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

In the mean time, the poor wretch who had thus reduced his family to a state of painful destitution, after turning away from his door, walked slowly along the street with his head bowed down, as if engaged in, to him, altogether a new employment, that of self-communion. All at once a hand was laid familiarly upon his shoulders, and a well-known voice said—

"Come, John, let's have a drink."

"Jarvis looked up with a bewildered air, and the first thing that caught his eye, after it glanced away from the face of one of his drinking cronies, was a sign with bright gold letters, bearing the words, "EAGLE COFFEE-HOUSE." That sign was as familiar to him as the face of one of his children. At the same moment that his eyes rested upon this, creating an involuntary impulse to move towards the tavern-door, his old crony caught hold of his coat-collar and gave him a pull in the same direction. But much to the surprise of the latter, Jarvis resisted this attempt to give his steps a direction that would lead him into his old, accustomed haunt.

"Won't you drink this morning, Jarvis?" asked the other, with a look of surprise.

There was evidently a powerful struggle going on in the mind of the drunkard. This lasted only for a moment or two, when he said, loudly, and emphatically—


And instantly broke from his old boon companion, and hurried on his way.

A loud laugh followed him, but he heeded it not. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the store of a respectable tradesman.

"Is Mr. R—in?" he asked, as he entered.

"Back at the desk," was the answer of a clerk.

And Jarvis walked back with a resolute air.

"Mr. R—, I want to sign the pledge!"

"You, Jarvis?" Mr. R—said, in tones of gratified surprise.

"Yes, me, Mr. R—. It's almost a hopeless case; but here goes to do my best."

"Are you fully sensible of what you are about doing, Jarvis?"

"I think I am, Mr. R—. I've drunk nothing since yesterday morning, and with the help of Him above, I am determined never to drink another drop as long as I live! So read me the pledge and let me sign it."

Mr. R—turned at once to the constitution of the Washington Temperance Society, and read the pledge thereunto annexed:

"'We, the undersigned, do pledge ourselves to each other, as gentlemen, that we will not, hereafter, drink any spiritous liquors, wine, malt, or cider, unless in sickness, and under the prescription of a physician.'"

Jarvis took the pen in his hand, that trembled so he. could scarcely make a straight mark on paper, and enrolled his name among the hundreds of those, who, like him, had resolved to be men once more. This done, he laid down the quarter of a dollar which he had obtained from his wife, the admission fee required of all who joined the society. As he turned from the tradesman's store, his step was firmer and his head more erect, than, in a sober state, he had carried it for many a day.

From thence he proceeded to a hatter's-shop.

"Well, Jarvis," was uttered in rather a cool, repulsive tone, as he entered.

"Are you not in want of a journeyman, Mr. Warren?"

"I don't want you, Jarvis."

"If you will give me work, I'll never get drunk again, Mr. Warren."

"You've said that too many times, Jarvis. The last time you went off when I was hurried with work, and caused me to disappoint a customer, I determined never to have any thing more to do with you."

"But I'll never disappoint you again," urged the poor man earnestly.

"It's no use for you to talk to me, Jarvis. You and I are done with each other. I have made up my mind never again to have a man in my shop who drinks rum."

"But I've joined the temperance society, Mr. Warren."

"I don't care if you have: in two weeks you'll be lying in the gutter."

"I'll never drink liquor again if I die!" said Jarvis, solemnly.

"Look here, you drunken vagabond!" returned the master hatter in angry tones, coming from behind the counter, and standing in front of the individual he was addressing—"if you are not out of this shop in two minutes by the watch, I'll kick you into the street! So there now—take your choice to go out, or be kicked out."

Jarvis turned sadly away without a reply, and passed out of the door through which he had entered with a heart full of hope, now pained, and almost ready to recede from his earnest resolution and pledge to become a sober man and a better husband and father. He felt utterly discouraged. As he walked slowly along the street, the fumes of a coffee-house which he was passing, unconsciously, struck upon his sense, and immediately came an almost overpowering desire for his accustomed potation. He paused—

"Now that I try to reform, they turn against me," he sighed bitterly. "It is no use; I am gone past hope!"

One step was taken towards the tavern-door, when it seemed as if a strong hand held him back.

"No—no!" he murmured, "I have taken the pledge, and I will stand by it, if I die!" Then moving resolutely onward, he soon found himself near the door of another hatter's-shop. Hope again kindled up in his bosom, and he entered.

"Don't you want a hand, Mr. Mason?" he asked, in a hesitating tone.

"Not a drunken one, Jarvis," was the repulsive answer.

"But I've reformed, Mr. Mason."

"So I should think from your looks."

"But, indeed, Mr. Mason I have quit drinking, and taken the pledge."

"To break it in three days. Perhaps three hours."

"Won't you give me work, Mr. Mason, if I promise to be sober?"

"No! For I would not give a copper for your promises."

Poor Jarvis, turned away. When he had placed his hand to the pledge, he dreamed not of these repulses and difficulties. He was a good workman, and he thought that any one of his old employers would be glad to get him back again, so soon as they learned of his having signed the total-abstinence pledge. But he had so often promised amendment, and so often broken his promise and disappointed them, that they had lost all confidence in him; at least, the two to whom he had, thus far, made application.

After leaving the shop of Mr. Mason, Jarvis seemed altogether irresolute. He would walk on a few steps, and then pause to commune with his troubled and bewildered thoughts.

"I will try Lankford," said he, at length, half-aloud; "he will give me work, surely."

A brisk walk of some ten minutes brought him to the door of a small hatter's-shop in a retired street. Behind the counter of this shop stood an old man, busily employed in ironing a hat. There was something benevolent in his countenance and manner. As Jarvis entered, he looked up, and a shade passed quickly over his face.

"Good morning, Mr. Lankford," said Jarvis, bowing, with something like timidity and shame in his manner.

"Are you not afraid to come here, John?" replied the old man, sternly.

"I am ashamed to come, but not afraid. You will not harm me, I know."

"Don't trust to that, John. Did you not steal, ay, that is the word—did you not steal from me the last time I employed you?" The old man was stern and energetic in his manner.

"I was so wicked as to take a couple of skins, Mr. Lankford, but I did very wrong, and am willing to repay you for them, if you will give me work. I was in liquor when I did it, and, when in liquor, I have no distinct consciousness of the evil of any action."

"Give you work, indeed! O, no! John; I cannot give you another chance to rob me."

"But I will not get drunk any more. And you know, Mr. Lankford, that while I was a sober man, and worked for you, I never wronged you out of a sixpence worth."

"Won't get drunk any more! Ah! John, I have lived too long in. the world, and have seen too much, to heed such promises."

"But I am in earnest, Mr. Lankford. I signed the pledge this morning."

"You!" in a tone of surprise.

"Yes, I signed it."

"Ah, John," after a pause, and shaking his head. incredulously, "I cannot credit your word, and I am sorry for it."

"If I have signed the pledge, and if I am really determined to be a reformed man, will you give me work, Mr. Lankford!"

The old man thought for a few moments, and then said, half-sorrowfully—

"I am afraid of you, John. You are such an old offender on the score of drunkenness, that I have no confidence in your power to keep the pledge."

"Then what shall I do!" the poor wretch exclaimed, in tones that made the heart of the old man thrill—for nature and pathos were in them. "Now that I am trying in earnest to do better, no one will give me a word of encouragement, nor a helping hand. Heaven help me!—for I am forsaken of man."

Mr. Lankford stood thoughtful and irresolute for some moments. At length, he said—

"John, if you will bring me a certificate from Mr. R—, that you have signed the total-abstinence pledge, I will give you another trial. But if you disappoint me again, you and I are done for ever."

The countenance of Jarvis brightened up instantly. He turned quickly away, without reply, and hurried off to the store of Mr. R—, the secretary of the society he had joined. The certificate was, of course, obtained.

"And you have joined, sure enough, John," Mr. Lankford said, in a changed tone, as he glanced over the certificate.

"Indeed I have, Mr. Lankford."

"And you seem in earnest."

"If I was ever in earnest about any thing in my life, I am in earnest now."

"Keep to your pledge, then, John, and all will be well. While you were a sober man, I preferred you to any journeyman in my shop. Keep sober, and you shall never want a day's work while I am in business."

The poor man was now shown his place in the shop, and once again he resumed his work, though under a far different impulse than had, for years, nerved him to action.

Two hours brought his regular dinner-time, when Jarvis, who began to feel the want of food, returned home, with new and strange feelings about his heart. One impulse was to tell his wife what he had done, and what he was doing. But then he remembered how often he had mocked her new springing hopes—how often he had promised amendment, and once even joined a temperance society, only to relapse into a lower and more degraded condition.

"No, no," he said to himself, after debating the question in his mind, as he walked towards home; "I will not tell her now. I will first present some fruit of my repentance. I will give such an assurance as will create confidence and hope."

Mrs. Jarvis did not raise her eyes to the face of her husband, as he entered. The sight of that once loved countenance, distorted and disfigured, ever made her heart sick when she looked upon it. Jarvis seated himself quietly in a chair, and held out his hands for his youngest child, not over two years old, who had no consciousness of his father's degradation. In a moment the happy little creature was on his knee. But the other children showed no inclination to approach.

The frugal meal passed in silence and restraint. Mrs. Jarvis felt troubled and oppressed—for the prospect before her seemed to grow more and more gloomy. All the morning she had suffered from a steady pain in her breast, and from a lassitude that she could not overcome. Her pale, thin, care-worn face, told a sad tale of suffering, privation, confinement, and want of exercise. What was to become of her children she knew not. Under such feelings of hopelessness, to have one sitting by her side, who could take much of her burdens from her, were he but to will it—who could call back the light to her heart, if only true to his promise, made in earlier and happier years—soured in some degree her feelings, and obscured her perceptions. She did not note that some change had passed upon him; a change that if marked, would have caused her heart to leap in her bosom.

As soon as Jarvis had risen from the table, he took his hat, and kissing his youngest child, the only one there who seemed to regard him, passed quickly from the house. As the door closed after him, his wife heaved a long sigh, and then rising, mechanically, proceeded to clear up the table. Of how many crushed affections and disappointed hopes, did that one deep, tremulous sigh, speak!

Jarvis returned to his work, and applied himself steadily during the whole afternoon. Whenever a desire for liquor returned upon him, he quenched it in a copious draught of water, and thus kept himself as free from temptation as possible. At night he returned, when the same troubled and uneasy silence pervaded the little family at the supper-table. The meal was scanty, for Mrs. Jarvis's incessant labor could procure but a poor supply of food. After the children had been put to bed, Mrs. Jarvis sat down, as usual, to spend the evening, tired as she was, and much as her breast pained her, in sewing. A deep sigh heaved involuntarily her bosom as she did so. It caught the ear of her husband, and smote upon his heart. He knew that her health was feeble, and that constant labor fatigued her excessively.

"I wouldn't sew to-night, Jane," he said. "You look tired. Rest for one evening."

Mrs Jarvis neither looked up nor replied. There was something in the tone of her husband's voice that stirred her feelings;—something that softened her heart towards him. But she dared not trust herself to speak, nor to let her eye meet his. She did not wish to utter a harsh nor repulsive word, nor was she willing to speak kindly to him, for she did not feel kindly,—and kind words and affected cheerfulness, she had already found but encouraged him in his evil ways. And so she continued to ply her needle, without appearing to regard his presence. Her husband did not make another effort to induce her to suspend her labors; for, under existing circumstances, he was particularly desirous of not provoking her to use towards him the language of rebuke and censure. After sitting silent, for, perhaps half an hour, he rose from his chair, and walked three or four times backwards and forwards across the room, preparatory to going out to seek a coffee-house, and there spend his evening, as his wife supposed. But much to her surprise, he retired to their chamber, in the adjoining room. While still under the expectation of seeing him return, his loud breathing caught her quick ear. He was asleep!

Catching up the light, as she arose suddenly to her feet, she passed, with a hasty step, into the chamber. He had undressed himself, was in bed, and sound asleep. She held the candle close to his face; it was calmer than usual, and somewhat paler. As she bent over him, his breath came full in her face. It was not loaded with the disgusting fumes that had so often sickened her. Her heart beat quicker—the moisture dimmed her eye—her whole frame trembled. Then looking upwards, she uttered a single prayer for her husband, and, gliding quietly from the room, sat down by her little table and again bent over her work. Now she remembered that he had said, with something unusual in his tones—"I would not sew to-night, Jane; you look tired; rest for one evening"—and her heart was agitated with a new hope; but that hope, like the dove from the ark, found nothing upon which to rest, and trembled back again into a feeling of despondency.

On the next morning, the unsteady hand of Jarvis, as he lifted his saucer to his lips at the breakfast-table, made his wife's heart sink again in her bosom. She had felt a hope, almost unconsciously. She remembered that at supper-time his hand was firm—now it was unnerved. This was conclusive to her mind, that, notwithstanding his appearance, he had been drinking. But few words passed during the meal, for neither felt much inclined to converse.

After breakfast, Jarvis returned to the shop and worked steadily until dinner-time, and then again until evening. As on the night before, he did not go out, but retired early to bed. And this was continued all the week. But the whole was a mystery to his poor wife, who dared not even to hope for any real change for the better. On Saturday, towards night, he laid by his work, put on his coat and hat, and went into the front shop.

"So you have really worked a week, a sober man, John?" Mr. Lankford said.

"Indeed, I have. Since last Sunday morning, no kind of intoxicating liquor has passed my lips."

"How much have you earned this week, John?"

"Here is the foreman's account of my work, sir. It comes to twelve dollars."

"Still a fast workman. You will yet recover yourself, and your family will again be happy, if you persevere."

"O, sir, they shall be happy! I will persevere!"

Another pause ensued, and then Jarvis said, while the color mounted to his cheek—

"If you are willing, Mr. Lankford, I should like you to deduct only one-half of what I owe you for those furs I took from you, from this week's wages. My family are in want of a good many things; and I am particularly desirous of buying a barrel of flour to-night."

"Say nothing of that, John. Let it be forgotten with your past misdeeds. Here are your wages—twelve dollars—and if it gives you as much pleasure to receive, as it does me to pay them, then you feel no ordinary degree of satisfaction."

Mr. Jarvis received the large sum for him to possess, and hurried away to a grocery. Here he bought, for six dollars, a barrel of flour, and expended two dollars more of his wages in sugar, coffee, tea, molasses, &c. Near to the store was the market-house. Thence he repaired, and bought meat and various kinds of vegetables, with butter, &c. These he carried to the store, and gave directions to have all sent home to him. He had now two dollars left out of the twelve he had earned since Monday morning, and with these in his pocket, he returned home. As he drew near the house, his heart fluttered in anticipation of the delightful change that would pass upon all beneath its humble roof. He had never in his life, experienced feelings of such real joy.

A few moments brought him to the door, and he went in with the quick step that had marked his entrance for several days. It was not quite dark, and his wife sat sewing by the window. She was finishing a pair of pantaloons that had to go home that very evening, and with the money she was to get for them she expected to buy the Sunday dinner. There was barely enough food in the house for supper; and unless she received her pay for this piece of work, she had no means of getting the required sustenance for herself and children—or rather, for her husband, herself and children. The individual for whom it was intended was not a prompt pay-master, and usually grumbled whenever Mrs. Jarvis asked him for money. To add to the circumstances of concern and trouble of mind, she felt almost ready to give up, from the excessive pain in her breast, and the weakness of her whole frame. As her husband came in, she turned upon him an anxious and troubled countenance; and then bent down over her work and plied her needle hurriedly. As the twilight fell dimly around, she drew nearer and nearer to the window, and at last stood up, and leaned close up to the panes of glass, so that her hand almost touched them, in order to catch the few feeble rays of light that were still visible. But she could not finish the garment upon which she wrought, by the light of day. A candle was now lit, and she took her place by the table, not so much as glancing towards her husband, who had seated himself in a chair, with his youngest child on his knee. Half an hour passed in silence, and then Mrs. Jarvis rose up, having taken the last stitch in the garment she was making, and passed into the adjoining chamber. In a few minutes she came out, with her bonnet and shawl on, and the pair of pantaloons that she had just finished on her arm.

"Where are you going, Jane?" her husband asked, in a tone of surprise, that seemed mingled with disappointment.

"I am going to carry home my work."

"But I wouldn't go now, Jane. Wait until after supper."

"No, John. I cannot wait until after supper. The work will be wanted. It should have been home two hours ago."

And she glided from the room.

A walk of a few minutes brought her to the door of a tailor's-shop, around the front of which hung sundry garments exposed for sale. This shop she entered, and presented the pair of pantaloons to a man who stood behind the counter. His face relaxed not a muscle as he took them and made a careful examination of the work.

"They'll do," he at length said, tossing them aside, and resuming his employment of cutting out a garment.

Poor Mrs. Jarvis paused, dreading to utter her request. But necessity conquered the painful reluctance, and she said—

"Can you pay me for this pair to-night, Mr. Willets?"

"No. I've got more money to pay on Monday than I know where to get, and cannot let a cent go out."

"But, Mr. Willets, I—"

"I don't want to hear any of your reasons, Mrs. Jarvis. You can't have the money to-night."

Mrs. Jarvis moved slowly away, and had nearly reached the door, when a thought of her children caused her to pause.

"I cannot go, Mr. Willets, without the money," she said, suddenly turning, and speaking in an excited tone.

"You will go, I'm thinking, madam," was the cool reply.

"O, sir," changing her tone, "pay me what you owe me; I want it very much."

"O, yes. So you all say. But I am used to such make-believes. You get no money out of me to-night, madam. That's a settled point. I'm angry now—so you had better go home at once; if you don't, I'll never give you a stitch of work, so help—"

Mrs. Jarvis did not pause to hear the concluding words of the sentence.

"What shall I do?" was the almost despairing question that she asked of herself, as she hurried towards her home. On entering the house she made no remark, for there was no one to whom she could tell her troubles and disappointment, with even the most feeble hope of a word of comfort.

"Does Mr. Jarvis live here?" asked a rough voice at the door.

"Yes, sir," was the reply.

"Well, here is a barrel of flour and some groceries for him."

"There must be some mistake, sir."

"Is not this Mr. Jarvis's?"


"And number 40?"


"Then this is the place, for that was the direction given me."

"Yes, this is the place—bring them in," spoke up Jarvis, in an animated tone.

The drayman, of course, obeyed. First he rolled in the barrel of flour; then came a number of packages, evidently containing groceries; and, finally, one or two pieces of meat, and sundry lots of vegetables.

"How much is to pay?" asked Jarvis.

"Twenty-five cents, sir," responded the drayman, bowing.

The twenty-five cent piece was taken from his pocket with quite an air, and handed over. Then the drayman went out and that little family were alone again. During the passage of the scene just described, the wife stood looking on with a stupid and bewildered air. When the drayman had departed, she turned to her husband, and said—

"'John, where did these things come from?"

"I bought them, Jane."

"You bought them?"

"Yes, I bought them."

"And pray, John, what did you buy them with?"

"With the quarter of a dollar you gave me on Monday."


"It is true, Jane. With that quarter I went and joined the Washington Total-Abstinence Society, and then went to work at Mr. Lankford's. Here is the result of one week's work, besides this silver," handing her all that remained, after making the purchases.

"O, John, John," the wife exclaimed, bursting into tears, "do not again mock my hopes. I cannot bear much more."

"In the strength of Him, Jane, who has promised to help us when we call upon Him, 'I will not disappoint the hopes I now revive,'" said Jarvis, slowly and solemnly.

The almost heart-broken wife and mother leaned her head upon the shoulder of her husband, and clung to his side with a newly-revived confidence, that she felt would not be disappointed, while the tears poured from her eyes like rain. But her true feelings we cannot attempt to describe—nor dare we venture to sketch further the scene we have introduced. The reader's imagination can do it more justice, and to him we leave that pleasing task, with only the remark, that Mrs. Jarvis's newly-awakened joys and hopes have not again been disappointed.


"I DON'T see that I am so much better off," said Mr. Gordon, a man who had recently given up drinking. "I lost my situation on the very day I signed the pledge, and have had no regular employment since."

"But you would have lost your situation if you hadn't signed the pledge, I presume," said the individual to whom he was complaining.

"Yes. I lost it because I got drunk and spoiled my job. But to hear some temperance people talk, one who didn't know would be led to believe that, the very moment the pledge was signed, gold could be picked up in the streets. I must confess that I haven't found it so. Money is scarcer with me than it ever was; and though I don't spend a cent for myself, my family haven't a single comfort more than they had before."

"Though there's no disputing the fact that they would have many less comforts if you hadn't signed the pledge?"

"No, I suppose not. But I cannot help feeling discouraged at the way things go. If I had the same wages I received before I signed the pledge, I could be laying up money. But, as it is, it requires the utmost economy to keep from getting in debt."

"Still, you do manage to keep even?"


"On about half your former income?"

"A little over half. I used to get ten dollars a week. Now I manage, by picking up odd jobs here and there, to make about six."

"Then you are better off than you were before."

"I hardly see how you can make that out."

"Your family have enough to live upon—all they had before—and you have a healthier body, a calmer mind, and a clearer conscience. Isn't here something gained?"

"I rather think there is," replied Gordon, smiling.

"And I rather think you are a good deal better off than you were before. Isn't your wife happier?"

"O! yes. She's as cheerful as a lark all the day."

"And doesn't murmur because of your light wages?"

"No, indeed! not she. I believe if I didn't earn more than three dollars a week, and kept sober, she would make it do, somehow or other, and keep a good heart. It's wonderful how much she is changed!"

"And yet you are no better off? Ain't you better off in having a happy wife and a pleasant home, what I am sure you hadn't before?"

"You are right in that. I certainly had neither of them before. Oh! yes. I am much better off all around. I only felt a little despondent, because I can't get regular employment as I used to, and good wages; for now, if I had these, I could do so well."

"Be patient, friend Gordon; time will make all right. There are three words that every reformed man should write on the walls of his chamber, that he may see them every morning. They are 'Time, Faith, Energy.' No matter how low he may have fallen; no matter how discouraging all things around him may appear; let him have energy, and faith in time, and all will come out well at last."

Gordon went home, feeling in better heart than when he met the temperance friend who had spoken to him these encouraging words.

Henry Gordon, when he married, had just commenced business for himself, and went on for several years doing very well. He laid by enough money to purchase himself a snug little house, and was in a good way for accumulating a comfortable property, when the habit of dram-drinking, which he had indulged for years, became an over-mastering passion. From that period he neglected his business, which steadily declined. In half the time it took to accumulate the property he possessed, all disappeared—his business was broken up, and he compelled to work at his trade as a journeyman to support his family. From a third to a half of the sum he earned weekly, he spent in gratifying the debasing appetite that had almost beggared his family and reduced him to a state of degradation little above that of the brute. The balance was given to his sad-hearted wife, to get food for the hungry, half-clothed children.

Nor was this all. Debts were contracted which Gordon was unable to pay. One or two of his creditors, more exacting than the rest, seized upon his furniture and sold it to satisfy their claims, leaving to the distressed family only the few articles exempt by law.

Things had reached this low condition, when Gordon came home from the shop, one day, some hours earlier than usual. Surprised at seeing him, his wife said—

"What's the matter, Henry? Are you sick?"

"No!" he replied, sullenly, "I'm discharged."

"Discharged! For what, Henry?"

"For spoiling a job."

"How did that happen?" Mrs. Gordon spoke kindly, although she felt anxious and distressed.

"How has all my trouble happened?" asked Gordon, with unusual bitterness of tone. "I took a glass too much, and—and—"

"It made you spoil your job," said his wife, her voice still kind.

"Yes. Curse the day I ever saw a drop of liquor! It has been the cause of all my misfortunes."

"Why not abandon its use at once and for ever, Henry?"

"That is not so easily done."

"Hundreds have done it, and are doing it daily, and so may you. Only make the resolution, Henry. Only determine to break these fetters, and you are free. Let the time past, wherein you have wrought folly, and your family suffered more than words can express, suffice. Only will it, and there will be a bright future for all of us."

Tears came into the eyes of Mrs. Gordon while she made this appeal, although she strove hard to appear calm. Her husband felt a better spirit awaking within him. There was a brief struggle between appetite and the good resolution that was forming in his mind, and then the latter conquered.

"I will be free!" he said, turning towards the door through which he had a little while before entered, and hurriedly leaving the house.

The hour that passed from the time her husband went out until he returned, was one of most anxious suspense to Mrs. Gordon. Her hand trembled so that she could not hold her needle, and was obliged to lay aside the sewing upon which she was engaged, and go about some household employments.

"Mary, I have signed the pledge, if that will do any good," said Gordon, opening the door and coming in upon his wife with his pledge in his hand. "There," and he unrolled the paper and pointed to his name; "there is my signature, and here is the document."

He did not speak very cheerfully; but his wife's face was lit up with a sudden brightness, followed by a gush of tears.

"Do any good!" she replied, leaning her head upon his shoulder, and grasping one of his hands tightly in both of hers. "It will do all good!"

"But I have no work, Mary. I was discharged to-day, and it is the only shop in town. What are we to do?"

"Mr. Evenly will take you back, now that you have signed the pledge."

"Perhaps he will!" Gordon spoke more cheerfully. "I will go and see him to-morrow."

Mrs. Gordon prepared her husband a strong cup of coffee, and baked some nice hot cakes for his supper. She combed her hair, and made herself as tidy as possible. The children, too, were much improved in their looks by a little attention, which their mother felt encouraged to give. There was an air of comfort about the ill-furnished dwelling of Henry Gordon that it had not known for a long time, and he felt it.

On the next morning, after breakfast, Gordon went back to the shop from which he had been discharged only the day previous. Evenly, the owner of it, was a rough, unfeeling man, and had kept Gordon on, month after month, because he could not well do without him. But, on the very day he discharged him, a man from another town had applied for work, and the spoiled job was made an excuse for discharging a journeyman, whose habits of intoxication had always been offensive to the master-workman.

When Gordon entered the shop for the purpose of asking to be taken back, he met Evenly near the door, who said to him, in a rough manner—

"And what do you want, pray?"

"I want you to take me back again," replied Gordon. "I have signed the pledge, and intend leading a sober life hereafter."

"The devil you have!"

"Yes sir. I signed it yesterday, after you discharged me."

"How long do you expect to keep it?" asked Evenly, with a sneer. "Long enough to reach the next grogshop?"

"I have taken the pledge for life, I trust," returned the workman, seriously. He was hurt at the contemptuous manner of his old employer, but his dependent condition made him conceal his feelings. "You will have no more trouble with me."

"No, I am aware of that. I will have no more trouble with you, for I never intend to let you come ten feet inside the front door of my shop."

"But I have reformed my bad habit, Mr. Evenly. I will give you no more trouble with my drinking," said the poor man, alarmed at this language.

"It's no use for you to talk to me, Gordon," replied Evenly, in a rough manner. "I've long wanted to get rid of you, and I have finally succeeded. Your place is filled. So there is no more to say on that subject. Good morning."

And the man turned on his heel and left Gordon standing half stupified at what he had heard.

"Rum's done the business for you at last, my lark! I told you it would come to this!" said an old fellow workman, who heard what passed between Gordon and the employer. He spoke in a light, insulting voice.

Without replying, the unhappy man left the shop, feeling more wretched than he had ever felt in his life.

"And thus I am met at my first effort to reform!" he murmured, bitterly.

"Hallo, Gordon! Where are you going?" cried a voice as these words fell from his lips.

He looked up and found himself opposite to the door of one of his old haunts. It was the keeper of it who had called him.

"Come! Walk in and let us see your pleasant face this morning. Where were you last night? My company all complained about your absence. We were as dull as a funeral."

"Curse you and your company too!" ejaculated Gordon between his teeth, and moved on, letting his eyes fall again to the pavement.

"Hey-day! What's the matter?"

But Gordon did not stop to bandy words with one of the men who had helped to ruin him.

"It's all over with us, Mary. Evenly's got a man in my place," said Gordon, as he entered his house and threw himself despairingly into a chair. "But won't he give you work, too?" asked Mrs. Gordon, in a husky voice.

"No! He insulted me, and said I should never come ten feet inside of his shop."

"Did you tell him that you had signed the pledge?"

"Yes. But it was no use. He did not seem to care for me any more than he did for a dog."

The poor man's distress was so great that he covered his face with his hands, and sat swinging his body to and fro, and uttering half-suppressed moans.

"What are we to do, Mary? There is no other shop in town," he said, looking up, after growing a little calm. "Doesn't it seem hard, just as I am trying to do right?"

"Don't despair, Henry. Let us trust in Providence. It is only a dark moment; yet, dark as it is, it is brighter to me than any period has been for years. A clear head and ready hands will not go long unemployed. I do not despond, dear husband, neither should you. Keep fast anchored to your pledge, and we will outride the storm."

"But we shall starve, Mary. We cannot live upon air."

"No," replied Mrs. Gordon; "but we can live upon half what you have been earning at your trade, and quite as comfortably as we have been living. And it will be an extreme case, I think, if you can't get employment at five dollars a week, doing something or other. Don't you?"

"It appears so. Certainly I ought to be able to earn five dollars a week, if it is at sawing wood. I'll do that—I'll do any thing."

"Then we needn't be alarmed. I'll try and get some sewing at any rate, to help out. So brighten up, Henry. All will be well. It will take a little time to get things going right again; but time and industry will do all for us that we could ask."

Thus encouraged, Gordon started out to see if he could find something to do. It was a new thing for him to go in search of work; and rather hard, he felt, to be obliged almost to beg for it. Where to go, or to whom to apply, he did not know. After wandering about for several hours, and making several applications at out of the way places with no success, he turned his steps homeward, feeling utterly cast down. In this state, he was assailed by the temptation to drown all his trouble in the cup of confusion, and nearly drawn aside; but a thought of his wife, and the bright hope that had sprung up in her heart in the midst of darkness, held him back.

"It's no use to try, Mary," he said, despondingly, as he entered his poorly-furnished abode, and found his wife busy with her needle. "I can't get any work."

"I have been more successful than you have, Henry," Mrs. Gordon returned, speaking cheerfully. "I went to see if Mrs. Hewitt hadn't some sewing to give out, and she gave me a dozen shirts to make. So don't be discouraged. You can afford to wait for work even for two or three weeks, if it doesn't come sooner. Let us be thankful for what we have to-day, and trust in God for to-morrow. Depend upon it, we shall not want. Providence never forsakes the man who is trying to do right."

Thus Mrs. Gordon strove to keep up the spirits of her husband. After dinner, he went out again and called to see a well-known temperance man. After relating to him what he had done, and how unhappily he was situated in regard to work, the man said—

"It won't do to be idle, Gordon; that's clear. An idle man is tempted ten times to another's once. You will never be able to keep the pledge unless you get something to do. We must assist you in this matter. What can you do besides your trade?"

"I have little skill beyond my regular calling; but then, I have health, strength, and willingness; and I think these might be made useful in something."

"So do I. Now to start with, I'll tell you what I'll do. If you will come and open my store for me every morning, make the fire and sweep out, and come and stay an hour for me every day while I go to dinner, I will give you three dollars a week. Two hours a day is all your time I shall want."

"Thank you from my heart! Of course I accept your offer. So far so good," said Gordon, brightening up.

"Very well. You may begin with to-morrow morning. No doubt you can make an equal sum by acting as a light porter for the various stores about. I can throw a little in your way; and I will speak to my neighbors to do the same." There was not a happier home in the whole town than was the home of Henry Gordon that night, poor as it was.

"I knew it would all come out right," said Mrs. Gordon. "I knew a better day was coming. We can live quite comfortably upon five or six dollars a week, and be happier than we have been for years."

When Gordon thought of the past, he did not wonder that tears fell over the face of his wife, even while her lips and eyes were bright with smiles. As the friend had supposed, Gordon was employed to do many errands by the storekeepers in the neighborhood. Some weeks he made five dollars and sometimes six or seven. This went on for a few months, when he began to feel discouraged. The recollection of other and brighter days returned frequently to his mind, and he began ardently to desire an improved external condition, as well for his wife and children as for himself. He wished to restore what had been lost; but saw no immediate prospect of being able to do so. Six dollars a week was the average of his earnings, and it took all this, besides what little his wife earned, to make things tolerably comfortable at home.

Gordon was in a more desponding mood than usual, when he indulged in the complaint with which our story opens. What was said to him changed the tone of his feelings, and inspired him with a spirit of cheerfulness and hope.

"Time, Faith, Energy!" he said to himself, as he walked with a more elastic step. "Yes, these must bring out all right in the end. I will not be so weak as to despond. All is much improved as it is. We are happier and better. Time, Faith, Energy! I will trust in these."

When Gordon opened the door of his humble abode, he found a lad waiting to see him, who arose, and presenting a small piece of paper, said—

"Mr. Blake wishes to know when you can settle this?"

Mr. Blake was a grocer, to whom ten dollars had been owing for a year. He had dunned the poor drunkard for the money until he got tired of so profitless a business, and gave up the account for lost. By some means, it had recently come to his ears that Gordon had signed the pledge.

"Some chance for me yet," he said, and immediately had the bill made out anew, and sent in; not thinking or caring whether it might not be premature for him to do so, and have the effect to discourage the poor man and drive him back to his old habits. What he wanted was his money. It was his due; and he meant to have it if he could get it.

"Tell Mr. Blake that I will pay him as soon as possible. At present it is out of my power," said Gordon, in answer to the demand.

The lad, in the spirit of his master, turned away with a sulky air, and left the house.

Poor Gordon's feelings went down to zero in a moment.

"It's hopeless, Mary! I see it all as plain as day," he said. "The moment I get upon my feet, there will be a dozen to knock me down. While I was a drunkard, no one thought of dunning me for money; but now that I am trying to do right, every one to whom I am indebted a dollar will come pouncing down upon me."

"It's a just debt, Henry, you know, and we ought to pay it."

"I don't dispute that. But we can't pay it now."

"Then Blake can't get it now; so there the matter will have to rest. A little dunning won't kill us. We have had harder trials than that to bear. So don't get discouraged so easily."

The words "Time, Faith, Energy!" came into the mind of Gordon and rebuked him.

"There is sense in what you say, Mary," he replied. "I know I am too easily discouraged. We owe Blake, that is clear; and I suppose he is right in trying to get his money. We can't pay him now; and therefore he can't get it now, do what he will. So we will be no worse for his dunning, if he duns every day. But I hate so to be asked for money."

"I'll tell you what might be done," said Mrs. Gordon.

"Well?" inquired the husband.

"Mr. Blake has a large family, and no doubt his wife gives out a good deal of sewing. I could work it out."

Gordon thought a few moments, and then said—

"Or, better than that; perhaps Blake would let me work it out in his store. I have a good deal of time on my hands unemployed."

"Yes, that would be better," replied Mrs. Gordon; "for I have as much sewing as I can do, and get paid for it all."

This thought brightened the spirits of Gordon. As soon as he had eaten his dinner he started for the store of Mr. Blake.

"I've come to talk to you about that bill of mine," said Mr. Gordon.

"Well, what of it?" returned the grocer. "I wish to pay it, but have not the present ability. I lost my situation on the very day I signed the pledge, and have had no regular employment since. So far, I have only been able to pick up five or six dollars a week, and it takes all that to live upon. But I have time to spare, Mr. Blake, if I have no money; and if I can pay you in labor, I will be glad to do so."

"I don't know that I could ask more than that," replied the grocer. "If I did, I would be unreasonable. Let me see: I reckon I could find a day's work for you about the store at least once a week, for which I would allow you a credit of one dollar and a quarter. How would that do?"

"It would be exactly what I would like. I can spare you a day easily. And it is much better to work out an old debt than to be idle."

"Very well, Gordon. Come to-morrow and work for me, and I will pass a dollar and a quarter to your account. I like this. It shows you are an honest man. Never fear but what you'll get along."

The approving words of the grocer encouraged Gordon very much. On the next day he went as he had agreed and worked for Mr. Blake. When he was about leaving the store at night, Blake called to him and said—

"Here, Gordon; stop a moment. I want you to put up a pound of this white crushed sugar; and a quarter of young hyson tea."

Gordon did as he was directed. Blake took the two packages from the counter, and handing them to Gordon, said—

"Take them to your wife with my compliments, and tell her that I wish her joy of an honest husband."

Gordon took the unexpected favor, and without speaking, turned hastily from the grocer and walked away.

"Behind that frowning Providence He hid a smiling face,"

said Mrs. Gordon, with tearful eyes, when her husband presented her the sugar and tea, and repeated what the grocer had said.

"Yes. It was a blessing sent to us in disguise," returned Gordon. "How little do we know of the good or ill that lies in our immediate future!"

"Do not say ill, dear husband—only seeming ill; if we think right and do right. When God makes our future, all is good; the ill is of our own procuring."

"Right, Mary. I see that truth as clear as if a sunbeam shone upon it."

"Time, Faith, Energy!" murmured Gordon to himself, as he lay awake that night, thinking of the future. Before losing himself in sleep, he had made up his mind to go to another creditor for a small amount, and see if he could not make a similar arrangement with him to the one entered into with the grocer. The man demurred a little, and then said he would take time to think about it. When Gordon called again, he declined the proposition, and said he had sold his goods for money, not for work.

"But I have no money," replied Gordon.

"I'll wait awhile and see," returned the man, in a way and with a significance that fretted the mind of Gordon.

"He'll wait until he sees me getting a little ahead, and then pounce down upon me like a hawk upon his prey."

Over this idea the reformed man worried himself, and went home to his wife unhappy and dispirited.

"I owe at least a hundred and fifty or two hundred dollars," he said; "and there is no hope of inducing all of those to whom money is due to wait until we can pay them with comfort to ourselves. I shall be tormented to death, I see that plain enough."

"Don't you look at the dark side, Henry?" replied his wife to this. "I think you do. You owe some eight or ten persons, and one of them has asked you for what was due. You offered to work out the debt, and he accepted your offer. To another who has not asked you, you go and make the same offer, which he declines, preferring to wait for the money. There is nothing so really discouraging in all this, I am sure. If he prefers waiting, let him wait. No doubt it will be the same to us in the end. As to our getting much ahead or many comforts around us until our debts are settled off, we might as well not think of that. We will feel better to pay what we owe as fast as we earn it; and, more than that, it will put the temptation to distress us in nobody's way. If one man won't let you work out your debt, why another will. I've no doubt that two-thirds of your creditors will be glad to avail themselves of the offer."

Thus re-assured, Gordon felt better. On the next day he tried a third party to whom he owed fifteen dollars. This man happened to keep a retail grocery and liquor store. That is, he had a bar at one counter, and sold groceries at the other. Two-thirds of the debt was for liquor. "I want to wipe off that old score of mine, if I can, Mr. King," said Gordon, as he met the storekeeper at his own door.

"That's clever," replied Mr. King. "Walk in. What will you take? Some brandy?"

And Mr. King stepped behind the counter and laid his hand upon a decanter.

"Nothing at all, I thank you," replied Gordon quickly.

"Why how's that? Have you sworn off?"

"Yes. I've joined the temperance society."

The storekeeper shrugged his shoulders. "I didn't expect that of you, Gordon. I thought you were too fond of a little creature comfort."

"I ruined myself and beggared my family by drink, if that is what you mean by creature comfort. Poor comfort it was for my wife and children, to say nothing of my own case, which was, Heaven knows, bad enough. But I have come to talk to you about paying off that old score. Now that I've given up drinking, I want to try and be honest if I can."

"That's right. I like to see a man, when he sets out to be decent, go the whole figure. Have you got the money?"

"No. I wish I had. I have no money and not half work; but I have time on my hands, Mr. King."

"Time? That is what some people call money. You want to pay me in time, instead of money, I presume? Rather rich, that, Gordon! But time don't pass current, like money, in these diggins, my friend. There are a plenty who come here—and throw it away for nothing. I can get more than I want."

"I have no wish to throw my time away, nor to pass it upon you for money, Mr. King. What I want is, to render you some service—in other words, to work for you, if you can give me something to do. I have time on my hands unemployed, and I wish to turn it to some good account."

"O, yes. I understand now. Very well, Gordon; I rather think I can meet your views. Yesterday my barkeeper was sent to prison for getting into a scrape while drunk, and I want his place supplied until he gets out. Come and tend bar for me a couple of weeks, and I will give you a receipt in full of all demands."

Gordon shook his head and looked grave.

"What's the matter? Won't you do it?"

"No, sir. I can't do that."


"Because I have sworn neither to taste, touch, nor handle the accursed thing. Neither to drink it myself, nor put it to the lips of another. No, no, Mr. King, I can't do that. But I will sell your groceries for you three days in the week, for four weeks. Part of my time is already regularly engaged."

"Go off about your business!" said the store-keeper, his face red with anger at the language of the reformed man, which he was pleased to consider highly insulting. "I'll see to collecting that bill in a different way from that."

By this time Gordon was learning not to be frightened and discouraged at every thing. His wife had so often showed him its folly, that he felt ashamed to go to her again in a desponding mood, and therefore cheered himself up before going home.

In other quarters he found rather better success. Not all of those he owed were of the stamp of the two to whom application had last been made. In less than six months he had worked out nearly a hundred dollars of what he owed, and had regular employment that brought him in six dollars every week, besides earning, by odd jobs and light porterage, from two to three dollars. His wife rarely let a week go without producing her one or two dollars by needle-work. Little comforts gradually crept in, notwithstanding all their debts were not yet paid off. This was inevitable.

By the end of twelve months Gordon found himself clear of debt, and in a good situation in a store at five hundred dollars a year.

"So much for 'Time, Faith, Energy,'" he said to himself, as he walked backwards and forwards, in his comfortable little home, one evening, thinking of the incidents of the year, and the results that had followed. "I would not have believed it. Scarcely a twelvemonth has passed, and here am I, a sober man and out of debt."

"Though still very far from the advanced position in the world you held a few years ago, and to which you can never more attain," said a desponding voice within him. "A man never has but one chance for attaining ease and competence in this life. If he neglects that, he need not waste his time in any useless struggles."

"Time, Faith, Energy!" spoke out another voice. "If one year has done so much for you, what will not five, ten, or twenty years do? Redouble your energies, have confidence in the future, and time will make all right."

"I will have faith in time; I will have energy!" responded the man in Gordon, speaking aloud.

From that time Gordon and his wife lived with even stricter economy than before, in order to lay by a little money with which he could,—at some future time, re-commence his own business, which was profitable. There was still only a single shop in town, and that was the one owned by his old employer, who had, in fact, built himself up on his downfall, when he took to drinking and neglecting his business. On less than a thousand dollars Gordon did not think of commencing business. Less than that he knew would make the effort a doubtful one. This amount he expected to save in about five years.

Two years of this time had elapsed, and Gordon had four hundred dollars invested and bearing interest. He still held his situation at five hundred dollars per annum. The only shop yet established in the town for doing the work for which he was qualified both as a journeyman and master workman, was that owned and still carried on by his old employer, who had made a good deal of money; but who had, of late, fallen into habits of dissipation and neglected his business.

One evening, while Gordon was reading at home in his comfortable little sitting-room, with his wife beside him engaged with her needle, and both feeling very contented, there was a rap at the door. On opening it Gordon recognized Mr. Evenly, and politely invited him to come in. After being seated, his old employer, who showed too plainly the debasing signs of frequent intoxication, said—

"Gordon what are you doing now?"

The reformed man stated the nature of his occupation.

"What salary do you receive?" asked Evenly.

"Five hundred dollars a year."

"Do you like your present employment?"

"Yes, very well. It is lighter than my old business, and much cleaner."

"Would you be willing to come to work for me again?" further inquired Evenly.

"I don't know that I would. My present situation is permanent, my employer a very pleasant man, and my work easy."

"Three things that are very desirable, certainly. But I'll tell you what I want, and what I will give you. Perhaps we can make a bargain. There is no man in town who understands our business better than you do. That I am free to admit. Heretofore I have been my own manager; but I am satisfied that it will be for my interest to have a competent foreman in my establishment. If I can find one to suit me I will give him liberal wages. You will do exactly; and if you will take charge of my shop, I will make your wages fifteen dollars a week. What do you say to that?"

"I rather think," replied Gordon, "that I will accept your offer. Five dollars a week advance in wages for a poor man is a consideration not lightly to be passed by."

"It is not, certainly," remarked Evenly. "Then I may consider it settled that you will take charge of my shop."

"Yes. I believe I needn't hesitate about the matter."

So the arrangement was made, and Gordon went back to the shop as foreman, from which he had been discharged as a journeyman three years before.

Firmly bent upon commencing the business for himself, whenever he should feel himself able to do so, Gordon continued his frugal mode of living for two years longer, when the amount of his savings, interest and all added, was very nearly fifteen hundred dollars. The time had now come for him to take the step he had contemplated for four years. Evenly received the announcement with undisguised astonishment. After committing to such competent hands the entire manufacturing part of his business, he had given himself up more and more to dissipation. Had it not been for the active and energetic manner in which the affairs of the shop were conducted by Gordon, every thing would have fallen into disorder. But in a fair ratio with the neglect of his principal was he efficient as his agent.

"I can't let you go," said Evenly, when Gordon informed him of his intention to go into business for himself. "If fifteen dollars a week doesn't satisfy you, you shall have twenty."

"It is not the wages," replied Gordon. "I wish to go into business for myself. From the first this has been my intention."

"But you haven't the capital."

"Yes. I have fifteen hundred dollars."

"You have!"

"Yes. I have saved it in four years. That will give me a fair start. I am not afraid for the rest."'

Evenly felt well satisfied that if Gordon went into business for himself, his own would be ruined, and therefore, finding all efforts to dissuade him from his purpose of no avail, he offered to take him in as a partner. But to this came an unexpected objection. Gordon was averse to such a connection. Being pressed to state the reason why, he frankly said—

"My unwillingness to enter into business with you arises from the fact that you are, as I was four years ago, a slave to strong drink. You are not yourself one half of the time, and hardly ever in a fit condition to attend to business. Pardon me for saying this. But you asked for my reason, and I have given it."

Evenly, at first, was angry. But reflection soon came, and then he felt humiliated as he had never felt before. There was no intention on the part of Gordon to insult him, nor to triumph over him, but rather a feeling of sorrow; and this Evenly saw.

"And this is your only objection?" he at length said.

"I have none other," replied Gordon.

"If it did not exist you would meet my proposals?"


"Then it shall no longer exist. From this hour I will be as free from the vice you have named as you are."

"Will you sign the pledge?"

"Yes, this very hour."

And he did so.

A year afterwards an old friend, who had joined the temperance ranks about the time Gordon did, and who had only got along moderately well, passed the establishment of EVENLY & GORDON, and saw the latter standing in the door.

"Are you in this concern?" he asked, in some surprise.


"And making money fast?"

"We are doing very well."

"Gordon, I don't understand this altogether. I tried to recover myself, but soon got discouraged, and have ever since plodded along in a poor way I live, it is true; but you are doing much better than that. What is your secret?"

"It lies in three words," replied Gordon.

"Name them."

"Time, Faith, Energy!"

The man looked startled for a moment, and then walked away wiser than when he asked the question. Whether he will profit by the answer we cannot tell. Others may, if they will.


"WASN'T that Ernestine Lee that we passed this moment?" asked Harvey Lane, a young M.D., of his friend James Everett, in a tone of surprise.

"Yes, I believe it was—"Everett returned, rather coldly.

"You believe it was! Surely, James, nothing has occurred to destroy the intimacy that has for some time existed between you."

"You saw that we did not speak."

"I did."

"And, probably, shall never be on terms of friendship again."

"What you say pains me very much, James. Of course there is a reason for so great a change. May I ask what it is?"

"It is, no doubt, a good deal my own fault. But still, I cannot help thinking that she has taken offence too suddenly, where no offence was intended. You know that I have been long paying attentions to her?"


"If I remember rightly, I told you last week, that my intentions towards her were of a serious character. In a word, that I had fully made up my mind to ask her hand in marriage."

"O, yes,—I remember it very well. And that is the reason why I felt so much surprised at seeing you pass each other, without speaking."

"Well, a few evenings ago, I called, as usual, intending, if a good opportunity offered, to make known my true feelings towards her. Unfortunately, I had dined out that day with some young friends. We sat late at table, and when I left, I was a little flushed with wine. It was a very little, for you know that I can drink pretty freely without its being seen. But, somehow, or other, I was more elated than is usual with me on such occasions, and when I called on Ernestine, felt as free and easy as if everything was settled, and we were to be married in a week. For a time, we chatted together very pleasantly; then I asked her to play and sing for me. She went to the piano, at my request, and played and sung two or three very sweet airs. I don't know which it was that elated my feelings so much—the wine, or the delightful music. Certain it is, that at the conclusion of a piece, I was in such rapture, that I threw my arms around her neck, drew back her head, and kissed her with emphatic earnestness."

"Why, James!"

"You may well be surprised at the commission of so rude and ungentlemanly an act. But, as I have said, I was flushed with wine."

"How did Ernestine act?"

"She was, of course, deeply indignant at the unwarrantable liberty. Springing from the piano-stool, her face crimsoned over, she drew herself up with a dignified air, and ordered me instantly to leave her presence. I attempted to make an apology, but she would not hear a word. I have since written to her, but my letter has been returned unopened."

"Really, that is unfortunate," the friend of Everett said, with concern. "Ernestine is a girl whom any man might be proud to gain as a wife. And, besides her personal qualifications, a handsome fortune will go with her hand."

"I know all that too well, Harvey. Fool that I have been, to mar such prospects as were mine! But she must have known that I was not myself—and ought to have charged the fault upon the wine, and not upon me."

"Such a discrimination is not usually made."

"I know that it is not. And for not making it in my case, I certainly cannot help blaming Ernestine a little. She must have known, that, had I not been flushed with wine, I never would have taken the liberty with her that I did. As it is, however, I am not only pained at the consequences of my foolishness, but deeply mortified at my conduct."

"Is there no hope of a reconciliation?"

"I do not think there is any. If she had accepted my written apology for the act, there would have been some hope. But the fact of her returning my letter unopened, is conclusive as to the permanency of the breach. I can now make no further advances."

"Truly, it is mortifying!" the friend remarked. Then, after a pause, he added, with emphasis—

"What fools this wine does make of us, sometimes!"

"Doesn't it? Another such a circumstance as this, would almost drive me to join a temperance society."

"O, no, hardly that, James."

"Well, perhaps not. But, at least, to eschew wine for ever."

"Wine is good enough in its place; but, like fire, is rather a bad master. Like you, I have injured my prospects in life by an over-indulgence in the pleasures of the cup."



"When did that happen?"

"Since I last saw you."

"Indeed! I am sorry to hear you say so. But how was it?—tell me."

"You know, that as a young physician, I shall have to struggle on in this city for years before I can rise to any degree of distinction, unless aided by some fortunate circumstance, that shall be as a stepping-stone upon which to elevate me, and enable me to gain the public eye. I am conscious that I have mastered thoroughly the principles of my profession—and that, in regard to surgery, particularly, I possess a skill not surpassed by many who have handled the knife for years. Of this fact, my surgical teacher, who is my warm friend, is fully aware. At every important case that he has, I am desired to be present, and assist in the operation, and once or twice, where there were no friends of the patient to object, I have been permitted to perform the operation myself, and always with success. In this department of my profession, I feel great confidence in myself—and it is that part of it, in which I take the most interest."

"And in which, I doubt not, you will one day be distinguished."

"I trust so; and yet, things look dark enough just now. But to go on. A few days ago, I dined with some friends. After dinner, the bottle was circulated pretty freely, and I drank as freely as the rest, but was not aware of having taken enough to produce upon me any visible effects. It was about an hour after the table had been cleared for the wine, that an unusually loud ringing of the door-bell attracted our attention. In a few moments after, I heard a voice asking, in hurried tones, for Doctor Lane. Going down at once to the hall, I found old Mr. Camper there, the rich merchant, in a state of great agitation.

"'Doctor,' said he, grasping my arm,—'a most terrible accident has happened to my daughter!—thrown from a carriage!—My physician cannot be found, and as I have often heard your skill warmly alluded to by him, I desire your instant attendance. My carriage is at the door—Come along with me, quickly.'

"Catching up my hat, I attended him at once, and during our rapid drive to his princely residence, learned that his only daughter had been thrown from a carriage, and dreadfully injured; but in what way, could not ascertain. Unaccountably to myself, I found my mind all in confusion,—and, strange, unprofessional omission! forgot to request that I be driven first to my office for my case of instruments. We had not proceeded half the distance to Mr. Camper's residence, before I noticed that the old man became silent, and that his eye was fixed upon me with a steady, scrutinizing gaze. This added to the confusion of mind which I felt. At length the carriage stopped, and I accompanied Mr. Camper to his daughter's chamber, hurriedly, and in silence. As I paused by the bed upon which she lay, I again noticed that he was regarding me with a steady searching look, and an expression of face that I did not like, and could not understand.

"I proceeded, however, at once, to examine the condition of my patient, who lay in a kind of stupor. There was a deep gash on the side of her face, from which the blood had issued profusely. By the aid of warm-water, I soon cleared the wound from a mass of coagulated blood that had collected around it, and was glad to find that it was not a serious one. I then proceeded to examine if there were any fractures. All this time my hands were unsteady, my face burned, and my mind was confused. I was conscious that I had taken too much wine.

"'There is no apparent injury here,' I at length said, after examining the arms and chest. 'She is probably only stunned by the concussion.'

"'But she could not stand on her feet when first lifted after the fall, and fainted immediately upon attempting to sustain her own weight,' Mr. Camper replied.

"I then made further examination, and found sad indications of her fall, in a fractured patella. The knee was, however, so swollen, that I could not ascertain the nature, nor extent of the fracture.

"'What do you find the matter there, doctor?' Mr. Camper asked, after I had finished my examination.

"'A very serious injury, sir, I am sorry to say,' was my reply.

"'Of what nature?' was his somewhat stern inquiry.

"'Her knee-pan is fractured, sir; but so much swollen, that I cannot, now, fully ascertain the extent of the injury.'"

"Henry!" cried the old man in a quick, eager tone to an attendant, "go again for doctor L—; and if he is not in, go for doctor R—; and if you cannot find him, call on doctor T—, and ask him to come instantly."

The attendant hurriedly departed, when Mr. Camper turned slowly towards me, with a mingled expression of anger, pain, and contempt, upon his face, and said, in a stern voice,

"'Go home young man! and quit drinking wine, or quit the profession! You are in no fit state to undertake a case like this.'

"It came upon me like a peal of thunder from an unclouded summer sky. It was the knell of newly-awakened hopes—the darkening of newly-opening prospects. Silently I turned away under the cutting rebuke, and left the house."

"Really, that was most unfortunate!" his friend Everett remarked, with earnest sympathy.

"Could anything have been more unfortunate, or more mortifying. Her case was one that I fully understood; and could have treated successfully. It would have brought me into contact with the family for six months, or more, and the eclat which I should have derived from the case, would have given me a prominence as a young surgeon, that I am afraid the fact of my losing the case under such mortifying circumstances, will prevent me ever attaining in this city."

"Really, Harvey, I do feel exceedingly pained at what you have told me. Confound this wine! I believe it does more harm than good."

"Too free an indulgence of it does, no doubt. Our error has lain in this. We must be more prudent in future."

"Suppose we swear off for ever from touching it."

"No, I will not do that. Wine is good in its place, and I shall continue to use it, but more moderately. A physician never knows the moment he may be called upon, and should, therefore, always be in a state to exercise a clear head and a steady hand."

"Certainly, we have both of us had lessons not soon to be forgotten," was the reply; and then the two young men separated.

Two weeks from the day this conversation took place, doctor Lane and his friend James Everett met at a supper-party, where all kinds of liquors were introduced, and every kind of inducement held out for the company to drink freely. Both of the young men soon forgot their resolutions to be guarded in respect to the use of wine. As the first few glasses began to take effect, in an elevation of spirits, each felt a kind of pride in the thought that he could bear as much as any one there, and not show signs of intoxication.

By eleven o'clock, there was not one at the table who was not drunk enough to be foolish. The rational and intelligent conversation that had been introduced early in the evening, had long since given place to the obscene jest—the vulgar story—or the bacchanalian song. Gayest of the gay were our young men, who had already, one would think, received sufficient lessons of prudence and temperance.

"Take care, James!" cried Lane, across the table to his friend Everett, familiarly, late in the evening. "You are pouring the wine on the table, instead of in your glass."

"You are beginning to see double," was Everett's reply, lifting his head with a slight drunken air, and throwing a half-angry glance upon his friend.

"That is more than you can do," was the retort, with a meaning toss of the head.

"I don't understand you," Everett said, pausing with the decanter still in his hand, and eyeing his friend, steadily.

"Don't you, indeed! You see yourself in a state of blessed singleness—ha! Do you take?"

"Look here, James,—you are my friend. But there are things that I will not allow even a friend to utter. So take care now!"

"Ha! ha! There comes the raw. Do I rub too hard, my boy?"

"You 're drunk, and a fool into the bargain!" was the angry retort of Everett.

"Not so drunk as you were when you hugged and kissed Ernestine Lee! How do you like—?"

Lane could not finish the sentence, before the decanter which Everett had held in his hand glanced past his head with fearful velocity, and was dashed into fragments against the wall behind him. The instant interference of friends prevented any further acts of violence.

It was about ten o'clock on the next morning that young doctor Lane sat in his office, musing on the events of the previous night, of which he had only a confused recollection, when a young man entered, and presented a note. On opening it, he found it to be a challenge from Everett.

"Leave me your card, and I will refer my friend to you," was his reply, with a cold bow, as he finished reading the note. The card was left, and the stranger, with a frigid bow in return, departed.

"Fool, fool that I have been!" ejaculated Lane, rising to his feet, and pacing the floor of his office backwards and forwards with hurried steps. This was continued for nearly half an hour, during which time his countenance wore a painful and gloomy expression. At last, pausing, and seating himself at a table, he murmured, as he lifted a pen,

"It is too late now for vain regrets."

He then wrote a note with a hurried air, and dispatched it by an attendant. This done, he again commenced pacing the floor of his office, but now with slower steps, and a face expressive of sad determination. In about twenty minutes a young man entered, saying, as he did so—

"I'm here at a word, Harvey—and now what is this important business which I can do for you, and for which you are going to be so everlastingly obliged?"

"That will tell you," Lane briefly said, handing him the challenge he had received.

The young man's face turned pale as he read the note.

"Bless me, Harvey!" he ejaculated, as he threw the paper upon the table. "This is a serious matter, truly! Why how have you managed to offend Everett? I always thought that you were friends of the warmest kind."

"So we have been, until now. And at this moment, I have not an unkind thought towards him, notwithstanding he threw a bottle of wine at my head last night, which, had it taken effect, would have, doubtless, killed me instantly."

"How in the world did that happen, doctor?"

"We were both flushed with wine, at the time. I said something that I ought not to have said—something which had I been myself, I would have cut off my right hand before I would have uttered—and it roused him into instant passion."

"And not satisfied with throwing the bottle of wine at your head, he now sends you a challenge?"

"Yes. And I must accept it, notwithstanding I have no angry feelings against him; and, but for the hasty step he has now taken, would have most willingly asked his pardon."

"That, of course, is out of the question now," the friend replied. "But I will see his second; and endeavour, through him, to bring about a reconciliation, if I can do so, honourably, to yourself."

"As to that," replied Lane, "I have nothing to say. If he insists upon a meeting, I will give him the satisfaction he seeks."

It was about half an hour after, that the friend of Lane called upon the friend of Everett. They were old acquaintances.

"You represent Everett, I believe, in this unpleasant affair between him and doctor Lane," the latter said.

"I do," was the grave reply.

"Surely we can prevent a meeting!" the friend of Lane said, with eagerness.

"I do not see how," was the reply.

"They were flushed with wine when the provocation occurred, and this ought to prevent a fatal meeting. If Lane insulted Everett, it was because he was not himself. Had he been perfectly sober, he would never have uttered an offensive word."

"Perhaps not. But with that I have nothing to do. He has insulted my friend, and that friend asks a meeting. He can do no less than grant it—or prove himself a coward."

"I really cannot see the necessity that this should follow," urged the other. "It seems to me, that it is in our power to prevent any hostile meeting."


"By representing to the principals in this unhappy affair, the madness of seeking each other's lives. You can learn from Everett what kind of an apology, if any, will satisfy him, and then I can ascertain whether such an apology will be made."

"You can do what you please in that way," the friend of Everett replied. "But I am not disposed to transcend my office. Besides, I know that, as far as Everett is concerned, no apology will be accepted. The insult was outrageous, involving a breach of confidence, and referring to a subject of the most painful, mortifying, and delicate nature."

"I am really sorry to hear that both you and your friend are determined to push this matter to an issue, for I had hoped that an adjustment of the difficulty would be easy."

"No adjustment can possibly take place. Doctor Lane must fight, or be posted as a coward, and a scoundrel."

"He holds himself ready to give Mr. Everett all the satisfaction he requires," was the half-indignant reply.

"Then, of course, you are prepared to name the weapons; and the time and place of meeting?"

"I am not. For so confident did I feel that it would only be necessary to see you to have all difficulties put in a train for adjustment, that I did not confer upon the subject of the preliminaries of the meeting. But I will see you again, in the course of an hour, when I shall be ready to name them."

"If you please." And then the seconds parted.

"I am afraid this meeting will take place in spite of all that I can do," the friend of doctor Lane said, on returning after his interview with Everett's second. "The provocation which you gave last night is felt to be so great, that no apology can atone for it."

"My blood probably will,—and he can have that!" was the gloomy reply.

A troubled silence ensued, which was at last broken by the question,

"Have you decided, doctor, upon the weapons to be used?"

"Pistols, I suppose," was the answer.

"Have you practised much?"

"Me! No. I don't know that I ever fired a pistol in my life."

"But Everett is said to be a good shot."

"So much the worse for me. That is all."

"You have the liberty of choosing some other weapon. One with which you are familiar."

"I am familiar with no kind of deadly weapons."

"Then you will stand a poor chance, my friend; unless you name the day of meeting next week, and practise a good deal in the meantime."

"I shall do no such thing. Do you suppose, that if I fight with Everett, I shall try to kill him? No. I would not hurt a hair of his head. I am no murderer!"

"Then you go out under the existence of a fatal inequality."

"I cannot help that. It is my misfortune. I did not send the challenge."

"That is no reason why you should not make an effort to preserve your own life."

"If we both fire at once, and both of our balls take effect, the fact that my ball strikes him will not benefit me any. And suppose he should be killed, and I survive, do you think I could ever know a single hour's happiness? No—no—I choose the least of two evils. I must fight. But I will not kill."

"In this you are determined?"

"I certainly am. I have weighed the matter well, and come to a positive decision."

"You choose pistols, then?"

"Yes. Let the weapons be pistols."

"When shall the meeting take place?"

"Let it be to-morrow morning, at sunrise. The quicker it is over, the better."

This determined upon, the friend went again to the second of Everett, and completed all necessary arrangements for the duel.

It was midnight, and young doctor Lane sat alone in his chamber, beside a table, upon which were ink and paper. He had, evidently, made several attempts to write; and each time failed from some cause to accomplish his task. Several sheets of paper had been written upon, and thrown aside. Each of these bore the following words:—

"My Dear Parents:—When these lines are read by you, the hand that penned them will be cold and nerveless—"

Thus far the unhappy young man could go, but no farther. Imagination pictured too vividly the heart-stricken father who had so often looked down upon him when a boy with pride and pleasure, and the tender, but now agonized mother, as that appalling announcement met their eyes.

Again, for the fifth time, he took up his pen, murmuring in a low tone, yet with a resolute air,

"It must be done!"

He had again written the words:—

"My Dear Parents—"

When his ear caught the sound of steps, strangely familiar to his ear, ascending the stairs, and approaching his chamber. He paused, and listened with a heart almost stilled in its pulsations. In a brief space, the door of his room opened, and a grey-haired, feeble old man came slowly in.

"My father!" exclaimed Harvey, starting to his feet in astonishment—scarcely, for the moment, being able to realize whether it were indeed his father, or, only an apparition.

"Thank heaven! that I have found my son alive—" ejaculated the old man, uncovering his head, and lifting his eyes upward. "O, Harvey, my child!" he then said, with an earnest pathos, that touched the young man's heart—"how could you so far forget us as to think even for a single moment of the dreadful act you are preparing to commit?"

"I had hoped to be spared this severest trial of all," the young man said, rising and grasping the hand of his father, while the tears sprang to his eyes. "What officious friend has taken the pains to disturb both your peace and mine—dragging you thus away from your home, in the vain effort to prevent an act that must take place."

"Speak not so rashly, my son! It cannot, it must not, it shall not take place!"

"I have no power to prevent it, father."

"You are a free agent."

"Not to do a deed of dishonour,—or, rather, I am not free to suffer dishonour."

"There is no honour in wantonly risking or taking life, Harvey."

"I insulted a friend, in the grossest manner."

"That was dishonourable. But why did you insult him?"

"I was flushed with wine."

The old man shook his head, sadly.

"I know it was wrong, father. But it can't be helped now. Well, as I said; I insulted him, and he has demanded satisfaction. Can I do less than give it to him?"

"If you insulted him, you can apologize. And, from what I know of James Everett, he will at once forgive."

"I cannot do that now, father. He threw a bottle of wine at my head, and then precipitately challenged me. I owe at least something to myself."

"And something, I should think, to your mother, if not to me," replied the old man, bitterly. "How, think you she will receive the news of your death, if the combat should terminate fatally for you? Or, how, if your hands should become stained with the blood of your friend?"

"Talk not thus, father! Talk not thus!" ejaculated the young man, rising up quickly, and beginning to pace the floor of his chamber with hurried steps. "Is not my situation dreadful enough viewed in any light? Then why seek to agonize my heart with what I would gladly forget? I am already racked with tortures that can scarcely be endured—why seek to run my cup of misery over?"

"I seek but to save you, my child," the father replied, in a voice that suddenly became low and tremulous.

"It is a vain effort. There is but one course for me, and that is to go on, and meet whatever consequences ensue. The result may not be so bad as feared."

"Harvey!" old Mr. Lane said, in a voice that had somewhat regained its steadiness of tone. "This meeting must not take place. If you persist in going out tomorrow morning, I must take measures to prevent it."

"And thus dishonour your son."

"All dishonour that will appertain to you, Harvey, appertains to you now. You insulted your friend. Neither your death nor his can atone for that offence. If reparation be truly made, it will come in some other form."

"It is vain to urge that matter with me," was the reply to this. "I must give James Everett the satisfaction he requires to-morrow morning. And now, father, if I should fall, which heaven forbid for others' sakes more than my own," and the young man's voice quivered, "break the matter to my mother as gently as possible—tell her, that my last thoughts were of her, and my last prayer that she might be given strength from above to bear this heavy affliction."

It was a damp, drizzly morning, just at break of day, when Harvey Lane, accompanied by his friend, and a young physician, entered a close carriage, and started for the duelling-ground, which had been selected, some four miles from the city. Two neat mahogany cases were taken along, one containing a pair of duelling pistols, and the other a set of surgical instruments. As these were handed in, the eye of Lane rested upon them for a moment. They conjured up in his mind no very pleasant thoughts. He was very pale, and silent. Nor did his companions seem in much better condition, or much better spirits. A rapid drive of nearly three quarters of an hour brought them upon the ground. The other party had not yet arrived, but came up in a few minutes afterwards. Then commenced the formal preparations. The ground was measured off—ten paces. The seconds prepared the deadly weapons which were to heal the honour that had been so dreadfully wounded, and arranged all the minor provisions of the duel.

During all this time, neither of the young men looked towards each other, but each paced rapidly over a little space of ground, backwards and forwards, with agitated steps—though evidently with an effort to seem composed.

"Ready," said Lane's second, at length, close to his ear.

The young man started, and his cheek blanched to a pale hue. He had been thinking of his father and mother. With almost the vividness of reality had he seen them before him, and heard their earnest; tearful pleadings with him to forbear for their sakes, if not for his own. But he took the deadly weapon in his hand mechanically, and moved to the position that had been assigned him. The arrangement was, that the seconds should give the words—one—two—three—in slow succession, and that the parties should fire as soon after "three" was uttered, as they chose.

Their positions taken, the young men's eyes met for the first time—and for the first time they looked again upon each other's faces. The word one had been given, at which each raised his pistol,—two was uttered—and then another individual was suddenly, and unexpectedly added to the party, who threw himself in front of Harvey Lane, in range of both the deadly weapons. Turning, then, towards Everett, he said, lifting his hat, and letting his thin grey hairs fall about his forehead—

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