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´╗┐Title: Woman's Trials; Or, Tales and Sketches from the Life around Us
Author: Arthur, T. S. (Timothy Shay), 1809-1885
Language: English
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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 "Woman's Trials; Or, Tales and Sketches from the Life around Us" ***

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

This book is to be followed, immediately, by other volumes, to the
number of twelve, printed in uniform style: the series, when complete,

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where is Harriet?" he asked.

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

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

"Perhaps is a poor dependence."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agnes said that she would do so.

"Tell her she must come," said I.

"Very well, ma'am."

And Agnes withdrew.

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

"What is her name?" I asked.

"Mrs. Partridge," was answered.

"You think she won't disappoint me?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The woman turned, and went quickly away.

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

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

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

"Did you find all safe at home?"

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

"How old is your baby?"

"Eleven months old, ma'am."

"Is your husband living?"

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

"How many children have you?"


"All young?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It was dirty."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Mrs. Partridge is done."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You could not get along at all."

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

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

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

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

"What was her name?" I asked.

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

"Indeed! Why, that was my name!"

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

"I did."

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

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

"Don't you remember Helen Sprague?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Can you do fine sewing?" I asked.

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

"Can you make children's clothes?"

"Boy's clothes?"

"No. Girl's clothing."

"Oh, yes."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

"Have you ever worked for the merchant tailors?"

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

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

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

"Did your work suit him?"

"He never found fault with it."

"Where do you live?"

"In Cherry street," replied the young woman.

"At No.--."

Mr. Lawson stood and mused for a short time.

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

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

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

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

"To-morrow evening, recollect."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A great change came over the tailor's countenance.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What is that?"

"Taking boarders."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Don't ask _me_ such a question."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why do you think so?"

"Have I not just said?"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Mrs. Darlington demurred. The man said--

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

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

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

The widow sighed again.

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

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

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

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

"Yes, sir."

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

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

"Ah! I'm sorry for that."

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

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

"If you please," returned the man.

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

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

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

"If you can"--

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


"Only yourself and lady?"

"That's all."

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

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

"Perfectly agreeable, Mr. Ring."

The gentleman bowed politely and retired.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"This is one of the chambers."

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

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

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

"These are the two rooms I engaged."

Just then Mrs. Darlington entered, in manifest excitement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lady sat down.

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

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

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

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

"I did; but"--

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"Where are the rooms?" he asked gruffly.

"The third story chambers."



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

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

"What will be your charge?"

"Fourteen dollars."

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Darlington sighed deeply as she replied--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"There are you sick?"

"My head aches."

"Is your throat sore?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Very sore?"

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

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

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

"Dr. M----."

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

Mrs. Marion looked troubled and alarmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where are you going?" asked her sister.

"Into Mrs. Marion's room."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"How long did he remain away?"

"More than a year."

"Have you friends?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


And Mrs. Scragg arose and followed her indignant spouse.

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

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

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

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

Edith sighed, but did not answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Mrs. Darlington fairly groaned at this intelligence.

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

"We must reduce our expenses, if possible."

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

"No. Of course not."

"Nor our chambermaid."

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

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

"We can get our marketing sent home."

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Darlington sighed heavily, and then said--

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

"If Mrs. Marion"--

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Of what kind?"

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

"What!" exclaimed the mother in painful surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And let him go?"


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

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

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

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

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

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

"A hundred aid fifty dollars?"

"Yes. How can we pay that?"

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

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

"Dreadful!" ejaculated Miriam, "dreadful!"

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another long silence followed.

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

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

"It is more than I could ask."

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No. Where is she?"

"At Blockley."


"In the Alms-house!"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

"Mother, I want ten dollars!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It is too late!"


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

"Miriam, are you married yet?"

Miriam did not reply.

"Speak, child. Are you married?"

"No," came in a half audible murmur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What are you willing to do?"

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

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

Miriam listened to this in silence. Her uncle paused.

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

"Could you not give music lessons?"

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

"If competent, would you object to teach?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I can beat you," said Darlington.

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

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

"For what?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"And such a dream!" sighed Miriam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Let them see to this beforehand."

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

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


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

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

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

Mrs. Darlington and her daughters left the room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"We may, by the closest economy."

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

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

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

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

"Can she still be in?"

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

"Are you certain?"

"Oh yes."

"Did you speak to them?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"What is her name?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do you make shirts?"

"Yes, ma'am, sometimes."

"Do you consider yourself a good shirt maker?"

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

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

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

"Very well. That will do."

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

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

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

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

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

"Very well."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Seventy-five cents."


"Yes, ma'am."

"Seventy-five cents apiece!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"WHAT are you doing here, miss?"

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

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

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

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

"What did she answer?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"In what way, sister?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Then had you not better consult him?"

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

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

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

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

"Yes; that would suit me best."

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

Jessie's face became thoughtful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Your salary! Have you saved it all?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Miss Jessie Hampton," replied Mrs. Carlton.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I presume not," was returned.

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

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

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

Hartman thanked the merchant, and retired.

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

"I do."

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, very well."

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

"Noble girl!" exclaimed the young man.

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

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

"I do not."

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


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

"I do."

"Miss Hampton was not present."

"As much as might have been inferred."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for his wife, when the truth assumed an undoubted form, she sunk
into mortified silence, and Fanny felt even worse than her mother, and
for reasons that lay nearer her heart.

In a little while the bride took her old place in society, and many
who, in her seclusion, passed her coldly, or all unnoticed, met her now
with smiles and with warm congratulations. Of all the changes that
followed as a consequence of her marriage, there was none that filled
her with so much delight as the improved prospects of her uncle, Mr.
Hartman. Her husband became his fast friend, and sustained him through
every difficulty. One home held them both. How purely and brightly the
stream of Jessie's happiness flowed on, need not be told.

Virtue and integrity of character had met their just reward. In
adversity she was not cast down, and when prosperity again smiled she
was not unduly elated. In either relation to society, she was a
dispenser of blessings to those she loved.

It is a fact worthy of notice, that those who looked down upon Jessie,
and passed her unnoticed while she was only a governess, now referred
to the noble, self-sacrificing spirit that prompted her to act as she
had done, and spoke of her conduct with admiration.


"JUST four weeks off," said a little boy, striking his hands together,
"and papa will be home!"

"Yes, four weeks more, and we shall see dear father. It will be the
happiest New Year's day we ever had; won't it, mother?" said the little
boy's sister, a bright smile playing over her face.

"I hope so," replied the mother. "Father has been away so long, his
coming home would make any day in the year a happy one."

"I wonder what he will bring me for a New Year's present?" said the boy.

"I know what I'll get," said the little sister.


"A hundred kisses."

"Oh! I don't care much for kisses."

"But I do; and I'm sure of getting them."

"I wonder what mamma will get?"

"I know!" replied the sister, with an arch smile.


"Just what I will." And the little girl looked at her mother, and
smiled still more archly.

"A hundred kisses, you mean?"

"We'll see."

The mother's hand rested from her work, and she looked at her children,
with a calm, yet happy face. Their words had caused her to realize, in
imagination, with more than usual distinctness, the fact of her
husband's return, which he had written would be on the first day of the
coming new year. He had been away for many months, and home had hardly
seemed like home during his absence.

"We mustn't think too much about it," said the mother, "or we will get
so impatient for dear father's return as to make ourselves unhappy. I
am sure we will all love him better than ever we did, when he does come

"I am sure I will," returned the little girl.

"Oh! I think I never loved him so well in my life as I have since he
has been away."

Thus talked the mother and her children of the return of one whose
presence was so dear to them all.

This brief conversation took place in a farm-house. In the room sat,
near the fire, a man whose appearance was any thing but pleasant to the
eyes. He was a labourer, who had been hired, some months previously, by
the farmer. He did not seem to hear what was said, yet he was listening
with reluctant attention. The mother and her children continued still
to talk of what was uppermost in their minds--the absent one, and his
expected return--until the man became restless, and at last got up and
went out.

"I don't wonder Mr. Foster went out of the room," said the boy, as the
person alluded to shut the door.

"Why, Edward?" asked his sister.

"Can't you think, Maggy?"

"No. What made him go out?"

"Because we said we were so glad papa was coming home on New Year's
day. I'm sure he must have thought of his home. They won't be so glad
to see him on New Year's day, as we are to see our dear, good father."

"Why do you say that, my son?" asked the mother.

"I'm sure they can't be so glad," said Edward. "I know I wouldn't be so
glad to see my father, if he was like Mr. Foster. Doesn't he spend
nearly all the money he gets in liquor? I've heard you say that his
poor wife and children hardly have enough to eat or to wear, although
he gets very good wages, and could make them comfortable if he would.
No, I'm sure they can't love him as we love our father, nor be as glad
to see him come home as we will be to see our father. And he knows it,
and that made him go out of the room. He didn't like to hear us

The boy was correct in his conclusions. The man Foster, of whom he
spoke, did feel troubled. He had children and a wife, and he was absent
from them, and had been absent for many months. On New Year's day he
was to go home; but many painful feelings mingled with the thought of
seeing his long-neglected and much-abused family. Since he had been
away, he had expended more than half his earnings upon himself, and yet
his appearance was worse than when he went from home, for, in exchange
for his money, he had received only poison.

It was evening. Without, the air was cold. The sky was clear, and the
moon and stars shone brightly. Foster walked a short distance from the
house, trying to drive from his mind the images that had been conjured
up by the words of the children and their mother; but he could not. His
own abused wife and neglected little ones were before him, in their
comfortless home, poorly clad, and pale and thin from want of healthy
and sufficient food. Did they think of him, and talk with so much
delight of his return? Alas! no. He brought no sunshine to their
cheerless abode.

"Wretch! wretch!" he said to himself, striking his hand hard against
his bosom. "A curse to them!--a curse to myself!"

For an hour the unhappy man stayed out in the chilly air; but he did
not feel the cold. Then he re-entered the house, but did not go into
the room where the happy mother sat with her children, but to the
lonely attic where he slept.

Twenty miles away lived the wife and three children of Foster. The
oldest boy was eleven years of age, and the youngest child, a little
girl, just five. Three small mounds, in a burying-ground near by where
the humble dwelling stood, marked the place where as many more
slept--more blessed than the living. The mother of these children was a
pale-faced woman, with a bent forth and an aspect of suffering. She had
been long acquainted with sorrow and trouble. Like hundreds and
thousands of others in our land, she had left, years before, the
pleasant home of her girlhood, to be the loving companion of one on
whose solemnly pledged faith she relied with the most unwavering
confidence. And, for a time, the trust was not in vain. The first
golden period of her married life was a happy time indeed! None could
have been more thoughtful of her comfort, nor more tender of her
feelings, than was her husband. But, alas! it was with him as with
hundreds and thousands of others. Not once did it cross his mind that
there was danger to him in the pleasant glass that was daily taken. The
bare suggestion he would have repelled as an insult. On the day of his
marriage, Henry Foster received from the father of his wife the
title-deeds of a snug little place containing thirty acres, which was
well stocked for a small farmer. He had, himself, laid by a few hundred
dollars. Thus he had a fair start in the world, and a most comfortable
assurance of happiness and prosperity. For several years every thing
went on pleasantly. The farm was a very garden spot, and had increased
from thirty to sixty acres by the purchase of contiguous lands. Then a
change became apparent. Foster took more interest than formerly in what
was going on in the village near by. He attended the various political
meetings held at the "Travellers' Rest," and was a prominent man on
training and election days. After a while, his wife began to look on
these days with a troubled feeling, for they generally sent him home in
a sad plight; and it took nearly a week for him to get settled down
again to his work. Thus the declension began, and its progress was too
sadly apparent to the eyes of Mrs. Foster, even before others, less
interested than herself, observed it. At the end of ten years from the
happy wedding day, the farm, now more like a wilderness than a
beautiful garden, was seized and sold for debt. There were no friends
to step in and go Foster's security, and thus save his property from
sacrifice. The father of his wife was dead, and his own friends, even
if they had not lost confidence in him, were unable to render any

The rented farm upon which Foster went with his family, after being
sold out, was cultivated with no more industry than his own had been of
late years. The man had lost all ambition, and was yielding himself a
slave to the all-degrading appetite for drink. At first, his wife
opposed a gentle remonstrance; but he became impatient and angry at a
word, and she shrank back into herself, choosing rather to bear
silently the ills of poverty and degradation, which she saw were
rapidly approaching, than to run the risk of having unkindness, from
one so tenderly loved, added thereto.

Affliction came with trouble. Death took from the mother's arms, in a
single year, three children. The loss of one was accompanied by a most
painful, yet deeply warning circumstance. The father came home from the
village one evening, after having taken a larger quantity of liquor
than usual. While the mother was preparing supper, he took the babe
that lay fretting in the cradle, and hushed its frettings in his arms.
While holding it, overcome with what he had been drinking, he fell
asleep, and the infant rolled upon the floor, striking its head first.
It awoke and screamed for a minute or two, and then sank into a heavy
slumber, and did not awake until the next morning. Then it was so sick,
that a physician had to be called. In a week it died of brain fever,
occasioned, the doctor said, by the fall.

For a whole month not a drop of liquor passed the lips of the rebuked
and penitent father. Even in that short time the desert places of home
began to put forth leaves, and to give promise of sweet buds and
blossoms; and the grieving mother felt that out of this great sorrow
was to come forth joy. Alas! that even a hope so full of sadness should
be doomed to disappointment. In a moment of temptation her husband
fell, and fell into a lower deep. Then, with more rapid steps the
downward road was traversed. Five more years of sorrow sufficed to do
the work of suffering and degradation. There was another seizure for
debt, and the remnant of stock, with nearly all their furniture, was
taken and sold. The rented farm had to be given up; with this, the hope
of gaining even sufficient food for her little ones died in the
wretched mother's mind.

From a farmer on his own account, Foster now became a mere farm
labourer; with wages sufficient, however, to have made things
comfortable at home under the management of his frugal, industrious
wife, if all he earned had been brought home to her. But at least one
third, and finally one half, and sometimes more, went to swell the gain
of the tavern-keeper. Had it not been that a cow and a few chickens
were left to them at the last seizure of their things, pinching hunger
would have entered the comfortless home where the mother hid herself
with her children.

At last Foster became so good for nothing, that he could not obtain
employment as a farm hand anywhere in the neighbourhood, and was
obliged to go off to a distance to get work. This, to him, was not felt
to be a very great trial, for it removed him from the sight of his
half-fed, half-clothed children, and dejected, suffering wife; and he
could, therefore spend with more freedom, and fewer touches, of
compunction, the greater portion of his earnings in gratifying the
inordinate cravings of his vitiated appetite.

Thus, in general, stood affairs at the opening of our story. Let us now
take a nearer and more particular view. Let us approach, and enter the
cheerless abode of the man who, to feed an evil and debasing appetite,
could heartlessly turn away from his faithful wife and dependent little
ones, and leave them to the keenest suffering.

New Year's day, to which the farmer's wife and children were looking
forward with so much delight, was but little more than a week off, and
Mrs. Foster expected her husband home also. But with what different
feelings did she anticipate his arrival! He never brought a glad
welcome with his presence; although his wife, when he was absent,
always looked for and desired his return. He had been away over three
months; and was earning twenty dollars a month. But, he had only sent
home eighteen dollars during the whole time. This, we need hardly say,
was far from enough to meet the wants of his family. Had it not been
that George, who was but eleven years old, went every day to a factory
in the village and worked from morning until night, thus earning about
a dollar and a half a week, and that the mother took in sewing,
spinning, washing and ironing, and whatever she could get to do, they
must have wanted even enough to eat.

It was but six days to New Year's. Mrs. Foster had been washing nearly
the whole day,--work that she was really not able to do, and which
always so tired her out, that in the night following she could not
sleep from excessive fatigue,--she had been washing nearly all day, and
now, after cleaning up the floor, and putting the confused room into a
little order, she sat down to finish some work promised by the next
morning. It was nearly dark, and she was standing, with her sewing,
close up to the window, in order to see more distinctly in the fading
light, when there came a loud knock at the door. One of the children
opened it, and a man, whose face she knew too well, came in. He was the
owner of the poor tenement in which they lived.

"Have you heard from Foster since I was here last?" said the man, with
an unpleasant abruptness of manner.

"No sir, I have not," replied Mrs. Foster, in a low, timid voice, for
she felt afraid of the man.

"When do you expect him home?"

"He will be here at New Year's."

"Humph! Do you know whether he will bring any money?"

"I am sure I cannot tell; but I hope so."

"He'd better;"--the man spoke in a menacing tone--"for I don't intend
waiting any longer for my rent."

No reply was made to this.

"Will you tell your husband, when he returns, my good woman, what I
have just said?"

"I will," was meekly replied.

"Very well. If he doesn't come up to the notch then, I shall take my
course. It is simple and easy; so you had better be warned in time."
And the man walked out as abruptly as he came in. Mrs. Foster looked
after him from the window, where she had continued standing, and saw
him stop and look attentively at their cow, that stood waiting to be
milked, at the door. A faintness came over her heart, for she
understood now, better than before, the meaning of his threats.

An hour after dark George came home with his hand in a sling. He went
up, quickly, to where his mother was sitting by a table at work, and
dropping down in a chair, hid his face in her lap, without speaking,
but bursting into tears as he did so.

"Oh George! what is the matter?" exclaimed the mother in great alarm.
"What ails your hand?"

"It got mashed in the wheel," replied the boy, sobbing.

"Badly?" asked the mother, turning pale, and feeling sick and faint.

"It's hurt a good deal; but the doctor tied it up, and says it will get
well again; but I won't be able to go to work again in a good while."

And the lad, from sobbing, wept bitterly. The mother leaned her head
down upon her boy, and wept with him.

"I don't mind the hurt so much," said George, after he had recovered
himself; "but I won't be able to do any thing at the mill until it gets

"Can't I go to work in his place, mamma?" spoke up, quickly, little
Emma, just in her tenth year. Mrs. Foster kissed the earnest face of
her child and said--

"No, dear; you are not old enough."

"I'm nine, and most as big as George. Yes, mamma, I'm big enough. Won't
you go and ask them to let me come and work in brother's place till he
gets well?"

The mother, her heart almost bursting with many conflicting emotions,
drew the child's head down upon her bosom, and held it tightly against
her heart.

The time of severer trial was evidently drawing near. Almost the last
resource was cut off, in the injury her boy had sustained. She had not
looked at his hand, nor did she comprehend the extent of damage it had
received. It was enough, and more than enough, that it was badly
hurt--so badly, that a physician had been required to dress it. How the
mother's heart did ache, as she thought of the pain her poor boy had
suffered, and might yet be doomed to suffer! And yet, amid this pain,
came intruding the thought, which she tried to repel as a selfish
thought, that he could work no more, and earn no more, for, perhaps, a
long, long time.

Yes, the period of severer trial had evidently come. She did not permit
herself even to hope that her husband when he returned would bring with
him enough money to pay the rent. She knew, too well, that he would
not; and she also knew, alas! too well that the man to whose tender
mercies they would then be exposed had no bowels of compassion.

Wet with many tears was the pillow upon which the mother's head reposed
that night. She was too weary in body and sorrowful in mind to sleep.

On the next morning a deep snow lay upon the ground. To some a sight of
the earth's pure white covering was pleasant, and they could look upon
the flakes still falling gracefully through the air with a feeling of
exhilaration. But they had food and fuel in store--they had warm
clothing--they had comfortable homes. There was no fear of cold and
hunger with them--no dread of being sent forth, shelterless, in the
chilling winter. It was different with Mrs. Foster when she looked from
her window at daylight.

George had been restless, and moaned a good deal through the night; but
now he slept soundly, and there was a bright flush upon his cheeks.
With what a feeling of tenderness and yearning pity did his mother bend
over him, and gaze into his fair face, fairer now than it had ever
looked to her. But she could not linger long over her sleeping boy.

With the daylight, unrefreshed as she was, came her "never ending,
still beginning" toil; and now she felt that she must toil harder and
longer, and without hope.

Though little Emma's offer to go and work in the mill in her brother's
place had passed from the thought of Mrs. Foster, yet the child had
been too much in earnest to forget it herself. Young as she was, the
very pressure of circumstances by which she was surrounded had made her
comprehend clearly the necessity that existed for George to go and work
daily in the mill. She knew that he earned a dollar and a half weekly;
and she understood very well, that without this income her mother would
be greatly distressed.

After she had eaten her breakfast of bread and milk, the child went up
stairs and got an old pair of stockings, which she drew on over her
shoes, that had long been so worn as to afford but little protection to
her feet; and then taking from a closet an old shawl, drew it over her
head. Thus attired, she waited at the head of the stairs until her
mother was out of the way, and then went quickly down. She managed to
leave the house without being seen by any one, and took her way,
through the deep and untracked snow, towards the mill, which was about
a quarter of a mile off. The air was bitter cold, and the storm still
continued; but the child plodded on, chilled to the very heart, as she
soon was, and, at length, almost frozen, reached the mill. The owner
had observed her approach from the window, and wondering who she was,
or what brought so small a child to the mill through the cold and
storm, went down to meet her.

"Bless me! little one!" he said, lifting her from the ground and
placing her within the door. "Who are you, and what do you want?"

"I'm George's sister, and I've come to work in his place till he gets
well," replied the child, as she stood, with shivering body and
chattering teeth, looking up earnestly into the man's face.

"George Foster's sister?"

"Yes, sir. His hand's hurt so he can't work, and I've come to work in
his place."

"You have! Who sent you, pray?"

"Nobody sent me."

"Does your mother know about your coming?"

"No, sir."

"Why do you want to work in George's place?"

"If I do, then you'll send mother a dollar and a half every week, won't

The owner of the mill was a kind-hearted man, and this little incident
touched his feelings.

"You are not big enough to work in the mill, my child," said he, kindly.

"I'm nine years old," replied Emma, quickly.

"Oh yes! I can work as well as anybody. Do let me come in George's
place! Won't you?"

Emma had not been gone very long before she was missed. Her mother had
become quite alarmed about her, when she heard sleigh-bells at the
door, and, looking out, saw the owner of the mill and her child.
Wondering what this could mean, she went out to meet them.

"This little runaway of yours," said the man, in a pleasant voice,
"came trudging over to the mill this morning, through the snow, and
wanted to take the place of George, who was so badly hurt yesterday, in
order that you might get, as she said, a dollar and a half every week."

"Why, Emma!" exclaimed her mother, as she lifted her from the sleigh.
"How could you do so? You are not old enough to work in your brother's

"Besides," said the man, "there is no need of your doing so; for George
shall have his dollar and a half, the same as ever, until he is able to
go to work again. So then, my little one, set your heart at rest."

Emma understood this very well, and bounded away into the house to take
the good news to her brother, who was as much rejoiced as herself.
After inquiring about George, and repeating to Mrs. Foster what he had
said to Emma, he told her that he would pay the doctor for attending
the lad, so that the accident needn't prove a burden to her.

The heart of Mrs. Foster lifted itself, thankfully, as she went back
into the house.

"Don't scold her, mother," said George. "She thought she was doing

This appeal, so earnestly made, quite broke down the feelings of Mrs.
Foster, and she went quickly into another room, and closing the door
after her, sat down by the bedside, and, burying her face in a pillow,
suffered her tears to flow freely. Scold the child! She felt more like
taking her in her arms, and hugging her passionately to her bosom.

To know that the small income her boy's labour had produced was not to
be cut off, proved a great relief to the mind of Mrs. Foster; but, in a
little while, her thoughts went back to the landlord's threat and the
real distress and hopelessness of their situation. To the period of her
husband's return she looked with no feeling of hope; but, rather, with
a painful certainty, that his appearance would be the signal for the
landlord to put his threat into execution.

Sadly the days went by, each one bringing nearer the time towards which
the unhappy woman now looked forward with a feeling of dread. That the
landlord would keep his promise, she did not, for an instant, doubt.
Without their cow, how could she, with all her exertions, feed her
children? No wonder that her heart was troubled.

At last the day before the opening year came.

"Papa will be home to-morrow," said Emma. "I wonder what he will bring
me for a New Year's gift."

"I wish he would bring me a book," said George.

"I'd like a pair of new shoes," remarked the little girl, more soberly,
looking down at her feet, upon which were tied, with coarse strings,
what were called shoes, but hardly retained their semblance. "And mamma
wants shoes, too," added the child. "Oh! I wish papa would bring her,
for a New Year's gift, a nice new pair of shoes."

The mother heard her children talking, and sighed to think how vain
were all their expectations.

"I wish we had a turkey for father's New Year's dinner," said Emma.

"And some mince pies!" spoke up little Hetty, the youngest, clapping
her hands. "Why don't we have mince pies, mamma?" she said, taking hold
of her mother's apron and looking up at her.

"Papa likes mince pies, I know; and so do I. Don't you like mince pies,

George, who was old enough to understand better than the rest of them
the true cause of the privations they suffered, saw that Hetty's
questions had brought tears to his mother's eyes, and, with a
thoughtfulness beyond his years, sought to turn the conversation into
another channel.

But the words of the children had brought to the mind of Mrs. Foster a
memory of other times,--of the many happy New Years she had enjoyed
with her husband, their board crowned with the blessings of the year.
Her dim eyes turned from her neglected little ones, and fell upon a
small ornament that stood upon the mantle. It was the New Year's gift
of her husband in better days. It reminded her too strongly of the
contrast between that time and the gloomy present. She went quickly
from the room, to weep unheard and alone.

New Year's morning at length broke clear and cold. Mrs. Foster was up
betimes. It was no holiday to her. Early in the day her husband was to
come home, and though she could not help looking and wishing for him to
come, yet the thought of him produced a pressure in her bosom. She felt
that his presence would only bring for her heart a deeper shadow.

The children had grown eager for him to come. The younger ones talked
of the presents he would bring them, while George thought of a book,
yet dared hardly hope to receive one. At last, Emma descried her father
far down the road, and announced, in a loud voice, his coming. The
heart of the mother throbbed quicker at the word. She went to the
window, where the children crowded, feeling troubled, and yet with
something of the old gladness about her heart. She strained her eyes to
see him, and yet dreaded to fix them upon him too intently, lest more
should be seen than she wished to see. He came nearer and nearer, and
she was yet at the window, her heart beating audibly. Could her eyes
deceive her, or was it indeed so? His form was erect and his step firm,
and, though his clothes were the same, they did not look so untidy.

"Thank God!" she ejaculated silently, yet fervently, as he came nearer
still--"he is sober."

Yes, he was sober.

"Henry!" she could not say another word, as she took his hand when he
came in. Her eyes were full of tears. He pressed her thin, small,
labour-worn hand tightly, and then turned and sat down. He, too, was
moved as well as she. But the children gathered around him, and seemed
gladder to see him than when he was last home. There was a reason for
this. Seeing the hand of George in a sling, he inquired the cause, and
when told of the accident, appeared deeply grieved, and said he should
not go back to the mill any more. The heart of his wife fluttered. Was
there a meaning deeper than a momentary impulse? At last little Hetty,
who had climbed upon his knee, said, "Where's my New Year's gift, papa?"

The father put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small
picture-book, and gave it to the child who was wild with joy in a
moment. He had a larger book for Emma, and Robinson Crusoe for George.

"And what for mother?" asked Emma, looking earnestly at her father.
"Haven't you brought dear mother a New Year's gift, too?"

"Oh, yes," replied the father, "I've got something for her also." His
voice was a little unsteady as he said this. Then he put his hand into
his pocket again, and, after keeping it there for a moment or two, drew
out a large folded piece of paper that looked like a title-deed, and
handed it to his wife, who took it with a trembling hand. She opened
it, read a few words, and, bursting into tears, turned and went quickly
from the room. Hers were tears of joy--unutterable joy.

Was it then a title-deed of property that her husband had given her,
filling her heart with gladness at the thought of relief from toil, and
privation, and suffering? No, it was better than that, and brought a
fuller and more perfect joy. It was a _New Year's gift_ such as she had
never dared hope to receive--the dearest gift in the power of her
husband to bestow. Already blotted with tears, it was tightly pressed
to her heaving bosom.

What was it? What could it be but the blessed temperance pledge,
signed, in a firm hand, with her husband's name.

That was indeed a happy New Year's day to the wife and mother, who,
when the morning dawned, felt that she was entering upon the darkest
days of her troubled existence. But a brighter day unknown was
breaking. It broke, and no gloomy clouds have since arisen to obscure
its smiling skies.


"I DECLARE, if these preserves haven't been working!" exclaimed Aunt
Mary, as she opened a jar of choice quinces, and perceived that, since
they were sealed up and carefully stored for the winter, fermentation
had taken place.

"And the peaches, too, as I live!" she added on examining another jar.
"Run, Hannah, and bring me my preserving kettle. I shall have to do
them all over."

"Mrs. Tompkins borrowed it, you know, yesterday," Hannah replied.

"So she did, I declare! Well, you must run over to Mrs. Tompkins,
Hannah, and tell her that I want my preserving kettle."

Hannah departed, and Aunt Mary proceeded to examine jar after jar of
her rich store of preserves, and, much to her disappointment, found
that all of her quinces and peaches, comprising some eight or ten jars,
had commenced working. These she took from their dark corners in the
closet, and, placing them on the large table in the kitchen, awaited
patiently Hannah's return. In about fifteen minutes her help entered.

"But where is the kettle?" inquired Aunt Mary, eagerly.

"Why, ma'am, Mrs. Tompkins says as how she ain't quite done with it
yet; she's finished her pears; but then she has her mamlet to do."

Aunt Mary Pierce was a good woman, and her heart was full of kind
feelings towards others. But she had her foibles as well as her
neighbours, and among these was an almost passionate admiration of her
beautiful bell-metal preserving kettle, which was always kept as bright
as a gold eagle. Nothing tried Aunt Mary more than to have to lend her
preserving kettle. But as in reading her Bible she found it
written--_Of him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away_--she
dared not refuse any of the applications that were made for it, and in
preserving time these were enough to try the patience of even a better
woman than Aunt Mary. The fact was, that Aunt Mary's preserving kettle
was the best in the village, and there were at least a dozen or two of
her neighbours, who did not think their sweetmeats good for any thing
if not prepared in this favourite kettle.

"Ain't it too bad!" ejaculated Aunt Mary, lifting her hands and then
letting them fall quickly. "Ain't it too bad! But it is always so! Just
when I want my own things, somebody's got them. Go right back, Hannah,
and tell Mrs. Tompkins that my preserves are all a working, and that I
must have my kettle at once, or they will be ruined."

Hannah started off again, and Aunt Mary stood, far less patiently than
before, beside the table on which she had placed her jars, and awaited
her return.

"Well," she asked eagerly, as Hannah entered after the lapse of some
ten minutes, "where is the kettle?"

"Mrs. Tompkins says, ma'am, that she is very sorry that your preserves
have commenced working, but that it won't hurt them if they are not
done over for three or four days. She says that her mamlet is all ready
to put on, and as soon as that is done you shall have the kettle in

Poor Aunt Mary was, for a few minutes, mute with astonishment. On
recovering herself, she did not storm and fret. Indeed, she was never
guilty of these little housewife effervescences, usually taking every
trouble with a degree of Christian meekness that it would have been
well for many in the village, even the minister's wife, to have

"Well, Hannah," she said, heaving a sigh, "we shall have to wait, I
suppose, until Mrs. Tompkins has finished her marmalade. But I am
afraid all these preserves will be spoiled. Unless done over
immediately on their beginning to work, they get a flavour that is not
pleasant. But we must wait patiently."

"It's a downright shame, ma'am, so it is!" said Hannah, "and I wonder
you take it so quietly. If it was my kettle, and I wanted it, I reckon
I'd have it too quick. Only just say the word, ma'am, and I will get it
for you if I have to take it off of the fire."

"Oh no, no, no, not for the world, Hannah!" replied Aunt Mary, to her
indignant help. "We will try and wait for her, though it is a little
hard to have one's things always a-going, and never to be able to put
your hands on them when you want them."

All the next day Aunt Mary suffered the jars of fermenting preserves to
remain on the kitchen table. Every time her eye rested upon them,
unkind thoughts would arise in her mind against her neighbour, Mrs.
Tompkins, but she used her best efforts to suppress them. About the
middle of the next day, as the preserving kettle did not make its
appearance, Hannah was again despatched, with directions to urge upon
Mrs. Tompkins the pressing necessity there was for its being returned.
In due time Hannah made her appearance, but without the kettle.

"Well?" inquired Aunt Mary, in a tone of disappointment.

"Mrs. Tompkins says, ma'am," replied Hannah, "that you needn't be in
such a fever about your old preserving kettle, and that it is not at
all neigh-hourly to be sending for a thing before it is done with. She
says she won't be through with her mamlet before day after to-morrow,
and that you can't have the kettle before then."

"Well, it is a downright shame!" said Aunt Mary, with a warmth of
manner unusual to her.

"And so I told her," responded Hannah.

"You did! And what did Mrs. Tompkins say?"

"Oh, she fired right up, and said she didn't want any of my imperdence."

"But you oughtn't to have said so, Hannah."

"How could I help it, ma'am, when my blood was boiling over? It is a
shame; that's the truth."

Aunt Mary did not reply, but she thought all that Hannah had said to
Mrs. Tompkins, and a good deal more. Indeed, her forbearance was sorely
tried. Never since she could recollect, had she felt so unkindly
towards any one as she now did towards her neighbour and fellow church
member. Often did she try to put away these unkind and troublesome
thoughts; but the effort was vain. Mrs. Tompkins had trespassed so far
upon her rights, and then put such a face upon it, that she could not
help feeling incensed at her conduct.

After a while "day after to-morrow" came, which was on Saturday.

"I must have that kettle to-day, Hannah," said she, and Hannah started
off to Mrs. Tompkins.

"You needn't come after that kettle to-day," spoke up Mrs. Tompkins, as
Hannah entered, "my marmalade is not all done yet."

"But we must have it to-day, Mrs. Tompkins. Mrs. Pierce says as how I
mustn't come home without it. The preserves are nearly ruined now, and
all because you didn't send home the kittle when we first wanted it."

"I want none of your impudence," said Mrs. Tompkins, going off at once
into a passion, for she was rather a high-tempered woman, "and so just
shut up at once. If Mrs. Pierce is so fussy about her old worn-out
kettle, she can have it and make the most out of it. A pretty
neighbour, indeed! Here, Sally," calling to her help, "empty that
kettle and give it to Hannah."

"Where shall I empty it?" asked Sally.

"Empty it into the slop barrel, for what I care; the whole kettle of
marmalade will be spoiled any how. A pretty neighbour, indeed!"

Sally, who understood her mistress's mood, knew very well that her
orders were not to be literally obeyed. So she took the preserving
kettle from the fire, and poured its contents into a large pan, instead
of the slop barrel.

"Here's the kettle," said she, bringing it in and handing it to Hannah.
It was black and dirty on the outside, and within all besmeared with
the marmalade, for Sally cared not to take the trouble of cleaning it.

"There, take the kettle!" said Mrs. Tompkins in an excited tone, "and
tell Mrs. Pierce that it is the last time I'll borrow any thing from

Hannah took the kettle, and started for home at full speed.

"So you've got it at last," Said Aunt Mary, when Hannah entered; "and a
pretty looking thing it is! Really it is too bad to have a thing sent
home in that predicament."

"But ain't she mad though!" remarked Hannah, with something of
exultation in her tones.

"What in the world can she be mad about?" asked Aunt Mary in surprise.

"Mad because I would have the kittle. Why, there she had her mamlet on
the fire, boiling away, and said you couldn't have the kittle. But I
told her you must have it; that your preserves were nearly all spoiled,
just because you couldn't get your own kittle. Oh, but didn't she bile
over then! And so she told Sally to pour the mamlet into the slop
barrel, as it would all be spoiled any how, by your unneighbourly
treatment to her."

Poor Aunt Mary was dreadfully grieved at this. She loved the good
opinion of her neighbours, and it always gave her pleasure to oblige
them; but, in this case, she had been tried beyond endurance. She had
little heart now to touch her preserves, and so went off to her chamber
and sat down, overcome by painful feelings.

In the mean time, Hannah went to work, and, by dint of half an hour's
hard scouring, got the kettle to look something like itself. She then
went up and told Aunt Mary that every thing was now ready for doing the
preserves over again.

"I reckon we'll not boil them over to-day, Hannah," she replied. "It's
Saturday, and you've got a good deal of cleaning to do, and I don't
feel much like touching them. The preserves won't get much worse by

Hannah, who understood her mistress's feelings, and sympathized with
her, because she loved her, did not urge the matter, but at once
withdrew and left Aunt Mary to her own unpleasant reflections. It so
happened that the next day was the Communion Sabbath; and this fact had
at once occurred to Aunt Mary when Hannah repeated the words of Mrs.
Tompkins, and stated that she was very angry. Mrs. Tompkins was a
member and communicant of the same church with her. After sitting
thoughtfully in her chamber for some time, Aunt Mary took up the
communion service and commenced reading it. When she came to the words,
"Ye who do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, _and are in love
and charity with your neighbours,_" &c. &c., she paused and sat
thoughtful and troubled for some time.

"Am I in love and charity with my neighbours?" she at length asked
herself, aloud, drawing a heavy sigh.

"No, I am not," was the mental response. "Mrs. Tompkins is angry with
me, and I am sure I do not feel right towards her."

During all that afternoon, Aunt Mary remained in her chamber, in deep
communion with herself. For the last twenty years she had never, on a
single occasion, stayed away from the Lord's table; but now she felt
that she dared not go forward, for she was not in love and charity with
her neighbours, and the injunction was explicit. Night came, and at the
usual hour she retired, but not to sleep the sweet refreshing sleep
that usually locked up her senses. Her thoughts were so active and
troubled, that she could not sink away into a quiet slumber until long
after midnight. In the morning she felt no better, and, as church time
approached, her heart beat more heavily in her bosom. Finally, the nine
o'clock bell rang, and every stroke seemed like a knell. At last the
hour for assembling came, and Aunt Mary, cast down in heart, repaired
to the meeting-house. The pew of Mrs. Tompkins was just in front of
Aunt Mary's, but that lady did not turn around and smile and give her
hand as usual when she entered. All this Aunt Mary felt.

In due time the services commenced, and regularly progressed to their
conclusion, the minister preaching a very close sermon. The solemn and
impressive communion service followed, and then the members went up to
partake of the sacred emblems. But Aunt Mary did not go up as usual.
She could not, for she was not in love and charity with her neighbours.
This was noticed by many, and particularly by the minister, who
lingered after all had successively approached the table and retired,
repeating his invitation, while his eye was fixed upon Aunt Mary.

"What can be the matter?" asked Mrs. Peabody of Mrs. Beebe, the moment
she got outside of the church door. "Aunt Mary didn't go up."

"Indeed! It can't be possible?"

"Yes, but it is. For I sat just behind her all the time. She seemed
very uneasy, and I thought troubled. She hardly looked up during the
sermon, and hurried away, without speaking to any one, as soon as the
congregation was dismissed at the close of the communion service. What
can be the matter?"

"It is strange, indeed!" responded Mrs. Green, who came up while Mrs.
Peabody was speaking.

"I took notice myself that she did not go up."

"I wonder if she has done any thing wrong?"

"Oh, no!"

"Then what can be the matter?"

"I would give any thing to know!"

"Something is wrong, that is certain," remarked one of the little
crowd, for the group of two or three had swelled to as many dozens.

Many were the suggestions made in reference to Aunt Mary's conduct;
and, before Sabbath evening, there was not one of, the members that did
not know and wonder at her strange omission.

After Aunt Mary returned from church, she felt even worse than before.
A sacred privilege had been deliberately omitted, and all because she
had let unkindness spring up between herself and her neighbour.

"And yet how could I help it?" she argued with herself. "I was tired
out of all patience. I only sent for my own, and because I did so, Mrs.
Tompkins became offended. I am sure I was not to blame."

"But then," said another voice within her, "you could have gone over on
Saturday and made up the matter with her, and then there would have
been nothing in the way. One duty neglected only opened the way for

There was something in this that could not be gainsaid, and poor Aunt
Mary felt as deeply troubled as ever. She did not, as usual, go to the
afternoon meeting, for she had no heart to do so. And then, as the
shades of evening fell dimly around, she reproached herself for this
omission. Poor soul! how sadly did she vex her spirit by

That evening several of the society called in at the minister's house,
and soon Aunt Mary's singular conduct became the subject of

"Ain't it strange?" said one. "Such a thing has not occurred for these
ten years, to my certain knowledge."

"No, nor for twenty either," remarked the minister.

"She seemed very uneasy during the sermon," said another.

"I thought she did not appear well, as my eye fell upon her
occasionally," the minister added. "But she is one of the best of
women, and I suppose she is undergoing some sore temptation, out of
which she will come as gold tried in the fire."

"I don't know," broke in Mrs. Tompkins, who was among the visitors,
"that she is so much better than other people. For my part, I can't say
that I ever found her to be any thing extra."

"You do not judge of her kindly, Mrs. Tompkins," said the minister
gravely. "I only wish that all my parish were as good as she is. I
should feel, in that case, I am sure, far less concern for souls than I

Thus rebuked, Mrs. Tompkins contented herself by saying, in an
under-tone, to one who sat near her--

"They may say what they please, but I am well enough acquainted with
her to know that she is no better than other people."

Thus the conversation and the conjectures went round, while the subject
of them sat in solitude and sadness in her own chamber. Finally, the
minister said that he would call in and have some conversation with her
on the next day, as he had no doubt that there was some trouble on her
mind, and it might be in his power to relieve it.

Monday morning came at last, and Aunt Mary proceeded, though with but
little interest in her occupation, to "do over" her preserves. She
found them in a state that gave her little hope of being able to
restore them to any thing like their original flavour. But the trial
must be made, and so she filled her kettle as full as requisite of a
particular kind, and hung it over a slow fire. This had hardly been
done, when Hannah came in and said--

"As I live, Mrs. Pierce, there is the minister coming up the walk!"

And sure enough, on glancing out, she saw the minister almost at the

"Bless me!" she exclaimed, and then hurried into her little parlour, to
await the knock of her unexpected visitor. At almost any other time, a
call from the minister would have been delightful. But now, poor Aunt
Mary felt that she would as soon have seen any one else.

The knock came in a moment, and, after a pause, the door was opened.

"How do you do, Aunt Mary? I am very glad to see you," said the
minister, extending his hand.

Aunt Mary looked troubled and confused; but she received him in the
best way she could. Still her manner embarrassed them both. After a few
leading observations, the minister at length said--

"You seem troubled, Aunt Mary. Can any thing that I might say relieve
the pain of mind you evidently feel?"

The tears came into Aunt Mary's eyes, but she could not venture to
reply. The minister observed her emotion, and also the meek expression
of her countenance.

"Do not vex yourself unnecessarily," he remarked. "If any thing has
gone wrong with you, deal frankly with your minister. You know that I
am ever ready to counsel and advise."

"I know it," said Aunt Mary, and her voice trembled. "And I need much
your kind direction. Yet I hardly know how to tell you my troubles. One
thing, however, is certain. I have done wrong. But how to mend that
wrong I know not, while there exists an unwillingness on my part to
correct it."

"You must shun evil as sin," the minister remarked in a serious tone.

"I know, and it is for that reason I am troubled. I have unkind
thoughts, and they are evil, and yet I cannot put these unkind thoughts

For a moment the minister sat silent, and then, looking up with a
smile, said--

"Come, Aunt Mary, be open and frank. Tell me all the particulars of
your troubles, and then I am sure I can help you."

Aunt Mary, in turn, sat silent and thoughtful for a short period, and
then, raising her head, she proceeded to relate her troubles. She told
him how much she had been tried, year after year, during the preserving
season, by the neighbours who had borrowed her preserving kettle. It
was the best in the village, and she took a pride in it, but she could
have no satisfaction in its possession. It was always going, and never
returned in good order. She then frankly related how she had been tried
by Mrs. Tompkins, and how nearly all of her preserves were spoiled,
because she could not get home her kettle,--how the unkind feelings
which had suddenly sprung up between them in consequence had troubled
her, and even caused her to abstain, under conscientious scruples, from
the communion.

The minister's heart felt lighter in his bosom as she concluded her
simple narrative, and, smiling encouragingly, he said--"Don't let it
trouble you, Aunt Mary; it will all come right again. You have
certainly been treated very badly, and I don't wonder at all that your
feelings were tried."

"But what shall I do?" asked Aunt Mary, eagerly. "I feel very much
troubled, and am very anxious to have all unkindness done away."

"Do you think you can forgive Mrs. Tompkins?"

"Oh, yes. She has not acted kindly, but I can forgive her from my

"Then you might call over and see her, and explain the whole matter. I
am sure all difficulties will end there."

"I will go this day," Aunt Mary said, encouragingly.

The minister sat a short time longer, and then went away. He had no
sooner gone, than Aunt Mary put on her things and went directly over to
Mrs. Tompkins.

"Good morning, Mrs. Pierce," that lady said, coolly, as her visitor
entered. She had always before called Aunt Mary by the familiar name by
which she was known in the village.

"Good morning, Mrs. Tompkins. I have come over to say that I am very
sorry if I offended you on Saturday. I am sure I did not mean to do so.
I only sent for my kettle, and would not have done that, had not some
seven or eight jars of preserves been working."

"Oh, it was no offence to send for your kettle," Mrs. Tompkins replied,
smiling. "That was all right and proper. I was only a little vexed at
your Hannah's impudence. But, Aunt Mary, 'let has-beens be has-beens.'
I am sorry that there has occurred the least bit of coolness between

Aunt Mary's heart bounded as lightly as if a hundred-pound weight had
been taken from it; she was made happy on the instant.

"You don't know how glad I am to hear you say so, Mrs. Tompkins," she
said, earnestly. "It has removed a load from my heart. Hereafter, I
hope nothing will occur again to disturb our friendly feelings. You may
have the kettle again, in a day or two, in welcome, and keep it as long
as you please."

The breach was thus easily healed; and had Aunt Mary gone over on
Saturday to see Mrs. Tompkins, she would have saved herself a world of

Still, nothing of this was known to the other members of the church,
who were as full of conjecture as ever, touching the singular conduct,
as they called it, of Aunt Mary. The minister said nothing, and Mrs.
Tompkins, of course, said nothing; and no one ventured to question Aunt

On the next Sabbath, Aunt Mary came to church as usual, and all eyes
were instantly upon her.

Some thought she still looked troubled, and was paler than before,
while others perceived that she was really more cheerful. In due time,
the minister arose and announced his text:

"Give to him that asketh, and of him that would borrow of thee, turn
thou not away."

"My dear friends," said he, on drawing near to the close of his
subject, "the text teaches us, besides that of simple alms-giving, the
duty of lending; but you will observe, it says not a word about
borrowing. Under the law laid down here, we may lend as much as we
please, but it gives no license to borrow. Now, as far as I have been
able to learn, a number of my congregation have not been very
particular on this point. They seem to think that it is helping their
neighbours to keep this injunction to lend, by compelling an obedience
to the precept, whether they are inclined to obey or not. Now, this is
wrong. We are justified in lending to those who need such kind offices,
but not to put others to the inconvenience of lending when we are fully
able to supply our own wants. This is going beyond the scope of the
Divine injunction, and I hold it to be morally wrong to do so. Some of
you, I am credibly informed," and his voice fell to a low, distinct,
and solemn tone, "are in the habit of regularly borrowing Aunt Mary's
preserving kettle--(here Aunt Mary looked up with a bewildered air,
while her face coloured deeply, and the whole congregation stared in
amazement; but the minister went calmly on)--and this, too, without
regard to her convenience. Nor is this all--the kettle is hardly ever
returned in a good condition. How thoughtless! how wrong! In this, Aunt
Mary alone has been faithful to the precept in my text, while you have
departed widely from its true spirit. Let me hope that you will think
better of this matter, and wisely resolve to let your past
short-comings suffice."

And thus the sermon closed. It may well be supposed that for some days
there was something of a stir in the hive. The ladies of the
congregation who were among the borrowers of the preserving kettle, and
they were not a few, including the minister's wife, were for a time
deeply incensed at Aunt Mary, and not a few at the minister. But this
temporary indignation soon wore off, for Aunt Mary was so kind and good
that no one could feel offended with her for any length of time, more
especially where there was really no cause of offence. One by one, they
called upon her, as they were enabled to see how really they had been
guilty of trespassing upon good nature, and, after apologizing, enjoyed
with her a hearty laugh upon the subject. And, finally, the whole thing
came to be looked upon as quite an amusing as well as an instructive

After this, Aunt Mary was allowed to possess her beautiful bell-metal
preserving kettle in peace, which was to her a source of no small
satisfaction. And what was more, in the course of the next preserving
season, a stock of twenty or thirty brass, copper, and bell-metal
kettles, that had been lying for years on the shelves of a
hardware-dealer's store in the village, almost uninquired for, were all
sold off, and a new supply obtained from Boston to meet the increased


"WE'RE home at last, and I am so glad!" exclaimed a little girl, not
over ten years of age, as she paused at twilight with her mother before
a small and mean-looking house, one evening late in the month of

The mother did not reply, but lifted the latch, when both passed in.
There was no light in the dwelling, and no fire on the hearth. All was
cold, dark, and cheerless in that place which had been called "home" by
the little girl; yet, cold, dark, and cheerless as it was, she still
felt glad to be there once more.

"_I_ will get a light, mother," said she, in a cheerful tone, running
to a closet, and taking thence a candle and a match.

In a moment or two afterwards the candle was burning brightly, and
throwing its light into every corner of that meanly-furnished room,
which contained but few articles, and they the simplest that were
needed. An old pine table, without leaves, three or four old chairs the
paint from which had long since disappeared, a bench and a water
bucket, with a few cooking utensils, made up the furniture of the

A small fire was soon kindled on the hearth, over which the mother hung
a tea-kettle. When this had boiled, and she had drawn some tea, she
placed upon the table a few slices of bread and a piece of cheese,
which she took from a basket that she had borne on her arm. Then the
mother and child sat down to partake of their frugal meal, which both
eat with a keen relish.

"I'm so glad to get home again!" the little girl said, glancing up into
her mother's face, with a cheerful smile.

The mother looked upon her child with a tender expression, but did not
reply. She thought how poor and comfortless that home was which seemed
so desirable.

"I don't like to go to Mrs. Walker's," said the child, after the lapse
of a few moments.

"Why not, Jane?"

"Because I can't do any thing right there. Amy scolds me if I touch a
thing, and John won't let me go any place, except into the kitchen. I'm
sure I like home a great deal better, and I wish you would always stay
at home, mother."

"I would never go out, Jane, if I could help it," the mother replied,
in the effort to make her daughter understand, that she might acquiesce
in the necessity. "But you know that we must eat, and have clothes to
wear, and pay for the house we live in. I could not get the money to do
all this, if I did not go out to work in other people's houses, and
then we would be hungry, and cold, and not have any home to come to."

The little girl sighed and remained silent for a few moments. Then she
said, in a more cheerful tone,

"I know it's wrong for me to talk as I do, mother, and I'll try not to
complain any more. It's a great deal harder for you than it is for me
to go into these big people's houses. You have to work so hard, and I
have only to sit still in the kitchen. But won't father come home soon?
He's been away so long! When he was home we had every thing we wanted,
and you didn't have to go out a working."

Tears came into the mother's eyes, and her feelings were so moved, that
she could not venture to reply.

"Won't he be home soon, mother?" pursued the child.

"I'm afraid not," the mother at length said, in as calm a voice as she
could assume.

"Why not, mother? He's been gone a long time."

"I cannot tell you, my child. But I don't expect him home soon."

"Oh, I wish he would come," the child responded, earnestly. "If he was
only home, you would not have to go out to work any more."

The mother thought that she heard the movement of some one near the
door, and leant her head in a listening attitude. But all was silent
without, save the occasional sound of footsteps as some one hurried by.

To give the incidents and characters that we have introduced their true
interest, we must go back some twelve years, and bring the history of
at least one of the individuals down from that time.

A young lady and one of more mature age sat near a window, conversing
earnestly, about the period to which we have reference.

"I would make it an insuperable objection," the elder of the two said,
in a decided tone.

"But surely there can be no harm in his drinking a glass of wine or
brandy now and then. Where is the moral wrong?"

"Do you wish to be a drunkard's wife?"

"No, I would rather be dead."

"Then beware how you become the wife of any man who indulges in even
moderate drinking. No man can do so without being in danger. The vilest
drunkard that goes staggering past your door, will tell you that once
he dreamed not of the danger that lurked in the cup; that, before he
suspected evil, a desire too strong for his weak resistance was formed."

"I don't believe, aunt, that there is the slightest danger in the world
of Edward Lee. He become a drunkard! How can you dream of such a thing,

"I have seen much more of the world than you have, Alice. And I have
seen too many as high-minded and as excellent in character as Edward
Lee, who have fallen. And I have seen the bright promise of too many
girls utterly extinguished, not to tremble for you. I tell you, Alice,
that of all the causes of misery that exist in the married life,
intemperance is the most fruitful. It involves not only external
privations, toil, and disgrace, but that unutterable hopelessness which
we feel when looking upon the moral debasement of one we have
respected, esteemed, and loved."

"I am sure, aunt, that I will not attempt to gainsay all that. If there
is any condition in life that seems to me most deplorable and
heart-breaking, it is the condition of a drunkard's wife. But, so far
as Edward Lee is concerned, I am sure there does not exist the remotest

"There is always danger where there is indulgence. The man who will
drink one glass a day now, will be very apt to drink two glasses in a
twelvemonth; and so go on increasing, until his power over himself is
gone. Many, very many, do not become drunkards until they are old men;
but, sooner or later, in nine cases out of ten, a man who allows
himself to drink habitually, I care not how moderately at first, will
lose his self-control."

"Still, aunt, I cannot for a moment bring myself to apprehend danger in
the case of Edward."

"So have hundreds said before you. So did I once say, Alice. But years
of heart-aching misery told how sadly I was mistaken!"

The feelings of Alice were touched by this allusion. She had never
before dreamed that her uncle, who died while she was but a little
girl, had been a drunkard. Still, nothing that her aunt said caused her
to entertain even a momentary doubt of Edward Lee. She felt that he had
too much of the power of principle in his character ever to be carried
away by the vice of intemperance.

Edward Lee had offered himself in marriage to Alice Liston, and it was
on the occasion of her mentioning this to her aunt that the
conversation just riven occurred. It had, however, no effect upon the
mind of Alice. She loved Edward Lee tenderly, end, therefore, had every
confidence in him. They were, consequently, married, and commenced life
with prospects bright and flattering. But Edward continued to use
intoxicating drinks in moderate quantities every day. And, while the
taste for it was forming, he was wholly unconscious of danger. He would
as readily have believed himself in danger of murdering his wife, as in
danger of becoming a drunkard. He was a young merchant in a good
business when married, and able to put his young wife in possession of
a beautifully furnished house and all required domestic attendance, so
as to leave her but a very small portion of care.

Like the passage of a delightful dream were the first five years of her
wedded life. No one was ever happier than she in her married lot, or
more unconscious of coming evil. She loved her husband tenderly and
deeply, and he was all to her that she could desire. One sweet child
blessed their union. At the end of the period named, like the sudden
bursting of a fearful tempest from a summer sky, came the illness and
death of her aunt, who had been a mother to her from childhood.

Scarcely had her heart begun to recover from this shock, when it was
startled by another and more terrible affliction. All at once it became
apparent that her husband was losing his self-control. And the
conversation that she had held with her aunt about him, years before,
came up fresh in her memory, like the echo of a warning voice, now
heard, alas! too late. She noticed, with alarm, that he drank largely
of brandy at dinner, and was much stupified when he would rise from the
table--always retiring and sleeping for an hour before going back to
his business. Strange, it seemed to her, that she had never remarked
this before. Now, if she had desired it, she could not close her eyes
to the terrible truth.

For many weeks she bore with the regular daily occurrence of what has
just been alluded to. By that time, her feelings became so excited,
that she could keep silence no longer.

"I wouldn't drink any more brandy, Edward," said she, one day at the
dinner table; "it does you no good."

"How do you know that it does not?" was the prompt reply, made in a
tone that expressed very clearly a rebuke for interfering in a matter
that as he thought, did not concern her.

"I cannot think that it does you any good, and it may do you harm," the
wife said, hesitatingly, while her eyes grew dim with tears.

"Do me harm! What do you mean, Alice?"

"It does harm, sometimes, you know, Edward?"

"That is, it makes drunkards sometimes. And you are afraid that your
husband will become a drunkard! Quite a compliment to him, truly!"

"O, no, no, no, Edward! I am sure you will never be one.

"But what?"

"There is always danger, you know, Edward."

"Oh yes, of course! And I am going to be a drunken vagabond, if I keep
on drinking a glass of brandy at dinner time!"

"Don't talk so, Edward!" said Mrs. Lee, giving way to tears. "You never
spoke to me in this way before."

"I know I never did. Nor did my wife ever insinuate before that she
thought me in danger of becoming that debased, despised thing, a

"Say no more, Edward, in mercy!" Mrs. Lee responded--"I did not mean to
offend you. Pardon me this once, and I will never again allude to the

A sullen silence followed on the part of Lee, who drank frequently
during the meal, and seemed to do so more with the evil pleasure of
paining his wife than from any other motive. So sadly perverting is the
influence of liquor upon some men, when opposed, changing those who are
kind and affectionate into cruel and malicious beings.

From that hour Mrs. Lee was a changed woman. She felt that the star of
love, which for so many happy years had thrown its rays into the very
midst of their fireside circle, had become hidden amid clouds, from
which she looked at every moment for the bursting of a desolating
storm. And her husband was, likewise, a changed man. His pride and
self-love had been wounded, and he could not forgive her who had thus
wounded him, even though she were his wife. Whenever he was under the
influence of liquor, he would brood over her words, and indulge in
bitter thoughts against her because she had presumed to insinuate that
there was danger of his becoming a drunkard.

At last he was brought home in a state of drunken insensibility. This
humbled him for a time, but did not cause him to abandon the use of
intoxicating drinks. And it was not long before he was again in the
same condition.

But we cannot linger to trace, step by step, his downward course, nor
to describe its effects upon the mind of his wife; but will pass over
five years more, and again introduce them to the reader.

How sadly altered is every thing! The large and comfortable house, in
an eligible position, has been changed for a small, close, ill-arranged
tenement. The elegant furniture has disappeared, and in its place are
but few articles, and those old and common. But the saddest change of
all is apparent in the face, dress, and air of Mrs. Lee. Her pale,
thin, sorrow-stricken countenance--her old and faded garments--her
slow, melancholy movements, contrast sadly with what she was a few
years before.

A lot of incessant toil is now her portion. Lee has, in consequence of
intemperance, causing neglect of business, failed, and had every thing
taken from him to pay his debts. For a while after this event, he
contributed to the support of his wife and child by acting in the
capacity of a clerk. But he soon became so dissipated, that no merchant
would employ him, and the entire support of the family fell upon his
wife. That was, in the very nature of things, an exceedingly meagre
support. Mrs. Lee had never looked forward to such a condition in life,
and therefore was entirely unprepared for it. Ordinary sewing was all
that she could do, and at this she could make but a small pittance. The
little that her husband earned was all expended in the accursed poison
that had already ruined himself and beggared his family.

After having suffered every thing to sink to this condition, Lee found
so little attractive in the appearance of a heart-broken wife and
beggared child, and so much about them to reprove him, that he left
them without a word, and went off to a neighbouring city.

How passing strange is the effect of drunkenness upon the mind and
character of a man! Is it not wonderful how the tender, affectionate,
and provident husband and father can become so changed into a worse
than brutal insensibility to all the sacred duties of life? Is it not
wonderful how the man, who would, to-day, sacrifice even life itself
for the safety of his family--who thinks nothing of toil, early and
late, that he may provide for every want, can in a few years forsake
them, and leave them to struggle, single-handed, with sickness and
poverty? But so it is! Instances of such heartless abandonment are
familiar to every one. "Surely," as it has been said, "strong drink is
a devil!" For he that comes under its influence is transformed into a
worse than brutal nature.

For a time after Lee went away, his wife was enabled, by sewing, to
meet the scanty wants of herself and child. The burden of his support
had been removed, and that was something gained. But a severe illness,
during which both herself and little Jane suffered much for the want of
nourishing food, left her with impaired sight. She could no longer, by
sewing, earn the money required to buy food and pay her rent, and was
compelled to resort to severe bodily toil to accomplish that end.

From several of the old friends of her better days, she had obtained
sewing, and necessity compelled her to resort to them for still humbler

"Good morning, Mrs. Lee! I have been wondering what in the world had
become of you," said one of those former friends, a Mrs. Walker, as the
poor woman called to see her, after her recovery.

"I have been very sick," replied Mrs. Lee, in a low feeble voice, and
her appearance told too plainly the effects of the sickness upon her.

"I'm sorry to hear it. But I am very glad you are out again, for my
sewing is all behindhand."

"I'm afraid that I shall not be able to do any more sewing for a good
while," said Mrs. Lee, despondingly.

"Indeed! And why not?"

"Because my eyes have become so weak that I can scarcely see."

"Then what do you expect to do? How will you get along, Mrs. Lee?"

"I can hardly tell myself. But I must do something."

"What can you do besides sewing?"

"I don't know of any thing, unless I take in washing."

"Take in washing! You are not fit to stand at the washing tub."

"I know that, ma'am. But when we are driven to it, we can do a great
many things, even though we gradually fail under our task."

A pause of a few moments ensued, which was broken by Mrs. Lee.

"Will you not give me your washing to do, Mrs. Walker?" she asked,

"Why, I don't know about that, Mrs. Lee. I never put my washing out of
the house."

"You hire some one in the house, then?"

"Yes, and if you will come for what I pay my present washerwoman, why I
suppose I might as well throw it in your way."

"Oh yes, of course I will. How much do you give?"

"I give half a dollar a day. Can you come for that?"

"If you will let me bring my little girl along. I could not leave her

"I don't know about that," replied Mrs. Walker, musingly. "I have so
many children of my own about the house."

"She will not be at all troublesome, ma'am," the poor woman urged.

"Will she be willing to stay in the kitchen?"

"Oh yes, I will keep her there."

"Well, Mrs. Lee, I suppose I might as well engage you. But there is one
thing that I wish understood. The person that I hire to help do the
washing must scrub up the kitchen after the clothes are all out. Are
you willing to do that?"

"Oh yes, ma'am. I will do it," said Mrs. Lee, while her heart sank
within her at the idea of performing tasks for which her feeble health
and strength seemed altogether insufficient. But she felt that she must
put her hands to the work, if she died in the effort to perform it.

Three days afterwards, she entered, as was agreed upon, at half a
dollar a day, the kitchen of Mrs. Walker, who had but a few years
before been one of her friends and companions.

It is remarkable, how persons of the most delicate constitutions will
sometimes bear up under the severest toil, and encounter the most
trying privations, and yet not fail, but really appear to gain some
degree of strength under the ordeal that it seemed, to all human
calculation, must destroy them.

So it was with Mrs. Lee. Although she suffered much from debility and
weariness, occasioned by excessive toil for one all unaccustomed to
hard labour, yet she did not, as she feared, sink rapidly under it. By
taking in as much washing and ironing as she could do, and going out
two days in the week regularly, she managed to procure for herself and
child the bare necessaries of life. This she had continued for about
two years at the time when first introduced to the reader's attention,
as returning with her child to her comfortless home.

The slight movement near her door, which Mrs. Lee had thought to be
only an imaginary sound, was a reality. While little Jane spoke of her
father, and wondered at his absence, a man, comfortably clad in coarse
garments, stood near the door in a listening attitude. Once or twice he
laid his hand upon the latch, but each time withdrew it and stood
musing in seeming doubt. "Oh, I wish father would come home!" fell upon
his ear, in clear, distinct, earnest tones.

He did not hear the low reply, though he listened eagerly. Only for a
moment longer did he pause. Then swinging the door open, and stepping
in quickly, he said in an earnest voice, "And I have come home at last,
my child!--at last, my dear Alice! if you will let me speak to you thus
tenderly--never, never again to leave you!"

Poor Mrs. Lee started and turned pale as her husband entered thus
abruptly, and all unexpected. But she saw a change in him that was not
to be mistaken; and all her former love returned with overwhelming
tenderness. Still she restrained herself with a strong effort, and

"Edward, how do you come?"

"As a sober man. As a true husband and father, I trust, to my wife and
child; to banish sorrow from their hearts, and wipe the tears from
their eyes. Will you receive me thus?"

He had but half finished, when Mrs. Lee sprang towards him, and fell
sobbing in his outstretched arms. She saw that he was in earnest, she
felt that he was in earnest, and once more a gleam of sunshine fell
upon her heart.

Years have passed, and no cloud has yet dimmed the light that then
dawned upon the darkness of Mrs. Lee's painful lot. Her husband is fast
rising, by industry and intelligence, towards the condition in life
which he had previously occupied; and she is beginning again to find
herself in congenial associations. May the light of her peaceful home
never again grow dim.


"IT'S nearly a year, now, since I was home," said Lucy Gray to her
husband, "and so you must let me go for a few weeks."

They had been married some four or five years, and never had been
separated, during that time, for twenty-four hours at a time.

"I thought you called this your home," remarked Gray, looking up, with
a mock-serious air.

"I mean my old home," replied Lucy, in a half-affected tone of anger.
"Or, to make it plain, I want to go and see father and mother."

"Can't you wait three or four months, until I can go with you?" asked
the young husband.

"I want to go now. You said all along that I should go in May."

"I know I did. But I thought I would be able to go with you."

"Well, why can't you go? I am sure you might, if you would."

"No, Lucy, I cannot possibly leave home now. But if you are very
anxious to see the old folks, I can put you into the stage, and you
will go safe enough. Ellen and I can take care of little Lucy, no
doubt. How long a time do you wish to spend with them?"

"About three weeks, or so."

"Very well, Lucy; if you are not afraid to go alone, I will not say a

"I am not afraid, dear," said the wife, in a voice changed and softened
in its expression. "But are you perfectly willing to let me go, Henry?"

"Oh, certainly," was the reply, although the tone in which the words
were uttered had something of reluctance in it. "It would be selfish in
me to say, no. Your father and mother will be delighted to receive a
visit just now."

"And you think that you and Ellen can get along with little Lucy?"

"Oh yes, very well."

"I should like to go, so much!"

"Go, then, by all means."

"But won't you be very lonesome without me?" suggested Lucy, in whose
own bosom a feeling of loneliness was already beginning to be felt at
the bare idea of a separation from her husband.

"I can stand it as long as you," was Gray's laughing reply to this.
"And then I shall have our dear little girl."

Lucy laughed in return, but did not feel as happy at the idea of "going
home" as she thought she would be, before her husband's consent had
been gained. The desire to go, however, remaining strong, it was
finally settled that the visit should be paid. So all the preparations
were entered upon, and in the course of a week Henry Gray saw his wife
take her seat in the stage, with a feeling of regret at parting, which
required all his efforts to conceal. As for Lucy, when the moment of
separation came, she regretted ever having thought of going without her
husband and child; but she was ashamed to let her real feelings be
known. So she kept up a show of indifference, all the while that her
heart was fluttering. The "good-bye" was finally said, the driver
cracked his whip, and off rolled the stage. Gray turned homewards with
a dull, lonely feeling, and Lucy drew her veil over her face to conceal
the unbidden tears from her fellow-passengers.

That night, poor Mr. Gray slept but little. How could he? His Lucy was
absent, and, for the first time, from his side. On the next morning, as
he could think of nothing but his wife, he sat down and wrote to her,
telling her how lost and lonely he felt, and how much little Lucy
missed her, but still to try and enjoy herself, and by all means to
write him a letter by return mail.

As for Mrs. Gray, during her journey of two whole days, she cried fully
half of the time, and when she got "home" at last, that is, at her
father's, she looked the picture of distress, rather than the daughter
full of joy at meeting her parents.

Right glad were the old people to see their dear child, but grieved, at
the same time, and a little hurt, too, at her weakness and evident
regret at having left her husband, to make them a brief visit. The real
pleasure that Lucy felt at once more seeing the aces of her parents,
whom she tenderly loved, was lot strong enough to subdue and keep in
concealment, except for a very short period at a time, her earning
desire again to be with her husband, for whom she never before
experienced a feeling of such deep and earnest affection. Several
times, during the first day of her visit, did her mother find her in
tears, which she would quickly dash aside, and then endeavour to smile
and seem cheerful.

The day after her arrival brought her a letter--the first she had ever
received from her husband. How precious was every word! How often and
often did she read it over, until every line was engraven on her
memory! Then she sat down, and spent some two or three hours in
replying to it. As she sealed this first epistle to her husband, full
of tender expressions, she sighed, as the wish arose in her mind,
involuntarily, that she could only go with it its journey to the
village of ----.

Long were the hours, and wearily passed, to Henry Gray. It was the
sixth day of trial before Lucy's answer came. How dear to his heart was
every word of her affectionate epistle! Like her, he went over it so
often, that every sentiment was fixed in his mind.

"Two weeks longer! How can I bear it?" he said, rising up, and pacing
the floor backwards and forwards, after reading her letter for the
tenth time. On the next day, the seventh of his lonely state, Mr. Gray
sat down to write again to Lucy. Several times he wrote the words, as
he proceeded in the letter--"Come home soon,"--but as often obliterated
them. He did not wish to appear over-anxious for her return, on her
father's and mother's account, who were much attached to her. But,
forgetting this reason for not urging her early return, he had
commenced again writing the words, "Come home soon," when a pair of
soft hands were suddenly placed over his eyes, by some one who had
stolen softly up behind him.

"Guess my name!" said a voice, in feigned tones.

Gray had no need to guess whose were the hands, for a sudden cry of joy
from a little toddling thing, told that "Mamma" had come.

How "Mamma" was hugged and kissed all round, need not here be told.
That scene was well enough in its place, but would lose its interest in
telling. It may be imagined, however, without suffering any particular
detriment, by all who have a fancy for such things.

"And father, too!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Gray, after he had almost
smothered his wife with kisses, looking up, with an expression of
pleasure and surprise, at an old man who stood looking on, with his
good-humoured face covered with smiles.

"Yes. I had to bring the good-for-nothing jade home," replied the old
man, advancing and grasping his son-in-law's hand, with a hearty grip.
"She did nothing but mope and cry all the while, and I don't care if
she never comes to see us again, unless she brings you along to keep
her in good-humour."

"And I never intend going alone again," Mrs. Gray said, holding a
little chubby girl to her bosom, while she kissed it over and over
again, at the same time that she pressed close up to her husband's side.

The old man understood it all. He was not jealous of Lucy's affection,
for he knew that she loved him as tenderly as ever. He was too glad to
know that she was happy with a husband to whom she was as the apple of
his eye. In about three months Lucy made another visit "home." But
husband and child were along, this time, and the visit proved a happy
one all around. Of course, "father and mother" had their jest and their
laugh, and their affectation of jealousy and anger at Lucy for her
"childishness," as they termed it, when home in May; but Lucy, though
half-vexed at herself for what she called a weakness, nevertheless
persevered in saying that she never meant to go anywhere again without
Henry. "That was settled."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Woman's Trials; Or, Tales and Sketches from the Life around Us" ***

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