The Lights and Shadows of Real Life
by T.S. Arthur
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

One month from that night of sorrow, the darkest one in the many gloomy seasons of Mrs. Wilmer's life, might have been seen this child of many afflictions, with her three little ones, at home in one of the most pleasant houses in the vicinity of New York. There was something sad and subdued in the expression of her pale face, but it was from the recollection of the past. Her mother, who ten years before had cast her off as unworthy, now gazed upon her with a look of the intensest affection; and the father, who had sworn never to call her his child, sat holding her thin white hand in his, and listening to her first recital of all she had passed through since she left the home of her childhood, while the tears fell from his eyes in large drops, upon the hand that lay within his own.


[THE following unadorned narrative, the reminiscence of a friend, I give as if related by him from whom I received it. He was, in early years, the apprentice of a tradesman, in whose family the principal incidents occurred. The picture presented is one of every-day life.]

MR. WILLIAMS, to whom, when a boy, I was apprenticed to learn the art and mystery by which he supported a pretty large family, was not rich, although, by industry and economy, he had gathered together a few thousand dollars, and owned, besides, two or three neat little houses, the aggregate annual rent of which was something like six hundred dollars. His wife, a weak-minded woman, however, considered him independent, in regard to wealth, and valued herself accordingly. Few held their heads higher, or trode the pavement with a statelier step than Mrs. Williams.

An elder sister, greatly her superior in every quality of mind, had been far less fortunate in her marriage. She was the wife of a man, who, instead of increasing his worldly goods, the fruit of some twenty years' prudence and industry, had become dissipated, and at the time now referred to, was sinking rapidly, and bearing his family, of course, down with him. All energy seemed lost, and though his family was steadily increasing, he grew more and more careless every day.

He spent much time in taverns, and wasted there a good deal of money, that his family needed. Mrs. Haller, his wife, was, as has been said, in intelligence and feeling, much the superior of Mrs. Williams, but appeared to little advantage in her peculiar situation. She was the elder sister, by four or five years. At the time of which I am now writing, Mrs. Haller had five children, two of them grown up, and the rest small. Her husband had become so indolent and sottish, that all her exertions were needed to keep her little flock from suffering with cold and hunger. No woman could have laboured more untiringly than she did, but it was labouring against a strong current that bore her little bark slowly, but surely backward. Here, then, are the two sisters; one, the elder, and superior in all the endowments of head and heart—the other with few claims to estimation other than those afforded by a competence of worldly goods. Let us view them a little closer. Perhaps we can read a lesson in their mutual conduct that will not soon be forgotten.

In earlier years, I have learned, that they were much attached to each other. In their father's house, they knew no cares, and when they married, which was within a few years of each other, their prospects were equal for future happiness. While this equality existed, their intercourse was uninterrupted and affectionate. But, as Mr. Haller began to neglect his family, the cloud that settled upon the brow of his poor wife was not pleasant for Mrs. Williams to look upon. Nor were the complaints that a full heart too often forced to the lips, at all agreeable to her ears. Naturally proud and selfish, these two feelings had been gaining strength with the progress of years, and were now so confirmed, that even towards an only sister in changed circumstances they remained in full activity.

When I first went to live with Mr. Williams, Mrs. Haller resided in a neatly furnished, small two-story brick house. Her husband had not then shown his vagabond propensities very distinctly, though he spent in his family, and otherwise, all that he earned each week, thus leaving nothing for a rainy day. He was a little in debt, too, but not so much as to make him feel uneasy. Mrs. Haller was anxious to lay up something, and to be getting ahead in the world, and was, consequently, always troubled because things never got any better. She came to our house every week, and Mr. Williams would visit her once in a month or two. Mrs. Haller often talked of her troubles to her sister, who used then to sympathize with her, and make many suggestions of means to gender things more accordant with her desires. As matters gradually grew worse in the progress of time, and Mrs. Haller began to make rather an indifferent appearance, the manner of her sister became evidently constrained and unsympathizing. She began to look upon her in the light of a "poor relation." Her children, cousins of course to Mrs. Williams's, were not treated encouragingly when they came to our house, and if company happened to be there, they were kept out of sight, or sent home. Mrs. Williams rarely visited Mrs. Haller—not so often as once in six months.

Long before the period of which I am now writing, Haller had become drunken and very lazy. Their comfortable house and furniture had been changed for poor rooms, with little in them, except what was barely necessary. The oldest child, a son, about nineteen years of age, on to whose maturity the mother had often looked with a lively hope, following the example of his father, had become idle and dissipated; spending most of his time in low taverns and gambling-shops. Here was a keen sorrow which no heart but a mother's can understand. Oh, what a darkening of all the dreams of early years! When a warm-hearted girl, looking into the pleasant future with a tremulous joy, she stood beside her chosen one at the altar, how little did she dream of the shadows and darkness that were to fall upon her path! And alas! how little does many a careless girl, who gives herself away, thoughtlessly, to a young man of unformed character, dream of the sorrow too deep for tears that awaits her. Surely this were anguish enough,—and surely it called for the sustaining sympathy of friends. But the friend of her early years, the sister in whose arms, in the days of innocent childhood, she had slept peacefully, now turned from her coldly, and even repulsively.

So unnatural and revolting seems the picture I am drawing, even in its dim outlines, that I turn from it myself, half-resolved to leave it unfinished. But many reasons, stronger than feeling, urge me to complete my task with the imperfect skill I possess, and I take the pencil which I had laid down in shame and disgust, and proceed to fill up more distinctly.

I had observed for some time the growing coolness of Mrs. Williams towards her unfortunate sister, and had noted more than once the deep dejection of Mrs. Haller's manner, whenever she went away from our house. She began to come less and less frequently, and her children at still more remote intervals. Things became desperate with her at length, and she came, forced by necessity, to seek a little aid and comfort in her sorrow from her once kind sister, and with the faint hope that some relief would be offered. I was sitting in the neatly furnished breakfast-room, one evening, a little after tea, reading a book, when Mrs Haller came in. She had on a dark calico dress, faded, but clean, a rusty shawl that had once been black, and a bonnet that Mrs. Williams's kitchen-servant would not have worn. My eye instinctively glanced to the face of Mrs. Williams as she entered; it had at once contracted into a cold and forbidding expression. She neither rose from her chair, nor asked Mrs. Haller to take one, greeting her only with a chilling "well, Sally." The latter naturally sought a chair, and waited silently, and surely with an aching heart, for a kinder manifestation of sisterly regard. I immediately left the room; but learned afterwards enough of the interview to make it distinct to the imagination of the reader.

The sisters sat silent for some moments, the one vainly trying to keep down the struggling anguish of a stricken heart, and the other, half-angry at the intrusion, endeavouring to fashion a form of greeting that should convey her real impressions, without being verbally committed. At length the latter said, half-kindly, half-repulsively:—

"Why, Sally, what has brought you so far from home, after dark?"

"Nothing very particular. Only I thought I would like to drop in a little while and see how you all did. Besides, little Thomas is sick, and I wanted to get a few herbs from you, as you always keep them."

"What kind of herbs do you want?"

"Only a few sprigs of balm, and some woodbitney."

"Kitty"—bawled out this unfeeling woman to the servant in the kitchen—"go up into the garret and bring me a handful of balm and woodbitney—and don't stay all night!"

"No, ma'am," said Kitty, thinking the last part of the order most requiring a reply.

A further pause of a few minutes ensued, when Mrs. Haller, after almost struggling to keep silence, at length ventured to say, sadly, and despondingly, that she should have to move again.

"And what, in the name of heaven, Sally, are you going to move again for? You can't be suited much better."

"Nor much worse, either, Mary. But John has paid no rent, and we can't stay any longer. The landlord has ordered us to leave by next Wednesday, or he will throw our few things into the street."

"Well, I declare, there is always something occurring with you to worry my mind. Why do you constantly harass me with your troubles? I have enough at home in my own family to perplex me, without being made to bear your burdens. I never trouble you with my grievances, or anybody else, and do not think it kind in you to make me feel bad every time you come here. I declare, I grow nervous whenever I see you!"

Poor Mrs. Haller, already bending beneath her burden, found this adding a weight that made it past calm endurance, and she burst into tears, and sobbed aloud. But not the slightest impression did this exhibition of sorrow make upon Mrs. Williams. She even reproached her with unbecoming weakness.

Although her sister had before shown indifference and great coolness, yet never had she spoken thus unkindly. In a few moments Mrs. Haller regained her calmness, and with it came back some of her former pride of feeling. For a moment she sat with her eyes cast upon the floor, endeavouring to keep down her struggling emotions; in the next she rose up, and looking her sister fixedly in the face, read her this impressive lesson.

"Mary, I could not have dreamed of such harshness from you! I have thought you cold and indifferent, long; but I tried hard to believe that you were not unkind. I have never come to see you in the last three years, that I did not go away sad in spirit. There was something in your manner that seemed to say that you thought my presence irksome, and as you were the only friend I had to speak to about my wearying cares and anxieties, it grieved me more than I can tell to think that that only friend was growing cold—and that friend a sister! As things have become worse with me, your manner has grown colder, and now you have spoken out distinctly, and destroyed the little resting place I sometimes sought when wearied to faintness. Mary, may God who has afflicted me, grant you a happier lot in the future! May you never know the anguish of one who sees a once idolized husband become a brute—her children growing up worthless under the dreadful example of their father, and all often wanting food to sustain nature! You have everything you desire. I have not the necessaries of life. We were born of the same mother, and nursed at the same bosom. We played together in childhood,—once I saved your life. And now, because our ways are different; yours even and flowery, and mine rough and thorny, you turn from me, as from an importunate beggar. Mary, we shall meet our father and mother at the bar of God!"

Thus saying, Mrs. Haller turned slowly away, and left the house before her sister, who was startled at this unexpected appeal, could sufficiently collect her senses to reply. Her real errand, or, rather, her principal errand to the house of Mrs. Williams, had been to ask for some food for her children. It was many weeks since her husband had contributed a single dollar towards the daily family expenses, and all the burden of their support devolved upon the wife and mother. Night and day, in pain, and exhaustion of body and mind, had she toiled to get food for those who looked up to her, but all her efforts were inadequate. Like thousands of others, when a girl, she had acquired an education that was more ornamental than useful. The consequence was, that she had no ready means of earning money. The wants of a family of children, had, it is true, given her some skill with her needle, but not of a kind that would enable her to earn much by sewing.

She did, however, at first try what she could do by working for the cheap clothing-stores. But twelve-and-a-half cents a pair for pantaloons, ten cents for vests, and eight cents for shirts, yielded so little, that she was driven to something else. That something else was the washtub; over which, and the ironing-table, she toiled early and late, often ready to sink to the floor from exhaustion.

Of this, she said nothing to Mrs. Williams, who would have been terribly mortified at the idea of her sister, taking in washing for a support. The labour of one pair of hands in the wash-tub, was, however, unequal to the task of providing food for seven mouths, even of a very poor quality. Consequently, Mrs. Haller found the wants of her family pressing, every day, harder and harder upon the slender means by which they were supplied. Often, when she carried home her work, there was no food in the house, and often did she work half the night, so as to be able to take her clothes home early on the next day, and get the money she had earned to meet that day's wants.

Among those for whom she washed and ironed, was a woman in good circumstances, who never paid her anything until she asked for it, and then the money came with an air of reluctance. Of course, she applied to her for her hard earnings, only when pressed by necessity. On the morning before the interview with her sister, just detailed, Mrs. Haller found herself nearly out of everything, and with not a cent in the world. The woman just alluded to, owed her two dollars, and she had nearly completed another week's washing for her, which would make the amount due her two dollars and a half. At dinner-time, every mouthful of food, and that a scanty portion, was consumed, and there would be nothing for supper, or breakfast, on the next morning, unless Mrs. Hamil should pay her. It was nearly night when she finished ironing the last piece. Hurriedly putting on her things, after sending two of her children with the clothes in a basket, she joined them as they were about entering the dwelling of Mrs. Hamil.

Her heart beat, audibly to her own ear, as she went in, and asked to see the woman for whom she had been labouring. Although, heretofore, whenever she had asked for her money, she had received it, sometimes with reluctance, it is true, yet her extremity being now so great, she trembled lest, from some cause, she should not be able to get the pittance due her.

For a few moments she sat in the kitchen hesitating to ask for Mrs. Hamil, after the clothes had been given to the servant. When she did do so, she was told that she was engaged and could not be seen.

"Ask her, then, for me, if you please," she said, "to send me a dollar. I want it very much."

The servant went up and delivered her message, and in a few moments came back with the answer, that Mrs. Hamil was engaged, and could not attend to such matters;—that she could step in on the next day, and get her money.

The words fell coldly upon her feelings, and oppressed her with a faint sickness. Then she got up slowly from her chair, hesitated a moment, took one or two steps towards the door, and then pausing, said to the servant,

"Go up and tell Mrs. Hamil, that I am sorry to trouble her, but that I want the money very much, and that if she will send it down to me, she will confer a very great favour, indeed."

"I had rather not," the servant replied. "She didn't appear pleased at my going up the first time. And I am sure she will be less pleased if I go again."

"But you do not know how much I am in want of this money, Jane—" and the poor woman's voice quivered.

"Well, Mrs. Haller, I will try again," the kind-hearted girl said, "but I can't promise to be successful. Mrs. Hamil is very queer sometimes."

In a few minutes Jane returned with a positive refusal. Mrs. Hamil couldn't and wouldn't be troubled in that way.

In a state of half-conscious, dreamy wretchedness, did Mrs. Haller turn her steps slowly homewards. The shadows of evening were falling thickly around, adding a deeper gloom to her feelings.

"O, mother! I'm glad you've come. I'm so hungry!" cried one of her little ones, springing to her side as she entered. "Won't we have supper soon, now?"

This was too much for her, and she sank exhausted and almost fainting into a chair. Tears soon brought temporary relief to an overburdened heart. Then she soothed her hungry little ones as well as she could, promising them a good supper before they went to bed.

"But why can't we have it now?" urged one, more impatient, or more hungry, than the rest.

"Because mother hasn't got any good bread for little Henry—" she replied—"But she will have some soon. So all be good children, and wait until mother goes out and gets some bread and meat, and then we will all have a nice supper."

After quieting the importunities of her children in this way, and soothing little Thomas, who was sick and fretful, Mrs. Haller again left them, and bent her steps, with a reluctant spirit, towards the comfortable dwelling of her sister, nearly a mile away from where she lived. The interview with that sister has already been given.

When she turned away, as has been seen, empty-handed, from the door of that sister, it was with feelings that few can imagine. It seemed to her as if she were forsaken both of earth and heaven. How she got home, she hardly knew, but when she entered that cheerless place she found her poor sick child, for whom she had no money to buy medicine, burning with fever, and crying bitterly. Her brutal husband was snoring on the bed the smaller children quarrelling among themselves, and her oldest boy, half-intoxicated, leaning over the back of a chair, and swinging his body backward and forward in the (sic) idiotcy of drunkenness. As she entered, the children crowded round her, asking fretfully for their suppers; but nothing had she to give them, for she had come away empty-handed and repulsed from the door of her affluent sister, to whose dwelling she had gone solely to ask for some food for her children! In the momentary energy of despair she roused her husband rudely from the bed, and bade him, in an excited tone, to go and get some bread for the children: The brute, angered by her words and manner, struck her a blow upon the head, which brought her senseless to the floor.

An hour at least passed before she recovered her senses; when she opened her eyes, she found herself on a bed, her sister sitting by her side, weeping, and Mr. Williams standing over her. Her husband was not there, some of the children were crying about the room, and others had fallen asleep on the floor. The oldest boy was sitting in the position before-mentioned. Brief explanations were made, and Mrs. Williams offered a faint apology for her harsh treatment. The appeal of her sister had touched her feelings, and she had proposed to Mr. Williams to go over and see her. On entering her dwelling they found her senseless on the floor, and the children screaming around her. The husband was not there.

As soon as the mother's voice was heard by the smallest child, a little girl, she climbed up the side of the bed, and simply, and earnestly, in lisping tones, asked for a "piece of bread." The poor woman burst into tears, and turned her head away from her child. Mrs. Williams went to the closet, saying—"Come, Emma, I will get you some bread. "The little thing was at her side in a moment. But the search there was in vain.

"Where is the bread, Sally?" she asked.

"There is none in the house," faintly murmured the almost broken-hearted mother.

"Good heavens!" said Mr. Williams—"you are not without food, surely?"

"We have tasted nothing to-day," was the startling reply.

"Where is Mr. Haller?"

"I know not—he left the house a short time ago."

"He ran out when he struck you, mother," spoke up the little child who had asked for the bread.

Mr. and Mrs. Williams looked at each other for some moments in silence.

"Get a basket and come with me, John," said Mr. Williams, to the oldest boy, who was gazing on with indifference or stupidity.

Mechanically he took a basket and followed his uncle. They soon returned with bread, dried meat, ham, &c., and in a brief space, a comfortable meal was prepared for the starving family.

Conscience felt about the heart of Mrs. Williams that night, with touches of pain, and she repented of her cruel neglect, and unkind treatment of her sister. She dreamed not of the extent of her destitution and misery—simply, because she had refused to make herself acquainted with her real condition. Now that the sad reality had been forced upon her almost unwilling eyes, a few returning impulses of nature demanded relief for her suffering sister.

Mr. Williams, whose benevolent feelings were easily excited, was shocked at the scene before him, and blamed himself severely for not having earlier become acquainted with Mrs. Haller's condition. He immediately set about devising means of relief. Haller had become so worthless that he despaired of making him do anything for his family. He therefore invited his sister-in-law to come home to our house, and bring her two youngest girls with her. The rest were provided with places. The family had grown pretty large, and she could assist in sewing, &c., and thus render a service, and live comfortably. Mrs. Williams seconded the proposition, though not with much cordiality; she could not, however, make any objections.

We look at the sisters now in a different relation. The superior in dependence on the inferior. Can any for a moment question the result?

It was not without a struggle that poor Mrs. Haller consented to disband her little family—and virtually to divorce herself from her husband. No matter how cruel the latter had been, nor how deplorable the condition of the former, her heart still retained its household affections, and would not consent willingly to have her little flock scattered-perhaps for ever. But stern necessity knows no law. In due time, with little Emma, and Emily, Mrs. Haller was assigned a comfortable room over the kitchen, and became a member of our family. All of us in the shop felt for her a warm interest, but hesitated not to express among ourselves a regret that she could do no better than to trust herself and little ones to the tender mercies of a sister, whom we knew too well to respect.

At first, Mrs. Haller was employed in needle-work, but as she was neither a very fast nor neat sewer, her sister soon found it better policy to let her do the chamber-work, and sometimes assist in cooking. For about three months, her situation was comfortable, except that her children were required to act "just so," and were driven about and scolded if they ventured to amuse themselves in the yard, or anywhere in the sight or hearing of their aunt. Her own children were indulged in almost everything, but her little nieces were required to be as staid and circumspect as grown-up women. After about six months had elapsed, Mrs. Williams began to find fault with her sister for various trifles, and to be petulant and unkind in manner towards her. This thing was not done right, and the other thing was neglected. If she sat down for half an hour to sew for herself or children, something would be said or hinted to wound her, and make her feel that she was viewed by her sister in no other light than that of a hired servant.

Something occurring to make the kitchen-servant leave her place, Mrs. Haller cooked and attended in her situation until another could be obtained. There was, however, no effort made to procure another; week after week passed away, and still all the menial employments of the house and the hard duties of the kitchen fell upon Mrs. Haller. From her place at the first table, where she sat for a short time after she came into the house, she was assigned one with us. To all these changes she was not indifferent. She felt them keenly. But what could she do? Unfortunately for her, she had been so raised (as too many of our poor, proud, fashionable girls are now raised) as to be almost helpless when thrown upon her own resources. She was industrious, and saving; but understood nothing about getting a living. Therefore, she felt that endurance was her only present course. It was grievous to the heart to be trampled upon by a sister whose condition was above her's; but as that sister had offered her an (sic) assylum, when in the utmost destitution, she resolved to bear patiently the burden she imposed upon her.

It was now tacitly understood between the sisters that Sally was to be kitchen-servant to the other. And as a servant she was treated. When company were at the house, she was not to know them or sit down in the parlour with them. Her little ones were required to keep themselves out of the family sitting-room, and Mrs. Williams's children taught, not by words, but by actions, to look upon them as inferiors. From confinement, and being constantly checked in the outburst of their feelings, they soon began to look much worse than they did when first taken from their comfortless abode. The youngest, a quiet child, might usually be found sitting on a little stool by her mother in the kitchen, playing with some trifling toy; but the other was a wild little witch, who was determined to obey no arbitrary laws of her aunt's enacting. There was no part of the house that she did not consider neutral ground. Now she would be playing with her little cousins in the breakfast-room, or in some of the chambers, and now clambering over the shop-board among the boys and journeymen. All liked her but Mrs. Williams, and to her she was a thorn in the flesh, because she set at defiance all her restrictions. This was a cause of much trouble to Mrs. Haller, who saw that the final result would be a separation from one or both of her children. The only reason that weighed with her and caused her to remain in her unpleasant and degraded situation, was the ardent desire she felt to keep her two youngest children with her. She could not trust them to the tender mercies of strangers. Deep distress and abject poverty had not blunted a single maternal feeling, and her heart yearned for her babes with an increased anxiety and tenderness as the chances every day appeared less in favour of her retaining them with her. One had nearly grown up, and was a sorrow and an anguish to her heart. Two others, quite young, were bound out, and but one of them had found a kind guardian. And now, one of the two that remained she feared would have to be removed from her.

One day, her sister called her into the sitting-room, where she found a lady of no very prepossessing appearance.

"Sally," said she, "this is Mrs. Tompkins. She has seen Emily, and would like to have her very much. You, of course, have no objections to getting so good a place for Emily. How soon can you get her ready to go? Mrs. Tompkins would like to have her by the first of next week."

Thus, without a moment's warning, the dreaded blow fell upon her. She murmured a faint assent, named an early day, and retired. She could not resist the will of her sister, for she was a dependant.

In the disposition of other people's children, we can be governed by what we call rational considerations; but when called upon to part with our own helpless offspring, how differently do we estimate circumstances! Every day we hear some one saying, "Why don't she put out her children?"—and, "Why don't she put out her children? They will be much better off." And perhaps these children are but eight, nine, and ten years old. Mother! father! whoever you may be, imagine your own children, of that tender age, among strangers as servants (for that is the capacity of children who are thus put out) required to be, in all respects, as prudent, as industrious, as renouncing of little recreations and pleasures as men and women, and subject to severe punishments for all childish faults and weaknesses, such as you would have borne with and gently corrected. Don't draw parallels between your own and poor people's children, as if they were to be less regarded than yours. Even as your heart yearns over and loves with unspeakable tenderness your offspring, does the mother, no matter how poor her condition, yearn over and love her children—and when they are removed from under her protecting wing, she feels as keen a sorrow as would rend your heart, were the children of your tenderest care and fondest love, taken from you and placed among strangers.

In due time, Emily was put out to Mrs. Tompkins, a woman who had wonderful fine notions about rearing up children so as to make men and women of them, (than her own, there were not a more graceless set in the whole city.) She had never been able to carry into full practice her admirable theories in regard to the education of children among her own hopefuls; because—first: Johnny was a very delicate boy, and to have governed him by strict rules, would have been to have ruined his constitution. She had never dared to break him of screaming by conquering him, in a single instance, because the rupture of a blood-vessel would doubtless have been the consequence, or a fit in which he might have died. Once indeed she did try to force him to give up his will, but he grew black in the face from passion, and she had hard work to recover him—after this he was humoured in everything. And Tommy was a high-spirited and generous fellow, and it would have been a pity to warp his fine disposition. Years of discretion would make him a splendid specimen of perfect manhood. Angelina, (a forward, pert little minx,) was, from her birth, so gentle, so amiable, so affectionate, that no government was necessary—and Victorine was so naturally high-tempered, that her mother guarded against the developement of anger by never allowing her to be crossed in anything.

In Emily, Mrs. Tompkins supposed she had found a fine subject on which to demonstrate her theories. A wilful, spoiled child, she was, eleven years of age, and needed curbing, and in a few days Mrs. Tompkins found it necessary to exercise her prerogative. Emily was, of course, put right to work, so soon as she came into the house. Her first employment was to sweep up the breakfast-room, after the maid had removed the breakfast-things and placed back the table. She had never handled a broom, and was, of course, very awkward. With this awkwardness, Mrs. Tompkins had no patience, and once or twice took the broom from her hand, and directed her how to hold and use it, in a high tone, and half-angry manner. In due course she got through this duty; and then was directed to rock the cradle, while Mrs. Tompkins went through her chamber and made herself look a little tidy. Sitting still a whole hour was a terrible trial to Emily's patience, but she made out to stick at her post until Mrs. Tompkins re-appeared. She was then sent into the cellar to bring up three or four armfuls of wood, and immediately after to the grocer's for a pound of soap, then to the milliner's with a band-box. When she returned, it was about eleven o'clock, and she was set to help one of the servants wash the windows, which were taken out of the frames and washed in the yard. This occupied until twelve. Then she must rock the cradle again, which she did until one o'clock, when it waked, and she had to sit on a little chair and hold it, while the family dined. Her own dinner was afterwards put on a plate, and she made to stand by the kitchen-table and eat it. All the afternoon was taken up in some employment or other, and as soon as supper was over (which she eat, as before, standing at the kitchen-table) she was sent to bed—and glad she was to get there, for she was so tired she could hardly stand up.

The next day passed in the same unrelaxing round of duties, and the third commenced in a similar way. The little thing had by this time become almost sick from such constant confinement and extra labour for one of her strength. She was set, on this day, to scrub down a pair of back stairs, a task to which she was unequal. Before she had got down to the third step, she accidentally upset the basin and flooded the whole stair-case—dashing the dirty-water in the face of Mrs. Tompkins who was just coming up. She was a good deal frightened, for Mrs. Tompkins had shown so much anger towards her on different occasions in the last three days, and had once threatened to correct her, that she feared punishment would follow the accident. A slight box on the ear was indeed administered. Trembling from head to foot with fear, and weakness, for the child was by no means well, she brought up another basin of water, and commenced scouring the steps again. By some strange fatality, the basin was again upset, and unfortunately fell in the face of Mrs. Tompkins again. A cruel chastisement followed, with a set of leather thongs, upon the poor child's bare back and shoulders.

That night the child came home to her mother, and gave a history of her treatment. Her lacerated back was sufficient evidence how cruelly she had been punished. The little thing was in a high fever, and moaned and talked in her sleep all night.

Finding that the child was not sent back in the morning, Mrs. Williams wished to know the reason, and was told the real condition of Emily.

"She's a bad child, Sally, and has no doubt deserved a whipping! You have spoiled your older children by mistaken kindness, and will spoil the rest. But I can tell you very distinctly that I am not going to be a party in this matter, and will not consent that Emily stay here any longer. So, if you don't send her back to Mrs. Tompkins, you may get her a place somewhere else, for after this week she shall not stay here. She has almost ruined my Clara, now!"

To this, poor Mrs. Haller made no reply. Her home at our house had only been endured because there she thought she could keep her babes with her. She left the presence of her unfeeling sister, and began to study how she could manage to support herself and two children by her own unaided exertions. Many plans were suggested to her mind, but none seemed to promise success. At length she resolved to rent a small room, and put into it a bed, a table, and a few chairs, with some other necessary articles which she still had, and then buy some kind of vegetables with about five dollars that were due her, and go to market as a huckster! Let not the sentimental and romantic turn away in disgust. When humanity is reduced to a last resource, be it what it may, the heart endures pains, and doubts, and fears of a like character, whether the resource be that offered to a noble lady, or a lonely widow.

Before Saturday night, Mrs. Haller had found a room near the market that just suited her, which she rented at two dollars a month with the use of the cellar. When she made known to Mrs. Williams her intention of leaving her house, and told her how she intended to make a living, the latter was almost speechless with surprise.

"Surely, Sally," said she, "you cannot be in earnest?"

"Indeed I am in earnest, though?"

"But consider the disgrace it will be to your family."

"Nothing is disgraceful that is honest."

"I never will consent to your being a huckster:—Sally! if you do so disgrace yourself as to stand in the market and sell potatoes and cabbages, I will disown you! You have a comfortable home here, and where then is the use of your exposing yourself in the market-house?"

"You will not let Emily stay here with me, and I cannot part with my poor babes." A flood of tears burst forth, even though she struggled hard to conceal them.

"You are very weak and foolish, Sally. Emily will be much better off, away from you. She is growing up a spoiled child, and needs other care than yours. You are too indulgent."

"In any case, Mary, I am determined to keep these children with me. I know that it is not pleasant for you to have them here, and I don't want to have them in your way. The best thing I can do is that which I have determined on."

"If you will go, why not take in sewing, or washing and ironing?"

"Simply, because I cannot make a living with my needle, and my health will not permit me to stand over the wash-tub from morning till night. There is no resource left me but the market-house, reluctantly as I go there."

"Well, Sally, you can do as you please. But let me tell you, that if you do turn huckster, I will never own you as my sister again."

"Any such foolish and rash resolution on your part, I should regret very much; for, unkindly and unfeelingly as you have acted towards me, I have no wish to dissolve the tie of nature."

"It shall be dissolved, you may rely upon it, if you do so disgraceful a thing."

On Saturday she got what was due to her, and on Monday removed to her new abode. Of all this, Mr. Williams had not the slightest knowledge. After getting her room fixed up, she went down to the wharf and bought a few bushels of potatoes, and some apples: with these she went to the market. Her feelings in thus exposing herself, can only be imagined by such as have had to resort to a similar method of obtaining a livelihood, when they first appeared in the market-house. She had not been long at her stand, when Mr. Williams, who generally went to market, came unexpectedly upon her.

"Why, Sally, what in the world are you doing here?" was his surprised salutation.

"Why, didn't you know that I had left your house for the market-house?"

"No! How should I know You never told me that you were going.

"But surely sister did?"

"Indeed she did not."

"She knew last week that I was going, and that I had determined to make a living for myself and children in this way."

"I am sorry you left our house, Sally! You should have had a home there as long as I lived. You must not stay here, anyhow. Something better can be done for you. Surely you and Mary have not quarrelled?"

"She has renounced me for ever!"

Mr. Williams was a good deal shocked by this unexpected interview, and when he went home inquired into the state of affairs. He censured his wife severely for her part in the matter, upon her own statement; and told her plainly that she had not treated Sally as a sister should have been treated. He went to see Mrs. Haller that day, and used many arguments to induce her to come back, or at least to give up her newly-adopted calling.

"Put me in a better and more comfortable way of making a living, Mr. Williams," was her answer—"and I will most gladly adopt it. I know of no other that will suit me. I cannot longer remain dependent. In your house I was dependent, and daily and hourly I was made to feel that dependence, in the most galling manner."

By her first day's efforts in the market-house, Mrs. Haller earned three-quarters of a dollar, with which she bought food for herself and children, and re-invested the original amount. On the next day, as on the first, she disposed of her whole stock, and was so fortunate in her sales as to clear one dollar. On the next day she did not sell more than half of her little stock, and cleared only thirty-seven-and-a-half cents on that. Greatly discouraged she went home at twelve o'clock, and was still further cast down at finding her husband there, come to take up his lodgings, and eat up her meagre earnings from her children. She remonstrated against his coming back, but with drunken oath and cruel threats he let her know that he should stay there in spite of her. Before night, her oldest son, a worthless vagabond, also made his appearance, and between them swept off all the food, that she had bought with the profits on her five dollars, which she had resolved from the first not to break. On the next morning she cleared a full dollar, and on Saturday, another. But her increased family prevented her adding a cent of the profits to her original capital. After the market on Saturday morning, she went out and bought about three dollars worth of eggs, at ten cents a dozen, which, before night, she sold at twelve-and-a-half cents, thus clearing twenty-five cents on the dollar, or three-quarters of a dollar in all. With a dollar and three-quarters that she had made that day, she laid in a supply of common and substantial food.

On Sunday she went, as was her custom, to church, and took her two little girls with her. Her husband and son remained at home. When she returned from service they were gone; instinctively turning to where she had concealed her little treasure, of five dollars, she found that it had also disappeared! She knew well how to account for its loss. Her husband and son had robbed her! The little hope that had animated her breast for the last few days, gave way, and she sunk down into a condition of mind that was almost despair. Towards evening, her husband and son came home drunk, and lay all night stupid. In the morning, they stole off by day-light, and she was left alone with her little ones, to brood over her melancholy prospect. She could not, of course, go to market, for she had nothing to sell, nor anything with which to purchase a little stock.

Mr. Williams, who felt a lively interest in her case, especially on account of the unkind treatment she had received from his wife, used to stop and inquire into her prospects whenever he saw her in the market, and had been looking round for something better for her to do. Missing her this morning, he went to her house, and there found her in a state of complete despondency. He encouraged her in the best way he could, but did not advance her another little capital, which he would willingly have done under other circumstances, and then went away, determined to get her some situation which would be more suitable for one of her habits and feelings.

Not an hour after he learned that a head nurse was much wanted at the alms-house. He made immediate application for her, and was happy in securing the place. It was at once offered to her, and she accepted it with gladness, especially as she would be allowed to bring her two children with her. In due time, she removed to her new abode, and soon won the good-will and kind consideration of the Board of Trustees, and the affectionate regards of those to whose afflictions she was called to minister. Her two little girls were educated at the alms-house school, and grew up amiable, intelligent, and industrious. Of her other children, I never knew much.

Mrs. Williams seemed to think the situation of her sister at the alms-house, almost as disgraceful as her place in the market. She never renewed a communication with her. Even up to the hour when Mrs. Haller was called to her final account, which was many years after, her sister neither saw nor spoke to her.


THE story of Julia Forrester is but a revelation of what occurs every day. I draw aside the veil for a moment, would that some one might gaze with trembling on the picture, and be saved!

The father of Julia had served an apprenticeship to the tanning and currying business. He had been taken when an orphan boy of twelve years old, by a man in this trade, and raised by him, without any of the benefits of education. At twenty-one he could read and write a little, but had no taste for improving his mind. His master, being well pleased with him for his industry and sobriety, offered him a small interest in his business, shortly after he was free, which soon enabled him to marry, and settle himself in life.

His new companion was the daughter of a reduced tradesman; she had high notions of gentility, but possessed more vanity and love of admiration than good sense. Neither of them could comprehend the true relation of parents. If they fed their children well, clothed them well, and sent them to the most reputable schools, they imagined that they had, in part, discharged their duty; and, wholly, when they had obtained good-looking and well-dressed husbands for their daughters. This may be a little exaggerated; but such an inference might readily have been drawn by one who attentively considered their actions.

I shall not spend further time in considering their characters. Their counterpart may be found in every street, and in every neighbourhood. The curious student of human nature can study them at will. Julia Forrester was the child of such parents. When she was fifteen, they were in easy circumstances. But at that critical period of their daughter's life, they were ignorant of human nature, and entirely unskilled in the means of detecting false pretension, or discovering true merit.

Indeed, they were much more ready to consider the former as true, and the latter as false. The unpretending modesty of real worth they generally mistook for imbecility, or a consciousness of questionable points of character; while bold-faced assurance was thought to be an open exhibition of manliness—the free, undisguised manner of those who had nothing to conceal.

It is rarely that a girl of Julia's age, but little over fifteen, possesses much insight into character. It was enough for her that her parents invited young men to the house, or permitted them to visit her. Her favour, or dislike, was founded upon mere impulse, or the caprice of first impressions. Among her earliest visitors, was a young man of twenty-two, clerk in a dry-goods' store. He had an open, prepossessing manner, but had indulged in vicious habits for many years, and was thoroughly unprincipled. His name I will call Warburton. Another visitor was a modest, sensible young man, also clerk in another dry-goods' store. He was correct in all his habits, and inclined to be religious. He had no particular end in view in visiting at Forrester's, more than to mingle in society. Still, as he continued his visits, he began to grow fond of Julia, notwithstanding her extreme youth. The fact was, she had shot up suddenly into a graceful woman; and her manners were really attractive. Little could be gleaned, however, in her society, or in that of but few who visited her, from the current chit-chat. It was all chaffy stuff,—mere small-talk. Let me introduce the reader to their more particular acquaintance. There is assembled at Mr. Forrester's a gay social party, such as met there almost every week. It is in the summer time. The windows are thrown open, and the passers-by can look in upon the light-hearted group, at will. Warburton and Julia are trifling in conversation, and the others are wasting. the moments as frivolously as possible. We will join them without ceremony.

"A more beautiful ring than this on your finger, I have never seen. Do you know why a ring is used in marriage?"

"La! no, Mr. Warburton. Do tell me."

"Why, because it is an emblem of love, which has neither beginning nor end."

"And how will you make that out, Sir Oracle? ha! ha!"

"Why as plain as a pike-staff. True love has no beginning; for those who are to be married love each other before they meet. And it cannot have an end. So you see that a ring is the emblem of love."

"That's an odd notion; where did you pick it up?"

"I picked it up nowhere. It is a cherished opinion of my own, and I believe in it as firmly as some of the Jews of old did in the transmigration of souls."

"You are a queer body."

"Yes, I have got some queer notions; so people say: but I think I am right, and those who don't agree with me, wrong. A mere difference of opinion, however. All things are matters of opinion. Aint it so, Perkins?" addressing the young man before alluded to.

"What were you talking about?"

"Why, I was just saying to Julia that all different ideas entertained by different persons, were differences of opinion merely."

"Do you mean to say, that there is no such thing as truth, or error?"

"I do—in the abstract."

"Then we differ, of course—and as it would be, according to your estimation, a mere difference of opinion, no argument on the subject would be in place here."

"Of course not," replied Warburton, rather coolly, and dropped the subject. Julia almost saw that Warburton had made himself appear foolish in the eyes of the dull, insipid Perkins—but her mental vision was closed up as firmly as ever, in a moment.

A loud burst of laughter from a group at the other end of the room, drew the attention of the company, who flocked to the scene of mirth, and soon all were chattering and laughing in a wild and incoherent manner, so loud as to attract the notice of persons in the street.

"Ha! he! he!" laughed a young lady, hysterically, sinking into a chair, with her handkerchief to her mouth—"what a droll body!"

"He-a, he-a, he-o-o-o," more boisterously roared out a fun-loving chap, who knew more about good living than good manners. And so the laugh passed round. The cause of all this uproar, was a merry fellow, who had made a rabbit out of one of the girl's handkerchiefs, and was springing it from his hand against the wall. He seemed to have a fair appreciation of the character of his associates for the evening; and though himself perfectly competent to behave well in the best society, chose to act the clown in this.

In due course, order was restored, more from the appearance of a waiter with nuts and raisins, than from an natural reaction.

"Name my apple, Mr. Perkins,"—(don't smile, reader—it's a true picture)—whispered a young lady to the young man sitting next her.

"It is named."

"Name my apple, Mr. Collins," said Julia, with a nod and a smile.

"It is named."

"And mine, Mr. Collins"—"And mine, Mr. Warburton"—"And mine, Mr. Jones."

The apples being eaten, the important business of counting seed came next in order.

"How many have you got, Julia?"


"She loves!"

"Who is it, Mr. Collins?" asked two or three voices.

"Mr. Warburton," was the reply.

"I thought so, I thought so,—see how she blushes."

And in fact the red blood was mounting fast to Julia's face.

The incident escaped neither the eye of Warburton nor of Perkins. To go through the whole insipid scene would not interest any reader, and so we will omit it.

After the apples were eaten, "hull-gull,"—"nuts in my hand," &c., were played, and then music was called for

"Miss Simmons, give us an air, if you please."

"Indeed you must excuse me, I am out of practice."

"No excuse can be taken. We all know that you can play, and we must hear you this evening."

"I would willingly oblige the company, but I have not touched the piano for two months, and cannot play fit to be heard."

"O, never mind, we'll be the judges of that."

"Come, Miss Simmons, do play for us now, that's a good soul!"

"Indeed you must excuse me!"

But no excuse would be taken. And in spite of protestations, she was forced to take a seat at the piano.

"Well, since I must, I suppose I must. What will you have."

"Give us 'Bonny Doon'—it is so sweet and melancholy," said an interesting-looking young man.

"'Charlie over the Water,' is beautiful—I dote on that pong; do sing it, Miss Simmons!"

"Give us Auld Lang Syne.'"

"Yes, or Burns's Farewell.'"

"'Oft in the Stilly Night,' Miss Simmons—you can sing that."

"Yes, 'Oft in the Stilly Night,'—Miss Simmons," said half-a-dozen voices, and so that was finally chosen. After running her fingers over the keys for a few moments, Miss Simmons started off.

Before she had half finished the first verse, the hum of voices, which had commenced as soon as she began to sing, rose to such a pitch as almost to drown the sound of the instrument. She laboured on through about a verse and a half of the song, when she rose from the piano, and was proceeding to her vacant seat.

"O no!—no!—no!" said half-a-dozen voices at once.

"That will never do-we must have another song."

"Indeed I can't sing to-night, and must be excused," said the lady warmly, and so she was excused. But soon another was chosen to be victimized at the piano, and "will-ye-nill-ye," sing she must. Simultaneous with the sound of the instrument rose the hum of voices, which grew louder and louder, until the performer stopped, discouraged and chagrined.

"That's beautiful! How well you play, Miss Emma!" and Miss Emma was forced to resume the seat she had left half in mortification. All was again still for a moment.

"Can you play the 'Harp and Lute,' Miss Emma?"

"No sir."

"Yes you can, though, for I've heard you many a time," said a smart young lady sitting on the opposite side of the room.

The blood mounted to the performer's cheeks. "Indeed you're mistaken though," half pettishly replied Miss Emma.

"But you can play 'Yankee Doodle,'" retorted the first speaker. Miss Emma left the instrument in anger.

"I'll never speak to the pert minx again as long as I live," whispered Miss Emma in the ear of a friend.

Thus ended the musical exhibition for that evening. As the spirit of wine grew more active, the men became less formal in their attentions, and the young ladies less reserved. Before the company broke up, I almost blush to say, that there was scarcely a lady present who had not suffered her red-ripe lips to be touched by those of every young man in the room. And on all these proceedings, the parents of Julia looked on with keen satisfaction! They liked to see the young people enjoying themselves!

Then there were rambles by moonlight, during which soft things were whispered in the ears of the young ladies. These were the occasions on which Warburton loved most to steal away the fond confidence of Julia; and, by degrees, he succeeded in fixing her regard upon himself. Consent was asked of the parents, and given; and soon Julia Forrester was Mrs. Warburton. It was only six months after the marriage that a commercial crisis arrived; one of those reactions from prosperity which occur in this country with singular regularity, every ten or fifteen years, and swept from Julia's father the whole of his property. This sudden revulsion so preyed upon his mind, that a serious illness came on, which hurried him in a brief period to the grave. The mother of Julia soon followed him. Warburton, ere this, had neglected his wife, and wrung from her many a secret tear. He had married her for the prospect of worldly gain which the connection held out, and not from any genuine regard. And when all hope of a fortune was suddenly cut off, he as suddenly appeared in his real character of a heartless and unprincipled man.

He held the situation of clerk, at the time, in the same store where he had been for years. But immediately upon the death of his father-in-law, a flood of demands for debts due here and there came in upon him, and not having where with to meet them, he was thrown into jail, and obtained his freedom only by availing himself of the law made and provided for the benefit of Insolvent Debtors.

His poor wife knew nothing of the proceedings against him, until he was lodged in the jail. Hour after hour had passed since the time for his return to dinner, and yet she listened in vain for his well-known footsteps. She felt strangely oppressed in feeling when the dim twilight came stealing sadly on, and still he came not home. But when the clock struck nine, ten, eleven,—her distress of mind became heightened to agony. The question, so often asked of herself, "Where can he be?" could find no answer. All night long she sat listening at the window, and sunk into a heavy slumber, just as the grey light of morning stole into the window and paled the expiring lamp. From this slumber, which had continued for nearly two hours, she was aroused by the entrance of a servant, who handed her a note, addressed in the well-known hand of her husband. Tremblingly she tore open the seal; at the first words:



the note fell from her hand, and she pressed her aching head for a moment, as if she feared that her senses would leave her. Then snatching up the paper, she read:—

"Yesterday I was sent here for debt. I owe more than I can possibly pay, and I see no chance of getting out but by availing myself of the Insolvent Law, which I am determined to do. Don't let it trouble you, Julia; I shall not be here long. To-morrow I shall probably be at liberty. Good-bye, and keep a brave heart,


For some time after reading this letter, a stupor came over her senses. Utterly unprepared for such a distressing event, she knew not how to act. The idea of a jail had ever been associated in her mind with disgrace and crime, and to think that her own husband was in jail almost bereft her of rational thought. Slowly, however, she at length rallied, and found herself able to appreciate her situation, and to think more clearly on her course of action.

Her first determination was to go to her husband. This she immediately did. When admitted, she fell senseless in his arms, and it was a long time before she recovered her consciousness. Her presence seemed to move his feelings less than it annoyed him. There was nothing about his manner that sought affectionately her sympathy and confidence—that which gives woman, in situations no matter how distressing, something so much like happiness to bestow. He gave her but little satisfaction as to the manner in which he became involved, and when, after several hours, she prepared to go home, at his suggestion, he told her that she must not come there again, as it was not a fit place for her.

"If you are here, Henry," was her reply, the tears starting freshly to her eyes—"it is a fit place for me."

"That's all nonsense and sentiment, Julia! This is no place for you, and you must not come again. I shall be out in a day or two."

"A day or two is a long—long time,"—and the poor wife's voice trembled as she spoke.

"It will soon pass away."

"It will seem ages to me, and you in this dreadful place. I must come tomorrow, Henry. Tell me who has imprisoned you, and I will go to him, and come to-morrow with his answer. He cannot stand the pleadings of a wife for her husband."

"It's no use, at all, Julia. He is a hard-faced villain, and will insult you if you see him."

"He cannot—he dare not!"

"He dare do anything."

"Dear Henry, tell me his name."

"No!—no!—no!—It's no use to ask me."

She had many times before suffered from his petulance and coldness; but under present circumstances, when she sought to bring him sympathy and relief, to be repulsed, seemed as though it would break her heart. Slowly and in tears did she leave the dreadful place that confined her husband, and sought her home. There she endeavoured to rally her scattered thoughts, and devise some means of relief. Her first movement was to go to the employers of her husband. They received her coldly, and after she had stated the condition of her husband, told her that they could offer no relief, and hinted that his conduct had been such as to forfeit their confidence. This was a double blow; and she returned home with but strength enough to seek her chamber and throw herself, almost fainting, upon her bed.

For hours she lay in a kind of nervous stupor, the most fantastic and troubled images floating through her brain. Sometimes she would start up, at the imagined sound of her husband's voice, and spring to the chamber-door to meet him. But the chilling reality would drive her back in tears. Where now were the crowds of friends that but a short time since had hovered round her? They were but fashionable, soulless insects—the cold winds of adversity had swept them away. Since the failure and death of her father, not one of the many who had called her friend had come near her lonely dwelling. But she could not complain. More than one friend had she deserted, when misfortune came suddenly upon them.

She took no food through the whole of that dreadful day, and could find no oblivious sleep during the night of agony that followed. On the next day, just as she had determined to go again to the prison, her quick ear recognised the foot-fall of her husband. She sprang to meet him, with a gladder heart than she had known for many weeks—but his cold manner and brief words threw back upon her feelings a sickening chill.

"We must move from here, Julia," said he, after a few silent moments, and looked at her as though he expected objection as a matter of course.

"I am willing, if it is necessary, Henry. I will go anywhere with you."

Her manner softened his feelings, and he said more tenderly,

"Things are changed with me, Julia. In expectation of something handsome from your father, I have been imprudent, and am now largely in debt. The Messrs. R. & L. will not, I am sure, take me back into their store, and it will be hard, I am afraid, for me to get a situation in town. Our furniture, which I have secured to you, is all we have, except about money enough to pay our quarter's rent now due. I see no wiser plan for us than to sell this furniture, except enough for one chamber, and then go to boarding. It will bring a sum sufficient to pay our board and other expenses for at least one year, if we manage prudently; and, surely, I can get something to do in the mean time."

"I am willing for anything, dear Henry!" said his wife, twining her arms about his neck, and laying her pale cheek to his. The furniture was accordingly sold, and the reduced and humbled couple removed to a boardinghouse.

As he had expected, Warburton found it hard to get employment. Finally, after doing nothing for two months, he accepted the situation of bar-keeper at one of the city hotels. Julia pleaded hard with him not to go there, for she feared the influence of such a place upon him, but he would listen to no argument.

His wife soon began to observe indications of a change for the worse in his character. He grew more pettish and dissatisfied, and frequently acted towards her with great unkindness. He was rarely, if ever, at home before midnight, and then repulsed every affectionate act or word. Several times he came in intoxicated, and once, while in that state, he struck her a severe blow on the head, which caused an illness of several weeks.

At the end of a year, Warburton had not only become dissipated in his habits, but had connected himself with a set of gamblers, who, as he proved to be a skilful hand, and not at all squeamish, resolved to send him on a trip down the Ohio and Mississippi, to New Orleans, for mutual benefit. To this he had not the slightest objection. He told his wife that he was going to New Orleans on business for the Stage Office, and would probably be gone all winter. Unkind as he had grown, it was hard parting. Gladly would she have taken all the risk of fatigue, to have accompanied him with her babe but four months old, but he would listen to no such proposal. When he did go, she felt sick at heart, and, as the thought flashed across her mind that he might probably desert her, helpless and friendless as she was, it seemed as if the fever of her mind would end in madness.

Regularly, however, for several months, she heard from him, and each time he enclosed her money; but little more than was sufficient to meet expenses. In the last letter she received, he hinted that he might return home in a few weeks. At the usual time of receiving a letter, she waited day after day, hoping and almost fearing to receive one—anxious to hear from him, and yet fearing that he might have changed his mind as to his contemplated return.

Week after week passed, and there were no tidings. Day after day she went to the post-office with an anxious heart, which throbbed quicker and quicker as the clerk mechanically and carelessly turned over letter after letter, and at last pronounced the word "none," with professional indifference. Then it would seem to stop, and lie like a motionless weight in her bosom, and she would steal away paler and sicker than when she came. At last, her distress of mind became so great, that she went, reluctantly, to the stage-office, to inquire if they had heard from him recently. To her hesitating, anxious inquiry, she received the brief reply that they knew nothing of him.

"But is he not in the employment of this office?"

"I hope not," was the short, sneering reply of one of the clerks.

"What do you mean, sir?" she asked, in an excited tone—"he is my husband."

The manner of the man instantly changed. "Nothing, ma'am.—It was only a thoughtless reply. He is not, however, in our employment, and never has been."

Mrs. Warburton turned pale as ashes. A chair was instantly handed to her, and a glass of water, and every kind attention offered.

At this moment a man entered, who eyed Mrs. W. with a vulgar stare. The person who had first spoken to Mrs. W. took him aside, and after conversing in whispers for a few moments, turned to her and said that he had just learned that her husband had joined a band of traders, and was now on his way to Mexico.

"How do you know?" was the quick reply.

"This gentleman has just told me."

"And how do you know, sir?"

"I received a letter from him three weeks ago, in which he stated the fact to me. He has been in my employment ever since he has been away, but has left it and gone to Mexico."

"When did he say he would return?" she asked, in a calm voice.

"That is uncertain, madam."

She tottered out of the office, and stole home with an enfeebled step. "Forsaken!—forsaken!"—was all the form her thoughts would take, until she met the sweet face of her babe, and then her heart felt warmer, and not all forsaken.

"Poor thing! how I pity her," said the clerk in the stage-office, when Mrs. W. had retired. "Her husband is a scoundrel, that's all I know about it," responded the gentleman-gambler, who had sent Warburton out on a swindling expedition.

"The more the pity for his poor wife."

"I wonder if she has any property of his in her hands?" queried the gambler.


"Why?—Why because I'll have my own out of it if she has. I have his note, payable in a week, for money lent; and if he has got a dollar here, I'll have it."

"You'll not turn his wife out of doors, will you?"

"Will I?"—and his face grew dark with evil thoughts.—"Will I?—yes!—what care I for the whining wench! I'll see her to-morrow, and know what we have both to expect."

"Coulson!" said the clerk, in an excited but firm voice—"You shall not trouble that helpless, unfortunate woman!"

"Shall not? ha! Pray, Mr. Sympathy, and how can you hinder me?"

"Look you to that, sir. I act, you know, not threaten."

The gambler's face grew darker, but the clerk turned away with a look of contempt, and resumed his employment.

That night he sought the dwelling of Mrs. Warburton. He found her boarding at a respectable house on—street. He named his business at once, and warned her not to allow herself to get in the power of Coulson, who was a gambler, and an abandoned villain.

When he understood her real situation—that she was in debt for board, and without a dollar, forsaken of her husband, and among strangers, his heart ached for her. Himself but on the salary of a clerk, he could give little or no assistance. But advice and sympathy he tendered, and requested her to call on him at any time, if she thought that he could aid her. A kind word, a sympathising tone, is, to one in such a sad condition, like gentle dews to the parched ground.

"Above all," was his parting admonition, "beware of Coulson! He will injure your character if he can. Do not see him. Forbid the servants to admit him. He will, if he fixes his heart upon seeing you, leave no stone unturned to accomplish it. But waver not in your determination. And be sure to let me know if he persecutes you too closely. Be resolute, and fear not. I know the man, and have crossed his path ere this. And he knows me."

Early on the next day, Coulson called, and with the most insinuating address, asked to see Mrs. Warburton.

"Ask him to send up his name," was Mrs. W.'s reply to the information of the servant, that a gentleman wished to speak to her.

"Coulson," was returned.

"Tell him that I cannot see him."

To this answer he sent back word that his business was important and urgent.

"Tell him that I cannot see him," was the firm reply.

Coulson left the house, baffled for once. The next day he called, and sent up another name.

"He is the same person who called himself 'Coulson' yesterday," said the servant to Mrs. W.

"Tell him that I cannot be seen."

"I'll match the huzzy yet!" he muttered to himself as he left the house.

It now became necessary for Mrs. Warburton to rally all the energies of her nature, feeble though they were, and yet untried. The rate of boarding which she was required to pay, was much beyond what she could now afford. At first she nearly gave up to despair. Thus far in life, she had never earned a single dollar, and, from her earliest recollection, the thought of working for money seemed to imply degradation. But necessity soon destroys false pride. Her greatest concern now was, what she should do for a living. She had learned to play on the piano, to draw and paint, and had practised embroidery. But in all these she had sought only amusement. In not a single one of them was she proficient enough to teach. Fine sewing she could not do. Her dresses had all been made by the mantua-maker, and her fine sewing by the family sempstress. She had been raised in idle pleasure—had spent her time in thrumming on the piano, making calls, tripping about the streets, and entertaining company.

But wherever there is the will, there is a way. Through the kind interference of a stranger, she was enabled to act decisively. Two rooms were procured, and after selling various articles of costly chamber furniture which still remained, she was enabled to furnish them plainly and comfortably, and have about fifty dollars left. Through the kind advice of this same stranger, (where were all her former friends?) employment was had, by which she was soon able to earn from four to five dollars a week.

Her employment was making cigars. At first, the tobacco made her so sick that she was unable to hold her head up, or work more than half her time. But after awhile she became used to it, and could work steadily all day; though she often suffered with a distressing headache. Mrs. Warburton was perhaps the first woman who made cigars in—. Through the application of a third person, to a manufacturer, the work was obtained, and given, from motives of charity.

She had been thus employed for about three months, and was beginning to work skilfully enough to earn four dollars a week, and give all necessary attention to herself and child, when Mr.—, the manufacturer, received a note signed by all the journeymen in his shop, demanding of him the withdrawal of all work from Mrs. Warburton, on pain of their refusal to work a day longer. It was an infringement, they said, upon their rights. Women could afford to work cheaper than men, and would ruin the business.

Mr.—was well off, and, withal, a man who could brook no dictation, in his business. His journeymen were paid their regular wages, and had, he knew, no right to say whom he should employ; and for any such interference he promptly resolved to teach them a lesson. He was, moreover, indignant that a parcel of men, many of whom spent more money at the taverns and in foolish expenses, in the week, than the poor forsaken mother of a young babe could earn in that time, should heartlessly endeavour to rob the more than widow of her hard-earned mite.

"I will sacrifice half that I am worth, before I will yield to such dictation," was his only answer to the demand. The foolish men "struck," and turned out to lounge idly in taverns and other places, until their employer should come to terms. They were, however, soon convinced of their folly; for but a few weeks elapsed before Mr. had employed females to make his cigars, who could afford to work for one-third less than the journeymen had been receiving, and make good wages at that. The consequence was, that the men who had, from motives of selfishness, endeavoured to deprive Mrs. W. of her only chance of support, were unable to obtain work at any price. Several of them fell into idle and dissolute habits, and became vagabonds. Other manufacturers of cigars followed the example of Mr.—, and lessened the demand for journeymen; and the result in this instance was but a similar one to that which always follows combinations against employers—viz: to injure the interests of journeymen.

It was not long before Coulson found out the retreat of Mrs. Warburton, and commenced his persecutions. The note of her husband had fallen due, and his first movement was to demand the payment. Perceiving, however, at once, that to make the money out of any property in her possession was impossible, he changed his manner, and offered to befriend her in any way that lay in his power. For a moment she was thrown off her guard; but remembering the caution she had received, she assumed a manner of the most rigid coldness towards him, and told him that she already had friends who would care for her. The next day she managed to apprize the clerk in the Stage Office of the visit of Coulson, who promptly took measures to alarm his fears, for he was a coward at heart, and effectually prevent his again troubling her.

Little of an interesting nature occurred for about a year, when she received a letter from her husband at Cincinnati. He stated that having despaired of getting along in the business he had entered into on leaving—which had involved him in debt, he had left with a company of traders for Mexico, and had just returned with a little money, with which he wished to go into business. But that if he returned to—, he would be troubled, and all he had taken from him. He enclosed her a hundred dollar note, and wished her to come to him immediately, and to leave—without letting any one know her destination. He professed much sorrow for having left her in so destitute a condition, but pleaded stern necessity for the act.

Mrs. W. did not hesitate a moment. In four days from the time she received the letter, she was on the way to Cincinnati. Arrived there, she was met by her husband with some show of affection. He was greatly changed since she had seen him, and showed many indications of irregular habits. He appeared to have plenty of money, and took rooms for his wife in a respectable boardinghouse. The improvement in his child pleased him much. When he went away it was only about five months old—now it was a bright little boy, and could run about and chatter like a bird. After some hesitation in regard to the kind of business he should select, he at last determined to go into the river-trade. To this Mrs. Warburton gently objected; because it would keep him away from home for months together. But his capital was small, and he at length made his first purchase of produce, and started in a flat-boat for New Orleans. Poor Mrs. W. felt as if deserted again when he left her. But at the end of three months he returned, having cleared four hundred dollars by the trip. He remained at home this time for two months, drinking and gambling; and at the expiration of that period had barely enough left to make a small purchase and start again.

Her troubles, she plainly saw, were just beginning again, and Mrs. Warburton almost wished herself back again in the city, for which, though there she had no friends, her heart yearned.

Her husband did not return, this time, from his river-voyage, for three months; nor did he send his wife during that time any money. The amount left her was entirely exhausted before the end of the second month, and having heard nothing of him since he went away, she feared to get in debt, and, therefore, two weeks before her money was out, applied for work at a cigar-factory. Here she was fortunate enough to obtain employment, and thus keep herself above absolute want.

Long before her husband returned, her heart had fearful forebodings of a second blighting of all its dearest hopes. Not the less painful, were those anticipations, because she had once suffered.

One evening in June, just three months from the time her husband left, she had paused from her almost unremitted employment, during the violence of a tremendous storm, that was raging without. The thunder rattled around in startling peals, and the lightning blazed from cloud to cloud, without a moment's intermission. She could not work while she felt that the bolt of death hung over her. For half an hour had the storm raged, when in one of the pauses which indicated its passing away, she started at the sound of a voice that seemed like that of her husband. In the next moment another voice mingled with it, and both were loud and angry. Fearfully she flung open the door, and just on the pavement, drenched with the rain, and unregardful of the storm, for one more terrible raged within, stood two men, contending with each other in mortal strife, while horrible oaths and imprecations rolled from their lips. One of these, from his distorted face, rendered momently visible in the vivid flashes of the lightning, and from his voice, though loud and disguised by passion, she at once knew to be her husband. His antagonist was not so strong a man, but he was more active, and seemed much cooler. Each had in his hand an open Spanish knife, and both were striking, plunging, and parrying thrusts with the most malignant fury. It was an awful sight to look upon. Two human beings striving for each other's lives amid the fury of a terrible storm, the lightnings of which glanced sharply upon their glittering knives, revealing their fiend-like countenances for an instant, and then leaving them in black darkness.

For a few moments, Mrs. Warburton stood fixed to the spot, but, recalling her scattered senses, she rushed towards the combatants, calling upon them to pause, and repeating the name of her husband in a voice of agony. The result of the strife was delayed but an instant longer, for with a loud cry her husband fell bleeding at her feet. His antagonist passed out of sight in a moment.

Lifting the apparently lifeless form of her husband in her arms, Mrs. Warburton carried or rather dragged him into the house, and placed him upon the bed, where lay their sleeping boy. She then hurried off for the nearest physician, who was soon in attendance.

The first sound that met the ear of Mrs. Warburton, on her return, was the voice of her dear child, eagerly calling, "Pa! pa! wake up, pa!"—And there was the little fellow pulling at the insensible body of his father, in an (sic) extacy of infantile joy at his return.

"Pa come home!—Pa come home, mamma!" And the little fellow clapped his hands, and shook the body of his father in the effort to wake him.

The mother gently lifted her child from the bed. His little face instantly changed its expression into one of fear, when he looked into his mother's countenance. "Pa's very sick, and little Charles must keep still," she whispered to the child, and sat him down in the next room.

When the physician arrived, he found that the knife had entered the left breast just above the heart, but had not penetrated far enough to destroy life. There were also several bad cuts, in different parts of his body, all of which required attention. After dressing them, he left the still insensible man in the care of his wife and one of his assistants, with directions to have him called should any alarming symptom occur. It was not until the next morning that there was any apparent return of consciousness on the part of the wounded man. Then he asked in a feeble voice for his wife. She had left the bed but a moment before, and hearing him speak, was by his side in an instant.

"Julia, how came I here? What is the matter?" said he, rousing up, and looking anxiously around. But overcome with weakness from the loss of blood, he sank back upon the bed, and remained apparently insensible for some time. But he soon showed evidence of painful recollection having returned. For his breathing became more laboured, under agitated feelings, and he glanced his eyes about the room with an eager expression. After a few minutes he buried his face in the bed-clothes and sighed heavily. Distinct, painful consciousness had returned.

In a few days he began to grow stronger, and was able to sit up; and with the return of bodily vigour came back the deadly passions that had agitated him on the night of his return home. The man, he said, had literally robbed him of his money, (in fact, won it); had cheated him out of every dollar of his hard-earned gains, and he would have his life.

When hardly well enough to walk about, Warburton felt the evil influence of his desire for revenge so strong, as to cause him to seek out the individual who, he conceived, had wronged him, by winning from him, or cheating him out of his money. They met in one of the vile places in Cincinnati, where vice loves to do her dark work in secret. Truly are they called hells, for there the love of evil and hatred of the neighbour prompt to action. Every malignant passion in the heart of Warburton was roused into full vigour, when his eyes fell upon the face of his former associate. Instantly he grasped his knife, and with a yell of fiendish exultation sprang towards him, like some savage beast eager for his prey. The other gambler was a cool man, and hard to throw off of his guard. His first movement was to knock Warburton down, then drawing his Spanish knife, he waited calmly and firmly for his enemy to rise. Blind with passion, Warburton sprang to his feet and rushed upon the other, who received him upon the point of his knife, which entered deep into the abdomen. At the same instant, Warburton's knife was plunged into the heart of his adversary, who staggered off from its point, reeled for a few seconds about the room, and then fell heavily upon the floor. He was dead before the cool spectators of the horrid scene could raise him up.

From loss of blood Warburton soon fainted, and when he came to himself, he found that he had been conveyed to his home, and that his weeping wife stood over him. There were also others in the room, and he soon learned that he was to be conveyed, even in the condition he was then in, to prison, to await his trial for murder.

In vain did his poor heart-stricken wife plead that he might be left there until he recovered, or even until his wound was dressed; but she pleaded in vain. On a litter, faint from loss of blood, and groaning with pain, he was carried off to prison. By his side walked her whom no ill treatment or neglect could estrange.

Three months he was kept in jail, attended daily by his uncomplaining wife, who supported herself and little boy, with her own hands, sparing much for her husband's comfort. The wound had not proved very dangerous, and long before his trial came on, he was as well as ever.

The day of trial at length came, and Mrs. Warburton found that it required her strongest efforts to keep sufficiently composed to comprehend the true nature and bearing of all the legal proceedings. Never in her life before had she been in a court of justice, and the bare idea of being in that, to her awful, place, stunned at first all her perceptions; especially as she was there under circumstances of such deep and peculiar interest.

Next to her husband, in the bar, did this suffering woman take her place: and that husband arraigned before. his country's tribunal for the highest crime—murder! How little did she dream of such an awful situation, years before, when a gay, thoughtless, innocent girl, she gave up in maiden confidence, and with deep joy, her affections to that husband. Passing on step by step, in misery's paths, she had at last reached a point, the bare idea of which, had it been entertained as possible for a moment, would have almost extinguished life. Now, her deep interest in that husband who had abused her confidence, and almost extinguished hope in her bosom, kept her up, and enabled her to watch with unwavering attention every minute proceeding.

After the indictment was read, and the State's Attorney, in a comprehensive manner, had stated the distinct features of the case, which he pledged himself to prove by competent witnesses, poor Mrs. Warburton became sick and faint. A clearer case of deliberate murder could not, it seemed to her, be made out. Still, she was sure there must be palliating circumstances, and longed to be permitted to rise and state her impressions of the case. Once she did start to her feet, but a right consciousness returned before she had uttered a word. Shrinking into her seat again, she watched with a pale face and eager look, the course of the proceedings.

Witness after witness was called on the part of the state, each testifying distinctly the fact of Warburton's attack upon the murdered man, and his threat to take his life. Hope seemed utterly to fail from the heart of the poor wife, when the testimony on the part of the prosecution closed. But now came the time for the examination of witnesses in favour of the prisoner. Soon Mrs. Warburton was seen upon her feet, bending over towards the witness' stand, and eagerly devouring each word. Rapid changes would pass over her countenance, as she comprehended, with a woman's quickness of perception, rendered acute by strong interest, the bearing which the evidence would have upon the case. Now her eye would flash with interest and her face become flushed—and now her cheek would pale, and her form seem to shrink into half its dimensions. Oh! who can imagine one thousandth part of all her sufferings on that awful occasion? When, finally, the case was given to the jury, and after waiting hour after hour at the court-house, to hear the decision, she had to go home long after dark, in despair of knowing the result before morning, it seemed hardly possible that she could pass through that night and retain her senses. She did not sleep through the night's long watches—how could she sleep? Hours before the court assembled, she was at the court-house, waiting to know the fate of one, who now, in his fearful extremity, seemed dearer to her than ever. Slowly passed the lingering minutes, and at length ten o'clock came. The court-room was filled to suffocation, but through the dense crowd she made her way, and took her place beside her anxious husband. The court opened, and the foreman of the jury came forward to read the verdict. Many an eye sought with eager curiosity, or strong interest, the face of the wife. Its calmness was strange and awful. All anxiety, all deep interest had left it, and as she turned her eye upon the foreman, none could read the slightest exhibition of emotion. "GUILTY OF MURDER IN THE SECOND DEGREE!" Quick as thought a hundred eyes again sought the face of Mrs. Warburton. It was pale as ashes, and her insensible form was gently reclining upon the arm of her husband, which had been extended to save her from falling.

When recollection returned, she was lying upon her own bed, in her own chamber, with her little boy crying by her side. Those who had, from humane feelings, conveyed her home, suffered the dictates of humanity to die in their bosoms ere her consciousness returned; and thus she was left, insensible, with no companion but her child.

In due course, Warburton was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, the first three years to be passed in solitary confinement. During the first term, no person was to be allowed to visit him. The knowledge of such a sentence was a dreadful blow to Mrs. Warburton. She parted from him in the court-room, on the day of his sentence, and for three long, weary years, her eyes saw him not again.

But a short time after the imprisonment of Warburton, another babe came into the world to share the misery of her whose happiness he had, in all his actions, so little regarded. When able again to go about, and count up her store, Mrs. Warburton found that she had little left her beyond a willing heart to labour for her children. It would have been some comfort to her if she had been permitted to visit her husband, but this the law forbade.

"Despair is never quite despair," and once more in her life did Mrs. Warburton prove this. The certainty that there could be no further dependence upon her husband, led her to repose more confidently in her own resources, for a living, and they did not fail her. She had long since found out that our necessities cost much less than our superfluities, and therefore she did not sit down in idle despondency. Early in the morning and late at night was she found diligently employed, and though her compensation was not great, it was enough to supply her real wants.

For two years had she supported thus with her own hands herself and children. The oldest was now a smart little fellow of five years, and the youngest a fair-haired girl of some two summers. Thus far had she kept them around her; but sickness at last came. Nature could not always sustain the heavy demands made upon her, and at last sunk under them.

There are many more cases of extreme suffering in this country than persons are generally willing to believe. These extreme cases are among those whose peculiar feelings will not allow of their making known their real condition. They are such as were once members of some social circle, far removed indeed from the apparent chances of poverty. Their shrinking pride, their yearning desire for independence clings closer and closer to them, and operates more and more powerfully, as they sink lower and lower, from uncontrollable causes, into the vale of want and destitution. Beggars with no feelings, and no claims beyond those of idleness and intemperance, thrust themselves forward, and consume the bread of charity, that should go to nourish the widow and the orphan, who suffer daily and nightly, rather than ask for aid.

One to whom the idea of eating the bread of charity had ever been a painful and revolting one, was Mrs. Warburton. So long as she was able, she had earned with untiring industry, the food that nourished her children. But close confinement, insufficient nourishment, labour beyond her strength, and above all, a wounded spirit, at last completed the undermining work, which threw down the tottering and feeble health that had long kept her at her duties.

It was mid-winter when she was severely attacked by a bilious-pleurisy. For some weeks she had drooped about, hardly able to perform half her wonted labour—most of that time suffering from a hard cough and distressing pain in the side, which was augmented almost to agony while bending steadily, and for hours over her work. Taking, as it did, all that she could earn to keep herself and children in comfort during the winter, she had nothing laid up for a time of more pressing need; and, as for the last few weeks, she had earned so little as to have barely enough for necessaries, when helplessness came, she was in utter destitution, Her wood was just out, except a few hard, knotted logs; her flour was out, and her money gone. When she could no longer sit up, she sent her little boy for a physician, who bled her, and left her some powerful medicines. The first gave temporary relief, and the latter reduced her to a state of great bodily and mental weakness. He did not call in again until the second day, when he found the children both in bed with their mother, who was suffering greatly from a return of the pain in her side. The room was chilly, for there was no fire, and it was intensely cold without, and the ground covered with a deep snow. He again bled her, which produced immediate relief, and learning that she had no wood, called in at the next door, where lived a wealthy family, and stated the condition of their poor neighbour A child of six years old stood by his mother while the physician was speaking. The lady seemed much affected when told of the sufferings of the, poor woman, politely thanked the physician for making her acquainted with the fact, and promised immediate attention.

That evening there was to be at this house a large party. Extra servants had been employed that day, and all was bustle and preparation.

"Sarah," called the lady, a few minutes after, to her housekeeper—"Sarah, Dr. H—was here just now, and said that the poor woman who lives next door is sick and out of fuel. Tell John to take her in an armful of wood, and do you just step in and see what more she is in want of."

"Yes, ma'am," responds Sarah, and muttering to herself some dissatisfaction at the order, descends to the kitchen, and addresses a sable man-servant, and kind of doer-of-all-work-in-general, in doors and out,

"John, Mrs.—says you must take an armful of wood in to Mrs. Warrington; I believe that is the woman's name who lives next door."

"Who? de woman whose husband in de (sic) Penetentiary?"

"Yes, that's the one, John."

"Don't love to meddle wid dem guess sort of folks, Miss Sarah. 'Druder not be gwine in dere," responds the black, with a broad grin at his own humour.

"Well, I don't care whether you do or not," responds Sarah, and glides swiftly away, satisfied to do one part of her order and forget the other, which related to her going in to see the poor woman herself. Mrs.—shifted off the duty on her housekeeper, and she contented herself by forgetting it.

Little William, who was present with his mother when the doctor called, was, like all children, a true republican, and had often played with the child of the sick woman. He had seen his little playmate but a few times since the cold weather set in; but had all his sympathies aroused, at the doctor's recital. Being rather more suspicious of the housekeeper than his mother, and no doubt for good reasons best known to himself, he followed on to the kitchen, and was an ear-witness to what passed between John and the sub-mistress of the mansion.

"Come, John, now that's a good fellow," said he to the negro, after the housekeeper had retired, "take in some wood to poor Mrs. Warburton."

"'Fraid, Massa Billy, 'deed. 'Fraid of (sic) penetentiary—ha! ha!! ha!!!"

"She can't help that, though, John. So come along, and take the wood in."

"'Fraid, i'deed, Massa Billy."

"Well, if you don't, I'll take it in myself, and dirty all my clothes, and then somebody will find it out, without my turning tell-tale."

John grinned a broad smile, and forthwith, finding himself outwitted, carried in the wood, and left it in the middle of the floor, without saying a word.

Towards evening, just before the company assembled, little William, not at all disposed to forget, as every one else had done, the poor sufferers next door, went to the housekeeper's room, where she was busy as a bee with preparations for the party, and stationed himself in the door, accosted her with—

"Miss Sarah, have you been in to see Mrs. Warburton, as ma told you, to-day?"

"That's no concern of yours, Mr. Inquisitive."

"But I'd just like to know, Miss Sarah; 'cause I'm going in myself, if you hav'nt been."

"Do you suppose that I have not paid attention to what your ma said? I know my own business, without instruction from you."

"Well, I don't believe you've been in, so I don't, that's all; and if you don't say yes or no at once, why, you see, I'll go right in myself."

"Well (coaxingly) never mind, Billy, I haint been in, I've been so busy; but just wait a little bit, and I'll go There's no use of your going; you can't do nothing."

"I know that, Miss Sarah, and that's why I want you to go in. But if you don't go in, I will, so there, now!"

"Well, just wait a little bit, and I'll go."

The child, but half satisfied, slowly went away, but lingered about the passages to watch the housekeeper. Night, however, came on, and he had not seen her going. All were now busy lighting up, and making the more immediate and active preparations for the reception of company, when he met her in the hall, and to his, "Look here, I say, Miss Sarah," she hurried past him unheeding.

The company at last assembled, and the hours had passed away until it was nine o'clock. Without, all was cold, bleak, and cheerless. Within, there was the perfection of comfort.

Little William had been absent for some time, but no one missed him. Just as a large company were engaged in the various ways of passing time, dancing, chatting, and partaking of refreshments, the room door opened, and in came Master Billy, dragging in by the hand, a little barefoot fellow about his own age, with nothing on but a clean, well-patched shirt, and a pair of linen trowsers. Without heeding the company, he pulled him up to the glowing grate, and in the fulness of his young benevolent heart, cried out,

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse