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´╗┐Title: Home Lights and Shadows
Author: Arthur, T. S. (Timothy Shay), 1809-1885
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 "Home Lights and Shadows" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



HOME LIGHTS AND SHADOWS.


BY

T. S. ARTHUR,



AUTHOR OF "LIFE PICTURES," "OLD MAN'S BRIDE," AND "SPARING TO SPEND."



NEW YORK:

1853.



CONTENTS.


  RIGHTS AND WRONGS
  THE HUMBLED PHARISEE
  ROMANCE AND REALITY
  BOTH TO BLAME
  IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS
  THE MOTHER'S PROMISE
  THE TWO HUSBANDS
  VISITING AS NEIGHBORS
  NOT AT HOME
  THE FATAL ERROR
  FOLLOWING THE FASHIONS
  A DOLLAR ON THE CONSCIENCE
  AUNT MARY'S SUGGESTION
  HELPING THE POOR
  COMMON PEOPLE
  MAKING A SENSATION
  SOMETHING FOR A COLD
  THE PORTRAIT
  VERY POOR



PREFACE.


HOME! How at the word, a crowd of pleasant thoughts awaken. What
sun-bright images are pictured to the imagination. Yet, there is no
home without its shadows as well as sunshine. Love makes the
home-lights and selfishness the shadows. Ah! how dark the shadow at
times--how faint and fleeting the sunshine. How often selfishness
towers up to a giant height, barring out from our dwellings every
golden ray. There are few of us, who do not, at times, darken with
our presence the homes that should grow bright at our coming. It is
sad to acknowledge this; yet, in the very acknowledgement is a
promise of better things, for, it is rarely that we confess, without
a resolution to overcome the evil that mars our own and others'
happiness. Need we say, that the book now presented to the reader is
designed to aid in the work of overcoming what is evil and selfish,
that home-lights may dispel home-shadows, and keep them forever from
our dwellings.



RIGHTS AND WRONGS.


IT is a little singular--yet certainly true--that people who are
very tenacious of their own rights, and prompt in maintaining them,
usually have rather vague notions touching the rights of others.
Like the too eager merchant, in securing their own, they are very
apt to get a little more than belongs to them.

Mrs. Barbara Uhler presented a notable instance of this. We cannot
exactly class her with the "strong-minded" women of the day. But she
had quite a leaning in that direction; and if not very strong-minded
herself, was so unfortunate as to number among her intimate friends
two or three ladies who had a fair title to the distinction.

Mrs. Barbara Uhler was a wife and a mother. She was also a woman;
and her consciousness of this last named fact was never indistinct,
nor ever unmingled with a belligerent appreciation of the rights
appertaining to her sex and position.

As for Mr. Herman Uhler, he was looked upon, abroad, as a mild,
reasonable, good sort of a man. At home, however, he was held in a
very different estimation. The "wife of his bosom" regarded him as
an exacting domestic tyrant; and, in opposing his will, she only
fell back, as she conceived, upon the first and most sacred law of
her nature. As to "obeying" him, she had scouted that idea from the
beginning. The words, "honor and obey," in the marriage service, she
had always declared, would have to be omitted when she stood at the
altar. But as she had, in her maidenhood, a very strong liking for
the handsome young Mr. Uhler, and, as she could not obtain so
material a change in the church ritual, as the one needed to meet
her case, she wisely made a virtue of necessity, and went to the
altar with her lover. The difficulty was reconciled to her own
conscience by a mental reservation.

It is worthy of remark that above all other of the obligations here
solemnly entered into, this one, _not_ to honor and obey her
husband, ever after remained prominent in the mind of Mrs. Barbara
Uhler. And it was no fruitless sentiment, as Mr. Herman Uhler could
feelingly testify.

From the beginning it was clearly apparent to Mrs. Uhler that her
husband expected too much from her; that he regarded her as a kind
of upper servant in his household, and that he considered himself as
having a right to complain if things were not orderly and
comfortable. At first, she met his looks or words of displeasure,
when his meals, for instance, were late, or so badly cooked as to be
unhealthy and unpalatable, with--

"I'm sorry, dear; but I can't help it."

"Are you sure you can't help it, Barbara?" Mr. Uhler at length
ventured to ask, in as mild a tone of voice as his serious feelings
on the subject would enable him to assume.

Mrs. Uhler's face flushed instantly, and she answered, with dignity:

"I _am_ sure, Mr. Uhler."

It was the first time, in speaking to her husband, that she had said
"Mr. Uhler," in her life the first time she had ever looked at him
with so steady and defiant an aspect.

Now, we cannot say how most men would have acted under similar
circumstances; we can only record what Mr. Uhler said and did:

"And I am _not_ sure, Mrs. Uhler," was his prompt, impulsive reply,
drawing himself up, and looking somewhat sternly at his better half.

"You are not?" said Mrs. Uhler; and she compressed her lips tightly.

"I am not," was the emphatic response.

"And what do you expect me to do, pray?" came next from the lady's
lips.

"Do as I do in my business," answered the gentleman. "Have competent
assistance, or see that things are done right yourself."

"Go into the kitchen and cook the dinner, you mean, I suppose?"

"You can put my meaning into any form of words you please, Barbara.
You have charge of this household, and it is your place to see that
everything due to the health and comfort of its inmates is properly
cared for. If those to whom you delegate so important a part of
domestic economy as the preparation of food, are ignorant or
careless, surely it is your duty to go into the kitchen daily, and
see that it is properly done. I never trust wholly to any individual
in my employment. There is no department of the business to which I
do not give personal attention. Were I to do so my customers would
pay little regard to excuses about ignorant workmen and careless
clerks. They would soon seek their goods in another and better
conducted establishment."

"Perhaps you had better seek your dinners elsewhere, if they are so
little to your fancy at home."

This was the cool, defiant reply of the outraged Mrs. Uhler.

Alas, for Mr. Herman Uhler; he had, so far as his wife was
concerned, committed the unpardonable sin; and the consequences
visited upon his transgression were so overwhelming that he gave up
the struggle in despair. Contention with such an antagonist, he saw,
from the instinct of self-preservation, would be utterly disastrous.
While little was to be gained, everything was in danger of being
lost.

"I have nothing more to say," was his repeated answer to the running
fire which his wife kept up against him for a long time. "You are
mistress of the house; act your own pleasure. Thank you for the
suggestion about dinner. I may find it convenient to act thereon."

The last part of this sentence was extorted by the continued
irritating language of Mrs. Uhler. Its utterance rather cooled the
lady's indignant ardor, and checked the sharp words that were
rattling from her tongue. A truce to open warfare was tacitly agreed
upon between the parties. The antagonism was not, however, the less
real. Mrs. Uhler knew that her husband expected of her a degree of
personal attention to household matters that she considered
degrading to her condition as a wife; and, because he _expected_
this, she, in order to maintain the dignity of her position, gave
even less attention to these matters than would otherwise have been
the case. Of course, under such administration of domestic affairs,
causes for dissatisfaction on the part of Mr. Uhler, were ever in
existence. For the most part he bore up under them with commendable
patience; but, there were times when weak human nature faltered by
the way--when, from heart-fulness the mouth would speak. This was
but to add new fuel to the flame. This only gave to Mrs. Uhler a
ground of argument against her husband as an unreasonable,
oppressive tyrant; as one of the large class of men who not only
regard woman as inferior, but who, in all cases of weak submission,
hesitate not to put a foot upon her neck.

Some of the female associates, among whom Mrs. Uhler unfortunately
found herself thrown, were loud talkers about woman's rights and
man's tyranny; and to them, with a most unwife-like indelicacy of
speech, she did not hesitate to allude to her husband as one of the
class of men who would trample upon a woman if permitted to do so.
By these ladies she was urged to maintain her rights, to keep ever
in view the dignity and elevation of her sex, and to let man, the
tyrant, know, that a time was fast approaching when his haughty
pride would be humbled to the dust.

And so Mrs. Uhler, under this kind of stimulus to the maintainance
of her own rights against the imaginary aggressions of her husband,
trampled upon his rights in numberless ways.

As time wore on, no change for the better occurred. A woman does not
reason to just conclusions, either from facts or abstract principles
like man; but takes, for the most part, the directer road of
perception. If, therefore her womanly instincts are all right, her
conclusions will be true; but if they are wrong, false judgment is
inevitable. The instincts of Mrs. Uhler were wrong in the beginning,
and she was, in consequence, easily led by her associates, into
wrong estimates of both her own and her husband's position.

One day, on coming home to dinner, Mr. Uhler was told by a servant,
that his wife had gone to an anti-slavery meeting, and would not get
back till evening, as she intended dining with a friend. Mr. Uhler
made no remark on receiving this information. A meagre, badly-cooked
dinner was served, to which he seated himself, alone, not to eat,
but to chew the cud of bitter fancies. Business, with Mr. Uhler, had
not been very prosperous of late; and he had suffered much from a
feeling of discouragement. Yet, for all this, his wife's demands for
money, were promptly met--and she was not inclined to be over
careful as to the range of her expenditures.

There was a singular expression on the face of Mr. Uhler, as he left
his home on that day. Some new purpose had been formed in his mind,
or some good principle abandoned. He was a changed man--changed for
the worse, it may well be feared.

It was late in the afternoon when Mrs. Uhler returned. To have
inquired of the servant whether Mr. Uhler had made any remark, when
he found that she was absent at dinner time, she would have regarded
as a betrayal to that personage of a sense of accountability on her
part. No; she stooped not to any inquiry of this kind--compromised
not the independence of the individual.

The usual tea hour was at hand--but, strange to say, the punctual
Mr. Uhler did not make his appearance. For an hour the table stood
on the floor, awaiting his return, but he came not. Then Mrs. Uhler
gave her hungry, impatient little ones their suppers--singularly
enough, she had no appetite for food herself--and sent them to bed.

Never since her marriage had Mrs. Uhler spent so troubled an evening
as that one proved to be. A dozen times she rallied herself--a dozen
times she appealed to her independence and individuality as a woman,
against the o'er-shadowing concern about her husband, which came
gradually stealing upon her mind. And with this uncomfortable
feeling were some intruding and unwelcome thoughts, that in no way
stimulated her self-approval.

It was nearly eleven o'clock when Mr. Uhler came home; and then he
brought in his clothes such rank fumes of tobacco, and his breath
was so tainted with brandy, that his wife had no need of inquiry as
to where he had spent his evening. His countenance wore a look of
vacant unconcern.

"Ah! At home, are you?" said he, lightly, as he met his wife. "Did
you have a pleasant day of it?"

Mrs. Uhler was--frightened--shall we say? We must utter the word,
even though it meet the eyes of her "strong minded" friends, who
will be shocked to hear that one from whom they had hoped so much,
should be frightened by so insignificant a creature as a husband.
Yes, Mrs. Uhler was really frightened by this new aspect in which
her husband presented himself. She felt that she was in a dilemma,
to which, unhappily, there was not a single horn, much less choice
between two.

We believe Mrs. Uhler did not sleep very well during the night. Her
husband, however, slept "like a log." On the next morning, her brow
was overcast; but his countenance wore a careless aspect. He chatted
with the children at the breakfast table, goodnaturedly, but said
little to his wife, who had penetration enough to see that he was
hiding his real feelings under an assumed exterior.

"Are you going to be home to dinner to-day?" said Mr. Uhler,
carelessly, as he arose from the table. He had only sipped part of a
cup of bad coffee.

"Certainly I am," was the rather sharp reply. The question irritated
the lady.

"You needn't on my account," said Mr. Uhler. "I've engaged to dine
at the Astor with a friend."

"Oh, very well!" Mrs. Uhler bridled and looked dignified. Yet, her
flashing eyes showed that cutting words were ready to leap from her
tongue. And they would have come sharply on the air, had not the
manner of her husband been so unusual and really mysterious. In a
word, a vague fear kept her silent.

Mr. Uhler went to his store, but manifested little of his usual
interest and activity. Much that he had been in the habit of
attending to personally, he delegated to clerks. He dined at the
Astor, and spent most of the afternoon there, smoking, talking, and
drinking. At tea-time he came home. The eyes of Mrs. Uhler sought
his face anxiously as he came in. There was a veil of mystery upon
it, through which her eyes could not penetrate. Mr. Uhler remained
at home during the evening, but did not seem to be himself. On the
next morning, as he was about leaving the house, his wife said--

"Can you let me have some money to-day?"

Almost for the first time in her life, Mrs. Uhler asked this
question in a hesitating manner; and, for the first time, she saw
that her request was not favorably received.

"How much do you want?" inquired the husband.

"I should like to have a hundred dollars," said Mrs. Uhler.

"I'm sorry; but I can't let you have it," was answered. "I lost five
hundred dollars day before yesterday through the neglect of one of
my clerks, while I was riding out with some friends."

"Riding out!" exclaimed Mrs. Uhler.

"Yes. You can't expect me to be always tied down to business. I like
a little recreation and pleasant intercourse with friends as much as
any one. Well, you see, a country dealer, who owed me five hundred
dollars, was in the city, and promised to call and settle on the
afternoon of day before yesterday. I explained to one of my clerks
what he must do when the customer came in, and, of course, expected
all to be done right. Not so, however. The man, when he found that
he had my clerk, and not me, to deal with, objected to some
unimportant charge in his bill, and the foolish fellow, instead of
yielding the point, insisted that the account was correct. The
customer went away, and paid out all his money in settling a bill
with one of my neighbors. And so I got nothing. Most likely, I shall
lose the whole account, as he is a slippery chap, and will, in all
probability, see it to be his interest to make a failure between
this and next spring. I just wanted that money to-day. Now I shall
have to be running around half the morning to make up the sum I
need."

"But how could you go away under such circumstances, and trust all
to a clerk?" said Mrs. Uhler warmly, and with reproof in her voice.

"How could I!" was the quick response. "And do you suppose I am
going to tie myself down to the store like a slave! You are mistaken
if you do; that is all I have to say! I hire clerks to attend to my
business."

"But suppose they are incompetent? What then?" Mrs. Uhler was very
earnest.

"That doesn't in the least alter my character and position." Mr.
Uhler looked his wife fixedly in the face for some moments after
saying this, and then retired from the house without further remark.

The change in her husband, which Mrs. Uhler at first tried to make
herself believe was mere assumption or caprice, proved, unhappily, a
permanent state. He neglected his business and his home for social
companions; and whenever asked by his wife for supplies of cash,
invariably gave as a reason why he could not supply her want, the
fact of some new loss of custom, or money, in consequence of
neglect, carelessness, or incompetency of clerks or workmen, when he
was away, enjoying himself.

For a long time, Mrs. Uhler's independent spirit struggled against
the humiliating necessity that daily twined its coils closer and
closer around her. More and more clearly did she see, in her
husband's wrong conduct, a reflection of her own wrong deeds in the
beginning. It was hard for her to acknowledge that she had been in
error--even to herself. But conviction lifted before her mind,
daily, its rebuking finger, and she could not shut the vision out.

Neglect of business brought its disastrous consequences. In the end
there was a failure; and yet, to the end, Mr. Uhler excused his
conduct on the ground that he wasn't going to tie himself down like
a galley slave to the oar--wasn't going to stoop to the drudgery he
had employed clerks to perform. This was all his wife could gain
from him in reply to her frequent remonstrances.

Up to this time, Mr. Uhler had resisted the better suggestions
which, in lucid intervals, if we may so call them, were thrown into
her mind. Pride would not let her give to her household duties that
personal care which their rightful performance demanded; the more
particularly, as, in much of her husband's conduct, she plainly saw
rebuke.

At last, poverty, that stern oppressor, drove the Uhlers out from
their pleasant home, and they shrunk away into obscurity, privation,
and want. In the last interview held by Mrs. Uhler with the "strong
minded" friends, whose society had so long thrown its fascinations
around her, and whose views and opinions had so long exercised a
baleful influence over her home, she was urgently advised to abandon
her husband, whom one of the number did not hesitate to denounce in
language so coarse and disgusting, that the latent instincts of the
wife were shocked beyond measure. Her husband was not the brutal,
sensual tyrant this refined lady, in her intemperate zeal,
represented him. None knew the picture to be so false as Mrs. Uhler,
and all that was good and true in her rose up in indignant
rebellion.

To her poor, comfortless home, and neglected children, Mrs. Uhler
returned in a state of mind so different from anything she had
experienced for years, that she half wondered within herself if she
were really the same woman. Scales had fallen suddenly from her
eyes, and she saw every thing around her in new aspects and new
relations.

"Has my husband really been an exacting tyrant?" This question she
propounded to herself almost involuntarily. "Did he trample upon my
rights in the beginning, or did I trample upon his? He had a right
to expect from me the best service I could render, in making his
home comfortable and happy. Did I render that service? did I see in
my home duties my highest obligation as a wife? have I been a true
wife to him?"

So rapidly came these rebuking interrogations upon the mind of Mrs.
Uhler, that it almost seemed as if an accuser stood near, and
uttered the questions aloud. And how did she respond? Not in self
justification. Convinced, humbled, repentant, she sought her home.

It was late in the afternoon, almost evening, when Mrs. Uhler passed
the threshold of her own door. The cry of a child reached her ears
the moment she entered, and she knew, in an instant, that it was a
cry of suffering, not anger or ill nature. Hurrying to her chamber,
she found her three little ones huddled together on the floor, the
youngest with one of its arms and the side of its face badly burned
in consequence of its clothes having taken fire. As well as she
could learn, the girl in whose charge she had left the children, and
who, in the reduced circumstances of the family, was constituted
doer of all work, had, from some pique, gone away in her absence.
Thus left free to go where, and do what they pleased, the children
had amused themselves in playing with the fire. When the clothes of
the youngest caught in the blaze of a lighted stick, the two oldest,
with singular presence of mind, threw around her a wet towel that
hung near, and thus saved her life.

"Has your father been home?" asked Mrs. Uhler, as soon as she
comprehended the scene before her.

"Yes, ma'am," was answered.

"Where is he?"

"He's gone for the doctor," replied the oldest of the children.

"What did he say?" This question was involuntary. The child
hesitated for a moment, and then replied artlessly--

"He said he wished we had no mother, and then he'd know how to take
care of us himself."

The words came with the force of a blow. Mrs. Uhler staggered
backwards, and sunk upon a chair, weak, for a brief time, as an
infant. Ere yet her strength returned, her husband came in with a
doctor. He did not seem to notice her presence; but she soon made
that apparent. All the mother's heart was suddenly alive in her. She
was not over officious--had little to say; but her actions were all
to the purpose. In due time, the little sufferer was in a
comfortable state and the doctor retired.

Not a word had, up to this moment, passed between the husband and
wife. Now, the eyes of the latter sought those of Mr. Uhler; but
there came no answering glance. His face was sternly averted.

Darkness was now beginning to fall, and Mrs. Uhler left her husband
and children, and went down into the kitchen. The fire had burned
low; and was nearly extinguished. The girl had not returned; and,
from what Mrs. Uhler gathered from the children would not, she
presumed, come back to them again. It mattered not, however; Mrs.
Uhler was in no state of mind to regard this as a cause of trouble.
She rather felt relieved by her absence. Soon the fire was
rekindled; the kettle simmering; and, in due time, a comfortable
supper was on the table, prepared by her own hands, and well
prepared too.

Mr. Uhler was a little taken by surprise, when, on being summoned to
tea, he took his place at the usually uninviting table, and saw
before him a dish of well made toast, and a plate of nicely boiled
ham. He said nothing; but a sensation of pleasure, so warm that it
made his heart beat quicker, pervaded his bosom; and this was
increased, when he placed the cup of well made, fragrant tea to his
lips, and took a long delicious draught. All had been prepared by
the hands of his wife--that he knew. How quickly his pleasure sighed
itself away, as he remembered that, with her ample ability to make
his home the pleasantest place for him in the world, she was wholly
wanting in inclination.

Usually, the husband spent his evenings away. Something caused him
to linger in his own home on this occasion. Few words passed between
him and his wife; but the latter was active through all the evening,
and, wherever her hand was laid, order seemed to grow up from
disorder; and the light glinted back from a hundred places in the
room, where no cheerful reflection had ever met his eyes before.

Mr. Uhler looked on, in wonder and hope, but said nothing. Strange
enough, Mrs. Uhler was up by day-dawn on the next morning; and in
due time, a very comfortable breakfast was prepared by her own
hands. Mr. Uhler ventured a word of praise, as he sipped his coffee.
Never had he tasted finer in his life, he said. Mrs. Uhler looked
gratified; but offered no response.

At dinner time Mr. Uhler came home from the store, where he was now
employed at a small salary, and still more to his surprise, found a
well cooked and well served meal awaiting him. Never, since his
marriage, had he eaten food at his own table with so true a
relish--never before had every thing in his house seemed so much
like home.

And so things went on for a week, Mr. Uhler wondering and observant,
and Mrs. Uhler finding her own sweet reward, not only in a
consciousness of duty, but in seeing a great change in her husband,
who was no longer moody and ill-natured, and who had not been absent
once at meal time, nor during an evening, since she had striven to
be to him a good wife, and to her children a self denying mother.

There came, now, to be a sort of tacit emulation of good offices
between the wife and husband, who had, for so many years, lived in a
state of partial indifference. Mr. Uhler urged the procuring of a
domestic, in place of the girl who had left them, but Mrs. Uhler
said no--their circumstances would not justify the expense. Mr.
Uhler said they could very well afford it, and intimated something
about an expected advance in his salary.

"I do not wish to see you a mere household drudge," he said to her
one day, a few weeks after the change just noted. "You know so well
how every thing ought to be done, that the office of director alone
should be yours. I think there is a brighter day coming for us. I
hope so. From the first of next month, my salary is to be increased
to a thousand dollars. Then we will move from this poor place, into
a better home."

There was a blending of hopefulness and tenderness in the voice of
Mr. Uhler, that touched his wife deeply. Overcome by her feelings,
she laid her face upon his bosom, and wept.

"Whether the day be brighter or darker," she said, when she could
speak calmly, "God helping me, I will be to you a true wife, Herman.
If there be clouds and storms without, the hearth shall only burn
the brighter for you within. Forgive me for the past, dear husband!
and have faith in me for the future. You shall not be disappointed."

And he was not. Mrs. Uhler had discovered her true relation, and had
become conscious of her true duties. She was no longer jealous of
her own rights, and therefore never trespassed on the rights of her
husband.

The rapidity with which Mr. Uhler rose to his old position in
business, sometimes caused a feeling of wonder to pervade the mind
of his wife. From a clerk of one thousand, he soon came into the
receipt of two thousand a year, then rose to be a partner in the
business, and in a singularly short period was a man of wealth. Mrs.
Uhler was puzzled, sometimes, at this, and so were other people. It
was even hinted, that he had never been as poor as was pretended. Be
that as it may, as he never afterwards trusted important matters to
the discretion of irresponsible clerks, his business operations went
on prosperously; and, on the other hand, as Mrs. Uhler never again
left the comfort and health of her family entirely in the hands of
ignorant and careless domestics, the home of her husband was the
pleasantest place in the world for him, and his wife, not a mere
upper servant, but a loving and intelligent companion, whom he cared
for and cherished with the utmost tenderness.



THE HUMBLED PHARISEE.


"WHAT was that?" exclaimed Mrs. Andrews, to the lady who was seated
next to her, as a single strain of music vibrated for a few moments
on the atmosphere.

"A violin, I suppose," was answered.

"A violin!" An expression almost of horror came into the countenance
of Mrs. Andrews. "It can't be possible."

It was possible, however, for the sound came again, prolonged and
varied.

"What does it mean?" asked Mrs. Andrews, looking troubled, and
moving uneasily in her chair.

"Cotillions, I presume," was answered, carelessly.

"Not dancing, surely!"

But, even as Mrs. Andrews said this, a man entered, carrying in his
hand a violin. There was an instant movement on the part of several
younger members of the company; partners were chosen, and ere Mrs.
Andrews had time to collect her suddenly bewildered thoughts, the
music had struck up, and the dancers were in motion.

"I can't remain here. It's an outrage!" said Mrs. Andrews, making a
motion to rise.

The lady by whom she was sitting comprehended now more clearly her
state of mind, and laying a hand on her arm, gently restrained her.

"Why not remain? What is an outrage, Mrs. Andrews?" she asked.

"Mrs. Burdick knew very well that I was a member of the church." The
lady's manner was indignant.

"All your friends know that, Mrs. Andrews," replied the other. A
third person might have detected in her tones a lurking sarcasm. But
this was not perceived by the individual addressed. "But what is
wrong?"

"Wrong! Isn't that wrong?" And she glanced towards the mazy wreath
of human figures already circling on the floor. "I could not have
believed it of Mrs. Burdick; she knew that I was a professor of
religion."

"She doesn't expect you to dance, Mrs. Andrews," said the lady.

"But she expects me to countenance the sin and folly by my
presence."

"Sin and folly are strong terms, Mrs. Andrews."

"I know they are, and I use them advisedly. I hold it a sin to
dance."

"I know wise and good people who hold a different opinion."

"Wise and good!" Mrs. Andrews spoke with strong disgust. "I wouldn't
give much for their wisdom and goodness--not I!"

"The true qualities of men and women are best seen at home. When
people go abroad, they generally change their attire--mental as well
as bodily. Now, I have seen the home-life of certain ladies, who do
not think it sin to dance, and it was full of the heart's warm
sunshine; and I have seen the home-life of certain ladies who hold
dancing to be sinful, and I have said to myself, half shudderingly:
"What child can breathe that atmosphere for years, and not grow up
with a clouded spirit, and a fountain of bitterness in the heart!"

"And so you mean to say," Mrs. Andrews spoke with some asperity of
manner, "that dancing makes people better?--Is, in fact, a means of
grace?"

"No. I say no such thing."

"Then what do you mean to say? I draw the only conclusion I can
make."

"One may grow better or worse from dancing," said the lady. "All
will depend on the spirit in which the recreation is indulged. In
itself the act is innocent."

Mrs. Andrews shook her head.

"In what does its sin consist?"

"It is an idle waste of time."

"Can you say nothing worse of it?"

"I could, but delicacy keeps me silent."

"Did you ever dance?"

"Me? What a question! No!"

"I have danced often. And, let me say, that your inference on the
score of indelicacy is altogether an assumption."

"Why everybody admits that."

"Not by any means."

"If the descriptions of some of the midnight balls and assemblies
that I have heard, of the waltzing, and all that, be true, then
nothing could be more indelicate,--nothing more injurious to the
young and innocent."

"All good things become evil in their perversions," said the lady.
"And I will readily agree with you, that dancing is perverted, and
its use, as a means of social recreation, most sadly changed into
what is injurious. The same may be said of church going."

"You shock me," said Mrs. Andrews. "Excuse me, but you are profane."

"I trust not. For true religion--for the holy things of the
church--I trust that I have the most profound reverence. But let me
prove what I say, that even church going may become evil."

"I am all attention," said the incredulous Mrs. Andrews.

"You can bear plain speaking."

"Me!" The church member looked surprised.

"Yes, you."

"Certainly I can. But why do you ask?"

"To put you on your guard,--nothing more."

"Don't fear but what I can bear all the plain speaking you may
venture upon. As to church going being evil, I am ready to prove the
negative against any allegations you can advance. So speak on."

After a slight pause, to collect her thoughts, the lady said:

"There has been a protracted meeting in Mr. B----'s church."

"I know it. And a blessed time it was."

"You attended?"

"Yes, every day; and greatly was my soul refreshed and
strengthened."

"Did you see Mrs. Eldridge there?"

"Mrs. Eldridge? No indeed, except on Sunday. She's too
worldly-minded for that."

"She has a pew in your church."

"Yes; and comes every Sunday morning because it is fashionable and
respectable to go to church. As for her religion, it isn't worth
much and will hardly stand her at the last day."

"Why Mrs. Andrews! You shock me! Have you seen into her heart? Do
you know her purposes? Judge not, that ye be not judged, is the
divine injunction."

"A tree is known by its fruit," said Mrs. Andrews, who felt the
rebuke, and slightly colored.

"True; and by their fruits shall ye know them," replied the lady.
"But come, there are too many around us here for this earnest
conversation. We will take a quarter of an hour to ourselves in one
of the less crowded rooms. No one will observe our absence, and you
will be freed from the annoyance of these dancers."

The two ladies quietly retired from the drawing rooms. As soon as
they were more alone, the last speaker resumed.

"By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns,
or figs of thistles? Let me relate what I saw and heard in the
families of two ladies during this protracted meeting. One of these
ladies was Mrs. Eldridge. I was passing in her neighborhood about
four o'clock, and as I owed her a call, thought the opportunity a
good one for returning it. On entering, my ears caught the blended
music of a piano, and children's happy voices. From the front
parlor, through the partly opened door, a sight, beautiful to my
eyes, was revealed. Mrs. Eldridge was seated at the instrument, her
sweet babe asleep on one arm, while, with a single hand, she was
touching the notes of a familiar air, to which four children were
dancing. A more innocent, loving, happy group I have never seen. For
nearly ten minutes I gazed upon them unobserved, so interested that
I forgot the questionable propriety of my conduct, and during that
time, not an unkind word was uttered by one of the children, nor did
anything occur to mar the harmony of the scene. It was a sight on
which angels could have looked, nay, did look with pleasure; for,
whenever hearts are tuned to good affections, angels are present.
The music was suspended, and the dancing ceased, as I presented
myself. The mother greeted me with a happy smile, and each of the
children spoke to her visitor with an air at once polite and
respectful.

"'I've turned nurse for the afternoon, you see,' said Mrs. Eldridge,
cheerfully. 'It's Alice's day to go out, and I never like to trust
our little ones with the chambermaid, who is n't over fond of
children. We generally have a good time on these occasions, for I
give myself up to them entirely. They've read, and played, and told
stories, until tired, and now I've just brightened them up, body and
mind, with a dance.'

"And bright and happy they all looked.

"'Now run up into the nursery for a little while, and build block
houses,' said she, 'while I have a little pleasant talk with my
friend. That's good children. And I want you to be very quiet, for
dear little Eddy is fast asleep, and I'm going to lay him in his
crib.'

"Away went the children, and I heard no more of them for the half
hour during which I staid. With the child in her arms, Mrs. Eldridge
went up to her chamber, and I went with her. As she was laying him
in the crib, I took from the mantle a small porcelain figure of a
kneeling child, and was examining it, when she turned to me. 'Very
beautiful,' said I. 'It is,' she replied.--'We call it our Eddy,
saying his prayers. There is a history attached to it. Very early I
teach my little ones to say an evening prayer. First impressions are
never wholly effaced; I therefore seek to implant, in the very
dawning of thought, an idea of God, and our dependence on him for
life and all our blessings, knowing that, if duly fixed, this idea
will ever remain, and be the vessel, in after years, for the
reception of truth flowing down from the great source of all truth.
Strangely enough, my little Eddy, so sweet in temper as he was,
steadily refused to say his prayers. I tried in every way that I
could think of to induce him to kneel with the other children, and
repeat a few simple words; but not his aversion thereto was
unconquerable. I at last grew really troubled about it. There seemed
to be a vein in his character that argued no good. One day I saw
this kneeling child in a store. With the sight of it came the
thought of how I might use it. I bought the figure, and did not show
it to Eddy until he was about going to bed. The effect was all I had
hoped to produce. He looked at it for some moments earnestly, then
dropped on his little knees, clasped his white hands, and murmured
the prayer I had so long and so vainly striven to make him repeat.'

"Tears were in the eyes of Mrs. Eldridge, as she uttered the closing
words. I felt that she was a true mother, and loved her children
with a high and holy love. And now, let me give you a picture that
strongly contrasts with this. Not far from Mrs. Eldridge, resides a
lady, who is remarkable for her devotion to the church, and, I am
compelled to say, want of charity towards all who happen to differ
with her--more particularly, if the difference involves church
matters. It was after sundown; still being in the neighborhood, I
embraced the opportunity to make a call. On ringing the bell, I
heard, immediately, a clatter of feet down the stairs and along the
passage, accompanied by children's voices, loud and boisterous. It
was some time before the door was opened, for each of the four
children, wishing to perform the office, each resisted the others'
attempts to admit the visitor. Angry exclamations, rude outcries,
ill names, and struggles for the advantage continued, until the
cook, attracted from the kitchen by the noise, arrived at the scene
of contention, and after jerking the children so roughly as to set
the two youngest crying, swung it open, and I entered. On gaining
the parlor, I asked for the mother of these children.

"'She isn't at home,' said the cook.

"'She's gone to church,' said the oldest of the children.

"'I wish she'd stay at home,' remarked cook in a very disrespectful
way, and with a manner that showed her to be much fretted in her
mind. 'It's Mary's day out, and she knows I can't do anything with
the children. Such children I never saw! They don't mind a word you
say, and quarrel so among themselves, that it makes one sick to hear
them.'

"At this moment a headless doll struck against the side of my neck.
It had been thrown by one child at another; missing her aim, she
gave me the benefit of her evil intention. At this, cook lost all
patience, and seizing the offending little one, boxed her soundly,
before I could interfere. The language used by that child, as she
escaped from the cook's hands, was shocking. It made my flesh creep!

"'Did I understand you to say that your mother had gone to church?'
I asked of the oldest child.

"'Yes, ma'am,' was answered. 'She's been every day this week.
There's a protracted meeting.'

"'Give me that book!' screamed a child, at this moment. Glancing
across the room, I saw two of the little ones contending for
possession of a large family Bible, which lay upon a small table.
Before I could reach them, for I started forward, from an impulse of
the moment, the table was thrown over, the marble top broken, and
the cover torn from the sacred volume."

The face of Mrs. Andrews became instantly of a deep crimson. Not
seeming to notice this, her friend continued.

"As the table fell, it came within an inch of striking another child
on the head, who had seated himself on the floor. Had it done so, a
fractured skull, perhaps instant death, would have been the
consequence."

Mrs. Andrews caught her breath, and grew very pale. The other
continued.

"In the midst of the confusion that followed, the father came home.

"'Where is your mother?' he asked of one of the children.

"'Gone to church,' was replied.

"'O dear!' I can hear his voice now, with its tone of
hopelessness,--'This church-going mania is dreadful. I tell my wife
that it is all wrong. That her best service to God is to bring up
her children in the love of what is good and true,--in filial
obedience and fraternal affection. But it avails not.'

"And now, Mrs. Andrews," continued the lady, not in the least
appearing to notice the distress and confusion of her over-pious
friend, whom she had placed upon the rack, "When God comes to make
up his jewels, and says to Mrs. Eldridge, and also to this mother
who thought more of church-going than of her precious little ones,
'Where are the children I gave you?' which do you think will be most
likely to answer, 'Here they are, not one is lost?'"

"Have I not clearly shown you that even church-going may be
perverted into an evil? That piety may attain an inordinate growth,
while charity is dead at the root? Spiritual pride; a vain conceit
of superior goodness because of the observance of certain forms and
ceremonies, is the error into which too many devout religionists
fall. But God sees not as man seeth. He looks into the heart, and
judges his creatures by the motives that rule them."

And, as she said this, she arose, the silent and rebuked Mrs.
Andrews, whose own picture had been drawn, following her down to the
gay drawing rooms.

Many a purer heart than that of the humbled Pharisee beat there
beneath the bosoms of happy maidens even though their feet were
rising and falling in time to witching melodies.



ROMANCE AND REALITY.


"I MET with a most splendid girl last evening," remarked to his
friend a young man, whose fine, intellectual forehead, and clear
bright eye, gave indications of more than ordinary mental
endowments.

"Who is she?" was the friend's brief question.

"Her name is Adelaide Merton. Have you ever seen her?"

"No, but I have often heard of the young lady."

"As a girl of more than ordinary intelligence?"

"O yes. Don't you remember the beautiful little gems of poetry that
used to appear in the Gazette, under the signature of Adelaide?"

"Very well. Some of them were exquisite, and all indicative of a
fine mind. Was she their author?"

"So I have been told."

"I can very readily believe it; for never have I met with a woman
who possessed such a brilliant intellect. Her power of expression is
almost unbounded. Her sentences are perfect pictures of the scenes
she describes. If she speaks of a landscape, not one of its most
minute features is lost, nor one of the accessories to its
perfection as a whole overlooked. And so of every thing else, in the
higher regions of the intellect, or in the lower forms of nature.
For my own part, I was lost in admiration of her qualities. She will
yet shine in the world."

The young man who thus expressed himself in regard to Adelaide
Merton, was named Charles Fenwick. He possessed a brilliant mind,
which had been well stored. But his views of life were altogether
perverted and erroneous, and his ends deeply tinctured with the love
of distinction, for its own sake. A few tolerably successful
literary efforts, had been met by injudicious over praise, leading
him to the vain conclusion that his abilities were of so high a
character, that no field of action was for him a worthy one that had
any thing to do with what he was pleased to term the ordinary
grovelling pursuits of life. Of course, all mere mechanical
operations were despised, and as a natural consequence, the men who
were engaged in them. So with merchandizing, and also with the
various branches of productive enterprise. They were mere ministers
of the base physical wants of our nature. His mind took in higher
aims than these!

His father was a merchant in moderate circumstances, engaged in a
calling which was of course despised by the son, notwithstanding he
was indebted to his father's constant devotion to that calling for
his education, and all the means of comfort and supposed distinction
that he enjoyed. The first intention of the elder Mr. Fenwick had
been to qualify his son, thoroughly, for the calling of a merchant,
that he might enter into business with him and receive the benefits
of his experience and facilities in trade. But about the age of
seventeen, while yet at college, young Fenwick made the unfortunate
discovery that he could produce a species of composition which he
called poetry. His efforts were praised--and this induced him to go
on; until he learned the art of tolerably smooth versification. This
would all have been well enough had he not imagined himself to be,
in consequence, of vastly increased importance. Stimulated by this
idea, he prosecuted his collegiate studies with renewed diligence,
storing a strong and comprehensive mind with facts and principles in
science and philosophy, that would have given him, in after life, no
ordinary power of usefulness as a literary and professional man, had
not his selfish ends paralysed and perverted the natural energies of
a good intellect.

The father's intention of making him a merchant was, of course,
opposed by the son, who chose one of the learned profession as more
honorable--not more useful; a profession that would give him
distinction--not enable him to fill his right place in society. In
this he was gratified. At the time of his introduction to the
reader, he was known as a young physician without a patient. He had
graduated, but had not yet seen any occasion for taking an office,
as his father's purse supplied all his wants. His pursuits were
mainly literary--consisting of essays and reviews for some of the
periodicals intermixed with a liberal seasoning of pretty fair
rhymes which rose occasionally to the dignity of poetry--or, as he
supposed, to the lofty strains of a Milton or a Dante. Occasionally
a lecture before some literary association brought his name into the
newspapers in connection with remarks that kindled his vanity into a
flame. Debating clubs afforded another field for display, and he
made liberal use of the facility. So much for Charles Fenwick.

Of Adelaide Merton, we may remark, that she was just the kind of a
woman to captivate a young man of Fenwick's character. She was showy
in her style of conversation, but exceedingly superficial. Her
reading consisted principally of poetry and the popular light
literature of the day, with a smattering of history. She could
repeat, in quite an attractive style, many fine passages from Homer,
Virgil, Milton, Shakspeare, Pope, Byron, Shelley, Coleridge, and a
host of lesser lights in the poetic hemisphere--and could quote from
and criticise the philosophy and style of Bulwer with the most
edifying self-satisfaction imaginable--not to enumerate her many
other remarkable characteristics.

A second visit to Adelaide confirmed the first favorable impression
made upon the mind of Fenwick. At the third visit he was half in
love with her, and she more than half in love with him. A fourth
interview completed the work on both sides. At the fifth, the
following conversation terminated the pleasant intercourse of the
evening. They were seated on a sofa, and had been talking of poetry,
and birds, and flowers, green fields, and smiling landscapes, and a
dozen other things not necessary to be repeated at present. A pause
of some moments finally succeeded, and each seemed deeply absorbed
in thought.

"Adelaide," at length the young man said in a low, musical tone,
full of richness and pathos--"Do you not feel, sometimes, when your
mind rises into the region of pure thoughts, and ranges free among
the beautiful and glorious images that then come and go like angel
visitants, a sense of loneliness, because another cannot share what
brings to you such exquisite delight?"

"Yes--often and often," replied the maiden lifting her eyes to those
of Fenwick, and gazing at him with a tender expression.

"And yet few there are, Adelaide, few indeed who could share such
elevating pleasures."

"Few, indeed," was the response.

"Pardon me, for saying," resumed the young man, "that to you I have
been indebted for such added delights. Rarely, indeed, have I been
able to find, especially among your gentler sex, one who could rise
with me into the refining, elevating, exquisite pleasures of the
imagination. But you have seemed fully to appreciate my sentiments,
and fully to sympathize with them."

To this Adelaide held down her head for a moment or two, the
position causing the blood to deepen in her cheeks and forehead.
Then looking up with an expression of lofty poetic feeling she
said--

"And, until I met you, Mr. Fenwick, I must be frank in saying, that
I have known no one, whose current of thought and feeling--no one
whose love of the beautiful in the ideal or natural--has seemed so
perfect a reflection of my own."

To this followed another pause, longer and more thoughtful than the
first. It was at length broken by Fenwick, who said, in a voice that
trembled perceptibly.

"I have an inward consciousness, that sprung into activity when the
first low murmur of your voice fell upon my ear, that you were to me
a kindred spirit. Since that moment, this consciousness has grown
daily more and more distinct, and now I feel impelled, by a movement
which I cannot resist, to declare its existence. First pardon this
freedom, Adelaide, and then say if you understand and appreciate
what I have uttered in all frankness and sincerity?"

Not long did our young friend wait for an answer that made him
happier than he had ever been in his life--happy in the first
thrilling consciousness of love deeply and fervently reciprocated.
To both of them, there was a degree of romance about this brief
courtship that fully accorded with their views of love truly so
called. The ordinary cold matter-of-fact way of coming together,
including a cautious and even at times a suspicious investigation of
character, they despised as a mere mockery of the high, spontaneous
confidence which those who are truly capable of loving, feel in each
other--a confidence which nothing can shake. And thus did they
pledge themselves without either having thought of the other's moral
qualities; or either of them having formed any distinct ideas in
regard to the true nature of the marriage relation.

A few months sufficed to consummate their union, when, in accordance
with the gay young couple's desire, old Mr. Fenwick furnished them
out handsomely, at a pretty heavy expense, in an establishment of
their own. As Charles Fenwick had not, heretofore, shown any
inclination to enter upon the practice of the profession he had
chosen, his father gently urged upon him the necessity of now doing
so. But the idea of becoming a practical doctor, was one that
Charles could not abide. He had no objection to the title, for that
sounded quite musical to his ear; but no farther than that did his
fancy lead him.

"Why didn't I choose the law as a profession?" he would sometimes
say to his young wife. "Then I might have shone. But to bury myself
as a physician, stealing about from house to house, and moping over
sick beds, is a sacrifice of my talents that I cannot think of
without turning from the picture with disgust."

"Nor can I," would be the wife's reply. "And what is more, I never
will consent to such a perversion of your talents."

"Why cannot you study law, even now, Charles?" she asked of him one
day. "With your acquirements, and habits of thought, I am sure you
would soon be able to pass an examination."

"I think that is a good suggestion, Adelaide," her husband replied,
thoughtfully. "I should only want a year or eighteen months for
preparation, and then I could soon place myself in the front rank of
the profession."

The suggestion of Charles Fenwick's wife was promptly adopted. A
course of legal studies was entered upon, and completed in about two
years. Up to this time, every thing had gone on with our young
couple as smoothly as a summer sea. A beautifully furnished house,
well kept through the attention of two or three servants, gave to
their indoor enjoyments a very important accessory. For money there
was no care, as the elder Mr. Fenwick's purse-strings relaxed as
readily to the hand of Charles as to his own. A pleasant round of
intelligent company, mostly of a literary character, with a full
supply of all the new publications and leading periodicals of the
day, kept their minds elevated into the region of intellectual
enjoyments, and caused them still more to look down upon the
ordinary pursuits of life as far beneath them.

But all this could not last forever. On the day Charles was admitted
to the bar, he received a note from his father, requesting an
immediate interview. He repaired at once to his counting room, in
answer to the parental summons.

"Charles," said the old man, when they were alone, "I have, up to
this time, supplied all your wants, and have done it cheerfully. In
order to prepare you for taking your right place in society, I have
spared no expense in your education, bearing you, after your term of
college life had expired, through two professional courses, so that,
as either a physician or a lawyer, you are fully equal to the task
of sustaining yourself and family. As far as I am concerned, the
tide of prosperity has evidently turned against me. For two years, I
have felt myself gradually going back, instead of forward,
notwithstanding my most earnest struggles to maintain at least the
position already gained. To-day, the notice of a heavy loss
completes my inability to bear the burden of your support, and that
of my own family. You must, therefore, Charles, enter the world for
yourself, and there struggle as I have done, and as all do around
you, for a living. But, as I know that it will be impossible for you
to obtain sufficient practice at once in either law or medicine to
maintain yourself, I will spare you out of my income, which will now
be small in comparison to what it has been, four hundred dollars a
year, for the next two years. You must yourself make up the
deficiency, and no doubt you can easily do so."

"But, father," replied the young man, his face turning pale, "I
cannot, possibly, make up the deficiency. Our rent alone, you know,
is four hundred dollars."

"I am aware of that, Charles. But what then? You must get a house at
one half that rent, and reduce your style of living, proportionably,
in other respects."

"What! And compromise my standing in society? I can never do that,
father."

"Charles," said the old man, looking at his son with a sterner
countenance than he had ever yet put on when speaking to him,
"remember that you have no standing in society which you can truly
call your own. I have, heretofore, held you up, and now that my
sustaining hand is about to be withdrawn, you must fall or rise to
your own level. And I am satisfied, that the sooner you are
permitted to do so the better."

The fact was, that the selfish, and to old Mr. Fenwick, the
heartless manner in which Charles had received the communication of
his changed circumstances, had wounded him exceedingly, and suddenly
opened his eyes to the false relation which his son was holding to
society.

"You certainly cannot be in earnest, father," the son replied, after
a few moments of hurried and painful thought, "in declaring your
intention of throwing me off with a meagre pittance of four hundred
dollars, before I have had a chance to do any thing for myself. How
can I possibly get along on that sum?"

"I do not expect you to live on that, Charles. But the difference
you will have to make up yourself. You have talents and
acquirements. Bring them into useful activity, and you will need
little of my assistance. As for me, as I have already told you, the
tide of success is against me, and I am gradually moving down the
stream. Four hundred dollars is the extent of what I can give you,
and how long the ability to do that may last, Heaven only knows."

Reluctantly the young couple were compelled to give up their
elegantly arranged dwelling, and move into a house of about one half
of its dimensions. In this there was a fixed, cold, common place
reality, that shocked the sensibilities of both even though
throughout the progress of the change, each had remained passive in
the hands of the elder Mr. and Mrs. Fenwick, who had to choose them
a house, and attend to all the arrangements of moving and refitting
the new home. For Charles to have engaged in the vulgar business of
moving household furniture, would have been felt as a disgrace;--and
as for Adelaide, she didn't know how to do any thing in regard to
the matter, and even if she had, would have esteemed such an
employment as entirely beneath her.

While the packing up was going on under the direction of her
husband's mother, Adelaide, half dressed, with an elegant shawl
thrown carelessly about her shoulders, her feet drawn up and her
body reclining upon a sofa, was deeply buried in the last new novel,
while her babe lay in the arms of a nurse, who was thus prevented
from rendering any assistance to those engaged in preparing the
furniture for removal. As for her husband, he was away, in some
professional friend's office, holding a learned discussion upon the
relative merits of Byron and Shelley.

After the removal had been accomplished, and the neat little
dwelling put, as the elder Mrs. Fenwick termed it, into "apple-pie
order" the following conversation took place between her and her
daughter-in-law.

"Adelaide, it will now be necessary for you to let both your nurse
and chambermaid go. Charles cannot possibly afford the expense, as
things now are."

"Let my nurse and chambermaid go!" exclaimed Adelaide, with a look
and tone of profound astonishment.

"Certainly, Adelaide," was the firm reply. "You cannot now afford to
keep three servants."

"But how am I to get along without them? You do not, certainly,
suppose that I can be my own nurse and chambermaid?"

"With your small family," was Mrs. Fenwick's reply, "you can readily
have the assistance of your cook for a portion of the morning in
your chamber and parlors. And as to the nursing part, I should think
that you would desire no higher pleasure than having all the care of
dear little Anna. I was always my own nurse, and never had
assistance beyond that of a little girl."

"It's no use to speak in that way, mother; I cannot do without a
nurse," said Adelaide, bursting into tears. "I couldn't even dress
the baby."

"The sooner you learn, child, the better," was the persevering reply
of Mrs. Fenwick.

But Adelaide had no idea of dispensing with either nurse or
chambermaid, both of whom were retained in spite of the
remonstrances and entreaties of the mother-in-law.

Driven to the absolute necessity of doing so, Charles Fenwick opened
an office, and advertised for business. Those who have attempted to
make their way, at first, in a large city, at the bar, can well
understand the disappointment and chagrin of Fenwick on finding that
he did not rise at once to distinction, as he had fondly imagined he
would, when he turned his attention, with strong reasons for
desiring success, to the practice of his profession. A few petty
cases, the trifling fees of which he rejected as of no
consideration, were all that he obtained during the first three
months. At the end of this time he found himself in debt to the
baker, butcher, milkman, tailor, dry-goods merchants, and to the
three servants still pertinaciously retained by his wife.--And, as a
climax to the whole, his father's business was brought to a
termination by bankruptcy, and the old man, in the decline of life,
with still a large family dependent upon him for support, thrown
upon the world, to struggle, almost powerless, for a subsistence.
Fortunately, the Presidency of an Insurance Company was tendered
him, with a salary of fifteen hundred dollars per annum. On this he
could barely support those dependent upon him, leaving Charles the
whole task of maintaining himself, his wife, and their child.

To be dunned for money was more than the young man could endure with
any kind of patience. But creditor tradesmen had no nice scruples in
regard to these matters, and duns came, consequently, thick and
fast, until poor Charles was irritated beyond measure. Cold, and
sometimes impatient, and half insulting answers to applications for
money, were not to be endured by the eager applicants for what was
justly their own. Warrants soon followed, as a matter of course,
which had to be answered by a personal appearance before city
magistrates, thus causing the infliction of a deeper mortification
than had yet assailed him. Added to these came the importunities of
his landlord, which was met by a response which was deemed
insulting, and then came a distraint for rent. The due bill of the
father, saved the son this utter prostration and disgrace.

The effect of all this, was to drive far away from their dwelling
the sweet angel of peace and contentment. Fretted and troubled
deeply in regard to his present condition and future prospects,
Charles had no smiling words for his wife. This, of course, pained
her deeply. But she readily found relief from present reality in the
world of pure romance. The more powerful fictions of the day,
especially the highly wrought idealities of Bulwer, and those of his
class, introduced her into a world above that in which she
dwelt,--and there she lingered the greatest portion of her time,
unconscious of the calls of duty, or the claims of affection.

A single year sufficed to break them up entirely. Expenses far
beyond their income, which rose to about three hundred dollars
during the first year of Charles' practice at the bar, brought
warrants and executions, which the father had no power to stay. To
satisfy these, furniture and library had to be sold, and Charles and
his wife, child and nurse, which latter Adelaide would retain, were
thrown upon old Mr. Fenwick, for support.

For four years did they remain a burden upon the father, during
which time, unstimulated to exertion by pressing necessities,
Charles made but little progress as a lawyer. Petty cases he
despised, and generally refused to undertake, and those of more
importance were not trusted to one who had yet to prove himself
worthy of a high degree of legal confidence. At the end of that time
both his father and mother were suddenly removed to the world of
spirits, and he was again thrown entirely upon his own resources.

With no one now to check them in any thing Charles and his wife,
after calculating the results of the next year's legal efforts, felt
fully justified in renting a handsome house, and furnishing it on
credit. The proceeds of the year's practice rose but little above
four hundred dollars, and at its conclusion they found themselves
involved in a new debt of three thousand dollars. Then came another
breaking up, with all of its harrowing consequences--consequences
which to persons of their habits and mode of thinking, are so deeply
mortifying,--followed by their shrinking away, with a meagre remnant
of their furniture, into a couple of rooms, in an obscure part of
the town.

"Adelaide," said the husband, one morning, as he roused himself from
a painful reverie.

"Well, what do you want?" she asked abstractedly, lifting her eyes
with reluctant air from the pages of a novel.

"I want to talk to you for a little while; so shut your book, if you
please."

"Won't some other time do as well? I have just got into the middle
of a most interesting scene."

"No--I wish to talk with you now."

"Well, say on," the wife rejoined, closing the book in her hand,
with her thumb resting upon the page that still retained her
thoughts, and assuming an attitude of reluctant attention.

"There is a school vacant at N----, some twenty miles from the city.
The salary is eight hundred dollars a year, with a house and garden
included. I can get the situation, if I will accept of it."

"And sink to the condition of a miserable country pedagogue?"

"And support my family comfortably and honestly," Fenwick replied in
a tone of bitterness.

"Precious little comfort will your family experience immured in an
obscure country village, without a single congenial associate. What
in the name of wonder has put that into your head?"

"Adelaide! I cannot succeed at the bar--at least, not for years. Of
that I am fully satisfied. It is absolutely necessary, therefore,
that I should turn my attention to something that will supply the
pressing demands of my family."

"But surely you can get into something better than the office of
schoolmaster, to the sons of clodpoles."

"Name something."

"I'm sure I cannot tell. That is a matter for you to think about,"
and so saying, Mrs. Fenwick re-opened her book, and commenced poring
again over the pages of the delightful work she held in her hand.

Irritated, and half disgusted at this, a severe reproof trembled on
his tongue, but he suppressed it. In a few minutes after he arose,
and left the apartment without his wife seeming to notice the
movement.

"Good morning, Mr. Fenwick!" said a well known individual, coming
into the lawyer's office a few minutes after he had himself entered.

"That trial comes on this afternoon at four o'clock."

"Well, John, I can't help it. The debt is a just one, but I have no
means of meeting it now."

"Try, and do so if you can, Mr. Fenwick, for the plaintiff is a good
deal irritated about the matter, and will push the thing to
extremities."

"I should be sorry for that. But if so, let him use his own
pleasure. Take nothing from nothing, and nothing remains."

"You had better come then with security, Mr. Fenwick, for my orders
are, to have an execution issued against your person, as soon as the
case is decided."

"You are not in earnest, John?" suddenly ejaculated the lawyer,
rising to his feet, and looking at the humble minister of the law
with a pale cheek and quivering lip. "Surely Mr. ---- is not going to
push matters to so uncalled-for an extremity!"

"Such, he positively declares, is his fixed determination. So hold
yourself prepared, sir, to meet even this unpleasant event."

The debt for which the warrant had been issued against Mr. Fenwick,
amounted to ninety dollars.

The whole of the remaining part of that day was spent in the effort
to obtain security in the case. But in vain. His friends knew too
well his inability to protect them from certain loss, should they
step between him and the law. Talents, education, brilliant
addresses, fine poetry "and all that," turned to no good and useful
ends, he found availed him nothing now. Even many of those with whom
he had been in intimate literary association, shrunk away from the
penniless individual, and those who did not actually shun him had
lost much of their former cordiality.

The idea of being sent to jail for debt, was to him a terrible one.
And he turned from it with a sinking at the heart. He said nothing
to Adelaide on returning home in the evening, for the high communion
of spirit, in which they had promised themselves such deep and
exquisite delight, had long since given place to coldness, and a
state of non-sympathy. He found her deeply buried, as usual, in some
volume of romance, while every thing around her was in disorder, and
full of unmitigated realities. They were living alone in two small
rooms, and the duty of keeping them in order and providing their
frugal meals devolved as a heavy task upon Adelaide--so heavy, that
she found it utterly impossible to do it justice.

The fire--that essential preliminary to household operations--had
not even been made, when Fenwick reached home, and the dinner table
remained still on the floor, with its unwashed dishes strewn over
it, in admirable confusion.

With a sigh, Adelaide resigned her book, soon after her husband came
in, and commenced preparations for the evening meal. This was soon
ready, and despatched in silence, except so far as the aimless
prattle of their little girl interrupted it. Tea over, Mrs. Fenwick
put Anna to bed, much against her will, and then drew up to the
table again with her book.

Cheerless and companionless did her husband feel as he let his eye
fall upon her, buried in selfish enjoyment, while his own heart was
wrung with the bitterest recollections and the most heart-sickening
anticipations.

Thoughts of the gaming table passed through his mind, and with the
thought he placed his hand involuntarily upon his pocket. It was
empty. Sometimes his mind would rise into a state of vigorous
activity, with the internal consciousness of a power to do any
thing. But, alas--it was strength without skill--intellectual power
without the knowledge to direct it aright.

Late on the next morning he arose from a pillow that had been
blessed with but little sleep, and that unrefreshing. It was past
eleven o'clock before Adelaide had breakfast on the table. This
over, she, without even dressing Anna or arranging her own person
sat down to her novel, while he gave himself to the most gloomy and
desponding reflections. He feared to go out lest the first man he
should meet, should prove an officer with an execution upon his
person.

About one o'clock, sick and weary of such a comfortless home, he
went out, glad of any change. Ten steps from his own door, he was
met by a constable who conveyed him to prison.

Several hours passed before his crushed feelings were aroused
sufficiently to cause him even to think of any means of extrication.
When his mind did act, it was with clearness, vigor, and decision.
The walls of a jail had something too nearly like reality about
them, to leave much of the false sentiment which had hitherto marred
his prospects in life. There was, too, something deeply humiliating
in his condition of an imprisoned debtor.

"What shall I do?" he asked himself, towards the close of the day,
with a strong resolution to discover the best course of action, and
to pursue that course, unswayed by any extraneous influences. The
thought of his wife came across his mind.

"Shall I send her word where I am?"--A pause of some moments
succeeded this question.

"No," he at length said, half aloud, while an expression of pain
flitted over his countenance. "It is of little consequence to her
where I am or what I suffer. She is, I believe, perfectly
heartless."

But Fenwick was mistaken in this. She needed, as well as himself,
some powerful shock to awaken her to true consciousness. That shock
proved to be the knowledge of her husband's imprisonment for debt,
which she learned early on the next morning, after the passage of an
anxious and sleepless night, full of strange forebodings of
approaching evil. She repaired, instantly, to the prison, her heart
melted down into true feeling. The interview between herself and
husband was full of tenderness, bringing out from each heart the
mutual affections which had been sleeping there, alas! too long.

But one right course presented itself to the mind of either of them,
and that was naturally approved by both, as the only proper one. It
was for Fenwick to come out of prison under the act of insolvency,
and thus free himself from the trammels of past obligations, which
could not possibly be met.

This was soon accomplished, the requisite security for his personal
appearance to interrogatories being readily obtained.

"And now, Adelaide, what is to be done?" he asked of his wife, as he
sat holding her hand in his, during the first hour of his release
from imprisonment. His own mind had already decided--still he was
anxious for her suggestion, if she had any to make.

"Can you still obtain that school you spoke of?" she asked with much
interest in her tone.

"Yes. The offer is still open."

"Then take it, Charles, by all means. One such lesson as we have
had, is enough for a life time. Satisfied am I, now, that we have
not sought for happiness in the right paths."

The school was accordingly taken, and with humbled feelings, modest
expectations, and a mutual resolution to be satisfied with little,
did Charles Fenwick and his wife re-commence the world at the bottom
of the ladder. That he was sincere in his new formed resolutions, is
evident from the fact, that in a few years he became the principal
of a popular literary institution, for which office he was fully
qualified. She, too, learned, by degrees, to act well her part in
all her relations, social and domestic--and now finds far more
pleasure in the realities, than she ever did in the romance of life.



BOTH TO BLAME.


"OF course, both are to blame."

"Of course. You may always set that down as certain when you see two
persons who have formerly been on good terms fall out with each
other. For my part, I never take sides in these matters. I listen to
what both have to say, and make due allowance for the wish of either
party to make his or her own story appear most favorable."

Thus we heard two persons settling a matter of difference between a
couple of their friends, and it struck us at the time as not being
exactly the true way in all cases. In disputes and differences,
there are no doubt times when both are _equally_ to blame; most
generally, however, one party is _more_ to blame than the other. And
it not unfrequently happens that one party to a difference is not at
all to blame, but merely stands on a just and honorable defensive.
The following story, which may or may not be from real life, will
illustrate the latter position.

"Did you hear about Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Tarleton?" said one friend
to another.

"No; what is the matter?"

"They are up in arms against each other."

"Indeed; it's the first I've heard of it. What is the cause?"

"I can hardly tell; but I know that they don't speak. Mrs. Tarleton
complains bitterly against Mrs. Bates; and Mrs. Bates, they say, is
just as bitter against her. For my part, I've come to the conclusion
that both are to blame."

"There is no doubt of that. I never knew a case of this kind where
both were not to blame."

"Nor I."

"But don't you know the ground of the difference?"

"They say it is about a head-dress."

"I'll be bound dress has something to do with it," grumbled out Mr.
Brierly, the husband of one of the ladies, who sat reading a
newspaper while they were talking.

"My husband is disposed to be a little severe on the ladies at
times, but you mustn't mind him. _I_ never do," remarked Mrs.
Brierly, half sarcastically, although she looked at her husband with
a smile as she spoke. "He thinks we care for nothing but dress. I
tell him it is very well for him and the rest of the world that we
have some little regard at least to such matters. I am sure if I
didn't think a good deal about dress, he and the children would soon
look like scarecrows."

Mr. Brierly responded to this by a "Humph!" and resumed the perusal
of his newspaper.

"It is said," resumed Mrs. Brierly, who had been asked to state the
cause of the unhappy difference existing between the two ladies,
"that Mrs. Bates received from her sister in New York a new and very
beautiful head-dress, which had been obtained through a friend in
Paris. Mrs. Tarleton wanted it very badly, and begged Mrs. Bates for
the pattern; but she refused to let her have it, because a grand
party was to be given by the Listons in a few weeks, and she wanted
to show it off there herself. Mrs. Tarleton, however, was not going
to take 'no' for an answer; she had set her heart upon the
head-dress and must have it. You know what a persevering woman she
is when she takes anything into her head. Well, she called in almost
every day to see Mrs. Bates, and every time she would have something
to say about the head-dress, and ask to see it. In this way she got
the pattern of it so perfectly in her mind that she was able to
direct a milliner how to make her one precisely like it. All unknown
to Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Tarleton came to the party wearing this new
style of head-dress, which made her so angry when she discovered it,
that she insulted Mrs. Tarleton openly, and then retired from the
company."

"Is it possible!"

"That, I believe, is about the truth of the whole matter. I have
sifted it pretty closely."

"Well, I declare! I was at the party, but I saw nothing of this. I
remember Mrs. Tarleton's head-dress, however, very well. It
certainly was very beautiful, and has become quite fashionable
since."

"Yes, and is called by some the Tarleton head-dress, from the first
wearer of it."

"This no doubt galls Mrs. Bates severely. They say she is a vain
woman."

"It is more than probable that this circumstance has widened the
breach."

"I must say," remarked the other lady, "that Mrs. Tarleton did not
act well."

"No, she certainly did not. At the same time, I think Mrs. Bates was
served perfectly right for her selfish vanity. It wouldn't have hurt
her at all if there had been two or three head-dresses there of
exactly the pattern of hers. But extreme vanity always gets
mortified, and in this case I think justly so."

"Besides, it was very unladylike to insult Mrs. Tarleton in public."

"Yes, or anywhere else. She should have taken no notice of it
whatever. A true lady, under circumstances of this kind, seems
perfectly unaware of what has occurred. She shuns, with the utmost
carefulness, any appearance of an affront at so trivial a matter,
even if she feels it."

Such was the opinion entertained by the ladies in regard to the
misunderstanding, as some others called it, that existed between
Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Tarleton. Both were considered to blame, and
nearly equally so; but whether the parties really misunderstood
their own or each other's true position will be seen when the truth
appears.

Mrs. Bates did receive, as has been stated, a beautiful head-dress
from a sister in New York, who had obtained it from a friend in
Paris. The style was quite attractive, though neither unbecoming nor
showy. Mrs. Bates had her own share of vanity, and wished to appear
at a large party soon to take place, in this head-dress, where she
knew it must attract attention. Although a little vain, a fault that
we can easily excuse in a handsome woman, Mrs. Bates had a high
sense of justice and right, and possessed all a lady's true delicacy
of feeling.

The head-dress, after being admired, was laid aside for the occasion
referred to. A few days afterwards, Mrs. Tarleton, an acquaintance,
dropped in.

"I have something beautiful to show you," said Mrs. Bates, after she
had chatted awhile with her visitor.

"Indeed! What is it?"

"The sweetest head-dress you ever saw. My sister sent it to me from
New York, and she had it direct from a friend in Paris, where it was
all the fashion. Mine I believe to be the only one yet received in
the city, and I mean to wear it at Mrs. Liston's party.

"Do let me see it," said Mrs. Tarleton, all alive with expectation.
She had an extravagant love of dress, and was an exceedingly vain
woman.

The head-dress was produced. Mrs. Tarleton lifted her hands and
eyes.

"The loveliest thing I ever saw! Let me try it on," she said, laying
off her bonnet and taking the head-dress from the hands of Mrs.
Bates. "Oh, it is sweet! I never looked so well in anything in my
life," she continued, viewing herself in the glass. "I wish I could
beg it from you; but that I havn't the heart to do."

Mrs. Bates smiled and shook her head, but made no reply.

"Here, you put it on, and let me see how you look in it," went on
Mrs. Tarleton, removing the cap from her own head and placing it
upon that of her friend. "Beautiful! How well it becomes you! you
must let me have the pattern. We can wear them together at the
party. Two will attract more attention than one."

"I am sorry to deny you," replied Mrs. Bates, "but I think I shall
have to be alone in my glory this time."

"Indeed, you must let me have the pattern, Mrs. Bates. I never saw
anything in my life that pleased me so much, nor anything in which I
looked so well. I have been all over town for a head-dress without
finding anything I would wear. If you don't let me have one like
yours, I do not know what I will do. Come now, say yes, that is a
dear."

But Mrs. Bates said no as gently as she could. It was asking of her
too much. She had set her heart upon appearing in that head-dress as
something new and beautiful, and could not consent to share the
distinction, especially with Mrs. Tarleton, for whom, although a
friend, she entertained not the highest esteem, and for the reason
that Mrs. Tarleton had rather a vulgar mind, and lacked a lady's
true perceptions of propriety.

"Well, I must say you are a selfish woman," returned Mrs. Tarleton,
good-humoredly, and yet meaning what she said. "It wouldn't do you a
bit of harm to let me have the pattern, and would gratify me more
than I can tell."

"I'll tell you what I will do," said Mrs. Bates, to this, with a
reluctant effort that was readily perceived by her visitor, "I will
give you the head-dress and let you wear it, as long as you seem to
have set your heart so upon it."

"Oh no, no; you know I wouldn't do that. But it seems strange that
you are not willing for us to wear the same head-dress."

The indelicate pertinacity of her visitor annoyed Mrs. Bates very
much, and she replied to this rather more seriously than she had
before spoken.

"The fact is, Mrs. Tarleton," she said, "this head-dress is one that
cannot fail to attract attention. I have several very intimate
friends, between whom and myself relations of even a closer kind
exist than have yet existed between you and me. If I give you the
pattern of this cap and the privilege of wearing it with me for the
first time it is seen in this city, these friends will have just
cause to think hard of me for passing them by. This is a reason that
would inevitably prevent me from meeting your wishes, even if I were
indifferent about appearing in it myself alone."

"I suppose I must give it up, then," said Mrs. Tarleton, in a
slightly disappointed tone.

"As I said before," returned Mrs. Bates, "I will defer the matter
entirely to you. You shall have the head-dress and I will choose
some other one."

"Oh no; I couldn't think of such a thing," returned Mrs. Tarleton.
"That is more than I ought to ask or you to give."

"It is the best I can do," Mrs. Bates said, with a quiet smile.

"Sister," said Mrs. Tarleton, on returning home, "you can't imagine
what a sweet head-dress Mrs. Bates has just received from Paris
through her sister in New York. It is the most unique and beautiful
thing I ever saw. I tried hard for the pattern, but the selfish
creature wouldn't let me have it. She is keeping it for the Liston's
party, where it will be the admiration of every one."

"What is it like?"

"Oh, I can't begin to describe it. It is altogether novel. I wish
now I had asked her to let me bring it home to show it to you."

"I wish you had. You must go there again and get it for me."

"I believe I will call in again to-morrow.--Perhaps she will have
thought better of it by that time, and changed her mind. At any
rate, if not, I will ask her to let me bring it home and show it to
you."

This was done. Mrs. Bates did not object to letting Mrs. Tarleton
take the head-dress and show it to her sister, for she had the
fullest confidence that she would not do anything with it that she
knew was against her wishes, which had been clearly expressed.

The sister of Mrs. Tarleton was in raptures with the head-dress.

"It is right down mean and selfish in Mrs. Bates not to let you have
the pattern," she said. "What a vain woman she must be. I always
thought better of her."

"So did I. But this shows what she is."

"If I were you," remarked the sister, "I would have it in spite of
her. It isn't _her_ pattern, that she need pretend hold it so
exclusively. It is a Paris fashion, and any body else may get it
just as well as she. She has no property in it."

"No, of course not."

"Then while you have the chance, take it to Madame Pinto and get her
to make you one exactly like it."

"I have a great mind to do it; it would serve her perfectly right."

"I wouldn't hesitate a moment," urged the sister. "At the last
party, Mrs. Bates managed to have on something new that attracted
every one and threw others into the shade, I wouldn't let her have
another such triumph."

Thus urged by her sister, Mrs. Tarleton yielded to the evil counsel,
which was seconded by her own heart. The head-dress was taken to
Madame Pinto, who, after a careful examination of it, said that she
would make one exactly similar for Mrs. Tarleton. After charging the
milliner over and over again to keep the matter a profound secret,
Mrs. Tarleton went away and returned the head-dress to Mrs. Bates.
It had been in her possession only a couple of hours.

Mrs. Pinto was a fashionable milliner and dress maker, and was
patronized by the most fashionable people in the city, Mrs. Bates
among the rest. The latter had called in the aid of this woman in
the preparation of various little matters of dress to be worn at the
party. Three or four days after Mrs. Tarleton's visit to Mrs. Pinto
with the head-dress, Mrs. Bates happened to step in at the
milliner's, who, during their consultation, about little matters of
dress, drew the lady aside, saying--"I've got something that I know
I can venture to show you.--It's for the party, and the loveliest
thing you ever saw."

As she said this she took from a box a facsimile of Mrs. Bates' own
beautiful head-dress, and held it up with looks of admiration.

"Isn't it sweet?" she said.

"It is the most beautiful head-dress I ever saw," replied Mrs.
Bates, concealing her surprise. "Who is it for?"

"It's a secret, but I can tell _you_. It is for Mrs. Tarleton."

"Ah! Where did she get the pattern?"

"I don't know; she brought it here, but said she couldn't leave it
for the world. I had to study it all out, and then make it from my
recollection of the pattern."

"The pattern did not belong to her?"

"Oh, no. Somebody had it who was going to show it off at the party,
she said; but she meant to surprise her."

"Have you any new patterns for head-dresses not chosen by the ladies
who have made selections of you for Mrs. Liston's party?" asked Mrs.
Bates, not seeming to notice the reply of Mrs. Pinto.

"Oh, yes, ma'am, a good many," and half-a-dozen really handsome
head-dresses were shown--none, however, that pleased her half so
well as the one she was about throwing aside. She suited herself
from the assortment shown her, and directed it to be sent home.

Mrs. Bates felt justly outraged at the conduct of Mrs. Tarleton, but
she did not speak of what had taken place, except to one or two very
intimate friends and to her husband. The evening of the party at
length arrived. Mrs. Tarleton was there a little earlier than Mrs.
Bates, in all the glory of her ungenerous triumph. The beautiful
head-dress she wore attracted every eye, and in the admiration won
by the display of her taste, she lost all the shame she had felt in
anticipation of meeting Mrs. Bates, to whom her meanness and
dishonesty would be at once apparent.

At length she saw this lady enter the parlors by the side of her
husband, and noticed with surprise that her head-dress was entirely
different from the one she wore. The truth flashed across her mind.
Mrs. Pinto had betrayed her secret, and Mrs. Bates, justly outraged
by what had occurred, had thrown aside her beautiful cap and
selected another.

Now Mrs. Bates was a woman whom Mrs. Tarleton would be sorry to
offend seriously, because her position in certain circles was
undoubted, while her own was a little questionable. The fact that
Mrs. Bates had declined wearing so beautiful a head-dress because
she had obtained one of the same pattern by unfair means, made her
fear that serious offence had been given, and dashed her spirits at
once. She was not long left in doubt. Before ten minutes had elapsed
she was thrown into immediate contact with Mrs. Bates, from whom she
received a polite but cold bow.

Mrs. Tarleton was both hurt and offended at this, and immediately
after the party, commenced talking about it and mis-stating the
whole transaction, so as not to appear so much to blame as she
really was. Mrs. Bates, on the contrary, said little on the subject,
except to a few very intimate friends, and to those who made free to
ask her about it, to whom she said, after giving fairly the cause of
complaint against Mrs. Tarleton--"I spoke to her coldly because I
wished our more intimate acquaintance to cease. Her conduct was
unworthy of a lady, and therefore I cannot and will not consider her
among my friends. No apologies, if she would even make them, could
change the wrong spirit from which she acted, or make her any more
worthy of my confidence, esteem or love."

"But you will surely forgive her?" said one.

"The wrong done to me I am ready enough to forgive, for it is but a
trifling matter; but the violation of confidence and departure from
a truly honest principle, of which she has been guilty, I cannot
forgive, for they are not sins against me, but against Heaven's
first and best laws."

But that did not satisfy some. Persons calling themselves mutual
friends strove hard to reconcile what they were pleased to call a
misunderstanding in which "both were to blame." But it availed not.
To their interference, Mrs. Bates usually replied--"If it will be
any satisfaction to Mrs. Tarleton to be recognized by me and treated
kindly and politely in company, I will most cheerfully yield her all
that; but I cannot feel towards her as heretofore, because I have
been deceived in her, and find her to be governed by principles that
I cannot approve. We can never again be on terms of intimacy."

But it was impossible to make some understand the difference between
acting from principle and wounded pride. The version given by Mrs.
Tarleton was variously modified as it passed from mouth to mouth,
until it made Mrs. Bates almost as much to blame as herself, and
finally, as the coldness continued until all intercourse at last
ceased, it was pretty generally conceded, except by a very few, that
"both were about equally to blame."

The reader can now make up his own mind on the subject from what has
been related. For our part, we do not think Mrs. Bates at all to
blame in at once withdrawing herself from intimate association with
such a woman as Mrs. Tarleton showed herself to be, and we consider
that a false charity which would seek to interfere with or set aside
the honest indignation that should always be felt in similar cases
of open betrayal of confidence and violation of honest and honorable
principles.

We have chosen a very simple and commonplace incident upon which to
"hang a moral."--But it is in the ordinary pursuits of business and
pleasure where the true character is most prone to exhibit itself,
and we must go there if we would read the book of human life aright.



IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS.


"WAS N'T that young Sanford?" asked Mrs. Larkin of her husband, as
the two stood at a window of their dwelling one Sunday afternoon,
noticing the passers by. The individual she alluded to was a young
man who had ridden gaily along on a spirited horse.

"Yes," was the reply.

"He rides past here almost every Sunday afternoon, and often in
company with Harriet Meadows. He is quite a dashing young fellow."

"He is dashing far beyond his ostensible means. I wonder at Millard
for keeping him in his store. I would soon cast adrift any one of my
clerks who kept a fast horse, and sported about with the gay
extravagance that Sanford does. His salary does not, I am sure, meet
half his expenses. I have heard some of my young men speak of his
habits. They say money with him is no consideration. He spends it as
freely as water."

"Strange that his employer does not see this!"

"It is. But Millard is too unsuspicious, and too ignorant of what is
going on out of the narrow business circle. He is like a horse in a
mill. He sees nothing outside of a certain limit. He gets up in the
morning, dresses himself, goes to his store, and then devotes
himself to business until dinner time. Then he goes home and dines.
After this he comes back to his store and stays until night. His
evenings are either spent in reading or dozing at home, or with a
neighbor at checkers. On Sunday morning he goes to church, in the
afternoon he sleeps to kill time, and in the evening retires at
eight, unless a friend steps in, to sleep away the tedious hours. Of
the habits of his clerks, when out of his store, he knows as little
as the man in the moon."

"But some one ought to give him a hint."

"It would be a charity."

"Why do n't you do it?"

"Me! Oh, it's none of my business. Let Millard look after his own
affairs. I 'm not going to get myself into trouble by meddling with
things that do n't concern me. It is his place to see into the
habits of his clerks. If he neglects to do so, he deserves to be
cheated by them."

"I do n't know. It seems to me that it would be no more than right
to give him a hint, and put him on his guard."

"It would be a good turn, no doubt. But I'm not going to do it. It's
no affair of mine."

"I do n't think he is fit company for Harriet Meadows," said Mrs.
Larkin, after a pause.

"Nor I," returned her husband. "I should be very sorry to see our
Jane riding with him, or indeed, associating with him in any way.
Surely Harriet's father and mother cannot know that their daughter
rides out with him almost every Sunday afternoon."

"Of course not. They are religious people and would think it a sin
for her to do so. I am surprised that Harriet should act in such
direct violation of what she knows to be their real sentiments."

"Some one ought to give them a hint upon the subject."

"I think so. If it were my child I would take it as a great favor
indeed."

"Yes, so would I. Suppose, Ellen, you drop a word in Mrs. Meadows'
ear."

"Me!" with a look and tone of surprise. "Oh no, I never interfere in
other people's business. Every one ought to look after his or her
own concerns. I hate your meddlesome folks. I 'll take good care
that my own child do n't form such associations. Let every body else
do the same. The fact is, parents are too careless about where their
children go, and what kind of company they keep."

"That's very true. Still I think no harm could come of your just
giving Mrs. Meadows a hint."

"Oh, no indeed! It's none of my business."

"Well, just as you like," returned Mr. Larkin, indifferently. "Let
every one see that his own stable door is locked before the horse is
stolen."

Mr. Millard, who was in the same line of business with Larkin, was
just the plodding, unobserving, unsuspicious person that the latter
had described him. Sanford was an intelligent clerk and an active
salesman. These were valuable qualities, for which he was
appreciated by his employer. As to what he did or where he went
after business hours, Millard never thought. He, doubtless, on the
supposition of the merchant, went into good company, and acted with
the same prudence that had governed himself under similar
circumstances. But in this he was mistaken. The young man's habits
were bad, and his associates often of a vicious character. Bad
habits and bad associates always involve the spending of money
freely. This consequence naturally occurred in the case of Sanford.
To supply his wants his salary proved insufficient. These wants were
like the horse-leech, and cried continually--"give, give." They
could not be put off. The first recourse was that of borrowing, in
anticipation of his quarterly receipt of salary, after his last
payment was exhausted. It was not long before, under this system,
his entire quarterly receipt had to be paid away to balance his
borrowed money account, thus leaving him nothing to meet his
increasing wants for the next three months. By borrowing again from
some friends immediately, and curtailing his expenses down to the
range of his income, he was able to get along for two or three
quarters. But, of course, he was always behind hand just the amount
of three months' salary. At length, as new wants pressed upon him,
he was tempted to exceed in his borrowed money account the sum
received as his quarterly dues. This made it impossible for him to
pay off, when he received his instalments of salary, the whole
amount of borrowed money, and caused him to cast about for some new
resource. In balancing the cash account one day,--he had charge of
this,--he found that there was an error of one hundred dollars in
favor of cash--that is, there were on hand one hundred dollars more
than was called for by the account. He went over the account again
and again, but could not discover the error. For more than an hour
he examined the various entries and additions, but with no better
success. At last, however, a little to his disappointment, for he
had already began to think of quietly appropriating the surplus, he
found the error to consist in the carriage of tens--four instead of
five having been carried to the third or column of hundreds on one
of the pages of the cash book, thus making the amount called for in
the book one hundred dollars less than the real sum on hand.

For some time after this discovery, Sanford sat at his desk in a
state of abstraction and irresolution. He was vexed that the error
had been found out, for he had already nearly made up his mind to
keep the overplus and say nothing about it. He did not attempt to
change the erroneous figure.--Why should it not remain so?--he at
length asked himself. If it had cost him so much time and labor to
find it out, it was not probable that any one else would detect it.
Indeed, no one but himself and Mr. Millard had any thing to do with
the general cash account of the establishment, and he knew very well
that the latter did not examine it with a very close scrutiny.
Finally, pressing demands for money determined him to put the
surplus into his pocket, at least for the present. He did so, and in
that act let into his mind a flood of evil counsellors, whose
arguments, enforced by his own cupidities, could at any time
afterwards have sufficient control to guide him almost at will. With
this sum of one hundred dollars, he paid off a portion of what he
owed, and retained the rest to meet the demands that would be made
upon him before the arrival of the next quarter day. It was a rule
with Millard to pay off his clerks only in quarterly instalments. No
other payments were allowed them.

It was not long before a deliberate false entry was made, by which
another hundred dollars passed into Sanford's pockets. With this
increase of income came a freer expenditure. Hitherto he had been in
the habit of riding out on Sundays on hired horses; but now he was
inspired with a wish to own a horse himself. A beautiful animal just
at this time came under his eye. It was offered at one hundred and
fifty dollars. The owner, knowing Sanford's fondness for a gay,
fast-going horse, urged him to buy.

The temptation was very strong. He looked at the animal again and
again, rode him out, talked about him, until, finally, the desire to
own him became almost irresistible. He had not twenty dollars,
however, and it would be two months before his salary came due,
which at any rate was all wanted for current expenses. The cash book
was looked at for a week or ten days before he could make up his
mind to pen another false entry. At last, however, he picked up the
courage to do so. The horse was purchased, and for a few days the
thought of possessing so noble an animal was very pleasant.

On the third day after this act of dishonesty, Mr. Millard, who had
been looking over the cash book, discovered the erroneous figures.

"Look here, Sanford," said he, "you have made a mistake here. This
figure should be nine instead of eight, and this five instead of
four."

The young man's heart gave a quick throb, but he controlled himself
by a strong effort.

"Where?" he asked, quickly, coming at once to Mr. Millard, and
looking over the cash-book.

"Here--just add up these two columns."

Sanford added them up, and then said--

"Yes, that's a fact. I'm glad you have found it out. The cash has
been over about two hundred dollars for several days, and I have
tried in vain to find where the error lay. Strange, after adding up
these columns for some twenty times or more, I should have still
been wrong in these figures. Let me strike a balance for you now, so
that you can count the cash, and see that there is just this amount
over."

This dispelled all suspicions from the mind of Millard, if any had
found a place there.

"No," he replied, "I hav n't time now. I have no doubt of it being
right. Make the corrections required."

And as he thus remarked, he turned away from the desk.

Sanford trembled from head to foot the moment his employer left him.
He tried to make the corrections, but his hand shook so that he
could not hold the pen. In a little while he mastered this agitation
so far as to be externally composed. He then changed the erroneous
figures. But this did not make the matter straight. The cash account
now called for two hundred dollars more than the funds on hand would
show. If the money should be counted before he could make other
false entries, he would be discovered and disgraced. And now that
errors had been discovered, it was but natural to suppose that Mr.
Millard would glance less casually at the account than he had been
in the habit of doing. At last, he determined to erase a few pages
back certain figures, and insert others in their places, and carry
down from thence the error by a regular series of erasures and new
entries. This he did so skilfully, that none but the eye of
suspicion could have detected it. It was some weeks before he again
ventured to repeat these acts. When he did so, he permitted the
surplus cash to remain in the drawer for eight or ten days, so that
if a discovery happened to be made, the balance on hand would show
that it was an error. But Mr. Millard thought no more about the
matter, and the dishonest clerk was permitted to prosecute his base
conduct undetected. In this way month after month passed, until the
defalcation rose to over a thousand dollars. Nightly Sanford
attended places of public amusement, usually accompanied by a young
lady, the daughter of some respectable citizen, who knew as little
of the habits and character of the young man as did his employer
himself. Among those with whom he had become intimate was Harriet
Meadows, the daughter of a merchant possessing a high sense of honor
and considerable wealth. Mr. Meadows, so soon as the young man began
to visit at his house, gave him to understand by his manner that he
was not welcome. This was so plainly done that there was no room for
mistake in the matter. Piqued at this, Sanford determined that he
would keep the daughter's company in spite of her crusty old father.
Harriet was gay and thoughtless, and had been flattered by the
attentions of Sanford. She met him a few times after his repulse, at
balls, and hesitated not to dance with him. These meetings afforded
full opportunity for the young man to push himself still farther
into her good opinion, and to prevail upon her at length to meet him
clandestinely, which she frequently did on Sunday afternoons, when,
as has already been seen, she would ride out in his company. This
kind of intimacy soon led to a declaration of love on the part of
Sanford, which was fully responded to by the foolish girl. The
former had much, he thought, to hope for in in a union with Miss
Meadows. Her father was well off, and in a very excellent business.
His fortune would be made if he could rise to the position of his
son-in-law. He did not hope to do this by a fair and open offer for
Harriet's hand. The character of Meadows, which was decided,
precluded all hope of gaining his consent after he had once frowned
upon his approaches. The only road to success was a secret marriage,
and to that he was gradually inclining the mind of the daughter at
the time our story opened.

It is not always that a villain remains such alone. He generally, by
a kind of intuition, perceives who are like him in interiors, and he
associates with these on the principle that birds of a feather flock
together. He was particularly intimate with one of Larkin's clerks,
a young man named Hatfield, who had no higher views of life than
himself, and who was governed by no sounder principles. Hatfield
found it necessary to be more guarded than Sanford, from the fact
that his employer was gifted with much closer observation than was
Millard. He, too, rode a fast trotting horse on Sunday, but he knew
pretty well the round taken by Larkin on that day, and the hours
when he attended church, and was very careful never to meet him. At
some place of public resort, a few miles from the city, he would
join Sanford, and together they would spend the afternoon.

On Jane Larkin, his employer's only daughter, Hatfield had for some
time looked with a favourable eye. But he felt very certain that
neither her father nor mother would favor his addresses.
Occasionally, with her parents' knowledge, he would attend her to
places of public amusement. But both himself and the young lady saw
that even this was not a thing that fully met their approbation.
Hatfield would, on such occasions, ingeniously allude to this fact,
and thus gather from Jane how she regarded their coldness. It was
not agreeable to her, he quickly perceived. This encouraged him to
push matters further.

Soon the two understood each other fully, and soon after the tacit
opposition of the parents to their intimacy was a matter of
conversation between them, whenever they could get an opportunity of
talking together without awakening suspicion.

Harriet Meadows and Jane Larkin were particular friends, and soon
became confidants. They were both quite young, and, we need not say,
weak and thoughtless. Sanford and Hatfield, as the reader has seen,
were also intimate. In a short time after the latter had made up
their minds to secure the hands of these two young ladies, if
possible, there was a mutual confession of the fact. This was
followed by the putting of their heads together for the contrivance
of such plans as would best lead to the effectuation of the end each
had proposed to himself. It is a curious fact, that on the very
Sunday afternoon on which we have seen Mr. and Mrs. Larkin
conversing about the danger and impropriety of Harriet Meadows
keeping company with a man like Sanford, their own daughter was
actually riding out with Hatfield. In this ride they passed the
residence of Mr. Meadows, who, in turn, commented upon the fact with
some severity of censure towards Mr. Larkin and his wife for not
looking more carefully after their only child.

"They certainly cannot know it," finally remarked Mr. Meadows.

"No, I should think not. It would be a real charity for some one
just to mention it to them."

"It certainly would."

"Suppose you speak to Mr. Larkin about it," said Mrs. Meadows.

"Me? Oh no!" was the reply. "It is none of my business. I never
meddle with family affairs. It is their duty to look after their
daughter. If they don't, and she rides about with Tom, Dick and
Harry on Sundays, they have no one to blame but themselves for the
consequences."

Thus their responsibility in the affair was dismissed. It was no
business of theirs.

In the mean time the two clerks were laying their plans for carrying
off the young ladies, and marrying them secretly.

"Have you sounded Jane on this subject?" asked Sanford of his friend
one evening, when the matter had come up for serious discussion.

"I have."

"How does she stand?"

"I think there is no doubt of her. But how is Harriet?"

"All right. That point we settled last night. She is ready to go at
any time that Jane is willing to take a similar step. She would
rather not go all alone."

"If she will only second me in urging the absolute necessity of the
thing upon Jane, there can be no doubt of the result. And she will
do that of course."

"Oh yes--all her influence can be calculated upon. But how do you
think Larkin will stand affected after all is over?"

"It's hard to tell. At first he will be as mad as a March hare. But
Jane is his only child, and he loves her too well to cast her off.
All will settle down quietly after a few weeks' ebullition and I
shall be as cosily fixed in the family as I could wish. After that,
my fortune is made. Larkin is worth, to my certain knowledge, fifty
or sixty thousand dollars, every cent of which will in the end come
into my hands. And, besides, Larkin's son-in-law will have to be set
up in business. Give me a fair chance, and I'll turn a bright penny
for myself."

"How are you off for funds at this present time?"

"Low, very low. The old fellow don't pay me half a salary. I'm in
debt three or four hundred dollars, and dunned almost to death
whenever I am in the way of duns. All the people I owe know better
than to send their bills to the store, for if they were to do so,
and by thus exposing me cause me to lose my situation, they are well
aware that they might have to whistle for their money."

"Can't you make a raise some how? We must both have money to carry
out this matter. In the first place, we must go off a hundred or two
miles and spend a week. After we return we may have to board for
weeks at pretty high charges before a reconciliation can be brought
about. During this time you will be out of a situation, for old
Larkin won't take you back into the store until the matter is made
up. You ought at least to have a couple of hundred dollars."

"And I have n't twenty."

"Bad, very bad. But don't you think you could borrow a couple of
hundred from Larkin, and pay him back after you become his
son-in-law?"

"Borrow from Larkin! Goodness! He'd clear me out in less than no
time, if I were to ask him to loan me even fifty dollars."

"No, but you don't understand me," remarked Sanford after a
thoughtful pause. "Can 't you borrow it without his knowledge, I
mean? No harm meant of course. You intend borrowing his daughter,
you know, for a little while, until he consents to give her to you."

Hatfield looked into the face of his tempter with a bewildered air
for some moments. He did not yet fully comprehend his drift.

"How am I to borrow without his knowing it? Figure me that out if
you please," he said.

"Who keeps the cash?"

"I do."

"Ah! so far so good. You keep the cash. Very well. Now is n't it
within the bounds of possibility for you to possess yourself of a
couple of hundred dollars in such a way that the deficit need not
appear? If you can, it will be the easiest thing in the world, after
you come back, and get the handling of a little more money in your
right than has heretofore been the case, to return the little loan."

"But suppose it possible for me thus to get possession of two
hundred dollars, and suppose I do not get back safely after our
adventure, and do not have the handling of more money in my own
right--what then?"

"You'll only be supporting his daughter out of his own money--that
is all."

"Humph! Quite a casuist."

"But is n't there reason in it?"

"I do n't know. I am not exactly in a state to see reasons clearly
just now."

"You can see the necessity of having a couple of hundred dollars, I
suppose?"

"Oh yes--as clear as mud."

"You must have that sum at least, or to proceed will be the height
of folly."

"I can see that too."

"It is owing to Larkin's mean pride that you are driven to this
extremity. He ought to pay for it."

"But how am I to get hold of two hundred dollars? That's the
question."

"Is there ordinarily much cash on hand?"

"Yes. We deposit some days as high as ten thousand dollars;
particularly at this season, when a good many merchants are in."

"The chance is fair enough. Two hundred won't be missed."

"No, not until the cash is settled, and then it will come to light."

"That does n't follow."

"I think it does."

"You may prevent it."

"How?"

"Miss a couple of tens in your additions on the debit side of the
cash book. Do you understand?"

"Not clearly."

"You are dull. Change a figure in footing up your cash book, so that
it will balance, notwithstanding a deficit of two hundred dollars.
After you come back, this can be set right again. No one will think
of adding up the back columns to see if there is any fraud."

"After Sanford ceased speaking, his friend cast his eyes to the
floor, and reflected for some time. There was in his mind a powerful
struggle between right and wrong. When the plan was first presented,
he felt an inward shrinking from it. It involved an act of fraud,
that, if found out, would blast his character. But the longer he
reflected, and the more fully he looked in the face of the fact that
without money he could not proceed to the consummation of his
wishes, the more favorable the plan seemed.

"But," he said, lifting his eyes and drawing a long breath, "if it
should be found out?"

"Larkin will not expose his son-in-law for his daughter's sake."

"True--there is something there to hope for. Well, I will think of
it. I must have two hundred dollars from some source."

And he did think of it to evil purpose. He found no very great
difficulty in getting Jane to consent to run away with him,
especially as her particular friend, Harriet Meadows, was to
accompany her on a like mad-cap expedition with Sanford.

Nothing occurred to prevent the acts proposed. By false entries,
Hatfield was enabled to abstract two hundred dollars in a way that
promised a perfect concealment of the fraud, although in doing it he
felt much reluctance and many compunctions of conscience.

About ten days after the conversation between the young men, just
given, Jane Larkin obtained her mother's consent to spend a few days
with a cousin who resided some miles from the city on a road along
which one of the omnibus lines passed. Harriet Meadows did not use
this precaution to elude suspicion. She left her father's house at
the time agreed upon, and joined young Sanford at an appointed
place, where a carriage was waiting, into which Hatfield and Jane
had already entered. The two couples then proceeded to the house of
an alderman, who united them in marriage bonds. From thence they
drove to a railroad depot, took passage for a neighboring city, and
were soon gliding away, a suspicion unawakened in the minds of the
young ladies' friends.

The absence of Harriet on the night following alarmed the fears and
awakened the suspicions of her father and mother. Early on the next
day, Mr. Meadows learned that his daughter had been seen entering
the ---- cars in company with young Sanford. Calling upon Millard, he
ascertained that Sanford had not been to the store on the previous
day, and was still absent. To merge suspicion and doubt into
certainty, the alderman who had married the couples was met
accidentally. He testified to the fact of his having united them.
Sick at heart, Mr. Meadows returned home to communicate the sad
intelligence to the mother of Harriet. When he again went out, he
was met by the startling rumor that a defalcation had been
discovered on the part of young Sanford to a large amount. Hurrying
to the store of Mr. Millard, he was shocked to find that the rumor
was but, alas! too true. Already false entries in the cash book had
been discovered to the amount of at least five thousand dollars. An
officer, he also learned, had been despatched to ----, for the
purpose of arresting the dishonest clerk and bringing him back to
justice.

"Quite an affair this," remarked Larkin to an acquaintance whom he
met some time during the day, in a half-serious, half-indifferent
tone.

"About Meadows' daughter and Sanford? Yes, and rather a melancholy
affair. The worst part of it is, that the foolish young man has been
embezzling the money of his employer."

"Yes, that is very bad. But Millard might have known that Sanford
could not dash about and spend money as he did upon his salary
alone."

"I do n't suppose he knew any thing about his habits. He is an
unsuspicious man, and keeps himself quietly at home when not in his
store."

"Well, I did then. I saw exactly how he was going on, and could have
told him; but it wasn't any of my business."

"I do n't care so much for Millard or his clerk as I do for the
foolish girl and her parents. Her happiness is gone and theirs with
it."

"Ah, yes--that is the worst part. But they might have known that
something of the kind would take place. They were together a good
deal, and were frequently to be seen riding out on Sunday
afternoons."

"This was not with the knowledge of her parents, I am sure."

"I do n't suppose it was. Still they should have looked more
carefully after their child. I knew it and could have told them how
things were going--but it was n't any of my business. I always keep
myself clear from these matters."

Just at this moment a third person came up. He looked serious.

"Mr. Larkin," he said, "I have just heard that your daughter and
Hatfield, your clerk, were married at the same time that Sanford
was, and went off with that young man and his bride. Alderman ----,
it is said, united them."

Larkin turned instantly pale. Hatfield had been away since the
morning of the day before, and his daughter was not at home, having
asked the privilege of going to see a cousin who resided a few miles
from the city. A call upon Alderman ---- confirmed the afflicting
intelligence. The father returned home to communicate the news to
his wife, on whom it fell with such a shock that she became quite
ill.

"He might have known that something of this kind would have
happened," remarked the person who had communicated the
intelligence, as soon as Larkin had left. "No man who does n't wish
his daughters to marry his clerks, ought to let them go to balls and
concerts together, and ride out when they please on Sunday
afternoons."

"Did Larkin permit this with Jane and Hatfield?"

"They were often thus together whether he permitted it or not."

"He could n't have known it."

"Perhaps not. I could have given him a hint on the subject, if I had
chosen--but it was none of my business."

On the next day all the parties came home--Sanford compulsorily, in
the hands of an officer; Hatfield voluntarily, and in terrible
alarm. The two brides were of course included. Sanford soon after
left the city, and has not since been heard of. His crime was
"breach of trust!" As for Hatfield, he was received on the principle
that, in such matters, the least said the soonest mended. In the
course of a few months he was able to restore the two hundred
dollars he had abstracted. After this was done he felt easier in
mind. He did not, however, make the foolish creature he had married
happy. Externally, or to the world, they seem united, but internally
they are not conjoined. Too plainly is this apparent to the father
and mother, who have many a heart-ache for their dearly loved child.



THE MOTHER'S PROMISE.


A LADY, handsomely dressed, was about leaving her house to make a
few calls, when a little boy ran out from the nursery, and clasping
one of her gloved hands in both of his, looked up into her face with
a glance of winning entreaty, saying, as he did so:

"Mamma! dear mamma! Won't you buy me a picture-book, just like
cousin Edie's?"

"Yes, love," was the unhesitating reply; and the lady stooped to
kiss the sweet lips of her child.

"Eddy must be a good boy, and mind nurse while mamma is away," she
added.

"I'll be so good," replied Eddy, with all the earnestness of a
childish purpose. "You may ask nurse when you come home, if I have
not been the goodest little boy that ever was."

Mrs. Herbert kissed her darling boy again, and then went forth to
make her morning round of calls. Eddy returned to the nursery,
strong in his purpose, to be a good boy, as he had promised.

"Such a dear little picture-book as mamma is going to bring me
home," he said to nurse, as he leaned his arms against her, and
looked up into her face. "Oh! won't I be so glad. It's to be just
like cousin Edie's. Mamma said so; and cousin Edie's book is so
beautiful. I 've wanted one ever since I was there. Is'nt mamma
good?"

"Yes, Eddy," replied the nurse, "your mamma is very good; and you
should love her so much, and do everything she tells you to do."

"I do love her," said the child. "Oh, I love her more than all the
world; and I'm going to mind every thing she says."

Then the child went to his play, and was happy with his toys. But
his thoughts were on the picture-book, and pleasantly his young
imagination lingered amid its attractive pages.

"Is'nt it 'most time for mother to be home?" he asked, at the end of
half an hour, coming to the side of his nurse, and gazing up into
her face.

"Why no, child," replied the nurse, "not for a long while yet."

Eddy looked disappointed. But that instant the door bell rung.

"There's mamma!" exclaimed the child, clapping his hands; and before
nurse could restrain him, he had bounded from the room, and his
little feet were heard pattering down the stairs. Slowly he came
back, after a little while, and with a look of disappointment on his
sweet young face, entered the nursery, saying, as he did so:

"It was only a man with brooms to sell."

"Your mamma won't be home for a long time yet, Eddy," said his
nurse, "so it is of no use for you to expect her. Go and build block
houses again."

"I'm tired of block houses," replied the little boy, "and now that
mamma has promised me a picture-book like cousin Edie's I can't
think of anything else."

"Oh, well," said nurse, a little impatiently, "she'll be home in
good time. Try and not think of the book. It won't do any good--it
won't bring her home a minute sooner."

"I can't help thinking of it," persisted the child, in whom the
imaginative faculty was unusually, strong for one of his age.

In a little while, however, something occurred to interest him, and
a full hour elapsed before he again recurred to his mother and the
expected picture book. As best she could, his nurse diverted his
mind, and kept him, in a measure, occupied with what was around him.
At length it was full time for Mrs. Herbert to return. Eddy had
ceased to find interest in anything appertaining to the nursery. He
went down into the parlor, and seating himself at the window,
watched, with childish eagerness, for the form of his mother.

Strange as it may seem to the reader, Mrs. Herbert had scarcely
passed into the street, ere her promise was forgotten. Not that she
was indifferent to the happiness of her child--not that she was a
heartless mother. Far very far from this. Purely and truly did she
love this sweet boy. But, so much were her thoughts interested in
other things, that she did not, at the time, comprehend the
earnestness of his childish wishes; nor think of her promise as a
sacred thing. The request for a picture book seemed to her but the
expression of a sudden thought, that passed from his mind as soon as
uttered. And yet, she had not promised without intending to meet the
wishes of her child, for she was an indulgent mother, and rarely
said "No," to any request that might reasonably be gratified. She
had noticed Cousin Edie's pretty book, and thought that she would,
some time or other, get one like it for Eddy. The child's request
but seconded this thought. There was will, therefore, in her
promise. She meant to do as she had said.

But things of more interest to Mrs. Herbert, than the simple wish of
a child, so fully occupied her mind from the time she left her own
door, that she never again thought of the book, until she saw Eddy's
dear face at the window. It was serious, and slightly impatient, as
if he were wearied with watching and waiting; but the moment his
eyes rested upon her form, his whole countenance brightened, as
though lit up by a sunbeam. Almost as soon as Mrs. Herbert's hand
touched the bell, the street door was thrown open, and the glad
child stood, like a rebuking spirit, before her.

"Where's my book, mamma? Give me my book, mamma! Oh, I'm so glad
you've come!"

Now, the first conviction of wrong, often has an irritating effect
upon the mind, obscuring its perceptions, and leading, sometimes, to
the impulsive commission of greater wrongs. It was so in the present
case. The happy countenance of her child did not bring joy to the
mother's heart; for she knew that with a word, she must dash to the
ground all his buoyant anticipations. And she remembered, too, at
the moment, how poorly he could bear disappointment.

"Eddy, dear," said Mrs. Herbert, taking her little boy by the hand,
and advancing toward the parlor door with him, "Eddy, dear, let me
tell you something."

Her grave tone and look caused a shiver to pass inward toward the
heart of the child. He understood, but too well, that the mother,
whose word he had trusted so implicitly, had been faithless to her
promise.

Poor child! even this advancing shadow of a coming disappointment,
darkened his young face and filled his eyes with tears.

Mrs. Herbert sat down on the nearest chair, as she entered the
parlor, and drew Eddy to her side. She saw, from his sad face, that
words were not required to make him aware that the promised book was
not in her possession; and she knew, from former experience, that
trouble was before her. Unhappily, she did not feel softened, but
rather irritated, toward the child.

"Eddy," she said firmly, yet with as much tenderness as she could
assume, "Eddy, you know you promised me to be such a good boy."

"And I have been good," eagerly answered the little fellow, lifting
his swimming eyes to her face, "you may ask nurse if I havn't been
good all the time."

"I'm sure you have," said Mrs. Herbert, touched by the manner of her
child; "and yet, Eddy, I have not brought your book."

The tears, which had been ready to start, now gushed over his face,
and a low cry pained the mother's ears.

"Eddy," said she, seriously, "let me tell you about it. You must
listen to reason."

Reason! poor, disappointed little one! He had no ear for the
comprehension of reasons.

"Now, Eddy! I can't have this!" Mrs. Herbert spoke firmly, for
already the child was weeping bitterly. "Crying will do no good. I
promised you the book, and you shall have it. I had no opportunity
to get it this morning. Come now! you must stop at once, or I----"

Mrs. Herbert did not utter the threat which came to her lips; for
her mind shrunk from the thought of punishing her child, especially
as his fault was a consequence of her own actions. But, as he
continued to cry on, and in a louder voice, she not only began to
feel excessively annoyed, but deemed it her duty to compel a
cessation of what could do no possible good, but rather harm.

"Eddy, you must stop this crying!" Firmness had changed to
sternness.

The words might as well not have been spoken.

"Then you are not going to stop!" The tones were angry now; and, as
Mrs. Herbert uttered them, she caught the arm of her child with a
tight grip.

At this moment, the sound of the latch-key was heard in the street
door. It was dinner time, and Mr. Herbert entered.

"Bless us! what's the trouble here?" the father of Eddy exclaimed,
good-naturedly, as he presented himself in the parlor.

"The trouble is," said Mrs. Herbert, in a fretful voice, "that I
promised to buy him a book, and forgot all about it."

"Oho! Is that all?" Mr. Herbert spoke cheerfully. "This trouble can
soon be healed. Come, dear, and let us see what I can do for you."

And Mr. Herbert drew forth a small, square packet, and began untying
the string, with which it was bound. Eddy ceased crying in an
instant, while a rainbow light shone through his tears. Soon a book
came to view. It was _the_ book. Singularly enough, Mr. Herbert had,
that morning, observed it in a store, and thinking it would please
his child, had bought it for him.

"Will that do?" he said, handing the book to Eddy.

What a gush of gladness came to the child's face. A moment or two he
stood, like one bewildered, and then throwing his arms around his
father's neck and hugging him tightly, he said, in the fullness of
his heart,

"Oh! you are a dear good papa! I do love you so much!"

Ere the arms of Eddy were unclasped from his father's neck, Mrs.
Herbert had left the room. When, on the ringing of the dinner bell,
she joined her husband and child at the table, her countenance wore
a sober aspect, and there were signs of tears about her eyes. What
her thoughts had been, every true mother can better imagine than we
describe. That they were salutary, may be inferred from the fact
that no promise, not even the lightest, was ever afterwards made to
her child, which was not righteously kept to the very letter.



THE TWO HUSBANDS.


"Jane, how _can_ you tolerate that dull, spiritless creature? I
never sat by his side for five minutes, without getting sleepy."

"He does not seem so very dull to me, Cara," replied her companion.

"It is a true saying, that there never was a Jack without a Jill;
but I could not have believed that my friend Jane Emory would have
been willing to be the Jill to such a Jack."

A slight change was perceptible in the countenance of Jane Emory,
and for a moment the color deepened on her cheek. But when she spoke
in reply to her friend's remark, no indication that she felt its
cutting import, was perceptible.

"I am convinced, from close observation of Walter Gray," said Jane,
"that he has in his character that which should ever protect him
from jest or ridicule."

"And what is that, my lady Jane?"

"Right thoughts and sound principles."

"Fiddle stick!"

"These should not only be respected, but honored wherever found,"
said Jane, gravely.

"In a bear or a boor!" Cara responded, in a tone of irony.

"My friend Cara is ungenerous in her allusions. Surely, she will not
assert that Walter Gray is a bear or a boor?"

"He is boorish enough, at any rate."

"There I differ with you, Cara. His manner is not so showy, nor his
attentions to the many little forms and observances of social life,
so prompt as to please the fastidious in these matters. These
defects, however, are not defects of character, but of education. He
has not mingled enough in society to give him confidence."

"They are defects, and are serious enough to make him quite
offensive to me. Last evening, at Mrs. Clinton's party, I sat beside
him for half an hour, and was really disgusted with his marked
disregard of the little courtesies of social life."

"Indeed!" replied Jane, her manner becoming more serious, "and in
what did these omissions consist?"

"Why, in the first place, while we were conversing,----"

"He could converse, then?" said Jane, interrupting her friend.

"O, no, I beg pardon! While we were _trying_ to converse--for among
his other defects is an inability to talk to a lady on any subject
of interest--I dropped my handkerchief, on purpose, of course, but
he never offered to lift it for me; indeed, I doubt whether he saw
it at all."

"Then, Cara, how could you expect him to pick it up for you, if he
did not see it?"

"But he ought to have seen it. He should have had his eyes about
him; and so should every gentleman who sits by or is near a lady. I
know one that never fails."

"And pray, who is the perfect gentleman?" asked Jane smiling. "Is he
one of my acquaintances?"

"Certainly he is. I mean Charles Wilton."

"He is, I must confess, different from Walter Gray," Jane remarked,
drily.

"I hope he is!" said Cara, tossing her head, for she felt that
something by no means complimentary was implied in the equivocal
remark of her friend.

"But, seriously, Cara, I must, in turn, express regret that you
allow yourself to feel interested in one like Charles Wilton. Trust
me, my friend, he is unworthy of your regard."

"And pray, Miss," said Cara, warming suddenly, "what do you know of
Charles Wilton, that will warrant your throwing out such
insinuations against him?"

"Little beyond what I have learned by my own observation."

"And what has that taught you? I should like very much to know."

"It has taught me, Cara," replied Jane, seriously, "to estimate him
very lightly indeed. From what I have seen, I am convinced that he
possesses neither fixed principles nor any decision of character. In
the world, without these a man is like a ship upon the ocean, having
neither helm nor compass."

"You make broad and bold charges, Jane. But I am sure you are
mistaken."

"I may be. But so certain am I that I am right, that I would rather
die this hour than be compelled to link my lot in life with his.
Certain I am that I should make shipwreck of hope and affection."

"You deal in riddles, Jane. Speak out more plainly."

"Surely, Cara, long before this you have or ought to have
discovered, that Charles Wilton exhibits far too much love of
appearance for a sensible man. He dresses in the very best style and
may be able to afford it; but that is not all;--he evidently esteems
these external embellishments of superior importance to mental or
moral endowments. He rarely fails to remark upon men not so well
dressed as himself, and to refer to the defect as one sufficient to
make the individual contemptible, no matter what may be the
circumstances or merit of the person referred to. I have more than
once noticed that Charles Wilton passes over every thing in his
disgust for defect in dress."

"I do not see a matter of serious importance in that," said Cara.
"His love of dress is a mere foible, that may be excused. It
certainly has nothing to do with his real character."

"It is an indication of the man's true character," her friend
replied. "I am sure that I want no plainer exhibition. If he was
simply fond of dress, and indulged in that fondness even to the
extent he now does it might indicate a mere weakness of character,
in the form of an undue love of admiration. But when, to this, we
see a disposition to value others, and to judge of them by their
garments, then we may be sure that there is a serious defect of
character. The man, Cara, believe me, who has no higher standard of
estimation for other men, than the form, manner, and texture of
their garments, has not the capacity rightly to value a woman or to
know wherein her true merit lies. This is _one_ of the reasons why I
said that I would rather die than link my lot in life with that
young man."

"Well, as for me, Jane, I am sure that I would rather have a man
with some spirit in him, than to be tied to such a drone as Walter
Gray. Why, I should die in a week. I can't for my life, see how you
can enjoy his society for a moment!"

"I should think any woman ought to be able to enjoy the company of a
man of sense," Jane remarked, quietly.

"Surely, Jane, you don't pretend by that to set up Walter Gray as
the superior of Charles Wilton in regard to intelligence?"

"Certainly I do, Cara."

"Why, Jane! There is no comparison, in this respect, between them.
Every one knows that while Walter is dull, even to stupidity,
Charles has a brilliant, well-informed mind. It is only necessary to
hear each converse for an hour, to decide upon their respective
merits."

"In that last sentence you have uttered the truth, Cara, but the
result would depend much upon the character of the listeners. For a
time, no doubt, if Charles made an effort to show off, he would
eclipse the less brilliant and unobtrusive Walter. But a close and
discriminating observer would soon learn to judge between sound and
sense, between borrowed thoughts and truthful sentiments originating
in a philosophical and ever active mind. The shallow stream runs
sparkling and flashing in the sunlight, while the deeper waters lie
dark and unattractive."

Cara shook her head as her friend ceased speaking, and replied,
laughingly--

"You can beat me at talking, Jane--but all your philosophy and
poetry can't make me think Charles Wilton less brilliant and
sensible, or Walter Gray less dull and spiritless."

The two young men whose merits Jane Emory and Cara Linton had thus
been discussing, had been law students for some years in the same
office, and were now just admitted to practice at the bar in one of
our Atlantic cities. They were friends, though altogether unlike
each other. Walter Gray was modest and retiring, while Charles
Wilton was a dashing, off-hand kind of a fellow, with more
pretensions than merit. The mind of Walter was rather sluggish,
while that of his friend was quick, and what some were disposed to
esteem brilliant. The one was fond of dress and show, and effect;
while the other paid less regard to these things than was really
necessary to make him, with many, an agreeable companion. But the
quick perceptions of the one were not equal to the patient, untiring
application of the other. When admitted to practice, Wilton could
make an effective, brilliant speech, and in ordinary cases, where an
appeal to the feelings could influence a jury, was uniformly
successful. But, where profound investigation, concise reasoning,
and a laborious array of authorities were requisite, he was no
competitor for his friend Gray. He was vain of his personal
appearance, as has before been indicated, and was also fond of
pleasure and company. In short, he was one of those dashing young
men to be met with in all professions, who look upon business as an
necessary evil, to be escaped whenever a opportunity offers--whose
expectations of future prosperity are always large, and who look for
success, not in the roads of patient, laborious application, but by
a quicker and more brilliant way. They hope to produce a sensation
by their tact or talents, and thus take fortune by storm. Few,
indeed we might say none, of this class succeed. Those who startle a
community by rapid advances, are, in all cases, such as have, to
quick perceptions and brilliant powers, added much labor. Talent is
nothing without prolonged and patient application; and they who
suppose the road to success lies in any other way, may discover
their error too late.

The estimation in which the characters of these two young men was
held, at least by two individuals, the preceding conversation has
apprised the reader. Each made his impression upon a certain order
of mind, and each was regarded, or lightly esteemed accordingly.
Although in talents and in a right estimation of life and its true
ends, the two young men were altogether dissimilar; yet were they
friends, and in many respects intimate. Why they were so, we shall
not stop to enquire, but proceed to introduce them more particularly
to the reader.

"I suppose you are going to Mrs. Melton's this evening?" said Wilton
to his friend, a few weeks after the period indicated in the opening
of this story.

"I feel as if I would like to go. A social evening, now and then, I
find pleasant, and I have no doubt it is useful to me."

"That is right, Walter. I am glad to see you coming out of your
recluse habits. You want the polish and ease that social life will
give you."

"I feel that, Wilton. But I fear I am too old now to have all the
rough corners knocked off, and worn smooth."

"O, don't despair. You'll make a ladies' man after awhile, if you
persevere, and become more particular in your dress. But, to change
the subject, a little, tell me what you think of Cara Linton? Her
father is worth a plum, and she is just the showy, brilliant woman,
of which a man like me ought to be proud of."

"As you ask me, Charles, I must reply candidly. I would think her a
dear bargain with all her father's money thrown in with her; and as
to your other reasons for thinking of her as a wife, I consider
them, to speak plainly, as I always do to you, despicable!"

"And why so, Mr. Philosopher?"

"A wife should be chosen from much higher considerations than these.
What do you want with a brilliant, showy wife? You marry, or ought
to marry, a companion for yourself--not a woman for the world to
admire."

"You are too matter-of-fact, by half, Walter. Your common sense
ideas, as you call them, will keep you grubbing in a mole hill all
your life.

"I should like to see the woman _you_ would choose for a wife!"

"I wish you had a few of these common sense ideas you despise so
much. I am afraid, Charles, that the time is not very distant when
you will stand sadly in need of them."

"Don't trouble yourself, Walter. I'll take care of number one. Let
me alone for that. But, I should like to know your serious
objections to Cara? You sweep her aside with one wave of your hand,
as if she were too insignificant to be thought of for a moment."

"I said that _I_ should consider her a dear bargain, and so I
would--for she would not suit me at all."

"Ah, there I believe you. But come, let me hear why she would not
suit you."

"Because she has no correct and common sense estimation of life and
its relations. She is full of poetry and romance, and fashion, and
show, and 'all that kind of thing;' none of which, without a great
deal of the salt of common sense, would suit me."

"Common sense! Common sense! Common sense! That is your hobby.
Verily, Walter, you are a monomaniac on the subject of common sense;
but, as for me, I will leave common sense to common people. I go in
for uncommon sense."

"The poorest and most unprofitable sense of all, let me tell you.
And one of these days you will discover it to be so."

"It is no use for us to compare our philosophical notes, I see
plainly enough," Wilton responded. "We shall never view things in
the same light. You are not the man of the world you should be,
Walter. Men of half your merit will eclipse you, winning opulence
and distinction--while you, with your common sense notions, will be
plodding on at a snail's pace. You are behind the age, and a
stranger to its powerful, onward impulses."

"And ever do I desire to remain behind the age, Wilton, if mere
pretension and show be its ruling and impulsive spirit."

"The old fashioned way of attaining eminence," Charles Wilton
replied, assuming an attitude and speaking out truly the thoughts
that were in his mind; "by plodding on with the emmet's patience,
and storing up knowledge, grain by grain, brings not the hoped for
reward, now. You must startle and surprise. The brilliant meteor
attracts a thousand times more attention, than the brightest star
that shines in the firmament."

"You are trifling, Charles."

"Never was more in earnest in my life. I have made up my mind to
succeed; to be known and envied. And to gain the position of
eminence I desire, I mean to take the surest way. The world _will_
be deceived, and, therefore, they who would succeed must throw dust
in people's eyes."

"Or, in other words, deceive them by pretension. Charles, let me
warn you against any such unmanly, and, I must say, dishonest
course. Be true to yourself and true to principle."

"I shall certainly be true to myself, Walter. For what pray do we
toil over dry and musty law books in a confined office, months and
years, if not to gain the power of rising in the world? I have
served my dreary apprenticeship--I have learnt the art and mystery,
and now for the best and most certain mode of applying it."

"But, remember your responsibility to society. Your----"

"Nonsense! What do I, or what does any one else care about society?
My motto is, Every one for himself, and the deuce take the hindmost.
And that's the motto of the whole world."

"Not of the whole world, Charles."

"Yes, of the whole world, with, perhaps, the single, strange
exception of Walter Gray. And he will be flung to the wall, and soon
forgotten, I fear."

"You jest on a serious subject, Charles."

"I tell you, Walter, I am in earnest," Wilton replied with emphasis.
"He that would be ahead, must get ahead in the best way possible.
But I cannot linger here. It is now nearly night; and it will take
me full two hours to prepare myself to meet Miss Cara Linton. I must
make a captive of the dashing maiden this very evening." And so
saying, he turned, and left the office.

That evening, amid a gay and fashionable assemblage at Mrs.
Merton's, was to be seen the showy Charles Wilton, with his easy,
and even elegant manners, attracting almost as much attention as his
vain heart could desire. And the quiet, sensible Walter Gray was
there also, looking upon all things with a calm, philosophic mien.

"Your friend Mr. Wilton is quite the centre of attraction for the
young ladies, this evening," remarked Jane Emory, who was leaning
upon the arm of Walter Gray, and listening with an interest she
scarcely dared confess to herself, to his occasional remarks, that
indicated a mind active with true and healthful thought.

"And he seems to enjoy it," replied Walter, with a pleasant tone and
smile.

"Almost too much so, it seems to me, for a man," his companion said,
though with nothing censorious in her manner. She merely expressed a
sentiment without showing that it excited unkind feelings.

"Or for a woman, either," was the quick response.

"True. But if pleased with attentions, and even admiration may we
not be excused?"

"O, certainly. We may all be excused for our weaknesses; still they
are weaknesses, after all."

"And therefore should not be encouraged."

"Certainly not. We should be governed by some higher end than the
mere love of admiration--even admiration for good qualities."

"I admit the truth of what you say, and yet, the state is one to
which I have not yet attained."

Walter Gray turned a look full of tender interest upon the maiden by
his side, as she ceased speaking, and said in a tone that had in it
much of tenderness,

"You express, Miss Emory, but the feeling which every one has who
truly desires the attainment of true excellence of character. We
have not this excellence, naturally, but it is within the compass of
effort. Like you, I have had to regret the weaknesses and
deficiencies of my own character. But, in self-government, as in
everything else, my motto is, Persevere to the end. The same motto,
or the same rule of action, clothed in other words, perhaps, I
trust--nay, I am sure, rules in your mind."

For a few moments Jane did not reply. She feared to utter any form
of words that would mislead. At length she said, modestly,

"I try to subdue in me what is evil, or that which seems to me to
act in opposition to good principles."

Before Walter Gray, pleased with the answer, could frame in his mind
a fitting reply, Charles Wilton, with Cara Linton on his arm, was
thrown in front of them.

"Has Walter been edifying you with one of the Psalms of David, Miss
Emory?" said Wilton, gaily. "One would think so from his solemn
face, and the demure, thoughtful expression of yours."

Neither Walter nor his fair companion were what is called
quick-witted; and both were so checked in their thoughts and
feelings that neither could, on the moment, fitly reply.

"O, I see how it is," the gay young man continued. "He has been
reading you some of his moral homilies, and you are tired to death.
Well, you must bear with him, Miss Emory, he will learn better after
awhile." And the young man and his thoughtless companion turned
laughing away.

For a few moments the disturbed thoughts of Walter and his fair
friend, trembled upon the surface of their feelings, and then all
was again as tranquil as the bosom of a quiet lake.

Enough has now been said, to give a fair idea of the ends which the
two young men, we have introduced, set before them upon entering
life. Let us now proceed to trace the effects of these ends;
effects, which, as a necessary consequence, involved others as much
as themselves.



CHAPTER II.


"Well, Gray, the business is all settled," said Wilton, one day,
coming into the office of the individual he addressed so familiarly.

"What business, Charles?"

"Why, I've won the rich and beautiful Miss Linton. Last night I told
my story, and was referred to the old man, of course. I have just
seen him, and he says I am welcome to the hand of his daughter. Now,
is not that a long stride up the ladder! The most beautiful and
attractive woman in the city for a wife, and an old daddy in law as
rich as Croesus!"

"You are what some would call a lucky dog," said Wilton, with a
smile.

"And yet there is no luck in it. 'Faint heart, they say, 'never won
fair lady.' I knew half-a-dozen clever fellows who were looking to
Miss Linton's hand; but while they hesitated, I stepped boldly up
and carried off the prize. Let me alone, Walter. I'll work my way
through the world."

"And I, too, have been doing something in that line."

"You? Why, Walter, you confound me! I never dreamed that you would
have the courage to make love to a woman."

"Wiser ones than you are mistaken, sometimes."

"No doubt of it. But who is the fair lady?"

"Can you not guess?"

"Jane Emory?"

"Of course. She is the most sensible women it has yet been my
fortune to meet."

"Has the best common sense, I suppose?"

"Exactly."

"You are a genius, Walter. When you die, I expect you will leave a
clause in your will, to the effect that the undertaker shall be a
man of good, plain, common sense. O dear! What a dull life you will
lead! Darby and Joan!"

"You are still a trifler with serious matters, Charles. But time
will sober you, I trust, and do it before such a change will come
too late."

"How much is old Emory worth, Walter?" Wilton asked, without
regarding the last remark of his friend.

"I am sure I do not know. Not a great deal, I suppose."

"You don't know?"

"No; how should I?"

"Well, you are a queer one! It is time that you did then, let me
tell you."

"Why so?"

"In the name of sense, Walter, what are you going to marry his
daughter for."

"Because I love her."

"Pah! I know how much of that sort of thing appertains to the
business."

"Charles!"

"Don't look so utterly dumfounded, friend Walter."

"I am surprised, and I must say pained, to hear you speak thus.
Surely you love the young lady you propose to marry?"

"Of course. But then I have a decent regard for her old father's
wealth; and I am by no means insensible to her personal attractions.
I group all that is desirable into one grand consideration--beauty,
wealth, standing, mental endowments, etc.,--and take her for the
whole. But for love--a mere impulse that will die of itself, if left
alone,--to marry a young lady! O no,--I am not the simpleton for
that!"

Walter Gray looked his friend in the face for a moment or two, but
did not reply. He was pained, even shocked at his levity.

"You seem really to doubt my being in earnest?" said Wilton, after a
pause.

"I would doubt, if I could, Charles. But I fear you are speaking out
too truly, sentiments that I could not have believed you capable of
entertaining."

"You are too simple and unsophisticated to live in this world, my
old friend Walter Gray."

"And long may I remain so," was the calm response, "if to be honest
and sincere is to be simple and unsophisticated."

"Well, good morning to you, and success to your love marriage."

And so saying, Charles Wilton left the office of his friend.

A few weeks more passed away, and the two young men had, in the
meantime, consummated their matrimonial engagements. The wedding of
Charles Wilton and Cara Linton was a splendid affair, succeeded by
parties and entertainments for five or six weeks. That of Walter
Gray and Jane Emory passed off more quietly and rationally.

Three months after their wedding-day, let us look in upon the two
friends and their fair partners; and first, upon Charles Wilton and
his bride. The time is evening, and they are sitting alone in one of
their richly furnished parlors.

"O dear!" yawned out Wilton, rising and walking backwards and
forwards, "this is dull work. Is there no place where we can go and
spend a pleasant evening?"

"I don't know, dear. Suppose we step over and see Pa?"

"O no. We were there two or three evenings ago. And, any how, I am
in no humor for playing at draughts."

"Well, I should like to go there this evening. I want to see Ma
about something."

"You can easily go to-morrow, Cara, and stay as long as you choose."

"But I should like to go to night, dear."

"Don't think of it, Cara."

"Then suppose we call in and sit an hour with the Melton's?"

"Not to-night, Cara. The old man is deaf, and talks you out of all
patience about sugars and teas cotton and tobacco."

"But the girls are lively and entertaining."

"Not for me, Cara. Think again."

"Why not stay at home?"

"And pray what shall we do here?"

"I'll sing and play for you."

"I am in no humor for music to-night."

His young wife sighed, but Wilton did not notice it.

"Come, let us go over to the Grogans?" he at length said.

"I can't say that I care much about going there," his wife replied.

"Of course not. You never seem to care much about going where I wish
to," said Wilton, pettishly.

His wife burst into tears, and sat sobbing for some minutes, during
which time Wilton paced the room backwards and forwards, in moody
silence. After a while his wife rose up and stole quietly from the
room, and in a few minutes returned, dressed, to go out.

"I am ready," she said.

"Ready to go where?"

"To Mr. Grogan's, of course. You wish to go."

"I don't care about going now, as long as you are unwilling."

"Yes, but I am willing, Charles, if the visit will be pleasant to
you."

"O, as to that, I don't wish to compel you to go anywhere."

"Indeed, Charles, I am willing to go," said his wife, while her
voice trembled and sounded harshly. "Come, now that I am ready. I
wish to go."

For a moment longer Wilton hesitated, and then took up his hat and
went with her. Few were the words that passed between them as they
walked along the street. Arrived at their friend's house they both
suddenly changed, and were as gay, and seemed as happy, as the
gayest and the happiest.

"Shall we call in upon some pleasant friends to-night or spend our
evening alone?" asked Walter Gray, taking a seat upon the sofa
beside his happy wife, on the same evening that the foregoing
conversation and incidents occurred.

"Let it be as you wish, Walter," was the affectionate, truthful
reply.

"As for me, Jane, I am always happy at home--too happy, I sometimes
think."

"How, too happy?"

"Too happy to think of others, Jane. We must be careful not to
become isolated and selfish in our pleasures. Our social character
must not be sacrificed. If it is in our power to add to the
happiness of others, it is right that we should mingle in the social
circle."

"I feel the truth of what you say, Walter, and yet I find it hard to
be thus unselfish. I am sure that I would a thousand times rather
remain at home and read with you a pleasant book, or sing and play
for you, than to spend an evening away from our pleasant home."

"I feel the same inclinations. But I am unwilling to encourage them.
And yet, I am not an advocate for continual visitings. The delights
of our own sweet fireside, small though the circle be, I would enjoy
often. But these pleasures will be increased tenfold by our
willingness to let others share them, and, also, by our joining in
their home--delights and social recreations."

A pause of a few moments ensued, when Mrs. Gray said,

"Suppose, then, Walter, we call over and see how they are getting on
at 'home?' Pa and Ma are lonesome, now that I am away."

"Just what I was thinking of, Jane. So get on your things, and we
will join them and spend a pleasant evening."

These brief conversations will indicate to the reader how each of
the young men and their wives were thus early beginning to reap the
fruits of true and false principles of action. We cannot trace each
on his career, step by step, during the passage of many years,
though much that would interest and instruct could be gathered from
their histories. The limits of a brief story like this will not
permit us thus to linger. On, then, to the grand result of their
lives we must pass. Let us look at the summing up of the whole
matter, and see which of the young men started with the true secret
of success in the world, and which of the young ladies evinced most
wisdom in her choice of a husband.



CHAPTER III.


"Poor Mrs. Wilton!" remarked Mrs. Gray, now a cheerful, intelligent
woman of forty, with half-a-dozen grown and half-grown up daughters,
"it makes me sad whenever I see her, or think of her."

"Her husband was not kind to her, I believe, while she lived with
him," said Mrs. Gray's visitor, whom she had addressed.

"It is said so. But I am sure I do not know. I never liked him, nor
thought him a man of principle. I said as much as I thought prudent
to discourage her from receiving his attentions. But she was a gay
girl herself, and was attracted by dashing pretension, rather than
by unobtrusive merit."

"It was thought at one time that Mr. Wilton would lead in the
profession here. I remember when his name used frequently to get
into the newspapers, coupled with high compliments on his brilliant
talents."

"Yes. He flashed before the eyes of the crowd for awhile, but it was
soon discovered that he had more brilliancy than substance. The loss
of two or three important cases, that required solid argument and a
well-digested array of facts and authorities, instead of flights of
fancy and appeals to the feelings, ruined his standing at the bar.
The death of his father-in-law, with an insolvent estate,
immediately after, took wonderfully from the estimation in which he
was held. Thrown, thus, suddenly back, and upon his own resources,
he sunk at once from the point of observation, and lingered around
the court-house, picking up petty cases, as a matter of necessity.
Long before this, I had noticed that Mrs. Wilton had greatly
changed. But now a sadder change took place--a separation from her
husband. The cause of this separation I know not. I never asked her,
nor to me has she ever alluded to it. But it is said that his manner
towards her became insufferable, and that she sought protection and
an asylum among her friends. Be the cause what it may, it is enough
to make her a poor, heart-stricken creature."

"How well I remember, when their parties were the most splendid and
best attended of the season."

"Yes, I well remember it too. Still, even then, gay and brilliant as
Mrs. Wilton was, I never thought her happy. Indeed, seeing her often
alone as I did, I could not but mark the painful contrast in her
spirits. At home, when not entertaining company, she was listless or
unhappy. How often have I come in upon her, and noticed her
moistened eyes."

"Ah me! it must be a wrong beginning that makes so sad an ending."

The truth of the remark, as applicable in this case, struck Mrs.
Gray forcibly, and she mused in thoughtful silence for a few
moments.

"Have you heard the news, Judge Gray?" said a lawyer, addressing the
individual he had named, about the same hour that the conversation,
just noted, occurred.

"No. What is it?"

"Why, Wilton has committed a forgery."

"O no, it cannot be!" said the Judge, in tones of painful surprise.

"It is too true, I fear, Judge."

"Is the amount considerable?"

"Ten thousand dollars is the sum mentioned."

"Has he been arrested?"

"No. But the officers are hard after him. The newspapers will
announce the fact to-morrow morning."

Judge Gray leaned his head upon his hand, and, with his eyes cast
upon the floor, sat for some moments in painful thought.

"Poor man!" he at length said, looking up. "The end has come at
last. I have long feared for him. He started wrong in the
beginning."

"I hope they will catch him," remarked the individual he was
addressing.

Judge Gray did not reply, but cast his eyes again upon the floor.

"He has lived by gambling these six years," continued the lawyer,
"and I suppose he has committed this forgery to pay some 'debt of
honor.' Well, I can't say that I am sorry to be rid of him from this
bar, for he was not a pleasant man to be forced into contact with."

"And yet he was a man of some talents," remarked the Judge,
musingly.

"And when that is said all is said. Without industry, legal
knowledge, or sound principles of action, what was he good for? He
would do for a political stump declaimer--but, as a lawyer, in any
case of moment, he was not worth a copper."

And thus saying, the lawyer turned away, and left Judge Gray to his
own thoughts.

"I have unpleasant news to tell you, Jane," said Judge Gray, coming
into the room where sat his wife, an hour afterwards.

"What is that, husband?" asked Mrs. Gray, looking up with a
concerned countenance.

"Why, our old friend Charles Wilton has committed a forgery!"

"Poor Cara! It will break her heart," Mrs. Gray said in a sad tone.

"I do not suppose she has much affection for him, Jane."

"No, but she has a good deal of pride left--all, in fact, that
sustains her. This last blow, I fear, will be too much for one who
has no true strength of character."

"Would it not be well for you to call in and see her to-morrow? The
papers will all announce the fact in the morning, and she may need
the consolation which a true friend might be able to afford her."

"I will go, most certainly, much as my natural feelings shrink from
the task. Where she is, I am sure she has no one to lean upon: for
there is not one of her so-called friends, upon whom she feels
herself a burden, that can or will sympathize with her truly."

"Go, then. And may mercy's errand find mercy's reward."

On the next morning all the city papers teemed with accounts of the
late forgery, and blazoned Charles Wilton's name, with many
opprobrious epithets before the public. Some went even so far as to
allude to his wife, whom they said he had forsaken years before, and
who was now, it was alleged, living in poverty, and, some hinted in
disgrace and infamy.

Early in the day, Mrs. Gray repaired to the cheerless home of her
early friend. She was shown to her chamber, where she found her
lying insensible on the bed, with one of the newspapers in her hand,
that alluded to herself in disgraceful terms.

Long and patient efforts to restore her, at length produced the
desired result. But it was many days before she seemed distinctly
conscious of what was passing or would converse with any degree of
coherency.

"Come and spend a few weeks with me, Cara."

Mrs. Gray said to her, one day, on calling in to see her; "I am sure
it will do you good."

There was a sad, but grateful expression in the pale face of Mrs.
Wilton, as she looked into the eye of her old friend, but ventured
no reply.

"You will come, will you not, Cara?" urged Mrs. Gray.

"My presence in your happy family would be like the shadow of an
evil wing," said she bitterly.

"Our happy family, say-rather, would chase away the gloomy shadows
that darken your heart. Come then, and we will give you a cheerful
welcome."

"I feel much inclined, and yet I hesitate, for I ought not to throw
a gloom over your household," and the tears filled her eyes, and
glistened through the lids which were closed suddenly over them.

"Come, and welcome!" Mrs. Gray urged, taking her hand and gently
pressing it.

That evening Mrs. Wilton spent in the pleasant family of her old
friend.

Three weeks afterwards, Mrs. Gray asked of her husband, if anything
had been heard of Mr. Wilton.

"Nothing," he replied. "He has escaped all pursuit thus far, and the
officers, completely at fault, have returned."

"I cannot say that I am sorry, at least for the sake of his wife.
She seems more cheerful since she came here. I feel sometimes as if
I should like to offer her a home, for she has none, that might
truly be so called."

"Act up to your kind desire, Jane, if you think it right to do so,"
said her husband. "Perhaps in no other home open to her could so
much be done for her comfort."

The home was accordingly offered, and tearfully accepted.

"Jane," said the sad hearted woman, "I cannot tell you how much I
have suffered in the last twenty years. How much from
heart-sickening disappointments, and lacerated affections. High
hopes and brilliant expectations that made my weak brain giddy to
think of, have all ended thus. How weak and foolish--how mad we
were! But my husband was not all to blame. I was as insane in my
views of life as he. We lived only for ourselves--thought and cared
only for ourselves--and here is the result. How wisely and well did
you choose, Jane. Where my eye saw nothing to admire, yours more
skilled, perceived the virgin ore of truth. I was dazzled by show,
while you looked below the surface, and saw true character, and its
effect in action. How signally has each of us been rewarded!" and
the heart-stricken creature bowed her head and wept.

And now, kind reader, if there be one who has followed us thus far,
are you disappointed in not meeting some startling denoument, or
some effective point in this narrative. I hope not. Natural results
have followed, in just order, the adoption of true and false
principles of action--and thus will they ever follow. Learn, then, a
lesson from the history of the two young men and the maidens of
their choice. Let every young man remember, that all permanent
success in life depends upon the adoption of such principles of
action as are founded in honesty and truth; and let every young
woman take it to heart, that all her married life will be affected
by the principles which her husband sets down as rules of action.
Let her give no consideration to his brilliant prospect, or his
brilliant mind, if sound moral principles do not govern him.

"But what became of Charles Wilton and his wife?" I hear a
bright-eyed maiden asking, as she turns half impatient from my
homily.

Wilton has escaped justice thus far, and his wife, growing more and
more cheerful every day, is still the inmate of Judge Gray's family,
and I trust will remain so until the end of her journeying here. And
what is more, she is learning the secret, that there is more
happiness in caring for others, than in being all absorbed in
selfish consideration. Still, she is a sad wreck upon the stream of
life--a warning beacon for your eyes, young lady.



VISITING AS NEIGHBORS.


"I see that the house next door has been taken," remarked Mr. Leland
to his wife, as they sat alone one pleasant summer evening.

"Yes. The family moved in to-day," returned Mrs. Leland.

"Do you know their name?"

"It is Halloran."

"Halloran, Halloran," said Mr. Leland, musingly. "I wonder if it's
the same family that lived in Parker Street."

"Yes, the same; and I wish they had stayed there."

"Their moving in next door need not trouble us, Jane. They are not
on our list of acquaintances."

"But I shall have to call upon Mrs. Haloran; and Emma upon her
grown-up daughter Mary."

"I do not see how that is to follow as a consequence of their
removal into our neighborhood."

"Politeness requires us to visit them as neighbors."

"Are they really our neighbors?" asked Mr. Leland, significantly.

"Certainly they are. How strange that you should ask the question!"

"What constitutes them such? Not mere proximity, certainly. Because
a person happens to live in a house near by, can that make him or
her really a neighbor, and entitled to the attention and
consideration due a neighbor?"

This remark caused Mrs. Leland to look thoughtful. "It ought not,"
she said, after sitting silent a little while, "but still, it does."

"I do not think so. A neighbor--that is, one to whom kind offices is
due--ought to come with higher claims than the mere fact of living
in a certain house located near by the dwelling in which we reside.
If mere location is to make any one a neighbor, we have no
protection against the annoyance and intrusions of persons we do not
like; nay, against evil-minded persons, who would delight more in
doing us injury than good. These Hallorans for instance. They move
in good society; but they are not persons to our mind. I should not
like to see you on terms of intimacy with Mrs. Halloran, or Jane
with her daughter. In fact, the latter I should feel, did it exist,
to be a calamity."

"Still they _are_ our neighbors," Mrs. Leland said. "I do not see
how we can avoid calling upon them."

"Perhaps," remarked the husband, "you have not thought seriously
enough on the subject.

"Who is my neighbor? is a question of importance, and ought to be
answered in every mind. Something more than living in the same
street, or block of houses, is evidently implied in the word
neighbor. It clearly involves a reciprocity of good feelings. Mere
proximity in space cannot effect this. It requires another kind of
nearness--the nearness of similar affections; and these must,
necessarily, be unselfish; for in selfishness there is no
reciprocity. Under this view, could you consider yourself the
neighbor of such a person as Mrs. Halloran?"

"No matter what the character, we should be kind to all. Every one
should be our neighbor, so far as this is concerned. Do you not
think so?"

"I do not, Jane."

"Should we not be kind to every one?"

"Yes, kind; but not in the acceptation of the word as you have used
it. There is a false, as well as a true kindness. And it often
happens that true kindness appears to be any thing but what it
really is. In order to be kind to another, we are not always
required to exhibit flattering attentions. These often injure where
distance and reserve would do good. Besides, they too frequently
give power to such as are evil-disposed--a power that is exercised
injuriously to others."

"But the simple fact of my calling upon Mrs. Halloran cannot,
possibly, give her the power of injuring me or any one else."

"I think differently. The fact that you have called upon her will be
a reason for some others to do the same; for, you know, there are
persons who never act from a distinct sense of right, but merely
follow in the wake of others. Thus the influence of a selfish,
censorious, evil-minded woman will be extended. So far as you are
concerned, the danger may be greater than you imagine. Is Mary
Halloran, in your estimation, a fit companion for our daughter?
Could she become intimate with her, and not suffer a moral
deterioration?"

"I think not."

"Are you sure that a call upon Mrs. Halloran will not lead to this
result?"

"No, I am not _sure_. Still, I do not apprehend any danger."

"I should be very much afraid of the experiment."

"But, do you not think, husband, that, apart from all these fears, I
am bound to extend to Mrs. Halloran the courtesies due a neighbor?"

"I cannot, in the true sense of the word, consider her a neighbor;
and, therefore, do not see that you owe her the courtesies to which
you allude. It is the good in any one that really makes the
neighbor. This good should ever be regarded. But, to show
attentions, and give eminence and consideration to an evil-minded
person, is to make evil, instead of good, the neighbor.--It is to
give that power to evil which is ever exercised in injury to
others."

Mrs. Leland's mind perceived only in a small degree the force of
what her husband said.--She was not a woman who troubled herself
about the characters of those who stood upon a certain level in
society. Mrs. Halloran claimed her place from wealth and family
connexions, and this place was rather above than below that occupied
by Mrs. Leland. The temptation to call upon her was, therefore,
pretty strong. It was not so much a regard for her new neighbor, as
a desire to make her acquaintance, that influenced her.--Acting in
opposition to her husband's judgment, in a few days she called upon
Mrs. Halloran.

She found her, to use her own words, a "charming woman." The next
move was for the daughter to call upon Mary Halloran. Before the
week passed, these calls had been returned. In a month the two
families--that is, the female members of them--had become quite
intimate. This intimacy troubled Mr. Leland. He was a man of pure
principles, and could tolerate no deviation from them. Deeply did he
regret any association that might tend to weaken the respect for
such principles with which he had sought to inspire the mind of his
daughter. In them he knew lay the power that was to protect her in
the world. But he could not interfere, arbitrarily, with his wife;
that he would have considered more dangerous than to let her act in
freedom. But he felt concerned for the consequence, and frequently
urged her not to be too intimate with her new neighbor.

"Some evil, I am sure, will grow out of it," he would say, whenever
allusion was in any way made to the subject of his wife's intimacy
with Mrs. Halloran. "No one can touch pitch and not be defiled."

"I really must blame you," Mrs. Leland replied to a remark like
this, "for your blind opposition to Mrs. Halloran. The more I see of
her, the better I like her. She is a perfect lady. So kind, so
affable, so--so"--

Mr. Leland shook his head.

"The mere gloss of polite society," he returned. "There is no
soundness in her heart. We know that, for the tree is judged by its
fruit."

"We have seen no evil fruit," said the wife.

"Others have, and we _know_ that others have.--Her conduct in the
case of the Percys is notorious."

"Common report is always exaggerated."

"Though it usually has some foundation in truth. But granting all
the exaggeration and false judgment that usually appertain to common
report, is it not wiser to act as if common report were true, until
we know it to be false?"

But it was useless for Mr. Leland to talk.--His wife was charmed
with the fascinating neighbor, and would hear nothing against her.
Jane, too, had become intimate with Mary Halloran, a bold-faced
girl, who spent half of her time in the street, and talked of little
else but beaux and dress. Jane was eighteen, and before her
acquaintance with Mary, had been but little into company. Her
intimacy with Mary soon put new notions into her head. She began to
think more of dress, and scarcely a day passed that she did not go
out with her very intimate and pleasant friend. Mrs. Leland did not
like this. Much as she was pleased Mrs. Halloran, she never fancied
the daughter a great deal, and would have been much better satisfied
if the two young ladies had not become quite so intimate.

"Where are you going?" she said to Jane, who came down stairs
dressed to go out, one morning.

"Mary and I are going to make some calls," she replied.

"You were out making calls, yesterday, with Mary, and the day before
also. This is too great a waste of time, Jane. I would rather see
you at home more."

"I don't know why you should wish to confine me down to the house.
Mary Halloran goes and comes when she pleases."

"Mary Halloran is in the street a great deal too much. I am far from
wishing to see you imitate her example."

"But what harm is there in it, mother?"

"A great deal, Jane. It gives idle habits, and makes the mind
dissatisfied with the more sober duties of life."

"I am too young for the sober duties of life," said Jane, rather
pertly.

"That is, doubtless, one of your friend Mary's sentiments; and it is
worthy of her."

This was true, and Jane did not deny it.

"Go now," said Mrs. Leland, with much sobriety of manner. "But
remember that I disapprove of this gadding about, and object to its
continuance. I should be very sorry to have your father know to what
extent you are carrying it."

Jane went out and called for Mary, and the two young ladies made a
few calls, and then walked the streets until dinner time; not,
however, alone, but accompanied by a dashing young fellow, who had
been introduced to Mary a few evenings before, and now made bold to
follow up the acquaintance, encouraged by a glance from the young
lady's bright, inviting eyes.

Mrs. Leland, in the mean time, felt unhappy. Her daughter was
changing, and the change troubled her. The intimacy formed with Mary
Halloran, it was clear, was doing her no good, but harm. By this
time, too, she had noticed some things in the mother that were by no
means to her taste. There was a coarseness, vulgarity and want of
delicacy about her, that showed itself more and more every day,
traits of character particularly offensive to Mrs. Leland, who was a
woman of refined sentiments. Besides, Mrs. Halloran's conversation
involved topics neither interesting nor instructing to her
neighbors; and often of a decidedly objectionable kind. In fact, she
liked her less and less every day, and felt her too frequently
repeated visits as an annoyance; and though "Why don't you come in
to see me oftener?" was repeated almost daily, she did not return
more than one out of every half dozen calls she received.

"I've seen Jane in the street with that Mary Halloran no less than
three times this week," said Mr. Leland, one day, "and on two of
these occasions there was a beau accompanying each of the young
ladies."

"She goes out too often, I know," returned Mrs. Leland seriously. "I
have objected to it several times, but the girl's head seems turned
with that Mary Halloran. I do wish she had never known her."

"So do I, from my heart. We knew what she was, and never should have
permitted Jane to make her acquaintance, if it had been in our power
to prevent it."

"It is too late now, and can't be helped."

"Too late to prevent the acquaintance, but not too late to prevent
some of the evil consequences likely to grow out of such an improper
intimacy, which must cease from the present time."

"It will be a difficult matter to break it off now."

"No matter how difficult it may be, it must be done. The first step
toward it you will have to make, in being less intimate with the
mother, whom I like less and less the oftener I meet her."

"That step, so far as I am concerned, has already been taken. I have
ceased visiting Mrs. Halloran almost entirely; but she is here just
as often, and sadly annoys me. I dislike her more and more every
day."

"If I saw as much in any one to object to as you see in Mrs.
Halloran, I would soon make visiting a thing by no means agreeable.
You can easily get rid of her intrusive familiarity if you think
proper."

"Yes, by offending her, and getting the ill-will of a low-minded
unprincipled woman; a thing that no one wants."

"Better offend her than suffer, as we are likely to suffer, from a
continuance of the acquaintance. Offend the mother, I say, and thus
you get rid of the daughter."

But Mrs. Leland was not prepared for this step, yet. From having
been fascinated by Mrs. Halloran, she now began to fear her.

"I should not like to have her talk of me as she talks of some
people whom I think a great deal better than she is."

"Let her talk. What she says will be no scandal," returned Mr.
Leland.

"Even admit that, I don't want to be on bad terms with a neighbor.
If she were to remove from the neighborhood, the thing would assume
a different aspect. As it is, I cannot do as I please."

"Can't you indeed? Then I think we had better move forthwith, in
order that you may be free to act right. There is one thing that I
intend doing, immediately, in any event, and that is, to forbid Jane
from associating any longer with Mary Halloran."

"She cannot help herself. Mary calls for her every day."

"She can help going out with her and returning her calls; and this
she must do."

"I wish it could be prevented. But I am afraid of harsh measures."

"I am more afraid of the consequences to our daughter. We know not
into what company this indiscreet young lady may introduce, nor how
deeply she may corrupt her. Our duty to our child requires us at
once to break up all intercourse with the family."

The necessity Mrs. Leland saw clearly enough, but she hesitated. Her
husband, however, was not a man to hold back when his duty was
before him. Neither fear nor favor governed him in his actions
toward others. When satisfied that a thing ought to be done, he
entered fearlessly upon the work, leaving consequences to take care
of themselves.

While they were yet conversing Jane came to the door, accompanied by
a young gallant. Mr. Leland happened to be sitting near the window
and saw him.

"Bless my heart!" he said, in an excited voice.

"Here she is now, in company with that good-for-nothing son of Mr.
Clement. She might almost as well associate with Satan himself."

"With John Clement?" asked Mrs. Leland, in surprise.

"It is too true; and the fellow had the assurance to kiss his hand
to her. This matter has gone quite far enough now, in all
conscience, and must be stopped, if half the world become offended."

Mrs. Leland doubted and hesitated no longer. The young man who had
come home with Jane bore a notoriously bad character. It was little
less than disgrace, in the eyes of virtuous people, for a lady to be
seen in the street with him. Mr. and Mrs. Leland were shocked and
distressed at the appearance of things; and mutually resolved that
all intercourse with Mrs. Halloran and her daughter should cease.
This could not be effected without giving offence; but no matter,
offence would have to be given.

On that very afternoon Mrs. Halloran called in. But Mrs. Leland sent
her word that she was engaged.

"Engaged, indeed!" said the lady to the servant, tossing her head.
"I'm never engaged to a neighbor."

The servant repeated the words.

"Be engaged again, if she calls," said Mr. Leland, when his wife
mentioned the remark of her visitor. "It will raise an effectual
barrier between you."

Some serious conversation was had with Jane that day by her mother,
but Jane was by no means submissive.

"Your father positively forbids any farther intimacy between you and
Mary Halloran. I shall have nothing more to do with her mother."

Jane met this declaration with a passionate gush of tears, and an
intimation that she was not prepared to sacrifice the friendship of
Mary, whom she believed to be quite as good as herself.

"It must be done, Jane. Your father has the best of reasons for
desiring it, and I hope you will not think for a moment of opposing
his wishes."

"He doesn't know Mary as I know her. His prejudices have no
foundation in truth," said Jane.

"No matter how pure she may be," replied the mother, "she has
already introduced you into bad company. A virtuous young lady
should blush to be seen in the street with the man who came home
with you to-day."

"Who, Mr. Clement?" inquired Jane.

"Yes, John Clement. His bad conduct is so notorious as to exclude
him entirely from the families of many persons, who have the
independence to mark with just reprehension his evil deeds. It
grieves me to think that you were not instinctively repelled by him
the moment he approached you."

Jane's manner changed at these words. But the change did not clearly
indicate to her mother what was passing in her mind. From that
moment she met with silence nearly every thing that her mother said.

Early on the next day Mary Halloran called for Jane, as she was
regularly in the habit of doing. Mrs. Leland purposely met her at
the door, and when she inquired for Jane, asked her, with an air of
cold politeness, to excuse her daughter, as she was engaged.

"Not engaged to _me_," said Mary, evincing surprise.

"You must excuse her, Miss Halloran; she is engaged this morning,"
returned the mother, with as much distance and formality as at
first.

Mary Halloran turned away, evidently offended.

"Ah me!" sighed Mrs. Leland, as she closed the door upon the giddy
young girl; "how much trouble has my indiscreetness cost me. My
husband was right, and I felt that he was right; but, in the face of
his better judgment, I sought the acquaintance of this woman, and
now, where the consequences are to end, heaven only knows."

"Was that Mary Halloran?" inquired Jane, who came down stairs as her
mother returned along the passage.

"It was," replied the mother.

"Why did she go away?"

"I told her you were engaged."

"Why, mother!" Jane seemed greatly disturbed.

"It is your father's wish as well as mine," said Mrs. Leland calmly,
"that all intercourse between you and this young lady cease, and for
reasons that I have tried to explain to you. She is one whose
company you cannot keep without injury."

Jane answered with tears, and retired to her chamber, where she
wrote a long and tender letter to Mary, explaining her position.
This letter she got the chambermaid to deliver, and bribed her to
secrecy. Mary replied, in an epistle full of sympathy for her
unhappy condition, and full of indignation at the harsh judgment of
her parents in regard to herself. The letter contained various
suggestions in regard to the manner in which Jane ought to conduct
herself, none of them at all favorable to submission and concluded
with warm attestations of friendship.

From that time an active correspondence took place between the young
ladies, and occasional meetings at times when the parents of Jane
supposed her to be at the houses of some of their friends.

As for Mrs. Halloran, she was seriously offended at the sudden
repulse both she and her daughter had met, and spared no pains, and
let no opportunity go unimproved, for saying hard things of Mrs.
Leland and her family. Even while Mary was carrying on a tender and
confidential correspondence with Jane, she was hinting disreputable
things against the thoughtless girl, and doing her a serious injury.

The first intimation that the parents had of any thing being wrong,
was the fact that two very estimable ladies, for whom they had a
high respect, and with whose daughters Jane was on terms of
intimacy, twice gave Jane the same answer that Mrs. Leland had given
Mary Halloran; thus virtually saying to her that they did not wish
her to visit their daughters. Both Mr. and Mrs. Leland, when Jane
mentioned these occurrences, left troubled. Not long after, a large
party was given by one of the ladies, but no invitations were sent
to either Mr. or Mrs. Leland, or their daughter. This was felt to be
an intended omission.

After long and serious reflection on the subject, Mrs. Leland felt
it to be her duty, as a parent, to see this lady, and frankly ask
the reason of her conduct towards Jane, as well as toward her and
her husband. She felt called upon to do this, in order to ascertain
if there were not some things injurious to her daughter in common
report. The lady seemed embarrassed on meeting Mrs. Leland, but the
latter, without any excitement, or the appearance of being in the
least offended, spoke of what had occurred, and then said--

"Now, there must be a reason for this. Will you honestly tell me
what it is?"

The lady seemed confused and hesitated.

"Do not fear to speak plainly, my dear madam. Tell me the whole
truth. There is something wrong, and I ought to know it. Put
yourself in my place, and you will not long hesitate what to do."

"It is a delicate and painful subject for me to speak of to you,
Mrs. Leland."

"No matter. Speak out without disguise."

After some reflection, the lady said--

"I have daughters, and am tremblingly alive to their good. I feel it
to be my duty to protect them from all associations likely to do
them an injury. Am I not right in this?"

"Undoubtedly."

"There is one young man in this city whose very name should shock
the ear of innocence and purity. I mean Clement."

"You cannot think worse of him than I do."

"And yet, I am told, Mrs. Leland, that your daughter may be seen on
the street with him almost every day; and not only on the street,
but at balls, concerts, and the theatre."

"Who says so?"

"I have heard it from several," replied the lady, speaking slower
and more thoughtfully. "Mrs. Halloran mentioned it to the person who
first told me; and, since then, I have frequently heard it spoken
of."

In answer to this, Mrs. Leland related the whole history of her
intercourse with Mrs. Halloran, and the cause of its interruption.
She then said--

"Once, only, are we aware of our daughter's having met this young
man. Since then, she has gone out but rarely, and has not been from
home a single evening, unless in our company; so that the broad
charge of association with Clement is unfounded, and has had its
origin in a malignant spirit."

"I understand it all, now, clearly," replied the lady. "Mrs.
Halloran is a woman of no principle. You have deeply offended her,
and she takes this method of being revenged."

"That is the simple truth. I was urged by my husband not to call
upon her when she moved in our square, but I felt it to be only
right to visit her as a neighbor."

"A woman like Mrs. Halloran is not to be regarded as a neighbor,"
replied the lady.

"So my husband argued, but I was blind enough to think differently,
and to act as I thought. Dearly enough am I paying for my folly.
Where the consequences will end is more than I can tell."

"We may be able to counteract them to a certain extent," said the
lady. "Understanding as I now do, clearly, your position toward Mrs.
Halloran, I will be able to neutralize a great deal that she says.
But I am afraid your daughter is misleading you in some things, and
giving color to what is said of her."

"How so?" asked Mrs. Leland in surprise.

"Was she out yesterday?"

"Yes. She went to see her cousins in the morning."

"One of my daughters says she met her in the street, in company with
the very individual of whom we are speaking."

"Impossible!"

"My daughter says she is not mistaken," returned the lady.

Mrs. Leland's distress of mind, as to this intelligence, may be
imagined. On returning home, she found that Jane had gone out during
her absence. She went up into her daughter's room, and found a note
addressed to Jane lying upon her table. After some reflection, she
felt it to be her duty to open the note, which she did. It was from
Mary Halloran, and in these words:--


"MY SWEET FRIEND,--I saw Mr. Clement last night at the opera. He had
a great deal to say about you, and uttered many flattering
compliments on your beauty. He says that he would like to meet you
to-morrow evening, and will be at the corner of Eighth and Pine
streets at half past seven o'clock. Can you get away at that time,
without exciting suspicion? If you can, don't fail to meet him, as
he is very desirous that you should do so. I was delighted with the
opera, and wished a hundred times that you were with me to enjoy it.

"Yours, forever,

"MARY."


Mrs. Leland clasped her hands together, and leaned forward upon the
bureau near which she had been standing, scarcely able to sustain
her own weight. It was many minutes before she could think clearly.
After much reflection, she thought it best not to say anything to
Jane about the note. This course was approved by Mr. Leland, who
believed with his wife, that it was better that Jane should be kept
in ignorance of its contents, at least until the time mentioned for
her joining Clement had passed. Both the parents were deeply
troubled; and bitterly did Mrs. Leland repent her folly in making
the acquaintance of their new neighbor, simply because she was a
neighbor according to proximity.

It was after seven o'clock when the tea bell rang that evening. Mr.
and Mrs. Leland descended to the dining-room, and took their places
at the table.

"Where is Jane?" asked Mrs. Leland, after they had been seated a few
moments.

"She went out five or ten minutes ago," replied the waiter.

Both the mother and father started, with exclamations of surprise
and alarm, from the table. Mr. Leland seized his hat and cane, and
rushing from the house, ran at full speed toward the place which
Clement had appointed for a meeting with his daughter. He arrived in
time to see a lady hastily enter a carriage, followed by a man. The
carriage drove off rapidly. A cab was passing near him at the time,
to the driver of which he called in an excited voice.

"Do you see that carriage?" Mr. Leland said eagerly, as the man
reined up his horse. "Keep within sight of it until it stops, and I
will give you ten dollars."

"Jump in," returned the driver. "I'll keep in sight."

For nearly a quarter of an hour the wheels of the cab rattled in the
ears of Mr. Leland. It then stopped, and the anxious father sprang
out upon the pavement. The carriage had drawn up a little in
advance, and a lady was descending from it, assisted by a man. Mr.
Leland knew the form of his daughter. Ere the young lady and her
attendant could cross the pavement, he had confronted them. Angry
beyond the power of control, he seized the arm of Jane with one
hand, and, as he drew away from her companion, knocked him down with
a tremendous blow from the cane which he held in the other. Then
dragging, or rather carrying, his frightened daughter to the cab,
thrust her in, and, as he followed after, gave the driver the
direction of his house, and ordered him to go there at the quickest
speed. Jane either was, or affected to be, unconscious, when she
arrived at home.

Two days after, this paragraph appeared in one of the daily papers.

"SAVED FROM THE BRINK OF RUIN.--A young man of notoriously bad
character, yet connected with one of our first families, recently
attempted to draw aside from virtue an innocent but thoughtless and
unsuspecting girl, the daughter of a respectable citizen. He
appointed a meeting with her in the street at night, and she was mad
enough to join him at the hour mentioned. Fortunately it happened
that the father, by some means, received intelligence of what was
going on, and hurried to the place. He arrived in time to see them
enter a carriage and drive off. He followed in another carriage, and
when they stopped before a house, well known to be one of evil
repute, he confronted them on the pavement, knocked the young
villain down, and carried his daughter off home. We forbear to
mention names, as it would do harm, rather than good, the young lady
being innocent of any evil intent, and unsuspicious of wrong in her
companion. We hope it will prove a lesson that she will never
forget. She made a most fortunate escape."

When Jane Leland was shown this paragraph, she shuddered and turned
pale; and the shudder went deeper, and her cheek became still paler,
a few weeks later when the sad intelligence came that Mary Halloran
had fallen into the same snare that had been laid for her feet; a
willing victim too many believed, for she was not ignorant of
Clement's real character.

By sad experience Mrs. Leland was taught the folly of any weak
departure from what is clearly seen to be a right course of action;
and she understood, better than she had ever done before, the
oft-repeated remark of her husband that "only those whose principles
and conduct we approve are to be considered, in any true sense,
neighbors."



NOT AT HOME.


JONAS BEBEE has one merit, if he possesses no other, and that is,
the merit of being able to make himself completely at home with all
his friends, male or female, high or low, rich or poor, under any
and all circumstances. His good opinion of himself leaves no room
for his imagination to conceive the idea, that possibly there may
be, in his character, certain peculiarities not agreeable to all. It
never occurs to him, that he may chance to make a _mal apropos_
visit, nor that the prolongation of a call may be a serious
annoyance; for he is so entirely satisfied with himself that he is
sure every one else must feel his presence as a kind of sunshine.

Of course, such being the character of Mr. Jonas Bebee, it may
readily be inferred that he is very likely to commit an occasional
mistake, and blunder, though unconsciously, into the commission of
acts most terribly annoying to others. His evening calls upon ladies
generally produce a marked effect upon those specially selected for
the favor. The character of the effect will appear in the following
little scene, which we briefly sketch--

"Gentleman in the parlor," says a servant coming into a room where
two or three young ladies sit sewing or reading.

"Who is he?" is the natural inquiry.

"Mr. Bebee."

"Goodness!"

"Say we are not at home, Kitty."

"No--no, Kitty, you mustn't say that," interposes one. "Tell him the
ladies will be down in a little while."

Kitty accordingly retires.

"I'm not going down," says one, more self willed and independent
than the rest.

"You've as much right to be annoyed with him as we have," is replied
to this.

"I don't care."

"I wish he'd stay away from here. Nobody wants him."

"He's after you, Aggy."

"After me!" replied Agnes. "Goodness knows I don't want him. I hate
the very sight of him!"

"It's no use fretting ourselves over the annoyance, we've got to
endure it," says one of the young ladies. "So, come, let's put on
the best face possible."

"You can go, Cara, if you choose, but I'm in no hurry; nor will he
be in any haste to go. Say to him that I'll be along in the course
of half an hour."

"No, you must all make your own apologies."

In the meantime Mr. Bebee patiently awaits the arrival of the
ladies, who make their appearance, one after the other, some time
during the next half hour. He compliments them, asks them to sing
and play, and leads the conversation until towards eleven o'clock,
when he retires in the best possible humor with himself and the
interesting young ladies favored with his presence. He has not even
a distant suspicion of the real truth, that his visit was considered
an almost unendurable infliction.

Mr. Bebee's morning calls are often more unwelcome. He walks in, as
a matter of course, takes his seat in the parlor, and sends up his
name by the servant. If told that the lady is not at home, a
suspicion that it may not be so does not cross his mind; for he
cannot imagine it possible that any one would make such an excuse in
order to avoid seeing _him_. Should the lady not be willing to utter
an untruth, nor feel independent enough to send word that she is
engaged, an hour's waste of time, at least, must be her penalty; for
Mr. Bebee's morning calls are never of shorter duration. He knows,
as well as any one, that visits of politeness should be brief; but
he is on such familiar terms with all his friends, that he can waive
all ceremony--and he generally does so, making himself "at home," as
he says, wherever he goes.

One day Mr. Jonas Bebee recollected that he had not called upon a
certain Mrs. Fairview, for some weeks; and as the lady was, like
most of his acquaintances, a particular friend, he felt that he was
neglecting her. So he started forth to make her a call.

It was Saturday, and Mrs. Fairview, after having been, for the
greater part of the morning, in the kitchen making cake, came up to
the parlor to dust and re-arrange some of the articles there a
little more to her liking. Her hair was in papers, and her morning
wrapper not in a very elegant condition, having suffered a little
during the cake-making process. It was twelve o'clock, and Mrs.
Fairview was about leaving the parlor, when some one rung the bell.
Gliding noiselessly to the window, she obtained a view of Mr. Bebee.

"O, dear!" she sighed, "am I to have this infliction to-day? But
it's no use; I won't see him!"

By this time the servant was moving along the passage towards the
door.

"Hannah!" called the lady, in a whisper, beckoning at the same time
with her hand.

Hannah came into the parlor.

"Say I'm not at home, Hannah."

"Yes, ma'am," replied the girl, who proceeded on towards the street
door, while Mrs. Fairview remained in the parlor.

"Is Mrs. Fairview in?" the latter heard the visitor ask.

"No, sir," replied Hannah.

"Not in?"

"No, sir. She's gone out."

By this time Mr. Bebee stood within the vestibule.

"O, well; I reckon I'll just drop in and wait awhile. No doubt
she'll be home, soon."

"I don't think she will return before two o'clock," said Hannah,
knowing that her mistress, looking more like a scarecrow than a
genteel lady, was still in the parlor, and seeing that the visiter
was disposed to pass her by and make himself a temporary occupant of
the same room.

"No matter," returned the gentleman, "I'll just step in for a little
while and enjoy myself by the parlor fire. It's a bitter cold
day--perhaps she will be home sooner."

"O, no, sir. She told me that she would not come back until
dinner-time," said the anxious Hannah, who fully appreciated the
dilemma in which her mistress would find herself, should Mr. Bebee
make his way into the parlor.

"It's no consequence. You can just say to her, if she does not
return while I am here, that I called and made myself at home for
half an hour or so." And with this, Mr. Bebee passed by the girl,
and made his way towards the parlor.

In despair, Hannah ran back to her place in the kitchen, wondering
what her mistress would say or do when Mr. Bebee found that she was
at home--and, moreover, in such a plight!

In the meantime, Mrs. Fairview, who had been eagerly listening to
what passed between Hannah and the visiter, finding that he was
about invading her parlor, and seeing no way of escape, retreated
into a little room, or office, built off from and communicating only
with the parlor. As she entered this room and shut the door, the
cold air penetrated her garments and sent a chill through her frame.
There was no carpet on the floor of this little box of a place, and
it contained neither sofa, chair, nor anything else to sit upon.
Moreover, it had but a single door, and that one led into the
parlor. Escape, therefore, was cut off, entirely; and to remain long
where she was could not be done except at the risk of taking a
severe cold.

Through the openings in a Venitian blind that was hung against the
glass door, Mrs. Fairview saw the self-satisfied Mr. Bebee draw up
the large cushioned chair before the grate, and with a book in his
hand, seat himself comfortably and begin to make himself entirely
"at home." The prospect was, that he would thus remain "at home,"
for at least the next half hour, if not longer. What was she to do?
The thermometer was almost down to zero, and she was dressed for a
temperature of seventy.

"I shall catch my death a cold," she sighed, as the chilly air
penetrated her garments, and sent a shudder through her frame.

Comfortably, and as much at home as if he were in his own parlor,
sat Mr. Bebee in front of the roaring grate, rocking himself in the
great arm-chair, and enjoying a new book which he had found upon the
table.

As Mrs. Fairview looked at him, and saw the complete repose and
satisfaction of his manner, she began to feel in utter despair.
Already her teeth were beginning to chatter, and she was shivering
as if attacked by a fit of ague. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes
elapsed--but there sat the visiter, deeply absorbed in his book; and
there stood the unfortunate lady who was "not at home," so benumbed
with cold as almost to have lost the sense of bodily feeling. A
certain feeling in the throat warned her that she was taking cold,
and would, in all probability, suffer from inflammation of the
windpipe and chest. Five, ten, fifteen minutes more went by; but Mr.
Beebe did not move from his place. He was far too comfortable to
think of that.

At last after remaining in prison for nearly an hour, Mrs. Fairview,
who by this time was beginning to suffer, besides excessive fatigue,
from a sharp pain through her breast to her left shoulder blade, and
who was painfully aware that she had taken a cold that would, in all
probability, put her in bed for a week, determined to make her
escape at all hazards. Mr. Beebe showed no disposition to go, and
might remain for an hour longer. Throwing an apron over her head and
face, she softly opened the door, and gliding past her visiter,
escaped into the hall, and ran panting up stairs. Mr. Beebe raised
his head at this unexpected invasion of the parlor, but on
reflection concluded that the person who so suddenly appeared and
disappeared was merely a servant in the family.

About an hour afterwards, finding that Mrs. Fairview did not return,
Mr. Beebe left his card on the table, and departed in his usual
comfortable state of mind.

Poor Mrs. Fairview paid dearly for her part in this transaction. A
severe attack of inflammation of the lungs followed, which came near
resulting in death. It was nearly three weeks before she was able to
leave her room, and then her physician said she must not venture out
before the mild weather of the opening spring.

A few days after the lady was able to go about the house again, Mr.
Bebee called to congratulate her on her recovery. Two of her
children were in the parlor; one eleven years old, and the other a
child in her fourth year.

"O, you naughty man, you!" exclaimed the latter, the moment she saw
Mr. Bebee. The oldest of the two children, who understood in a
moment what her little sister meant, whispered: "H-u-s-h!--h-u-s-h!
Mary!"

"What am I naughty about, my little sis?" said Mr. Bebee.

"O, because you are a naughty man! You made my mother sick, so you
did! And mother says she never wants to look in your face again. You
are a naughty man!"

"Mary! Mary! Hush! hush!" exclaimed the elder sister, trying to stop
the child.

"Made your mother sick?" said Mr. Bebee. "How did I do that?"

"Why, you shut her up in that little room there, all in the cold,
when you were here and staid so long, one day. And it made her
sick--so it did."

"Shut her up in that room! what does the child mean?" said Mr.
Bebee, speaking to the elder sister.

"Mary! Mary! I'm ashamed of you. Come away!" was the only response
made to this.

Mr. Bebee was puzzled. He asked himself as to the meaning of this
strange language. All at once, he remembered that after he had been
sitting in the parlor for an hour, on the occasion referred to, some
one had come out of the little room referred to by the child, and
swept past him almost as quick as a flash. But it had never once
occurred to him that this was the lady he had called to visit, who,
according to the servant, was not at home.

"I didn't shut your mother up in that room, Mary," said he, to the
child.

"O, but you did. And she got cold, and almost died."

At this the elder sister, finding that she could do nothing with
little Mary, escaped from the parlor, and running up stairs, made a
report to her mother of what was going on below.

"Mercy!" exclaimed the lady, in painful surprise.

"She told him that you said you never wanted to look upon his face
again," said the little girl.

"She did!"

"Yes. And she is telling him a great deal more. I tried my best to
make her stop, but couldn't."

"Rachel! Go down and bring that child out of the parlor!" said Mrs.
Fairview, to a servant. "It is too bad! I had no idea that the
little witch knew anything about it. So much for talking before
children!"

"And so much for not being at home when you are," remarked a sister
of Mrs. Fairview, who happened to be present.

"So much for having an acquaintance who makes himself at home in
your house, whether you want him or not."

"No doubt you are both sufficiently well punished."

"I have been, I know."

The heavy jar of the street door was heard at this moment.

"He's gone, I do believe!"

And so it proved. What else little Mary said to him was never known,
as the violent scolding she received when her mother got hold of
her, sealed her lips on the subject, or drove all impressions
relating thereto from her memory.

Mr. Bebee never called again.



THE FATAL ERROR.


"CLINTON!" said Margaret Hubert, with a look of supreme contempt.
"Don't speak of him to me, Lizzy. His very name is an offence to my
ears!" and the lady's whole manner became disturbed.

"He will be at the ball to-night, of course, and will renew his
attentions," said the friend, in an earnest, yet quiet voice. "Now,
for all your expressions of dislike, I have thought that you were
really far from being indifferent to Mr. Clinton, and affected a
repugnance at variance with your true feelings."

"Lizzy, you will offend me if you make use of such language. I tell
you he is hateful to me," replied Miss Hubert.

"Of course, you ought to know your own state of mind best," said
Lizzy Edgar. "If it is really as you say, I must confess that my
observation has not been accurate. As to there being anything in Mr.
Clinton to inspire an emotion of contempt, or create so strong a
dislike as you express, I have yet to see it. To me he has ever
appeared in the light of a gentleman."

"Then suppose you make yourself agreeable to him, Lizzy," said Miss
Hubert.

"I try to make myself agreeable to every one," replied the
even-minded girl. "That is a duty I owe to those with whom I
associate."

"Whether you like them or not?"

"It doesn't follow, because I do not happen to like a person, that I
should render myself disagreeable to him."

"I never tolerate people that I don't like," said Miss Hubert.

"We needn't associate too intimately with those who are disagreeable
to us," returned her friend; "but when we are thrown together in
society, the least we can do is to be civil."

"You may be able to disguise your real feelings, but I cannot.
Whatever emotion passes over my mind is seen in my face and
discovered in my tone of voice. All who know me see me as I am."

And yet, notwithstanding this affirmation, Margaret Hubert did not,
at all times, display her real feelings. And her friend Lizzy Edgar
was right in assuming that she was by no means indifferent to Mr.
Clinton. The appearance of dislike was assumed as a mask, and the
distance and reserve she displayed towards him were the offspring of
a false pride and unwomanly self-esteem. The truth was, her heart
had, almost unsought, been won. The manly bearing, personal grace
and brilliant mind of Philip Clinton, had captivated her feelings
and awakened an emotion of love ere she was conscious that her heart
was in danger. And she had even leaned towards him instinctively,
and so apparently that the young man observed it, and was attracted
thereby. The moment, however, he became at all marked in his
attentions, the whole manner of Margaret changed. She was then aware
of the rashness she had displayed, and her pride instantly took the
alarm. Reserve, dignity, and even hauteur, characterized her bearing
towards Clinton; and to those who spoke of him as a lover, she
replied in terms nearly similar to what she used to her friend Lizzy
Edgar, on the occasion to which reference has just been made.

All this evidenced weakness of mind as well as pride. She wished to
be sought before she was won--at least, that was the language she
used to herself. Her lover must come, like a knight of old, and sue
on bended knee for favor.

Clinton observed the marked change in her manner. Fortunately for
his peace of mind, he was not so deeply in love as to be very
seriously distressed. He had admired her beauty, her
accomplishments, and the winning grace of her manners; and more, had
felt his heart beginning to warm towards her. But the charm with
which she had been invested, faded away the moment the change of
which we have spoken became apparent. He was not a man of strong,
ungovernable impulses; all his passions were under the control of
right reason, and this gave him a clear judgment. Consequently, he
was the last person in the world for an experiment such as Margaret
Hubert was making. At first he thought there must be some mistake,
and continued to offer the young lady polite attentions, coldly and
distantly as they were received. He even went farther than his real
feelings bore him out in going, and made particular advances, in
order to be perfectly satisfied that there was no mistake about her
dislike or repugnance.

But there was one thing which at first Clinton did not understand.
It was this. Frequently, when in company where Margaret was present,
he would, if he turned his eyes suddenly upon her, find that she was
looking at him with an expression which told him plainly that he was
not indifferent to her. This occurred so often, and was so
frequently attended with evident confusion on her part, that he
began to have a suspicion of the real truth, and to feel disgust at
so marked an exhibition of insincerity. Besides, the thought of
being experimented upon in this way, did not in the least tend to
soften his feelings towards the fair one. He believed in frankness,
honesty and reciprocal sincerity. He liked a truthful, ingenuous
mind, and turned instinctively from all artifice, coquetry or
affectation.

The game which Miss Hubert was playing had been in progress only a
short time, when her friend Lizzy Edgar, who was on terms of close
intimacy, spent the day with her, occupying most of the time in
preparation for a fancy ball that was to come off that night. The
two young ladies attired themselves with much care, each with a view
to effect. Margaret looked particularly to the assumption of a
certain dignity, and her costume for the evening had been chosen
with that end in view. A ruff, and her grand-mother's rich silk
brocade, did give to her tall person all the dignity she could have
desired.

At the proper time the father of Miss Hubert accompanied the young
ladies to the ball, preparations for which had for some time been in
progress. As soon almost as Margaret entered the room, her eyes
began to wander about in search of Mr. Clinton. It was not long
before she discovered him--nor long before his eyes rested upon and
recognized her stately figure.

"If she be playing a part, as I more than half suspect," said the
young man to himself, "her performance will end to-night, so far as
I am concerned."

And with the remark, he moved towards that part of the room where
the two young ladies were standing. Lizzy returned his salutations
with a frank and easy grace, but Margaret drew herself up coldly,
and replied to his remarks with brief formality. Clinton remained
with them only long enough to pass a few compliments, and then moved
away and mingled with the crowd in another part of the large saloon,
where the gay company were assembled. During the next hour, he took
occasion now and then to search out Margaret in the crowd, and more
than once he found that her eyes were upon him.

"Once more," he said, crossing the room and going up to where she
was leaning upon the arm of an acquaintance.

"May I have the pleasure of dancing with you in the next set?"

"Thank you, sir," replied Margaret, with unbending dignity; "I am
already engaged."

Clinton bowed and turned away. The fate of the maiden was sealed.
She had carried her experiment too far. As the young man moved
across the room, he saw Lizzy Edgar sitting alone, her face lit up
with interest as she noted the various costumes, and observed the
ever-forming and dissolving tableaux that filled the saloon, and
presented to the eye a living kaleidoscope.

"Alone," he said, pausing before the warm-hearted, even tempered
girl.

"One cannot be alone here," she replied, with a sweet smile
irradiating her countenance. "What a fairy scene it is," she added,
as her eyes wandered from the face of Clinton and again fell upon
the brilliant groups around them.

"Have you danced this evening?" asked Clinton.

"In one set," answered Lizzy.

"Are you engaged for the next in which you may feel disposed to take
the floor?"

"No, sir."

"Then may I claim you for my partner?"

"If it is your pleasure to do so," replied Lizzy, smiling.

In a cotillion formed soon afterward in that part of the room, were
Margaret Hubert and her sweet friend Lizzy Edgar. Margaret had a
warmer color on her cheeks than usual, and her dignity towered up
into an air of haughtiness, all of which Clinton observed. Its
effect was to make his heart cold towards her, instead of awakening
an ardent desire to win a proud and distant beauty.

In vain did Margaret look for the young man to press forward, the
moment the cotillion was dissolved, and claim her for the next. He
lingered by the side of Miss Edgar, more charmed with her than he
had ever been, until some one else came and engaged the hand of Miss
Hubert. The disappointed and unhappy girl now unbent herself from
the cold dignity that had marked her bearing since her entrance into
the ball-room, and sought to win him to her side by the flashing
brilliancy of her manners; but her efforts were unavailing. Clinton
had felt the sweeter, purer, stronger attractions of one free from
all artifice; and when he left her side, he had no wish to pass to
that of one whose coldness had repelled, and whose haughtiness had
insulted him.

On the next day, when Lizzy called upon her friend, she found her in
a very unhappy state of mind. As to the ball and the people who
attended, she was exceedingly captious in all her remarks. When
Clinton was mentioned, she spoke of him with a sneer. Lizzy hardly
knew how to take her. Why the young man should be so offensive, she
was at a loss to imagine, and honestly came to the conclusion that
she had been mistaken in her previous supposition that Margaret
really felt an interest in him.

A few evenings only elapsed before Clinton called upon Miss Edgar,
and from that time visited her regularly. An offer of marriage was
the final result. This offer Lizzy accepted.

The five or six months that elapsed from the time Clinton became
particular in his attentions to Miss Edgar, until he formally
declared himself a lover, passed with Margaret Herbert in one
long-continued and wild struggle with her feelings. Conscious of her
error, and madly conscious, because conviction had come too late,
she wrestled vigorously, but in vain, with a passion that, but for
her own folly, would have met a free and full return. Lizzy spoke to
her of Clinton's marked attentions, but did not know how, like heavy
and painful strokes, every word she uttered fell upon her heart. She
saw that Margaret was far from being happy, and often tenderly urged
her to tell the cause, but little dreamed of the real nature of her
sufferings.

At last Lizzy told her, with a glowing cheek, that Clinton had owned
his love for her, and claimed her hand in marriage. For some moments
after this communication was made, Margaret could offer no reply.
Her heart trembled faintly in her bosom and almost ceased to beat;
but she rallied herself, and concealed what she felt under warm
congratulations. Lizzy was deceived, though in her friend's manner
there was something that she could not fully comprehend.

"You must be my bridesmaid," said the happy girl, a month or two
afterwards.

"Why not choose some one else?" asked Margaret.

"Because I love you better than any friend I have," replied Lizzy,
putting an arm around the neck of Margaret and kissing her.

"No, no; I cannot--I cannot!" was the unexpressed thought of
Margaret--while something like a shudder went over her. But the eyes
of her friend did not penetrate the sad secret of her heart.

"Come, dear, say yes. Why do you hesitate? I would hardly believe
myself married if you were not by my side when the nuptial pledge
was given."

"It shall be as you wish," replied Margaret.

"Perhaps you misunderstood me," said Lizzy, playfully; "I was not
speaking of my funeral, but of my wedding."

This sportive sally gave Margaret an opportunity to recover herself,
which she did promptly; and never once, from that time until the
wedding day of her friend arrived, did she by look or word betray
what was in her heart.

Intense was the struggle that went on in the mind of Margaret
Hubert. But it was of no avail; she loved Clinton with a wild
intensity that was only the more fervid from its hopelessness. But
pride and a determined will concealed what neither could destroy.

At last the wedding night of Lizzy Edgar arrived, and a large
company assembled to witness the holy rite that was to be performed,
and to celebrate the occasion with appropriate festivities.
Margaret, when the morning of that day broke coldly and drearily
upon her, felt so sad at heart that she wept, and, weeping, wished
that she could die. There had been full time for reflection since,
by her own acts, she had repulsed one in whom her heart felt a deep
interest, and repulsed him with such imprudent force that he never
returned to her again. Suffering had chastened her spirit, although
it could not still the throbbings of pain. As the time approached
when she must stand beside her friend and listen to vows of
perpetual love that she would have given all the world, were it in
her possession, to hear as her own, she felt that she was about
entering upon a trial for which her strength would be little more
than adequate.

But there was no retreat now. The ordeal had to be passed through.
At last the time of trial came, and she descended with her friend,
and stood up with her before the minister of God, who was to say the
fitting words and receive the solemn vows required in the marriage
covenant. From the time Margaret took her place on the floor, she
felt her power over herself failing. Most earnestly did she struggle
for calmness and self-control, but the very fear that inspired this
struggle made it ineffectual. When the minister in a deeply
impressive voice, said, "I pronounce you husband and wife," her eyes
grew dim, and her limbs trembled and failed; she sunk forward, and
was only kept from falling by the arm of the minister, which was
extended in time to save her.

Twenty years have passed since that unhappy evening, and Margaret
Hubert is yet unmarried. It was long before she could quench the
fire that had burned so fiercely in her heart. When it did go out,
the desolate hearth it left remained ever after cold and dark.



FOLLOWING THE FASHIONS.


"WHAT is this?" asked Henry Grove of his sister Mary, lifting, as he
spoke, a print from the centre-table.

"A fashion plate," was the quiet reply.

"A fashion plate? What in the name of wonder, are you doing with a
fashion plate?"

"To see what the fashions are."

"And what then?"

"To follow them, of course."

"Mary, is it possible you are so weak? I thought better of my
sister."

"Explain yourself, Mr. Censor," replied Mary with an arch look, and
a manner perfectly self-possessed.

"There is nothing I despise so much as a heartless woman of
fashion."

"Such an individual is certainly, not much to be admired, Henry. But
there is a vast difference you must recollect, between a lady who
regards the prevailing mode of dress and a _heartless_ woman, be she
attired in the latest style, or in the costume of the times of good
queen Bess. A fashionably dressed woman need not, of necessity, be
heartless."

"O no, of course not; nor did I mean to say so. But it is very
certain, to my mind, that any one who follows the fashions cannot be
very sound in the head. And where there is not much head, it seems
to me there is never a superabundance of heart."

"Quite a philosopher!"

"You needn't try to beat me off by ridicule, Mary. I am in earnest."

"What about?"

"In condemning this blind slavery to fashion."

"You follow the fashions."

"No, Mary, I do not."

"Your looks very much belie you, then."

"Mary!"

"Nonsense! Don't look so grave. What I say is true. You follow the
fashion as much as I do."

"I am sure I never examined a plate of fashions in my life."

"If you have not, your tailor has for you, many a time."

"I don't believe a word of it. I don't have my clothes cut in the
height of the fashion. They are made plain and comfortable. There is
nothing about them that is put on merely because it is fashionable."

"I beg your pardon, sir."

"It is a fact."

"Why do you have your lappels made to roll three button-holes
instead of two. There's father's old coat, made, I don't know when,
that roll but two."

"Because, I suppose, its now the fash--"

"Ah, exactly! Didn't I get you there nicely?"

"No, but Mary, that's the tailor's business, not mine."

"Of course,--you trust to him to make you clothes according to the
fashion, while I choose to see if the fashions are just such as
suits my stature, shape, and complexion, that I may adopt them
fully, or deviate from them in a just and rational manner. So there
is this difference between us; you follow the fashions blindly, and
I with judgment and discrimination!"

"Indeed, Mary, you are too bad."

"Do I speak anything but the truth?"

"I should be very sorry, indeed, if your deductions were true in
regard to my following the fashions so blindly, if indeed at all."

"But don't you follow them?"

"I never think about them."

"If you don't, somehow or other, you manage to be always about even
with the prevailing modes. I don't see any difference between your
dress and that of other young men."

"I don't care a fig for the fashions, Mary!" rejoined Henry,
speaking with some warmth.

"So you say."

"And so I mean."

"Then why do you wear fashionable clothes?"

"I don't wear fashionable clothes--that is--I----"

"You have figured silk or cut velvet buttons, on your coat, I
believe. Let me see? Yes. Now, lasting buttons are more durable, and
I remember very well when you wore them. But they are out of
fashion! And here is your collar turned down over your black satin
stock, (where, by the by, have all the white cravats gone, that were
a few years ago so fashionable?) as smooth as a puritan's! Don't you
remember how much trouble you used to have, sometimes, to get your
collar to stand up just so? Ah, brother, you are an incorrigible
follower of the fashions!"

"But, Mary, it is a great deal less trouble to turn the collar over
the stock."

"I know it is, now that it is fashionable to do so."

"It is, though, in fact."

"Really?"

"Yes, really."

"But when it was fashionable to have the collar standing, you were
very willing to take the trouble."

"You would not have me affect singularity, sister?"

"Me? No, indeed! I would have you continue to follow the fashions as
you are now doing. I would have you dress like other people. And
there is one other thing that I would like to see in you."

"What is that."

"I would like to see you willing to allow me the same privilege."

"You have managed your case so ingeniously, Mary," her brother now
said, "as to have beaten me in argument, though I am very sure that
I am right, and you in error, in regard to the general principle. I
hold it to be morally wrong to follow the fashions. They are
unreasonable and arbitrary in their requirements, and it is a
species of miserable folly, to be led about by them. I have
conversed a good deal with old aunt Abigail on the subject, and she
perfectly agrees with me. Her opinions, you can not, of course,
treat with indifference?"

"No, not my aunt's. But for all that, I do not think that either she
or uncle Absalom is perfectly orthodox on all matters."

"I think that they can both prove to you beyond a doubt that it is a
most egregious folly to be ever changing with the fashions."

"And I think that I can prove to them that they are not at all
uninfluenced by the fickle goddess."

"Do so, and I will give up the point. Do so and I will avow myself
an advocate of fashion."

"As you are now in fact. But I accept your challenge, even though
the odds of age and numbers are against me. I am very much mistaken,
indeed, if I cannot maintain my side of the argument, at least to my
own satisfaction."

"You may do that probably; but certainly not to ours."

"We will see," was the laughing reply.

It was a few evenings after, that Henry Grove and his sister called
in to see uncle Absalom and aunt Abigail, who were of the old
school, and rather ultra-puritanical in their habits and notions.
Mary could not but feel, as she came into their presence, that it
would be rowing against wind and tide to maintain her point with
them--confirmed as they were in their own views of things, and with
the respect due to age to give weight to their opinions.
Nevertheless, she determined resolutely to maintain her own side of
the question, and to use all the weapons, offensive and defensive,
that came to her hand. She was a light-hearted girl, with a high
flow of spirits, and a quick and discriminating mind. All these were
in her favor. The contest was not long delayed, for Henry, feeling
that he had powerful auxiliaries on his side, was eager to see his
own positions triumph, as he was sure that they must. The welcome
words that greeted their entrance had not long been said, before he
asked, turning to his aunt,--

"What do you think I found on Mary's table, the other day, Aunt
Abigail?"

"I don't know, Henry. What was it?"

"You will be surprised to hear,--a fashion plate! And that is not
all. By her own confession, she was studying it in order to conform
to the prevailing style of dress. Hadn't you a better opinion of
her?"

"I certainly had," was aunt Abigail's half smiling, half grave
reply.

"Why, what harm is there in following the fashions, aunt?" Mary
asked.

"A great deal, my dear. It is following after the vanities of this
life. The apostle tells us not to be conformed to this world."

"I know he does; but what has that to do with the fashions? He
doesn't say that you shall not wear fashionable garments; at least I
never saw the passage."

"But that is clearly what he means, Mary."

"I doubt it. Let us hear what he further says; perhaps that will
guide us to a truer meaning?"

"He says: 'But be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.'
That elucidates and gives force to what goes before."

"So I think, clearly upsetting your position. The apostle evidently
has reference to a deeper work than mere _external_ non-conformity
in regard to the cut of the coat, or the fashion of the dress. Be ye
not conformed to this world in its selfish, principles and
maxims--be ye not as the world, lovers of self more than lovers of
God--but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds. That is
the way I understand him."

"Then you understand him wrong, Mary," uncle Absalom spoke up. "If
he had meant that, he would have said it in plain terms."

"And so he has, it seems to me. But I am not disposed to excuse my
adherence to fashion upon any passage that allows of two
interpretations. I argue for it upon rational grounds."

"Fashion and rationality! The idea is absurd, Mary!" said uncle
Absalom, with warmth. "They are antipodes."

"Not by any means, uncle, and I think I can make it plain to you."

Uncle Absalom shook his head, and aunt Abigail fidgeted in her
chair.

"You remember the celebrated John Wesley--the founder of that once
unfashionable people, the Methodists?" Mary asked.

"O, yes."

"What would you think if I proved to you that he was an advocate for
fashion upon rational principles?"

"You can't do it."

"I can. On one occasion, it is related of him, that he called upon a
tailor to make him a coat. 'How will you have it made?' asked the
tailor. 'O, make it like other people's,' was the reply. 'Will you
have the sleeves in the new fashion?' 'I don't know, what is it?'
'They have been made very tight, you know, for some time,' the
tailor said, 'but the newest fashion is loose sleeves.' 'Loose
sleeves, ah? Well, they will be a great deal more comfortable than
these. Make mine loose.' What do you think of that, uncle? Do you
see no rationality there?"

"Yes, but Mary," replied aunt Abigail, "fashion and comfort hardly
ever go together."

"There you are mistaken, aunt. Most fashionable dress-makers aim at
producing garments comfortable to the wearers; and those fashions
which are most comfortable, are most readily adopted by the largest
numbers."

"You certainly do not pretend to say, Mary," Henry interposed, "that
all changes in fashions are improvements in comfort?"

"O no, certainly not. Many, nay, most of the changes are unimportant
in that respect."

"And are the inventions and whims of fashion makers," added aunt
Abigail with warmth.

"No doubt of it," Mary readily admitted.

"And you are such a weak, foolish girl, as to adopt, eagerly, every
trifling variation in fashion?" continued aunt Abigail.

"No, not eagerly, aunt."

"But at all?"

"I adopt a great many, certainly, for no other reason than because
they are fashionable."

"For shame, Mary, to make such an admission! I really thought better
of you."

"But don't you follow the fashions, aunt?"

"Why Mary," exclaimed both uncle Absalom and her brother, at once.

"Me follow the fashions, Mary?" broke in aunt Abigail, as soon as
she could recover her breath, for the question struck her almost
speechless. "Me follow the fashions? Why, what can the girl mean?"

"I asked the question," said Mary. "And if you can't answer it, I
can."

"And how will you answer it, pray?"

"In the affirmative, of course."

"You are trifling, now, Mary," said uncle Absalom, gravely.

"Indeed I am not, uncle. I can prove to her satisfaction and yours,
too, that aunt Abigail is almost as much a follower of the fashions
as I am."

"For shame, child!"

"I can though, uncle; so prepare yourself to be convinced. Did you
never see aunt wear a different shaped cap from the one she now has
on?"

"O yes, I suppose so. I don't take much notice of such things. But I
believe she has changed the pattern of her cap a good many times."

"And what if I have, pray?" asked aunt Abigail, fidgeting uneasily.

"O, nothing, only that in doing so, you were following some new
fashion," replied Mary.

"It is no such thing!" said aunt Abigail.

"I can prove it."

"You can't."

"Yes I can, and I will. Don't you remember when the high crowns were
worn?"

"Of course I do."

"And you wore them, of course."

"Well, suppose I did?"

"And then came the close, low-crowned cap. I remember the very time
you adopted that fashion, and thought it so much more becoming than
the great tower of lace on the back part of the head."

"And so it was."

"But why didn't you think so before," asked Mary, looking archly
into the face of her aunt.

"Why--because-because--"

"O, I can tell you, so you needn't search all over the world for a
reason. It was because the high crowns were fashionable. Come out
plain and aboveboard and say so."

"Indeed, I won't say any such thing."

"Then what was the reason?"

"Every body wore them, and their unsightly appearance had not been
made apparent by contrast."

"Exactly! They were fashionable. But when a new fashion laughed them
out of countenance, you cast them aside, as I do an old fashion for
a new one. Then came the quilled border all around. Do you remember
that change? and how, in a little while after, the plain piece of
lace over your forehead disappeared? Why was that, aunt Abigail? Was
there no regard for fashion there? And now, at this very time your
cap is one that exhibits the latest and neatest style for old
ladies' caps. I could go on and prove to your satisfaction, or at
least to my own, that you have followed the fashion almost as
steadily as I have. But I have sufficiently made out my case. Don't
you think so, Henry?"

Thus appealed to, her brother, who had been surprised at the turn
the conversation had taken, not expecting to see Mary carry the war
home so directly as she had done, hardly knew how to reply. He,
however, gave a reluctant

"Yes."

"But there is some sense in your aunt's adoption of fashion," said
uncle Absalom.

"Though not much, it would seem in yours, if you estimate fashion by
use," retorted Mary.

"What does the girl mean?" asked aunt Abigail in surprise.

"Of what use, uncle, are those two buttons on the back of your
coat?"

"I am sure I don't know."

"Then why do you wear them if you don't know their use, unless it be
that you wish to be in the fashion? Then there are two more at the
bottom of the skirt, half hid, half seen, as if they were ashamed to
be found so much out of their place. Then, can you enlighten me as
to the use of these two pieces of cloth here, called, I believe,
flaps?"

"To give strength to that part of the coat, I presume."

"And yet it is only a year or two since it was the fashion to have
no flaps at all. I do not remember ever to have seen a coat torn
there, do you? It is no use, uncle--you might as well be out of the
world as out of the fashion. And old people feel this as well as
young. They have their fashions, and we have ours, and they are as
much the votaries of their peculiar modes as we are of our. The only
difference is, that, as our states of mind change more rapidly,
there is a corresponding and more rapid change in our fashions. You
change as well as we do--but slower."

"How could you talk to uncle Absalom and aunt Abigail as you did?"
said Henry Grove to his sister, as they walked slowly home together.

"Didn't I make out my point? Didn't I prove that they too were
votaries of the fickle goddess?"

"I think you did, in a measure."

"And in a good measure too. So give up your point, as you promised,
and confess yourself an advocate of fashion."

"I don't see clearly how I can do that, notwithstanding all that has
passed to-night; for I do not rationally perceive the use of all
these changes in dress."

"I am not certain that I can enlighten you fully on the subject; but
think that I may, perhaps in a degree, if you will allow my views
their proper weight in your mind."

"I will try to do so; but shall not promise to be convinced."

"No matter. Convinced or not convinced you will still be carried
along by the current. As to the primary cause of the change in
fashion it strikes me that it is one of the visible effects of that
process of change ever going on in the human mind. The fashion of
dress that prevails may not be the true exponent of the internal and
invisible states, because they must necessarily be modified in
various ways by the interests and false tastes of such individuals
as promulgate them. Still, this does not affect the primary cause."

"Granting your position to be true, Mary, which I am not fully
prepared to admit or deny--why should we blindly follow these
fashions?"

"We need not _blindly_. For my part, I am sure that I do not blindly
follow them."

"You do when you adopt a fashion without thinking it becoming."

"That I never do."

"But, surely, you do not pretend to say that all fashions are
becoming?"

"All that prevail to any extent, appear so, during the time of their
prevalence, unless they involve an improper exposure of the person,
or are injurious to health."

"That is singular."

"But is it not true."

"Perhaps it is. But how do you account for it?"

"On the principle that there are both external and internal causes
at work, modifying the mind's perceptions of the appropriate and
beautiful."

"Mostly external, I should think, such as a desire to be in the
fashion, etc."

"That feeling has its influence no doubt, and operates very
strongly."

"But is it a right feeling?"

"It is right or wrong, according to the end in view. If fashion be
followed from no higher view than a selfish love of being admired,
then the feeling is wrong."

"Can we follow fashion with any other end?"

"Answer the question yourself. You follow the fashions."

"I think but little about them, Mary."

"And yet you dress very much like people who do."

"That may be so. The reason is, I do not wish to be singular."

"Why?"

"For this reason. A man who affects any singularity of dress or
manners, loses his true influence in society. People begin to think
that there must be within, a mind not truly balanced and therefore
do not suffer his opinions, no matter how sound, to have their true
weight."

"A very strong and just argument why we should adopt prevailing
usages and fashions, if not immoral or injurious to health. They are
the badges by which we are known--diplomas which give to our
opinions their legitimate value. I could present this subject in
many other points of view. But it would be of little avail, if you
are determined not to be convinced."

"I am not so determined, Mary. What you have already said, greatly
modifies my view of the subject. I shall, at least, not ridicule
your adherence to fashion, if I do not give much thought to it
myself."

"I will present one more view. A right attention to dress looks to
the development of that which is appropriate and beautiful to the
eye. This is a universal benefit. For no one can look upon a truly
beautiful object in nature or art without having his mind
correspondingly elevated and impressed with beautiful images, and
these do not pass away like spectrums, but remain ever after more or
less distinct, bearing with them an elevating influence upon the
whole character. Changes in fashion, so far as they present new
and beautiful forms, new arrangements, and new and appropriate
combination of colors, are the dictates of a true taste, and so
far do they tend to benefit society."

"But fashion is not always so directed by true taste."

"A just remark. And likewise a reason why all who have a right
appreciation of the truly beautiful should give some attention to
the prevailing fashion in dress, and endeavor to correct errors, and
develop the true and the beautiful here as in other branches of
art."



A DOLLAR ON THE CONSCIENCE.


"FIFTY-FIVE cents a yard, I believe you said?" The customer was
opening her purse.

Now fifty cents a yard was the price of the goods, and so Mr.
Levering had informed the lady. She misunderstood him, however.

In the community, Mr. Levering had the reputation of being a
conscientious, high-minded man. He knew that he was thus estimated,
and self-complacently appropriated the good opinion as clearly his
due.

It came instantly to the lip of Mr. Levering to say, "Yes,
fifty-five." The love of gain was strong in his mind, and ever ready
to accede to new plans for adding dollar to dollar. But, ere the
words were uttered, a disturbing perception of something wrong
restrained him.

"I wish twenty yards," said the customer taking it for granted that
fifty-five cents was the price of the goods.

Mr. Levering was still silent; though he commenced promptly to
measure off the goods.

"Not dear at that price," remarked the lady.

"I think not," said the storekeeper. "I bought the case of goods
from which this piece was taken very low."

"Twenty yards at fifty-five cents! Just eleven dollars." The
customer opened her purse as she thus spoke, and counted out the sum
in glittering gold dollars. "That is right, I believe," and she
pushed the money towards Mr. Levering, who, with a kind of automatic
movement of his hand, drew forward the coin and swept it into his
till.

"Send the bundle to No. 300 Argyle Street," said the lady, with a
bland smile, as she turned from the counter, and the half-bewildered
store-keeper.

"Stay, madam! there is a slight mistake!" The words were in Mr.
Levering's thoughts, and on the point of gaining utterance, but he
had not the courage to speak. He had gained a dollar in the
transaction beyond his due, and already it was lying heavily on his
conscience. Willingly would he have thrown it off; but when about to
do so, the quick suggestion came, that, in acknowledging to the lady
the fact of her having paid five cents a yard too much, he might
falter in his explanation, and thus betray his attempt to do her
wrong. And so he kept silence, and let her depart beyond recall.

Any thing gained at the price of virtuous self-respect is acquired
at too large a cost. A single dollar on the conscience may press so
heavily as to bear down a man's spirits, and rob him of all the
delights of life. It was so in the present case. Vain was it that
Mr. Levering sought self-justification. Argue the matter as he
would, he found it impossible to escape the smarting conviction that
he had unjustly exacted a dollar from one of his customers. Many
times through the day he found himself in a musing, abstracted
state, and on rousing himself therefrom, became conscious, in his
external thought, that it was the dollar by which he was troubled.

"I'm very foolish," said he, mentally, as he walked homeward, after
closing his store for the evening. "Very foolish to worry myself
about a trifle like this. The goods were cheap enough at fifty-five,
and she is quite as well contented with her bargain as if she had
paid only fifty."

But it would not do. The dollar was on his conscience, and he sought
in vain to remove it by efforts of this kind.

Mr. Levering had a wife and three pleasant children. They were the
sunlight of his home. When the business of the day was over, he
usually returned to his own fireside with buoyant feeling. It was
not so on this occasion. There was a pressure on his bosom--a sense
of discomfort--a want of self-satisfaction. The kiss of his wife,
and the clinging arms of his children, as they were twined around
his neck, did not bring the old delight.

"What is the matter with you this evening, dear? Are you not well?"
inquired Mrs. Levering, breaking in upon the thoughtful mood of her
husband, as he sat in unwonted silence.

"I'm perfectly well," he replied, rousing himself, and forcing a
smile.

"You look sober."

"Do I?" Another forced smile.

"Something troubles you, I'm afraid."

"O no; it's all in your imagination."

"Are you sick, papa?" now asks a bright little fellow, clambering
upon his knee.

"Why no, love, I'm not sick. Why do you think so?"

"Because you don't play horses with me."

"Oh dear! Is that the ground of your suspicion?" replied the father,
laughing. "Come! we'll soon scatter them to the winds."

And Mr. Levering commenced a game of romps with the children. But he
tired long before they grew weary, nor did he, from the beginning,
enter into this sport with his usual zest.

"Does your head ache, pa?" inquired the child who had previously
suggested sickness, as he saw his father leave the floor, and seat
himself, with some gravity of manner, on a chair.

"Not this evening, dear," answered Mr. Levering.

"Why don't you play longer, then?"

"Oh pa!" exclaimed another child, speaking from a sudden thought,
"you don't know what a time we had at school to-day."

"Ah! what was the cause?"

"Oh! you'll hardly believe it. But Eddy Jones stole a dollar from
Maggy Enfield!"

"Stole a dollar!" ejaculated Mr. Levering. His voice was husky, and
he felt a cold thrill passing along every nerve.

"Yes, pa! he stole a dollar! Oh, wasn't it dreadful?"

"Perhaps he was wrongly accused," suggested Mrs. Levering.

"Emma Wilson saw him do it, and they found the dollar in his pocket.
Oh! he looked so pale, and it made me almost sick to hear him cry as
if his heart would break."

"What did they do with him?" asked Mrs. Levering.

"They sent for his mother, and she took him home. Wasn't it
dreadful?"

"It must have been dreadful for his poor mother," Mr. Levering
ventured to remark.

"But more dreadful for him," said Mrs. Levering. "Will he ever
forget his crime and disgrace? Will the pressure of that dollar on
his conscience ever be removed? He may never do so wicked an act
again; but the memory of this wrong deed cannot be wholly effaced
from his mind."

How rebukingly fell all these words on the ears of Mr. Levering. Ah!
what would he not then have given to have the weight of that dollar
removed? Its pressure was so great as almost to suffocate him. It
was all in vain that he tried to be cheerful, or to take an interest
in what was passing immediately around him. The innocent prattle of
his children had lost its wonted charm, and there seemed an accusing
expression in the eye of his wife, as, in the concern his changed
aspect had occasioned, she looked soberly upon him. Unable to bear
all this, Mr. Levering went out, something unusual for him, and
walked the streets for an hour. On his return, the children were in
bed, and he had regained sufficient self-control to meet his wife
with a less disturbed appearance.

On the next morning, Mr. Levering felt something better. Sleep had
left his mind more tranquil. Still there was a pressure on his
feelings, which thought could trace to that unlucky dollar. About an
hour after going to his store, Mr. Levering saw his customer of the
day previous enter, and move along towards the place where he stood
behind his counter. His heart gave a sudden bound, and the color
rose to his face. An accusing conscience was quick to conclude as to
the object of her visit. But he soon saw that no suspicion of wrong
dealing was in the lady's mind. With a pleasant half recognition,
she asked to look at certain articles, from which she made
purchases, and in paying for them, placed a ten dollar bill in the
hand of the storekeeper.

"That weight shall be off my conscience," said Mr. Levering to
himself, as he began counting out the change due his customer; and,
purposely, he gave her one dollar more than was justly hers in that
transaction. The lady glanced her eyes over the money, and seemed
slightly bewildered. Then, much to the storekeeper's relief, opened
her purse and dropped it therein.

"All right again!" was the mental ejaculation of Mr. Levering, as he
saw the purse disappear in the lady's pocket, while his breast
expanded with a sense of relief.

The customer turned from the counter, and had nearly gained the
door, when she paused, drew out her purse, and emptying the contents
of one end into her hand, carefully noted the amount. Then walking
back, she said, with a thoughtful air--

"I think you 've made a mistake in the change, Mr. Levering."

"I presume not, ma'am. I gave you four and thirty-five," was the
quick reply.

"Four, thirty-five," said the lady, musingly.

"Yes, here is just four, thirty-five."

"That's right; yes, that's right," Mr. Levering spoke, somewhat
nervously.

"The article came to six dollars and sixty-five cents, I believe?"

"Yes, yes; that was it!"

"Then three dollars and thirty-five cents will be my right change,"
said the lady, placing a small gold coin on the counter. "You gave
me too much."

The customer turned away and retired from the store, leaving that
dollar still on the conscience of Mr. Levering.

"I'll throw it into the street," said he to himself, impatiently.
"Or give it to the first beggar that comes along."

But conscience whispered that the dollar wasn't his, either to give
away or to throw away. Such prodigality, or impulsive benevolence,
would be at the expense of another, and this could not mend the
matter.

"This is all squeamishness," said Mr. Levering trying to argue
against his convictions. But it was of no avail. His convictions
remained as clear and rebuking as ever.

The next day was the Sabbath, and Mr. Levering went to church, as
usual, with his family. Scarcely had he taken a seat in his pew,
when, on raising his eyes, they rested on the countenance of the
lady from whom he had abstracted the dollar. How quickly his cheek
flushed! How troubled became, instantly, the beatings of his heart!
Unhappy Mr. Levering! He could not make the usual responses that
day, in the services; and when the congregation joined in the
swelling hymn of praise, his voice was heard not in the general
thanksgiving. Scarcely a word of the eloquent sermon reached his
ears, except something about "dishonest dealing;" he was too deeply
engaged in discussing the question, whether or no he should get rid
of the troublesome dollar by dropping it into the contribution box,
at the close of the morning service, to listen to the words of the
preacher. This question was not settled when the box came round,
but, as a kind of desperate alternative, he cast the money into the
treasury.

For a short time, Mr. Levering felt considerable relief of mind. But
this disposition of the money proved only a temporary palliative.
There was a pressure on his feelings; still a weight on his
conscience that gradually became heavier. Poor man! What was he to
do? How was he to get this dollar removed from his conscience? He
could not send it back to the lady and tell her the whole truth.
Such an exposure of himself would not only be humiliating, but
hurtful to his character. It would be seeking to do right, in the
infliction of a wrong to himself.

At last, Mr. Levering, who had ascertained the lady's name and
residence, inclosed her a dollar, anonymously, stating that it was
her due; that the writer had obtained it from her, unjustly, in a
transaction which he did not care to name, and could not rest until
he had made restitution.

Ah! the humiliation of spirit suffered by Mr. Levering in thus
seeking to get ease for his conscience! It was one of his bitterest
life experiences. The longer the dollar remained in his possession,
the heavier became its pressure, until he could endure it no longer.
He felt not only disgraced in his own eyes, but humbled in the
presence of his wife and children. Not for worlds would he have
suffered them to look into his heart.

If a simple act of restitution could have covered all the past,
happy would it have been for Mr. Levering. But this was not
possible. The deed was entered in the book of his life, and nothing
could efface the record. Though obscured by the accumulating dust of
time, now and then a hand sweeps unexpectedly over the page, and the
writing is revealed. Though that dollar has been removed from his
conscience, and he is now guiltless of wrong, yet there are times
when the old pressure is felt with painful distinctness.

Earnest seeker after this world's goods, take warning by Mr.
Levering, and beware how, in a moment of weak yielding, you get a
dollar on your conscience. One of two evils must follow. It will
give you pain and trouble, or make callous the spot where it rests.
And the latter of these evils is that which is most to be deplored.



AUNT MARY'S SUGGESTION.


"JOHN THOMAS!" Mr. Belknap spoke in a firm, rather authoritative
voice. It was evident that he anticipated some reluctance on the
boy's part, and therefore, assumed, in the outset, a very decided
manner.

John Thomas, a lad between twelve and thirteen years of age, was
seated on the doorstep, reading. A slight movement of the body
indicated that he heard; but he did not lift his eyes from the book,
nor make any verbal response.

"John Thomas!" This time the voice of Mr. Belknap was loud, sharp,
and imperative.

"Sir," responded the boy, dropping the volume in his lap, and
looking up with a slightly flushed, but sullen face.

"Did n't you hear me when I first spoke?" said Mr. Belknap, angrily.

"Yes, sir."

"Then, why did n't you answer me? Always respond when you are spoken
to. I'm tired of this ill-mannered, disrespectful way of yours."

The boy stood up, looking, now, dogged, as well as sullen.

"Go get your hat and jacket." This was said in a tone of command,
accompanied by a side toss of the head, by the way of enforcing the
order.

"What for?" asked John Thomas, not moving a pace from where he
stood.

"Go and do what I tell you. Get your hat and jacket."

The boy moved slowly and with a very reluctant air from the room.

"Now, don't be all day," Mr. Belknap called after him, "I'm in a
hurry. Move briskly."

How powerless the father's words died upon the air. The motions of
John Thomas were not quickened in the slightest degree. Like a
soulless automaton passed he out into the passage and up the stairs;
while the impatient Mr. Belknap could with difficulty restrain an
impulse to follow after, and hasten the sulky boy's movements with
blows. He controlled himself, however, and resumed the perusal of
his newspaper. Five, ten minutes passed, and John Thomas had not yet
appeared to do the errand upon which his father designed to send
him. Suddenly Mr. Belknap dropped his paper, and going hastily to
the bottom of the stairs, called out:

"You John! John Thomas!"

"Sir!" came a provokingly indifferent voice from one of the
chambers.

"Did n't I tell you to hurry--say?"

"I can't find my jacket."

"You don't want to find it. Where did you lay it when you took it
off last night?"

"I don't know. I forget."

"If you're not down here, with your jacket on, in one minute, I'll
warm your shoulders well for you."

Mr. Belknap was quite in earnest in this threat, a fact plainly
enough apparent to John Thomas in the tone of his father's voice.
Not just wishing to have matters proceed to this extremity, the boy
opened a closet, and, singularly enough, there hung his jacket in
full view. At the expiration of the minute, he was standing before
his disturbed father, with his jacket on, and buttoned up to the
chin.

"Where's your hat?" now asked Mr. Belknap.

"I don't know, sir."

"Well, find it, then."

"I've looked everywhere."

"Look again. There! What is that on the hat rack, just under my
coat?"

The boy answered not, but walked moodily to the rack, and took his
hat therefrom.

"Ready at last. I declare I'm out of all patience with your slow
movements and sulky manner. What do you stand there for, knitting
your brows and pouting your lips? Straighten out your face, sir! I
won't have a boy of mine put on such a countenance."

The lad, thus angrily and insultingly rated, made a feeble effort to
throw a few rays of sunshine into his face. But, the effort died
fruitless. All was too dark, sullen, and rebellious within his
bosom.

"See here." Mr. Belknap still spoke in that peculiar tone of command
which always stifles self-respect in the one to whom it is
addressed.

"Do you go down to Leslie's and tell him to send me a good claw
hammer and three pounds of eightpenny nails. And go quickly."

The boy turned off without a word of reply, and was slowly moving
away, when his father said, sharply:

"Look here, sir!"

John Thomas paused and looked back.

"Did you hear me?"

"Yes, sir."

"What did I tell you to do?"

"Go get a claw hammer and three pounds of eightpenny nails."

"Very well. Why did n't you indicate, in some way, that you heard
me? Have n't I already this morning read you a lecture about this
very thing? Now, go quickly. I'm in a hurry."

For all this impatience and authority on the part of Mr. Belknap,
John Thomas moved away at a snail's pace; and as the former in a
state of considerable irritability, gazed after the boy, he felt
strongly tempted to call him back, and give him a good flogging in
order that he might clearly comprehend the fact of his being in
earnest. But as this flogging was an unpleasant kind of business,
and had, on all previous occasions, been succeeded by a repentant
and self-accusing state, Mr. Belknap restrained his indignant
impulses.

"If that stubborn, incorrigible boy returns in half an hour, it will
be a wonder," muttered Mr. Belknap, as he came back into the
sitting-room. "I wish I knew what to do with him. There is no
respect or obedience in him. I never saw such a boy. He knows that
I'm in a hurry; and yet he goes creeping along like a tortoise, and
ten chances to one, if he does n't forget his errand altogether
before he is halfway to Leslie's. What is to be done with him, Aunt
Mary?"

Mr. Belknap turned, as he spoke to an elderly lady, with a mild,
open face, and clear blue eyes, from which goodness looked forth as
an angel. She was a valued relative, who was paying him a brief
visit.

Aunt Mary let her knitting rest in her lap, and turned her mild,
thoughtful eyes upon the speaker.

"What is to be done with that boy, Aunt Mary?" Mr. Belknap repeated
his words. "I've tried everything with him; but he remains
incorrigible."

"Have you tried--"

Aunt Mary paused, and seemed half in doubt whether it were best to
give utterance to what was in her mind.

"Tried what?" asked Mr. Belknap.

"May I speak plainly?" said Aunt Mary.

"To me? Why yes! The plainer the better."

"Have you tried a kind, affectionate, unimpassioned manner with the
boy? Since I have been here, I notice that you speak to him in a
cold, indifferent, or authoritative tone. Under such treatment, some
natures, that soften quickly in the sunshine of affection, grow hard
and stubborn."

The blood mounted to the cheeks and brow of Mr. Belknap.

"Forgive me, if I have spoken too plainly," said Aunt Mary.

Mr. Belknap did not make any response for some time, but sat, with
his eyes upon the floor, in hurried self-examination.

"No, Aunt Mary, not too plainly," said he, as he looked at her with
a sobered face. "I needed that suggestion, and thank you for having
made it."

"Mrs. Howitt has a line which beautifully expresses what I mean,"
said Aunt Mary, in her gentle, earnest way. "It is

  'For love hath readier will than fear.'

Ah, if we could all comprehend the wonderful power of love! It is
the fire that melts; while fear only smites, the strokes hardening,
or breaking its unsightly fragments. John Thomas has many good
qualities, that ought to be made as active as possible. These, like
goodly flowers growing in a carefully tilled garden, will absorb the
latent vitality in his mind, and thus leave nothing from which
inherent evil tendencies can draw nutrition."

Aunt Mary said no more, and Mr. Belknap's thoughts were soon too
busy with a new train of ideas, to leave him in any mood for
conversation.

Time moved steadily on. Nearly half an hour had elapsed, in which
period John Thomas might have gone twice to Leslie's store, and
returned; yet he was still absent. Mr. Belknap was particularly in
want of the hammer and nails, and the delay chafed him very
considerably; the more particularly, as it evidenced the
indifference of his son in respect to his wishes and commands.
Sometimes he would yield to a momentary blinding flush of anger, and
resolve to punish the boy severely the moment he could get his hands
on him. But quickly would come in Aunt Mary's suggestion, and he
would again resolve to try the power of kind words. He was also a
good deal strengthened in his purposes, by the fact that Aunt Mary's
eyes would be upon him at the return of John Thomas. After her
suggestion, and his acknowledgment of its value, it would hardly do
for him to let passion so rule him as to act in open violation of
what was right. To wrong his son by unwise treatment, when he
professed to desire only his good.

The fact is, Mr. Belknap had already made the discovery, that if he
would govern his boy, he must first govern himself. This was not an
easy task. Yet he felt that it must be done.

"There comes that boy now," said he, as he glanced forth, and saw
John Thomas coming homeward at a very deliberate pace. There was
more of impatience in his tone of voice than he wished to betray to
Aunt Mary, who let her beautiful, angel-like eyes rest for a moment
or two, penetratingly, upon him. The balancing power of that look
was needed; and it performed its work.

Soon after, the loitering boy came in. He had a package of nails in
his hand, which he reached, half indifferently, to his father.

"The hammer!" John started with a half frightened air.

"Indeed, father, I forgot all about it!" said he, looking up with a
flushed countenance, in which genuine regret was plainly visible.

"I'm sorry," said Mr. Belknap, in a disappointed, but not angry or
rebuking voice. "I've been waiting a long time for you to come back,
and now I must go to the store without nailing up that trellice for
your mother's honeysuckle and wisteria, as I promised."

The boy looked at his father a moment or two with an air of
bewilderment and surprise; then he said, earnestly:

"Just wait a little longer. I'll run down to the store and get it
for you in a minute. I'm very sorry that I forgot it."

"Run along, then," said Mr. Belknap, kindly.

How fleetly the lad bounded away! His father gazed after him with an
emotion of surprise, not unmixed with pleasure.

"Yes--yes," he murmured, half aloud, "Mrs. Howitt never uttered a
wiser saying. 'For love hath readier will than fear.'"

Quicker than even Aunt Mary, whose faith in kind words was very
strong, had expected, John came in with the hammer, a bright glow on
his cheeks and a sparkle in his eyes that strongly contrasted with
the utter want of interest displayed in his manner a little while
before.

"Thank you, my son," said Mr. Belknap, as he took the hammer; "I
could not have asked a prompter service."

He spoke very kindly, and in a voice of approval. "And now, John,"
he added, with the manner of one who requests, rather than commands,
"if you will go over to Frank Wilson's, and tell him to come over
and work for two or three days in our garden, you will oblige me
very much. I was going to call there as I went to the store this
morning; but it is too late now."

"O, I'll go, father--I'll go," replied the boy, quickly and
cheerfully. "I'll run right over at once."

"Do, if you please," said Mr. Belknap, now speaking from an impulse
of real kindness, for a thorough change had come over his feelings.
A grateful look was cast, by John Thomas, into his father's face,
and then he was off to do his errand. Mr. Belknap saw, and
understood the meaning of that look.

"Yes--yes--yes,--" thus he talked with himself as he took his way to
the store,--"Aunt Mary and Mrs. Howitt are right. Love hath a
readier will. I ought to have learned this lesson earlier. Ah! how
much that is deformed in this self-willed boy, might now be growing
in beauty."



HELPING THE POOR.


"I'M on a begging expedition," said Mr. Jonas, as he came bustling
into the counting-room of a fellow merchant named Prescott. "And, as
you are a benevolent man, I hope to get at least five dollars here
in aid of a family in extremely indigent circumstances. My wife
heard of them yesterday; and the little that was learned, has
strongly excited our sympathies. So I am out on a mission for
supplies. I want to raise enough to buy them a ton of coal, a barrel
of flour, a bag of potatoes, and a small lot of groceries."

"Do you know anything of the family for which you propose this
charity?" inquired Mr. Prescott, with a slight coldness of manner.

"I only know that they are in want and that it is the first duty of
humanity to relieve them," said Mr. Jonas, quite warmly.

"I will not question your inference," said Mr. Prescott. "To relieve
the wants of our suffering fellow creatures is an unquestionable
duty. But there is another important consideration connected with
poverty and its demands upon us."

"What is that pray?" inquired Mr. Jonas, who felt considerably
fretted by so unexpected a damper to his benevolent enthusiasm.

"How it shall be done," answered Mr. Prescott, calmly.

"If a man is hungry, give him bread; if he is naked, clothe him,"
said Mr. Jonas. "There is no room for doubt or question here. This
family I learn, are suffering for all the necessaries of life, and I
can clearly see the duty to supply their wants."

"Of how many does the family consist?" asked Mr. Prescott.

"There is a man and his wife and three or four children."

"Is the man sober and industrious?"

"I don't know anything about him. I've had no time to make
inquiries. I only know that hunger and cold are in his dwelling, or,
at least were in his dwelling yesterday."

"Then you have already furnished relief?"

"Temporary relief. I shouldn't have slept last night, after what I
heard, without just sending them a bushel of coal, and a basket of
provisions."

"For which I honor your kindness of heart, Mr. Jonas. So far you
acted right. But, I am by no means so well assured of the wisdom and
humanity of your present action in the case. The true way to help
the poor, is to put it into their power to help themselves. The mere
bestowal of alms is, in most cases an injury; either encouraging
idleness and vice, or weakening self-respect and virtuous
self-dependence. There is innate strength in every one; let us seek
to develop this strength in the prostrate, rather than hold them up
by a temporary application of our own powers, to fall again,
inevitably, when the sustaining hand is removed. This, depend upon
it, is not true benevolence. Every one has ability to serve the
common good, and society renders back sustenance for bodily life as
the reward of this service."

"But, suppose a man cannot get work," said Mr. Jonas. "How is he to
serve society, for the sake of a reward?"

"True charity will provide employment for him rather than bestow
alms."

"But, if there is no employment to be had Mr. Prescott?"

"You make a very extreme case. For all who are willing to work, in
this country, there is employment."

"I'm by no means ready to admit this assertion."

"Well, we'll not deal in general propositions; because anything can
be assumed or denied. Let us come direct to the case in point, and
thus determine our duty towards the family whose needs we are
considering. Which will be best for them? To help them in the way
you propose, or to encourage them to help themselves?"

"All I know about them at present," replied Mr. Jonas, who was
beginning to feel considerably worried, "is, that they are suffering
for the common necessaries of life. It is all very well to tell a
man to help himself, but, if his arm be paralyzed, or he have no key
to open the provision shop, he will soon starve under that system of
benevolence. Feed and clothe a man first, and then set him to work
to help himself. He will have life in his heart and strength in his
hands."

"This sounds all very fair, Mr. Jonas; and yet, there is not so much
true charity involved there as appears on the surface. It will avail
little, however, for us to debate the matter now. Your time and mine
are both of too much value during business hours for useless
discussion. I cannot give, understandingly, in the present case, and
so must disappoint your expectations in this quarter."

"Good morning, then," said Mr. Jonas, bowing rather coldly.

"Good morning," pleasantly responded Mr. Prescott, as his visitor
turned and left his store.

"All a mean excuse for not giving," said Mr. Jonas, to himself, as
he walked rather hurriedly away. "I don't believe much in the
benevolence of your men who are so particular about the whys and
wherefores--so afraid to give a dollar to a poor, starving fellow
creature, lest the act encourage vice or idleness."

The next person upon whom Mr. Jonas called, happened to be very much
of Mr. Prescott's way of thinking; and the next chanced to know
something about the family for whom he was soliciting aid. "A lazy,
vagabond set!" exclaimed the individual, when Mr. Jonas mentioned
his errand, "who would rather want than work. They may starve before
I give them a shilling."

"Is this true?" asked Mr. Jonas, in surprise.

"Certainly it is. I've had their case stated before. In fact, I went
through the sleet and rain one bitter cold night to take them
provisions, so strongly had my sympathies in regard to them been
excited. Let them go to work."

"But can the man get work?" inquired Mr. Jonas.

"Other poor men, who have families dependent on them, can get work.
Where there's a will there's a way. Downright laziness is the
disease in this case, and the best cure for which is a little
wholesome starvation. So, take my advice, and leave this excellent
remedy to work out a cure."

Mr. Jonas went back to his store in rather a vexed state of mind.
All his fine feelings of benevolence were stifled. He was angry with
the indigent family, and angry with himself for being "the fool to
meddle with any business but his own."

"Catch me on such an errand again," said he, indignantly. "I'll
never seek to do a good turn again as long as I live."

Just as he was saying this, his neighbor Prescott came into his
store.

"Where does the poor family live, of whom you were speaking to me?"
he inquired.

"O, don't ask me about them!" exclaimed Mr. Jonas. "I've just found
them out. They're a lazy, vagabond set."

"You are certain of that?"

"Morally certain. Mr. Caddy says he knows them like a book, and
they'd rather want than work. With him, I think a little wholesome
starvation will do them good."

Notwithstanding this rather discouraging testimony, Mr. Prescott
made a memorandum of the street and number of the house in which the
family lived, remarking as he did so:

"I have just heard where the services of an able-bodied man are
wanted. Perhaps Gardiner, as you call him, may be glad to obtain the
situation."

"He won't work; that's the character I have received of him,"
replied Mr. Jonas, whose mind was very much roused against the man.
The pendulum of his impulses had swung, from a light touch, to the
other extreme.

"A dollar earned, is worth two received in charity," said Mr.
Prescott; "because the dollar earned corresponds to service
rendered, and the man feels that it is his own--that he has an
undoubted right to its possession. It elevates his moral character,
inspires self-respect, and prompts to new efforts. Mere alms-giving
is demoralizing for the opposite reason. It blunts the moral
feelings, lowers the self-respect, and fosters inactivity and
idleness, opening the way for vice to come in and sweep away all the
foundations of integrity. Now, true charity to the poor is for us to
help them to help themselves. Since you left me a short time ago, I
have been thinking, rather hastily, over the matter; and the fact of
hearing about the place for an able-bodied man, as I just mentioned,
has led me to call around and suggest your making interest therefor
in behalf of Gardiner. Helping him in this way will be true
benevolence."

"It's no use," replied Mr. Jonas, in a positive tone of voice. "He's
an idle good-for-nothing fellow, and I'll have nothing to do with
him."

Mr. Prescott urged the matter no farther, for he saw that to do so
would be useless. On his way home, on leaving his store, he called
to see Gardiner. He found, in two small, meagerly furnished rooms, a
man, his wife, and three children. Everything about them indicated
extreme poverty; and, worse than this, lack of cleanliness and
industry. The woman and children had a look of health, but the man
was evidently the subject of some wasting disease. His form was
light, his face thin and rather pale, and his languid eyes deeply
sunken. He was very far from being the able-bodied man Mr. Prescott
had expected to find. As the latter stepped into the miserable room
where they were gathered, the light of expectation, mingled with the
shadows of mute suffering, came into their countenances. Mr.
Prescott was a close observer, and saw, at a glance, the assumed
sympathy-exciting face of the mendicant in each.

"You look rather poor here," said he, as he took a chair, which the
woman dusted with her dirty apron before handing it to him.

"Indeed, sir, and we are miserably off," replied the woman, in a
half whining tone. "John, there, hasn't done a stroke of work now
for three months; and--"

"Why not!" interrupted Mr. Prescott.

"My health is very poor," said the man. "I suffer much from pain in
my side and back, and am so weak most of the time, that I can hardly
creep about."

"That is bad, certainly," replied Mr. Prescott, "very bad." And as
he spoke, he turned his eyes to the woman's face, and then scanned
the children very closely.

"Is that boy of yours doing anything?" he inquired.

"No, sir," replied the mother. "He's too young to be of any
account."

"He's thirteen, if my eyes do not deceive me."

"Just a little over thirteen."

"Does he go to school?"

"No sir. He has no clothes fit to be seen in at school."

"Bad--bad," said Mr. Prescott, "very bad. The boy might be earning
two dollars a week; instead of which he is growing up in idleness,
which surely leads to vice."

Gardiner looked slightly confused at this remark, and his wife,
evidently, did not feel very comfortable under the steady, observant
eyes that were on her.

"You seem to be in good health," said Mr. Prescott, looking at the
woman.

"Yes sir, thank God! And if it wasn't for that, I don't know what we
should all have done. Everything has fallen upon me since John,
there, has been ailing."

Mr. Prescott glanced around the room, and then remarked, a little
pleasantly:

"I don't see that you make the best use of your health and
strength."

The woman understood him, for the color came instantly to her face.

"There is no excuse for dirt and disorder," said the visitor, more
seriously. "I once called to see a poor widow, in such a state of
low health that she had to lie in bed nearly half of every day. She
had two small children, and supported herself and them by fine
embroidery, at which she worked nearly all the time. I never saw a
neater room in my life than hers, and her children, though in very
plain and patched clothing, were perfectly clean. How different is
all here; and yet, when I entered, you all sat idly amid this
disorder, and--shall I speak plainly--filth."

The woman, on whose face the color had deepened while Mr. Prescott
spoke, now rose up quickly, and commenced bustling about the room,
which, in a few moments, looked far less in disorder. That she felt
his rebuke, the visiter regarded as a good sign.

"Now," said he, as the woman resumed her seat, "let me give you the
best maxim for the poor in the English language; one that, if lived
by, will soon extinguish poverty, or make it a very light
thing,--'God helps those who help themselves.' To be very plain with
you, it is clear to my eyes, that you do not try to help yourselves;
such being the case, you need not expect gratuitous help from God.
Last evening you received some coal and a basket of provisions from
a kind-hearted man, who promised more efficient aid to-day. You have
not yet heard from him, and what is more, will not hear from him.
Some one, to whom he applied for a contribution happened to know
more about you than he did, and broadly pronounced you a set of idle
vagabonds. Just think of bearing such a character! He dropped the
matter at once, and you will get nothing from him. I am one of those
upon whom he called. Now, if you are all disposed to help
yourselves, I will try to stand your friend. If not, I shall have
nothing to do with you. I speak plainly; it is better; there will be
less danger of apprehension. That oldest boy of yours must go to
work and earn something. And your daughter can work about the house
for you very well, while you go out to wash, or scrub, and thus earn
a dollar or two, or three, every week. There will be no danger of
starvation on this income, and you will then eat your bread in
independence. Mr. Gardiner can help some, I do not in the least
doubt."

And Mr. Prescott looked inquiringly at the man.

"If I was only able-bodied," said Gardiner, in a half reluctant tone
and manner.

"But you are not. Still, there are many things you may do. If by a
little exertion you can earn the small sum of two or three dollars a
week, it will be far better--even for your health--than idleness.
Two dollars earned every week by your wife, two by your boy, and
three by yourself, would make seven dollars a week; and if I am not
very much mistaken, you don't see half that sum in a week now."

"Indeed, sir, and you speak the truth there," said the woman.

"Very well. It's plain, then, that work is better than idleness."

"But we can't get work." The woman fell back upon this strong
assertion.

"Don't believe a word of it. I can tell you how to earn half a
dollar a day for the next four or five days at least. So there's a
beginning for you. Put yourself in the way of useful employment, and
you will have no difficulty beyond."

"What kind of work, sir?" inquired the woman.

"We are about moving into a new house, and my wife commences the
work of having it cleaned to-morrow morning. She wants another
assistant. Will you come?"

The woman asked the number of his residence, and promised to accept
the offer of work.

"Very well. So far so good," said Mr. Prescott, cheerfully, as he
arose. "You shall be paid at the close of each day's work; and that
will give you the pleasure of eating your own bread--a real
pleasure, you may depend upon it; for a loaf of bread earned is
sweeter than the richest food bestowed by charity, and far better
for the health."

"But about the boy, sir?" said Gardiner, whose mind was becoming
active with more independent thoughts.

"All in good time," said Mr. Prescott smiling. "Rome was not built
in a day, you know. First let us secure a beginning. If your wife
goes to-morrow, I shall think her in earnest; as willing to help
herself, and, therefore, worthy to be helped. All the rest will come
in due order. But you may rest assured, that, if she does not come
to work, it is the end of the matter as far as I am concerned. So
good evening to you."

Bright and early came Mrs. Gardiner on the next morning, far tidier
in appearance than when Mr. Prescott saw her before. She was a
stout, strong woman, and knew how to scrub and clean paint as well
as the best. When fairly in the spirit of work, she worked on with a
sense of pleasure. Mrs. Prescott was well satisfied with her
performance, and paid her the half dollar earned when her day's toil
was done. On the next day, and the next, she came, doing her work
and receiving her wages.

On the evening of the third day, Mr. Prescott thought it time to
call upon the Gardiners.

"Well this is encouraging!" said he, with an expression of real
pleasure, as he gazed around the room, which scarcely seemed like
the one he had visited before. All was clean, and everything in
order; and, what was better still, the persons of all, though poorly
clad, were clean and tidy. Mrs. Gardiner sat by the table mending a
garment; her daughter was putting away the supper dishes; while the
man sat teaching a lesson in spelling to their youngest child.

The glow of satisfaction that pervaded the bosom of each member of
the family, as Mr. Prescott uttered these approving words, was a new
and higher pleasure than had for a long time been experienced, and
caused the flame of self-respect and self-dependence, rekindled once
more, to rise upwards in a steady flame.

"I like to see this," continued Mr. Prescott. "It does me good. You
have fairly entered the right road. Walk on steadily, courageously,
unweariedly. There is worldly comfort and happiness for you at the
end. I think I have found a very good place for your son, where he
will receive a dollar and a half a week to begin with. In a few
months, if all things suit, he will get two dollars. The work is
easy, and the opportunities for improvement good. I think there is a
chance for you, also, Mr. Gardiner. I have something in my mind that
will just meet your case. Light work, and not over five or six hours
application each day--the wages four dollars a week to begin with,
and a prospect of soon having them raised to six or seven dollars.
What do you think of that?"

"Sir!" exclaimed the poor man, in whom personal pride and a native
love of independence were again awakening, "if you can do this for
me, you will be indeed a benefactor."

"It shall be done," said Mr. Prescott, positively. "Did I not say to
you, that God helps those who help themselves? It is even thus. No
one, in our happy country who is willing to work, need be in want;
and money earned by honest industry buys the sweetest bread."

It required a little watching, and urging, and admonition, on the
part of Mr. and Mrs. Prescott, to keep the Gardiners moving on
steadily, in the right way. Old habits and inclinations had gained
too much power easily to be broken; and but for this watchfulness on
their part, idleness and want would again have entered the poor
man's dwelling.

The reader will hardly feel surprise, when told, that in three or
four years from the time Mr. Prescott so wisely met the case of the
indigent Gardiners, they were living in a snug little house of their
own, nearly paid for out of the united industry of the family, every
one of which was now well clad, cheerful, and in active employment.
As for Mr. Gardiner, his health has improved, instead of being
injured by light employment. Cheerful, self-approving thoughts, and
useful labor, have temporarily renovated a fast sinking
constitution.

Mr. Prescott's way of helping the poor is the right way. They must
be taught to help themselves. Mere alms-giving is but a temporary
aid, and takes away, instead of giving, that basis of
self-dependence, on which all should rest. Help a man up, and teach
him to use his feet, so that he can walk alone. This is true
benevolence.



COMMON PEOPLE.


"ARE you going to call upon Mrs. Clayton and her daughters, Mrs.
Marygold?" asked a neighbor, alluding to a family that had just
moved into Sycamore Row.

"No, indeed, Mrs. Lemmington, that I am not. I don't visit
everybody."

"I thought the Claytons were a very respectable family," remarked
Mrs. Lemmington.

"Respectable! Everybody is getting respectable now-a-days. If they
are respectable, it is very lately that they have become so. What is
Mr. Clayton, I wonder, but a school-master! It's too bad that such
people will come crowding themselves into genteel neighborhoods. The
time was when to live in Sycamore Row was guarantee enough for any
one--but, now, all kinds of people have come into it."

"I have never met Mrs. Clayton," remarked Mrs. Lemmington, "but I
have been told that she is a most estimable woman, and that her
daughters have been educated with great care. Indeed, they are
represented as being highly accomplished girls."

"Well, I don't care what they are represented to be. I'm not going
to keep company with a schoolmaster's wife and daughters, that's
certain."

"Is there anything disgraceful in keeping a school?"

"No, nor in making shoes, either. But, then, that's no reason why I
should keep company with my shoemaker's wife, is it? Let common
people associate together--that's my doctrine."

"But what do you mean by common people, Mrs. Marygold?"

"Why, I mean common people. Poor people. People who have not come of
a respectable family. That's what I mean."

"I am not sure that I comprehend your explanation much better than I
do your classification. If you mean, as you say, poor people, your
objection will not apply with full force to the Claytons, for they
are now in tolerably easy circumstances. As to the family of Mr.
Clayton, I believe his father was a man of integrity, though not
rich. And Mrs. Clayton's family I know to be without reproach of any
kind."

"And yet they are common people for all that," persevered Mrs.
Marygold. "Wasn't old Clayton a mere petty dealer in small wares.
And wasn't Mrs. Clayton's father a mechanic?"

"Perhaps, if some of us were to go back for a generation or two, we
might trace out an ancestor who held no higher place in society,"
Mrs. Lemmington remarked, quietly. "I have no doubt but that I
should."

"I have no fears of that kind," replied Mrs. Marygold, in an
exulting tone. "I shall never blush when my pedigree is traced."

"Nor I neither, I hope. Still, I should not wonder if some one of my
ancestors had disgraced himself, for there are but few families that
are not cursed with a spotted sheep. But I have nothing to do with
that, and ask only to be judged by what I am--not by what my
progenitors have been."

"A standard that few will respect, let me tell you."

"A standard that far the largest portion of society will regard as
the true one, I hope," replied Mrs. Lemmington. "But, surely, you do
not intend refusing to call upon the Claytons for the reason you
have assigned, Mrs. Marygold."

"Certainly I do. They are nothing but common people, and therefore
beneath me. I shall not stoop to associate with them."

"I think that I will call upon them. In fact, my object in dropping
in this morning was to see if you would not accompany me," said Mrs.
Lemmington.

"Indeed, I will not, and for the reasons I have given. They are only
common people. You will be stooping."

"No one stoops in doing a kind act. Mrs. Clayton is a stranger in
the neighborhood, and is entitled to the courtesy of a call, if no
more; and that I shall extend to her. If I find her to be
uncongenial in her tastes, no intimate acquaintanceship need be
formed. If she is congenial, I will add another to my list of valued
friends. You and I, I find, estimate differently. I judge every
individual by merit, you by family, or descent."

"You can do as you please," rejoined Mrs. Marygold, somewhat coldly.
"For my part, I am particular about my associates. I will visit Mrs.
Florence, and Mrs. Harwood, and such an move in good society, but as
to your schoolteachers' wives and daughters, I must beg to be
excused."

"Every one to her taste," rejoined Mrs. Lemmington, with a smile, as
she moved towards the door, where she stood for a few moments to
utter some parting compliments, and then withdrew.

Five minutes afterwards she was shown into Mrs. Clayton's parlors,
where, in a moment or two, she was met by the lady upon whom she had
called, and received with an air of easy gracefulness, that at once
charmed her. A brief conversation convinced her that Mrs. Clayton
was, in intelligence and moral worth, as far above Mrs. Marygold, as
that personage imagined herself to be above her. Her daughters, who
came in while she sat conversing with their mother, showed
themselves to possess all those graces of mind and manner that win
upon our admiration so irresistably. An hour passed quickly and
pleasantly, and then Mrs. Lemmington withdrew.

The difference between Mrs. Lemmington and Mrs. Marygold was simply
this. The former had been familiar with what is called the best
society from her earliest recollection, and being therefore,
constantly in association with those looked upon as the upper class,
knew nothing of the upstart self-estimation which is felt by certain
weak ignorant persons, who by some accidental circumstance are
elevated far above the condition into which they moved originally.
She could estimate true worth in humble garb as well as in velvet
and rich satins. She was one of those individuals who never pass an
old and worthy domestic in the street without recognition, or
stopping to make some kind inquiry--one who never forgot a familiar
face, or neglected to pass a kind word to even the humblest who
possessed the merit of good principles. As to Mrs. Marygold,
notwithstanding her boast in regard to pedigree, there were not a
few who could remember when her grandfather carried a pedlar's pack
on his back--and an honest and worthy pedlar he was, saving his
pence until they became pounds, and then relinquishing his
peregrinating propensities, for the quieter life of a small
shop-keeper. His son, the father of Mrs. Marygold, while a boy had a
pretty familiar acquaintance with low life. But, as soon as his
father gained the means to do so, he was put to school and furnished
with a good education. Long before he was of age, the old man had
become a pretty large shipper; and when his son arrived at mature
years, he took him into business as a partner. In marrying, Mrs.
Marygold's father chose a young lady whose father, like his own, had
grown rich by individual exertions. This young lady had not a few
false notions in regard to the true genteel, and these fell
legitimately to the share of her eldest daughter, who, when she in
turn came upon the stage of action, married into an old and what was
called a highly respectable family, a circumstance that puffed her
up to the full extent of her capacity to bear inflation. There were
few in the circle of her acquaintances who did not fully appreciate
her, and smile at her weakness and false pride. Mrs. Florence, to
whom she had alluded in her conversation with Mrs. Lemmington, and
who lived in Sycamore Row, was not only faultless in regard to
family connections, but was esteemed in the most intelligent circles
for her rich mental endowments and high moral principles. Mrs.
Harwood, also alluded to, was the daughter of an English barrister
and wife of a highly distinguished professional man, and was besides
richly endowed herself, morally and intellectually. Although Mrs.
Marygold was very fond of visiting them for the mere _eclat_ of the
thing, yet their company was scarcely more agreeable to her, than
hers was to them, for there was little in common between them.
Still, they had to tolerate her, and did so with a good grace.

It was, perhaps, three months after Mrs. Clayton moved into the
neighborhood, that cards of invitation were sent to Mr. and Mrs.
Marygold and daughter to pass a social evening at Mrs. Harwood's.
Mrs. M. was of course delighted and felt doubly proud of her own
importance. Her daughter Melinda, of whom she was excessively vain,
was an indolent, uninteresting girl, too dull to imbibe even a small
portion of her mother's self-estimation. In company, she attracted
but little attention, except what her father's money and standing in
society claimed for her.

On the evening appointed, the Marygolds repaired to the elegant
residence of Mrs. Harwood and were ushered into a large and
brilliant company, more than half of whom were strangers even to
them. Mrs. Lemmington was there, and Mrs. Florence, and many others
with whom Mrs. Marygold was on terms of intimacy, besides several
"distinguished strangers." Among those with whom Mrs. Marygold was
unacquainted, were two young ladies who seemed to attract general
attention. They were not showy, chattering girls, such as in all
companies attract a swarm of shallow-minded young fellows about
them. On the contrary, there was something retiring, almost shrinking
in their manner, that shunned rather than courted observation. And yet,
no one, who, attracted by their sweet, modest faces, found himself by
their side that did not feel inclined to linger there.

"Who are those girls, Mrs. Lemmington?" asked Mrs. Marygold, meeting
the lady she addressed in crossing the room.

"The two girls in the corner who are attracting so much attention?"

"Yes."

"Don't you know them?"

"I certainly do not."

"They are no common persons, I can assure you, Mrs. Marygold."

"Of course, or they would not be found here. But who are they?"

"Ah, Mrs. Lemmington! how are you?" said a lady, coming up at this
moment, and interrupting the conversation. "I have been looking for
you this half hour." Then, passing her arm within that of the
individual she had addressed, she drew her aside before she had a
chance to answer Mrs. Marygold's question.

In a few minutes after, a gentleman handed Melinda to the piano, and
there was a brief pause as she struck the instrument, and commenced
going through the unintelligible intricacies of a fashionable piece
of music. She could strike all the notes with scientific correctness
and mechanical precision. But there was no more expression in her
performance than there is in that of a musical box. After she had
finished her task, she left the instrument with a few words of
commendation extorted by a feeling of politeness.

"Will you not favor us with a song?" asked Mr. Harwood, going up to
one of the young ladies to whom allusion has just been made.

"My sister sings, I do not," was the modest reply, "but I will take
pleasure in accompanying her."

All eyes were fixed upon them as they moved towards the piano,
accompanied by Mr. Harwood, for something about their manners,
appearance and conversation, had interested nearly all in the room
who had been led to notice them particularly. The sister who could
not sing, seated herself with an air of easy confidence at the
instrument, while the other stood near her. The first few touches
that passed over the keys showed that the performer knew well how to
give to music a soul. The tones that came forth were not the simple
vibrations of a musical chord, but expressions of affection given by
her whose fingers woke the strings into harmony. But if the
preluding touches fell witchingly upon every ear, how exquisitely
sweet and thrilling was the voice that stole out low and tremulous
at first, and deepened in volume and expression every moment, until
the whole room seemed filled with melody! Every whisper was hushed,
and every one bent forward almost breathlessly to listen. And when,
at length, both voice and instrument were hushed into silence, no
enthusiastic expressions of admiration were heard, but only
half-whispered ejaculations of "exquisite!" "sweet!" "beautiful!" Then
came earnestly expressed wishes for another and another song, until
the sisters, feeling at length that many must be wearied with their
long continued occupation of the piano, felt themselves compelled to
decline further invitations to sing. No one else ventured to touch a
key of the instrument during the evening.

"Do pray, Mrs. Lemmington, tell me who those girls are--I am dying
to know," said Mrs. Marygold, crossing the room to where the person
she addressed was seated with Mrs. Florence and several other ladies
of "distinction," and taking a chair by her side.

"They are only common people," replied Mrs. Lemmington, with
affected indifference.

"Common people, my dear madam! What do you mean by such an
expression?" said Mrs. Florence in surprise, and with something of
indignation latent in her tone.

"I'm sure their father, Mr. Clayton, is nothing but a teacher."

"Mr. Clayton! Surely those are not Clayton's daughters!" ejaculated
Mrs. Marygold, in surprise.

"They certainly are ma'am," replied Mrs. Florence in a quiet but
firm voice, for she instantly perceived, from something in Mrs.
Marygold's voice and manner, the reason why her friend had alluded
to them as common people.

"Well, really, I am surprised that Mrs. Harwood should have invited
them to her house, and introduced them into genteel company."

"Why so, Mrs. Marygold?"

"Because, as Mrs. Lemmington has just said, they are common people.
Their father is nothing but a schoolmaster."

"If I have observed them rightly," Mrs. Florence said to this, "I
have discovered them to be a rather uncommon kind of people. Almost
any one can thrum on the piano; but you will not find one in a
hundred who can perform with such exquisite grace and feeling as
they can. For half an hour this evening I sat charmed with their
conversation, and really instructed and elevated by the sentiments
they uttered. I cannot say as much for any other young ladies in the
room, for there are none others here above the common run of
ordinarily intelligent girls--none who may not really be classed
with common people in the true acceptation of the term."

"And take them all in all," added Mrs. Lemmington with warmth, "you
will find nothing common about them. Look at their dress; see how
perfect in neatness, in adaptation of colors and arrangement to
complexion and shape, is every thing about them. Perhaps there will
not be found a single young lady in the room, besides them, whose
dress does not show something not in keeping with good taste. Take
their manners. Are they not graceful, gentle, and yet full of
nature's own expression. In a word, is there any thing about them
that is 'common?'"

"Nothing that my eye has detected," replied Mrs. Florence.

"Except their origin," half-sneeringly rejoined Mrs. Marygold.

"They were born of woman," was the grave remark. "Can any of us
boast a higher origin?"

"There are various ranks among women," Mrs. Marygold said, firmly.

"True. But, 'The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gold for a' that.'

"Mere position in society does not make any of us more or less a true
woman. I could name you over a dozen or more in my circle of
acquaintance, who move in what is called the highest rank; who, in
all that truly constitutes a woman, are incomparably below Mrs.
Clayton; who, if thrown with her among perfect strangers, would be
instantly eclipsed. Come then, Mrs. Marygold, lay aside all these
false standards, and estimate woman more justly. Let me, to begin,
introduce both yourself and Melinda to the young ladies this
evening. You will be charmed with them, I know, and equally charmed
with their mother when you know her."

"No, ma'am," replied Mrs. Marygold, drawing herself up with a
dignified air. "I have no wish to cultivate their acquaintance, or
the acquaintance of any persons in their station. I am surprised
that Mrs. Harwood has not had more consideration for her friends
than to compel them to come in contact with such people."

No reply was made to this; and the next remark of Mrs. Florence was
about some matter of general interest.

"Henry Florence has not been here for a week," said Mrs. Marygold to
her daughter Melinda, some two months after the period at which the
conversation just noted occurred.

"No; and he used to come almost every evening," was Melinda's reply,
made in a tone that expressed disappointment.

"I wonder what can be the reason?" Mrs. Marygold said, half aloud,
half to herself, but with evident feelings of concern. The reason of
her concern and Melinda's disappointment arose from the fact that
both had felt pretty sure of securing Henry Florence as a member of
the Marygold family--such connection, from his standing in society,
being especially desirable.

At the very time the young man was thus alluded to by Mrs. Marygold
and her daughter, he sat conversing with his mother upon a subject
that seemed, from the expression of his countenance, to be of much
interest to him.

"So you do not feel inclined to favor any preference on my part
towards Miss Marygold?" he said, looking steadily into his mother's
face.

"I do not, Henry," was the frank reply.

"Why not?"

"There is something too common about her, if I may so express
myself."

"Too common! What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that there is no distinctive character about her. She is,
like the large mass around us, a mere made-up girl."

"Speaking in riddles."

"I mean then, Henry, that her character has been formed, or made up,
by mere external accretions from the common-place, vague, and often
too false notions of things that prevail in society, instead of by
the force of sound internal principles, seen to be true from a
rational intuition, and acted upon because they are true. Cannot you
perceive the difference?"

"O yes, plainly. And this is why you use the word 'common,' in
speaking of her?"

"The reason. And now my son, can you not see that there is force in
my objection to her--that she really possess any character
distinctively her own, that is founded upon a clear and rational
appreciation of abstractly correct principles of action?"

"I cannot say that I differ from you very widely," the young man
said, thoughtfully. "But, if you call Melinda 'common,' where shall
I go to find one who may be called 'uncommon?'"

"I can point you to one."

"Say on."

"You have met Fanny Clayton?"

"Fanny Clayton!" ejaculated the young man, taken by surprise, the
blood rising to his face. "O yes, I have met her."

"She is no common girl, Henry," Mrs. Florence said, in a serious
voice. "She has not her equal in my circle of acquaintances."

"Nor in mine either," replied the young man, recovering himself.
"But you would not feel satisfied to have your son address Miss
Clayton?"

"And why not, pray? Henry, I have never met with a young lady whom I
would rather see your wife than Fanny Clayton."

"And I," rejoined the young man with equal warmth, "never met with
any one whom I could truly love until I saw her sweet young face."

"Then never think again of one like Melinda Marygold. You could not
be rationally happy with her."

Five or six months rolled away, during a large portion of which time
the fact that Henry Florence was addressing Fanny Clayton formed a
theme for pretty free comment in various quarters. Most of Henry's
acquaintance heartily approved his choice; but Mrs. Marygold, and a
few like her, all with daughters of the "common" class, were deeply
incensed at the idea of a "common kind of a girl" like Miss Clayton
being forced into genteel society, a consequence that would of
course follow her marriage. Mrs. Marygold hesitated not to declare
that for her part, let others do as they liked, she was not going to
associate with her--that was settled. She had too much regard to
what was due to her station in life. As for Melinda, she had no very
kind feelings for her successful rival--and such a rival too! A mere
schoolmaster's daughter! And she hesitated not to speak of her often
and in no very courteous terms.

When the notes of invitation to the wedding at length came, which
ceremony was to be performed in the house of Mr. Clayton, in
Sycamore Row, Mrs. Marygold declared that to send her an invitation
to go to such a place was a downright insult. As the time, however,
drew near, and she found that Mrs. Harwood and a dozen others
equally respectable in her eyes were going to the wedding, she
managed to smother her indignation so far as, at length, to make up
her mind to be present at the nuptial ceremonies. But it was not
until her ears were almost stunned by the repeated and earnestly
expressed congratulations to Mrs. Florence at the admirable choice
made by her son, and that too by those whose tastes and opinions she
dared not dispute, that she could perceive any thing even passable
in the beautiful young bride.

Gradually, however, as the younger Mrs. Florence, in the process of
time, took her true position in the social circle, even Mrs.
Marygold could begin to perceive the intrinsic excellence of her
character, although even this was more a tacit assent to a universal
opinion than a discovery of her own.

As for Melinda, she was married about a year after Fanny Clayton's
wedding, to a sprig of gentility with about as much force of
character as herself. This took place on the same night that Lieut.
Harwood, son of Mrs. Harwood before alluded to, led to the altar
Mary Clayton, the sister of Fanny, who was conceded by all, to be
the loveliest girl they had ever seen--lovely, not only in face and
form, but loveliness itself in the sweet perfections of moral
beauty. As for Lieut. Harwood, he was worthy of the heart he had
won.



MAKING A SENSATION.


"Do you intend going to Mrs. Walshingham's party, next week,
Caroline?" asked Miss Melvina Fenton of her friend Caroline Gay. "It
is said that it will be a splendid affair."

"I have not made up my mind, Melvina."

"O you'll go of course. I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"I am much inclined to think that I will stay at home or spend my
evening in some less brilliant assemblage," Caroline Gay replied in
a quiet tone.

"Nonsense, Caroline! There hasn't been such a chance to make a
sensation this season."

"And why should I wish to make a sensation, Melvina?"

"Because it's the only way to attract attention. Now-a-days, the
person who creates a sensation, secures the prize that a dozen
quiet, retiring individuals are looking and longing after, in vain.
We must dazzle if we would win."

"That is, we must put on false colors, and deceive not only
ourselves, but others."

"How strangely you talk, Caroline! Every one now is attracted by
show and _eclat_."

"Not every one, I hope, Melvina."

"Show me an exception."

Caroline smiled as she answered,

"Your friend Caroline, as you call her, I hope is one."

"Indeed! And I suppose I must believe you. But come, don't turn
Puritan. You are almost behind the age, as it is, and if you don't
take care, you will get clear out of date, and either live and die
an old maid, or have to put up with one of your quiet inoffensive
gentlemen who hardly dare look a real brilliant belle in the face."

Caroline Gay could not help smiling at her friend's light bantering,
even while she felt inclined to be serious in consideration of the
false views of life that were influencing the conduct and affecting
the future prospects of one, whose many good qualities of heart, won
her love.

"And if I should get off," she said, "with one of those quiet
gentlemen you allude to, it will be about the height of my
expectation."

"Well, you are a queer kind of a girl, any how! But, do you know why
I want to make a sensation at Mrs. Walshingham's?"

"No. I would be pleased to hear."

"Then I will just let you into a bit of a secret. I've set my heart
on making a conquest of Henry Clarence."

"Indeed!" ejaculated Caroline, with an emphasis that would have
attracted Melvina's attention, had her thoughts and feelings not
been at the moment too much engaged.

"Yes, I have. He's so calm and cold, and rigidly polite to me
whenever we meet, that I am chilled with the frigid temperature of
the atmosphere that surrounds him. But as he is a prize worth the
trouble of winning, I have set my heart on melting him down, and
bringing him to my feet."

Caroline smiled as her friend paused, but did not reply.

"I know half a dozen girls now, who are breaking their hearts after
him," continued the maiden. "But I'll disappoint them all, if there
is power in a woman's winning ways to conquer. So you see, my lady
Gay--Grave it should be--that I have some of the strongest reasons
in the world, for wishing to be present at the 'come off' next week.
Now you'll go, won't you?"

"Perhaps I will, if it's only to see the effect of your
demonstrations on the heart of Henry Clarence. But he is one of your
quiet, inoffensive gentlemen, Melvina. How comes it that you set him
as a prize?"

"If he is quiet, there is fire in him. I've seen his eye flash, and
his countenance brighten with thought too often, not to know of what
kind of stuff he is made."

"And if I were to judge of his character, he is not one to be caught
by effect," Caroline remarked.

"O, as to that, all men have their weak side. There isn't one, trust
me, who can withstand the brilliant attractions of the belle of the
ball room, such as, pardon my vanity, I hope to be on next Tuesday
evening. I have seen a little of the world in my time, and have
always observed, that whoever can eclipse all her fair compeers at
one of these brilliant assemblages, possesses, for the time, a power
that may be used to advantage. All the beaux flock around her, and
vie with each other in kind attentions. If, then, she distinguish
some individual of them above the rest, by her marked reciprocation
of his attentions, he is won. The grateful fellow will never forsake
her."

"Quite a reasoner, upon my word! And so in this way you intend
winning Henry Clarence?"

"Of course I do. At least, I shall try hard."

"And you will fail, I am much disposed to think."

"I'm not sure of that. Henry Clarence is but a man."

"Yet he is too close an observer to be deceived into any strong
admiration of a ball-room belle."

"You are behind the age, Caroline. Your quiet unobtrusiveness will I
fear cause you to be passed by, while some one not half so worthy,
will take the place which you should have held in the affections of
a good husband."

"Perhaps so. But, I wish to be taken for what I am. I want no man,
who has not the good sense and discrimination to judge of my real
character."

"You will die an old maid, Caroline."

"That may be. But, in all sincerity, I must say that I hope not."

"You will go to the ball, of course?"

"I think I will, Melvina."

"Well, that settled, what are you going to wear?"

"Something plain and simple, of course. But I have not thought of
that."

"O don't Caroline. You will make yourself singular."

"I hope not, for I dislike singularity. But how are you going to
dress? Splendid, of course, as you expect to make a sensation."

"I'll try my best, I can assure you?"

"Well, what kind of a dress are you going to appear in?"

"I have ordered a robe of blue tulle, to be worn over blue silk. The
robe to be open in front, of course, and confined to the silk-skirt
with variegated roses."

"And your head-dress?"

"I shall have my hair ornamented with variegated roses, arranged
over the brow like a coronet. Now, how do you like that?"

"Not at all."

"O, of course not. I might have known that your taste was too
uneducated for that."

"And I hope it will ever remain so, Melvina."

"But how will _you_ dress, Caroline. Do let me hear, that I may put
you right if you fix on any thing _outre_."

"Well, really, Melvina, I have not given the subject a thought. But
it never takes me long to choose. Let me see. A plain--"

"Not plain, Caroline, for mercy sake!"

"Yes. A plain white dress, of India muslin."

"Plain white! O, don't Caroline--let me beg of you."

"Yes, white it shall be."

"Plain white! Why nobody will see you!"

"O, yes. Among all you gay butterflies, I will become the observed
of all observers," said Caroline, laughing.

"Don't flatter yourself. But you will have some pink trimming, will
you not?"

"No, not a flower, nor ribbon, nor cord, nor tassel."

"You will be an object of ridicule."

"Not in a polite company of gentlemen and ladies, I hope!"

"No; but--. And your head-dress, Caroline. That I hope will atone
for the rest."

"No, my own dark hair, plain--"

"For mercy sake, Caroline! Not plain."

"Yes, my hair plain."

"And no ornament!"

"O, yes--a very beautiful one."

"Ah, that may help a little. A ray of sunshine on a barren waste."

"A simple sprig of buds and half blown flowers."

"The color?"

"White, of course."

"You are an original, Caroline. But I suppose I can't make you
change your taste?"

"I hope not, Melvina."

"I am sorry that I shall be compelled to throw you so far in the
shade, my little Quakeress friend. The world will never know half
your real worth, Caroline. You are hiding your light.

  "Many a gem of purest ray serene,
  The deep unfathomed caves of ocean bear--
  Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
  And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

And as she repeated these lines, applying them to her friend,
Melvina rose to depart.

"You are resolved on trying to make a sensation, then?" said
Caroline.

"Of course, and what is more, I will succeed."

"And win Henry Clarence?"

"I hope so. He must be made of sterner stuff than I think him, if I
do not."

"Well, we shall see."

"Yes, we will. But good-bye; I must go to the mantua-maker's this
morning, to complete my orders."

After Melvina Felton had gone, Caroline Gay's manner changed a good
deal. Her cheek, the color of which had heightened during her
conversation with her friend, still retained its beautiful glow, but
the expression of her usually calm face was changed, and slightly
marked by what seemed troubled thoughts. She sat almost motionless
for nearly two minutes, and then rose up slowly with a slight sigh,
and went to her chamber.

It was early on the same evening that Henry Clarence, the subject of
her conversation with Melvina, called in, as he not unfrequently
did, to spend an hour in pleasant conversation with Caroline Gay. He
found her in the parlor reading.

"At your books, I see," he remarked, in a pleasant tone, as he
entered.

"Yes; I find my thoughts need exciting by contact with the thoughts
of others. A good book helps us much sometimes."

"You were reading a book then. May I ask its author?"

"Degerando."

"You are right in calling this a good book, Caroline," he said,
glancing at the title page, to which she had opened, as she handed
him the volume. "Self-education is a most important matter, and with
such a guide as Degerando, few can go wrong."

"So I think. He is not so abstract, nor does he border on
transcendentalism, like Coleridge, who notwithstanding these
peculiarities I am yet fond of reading. Degerando opens for you your
own heart, and not only opens it, but gives you the means of
self-control at every point of your exploration."

The beautiful countenance of Caroline was lit up by pure thoughts,
and Henry Clarence could not help gazing upon her with a lively
feeling of admiration.

"I cannot but approve your taste," he said.--"But do you not also
read the lighter works of the day?"

"I do not certainly pass all these by. I would lose much were I to
do so. But I read only a few, and those emanating from such minds as
James, Scott, and especially our own Miss Sedgwick. The latter is
particularly my favorite. Her pictures, besides being true to
nature, are pictures of home. The life she sketches, is the life
that is passing all around us--perhaps in the family, unknown to us,
who hold the relation of next door neighbors."

"Your discrimination is just. After reading Miss Sedgwick, our
sympathies for our fellow creatures take a more humane range. We are
moved by an impulse to do good--to relieve the suffering--to
regulate our own action in regard to others by a higher and better
rule. You are a reader of the poets, too--and like myself, I
believe, are an admirer of Wordsworth's calm and deep sympathy with
the better and nobler principles of our nature."

"The simple beauty of Wordsworth has ever charmed me. How much of
the good and true, like precious jewels set in gold, are scattered
thickly over his pages!"

"And Byron and Shelly--can you not enjoy them?" Clarence asked, with
something of lively interest in her reply, expressed in his
countenance.

"It were but an affectation to say that I can find nothing in them
that is beautiful, nothing to please, nothing to admire. I have read
many things in the writings of these men that were exquisitely
beautiful. Many portions of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage are not
surpassed for grandeur, beauty, and force, in the English language:
and the Alastor of Shelly, is full of passages of exquisite
tenderness and almost unequalled finish of versification. But I have
never laid either of them down with feelings that I wished might
remain. They excite the mind to a feverish and unhealthy action. We
find little in them to deepen our sympathies with our
fellows--little to make better the heart, or wiser the head."

"You discriminate with clearness, Caroline," he said; "I did not
know that you looked so narrowly into the merits of the world's
favorites. But to change the subject; do you intend going to Mrs.
Walsingham's next week?"

"Yes, I think I will be there."

"Are you fond of such assemblages?" the young man asked.

"Not particularly so," Caroline replied. "But I think it right to
mingle in society, although all of its forms are not pleasant to
me."

"And why do you mingle in it then, if its sphere is uncongenial?"

"I cannot say, Mr. Clarence, that it is altogether uncongenial.
Wherever we go, into society, we come in contact with much that is
good. Beneath the false glitter, often assumed and worn without the
heart's being in it, but from a weak spirit of conformity, lies much
that is sound in principle, and healthy in moral life. In mingling,
then, in society, we aid to develope and strengthen these good
principles in others. We encourage, often, the weak and wavering,
and bring back such as are beginning to wander from the simple
dignity and truth of nature."

"But is there not danger of our becoming dazzled by the false
glitter?"

"There may be. But we need not fear this, if we settle in our minds
a right principle of action, and bind ourselves firmly to that
principle."

A pause followed this last remark, and then the subject of
conversation was again changed to one of a more general nature.

An evening or two after, Henry Clarence called in to see Melvina
Fenton. Melvina was what may be called a showy girl. Her
countenance, which was really beautiful, when animated, attracted
every eye. She had a constant flow of spirits, had dipped into many
books, and could make a little knowledge in these matters go a great
way. Clarence could not conceal from himself that he admired
Melvina, and, although his good sense and discrimination opposed
this admiration, he could rarely spend an evening with Miss Fenton,
without a strong prepossession in her favor. Still, with her, as
with every one, he maintained a consistency of character that
annoyed her. He could not be brought to flatter her in any way; and
for this she thought him cold, and often felt under restraint in his
society. One thing in her which he condemned, was her love of dress.
Often he would express a wonder to himself, how a young woman of her
good sense and information could be guilty of such a glaring
departure from true taste.

On this evening she received him in her very best manner. And she
was skilful at acting; so skilful, as even to deceive the keen eye
of Henry Clarence. Fully resolved on making a conquest, she studied
his character, and tried to adapt herself to it.

"I have your favorite here," she remarked, during the evening,
lifting a copy of Wordsworth from the centre table.

"Ah, indeed! so you have. Do you ever look into him, Miss Fenton?"

"O yes. I did not know what a treasure was hid in this volume,
until, from hearing your admiration of Wordsworth, I procured and
read it with delighted interest."

"I am glad that you are not disappointed. If you have a taste for
his peculiar style of thinking and writing, you have in that volume
an inexhaustible source of pleasure."

"I have discovered that, Mr. Clarence, and must thank you for the
delight I have received, and I hope I shall continue to receive."

Nearly two hours were spent by the young man in the company of Miss
Fenton, when he went away, more prepossessed in her favor than he
had yet been. She had played her part to admiration. The truth was,
Wordsworth, except in a few pieces, she had voted a dull book. By
tasking herself, she had mastered some passages, to which she
referred during the evening, and thus obtained credit for being far
more familiar with the poet of nature than she ever was or ever
would be. She went upon the principle of making a sensation, and
thus carrying hearts, or the heart she wished to assault, by storm.

"I believe that I really love that girl," Henry Clarence said, on
the evening before the party at Mrs. Walsingham's to a young friend.

"Who, Melvina Fenton?"

"Yes."

"She is certainly a beautiful girl."

"And interesting and intelligent."

"Yes--I know of no one who, in comparison with her, bears off the
palm."

"And still, there is one thing about her that I do not like. She is
too fond of dress and display."

"O, that is only a little foible. No one is altogether perfect."

"True--and the fault with me is, in looking after perfection."

"Yes, I think you expect too much."

"She is affectionate, and that will make up for many deficiencies.
And what is more, I can see plainly enough that her heart is
interested. The brightening of her cheek, the peculiar expression of
her eye, not to be mistaken, when certain subjects are glanced at,
convince me that I have only to woo to win her."

"What do you think of Caroline Gay?" asked his friend.

"Well, really, I can hardly tell what to think of her. She has
intelligence, good sense, and correct views on almost every subject.
But she is the antipodes of Melvina in feeling. If she were not so
calm and cold, I could love her; but I do not want a stoic for a
wife. I want a heart that will leap to my own, and send its emotion
to the cheek and eye."

"I am afraid you will not find an angel in this world," his friend
said, smiling.

"No, nor do I want an angel. But I want as perfect a woman as I can
get."

"You will have to take Melvina, then, for she has three exceeding
good qualities, at least, overshadowing all others."

"And what are they?"

"Beauty."

"Well?"

"An affectionate heart."

"Something to be desired above every thing else. And her next good
quality?"

"Her father is worth a 'plum.'"

"I would dispense with that, were she less fond of show, and effect,
and gay company."

"O, they are only the accompaniments of girlhood. As a woman and a
wife, she will lay them all aside."

"I should certainly hope so, were I going to link my lot with hers."

"Why, I thought your mind was made up."

"Not positively. I must look on a little longer, and scan a little
closer before I commit myself."

"Well, success to your marrying expedition. I belong yet to the free
list."

In due time Mrs. Walshingham's splendid affair came off.

"Isn't she an elegant woman!" exclaimed a young man in an under
tone, to a friend, who stood near Henry Clarence, as Melvina swept
into the room dressed in a style of elegance and effect that
attracted every eye.

"Beautiful!" responded his companion. "I must dance with her
to-night. I always make a point to have one round at least with the
belle of the ball-room."

The individual who last spoke, was well known to all in that room as
the betrayer of innocence. And Henry Clarence felt his cheek burn
and his heart bound with an indignant throb as he heard this remark.

"He will be disappointed, or I am mistaken," he said to himself as
the two, who had been conversing near him, moved to another part of
the room. "But if Melvina Fenton has so little of that sensitive
innocence, that shrinks from the presence of guilt as to dance with
him, and suffer her hand to be touched by his, my mind is made up. I
will never marry her."

"She is the queen of beauty to-night, Clarence," said a friend
coming to Henry's side, and speaking in an under tone.

"She is, indeed, very beautiful; but I cannot help thinking a little
too showy. Her dress would be very good for the occasion were those
variegated roses taken from their blue ground. Flowers never grow on
such a soil; and her head dress is by far too conspicuous, and by no
means in good taste."

"Why you are critical to-night, Clarence. I thought Melvina one of
your favorites?"

"I must confess a little good will towards her, and perhaps that is
the reason of my being somewhat particular in my observation of her
style of dress. Certainly, she makes a most decided sensation here
to-night; for every eye is upon her, and every tongue, that I have
yet heard speak is teeming with words of admiration."

"That she does," responded the friend. "Every other girl in the room
will be dying of envy or neglect before the evening is over."

"That would speak little for the gallantry of the men or the good
sense of the young ladies," was the quiet reply.

Several times the eye of Henry Clarence wandered around the room in
search of Caroline--but he did not see her in the gay assemblage.

"She told me she would be here," he mentally said, "and I should
really like to mark the contrast between her and the brilliant Miss
Fenton. Oh! there she is, as I live, leaning on the arm of her
father, the very personification of innocence and beauty. But her
face is too calm by half. I fear she is cold."

Truly was she as Henry Clarence had said, the personification of
innocence and beauty. Her dress of snowy whiteness, made perfectly
plain, and fitting well a figure that was rather delicate, but of
exquisite symmetry, contrasted beautifully with the gay and
flaunting attire of those around her. Her head could boast but a
single ornament, besides her own tastefully arranged hair, and that
was a sprig of buds and half-blown flowers as white as the dress she
had chosen for the evening. Her calm sweet face looked sweeter and
more innocent than ever, for the contrast of the whole scene
relieved her peculiar beauty admirably.

"An angel?" ejaculated a young man by the side of Clarence, moving
over towards the part of the room where Caroline stood, still
leaning on the arm of her father.

"We wanted but you to make our tableau complete," he said, with a
graceful bow. "Let me relieve you, Mr. Gay, of the care of this
young lady," he added offering his arm to Caroline--and in the next
minute he had joined the promenade with the sweetest creature in the
room by his side.

The beautiful contrast that was evident to all, between Caroline,
the plainest-dressed maiden in the room, and Melvina the gayest and
most imposing, soon drew all eyes upon the former, and Melvina had
the discrimination to perceive that she had a rival near the throne,
in one whom she little dreamed of fearing; and whose innocent heart
she knew too well to accuse of design.

Soon cotillion parties were formed, and among the first to offer his
hand to Melvina, was a young man named Sheldon, the same alluded to
as declaring that he would dance with her, as he always did with the
belle of the ball room. Melvina knew his character well, and Henry
Clarence was aware that she possessed this knowledge. His eye was
upon her, and she knew it. But she did not know of the determination
that he formed or else she would have hesitated.

"The most splendid man in the room, and the most graceful dancer,"
were the thoughts that glanced through her mind, as she smiled an
assent to his invitation to become his partner. "I shall not yet
lose my power."

And now all eyes were again upon the brilliant beauty threading the
mazy circles, with glowing cheek and sparkling eye. And few thought
of blaming her for dancing with Sheldon, whose character ought to
have banished him from virtuous society. But there was one whose
heart sickened as he looked on, and that one was Henry Clarence. He
lingered near the group of dancers but a few minutes, and then
wandered away to another room.

"Permit me to transfer my company, Mr. Clarence," said the young man
who had thus far monopolized the society of Caroline Gay. "I will
not be selfish; and besides, I fear I am becoming too dull for my
fair friend here."

With a bow and a smile, Clarence received on his arm the fair girl.
He felt for her a tenderer regard than had heretofore warmed his
heart, as he strolled through the rooms and listened to her sweet,
penetrating voice. And whenever he turned and looked her in the
face, he saw that in the expression of her eyes which he had never
marked before--something of tenderness that made his own heart beat
with a quicker motion. As they drew near the dancers, they observed
Sheldon with Melvina leaning on his arm, and two or three others,
engaged in making up another cotillion.

"We want but one more couple, and here they are," said Sheldon, as
Clarence and Caroline came up.

"Will you join this set?" asked Clarence, in a low tone.

"Not _this_ one," she replied.

"Miss Gay does not wish to dance now," her companion said, and they
moved away.

But the cotillion was speedily formed without them, and the dance
proceeded.

Half an hour after, while Henry Clarence and Caroline were sitting
on a lounge, engaged in close conversation, Sheldon came up, and
bowing in his most graceful manner, and, with his blandest smile,
said,

"Can I have the pleasure of dancing with Miss Gay, this evening?"

"No, sir," was the quiet, firm reply of the maiden, while she looked
him steadily in the face.

Sheldon turned hurriedly away, for he understood the rebuke, the
first he had yet met with in the refined, fashionable, virtuous
society of one of the largest of the Atlantic cities.

The heart of Henry Clarence blessed the maiden by his side.

"You are not averse to dancing, Caroline?" he said.

"O no. But I do not dance with _every_ one."

"In that you are right, and I honor your decision and independence
of character."

During the remainder of the evening, she danced several times, more
frequently with Henry than with any other, but never in a cotillion
of which Sheldon was one of the partners. Much to the pain and alarm
of Melvina, Clarence did not offer to dance with her once; and long
before the gay assemblage broke up, her appearance had failed to
produce any sensation. The eye tired of viewing her gaudy trapping,
and turned away unsatisfied. But let Caroline go where she would,
she was admired by all. None wearied of her chaste, simple and
beautiful attire; none looked upon her mild, innocent face, without
an expression, tacit or aloud, of admiration. Even the rebuked, and
for a time angered, Sheldon, could not help ever and anon seeking
her out amid the crowd, and gazing upon her with a feeling of
respect that he tried in vain to subdue.

Melvina had sought to produce a "sensation" by gay and imposing
attire, and after a brief and partial success, lost her power. But
Caroline, with no wish to be noticed, much less to be the reigning
belle of the evening, consulting her own pure taste, went in simple
garments, and won the spontaneous admiration of all, and, what was
more, the heart of Henry Clarence. He never, after that evening,
could feel any thing of his former tenderness towards Melvina
Felton. The veil had fallen from his eyes. He saw the difference
between the desire of admiration, and a simple love of truth and
honor, too plainly, to cause him to hesitate a moment longer in his
choice between two so opposite in their characters. And yet, to the
eye of an inattentive observer nothing occurred during the progress
of Mrs. Walshingham's party more than ordinarily takes place on such
occasions. All seemed pleased and happy, and Melvina the happiest of
the whole. And yet she had signally failed in her well-laid scheme
to take the heart of Henry Clarence--while Caroline, with no such
design, and in simply following the promptings of a pure heart and a
right taste, had won his affectionate regard.

It was some three or four months after the party at Mrs.
Walshingham's, that Melvina Fenton and Caroline Gay were alone in
the chamber of the latter, in close and interested conversation.

"I have expected as much," the former said, in answer to some
communication made to her by the latter.

"Then you are not surprised?"

"Not at all."

"And I hope not pained by the intelligence?"

"No, Caroline, not now," her friend said, smiling; "though two or
three months ago it would have almost killed me. I, too, have been
wooed and won."

"Indeed! That is news. And who is it, Melvina? I am eager to know."

"Martin Colburn."

"A gentleman, and every way worthy of your hand. But how in the
world comes it that so quiet and modest a young man as Martin has
now the dashing belle?"

"It has occurred quite naturally, Caroline. The dashing belle has
gained a little more good sense than she had a few months ago. She
has not forgotten the party at Mrs. Walshingham's. And by the bye,
Caroline, how completely you out-generalled me on that occasion. I
had a great mind for a while never to forgive you."

"You are altogether mistaken, Melvina," Caroline said, with a
serious air. "I did not act a part on that occasion. I went but in
my true character, and exhibited no other."

"It was nature, then, eclipsing art; truth of character outshining
the glitter of false assumption. But all that is past, and I am
wiser and better for it, I hope. You will be happy, I know, with
Henry Clarence, for he is worthy of you, and can appreciate your
real excellence; and I shall be happy, I trust, with the man of my
choice."

"No doubt of it, Melvina. And by the way," Caroline said, laughing,
"we shall make another 'sensation,' and then we must be content to
retire into peaceful domestic obscurity. You will have a brilliant
time, I suppose?"

"O yes. I must try my hand at creating one more sensation, the last
and most imposing; and, as my wedding comes the first, you must be
my bridesmaid. You will not refuse?"

"Not if we can agree as to how we are to dress. We ought to be alike
in this, and yet I can never consent to appear in any thing but what
is plain, and beautiful for its simplicity."

"You shall arrange all these. You beat me the last time in creating
a sensation, and now I will give up to your better taste."

And rarely has a bride looked sweeter than did Melvina Fenton on her
wedding-day. Still, she was eclipsed by Caroline, whose native grace
accorded so well with her simple attire, that whoever looked upon
her, looked again, and to admire. The "sensation" they created was
not soon forgotten.

Caroline was married in a week after, and then the fair heroines of
our story passed from the notice of the fashionable world, and were
lost with the thousands who thus yearly desert the gay circles, and
enter the quiet sphere and sweet obscurity of domestic life.



SOMETHING FOR A COLD.


"Henry," said Mr. Green to his little son Henry, a lad in his eighth
year, "I want you to go to the store for me."

Mr. Green was a working-man, who lived in a comfortable cottage,
which he had built from money earned from honest industry. He was,
moreover, a sober, kind-hearted man, well liked by all his
neighbors, and beloved by his own family.

"I'm ready, father," said Henry, who left his play, and went to look
for his cap, the moment he was asked to go on an errand.

"Look in the cupboard, and get the pint flask. It's on the lower
shelf."

Henry did as desired, and then asked--"What shall I get, father?"

"Tell Mr. Brady to send me a pint of good Irish whiskey."

The boy tripped lightly away, singing as he went. He was always
pleased to do an errand for his father.

"This cold of mine gets worse," remarked Mr. Green to his wife, as
Henry left the house. "I believe I'll try old Mr. Vandeusen's
remedy--a bowl of hot whiskey-punch. He says it always cures him; it
throws him into a free perspiration, and the next morning he feels
as clear as a bell."

"It is not always good," remarked Mrs. Green, "to have the pores
open. We are more liable to take cold."

"Very true. It is necessary to be careful how we expose ourselves
afterwards."

"I think I can make you some herb-tea, that would do you as much
good as the whiskey punch," said Mrs. Green.

"Perhaps you could," returned her husband, "but I don't like your
bitter stuff. It never was to my fancy."

Mrs. Green smiled, and said no more.

"A few moments afterwards, the door opened, and Henry came in,
looking pale and frightened.

"Oh, father!" he cried, panting, "Mr. Brooks is killing Margaret!"

"What!" Mr. Green started to his feet.

"Oh!" exclaimed the child, "he's killing her! he's killing her! I
saw him strike her on the head with his fist." And tears rolled over
the boy's cheeks.

Knowing Brooks to be a violent man when intoxicated, Mr. Green lost
not a moment in hesitation or reflection, but left his house
hurriedly, and ran to the dwelling of his neighbor, which was near
at hand. On entering the house, a sad scene presented itself. The
oldest daughter of Brooks, a girl in her seventeenth year, was lying
upon a bed, insensible, while a large bruised and bloody spot on the
side of her face showed where the iron fist of her brutal father had
done its fearful if not fatal work. Her mother bent over her,
weeping; while two little girls were shrinking with frightened looks
into a corner of the room.

Mr. Green looked around for the wretched man, who, in the insanity
of drunkenness, had done this dreadful deed; but he was not to be
seen.

"Where is Mr. Brooks?" he asked.

"He has gone for the doctor," was replied.

And in a few minutes he came in with a physician. He was partially
sobered, and his countenance had a troubled expression. His eyes
shrunk beneath the steady, rebuking gaze of his neighbors.

"Did you say your daughter had fallen down stairs?" said the doctor,
as he leaned over Margaret, and examined the dreadful bruise on her
cheek.

"Yes--yes," stammered the guilty father, adding this falsehood to
the evil act.

"Had the injury been a few inches farther up, she would ere this
have breathed her last," said the doctor--looking steadily at
Brooks, until the eyes of the latter sunk to the floor.

Just then there were signs of returning life in the poor girl, and
the doctor turned towards her all his attention. In a little while,
she began to moan, and moved her arms about, and soon opened her
eyes.

After she was fully restored again to conscious life, Mr. Green
returned to his home, where he was met with eager questions from his
wife.--After describing all he had seen, he made this remark--

"There are few better men than Thomas Brooks when he it sober; but
when he is drunk he acts like a demon."

"He must be a demon to strike with his hard fist, a delicate
creature like his daughter Margaret. And she is so good a girl. Ah,
me! to what dreadful consequences does this drinking lead!"

"It takes away a man's reason," said Mr. Green, "and when this is
gone, he becomes the passive subject of evil influences. He is, in
fact, no longer a man."

Mrs. Green sighed deeply.

"His poor wife!" she murmured; "how my heart aches for her, and his
poor children! If the husband and father changes, from a guardian
and provider for his family, into their brutal assailant, to whom
can they look for protection? Oh, it is sad! sad!"

"It is dreadful! dreadful!" said Mr. Green.--

"It is only a few years ago," he added, "since Brooks began to show
that he was drinking too freely. He always liked his glass, but he
knew how to control himself, and never drowned his reason in his
cups. Of late, however, he seems to have lost all control over
himself. I never saw a man abandon himself so suddenly."

"All effects of this kind can be traced back to very small
beginnings," remarked Mrs. Green.

"Yes. A man does not become a drunkard in a day. The habit is one of
very gradual formation."

"But when once formed," said Mrs. Green, "hardly any power seems
strong enough to break it. It clings to a man as if it were a part
of himself."

"And we might almost say that it was a part of himself," replied Mr.
Green: "for whatever we do from a confirmed habit, fixes in the mind
an inclination thereto, that carries us away as a vessel is borne
upon the current of a river."

"How careful, then, should every one be, not to put himself in the
way of forming so dangerous a habit. Well do I remember when Mr.
Brooks was married. A more promising young man could not be
found--nor one with a kinder heart. The last evil I feared for him
and his gentle wife was that of drunkenness. Alas! that this
calamity should have fallen upon their household.--What evil, short
of crime, is greater than this?"

"It is so hopeless," remarked Mr. Green. "I have talked with Brooks
a good many times, but it has done no good. He promises amendment,
but does not keep his promise a day."

"Touch not, taste not, handle not. This is the only safe rule," said
Mrs. Green.

"Yes, I believe it," returned her husband.--"The man who never
drinks is in no danger of becoming a drunkard."

For some time, Mr. and Mrs. Green continued to converse about the
sad incident which had just transpired in the family of their
neighbor, while their little son, upon whose mind the fearful sight
he had witnessed was still painfully vivid, sat and listened to all
they were saying, with a clear comprehension of the meaning of the
whole.

After awhile the subject was dropped. There had been a silence of
some minutes, when the attention of Mr. Green was again called to
certain unpleasant bodily sensations, and he said--

"I declare! this cold of mine is very bad. I must do something to
break it before it gets worse. Henry, did you get that Irish whiskey
I sent for?"

"No, sir," replied the child, "I was so frightened when I saw Mr.
Brooks strike Margaret, that I ran back."

"Oh, well, I don't wonder! It was dreadful. Mr. Brooks was very
wicked to do so. But take the flask and run over to the store. Tell
Brady that I want a pint of good Irish whiskey."

Henry turned from his father, and went to the table on which he had
placed the flask. He did not move with his usual alacrity.

"It was whiskey, wasn't it," said the child, as he took the bottle
in his hand, "that made Mr. Brooks strike Margaret?" And he looked
so earnestly into his father's face, and with so strange an
expression, that the man felt disturbed, while he yet wondered at
the manner of the lad.

"Yes," replied Mr. Green, "it was the whiskey. Mr. Brooks, if he had
been sober, would not have hurt a hair of her head."

Henry looked at the bottle, then at his father, in so strange a way,
that Mr. Green, who did not at first comprehend what was in the
child's thoughts wondered still more. All was soon understood, for
Harry, bursting into tears, laid down the flask, and, throwing his
arms around his father's neck, said--

"Oh, father! don't get any whiskey!"

Mr. Green deeply touched by the incident, hugged his boy tightly to
his bosom. He said--

"I only wanted it for medicine, dear. But, never mind. I won't let
such dangerous stuff come into my house. Mother shall make me some
of her herb-tea, and that will do as well."

Henry looked up, after a while, timidly.--"You're not angry with me,
father?" came from his innocent lips.

"Oh, no, my child! Why should I be angry?" replied Mr. Green,
kissing the cheek of his boy. Then the sunshine came back again to
Henry's heart, and he was happy as before.

Mrs. Green made the herb-tea for her husband, and it proved quite as
good for him as the whiskey-punch. A glass or two of cold water, on
going to bed, would probably have been of more real advantage in the
case, than either of these doubtful remedies.



THE PORTRAIT.


"BLESS the happy art!" ejaculated Mrs. Morton, wiping the moisture
from her eyes. "Could anything be more perfect than that likeness of
his sweet, innocent face? Dear little Willie! I fear I love him too
much."

"It is indeed perfect," said Mr. Morton, after viewing the picture
in many lights. "My favourite painter has surpassed himself. What
could be more like life, than that gentle, half-pensive face looking
so quiet and thoughtful, and yet so full of childhood's most
innocent, happy expression?"

Mr. Morton, here introduced to the reader, was a wealthy merchant of
Philadelphia, and a liberal patron of the arts. He had, already,
obtained several pictures from Sully, who was, with him, as an
artist, a great favourite. The last order had just been sent home.
It was a portrait of his youngest, and favourite child--a sweet
little boy, upon whose head three summers had not yet smiled.

"I would not take the world for it!" said Mrs. Morton after looking
at it long and steadily for the hundredth time. "Dear little fellow!
A year from now, and how changed he will be. And every year he will
be changing and changing; but this cannot alter, and even from the
period of manhood, we may look back and see our Willie's face when
but a child."

"Every one who is able," remarked Mr. Morton, "should have the
portraits of his children taken. What better legacy could a father
leave to his child, than the image of his own innocent face! Surely,
it were enough to drive away thoughts of evil, and call up old and
innocent affections, for any man, even the man of crime, to look for
but a moment upon the image of what he was in childhood."

"And yet there are some," added Mrs. Morton, "who call portraits,
and indeed, all paintings, mere luxuries--meaning, thereby,
something that is utterly useless."

"Yes, there are such, but even they, it seems to me, might perceive
their use in preserving the innocent features of their children. The
good impressions made in infancy and childhood, are rarely if ever
lost; they come back upon every one at times, and are, frequently,
all-powerful in the influence they exert against evil. How like a
spell to call back those innocent thoughts and affections, would be
the image of a man's face in childhood! No one, it seems to me,
could resist its influence."

One, two, and three years passed away, and every one wrought some
change upon "little Willie," but each change seemed to the fond
parents an improvement,--yet, did they not look back to earlier
years, as they glanced at his picture, with less of tender emotion,
and heart-stirring delight. But now a sad change, the saddest of all
changes that occur, took place. Disease fastened upon the child, and
ere the parents, and fond sisters of a younger and only brother,
were fully sensible of danger, the spirit of the child had fled. We
will not linger to pain the reader with any minute description of
the deep and abiding grief that fell, like a shadow from an evil
wing overspreading them, upon the household of Mr. Morton, but pass
on to scenes more exciting, if not less moving to the heart.

For many weeks, Mrs. Morton could not trust herself to look up to
the picture that still hung in its place, the picture of her lost
one. But after time had, in some degree, mellowed the grief that
weighed down her spirits, she found a melancholy delight in gazing
intently upon the beautiful face that was still fresh and
unchanged--that still looked the impersonation of innocence.

"He was too pure and too lovely for the earth," she said, one day,
to her husband, about two months after his death, leaning her head
upon his shoulder--"and so the angels took him."

"Then do not grieve for him," Mr. Morton replied in a soothing tone.
"We know that he is with the angels, and where they are, is neither
evil, nor sorrow, nor pain. Much as I loved him, much as I grieved
for his loss, I would not recall him if I could. But, our picture
cannot die. And though it is mute and inanimate, yet it is something
to awaken remembrances, that, even though sad, we delight to
cherish. It is something to remind us, that we have a child in
heaven."

But the loss of their child seemed but the beginning of sorrows to
Mr. Morton and his family. An unexpected series of failures in
business so fatally involved him, that extrication became
impossible. He was an honest man, and therefore, this sudden
disastrous aspect of affairs was doubly painful, for he knew no
other course but the honourable giving up of everything. On learning
the whole truth in relation to his business, he came home, and after
opening the sad news to his wife, he called his family around him.

"My dear children," he said, "I have painful news to break to you;
but you cannot know it too soon. Owing to a succession of heavy
failures, my business has become embarrassed beyond hope. I must
give up all,--even our comfortable and elegant home must be changed
for one less expensive, and less comfortable. Can you, my children,
bear with cheerfulness and contentment such a changed condition?"

The heart of each one had already been subdued and chastened by the
affliction that removed the little playmate of all so suddenly away,
and now the news of a painful and unlooked-for reverse came with a
shock that, for a few moments, bewildered and alarmed.

"Are not my children willing to share the good and evil of life with
their father?" Mr. Morton resumed after the gush of tears that
followed the announcement of his changed fortunes had in a degree
subsided.

"Yes, dear father! be they what they may," Constance, the eldest, a
young lady in her seventeenth year, said, looking up affectionately
through her tears.

Mary, next in years, pressed up to her father's side, and twining an
arm around his neck, kissed his forehead tenderly. She did not
speak; for her heart was too full; but it needed no words to assure
him that her love was as true as the needle to the pole.

Eliza, but twelve, and like an unfolding bud half revealing the
loveliness and beauty within, could not fully comprehend the whole
matter. But enough she did understand, to know that her father was
in trouble, and this brought her also to his side.

"Do not think of us, dear father!" Constance said, after the pause
of a few oppressive moments. "Let the change be what it may, it
cannot take from us our father's love, and our father's honourable
principles. Nor can it change the true affection of his children. I
feel as if I could say, With my father I could go unto prison or to
death."

The father was much moved. "That trial, my dear children, I trust
you may never be called upon to meet. The whole extent of the
painful one into which you are about to enter, you cannot now
possibly realize, and I earnestly hope that your hearts may not fail
you while passing through the deep waters. But one thought may
strengthen; think that by your patience and cheerfulness, your
father's burdens will be lightened. He cannot see you pained without
suffering a double pang himself."

"Trust us, father," was the calm, earnest, affectionate reply of
Constance; and it was plain, by the deep resolution expressed in the
faces of her sisters, that she spoke for them as well as herself.

And now, the shadow that was obscuring their earthly prospects,
began to fall thicker upon them. At the meeting of his creditors
which was called, he gave a full statement of his affairs.

"And now," he said, "I am here to assign everything. In consequence
of heavy, and you all must see, unavoidable, losses, this assignment
will include all my property, and still leave a small deficiency.
Beyond that, I can only hope for success in my future exertions, and
pledge that success in anticipation. Can I do more?"

"We could not ask for more certainly," was the cold response of a
single individual, made in a tone of voice implying no sympathy with
the debtor's misfortunes, but rather indicating disappointment that
the whole amount of his claim could not be made out of the assets.

Some degree of sympathy, some kind consideration for his painful
condition Mr. Morton naturally looked for, but nearly every kind
emotion for him was stifled by the sordid disappointment which each
one of his former business friends felt in losing what they valued,
as their feelings indicated, above everything else--their money.

"When will the assignment be made?" was the next remark.

"Appoint your trustees, and I am ready at any moment."

Trustees were accordingly appointed, and these had a private
conference with, and received their instructions from the creditors.
In a week they commenced their work of appraisement. After a
thorough and careful examination into accounts, deeds, mortgages,
and documents of various kinds, and becoming satisfied that every
thing was as Mr. Morton had stated it, it was found that the
property represented by these would cover ninety cents in the
dollar.

"Your furniture and plate comes next," said one of the trustees.

Mr. Morton bowed and said, while his heart sunk in his bosom--

"To-morrow I will be ready for that."

"But why not to-day?" inquired one of the trustees. "We are anxious
to get through with this unpleasant business."

"I said to-morrow," Mr. Morton replied, while a red spot burned upon
his cheek.

The trustees looked at each other, and hesitated.

"Surely," said the debtor, "you cannot hesitate to let me have a
single day in which to prepare my family for so painful a duty as
that which is required of me."

"We should suppose," remarked one of the trustees, in reply, "that
your family were already prepared for that."

The debtor looked the last speaker searchingly in the face for some
moments, and then said, as if satisfied with the examination--

"Then you are afraid that I will make way, in the mean time, with
some of my plate!"

"I did not say so, Mr. Morton. But, you know we are under oath to
protect the interest of the creditors."

An indignant reply trembled on the lips of Morton, but he curbed his
feelings with a strong effort.

"I am ready now," he said, after a few moments of hurried
self-communion. "The sooner it is over the better."

Half an hour after he entered his house with the trustees, and sworn
appraiser. He left them in the parlour below, while he held a brief
but painful interview with his family.

"Do not distress yourself, dear father!" Constance said, laying her
hand upon his shoulder. "We expected this, and have fully nerved
ourselves for the trial."

"May he who watches over, and regards us all, bless you, my
children!" the father said with emotion, and hurriedly left them.

A careful inventory of the costly furniture that adorned the
parlours was first taken. The plate was then displayed, rich and
beautiful, and valued; and then the trustees lifted their eyes to
the wall--they were connoisseurs in the fine arts; at least one of
them was, but a taste for the arts had, in his case, failed to
soften his feelings. He looked at a picture much as a dealer in
precious stones looks at a diamond, to determine its money-value.

"That is from Guido," he said, looking admiringly at a sweet
picture, which had always been a favourite of Mr. Morton's, "and it
is worth a hundred dollars."

"Shall I put it down at that?" asked the appraiser, who had little
experience in valuing pictures.

"Yes; put it down at one hundred. It will bring that under the
hammer, any day," replied the connoisseur. "Ah, what have we here? A
copy from Murillo's 'Good Shepherd.' Isn't that a lovely picture?
Worth a hundred and fifty, every cent. And here is 'Our Saviour,'
from Da Vinci's celebrated picture of the Last Supper; and a
'Magdalen' from Correggio. You are a judge of pictures, I see, Mr.
Morton! But what is this?" he said, eyeing closely a large
engraving, richly framed.

"A proof, as I live! from the only plate worth looking at of
Raphael's Madonna of St. Sixtus. I'll give fifty dollars for that,
myself."

The pictures named were all entered up by the appraiser, and then
the group continued their examination.

"Here is a Sully," remarked the trustee above alluded to, pausing
before Willie's portrait.

"But that is a portrait," Mr. Morton said, advancing, while his
heart leaped with a new and sudden fear.

"If it is, Mr. Morton, it is a valuable picture, worth every cent of
two hundred dollars. We cannot pass that, Sir."

"What!" exclaimed Mr. Morton, "take my Willie's portrait? O no, you
cannot do that!"

"It is no doubt a hard case, Mr. Morton," said one of the trustees.
"But we must do our duty, however painful. That picture is a most
beautiful one, and by a favourite artist, and will bring at least
two hundred dollars. It is not a necessary article of household
furniture, and is not covered by the law. We should be censured, and
justly too, if we were to pass it."

For a few moments, Mr. Morton's thoughts were so bewildered and his
feelings so benumbed by the sudden and unexpected shock, that he
could not rally his mind enough to decide what to say or how to act.
To have the unfeeling hands of creditors, under the sanction of the
law, seize upon his lost Willie's portrait, was to him so unexpected
and sacrilegious a thing, that he could scarcely realize it, and he
stood wrapt in painful, dreamy abstraction, until roused by the
direction,

"Put it down at a hundred and fifty," given to the appraiser, by one
of the trustees.

"Are your hearts made of iron?" he asked bitterly, roused at once
into a distinct consciousness of what was transpiring.

"Be composed, Mr. Morton," was the cold, quiet reply.

"And thus might the executioner say to the victim he was
torturing--_Be composed_. But surely, when I tell you that that
picture is the likeness of my youngest child, now no more, you will
not take it from us. To lose that, would break his mother's heart.
Take all the rest, and I will not murmur. But in the name of
humanity spare me the portrait of my angel boy."

There was a brief, cold, silent pause, and the trustees continued
their investigations. Sick at heart, Mr. Morton turned from them and
sought his family. The distressed, almost agonized expression of his
countenance was noticed, as he came into the chamber where they had
retired.

"Is it all over?" asked Mrs. Morton.

"Not yet," was the sad answer.

The mother and daughter knew how much their father prized his choice
collection of pictures, and supposed that giving an inventory of
them had produced the pain that he seemed to feel. Of the truth,
they had not the most distant idea. For a few minutes he sat with
them, and then, recovering in some degree, his self-possession, he
returned and kept with the trustees, until everything in the house
that could be taken, was valued. He closed the door after them, when
they left, and again returned to his family.

"Have they gone?" asked Constance, in a low, almost whispering
voice.

"Yes, my child, they have gone at last."

"And what have they left us?" inquired Mrs. Morton somewhat
anxiously.

"Nothing but the barest necessaries for housekeeping."

"They did not take our carpets and--"

"Yes, Mary," said Mr. Morton interrupting her, "every article in the
parlors has been set down as unnecessary."

"O, father!" exclaimed the eldest daughter, "can it be possible?"

"Yes, my child, it is possible. We are left poor, indeed. But for
all that I would not care, if they had only left us Willie's
portrait!"

Instantly the mother and daughters rose to their feet, with blanched
cheeks, and eyes staring wildly into the father's face.

"O no, not Willie's portrait, surely!" the mother at length said,
mournfully. "We cannot give that up. It is of no comparative value
to others, and is all in all to us."

"I plead with them to spare us that. But it was no use," Mr. Morton
replied. "The tenderest ties in nature were nothing to them in
comparison with a hundred and fifty dollars."

"But surely," urged Constance, "the law will protect us in the
possession of the picture. Who ever heard of a portrait being seized
upon by a creditor?"

"It is a cruel omission; but nevertheless, Constance, there is no
law to protect us in keeping it."

"But they shall _not_ have it!" Mary said indignantly. "I will take
it away this very night, where they can never find it."

"That would be doing wrong my child," Mr. Morton replied. "I owe
these men, and this picture, they say, will bring a hundred and
fifty dollars. If they claim it, then, I cannot honestly withhold
it. Let us, then, my dear children, resolve to keep our consciences
clear of wrong, and endeavor patiently to bear with our afflictions.
They can only result in good to us so far as we humbly acquiesce in
them. Nothing happens by chance. Every event affecting us, I have
often told you, is ordered or permitted by Divine Providence, and is
intended to make us better and wiser. This severest trial of all, if
patiently borne, will, I am sure, result in good."

But, even while he tried to encourage and bear up the drooping
spirits of his family, his own heart sunk within him at the thought
of losing the portrait of his child.

One week sufficed to transfer his property into the hands of the
individuals appointed to receive it. He sought to make no
unnecessary delay, and, therefore, it was quickly done. At the end
of that time, he removed his family into a small house at the
northern extremity of the city, and furnished it with the scanty
furniture that, as an insolvent debtor the law allowed him to claim.
Ere he left his beautiful mansion with his wife and children, they
all assembled in the parlour where still hung Willie's sweet
portrait. The calm, innocent face of the child had for their eyes a
melancholy beauty, such as it had never worn before; and they gazed
upon it until every cheek was wet, and every heart oppressed. A sale
of the furniture had been advertised for that day, and already the
house had been thrown open. Several strangers had come in to make
examinations before the hour of sale, and among them was a young
man, who on observing the family in the parlour, instinctively
withdrew; not, however before he had glanced at the picture they
were all looking at so earnestly. Aware that strangers were
gathering, Mr. Morton and his family soon withdrew, each taking a
last, lingering, tearful glance at the dear face looking so sweet,
so calm, so innocent.

Their new home presented a painful and dreary contrast to the one
from which they had just parted. In the parlours, the floors of
which were all uncarpeted there were a dozen chairs, and a table,
and that was all! Bedding barely enough for the family, with but
scanty furniture, sufficed for the chambers; and the same exacting
hands had narrowed down to a stinted remnant the appendages of the
kitchen.

It was an hour after the closing in of evening, and the family
greatly depressed in spirits, were gathered in one of the chambers,
sad, gloomy, and silent, when the servant which they had retained
came in and said that Mr. Wilkinson was below and wished to see Miss
Constance.

"Indeed, indeed, mother, I cannot see him!" Constance said bursting
into tears. "It is cruel for him to come here so soon," she added,
after she had a little regained her self-possession.

"You can do no less than see him Constance," her mother said. "Do
not lose that consciousness of internal truth of character which
alone can sustain you in your new relations. You are not changed,
even if outward circumstances are no longer as they were. And if Mr.
Wilkinson does not regard these do not you. Meet him my child, as
you have ever met him."

"We have only met as friends," Constance replied, while her voice
trembled in spite of her efforts to be calm.

"Then meet now as friends, and equals. Remember, that, all that is
of real worth in you remains. Adversity cannot rob you of your true
character."

"Your mother has spoken well and wisely," Mr. Morton said. "If Mr.
Wilkinson, whom I know to be a man of most sterling integrity of
character, still wishes your society, or ours, it must not, from any
foolish pride or weakness on our part, be denied."

"Then I will see him, and try to meet him as I should, though I feel
that the task will be a hard one," Constance replied. And her pale
cheek and swimming eye, told but too well, that it would need all
her efforts to maintain her self-possession.

In a few minutes she descended and met Mr. Wilkinson in the parlour.

"Pardon me," he said advancing and taking her hand as she entered,
"for so soon intruding upon you after the sad change in your
condition. But I should have been untrue to the kind feelings I bear
yourself and family, had I, from a principle of false delicacy,
staid away. I trust I shall be none the less welcome now than
before."

"We must all esteem the kindness that prompted your visit,"
Constance replied with a strong effort to subdue the troubled
emotions within, and which were but too plainly indicated, by her
now flushed cheek and trembling lips.

"No other feeling induced me to call, except indeed, one stronger
than that possibly could be--" Mr. Wilkinson said, still holding her
hand, and looking intently in her face--"the feeling of profound
regard, nay, I must call it, affection, which I have long
entertained for you."

A declaration so unexpected, under the circumstances, entirely
destroyed all further efforts on the part of Constance, to control
her feelings. She burst into tears, but did not attempt to withdraw
her hand.

"Can I hope for a return of like sentiment, Constance?" he at length
said, tenderly.

A few moments' silence ensued, when the weeping girl lifted her
head, and looked him in the face with eyes, though filled with
tears, full of love's tenderest expression.

"I still confide in my father, Mr. Wilkinson," was her answer.

"Then I would see your father to-night."

Instantly Constance glided from the room, and in a few minutes her
father came down into the parlour. A long conference ensued; and
then the mother was sent for, and finally Constance again. Mr.
Wilkinson made offers of marriage, which, being accepted, he urged
an immediate consummation. Delay was asked, but he was so earnest,
that all parties agreed that the wedding should take place in three
days.

In three days the rite was said, and Wilkinson, one of the most
prosperous young merchants of Philadelphia, left for New York with
his happy bride. A week soon glided away, at the end of which time
they returned.

"Where are we going?" Constance asked, as they entered a carriage on
landing from the steamboat.

"To our own house, of course!" was her husband's reply.

"You didn't tell me that you had taken a house, and furnished it."

"Didn't I? Well, that is something of an oversight. But you hardly
thought that I was so simple as to catch a bird without having a
cage first provided for it."

"You had but little time to get the cage," thought Constance, but
she did not utter the thought.

In a few minutes the carriage stopped before a noble dwelling, the
first glance of which bewildered the senses of the young bride, and
caused her to lean silent and trembling upon her husband's arm, as
she ascended the broad marble steps leading to the entrance. Thence
she was ushered hurriedly into the parlours.

There stood her father, mother, and sisters, ready to receive her.
There was every article of furniture in its place, as she had left
it but a little over a week before. The pictures, so much admired by
her father, still hung on the wall; and there, in the old spot, was
Willie s dear portrait, as sweet, as innocent, as tranquil as ever!
One glance took in all this. In the next moment she fell weeping
upon her mother's bosom.

A few words will explain all. Mr. Wilkinson, who was comparatively
wealthy, was just on the eve of making proposals for the hand of
Constance Morton, when the sudden reverse overtook her father, and
prostrated the hopes of the whole family. But his regard was a true
one, and not to be marred or effaced by external changes. When he
saw the sale of the house and furniture announced, he determined to
buy all in at any price. And he did so. On the day of the sale, he
bid over every competitor.

On the night of his interview with Constance and her father, he
proposed a partnership with the latter.

"But I have nothing, you know, Mr. Wilkinson," he replied.

"You have established business habits, and extensive knowledge of
the operations of trade, and a large business acquaintance. And
besides these, habits of discrimination obtained by long experience,
which I need. With your co-operation in my business, I can double my
profits. Will you join me?"

"It were folly, Mr. Wilkinson, to say nay," Mr. Morton replied.
"Then I will announce the co-partnership at once," he said.

And it was announced before the day of marriage, but Constance did
not see it.

A happy elevation succeeded of course, the sudden, painful, but
brief depression of their fortunes. Nor was any of that tried family
less happy than before. And one was far happier. Still, neither Mr.
Morton, nor the rest could ever look at Willie's portrait without
remembering how near they had once been to losing it, nor without a
momentary fear, that some change in life's coming mutations might
rob them of the precious treasure, now doubly dear to them.



VERY POOR.


"WHAT has become of the Wightmans?" I asked of my old friend Payson.
I had returned to my native place after an absence of several years.
Payson looked grave.

"Nothing wrong with them, I hope. Wightman was a clever man, and he
had a pleasant family."

My friend shook his head ominously.

"He was doing very well when I left," said I.

"All broken up now," was answered. "He failed several years ago."

"Ah! I'm sorry to hear this. What has become of him?"

"I see him now and then, but I don't know what he is doing."

"And his family?"

"They live somewhere in Old Town. I havn't met any of them for a
long time. Some one told me that they were very poor."

This intelligence caused a feeling of sadness to pervade my mind.
The tone and manner of Payson, as he used the words "very poor,"
gave to them more than ordinary meaning. I saw, in imagination, my
old friend reduced from comfort and respectability, to a condition
of extreme poverty, with all its sufferings and humiliations. While
my mind was occupied with these unpleasant thoughts, my friend said,

"You must dine with me to-morrow. Mrs. Payson will be glad to see
you, and I want to have a long talk about old times. We dine at
three."

I promised to be with them, in agreement with the invitation; and
then we parted. It was during business hours, and as my friend's
manner was somewhat occupied and hurried, I did not think it right
to trespass on his time. What I had learned of the Wightmans
troubled my thoughts. I could not get them out of my mind. They were
estimable people. I had prized them above ordinary acquaintances;
and it did seem peculiarly hard that they should have suffered
misfortune. "Very poor"--I could not get the words out of my ears.
The way in which they were spoken involved more than the words
themselves expressed, or rather, gave a broad latitude to their
meaning. "VERY poor! Ah me!" The sigh was deep and involuntary.

I inquired of several old acquaintances whom I met during the day
for the Wightmans; but all the satisfaction I received was, that
Wightman had failed in business several years before, and was now
living somewhere in Old Town in a very poor way. "They are miserably
poor," said one. "I see Wightman occasionally," said another--"he
looks seedy enough." "His girls take in sewing, I have heard," said
a third, who spoke with a slight air of contempt, as if there were
something disgraceful attached to needle-work, when pursued as a
means of livelihood. I would have called during the day, upon
Wightman, but failed to ascertain his place of residence.

"Glad to see you!" Payson extended his hand with a show of
cordiality, as I entered his store between two and three o'clock on
the next day.

"Sit down and look over the papers for a little while," he added.
"I'll be with you in a moment. Just finishing up my bank business."

"Business first," was my answer, as I took the proffered newspaper.
"Stand upon no ceremony with me."

As Payson turned partly from me, and bent his head to the desk at
which he was sitting, I could not but remark the suddenness with
which the smile my appearance had awakened faded from his
countenance. Before him was a pile of bank bills, several checks,
and quite a formidable array of bank notices. He counted the bills
and checks, and after recording the amount upon a slip of paper
glanced uneasily at his watch, sighed, and then looked anxiously
towards the door. At this moment a clerk entered hastily, and made
some communication in an undertone, which brought from my friend a
disappointed and impatient expression.

"Go to Wilson," said he hurriedly, "and tell him to send me a check
for five hundred without fail. Say that I am so much short in my
bank payments, and that it is now too late to get the money any
where else. Don't linger a moment; it is twenty five minutes to
three now."

The clerk departed. He was gone full ten minutes, during which
period Payson remained at his desk, silent, but showing many signs
of uneasiness. On returning, he brought the desired check, and was
then dispatched to lift the notes for which this late provision was
made.

"What a life for a man to lead," said my friend, turning to me with
a contracted brow and a sober face. "I sometimes wish myself on an
island in mid ocean. You remember C----?"

"Very well."

"He quit business a year ago, and bought a farm. I saw him the other
day. 'Payson,' said he, with an air of satisfaction, 'I haven't seen
a bank notice this twelvemonth.' He's a happy man! This note paying
is the curse of my life. I'm forever on the street
financiering--_Financiering_. How I hate the word! But come--they'll
be waiting dinner for us. Mrs. Payson is delighted at the thought of
seeing you. How long is it since you were here? About ten years, if
I'm not mistaken. You'll find my daughters quite grown up. Clara is
in her twentieth year. You, of course, recollect her only as a
school girl. Ah me! how time does fly!"

I found my friend living in a handsome house in Franklin street. It
was showily, not tastefully, furnished, and the same might be said
of his wife and daughters. When I last dined with them--it was many
years before--they were living in a modest, but very comfortable
way, and the whole air of their dwelling was that of cheerfulness
and comfort. Now, though their ample parlors were gay with rich
Brussels, crimson damask, and brocatelle, there was no genuine home
feeling there. Mrs. Payson, the last time I saw her, wore a
mousseline de lain, of subdued colors, a neat lace collar around her
neck, fastened with a small diamond pin, the marriage gift of her
father. Her hair, which curled naturally, was drawn behind her ears
in a few gracefully falling ringlets. She needed no other ornament.
Anything beyond would have taken from her the chiefest of her
attractions, her bright, animated countenance, in which her friends
ever read a heart-welcome.

How changed from this was the rather stately woman, whose real
pleasure at seeing an old friend was hardly warm enough to melt
through the ice of an imposed formality. How changed from this the
pale, cold, worn face, where selfishness and false pride had been
doing a sad, sad work. Ah! the rich Honiton lace cap and costly
cape; the profusion of gay ribbons, and glitter of jewelry; the
ample folds of glossy satin; how poor a compensation were they for
the true woman I had parted with a few years ago, and now sought
beneath these showy adornments in vain!

Two grown-up daughters, dressed almost as flauntingly as their
mother, were now presented. In the artificial countenance of the
oldest, I failed to discover any trace of my former friend Clara.

A little while we talked formally, and with some constraint all
round; then, as the dinner had been waiting us, and was now served,
we proceeded to the dining-room. I did not feel honored by the
really sumptuous meal the Paysons had provided for their old friend;
because it was clearly to be seen that no honor was intended. The
honor was all for themselves. The ladies had not adorned their
persons, nor provided their dinner, to give me welcome and pleasure,
but to exhibit to the eyes of their guest, their wealth, luxury, and
social importance. If I had failed to perceive this, the
conversation of the Paysons would have made it plain, for it was of
style and elegance in house-keeping and dress--of the ornamental in
all its varieties; and in no case of the truly domestic and useful.
Once or twice I referred to the Wightmans; but the ladies knew
nothing of them, and seemed almost to have forgotten that such
persons ever lived.

It did not take long to discover that, with all the luxury by which
my friends were surrounded, they were far from being happy. Mrs.
Payson and her daughters, had, I could see, become envious as well
as proud. They wanted a larger house, and more costly furniture in
order to make as imposing an appearance as some others whom they did
not consider half as good as themselves. To all they said on this
subject, I noticed that Payson himself maintained, for the most
part, a half-moody silence. It was, clearly enough, unpleasant to
him.

"My wife and daughters think I am made of money," said he, once,
half laughing. "But if they knew how hard it was to get hold of,
sometimes, they would be less free in spending. I tell them I am a
poor man, comparatively speaking; but I might as well talk to the
wind."

"Just as well," replied his wife, forcing an incredulous laugh;
"why will you use such language? A poor man!"

"He that wants what he is not able to buy, is a poor man, if I
understand the meaning of the term," said Payson, with some feeling.
"And he who lives beyond his income, as a good many of our
acquaintances do to my certain knowledge, is poorer still."

"Now don't get to riding that hobby, Mr. Payson," broke in my
friend's wife, deprecatingly--"don't, if you please. In the first
place, it's hardly polite, and, in the second place, it is by no
means agreeable. Don't mind him"--and the lady turned to me
gaily--"he gets in these moods sometimes."

I was not surprised at this after what I had witnessed, about his
house. Put the scenes and circumstances together, and how could it
well be otherwise? My friend, thus re-acted upon, ventured no
further remark on a subject that was so disagreeable to his family.
But while they talked of style and fashion, he sat silent, and to my
mind oppressed with no very pleasant thoughts. After the ladies had
retired, he said, with considerable feeling--

"All this looks and sounds very well, perhaps; but there are two
aspects to almost everything. My wife and daughters get one view of
life, and I another. They see the romance, I the hard reality. It is
impossible for me to get money as fast as they wish to spend it. It
was my fault in the beginning, I suppose. Ah! how difficult it is to
correct an error when once made. I tell them that I am a poor man,
but they smile in my face, and ask me for a hundred dollars to shop
with in the next breath. I remonstrate, but it avails not, for they
don't credit what I say. AND I AM POOR--poorer, I sometimes think,
than the humblest of my clerks, who manages, out of his salary of
four hundred a year, to lay up fifty dollars. He is never in want of
a dollar, while I go searching about, anxious and troubled, for my
thousands daily. He and his patient, cheerful, industrious little
wife find peace and contentment in the single room their limited
means enables them to procure, while my family turn dissatisfied
from the costly adornments of our spacious home, and sigh for richer
furniture, and a larger and more showy mansion. If I were a
millionaire, their ambition might be satisfied. Now, their ample
wishes may not be filled. I must deny them, or meet inevitable ruin.
As it is, I am living far beyond a prudent limit--not half so far,
however, as many around me, whose fatal example is ever tempting the
weak ambition of their neighbors."

This and much more of similar import, was said by Payson. When I
returned from his elegant home, there was no envy in my heart. He
was called a rich and prosperous man by all whom I heard speak of
him, but in my eyes, he was very poor.

A day or two afterwards, I saw Wightman in the street. He was so
changed in appearance that I should hardly have known him, had he
not first spoken. He looked in my eyes, twenty years older than when
we last met. His clothes were poor, though scrupulously clean; and,
on observing him more closely, I perceived an air of neatness and
order, that indicates nothing of that disregard about external
appearance which so often accompanies poverty.

He grasped my hand cordially, and inquired, with a genuine interest,
after my health and welfare. I answered briefly, and then said:

"I am sorry to hear that it is not so well with you in worldly
matters as when I left the city."

A slight shadow flitted over his countenance, but it grew quickly
cheerful again.

"One of the secrets of happiness in this life," said he, "is
contentment with our lot. We rarely learn this in prosperity. It is
not one of the lessons taught in that school."

"And you have learned it?" said I.

"I have been trying to learn it," he answered, smiling. "But I find
it one of the most difficult of lessons. I do not hope to acquire it
perfectly."

A cordial invitation to visit his family and take tea with them
followed, and was accepted. I must own, that I prepared to go to the
Wightmans with some misgivings as to the pleasure I should receive.
Almost every one of their old acquaintances, to whom I had addressed
inquiries on the subject, spoke of them with commiseration, as "very
poor." If Wightman could bear the change with philosophy, I hardly
expected to find the same Christian resignation in his wife, whom I
remembered as a gay, lively woman, fond of social pleasures.

Such were my thoughts when I knocked at the door of a small house,
that stood a little back from the street. It was quickly opened by a
tall, neatly-dressed girl, whose pleasant face lighted into a smile
of welcome as she pronounced my name.

"This is not Mary?" I said as I took her proffered hand.

"Yes, this is your little Mary," she answered. "Father told me you
were coming."

Mrs. Wightman came forward as I entered the room into which the
front door opened, and gave me a most cordial welcome. Least of all
had time and reverses changed her. Though a little subdued, and
rather paler and thinner, her face had the old heart-warmth in
it--the eyes were bright from the same cheerful spirit.

"How glad I am to see you again!" said Mrs. Wightman. And she was
glad. Every play of feature, every modulation of tone, showed this.

Soon her husband came in, and then she excused herself with a smile,
and went out, as I very well understood, to see after tea. In a
little while supper was ready, and I sat down with the family in
their small breakfast room, to one of the pleasantest meals I have
ever enjoyed. A second daughter, who was learning a trade, came in
just as we were taking our places at the table, and was introduced.
What a beautiful glow was upon her young countenance! She was the
very image of health and cheerfulness.

When I met Wightman in the street, I thought his countenance wore
something of a troubled aspect--this was the first impression made
upon me. Now, as I looked into his face, and listened to his
cheerful, animated conversation, so full of life's true philosophy,
I could not but feel an emotion of wonder. "Very poor!" How little
did old friends, who covered their neglect of this family with these
commiserating words, know of their real state. How little did they
dream that sweet peace folded her wings in that humble dwelling
nightly; and that morning brought to each a cheerful, resolute
spirit, which bore them bravely through all their daily toil.

"How are you getting along now Wightman?" I asked, as, after bidding
good evening to his pleasant family, I stood with him at the gate
opening from the street to his modest dwelling.

"Very well," was his cheerful reply. "It was up hill work for
several years, when I only received five hundred dollars salary as
clerk, and all my children were young. But now, two of them are
earning something, and I receive eight hundred dollars instead of
five. We have managed to save enough to buy this snug little house.
The last payment was made a month since. I am beginning to feel
rich."

And he laughed a pleasant laugh.

"Very poor," I said to myself, musingly, as I walked away from the
humble abode of the Wightmans. "Very poor. The words have had a
wrong application."

On the next day I met Payson.

"I spent last evening with the Wightmans," said I.

"Indeed! How did you find them? Very poor, of course."

"I have not met a more cheerful family for years. No, Mr. Payson
they are not '_very poor_,' for they take what the great Father
sends, and use it with thankfulness. _Those who ever want more than
they possess are the very poor._ But such are not the Wightmans."

Payson looked at me a moment or two curiously, and then let his eyes
fall to the ground. A little while he mused. Light was breaking in
upon him.

"Contented and thankful!" said he, lifting his eyes from the ground.
"Ah! my friend, if I and mine were only contented and thankful!"

"You have cause to be," I remarked. "The great Father hath covered
your table with blessings."

"And yet we are poor--VERY POOR," said he, "for we are neither
contented nor thankful. We ask for more than we possess, and,
because it is not given, we are fretful and impatient. Yes, yes--we,
not the Wightmans, are poor--very poor."

And with these words on his lips, my old friend turned from me, and
walked slowly away, his head bent in musing attitude to the ground.
Not long afterwards, I heard that he had failed.

"Ah!" thought I, when this news reached me, "now you are poor, VERY
poor, indeed!" And it was so.





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