The Home Mission
Part 2 out of 4
thoughtlessness. It was, no doubt, so with Mr. Leland on the
occasion to which you refer."
"We are rarely mistaken, Florence," replied Carlotti, "as to the
real sentiment involved in the words used by those with whom we
converse. Words are the expressions of thoughts, and these the form
of affections. What a man really feels in reference to any subject,
will generally appear in the tones of his voice, no matter whether
he speak lightly or seriously. Depend upon it, this is so. It was
the manner in which Leland spoke that satisfied me as to his real
feelings, more than the language he used. Judging him in this way, I
am well convinced that, in his heart, he despises religion; and no
man who does this, can possibly make a right-minded woman happy."
The gentle warning of Carlotti was not wholly lost on Florence. She
had great confidence in the judgment of her friend, and did not feel
that it would be right to wholly disregard her admonitions.
"What answer can I make?" said she, drawing a long sigh. "He urges
an early response to his suit."
"Duty to yourself, Florence, demands a time for consideration.
Marriage is a thing of too vital moment to be decided upon
hurriedly. Say to him in reply, that his offer is unexpected, and
that you cannot give an immediate answer, but will do so at the
earliest possible moment."
"So cold a response may offend him."
"If it does, then he will exhibit a weakness of character unfitting
him to become the husband of a sensible woman. If he be really
attracted by your good qualities, he will esteem you the more for
this act of prudence. He will understand that you set a high regard
upon the marriage relation, and do not mean to enter into it unless
you know well the person to whom you commit your happiness in this
world, and, in all probability, the next."
"A coldly calculating spirit, Carlotti, that nicely weighs and
balances the merits and defects of one beloved, is, in my view,
hardly consonant with true happiness in marriage. All have defects
of character. All are born with evil inclinations of one kind or
another. Love seeks only for good in the object of affection.
Affinities of this kind are almost spontaneous in their birth. We
love more from impulse than from any clear appreciation of
character--perceiving good qualities by a kind of instinct rather
than searching for them."
"A doctrine, Florence," said Carlotti, "that has produced untold
misery in the married life. As I said at first, it is only the moral
virtue of her husband that a woman can love--it is only this, as a
uniting principle, that can make two married partners one. The
qualities of all minds express themselves in words and actions, and,
by a close observance of these latter, we may determine the nature
of the former. We cannot perceive them with sufficient clearness to
arrive at a sound judgment: the only safe method is to determine the
character of the tree by its fruits. Take sufficient time to arrive
at a knowledge of Mr. Leland's character by observation, and then
you can accept or reject him under the fullest assurance that you
are acting wisely."
"Perhaps you are right," murmured Florence. "I will weigh carefully
what you have said."
And she did so. Much to the disappointment of Mr. Leland, he
received a reply from Florence asking a short time for reflection.
When Florence next met the young man, there was, as a natural
consequence, some slight embarrassment on both sides. On separating,
Florence experienced a certain unfavourable impression toward him,
although she could not trace it to any thing he had said or done. At
their next meeting, Leland's reserve had disappeared, and he
exhibited a better flow of spirits. He was more off his guard than
usual, and said a good many things that rather surprised Florence.
Impatient of delay, Leland again pressed his suit; but Florence was
further than ever from being ready to give an answer. She was not
prepared to reject him, and as little prepared to give a favourable
answer. Her request to be allowed further time for consideration,
wounded his pride; and, acting under its influence, he determined to
have his revenge on her by suing for the hand of another maiden, and
bearing her to the altar while she was hesitating over the offer he
had made. With this purpose in view, he penned a kind and polite
note, approving her deliberation, and desiring her to take the
fullest time for reflection. "Marriage," said he, in this note, "is
too serious a matter to be decided upon hastily. It is a life-union,
and the parties who make it should be well satisfied that there
exists a mutual fitness for each other."
Two days passed after Florence received this note before seeing her
friend Carlotti. She then called upon her in order to have further
conversation on the subject of the proposal she had received. The
tenor of this note had produced a favourable change in her feelings,
and she felt strongly disposed to make a speedy termination of the
debate in her mind by accepting her attractive suitor.
"Are you not well?" was her first remark on seeing Carlotti, for her
friend looked pale and troubled.
"Not very well, dear," replied Carlotti, making an effort to assume
a cheerful aspect.
The mind of Florence was too intent on the one interesting subject
that occupied it to linger long on any other theme. But a short time
elapsed before she said, with a warmer glow on her cheeks--
"I believe I have made up my mind, Carlotti."
"The offer of Mr. Leland."
"Well, what is your decision?" Carlotti held her breath for an
"I will accept him."
Without replying, Carlotti arose, and going to a drawer, took
therefrom a letter addressed to herself and handing it to Florence,
There was something ominous in the manner of Carlotti, which caused
Florence to become agitated. Her hands trembled as she unfolded the
letter. It bore the date of the day previous, and read thus:--
"MY DEAR CARLOTTI: From the first moment I saw you, I felt that you
were the one destined to make me happy or miserable. Your image has
been present to me, sleeping or waking, ever since. I can turn in no
way that it is not before me. The oftener I have met you, the more
have I been charmed by the gentleness, the sweetness, the purity,
and excellence of your character. With you to walk through life by
my side, I feel that my feet would tread a flowery way; but if
heaven have not this blessing in store for me, I shall be, of all
men, most miserable. My heart is too full to write more. And have I
not said enough? Love speaks in brief but eloquent language. Dear
young lady, let me hear from you speedily. I shall be wretched until
I know your decision. Heaven give my suit a favourable issue!
A deadly paleness overspread the countenance of Florence as the
letter dropped from her hands; and she leaned back against her
friend to prevent falling to the floor. But, in a little while, she
"And this to _you_?" said she, with a quivering lip, as she gazed
earnestly into the face of her friend.
"Yes, Florence, that to _me_."
"Can I trust my own senses? Is there not some illusion? Let me look
at it again."
And Florence stooped for the letter, and fixed her eyes upon it once
more. The language was plain, and the handwriting she knew too well.
"False-hearted!" she murmured, in a low and mournful voice, covering
her face and sobbing.
"Yes, Florence," said her friend, "he is false-hearted. How thankful
am I that you have escaped! Evidently in revenge for your prudent
deliberation, he has sought an alliance with another. Had that other
one accepted his heartless proposal, he would have met your
favourable answer to his suit with insult."
For a long time, Florence wept on the bosom of her friend. Then her
feelings grew calmer, and her mind became clear.
"What an escape!" fell from her lips as she raised her head and
turned her still pale face toward Carlotti. "Thanks, my wiser
friend, for your timely, yet gentle warning! Your eyes saw deeper
"Yes, yes; you have made an escape!" said Carlotti. "With such a
man, your life could only have been wretched."
"Have you answered his letter?" asked Florence.
"Not yet. But if you are inclined to do so, we will, on the same
sheet of paper and under the same envelope, each decline the honour
of an alliance. Such a rebuke he deserves, and we ought to give it."
And such a rebuke they gave.
A few months later, and Leland led to the altar a young lady reputed
to be an heiress.
A year afterward, just on the eve of Florence's marriage to a
gentleman in every way worthy to take her happiness in his keeping,
she sat alone with her fast friend Carlotti. They were conversing of
the bright future.
"And for all this joy, in store for me, Carlotti," said Florence,
leaning toward her friend and laying her hand affectionately on her
cheek, "I am indebted to you."
"To me? How to me, dear?" asked Carlotti.
"You saved me from an alliance with Leland. Oh, into what an abyss
of wretchedness would I have fallen! I heard to-day that, after
cruelly abusing poor Agnes in Charleston, where they removed, he
finally abandoned her. Can it be true?"
"It is, I believe, too true. Agnes came back to her friends last
week, bringing with her a babe. I have not seen her; but those who
have tell me that her story of suffering makes the heart ache. She
looks ten years older."
"Ah me!" sighed Florence. "Marriage--how much it involves! Even now,
as I stand at its threshold, with so much that looks bright in the
future, I tremble. Of Edward's excellent character and goodness of
heart, all bear testimony. He is every thing I could wish; but will
I make him happy?"
"Not all you could wish," said Carlotti, seriously. "None are
perfection here; and you must not expect this. You will find, in
your husband's character, faults. Anticipate this; but let the
anticipation prepare you to bear with rather than be hurt when they
appear, and do not seek too soon to correct them. It is said by a
certain deeply-seeing writer on spiritual themes, that when the
angels come to try one, they explore his mind only to find the good
therein, that they may excite it to activity. Be, then, your
husband's angel; explore his mind for the good it contains, and seek
to develop and strengthen it. Looking intently at what is good in
him, you will not be likely to see faults looming up and assuming a
magnitude beyond their real dimensions. But when faults appear, as
they assuredly will, compare them with your own; and, as you would
have him exercise forbearance toward you, do you exercise
forbearance toward him. Be wise in your love, my friend. Wisdom and
love are married partners. If you separate them, neither is a safe
guide. But if you keep them united, like a rower who pulls both
oars, you will glide swiftly forward in a smooth sea."
Florence bent her head as she listened, and every word of her friend
made its impression. Long after were they remembered and acted upon,
and they saved her from hours of pain. Florence is a happy wife; but
how near did she come to making shipwreck of her love-freighted
heart? There are times when, in thinking of it, she trembles.
KATE HARBELL, a high-spirited girl, who had a pretty strong will of
her own, was about being married. Like a great many others of her
age and sex who approach the matrimonial altar, Kate's notions of
the marriage relation were not the clearest in the world.
Ferdinand Lee, the betrothed of Kate, a quiet, sensitive young man,
had, perhaps, as strong a will as the young lady herself, though it
was more under the control of reason. He was naturally impatient of
dictation or force, and a strong love of approbation made him feel
keenly any thing like satire, ridicule or censure. To point him to a
fault was to wound if not offend him. Here lay the weakness of his
character. All this, on the other side, was counterbalanced by kind
feelings, good sense, and manly principles. He was above all
meanness or dishonour.
Of course, Kate did not fully understand his character. Such a thing
as a young girl's accurate knowledge of the character of the man she
is about to marry, is of very rare occurrence. She saw enough of
good qualities to make her love him with tenderness and devotion;
but she also saw personal defects that were disagreeable in the
object of her affections. But she did not in the least doubt that
all these she could easily correct in him after she became his wife.
From a defect of education, or from a natural want of neatness and
order, Ferdinand Lee was inclined to (sic) carelessnes in his
attire; and also exhibited a certain want of polish in his manners
and address that was, at times, particularly annoying to Kate.
"I'll break him of that when I get him," said the young lady to a
married friend, alluding to some little peculiarity both had
"Don't be too certain," returned the lady, smiling.
Kate tossed her head in a resolute way.
"I'll see you disappointed."
"Wait a little while. Before I'm his wife six months, you'll hardly
know the man, there'll be such a change."
"The change is far more likely to take place in you."
"Why do you say that, Mrs. Morton?" inquired Kate, looking grave.
"Because I think so. Men are not so easily brought into order, and
the attempt at reformation and correction by a young wife generally
ends in painful disappointment. If you begin this work you will, in
all probability, find yourself tasked beyond your ability. I speak
from some experience, having been married for about ten years, and
having seen a good many young girls come up into our ranks from the
walks of single blessedness. Take my advice, and look away from
Frederick's faults and disagreeable peculiarities as much as
possible, and think more of his manly traits of character--his fine
sentiments, and honourable principles."
"I do look at them and love them," replied Kate, with animation.
"These won my heart at first, and now unite me to him in bonds that
cannot be broken. But if on a precious gem there be a slight blemish
that mars its beauty, shall we not seek to remove the defect, and
thus give the jewel a higher lustre? Will you say, no?"
"I will, if in the act there be danger of injuring the gem."
"I don't understand you, Mrs. Morton?"
"Reflect for a moment, and see if my meaning is not apparent."
"You think I will offend him if I point out a fault, or seek to
"A result most likely to follow."
"I will not think so poorly of his good sense," answered Kate, with
some gravity of manner. The suggestion half offended her.
"None are perfect, my young friend; don't forget that," said Mrs.
Morton, with equal seriousness. "To think differently is a common
mistake of persons circumstanced as you are."
"It's no mistake of mine, let me assure you," replied Kate. "I can
see faults as quickly as any one. Love can't blind me. It is because
I see defects in Frederick that I wish to correct them."
"And you trust to his good sense to take the work of correction
"Certainly I do."
"Then you most probably think him more perfect than he really is.
Very few people can bear to be told of their faults, and fewer still
to be told of them by those they love. Love is expected to be blind
to defects; therefore, when it is seen looking at and pointing them
out, the feeling produced is, in the very nature of things, a
disagreeable one. Take my advice, and let Frederick's faults alone,
at least for a year after you are married; and even then put your
hand on them very lightly, and as if by accident."
"Do you think I could see him lounge, or, rather, slide down in his
chair in that ungraceful way, and not speak to him about it? Not I.
It makes me nervous now; and, if I wasn't afraid he might take it
unkindly, would call his attention to it."
"Do you think he will be less likely to take it unkindly after
"Certainly. Then I will have a right to speak to him about it."
"Then marriage will give you certain rights over your husband?"
"It will give him rights over me, and a very poor rule that is which
doesn't work both ways. Marriage will make him my husband; and,
surely, a wife may tell her husband that he is not perfect, without
"Kate, Kate; you don't know what you are talking about, child!"
"I think I do."
"And I know you don't."
"Oh, well, Mrs. Morton, we won't quarrel about it," said Kate,
laughing. "I mean to make one of the best of wives, and have one of
the best of husbands to be found. He will require a little fixing up
to make him just to my mind, but don't you fear but what I'll do it
in the gentlest possible manner. Women have more taste than men, you
know, and a man never looks and acts just right until he gets a
woman to take charge of him."
A happy bride Kate became a few months after this little
conversation took place, and Lee thought himself the most fortunate
of men in obtaining such a lovely, accomplished, and right-minded
woman for a wife. Swiftly glided away the sweet honey-moon, without
a jar of discord, though, during the time, Kate saw a good many
things not exactly to her mind, and which she set down as needing
One evening, it was just five weeks after the marriage, and when
they were snugly settled in their own house, Frederick Lee was
seated before the grate, in a handsome rocking-chair, his body in a
position that it would have required a stretch of language to
pronounce graceful or becoming. He had drawn off one of his boots,
that was lying on the floor, and the leg from which it had been
taken was hanging over an arm of his chair. He had slipped forward
in the chair--his ordinary mode of sitting, or, rather, lying--so
far that his head, which, if he had been upright, would have been
even with the top of the back, was at least twelve inches below it.
To add to the effect of his position, he was swinging the bootless
leg that hung across the arm of the chair with a rapid, circling
motion. He had been reclining in this inelegant attitude for about
ten minutes, when Kate, who had permitted herself to become a good
deal annoyed by it, said to him, rather earnestly--
"Do, Frederick, sit up straight, and try and be a little more
graceful in your positions."
"What's that?" inquired the young man, as if he had not heard
"Can't you sit up straight?"
Kate smiled; but Lee saw that it was a forced smile.
"Oh, yes," he answered, indifferently. "I can sit up straight as an
arrow, but I find this attitude most agreeable."
"If you knew how you looked," said Kate.
"How do I look?" asked the young man, playfully.
"Oh! you look--you look more like a country clod-hopper than any
There was a sharpness in Kate's tones that fell unpleasantly on the
ears of the young man.
"Do I, indeed!" was his rather cold remark. Yet he did not change
"Indeed, you do," said the wife, who was, by this time, beginning to
feel a good deal of irritation; for she saw that Frederick was not
inclined to respond in the way she had hoped, to her very reasonable
desire that he would assume a more graceful attitude. "The fact is,"
she continued, impelled to further utterance by the excited state of
her feelings, although she was conscious of having already said more
than was agreeable to her husband, "you ought to correct yourself of
these ungraceful and undignified habits. It shows a want of"--
Kate stopped suddenly. She felt that she was about using words that
would inevitably give offence.
"A want of what?" inquired Lee, in a low, firm voice, while he
continued to look his young wife steadily in the face.
Kate's eyes fell to the floor and she remained silent.
"Ungraceful and undignified. Humph!"
Lee was evidently hurt at this allegation, as the tone in which he
repeated the words clearly showed.
"Do you call your present attitude graceful?" Kate asked, rallying
herself under the reflection that she was right.
"It is comfortable for me; and, therefore, ought to be graceful in
your eyes," was the young man's perverse answer. Not the slightest
change had yet taken place in his position.
This was beyond what the high spirited lady could bear, and she
retorted with more feeling than discretion:
"Love is not blind in my case, I can assure you, Frederick, and
never will be. You are very ungraceful and untidy, and annoy me,
sometimes, excessively. I wish you would try to correct these
There was something cool and provoking in the way Lee said this.
"I do, Frederick, and I'm in earnest."
The cheeks of Kate were in a glow, and her eyes lit up, and her lips
"How long since you made the discovery that I was only a country
clod-hopper?" said Lee, who was particularly annoyed by Kate's
unexpected charges against his good-breeding.
"I didn't say you were only a country clod-hopper," replied Kate.
"I believe you used the words. My ears rarely deceive me. I must own
to feeling highly complimented."
"Do sit up straight, Frederick! Do take your leg from over the arm
of that chair! You make me so nervous that I can hardly contain
"Really! I thought a man was privileged to sit in any position he
pleased in his own house."
The excitement of Kate's mind had, by this time, reached a crisis.
Bursting into tears, she hurried from the room, and went sobbing up
to her chamber.
Here was a fine state of affairs, indeed! Was ever a man so perverse
Did Frederick Lee follow, quickly, his weeping wife? No; his pride
was too deeply wounded for that.
"A country clod-hopper! Undignified and ungraceful! Upon my word!"
Such were some of his mental ejaculations. And then, as his feelings
grew excited, he started up from his chair and began pacing the
floor, muttering, as he did so--
"It is rather late in the day to make this discovery! Why didn't she
find it out before? Humph!"
Meanwhile, Kate had thrown herself across her bed, where she lay,
What a storm had suddenly been blown about their ears!
It was fully an hour before Frederick Lee's disturbed feelings began
to run at all clear. He was both surprised and offended. What could
all this mean? What had all at once come over his young wife?
"A country clod-hopper!" he muttered to himself over and over again.
"Ungraceful--ungenteel, and all that! Very complimentary, indeed!"
When Lee joined his wife in their chamber, two hours after she had
left him, he found that she had retired to bed and was sleeping.
On the next morning both looked very sober, and both were cold and
distant. A few words only passed between them. It was the same when
they met at dinner-time, and the same when Lee came home in the
evening. During the whole of this day, the thought of each was upon
the other; but it was not a forgiving thought. Kate cherished angry
feelings toward her husband; and Lee continued to be offended at the
freedom of expression which his young wife had ventured to use
toward him. Of course, both were very unhappy.
The formal intercourse of the tea-table having ended, Lee, feeling
little inclined to pass the evening with his reserved and
sober-looking partner, put on his hat, and merely remarking that he
would not return until bed-time, left the house. This act startled
Kate. With the jar of the closing door came a gush of tears. The
evening was passed alone. How wretched she felt as the hours moved
It was nearly eleven o'clock when Lee came home. By that time, the
mind of Kate was in an agony of suspense. More than once the thought
that he had abandoned her intruded itself, and filled her with fear
and anguish. What a relief to her feelings it was when she heard the
rattle of his night-key in the lock! But she could not meet him with
a smile. She could not throw her arms around his neck, and press her
hot cheek to his. No: for she felt that he was angry with her
without just cause, and had visited with unjust severity a light
offence--if, so far as she was concerned, her act were worthy to be
called an offence.
And so they looked coldly upon each other when they met, and then
averted their eyes.
The morning broke, but with no fairer promise of a sunny day. Clouds
obscured their whole horizon. Coldly they parted after the brief and
scarcely tasted meal. How wretched they were!
During the forenoon, Mrs. Morton, the friend of Mrs. Lee, called in
to see her young friend.
"Why, Kate! What has happened?" she exclaimed, the moment she saw
Mrs. Lee tried to smile and look indifferent, as she answered--
"Happened? Why do you say that?"
"You look as if you hadn't a friend left in the world!"
"And I don't know that I have," said Mrs. Lee, losing, all at once,
her self-command, and permitting the ready tears to gush forth.
"Why, Kate, dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Morton, drawing her arm around the
neck of her young friend. "What is the meaning of all this?
Something wrong with Frederick?"
Kate was silent.
Mrs. Morton reflected for a moment, and then said--
"Been trying to correct some of his faults, ha?"
No answer. But the sobbing became less violent.
"Ah, Kate! Kate! I warned you of this."
"Warned me of what?"
Mrs. Lee lifted her head, and tried to assume an air of dignity as
"I warned you that Frederick would not bear it, if you attempted to
lay your hand upon his faults."
Kate raised her head higher, and compressed her lips. Still she did
"A young husband, naturally enough, thinks himself faultless--at
least in the eyes of his wife."
"Very far from faultless is Frederick in my eyes," said Kate. "My
love is not blind, and so I told him."
"Yes, I did, and in so many words," replied Kate, with spirit.
"Ah, silly child!" returned her friend. "Already you have the reward
of your folly. I forewarned you how it would be."
"Are my wishes, feelings, and taste to be of no account whatever?"
said Kate, warmly. "Frederick is to be and do just what he pleases,
and I must say nothing, do nothing, and bear every thing. Was this
the contract between us? No, Mrs. Morton!"
The bright eyes of Mrs. Lee flashed with indignant fire.
"Come, come, Katy, dear! Don't let that impulsive heart of thine
lead thee too far aside from the path of prudence and safety. I am
sure that Frederick Lee is no self-willed, exacting, domestic
tyrant. I could not have been so deceived in him. But tell me the
particular cause of your trouble. What has been said and done? You
have given offence, and he has become offended. Tell me the whole
story, Kate, and then I'll know what to say and do for the
restoration of your peace."
"You are aware," said Kate, after a brief pause, and with a
deepening flush on her cheeks, "how awkward and untidy Frederick is
at times,--how he lounges in his chair, and throws his body into all
manner of ungraceful attitudes."
"This, as you know, has always annoyed me sadly. Night before last,
I felt so worried with him, that I could not help speaking right
"Ah! when you were worried?"
"Of course. If I hadn't felt worried, I wouldn't have said any
"Indeed! Well, what did you say? Was your tone of voice low and full
of love, and your words as gentle as the falling dew?"
There was a half-angry, indignant expression in the voice of Kate.
"Did you lay your hand lightly, like the touch of a feather, upon
the fault you designed to correct, or did you grasp it rudely and
Kate's eyes drooped beneath those of her friend.
"You were annoyed and excited," continued Mrs. Morton. "This by your
own acknowledgment, and, in such a frame of mind, you charged with
faults the one who had vainly thought himself, at least in your
eyes, perfect. And he, as a natural consequence, was hurt and
offended. But what did you say to him?"
"I hardly know what I said, now," returned Kate. "But I know I used
the words ungraceful, undignified, and country clod-hopper."
"Why, Kate! I am surprised at you! And this to so excellent a man as
Frederick, who, from all the fair and gentle ones around him, chose
you to be his bosom friend and life companion. Kate, Kate! That was
unworthy of you. That was unkind to him. I do not wonder that he was
hurt and offended."
"Perhaps I was wrong, Mrs. Morton," said Kate, as tears began to
flow again. "But Frederick's want of order, grace, and neatness, is
dreadful. I cannot tell you how much it annoys me."
"You saw all this before you were married."
"Not all of it."
"You saw enough to enable you to judge of the rest."
"True; but then I always meant to correct these things in him. They
were but blemishes on a jewel of surpassing value."
"Ah, Kate, you have proved the truth of what I told you before your
marriage. It is not so easy a thing to correct the faults of a
husband--faults confirmed by long habit. Whenever a wife attempts
this, she puts in jeopardy, for the time being at least, her
happiness, as you have done. A man is but little pleased to make the
discovery that his wife thinks him no better than a country
clod-hopper; and it is no wonder that he should be offended, if she,
with strange indiscreetness and want of tact, tells him in plain
terms what she thinks. Your husband is sensitive, Kate."
"I know he is."
"And keenly alive to ridicule."
"I am not aware of that."
"Then your reading of his character is less accurate than mine.
Moreover, he has a pretty good opinion of himself."
"We all have that."
"And a strong will, quiet as he is in exterior."
"Not stronger, perhaps, than I have."
"Take my advice, Kate," said Mrs. Morton, seriously, "and don't
bring your will in direct opposition to his."
"And why not? Am I not his equal? He is no master of mine. I did not
sell myself as his slave, that his will should be my law!"
"Silly child! How madly you talk!" said Mrs. Morton. "Not for the
world would I have Frederick hear such utterance from your lips.
Does he not love you tenderly? Has he not, in every way, sought your
happiness thus far in your brief married life? Is he not a man of
high moral virtue? Does not your alliance with him rather elevate
than depress you in the social rank? And yet, forsooth, because he
lounges in his chair, and permits his body, at times, to assume
ungraceful attitudes, you must throw the apple of discord into your
pleasant home to mar its beautiful harmonies."
"Surely, a wife may be permitted to speak to her husband, and even
seek to correct his faults," said Kate.
"Better shut her eyes to his faults, if seeing them is to make them
both unhappy. You are in a very strange mood, Kate."
"Am I?" returned Mrs. Lee, querulously.
"You are; and the quicker it passes away, the better for both
yourself and husband."
"I don't know how soon it will pass away," sighed Kate, moodily.
"Good-morning," said Mrs. Morton, rising and making a motion to
"You are not going?"
Kate glanced up with a look of surprise.
"Yes; I am afraid to stay here any longer," was the affected serious
reply. "I might catch something of your spirit, and then my husband
would find a change in his pleasant home. Good-morning. May I see
you in a better state of mind when we meet again."
And saying this, Mrs. Morton passed from the room so quickly that
Kate could not arrest the movement; so she remained seated, though a
little disturbed by her friend and monitor's sudden departure.
What Mrs. Morton had said, although it seemed not to impress the
mind of her young friend, yet lingered there, and now began
gradually to do its work.
As for Frederick Lee, he was unhappy enough. The words of Kate had
stung him severely.
"And so, in her eyes, I am no better than a country clod-hopper!"
Almost every hour was this repeated--sometimes mentally and
sometimes aloud; and at each repetition it disturbed his feelings
and awakened an unforgiving spirit.
"A clod-hopper, indeed! Wonder she never made this discovery
This was the thought of Lee as he left his place of business to
return home, on the evening of the day on which Mrs. Morton called
upon Kate. Why would he not look away from this? Why would he ponder
over and magnify the offence of Kate? Why would he keep this ever
before his eyes? His self-love had been wounded. His pride had been
touched. The weapon of ridicule had been used against him, and to
ridicule he was morbidly sensitive. Kate should have read his
character more closely, and should have understood it better. But
she was ignorant of his weaknesses, and bore heavily upon them ere
aware of their existence.
It was in this brooding, clouded, and unforgiving state of mind that
Frederick Lee took his way homeward. On entering his dwelling, which
he did almost noiselessly, he went into the parlour and seated
himself in the very place where he was sitting when Kate began, so
unexpectedly to him, her unsuccessful work of reformation. Every
thing around reminded him of that unfortunate evening--even the
lounging position he so naturally assumed, sliding down, as he did,
in the chair, and throwing one of his legs over the arm.
"It is comfortable for me," said he, moodily to himself; "and it's
my own house. If she don't like it, let her--"
He did not finish the sentence, for he felt that his state of mind
was not what it should be, and that to speak thus of his wife was
neither just nor kind.
Unhappy young man! Is it thus you visit the light offence--for it
was light, in reality--of the loving and gentle young creature who
has given her happiness, her very life into your keeping? Could you
not bear a word from her? Are you so perfect, that her eyes must see
no defect? Is she never to dare, on penalty of your stern
displeasure, to correct a fault--to seek to lift you, by her purer
and better taste, above the ungraceful and unmanly habits consequent
upon a neglected boyhood? What if her hand was laid rather heavily
upon you? What if her feelings did prompt her to use words that had
better been left unsaid? It was the young wife's pride in her
husband that warmed her into undue excitement, and this you should
have at once comprehended.
If Frederick Lee did not think precisely as we have written, his
thoughts gradually inclined in that direction. Still he felt moody,
and his feelings warmed but little toward Kate.
Thus he sat for some ten or fifteen minutes. At the end of this
time, he heard light footsteps coming down the stairs. He knew them
to be those of his wife. He did not move nor make a sound, but
rather crouched lower in his chair, the back of which was turned
toward the door. But his thought was on his wife. He saw her with
the eyes of his mind--saw her with her clouded countenance. His
heart throbbed heavily against his side, and he partially held his
Now her footsteps moved along the passage, and now he was conscious
that she had entered the room where he sat. Not the slightest
movement did he make--not a sign did he give of his presence. There
he sat, shrinking down in his chair, moody, gloomy, and angry with
Kate in his heart.
Was she aware of his presence? Had she heard him enter the house?
Such were the questioning thoughts that were in his mind.
Footsteps moved across the room. Now Kate was at the mantel-piece, a
few feet from the chair he occupied, for he heard her lay a book
thereon. Now she passed to the back window, and throwing it up,
pushed open the shutters, giving freer entrance to the waning light.
A deep silence followed. Now the stillness is broken by a gentle
sigh that floats faintly through the room. How rebukingly smote that
sigh upon the ears of Lee! How it softened his heart toward Kate,
the young and loving wife of his bosom! A slower movement in the
current of his angry feelings succeeds to this. Then it becomes
still. There is a pause.
But where is Kate? Has she left the room? He listens for some
movement, but not the slightest sound meets his ear.
"Kate!" No, he did not utter the word aloud, in tender accents,
though it was in his heart and on his tongue. Nor did he start up or
move. No, as if spell-bound, he remained crouching down in his
All at once he is conscious that some one is bending above him, and,
in the next moment, warm lips touch his forehead, gently,
hesitatingly, yet with a lingering pressure.
"Kate! Dear Kate!"
He has sprung to his feet, and his arms are flung around his wife.
"Forgive me, Frederick, if I seemed unkind to you," sobbed Kate, as
soon as she could command her voice. "There was no unkindness in my
"It is I who most need to ask forgiveness," replied Lee. "I who
"Hush! Not a word of that now," quickly returned Kate, placing her
hand upon his mouth. "Let the past be forgotten."
"And forgiven, too," said Lee, as he pressed his lips eagerly to
those of his wife.
How happy they were at this moment of reconciliation! How light
seemed the causes which had risen up to mar the beautiful harmony of
their lives! Haw weak and foolish both had been, as their acts now
appeared in eyes from which had fallen the scales of passion!
Both were wiser than in the aforetime. Kate tried to look away, as
much as possible, from the little faults which at first so much
annoyed her; while her husband turned his thoughts more narrowly
upon himself, at the same time that he made observation of other
men, and was soon well convinced that sundry changes in his habits
and manners might be made with great advantage. The more his eyes
were opened to these little personal defects, the more fully did he
forgive Kate for having in the beginning laid her hand upon them,
though not in the gentlest manner.
"Six months have passed since you were married," said Mrs. Morton
one day to Kate.
"Yes, six months have flown on wings of perfume," replied the happy
"I saw Frederick yesterday."
"Yes; and I knew him the moment my eyes rested upon him."
"Knew him! Why shouldn't you know him?"
Kate looked a little surprised.
"I thought he was to be so changed under your hands in six months,
that I would hardly recognise him."
There was an arch look in Mrs. Morton's eyes, and a merry flutter in
"Mrs. Morton! Now that is too bad!"
"Your experiment failed, did it not, dear?"
The door of the room in which the ladies were sitting opened at the
moment, and Frederick Lee entered.
"Not entirely," whispered Kate, as she bent to the ear of her
friend. "He is vastly improved--at least, in my eyes."
"And in others' eyes, too," thought Mrs. Morton, as she arose and
returned the young man's smiling salutation.
"MY FORTUNE'S MADE."
My young friend, Cora Lee, was a gay, dashing girl, fond of dress,
and looking always as if, to use a common saying, just out of a
bandbox. Cora was a belle, of course, and had many admirers. Among
the number of these, was a young man named Edward Douglass, who was
the very "pink" of neatness in all matters pertaining to dress, and
exceedingly particular in his observance of the little proprieties
I saw, from the first, that if Douglass pressed his suit, Cora's
heart would be an easy conquest, and so it proved.
"How admirably they are fitted for each other!" I remarked to my
husband, on the night of their wedding. "Their tastes are similar,
and their habits so much alike, that no violence will be done to the
feelings of either in the more intimate associations that marriage
brings. Both are neat in person and orderly by instinct, and both
have good principles."
"From all present appearances, the match will be a good one,"
replied my husband. There was, I thought, something like reservation
in his tone.
"Do you really think so?" I said, a little ironically, for Mr.
Smith's approval of the marriage was hardly warm enough to suit my
"Oh, certainly! Why not?" he replied.
I felt a little fretted at my husband's mode of speaking, but made
no further remark on the subject. He is never very enthusiastic nor
sanguine, and did not mean, in this instance, to doubt the fitness
of the parties for happiness in the marriage state--as I half
imagined. For myself, I warmly approved of my friend's choice, and
called her husband a lucky man to secure, for his companion through
life, a woman so admirably fitted to make one like him happy. But a
visit which I paid to Cora one day about six weeks after the
honeymoon had expired, lessened my enthusiasm on the subject, and
awoke some unpleasant doubts. It happened that I called soon after
breakfast. Cora met me in the parlour, looking like a very fright.
She wore a soiled and rumpled morning wrapper; her hair was in
papers; and she had on dirty stockings, and a pair of old slippers
down at the heels.
"Bless me, Cora!" said I. "What is the matter? Have you been sick?"
"No. Why do you ask? Is my dishabille rather on the extreme?"
"Candidly, I think it is, Cora," was my frank answer.
"Oh, well! No matter," she carelessly replied, "my fortune's made."
"I don't clearly understand you," said I.
"I'm married, you know."
"Yes; I am aware of that fact."
"No need of being so particular in dress now."
"Didn't I just say?" replied Cora. "My fortune's made. I've got a
Beneath an air of jesting, was apparent the real earnestness of my
"You dressed with a careful regard to taste and neatness, in order
to win Edward's love?" said I.
"Certainly I did."
"And should you not do the same in order to retain it?"
"Why, Mrs. Smith! Do you think my husband's affection goes no deeper
than my dress? I should be very sorry indeed to think that. He loves
me for myself."
"No doubt of that in the world, Cora. But remember that he cannot
see what is in your mind except by what you do or say. If he admires
your taste, for instance, it is not from any abstract appreciation
thereof, but because the taste manifests itself in what you do. And,
depend upon it, he will find it a very hard matter to approve and
admire your correct taste in dress, for instance, when you appear
before him, day after day, in your present unattractive attire. If
you do not dress well for your husband's eyes, for whose eyes, pray,
do you dress? You are as neat when abroad as you were before your
"As to that, Mrs. Smith, common decency requires me to dress well
when I go upon the street or into company, to say nothing of the
pride one naturally feels in looking well."
"And does not the same common decency and natural pride argue as
strongly in favour of your dressing well at home, and for the eye of
your husband, whose approval and whose admiration must be dearer to
you than the approval and admiration of the whole world?"
"But he doesn't want to see me rigged out in silks and satins all
the time. A pretty bill my dressmaker would have against him! Edward
has more sense than that, I flatter myself."
"Street or ball-room attire is one thing, Cora, and becoming home
apparel another. We look for both in their places."
Thus I argued with the thoughtless young wife, but my words made no
impression. When abroad, she dressed with exquisite taste, and was
lovely to look upon; but at home, she was careless and slovenly, and
made it almost impossible for those who saw her to realize that she
was the brilliant beauty they had met in company but a short time
before. But even this did not last long. I noticed, after a few
months, that the habits of home were confirming themselves, and
becoming apparent abroad. Her "fortune was made," and why should she
now waste time or employ her thoughts about matters of personal
The habits of Mr. Douglass, on the contrary, did not change. He was
as orderly as before, and dressed with the same regard to neatness.
He never appeared at the breakfast-table in the morning without
being shaved; nor did he lounge about in the evening in his
shirt-sleeves. The slovenly habits into which Cora had fallen
annoyed him seriously; and still more so, when her carelessness
about her appearance began to manifest itself abroad as well as at
home. When he hinted any thing on the subject, she did not hesitate
to reply, in a jesting manner, that her fortune was made, and she
need not trouble herself any longer about how she looked.
Douglass did not feel very much complimented; but as he had his
share of good sense, he saw that to assume a cold and offended
manner would do no good.
"If your fortune is made, so is mine," he replied on one occasion,
quite coolly and indifferently. Next morning he made his appearance
at the breakfast table with a beard of twenty-four hours' growth.
"You haven't shaved this morning, dear," said Cora, to whose eyes
the dirty-looking face of her husband was particularly unpleasant.
"No," he replied, carelessly. "It's a serious trouble to shave every
"But you look so much better with a cleanly-shaved face."
"Looks are nothing--ease and comfort every thing," said Douglass.
"But common decency, Edward."
"I see nothing indecent in a long beard," replied the husband.
Still Cora argued, but in vain. Her husband went off to his business
with his unshaven face.
"I don't know whether to shave or not," said Douglass next morning,
running his hand over his rough face, upon which was a beard of
forty-eight hours' growth. His wife had hastily thrown on a wrapper,
and, with slip-shod feet and head like a mop, was lounging in a
large rocking-chair, awaiting the breakfast-bell.
"For mercy's sake, Edward, don't go any longer with that shockingly
dirty face," spoke up Cora. "If you knew how dreadfully you look!"
"Looks are nothing," replied Edward, stroking his beard.
"Why, what's come over you all at once?"
"Nothing; only it's such a trouble to shave every day."
"But you didn't shave yesterday."
"I know; I am just as well off to-day as if I had. So much saved, at
But Cora urged the matter, and her husband finally yielded, and
mowed down the luxuriant growth of beard.
"How much better you do look!" said the young wife. "Now don't go
another day without shaving."
"But why should I take so much trouble about mere looks? I'm just as
good with a long beard as with a short one. It's a great deal of
trouble to shave every day. You can love me just as well; and why
need I care about what others say or think?"
On the following morning, Douglass appeared not only with a long
beard, but with a bosom and collar that were both soiled and
"Why, Edward! How you do look!" said Cora. "You've neither shaved
nor put on a clean shirt."
Edward stroked his face and run his fingers along the edge of his
collar, remarking, indifferently, as he did so--
"It's no matter. I look well enough. This being so very particular
in dress is waste of time, and I'm getting tired of it."
And in this trim Douglass went off to his business, much to the
annoyance of his wife, who could not bear to see her husband looking
Gradually the declension from neatness went on, until Edward was
quite a match for his wife; and yet, strange to say, Cora had not
taken the hint, broad as it was. In her own person she was as untidy
About six months after their marriage, we invited a few friends to
spend a social evening with us, Cora and her husband among the
number. Cora came alone, quite early, and said that her husband was
very much engaged, and could not come until after tea. My young
friend had not taken much pains with her attire. Indeed, her
appearance mortified me, as it contrasted so decidedly with that of
the other ladies who were present; and I could not help suggesting
to her that she was wrong in being so indifferent about her dress.
But she laughingly replied to me--
"You know my fortune's made now, Mrs. Smith. I can afford to be
negligent in these matters. It's a great waste of time to dress so
I tried to argue against this, but could make no impression upon
About an hour after tea, and while we were all engaged in pleasant
conversation, the door of the parlour opened, and in walked Mr.
Douglass. At first glance I thought I must be mistaken. But no, it
was Edward himself. But what a figure he did cut! His uncombed hair
was standing up, in stiff spikes, in a hundred different directions;
his face could not have felt the touch of a razor for two or three
days; and he was guiltless of clean linen for at least the same
length of time. His vest was soiled; his boots unblacked; and there
was an unmistakable hole in one of his elbows.
"Why, Edward!" exclaimed his wife, with a look of mortification and
distress, as her husband came across the room, with a face in which
no consciousness of the figure he cut could be detected.
"Why, my dear fellow! What is the matter?" said my husband, frankly;
for he perceived that the ladies were beginning to titter, and that
the gentlemen were looking at each other, and trying to repress
their risible tendencies; and therefore deemed it best to throw off
all reserve on the subject.
"The matter? Nothing's the matter, I believe. Why do you ask?"
Douglass looked grave.
"Well may he ask, what's the, matter?" broke in Cora, energetically.
"How could you come here in such a plight?"
"In such a plight?" And Edward looked down at himself, felt his
beard, and ran his fingers through his hair. "What's the matter? Is
any thing wrong?"
"You look as if you'd just waked up from a nap of a week with your
clothes on, and come off without washing your face or combing your
hair," said my husband.
"Oh!" And Edward's countenance brightened a little. Then he said
with much gravity of manner--
"I've been extremely hurried of late; and only left my store a few
minutes ago. I hardly thought it worth while to go home to dress up.
I knew we were all friends here. Besides, _as my fortune is
made_"--and he glanced with a look not to be mistaken toward his
wife--"I don't feel called upon to give as much attention to mere
dress as formerly. Before I was married, it was necessary to be
particular in these matters, but now it's of no consequence."
I turned toward Cora. Her face was like crimson. In a few moments
she arose and went quickly from the room. I followed her, and Edward
came after us pretty soon. He found his wife in tears, and sobbing
"I've got a carriage at the door," said he to me, aside, half
laughing, half serious. "So help her on with her things, and we'll
retire in disorder."
"But it's too bad in you, Mr. Douglass," replied I.
"Forgive me for making your house the scene of this lesson to Cora,"
he whispered. "It had to be given, and I thought I could venture to
trespass upon your forbearance."
"I'll think about that," said I, in return.
In a few minutes Cora and her husband retired, and in spite of good
breeding and every thing else, we all had a hearty laugh over the
matter, on my return to the parlour, where I explained the curious
little scene that had just occurred.
How Cora and her husband settled the affair between themselves, I
never inquired. But one thing is certain, I never saw her in a
slovenly dress afterward, at home or abroad. She was cured.
THE GOOD MATCH.
"MY heart is now at rest," remarked Mrs. Presstman to her sister,
Mrs. Markland. "Florence has done so well. The match is such a good
Mrs. Presstman spoke with animation, but her sister's countenance
remained rather grave.
"Mr. Barker is worth at least eighty thousand dollars," resumed Mrs.
Presstman. "And my husband says, that if he prospers in business as
he has done for the last ten years, he will be the richest merchant
in the city. Don't you think we have been fortunate in marrying
Florence so well?"
"So far as the securing of wealth goes, Florence has certainly done
very well," returned Mrs. Markland. "But, surely, sister, you have a
higher idea of marriage than to suppose that wealth in a husband is
the primary thing. The quality of his mind is of much more
"Oh, certainly, that is not to be lost sight of. Mr. Barker is an
excellent man. Every one speaks well of him. No one stands higher in
the community than he does."
"That may be. But the general estimation in which a man is held does
not, by any means, determine his fitness to become the husband of
one like Florence. I think that when I was here last spring, there
was some talk of her preference for a young physician. Was such
really the case?"
"There was something of that kind," replied Mrs. Presstman, the
colour becoming a very little deeper on her cheek--"a foolish notion
of the girl's. But that was broken off long ago. It would not do. We
could not afford to let her marry a young doctor with a poor
practice. We knew her to be worthy something much higher, as the
result has shown."
"Doctor Estill, I believe, was his name?"
"I remember him very well--and liked him much. Was Mr. Barker
preferred by Florence to Doctor Estill?"
"Why, yes--no--not at first," half-stammered Mrs. Presstman. "That
is, you know, she was foolish, like all young girls, and thought she
loved him. But that passed away. She is now as happy as she can be."
Mrs. Markland felt that it was not exactly right to press this
matter now that the mischief, if any there were, had been done, and
so remarked no further upon the subject. But the admission made in
her sister's reply to her last question pained her. It corroborated
a suspicion that crossed her mind, when she saw her niece, that all
was not right within--that the good match which had been made was
only good in appearance. She had loved Florence for the innocence,
purity, and elevation of soul that so sweetly characterized her. She
knew her to be susceptible of tender impressions, and capable of
loving deeply an object really worthy of her love. This plant had
been, she feared, removed from the warm green-house of home, where
the earth had touched tenderly its delicate roots, while its leaves
put forth in a genial air, and placed in a hard soil and a chilling
atmosphere, still to live on, but with its beauty and fragrance
gone. She might be mistaken. But appearances troubled her.
Mrs. Markland lived in a neighbouring city, and was on a visit to
her sister. During the two weeks that elapsed, while paying this
visit, she heard a great deal about the excellent match that
Florence had made. No one of the acquaintances of the family had any
thing to say that was not congratulatory. More than one mother of an
unmarried daughter, she had good cause for concluding, envied her
sister the happiness of having the rich Mr. Barker for a son-in-law.
When she parted with her niece, on the eve of her return home, there
were tears in her mild blue eyes. It was natural--for Florence loved
her aunt, and to part with her was painful. Still, those tears
troubled Mrs. Markland. She ought of them hours, and days, and
months after, as a token that all was not right in her gentle
Briefly let us now sketch a scene that passed twenty years from this
period. Twenty years! That is a long time. Yes--but it is a period
that tests the truth or falsity of the leading principles with which
we set out in life. Twenty years! Ah! how many, even long before
that time elapses, prove the fallaciousness of their hopes! discover
the sandy foundation upon which they have built!
Let us introduce Mrs. Barker. Her husband has realized even more
than he had hoped for, in the item of wealth. He is worth a million.
Rather a small sum in his eye, it is true, now that he possesses it.
And from this very fact, its smallness, he is not happy--for is not
Mr. T--worth three millions of dollars? Mr. T--, who is no
better, if as good as he is? But what of Mrs. Barker? Ah, yes. Let
us see how time has passed with her. Let us see if the hours have
danced along with her to measures of glad music, or in cadence with
a pensive strain. Has hers indeed been a _good match_? We shall see.
Is that sedate-looking woman, with such a cold expression upon her
face, who sits in that elaborately furnished saloon, or parlour,
dreamily looking into the glowing grate, Mrs. Barker? Yes, that is
the woman who made a _good match_. Can this indeed be so? I see, in
imagination, a gentle, loving creature, whose eyes and ears are open
to all things beautiful in creation, and whose heart is moved by all
that is good and true. Impelled by the very nature into which she
has been born--woman's nature--her spirit yearns for high, holy,
interior companionship. She enters into that highest, holiest, most
interior relationship--marriage. She must be purely happy. Is this
so? Can the woman we have introduced at the end of twenty years be
the same being with this gentle girl? Alas! that we should have it
to say that it is so. There has been no affliction to produce this
change--no misfortune. The children she has borne are all about her,
and wealth has been poured liberally into her lap. No external wish
has been ungratified. Why, then, should her face wear habitually so
strange an expression as it does?
She had been seated for more than half an hour in an abstract mood,
when some one came in. She knew the step. It was that of her
husband. But she did not turn to him, nor seem conscious of his
presence. He merely glanced toward his wife, and then sat down at
some distance from her, and took up a newspaper. Thus they remained
until a bell announced the evening meal, when both arose and passed
in silence to the tea-room. There they were joined by their four
children, the eldest at that lovely age when the girl has blushed
into young womanhood. All arranged themselves about the table, the
younger children conversing together in an under tone, but the
father, and mother, and Florence, the oldest child, remaining
silent, abstracted, and evidently unhappy from some cause.
The mother and daughter eat but little, and that compulsorily. After
the meal was finished, the latter retired to her own apartment, the
other children remained with their books in the family sitting-room,
and Mr. and Mrs. Barker returned to the parlour.
"I am really out of all patience with you and Florence!" the former
said, angrily, as he seated himself beside his wife, in front of the
grate. "One would think some terrible calamity were about to
Mrs. Barker made no reply to this. In a moment or two her husband
went on, in a dogmatical tone.
"It's the very best match the city affords. Show me another in any
way comparable. Is not Lorimer worth at least two millions?--and is
not Harman his only son and heir? Surely you and the girl must both
be beside yourselves to think of objecting for a single moment."
"A good match is not always made so by wealth," Mrs. Barker
returned, in a firm voice, compressing her lips tightly, as she
closed the brief sentence.
"You are beside yourself," said the husband, half sneeringly.
"Perhaps I am," somewhat meekly replied Mrs. Barker. Then becoming
suddenly excited from the quick glancing of certain thoughts through
her mind, she retorted angrily. Her husband did not hesitate to
reply in a like spirit. Then ensued a war of words, which ended in a
positive declaration that Florence should marry Harman Lorimer. At
this the mother burst into tears and left the room.
After that declaration was made, Mrs. Barker knew that further
opposition on her part was useless. Florence was gradually brought
over by the force of angry threats, persuasions, and arguments, so
as finally to consent to become the wife of a man from whom her
heart turned with instinctive aversion. But every one called it such
a good match, and congratulated the father and mother upon the
What Mrs. Barker suffered before, during, and after the brilliant
festivities that accompanied her tenderly-loved daughter's
sacrifice, cannot all be known. Her own heart's history for twenty
long years came up before her, and every page of that history she
read over, with a weeping spirit, as the history of her sweet child
for the dreary future. How many a leaf in her heart had been touched
by the frost; had withered, shrunk, and dropped from affection's
stem--how many a bud had failed to show its promised petals--how
many a blossom had drooped and died ere the tender germ in its bosom
could come forth into hardy existence. Inanimate golden leaves, and
buds, and blossoms--nay, even fruits were a poor substitute for
these. A woman's heart cannot be satisfied with them.
In her own mind, obduracy and coldness had supervened to the first
states of disappointed affection. But her heart had rebelled through
long, long years against the violence to which it had been
subjected--and the calmness, or rather indifference, that at last
followed was only like ice upon the surface of a stream--the water
still flowing on beneath. Death to the mother would have been a
willing sacrifice, could it have saved her child from the living
death that she had suffered. But it would not. The father was a
resolute tyrant. Money was his god, and to that god he offered up
even his child in sacrifice.
Need the rambling hints contained in this brief sketch--this dim
outline--be followed by any enforcing reflections? An opposite
picture, full of light and warmth, might be drawn, but would it tend
to bring the truth to clearer perception, where mothers--true
mothers--mothers in spirit as well as in name--are those to whom we
hold up the first picture? We think not.
Wealth, reputation, honours, high intelligence in a man--all or
either of these--do not constitute him a good match for your child.
Marriage is of the heart--the blending of affection with affection,
and thought with thought. How, then, can one who loves all that is
innocent, and pure, and holy, become interiorly conjoined with a man
who is a gross, selfish sensualist? a man who finds happiness only
in the external possession of wealth, or honours, or in the
indulgence of luxuries? It is impossible! Take away these, and give
her, in their stead, one with whom her affections can blend in
perfect harmony--one with whom she can become united as one--and
earth will be to her a little heaven.
In the opposite course, alas! the evil does not always stop with
your own child. The curse is too often continued unto the third and
fourth generation--yea, even through long succeeding ages--to
eternity itself! Who can calculate the evil that may flow from a
single perversion of the marriage union--that is, a marriage entered
into from other than the true motives? None but God himself!
THE BROTHER'S TEMPTATION.
"COME, Henry," said Blanche Armour to her brother, who had seemed
unusually silent and thoughtful since tea time,--"I want you to read
while I make this cap for ma."
"Excuse me, Blanche, if you please, I don't feel like reading
to-night," the brother replied, shading his face both from the light
and the penetrating glance of his sister, as he spoke.
Blanche did not repeat the request, for it was a habit with her
never to urge her brother; nor, indeed, any one, to do a thing for
which he seemed disinclined. She, therefore, took her work-basket,
and sat down by the centre-table, without saying any thing farther,
and commenced sewing. But she did not feel quite easy, for it was
too apparent that Henry was disturbed about something. For several
days he had seemed more than usually reserved and thoughtful. Now he
was gloomy as well as thoughtful. Of course, there was a cause for
this. And as this cause was hidden from Blanche, she could not but
feel troubled. Several times during the evening she attempted to
draw him out into conversation, but he would reply to her in
monosyllables, and then fall back into his state of silent
abstraction of mind. Once or twice he got up and walked across the
floor, and then again resumed his seat, as if he had compelled
himself to sit down by a strong effort of the will. Thus the time
passed away, until the usual hour of retiring for the night came,
when Blanche put up her work, and rising from her chair by the
centre-table, went to Henry, and stooping down over him, as he lay
half reclined upon the sofa, kissed him tenderly, and murmured an
affectionate "good night."
"Good night, dear," he returned, without rising or adding another
Blanche lingered a moment, and then, with a repressed sigh, left the
room, and retired to her chamber. She could not understand her
brother's strange mood. For him to be troubled and silent was
altogether new. And the cause? Why should he conceal it from her,
toward whom, till now, he had never withheld any thing that gave him
either pleasure or pain?
The moment Blanche retired, the whole manner of Henry Armour
changed. He arose from the sofa and commenced walking the floor with
rapid steps, while the deep lines upon his forehead and his strongly
compressed lips showed him to be labouring under some powerful
mental excitement. He continued to walk thus hurriedly backward and
forward for the space of half an hour; when, as if some long debated
point had been at last decided, he grasped the parlour door with a
firm hand, threw it open, took from the rack his hat, cloak, and
cane, and in a few moments was in the street.
The jar of the street door, as it closed, was distinctly heard by
Blanche, and this caused the troubled feeling which had oppressed
her all the evening, to change into one of anxiety. Where could
Henry be going at this late hour? He rarely stayed out beyond ten
o'clock; and she had never before known him to leave the house after
the usual bedtime of the family. His going out had, of course,
something to do with his unhappy mood. What could it mean? She could
not suspect him of any wrong. She knew him to be too pure-minded and
honourable. But there was mystery connected with his conduct--and
this troubled her. She had just laid aside a book, that she had
taken up for the purpose of reading a few pages before retiring for
the night, and commenced disrobing herself, when the sound of the
door closing after her brother startled her, and caused her to pause
and think. She could not now retire, for to sleep would be
impossible. She, therefore, drew a shawl about her, and again
resumed her book, determined to sit up until Henry's return. But
little that she read made a very distinct impression on her mind.
Her thoughts were with her brother, whom she tenderly loved, and had
learned to confide in as one of pure sentiments and firm principles.
While Henry Armour still lingered at home in moody indecision of
mind, a small party of young men were assembled in an upper room of
a celebrated refectory, drinking, smoking, and indulging in
conversation, a large portion of which would have shocked a modest
ear. They were all members of wealthy and respectable families. Some
had passed their majority, and others still lingered between
nineteen and twenty-one,--that dangerous age for a young
man--especially if he be so unfortunate as to have little to do, and
a liberal supply of pocket money.
"Confound the fellow! What keeps him so long?" said one of the
company, looking at his watch. "It's nearly ten o'clock, and he has
not made his appearance."
"Whom do you mean? Armour?" asked another.
"Certainly I do. He promised to join us again to-night."
"So he did! But I'll bet a pewter sixpence he won't come."
"His sister won't let him. Don't you know that he is tied to her
apron string almost every night, the silly fellow! Why don't he be a
man, and enjoy life as it goes?"
"Sure enough! What is life worth, if its pleasures are all to be
sacrificed for a sister?" returned the other, sneeringly.
"Here! Pass that champagne," interrupted one of the company. "Let
Harry Armour break his engagement for a sister if he likes. That
needn't mar our enjoyment. There are enough of us here for a regular
"Here's a toast," cried another, as he lifted a sparkling glass to
his lips--"Pleasant dreams to the old folks!"
"Good! Good! Good!" passed round the table, about which the young
revellers were gathered, and each drained a glass to the well
In the mean time, young Armour had left his home, having decided at
last, and after a long struggle with himself, to join this gay
company, as he had agreed to do. It was, in fact, a little club,
formed a short time previous, the members of which met once a week
to eat, drink, smoke, and corrupt each other by ridiculing those
salutary moral restraints which, once laid aside, leave the
thoughtless youth in imminent danger of ruin.
Henry Armour had been blessed with a sister a year or two older than
himself, who loved him tenderly. The more rapid development of her
mind, as well as body, had given her the appearance of maturity that
enabled her to exercise a strong influence over him. Of the dangers
that beset the path of a young man, she knew little or nothing. The
constant effort which she made to render home agreeable to her
brother by consulting his tastes, and entering into every thing that
seemed to give him pleasure, did not, therefore, spring from a wish
to guard him from the world's allurements; it was the spontaneous
result of a pure fraternal affection. But it had the right effect.
To him, there was no place like home; nor any smile so alluring, or
voice so sweet, as his sister's. And abroad, no company possessed a
perfect charm, unless Blanche were one of its members.
This continued until Henry gained his twenty-second year, when, as a
law student, he found himself thrown more and more into the company
of young men of his own age, and the same standing in society. An
occasional ride out with one and another of these, at which times an
hour at least was always spent in a public house, opened to him new
scenes in life, and for a young man of lively, buoyant mind, not
altogether unattractive. That there was danger in these paths he did
not attempt to disguise from himself. More than one, or two, or
three, whom he met on almost every visit he made to a fashionable
resort for young men, about five miles from the city, showed too
strong indications of having passed beyond the bounds of
self-control, as well in their use of wines and stronger drinks as
in their conduct, which was too free from those external decent
restraints that we look for even in men who make no pretensions to
virtue. But he did not fear for himself. The exhibitions which these
made of themselves instinctively disgusted him. Still, he did not
perceive that he was less and less shocked at some things he beheld,
and more than at first inclined to laugh at follies which verged too
nearly upon moral delinquencies.
Gradually his circle of acquaintance with young men of the gay class
extended, and a freer participation with them in many of their
pleasures came as a natural consequence.
"Come," said one of them to him, as the two met in the street, by
accident, one evening,--"I want you to go with me."
"But why should I go with you? Or, rather, where are you going?"
"To meet some of our friends down at C--'s," replied the young
"What are you going to do there?" farther inquired Armour.
"Nothing more than to drink a glass of wine, and have some pleasant
chit-chat. So come along."
"Will I be welcome?"
"Certainly you will. I'll guarantee that. Some half dozen of us have
formed a little club, and each member has the privilege of inviting
any one he pleases. To-night I invite you, and on the next evening I
expect to see you present, not as a guest, but as a member. So come
along, and see how you like us."
Armour had no definite object in view. He had walked out, because he
felt rather listless at home, Blanche having retired with a sick
headache. It required, therefore, no persuasion to induce him to
yield to the friend's invitation. Arrived at C--'s, a fashionable
house of refreshment, the two young men passed up stairs and entered
one of the private apartments of the house, which they found
handsomely furnished and brilliantly lighted. In this, gathered
around a circular, or rather oblong table, were five or six young
men, nearly all of them well known to Armour. On the table were
bottles of wine and glasses--the latter filled.
"Just in time!" cried the president of the club. "Henry Armour, I
bid you welcome! Here's a place waiting for you," placing his hand
upon a chair by his side as he spoke. "And now," as Armour seated
himself, "let me fill your glass. We were waiting for a sentiment to
find its way out of some brain as you came in, and our brimming
glasses had stood untasted for more than a minute. Can't you help us
to a toast?"
"Here's to good fellowship!" said Armour, promptly lifting his
glass, and touching it to that of the president.
"To be drunk standing," added the president.
All rose on the instant, and drank with mock solemnity to the
sentiment of their guest.
Then followed brilliant flashes of wit, or what was thought to be
wit. To these succeeded the song, the jest, the story,--and to these
again the sparkling wine-cup. Gayly thus passed the hours, until
midnight stole quietly upon the thoughtless revellers. Surprised, on
reference to his watch, to find that it was one o'clock, Armour
arose and begged to be excused.
"I move that our guest be excused on one condition," said the friend
who had brought him to the company. "And that is, on his promise to
meet with us again, on this evening next week."
"What do you think of the condition?" asked the president, who, like
nearly all of the rest, was rather the worse for the wine he had
taken, looking at Armour as he spoke.
"I agree to it with pleasure," was the prompt reply.
"Another drink before you go, then," said the president, "and I will
give the toast. Fill up your glasses."
The bottle again passed round the table.
"Here's to a good fellow!" was the sentiment announced. It was
received standing. Armour then retired with bewildered senses. The
gay scene that had floated before his eyes, and in which himself had
been an actor, and the freedom with which he had taken wine, left
him confused, almost in regard to his own identity. He did not seem
to himself the same person he had been a few hours before. A new
world had opened before him, and he had, almost involuntarily,
entered into, and become a citizen of that world. Long after he had
reached his home, and retired to his bed, did his imagination revel
amid the scenes he had just left. In sleep, too, fancy was busy. But
here came a change. Serpents would too often glide across the table
around which the gay company, himself a member, were assembled; or
some other sudden and more appalling change scatter into fragments
the bright phantasma of his dreams.
The sober morning found him in a soberer mood. Calm, cold,
unimpassioned reflection came. What had he been doing? What path had
he entered; and whither did it lead? These were questions that would
intrude themselves, and clamour for an answer. He shut his eyes and
endeavoured again to sleep. Waking thoughts were worse than the airy
terrors which had visited him in sleep. At length he arose, with
dull pains in his head, and an oppressive sluggishness of the whole
body. But more painful than his own reflections, or the physical
consequences of the last night's irregularity, was the thought of
meeting Blanche, and bearing the glance of her innocent eyes. He
felt that he had been among the impure,--and worse, that he had
enjoyed their impure sentiments, and indulged with them in excess of
wine. The taint was upon him, and the pure mind of his sister must
instinctively perceive it. These thoughts made him wretched. He
really dreaded to meet her. But this could not be avoided.
"You do not look well, brother," said Blanche, almost as soon as she
"I am not well," he replied, avoiding her steady look. "My head
aches, and I feel dull and heavy."
"What has caused it, brother?" the affectionate girl asked, with a
look and voice of real concern.
Now this was, of all others, the question that Henry was least
prepared to answer. He could not utter a direct falsehood. From that
his firm principles shrunk. Nor could he equivocate, for he
considered equivocation little better than a direct falsehood. "Why
should I wish to conceal any part of my conduct from her?" he asked
himself, in his dilemma. But the answer was instant and conclusive.
His participation in the revelry of the last night was a thing not
to be whispered in her ear. Not being prepared, then, to tell the
truth, and shrinking from falsehood and equivocation, Armour
preferred silence as the least evil of the three. The question of
Blanche was not, therefore, answered. At the breakfast-table, his
father and mother remarked upon his appearance. To this, he merely
replied that he was not well. As soon as the meal was over, he went
out, glad to escape the eye of Blanche, which, it seemed to him,
rested searchingly upon him all the while.
A walk of half an hour in the fresh morning air dispelled the dull
pain in his head, and restored his whole system to a more healthy
tone. This drove away, to some extent, the oppressive feeling of
self-condemnation he had indulged. The scenes of the previous
evening, though silly enough for sensible young men to engage in,
seemed less objectionable than they had appeared to him on his first
review. To laugh involuntarily at several remembered jests and
stories, the points of which were not exactly the most chaste or
reverential, marked the change that a short period had produced in
his state of mind. During that day, he did not fall in with any of
his wild companions of the last evening, too many of whom had
already fairly entered the road to ruin. The evening was spent at
home, in the society of Blanche. He read while she sewed, or he
turned for her the leaves of her music book, or accompanied her upon
the flute while she played him a favourite air upon the piano.
Conversation upon books, music, society, and other topics of
interest, filled up the time not occupied in these mental
recreations, and added zest, variety, and unflagging interest to the
gently-passing hours. On the next evening they attended a concert,
and on the next a party. On that succeeding, Henry went out to see a
friend of a different character from any of those with whom he had
passed the hours a few nights previous--a friend about his own age,
of fixed habits and principles, who, like himself, was preparing for
the bar. With him he spent a more rational evening than with the
others, and, what was better, no sting was left behind.
Still, young Armour could never think of the "club" without having
his mind thrown into a tumult. It awoke into activity opposing
principles. Good and evil came in contact, and battled for
supremacy. There was in his mind a clear conviction that to indulge
in dissipation of that character, would be injurious both to moral
and physical health. And yet, having tasted of the delusive sweets,
he was tempted to further indulgence. Meeting with some two or three
of the "members" during the week, and listening to their extravagant
praise of the "club," and the pleasure of uniting in unrestrained
social intercourse, made warm by generous wine, tended to make more
active the contest going on within--for the good principles that had
been stored up in his mind were not to be easily silenced. Their
hold upon his character was deep. They had entered into its warp and
woof, and were not to be eradicated or silenced in a moment. As the
time for the next meeting of the club approached, this battle grew
more violent. The condition into which it had brought him by the
arrival of the night on which he had promised again to join his gay
friends, the reader has already seen. He was still unable to decide
his course of action. Inclination prompted him to go; good
principles opposed. "But then I have passed my word that I would go,
and my word must be inviolable." Here reason came in to the aid of
his inclinations, and made in their favour a strong preponderance.
We have seen that, yet undecided, he lingered at home, but in a
state of mind strangely different from any in which his sister had
ever seen him. Still debating the question, he lay, half reclined
upon the sofa, when Blanche touched her innocent lips to his, and
murmured a tender good-night. That kiss passed through his frame
like an electric current. It came just as his imagination had
pictured an impure image, and scattered it instantly. But no
decision of the question had yet been made, and the withdrawal of
Blanche only took off an external restraint from his feelings. He
quietly arose and commenced pacing the floor. This he continued for
some time. At last the decision was made.
"I have passed my word, and that ends it," said he, and instantly
left the house. Without permitting himself to review the matter
again, although a voice within asked loudly to be heard, he walked
hastily in the direction of the club-room. In ten minutes he gained
the door, opened it without pausing, and stood in the midst of the
wild company within. His entrance was greeted with shouts of
welcome, and the toast, "Here's to a good fellow!" with which he had
parted from them, was repeated on his return, all standing as it was
To this followed a sentiment that cannot be repeated here. It was
too gross. All drunk to it but Armour. He could not, for it involved
a foul slander upon the other sex, and he had a sister whose pure
kiss was yet warm upon his lips. The individual who proposed the
toast marked this omission, and pointed it out by saying--
"What's the matter, Harry? Is not the wine good?"
The colour mounted to the young man's face as he replied, with a
"Yes, much better than the sentiment."
"What ails the sentiment?" asked the propounder of it, in a tone of
"I have a sister," was the brief, firm reply of Armour.
"So Charley, here, was just saying," retorted the other, with a
merry laugh; "and, what is more, that he'd bet a sixpence you were
tied to her apron-string, and would not be here to-night! Ha! ha!"
The effect of this upon the mind of Armour was decisive. He loved,
nay, almost revered his sister.
She had been like an angel of innocence about his path from early
years. He knew her to be as pure as the mountain snow-flake. And yet
that sister's influence over him was sneered at by one who had just
uttered a foul-mouthed slander upon her whole sex. The scales fell
instantly from his eyes. He saw the dangerous ground upon, which he
stood; while the character of his associates appeared in a new
light. They were on a road that he did not wish to travel. There
were serpents concealed amid the flowers that sprung along their
path, and he shuddered as he thought of their poisonous fangs. Quick
as a flash of light, these things passed through his mind, and
caused him to act with instant resolution. Rising from the chair he
had already taken, he retired, without a word, from the room. A
sneering laugh followed him, but he either heard it not or gave it
The book which Blanche resumed after she had heard her brother go
out, soon ceased to interest her. She was too much troubled about
him to be able to fix her mind on any thing else. His singularly
disturbed state, and the fact of his having left the house at that
late hour, caused her to feel great uneasiness. This was beginning
to excite her imagination, and to cause her to fancy many reasons
for his strange conduct, none of which were calculated in any degree
to allay the anxiety she felt. Anxiety was fast verging upon serious
alarm, when she heard the sound of footsteps approaching the house.
She listened breathlessly. Surely it was the sound of Henry's
footsteps! Yes! Yes! It was indeed her brother. The tears gushed
from her eyes as she heard him enter below and pass up to his
chamber. He was safe from harm, and for this her heart lifted itself
up in fervent thankfulness! How near he had been to falling, that
pure-minded maiden never knew, nor how it had been her image and the
remembrance of her parting kiss that had saved him in the moment of
his greatest danger. Happy he who is blest with such a sister! And
happier still, if her innocence be suffered to overshadow him in the
hours of temptation!
THE HOME OF TASTE.
THERE are three words, in the utterance of which more power over the
feelings is gained than in the utterance of any other words in the
language. These are "Mother," "Home," and "Heaven." Each appeals to
a different emotion--each bears influence over the heart from the
cradle to the grave.--And just in the degree that this influence is
active, are man's best interests secured for time and eternity.
Only of "home" do we here intend to speak; and, in particular, as to
the influence of the home of taste. We hear much, in these days, of
enlarging the sphere of woman's social duties; as if, in the sphere
of home, nothing remained to be done, and she must either fold her
hands in idleness, or step forth to engage with man in life's
sterner conflicts. But it is not true that our homes are as they
might be, if their presiding genius fully comprehended all that was
needed to make home what the word implies. Among those in poorer
circumstances, this is especially so. They are too apt to regard
matters of taste as mere superfluities; to speak lightly of order,
neatness, and ornament; to think time and money spent on such things
as useless. But this is a serious mistake, involving, often, the
most lamentable consequences.
If we expect our children to grow up with a love for things pure and
orderly, we must surround them with the representations thereof in
the homes where first impressions are formed. The mind rests upon
and is moulded by things external to a far greater extent than many
suppose. These are not only a mirror, reflecting all that passes
before the surface, but a highly sensitive mirror, that, like the
Daguerreotype plate, retains the image it receives. If the image be
orderly and beautiful, it will ever have power to excite orderly and
beautiful thoughts in the mind; but if it be impure and disorderly,
its lasting influence will be debasing. If you meet with a coarse,
vulgar-minded man or woman, and are able to trace back the thread of
life until the period of early years, you will be sure to find the
existence of coarse and vulgar influences; and, in most cases, the
opposite will alike be found to hold good.
There is no excuse for disorder in a household, no matter how small
or how low the range of income, but idleness or indifference. The
time required to maintain neatness, order, and cleanliness, is
small, if the will is active and the hands prompt. Every home, even
the poorest, may become a home of taste, and present order and forms
of beauty, if there is only a willing purpose in the mind.
It is often charged upon men--particularly operatives with low
wages--that they do not love their homes, preferring to spend their
evening hours in bar-rooms, or wandering about with other men as
little attracted by the household sphere as themselves, until the
time for rest. If you were to go into the homes of such, in most
cases, you would hardly wonder at the aversion manifested. The
dirty, disordered rooms, which their toiling wives deem it a waste
of time and labour to make tidy and comfortable for their reception,
it would be a perversion to call homes. Home attracts; but these
repel. And so, with a feeling of discomfort, the men wander away,
fall into temptation, and usually spend, in self-indulgence, money
that otherwise would have gone to increase home comforts, if there
had been any to increase. And so it is, in its degree, in the homes
of every class. The more pleasant, orderly, and tasteful home is
made, in all its departments and associations, the stronger is its
attractive power, and the more potent its influence over those who
are required to go forth into the world and meet its thousand
allurements. If every thing is right there, it will surely draw them
back, with a steady retraction, through all their absent moments,
and they will feel, on repassing the threshold, that, in the wide,
wide world, there is no spot to them so full of blessings.
What true woman does not aspire to be the genius of such a home?
THE TWO SYSTEMS.
"IT'S no use to talk; I can't do it. The idea of punishing a child
in cold blood makes me shiver all over. I certainly think that, in
the mind of any one who can do it, there must be a latent vein of
This remark was made by Mrs. Stanley to her friend and visiter Mrs.
"I have known parents," she continued, "who would go about executing
some punishment with a coolness and deliberation that to me was
frightful. No promise, no appeal, no tear of alarm or agony, from
the penitent little culprit, would have the least effect. The law
must be fulfilled even to the jot and tittle."
"The disobedient child, doubtless, knew the law," remarked Mrs.
"Perhaps so. But even if it did, great allowance ought to be made
for the ardor with which children seek the gratification of their
desires, and the readiness with which they forget."
"No parent should lay down a law not right in itself; nor one
obedience to which was not good for the child."
"But it is very hard to do this. We have not the wisdom of Solomon.
Every day, nay, almost every hour, we err in judgment; and
especially in a matter so little understood as the management of
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