The Home Mission
Part 3 out of 4
"Better, then, have very few laws, and them of the clearest kind.
But, having them, implicit obedience should be exacted. At least,
that is my rule."
"And you punish for every infraction?"
"Certainly. But, I am always sure that the child is fully aware of
his fault, and let my punishment be graduated according to the
wilfulness of the act."
"And you do this coolly?"
"Oh, yes. I never punish a child while I am excited with a feeling
of indignation for the offence."
"If I waited for that to pass off, I could never punish one of my
"Do you find, under this system, that your children are growing up
orderly and obedient?"
"No, indeed! Of course I do not. Who ever heard of orderly and
obedient children? In fact, who would wish their children to be mere
automatons? I am sure I would not. They are, by nature, restless,
and impatient of control. It will not do to break down their young
spirits. As for punishments, I don't believe much in them, any how.
I have an idea that the less they are brought into requisition the
better. They harden children. Kindness, long suffering, and
forbearance will accomplish a great deal more, and in the end be
better for the child."
At this moment a little fellow came sliding into the parlour, with a
look that said plainly enough, "I know you don't want me here."
"Run out, Charley, dear," said Mrs. Stanley, in a mild voice.
But Charley did not seem to notice his mother's words, for he
continued advancing toward her, until he was by her side, when he
paused and looked the visiter steadily in the face.
"Charley, you must run out, my dear," said Mrs. Stanley, in a firmer
and more decided voice.
But Charley only leaned heavily against his mother, not heeding in
the smallest degree her words. Knowing how impossible it would be to
get the child out of the room, without a resort to violence, Mrs.
Stanley said no more to him, but continued the conversation with her
friend. She had only spoken a few words, however, before Charley
interrupted her by saying--
"Mother!--Mother!--Give me a piece of cake."
"No, my son. You have had cake enough this afternoon," replied Mrs.
"Oh yes, do, mother, give me a piece of cake."
"It will make you sick, Charley."
"No, it won't. Please give me some."
"I had rather not."
"Yes, mother. Oh do! I want a piece of cake."
"Go 'way, Charles, and don't tease me."
There was a slight expression of impatience in the mother's voice.
The child ceased his importunities for a few moments, but just as
Mrs. Stanley had commenced a sentence, intended to embody some wise
saying in regard to the management of children, the little boy broke
in upon her with--
"I say, mother, give me a piece of cake, won't you?" in quite a loud
Mrs. Stanley felt irritated by this importunity, but she governed
herself. Satisfied that there would be no peace unless the cake were
forthcoming, she said, looking affectionately at the child:
"Poor little fellow! I suppose he does feel hungry. I don't think
another piece of cake will hurt him. Excuse me a moment, Mrs.
The cake was obtained by Charley in the very way he had, hundreds of
times before, accomplished his purpose, that is, by teasing it out
of his mother. For the next ten minutes the friends conversed,
unmolested. At the end of that time Charley again made his
"Go up into the nursery, and stay with Ellen," said Mrs. Stanley.
The child took no notice, whatever, of this direction, but walked
steadily up to where his mother was sitting, saying, as he paused by
"I want another piece of cake."
"Not any more, my son."
"Yes, mother. Give me some more."
"No." This was spoken in a very positive way. Charley began to beg
in a whining tone, which, not producing the desired effect, soon
rose into a well-defined cry.
"I declare! I never saw such a hungry set as my children are. They
will eat constantly from morning until night." Mrs. Stanley did not
say this in the most amiable tone of voice.
"Mother! I want a piece of cake," cried Charley.
"I'll give you one little piece more; but, remember, that it will be
the last; so don't ask me again."
Charley stopped crying at once. Mrs. Stanley went out with him. As
soon as she was far enough from the parlour not to be heard, she
took Charley by the shoulders, and giving him a violent shake,
"You little rebel, you! If you come into the parlour again, I'll
The cake was given. Charley cared about as much for the threat as he
did for the shaking. He had gained his end.
"I pray daily for patience to bear with my children," said Mrs.
Stanley, on returning to the parlour. "They try us severely."
"That they do," replied Mrs. Noland. "But it is in our power, by
firmness, consistency, and kindness, to render our tasks
"Perhaps so. I try to be firm, and consistent, and kind with my
children; to exercise toward them constant forbearance; but, after
all, it is very hard to know exactly how to govern them."
"Mother, can't I go over into the square?" asked Emma, looking into
the parlour just at this time. She was a little girl about eight
"I would rather not have you go, my dear," returned Mrs. Stanley.
"Oh yes, mother, do let me go," urged Emma.
"Ellen can't go with you now; and I do not wish you to go alone."
"I can go well enough, mother."
"Well, run along then, you intolerable little tease, you!"
Emma scampered away, and Mrs. Stanley remarked--
"That is the way. They gain their ends by importunity."
"But should you allow that, my friend?"
"There was no particular reason why Emma should not go to the
square. I didn't think, at first, when I said I would rather not
have her go, or I would have said 'yes' at once. It is so difficult
to decide upon children's requests on the spur of the moment."
"But after you had said that you did not want her to go to the
square, would it not have been better to have made her abide by your
"I don't think it would have been right for me to have deprived the
child of the pleasure of playing in the square, from the mere pride
of consistency. I was wrong in objecting at first--to have adhered
to my objection would have been still a greater wrong;--don't you
"I do not," returned Mrs. Noland. "I know of no greater evil in a
family, than for the children to discover that their parents
vacillate in any matter regarding them. A denial once made to any
request should be positive, even if, in a moment after, it be seen
to have been made without sufficient reason."
"I cannot agree with you. Justice, I hold, to be paramount in all
things. We should never wrong a child."
The third appearance of Charley again broke in upon the
"Give me another piece of cake, mother."
"What! Didn't I tell you that there was no more for you? No! you
cannot have another morsel."
"I want some more cake," whined the child.
"Not a crumb more, sir."
The whine rose into a cry.
"Go up stairs, sir."
Charley did not move.
"Go this instant."
"Give me some cake."
The cry swelled into a loud bawl.
Mrs. Stanley became excessively annoyed. "I never saw such
persevering children in my life," said she, impatiently. "They don't
regard what I say any more than if I had not spoken. Charles! Go out
of the parlour this moment!"
The tone in which this was uttered the child understood. He left the
parlour slowly, but continued to cry at the top of his voice. The
parlour bell was rung, and Ellen the nurse appeared.
"Do, Ellen, give that boy another piece of cake! There is no other
way to keep him quiet."
In about three minutes after this direction had been given, all was
still again. Mrs. Stanley now changed the topic of conversation. Her
manner was not quite so cheerful as before. The conduct of Charley
had worried and mortified her.
The last piece of cake had not been really wanted. Charley asked for
it because a spirit of opposition had been aroused, but he had no
appetite to eat it. It was crumbled about the floor and wasted. His
mother had peace for the next hour. After that she went into the
kitchen to give directions, and make some preparations for tea.
Charley was by her side.
"Ellen, take this child out," said she.
Ellen took hold of Charley's arm.
"No!--no!--Go 'way, Ellen!" he screamed.
"There!--there!--never mind. Let him stay," said the mother.
A jar of preserved fruit was brought forth.
"Give me some?" asked Charley.
"No, not now. You will get some at the table."
"I want some now. Give me some now."
A spoonful of the preserves was put into a saucer, and given to the
"Give me some more," said he, holding up his saucer in about half a
"No. Wait until tea is ready."
"Give me some sweetmeats. I want more, mother!"
"I tell you, no."
A loud bawl followed.
"I declare this child will worry me to death!" exclaimed the mother,
her mind all in confusion, lading out a large spoonful of the fruit,
and putting it into his saucer.
When this was eaten, still more was demanded, and peremptorily
refused. Crying was resorted to, but without effect, though it was
loud and deafening. Finding this unsuccessful, the spoiled urchin
determined to help himself. As soon as his mother's back was turned,
he clambered up to the table and seized the jar containing the
preserves. In pulling it over far enough to get his spoon into it,
the balance of the jar was destroyed, and over it went, rolling off
upon the floor, and breaking with a loud crash. At the moment this
occurred, Mrs. Stanley entered the room. Her patience, that had been
severely tried, was now completely overthrown. She was angry enough
to punish her child, and feel a delight in doing so. Seizing him by
one arm, she lifted him from the floor, as if he had been but a
feather, and hurried with him up to her chamber. There she whipped
him unmercifully, and then put him to bed. He continued to cry after
she had done so, when she commanded him to stop in a voice that he
dared not disobey. An hour afterward, when much cooled down, she
passed through the chamber. She looked down upon her little boy with
a feeling of repentance for her anger and the severity of her
punishment. This feeling was in no way mitigated on hearing the
child sob in his sleep. The mother felt very unhappy.
So much for Mrs. Stanley--so much for her tenderness of feeling--so
much for her warm-blooded system. Its effects need not be exposed
further. Its folly need not be set in any plainer light.
Some weeks afterward she was spending an afternoon with Mrs. Noland.
Her favourite topic was the management of children, and she
introduced it as usual, inveighing as was her wont against the
cruelty of punishing children--especially in cold blood, as she
called it. For her part, she never punished except in extreme cases,
and not then, unless provoked to do so. Unless she felt angry, and
punished on the spur of the moment, she could not do it at all.
During the conversation, which was led pretty much by Mrs. Stanley,
a child, about the age of Charley, came into the parlour. He walked
up to his mother and whispered some request in her ear.
"Oh no, Master Harry!" was the smiling, but decided reply.
The child lingered with a look of disappointment. At length he came
up, and kissing his mother, asked again, in a sweet, earnest way,
for what he had been at first denied.
"After I said no!" And Mrs. Noland looked gravely into his face.
Tears came into Henry's eyes. But he said no more. In a moment or
two he silently left the room.
"Mrs. Noland! How could you resist that dear little fellow? I
declare it was right down cruel in you."
The eyes of Mrs. Stanley glistened as she spoke.
"It would have been far more cruel to him if I had yielded, after
once having said 'no'--far more cruel had I given him what I knew
would have injured him."
"But, I don't see how you could refuse so dear a child, when he
asked you in such a sweet, affectionate manner. I should have given
him any thing in the world he had asked for."
"That's not my way. I say 'no' only when I have good reason, and
then I never change."
Henry appeared at the parlour door again.
"Come in, dear," said Mrs. Noland.
The child came quickly forward, put up his mouth to kiss her, and
then nestled closely by his mother's side. The conversation
continued, without the slightest interruption from him.
"Dear little fellow," said Mrs. Stanley, once or twice, looking into
the child's face, and smoothing his hair with her hand.
When the tea bell rung, the family assembled in the dining-room. A
visiter made it necessary that one of the children should wait.
Henry was by the table as usual.
"Harry, dear," said his mother, "you will have to wait and come with
The child felt very much disappointed. He looked up into his
mother's face for a moment, and then, without a word, went out of
"Poor little fellow! It is really a pity to make him wait; and he is
so good," said Mrs. Stanley. "I am sure we can make room for him. Do
call him back, and let him sit by me."
And she moved close to one of the older children as she spoke. "Here
is plenty of room."
Mrs. Noland thought for a moment, and then told the waiter to call
Henry back. The child came in as quietly as he had gone out, and
came up to his mother's side.
"My dear," said Mrs. Noland, "this good lady here has made room for
you by her side. You can go and sit by her."
The child's face brightened. He went quickly and took the offered
seat. By the time tea was over, Henry had fallen asleep in his
chair. Mrs. Noland, when all arose from the table, took Henry in her
arms, and went with him, accompanied by Mrs. Stanley, to her
chamber, where she undressed him, and kissing fondly his bright
young cheek, laid him in his little bed.
Mrs. Stanley stood for some moments over the sleeping child, and
looked down upon his calm face. As she did so, she remembered her
own little Charley, and under what different circumstances and
feelings he had been put to bed on the evening of Mrs. Noland's
visit to her.
Whether the contrast did her any good, we have no means of knowing.
We trust the lesson was not without its good effect upon her.
THE EVENING PRAYER.
"OUR Father." The mother's voice was low, and tender, and solemn.
"Our Father." On two sweet voices the words were borne upward. It
was the innocence of reverent childhood that gave them utterance.
"Who art in the heavens."
"Who art in the heavens," repeated the children, one with her eyes
bent meekly down, and the other looking upward, as if she would
penetrate the heavens into which her heart aspired.
"Hallowed be Thy name."
Lower fell the voices of the little ones. In a gentle murmur they
said: "Hallowed be Thy name."
"Thy kingdom come."
And the burden of the prayer was still taken up by the
children--"Thy kingdom come."
"Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven."
Like a low, sweet echo from the land of angels--"Thy will be done on
earth, as it is done in heaven," filled the chamber.
And the mother continued--"Give us this day our daily bread."
"Our daily bread" lingered a moment on the air, as the mother's
voice was hushed into silence.
"And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors."
The eyes of the children had drooped for a moment. But they were
uplifted again as they prayed--"And forgive us our debts, as we also
forgive our debtors."
"And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For
Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
All these holy words were said, piously and fervently, by the little
ones, as they knelt with clasped hands beside their mother. Then, as
their thoughts, uplifted on the wings of prayer to their heavenly
Father, came back again and rested on their earthly parents, a
warmer love came gushing from their hearts.
Pure kisses--tender embraces--the fond "good night." What a sweet
agitation pervaded all their feelings! Then two dear heads were
placed side by side on the snowy pillow, the mother's last kiss
given, and the shadowy curtains drawn.
What a pulseless stillness reigns throughout the chamber! Inwardly
the parents' listening ears are bent. They have given these innocent
ones into the keeping of God's angels, and they can almost hear the
rustle of their garments as they gather around their sleeping babes.
A sigh, deep and tremulous, breaks on the air. Quickly the mother
turns to the father of her children, with a look of earnest inquiry
on her countenance. And he answers thus her silent question.
"Far back, through many years, have my thoughts been wandering. At
my mother's knee thus said I nightly, in childhood, my evening
prayer. It was that best and holiest of all prayers, "Our Father,"
that she taught me. Childhood and my mother passed away. I went
forth as a man into the world, strong, confident, and self-seeking.
Once I came into great temptation. Had I fallen in that temptation,
I would have fallen, I sadly fear, never to have risen again. The
struggle in my mind went on for hours. I was about yielding. All the
barriers I could oppose to the in-rushing flood seemed just ready to
give way, when, as I sat in my room one evening, there came from an
adjoining chamber, now first occupied for many weeks, the murmur of
low voices. I listened. At first, no articulate sound was heard, and
yet something in the tones stirred my heart with new and strange
emotions. At length, there came to my ears, in the earnest, loving
voice of a woman, the words--'Deliver us from evil.' For an instant,
it seemed to me as if the voice were that of my mother. Back, with a
sudden bound through all the intervening years, went my thoughts;
and, a child in heart again, I was kneeling at my mother's knee.
Humbly and reverently I said over the words of the holy prayer she
had taught me, heart and eyes uplifted to heaven. The hour and the
power of darkness had passed. I was no longer standing in slippery
places, with a flood of waters ready to sweep me to destruction; but
my feet were on a rock. My mother's pious care had saved her son. In
the holy words she taught me in childhood, was a living power to
resist evil through all my after life. Ah! that unknown mother, as
she taught her child to repeat his evening prayer, how little
dreamed she that the holy words were to reach a stranger's ears, and
save him through memories of his own childhood and his own mother!
And yet it was so. What a power there is in God's Word, as it flows
into and rests in the minds of innocent children!"
Tears were in the eyes of the wife and mother as she lifted her
face, and gazed with a subdued tenderness upon the countenance of
her husband. Her heart was too full for utterance. A little while
she thus gazed, and then, with a trembling joy, laid her head upon
his bosom. Angels were in the chamber where their dear ones slept,
and they felt their holy presence.
A PEEVISH DAY, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
"IT is too bad, Rachael, to put me to all this trouble; and you know
I can hardly hold up my head!"
Thus spoke Mrs. Smith, in a peevish voice, to a quiet-looking
domestic, who had been called up from the kitchen to supply some
unimportant omission in the breakfast-table arrangement.
Rachael looked hurt and rebuked, but made no reply.
"How could you speak in that way to Rachael?" said Mr. Smith, as
soon as the domestic had withdrawn.
"If you felt just as I do, Mr. Smith, you would speak cross too!"
Mrs. Smith replied a little warmly. "I feel just like a rag; and my
head aches as if it would burst."
"I know you feel badly, and I am very sorry for you. But still, I
suppose it is as easy to speak kindly as harshly. Rachael is very
obliging and attentive, and should be borne with in occasional
omissions, which you of course know are not wilful."
"It is easy enough to preach," retorted Mrs. Smith, whose temper,
from bodily lassitude and pain, was in quite an irritable state. The
reader will understand at least one of the reasons of this, when he
is told that the scene here presented occurred during the last
oppressive week in August.
Mr. Smith said no more. He saw that to do so would only be to
provoke instead of quieting his wife's ill-humour. The morning meal
went by in silence, but little food passing the lips of either. How
could it, when the thermometer was ninety-four at eight o'clock in
the morning, and the leaves upon the trees were as motionless as if
suspended in a vacuum? Bodies and minds were relaxed--and the one
turned from food, as the other did from thought, with an instinctive
After Mr. Smith had left his home for his place of business, Mrs.
Smith went up into her chamber, and threw herself upon the bed, her
head still continuing to ache with great violence. It so happened
that a week before, the chambermaid had gone away, sick, and all the
duties of the household had in consequence devolved upon Rachael,
herself not very well. Cheerfully, however, had she endeavoured to
discharge these accumulated duties, and but for the unhappy, peevish
state of mind in which Mrs. Smith indulged, would have discharged
them without a murmuring thought. But, as she was a faithful,
conscientious woman, and, withal, sensitive in her feelings, to be
found fault with worried her exceedingly. Of this Mrs. Smith was
well aware, and had, until the latter part of the trying month of
August, acted toward Rachael with consideration and forbearance. But
the last week of August was too much for her. The sickness of the
chambermaid threw such heavy duties upon Rachael, whose daily
headaches and nervous relaxation of body were borne without a
complaint, that their perfect performance was almost impossible.
Slight omissions, which were next to unavoidable under the
circumstances, became so annoying to Mrs. Smith, herself, as it has
been seen, labouring under great bodily and mental prostration, that
she could not bear them.
"She knows better, and she could do better, if she chose," was her
rather uncharitable comment often inwardly made on the occurrence of
some new trouble.
After Mr. Smith had taken his departure on the morning just referred
to, Mrs. Smith went up into her chamber, as has been seen, and threw
herself languidly upon a bed, pressing her hands to her throbbing
temples, as she did so, and murmuring,
"I can't live at this rate!"
At the same time, Rachael set down in the kitchen the large waiter
upon which she had arranged the dishes from the breakfast-table, and
then sinking into a chair, pressed one hand upon her forehead, and
sat for more than a minute in troubled silence. It had been three
days since she had received from Mrs. Smith a pleasant word; and the
last remark, made to her a short time before, had been the unkindest
of all. At another time, even all this would not have moved her--she
could have perceived that Mrs. S. was not in a right state--that
lassitude of body had produced a temporary infirmity of mind. But,
being herself affected by the oppressive season almost as much as
her mistress, she could not make these allowances. While still
seated, the chamber-bell was rung with a quick, startling jerk.
"What next?" peevishly ejaculated Rachael, and then slowly proceeded
to obey the summons.
"How could you leave my chamber in such a condition as this?" was
the salutation that met her ear, as she entered the presence of Mrs.
Smith, who, half raised upon the bed, and leaning upon her hand,
looked the very personification of languor, peevishness, and
ill-humour. "You had plenty of time while we were eating breakfast
to have put things a little to rights!"
To this Rachael made no reply, but turned away and went back into
the kitchen. She had scarcely reached that spot, before the bell
rang again, louder and quicker than before; but she did not answer
it. In about three minutes it was jerked with an energy that snapped
the wire, but Rachael was immovable. Five minutes elapsed, and then
Mrs. Smith, fully aroused from the lethargy that had stolen over
her, came down with a quick, firm step.
"What's the reason you didn't answer my bell? say!" she asked, in an
Rachael did not reply.
"Do you hear me?"
Rachael had never been so treated before; she had lived with Mrs.
Smith for three years, and had rarely been found fault with. She had
been too strict in regard to the performance of her duty to leave
much room for even a more exacting mistress to find fault; but now,
to be overtasked and sick, and to be chidden, rebuked, and even
angrily assailed, was more than she could well bear. She did not
suffer herself to speak for some moments, and then her voice
trembled, and the tears came out upon her cheeks.
"I wish you to get another in my place. I find I don't suit you. My
time will be up day after tomorrow."
"Very well," was Mrs. Smith's firm reply, as she turned away, and
left the kitchen.
Here was trouble in good earnest. Often and often had Mrs. Smith
said, during the past two or three years--"What should I do without
Rachael?" And now she had given notice that she was going to leave
her, and under circumstances which made pride forbid a request to
stay. Determined to act out her part of the business with firmness
and decision, she dressed herself and went out, hot and oppressive
as it was, and took her way to an intelligence office, where she
paid the required fee and directed a cook and chambermaid to be sent
to her. On the next morning, about ten o'clock, an Irish girl came
and offered herself as a cook, and was, after sundry questions and
answers, engaged. So soon as this negotiation was settled, Rachael
retired from the kitchen, leaving the new-comer in full possession.
In half an hour after she received her wages, and left, in no very
happy frame of mind, a home that had been for three years, until
within a few days, a pleasant one. As for Mrs. Smith, she was ready
to go to bed sick; but this was impracticable. Nancy, the new cook,
had expressly stipulated that she was to have no duties unconnected
with the kitchen. The consequence was, that notwithstanding the
thermometer ranged above ninety, and the atmosphere remained as
sultry as air from a heated oven, Mrs. Smith was compelled to
arrange her chamber and parlours. By the time this was done, she was
in a condition to go to bed, and lie until dinner-time.
The arrival of this important period brought new troubles and
vexations. Dinner was late by forty minutes, and then came on the
table in a most abominable condition. A fine sirloin was burnt to a
crisp. The tomatoes were smoked, and the potatoes watery. As if this
was not enough to mar the pleasure of the dinner hour for a hungry
husband, Mrs. Smith added thereto a distressed countenance and
discouraging complaints. Nancy was grumbled at and scolded every
time she had occasion to appear in the room, and her single attempt
to excuse herself on account of not understanding the cook-stove,
was met by, "Do hush, will you! I'm out of all patience!"
As to the latter part of the sentence, that was a needless waste of
words. The condition of mind she described was fully apparent.
About three o'clock in the afternoon, just as Mrs. Smith had found a
temporary relief from a troubled mind, and a most intolerable
headache, in sleep, a tap on the chamber-door awoke her, and there
stood Nancy, all equipped for going out.
"I find I won't suit you, ma'am," said Nancy, "and so you must look
out for another girl."
Having said this, she turned away and took her departure, leaving
Mrs. Smith in a state of mind, as it is said, "more easily imagined
"Oh dear! what shall I do?" at length broke from her lips, as she
burst into tears, and burying her face in the pillow, sobbed aloud.
Already she had repented of her fretfulness and fault-finding
temper, as displayed toward Rachael, and could she have made a truce
with pride, or silenced its whispers, would have sent for her
well-tried domestic, and endeavoured to make all fair with her
again. But, under the circumstances, this was now impossible. While
yet undetermined how to act, the street-bell rung, and she was
compelled to attend the door, as she was now alone in the house. She
found, on opening it, a rough-looking country girl, who asked if she
were the lady who wanted a chambermaid. Any kind of help was better
than none at all, and so Mrs. Smith asked the young woman to walk
in. In treating with her in regard to her qualifications for the
situation she applied for, she discovered that she knew "almost
nothing at all about any thing." The stipulation that she was to be
a doer-of-all-work-in-general, until a cook could be obtained, was
readily agreed to, and then she was shown to her room in the attic,
where she prepared herself for entering upon her duties.
"Will you please, ma'am, show me what you want me to do?" asked the
new help, presenting herself before Mrs. Smith.
"Go into the kitchen, Ellen, and see that the fire is made. I'll be
down there presently."
To be compelled to see after a new and ignorant servant, and direct
her in every thing, just at so trying a season of the year, and
while her mind was "all out of sorts," was a severe task for poor
Mrs. Smith. She found that Ellen, as she had too good reason for
believing, was totally unacquainted with kitchen-work. She did not
even know how to kindle a coal fire; nor could she manage the stove
after Mrs. Smith had made the fire for her. All this did not in any
way tend to make her less unhappy or more patient than before. On
retiring for the night she had a high fever, which continued
unabated until morning, when her husband found her really ill; so
much so as to make the attendance of a doctor necessary.
A change in the air had taken place during the night, and the
temperature had fallen many degrees. This aided the efforts of the
physician, and enabled him so to adapt his remedies as to speedily
break the fever. But the ignorance and awkwardness of Ellen,
apparent in her attempts to arrange her bed and chamber, so worried
her mind, that she was near relapsing into her former feverish and
excited state. The attendance of an elder maiden sister was just in
time. All care was taken from her thoughts, and she had a chance of
recovering a more healthy tone of mind and body. During the next
week, she knew little or nothing of how matters were progressing out
of her own chamber. A new cook had been hired, of whom she was
pleased to hear good accounts, although she had not seen her; and
Ellen, under the mild and judicious instruction of her sister, had
learned to make up a bed neatly, to sweep, and dust in true style,
and to perform all the little etceteras of chamber-work, greatly to
her satisfaction. She was, likewise, good-tempered, willing, and to
all appearance strictly trustworthy.
One morning, about a week after she had become too ill to keep up,
she found herself so far recovered as to be able to go down stairs
to breakfast. Every thing upon the table she found arranged in the
neatest style. The food was well cooked, especially some tender rice
cakes, of which she was very fond.
"Really, these are delicious!" said she, as the finely flavoured
cakes almost melted in her mouth. "And this coffee is just the
thing! How fortunate we have been to obtain so good a cook! I was
afraid we should never be able to replace Rachael. But even she is
equalled, if not surpassed."
"Still she does not surpass Rachael," said Mr. Smith, a little
gravely. "Rachael was a treasure."
"Indeed she was. And I have been sorry enough I ever let her go,"
returned Mrs. Smith.
At that moment the new cook entered with a plate of warm cakes.
"Rachael!" ejaculated Mrs. Smith, letting her knife and fork fall.
"How do you do? I am glad to see you! Welcome home again!"
As she spoke quickly and earnestly, she held out her hand, and
grasped that of her old domestic warmly. Rachael could not speak,
but as she left the room she put her apron to her eyes. Hers were
not the only one's dim with rising moisture.
For at least a year to come both Mrs. Smith and her excellent cook
will have no cause to complain of each other. How they will get
along during the last week of next August we cannot say, but hope
the lesson they have both received will teach them to bear and
[We make the following extract from one of our books--"Advice to
Young Men on their Duties and Conduct in Life."]
IF you have younger sisters, who are just entering society, all your
interest should be awakened for them. You cannot but have seen some
little below the surface, and already made the discovery that too
few of the young men who move about in the various social circles to
which you have admission, are fit associates for a pure-minded
woman. Their exterior, it is true, is very fair; they sing well,
they dance well, their persons are elegant, and their manners
attractive; but you have met them when they felt none of the
restraints of female society, and seen them unmask their real
characters. You can remember the ribald jest, the obscene allusion,
the sneer at virtue, the unblushing acknowledgment of
licentiousness. You have heard them speak of this sweet girl, and
that pure-minded woman, in terms that would have roused your deepest
indignation, had your own sister been the subject of allusion.
You may know all these things, but your innocent sisters at home
cannot know them, nor see reason for shunning the society of those
whose real characters, if revealed, would cause them to turn away in
disgust and horror. From the dangers of an acquaintanceship with
such young men it is your duty to guard your sisters; and you must
do this more by warding off the evil than by warnings against it. In
order to this, you should make it a point of duty always to go with
your sisters into company, and to be their companion, if possible,
on all public occasions. By so doing, you can prevent the
introduction of men whose principles are bad; or, if such
introductions are forced upon them in spite of you, can throw in a
timely word of caution. This latter it may be too late to do after
an acquaintanceship is formed with a man whose character is
detestable in your eyes, provided he have a fair exterior. Your
sister will hardly be made to believe that one who is so attractive
in all respects, and who can converse of virtue and honour so
eloquently, can possibly have an impure or vicious mind. She will
think you prejudiced. The great thing is to guard, by every means in
your power, these innocent ones from the polluting presence of a bad
man. You cannot tell how soon he may win the affections of the most
innocent, confiding, and loving of them all, and draw her off from
virtue. And even if his designs be honourable--if he win her but to
wed her--her lot will be by no means an enviable one; he cannot make
her happy; for happy no pure-minded woman ever has been, or ever can
be made, by a corrupt, evil-minded, and selfish man.
You are a brother; your position is one of great responsibility; let
this be ever before your mind.
On your faithfulness to your duty, may depend a lifetime of
happiness or misery for those who are, or ought to be, very dear to
you. But not only should you seek to guard them from the danger just
alluded to--your affection for them should lead you to enter into
their pleasures as far as in your power to do so; to give interest
and variety to the home circle; to afford them, at all times, the
assistance of your judgment in matters of trivial as well as grave
importance. By this you will gain their confidence and acquire an
influence over them that may, at some later period, enable you to
serve them in a moment of impending danger.
We very often--indeed, far too often--see young men with sisters who
appear to be entirely indifferent in regard to them. They rarely
visit together; their associates, male and female, are strangers to
each other; they appear to have no common interests. This state of
things is the fault, nine times in ten, of the young men. It is the
result of their neglect and indifference. There are very few sisters
who do not love with a most tender and unselfish regard their
brothers, especially their elder brothers, and who would not feel
happier in being their companions than in the companionship of
almost any one. Notwithstanding all this neglect and indifference,
how willingly is every little office performed that adds to the
brother's comfort! How much care is there for him who gives back so
little in return! The sister's love is as unselfish as it is
unostentatious. It is shown in acts, not in professions. How can any
young man be indifferent to such love? How can he fail in its full
and free reciprocation?
A regard for himself, as well as for his sisters, should lead a
young man to be much with them. Their influence in softening,
polishing, and refining his character, will be very great. They have
perceptions of the propriety and fitness of things far quicker than
he has; and this he will soon see if he observe their remarks upon
the persons with whom they come in contact, and the circumstances
that transpire around them. While he is reasoning on the subject,
and balancing many things in his mind before coming to a
satisfactory conclusion, they, by a kind of intuition, have settled
the whole matter, and settled it, he will find, truly. In the graver
things of life, a man's judgment is more to be relied upon than a
woman's, because here a regular course of reasoning from premises
laid down is required, and this a man is much more able to do than a
woman; but in matters of taste and propriety, and in the quick
appreciation of character, a woman's perceptions are worth far more
than a man's judgment. And in the more weighty and serious matters
of life, a man will always find that he will receive aid, in coming
to a nice decision, from a wife or sister who loves him, if he will
only carefully lay the whole subject before her, with the reasons
that appeal to his judgment, and be guided in some measure by her
perceptions of what is right. This is because man is in the province
of the understanding, which acts by thought, and woman in the
province of the affections, which act by perceptions; not that a man
does not have perceptions and a woman reason, but the leading
characteristic difference between the sexes is as stated, and each
comes to conclusions mainly by either the one or the other of these
two modes. This position, which we believe to be the true one in
regard to the difference between the sexes, demonstrates the great
use of female society, especially the society of those who feel some
interest in and affection for us. In such society, there is a
reciprocation of benefits that is nearly, if not quite, equal. And
nowhere can this reciprocation be of greater utility than among
brothers and sisters, just entering upon life, with all their
knowledge of human character and human life to gain.
[The following suggestions, on the relation and duties of a sister
to her brother, are taken from a volume by the Author of this book,
entitled, "Advice to Young Ladies on their Duties and Conduct in
OLDER brothers are not usually as attentive to their younger sisters
as the latter would feel to be agreeable. The little girls that were
so long known as children, with the foibles, faults, and caprices of
children, although now grown up into tall young ladies, who have
left or are about leaving school, are still felt to be children, or
but a little advanced beyond childhood, by the young men who have
had some three or four years' experience in the world. With these
older brothers, there will not usually be, arising from this cause,
much confidential and unreserved intercourse; at least, not until
the sisters have added two or three years more to their ages, and
assumed more of the quiet dignity of womanhood.
Upon these older brothers, therefore, the conduct of sisters cannot,
usually, have much effect. They are removed to a point chiefly
beyond the circle of their influence. But upon brothers near about
their own age, and younger than themselves, the influence of sisters
may be brought to bear with the most salutary results.
The temptations to which young men are exposed, when first they come
in contact with the world, are many, and full of the strongest
allurements. Their virtuous principles are assailed in a thousand
ways; sometimes boldly, and sometimes by the most insidious arts of
the vicious and evil-minded. All, therefore, that can make virtue
lovely in their eyes, and vice hideous, they need to strengthen the
good principles stored up, from childhood, in their minds. For their
sakes, home should be made as attractive as possible, in order to
induce them frequently to spend their evenings in the place where,
of all others, they will be safest. To do this, a young lady must
consult the tastes of her brothers, and endeavour to take sufficient
interest in the pursuits that interest them, as to make herself
companionable. If they are fond of music, one of the strongest
incentives she can have for attaining the highest possible skill in
performing upon the piano, will be the hope of making home, thereby,
the most attractive place where they can spend their evenings. If
they are fond of reading, let her read, as far as she can, the books
that interest them, in order that she may take part in their
conversations; and let her, in every other possible way, furnish
herself with the means of making home agreeable.
There is no surer way for a sister to gain an influence with her
brother, than to cultivate all exterior graces and accomplishments,
and improve her mind by reading, thinking, and observation. By these
means she not only becomes his intelligent companion, but inspires
him with a feeling of generous pride toward her, that, more than any
thing else, impresses her image upon his mind, brings her at all
times nearer to him, and gives her a double power over him for good.
The indifference felt by brothers toward their sisters, when it does
exist, often arises from the fact that their sisters are inferior,
in almost every thing, to the women they are in the habit of meeting
abroad. Where this is the case, such indifference is not so much to
be wondered at.
Sisters should always endeavour to gain, as much as possible, the
confidence of their brothers, and to give them their confidence in
return. Mutual good offices will result from this, and attachments
that could only produce unhappiness may be prevented. A man sees
more of men than woman does, and the same is true in regard to the
other sex. This being so, a brother has it in his power at once to
guard his sister against the advances of an unprincipled man, or a
man whose habits he knows to be bad; and a sister has it in her
power to reveal to her brother traits of character in a woman, for
whom he is about forming an attachment, that would repel rather than
Toward her younger brother a sister should be particularly
considerate. In allusion to this subject, Mrs. Farrar has written so
well that we cannot repress our wish to quote her. "If your brothers
are younger than you, encourage them to be perfectly confidential
with you; win their friendship by your sympathy in all their
concerns, and let them see that their interests and their pleasures
are liberally provided for in the family arrangements. Never
disclose their little secrets, however unimportant they may seem to
you; never pain them by an ill-timed joke; never repress their
feelings by ridicule; but be their tenderest friend, and then you
may become their ablest adviser. If separated from them by the
course of school and college education, make a point of keeping up
your intimacy by full, free, and affectionate correspondence; and
when they return to the paternal roof, at that awkward age between
youth and manhood, when reserve creeps over the mind like an
impenetrable vail, suffer it not to interpose between you and your
brothers. Cultivate their friendship and intimacy with all the
address and tenderness you possess; for it is of unspeakable
importance to them that their sisters should be their confidential
friends. Consider the loss of a ball or party, for the sake of
making the evening pass pleasantly to your brothers at home, as a
small sacrifice--one you should unhesitatingly make. If they go into
company with you, see that they are introduced to the most desirable
acquaintances, and show them that you are interested in their
acquitting themselves well."
Having quoted thus much from the "Young Lady's Friend," we feel
inclined to give a few passages more from the author's admirable
remarks on the relation of brother and sister.
"So many temptations beset young men, of which young women know
nothing, that it is of the utmost importance that your brothers'
evenings should be happily passed at home; that their friends should
be your friends; that their engagements should be the same as yours;
and that various innocent amusements should be provided for them in
the family circle. Music is an accomplishment usually valuable as a
home enjoyment, as rallying round the piano the various members of a
family, and harmonizing their hearts, as well as their voices,
particularly in devotional strains. I know no more agreeable and
interesting spectacle than that of brothers and sisters playing and
singing together those elevated compositions in music and poetry
which gratify the taste and purify the heart, while their parents
sit delighted by. I have seen and heard an elder sister thus leading
the family choir, who was the soul of harmony to the whole
household, and whose life was a perfect example of those virtues
which I am here endeavouring to inculcate. Let no one say, in
reading this chapter, that too much is here required of sisters;
that no one can be expected to lead such a self-sacrificing life;
for the sainted one to whom I refer was all that I would ask my
sister to be; and a happier person never lived. 'To do good and make
others happy,' was the rule of her life; and in this she found the
art of making herself so.
"Brothers will generally be found strongly opposed to the slightest
indecorum in sisters.....Their intercourse with all sorts of men
enables them to judge of the construction put upon certain actions,
and modes of dress and speech, much better than women can; and you
will do well to take their advice on all such points.
"I have been told by men, who had passed unharmed through the
temptations of youth, that they owed their escape from many dangers
to the intimate companionship of affectionate and pure-minded
sisters. They have been saved from a hazardous meeting with idle
company by some home engagement, of which their sisters were the
charm; they have refrained from mixing with the impure, because they
would not bring home thoughts and feelings which they could not
share with those trusting and loving friends; they have put aside
the wine-cup, and abstained from stronger potations, because they
would not profane with their fumes the holy kiss, with which they
were accustomed to bid their sisters good-night."
SOCIETY is marked by greater and smaller divisions, as into nations,
communities, and families. A man is a member of the commonwealth, a
smaller community, as a hamlet or city, and his family at the same
time; and the more perfectly all his duties to his family are
discharged, the more fully does he discharge his duties to the
community and the nation; for a good member of a family cannot be a
bad member of the commonwealth, for he that is faithful in what is
least, will also be faithful in what is greater. Indeed, the more
perfectly a man fulfils all his domestic duties, the more perfectly,
in that very act, has he discharged his duty to the whole; for the
whole is made up of parts, and its health depends entirely upon the
health of the various parts. There are, of course, general as well
as specific duties; but the more conscientious a man is in the
discharge of specific duties, the more ready will he be to perform
those that are general; and we believe that the converse of this
will be found equally true, and that those who have least regard for
home--who have, indeed, no home, no domestic circle--are the worst
citizens. This they may not be apparently; they may not break the
laws, nor do any thing to call down upon them censure from the
community, and yet, in the secret and almost unconscious
dissemination of demoralizing principles, may be doing a work far
more destructive of the public good than if they had committed a
We always feel pain when we hear a young man speak lightly of home,
and talk carelessly, or, it may be, with sportive ridicule, of the
"old man" and the "old woman," as if they were of but little
consequence. We mark it as a bad indication, and feel that the feet
of that young man are treading upon dangerous ground. His home
education may not have been of the best kind, nor may home
influences have reached his higher and better feelings; but he is at
least old enough now to understand the causes, and to seek rather to
bring into his home all that it needs to render it more attractive,
than to estrange himself from it and expose its defects.
Instances of this kind are not of very frequent occurrence. Home has
its charms for nearly all, and the very name comes with a blessing
to the spirit. This, however, is more the case with those who have
been separated from it, than it is with those who yet remain in the
old homestead with parents, brothers, and sisters, as their friends
The earnest love of home, felt by nearly all who have been compelled
to leave that pleasant place, is a feeling that should be tenderly
cherished: and this love should be kept alive by associations that
have in them as perfect a resemblance of home as it is possible to
obtain. It is for this reason that it is bad for a young man to
board in a large hotel, where there is nothing in which there is
even an image of the home-circle. Each has his separate chamber; but
that is not home. All meet together at the common table; but there
is no home feeling there, with its many sweet reciprocations. The
meal completed, all separate, each to his individual pursuit or
pleasure. There is a parlour, it is true; but there are no family
gatherings there. One and another sit there, as inclination prompts;
but each sits alone, busy with his own thoughts. All this is a poor
substitute for home. And yet it offers its attractions to some. A
young man in a hotel has more freedom than in a family or private
boarding-house. He comes in and goes out unobserved; there is no one
to say to him, "why?" or "wherefore?" But this is a dangerous
freedom, and one which no young man should desire.
But mere negative evils, so to speak, are not the worst that beset a
young man who unwisely chooses a public hotel as a place for
boarding. He is much more exposed to temptations there than in a
private boarding-house, or at home. Men of licentious habits, in
most cases, select hotels as boarding-places; and such rarely
scruple to offer to the ardent minds of young men, with whom they
happen to fall in company, those allurements that are most likely to
lead them away from virtue. And, besides this, there being no
evening home-circle in a hotel, a young man who is not engaged
earnestly in some pursuit that occupies his hours of leisure from
business has nothing to keep him there, but is forced to seek for
something to interest his mind elsewhere, and is, in consequence,
more open to temptation.
Home is man's true place. Every man should have a home. Here his
first duties lie, and here he finds the strength by which he is able
successfully to combat in life's temptations. Happy is that young
man who is still blessed with a home--who has his mother's counsel
and the pure love of sisters to strengthen and cheer him amid life's
A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE ON THE PATH OF A MONEY-LENDER.
MR. EDGAR was a money-lender, and scrupled not in exacting the
highest "street rates" of interest that could be obtained. If good
paper were offered, and he could buy it from the needy seeker of
cash at two or even three per cent. a month, he did not hesitate
about the transaction on any scruples of justice between man and
man. Below one per cent. a month, he rarely made loans. He had
nothing to do with the question, as to whether the holder of bills
could afford the sacrifice. The circle of his thoughts went not
beyond gain to himself.
Few days closed with Mr. Edgar that he was not able to count up
gains as high as from thirty to one hundred dollars: not acquired in
trade--not coming back to him as the reward of productive
industry--but the simple accumulation of large clippings from the
anticipated reward of others' industry. Always with a good balance
in bank, he had but to sign his name to a check, and the slight
effort was repaid by a gain of from ten to fifty dollars, according
to the size and time of the note he had agreed to discount. A shrewd
man, and well acquainted with the business standing of all around
him, Mr. Edgar rarely made mistakes in money transactions. There was
always plenty of good paper offering, and he never touched any thing
regarded as doubtful.
Was Mr. Edgar a happy man? Ah! that is a home question. But we
answer frankly, no. During his office hours, while his love of gain
was active--while good customers were coming and going, and good
operations being effected--his mind was in a pleasurable glow. But,
at other times, he suffered greatly from a pressure on his feelings,
the cause of which he did not clearly understand. Wealth he had
always regarded as the greatest good in life. And now he not only
had wealth, but the income therefrom was a great deal more than he
had any desire to spend. And yet he was not happy--no, not even in
the thought of his large possessions. Only in the mental activity
through which more was obtained, did he really find satisfaction;
but this state was only of short duration.
Positive unhappiness, Mr. Edgar often experienced. Occasional
losses, careful and shrewd as he always was, were inevitable. These
fretted him greatly. To lose a thousand dollars, instead of gaining,
as was pleasantly believed, some sixty or seventy, was a shower of
cold water upon his ardent love of accumulation: and he shivered
painfully under the infliction. The importunities of friends who
needed money, and to whom it was unsafe to lend it, were also a
source of no small annoyance. And, moreover, there was little of the
heart's warm sunshine at home. As Mr. Edgar had thought more of
laying up wealth for his children than giving them the true riches
of intellect and heart, ill weeds had sprung up in their minds. He
had not loved them with an unselfish love, and he received not a
higher affection than he had bestowed. Their prominent thought, in
regard to him, seemed ever to be the obtaining of some concession to
their real or imaginary wants; and, if denied these, they reacted
upon him in anger, sullenness, or complaint.
Oh, no! Mr. Edgar was not happy. Few gleams of sunshine lay across
his path. Life to him, in his own bitter words, uttered after some
keen disappointment, had "proved a failure." And yet he continued
eager for gain; would cut as deep, exact as much from those who had
need of his money in their business, as ever. The measure of per
centage was the measure of his satisfaction.
One day a gentleman said to him--
"Mr. Edgar, I advised a young mechanic who has been in business for
a short time, and who has to take notes for his work, to call on you
for the purpose of getting them cashed. He has no credit in bank,
and is, therefore, compelled to go upon the street for money. Most
of his work is taken by one of the safest houses in the city; his
paper is, therefore, as good as any in market. Deal as moderately
with him as you can. He knows little about these matters, or where
to go for the accommodation he needs."
"Is he an industrious and prudent young man?" inquired Mr. Edgar,
caution and cupidity at once excited.
"What's his name?"
"Oh, I know him. Very well; send him along, and if his paper is
good, I'll discount it."
"You'll find it first-rate," said the gentleman.
"How much shall I charge him?" This was Mr. Edgar's first thought,
so soon as he was alone. Even as he asked himself the question, the
young mechanic entered.
"You take good paper, sometimes?" said the latter, in a hesitating
The countenance of Mr. Edgar became, instantly, very grave.
"Sometimes I do," he answered, with assumed indifference.
"I have a note of Leyden & Co.'s that I wish discounted," said
"For how much?"
"Three hundred dollars--six months;" and he handed Mr. Edgar the
"I don't like over four months' notes," remarked the money-lender,
coldly. Then he asked, "What rate of interest do you expect to pay?"
"Whatever is usual. Of course, I wish to get it done as low as
possible. My profits are not large, and every dollar I pay in
discounts is so much taken from the growth of my business and the
comfort of my family."
"You have a family?"
"Yes, sir. A wife and four children."
Mr. Edgar mused for a moment or two. An unselfish thought was
struggling to get into his mind.
"What have you usually paid on this paper?" he asked.
"The last I had discounted cost me one and a half per cent. a
"Notes of this kind are rarely marketable below that rate," said Mr.
Edgar. He had thought of exacting two per cent. "If you will leave
the note, and call round in half an hour, I will see what can be
"Very well," returned the mechanic. "Be as moderate with me as you
For the half hour that went by during the young man's absence, Mr.
Edgar walked the floor of his counting-room, trying to come to some
decision in regard to the note. Love of gain demanded two per cent.
a month, while a feeble voice, scarcely heard so far away did it
seem, pleaded for a generous regard to the young man's necessities.
The conflict taking place in his mind was a new one for the
money-lender. In no instance before had he experienced any
hesitation on the score of a large discount. Love of gain continued
clamorous for two per cent. on the note; yet, ever and anon, the low
voice stole, in pleading accents, to his ears.
"I'll do it for one and a half," said Mr. Edgar, yielding slightly
to the claim of humanity, urged by the voice, that seemed to be
Love of gain, after slight opposition, was satisfied.
But the low, penetrating voice asked for something better still.
"Weakness! Folly!" exclaimed Mr. Edgar. "I'd better make him a
present of the money at once."
It availed nothing. The voice could not be hushed.
"One per cent! He couldn't get it done as low as that in the city."
"He is a poor young man, and has a wife and four little children,"
said the voice. "Even the abstraction of legal interest from his
hard earnings is defect enough; to lose twice that sum, will make a
heavy draught on his profits, which, under the present competition
in trade, are not large. He is honest and industrious, and by his
useful labour is aiding the social well-being. Is it right for you
to get his reward?--to take his profits, and add them to your
already rich accumulations?"
Mr. Edgar did not like these home questions, and tried to stop his
ears, so that the voice could not find an entrance. But he tried in
"Bank rates on this note," continued the inward voice, "would not
much exceed nine dollars. Even this is a large sum for a poor man to
lose. Double the rate of interest, and the loss becomes an injury to
his business, or the cause of seriously abridging his home comforts.
And how much will nine dollars contribute to your happiness? Not so
much as a jot or a tittle. You are unable, now, to spend your
The young mechanic entered at this favourable moment. The
money-lender pointed to a chair; then turned to his desk, and filled
up, hurriedly, a check. Blakewell glanced at the amount thereof as
it was handed to him, and an instant flush of surprise came into his
"Haven't you made a mistake, Mr. Edgar?" said he.
"In what respect?"
"The note was for three hundred dollars, six months; and you have
given me a check for two hundred and ninety dollars, forty-three
"I've charged you bank interest," said Mr. Edgar, with a feeling of
pleasure at his heart so new, that it sent a glow along every nerve
and fibre of his being.
"Bank interest! I did not expect this, sir," replied the young man,
visibly moved. "For less than one and a half per cent. a month, I
have not been able to obtain money. One per cent, I would have paid
you cheerfully. Eighteen dollars saved! How much good that sum will
do me! I could not have saved it--or, I might say, have received
it--more opportunely. This is a kindness for which I shall ever
remember you gratefully."
Grasping the money-lender's hand, he shook it warmly; then turned
and hurried away.
Only one previous transaction had that day been made by Mr. Edgar.
In that transaction, his gain was fifty dollars, and much pleasure
had it given him. But the delight experienced was not to be compared
with what he now felt. It was to him a new experience in life--a
realization of that beautiful truth, "It is more blessed to give
than to receive."
Once or twice during the day, as Mr. Edgar dwelt on the little
circumstance, his natural love of gain caused regret for the loss of
money involved in the transaction to enter his mind. How cold,
moody, and uncomfortable he instantly became! Self-love was seeking
to rob the money-lender of the just reward of a good deed. But the
voice which had prompted the generous act was heard, clear and
sweet, and again his heart beat to a gladder measure.
Evening was closing in on the day following. It was late in
December, and winter had commenced in real earnest. Snow had fallen
for some hours. Now, however, the sky was clear, but the air keen
and frosty. The day, to Mr. Edgar, was one in which more than the
usual number of "good transactions" had been made. On one perfectly
safe note he had been able to charge as high as three per cent. per
month. Full of pleasurable excitement had his mind been while thus
gathering in gain, but now, the excitement being over, he was
oppressed. From whence the pressure came, he did not know. A cloud
usually fell upon his spirits with the closing day; and there was
not sunshine enough at home to chase it from his sky.
As Mr. Edgar walked along, with his eyes upon the pavement, his name
was called. Looking up, he saw, standing at the open door of a small
house, the mechanic he had befriended on the day before.
"Step in here just one moment," said the young man. The request was
made in a way that left Mr. Edgar no alternative but compliance. So
he entered the humble dwelling. He found himself in a small,
unlighted room, adjoining one in which a lamp was burning, and in
which was a young woman, plainly but neatly dressed, and four
children, the youngest lying in a cradle. The woman held in her hand
a warm Bay State shawl, which, after examining a few moments, with a
pleased expression of countenance, she threw over her shoulders, and
glanced at herself in a looking-glass. The oldest of the children, a
boy, was trying on a new overcoat; and his sister, two years
younger, had a white muff and a warm woollen shawl, in which her
attention was completely absorbed. A smaller child had a new cap,
and he was the most pleased of any.
"Oh, isn't father good to buy us all these? and we wanted them so
much," said the oldest of the children. "Yesterday morning, when I
told him how cold I was going to school, he said he was sorry, but
that I must try and do without a coat this winter, for he hadn't
money enough to get us all we wanted. How did he get more money,
"To a kind gentleman, who helped your father, we are indebted for
these needed comforts," replied the mother.
"He must be a good man," said the boy. "What's his name?"
"His name is Mr. Edgar."
"I will ask God to bless him to-night when I say my prayers,"
innocently spoke out the youngest of the three children.
"What does all this mean?" asked the money-lender, as he hastily
retired from the room he had entered.
"If you had charged me one per cent. on my note, this scene would
never have occurred," answered the mechanic. "With the sum you
generously saved me, I was able to buy these comforts. My heart
blesses you for the deed; and if the good wishes of my happy family
can throw sunshine across your path, it will be full of brightness."
Too much affected to reply, Mr. Edgar returned the warm pressure of
the hand which had grasped his, and glided away.
A gleam of sunshine had indeed fallen along the pathway of the
money-lender. Home had a brighter look as he passed his own
threshold. He felt kinder and more cheerful; and kindness and
cheerfulness flowed back to him from all the inmates of his
dwelling. He half wondered at the changed aspect worn by every
thing. His dreams that night were not of losses, fires, and the
wreck of dearly-cherished hopes, but of the humble home made glad by
his generous kindness. Again the happy mother, the pleased children,
and the grateful father, were before him, and his own heart leaped
with a new delight.
"It was a small act--a very light sacrifice on my part," said Mr.
Edgar to himself, as he walked, in a musing mood, toward his office
on the next morning. "And yet of how much real happiness has it been
the occasion! So much that a portion thereof has flowed back upon my
"A good act is twice blessed." It seemed as if the words were spoken
aloud, so distinctly and so suddenly were they presented to the mind
of Mr. Edgar.
Ah, if he will only heed that suggestion, made by some pure spirit,
brought near to him by the stirring of good affections in his mind!
In it lies the secret of true happiness. Let him but act therefrom,
and the sunshine will never be absent from his pathway.
ENGAGED AT SIXTEEN.
"MRS. LEE is quite fortunate with her daughters," remarked a visitor
to Mrs. Wyman, whose oldest child, a well grown girl of fifteen, was
"Yes; Kate and Harriet went off in good time. She has only Fanny
"Who is to be married this winter."
"She is engaged to Henry Florence."
"Indeed! And she is only just turned of sixteen. How fortunate,
truly! Some people have their daughters on their hands until they
are two or three-and-twenty, when the chances for good matches are
very low. _I_ was only sixteen when _I_ was married."
"Certainly; and then I had rejected two or three young men. There is
nothing like early marriages, depend upon it, Mrs. Clayton. They
always turn out the best. The most desirable young men take their
pick of the youngest girls, and leave the older ones for second-rate
"Do you hear that, Anna?" Mrs. Clayton said, laughing, as she turned
to Mrs. Wyman's daughter. "I hope you will not remain a moment later
than your mother did upon the maiden list."
Anna blushed slightly, but did not reply. What had been said,
however, made its impression on her mind. She felt that to be
engaged early was a matter greatly to be desired.
"My mother was married at sixteen, and here am I fifteen, and
without a lover." So thought Anna, as she paused over the page of a
new novel, some hours after she had listened to the conversation
that passed between her mother and Mrs. Clayton, and mused of love
From that time, Anna Wyman was another girl. The sweet simplicity of
manner, the unconscious innocence peculiar to her age, gradually
vanished. Her eye, that was so clear and soft with the light of
girlhood's pleasant fancies, grew earnest and restless, and, at
times, intensely bright. The whole expression of her countenance was
new. It was no longer a placid sky, with scarce a cloud floating in
its quiet depths, but changeful as April, with its tears and smiles
blending in strange beauty. Her heart, that had long beat
tranquilly, would now bound at a thought, and send the bright
crimson to her cheek--would flutter at the sight of the very
individual whom she, a short time before, would meet without a
single wave ruffling the surface of her feelings. The woman had
suddenly displaced the girl; a sisterly regard, that pure affection
which an innocent maiden's heart has for all around her had expired
on the altar where was kindling up the deep passion called _love_.
And yet Anna Wyman had not reached her sixteenth year.
All at once, she became restless, capricious, unhappy. She had been
at school up to this period, but now insisted that she was too old
for that; her mother seconded this view of the matter, and her
father, a man of pretty good sense, had to yield.
"We must give Anna a party now," said Mrs. Wyman, after their
daughter had left school.
"Why so?" asked the father.
"Oh--because it is time that she was beginning to come out."
"Come out, how?"
"You are stupid, man. Come out in the list of young ladies. Go into
"But she is a mere child, yet--not sixteen."
"Not sixteen! And how old was _I_, pray, when you married me?"
The husband did not reply.
"How old was I, Mr. Wyman?"
"About sixteen, I believe."
"Well; and was I a mere child?"
"You were rather young to marry, at least," Mr. Wyman ventured to
say. This remark was made rather too feelingly.
"Too young to marry!" ejaculated the wife, in a tone of surprise and
indignation--"too young to marry; and my husband to say so, too! Mr.
Wyman, do you mean to intimate--do you mean to say?--Mr. Wyman, what
do you mean by that remark?"
"Oh, nothing at all," soothingly replied the husband; "only that
"That I don't, as a general thing, approve of very early marriages.
The character of a young lady is not formed before twenty-one or
two; nor has she gained that experience and knowledge of the world
that will enable her to choose with wisdom."
"You don't pretend to say that my character was not formed at
sixteen?" This was accompanied by a threatening look.
Whatever his thoughts were, Mr. Wyman took good care not to express
them. He merely said--
"I believe, Margaret, that I haven't volunteered any allusion to
"Yes, but you don't approve of early marriages."
"Well, didn't I marry at sixteen? And isn't your opinion a
reflection upon your wife?"
"Circumstances alter cases," smilingly returned Mr. Wyman. "Few
women at sixteen were like you. Very certainly your daughter is
"There I differ with you, Mr. Wyman. I believe our Anna would make
as good a wife now as I did at sixteen. She is as much of a woman in
appearance; her mind is more matured, and her education advanced far
beyond what mine was. She deserves a good husband, and must have one
before the lapse of another year."
"How can you talk so, Margaret? For my part, I do not wish to see
her married for at least five years."
"Preposterous! I wouldn't give a cent for a marriage that takes
place after seventeen or eighteen. They are always indifferent
affairs, and rarely ever turn out well. The earlier the better,
depend upon it. First love and first lover, is my motto."
"Well, Margaret, I suppose you will have these matters your own way;
but I don't agree with you for all."
"Anna must have a party."
"You can do as you like."
"But you must assent to it."
"How can I do that, if I don't approve?"
"But you must approve."
And Mrs. Wyman persevered until she made him approve--at least do so
apparently. And so a party was given to Anna, at which she was
introduced to several dashing young men, whose attentions almost
turned her young head. In two weeks she had a confidante, a young
lady named Clara Spenser, not much older than herself. The progress
already made by Anna in love matters will appear in the following
conversation held in secret with Clara.
"Did you say Mr. Carpenter had been to see you since the party?"
"Yes, indeed," was the animated reply.
"He's a love of a man!--the very one of all others that I would set
my cap for, if there was any hope. But you will, no doubt, carry him
Anna coloured to the temples, half with confusion and half with
"He used to pay attention to Jane Sherman, I'm told."
"Yes; but you've cut her out entirely. Didn't you notice how unhappy
she seemed at the party whenever he was with you?"
"No; was she?"
"Oh, yes; everybody noticed it. But you can carry off all of her
beaux; she's a mere drab of a girl. And, besides, she's getting on
the old maids' list; I'm told she's more than twenty."
"Oh, dear; there's no fear of her then. If I were to go over sixteen
before I married, I should be frightened to death."
"Suppose Carpenter offers himself?"
"I hope he won't just yet."
"I want two or three strings to my bow. It would be dangerous to
reject one unless I had another in my eye."
"Reject? Nonsense! Why should you reject an offer?"
"My mother had three offers before she was sixteen, and rejected two
"Was she married so early?"
"Oh, yes; she was a wife at sixteen, and I'm not going to be a day
later, if possible. I'd like to decline _three_ offers and get
married into the bargain before a year passes. Wouldn't that be
admirable? It would be something to boast of all my life."
Pretty well advanced!--the reader no doubt exclaims; and so our
young lady certainly was. When a very young girl gets into love
matters, she "does them up," as the saying is, quite fast; she
doesn't mince matters at all. A maiden of twenty is cooler, more
thoughtful, and more cautious. She thinks a good deal, and is very
careful how she lets any one--even her confidante, if she should
happen to have one, (which is doubtful)--know much beyond her mere
external thoughts. Four or five years make a good deal of difference
in these things. But this need hardly have been said.
"You are going to Mrs. Ashton's on Wednesday evening, of course?"
said Clara Spenser to Anna, on visiting her one morning, some weeks
after the introduction to Carpenter had taken place.
"Oh, certainly; their soirees, I'm told, are elegant affairs."
"Indeed they are; I've been to two of them. Fine music, pleasant
company, and so much freedom of intercourse--oh, they are
"Did you ever see Mr. Carpenter there?"
"Oh, yes; he always attends."
"I shall enjoy myself highly."
"That you will--the young men are so attentive."
Wednesday night soon came round, and Anna was permitted to go,
unattended by either of her parents, to the so-called soiree at Mrs.
Ashton's. As she had hoped and believed, Carpenter was there. His
attentions to her were constant and flattering; he poured many
compliments into her ears, talking to her all the time in a low,
musical tone. Anna's heart fluttered in her bosom with pleasure; she
felt that she had made a conquest. But the fact of bringing so
charming a young man to her feet, and that so speedily, quickened
her pride, and made it seem the easiest thing in the world to be
able to reject three lovers and yet be engaged, or even married, at
Besides Carpenter, there was another present who saw attractions
about Anna Wyman. He wore a moustache, and made quite a dashing
appearance. In the language of many young ladies, who admired him,
he was an elegant-looking young man--just the one to be proud of as
a beau. His name was Elliott.
As soon as he could get access to the ear of the young and
inexperienced girl, he charmed it with a deeper charm than Carpenter
had been able to impart. She felt almost like one within a magic
circle. His eye fascinated her, and his voice murmured in her ear
like low, sweet music.
A short time before parting from her, he said--
"Miss Wyman, may I have the pleasure of calling upon you at your
"Oh, yes, sir; I shall be most happy to see you." She spoke with
"Then I shall visit you frequently. In your society I promise myself
Anna's eyes fell to the floor, and the colour deepened on her
cheeks. When she looked up, Elliott was gazing steadily in her face,
with an expression of admiration and love.
Her heart was lost. Carpenter, that love of a man, was not thought
of--or, only as one of her rejected lovers.
When Anna laid her head upon her pillow that night, it was not to
sleep. Her mind was too full of pleasant images, central to all of
which was the elegant, accomplished, handsome Mr. Elliott. He had,
she conceived, as good as offered himself, and she, much as she
wished to reject three lovers before she accepted one, felt strongly
inclined to accept him, and so end the matter.
Now, who was Mr. Thomas Elliott? A few words will portray him. Mr.
Elliott was twenty-six; he kept a store in the city; had been in
business for some years, but was not very successful. His habits of
life were not good; his principles had no sound, moral basis. He
was, in fact, just the man to make a silly child like Anna Wyman
wretched for life. But why did he seek for one like her? That is
easily explained. Mr. Wyman was reputed to be pretty well off in the
world, and Mr. Elliott's affairs were in rather a precarious
condition; but he managed to keep so good a face upon the matter,
that none suspected his real condition.
After visiting Anna for a short time, he offered his hand. If it had
not been that her sixteenth birthday was so near, Anna would have
declined the offer, for Thomas Elliott did not grow dearer to her
every day. There were young men whom she liked much better; and if
they had only come forward and presented their claims to favour, she
would have declined the offer. But time was rapidly passing away.
Anna was ambitious of being engaged before she was sixteen, and
married, if possible. Her mother had rejected two offers, and she
was anxious to do as much. Here was a chance for one rejection--but
was she sure of another offer in time? No! There was the difficulty.
For some days she debated the question, and then laid it before her
mother. Mrs. Wyman consulted her husband, who did not much like
Elliott; but the mother felt the necessity of an early marriage, and
overruled all objections. Her advice to Anna was to accept the
offer, and it was accepted, accordingly.
A fond, wayward child of sixteen may chance to marry and do well,
spite of all the drawbacks she will meet; but this is only in case
she happen to marry a man of good sense, warm affections, and great
kindness, who can bear with her as a father bears with a capricious
child; can forgive much and love much. But give the happiness of
such a creature into the keeping of a cold, narrow-minded, selfish,
petulant man, and her cup will soon run over. Bitter, indeed, will
be her lot in life.
Just such a man was Thomas Elliott. He had sought only his own
pleasures, and had owned no law but his own will. For more than ten
years he had been living without other external restraints than
those social laws that all must observe who desire to keep a fair
reputation. He came in when he pleased and went out when he pleased.
He required service from all, and gave it to none--that is, so far
as he needed service, he exacted it from those under him, but was
not in the habit of making personal sacrifices for the sake of
others. Thus, his natural selfishness was confirmed. When he
married, it was with an end to the good he should derive from the
union--not from a generous desire to make another happy in himself.
Anna was young, vivacious, and more than ordinarily intelligent and
pretty. There was much about her that was attractive, and Elliott
really imagined that he loved her; but it was himself that he loved
in her fascinating qualities. These were all to minister to his
pleasure. He never once thought of devoting himself to her
On the night of the wedding, which took place soon after Anna's
sixteenth birthday, the bride was in that bewildered state of mind
which destroys all the rational perceptions of the mind. Her whole
soul was in a pleasing tumult, and yet she did not feel happy; and
why? Spite of the solemn promise she had made to love and honour her
husband above all men, she felt that there were others whom she
could have loved and honoured more than him, were they in his place.
But this, reason told her, was folly. They had not presented
themselves, and he had. They could be nothing to her--he must be
every thing. To secure a husband early was the great point, and that
had been gained. This thought, whenever it crossed her mind, would
cause her to look around upon her maiden companions with proud
self-complacency, They were still upon the shores of expectancy. She
had launched her boat upon the sunny sea of matrimony, and was
already moving steadily away under a pleasant breeze.
Alas! young bride, thy hymeneal altar is an altar of sacrifice. Love
is not the deity who is presiding there. Little do they dream who
have led thee, poor lamb! garlanded with flowers, to that altar, how
innocent, how true, how good a heart they were offering up upon its
strange fires. But they will know in time, and thou wilt know when
it is too late.
Two years from the period of their marriage, Elliott and his wife
were seated in a small room moderately well furnished. He was
leaning back in a chair, with arms folded, and his chin resting on
his bosom. His face was contracted into a gloomy scowl. Anna, who
looked pale and troubled, was sewing and touching with her foot a
cradle, in which was a babe. The little one seemed restless. Every
now and then it would start and moan, or cry out. After a time it
awoke and commenced screaming. The mother lifted it from the cradle
and tried to hush it upon her bosom, but the babe still cried on. It
was evidently in pain.
"Confound you! why don't you keep that child quiet?" exclaimed the
husband, impatiently casting at the same time an angry look upon his
Anna made no reply, but turned half away from him, evidently to
conceal the tears that suddenly started from her eyes, and strove
more earnestly to quiet the child. In this she soon succeeded.
"I believe you let her cry on purpose, whenever I am in the house,
just to annoy me," her husband resumed in an ill-natured tone.
"No, Thomas, you know that I do not," Anna said.
"Say I lie, why don't you?"
"Oh, Thomas, how can you speak so to me?" And his young wife turned
toward him an earnest, tearful look.
"Pah! don't try to melt me with your crying. I never believed in it.
Women can cry at any moment."
There was a convulsive motion of Mrs. Elliott's head as she turned
quickly away, and a choking sound in her throat. She remained
silent, ten minutes passed, when her husband said in a firm voice,
"Anna, I'm going to break up."
Mrs. Elliott glanced around with a startled air.
"It's true, just what I say--your father may think that I'm going to
make a slave of myself to support you, but he's mistaken. He's
refused to help me in my business one single copper, though he's
able enough. And now I've taken my resolution. You can go back to
him as quick as you like."
Before the brutal husband had half finished the sentence, his wife
was on her feet, with a cheek deadly pale, and eyes almost starting
from her head. Thomas Elliott was her husband and the father of her
babe, and as such she had loved him with a far deeper love than he
had deserved. This had caused her to bear with coldness and neglect,
and even positive unkindness without a complaint. Sacredly had she
kept from her mother even a hint of the truth. Thus had she gone on
almost from the first; for only a few months elapsed before she
discovered that her image was dim on her husband's heart.
"You needn't stand there staring at me like one moon-struck"--he
said, with bitter sarcasm and a curl of the lip. "What I say is the
truth. I'm going to give up, and you've got to go home to them that
are more able to support you than I am; and who have a better right,
too, I'm thinking."
There was something so heartless and chilling in the words and
manner of her husband, that Mrs. Elliott made no attempt to reply.
Covering her face with her hands, she sunk back into the chair from
which she had risen, more deeply miserable than she had ever been in
her life. From this state she was aroused by the imperative
"Anna, what do you intend doing?"
"That is for you to say"--was her murmured reply.
"Then, I say, go home to your father, and at once."
Without a word the wife rose from her chair, with her infant in her
arms, and pausing only long enough to put on her shawl and bonnet,
left the house.
Mr. and Mrs. Wyman were sitting alone late on the afternoon of the
same day, thinking about and conversing of their child. Neither of
them felt too well satisfied with the result of her marriage. It
required not even the close observation of a parent's eye, to
discover that she was far from happy.
"I wish she were only single"--Mr. Wyman at length said. "She
married much too young--only eighteen now, and with a cold-hearted
and, I fear, unprincipled and neglectful husband. It is sad to think
"But I was married as young as she was, Mr. Wyman?"
"Yes; but I flatter myself you made a better choice. Your condition
at eighteen was very different from what hers is now. As I said
before, I only wish she were single, and then I wouldn't care to see
her married for two or three years to come."
"I can't help wishing she had refused Mr. Elliott. If she had done
so, she might have been married to a much better man long before
this. Mr. Carpenter is worth a dozen of him. Oh dear! this marriage
is all a lottery, after all. Few prizes and many blanks. Poor Anna!
she is not happy."
At this moment the door opened, and the child of whom they were
speaking, with her infant in her arms, came hurriedly in. Her face
was deadly pale, her lips tightly compressed, and her eyes widely
distended and fixed.
"Anna!" exclaimed the mother, starting up quickly and springing
"My child, what ails you?" was eagerly asked by the father, as he,
too, rose up hastily.
But there was no reply. The heart of the child was too full. She
could not utter the truth. She had been sent back to her parents by
her husband, but her tongue could not declare that! Pride, shame,
wounded affections, combined to hold back her words. Her only reply
was to lay her babe in her mother's arms, and then fling herself
upon the bosom of her father.
All was mystery then, but time soon unveiled the cause of their
daughter's strange and sudden appearance, and her deep anguish. The
truth gradually came out that she had been deserted by her husband;
or, what seemed to Mrs. Wyman more disgraceful still, had been sent
home by him. Bitterly did she execrate him, but it availed nothing.
Her ardent wish had been gratified. Anna was engaged at sixteen, and
married soon after; but at eighteen, alas! she had come home a
deserted wife and mother! And so she remained. Her husband never
afterward came near her. And now, at thirty, with a daughter well
grown, she remains in her father's house, a quiet, thoughtful,
dreamy woman, who sees little in life that is attractive, and who
rarely stirs beyond the threshold of the house that shelters her.
There are those who will recognise this picture.
So much for being engaged at sixteen!
IT often happens that a daughter possesses greatly superior
advantages to those enjoyed, in early years, by either her father or
mother. She is not compelled to labour as hard as they were obliged
to labour when young; and she is blessed with the means of education
far beyond what they had. Her associations, too, are of a different
order, all tending to elevate her views of life, to refine her
tastes, and to give her admission into a higher grade of society
than they were fitted to move in.
Unless very watchful of herself and very thoughtful of her parents,
a daughter so situated will be led at times to draw comparisons
between her own cultivated intellect and taste and the want of such
cultivation in her parents, and to think indifferently of them, as
really inferior, because not so well educated and accomplished as
she is. A distrust of their judgment and a disrespect of their
opinions will follow, as a natural consequence, if these thoughts
and feelings be indulged. This result often takes place with
thoughtless, weak-minded girls; and is followed by what is worse, a
disregard to their feelings, wishes, and express commands.
A sensible daughter, who loves her parents, will hardly forget to
whom she is indebted for all the superior advantages she enjoys. She
will also readily perceive that the experience which her parents
have acquired, and their natural strength of mind, give them a real
and great superiority over her, and make their judgment, in all
matters of life, far more to be depended upon than hers could
possibly be. It may be that her mother has never learned to play
upon the piano, has never been to a dancing-school, has never had
any thing beyond the merest rudiments of an education; but she has
good sense, prudence, industry, economy; understands and practises
all the virtues of domestic life; has a clear, discriminating
judgment; has been her husband's faithful friend and adviser for
some twenty or thirty years; and has safely guarded and guided her
children up to mature years. These evidences of a mother's title to
her respect and fullest confidence cannot long be absent from a
daughter's mind, and will prevent her acting in direct opposition to
Back to Full Books