Home Lights and Shadows
T. S. Arthur
Part 4 out of 5
Mr. Belknap did not make any response for some time, but sat, with
his eyes upon the floor, in hurried self-examination.
"No, Aunt Mary, not too plainly," said he, as he looked at her with
a sobered face. "I needed that suggestion, and thank you for having
"Mrs. Howitt has a line which beautifully expresses what I mean,"
said Aunt Mary, in her gentle, earnest way. "It is
'For love hath readier will than fear.'
Ah, if we could all comprehend the wonderful power of love! It is
the fire that melts; while fear only smites, the strokes hardening,
or breaking its unsightly fragments. John Thomas has many good
qualities, that ought to be made as active as possible. These, like
goodly flowers growing in a carefully tilled garden, will absorb the
latent vitality in his mind, and thus leave nothing from which
inherent evil tendencies can draw nutrition."
Aunt Mary said no more, and Mr. Belknap's thoughts were soon too
busy with a new train of ideas, to leave him in any mood for
Time moved steadily on. Nearly half an hour had elapsed, in which
period John Thomas might have gone twice to Leslie's store, and
returned; yet he was still absent. Mr. Belknap was particularly in
want of the hammer and nails, and the delay chafed him very
considerably; the more particularly, as it evidenced the
indifference of his son in respect to his wishes and commands.
Sometimes he would yield to a momentary blinding flush of anger, and
resolve to punish the boy severely the moment he could get his hands
on him. But quickly would come in Aunt Mary's suggestion, and he
would again resolve to try the power of kind words. He was also a
good deal strengthened in his purposes, by the fact that Aunt Mary's
eyes would be upon him at the return of John Thomas. After her
suggestion, and his acknowledgment of its value, it would hardly do
for him to let passion so rule him as to act in open violation of
what was right. To wrong his son by unwise treatment, when he
professed to desire only his good.
The fact is, Mr. Belknap had already made the discovery, that if he
would govern his boy, he must first govern himself. This was not an
easy task. Yet he felt that it must be done.
"There comes that boy now," said he, as he glanced forth, and saw
John Thomas coming homeward at a very deliberate pace. There was
more of impatience in his tone of voice than he wished to betray to
Aunt Mary, who let her beautiful, angel-like eyes rest for a moment
or two, penetratingly, upon him. The balancing power of that look
was needed; and it performed its work.
Soon after, the loitering boy came in. He had a package of nails in
his hand, which he reached, half indifferently, to his father.
"The hammer!" John started with a half frightened air.
"Indeed, father, I forgot all about it!" said he, looking up with a
flushed countenance, in which genuine regret was plainly visible.
"I'm sorry," said Mr. Belknap, in a disappointed, but not angry or
rebuking voice. "I've been waiting a long time for you to come back,
and now I must go to the store without nailing up that trellice for
your mother's honeysuckle and wisteria, as I promised."
The boy looked at his father a moment or two with an air of
bewilderment and surprise; then he said, earnestly:
"Just wait a little longer. I'll run down to the store and get it
for you in a minute. I'm very sorry that I forgot it."
"Run along, then," said Mr. Belknap, kindly.
How fleetly the lad bounded away! His father gazed after him with an
emotion of surprise, not unmixed with pleasure.
"Yes--yes," he murmured, half aloud, "Mrs. Howitt never uttered a
wiser saying. 'For love hath readier will than fear.'"
Quicker than even Aunt Mary, whose faith in kind words was very
strong, had expected, John came in with the hammer, a bright glow on
his cheeks and a sparkle in his eyes that strongly contrasted with
the utter want of interest displayed in his manner a little while
"Thank you, my son," said Mr. Belknap, as he took the hammer; "I
could not have asked a prompter service."
He spoke very kindly, and in a voice of approval. "And now, John,"
he added, with the manner of one who requests, rather than commands,
"if you will go over to Frank Wilson's, and tell him to come over
and work for two or three days in our garden, you will oblige me
very much. I was going to call there as I went to the store this
morning; but it is too late now."
"O, I'll go, father--I'll go," replied the boy, quickly and
cheerfully. "I'll run right over at once."
"Do, if you please," said Mr. Belknap, now speaking from an impulse
of real kindness, for a thorough change had come over his feelings.
A grateful look was cast, by John Thomas, into his father's face,
and then he was off to do his errand. Mr. Belknap saw, and
understood the meaning of that look.
"Yes--yes--yes,--" thus he talked with himself as he took his way to
the store,--"Aunt Mary and Mrs. Howitt are right. Love hath a
readier will. I ought to have learned this lesson earlier. Ah! how
much that is deformed in this self-willed boy, might now be growing
HELPING THE POOR.
"I'M on a begging expedition," said Mr. Jonas, as he came bustling
into the counting-room of a fellow merchant named Prescott. "And, as
you are a benevolent man, I hope to get at least five dollars here
in aid of a family in extremely indigent circumstances. My wife
heard of them yesterday; and the little that was learned, has
strongly excited our sympathies. So I am out on a mission for
supplies. I want to raise enough to buy them a ton of coal, a barrel
of flour, a bag of potatoes, and a small lot of groceries."
"Do you know anything of the family for which you propose this
charity?" inquired Mr. Prescott, with a slight coldness of manner.
"I only know that they are in want and that it is the first duty of
humanity to relieve them," said Mr. Jonas, quite warmly.
"I will not question your inference," said Mr. Prescott. "To relieve
the wants of our suffering fellow creatures is an unquestionable
duty. But there is another important consideration connected with
poverty and its demands upon us."
"What is that pray?" inquired Mr. Jonas, who felt considerably
fretted by so unexpected a damper to his benevolent enthusiasm.
"How it shall be done," answered Mr. Prescott, calmly.
"If a man is hungry, give him bread; if he is naked, clothe him,"
said Mr. Jonas. "There is no room for doubt or question here. This
family I learn, are suffering for all the necessaries of life, and I
can clearly see the duty to supply their wants."
"Of how many does the family consist?" asked Mr. Prescott.
"There is a man and his wife and three or four children."
"Is the man sober and industrious?"
"I don't know anything about him. I've had no time to make
inquiries. I only know that hunger and cold are in his dwelling, or,
at least were in his dwelling yesterday."
"Then you have already furnished relief?"
"Temporary relief. I shouldn't have slept last night, after what I
heard, without just sending them a bushel of coal, and a basket of
"For which I honor your kindness of heart, Mr. Jonas. So far you
acted right. But, I am by no means so well assured of the wisdom and
humanity of your present action in the case. The true way to help
the poor, is to put it into their power to help themselves. The mere
bestowal of alms is, in most cases an injury; either encouraging
idleness and vice, or weakening self-respect and virtuous
self-dependence. There is innate strength in every one; let us seek
to develop this strength in the prostrate, rather than hold them up
by a temporary application of our own powers, to fall again,
inevitably, when the sustaining hand is removed. This, depend upon
it, is not true benevolence. Every one has ability to serve the
common good, and society renders back sustenance for bodily life as
the reward of this service."
"But, suppose a man cannot get work," said Mr. Jonas. "How is he to
serve society, for the sake of a reward?"
"True charity will provide employment for him rather than bestow
"But, if there is no employment to be had Mr. Prescott?"
"You make a very extreme case. For all who are willing to work, in
this country, there is employment."
"I'm by no means ready to admit this assertion."
"Well, we'll not deal in general propositions; because anything can
be assumed or denied. Let us come direct to the case in point, and
thus determine our duty towards the family whose needs we are
considering. Which will be best for them? To help them in the way
you propose, or to encourage them to help themselves?"
"All I know about them at present," replied Mr. Jonas, who was
beginning to feel considerably worried, "is, that they are suffering
for the common necessaries of life. It is all very well to tell a
man to help himself, but, if his arm be paralyzed, or he have no key
to open the provision shop, he will soon starve under that system of
benevolence. Feed and clothe a man first, and then set him to work
to help himself. He will have life in his heart and strength in his
"This sounds all very fair, Mr. Jonas; and yet, there is not so much
true charity involved there as appears on the surface. It will avail
little, however, for us to debate the matter now. Your time and mine
are both of too much value during business hours for useless
discussion. I cannot give, understandingly, in the present case, and
so must disappoint your expectations in this quarter."
"Good morning, then," said Mr. Jonas, bowing rather coldly.
"Good morning," pleasantly responded Mr. Prescott, as his visitor
turned and left his store.
"All a mean excuse for not giving," said Mr. Jonas, to himself, as
he walked rather hurriedly away. "I don't believe much in the
benevolence of your men who are so particular about the whys and
wherefores--so afraid to give a dollar to a poor, starving fellow
creature, lest the act encourage vice or idleness."
The next person upon whom Mr. Jonas called, happened to be very much
of Mr. Prescott's way of thinking; and the next chanced to know
something about the family for whom he was soliciting aid. "A lazy,
vagabond set!" exclaimed the individual, when Mr. Jonas mentioned
his errand, "who would rather want than work. They may starve before
I give them a shilling."
"Is this true?" asked Mr. Jonas, in surprise.
"Certainly it is. I've had their case stated before. In fact, I went
through the sleet and rain one bitter cold night to take them
provisions, so strongly had my sympathies in regard to them been
excited. Let them go to work."
"But can the man get work?" inquired Mr. Jonas.
"Other poor men, who have families dependent on them, can get work.
Where there's a will there's a way. Downright laziness is the
disease in this case, and the best cure for which is a little
wholesome starvation. So, take my advice, and leave this excellent
remedy to work out a cure."
Mr. Jonas went back to his store in rather a vexed state of mind.
All his fine feelings of benevolence were stifled. He was angry with
the indigent family, and angry with himself for being "the fool to
meddle with any business but his own."
"Catch me on such an errand again," said he, indignantly. "I'll
never seek to do a good turn again as long as I live."
Just as he was saying this, his neighbor Prescott came into his
"Where does the poor family live, of whom you were speaking to me?"
"O, don't ask me about them!" exclaimed Mr. Jonas. "I've just found
them out. They're a lazy, vagabond set."
"You are certain of that?"
"Morally certain. Mr. Caddy says he knows them like a book, and
they'd rather want than work. With him, I think a little wholesome
starvation will do them good."
Notwithstanding this rather discouraging testimony, Mr. Prescott
made a memorandum of the street and number of the house in which the
family lived, remarking as he did so:
"I have just heard where the services of an able-bodied man are
wanted. Perhaps Gardiner, as you call him, may be glad to obtain the
"He won't work; that's the character I have received of him,"
replied Mr. Jonas, whose mind was very much roused against the man.
The pendulum of his impulses had swung, from a light touch, to the
"A dollar earned, is worth two received in charity," said Mr.
Prescott; "because the dollar earned corresponds to service
rendered, and the man feels that it is his own--that he has an
undoubted right to its possession. It elevates his moral character,
inspires self-respect, and prompts to new efforts. Mere alms-giving
is demoralizing for the opposite reason. It blunts the moral
feelings, lowers the self-respect, and fosters inactivity and
idleness, opening the way for vice to come in and sweep away all the
foundations of integrity. Now, true charity to the poor is for us to
help them to help themselves. Since you left me a short time ago, I
have been thinking, rather hastily, over the matter; and the fact of
hearing about the place for an able-bodied man, as I just mentioned,
has led me to call around and suggest your making interest therefor
in behalf of Gardiner. Helping him in this way will be true
"It's no use," replied Mr. Jonas, in a positive tone of voice. "He's
an idle good-for-nothing fellow, and I'll have nothing to do with
Mr. Prescott urged the matter no farther, for he saw that to do so
would be useless. On his way home, on leaving his store, he called
to see Gardiner. He found, in two small, meagerly furnished rooms, a
man, his wife, and three children. Everything about them indicated
extreme poverty; and, worse than this, lack of cleanliness and
industry. The woman and children had a look of health, but the man
was evidently the subject of some wasting disease. His form was
light, his face thin and rather pale, and his languid eyes deeply
sunken. He was very far from being the able-bodied man Mr. Prescott
had expected to find. As the latter stepped into the miserable room
where they were gathered, the light of expectation, mingled with the
shadows of mute suffering, came into their countenances. Mr.
Prescott was a close observer, and saw, at a glance, the assumed
sympathy-exciting face of the mendicant in each.
"You look rather poor here," said he, as he took a chair, which the
woman dusted with her dirty apron before handing it to him.
"Indeed, sir, and we are miserably off," replied the woman, in a
half whining tone. "John, there, hasn't done a stroke of work now
for three months; and--"
"Why not!" interrupted Mr. Prescott.
"My health is very poor," said the man. "I suffer much from pain in
my side and back, and am so weak most of the time, that I can hardly
"That is bad, certainly," replied Mr. Prescott, "very bad." And as
he spoke, he turned his eyes to the woman's face, and then scanned
the children very closely.
"Is that boy of yours doing anything?" he inquired.
"No, sir," replied the mother. "He's too young to be of any
"He's thirteen, if my eyes do not deceive me."
"Just a little over thirteen."
"Does he go to school?"
"No sir. He has no clothes fit to be seen in at school."
"Bad--bad," said Mr. Prescott, "very bad. The boy might be earning
two dollars a week; instead of which he is growing up in idleness,
which surely leads to vice."
Gardiner looked slightly confused at this remark, and his wife,
evidently, did not feel very comfortable under the steady, observant
eyes that were on her.
"You seem to be in good health," said Mr. Prescott, looking at the
"Yes sir, thank God! And if it wasn't for that, I don't know what we
should all have done. Everything has fallen upon me since John,
there, has been ailing."
Mr. Prescott glanced around the room, and then remarked, a little
"I don't see that you make the best use of your health and
The woman understood him, for the color came instantly to her face.
"There is no excuse for dirt and disorder," said the visitor, more
seriously. "I once called to see a poor widow, in such a state of
low health that she had to lie in bed nearly half of every day. She
had two small children, and supported herself and them by fine
embroidery, at which she worked nearly all the time. I never saw a
neater room in my life than hers, and her children, though in very
plain and patched clothing, were perfectly clean. How different is
all here; and yet, when I entered, you all sat idly amid this
disorder, and--shall I speak plainly--filth."
The woman, on whose face the color had deepened while Mr. Prescott
spoke, now rose up quickly, and commenced bustling about the room,
which, in a few moments, looked far less in disorder. That she felt
his rebuke, the visiter regarded as a good sign.
"Now," said he, as the woman resumed her seat, "let me give you the
best maxim for the poor in the English language; one that, if lived
by, will soon extinguish poverty, or make it a very light
thing,--'God helps those who help themselves.' To be very plain with
you, it is clear to my eyes, that you do not try to help yourselves;
such being the case, you need not expect gratuitous help from God.
Last evening you received some coal and a basket of provisions from
a kind-hearted man, who promised more efficient aid to-day. You have
not yet heard from him, and what is more, will not hear from him.
Some one, to whom he applied for a contribution happened to know
more about you than he did, and broadly pronounced you a set of idle
vagabonds. Just think of bearing such a character! He dropped the
matter at once, and you will get nothing from him. I am one of those
upon whom he called. Now, if you are all disposed to help
yourselves, I will try to stand your friend. If not, I shall have
nothing to do with you. I speak plainly; it is better; there will be
less danger of apprehension. That oldest boy of yours must go to
work and earn something. And your daughter can work about the house
for you very well, while you go out to wash, or scrub, and thus earn
a dollar or two, or three, every week. There will be no danger of
starvation on this income, and you will then eat your bread in
independence. Mr. Gardiner can help some, I do not in the least
And Mr. Prescott looked inquiringly at the man.
"If I was only able-bodied," said Gardiner, in a half reluctant tone
"But you are not. Still, there are many things you may do. If by a
little exertion you can earn the small sum of two or three dollars a
week, it will be far better--even for your health--than idleness.
Two dollars earned every week by your wife, two by your boy, and
three by yourself, would make seven dollars a week; and if I am not
very much mistaken, you don't see half that sum in a week now."
"Indeed, sir, and you speak the truth there," said the woman.
"Very well. It's plain, then, that work is better than idleness."
"But we can't get work." The woman fell back upon this strong
"Don't believe a word of it. I can tell you how to earn half a
dollar a day for the next four or five days at least. So there's a
beginning for you. Put yourself in the way of useful employment, and
you will have no difficulty beyond."
"What kind of work, sir?" inquired the woman.
"We are about moving into a new house, and my wife commences the
work of having it cleaned to-morrow morning. She wants another
assistant. Will you come?"
The woman asked the number of his residence, and promised to accept
the offer of work.
"Very well. So far so good," said Mr. Prescott, cheerfully, as he
arose. "You shall be paid at the close of each day's work; and that
will give you the pleasure of eating your own bread--a real
pleasure, you may depend upon it; for a loaf of bread earned is
sweeter than the richest food bestowed by charity, and far better
for the health."
"But about the boy, sir?" said Gardiner, whose mind was becoming
active with more independent thoughts.
"All in good time," said Mr. Prescott smiling. "Rome was not built
in a day, you know. First let us secure a beginning. If your wife
goes to-morrow, I shall think her in earnest; as willing to help
herself, and, therefore, worthy to be helped. All the rest will come
in due order. But you may rest assured, that, if she does not come
to work, it is the end of the matter as far as I am concerned. So
good evening to you."
Bright and early came Mrs. Gardiner on the next morning, far tidier
in appearance than when Mr. Prescott saw her before. She was a
stout, strong woman, and knew how to scrub and clean paint as well
as the best. When fairly in the spirit of work, she worked on with a
sense of pleasure. Mrs. Prescott was well satisfied with her
performance, and paid her the half dollar earned when her day's toil
was done. On the next day, and the next, she came, doing her work
and receiving her wages.
On the evening of the third day, Mr. Prescott thought it time to
call upon the Gardiners.
"Well this is encouraging!" said he, with an expression of real
pleasure, as he gazed around the room, which scarcely seemed like
the one he had visited before. All was clean, and everything in
order; and, what was better still, the persons of all, though poorly
clad, were clean and tidy. Mrs. Gardiner sat by the table mending a
garment; her daughter was putting away the supper dishes; while the
man sat teaching a lesson in spelling to their youngest child.
The glow of satisfaction that pervaded the bosom of each member of
the family, as Mr. Prescott uttered these approving words, was a new
and higher pleasure than had for a long time been experienced, and
caused the flame of self-respect and self-dependence, rekindled once
more, to rise upwards in a steady flame.
"I like to see this," continued Mr. Prescott. "It does me good. You
have fairly entered the right road. Walk on steadily, courageously,
unweariedly. There is worldly comfort and happiness for you at the
end. I think I have found a very good place for your son, where he
will receive a dollar and a half a week to begin with. In a few
months, if all things suit, he will get two dollars. The work is
easy, and the opportunities for improvement good. I think there is a
chance for you, also, Mr. Gardiner. I have something in my mind that
will just meet your case. Light work, and not over five or six hours
application each day--the wages four dollars a week to begin with,
and a prospect of soon having them raised to six or seven dollars.
What do you think of that?"
"Sir!" exclaimed the poor man, in whom personal pride and a native
love of independence were again awakening, "if you can do this for
me, you will be indeed a benefactor."
"It shall be done," said Mr. Prescott, positively. "Did I not say to
you, that God helps those who help themselves? It is even thus. No
one, in our happy country who is willing to work, need be in want;
and money earned by honest industry buys the sweetest bread."
It required a little watching, and urging, and admonition, on the
part of Mr. and Mrs. Prescott, to keep the Gardiners moving on
steadily, in the right way. Old habits and inclinations had gained
too much power easily to be broken; and but for this watchfulness on
their part, idleness and want would again have entered the poor
The reader will hardly feel surprise, when told, that in three or
four years from the time Mr. Prescott so wisely met the case of the
indigent Gardiners, they were living in a snug little house of their
own, nearly paid for out of the united industry of the family, every
one of which was now well clad, cheerful, and in active employment.
As for Mr. Gardiner, his health has improved, instead of being
injured by light employment. Cheerful, self-approving thoughts, and
useful labor, have temporarily renovated a fast sinking
Mr. Prescott's way of helping the poor is the right way. They must
be taught to help themselves. Mere alms-giving is but a temporary
aid, and takes away, instead of giving, that basis of
self-dependence, on which all should rest. Help a man up, and teach
him to use his feet, so that he can walk alone. This is true
"ARE you going to call upon Mrs. Clayton and her daughters, Mrs.
Marygold?" asked a neighbor, alluding to a family that had just
moved into Sycamore Row.
"No, indeed, Mrs. Lemmington, that I am not. I don't visit
"I thought the Claytons were a very respectable family," remarked
"Respectable! Everybody is getting respectable now-a-days. If they
are respectable, it is very lately that they have become so. What is
Mr. Clayton, I wonder, but a school-master! It's too bad that such
people will come crowding themselves into genteel neighborhoods. The
time was when to live in Sycamore Row was guarantee enough for any
one--but, now, all kinds of people have come into it."
"I have never met Mrs. Clayton," remarked Mrs. Lemmington, "but I
have been told that she is a most estimable woman, and that her
daughters have been educated with great care. Indeed, they are
represented as being highly accomplished girls."
"Well, I don't care what they are represented to be. I'm not going
to keep company with a schoolmaster's wife and daughters, that's
"Is there anything disgraceful in keeping a school?"
"No, nor in making shoes, either. But, then, that's no reason why I
should keep company with my shoemaker's wife, is it? Let common
people associate together--that's my doctrine."
"But what do you mean by common people, Mrs. Marygold?"
"Why, I mean common people. Poor people. People who have not come of
a respectable family. That's what I mean."
"I am not sure that I comprehend your explanation much better than I
do your classification. If you mean, as you say, poor people, your
objection will not apply with full force to the Claytons, for they
are now in tolerably easy circumstances. As to the family of Mr.
Clayton, I believe his father was a man of integrity, though not
rich. And Mrs. Clayton's family I know to be without reproach of any
"And yet they are common people for all that," persevered Mrs.
Marygold. "Wasn't old Clayton a mere petty dealer in small wares.
And wasn't Mrs. Clayton's father a mechanic?"
"Perhaps, if some of us were to go back for a generation or two, we
might trace out an ancestor who held no higher place in society,"
Mrs. Lemmington remarked, quietly. "I have no doubt but that I
"I have no fears of that kind," replied Mrs. Marygold, in an
exulting tone. "I shall never blush when my pedigree is traced."
"Nor I neither, I hope. Still, I should not wonder if some one of my
ancestors had disgraced himself, for there are but few families that
are not cursed with a spotted sheep. But I have nothing to do with
that, and ask only to be judged by what I am--not by what my
progenitors have been."
"A standard that few will respect, let me tell you."
"A standard that far the largest portion of society will regard as
the true one, I hope," replied Mrs. Lemmington. "But, surely, you do
not intend refusing to call upon the Claytons for the reason you
have assigned, Mrs. Marygold."
"Certainly I do. They are nothing but common people, and therefore
beneath me. I shall not stoop to associate with them."
"I think that I will call upon them. In fact, my object in dropping
in this morning was to see if you would not accompany me," said Mrs.
"Indeed, I will not, and for the reasons I have given. They are only
common people. You will be stooping."
"No one stoops in doing a kind act. Mrs. Clayton is a stranger in
the neighborhood, and is entitled to the courtesy of a call, if no
more; and that I shall extend to her. If I find her to be
uncongenial in her tastes, no intimate acquaintanceship need be
formed. If she is congenial, I will add another to my list of valued
friends. You and I, I find, estimate differently. I judge every
individual by merit, you by family, or descent."
"You can do as you please," rejoined Mrs. Marygold, somewhat coldly.
"For my part, I am particular about my associates. I will visit Mrs.
Florence, and Mrs. Harwood, and such an move in good society, but as
to your schoolteachers' wives and daughters, I must beg to be
"Every one to her taste," rejoined Mrs. Lemmington, with a smile, as
she moved towards the door, where she stood for a few moments to
utter some parting compliments, and then withdrew.
Five minutes afterwards she was shown into Mrs. Clayton's parlors,
where, in a moment or two, she was met by the lady upon whom she had
called, and received with an air of easy gracefulness, that at once
charmed her. A brief conversation convinced her that Mrs. Clayton
was, in intelligence and moral worth, as far above Mrs. Marygold, as
that personage imagined herself to be above her. Her daughters, who
came in while she sat conversing with their mother, showed
themselves to possess all those graces of mind and manner that win
upon our admiration so irresistably. An hour passed quickly and
pleasantly, and then Mrs. Lemmington withdrew.
The difference between Mrs. Lemmington and Mrs. Marygold was simply
this. The former had been familiar with what is called the best
society from her earliest recollection, and being therefore,
constantly in association with those looked upon as the upper class,
knew nothing of the upstart self-estimation which is felt by certain
weak ignorant persons, who by some accidental circumstance are
elevated far above the condition into which they moved originally.
She could estimate true worth in humble garb as well as in velvet
and rich satins. She was one of those individuals who never pass an
old and worthy domestic in the street without recognition, or
stopping to make some kind inquiry--one who never forgot a familiar
face, or neglected to pass a kind word to even the humblest who
possessed the merit of good principles. As to Mrs. Marygold,
notwithstanding her boast in regard to pedigree, there were not a
few who could remember when her grandfather carried a pedlar's pack
on his back--and an honest and worthy pedlar he was, saving his
pence until they became pounds, and then relinquishing his
peregrinating propensities, for the quieter life of a small
shop-keeper. His son, the father of Mrs. Marygold, while a boy had a
pretty familiar acquaintance with low life. But, as soon as his
father gained the means to do so, he was put to school and furnished
with a good education. Long before he was of age, the old man had
become a pretty large shipper; and when his son arrived at mature
years, he took him into business as a partner. In marrying, Mrs.
Marygold's father chose a young lady whose father, like his own, had
grown rich by individual exertions. This young lady had not a few
false notions in regard to the true genteel, and these fell
legitimately to the share of her eldest daughter, who, when she in
turn came upon the stage of action, married into an old and what was
called a highly respectable family, a circumstance that puffed her
up to the full extent of her capacity to bear inflation. There were
few in the circle of her acquaintances who did not fully appreciate
her, and smile at her weakness and false pride. Mrs. Florence, to
whom she had alluded in her conversation with Mrs. Lemmington, and
who lived in Sycamore Row, was not only faultless in regard to
family connections, but was esteemed in the most intelligent circles
for her rich mental endowments and high moral principles. Mrs.
Harwood, also alluded to, was the daughter of an English barrister
and wife of a highly distinguished professional man, and was besides
richly endowed herself, morally and intellectually. Although Mrs.
Marygold was very fond of visiting them for the mere _eclat_ of the
thing, yet their company was scarcely more agreeable to her, than
hers was to them, for there was little in common between them.
Still, they had to tolerate her, and did so with a good grace.
It was, perhaps, three months after Mrs. Clayton moved into the
neighborhood, that cards of invitation were sent to Mr. and Mrs.
Marygold and daughter to pass a social evening at Mrs. Harwood's.
Mrs. M. was of course delighted and felt doubly proud of her own
importance. Her daughter Melinda, of whom she was excessively vain,
was an indolent, uninteresting girl, too dull to imbibe even a small
portion of her mother's self-estimation. In company, she attracted
but little attention, except what her father's money and standing in
society claimed for her.
On the evening appointed, the Marygolds repaired to the elegant
residence of Mrs. Harwood and were ushered into a large and
brilliant company, more than half of whom were strangers even to
them. Mrs. Lemmington was there, and Mrs. Florence, and many others
with whom Mrs. Marygold was on terms of intimacy, besides several
"distinguished strangers." Among those with whom Mrs. Marygold was
unacquainted, were two young ladies who seemed to attract general
attention. They were not showy, chattering girls, such as in all
companies attract a swarm of shallow-minded youug fellows about them. On the contrary, there was
something retiring, almost shrinking in their manner, that shunned
rather than courted observation. And yet, no one, who, attracted by
their sweet, modest faces, found himself by their side that did not
feel inclined to linger there.
"Who are those girls, Mrs. Lemmington?" asked Mrs. Marygold, meeting
the lady she addressed in crossing the room.
"The two girls in the corner who are attracting so much attention?"
"Don't you know them?"
"I certainly do not."
"They are no common persons, I can assure you, Mrs. Marygold."
"Of course, or they would not be found here. But who are they?"
"Ah, Mrs. Lemmington! how are you?" said a lady, coming up at this
moment, and interrupting the conversation. "I have been looking for
you this half hour." Then, passing her arm within that of the
individual she had addressed, she drew her aside before she had a
chance to answer Mrs. Marygold's question.
In a few minutes after, a gentleman handed Melinda to the piano, and
there was a brief pause as she struck the instrument, and commenced
going through the unintelligible intricacies of a fashionable piece
of music. She could strike all the notes with scientific correctness
and mechanical precision. But there was no more expression in her
performance than there is in that of a musical box. After she had
finished her task, she left the instrument with a few words of
commendation extorted by a feeling of politeness.
"Will you not favor us with a song?" asked Mr. Harwood, going up to
one of the young ladies to whom allusion has just been made.
"My sister sings, I do not," was the modest reply, "but I will take
pleasure in accompanying her."
All eyes were fixed upon them as they moved towards the piano,
accompanied by Mr. Harwood, for something about their manners,
appearance and conversation, had interested nearly all in the room
who had been led to notice them particularly. The sister who could
not sing, seated herself with an air of easy confidence at the
instrument, while the other stood near her. The first few touches
that passed over the keys showed that the performer knew well how to
give to music a soul. The tones that came forth were not the simple
vibrations of a musical chord, but expressions of affection given by
her whose fingers woke the strings into harmony. But if the
preluding touches fell witchingly upon every ear, how exquisitely
sweet and thrilling was the voice that stole out low and tremulous
at first, and deepened in volume and expression every moment, until
the whole room seemed filled with melody! Every whisper was hushed,
and every one bent forward almost breathlessly to listen. And when,
at length, both voice and instrument were hushed into silence, no
enthusiastic expressions of admiration were heard, but only half-
whispered ejaculations of "exquisite!" "sweet!" "beautiful!" Then
came earnestly expressed wishes for another and another song, until
the sisters, feeling at length that many must be wearied with their
long continued occupation of the piano, felt themselves compelled to
decline further invitations to sing. No one else ventured to touch a
key of the instrument during the evening.
"Do pray, Mrs. Lemmington, tell me who those girls are--I am dying
to know," said Mrs. Marygold, crossing the room to where the person
she addressed was seated with Mrs. Florence and several other ladies
of "distinction," and taking a chair by her side.
"They are only common people," replied Mrs. Lemmington, with
"Common people, my dear madam! What do you mean by such an
expression?" said Mrs. Florence in surprise, and with something of
indignation latent in her tone.
"I'm sure their father, Mr. Clayton, is nothing but a teacher."
"Mr. Clayton! Surely those are not Clayton's daughters!" ejaculated
Mrs. Marygold, in surprise.
"They certainly are ma'am," replied Mrs. Florence in a quiet but
firm voice, for she instantly perceived, from something in Mrs.
Marygold's voice and manner, the reason why her friend had alluded
to them as common people.
"Well, really, I am surprised that Mrs. Harwood should have invited
them to her house, and introduced them into genteel company."
"Why so, Mrs. Marygold?"
"Because, as Mrs. Lemmington has just said, they are common people.
Their father is nothing but a schoolmaster."
"If I have observed them rightly," Mrs. Florence said to this, "I
have discovered them to be a rather uncommon kind of people. Almost
any one can thrum on the piano; but you will not find one in a
hundred who can perform with such exquisite grace and feeling as
they can. For half an hour this evening I sat charmed with their
conversation, and really instructed and elevated by the sentiments
they uttered. I cannot say as much for any other young ladies in the
room, for there are none others here above the common run of
ordinarily intelligent girls--none who may not really be classed
with common people in the true acceptation of the term."
"And take them all in all," added Mrs. Lemmington with warmth, "you
will find nothing common about them. Look at their dress; see how
perfect in neatness, in adaptation of colors and arrangement to
complexion and shape, is every thing about them. Perhaps there will
not be found a single young lady in the room, besides them, whose
dress does not show something not in keeping with good taste. Take
their manners. Are they not graceful, gentle, and yet full of
nature's own expression. In a word, is there any thing about them
that is 'common?'"
"Nothing that my eye has detected," replied Mrs. Florence.
"Except their origin," half-sneeringly rejoined Mrs. Marygold.
"They were born of woman," was the grave remark. "Can any of us
boast a higher origin?"
"There are various ranks among women," Mrs. Marygold said, firmly.
"True. But, 'The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gold for a' that.'
"Mere position in society does not make any of us more or less a true
woman. I could name you over a dozen or more in my circle of
acquaintance, who move in what is called the highest rank; who, in
all that truly constitutes a woman, are incomparably below Mrs.
Clayton; who, if thrown with her among perfect strangers, would be
instantly eclipsed. Come then, Mrs. Marygold, lay aside all these
false standards, and estimate woman more justly. Let me, to begin,
introduce both yourself and Melinda to the young ladies this
evening. You will be charmed with them, I know, and equally charmed
with their mother when you know her."
"No, ma'am," replied Mrs. Marygold, drawing herself up with a
dignified air. "I have no wish to cultivate their acquaintance, or
the acquaintance of any persons in their station. I am surprised
that Mrs. Harwood has not had more consideration for her friends
than to compel them to come in contact with such people."
No reply was made to this; and the next remark of Mrs. Florence was
about some matter of general interest.
"Henry Florence has not been here for a week," said Mrs. Marygold to
her daughter Melinda, some two months after the period at which the
conversation just noted occurred.
"No; and he used to come almost every evening," was Melinda's reply,
made in a tone that expressed disappointment.
"I wonder what can be the reason?" Mrs. Marygold said, half aloud,
half to herself, but with evident feelings of concern. The reason of
her concern and Melinda's disappointment arose from the fact that
both had felt pretty sure of securing Henry Florence as a member of
the Marygold family--such connection, from his standing in society,
being especially desirable.
At the very time the young man was thus alluded to by Mrs. Marygold
and her daughter, he sat conversing with his mother upon a subject
that seemed, from the expression of his countenance, to be of much
interest to him.
"So you do not feel inclined to favor any preference on my part
towards Miss Marygold?" he said, looking steadily into his mother's
"I do not, Henry," was the frank reply.
"There is something too common about her, if I may so express
"Too common! What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that there is no distinctive character about her. She is,
like the large mass around us, a mere made-up girl."
"Speaking in riddles."
"I mean then, Henry, that her character has been formed, or made up,
by mere external accretions from the common-place, vague, and often
too false notions of things that prevail in society, instead of by
the force of sound internal principles, seen to be true from a
rational intuition, and acted upon because they are true. Cannot you
perceive the difference?"
"O yes, plainly. And this is why you use the word 'common,' in
speaking of her?"
"The reason. And now my son, can you not see that there is force in
my objection to her--that she really possess any character
distinctively her own, that is founded upon a clear and rational
appreciation of abstractly correct principles of action?"
"I cannot say that I differ from you very widely," the young man
said, thoughtfully. "But, if you call Melinda 'common,' where shall
I go to find one who may be called 'uncommon?'"
"I can point you to one."
"You have met Fanny Clayton?"
"Fanny Clayton!" ejaculated the young man, taken by surprise, the
blood rising to his face. "O yes, I have met her."
"She is no common girl, Henry," Mrs. Florence said, in a serious
voice. "She has not her equal in my circle of acquaintances."
"Nor in mine either," replied the young man, recovering himself.
"But you would not feel satisfied to have your son address Miss
"And why not, pray? Henry, I have never met with a young lady whom I
would rather see your wife than Fanny Clayton."
"And I," rejoined the young man with equal warmth, "never met with
any one whom I could truly love until I saw her sweet young face."
"Then never think again of one like Melinda Marygold. You could not
be rationally happy with her."
Five or six months rolled away, during a large portion of which time
the fact that Henry Florence was addressing Fanny Clayton formed a
theme for pretty free comment in various quarters. Most of Henry's
acquaintance heartily approved his choice; but Mrs. Marygold, and a
few like her, all with daughters of the "common" class, were deeply
incensed at the idea of a "common kind of a girl" like Miss Clayton
being forced into genteel society, a consequence that would of
course follow her marriage. Mrs. Marygold hesitated not to declare
that for her part, let others do as they liked, she was not going to
associate with her--that was settled. She had too much regard to
what was due to her station in life. As for Melinda, she had no very
kind feelings for her successful rival--and such a rival too! A mere
schoolmaster's daughter! And she hesitated not to speak of her often
and in no very courteous terms.
When the notes of invitation to the wedding at length came, which
ceremony was to be performed in the house of Mr. Clayton, in
Sycamore Row, Mrs. Marygold declared that to send her an invitation
to go to such a place was a downright insult. As the time, however,
drew near, and she found that Mrs. Harwood and a dozen others
equally respectable in her eyes were going to the wedding, she
managed to smother her indignation so far as, at length, to make up
her mind to be present at the nuptial ceremonies. But it was not
until her ears were almost stunned by the repeated and earnestly
expressed congratulations to Mrs. Florence at the admirable choice
made by her son, and that too by those whose tastes and opinions she
dared not dispute, that she could perceive any thing even passable
in the beautiful young bride.
Gradually, however, as the younger Mrs. Florence, in the process of
time, took her true position in the social circle, even Mrs.
Marygold could begin to perceive the intrinsic excellence of her
character, although even this was more a tacit assent to a universal
opinion than a discovery of her own.
As for Melinda, she was married about a year after Fanny Clayton's
wedding, to a sprig of gentility with about as much force of
character as herself. This took place on the same night that Lieut.
Harwood, son of Mrs. Harwood before alluded to, led to the altar
Mary Clayton, the sister of Fanny, who was conceded by all, to be
the loveliest girl they had ever seen--lovely, not only in face and
form, but loveliness itself in the sweet perfections of moral
beauty. As for Lieut. Harwood, he was worthy of the heart he had
MAKING A SENSATION.
"Do you intend going to Mrs. Walshingham's party, next week,
Caroline?" asked Miss Melvina Fenton of her friend Caroline Gay. "It
is said that it will be a splendid affair."
"I have not made up my mind, Melvina."
"O you'll go of course. I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"I am much inclined to think that I will stay at home or spend my
evening in some less brilliant assemblage," Caroline Gay replied in
a quiet tone.
"Nonsense, Caroline! There hasn't been such a chance to make a
sensation this season."
"And why should I wish to make a sensation, Melvina?"
"Because it's the only way to attract attention. Now-a-days, the
person who creates a sensation, secures the prize that a dozen
quiet, retiring individuals are looking and longing after, in vain.
We must dazzle if we would win."
"That is, we must put on false colors, and deceive not only
ourselves, but others."
"How strangely you talk, Caroline! Every one now is attracted by
show and _eclat_."
"Not every one, I hope, Melvina."
"Show me an exception."
Caroline smiled as she answered,
"Your friend Caroline, as you call her, I hope is one."
"Indeed! And I suppose I must believe you. But come, don't turn
Puritan. You are almost behind the age, as it is, and if you don't
take care, you will get clear out of date, and either live and die
an old maid, or have to put up with one of your quiet inoffensive
gentlemen who hardly dare look a real briliant belle in the face."
Caroline Gay could not help smiling at her friend's light bantering,
even while she felt inclined to be serious in consideration of the
false views of life that were influencing the conduct and affecting
the future prospects of one, whose many good qualities of heart, won
"And if I should get off," she said, "with one of those quiet
gentlemen you allude to, it will be about the height of my
"Well, you are a queer kind of a girl, any how! But, do you know why
I want to make a sensation at Mrs. Walshingham's?"
"No. I would be pleased to hear."
"Then I will just let you into a bit of a secret. I've set my heart
on making a conquest of Henry Clarence."
"Indeed!" ejaculated Caroline, with an emphasis that would have
attracted Melvina's attention, had her thoughts and feelings not
been at the moment too much engaged.
"Yes, I have. He's so calm and cold, and rigidly polite to me
whenever we meet, that I am chilled with the frigid temperature of
the atmosphere that surrounds him. But as he is a prize worth the
trouble of winning, I have set my heart on melting him down, and
bringing him to my feet."
Caroline smiled as her friend paused, but did not reply.
"I know half a dozen girls now, who are breaking their hearts after
him," continued the maiden. "But I'll disappoint them all, if there
is power in a woman's winning ways to conquer. So you see, my lady
Gay--Grave it should be--that I have some of the strongest reasons
in the world, for wishing to be present at the 'come off' next week.
Now you'll go, won't you?"
"Perhaps I will, if it's only to see the effect of your
demonstrations on the heart of Henry Clarence. But he is one of your
quiet, inoffensive gentlemen, Melvina. How comes it that you set him
as a prize?"
"If he is quiet, there is fire in him. I've seen his eye flash, and
his countenance brighten with thought too often, not to know of what
kind of stuff he is made."
"And if I were to judge of his character, he is not one to be caugnt
by effect," Caroline remarked.
"O, as to that, all men have their weak side. There isn't one, trust
me, who can withstand the brilliant attractions of the belle of the
ball room, such as, pardon my vanity, I hope to be on next Tuesday
evening. I have seen a little of the world in my time, and have
always observed, that whoever can eclipse all her fair compeers at
one of these brilliant assemblages, possesses, for the time, a power
that may be used to advantage. All the beaux flock around her, and
vie with each other in kind attentions. If, then, she distinguish
some individual of them above the rest, by her marked reciprocation
of his attentions, he is won. The grateful fellow will never forsake
"Quite a reasoner, upon my word! And so in this way you intend
winning Henry Clarence?"
"Of course I do. At least, I shall try hard."
"And you will fail, I am much disposed to think."
"I'm not sure of that. Henry Clarence is but a man."
"Yet he is too close an observer to be deceived into any strong
admiration of a ball-room belle."
"You are behind the age, Caroline. Your quiet unobtrusiveness will I
fear cause you to be passed by, while some one not half so worthy,
will take the place which you should have held in the affections of
a good husband."
"Perhaps so. But, I wish to be taken for what I am. I want no man,
who has not the good sense and discrimination to judge of my real
"You will die an old maid, Caroline."
"That may be. But, in all sincerity, I must say that I hope not."
"You will go to the ball, of course?"
"I think I will, Melvina."
"Well, that settled, what are you going to wear?"
"Something plain and simple, of course. But I have not thought of
"O don't Caroline. You will make yourself singular."
"I hope not, for I dislike singularity. But how are you going to
dress? Splendid, of course, as you expect to make a sensation."
"I'll try my best, I can assure you?"
"Well, what kind of a dress are you going to appear in?"
"I have ordered a robe of blue tulle, to be worn over blue silk. The
robe to be open in front, of course, and confined to the silk-skirt
with variegated roses."
"And your head-dress?"
"I shall have my hair ornamented with variegated roses, arranged
over the brow like a coronet. Now, how do you like that?"
"Not at all."
"O, of course not. I might have known that your taste was too
uneducated for that."
"And I hope it will ever remain so, Melvina."
"But how will _you_ dress, Caroline. Do let me hear, that I may put
you right if you fix on any thing _outre_."
"Well, really, Melvina, I have not given the subject a thought. But
it never takes me long to choose. Let me see. A plain--"
"Not plain, Caroline, for mercy sake!"
"Yes. A plain white dress, of India muslin."
"Plain white! O, don't Caroline--let me beg of you."
"Yes, white it shall be."
"Plain white! Why nobody will see you!"
"O, yes. Among all you gay butterflies, I will become the observed
of all observers," said Caroline, laughing.
"Don't flatter yourself. But you will have some pink trimming, will
"No, not a flower, nor ribbon, nor cord, nor tassel."
"You will be an object of ridicule."
"Not in a polite company of gentlemen and ladies, I hope!"
"No; but--. And your head-dress, Caroline. That I hope will atone
for the rest."
"No, my own dark hair, plain--"
"For mercy sake, Caroline! Not plain."
"Yes, my hair plain."
"And no ornament!"
"O, yes--a very beautiful one."
"Ah, that may help a little. A ray of sunshine on a barren waste."
"A simple sprig of buds and half blown flowers."
"White, of course."
"You are an original, Caroline. But I suppose I can't make you
change your taste?"
I hope not, Melvina."
"I am sorry that I shall be compelled to throw you so far in the
shade, my little Quakeress friend. The world will never know half
your real worth, Caroline. You are hiding your light.
"Many a gem of purest ray serene,
The deep unfathomed caves of ocean bear--
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
And as she repeated these lines, applying them to her friend,
Melvina rose to depart.
"You are resolved on trying to make a sensation, then?" said
"Of course, and what is more, I will succeed."
"And win Henry Clarence?"
"I hope so. He must be made of sterner stuff than I think him, if I
"Well, we shall see."
"Yes, we will. But good-bye; I must go to the mantua-maker's this
morning, to complete my orders."
After Melvina Felton had gone, Caroline Gay's manner changed a good
deal. Her cheek, the color of which had heightened during her
conversation with her friend, still retained its beautiful glow, but
the expression of her usually calm face was changed, and slightly
marked by what seemed troubled thoughts. She sat almost motionless
for nearly two minutes, and then rose up slowly with a slight sigh,
and went to her chamber.
It was early on the same evening that Henry Clarence, the subject of
her conversation with Melvina, called in, as he not unfrequently
did, to spend an hour in pleasant conversation with Caroline Gay. He
found her in the parlor reading.
"At your books, I see," he remarked, in a pleasant tone, as he
"Yes; I find my thoughts need exciting by contact with the thoughts
of others. A good book helps us much sometimes."
"You were reading a book then. May I ask its author?"
"You are right in calling this a good book, Caroline," he said,
glancing at the title page, to which she had opened, as she handed
him the volume. "Self-education is a most important matter, and with
such a guide as Degerando, few can go wrong."
"So I think. He is not so abstract, nor does he border on
transcendentalism, like Coleridge, who notwithstanding these
peculiarities I am yet fond of reading. Degerando opens for you your
own heart, and not only opens it, but gives you the means of
self-control at every point of your exploration."
The beautiful countenance of Caroline was lit up by pure thoughts,
and Henry Clarence could not help gazing upon her with a lively
feeling of admiration.
"I cannot but approve your taste," he said.--"But do you not also
read the lighter works of the day?"
"I do not certainly pass all these by. I would lose much were I to
do so. But I read only a few, and those emanating from such minds as
James, Scott, and especially our own Miss Sedgwick. The latter is
particularly my favorite. Her pictures, besides being true to
nature, are pictures of home. The life she sketches, is the life
that is passing all around us--perhaps in the family, unknown to us,
who hold the relation of next door neighbors."
"Your discrimination is just. After reading Miss Sedgwick, our
sympathies for our fellow creatures take a more humane range. We are
moved by an impulse to do good--to relieve the suffering--to
regulate our own action in regard to others by a higher and better
rule. You are a reader of the poets, too--and like myself, I
believe, are an admirer of Wordsworth's calm and deep sympathy with
the better and nobler principles of our nature."
"The simple beauty of Wordsworth has ever charmed me. How much of
the good and true, like precious jewels set in gold, are scattered
thickly over his pages!"
"And Byron and Shelly--can you not enjoy them?" Clarence asked, with
something of lively interest in her reply, expressed in his
"It were but an affectation to say that I can find nothing in them
that is beautiful, nothing to please, nothing to admire. I have read
many things in the writings of these men that were exquisitely
beautiful. Many portions of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage are not
surpassed for grandeur, beauty, and force, in the English language:
and the Alastor of Shelly, is full of passages of exquisite
tenderness and almost unequalled finish of versification. But I have
never laid either of them down with feelings that I wished might
remain. They excite the mind to a feverish and unhealthy action. We
find little in them to deepen our sympathies with our
fellows--little to make better the heart, or wiser the head."
"You discriminate with clearness, Caroline," he said; "I did not
know that you looked so narrowly into the merits of the world's
favorites. But to change the subject; do you intend going to Mrs.
Walsingham's next week?"
"Yes, I think I will be there."
"Are you fond of such assemblages?" the young man asked.
"Not particularly so," Caroline replied. "But I think it right to
mingle in society, although all of its forms are not pleasant to
"And why do you mingle in it then, if its sphere is uncongenial?"
"I cannot say, Mr. Clarence, that it is altogether uncongenial.
Wherever we go, into society, we come in contact with much that is
good. Beneath the false glitter, often assumed and worn without the
heart's being in it, but from a weak spirit of conformity, lies much
that is sound in principle, and healthy in moral life. In mingling,
then, in society, we aid to develope and strengthen these good
principles in others. We encourage, often, the weak and wavering,
and bring back such as are beginning to wander from the simple
dignity and truth of nature."
"But is there not danger of our becoming dazzled by the false
"There may be. But we need not fear this, if we settle in our minds
a right principle of action, and bind ourselves firmly to that
A pause followed this last remark, and then the subject of
conversation was again changed to one of a more general nature.
An evening or two after, Henry Clarence called in to see Melvina
Fenton. Melvina was what may be called a showy girl. Her
countenance, which was really beautiful, when animated, attracted
every eye. She had a constant flow of spirits, had dipped into many
books, and could make a little knowledge in these matters go a great
way. Clarence could not conceal from himself that he admired
Melvina, and, although his good sense and discrimination opposed
this admiration, he could rarely spend an evening with Miss Fenton,
without a strong prepossession in her favor. Still, with her, as
with every one, he maintained a consistency of character that
annoyed her. He could not be brought to flatter her in any way; and
for this she thought him cold, and often felt under restraint in his
society. One thing in her which he condemned, was her love of dress.
Often he would express a wonder to himself, how a young woman of her
good sense and information could be guilty of such a glaring
departure from true taste.
On this evening she received him in her very best manner. And she
was skilful at acting; so skilful, as even to deceive the keen eye
of Henry Clarence. Fully resolved on making a conquest, she studied
his character, and tried to adapt herself to it.
"I have your favorite here," she remarked, during the evening,
lifting a copy of Wordsworth from the centre table.
"Ah, indeed! so you have. Do you ever look into him, Miss Fenton?"
"O yes. I did not know what a treasure was hid in this volume,
until, from hearing your admiration of Wordsworth, I procured and
read it with delighted interest."
"I am glad that you are not disappointed. If you have a taste for
his peculiar style of thinking and writing, you have in that volume
an inexhaustible source of pleasure."
"I have discovered that, Mr. Clarence, and must thank you for the
delight I have received, and I hope I shall continue to receive."
Nearly two hours were spent by the young man in the company of Miss
Fenton, when he went away, more prepossessed in her favor than he
had yet been. She had played her part to admiration. The truth was,
Wordsworth, except in a few pieces, she had voted a dull book. By
tasking herself, she had mastered some passages, to which she
referred during the evening, and thus obtained credit for being far
more familiar with the poet of nature than she ever was or ever
would be. She went upon the principle of making a sensation, and
thus carrying hearts, or the heart she wished to assault, by storm.
"I believe that I really love that girl," Henry Clarence said, on
the evening before the party at Mrs. Walsingham's to a young friend.
"Who, Melvina Fenton?"
"She is certainly a beautiful girl."
"And interesting and intelligent."
"Yes--I know of no one who, in comparison with her, bears off the
"And still, there is one thing about her that I do not like. She is
too fond of dress and display."
"O, that is only a little foible. No one is altogether perfect."
"True--and the fault with me is, in looking after perfection."
"Yes, I think you expect too much."
"She is affectionate, and that will make up for many deficiencies.
And what is more, I can see plainly enough that her heart is
interested. The brightening of her cheek, the peculiar expression of
her eye, not to be mistaken, when certain subjects are glanced at,
convince me that I have only to woo to win her."
"What do you think of Caroline Gay?" asked his friend.
"Well, really, I can hardly tell what to think of her. She has
intelligence, good sense, and correct views on almost every subject.
But she is the antipodes of Melvina in feeling. If she were not so
calm and cold, I could love her; but I do not want a stoic for a
wife. I want a heart that will leap to my own, and send its emotion
to the cheek and eye."
"I am afraid you will not find an angel in this world," his friend
"No, nor do I want an angel. But I want as perfect a woman as I can
"You will have to take Melvina, then, for she has three exceeding
good qualities, at least, overshadowing all others."
"And what are they?"
"An affectionate heart."
"Something to be desired above every thing else. And her next good
"Her father is worth a 'plum.'"
"I would dispense with that, were she less fond of show, and effect,
and gay company."
"O, they are only the accompaniments of girlhood. As a woman and a
wife, she will lay them all aside."
"I should certainly hope so, were I going to link my lot with hers."
"Why, I thought your mind was made up."
"Not positively. I must look on a little longer, and scan a little
closer before I commit myself."
"Well, success to your marrying expedition. I belong yet to the free
In due time Mrs. Walshingham's splendid affair came off.
"Isn't she an elegant woman!" exclaimed a young man in an under
tone, to a friend, who stood near Henry Clarence, as Melvina swept
into the room dressed in a style of elegance and effect that
attracted every eye.
"Beautiful!" responded his companion. "I must dance with her
to-night. I always make a point to have one round at least with the
belle of the ball-room."
The individual who last spoke, was well known to all in that room as
the betrayer of innocence. And Henry Clarence felt his cheek burn
and his heart bound with an indignant throb as he heard this remark.
"He will be disappointed, or I am mistaken," he said to himself as
the two, who had been conversing near him, moved to another part of
the room. "But if Melvina Fenton has so little of that sensitive
innocence, that shrinks from the presence of guilt as to dance with
him, and suffer her hand to be touched by his, my mind is made up. I
will never marry her."
"She is the queen of beauty to-night, Clarence," said a friend
coming to Henry's side, and speaking in an under tone.
"She is, indeed, very beautiful; but I cannot help thinking a little
too showy. Her dress would be very good for the occasion were those
variegated roses taken from their blue ground. Flowers never grow on
such a soil; and her head dress is by far too conspicuous, and by no
means in good taste."
"Why you are critical to-night, Clarence. I thought Melvina one of
"I must confess a little good will towards her, and perhaps that is
the reason of my being somewhat particular in my observation of her
style of dress. Certainly, she makes a most decided sensation here
to-night; for every eye is upon her, and every tongue, that I have
yet heard speak is teeming with words of admiration."
"That she does," responded the friend. "Every other girl in the room
will be dying of envy or neglect before the evening is over."
"That would speak little for the gallantry of the men or the good
sense of the young ladies," was the quiet reply.
Several times the eye of Henry Clarence wandered around the room in
search of Caroline--but he did not see her in the gay assemblage.
"She told me she would be here," he mentally said, "and I should
really like to mark the contrast between her and the brilliant Miss
Fenton. Oh! there she is, as I live, leaning on the arm of her
father, the very personification of innocence and beauty. But her
face is too calm by half. I fear she is cold."
Truly was she as Henry Clarence had said, the personification of
innocence and beauty. Her dress of snowy whiteness, made perfectly
plain, and fitting well a figure that was rather delicate, but of
exquisite symmetry, contrasted beautifully with the gay and
flaunting attire of those around her. Her head could boast but a
single ornament, besides her own tastefully arranged hair, and that
was a sprig of buds and half-blown flowers as white as the dress she
had chosen for the evening. Her calm sweet face looked sweeter and
more innocent than ever, for the contrast of the whole scene
relieved her peculiar beauty admirably.
"An angel?" ejaculated a young man by the side of Clarence, moving
over towards the part of the room where Caroline stood, still
leaning on the arm of her father.
"We wanted but you to make our tableau complete," he said, with a
graceful bow. "Let me relieve you, Mr. Gay, of the care of this
young lady," he added offering his arm to Caroline--and in the next
minute he had joined the promenade with the sweetest creature in the
room by his side.
The beautiful contrast that was evident to all, between Caroline,
the plainest-dressed maiden in the room, and Melvina the gayest and
most imposing, soon drew all eyes upon the former, and Melvina had
the discrimination to perceive that she had a rival near the throne,
in one whom she little dreamed of fearing; and whose innocent heart
she knew too well to accuse of design.
Soon cotillion parties were formed, and among the first to offer his
hand to Melvina, was a young man named Sheldon, the same alluded to
as declaring that he would dance with her, as he always did with the
belle of the ball room. Melvina knew his character well, and Henry
Clarence was aware that she possessed this knowledge. His eye was
upon her, and she knew it. But she did not know of the determination
that he formed or else she would have hesitated.
"The most splendid man in the room, and the most graceful dancer,"
were the thoughts that glanced through her mind, as she smiled an
assent to his invitation to become his partner. "I shall not yet
lose my power."
And now all eyes were again upon the brilliant beauty threading the
mazy circles, with glowing cheek and sparkling eye. And few thought
of blaming her for dancing with Sheldon, whose character ought to
have banished him from virtuous society. But there was one whose
heart sickened as he looked on, and that one was Henry Clarence. He
lingered near the group of dancers but a few minutes, and then
wandered away to another room.
"Permit me to transfer my company, Mr. Clarence," said the young man
who had thus far monopolized the society of Caroline Gay. "I will
not be selfish; and besides, I fear I am becoming too dull for my
fair friend here."
With a bow and a smile, Clarence received on his arm the fair girl.
He felt for her a tenderer regard than had heretofore warmed his
heart, as he strolled through the rooms and listened to her sweet,
penetrating voice. And whenever he turned and looked her in the
face, he saw that in the expression of her eyes which he had never
marked before--something of tenderness that made his own heart beat
with a quicker motion. As they drew near the dancers, they observed
Sheldon with Melvina leaning on his arm, and two or three others,
engaged in maikng up another cotillion.
"We want but one more couple, and here they are," said Sheldon, as
Clarence and Caroline came up.
"Will you join this set?" asked Clarence, in a low tone.
"Not _this_ one," she replied.
"Miss Gay does not wish to dance now," her companion said, and they
But the cotillion was speedily formed without them, and the dance
Half an hour after, while Henry Clarence and Caroline were sitting
on a lounge, engaged in close conversation, Sheldon came up, and
bowing in his most graceful manner, and, with his blandest smile,
"Can I have the pleasure of dancing with Miss Gay, this evening?"
"No, sir," was the quiet, firm reply of the maiden, while she looked
him steadily in the face.
Sheldon turned hurriedly away, for he understood the rebuke, the
first he had yet met with in the refined, fashionable, virtuous
society of one of the largest of the Atlantic cities.
The heart of Henry Clarence blessed the maiden by his side.
"You are not averse to dancing, Caroline?" he said.
"O no. But I do not dance with _every_ one."
"In that you are right, and I honor your decision and independence
During the remainder of the evening, she danced several times, more
frequently with Henry than with any other, but never in a cotillion
of which Sheldon was one of the partners. Much to the pain and alarm
of Melvina, Clarence did not offer to dance with her once; and long
before the gay assemblage broke up, her appearance had failed to
produce any sensation. The eye tired of viewing her gaudy trapping,
and turned away unsatisfied. But let Caroline go where she would,
she was admired by all. None wearied of her chaste, simple and
beautiful attire; none looked upon her mild, innocent face, without
an expression, tacit or aloud, of admiration. Even the rebuked, and
for a time angered, Sheldon, could not help ever and anon seeking
her out amid the crowd, and gazing upon her with a feeling of
respect that he tried in vain to subdue.
Melvina had sought to produce a "sensation" by gay and imposing
attire, and after a brief and partial success, lost her power. But
Caroline, with no wish to be noticed, much less to be the reigning
belle of the evening, consulting her own pure taste, went in simple
garments, and won the spontaneous admiration of all, and, what was
more, the heart of Henry Clarence. He never, after that evening,
could feel any thing of his former tenderness towards Melvina
Felton. The veil had fallen from his eyes. He saw the difference
between the desire of admiration, and a simple love of truth and
honor, too plainly, to cause him to hesitate a moment longer in his
choice between two so opposite in their characters. And yet, to the
eye of an inattentive observer nothing occurred during the progress
of Mrs. Walshingham's party more than ordinarily takes place on such
occasions. All seemed pleased and happy, and Melvina the happiest of
the whole. And yet she had signally failed in her well-laid scheme
to take the heart of Henry Clarence--while Caroline, with no such
design, and in simply following the promptings of a pure heart and a
right taste, had won his affectionate regard.
It was some three or four months after the party at Mrs.
Walshingham's, that Melvina Fenton and Caroline Gay were alone in
the chamber of the latter, in close and interested conversation.
"I have expected as much," the former said, in answer to some
communication made to her by the latter.
"Then you are not surprised?"
"Not at all."
"And I hope not pained by the intelligence?"
"No, Caroline, not now," her friend said, smiling; "though two or
three months ago it would have almost killed me. I, too, have been
wooed and won."
"Indeed! That is news. And who is it, Melvina? I am eager to know."
"A gentleman, and every way worthy of your hand. But how in the
world comes it that so quiet and modest a young man as Martin has
now the dashing belle?"
"It has occurred quite naturally, Caroline. The dashing belle has
gained a little more good sense than she had a few months ago. She
has not forgotten the party at Mrs. Walsaingham's. And by the bye,
Caroline, how completely you out-generalled me on that occasion. I
had a great mind for a while never to forgive you."
"You are altogether mistaken, Melvina," Caroline said, with a
serious air. "I did not act a part on that occasion. I went but in
my true character, and exhibited no other."
"It was nature, then, eclipsing art; truth of character outshining
the glitter of false assumption. But all that is past, and I am
wiser and better for it, I hope. You will be happy, I know, with
Henry Clarence, for he is worthy of you, and can appreciate your
real excellence; and I shall be happy, I trust, with the man of my
"No doubt of it, Melvina. And by the way," Caroline said, laughing,
"we shall make another 'sensation,' and then we must be content to
retire into peaceful domestic obscurity. You will have a brilliant
time, I suppose?"
"O yes. I must try my hand at creating one more sensation, the last
and most imposing; and, as my wedding comes the first, you must be
my bridesmaid. You will not refuse?"
"Not if we can agree as to how we are to dress. We ought to be alike
in this, and yet I can never consent to appear in any thing but what
is plain, and beautiful for its simplicity."
"You shall arrange all these. You beat me the last time in creating
a sensation, and now I will give up to your better taste."
And rarely has a bride looked sweeter than did Melvina Fenton on her
wedding-day. Still, she was eclipsed by Caroline, whose native grace
accorded so well with her simple attire, that whoever looked upon
her, looked again, and to admire. The "sensation" they created was
not soon forgotten.
Caroline was married in a week after, and then the fair heroines of
our story passed from the notice of the fashionable world, and were
lost with the thousands who thus yearly desert the gay circles, and
enter the quiet sphere and sweet obscurity of domestic life.
SOMETHING FOR A COLD.
"Henry," said Mr. Green to his little son Henry, a lad in his eighth
year, "I want you to go to the store for me."
Mr. Green was a working-man, who lived in a comfortable cottage,
which he had built from money earned from honest industry. He was,
moreover, a sober, kind-hearted man, well liked by all his
neighbors, and beloved by his own family.
"I'm ready, father," said Henry, who left his play, and went to look
for his cap, the moment he was asked to go on an errand.
"Look in the cupboard, and get the pint flask. It's on the lower
Henry did as desired, and then asked--"What shall I get, father?"
"Tell Mr. Brady to send me a pint of good Irish whiskey."
The boy tripped lightly away, singing as he went. He was always
pleased to do an errand for his father.
"This cold of mine gets worse," remarked Mr. Green to his wife, as
Henry left the house. "I believe I'll try old Mr. Vandeusen's
remedy--a bowl of hot whiskey-punch. He says it always cures him; it
throws him into a free perspiration, and the next morning he feels
as clear as a bell."
"It is not always good," remarked Mrs. Green, "to have the pores
open. We are more liable to take cold."
"Very true. It is necessary to be careful how we expose ourselves
"I think I can make you some herb-tea, that would do you as much
good as the whiskey punch," said Mrs. Green.
"Perhaps you could," returned her husband, "but I don't like your
bitter stuff. It never was to my fancy."
Mrs. Green smiled, and said no more.
"A few moments afterwards, the door opened, and Henry came in,
looking pale and frightened.
"Oh, father!" he cried, panting, "Mr. Brooks is killing Margaret!"
"What!" Mr. Green started to his feet.
"Oh!" exclaimed the child, "he's killing her! he's killing her! I
saw him strike her on the head with his fist." And tears rolled over
the boy's cheeks.
Knowing Brooks to be a violent man when intoxicated, Mr. Green lost
not a moment in hesitation or reflection, but left his house
hurriedly, and ran to the dwelling of his neighbor, which was near
at hand. On entering the house, a sad scene presented itself. The
oldest daughter of Brooks, a girl in her seventeenth year, was lying
upon a bed, insensible, while a large bruised and bloody spot on the
side of her face showed where the iron fist of her brutal father had
done its fearful if not fatal work. Her mother bent over her,
weeping; while two little girls were shrinking with frightened looks
into a corner of the room.
Mr. Green looked around for the wretched man, who, in the insanity
of drunkenness, had done this dreadful deed; but he was not to be
"Where is Mr. Brooks?" he asked.
"He has gone for the doctor," was replied.
And in a few minutes he came in with a physician. He was partially
sobered, and his countenance had a troubled expression. His eyes
shrunk beneath the steady, rebuking gaze of his neighbors.
"Did you say your daughter had fallen down stairs?" said the doctor,
as he leaned over Margaret, and examined the dreadful bruise on her
"Yes--yes," stammered the guilty father, adding this falsehood to
the evil act.
"Had the injury been a few inches farther up, she would ere this
have breathed her last," said the doctor--looking steadily at
Brooks, until the eyes of the latter sunk to the floor.
Just then there were signs of returning life in the poor girl, and
the doctor turned towards her all his attention. In a little while,
she began to moan, and moved her arms about, and soon opened her
After she was fully restored again to conscious life, Mr. Green
returned to his home, where he was met with eager questions from his
wife.--After describing all he had seen, he made this remark--
"There are few better men than Thomas Brooks when he it sober; but
when he is drunk he acts like a demon."
"He must be a demon to strike with his hard fist, a delicate
creature like his daughter Margaret. And she is so good a girl. Ah,
me! to what dreadful consequences does this drinking lead!"
"It takes away a man's reason," said Mr. Green, "and when this is
gone, he becomes the passive subject of evil influences. He is, in
fact, no longer a man."
Mrs. Green sighed deeply.
"His poor wife!" she murmured; "how my heart aches for her, and his
poor children! If the husband and father changes, from a guardian
and provider for his family, into their brutal assailant, to whom
can they look for protection? Oh, it is sad! sad!"
"It is dreadful! dreadful!" said Mr. Green.--
"It is only a few years ago," he added, "since Brooks began to show
that he was drinking too freely. He always liked his glass, but he
knew how to control himself, and never drowned his reason in his
cups. Of late, however, he seems to have lost all control over
himself. I never saw a man abandon himself so suddenly."
"All effects of this kind can be traced back to very small
beginnings," remarked Mrs. Green.
"Yes. A man does not become a drunkard in a day. The habit is one of
very gradual formation."
"But when once formed," said Mrs. Green, "hardly any power seems
strong enough to break it. It clings to a man as if it were a part
"And we might almost say that it was a part of himself," replied Mr.
Green: "for whatever we do from a confirmed habit, fixes in the mind
an inclination thereto, that carries us away as a vessel is borne
upon the current of a river."
"How careful, then, should every one be, not to put himself in the
way of forming so dangerous a habit. Well do I remember when Mr.
Brooks was married. A more promising young man could not be
found--nor one with a kinder heart. The last evil I feared for him
and his gentle wife was that of drunkenness. Alas! that this
calamity should have fallen upon their household.--What evil, short
of crime, is greater than this?"
"It is so hopeless," remarked Mr. Green. "I have talked with Brooks
a good many times, but it has done no good. He promises amendment,
but does not keep his promise a day."
"Touch not, taste not, handle not. This is the only safe rule," said
"Yes, I believe it," returned her husband.--"The man who never
drinks is in no danger of becoming a drunkard."
For some time, Mr. and Mrs. Green continued to converse about the
sad incident which had just transpired in the family of their
neighbor, while their little son, upon whose mind the fearful sight
he had witnessed was still painfully vivid, sat and listened to all
they were saying, with a clear comprehension of the meaning of the
After awhile the subject was dropped. There had been a silence of
some minutes, when the attention of Mr. Green was again called to
certain unpleasant bodily sensations, and he said--
"I declare! this cold of mine is very bad. I must do something to
break it before it gets worse. Henry, did you get that Irish whiskey
I sent for?"
"No, sir," replied the child, "I was so frightened when I saw Mr.
Brooks strike Margaret, that I ran back."
"Oh, well, I don't wonder! It was dreadful. Mr. Brooks was very
wicked to do so. But take the flask and run over to the store. Tell
Brady that I want a pint of good Irish whiskey."
Henry turned from his father, and went to the table on which he had
placed the flask. He did not move with his usual alacrity.
"It was whiskey, wasn't it," said the child, as he took the bottle
in his hand, "that made Mr. Brooks strike Margaret?" And he looked
so earnestly into his father's face, and with so strange an
expression, that the man felt disturbed, while he yet wondered at
the manner of the lad.
"Yes," replied Mr. Green, "it was the whiskey. Mr. Brooks, if he had
been sober, would not have hurt a hair of her head."
Henry looked at the bottle, then at his father, in so strange a way,
that Mr. Green, who did not at first comprehend what was in the
child's thoughts wondered still more. All was soon understood, for
Harry, bursting into tears, laid down the flask, and, throwing his
arms around his father's neck, said--
"Oh, father! don't get any whiskey!"
Mr. Green deeply touched by the incident, hugged his boy tightly to
his bosom. He said--
"I only wanted it for medicine, dear. But, never mind. I won't let
such dangerous stuff come into my house. Mother shall make me some
of her herb-tea, and that will do as well."
Henry looked up, after a while, timidly.--"You're not angry with me,
father?" came from his innocent lips.
"Oh, no, my child! Why should I be angry?" replied Mr. Green,
kissing the cheek of his boy. Then the sunshine came back again to
Henry's heart, and he was happy as before.
Mrs. Green made the herb-tea for her husband, and it proved quite as
good for him as the whiskey-punch. A glass or two of cold water, on
going to bed, would probably have been of more real advantage in the
case, than either of these doubtful remedies.
"BLESS the happy art!" ejaculated Mrs. Morton, wiping the moisture
from her eyes. "Could anything be more perfect than that likeness of
his sweet, innocent face? Dear little Willie! I fear I love him too
"It is indeed perfect," said Mr. Morton, after viewing the picture
in many lights. "My favourite painter has surpassed himself. What
could be more like life, than that gentle, half-pensive face looking
so quiet and thoughtful, and yet so full of childhood's most
innocent, happy expression?"
Mr. Morton, here introduced to the reader, was a wealthy merchant of
Philadelphia, and a liberal patron of the arts. He had, already,
obtained several pictures from Sully, who was, with him, as an
artist, a great favourite. The last order had just been sent home.
It was a portrait of his youngest, and favourite child--a sweet
little boy, upon whose head three summers had not yet smiled.
"I would not take the world for it!" said Mrs. Morton after looking
at it long and steadily for the hundredth time. "Dear little fellow!
A year from now, and how changed he will be. And every year he will
be changing and changing; but this cannot alter, and even from the
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