Heart-Histories and Life-Pictures
T. S. Arthur
Part 4 out of 5
"I wouldn't trust him."
"You are too suspicious--too uncharitable, as I have already said. I
can't be so. I always try to think the best of every one."
Finding that it was no use to talk, the neighbor said but little
more on the subject.
About a year afterwards the young man's new employer, who, on the
faith of Mr. May's recommendation, had placed great confidence in
him, discovered that he had been robbed of several thousand dollars.
The robbery was clearly traced to this clerk, who was arrested,
tried, and sentenced to three years imprisonment in the
"It seems that all your charity was lost on that young scoundrel,
Blake," said the individual whose conversation with Mr. May has just
"Poor fellow!" was the pitying reply. "I am most grievously
disappointed in him. I never believed that he would turn out so
"You might have known it after he had swindled you. A man who will
steal a sheep, needs only to be assured of impunity, to rob the
mail. The principle is the same. A rogue is a rogue, whether it be
for a pin or a pound."
"Well, well--people differ in these matters. I never look at the
worst side only. How could Dayton find it in his heart to send that
poor fellow to the State Prison! I wouldn't have done it, if he had
taken all I possess. It was downright vindictiveness in him."
"It was simple justice. He could not have done otherwise. Blake had
not only wronged him, but he had violated the laws and to the laws
he was bound to give him up."
"Give up a poor, erring young man, to the stern, unbending,
unfeeling laws! No one is bound to do that. It is cruel, and no one
is under the necessity of being cruel."
"It is simply just, Mr. May, as I view it. And, further, really more
just to give up the culprit to the law he has knowingly and wilfully
violated, than to let him escape its penalties."
Mr. May shook his head.
"I certainly cannot see the charity of locking up a young man for
three or four years in prison, and utterly and forever disgracing
"It is great evil to steal?" said the neighbor.
"O, certainly--a great sin."
"And the law made for its punishment is just?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Do you think that it really injuries a thief to lock him up in
prison, and prevent him from trespassing on the property of his
"That I suppose depends upon circumstances. If----"
"No, but my friend, we must fix the principle yea or nay. The law
that punishes theft is a good law--you admit that--very well. If the
law is good. it must be because its effect is good. A thief, will,
under such law, he really more benefitted by feeling its force than
in escaping the penalty annexed to its infringement. No distinction
can or ought to be made. The man who, in, a sane mind, deliberately
takes the property of another, should be punished by the law which
forbids stealing. It will have at least one good effect, if none
others and that will be to make him less willing to run similar
risk, and thus leave to his neighbor the peaceable possession of his
"Punishment, if ever administered, should look to the good of the
offender. But, what good disgracing and imprisoning a young man who
has all along borne a fair character, is going to have, is more than
I can tell. Blake won't be able to hold up his head among
respectable people when his term has expired."
"And will, in consequence, lose his power of injuring the honest and
unsuspecting. He will be viewed in his own true light, and be cast
off as unworthy by a community whose confidence he has most
"And so you will give an erring brother no chance for his life?"
"O yes. Every chance. But it would not be kindness to wink at his
errors and leave him free to continue in the practice of them, to
his own and others' injury. Having forfeited his right to the
confidence of this community by trespassing upon it, let him pay the
penalty of that trespass. It will be to him, doubtless, a salutary
lesson. A few years of confinement in a prison will give him time
for reflection and repentance; whereas, impunity in an evil course
could only have strengthened his evil purposes. When he has paid the
just penalty of his crime, let him go into another part of the
country, and among strangers live a virtuous life, the sure reward
of which is peace."
Mr. May shook his head negatively, at these remarks.
"No one errs on the side of kindness," he said, "while too many, by
an opposite course, drive to ruin those whom leniency might have
A short time after the occurrence of this little interview, Mr. May,
on returning home one evening, found his wife in much apparent
"Has anything gone wrong, Ella?" he asked.
"Would you have believed it?" was Mrs. May's quick and excited
answer. "I caught Jane in my drawer to-day, with a ten dollar bill
in her hand which she had just taken out of my pocket book, that was
"It is too true! I charged it at once upon her, and she burst into
tears, and owned that she was going to take the money and keep it."
"That accounts, then, for the frequency with which you have missed
small sums of money for several months past."
"Yes. That is all plain enough now. But what shall we do? I cannot
think of keeping Jane any longer."
"Perhaps she will never attempt such a thing again, now that she has
"I cannot trust her. I should never feel safe a moment. To have a
thief about the house! Oh, no, That would never answer. She will
have to go."
"Well, Ella, you will have to do what you think best; but you
mustn't be too hard on the poor creature. You mustn't think of
exposing her, and thus blasting her character. It might drive her to
"But, is it right for me, knowing what she is, to let her go quietly
into another family? It is a serious matter, husband."
"I don't know that you have anything to do with that. The safest
thing, in my opinion, is for you to talk seriously to Jane, and warn
her of the consequences of acts such as she has been guilty of. And
then let her go, trusting that she will reform"
"But there is another fault that I have discovered within a week or
two past. A fault that I suspected, but was not sure about. It is a
very bad one."
"What is that, Ella?"
"I do not think she is kind to the baby."
"I have good reason for believing that she is not kind to our dear
little babe. I partly suspected this for some time. More than once I
have came suddenly upon her, and found our sweet pet sobbing as if
his heart would break. The expression in Jane's face I could not
exactly understand. Light has gradually broken in upon me, and now I
am satisfied that she has abused him shamefully."
"It is too true. Since my suspicions were fully aroused, I have
asked Hannah about it, and she, unwillingly, has confirmed my own
"Unwillingly! It was her duty to have let you know this voluntarily.
Treat my little angel Charley unkindly! The wretch! She doesn't
remain in this house a day longer."
"So I have fully determined. I am afraid that Jane has a wretched
disposition. It is bad enough to steal, but to ill-treat a helpless,
innocent babe, is fiend-like."
Jane was accordingly dismissed.
"Poor creature!" said Mrs. May, after Jane had left the house; "I
feel sorry for her. She is, after all, the worst enemy to herself. I
don't know what will become of her."
"She'll get a place somewhere."
"Yes, I suppose so. But, I hope she won't refer to me for her
character. I don't know what I should say, if she did."
"If I couldn't say any good, I wouldn't say any harm, Ella. It's
rather a serious matter to break down the character of a poor girl."
"I know it is; for that is all they have to depend upon. I shall
have to smooth it over some how, I suppose."
"Yes: put the best face you can upon it. I have no doubt but she
will do better in another place."
On the next day, sure enough, a lady called to ask about the
character of Jane.
"How long has she been with you?" was one of the first questions
"About six months," replied Mrs. May.
"In the capacity of nurse, I think she told me?"
"Yes. She was my nurse."
"Was she faithful?"
This was a trying question. But it had to be answered promptly, and
it was so answered.
"Yes, I think I may call her quite a faithful nurse. She never
refused to carry my little boy out; and always kept him very clean."
"She kept him nice, did she? Well, that is a recommendation. And I
want somebody who will not be above taking my baby into the street.
But how is her temper?"
"A little warm sometimes. But then, you know, perfection is not to
be attained any where."
"No, that is very true. You think her a very good nurse?"
"Yes, quite equal to the general run."
"I thank you very kindly," said the lady rising. "I hope I shall
find, in Jane, a nurse to my liking."
"I certainly hope so," replied Mrs. May, as she attended her to the
"What do you think?" said Mrs. May to her husband, when he returned
in the evening.--"That Jane had the assurance to send a lady here to
inquire about her character."
"She is a pretty cool piece of goods, I should say. But, I suppose
she trusted to your known kind feelings, not to expose her."
"No doubt that was the reason. But, I can tell her that I was
strongly tempted to speak out the plain truth. Indeed, I could
hardly contain myself when the lady told me that she wanted her to
nurse a little infant. I thought of dear Charley, and how she had
neglected and abused him--the wretched creature! But I restrained
myself, and gave her as good a character as I could."
"That was right. We should not let our indignant feelings govern us
in matters of this kind. We can never err on the side of kindness."
"No, I am sure we cannot."
Mrs. Campbell, the lady who had called upon Mrs. May, felt quite
certain that, in obtaining Jane for a nurse, she had been fortunate.
She gave, confidently, to her care, a babe seven months old. At
first, from a mother's natural instinct, she kept her eye upon Jane;
but every thing going on right, she soon ceased to observe her
closely. This was noted by the nurse, who began to breathe with more
freedom. Up to this time, the child placed in her charge had
received the kindest attentions. Now, however, her natural
indifference led her to neglect him in various little ways,
unnoticed by the mother, but felt by the infant. Temptations were
also thrown in her way by the thoughtless exposure of money and
jewelry. Mrs. Campbell supposed, of course, that she was honest, or
she would have been notified of the fact by Mrs. May, of whom she
had inquired Jane's character; and, therefore, never thought of
being on her guard in this respect. Occasionally he could not help
thinking that there ought to be more money in her purse than there
was. But she did not suffer this thought to rise into a suspicion of
unfair dealing against any one. The loss of a costly breast pin, the
gift of a mother long since passed into the invisible world, next
worried her mind; but, even this did not cause her to suspect that
any thing was wrong with her nurse.
This the time passed on, many little losses of money and valued
articles disturbing and troubling the mind of Mrs. Campbell, until
it became necessary to wean her babe. This duty was assigned to
Jane, who took the infant to sleep with her. On the first night, it
cried for several hours--in fact, did not permit Jane to get more
than a few minutes sleep at a time all night. Her patience was tried
severely. Sometimes she would hold the distressed child with angry
violence to her bosom, while it screamed with renewed energy; and
then, finding that it still continued to cry, toss it from her upon
the bed, and let it lie, still screaming, until fear lest its mother
should be tempted to come to her distressed babe, would cause her
again to take it to her arms. A hard time had that poor child of it
on that first night of its most painful experience in the world. It
was scolded, shaken, and even whipped by the unfeeling nurse, until,
at last, worn out nature yielded, and sleep threw its protecting
mantle over the wearied babe.
"How did you get along with Henry?" was the mother's eager question,
as she entered Jane's room soon after daylight.
"O very well, ma'am," returned Jane.
"I heard him cry dreadfully in the night. Several times I thought I
would come in and take him."
"Yes, ma'am, he did scream once or twice very hard; but he soon gave
up, and has long slept as soundly as you now see him."
"Dear little fellow!" murmured the mother in a trembling voice. She
stooped down and kissed him tenderly--tears were in her eyes.
On the next night, Henry screamed again for several hours. Jane, had
she felt an affection for the child, and, from that affection been
led to soothe it with tenderness, might easily have lulled it into
quiet; but her ill-nature disturbed the child. After worrying with
it a long time, she threw it from her with violence, exclaiming as
she did so--
"I'll fix you to-morrow night! There'll be no more of this. They
needn't think I'm going to worry out my life for their cross-grained
She stopped. For the babe had suddenly ceased crying. Lifting it up,
quickly, she perceived, by the light of the lamp, that its face was
very white, and its lips blue. In alarm, she picked it up and sprang
from the bed. A little water thrown into its face, soon revived it.
But the child did not cry again, and soon fell away into sleep. For
a long time Jane sat partly up in bed, leaning over on her arm, and
looking into little Henry's face. He breathed freely, and seemed to
be as well as ever. She did not wake until morning. When she did,
she found the mother bending over her, and gazing earnestly down
into the face of her sleeping babe. The incident that had occurred
in the night glanced through her mind, and caused her to rise up and
look anxiously at the child. Its sweet, placid face, at once
"He slept better last night," remarked Mrs. Campbell.
"O, yes. He didn't cry any at all, hardly."
"Heaven bless him!" murmured the mother, bending over and kissing
On the next morning, when she awoke, Mrs. Campbell felt a strange
uneasiness about her child. Without waiting to dress herself, she
went softly over to the room where Jane slept. It was only a little
after day-light. She found both the child and nurse asleep. There
was something in the atmosphere of the room that oppressed her
lungs, and something peculiar in its odor. Without disturbing Jane,
she stood for several minutes looking into the face of Henry.
Something about it troubled her. It was not so calm as usual, nor
had his skin that white transparency so peculiar to a babe.
"Jane," she at length said, laying her hand upon the nurse.
Jane roused up.
"How did Henry get along last night, Jane?"
"Very well, indeed, ma'am; he did not cry at all."
"Do you think he looks well?"
Jane turned her eyes to the face of the child, and regarded it for
"O, yes, ma'am, he looks very well; he has been sleeping sound all
Thus assured, Mrs. Campbell regarded Henry for a few minutes longer,
and then left the room. But her heart was not at ease. There was a
weight upon it, and it labored in its office heavily.
"Still asleep," she said, about an hour after, coming into Jane's
room. "It is not usual for him to sleep so long in the morning."
Jane turned away from the penetrating glance of the mother, and
"He has been worried out for the last two nights. That is the
reason, I suppose."
Mrs. Campbell said no more, but lifted the child in her arms, and
carried it to her own chamber. There she endeavored to awaken it,
but, to her alarm, she found that it still slept heavily in spite of
all her efforts.
Running down into the parlor with it, where her husband sat reading
the morning papers, she exclaimed:
"Oh, Henry! I'm afraid that Jane has been giving this child
something to make him sleep. See! I cannot awake him. Something is
wrong, depend upon it!"
Mr. Campbell took the babe and endeavored to arouse him, but without
"Call her down here," he then said, in a quick, resolute voice.
Jane was called down.
"What have you given this child?" asked Mr. Campbell, peremptorily.
"Nothing," was the positive answer. "What could I have given him?"
"Call the waiter."
Jane left the room, and in a moment after the waiter entered.
"Go for Doctor B---- as fast as you can, and say to him I must see
The waiter left the house in great haste. In about twenty minutes
Dr. B---- arrived.
"Is there any thing wrong about this child?" Mr. Campbell asked,
placing little Henry in the doctor's arms.
"There is," was replied, after the lapse of about half a minute.
"What have you been giving it."
"Nothing. But we are afraid the nurse has."
"Somebody has been giving it a powerful anodyne, that is certain.
This is no natural sleep. Where is the nurse? let me see her."
Jane was sent for, but word was soon brought that she was not to be
found. She had, in fact, bundled up her clothes, and hastily and
quietly left the house. This confirmed the worst fears of both
parents and physician. But, if any doubt remained, a vial of
laudanum and a spoon, found in the washstand drawer in Jane's room,
Then most prompt and active treatment was resorted to by Doctor
B---- in the hope of saving the child. But his anxious efforts were
in vain. The deadly narcotic had taken entire possession of the
whole system; had, in fact, usurped the seat of life, and was
poisoning its very fountain. At day dawn on the next morning the
flickering lamp went out, and the sad parents looked their last look
upon their living child.
"I have heard most dreadful news," Mrs. May said to her husband, on
his return home that day.
"You have! What is it?"
"Jane has poisoned Mrs. Campbell's child!"
"Ella!" and Mr. May started from his chair.
"It is true. She had it to wean, and gave it such a dose of
laudanum, that it died."
"Dreadful! What have they done with her?"
"She can't be found, I am told."
"You recommended her to Mrs. Campbell."
"Yes. But I didn't believe she was wicked enough for that."
"Though it is true she ill-treated little Charley, and we knew it. I
don't see how you can ever forgive yourself. I am sure that I don't
feel like ever again looking Mr. Campbell in the face."
"But, Mr. May, you know very well that you didn't want me to say any
thing against Jane to hurt her character."
"True. And it is hard to injure a poor fellow creature by blazoning
her faults about. But I had no idea that Jane was such a wretch!"
"We knew that she would steal, and that she was unkind to children;
and yet, we agreed to recommend her to Mrs. Campbell."
"But it was purely out of kind feelings for the girl, Ella."
"Yes. But is that genuine kindness? Is it real charity? I fear not."
Mr. May was silent. The questions probed him to the quick. Let every
one who is good-hearted in the sense that Mr. May was, ask seriously
the same questions.
SLOW AND SURE.
"YOU'D better take the whole case. These goods will sell as fast as
they can be measured off."
The young man to whom this was said by the polite and active partner
in a certain jobbing house in Philadelphia, shook his head and
"No, Mr. Johnson. Three pieces are enough for my sales. If they go
off quickly, I can easily get more."
"I don't know about that, Mr. Watson," replied the jobber. "I shall
be greatly mistaken if we have a case of these goods left by the end
of a week. Every one who looks at them, buys. Miller bought two
whole cases this morning. In the original packages, we sell them at
a half cent per yard lower than by the piece."
"If they are gone, I can buy something else," said the cautious
"Then you won't let me sell you a case?"
"You buy too cautiously," said Johnson.
"Do you think so?"
"I know so. The fact is, I can sell some of your neighbors as much
in an hour as I can sell you in a week. We jobbers would starve if
there were no more active men in the trade than you are, friend
Watson smiled in a quiet, self-satisfied way as he replied--
"The number of wholesale dealers might be diminished; but failures
among them would be of less frequent occurrence. Slow and sure, is
"Slow and sure don't make much headway in these times. Enterprise is
the word. A man has to be swift-footed to keep up with the general
"I don't expect to get rich in a day," said Watson.
"You'll hardly be disappointed in your expectation," remarked
Johnson, a little sarcastically. His customer did not notice the
feeling his tones expressed, but went on to select a piece or two of
goods, here and there, from various packages, as the styles happened
to suit him.
"Five per cent. off for cash, I suppose," said Watson, after
completing his purchase.
"Oh, certainly," replied the dealer. "Do you wish to cash the bill?"
"Yes; I wish to do a cash business as far as I can. It is rather
slow work at first; but it is safest, and sure to come out right in
"You're behind the times, Watson," said Johnson, shaking his head.
"Tell me--who can do the most profitable business, a man with a
capital of five thousand dollars, or a man with twenty thousand?"
"The latter, of course."
"Very well. Don't you understand that credit is capital?"
"It isn't cash capital."
"What is the difference, pray, between the profit on ten thousand
dollars' worth of goods purchased on time or purchased for cash?"
"Just five hundred dollars," said Watson.
"How do you make that out?" The jobber did not see the meaning of
"You discount five per cent. for cash, don't you?" replied Watson,
"True. But, if you don't happen to have the ten thousand dollars
cash, at the time you wish to make a purchase, don't you see what an
advantage credit gives you? Estimate the profit at twenty per cent.
on a cash purchase, and your credit enables you to make fifteen per
cent. where you would have made nothing."
"All very good theory," said Watson. "It looks beautiful on paper.
Thousands have figured themselves out rich in this way, but, alas!
discovered themselves poor in the end. If all would work just
right--if the thousands of dollars of goods bought on credit would
invariably sell at good profit and in time to meet the purchase
notes, then your credit business would be first rate. But, my little
observation tells me that this isn't always the case--that your
large credit men are forever on the street, money hunting, instead
of in their stores looking after their business. Instead of getting
discounts that add to their profits, they are constantly suffering
discounts of the other kind; and, too often, these, and the
accumulating stock of unsaleable goods--the consequence of credit
temptations in purchasing--reduce the fifteen per cent. you speak of
down to ten, and even five per cent. A large business makes large
store-expenses; and these eat away a serious amount of small profits
on large sales. Better sell twenty thousand dollars' worth of goods
at twenty per cent. profit, than eighty thousand at five per cent.
You can do it with less labor, less anxiety, and at less cost for
rent and clerk hire. At least, Mr. Johnson, this is my mode of
"Well, plod along," replied Johnson. "Little boats keep near the
shore. But, let me tell you, my young friend, your mind is rather
too limited for a merchant of this day. There is Mortimer, who began
business about the time you did. How much do you think he has made
by a good credit?"
"I'm sure I don't know."
"Fifty thousand dollars."
"And by the next turn of fortune's wheel, may lose it all."
"Not he. Mortimer, though young, is too shrewd a merchant for that.
Do you know that he made ten thousand by the late rise in cotton;
and all without touching a dollar in his business?"
"I heard something of it. But, suppose prices had receded instead of
advancing? What of this good credit, then?"
"You're too timid--too prudent, Watson," said the merchant, "and
will be left behind in the race for prosperity by men of half your
"No matter; I will be content," was the reply of Watson.
It happened, a short time after this little interchange of views on
business matters, that Watson met the daughter of Mr. Johnson in a
company where he chanced to be. She was an accomplished and
interesting young woman, and pleased Watson particularly; and it is
but truth to say, that she was equally well pleased with him.
The father, who was present, saw, with a slight feeling of
disapprobation, the lively conversation that passed between the
young man and his daughter; and when an occasion offered, a day or
two afterwards, made it a point to refer to him in a way to give the
impression that he held him in light estimation. Flora, that was the
daughter's name, did not appear to notice his remark. One evening,
not long after this, as the family of Mr. Johnson were about leaving
the tea-table, where they had remained later than usual, a domestic
announced that there was a gentleman in the parlor.
"Who is it?" inquired Flora.
"Mr. Mortimer," was answered.
An expression of dislike came into the face of Flora, as she said--
"He didn't ask for me?"
"Yes," was the servant's reply.
"Tell him that I'm engaged, Nancy."
"No, no!" said Mr. Johnson, quickly. "This would not be right. _Are_
"That means, father, that I don't wish to see him; and he will so
"Don't wish to see him? Why not?"
"Because I don't like him."
"Don't like him?" Mr. Johnson's manner was slightly impatient.
"Perhaps you don't know him."
The way in which her father spoke, rather embarrassed Flora. She
cast down her eye and stood for a few moments.
"Tell Mr. Mortimer that I will see him in a little while," she then
said, and, as the domestic retired to give the answer, she ascended
to her chamber to make some slight additions to her toilet.
To meet the young man by constraint, as it were, was only to
increase in Flora's mind the dislike she had expressed. So coldly
and formally was Mortimer received, that he found his visit rather
unpleasant than agreeable, and retired, after sitting an hour,
somewhat puzzled as to the real estimation in which he was held by
the lady, for whom he felt more than a slight preference.
Mr. Johnson was very much inclined to estimate others by a
money-standard of valuation. A man was a man, in his eyes, when he
possessed those qualities of mind that would enable him to make his
way in the world--in other words, to get rich. It was this ability
in Mortimer that elevated him in his regard, and produced a feeling
of pleasure when he saw him inclined to pay attention to his
daughter. And it was the apparent want of this ability in Watson,
that caused him to be lightly esteemed.
Men like Mr. Johnson are never very wise in their estimates of
character; nor do they usually adopt the best means of attaining
their ends when they meet with opposition. This was illustrated in
the present case. Mortimer was frequently referred to in the
presence of Flora, and praised in the highest terms; while the bare
mention of Watson's name was sure to occasion a series of
disparaging remarks. The effect was just the opposite of what was
intended. The more her father said in favor of the thrifty young
merchant, the stronger was the repugnance felt towards him by Flora;
and the more he had to say against Watson, the better she liked him.
This went on until there came a formal application from Mortimer for
the hand of Flora. It was made to Mr. Johnson first, who replied to
the young man that if he could win the maiden's favor, he had his
full approval. But to win the maiden's favor was not so easy a task,
as the young man soon found. His offered hand was firmly declined.
"Am I to consider your present decision as final?" said the young
man, in surprise and disappointment.
"I wish you to do so, Mr. Mortimer," said Flora.
"Your father approves my suit," said he. "I have his full consent to
make you this offer of my hand."
"I cannot but feel flattered at your preference," returned Flora;
"but, to accept your offer, would not be just either to you or
myself. I, therefore, wish you to understand me as being entirely in
This closed the interview and definitely settled the question. When
Mr. Johnson learned that the offer of Mortimer had been declined, he
was very angry with his daughter, and, in the passionate excitement
of his feelings, committed a piece of folly for which he felt an
immediate sense of shame and regret.
The interview between Mr. Mortimer and Flora took place during the
afternoon, and Mr. Johnson learned the result from a note received
from the disappointed young man, just as he was about leaving his
store to return home. Flora did not join the family at the
tea-table, on that evening, for her mind was a good deal disturbed,
and she wished to regain her calmness and self-possession before
meeting her father.
Mr. Johnson was sitting in a moody and angry state of mind about an
hour after supper, when a domestic came into the room and said that
Mr. Watson was in the parlor.
"What does he want here?" asked Mr. Johnson, in a rough, excited
"He asked for Miss Flora," returned the servant.
"Where is she?"
"In her room."
"Well, let her stay there. I'll see him myself."
And without taking time for reflection, Mr. Johnson descended to the
"Mr. Watson," said he, coldly, as the young man arose and advanced
His manner caused the visitor to pause, and let the hand he had
extended fall to his side.
"Well, what is your wish?" asked Mr. Johnson. He looked with knit
brows into Watson's face.
"I have called to see your daughter Flora," returned the young man,
"Then, I wish you to understand that your call is not agreeable,"
said the father of the young lady, with great rudeness of manner.
"Not agreeable to whom?" asked Watson, manifesting no excitement.
"Not agreeable to me," replied Mr. Johnson. "Nor agreeable to any
one in this house."
"Do you speak for your daughter?" inquired the young man.
"I have a right to speak for her, if any one has," was the evasive
Watson bowed respectfully, and, without a word more, retired from
The calm dignity with which he had received the rough treatment of
Mr. Johnson, rebuked the latter, and added a feeling of shame to his
other causes of mental disquietude.
On the next day Flora received a letter from Watson, in part in
"I called, last evening, but was not so fortunate as to see you.
Your father met me in the parlor, and on learning that my visit was
to you, desired me not to come again. This circumstance makes it
imperative on me to declare what might have been sometime longer
delayed--my sincere regard for you. If you feel towards me as your
father does, then I have not a word more to say; but I do not
believe this, and, therefore, I cannot let his disapproval, in a
matter so intimately concerning my happiness, and it may be yours,
influence me to the formation of a hasty decision. I deeply regret
your father's state of feeling. His full approval of my suit, next
to yours, I feel to be in every way desirable.
"But, why need I multiply words? Again, I declare that I feel for
you a sincere affection. If you can return this, say so with as
little delay as possible; and if you cannot, be equally frank with
Watson did not err in his belief that Flora reciprocated his tender
sentiments; nor was he kept long in suspense. She made an early
reply, avowing her own attachment, but urging him; for her sake, to
do all in his power to overcome her father's prejudices. But this
was no easy task. In the end, however, Mr. Johnson, who saw, too
plainly, that opposition on his part would be of no avail, yielded a
kind of forced consent that the plodding, behind-the-age young
merchant, should lead Flora to the altar. That his daughter should
be content with such a man, was to him a source of deep
mortification. His own expectations in regard to her had been of a
far higher character.
"He'll never set the world on fire;" "A man of no enterprise;" "A
dull plodder;" with similar allusions to his son-in-law, were
overheard by Mr. Johnson on the night of the wedding party, and
added no little to the ill-concealed chagrin from which he suffered.
They were made by individuals who belonged to the new school of
business men, of whom Mortimer was a representative. He, too, was
present. His disappointment in not obtaining the hand of Flora, had
been solaced in the favor of one whose social standing and
money-value was regarded as considerably above that of the maiden
who had declined the offer of his hand. He saw Flora given to
another without a feeling of regret. A few months afterwards, he
married the daughter of a gentleman who considered himself fortunate
in obtaining a son-in-law that promised to be one of the richest men
in the city.
It was with a very poor grace that Mr. Johnson bore his
disappointment; so poor, that he scarcely treated the husband of his
daughter with becoming respect. To add to his uncomfortable feelings
by contrast, Mortimer built himself a splendid dwelling almost
beside the modest residence of Mr. Watson, and after furnishing it
in the most costly and elegant style, gave a grand entertainment.
Invitations to this were not extended to either Mr. Johnson's family
or to that of his son-in-law--an omission that was particularly
galling to the former.
A few weeks subsequent to this, Mr. Johnson stood beside Mr. Watson
in an auction room. To the latter a sample of new goods, just
introduced, was knocked down, and when asked by the auctioneer how
many cases he would take, he replied "Two."
"Say ten," whispered Mr. Johnson in his ear.
"Two cases are enough for my sales," quietly returned the young man.
"But they're a great bargain. You can sell them at an advance,"
urged Mr. Johnson.
"Perhaps so. But I'd rather not go out of my regular line of
By this time, the auctioneer's repeated question of "Who'll take
another case?" had been responded to by half a dozen voices, and the
lot of goods was gone.
"You're too prudent," said Mr. Johnson, with some impatience in his
"No," replied the young man, with his usual calm tone and quiet
smile. "Slow and sure--that is my motto. I only buy the quantity of
an article that I am pretty sure will sell. Then I get a certain
profit, and am not troubled with paying for goods that are lying on
my shelves and depreciating in value daily."
"But these wouldn't have lain on your shelves. You could have sold
them at a quarter of a cent advance to-morrow, and thus cleared
sixty or seventy dollars."
"That is mere speculation."
"Call it what you will; it makes no difference. The chance of making
a good operation was before you, and you did not improve it. You
will never get along at your snail's pace."
There was, in the voice of Mr. Johnson, a tone of contempt that
stung Watson more than any previous remark or, action of his
father-in-law. Thrown, for a moment, off his guard, he replied with
"You may be sure of one thing, at least."
"That I shall never embarrass you with any of my fine operations."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Mr. Johnson.
"Time will explain the remark," replied Watson, turning away, and
retiring from the auction room.
A coolness of some months was the consequence of this little
Time proves all things. At the end of fifteen years, Mortimer, who
had gone on in the way he had begun, was reputed to be worth two
hundred thousand dollars. Every thing he touched turned to money; at
least, so it appeared. His whole conversation was touching handsome
operations in trade; and not a day passed in which he had not some
story of gains to tell. Yet, with all his heavy accumulations, he
was always engaged in money raising, and his line of discounts was
enormous. Such a thing as proper attention to business was almost
out of the question, for nearly his whole time was taken up in
financiering--and some of his financial schemes were on a pretty
grand scale. Watson, on the other hand, had kept plodding along in
the old way, making his regular business purchases, and gradually
extending his operations, as his profits, changing into capital,
enabled him to do so. He was not anxious to get rich fast; at least,
not so anxious as to suffer himself to be tempted from a safe and
prudent course; and was, therefore, content to do well. By this
time, his father-in-law began to understand him a little better than
at first, and to appreciate him more highly. On more than one
occasion, he had been in want of a few thousand dollars in an
emergency, when the check of Watson promptly supplied the pressing
As to the real ability of Watson, few were apprised, for he never
made a display for the sake of establishing a credit. But it was
known to some, that he generally had a comfortable balance in the
bank, and to others that he never exchanged notes, nor asked an
endorser on his business paper. He always purchased for cash, and
thus obtained his goods from five to seven per cent cheaper than his
neighbors; and rarely put his business paper in bank for discount at
a longer date than sixty days. Under this system, his profits were,
usually, ten per cent. more than the profits of many who were
engaged in the same branch of trade. His credit was so good, that
the bank where he kept his account readily gave him all the money he
asked on his regular paper, without requiring other endorsements;
while many of his more dashing neighbors, who were doing half as
much business again, were often obliged to go upon the street to
raise money at from one to two per cent. a month. Moreover, as he
was always to be found at his store, and ready to give his personal
attention to customers, he was able to make his own discriminations
and to form his own estimates of men--and these were generally
correct. The result of this was, that he gradually attracted a class
of dealers who were substantial men; and, in consequence, was little
troubled with bad sales.
Up to this time, there had been but few changes in the external
domestic arrangements of Mr. Watson. He had moved twice, and, each
time, into a larger house. His increasing family made this
necessary. But, while all was comfortable and even elegant in his
dwelling, there was no display whatever.
One day, about this period, as Watson was walking with his
father-in-law, they both paused to look at a handsome house that was
going up in a fashionable part of Walnut street. By the side of it
was a large building lot.
"I have about made up my mind to buy this lot," remarked Watson.
"You?" Mr. Johnson spoke in a tone of surprise.
"Yes. The price is ten thousand dollars. Rather high; but I like the
"What will you do with it?" inquired Mr. Johnson.
"Build upon it."
"As an investment?"
"No. I want a dwelling for myself."
"Indeed! I was not aware that you had any such intentions."
"Oh, yes. I have always intended to build a house so soon as I felt
able to do it according to my own fancy."
Mr. Johnson felt a good deal surprised at this. No more was said,
and the two men walked on.
"How's this? For sale!" said Mr. Johnson. They were opposite the
elegant dwelling of Mr. Mortimer, upon which was posted a hand-bill
setting forth that the property was for sale.
"So it seems," was Watson's quiet answer.
"Why should he sell out?" added Mr. Johnson. "Perhaps he is going to
Europe to make a tour with his family," he suggested.
"It is more probable," said Watson, "that he has got to the end of
"What do you mean by that remark?"
"Is obliged to sell in order to save himself."
"Oh, no! Mortimer is rich."
"So it is said. But I never call a man rich whose paper is floating
about by thousands on the street seeking purchasers at two per cent.
Just then the carriage of Mortimer drove up to his door, and Mrs.
Mortimer descended to the pavement and passed into the house. Her
face was pale, and had a look of deep distress. It was several years
since Mr. Johnson remembered to have seen her, and he was almost
startled at the painful change which had taken place.
A little while afterwards he looked upon the cheerful, smiling face
of his daughter Flora, and there arose in his heart, almost
involuntarily, an emotion of thankfulness that she was not the wife
of Mortimer. Could he have seen what passed a few hours afterwards,
in the dwelling of the latter, he would have been more thankful than
It was after eleven o'clock when Mortimer returned home that night.
He had been away since morning. It was rarely that he dined with his
family, but usually came home early in the evening. Since seven
o'clock, the tea-table had been standing in the floor, awaiting his
return. At eight o'clock, as he was still absent, supper was served
to the children, who, soon after, retired for the night. It was
after eleven o'clock as we have said, before Mortimer returned. His
face was pale and haggard. He entered quietly, by means of his
night-key, and went noiselessly up to his chamber. He found his wife
lying across the bed, where, wearied with watching, she had thrown
herself and fallen asleep. For a few moments he stood looking at
her, with a face in which agony and affection were blended. Then he
clasped his hands suddenly against his temples, and groaned aloud.
That groan penetrated the ears of his sleeping wife, who started up
with an exclamation of alarm, as her eyes saw the gesture and
expression of her husband.
"Oh, Henry! what is the matter? Where have you been? Why do you look
so?" she eagerly inquired.
Mortimer did not reply; but continued standing like a statue of
"Henry! Henry!" cried his wife, springing towards him, and laying
her hands upon his arm. "Dear husband! what is the matter?"
"Ruined! Ruined!" now came hoarsely from the lips of Mortimer, and,
with another deep groan, he threw himself on a sofa, and wrung his
hands in uncontrollable anguish.
"Oh, Henry! speak! What does this mean?" said his wife, the tears
now gushing from her eyes. "Tell me what has happened."
But, "Ruined! Ruined!" was all the wretched man would say for a long
time. At last, however, he made a few vague explanations, to the
effect that he would be compelled to stop payment on the next day.
"I thought," said Mrs. Mortimer, "that the sale of this house was to
afford you all the money you needed."
"It is not sold yet," was all his reply to this. He did not explain
that it was under a heavy mortgage, and that, even if sold, the
amount realized would be a trifle compared with his need on the
following day. During the greater part of the night, Mortimer walked
the floor of his chamber; and, for a portion of the time, his wife
moved like a shadow by his side. But few words passed between them.
When the day broke, Mrs. Mortimer was lying on the bed, asleep.
Tears were on her cheeks. In a crib, beside her, was a fair-haired
child, two years old, breathing sweetly in his innocent slumber; and
over this crib bent the husband and father. His face was now calm,
but very pale, and its expression of sadness, as he gazed upon his
sleeping child, was heart-touching. For many minutes he stood over
the unconscious slumberer; then stooping down, he touched its
forehead lightly with his lips, while a low sigh struggled up from
his bosom. Turning, then, his eyes upon his wife, he gazed at her
for some moments, with a sad, pitying look. He was bending to kiss
her, when a movement, as if she were about to awaken, caused him to
step back, and stand holding his breath, as if he feared the very
sound would disturb her. She did not open her eyes, however, but
turned over, with a low moan of suffering, and an indistinct murmur
of his name.
Mortimer did not again approach the bed-side, but stepped
noiselessly to the chamber door, and passed into the next room,
where three children, who made up the full number of his household
treasures, were buried in tranquil sleep. Long he did not linger
here. A hurried glance was taken of each beloved face, and a kiss
laid lightly upon the lips of each. Then he left the room, moving
down the stairs with a step of fear. A moment or two more, and he
was beyond the threshold of his dwelling.
When Mrs. Mortimer started up from unquiet slumber, as the first
beams of the morning sun fell upon her face, she looked around,
eagerly, for her husband. Not seeing him, she called his name. No
answer was received, and she sprung from the bed. As she did so, a
letter placed conspicuously on the bureau met her eyes. Eagerly
breaking the seal, she read this brief sentence:
"Circumstances make it necessary for me to leave the city by the
earliest conveyance. Say not a word of this to any one--not even to
your father. My safety depends on your silence. I will write to you
in a little while. May Heaven give you strength to bear the trials
through which you are about to pass!"
But for the instant fear for her husband, which this communication
brought into the mind of Mrs. Mortimer, the shock would have
rendered her insensible. He was in danger, and upon her discretion
depended his safety. This gave her strength for the moment. Her
first act was to destroy the note. Next she strove to repress the
wild throbbings of her heart, and to assume a calm exterior. Vain
efforts! She was too weak for the trial; and who can wonder that she
Mr. Johnson was sitting in his store about half past three o'clock
that afternoon, when a man came in and asked him for the payment of
a note of five thousand dollars. He was a Notary.
"A protest!" exclaimed Mr. Johnson, in astonishment. "What does this
"I don't understand this," said he, after a moment or two. "I have
no paper out for that amount falling due to-day. Let me see it?"
The note was handed to him.
"It's a forgery!" said he, promptly. "To whom is it payable?" he
added. "To Mortimer, as I live!"
And he handed it back to the Notary, who departed.
Soon after he saw the father-in-law of Mortimer go hurriedly past
his store. A glimpse of his countenance showed that he was strongly
"Have you heard the news?" asked his son-in-law, coming in, half an
"Mortimer has been detected in a forgery!"
"He has forged my name also."
"Yes. A note for five thousand dollars was presented to me by the
Notary a little while ago."
"Is it possible? But this is no loss to you."
"If he has resorted to forgery to sustain himself," replied Mr.
Johnson, looking serious, "his affairs are, of course, in a
"I am on his paper to at least twenty thousand dollars."
"Such, I am sorry to say, is the case. And to meet that paper will
try me severely. Oh, dear! How little I dreamed of this! I thought
him one of the soundest men in the city."
"I am pained to hear that you are so deeply involved," said Mr.
Watson. "But, do not let it trouble you too much. I will defer my
building intentions to another time, and let you have whatever money
you may need."
Mr. Johnson made no answer. His eyes were upon the floor and his
thoughts away back to the time when he had suffered the great
disappointment of seeing his daughter marry the slow, plodding
Watson, instead of becoming the wife of the enterprising Mortimer.
"I will try, my son," said he, at length, in a subdued voice, "to
get through without drawing upon you too largely. Ah, me! How blind
I have been."
"You may depend on me for at least twenty thousand dollars," replied
Watson, cheerfully; "and for even more, if it is needed."
It was soon known that Mortimer had committed extensive forgeries
upon various persons, and that he had left the city. Officers were
immediately despatched for his arrest, and in a few days he was
brought back as a criminal. In his ruin, many others were involved.
Among these was his father-in-law, who was stripped of every dollar
in his old age.
"Slow and sure--slow and sure. Yes, Watson was right." Thus mused
Mr. Johnson, a few months afterwards, on hearing that Mortimer was
arraigned before the criminal court, to stand his trial for forgery.
"It is the safest and the best way, and certainly leads to
prosperity. Ah, me! How are we drawn aside into false ways through
our eagerness to obtain wealth by a nearer road than that of patient
industry in legitimate trade. Where one is successful, a dozen are
ruined by this error. Slow and sure! Yes, that is the true doctrine.
Watson was right, as the result has proved. Happy for me that his
was a better experiment than that of the envied Mortimer!"
THE SCHOOL GIRL.
"WHERE now?" said Frederick Williams to his friend Charles Lawson,
on entering his own office and finding the latter, carpet-bag in
hand, awaiting his arrival.
"Off for a day or two on a little business affair," replied Lawson.
"Business! What have you to do with business?"
"Not ordinary, vulgar business," returned Lawson with a slight toss
of the head and an expression of contempt.
"Oh! It's of a peculiar nature?"
"It is--very peculiar; and, moreover, I want the good offices of a
friend, to enable me the more certainly to accomplish my purposes."
"Come! sit down and explain yourself," said Williams.
"Haven't a moment to spare. The boat goes in half an hour."
"The New Haven boat. So come, go along with me to the slip, and
we'll talk the matter over by the way."
"I'm all attention," said Williams, as the two young men stepped
forth upon the pavement.
"Well, you must know," began Lawson, "that I have a first rate love
affair on my hands."
"Now don't smile; but hear me."
"Go on--I'm all attention."
"You know old Everett?"
"Thomas Everett, the silk importer?"
"I know something about him."
"You know, I presume, that he has a pretty fair looking daughter?"
"And I know," replied Williams, "that when 'pretty fair looking' is
said, pretty much all is said in her favor."
"Not by a great deal," was the decided answer of Lawson.
"Pray what is there beyond this that a man can call attractive?"
"Her father's money."
"I didn't think of that."
"No. But it would take the saving influence of a pretty large sum to
give her a marriageable merit in my eyes."
"Gold hides a multitude of defects, you know, Fred."
"It does; but it has to be heaped up very high to cover a wife's
defects, if they be as radical as those in Caroline Everett. Why, to
speak out the plain, homespun truth, the girl's a fool!"
"She isn't over bright, Fred, I know," replied Lawson. "But to call
her a fool, is to use rather a broad assertion."
"She certainly hasn't good common sense. I would be ashamed of her
in company a dozen times a day if she were any thing to me."
"She's young, you know, Fred."
"Yes, a young and silly girl."
"Just silly enough for my purpose. But, she will grow older and
wiser, you know. Young and silly is a very good fault."
"Where is she now?"
"At a boarding school some thirty miles from New Haven. Do you know
why her father sent her there?"
"She would meet me on her way to and from school while in the city,
and the old gentleman had, I presume, some objections to me as a
"And not without reason," replied Williams.
"I could not have asked him to do a thing more consonant with my
wishes," continued Lawson. "Caroline told me where she was going,
and I was not long in making a visit to the neighborhood. Great
attention is paid to physical development in the school, and the
young ladies are required to walk, daily, in the open air, amid the
beautiful, romantic, and secluded scenery by which the place is
surrounded. They walk alone, or in company, as suits their fancies.
Caroline chose to walk alone when I was near at hand; and we met in
a certain retired glen, where the sweet quiet of nature was broken
only by the dreamy murmur of a silvery stream, and there we talked
of love. It is not in the heart of a woman to withstand a scene like
this. I told, in burning words, my passion, and she hearkened and
was won." Lawson paused for some moments; but, as Williams made no
remark, he continued--
"It is hopeless to think of gaining her father's consent to a
marriage. He is pence-proud, and I, as you know, am penniless."
"I do not think he would be likely to fancy you for a son-in-law,"
"I have the best of reasons, for knowing that he would not. He has
already spoken of me to his daughter in very severe terms."
"As she has informed you?"
"Yes. But, like a sensible girl, she prefers consulting her own
taste in matters of the heart."
"A very sensible girl, certainly!"
"Isn't she! Well, as delays are dangerous, I have made up my mind to
consummate this business as quickly as possible. You know how hard
pressed I am in certain quarters, and how necessary it is that I
should get my pecuniary matters in a more stable position. In a
word, then, my business, on the present occasion, is to remove
Caroline from school, it being my opinion that she has completed her
"Has she consented to this?"
"No; but she won't require any great persuasion. I'll manage all
that. What I want you to do is, first, to engage me rooms at
Howard's, and, second, to meet me at the boat, day after to-morrow,
with a carriage."
"Where will you have the ceremony performed?"
"In this city. I have already engaged the Rev. Mr. B---- to do that
little work for me. He will join us at the hotel immediately on our
arrival, and in your presence, as a witness, the knot will be tied."
"All very nicely arranged," said Williams.
"Isn't it! And what is more, the whole thing will go off like clock
work. Of course I can depend on you. You will meet us at the boat."
"I will, certainly."
"Then good by." They were by this time at the landing. The two young
men shook hands, and Lawson sprung on board of the boat, while
Williams returned thoughtfully to his office.
Charles Lawson was a young man having neither principle nor
character. A connection with certain families in New York, added to
a good address, polished manners, and an unblushing assurance, had
given him access to society at certain points, and of this facility
he had taken every advantage. Too idle and dissolute for useful
effort in society, he looked with a cold, calculating baseness to
marriage as the means whereby he was to gain the position at which
he aspired. Possessing no attractive virtues--no personal merits of
any kind, his prospects of a connection, such as he wished to form,
through the medium of any honorable advances, were hopeless, and
this he perfectly well understood. But, the conviction did not in
the least abate the ardor of his purpose. And, in a mean and
dastardly spirit, he approached one young school girl after another,
until he found in Caroline Everett one weak enough to be flattered
by his attentions. The father of Caroline, who was a man of some
discrimination and force of mind, understood his daughter's
character, and knowing the danger to which she was exposed, kept
upon her a watchful eye. Caroline's meetings with Lawson were not
continued long before he became aware of the fact, and he at once
removed her to a school at a distance from the city. It would have
been wiser had he taken her home altogether. Lawson could have
desired no better arrangement, so far as his wishes were concerned.
On the day succeeding that on which Lawson left New York, Caroline
was taking her morning walk with two or three companions, when she
noticed a mark on a certain tree, which she knew as a sign that her
lover was in the neighborhood and awaiting her in the secluded glen,
half a mile distant, where they had already met. Feigning to have
forgotten something, she ran back, but as soon as she was out of
sight of her companions, she glided off with rapid steps in the
direction where she expected to find Lawson. And she was not
"Dear Caroline!" he exclaimed, with affected tenderness, drawing his
arm about her and kissing her cheek, as he met her. "How happy I am
to see you again! Oh! it has seemed months since I looked upon your
sweet young face."
"And yet it is only a week since you were here," returned Caroline,
looking at him fondly.
"I cannot bear this separation. It makes me wretched," said Lawson.
"And I am miserable," responded Caroline, with a sigh, and her eyes
fell to the ground. "Miserable," she repeated.
"I love you, tenderly, devotedly," said Lawson, as he tightly
clasped the hand he had taken: "and it is my most ardent wish to
make you happy. Oh! why should a parent's mistaken will interpose
between us and our dearest wishes?"
Caroline leaned toward the young man, but did not reply.
"Is there any hope of his being induced to give his consent
"None, I fear," came from the lips of Caroline in a faint whisper.
"Is he so strongly prejudiced against me?"
"Then, what are we to do?"
"To meet, hopelessly, is only to make us the more wretched," said
Lawson. "Better part, and forever, than suffer a martyrdom of
affection like this."
Still closer shrunk the weak and foolish girl to the young man's
side. She was like a bird in the magic circle of the charmer.
"Caroline," said Lawson, after another period of silence, and his
voice was low, tender and penetrating--"Are you willing, for my
sake, to brave your father's anger?"
"For your sake, Charles!" replied Caroline, with sudden enthusiasm.
"Yes--yes. His anger would be light to the loss of your affection."
"Bless your true heart!" exclaimed Lawson. "I knew that I had not
trusted it in vain. And now, my dear girl, let me speak freely of
the nature of my present visit. With you, I believe, that all hope
of your father's consent is vain. But, he is a man of tender
feelings, and loves you as the apple of his eye."
Thus urged the tempter, and Caroline listened eagerly.
"If," he continued, "we precipitate a union--if we put the marriage
rite between us and his strong opposition, that opposition will grow
weak as a withering leaf. He cannot turn from you. He loves you too
Caroline did not answer; but, it needed no words to tell Lawson that
he was not urging his wishes in vain.
"I am here," at length he said, boldly, "for the purpose of taking
you to New York. Will you go with me?"
"For what end?" she whispered.
"To become my wife."
There was no starting, shrinking, nor trembling at this proposal.
Caroline was prepared for it; and, in the blindness of a mistaken
love, ready to do as the tempter wished. Poor lamb! She was to be
led to the slaughter, decked with ribbons and garlands, a victim by
her own consent.
Frederick Williams, the friend of Lawson, was a young attorney, who
had fallen into rather wild company, and strayed to some distance
along the paths of dissipation. But, he had a young and
lovely-minded sister, who possessed much influence over him. The
very sphere of her purity kept him from debasing himself to any
great extent, and ever drew him back from a total abandonment of
himself in the hour of temptation. He had been thrown a good deal
into the society of Lawson, who had many attractive points for young
men about him, and who knew how to adapt himself to the characters
of those with whom he associated. In some things he did not like
Lawson, who, at times, manifested such an entire want of principle,
that he felt shocked. On parting with Lawson at the boat, as we have
seen, he walked thoughtfully away. His mind was far from approving
what he had heard, and the more he reflected upon it, the less
satisfied did he feel. He knew enough of the character of Lawson to
be well satisfied that his marriage with Caroline, who was an
overgrown, weak-minded school girl, would prove the wreck of her
future happiness, and the thought of becoming a party to such a
transaction troubled him. On returning to his office, he found his
sister waiting for him, and, as his eyes rested upon her innocent
young countenance, the idea of her being made the victim of so base
a marriage, flashed with a pang amid his thoughts.
"I will have no part nor lot in this matter," he said, mentally. And
he was in earnest in this resolution. But not long did his mind rest
easy under his assumed passive relation to a contemplated social
wrong, that one word from him might prevent. From the thought of
betraying Lawson's confidence, his mind shrunk with a certain
instinct of honor; while, at the same time, pressed upon him the
irresistible conviction that a deeper dishonor would attach to him
if he permitted the marriage to take place.
The day passed with him uncomfortably enough. The more he thought
about the matter, the more he felt troubled. In the evening, he met
his sister again, and the sight of her made him more deeply
conscious of the responsibility resting upon him. His oft repeated
mental excuse--"It's none of my business," or, "I can't meddle in
other men's affairs," did not satisfy certain convictions of right
and duty that presented themselves with, to him, a strange
distinctness. The thought of his own sister was instantly associated
with the scheme of some false-hearted wretch, involving her
happiness in the way that the happiness of Caroline Everett was to
be involved; and he felt that the man who knew that another was
plotting against her, and did not apprize him of the fact, was
little less than a villain at heart.
On the next day Williams learned that there was a writ out against
the person of Charles Lawson on a charge of swindling, he having
obtained a sum of money from a broker under circumstances construed
by the laws into crime. This fact determined him to go at once to
Mr. Everett, who, as it might be supposed, was deeply agitated at
the painful intelligence he received. His first thought was to
proceed immediately to New Haven, and there rescue his daughter from
the hands of the young man; but on learning the arrangements that
had been made, he, after much reflecting, concluded that it would be
best to remain in New York, and meet them on their arrival.
In the mean time, the foolish girl, whom Lawson had determined to
sacrifice to his base cupidity, was half wild with delighted
anticipation. Poor child! Passion-wrought romances, written by men
and women who had neither right views of life, nor a purpose in
literature beyond gain or reputation, had bewildered her half-formed
reason, and filled her imagination with. unreal pictures. All her
ideas were false or exaggerated. She was a woman, with the mind of
an inexperienced child; if to say this does not savor of
contradiction. Without dreaming that there might be thorns to pierce
her naked feet in the way she was about to enter, she moved forward
with a joyful confidence.
On the day she had agreed to return with Lawson, she met him early
in the afternoon, and started for New Haven, where they spent the
night. On the following day they left in the steamboat for New York.
All his arrangements for the marriage, were fully explained to
Caroline by Lawson, and most of the time that elapsed after leaving
New Haven, was spent in settling their future action in regard to
the family. Caroline was confident that all would be forgiven after
the first outburst of anger on the part of her father, and that they
would be taken home immediately. The cloud would quickly melt in
tears, and then the sky would be purer and brighter than before.
When the boat touched the wharf, Lawson looked eagerly for the
appearance of his friend Williams, and was disappointed, and no
little troubled, at not seeing him. After most of the passengers had
gone on shore, he called a carriage, and was driven to Howard's,
where he ordered a couple of rooms, after first enquiring whether a
friend had not already performed this service for him. His next step
was to write a note to the Rev. Mr. B----, desiring his immediate
attendance, and, also, one to Williams, informing him of his
arrival. Anxiously, and with a nervous fear lest some untoward
circumstance might prevent the marriage he was about effecting with
a silly heiress, did the young man await the response to these
notes, and great was his relief, when informed, after the lapse of
an hour, that the Reverend gentleman, whose attendance he had
desired, was in the house.
A private parlor had been engaged, and in this the ceremony of
marriage was to take place. This parlor adjoined a chamber, in which
Caroline awaited, with a trembling heart, the issue of events. It
was now, for the first time, as she was about taking the final and
irretrievable step, that her resolution began to fail her. Her
father's anger, the grief of her mother, the unknown state upon
which she was about entering, all came pressing upon her thoughts
with a sense of realization such as she had not known before.
Doubts as to the propriety of what she was about doing, came fast
upon her mind. In the nearness of the approaching event, she could
look upon it stripped of its halo of romance. During the two days
that she had been with Lawson, she had seen him in states of absent
thought, when the true quality of his mind wrote itself out upon his
face so distinctly that even a dim-sighted one could read; and more
than once she had felt an inward shrinking from him that was
irrepressible. Weak and foolish as she was, she was yet pure-minded;
and though in the beginning she did not, because her heart was
overlaid with frivolity, perceive the sphere of his impurity, yet
now, as the moment was near at hand when there was to be a
marriage-conjunction, she began to feel this sphere as something
that suffocated her spirit. At length, in the agitation of
contending thoughts and emotions, the heart of the poor girl failed
her, till, in the utter abandonment of feeling, she gave way to a
flood of tears and commenced wringing her hands. At this moment,
having arranged with the clergyman to begin the ceremony forthwith,
Lawson entered her room, and, to his surprise, saw her in tears.
"Oh, Charles!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands and extending them
towards him, "Take me home to my father! Oh, take me home to my
Lawson was confounded at such an unexpected change in Caroline. "You
shall go to your father the moment the ceremony is over," he
replied; "Come! Mr. B---- is all ready."
"Oh, no, no! Take me now! Take me now!" returned the poor girl in an
imploring voice. And she sat before the man who had tempted her from
the path of safety, weeping, and quivering like a leaf in the wind.
"Caroline! What has come over you!" said Lawson, in deep perplexity.
"This is only a weakness. Come! Nerve your heart like a brave, good
girl! Come! It will soon be over."
And he bent down and kissed her wet cheek, while she shrunk from him
with an involuntary dread. But, he drew his arm around her waist,
and almost forced her to rise.
"There now! Dry your tears!" And he placed his handkerchief to her
eyes. "It is but a moment of weakness, Caroline,--of natural
As he said this, he was pressing her forward towards the door of the
apartment where the clergyman (such clergymen disgrace their
profession) awaited their appearance.
"Charles?" said Caroline, with a suddenly constrained calmness--"do
you love me?"
"Better than my own life!" was instantly replied.
"Then take me to my father. I am too young--too weak--too
inexperienced for this."
"The moment we are united you shall go home," returned Lawson. "I
will not hold you back an instant."
"Let me go now, Charles! Oh, let me go now!"
"Are you mad, girl!" exclaimed the young man, losing his
self-control. And, with a strong arm, he forced her into the next
room. For a brief period, the clergyman hesitated, on seeing the
distressed bride. Then he opened the book he held in his hand and
began to read the service. As his voice, in tones of solemnity,
filled the apartment, Caroline grew calmer. She felt like one driven
forward by a destiny against which it was vain to contend. All the
responses had been made by Lawson, and now the clergyman addressed
her. Passively she was about uttering her assentation, when the door
of the room was thrown open, and two men entered.
"Stop!" was instantly cried in a loud, agitated voice, which
Caroline knew to be that of her father, and never did that voice
come to her ears with a more welcome sound.
Lawson started, and moved from her side. While Caroline yet stood
trembling and doubting, the man who had come in with Mr. Everett
approached Lawson, and laying his hand upon him, said--"I arrest you
on a charge of swindling!"
With a low cry of distress, Caroline sprung towards her father; but
he held his hands out towards her as if to keep her off, saying, at
the same time--
"Are you his wife?"
"No, thank Heaven!" fell from her lips.
In the next moment she was in her father's arms, and both were
Narrow indeed was the escape made by Caroline Everett; an escape
which she did not fully comprehend until a few months afterwards,
when the trial of Lawson took place, during which revelations of
villany were made, the recital of which caused her heart to shudder.
Yes, narrow had been her escape! Had her father been delayed a few
moments longer, she would have become the wife of a man soon after
condemned to expiate his crimes against society in the felon's cell!
May a vivid realization of what Caroline Everett escaped, warn other
young girls, who bear a similar relation to society, of the danger
that lurks in their way. Not once in a hundred instances, is a
school girl approached with lover-like attentions, except by a man
who is void of principle; and not once in a hundred instances do
marriages entered upon clandestinely by such persons, prove other
than an introduction to years of wretchedness.
TWO men were walking along a public thoroughfare in New York. One of
them was a young merchant--the other a man past the prime of life,
and belonging to the community of Friends. They were in
conversation, and the manner of the former, earnest and emphatic,
was in marked contrast with the quiet and thoughtful air of the
"There is so much idleness and imposture among the poor," said the
merchant, "that you never know when your alms are going to do harm
or good. The beggar we just passed is able to work; and that woman
sitting at the corner with a sick child in her arms, would be far
better off in the almshouse. No man is more willing to give than I
am, if I only knew where and when to give."
"If we look around us carefully, Mr. Edwards," returned the Quaker,
we need be at no loss on this subject. Objects enough will present
themselves. Virtuous want is, in most cases, unobtrusive, and will
suffer rather than extend a hand for relief. We must seek for
objects of benevolence in by-places. We must turn aside into
"But even then," objected Mr. Edwards, "we cannot be certain that
idleness and vice are not at the basis of the destitution we find. I
have had my doubts whether any who exercise the abilities which God
has given them, need want for the ordinary comforts of life in this
country. In all cases of destitution, there is something wrong, you
may depend upon it."
"Perhaps there is," said the Quaker. "Evil of some kind is ever the
cause of destitution and wretchedness. Such bitter waters as these
cannot flow from a sweet fountain. Still, many are brought to
suffering through the evil ways of others; and many whose own wrong
doings have reacted upon them in unhappy consequences, deeply repent
of the past, and earnestly desire to live better lives in future.
Both need kindness, encouragement, and, it may be, assistance; and
it is the duty of those who have enough and to spare, to stretch
forth their hands to aid, comfort and sustain them."
"Yes. That is true. But, how are we to know who are the real objects
of our benevolence?"
"We have but to open our eyes and see, Mr. Edwards," said the
Quaker. "The objects of benevolence are all around us."
"Show me a worthy object, and you will find me ready to relieve it,"
returned the merchant. "I am not so selfish as to be indifferent to
human suffering. But I think it wrong to encourage idleness and
vice; and for this reason, I never give unless I am certain that the
object who presents himself is worthy."
"True benevolence does not always require us to give alms," said the
Friend. "We may do much to aid, comfort and help on with their
burdens our fellow travellers, and yet not bestow upon them what is
called charity. Mere alms-giving, as thee has intimated, but too
often encourages vice and idleness. But thee desires to find a
worthy object of benevolence. Let us see if we cannot find one, What
have we here?" And as the Quaker said this he paused before a
building, from the door of which protruded a red flag, containing
the words, "Auction this day." On a large card just beneath the flag
was the announcement, "Positive sale of unredeemed pledges."
"Let us turn in here," said the Quaker. "No doubt we shall find
enough to excite our sympathies."
Mr. Edwards thought this a strange proposal; but he felt a little
curious, and followed his companion without hesitation.
The sale had already begun, and there was a small company assembled.
Among them, the merchant noticed a young woman whose face was
partially veiled. She was sitting a little apart from the rest, and
did not appear to take any interest in the bidding. But he noticed
that, after an article was knocked off, she was all attention until
the next was put up, and then, the moment it was named, relapsed
into a sort of listlessness or abstraction.
The articles sold embraced a great variety of things useful and
ornamental. In the main they were made up of watches, silver plate,
jewellery and wearing apparel. There were garments of every kind,
quality and condition, upon which money to about a fourth of their
real value had been loaned; and not having been redeemed, they were
now to be sold for the benefit of the pawnbroker.
The company bid with animation, and article after article was sold
off. The interest at first awakened by the scene, new to the young
merchant, wore off in a little while, and turning to his companion
he said--"I don't see that much is to be gained by staying here."
"Wait a little longer, and perhaps thee will think differently,"
returned the Quaker, glancing towards the young woman who has been
mentioned, as he spoke.
The words had scarcely passed his lips, when the auctioneer took up
a small gold locket containing a miniature, and holding it up, asked
for a bid.
"How much for this? How much for this beautiful gold locket and
miniature? Give me a bid. Ten dollars! Eight dollars! Five dollars!
Four dollars--why, gentlemen, it never cost less than fifty! Four
dollars! Four dollars! Will no one give four dollars for this
beautiful gold locket and miniature? It's thrown away at that
At the mention of the locket, the young woman came forward and
looked up anxiously at the auctioneer. Mr. Edwards could see enough
of her face to ascertain that it was an interesting and intelligent
one, though very sad.
"Three dollars!" continued the auctioneer. But there was no bid.
"Two dollars! One dollar!"
"One dollar," was the response from a man who stood just in front of
the woman. Mr. Edwards, whose eyes were upon the latter, noticed
that she became much agitated the moment this bid was made.
"One dollar we have! One dollar! Only one dollar!" cried the
auctioneer. "Only one dollar for a gold locket and miniature worth
forty. One dollar!"
"Nine shillings," said the young woman in a low, timid voice.
"Nine shillings bid! Nine shillings! Nine shillings!"
"Ten shillings," said the first bidder.
"Ten shillings it is! Ten shillings, and thrown away. Ten
"Eleven shillings," said the girl, beginning to grow excited. Mr.
Edwards, who could not keep his eyes off of her face, from which the
veil had entirely fallen, saw that she was trembling with eagerness
"Eleven shillings!" repeated the auctioneer, glancing at the first
bidder, a coarse-looking man, and the only one who seemed disposed
to bid against the young woman.
"Twelve shillings," said the man resolutely.
A paleness went over the face of the other bidder, and a quick
tremor passed through her frame.
"Twelve shillings is bid. Twelve shillings is bid. Twelve
shillings!" And the auctioneer now looked towards the young woman
who, in a faint voice, said--
By this time the merchant began to understand the meaning of what
was passing before him. The miniature was that of a middle-aged
lady; and it required no great strength of imagination to determine
that the original was the mother of the young woman who seemed so
anxious to possess the locket.
"But how came it here?" was the involuntary suggestion to the mind
of Mr. Edwards. "Who pawned it? Did she?"
"Fourteen shillings," said the man who was bidding, breaking in upon
the reflections of Mr. Edwards.
The veil that had been drawn aside, fell instantly over the face of
the young woman, and she shrunk back from her prominent position,
yet still remained in the room.
"Fourteen shillings is bid. Fourteen shillings! Are you all done?
Fourteen shillings for a gold locket and miniature. Fourteen!
The companion of Mr. Edwards glanced towards him with a meaning
look. The merchants for a moment bewildered, found his mind clear
"Twice!" screamed the auctioneer. "Once! Twice! Three----"
"Twenty shillings," dropped from the lips of Mr. Edwards.
"Twenty shillings! Twenty shillings!" cried the auctioneer with
renewed animation. The man who had been bidding against the girl
turned quickly to see what bold bidder was in the field: and most of
the company turned with him. The young woman at the same time drew
aside her veil and looked anxiously towards Mr. Edwards, who, as he
obtained a fuller view of her face, was struck with it as familiar.
"Twenty-one shillings," was bid in opposition.
"Twenty-five," said the merchant, promptly.
The first bidder, seeing that Mr. Edwards was determined to run
against him, and being a little afraid that he might be left with a
ruinous bid on his hands, declined advancing, and the locket was
assigned to the young merchant, who, as soon as he had received it,
turned and presented it to the young woman, saying as he did so--
"It is yours."
The young woman caught hold of it with an eager gesture, and after
gazing on it for a few moments, pressed it to her lips.
"I have not the money to pay for it," she said in a low sad voice,
recovering herself in a few moments; and seeking to return the
"It is yours!" replied Mr. Edwards. Then thrusting back the hand she
had extended, and speaking with some emotion, he said--"Keep
it--keep it, in Heaven's name!"
And saying this he hastily retired, for he became conscious that
many eyes were upon him; and he felt half ashamed to have betrayed
his weakness before a coarse, unfeeling crowd. For a few moments he
lingered in the street; but his companion not appearing, he went on
his way, musing on the singular adventure he had encountered. The
more distinctly he recalled the young woman's face, the more
strangely familiar did it seem.
About an hour afterwards, as Mr. Edwards sat reading a letter, the
Quaker entered his store.
"Ah, how do you do? I am glad to see you," said the merchant, his
manner more than usually earnest. "Did you see anything more of that
"Yes," replied the Quaker. "I could not leave one like her without
knowing something of her past life and present circumstances. I
think even you will hardly be disposed to regard her as an object
unworthy of interest."
"No, certainly I will not. Her appearance, and the circumstances
under which we found her, are all in her favor."
"But we turned aside from the beaten path. We looked into a by-place
to us; or we would not have discovered her. She was not obtrusive.
She asked no aid; but, with the last few shillings that remained to
her in the world, had gone to recover, if possible, an unredeemed
pledge--the miniature of her mother, on which she had obtained a
small advance of money to buy food and medicine for the dying
original. This is but one of the thousand cases of real distress
that are all around us. We could see them if we did but turn aside
for a moment into ways unfamiliar to our feet."
"Did you learn who she was, and anything of her condition?" asked
"Oh yes. To do so was but a common dictate of humanity. I would have
felt it as a stain upon my conscience to have left one like her
uncared for in the circumstances under which we found her."
"Did you accompany her home?"
"Yes; I went with her to the place she called her home--a room in
which there was scarcely an article of comfort--and there learned
the history of her past life and present condition. Does thee
remember Belgrave, who carried on a large business in Maiden Lane
some years ago?"
"Very well. But, surely this girl is not Mary Belgrave?"
"Yes. It was Mary Belgrave whom we met at the pawnbroker's sale."
"Mary Belgrave! Can it be possible? I knew the family had become
poor; but not so poor as this!"
And Mr. Edwards, much disturbed in mind, walked uneasily about the
floor. But soon pausing, he said--
"And so her mother is dead!"
"Yes. Her father died two years ago and her mother, who has been
sick ever since, died last week in abject poverty, leaving Mary
friendless, in a world where the poor and needy are but little
regarded. The miniature which Mary had secretly pawned in order to
supply the last earthly need of her mother, she sought by her labor
to redeem; but ere she had been able to save up enough for the
purpose, the time for which the pledge had been taken, expired, and
the pawn broker refused to renew it. Under the faint hope that she
might be able to buy it in with the little pittance of money she had
saved, she attended the sale where we found her."
The merchant had resumed his seat, and although he had listened
attentively to the Quaker's brief history, he did not make any
reply, but soon became lost in thought. From this he was interrupted
by his visitor, who said, as he moved towards the door--
"I will bid thee good morning, friend Edwards."
"One moment, if you please," said the merchant, arousing himself,
and speaking earnestly, "Where does Mary Belgrave live?"
The Friend answered the question, and, as Mr. Edwards did not seem
inclined to ask any more, and besides fell back again into an
abstract state, he wished him good morning and retired.
The poor girl was sitting alone in her room sewing, late in the
afternoon of the day on which the incident at the auction room
occurred, musing, as she had mused for hours, upon the unexpected
adventure. She did not, in the excitement of the moment, know Mr.
Edwards when he first tendered her the miniature; but when he said
with peculiar emphasis and earnestness, turning away as he
spoke--"Keep it, in Heaven's name!" she recognized him fully. Since
that moment, she had not been able to keep the thought of him from
her mind. They had been intimate friends at one time; but this was
while they were both very young. Then he had professed for her a
boyish passion; and she had loved him with the childish fondness of
a young school-girl. As they grew older, circumstances separated
them more; and though no hearts were broken in consequence, both
often thought of the early days of innocence and affection with
Mary sat sewing, as we have said, late in the afternoon of the day
on which the incident at the auction room occurred, when there was a
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