The Lights and Shadows of Real Life
by T.S. Arthur
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"Here's fire, Charley! Warm yourself, old fellow! Hurrah! I guess I've fixed Miss Sarah now." And the little fellow clapped his hands as innocently and as gracefully, as if there had been no one in the room but himself and Charley.

All was agreeable and curious confusion in a few minutes, and scores crowded around the poor child with a lively interest, who, an hour before would have passed him in the street unnoticed.

"Why, Willy! what does all this mean?" exclaimed the father, after something like order had been restored.

"Why, pa, you see, this is Charley Warburton," began the little fellow, holding the astonished Charley by the hand, and presenting him quite ceremoniously to his father. "Doctor H—came here to-day, and told ma that his mother was sick next door, and that they had no wood. So ma tells Sarah to send John in with some wood, and to go in herself and see if they wanted anything. So Sarah goes and tells John to go and take some wood in. But John he wa'nt going to go, till I told him that if he didn't go I would, and if I went to carrying in wood, I'd dirty all my clothes, and then somebody would want to know the reason. So John he carried in some wood. Then I watched Sarah, but she didn't go in. So I told her about it. And then she promised, but didn't go. I told her again, and she promised, but didn't go. I waited and waited until night, and still Sarah didn't go in. Then you see, awhile ago I slipped out the front door, and tried to go in to Mrs. Warburton's. But it was all so dark there, that I couldn't see anybody; and when I called 'Charley,' here, his mother said, softly, 'who's there,' and I said 'it's only little Willy. Ma wants to know if you don't want nothing.' 'Oh, it's little Willy—it's little Willy!' says Charley, and he jumps on the floor, and then we both came in here. O! it's so dark and cold in there—do pa go in, and make John build them a fire."

During the child's innocent but feeling recital, more than one eye filled with tears. Mrs.—hung down her head for a moment, in silent upbraidings of heart, for having consigned a work of charity to neglectful and unfeeling servants. Then taking her child in her arms, she hugged him to her bosom, and said,

"Bless you, bless you, my boy! That innocent heart has taught your mother a lesson she will not soon forget." The father felt prouder of his son than he had ever felt, and there were few present who did not almost wish him their own. Little Charley was asked by Mr.—if he was hungry, on observing him wistfully eyeing a piece of cake.

"We haint had nothin' to eat all day, sir, none of us."

"And why not, my little man?" asked Mr.—in a voice of assumed calmness.

"'Cause, sir, we haint got nothin' to eat in the house. Mother always had good things for us till she got sick, and now we are all hungry, and haint got nothin' to eat."

"Here, Sarah, (to the housekeeper, who came in at the moment)—no, not you, either—do you, Emma, (to his wife,) give this hungry child some nourishing food with your own hands. He has a claim on you, for the sake of our little Willy."

Mrs.—was not slow in relieving Charley's wants and then, after excusing herself to the company, she visited, with John and Sarah, the humble, uncomplaining child of humanity, who had been suffering, so painfully, in the next house to her comfortable dwelling.

The light carried by John revealed, in the middle of the floor, the armful of wood, in large logs, almost impossible to kindle, which the servant had thrown down there without a word, or an offer to make a fire. Mrs.—'s heart smote her when she saw this evidence of her neglect of true charity. Enveloped in the bed-clothes, she found Mrs. Warburton and her little child, the former suffering from pain and fever, and the latter asleep, with tears glistening on her eyelashes. The room was so cold that it sent chills all over her, as she had come in without throwing a shawl around her shoulders.

"I am sorry to find you so sick, and everything around you so cold and comfortless," she said, addressing Mrs. Warburton.

"I don't feel so very sick, ma'am, only when I try to sit up, I grow so faint, and have to lie down again. If my little things had anything to eat, I wouldn't mind it much."

Just then, aroused by the voice of her mother, the little girl awoke, and began moaning and crying. She could not speak plain, and her "bed and mik, mamma"—"O, mamma, bed and mik," thrilled every heart-string of Mrs.—, who had never before in her life witnessed the keen distress of a mother while her child asked in vain for bread. She drew the child out of bed, and kissing it, handed it to Sarah, whose feelings were also touched, and told her to take the little thing into her house, and give it to the nurse, with directions to feed it, and then come back.

By this time, John, rather more active than usual, had kindled a fire, the genial warmth of which began already to soften the keen air of the room. Some warm drinks were prepared for Mrs. Warburton; and Mrs.—had the satisfaction to see her, in the course of half an hour, sink away into a sweet and refreshing slumber. On glancing around the room, she was gratified, and somewhat surprised, to see everything, though plain and scanty, exhibiting the utmost order and cleanliness. The uncarpeted floor was spotless, and the single pine table as white as hands could make it. "How much am I to blame," was her inward thought, "for having so neglected this poor woman in her distress and in her poverty!"

On returning to her company, and giving a history of the scene she had just witnessed, the general feeling of sympathy prompted immediate measures for relief, and a very handsome sum was placed in the hands of Mrs.—, by the gentlemen and ladies present, for the use of Mrs. Warburton. Rarely does a social company retire with each individual of it so satisfied in heart as did the company assembled at Mrs.—'s, on that evening. Truly could they say, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

The incident just related, possessing a kind of romantic interest, soon became noised about from family to family, and for awhile it was fashionable to minister to the wants of Mrs. Warburton—whose health continued very delicate—and to her young family. But a few months passed away, and then one after another ceased to remember or care for her. Even Mrs.—, the mother of little Billy, began to grow weary of charity long continued, and to feel that it was a burdensome task to be every day or two obliged to call in or inquire after the poor invalid. Finally, she dismissed the subject from her mind, and left Mrs. Warburton to the tender mercies of Sarah, the housekeeper.

From a state of deep despondence to one of hope, had Mrs. Warburton been raised, by the timely aid afforded through the persevering interference of the little playmate of her son. But she soon began to perceive, after a time, that the charity was only spasmodic, and entered into without a real consideration of her peculiar case. The money given her was the best assistance that could have been rendered, for with this she obtained a supply of wood, flour, meal, potatoes, and some warm clothing for her little ones. But this would not last always, and the multitude of little nice things sent from this one and that, were of but little service.

The month of March, so trying to a weak and shattered constitution, found her just well enough to venture out to seek for employment at her old business of cigar-making. She readily obtained work, and again sat down to earn for herself and children, the bread that should nourish them. But she was soon made to feel keenly that her health was not as it had been. A severe pain in the side was her daily companion, and she had to toil on, often sick and faint, from daylight until long after others had sought the grateful repose of their pillows. Painfully alive to a sense of dependence, she was ready at any time to work beyond her strength rather than to eat the bread of charity. This kept her steadily bending over her work until nature again became exhausted, and she was forced, from direct debility, to suspend her labours for at least the half of every day. As April came in, with an occasional warm day, her appetite gradually left her, and she began to experience a loathing of food. Weakness, headaches, and other painful warnings of nature, were the consequences. Her earnings were now so small, that she with difficulty procured enough of food for her children. She knew that if she would let Mrs.—know her pressing destitution, food and other necessaries would be supplied; but she shrank from telling her wants. Finding, however, that her strength continued to fail, until she was unable to sit up but for a few hours at a time, and that, in consequence of her extreme weakness, the nausea produced by the tobacco was so great, as to render it almost impossible for her to work in it, she made up her mind to let her boy go in to Mrs.—, with a request to send her some little thing that she could eat, in hopes that something from her table might provoke an appetite.

Mrs.—was sitting at her dinner-table, which was covered with the luxuries of the season, when little Charley came into the room and handed in his poor mother's request.

"Please, ma'am, mother says will you be so good as to send her some little thing that she could eat. She has no appetite, and not eatin' makes her so weak."

"Here's some pie, Charley," struck in little Billy. "It's good, I tell you! Eat it now; and ma, do send in Charley's mother a piece, too: I know she'll like it."

But Billy and his mother did not agree in this. The latter thought a little sago would be much better. So she gave Charley a paper in which were a few spoonfuls of sago.

"Here is some sago, mother," said Charley, on his return, "Mrs.—says it will do you good."

Now it so happened that, from a child, she had never liked sago. There was something in it so insipid to her, that she had never felt an inclination to more than taste it. Particularly now did her stomach loathe it. But, even if she had felt an inclination to taste the sago, she had not, at the time, any way to prepare it so as to make it palatable. She did not, however, at the time, send for anything else. She still had some flour and potatoes, and a little change to buy milk, and on these her children fared very well. Healthy food does not cost a great deal in this country, and Mrs. Warburton had long before learned to husband well her resources.

On the next morning she tried to get up, but fainted away on the floor. Her children were still asleep, and were not even awakened by her fall. It was some time before she recovered sufficiently to crawl upon the bed; and there she lay; almost incapable of thought or motion, for hours. As feeble nature reacted again, and she was able to think over her situation, she made up her mind to send in her little boy again to Mrs.—, with an apology for not using the sago, and request her to give her some little thing from her table—anything at all that would be likely, as she said, "to put a taste in her mouth," and induce an appetite for food. The child delivered the message in the best way he knew how, but some how or other it offended the ear of Mrs.—, who had begun to be tired of what she was pleased to call the importunities of Mrs. Warburton; though, in fact, she had never before even hinted that she was in want of anything. The truth was, Sarah, the housekeeper, had heard something from somebody, about Mrs. Warburton, and had been relating the puerile scandal to Mrs.—, who, instead of opposing the tattling propensity in her servant, encouraged it, by lending to her silly stories an attentive ear. But the story was false, from beginning to end, as are nearly all the idle rumours which are constantly circulating from one family to another, through the medium of servants.

"How did she do," she had just been saying to Sarah, "before I befriended her? It is a downright imposition upon my good-nature, and I have no notion of encouraging idleness."

"The fact is, ma'am," chimed in the maid, "these here poor people, when you once help 'em, think you must be a'ways at it; they find it so much easier to beg than work."

Just at this stage of conversation, the child timidly preferred the humble and moderate request of his sick mother; a request that should have thrilled the heart of any one possessing a single human sympathy. But it came at the wrong moment. The evil of self-love was active in the heart of Mrs.—, and all love of the neighbour was for the time extinguished. She cast upon the child a look so forbidding that the little fellow turned involuntarily to go.

"Here, Sarah," said she, in a half-angry tone, "send Mrs. Warburton a dried herring. Perhaps that will 'put a taste in her mouth.'"

And a herring was sent!

"It's a pretty pass, indeed," said Miss Sarah, as the child closed the door, "when beggars become choosers!"

Only half satisfied with herself, Mrs.—turned away and made no reply. How differently did she feel on the night, when, with her own hands, she ministered to the wants of this same suffering child of humanity! Then her heart, though melted even to tears, felt a bounding gladness, from the consciousness of having relieved the suffering. Now it was heavy and sad in her bosom, and she could not hush the whispers of an accusing conscience.

Little Charley carried home the herring, and laid it on the bed before his sick mother. His own little heart was full, for he could not mistake the manner of Mrs.—for kindness. Mrs. Warburton looked at the uninviting food, and turned her head away. After awhile, it did seem to her as if the fish would taste good to her, and she raised herself up with an effort, and breaking off a small piece, put it languidly to her lips. The morsel thrilled upon the nerve of taste, and she ate the greater part of it with a relish she had not known for many weeks.

In the mean time the heart of Mrs.—smote her so severely, when all at once she remembered having lost her appetite after a spell of sickness, and the difficulty with which she regained it;—how during the day, nothing could tempt her to eat, while all night long she would dream of rich banquets, of which she eagerly desired to partake, but which changed to tasteless morsels, when she lifted the inviting food to her lips. For a time she strove against her feelings, but at last gave up, and ringing for the cook, directed her to broil a couple of thin slices of ham very nicely, make a good cup of tea, and a slice or two of toast. When this was ready, it was sent in to Mrs. Warburton. It came just in time, and met the excited appetite of the faint-hearted invalid. It was like manna in the wilderness, and revived and refreshed her drooping frame.

From this time she gradually regained her appetite and strength; and had the gratification of being able to earn with her own hands enough for the support of her children.

This she continued to do until the expiration of the solitary confinement term of her husband. How wearily passed the long, long days and nights, as the time approached for her again to look upon the face that had been hid from her sight for three sorrowful years! The long absence had only excited her affection for him. Not as the dead had she thought of him, but as of the living, and of the suffering. Her own deep poverty, sickness, and anxious concern for her children she counted as nothing to his lonely endurance of life.

Some weeks before the expiration of the first term of imprisonment, she gathered together all her little store, and having sold many heavy articles, packed the rest, and had them started for Columbus, the capital of the state. She then took a deck-passage for herself and children in a steamboat for Portsmouth, from which place she determined to walk, carrying her youngest child, a little girl of nearly three years, in her arms. I will not linger with her, nor trace her toilsome and lonely journey through strange places, continued without a day's intermission, until she at last came in sight of the long-looked-for place. After the time-worn state-house, the next building that met her eye, was the old, dark-looking prison, in which was confined her husband. How gladly did her eyes greet its sombre walls! It was the dwelling-place of one, for whom, in all his wanderings, her heart retained its warm emotions of love. Suddenly, like a parching wind of the desert, came upon her the thought that he might be dead. For three long years she had not been permitted to receive tidings from him, and who could tell, if in that time, the wing of death had not o'ershadowed him? Trembling, weary, and sick at heart, she made her way first to the prison-gate, and there, to her unspeakable joy, she learned that he still lived.

For many nights previous to the day on which permission would be granted her to see him, sleep had parted from her eyelids; and when the time did come, she was in a high state of mental excitement. Morning slowly dawned upon her anxious eyes, but seemed as if it would never give place to the broad daylight. At last the sun came slowly up from his bright chambers in the east. It was the day on which she should again see her husband; the long-looked-for, the long-hoped-for. Tremblingly she stole out, ere the day was an hour old, and ran, not walked, to the gloomy dwelling-place of her husband.

For several days previous she had not been able to keep away from the prison, and the keeper, who knew her errand, had become much interested in her case. He received her kindly, and made instant preparation for the desired interview.

For three years Warburton had not heard the music of a human voice. Far away from the sight or sound of his fellow-prisoners, he had dwelt alone, visited only by the mute keeper who had brought his daily food, or otherwise ministered to his wants. To his earnest and oft-repeated inquiries if nothing was known of his wife and children, for whose welfare a yearning anxiety had sprung up in his breast, he was answered only by a gloomy silence. He did not know, even on the morning of his release from solitary confinement, that the all-enduring companion of his better days had come to cheer his anxious eyes with her presence. Soon after daylight of this morning the door of his cell turned heavily on its hinges, and he was brought out among his fellows, and heard again the sweetest music that had ever fallen upon his ear, the music of the human voice. A stronger thrill of pleasure had never passed through his frame. He felt as though he could remain thus shut out from the rest of the world for ever, so that he could see and talk with his fellow-men. He did not then think of the keen delight that awaited him, for in the first impulse of selfish gratification he had forgotten the being who loved him better than life.

An hour had not passed when he was again called for. The door of a private apartment in the keeper's house was thrown open, and he entered alone. There was but one being present: a pale, haggard woman, poorly clad, who tottered towards him with extended arms. At that moment both hearts were too full, and their lips were sealed in silence. But oh! how eagerly did each bind the other in a long, long embrace! It seemed as if their arms would never be unlocked. For one hour were they left, thus alone. But how were years crowded into that hour; years of endurance—terrible endurance!

It seemed scarcely one-tenth of that short time, when Mrs. Warburton was summoned away, but with the kind permission to visit her husband at the same hour every day. Slowly she passed beneath the ponderous gate, and still more slowly moved away, thinking how long it would be before another day had passed, bringing another blessed interview.

The case of Warburton and his faithful wife soon came to the ears of the governor, and he having expressed considerable sympathy for them, the fact was soon made known to Mrs. Warburton, who was recommended to petition him in person for a remission of the sentence. The hint was no sooner given than acted upon, and after a delay of several months of hope and fear, to the joy of her heart, she found her husband at liberty.

In some of his former business or gambling transactions he had become possessed of a clear title to three hundred acres of land, upon which was a log-cabin, situated about thirty miles eastward from the capital of the state, and nearly upon the national road. Searching among his papers, still preserved by his wife, he found the deed, and as nothing better offered, he started with his family and but ten dollars, to begin the world anew as a backwoods farmer. The few articles of furniture which his wife had preserved, served to render the dilapidated cabin, in which was not a single pane of glass, sash, or shutter, barely comfortable. It was early in the spring when they re-moved, and though the right time for planting corn and the ordinary table vegetables, yet it would be months before they would be fit to use. In the mean time, a subsistence must be had. The quickest way to obtain food Warburton found in the use of his rifle, for wild turkeys and deer abounded in the forest. He also managed to take a few dozen turkeys now and then to a neighbouring town, and dispose of them for corn-meal, flour, and groceries. In about a month he was enabled to sell one hundred acres of his land for three hundred dollars, one hundred in money, and the balance in necessary things for stocking a farm. He was now fairly started again, with a cow, a horse, and all requisite agricultural implements.

Mrs. Warburton did not feel satisfied in her own mind that this sudden relief from daily pressing want would be a real benefit to them. She had learned to suspect the reformation which was effected by the force of external circumstances, while no salutary change in the will was going on. For some time, however, she had every reason to be encouraged. Her husband was industrious, and careful to make the best he possibly could out of his farm, and was kind and attentive to her and his children. Their garden, as the summer wore away, presented a rich supply of vegetables, and their corn and potatoes in the fall yielded enough for their use during the winter, besides several bushels for sale.

The winter, however, did not pass away without several indications on the part of Warburton of a disposition to indulge in the pleasures of the bottle. There had been, in the course of the summer, a tavern erected, about a mile from his dwelling, on the national road; and here, during the dull winter months, he too frequently resorted, to pass away the hours, with such persons as are usually to be found at these haunts of idleness.

The income of this house, as a place of accommodation for travellers, was very small, for within four miles of it stood a tavern and stage-house, kept in a style that had made it known to the travelling public. It was simply a receptacle for the odd change of the neighbours, at times when they had an hour or two to spare from business. Gradually, its business increased, and as gradually the farms of one or two individuals in the neighbourhood, who were, more frequently than others, to be found at the tavern, evinced a corresponding decrease in their flourishing condition. Fences that never wanted a panel were now broken in many places; and barns that never admitted a drop of rain, now leaked at a hundred pores. Once, there was an air of cheerfulness and plenty around their dwellings; now, wives and children looked, the former troubled and broken in spirits, the latter dirty and neglected. Where once reigned peace and quietness, existed wrangling and strife.

During the succeeding farming season, Warburton gave considerable attention—cultivating his ground, which in the fall yielded him an abundant return. Still, during the summer, he visited the "White Hall Tavern" too frequently, and was too often under the bewildering and exciting influence of liquor. The next winter tended greatly to complete the work of dissipation, which had been commenced a year before. Frequently he would come home so much intoxicated as to be lost to all reason. At such times he was not the stupid, good-natured, drunken fool that is often met with; he was then a cruel, unreasonable and exacting tyrant. His poor wife and children did not only suffer from his wordy ill temper, but had to endure in silence his blows, and often tremble even for their lives. When sober, an indistinct remembrance of his cruelties and other bad conduct, instead of softening his feelings towards his family, made him moodily silent, or cross and snappish if a word were said to him.

The constant and almost daily drain of small change for liquor, had nearly exhausted all the money in the house long before the winter was over. The accommodating landlord seemed to discover, as by instinct, this condition of things, and encouraged Warburton to run up a score. He well knew that at any time it was easy to get the payment out of a man who had a good farm, well stocked. Not so much for the money to be made at the business, as for the purpose of attracting more persons to his tavern, the landlord of the "White Hall" kept a small store. At this store, Warburton, long before the winter was over, had also made a pretty large bill. As if to atone for his unkindness to, and neglect of his family, he would rarely return from his voluntary visits at the tavern, without bringing home something. A few pounds of sugar to-day, some cheese or fish to-morrow, or some dried fruit on the day after. The excuse, that such and such a thing was wanted, was often made to get away to the public house, and thus scarcely a day passed without a dollar or two being entered against him on the books of the smiling landlord.

When the spring opened, and his bill was made out, much to his surprise, he found his account to be one hundred and fifty dollars! After some two or three weeks' pondering on the matter, during which time he was cross and sulky at home, two fine cows and one of his best horses were quietly transferred from his pasture to the more capacious one of the landlord of the "White Hall;" and thus his account was squared with Boniface.

The discouragement consequent upon such a reduction of his stock, tended to make him less industrious and less pleasant. He was constantly grumbling about his expensive family, and could not afford to send his two oldest children to a school just opened in the neighbourhood, although the master offered to take them both for five dollars a quarter. His wife, he said, could teach them at home. And in this she was not neglectful, as far as her time allowed.

How rarely does the drunkard, when once fairly started, stop in his downward course! How similar is the history of each one! Neglect of business—neglect of family—confirmed idleness—abuse of family—waste of property—and finally, abject poverty.

In less than three years from the day on which he breathed the air again as a free man—free, through the untiring assiduity of his neglected but faithful wife, he struck her to the ground, and unregardful of all the ties of nature, left her alone with her children, in the wilds of the west, after having made over house and farm to the land lord of the "White Hall," for fifty dollars and his bill at the bar.

Day after day did his poor wife wait and look for him to return, until even hope failed, and she at last, with a heavy heart, commenced the task of recalling her own energies in aid of the little ones around her.

But she soon found her condition to be far worse than she had imagined. But a few days passed after her husband had left her before the hard-hearted tavern-keeper came, and removed everything but the house in which she lived from off the place, and then gave her notice that she must also remove, and in three weeks, as he had rented the farm to a man who wished to take immediate possession.

Hope, the kind and ever attendant angel of the distressed, for more than a week seemed ready to depart; but at the end of that time, a faint desire to return to her native city began to grow into a resolution, and by the time a second week had passed away, she had fully resolved to set out upon the journey.

But she had only twenty dollars, after disposing of the few things their rapacious creditor had left them, and with this she had to go a journey of nearly five hundred miles, with three children, the oldest about twelve years of age. But when once her mind is made up, there are few things a resolute mother will not undertake for her children.

By persevering in her applications, day after day, to the wagoners on the national road, she at length so far prevailed on one of them as to let her and her children ride as far as Zanesville, for the trifle of a dollar or two, in his wagon.

In the true spirit of success, she looked only at the present difficulty, reserving thought and attention for all succeeding difficulties, whenever they might come. In this spirit she cut herself loose from her place in the west, and started for—utterly unable to say how she should ever reach the desired spot.

For the first day or two, the wagoner held no conversation with her; he had been unable to resist the promptings of his kind feelings in favour of one who had asked him for aid, although he had much rather not have given her a place in his wagon. By degrees, however, his temper changed, and he occasionally asked a question, or made a passing remark; and by the time he had reached Zanesville, he had become so interested in her case, that he refused to take the stipulated price, and kindly offered to carry her as far as Wheeling, and to—, if he found it to his interest to go there.

The way thus providentially opened for her, few obstacles remained, and in the course of a few weeks she found herself again in the home of her childhood, the dear spot that had lived in her memory, green and inviting, for years.

But how changed was the poor sufferer! But a very few dollars of her money was left. The fatigue of travel. ling so long and in so uncomfortable a manner, had gradually shaken the props of a feeble body; and by the time she looked again upon the old, familiar places, her form was drooping with sickness.

Slowly she descended from the wagon, received her children, one by one, from the hands of the wagoner, thanked him with a tearful look, and tottered away. But where could she go? She had neither home, nor money, nor friends—was sick and faint. Years before, she had tripped lightly along the very street through which she now dragged her weary limbs. She even passed by the same house, and heard the light laughter of thoughtless voices, from the same window from which she had once looked forth in earlier years, a joyful and light-hearted creature. How familiar did that dear spot seem! but how agonizing the contrast that forced itself upon her! Little did the merry maiden who looked out upon the pale mother, with drooping form and soiled garments, who gazed up so earnestly towards her, imagine, that but a few years before, that poor creature looked forth from that same window, a glad-hearted girl.

Scarcely able to act or decide rationally, for her head ached intensely, and she was burning with fever, Mrs. Warburton wandered about the streets with her three children, one a boy about twelve years old, the other a little girl about nine, and the third, a little one tottering by her side, scarce two years old. All at once, as she turned her steps into—street, her eye caught sight of the tall poplars that indicated the home of the homeless. "I have no home but this," she murmured to herself, and turned her steps instinctively towards the dark mass of buildings that stood near the present intersection of—and—streets.

"Where is your permit?" said the keeper, as she falteringly asked for admission.

"I have none," was the faint reply.

"We cannot take you, unless you bring a permit from one of the commissioners."

"I don't know any commissioner."

"Where are you from?"

"I have just come to town from the west, and am too sick to do anything. I feel faint, and unable to go farther. Can you not admit me, and let application be made to the commissioners for me?"

The appearance of Mrs. Warburton too plainly indicated her sick condition, and the keeper thought it best to admit her for the present. A meeting of the commissioners was held on the same afternoon, and a formal admission given.

The first indication that Mrs. W. had, that she was no longer at liberty to choose or think for herself, was the entire separation of her children from her. True, she was soon too ill to attend to them, but that would have made no difference. After a dangerous illness of many weeks, during most of which time she was insensible to everything around her, she was again able to droop about a little. Her first questions, after the healthy reaction of body and mind, were about her children; her first request, to see them. But this was denied. "They are doing well enough," was all the answer she could get.

"But cannot I see Emma, my little one? Do let me see her!"

"It is contrary to the rules of the institution. You cannot see her now."

"When can I see her?"

"I don't know,"—and the nurse of the sick woman left her and went to attend somewhere else, utterly insensible to the keen agony of the mother's heart. Was she not a pauper? What right had she to human feelings? But a mother's love is not to be chained down to rules, or circumscribed by the narrow policy of chartered expediency. As Mrs. Warburton slowly gained strength, a quicker perception of her situation grew upon her, and she soon determined to know all about her children. In vain had she asked to see them; but each denial only increased the desire, and confirmed her resolutions to see them and know all about them.

One day, when she could walk about a little, a day on which she knew the board of commissioners were in session, she watched her opportunity, and when the nurse was attending in another part of the room, stole quietly out, and soon made her way to the commissioners' room.

"Gentlemen, a mother asks your indulgence," was her appeal, as the keeper checked her entrance.

"Let her enter, Mr.—," said one of them.

"What is your wish, good woman?" continued the first speaker.

"I want to see my children."

Her voice was so low and mournful, and her pale face, which still retained many traces of former beauty, expressed so strongly her maternal anxiety, that the hearts of all were touched.

They looked at each other for a few moments, and after some whispered words, directed that she should be allowed to see her children for half an hour each day.

The keeper now called their attention to certain of their proceedings, some weeks past, and they found that places had been obtained for two of them, the oldest boy, and the little girl, scarce ten years old.

"We have obtained good places for two of your children, madam; the other, aged two years, you can have under your own care, while here."

"And all without allowing me one word, as to who should take them, or where they should go! My poor little Mary, what can you do as a servant?"

"They are well provided for, madam. You can now retire."

Mrs. Warburton did retire, and with a bleeding heart. Her little Emma was restored to her, and was constantly by her side. She had been two months in the alms-house, when she was strong enough to work, and by a rule of he place, she had to work two months, to pay for her keeping while sick, before she would be allowed to go out, and maintain herself.

Slowly and heavily passed the hours for two weary months, when she presented herself for a release from imprisonment.

"Where can I find my children?" she asked of the keeper, as she was about to leave.

"It is against the rule to give any such information in regard to pauper children. And in this particular instance, it was the request of both persons taking your children, that you should not be told where they were, as they wished to raise them without being troubled by foreign influence."

The mother attempted no remonstrance, but turned away, and homeless, and almost penniless, leading her little one by the hand, again entered the city where her happiest years had been spent.

As she passed down a street, she saw on the door of an old brick house, the words "A room to let." She made application, and engaged it, at two dollars a month. A pine table, and an old chair, she bought at a second-hand furniture store for a dollar; and with the other dollar she had left, the pittance saved from the twenty dollars she had when she left Ohio, she bought some bread, dried meat, milk, &c. She had no bed, and was for some time compelled to sleep with her child on the hard floor.

The art of making cigars, which she had learned years before, and which had more than once stood between her and want, was again brought into use. She applied at a tobacconist's, and obtained work. Giving all diligence, day and night, she was able to make five or six dollars every week, with which, in a short time, she gathered a few comfortable things about her, among which was a bed.

Two months had passed since she left the alms-house, and still she could gain no tidings of her children. Daily, for an hour or two, had she made search for them, but in the only way she could devise, that of wandering about the streets, in hopes of finding them out on some errand. As the winter drew on, she became more and more anxious and concerned. If her little girl, who was always a delicate child, should be in unkind hands, she sickened at heart to think how much she would suffer. Night after night would she dream of the dear child; and always saw her in some condition of extreme hardship.

One night she thought she saw little Mary sitting on the curb-stone. She went up to her, and dreaming that it was very cold, found her bare-foot, thinly clad, and almost perishing. The child threw her little arms, naked and icy cold about her neck, and as her well-known voice sounded in her ears, she awoke.

She slept no more through that night, and soon after breakfast, started out, being unable, through the uneasiness of her mind, to work. Without questioning the reason why, she naturally wandered in the direction indicated in her dream. When near the place, she was startled by the piercing screams of a child that seemed in great agony, and there was entreaty and supplication mingled in the tones. The voice was like the voice of her own child. She knew it was her own child; a mother's ear is never deceived. Darting towards the spot, she found a bucket of hot water spilled upon the pavement, from which the vapour was rising in a cloud, and glancing her eye down the alley, she saw her little one half-dragged, half-carried, by the arm, by a tall, masculine woman, who seemed in a violent rage. Following like the wind, she reached the dwelling of the virago as she entered and dashed the child upon the floor. Just as Mrs. Warburton came up, and was lifting it, the woman had obtained a stout cow-hide, and was turning to lacerate the back of the little one, as she had often done before, her face red and expressing the most wicked passions.

At once Mrs. Warburton felt that only in retreat was their safety, and catching up the child in her arms, she darted out as quickly as she had entered. Not more swiftly, however, did she go, than followed the enraged woman to whom this child of nine years old had been bound to do the work of a woman. Finding herself gained upon by the person in pursuit, she looked about for a place of retreat, and seeing "Magistrate's Office" on a sign, she darted into that lower court of justice. Here she was safe from molestation, until some decision was made in the case, by those deputed to act. A crowd soon gathered about, attracted by the strange sight of a woman flying with a child in her arms, and another in hot pursuit. The magistrate, who was a humane man, and held his office in a part of his dwelling, instinctively perceived that the mother and her child needed kindness and consideration, and had them, after examination, removed back into his dwelling, and placed under the care of his wife, while he entered more fully into the merits of the case.

When Mrs. Warburton was sufficiently at ease to examine her child, she found her a pitiable object indeed. Her face, neck, and body were dreadfully scalded, and her back was in scars and welts all over, and in some places with the skin broken and festering. It appeared, from the statement of the child, that the woman she lived with had placed on her head a bucket of scalding water for her to carry to a store, which she was going to scrub out. The heavy weight on her head caused her to lose her balance and fall, when the whole contents of the bucket were spilled over her face and neck, and penetrated through her clothes to the skin, in all directions.

Of course, she was suffering the most excruciating pain. Medical aid was called in by the magistrate, and every attention extended to the little sufferer, who seemed to forget her pain in the consciousness of her mother's presence. The inhuman wretch who had thus brutally maltreated a mere child, enraged to a state of insanity in finding herself thwarted in obtaining the child, made an appeal to the city court, then in session, and had all the parties present. It needed but this to give Mrs. W. uncontrolled possession of little Mary. The condition in which the court found the child, added to the touching story of her mother, caused an instant cancelling of the indenture by which the unfeeling woman claimed possession of her.

In a few days after, Mrs. Warburton found her boy, who, much to her satisfaction, had a good place, with which he was pleased, and was learning a good trade. She was now fairly started again, and as her spirits revived, her health became much improved. Month after month passed away, and brought with it new sources of comfort, new causes for satisfaction. Of her husband, she now thought with no affection. It is true, earlier feelings would sometimes return, but with no force, and after moving the waters of her quiet spirit for a moment, would tremble into rest.

When a man once extinguishes his own self-respect, he is a burden to society. But when a husband and father descends so low, he becomes a curse to his family. After abusing them, and making their condition so wretched that even he cannot share it, he will forsake the wife of his bosom and the children of his early love, and leave them to the tender mercies of strangers. But let the mother gather her little ones around her, and by toiling early and late, make their condition comfortable, and the brutalized wretch will return and consume the food of his children, and abuse them if they complain.

A year had passed away, when early one evening in the fall of the year, a man pushed open the door of the room she occupied, and with a "well Julia," took a chair, and made himself at home without further ceremony. Though dirty and ragged, with a beard of a week's growth, and half drunk, Mrs. Warburton could not mistake the form of her wretched husband.

"O, husband! can this be you?"

"Yes, Julia, this is me. I've come back at last. I've tried hard to make something for you and the children, but it is no use, fate is against me; so here I am again, poor as ever. But give me something to eat, for I'm hungry as a badger."

Six years had passed away since Warburton had returned, and the wretchedness which had been with him in his absence, he brought as an abiding guest to the dwelling of his wife. During that time, she had endured sickness, hunger, abuse, and been nigh unto death; but through it all she had come with a heart still unsubdued, though almost broken. For her children's sakes, two more of whom had been added in that time, she had stood up and breasted the storm.

At last, her miserable husband, sunk in the lowest depths of drunkenness and degradation, died, as he had lived. It was the dawn of a brighter day for Mrs. Warburton when the spirit of her husband took its flight to the world of spirits. Her son was nearly free from his trade, and her oldest girl could assist her greatly in the house, as well as by earning something for their support.

Content and health having taken up their abode with her, we will leave her to fill up her allotted space in life unobtrusively and peacefully. The story of Mrs. Warburton has been introduced as another illustration of the ill effects which so often arise from the want of watchfulness on the part of parents, in regard to the characters of the young men who are allowed to visit and play upon the affections of their daughters. It also shows how unconquerable is a mother's love. Here a weak, foolish girl, by strong trial, becomes a woman with a strength of mind that nothing can subdue, and, as a mother, overcomes difficulties from which most men would shrink in despair.


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