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Title: The Barton Experiment
Author: Habberton, John
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.

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                                  THE
                           BARTON EXPERIMENT

                   BY THE AUTHOR OF “HELEN’S BABIES”

                               NEW YORK
                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                           182 FIFTH AVENUE
                                 1877

                               Copyright
                        BY G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                                 1876



PREFACE.


This book is not offered to the public as a finished romance, or even
as an attempt at one; the persons who appear on its pages are not
only not those who inspire pretty stories, but they are so literally
the representatives of individuals who have lived that they cannot
well be separated from their natural surroundings. It has seemed
to the author that if American people could behold some of the
men who have astonished themselves and others by their success as
reformers, individual effort would not be so rare in communities where
organization is not so easily effected, and where unfortunates are
ruined in the midst of their neighbors, while organization is being
hoped for. It is more than possible, too, that the accepted business
principle that the pocket is the source of power, is not as clearly
recognized as it should be in reform movements, and that the struggles
of some of the characters outlined herein may throw some light upon
this unwelcome but absolute fact.

The ideal reformer, the man of great principles and eloquent arguments,
fails to appear in these pages, not because of any doubts as to his
existence, but because his is a mental condition to which men attain
without much stimulus from without, while it need not be feared that in
the direction of individual effort and self-denial, the greatest amount
of suggestion will ever urge any one too far.



CONTENTS.


                              CHAPTER I.

    REFORMERS AT WHITE HEAT                                            1

                              CHAPTER II.

    BUSINESS _VS._ PHILANTHROPY                                       13

                             CHAPTER III.

    A WET BLANKET                                                     23

                              CHAPTER IV.

    REFORM WITH MONEY IN IT                                           34

                              CHAPTER V.

    AN ASTONISHED VIRGINIAN                                           46

                              CHAPTER VI.

    A COURSE NEVER SMOOTH                                             59

                             CHAPTER VII.

    SOME NATURAL RESULTS                                              73

                             CHAPTER VIII.

    AN ESTIMABLE ORGANIZATION CRITICISED                              83

                              CHAPTER IX.

    SOME VOLUNTEER SHEPHERDS                                          96

                              CHAPTER X.

    BRINGING HOME THE SHEEP                                          105

                              CHAPTER XI.

    DOCTORS AND BOYS                                                 113

                             CHAPTER XII.

    TWO SIDES OF A CLOUD                                             122

                             CHAPTER XIII.

    A PHENOMENON IN EMBRYO                                           132

                             CHAPTER XIV.

    SAILING UP STREAM                                                146

                              CHAPTER XV.

    A FIRST INWARD PEEP                                              161

                             CHAPTER XVI.

    A REFORMER DISAPPOINTED                                          174

                             CHAPTER XVII.

    THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER                               186



THE BARTON EXPERIMENT.



CHAPTER I.

REFORMERS AT WHITE HEAT.


Long and loud rang all the church bells of Barton on a certain summer
evening twenty years ago. It was not a Sunday evening, for during
an accidental lull there was heard, afar off yet distinctly, the
unsanctified notes of the mail-carrier’s horn. And yet the doors of
the village stores, which usually stood invitingly open until far into
the night, were now tightly closed, while the patrons of the several
drinking-shops of Barton congregated quietly within the walls of their
respective sources of inspiration, instead of forming, as was their
usual wont, lively groups on the sidewalk.

The truth was, Barton was about to indulge in a monster temperance
meeting. The “Sons of Temperance,” as well as the “Daughters” and
“Cadets” thereof, the “Washingtonians,” the “Total Abstinence Society,”
and all various religious bodies in the village had joined their forces
for a grand demonstration against King Alcohol. The meeting had been
appropriately announced, for several successive Sundays, from each
pulpit in Barton; the two school-teachers of Barton had repeatedly
informed their pupils of the time and object of the meeting; the
“Barton Register” had devoted two leaders and at least a dozen items
to the subject; and a poster, in the largest type and reddest ink
which the “Register” office could supply, confronted one at every
fork and crossing of roads leading to and from Barton, and informed
every passer-by that Major Ben Bailey, the well-known champion of the
temperance cause, would address the meeting, that the “Crystal Spring
Glee Club” would sing a number of stirring songs, and that the Barton
Brass Band had also been secured for the evening. The only inducement
which might have been lacking was found at the foot of the poster, in
the two words, “Admittance Free.”

No wonder the villagers crowded to the Methodist Church, the most
commodious gathering-place in the town. Long before the bells had
ceased clanging the church was so full that children occupying full
seats were accommodatingly taken on the laps of their parents, larger
children were lifted to the window-sills, deaf people were removed from
the pews to the altar steps, and chairs were brought from the various
residences and placed in the aisles. Outside the church, crowds stood
about near the windows, while more prudent persons made seats of logs
from the woodpile which the country members of the congregation had
already commenced to form against the approaching winter.

A sudden hush of the whispering multitude ushered in the clergy of
Barton, and, for once, the four reverend gentlemen really seemed
desirous of uniting against a common enemy instead of indulging in
their customary quadrangular duel. Then, amid a general clapping of
hands, the members of the Crystal Spring Glee Club filed in and took
reserved seats at the right of the altar; while the Barton Brass Band,
announced by a general shriek of “Oh!” from all the children present,
seated themselves on a raised platform on the left.

Squire Tomple, the richest and fattest citizen of the town, was
elected chairman, and accepted with a benignant smile. Then the
Reverend Timotheus Brown, the oldest pastor in the village, prayed
earnestly that intemperance might cease to reign. Squire Tomple then
called on the band for some instrumental music, which was promptly
given and loudly applauded, after which the Crystal Spring Glee Club
sang a song with a rousing chorus. Then there was a touching dialogue
between a pretended drunkard and his mother, in which the graceless
youth was brought to a knowledge of the error of his ways, and moved
to make a very full and grammatical confession. Then the band played
another air, and the Glee Club sang “Don’t you go, Tommy,” and
there was a tableau entitled “The First Glass,” and another of “The
Drunkard’s Home,” after which the band played still another air. Then a
member of the Executive Committee stepped on tiptoe up to the chairman
and whispered to him, and the chairman assumed an air of dignified
surprise, edged expectantly to one side of his chair, and finally arose
suddenly as another member of the Executive Committee entered the rear
door arm-in-arm with the great Major Ben Bailey himself.

The committee-man introduced the Major to the chairman, who in turn
made the Major acquainted with the reverend clergy; the audience
indulged in a number of critical and approving glances and whispers,
and then the chair announced that the speaker of the evening would now
instruct and entertain those there present. The speaker of the evening
cleared his throat, took a swallow of water, threw his head back,
thrust one hand beneath his coat-tails, and opened his discourse.

He was certainly a very able speaker. He explained in a few words the
nature of alcohol, and what were its unvarying effects upon the human
system; proved to the satisfaction and horror of the audience, from
reports of analyses and from liquor-dealers’ handbooks, that most
liquors were adulterated, and with impure and dangerous materials;
explained how the use of beer and light wines created a taste for
stronger liquors; showed the fallacy of the idea that liquor was in
any sense nutritious; told a number of amusing stories about men who
had been drunk; displayed figures showing how many pounds of bread and
meat might be bought with the money spent in the United States for
liquor, how many comfortable homes the same money would build, how many
suits of clothing it would pay for, how many churches it would erect,
and how soon it would pay the National Debt (which in those days was
foolishly considered large enough to be talked about). Then, after
drawing a touching picture of the drunkard’s home, and dramatically
describing the horrors of the drunkard’s death, the gallant Major made
an eloquent appeal to all present to forsake forever the poisonous
bowl, and dropped into his seat amid a perfect thunder of applause.

The lecture had been a powerful one; it was evident that the speaker
had formed a deep impression on the minds of his hearers, for when
the pledge was circulated, men and women who never drank snatched it
eagerly and appended their names, some parents even putting pencils
into baby fingers, and with devout pride helping the little ones
to trace their names. Nor were the faithful alone in earnestness,
for a loud shout of “Bless the Lord!” from Father Baguss, who was
circulating one of the pledges, attracted attention to the fact that
the document was being signed by George Doughty, Squire Tomple’s own
book-keeper, one of the most promising young men in Barton, except that
he occasionally drank. Then the list of names taken in the gallery was
read, and it was ascertained that Tom Adams, who drove the brick-yard
wagon, and whose sprees were mighty in length and magnitude, had also
signed. Half a dozen men hurried into the gallery to congratulate
Tom Adams, and so excited that gentleman that he took a pledge and a
pencil, went into the crowd outside the church, and soon returned with
the names of some of the heaviest drinkers in town.

The excitement increased. Cool-headed men--men who rarely or never
drank, yet disapproved of binding pledges--gave in their names almost
before they knew it. Elder Hobbedowker moved a temporary suspension
of the circulation of the pledges until the Lord could be devoutly
thanked for this manifestation of his grace; then the good elder
assumed that his motion had been put and carried, and he immediately
made an earnest prayer. During the progress of the prayer the leader
of the band--perhaps irreverently, but acting under the general
excitement--brought his men to attention, and the elder’s “Amen” was
drowned in the opening crash of a triumphal march. Then the Glee
Club sang “Down with Rum,” but were brought to a sudden stop by the
chairman, who excused himself by making the important announcement
that their fellow-citizen, Mr. Crupp, who had been a large vender of
intoxicating beverages, had declared his intention to abandon the
business forever. The four pastors shook hands enthusiastically with
each other; while, in response to deafening cheers, the heroic Crupp
himself was thrust upon the platform, where, with a trembling voice
and a pale though determined face, he reaffirmed his decision. Old
Parson Fish hobbled to the front of the pulpit, straightened his bent
back until his mien had at once some of the lamb and the lion about
it, and, raising his right hand authoritatively, started the doxology,
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” in which he was devoutly and
uproariously joined by the whole assemblage. This done, the people,
by force of habit, waited a moment as if expecting the benediction;
then remembering it was not Sunday, they broke into a general and
very enthusiastic chat, which ceased only when the sexton, who was a
creature of regular habits, announced from the pulpit that the oil
in the lamps would last only a few minutes longer, and that _he_ had
promised to be at home by ten o’clock.

Squire Tomple took the arm of the penitent Crupp and appropriated him
in full. There was a great deal to Squire Tomple besides avoirdupois,
and when thoroughly aroused, his enthusiasm was of a magnitude
consistent with his size. Besides, Squire Tomple was in the habit
of having his own way, as became the richest man in Barton, and he
appropriated Mr. Crupp as a matter of course. With Mr. Crupp on his
arm and the great cause in his heart, he appeared to himself so fully
the master of the situation that the foul fiend of drunkenness seemed
conquered forever, and the Squire swung his cane with a triumphal
violence which seriously threatened the safety of the villagers in
front of and behind him.

The Squire held his peace while surrounded by the home-going crowd, as
rightly became a great man; but when he had turned into the street in
which Mr. Crupp lived, he said, with due condescension,

“Crupp, you’ve done the right thing; you _might_ have done it sooner,
but you can do a great deal of good yet.”

The ex-rumseller quietly replied,

“Yes, if I’m helped at it.”

“Helped? Of course you’ll be helped, if you pray for it. You’ve
repented; now address the throne of grace, and----”

“Yes, I know,” interrupted Mr. Crupp. “I’m not entirely unacquainted
with the Lord, if I _have_ sold rum. You know his sun shines on the
just and the unjust, and I’ve had a good share of it. It’s help from
men that I want, and am afraid that I can’t get it.”

“Why, Crupp,” remonstrated the Squire, “you must have made something
out of your business, if it _is_ an infernal one.”

“I don’t mean that,” replied Mr. Crupp, a little tartly. “You’ve been
on your little drunks when you were young, of course?”

The Squire almost twitched Mr. Crupp off the sidewalk, as he exclaimed,
with righteous indignation,

“I never was drunk in my life.”

“Oh!” said the convert. “Well, some have, and pledges won’t quiet an
uneasy stomach, no way you can fix ’em. Them that never drank are all
right, but the drinking boys that signed to-night’ll be awful thirsty
in the morning.”

“Well,” said the Squire, “_they_ must pray, and act like men.”

“Some of ’em don’t believe in prayin’, and some of ’em can’t act like
men, because ’tisn’t in ’em. There’s men that seem to need whisky as
much as they need bread; leastways, they don’t seem able to do without
it.”

“If I’d been you, and believed that, Crupp,” replied the Squire, with
noticeable coolness and deliberation, “I wouldn’t have signed the
pledge; that is, I wouldn’t have stopped selling liquor.”

“P’r’aps not,” returned the ex-rumseller; “but with me it’s different.
There’s some men that b’lieves that sellin’ a woman a paper of pins,
and measurin’ out a quart of tar for a farmer, is small business, an’
beneath ’em, but they stick to it. Now I believe I’m too much of a man
to sell whisky, so I’ve stopped.”

The Squire took the rebuke in silence; however much his face may
have flushed, there were in Barton no tell-tale gas-lamps to make
his discomfort visible. The Squire had grown rich as a vender of the
thousand little things sold in country stores; he had many a time
declared that storekeeping was a dog’s life, and that he, Squire
Tomple, was everybody’s nigger--but he made no attempt to change his
business.

“What I mean,” continued Mr. Crupp, “by needin’ help, is this: I know
just about how much every drinkin’ man in town takes, an’ when he takes
it, an’ about when he gets on his sprees. Now, if there’s anybody to
take an interest in these fellows at such times, they’re going to have
plenty of chances mighty soon.”



CHAPTER II.

BUSINESS _vs._ PHILANTHROPY.


On the morning after the meeting the happiest man in all Barton
was the Reverend Jonas Wedgewell. He had been one of the first to
agitate the subject of a grand temperance demonstration; in fact, he
had, while preaching the funeral sermon of a young man who had been
drowned while drunk, prophesied that the sad event which had on that
occasion drawn his hearers together would give a mighty impetus to the
temperance movement; then like a sensible, matter-of-fact prophet, he
exerted himself to the uttermost that his prophecy might be fulfilled.
He subscribed liberally to the fund which paid for advertising the
meeting; he labored personally a full hour with the performer on the
big drum, and ended by persuading him to forego a coon-hunt on that
particular night, that he might take part in a hunt for nobler game.
The Reverend Jonas had drafted all the pledges which were circulated
during the meeting, and had seen to it that they contained no weak
or ungrammatic expressions which might tempt thirsty souls to treat
disrespectfully the documents and the principles they embodied. He had
reached the church door at the third tap of the bell, had greeted all
his reverend brethren with a hearty shake with both his own hands, and
had offered the Reverend Timotheus Brown so many pertinent suggestions
as to the prayer which that gentleman had been requested to make that
the ancient divine remarked, with a touch of saintly sarcasm, that he
did not consider that the occasion justified him in making a departure
from his habit of offering strictly original prayers.

Through the whole course of the meeting good Pastor Wedgewell sat
expectantly on the extreme end of the pulpit sofa, his body inclined a
little forward, his hands upon his knees, his eyes gleaming brightly
through polished glasses, and his whole pose suggesting the most
intense earnestness. He discerned a telling point before its verbal
expression was fully completed, his hands commenced to applaud the
moment the point was announced; his varnished boots and well-stored
head beat time alike to “Lily Dale,” the march from “Norma,” “Sweet
Spirit, hear my prayer,” and such other airs as the band was not
ashamed to play in public; he sprang from his seat and approvingly
patted the youthful backs of the pretended drunkard and his mother, he
laughed almost hysterically at the wit of the lecturer, and moistened
handkerchief after handkerchief as the able speaker depicted the sad
results of drunkenness. While the pledges were being circulated, the
reverend man occupied a position which raked the house, and he was the
first to announce to the faithful in the front seats the capture of any
drinking man. He intercepted Tom Lyker, a tin-shop apprentice, who had
signed the pledge, in the aisle, immediately after the audience was
dismissed, and suggested that they should together hold a season of
prayer in the study attached to the church; and the rather curt manner
in which the repentant but not altogether regenerate Thomas declined
the invitation did not abash the holy man in the least; for, as the
audience finally dispersed, he secured a few faithful ones, with whom
he adjourned to the study, and enjoyed what he afterward referred to as
a precious season.

Mrs. Wedgewell, who rendered but feeble reverence unto him who was
at once her spouse and her spiritual adviser, had been known to say
that when the old gentleman was wound up there was no knowing when
he would run down again; and all who saw the good man on the morning
after the meeting, admitted that his wife’s simile was an uncommonly
apt one. Squire Tomple believed so fully in the advantages of the
early bird over all others in search of sustenance, that his store was
always opened at sunrise; yet George Doughty had just taken the third
shutter from the front window, when a gentle tap on the shoulder caused
him to drop the rather heavy board upon his toes. As he wrathfully
turned himself, he beheld the approving countenance and extended
congratulatory hand of the Reverend Wedgewell.

“George, my dear, my noble young friend,” said he, as the irate
youth squeezed his agonized toes, “you have performed a most noble
and meritorious action--an action which you will never have cause to
regret.”

For a moment or two the young man’s face said many things not seemly to
express in appropriate words to a clergyman; but he finally recovered
his sense of politeness, and replied:

“I hope I shan’t repent of it, but I don’t know. It may be noble and
meritorious to sign the pledge, but a fellow needs to have twenty times
as much man in him to keep it.”

“Now you don’t mean to say, George, that you’ll allow such a vile
appetite to regain its ascendency over you?” pleaded the preacher.

“_’Tisn’t_ a vile appetite,” quickly replied the young man. “I need
whisky as much as I need bread and butter--yes, and a great deal more,
too. I have to open the store at sunrise, and keep it open till nine
o’clock and after, have to make myself agreeable to anywhere from two
to twenty people at a time, sell all I can, watch people who will steal
the minute your eye is off of them, not let anybody feel neglected, and
see that I get cash from everybody who isn’t good pay. When there isn’t
anybody here, I’ve got to keep the books, see that the stock don’t run
down in spots, and stir up people that are slow pay. The only way I can
do it all is by taking something to help me. I _hate_ whisky--I’m going
to try to leave it alone; but I tell you, Dominie, it’s going to be one
of the biggest fights you ever knew a young man to go into.”

The reverend listener was as easily depressed as he was exalted, and
Doughty’s short speech had the effect of greatly elongating the
minister’s countenance. Yet he had a great deal of that pertinacity
which is as necessary to soldiers of the cross as it is to those of the
bayonet; so he began manfully to search his mind for some weapon or
means of defense which the clerk could use. Suddenly his countenance
brightened, his benevolent eyes enlarged behind his glasses, and he
exclaimed:

“Just the thing! My dear young friend, the hand of Providence is in
this matter. Your worthy employer was the chairman of our meeting last
night; certainly he will be glad to give you such assistance as shall
lessen the amount of your labors. Here he comes now. Let _me_ manage
this affair; I really ask it as a favor.”

“I’m much obliged, but I think--confound it!” ejaculated the young
man, as his companion hastened out of earshot and buttonholed Squire
Tomple. Half smiling and half frowning Doughty retired from the door,
but took up a new position, from which he could see the couple. To
the eyes of the clerk, his employer seemed a rock in his unchanging
pose, while the old preacher, rich in many a grace not peculiar to
country storekeepers, yet utterly ignorant of business and such of
its perversions as are called requirements, seemed a mere lamb--a
fancy which was strengthened by the incessant gesturing and change
of position in which he indulged when in conversation. The pair soon
separated; the minister walked away, his step seeming not so exultant
as when he approached the merchant; while the latter, appearing to his
clerk to be broader, deeper, and more solid than ever, approached the
store, lifted up his head, displayed the face he usually wore when he
found he had made a bad debt, and said,

“George, I wish you wouldn’t try to talk about business to ministers.
Old Wedgewell has just pestered me nearly to death; says you complain
of having too much to do, and that you have to drink to keep up. It’ll
be just like him to tell somebody else, and a pretty story that’ll be
to go around about the chairman of a temperance meeting.”

“I didn’t mean to say anything to him,” replied the clerk; “but he
made me drop a shutter on my toes, and I guess that loosened my tongue
a little. I didn’t tell him anything but the truth, though, Squire. I
signed the pledge, last night, hoping you’d help me through.”

“What--what do you mean, George?” asked the merchant, in a tone which
defined the word “conservative” more clearly than lexicographer ever
did.

“I can’t work so many hours a day without drinking sometimes,” replied
the clerk. “What I ask of you is to take a boy. If I could come in a
couple of hours later every morning--and there’s next to nothing done
in the first two hours of the day--I could have a decent amount of
rest, not have to hurry so much, and wouldn’t break down so often, and
have to go to whisky to be helped up again.”

“A boy would have to be paid,” remarked the Squire in the tone he
habitually used when making a penitential speech in class-meeting; “and
here’s summer-time coming; there isn’t much business done in summer,
you know.”

“A boy won’t cost more than a dollar a week the first year,” replied
the clerk, “and you’d make that out of the people who sometimes _have_
to go somewhere else and trade on days when you’re not here and I’m
too busy to wait on them. There _isn’t_ so much money made in summer;
but women come to the store then a good deal more than they do in the
winter, and they take up an awful amount of time. Besides, the store
has to be opened about two hours earlier every morning than it does in
winter.”

The merchant pinched his gloomy brow and reflected. Doughty looked at
him without much hopefulness. The Squire’s heart might be all right,
but his pocket-book was by far the more sensitive and controlling
organ. At last the Squire said,

“Well, if it’s for _your_ good that you want the boy, you ought to be
willing to pay his salary. Besides----”

“Excuse me, Squire Tomple,” interrupted Doughty; “’tisn’t for my good
alone. ‘Accursed be he who putteth the bottle to his brother’s lips.’
I’ve heard you quote that to more than one man right in this store.
That’s what you’re doing to me if you keep on. You sell half as much
again as any other storekeeper in town, and why? Because I am smart
enough to hold custom. I haven’t cared to do anything else. I’ve given
myself up to making and holding custom for you, and I took to whisky to
keep me up to my work.”

“Well, haven’t I paid you for all you’ve done?” demanded the proprietor.

“Yes; but now I ask you to pay a little more. I’ve told you why; and
now the case stands just here: which do you care for most, the price
of a boy or the soul of your faithful clerk? _You_ say a man’s soul’s
in danger if he drinks.”

“Well, I’ll tell you, George,” replied the Squire, “I’ll think about
it. I want to do what’s right; but I--I don’t like to have other
people’s sins fastened on me.”



CHAPTER III.

A WET BLANKET.


The first task to which the penitent Crupp devoted himself on the
morning after the meeting was hardly that which his new admirers had
supposed he would attempt. They imagined he would knock in the heads
of his barrels, and allow the accursed contents to flood his cellar;
but Crupp, on the contrary, closed out the entire lot, for cash, at the
highest prices he could exact from dealers with whom he had lately been
in competition. “’Twas a splendid lot of liquors,” said Crupp, in the
course of an explanatory speech at the post-office, while every one was
waiting for the opening of the regular daily mail; “and though I _do_
feel above sellin’ ’em over the counter, they’re better for men that
_will_ drink than any that have ever come into Barton since I’ve been
here.”

With easier mind and heavier pocket, the ex-rumseller then called upon
the Rev. Jonas Wedgewell. That good man’s domestic, although from an
ever-green isle whose children do not generally regard whisky with
abhorrence, had sympathetically caught the spirit of her employers,
and as she had not heard of Mr. Crupp’s change of mind, she left him
standing on the piazza while she called Mr. Wedgewell. The divine
descended the stairway two steps at a time, dived into the parlor, and
had a congratulatory speech half delivered before he discovered that
the new convert was not there. He wildly shouted, “Mr. Crupp!” traced
the penitent by his voice, escorted him to the parlor with a series of
hand-shakings, shoulder-pattings, and bows, and forcibly dropped him
into an elegant chair which Mrs. Wedgewell had bought only to show, and
in which no member of the family had ever dared to sit.

“Ah, my valiant friend,” said the Rev. Jonas, hastily drawing a
chair near Mr. Crupp, and shedding upon him the full effulgence of a
countenance beaming with enthusiastic adoration; “the morning songs of
the angels of God must have been sweeter this morning as they thought
of your noble deed. You have cast off the shackles of a most accursed
bondage. Doubtless you wish to fulfill all of the conditions of the
liberty with which Christ hath made you free. The church----”

“Excuse me, parson,” interrupted Mr. Crupp; “but I don’t want to join
the church--not just now, anyhow. I----”

“Wish to consecrate your ill-gotten gains to the service of the Lord,”
broke in the good pastor; but Mr. Crupp frowned, then pouted, then
compressed his lips tightly, and gave so sudden a twitch as to wrench
one of the joints of the sacred chair, as he replied:

“No, sir, I don’t, for I haven’t any ill-gotten gains. I never sold
anything but good liquor, and the price was always fair. I never sold
any liquor to a drunken man, either. What I came to you for is this:
I know who drinks, when they drink, what they take, and I know pretty
well _why_ they drink. Some of them signed the pledge last night, and
they’re going to have an awful hard job in keeping it.”

“Prayer----” interrupted the minister, but the hard-headed Crupp
quickly completed the sentence.

“Prayer never cured a dyspeptic stomach, that I’ve heard of, and
I don’t believe it’ll take away a man’s hunger for whisky. These
fellows that’s been drinking, and have got anything to ’em, _can_ be
kept from falling into the old ways again; but they’ve got to be
handled carefully, and what I came to you for was to ask who was going
to do the handling? You know who’s free-handed with money in your
congregation, and free-handed men ought to be free-hearted. I’m going
to Dominie Brown on the same errand, and to the other preachers, too.”

Mr. Crupp’s speech consumed only a moment of time, but its effect
upon the preacher was wonderful--and depressing. From being a mirror
of irrepressible Christian exultation, Mr. Wedgewell’s face became as
solemn as it ever was when he bemoaned from the pulpit the apathy of
the elect. His eyes enlarged behind his glasses, and he stared for a
moment in an abstracted manner at a dreadful chromo which hung upon
his wall--a chromo at which no one in active possession of his mental
faculties could possibly have looked so long. But the old pastor had a
heart so great that even his theology had been unable to wall it in,
and after a moment of inevitable despondency he realized that Crupp was
intent upon doing good.

“Mr. Crupp,” said he, turning his head suddenly, and regaining a
portion of his earlier expression of countenance, “I do not fully
comprehend your intention, but I can see that it is good. May I ask
what the people of God can do for these beings who have been under the
dominion of alcohol?”

“Well, it’s a long story,” replied the old bartender. “Among them that
signed, there isn’t one in ten that ever drank, and of them that drank,
half of ’em’ll take something before night.”

“And break their solemn vow! Awful! awful!” ejaculated the minister.

“Yes,” said Crupp, “_’tis_ awful; but, on the other hand, there’s
some that’s in earnest. There’s Tom Adams, now--he that drives the
brick-yard team. Tom’s a good, square, honest fellow, and he loves his
family, but I don’t see how he’s going to stop drinking. He can’t work
without it; leastways, he can’t work along the way he’s working now.
Deacon Jones ought to give him easier work to do until he can bring
himself around; but Deacon Jones won’t waste his money in that way,
if he _is_ a member of your church. Then there’s old Bunley: there
isn’t anything _to_ him. He’s been drinking and drinking and drinking
this forty year, he says, and yet he was well brought up, and he can’t
keep himself from going to church every Sunday. He’s got some children
that ain’t grown yet, and if some of the storekeepers would only give
him credit without ever expecting to see their money again, the old
fellow wouldn’t get down-hearted so often, and maybe he could quit
drinking. As far as taking care of his family goes, he isn’t good for
much the way he is; he borrows from soft-hearted fellows who can’t
afford to lose as well as the storekeepers can, and _maybe_ he steals
sometimes--I don’t say he _does_, mind. At any rate, the biggest part
of his support comes out of the public, and as the public can’t help
itself, it ought to be sensible enough to try to make the old chap feel
and act like a man.”

“Bless me!” exclaimed Mr. Wedgewell, who had through all Mr. Crupp’s
delivery sat erect with his hands upon his knees, and his eyes and
mouth wide open. “I assure you, my dear sir, that I never had an
idea that the success of the temperance cause depended upon so many
conditions, and I also beg to assure you”--here the Reverend Jonas
hastily proffered his right hand--“that I appreciate and admire the
spirit which has prompted you to examine this subject in so many of
its bearings, and to endeavor to throw light upon it. But surely all
the--the men who, as you express it, have been drinking--surely these
cannot be constrained to continue by conditions similar to those which
you have instanced? There must be some who, if only they exercise their
will-power, will succeed in putting their vile enemy under their feet?”

“Yes,” replied Crupp, “there _are_ such. Lots of young fellows drink
only because they think it’s smart, and because they haven’t got
man enough in them to stop when they want to. They’re like a lot of
wolves--plucky enough when they’re together, but a live rooster could
scare one of them if he caught him alone. _I’m_ going to look out for
_that_ crowd myself; they need somebody to preach to ’em wherever he
can catch ’em, and I know where they hang out. But I’m not through
with the other kind yet. There’s Fred Macdonald, he’s going to be the
hardest man to manage in the whole lot. Good family, you know--got
a judge for a father, and ambitious as the----ambitious as Napoleon
Bonaparte. He’s in with all the steamboat fellows, and whisky is an
angel alongside of some things they carry. They’ll ruin him, sure.
Steamboating looks like something big to him, you know; it shows off
better than country stores and saw-mills. It’s no use talkin’ to him;
I’ve tried it once or twice, for I know the steamboat people of old;
but he as good as told me to mind my own business. Now if some of the
business men could get up something enterprising, and put Fred at the
head of it, on condition that he wouldn’t drink any more, they might
make money and save him from going to the--the bad. _I’ll_ put some
money into the thing, for I believe in Fred. Of course he’ll have to
be watched a little, for he may be too venturesome; but he can get
more trade and get more work out of his men than any other man in this
county.”

“Mr. Crupp,” said the minister, again taking the hand of the newly-made
reformer, and laying his own left hand affectionately upon Mr. Crupp’s
right elbow, “I cannot find words adequate to the expression of my
admiration of your earnestness in this great moral movement. But I must
confess that your treatment of the subject is one to which I am utterly
unaccustomed. I have been wont to regard intemperance solely as an
indication of an infirm will and a depraved appetite, but your theory
seems plausible; indeed, I do not see that either of our respective
standpoints need be wrong. But, with regard to the employment of the
reformatory means you suggest, I am not a capable adviser. It might be
well for you to consult some of our leading business men.”

“That’s what I am going to do,” replied Crupp. “And I am going to see
the doctors, too, and all the other ministers. What I want of _you_ is,
to back me up; preach at these fellows that are well enough off to make
themselves useful.”

“I’ll do it!” replied the minister with emphasis. “A suitable text
has already providentially entered my mind: ‘Am I my brother’s
keeper?’ Three heads and application: _First_, demonstrate that every
man _is_ his brother’s keeper; _second_, show how in the divine
economy it is wise that this should be so; _third_, the example of
Christ; _application_, our duty to the needy in our midst. Another
text suggests itself: ‘We, then, that are strong ought to bear the
infirmities of the weak.’ And yet another: ‘Give strong drink unto him
that is ready to perish;’ argument to be that if the Inspired Word
justifies such action as that implied by the text, and if alcohol is
the demon we believe it to be, it is our duty to prevent, by any means
in our power, people from reaching a condition in which such a terrible
remedy must be used. I beg your pardon, my dear Mr. Crupp,” exclaimed
the minister, springing excitedly from his chair; “but if you have any
other calls to make, I will repair at once to my study and prepare a
discourse based upon one of these texts. Excuse my seeming rudeness in
thus abruptly closing our interview, but my soul is on fire--on fire
with ardor which I cannot but believe is from heaven.”

“Oh, certainly,” replied Mr. Crupp, rising quite briskly. “Business is
business; it’s so in the liquor trade, I know, and I suppose it is in
preaching. I’ll go down and see Squire Tomple, I guess.”

The Rev. Jonas Wedgewell dropped abruptly into a chair, and the fire
with which his soul had been consuming seemed suddenly to expire. His
face became blank and expressionless, his lower jaw dropped a little,
and he gasped,

“Squire Tomple? I had a discouraging conversation with him only
yesterday morning on a subject involving very nearly the ideas which
you have advanced. His very estimable clerk, George Doughty, who
signed the pledge at our meeting, asserted that his work must decrease
in volume in order that he might continue faithful; so I made haste
to intercede for him with his employer, but I did not meet with that
encouragement which I had hoped for. Brother Tomple intimated that
temperance was temperance and business was business, and even made some
remarks which have since seemed to me to contain implications that I
was unduly concerned about his affairs.”

“Tomple’s a--a hog, if he _is_ a church member,” replied the irreverent
Crupp; “but he’s got to make himself useful if plain talk will do it.
It takes all kinds of men to make a world, parson, or to make men act
like men to their neighbors. Perhaps if you preachers come down on rich
men who hoard their money, and poor men that are about as stingy with
how-d’ye-do’s, and if business men show the public that it’s as cheap
to reform a pauper as it is to support him, and that it isn’t the thing
to stand by, while a man’s killing himself, without sayin’ a word or
spendin’ a cent to prevent him--perhaps we can be of some use in the
world. Good day, parson.”



CHAPTER IV.

REFORM WITH MONEY IN IT.


Tom Adams, driver of the brick-yard wagon, and signer of one of the
pledges circulated at the great temperance meeting, was certainly
a man worth saving. He had a wife and was rich in children. His
wife was faithful, good-natured, and industrious, and his children
were of that bright, irrepressible nature which is about the most
valuable of inheritances in this land where other inheritances do not
average largely in money value. For the good of such a group it was
very desirable that the head of the family should be in the constant
possession of strong arms and all his wits. And even for his own
sake Tom was worth a great deal more attention than men of his kind
ever receive. He was perfectly honest, a hard worker, cheerier in
temperament than any pastor in the village, quicker-witted than most of
the lawyers within the judicial circuit upon which the town of Barton
was situated, and more generous in proportion to his means than any
of his well-to-do fellow-citizens. During the season for making and
delivering bricks he worked from sunrise to sunset, rendered fair
count to seller and buyer, and never abused his employer’s horses.
His regular pay was seventy-five cents per day, which sum, in a land
where flour was sold at two cents per pound and meat was only twice as
high as flour, and a comfortable house could be hired at four dollars
per month, paid his family expenses. But the season at the brick-yard
lasted only during six months of the twelve. During the remaining six
months Tom gladly did any work he could find: he drove teams where any
hauling was to be done, chopped wood, worked in the pork-houses where
merchants prepared for the Southern market the fatted hogs which were
the principal legal-tenders for the indebtedness of farmer customers,
formed part of the crew of one of the many flatboats which conveyed the
meat to market, and did whatever other work he could find. But in the
winter season, when the family appetite was most industrious, Tom could
not find employment for all his time, while the merchants who trusted
him made more frequent requests for money than Tom was able to honor.
When he was idle, he found himself more welcome at the liquor-shops
than anywhere else; when he grew despondent at his inability to pay, he
sought solace at these same places; when in the steady work and long
hours of the summer season he became gradually “worked out” and “used
up”--experiences not infrequent with Tom--he went to the liquor-shops
for the only relief he had ever been able to find. His experience did
not differ greatly from that of men of higher social standing, who,
under similar mental and physical conditions, drink high-priced wines.
He gradually increased the quantity of his potations, and went through
the successive experiences of being unmanned by liquor, striving to
rebuild himself by the power which had broken him, becoming by turns
gay, silly, boisterous, pugnacious, sullen, apathetic, and finally
penitent. Each of his sprees cost him several days in time and several
dollars in money--a fact which no one realized more clearly than Tom
himself; yet the feeling which had made him take the first drinks of
these frightful series was one which had its seat in his own better
nature, and which he had many times found more powerful than every
influence he could bring to bear against it. He had listened to many
a private lecture on the subject of his weakness, and had honestly
admitted the truth of all that was said to him on the subject; he had
signed many a pledge in the most agonized earnest, and had broken every
one of them.

On the Monday which followed the temperance meeting Tom Adams was
nearly frantic with his old longing. The rest of Sunday had been a
hindrance rather than a help to him, for he had already suffered
several days from the effects of abstaining from his usual after-dinner
and after-supper potations. The amount usually drank on these occasions
had not been great, but the habit had for some years been so regular
that his amazed and indignant physique protested against the change.
Had he been capable of spiritually withdrawing himself from the
world on the day of the Lord, he might have found help and strength;
but he was as incapable of such a thing as were nine-tenths of the
church-members in Barton. While he remained at home, his children were
noisy enough to have hurried a rapt seer back to the realization of
earthly things; when he went abroad he could not, as was his usual
Sunday habit, step quietly into the back door of Bayne’s liquor-store.
He strolled down to the stable-yard of the Barton House, hoping to
find some one with whom he could talk horse; but the hostler was not
in sight, and the stable-boy, who had been heard to say he “didn’t
count much on them fellers what signed the pledge and went back on
their friends,” eyed him with evident disgust. In the street he met
people going to and from church and Sunday-school, and they looked at
him as if their eyes were asking, “Are you keeping your pledge?” Then,
to crown all, his wife gave him such a beseeching and yet doubting look
every time he left the house and returned to it that he almost hated
the good woman for her affectionate anxiety.

Tom was up bright and early Monday morning, and though he soon mounted
his wagon and left his wife’s eyes behind him, he found his longing for
liquor as close to him as ever. Reaching the brick-yard, he was rather
startled to find there Deacon Jones, his employer, and owner of a store
as well as the kilns. The deacon looked at him as all the religious
people had done on Sunday, and Tom inwardly cursed him.

“How are you, Tom?” inquired the deacon, and then, without waiting for
a reply, remarked:

“There’s somethin’ I’ve been a-wantin’ to talk to you ’bout, Tom, an’
I was sure o’ catchin’ you here, so I came over before breakfast. You
signed the pledge t’other night.”

This latter clause was delivered with an accompanying glance which
caused Tom to put a great deal of anger into his reply, although his
words were few.

“Yes, an’ kep’ it, too.”

“I’m glad of it, Tom. There’s been times when you didn’t, you know.
Well, what I want to say is this: Some folks say that some men drink
because they have to work too hard, an’ because they have trouble.
Now, mebbe--I only say mebbe, mind--_mebbe_ that’s what upset you
those other times. Now, if I was to give you work all the year round
at seventy-five cents a day, an’ not work you more’n ten hours a day,
would it help you to keep straight?”

“Would it?” said Tom, scratching his head, wrinkling his brows, and
eying the deacon incredulously “Why, of course it would.”

“Well, then,” said the deacon, “I’ll do it. As long as the brick
business is good you can work at haulin’ from seven to twelve, an’
one to six. Don’t you s’pose you could put two or three hundred more
brick on a load without hurtin’ the hosses? I don’t want to lose any
more’n I can help, you know, by cuttin’ down your time. Rainy days I’ll
keep you busy at the store some way; them’s the days farmers can’t do
much on the farm, so they bring their butter and eggs to town, and
there’s a sight of measurin’ an’ weighin’ to be done. An’ after the
brick season’s over I’ll find you somethin’ to do at the store. You can
put the pork-house an’ warehouse to rights before the packin’ season
begins, an’ you can weigh the corn an’ wheat an’ oats an’ pork when
they come in, and mend bags, and work in the pork-house three months
out of the six. You wouldn’t object to takin’ night-spells in the
pork-house instead of day-spells, would you, when we have to work day
_and_ night? Night-wages costs us most, you know, an’ you ought to help
us make up what we lose on you when there’s nothin’ doin’.”

“Just as _you_ say,” replied Tom. He did not clasp the deacon in a
grateful embrace, for the deacon had, in his thrifty way, prevented
Tom from feeling especially grateful. The owner of the brick-yard had
intimated that the new arrangement was for Tom’s especial benefit, but
his later remarks caused this feature of the arrangement to speedily
disappear from view. But, although not doubting for an instant that
the deacon meant to get his money back with usury, Tom felt his heart
growing lighter every moment. At the same time he felt angry at the
deacon’s occasional suggestions that the arrangements were partly of
the nature of charity. So he replied:

“Just as _you_ say; but, deacon, I ain’t the feller that wants money
for work I don’t do, _you_ know that. The arrangement suits me
first-rate, but I’m goin’ to work hard for my money; you can bet all
your loose change on _that_.”

“Thomas!” ejaculated the deacon sternly, “I am not in the habit of
betting. It’s a careless, foolish, wasteful, sinful way of using money.”

“That’s so,” replied Tom reflectively; “unless,” he continued, “you’re
one of the winnin’ kind.”

“It is a business I don’t intend to go into, so the less said of it the
better. So my offer suits you, does it?”

“I’ll shake hands on it,” replied Tom, extending his hand.

“Wait a moment,” said the deacon, retiring his own right hand to a
conservative position behind his back. “If it suits you,” continued
the deacon impressively, “you agree to stick to your pledge; no foolin’
with whisky again, mind.”

“Nary drop,” said Tom, with great emphasis. “Ten minutes ago I wouldn’t
have given a pewter dime for my chance of sticking it out through the
day, but now I wouldn’t give a cent for a barr’l full of ten-year-old
rye.”

“All right, then--shake hands. And we begin to-day--or say
to-morrow--there’s lots of bricks wanted to-day--here’s the orders. And
may the Lord help you, Thomas--help you to hold out steadfast unto the
end. Now I reckon I’ll get home to breakfast.”

As the deacon walked off he soliloquized in this manner:

“There! I wonder if that’ll suit Crupp an’ Brother Wedgewell? What a
queer team them two fellows make! Queer that Crupp should have bothered
me two hours Saturday night, an’ the preacher should have come out
so strong about bein’ our brothers’ keepers the very next day. ’Twas
a Christian act for me to do, too. ‘He that converteth a sinner from
the error of his ways’--ah! blessed be the promises. An’ I won’t lose
a cent by the operation--_I_ can keep him busy enough. When folks
know what I’ve done an’ what I done it for, I guess they’ll think
I’ve got my good streaks after all. I declare, I ought to have told
him I couldn’t pay for days when he was sick; ’tain’t too late yet,
though--he won’t back out on _that_ account. Mebbe I can talk him into
j’ining the church, too--who knows, an’ some day in ’xperience meetin’
mebbe he’ll tell how it all came about through me. He must bring his
dinners with him when he’s workin’ about the store. I ought to have
done that with my clerk before he took to lunchin’ off the crackers and
cheese busy days--these little things all cost. But it _does_ make a
man feel good to do kindnesses to his fellow-men.”

As for Tom Adams, he mounted the wagon, seized the reins, and exclaimed,

“By thunder! ’fore I haul a durned brick, I’ll just drive home by the
back way and tell the old woman. Reckon she won’t look at me any more
in _that_ way then. Like enough he’s right when he says _some_ says
mebbe workin’ too hard makes fellows drink. It never got into _my_ head
before, though.”

As Tom drove through a back street in which Mr. Crupp lived, that
worthy stared at the empty wagon inquiringly.

“The old man’s engaged me for a year, at six bits a day, and only ten
hours a day to work,” shouted Tom in explanation.

“The devil!” replied the new reformer, and seizing his hat he hurried
off to the Rev. Jonas Wedgewell. The pastor was discovered through an
open window at his matutinal repast, and the eager Crupp thrust his
head in the window and shouted,

“First blood, parson! Old Jones has hired Tom for a year, and he’s only
got ten hours a day to work.”

The holy man raised his hands, despite the incumbrances of half a
biscuit and a coffee cup, and exclaimed,

“Bless the Lord for the first fruits of the seed so newly sown. Who
would have thought so undemonstrative a man would have been the first
to heed the word of exhortation?”

“He’s the first to see money in it--that’s why,” explained Crupp.

“My dear sir, do you really ascribe Deacon Jones’s meritorious action
to sordid motives?” asked the old pastor, opening his mouth and eyes as
if the answer for which he waited was to come through them.

“Hum--well, no--I reckon ’twas a little mixed,” replied Mr. Crupp,
meditatively analyzing a blossom of a honeysuckle growing by the
pastor’s window. “I dinged at him, you preached at him, he thought it
over, and whatever Jonathan Jones thinks over long is pretty sure to
have money in it somewhere in the end. He’ll make mor’n he’ll lose on
Tom, an’ it’s best he should--he’ll have a better heart to try another
experiment of the same sort one of these days. But I didn’t mean to
interrupt your breakfast--beg your pardon, Mrs. Wedgewell and young
ladies, for not ringing the bell, but I was too full of the news to
behave myself. Good by.”

And Mr. Crupp started for his own breakfast-table, while the Reverend
Jonas’s eyes seemed directed at some object just out of sight, as he
abstractedly raised his coffee cup to his lips.



CHAPTER V.

AN ASTONISHED VIRGINIAN.


Why old Bunley had made Barton his place of residence nobody knew.
The most plausible theory ever advanced on the subject came from the
former proprietor of the Barton House, who said that Bunley, happening
to be traveling that way, had found the brandy at the Barton House
so good that he hadn’t the heart to leave it. The brandy lasted so
long that old Bunley--then twenty years younger--while consuming it
became acquainted with nearly everybody in the town; and as he had
no engagements that restrained him from making himself agreeable, he
found himself well liked, and entreated to make his home at Barton.
He reported--and his report was afterward verified--that he was the
son of a Virginia planter, and was unpopular at home because he had
made a runaway match with a splendid girl, whose only fault was that
her family did not rank very high. Bunley’s father had cut his son off
with a thousand dollars, but had considerately sent the money with the
letter of dismissal; so the happy couple were leisurely spending the
money and waiting for the old gentleman to relent, as irate fathers
always do in books. But while Bunley was enjoying the hospitalities
of Barton, annoyed only by the fact that his purse was growing light,
he heard of his father’s sudden death and of the inheritance by an
unloving brother of the entire estate. Then the young bridegroom
attempted to obtain money by borrowing, for this was the only method of
money-getting he understood; but the small success which attended his
efforts did not pay for the annoyance which his soulless creditors gave
him. Then he tried gambling, and, by devoting his mind to it, succeeded
so well that no one but an occasional commercial traveler, to whom
Bunley’s ways were unknown, would play with him. Then, under the guise
of being clerk of the Barton House, he became its actual barkeeper, and
attracted so much custom away from the other liquor-sellers that the
grateful proprietor took him into partnership, and, dying a year later,
bequeathed the whole business to him. But the good brandy which had
first persuaded Bunley to stop at Barton continued its fascinations,
and the new proprietor of the Barton House, while liked by all
travelers, grew so unpopular with purveyors of flour, meat, and other
hotel necessities that the sheriff was finally called upon to settle
the differences between them by disposing of the hotel property at
auction.

After that Bunley ran to seed, to use an expression common in Barton.
How he lived during the twenty years which followed was not well
understood. His wife died, and it was understood that he married
some money the second time; but it was none the less whispered about
town that Bunley had been seen at night to borrow at woodpiles whose
owners he had not consulted. He went upon mighty sprees, and carried
the bouquet of liquor wherever he went. He started a small groggery
of his own, in which many bright boys learned to drink. He had long
since ruined the credit which he obtained on the strength of his second
wife’s property, for he never paid an account.

And yet the most aggrieved of Bunley’s creditors could not help being
soft-hearted when they saw the old man in church, as he was every
Sunday morning with his two boys. The gentleman which was in old Bunley
then showed itself in his face and manner, and it _did_ seem too bad
that any one who could look and act so much like a man should not be
trusted to the extent of a dollar’s worth of sugar or a hundred pounds
of flour. Squire Tomple had thought so one Sunday, and as the Squire
strove to keep worldly thoughts out of his mind on the Lord’s day, his
mind became filled with old Bunley--so much so, that on the following
Monday he decoyed Bunley into his store, and talked so pleasantly to
him that the old gentleman actually made the request for which the
Squire hoped. He bought rather more than the Squire had meant to sell
him on credit, but his promise of early payment was so distinct and
emphatic that the Squire’s doubt was not fairly established for many
months. This story in all its details was told by the Squire to Mr.
Crupp, after that gentleman announced to him that something should be
done for old Bunley.

“That was because you didn’t go about the job in the right way,” said
Crupp. “He’s got just enough conceit to suppose that he’s going to pay
all his bills some day, and he feels that when the time comes your
profit’ll pay for your kindness. That conceit of his is just what needs
to be taken down--it’s got to be done kindly--so that he understands
that whatever he gets comes out of pure charity and the desire to make
him comfortable, even at a loss. Now, he and his little family can live
on about a dollar a day. I’ll stand half the expense of supporting him
for three months if you’ll do the other half, and we’ll talk plain,
good-natured English to him, and let him understand he’s a pauper.
That’ll put him on his mettle. What do you say?”

The Squire looked grave at once--as grave as he had appeared when
an uninsured hogshead of sugar belonging to him had fallen from a
steamboat gang-plank into the river, and melted. The proposition seemed
to take his breath away, in fact; but in a moment or two he regained it.

“Look here, Crupp,” said he, “temperance is all very well; but I don’t
think it’s my business to stand part of the expenses of reforming
everybody, when I haven’t had anything to do with making drunkards.
With you the case is different. You say your liquors were always good;
but, like enough, that made men all the fonder of drinking the infernal
things. You’re a public-spirited citizen, but you can’t deny that
you’ve had a thousand times more to do with making drunkards than I
have. The very fact that you _are_ a decent fellow yourself has made
drinking halfway respectable in Barton. The crime’s right at your own
door, and you ought to pay for it. You----”

The Squire paused. Mr. Crupp’s face was very white and his teeth were
tightly set. Mr. Crupp _had_ been known to throw a disorderly visitor
at his bar halfway across the street; and although the Squire knew that
his own avoirdupois was too great to be treated so contemptuously, he
had no desire to feel the weight of Crupp’s fist. Besides, Crupp was a
customer who bought a great deal and paid promptly, and the Squire did
not like to offend him and lose his custom. So the Squire paused.

“Go right on,” said Mr. Crupp very quietly. “I’ll not bear any malice.
I’ve said a great many worse things to myself. Don’t hold in anything
you’ve got on your mind.”

“I’m done,” said the Squire, looking relieved and extending his hand.
“Crupp, I think a good deal of you, and I’m ashamed of myself for
boiling over as I did. But folks talk to me as if I was made of money.
I paid out a good deal on the expense of the meeting; the parson’s
been at me to help every lazy drunkard to get work; George Doughty
wants more pay or less work, so he won’t have such a hankering after
liquor; and now to be asked to help old Bunley, that’s owed me money a
long time and never paid it, that came near helping one of my boys to a
taste for liquor, that helps himself at my woodpile--it’s _too_ much,
that’s all.”

“Squire,” said Crupp, “isn’t there something in your Bible that’s not
complimentary to men who say to the needy, ‘Depart: be ye warmed and
fed,’ but don’t put their hands into their pockets to help the poor
wretches along? I tell you that a man that’s got the love of drink
fixed in every muscle in his body and every drop of his blood is worse
off than any cold and hungry man you ever saw. Such men _sometimes_
help themselves out of their trouble, and stick to cold water; but
the man that does it is more of a hero, and he’s got better stuff in
him, than any other sort of sinner that ever repents. He’s got to be
helped just like drowning men have to be, and you’ve got to take hold
of him just as you do of a drowning man, by whatever part you can get
the tightest grip on. Bunley’s pride’s the only handle you can find on
_him_, and you can’t get at _that_ except by showing that you think
enough of him to sink money in him.”

The Squire cast about in his mind for some argument in defense of his
money; but, as he found none, he acted like a good diplomatist, and
started to talk against time by uttering some promising generalizations.

“I always meant, and I still mean,” said he, “to do good with my money.
That’s what it was given me for. I’m only the Lord’s steward----”

“And right here in Barton is where the Lord put you to do it,” said
Crupp. “Here’s where you made your money; here are the people who know
you and don’t suspect you of caring any less for your money than other
folks do for theirs; here are the people you know all about; you know
their weaknesses and their good points, and every dollar you spend on
them you can watch, and see that it does its duty.”

“When I _know_ that helping a man will be sure to reform him,” began
the Squire, when again his companion interrupted him:

“Did you ever read of Christ’s letting a man suffer for fear that if
he cured him or fed him he might get sick or hungry again? If I read
straight, _he_ helped everybody that came to him, and everybody that
needed help. I suppose loafers were as thick in Judæa as they are in
Barton; why, when he healed those ten lepers there was only one of
them decent enough to come back and say “Thank you.” _I’ve_ got money
enough to take Bunley on my own shoulders for a little while, and I’m
going to spend a good deal on such fellows; but they want to see that
they’re thought something of by men who never sold whisky, who never
made anything out of them, who are enough in earnest to do something
for them that costs more than talk does. I know it isn’t easy, but it’s
got to be done--that is, if Christianity is true.”

Crupp’s last shot told. Squire Tomple was orthodox, but he was
not without reflective capacity, and many had been his twinges of
conscience at his practical rejection of undoubted deductions which he
had drawn from Christ’s teachings and example. But on this particular
occasion, as on many others, he was not defeated; he was only
temporarily demoralized. In a moment he was on the defensive again,
and suddenly raised his head and opened his lips; but, whatever his
idea was, it remained unspoken; for in the eye of Crupp, which had been
intently scrutinizing his face and through it his heart, he detected
a softness and haziness unusual in the eyes of men. The Squire, not
without a struggle, became at once shamefaced and obedient, and said
hurriedly,

“Crupp, you’re a good, square man; I’m proud to know you, and I’ll do
what you like--for old Bunley, that is.”

Great was the surprise of Bunley himself, when he answered a knock
at his door a few minutes later, to find Squire Tomple and Mr. Crupp
upon his front stoop, both of them looking and acting as if extremely
embarrassed. But old Bunley never forgot his Virginia breeding, not
even before a couple of creditors; so he invited both gentlemen to
seats on the top step, and then sat down between them.

The Squire looked appealingly at Crupp; Crupp winked encouragingly
at the Squire; the Squire coughed feebly; Crupp plucked a stem of
timothy grass, and gazed at it as if he had never seen such a thing
before; the Squire took out a pocket-knife, and began to scrape his
finger-nails, and then Crupp remarked that it was a fine day. Bunley
having cheerfully assented to this expression of opinion, there was
a moment or two of awkward silence, which was finally relieved by
Bunley, who drew from his pocket a plug of tobacco, from which he took
a bite, after first offering it to his visitors. A little more facial
pantomime went on between Tomple and Crupp, and then the Squire spoke.

“Bunley,” said he, “you don’t seem to get along very fast in the world.”

“That’s a fact,” answered Bunley with hearty emphasis. “Luck seems to
go against me, no matter how I lay myself out. There ain’t a man in
this town that wants to do the right thing any more than I do, but
somehow I don’t get the chance. I signed the pledge t’other night at
the meetin’; but how I’m goin’ to stick to it, with all the trouble I’m
in, is more than I can see through.”

“We’ve come down to help you do it,” said the Squire.

“To help you with money--not talk,” supplemented Crupp.

Bunley looked at both men quickly, from under the extreme inner edge of
his upper eyelid.

“We propose, between us, to show you that we’re in dead earnest to
help you keep the pledge,” continued the Squire. “We’re going to give
you, week after week, whatever you need to live on for the next three
months, so you won’t have any excuse for drinking to drown trouble, and
so you’ll have a chance to find something to do.”

Old Bunley sprang to his feet. “Gentlemen,” said he, “you’re--you’re
_gentlemen_. It’s the first time in my life that anybody ever cared
_that_ much for me, though. You shan’t lose anything by it, I promise
you _that_; I’ll pay you back again the first chance I get to make
anything.”

“We don’t _want_ it back,” said Crupp. “We won’t _take_ it back. We
want to _give_ it to you, out and out----”

“To show you that it’s _you_ that we’re interested in, not ourselves,”
interrupted the Squire.

Then Old Virginia came to the surface again; Bunley seemed to grow an
inch or two, and to swell several more as he replied,

“I’m not a pauper, gentlemen.”

“Certainly not,” said the Squire hastily; “but you can’t pay your debts
nor your current expenses, and Crupp and I are a little ahead in the
world, and willing to give you a hundred, say--a little at a time.”

“You’ve got a couple of boys to bring up, you know, Bunley,” suggested
Crupp.

“And they ought to go among the best people, too,” said the Squire.
“You came of a good family----”

“And their mother was a lady, too--every inch of her!” exclaimed Bunley.

“Of course she was,” said Crupp. “But, to come back to business, we
don’t want you to have any excuse to touch whisky again, and we want
you to live on us for the next three months as a personal favor. After
that, if you make any money, I s’pose the Squire’ll be glad to sell you
anything he keeps in his store; I know _I_ will, if I’m in business
then. But you mustn’t talk about paying now, ’cause it’s all nonsense.
Come up to the Squire’s store when you want anything. Good-by.”

Bunley drew himself up with great solemnity and old-time courtesy as
he shook hands with both men. When his visitors reached the friendly
angle of an old, abandoned barn, both turned hastily, gazed through
cracks between the boards, and saw the old man sitting in a meditative
attitude, with his lower jaw in both his hands.

“_Don’t_ that look good?” whispered Crupp, his face all animation.

“It does that,” replied the Squire; “there’s no dodging the question;
it _does_ look good.”



CHAPTER VI.

A COURSE NEVER SMOOTH.


On a pleasant August evening, at that particular portion of the day
in which twilight shades into night, Fred Macdonald left his father’s
house and walked toward the opposite portion of the village. From his
leisurely, elastic gait, the artistic effect of his necktie, the pose
of his hat, the rose-bud in his button-hole, and the graceful carriage
of his cane, it was very evident that Frederick’s steps did not tend
toward the fulfillment of any prosaic business engagement. It was not
so dark that he could not recognize, in occasional unlighted windows,
certain faces well known, some of them handsome, all of them pleasing;
nor was it too dark, just after Fred had bestowed a bow and a smile
upon the occupant of each of these windows, and passed on, for one to
discern, by the expressions upon most of the faces that slowly turned
and looked after the young man, that Fred need not have gone farther
in search of a cordial welcome. But he walked on until he reached the
residence of the Rev. Jonas Wedgewell. To any one not a resident of
Barton the house might have seemed a strange one to be visited by a
young man fond of liquor and the company frequently found on Western
steamboats; and the stranger’s surprise might have increased, at
finding that Fred had been so frequent a visitor that even the house
itself seemed glad to see him, and that the heavy old door seemingly
opened of its own accord, before Fred’s fingers had time to touch its
antique knocker. But had the supposititious observer possessed good
eyes, whose actual powers were temporarily increased by the stimulus of
curiosity, his bewilderment would have ended a second later; for, as
Fred stepped inside the hall, there came from behind the door a small
hand, and then a dainty ruffle, and then a muslin sleeve, and these all
took their direction toward the shoulder of Fred’s coat; while there
followed a profile which the beholder would have willingly gazed upon
longer, had it not almost instantaneously disappeared behind that side
of Fred’s face which was farthest from the door.

Could the observer’s gaze have penetrated the window shades of Parson
Wedgewell’s little parlor, he would have seen a face, not girlish
or of regular features, and yet so full of happiness that its effect
was that of absolute beauty and the innocence of youth. There were
estimable maidens in Barton who, scorning the thought that they
could be either jealous or envious, had frequently remarked to their
intimates that they could _not_ see what men found in Esther Wedgewell
to rave about, and it was well known that the mystery had never been
satisfactorily explained to such young ladies as had become the wives
of men who had been among Miss Esther’s admirers. It is even to be
doubted whether Fred Macdonald himself could have verbally elucidated
the matter; there _have_ been such cases where long and joyous
lifetimes have not sufficed in which to frame such an explanation, and
when the person most blessed has had to journey into another world in
search of adequate power of expression. Ordinarily Esther Wedgewell
was a young lady the pleasantness of whose face did not hide the fact
that its owner’s forehead was too high, the nose too short, the mouth
too large, and the complexion too pale for perfect beauty. But somehow
young men noticed first of all Miss Esther’s eyes, and these, though
neither of heavenly blue, nor violet, nor the brownness of nuts, nor
large, nor melting, but only plain gray, were so honest in themselves,
and so sympathetic for others, that no one of any character cared to
gaze from them to any other of the young woman’s features.

What Fred and Esther said to each other during the first few minutes
after their meeting, was of a nature which never shows to full
advantage in print; besides, it was in the nature of things that they
should say very little. In spite of the experience accumulated during
a hundred or more of just such meetings, it seemed necessary that a
few minutes should be consumed by Fred in assuring himself that it
was really Esther who sat in the rocking-chair in front of him; and
the same time was used by the lady in determining that the handsome,
intelligent face in front of her was that of the only lover she had
ever accepted. Gradually, however, the sentences spoken by the couple
became longer and more frequent; their subjects were ordinary enough;
being the mutual acquaintances they had met during the day; the
additions which had been made to the embroidery on the pair of slippers
which Esther, after the manner of most other betrothed maidens in
America, had begun to make for her lover; the quality of the singing
in church on the preceding Sunday; the latest news from Captain Hall’s
expedition to the North Pole; the character of Shakespeare’s Portia;
and yet one would have supposed, from the countenances of both of these
young people, that in each of these topics there was some underlying
motive of the most delightful import; while their remarks seemed
to indicate that there was but one side to either of the subjects
discussed, and that both Fred and Esther saw it with the extreme
clearness of earthly comprehension.

Then, in a lull in the conversation, Fred asked, with a courtesy and
minuteness inherited from aristocratic parents, about Mr. and Mrs.
Wedgewell, and elicited the information that Esther’s father was
composing a second sermon on intemperance.

“Your father undoubtedly is himself the best judge of the needs of his
congregation,” said Fred, dropping his eyes a little and playing with
a bit of paper; “but I can’t help feeling that he is wasting his fine
talents in preaching on intemperance. If his sermons could be heard and
applied by the proper persons, they might do a great deal of good; but
what drunkard goes to church? Only moderate drinkers and people who
don’t drink at all ever hear your father’s sermons, and none of them
have any need for such instructions.”

Esther brushed an imaginary thread or mote from her dress, and said,
with some embarrassment,

“Father believes that the moderate drinkers are those who most need to
be warned.”

“Why, Ettie!” exclaimed Fred, “how can he believe that? He must know
that I occasionally--that is, he knows that I am not one of the Sons of
Temperance; yet he gave me you”--here conversation ceased a moment as
Fred stepped toward Esther, conveying unto that lady an affectionate
testimonial whose exact nature will be understood--“and he certainly
would not have done so had he supposed I was in any danger of being
injured by liquor.”

Esther did not wait even until she had finished rearranging a
disordered tress or two to reply.

“He said ‘yes,’ only after I told him of your promise to me that you
would not drink any more after we were married. He said you were the
best born and best bred young man he had ever met--as if I didn’t
already know it, you dear boy--but that he would rather bury me than
let me marry a drinking man.”

During the delivery of this short speech Fred looked by turns
astonished, sober, flattered, sullen, indignant, and finally
business-like and judicial. Then he said:

“Darling, you must let me believe that your father is not fully posted
about men who take an occasional glass. It’s no fault of his; he
probably never tasted a drop of liquor in his life--he may never have
felt the need of it. But believe me when I tell you that many of the
smartest men drink sometimes, and are greatly helped by it. A business
man whose daily life can’t help being often irregular, sometimes finds
he can’t get along without something to help him through the day. Why,
a few days ago I helped Sam Crayme, captain of the “Excellence,” you
know, at a difficult bit of business; I worked thirty-six hours on a
stretch, and made fifty dollars by it. That’s more money than any of
your young temperance men of Barton ever make in a month, but I never
could have done it if it hadn’t been for an occasional drink.”

“But,” said Esther, “you know I don’t say it by way of complaint, Fred
dear, but for a week after that you felt dull and didn’t say much, and
didn’t care to read, and one evening when I expected you you didn’t
come.”

“But think how tired a man must be after such a job, Ettie,” pleaded
Fred in an injured tone.

“You poor old fellow, I know it,” said Esther; “but you wouldn’t have
been so if you hadn’t done the work, and you yourself say you couldn’t
have done the work if you hadn’t drunk the liquor, and you know you
didn’t need the money so badly as to have had to do so much. Any
merchant in the town would be glad to give you employment at which you
would be your own natural self.”

“And I would always be a poor man if I worked for our plodding,
small-paying merchants,” said Fred. “Why, Ettie, who own the handsomest
houses in town, who have the best horses, who set the best tables,
whose wives and children wear the best clothes? Why, Moshier and Brown
and Crayme and Wainright, every one of them moderate drinkers; I never
in my life saw one of them drunk.”

“And I would rather be dead than be the wife of any one of them,”
said Esther with an energy which startled Fred. “Mrs. Moshier used to
be such a happy-looking woman, and now she is so quiet and has such
sad eyes. Brown seems to spend no end of money on his family; but his
children are always put to bed before he comes home, because he is as
likely as not to be cross and unkind to them; when they meet him on
the street they never shout ‘Papa!’ and rush up to him as your little
brothers and sisters do to _your_ father; but they look at him first
with an anxious look that’s enough to break one’s heart, and as likely
as not cross the street to avoid meeting him. Mrs. Crayme was having
_such_ a pleasant time at Nellie Wainright’s party the other night,
when her husband, who she seldom enough has a chance to take into
society with her, said such silly things and stared around with such
an odd look in his eye that she made some excuse to take him home. And
Nellie Wainright--she was my particular friend before she was married,
you know--was here a few days ago, and I was telling her how happy I
was, when suddenly she threw both arms around my neck and burst out
crying, and told me that she hoped that my husband would never drink
after I was married. She insists upon it that her husband is the best
man that ever lived, and that if she only mentions anything she would
like, she has it at once if money can buy it, and yet she is unhappy.
She says there’s always a load on her heart, and though she feels real
wicked about it, she can’t get rid of it.”

Fred Macdonald was unable for some moments to reply to this unexpected
speech; he arose from his chair, and walked slowly up and down the
room, with his hands behind him, and with the countenance natural to
a man who has heard something of which he had previously possessed no
idea. Esther looked at him, first furtively, then tenderly; then she
sprang to his side and leaned upon his shoulder, saying,

“Dear Fred, I know _you_ could never be that way; but then all these
women were sure they knew just the same about their lovers, before they
were married.”

“Well, Ettie,” said Fred, passing an arm about the young lady, “I
really don’t know what’s to be done about it, if drinking moderately is
the cause of all these dreadful things; I’m bound to _be_ somebody; I’m
in the set of men that make money; they like me, and I understand them.
But they all take something, and you don’t know how they look at a man
who refuses to drink with them; all of them think he don’t amount to
much, and some of them actually feel insulted. What is a fellow to do?”

“Go into some other set, I suppose,” said Esther very soberly.

“You don’t know what you’re saying, my dear girl,” said Fred. “What
else is there for a man to do in a dead-and-alive place like Barton?
you don’t want to be the wife of a four-hundred-dollar clerk, and live
in part of a common little house, do you?”

“Yes,” said Esther, showing her lover a rapturous face whose
attractiveness was not marred by a suspicion of shyness. “I do, if Fred
Macdonald is to be my husband.”

“Then if either of us should have a long illness, or if I should lose
my position, we would have to depend on your parents and mine,” said
Fred.

“Let us wait, then,” said Esther, “until you can have saved something,
before we are married.”

“And be like Charley Merrick and Kate Armstrong, who’ve been engaged
for ten years, and are growing old and doleful about it.”

“_I’ll_ never grow old and doleful while waiting for _my_ lover to
succeed,” said Esther, in a tone which might have carried conviction
with it had Fred been entirely in a listening humor. But as Fred
imagined himself in the position of the many unsuccessful young men
in Barton, and of the anxious-looking husbands who had once been as
spirited as himself, he fell into a frame of mind which was anything
but receptive. In his day-dreams marriage had seemed made up of many
things beside the perpetual companionship of Esther: it had among its
very desirable components a handsome, well-furnished house, a carriage
of the most approved style, an elegant wardrobe for Esther, and one
of faultless style for himself, a prominent pew in church, and, not
least of all, a sideboard which should be better stocked than that of
any of his friends. To banish these from his mind for a moment, and
imagine himself living in two or three rooms; cheapening meat at the
butcher’s; never driving out but when he could borrow somebody’s horse
and antiquated buggy; wearing a suit of clothes for two or three years
in succession, while Esther should spend hours in making over and over
the dresses of her unmarried days; all this made him almost deaf to
Esther’s loyal words, and nearly oblivious to the fact that the wisest
and sweetest girl in Barton was resting within his arm. Suddenly he
aroused himself from his revery, and exclaimed, in a tone which Esther
did not at first recognize as his own,

“Ettie, your ideas are honest and lofty, but you must admit that
I know best about matters of business. I can’t deliberately throw
away everything I have done, and form entirely different business
connections. I’ve always regretted my promise to stop drinking after
our marriage; but I’ve trusted that you, with your unusual sense, would
see the propriety of absolving me from it.”

Esther shrank away from Fred, and hid her face in her hands, whispering
hoarsely,

“I can’t. I can’t, and I never will.”

She dropped into a chair and burst into tears. Fred’s momentary
expression of anger softened into sorrow, but his business instinct did
not desert him. “Ettie,” said he tenderly, “I thought you trusted me.”

“You _know_ I do, Fred,” said the weeping girl; “but my lover and
the Fred who drinks are two different persons, and I _can’t_ trust
the latter. Don’t think me selfish: be always your natural self, and
there’s no poverty or sorrow that I won’t endure to be always with you.
Do you think I hope to marry you for the sake of living in luxury, or
that any pleasures that money will buy will satisfy me any more than
they do Nellie Wainright and Mr. Moshier’s wife? Or do you, professing
to love me, ask me to run even the slightest risk of ever being as
unhappy as the poor women we have been talking about are with their
husbands, who love them dearly? You _must_ keep that promise, or I must
love you apart from you--until you marry some one else! Even then I
could only stop, it seems to me, by stopping to live.”

Fred’s face, while Esther was speaking, was anything but comely to
look upon, but his intended reply was prevented by a violent knock at
the door. Esther hurriedly dried her eyes, and prepared to vanish, if
necessary, while Fred regained in haste his ordinary countenance; then,
as the servant opened the door, the lovers heard a voice saying,

“Is Fred Macdonald here? He must come down to George Doughty’s right
away. George is dying!”

Fred gave Ettie a hasty kiss and a conciliatory caress, after which he
left the house at a lively run.



CHAPTER VII.

SOME NATURAL RESULTS.


George Doughty lay propped up in bed; standing beside him, and
clasping his hand tightly, was his wife; near him were his two oldest
children, seemingly as ignorant of what was transpiring as they were
uncomfortable on account of the peculiar influence which pervaded the
room. On the other side of the bed, and holding one of the dying man’s
hands, knelt Parson Wedgewell; beside him stood the doctor; while
behind them both, near the door, and as nearly invisible as a man of
his size could be, was Squire Tomple. The Squire’s face and figure
seemed embodiments of a trembling, abject apology; he occasionally
looked toward the door, as if to question that inanimate object whether
behind its broad front he, the Squire, might not be safe from his own
fears. It was very evident that the Squire’s conscience was making a
coward of him; but it was also evident, and not for the first time
in the world’s history, that cowardice is mightily influential in
holding a coward to the ground that he hates. Had any one spoken to
him, or paid him the slightest attention, the Squire would have felt
better; nothing turns cowards into soldiers so quickly as the receipt
of a volley; but no such relief seemed at all likely to reach him. The
doctor, like a true man, having done all things, could only stand,
and stand he did; Parson Wedgewell, feeling that upon his own efforts
with the Great Physician depended the sick man’s future well-being,
prayed silently and earnestly, raising his head only to search, through
his tears, the face of the patient for signs of the desired answer to
prayer. Mrs. Doughty was interested only in looking into the eyes too
soon to close forever, and the faces of the two children were more than
a man could intentionally look upon a second time. So when Doughty’s
baby, who had been creeping about the floor, suddenly beholding the
glories of the great seal which depended from the Squire’s fob-chain,
tried to climb the leg of the storekeeper’s trousers, the Squire
smiled, as a saint in extremity might smile at the sudden appearance
of an angel, and he stooped--no easy operation for a man of Squire
Tomple’s bulk--and, lifting the little fellow in his arms, put kisses
all over the tiny face, which, in view of the relations of cleanliness
to attractiveness, was not especially bewitching. A moment later,
however, a muffled but approaching step brought back to the Squire his
own sense of propriety, and he dropped the baby just in time to be able
to give a hand to Fred Macdonald, as that young man softly pushed open
the door. The Squire’s face again became apologetic.

“How did it happen?” whispered Fred.

“Why,” replied the Squire, “the doctor says it’s a galloping
consumption; _I_ never knew a thing about it. Doctor says it’s the
quickest case he ever knew; he never imagined anything was the matter
with George. If _I’d_ known anything about it, I’d have had the doctor
attending him long ago; but George isn’t of the complaining kind. The
idea of a fellow being at work for me, and dying right straight along.
Why, it’s awful! He says he never knew anything about it himself, so I
don’t see how _I_ could. He was at the store up to four or five days
ago, then his wife came around one morning and told me that he didn’t
feel fit to work that day, but she didn’t say what the matter was.
I’ve been thinking, for two or three weeks, about giving him some help
in the store; but you know how business drives everything out of a
man’s head. First I thought I’d stay around the store myself evenings,
and let George rest; but I’ve had to go to lodge meetings and prayer
meetings, and my wife’s wanted me to go out with her, and so my time’s
been taken up. Then I thought I’d get a boy, and--well, I didn’t know
exactly which to do; but if I’d known----”

“But can’t something be done to brace him up for a day or two?”
interrupted Fred; “then I’ll take him out driving every day, and
perhaps he’ll pick up.”

The Squire looked twenty years older for a moment or two as he replied,

“The doctor says he hasn’t any physique to rally upon; he’s all gone,
muscle, blood, and everything. It’s the queerest thing I ever knew; he
hasn’t had anything to do, these past few years, but just what _I_ did
when I was a young man.”

The dying man turned his eyes inquiringly, and asked in a very thin
voice,

“Isn’t Fred here?”

Fred started from the Squire’s side, but the storekeeper arrested
his progress with both hands, and fixing his eyes on Fred’s necktie,
whispered,

“You don’t think _I’m_ to blame, do you?”

“Why--no--I don’t see how, exactly,” said Fred, endeavoring to escape.

“Fred,” whispered the Squire, tightening his hold on the lapels of
Fred’s coat, “tell _him_ so, won’t you? I’ll be your best friend
forever if you will; it’s dreadful to think of a man going up to God
with such an idea on his mind, even if it _is_ a mistake. Of course,
when he gets there he’ll find out he’s wrong, _if_ he is, as----”

Fred broke away from the storekeeper, and wedged himself between
the doctor and pastor. Doughty withdrew his wrist from the doctor’s
fingers, extended a thin hand, and smiled.

“Fred,” said he, “we used to be chums when we were boys. I never took
an advantage of you, did I?”

“Never,” said Fred; “and we’ll have lots of good times again, old
fellow. I’ve just bought the best spring wagon in the State, and I’ll
drive you all over the country when you get well enough.”

George’s smile became slightly grim as he replied,

“I guess Barker’s hearse is the only spring wagon I’ll ever ride in
again, my boy.”

“Nonsense, George!” exclaimed Fred heartily. “How many times have I
seen you almost dead, and then put yourself together again? Don’t
you remember the time when you gave out in the middle of the river,
and then picked yourself up, and swam the rest of the way? Don’t you
remember the time we got snowed in on Raccoon Mountain, and we both
gave up and got ready to die, and how you not only came to, but dragged
me home besides? The idea of _you_ ever dying! I wish you’d sent for me
when you first took the silly notion into your head.”

Doughty was silent for a moment; his eyes brightened a little and a
faint flush came to his cheeks; he looked fondly at his wife, and then
at his children; he tried to raise himself in his bed; but in a minute
his smile departed, his pallor returned, and he said, in the thinnest
of voices,

“It’s no use, Fred; in those days there was something in me to call
upon at a pinch; now there isn’t a thing. I haven’t any time to
spare, Fred; what I want to ask is, keep an eye on my boys, for old
acquaintance’ sake. Their mother will be almost everything to them,
but she can’t be expected to know about their ways among men. I want
somebody to care enough for them to see that they don’t make the
mistakes I’ve made.”

A sudden rustle and a heavy step was heard, and Squire Tomple
approached the bedside, exclaiming,

“_I’ll_ do that!”

“Thank you, Squire,” said George feebly; “but you’re not the right man
to do it.”

“George,” said the Squire, raising his voice, and unconsciously raising
his hand, “I’ll give them the best business chances that can be had; I
can do it, for I’m the richest man in this town.”

“You gave _me_ the best chance in town, Squire, and this is what has
come of it,” said Doughty.

The Squire precipitately fell back and against his old place by the
wall. Doughty continued,

“Fred, persuade them--tell them that I said so--that a business that
makes them drink to keep up, isn’t business at all--it’s suicide. Tell
them that their father, who was never drunk in his life, got whisky to
help him use more of himself, until there wasn’t anything left to use.
Tell them that drinking for strength means discounting the future, and
that discounting the future always means getting ready for bankruptcy.”

“I’ll do it, old fellow,” said Fred, who had been growing very solemn
of visage.

“They shan’t ask you for any money, Fred, explained Doughty, when the
Squire’s voice was again heard saying,

“And they shan’t refuse it from me.”

“Thank you, Squire,” said George. “I do think you owe it to them, but I
guess they’ve good enough stuff in them to refuse it.”

“George,” said the Squire, again approaching the bedside, “I’m going to
continue your salary to your wife until your boys grow big enough to
help her. You know I’ve got plenty of money--’twon’t hurt me; for God’s
sake make her promise to take it.”

“She won’t need it,” said Doughty. “My life’s insured.”

“Then what _can_ I do for her--for them--for you?” asked the Squire.
“George, you’re holding your--sickness--against me, and I want to make
it right. I can’t say I believe I’ve done wrong by you, but you think I
have, and that’s enough to make me want to restore good feeling between
us before--in case anything should happen. Anything that money _can_
do, it _shall_ do.”

“Offer it to God Almighty, Squire, and buy my life back again,” said
Doughty. “If you can’t do that, your money isn’t good for anything in
this house.”

The doctor whispered to his patient that he must not exert himself so
much; the Squire whispered to the doctor to know what else a man in his
own position could do?

Fred Macdonald could think of no appropriate expression with which to
break the silence that threatened. Suddenly Parson Wedgewell raised his
head, and said,

“My dear young friend, this is a solemn moment. There are others who
know and esteem you, beside those here present; have you no message to
leave for them? Thousands of people rightly regard you as a young man
of high character, and your influence for good may be powerful among
them. I should esteem it an especial privilege to announce, in my
official capacity, such testimony as you may be moved to make, and as
your pastor, I feel like claiming this mournful pleasure as a right.
What may I say?”

“Say,” replied the sick man, with an earnestness which was almost
terrible in its intensity; “say that whisky was the best business
friend I ever found, and that when it began to abuse me, no one
thought enough of me to step in between us. And tell them that this
story is as true as it is ugly.”

As Doughty spoke, he had raised himself upon one elbow; as he uttered
his last word, he dropped upon his pillow, and passed into a land to
which no one but his wife manifested any willingness to follow him.



CHAPTER VIII.

AN ESTIMABLE ORGANIZATION CRITICISED.


The funeral services of George Doughty were as largely attended
as the great temperance meeting had been, and the attendants
admitted--although the admission was not, logically, of particular
force--that they received the worth of their money. The pall-bearers,
twelve in number, were all young men who had been in the habit of
drinking, but who had signed the pledge, some of them having appended
signatures to special pledges privately prepared on the evening before
the service. The funeral anthem was as doleful as the most sincere
mourner could have wished, the music having been composed especially
for the occasion by the chorister of Mr. Wedgewell’s church. As for the
sermon, it was universally voted the most powerful effort that Parson
Wedgewell had ever made. Day and night had the good man striven with
Doughty’s parting injunction, determined to transmit the exact spirit
of it, but horrified at its verbal form. At last he honestly made
George’s own words the basis of his whole sermon; his method being,
first, to show what would have been naturally the last words of a young
man of good birth and Christian breeding, and then presenting George’s
moral legacy by way of contrast. To point the moral without offending
Squire Tomple’s pride, and without inflicting useless pain upon the
Squire’s sufficiently wounded heart, was no easy task; but the parson
was not lacking in tact and tenderness, so he succeeded in making of
his sermon an appeal so powerful and all-applicable that none of the
hearers found themselves at liberty to search out those to whom the
sermon might seem personally addressed.

Among the hearers was Mr. Crupp, and no one seemed more deeply
interested and affected. He followed the funeral cortege to the
cemetery; but, arrived there, he halted at the gate, instead of
following the example of the multitude by crowding as closely as
possible to the grave. The final services were no sooner concluded,
however, than the object of Mr. Crupp’s unusual conduct became apparent
to one person after another, the disclosure being made to people in the
order of their earthly possessions. The parson was shocked at learning
that Mr. Crupp was importuning every man of means to take stock in a
woolen mill, to be established at Barton; but a whispered word or two
from Crupp caused the parson to abate his displeasure, and finally to
stand near Crupp’s side and express his own hearty approbation of the
enterprise proposed. Then Mr. Crupp whispered a few words to Squire
Tomple, and the Squire subscribed a hundred shares at ten dollars
each, information of which act was disseminated among business men and
well-to-do farmers by Parson Wedgewell with an alacrity which, had
modern business ideas prevailed at Barton, would have laid the parson
open to a suspicion of having accepted a few shares, to be paid for
by his own influence. Then Deacon Jones subscribed twenty shares, and
Judge Macdonald, Fred’s father, promised to take fifty; Crupp’s name
already stood at the head of the list for a hundred. No stock-company
had ever been organized at Barton before, and the citizens had always
manifested a laudable reluctance to allow other people to handle their
money; but this case seemed an exception to all others; confidence in
the enterprise was so powerfully expressed, alike by the mercantile
community, the bar, the church, and the unregenerate (the last-named
class being represented by the ex-vender of liquors), that people who
had any money made haste to participate in what seemed to them a race
for wealth with the odds in everybody’s favor. Crupp neglected no one;
he scorned no subscription on account of its smallness; before he left
the cemetery gate nearly half the requisite capital had been pledged,
and before he slept that night he found it necessary to accept rather
more than the twenty thousand dollars which, it had been decided two
days before, would be needed. Several days later a board of directors
was elected; two or three of the directors informally offered the
superintendency of the mill to Fred Macdonald, on condition that he
would pledge himself to abstain from the use of intoxicating beverage
while he held the position, and then Fred was elected superintendent in
regular form and by unanimous vote of the board of directors.

Great was the excitement in Barton and the tributary country when
it was announced that the mill needed no more money, and that,
consequently, no more stock would be issued. In that mysterious way in
which such things always happen, the secret escaped, and encountered
every one, that his new position would prevent Fred Macdonald from
drinking; non-stockholders had then the additional grievance that they
had been deprived of taking any part in an enterprise for the good of
a fellow-man, and all because the rich men of the village saw money in
it. None of these injured ones dared to express their minds on this
subject to Squire Tomple, to whom so many of them owed money, or to
Judge Macdonald, who, in his family pride, would have laid himself
liable to action by the grand jury, had any one suggested that his
oldest son had ever been in any danger of becoming a drunkard. But
to Mr. Crupp they did not hesitate to speak freely; Crupp owned no
mortgages, no total abstainers owed him money; besides, he not only
was not a church member, but he had been in that most infernal of all
callings, rum-selling. So it came to pass that when one day Crupp
went into Deacon Jones’s store for a dollar’s worth of sugar, and was
awaiting his turn among a large crowd of customers, Father Baguss
constituted himself spokesman for the aggrieved faction, and said,

“It ’pears to me, Mr. Crupp, as if reformin’ was a payin’ business.”

Crupp being human, was not saintly, so he flushed angrily, and replied,

“It _ought_ to be, if the religion you’re so fond of is worth a row of
pins; but I don’t know what you’re driving at.”

“Oh! of course you don’t know,” said Father Baguss; “but everybody else
does. You don’t expect to make any money out of that woolen mill, do
you?”

“Yes I do, too,” answered Crupp quickly. “I’ll make every cent I can
out of it.”

“Just so,” said Father Baguss, consoling himself with a bite of
tobacco; “an’ them that’s borne the burden and heat of the day can plod
along and not make a cent ’xcept by the hardest knocks. I’ve been one
of the Sons of Temperance ever since I was converted, an’ that’s nigh
onto forty year; I don’t see why I don’t get _my_ sheer of the good
things of this world.”

“If you mean,” said Crupp, with incomparable deliberation, “that my
taking stock in the mill is a reward to me for dropping the liquor
business, you’re mightily mistaken. I’d have taken it all the same if
anybody had put me up to it when I was in the liquor business.”

“Yes,” sighed Father Baguss, “like enough you would; as the Bible says,
‘The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the
children of light.’ I can’t help a-gettin’ mad, though, to think it has
to be so.”

Two or three unsuccessful farmers lounging about the stove sighed
sympathetically, but Crupp indulged in a sarcastic smile, and remarked,

“_I_ always supposed it was because the children of light had got their
treasure laid up in heaven, and were above such worldly notions.”

The late sympathizers of Father Baguss saw the joke, and laughed with
unkind energy, upon which the good old man straightened himself and
exclaimed,

“The children of the kingdom have to earn their daily bread, I reckon;
manna don’t fall nowadays like it used to do for the chosen people.”

“Exactly,” said Crupp, “and them that ain’t chosen people don’t pick
up their dinners without working for them either, without getting into
jail for it. But, say! I didn’t come in here to make fun of you, Father
Baguss. If you want some of that mill stock so bad, I’ll sell you some
of mine--that is, if you’ll go into temperance with all your might.”

The old man seemed struck dumb for a moment but when he found his
tongue, he made that useful member make up for lost time. “Go into
temperance!” he shouted. “Did anybody ever hear the like of that?
I that’s been a “Son” more’n half my life; that’s spent a hundred
dollars--yes, more--in yearly dues; that’s been to every temperance
meetin’ that’s ever been held in town, even when I’ve had rheumatiz so
bad I could hardly crawl; that kept the pledge even when I was out in
the Black Hawk War, where the doctors themselves said that I _ort_ to
have drank; that’s plead with drinkers, and been scoffed an’ reviled
like my blessed Master for my pains; that’s voted for the Maine Liquor
Law; that’s been dead agin lettin’ Miles Dalling into the church
because he brews beer for his own family drinkin’, though he’s a good
enough man every other way, as fur as I can see; I that went to see
every member of our church, an’ begged an’ implored ’em not to sell our
old meetin’-house to the feller that’s since turned it into a groggery;
I to be told by a feller like you, that’s got the guilt of uncounted
drunkards on your soul----”

Crupp, with a very white face, advanced a step or two toward the
old man; but the participator in the Black Hawk War was not to be
frightened, especially when he was so excited as he was now; so he
roared,

“Come on! come on! perhaps you want _my_ blood on your soul, with all
the others; but just let me tell you, it isn’t easy to get!”

Crupp recovered himself and replied, “Father Baguss, all that you’ve
done is very well in its way, but it wasn’t going into temperance.
You’ve been a first-rate talker, I know, but talk isn’t cider. Why,
there’s been lots of men in my store after listenin’ to one of your
strong temperance speeches, and laughed about what they’ve heard. I’ve
told them they ought to be ashamed of themselves--don’t shake your
head--I _have_, and all they’d say would be, ‘Talk don’t cost anything,
Crupp.’ But if you’d followed up your tongue with your brains, and most
of all your pocket, not one of them chaps would have opened his head
about you.”

“Money!” exclaimed the old man; “didn’t I tell you that division
dues alone had cost me more’n a hundred dollars; not to speak of
subscriptions to public meetin’s?”

“And every cent that didn’t go to pay ‘division’ expenses, that is--for
keeping a lodge-room in shape for you to meet in, and such things--went
to pay for more talk. Did you Sons of Temperance ever _buy_ a man away
from his whisky? It _might_ have been done--done cheap too--in almost
any week since I’ve been in Barton, by helping down-hearted men along.
Did you ever do it yourself?”

Father Baguss was nonplussed for a moment, noting which a bystander,
also a Son of Temperance, came valiantly to the rescue of his order, by
exclaiming,

“Tongues was made to use, and the better the cause, the more it needs
to be talked about.”

“There’s no getting away from that,” said Crupp. “Talk’s all right
in its place; but when anybody’s sick in your family, you don’t hire
somebody to come in and talk him well, do you?”

The auxiliary replied by pressing perceptibly closer to the bale of
blankets against which he had been leaning, and Crupp was enabled to
concentrate his attention upon Father Baguss. But the old soldier had
in his military days unconsciously acquired a tactical idea or two
which were frequently applicable in real life. One of them was that of
flanking, and he straightway attempted it by exclaiming,

“I’d use money quick enough on drunkards, if I saw anybody fit to use
it on,” said he; “it would do my old soul good to find a drinking
man that I could be sure money would save. But they’re a shiftless,
worthless pack of shotes, all that I see of ’em. There _wuz_ a young
fellow--Lije Mason his name was--that I once thought seriously of doin’
somethin’ fur; but he went an’ signed the pledge, an’ got along all
right by himself.”

“But there’s your own neighbors, old Tappelmine and his family--they
all drink; what have you done for ’em?” asked Crupp.

“A lot of Kentucky poor white trash!” exclaimed Father Baguss. “What
_could_ anybody do for ’em? Besides, they do for ’emselves; they’ve
stole hams out of my smoke-house more’n once, an’ they know _I_ know
it, too.”

“Poor white trash is sometimes converted in church, isn’t it?” asked
Mr. Crupp; “and what’s to keep poor white trash from stopping drinking?
what but a good, honest, religious, rum-hating neighbor that looks at
’em so savagely and lets ’em alone so hard that they’d take pains to
get drunk, just to worry him? I know how you feel toward them; I _saw_
it once: one Sunday I passed you on the road just opposite their place;
you was in your wagon takin’ your folks to church, and I--well, I was
out trying to shoot a wild turkey, which I mightn’t have been on a
Sunday. They were all laughin’ and cuttin’ up in the house--it’s seldom
enough such folks get anything to laugh about--and I could just _see_
you groan, and your face was as black as a thunder cloud, and as savage
as an oak knot soaked in vinegar. The old man came out just then for
an armful of wood, and nodded at you pleasant enough; but that face of
yours was too much for him, and pretty soon he looked as if he’d have
liked to throw a chunk of wood at your head. I’d have _done_ it, if
I’d been him. The old man was awfully drunk when I came back that way,
two or three hours later. That was a pretty day’s work for a Son of
Temperance, wasn’t it--and Sunday, too?”

The casing to Father Baguss’s conscience was not as thick as that to
his brain, and he was silent; perhaps the prospect of getting some mill
stock aided the good work in his heart.

Crupp continued: “I’m a ‘Son’ myself, now, and I know what a man agrees
to when he joins a division. If you think you’ve lived up to it--you
and the other members of the Barton Division--I suppose you’ve a right
to your opinion; but if my ideas, picked up on both sides of the
fence, are worth anything to you, they amount to just this: the Sons
of Temperance in this town haven’t done anything but help each other
not to get back into bad ways again, and to give a welcomin’ hand to
anybody that’s strong enough in himself to come into the division with
you; and that isn’t the spirit of the order.”

Crupp got his sugar, and no one pressed him to stay longer; but, as he
slowly departed, as became a soldier who was not retreating but only
changing his base, Father Baguss followed him, touched his sleeve as
soon as he found himself outside the store door, and said,

“Say, Crupp, I’ll try to do something for Tappelmine, though I don’t
know yet what it’ll be, an’ I don’t care if you _do_ let me have about
five sheers of that mill stock; I s’pose you won’t want more than you
paid for it?”



CHAPTER IX.

SOME VOLUNTEER SHEPHERDS.


The mail-stage did not make its appearance at the usual hour on the day
following Crupp’s conversation with Father Baguss, and during a lull in
the desultory conversation which prevailed among those who were waiting
for the mail, the postmaster displayed at his window his large, round
face, devoid of its habitual jolly smile, and remarked,

“Too bad about Wainright, isn’t it?”

“What’s that?” asked half a dozen at once.

The postmaster looked infinitely more important all in a second. It
is but seldom in this world that a man can tell a bit of news to
an assembled crowd; and in an inland town, before the day of the
omnipresent telegraph pole, the chances were proportionately fewer than
elsewhere. The postmaster had a generous heart, however, and at the
risk of losing his importance he opened his treasure-house all at once:

“He’s been pretty high on whiskey for two or three days,” said he,
“and they say he’s got snakes in his boots now; anyhow, he’s made a
sudden break for Louisville; he started on foot, an hour or two ago,
for Brown’s Landing, seven miles below here, to catch a down-river
steamboat; he was clear-headed enough to find out first that it wasn’t
likely that the _Excellence_, that’s about due, wouldn’t have any
freight to stop for here. His wife’s half wild about it, but there’s
nothing the poor thing can do.”

“Poor, misguided man!” sighed Parson Wedgewell, who had arrived just
in time to hear the story. “The ways of Providence are undoubtedly
wise, but they are indeed mysterious. Judging according to our finite
capacities, it would be natural to suppose that capabilities so unusual
as those of Mr. Wainright would be divinely guided.”

“I saw him coming down the walk,” observed Squire Tomple, “and I
thought he looked rather peculiar, so I just stepped across the street;
I don’t like to get into a row with men in that fix.”

“Of course getting into a row was the only thing that could be done,”
said Crupp, who had apparently been carefully reading a posted notice
of a sheriff’s sale.

The Squire did not enjoy the tone in which Crupp’s remark was
delivered; but before he could reason with the new reformer, the
Reverend Timotheus Brown dashed into the fray in defense of a beloved
idea, which the rival pastor had seemed covertly to assail.

“The reason such natures aren’t divinely guided,” said he, in a voice
which suggested nutmeg-graters to the acute sensibilities of Parson
Wedgewell, “is that they don’t implicitly submit themselves to the
Divine will.”

“A man can do nothing unless the Spirit draw him,” said Parson
Wedgewell valiantly.

“That’s rather hard on a fellow, though, isn’t it?” soliloquized Fred
Macdonald.

“Not a bit of it,” spoke out Father Baguss, who had been scenting the
battle from an inner room. “Bless the Lord! the parables of the lost
sheep that the shepherd left the rest of the flock to look for, and the
lost coin that the woman hunted for, wasn’t told for nothin’. The Lord
knows how to ’tend to his own business.”

“And nobody else can do a thing to help the Lord along, can he?” said
Crupp, passing his arm through the postmaster’s window, and extracting
from his box a copy of the Louisville _Journal_ (then the only paper of
prominence in a large section of Western country); “all that men have
to do in such cases is just to talk.”

Crupp departed, encountering on the way the wide-open countenance of
Tom Adams, who was waiting for Deacon Jones’s mail. The two pastors
preserved silence, that of Mr. Brown being extremely dignified, with
a visible trace of acerbity, while that of Mr. Wedgewell was strongly
suggestive of mental unquiet. The distribution of the small mail, which
had arrived soon after the conversation began, gave everybody an excuse
to depart--an excuse of which most of them availed themselves at once,
Squire Tomple having first changed the direction of the conversation by
inquiring particularly of Father Baguss as to the number and probable
weight of the porkers which the old man was fattening for the winter
market. The subject lasted only until the two men reached the door,
however, and then each sympathized with the other over the wounds
received at the hands, or tongue, of the unsentimental and irreligious
Crupp. Yet the more they talked of Crupp, the less they seemed to
realize their pain.

Tom Adams went straight to his employer’s store, and exclaimed, not in
his usual ingenuous manner,

“Deacon, old Berry won’t take that load of bricks unless he gets ’em
right off; I guess I’ll take ’em right out to him. It’s a long trip,
but there’s three hours yet ’fore dark.”

“Be sure you do, then, Thomas,” said the deacon.

Tom was soon in his wagon, and going toward the brick-yard at a
livelier rate than was consistent with the proper care of horses with
a long, heavy pull before them. The bricks were loaded with apparent
regard to count, but not in good order, and, as Tom followed the road
to old Berry’s, he soliloquized:

“I ort to be able to ketch him after I deliver the bricks, but what in
thunder am I to say to him? Like enough he’ll knock me down if I don’t
look out. That’s just the notion, I _de_-clare! I can knock _him_ down,
and put him right in the wagon and bring him back; the joltin’ would
fetch him to and clear his head, like it’s done mine often enough when
I’ve been in his fix. But, hang it, what a ridick’lus goose-chase it
does look like!”

Meanwhile the Reverend Timotheus Brown had limped down the main
street, looking a little more unapproachable than usual. As he reached
the edge of the town, however, where there began the low plain which
led to the river, he quickened his pace somewhat, and he did not stop
until he reached the river. Upon a raft sat a man fishing, and near by
a canoe was tied; in this latter the preacher seated himself, having
first untied it.

“Hello, there! What are you a-doin’ with my dug-out?” shouted the
fisherman.

“The Lord hath need of it!” roared the old divine, picking up the
paddle.

“Well, I’ll be----!” exclaimed the man; “if that _ain’t_ the coolest!
The Lord’ll get a duckin’, I reckon, for that’s the _wobbliest_ canoe.
I don’t know, though; the old fellow paddles as if he were used to it.”

Away down the river went the Reverend Timotheus; at the same time Fred
Macdonald, on horseback, hailed the ferry-boat, crossed the river,
and galloped down the opposite bank, and Crupp, a half an hour later,
might have been seen lying on his oars in a skiff in a shallow a mile
above the town, waiting to board the _Excellence_, as she came down the
stream.

“’Pears to me preachers are out for a walk to-day,” said one old lady
to another across a garden fence, in one edge of the town. “I saw Mr.
Brown ’way down the street ever so far to-day, an’ now here’s Brother
Wedgewell ’way out here. I thought like enough he was goin’ to call,
but he went straight along an’ only bowed, awful solemn.”

Parson Wedgewell certainly walked very fast, and the more ground he
covered the more rapidly his feet moved, and not his feet only. In long
stretches of road shut in by forest trees he found himself devoid of a
single mental restraint, and he thought aloud as he walked.

“Rebuked by a sinner! O God! with my whole heart I have sought thee,
and thou hast instead revealed thyself not only unto babes and
sucklings, but unto one who is certainly not like unto one of these
little ones. Teach me thy will, for verily in written books I fear I
have found it not. What if the boat reaches the landing before I do,
and this lost sheep escapes me? Father in Heaven, the shepherd is
astray in his way, even as the sheep is; but O thou! who didst say that
the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, make the
feeble power of man to triumph over great engines and the hurrying of
mighty waters. Fulfill thy promise, O God, for the sake of the soul
thou hast committed to my charge!”

Then, like a man who believed in helping his own prayers along, the
parson snatched off his coat and hat and increased his speed. He was
far outside of his own parish, for most of his congregation were
townsmen, and the old pastor knew no more of the geography of the
country about him than he did of Chinese Tartary. He had taken what was
known as the “River Road,” and thus far his course had been plain; now,
however, he reached a place where the road divided, and which branch
to take he did not know. Ordinary sense of locality would have taught
him in an instant, but the parson had no such sense; there was no house
in sight at which he could ask his way, and, to add to his anxiety,
the _Excellence_ came down the river to his left and rear, puffing
and shrieking as if the making of hideous noises was the principal
qualification of a river steamer. The old man fell upon his knees,
raised his face and hands toward heaven, and exclaimed,

“The hosts of hell are pressing hard, O God! Thou who didst guide thy
chosen people with a pillar of fire, show now to thy unworthy servant
that thou art God!”

What the parson saw he never told, but he sprang to his feet and went
down the left-hand road at a lively run, a moment after Tom Adams, half
a mile in the rear, had shaded his eyes and exclaimed,

“Blamed if there isn’t a feller a-prayin’ right out in the road; if he
wants anything _that_ bad, I hope he’ll get it. Travel, Selim--_get_
up, Bill!--let’s see who he is.”



CHAPTER X.

BRINGING HOME THE SHEEP.


Speaking after the manner of the flesh, the Reverend Timotheus Brown
had found only plain sailing on the river; spiritually, he had a very
different experience. “As stubborn as a mule” was the most common
of the current estimates of Pastor Brown’s character; and if the
conscientious old preacher had ever personally heard this opinion of
himself, the verbal expression thereof would have given him but slight
annoyance, compared with that which he experienced from his own inner
man as he paddled down the stream. To forcibly resist something so
satisfied the strongest demand of his nature that neither shortening
breath nor blistering hands caused him to slacken the speed with which
he forced his paddle against the water. But another contest was going
on, and in this the consistent theologian was not so triumphant as he
liked always to be. Harry Wainright was one of the ungodly; that he
owned (and frequently occupied) a high-priced pew in Mr. Brown’s own
church was only another reason why the preacher should quote concerning
him, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck----”--what if
the conclusion of the same passage--“shall suddenly be destroyed, and
that without remedy,” should apply? What could prevent its doing so,
if Wainright had fulfilled the description in the first half? Had not
the same God inspired the whole passage? If so, what right had any
man, least of all a minister of the Gospel, to try to set at naught
the Divine will? Harry Wainright was, according to the decrees of an
unchangeable God, one of the lost--as much so as if he were already in
the bottomless pit. And still the old man’s paddle flew; once on the
trip he had felt as if the weakness of the arm of flesh would decide
the case for him, and in favor of the Word whose expounder he was;
he found himself wishing that it might, so that he could feel that
although God had overruled him, he might have comfort in the assurance
that he had not proved indifferent to his sudden emotion of yearning
for his fellow man. But that mysterious physical readjustment, known in
animals as “second breath,” came to the rescue of his fainting frame,
and then it seemed as if no watery torrent could prevail against the
force of his arm. Oh! if he might but talk to some one of the fathers
of the church; that he might be, even for ten minutes, back in his own
library! But no father of the church resided along the Reverend Brown’s
nautical course, nor was there a theological library nearer than his
own, and there he was, actually bent upon saving one whom the Eternal
pronounced lost! Lost? Hold! “For the Son of Man is come into the
world to save them that are lost.” If Christ had a right to save the
lost, had not an ambassador of Christ the same privilege? was not an
ambassador one who stood in the place--who fulfilled the duties--of an
absent king? “Glory be to God on high!” shouted the Reverend Timotheus,
and the dense woods echoed back “God on high!” as the old man, forty
years a conscientious pastor, but only that instant converted to
Christianity, drove his paddle into the water with a force that nearly
threw the canoe into the air.

As for Parson Wedgewell, whom we left arising from his knees after
asking information from his Divine guide, he found himself upon the
right road. The river was nearer than he had dared to hope; a run
of half a mile brought him into a clearing, in which stood Brown’s
warehouse, near the river. The _Excellence_ had just put her nose
against the bank, and the clerk at the warehouse was tired of wondering
why Fred Macdonald, on the opposite bank, was shouting so impatiently
to the ferryman, and why an old man in a canoe should be coming down
the river at the rate of fifty-paddle strokes per minute, when he saw
Parson Wedgewell, coatless, hatless, with open shirt, disordered hair,
and face covered with dirt deposited just after an unlucky stumble,
come flying along the road, closely followed by Tom Adams, who was
lashing his horses furiously. A happy inspiration struck the clerk; he
shouted “Horse thief!” and seized the parson, and instantly received a
blow under the chin which rendered him inactive and despondent for the
space of half an hour. The parson saw the gang-plank shoved out; he saw
Harry Wainright step aboard; he saw the Rev. Timotheus jump from his
canoe into water knee deep, dash up the plank, and throw his arm over
Harry Wainright’s shoulder; but only a second or two elapsed before
Parson Wedgewell monopolized the runaway’s other side, and then, as
the three men stared at each other, neither one speaking a word, and
the two pastors bursting into tears, Tom Adams hurried aboard, and
exclaimed,

“Mr. Wainright, Mrs. Wainright is particular anxious to see you this
evenin’, for somethin’, I don’t know what, an’ I hadn’t time to get any
sort of a carriage for fear I’d lose the boat; but there’s good springs
to the seat of the brick-yard wagon, an’ a new sheep-skin besides.” No
other words coming to Tom’s mind, he abruptly walked forward muttering,
“That’s the cock-an’-bullest yarn I ever _did_ tell; I _knew_ I
wouldn’t know what to say.” As Tom meditated, he heard one “roustabout”
say to another,

“I say, Bill, you know that feller that used to sell such bully
whiskey in Barton? Well, he’s around there on the guards, dancin’ like
a lunatic. I shouldn’t wonder if that’s what come of swearin’ off
drinkin’.”

“Mighty unsafe perceedin’,” replied Bill, eyeing Crupp suspiciously.

Harry Wainright made not the slightest objection to going back home,
and he acted very much like a man who was glad of the company in which
he found himself. The divine of the canoe looked at his blistered
hands, and paid the resuscitated clerk to send the boat back by the
first steamer. While Fred Macdonald was crossing the river, Tom Adams
kindly drove back the road and recovered Parson Wedgewell’s coat and
hat, and the parson accepted the hospitalities of the boat to the
extent of water, soap, and towel. He attempted to make his peace with
the injured clerk; but that functionary, having already interviewed
Tom Adams, insisted that no apology was necessary, and asked the old
gentleman in what church he preached.

As the party started back, they saw, coming through a cross-road,
a buggy violently driven, and containing two men--who proved to be
Squire Tomple and Father Baguss--in a vehicle belonging to the latter;
their air of having merely happened there deceived no one, least of
all Harry Wainright himself. Father Baguss did not live in town, nor
within four miles of it; but when Squire Tomple suggested that he
would beg a ride back in Tom Adams’s wagon, Father Baguss objected,
and remarked that he guessed he had business in town himself; so the
Squire retained his seat, and Father Baguss fell in behind the wagon
as decorously as if he was taking part in a funeral procession. Behind
them came Fred Macdonald, who had good excuse to gallop back to the
peculiar attraction that awaited him in Barton, but preferred to remain
in his present company. As the party approached the town, Tom Adams
considerately drove through the darkest and most unfrequented streets,
and stopped as near as possible to Wainright’s house. Wainright,
politely declining any escort, walked quietly home. Father Baguss stood
up in his buggy, with his hand to his ear, in the original position of
attention: suddenly he exclaimed,

“There! I heard his door shut: _now_, brethren.” And Father Baguss
started the doxology. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” and
the glorious harmonies of the old choral were proof even against
the tremendous but discordant notes which Tom Adams, with the most
honorable intentions, interjected in rapid succession. Then the party
broke up. The two pastors escorted each other home alternately and
several times in succession, during which apparently meaningless
proceeding they learned, each from the other, how much of good intent
had been stifled in both of them for lack of prompt application. Crupp
and Tomple talked but little, and no “Imaginary Conversation” would
be at all likely to reproduce what they said. Father Baguss made the
whole air between Barton and his own farm redolent of camp-meeting
airs, and Fred Macdonald heard in Parson Wedgewell’s parlor something
sweeter than all the music ever written. As for Tom Adams, he jogged
slowly toward his employer’s stables, repeating to himself,

“The bulliest spree I ever went on--the _very_ bulliest!”



CHAPTER XI.

DOCTORS AND BOYS.


Here were two elements of Barton society with which Mr. Crupp had not
been so successful as he had hoped; these were the doctors, and that
elastic body known as “the boys.” Individually, the physicians had
promised well at first; all of them but one were members of the Barton
Division of the Sons of Temperance, and the Division rooms afforded
the only floor upon which Dr. White, the allopathist, Dr. Perry, the
homeopathist, and Dr. Pykem, the water-cure physician, ever could meet
amicably, for they belonged to separate churches. Old Dr. Matthews,
who had retired from practice, was not a “Son,” only because he was a
conscientious opponent of secret societies; but he had signed every
public pledge ever circulated in Barton, and he had never drunk a
drop of liquor in his life. All the physicians freely admitted to Mr.
Crupp that alcohol was a never-failing cause of disease, or at least
of physical deterioration; all declared that no class of maladies
were so incurable, and so depressing to the spirits of the medical
practitioner, as those to which habitual drinkers, even those who
were never drunk, were subject; but--they really did not see what
more they, the physicians of Barton, could do than they were already
doing. Crupp discussed the matter with Parson Wedgewell, and the parson
volunteered to preach a sermon to physicians from the text, “Give
wine unto those that be of heavy hearts,” a text which had suggested
itself to him, or, rather, had been providentially suggested to him
on the occasion of his very first interview with Crupp, and which was
outlined in his mind in a manner suggestive of delightful subtleties
and a startling application. But when Crupp sounded the doctors as to
whether such a discourse would be agreeable, Dr. White said he would
be glad to listen to the eloquent divine; but he was conscientiously
opposed to appearing, even by the faintest implication, to admit that
the homeopathist was a physician at all. Dr. Perry felt his need, as a
partaker in the fall of Adam, to being preached to from any portion of
the inspired Word; but he could not sit in an audience to which such
a humbug as Pykem could be admitted in an official capacity; while
Dr. Pykem said that he would rejoice to encourage the preacher by his
presence, if he thought any amount of preaching would do any good
to a remorseless slaughterer like White, or an idiotic old potterer
like Perry. Then Mr. Crupp tried another plan: he himself organized
a meeting in which the exercises were to consist of short addresses
upon the physical bearing of intemperance, the addresses to be made
by “certain of our fellow-citizens who have had many opportunities
for special observation in this direction.” Even then Drs. White and
Perry objected to sitting on the same platform with Dr. Pykem, who had
never attended any medical school of any sort, and who would probably
say something utterly ridiculous in support of his own senseless
theories, and thus spoil the effect of the physiological facts and
deductions which Drs. Perry and White each admitted that the other
might be intellectually capable of advancing. Crupp arranged the matter
amicably, however, by having Pykem make the first address, during
which the other two physicians were to occupy back seats, where they
might, while unobserved, take notes of such of Pykem’s heresies as
they might deem it necessary to combat: he further arranged that,
immediately after Pykem had concluded, he was to be called away to a
patient, provided for the occasion. Still more--and great would have
been the disgust of White and Perry had they known of it--Crupp laid so
plainly before Pykem the necessities of the community, and the duty,
not only Christian, but of the simplest manliness, also, that men of
any intelligence owed to their fellow-men, that Pykem, who with all
his hobbies was a man of Christian belief and humane heart, confined
himself solely to the preventive efficacy of external applications
of water, not unmixed with soap, in the case of persons who felt
toward alcohol a craving which they could not logically explain; he
thus delivered an address which might, with cause, be repeated in
every community in the United States. Then Dr. Perry, whose forte was
experimental physiology, read whole tables of statistics based upon
systematic observations; and Dr. White unrolled and explained some
charts and plates of various internal organs, naturally unhandsome
in themselves, which had been injured by alcohol. It was declared by
close observers that for a few days after this meeting the demand for
sponges and toilet soap exceeded the experience of the old and single
apothecary of the village, and that liquor-sellers looked either sober
or savage, according to their respective natures.

But the boys! Crupp found himself in time really disposed to ask
Pastors Wedgewell and Brown whether there wasn’t Scriptural warrant for
the supposition that Job obtained his sons by marrying a widow with a
grown-up family. “The boys” numbered about a hundred specimens, ranging
in age from fourteen years to forty; no two were alike in disposition,
as Crupp had long known; they came from all sorts of peculiar social
conditions that warred against their physical and moral well-being;
some of them seemed wholly corrupt, and bent upon corrupting others;
many more exhibited a faculty for promising which could be matched in
magnitude only by their infirmity of performance. By a vigorous course
of individual exhortation, the burden of which was that everybody knew
they drank because they were too cowardly to refuse, and that nobody
despised them so heartily as the very men who sold them the rum,
Crupp lessened the number of drinking boys by about one-fourth, thus
rescuing those who were easiest to save and most worth saving, but the
remainder made as much trouble as the collective body had done. Crupp
scolded, pleaded, and argued; he hired some boys to drop liquor for at
least a stated time; he importuned some of the more refined citizens
to interest themselves socially in certain boys; he lent some of these
boys money with which to buy clothing which would bring their personal
appearance up to the Barton standard of respectability, and he covertly
excited some of the merchants up to a genuine interest in certain boys,
by persuading them to sell to said boys coats, boots, and hats on
credits nominally short.

He enjoyed the hearty co-operation of the village pastors, all of
whom preached sermons to young men and to parents; but his principal
practical assistance came, quite unexpectedly, from old Bunley. Bunley
had not yet succeeded in finding anything to do, and, as he had on his
hands all of his time which was not needed at the family woodpile,
he went around talking to the boys. Bunley had been, according to
the Barton classification, a “boy” himself; he had drunk in a not
remote day with any boy who invited him; he knew more jolly songs
than any other half dozen inebriates in the village, and was simply
oppressed with the load of good (bad) stories which he never tired of
telling; he had been always ready to play cards with any boy, and
had come to be regarded, among the youngsters, as “the best fellow
in the village.” Now that he had reformed, his success in reforming
boys was simply remarkable--so much so that Parson Wedgewell began to
tremble over the thought that Bunley, by the present results of the
experience of his sinful days, might demonstrate, beyond the hope of
refutation, the dreadful proposition that it was better that a man
should be a sinner in his youth, so as to know how to be a saint when
he became old. This idea Parson Wedgewell laid, with much trepidation,
before the Reverend Timotheus Brown, and the two old saints and new
friends had a delightfully doleful time on their knees over it, until
there occurred to the Reverend Timotheus Brown a principle which he
proceeded to formulate as follows: The greater the capacity of a
misguided faculty for evil, the greater the good the same faculty may
accomplish when in its normal condition. To be sure, the discovery was
not original with him; the same statement had been made by peripatetic
phrenologists at Barton; indeed, it was visible, to one who could read
rather than merely repeat words, in every chapter of the Bible so dear
to this good old man; but the illusion under which Parson Brown was
allowed to labor worked powerfully for his own good and for that of
the community, for from that time forth both he and Parson Wedgewell
displayed their greatest earnestness in work with cases apparently the
most hopeless. These they found among “the boys,” and harder work no
reformer ever laid out for himself. The ingenuity, the persistence,
the determined brutality of some of the boys, the logical acuteness
displayed in varied fits of deception, only stimulated the old man
to greater industry, and slowly, after hard work, often after work
that seemed more like hard fighting, but yet surely, Parson Brown
reformed one after another of several hard cases. The villagers,
most of whom considered that their whole duty consisted in critical
observation, applauded handsomely, and Bunley was astonished, and felt
considerably mortified at the marked success of his new rival, while
Parson Wedgewell found it necessary to pray earnestly that unchristian
jealousy might be banished from his own mind. But to Parson Brown
the greatest triumph occurred when Crupp--Crupp, the literalist,
the hard-headed, the man who trusted in the arm of flesh, the man
of action, he who slightingly received any suggestions of special
thank-offerings of prayer for special services received--Crupp came to
him by night--it reminded Parson Brown of Nicodemus--and exclaimed,
“It’s no use, Parson; I’ve done my best on Frank Pughger, but he’s a
goner if God don’t put in a special hand. I’ll turn him over to you, I
guess.”



CHAPTER XII.

TWO SIDES OF A CLOUD.


The holy hilarity which Father Baguss enjoyed on his way home, after
having assisted in bringing Harry Wainright back, did not depart with
the shades of night. The old man was out of bed at his usual hour, and
he took his spiritual songs to the barn with him, to the astonishment
of his mild-eyed cows and quick-eared horses; and when his drove of
porkers demanded their morning meal with the vocal power peculiar to
a chorus of swine, the old man defiantly jumped an occasional octave,
and made the spiritual songs dominate over the physical. He seemed
_so_ happy that his single hired man could not resist the temptation
of asking for an increase of pay; but the sobriety to which this
interruption and its consequent refusal reduced Father Baguss was of
only temporary duration, and the broken strain was resumed with renewed
energy. The ecstasy lasted into and through the old man’s matutinal
repast, and manifested itself by an occasional hum through the good
man’s nose, which did the duty ordinarily performed by a mouth which
was now busied about other things; it caused Father Baguss to read a
glorious psalm as he officiated at the family altar after breakfast; it
made itself felt half way through the set prayer which the old farmer
had delivered every morning for forty years; but it seemed suddenly to
depart as its whilom possessor uttered the petition, “May we impart to
others of the grace with which thou hast visited us so abundantly.”
For the Tappelmines had come suddenly into Father Baguss’s mind, and
as that receptacle was never particularly crowded, the Tappelmines
made themselves very much at home there. The prayer having ended, the
old man loitered about the house instead of going directly to the
“clearing,” in which he had been getting out some oak fence-rails; he
stared out of the window, walked up and down the kitchen with his hands
in his pockets, lit a pipe, relit it half a dozen times at two minute
intervals, sighed, groaned, and at length strode across the room like a
bandit coming upon the boards of a theater, seized his hat, and started
for the Tappelmine domicile.

As he plodded along over the rough road, he had two very distinct
ideas in his mind: one was, that he hadn’t the slightest notion of
what to say to Tappelmine; the other, and stronger, was, that it would
be a relief to him to discover that Tappelmine was away from home,
or even sick in bed--yes, or even drunk. But this hope was of very
short duration, for soon the old man heard the Tappelmine axe, and,
as he rounded the corner of the miserable house, he saw Tappelmine
himself--a tall, gaunt figure in faded homespun, torn straw hat, and a
tangled thicket of muddy-gray hair. The face which Tappelmine turned,
as he heard the approaching footsteps, was not one to warm the heart
of a man inspired only by an unwelcome sense of duty; it was thin,
full of vagrant wrinkles; the nose had apparently started in different
directions, and each time failed to return to its original line; the
eyes were watery and colorless, and the lips were thin and drawn into
the form of a jagged volcano crater.

“The idee of doin’ anything for such!” exclaimed Father Baguss under
his breath. “O Lord! _you_ put me up to this here job--unless it was
all Crupp’s work; now see me through!” Then he said,

“How are you, neighbor?”

“Oh! off an’ on, ’bout as usual,” said Tappelmine, with a look which
seemed to indicate that his usual condition was not one upon which he
was particularly to be felicitated.

“How’d your crop turn out?” asked Father Baguss, well knowing that
“crop” was a terribly sarcastic word to apply to the acre or two of
badly cultivated corn which Tappelmine had planted, but yet feeling a
frantic need of talking against time.

“Well, not over’n above good,” said Tappelmine, as impervious to the
innocent sarcasm as he would have been to anything but a bullet or a
glass of whiskey. “I dunno what would have ’come of us ef I hadn’t
knocked over a couple of deer last week.”

“You might have given a hint to your neighbors, if worst had come to
worst,” suggested Father Baguss, perceiving a gleam of light, but not
so delighted over it as a moment or two before he had expected to be.
“Nobody’d have stood by an’ seen you starve.”

“Glad you told me,” said Tappelmine, abruptly raising his axe, and
starting two or three large chips in quick succession.

The light seemed suddenly to be departing, and Father Baguss made a
frantic clutch at it.

“You needn’t have waited to be told,” said he. “You know well enough
we’re all human bein’s about here.”

“Well,” said Tappelmine, leaning on his axe, and taking particular
care not to look into his neighbor’s eye, “I used to borry a little
somethin’--corn, mebbe, or a piece of meat once in a while; but folks
didn’t seem over an’ above glad to lend ’em, an’ I’m one of the kind of
fellows that can take a hint, I am.”

“That was ’cause you never said a word ’bout payin’ back--leastways,
you didn’t at _our_ house.”

Tappelmine did not reply, except by looking sullen, and Father Baguss
continued:

“Besides, it’s kinder discouragin’ to lend to a feller that gets tight
a good deal--gets tight sometimes, anyhow; it’s hard enough to get paid
by folks that always keep straight.”

As Tappelmine could say nothing to controvert this proposition, he
continued to look sullen, and Father Baguss, finding the silence
insupportably annoying, said rather more than he had intended to say.
There are natures which, while containing noble qualities, are most
awkward expositors of themselves, and that of Baguss was one of this
sort. Such people are given to action which is open to criticism on
every side; yet, in spite of their awkwardnesses, they find in their
weakness the source of whatever strength they discover themselves to
be possessed of. Father Baguss was one of this special division of
humanity; but--perhaps for his own good--he was unconscious of his
strength and painfully observant of his weakness. Yet he continued as
follows:

“Look here, Tappelmine, I came over here on purpose to find out if I
could do anything to help you get into better habits. You don’t amount
to a row of pins as things are now, and I don’t like it; it’s throwed
up to me, because I’m your neighbor, and there’s folks that stick to it
that _I’m_ to blame. I don’t see how; but if there’s any cross layin’
around that fits my shoulders, I s’pose I ought to pick it up an’ pack
it along. Now, why in creation don’t you give up drinkin,’ an’ go to
church, an’ make a crop, an’ do other things like decent folks do?
You’re bigger’n I am, an’ stouter, an’ your farm’s as good as mine if
you’d only work it. Now why you don’t do it, I don’t see.”

“Don’t, eh?” snarled Tappelmine, dropping his axe, and leaning against
the house with folded hands. “Well, ’cause I hain’t got any plow, nor
any harrow, nor but one hoss, nor rails enough to keep out cattle, nor
seed-corn or wheat, nor money to buy it with, nor anything to live on
until the crop’s made, nor anything to prevent the crop when it’s made
from being grabbed by whoever I owe money to; _that’s_ why I don’t
make a crop. An’ I don’t go to church, ’cause I hain’t got any clothes
excep’ these ’uns that I’ve got on, an’ my wife’s as bad off as _I_ be.
An’ I don’t give up drinkin’, ’cause drinkin’ makes me feel good, an’
the only folks I know that care anything for me drink too. You fellers
that only drink on the sly----”

“I never touched a drop in all my life!” roared Father Baguss.

“That’s right,” said Tappelmine; “stick to it; there’s some that’ll
believe that yarn. But what I was goin’ to say was, folks that drink on
the sly know it’s comfortin’, an’ I don’t see what they go a-pokin’ up
fellers that does it fair an’ square for.”

Father Baguss groaned, and some influence--the old man in later days
laid it upon the arch-enemy of souls--suggested to him the foolishness
of having gone into so great an operation without first counting
the cost; hadn’t the great Founder of the old man’s religious faith
enjoined a counting of the cost of any enterprise before entering upon
it? Father Baguss wished _that_ chapter of Holy Writ might have met
his eye that morning at the family altar; but it had not, and, worse
yet, Tappelmine was becoming wide awake and excited. It was not what
the drunkard had said about drinking or church-going that troubled this
would-be reformer; Tappelmine’s outline of his material condition was
what annoyed Father Baguss; for, in spite of an occasional attempt to
mentally allay his fears by falling back upon prayer, the incentive
with which he had called upon Tappelmine had taken strong hold of
his conscience, and persisted in making its influence felt. Plows
and prayers, harrows and hopes, seed-corn and the seed sown by the
wayside mixed themselves inextricably in his mind, as parallels often
do when men dream, or when they are confronted by an emergency beyond
the control of their own intellects. The old man prayed silently and
earnestly for relief, and his prayer was answered in a manner not
entirely according to his liking, for he felt moved to say,

“_I’ll_ lend you seed, if you’ll go to work an’ put it right in, an’
I’ll lend you a plow and a team to break up the ground with--I mean,
I’ll hire ’em to you, an’ agree to buy your crop at rulin’ price, an’
pay you the difference in cash.”

“That sounds somethin’ like,” remarked Tappelmine, thrusting his
hands into his trowsers’ pockets, and making other preparations for a
business talk; “but,” he continued, “what am I to live on along till
harvest? ’Tain’t even winter yet.”

Father Baguss groaned, and asked, “What was you a-goin’ to live on if I
hadn’t offered seed and tools, Tappelmine?”

“The Lord knows,” answered the never-do-well, with unimpeachable
veracity.

“Then,” said the old farmer, “I guess he knows what you’ll do in
t’other case. You can work, I reckon. _I_ hain’t got much to do, but
you can do it, at whatever prices is goin’, an’ that’ll help you get
work of other folks; nobody can say I get stuck on the men I hire. So
they’re generally glad enough to hire ’em themselves.”

Tappelmine did not seem overjoyed at his prospects, but he had the
grace to say that they were better than he had expected. Father Baguss
went home, feeling but little more comfortable than when he had
started on his well-intended mission. Tappelmine sauntered into his own
cabin, wondering how much of the promised seed-corn and wheat he could
smuggle into town and trade for whiskey; but he was rather surprised to
have his wife, a short, thin, sallow, uninteresting-looking woman, who
had been listening at the broken window, approach him, throw her arms
about his neck, and exclaim,

“Now, old man, we can be respectable, can’t we? The chance has been a
long time a-comin’, but we’ve got it now.”

The surprise was too great for Tappelmine, and he spent the remainder
of the day in nursing his knee on the single hearthstone of his
mansion. He was not undisturbed, however, and as men of his mental
caliber hate persistent reason even worse than they do work, Mrs.
Tappelmine not only coaxed her lord into resolving to be respectable,
but allowed that gentleman to persuade himself that he had formed the
resolution of his own accord.



CHAPTER XIII.

A PHENOMENON IN EMBRYO.


The superintendency of the Mississippi Valley Woolen Mills was a
position which exactly suited Fred Macdonald, and it gave him occasion
for the expenditure of whatever superfluous energy he found himself
possessed of, yet it did not engross his entire attention. The faculty
which the busiest of young men have for finding time in which to
present themselves, well clothed and unbusiness-like, to at least one
young woman, is as remarkable and admirable as it is inexplicable. The
evenings which did not find Fred in Parson Wedgewell’s parlor were
few indeed, and if, when he was with Esther, he did not talk quite as
sentimentally as he had done in the earlier days of his engagement,
and if he talked business very frequently, the change did not seem
distasteful to the lady herself. For the business of which he talked
was, in the main, of a sort which loving women have for ages recognized
as the inevitable, and to which they have subjected themselves with
a unanimity which deserves the gratitude of all humanity. Fred talked
of a cottage which he might enter without first knocking at the door,
and of a partnership which should be unlimited; if he learned, in the
course of successive conversations, that even in partnerships of the
most extreme order many compromises are absolutely necessary, the
lesson was one which improved his character in the ratio in which it
abased his pride. The cottage grew as rapidly as the mill, and on
his returns from various trips for machinery there came with Fred’s
freight certain packages which prevented their owner from appearing
so completely the absorbed business man which he flattered himself
that he seemed. Then the partnership was formed one evening in Parson
Wedgewell’s own church, in the presence of a host of witnesses,
Fred appearing as self-satisfied and radiant as the gainer in such
transactions always does, while Esther’s noble face and drooping eyes
showed beyond doubt who it was that was the giver.

As the weeks succeeded each other after the wedding, however, no
acquaintance of the couple could wonder whether the gainer or the giver
was the happier. Fred improved rapidly, as the school-boy improves;
but Esther’s graces were already of mature growth, and rejoiced in
their opportunity for development. Though she could not have explained
how it happened, she could not but notice that maidens regarded her
wonderingly, wives contemplated her wistfully, frowns departed and
smiles appeared when she approached people who were usually considered
prosaic. Yet shadows sometimes stole over her face, when she looked at
certain of her old acquaintances, and the cause thereof soon took a
development which was anything but pleasing to her husband.

“Fred,” said Esther one evening, “it makes me real unhappy sometimes to
think of the good wives there are who are not as happy as I am. I think
of Mrs. Moshier and Mrs. Crayme, and the only reason that I can see is,
their husbands drink.”

“I guess you’re right, Ettie,” said Fred. “They didn’t begin their
domestic tyranny in advance, as _you_ did--bless you for it.”

“But why _don’t_ their husbands stop?” asked Esther, too deeply
interested in her subject to notice her husband’s compliment. “They
must see what they’re doing, and how cruel it all is.”

“They’re too far gone to stop; I suppose that’s the reason,” said
Fred. “It hasn’t been easy work for _me_ to keep my promise, Ettie, and
I’m a young man; Moshier and Crayme are middle-aged men, and liquor is
simply necessary to them.”

“That dreadful old Bunley wasn’t too old to reform, it seems,” said
Esther. “Fred, I believe one reason is that no one has asked them to
stop. See how good Harry Wainright has been since he found that so many
people were interested in him that day!”

“Ye----es,” drawled Fred, evidently with a suspicion of what was
coming, and trying to change the subject by suddenly burying himself in
his memorandum book. But this ruse did not succeed, for Esther crossed
the room to where Fred sat, placed her hands on his shoulders, and a
kiss on his forehead, and exclaimed,

“Fred, _you’re_ the proper person to reform those two men!”

“Oh, Ettie,” groaned Fred, “you’re entirely mistaken. Why, they’d laugh
right in my face, if they didn’t get angry and knock me down. Reformers
want to be older men, better men, men like your father, for instance,
if people are to listen to them.”

“Father says they need to be men who understand the nature of those
they are talking to,” replied Esther; “and you once told me that you
understood Moshier and Crayme perfectly.”

“But just think of what they are, Ettie,” pleaded Fred. “Moshier is a
contractor, and Crayme’s a steamboat captain; _such_ men never reform,
though they always are good fellows. Why, if I were to speak to either
of them on the subject, they’d laugh in my face, or curse me. The only
way I was able to make peace with them for stopping drinking myself was
to say that I did it to please my wife.”

“Did they accept that as sufficient excuse?” asked Esther.

“Yes,” said Fred reluctantly, and biting his lips over this slip of his
tongue.

“Then you’ve set them a good example, and I can’t believe its effect
will be lost,” said Esther.

“I sincerely hope it won’t,” said Fred, very willing to seem a reformer
at heart; “nobody would be gladder than I to see those fellows with
wives as happy as mine seems to be.”

“Then why don’t you follow it up, Fred, dear, and make sure of your
hopes being realized? You can’t imagine how much happier _I_ would be
if I could meet those dear women without feeling that I had to hide
the joy that’s so hard to keep to myself.”

The conversation continued with considerable strain to Fred’s
amiability; but his sophistry was no match for his wife’s earnestness,
and he was finally compelled to promise that he would make an appeal
to Crayme, with whom he had a business engagement, on the arrival of
Crayme’s boat, the _Excellence_.

Before the whistles of the steamer were next heard, however, Esther
learned something of the sufferings of would-be reformers, and found
cause to wonder who was to endure most that Mrs. Crayme should have a
sober husband, for Fred was alternately cross, moody, abstracted, and
inattentive, and even sullenly remarked at his breakfast-table one
morning that he shouldn’t be sorry if the _Excellence_ were to blow
up, and leave Mrs. Crayme to find her happiness in widowhood. But no
such luck befell the lady: the whistle-signals of the _Excellence_ were
again heard in the river, and the nature of Fred’s business with the
captain made it unadvisable for Fred to make an excuse for leaving the
boat unvisited.

It _did_ seem to Fred Macdonald as if everything conspired to make
his task as hard as it could possibly be. Crayme was already under the
influence of more liquor than was necessary to his well-being, and the
boat carried as passengers a couple of men, who, though professional
gamblers, Crayme found very jolly company when they were not engaged
in their business calling. Besides, Captain Crayme was running against
time with an opposition boat which had just been put upon the river,
and he appreciated the necessity of having the boat’s bar well stocked
and freely opened to whoever along the river was influential in
making or marring the reputation of steamboats. Fred finally got the
captain into his own room, however, and made a freight contract so
absent-mindedly that the sagacious captain gained an immense advantage
over him; then he acted so awkwardly, and looked so pale, that the
captain suggested chills, and prescribed brandy. Fred smiled feebly,
and replied,

“No, thank you, Sam; brandy’s at the bottom of the trouble. I”--here
Fred made a tremendous attempt to rally himself--“I want _you_ to swear
off, Sam.”

The astonishment of Captain Crayme was marked enough to be alarming
at first; then the ludicrous feature of Fred’s request struck him
so forcibly that he burst into a laugh before whose greatness Fred
trembled and shrank.

“Well, by thunder!” exclaimed the captain, when he recovered his
breath; “if that isn’t the best thing I ever heard yet! The idea of
a steamboat captain swearing off his whiskey! Say, Fred, don’t you
want me to join the church? I forgot that you’d married a preacher’s
daughter, or I wouldn’t have been so puzzled over your white face
to-day. Sam Crayme brought down to cold water! Wouldn’t the boys along
the river get up a sweet lot of names for me--the ‘Cold-water Captain,’
‘Psalm-singing Sammy’! and then, when an editor or any other visitor
came aboard, _wouldn’t_ I look the thing, hauling out glasses and a
pitcher of water! Say, Fred, does your wife let you drink tea and
coffee?”

“Sam!” exclaimed Fred, springing to his feet, “if you don’t stop
slanting at my wife, I’ll knock you down.”

“Good!” said the captain, without exhibiting any signs of trepidation.
“_Now_ you talk like yourself again. I beg your pardon, old fellow; you
know I was only joking, but it _is_ too funny. You’ll have to take a
trip or two with me again, though, and be reformed.”

“Not any,” said Fred, resuming his chair; “take your wife along, and
reform yourself.”

“Look here, now, young man,” said the captain, “_you’re_ cracking on
too much steam. Honestly, Fred, I’ve kept a sharp eye on you for two or
three months, and I am right glad you can let whiskey alone. I’ve seen
times when I wished I were in your boots; but steamboats can’t be run
without liquor, however it may be with woolen mills.”

“That’s all nonsense,” said Fred. “You get trade because you run your
boat on time, charge fair prices, and deliver your freight in good
order. Who gives you business because you drink and treat?”

The captain, being unable to recall any shipper of the class alluded to
by Fred, changed his course.

“’Tisn’t so much that,” said he; “it’s a question of reputation. How
would I feel to go ashore at Pittsburg or Louisville or Cincinnati, and
refuse to drink with anybody? Why, ’twould ruin me. It’s different with
you who don’t have to meet anybody but religious old farmers. Besides,
you’ve just been married.”

“And you’ve been married for five years,” said Fred, with a sudden
sense of help at hand. “How do you suppose _your_ wife feels?”

Captain Crayme’s jollity subsided a little, but with only a little
hesitation he replied,

“Oh! she’s used to it; she doesn’t mind it.”

“You’re the only person in town that thinks so, Sam,” said Fred.

Captain Crayme got up and paced his little state-room two or three
times, with a face full of uncertainty. At last he replied,

“Well, between old friends, Fred, I don’t think so very strongly
myself. Hang it! I wish I’d been brought up a preacher, or something of
the kind, so I wouldn’t have had business ruining my chances of being
the right sort of a family man. Emily _don’t_ like my drinking, and
I’ve promised to look up some other business; but ’tisn’t easy to get
out of steamboating when you’ve got a good boat and a first-rate trade.
Once she felt so awfully about it that I _did_ swear off--don’t tell
anybody, for God’s sake! but I did. I had to look out for my character
along the river, though; so I swore off on the sly, and played sick.
I’d give my orders to the mates and clerks from my bed in here, and
then I’d lock myself in, and read novels and the Bible to keep from
thinking. ’Twas awful dry work all around; but ‘whole hog or none’ is
_my_ style, you know. There was fun in it, though, to think of doing
something that no other captain on the river ever did. But, thunder!
by the time night came, I was so tired of loafing that I wrapped a
blanket around my head and shoulders, like a Hoosier, sneaked out the
outer door here, and walked the guards, between towns; but I was so
frightened for fear some one would know me that the walk did me more
harm than good. And blue! why a whole cargo of indigo would have looked
like a snow-storm alongside of my feelings the second day; ’pon my
word, Fred, I caught myself crying in the afternoon, just before dark,
and I couldn’t find out what for either. I tell _you_, I was scared,
and things got worse as time spun along; the dreams I had that night
made me howl, and I felt worse yet when daylight came along again.
Toward the next night I was just afraid to go to sleep; so I made up
my mind to get well, go on duty, and dodge everybody that it seemed
I ought to drink with. Why, the Lord bless your soul! the first time
we shoved off from a town, I walked up to the bar, just as I always
did after leaving towns; the barkeeper set out my particular bottle
naturally enough, knowing nothing about my little game; I poured my
couple of fingers, and dropped it down as innocent as a lamb before
I knew what I was doing. By George! my boy, ’twas like opening
lock-gates; I was just heavenly gay before morning. There was one good
thing about it, though--I never told Emily I was going to swear off; I
was going to surprise her, so I had the disappointment all to myself.
Maybe she isn’t as happy as your wife; but, whatever else I’ve done, or
not done, I’ve never lied to her.”

“It’s a pity you hadn’t promised _her_ then, before you tried your
experiment,” said Fred. The captain shook his head gravely and replied,

“I guess not; why, I’d have either killed somebody or killed myself if
I’d gone on a day or two longer. I s’pose I’d have got along better
if I’d had anybody to keep me company, or reason with me like a
schoolmaster; but I hadn’t; I didn’t know anybody that I dared trust
with a secret like that.”

“_I_ hadn’t reformed then, eh?” queried Fred.

“You? why you’re one of the very fellows I dodged! Just as I got aboard
the boat--I came down late, on purpose--I saw you out aft. I tell
you, I was under my blankets, with a towel wrapped around my jaw, in
about one minute, and was just _a-praying_ that you hadn’t seen me come
aboard.”

Fred laughed, but his laughter soon made place for a look of tender
solicitude. The unexpected turn that had been reached in the
conversation he had so dreaded, and the sympathy which had been
awakened in him by Crayme’s confidence and openness, temporarily made
of Fred Macdonald a man with whom Fred himself had never before been
acquainted. A sudden idea struck him.

“Sam,” said he, “try it over again, and _I’ll_ stay by you. I’ll nurse
you, crack jokes, fight off the blues for you, keep your friends away.
I’ll even break your neck for you, if you like, seeing it’s you if
it’ll keep you straight.”

“Will you, though?” said the captain, with a look of admiration
undisguised, except by wonder. “You’re the first friend I ever had,
then. By thunder! how marrying Ettie Wedgewell _did_ improve you, Fred!
But,” and the captain’s face lengthened again, “there’s a fellow’s
reputation to be considered, and where’ll mine be after it gets around
that I’ve sworn off?”

“Reputation be hanged!” exclaimed Fred. “_Lose_ it, for your wife’s
sake. Besides, you’ll _make_ reputation instead of lose it: you’ll be
as famous as the Red River Raft, or the Mammoth Cave--the only thing of
the kind west of the Alleghanies. As for the boys, tell them I’ve bet
you a hundred that you can’t stay off your liquor for a year, and that
you’re not the man to take a dare.”

“_That_ sounds like business,” exclaimed the captain, springing to his
feet.

“Let me draw up a pledge,” said Fred eagerly, drawing pen and ink
toward him.

“No, you don’t, my boy,” said the captain gently, and pushing Fred
out of the room and upon the guards. “Emily shall do that. Below
there!--Perkins, I’ve got to go up town for an hour; see if you can’t
pick up freight to pay laying-up expenses somehow. Fred, go home and
get your traps; ‘now’s the accepted time,’ as your father-in-law has
dinged at me, many a Sunday, from the pulpit.”



CHAPTER XIV.

SAILING UP STREAM.


As Sam Crayme strode toward the body of the town, his business
instincts took strong hold of his sentiments, in the manner natural
alike to saints and sinners, and he laid a plan of operations against
whiskey which was characterized by the apparent recklessness but actual
prudence which makes for glory in steamboat captains, as it does in
army commanders. As was his custom in business, he first drove at
full speed upon the greatest obstacles; so it came to pass that he
burst into his own house, threw his arm around his wife with more than
ordinary tenderness, and then looking into her eyes with the daring
born of utter desperation, said,

“Emily, I came back to sign the strongest temperance pledge that you
can possibly draw up; Fred Macdonald wanted to write out one, but I
told him that nobody but you should do it; you’ve earned the right to,
poor girl.” No such duty and surprise having ever before come hand
in hand to Mrs. Crayme, she acted as every true woman will imagine
that she herself would have done under similar circumstances, and this
action made it not so easy as it might otherwise have been to see just
where the pen and ink were, or to prevent the precious document, when
completed, from being disfigured by peculiar blots which were neither
finger-marks nor ink-spots, yet which in shape and size suggested both
of these indications of unneatness. Mrs. Crayme was not an adept at
literary composition, and, being conscious of her own deficiencies, she
begged that a verbal pledge might be substituted; but her husband was
firm.

“A contract don’t steer worth a cent unless it’s in writing, Emily,”
said he, looking over his wife’s shoulder as she wrote. “Gracious,
girl, you’re making it too thin; _any_ greenhorn could sail right
through that and all around it. Here, let _me_ have it.” And Crayme
wrote, dictating aloud to himself as he did so, “And the--party--of the
first part--hereby agrees to--do everything--else that the--spirit of
this--agreement--seems to the party--of the second--part to--indicate
or--imply.” This he read over to his wife, saying,

“That’s the way we fix contracts that aren’t ship-shape, Emily; a
steamboat couldn’t be run in any other way.” Then Crayme wrote at the
foot of the paper, “Sam. Crayme, Capt. Str. _Excellence_,” surveyed the
document with evident pride, and handed it to his wife, saying,

“Now, you see, you’ve got me so I can’t ever get out of it by trying to
make out that ’twas some other Sam Crayme that you reformed.”

“O husband!” said Mrs. Crayme, throwing her arms about the captain’s
neck, “_don’t_ talk in that dreadful business way! I’m too happy to
bear it. I want to go with you on this trip.”

The captain shrank away from his wife’s arms, and a cold perspiration
started all over him as he exclaimed,

“Oh, don’t, little girl! Wait till next trip. There’s an unpleasant set
of passengers aboard; the barometer points to rainy weather, so you’d
have to stay in the cabin all the time; our cook is sick, and his cubs
serve up the most infernal messes; we’re light of freight, and have got
to stop at every warehouse on the river, and the old boat’ll be either
shrieking, or bumping, or blowing off steam the whole continual time.”

Mrs. Crayme’s happiness had been frightening some of her years away,
and her smile carried Sam himself back to his pre-marital period as she
said,

“Never mind the rest; I see you don’t want me to go,” and then she
became Mrs. Crayme again as she said, pressing her face closely to her
husband’s breast, “but I hope you won’t get _any_ freight, _anywhere_,
so you can get home all the sooner.”

Then the captain called on Dr. White, and announced such a collection
of symptoms that the doctor grew alarmed, insisted on absolute quiet,
conveyed Crayme in his own carriage to the boat, saw him into his
berth, and gave to Fred Macdonald a multitude of directions and
cautions, the sober recording of which upon paper was of great service
in saving Fred from suffering over the Quixotic aspect which the whole
project had begun, in his mind, to take on. He felt ashamed even to
look squarely into Crayme’s eye, and his mind was greatly relieved when
the captain turned his face to the wall and exclaimed,

“Fred, for goodness’ sake get out of here; I feel enough like a baby
now, without having a nurse alongside. I’ll do well enough for a few
hours; just look in once in a while.”

During the first day of the trip, Crayme made no trouble for himself
or Fred: under the friendly shelter of night, the two men had a
two-hour chat which was alternately humorous, business-like, and
retrospective, and then Crayme fell asleep. The next day was reasonably
pleasant out of doors, so the captain wrapped himself in a blanket
and sat in an extension-chair on the guards, where with solemn face
he received some condolences which went far to keep him in good humor
after the sympathizers had departed. On the second night the captain
was restless, and the two men played cards. On the third day the
captain’s physique reached the bottom of its stock of patience, and
protested indignantly at the withdrawal of its customary stimulus; and
it acted with more consistency, though no less ugliness, than the human
mind does when under excitement and destitute of control. The captain
grew terribly despondent, and Fred found ample use for all the good
stories he knew. Some of these amused the captain greatly, but after
one of them he sighed,

“Poor old Billy Hockess told me that the only time I ever heard it
before, and _didn’t_ we have a glorious time that night! He’d just
put all his money into the _Yenesei_--that blew up and took him with
it only a year afterward--and he gave us a new kind of punch he’d got
the hang of when he went East for the boat’s carpets. ’Twas made of
two bottles of brandy, one whiskey, two rum, one gin, two sherry, and
four claret, with guava jelly, and lemon peel that had been soaking in
curaçoa and honey for a month. It looks kind of weak when you think
about it, but there were only six of us in the party, and it went to
the spot by the time we got through. Golly, but didn’t we make Rome
howl that night!”

Fred shuddered, and experimented upon his friend with song; he was
rewarded by hearing the captain hum an occasional accompaniment; but,
as Fred got fairly into a merry Irish song about one Terry O’Rann, and
uttered the lines in which the poet states that the hero

    “--took whiskey punch
    Ivery night for his lunch,”

the captain put such a world of expression into a long-drawn sigh that
Fred began to feel depressed himself; besides, songs were not numerous
in Fred’s repertoire, and those in which there was no allusion to
drinking could be counted on half his fingers. Then he borrowed the
barkeeper’s violin, and played, one after another, the airs which had
been his favorites in the days of his courtship, until Crayme exclaimed,

“Say, Fred, we’re not playing church; give us something that don’t
bring all of a fellow’s dead friends along with it.”

Fred reddened, swung his bow viciously, and dashed into “Natchez Under
the Hill,” an old air which would have delighted Offenbach, but which
will never appear in a collection of classical music.

“Ah! that’s something like music,” exclaimed Captain Crayme, as Fred
paused suddenly to repair a broken string. “I never hear that but
I think of Wesley Treepoke, that used to run the _Quitman_; went
afterward to the _Rising Planet_, when the _Quitman’s_ owners put her
on a new line as an opposition boat. Wess and I used to work things so
as to make Louisville at the same time--he going up, I going down, and
then turn about--and we always had a glorious night of it, with one or
two other lively boys that we’d pick up. And Wess had a fireman that
could fiddle off old ‘Natchez’ in a way that would just make a corpse
dance till its teeth rattled, and that fireman would always be called
in just as we’d got to the place where you can’t tell what sort of
whiskey ’tis you’re drinking, and I tell you, ’twas so heavenly that
a fellow could forgive the last boat that beat him on the river, or
stole a landing from him. And _such_ whiskey as Wess kept! used to
go cruising around the back country, sampling little lots run out of
private stills. He’d always find nectar, you’d better believe. Poor
old boy! the tremens took him off at last. He hove his pilot overboard
just before he died, and put a bullet into Pete Langston, his second
clerk--they were both trying to hold him, you see--but they never laid
it up against him. I wish I knew what became of the whiskey he had on
hand when he walked off--no, I don’t, either; what am I thinking about?
But I do, though--hanged if I don’t!”

Fred grew pale: he had heard of drunkards growing delirious upon
ceasing to drink; he had heard of men who, in periods of aberration,
were impelled by the motive of the last act or recollection which
strongly impressed them; what if the captain should suddenly become
delirious, and try to throw _him_ overboard or shoot him? Fred
determined to get the captain at once upon the guards--no, into the
cabin, where there would be no sight of water to suggest anything
dreadful--and search his room for pistols. But the captain objected to
being moved into the cabin.

“The boys,” said the captain, alluding to the gamblers, “are mighty
sharp in the eye, and like as not they’d see through my little game,
and then where’d my reputation be? Speaking of the boys reminds me of
Harry Genang, that cleaned out that rich Kentucky planter at bluff one
night, and then swore off gambling for life and gave a good-by supper
aboard the boat. ’Twas just at the time when Prince Imperial Champagne
came out, and the whole supper was made of that splendid stuff. I guess
I must have put away four bottles, and if I’d known how much he’d
ordered, I could have carried away a couple more. I’ve always been
sorry I didn’t.”

Fred wondered if there was any subject of conversation which would not
suggest liquor to the captain; he even brought himself to ask if Crayme
had seen the new Methodist Church at Barton since it had been finished.

“Oh, yes,” said the captain; “I started to walk Moshier home one night,
after we’d punished a couple of bottles of old Crow whiskey at our
house, and he caved in all of a sudden, and I laid him out on the
steps of that very church till I could get a carriage. Those were my
last two bottles of Crow, too; it’s too bad the way the good things of
this life paddle off.”

The captain raised himself in his berth, sat on the edge thereof, stood
up, stared out the window, and began to pace his room with his head
down and his hands behind his back. Little by little he raised his
head, dropped his hands, flung himself into a chair, beat the devil’s
tattoo on the table, sprang up excitedly, and exclaimed,

“I’m going back on all the good times I ever had.”

“You’re only getting ready to try a new kind, Sam,” said Fred.

“Well, I’m going back on my friends.”

“Not on all of them; the dead ones would pat you on the back, if they
got a chance.”

“A world without whiskey looks infernally dismal to a fellow that isn’t
half done living.”

“It looks first-rate to a fellow that hasn’t got any back-down in him.”

“Curse you! I wish I’d made _you_ back down when you first talked
temperance to me.”

“Go ahead! Then curse your wife--don’t be afraid; you’ve been doing it
ever since you married her.”

Crayme flew at Macdonald’s throat; the younger man grappled the
captain and threw him into his bunk. The captain struggled and glared
like a tiger; Fred gasped, between the special efforts dictated by
self-preservation,

“Sam, I--promised to--to see you--through--and I’m--going to--do it,
if--if I have to--break your neck.”

The captain made one tremendous effort; Fred braced one foot against
the table, put a knee on the captain’s breast, held both the captain’s
wrists tightly, looked full into the captain’s eyes, and breathed a
small prayer--for his own safety. For a moment or two, perhaps longer,
the captain strained violently, and then relaxed all effort and cried,

“Fred, you’ve whipped me!”

“Nonsense! whip yourself,” exclaimed Fred, “if you’re going to stop
drinking.”

The captain turned his face to the wall and said nothing; but he
seemed to be so persistently swallowing something that Fred suspected
a secreted bottle, and moved an investigation so suddenly that the
captain had not time in which to wipe his eyes.

“Hang it, Fred,” said he, rather brokenly; “how _can_ what’s babyish in
men whip a full-grown steamboat captain?”

“The same way that it whipped a full-grown woolen-mill manager once, I
suppose, old boy,” said Macdonald.

“Is that so?” exclaimed the captain, astonishment getting so sudden
an advantage over shame that he turned over and looked his companion
in the face. “Why--how are you, Fred? I feel as if I was just being
introduced. Didn’t anybody else help?”

“Yes,” said Fred, “a woman; but--you’ve got a wife, too.”

Crayme fell back on his pillow and sighed. “If I could only _think_
about her, Fred! But I can’t; whiskey’s the only thing that comes into
my mind.”

“Can’t think about her!” exclaimed Fred; “why, are you acquainted with
her yet, I wonder? _I’ll_ never forget the evening you were married.”

“That _was_ jolly, wasn’t it?” said Crayme. “I’ll bet such sherry was
never opened west of the Alleghanies, before or----”

“_Hang_ your sherry!” roared Fred; “it’s your wife that I remember.
_You_ couldn’t see her, of course, for you were standing alongside of
her; but the rest of us--well, I wished myself in your place, that’s
all.”

“Did you, though?” said Crayme, with a smile which seemed rather proud;
“well, I guess old Major Pike did too, for he drank to her about twenty
times that evening. Let’s see; she wore a white moire antique, I think
they called it, and it cost twenty-one dollars a dozen, and there was
at least one broken bottle in every----”

“And I made up my mind she was throwing herself away, in marrying a
fellow that would be sure to care more for whiskey than he did for
her,” interrupted Fred.

“Ease off, Fred, ease off now; there wasn’t any whiskey there; I tried
to get some of the old Twin Tulip brand for punch, but----”

“But the devil happened to be asleep, and you got a chance to behave
yourself,” said Fred.

Crayme looked appealingly. “Fred,” said he, “tell me about her
yourself; I’ll take it as a favor.”

“Why, she looked like a lot of lilies and roses,” said Fred, “except
that you couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began. As she
came into the room _I_ felt like getting down on my knees. Old Bayle
was telling me a vile story just then, but the minute _she_ came in he
stopped as if he was shot.”

“He wouldn’t drink a drop that evening,” said Crayme, “and I’ve puzzled
my wits over that for five years----”

“She looked _so_ proud of _you_,” interrupted Fred with some impatience.

“Did she?” asked Crayme. “Well, I guess I _was_ a good-looking
fellow in those days: I know Pike came up to me once, with a glass
in his hand, and said that he ought to drink to _me_, for I was the
finest-looking groom he’d ever seen. He was so tight, though, that he
couldn’t hold his glass steady; and though you know I never had a drop
of stingy blood in me, it _did_ go to my heart to see him spill that
gorgeous sherry.”

“She looked very proud of _you_,” Fred repeated; “but I can’t see why,
for I’ve never seen her do it since.”

“You _will_, though, hang you!” exclaimed the captain. “Get out of
here! I can think about her _now_, and I don’t want anybody else
around. No rudeness meant, you know, Fred.”

Fred Macdonald retired quietly, taking with him the keys of both doors,
and feeling more exhausted than he had been on any Saturday night since
the building of the mill.



CHAPTER XV.

A FIRST INWARD PEEP.


Among the Barton people who had actually made any effort for the
sake of temperance, no one found greater comfort in contemplative
retrospects of his own work than Deacon Jones. True, his contributions
to the various funds which Crupp, Tomple, Wedgewell, and Brown devised
had not been as great as had been expected of him; nor had such moneys
as he finally gave been obtained from him without an amount of effort
which Crupp declared sufficient to effect the extraction, from the
soil, of the stump of a centenarian oak; but when the money had left
his pocket, and was absolutely beyond recall, the deacon made the most
he could out of it by the only method which remained. His contributions
gave him an excuse for talk and exhortation, and, next to money-making,
there was no operation which the deacon enjoyed as much as that of
exhorting others to good deeds. Until there broke out in Barton the
temperance excitement alluded to in our first chapter, Deacon Jones’s
hortatory efforts had been principally of a religious nature; he
believed in religion, and he occasionally extracted enjoyment from
it; besides, his thrifty soul had always been profoundly moved by the
business-like nature of the Scripture passage, “Whoso shall convert
a sinner from the error of his ways, shall save a soul from death
and cover a multitude of sins.” Many had been the unregenerate in
Barton with whom the deacon had labored, generally with considerable
tact, as to occasion and language, and sometimes with success. His
orthodoxy was acceptable to every pastor in the village, for he was an
extreme believer in every religious tenet which either pastor declared
necessary to salvation; and his frequent inability to reconcile such
of these ideas as conflicted with each other only led the ministers to
accord new admiration to a faith which was appalled by nothing. Up to
the time when he took active part in the temperance movement, one of
his favorite injunctions had been, “Lay up your treasure in heaven;”
when, however, he found himself suddenly and frequently called upon
for contributions, he dropped this injunction in favor of that one
which reads, “Give to him that asketh of thee.” It had been a matter
of considerable sorrow to the deacon that his first knowledge of this
passage had been derived from St. Luke instead of St. Matthew, and
that he had many times been compelled to say “Give to _every man_,”
etc., which quotation had reacted upon him in a manner which caused
him to quote to himself, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,”
and to suffer some terrible flounderings in the twin pits of logic and
casuistry; but when he corrected himself according to Matthew, his
heart was gladdened, and his restraint removed. The old man talked a
great deal out of honest delight in righteousness and humanity; but he
was never moved to reticence by the thought that if his scattered seed
produced a fair share of grain, the demands upon his own precious store
would be lessened.

Besides, the deacon could, with propriety, urge a more conspicuous
form of well-doing than mere contributions of currency ever attained
to. Had not he himself taken upon his shoulders Tom Adams, driver of
the brick-yard team? If any one doubted it, or had never been made
acquainted with the fact, the deacon gave him no excuse for farther
ignorance. One after another of the well-to-do merchants, professional
men, and farmers, were urged by the deacon to take entire charge of
some unfortunate soul, after the manner of the deacon himself with Tom,
and to all of these he insisted that what he had done for Tom he had
been richly paid for by the approving smiles of his own conscience.
Shrewd judges of human nature were convinced that if such payment
was made to the deacon, he was doubly paid, for Tom Adams had been a
treasure of a workman ever since he had stopped drinking; but, with
the marvelous blindness of the man who objects to seeing, the deacon
clearly comprehended both aspects of the situation, without ever once
allowing them to interfere with each other.

He was pursuing his favorite line of argument in his store one
afternoon, before Parson Brown, Lawyer Bottom, the postmaster, Dr.
White, and two or three others who were not active customers at that
immediate moment, and, as all his hearers but the parson were in good
circumstances, the deacon felt called upon to make an unusual effort.

“Tell you what it is, gentlemen,” said he, “there’s nothin’ like
puttin’ your hand in your pocket to show you what doin’ good is. Here
I’ve been thinkin’ all my life that I was doin’ good by subscribin’
to Bible Societies, Missionary Societies, an’ all such things, and yet
there was _the_ chance right in my own hands, and I was too blind to
see it. I done it at last on a risk, as if God didn’t know best when
he inspires men to righteous deeds; an’ I was fearful, time an’ again,
that it mightn’t turn out well; but I’ve been more abundantly blessed
at it than I ever expected to be. It makes a man feel kind of like
Christ must have felt, to be able to help a fellow-creature out of
his troubles and sins. Look at Tom Adams now! he’s always sober, his
children go to Sunday-school, and he’s never around looking as if you’d
rather not meet him, and _I_, thank the Lord! feel even better over it
than _he_ does.”

The postmaster slyly tipped a grave wink at Lawyer Bottom, and the
lawyer sagely laid a wise forefinger athwart his own nose. Dr. White
dropped a short bark, intended for a cough, which somehow provoked
a smile all around. Suddenly a small boy rushed into the store,
exclaiming,

“O Deacon Jones! Tom Adams fell out of the wagon and broke his leg!”

The deacon’s ecstatic expression instantly vanished into thin air, and
he asked, with a face full of misery,

“And the horses ran away?”

“No,” said the boy. “_They’re_ all right.”

Dr. White sprang up, seized his cane, and asked, “Where is he?”

“That’s so,” asked the deacon, still more sorrowful of countenance, as
he continued, “just as corn’s beginnin’ to come in, too, an’ needin’ to
be measured an’ sacked; that’s just the way things go in this wicked
world!”

Lawyer Bottom, who did not believe much in God, and believed still less
in the deacon, asked,

“Well, deacon, then you wouldn’t advise me to take somebody on my hands
for the sake of the spiritual payment I’ll be likely to get out of the
operation?”

The deacon rallied himself by a tremendous effort, but his countenance
did not indicate that the answer he was about to make would be of that
softness that turns away wrath; he was saved from disgracing himself,
however, by still another boy, who came flying through the main street
on horseback, shouting,

“Fire! fire! The woolen mill! Fire!”

The deacon’s store emptied in an instant of every one but Parson Brown,
for all the other listeners were men of some means, and stockholders
in the mill.

“Here!” shouted the deacon, cutting the cords of a “nest” of pails;
“take buckets along with you; like enough it’ll need everybody’s help,
and the mill’s only half insured, too! Parson, would you mind sittin’
here until my boy gets back? I’m losin’ enough to-day without having to
shut up store, too.”

“Certainly, I’ll stay,” said the old preacher, limping to the front
of the store, and laying his hand on the shoulder of the troubled
storekeeper; “but, Brother Jones, if the light of that burning mill
should show you anything inside of yourself, _don’t_ cover your eyes.
It’s for righteousness’ sake I ask it.”

“All right, Brother Brown,” whispered the deacon hoarsely, as he
started off with two water-pails in each hand, and murmuring, “What
did the old fellow mean by that, I wonder?” Across the street was
Squire Tomple, just jumping into his buggy, and the deacon made haste
to accept an invitation to a seat beside his fellow-sufferer. The two
stockholders did not lack company; Crupp, Judge Macdonald, and most
of the other stockholders, either preceded or followed them, and
on the road were hundreds of men and boys, full of an enterprising
desire to see the largest fire that had ever occurred in Barton, and
already experiencing such of the pleasures of anticipation as a heavy
column of smoke could create. Coming in sight of the mill itself,
the deacon groaned, and the Squire assisted him, for flames were
bursting from every window, and the men who had been passing pails of
water up ladders and through the stairways had been driven from their
work, and had formed a circle which was slowly but steadily widening.
Considerable of the wool had been removed and stacked outside the
building, and it now became necessary to move this still farther away,
but so many hands were ready to seize it that Deacon Jones could not
relieve his feelings even by attempting to save property; so he stood
still and looked at the fire, as he estimated his losses. Such a day
he had not known since he had lost considerable uninsured stock by
the explosion of a river steamer. Sidling uneasily about among the
crowd, he found several stockholders anxiously comparing pencil notes,
and the figures were anything but consolatory supposing all the stock
to be saved, there was yet the mill and machinery--value, about ten
thousand dollars--which would be totally lost; insurance, five thousand
dollars; dead loss, ditto; which left the Squire out of pocket to the
extent of a quarter of his subscription. The small profit which had
already accrued would not more than cover the loss of the interest on
the remaining capital until the mill could be rebuilt, if it seemed
advisable to rebuild it.

“Who’s to blame for all this?” asked the deacon angrily.

“We haven’t learned yet,” said the judge, “and I’m afraid it won’t help
matters any to know all about it. There goes the last of it!”

As the judge spoke, the blazing frame fell, the small boys shouted
“Oh----h!” in chorus, and the deacon’s heart sank like lead as he
turned away. He had lost, say, a hundred and fifty dollars by the
fire, and Tom Adams’s misfortune would entail additional loss upon
him, for a new man would have to be watched and taught and helped,
whereas Tom worked as easily as the wheel of a machine. It was but
right that the deacon should regret his losses; for though he was a man
of considerable property, a dollar looked very large to him, for the
reason that his first dollars had each one represented an enormous
amount of labor. But when Lawyer Bottom, who had invested in mill stock
only with the hope of profit, approached the deacon, and asked, with
more curiosity than malice, “How about temperance now, deacon?” the
facial contortions which the deacon offered in reply sent the lawyer
away in an ecstasy of unholy glee, which almost eradicated his own
sense of loss, and which dispelled for a time such little belief as he
had in the transforming power of religion. But what is one man’s poison
is another’s food. The lawyer’s question was not entirely disposed of
by the deacon’s ungracious reply; it repeated itself time and again to
the old man, and at the most inopportune times and places; it came to
him behind the counter, and made him give wrong weights and measures,
with the balance not always in his favor; it came to him when he was
making entries in his day-book, and caused him to forget certain items;
at his own dinner-table it suddenly made itself heard, and interfered
with his relish of the good viands which he so much enjoyed; it dropped
in upon him in his dreams, when he could not be on his guard against
his better self, and extracted from his conscience a provoking line of
answers which in his waking hours he could not gainsay. For three days
this depressing experience continued, and then there occurred, at the
regular weekly prayer-meeting of Parson Wedgewell’s church, an episode
which for months caused mournful reflections in the minds of such of
Parson Wedgewell’s parishioners as were not in the habit of attending
prayer-meeting. It was noticed by the faithful that Deacon Jones looked
unusually solemn and sensitive as he entered the room, and that he
did not, as had been hitherto his habit, start the second hymn. This
omission having been made good by some enterprising member, however,
the deacon got upon his feet and said:

“Brethren, during the past few days my eyes have been opened, and what
I have seen hasn’t been pleasant to look upon. It is indeed true, my
dear friends, that Satan sometimes appears as an angel of light. For
months I’ve been feeling, and real happily, too, what a glorious thing
it was to do good; I had been instrumental in saving one man from
destruction by keeping him busy, and I’d helped save another”--here
the deacon paused suddenly and looked around to make sure that Judge
Macdonald was not in the room--“I’d helped save another by taking an
interest in the mill. But within a few days I’ve learned that my own
righteousness was as filthy rags; ’twas even worse than that, brethren,
for the worst rags are worth so much a pound, but I can’t find that my
righteousness is worth anything at all. I’ve fought it out with myself,
brethren, an’ I believe I’ve conquered; but it makes my heart sick to
see what my enemy looks like, an’ to think I’ve got to carry him around
with me through the rest of my days. Doin’ good’s all right, even if
it _does_ pay in dollars and cents, brethren; but doin’ good for the
sake of what it’ll bring is the quickest way of makin’ a hypocrite that
I ever found, an’ I’m beginnin’ to think that I’ve found a good many
ways in myself, my friends. I ask an interest in the prayers of God’s
people, an’ I assure ’em that there’s no danger of any of their prayers
bein’ wasted.”

The deacon dropped into his seat, and the silence that prevailed for a
moment was simply inevitable in a little company that had never before
heard such an extraordinary confession; as one of the members afterward
remarked, it sounded like a murderer’s last dying speech. Then good
Parson Wedgewell sprang to his feet, and, with streaming eyes and rapid
utterances, offered a prayer such as had never been heard in that room
before. The songs and prayers which followed were not those to which
the meeting were accustomed, and when at last the assemblage separated,
there could not be heard from the home-wending couples any critiques of
the language or garb of any one who had been present.

As for Deacon Jones, he continued his new fight most valiantly by
visiting Tom Adams that very evening, and assuring him that, their
supplementary agreement to the contrary notwithstanding, he would
continue Tom’s pay during his confinement, and would pay his doctor’s
bill also.



CHAPTER XVI.

A REFORMER DISAPPOINTED.


During the day or two which followed his interview with Tappelmine,
Father Baguss was consumed with conflicting emotions. He could not deny
that his offer to help Tappelmine had taken an unpleasant load off of
his own heart; but it was equally certain that the contemplation of the
possible results of the arrangement gave him a sense of oppression,
which differed from the first in quality, but of which the quantity
was far too great to be endured with comfort. To find a way of getting
out of the whole matter was a suggestion which came frequently to the
heart of the old man, and was not as rigidly excluded as it would have
been from that of the reader; but fortunately for the honesty of Father
Baguss, his ingenuity was of the lowest order conceivable; so he did
as thousands of his betters have done when unable, by any abandonment
of self-respect, to avoid the inevitable: he submitted, and groaned
frequently to the Lord. Sometimes these efforts before the Unseen
increased the old man’s lugubriousness; at other times, a song came to
his rescue, followed by a troop of its own kind; but so uncertain were
his moods that Mrs. Baguss, who never before had occasion to suppose
that there was a single nerve in her husband’s body, began to complain
that she didn’t “believe in this thing of lookin’ out for other folks,
if it makes you cranky with your own.”

The old man’s trouble increased on the third day, for Tappelmine
dropped in and hinted vaguely that it was not yet too late to plant
winter wheat. The old man went into Tappelmine’s field with his own
team, and plowed; he worked his horses longer hours than he ever did on
his own ground; he lent an extra horse to work with Tappelmine’s own
before a harrow; he himself sowed the wheat, casting now plentifully,
as he thought of what Tappelmine might owe him by harvest-time, and
now scantily, as he thought of what might be his own fate if the crop
should be troubled with rust, or blight, or rain, or drought. And all
the while, as he followed his horses, the old man kept uttering short
petitions for Tappelmine and himself; and all the while his soul was
full of unspoken prayers for heavy rains or sudden cold, so that
the work might be stopped by the hand of Providence himself. But no
such fortune befell the good old man: such an open fall had not been
known since the settlement of Barton; even the Indian summer lasted
so long that the poet of the Barton _Register_ found opportunity to
publish, in three successive weekly numbers, “odes,” which could be
read in the weather which suggested them. When a heavy rain at last
put an end to field work, there were twenty-seven acres in wheat on
the Tappelmine estate. Father Baguss ached in soul and body, but the
wheat-field work was but the beginning of sorrow. The Tappelmine
larder was bareness itself; there was not a porker in the Tappelmine
pen; there was not even corn enough in the Tappelmine crib to feed
the family horse, let alone to send to mill, and be ground into the
meal which the Tappelmines fortunately preferred to fine flour.
Father Baguss sold the necessities of life in small quantities to his
neighbor, with the understanding that they were to be repaid by the
labor of Tappelmine, who was to get out material for barrel-staves
and wheelwright’s spokes on the old man’s woodland; but, by the time
the wheat was planted, Tappelmine, who, under the eye of Baguss, did
more work in a month than he had done in the whole of the year which
preceded, and who during the month had been pretty effectually kept
from his accustomed stimulant, fell sick. Then the cup of misery which
Father Baguss had put to his own lips was full; as the old man, in his
homely way, explained to his own pastor, it didn’t run over, and that
was just the trouble; he had to drink it all. He sought for sympathy
among his neighbors and acquaintances, but without much success; the
Barton postmaster expressed the sentiment of the township, when he said
that “no one but a thick-headed blunderer like Baguss would attempt
to reform a dead-and-gone soaker like Tappelmine.” Besides, most of
the inhabitants wanted to see how the case was going to turn out,
and all of them instinctively understood that the best point of view
is always at a respectable distance from the object to be looked at.
The sorrowing philanthropist went to Crupp, Tomple, and Deacon Jones;
but these three reformers, knowing that Baguss could afford the loss,
quietly agreed with each other that it would be indeed consolatory
to have a companion in experience; so they made excuses, and quoted
figures in evidence, and Father Baguss went home with the settled
conviction that he would have to look to Providence for his only
assistance.

But while Providence was thus reforming Father Baguss, Tappelmine was
growing steadily weaker, and Baguss found his causes of discomfort
increased by a debate, which lasted long in his mind, whether it might
not be better, for the sake of the drunkard’s family, to let Tappelmine
die, and then lease the farm himself at a price which would support the
widow. While one phase of the case was present in his mind, he would
suggest to the doctor that medicine didn’t seem to do any good--which
was certainly true--and that he didn’t believe it would pay to come so
often; when, on the contrary, conscience would argue for its own side,
the old man would have all three of the physicians visit Tappelmine in
rapid succession. The doctors disagreed, as any one but Father Baguss
would have known. Perry suggested electrical treatment, which would
necessitate the purchase of a battery, no such piece of mechanism
having ever been seen in the town except in a locked cabinet of the
Barton High School. Dr. White outlined a course of treatment which
seemed reasonable to Father Baguss, but which, put into practice, did
neither good nor harm; while Pykem arranged for certain inexpensive
applications of water, with results which were in the main encouraging.
But Tappelmine was unable to leave his bed for three months, and when
he was at all fit to work, he could labor for but two or three hours a
day.

And so Father Baguss found himself brought down to the position of a
man who was spending money without knowing what he was to get for it.
Such a position he had never occupied before, and no one could wonder
that he felt uncomfortable in it; but the duration of the period was
such that the victim succumbed to the steady pressure of truths which,
in their abstract form, would have been as ineffective against him
as against an acute logician whose intellect had been trained by his
pocket.

But Father Baguss was not the only instrument of the salvation of
Tappelmine. In existence, but scarcely known of or recognized, there
was a Mrs. Tappelmine. With face, hair, eyes, and garments of the
same color, the color itself being neutral; small, thin, faded,
inconspicuous, poorly clad, bent with labors which had yielded no
return, as dead to the world as saints strive to be, yet remaining in
the world for the sake of those whom she had often wished out of it,
Mrs. Tappelmine devoted herself to the wreck of what was once a hope
over which her eyes had been of a luster which high-born maidens had
envied, and a hope in which her heart had throbbed with a joy which had
seemed too great for life to hold. About the bedside of her husband
she hovered day and night. When she slept no one but herself knew, and
she herself did not care. When Tappelmine made his verbal agreement
with Father Baguss, she had listened with a joy whose earnestness was
as nothing compared with her resolution. She had hurried away from the
broken window to a corner where her dirty children were at quarrelsome
play, and she had bestowed upon each of them a passionate caress
which startled even the little wretches themselves into wondering
silence. From that moment she watched her husband’s every movement, and
Tappelmine, like a true Pike--for the Pike, like the Transcendentalist,
existed ages before he found his way into literature--Tappelmine
subjected himself into his wife’s dominion. He made numberless excuses
to go to some place where liquor could be found; she, with the wisdom
of the serpent, yet the gentleness of the dove, prevented him. As,
through the course of her husband’s labors, under the eye of Baguss, he
had grown more silent than ever, she had increased her exertions for
his comfort; when, finally, the task was completed, and Tappelmine,
with thinner face and hollower eyes than ever, fell heavily upon his
rude bed and uttered--almost screamed--the single word “Whiskey!” she
was on her knees beside him in an instant.

“Jerry,” she exclaimed, “you’ve got the better of whiskey these late
days.”

“Just a drop more--to keep me from dying,” gasped Tappelmine.

“Don’t, Jerry,” she pleaded. “Let me hold you tight, so you _can’t_
die.”

“Just a drop, for God’s sake, Mariar!” said Tappelmine imploringly.

“O Jerry!” replied the wife, “don’t--for the children’s sake; _they’re_
more to you than God is. I hope he’ll forgive me for sayin’ it.”

“Only a single mouthful, Mariar,” said Tappelmine, “to keep me from
sinkin’.”

“You’re not sinkin’, old man--Jerry, dear; you’re gittin’ _up_. _Keep_
up, Jerry.”

“I’ll be all right in a day or two, Mariar, if I only get a taste.
You don’t want a sick man a-layin’ around, not fit to do for his young
ones?”

“You don’t need to, Jerry. _I’ll_ do for ’em, if you’ll only--only make
’em proud of you.”

“It’ll make me good for more to _you_, old woman--one single mouthful
will,” said Tappelmine.

“You’ve been better to me these three weeks than you ever was before,
Jerry; keep on bein’ so, won’t you? It puts me in mind of old
times--times when you used to laugh, an’ kiss me.”

“I’d be that way again,” said Tappelmine, “if I could only pick up
stren’th.”

“You’re that way now, Jerry, if you only stay as you are.”

“_You’ll_ die, Mariar,” said the man, “if I don’t get out of this bed
some way--you an’ the young uns.”

“I’d be glad enough,” said the woman, “if you’d only stay, Jerry.”

“An’ the boys an’ girls?” queried Tappelmine.

“Would be better off alongside of me in the ground, rather than have
their dad go backwards again,” said Mrs. Tappelmine. “People turn up
their noses at ’em now, Jerry.”

“What are you drivin’ at, Mariar?”

“Why, Jerry, when the children go ’long the road--God knows I don’t let
’em do it oftener than I can help--folks see ’em dirty, an’ wearin’
poor clothes, an’ not lookin’ over an’ above fed up, an’ they can’t
help kind o’ twitchin’ up their faces at ’em once there was a time when
I couldn’t have helped doin’ it to young ones lookin’ that way.”

“_Curse_ people!” exclaimed Tappelmine.

“They do it to me, too,” continued the woman.

Tappelmine sprang up, and exclaimed fiercely,

“What for?”

“’Cause--’cause you’ve made ’em, I reckon, Jerry,” answered Mrs.
Tappelmine with some difficulty, occasioned by some choking sobs which
nearly took exclusive possession of her. “You know, Jerry, I don’t
say it to complain--complainin’ never seems to bring one any good to
a woman like me; but--if you only knowed how folks look at me in--in
stores, an’ everywhere else, you--wouldn’t blame me for not likin’ it.
_I_ didn’t ever do anything to bring it about, unless ’twas in marryin’
_you_, and I _ain’t_ sorry I did _that_; but I wish I didn’t ever have
to see anybody again, if you’re goin’ to keep on drinkin’.”

The sick man fell back and was silent; his wife threw herself beside
him, crying,

“Don’t get mad at me, Jerry; God knows it’s the deadest truth.”

After a moment or two Tappelmine laid a hand on his wife’s cheek, where
it had not been before for twenty years; once its touch had brought
blushes; now, tears hurried down to meet it, and yet Mrs. Tappelmine
was happier than when she had been a pretty Kentucky girl, twenty years
before.

“Mariar,” said Tappelmine at last, “I’ve dragged you all down.”

“No, you haven’t, Jerry,” asserted Mrs. Tappelmine, with a lie which
she could not avoid.

“If dyin’ll help you up again, I’m willin’,” continued Tappelmine.

The apartments in the Tappelmine mansion were so few that it was
impossible for anything unusual to transpire without attracting the
attention of all the inmates; so it followed that the children,
beholding the actions of their parents, had gradually approached the
bed with countenances whose blankness was painfully eloquent to the
sick man. Tappelmine looked at them, and grew more miserable of visage;
he hid his face beside his wife, groaned “No more whiskey if I die
for it!” and jumped up and kissed each of his children, while Mrs.
Tappelmine sobbed aloud, and Father Baguss, who, coming over a few
moments before to talk business, had heard the simple word “whiskey,”
and had since been jealously listening under the window, sneaked away
muttering to himself,

“After all I’ve done for him, I can’t even say to myself that _I_ saved
him.”



CHAPTER XVII.

THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER


The fire which destroyed the Mississippi Valley Woolen Mills did such
damage in the ranks of the temperance reformers that for a few months
Crupp, Tomple, and several others had frequent cause to feel lonesome,
while poor Father Baguss fell back upon the church for that comfort
which, just after his first effort with Tappelmine, and before the
fire, he had frequently found in the society of his self-approving
brother stockholders. The mill was rebuilt, only a few of the owners
of stock refusing to be assessed for their proportion of the loss; the
mill made a very prosperous winter, and interested persons were not
averse to talking about it; but after Deacon Jones’ speech was noised
abroad, the mill was no longer a semi-holy topic of conversation,
which was allowable even on the church steps on Sundays. Some of the
men whose eyes had been opened toward themselves, on the occasion of
the fire, were honest enough to confess to themselves, and to bring
forth fruits meet for repentance; but the majority took refuge either
in open or secret sophistry, with the comforting impression that they
blinded others as effectually as they did themselves. The mass of the
people, however--those who neither subscribed to temperance funds, nor
mill stock, nor anything else, still looked on, and were plethoric of
encouragement and criticism. When appealed to for help, their logic
was simply bewildering, and almost as depraved as the same defensive
and offensive weapon is in politics. Tomple was the man to do such
work, said some, for he was the rich man of the village, and rich men
are only God’s stewards; others suggested Captain Crayme, who had
money, and who should be willing to spend considerable of it as a
thank-offering for his own providential deliverance from the thraldom
of drink. The irreligious thought that all such work should be done by
the church, if churches were good for anything but to shout in; while
the religious felt that the irreligious, among whom could be found
nearly every drinker in the village, should expend whatever money was
needed for the physical reformation of their kind. Where none of these
excuses seemed available, or wherever two or three conservatives of
differing views met together, there was always Crupp to fall back
upon; each man could grasp his own pocket-book with tender tenacity,
and declare to a sympathetic audience that the man who had coined his
money out of widows’ tears and orphans’ groans should by rights take
care of all the drunkards in the county, even until he was so reduced
in means as to be dependent upon public charity for his own support.

Thus matters stood when a year had elapsed since the memorable
temperance meeting, and Parson Wedgewell suggested that an anniversary
service would be only an ordinary and decent testimonial of respect to
Providence for his special mercies during the year. To the parson’s
surprise, Crupp who--though he had during the winter surprised every
one by joining Parson Wedgewell’s church, in spite of a very severe
course of questioning by the Examining Committee--was still a man of
action and a contemner of mere words--Crupp not only failed to oppose
such a meeting, but volunteered himself to write for Major Ben Bailey,
the gifted orator who had addressed the earlier meeting, and to pay the
orator’s expenses. Such offers were rarely made, even by the Barton
reformers, so by unanimous consent Crupp wrote to the great lecturer,
it being admitted by Tomple, Wedgewell, Baguss, and Jones, that Crupp’s
idea of informing the Major what had been done during the year was a
good one, and that it would enable the orator to modify his address
with special reference to existing circumstances. But Squire Tomple
and the parson were considerably astonished to see Crupp dash into the
Squire’s store one day, exhibiting an unusual degree of excitement, as
he unfolded a letter and remarked,

“He won’t come! Just listen to what he says!” And while the two other
reformers stood as if they saw the sky falling and did not despair of
catching it in their eyes and mouths, Crupp read:

“In replying to Mr. Crupp’s favor of the --th, Major Bailey can only
say, that while he should be glad to again meet the people among whom
so great an amount of good has been accomplished within the year, he
cannot see that he can render any service. Major Bailey’s efforts are
confined solely to the awakening of an interest in temperance; the
condition of affairs which Mr. Crupp reports as existing in Barton,
however, indicates a degree of interest which cannot be heightened by
any effort which the writer could put forth. What seems desirable at
Barton is such an informing of the general populace upon what has been
accomplished, upon the manner in which the work has been done, and the
comparatively small number of persons who have actively participated
in it, as shall convince the inhabitants that they did not fulfill
their whole duty toward temperance when a year ago they applauded the
utterances of the writer of these lines. Briefly, Major Bailey feels
that if he attended, he could contribute only such efforts as, under
the circumstances, would be entirely out of place.”

“Astonishing!” exclaimed Parson Wedgewell, with the eye of a man who
dreams.

“Threw away a job!” said Tomple, like the thrifty business man that he
was.

But the meeting was planned and widely advertised, and when, on the
evening appointed, the attendants looked over the room, they found
occasion for considerable attentive reflection.

Except that Major Ben Bailey, the gifted orator, was not present, the
meeting presented the same attractions which had drawn such a crowd to
its predecessor. The Barton Brass Band was there, and with some new
airs learned during the year; the Crystal Spring Glee Club was there;
there were the pastors of the four churches in Barton, and Squire
Tomple was in the chair as before. Besides, there were additional
attractions: Crupp, a year before, the man who was lending to liquor
selling an air of respectability, was upon the platform to the left
and rear of Squire Tomple; old Bunley, who a year before had been
responsible only as a container of alcohol, but now a respectable
citizen and book-keeper to Squire Tomple, occupied the secretary’s
chair; Tom Adams acted as usher in one of the side-aisles, and dragged
all the heavy drinkers up to front seats; Harry Wainright was there,
with a wife whose veil was not thick enough to hide her happiness; Fred
Macdonald, who had spent the evening of the other meeting in the Barton
House bar-room, was there; so was Tappelmine, appearing as ill at
ease as a porker in a strange field, but still there; while in a side
seat, close to the wall, sitting as much in the shadow of his wife as
possible, so as to guard his professional reputation, was Sam Crayme,
captain of the steamer _Excellence_. A number of “the boys” were there
also, and yet the church was not only not crowded, but not even full.
During the year temperance had been guided from the hearts to the
pockets of a great many, and this radical treatment had been fatal to
many an enthusiastic soul that had theretofore been blameless in its
own eyes. Those who attended heard some music, however, which was not
deficient in point of quality; they heard a short but live address from
old Parson Fish on the moral beauty of a temperate life, and an earnest
prayer from that one of the Barton pastors who had during the year done
nothing which justified the mention of his name in this history, and
then the audience saw Mr. Crupp advance to the front of the platform
and unfold a large sheet of paper, which he crumpled in one hand as he
spoke as follows:

“Ladies and gentlemen: having been requested, by the chairman of the
last meeting, to collect some statistics of the work accomplished in
Barton, during the past year, in the cause of temperance, I invite your
attention to the following figures:

“Population of township last year, three thousand two hundred and
sixty-five. Signatures to pledge, at last meeting, six hundred and
twenty-seven [applause]; signatures of persons who were in the habit
of drinking at time of signing, two hundred and thirty-one; number
of persons who have broken the pledge since signing, one hundred
and sixty [sighs and groans]; number of persons who have kept their
pledges, seventy-one [applause]; number reclaimed by personal effort
since meeting, forty-six [applause]; amount of money subscribed and
applied strictly for the good of the cause, and without hope of
pecuniary gain [a faint hiss or two], five thousand one hundred and
ninety dollars and thirty-eight cents [tremendous applause]; amount
which has been returned by the beneficiaries without solicitation,
twenty-seven dollars [laughter, hisses, and groans]. Of the amount
subscribed, _six-sevenths_ came from _five_ persons, who own less than
_one-fiftieth_ part of the taxable property of the township.”

The quiet which prevailed, as Mr. Crupp spoke these last words and took
his seat, was, if considered only _as_ quiet, simply faultless; but its
duration was greater and more annoying than things purely faultless
usually are, and there was a general sensation of relief when Squire
Tomple, who during the year had not made any public display of his
charities, and who was popularly supposed to care as much for a dollar
as any one, slowly got upon his feet.

“My friends,” said the Squire, “I’m more than ever convinced that
temperance is a good thing [hearty applause], and the reason I feel
so is, that during the year I’ve put considerable money into it; and
where the treasure is there shall the heart be also [dead silence].
I’ve made up my mind, that hurrahing and singing for temperance will
make a hypocrite out of a saint, if he don’t use money and effort at
the same time. I like a good song and a good time as much as anybody,
but I can’t learn of a single drinking man that they have reformed.
At our last meeting there was some good work _started_, by the use
of songs and speeches, and you have learned, from the report just
presented, how much lasting good they did. Money and work have done
the business, my friends; talk has helped, but alone by itself it’s
done precious little. This lesson has cost _me_ a great deal; and as
a business man, who believes that _every_ earthly interest is in some
way a business interest, I advise you to learn the same lesson for
yourselves before it is too late.”

Such a pail of cold water had never before been thrown upon Barton
hearts aglow with confidence, it struck the leader of the band so
forcibly that he rattled off into “Yankee Doodle,” to aid the meeting
in recovering its spirits; even after listening to this inspiriting
air, however, it was with a wistfulness almost desperate that the
audience scanned the countenance of Parson Wedgewell as he stepped to
the front of the platform.

“Beloved friends,” said the parson, “the result of the past year’s
work in this portion of the Lord’s vineyard has indeed been richly
blessed, and I shall ever count it as one of the precious privileges
of my life that I have been permitted to take part in it. [‘Hurrah
for the parson!’ shouted a man, who had but a moment before worn a
most lugubrious countenance.] I rejoice, not only that I have seen
precious sheaves brought to our Lord’s granary, but also because I
have beheld going into the field those who have heretofore stood idly
in the market-place, and because I have beheld the reapers themselves
receiving the reward of their labors. They have received souls for
their hire, dear friends, and I feel constrained to admit that if
each of those who came in at the eleventh hour received as much as
us, who have apparently borne the burden and heat of the day, they
were fully entitled to it by reason of the greater intelligence and
industry which they have displayed. For many years, my dear friends,
I have been among you as one sent by the Physician of souls; but it
is only within the past year that I have begun to comprehend that
the soul may be treated--very often _should_ be treated--through the
body; and that, though the fervent effectual prayer of the righteous
man availeth much, the exercise of that which was made in the likeness
and image of God is not to be idle. The mammon of unrighteousness has
been made the salvation of many, my dear friends; and it has, I verily
believe, guided toward heavenly habitations those who have applied it
to the necessities of others. But, dear brethren, the harvest truly is
plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye, therefore, the Lord of
the harvest that he will send forth laborers unto his harvest; but take
heed that ye follow the example of him, who, as he commanded us thus to
petition the throne of grace, ceased not to labor in the harvest field
himself; who fed when he preached, and healed when he exhorted.”

Harry Wainright pounded on the floor with his cane, hearing which, Tom
Adams brought his enormous hands together with great emphasis, and his
example was dutifully followed by the whole of his own family, which
filled two short side seats. Father Baguss shouted “Glory to God!” and
Deacon Jones ejaculated “That’s so!” but the hearers seemed disposed
to be critical, although the parson’s address had been couched in
language almost exclusively Scriptural. While they were engaged in
contemplation, however, old Bunley dropped a mellow cough and stepped
to the front.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said he, “it’s the style in this town, and
everywhere else, I suppose, to kick a man when he’s down, and then to
trample on him. I know _one_ man that’s been there, and knows all about
it. ’Twas his own fault he got there, and there were plenty who told
him he ought to get up; but how kicking and trampling were to help him
do it he could never see, and he made up his mind, that folks did as
they did because it suited them, not because it was going to do _him_
any good. So he’s been hating the whole townful for years, and doing
all the harm he could, not because he liked doing harm, but because
he never got a chance to do anything else. Suddenly, a couple of
gentlemen--I won’t mention names--came along, and gave the poor fellow
a hand, and gave him the first chance he’s had in years to believe in
human nature at all. And, all this time, everybody else around him was
acting in the way that this same poor fellow would have acted himself,
if he had wanted to play devil. The same couple of gentlemen went for
a good many other people, and acted in a way that you read about in
novels and the Bible (but mighty seldom see in town); and those fellows
believe in these two gentlemen, now, but they hate all the rest of you
like poison. I don’t suppose you like it, but truth is truth; you might
as well know what it is.”

Several people got up and went out, carrying very red faces with them;
but Fred Macdonald stood up and clapped his hands, and the Adams family
and Wainright helped him, while the broad boots of Father Baguss raised
a cloud of dust, which formed quite an aureole about Baguss himself as
he got up and remarked:

“Brethren and sisters: Squire Tomple hit the nail exactly on the head
when he said that hollerin’ an’ singin’ makes a hypocrite of a man
if he don’t open his pocket-book. If you don’t believe it, remember
me. If anybody ever liked his own more’n I did, he’s a curiosity. I
don’t _hate_ money a bit now, an’ I’m not goin’ to try to; but the
hardest case I ever got acquainted with was me, Zedekiah Baguss, when
I couldn’t dodge it any longer that I ought to spend money for a
feller-critter. I won’t name no names, brethren an’ sisters; but if
you’re huntin’ for any such game, don’t go to lookin’ up drunkards
until you smell around near home fust.”

“Reputation be blowed higher than a kite!” exclaimed Captain Crayme,
springing to his feet; “but I’ve got to say just a word here.
Gentlemen, I’m off my whiskey, and I’m going to stay off; but I might
be drinking yet, and have kept on forever, for all that any of you
that’s so pious and temperate ever cared. But one man thought enough of
me to come and talk to me--talk like a man, and not preach a sermon;
more than that, he not only talked--which the biggest idiot here might
have done just as well--but he stuck by me, and he brought me through.
Any of you might have done it, but none of you cared enough for me,
and yet I’m a business man, and I’ve got some property. How any _poor_
fellow down in the mud is ever to get up again, in such a place, I
don’t see; and yet Barton’s as good a town as I ever touch at.”

The interest of the meeting was departing, so were the attendants; but
the Reverend Timotheus Brown limped forward and exclaimed:

“Hear, then, the conclusion of the whole matter: ‘Not every one that
sayeth Lord, Lord, shall inherit the kingdom of heaven, but him that
doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ There has been a
blessed change wrought in this town within a year, and work has done
it all. He who taught us to say ‘Our Father,’ made of every man his
brother’s keeper, and no amount of talk can undo what He did. A few men
in our midst have recognized their duty and have done it, or are doing
it; most of them, among them him who addresses you, have learned that
the beginning is the hardest part of the work, and that the laborer
receives his hire, though never in the way in which he expects it. Much
remains to be done, not only in raising the fallen, but in reforming
the upright; and, to get a full and fair view of the latter, there is
no way so successful as to go to work for others.”

Squire Tomple announced that the meeting was still open for remarks;
but, no one else availing themselves of the privilege offered, the
evening closed with a spirited medley from the brass band. Not every
one was silent and dismal, however; as the church emptied, Tomple,
Bunley, Crupp, Wedgewell, Brown, and the other pastors came down from
the platform, and were met at the foot of the steps by Baguss and
Deacon Jones, and there was a general hand-shaking. Tom Adams stood
afar off, looking curiously and wistfully at the party, noticing which,
Parson Wedgewell danced excitedly up to him, and dragged him into the
circle; there Tom received a greeting which somehow educated him, in
two or three minutes, to a point far beyond any that his head or heart
had previously reached. Then Fred Macdonald, who had intended to avoid
any action which might seem to make him one of the “old fellows” of
the village, suddenly lost his head in some manner which he could not
explain, and hurried off, caught Sam Crayme’s arm, and destroyed such
reputation as remained to the captain along the river, by bringing
the enterprising navigator into such a circle as he had never entered
before, but in which he soon found himself as much at home as if he
had been born there. Others, too--not many in number, to be sure--but
representing most of the soul Of the village, straggled timidly up to
the group, and were informally admitted to what was not conventionally
a love-feast, but approached nearer to one than any formal gathering
could have done.

Barton has never since known a monster temperance meeting; but the few
righteous men who dwell therein have proved to their own satisfaction,
and that of certain one-time wretches, that, in a successful temperance
movement, the reform must begin among those who never drink.





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