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Heart-Histories and Life-Pictures
by T. S. Arthur
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"Suppose he robs his present employer?"

"He won't do that, I'm certain. He is too much ashamed of his conduct while in my store. It is a lesson to him. And, at any rate, I do not think a man should be hunted down for a single fault."

"No: of course not. But, when you endorse a man's character, you lead others to place confidence in him; a confidence that may be betrayed under very aggravated circumstances."

"Better that many suffer, than that one innocent man should be condemned and cast off."

"But there is no question about guilt or innocence. It was fully proved that this young man robbed you."

"Suppose it was. No doubt the temptation was very strong. I don't believe he will ever be guilty of such a thing again."

"You have the best evidence in the world that he will, in the fact that he has taken your money."

"O no, not at all. It doesn't follow, by any means, that a fault like this will be repeated. He was terribly mortified about it. That has cured him, I am certain."

"I wouldn't trust to it."

"You are too uncharitable," replied Mr. May. "For my part, I always look upon the best side of a man's character. There is good in every one. Some have their weaknesses—some are even led astray at times; but none are altogether bad. If a man falls, help him up, and start him once more fair in the world—who can say that he will again trip? Not I. The fact is, we are too hard with each other. If you brand your fellow with infamy for one little act of indiscretion, or, say crime, what hope is there for him."

"You go rather too far, Mr. May," the neighbor said, "in your condemnation of the world. No doubt there are many who are really uncharitable in their denunciations of their fellow man for a single fault. But, on the other side, I am inclined to think, that there are just as many who are equally uncharitable, in loosely passing by, out of spurious kindness, what should mark a man with just suspicion, and cause a withholding of confidence. Look at the case now before us. You feel unwilling to keep a young man about you, because he has betrayed your trust, and yet, out of kind feelings, you give him a good character, and enable him to get a situation where he may seriously wrong an unsuspecting man."

"But I am sure he will not do so."

"But what is your guarantee?"

"The impression that my act has evidently made upon him. If I had, besides hushing up the whole matter, kept him still in my store, he might again have been tempted. But the comparatively light punishment of dismissing him with a good character, will prove a salutary check upon him."

"Don't you believe it."

"I will believe it, until I see evidence to the contrary. You are too suspicious—too uncharitable, my good friend. I am always inclined to think the best of every one. Give the poor fellow another chance for his life, say I."

"I hope it may all turn out right."

"I am sure it will," returned Mr. May. "Many and many a young man is driven to ruin by having all confidence withdrawn from him, after his first error. Depend upon it, such a course is not right."

"I perfectly agree with you, Mr. May, that we should not utterly condemn and cast off a man for a single fault. But, it is one thing to bear with a fault, and encourage a failing brother man to better courses, and another to give an individual whom we know to be dishonest, a certificate of good character."

"Yes, but I am not so sure the young man we are speaking about is dishonest."

"Didn't he rob you?"

"Don't say rob. That is too hard a word. He did take a little from me; but it wasn't much, and there were peculiar circumstances."

"Are you sure that under other peculiar circumstances, he would not have taken much more from you?"

"I don't believe he would."

"I wouldn't trust him."

"You are too suspicious—too uncharitable, as I have already said. I can't be so. I always try to think the best of every one."

Finding that it was no use to talk, the neighbor said but little more on the subject.

About a year afterwards the young man's new employer, who, on the faith of Mr. May's recommendation, had placed great confidence in him, discovered that he had been robbed of several thousand dollars. The robbery was clearly traced to this clerk, who was arrested, tried, and sentenced to three years imprisonment in the Penitentiary.

"It seems that all your charity was lost on that young scoundrel, Blake," said the individual whose conversation with Mr. May has just been given.

"Poor fellow!" was the pitying reply. "I am most grievously disappointed in him. I never believed that he would turn out so badly."

"You might have known it after he had swindled you. A man who will steal a sheep, needs only to be assured of impunity, to rob the mail. The principle is the same. A rogue is a rogue, whether it be for a pin or a pound."

"Well, well—people differ in these matters. I never look at the worst side only. How could Dayton find it in his heart to send that poor fellow to the State Prison! I wouldn't have done it, if he had taken all I possess. It was downright vindictiveness in him."

"It was simple justice. He could not have done otherwise. Blake had not only wronged him, but he had violated the laws and to the laws he was bound to give him up."

"Give up a poor, erring young man, to the stern, unbending, unfeeling laws! No one is bound to do that. It is cruel, and no one is under the necessity of being cruel."

"It is simply just, Mr. May, as I view it. And, further, really more just to give up the culprit to the law he has knowingly and wilfully violated, than to let him escape its penalties."

Mr. May shook his head.

"I certainly cannot see the charity of locking up a young man for three or four years in prison, and utterly and forever disgracing him."

"It is great evil to steal?" said the neighbor.

"O, certainly—a great sin."

"And the law made for its punishment is just?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"Do you think that it really injuries a thief to lock him up in prison, and prevent him from trespassing on the property of his neighbors?"

"That I suppose depends upon circumstances. If——"

"No, but my friend, we must fix the principle yea or nay. The law that punishes theft is a good law—you admit that—very well. If the law is good, it must be because its effect is good. A thief, will, under such law, he really more benefitted by feeling its force than in escaping the penalty annexed to its infringement. No distinction can or ought to be made. The man who, in, a sane mind, deliberately takes the property of another, should be punished by the law which forbids stealing. It will have at least one good effect, if none others and that will be to make him less willing to run similar risk, and thus leave to his neighbor the peaceable possession of his goods."

"Punishment, if ever administered, should look to the good of the offender. But, what good disgracing and imprisoning a young man who has all along borne a fair character, is going to have, is more than I can tell. Blake won't be able to hold up his head among respectable people when his term has expired."

"And will, in consequence, lose his power of injuring the honest and unsuspecting. He will be viewed in his own true light, and be cast off as unworthy by a community whose confidence he has most shamefully abused."

"And so you will give an erring brother no chance for his life?"

"O yes. Every chance. But it would not be kindness to wink at his errors and leave him free to continue in the practice of them, to his own and others' injury. Having forfeited his right to the confidence of this community by trespassing upon it, let him pay the penalty of that trespass. It will be to him, doubtless, a salutary lesson. A few years of confinement in a prison will give him time for reflection and repentance; whereas, impunity in an evil course could only have strengthened his evil purposes. When he has paid the just penalty of his crime, let him go into another part of the country, and among strangers live a virtuous life, the sure reward of which is peace."

Mr. May shook his head negatively, at these remarks.

"No one errs on the side of kindness," he said, "while too many, by an opposite course, drive to ruin those whom leniency might have saved."

A short time after the occurrence of this little interview, Mr. May, on returning home one evening, found his wife in much apparent trouble.

"Has anything gone wrong, Ella?" he asked.

"Would you have believed it?" was Mrs. May's quick and excited answer. "I caught Jane in my drawer to-day, with a ten dollar bill in her hand which she had just taken out of my pocket book, that was still open."

"Why, Ella!"

"It is too true! I charged it at once upon her, and she burst into tears, and owned that she was going to take the money and keep it."

"That accounts, then, for the frequency with which you have missed small sums of money for several months past."

"Yes. That is all plain enough now. But what shall we do? I cannot think of keeping Jane any longer."

"Perhaps she will never attempt such a thing again, now that she has been discovered."

"I cannot trust her. I should never feel safe a moment. To have a thief about the house! Oh, no, That would never answer. She will have to go."

"Well, Ella, you will have to do what you think best; but you mustn't be too hard on the poor creature. You mustn't think of exposing her, and thus blasting her character. It might drive her to ruin."

"But, is it right for me, knowing what she is, to let her go quietly into another family? It is a serious matter, husband."

"I don't know that you have anything to do with that. The safest thing, in my opinion, is for you to talk seriously to Jane, and warn her of the consequences of acts such as she has been guilty of. And then let her go, trusting that she will reform."

"But there is another fault that I have discovered within a week or two past. A fault that I suspected, but was not sure about. It is a very bad one."

"What is that, Ella?"

"I do not think she is kind to the baby."

"What?"

"I have good reason for believing that she is not kind to our dear little babe. I partly suspected this for some time. More than once I have came suddenly upon her, and found our sweet pet sobbing as if his heart would break. The expression in Jane's face I could not exactly understand. Light has gradually broken in upon me, and now I am satisfied that she has abused him shamefully."

"Ella?"

"It is too true. Since my suspicions were fully aroused, I have asked Hannah about it, and she, unwillingly, has confirmed my own impressions."

"Unwillingly! It was her duty to have let you know this voluntarily. Treat my little angel Charley unkindly! The wretch! She doesn't remain in this house a day longer."

"So I have fully determined. I am afraid that Jane has a wretched disposition. It is bad enough to steal, but to ill-treat a helpless, innocent babe, is fiend-like."

Jane was accordingly dismissed.

"Poor creature!" said Mrs. May, after Jane had left the house; "I feel sorry for her. She is, after all, the worst enemy to herself. I don't know what will become of her."

"She'll get a place somewhere."

"Yes, I suppose so. But, I hope she won't refer to me for her character. I don't know what I should say, if she did."

"If I couldn't say any good, I wouldn't say any harm, Ella. It's rather a serious matter to break down the character of a poor girl."

"I know it is; for that is all they have to depend upon. I shall have to smooth it over some how, I suppose."

"Yes: put the best face you can upon it. I have no doubt but she will do better in another place."

On the next day, sure enough, a lady called to ask about the character of Jane.

"How long has she been with you?" was one of the first questions asked.

"About six months," replied Mrs. May.

"In the capacity of nurse, I think she told me?"

"Yes. She was my nurse."

"Was she faithful?"

This was a trying question. But it had to be answered promptly, and it was so answered.

"Yes, I think I may call her quite a faithful nurse. She never refused to carry my little boy out; and always kept him very clean."

"She kept him nice, did she? Well, that is a recommendation. And I want somebody who will not be above taking my baby into the street. But how is her temper?"

"A little warm sometimes. But then, you know, perfection is not to be attained any where."

"No, that is very true. You think her a very good nurse?"

"Yes, quite equal to the general run."

"I thank you very kindly," said the lady rising. "I hope I shall find, in Jane, a nurse to my liking."

"I certainly hope so," replied Mrs. May, as she attended her to the door.

"What do you think?" said Mrs. May to her husband, when he returned in the evening.—"That Jane had the assurance to send a lady here to inquire about her character."

"She is a pretty cool piece of goods, I should say. But, I suppose she trusted to your known kind feelings, not to expose her."

"No doubt that was the reason. But, I can tell her that I was strongly tempted to speak out the plain truth. Indeed, I could hardly contain myself when the lady told me that she wanted her to nurse a little infant. I thought of dear Charley, and how she had neglected and abused him—the wretched creature! But I restrained myself, and gave her as good a character as I could."

"That was right. We should not let our indignant feelings govern us in matters of this kind. We can never err on the side of kindness."

"No, I am sure we cannot."

Mrs. Campbell, the lady who had called upon Mrs. May, felt quite certain that, in obtaining Jane for a nurse, she had been fortunate. She gave, confidently, to her care, a babe seven months old. At first, from a mother's natural instinct, she kept her eye upon Jane; but every thing going on right, she soon ceased to observe her closely. This was noted by the nurse, who began to breathe with more freedom. Up to this time, the child placed in her charge had received the kindest attentions. Now, however, her natural indifference led her to neglect him in various little ways, unnoticed by the mother, but felt by the infant. Temptations were also thrown in her way by the thoughtless exposure of money and jewelry. Mrs. Campbell supposed, of course, that she was honest, or she would have been notified of the fact by Mrs. May, of whom she had inquired Jane's character; and, therefore, never thought of being on her guard in this respect. Occasionally he could not help thinking that there ought to be more money in her purse than there was. But she did not suffer this thought to rise into a suspicion of unfair dealing against any one. The loss of a costly breast pin, the gift of a mother long since passed into the invisible world, next worried her mind; but, even this did not cause her to suspect that any thing was wrong with her nurse.

This the time passed on, many little losses of money and valued articles disturbing and troubling the mind of Mrs. Campbell, until it became necessary to wean her babe. This duty was assigned to Jane, who took the infant to sleep with her. On the first night, it cried for several hours—in fact, did not permit Jane to get more than a few minutes sleep at a time all night. Her patience was tried severely. Sometimes she would hold the distressed child with angry violence to her bosom, while it screamed with renewed energy; and then, finding that it still continued to cry, toss it from her upon the bed, and let it lie, still screaming, until fear lest its mother should be tempted to come to her distressed babe, would cause her again to take it to her arms. A hard time had that poor child of it on that first night of its most painful experience in the world. It was scolded, shaken, and even whipped by the unfeeling nurse, until, at last, worn out nature yielded, and sleep threw its protecting mantle over the wearied babe.

"How did you get along with Henry?" was the mother's eager question, as she entered Jane's room soon after daylight.

"O very well, ma'am," returned Jane.

"I heard him cry dreadfully in the night. Several times I thought I would come in and take him."

"Yes, ma'am, he did scream once or twice very hard; but he soon gave up, and has long slept as soundly as you now see him."

"Dear little fellow!" murmured the mother in a trembling voice. She stooped down and kissed him tenderly—tears were in her eyes.

On the next night, Henry screamed again for several hours. Jane, had she felt an affection for the child, and, from that affection been led to soothe it with tenderness, might easily have lulled it into quiet; but her ill-nature disturbed the child. After worrying with it a long time, she threw it from her with violence, exclaiming as she did so—

"I'll fix you to-morrow night! There'll be no more of this. They needn't think I'm going to worry out my life for their cross-grained brat."

She stopped. For the babe had suddenly ceased crying. Lifting it up, quickly, she perceived, by the light of the lamp, that its face was very white, and its lips blue. In alarm, she picked it up and sprang from the bed. A little water thrown into its face, soon revived it. But the child did not cry again, and soon fell away into sleep. For a long time Jane sat partly up in bed, leaning over on her arm, and looking into little Henry's face. He breathed freely, and seemed to be as well as ever. She did not wake until morning. When she did, she found the mother bending over her, and gazing earnestly down into the face of her sleeping babe. The incident that had occurred in the night glanced through her mind, and caused her to rise up and look anxiously at the child. Its sweet, placid face, at once reassured her.

"He slept better last night," remarked Mrs. Campbell.

"O, yes. He didn't cry any at all, hardly."

"Heaven bless him!" murmured the mother, bending over and kissing him softly.

On the next morning, when she awoke, Mrs. Campbell felt a strange uneasiness about her child. Without waiting to dress herself, she went softly over to the room where Jane slept. It was only a little after day-light. She found both the child and nurse asleep. There was something in the atmosphere of the room that oppressed her lungs, and something peculiar in its odor. Without disturbing Jane, she stood for several minutes looking into the face of Henry. Something about it troubled her. It was not so calm as usual, nor had his skin that white transparency so peculiar to a babe.

"Jane," she at length said, laying her hand upon the nurse.

Jane roused up.

"How did Henry get along last night, Jane?"

"Very well, indeed, ma'am; he did not cry at all."

"Do you think he looks well?"

Jane turned her eyes to the face of the child, and regarded it for some time.

"O, yes, ma'am, he looks very well; he has been sleeping sound all night."

Thus assured, Mrs. Campbell regarded Henry for a few minutes longer, and then left the room. But her heart was not at ease. There was a weight upon it, and it labored in its office heavily.

"Still asleep," she said, about an hour after, coming into Jane's room. "It is not usual for him to sleep so long in the morning."

Jane turned away from the penetrating glance of the mother, and remarked, indifferently:

"He has been worried out for the last two nights. That is the reason, I suppose."

Mrs. Campbell said no more, but lifted the child in her arms, and carried it to her own chamber. There she endeavored to awaken it, but, to her alarm, she found that it still slept heavily in spite of all her efforts.

Running down into the parlor with it, where her husband sat reading the morning papers, she exclaimed:

"Oh, Henry! I'm afraid that Jane has been giving this child something to make him sleep. See! I cannot awake him. Something is wrong, depend upon it!"

Mr. Campbell took the babe and endeavored to arouse him, but without effect.

"Call her down here," he then said, in a quick, resolute voice.

Jane was called down.

"What have you given this child?" asked Mr. Campbell, peremptorily.

"Nothing," was the positive answer. "What could I have given him?"

"Call the waiter."

Jane left the room, and in a moment after the waiter entered.

"Go for Doctor B—— as fast as you can, and say to him I must see him immediately."

The waiter left the house in great haste. In about twenty minutes Dr. B—— arrived.

"Is there any thing wrong about this child?" Mr. Campbell asked, placing little Henry in the doctor's arms.

"There is," was replied, after the lapse of about half a minute. "What have you been giving it."

"Nothing. But we are afraid the nurse has."

"Somebody has been giving it a powerful anodyne, that is certain. This is no natural sleep. Where is the nurse? let me see her."

Jane was sent for, but word was soon brought that she was not to be found. She had, in fact, bundled up her clothes, and hastily and quietly left the house. This confirmed the worst fears of both parents and physician. But, if any doubt remained, a vial of laudanum and a spoon, found in the washstand drawer in Jane's room, dispelled it.

Then most prompt and active treatment was resorted to by Doctor B—— in the hope of saving the child. But his anxious efforts were in vain. The deadly narcotic had taken entire possession of the whole system; had, in fact, usurped the seat of life, and was poisoning its very fountain. At day dawn on the next morning the flickering lamp went out, and the sad parents looked their last look upon their living child.

"I have heard most dreadful news," Mrs. May said to her husband, on his return home that day.

"You have! What is it?"

"Jane has poisoned Mrs. Campbell's child!"

"Ella!" and Mr. May started from his chair.

"It is true. She had it to wean, and gave it such a dose of laudanum, that it died."

"Dreadful! What have they done with her?"

"She can't be found, I am told."

"You recommended her to Mrs. Campbell."

"Yes. But I didn't believe she was wicked enough for that."

"Though it is true she ill-treated little Charley, and we knew it. I don't see how you can ever forgive yourself. I am sure that I don't feel like ever again looking Mr. Campbell in the face."

"But, Mr. May, you know very well that you didn't want me to say any thing against Jane to hurt her character."

"True. And it is hard to injure a poor fellow creature by blazoning her faults about. But I had no idea that Jane was such a wretch!"

"We knew that she would steal, and that she was unkind to children; and yet, we agreed to recommend her to Mrs. Campbell."

"But it was purely out of kind feelings for the girl, Ella."

"Yes. But is that genuine kindness? Is it real charity? I fear not."

Mr. May was silent. The questions probed him to the quick. Let every one who is good-hearted in the sense that Mr. May was, ask seriously the same questions.



SLOW AND SURE.

"YOU'D better take the whole case. These goods will sell as fast as they can be measured off."

The young man to whom this was said by the polite and active partner in a certain jobbing house in Philadelphia, shook his head and replied firmly—

"No, Mr. Johnson. Three pieces are enough for my sales. If they go off quickly, I can easily get more."

"I don't know about that, Mr. Watson," replied the jobber. "I shall be greatly mistaken if we have a case of these goods left by the end of a week. Every one who looks at them, buys. Miller bought two whole cases this morning. In the original packages, we sell them at a half cent per yard lower than by the piece."

"If they are gone, I can buy something else," said the cautious purchaser.

"Then you won't let me sell you a case?"

"No, sir."

"You buy too cautiously," said Johnson.

"Do you think so?"

"I know so. The fact is, I can sell some of your neighbors as much in an hour as I can sell you in a week. We jobbers would starve if there were no more active men in the trade than you are, friend Watson."

Watson smiled in a quiet, self-satisfied way as he replied—

"The number of wholesale dealers might be diminished; but failures among them would be of less frequent occurrence. Slow and sure, is my motto."

"Slow and sure don't make much headway in these times. Enterprise is the word. A man has to be swift-footed to keep up with the general movement."

"I don't expect to get rich in a day," said Watson.

"You'll hardly be disappointed in your expectation," remarked Johnson, a little sarcastically. His customer did not notice the feeling his tones expressed, but went on to select a piece or two of goods, here and there, from various packages, as the styles happened to suit him.

"Five per cent. off for cash, I suppose," said Watson, after completing his purchase.

"Oh, certainly," replied the dealer. "Do you wish to cash the bill?"

"Yes; I wish to do a cash business as far as I can. It is rather slow work at first; but it is safest, and sure to come out right in the end."

"You're behind the times, Watson," said Johnson, shaking his head. "Tell me—who can do the most profitable business, a man with a capital of five thousand dollars, or a man with twenty thousand?"

"The latter, of course."

"Very well. Don't you understand that credit is capital?"

"It isn't cash capital."

"What is the difference, pray, between the profit on ten thousand dollars' worth of goods purchased on time or purchased for cash?"

"Just five hundred dollars," said Watson.

"How do you make that out?" The jobber did not see the meaning of his customer.

"You discount five per cent. for cash, don't you?" replied Watson, smiling.

"True. But, if you don't happen to have the ten thousand dollars cash, at the time you wish to make a purchase, don't you see what an advantage credit gives you? Estimate the profit at twenty per cent. on a cash purchase, and your credit enables you to make fifteen per cent. where you would have made nothing."

"All very good theory," said Watson. "It looks beautiful on paper. Thousands have figured themselves out rich in this way, but, alas! discovered themselves poor in the end. If all would work just right—if the thousands of dollars of goods bought on credit would invariably sell at good profit and in time to meet the purchase notes, then your credit business would be first rate. But, my little observation tells me that this isn't always the case—that your large credit men are forever on the street, money hunting, instead of in their stores looking after their business. Instead of getting discounts that add to their profits, they are constantly suffering discounts of the other kind; and, too often, these, and the accumulating stock of unsaleable goods—the consequence of credit temptations in purchasing—reduce the fifteen per cent. you speak of down to ten, and even five per cent. A large business makes large store-expenses; and these eat away a serious amount of small profits on large sales. Better sell twenty thousand dollars' worth of goods at twenty per cent. profit, than eighty thousand at five per cent. You can do it with less labor, less anxiety, and at less cost for rent and clerk hire. At least, Mr. Johnson, this is my mode of reasoning."

"Well, plod along," replied Johnson. "Little boats keep near the shore. But, let me tell you, my young friend, your mind is rather too limited for a merchant of this day. There is Mortimer, who began business about the time you did. How much do you think he has made by a good credit?"

"I'm sure I don't know."

"Fifty thousand dollars."

"And by the next turn of fortune's wheel, may lose it all."

"Not he. Mortimer, though young, is too shrewd a merchant for that. Do you know that he made ten thousand by the late rise in cotton; and all without touching a dollar in his business?"

"I heard something of it. But, suppose prices had receded instead of advancing? What of this good credit, then?"

"You're too timid—too prudent, Watson," said the merchant, "and will be left behind in the race for prosperity by men of half your ability."

"No matter; I will be content," was the reply of Watson.

It happened, a short time after this little interchange of views on business matters, that Watson met the daughter of Mr. Johnson in a company where he chanced to be. She was an accomplished and interesting young woman, and pleased Watson particularly; and it is but truth to say, that she was equally well pleased with him.

The father, who was present, saw, with a slight feeling of disapprobation, the lively conversation that passed between the young man and his daughter; and when an occasion offered, a day or two afterwards, made it a point to refer to him in a way to give the impression that he held him in light estimation. Flora, that was the daughter's name, did not appear to notice his remark. One evening, not long after this, as the family of Mr. Johnson were about leaving the tea-table, where they had remained later than usual, a domestic announced that there was a gentleman in the parlor.

"Who is it?" inquired Flora.

"Mr. Mortimer," was answered.

An expression of dislike came into the face of Flora, as she said—

"He didn't ask for me?"

"Yes," was the servant's reply.

"Tell him that I'm engaged, Nancy."

"No, no!" said Mr. Johnson, quickly. "This would not be right. Are you engaged?"

"That means, father, that I don't wish to see him; and he will so understand me."

"Don't wish to see him? Why not?"

"Because I don't like him."

"Don't like him?" Mr. Johnson's manner was slightly impatient. "Perhaps you don't know him."

The way in which her father spoke, rather embarrassed Flora. She cast down her eye and stood for a few moments.

"Tell Mr. Mortimer that I will see him in a little while," she then said, and, as the domestic retired to give the answer, she ascended to her chamber to make some slight additions to her toilet.

To meet the young man by constraint, as it were, was only to increase in Flora's mind the dislike she had expressed. So coldly and formally was Mortimer received, that he found his visit rather unpleasant than agreeable, and retired, after sitting an hour, somewhat puzzled as to the real estimation in which he was held by the lady, for whom he felt more than a slight preference.

Mr. Johnson was very much inclined to estimate others by a money-standard of valuation. A man was a man, in his eyes, when he possessed those qualities of mind that would enable him to make his way in the world—in other words, to get rich. It was this ability in Mortimer that elevated him in his regard, and produced a feeling of pleasure when he saw him inclined to pay attention to his daughter. And it was the apparent want of this ability in Watson, that caused him to be lightly esteemed.

Men like Mr. Johnson are never very wise in their estimates of character; nor do they usually adopt the best means of attaining their ends when they meet with opposition. This was illustrated in the present case. Mortimer was frequently referred to in the presence of Flora, and praised in the highest terms; while the bare mention of Watson's name was sure to occasion a series of disparaging remarks. The effect was just the opposite of what was intended. The more her father said in favor of the thrifty young merchant, the stronger was the repugnance felt towards him by Flora; and the more he had to say against Watson, the better she liked him. This went on until there came a formal application from Mortimer for the hand of Flora. It was made to Mr. Johnson first, who replied to the young man that if he could win the maiden's favor, he had his full approval. But to win the maiden's favor was not so easy a task, as the young man soon found. His offered hand was firmly declined.

"Am I to consider your present decision as final?" said the young man, in surprise and disappointment.

"I wish you to do so, Mr. Mortimer," said Flora.

"Your father approves my suit," said he. "I have his full consent to make you this offer of my hand."

"I cannot but feel flattered at your preference," returned Flora; "but, to accept your offer, would not be just either to you or myself. I, therefore, wish you to understand me as being entirely in earnest."

This closed the interview and definitely settled the question. When Mr. Johnson learned that the offer of Mortimer had been declined, he was very angry with his daughter, and, in the passionate excitement of his feelings, committed a piece of folly for which he felt an immediate sense of shame and regret.

The interview between Mr. Mortimer and Flora took place during the afternoon, and Mr. Johnson learned the result from a note received from the disappointed young man, just as he was about leaving his store to return home. Flora did not join the family at the tea-table, on that evening, for her mind was a good deal disturbed, and she wished to regain her calmness and self-possession before meeting her father.

Mr. Johnson was sitting in a moody and angry state of mind about an hour after supper, when a domestic came into the room and said that Mr. Watson was in the parlor.

"What does he want here?" asked Mr. Johnson, in a rough, excited voice.

"He asked for Miss Flora," returned the servant.

"Where is she?"

"In her room."

"Well, let her stay there. I'll see him myself."

And without taking time for reflection, Mr. Johnson descended to the parlor.

"Mr. Watson," said he, coldly, as the young man arose and advanced towards him.

His manner caused the visitor to pause, and let the hand he had extended fall to his side.

"Well, what is your wish?" asked Mr. Johnson. He looked with knit brows into Watson's face.

"I have called to see your daughter Flora," returned the young man, calmly.

"Then, I wish you to understand that your call is not agreeable," said the father of the young lady, with great rudeness of manner.

"Not agreeable to whom?" asked Watson, manifesting no excitement.

"Not agreeable to me," replied Mr. Johnson. "Nor agreeable to any one in this house."

"Do you speak for your daughter?" inquired the young man.

"I have a right to speak for her, if any one has," was the evasive answer.

Watson bowed respectfully, and, without a word more, retired from the house.

The calm dignity with which he had received the rough treatment of Mr. Johnson, rebuked the latter, and added a feeling of shame to his other causes of mental disquietude.

On the next day Flora received a letter from Watson, in part in these words—

"I called, last evening, but was not so fortunate as to see you. Your father met me in the parlor, and on learning that my visit was to you, desired me not to come again. This circumstance makes it imperative on me to declare what might have been sometime longer delayed—my sincere regard for you. If you feel towards me as your father does, then I have not a word more to say; but I do not believe this, and, therefore, I cannot let his disapproval, in a matter so intimately concerning my happiness, and it may be yours, influence me to the formation of a hasty decision. I deeply regret your father's state of feeling. His full approval of my suit, next to yours, I feel to be in every way desirable.

"But, why need I multiply words? Again, I declare that I feel for you a sincere affection. If you can return this, say so with as little delay as possible; and if you cannot, be equally frank with me."

Watson did not err in his belief that Flora reciprocated his tender sentiments; nor was he kept long in suspense. She made an early reply, avowing her own attachment, but urging him; for her sake, to do all in his power to overcome her father's prejudices. But this was no easy task. In the end, however, Mr. Johnson, who saw, too plainly, that opposition on his part would be of no avail, yielded a kind of forced consent that the plodding, behind-the-age young merchant, should lead Flora to the altar. That his daughter should be content with such a man, was to him a source of deep mortification. His own expectations in regard to her had been of a far higher character.

"He'll never set the world on fire;" "A man of no enterprise;" "A dull plodder;" with similar allusions to his son-in-law, were overheard by Mr. Johnson on the night of the wedding party, and added no little to the ill-concealed chagrin from which he suffered. They were made by individuals who belonged to the new school of business men, of whom Mortimer was a representative. He, too, was present. His disappointment in not obtaining the hand of Flora, had been solaced in the favor of one whose social standing and money-value was regarded as considerably above that of the maiden who had declined the offer of his hand. He saw Flora given to another without a feeling of regret. A few months afterwards, he married the daughter of a gentleman who considered himself fortunate in obtaining a son-in-law that promised to be one of the richest men in the city.

It was with a very poor grace that Mr. Johnson bore his disappointment; so poor, that he scarcely treated the husband of his daughter with becoming respect. To add to his uncomfortable feelings by contrast, Mortimer built himself a splendid dwelling almost beside the modest residence of Mr. Watson, and after furnishing it in the most costly and elegant style, gave a grand entertainment. Invitations to this were not extended to either Mr. Johnson's family or to that of his son-in-law—an omission that was particularly galling to the former.

A few weeks subsequent to this, Mr. Johnson stood beside Mr. Watson in an auction room. To the latter a sample of new goods, just introduced, was knocked down, and when asked by the auctioneer how many cases he would take, he replied "Two."

"Say ten," whispered Mr. Johnson in his ear.

"Two cases are enough for my sales," quietly returned the young man.

"But they're a great bargain. You can sell them at an advance," urged Mr. Johnson.

"Perhaps so. But I'd rather not go out of my regular line of business."

By this time, the auctioneer's repeated question of "Who'll take another case?" had been responded to by half a dozen voices, and the lot of goods was gone.

"You're too prudent," said Mr. Johnson, with some impatience in his manner.

"No," replied the young man, with his usual calm tone and quiet smile. "Slow and sure—that is my motto. I only buy the quantity of an article that I am pretty sure will sell. Then I get a certain profit, and am not troubled with paying for goods that are lying on my shelves and depreciating in value daily."

"But these wouldn't have lain on your shelves. You could have sold them at a quarter of a cent advance to-morrow, and thus cleared sixty or seventy dollars."

"That is mere speculation."

"Call it what you will; it makes no difference. The chance of making a good operation was before you, and you did not improve it. You will never get along at your snail's pace."

There was, in the voice of Mr. Johnson, a tone of contempt that stung Watson more than any previous remark or, action of his father-in-law. Thrown, for a moment, off his guard, he replied with some warmth—

"You may be sure of one thing, at least."

"What?"

"That I shall never embarrass you with any of my fine operations."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Mr. Johnson.

"Time will explain the remark," replied Watson, turning away, and retiring from the auction room.

A coolness of some months was the consequence of this little interview.

Time proves all things. At the end of fifteen years, Mortimer, who had gone on in the way he had begun, was reputed to be worth two hundred thousand dollars. Every thing he touched turned to money; at least, so it appeared. His whole conversation was touching handsome operations in trade; and not a day passed in which he had not some story of gains to tell. Yet, with all his heavy accumulations, he was always engaged in money raising, and his line of discounts was enormous. Such a thing as proper attention to business was almost out of the question, for nearly his whole time was taken up in financiering—and some of his financial schemes were on a pretty grand scale. Watson, on the other hand, had kept plodding along in the old way, making his regular business purchases, and gradually extending his operations, as his profits, changing into capital, enabled him to do so. He was not anxious to get rich fast; at least, not so anxious as to suffer himself to be tempted from a safe and prudent course; and was, therefore, content to do well. By this time, his father-in-law began to understand him a little better than at first, and to appreciate him more highly. On more than one occasion, he had been in want of a few thousand dollars in an emergency, when the check of Watson promptly supplied the pressing need.

As to the real ability of Watson, few were apprised, for he never made a display for the sake of establishing a credit. But it was known to some, that he generally had a comfortable balance in the bank, and to others that he never exchanged notes, nor asked an endorser on his business paper. He always purchased for cash, and thus obtained his goods from five to seven per cent cheaper than his neighbors; and rarely put his business paper in bank for discount at a longer date than sixty days. Under this system, his profits were, usually, ten per cent. more than the profits of many who were engaged in the same branch of trade. His credit was so good, that the bank where he kept his account readily gave him all the money he asked on his regular paper, without requiring other endorsements; while many of his more dashing neighbors, who were doing half as much business again, were often obliged to go upon the street to raise money at from one to two per cent. a month. Moreover, as he was always to be found at his store, and ready to give his personal attention to customers, he was able to make his own discriminations and to form his own estimates of men—and these were generally correct. The result of this was, that he gradually attracted a class of dealers who were substantial men; and, in consequence, was little troubled with bad sales.

Up to this time, there had been but few changes in the external domestic arrangements of Mr. Watson. He had moved twice, and, each time, into a larger house. His increasing family made this necessary. But, while all was comfortable and even elegant in his dwelling, there was no display whatever.

One day, about this period, as Watson was walking with his father-in-law, they both paused to look at a handsome house that was going up in a fashionable part of Walnut street. By the side of it was a large building lot.

"I have about made up my mind to buy this lot," remarked Watson.

"You?" Mr. Johnson spoke in a tone of surprise.

"Yes. The price is ten thousand dollars. Rather high; but I like the location."

"What will you do with it?" inquired Mr. Johnson.

"Build upon it."

"As an investment?"

"No. I want a dwelling for myself."

"Indeed! I was not aware that you had any such intentions."

"Oh, yes. I have always intended to build a house so soon as I felt able to do it according to my own fancy."

Mr. Johnson felt a good deal surprised at this. No more was said, and the two men walked on.

"How's this? For sale!" said Mr. Johnson. They were opposite the elegant dwelling of Mr. Mortimer, upon which was posted a hand-bill setting forth that the property was for sale.

"So it seems," was Watson's quiet answer.

"Why should he sell out?" added Mr. Johnson. "Perhaps he is going to Europe to make a tour with his family," he suggested.

"It is more probable," said Watson, "that he has got to the end of his rope."

"What do you mean by that remark?"

"Is obliged to sell in order to save himself."

"Oh, no! Mortimer is rich."

"So it is said. But I never call a man rich whose paper is floating about by thousands on the street seeking purchasers at two per cent. a month."

Just then the carriage of Mortimer drove up to his door, and Mrs. Mortimer descended to the pavement and passed into the house. Her face was pale, and had a look of deep distress. It was several years since Mr. Johnson remembered to have seen her, and he was almost startled at the painful change which had taken place.

A little while afterwards he looked upon the cheerful, smiling face of his daughter Flora, and there arose in his heart, almost involuntarily, an emotion of thankfulness that she was not the wife of Mortimer. Could he have seen what passed a few hours afterwards, in the dwelling of the latter, he would have been more thankful than ever.

It was after eleven o'clock when Mortimer returned home that night. He had been away since morning. It was rarely that he dined with his family, but usually came home early in the evening. Since seven o'clock, the tea-table had been standing in the floor, awaiting his return. At eight o'clock, as he was still absent, supper was served to the children, who, soon after, retired for the night. It was after eleven o'clock as we have said, before Mortimer returned. His face was pale and haggard. He entered quietly, by means of his night-key, and went noiselessly up to his chamber. He found his wife lying across the bed, where, wearied with watching, she had thrown herself and fallen asleep. For a few moments he stood looking at her, with a face in which agony and affection were blended. Then he clasped his hands suddenly against his temples, and groaned aloud. That groan penetrated the ears of his sleeping wife, who started up with an exclamation of alarm, as her eyes saw the gesture and expression of her husband.

"Oh, Henry! what is the matter? Where have you been? Why do you look so?" she eagerly inquired.

Mortimer did not reply; but continued standing like a statue of despair.

"Henry! Henry!" cried his wife, springing towards him, and laying her hands upon his arm. "Dear husband! what is the matter?"

"Ruined! Ruined!" now came hoarsely from the lips of Mortimer, and, with another deep groan, he threw himself on a sofa, and wrung his hands in uncontrollable anguish.

"Oh, Henry! speak! What does this mean?" said his wife, the tears now gushing from her eyes. "Tell me what has happened."

But, "Ruined! Ruined!" was all the wretched man would say for a long time. At last, however, he made a few vague explanations, to the effect that he would be compelled to stop payment on the next day.

"I thought," said Mrs. Mortimer, "that the sale of this house was to afford you all the money you needed."

"It is not sold yet," was all his reply to this. He did not explain that it was under a heavy mortgage, and that, even if sold, the amount realized would be a trifle compared with his need on the following day. During the greater part of the night, Mortimer walked the floor of his chamber; and, for a portion of the time, his wife moved like a shadow by his side. But few words passed between them.

When the day broke, Mrs. Mortimer was lying on the bed, asleep. Tears were on her cheeks. In a crib, beside her, was a fair-haired child, two years old, breathing sweetly in his innocent slumber; and over this crib bent the husband and father. His face was now calm, but very pale, and its expression of sadness, as he gazed upon his sleeping child, was heart-touching. For many minutes he stood over the unconscious slumberer; then stooping down, he touched its forehead lightly with his lips, while a low sigh struggled up from his bosom. Turning, then, his eyes upon his wife, he gazed at her for some moments, with a sad, pitying look. He was bending to kiss her, when a movement, as if she were about to awaken, caused him to step back, and stand holding his breath, as if he feared the very sound would disturb her. She did not open her eyes, however, but turned over, with a low moan of suffering, and an indistinct murmur of his name.

Mortimer did not again approach the bed-side, but stepped noiselessly to the chamber door, and passed into the next room, where three children, who made up the full number of his household treasures, were buried in tranquil sleep. Long he did not linger here. A hurried glance was taken of each beloved face, and a kiss laid lightly upon the lips of each. Then he left the room, moving down the stairs with a step of fear. A moment or two more, and he was beyond the threshold of his dwelling.

When Mrs. Mortimer started up from unquiet slumber, as the first beams of the morning sun fell upon her face, she looked around, eagerly, for her husband. Not seeing him, she called his name. No answer was received, and she sprung from the bed. As she did so, a letter placed conspicuously on the bureau met her eyes. Eagerly breaking the seal, she read this brief sentence:

"Circumstances make it necessary for me to leave the city by the earliest conveyance. Say not a word of this to any one—not even to your father. My safety depends on your silence. I will write to you in a little while. May Heaven give you strength to bear the trials through which you are about to pass!"

But for the instant fear for her husband, which this communication brought into the mind of Mrs. Mortimer, the shock would have rendered her insensible. He was in danger, and upon her discretion depended his safety. This gave her strength for the moment. Her first act was to destroy the note. Next she strove to repress the wild throbbings of her heart, and to assume a calm exterior. Vain efforts! She was too weak for the trial; and who can wonder that she was?

Mr. Johnson was sitting in his store about half past three o'clock that afternoon, when a man came in and asked him for the payment of a note of five thousand dollars. He was a Notary.

"A protest!" exclaimed Mr. Johnson, in astonishment. "What does this mean?"

"I don't understand this," said he, after a moment or two. "I have no paper out for that amount falling due to-day. Let me see it?"

The note was handed to him.

"It's a forgery!" said he, promptly. "To whom is it payable?" he added. "To Mortimer, as I live!"

And he handed it back to the Notary, who departed.

Soon after he saw the father-in-law of Mortimer go hurriedly past his store. A glimpse of his countenance showed that he was strongly agitated.

"Have you heard the news?" asked his son-in-law, coming in, half an hour afterwards.

"What?"

"Mortimer has been detected in a forgery!"

"Upon whom?"

"His father-in-law."

"He has forged my name also."

"He has!"

"Yes. A note for five thousand dollars was presented to me by the Notary a little while ago."

"Is it possible? But this is no loss to you."

"If he has resorted to forgery to sustain himself," replied Mr. Johnson, looking serious, "his affairs are, of course, in a desperate condition."

"Of course."

"I am on his paper to at least twenty thousand dollars."

"You!"

"Such, I am sorry to say, is the case. And to meet that paper will try me severely. Oh, dear! How little I dreamed of this! I thought him one of the soundest men in the city."

"I am pained to hear that you are so deeply involved," said Mr. Watson. "But, do not let it trouble you too much. I will defer my building intentions to another time, and let you have whatever money you may need."

Mr. Johnson made no answer. His eyes were upon the floor and his thoughts away back to the time when he had suffered the great disappointment of seeing his daughter marry the slow, plodding Watson, instead of becoming the wife of the enterprising Mortimer.

"I will try, my son," said he, at length, in a subdued voice, "to get through without drawing upon you too largely. Ah, me! How blind I have been."

"You may depend on me for at least twenty thousand dollars," replied Watson, cheerfully; "and for even more, if it is needed."

It was soon known that Mortimer had committed extensive forgeries upon various persons, and that he had left the city. Officers were immediately despatched for his arrest, and in a few days he was brought back as a criminal. In his ruin, many others were involved. Among these was his father-in-law, who was stripped of every dollar in his old age.

"Slow and sure—slow and sure. Yes, Watson was right." Thus mused Mr. Johnson, a few months afterwards, on hearing that Mortimer was arraigned before the criminal court, to stand his trial for forgery. "It is the safest and the best way, and certainly leads to prosperity. Ah, me! How are we drawn aside into false ways through our eagerness to obtain wealth by a nearer road than that of patient industry in legitimate trade. Where one is successful, a dozen are ruined by this error. Slow and sure! Yes, that is the true doctrine. Watson was right, as the result has proved. Happy for me that his was a better experiment than that of the envied Mortimer!"



THE SCHOOL GIRL.

"WHERE now?" said Frederick Williams to his friend Charles Lawson, on entering his own office and finding the latter, carpet-bag in hand, awaiting his arrival.

"Off for a day or two on a little business affair," replied Lawson.

"Business! What have you to do with business?"

"Not ordinary, vulgar business," returned Lawson with a slight toss of the head and an expression of contempt.

"Oh! It's of a peculiar nature?"

"It is—very peculiar; and, moreover, I want the good offices of a friend, to enable me the more certainly to accomplish my purposes."

"Come! sit down and explain yourself," said Williams.

"Haven't a moment to spare. The boat goes in half an hour."

"What boat?"

"The New Haven boat. So come, go along with me to the slip, and we'll talk the matter over by the way."

"I'm all attention," said Williams, as the two young men stepped forth upon the pavement.

"Well, you must know," began Lawson, "that I have a first rate love affair on my hands."

"You!"

"Now don't smile; but hear me."

"Go on—I'm all attention."

"You know old Everett?"

"Thomas Everett, the silk importer?"

"The same."

"I know something about him."

"You know, I presume, that he has a pretty fair looking daughter?"

"And I know," replied Williams, "that when 'pretty fair looking' is said, pretty much all is said in her favor."

"Not by a great deal," was the decided answer of Lawson.

"Pray what is there beyond this that a man can call attractive?"

"Her father's money."

"I didn't think of that."

"Didn't you?"

"No. But it would take the saving influence of a pretty large sum to give her a marriageable merit in my eyes."

"Gold hides a multitude of defects, you know, Fred."

"It does; but it has to be heaped up very high to cover a wife's defects, if they be as radical as those in Caroline Everett. Why, to speak out the plain, homespun truth, the girl's a fool!"

"She isn't over bright, Fred, I know," replied Lawson. "But to call her a fool, is to use rather a broad assertion."

"She certainly hasn't good common sense. I would be ashamed of her in company a dozen times a day if she were any thing to me."

"She's young, you know, Fred."

"Yes, a young and silly girl."

"Just silly enough for my purpose. But, she will grow older and wiser, you know. Young and silly is a very good fault."

"Where is she now?"

"At a boarding school some thirty miles from New Haven. Do you know why her father sent her there?"

"No."

"She would meet me on her way to and from school while in the city, and the old gentleman had, I presume, some objections to me as a son-in-law."

"And not without reason," replied Williams.

"I could not have asked him to do a thing more consonant with my wishes," continued Lawson. "Caroline told me where she was going, and I was not long in making a visit to the neighborhood. Great attention is paid to physical development in the school, and the young ladies are required to walk, daily, in the open air, amid the beautiful, romantic, and secluded scenery by which the place is surrounded. They walk alone, or in company, as suits their fancies. Caroline chose to walk alone when I was near at hand; and we met in a certain retired glen, where the sweet quiet of nature was broken only by the dreamy murmur of a silvery stream, and there we talked of love. It is not in the heart of a woman to withstand a scene like this. I told, in burning words, my passion, and she hearkened and was won." Lawson paused for some moments; but, as Williams made no remark, he continued—

"It is hopeless to think of gaining her father's consent to a marriage. He is pence-proud, and I, as you know, am penniless."

"I do not think he would be likely to fancy you for a son-in-law," said Williams.

"I have the best of reasons, for knowing that he would not. He has already spoken of me to his daughter in very severe terms."

"As she has informed you?"

"Yes. But, like a sensible girl, she prefers consulting her own taste in matters of the heart."

"A very sensible girl, certainly!"

"Isn't she! Well, as delays are dangerous, I have made up my mind to consummate this business as quickly as possible. You know how hard pressed I am in certain quarters, and how necessary it is that I should get my pecuniary matters in a more stable position. In a word, then, my business, on the present occasion, is to remove Caroline from school, it being my opinion that she has completed her education."

"Has she consented to this?"

"No; but she won't require any great persuasion. I'll manage all that. What I want you to do is, first, to engage me rooms at Howard's, and, second, to meet me at the boat, day after to-morrow, with a carriage."

"Where will you have the ceremony performed?"

"In this city. I have already engaged the Rev. Mr. B—— to do that little work for me. He will join us at the hotel immediately on our arrival, and in your presence, as a witness, the knot will be tied."

"All very nicely arranged," said Williams.

"Isn't it! And what is more, the whole thing will go off like clock work. Of course I can depend on you. You will meet us at the boat."

"I will, certainly."

"Then good by." They were by this time at the landing. The two young men shook hands, and Lawson sprung on board of the boat, while Williams returned thoughtfully to his office.

Charles Lawson was a young man having neither principle nor character. A connection with certain families in New York, added to a good address, polished manners, and an unblushing assurance, had given him access to society at certain points, and of this facility he had taken every advantage. Too idle and dissolute for useful effort in society, he looked with a cold, calculating baseness to marriage as the means whereby he was to gain the position at which he aspired. Possessing no attractive virtues—no personal merits of any kind, his prospects of a connection, such as he wished to form, through the medium of any honorable advances, were hopeless, and this he perfectly well understood. But, the conviction did not in the least abate the ardor of his purpose. And, in a mean and dastardly spirit, he approached one young school girl after another, until he found in Caroline Everett one weak enough to be flattered by his attentions. The father of Caroline, who was a man of some discrimination and force of mind, understood his daughter's character, and knowing the danger to which she was exposed, kept upon her a watchful eye. Caroline's meetings with Lawson were not continued long before he became aware of the fact, and he at once removed her to a school at a distance from the city. It would have been wiser had he taken her home altogether. Lawson could have desired no better arrangement, so far as his wishes were concerned.

On the day succeeding that on which Lawson left New York, Caroline was taking her morning walk with two or three companions, when she noticed a mark on a certain tree, which she knew as a sign that her lover was in the neighborhood and awaiting her in the secluded glen, half a mile distant, where they had already met. Feigning to have forgotten something, she ran back, but as soon as she was out of sight of her companions, she glided off with rapid steps in the direction where she expected to find Lawson. And she was not disappointed.

"Dear Caroline!" he exclaimed, with affected tenderness, drawing his arm about her and kissing her cheek, as he met her. "How happy I am to see you again! Oh! it has seemed months since I looked upon your sweet young face."

"And yet it is only a week since you were here," returned Caroline, looking at him fondly.

"I cannot bear this separation. It makes me wretched," said Lawson.

"And I am miserable," responded Caroline, with a sigh, and her eyes fell to the ground. "Miserable," she repeated.

"I love you, tenderly, devotedly," said Lawson, as he tightly clasped the hand he had taken: "and it is my most ardent wish to make you happy. Oh! why should a parent's mistaken will interpose between us and our dearest wishes?"

Caroline leaned toward the young man, but did not reply.

"Is there any hope of his being induced to give his consent to—to—our—union?"

"None, I fear," came from the lips of Caroline in a faint whisper.

"Is he so strongly prejudiced against me?"

"Yes."

"Then, what are we to do?"

Caroline sighed.

"To meet, hopelessly, is only to make us the more wretched," said Lawson. "Better part, and forever, than suffer a martyrdom of affection like this."

Still closer shrunk the weak and foolish girl to the young man's side. She was like a bird in the magic circle of the charmer.

"Caroline," said Lawson, after another period of silence, and his voice was low, tender and penetrating—"Are you willing, for my sake, to brave your father's anger?"

"For your sake, Charles!" replied Caroline, with sudden enthusiasm. "Yes—yes. His anger would be light to the loss of your affection."

"Bless your true heart!" exclaimed Lawson. "I knew that I had not trusted it in vain. And now, my dear girl, let me speak freely of the nature of my present visit. With you, I believe, that all hope of your father's consent is vain. But, he is a man of tender feelings, and loves you as the apple of his eye."

Thus urged the tempter, and Caroline listened eagerly.

"If," he continued, "we precipitate a union—if we put the marriage rite between us and his strong opposition, that opposition will grow weak as a withering leaf. He cannot turn from you. He loves you too well."

Caroline did not answer; but, it needed no words to tell Lawson that he was not urging his wishes in vain.

"I am here," at length he said, boldly, "for the purpose of taking you to New York. Will you go with me?"

"For what end?" she whispered.

"To become my wife."

There was no starting, shrinking, nor trembling at this proposal. Caroline was prepared for it; and, in the blindness of a mistaken love, ready to do as the tempter wished. Poor lamb! She was to be led to the slaughter, decked with ribbons and garlands, a victim by her own consent.

Frederick Williams, the friend of Lawson, was a young attorney, who had fallen into rather wild company, and strayed to some distance along the paths of dissipation. But, he had a young and lovely-minded sister, who possessed much influence over him. The very sphere of her purity kept him from debasing himself to any great extent, and ever drew him back from a total abandonment of himself in the hour of temptation. He had been thrown a good deal into the society of Lawson, who had many attractive points for young men about him, and who knew how to adapt himself to the characters of those with whom he associated. In some things he did not like Lawson, who, at times, manifested such an entire want of principle, that he felt shocked. On parting with Lawson at the boat, as we have seen, he walked thoughtfully away. His mind was far from approving what he had heard, and the more he reflected upon it, the less satisfied did he feel. He knew enough of the character of Lawson to be well satisfied that his marriage with Caroline, who was an overgrown, weak-minded school girl, would prove the wreck of her future happiness, and the thought of becoming a party to such a transaction troubled him. On returning to his office, he found his sister waiting for him, and, as his eyes rested upon her innocent young countenance, the idea of her being made the victim of so base a marriage, flashed with a pang amid his thoughts.

"I will have no part nor lot in this matter," he said, mentally. And he was in earnest in this resolution. But not long did his mind rest easy under his assumed passive relation to a contemplated social wrong, that one word from him might prevent. From the thought of betraying Lawson's confidence, his mind shrunk with a certain instinct of honor; while, at the same time, pressed upon him the irresistible conviction that a deeper dishonor would attach to him if he permitted the marriage to take place.

The day passed with him uncomfortably enough. The more he thought about the matter, the more he felt troubled. In the evening, he met his sister again, and the sight of her made him more deeply conscious of the responsibility resting upon him. His oft repeated mental excuse—"It's none of my business," or, "I can't meddle in other men's affairs," did not satisfy certain convictions of right and duty that presented themselves with, to him, a strange distinctness. The thought of his own sister was instantly associated with the scheme of some false-hearted wretch, involving her happiness in the way that the happiness of Caroline Everett was to be involved; and he felt that the man who knew that another was plotting against her, and did not apprize him of the fact, was little less than a villain at heart.

On the next day Williams learned that there was a writ out against the person of Charles Lawson on a charge of swindling, he having obtained a sum of money from a broker under circumstances construed by the laws into crime. This fact determined him to go at once to Mr. Everett, who, as it might be supposed, was deeply agitated at the painful intelligence he received. His first thought was to proceed immediately to New Haven, and there rescue his daughter from the hands of the young man; but on learning the arrangements that had been made, he, after much reflecting, concluded that it would be best to remain in New York, and meet them on their arrival.

In the mean time, the foolish girl, whom Lawson had determined to sacrifice to his base cupidity, was half wild with delighted anticipation. Poor child! Passion-wrought romances, written by men and women who had neither right views of life, nor a purpose in literature beyond gain or reputation, had bewildered her half-formed reason, and filled her imagination with unreal pictures. All her ideas were false or exaggerated. She was a woman, with the mind of an inexperienced child; if to say this does not savor of contradiction. Without dreaming that there might be thorns to pierce her naked feet in the way she was about to enter, she moved forward with a joyful confidence.

On the day she had agreed to return with Lawson, she met him early in the afternoon, and started for New Haven, where they spent the night. On the following day they left in the steamboat for New York. All his arrangements for the marriage, were fully explained to Caroline by Lawson, and most of the time that elapsed after leaving New Haven, was spent in settling their future action in regard to the family. Caroline was confident that all would be forgiven after the first outburst of anger on the part of her father, and that they would be taken home immediately. The cloud would quickly melt in tears, and then the sky would be purer and brighter than before.

When the boat touched the wharf, Lawson looked eagerly for the appearance of his friend Williams, and was disappointed, and no little troubled, at not seeing him. After most of the passengers had gone on shore, he called a carriage, and was driven to Howard's, where he ordered a couple of rooms, after first enquiring whether a friend had not already performed this service for him. His next step was to write a note to the Rev. Mr. B——, desiring his immediate attendance, and, also, one to Williams, informing him of his arrival. Anxiously, and with a nervous fear lest some untoward circumstance might prevent the marriage he was about effecting with a silly heiress, did the young man await the response to these notes, and great was his relief, when informed, after the lapse of an hour, that the Reverend gentleman, whose attendance he had desired, was in the house.

A private parlor had been engaged, and in this the ceremony of marriage was to take place. This parlor adjoined a chamber, in which Caroline awaited, with a trembling heart, the issue of events. It was now, for the first time, as she was about taking the final and irretrievable step, that her resolution began to fail her. Her father's anger, the grief of her mother, the unknown state upon which she was about entering, all came pressing upon her thoughts with a sense of realization such as she had not known before.

Doubts as to the propriety of what she was about doing, came fast upon her mind. In the nearness of the approaching event, she could look upon it stripped of its halo of romance. During the two days that she had been with Lawson, she had seen him in states of absent thought, when the true quality of his mind wrote itself out upon his face so distinctly that even a dim-sighted one could read; and more than once she had felt an inward shrinking from him that was irrepressible. Weak and foolish as she was, she was yet pure-minded; and though in the beginning she did not, because her heart was overlaid with frivolity, perceive the sphere of his impurity, yet now, as the moment was near at hand when there was to be a marriage-conjunction, she began to feel this sphere as something that suffocated her spirit. At length, in the agitation of contending thoughts and emotions, the heart of the poor girl failed her, till, in the utter abandonment of feeling, she gave way to a flood of tears and commenced wringing her hands. At this moment, having arranged with the clergyman to begin the ceremony forthwith, Lawson entered her room, and, to his surprise, saw her in tears.

"Oh, Charles!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands and extending them towards him, "Take me home to my father! Oh, take me home to my father!"

Lawson was confounded at such an unexpected change in Caroline. "You shall go to your father the moment the ceremony is over," he replied; "Come! Mr. B—— is all ready."

"Oh, no, no! Take me now! Take me now!" returned the poor girl in an imploring voice. And she sat before the man who had tempted her from the path of safety, weeping, and quivering like a leaf in the wind.

"Caroline! What has come over you!" said Lawson, in deep perplexity. "This is only a weakness. Come! Nerve your heart like a brave, good girl! Come! It will soon be over."

And he bent down and kissed her wet cheek, while she shrunk from him with an involuntary dread. But, he drew his arm around her waist, and almost forced her to rise.

"There now! Dry your tears!" And he placed his handkerchief to her eyes. "It is but a moment of weakness, Caroline,—of natural weakness."

As he said this, he was pressing her forward towards the door of the apartment where the clergyman (such clergymen disgrace their profession) awaited their appearance.

"Charles?" said Caroline, with a suddenly constrained calmness—"do you love me?"

"Better than my own life!" was instantly replied.

"Then take me to my father. I am too young—too weak—too inexperienced for this."

"The moment we are united you shall go home," returned Lawson. "I will not hold you back an instant."

"Let me go now, Charles! Oh, let me go now!"

"Are you mad, girl!" exclaimed the young man, losing his self-control. And, with a strong arm, he forced her into the next room. For a brief period, the clergyman hesitated, on seeing the distressed bride. Then he opened the book he held in his hand and began to read the service. As his voice, in tones of solemnity, filled the apartment, Caroline grew calmer. She felt like one driven forward by a destiny against which it was vain to contend. All the responses had been made by Lawson, and now the clergyman addressed her. Passively she was about uttering her assentation, when the door of the room was thrown open, and two men entered.

"Stop!" was instantly cried in a loud, agitated voice, which Caroline knew to be that of her father, and never did that voice come to her ears with a more welcome sound.

Lawson started, and moved from her side. While Caroline yet stood trembling and doubting, the man who had come in with Mr. Everett approached Lawson, and laying his hand upon him, said—"I arrest you on a charge of swindling!"

With a low cry of distress, Caroline sprung towards her father; but he held his hands out towards her as if to keep her off, saying, at the same time—

"Are you his wife?"

"No, thank Heaven!" fell from her lips.

In the next moment she was in her father's arms, and both were weeping.

Narrow indeed was the escape made by Caroline Everett; an escape which she did not fully comprehend until a few months afterwards, when the trial of Lawson took place, during which revelations of villany were made, the recital of which caused her heart to shudder. Yes, narrow had been her escape! Had her father been delayed a few moments longer, she would have become the wife of a man soon after condemned to expiate his crimes against society in the felon's cell!

May a vivid realization of what Caroline Everett escaped, warn other young girls, who bear a similar relation to society, of the danger that lurks in their way. Not once in a hundred instances, is a school girl approached with lover-like attentions, except by a man who is void of principle; and not once in a hundred instances do marriages entered upon clandestinely by such persons, prove other than an introduction to years of wretchedness.



UNREDEEMED PLEDGES.

TWO men were walking along a public thoroughfare in New York. One of them was a young merchant—the other a man past the prime of life, and belonging to the community of Friends. They were in conversation, and the manner of the former, earnest and emphatic, was in marked contrast with the quiet and thoughtful air of the other.

"There is so much idleness and imposture among the poor," said the merchant, "that you never know when your alms are going to do harm or good. The beggar we just passed is able to work; and that woman sitting at the corner with a sick child in her arms, would be far better off in the almshouse. No man is more willing to give than I am, if I only knew where and when to give."

"If we look around us carefully, Mr. Edwards," returned the Quaker, "we need be at no loss on this subject. Objects enough will present themselves. Virtuous want is, in most cases, unobtrusive, and will suffer rather than extend a hand for relief. We must seek for objects of benevolence in by-places. We must turn aside into untrodden walks."

"But even then," objected Mr. Edwards, "we cannot be certain that idleness and vice are not at the basis of the destitution we find. I have had my doubts whether any who exercise the abilities which God has given them, need want for the ordinary comforts of life in this country. In all cases of destitution, there is something wrong, you may depend upon it."

"Perhaps there is," said the Quaker. "Evil of some kind is ever the cause of destitution and wretchedness. Such bitter waters as these cannot flow from a sweet fountain. Still, many are brought to suffering through the evil ways of others; and many whose own wrong doings have reacted upon them in unhappy consequences, deeply repent of the past, and earnestly desire to live better lives in future. Both need kindness, encouragement, and, it may be, assistance; and it is the duty of those who have enough and to spare, to stretch forth their hands to aid, comfort and sustain them."

"Yes. That is true. But, how are we to know who are the real objects of our benevolence?"

"We have but to open our eyes and see, Mr. Edwards," said the Quaker. "The objects of benevolence are all around us."

"Show me a worthy object, and you will find me ready to relieve it," returned the merchant. "I am not so selfish as to be indifferent to human suffering. But I think it wrong to encourage idleness and vice; and for this reason, I never give unless I am certain that the object who presents himself is worthy."

"True benevolence does not always require us to give alms," said the Friend. "We may do much to aid, comfort and help on with their burdens our fellow travellers, and yet not bestow upon them what is called charity. Mere alms-giving, as thee has intimated, but too often encourages vice and idleness. But thee desires to find a worthy object of benevolence. Let us see if we cannot find one, What have we here?" And as the Quaker said this he paused before a building, from the door of which protruded a red flag, containing the words, "Auction this day." On a large card just beneath the flag was the announcement, "Positive sale of unredeemed pledges."

"Let us turn in here," said the Quaker. "No doubt we shall find enough to excite our sympathies."

Mr. Edwards thought this a strange proposal; but he felt a little curious, and followed his companion without hesitation.

The sale had already begun, and there was a small company assembled. Among them, the merchant noticed a young woman whose face was partially veiled. She was sitting a little apart from the rest, and did not appear to take any interest in the bidding. But he noticed that, after an article was knocked off, she was all attention until the next was put up, and then, the moment it was named, relapsed into a sort of listlessness or abstraction.

The articles sold embraced a great variety of things useful and ornamental. In the main they were made up of watches, silver plate, jewellery and wearing apparel. There were garments of every kind, quality and condition, upon which money to about a fourth of their real value had been loaned; and not having been redeemed, they were now to be sold for the benefit of the pawnbroker.

The company bid with animation, and article after article was sold off. The interest at first awakened by the scene, new to the young merchant, wore off in a little while, and turning to his companion he said—"I don't see that much is to be gained by staying here."

"Wait a little longer, and perhaps thee will think differently," returned the Quaker, glancing towards the young woman who has been mentioned, as he spoke.

The words had scarcely passed his lips, when the auctioneer took up a small gold locket containing a miniature, and holding it up, asked for a bid.

"How much for this? How much for this beautiful gold locket and miniature? Give me a bid. Ten dollars! Eight dollars! Five dollars! Four dollars—why, gentlemen, it never cost less than fifty! Four dollars! Four dollars! Will no one give four dollars for this beautiful gold locket and miniature? It's thrown away at that price."

At the mention of the locket, the young woman came forward and looked up anxiously at the auctioneer. Mr. Edwards could see enough of her face to ascertain that it was an interesting and intelligent one, though very sad.

"Three dollars!" continued the auctioneer. But there was no bid. "Two dollars! One dollar!"

"One dollar," was the response from a man who stood just in front of the woman. Mr. Edwards, whose eyes were upon the latter, noticed that she became much agitated the moment this bid was made.

"One dollar we have! One dollar! Only one dollar!" cried the auctioneer. "Only one dollar for a gold locket and miniature worth forty. One dollar!"

"Nine shillings," said the young woman in a low, timid voice.

"Nine shillings bid! Nine shillings! Nine shillings!"

"Ten shillings," said the first bidder.

"Ten shillings it is! Ten shillings, and thrown away. Ten shillings!"

"Eleven shillings," said the girl, beginning to grow excited. Mr. Edwards, who could not keep his eyes off of her face, from which the veil had entirely fallen, saw that she was trembling with eagerness and anxiety.

"Eleven shillings!" repeated the auctioneer, glancing at the first bidder, a coarse-looking man, and the only one who seemed disposed to bid against the young woman.

"Twelve shillings," said the man resolutely.

A paleness went over the face of the other bidder, and a quick tremor passed through her frame.

"Twelve shillings is bid. Twelve shillings is bid. Twelve shillings!" And the auctioneer now looked towards the young woman who, in a faint voice, said—

"Thirteen shillings."

By this time the merchant began to understand the meaning of what was passing before him. The miniature was that of a middle-aged lady; and it required no great strength of imagination to determine that the original was the mother of the young woman who seemed so anxious to possess the locket.

"But how came it here?" was the involuntary suggestion to the mind of Mr. Edwards. "Who pawned it? Did she?"

"Fourteen shillings," said the man who was bidding, breaking in upon the reflections of Mr. Edwards.

The veil that had been drawn aside, fell instantly over the face of the young woman, and she shrunk back from her prominent position, yet still remained in the room.

"Fourteen shillings is bid. Fourteen shillings! Are you all done? Fourteen shillings for a gold locket and miniature. Fourteen! Once!—-"

The companion of Mr. Edwards glanced towards him with a meaning look. The merchants for a moment bewildered, found his mind clear again.

"Twice!" screamed the auctioneer. "Once! Twice! Three——"

"Twenty shillings," dropped from the lips of Mr. Edwards.

"Twenty shillings! Twenty shillings!" cried the auctioneer with renewed animation. The man who had been bidding against the girl turned quickly to see what bold bidder was in the field: and most of the company turned with him. The young woman at the same time drew aside her veil and looked anxiously towards Mr. Edwards, who, as he obtained a fuller view of her face, was struck with it as familiar.

"Twenty-one shillings," was bid in opposition.

"Twenty-five," said the merchant, promptly.

The first bidder, seeing that Mr. Edwards was determined to run against him, and being a little afraid that he might be left with a ruinous bid on his hands, declined advancing, and the locket was assigned to the young merchant, who, as soon as he had received it, turned and presented it to the young woman, saying as he did so—

"It is yours."

The young woman caught hold of it with an eager gesture, and after gazing on it for a few moments, pressed it to her lips.

"I have not the money to pay for it," she said in a low sad voice, recovering herself in a few moments; and seeking to return the miniature.

"It is yours!" replied Mr. Edwards. Then thrusting back the hand she had extended, and speaking with some emotion, he said—"Keep it—keep it, in Heaven's name!"

And saying this he hastily retired, for he became conscious that many eyes were upon him; and he felt half ashamed to have betrayed his weakness before a coarse, unfeeling crowd. For a few moments he lingered in the street; but his companion not appearing, he went on his way, musing on the singular adventure he had encountered. The more distinctly he recalled the young woman's face, the more strangely familiar did it seem.

About an hour afterwards, as Mr. Edwards sat reading a letter, the Quaker entered his store.

"Ah, how do you do? I am glad to see you," said the merchant, his manner more than usually earnest. "Did you see anything more of that young woman?"

"Yes," replied the Quaker. "I could not leave one like her without knowing something of her past life and present circumstances. I think even you will hardly be disposed to regard her as an object unworthy of interest."

"No, certainly I will not. Her appearance, and the circumstances under which we found her, are all in her favor."

"But we turned aside from the beaten path. We looked into a by-place to us; or we would not have discovered her. She was not obtrusive. She asked no aid; but, with the last few shillings that remained to her in the world, had gone to recover, if possible, an unredeemed pledge—the miniature of her mother, on which she had obtained a small advance of money to buy food and medicine for the dying original. This is but one of the thousand cases of real distress that are all around us. We could see them if we did but turn aside for a moment into ways unfamiliar to our feet."

"Did you learn who she was, and anything of her condition?" asked Mr. Edwards.

"Oh yes. To do so was but a common dictate of humanity. I would have felt it as a stain upon my conscience to have left one like her uncared for in the circumstances under which we found her."

"Did you accompany her home?"

"Yes; I went with her to the place she called her home—a room in which there was scarcely an article of comfort—and there learned the history of her past life and present condition. Does thee remember Belgrave, who carried on a large business in Maiden Lane some years ago?"

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