the
other. Jeannette said it was a _bride's_ hat. Athalia said she ought to
be ashamed of herself to say so. Then all the other little bijouterie
were overhauled, and looked at, and talked over, and praised, and then
the note was read again, and the postscript; there was a postscript,
there always is a postscript to a woman's letter. It was the postscript
that gave it the air of genuineness. It read:

     "P. S.--Don't say a word to me, or hint where the hat came
     from, for I don't want Mr. Morgan or the girls ever to know;
     nobody knows but Walter."

No, nobody knows but Walter. There was no fiction in that.

In the morning there was another rap--louder this time. It did not
disturb any sleep though; there had been none in that room that night.
It was John, come for the trunk and bandbox--two things that a modern
lady never travels without. There was a wagon load of them left the
Morgan and Grundy mansions that morning, and they and their owners all
arrived, in due course of cars and locomotives, at Lake George.

Mr. Morgan and George Wendall fished, the girls flirted, Athalia sewed
and sighed, and walked out evenings, slyly, with Walter Morgan.

More false steps. Sly walks in town are bad--in the country, dangerous.
There are a great many precipices, down which such a couple may tumble.

George was a glorious fishing companion for the shipping merchant. He
could row and drive, and get up all the fixings; and, after dinner,
talk, and laugh, and drink, till both went to bed "glorious."

"Mr. Morgan, you drink one bottle too many."

"Pshaw. What if I do? that is my business."

It is sometimes the wife's business.

George was a boon companion, that was all. He had nothing, did nothing,
lived somehow, dressed well--ill-natured folks said he did not pay his
tailor.

Who ever thought that he would be Mr. Morgan's son-in-law? He did, and
so had his daughter, Elsie, lately concluded, for the country air and
scenery are provocatives to that end.

"Ask father."

"Enough said."

He did. He took care to ask him just at the right time.

"Why, George, my boy, good fellow to fish. Did not think you had your
hook there. Got any bait? No. Well I have. Enough for both of us. I will
bait your hook, boy. That is my business."

"Thank you, sir. When shall it be?"

George knew the art of fishing with a fresh bait, and never losing sight
of the fish after he had tasted it, until he had him safe bagged.

"When shall it be? Now, now--right off to-night. Nothing like going to
sea while the tide serves."

He was a prompt man always. It was no use to say no, after he had said
yes, or, "that is my business;" so in half an hour after that, Elsie
Morgan was Elsie Wendall.

Of course more wine was drank, after which a letter was brought to him,
from his head clerk, marked, "Important--in haste." So Mrs. Morgan told
him.

"That is my business; take it up to my room. Do you think I am going to
read the stupid letters of old Precision at this time of the evening,
and my daughter just married?"

At ten o'clock next morning, after the mail had gone, he read:

     "Sir:--

     "We have advices by telegraph from London, just as the steamer
     was leaving port, of the failure of the London insurance
     office, in Which the Matilda is insured. She is now over-due,
     and not yet reported. Shall I insure her? Be sure to answer by
     first mail.

     "JAMES PRECISION."

How the bell did ring; how he stamped, and swore, and wrote, and yet he
could not send his letter till next morning.

"Why did not old Precision insure at once? Every dollar on earth would
be swallowed up if that ship were lost."

Simply because he was Precision, and the merchant, who had directed him
for forty years, had never given him leave to act, upon his own
discretion, in an emergency like this.

"That is my business," was the unvarying answer.

Two days after, he had another letter from his precise clerk. He did not
order it up to his room, to wait till next morning, for he was in a
tearing passion when it was handed him; and he felt as though he would
have opened it if the biggest rocks in that mountainous region had been
piled upon it.

What had so disturbed the rich merchant? Those who have them not, are
apt to fancy that, riches and happiness are handmaids. What was the
matter? His son, his only son, had just approached him, taking
advantage, as Wendall had, of a propitious hour, when wine had done its
work--he drank brandy since the news in that letter, and that fired, not
soothed him--he approached him with a beautiful sweet girl upon his arm,
to ask his consent to their marriage.

Mrs. Wendall screamed and fainted--that is, in appearance.

Matilda said,

"Why, Walter! to that girl--marry that thing--a dressmaker"

Mrs. Morgan simply said, "Walter, you have disgraced yourself and the
mother that bore you. And I never wish to see you again."

Athalia trembled and quailed before the storm of angry words and
envenomed looks that surrounded her. How gladly would she have escaped.
It was too late.

"Father, your consent."

"Never! You, my only son, marry a common sewing girl, never."

"It is too late. Here is my marriage certificate."

His father opened his mouth to curse him. What for? He had married a
girl he loved--a girl, handsome, virtuous, industrious, but poor--a
seamstress.

"A letter, sir;" said a servant.

"Give it me."

He tore it open and read;

     "SIR:--

     "Yours of the 12th inst. came too late. News reached the city
     an hour before that the Matilda was----"

He did not say lost. He looked it. He looked at his son and his poor
trembling little wife, as though he wished them both at the bottom of
the sea, with the Matilda and her cargo--all his fortune! He felt all
the envenomed bitterness that a violent natural temper can feel, when
heated and inflamed by drunkenness; for he was drunk, fashionably
drunk; but not so much so but he could feel how irretrievably ruined he
was, and that the failure to insure was occasioned by drunkenness, such
drunkenness as the highest class of society indulge in, when they take
an "extra bottle," after dinner, upon extraordinary occasions. He knew
the fault was all his own. He had said, when urged to open the letter,
an answer to which would have saved all, "that is my business."

It was a sad, sad business. That one more bottle had beggared himself,
and all that were dependant upon him. He had just married one daughter
to a man whose only qualification was "a good fellow," who could shoot,
fish, smoke, drink, drive fast horses, cheat his tailor, and the poor
widow boarding-house keeper, and, finally, take advantage of a besotted
old rich merchant, when he had drunk just to the point of
good-nature--when the indulger in strong drink feels like hugging
everybody and "all the rest of mankind,"--to get his consent for him to
marry his ugly daughter. It was a marriage of convenience, the
obligations of which he intended to keep just as many other such
obligations are kept in this city. All this ran through his mind upon
the electric telegraph of the brain. Flash after flash it went through,
and then came the heavy thunderbolt. He could have endured all the rest;
he could not endure that his son should marry a sewing girl. Why? His
father was a tailor, and he married a tailor's daughter, and he hated
everything that could remind him of his own needle-and-thread origin. He
hated her too, because she was so much more lovely than his own
daughters.

For five minutes he sat with the letter in his hand, glaring at that,
then at his wife and Matilda with a look of sorrow; then at Elsie and
her half-drunken husband, with contempt; then his eye came back with a
fixidity of hatred upon Walter and Athalia.

At length Walter ventured to break the awful silence.

"Father."

"Don't call me father again. I disown you, you poor milliner's
apprentice. Beggar! Don't speak to me."

Walter paid no heed to the order, but said mildly, "is the Matilda
lost."

"That is my business. Leave the room."

His sisters took up the cue.

"Yes, you had better go now. Go, and set up shop. You can carry home
dresses for your wife."

He came to that afterwards. Then Elsie's husband put in a word of
insult.

"I say, Walter, it strikes me, that is rather a costly topsail for a
beggar's wife. I hope she gets her bonnets in an honest way. Who pays
the milliners' bills?"

Walter raised his cane to strike the villain that could utter such a
vile insinuation upon the character of a virtuous girl, and would have
paid all his tailors' bills at one blow, but Athalia sprung upon his
arm, and held it down. His father either thought, or pretended to think,
that he raised his cane to strike him; probably not having heard the
remark of Wendall, and thinking only of his own wrongs. He seized a
bottle--a weapon that has knocked down its thousands--and sprang
forward to strike down his son. His arm was already up, a horrid oath
was struggling in his throat, his face turned black from the effects of
suffocation, he reeled, the bottle fell to the floor with a crash, and
he would have fallen down among the broken glass and spilt wine, but for
Walter, who caught him in his arms, and bore him from the room towards
his chamber. Athalia rushed out for a physician. It was too late!--Death
had already said, "That is my business."

       *       *       *       *       *

While these events were transpiring in the country, others of great
import to the rich merchant's family were enacting in the city.
Creditors are not slow when they see misfortune fall upon one, whom they
were ready to bow to yesterday, to tread upon him to-day. Creditors and
their ministers,--the judges, attorneys, sheriffs,--are all ready for a
share of the pound of the broken merchant's flesh. Shylocks still live,
and Antonios still fail.

That was a sad funeral cortége which accompanied the dead bankrupt back
to the city. Sad, not so much from sorrow, as wounded pride and fallen
greatness. It was sad to see the daughters of a dead father absolutely
refuse to travel upon the same train, with an only brother's wife. He
would not go without her, and so they went without him. It was night
when they arrived. They had despatched John in advance, to set the house
in order, and meet them at the depot with the carriage and a hearse. The
latter was there, the former was not, and they had to submit to the
indignity of a hired hack. At the house, all was dark. What could it
mean? "That villain, John, has got drunk again!" That was the fact. Who
taught him? He was only following the long-studied precepts of his
employer and lady, the young ladies, the young gentlemen, and all their
fashionable associates, in their fondness for exhilarating drink. Why
should he not get drunk?

They rung the bell angrily. It was a long time before it was answered.
Then a heavy footstep came down stairs--not up from the servants'
room--and approached the door, and opened the inner one, so that he
could see through the blind who demanded admission. A sharp-faced, keen,
black-eyed, weasel-looking man, with a chamber-lamp in his hand, and one
of Mr. Morgan's dressing gowns upon his back, stood before the
astonished family with the question trembling upon his lips, of "Vats
you vant here?"

"Want? we want to come in, to be sure, why don't you open the door? Who
are you? What are you doing here?"

"Vell, you can't come in. I is the sheriff's man, and he has put me
keeper here, and he tells me not to let anybody in without his order.
You must go to him. Vat you vakes me up for?"

And he closed the door in their faces, and they heard his heavy step
reverberating through the long hall, and up the broad stair-case, as he
went back to his lounge, "in my lady's chamber."

There were heavy hearts upon the outside of that door. The men had
brought the coffin up, and set it down upon the steps. The hearse and
hired hack had driven off. There lay the dead--he never would say, "This
is my business," again--the wine-maker might say so. Both were silent.
Neither would own his work. In the vaults of that house, three thousand
dollars worth--no, _cost_--of wines were stored. Fifty thousand dollars
worth of the richest rosewood and mahogany furniture, china, cut glass,
and silver ware, stood idle, while its late possessor lay in his coffin
upon the threshold, with his family standing around, vainly asking
permission to rest the body of the dead owner one night, in its journey
to the tomb. What should they do? Walter, if he had been there, could
have directed what to do. He was not. Then he was cursed in thought, if
not word, because he was not there.

"It is all his fault," said Elsie; "it was his abominable marriage that
killed father."

Where was her husband? She looked around for him. He had slipped away
"to get a drink." What a brute, she thought. So he was. That is what
going to "get a drink" makes of a man.

"We must go to Mr. Grundy's," said the widow.

How? The hearse and hack were gone, and could not be got back in an
hour. A passing cart was called, and the coffin of the millionaire
placed upon it, and the family followed, to knock at the door of a
neighbor's house, with the same results--to be answered by another
sheriff's officer, but who, by chance, happening to be an American, and
possessed of common sense enough to know that the dead would not steal,
and those who attended upon him would not be likely to do so, he opened
the door, lit the gas, called up one or two of the servants still left
in the house, and did a few other things that natural humanity dictates
upon such an occasion. An hour after, the Grundys themselves arrived, to
find their home in the hands of a "keeper," who had let in the Morgans
by courtesy, and now admitted them as mourning friends of the family.

Here, I draw the curtain. You have already seen the termination of a man
who could leave his young wife and her dead father standing in the
street, to go and "get a drink." It was him that died in the rat hole,
in Cow Bay. It was Elsie that told how he died, how she gave birth to a
child by the side of her dead husband, and how the rats sucked up the
life blood of that child.

You have seen Matilda, before. Turn back to a picture, in Chapter V.,
and look at her upon her wedding-day. It is needless for me to go with
you along the beaten path of her career, down, down, down, from
ball-room to bar-room; from house of----"a place to meet a friend"--to a
house of----"ladies' boarding-house"--to a house of common resort--the
abode of wretchedness, woe, sin, degradation, disease, and "painted
sepulchres"--from that to a low room, with "my man," and, finally, to
fill the picture in the Twopenny Marriage.

Let the curtain fall--the dead rest in peace.

Watch the living.



CHAPTER X.

ATHALIA, THE SEWING GIRL.

     "It is their husbands' fault, if wives do fall."

     "The weakest goes to the wall."


Walter came down on the train with the Grundys. They urged him to
"abandon his folly, and go home with them." They little thought they had
no home to go to themselves. He said, no; she was his wife, and he never
would leave her. He thought so then. If he had left the bottle, he never
would.

"Where shall we go, Athalia?"

"Come with me; I have a home."

So he went to her little room in Broome street. The door was fast, and
the room dark. She rapped, and was soon answered by Jeannette's voice:

"Who is there?"

"It is me."

What a world of meaning is in those three little words. How the memory
of many a wife will wander back into other days, when she heard a
midnight rap, and putting her head out of the chamber window, where she
had been "making a frock and rocking the cradle" all the early part of
the night; and how her heart palpitates at the answer to her half
spoken, half whispered question, "Who is there?"

"It is me," comes up to her ready ear in the open window. Down goes the
sash, for the wind might blow on "the baby;" they "have got a baby." In
a minute, oh half that time, "me" sees the light through the key-hole,
and hears a little step running down stairs. It stops an instant to set
the lamp on the table. What for? She could hold it in one hand, while
she unlocked the door with the other. Yes, but when the door is open she
will have work for both hands--both arms will be around the neck of
somebody.

"Heigho, for somebody!" I wish every loving heart had somebody; somebody
to say, "It is me."

"Wait a minute."

A little light flashed through the key-hole, then the bolt went back
with a click, then the door opened, a night-cap and white gown, a pair
of blue eyes, and some pale red curls, were seen a moment, and then a
very light scream, and Athalia and Walter were in the dark again. The
door was closed in their faces. Was she, too, shut out from her home?

"Open the door, Jeannette. Never mind your night-gown."

"Oh. I cannot; indeed I cannot. That is not all. Charles is here."

Charles there, at that time of night, and she in her night-gown! What
can it mean?

"Jeannette, what does it mean?"

"Now, don't go to being angry with me, Athalia." And she opened the
door a little way, and looked out. She had slipped on a wrapper, and
slipped off the night-cap. What is there in a night-cap, or night-gown,
that a lady should be ashamed to be seen in it?

"What does it mean, Jeannette?"

"Oh, now, don't go to being angry, Athalia, don't. Indeed I could not
help it, I was so lonesome after you went away--only think of staying
here all alone."

"Shame on you, Jeannette. And so because you were lonesome, you have
taken cousin Charles to sleep with you."

"Yes; why not?"

"Why not! why, Jeannette?"

"Why, Athalia, we are married. You don't think I would do it if we were
not, do you?"

"Married! ha, ha, ha! Come in Walter, you can come in now. We are all
married folks together. Ha, ha, ha!"

How her laugh did ring. She was anything but angry.

"Why, Athalia, you are only joking."

"No. I am in sober earnest."

How Jeannette did laugh, and hug, and kiss Athalia; and then she ran to
the bed, and there was a "kiss in the dark."

"Come, Charley, get up and see the bride. Come, we are all married folks
together."

"Oh, Jeannette, we must not carry on so with Walter now."

"Why not? Are we not all married? If we cannot carry on a little now, I
don't know when we should."

"Yes, but--"

"What?"

"Walter's father is dead."

"Oh, dear! don't say that."

"I must; it is true. And Walter must stay here to-night; how shall we
fix it?"

"Oh, that is very easy. There are two matrasses on the bedstead; we will
lay one down here--the bolster will do for pillows--there are some nice
clean sheets, and a spread. We will just take that side curtain and turn
it round, and pin it to the window curtain, and then you see how easy it
will be to have two beds and two bed-rooms. You and I will sleep on the
floor, and Charles and Walter shall sleep on the bed."

No; that would never do. Charles and Walter would both sleep on the
floor, and their wives should sleep where they always had, together on
the bed.

That the girls would not listen to. They were their guests, and they
must sleep on the bedstead--that was the state bed--the bed of
honor--Walter had never slept on the floor in his life. Then the men put
in their argument, and thus the question stood, until it seemed likely
that both beds would remain unoccupied. Finally, it was settled by
"compromise." Charley whispered Jeannette, and Jeannette answered aloud,
"Why not? So we will. Husbands and wives should sleep together. Always
together. What business has a man sleeping with anybody else?"--with
another woman she thought.

So it was settled how they should sleep. Then there was another
contention where, that seemed likely to be as interminable as the first.
Finally, Athalia settled it. She took Walter by the arm and said,
"Come," leaving Jeannette and Charley with the light, "because they were
married longer and were more used to it."

Walter was soon asleep. Athalia lay listening to a low conversation
between Charles and Jeannette, in which she caught, now and then, a
word. "The West--new country--log cabin--little farm--cows, and pigs,
and chickens--and a baby"--she thought that--and she thought how happy
they will be, and how much better off than here in the city. So she was
not at all surprised when Jeannette told her, in the morning, what they
had concluded to do. In three days they did it.

When I was in their little cabin, and heard from the lips of Jeannette
several things that I should not have known otherwise, I found that they
had realized all their hopes, for they had not built them high. And when
she found that I knew Athalia, how she did hang upon my arm, and insist
that I should stay all night, and sleep in the little bed-room where the
rose-bush I had so much admired, overhung the window, and tell her the
story, how she got along, and what became of her, and all about it.

Shall I begin at the beginning, or in the middle, or at the end?

"Oh, at the beginning, to be sure. Where is she now? Is she alive?"

That is it; you are a true woman. You tell me to begin at the beginning,
and then the very first question you ask is about the end. I see you are
impatient, and so I will gratify you. I will begin at the beginning of
the end, and finish in the middle. Athalia, poor girl, she is--

"Oh, don't say that--not dead!"

No, no; she is alive and very well, and almost as pretty as ever. She is
a widow, and lives in New York, and keeps a boarding house, and is
making a comfortable living.

"A widow! why, where is her husband?"

Why, where should he be? if she is a widow, he must be either dead or in
California; it is about all the same in New York.

"What did he die of?"

The same disease that kills nine-tenths of his class--rum!

"Oh, dear, and he such a fine young man. I would have married him
myself, if it had not been for Charley. Well, I have one great blessing;
if Charles is not so rich as Walter, he is as sober as a judge. Oh, I
forgot to tell you that he is almost one; he is Justice of the Peace.
But do tell me, did Walter leave her rich? The Morgans were very
wealthy."

Ah, I see now; Athalia never told of their failure, and how all their
wealth vanished like morning dew; that all those five dollar carpets,
thousand dollar mirrors, and single chairs that cost more than all your
neat furniture, were sold under the hammer to pay debts; and that Walter
had not a cent in the world, and that he lived a long time upon the
money which she earned, with,

          "'Work, work, work.
    From weary chime to chime,'
    Through many a day and many a night,
      'As prisoners work for crime;'

until she sighed and sung:

    "'Oh, for only one short hour,
      To feel as I used to feel,
    Before I knew the woes of want,
      And the walk that costs a meal.'"

"And did Walter do nothing?"

What could he do? He knew nothing--had never learned to do anything;
besides that, how could he take to any occupation, when he had always
been above work, and free from want. If his father had put him into his
counting-room with old Precision, he might have been a good bookkeeper,
and could now have had employment upon a salary. As it was, he was a
useless, worthless member of society. His father had been asked, if he
did not think of putting Walter into some situation where he would learn
to help himself, but his answer was, "that is my business;" and there
ended the matter.

Finally, after some months of idleness, supported by his young wife's
toil, a few friends concluded to advance him a thousand dollars, to go
South, where, as he thought, he could make a fortune; and if he got away
where nobody knew him, he could go into some sort of business. Athalia
went with him. They landed at Savannah, put up at the best hotel, four
dollars a day, and wine and cigars, upon an average, six more. It was
easy to calculate just how long a thousand dollars would last at that
business. Athalia pined in idleness; of course, a young "Northern
merchant's" wife could not use her needle in a city where a lady, of any
pretensions to fashion, would not help herself to a glass of water if
the pitcher stood at her elbow. A slave, always ready at her bidding,
must be called to wait upon "young missus."

It did not take Walter long to form new acquaintances; besides, he met
with several of his old college chums, and so it was a day here and a
night there, upon this plantation and that; of course, his pretty wife
was always welcome, so long as nobody knew that she was a sewing girl.
That secret leaked out at last, and then--

"What then?"

Then those who had courted and fawned around the rich merchant's wife,
and thought she was the prettiest and best bred woman, and most
intelligent, they had ever met with, and the most modest and most
amiable--

"So she was. I never saw her equal."

Nor they either--but then she was a sewing girl, when he married
her--perhaps never was married. That was finally annexed by envious,
malicious, jealous rivals, who felt her superiority, and how much more
she was admired by the gentlemen than they were.

All this came at last, by a true friend--a slave--to Athalia's ear. She
had felt the chilling change, and, finally, obtained the secret from her
yellow chambermaid. Her mind was instantly made up. That night she
packed her trunk; Walter, as usual, was out "attending to business,"
such as young men often attend to at midnight in some private back
room, sitting around a table, counting spots upon little bits of
pasteboard.

The steamboat would leave the next morning for Charleston. She waited in
vain for Walter, and then wrote a long letter, detailing all the facts
and giving ample reasons for her course, and begging him to abandon his;
to settle up what matters he had as soon as possible and follow her.
Then she laid down for a short nap, with orders to Mary to wake her if
Mr. Morgan came in, and if not, to call her in time for the boat at any
rate, and then to give him the letter. It was an impulsive step, but
that was her nature.

"So it was. She always thought and acted at the same moment; and almost
always right."

In one week she was back in her old room, which she had let temporarily
during her absence. In one week more she had an additional room and a
few girls at work for her at dress-making. She issued her little card,
sent it around to old customers, and got some new ones, and all the work
that she could do.

In three months she had ceased to pay rent for furniture; she had bought
and paid for it, and was making weekly deposits of little sums in the
savings bank. Then her husband came back. Where his thousand dollars had
gone you may judge, when I tell you that Athalia had to go and redeem
his trunk, retained on board a brig for his passage. He could not go
himself for it, he was sick; with what complaint you may easily judge; I
shall not tell you, as he did not tell his wife, until she too was sick,
and in her ignorance, neglected to call a physician, until so bad that
she was laid up from work, and of course lost custom. How her little
store melted under this accumulation of expense! Finally, they got
agoing again, and she persuaded him to get into some kind of employment.
What could he do? There was but one "genteel"--mark the word--business
that he knew of. He became a bar keeper. He had one regular customer. It
was Walter Morgan!

Down hill is an easy road. He took it.

Athalia soon found some of her best customers dropping off.

"What was the cause?"

There were two. In the first place Walter had been the means of getting
a notorious courtezan to give her custom to his wife. He brought her
there and introduced her as Mrs. Layton, formerly of South Carolina, now
living with her nieces and daughter in this city. She used to come
often, always in her carriage, with liveried servants.

Once Athalia rode home with her to fit a dress to "a sick young lady,
that boarded with her." She found that Mrs. Layton lived in an elegant
four story house, near a church and in a very respectable neighborhood
in a fashionable street.

Her rooms were furnished with a degree of splendor almost equal to the
Morgans. Little did she suspect the character of the house, particularly
as her husband had introduced her there.

But there was another cause why she lost her best customers. In a
fashionable soirée, to which Walter still found his way occasionally,
when questioned by a score of his old acquaintances, with whom he used
to flirt, and every one of whom were envious and jealous of Athalia,
they rallied him most unmercifully upon his marriage with a sewing girl,
and then the base cowardly wretch--rum makes such of gentlemen--declared
upon his honor that he was not married. It was only a marriage of
convenience.

"A mistress--a mistress--oh! that alters the case. And only to think we
have been getting the shameless thing to make our common dresses. Well,
I never will go near her again."

"Nor I. Nor I. Nor I."

"And that accounts for what I heard the other day, that she was seen
riding home with that Madame Layton, who keeps a house of assignation in
---- street."

"How did she know that she kept such a house!"

It was Matilda Morgan, that said it. She had been there.

The train once lighted, which fires the dry prairie, how it sweeps on
before the wind. It little regards who stand in the way. As little
regards the slanderer, and as rapidly spreads the fire of a scandalous
tongue, devouring its victims with a consuming fire.

Athalia was a victim. The man who should have been her shield, had
himself thrown the first dart. It had been more envenomed by a pretended
female friend, who had told her all that he said. She could have
forgiven him everything else, she would not forgive him that. Things now
looked dark. She was obliged to look for work among a class of
customers where nothing but the direst necessity would have led her. Her
husband had tended bar, until his employer found that he drank up all
the profits. Now he was drinking up the hard earnings of his wife. Then
he began to stay out nights. Where, she could only guess. One day she
sent him to pay the rent. It was the last money she had. About a week
after, the landlord called for it. He had not seen Walter, had not been
paid, and was very sorry for her, but he must have the rent.

"Would he wait a few days? she hoped her husband would pay it."

There was a curl of derision upon his lip. What could it mean?

"Fact is, Mrs. Morgan, or Miss Lovetree, or whatever your name is, I let
the premises to you, and look to you for the rent. I shall not run after
such a miserable drunken ---- as Walter Morgan."

She did not drop dead under this heavy blow; she simply said, "you shall
have your rent to-morrow."

"Very well then; and you may as well look for a new place too, in the
course of the week."

"I intend to," was her calm reply.

When he was gone, she slipt on her bonnet and shawl, and thought she
would take her watch and ear-rings, and a few little things, where her
husband had twice taken them before, and whence she had redeemed them,
after he had spent the money; for money he would have, and if she did
not give it to him, he would steal her things and pawn them. He had
done so now. All was gone, even her large Bible, the present of her
dying mother. Her only alternative was to get a Jew to come and look at
the furniture, and advance enough to pay the rent. On the way she
thought she would take a dress home, and got the money for that. She
knew it was going to a house of bad repute; she had been obliged to work
for such, and on several occasions Walter had carried them home. It was
a sort of perquisite with him to get the pay for such. She looked for
the dress, that too was gone. There was another to go to the same house,
which she could finish in about an hour. It was her only resource for
the necessities of to-morrow. At nine o'clock she took it upon her arm
and went out, and with trembling step, up to the door of a magnificent
house, only one block from Broadway.

As the door opened for her, half-a-dozen "up town bloods," came out.

"I say," said one of them, before he was out of her hearing, "I say,
Fred, that is Walt. Morgan's gal, let us go back and see the fun."

The voice was familiar, though the bloated countenance of the roué was
not. She had heard it before. It was George Wendall.

"See the fun"--what could it mean? She felt like anything but fun. Is it
fun for a man to see a woman's heart broken?

They went on, Fred remarking, "she is dev'lish pretty; curse me if I
don't try my hand there. I will walk into her affections."

Such is the opinion of the roué--that the door of woman's affections is
always open for every self-conceited puppy to walk in.

Her heart was in her throat. She choked it down, and went in and
inquired for Miss Nannette, and was shown up to her room. A gentleman
was there, whom Nannette introduced as Mr. Smith, from the South.

He might be from the South, but Athalia knew him to be a married man,
with a sweet young wife and two children, in this city.

The dress was to be tried on, and Nannette began to strip off without a
blush. Athalia did blush, and did object, and would not stay.

"Well, then, George, go down a few minutes to the parlor, that is a good
soul, she is so fastidious."

No, he did not want to be seen there; he would go home.

"Well, then, give me some money to pay for making this dress. You gave
me the stuff, you might as well go the whole figure."

He handed her a ten dollar bill; she handed it to Athalia,--the dress
was only five--remarking:

"Give him the change; I won't take but a five out of it this time."

Athalia had no change. She looked at him, to be certain of her man, and
remarked:

"No; I will keep the whole, and credit him the balance, on account of
seven dollars he has owed me these two months, for work for his wife."

He stammered something about mistake--not him--cursed blunder--and left
the room.

The dress fitted beautifully, and Athalia felt the soothing influence of
praise for her work, and would have left happier than she came, but just
then her ear caught a voice in the next room. She listened. A woman
replied:

"Yes, if you have brought any money. I have made up my mind that you
shall not stay in this room another night without you give me more
money."

"Oh, Josephine, I have got something better than money for you. Look
here."

"Oh! you are a dear good fellow, after all. What a pretty watch, and
what a dear little locket. That will do. Now you may stay all night, and
to-morrow we will go down to Coney Island again, and have a good time.
I'll pass for your wife, you know."

There was a door opening out of Nannette's room into a bath-room, and
out of that, a window into the room where the voices came from.

It was but a thought; thoughts are quick, and so were her's, and the
step that took her up on a chair, and her hand up to the curtain, which
was the only thing preventing her from seeing who owned that voice.

She looked. What a sight for a wife! She saw, what she knew before, but
would be doubly sure, that the voice was her husband's. She knew
that--she knew that he was giving her watch, and the locket which
contained the donor's likeness, that of a dear brother lost at sea--a
treasure that she would not part with sooner than her own heart--to a
woman to whom he had before given money--money that came, drop by drop,
distilled from her heart's blood, through the alembic of her needle; and
she would see--what woman would not--what wife could resist the
opportunity of seeing?--she could not--what the woman looked like, who
could displace her in her husband's affections. The first sight she
caught was her Bible upon the table.

"What could she want of that?"

She was sometimes religious--a great many of them are, and read the
Bible to find some text to justify their own course. They are also
visited by clergymen, who prefer those of "a religious turn of mind."
Then this Bible was elegantly bound, and very valuable. Then she saw her
watch in the hands of a woman with ugly red hair, with dull, voluptuous
eyes, thick lips, ugly teeth, a little snub nose, and a gaunt awkward
figure, forming altogether one of the ugliest looking women, Athalia
thought, that she had ever seen. The words burst involuntarily from her
lips:

"Oh, how ugly!"

"She is uglier than she looks," said Nannette. "She has ruined more men
than any other woman in the city. She has kicked that fool out half a
dozen times because he did not give her more money. I should not wonder
now, if he has stolen his wife's watch to give that wretch."

And this was the woman that Athalia had been toiling for her husband to
pamper. Oh, how she did pray to die!

Nannette, when she learned the facts, was furious. She would have gone
in and torn her heart out.

She said she never did have anything to do with a married man, if she
knew it. George had lied to her, and never should see her but once
again--once, to get her blessing.

Athalia was calm. She sat down a few minutes, to recover from this last
stab in the heart, and then said she would look once more and then go
home. She did look, and saw her husband locked in the arms of that
red-headed fury. Then she went home; she did not go to bed; she worked
all night putting her things in order. Next day, at ten o'clock, a red
flag was fluttering at her window, and while Walter and his mistress
were going down the Bay, her furniture was "going, going, gone," to the
highest bidder.

At sundown she was homeless, friendless, worse than husbandless, alone,
in the streets of New York!



CHAPTER XI.

LIFE AT THE FIVE POINTS.

MADALINA, THE RAG-PICKER'S DAUGHTER.

    "Youth is bought more oft, than begged or borrowed."

                Some wounds do never heal.


Although all my scenes are connected, and bear some relation one to the
other, yet they are not continuous. Like the Panorama of Niagara, we
must go back, cross over, look up, look down, first from this point of
view, then from that, to see all the scenes of that wonder of wonders.
So here, where a mighty torrent rushes on, sweeping a multitude down the
great cascade, we have to look at scene after scene, before we can join
them all together into one panoramic view. Our scenes, too, are as real
and life-like as those. Sometimes a tree here, a flower there, then a
little spray, then a cloud, or the natural color, a little heightened to
give effect, and make the picture more vivid; but the rocks and rushing
torrent, the real foundation of the picture, are all as nature made
them. So it is with my present panoramic view of "Life Scenes in New
York."

Again I shift the scene. Still you will find characters that you have
met before, will meet again. It is a tale of sorrow, but a tale of
truth.

    A little girl was weeping there,
      Pearl drops of bitter tears,
    And hope with her was sleeping where
      She spent her youthful years;
    Her useless life was fleeing fast,
      Her only school the street;
    The future, gloomy shadows cast,
      Where e'er she set her feet.

    Her ev'ry day had one sad end,
      Her ev'ry night the same;
    Or sick, or well, she had no friend,
      'Twere worthy of that name.
    A mother gave this child her birth,
      Or else she had not been;
    But Judas like that mother's worth--
      She sold her child to sin!

    For gold she gave her child to sin,
      For gold her child betray'd;
    What gold would you, dear mother, win,
      Your own to thus degrade?
    What gold would you to others give,
      From sin such others save?
    Though gold is good to those who live,
      'Tis useless in the grave.

    Poor Madalina claims a tear,
      From those her story read
    Pray stop and pay that tribute here,
      It is her only meed.
    Now con her story careful o'er,
      Her life was one of grief,
    She needs not now your pity more--
      To others give relief.

I suppose there are some who will turn away in disgust from the double
title of this chapter. What, they will say, can "Life at the Five
Points" have in it that is interesting to me, who lounge on silk
brocatelle, and look down upon beggar girls and rag-pickers--disgusting
objects--through lace curtains that cost more, to every window, than
would furnish a hundred families in that locality with better furniture
than they now possess?

No doubt you will turn away in disgust at the very sight of the title of
"The Rag-picker's Daughter." Yet you may find something in the character
of "Madalina," which will make you love the name. I should not wonder,
in some of my walks through the city in future years, to hear that
pretty name spoken to some sweet child, yet to be born in rose-perfumed
chamber.

Then pass not by my tale of one so lowly. See how sweet is a cup of cold
water to the dying.

Read.

"Sir," said the door-keeper, to Mr. Pease, one night, "little Madalina,
the beggar girl, is at the door, crying bitterly, and says she wants to
see you."

"I suppose," said the tired missionary, "I answered hastily, perhaps
petulantly, for I had been very much engaged all day. Tell her to go
away, I cannot see her to-night; it is eleven o'clock, and I am very
tired. She must come to-morrow."

The poor fellow turned upon his heel to go away, but as he did so, the
glimpse of his hand and motion of the coat sleeve across his eyes, told
a story.

"Tom," said Mr. P., "Tom, my dear boy, what is the matter?"

Tom did not turn round as he had been taught, and usually did, so as to
look him full in the face when he answered; in fact he did not answer
readily; there was a choking sensation in his utterance which prevented
the words from coming forth distinctly.

Now, this boy had been but a short time in "the Home," and perhaps a
more squalid, wretched, drunken boy, cannot be found in the purlieus of
the Five Points, than he was when he was almost literally picked out of
the gutter, as he had been once before he came here finally, in the way
you have already seen. Once before, he had actually been dragged out of
the filthiest hole in Anthony street, brought in, washed and dressed,
before he came to, so as to be conscious of the change that had come
over him. Then he was brought back again to his low degradation, by just
such wretches and ways of the wicked as were brought to bear upon poor
Reagan, and will be upon many others, while the destroyer is permitted
to walk abroad like a pestilence at noon-day. Now this outcast, who had
cared for nothing human, not even himself, stood vainly trying to choke
down his grief for the sorrows of a little beggar girl.

Were the reminiscences of one, almost as low down in the scale of
humanity, running through his mind--one who, after having been herself
lifted up, had exerted an influence upon him to his salvation?

The tired missionary forgot his fatigue.

"Tom," said he, springing up, "I will go and see what is the matter. Who
is this Madalina?"

"She is an Italian rag-picker's daughter, sir--they live in Cow Bay--I
used to lodge with them sometimes. That is, the mother picks rags, and
the father goes with the hand-organ and monkey."

"Ah, that is where the little tambourine girl came from that we have now
in school. There is a quarrel, I suppose, and the little girl has come
for me."

Tom went down stairs, with a heart as light as his step, "which," said
Mr. P., "I followed, I must acknowledge, rather heavily, for I did not
quite relish the idea of being wakened out of a comfortable evening nap,
to do police duty in Cow Bay, and I fear there might not have been quite
as much suavity in my tone and manner towards the rag-picker's daughter,
as we ought to use when speaking to those poor children, for I recollect
the words were, 'What do you want?' instead of, 'What can I do for you,
my child--come tell me, and don't cry any more.'"

"I don't want to be a beggar girl. I want to be like my cousin
Juliana."

"Juliana--Juliana. I don't know her."

"It is the little tambourine girl, sir," said Tom.

"Oh, I see now. Juliana is your cousin, then. Come here Madalina; let me
look at you, and I will talk about it. Did Juliana tell you to come
here?"

"Yes, sir; she has told me a good many times, but they would not let me.
I am afraid to stay there to-night, they are drinking and fighting so
bad."

"I thought so; and you want me to go and stop them; is that it?"

"No, sir. I want to stay here."

"Oh, a poor little girl flying for fear from her own parents, because
they are drinking and fighting so."

He drew her forward into the light, and looked upon as fine a set of
features as he ever saw. Her hair, which, as a matter of course, was
black almost as the raven's wing, and subsequently, when cleaned of dirt
and its accompaniments, became almost as glossy, overshadowed a pair of
the keenest, yet mildest, black eyes I ever met with. Her skin was dark,
partly natural, and partly the effect of the sun upon its unwashed,
unsheltered surface. Her teeth, oh! what a set of teeth! which, she
afterward told me, she kept clean by a habit she had of eating charcoal.
She was about twelve years old, slim form, rather tall, but delicate
structure. Her dress consisted of a dirty cotton frock, reaching a
little below the knees, and nothing else. Barefooted, bareheaded, almost
naked, at the hour of midnight, of a cold March night, a little innocent
child, wandering through the streets of New York, vainly plying the
words, "Please give me a penny, sir," to well-fed, comfortably-dressed
men, whose feelings have grown callous by constantly hearing such words
from such objects, to whom to give is not to relieve, but rather
encourage to continue in the pursuit of such ill-gotten means of
prolonging life, without any prospect of benefit to themselves or their
fellow-creatures.

"Then you don't want to beg, Madalina! Why not?"

"Because people push me, and curse me, and to-day one man kicked me
right here, sir." And she laid her hand upon her stomach, and a little
groan of anguish and accusation against the unfeeling monster who had
done the deed, went to the recording angel, and was set down in the
black catalogue of rum-selling crimes, for a day of retribution yet to
come.

"Kicked you! What for? Were you saucy?"

"No, sir; I am never saucy. My mother says if I am saucy, men won't give
me anything. I must be very quiet, and not talk any, nor answer any
questions."

"Then how came he to kick you?"

"I don't know, sir; I did not say a word, I only went into one of those
nice rooms in Broadway, where they have such beautiful glass bottles and
tumblers, and looking-glasses, and such a sight of all sorts of liquor,
and where so many fine gentlemen go and sit, and talk, and laugh, and
drink, and smoke; and I just went along and held out my hand to the
gentlemen, when one of them told me to open my mouth, and shut my eyes,
and hold out my hand, and he would give me a shilling. Now look what he
did--he put his cigar all burning in my hand, and shut it up and held it
there."

Horrible! she opened her hand, and showed three fingers and a palm all
in a blister.

"Oh, sir, that is nothing to what another one did. He put a great nasty
chaw of tobacco in my mouth, and then I could not help crying; then the
man who sells the liquor, he ran out from behind the counter, and how he
did swear, and caught me by the hair, and pulled me down on the floor,
and kicked me so I could hardly get away. But he told me if I did not he
would set the dogs on me and tear me to pieces."

"What did you go into such a place for?"

"I had been all day in the streets and only got three pennies, and I
wanted to go home."

"Well, why did you not go?"

"My mother said if I did not get sixpence to-day she would whip me, and
so I went to that place. I did not think such nice dressed gentlemen
would do so. What if they should have to beg some day! My father used to
dress as fine as they when he kept the _Café de l'Imperator_."

"And where have you been since they abused you so?"

"I crept up into a cart in Pearl street; I was so sick, after the
tobacco and the kick, for it was very hard."

"Could you not get home?"

"No, sir. Besides, what if I could, and my mother had been drinking. She
would kick me again, perhaps."

"What, then, are you going to do to-night? You cannot sleep in the
street; it is too cold."

"Won't you let me sleep?"----

"With your cousin Juliana?"

"No, sir, not that; she is clean, and I--I wish I was. Won't you let me
sleep on the floor?"

"You shall have a place to sleep to-night; and to-morrow, if your mother
is willing, you shall come and live with your cousin Juliana, and be
dressed as she is, and learn to sew; and when you get big enough"----

"Her mother will prostitute her, as she did her older sister to a
miserable old pimp for ten dollars."

"Tom, Tom, what is that?"

"The truth, sir. Have I ever told you a lie since I have been in your
house?"

"Well, well, Tom, take Madalina to the housekeeper, and give her
somewhere to sleep to-night, and to-morrow morning you shall go to her
mother and see what she will do."

"Lord, sir, I must go to-night. She will be off with her hook and
basket, poking in the gutters after rags before the stars go to bed.
These rag-pickers are early birds. I have known them travel four or five
miles of a morning, to get to their own walk."

"Own walk. What is that?"

"All the city is divided up among them. Each must keep to his own walk.
If one should trespass upon another, he would get a wet cloth over his
mouth some night when he was asleep, and nobody would know or care how
he died."

"The coroner's jury would inquire into the matter."

"Coroner! fiddlesticks! I beg your pardon, sir, but I did not mean to
answer you that way, though I did know that coroner's juries care the
least of anybody how such fellows die. The verdict would be 'accidental
death,' 'found dead,' 'died of visitation of Providence;' or, if the
murderers got a chance, which they might do easy enough, to chuck the
body in the dock, the verdict would be 'found drowned,' no matter if he
had a hole in his head as big as my fist."

"They could not carry the body from this neighborhood to the river
without being detected."

"Couldn't they. How did Ring-nosed Bill and Snakey Jo carry Pedlar Jake
from Cale Jones's to Peck-slip and send him afloat?"

"What, dead?"

"Yes, sir, they put too much opium in his rum to get him to sleep, so
they could rob him, and he did not wake up, and so they walked him off."

"Walked him off, how?"

"They stood him up and fastened one of their legs to his each side, so
that when they stepped his feet travelled too, and so they-went along,
talking to him and cursing him for being so drunk, till they got to the
dock."

"Where were the Police, do they never notice such things?"

"Lord, no sir, they steps round the corner when they sees a drunken man
coming, particularly if he has one of his friends with him."

"And do you think, Tom, that the rag-pickers would murder a
fellow-creature who trespassed, as they call it, upon their grounds,
without compunction of conscience?"

"Conscience, sir, what do they know about conscience? The 'Padre' keeps
their conscience."

"But the law, is there no law in this Christian City?"

"Law, pshaw! what has your book-law to do with rag-pickers' law?"

"True enough; or 'father confessors,' either."

The next morning Tom made his report. At first it was a positive
refusal. "She can make sixpence a day, and pick up enough to eat."

"Well then she shall pay you sixpence a day. She can soon learn to sew
and earn more than that. Juliana does it every day."

"But she shall not stay there nights. They will make a Protestant of
her."

"That was not the sticking point," says Tom, "if she stays here, she
cannot make a ---- of her there. The best I could do was to let her go
home nights and come days. That is better than nothing. The poor little
thing won't have to go begging, and be burned, and kicked, and vomited
with filthy tobacco cuds, and then whipped if she don't bring home
sixpence every night for her mother to buy rum with. If she cannot earn
it here at first, I will, and we will get her away entirely, after a
while."

Noble Tom! Glorious good boy! What a heart! How long is it since thou
wert as one of them, kicked and cuffed, and groveling drunk in the
gutter? Who thought then that thy rags and filth covered such a heart?
Who knew of the virtuous lessons given thee by a pious mother; and how,
after years of forgetfulness, sin, wretchedness, misery, that that good
seed would vegetate and bring forth such sweet flowers and good fruit,
as we are now tasting in these good deeds and kind words. What if nine
of the fallen whom we lift up, fall back again? so that one stand, who
shall refuse to lend a helping hand? Let us lift up the lowly and make
the haughty humble. Why should they do evil?

Again the messenger went up to the Great Recorder, and a double deed of
mercy was written down.

Wild Maggie, thy sins are forgiven. Look at thy work. This is the poor
outcast boy of whom you said, "Tom, I am going to provide you with a
home. You must go to the House of Industry, reform, and make a man of
yourself."

The work is more than half done.

Madalina, though still suffering from her brutal treatment, was a happy
girl when she found that she was not to be driven out to beg in the
streets.

But she could not understand why her mother wanted her to sleep at home.
Tom could. "Too young! Pooh! before she is a year-older, she will be
lost." Too true! Before she had been in "the Home" six months, she had
learned to read, write, and work, and had grown much in stature and fine
looks. Then she would have been placed in some good family, but her
mother would not consent. She still complained of her breast, and had
frequent turns of vomiting. She always felt worse in the morning,
"because," she said, "that was such a dreadful place to sleep."

Sometimes she did not come for a few days; her mother made her stay at
home and sew. She had learned to work, and her services were worth more
at that than begging.

One night she came in, in great haste, crying.

"What is the matter, Madalina?"

"My mother has had an offer for me."

"An offer for you. What is that?"

Tom looked daggers. "I told you so."

"What is it, my good girl. Tell me all about it."

"My mother bid me go out with her this evening, both of us dressed in
our best. She said she had an offer for me, and was going to meet the
man in Duane street.

"'What does the man want of me, mother?' said I.

"'Oh, he will make a fine lady of you, and you will live with him.'

"'But I don't want to live with him; I had rather live with Mr. Pease,
at "the Home." I had rather live where Tom is, for Tom is good to me.'"

Young love's first happy dream!

"But we went on, and I held my head down, and felt very bad. By-and-by I
heard my mother say,'Here she is,' and I looked up a little, and saw two
gentlemen--that is, they were clothed like gentlemen--and directly one
spoke to the other.

"'I say, Jim, she will do; give the old woman the money, and let us take
her up to Kate's.'

"Mercy on me, that voice! I felt that sore spot in my breast grow more
and more painful. I looked up; _it was the man who kicked me_; the
other was the man who put the tobacco in my mouth."

"What did you do?"

"I stood a little behind my mother while she held out her hand for the
money, and when their eyes were turned I ran. I only heard them say,
'Why, damn her, she is gone.' Yes, I was gone, and here I am. Oh, I am
so sick and so faint! do let me lay down, and don't let those men have
me. Oh dear, the thought of it will kill me!"

So it did. A cruel blow had fallen upon a tender plant. The beggar girl
might not have felt it. The little seamstress did. A taste of virtue,
civilization, christianity, friendship, love, had given the food of sin
and shame a hated taste. Sold by a mother to a libidinous brute--to a
miserable rum-selling,--worse than rum-drinking--wretch, who wears
gentlemanly garments, and kicks, burns, and gags little beggar girls. It
was too much for human nature to bear, and it sunk under this last blow,
worse than the first.

Madalina went to bed with a raging fever--a nervous prostration. All
that kindness and skill could do, was done for the poor sufferer; but
what could we do for the body, when the heart was sick?

Next morning her mother came and insisted that she should go home. They
begged, pleaded, and promised in vain; go she must.

"Never mind," said Madalina, "it will be only for a little, little
while. I shall be well--at least all will be well with me in a few
days. I cannot endure this pain in my breast. You will come and see me.
Good bye. Tom, you will?"

It was an honest, manly tear that Tom turned away to hide. Poor fellow,
he need not have been ashamed of it. Such is nature.

"She is worse, sir," said Tom, one morning, "and no wonder. I wish you
would go and see her; she wants to see you once more. Such a place to be
sick in! oh, dear! how did I ever sleep there? I wish you would go with
me to-night, about ten o'clock, when they are all in. You will see life
as it is."

"Very well, Tom, I will go. Call for me at ten, or when you are ready."

It was my fortune to drop in upon that very evening, and form one of the
company to that abode of misery,--that home of the city poor,--so that I
am able to describe it in my own language. The place where Madalina
lived, is a well known Five Points locality, called "Cow Bay."

As you go up that great Broadway of wealth, fashion, luxury, and
extravagance of this great city, from the Park and its marble halls of
justice, you will pass another great marble front--it is the palace of
trade, where the rich are clothed every day in fine linens, when they go
"shopping at Stewart's." Further along are great marts, where velvet
coverings for the floor are sold; for there are some who have never trod
upon bare boards. You need not look down Duane street, unless you have a
curiosity to see the spot where a miserable mother would sell the
virtue of her child to a wretch whose trade is seduction. Don't look
into that little old wooden shanty at the comer of Pearl street; it is a
"family grocery." The little ragged girl you see coming out with a rusty
tin coffee-pot, has not been there for milk for her sick mother--her
father is in the hospital on the opposite side of the way--his arm was
broken in a "family quarrel." You will pass the Broadway Theatre before
you reach the next corner, with its surroundings of fashionable
"saloons," into any of which you may go without fear of losing caste
among genteel brandy-smashers and wine-bibbers. Perhaps you will be
amused with a small play, such as burning, kicking, or vomiting a little
beggar girl; for nice young men are fond of theatrical amusements. Do
not go into that place of "fashionable resort," the theatre, if it is a
hot evening, for it is worse ventilated than the black-hole of Calcutta,
and if the fetid air does not breed a fever, it will breed a feverish
thirst, which will tempt you to quench it in potations of poison.
Probably that is why it was thus built.

A few steps beyond is Anthony street. Stop a moment here, and look up
and down the great thoroughfare of New-York before you leave it. A
hundred pedestrians pass you every minute; almost without an exception,
every one of them richly dressed men and women, smiling in joy and
happiness. Here is an exception, certainly. A woman in poverty's garb,
with a bundle of broken boards and old timbers, from a demolished
building, that would be a load for a pack-horse. She is followed by two
little boys, with each a bundle, crushing their young years into early
decrepitude. They have brought their heavy loads all the long way from
Murray street. They turn down Anthony; look where they go. If they live
in that street, it cannot be far, for there, in plain view, stands a
large frame house, corner-wise towards you, right in the middle of the
street. No, it only looks so, it is beyond the end of it. Yet look, note
it well, the corner of that house so plain in view, pointing towards
you, is one of the world-wide-known Five Points of New-York.

"What! not so near Broadway, right in plain sight of all who wear silks
and broadcloth, and go up and down that street every day? Surely that is
not the place where all those bad, miserable, poor outcasts live, that
the newspapers talk so much about."

"The very spot, my dear lady."

"Really, this must be looked to. It is quite too bad to think that place
is so near our fashionable street, and in sight too. I thought it was
away off somewhere the _other_ side of town. If I thought it would do
any good, I would let Peter take a few dollars and some old clothes, and
go down with them to-morrow."

"Try it, madam. Better go yourself. Let Peter drive you down; see for
yourself what has been done and what is yet to do. Lend your hand to
cure that eye-sore, which will pain you every time you pass, for you
cannot shut it out of sight, now you know where it is; so near your
daily walk or drive to Stewart's, or nightly visit to the theatre, or
weekly visit to the church. Go to-morrow; don't put it off till next
week."

In the meantime, reader, let us follow the woman and two boys with their
heavy burden, on their homeward way to-night. We will go and see where
they live.

So I followed down Anthony, past some very old rat-harbor houses, filled
with human beings, almost as thick as those quadrupeds burrow in a
rotten wharf; so on they go across Elm; now they stand a moment on the
edge of Centre, for one of the little boys has taken hold of his
mother's dress to pull her back--for she cannot look up with her
load--with a sudden cry of, "Stop, old woman! Don't you see the car is
coming? Why, you are as blind as a brick. That is black Jim a-driving,
and he had just as soon drive over the likes of you as eat. Hang you for
a fool, han't you got no sense, old stupid? There now, run like thunder,
blast ye, for here comes another of the darned cars--run, I tell you!"

She did run with her great load, till she almost dropped under its
overwhelming weight. Why should she thus labor--thus expend so much
strength to so little purpose? She knew no other way to live. Nobody
gave her remunerative labor for strong hands; nobody took those two
stout boys, and set them to till the earth, or taught them how to create
bread, and yet they must eat, and so they prowl about the pulled-down
houses, snatching everything they can carry away--a sort of permitted
petty larceny, that teaches those who practice it how to do bigger
deeds; and those old timbers they split up into kindling wood and peddle
through the streets.

Poor uncared for fellow creatures; working and stealing to escape
starvation--living, for what?--running to escape being run over by an
unfeeling driver who cared just as much for them as for so many dogs.

On they went, down Anthony street; and I followed, determined to see the
_home_ of this portion of the city poor. It was but one block
further--only one little space beyond this great, wide, open, railroad
street, whose thoughtless thousands daily go up and down from homes of
wealth to wealth-producing ships and stores, little thinking of the
amount of human misery within a stone's throw of the rails on which they
glide swiftly along.

One block further, and the street opens into a little, half acre sort of
triangular space, sometimes dignified with the name of "park," but why,
those who know can only tell, for it has no fence, no grass, and but a
dozen miserable trees; 'tis lumbered up with carts and piles of stones,
and strings of drying clothes, and scores of unwashed specimens of young
humanity, whose home is in the dirt, whether in the street or parents'
domicil.

Here let us stop and look around. A very short street, only one block
across the base of the "park," runs to the right from where we stand,
past the "Five Points House of Industry," to Cross street. This is the
most notorious little street in New York. Its name is Little Water
street. It lead from the "Old Brewery" to "Cow Bay." Who that has lived
long in this city, or read its history, particularly that portion of it
written by Dickens, has not heard of the "Old Brewery?" It is not there
now. That awful den of crime, poverty, and wretched drunken misery has
been pulled down, and in its place a substantial brick edifice, in
which is a chapel and school-room, and home of another missionary, has
been erected by the noble, generous efforts of the Ladies' Home
Missionary Society, of the Methodist Church. The old tenants have been
driven out or reformed. How different, too, are the present occupants of
that large brick pile in Little Water street, from those who filled its
numerous rooms before the missionary came there. Every room was a
brothel or a den of thieves, or both combined. Now it is a house of
prayer--a home for the homeless--a place of refuge for midnight
wandering little beggar girls.

Before us lies the misnamed, neglected triangle, called a park. At the
further end is the frame house that we see so plainly as we look down
Anthony street from Broadway. At the left, as though it were a
continuation of Little Water street, lies that notorious Five Points
collection of dens of misery, Cow Bay. It is a _cul-de-sac_, perhaps
thirty feet wide at the mouth, narrowing, with crooked, uneven lines,
back to a point about a hundred feet from the entrance. Into this court
I tracked the kindling-wood-splitters, and threaded my way among the
throng of carts and piles of steaming garbage; elbowing my way along the
narrow side-walk, and up a flight of broken, almost impassable steps, I
reached the first floor hall of one of the houses, just in time to see
that great load of wood and its bearer toiling up a narrow, dark, broken
stairway, which I essayed to climb; but just then, from the room on the
left, at the foot of the stairs, there came such a piercing,
murder-telling, woman's shriek, that I started back, grasped my stout
cane, determined to brave the worst for the rescue, made one step,
pushed open the door, creaking with a horrid grating upon its rusty
hinges, and stood in the presence of an Eve, before the fall, in point
of clothing, but long, long after that in point of sin. As I entered the
open door, she sprung towards it; her husband caught her by the hair,
and drew her back, with no gentle hand or word.

"Let me go, let me go--help!--he wants to murder me; let me go--help,
help, help!"

I did help, but it was help to the poor man, for she turned upon him
with the fury of a tiger, scratching and tearing his face and clothes,
and then settling with a grasp upon his throat, which produced the
death-rattle of suffocation.

A strong silk handkerchief served the hand-cuff's place, and to bind
hands and feet together; after which she lay quietly upon a little straw
and rags, in one corner, the only articles of furniture in the room,
except a bottle, broken cup, and something that looked as though it once
had been female apparel.

"Is this your wife?"

"She was."

"What is she now?"

"The devil's fury. You saw what she is."

"Do you live with her?"

"I did for seven years."

"Did she drink then?"

"Sometimes--not so bad."

"Did you drink?"

"Well, none to hurt. I kept a coffee house."

"And made your wife a drunkard. How came she reduced to this dreadful
condition? You are well dressed."

"I left her three months ago, and went West to find a place to move to.
She said if she could go where nobody knew her she would reform. I left
her in a comfortable room, with good furniture and good clothes. Now,
where are they? All gone to the pawnbroker's; the money gone for
rum--her virtue, shame, everything gone. How, what, and where do I find
her? As you see, crazy drunk, in this miserable hole, in Cow Bay. And my
boy, starved, made drunk, and--"

"What, have you a child by her, then?"

"Yes, a sweet little boy, six years old. Oh, I wish he was awake, that
you might see him."

And he stepped to the miserable bed, and lifted the dirty rag of a
quilt, looked a moment upon the pale boy, dropped upon his knees, raised
him in his arms, looked again wildly, and fell back fainting as he
exclaimed, "Great God, he is dead!"

What little I could do or say to relieve such heart-crushing woe as
overwhelmed this poor father of that murdered child--this miserable
husband of that wretched, crazy--rum-crazy woman, was soon done. What
else could I do than call in a police officer to take her away to
prison? whence she went to the hospital, then to the drunkard's
uncared-for, unwept-over grave!

Now, strange footsteps are winding up the rickety stairs, which I
follow. They were those of Tom and the Missionary, for here lived little
Madalina.

The second floor was divided into three rooms. We looked in as we
passed. The back room was ten by twelve feet square, inhabited by two
black men and their wives, and a white woman lodger, who "sometimes has
company." Here they eat, drink, and sleep,--cook, wash, and iron. The
latter operation is performed on the bottom of the wash-tub, for there
is no table. The front room, eight by fourteen feet, contained five
blacks, men and women. Each of these rooms rented for four dollars a
month, _in advance_.

A dark centre room, occupied by a white woman, was only six by seven
feet, for which she paid fifty cents a week. On the third floor, the
dark centre room, same size, was occupied by a real good looking, young,
healthy German woman, with her husband, a great burly negro, as black as
Africa's own son, and a fine looking little white boy, four years old,
as a lodger. We found the door shut, and no ventilator bigger than the
key-hole. There _was_ a smell about the air.

In the back room, ten by twelve, we found the wood-splitters--the woman
and her two boys, a negro and his wife, a woman lodger, and occasional
company. The rent of this room is one dollar a week in advance. The
total amount of furniture, was not good security for one week's rent.

"Good woman, why do you bring all your great piles of wood up these
steep, slippery stairs, to fill up your room?"

"Cot in himmel, vare vould I puts him? In te court? De peoples steal him
all."

True, there was no place but in that one room to store up a supply,
while the time of gleaning was good. Then it has to be carried down to
the court, to be split up into kindlings, and then again carried up for
storage. How so many find room to live in such narrow space, if our
readers would learn, let them go and make personal inquiry. They will
find plenty of just such cases, with slight search.

Up, up again, one more flight of creaking stairs, without bannisters,
the thin worn steps bending beneath our tread, and we are on the upper
floor of this one of a hundred just alike "tenant houses." Along the
dark, narrow passage, opening by that low door at the end, into a room
under the roof, ten by fifteen feet, lighted by one dormer window, and
we are in the home of Madalina, the rag-picker's daughter. Home! Can it
be that that holy name has been so desecrated--that this child, with
sylph-like form and angel face, must call this room her home. 'Tis only
for a little while! She will soon have another!

In one corner of the room stood two hand organs, such as the most of us
city dwellers are daily tormented with, groaning out their horrid music
under our windows, while the grinder and his monkey look anxiously for
falling pennies or pea-nuts. These stand a little way apart, with a
couple of boards laid across the space. On these boards there had been
an attempt to make a bed, of sundry old coats, a dirty blanket, and
other vermin harbors.

On this bed lay the poor little sufferer. Not so very little either. In
her own native Italy she had been counted almost a woman.

We have seen many, many beautiful faces, but never one like this--so
angelic.

"It is a bad sign," said Tom, in answer to a remark upon the expression
of her face; "it is a sign she will soon be among those she looks so
much like. She never looked so before. She is a living angel now, she
will soon be a real one."

"Madalina, my good child," said the missionary, "how do you feel
to-night?"

"The pain in my breast has been very bad, but it is easier now. It
always goes away when you come. I am so glad you came to-night, for I
wanted to thank you for a thousand good things you have done for me."

"Are you afraid you will not get well?"

"Oh, no, I am not afraid; I know I shall not, but I am not afraid. I
don't want to live, if I must live here; look around. It did not use to
look as it does now to me; when I went out begging, and came home tired
and cold and hungry, I could lay down with the monkeys on my mother's
bag of nasty, wet rags, and go to sleep directly. Now they worry me to
death with their chattering. Do drive them down, Tom, that is a dear,
good fellow."

It would evidently have been a source of great gratification to Tom, to
have pitched five or six of them out of the window. But there were dark
eyes scowling on him, out of a dozen sockets of men who come from the
land of the stiletto, and looked now as though they could as readily use
it as play the organ and lead the monkey.

I looked about, and counted six men or stout boys, and eight women and
girls, besides several children, monkeys, tambourines and hand organs.
In one corner was the rag-picker's store. This had been the bed of
Madalina until this evening, she grew so much worse, that she was lifted
up to the bed I have described. But here she had not escaped the torment
of the monkeys. They had long been her companions and seemed determined
to be so still. They were climbing up and down, or sitting chattering on
her bed. Late as it was in the evening there were several fresh arrivals
of parties of musicians and rag-pickers from their distant walks.
Several were at supper. A long, black table with a wooden bench, on
either side, was furnished with two wooden trays, which had seen long
service and little soap. Into these was ladled from time to time, the
savory contents of a large pot simmering upon the stove. Each guest
helped himself with fingers and spoon. Whether the stew was composed of
monkey meat, or two days old veal, I cannot say. That onions formed a
strong part of the ingredients, we had olfactory demonstration. Some of
the party indulged in a bottle of wine, and we smelt something very much
like bad rum or worse brandy; but generally speaking, this class of the
city poor are not great drunkards. One end of the room was entirely
occupied by a camp bed. That is, in that narrow space of ten feet, ten
human beings, big and little, of both sexes, laid down side by side. The
balance of the family lay around here and there; some on and some under
the table, some on great black chests, of which each family had one,
wherein they lock all their personal goods from their pilfering room
mates. The stove and a few dishes finishes the catalogue of furniture.
How many persons are, or can be stowed into this one room, is beyond my
powers of computation.

Will some of my readers, who faint at the smell of unsavory food, or who
could not sleep but in fresh linen and well aired rooms, fancy what must
be the feelings of poor Madalina, who had just begun to taste of the
comforts of civilized life, now sick and dying in such a room, where the
penny candle only served to make the thick clouds of tobacco smoke more
visible and more suffocating?

One of the difficulties in all these close-packed rooms is the necessity
of keeping the door always shut, to prevent pilfering, thus leaving the
only chance for fresh air to enter, or foul air to escape, by the one
small window in the roof.

Having given you a view of the room, and its inhabitants and furniture,
let us look again upon poor Madalina, as she lies panting for breath
upon her hard pallet. Her face, naturally dark, has an unhealthy
whiteness spread over it, and there is a small, bright crimson spot upon
one cheek--the other is hidden in the taper fingers of the hand upon
which it rests. Such a pair of bright black eyes! Oh, how beautiful! Her
wavy locks of jet, are set off by a clean, white handkerchief, spread
over the bundle of rags which forms her pillow, by one of her visitors.
Now, in spite of pain, there is a smile lighting up her face, and
showing such a set of teeth as a princess might covet. Whence this happy
smile? Listen how cheaply it is brought upon the face of the suffering
innocent. She had said, "I am so thirsty, and nothing to drink but
nasty, warm tea." Directly, Tom was missing. Now he was back again,
and there he stood with a nice, white pitcher in one hand, full of ice
water, and a glass tumbler in the other. Now he pours it full of the
sparkling nectar--now he drops upon one knee and carries it to those
parched lips. Is it any wonder that she smiles? Is it any wonder that
that simple-minded, good-hearted boy should look up, as I stood looking
over the kneeling Missionary, and say, "Don't she look like an angel,
sir?"

[Illustration: THE DEATH-BED OF MADALINA.--_Page 217._]

It was an angelic smile. It was a sight worth days and nights of earnest
seeking, and yet, Oh, how cheaply purchased. Only one glass of cold
water!

Would that I had some Raphaelic power to transfer the picture of that
scene to this page, for you to look upon as well as read of, for a sight
of that face with its surroundings, would do you good. It would make you
yearn after the blessed opportunity of holding the cup of cold water to
other fevered lips, lighting up other angelic, happy, thankful smiles.

As it is, the artist has only been able to give you a faint illustration
of the principal features of this scene. So far as it goes, you cannot
but admire his skill--admire the delineator's art, by which the picture
is sketched upon the block, and the engraver's skill, who cuts the lines
by which the printer spreads the scene out before the admiring eyes of
those who read and view. Such is art, and skill, and industry. How much
better than the idle life of those who furnished the originals for these
"Life Scenes!"

Vainly we pleaded with the mother of Madalina to carry her to a
comfortable room--to my house--to any house--to the hospital--to get a
physician--a nurse--some one, at least, to give her a drink of cold
water through the next long, long day, when she would be left nearly
alone--perhaps quite so--locked in this dreadful room--while men and
monkeys, organs and tambourines, beggers and rag-pickers, were all away
plying their trades in the streets of the city. It was no use; she was
inexorable. The _padre_ was a very good doctor--the _padre_ was good for
her soul--the _padre_ would pray for her; and if she was to die, she
should not die in the house of a heretic. So we parted. It was a hard
parting, for she clung to each one as she said:

"Good bye; I wish I could go with you, but my mother--you have taught me
to obey my mother, that all good children obey their mothers--so good
bye--good bye, Tom. You will bring me another drink to-morrow? yes, I
knew you would, if I asked you, you are so good to me."

There were tears at parting, and they were not all tears of a sick
child, or good boy, but strong men wept.

"Tom," said the feeble, sobbing voice, after we had almost reached the
door, over the careless sleepers on the floor; "Tom, come back a minute,
I want to--want to--say--what if I should not see you again? I want to
send something to Mrs. Pease; she was so kind to me; I wish I had
something to send her to remember me by; but I have got
nothing--nothing. Yes, I will send her a--a little nearer."

And she put her arms around his neck, and imprinted a kiss upon his
lips.

"There, I will send her that, it is all I have--it will tell her I love
her, for I never kiss any but those I love."

Poor Madalina! Poor Tom! What must have been his feelings at that
moment, with the kiss of that angelic, dying girl burning upon his lips,
and running streams of lava down into his young heart, while these
words, "I never kiss any but those I love," are thrilling through his
brain like words of fire?

What he felt I cannot tell. I will not tell what I felt after the first
flow of scalding tears had passed away, but I fear there was an
unforgiving spirit in my heart; and if the foot which crashed that
tender flower had been there then, perhaps it and its fellow had not
carried their moving power, the head, "this side up with care." Perhaps
that head would have been pitched headlong down these long, steep, dark,
and narrow stairs, to the pavement--less hard than its guiding heart.

"We must not kill," said Tom, as we reached the street.

Had he divined my secret thoughts, or was it the response to his own?

"We must not kill those who sell the rum, or kick little children to
death, or make brutes of their mothers, but we will kill the business,
or else we will prove that all are not good men in this world who
pretend to be."

"It is greatly changed," I said to the Missionary, as we came down upon
the street, "since you have lived here; as it was some years ago, when I
first knew this locality, it might not have been quite safe to walk
alone through these streets at this midnight hour; now we have no fear.
Good night."

"It will be better two years hence, if you and I live. Good night."

"Good night. Heaven protect you, and bless your labors. Good night,
Tom."

But Tom heard me not. "I never kiss any but those I love," was ringing
in his ears. He heard nothing--thought of nothing else. Poor Tom! He
carried a heavy heart to a sleepless bed that night.

Back, up Anthony to Centre, then along that one block, and I stood and
contemplated that great sombre, gray stone building which fills a whole
square, looking down gloomily upon the multitude who reek in misery on
the opposite side of the street, or pursue their nefarious schemes of
crime within the very shadow of "the Tombs." Alas! prisons prevent not
crime, nor does incarceration work reformation upon such as dwell in
tenements such as we have just visited.

"It is but a step from the palace to the tomb."

True, and so it seemed this night; for ere I had fairly realized the
fact that I had passed over the short step of two squares between the
City prison--the Tombs--and Broadway, I stood looking into that great
palace hall on the corner of Franklin street, known as Taylor's Saloon.

Was ever eating and drinking temptation more gorgeously fitted up? How
the gilt and carving, and elaborate skill of the painter's art glitter
in the more than sun-light splendor of a hundred sparkling gas-burners.
Are the windows open? No. The ten-feet long plates of glass are so clear
from speck, it seems as though it were open space. Look in. It is
midnight. Is all still? Do the tired servants sleep? No. They are
flitting up and down, with noiseless tread, to furnish late suppers and
health-destroying luxuries, to a host of men and gayly dressed women.
'Tis the palace of luxury--'tis but a step from the palace to the
tombs--'tis but a step beyond to the home of "the Rag Picker's
Daughter"--'tis here that the first step is taken which leads to infamy
like that of that daughter's mother. 'Tis here that he, whose trade is
seduction, walketh unshamed at noonday, or prowls at midnight, to select
his victims. 'Tis here that mothers suffer young daughters to come at
this untimely midnight hour to drink "light wines," or eat ice cream,
drugged with passion-exciting vanilla.

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the fiend as we passed, on, "rag-picking mothers
are not the only ones who traffic away the virtue of young daughters in
this rum-flooded city."

"What," said I, as I passed on, "if all the mis-spent shillings, worse
than wasted in this palace, were dropped into the treasury of the House
of Industry?"

"Cow Bay, Farlow's Court, and Rotten Row, would be no more, and my
occupation would be gone," said the fiend. "It must not be. Dry up rum,
and murder would cease and misery have no home here. It must not be.
_Our_ trade is in danger; I must alarm my friends!"

And he clattered his cloven foot down the steps of a nearby cellar,
where there were loud sounds of blasphemous words, the noise of jingling
glasses, and much wrangling, amid which I heard female voices in one of
the "private rooms," and then an order for more wine--then I heard old
cloven foot say, "give them a bottle of two-and-sixpenny cider, they are
so drunk now they wont know the odds."

Then I understood why the fiend said "our trade"--it is one which none
else than such delight in.

I listened again. There was an awful string of oaths coming up out of
the infernal regions, where men and women--street-walkers--were getting
drunk upon alcohol, carbonic acid, and cider, mixed into three dollar
bottles of "wine"--pure champagne.

"Give me my pocket-book, you----"

I cannot repeat the horrid expletives. Why does a man call a woman with
whom he associates, such vile names? Why does the woman retort upon him
that he is the son of a female dog, and call upon God to send his soul
to perdition? Because they have "tarried long at the wine; have looked
upon it when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup." Now "it
biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder."

Now the woman has picked the pocket of her male companion--I cannot say
gentleman; now he utters those terrible oaths; now she pours out such a
stream of words as would pollute the very air where virtue lives; now
there is a struggle; now a man is stabbed by a woman; now there is a
crash of broken glass, a female street-walker is knocked down with a
bottle in the hands of a man who has picked her up, and whose pockets
she has picked; surely it was no vision of the brain that fancied we saw
the incarnate fiend go down there; now there is a cry of murder; now
there is a rapping of clubs upon the pavement, and running of men with
brass stars upon the left breast of their coats; now the police bear up
a wounded man--if, Madalina was here her wounded breast would ache with
new pain--she is avenged at last; now they drag up a woman, a young
girl, on her way to the Tombs--it is Julia Antrim.

Drop the curtain. Surely you would not look into a prison cell, or go
into the police court, or with a "vagrant," not yet fourteen years old,
to Randall's Island. In some change of the scene you may see her again.
_Quien sabe?_

"It was late next morning," said Mr. Pease, "when I woke up, and then I
lay in a sort of dreamy reverie, thinking what a world of good I could
do if I had plenty of means, until near ten o'clock. Finally, I heard an
uneasy step outside my door and at length it seemed to venture to
approach, and then there was a timid rap."

"May I come in?"

"Yes, Tom, come in. What is it, Tom?"

"If you please, sir, I want to go away to-day."

"Oh, no, Tom, don't go away to-day, you remember what you promised to do
for Madalina."

"Yes, sir, and I am going to do it. I am going to see where they put
her, and then I will plant a flower there, and I will water it too, and
that is not all, either, that I am going to do with water before I die.
I am going to teach people to drink it, and not drink rum."

"Going to see where they put her?"

"Yes, sir."

"Tom, do I understand you?"

"I don't know, sir, she did."

"Tell me, my boy, what you mean. You seem a little wild, your eyes are
very red. Did you sleep any last night?"

"Sleep! could you sleep, with those words ringing in your ears all
night? Her last words--she never spoke again."

"By this time I had reached the window. I looked out. There was a 'poor
house hearse' in Cow Bay. A little coffin was brought down and put in,
and it moved away. It carried the Rag-picker's Daughter."



CHAPTER XII.

ATHALIA, THE SEWING GIRL.

      "Oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
    The instruments of darkness tell us truths:
    "Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
    In deepest consequence."


At the close of chapter nine, we left Athalia standing by the side of
her trunk and bandbox on the sidewalk, in front of her now empty home.
After paying up the rent, and a few outstanding little bills, she had
but a scanty store left in her little purse. Of this she set apart, as a
sacred deposit, almost the entire sum, to redeem her Bible and
watch--the locket at any rate. Now she wished she could see Nannette,
for she was the only instrument she knew, that she could employ in the
negociation. She could not go where she lived, for fear of meeting
Walter, whom she had determined never to see again. She had sent for a
hack to take her away, she really knew not where. She had but few,
except business acquaintances in the city; none upon whom she felt
willing to call in her emergency. She felt so cast down, that she could
not look one of them in the face. She had made up her mind to go to a
hotel for the night, and leave the city in the morning; whither she knew
not; anywhere to get away, Then she thought that she could not go
without seeing Nannette, and making an effort to regain her valued
keepsakes How should she see her? what should she do?

It is an old proverb, "Wish for the devil and he will appear." Just then
a carriage drove up and stopped where she stood. She was so certain it
was the one she had sent for, that she did not observe that it contained
two ladies, until the driver had opened the door, and one of them spoke.

"Why, Mrs. Morgan, are you going away? How unfortunate. I wanted three
or four dresses made. When will you be back?"

When? How could she tell, since she did not know where she was going?
She was in a fever of excitement to go somewhere, to get away before
Walter should come. She felt as though it would kill her to see him
then.

All day she had been calm; she had found it absolutely necessary, in
order to keep herself so, to drink two or three glasses of wine. If it
had been wine, such as the fermented juice of grapes will make, it had
not done her material harm; but it was such as is made in this city, or
"got up" expressly for this market; and she began to feel the effects of
the alcohol it contained dying away. She felt as though she was dying,
too. She did not, therefore, hesitate long, or refuse the pressing
invitation of Mrs. Laylor to go home with her and stay all night.
Although she began to suspect the character of Mrs. Laylor's house, she
did not know it, or her either, or she would have spent the night where
she stood rather than in her best room.

She was still further induced to go, when she found that her companion
was Nannette. True, there was a flash, a mere flash of thought across
her mind, why so common a woman as Nannette should be in the carriage of
so reserved a lady; one who, if she was guilty of slight improprieties
herself would not be suspected for the world, and had no charity for the
inmates of houses in M---- street.

Little thought Athalia, that Nannette, when she visited Mrs. Laylor's,
passed for "a very respectable married lady, who would not be known for
anything--it would ruin her;" or else, when dressed in deep mourning,
with a thick veil over her face, which nothing could induce her to
remove, was a "very interesting young widow, of one of the first
families in the city, who was obliged, by necessity, to accept the love
of a gentleman--a married gentleman--who visited her house, but would
not make the acquaintance of any woman except one in just such a
condition as this 'sweet young widow.'"

I know, I speak it boldly, a woman now living in this city, in up-town
style, upon money obtained from six dupes, every one of whom she had "on
a string" at the same time, and some of whom she used to meet at that
very house, under just such guises. I say it, still more boldly and
truly, for "old sores must be seen to be healed," that she has thus
duped the whole six in one day. I know the woman--I know five of the
dupes, and that each one of them has a wife. Two wear the title of
Judge; one deals in flour; one in dry goods; and one has another
employment I dare not speak so boldly of, for the sake of his children
and unsuspecting wife. He drives fast horses, and truth, might drive a
good woman to despair.

Athalia little suspected all this; still less did she suspect that she
had been watched all day; that her order for a carriage even had been
intercepted, and Mrs. Laylor had come in its stead. She did not know
then that the stable owner was the paramour of Mrs. Laylor, and Nannette
the pimp of this most dangerous woman--dangerous, because she struck her
game, both male and female, out of the upper class of society, giving
them a fair start on the road down to a cellar in Cow Bay.

We have seen one of the Morgan family that she started on that course,
who run a swift race. She is now fishing for another--already has her in
her net, for she has ordered Cato to put up the baggage--already has
Athalia seated by her side, condoling with her in her afflictions,
giving her sweet sympathy, telling her a few truths and many
lies--"instruments of darkness" win by such--wondering how she could
have lived with her bad husband so long as she had, when she could live
so much better--"_by the needle_"--without such a man. She does not
propose another now--of course not; she will bide her time for that,
when all her plots have ripened the seed she is now sowing.

They were soon at home; before Athalia had half done telling how fearful
she was of meeting Walter, and how she wanted to get out of town before
he discovered her; and then Mrs. Laylor told her how very private she
could be at her house--she would give her the third floor back room,
and send her meals up to her, and she need not see a single soul but
Nannette and herself, besides the chamber-maid--"none but your best
friends."

Why did Mrs. Laylor whisper Nannette, and why did she run in the
basement way, and why did they have to wait ten minutes for the door to
be opened? And where was Athalia's thick veil, with which she had
intended to hide her face so that no one would see her, for the
excitement of the day had flushed her cheeks, and made her fascinatingly
beautiful, and she had no desire to expose it to tempt the passion of
any one who might chance to meet her?

"Where can my veil be, I am sure I had it in my hand when I got in the
carriage?"

"I cannot see; perhaps Nannette has gathered it up with her shawl."

So she had. It had been slipped into the folds of it on purpose, for
Mrs. Laylor was already working her plans, and counting the hundred
dollars that she was going to charge some rich fool for bringing about a
meeting with "one of the handsomest women in the city--a dress-maker,
fresh from the country." In furtherance of this object of a wicked
woman, in pursuit of gain, she had sent Nannette into the house, to
station one of her dupes where he could see, without being seen, the
unveiled face of Athalia, as she passed in, and up the stairs. For this
purpose, the usually dark hall had been lighted, and the veil stolen.

"None but friends," there.

The victim that Nannette went to put in place, was a young clergyman,
like other men in the vigor of youth, possessed of like passions. He
would have sought a wife, but his salary would not support one in the
style that she would demand, or his congregation expect their pastor to
maintain; and so he sought indulgence where he had found out
accidentally that some of the members of his own church had sought it
for themselves.

He had slipped in, with handkerchief over his face, just before Mrs.
Laylor went out. She told him that she was going to the railroad depot
to meet a young woman from the country, a dress-maker, whom she had sent
for, to come and make a few dresses for her and "my daughter," as she
unblushingly, called Nannette, who, she said, "had been away from home,
at school."

The words were true, yet the speech was a lie, a wicked lie, made to
deceive one who had been unwary enough to put his finger in a trap. She
had been away from home, a home where she left a mother, and brothers,
and sisters. And she had been at school--a school where language and
manners are taught; but, oh! what language, and what ways, and manners.
It is a school which is computed to have thirty thousand teachers in
this city.

What strange inconsistencies our human nature is possessed of. This
Nannette had naturally a good heart. We saw that in the scene where Mrs.
Morgan discovers the depth of depravity to which one of those teachers
had dragged down her husband. Yet, no sooner is Athalia placed by
misfortune in a position to be subject to temptation, than she offers
her gratuitous services to Mrs. Laylor, to effect her complete ruin.
What for? Who can answer? I cannot, unless the fable of the fox that
lost his tail in a trap, will give a cue to the solution. I fear, that
we are too apt to wish others no better than ourselves. It must have
been some such motive that actuated Nannette: the little pecuniary
advantage offered by Mrs. Laylor for her assistance, does not seem to be
a sufficient motive for one female, though she herself has lost the
priceless jewel of female virtue, to wish to bring another of her sex
into that vortex which engulfs all who come within its mäelstrom power,
as certain as that upon the Norway coast. Be the motive what it may, she
had certainly lent herself this day, as a willing tool, to do a double
deed of wrong.

I cannot name the clergyman who was to be made--had been made--the
victim in this nefarious plot, because he is still living, and has paid
the penalty of ruined health for visiting such a house, and a still
greater penalty of a gnawing conscience for the sin, and the lies told
to cover it up.

As a _nom de plume_, I will call him, Otis, because it is the most
dissimilar to his own, of any one I can think of.

Otis had been tempted to visit this house, as I said before, by a
natural strong passion, but that would have been insufficient, had not a
sort of Paul Pry friend told him of the delinquency of one of his flock,
and urged him to watch him. He did so, saw him enter the house with a
woman, certainly not his wife, charged him afterwards, with a view to
his reformation, and was met with a plump denial of the character of
the place, and even threatened with exposure of his attempt to watch and
pry into other peoples' business. Goaded with such an accusation, he
retorted upon his informer, and he in his turn reiterated the charge,
and urged Otis to "call on a professional (that is pastoral) visit," and
satisfy himself.

This he did, and found the house most genteelly and richly furnished;
the owner, "a widow, living," she said, "upon the interest of money in
bank,"--she meant the interest of bankers' money--a very modest, genteel
lady, very much pleased to have him call, and begged him to repeat the
visit "some afternoon or evening when the young ladies, her nieces and
daughter, would be at home, and if he was fond of music, they would play
for him, and one of them could sing beautifully." She could sing the
"Mermaid's song." He was completely deceived. Who might not be by such a
siren? The truth is, that her penetrating eye had seen at a glance quite
down into his very secret thoughts, and that he possessed passions which
she could inflame and turn to account, and she laid all her plans to
that end. Although satisfied, after one or two visits, that all the
inmates of the house were correct, he had his suspicions aroused as to
those who visited them, for he could not help noticing the fact, that
while he was there one evening, there were no less than five calls,
apparently of couples, who were received in a dark hall, with whispered
words, and then went upstairs, and after awhile went out in the same
quiet way. Twice, he saw through the crack of the door that the ladies
were veiled with thick dark veils, such as we meet every day upon the
Broadway side-walk. But the most convincing thing of all, was an
incautious word spoken aloud by one of the visitors as Mrs. Laylor was
letting him out. He knew the voice. It was the man whose conduct had led
him first to this house. Then he was so well satisfied, that he told
Mrs. Laylor his suspicions, and she acknowledged that she did sometimes
let a room to a gentleman and lady, but to none except persons of the
highest respectability, such as himself, for instance. That was a cue.
He took it and fell into the snare. She agreed "for a consideration," to
introduce him to one of the most respectable ladies, upon the
understanding that she was to remain closely veiled,--as the whole
proceeding was to be veiled from the Argus eyes of the world.

The "respectable lady" was drawn from the same house to which we have
before had an introduction; in short, she was the same "lady" in whose
room Athalia saw her husband from Nannette's room. With Otis she played
the part of "clergyman's widow," and for that purpose always dressed in
deep mourning, just as her sisters in sin do now every day in the
fashionable promenades of this city; and she played it well, until one
night, after having taken one bottle extra between them, for he had not
yet learned that wine drinking was but little better than whiskey
drinking, "she let out on him," in such a manner that his eyes were
opened, and he determined to leave the house. But he had tasted sin, and
who that has, but well knows how much harder it is afterwards to resist
the temptation?

So he came back. What an excuse he made to conscience as he did
so!--That it was only to upbraid the woman for deceiving him. He
deceived himself. First, in trusting himself in a deceitful woman's
power; and, secondly, in supposing that after she had deceived him once,
she would not again. This last visit was upon the very night in which
Athalia was introduced into the house, and hence the lies to inflame his
mind, and the art made use of to give him a stolen glance of her face.

It is no wonder that the first man fell, when "tempted of a woman." It
is idle to talk of our power to withstand their seductive arts. Otis was
entrapped again. The sight of Athalia's beauty inflamed his already
wine-heated blood, and he readily offered Mrs. Laylor a hundred dollars
to bring about a successful negociation. This was just what she
intended--what she expected--she had baited her trap high, and the game
was already caught. And he was not the only one she intended to catch
with the same bait. She intended to use her as a profitable investment
upon all her "regular customers"--for all such houses boast of such--as
long as she could make the lie of "fresh from the country," pass as
current coin. She little thought, and cared less, how many lies she had
to contrive and tell Athalia, before she could accomplish her purpose.
It does seem as though, when a woman loses her own virtue, that she
imagines all her sex have lost or would lose theirs just as easy as
herself.

"I drag down," should be graven upon the brow of every one of her class.
Whether man or woman, whoever comes within their influence--and who does
not, since they are permitted to go forth at noonday through the
thoroughfares of this city, seeking whom they may devour, and all night
long they show their brazen faces in the streets, "picking up" poor
fools for victims, whom they drag down--true, they go willingly--to
their dens of destruction.

It does seem as though when a man loses his balance so far as to fall
into the influence of such a woman, that he is "ready to believe a lie
even unto his own damnation." How else could Walter Morgan--there are a
great many Walter Morgans--leave such a wife as Athalia for such a
Jezebel as he did? How else did such a man as Otis, whose business it
was to watch the fold, allow the wolf to enter and carry off the
shepherd? Why, after he had found out how much he had been cheated, did
he believe the lies of the cheat again? Who can answer? I cannot. I can
only say, that in this branch of intoxication, the only safe rule is
that of the teetotaller, "touch not, taste not, handle not;" and it must
be more rigidly applied in the one case than the other. A man may
possibly touch liquor and drink not. Can he play with a harlot and not
fall? Otis should have preached a sermon, not to his congregation, but
to his own conscience in his own closet, from this text:

     "For a whore is a deep ditch: and a strange woman is a narrow
     pit.

     "She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the
     transgressions among men."

She certainly had increased the transgressions in the case of Otis, and
she lay in wait for Athalia as a prey.

Otis would have sought an introduction immediately, for wine had
mastered reason; wine, that is made expressly for such houses, had
inflamed his blood.

This the master-piece of iniquity knew would never answer. But she
promised him that for the sum named, she would bring about the desired
interview.

"To-night?"

"Yes. At least she would try."

"To-night or never! To-night is the last night that I shall ever set
foot in your house. I have registered a vow in heaven to that, and I
will keep it."

So he did. He had good cause to remember that night.

Mrs. Laylor saw that he looked as though he intended to keep it, and as
he had been fool enough to tell her so, she at once determined to fool
him to her own profit. So she promised him that he should have his
utmost desire, and upon that she ordered up another bottle of wine,
urged him to drink and amuse himself with the young ladies, while she
went up and "smoothed the way."

There is but little need of smoothing the way that leads nearly every
young man, who visits such places, to destruction. But she had a way to
smooth. It was her last chance with this victim, and she determined on
profit and revenge.

In due time she came in, and reported favorably.

"The lady would see him, in consideration of his profession, upon one
condition--that he would not seek to learn her name, or anything about
her, and that he should not see her face."

What did he care for that, since he had already seen it, and it was
daguerreotyped upon his heated imagination, so that he would know her
whenever he should meet her afterwards in the street.

Let the curtain of night fall. The sun shone into an eastern window of
No. -- H----n street the next morning, while Otis still slept. Its
bright rays awakened him to the startling consciousness of having
over-slept himself after a night of debauch. How should he get away
without being seen? The thought troubled him sorely. But he soon
determined what he would do; he would steal the veil from the face of
the sleeping beauty to hide his own, and then slip out by the basement
door, perhaps unseen. What harm could it do to her, since he had seen
and knew the face so well?

He dressed himself hurriedly, then gently drew the veil away, with a
salvo to his conscience that he would not then see her face, he would
look the other way. His conscience would have been more easy afterwards
if he had kept that resolve. He could not. The glance at Athalia's
beauty the night before had maddened him, and he turned, as he was going
out of the door, to look back where she slept, and steal--"Thou shalt
not steal"--he had forgotten that--steal one more glance. He did, but
instead of the face of Athalia, he saw that of a common street-walker--a
young harridan--and he rushed from the room with the full weight of a
burning conscience for his folly, with a feeling of self-degradation at
being victimized a second time by the same deceitful woman; hating
himself and everybody else; dreading to meet any one he knew, and,
finally, encountering in the basement hall, striving to get out in the
same sly way, the very man whom he had first taken to task for visiting
this den of infamy. What a recognition! Neither could speak, so intense
was the thought in the mind of each that the other might ruin him by
simply revealing the truth. Strange that neither thought how little the
other would dare to speak, least it should be inquired, "How did you
know he was there? Where was you?"

Otis said afterwards to an acquaintance of mine, a physician, whom he
was obliged to consult in consequence of that sinful night, that he
could not conceive any agony more intensely painful in this life than
that which he endured the next Sabbath, when he arose in the pulpit and
looked down upon the congregation, but saw nothing, could see nothing,
but that one pair of eyes glaring upon him just as they did the morning
he met them in the hall of that house where he had been so disgraced.

"I little knew then," said he, "as I did afterwards, that he felt just
as bad as I did, for he told me that it seemed to him that I was about
to denounce him to the whole congregation. So intense had this feeling
become, that he was on the point of seizing his hat and rushing out when
the words burst from my lips, 'if thou knowest aught of thy brother's
failing, cover it up from the rude gaze of the world, for it can profit
them nothing to know of his faults.'

"'Go to him privately and speak kindly, and he will reform!' So he did,
to our mutual benefit."

This relieved the mind of Otis, but it did not save him from the sad
effect of a poisoned, neglected system, but it cured him from visiting
places where he was ashamed to show his face. It taught him that "the
way of the transgressor is hard." He had one more trial. He had not paid
Mrs. Laylor the hundred dollars promised while heated with wine, for he
felt that she was not entitled to it, and he had no such sum to spare.
Late one Saturday night he received a note from the lady, requesting
immediate payment, and threatening exposure in church the next day if he
failed to make it instanter. He had not so much money in the world, and
knew no way by which he could get it immediately. He was in an agony of
fear all the evening. The only man to whom he dared apply either for
money or advice, the man who was equally guilty, was out of town. What
should he do? He did what every Christian should do. He opened his
Bible, and the first words, that his eyes fell upon were, "ask and it
shall be given you."

He did ask, and ask earnestly, what shall I do? Before he had done
asking, the door bell rang and a letter marked "private--by express,"
was laid upon his table. A glance at the superscription told him it was
from the man he was so anxious to see.

He opened and read:

    "MY DEAR FRIEND OTIS,

     "I have had a sort of presentiment upon my mind that you were
     about to be distressed for that hundred dollars, and as I am
     well aware that you never would have been placed in jeopardy if
     I had not first done wrong, I beg you to accept the enclosed
     check for that amount.

     "I need not say who it is from."

How strange, how opportune, how quick the answer to his asking had come
back. What a load it lifted off his mind. It is not the first load that
prayer, earnest, sincere prayer, has lifted. He was relieved in more
ways than one; he had repented of his folly, and had become a better and
a wiser man. Gold is refined of its adhering dross by fire. Otis still
lives, and every day he warns some one, not only of the folly and sin,
but the danger, of visiting that class of houses, if only from
curiosity. They are all traps for the unwary, and gulfs into which the
soul sinks blindfold down to perdition.

We have lost sight of Athalia. Let us return to her--she will need all
our sympathy, for she stands upon the very brink of a precipice, over
which though many have fallen, few ever returned.

Mrs. Laylor manifested the greatest sympathy for Athalia that one friend
could for another. She gave her the most private room in the house, and
assured her that she should be welcome to it just as long as she
pleased; "but of course," she said, "you will not remain a moment, after
you get your things from that wicked woman. Now what can I do to assist
you?"

This was said in such a kind, sympathizing manner, that a more
suspicious mind than hers might have been deceived; and she answered,
"Oh, you can do a good deal. I am afraid to go out, particularly to go
to that house, or that woman, and I want my keepsakes. I have got
seventy dollars, and I will give it freely if I can get them again."

She did not see the glisten of the eye, or the avaricious clutch of the
hand, as that miserly woman thought, "I will have that." She only heard
the soft tones of her voice as she said, "my dear Mrs. Morgan, I will
take it and see what I can do, but I am really afraid it is not
sufficient to induce her to part with them, as you say they are actually
worth more money."

"What shall I do then? I feel as though I could not part with them, and
in such a way too, that is worse than all. I would have sacrificed them
in a moment for that man, if he had been sick and suffering, for want of
food or medicine."

"Well, well, my dear friend, do not worry yourself. Remember that you
have friends, kind sympathizing friends, who will do more for you than
they would for themselves. I will go directly and see what can be done
if you will give me the money."

So she did, and by dint of threats, and coaxing, and promises to
Josephine, to try and get something out of "the poor fool's wife," for
her, she gave them up, and Mrs. Laylor, before night, had them safely
locked in her own iron chest.

"Why did she not give them to Athalia at once?"

Simply, because she intended to keep both money and things. So she told
Athalia, that Josephine had not yet returned from Coney Island, where
she knew she had gone with her husband, wearing her watch, passing for
his wife, spending her money, which he had collected for the making of
the dress that he had stolen away without her knowledge.

But she had come back; where was Walter?

Somewhere with his set. He had not yet dared to face his injured wife.
He intended to skulk home late at night. In the evening he went to see
his dear, sweet, amiable mistress. She was in about the same state of
mind after Mrs. Laylor left her, that a female tiger would be, on
arriving at her lair, after a little pleasure excursion, in which she
might have killed a couple of Indian children, but was driven off before
her appetite for blood was satisfied, and now found that some other
equally ferocious animal had despoiled her of her own young.

Walter and she had had "a good time" together, and parted lovingly only
a few hours before. How he was surprised as he entered her room
carelessly, to hear her tell him with a terrible oath--oaths are ten
times more terrible in woman's than in man's mouth--to leave the room or
she would take his life. At first, he thought she was in sport. One look
was enough to convince him of his error. Then he thought she was mad,
because he had entered without knocking, and found her engaged in
dressing for the evening debauch and usual scenes of dissipation, and
began to rally her on her Eve-like appearance.

That was more than some more amiable women can bear. No matter how ill
dressed or undressed, a woman does not like to be rallied on her
personal appearance.

It was more than such a human tiger could, or would bear. She darted at
him, and proceeded vigorously in the task of reducing him to the same
state, so far as his toilet was concerned, as herself. It did not take
long. First, she crushed his hat. His dress coat was fine, and it was
tender, for it was old, and she tore it into ribbons, in an instant. His
vest and shirt followed, and she made vigorous efforts at the remaining
garment, and then he broke and ran from the wild fury. She overtook him
at the top of the stairs, gave him a vigorous kick that sent him, naked
and insensible, down to the lower hall, where he was picked up by the
police, and carried to the station house; there he had his bruises
attended to, and there he would have got a passport to "the Island,"
only that he happened to be known, and when he told where he lived, one
of the officers said, that was the fact, that he knew his wife, and a
most excellent woman she was, and it would be a pity, on her account, to
send him up this time, and so he volunteered to go home with him, and
get some clothes and see what his wife wanted done with him. Walter
found his trunk and all that he could claim as his own--it was not much,
hardly enough for present necessity--where Athalia had left it, in the
next-door shop, and there he learned the facts about the sale, and his
wife going off in a carriage with two ladies, and a Negro driver; but he
did not learn why she had gone, he needed no words to tell him that, a
monitor within spoke louder than words.

"A guilty conscience needs no accuser."

What should he do? It is easy to say what a man should do. He should go
and find his wife, and fall down upon his knees; yes, bow his face into
the dust, pray for forgiveness, and promise reform. And he would be
forgiven. That is woman's nature. The Forgiver of all sins, is not more
forgiving.

"What did he do?"

That is just as easy said. He sold his last good shirt--one that his
wife had just made--to procure the means of getting drunk.

"What a pity that there should be any places where such a man could get
liquor; or that such places, if they do exist, should be kept by
wretches who will take the shirt off the back of the poor inebriate for
rum."

Yes, it is a pity. It is the cause of ruin of more men than all other
causes.

From this last fall Walter never recovered. He went down, step by step,
to the final termination of almost every young man who surrenders his
reason to such vile influences. You heard Reagan say what that end was.
Let his epitaph be,

    "Requiescat in Pace."

With various excuses, Athalia was kept in daily expectation of
recovering her property, until continued disappointment made her heart
sick. In vain she begged for something to do. Everyday it was promised,
and every day the promise broken. She was kept from going out of the
house by continual tales about her husband watching it day after day,
and night after night. Of course this was all sham. He had been told
that she had gone out of town, and he believed it; he never got sober
enough to think of inquiring or caring whether she was dead or alive.

Finally, when Athalia could not be kept any longer upon such lying
promises, Mrs. Laylor told her "that she had finally got Josephine to
consent to give up the watch, and chain, and locket, and the Bible, for
a hundred dollars."

Where was the poor girl to get the other thirty. She knew it was more
than they were worth to anybody else, but she felt as though she would
give it freely if she had it. To add to her distress of mind, just at
this time she overheard a conversation in the next room between Mrs.
Laylor and one of the girls--it was got up on purpose--to this effect:

"To be sure she will pay for her board. Of course she cannot expect to
have the best room in the house ten weeks for nothing. But I shall only
charge her seven dollars a week."

"Seven dollars!" thought Athalia; "that takes the whole of my seventy
dollars, and my watch and Bible still remain in the hands of that
red-headed----Oh, dear! what shall I do?"

The two continued their conversation.

"But, Aunt, you have promised to give that seventy dollars, and thirty
more with it, to redeem her traps; how are you going to get seventy
dollars more? or if you take that for her board, and let the watch go,
what is she going to do in future? she has got no money, and don't work
any."

"Don't work any," thought she. "How can I work shut up here? I would
work, if I had it to do. I could have earned that sum before this time."
And again she said "Oh dear! what shall I do?"

It was just what they wanted she should say. Mrs. Laylor replied:

"Do! Why, she must do what other folks have to do. Frank Barkley is
dying to do for her, the fool that she is; he would give her any amount
of money, if she would be a little more agreeable when he calls. It was
a long time before I could persuade her to drink a glass of wine with
him. Some girls would have helped me to sell two or three bottles every
evening. I shall tell her to-day that she has got to do something. I
cannot keep anybody in the house this way much longer."

What a dose of gall and wormwood was this to poor Athalia! This was
boasted friendship. Forced by one specious pretence after another to
remain; purposely kept without work, that she might get in debt, for
that would put her in her creditor's power; and robbed of her
money--worse than robbed; and yet she was only served just as
innumerable poor girls have been served before, and will be again; it
was enough to make her cry out, "What shall I do?"

And then to be accused of being ungrateful. That was worse than all.
Then she thought that perhaps she had been. Mrs. Laylor had told her
several times how much wine some girls could induce gentlemen to buy,
and how much profit she made upon every bottle; and more than that, she
had hinted very strongly how much money such a handsome woman as
Athalia could make, if she was disposed to; and then she told a story
about a young clergyman that used to come there, and what a great fool
he was when he drank a little wine, and how she made a hundred dollars
out of the simpleton, and a great deal more; but she did not tell her
how she cheated him, nor how she had cheated Athalia out of her seventy
dollars, nor that Frank Barkley had paid her board, which she was now
trumping up an account for, so as to drive her to the seeming necessity
of selling her body and soul to escape from the tangled web which this
human spider was weaving around this poor weak fly.

In the course of the day, after this overheard conversation, Mrs. Laylor
came to tell Athalia "that she had succeeded at last in obtaining her
watch and Bible, by paying thirty dollars out of her own pocket,
although she did not know how in the world to spare it, but she supposed
Mrs. Morgan would repay it almost immediately."

Repay it! How could she? And so she said bitterly that she had no hope.
Her heart was almost broken. Mrs. Laylor, of course, condoled with her,
soothed her, reassured her of her pure friendship, took out the watch
and put the chain over her neck, sent down and had the Bible brought up,
and with it a bottle of wine, one of the half brandy sort, and insisted
upon her drinking of it freely, and driving off the blues; and then,
after she had got her into a state of partial intoxication, and fit for
any act of desperation, sent for Frank Barkley, who had just arrived, to
come up to Athalia's room, and play a game of cards. She had never
before consented to that, but now Mrs. Laylor was there, and she
desired it, and so he came. It had been all previously arranged that he
should, and that he should order another bottle of wine--mixed wine--and
then Mrs. Laylor was called out, and went suddenly, saying as she did
so:

"Let the cards lie, I will be back in a minute."

That minute never came. That night was the last of conscious purity
which had so long sustained Athalia through all her trials.

For the next six months she never allowed herself to think. She was
lost. The instruments of darkness had betrayed her into the deepest
consequences.

The scene shifts.

Shall we see Athalia again?

Wait.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE LITTLE PEDLAR.--MORE OF ATHALIA.

    "Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile,"
      And thus at this may laugh the scoffer.
        "Let those laugh who win."


We started in the first chapter of our volume of "Life Scenes," to take
an evening-walk up Broadway. How little progress we have made. We turned
off at Cortland street, to follow Mrs. Eaton and her children home, and
then we went with the crowd to the fire. Then we came back to listen to
the cry of "Hot Corn, hot corn! here is your nice hot corn, smoking
hot!" that came up in such plaintive music from the mouth of Little
Katy, in the Park. Then we followed her to her home, and to her grave.
What a ramble I have led you, reader. Occasionally our route has led us
back again and again into this great, broad, main artery of the lower
part of this bustling world, this great moving, living body, called New
York. There are several other broadways in the upper part of the city.
We have but one in the lowest portion of it--that is for carriages.
There are a good many broadways of the town, through which pedestrians
go, where they "put an enemy in the mouth to steal away the brains," an
enemy

    "Whose edge is sharper than the sword: whose tongue
    Out-venoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath
              Rides on the winds, and doth belie
    All corners of the world; kings, queens, and states,
            Maids, matrons," all in one fell swoop,
                   To earth struck down.

Such a broadway may be seen, nay, must be seen, by all who enter the
great, high, oaken doors of the granite portal of one of the best of the
great Broadway hotels in New York, for the way is wide open, inviting
the weary traveller to enter the great, dome-shaped "exchange"--exchange
of gold, health, peace of mind, domestic blessings, for a worm that will
gnaw out the very soul; a worm with teeth, "whose edge is sharper than
the sword."

That granite pile is a creditable ornament to the city. Its walls have a
look of solidity as enduring as the hills. Yet it contains an element
within that has settled the strong built fabrics of a greater Master
Builder than the architect of that house, down to the very dust, in a
few short years, carrying with it marble palaces and granite walls.

That building was erected by one who sprang, from a class as lowly as
the day laborer who helped to rear its walls, to almost immeasurable
wealth, by a life of industry, free from the vice or misfortune of
drunkenness.

At first it did not contain that great broadway to death. True, death
had his abode there, but he kept in a cave out of sight. He did not
thrust his hideous visage into the face of every guest, as he does now.
The place of his "exchange" was then a place of green grass and flowers
and sparkling fountains, upon which all the interior windows of that
great caravansery looked down with joy and gladness, smiling o'er the
perfumed atmosphere, and beauty admired beautiful flowers, and listened
to love-inspiring songs of birds, and pattering of falling water in the
great marble basin. Ah! that was a court, worthy of such a traveller's
home. But it did not produce the profit that flows to the owner through
another liquid channel, where that fountain once leaped, played and
sparkled in the sunshine. Lovely eyes still look down from the
surrounding chamber windows, not upon the flowers and birds and crystal
waters, but upon an unsightly dome, and in fancy through its roof, and
there they see their husbands, brothers, fathers, friends, putting an
enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains. How fancy will work;
how it will send sharp pangs to the heart; sharper than a two-edged
sword; how the feeble wife will look down upon that roof, and pray for
it to give up her husband. Other wives have prayed the tomb for the same
object, both equally effective. Both will pray to both again, and both
will feel that hardest of all pangs for a wife to bear, the pang that
tells of a lost husband; lost in one case almost as sure as the other;
the loss more hard to bear, when lost while living, than when lost by
death.

I was sitting, one night, in the corridor of this, with the exception of
its drinking "exchange," really good, well managed hotel, looking over
the balustrade, at the in-coming and out-going throng, counting the
numbers that went rum-ward as three to one, to those who went up the
solid stone steps, already deeply worn by the constant dropping of
feet, and trying to read the varied countenances of the ever-changing,
varying scene before me. It is a useful study, to study our own kind; it
is a good place, in the corridor of a great hotel, to practice. Every
now and then, a face beamed out from the mass which made me sensible
that it was not new, but whether an old acquaintance, or one seen before
in some other crowd, I could not tell. Once only I was sure that the
face which riveted my attention was that of one I had called friend,
yet, for my life, I could not tell when or where. It was one of those
faces which we never forget. It was one which a child would approach
with confidence, to ask for a favor. It was one, which a stranger in his
walk through the city, would pick out among a hundred, to ask for a
direction to a particular street. Ten chances to one, he would not be
satisfied to give that stranger a direction in words, but would turn
round, and go a little out of the way to show the inquirer the best
route, or stand upon the side-walk until one of the right line of stages
came up so as to be sure that he went right. There are a few such faces,
which go far to redeem the mass from the charge of coldness or
selfishness, which does seem to be the distinguishing mark of the
majority.

I followed this one up the steps, and as far as the vision extended, as
he walked away to one of the parlors. He was an elderly man, silvering
with age, neatly, but plainly dressed, and I could not help feeling that
he looked in everything about him, as though it would rejoice his very
soul to have a chance to do a good action. I was not mistaken. You will
not be if you read on. I could not sit still after he had passed up. I
went into a long train of thought upon the mental question, the one
absorbing question, "Who is he?" The argument grew intensely painful,
and I became so much absorbed in it, that I almost forgot for a moment
where I was, until I was brought back to consciousness by a little voice
in my ear, of, "Please to buy these, sir." I almost said, no, without
deigning to look up at the quasi beggar, as the frequency of the
question, in all public places, is such that it is somewhat annoying.
But there was a something in the tone of the voice that sent its
magnetic power through me, and put down that spirit which gives the cold
shoulder to the poor, and bids them "call again to-morrow."

"There is a Providence in all things," many a pious heart will aspirate,
as the truths of this little incident are made manifest. It does,
certainly, seem a little singular that this little pedlar girl should be
the chosen instrument of connexion between me and that benevolent
gentleman, whom I had been vainly endeavoring to recognise in thought,
and also another character, with which the reader is already acquainted.

What is there in a word, or tone, the mere sound of the voice, that
sends a stream of magnetic fluid through the system, to repel or attract
the speaker?

What singular means are used to bring about strange results! I was
magnetized by that voice. What the result was, you shall see. But after
the fluid had once entered my brain, I could no more repel the voice, or
its owner, or drive it away, than the iron can disengage itself from the
magnet. I looked up, and a little girl with a basket upon her arm was
standing by my side, holding up a pair of suspenders while she uttered
the "Please buy these, sir?" close to my ear. She was a pretty child,
between twelve and thirteen years old, rather precocious in appearance;
was neatly dressed, and possessed of such a mild, sweet voice, that the
mocking-bird might imitate it in his dulcet notes.

I could not say, no, in such tones as would send her away, and so I
replied, pleasantly, "No, my girl, I do not wish to buy them."

The timid take courage at mild words. Was she too, attracted by mine?
There is magnetism in the human voice.

"Then, perhaps, you will buy a box of matches?" "No." "Or a comb." "No."
"Oh, do buy something, sir, it is getting late, and I am so anxious to
sell a few shillings' worth more. Will you buy a pair of gloves? you
wear gloves, don't you? Oh! do let me sell you a pair, you look as
though you would buy something of me if you wanted anything. Will you
buy a shirt collar? There is a nice one, sir, one that my sick mother
made, sir. Will you buy that?"

"No, my girl, I never wear collars, but I will buy a pair of gloves, if
you will answer me a few questions."

"Will you? Well sir, if they are such as I may answer, I will, and I
don't think you would ask me any other--some men do, though."

"That is just one of the questions I wanted to ask you."

"Oh, sir, I wish you would not ask me what some men say to me, it is so
bad; only yesterday evening, one very bad man--but I cannot tell."

And she burst into tears.

"Well, then, don't tell if it distresses you so."

"It won't now, and I want to tell you, because I should like to let you
know what a good man that grey-headed old gentleman is that came in just
before I did."

"What, the one with a gold-headed cane?"

"Yes, sir, a tall man, with a grey frock-coat, and such a good-looking
face."

"Then, I do want you to tell me, if it is anything about him. I think I
have seen him before."

"Then, I hope you will again, for he is one of the real good men. Well,
sir, yesterday evening, I was here, and I offered to sell some things to
a young gentleman, and he talked so clever, that I felt glad to think
how many things he was going to buy, for he picked out a pair of gloves
and six shirt collars, and several other things, and told me to come up
to his room, and get the money, and I went up; I did not think it any
harm, for I had been up several times before to gentlemen's rooms, and
they never acted bad to me, but this one did, and I was so frightened
that I screamed, and then he caught me, and put his handkerchief to my
mouth, and I don't know what he would have done, but just then I heard a
rap at the door, and somebody demanded to come in, but the door was
locked, and he could not, and so the man that held me told him, but it
did no good, for he was a strong man, and he burst the lock off in an
instant, and how he did talk to the one in the room, and he made him
pay me for all the things he had picked out, and then he told him to
pack up his trunk, and leave the city by the first boat or railroad in
the morning. And then he told him how he had watched his manoeuvres,
and then he took me in his room, and talked to me so good, so kind, and
asked me all about my mother, and where she lived, and what she did, and
why I went about peddling, and all that; and then he asked me if I would
not like to go and live with some good family in the country? and then I
told him that I should like to live with him, for, indeed, sir, I loved
him, he talked so good to me. Then he gave a little sigh, and said, 'Ah,
my girl, I wish I had a home to take you to, but I have none; I am a
lone man in the world, but I will go and see your mother, and see what
we can do for you, as you have grown too big for such work as this. You
must quit it, or ruin is your doom,' and a great deal more, he said."

"And why have you followed it till now?"

"Because my mother would not let me quit it--in fact, sir, I do not see
how we could live if I did quit, for I make about three dollars a week,
and that is more than my mother can make with her needle, and work every
day till midnight; and then she is sick sometimes, and so I must do
something, for mother is very feeble and says she is almost worn out,
and that I shall soon have nobody but myself to work for. I am sure I
don't know what will become of me then; do you, sir?"

I thought, but dared not give it utterance. And I almost wept at the
certainty of her sad fate, if she remained in the city; a fate she could
not escape from, without abandoning her helpless mother, one of the poor
sewing women of this pandemonium.

"Now, will you buy the gloves, for I have answered all the questions you
asked?"

"One more. What is your mother's name?"

"May--Mrs. May. If you should want any shirts made, sir, there is her
name and number on that little card."

"Is that your mother's writing?"

"Yes, sir; don't she write pretty? I can write too, but not like that."

"Well, I shall call and see your mother, if I want work. Here is the
money for the gloves."

"I cannot make change; have you got the change, or shall I run out and
get it changed? I will if you will keep my basket."

"No, no; I do not wish any change. You may keep it all."

"Oh, that is just the way that good old gentleman said last night--keep
it all. Ah, me!"

And she gave a little start of surprise as she looked at the individual
who seemed to be standing behind my chair.

"Why, here he is now. I do wonder if he has heard me talking all about
him? I hope I have not said anything wrong."

"No, no, nothing that you need to blush for. I am glad you have found
another friend to talk with; one who is willing to pay you for the
time--time is money--that he keeps you from your business."

It was my turn to start now. I had heard that voice before. In a moment
I could fix it in my memory, though it was a good many years since I had
heard it, and then it was in the wilds of the West. I offered him my
hand, and said:

"We have shaken hands before. Your name is--"

"Lovetree. And now I know you. I thought it was some one whom I had seen
before. I saw you in such earnest conversation with this little pedlar
girl, that I could not help drawing nigh to hear; I must own I wished to
see if she would tell you the same story she did me. I think now she is
a girl of truth. What can we do for her? Shall we go and see her
mother?"

"I wish you would to-morrow. She is not at home to-night. She has
gone--at any rate she told me she would go to see a lady, a real good
lady, who is worse off than my mother, for she is in a bad house, and
she wants to get away; she told me so to-day, and they will not let her.
She is one of the best women in the world. She is a dress-maker, and she
used to live so nice in Broome street, close by my mother, with another
good girl, and that girl got married and moved away off out West, I
don't know how many thousand miles; and this girl got married too; and,
oh dear! her husband used to get so drunk, and go to bad places, and his
wife used to work and work; my mother used to work for her, and she was
good to my mother, and that is what makes me so sorry for her now."

"How came she in the bad house you tell of, and how did you come to find
her there?"

"Oh my, I cannot tell you all about it, I don't know; I know she had an
auction, and she went away in a carriage, and I felt so sorry, and I did
not know where she went; but to-day, I saw that same carriage, and saw
her with that same woman, and I followed it home, and then I went up to
the door, and I told the girl I had come to see Mrs. Morgan; that was no
lie, for I had, if I did not know before that she was there; and that
Mrs. Morgan wanted to buy some needles; that was a lie; but what should
I say, I wanted to see her so bad; and then the girl said, she was not
there, that there was no Mrs. Morgan in the house, and then I felt bad,
because I knew she was there, and I was afraid something was wrong, and
I began to cry, indeed, sir; don't laugh at me, I could not help it, I
would have cried my eyes out to see her, but the girl said, she was not
there, and I said, I saw her come there in the carriage, just a minute
ago; and then another girl told the servant girl, it was Lucy, Lucy
Smith, that I wanted to see; but I knew it was not, but I thought I
would go up and see Lucy Smith, and may be she would tell me about Mrs.
Morgan; and so I went to Lucy Smith's room, and I rapped on the door,
and somebody said, come in; I thought I should go off, for I knew the
voice in a minute, and I opened the door, and then it was not Lucy
Smith, they only called her so for sham, and so that nobody would know
her; it was Mrs. Morgan. How glad I was to see her, and how glad she was
to see me; how she did hug me and kiss me, and call me her little pet;
and then she told me--but you don't want to hear--why did you not stop
me before--my mother says I always talk too much when I get a-going; I
am sorry that I have talked so much, but, oh, how I do wish you would go
and see Mrs. Morgan, and help her to get away from there; I will give
you all the money I have made to-day, to help you, and I am sure my
mother would give it as soon as I would, for she cried and took on so
when I told her. Oh dear! I know well enough she never would be a bad
woman, unless they made her."

"I do not understand this matter at all; do you?"

"Oh, yes, I replied, perfectly. Some poor unfortunate woman, with a
miserable, drunken husband, has been driven by necessity, probably to
take up her abode in some house of sin, where she finds her life
miserable, and is anxious to escape; I suppose that is it."

"Anxious to escape! Why, sir, you confuse me worse than ever. No one is
obliged to stay in such houses, are they? If she wished to go away, she
could go; it is her own sinful choice that she is there."

"Friend Lovetree, how long have you lived out West?"

"Well, some twenty-five years, I suppose. You have a short way of
turning a corner. Was I talking anything about the West?"

"No. Twenty-five years. This city has changed some in that time, and you
have got behind the times. You don't know as much as this little girl
about this matter. Ask her."

"How is it little girl--what did you tell me was your name?"

"Stella, sir, Stella May."

"Well then Stella, what is to hinder this Mrs. Morgan from coming away
if she wishes?"

"Because she is in debt, sir."

"Debt, sir, debt! do private citizens imprison their fellows for debt?
Are women compelled to live in houses of prostitution in this city, a
city where the Bible is read and gospel preached, against their will?
Preposterous, I will not believe it."

"Nevertheless it is gospel truth, as much as the Bible itself. The
keepers of such houses sometimes inveigle innocent young girls into
their dens, board and clothe them, and get them in debt, and in fact
make them slaves, as sure as those who are bought and sold in southern
cities. They cannot leave unless they leave naked, with the mark of
their owner branded, not upon the surface of their bodies, but burnt
into the inmost recesses of the mind.

"Sometimes those who go there voluntarily, repent afterwards most
bitterly, most gladly would leave, but the door is closed against them,
they are shut out of the world by the mark upon them, and shut in by
their creditor mistress, or kept in such a state of intoxication that
they have no time to redeem themselves from their life of slavery.

"From this little girl's account I venture to say that this woman is
some one of the thousands of poor seamstresses, who stitch and starve in
this city, who perhaps in very despair after a long struggle to live
with a drunken husband, has been tempted into one of these places, and
is now repenting grievously, and would gladly get away, but has not the
means to do so; for she lacks a small sum to pay her greedy landlady
some iniquitous charge, and a few dollars and some friend to assist her
in her immediate necessities. Thus she will live a short life of
excitement, and go friendless and unwept to an early grave."

"She shall not. She shall not. I have money, useless, idle, more than I
shall ever want, and I have no friends. I will be her friend, I will
rescue her, and she shall be mine."

Stella, the little pedler, had stood as though transfixed, during all
this time, drinking in every word, until she found that her friend, poor
Mrs. Morgan, would have some one to care for her, some one to love her
as she loved her, one who had money, "more money than he wanted," to
assist her, and then she grew as enthusiastic as Mr. Lovetree. She
caught him by the hand, and as the tears ran down her cheeks, tears of
joy, blessed tears, that drop like honey upon the lips, sending
sweetness through every channel of sensation in the whole system, she
said, "Will you, will you give her money to get out of that place? Will
you go and see her? Will you love her? Oh I am so happy! I must run home
and tell my mother, and that will make her happy too. Now I am so glad I
told you all about it."

"And you will do it," said she, looking up in his face so earnestly,
"yes, I know you will, you don't look like one of those kind of folks
who say one thing and mean another."

Yes he would do it, I knew that; naturally enthusiastic, though not
easily carried away by sudden flaws of side winds, when he once said, "I
will do it," it was half done.

"Now I will run home and tell mother, for I want her to be as happy as
me. Good night."

"Stop, stop a moment, you have not told us where the poor lady is that
you wish us to go and see, nor what her name is."

"Oh dear, I forgot that. Yes I told you, Mrs. Morgan, but you want her
whole name; well that is such a pretty name; I love pretty names; have
you a card, I will write it for you."

"What, can you write?"

"Oh yes, sir, before we got so poor, I used to go to school. I would
like to go now, but I have no time. You ought to see my mother write;
she can write so pretty."

I saw what was working in the benevolent old gentleman's face, while
Stella was writing. He had heard her say, "I would like to go to school
now," and he was resolving in his mind, "Why not? Why should I not send
her there? I have none of my own to send." It was a good resolve.

"There, that is it. 'Mrs. Athalia Morgan, at Mrs. Laylor's in H----n
street.' I don't recollect the number, but you can find it easy enough;
mother says it does seem as though the evil one always stood ready to
lead folks to such houses. But you had better inquire for Lucy Smith.
They don't know her by any other name there. Shall I go now? Good night.
I am so anxious to tell mother."

"Athalia!--Athalia!" said my friend, as he spelt over the name on the
card. "Athalia! oh, pshaw! that is nonsense, yet it might be--why not? I
say, my little girl, you knew her before she was married. What was her
name then?"

"And what is that, 'why not,' and what about that name? The little girl
is well on her way home, by this time, if she kept on at the speed she
went down stairs. Her earnestness makes me begin to feel a good deal
interested in that woman."

"Nothing, only a thought, a mere passing thought, and yet I cannot shake
it off. It is rather an unusual name. I had a brother--yes, I had a
brother, whether I have or not now, I cannot tell; yet he was not
exactly a brother either, though we called the same woman mother, and
the same man father, and whether he is living now or not I cannot say,
but think not. He did very badly, drank up all his property, and took
the usual course, and I suppose he is dead, and his wife too, and then
his children are orphans, and why not this be one of them; it is the
same name. Athalia--it is not a common name; if it had been I should not
remember it, for I never saw her but once, then a little girl not as big
as this one just here. I wish she had not run away so soon, before I
could ask her a single question. What shall I do now?"

"Go and ask Athalia herself."

"What! to-night? It is now ten o'clock, time all respectable citizens
were in bed. It is too late."

"No, it is never too late to begin to do good. It is just the hour that
the lives of the inmates of such houses, as we propose to visit, begin.
From this till one or two o'clock, drinking, carousing, swearing, and
all sorts of revelry and debauchery, and then----it is well that night
has curtains. Now this house where we are to go, however, I take, from
its location, to be one of a different character, one that maintains a
show of respectability, yet is one of the most dangerous, for its
victims are drawn from among a class just as good as Stella has
described Mrs. Morgan."

"You think, then, that we may go there safely, at this hour of the
night?"

"As safely, as respects our persons, as to church. As dangerously, as
respects our morals, as the poor weak bird fluttering within the charmed
circle of the fascinating serpent."

"As to that I fear nothing."

"So has said many a one. I say,

    'He must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil,'

or he will soon come to such familiarity that he will eat freely out of
the same dish. No man is proof against the fascinations of a designing
woman. But as we go doubly armed, for our cause is just, let us go, go
at once, for I see you are excited about that name. It would be strange,
if it should prove to be your niece."

"Yes and stranger still, the way that we have been brought together, and
to a knowledge of her, through our mutual sympathy for this little
pedler girl, such an one as we may see every hour in the streets,
without exciting a passing thought. What a mysterious power governs all
our actions, and how we are influenced and turned aside from the path
we had marked out, by the most trivial circumstances. I had seen this
little girl come in here and offer her little wares a score of times,
without paying any attention to her or her movements, except to wonder
how any mother could trust such a child, bright, good-looking, free
spoken, forward--that is, precocious--among so many fops and libertines,
who would take advantage of her some day, and by deceit and money work
her ruin. Last night I had put on my gloves and hat, and was just
walking out as she came in with her 'Please to buy this, sir,' and why I
did not go out I cannot tell, but some unaccountable influence turned me
back, and I picked up a paper and sat apparently absorbed in its
contents, while my ear was open and mind awake to every word and
movement of the libertine rascal who made a pretence of buying
liberally, to induce her to go up to his room to get the pay. I
followed, watched him to his room, heard the key turn in the lock, heard
all his conversation, his vile proposals, and her virtuous rejection,
with an energy, 'that she had rather starve and see her mother dead;'
and then I heard a struggle and I knew the villain was using his brutal
strength upon a weak girl, and then I burst the door, and then--you know
the rest."

"Why did you not strike the villain dead at your feet?"

"That is savage nature."

"Why not arrest and punish him, then, for his attempt at rape?"

"That is civilized nature."

"What then did you do?"

"I forgave him, and bade him repent, and ask God to forgive him, as I
did."

"Lovetree, give me your hand, I give you my heart; I stand rebuked. I
understand you now, that was Christian nature. Let us go."

Reader, walk with us. We threaded our way along the crowded side-walk,
passing or meeting, between the Astor House and Canal street, not less
than fifty girls; some of them not over twelve years old, many about
fourteen or fifteen, some of them superbly beautiful, naturally or
artificially, and all, such as the spirit, hovering over the poor
shipwrecked mariner upon the stormy ocean, cries wildly to, as they
sink, down, down, to death, "lost, lost, lost!"

"Why, why, tell me why they are permitted to roam through the streets,
plying their seductive arts? Where are your police? Where your city
Fathers?--guardians of the morals of strangers and citizens! How can
anything, male or female, remain pure in such an atmosphere of impurity?
Where are your laws? laws of love that lift up the fallen. Where all
your high-paid, well-fed city guardians, who should watch the city
youth, to keep them from becoming impure?"

Echo gave the answer, and it reverberated back and forth from granite
wall to freestone, from marble front to red-burnt bricks, from dark
cellar to gas-lighted hall, from low dens of death to high rooms of
wealth and fashion, from law makers to law breakers; echo came back with
that one word, "Impure, impure, impure."

How the throng go thoughtlessly onward. Do they ever think--think what
a sirocco blast from the valley of the Upas tree, is sweeping over this
city? Do mothers ever inquire, ever think whether it is possible for
their sons to escape the contagion of such company as they keep in the
great evening promenade of this mighty Babylon? Have New York mothers no
feeling of fear for their sons? or has "the pestilence that walketh in
darkness," obtained such strength that this is overcome? or has the
plague spot grown so familiar to their eyes that they no longer seek to
wash it out? If they have given up their sons, if they have surrendered
the great street to the almost exclusive occupancy, at night, of painted
harlots; have they also given up their daughters, surrendered them to
the wiles of the seducer? do they let them go out without fear, even in
company with their male friends, to be jostled upon the side-walks by
midnight ramblers, and seated at the same table, at some of the great
"saloons," side by side with those who win to kill, whose trade is
death, whose life is gilded misery, though enticing as the siren's song?
Have they forgotten that we are all creatures of surrounding
circumstances, subject to like influences, and liable to the same
disease as those who breathe the same atmosphere, and if that is impure,
those who breathe it may become so?

Even now, while I write, the "New York Daily Tribune," gives this "Item"
to its readers:--

     "MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE.--On Sunday evening last, between six
     and seven o'clock, Miss G. C---- left her father in Spring
     street, near Broadway, to go to her brother-in-law's (Mr.
     B----), No. -- Spring street, since which time nothing has been
     heard of her, and it is feared that she has been dealt foully
     with. She is seventeen years of age, good-looking and rather
     tall; dark complexion, and dark eyes; lisps somewhat when in
     conversation. She was dressed in plaid, light and dark stripe;
     Talma cape; straw bonnet, trimmed with white outside, and green
     and white inside. Her disappearance has caused the deepest
     affliction to her family, and any information that can be given
     will be gratefully received by her aged parent, No.--Spring
     street."

"It is feared that she has been foully dealt with." Yes, and it ought to
be feared that "good-looking, rather tall" young girls, are foully dealt
with in the streets of this city, every night in the week. It is feared
she is not the first girl of seventeen, whose "mysterious disappearance
has caused the deepest affliction to her family."

"Any information will be gratefully received." Yes, any information will
be gratefully received by the author of this book, which he can use
effectually to awaken aged parents to the fact, that each one of these
girls who wander the streets at midnight, or who fill up the dens of
infamy that line whole blocks of some of the best streets in this city,
is somebody's child; some "mysterious disappearance," that has caused
deep affliction, and will cause more, for she is now influencing others
to disappear from the path of rectitude, in the same way that she did.

Perhaps, yea, it is probable, more than probable, that Miss G. C---- has
been inveigled into one of these dens where worse than cannibals live,
for they only eat the body, while these destroy the soul.

How long would a house be permitted to stand, where human flesh was
served up as a banquet for those who delighted to feast upon such dainty
food? A house where young girls were driven in by force or fascination,
to be cooked and eaten by young epicures and gouty gormandizers. How the
city's indignation would boil over, and how the storm of wrath would
beat upon that house, until there would not be one stone left upon
another.

Yet how calmly that same public sleeps on by the side of a thousand
worse houses, where victims are worse than cooked and eaten every
day--they are roasted alive.

How coldly parents will read that "mysterious disappearance;" they will
never think that girl has been destroyed by cannibals, far worse are
here--they belong to savage life.

How carelessly, how thoughtlessly mothers will read this page that tells
how their daughters may be influenced to ruin themselves, by such
unfortunate associations as they must meet with in their walks through
the city, while our municipal government permits the streets to be
monopolized by the impure, because it is itself just what the echo
answered.

How I would rejoice if I could make the truth manifest, as regards this
matter, that, "to the pure all things are pure."

Now, let us walk on.

You need not stop to drop anything into the hand of that woman with a
child on her lap. True, she looks like a pitiable object, with her
opium-drugged infant wrapped in that old blue cloak, but she is not. She
is a professional beggar. I have known her these three years. That child
is not hers. It is hired for the purpose. It draws a share of the
benefit, as it does the sympathy of those who are attracted by that
well-put-on, appealing look. That child is kept by a woman who keeps
three others "to let." They never grow too big. Laudanum is not the food
that infants grow upon. They will die young, and others will be begged,
borrowed, or stolen, for the same purpose.

There, the sixpence you have given that little child, will go into the
till of that "family grocery," before we are a block farther on our way.
I know her.

It is hardly charity to give to that man; I know him too, and where he
lives.

"But, he is blind."

I know it, and that is his fortune. With it he supports himself and
family of great idle girls and boys, better than many others live who
labor. He is a stout, rugged, hearty man, capable of doing much useful
labor, if he had any one to direct him.

"Well, here, what of this?"

Yes, you may give there; no, give me the quarter, see what I will do
with it. I will buy two smiles.

"Good evening, Joseph, how do you do this evening?"

"Oh, very well, sir, thank you. How are you this evening?"

"Very well. How is trade with you, Joseph? Do these gay people buy your
bouquets?"

"Well, some do, sir, but these big boys and stout men can run about and
forestall a poor black man who has got no legs."

"Joseph, has that sewing woman been down this evening; the one who
always stops to give you a kind word and look, and smell of your
flowers?"

"What, the one that looks so pale, the one who makes shirt collars; the
one you gave the bouquet to, sir?"

"Yes; and I want you to give her another, here is the money."

"I wish I had known it a few minutes ago, for her daughter went by; she
stopped a moment just to admire this one, and said, how she did wish she
could afford to buy it for her mother; and then she said, it did not
matter, she had such good news to tell her, and she picked up her
basket, and away she ran."

There was a queer idea came into my mind, when he said basket, just as
though there could be but one girl out to-night with a basket. I was
about to drive away the idea as a foolish one, when something whispered
me, "Ask him." So I did.

"A girl with a basket? Who is that girl with a basket; do you know her
name?"

"Oh, yes. We call her, the little pedler. She is a nice girl. Her
mother's name is May."

The queer idea was a true one after all. And so this woman, whom I had
often seen speaking pleasant words to this poor legless Negro man, who
sits night after night, upon the Broadway side-walk, selling bouquets,
is Mrs. May, the little pedler's mother.

"Do you know where she lives?--could you get anybody to carry this to
her to-night?"

"Yes, sir, here is Tom Top, he will go in a minute; he will do anything
for me, or for a lady; he is ragged and dirty, but he is a good boy; it
is a pity he had not somebody to be good to him. Tom, will you go to
Mrs. May's for me? Stella, the little pedler's mother, you know where
she lives?"

"Yes, sir, shall I carry that? Is that for Stella?"

"No, that is for her mother."

"And this," said Mr. Lovetree, picking up another beauty, "this is for
Stella. Stop, Tom. Here is a shilling for you. Don't tell who sent you.
Now let us go on. You know this poor black fellow, then, do you? What is
his name!"

"Joseph Butler. He was a sailor. He was shipwrecked, and lost his legs
by freezing, fourteen years ago. He has been to sea five years since, as
cook, hobbling around on the stumps. Now, he supports his family by
selling bouquets. Did you ever see a finer face? Always cheerful,
intelligent, and polite; it is a pleasure to buy flowers of him. It is a
wonder that ladies and gentlemen do not all feel it a duty and pleasure
both, to buy all their bouquets of this poor cripple."

"It is because they never think. If they did, they certainly would."

"Then, I must ask them to think. I must try and awaken the sympathies of
the benevolent to look at this poor unfortunate black man as they pass,
and see if they do not think him a fit subject for honest sympathy. He
is not a beggar. He gives a fair equivalent for your money. At least,
give him a kind word, or pleasant look, and he will return you the
same."

How we do linger in our walk. So will you, reader, if you come to New
York, and undertake to see all the curiosities of Broadway, in one
night.

At length, we reached Mrs. Laylor's. It is a handsome house, in a quiet
street. My friend hesitated about entering. He thought I must be
mistaken. It did not look like what he had conceived of such houses.
Then he was afraid they would suspect us, and would not let us in.

"For the fact is, we do not look much like the class of men who visit
such places," said he.

"That shows how little you know of life in New York. Let me manage this
matter, and I assure you, they will think us two old rakes, rich ones,
too, out of whom they may make a harvest."

So we went up the broad, high steps, and rang the bell with a jerk, that
said, as near as bells can speak, that is somebody that has been here
before. The lady, as is the usual practice, came herself to the door,
unlocked it, and opened it a little way, where it is held by a chain, so
that she could reconnoitre, and if the company did not suit, or if a
stranger applied, she would refuse him, particularly, if she had plenty
of company, unless he could give very good references.

I thought of that, and so I said, with the same confidence that I had
put into my pull of the bell, "Good evening, Mrs. Laylor, how do you do
this evening? You were unwell the other evening when I was here. This is
Mr. Treewell, from the South." That was an "open sesame," that undid
the chain directly, and we walked in as old acquaintances. True, she
could not exactly locate us, but our easy assurance carried us through.

"Walk into the parlor, gentlemen, there is nobody there, we are quite
alone this evening. Or, will you go in the back room; the young ladies
and I were having a little game of whist together, to drive off the
dullness."

Yes, to drive off the dullness, thought I; to get rid of the horror of
thinking. That is the greatest curse that this class of women have to
endure. They cannot bear to think. They must have something "to drive
off the dullness." If they have no company, they must play cards, or
something else to keep away thought. If they have company, wine is the
panacea. They cannot afford to buy it themselves, but they often
persuade gentlemen to do so, pretending to be very thirsty, when they
have just been drinking, because that is a part of the contract upon
which they are kept by the mistress of the house. If a girl had any
conscientious scruples about coaxing a gentleman to buy, or about
drinking, or wasting all the wine that all of them would buy, she would
be trained into the work, or turned out of doors. So that it is a very
rare thing for one of them to go to bed sober. In the morning, or rather
towards night, when they wake up, they are almost unable to dress
themselves for the next scene in the round of dissipation, until they
have sent out and got a little cheap rum, "to bring them up."

Those who have studied the life of these poor, wretched women as
carefully as I have, will not wonder at the shortness of it.

Of course we accepted the very polite invitation to go in where the
young ladies were. We had an object in doing so. Neither of us knew Mrs.
Morgan, and if we should inquire for her, if it suited the convenience
of madame she would palm off any other one that she thought she could
make pass. I adopted my plan of operations very quickly. I thought if
they had had no company yet to-night, they had had no wine, and
consequently would not be in the best of moods to be communicative. As
soon as we were introduced, I ordered a bottle of wine and thought I
would find out if either of the three girls present answered to the name
of Lucy, and if she did, I intended to whisper one word in her ear, and
that word should be "Athalia," and watch what emotion it produced.

It would be entirely impossible for a stranger to form an idea what an
emotion the very name of wine caused among them. They were fairly
longing for it. We were in the good graces of all the household at once.
I pleaded headache not to drink. Lovetree took his glass with them. I
fixed upon one that I thought perhaps might be Athalia, but soon found
that she was called Nannette.

Another was Belle, and the third was Adelaide. The latter was one of the
most perfectly beautiful girls in face and form I ever saw, and she had
really pretty red hair. I have often met or passed her since that in the
street and never without admiring her beauty and thinking of her
mother, and how she must mourn "a girl lost."

I was now satisfied that Athalia was not in the room, and I said
carelessly. "Where is that other girl I saw here, with brown hair and
blue eyes, not very tall?"

"What was her name?"

"Oh, confound names, I never can think of names."

"Oh, I know who he means," said Adelaide, "it is Lucy, Lucy Smith."

"Yes, yes, that is it. It is Lucy at any rate."

"She is in her room. She has got the dumps--the blues--I should not
wonder if she was all melted by this time, she has been crying these
three days."

"Crying, why what has she to cry about? I should not think anybody need
to cry in this house, you never cry, do you?"

The very question almost brought a tear, but she drove it back.

"Well, Lucy must come down and have some wine. Get her down, and we will
have another bottle."

"She won't come. We are all tired of trying. She has got the pouts,
because Mrs. Laylor took her trunk away from her to keep for her board.
She don't make any thing. All she ever did make was out of Frank
Barkley, and that she gave to redeem her watch and a good-for-nothing
old Bible I don't see what she wants of that."

"Well, I am going to have her down--I have no opinion of having any girl
in the dumps. Where is her room?"

"Third floor back room. That is right, go and bring her out whether or
no. She has hardly been out for a week till to-day Mrs. Laylor took her
out riding with her, to try to put a little life in her, for fear she
would die on her hands, and she would have to bury her for charity."

"Well, well, I will bring her down, see if I don't. Come, Treewell, if
she will not come without we will bring her."

So away we went upstairs, now satisfied that we were on the right trail,
and that we had completely lulled all suspicion that we wanted anything
of Lucy Smith, except to compel the poor heart-sick woman to join in a
Bacchanalian revel, at which her soul revolted. Up, up we went, passed
three "private rooms," in which we will not seek to look, for they are
occupied by those who come veiled and in the dark. Here is the room we
want. We knocked but received no welcome "come in."

How quick she would open the door if she knew who was waiting for
admission. Tired of knocking, we enter unbidden, and find the room
empty. The prisoner has escaped.

The truth flashed upon my mind in a moment. She has gone off with Mrs.
May. Mr. Lovetree thought not, for Stella said they would not let her go
out except some one in the house went with her to watch her.

"No matter. I am almost sure that woman has got her away. These women
are great at contrivance. Very likely she came prepared for it, as
Stella told her of course, all that Mrs. Morgan had told her."

We made a light and the first thing that Lovetree saw was the Bible,
and Athalia's name--her age and birth-place and the age and names of her
father and mother and grandfather and grandmother, a complete family
record. I thought the man would go crazy. It would have made him nearly
crazy if he had found her an inmate here, as much lost to shame as those
we had just been carousing with, and now to find that she was not here
put him into a perfect agony. He thought he could not live till morning
without seeing her. At first we thought of going directly to Mrs. May's
but then we recollected we did not know where she lived and could not
find out, for I had lost her card that Stella gave me.

Finally we concluded to go down and talk a minute in the same kind of
sang froid manner, to keep up our assumed characters and then go home
and await coming events.

We were rallied as we entered the room with a jeering laugh at not being
able to bring one woman between us both.

Then I pretended to get angry at being sent upon a fool's errand, to a
room where nobody was at home. At that Mrs. Laylor started.

"Was she not in the room?"

"No, nor has not been lately. You are playing tricks with the wrong
persons, trying to fool us."

"Indeed, gentlemen, upon my honor it is no trick."

She rang the servants' bell violently. "Martha, do you know where Lucy
Smith is? She is not in her room. Have you let her out to-night?"

"No, ma'am. I have not let anybody out but that sewing woman."

"Where is Kate? Send Kate up. Kate have you let anybody out to-night?"

"Yes, ma'am. I let that sewing woman out."

"You let her out! Martha says she let her out."

"So I did."

"And so did I."

"Both of you."

"I did."

"Well, I did."

"You have let out the ----. Get out of the room, you stupid Irish ----s.
You have let out the sewing woman, sure enough. I have lost my bet which
I made with Frank, of a hundred dollars that I would keep her here till
she would not want to go away."

And there was such, a string of oaths as I never heard before, and hope
I never shall hear again, particularly from female profane lips. None
but a drunken slave driver, ever poured out such a stream of awful
language, full of oaths, anger and billingsgate expressions, at the
escape of one of his victims, as she did at the escape of a woman whom
she had determined to debase to her own level, until she had brought her
to that condition that she would feel degraded in the eyes of the world,
would know that all her own sex had closed and barred the door against
her, so that she could never return to the paths of virtue, and she
would be to her mistress a "profitable investment," for she would be
attractive, by her beauty and manners, and "draw custom to the house."
But she had escaped--gone off too in a temper of mind which might send
retribution back upon the head of one who under the guise of friendship
had first robbed, then by pretended debt, enslaved her mind, coaxed and
almost driven her into intoxication, and then prostituted her most
shamefully. It would be idle to pretend that Athalia had escaped without
sin. She had not. She had sinned deeply. She said afterwards while
claiming some extenuation, though by no means trying to justify her
fall, that her mind was so wrought upon by her disappointments of life,
by her lone and friendless condition, by the accumulation of debt, by
the terrible treachery of those she had entrusted herself with as such
disinterested friends, by her anxiety to obtain her valued keepsakes and
get money enough to redeem them, and then escape from the pandemonium
she found that she had unwittingly entered, that she had determined to
drown her thoughts in wine, and then she accepted the oft-repeated
proposals of Frank Barkley to redeem her watch, which he honorably did,
but which another _friend_, one of Mrs. Laylor's friends, whom she
forced her to accept, and which cost her the friendship of Frank, robbed
her of, and carried off so that she never saw it again; whether he kept
it or gave it to Mrs. Laylor, she never knew.

Often she intended to fly, but it seemed to her that she could not get
away; she was kept in one constant whirl of excitement so that she could
not reason with herself long enough to determine what to do. What
deterred her most, was that she had nowhere to go to, no friend to call
upon for counsel or assistance, and thus she went on from day to day,
adopting one plan in the morning to discard it at night.

Frank was very kind to her in a certain measure. He liked her, but it
was a very selfish liking. He did not like to hear her talk about
leaving. He liked her there, and he was almost as much her jailer as
Mrs. Laylor. He took her out to all manner of dissipation, theatres,
saloons, late suppers, balls and frolics, in which strong drink--not
Athalia Morgan--acted as wild a part as the wildest. But he offered her
no means of escape. She began to have a sort of fondness for Frank. What
woman can avoid liking one who is devoted to her? But this devotion to
one was not what Mrs. Laylor wished. It was not what brought the most
money to her iron chest. She would like to negotiate the charms of
Athalia to some rich libertine every day, whenever she could meet with
one fool enough to pay her well for her influence with the "young
widow."

Among the most determined of her suitors, was a young Frenchman, who
used every art which he knew well how to use with words and money, to
win Athalia's favor. As a last resort, he pledged a splendid diamond
ring to Mrs. Laylor, if she would accomplish what he could not.

When all other arts fail to work ruin and misery in a woman's mind,
there is one left, one which concentrates all the power of all the lies
of the father of deception. It is jealousy.

There is a little story in "Othello," about the arts of a villain, to
produce mischief by that power. It is nothing compared with the villainy
and lies invented to produce jealousy between Frank and Athalia, so as
to let in the Frenchman, and win that ring.

Villainy is too often successful in this life. It was in this case.
Jealousy, a feeling of revenge, drives more women to infidelity towards
those they love, than all other causes.

It did its perfect work with Athalia, and then the fiend who had
accomplished the work, laughed at her, and told her how she had been
fooled, thinking it would have the usual effect, to make her careless of
what she did in future. It had an entirely different effect upon
Athalia. It was this that produced the state of mind that Adelaide
called the dumps, the blues, and the tears that Stella saw her shed.
Stella had told her mother much that Athalia told her, much that the
child did not understand, but the mother did, for she knew how girls
were inveigled into those houses, and kept there as prisoners.

I have lately witnessed a scene, highly illustrative of this fact. It is
one of the "Life Scenes of New York."

Coming up one of the streets west of Broadway, about one o'clock at
night, I saw a fellow hovering near a house, whom I recognized as a
Negro wood-sawyer that I had seen the day before, engaged at the same
house, putting wood down the cellar grate. I knew him or thought I did,
as a poor but honest man, and I felt pained with a fear that I had been
deceived, that he had left the grate unfastened, and now was about to
steal something from the cellar. I passed on around the next corner, out
of sight, and then turned back and crossed over, where I could have a
full view of his operations. There were no lamps burning, because there
should, or might have been moonlight, if it had been clear; as it was,
it was a fitting time for the burglar's trade. Directly, the fellow
approached the grate, opened it carefully, and drew up a trunk. My heart
beat with excitement, fear, and sorrow. I was just on the point of
calling, "Watch," I must own with a view of letting the fellow escape,
and saving the trunk, when I saw a bonnet, then a shawl, and then a full
suit of woman's clothes follow the trunk up from that dark recess. My
mind was somewhat relieved; my honest wood-sawyer might be honest still,
though he was probably assisting a dishonest woman; else why did she
leave that house, to all appearance, an honest house, for all that I had
ever seen in passing it a hundred times, in such a clandestine manner.
The Negro walked on with the trunk on his shoulder, and the woman
followed. It was a scene of such frequent occurrence, that it would
excite no suspicion or question from a policeman. He would think it was
a passenger by the train, from Boston, or Albany, or the Erie railroad,
all of which make midnight arrivals.

On they went, block after block, and I followed, till I thought the
chase likely to prove a long one, and then I stepped up to the woman,
and laying my hand upon her shoulder, said, "Stop!" She uttered a little
cry of alarm, and said, "Oh, don't take me up, please don't."

The Negro stopped, looked round, and set down the trunk hastily,
evidently supposing that a star had nabbed her, and that the better part
of a fight consists in running away. There was a light here, for the
lamp-lighters were just going their late rounds. He gave one glance back
before he started, to be sure he had good cause to run, and instantly
burst into a most merry fit of laughter, very unlike what might be
supposed that of a caught burglar.

[Illustration: "'SPEC A BODY HAS A RIGHT TO STEAL OWN TRUNK."--_Page
285._]

"Ha! ha! ha! ki, missee, you don't know dat gemman? You nebber seed dat
gemman 'fore? You tink him a star? Look at um. You tink he look so he
hurt you? He wouldn't hurt a child, much more a woman. I know dat
gemman. Ki, I mighty glad to see him. 'Spose tell him all about um? Spec
he say a body has a right to steal he own trunk, and run away from such
a house as dat."

"Such a house as that, Peter; is that not a good house?"

"Well, spec him house good enough, but spec he folks dat lib dare, not
'zactly straight up and down like dog hind leg."

"Why, Peter, what do you mean? Is not that Mr. Ingram, whose name I see
on the door, and whom I know as apparently a gentleman of wealth and
leisure, for I have often seen him associating with gentlemen about the
hotels; is he not the gentleman of the house?"

"Gentlum! Lord, sir, he is dat woman's man, her pimp, she gives him all
dem fine clothes and gold rings, and he gets fellows to come an see her
gals."

"Mercy on me! The outside of the platter is made clean, while the inside
is full of dead men's bones."

"Dat's just what Agnes says; she says, she find dead men's bones in the
ashes, and buttons, and bits of burnt woman's clothes in a pile in the
cellar, and she seed woman's ghost dare, and she won't stay in dat house
no how can fix um, and dat's what it mean 'bout I got dis trunk; did
you see how I get him, massa?"

"Yes, I did, and I want to know something about why you 'get him' at
this time of night out of that cellar. The ghost story won't do; if she
was afraid of ghosts she would not go down into that cellar at night any
more than she would go down to her grave. It won't do."

"Oh, sir, the ghost goes upstairs every night, to stay in the room where
she was seduced. None of the girls in the house will stay in that room.
They gave it to me when first I went there. I did not know it was
haunted then, but I found out afterwards that it was, for she told me
so, and how she was shut up in the coal cellar, and starved, and
suffocated to death, and then cut up, and part of her body burned, and
part buried in lime and ashes, and how, if I would look in one corner of
the cellar, I would find some of her bones, and I did; and then I
determined to run away, and that is why I am hero."

"And what are you going to do now?"

"I am going home with Peter, I have got nowhere else to go, and then I
shall try to get a place."

"A place! Why, Peter, is not this one of the girls of that house?"

"Why, no, not 'zactly; but 'spose you go wid us in my house, he close by
here now, and she tell you all about herself. I spec she not a bad gal,
sir."

"Go ahead then;" and he shouldered his load, and went a few steps
farther, and then turned into a dark alley, where I should have
hesitated about following the burglars, but now followed the honest,
good-hearted wood-sawyer, and his protégé with delightful pleasure, up
the long, dark alley into the centre of the block, and there was a
tenant house, inhabited by the better class of blacks. Compared with
some of those full of foreigners, it was a little paradise. Up, up to
the sixth story, that is where the poor live; here is where the poor
legless Negro flower-seller lives, with his nice little family; a door
opened as we approached, and a light shined out, and a voice said:

"Is dat you, Peter? Has you got her, Peter? Thank God for that!"

It was Peter's wife, rejoicing at the rescue of a woman from perdition.
One of a poor, down-trodden race, a member of a Christian church, yet
considered unworthy to sit by the side of white skinned (thin skinned)
Christians, doing a most Christian act, such an one as many of her
sisters in the church would consider beneath their dignity to do.

We entered Peter's home. It was but one small room, scantily, yet neatly
furnished. There was a little stove, and all necessary cooking utensils,
and plenty of dishes, a table, a bureau, a carpet on the floor, a stand
in one corner covered with a clean white cloth, and on this a large
Bible, covered with green baize, lying open, with Phebe's spectacles on
the page, indicating her employment while waiting and watching for Peter
to return, as she expected, with company--one more than she expected.
There was a bedstead in one corner, from which a portion of the bed had
been removed and made into a nice pallet upon the floor, in readiness
for an expected lodger. Agnes met a warm welcome from Phebe. We shall
see Phebe again, out on another errand of mercy. In some of these ever
shifting scenes, we may have another glimpse of Agnes. Peter explained
to Phebe, how I happened to be in company, and then we all sat down to
hear Agnes's story. I shall not tell it now. But I will tell here
another little story, which will give a clue to what she said about the
haunted house.

It is a story about "a girl lost."

The "Tribune" one day published an appeal to the kind-hearted of the
city, to give a distracted family some information of "a girl lost."

She was "a good-looking, rather tall girl, seventeen years of age, dark
complexion and dark hair. She was well-dressed, and started to go from
her father's house in Spring street, near Broadway, to her brother's in
the same street.

"And she was lost!"

Some stranger who reads that simple announcement, one who has spent a
night at one of the three great hotels on the corners of Spring street
and Broadway, may wonder that a girl should be lost in such a
respectable neighborhood. He does not know that the guests of one of
those great hotels look down from one side upon one of the worst
gambling hells and police-permitted gambling lottery offices in the
city, and on the other side upon still worse premises; houses which the
vocabulary of infamous language has no words black enough to describe;
houses which are ever open for innocent young girls to enter--from which
innocent young girls never return. They are "lost." This is not the
first girl lost in New York. These are not the first parents who have
been deeply afflicted; who have appealed in vain through the press for
any information of "a girl lost."

I have a little incident to relate of a girl lost. A few years ago No.
000 Church street, was accounted the "luckiest house in the street."
There are a great many unlucky ones in that street now, and that
particular one is esteemed the most unlucky of all of them. It should be
so. It was in that house about three years ago, that a girl was lost.
For the sake of her parents, brothers and sisters, and large family of
relatives, I will not give her true name. You may call it Julia
Montgomery. She was just such a girl as the one described in the
"Mysterious Disappearance!" She was tall and handsome, just seventeen,
with dark hair and eyes, and well dressed. She lived in one of the river
towns, and came down upon one of the barges that float down such a
multitude of things produced by farmers, in company with her father and
mother, who brought some of their own produce to market. On the same
boat were two young men who had been up the river, they said, on a
sporting excursion. This was true. But they might have added, "What is
sport to us is death to you." They were gamblers. On the passage they
made the acquaintance of Julia, and by their bland manners completely
won the confidence of the old folks. When they arrived, they were very
anxious that Julia should go home with them and see their sisters. They
were not so anxious that her mother should go, but they insisted very
hard that she should, because they knew she would not; she had her
butter and eggs and chickens to sell, and lots of shopping to do, so
Julia went alone. She came back to the boat towards night to tell her
mother what nice girls the Miss Camptowns were, and that they wanted she
should go with them to the theatre, and then as it would be late, stay
all night. The mother consented, as Mr. Camptown was such a fine young
man. After the play they had an oyster supper and wine, and Julia became
very much elated. Then they went home, to Mr. Camptown's home, which was
no other than that notorious Church street den, and the "sisters" the
most notorious sinners in it. Of course more wine was drank, and Julia
became oblivious of what transpired. She waked to consciousness next
morning to find herself--"a girl lost." Almost delirious, she flew from
the wicked scoundrel at her side to the street door, to find it barred
against her. In vain she begged and prayed, and cried to be let out. The
soul incarcerated in the infernal regions might as well pray for egress.
She finds in both cases only scoffing at the victim's agony. Then she
grew wildly furious, and then they tied her hands and feet and carried
her down into the coal cellar, "to let her get over her fit, and keep
her out of sight till the old woman was out of the way." For three days,
Camptown watched her father and mother, and then they gave up and went
home with heavy hearts, for "a girl was lost." Yes, she was "lost." Then
Camptown went back to enjoy his "country beauty." She was lost to him
also. In some of the pullings down and diggings up in that street, all
that remains to earth will make another "Item" in a daily paper. It
will be headed "Human bones found."

The inmates of that house soon left. It was no longer a lucky house. The
ghost of that murdered girl walked through every room. One in
particular, it never allowed any one to occupy. It is said that that
ghost still haunts that house. It is still an unlucky house. The old
harridan who kept it--well known in that street when that girl was
lost--went off to New Orleans, lost all her property, and then was lost
herself. Camptown still lives. I saw him a few days ago, in the very
street where that girl was lost, noticed in the "Tribune." Has he any
connection with her loss? Reader, there is a girl lost. Ask where and
why? Rum and gambling can answer.

Now, let us leave Agnes in the hands of the wood-sawyer and his wife,
those good-hearted, kind Christians, that despised, because
black-skinned, brother and sister, more worthy than many of the
despisers, and return to Mrs. May, and see how she effected the rescue
of another prisoner.

What Stella told her mother was sufficient to give her the most intense
anxiety about Athalia. She was so well acquainted with the ways of the
wicked in this city, that she felt satisfied that her friend wanted good
counsel, and perhaps assistance, and she determined to give it to one
who had often given such to her. As soon as it was sufficiently dark,
she slipped on a shawl and hood, and went into a neighbor's and borrowed
another just like her own.

"What in the world do you want of it?" said the woman.

"No matter, it shall come safe back to you, in the course of the
evening."

So it did, and with it came Athalia, who, by that double, had eluded her
jailers.

Lovetree went to his hotel in a state of mind not to be envied. He had
found the strongest evidence that his niece had been in a house which
pollutes all who breathe its atmosphere, and he had heard vile women
speak of her as one of themselves, and he knew not how far she was like
them. He had witnessed an exposition of character that night, such as he
never had before conceived possible. He first saw Mrs. Laylor, a
specimen of a high-bred lady,

    Bland as the dewy morn
    That opes the buds to flowers.

Then he saw her furious as the winds,

    By Boreas rudely driven,
    Wild as the storm, when Jove hurls down
    His thunderbolts from Heaven.

He trembled with fear that she would pursue Athalia, and drag her back,
and perhaps hide her where he could never find her. Undoubtedly she
would have exercised her vindictiveness upon Athalia in some way, if she
had known where she was. Lovetree had heard Mrs. Laylor swear that
Athalia had robbed her, and that she would have her punished, and
although he did not believe a word of such a charge, he believed that
vile woman wicked enough to swear away an innocent girl's life.

He was quite mistaken. She was furious at her disappointment and loss of
gain, for gold she worshipped, but after all she would not have done a
thing to put the life or liberty of Athalia in danger of the law. The
restraint she had put upon her, was one of policy, all in the way of her
business. Lying and cheating were a part of her trade; it is of some
others. She had been outwitted by one whom she thought too tame to
resent an injury, or protect herself. Lovetree did not know that like a
furious wind it would soon blow out, or that a portion of her apparent
anger was put on for effect, for one of the other girls was held by a
slender thread, and it was an object to deter her from taking the same
step that Athalia had.

It is a great object--great as it is with the merchant to get new
goods--with all this class of houses to get new girls; those fresh from
the country are objects of great importance; hence the effort to keep
them until their conscience is obliterated from hearts made for virtuous
actions, and then they stay willingly--often, have to beg for the
privilege of staying, for "old goods" in this branch of trade are a
greater drug in the market of seduction, than old dry goods upon the
merchant's shelves. They are more like old meat upon the butcher's
stall; nobody wants to buy, though all may admire its fatness, and
remark how good it had been, but when they examine closely, an odor
cometh up to the nostrils, which giveth offence to the stomach.

Men treat all these poor girls as children treat toys. The fresh and
beautiful are admired, then barely tolerated, then kicked aside to make
room for a fresh set. Hence all the arts that cunning vile women know of
are used to obtain new toys for their customers.

Lovetree slept but little that night. How he did walk up and down the
corridors of the Astor house the next morning, watching every one that
entered, hoping it might be the little pedler girl. She was at home and
asleep. She got home before her mother, and went to bed, so that she
knew nothing of the coming of Mrs. Morgan. All slept late, and Stella's
mother saw her daughter sleeping so sweetly that she could not bear to
wake her for her daily task until breakfast was ready. How delighted she
was to see Mrs. Morgan! "Oh, mother, mother, let me go and tell that
gentleman; I will bring him right here. He will be so glad to see Mrs.
Morgan."

"So glad to see me, Stella, who is it that knows me?"

"He don't know you at all. But when I told him about you, he and that
other gentleman said that they would go right off to Mrs. Laylor's, and
get you away."

"Why, Stella, my daughter, who are you talking about? We do not
understand a word you are saying."

"Don't you, no, you do not; I had forgotten that I had not told you
about those two nice gentlemen that I met at the Astor house last night.
Oh, mother, where did you get those bouquets? As I live there is the
very one that I looked at and talked about with Joseph Butler, last
night. Did you buy them, mother?"

"No, Tom Top brought them here just as we got home, and said that an
old gray-headed gentleman bought them of Joseph, and gave him a shilling
to bring them here, one for me, and one for you."

"Oh, my, that must be him, who else could it be? And then, only think of
it, his name is just like Mrs. Morgan's before she was married."

"What, Lovetree? Is his name Lovetree? How remarkable it would be if he
should turn out to be my uncle from the West."

"So it would. Now I think of it, he does look like you. No, no, I cannot
eat now, I must run and tell him, that you are here, it will make him so
happy."

So it did. There was another happy person that day; ah, two or three of
them, for Mrs. May and Stella were almost as happy as Athalia; when he
came they saw how quickly she recognized him, and how overjoyed he was
to see her, and how he hugged her and kissed her, and then he took
Stella in his arms and kissed her, and told her that she should never go
out peddling again; that he would set her mother up in a little shop,
and Stella should be her clerk, for he felt that he owed all that he now
enjoyed to her, and he owed her mother a great debt for her kind
intention and goodness of heart, in getting Athalia away from that
house; and then he told them all about his visit to Mrs. Laylor's, and
Mrs. May told all about how she worked her plan to get Athalia away; how
she dressed her up and sent her down first, and then she watched until
she saw the other girl in the hall, and then went down herself. Then
Stella said, she must run and see Joseph, she wanted Joseph to tell
that other gentleman; and so she did, and Joseph told "the other
gentleman," when he came by and stopped to give the poor crippled black
man a kind word, which always lighted up a pleasant smile upon his fine
face; and in the evening the two gentlemen, and the two ladies, and the
dear little girl, all sat down in Mrs. May's little parlor, to such a
supper, as, perhaps, never had been set in that room before. This was
one of Mr. Lovetree's whims. It was a thanksgiving supper, he said, for
the prodigal returned, and he wanted to eat it there, all by themselves;
and so he went out and ordered the best of everything that could be
provided sent there, and then as happy a party sat down as ever enjoyed
a supper in New York. Athalia and her uncle had talked all day, and she
had told him all the secrets of her life, and he had forgiven her
everything, and told her that he would love her as long as she would
love him. Then he asked Stella to go out and get him some writing
materials, and then her eyes fairly danced with joy as she ran and got
her own little portfolio, one that she had made herself out of some
colored paper, and asked him if he would use her pen and paper. He did
so, and then wrapped up the little home-made article in a newspaper, and
carried it away with him, without saying a word. Stella thought it very
queer that he should do so, and she almost dropped a tear at the thought
of losing it, for it had cost her a good many hours of busy work to make
it. After awhile a boy brought it back, wrapped in the same paper, but
as it had her name on the outside, she thought she would open it, to
see what he had put in it; "some paper, I dare say, in place of that
which he had used." That was not what she found; she found in place of
her old one, the most beautiful portfolio that could be found in New
York, filled with all sorts of stationery that could be desired.

After supper was over, of course Stella had to get her portfolio, and
show it, and talk about it; and then Mr. Lovetree talked about what he
had written with Stella's pen--it was his will.

"I have made," said he, "Athalia my heir. I adopt her as my daughter,
and shall always treat her as my child. I hope she will always feel
towards me as she would if I were her father in fact. She is an orphan,
and she is----a widow."

"A widow--a widow?"

"Is Walter dead?"

"Is that so, uncle--father?"

"Yes, it is so. When I went to the attorney to see if I had got my will
all right, and when he came to the name of Athalia Morgan, he said, 'Oh,
that is Walter Morgan's widow.' Then, I said, widow, widow, just as you
all did a minute since. And he told me, that was the fact; and a good
thing it was that he was dead, for he got to be a terrible sot. And now,
Athalia is my heir, and my executor. When I am dead she will do what she
pleases with what I leave, and get married again if she likes; she has
promised me that she never will while I live. There is one little clause
in my will that I will read now, for I like to make people happy, and I
am going to make a mother happy, free from anxiety about what her child
will do when she is gone. This is the clause, 'To the owner of the pen
with which I wrote this will, I bequeath five hundred dollars.'"

"Why, what is there in that to cry about? Bless my heart, I thought I
was going to make you all happy, and here you are all shedding tears."

"Oh, uncle, uncle, you have made us happy. These are tears of joy and
gladness. How noble, how generous, how good!"

"Just like him," said the other gentleman.

"This to me! Oh, Mr. Lovetree, this to the poor widow! This to my
daughter!"

"To me, mother, to me? Does it mean me? Yes! Oh, mother, may I kiss
him?"

Before anybody could say no, if they had been disposed to, Stella was in
his arms, and who shall say, that to one of his wealth, that moment was
not cheaply purchased for five hundred dollars. Happiness is contagious.
Those who feel it, feel as though they would like to make everybody else
feel just so. Stella did, for she reached out one hand and drew her
mother to the same enfolding arms, and then Athalia enfolded them all,
until it seemed to my dim-growing eyes that four exceedingly happy
people were blending all in one. Feeling how useless is a fifth wheel to
a vehicle already having four, and feeling too a sort of choking
sensation, as though the air of the street would be beneficial, while
this scene was on, I went off.

When I had breathed the fresh air long enough to recover my equilibrium
of thoughts, one came into my mind that I might do something to
increase the happiness of the full hearts I had just left. With this new
idea in my mind I took my way directly to Mrs. Laylor's. Of course I
found the storm had passed. A May morning could not be more calm and
pleasant. Of course I was a welcome visitor. I had ordered a bottle of
wine the night before, that paid my footing. I had spent money for one
sin, and apparently seemed willing to spend more for another, and that
always makes welcome guests, because profit can be made out of such
visitors. I had an object in my course the night before; I had nothing
of that kind to accomplish to-night, and so I ordered no wine. I looked
serious, earnest, determined, and asked Mrs. Laylor for a private
interview. It is not necessary to inflict the particulars upon my
readers; it will be only interesting to them to know that one of the
results of the talk did add to the happiness of those whom I had just
left already very happy, for just as Lovetree was in the act of kissing
good-night to Athalia, there came a rap to the door, it was a porter's
rap; his load was a trunk, a bandbox and a square bundle. The bundle was
opened first, its contents were now doubly dear, and Athalia longed to
show it to her uncle. It was the old family Bible. Everything had been
sent but the watch. That was irrecoverably lost.

As I was leaving Mrs. Laylor's, with the porter and Athalia's trunk, I
met Frank Barkley and had five minutes talk with him. As we parted, he
said: "Depend upon it I shall claim my bet, and the stake is in the
hands of a friend who will fork over."

The next morning Athalia met with another surprise. The three had just
finished breakfast, and sat talking over the strange events of the last
day or two, congratulating each other upon their singular good fortune,
and laying out plans for the day, while awaiting the momentarily
expected arrival of Mr. Lovetree. Mrs. May and Stella were to go out and
look up a place for the "little shop," which was to hold an assortment
of just such goods as she had been accustomed to sell out of her basket,
to which her mother was to add her nice shirt collars, and perhaps the
work of some other poor woman who might be in need of assistance; and
Athalia and her uncle were to go "house hunting," a very common
employment in New York, for he was going to set her up in a business
that she could live by, and have a house for herself and him too, when
he was in the city, and pretty soon he hoped that would be all the time;
it should be as soon as he could get his Western business settled up;
but she should have a house and take a few boarders, and always keep a
room for him, and he would always call that home; "and we shall be so
happy," says she, "and if he is sick I will take care of him, and if I
am sick I know he will be kind to me, he looks just as though he would;
don't you think so, Mrs. May?"

"Indeed he does; and you will be so happy, but I do not know as you will
be quite so happy as Stella and I shall be, when we get a-going. I am
happy now, only one thing troubles me a little, I do not know what I am
going to do for a little money for present necessities. I had just paid
my month's rent, ten dollars in advance, and bought a piece of linen for
my work, and Stella had laid out all of her little stock, and now we are
quite out. If you had money as you once had, I should know very well
what to do. I should ask you for a loan of five dollars, and I know very
well what you would say; no, you would not say anything, you would jump
up and run to the little drawer, the left-hand top drawer of the bureau,
I can almost see it now, and then you would say, 'there, there it is, go
along, I don't want you to stop to thank me.' But that time has past
away. I suppose I shall have to do what we poor folks often have to do,
go to the pawnbroker again.

"Your trouble, Mrs. May, is just mine too; I want a few dollars so bad
that I do not know what to do, and I was about to ask you; I do not like
to ask my uncle, so soon, and would not on my own account, but will on
yours."

"No, no, no, do not, I can get along very well, I can pawn the linen, I
shall not want that for a few days."

"Yes, I will, do not say anything more, I have made up my mind, and here
he comes, so it is too late for argument."

There was a rap, and as they did not expect anybody else, of course it
must be her uncle; who else should it be? but it was not. It was the
same porter who was there last evening. He did not bring any trunk or
bundle, he simply brought a letter and a very small package; a letter
addressed, "Lucy Smith."

Athalia was on the point of denying it, but then she thought that Mrs.
May and Stella both knew that was the name she was known by at Mrs.
Laylor's. Still she blushed and trembled. She blushed to think that she
had once said of her first name, "I never shall change that." It is a
sad thing for a girl to change that. She trembled at the thought of
having any of her old acquaintances, who knew her by that name, write to
her or speak to her as friends, for they were only friends of days which
she would gladly blot out of memory--days of sin and shame, which she
looked back upon with horror, as she felt their deep degradation. She
trembled still more when she opened the letter, and saw that the
signature was Frank Barkley. She felt faint, and her eyes grew dim, for
she felt that she was still pursued--"the guilty flee when no man
pursueth"--by one with whom she had sinned, and she felt that it was a
renewal of the proposition to sin again. She saw the name, and the "Dear
Lucy" with which it commenced, she saw no more, she could see no more,
and so she handed the letter to Mrs. May, with an "oh, dear!"

Mrs. May read it, and then _she_ said, "Oh, dear," but it was a very
different "Oh, dear," from Athalia's. It was an "Oh, dear, what a
fortune," and then she handed the letter back to Athalia, and said,
"read, you will not find it very bad." Her joyous smile reassured the
fainting, trembling Athalia, and she read:

    "MY DEAR LUCY.

     "Dearer to me now than ever. I have heard from a mutual friend
     all about it. First, forgive me for the wrong I have done you.
     I shall not do it again. Blush not to meet me in the street or
     church, for by no look or word will I ever seek to renew our
     acquaintance. I know you now, I never did before, and I feel
     that I am not worthy to renew that acquaintance. I am a man of
     the world, and enjoy what my own class call pleasures. I have
     enjoyed pleasant hours with you, but I never enjoyed a night
     as I have the last. I have been alone in my room all night. I
     have been thinking. I have thought how much myself and my
     associates have done to swell the class of females whom we look
     upon with contempt, as they pass us in the street. I have found
     that it is good to think. I have thought a great deal of you,
     and of your history, as I gleaned it partly from you and partly
     from Mrs. Laylor, but the last and best part from your friend.
     Believe me when I say that I am most sincerely glad that you
     have escaped from a life which I had persuaded you to adopt. I
     was selfish then. I am sober now.

     "Of course you know I have won my bet. I have got the money. I
     do not need it, you do. It is your due and much more from that
     avaricious woman who deceived you so bitterly. You lost your
     watch. It was partly my fault. If I had not believed the lies
     told of you, it would not have happened, for then in a spirit
     of retaliation, I had not been false to you, nor you to me, and
     you would not have made the acquaintance of the gambler who
     stole your watch. I cannot return that, but I send one in its
     place. I also send you my check for the money won, and the same
     sum which was staked against it. If you are ever in need
     hereafter remember your real, truly sincere friend,

    "FRANK BARKLEY."

She looked up with tearful eyes, and simply said, "Mrs. May, you will
not have to go to the pawnbroker's to-day. Take this check and go to the
bank, or I will write a note to a friend who will cash it in a minute,
it needs no endorsement, it is payable to the bearer, and you shall have
one hundred and I the other. Now let us look at the watch." They did
look at it, and of course admire it, and then Mr. Lovetree came in, and
then the letter was read again, and then he said, "the fellow has got a
heart after all, it has only been spoiled by bad associations; he has
got a good start now in the right path, and I shall make it my business
to look him up and help him along. Do you know, Athalia, where he
lives?"

"I have his card, sir, in my trunk."

"Very well, give it to me at your leisure, and we will let him know that
the pearls of that letter have not been cast before the very worst sort
of pigs."

Then Stella was going out to get the check changed, and then he said,
"Never mind, give it to me," and then he put it in his pocket-book very
carefully, and put that away in his left-hand pocket--he had a place for
everything; and then he put his hand into his right-hand pocket, and
took out fifty dollars in gold, and handed that to Athalia, with the
remark that he would bring her the balance to-morrow, that that was as
much as she would want to-day; and then he said, as he saw her slipping
it slyly into Mrs. May's hand, "Oh, that is it, is it?" and then Mrs.
May said, "she _must_ tell, and then she did tell all about her want of
money, and how she used to go to Athalia when she was in want, and now,
when neither of them had any, it did seem as though the good spirit had
opened the heart of that man to repentance and good works, just when it
was most needed."

And then they all went out, Mrs. May and Stella to hunt for the shop,
which they found and had in operation in a week, and which was the
foundation of a fortune, for it prospered wonderfully. The ball only
needed a start, it would accumulate at every roll. It is accumulating
still. I wish a few more benevolent old gentlemen would take each one of
them a little girl out of the street, and set the ball to rolling.

Good bye, Mrs. May--good bye, Stella. "We may never meet again, but we
never shall forget you, good-hearted little girl, and kind, blessed,
good mother. Thy good works have their reward."

Athalia and her uncle found a house. We have heard of that before, from
Maggie; we shall hear of them again, in some of these shifting "Scenes."

I shall draw the curtain now. It may remain down for one or two or more
years, what does it matter to the reader? It is facts that he wants, he
cares nothing for time, or which scene comes first. If the reader is a
woman, she cares neither for time nor facts, so that the story is good.

What next?

Look in the next chapter.



CHAPTER XIV.

NEW SCENES AND NEW CHARACTERS.

     "There is some soul of goodness in things evil, Would man
     observingly distil it out."


That was well exemplified in the last chapter. It may be in this. If any
of the readers of these "Scenes" suppose the writer lost sight of the
chance to do good, and the right time to do it, that the death of
"Little Katy," offered, they are quite mistaken. Although he may not be
able to do with his own purse, he has a way of procuring others to do a
part that is so much needed to be done. He found that Katy had an aunt
in the city, who was able to do for her sister, and he took the
preliminary steps to restore the poor, lost sheep to the fold from which
she had strayed. That he should have lost sight of her for a little
while, in the busy whirl of city life, is not surprising. That the
reader has been left in suspense, while he has had many other scenes
before him, the author hopes he will not regret. We do not travel old,
beaten paths, in this volume.

As the subject is new, so is the way of illustrating it. Now, let us
walk on.

"There has been a black woman here twice this evening after you, and she
says, she must have the sight of ye afore she sleeps, any how."

This was a piece of Irish information, which met me as I opened the
door, one night, in rather a melancholy mood, for I was as yet
supperless, tired, sleepy, and about half sick, from breathing fetid air
four or five hours, while visiting the poorest of the city poor, the
denizens of Cow Bay.

Now, it must not be understood that Mrs. McTravers intended to tell me
that the Ethiopian female, who had twice called at my abode, and
declared that "she must have the sight of me before she slept," had the
least desire to gouge out my eyes. On the contrary, she was only anxious
to have a sight of the ugly visage I own, and come within speaking
distance of me.

"What for? What did she want, Mrs. McTravers?"

"Sure, your honor, it's not the likes of me knows what a lady wants with
a lone gentleman at this time o'night."

If I did not swear, I had some very hard thoughts at the blundering
awkwardness of this woman, or her entire inability to convey ideas by
language, so that I could understand them "at this time of night."

She proceeded to give a most minute description of "the black woman,"
how she looked, and talked, and dressed.

Who could it be? I run over in my mind all of my African female
acquaintances--not large--but not one of them answered the description
given by Mrs. McTravers.

I was about proceeding up stairs, when she said, "ye'll surely go and
see the sick lady." I had a slight internal intimation that I was nearly
losing my patience.

"Mrs. McTravers, what is it about a sick lady? You have not told me a
word about anybody, sick or well, except a negro woman, and you have not
told me what she wanted."

"And sure, then, I thought you knew all about it. The wench said you
knew the lady."

"I know a good many, but how can I tell which one of my acquaintances
this may be?"

"Why sure, then I thought you would know when I told you where she
lived."

"In the name of common sense, Mrs. McTravers, if you know who the sick
woman is, or where she lives, or what she wants, why don't you tell me?"

"Wasn't I going to, only you put me into such a flusteration? There,
sure, that'll tell you all about it."

And she handed me a piece of paper, on which was written, in a very
delicate lady hand, though evidently nervous, "Madame De Vrai, 53
W--street."

I am sure I must have looked like a living specimen of confusion worse
confounded. The name I had never heard before. The street was an unknown
locality. I only knew it was a street on the west side of the city,
somewhere, and whether it had such a number as "53," was entirely too
much for my arithmetic. I determined not to go. Still there was a
mystery, that natural curiosity prompted me to solve. Who could it be?
"Did the black woman say that I was acquainted with the lady?"

"She did that, and that you had been very kind to her. God bless you for
that same, for being so to a stranger and a foreigner too at that. The
black woman said you was a blessed good man to the poor lady, and a
father to her childer, dead and alive."

Was anything ever so provoking as the stolidity of an Irish servant.
Every word she uttered made the mystery still darker. I knew no Madame
De Vrai; never heard of the name before in my life--took no credit to
myself for any special act of kindness to the poor in general, and
certainly could not call to mind any act of my life that would warrant
me in appropriating the blessing so heartily offered for my acceptance.
As to being the father of the poor woman's "childer, dead and alive," I
declared emphatically that it was just no such thing. I would not own
them. So I called for something to eat, and determined to go to bed,
fully satisfied that African blunders and Irish ditto, duly mixed, had
made one this time too large for my mastery, either with my very common
name, or by a mistake in the street or number; or else somebody else had
undertaken to father this family, and now desired to shift the
responsibility; certainly I had not, could not, would not father them.
So I sat munching and musing over my bread and butter and cold water, of
the scenes of the evening which I had witnessed.

"Would to Heaven I knew what had become of her," I thought aloud.

"Who?" said a kind voice at my elbow. "What lady are you so anxious
about now. Any of your Five Point protégés?"

"Yes. You have guessed it exactly. None other."

"Is that what you have been looking for to-night. Do tell me of your
visit. What have you seen?"

"More of human misery than I ever saw before in one night. Would you
like to hear the detail?"

"Yes, it may do me good to hear how others live, and if worse than I do,
it may make me more contented with my own lot."

"Worse than you do? Why, madam, have you not all that is necessary to
make life comfortable around you. A neat, airy, well-furnished house,
plenty of room, plenty to eat, good bed to sleep on, good baths for
evening ablution or morning renovation, and above all the other luxuries
of city life, plenty of that greatest of New York's blessings, the
Croton water? Now listen how and where others live. In a close, dirty,
pent up court, are piles of old bricks and frame houses, perfect rat
harbors, filled with human beings, men, women, children, from cellar
bottom to garret peak, poor beyond the power of imagination, dirty to a
degree that is sickening to behold, criminal through necessity----"

"No, not necessity. Nobody is necessitated to be criminal."

"You are simply mistaken. I repeat, criminal by necessity. So educated
from childhood, that they know of no way to live, but by the beggar's
trade, or pilferer's, or prostitute's crime. Such are the parents, such
must be the children. There is no hope otherwise. They are sent out in
infancy to beg, and early taught to 'pick up things;' the place of
education is the street, the watch house, or city prison."

"Why don't their parents send them to school?"

"Why should they? They never went to such a place themselves, and care
not that their children should go. They care for nothing but rum, and
that the builders of prisons, and hangers of murderers, take care they
shall have the means of getting. The imprisonment and hanging, is the
sequence of the license system."

"But you were to tell us what you saw this evening."

"Human misery. The houses of the city poor. The locality is Cow Bay. It
opens upon Anthony street at the North West angle of the Five Points."

The first _home_ we entered was a cellar room twelve by twenty feet,
quite below the surface, and only just high enough to stand up under the
beams of the floor over head, while at every step the water oozed up
through the boards we trod upon. At one end was the narrow, muddy
stairway and door, by which we entered, and at the other a fire-place.

On one side two windows with places for three panes of glass to each,
gave all the light and ventilation afforded to the four families who
occupied the room. These consisted of two men and their wives, two
single women, an old woman and her three boys, and a young girl as a
boarder. There were four sleeping places, called beds, upon forms,
elevated above the floor, for none could sleep on that on account of the
water.

"Do you always have the water as bad as it is now?" I inquired.

"Bad is it? An I wish then you could see it after a big rain, when the
water is over the floor entirely fornent the the door."

"Have these women husbands?"

"These two with the young children have."

"What do they do for a living?"

"One of them jobs about--but he is on the Island now."

"What for?"

"Just nothing at all, yer honor, he is as kind a husband as ever lived,
only when he takes a drop too much once in a while."

"Hould your tongue now, Ellen Maguire, you know your husband is drunk
every time he can get liquor, and that is as often as he can coax
anybody that has got money into that dirty hole at the corner--Cale
Jones's grocery. He is a burner, sir?"

"A burner. What is that?"

"He asks some one to go and take a drink with him, and then tells him to
call for what he likes, and so he drinks and drinks, thinking all the
time it is a treat, till he gets ready to go, and then the fellow who
keeps the shop stops him and makes him pay for all the liquor the
company have drank."

"Don't he refuse?"

"What's the use? He is burnt, and must stand it. If he refuse, they will
take his coat, or hat, or shoes. If he gets off with his breeches on he
is lucky."

"What does this woman's husband do to support his family?"

"Deil a bit can I tell. It is not for me to pry into peoples' business
who pay the rint like honest folks."

"The rent. How much rent do you pay for this room?"

"Fifty cents a week for each of us--that is two dollars in all, every
Monday morning in advance; sure, you may well believe that, if you know
Billy Crown, the agent. It's never a poor woman that he lets slip; if
she was dying, and never a mouthful of bread or drop of anything in the
house, the rint must be paid."

"Well, these women what do they do?"

"What should a lone woman do? she must live. There is but one way."

"Have you a husband?"

"The Lord be thanked, no. It is enough for me to live with me boys. What
would I do if I had a drunken husband to support out of me arnings?"

Sure enough. What should any woman want of a drunken husband? Let us
look above ground. Perchance misery only dwells in dark, low, damp
cellars. Up, then, to the very garret of the same house. It is divided
into three rooms, one is ten feet square with one window, without
fire-place or stove. What may be inside we know not, for a strong hasp
and padlock guard the treasure. Back of this, through a two feet wide
passage, is another room, eight feet by twelve. This is partly under the
roof, has a dilapidated fire-place and broken window. This is inhabited
by a black man and his wife. There is a bed, a table, dishes and two
chairs, and an air of neatness, contrasting strongly with the cellar.

By the side of this is another room inhabited by a negro and his white
wife, and a white man and wife. Did you ever see four uglier beasts in
one cage? The white man is a hyena; his wife a tiger; the negro a
hippopotamus; his wife a sort of human tortoise; the dirt, representing
the shell, out of which the vicious head poked itself, glaring at the
intruders upon her premises, with a look that plainly said, Oh, how I
should like to bite and claw you, and strip off those clean clothes, and
spoil that face, and put out those eyes, and make ye as dirty and ugly
and miserable as I am. The black man was social, courteous and
intelligent. He was a cobbler, and diligently plied his hammer and awl.
With a kind master and well cared for, he would be a faithful, good
servant. He has no faculty to take care of himself. By nature the slave
of one of nature's strongest passions, he has sunk down into slavery to
this hard-shell woman, and the tool of his designing hyena and tiger
room-mates. The white man looked as if he were counting the contents of
our pockets, and what chance there would be for a grab at our watches.

The shape of this room was peculiar. Take a large watermelon, cut it in
quarters, cut one of those across--the flesh sides will represent the
floor and one wall--the cross-cut the end, where there is a
fire-place--the rind is the roof and other side of the room, through
which at the butt end, there is a window. There is no bedstead, or place
for one. There is no table, or occasion for any. Two boxes and a stool
serve for chairs. The bedding is very scarce, but the floor is of soft
wood, and the weather is warm. Each of these rooms rents for three
dollars a month, always in advance.

Now let us go down the rotten stairway to the next floor. Though what we
have seen is bad, we may yet say:

      "The worst is not
    So long as we can say, 'this is the worst.'"

What have we here?

Something worse. Yes, for coupled with poverty and crime, is fanatical
hatred of everything that is not worse than itself. Let us rap at this
door. A gruff woman's voice bids us enter. We are met by an insolent
defiant scowl and an angry "what do you want here?"

"Good woman, is some one sick here?"

"Yes. What of that. Nobody wants the like of you, with your pious faces
and 'good woman,' prowling about at this time of night. You're after
nothing good, any one might swear that."

"Perhaps we can give you some good advice for your sick child."

"Give your advice when we ask it. Haven't we got Father Mullany to give
us advice, and he a good doctor too. I tell you we don't want any
miserable heretics in the house and me child a dying. And who have I to
thank for it?"

"Surely, madam, we cannot tell. Perhaps you can, or your husband, where
is he?"

If a dog were thrown among the whelps in a wolf's lair, it would not
arouse the dam quicker than these words did this human she-wolf. She
sprang towards us, foaming with rage. A stout cane in my strong right
hand caught her eye, and she stood at bay.

"What was she so mad at you and your companion for? Did she know either
of you?"

"She knew us by sight, or rather she knew him as one of the active
helpers of the Missionary, Mr. Pease, the House of Industry, and the
Five Points Mission. What more should she know to hate us? She knew we
were not of her faith; that we believed not in the efficacy of holy
water and confession, to work out sin; that we did not kneel and receive
a consecrated wafer with 'extreme unction', and so she hated us with all
the fervent rancor of religious hate. She hated us for our mission of
good; for she knew we hated what she dearly loved--drunkenness and all
its concomitant evils. She hated us with that envious hate of depravity,
which would sink everything to its own level. She knew that we would
take her dying child to a clean bed and airy room, and give it food and
medicine, and nurse it into life, and she hated us for that."

"How could she? How could a mother be so wicked to her poor sick child?
I am sure if I could not take care of mine, I would trust it with
anybody who would save its life." Thus will say more than one Christian
mother.

Think--be careful--be not uncharitable--good mother. Would you let it go
with those who saved its life to be reared with them--taught their
creed--perhaps to hate yours? Certainly if taught the principles of
temperance--virtue--neatness--her child could not love its drunken
mother, in her rags and dirt and life of sin.

"But then the child would be brought up by religious teachers, and
taught to be a Christian."

Yes, a Protestant Christian; she is a good Catholic. Would you willingly
give up your child if it were to be reared a Pagan, a Mahometan, or even
a Jew?

"No! I would let it die."

There spoke the Five Points mother. Sooner than it should go into a
Protestant house, she would see it die.

Alas! poor human nature; yes, poor human nature, sunk down into those
depths of misery and degradation, yet every one of them are our brothers
and sisters, who are rearing up children like themselves, as true as
like produces like, while we look on, shrug our comfortably-wrapped
shoulders, and "Thank God we are not like one of these," and yet never
give, out of our abundance, one cent to make one of them like one of us.

"Well, what of her husband?"

"My husband, is it?" she said, as she stood glaring at us; "my husband?
Go, look in your city prison, you old gray-headed villains, where ye or
the likes of ye, murdered him without judge or jury. Did you try him for
his life? No. Had he been a murderer? No. Had he done any crime? No. You
licensed him to sell liquor, and he drank too much--I drank too
much--what else can you expect, when you set fools to play with live
coals, but they will burn themselves? What next? What is the natural
consequence of getting drunk? A quarrel. I know it. Don't ask me what I
get drunk for; I know you did not speak, but I saw it in your eye--yes,
your eye--turn it away--I cannot bear it, it looks right into my soul.
Don't look at me that way, or I shall cry, and I had rather die than do
that. It would kill me to cry for such as you, who murdered my poor
husband. You licensed him to sell rum, in the first place, to make other
wives miserable with drunken husbands--mine was not drunken then, and I
did not have to live in such a hole as this--look around you, ye
murdering villains. What do you see?--poverty, filth, and rags;
starvation, misery, crime--on that bed is my dying boy--that is nothing.
Let him die, I am glad of it--the priest has made it all right with him.
Now, look in that bed, rum-selling, licensing whelps that you are--that
is worse than the dying boy in the other--see what we have bought with
our money paid to your excise office. See what a mother is sunk to by
rum. Yes, I do drink it--why do your eyes ask the question? I do drink,
and will again. What else have I got to live for? What lower hole can I
sink to? Me, a mother. A mother! Mother of that shameless girl, do you
see her, there in that bed, before her mother's eyes?"

"Yes, and a pretty looking, bright-eyed girl she is."

"Bright-eyed. Yes, bright-eyed. I would to Heaven she had none--that she
had been born blind. Her bright eyes have been her ruin--a curse to her
and the mother that bore her--they are a curse to any poor girl among
such villains as you are. Ye are men--how many hearts have you
broken?--withered, trampled on?--there, go, go. I hate the sight of all
men."

"Who is this man I see with your daughter; is he her husband?"

"Husband! husband! Do the like of her get husbands? Where is my
husband?"

"We cannot tell, can you?"

"Tell! who can tell where a man is that died drunk--died--murdered in
your man-killing city prison, and the priest not there to give him
absolution. What had he done? What crime? Drank rum that you licensed
him to sell--beat me because I drank too. What next? Next come your
dirty police--the biggest scoundrels in the city--mad at my husband
because he would not 'touch their palms,' and drag him to the Tombs--a
right name--good name--true name--Tombs indeed--a tomb to my husband."

"Did he die there?"

"No! he was murdered there. Look here. Can you read? Yes, yes, I know ye
can. So can I. Do you see that account of prisoners dying by
suffocation--poisoned by carbonic acid gas--there, read it,"--and she
thrust a crumpled paper before us--"read how ye reform drunkards--shut
them up in prison cells, and in spite of their prayers, and groans, and
dying cries for air, ye let them die. Are ye not murderers? Do you see
that name? That is--that was my husband. Ha, ha, ha! Now, what is he,
where is he? Don't answer--I know your answer; but if he is in hell, who
sent him there? Who, who, who?"

And she sank down upon one of the pallets which were spread over the
floor, in a paroxysm of wild, delirious grief and rage, speechless as
her dying boy, lying unheeded and unheeding, by her side. What could we
do? Nothing here; much elsewhere; and we looked up and registered a vow,
that much as she hated us for what we had not done, yet had permitted
our fellows to do without crying out against them, that she should be
avenged. If we could do nothing here--if we could not pull down the
sturdy oak by taking hold of its topmost branches, yet, although its
mighty strength defies our weak efforts thus applied, we can and will
dig around its roots--we will take away the life-sustaining earth--and
that strong tree shall be made to feel our power--it shall wither, dry
up, and die, and time shall rot down its strong trunk, and the place
that once knew it, shall know it no more.

This then is our pledge, made over that dying boy, and, worse than by
murder, widowed mother, and here now we redeem it. Here we expose the
hydra-headed monster--the orphan and widow-maker--the property, health,
and virtue-destroyer. Sad, harrowing as these scenes of wretchedness and
misery are, they must be laid open to the gaze of the world. "Wounds
must be seen to be healed." Weak nerves tremble at the idea that
physicians cut and carve the dead, talking, aye laughing, as freely over
the quiet heart and still nerves in the dissecting-room, as the butcher
over his beef upon the market house block; yet without the dissecting of
one and butchering of the other, how should the maimed be healed, or
meat-eating multitude be fed? So let us on with our panorama of scenes
from life in New York.

[Illustration: OLD PLATO COOKING HOT CORN.--_Page 321._]

Let us open this door. Ah! we have been here before.

The room is seven by twelve feet, under the roof, which comes down at
one end within a foot of the floor. There is a broken, dirty, window in
the roof, at the right hand of the door as we enter on the side. No
fire-place or stove, no table, only two broken chairs--a very old
bureau--a dilapidated trunk--a band-box--a few articles of female
apparel--some poor dishes and a few cooking utensils--used upon a little
portable furnace standing in the room--a poor old bedstead and straw bed
in one corner--a child's cot and a doll; and yet the only occupant of
the room is an old negro man, who sits of nights upon cold stones,
crying Hot Corn. We look about wonderingly, peering in here and there,
but except the old man we see no one.

"She gone, massa, clean gone--cry old eyes out when I come home next day
arter dat one, you know massa, which one dis child mean--sad day--don't
like to mention him, massa--give me chaw terbacca, massa--come home and
find her and little sis--nice child dat--"

"You found her."

"No sir, found her gone--done gone entirely--key in old place where I
knew where to find him--everything all here--no word for old Plato--what
I give to see her once more--to see little Sissee--Oh that I knew where
she was. Oh, oh, oh."

"And would to Heaven we could tell what has become of her."

"Who?" said the lady who had been listening with intense interest to my
narrative.

"True, I had forgotten to tell you that we stood in the chamber where
little Katy died. Where that last sweet kiss of an angel was
given--where the candle seemed to the dying innocent to go out--where
she said, 'Good bye--mother--don't drink--any more--good b--' but before
the word was finished, there was another angel added to the heavenly
host around the throne of God."

It was here that the scene, which the artist has so touchingly
illustrated upon the opposite page, transpired. Turn your thoughts a
moment from this page to that and look upon the picture. Turn back to
Chapter VI., "The Home of Little Katy," and read over the story of the
death of that poor innocent, and you will better appreciate the
description and illustration of that home and that dying scene.

'Twas then and there that that fallen mother was touched by a power
greater than human strength--'twas then as she knelt over her dead
child, she had said, "never, never, never, will I touch that accursed
poison cup. Oh, God," she prayed, "take my child, my wronged and
murdered child, and I will not repine; I will thank thee; I will praise
thy name as my mother taught me to praise thee; as she loved and
blessed, and prayed for me all her life, even after my fall, although
hastened to her grave by my sin. Oh, my mother, forgive me; oh, my
child, forgive me; oh, my God, forgive me, but let me live to repent,
and be a mother and a blessing to my living child. Oh, my sister, where
are you, cold and unforgiving sister, but for you I had not been
here--why could you not forgive. Oh, God, canst thou?"

What was that still small voice that seemed to say in our ears, as she
ceased speaking, and lay sobbing upon the breast of little Katy?

"Yes, sister, he can, he will, he has; rise, thy sins are forgiven
thee."

Did she hear it too? Else, why did she instantly rise up, with dry eyes
and calm, almost happy features?

It was then that I gained from her the secret of her sister's name, upon
a promise that I did not keep--I could not keep--it was not my duty to
keep it. But where has she gone? Has her sister got my letter?--has her
heart at last been touched?--has she taken her away? If so, why has she
not told me where? Long days and nights of anxiety have come and gone,
and she comes not back to her home. Has despair worked its wonted
result, and does the ocean wave roll over the mother and her child, in a
suicide's watery grave?

"What would I give to know?"

"You must wait," said our sympathizing friend.

Yes, we must wait. Yet "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick."

"Have you been to see the woman who sent for you to-day?"

"No! It is nobody that I know. Some mistake."

Yes, it was some mistake.

"But she sent her name by the black woman, when she came the second
time."

"I know it, but it is no one that I know. The name is utterly unknown to
me. It is a French name. Some mistake." There was a mistake.

What prompted me to look again at the name? I knew it as well as I
should if I looked at that paper a hundred times. Yet I was prompted to
look at it once more. The desire was irresistible. Who has ever felt a
longing after something unseen, unknown, unheard, undefined, something
that he feels as though he must have or die, yet knows not how to
obtain, may realize the intensity of my desire to see that paper once
more. Where is it? This pocket, and that is searched, turned wrong side
out, and turned back again; the table, floor, books, papers, hunted
over, but nowhere can it be found. What has spirited it away? It could
not blow out of the window, for there is no air stirring.

"It must," said the lady, "have gone down on the tea-tray--I will call
Bridget."

A woman is worth a dozen men for thought, and this time she thought
truly. It had gone down that way, and gone into the slop-bucket, and
into the street.

"Bridget, will you take a lamp and go out and see if you can find it."

"Yes, sir, certainly, and I think I can."

Blessed hope. My friend was curious to know, what in the world I wanted
of that piece of paper? "You say, you remember the name and number
perfectly, and yet you act as though it was of the utmost value. I
recollect seeing you once when you had lost a twenty dollar bill, as
cool and careless as though it had been as worthless as this little
scrap of paper. Now you act strangely, what can it mean?"

"I don't know--I know I want to see that paper. I cannot tell why."

"Well, you will soon be gratified. She has found it. Do wait, don't be
so impatient to meet her at the foot of the stairs."

I did not wait though. I gave one glance at the soiled scrap--it was
enough--the pen and ink name had faded out, but there were three
words--talismanic words--in pencil marks, evidently added as an
after-thought by her who had first written her name in ink--words which
sent me out of the door, and half way to the next street, before that
voice, sent after me from the stair-head, of "Do stop him, Bridget, he
is crazy, to go out in this rain," had reached my ears. It did not stop
me--I was gone beyond the reach of her voice. The girl stood amazed. She
looked at the scrap of paper with about the same degree of astonishment
as did the savage tribe at the white man's paper talk.

"Bring it to me, Bridget."

"He is gone, ma'am."

"Yes, yes, I know he is gone, bring it to me."

"I can't ma'am, he is gone."

"Not him, Bridget, the paper, the paper. I want to see what is on it,
that has driven that man out at this hour, in such a rainy night."

The girl looked at the door just closed, shutting the man out in the
rain, then she examined the corner where the cane and umbrella usually
stood, to be sure they had gone out too, that she had not been dreaming
all the while; then she gave a glance at the table to satisfy herself
that the hat had gone with the cane and umbrella; then she looked again
at the paper, to see what magic power that might possess, to do such
midnight deeds. Papers have great power. Poor Bridget, she could not
read, but she could feel, and she knew that there was a cause--the
effect she had seen.

"Bridget, what is the matter? are you frightened to death?"

"Yes, ma'am. No, ma'am--only speechless. Did you ever see the like? that
that little dirty scrap of paper, I picked out of the gutter, should
send the gentleman out of the house faster than I ever saw him go before
in the year and a half I have been with you. What does it mean? Will you
please to tell me, what these little marks mean? What does it read?
There now, you can see them good. Please, read them to me, ma'am."

"Little Katy's Mother."

"Is that all?"

"Yes, and quite enough. I wonder not he went so quickly. I almost fancy
I can--

    'By the lamp dimly burning, or the pale moonlight--
    See where he goes--'

almost past whole house fronts at a single stride. If a cart is in the
way at the crossing he will not go around--two steps and he is over. If
there is a bell at the door, take care, or the wires will crack. If a
knocker, it will thunder loud this night. Woe to the watchman, who,
thinking he may be a runaway burglar, puts out a hand to stop him in his
walk. The bull, that butted the locomotive, made equal speed in his
intent. He went down--the steam went on."

"Is he mad, ma'am?"

"No, Bridget, only enthusiastic. If he is mad,

    'There is method in his madness,'

he is only very much interested about a woman."

"Oh, yes, ma'am, I understand it now. I have seen gentlemen often mad
after women. I suppose little Katy, then, is his child."

"Oh, no, Bridget, you are all wrong. She is not his child."

"Oh, well, ma'am, then, I suppose, she is somebody's else child. And if
her mother is an interesting woman, I don't see as there is anything so
very wrong about the matter. What am I all wrong about, ma'am?"

"Little Katy is dead."

"Oh, is she? I am sure then I am very sorry. Can I do anything about
helping to get her ready to be buried?"

"No, she was buried long ago. You may see her grave some day in
Greenwood Cemetery."

"I don't see, then, what was the gentleman's great hurry, if nobody is
sick and nobody to be buried."

"Perhaps the mother is sick--perhaps in want--perhaps some unknown
power has drawn him to her assistance. I have seen stranger things than
that. This is a strange world."

"Indeed it is, ma'am. And there is a strange noise in the street." And
she looked from the window.

"What can it be, Bridget, there is a crowd around our area fence, and
see, there is a woman under the steps by the basement door. Go down and
see what is the matter. Are you afraid? Well then, I will go with you;
it is somebody that a parcel of brutal men and boys are persecuting. No
matter who, or what she is, she is a woman, and should be protected."

So down they went and she said to them, "Oh men, men, where is your
manhood, thus to hunt a woman through the streets? Have you forgotten
that mothers bore you in pain into this world? Have you no daughters, no
sisters, are you savages--wolves--is this a lamb or stricken deer, that
ye trail by her bloody track?"

"No, ma'am," said a bull pup looking boy, "she is drunk, and we is just
having a little fun with her, that is all."

God of mercy! Didst thou make man in thine own image, and yet leave him
void of that heavenly attribute--mercy! Why, "a merciful man is merciful
to his beast," and yet these images of their Maker hunt this poor woman
through the streets of a Christian city, as savages hunt tigers through
the jungles of Africa--for fun. What for? "She is drunk." A potent
reason, surely. Who made her so? How came she drunk? Who is she, what is
she? No matter, she is a woman, in distress at a woman's door, and she
must, she shall be protected. There is a commotion in the crowd. The
human blood-hounds are about to lose their prey--They want more _fun_.

"Bring her out Bill, never mind the women--it is none of their
business--bring her out and let us see her run again. She is a real
'2.40' nag."

And they shouted and screamed like so many wild Indians.

What but savages are they? True they had white skins and Christian
clothes, and spoke the language of a civilized nation, and dwelt in "one
of the first cities in the world." Yet they pursued a poor, young,
helpless female, like a hunted hare through the streets, and now press
hard upon her two protectors; one a delicate, sickly lady, the other a
timid servant girl, with a cry to Bill, the leader, to "bring her
out"--to drag her by force from where she has sunk down upon the very
threshold of a house which she hopes may offer her protection, yet she
dares not ask it. Shame has overcome her, she buries her face in her
hands as she sits crouched up in a corner, but neither looks up nor
speaks. The crowd press forward, the servant shrinks back, the lady
stands firm, with a determination to protect or perish.

Can she do it? What can a woman without strength, do against a pack of
loosened blood-hounds, already licking their chops with delight at the
sight of their prey?

"Drag her out, some of ye, down there, why don't ye," screamed a human
tiger, in the rear of the crowd; "don't mind that woman, she is no
better than the gal. Let me in and I'll bring her."

A strong hand is laid upon the poor girl's arm, and for the first time
she looks up, but ventures not a word. The look was enough. It appealed
to a woman's heart for protection--an appeal that never failed. How can
she protect the helpless with her feeble strength, against the brutal
force of rum crazed men and vicious boys, who shout, "drag her out, drag
her out."

Will they do it? They heed not the appealing look of their victim--their
object of sport--_fun_--fun for them, death to her. They heed not the
appealing words of her who would protect. God help you, poor soul, you
have drank wine--you are drunk in the streets at midnight--you have none
but those who are as weak as yourself, to save you, poor, timid,
stricken fawn.

"Drag her out, drag her out." How it rung in her ears! How those
terrible words went down into her soul!

Succor is at hand.

There was a shout, a yell, a horrid scream of anguish, a few hurried
oaths, a pushing, shoving, care-for-self-only struggle among the crowd,
as a shower of smoking water fell among them, and they were gone.

The lady turned her eyes, and there stood Mrs. McTravers, in her night
cap, pail in hand, her effective engine of war.

"Oh, Mrs. McTravers, how could you scald them?"

"Didn't they deserve it, the brutes?"

"Yes, yes; no, not so bad as that. I am afraid you have put out their
eyes."

"Oh, never fear that. Didn't I timper it, like 'the wind to the shorn
lamb,' just warm enough to wash the faces of the dirty spalpeens, and
give them a good fright? How the cowards did run. What were they afraid
of? I had spent all my ammunition in the first volley. This is nothing
but cold water, and that never hurt anybody. It is a pity the scurvy
dogs did not use more of it every day, and nothing else. They would
never chase poor girls through the streets, if they drank nothing but
water."

"Come, young woman, you can get up now and go home, if you have any to
go to, and if you have not, what are you going to do with yourself?"

"Why, Mrs. McTravers, we will take her in and put her to bed, and let
her sleep till morning."

"Take her in? What, take a common street-walker in to disgrace your
house?"

"Indeed, my dear, good, kind lady," said the object of their
conversation, now for the first time speaking. "I am no street-walker--I
am not what you take me for. Do not--pray do not, force me to go into
the street again to-night. Let me lay here on the door-sill till
daylight."

"Never! It shall never be said I refused to give shelter to one of my
own sex in distress, no matter what she is or has been. Mrs. McTravers,
she must have a bed in the house to-night."

"I should like to know then where you will find it. Every bed in the
house is full."

"I will give her mine then, and sleep myself on the floor."

"No, no, no, let me sleep on the floor--on the hearth--on the stones
in the back-yard, rather than go in the street again, but I won't sleep
in your bed."

"Well, well, come with me to my room. I will make you a bed on the
floor, and you shall sleep there."

"Sure, sure, Heaven will bless you; and if you knew all you would
forgive me, for I am not so bad as you think I am, or as that woman
thinks I am."

"Oh, never mind what she says, she has a good heart after all. Come,
come along with me."

"Did you ever see the like of it. She is going to take that thing to her
room, a miserable tramper; I dare say the house will be robbed before
morning. I will pick up the spoons, and lock all the closets, before I
go to bed again. Dear me, did anybody ever see such a woman as that? She
never sees a woman in rags, but she wants to pull off her shawl, and
give her. I dare say, she won't let this girl out of the house to-morrow
till she has all her draggled clothes washed and fixed up, and may be
then will send for a carriage to take her away. It is a great plague to
anybody to have such a tender heart. It is all the time getting them
into trouble.

"There, now I believe the silver is all safe, but mercy knows what will
become of this night's adventure. So much for getting drunk. What does
anybody want to get drunk for? There was McTravers, the brute, always
getting drunk. I am sure, I love a little bitters to clear my throat in
the morning, and a glass or two of wine at dinner, and a little hot
stuff as I am going to bed, but as for getting drunk--bah--I hate
anybody that gets drunk. Oh, dear, this night air, I wish I had not
wasted all the hot water on the drunken dogs, for I do feel as though I
wanted a dram now, and no more water--what will I do? I must take a
little cold, or I shall not sleep a wink to-night. Bah, how I hate
drunkards."

What for, Mrs. McTravers, why should you hate your own manufacture?

Let the reader reflect; there is a night before him.

When the curtain rises, we shall see what the author saw last night.



CHAPTER XV.

LITTLE KATY'S MOTHER.

    "A true devoted pilgrim is not weary,
    To measure kingdoms with his steps."


When Mrs. McTravers told me that Mrs. De Vrai had sent a message for me,
I was too weary to measure steps along a few blocks; but when I read
those three little magic words, weariness had gone. Bridget thought so
too. "He is gone, ma'am." Yes, he was gone, gone abroad at midnight with
a merry heart.

    "A merry heart goes all day,
    Your sad one tires in a mile."

A mile was soon told, and I felt no tiring. Up this step and that,
peering at the blind numbers on the doors; how could I tell one from the
other? The almanac said there should be moonshine at this hour, the
clouds and rain put in their veto. No matter, the almanac had said it,
and that was enough for the gas contractors. If the moon chose to get
behind a cloud, it was none of their look out. They would not light
their lamps, though darkness, thick, black darkness, spread over the
earth. Why should they? It was not in the bond. So the traveller plodded
on in the dark. How could one see the numbers? Not by city light, but
by city license. Here burns a "coffee-house" lamp, where rum alone is
sold. More improvident than his city fathers, this one lights up his
lamp, of dark, rainy nights, whether the moon is in the almanac, or city
fathers' brains. His number is plain enough. 'Tis an even number--I am
on the wrong side of the street. Now, cross over, and here is, 47, 49,
51, 53--this must be it, and yet it cannot be. It is a neat, two story,
brick house, with basement and attic, in a row of the same sort, in a
clean, wide street.

It is a very unlikely place for such a home as we have seen, for the
home of Little Katy's mother.

How, are we deceived again? It must be in the number; perhaps we can not
see it rightly by the dim glimmer of the grog-shop lamp. It is the first
glimmer that ever came from such a place to any good.

There is no bell, but there is an old-fashioned iron knocker upon the
door; shall I use it; what if it wakes up some strange sleeper and
brings a fever-heated night-capped angry head out of the upper window,
with hasty words, perhaps cross ones of "who is there?" I have no
familiar "it's me," to answer. No one will say, "wait a moment, dear,
and I will open the door."

All is still within. It were a pity to disturb the quiet sleepers for
nothing, nothing but the gratification of idle curiosity; to make the
inquiry if--if--Mrs. Mrs.--what was her name? Now that is gone--faded
from my memory as easily as it was washed away from that paper. Whom
could I inquire for? Should I inquire for "Little Katy's Mother?" I
should in all probability be told to go across the street and inquire
there, where I got my liquor, upon which to get drunk. Or else, perhaps,
to go home and inquire if my "mother knew that I was out;" or told that
she might happen to wake up, and find her green gosling of a son
gone--gone out in the street to inquire after little girls' mothers--no
doubt she would be much alarmed. It was well that the moon was veiled,
or else the man in it would have seen how sheepish I looked as I sneaked
down the steps, with a weary step, that could not have gone the half a
mile without tiring.

How I did rejoice that no watchman was in sight to see how crest-fallen
I went away and stood up in the shade of a lamp post! A few minutes
afterwards, I would have given gold for the sight of a brass star.

What for? Why did I not go home? What prompted me to keep watch at that
lamp post? My object in coming had failed. I had acted upon the
momentary spur of a nervous temperament, heated into a state of
excitement by what I had seen in the early part of the evening,
connected with some of the scenes of the last few weeks' exciting life,
which had driven me, without consideration, to start off chasing an
ignis fatuus, in the swampy, Jack o'lantern producing air of this city,
and it had led me here and left me leaning against a lamp post. Was ever
poor wight led into a deeper bog? "Go home," reason told us. If the lamp
post had been a repelling magnet, I should have gone. It was the
contrary, and I could not break the attraction.

That iron lamp post may possess a very strong magnetic power, yet it is
hardly possible, or probable--nay, it is very improbable that it was
that power which had drawn me hither and kept me waiting "coming
events."

They do "cast their shadows before," for the shadow, and then the
substance of a man came round the corner. Like half of those who walk
the streets at this hour, he was drunk. Just then there was a moving
light in No. 53. The intoxicated night-walker caught the sight of it
just as he came opposite the lamp post, and he stopped and laughed one
of those horrid laughs, which give the blood a chill and send it with a
pang and fluttering fear to the heart.

The last sad remains of a gentlemen--no--a roué, stood in the dim light
of a lamp which had been to him the guide to ruin.

"Ha, ha, ha, my old bird, you are astir I see. It is a long time since I
have seen you, but I have caged you at last. You would not speak to me,
ha, in Broadway, but I tracked you home, and now I am going to roost in
the old nest, or I will blow you out of your fine feathers, my lady.
Won't let me in? Won't let me in? Then I will break in. Hold, here comes
a star. I'll keep dark while it shines." Back he went around the corner,
the star went carelessly onward down that way, and I went
eaves-dropping. I was impelled to do it. I saw a light come in the front
room and heard voices, and felt that there was some strange connection
between this house and that man, and perhaps myself, and that the
mystery must soon be solved.

The blinds were closed, but the sash was up. I stood close under the
window, and the voices dropped down upon my ear through the slats, clear
and distinct as though I had been in the room.

The light-bearer with a noiseless step, as though afraid of awaking some
sick sleeper, approached a bed, shading the light with her hand.

It was no use. The timid start easy. There was a rustling-sound, as
though some one started up from an uneasy pillow and sleep-disturbing
dreams.

"Will he come?"

That voice, those words. Do I dream, or are there spirits near? Oh, how
familiar--how painfully familiar--reminiscential of things past. What
can it mean? But one voice ever spoke those words in that tone, and that
voice will never speak again. The dreamer is in the street. It is my
brain that is disturbed. Hark! Again! I heard aright.

"Oh, no, he will not come. Why should he? What am I to him? Yet I wanted
to see him a moment. It seems as though it is he only who can protect me
from that dreaded man. Oh, Phebe, Phebe, what should we do if he were to
come here to-night? He has sworn to have revenge upon me for leaving
him; yet how could I live with a man who threatened my life every day in
his drunken fits? Long after I went to Paris, he wrote to me that he
would rob me of my child--his child, if he died in the attempt. I long
thought--nay, hoped that he was--that is, that he never would return
from Cuba. I heard of him in the dungeons of the Moro, and now he is
here."

"Yes, ma'am, I is sure he is here. Dat am de fact. Jis sich man, stout,
red face, black hair, and such eyes. I is sure he is a wicked man."

"Only when he is drinking."

"Well, dat all de time wid some folk."

There was a groan of anguish in the bed.

"But, Phebe, you describe his looks just as I saw them to-day. Have you
seen him?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am--thought I wouldn't tell you though--but it come out
when I didn't know him."

"Where? Has he been here? Has he tracked me home?"

"Why, you see, ma'am, when I goes to the door to let Agnes Brentnall
out, I sees him over the way, by de lamp, and when she goes down the
street, he walks after her, and dat am last I see of him dis night."

"Poor girl, then she is lost. If ever he fixes his basalisk eye upon her
beauty, how can she escape. Poor girl--God protect thee--man will not."

There was a sobbing that told of tears--tears that told of a kind heart,
crushed by a cold and careless world.

Then I was about to enter, but something said, "not yet," and I stepped
down into the shadow by the high steps, till the footfall I heard upon
the pavement should go by.

It did not pass--it came directly up to the door, familiar as a burglar
with its night latch key. Why had they not bolted the door? It opened
as though to one who had a right to enter. The intruder--it was the
dark-visaged man I had seen five minutes before--closed the door gently
after him without latching it.

There was a thin lace curtain before the window, through which, as I
looked in between the slats of the blind, I could see him as he
approached the bed. Phebe had left the light and gone into the back
room. The lady had buried her face in the pillows--nothing but her raven
locks, hanging loose in her neck, were visible. The villain looked at
her for a moment, then, satisfied that she was asleep, he reached over
her, and lifted a beautiful little girl from her side.

"Mother! mother!"

The light shone in her face--the mother started at the appealing cry
for help--sprang up--Heavens, what do we see? It is little
Sissee--Little Katy's sister and her mother!

What a sight for that mother! The man she so much dreaded--the man who
had so disturbed her dreams--with her child, her last, her only child,
in his strong arms, and no one near to protect, to save.

She sprang towards him, and fixed her feeble hands in his hair. Of what
avail? He flung her from him reeling, fainting, across the room. The
noise brought the faithful Phebe from her couch--too late. The mother
saw her child disappearing in the dark passage--she heard her screams
for help--she heard no more. One look of his terrible eye, as he bore
away her struggling child, was enough to kill one of a stronger form
than hers. One look of satisfied revenge--revenge of a man upon a
feeble woman, and his hand is upon the door. One step more and he is in
the street. One step more and he fell, beneath a blow of a stout cane in
a strong man's hand, and lay trembling across that threshold, quivering
like a bullock felled by the butcher's blow.

[Illustration: A NEW YORK STREET SCENE.--_Page 341._]

"Here, Phebe, take the child; take care of the mother; tell her all is
safe; the Lord watches over the truly penitent; he will protect; he will
save."

I dragged the unconscious mass of human flesh down upon the pavement,
and struck three sharp blows upon the stones, with the broken
cane--broken in avenging a feeble woman. It was answered right and left,
up and down, and again repeated. I peered into the darkness for the
coming succor.

Will it come? Will it come in time? For a strong hand has seized my only
weapon, now he has it in his. There is a momentary struggle--the
prostrate man is up and the other one down.

A large Bowie knife, the midnight prowler's fashionable weapon, is
gleaming at my throat. A moment more, and all my debts were paid and
duties done.

Moments fleet fast, but all too slow for the assassin's knife, when it
is not the will of Him that giveth life, that life should fail. The
knife fell, but not with a blow--it fell from a broken arm.

The watchman's club had done the work. The watchman had heard the call,
and had come in time to save the avenger and punish the assassin.

"Take him away. You know me and where to send when I am wanted. I have
another life to save inside this house."

What was said or done need not be told. The reader is dull of divining
power, if he does not already know. I cannot tell. I only know that I
awaked from a short nap, next morning, in an easy chair, with a sweet
little girl, some three years old, clinging her arms around my neck and
nestling her cheek up to mine. Had mortal ever sweeter dreams?

"What time is it, Phebe?"

"Don't know dat, sir; sun up yonder."

"Is it? And she sleeps quietly? Very well, let her sleep. I will send a
doctor, on my way home, to look at her. Good by. Bon jour, Sis. One more
kiss, there."

"You will come again, when mamma wakes up?"

"Yes--Good bye."



CHAPTER XVI.

AGNES BRENTNALL.

     "Every inordinate cup is unblessed, and the ingredient is a
     devil."


So it proved that night to Agnes Brentnall. But who is she? That we have
yet to learn.

We have only heard the name once, during the conversation, between
Madame De Vrai and the black woman, Phebe, overheard in that
eaves-dropping midnight scene described in the last chapter, unless this
Agnes is the same one that we saw in a previous midnight scene, Perhaps
it is, for now we remember there was a Phebe in that. At any rate that
name, from both of these night scenes, had become deeply impressed upon
my mind, as belonging to a beautiful girl, followed in the street by a
night-prowling wolf, with a canine instinct which snuffs in the breeze
the far-off scent that leads him to some wandering female.

Mrs. De Vrai had said; "Then she is lost."

What had become of her? Had the woman-devouring monster consumed the
innocent girl and come back for more prey? He will prey no more, soon;
he has met his deserts at last. The stony walls of the Tombs' prison,
will hold him safe, and when he recovers from his broken arm, the law
will have its course. He will make a good Sing Sing worker in stone. It
will not break his heart, for it is as hard as the stone he will hammer.

But what of poor Agnes? Would that I knew. Did she fall before his
basalisk eye? Such thoughts were upon my mind as I entered the door of
the house I called my home, after such a night of strange adventures as
I have just made the reader acquainted with.

"Where have you been?" was the anxious question that met me as I
entered.

"What in the world took you out and kept you out all night? Did you find
that woman? How is she? Is anything the matter? I do think you might
write quite a romance out of your adventures."

There is no occasion to write romance, it is only necessary to give the
real pictures of life--real scenes as they occur in New York, to make up
a volume more strange than wildest romance.

"Where have I been? Where I saw strange sights. Where it does seem as
though some mysterious influence led me, to meet with another
adventure."

"You might have had one at home, sufficiently interesting, I should
think. A young girl, wickedly made drunk, for the basest
purpose on earth--'tis a horrid tale--you shall hear it by and
by--unprotected--alone in the street, at midnight--staggering to and
fro, chased like a dog by a crowd of boys and half-drunken men, taking
refuge in our basement area, within ten minutes after you left the
house."

"You took her in? Yes, yes; I see, I see--a heavenly deed produces a
heavenly smile."

What was it shot through my brain? A thought. A strange thought. What
could have sent it there. Is it true? We shall see.

"What is her name?--where is she? You have not sent her away?"

"You shall see--come up-stairs. She is not up yet. She has been
distressingly sick--she is better now, almost well, though very feeble.
The doctor says, she was poisoned."

"No doubt, if drunk, of course she was. Every drop of
drunkenness-producing liquor is poison, of the most subtle kind--slow,
but sure."

She was still in bed. Her kind protector had furnished her with a clean,
white bed-gown and cap, and a prettier face, indicating about sixteen or
seventeen years, never looked up smilingly from a downy pillow.

"She is very pale now. She vomited terribly all the latter part of the
night. Her color will soon come again."

"Oh, yes, ma'am, I feel quite well now. Do let me get up and dress
myself, and go home--I cannot bear to be a trouble to you any longer.
Oh, sir, she has been a mother to me--more than a mother--if I had such
a mother----."

"Well, well, my girl, never mind now. You cannot get up yet. You must
keep quiet to-day. To-morrow, we will see you safe home."

"Oh, sir, I cannot possibly wait till to-morrow. What will Mrs. Meltrand
think?"

"She shall know all about it before night."

"Oh, no, no, no! not all, not all! I should die with shame."

"Well, then, only that you have been to see a friend, and was taken very
sick."

"Yes, I have been to see a friend, a dear friend, a poor unfortunate
woman. Indeed, I must get up. She is sicker than I am, and besides, I
promised to go, too, and see a friend for her. It is a gentleman that
she thinks a great deal of, sir,--one who was very kind to her when she
was very bad, and lived very miserably, and she thinks he was sent by
Providence to save her from total ruin. That, sir, was before her little
daughter died. Did you ever read about that, sir? it was published in
'the New York Tribune.'"

"I do not know; that paper publishes so many stories. I read the most of
them. Then, you want to see Mr. Greeley. You need not go there for that,
you can----"

"Oh, are you Mr. Greeley, then?"

"No, but I shall see him soon, and I will tell him what you want. If it
is to assist some poor distressed widow, you may depend upon it, he will
do all he can afford, for he is a good man; his worst enemies
acknowledge that."

"No, sir, it is not Mr. Greeley, that I am to go and see, it is another
gentleman in the office of his paper."

"Who is it? What is his name? I know all of the gentlemen in that
office; I can take your message to any one of them, and will do so with
pleasure. Is it Mr. Dana? he is the next principal editor to Mr.
Greeley."

"No, that is not the name. I cannot recollect it, now. But he is one of
the editors."

"One of the editors! Why, my girl, that paper has a dozen editors.
Perhaps, it is one of the assistants. Is it Mr. Cleveland?--no--Mr.
Snow?--no--Mr. Fry, Mr. Thayer?--no--Mr. Ripley?--no--Mr. Ottarson?"

"No, I think not, but that sounds something like it."

"Why, my dear girl, there are a hundred men, editors, reporters,
compositors, pressmen, book-keepers, and all, in that office; now, how
are you going to find one that you do not know, and say you have
forgotten his name?"

"May be I shall recollect it when I get there. Don't you know how names
come back to us sometimes? Do you never forget names?"

"Often, but I never forget faces. I have seen yours before, but I have
forgotten where, just as you have forgotten that gentleman's name."

"Oh, sir, have you? well, I do not remember your face, but it does seem
as though I had heard your voice, and, perhaps, if the room was not so
dark, I should know you. The lady said, I must keep it dark, and sleep
this morning. It is no wonder that I should forget everything, I was so
badly frightened last night."

"Well, I don't see how you are to find which one you wish to see, among
so many, unless you can recollect his name."

"Oh, that will be easy enough, sir. I will ask one of the gentlemen. I
am sure any one of them will tell me, for I am sure they are all
gentlemen, real gentlemen."

"I do not see what it is that you are to inquire for, or who, or now to
find, out which one, or anything about it."

"Oh, sir, it is the one that wrote that little story about her
daughter."

"Her daughter?"

"Yes, sir, Mrs. De Vrai's daughter."

A light began to dawn in my mind, and I said carelessly, "her daughter?"

"Yes, sir, her daughter. Little Katy, in that pretty story of Hot Corn.
She is Little Katy's mother, sir, and she wants to see the gentleman
that wrote that story. She did not know his name until yesterday. She
thought it was Mr. Greeley, and he was out of town, and she had never
seen him since Little Katy was buried, and she had moved away from where
she used to live, without letting him know where she was. Yesterday she
found out her mistake, and sent Phebe--you laugh--do you know Phebe?"

"Yes, yes, I know Phebe, and I know you now; I know you for a
kind-hearted, good-natured girl. Your name is Agnes."

"Oh, yes, sir, has Mrs. Morgan told you."

Now the reader is surprised. Yes, it is Mrs. Morgan--Athalia. It was she
that faced the crowd of savages that cried "drag her out." It was she
that took poor Agnes in and gave up her own bed, and nursed and watched
her all night, and sent for a physician for her. It was Agnes, the girl
that you have seen in the picture with the negro wood-sawyer, and at his
home when Phebe divided her bed to give the poor girl a lodging. There
is some goodness yet in human nature. It was Phebe that Agnes went to
see, while nursing Mrs. De Vrai. It was the latter for whom she was now
so anxious to get up out of her sick bed, that she might go and tell the
gentleman who wrote the story of "Little Katy," that Little Katy's
mother was almost dying to see him. It was by that token that she would
find him.

"Did Mrs. Morgan tell you my name."

"No, she has not told me; you told me that a long time ago."

"Me, sir? Do you know me, sir?"

"Yes, better than you do me. You have forgotten the gentleman that
stopped you in the street one night with old Peter?"

"Oh, dear me; yes, no, not forgotten, but I did not remember. Oh, oh,
how singular that I should come right here to this house, where you
live, and this dear good lady lives. Oh, I wish I was good; but I am not
a good girl. Oh, sir, has this lady told you how bad I was last night?
But it was not all my fault, sir. If you only know, what a poor
unfortunate girl I have been--but sir, upon my word, I have not been
what folks call a _bad_ girl."

"We believe you. There, don't cry, keep yourself quiet to-day, and we
hope to see you quite smart this evening."

"Oh, do let me go and find that gentleman, for Mrs. De Vrai. If you only
knew what a good lady she is now, now she don't drink any more. But I am
afraid she won't live very long. She has got a dreadful cough. And she
was worse last night, for she saw somebody in the street
yesterday--some man--a bad man--I believe they are all bad--no, no, I
don't mean all--but a good many of them."

"I am glad that the sight of bad men in the street, don't make every
lady sick who sees one; if it did we might turn the whole city into a
general hospital. But what about that man?"

"I don't know what, but she was dreadful 'fraid of him, and that he
would come where she lives."

"So he did, but he will not come again, soon."

"Then you know him, too?"

"Yes. And that is not all I know. I know you left Mrs. De Vrai's last
night about half-past nine o'clock, on your way home; that soon after
you started you were overtaken by a stout-built gentleman, with black
hair and black whiskers, who said, 'Good evening, Miss, how did you
leave Mrs. De Vrai, this evening?'"

"Mercy on me, his exact words. Did you hear them? I am sure I did not
see anybody else near us at the time."

"No, I did not hear him--was not in that part of the city."

"He has told you then. I am sure I never did."

"No, neither have told me."

"What then?"

"What then? why, then you answered, 'Oh, sir, are you acquainted with
Mrs. De Vrai?'"

"So I did; why how strange that you should know it all."

"And then he began to talk to you about the danger of such a pretty girl
going home alone--"

"Yes, sir, and then he offered me his arm; and, and, and I thought as he
was a friend of Mrs. De Vrai's I might take it, and he said so many
pretty things that----"

"That you were deceived by a villain, and----"

"Oh, sir, for mercy sake don't tell all before this dear good lady, she
who saved my life last night. Don't tell all."

"Why, Agnes, I cannot tell all. How do you suppose I know all?"

"I don't know, sir, but I am sure you do. What is it makes you know it;
is it what they call animal magnetism, or what is it? Are you a medium?"

"Yes, I hope so; a medium of glad tidings, that will bring great joy to
the world. But not a spirit medium, as they are called."

"I don't know then how you know all about me, but I am sure you do."

"No, I do not; I never saw you but once before, in my life--never heard
of you since except to hear your name mentioned once last night, and
that you had been at Mrs. De Vrai's in the evening, and that that man
followed you from there, and I guessed his wicked purpose."

"Yes, yes, wicked indeed."

"I know nothing more. I do not ask you either to tell more, yet I
believe it would be a relief to you to tell it, and that it will be a
burden off of your mind."

"Yes, yes, it will, it will; but I am afraid that you will not believe
me, or that you will despise me, or laugh at me for being so simple, to
be so deceived by a stranger; but then how could I tell that he was a
bad man, and the streets so dark?"

Poor child, could she have told any better if it had been as light as
noonday, that the soft-spoken, smiling gentleman, with his sweet words,
only used them to cover up a heart full of bitterness and lying deceit?

"And so he told you he was an acquaintance of Mrs. De Vrai's, a friend,
and then he offered you his arm."

"Yes, sir, and I thought I might take it--that it was so kind of
him--for he told me that he was just going in to see her when he saw a
lady come out, and he thought he would step along and ask her if Mrs. De
Vrai was up, and how she was this evening, and if she had gone to bed,
he would not disturb her; perhaps too, he might be of service to a
friend of hers, by walking home with her. And then he asked me a great
many questions about Mrs. De Vrai, how long she had lived there, and who
lived with her, and who else lived in the house, and about little
Sissee; he asked such a heap of questions--if she was pretty, and how
big she was, and where she slept, and where her mother slept, and oh! I
cannot tell you how many things; and then he told me how he knew her in
Paris, and what a pretty little girl she had--that was Katy, sir,--and
then I told him that Katy was dead, and then--but I did not think of it
then--he did not seem a bit sorry about it, while I could not help
crying, only thinking about it--and that she should die just then too,
when her mother was going to be a good mother, and when some good men
were just going to begin to be good to her. Oh, sir, it was sad, very
sad for her to die then, was it not? But I suppose it is all right--that
everything is for the best--Mr. Pease says it is. Do you know Mr.
Pease--has Mr. Pease ever told you about her; has he told you how Mrs.
De Vrai used to live in the Five Points, and how little Katy used to
sell hot corn?"

"No, nothing, but never mind that now. You were going to tell us about
the stranger you were walking and chatting with so cosily."

"So I will."

"Yes, so I was. But when I talked about Little Katy's death, I got off
my story. Well, sir, we walked on towards Broadway, and he said we would
go through Canal street, it was lighter there, and so it was, a good
many shops were open, and all the places where folks go to drink, and
the ice cream saloons were open, and there were such crowds of pretty
girls walking arm in arm with nice gentlemen, looking so proud and happy
with their beaux, and I suppose I looked just so, too, for I could not
help thinking how poor I had been, and now how well dressed I was, and
that I had a beau, too; and when I saw others going in to get ice cream
and good suppers, I almost wished--well, I did feel tempted and I
suppose all girls do, who see such things; and I suppose he must have
guessed what I was thinking of, for he said, 'we won't go into any of
those public places, there is a nice place just round the corner--real
genteel--it is the ---- Hotel--we will go there and have some ice cream
and good cool ice water--you don't drink anything else?' said he, sort
of inquiringly--'no, sir, not now, I have taken the pledge,'--'so have
I,' says he--'that is right--all girls ought to take the pledge.' So we
turned up Broadway, and then I should think just round one corner, but I
don't know certain, it was so light, and so many finely dressed
gentlemen round the door, and one of them said, 'look there, Jim, what a
pretty girl De V. has got; and that made me blush, and feel so confused
I did not know which way I went, and so I clung to his arm, for I
thought with him I was safe, and the first that I knew, we were standing
close behind some ladies and gentlemen going in at a door--I saw
'private door' on it, and did not quite like that, but I did not exactly
know what it meant, and hung back a little, and then he spoke so
sweetly, and said, 'don't be afraid,' that I thought it was all right,
or else what would so many ladies and gentlemen go there for? So we went
in, and the gentleman says to the nice-looking waiter, in his clean
white apron, 'No. 6, Bill.'

"'No. 6 is occupied, sir, but I will give you another room--all right.'"

'All right.' What could it mean? What could it mean that most all the
ladies I saw, wore thick, close veils, so that nobody could tell who
they were, old or young, ugly or pretty? But I had not much time to
think, for we walked very fast through the passage, between I don't know
how many little private supper rooms, and pretty soon we went into one
ourselves. There was a table, four chairs and not much else in the room.
The waiter made the gas light burn bright and then stood a moment for
his order.

"'What shall it be, Miss--I do not recollect your name.'

"How should he? I had never told him, he never knew it. I answered,
'Brentnall.'

"'Oh, yes, Miss Brentnall, what shall we have?'"

How easy poor, weak girls are flattered. It was the first time, perhaps,
she had been thus addressed. What would she have? She did not know.

"I was hungry, real hungry, and, so I told him, when he insisted upon
it, that I was so; and then he said, how fortunate that two hungry
persons should happen to meet, and that they had come to such a good
place, where they could get everything that the heart could wish. Did I
like crabs--soft crabs--then we would have a supper of soft crabs. 'And
I say, Bill, while they are cooking, bring some ice water, a chicken
salad, and, let me see, you drink nothing but water, I drink no liquor,
no wine. Are you fond of Heidsick?' I could not tell--I did not know
what Heidsick was, only that it was some kind of drink that the fellows
used to call for at that house where you saw Peter help me to get away
from. I thought it was some kind of soda water, it used to sparkle and
foam so, when they poured it out, but I would never taste it then; I
wish I had not now. I would not, only that the gentleman said it was
like water.

"'It is a sweet, pleasant French drink,' said he, 'not a drop of spirit
in it--about like ginger pop, or soda water--you will see how it flies
when I draw the cork.'

"It did fly and foam and sparkle, as he poured it out, and looked so
good. He handed me a glass with such a smile, how could I refuse? How
could I know I should break my pledge by tasting? It tasted so good,
how could I help drinking. The salad was very good, and that made the
drink taste better still, and so we eat and sipped, and sipped and eat
with a silver fork. It was delightful.

"After a while the crabs came, and then we eat them--how good. Was it
any wonder that so many come here to eat, and drink 'Hiedsick?' And then
the rooms were so quiet. Still, the partitions are very thin, for I
overheard a woman in the next room say to a gentleman, 'now quit that,
or I will tell my husband. You had better not do that again.' And then I
heard a little scuffle, and then she said, 'Are you not ashamed of
yourself?'"

Why was she not ashamed of herself? She would have been "mortified to
death" to have her husband know that she was in that room, eating late
suppers and drinking wine, at least, once a week. No wonder she wore a
thick veil. She was yet a little ashamed, for fashion's sake, ashamed to
be seen going into a private room, at ten o'clock, at night, with a
_cavalier servante_. She is on a quick voyage to a shameless harbor, and
will soon arrive there--perhaps, just such a harbor as the home of Elsie
Morgan, where the rats harbored with her in the same cellar; or the home
of little Katy, and her mother in Cow Bay. She would have been ashamed
to have her husband know, that under pretence of going to visit a sick
friend, she had come with _a friend_ to sup in a "private room," in a
"fashionable eating-house." So, too, would that husband have been
ashamed to have his wife know, that under pretence of going to call on
an old friend at the hotel, he was actually, at that moment, enjoying
himself with that friend in the next room, and that that friend was a
friend of his wife, too--the fashionable Mrs. Smith, whose husband is in
California, toiling to earn money, which he remits to her, which she is
using to procure a divorce from him, that she may marry a man she is
already playing the harlot with, and whom she will fool in the same way
she does her present poor simpleton of a husband. In fact, she is
already fooling her paramour, for she is here with another man; and that
man is the husband of a lady, whom she addresses as her "dear friend."
Ah, well! _C'est la vie_ in New York.

"So we sat and talked, and eat and drank, a long time, for time went
merrily on, and at last he poured out the last of the good bottle, and
we were just going to drink it and go, for I said, 'I must go home, I
have a good mile to go yet,' and he said, 'Oh, I will see you safe
home.' So as I was lifting the glass, he caught my arm, and said, 'Stop,
there is a fly in it;' and he took my glass and began to look about for
something to take the fly out.

"'Oh, this will do.' And he took a little folded piece of paper out of
his pocket, and stooped down a little under the table, as though to
throw it on the floor."

"What for?"

"Do you think he could have put anything in the glass out of that piece
of paper, just in the moment he had it? I thought there was a bitter
taste. I wish I had thought so at first. But I drank it, and then
started to go home. When I got in the street, I did not know which way I
went. I should have gone up Broadway, but we did not. Everything seemed
so strange. I felt as though I could fly almost. I never felt so before.
I clung to his arm, I could not walk without it. I felt as though I
could almost hug him. And then he put his arm around my waist; I am sure
I would not have let him do that if I had known what I was about; and so
we went on, I do not know how far, or which way, but it could not have
been a great way, and then he went up to a great fine house, with a
silver plate on the door, with a name on it in great letters, it was
Phillips or Brown, or something, only one name--just as though they were
ashamed of the other, or else did not want to be known, or something. I
said, don't go in there, what will the folks think? and he said, 'Oh,
this is a friend of mine lives here, a very nice lady, and we will stop
and rest a little while, and then I will go home with you. I guess the
Hiedsick has got in your head a little, and we will go in here and wait
awhile, till you feel better.' Well, I did feel as though I could not go
home, until I got over my dizziness, and when he said, he knew the
folks, and that they were nice people, I thought I would go in a few
minutes. So he rung the bell, and then a woman came and opened a little
blind in the door, so that she could see who was there, and then he
said, 'Open the door, Leta,' and then she said, 'Oh, is that you?' and
then I knew he was acquainted there, and in we went, and he whispered
something to her, and then she called the servant girl and told her to
show the gentleman up to No. 6. There it was, No. 6 again. And there it
was again, for she said, 'there is a gentleman and lady in No. 6 now; I
will give them another, all right.' I am sure, I never shall hear that
word again without believing it means all wrong. But I scarcely knew
right from wrong; I just held to his arm, and went wherever he led me.
It was a very nice room that she showed us in. There were beautiful
pictures on the walls; I could not see very well what they were, but I
thought they looked like some I had seen once before, such as I am sure
never should be hung up anywhere. There was a great mirror, and
marble-top tables, and washstand, a very rich carpet, and such a
splendid bed, and chairs and rocking chairs, one of which I sat down in,
for I felt so tired and sort of sleepy; and then he told the servant to
bring in some water, and when it came, he poured out a tumbler full, but
I do believe it was half wine, and I drank it down, and then I felt, oh,
I never can tell how I felt, or what happened after that; but I know
more happened, and that more was--was--what I never can tell."

"Villain, black-hearted villain; who laid his snares for a poor,
simple-hearted girl, to work her ruin. I wonder that you ever got away,
ever got out of that house. How did you do it?"

"When I came to a little, I ran down stairs as fast as I could go, and
he ran after me, and cried, 'Stop her,' and two other women ran out in
the hall to do it, but just then the door was opened, and two gentlemen
were going out, and I ran right into the arms of one of them, and he
carried me clear out, in spite of them, and then the other one said,
'Let her go, she is drunk--now run.' I did run and they hallooed, and
then the boys took after me, and, oh, dear, you know the rest."



CHAPTER XVII.

THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE.--AGNES.

    "All things are pure to those who are pure."

    "Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile."


Perhaps some of my readers have been sufficiently interested to inquire,
"Who is Agnes, and what of her?" Perhaps there may be some, who, like
Mrs. McTravers, think she is not a proper character to introduce into a
respectable family, coming as she did from a house which gives an air of
taint, spoiled, lost, ruined, to every character that is found within
its walls. I am aware that there is room for suspicion, but suspicion is
not proof. In the case of Athalia, her acknowledged sin is no more proof
of moral turpitude than any other act of a deranged mind. A lunatic may
kill, yet it is not murder. A drunken husband may beat his loving wife,
and love her still. It was not the man who struck the blow, it was the
demon Rum! It was not Athalia who lost her virtue, it was the worse than
demon who robbed her--intoxicated her--destroyed her reason--enslaved
her mind--but he did not, could not, destroy her virtuous, benevolent
heart. Her conduct toward Agnes, is alone sufficient to prove this. And
if she had known as much as I did of Agnes, that there might be some
ground of suspicion against her, it would have made no odds; she would
have taken her in and taken care of her in the same way, if she had
known that she was a great sinner; that is the true way to work
reformation; and then she would have said, "Go, daughter, and sin no
more."

But she knew nothing against Agnes; even after I had told her of the
trunk, she said, all may yet be right. She was unwilling to believe that
all was wrong. How triumphantly she met me as I came home in the
evening--how a woman does love to triumph over us in a good cause,
proving herself what she is in all the purest qualities of the
heart,--our superior.

"I told you so," said Athalia. "I knew there had been some base
deception, some wickedness practiced towards that poor girl to inveigle
her into that house. Come up stairs, and you shall hear her story from
her own lips; she is quite smart now, and able to sit up and talk, and
looks so pretty--she is pretty, and that has been the great cause of her
trouble. But she is a good girl; I have heard a good deal about her
to-day, besides what she has told me. Phebe and Peter, have both been
here, and such a meeting, oh! it would have done your heart good to have
been here, and to see these poor blacks' conduct towards this girl,
after I had told them the story of her adventures last evening: they
hugged her, and kissed her with as much affection as though she had been
one of their own; and then Peter went to see the lady where she had been
living, at the place he got for her, the next day after your first
interview with her, and the lady was terribly alarmed about the poor
girl, and so she would not let Peter come back until she had the
carriage up, and then she took him in--only to think, such a sweet,
nice, pretty lady did not feel herself in the least disgraced to ride
with a poor, old, negro wood-sawyer in her fine carriage, to visit a
poor sick servant girl. And so she came, and such a time! why, if she
had been her own child, she could not have been more affectionate. And
then Agnes told us her story, and then I told Mrs. Meltrand, that is her
name, about Mrs. De Vrai, and how that same man, who treated Agnes so
badly, tried to steal Mrs. De Vrai's little girl, and then she said,
'how singular,' and then of course I said, what is so singular?"

"Ah me, it is a long story, and would not interest you, but I was robbed
of a dear little girl, fifteen years ago, in England, by just such a
man, in just the same way, but it could not have been this man, his name
was Brentnall."

"Brentnall, why that is my name," said Agnes.

"Your name, why you never told me that before."

"No, ma'am, you never asked me, and I did not suppose that you cared to
know anything about me, only that I was a good girl, and did your work
well, and answered to the name of Agnes."

True. How little interest we all take in our servants; they come and go
and we never know that they have any name but one that is most
convenient to call them by, and we take no interest in them, hardly
enough to know that they possess souls as precious as our own.

"And so, your name is Brentnall, what was your father's name?"

"I don't know, ma'am, as I ever had any, or mother either."

"But you must have had both."

"Oh yes, I suppose I must, to have been born, but I mean I never saw
any."

"Where did you live, and who brought you up?"

"I lived with an uncle, near Belfast, and came over with him and his
family, and every one of them died of ship fever on the voyage, and when
I landed here in this great city, I was utterly alone, and almost
penniless. Oh dear!"

"And then Mrs. Meltrand, said, 'Oh dear,' and she went away feeling sad.
I do wish I knew what it could be in that name that made her feel so
sad. Some reminiscence connected with the loss of her little girl, I
suppose. It is very sad, to lose a child by death, it must be very much
more sad to have one stolen away, and never know what becomes of it,
whether dead or alive; and if the mother should meet her own child in
the street not to know it; but dear me, how I am running on while you
are eating your supper, as though you had nothing to think of but the
things that interest me so much. But if you have been able to eat while
I have been talking, come up to my room and see my protégé and hear her
story."

So we went up, and found the invalid almost recovered, looking so sweet,
for she looked grateful, and that, when it beams out like the sunlight,
will make any face look beautiful.

"I told you," said Mrs. Morgan, "about her landing here penniless and
alone, and I want she should tell you--there now, there is the bell, how
I do hope that is uncle--yes it is--it is; do you hear him talking to
Bridget? that is his step, now--"

Now the door opens, and now she is in his arms, and now there are more
questions than answers:--

"When did he arrive? How did he find things out West? Has he been to
supper? What is the news?"

"Now you are a perfect woman, you are enough to confuse a whirlwind. Sit
down, and be quiet, and I will tell you all that you need to know. But
first tell me who is this young lady; you forgot to introduce me."

"So I did, but of course she knows by this time that you are my uncle,
and you will know directly all about her, for she was just going to tell
part of her story, and I shall tell the rest before you go to bed."

"I will warrant that. Perhaps you would like to hear mine, and where I
have been since I arrived."

"Yes, indeed, do tell me, and why you did not come right home?"

"I have been to jail, since I arrived; locked up in the criminal cells.
It is a little singular too, how I got there. It is all owing to the
newspapers."

"Owing to the newspapers, uncle, I do not understand how the papers
should get you in prison."

"Very well I do. I saw an item in one of them this evening, about the
arrest of a person whose name struck me very forcibly as being that of a
man whom I once knew in Europe, and who I was very anxious to see, for I
felt the deepest interest to know what had become of his wife. For him
I cared nothing, I knew he was a villain, and felt rejoiced to think he
had met his deserts at last; but his wife was a sweet good woman, a
victim of unfortunate circumstances all through her life, and when I saw
her last I had reason to fear that she was falling into a course adopted
by many, many others, of drowning sorrow in wine. But I shall not tell
my story now; I will sit down and hear yours."

"Well then, Agnes, tell what you did after landing."

At the sound of her name, Mr. Lovetree gave a little start, and said,
"Agnes! oh, pshaw!" and sunk back again in his easy chair, as though he
had been affected by the name, and thought it very foolish that he had
been so. Agnes, said: "Indeed, ma'am, I don't think the gentlemen will
be at all interested to hear anything about me."

"Yes, yes, I have promised them."

"Well, then, after my uncle died, and all my friends, I felt dreadful;
it is dreadful for a young girl to be left all alone in a strange
country. So when the ship landed, or rather when she came to anchor, the
people from shore came aboard, and I saw how many of the poor emigrants
had friends to welcome them, and that I had none; it was then that I
felt the dreadful loneliness of my situation, and I sat down and cried,
for I could not help it, and then a man came and spoke to me very
pleasantly, and asked me where I wanted to go, and all about it, and
then I told him all my troubles, and then he said it was the luckiest
thing in the world that I had met with him, for he was an emigrant
agent, appointed by law, and he would take charge of me and take me
ashore to a boarding-house, and do everything for me. And then he asked
me how much money I had, and I told him that I had but a few shillings,
of my own, but that I had three gold sovereigns that were my uncle's--he
had more, a great deal more, when he died, but somebody must have taken
it away--and that was all I had in the world besides their chests of
clothes and things. And then he said, that it was very lucky for me that
I had that, for he would have to pay half a guinea head-money for each
passenger, no matter how many were dead, and then he would have to pay
the custom-house duty, and the wharfage and the cartage, and the week in
advance for the board, and that would take all the money and more too,
but he would pay that and hold the things until I could pay him back. So
I gave him the money, and he got the chests, all but my trunk, I would
keep that, and took them ashore, and took me to a boarding-house, and
that was the last I ever saw of him, or the money or chests either, he
had robbed me of all of my poor uncle's things, and my three gold
sovereigns; so the landlady said, and he never paid her a cent of board.
I did not know what to do; I was willing to work, but how should I find
a place. The landlady said, I must go to the 'Intelligence office.' I
thought I should like to go somewhere to get intelligence of the man who
had run away with my things, or any other intelligence that would be of
any benefit to a poor stranger in this great Babel of a city. And I
asked her to tell me the way to the 'Intelligence office,' and I went
there. It was a great room, divided into two parts; one was full of men,
and the other of girls, sitting on long benches. I went in and sat down
among them, and I suppose, I looked sad--I felt so, and I felt worse
when I heard some of the girls snickering, and overheard them say,
'there is a green one.' If that was an 'Intelligence' office, I thought
it a very queer way of giving it to one so much in need of it as I was.
After a while, one of the girls came and sat down by me, and spoke
kindly, and asked where I came from, and a good many questions; I was
almost afraid to answer her, for fear that she was 'an emigrant agent,'
too, and had some plan to cheat me, or practice some deception, but I
became convinced in a little while that she meant kindly; and then I
told her all about myself. Then, she said, that I must get my name
registered. I did not know what that was for, but I went up to the
bookkeeper, and told him my name, and age, and where I came from, and
what I could do, and he wrote it all down in a book and then told me to
give him half a dollar, and when I got a place I must give him another
one; I did not know what for; he gave me no intelligence about how I was
to get a place, but he told me to go and sit down again. So I did, all
that day and all the three next days, waiting for somebody to pick me
out of the lot. Every hour, somebody came and looked over all the girls,
for all the world just as I have seen the people do in the pig-market,
at an Irish fair, until they found one that would suit. One objected to
me because I was 'green;' another, because I had never been at service
in this country; another, because I had no recommend; and then a girl
whispered to me, and told me she knew a man who would write me just as
many recommends as I wanted, for a shilling a piece. If that is the way
recommends are made, I don't see what good they are. At last, after
being looked over day after day, like a lot of damaged goods, a lady, at
least, I thought she was a lady, selected me the very first one, and for
the very reason that twenty others had rejected me--because I was too
good-looking. When she found that I had no friends in this country, and
no father or mother in the world, she seemed still more anxious to have
me, which I thought so kind of her, and then she told me that the work
would be very light, only some rooms to take care of, and wait upon
company a little, and she knew I should like the place; I thought I
should; I did at first, but, I don't want to tell, before the gentlemen,
why I did not like to live there; this one knows already."

"Well, well, you need not tell, we understand all about it. You have
been treated just as a great many poor girls without friends have been
treated before in this city; and you got just as much intelligence, and
just as much profit from your application to the 'Intelligence office,'
as a great many others have done before you."

Now, it was Athalia's turn to tell her uncle all that she knew about
Agnes, and then he told about his visit to the prison.

"I found," said he, "the very man I expected, or rather hoped, it might
be, and it is well that I acted upon the impulse of the moment, for if I
had not, I should have been too late. It is the doctor's opinion, that
he will not live till morning. It seems that he got into some
difficulty with the police last night, and one of them, to prevent him
from stabbing another man, broke his arm."

There was a little start of surprise on my part, and that of Mrs.
Morgan; but we made no interruption, and Lovetree went on with his
story. We thought, though, we could not help that.

"I expect he had been drinking hard, for he tore off the bandage from
his arm in the night, and when the keeper opened his cell this morning,
he found him almost dead with loss of blood and vital prostration. He
cannot live. They had aroused him, and I found him quite rational when I
went in, and was immediately placed beyond all doubt as to the identity
of the man, for he called me by name the moment he saw me."

"I am glad you have come," said he, "I can trust you, and I want to make
a clean breast of it before I die. My wife and child--my last one--are
in this city, and when I am gone, I want you to go and see her, and tell
her, that I shall never trouble her any more; she will be glad to hear
it, for she saw me last night, and I left the old lady somewhat in a
fright. I cannot tell you the exact number, but I can tell you so that
you can find the house easy enough. It is in W-- street."

"Oh, dear, I cannot stand it any longer," said Mrs. Morgan.

"Cannot stand it? I don't see anything that you cannot stand. You
surprise me."

"Not half as much as you surprise us. We know all about it. It was him,"
and she pointed to me, "that knocked the ruffian down; it was him that
he was about to stab when the watchman broke his arm; and it is she,
uncle, Mrs. De Vrai, his wife, who is the mother of Little Katy; now,
you know all about it; we know all about it."

"No, not all, for he told me, that he believed his other wife was in
this city, also, married here, and he wanted that I should look her up,
too; and tell her where, perhaps, she may find her child."

"Tell her," said he, "that I left it with my brother, near Belfast, an
Irish farmer, by the name of William Brentnall."

"William Brentnall!" said Agnes, her eyes opening with wild surprise.

"I do think," said Mr. Lovetree, "that I have lost my senses, or else
some of the rest of you have. First, one, and then the other, fairly
screams out some exclamation as though I were a conjurer, and you could
cot comprehend my words or actions. Have you done now, shall I go on?"

"Yes, yes, uncle; I am dying with curiosity, and as for Agnes, she looks
the very picture of wonder."

"Indeed I feel so."

"Well, I don't understand why, but I suppose I might as well proceed.
'Tell her,' said he, 'that he is well known and easily found, and that I
left the child with him, telling him that it was mine, and that its
mother was dead.' Then I was a little surprised, for I thought his name
was De Vrai, 'but that,' he said, 'was an assumed one, the name by
which he married the woman that I knew, because he dared not marry her
by his own name. Then, I asked him what was her name, who I should look
for, and who she should inquire for, to find her child? Then he took a
little card out of his pocket, as though he would write her name, and
then he seemed to recollect his broken arm, and said, with a groan, 'my
writing days are over, and all my days nearly.' Then, he told me, to
take the card and write, and so I did, here it is--'this is the mother's
name, and this is her daughter's, upon the truth of a dying man--tell
her so, beg her to forgive and forget the dead.'"

"What are the names? Do tell us, uncle."

"Mrs. Meltrand--Agnes Brentnall."

Now there were at least two screams and one, "Oh how wonderful!"

Then Agnes said, "Mrs. Meltrand my mother!--that is wonderful!"

Then Mr. Lovetree looked surprised; all around him seemed to be a mass
of mystery. Others began to see through it, he was now in the dark.

Athalia explained. There was one point that she was not quite clear
upon, and she asked her uncle if Agnes was really De Vrai's daughter, or
only Mrs. Meltrand's?

"His own. Mrs. Meltrand, was his lawful wife when he married Mrs. De
Vrai."

"Oh my God! then Agnes is his own child."

None spoke--what each thought sent a thrill of icy horror to every
heart. All groaned or wept, none could speak. There are moments in life
of speechless agony, when the mind is completely horrified, when
anything that breaks the silence comes as a relief. It came now in the
sound of the door bell. It was a messenger to Mr. Lovetree. It brought
relief to aching minds. It was very short. It only said, "he is dead."
It is perhaps wrong to rejoice at the death of a fellow creature, but we
could not feel regret.

After the first flush of excitement was over, a note was written to
Agnes's mother, simply stating that if she would call at Mrs. Morgan's
at her earliest convenience, she would meet with an individual who could
tell her of her long-lost daughter. She made it convenient to come
immediately, though it was then ten o'clock at night.

It is not reasonable to suppose that she could keep away till morning,
particularly as she had heard a word or two at her first visit which
left her mind uneasy.

I drop the curtain upon the scene when the mother acknowledges and
receives to her arms her long-lost daughter, while I go to carry comfort
to the heart of Mrs. De Vrai, the ill-treated wife--the widow of a
villain--the mother of his child, soon to be an orphan.

What a load it lifted from her crushed heart, when I told her those
three little words--"he is dead."

"Then my child will be safe, at least from his evil influences."

What a dreadful thing it is for a wife to feel upon the death of her
husband that she is safe herself, that her child is safe, more safe
among strangers than with its own father.

Why should she feel so? Why does she feel so? The answer is still
shorter than that which gave her relief--which told her that her child's
father was dead. That was composed of three words, this of one. That one
word is--Rum!!

It was that which made a villain of him, a double villain to two wives
and the children of both. It was that which made him attempt the
greatest wrong that a father can do to his own child. Poor Agnes!

It was that which drove Mrs. De Vrai step by step from the paths of
peaceful, youthful innocence, comfort and affluence, to--but I will not
name the intermediate steps--to that wretched abode where the little
girl who sold Hot Corn, and slept in the rain upon the cold stones,
breathed her pure life away in prayers to that mother not to drink any
more of that soul and body destroying rum.

It was that mother, who, upon her death bed, prayed me to tell the world
the fruits that the traffic in rum produces. "Tell them to look at me,
at my history, or a brief view of it; its details would fill a volume.
Tell mothers to watch their daughters. Tell those who bring up children
in hotels and public houses, that they are rearing their daughters to
one chance of virtue, against ten of sin and woe. My mother was left
early a widow, with a competence to raise her two daughters 'at home,'
yet she seemed to delight in the excitement incident to a life in a
hotel or great boarding-house. As children, we were petted and spoiled;
as misses, we learned all that girls usually learn in such
boarding-schools as fashionable mothers send them to; as young ladies,
we were the flattered of fops and roués, and our mother allowed us to
be in a constant flirtation at home, or out every night to parties,
balls, soirées, theatres, concerts, and then to saloons, late suppers,
and wines, and--oh dear!--what if I had had a home and a mother to keep
me out of temptation; but I had not, and I met with the fate almost
inevitable.

"Among the boarders at the hotel, where we stopped at Saratoga, was an
Englishman, who claimed, and I believe rightly, to be one of the
nobility, for he wrote his name, Sir Charles R----, and had a well-known
coat of arms upon his seal, which he used publicly. Of course, I was
flattered, proud, vain of the attentions of an English nobleman, young,
handsome, full of money, and ardent in his professions of love, which I
have no reason to think of otherwise than as sincere; I was seventeen,
tall, straight, handsome form, face, and figure, and always dressed with
taste. My eyes were black; cheeks, rosy; and hair like the wing of a
crow. I was well bred, and well read, and could talk and sing to
captivate. So could he, and we were both equally affected. When we left
the Springs, he came with us to New York, and put up at the same hotel.
Then I was innocent. Oh, mothers! mothers! how long can you answer for
the innocence of your daughters who go to fashionable eating and
drinking saloons, and leave them after midnight, with their young blood
on fire, and in such a state of mind that they hardly know whether they
go home to rest in their own room, or in some of the thousand traps for
the unwary, in almost every street in the city?

    "Oh, mothers, mothers, every one,
      With daughters free from sin,
    How can you look so coldly on
      The ways from virtue daughters win?

"Late suppers and wines, and constantly seeing others, who should set
the young better examples, going the road that ruins virtue, had its
effect. If I had been properly restrained by my mother, had been kept at
home nights, and never learned to sip fashionable intoxicating drinks,
my mother would not have mourned 'a girl lost.'

"A few months after my first acquaintance with Sir Charles, I was living
with him in a richly furnished house, in Eighteenth street, shamelessly
passing as his wife, and treated as such by our acquaintance, although
they knew that I was not. It was here that Katy was born, and received
her first impressions of home and a fond father's love. Here I lived
away my young womanhood in fashionable dissipation, and then Sir Charles
died suddenly, and without a will. He had always said, he would make a
will, and give his vast property to me and our child. But he put it off,
as many others do, one day too long. Why do men defer this duty? A
sacred duty to those they leave behind them, of their own flesh and
blood. I knew, as his wife, I had rights; and I went to England to try
and obtain them. I left my elegantly furnished house, which cost, I
don't know how many thousand dollars to furnish, for my mother and my
sister, and an uncle to occupy while I was gone. I found all the
property in the hands of Sir Charles's brother, and he was unwilling to
give up the share that rightfully belonged to his wife and child,
because he said, we could not recover it by law. He did not say why, my
conscience did. As a compromise, if I would give him a general release,
he offered five thousand pounds. I would have taken it, but I had
employed a lawyer, and he hooted at the idea; he looked for more than
that for his fee when he recovered the full amount. I told him that I
had no marriage certificate, and that the minister who married us was
dead. So he was; Sir Charles was dead. I did not tell him that no other
ever blessed our banns. I told him, that numerous persons would swear
that they had heard him call me wife, and Katy his child. He said, that
would do. I did not know that our opponents could produce as many more
to swear, that they had heard Sir Charles say, that it was only a
marriage of convenience. So, for an uncertainty of five hundred thousand
as a mere prospect, I refused the certainty of five thousand, and went
to law. The evidence stood so balanced that the judge could not decide.
'Let the wife be sworn. Let her say, upon her oath, that she was married
to Sir Charles, and the case will be given in her favor.'

"There was a chuckling laugh just behind me, the tones of which went to
my heart, and I fainted. It was De Vrai. He had known me in this city,
and persecuted me with his importunities while Sir Charles was living. I
had turned him off with a promise, all too common, 'when Sir Charles is
dead.' Then he renewed his importunities, and I told him, to wait a
respectful time. He followed me to England, and still pressed me, and I
still put him off. He had hinted several times that if I recovered the
suit, he well knew that he should lose his. It was him that furnished my
opponent with a clue to the proof that we were never married. It was him
that laughed in my ear when the case rested upon the question, whether I
would swear that I was married or not. For a moment, for the sake of my
child, I was tempted; that laugh recalled me partially, and I was
carried away in a litter, and the case adjourned. For aught I know it
still remains adjourned.

"De Vrai followed me to my hotel. I was in a state bordering upon
distraction. With a foolish pride, to keep up appearances, as the wife
of Sir Charles, I had exhausted all my means, and run awfully in debt. I
had written to my uncle, in New York, to sell my furniture at auction,
and send me the money. After a long delay I got five hundred dollars,
and a very short letter, saying, that was all the nett proceeds. I felt,
I cannot tell how. I knew I was cheated, and wrote a bitter letter back.
Then, my own friends, those who had fawned around the rich mistress of
Sir Charles, cast off the poor woman struggling to recover something for
his child. In this she failed, because that child was not born in
wedlock.

"I was now poor indeed. What could I do, alone in a strange land? I knew
that De Vrai had no affection for me, only such as one animal has for
another, but in my despair I married him.

"His means of living were derived from the same source that hundreds of
well-dressed gentlemen derive theirs from, in this city. He was a
gambler; a genteel gambler. Such as you may find in every hotel in New
York, in every public place, dressed in the very best style, living in
the most expensive manner, with no trade, occupation, or exercise of
mind or skill, except the skill of cheating at card playing.

"At first, we lived pleasantly; but pleasures with such men are
short-lived, and must be often changed. If successful in business--that
is what they call their nefarious employment--they are all smiles and
affection to wife and children; but if 'luck is against them,' they are
the most unhappy men in the world, and make everybody else unhappy
around them. As for enduring conjugal affection, I believe the
excitement of a gambler's life renders them incapable of feeling its
influence. I can scarcely tell how the months passed which I lived with
that man, for I drank wine to excess every day. Not to become
intoxicated; only just fashionably excited. We lived in the best style
of hotel life, often at the expense of the proprietors.

"A little before Sis was born, De Vrai met with 'a run of luck,' and we
took a cottage out of town, and lived very comfortably for a year, upon
the proceeds of that 'windfall.'

"What that run of luck was, may be guessed at from the following extract
from a morning paper:--

     "SUICIDE.--An American gentleman was found dead in his bed, at
     his lodgings, this morning, and it is supposed he died from
     poison, administered by himself, in consequence of immense
     losses at the gaming table, not only of his own money, but a
     sum which he had received in trust for a widow and orphans, in
     America. It is said, that he owes his losses to the wretched
     practice of drinking to intoxication, and that he was fairly
     robbed while in this condition, by a companion of his, one who
     made great pretence of friendship. He leaves a beautiful young
     wife, 'quite destitute,' 'tis said."

"I did not know then that this companion of his was my husband. I found
that out afterwards, and that he was more than robbed.

"Soon after that event, De Vrai brought the widow of his victim to live
in our house. I was the wife--she the mistress. I was blind at first,
but I soon had my eyes opened. Opened not only to that fact, but that
that wife had stood behind her husband's chair while he played with the
villain who robbed him, and gave the signal of what cards he held; and
afterwards, when he became sober enough to realize his ruin, she
proposed that they should take poison, and die together.

"The result need not be told, only that he died and she lived.

"When I made these discoveries from an overheard conversation, I ordered
the vile woman from my house.

"'My house, my house, ha, ha, you poor simpleton. Every article in this
house and every cent of money that you or your husband has on earth
belongs to me, and these are the papers.

"'Now if you behave yourself you can stay here, if not, you will have to
tramp, both of you.'

"She shook the papers in my face, and laughed at my look of fear and
astonishment. To finish my agony, when I began to talk something about
the rights of an English wife, she coolly told me that she had just as
good a right to my husband as I had, for he had one wife when I married
him, and that rendered my marriage a nullity. What a shock for a
wife--to hear that she is no wife, or if she is, the wife of a robber,
adulterer, and murderer.

"I heard all this with a sort of indifference foreign to my very nature.
It was well that I did, for it enabled me to perfect my plans, and carry
them out with a degree of coolness worthy of a better purpose. I had
been promising for some time to visit a friend for a week, and I set
about packing up for the journey at once. I said not one word to De Vrai
of what I heard, nor gave him one look of reproof. Fortune had made me
acquainted with the secret hiding-place of the money this guilty pair
had obtained from their poor victim, and I did not feel any compunctions
of conscience in taking it from them. In three days afterwards I was in
Paris. Here I lived a few months a wretched life of dissipation, and
then De Vrai, tracked me to my hiding-place and I had to fly once more;
this time across the ocean.

"I had five hundred dollars when I arrived in this city. What might I
not have done with that sum, if I had used it prudently? What I did do,
I must tell, that it may be a warning to others. It would be a source of
consolation to me if I knew that the follies of my life could be
illuminated and set up as a beacon light to my fellow creatures, to save
them from the quicksands of dissipation upon which I have been
wrecked--wrecked by my own folly and foolish pride.

"It was pride, foolish wicked pride, that led me to go to a fashionable
hotel, and put up, with my two children and nurse, as Madame De Vrai,
from Paris. How soon five hundred dollars melt away, even with prudent
living, at a New York hotel. I did not live prudently. I drank to
excess, gave late suppers, and gambled. This could not last long, though
many hundreds of the dollars worse than wasted in those few weeks, were
won from others equally guilty of this besetting wickedness and folly
with myself. Such a life could not last. My first step down was to a
cheap lodging in Crosby street. I cannot tell how I lived there. I only
know that my valuables, my clothes, everything went to the pawnbroker,
and I went to that wretched hole where you first saw me in Cow Bay, from
whence I drove my poor little Katy out in the streets at midnight, to
sell Hot Corn. It was there that my poor child died. It was there that
you received her dying blessing, and I her dying forgiveness for all the
wrongs that I had heaped upon her poor innocent head. It was then by her
death that I was awakened to consciousness and I felt and saw my own
deep soul and body destroying degradation. It was through her death and
translation to a home in heaven, that I have obtained a hope that my
Father may forgive what my child has forgiven, and that, I may yet see
her again. It was Him, it must have been Him that opened your ear to
that little plaintive cry of 'Hot Corn,' that rose up through your
window on its way to the home of angels watching over a child whom her
mother had forsaken.

"It was His power--no earthly power could have aroused my mind from its
lethargy, that awakened me one moment before it was too late. It was a
bitter trial, but nothing else but the death of that sweet child would
have been sufficient to save her wicked mother; I cannot mourn her loss,
because I feel that she is now so much better off than while singing her
nightly cry through the streets, of 'Hot Corn, Hot Corn, here's your
nice hot corn!' Speaking of singing, have you seen the new song, just
published, called 'The Dying Words of Little Katy, or Will He Come?"

"Oh it is beautiful. Here it is, do read it:--

    "Here's hot corn, nice hot corn!" a voice was crying!
    Sweet hot corn, sweet hot corn! the breeze is sighing!
    Come buy, come buy--the world's unfeeling--
    How can she sell while sleep is stealing?
              "Hot corn, come buy my nice hot corn!"

    All alone, all alone, she sat there weeping;
    While at home, while at home, her sister's sleeping,
    "Come buy, come buy, I'm tired of staying;
    Come buy, come buy, I'm tired of saying,
              Hot corn, come buy my nice hot corn!"

    Often there, often there, she sat so drear'ly
    With one thought, for she loved her sister dearly:
    Did'st hate, did'st hate--how could she ever,
    How could she hate her mother?--never.
             "Hot corn, come buy my nice hot corn!"

    Often there, often there, while others playing,
    Hear the cry, "buy my corn," she's ever praying.
    "Pray buy, pray buy, kind hearted stranger,
    One ear, then home, I'll brave the danger;
              Hot corn, come buy my nice hot corn!"

    Now at home, now at home, her cry is changing!
    "Will he come, will he come?" while fever's raging.
    She cries, she cries, "pray let me see him;
    Once more, once more, pray let me see him.
              Hot corn, he'll buy my nice hot corn!"

    "Will he come, will he come?" she's constant crying,
    "Will he come, will he come?" poor Katy's dying.
    "'Twas he, 'twas he, kind words was speaking
    Hot corn, hot corn, while I was seeking
              Hot corn, who'll buy my nice hot corn?"

    "Midnight there, midnight there, my hot corn crying,
    Kindly spoke, first kind words, they stop'd my sighing.
    That night, that night, when sleep was stealing,
    Kind words, kind words--my heart was healing;
              Hot corn, he'll buy my nice hot corn!"

    "Will he come, will he come?"--weak hands are feeling!
    "He has come, he has come--I see him kneeling--
    One kiss--the light--how dim 'tis growing--
    I thank--'tis dark--good bye--I'm going--
              Hot corn--no more shall cry--hot corn!!!"

    Drop a tear, drop a tear, for she's departed,
    Drop a tear, drop a tear, poor broken hearted,
    Now pledge, now pledge, the world is crying,
    Take warning, warning, by Katy's dying,
              "Hot corn, who'll buy my nice hot corn?"

"The music of this, as it is arranged for the piano, is one of the
sweetest, plaintive things you ever heard."

"And besides that, there are a good many other songs and tales, so Agnes
tells me, already written, which never would have been if my poor child
had not been called away from her home of misery here on earth to one
made for the innocent and good beyond the grave. Who knows how much good
all those songs and stories may do in the world, to save others from the
road which I took to destruction!"

"Oh, if the wretched, awful misery occasioned by rum, which I alone have
seen, could be pictured to the world, it does seem to me that no sane
man or woman could ever look upon the picture and live, without becoming
so affected that they would foreswear all intoxicating beverages for
ever afterwards."

"Oh, sir, I know that I am now on my death bed, and I feel as though I
was talking from the spirit world, and I do pray you to tell my fellow
creatures, one and all--tell my own sex who are just beginning this life
of temptation, degradation, sin, shame, woe, and death, what it brought
me to, what it will bring all to, sooner or later, who, indulge as I
did, first in wine, and, finally, in anything, everything that could
sink reason into forgetfulness."

Reader, have I obeyed that dying injunction?



CHAPTER XVIII.

JULIA ANTRIM, AND OTHER OLD ACQUAINTANCES.

    "Should old acquaintance be forgot?"

    "There is a lost sheep returned to the fold."


If those who would reform the vicious, knew the power of love and kind
words towards the poor fallen creatures who abound in our city, and how
much stronger they are than prison bars, how much more powerful than
handcuffs, fetters and whip lashes, we should soon see the spirit of
reformation hovering over us like the guardian angel sent to save a city
that should be found to contain only five righteous persons.

My readers may remember the slight glimpse they had of the face of Julia
Antrim, on two occasions--once as a street walker, only thirteen years
old, dressed in borrowed clothes, or rather in garments furnished by one
of the beldams who keep the keys of our numerous city pandemoniums,
where innocence is entrapped, and virtue sold at a discount; and again a
year or two later, when the fiend who said "our trade," laughed to see
her dragged out of one of the underground dens where demons dwell, where
rum is sold and souls destroyed, on her way to prison, and the
termination of a career, to which one half, at least, arrive at, who
take the first step--false step--in the same road.

In the morning she was "sent up:" a short phrase which means
imprisonment for six months in the city penitentiary. Penitentiary!!
What is a penitentiary? A place of repentance and reformation.

Ours is a place to harden young offenders, or rum-made criminals--to
make them worse rather than better. It made Julia Antrim worse. It was
the work of the missionary, and the benevolent heart of Mr. Lovetree,
and the kind words of Mrs. May and Stella, that effected what dungeons,
fetters whips, and harsh language could not.

"Oh!" said Mrs. Morgan to me one evening, "such a story as my uncle has
been telling me; do tell him, uncle, about one of those 'Five Point
girls,' rescued from one of those miserable dens."

"You remember the girl," said he, "that you saw dragged out of the
cellar for picking her paramour's pocket? Come with me and you shall see
her and hear her own story. Athalia, come put on your hat and go with
us. You know how glad Mrs. May and Stella always are to see you."

They were so this evening. Stella was in the front shop busy with her
pins and needles, threads and tapes, and all the numerous little
articles of necessity which go to make up an assortment, for which she
had a demand that not only kept her busy, but also a fine bright active
little boy. He is on the road to wealth and manhood now. He was on the
road to ruin once. He was the son of a drunken father, who taught him to
"prig" and sell the stolen articles for rum. The reader has seen him
before. Would you like to know where? Turn back to page 30--look at
that picture of the fireman rescuing two children from the flames. This
bright boy is the child of drunken Bill Eaton. How Stella's eyes did
sparkle as she saw us enter; far more than they would to see her best
customer, for now she saw her best friend, her kind patron, who gave her
the means to gain good customers.

"Oh, mother, mother, here is Mr. Lovetree and Mrs. Morgan, and that
other gentleman!"

Then Mrs. May's eyes sparkled, for "she was so glad to see us"--she was
always glad to see us. She was very busy in the little back shop,
working away, and she had two very neat-looking industrious girls at
work with her. We have seen both of them before. One of them for the
first time on the steps of the Bank of the Republic, clothed in a poor
dirty ragged dress, with that same little boy, sickly and pale, leaning
upon his sister for support, and keeping her company as the two wandered
through the streets, making midnight melodious with that ever pealing
summer cry, of, "Hot corn, hot corn, here's your nice hot corn, smoking
hot, smoking hot, just from the pot, all hot, hot, hot!"

She will sing, it no more. She is in a better situation now for a little
girl than midnight street rambling; that is not the best school for
young girls--we have seen how near the brink of ruin it led Sally Eaton.

She was rescued just in time--just before she was lost. Two great
calamities fell upon her in one night. Her father was killed, and her
mother's house was burned, leaving the poor widow and her two children
in the street, naked, except one garment, amid the crowd that came to
look upon what she then thought the wreck of all hope. It proved her
greatest blessing; for in that crowd were those who took her in, and
clothed and fed, and sent her children to school, and taught her girl
how to work; and, finally, placed her as a help to another widow, where
she will soon learn and earn enough to help herself. The other girl, who
is now working with her old companion, was once her street associate in
rags and wretchedness; afterwards, her envied, because better clothed,
acquaintance. We saw her too, upon the same evening that we
first saw the little Hot Corn girl driven away from her hard seat
upon those cold stone steps--less cold than the heart of the
great world towards its outcast population. We saw her again, just
where we then knew that her course of life would lead her--to
intoxication,--wretchedness--crime--prisons, and--no, she stopped just
short of death, and returned to virtue, industry, and happiness.

After the heartfelt, happiness-giving congratulations of Mrs. May,
Stella, Sally Eaton, and "Brother Willie," were over, I turned to a
nice, modest-looking young girl and said, "and who is this? What is your
name?"

"Julia Antrim, sir."

Did I dream? No, I did not dream, I looked upon sober reality. It was
the poor outcast, whom I had seen dragged away from the underground
abode of all that is bad, to "the Tombs," and from whence she went to
"the Island," and as I heard, from there, at the expiration of her
noviciate, to one of the lowest, most degraded, worse than beastly,
abodes of those who have only the form of humanity remaining. So I told
her I had heard, and she replied,

"True--where else could I go? I could go nowhere but there. I came out
of prison with only the clothes they gave me there, with my hair
cropped--branded, to tell all the world to beware of me--that I was a
'prison bird.' If I desired, and I really did, to return to a virtuous
life, the door was for ever closed against me. I went back to Mrs.
Brown's, the woman who had first tempted me, with fine clothes and
jewelry, to sin--to that house where I lost all that a poor girl has on
earth--her virtue--where I had sinned and profited, as the term is, by
sinning; where I had left piles of rich clothing, and pretended friends.
I knocked at the door, once so ready to open for my first admission, and
that too was closed in my face with an oath, a horrid, wicked woman's
oath, bidding me to go away or she would send a policeman--I knew the
policeman would do her bidding--to take me away as a common street
vagrant, coming there to disgrace a 'respectable house.' I went away,
dispirited, broken-hearted, and sunk down into that wretched abode in
Anthony street, where I was found by Mr. Pease, and actually compelled,
much against my will, to go to the Five Points House of Industry, where
I was washed, and clothed, and fed, and sobered, furnished with work,
and, above all else, taught to love God and pray, and, for the first
time in more than two years, to feel one moment of happiness.

"When I was with those wretches in that miserable hole where Mr. Pease
found me, I really thought that my heart had got so bad, that it could
not, would not, ever be good again.

"How I did use to curse and hate everybody that was good. That good man
who saved me at last, I hated worse than all others. All who are like
what I was then, hate him and fear him more then they do all the prisons
and police in the city. If somebody would publish the truth, or only
half the truth, of what I alone know of the crime and misery about the
Five Points of New York, and how much good all the good men have done
who have devoted themselves to the reformation of those wretched human
beings, I do think that everybody with a good heart would buy the book,
and thus contribute a mite to aid the good work--a work that saves from
a life worse than death, scores of children and young girls, lost to
every virtuous thought or action; lost to all hope in life or eternity.

"Oh, sir," and she seized me by the hands in her energy, "you can
write--Stella has told me how you can write--that you have written some
powerful stories; pray write more, more, more; the world will read, and
it will do a world of good."

"Well, Julia, if I write, I must have characters and names, to fill up
the incidents of my Life Scenes, shall I use yours?"

"Yes, yes, if it will do good, and save others."

"And mine." "And mine." "And mine." "I think," said Mrs. May, "that the
incidents connected with Athalia's life, would alone make quite a
volume; would you have any objection to having them written out and
published, Mrs. Morgan?"

"Perhaps I might consent, if it was well done, if it would serve as a
beacon to save others from being shipwrecked upon the same desolate
shore where I came so near being totally lost; only escaping by the
smallest chance, and by one of the most singular interpositions of
Providence, and through the efforts of one of the weakest instruments.
It is to Stella, first of all that I owe my present happiness. It was
through her that all my friends became interested for me. In fact, if it
had not been for her, my dear uncle would never have known where to find
me."

"Rather give the credit to a higher power; that power which gave him the
kind benevolent heart that beats in his breast; that disposition to
watch over the young and guard the innocent, which led him to take an
interest in my poor child. Let us be grateful to all the humble
instruments of Him who giveth every good and perfect gift to man, but to
Him to whom we owe all of our present happiness, be the final praise."

Now there was a little space of silence; a time for reflection; all were
too full of thought, holy, happy thought, to speak. It is good to think.
The world is generally too much given to act without thinking. Mr.
Lovetree was not. He thought that we had agreed to visit Mrs. De Vrai,
on our way home, "but before I go," said he, "I want to invite you all
to dine with us next Sabbath. I want to see our little party of friends
all together, for a certain purpose."

"Uncle always has a little surprise to play off upon his friends. I am
afraid this is not a pleasant one, or else he would not have chosen
Sunday."

"I chose that," said he, "because I know how difficult it is for the
laboring poor to give a day from their working time, for any kind of
recreation. I assure you that this will be a pleasant surprise, though
not an inappropriate one for the day, for I intend to have a minister
with us to ask a blessing upon our food."

"Oh," said Stella, "I can guess it."

Young girls are always ready to guess as she did. She guessed it was to
be a wedding. She guessed that Mrs. Morgan was going to be married. Then
the others guessed so too. Mrs. Morgan guessed not. She was sure she
could not get married without somebody to have her. Of course not. But
Stella thought that "somebody" would not be very hard to find. She knew
a gentleman that liked her well enough to marry her.

At any rate, that the party was to be a wedding one was pretty well
settled. Whether the bride will be Athalia or not we shall see. So then,
after lots of "good night" and "do come again soon," we parted, and went
on our way to visit the sick and dying victim of fashionable
dissipation, which led her through a rapid career of a few happy months,
and then through years of woe, from wine at dinner, to "cobblers" at
late suppers, and bitters in the morning; till an appetite was acquired
which could only be satisfied by constant libations of anything that
would intoxicate, procured by any means, however debasing, till she
ceased to be a lady; almost ceased to be a woman; quite forgot that she
was a mother; else how could she have driven that poor little innocent
child out upon the streets, murky and damp, with her cry of "Hot Corn,
hot corn, all smoking hot!" while the poor child was chilly, cold, and
starving?

Poor girl--poor little Katy! Thy mother loves thee now. Look down from
thy blest abode--it is thy mother calls, it is thy voice she hears, and
she answers, "Yes, yes I will come."

"She is better, sir," said Phebe, as we entered the door. "She has been
sitting up a good deal, and she talks of going over to your house
to-morrow, Mrs. Morgan; she says she must go out, and take the air, or
she never will get well."

This was pleasant news, and it quite elated Mrs. Morgan. Mr. Lovetree
gave one of his peculiar expressions of countenance as soon as he saw
her, which told as plain as though he had spoken it, that she never
would go out again but once, that would be a ride which all must, none
are willing, to take.

We were all very much delighted to find Mrs. Meltrand and Agnes, with
Mrs. De Vrai. Mrs. Meltrand, ever since she had first seen her, had
fallen in love with little Sissee, the sweet little Adaleta, and this
evening Mrs. De Vrai, had made her a final promise, that if she should
not get well, Mrs. Meltrand should have her for her own; and she had
promised to adopt her and make her as much her child as though she was
really so.

"But what is the use of talking? I don't feel any more like dying than
you do. I am almost well. My cough has quite gone."

But a bright crimson spot upon each cheek had not gone, and that told
its own tale. Adaleta was delighted with sister Agnes. She could hardly
bear to part with her. She will not, but her mother must. How little any
one would have thought, as we parted that evening, leaving the invalid
so cheerful and full of hope, that we had parted for the last time. No!
not the last time--may we hope for one more meeting? Let us now retire
to our chambers and prepare for that meeting. Let us say to the reader,
as we said to the poor sufferer, "Good night. God be with you!"



CHAPTER THE LAST.

     All things must have an end.

     Where there is true friendship, there needs no gloss to our
     deeds, no hollow welcome to real friends.


"By and by" is easy said; it means an uncertain time, but it comes at
last. It came to Mrs. De Vrai, only a few hours after our last parting.
Phebe came with the early morning to say, "She is gone, sir; gone to
meet her poor child in the hope of the penitent. After you went away,
she lay and talked and talked about you, all of you, and Mrs. Meltrand
and Agnes, and how happy she should be if she was a going to die, to
think that her child would have such a good mother and sister, and so
many real friends; and how different it would be with herself now, here
and hereafter, as well as her child, than it would have been if she had
died in her former residence of wretchedness, sin, and woe. Then I asked
her if she would take her medicine and go to sleep, and she said; 'by
and by, not now; I feel so well, so happy, I can almost fancy that I see
my poor little Katy in heaven among the angels. I often see her here in
the room when I am laying with my eyes closed, but not asleep; and I
often think I hear her dying words, "Will he Come!" and I say "yes, he
has come; the Saviour has come, my child, to your mother." Then she
says, "then come, mother, come and live with us;" and I answer, "by and
by." By and by, Phebe I shall go, but not yet, I am going to get well
now.'

"So I went and lay down in the back room, and I heard nothing of her,
though I got up and looked at her a good many times, but she seemed to
be sleeping so sweet, I thought I would not wake her to take her
medicine--the doctor said I need not. In the morning I got up, and
looked in the room, and there was Sissee sitting up in the bed, trying
to open her mother's eyes; then she would put her arms around her neck
and kiss her, but there was no kiss in return. Then she sat back and
looked at her a minute, and then called--'Phebe, Phebe, mamma does not
speak, oh Phebe, is mamma dead!"

Yes mamma was dead. She had died as calm and free from pain and full of
joy as when she said "good night" to her friends. She had died full of
anticipation that she was going to live to get well; that she would not
join the spirit of Little Katy now, but by and by: by and by she would
come.

    Drop a tear, drop a tear, for she's departed!
    Wreath a smile, for she died not broken-hearted.

This was on Friday morning. On the Sunday following, the intended party
met at Mrs. Morgan's and partook of an early dinner. "For," said Mr.
Lovetree, "we have a good deal to do this afternoon. In the first place,
some of our friends are disposed to be united in the holy, the blessed
bonds, that bind the sexes together in a union that should be
indissoluble, and productive of nothing but happiness. After that we
have a duty to perform, which though it is generally termed melancholy,
must not be made so on the present occasion. We shall go to deposit the
body in Greenwood, that lovely place of rest for the dead, of one who we
have every reason to believe died a true penitent, and is now with the
spirit of Little Katy, where those who are murdered by the same cause
that produced her death, will seldom ever be found. Our good missionary
is with us, and we will have the wedding ceremony before the funeral
one, because many go from that to the grave, none come from there to the
marriage feast."

Now all began to look around for the happy couple. Mrs. Morgan was
dressed as though she might be a bride, but where was the groom? Mr.
Lovetree whispered to Mrs. Meltrand, for she was there with Agnes and
little Sis, and Mrs. Meltrand said that Frank would be there by the
time.

"Now what Frank is that?" said Stella in a whisper to Mrs. May; "it must
be Frank Barkley; and so it is Mrs. Morgan that is going to be married.
Oh, dear, I am sorry, I was in hopes she would always live with her old
uncle, as she does now."

It _was_ Frank Barkley who was expected. He was an old acquaintance of
Mrs. Meltrand, a little wild in his youth, and came within an inch of
the precipice over which so many young men tumble. Mr. Lovetree had
said, "there is something good in the fellow," and between him and Mrs.
Meltrand, it was developed. He is a good fellow--a sober fellow now--and
he is going to be married. Now the door bell rings.

"There that is him."

Yes, it was him. He was told that all were waiting for him, and he said
"he had come to the minute agreed upon." Poor Stella shed tears. She
cried to think her dear friend, Mrs. Morgan, was about to be married.
She cried without a cause.

Mr. Lovetree said to Frank, "allow me to introduce you to my niece, Mrs.
Morgan."

He started back from her, rubbed his eyes, and looked again. Stella
rubbed hers. She was convinced now that they were not to be married.
Poor Frank looked confused and in doubt. He approached near enough to
Mrs. Morgan to whisper, "Lucy," to which she replied, "Yes," and he
said, "God bless you then," and turned away to meet his bride.

This was Agnes. And he took her by the hand, and led her up to the
minister who was to pronounce them man and wife, and said--"Now, sir, we
are ready." Then a couple, who were to act as bridesmaid and
bridegroom's attendant, took their stations upon the floor. It was the
opinion of all present that they would act as principals in a similar
scene by and by.

Perhaps the reader would like to know who this neatly-dressed, bright
couple are, for he has seen them several times before. It is one of Mr.
Lovetree's oddities that you see them now. You have seen them when they
would not be very fitting guests in a parlor, but they wear
wedding-garments now. This is Tom, who held the cup of cold water to
the lips of the dying Madalina, and this is his reward. The neat, lovely
girl at his side is Wild Maggie--Miss Margaret Reagan. The
fine-looking hearty man that is leading up a well-dressed woman to the
altar--another couple to be married--is one of the former customers of
Cale Jones's grocery. It is Maggie's father. His bride is Mrs. Eaton. We
have seen her and her two children in some of the early scenes of this
volume. We saw them in the street then--we see them in the parlor now.
We see them much better, much happier this time, and we see them just as
we might see all the laboring class, if we could abolish the traffic in
rum from the world. There are two other couples here to bear testimony
to that fact. It was the particular request of Reagan and Maggie that
they should be present to witness and rejoice over the power of the
pledge to save. We have seen both these couples stand up to be married
before the same minister who is now saying the solemn words of the
marriage ceremony to those before him. You may see them as they were
when you first saw them, if you will turn back to the plate facing the
"Two Penny Marriage."

Julia Antrim and Willie Reagan act as attendants upon this last couple,
and Sally Reagan and Stella May, dressed in pure white--dresses of their
own make--with wreaths of flowers in their hair, made by their own
hands--served the company with cakes and fruits and tea and coffee. Then
the carriages came to the door, and all went--not to a tavern, or
drinking saloon for a riot, to commemorate the most serious event of
life, but in all soberness due to the occasion, to consign the remains
of poor Madame De Vrai to her final resting-place on the earth.

It is a pleasant drive to Greenwood Cemetery, and it is a pleasant place
for the tombs of our friends. It is a good place to go to meditate,
among the new-made graves in the fresh-turned earth, and among the proud
monuments of those who have lain long enough beneath their marble
coverings to be forgotten. I did not forget to look, as I passed along,
at the rose bush which I saw planted by a widow at the grave of her
rum-murdered husband. It was growing fresh and vigorously.

Now we stand around the open grave that is soon to be filled by another
victim of a trade that feeds scores and starves millions--that saves one
life and causes a thousand deaths--that consigns youth, innocence and
beauty, equally with old age, to a premature grave. Now we lower this
last victim--still young, beautiful, intelligent, full of sweetness of
disposition and kindness of heart--into her grave. Now we look at the
little cherub, the darling, sweet, much loved Adaleta, her orphan child,
and now at her sister's grave, then at the weeping circle, who stand and
sob as the falling clods bring forth that hollow sound, never heard in
any other place. Now the voice of him who says: "'Tis the last of
earth," "Let us pray," breaks the charmed circle of intense silence.

Why is every eye upturned at the close? Did each listening ear fancy it
heard the sound of an angel's voice in the air, breathing the
words,--"Will he Come?" "Will he Come?"

And did they expect to see the face of Little Katy in the clouds,
looking down upon those she loved, paying this tribute to her mother,
now sleeping by her side in the grave; now with her child in the spirit
land of the blest?

    Now the tall corn is waving o'er the mountain and glen,
    And the sickle is reaping both the corn and the men;
    And the child that was sleeping where the lamps dimly shone,
    Like the corn, now is with'ring, in the vale all alone.
    "Hot corn!" she was crying, in the night, all alone,
    "Hot corn! here's your nice hot corn!" in the grave all alone.

    Where the chill rain was falling, sat the poor child asleep;
    Where the lights nightly burning, city vigils help keep--
    Where the ague was creeping through the blood and the bone
    Of the child that was sleeping on the curb-stone alone.
    "Hot corn!" she was crying, in the night all alone,
    "Hot corn! here's your nice hot corn!" in the grave all alone.

    In a dark room lonely, lay the child all awake,
    With a voice wildly crying, "Will he come, for my sake?"
    Then a good man was praying, while to her dimly shone,
    Poor fading light--ceases burning--and with God she's alone.
    "Hot corn!" she was crying, in the night all alone,
    "Hot corn! here's your nice hot corn!" in the grave all alone.

    In the dark grave sleeping, while poor Katy's at rest,
    While the wild storm raging, ever sweeps o'er her breast--
    While the mourners are weeping for the dead passed away,
    Let us pledge by the living that the cause we will stay.
    "Hot corn!" she was crying, in the night all alone,
    "Hot corn! here's your nice hot corn," in the grave all alone.



A VOICE FROM KATY'S GRAVE.


Among the many poetical effusions which have been elicited by reading
the story of "Little Katy," I think the following, which appeared in the
New York Tribune, will be read with pleasure. It is from the pen of Mrs.
B. F. Foster, of New York:--

    With dizzy whirl, on rushed the wheels
      Along the City's murky street,
    And music's light, inspiring peals
      Rang out from folly's gay retreat;
    And busy footsteps hurried past,
      And human voices, harsh and wild,
    Commingling, floated on the blast;
      When the shrill accents of a child
    Rose mid the din, in tones forlorn,
    And cried, "Come, buy hot corn, hot corn!"

    Like some sad spirit wafted by,
      A stranger to the ways of earth,
    Came up that little plaintive cry--
      Sweet discord to the sounds of mirth.
    Unheeded by the reckless crowd,
      There stood a girl, a pale, wan thing,
    And 'neath her bosom's tattered shroud
      There lurk'd an age of suffering;
    While e'en till night approached the morn,
    In feebler voice, she cried, "Hot Corn!"

    The gas lamp's glare fell on her face,
      But lighted not her languid eyes;
    And down her pallid cheeks, the trace
      Of tears, bespoke her miseries;
    With hunger gnawing at her heart,
      She shivered, as the night wind blew
    Her soiled and ragged clothes apart;
      Till all insensible she grew,
    And sinking in unblessed sleep,
    Forgot to cry, "Hot Corn," and weep.

    Alone, so young, how came she there?
      To sell hot corn so late at night;
    Had she no friends, no home, nowhere
      To rest, and hide her from the sight
    Of the rude world? No mother? Hush!
      That holy name is not the one
    For Katy's parent. Woman! blush
      For thy lost sister; blush to own
    That thou canst ever fall so low,
    To plunge thy children into woe.

    Within that mother's heart, the light
      Of love was quench'd, quench'd by the flood,
    The damning flood, whose waters blight
      All that is left of human good:
    And in her breast that demon reigned,
      Who "Give, give, give!" is ever crying;
    Demanding still to be maintained,
      While all within, around, is dying;
    Outpouring in its baneful breath,
    Destruction, sorrow, sin and death.

    The lips which should have kiss'd away
      Her daughter's tears, dealt curses forth;
    The hand which should have been her stay,
      Was but the minister of wrath;
    Blind to her wants, deaf to her prayers,
      Regardless of the driving storm,
    To open streets and midnight airs,
      She drove that little shrinking form,
    To earn a dram! In shame and scorn
    With famished lips to cry, "Hot corn!"

    "Hot corn, hot corn!"--night after night,
      More faint and feeble grew that voice--
    Still fiercely burned each glaring light,
      Still music bade the town rejoice;
    The ceaseless footsteps passed along,
      Up came the wild discordant tones,
    The voices of the thoughtless throng,--
      The bounding wheels rolled o'er the stones,--
    But midst the din, the rush, the roar,
    Poor Katy's cry is heard no more.

    In one of those dark, noisome cells,
      The wretched call their home, she lies
    All motionless; the icy spells
      Of death, have closed those weary eyes;
    She speaks not now. Alas! how dread!
      That calm reproachful silence, when
    Beside the wronged and injured dead,
      We kneel in vain! Low in that den
    Behold the stricken mother cower;
    Grown sober in one fearful hour.

    She calls her, "Katy, darling!"--peers
      Into that pale and sunken face,
    She bathes her senseless brow with tears,
      Sees on those bruised limbs, the trace
    Of her own cruelty;--again
      She calls, and prays for one last word,
    Of blest forgiveness;--all in vain,
      The answering voice no more is heard,
    The soulless clay alone is there,
    And fell remorse, and dark despair.

    Weep, wretched woman, weep! That face
      Shall haunt thee to thy dying day;
    Nor time from memory erase
      Thy child's deep wrongs; for they
    Shall scorch into thy guilty breast;
      In mad excitement thou shalt hear
    Her cries; and midst thy fitful rest,
      Shall that pale phantom form appear,
    And o'er thy drunken moping, stand
    To curse thee with an outstretched hand.

    Yet not alone with thee, abides
      That curse. Oh, Men, and Christians! can
    Ye robe yourself in god-like pride,
      And boast your land, the one where man
    Is most exalted; yet permit
      The Demon Drunkenness to roam
    Unfettered through your streets; to sit
      By ev'ry corner, ev'ry home--
    The weak and wretched to allure
    To drink, to suffer, and endure?

    In mercy, then, arrest the reign
      Of this dread fiend; and Oh! protect
    Man from his self-inflicted pain.
      Spare the young wife, whose hopes are wreck'd,
    Whose heart is crushed, whose home forsaken,
      Whose life's a desolated wild.
    To infant prayers and tears awaken,
      And from the mother save the child.
    Hark to that echo!--"Save, oh, save!"
    Pleads a sad voice from Katy's grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Pleads a sad voice from Katy's grave--
    Save, oh, save!"

Fathers! mothers! sons! daughters! husbands! wives! Christians!
philanthropists! All--brothers and sisters!--hear ye that voice? If ye
do not, then, indeed, are ye deaf. Then have I cried in vain. In vain I
have visited the abodes of wretchedness and sin, to draw materials for
my panorama of "Life Scenes in New York." In vain I have painted you
dark scenes of life, instead of those which shine out in the noonday
sun.

In vain have I endeavored to awaken your sympathies by relations of
tales of woe, or painted vice, as I have met with it in my midnight
rambles, to guard you from its snares, if I have failed to touch that
chord in your heart which brings a tear to the eye, for it is that which
will prompt you to action--to sleepless vigilance, to eradicate from the
world the great cause of such human misery as I have depicted. It is
that which, will prompt you to give, if nothing more,

    "Three grains of corn,
    Only three grains of corn, mother,"

towards the redemption of the fallen, and protection of those who need a
staff and a guide to hold them back from the precipice over which they
have gone down to ruin.

Reader, if you have not yet done it, do not close the book until you
have paid the tribute of a tear at the grave of

[Illustration: Little Katy]



Transcriber's Note:


Misspellings, archaic spellings, and multiple spellings retained as in
original.





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