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The Lights and Shadows of Real Life
by T.S. Arthur
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"We cannot spare our son, yet, James! We are growing old, and he is our only child. If he were taken thus away from us, we should not be able to bear it. For our sakes, then, James, if he has injured you, forgive him."

Already had the face of his old and long-tried friend, as he met its familiar expression, softened in some degree the feelings of Everett, and modified the angry vindictiveness which he still continued to cherish. The apparition of the father, and his unexpected appeal, completely conquered him, and he threw, with a sudden effort, his pistol away some twenty yards.

"I am satisfied!" he said, in a low tone, advancing, and taking the old man's hand. "You have conquered the vindictive pride of a foolish heart."

"I know that I grossly insulted you, James"—Harvey Lane said, coming quickly forward, and offering his hand. "But would I, could I have done it, if I had been myself?"

"No, Harvey, you could not! And I was mad and blind that I would not see this"—Everett replied, grasping the hand of his friend. "We were both flushed with wine, and that made both of us fools. Surely, Harvey, we have had warning enough, of the evil of drinking. Within the last two weeks, it has seriously marred our prospects in life, and now it has brought us out here with the deliberate intent of taking each other's lives."

"From this hour, I solemnly declare, that I will never again touch, taste, or handle the accursed thing!" Lane said, with strong emphasis.

"In that resolution I join you," replied Everett, with a like earnest manner. "And let this resolution be the sealing bond of our perpetual friendship."

"Amen!" ejaculated Harvey Lane, solemnly,—and, "Amen!" responded the old man, fervently, lifting his eyes to Heaven.



SWEARING OFF.



"JOHN," said a sweet-faced girl, laying her hand familiarly upon the shoulder of a young man who was seated, near a window in deep abstraction of mind. There was something sad in her voice,—and her countenance, though, lovely, wore an expression of pain.

"What do you want, sister?" the young man replied, without lifting his eyes from the floor.

"You are not happy, brother."

To this, there was no reply, and an embarrassing pause of some moments ensued.

"May I speak a word with you, brother?"—the young girl at length said, with a tone and manner that showed her to be compelling herself to the performance of a painful and repugnant task.

"On what subject, Alice?" the brother asked, looking up with a doubting expression.

This question brought the colour to Alice's cheeks, and the moisture to her eyes.

"You know what I would say, John," she at length made out to utter, in a voice that slightly trembled.

"How should I know, sister?"

"You were not yourself last night, John."

"Alice!"

"Forgive me, brother, for what I now say," the maiden rejoined. "It is a painful trial, indeed; and were it not that I loved you so well—were it not that, besides you, there is no one else in the wide world to whom I can look up, I might shrink from a sister's duty. But I feel that it would be wrong for me not to whisper in your ear one warning word—wrong not to try a sister's power over you."

"I will forgive you this time, on one condition," the brother said, in a tone of rebuke, and with a grave expression of countenance.

"What is that?" asked Alice.

"On condition that you never again, directly or indirectly, allude to this subject. It is not in your province to do so. A sister should not look out for her brother's faults."

A sudden gush of tears followed this cold, half-angry repulse; and then the maiden turned slowly away and left the room.

John Barclay's anger towards his only sister, who had no one, as she had feelingly said, in the wide world to look up to and love, but him, subsided the moment he saw how deeply his rebuke had wounded her. But he could not speak to her, nor recall his words—for the subject she had introduced was one so painful and mortifying, that he could not bear an allusion to it.

From long indulgence, the habit of drinking had become confirmed in the young man to such a degree that he had almost ceased to resist an inclination that was gaining a dangerous power over him. And yet there was in his mind an abiding resolution one day to break away from this habit. He did not intend to become a drunkard. Oh, no! The condition of a drunkard was too low and degrading. He could never sink to that! After awhile, he intended to "swear off," as he called it, and be done with the seductive poison altogether; but he had not yet been able to bring so good a resolution into present activity. This being his state of mind—conscious of danger, and yet unwilling to fly from that danger, he could not bear any allusion to the subject.

Half an hour, passed in troubled thought, elapsed after this brief interview between the brother and sister, when the young man left the house and took his way, scarcely reflecting upon where he was going, to one of his accustomed places of resort—a fashionable drinking house, where every device that ingenuity could invent, was displayed to attract custom. Splendid mirrors and pictures hung against the walls, affecting the mind with pleasing thoughts—and tempting to self-indulgence. There were lounges, where one might recline at ease, while he sipped the delicious compounds the richly furnished bar afforded, never once dreaming that a serpent lay concealed in the cup that he held to his lips—a serpent that one day would sting him, perhaps unto death!

"Regular as clock-work,"—said an old man, a friend of Barclay's father, who had been dead several years, meeting the young man as he was about to enter the attractive establishment just alluded to.

"How?" asked Barclay in a tone of enquiry.

"Six times a day, John, is too often for you to be seen going into the same drinking-house,"—said the old man, with plain-spoken honesty.

"You must not talk to me in that way, Mr. Gray," the other rejoined sternly.

"My respect and regard for the father, will ever cause me to speak plainly to the son when I think him in danger," was Mr. Gray's calm reply.

"In danger of what, Mr. Gray?"

"In danger of—shall I utter the word in speaking o' the son of my old friend, Mr. Barclay? Yes; in danger of—drunkenness!"

"Mr. Gray, I cannot permit any one to speak to me thus."

"Be not offended at me, John. I utter but the truth."

"I will not stand to be insulted by any one!" was the young man's angry reply, as he turned suddenly away from his aged friend, and entered the drinking-house. He did not go up at once to the bar, as had been his habit, but threw himself down upon one of the lounges, took up a newspaper, and commenced; or rather, appeared to commence reading, though he did not, in fact, see a letter.

"What will you have, Mr. Barclay?" asked an officious attendant, coming up, a few moments after he had entered.

"Nothing just now," was the reply, made in a low tone, while his eyes were not lifted from the newspaper. No very pleasant reflections were those that passed through his mind as he sat there. At last he rose up quickly, as if a resolution, had been suddenly formed, and left the place where clustered so many temptations, with a hurried step.

"I want you to administer an oath," he said, entering the office of an Alderman, a few minutes after.

"Very well, sir. I am ready," replied the Alderman. "What is its nature?"

"I will give you the form."

"Well?"

"I, John Barclay, do solemnly swear, that for six months from this hour, I will not taste a drop of any kind of liquor that intoxicates."

"I wouldn't take that oath, young man," the Alderman said.

"Why not?"

"You had better go and join a temperance society. Signing the pledge will be of as much avail."

"No—I will not sign a pledge never to drink again. I'm not going to make a mere slave of myself. I'll swear off for six months."

"Why not swear off perpetually, then?"

"Because, as I said, I am not going to make a slave of myself. Six months of total-abstinence will give me a control over myself that I do not now possess."

"I very much fear, sir," urged the Alderman, notwithstanding he perceived that the young man was growing impatient—"and you must pardon my freedom in saying so, that you will find yourself in error. If you are already so much the slave of drink as to feel yourself compelled to have recourse to the solemnities of an oath to break away from its bewitching power, depend upon it, that no temporary expedient of this kind will be of any avail. You will, no doubt, keep your oath religiously, but when its influence is withdrawn, you will find the strength of an unsupported resolution as weak as ever."

"I do not believe the position you take to be a true one," argued young Barclay—"All I want is to get rid of present temptation, and to be freed from present associations. Six months will place me beyond the reach of these, and then I shall be able to do right from an internal principle, and not from mere external restraint."

"I see the view you take, and would not urge a word against it, did I not know so many instances of individuals who have vainly opposed their resolutions against the power of habit. When once an appetite for intoxicating drinks has been formed, there is only one way of safety—that of taking a perpetual pledge of total-abstinence. That, and that alone is the wall of sure protection. Without it, you are exposed to temptations on every hand. The manly and determined effort to be free will not always avail. In some weak and unsuspecting moment, the tempter will steal quietly in, and all will be again lost."

"It is useless, sir, to argue the point with me," Barclay replied to this. "I will not now take the pledge—that is settled. I will take an oath of abstinence for six months. If I can keep to it that long, I can keep from drinking always."

Seeing that further argument would be useless, the Alderman said no more, but proceeded to administer the oath. The young man then paid the required fee and turned from the office in silence.

When Alice left the room in tears, stung by the cutting rebuke of her brother, she retired to her chamber with an oppressed and aching heart. She loved him tenderly. They were, sister and brother, alone in the world, and, therefore, her affections clung the closer to him. The struggle had been a hard one in bringing herself to perform the duty which had called down upon her the anger of one for whom she would almost have given her life; and, therefore, the result was doubly painful, more particularly, as it had effected nothing, apparently, towards a change in his habits.

"But perhaps it will cause him to reflect.—If so, I will cheerfully bear his anger," was the consoling thought that passed through her mind, after the passage of an hour, spent under the influence of most painful feelings.

"O, if he will only be more on his guard," she went on, in thought—"if he will only give up that habit, how glad I should be!"

Just then she heard him enter, and marked the sound of his footsteps as he ascended to his own room, with a fluttering heart. In the course of fifteen or twenty minutes, he went down again, and she listened to observe if he were going out. But he entered the parlours, and then all was, again, quiet.

For some time Alice debated with herself whether she should go down to him or not, and make the effort to dispel the anger that she had aroused against her; but she could not make up her mind how to act, for she could not tell in what mood she might find him. One repulse was as much, she felt, as she could bear. At last, however, her feelings became so wrought up, that she determined to go down and seek to be reconciled. Her brother's anger was more than she could bear.

When she entered the parlours, with her usual quiet step, she found him seated near the window, reading. He lifted his head as she came in, and she saw at a glance that all his angry feelings were gone. How lightly did her heart bound as she sprang forward!

"Will you forgive me, brother?" she said, laying her hand upon his shoulder as she stood by his side, and bent her face down until her fair cheek almost touched his own.

"Rather let me say, will you forgive me, sister?" was his reply, as he kissed her affectionately—"for the unkind repulse I gave you, when to say what you did must have caused you a most painful sacrifice of feeling?"

"Painful indeed it was, brother. But it is past now and all forgiven."

"Since then, Alice," he said, after a pause, "I have taken a solemn oath, administered by an Alderman, not to touch any kind of intoxicating drink for six months."

"O, I am so glad, John!" the sister said, a joyful smile lighting up her beautiful young face. "But why did you say six months? Why not for life?"

"Because, Alice, I do not wish to bind myself down to a kind of perpetual slavery. I wish to be free, and act right in freedom from a true principle of right. Six months of entire abstinence from all kinds of liquor will destroy that appetite for it which has caused me, of late, to seek it far too often. And then I will, as a free man, remain free."

"I shall now be so happy again, John!" Alice said, fully satisfied with her brother's reason.

"So you have not been happy then of late?"

"O, no, brother. Far from it."

"And has the fact of my using wine so freely been the cause of your unhappiness?"

"Solely."

"Its effects upon me have not been so visible as often to attract your attention, Alice?"

"O, yes, they have. Scarcely a day has gone by for three or four months past, that I could not see that your mind was obscured, and often your actions sensibly affected."

"I did not dream that it was so, Alice.'

"Are you not sensible, that at Mr. Weston's, last night you were by no means yourself?"

"Yes, Alice, I am sensible of that, and deeply has it mortified me. I was suffering acutely from the recollection of the exposure which I made of myself on that occasion, especially before Helen, when you alluded to the subject. That was the reason that I could not bear your allusion to it. But tell me, Alice, did you perceive that my situation attracted Helen's attention particularly?"

"Yes. She noticed, evidently, that you were not as you ought to have been."

"How did it affect her, Alice?" asked the young man.

"She seemed much pained, and, I thought, mortified."

"Mortified?"

"Yes."

A pause of some moments ensued, when Barclay asked, in a tone of interest,

"Do you think it has prejudiced her against me?"

"It has evidently pained her very much, but I do not think that it has created in her mind any prejudice against you."

"From what do you infer this, Alice?"

"From the fact, that, while we were alone in her chamber, on my going up stairs to put on my bonnet and shawl, she said to me, and her eyes were moist as well as my own, 'Alice, you ought to speak to your brother, and caution him against this free indulgence in wine; it may grow on him, unawares. If he were as near to me as he is to you, I should not feel that my conscience was clear unless I warned him of his danger.'"

"Did she say that, sister?"

"Yes, those were her very words."

"And you did warn me, faithfully."

"Yes. But the task is one I pray that I may never again have to perform."

"Amen," was the fervent response.

"How do you like Helen?" the young man asked, in a livelier tone, after a silence of nearly a minute.

"I have always been attached to her, John. You know that we have been together since we were little girls, until now we seem almost like sisters."

"And a sister, truly, I hope she may one day become," the brother said, with a meaning smile.

"Most affectionately will I receive her as such," was the reply of Alice. "Than Helen Weston, there is no one whom I had rather see the wife of my dear brother."

As she said this, she drew her arm around his neck, and kissed him affectionately.

"It shall not be my fault, then, Alice, if she do not become your sister—" was the brother's response.

Rigidly true to his pledge, John Barclay soon gained the honourable estimation in the social circle through which he moved, that he had held, before wine, the mocker, had seduced him from the ways of true sobriety, and caused even his best friends to regard him with changed feelings. Possessing a competence, which a father's patient industry had accumulated, he had not, hitherto, thought of entering upon any business. Now, however, he began to see the propriety of doing so, and as he had plenty of capital, he proposed to a young man of industrious habits and thorough knowledge of business to enter into a co-partnership with him. This offer was accepted, and the two young men commenced the world with the fairest prospects.

Three months from the day on which John Barclay had mentioned to his sister that he entertained a regard for Helen Weston, he made proposals of marriage to that young lady, which were accepted.

"But how in regard to his pledge?" I hear some one ask.

O, as to that, it was kept, rigidly. Nothing that could intoxicate was allowed to touch his lips. Of course, he was at first frequently asked to drink by his associates, but his reply to all importunities was—

"No—I have sworn off for six months."

"So you have said for the last six months," remarked young man, named Watson, one day, on his refusing for the twentieth time to drink with him.

"Not for six months, Watson. It is only three months this very day since I swore off."

"Well, it seems to me like six months, anyhow. But do you think that you feel any better for all this total-abstinence?"

"O as to that, I don't know that I feel such a wonderful difference in body; but in mind I certainly do feel a great deal better."

"How so?"

"While I drank, I was conscious that I was beginning to be too fond of drinking, and was too often painfully conscious that I had taken too much. Now, I am, of course, relieved from all such unpleasant feelings."

"Well, that's something, at least. But I never saw you out of the way."

"Do you know the reason; Watson?"

"No."

"I'll tell you. You were always too far gone yourself, when we drank freely together, to perceive my condition."

"So you say."

"It's true."

"Well, have it as you like. But, see here, John, what are you going to do when your six months are out?"

"I'm going to be a sober man, as I am now."

"You never were a drunkard."

"I was precious near being one, then."

"Nonsense! That's all some old woman's notion of yours."

"Well, be that as it may, I certainly intend continuing to be as sober a man as I have been for the last three months."

"Won't you drink a drop after your time is up?"

"That'll be just as I choose. I will drink or let it alone, as I like. I shall then be free to drink moderately, or not at all, as seems agreeable to me."

"That is a little more sensible than your perpetual total-abstinence, teetotal, cold-water system. Who would be such a miserable slave? I would rather die drunk in the gutter, than throw away my liberty."

"I believe I have said as much myself."

"Don't you feel a desire to have a good glass of wine, or a julep, now and then?"

"No, not the slightest. I've sworn off for six months, and that ends the matter. Of course, I have no more desire for a glass of liquor than I have to fly to the moon,—one is a moral, and the other a physical impossibility; and, therefore, are dismissed from my thoughts."

"What do you mean by a moral impossibility?"

"I have taken an oath not to drink for six months, and the violation of that oath is, for one of my views and feelings, a moral impossibility."

"Exactly. There are three months yet to run, you say. After that, I hope to have the pleasure of taking a glass of wine with you in honour of your restoration to a state of freedom."

"You shall have that pleasure, Watson, if it will really be one—" was Barclay's reply, as the two young men parted.

Time wore on, and John Barclay, besides continuing perfectly sober, gave constant attention to business. So complete a change in him gave confidence to the parents and friends of Helen Weston, who made no opposition to his wish for an early marriage. It was fixed to take place on the evening of the very day upon which his temporary pledge was to expire.

To the expiration of this pledge, Barclay had never ceased, from the moment it was taken, to look forward with a lively interest. Not that he felt a desire to drink. But he suffered himself to be worried with the idea that he was no longer a free man. The nearer the day came that was to terminate the period for which he had bound himself to abstinence, the more did his mind dwell upon it, and the more did he desire its approach. It was, likewise, to be his wedding-day, and for that reason, also, did he look eagerly forward. But it is doubtful whether the consummation of his marriage, or the expiration of his pledge, occupied most of his thoughts. The day so long looked for came at last.

The day that was to make Barclay a free man, and happy in the possession of one of the sweetest girls for a wife he had ever seen.

"I shall not see you again, until to-night, John," his sister said to him, as he was about leaving the house, after dinner, laying her hand as she spoke upon his arm, and looking into his face with a quiet smile resting upon her own lovely features.—"I have promised Helen to go over and spend the afternoon with her."

"Very well, sis'."

"Of course we shall see you pretty early,"—an arch smile playing about her lips as she made the remark.

"O, yes, I shall be there in time," was the brother's smiling reply, as he kissed the cheek of Alice, and then turned away and left the house. He first proceeded to his store, where he went through, hurriedly, some business that required his attention, occupying something like an hour. Then he went out, and walked rapidly up one of the principal streets of the city, and down another, as if on some urgent errand. Without stopping anywhere, he had nearly returned to his own store, when he was stopped by a friend, who accosted him with—

"Hallo, John! Where are you going in such a hurry?"

"I am on my way to the store."

"Any life and death in the case?"

"No.—Only I'm to be married to-night, as you are aware; and, consequently, am hardly able to tell whether I am on my head or my heels."

"True enough! And besides, you are a free man today, are you not?"

"Yes, Watson, thank Heaven! that trammel will be off in half an hour."

"You must be fond of trammels, John, seeing that you are going to put another on so soon after getting rid of this—" the friend said, laughing heartily at his jest.

"That will be a lighter, and far pleasanter bondage I trust, Watson, than the one from which I am about escaping. It will be an easy yoke compared to the galling one under which I have toiled for the last six months. Still, I do not regret having bound myself as I did. It was necessary to give me that self-control which I had well-nigh lost. Now I shall be able to act like a rational man, and be temperate from principle, and not from a mere external restraint that made me little better than a machine."

"Your time will be up, you say, in half an hour?"

"Yes—" looking at his watch—"in ten minutes. It is later than I thought."

"Come, then, let us go over to R—'s—it is full ten minutes' walk from here—and take a drink to freedom and principle."

"I am ready to join you, of course," was Barclay's prompt reply, as he drew his arm within that of his friend, and the two turned their steps towards the drinking establishment that had been named by the latter.

"A room, a bottle of sherry, and some cigars," said Watson, as they entered the drinking-house, and went up to the bar.

In a few minutes after, they were alone, with wine and glasses before them.

"Here's to freedom and principle!" said Watson, lifting his glass, after having filled his own and Barclay's.

"And here's to the same high moral (sic) atributes which should ever be man's distinguishing characteristics," responded Barclay, lifting his own glass, and touching with it the brim of that held in the hand of his friend. Both then emptied their glasses at a draught.

"Really, that is delicious!" Barclay said, smacking his lips, as the rich flavour of the wine lingered on his palate with a sensation of exquisite delight.

"It's a pretty fair article," was the indifferent reply of Watson—"though I have tasted better in my time. Long abstinence has made its flavour peculiarly pleasant. Here, let me fill your glass again."

Without hesitating, Barclay presented his glass, which was again filled to the brim. In the next moment it was empty. So eager was he to get it to his lips, that he even spilled a portion of the wine in lifting it hurriedly. Suddenly his old, and as he had thought, extinguished desires, came back upon him, roused into vigorous activity, like a giant awakening refreshed by a long repose. So keen was his appetite for wine, and stimulating drinks, thus suddenly restored, that he could no more have withstood its influence than he could have borne up against the current of a mighty river.

"Help yourself," said his friend, ere another minute had elapsed, as Barclay took up the bottle to fill his glass for the third time. "Long-abstinence has no doubt made you keen."

"It certainly has, or else this is the finest article of wine that has ever passed my lips."

'It's not the best quality by a good deal; still it is pretty fair. But won't you try a mint-julep, or a punch, by way of variety?"

"No objection," was the brief response.

"Which will you choose?"

"I'll take a julep."

"Two juleps," said Watson to the waiter who entered immediately afterwards.

The juleps were soon ready, each furnished with a long straw.

"Delicious!" was Barclay's low, and delighted ejaculation, as he bent to the table, and "imbibed" through the straw a portion of the liquid.

"Our friend R—understands his business," was Watson's brief reply.

A silence of some moments ensued, during which a painful consciousness of danger rushed through the mind of Barclay. But with an effort he dismissed it. He did not intend to drink beyond the bounds of moderation, and why should he permit his mind to be disturbed by idle fears?

* * * * *

"It is time that brother was here," Alice said to Helen Weston, as the two maidens sat alone, near a window in Helen's chamber, the evening twilight falling gently and with a soothing influence.

"Yes. I expected him earlier," was the reply, in a low tone, while Helen's bosom heaved with a new, and exquisitely pleasurable emotion. "What can keep him?"

"He is lingering at his toilet, perhaps," Alice said, with a smile.

All was silent again for many minutes, each gentle and innocent heart; busy with images of delight.

"It's strange that he does not come, Alice, or sister, as I must call you," Helen remarked, in a graver tone, as the shadowy twilight deepened until everything wore a veil of indistinctness.

"There! That must be him!" Alice said. "Hark! That is certainly his voice! Yes—And he is coming right up to your room, as I live, as boldly as if the house belonged to him."

While Alice was yet speaking, the door of the chamber in which they sat was swung open with a rude hand, and her brother entered. His face was flushed, and his whole person in disorder.

"Why, brother! what has kept—," but the sister could utter no more. Her tongue was paralyzed, and she stood, statue-like, gazing upon him with a look of horror. He was intoxicated! It was his wedding-night, a portion of the company below, and the gentle, affectionate maiden who was to become his bride, all attired and waiting, and he had come intoxicated!

Poor Helen's bewildered senses could not at first fully comprehend the scene. When she did realize the terrible truth, the shock was more than she could bear.

Over the whole scene of pain, disorder, and confusion, that transpired on that evening, we must draw a veil. Any reader of even ordinary imagination can realize enough of the exquisite distress which it must have brought to many hearts, without the aid of distinct pictures. And those who cannot realize it, will be spared the pain of its contemplation.

One week from that night, at about nine o'clock in the evening, as old Mr. Gray was passing along one of the principal streets of the city where the occurrences we are relating took place, a young man staggered against him, and then fell at full length upon the pavement, from whence he rolled into the gutter, swollen by a smart shower that had just fallen. Too drunk to help himself, he must have been drowned even in that insignificant stream, had there not been help at hand.

Mr. Gray came at once to his relief, and assisted him to rise and get upon the pavement. But now he was unable to stand. Either hurt by the fall, or unnerved by the liquor he had taken, he was no longer able to keep his feet. While Mr. Gray stood holding him up, undetermined how to act, another young man, not quite so drunk as the one he had in charge, came whooping along like an Indian.

"Hallo! Is this you, John, holding up old Mr. Gray? or is it old Mr. Gray holding you up! [hiccup.] Blast me! If I can tell which of you is drunk, or which sober. Let me see? hic-hic-cup. Was it the Whale that swallowed Jonah, or Jonah the Whale? Is it old Mr. Gray—hic-cup—that is drunk, or John Barclay?"

"John Barclay!" ejaculated the old man, in a tone of surprise and grief. "Surely this wretched young man is not John Barclay!"

"If he is not John Barclay, then I am not—hic-cup—not Tom Watson. He's a bird, though! aint he, old gentleman?—hic-cup—Look here, I'll give you five dollars,—hic-cup—if you'll stop these,—hic—these confounded hic-hic-hic-cups—There now—There's a chance for you!—hic—blast 'em! He swore off for six months, ha! ha! ha! And it's just,—hic—just a week to-night since the six months were up. Hurrah for freedom and principle! Hur—hic—hurrah!"

"Thomas Watson!—"

"Don't come your preaching touch over me, mister, if you please. I'm free Tom Watson,—hic-hic-hic-cup—I'm—hic—I'm a regular team—whoop! John, there, you see, would drink to freedom and principle,—hic-cup—on the—hic—day his pledge was up. But the old fellow was—hic—too strong—hic-cup—for him. He's been drunk as a fool ever since—hic-cup!—"

Just at that moment a cab came by which was stopped by the old man. Young Barclay was gotten into it and driven to Mr. Gray's dwelling.

When brought to the light, he presented a sad spectacle, indeed. His face was swollen, and every feature distorted. His coat was torn, and all of his clothing wet and covered with mud. Too far gone to be able to help himself, Mr. Gray had him removed to a chamber, his wet garments taken off, and replaced by dry under-clothing. Then he was put into a bed and left for the night. When the morning broke, Barclay was perfectly sober, but with a mind altogether bewildered. The room in which he found himself, and the furniture, were all strange. He got up; and looked from the window; the houses opposite were unfamiliar.

"Where am I? What is the meaning of all this?" he said, half-aloud, as he turned to look for his clothes. But no garments of any kind, not even his hat and boots, were visible.

"Strange!" he murmured, getting into bed again, and clasping his hands tightly upon his aching and bewildered head. He had lain, thus, for some minutes, trying to collect his scattered senses, when the door of his chamber was opened by a servant, who brought him in a full suit of his own clothes; not, however, those he remembered to have worn the day previous.

As soon as the servant had withdrawn, the young man, who had felt altogether disinclined to speak to him, hurriedly arose, and dressed himself. On attempting to go out, he was surprised, and somewhat angered, to find that the door of the room had been locked.

Ringing the bell with a quick jerk, he awaited, impatiently, an answer to his summons, for the space of about a minute, when he pulled the cord again with a stronger hand. Only a few moments more elapsed, when the key was turned in the door, and Mr. Gray entered.

"Mr. Gray! Is it possible!" Barclay ejaculated, as the old man stepped into the room, and closed the door after him.

"I can hardly believe it possible, John," his father's friend said, as he turned towards him a sad, yet unreproving countenance.

"But what is the meaning of all this, Mr. Gray? Where am I? And how came I here?"

"Sit down, John, and be calm. You are in my house. Last night I took you from the gutter, too much intoxicated to help yourself. You would have drowned there, in three inches of water, had not a friendly hand been near to save you."

"Dreadful!" ejaculated the young man, striking his hand hard against his forehead, while an expression of shame and agonizing remorse passed over his face.

"It is, indeed, dreadful to think of, my young friend!" Mr. Gray remarked, in a sympathizing tone. "How wretched you must be!"

"Wretched? Alas! sit, you cannot imagine the horror of this dreadful moment. Surely I have been mad for the past few days! And enough has occurred to drive me mad."

"So I should think, John. But that is past now, and the future is still yours, and its bright page still unsullied by a single act of folly."

"But the past! The dreadful past! That can never be recalled—never be atoned for," Barclay replied, his countenance bearing the strongest expression of anguish and remorse. "To think of all I have lost To think how cruelly I have mocked the fondest hopes, and crushed the purest affections—perhaps broken a loving heart by my folly. O, sir! It will drive me mad!"

As the young man said this, he arose to his feet, and commenced pacing the room to and fro with agitated steps. Now striking his hands against his forehead, and now wringing them violently.

"Since that accursed hour," he resumed, after a few minutes thus spent, "when I madly tempted myself, under the belief that I had gained the mastery over a depraved appetite by an abstinence from all kinds of liquor for six months, I have but a dim recollection of events. I do, indeed, remember, with tolerable distinctness, that I went to claim the hand of Helen Weston, according to appointment. But from the moment I entered the house, all is to me confusion, or a dead blank. Tell me, then, Mr. Gray,"—and the young man's voice grew calmer,—"the effect of my miserable conduct upon her whom I loved purely and tenderly. Let me know all. I ask no disguise."

"The effect, John, has been painful, indeed. Since that dreadful night, she has remained in a state of partial delirium. But her physician told me, yesterday, that all of her symptoms had become more favourable."

"And how is her father, and friends?"

"Deeply incensed, of course, at your conduct."

"And my sister? How is Alice?"

"She keeps up with an effort. But oh, how wretched and broken-hearted she looks! Is it not dreadful, John, to think, how, by a single act of folly, you have lacerated the hearts that loved you most, and imposed upon them burdens of anguish, almost too heavy to be borne?"

"It is dreadful! dreadful! O, that I had died, before I became an accursed instrument of evil to those I love. But what can I do, Mr. Gray, to atone, in some degree, for the misery I have wrought?"

"You can do much, John, if you will."

"If I will, Mr. Gray?"

"Yes, John, if you will."

"There is nothing that I am not ready to do, Mr. Gray—even the cutting off of my right hand, could it be of any avail."

"You swore off, as I believe you called it, for six months, did you not?"

"Yes."

"Had you any desire to drink, during that time?"

"None."

"Sign a pledge of perpetual total-abstinence, and you are safe from all future temptations. Time will doubtless heal the present painful wounds."

"And make a slave of myself, Mr. Gray. Surely I ought to have power enough over myself to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, without binding myself down by a written contract."

"That is true; but, unfortunately, you have not that control over yourself. Your only safety, then, lies in the pledge. Take that, and you throw between yourself and danger an insurmountable barrier. You talk about freedom; and yet are a slave to the most debasing appetite. Get free from the influence of that eager, insatiable desire, and you are free, indeed. The perpetual total-abstinence pledge will be your declaration of independence. When that is taken, you. will be free, indeed. And until it is taken, rest assured, that none of your friends will again have confidence in you. For their sakes,—for your sister's sake, that peace may once more be restored to her troubled heart—for the sake of her, from whose lip you dashed the cup of joy, sign the pledge."

"I will sign it, Mr. Gray. But name not her whom I have so deeply wronged. I can never see Helen Weston again."

"Time heals many a wound, and closes many a breach my young friend."

"It can never heal that wound, nor close that breach," was the sad response. "But give me a pen and ink, and some paper; and let me write a pledge. I believe it is necessary for me to sign one."

The materials for writing were brought as desired, and Barclay wrote and subscribed a pledge of perpetual abstinence from all that could intoxicate.

"That danger is past," he said, with a lighter tone, as he arose from the table at which he had been writing. "I can never pass another such a week as that which has just elapsed."

"Now come down and take a good warm breakfast with me," Mr. Gray said, in a cheerful voice.

"Excuse me if you please," Barclay replied. "I cannot meet your family this morning, after what has occurred. Besides, I must see my sister as quickly as possible, and relieve, as far as lies in my power, her suffering heart."

"Go then, John Barclay," the old man said. "I will not, for Alice's sake, urge you to linger a moment."

It was still early when Mr. Barclay entered his own home. He found Alice sitting in the parlour so pale, haggard, and wretched, that her features hardly seemed like those of his own sister. She looked up into his face as he came in with a sad, doubting expression, while her lips trembled. One glance, however, told her heart that a change had taken place, and she sprang quickly towards him.

"Alice, my own dear sister!" he said, as her head sank upon his breast. "The struggle is over. I am free once more, and free for ever. I have just signed a pledge of total-abstinence from all that can intoxicate—a pledge that will remain perpetually in force."

"And may our Father in Heaven help you to keep it, John," the maiden murmured, in a low, fervent tone.

"I will die before it shall be violated," was the stern response.

One year from that time, another bridal party assembled at the residence of Mr. Weston. Helen long since recovered from the shock she had received, had again consented to be led to the altar, by John Barclay, whose life had been, since he signed the pledge, of the most unexceptionable character. Indeed, almost his only fault in former times had been a fondness for drinking, and gay company. Not much of boisterous mirth characterized the bridal party, for none felt like giving way to an exuberance of feeling,—but there was, notwithstanding few could draw a veil entirely over the past, a rational conviction that true and permanent happiness must, and would crown that marriage union. And thus far, it has followed it, and must continue to follow it, for John Barclay is a man of high-toned principle, and would as soon think of committing a highway robbery, as violating his pledge.



THE FAILING HOPE.



"SHALL I read to you, ma?" said Emma Martin, a little girl, eleven years of age, coming up to the side of her mother, who sat in a musing attitude by the centre-table, upon which the servant had just placed a light.

Mrs. Martin did not seem to hear the voice of her child; for she moved not, nor was there any change in the fixed, dreamy expression of her face.

"Ma," repeated the child, after waiting for a few moments, laying, at the same time, her head gently upon her mother's shoulder.

"What, dear?" Mrs. Martin asked, in a tender voice, rousing herself up.

"Shall I read to you, ma?" repeated the child.

"No—yes, dear, you may read for me"—the mother said, and her tones were low, with something mournful in their expression.

"What shall I read, ma?"

"Get the Bible, dear, and read to me from that good book," replied Mrs. Martin.

"I love to read in the Bible," Emma said, as she brought to the centre-table that sacred volume, and commenced turning over its pages. She then read chapter after chapter, while the mother listened in deep attention, often lifting her heart upwards, and breathing a silent prayer. At last Emma grew tired with reading, and closed the book.

"It is time for you to go to bed, dear," Mrs. Martin observed, as the little girl showed signs of weariness.

"Kiss me, ma," the child said, lifting her innocent face to that of her mother, and receiving the token of love she asked. Then, breathing her gentle,

"Good-night!" the affectionate girl glided off, and retired to her chamber.

"Dear child!" Mrs. Martin murmured, as Emma left the room. "My heart trembles when I think of you, and look into the dark and doubtful future!"

She then leaned her head upon her hand, and sat in deep, and evidently painful abstraction of mind. Thus she remained for a long time, until aroused by the clock which struck the hour of ten.

With a deep sigh she arose, and commenced pacing the room backwards and forwards, pausing every now and then to listen to the sound of approaching footsteps, and moving on again as the sound went by. Thus she continued to walk until nigh eleven o'clock, when some one drew near, paused at the street door, and then opening it, came along the passage with a firm and steady step.

Mrs. Martin stopped, trembling in spite of herself, before the parlour door, which a moment after was swung open. One glance at the face of the individual who entered, convinced her that her solicitude had been unnecessary.

"Oh, James!" she said, the tears gushing from her eyes, in spite of a strong effort to compose herself,—"I am so glad that you have come!"

"Why are you so agitated, Emma?" her husband said, in some surprise, looking inquiringly into Mrs. Martin's face.

"You staid out so late—and—you know I am foolish sometimes!" she replied, leaning her head down upon his shoulder, and continuing to weep.

A change instantly passed upon Mr. Martin's countenance, and he stood still, for some time, his face wearing a grave thoughtful expression, while his wife remained with her head leaning upon him. At last he drew his arm tenderly around her, and said—

"Emma, I am a sober man."

"Do not, dear James! speak of that. I am so happy now!"

"Yes, Emma, I will speak of it now." And as he said so, he gently seated her upon the sofa, and took his place beside her.

"Emma"—he resumed, looking her steadily in the face. "I have resolved never again to touch the accursed cup that has so well-nigh destroyed our peace for ever."

"Oh, James! What a mountain you have taken from my heart!" Mrs. Martin replied, the whole expression of her face changing as suddenly as a landscape upon which the sun shines from beneath an obscuring cloud. "I have had nothing to trouble me but that—yet that one trouble has seemed more than I could possibly bear."

"You shall have no more trouble, Emma. I have been for some months under a strange delusion, it has seemed. But I am now fully awake, and see the dangerous precipice upon which I have been standing. This night, I have solemnly resolved that I would drink no more spirituous liquors. Nothing stronger than wine shall again pass my lips."

"I cannot tell you how my heart is relieved," the wife said. "The whole of this evening I have been painfully oppressed with fear and dark forebodings. Our dear little girl is now at that age, when her future prospects interest me all the while. I think of them night and day. Shall they all be marred? I have asked myself often and often. But I could give my heart no certain answer. I need not tell you why."

"Give yourself no more anxiety on this point, Emma," her husband replied. "I will be a free man again. I will be to you and my dear child all that I have ever been."

"May our Heavenly Father aid you to keep that resolution," was the silent prayer that went up from the heart of Mrs. Martin.

The failing hope of. her bosom revived under this assurance. She felt again as in the early years of their wedded life, when hope and confidence, and tender affection were all in the bloom and vigour of their first developement. The light came back to her eye, and the smile to her lip.

It was about four months afterwards, that Mr. Martin was invited to make one of a small party, given to a literary man, as visiter from a neighbouring city.

"I shall not be home to dinner, Emma," he said, on leaving in the morning.

"Why not, James?" she asked.

"I am going to dine at four, with a select party of gentlemen."

Mrs. Martin did not reply, but a cloud passed over her face, in spite of an effort not to seem concerned.

"Don't be uneasy, Emma," her husband said, noting this change. "I shall touch nothing but wine. I know my weakness, and shall be on my guard."

"Do be watchful over yourself, for my sake, and for the sake of our own dear child," Mrs. Martin replied, laying her arm tenderly upon his shoulder.

"Have no fear, Emma," he said, and kissing the yet fair and beautiful cheek of his wife, Mr. Martin left the house.

How long, how very long did the day seem to Mrs. Martin! The usual hour for his return came and went, the dinner hardly tasted; and then his wife counted the hours as they passed lingeringly away, until the dim, grey twilight fell with a saddening influence around her.

"He will be home soon, now," she thought. But the minutes glided into hours, and still he did not come. The tea-table stood in the floor until nearly nine o'clock, before Mrs. Martin sat down with little Emma. But no food passed the mother's lips. She could not eat. There was a strange fear about her heart—a dread of coming evil, that chilled her feelings, and threw a dark cloud over her spirits.

In the meantime, Martin had gone to the dinner-party, firm in his resolution not to touch a drop of ardent spirits. But the taste of wine had inflamed his appetite, and he drank more and more freely, until he ceased to feel the power of his resolution, and again put brandy to his lips, and drank with the eagerness of a worn and thirsty traveller at a cooling brook. It was nine o'clock when the company arose, or rather attempted to arise from the table. Not all of them could accomplish that feat. Three, Martin among the rest, were carried off to bed, in a state of helpless intoxication.

Hour after hour passed away, the anxiety of Mrs. Martin increasing every moment, until the clock struck twelve.

"Why does he stay so late?" she said, rising and pacing the room backwards and forwards. This she continued to do, pausing every now and then to listen, for nearly an hour. Then she went to the door and looked long and anxiously in the direction from which she expected her husband to come. But his well-known form met not her eager eyes, that peered so intently into the darkness and gloom of the night. With another long-drawn sigh, she closed the door, and re-entered the silent and lonely room. That silence was broken by the loud and clear ringing of the clock. The hour was one! Mrs. Martin's feelings now became too much excited for her to control them. She sank into a chair, and wept in silent anguish of spirit. For nearly a quarter of an hour her tears continued to flow, and then a deep calm succeeded—a kind of mental stupor, that remained until she was startled again into distinct consciousness by the sound of the clock striking two.

All hope now faded from her bosom. Up to this time she had entertained a feeble expectation that her husband might be kept away from some other cause than the one she so dreaded; but now that prop became only as a broken reed, to pierce her with a keener anguish.

"It is all over!" she murmured bitterly, as she again arose, and commenced, walking to and fro with slow and measured steps.

It was fully three o'clock before that lonely, and almost heart-broken wife and mother retired to her chamber. How cruelly had the hope which had grown bright and buoyant in the last few months, gaining more strength and confidence every day, been again crushed to the earth!

For an hour longer did Mrs. Martin sit, listening in her chamber, everything around her so hushed into oppressive silence, that the troubled beating of her own heart, was distinctly audible. But she waited and listened in vain. The sound of passing footsteps that now came only at long, very long intervals, served but to arouse a momentary gleam in her mind, to fade away again, and leave it in deeper darkness.

Without disrobing, she now laid herself down, still listening, with an anxiety that grew more and more intense every moment. At last, over-wearied nature could bear up no longer, and she sunk into a troubled sleep. When she awoke from this, it was daylight. Oh, how weary and worn and wretched she felt! The consciousness of why she thus lay, with her clothes unremoved, the sad remembrance of her hours of waiting and watching through nearly the whole night, all came up before her with painful distinctness. Who but she who has suffered, can imagine her feelings at that bitter moment?

On descending to the parlour, she found her husband lying in a half-stupid condition on the sofa, the close air of the room impregnated with his breath—the sickening, disgusting breath of a drunken man! Bruised, crushed, paralyzed affection had now to lift itself up—the wife just ready to sink to the earth, powerless, under the weight of an overburdening affliction, had now to nerve herself under the impulse of duty.

"James! James!" she said, in a voice of assumed calmness—laying her hand upon him and endeavouring to arouse him to consciousness. But it was a long time before she could get him so fully awake as to make him understand that it was necessary for him to go up stairs and retire to bed. At length she succeeded in getting him into his chamber before the servants had come down; and then into bed. Once there, he fell off again into a profound sleep.

"Is pa sick?" asked little Emma, coming into her mother's chamber, about an hour after, and seeing her father in bed.

"Yes, dear, your father is quite unwell!" Mrs. Martin said, in a calm voice.

"What ails him, ma?" pursued the child.

"He is not very well, dear; but will be better soon," the mother said, evasively.

The little girl looked into her mother's face for a few moments unsatisfied with the answer, and unwilling to ask another question. She felt that something was wrong, more than the simple illness of her father.

It was near the middle of the day when Mr. Martin became fully awake and conscious of his condition. If he had sought forgetfulness of the past night's debauch and degradation, the sad, reproving face of his wife, pale and languid from anxiety and watching, would too quickly have restored the memory of his fall.

The very bitterness of his self-condemnation—the very keenness of wounded pride irritated his feelings, and made him feel gloomy and sullen. He felt deeply for his suffering wife—he wished most ardently to speak to her a word of comfort, but his pride kept him silent. At the dinner hour, he eat a few mouthfuls in silence, and then withdrew from the table and left the house to attend to his ordinary business. On his way to his office, he passed a hotel where he had been in the habit of drinking. He felt so wretched—so much in want of something to buoy up his depressed feelings, that he entered, and calling for some wine, drank two or three glasses. This, in a few minutes, had the desired effect, and he repaired to his office feeling like a new man.

During the afternoon, he drank wine frequently; and when he returned home in the evening, was a good deal under its influence; so much so, that all the reserve he had felt in the morning was gone. He spoke pleasantly and freely with his wife—talked of future schemes of pleasure and success. But, alas! his pleasant words fell upon her heart like sunshine upon ice. It was too painfully evident that he had again been drinking—and drinking to the extent of making him altogether unconscious of his true position. She would rather a thousand times have seen him overwhelmed by remorse. Then there would have been something for her hope to have leaned upon.

Day after day did Mr. Martin continue to resort to the wine-cup. Every morning he felt so wretched that existence seemed a burden to him, until his keen perceptions were blunted by wine. Then the appetite for something stronger would be stimulated, and draught after draught of brandy would follow, until when night came, he would return home to agonize the heart of his wife with a new pang, keener than any that had gone before.

Such a course of conduct could not be pursued without its becoming apparent to all in the house. Mrs. Martin had, therefore, added to the cup of sorrow, the mortification and pain of having the servants, and her child daily conscious of his degradation. Poor little Emma would shrink away instinctively from her father when he would return home in the evening and endeavour to lavish upon her his caresses. Sometimes Mr. Martin would get irritated at this.

"What are you sidling off in that way for, Emma?" he said, half-angrily, one evening, when he was more than usually under the influence of liquor, as Emma shrunk away from him on his coming in.

The little girl paused and looked frightened—glancing first at her mother, and then again, timidly, at her father.

"Come along here, I say," repeated the father, seating himself, and holding out his hands.

"Go, dear," Mrs. Martin said.

"I reckon she can come without you telling her to, madam!" her husband responded, angrily. "Come along, I tell you!" he added in a loud, excited tone, his face growing red with passion.

"There now! Why didn't you come when I first spoke. to you, ha?" he said, drawing the child towards him with a quick jerk, so soon as she came within reach of his extended hand. "Say. Why didn't you come Tell me! Aint I your father?"

"Yes, sir," was the timid reply.

"And havn't I taught you that you must obey me?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then why didn't you come, just now, when I called you?"

To this interrogation the little girl made no reply, but looked exceedingly frightened.

"Did you hear what I said?" pursued the father, in a louder voice.

"Yes, sir."

"Then answer me, this instant! Why didn't you come when I called you?"

"Because, I—I—I was afraid," was the timid, hesitating reply.

Something seemed to whisper to the father's mind a consciousness, that his appearance and conduct while under the influence of liquor, might be such as not only to frighten, but estrange his child's affection from him; and he seemed touched by the thought, for his manner changed, though he was still to a degree irrational.

"Go away, then, Emma! Take her away, mother," he said, in a tone which indicated that his feelings were touched. "She don't love her father any more, and don't care anything more about him," pushing at the same time the child away from him.

Poor little Emma burst into tears, and shrinking to the side of her mother, buried her face in the folds of her dress, sobbing as if her heart were breaking.

Mrs. Martin took her little girl by the hand and led her from the room, up to the chamber, and kissing her, told her to remain there until the servant brought her some supper, when she could go to bed.

"I don't want any supper, ma!" she said, still sobbing.

"Don't cry, dear," Mrs. Martin said, soothingly.

"Indeed, ma, I do love father," the child said—looking up earnestly into her mother's face, the tears still streaming over her cheeks. "Won't you tell him so?"

"Yes, Emma, I will tell him," the mother replied.

"And won't you ask him to come up and kiss me after I'm in bed?"

"Yes, dear."

"And will he come?"

"Oh, yes; he will come and kiss you."

Martin remained with her little girl until her feelings were quieted down, and then she descended with reluctant steps to the parlour. There was that in the scene which had just passed, that sobered, to a great extent, the half-intoxicated husband and father, and caused him to feel humbled and pained at his conduct; which it was too apparent was breaking the heart of his wife, and estranging the affection of his child.

When Mrs. Martin re-entered the parlour, she found him sitting near a table, with his head resting upon his hand, and his whole manner indicating a state of painful self-consciousness. With the instinctive perception of a woman, she saw the truth; and going at once up to him, she laid her hand upon him, and said:

"James—Emma wants you to come up and kiss her after she gets into bed. She says that she does love you, and she wished me to tell you so."

Mr. Martin did not reply. There was something calm, gentle, and affectionate, in the manner and tones of his wife—something that melted him completely down. A choking sob followed; when he arose hastily, and retired to his chamber. Mrs. Martin did not follow him thither. She saw that his own reflections were doing more for him than anything that she could do or say; and, therefore, she deemed it the part of wisdom to let his own reflections be his companion, and do their own work.

When Mr. Martin entered his chamber, he seated himself near the bed, and leaned his head down upon it. He was becoming more and more sobered every moment—more and more distinctly conscious of the true nature of the ground he occupied. Still his mind was a good deal confused, for the physical action of the stimulus he had taken through the day, had not yet subsided; although there was a strong mental counteracting cause in operation, which was gradually subduing the effect of his potations. As he sat thus, leaning his head upon his hand, and half-reclining upon the bed, a deep sigh, or half-suppressed sob, caught his ear. It came from the adjoining chamber. He remembered his child in an instant. His only child—whom he most fondly loved. He remembered, too, her conduct, but a short time before, and saw, with painful distinctness, that he was estranging from himself, and bringing sorrow upon one whose gentle nature had affected even his heart with feelings of peculiar tenderness.

"My dear child!" he murmured, as he arose to his feet, and went quietly into her room. She had already retired to bed, and lay with her head almost buried beneath the clothes, as if shrinking away with a sensation akin to fear. But she heard him enter, and instantly rose up, saying, as she saw him approach her bed—

"O, pa, indeed I do love you!"

"And I love you, my child," Mr. Martin responded, bending over her and kissing her forehead, cheeks, and lips, with an earnest fondness.

"And don't you love ma, too?" inquired Emma.

"Certainly I do, my dear! Why do you ask me?"

"Because I see her crying so often—almost every day. And she seems so troubled just before you come home, every evening. She didn't use to be so. A good while ago, she used to be always talking about when pa would be home; and used to dress me up every afternoon to see you. But now she never says anything about your coming home at night. Don't you know how we used to walk out and meet you sometimes? We never do it now!"

This innocent appeal was like an arrow piercing him with the most acute pain. He could not find words in which to fame a reply. Simply kissing her again, and bidding her a tender good-night, he turned away and left her chamber, feeling more wretched than he had ever felt in his life.

It was about twelve years since the wife of Mr. Martin had united her hopes and affections with his. At that time he was esteemed by all—a strictly temperate man, although he would drink with a friend, or at a convivial party, whenever circumstances led him to do so. From this kind of indulgence the appetite for liquor was formed. Two years after his marriage, Martin had become so fond of drinking, that he took from two to three glasses every day, regularly. Brandy at dinner-time was indispensable. The meal would have seemed to him wanting in a principal article without it. It was not until about five years after their marriage that Mrs. Martin was aroused to a distinct consciousness of danger. Her husband came home so much intoxicated as to be scarcely able to get up into his chamber. Then she remembered, but too vividly, the slow, but sure progress he had been making towards intemperance, during the past two or three years, and her heart sunk trembling in her bosom with a new and awful fear. It seemed as if she had suddenly awakened from a delusive dream of happiness and security, to find herself standing at the brink of a fearful precipice.

"What can I do? What shall I do?" were questions repeated over and over again; but, alas! she could find no answer upon which her troubled heart could repose with confidence. How could she approach her husband upon such a subject? She felt that she could not allude to it.

Month after month, and year after year, she watched with an anguish of spirit that paled her cheek, and stole away the brightness from her eye, the slow, but sure progress of the destroyer. Alas! how did hope fail—fail—fail, until it lived in her bosom but a faint, feeble, flickering ray. At last she ventured to remonstrate, and met with anger and repulse. When this subsided, and her husband began to reflect more deeply upon his course, he was humbled in spirit, and sought to heal the wound his conduct and his words had made. Then came promises of amendment, and Mrs. Martin fondly hoped all would be well again. The light again came back to her heart. But it did not long remain. Martin still permitted himself to indulge in wine, which soon excited the desire for stronger stimulants, and he again indulged, and again fell.

Ten times had he thus fallen, each time repenting, and each time restoring a degree of confidence to the heart of his wife, by promises of future abstinence. Gradually did hope continue to grow weaker and weaker, at each relapse, until it had nearly failed.

"There is no hope," she said to herself, mournfully, as she sat in deep thought, on the evening in which occurred the scene we have just described. "He has tried so often, and fallen again at every effort. There is no hope—no hope!"

It was an hour after Mr. Martin had retired to his chamber, that his wife went up softly, and first went into Emma's room. The child was asleep, and there was on her innocent face a quiet smile, as if pleasant images were resting upon her mind. A soft kiss was imprinted on her fair forehead, and then Mrs. Martin went into her own chamber. She found that her husband had retired to bed and was asleep.

But few hours of refreshing slumber visited the eyelids of the almost despairing wife. Towards morning, however, she sank away into a deep sleep. When she awoke from this, it was an hour after daylight. Her husband was up and dressed, and sat beside the bed, looking into her face with an expression of subdued, but calm and tender affection.

"Emma," he said, taking her hand, as soon as she was fairly awakened, "can you again have confidence in me, or has hope failed altogether?"

Mrs. Martin did not reply, but looked at her husband steadily and inquiringly.

"I understand you," he said, "you have almost, if not altogether ceased to hope. I do not wonder at it. If I had not so often mocked your generous confidence, I would again assure you that all will be well. I see that what I say does not make the warm blood bound to your face, as once it did. I will not use idle words to convince you. But one thing I will say. I have been, for sometime past, conscious, that it was dangerous for me to touch wine, or ale, or anything that stimulates, as they do. They only revive an appetite for stronger drinks, while they take away a measure of self-control. I have, therefore, most solemnly promised myself, that I will never again touch or taste any spirituous liquors, wine, malt, or cider. Nor will I again attend any convivial parties, where these things are used. Hereafter, I shall act upon the total-abstinence principle—for only in total-abstinence, is there safety for one like me."

There was something so solemn and earnest in the manner of her husband, that Mrs. Martin's drooping spirits began to revive. Again did her eye brighten, and her cheek kindle. Then came a gush of tears attesting the power of a new impulse. The failing hope was renewed!

And day after day, week after week, and month after month, did that hope strengthen and gain confidence. Years have passed, since that total-abstinence resolution was taken, and not once during the time has Martin been tempted to violate it. Yet, is he vividly conscious, that only in total-abstinence from everything that can intoxicate is there safety for him.



TAKING TOLL.



MR. SMITH kept a drug shop in the little village of Q—, which was situated a few miles from Lancaster. It was his custom to visit the latter place every week or two, in order to purchase such articles as were needed from time to time in his business. One day, he drove off towards Lancaster, in his wagon, in which, among other things, was a gallon demijohn. On reaching the town, he called first at a grocer's with the inquiry,

"Have you any common wine?"

"How common?" asked the grocer.

"About a dollar a gallon. I want it for antimonial wine."

"Yes; I have some just fit for that, and not much else, which I will sell at a dollar."

"Very well. Give me a gallon," said Mr. Smith. The demijohn was brought in from the wagon and filled. And then Mr. Smith drove off to attend to other business. Among the things to be done on that day, was to see a man who lived half a mile from Lancaster. Before going out on this errand, Mr. Smith stopped at the house of his particular friend, Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones happened not to be in, but Mrs. Jones was a pleasant woman, and he chatted with her for ten minutes, or so. As he stepped into his wagon, it struck him that the gallon demijohn was a little in his way, and so, lifting it out, he said to Mrs. Jones,

"I wish you would take care of this until I come back."

"O! certainly," replied Mrs. Jones, "with the greatest pleasure."

And so the demijohn was left in the lady's care.

Some time afterwards Mr. Jones came in, and among the first things that attracted his attention, was the strange demijohn.

"What is this?" was his natural inquiry.

"Something that Mr. Smith left."

"Mr. Smith from Q—?"

"Yes."

"I wonder what he has here?" said Mr. Jones, taking hold of the demijohn. "It feels heavy."

The cork was unhesitatingly removed, and the mouth of the vessel brought in contact with the smelling organ of Mr. Jones.

"Wine, as I live!" fell from his lips. "Bring me a glass."

"O! no, Mr. Jones. I wouldn't touch his wine," said Mrs. Jones.

"Bring me a glass. Do you think I'm going to let a gallon of wine pass my way without exacting toll? No—no! Bring me a glass."

The glass, a half-pint tumbler, was produced, and nearly filled with the execrable stuff—as guiltless of grape juice as a dyer's vat—which was poured down the throat of Mr. Jones.

"Pretty fair wine, that; only a little rough," said Mr. Jones, smacking his lips.

"It's a shame!" remarked Mrs. Jones, warmly, "for you to do so."

"I only took toll," said the husband, laughing. "No harm in that, I'm sure."

"Rather heavy toll, it strikes me," replied Mrs. Jones.

Meantime, Mr. Smith, having completed most of his business for that day, stopped at a store where he wished two or three articles put up. While these were in preparation he said to the keeper of the store,

"I wish you would let your lad Tom step over for me to Mr. Jones's. I left a demijohn of common wine there, which I bought for the purpose of making it into antimonial wine.

"O! certainly," replied the store-keeper. "Here, Tom!" and he called for his boy.

Tom came, and the store-keeper said to him,

"Run over to Mr. Jones's and get a jug of antimonial wine which Mr. Smith left there. Go quickly, for Mr. Smith is in a hurry."

"Yes, sir," replied the lad, and away he ran.

After Mr. Jones had disposed of his half a pint of wine, he thought his stomach had rather a curious sensation, which is not much to be wondered at, considering the stuff with which he had burdened it.

"I wonder if that really is wine?" said he, turning from the window at which he had seated himself, and taking up tie demijohn again. The cork was removed, and his nose applied to the mouth of the huge bottle.

"Yes, it's wine; but I'll vow it's not much to brag of." And the cork was once more replaced.

Just then came a knock at the door. Mrs. Jones opened it, and the store-keeper's lad appeared.

"Mr. Smith says, please let me have the jug of antimonial wine he left here."

"Antimonial wine!" exclaimed Mr. Jones, his chin falling, and a paleness instantly overspread his face.

"Yes, sir," said the lad.

"Antimonial wine!" fell again, but huskily, from the quivering lips of Mr. Jones. "Send for the doctor, Kitty, quick! Oh! How sick I feel! Send for the doctor, or I'll be a dead man in half an hour!"

"Antimonial wine! Dreadful!" exclaimed Mrs. Jones, now as pale and frightened as her husband. "Do you feel sick?"

"O! yes. As sick as death!" And the appearance of Mr. Jones by no means belied his words. "Send for the doctor instantly, or it may be too late."

Mrs. Jones ran first in one direction and then in another, and finally, after telling the boy to run for the doctor, called Jane, her single domestic, and started her on the same errand.

Off sprung Jane at a speed outstripping that of John Gilpin. Fortunately, the doctor was in his office, and he came with all the rapidity a proper regard to the dignity of his profession would permit, armed with a stomach pump and a dozen antidotes. On arriving at the house of Mr. Jones he found the sufferer lying upon a bed, ghastly pale, and retching terribly.

"O! doctor! I'm afraid it's all over with me!" gasped the patient.

"How did it happen? what have you taken?" inquired the doctor, eagerly.

"I took, by mistake, nearly a pint of antimonial wine."

"Then it must be removed instantly," said the doctor; and down the sick man's throat went one end of a long, flexible, India rubber tube, and pump! pump! pump! went the doctor's hand at the other end. The result was very palpable. About a pint of reddish fluid, strongly smelling of wine, came up, after which the instrument was withdrawn.

"There," said the doctor, "I guess that will do. Now let me give you an antidote." And a nauseous dose of something or other was mixed up and poured down, to take the place of what had just been removed.

"Do you feel any better now?" inquired the doctor, as he sat holding the pulse of the sick man, and scanning, with a professional eye, his pale face, that was covered with a clammy perspiration.

"A little," was the faint reply. "Do you think all danger is past?"

"Yes, I think so. The antidote I have given you will neutralize the effect of the drug, as far as it has passed into the system."

"I feel as weak as a rag," said the patient. "I am sure I could not bear my own weight. What a powerful effect it had!"

"Don't think of it," returned the doctor. "Compose yourself. There is now no danger to be apprehended whatever."

The wild flight of Jane through the street, and the hurried movements of the doctor, did not fail to attract attention. Inquiry followed, and it soon became noised about that Mr. Jones had taken poison.

Mr. Smith was just stepping into his wagon, when a man came up and said to him,

"Have you heard the news?"

"What news?"

"Mr. Jones has taken poison!"

"What?"

"Poison!"

"Who! Mr. Jones?"

"Yes. And they say he cannot live."

"Dreadful! I must see him." And without waiting for further information, Mr. Smith spoke to his horse and rode off at a gallop for the residence of his friend. Mrs. Jones met him at the door, looking very anxious.

"How is he?" inquired Mr. Smith, in a serious voice.

"A little better, I thank you. The doctor has taken it all out of his stomach. Will you walk up?"

Mr. Smith ascended to the chamber where lay Mr. Jones, looking as white as a sheet. The doctor was still by his side.

"Ah! my friend," said the sick man, in a feeble voice, as Mr. Smith took his hand, "that antimonial wine of yours has nearly been the death of me."

"What antimonial wine?" inquired Mr. Smith, not understanding his friend.

"The wine you left here in the gallon demijohn."

"That wasn't antimonial wine!"

"It was not?" fell from the lips of both Mr. and Mrs. Jones.

"Why, no! It was only wine that I had bought for the purpose of making antimonial wine."

Mr. Jones rose up in bed.

"Not antimonial wine?"

"No!"

"Why the boy said it was."

"Then he didn't know any thing about it. It was nothing but some common wine which I had bought."

Mr. Jones took a long breath. The doctor arose from the bedside, and Mr. Jones exclaimed,

"Well, I never!"

Then came a grave silence, in which one looked at the other, doubtingly.

"Good-day;" said the doctor, and went down stairs.

"So you have been drinking my wine, it seems," laughed Mr. Smith, as soon as the man with the stomach pump had retired.

"I only took a little toll," said Mr. Jones, back into whose pale face the color was beginning to come, and through whose almost paralyzed nerves was again flowing from the brain a healthy influence. "But don't say any thing about it! Don't for the world!"

"I won't, on one condition," said Mr. Smith, whose words were scarcely coherent, so strongly was he convulsed with laughter.

"What is that?"

"You must become a teetotaller."

"Can't do that," replied Mr. Jones.

"Give me a day or two to make up my mind."

"Very well. And now, good bye; the sun is nearly down, and it will be night before I get home."

And Mr. Smith shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. Jones and hurriedly retired, trying, but in vain, to leave the house in a grave and dignified manner. Long before Mr. Jones had made up his mind to join the teetotallers, the story of his taking toll was all over the town, and for the next two or three months he had his own time of it. After that, it became an old story.



"THOU ART THE MAN!"



"HOW can you reconcile it to your conscience to continue in your present business, Mr. Muddler?" asked a venerable clergyman of a tavern-keeper, as the two walked home from the funeral of a young man who had died suddenly.

"I find no difficulty on that score," replied the tavern-keeper, in a confident tone: "My business is as necessary to the public as that of any other man."

"That branch of it, which regards the comfort and accommodation of travellers, I will grant to be necessary. But there is another portion of it which, you must pardon me for saying, is not only uncalled for by the real wants of the community, but highly detrimental to health and good morals."

"And pray, Mr. Mildman, to what portion of my business do you allude?"

"I allude to that part of it which embraces the sale of intoxicating drinks."

"Indeed! the very best part of my business. But, certainly, you do not pretend to say that I am to be held accountable for the unavoidable excesses which sometimes grow out of the use of liquors as a beverage?"

"I certainly must say, that, in my opinions a very large share of the responsibility rests upon your shoulders. You not only make it a business to sell liquors, but you use every device in your power to induce men to come and drink them. You invent new compounds with new and attractive names, in order to induce the indifferent or the lovers of variety, to frequent your bar-room. In this way, you too often draw the weak into an excess of self-indulgence, that ends, alas! in drunkenness and final ruin of body and soul. You are not only responsible for all this, Mr. Muddler, but you bear the weight of a fearful responsibility!"

"I cannot see the subject in that light, Mr. Mildman," the tavern-keeper said, rather gravely. "Mine is an honest and honourable calling, and it is my duty to my family and to society, to follow it with diligence and a spirit of enterprise."

"May I ask you a plain question, Mr. Muddler?"

"Oh yes, certainly! as many as you please."

"Can that calling be an honest and honourable one which takes sustenance from the community, and gives back nothing in return?"

"I do not know that I understand the nature of your question, Mr. Mildman."

"Consider then society as a man in a larger form, as it really is. In this great body, as in the lesser body of man, there are various functions of use and a reciprocity between the whole. Each function receives a portion of life from the others, and gives back its own proper share for the good of the whole. The hand does not act for itself alone—receiving strength and selfishly appropriating it without returning its quota of good to the general system. And so of the heart, and lungs, and every other organ in the whole body. Reverse the order—and how soon is the entire system diseased! Now, does that member of the great body of the people act honestly and honourably, who regularly receives his portion of good from the general social system, and gives nothing back in return?"

To this the landlord made no reply, and Mr. Mildman continued—

"But there is still a stronger view to be taken. Suppose a member of the human body is diseased—a limb, for instance, in a partial state of mortification. Here there is a reception of life from the whole system into that limb, and a constant giving back of disease that gradually pervades the entire body; and, unless that body possesses extraordinary vital energy, in the end destroys it. In like manner, if in the larger body there be one member who takes his share of life from the whole, and gives back nothing but a poisonous principle, whose effect is disease and death, surely he cannot be called a good member—nor honest, nor honourable."

"And pray, Mr. Mildman," asked the tavern-keeper, with warmth, "where will you find, in society, such an individual as you describe?"

The minister paused at this question, and looked his companion steadily in the face. Then raising his long, thin finger to give force to his remark, he said with deep emphasis—

"Thou art the man!"

"Me, Mr. Mildman! me!" exclaimed the tavern-keeper, in surprise and displeasure. "You surely cannot be in earnest."

"I utter but a solemn truth, Mr. Muddler: such is your position in society! You receive food, and clothing, and comforts and luxuries of various kinds for yourself and family from the social body, and what do you give back for all these? A poison to steal away the health and happiness of that social body. You are far worse than a perfectly dead member—you exist upon the great body as a moral gangrene. Reflect calmly upon this subject. Go home, and in the silence of your own chamber, enter into unimpassioned and solemn communion with your heart. Be honest with yourself. Exclude the bias of selfish feelings and selfish interests, and honestly define to yourself your true position.'

"But, Mr. Mildman—"

The two men had paused nearly in front of Mr. Muddler's splendid establishment, and were standing there when the tavern-keeper commenced a reply to the minister's last remarks. He had uttered but the first word or two, when he was interrupted by a pale, thinly-dressed female, who held a little girl by the hand. She came up before him and looked him steadily in the face for a moment or two.

"Mr. Muddler, I believe," she said.

"Yes, madam, that is my name," was his reply.

"I have come, Mr. Muddler," the woman then said, with an effort to smile and affect a polite air, "to thank you for a present I received last night."

"Thank me, madam! There certainly must be some mistake. I never made you a present. Indeed, I have not the pleasure of your acquaintance."

"You said your name was Muddler, I believe?"

"Yes, madam, as I told you before, that is my name."

"Then you are the man. You made my little girl, here a present also, and we have both come with our thanks."

"You deal in riddles, madam, Speak out plainly."

"As I said before," the woman replied, with bitter irony in her tones, "I have come with my little girl to thank you for the present we received last night;—a present of wretchedness and abuse."

"I am still as far from understanding you as ever," the tavern-keeper said—I never abused you, madam. I do not even know you."

"But you know my husband, sir! You have enticed him to your bar, and for his money have given him a poison that has changed him from one of the best and kindest of men, into a demon. To you, then, I owe all the wretchedness I have suffered, and the brutal treatment I shared with my helpless children last night. It is for this that I have come to thank you."

"Surely, madam, you must be beside yourself. I have nothing to do with your husband."

"Nothing to do with him!" the woman exclaimed, in an excited tone. "Would to heaven that it were so! Before you opened your accursed gin palace, he was a sober man, and the best and kindest of husbands—but, enticed by you, your advertisement and display of fancy drinks, he was tempted within the charmed circle of your bar-room. From that moment began his downfall; and now he is lost to self-control—lost to feeling—lost to humanity!"

As the woman said this, she burst into tears, and then turned and walked slowly away.

"To that painful illustration of the truth of what I have said," the minister remarked, as the two stood once more alone, "I have nothing to add. May the lesson sink deep into your heart. Between you and that woman's husband existed a regular business transaction. Did it result in a mutual benefit? Answer that question to your own conscience."

How the tavern-keeper answered it, we know not. But if he received no benefit from the double lesson, we trust that others may; and in the hope that the practical truth we have endeavoured briefly to illustrate, will fall somewhere upon good ground, we cast it forth for the benefit of our fellow-men.



THE TOUCHING REPROOF.



"HERE, Jane," said a father to his little girl not over eleven years of age, "go over to the shop and buy me a pint of brandy."

At the same time he handed her a quarter of a dollar. The child took the money and the bottle, and as she did so, looked her father in the face with an earnest, sad expression. But he did not seem to observe it, although he perceived it, and felt it; for he understood its meaning. The little girl lingered, as if reluctant, from some reason, to go on her errand.

"Did you hear what I said?" the father asked, angrily, and with a frowning brow, as he observed this.

Jane glided from the room and went over to the shop, hiding, as she passed through the street, the bottle under her apron. There she obtained the liquor, and returned with it in a few minutes. As she reached the bottle to her father, she looked at him again with the same sad, earnest look, which he observed. It annoyed and angered him.

"What do you mean by looking at me in that way? Ha!" he said, in a loud, angry tone.

Jane shrunk away, and passed into the next room, where her mother lay sick. She had been sick for some time, and as they were poor, and her husband given to drink, she had sorrow and privation added to her bodily sufferings. As her little girl came in, she went up to the side of her bed, and, bending over it, leaned her head upon her hand. She did not make any remark, nor did her mother speak to her, until she observed the tears trickling through her fingers.

"What is the matter, my dear?" she then asked, tenderly.

The little girl raised her head, endeavouring to dry up her tears as she did so.

"I feel so bad, mother," she replied.

"And why do you feel bad, my child?"

"Oh, I always feel so bad when father sends me over to the shop for brandy; and I had to go just now. I wanted to ask him to buy you some nice grapes and oranges with the quarter of a dollar—they would taste so good to you—but he seemed to know what I was going to say, and looked at me so cross that I was afraid to speak. I wish he would not drink any more brandy. It makes him cross; and then how many nice things he might buy for you with the money it takes for liquor."

The poor mother had no words of comfort to offer her little girl, older in thought than in years; for no comfort did she herself feel in view of the circumstances that troubled her child. She only said—aying her hand upon the child's head—

"Try and not think about it, my dear; it only troubles you, and your trouble cannot make it any better."

But Jane could not help thinking about it, try as hard as she would. She went to a Sabbath school, in which a Temperance society had been formed, and every Sabbath she heard the subject of intemperance discussed, and its dreadful consequences detailed. But more than all this, she had the daily experience of a drunkard's child. In this experience, how much of heart-touching misery was involved!—how much of privation—how much of the anguish of a bruised spirit. Who can know the weight that lies, like a heavy burden, upon the heart of a drunkard's child! None but the child—for language is powerless to convey it.

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