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The Lights and Shadows of Real Life
by T.S. Arthur
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Thanksgiving, that day of days in New England, had come round again. Among the thousands by whom it was celebrated as a festive occasion, were the Martins, who resided in a village only a few miles from Boston. Old Mr. and Mrs. Martin had four children, two sons and two daughters. One of the daughters remained at home. Rachel, the oldest of the daughters, was in her twenty-third year; and Martha was nineteen. The former was married and lived in the village. Thomas, next older than Rachel, was also married. He resided ten miles away. The oldest of them all, William, was a wanderer; or, for ought they knew to the contrary, had long since passed to his great account. As many as five years had gone by since there had come from him any tidings; and nearly eight years since his place had been vacant at the Thanksgiving re-unions.

The day rose calm and bright on happy thousands. Perhaps no family in all New England would have experienced a purer delight on this occasion, than that of the Martins, had not the vacant place of an absent member reminded them of the wandering, it might be the lost. Thomas was there with his gentle wife and three bright children; Rachel with her husband and babe; and Martha with her sweet young face, that was hardly ever guiltless of a smile. But William was away; and the path in which he was treading, if he were yet alive, was hidden from their view by clouds and darkness.

Dinner, that chiefest event of every Thanksgiving day, was served immediately after the return of the family from church. It had been prepared by the hands of Martha, and she was in the act of taking an enormous turkey from the oven, when a man came to the door, and, without speaking a word, stood and looked at her attentively. She noticed him as she turned from the oven. He was a sad looking object for a New England village on Thanksgiving day. His eyes were sunken, his face thin and pale, and his old tattered garments hung loosely on his meager limbs. He looked like one just from a bed of sickness, and he bent, leaning upon a rough stick, like an old man yielding to the weight of years. Yet, poor and weak as he seemed, his clothes were clean, and his face had been recently shaven.

Struck with his appearance, Martha paused and looked at him earnestly.

"Will you let me rest here for a little while?" said the stranger, as soon as he had attracted Martha's attention.

"Oh! yes. Sit down," replied Martha, whose sympathies were instantly awakened by the man's appearance. And she handed him a chair.

Just then, Rachel, who had taken off her things on returning from church, came into the kitchen to assist Martha with the dinner. She merely glanced at the man; but he fixed upon her a most earnest look, and followed her about with his eyes as she moved from one part of the room to another.

"Martha!" called Mrs. Martin from the adjoining room. Neither of the sisters saw the start which the man gave, nor observed the quick flush that went over his face, as he turned his head in the direction from which the sound came.

Martha ran in to see what her mother wanted. In a little while she came back, and, as she entered the kitchen, she could not help remarking the strange earnestness with which the man looked at her.

Presently, Mrs. Martin herself came in. She was surprised at seeing the miserable looking object who had intruded himself upon them at a time that seemed so inopportune.

"Who is that, Martha?" she asked in a low voice, aside.

"I don't know," was answered in the same low tone—not so low, however, as to be inaudible to the quick ears of the stranger.

"What is he doing here?"

"He asked me if I would let him rest for a little while; and I couldn't say no."

"He looks sick; and he must be very poor."

"Yes, poor, indeed!" returned Mrs. Martin with a sigh; a thought of her own poor wanderer crossing her mind. This thought caused her to turn to the man and say to him,

"Have you been sick, my friend?"

The man who had been looking at her intently from the moment that she entered the room, now turned his face partly away as he replied—

"Yes. I've been sick for a number of days, but I am better now."

"You look very poor."

"I am poor—poor indeed!"

"You do not belong to these parts?"

"I do not deserve to," replied the man, low and evasively.

"Where do your friends live?"

"I don't know that I have any friends," said the man. There was a slight tremor in his voice, that thrilled, answeringly, a chord in the heart of his questioner.

"No friends!"

"There still live those who were once my friends."

"And why not your friends now?"

The man shook his head, sadly.

"I have proved myself unworthy, and, doubtless, they have long since cast me forth from their regard."

"Then you have no mother," said Mrs. Martin, quickly. "A mother's love cannot die."

"I have a mother, and I have sisters," replied the man, after a pause. "Feel kindly towards me for their sakes. I have wandered long; but I am repentant; and, now returning to my old home, I seek—"

The voice that had been low and unsteady at the beginning, sunk sobbing into silence, and the stranger's head drooped upon his bosom. At that moment, Mr. Martin entered, and seeing the man, he exclaimed—

"Who in the world is this?"

"William?" fell half joyfully, half in doubting inquiry, from the mother's lips.

"My mother!" ejaculated the stranger, starting forward, and falling into her open arms.

"William—William!" said Mr. Martin. "Oh! no! It cannot be!"

"It is! Yes! It is my poor, poor boy!" replied the mother, disengaging herself from his clasping arms, and pushing him off so that she could get a full view of his face. "Oh! William! My son! my son!" And again she hugged him wildly to her bosom.

How freely the tears of joy mingled on that happy Thanksgiving day, need not be told. There was no longer a vacant place at the board; and thought turned not away, doubtingly, in a vain search for the absent and the wandering. The long lost had been found; the straying member had come home. Theirs was, indeed, a Thanksgiving festival. Such joy as is felt in heaven over a sinner that repenteth, made glad the mother's heart that day. And it has been glad ever since, for, though Thanksgiving days have come again and again, there has been no absent member since William's return.



JIM BRADDOCK'S PLEDGE.



"YOU'LL sign it, I'm sure," said a persevering Washingtonian, who had found his way into a little village grogshop, and had there presented the pledge to some three or four of its half-intoxicated inmates. The last man whom he addressed, after having urged the others to no effect, was apparently about thirty years of age, and had a sparkling eye, and a good-humoured countenance, that attracted rather than repelled. The marks of the destroyer were, however, upon him, showing themselves with melancholy distinctness.

"You'll sign, I'm sure, Jim."

"O, of course," replied the individual addressed, winking, as he did so to the company, as much as to say—"Don't you want to see fun?"

"Yes, but you will, I know?"

"Of course I will. Where's the document?"

"Here it is,"—displaying a sheet of paper with sundry appropriate devices, upon which was printed in conspicuous letters,

"We whose names—," &c.

"That's very pretty, aint it, Ike?" said Jim, or James Braddock, with a mock seriousness of tone and manner.

"O, yes—very beautiful."

"Just see here," ran on Jim, pointing to the vignette over the pledge.—"This spruce chap, swelled out with cold-water until just ready to burst, and still pouring in more, is our friend Malcom here, I suppose."

A loud laugh followed this little hit, which seemed to the company exceedingly humorous. But Malcom took it all in good part, and retorted by asking Braddock who the wretched looking creature was with a bottle in his hand, and three ragged children, and a pale, haggard, distressed woman, following after him.

"Another cold-water man, I suppose, "Jim Braddock replied; but neither his laugh nor the laugh of his cronies was so hearty as before.

"O, no. That's a little mistake into which you have fallen, "Malcom said, smiling. "He is one of your firewater men. Don't you see how he has been scorched with it, inside and out. Now, did you ever see such a miserable looking creature? And his poor children—and his wife! But I will say nothing about them. The picture speaks for itself."

"Here's a barrel, mount him up, and let us have a temperance speech!" cried the keeper of the grog-shop, coming from behind his counter, and mingling with the group.

"O, yes.—Give us a temperance speech!" rejoined Jim Braddock, not at all sorry to get a good excuse for giving up his examination of the pledge, which had revived in his mind some associations of not the pleasantest character in the world.

"No objection at all," replied the ready Washingtonian, mounting the rostrum which the tavern-keeper had indicated, to the no small amusement of the company, and the great relief of Jim Braddock, who began to feel that the laugh was getting on the wrong side of his mouth, as he afterwards expressed it.

"Now for some rare fun!" ejaculated one of the group that gathered around the whiskey-barrel upon which Malcom stood.

"This is grand sport!" broke in another.

"Take your text, Mr. Preacher!" cried a third.

"O yes, give us a text and a regular-built sermon!" added a fourth, rubbing his hands with great glee.

"Very well," Malcom replied, with good humour. "Now for the text."

"Yes, give us the text," ran around the circle.

"My text will be found in Harry Arnold's grog-shop, Main street, three doors from the corner. It is in these words:—'Whiskey-barrel.' Upon this text I will now, with your permission, make a few remarks."

Then holding up his pledge and laying his finger upon the wretched being there represented as the follower after strong drink, he went on—

"You all see this poor creature here, and his wife and children—well, as my text and his fall from happiness and respectability are inseparably united, I will, instead of giving you a dry discourse on an empty whiskey-barrel, narrate this man's history, which involves the whiskey-barrel, and describes how it became empty, and finally how it came here. I will call him James Bradly—but take notice, that I call him a little out of his true name, so as not to seem personal.

"Well, this James Bradly was a house-carpenter—I say was—for although still living, he is no longer an industrious house-carpenter, but a very industrious grog-drinker,—he has changed his occupation. About five years ago, I went to his house on some business. It was about dinner-time, and the table was set, and the dinner on it.

"'Come, take some dinner with me,' Mr. Bradly said, in such a kind earnest way, that I could not resist, especially as his wife looked so happy and smiling, and the dinner so neatly served, plentiful and inviting. So I sat down with Mr. and Mrs. Bradly, and two fat, chubby-faced children; and I do not think I ever enjoyed so pleasant a meal in my life.

"After dinner was over, Mr. Bradly took me all through his house, which was new. He had just built it, and furnished it with every convenience that a man in mode. rate circumstances could desire. I was pleased with everything I saw, and praised everything with a hearty good will. At last he took me down into the cellar, and showed me a barrel of flour that he had just bought—twenty bushels of potatoes and turnips laid in for the winter, five large fat hogs, and I can't remember what all. Beside these, there was a barrel of something lying upon the cellar floor.

"'What is this?' I asked.

"'O, that is a barrel of whiskey that I have laid in also.'

"'A barrel of whiskey!' I said, in surprise.

"'Yes. I did some work for Harry Arnold, and the best I could do was to take this barrel of good old 'rye' in payment. But it is just as well. It will be a saving in the end.'

"'How so?' I asked.

"'Why, because there are more than twice as many drams in this barrel of whiskey, as I could get for what I paid for it. Of course, I save more than half.'

"'But have you taken into your calculation the fact, that, in consequence of having a barrel of whiskey so handy, you will drink about two glasses to one that you would want if you had to go down to Harry Arnold's for it every time!'

"'O yes, I have,' Bradly replied. 'But still I calculate on it being a saving, from the fact that I shall not lose so much time as I otherwise would do. A great deal of time, you know, is wasted in these dram-shops.'

"'All true. But have you never considered the danger arising from the habitual free use of liquor—such a free use as the constant sight of a whole barrel of whiskey may induce you to make?'

"'Danger!' ejaculated Mr. Bradly in surprise.

"'Yes, danger,' I repeated.

"'Of what?' he asked.

"'Of becoming too fond of liquor,' I replied.

"'I hope you do not wish to insult me in my own house, Mr. Malcom,' the carpenter said, rather sternly.

"'O no,' I replied. 'Of course I do not. I only took the liberty that a friend feels entitled to use, to hint at what seemed to me a danger that you might be running into blindly.'

"Mrs. Bradly, who had gone through the house with us, enjoying my admiration of all their comfortable arrangements, seemed to dwell with particular interest on what I said in reference to the whiskey-barrel. She was now leaning affectionately upon her husband's arm—her own drawn through his, and her hands clasped together—looking up into his face with a tender and confiding regard. I could not help noticing her manner, and the expression of her countenance. And yet it seemed to me that something of concern was on her face, but so indistinct as to be scarcely visible. Of this I was satisfied, when she said,

"'I don't think there is much use in drinking liquor, do you, Mr. Malcom?'

"'I cannot see that there is,' I replied, of course.

"'Nor can I. Of one thing I think I am certain, and that is, that James would be just as comfortable and happy without it as with it.'

"'You don't know what you are talking about, Sally,' her husband replied good-humouredly, for he was a man of excellent temper, and a little given to jesting. 'But I suppose you thought it good for you last christmas, when you got boozy on egg-nog.'

"'O James, how can you talk so!' his wife exclaimed, her face reddening. 'You know that you served me a shameful trick then.'

"'What do you think he did, Mr. Malcom?' she added, turning to me, while her husband laughed heartily at what she said. 'He begged me to let him make me a little wine egg-nog, seeing that I wouldn't touch that which had brandy in it, because liquor always flies to my head. To please him, I consented, though I didn't want it. And then, the rogue fixed me a glass as strong again with brandy as that which I had refused to take. I thought while I was drinking it, that it did not taste like wine, and told him so. But he declared that it was wine, and that it was so sweet that I could not clearly perceive its flavour. Of course I had to go to bed, and didn't get fairly over it for two or three days. Now, wasn't that too bad, Mr. Malcom!'

"'Indeed it was, Mrs. Bradly,' I said in reply.

"'It was a capital joke, though, wasn't it?' rejoined her husband, laughing immoderately.

"'I'll tell you a good way to retort on him,' I said, jestingly.

"'How is that, Mr. Malcom?'

"Pull the tap out of his whiskey-barrel.'

"'I would, if I dared.'

"'She'd better not try that, I can tell her.'

"'What would you do, if I did?' she asked.

"'Buy two more in its place, and make you drink one of them.'

"'O dear! I must beg to be excused from that. But, indeed, James, I wish you would let it run. I'm really ashamed to have it said, that my husband keeps a barrel of whiskey in the house.'

"'Nonsense, Sally! you don't know what you are talking about.'

"'Well, perhaps I don't,' the wife said, and remained silent, for there was a half-concealed rebuke in her husband's tone of voice.

"I saw that I could say no more about the whiskey-barrel, and so I dropped the subject, and, in a short time, after having finished my business with Mr. Bradly, went away.

"'Well, how comes on the whiskey-barrel?' I said to him, about a month after, as we met on the road.

"'First-rate,' was his reply. 'It contains a prime article of good old 'rye,' I can tell you. The best I have ever tasted. Come, won't you go home with me and try some?'

"'No, I believe not.'"

"'Do now—come along,' and he took me by the button, and pulled me gently. 'You don't know how fine it is. I am sure there is not another barrel like it in the town.'

"'You must really excuse me, Bradly,' I replied, for I found that he was in earnest, and what was more, had a watery look about the eyes, that argued badly for him, I thought.

"'Well, if you won't, you won't,' he said. 'But you always were an unsocial kind of a fellow.'

"And so we parted. Six months had not passed before it was rumoured through the neighbourhood, that Bradly had begun to neglect his business; and that he spent too much of his time at Harry Arnold's. I met his wife one day, about this time, and, really, her distressed look gave me the heart ache. Something is wrong, certainly, I said to myself. It was only a week after, that I met poor Bradly intoxicated.

"'Ah, Malcom—good day—How are you?' he said, reeling up to me and offering his hand.—'You havn't tried that good old rye of mine yet. Come along now, it's most gone.'

"'You must excuse me today, Mr. Bradly,' I replied, trying to pass on.

"But he said I should not get off this time—that home with him I must go, and take a dram from his whiskey-barrel. Of course, I did not go. If there had been no other reason, I had no desire, I can assure you, to meet his wife while her husband was in so sad a condition. After awhile I got rid of him, and right glad was I to do so."

"Come, that'll do for one day!" broke in Harry Arnold, the grog-shop-keeper, at this point, not relishing too well the allusions to himself, nor, indeed, the drift of the narrative, which he very well understood.

"No—no—go on! go on!" urged two or three of the group. But Jim Braddock said nothing, though he looked very thoughtful.

"I'll soon get through," replied the Washingtonian, showing no inclination to abandon his text. "You see, I did not, of course, go home with poor Bradly, and he left me with a drunken, half-angry malediction. That night he went down into his cellar, late, to draw some whiskey, and forgot his candle, which had been so carelessly set down, that it set fire to a shelf, and before it was discovered the fire had burned through the floor above.

"Nearly all their furniture was saved, whiskey-barrel and all, but the house was burned to the ground. Since that time, Bradly will tell you that luck has been against him. He has been going down, down, down, every year, and now does scarcely anything but lounge about Harry Arnold's grog-shop and drink, while his poor wife and children are in want and suffering, and have a most wretched look, as you may see by this picture on the pledge. As for the whiskey-barrel, that was rolled down here about a month ago, and sold for half a dollar's worth of liquor, and here I now stand upon it, and make it the foundation of a temperance speech.

"Now, let me ask you all seriously, if you do not think that James Bradly owes his rapid downfall, in a great measure, to the fact that Harry Arnold would not pay him a just debt in anything but whiskey? And against Harry Arnold really your friend, that you are so willing to beggar your wives and children to put money in his till? I only ask the questions. You can answer then at your leisure. So ends my speech."

"You are an insulting fellow, let me tell you!" the grog-shop-keeper said, as he turned away, angrily, and went behind his counter.

The Washingtonian took no notice of this, but went to Jim Braddock, who stood in a musing attitude near the door, and said—

"You will sign now, won't you, Jim?"

"No, I will not!" was his gruff response.

"I am not going to sign away my liberty for you or anybody else. So long as I live, I'll be a free man."

"That's right, Jim! Huzza for liberty!" shouted his companions.

"Yes, huzza for liberty! say I," responded Braddock, in the effort to rally himself, and shake off the thoughts and feelings that. Malcom's narrative had conjured up a narrative that proved to be too true a history of his own downfall.

"It was a shame for you to do what you did down at Harry Arnold's," Braddock said to the Washingtonian about half an hour afterwards, meeting him on the street.

"Do what, Jim!"

"Why, rake up all my past history as you did, and insult Harry in his own house into the bargain."

"How did I insult Harry Arnold?"

"By telling about that confounded whiskey-barrel that I have wished a hundred times had been in the bottom of the sea, before it ever fell into my hands."

"I told the truth, didn't I?"

"O yes—it was all true enough, and a great deal too true."

"He owed you a bill?"

"Yes."

"And you wanted your money?"

"Yes."

"But Harry wouldn't pay you in anything but whiskey?"

"No, he would not."

"And so you took a barrel of whiskey, that you did not want, in payment?"

"I did."

"But would much rather have had the money?"

"Of course, I would."

"And yet, you are so exceedingly tender of Harry Arnold's feelings, notwithstanding his agency in your ruin, that you would not have him reminded of his original baseness—or rather his dishonesty in not paying you in money, according to your understanding with him, for your work?"

"I don't see any use in raking up these old things."

"The use is, to enable you to see your folly so clearly as to cause you to abandon it. I am sure you not only see it now, but feel it strongly."

"Well, suppose I do?—what then?"

"Why, sign the pledge, and become a sober man."

"I've made up my mind never to sign a pledge," was the emphatic answer.

"Why?"

"Because, I am determined to live and die a free man. I'll never sign away my liberty. My father was a free man before me, and I will live and die a free man!"

"But you're a slave now."

"It is not true! I am free.—Free to drink, or free to et it alone, as I choose."

"You are mistaken, Jim. You have sold yourself into slavery, and the marks of the chains that still bind you, are upon your body. You are the slave of a vile passion that is too strong for your reason."

"I deny it. I can quit drinking if I choose."

"Then why don't you quit?"

"Because I love to drink."

"And love to see your wife's cheek growing paler and paler every day—and your children ragged and neglected?"

"Malcom!"

"I only asked the question, Jim."

"But you know that I don't love to see them in the condition they are."

"And still, you say that you can quit drinking whenever you choose, but will not do so, because you love the taste, or the effect of the liquor, I don't know which?"

Braddock's feelings were a good deal touched, as they had been, ever since Malcom's temperance speech in the grog-shop. He stood silent for some time, and then said—

"I know it's too bad for me to drink as I do, but I will break off."

"You had better sign the pledge then."

"No, I will not do that. As I have told you, I am resolved never to sign away my liberty."

"Very well. If you are fixed in your resolution, I suppose it is useless for me to urge the matter. For the sake, then, of your wife and children, break away from the fetters that bind you, and be really free. Now you are not only a slave, but a slave in the most debasing bondage."

The two then separated, and Jim Braddock—in former years it was Mr. Braddock—returned to his house; a very cheerless place, to what it had once been. Notwithstanding his abandonment of himself to drink and idleness, Braddock had no ill-nature about him. Though he neglected his family, he was not quarrelsome at home. she might, and talked hard to him, he never retorted, but always turned the matter off with a laugh or a jest. With his children, he was always cheerful, and frequently joined in their sports, when not too drunk to do so. All this cool indifference, as it seemed to her, frequently irritated his wife, and made her scold away at him with might and main. He had but one reply to make whenever this occurred, and that was—

"There—there—Keep cool, Sally! It will all go in your lifetime, darling!"

As he came into the house after the not very pleasant occurrence that had taken place at Harry Arnold's, he saw by Sally's excited face and sparkling eyes that something was wrong.

"What's the matter, Sally?" he asked.

"Don't ask me what's the matter, if you please!" was her tart reply.

"Yes, but I want to know? Something is wrong."

"Something is always wrong, of course," Sally rejoined—"and something always will be wrong while you act as you do: It's a burning shame for any man to abuse his family as you are abusing yours. Jim—"

"There—there. Keep cool, Sally! It will all go in your lifetime, darling!" Jim responded, in a mild, soothing tone.

"O yes:—It's very easy to say 'keep cool!' But I'm tired of this everlasting 'keep cool!' Quit drinking and go to work, and then it'll be time to talk about keeping cool. Here I've been all the morning scraping up chips to make the fire burn. Not a stick in the wood-pile, and you lazing it down to Harry Arnold's. I wish to goodness he was hung! It's too bad! I'm out of all manner of patience!"

"There—there. Keep cool, Sally! It'll all go—"

"Hush, will you!" ejaculated Sally, stamping her foot, all patience having left her over-tried spirit. "Keep away from Harry Arnold's! Quit drinking, and then it'll be time for you to talk to me about keeping cool!"

"I'm going to quit, Sally," Jim replied, altogether unexcited by her words and manner.

"Nonsense!" rejoined Sally. "You've said that fifty times."

"But I'm going to do it now."

"Have you signed the pledge?"

"No. I'm not going to sign away my liberty, as I have often said. But I'm going to quit."

"Fiddle-de-de! Sign away your liberty! You've got no liberty to sign away! A slave, and talk of liberty!"

"Look here, Sally," her husband said, good-humouredly, for nothing that she could say ever made him get angry with her—"you're a hard-mouthed animal, and it would take a strong hand to hold you in. But as I like to see you go at full gallop, darling, I never draw a tight rein. Aint you most out of breath yet?"

"You're a fool, Jim!"

"There's many a true word spoken in jest, Sally," her husband responded in a more serious tone; "I have been a most egregious fool—but I'm going to try and act the wise man, if I havn't forgotten how. So now, as little Vic. said to her mother—

'Pray, Goody, cease and moderate The rancour of your tongue.'"

Suddenly his wife felt that he was really in earnest, and all her angry feelings subsided—

"O James!" she said—"if you would only be as you once were, how happy we might all again be!"

"I know that, Sally. And I'm going to try hard to be as I once was. There's a little job to be done over at Jones', and I promised him that I would do it for him today. but I got down to Harry Arnold's, and there wasted my time until I was ashamed to begin a day's work. But to-morrow morning I'll go over, and stick at it until it's done. It'll be cash down, and you shall have every cent it comes to, my old girl!" patting his wife on the cheek as he said so.

Mrs. Braddock, of course, felt a rekindling of hope in her bosom. Many times before had her husband promised amendment, and as often had he disappointed her fond expectations. But still she suffered her heart to hope again.

On the next morning, James Braddock found an early breakfast ready for him when he got up. His hand trembled a good deal as he lifted his cup of coffee to his lips, which was insipid without the usual morning-dram to put a taste in his mouth. He did not say much, for he felt an almost intolerable craving for liquor, and this made him serious. But his resolution was strong to abandon his former habits.

"You won't forget, James?" his wife said, laying her hand upon his arm, and looking him earnestly and with moistened eyes in the face, as he was about leaving the house.

"No, Sally, I won't forget. Take heart, my good girl. Let what's past go for nothing. It's all in our lifetime."

And so saying, Braddock turned away, and strode off with a resolute bearing. His wife followed with her eyes the form of her husband until it was out of sight, and then closed the door with a long-drawn sigh.

The way to Mr. Jones' house was past Arnold's grogshop, and as Braddock drew nearer and nearer to his accustomed haunt, he felt a desire, growing stronger and stronger every moment, to enter and join his old associates over a glass of liquor. To this desire, he opposed every rational objection that he could find. He brought up before his mind his suffering wife and neglected children, and thought of his duty to them. He remembered that it was drink, and drink alone, that had been the cause of his downfall. But with all these auxiliaries to aid him in keeping his resolution, it seemed weak when opposed to desires, which long continued indulgence had rendered inordinate. Onward he went with a steady pace, fortifying his mind all the while with arguments against drinking, and yet just ready at every moment to yield the contest he was waging against habit and desire. At last the grog-shop was in sight, and in a few minutes he was almost at the door.

"Hurrah! Here's Jim Braddock, bright and early!" cried one of his old cronies, from among two or three who were standing in front of the shop.

"So the cold-water-men havn't got you yet!" broke in another. "I thought Jim Braddock was made of better stuff."

"Old birds aint caught with chaff!" added a third.

"Come! Hallo! Where are you off to in such a hurry, with your tools on your back?" quickly cried the first speaker, seeing that Braddock was going by without showing any disposition to stop.

"I've got a job to do that's in a hurry," replied Braddock, pausing—"and have no time to stop. And besides, I've sworn off."

"Sworn off! Ha! ha! Have you taken the pledge?"

"No, I have not. I'm not going to bind myself down not to drink any thing. I'll be a free man. But I won't touch another drop, see if I do."

"O yes—we'll see. How long do you expect to keep sober?"

"Always."

"You'll be drunk by night."

"Why do you say so?"

"I say so—that's all; and I know so."

"But why do you say so? Come, tell me that."

"O, I've seen too many swear off in my time—and I've tried it too often myself. It's no use. Not over one in a hundred ever sticks to it; and I'm sure, Jim Braddock's not that exception."

"There are said to be a hundred reformed men in this town now. I am sure, I know a dozen," Braddock replied.

"O yes. But they've signed the pledge."

"Nonsense! I don't believe a man can keep sober any the better by signing the pledge, than by resolving never again to drink a drop."

"Facts are stubborn things, you know. But come, Jim, as you havn't signed the pledge, you might as well come in and take a glass now, for you'll do it before night, take my word for it."

It was a fact, that Braddock began really to debate the question with himself, whether he should or not go in and take a single glass, when he became suddenly conscious of his danger, turned away, and hurried on, followed by the loud, jeering laugh of his old boon companions.

"Up-hill work," he muttered to himself, as he strode onward.

An hour's brisk walking brought him to the residence of Mr. Jones, nearly four miles away from the little town in which he lived, where he entered upon his day's work, resolved that, henceforth, he would be a reformed man. At first he was nervous, from want of his accustomed stimulus, and handled his tools awkwardly. But after awhile, as the blood began to circulate more freely, the tone of his system came up to a healthier action.

About eleven o'clock Mr. Jones came out to the building upon which Braddock was at work, and after chatting a little, said—

"This is grog time, aint it, Jim?"

"Yes sir, I believe it is," was the reply.

"Well, knock off then for a little while, and come into the house and take a dram."

Now Mr. Jones was a very moderate drinker himself, scarcely touching liquor for weeks at a time, unless in company. But he always kept it in the house, and always gave it to his workmen, as a matter of course, at eleven o'clock. Had he been aware of Braddock's effort to reform himself, he would as soon have thought of offering him poison to drink as whiskey. But, knowing his habits, he concluded, naturally, that the grog was indispensable, and tendered it to him as he had always done before, on like occasions.

"I've signed the pledge," were the words that instantly formed themselves in the mind of Braddock—but were instantly set aside, as that reason for not drinking would not have been the true one. Could he have said that, all difficulty would have vanished in a moment.

"No objection, Mr. Jones," was then uttered, and off he started for the house, resolutely keeping down every reason that struggled in his mind to rise and be heard.

The image of Mr. Jones, standing before him, with a smiling invitation to come and take a glass, backed by his own instantly aroused inclinations, had been too strong an inducement. He felt, too, that it would have been rudeness to decline the proffered hospitality.

"That's not bad to take, Mr. Jones," he said, smacking his lips, after turning off a stiff glass.

"No, it is not, Jim. That's as fine an article of whiskey as I've ever seen," Mr. Jones replied, a little flattered at Braddock's approval of his liquor. "You're a good judge of such matters."

"I ought to be." And as Jim said this, he turned out another glass.

"That's right—help yourself," was Mr. Jones' encouraging remark, as he saw this.

"I never was backward at that, you know, Mr. Jones." After eating a cracker and a piece of cheese, and taking a third drink, Braddock went back and resumed his work, feeling quite happy.

After dinner Mr. Jones handed him the bottle again, and did the same when he knocked off in the evening. Of course, he was very far from being sober when he started for home. As he came into town, his way was past Harry Arnold's, whose shop he entered, and was received with a round of applause by his old associates, who saw at a glance that Jim was "a little disguised." Their jokes were all received in good part, and parried by treating all around.

When her husband left in the morning, Mrs. Braddock's heart was lightened with a new hope, although a fear was blended with that hope, causing them both to tremble in alternate preponderance in her bosom. Still, hope would gain the ascendency, and affected her spirits with a degree of cheerfulness unfelt for many months. As the day began to decline towards evening, after putting everything about the house in order, she took her three children, washed them clean, and dressed them up as neatly as their worn and faded clothes would permit. This was in order to make home present the most agreeable appearance possible to her husband when he returned. Then she killed a chicken and dressed it, ready to broil for his supper—made up a nice short-cake, and set the table with a clean, white table-cloth. About sundown, she commenced baking the cake, and cooking the chicken, and at dusk had them all ready to put on the table the moment he came in.

Your father is late," she remarked to one of the children, after sitting in a musing attitude for about five minutes, after everything was done that she could do towards getting supper ready. As she said this, she got up and went to the door and looked long and intently down the street in the direction that she expected him, calling each distant, dim figure, obscured by the deepening twilight, his, until a nearer approach dispelled the illusion. Each disappointment like this, caused her feelings to grow sadder and sadder, until at length, as evening subsided into night, with its veil of thick darkness, she turned into the house with a heavy oppressive sigh, and rejoined the children who were impatient for their supper.

"Wait a little while," was her reply to their importunities. "Father will soon be here now."

She was still anxious that their father should see their improved appearance.

"O no"—urged one. "We want our supper now."

"O yes. Give us our supper now. I'm so sleepy and hungry," whined another.

And to give force to these, the youngest began to fret and cry. Mrs. Braddock could delay no longer, and so she set them up to the table and gave them as much as they could eat. Then she undressed each in turn, and in a little while, they were fast asleep.

When all was quiet, and the mother sat down to wait for her husband's return, a feeling of deep despondency came over her mind. It had been dark for an hour, and yet he had not come home. She could imagine no reason for this, other than the one that had kept him out so often before—drinking and company. Thus she continued to sit, hour after hour, the supper untasted. Usually, her evenings were spent in some kind of work—in mending her children's clothes, or knitting them stockings. But now she had no heart to do anything. The state of gloomy uncertainty that she was in, broke down her spirits, for the time being.

Bedtime came; and still Braddock was away. She waited an hour later than usual, and then retired, sinking back upon her pillow as she did so, in a state of hopeless exhaustion of mind and body.

In the meantime, her husband had spent a merry evening at Harry Arnold's, drinking with more than his accustomed freedom. He was the last to go home, the thought of meeting his deceived and injured wife, causing him to linger. When he did leave, it was past eleven o'clock. Though more than half-intoxicated on going from the grog-shop, the cool night air, and the thought of Sally, sobered him considerably before he got home. Arrived there, he paused with his hand on the door for some time, reluctant to enter. At last he opened the door, and went quietly in, in the hope of getting up to bed without his wife's discovering his condition. The third step into the room brought his foot in contact with a chair, and over he went, jarring the whole house with his fall. His wife heard this—indeed her quick ear had detected the opening of the door—and it caused her heart to sink like a heavy weight in her bosom.

Gathering himself up, Braddock moved forward again as steadily as he could, both hands extended before him. A smart blow upon the nose from an open door, that had insinuated itself between his hands, brought him up again, and caused him, involuntarily, to dash aside the door which shut with a heavy slam. Pausing now, to recall his bewildered senses, he resolved to move forward with more caution, and so succeeded in gaining the stairs, up which he went, his feet, softly as he tried to put them down, falling like heavy lumps of lead, and making the house echo again. He felt strongly inclined to grumble about all the lights being put out, as he came into the chamber—but a distinct consciousness that he had no right to grumble, kept him quiet, and so he undressed himself with as little noise as possible,—which was no very small portion, for at almost every moment he stept on something, or ran against something that seemed endowed for the time with sonorous power of double the ordinary capacity,—and crept softly into bed.

Mrs. Braddock said nothing, and he said nothing. But long before her eyelids closed in sleep, he was loudly snoring by her side. When he awoke in the morning, Sally had arisen and gone down. A burning thirst caused him to get up immediately and dress himself. There was no water in the room, and if there had been, he could not have touched it while there was to be had below a cool draught from the well. So he descended at once, feeling very badly, and resolving over again that he would never touch another drop of liquor as long as he lived. Having quenched his thirst with a large bowl of cool water drawn right from the bottom of the well, he went up to his wife where she was stooping at the fire, and said—

"Sally, look here—"

"Go 'way, Jim," was her angry response.

"No, but Sally, look here, I want to talk to you," persisted her husband.

"Go 'way, I say—I don't care if I never see you again!"

"So you've said a hundred times, but I never believed you, or I might have taken you at your word."

To this his wife made no reply.

"I was drunk last night, Sally," Jim said, after a moment's silence.

"You needn't take the trouble to tell me that."

"Of course not. But an open confession, you know, is good for the soul. I was drunk last night, then—drunk as a fool, after all I promised—but I'm not going to get drunk again, so—"

"Don't swear any more false oaths, Jim: you've sworn enough already."

"Yes, but Sally, I am going to quit now, and I want you to talk to me like a good wife, and advise with me."

"If you don't go away and let me alone now, I'll throw these tongs at you!" the wife rejoined, angrily, rising up and brandishing the article she had named. "You are trying me beyond all manner of patience!"

"There—there—keep cool, Sally. It'll all go into your lifetime, darlin'," Jim replied, good-humouredly, taking hold of her hand, and extricating the tongs from them, and then drawing his arm around her waist, and forcing her to sit down in a chair, while he took one just beside her.

"Now, Sally, I'm in dead earnest, if ever I was in my life," he began, "and if you'll tell me any way to break off from this wretched habit into which I have fallen, I'll do it."

"Go and sign the pledge, then;" his wife said promptly, and somewhat sternly.

"And give up my liberty?"

"And regain it, rather. You're a slave now."

"I'll do it, then, for your sake."

"Don't trifle with me, any more, James; I can't bear it much longer, I feel that I can't—" poor Mrs. Braddock said in a plaintive tone, while the tears came to her eyes.

"I wont deceive you any more, Sally. I'll sign, and I'll keep my pledge. If I could only have said—'I've signed the pledge,' yesterday, I would have been safe. But I've got no pledge, and I'm afraid to go out to hunt up Malcom, for fear I shall see a grog-shop."

"Can't you write a pledge?"

"No. I can't write anything but a bill, or a label for one of your pickle-pots."

"But try."

"Well, give me a pen, some ink, and a piece of paper."

But there was neither pen, ink, nor paper, in the house. Mrs. Braddock, however, soon mustered them all in the neighbourhood, and came and put them down upon the table before her husband.

"There, now, write a pledge," she said.

"I will." And Jim took up the pen and wrote—"Blister my feathers if ever I drink another drop of Alcohol, or anything that will make drunk come, sick or well, dead or alive!"

JIM BRADDOCK."

"But that's a queer pledge, Jim."

"I don't care if it is. I'll keep it."

"It's just no pledge at all."

"You're an old goose! Now give me a hammer and four nails."

"What do you want with a hammer and four nails?"

"I want to nail my pledge up over the mantelpiece."

"But it will get smoky."

"So will your aunty. Give me the hammer and nails."

Jim's wife brought them as desired, and he nailed his pledge up over the mantelpiece, and then read it off with a proud, resolute air.

"I can keep that pledge, Sally, my old girl! And what's more, I will keep it, too!" he said, slapping his wife upon the shoulder. "And now for some breakfast in double quick time, for I must be at Jones's early this morning."

Mrs. Braddock's heart was very glad, for she had more faith in this pledge than she had ever felt in any of his promises. There was something of confirmation in the act of signing his name, that strengthened her hopes. It was not long before she had a good warm breakfast on the table, of which her husband eat with a better appetite than usual, and then, after reading his pledge over, Jim started off.

As before, he had to go past Harry Arnold's, and early as it was, there were already two or three of his cronies there for their morning dram. He saw them about the door while yet at a distance, but neither the grog-shop nor his old companions had now any attraction for him. He was conscious of standing on a plain that lifted him above their influence. As he drew near, they observed him, and awaited his approach with pleasure, for his fine flow of spirits made his company always desirable. But as he showed no inclination to stop, he was hailed, just as he was passing, with,

"Hallo, Jim! Where are you off to in such a hurry?"

"Off to my work like an honest, sober man," Jim replied, pausing to return his answer. "I've taken the pledge, my hearties, and what's more, I'm going to keep it. It's all down in black and white, and my name's to it in the bargain,—so there's an end of the matter, you see! Good bye, boys!—I'm sorry to leave you,—but you must go my way if you want my company. Good bye, Harry! You've got the old whiskey-barrel, and that's the last you'll ever get of mine. I never had any good luck while it was in my house, and I am most heartily glad it's out, and in your whiskey-shop, where I hope it will stay. Good bye, old cronies!"

And so saying, Jim turned away, and walked off with a proud, erect bearing. His old companions raised a feeble shout, but according to Jim's account, the laugh was so much on the wrong side of their mouths, that it didn't seem to him anything like a laugh.

At eleven o'clock, Mr. Jones came out as usual, and said—

"Well, Jim, I suppose you begin to feel a little like it was grog-time?"'

"No, sir," Jim replied. "I'm done with grog."

"Done with grog!" ejaculated Mr. Jones, in pleased surprise.

"Why, you didn't seem at all afraid of it, yesterday?"

"I did drink pretty hard, yesterday; but that was all your fault."

"My fault! How do you make that out?"

"Clear enough. Yesterday morning, seeing what a poor miserable wretch I had got to be, and how much my wife and children were suffering, I swore of from ever touching another drop. I wouldn't sign a pledge, though, because that, I thought, would be giving up my freedom. In coming here, I got past Harry Arnold's grog-shop pretty well, but when you came out so pleasantly at eleven o'clock, and asked me to go over to the house and take a drink, I couldn't refuse for the life of me—especially as I felt as dry as a bone. So I drank pretty freely, as you' know, and went home, in consequence, drunk at night, notwithstanding I had promised Sally, solemnly, in the morning, never to touch another drop again as long as I lived. Poor soul! Bad enough, and discouraged enough, she felt last night, I know.

"So you see—when I got up this morning, I felt half-determined to sign the pledge, at all hazards. Still I didn't want to give up my liberty, and was arguing the points over again, when Sally took me right aback so strongly that I gave up, wrote a pledge, signed it, and nailed it up over the mantelpiece, where it has got to stay."

"I am most heartily glad to hear of your good resolution," Mr. Jones said, grasping warmly the hand of Braddock—"and heartily ashamed of myself for having tempted you, yesterday. Hereafter, I am resolved not to offer liquor to any man who works for me. If my money is not enough for him, he must go somewhere else. Well," he continued—"you have signed away your liberty, as you called it. Do you feel any more a slave than you did yesterday?"

"A slave? No, indeed! I'm a free man now! Yesterday I was such a slave to a debased appetite, that all my good resolutions were like cobwebs. Now I can act like an honest, rational man. I am in a state of freedom. You ask me to drink. I say 'no'—yesterday I could not say no, because I was not a free man. But now I am free to choose what is right, and to reject what is wrong. I don't care for all the grog-shops and whiskey-bottles from here to sun-down! I'm not afraid to go past Harry Arnold's—nor even to go in there and make a temperance speech, if necessary. Hurrah for freedom!"

It cannot be supposed that Jim's wife, after her many sad disappointments, could feel altogether assured that he would stand by his pledge, although she had more confidence in its power over him than in anything else, and believed that it was the only thing that would save him, if he could be saved at all. She was far more cheerful, however, for her hope was stronger than it had ever been; and went about her house with a far lighter step than usual.

Towards evening, as the time began to approach for his return, she proceeded, as she had done on the day before, to make arrangements for his comfortable reception. The little scene of preparation for supper, and dressing up the children, was all acted over again, and with a feeling of stronger confidence. Still, her heart would beat at times oppressively, as a doubt would steal over her mind.

At last, the sun was just sinking behind a distant hill. It was the hour to expect him. The children were gathered around her in the door, and her eyes were afar off, eagerly watching to descry his well-known form in the distance. As minute after minute passed away, and the sun at length went down below the horizon, her heart began to tremble. Still, though she strained her eyes, she could see nothing of him,—and now the twilight began to fall, dimly around, throwing upon her oppressed heart a deeper shadow than that which mantled, like a thin veil, the distant hills and valleys. With a heavy sigh, she was about returning into the house, when a slight noise within caused her to turn quickly, and with a start.

"Back again, safe and sound, old girl!" greeted her glad ear, as the form of her husband caught her eye, coming in at the back door.

"O, Jim!" she exclaimed, her heart bounding with a wild, happy pulsation. "How glad I am to see you!"

And she flung herself into his arms, giving way, as she did so, to a gush of joyful tears.

"And I'm glad enough to see you, too, Sally! I've thought about you and the children all day, and of how much I have wronged you. But it's all over now. That pledge has done it!" pointing up as he spoke to his pledge nailed over the mantelpiece. "Since I signed that, I've not had the first wish to touch the accursed thing that has ruined me. I'm free, now, Sally! Free to do as I please. And that's what I havn't been for a long time. As I told Mr. Jones, I don't care now for all the grog-shops, whiskey-bottles, and Harry Arnolds, from here to sun-down."

"I told you it was all nonsense, Jim, about signing away your liberty!" Sally said, smiling through her tears of joy.

"Of course it was. I never was free before. But now I feel as free as air. I can go in and come out and care no more for the sight of a grog-shop, than for a hay-stack. I can take care of my wife and children, and be just as kind to them as I please. And that's what I couldn't do before. Huzza for the pledge, say I!

"Blister my feathers if ever I drink another drop of Alcohol, or anything that will make drunk come, sick or well, dead or alive!"

That evening Jim Braddock sat down to a good supper with a smiling wife, and three children, all cleanly dressed, and looking as happy as they could be. The husband and father had not felt so light a heart bounding in his bosom for years. He was free,—and felt that he was free to act as reason dictated,—to work for and care for his household treasures.

Nearly a year has passed, and Mr. James Braddock has built himself a neat little frame house, which is comfortably furnished, and has attached to it a well-cultivated garden. In his parlour, there hangs, over the mantelpiece, his original pledge, handsomely framed. Recently in writing to a friend, he says—

"You will ask, where did I get them?" (his new house, furniture, &c.) "I'll tell you, boy. These are part payment for my liberty, that I signed away. Didn't I sell it at a bargain? But this is not all. I've got my shop back again, with a good run of custom—am ten years younger than I was a year ago—have got the happiest wife and the smartest boy in all creation—and don't care a snap for anybody! So now, S. come down here; bring your wife, and all the responsibilities, and I'll tell you the whole story—but I can't write. Hurrah for slavery! Good bye!

JIM BRADDOCK."



THE FAIR TEMPTER

OR, WINE ON THE WEDDING-NIGHT.



"WHAT will you take, Haley?"

"A glass of water."

"Nonsense! Say, what will you take?"

"A glass of water. I don't drink anything stronger."

"Not a teetotaller? Ha! ha! ha!" rejoined the young man's companion, laughing in mingled mirth and ridicule.

"Yes, a teetotaller, if you please," replied the one called Haley.—"Or anything else you choose to denominate me."

"You're a member of a temperance society, then? ha! ha!"

"No, I am not."

"Don't belong to the cold-water men?"

"No."

"Then come along and drink with me! Here, what will you take?"

"Nothing at all, unless it be a glass of water. As I have just said, I drink nothing stronger."

"What's the reason?"

"I feel as well—indeed, a great deal better without it."

"That's all nonsense! Come, take a julep, or a brandy-punch with me."

"No, Loring, I cannot."

"I shall take it as an offence, if you do not."

"I mean no offence, and shall be sorry, if you construe into one an act not so intended. Drink if you wish to drink, but leave me in freedom to decline tasting liquor if I choose."

"Well, you are a strange kind of a genius, Haley—, but I believe I like you too well to get mad with you, although I generally take a refusal to drink with one as an insult, unless I know the person to have joined a temperance society,—and then I should deem the insult on my part, were I to urge him to violate his pledge. But I wonder you have never joined yourself to some of these ultra reformers—these teetotallers, as they call themselves."

"I have never done so,—and never intend doing so. It is sufficient for me to decline drinking, because I do not believe that stimulating beverages are good for the body or mind. I act from principle in this matter, and, therefore, want no external restraints."

"Then you are determined not to drink with me?"

"O, yes, I will drink with you."

"Cold-water?"

"Of course."

"One julep, and a glass of Adam's-ale," said Loring, turning to the bar-keeper.

They were soon presented, glasses touched, heads bobbed, and the contents of the two tumblers poured down their respective gullets.

"It makes a chill go over me to see you drinking that stuff," Loring said, with an expression of disgust on his face.

"Every one to his taste, you know," was Haley's half-indifferent response.

"You'll be over to-night, I suppose?" said a young man, stepping up to him, as the two emerged from the "Coffee"-house—precious little coffee was ever seen there.

"O, yes,—of course."

"You'd better not come."

"Why?"

"Clara's got a bottle of champaign that she says she's going to make you taste this very night."

A slight shade flitted quickly over the face of Haley, as the young man said this. But it was as quickly gone, and he replied with a smile,

"Tell Clara it's no use. I'm an incorrigible cold-water man."

"She'll be too much for you."

"I'm not afraid."

"You'd be, if you were as well acquainted with her as I am. I never knew that girl to set her head about anything in my life that she didn't accomplish it. And she says that she will make you drink a glass of wine with her, in spite of all your opposition."

"She'll find herself foiled once in her life," was the laughing reply; "and so you may as well tell her that all her efforts will be in vain, and thus save further trouble."

"No, I won't, though. I'll tell her to go on, while I stand off and look at the fun. I'll bet on her, into the bargain, for I know she'll beat."

"So will I, two to one!" broke in Loring—

"Don't be so certain of that."

"We'll see," was the laughing response, and then the young men separated.

Manley, the individual who had met Loring and Haley at the coffee-house door, was the brother of Clara, and Haley was her accepted lover. The latter had removed to the city in which all the parties resided, some two years before, from the east, and had commenced business for himself. Nothing was known of his previous life, or connections. But the pure gold of his character soon became apparent, and guarantied him a reception into good society. All who came into association with him, were impressed in his favour. Steadily, however, during that time, had he persisted in not tasting any kind of stimulating drinks. All kinds of stimulating condiments at table, were likewise avoided. The circle of acquaintances which had gradually formed around him, or into which, rather, he had been introduced, was a wine and brandy-drinking set of young men, and he was frequently urged to partake with them; but neither persuasion, ridicule, nor pretended anger, could, in the least, move him from his fixed resolution. Such scenes as that just presented, were of frequent occurrence, particularly with recent acquaintances, as was the case with Loring.

Within a year he had been paying attention to Clara Manley, a happy-hearted young creature, over whose head scarce eighteen bright summers had yet passed. Esteem and admiration of her mind and person, had gradually changed into a pure and permanent affection, which was tenderly and truly reciprocated.

Wine, in the house of Mr. Manley, was used almost as freely as water. It was, with brandy, an invariable accompaniment of the dinner-table, and no evening passed without its being served around. Haley's refusal to touch it, was at first thought singular by Clara; but she soon ceased to observe the omission, and the servant soon learned in no case to present him the decanter. George Manley, however, could not tolerate Haley's temperate habits, because he thought his abstinence a mere whim, and bantered him upon it whenever occasion offered. At last, he aroused Clara's mind into opposition, and incited her to make an effort to induce her lover to drink.

"What's the use of my doing it, brother?" she asked, when he first alluded to it. "His not drinking does no harm to any one."

"If it don't, it makes him appear very singular. No matter who is here—no matter on what occasion, he must adhere to his foolish resolution. People will begin to think, after awhile, that he's some reformed drunkard, and is afraid to taste a drop of any kind of liquor."

"How can you talk so, George?" Clara said, with a half-offended air.

"So it will appear, Clara; and you can't help it, unless you laugh him out of his folly."

"I don't wish to say anything to him about it."

"You're afraid."

"No, I am not, George."

"Yes, you are."

"What am I afraid of?"

"Why, you're afraid that you won't succeed."

"Indeed, then, and I am not. A mere notion like that I could easily prevail on him to give up. I should be sorry, indeed, if I had not that much influence over him."

"You'll find it a pretty hard notion to beat out of him, I can tell you. I've seen half a dozen young men try for an hour by all kinds of means to induce him to taste wine; but it was no use. He was immovable."

"I don't care;—he couldn't refuse me, if I set myself about it."

"He could, and he would, Clara."

"I don't believe a word of it."

"Try him, then."

"I don't see any use in it. Let him enjoy his total-abstinence! if he wishes to."

"I knew you were afraid."

"Indeed, I am not, then."

"Yes, you are."

"It's no such thing."

"Try him, then."

"I will, then, since it's come to that."

"He'll be too much for you."

"Don't flatter yourself. I'll manage him."

"How?"

"Why, I'll insist on his taking a glass of that delightful champaign with me, which you sent home yesterday."

"Suppose he declines?"

"I won't take his refusal. He shall take a glass with me."

"We'll see, little sis'. I'll bet on Haley."—And so saying, the young man turned away laughing at the success of his scheme.

That evening, towards nine o'clock, as Haley sat conversing with Clara, a servant entered the room as usual with bottles and glasses. George Manley was promptly on his feet, to cut the cork and "pop" the champaign, which he did, while the servant stood just before Clara and her lover.

"You must take a glass of this fine champaign with me, Mr. Haley," the young tempter said, turning upon him a most winning smile.

"Indeed, Clara—"

"Not a word now. I shall take no refusal."

"I must be—"

"Pour him out a glass, George."

And George filled two glasses, one of which Clara lifted, with the sparkling liquor at the height of its effervescence.

"There's the other; take it quick, before it dies," she said, holding her own glass near her lips.

"You must excuse me, Clara. I do not drink wine," Mr. Haley said, as soon as he was permitted to speak, in a tone and with a manner that settled the question at once.

"Indeed, it is too bad, Mr. Haley!" Clara responded, with a half-offended air, putting her untasted glass of wine back upon the waiter,—"to deny me so trifling a request. I must say, that your refusal is very ungallant. Whoever heard of a gentleman declining to take wine with a lady?"

"There certainly is an exception to the rule to-night, Clara," the young man said. "Still, I can assure you, that nothing ungallant was meant. But that you know to be out of the question. I could not be rude to any lady, much less to you."

"O, as to that, it's easy to make fine speeches—but acts, you know, speak louder than words"—Clara said, half-laughing—half-serious.

The servant had, by this time, passed on with the untasted wine; and, of course, no further effort could be made towards driving the young man from his position. His positive refusal to drink, however, under the circumstances, very naturally disappointed Clara. He observed the sudden revulsion of feeling that took place in her mind, and it pained him very much.

As for her, she felt herself positively offended. She had set her heart upon proving to her brother her power over Haley, but had signally failed in the effort. He had proved to her immovable in his singular position.

From that time, for many weeks, there was a coldness between him and Clara. She did not receive him with her accustomed cordiality; but seemed both hurt and offended. To take a simple glass of champaign with her was so small a request, involving, as she reasoned, no violation of principle, that for him to refuse to do so, under all the circumstances, was almost unpardonable.

Affection, however, at last triumphed over wounded pride, but not until he had begun, seriously, to debate the question of proposing to her a dissolution of the contract existing between them.

Everything again went on smoothly enough, for there was no further effort on the part of Clara to drive her lover from his resolution. But she still entertained the idea of doing so—and still resolved that she would conquer him.

At last the wedding-day was set, and both looked forward to its approach with feelings of pure delight. Their friends, without an exception, approved the match; and well they might, for he was a man of known integrity, fine intellect, and cultivated tastes; and she a young woman in every way fitted to unite with him in marriage bonds.

Finally came the long anticipated evening. Never before was there assembled in the old mansion of Mr. Manley a happier company than that which had gathered to witness the marriage of his daughter, whose young heart trembled in the fulness of its delight, as she uttered the sealing words of her union with one who possessed all her heart.

"May kind heaven bless you, my child!" murmured the mother, as she pressed her lips to those of her happy child.

"And make your life glide on as peacefully as a quiet stream," added the father, kissing her in turn, scarcely refraining, as he did so, from taking her in his arms and folding her to his bosom.

Then came crowding upon her the sincere congratulations of friends. O, how happy she felt Joy seemed to have reached a climax. The cup was so full, that a drop more would have overflowed the brim.

A few minutes sufficed to restore again the order that had reigned through the rooms, and the servants appeared with the bride's cake. All eyes were upon the happy couple.

"You won't refuse me now, James?" the bride said, in a low tone; but with an appealing look, as she reached out her hand and lifted a glass of wine.

There was a hesitation in the manner of Haley, and Clara saw it. She knew that all eyes were upon them, and she knew that all had observed her challenge. Her pride was roused, and she could not bear the thought of being refused her first request after marriage.

"Take it, James, for my sake, even if you only place it to your lips without tasting it," she said, in a low, hurried whisper.

The young husband could not stand this. He took the glass, while the heart of Clara bounded with an exulting throb. Of course, having gone thus far, he had to go through the form of drinking with her. In doing so, he sipped but a few drops. These thrilled on the nerve of taste with a sensation of exquisite pleasure. Involuntarily he placed the glass to his lips again, and took a slight draught.

Then a sudden chill passed through his frame as consciousness returned, and he would fain have dashed the glass from him as a poisoning serpent that was preparing to sting him, but for the company that crowded the rooms. From this state he was aroused by the sweet voice of his young wife, saying, in happy tones—

"So it has not poisoned you, James."

He smiled an answer, but did not speak. The peculiar expression of that smile, Clara remembered for many years afterwards.

"Come! you must empty your glass with me," she said, in a moment after. "See! you have scarcely tasted it yet. Now—"

And she raised her glass, and he did the same. When he withdrew his own from his lips, it was empty.

"Bravo!"—exclaimed Clara, in a low, triumphant tone.

"Now, isn't that delightful wine?"

"Yes, very."

"Did you ever taste wine before, James?" the bride laughingly said—

"O, yes, many a time. But none so exquisitely flavoured as this."

"Long abstinence has sweetened it to your taste."

"No doubt."

"Clara has been too much for you to-night, Haley," George Manley said, coming up at this moment, and laughing in great glee.

"He couldn't refuse me on such an occasion"—the bride gaily responded. "I set my heart on making him drink wine with me on our wedding-night, and I have succeeded."

"Are you sure he hasn't poured it slyly upon the floor?"

"O, yes! I saw him take every drop. And what is more; he smacked his lips, and said it was exquisitely flavoured."

"Here comes the servant again," George said, at this moment. "Come, James! let me fill your glass again. You must drink with me to-night. You've never given me that pleasure yet. Come!—As well be hung for a sheep as a lamb." Thus importuned, Haley held up his glass which George Manley filled to the brim.

"Health and happiness!" the young man said, bowing.

Haley bowed in return, placed the glass to his lips, and took its contents at a draught.

"Bravely done! Why, it seems to go down quite naturally. You were not always a total-abstinence man?"

"No, I was not."—While a slight shadow flitted over his face.

"Welcome back again, then, to a truly social, and convivial spirit! After this, don't let me ever see you refuse a generous glass."

"What! An empty wine-glass in the hand of young Mr. Incorrigible! Upon my word!" ejaculated old Mr. Manley, coming up at this moment.

"O, yes, pa! I've conquered him to-night! He couldn't refuse to take a glass of wine with me on this occasion!" the daughter said, in great glee.

"He must take one with me, too, then."

"You must excuse me, indeed, sir," Haley replied—rallying himself, and bracing up into firmness his broken and still wavering resolutions.

"Indeed, then, and I won't."

"O, no. Don't excuse him at all, pa! He drank with me, and then with brother, and now to refuse to drink with you would be a downright shame."

"He has taken a glass with George, too, has he? And now wants to be excused when I ask him. Upon my word! Here, George, tell the servant to come over this way."

The servant came, of course, in a moment or two, with the wine.

"Fill up his glass, George," the father said.

Haley's glass was, of course, filled again.

"Now, my boy!—Here's a health to my children! May this night's happiness be but as a drop to the ocean of delight in reserve for them." Drinking.

"And here's to our father! May his children never love him less than they do now." Drinking in turn.

"Thank you, my boy!"

"And thank you in return, for your kind wishes."

"That wine didn't seem to taste unpleasantly, James?"

"O, no, sir. It is rich and generous."

"How long is it since you tasted wine?"

"About three years."

"Are you not fond of it?"

"O, yes. I like a good glass of wine."

"Then what in the world has made you act so singularly about it?"

"A mere whim of mine, I suppose you will call it. And perhaps it was. I thought I was just as well without it."

"Nonsense! Don't let me ever again hear of this foolishness."

And then the old man mingled with the happy company.

"Come, James, you must drink with me, too," the mother said, a little while afterward.

Haley did not seem unwilling, but turned off a glass of wine with an air of real pleasure.

"You must drink with me, too," went through the room. Every little while some one, with whom the young man had on former occasions refused to drink, finding out that he had been driven from his cold-water resolutions, insisted upon taking a glass with him. Such being the case, it is not to be wondered at that a remark like this should be made before the passage of an hour.

"See! As I live, Haley's getting lively!"

"I think that 'rich and generous wine' is beginning to brighten you up a little," Mr. Manley said, about this time, slapping his son-in-law familiarly upon the shoulder?

"I feel very happy, sir," was Haley's reply.

"That's right. This is a happy occasion."

"I never was so happy in my life! I hardly know what to do with myself. Come! Won't you take some wine with me. I drank with you a little while ago."

"Certainly! Certainly! My boy! Or, perhaps you would try a little brandy."

"No objection," said the young man. And then the two went to the side-board, and each took a stiff glass of brandy.

"That's capital! It makes me feel good!" ejaculated Haley, as he set his empty glass down.

Cotillions were now formed, and the bride and groom took the floor in the first set. Clara felt very proud of her husband as she leaned upon his arm, waiting for the music to begin, and glanced around upon her maiden companions with a look of triumph. But she soon had cause to abate her exultation, for when the music struck up, and the dancers commenced their intricate movements, she found that her husband blundered so as to throw all into confusion. The reason of this instantly flashed upon her mind, for she knew him to be a correct and graceful dancer. He was too much intoxicated to dance! Her woman's pride caused her to make the effort to guide him through the figures. But it was of no use. The second attempt failed signally by his breaking the figures, and reeling with a loud, drunken laugh, through and through, and round and round the astonished group of dancers, thrown thus suddenly into confusion.

Poor Clara, overwhelmed with mortification, retired to a seat, while her husband continued his antics, ending them finally with an Indian whoop, such as may often be heard late at night in the streets, from a company of drunken revellers,—when he sought her out, and came and took a seat by her side.

"Aint you happy to-night, Clara! Aint you, old girl!" he said, in a loud voice, striking her with his open hand upon the shoulder. "I'm so happy that I feel just ready to jump out of my skin! Whoop!—Now see how beautifully I can cut a pigeon's-wing."

And he sprang from his seat, and commenced describing the elegant figure he had named, with industrious energy, much to the amusement of one portion of the company, but to the painful mortification of another. A circle was soon formed around him, to witness his graceful movements, which strongly reminded those present who had witnessed the performances, of a corn-field negro's Juba, or the double-shuffle.

"Come," old Mr. Manley said, interrupting the young man in his evolutions, by laying his hand upon his arm.

"Come! I want you a moment."

"Hel-lel-lel-lo, o-o, there! What's wanting? ha!" he said, pausing, and then staggering forwards against Mr Manley. "Who are you, sir?"

"For shame, sir!" the old man replied in a stern voice. "Come with me, I wish to speak to you."

"Speak here, then, will you? I've no se-se-secrets. I'm open and above board! Jim Haley's the boy that knows what he's about! Who-o-o-oop! Clear the track there!"

And starting away from the old man, he ran two or three paces, and then sprang clear over the head of a young lady, frightening her almost out of her wits.

"There! Who'll match me that? Jim Haley's the boy what's hard to beat! Whoo-oo-oop, hurrah! But where's Clara? Where's my dear little wifie? Ah! there—No, that isn't her, neither. Wh-wh-where is the little jade?"

The whole of this passed in a few moments, with all the drunken gestures required to give it the fullest effect.

Poor Clara, at first mortified, when she saw what a perfect madman her husband had become, was so shocked that her feelings overcame her, and she was carried fainting from the room. O, how bitter was her momentary repentance of her blind folly, ere her bewildered senses forsook her.

As for Haley, he grew worse and worse, until the brandy which he continued to pour down, had completely stupified him, when he was carried off to bed in a state of drunken insensibility; after which, the company retired in oppressive and embarrassed silence.

Sad and lonely was the bridal chamber that night, and the couch of the young bride was wet with bitter, but unavailing tears.

On the next morning, those who first entered the room where Haley had slept, found it empty. Towards the middle of the day, a letter was left for Clara by an unknown hand. It ran thus:

"DEAR CLARA—For you are still dear to me, although you have robbed me of happiness for ever, and crushed your own hopes with mine. For years before I came to this place, I had been a slave to intoxication—a slave held in a fearful bondage. At last, I resolved to break loose from my thraldom. One vigorous effort, and I was free. There yet remained to me a small remnant of a wrecked fortune. With this I abandoned my early home, and fixed my residence here, determined once more to be a man. Temptations beset me on every hand; but while I touched not, tasted not, handled not, I knew that I was safe. But alas for the hour when you became my tempter! O, that the remembrance of it could be blotted from my memory for ever! When, for your sake, I raised that fatal glass to my lips, and the single drop of wine that touched them thrilled wildly through every nerve, I felt that I was lost. Horrible were my sensations, but your tempting voice lured me to sip the scarcely tasted poison; I did so, and my resolution was gone! All that occurred after that is only dimly written on my memory. But I was a madman. That I can realize. When drunk, I have always acted the madman. And now we part for ever! I am a proud man, and cannot remain in the scene of my disgrace. My property I leave for you, and go I know not, and care not, whither—perhaps to die, unlamented, and unknown, and sink into a drunkard's grave. Farewell!"

This letter bore neither name nor date. But they were not needed.

Five years from that sorrowful morning Clara sat by a window in her father's house, near the close of day, looking dreamily up into the serene and cloudless sky. Her face was pale, and had a look of hopeless suffering. Five years!—It seemed as if twenty must have passed over her head, each burdening her with a heavy weight of affliction. O, what a wreck did she present! Five years of such a life! Who can tell their history? She was alone; and sat with her head upon her hand, and her eyes fixed, as if upon some object. But, evidently, no image touched the nerve of vision. Presently her lips moved, and a few mournful words were uttered aloud, almost involuntarily.

"O, that I knew where he was! O, that I could but find him, if alive!"

A slight noise startled her, and she turned quickly. Was it a vision? Or did her long-lost husband stand before her, the shadow of what he had been?

"Clara! Dear Clara!"

In a moment she was clinging to him with a trembling, eager, convulsive grasp. Tenderly did he fold her in his arms, and press his lips to hers fervently.

"Clara! Dear Clara!"

"My own dear husband!" was all she could utter, as she sank like a helpless child on his bosom.

For four years from the night of his wedding, Haley had been a common drunkard, with no power over himself. On the brink of the grave, he was rescued, signed a pledge of total abstinence, and set himself eagerly to work to elevate his condition. One year had sufficed to efface many sad tokens of his degradation, but time could not restore the freshness to his cheek, nor the light to his eye. Then he returned and sought his bride, who still mourned him with an inconsolable grief. A few months produced a happy change in both. But they cannot look back. Over the past they throw a veil,—the future is theirs, and it is growing brighter and brighter. May its clear sky never be darkened!



THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT.



"Is there a good fire in the little spare room Jane?" said Mr. Wade, a plain country farmer, coming into the kitchen where his good wife was busy preparing for supper.

"Oh, yes, I've made the room as comfortable as can be," replied Mrs. Wade; "but I wish you would take up a good armful of wood now, so that we wont have to disturb Mr. N—, by going into the room after he gets here."

"If he should come this evening," remarked the husband. "But it is getting late, and I am afraid he won't be here Before the morning."

"Oh, I guess he will be along soon. I have felt all day as if he were coming."

"They say he is a good man, and preaches most powerfully. Mr. Jones heard him preach in New York at the last conference, and tells me he never heard such a sermon as he gave them. It cut right and left, and his words went home to every heart like arrows of conviction."

"I hope he will be here this evening," remarked the wife as she put some cakes in the oven.

"And so do I." remarked Mr. Wade, as he turned away, and went out to the wood pile for an armfull of wood for the expected minister's room.

It was Saturday afternoon, and nearly sundown. Mr. N—, who was expected to arrive, and for whose comfort every preparation in their power to make, had been completed by the family at whose house he was to stay, was the new Presiding Elder of B—District, in the New Jersey Conference. Quarterly meeting was to be held on the next day, which was Sunday, when Mr. N—was to preach, and administer the ordinances of the church. Being his first visit to that part of the District, the preacher was known to but few, if any, of the members, and they all looked forward to his arrival with interest, and were prepared to welcome him with respect and affection.

The house of Mr. Wade was known as the 'minister's home.' For years, in their movements through the circuit, the preachers, as they came round to this part in the field of their appointed labor, were welcomed by Brother and Sister Wade, and the little spare chamber made comfort. able for their reception. It was felt by these honest-hearted people, more a privilege than a duty, thus to share their temporal blessings with the men of God who ministered to them in holy things. They had their weaknesses, as we all have. One of their weaknesses consisted in a firm belief that they were deeply imbued with the genuine religion, and regarded things spiritual above all worldly considerations. They were kind, good people, certainly, but not as deeply read in the lore of their own hearts, not as familiar with the secret springs of their own actions, as all of us should desire to be. But this was hardly to be wondered at, seeing that their position in the church was rather elevated as compared with those around them, and they were the subjects of little distinguishing marks flattering to the natural man.

While Mr. Wade was splitting a log at the wood-pile, his thoughts on the new Presiding Elder, and his feelings warm with the anticipated pleasure of meeting and entertaining him, a man of common appearance approached along the road, and when he came to where the farmer was, stood still and looked at him until he had finished cutting the log, and was preparing to lift the cleft pieces in his arms.

"Rather a cold day this," said the man.

"Yes, rather," returned Mr. Wade, a little indifferently, and in a voice meant to repulse the stranger, whose appearance did not impress him very favorably.

"How far is it to D—?" inquired the man.

"Three miles," replied Mr. Wade, who having filled his arms with wood, was beginning to move off towards the house.

"So far!" said the man in a tone that was slightly marked with hesitation. "I thought it was but a little way from this." Then with an air of hesitation, and speaking in a respectful voice, he added, "I would feel obliged if you would let me go in and warm myself. I have walked for two miles in the cold, an—as D—is still three miles off, I shall be chilled through before I get there."

So modest and natural a request as this, Mr. Wade could not refuse, and yet, in the way he said—"Oh, certainly"—there was a manner that clearly betrayed his wish that the man had passed on and preferred his request somewhere else. Whether this was noticed or not, is of no consequence; the wayfarer on this assent to his request, followed Mr. Wade into the house.

"Jane," said the farmer as he entered the house with the stranger, and his voice was not as cordial as it might have been; "let this man warm himself by the kitchen fire. He has to go all the way to D—this evening and says he is cold."

There is a kind of magnetic intelligence in the tones of the voice. Mrs. Wade understood perfectly, by the way in which this was said, that the husband did not feel much sympathy for the stranger, and only yielded the favor asked because he could not well refuse to grant it. Her own observation did not correct the impression her husband's manner had produced. The man's dress, though neither dirty nor ragged, was not calculated to impress any one very favorably. His hat was much worn, and the old gray coat in which he was buttoned up to the chin, had seen so much service that it was literally threadbare from collar to skirt, and showed numerous patches, darns, and other evidences of needlework, applied long since to its original manufacture. His cow-hide boots, though whole, had a coarse look; and his long dark beard gave his face, not a very prepossessing one at best, a no very attractive aspect.

"You can sit down there," said Mrs. Wade, a little ungraciously, for she felt the presence of the man, just at that particular juncture, as an intrusion; and she pointed to an old chair that stood. near the fire-place, in front of which was a large Dutch oven containing some of her best cream short cakes, prepared especially for Mr. N—, the new Presiding Elder now momently expected.

"Thank you, Ma'am," returned the stranger, as he took the chair, and drew close up to the blazing hearth, and removing his thick woolen gloves, spread his hands to receive the genial warmth.

Nothing more was said by either the stranger or Mr. Wade, for the space of three or four minutes. During this time, the good house-wife passed in and out, once or twice, busy as could be in looking after supper affairs. The lid of the ample Dutch oven had been raised once or twice, and both the eyes and nose of the traveller greeted with a pleasant token of the good fare soon to be served up in the family. He was no longer cold; but the sight and smell of the cakes and other good things in preparation by the lady, awakened a sense of hunger, and made it keenly felt. But, as the comfort of a little warmth had been bestowed so reluctantly, he could not think of trespassing on the farmer and his wife for a bite of supper, and so commenced drawing on his heavy woolen gloves, and buttoning up his old gray coat. While occupied in doing this, Mr. Wade came into the kitchen, and said—

"I'm afraid Jane, that the minister won't be along this evening. It's after sun-down, and begins to grow duskish."

"He ought to have been here an hour ago," returned Mrs. W., in a tone of disappointment.

"It's getting late, my friend, and D—'s a good distance ahead," remarked the farmer, after standing with his back to the fire, and regarding for some moments the stranger, who had taken off his gloves, and was slowly unbuttoning his coat again.

"It's three miles you say?"

"Yes, good three miles, if not more; and it will be dark in half an hour."

"What direction must I take?" required the stranger.

"You keep along the road until you come to the meeting house on the top of the hill, half a mile beyond this, and then you strike off to the right, and keep straight on."

"What meeting house is it?"

"The D—Methodist Meeting House."

"You are expecting the minister, I think you just now said?"

"Yes. Mr. N—, our new Presiding Elder, is to preach to-morrow, and he was to have been here this afternoon."

"He is to stay with you?"

"Certainly he is. The ministers all stay at my house."

The man got up, and went to the door and looked out.

"Couldn't you give me a little something to eat before I go," he said, returning. "I havn't tasted food since this morning, and feel a little faint."

"Jane, can't you give him some cold meat and bread?" Mr. Wade turned to his wife, and she answered, just a little fretfully, "Oh, yes, I suppose so;" and going to the cupboard, brought out a dish containing a piece of cold fat bacon that had been boiled with cabbage for dinner, and half a loaf of bread, which she placed on the kitchen table and told the man to help himself. The stranger did not wait for another invitation; but set to work in good earnest upon the bread and bacon, while the farmer stood with his hands behind him, and his back to the fire, whistling the air of "Auld Lang Syne," while he mentally repeated the words of the hymn of "When I can read my title clear," and wished that his visitor would make haste and get through with his supper. The latter, after eating for a short time with the air of a man whose appetite was keen, began to discuss the meat and bread with more deliberation, and occasionally to ask a question, or make a remark, the replies to which were not very gracious, although Mr. Wade forced himself to be as polite as he could be.

The homely meal at length concluded, the man buttoned up his old coat and drew on his coarse woolen gloves again, and thanking Mr. and Mrs. Wade for their hospitality, opened the door and looked out. It was quite dark, for there was no moon, and the sky was veiled in clouds. The wind rushed into his face, cold and piercing. For a moment or two, he stood with his hand upon the door, and then closing it he turned back into the house, and said to the farmer

"You say it is still three miles to D—?"

"I do," said Mr. Wade coldly.

"I said so to you when you first stopped, and you ought to have pushed on like a prudent man. You could have reached there before it was quite dark."

"But I was cold and hungry, and might have fainted by the way."

The manner of saying this touched the farmer's feelings a little, and caused him to look more narrowly into the stranger's face than he had yet done. But he saw nothing more than he had already seen.

"You have warmed and fed me, for which I am thankful. Will you not bestow another act of kindness upon one who is in a strange place, and if he goes out in the darkness may lose himself and perish in the cold?"

The peculiar form in which this request was made, and the tone in which it was uttered, put it almost out of the power of the farmer to say no.

"Go in there and sit down," he (sic) answed, pointing to the kitchen, "and I will see my wife, and hear what she has to say."

And Mr. Wade went into the parlor where the supper table stood, covered with a snow-white cloth, and displaying his wife's set of bluesprigged china, that was only brought out on special occasions. Two tall mould candles were burning thereon, and on the hearth blazed a cheerful hickory fire.

"Hasn't that old fellow gone yet?" asked Mrs. Wade. She had heard his voice as he returned from the door.

"No. And what do you suppose? He wants us to let him stay all night."

"Indeed, and we'll do no such thing! We can't have the likes of him in the house, no how. Where could he sleep?"

"Not in the best room, even if Mr. N—shouldn't come."

"No, indeed!"

"But I really don't see, Jane how we can turn him out of doors. He doesn't look like a very strong man, and it's dark and cold, and full three miles to D—."

"It's too much! He ought to have gone on while he had daylight, and not lingered here as he did until it got dark."

"We can't turn him out of doors, Jane; and it's no use to think of it. He'll have to stay now."

"But what can we do with him?"

"He seems like a decent man, at least; and don't look as if he had anything bad about him. We might make him a bed on the floor somewhere."

"I wish he had been to Guinea before he came here," said Mrs. Wade, fretfully. The disappointment, the conviction that Mr. N—would not arrive, and the intrusion of so unwelcome a visitor as the stranger, completely unhinged her mind.

"Oh, well, Jane," replied her husband in a soothing voice, "never mind. We must make the best of it. Poor man! He came to us tired and hungry, and we have warmed him and fed him. He now asks shelter for the night, and we must not refuse him, nor grant his request in a complaining reluctant spirit. You know what the Bible says about entertaining angels unawares."

"Angels! Did you ever see an angel look like him?"

"Having never seen an angel," said the husband smiling, "I am unable to speak as to their appearance."

This had the effect to call an answering smile to the face of Mrs. Wade, and a better feeling to her heart. And it was finally agreed between them, that the man, as he seemed like a decent kind of a person, should be permitted to occupy the minister's room, if that individual did not arrive, an event to which they both now looked with but small expectancy. If he did come, why the man would have put up with poorer accommodations.

When Mr. Wade returned to the kitchen where the stranger had seated himself before the fire, he informed him, that they had decided to let him stay all night. The man expressed in a few words his grateful sense of their kindness, and then became silent and thoughtful. Soon after, the farmer's wife, giving up all hopes of Mr. N—'s arrival, had supper taken up, which consisted of coffee, warm cream short cakes, and sweet cakes, broiled ham, and broiled chicken. After all was on the table, a short conference was held, as to whether it would do not to invite the stranger to take supper. It was true, they had given him as much bread and bacon as he could eat; but then, as long as he was going to stay all night, it looked too inhospitable to sit down to the table and not ask him to join them. So, making a virtue of necessity, he was kindly asked to come in to supper, an invitation which he did not decline. Grace was said over the meal by Mr. Wade, and then the coffee was poured out, the bread helped, and the meat served.

There was a fine little boy of some five or six years old at the table, who had been brightened up, and dressed in his best, in order to grace the minister's reception. Charley was full of talk, and the parents felt a natural pride in showing him off, even before their humble guest, who noticed him particularly, although he had not much to say.

"Come, Charley," said Mr. Wade, after the meal was over, and he sat leaning back in his chair, "can't you repeat the pretty hymn mamma learned you last Sunday?"

Charley started off, without further invitation, and repeated, very accurately, two or three verses of a new camp-meeting hymn, that was just then very popular.

"Now let us hear you say the Commandments, Charley," spoke up the mother, well pleased at her child's performance. And Charley repeated them with only the aid of a little prompting.

"How many commandments are there?" asked the father.

The child hesitated, and then looking up at the stranger, near whom he sat, said, innocently,—

"How many are there?"

The man thought for some moments, and said, as if in doubt—

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