The Lights and Shadows of Real Life
Part 4 out of 11
"Yes; I have some just fit for that, and not much else, which I will
sell at a dollar."
"Very well. Give me a gallon," said Mr. Smith. The demijohn was
brought in from the wagon and filled. And then Mr. Smith drove off
to attend to other business. Among the things to be done on that
day, was to see a man who lived half a mile from Lancaster. Before
going out on this errand, Mr. Smith stopped at the house of his
particular friend, Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones happened not to be in, but
Mrs. Jones was a pleasant woman, and he chatted with her for ten
minutes, or so. As he stepped into his wagon, it struck him that the
gallon demijohn was a little in his way, and so, lifting it out, he
said to Mrs. Jones,
"I wish you would take care of this until I come back."
"O! certainly," replied Mrs. Jones, "with the greatest pleasure."
And so the demijohn was left in the lady's care.
Some time afterwards Mr. Jones came in, and among the first things
that attracted his attention, was the strange demijohn.
"What is this?" was his natural inquiry.
"Something that Mr. Smith left."
"Mr. Smith from Q--?"
"I wonder what he has here?" said Mr. Jones, taking hold of the
demijohn. "It feels heavy."
The cork was unhesitatingly removed, and the mouth of the vessel
brought in contact with the smelling organ of Mr. Jones.
"Wine, as I live!" fell from his lips. "Bring me a glass."
"O! no, Mr. Jones. I wouldn't touch his wine," said Mrs. Jones.
"Bring me a glass. Do you think I'm going to let a gallon of wine
pass my way without exacting toll? No--no! Bring me a glass."
The glass, a half-pint tumbler, was produced, and nearly filled with
the execrable stuff--as guiltless of grape juice as a dyer's
vat--which was poured down the throat of Mr. Jones.
"Pretty fair wine, that; only a little rough," said Mr. Jones,
smacking his lips.
"It's a shame!" remarked Mrs. Jones, warmly, "for you to do so."
"I only took toll," said the husband, laughing. "No harm in that,
"Rather heavy toll, it strikes me," replied Mrs. Jones.
Meantime, Mr. Smith, having completed most of his business for that
day, stopped at a store where he wished two or three articles put
up. While these were in preparation he said to the keeper of the
"I wish you would let your lad Tom step over for me to Mr. Jones's.
I left a demijohn of common wine there, which I bought for the
purpose of making it into antimonial wine.
"O! certainly," replied the store-keeper. "Here, Tom!" and he called
for his boy.
Tom came, and the store-keeper said to him,
"Run over to Mr. Jones's and get a jug of antimonial wine which Mr.
Smith left there. Go quickly, for Mr. Smith is in a hurry."
"Yes, sir," replied the lad, and away he ran.
After Mr. Jones had disposed of his half a pint of wine, he thought
his stomach had rather a curious sensation, which is not much to be
wondered at, considering the stuff with which he had burdened it.
"I wonder if that really is wine?" said he, turning from the window
at which he had seated himself, and taking up tie demijohn again.
The cork was removed, and his nose applied to the mouth of the huge
"Yes, it's wine; but I'll vow it's not much to brag of." And the
cork was once more replaced.
Just then came a knock at the door. Mrs. Jones opened it, and the
store-keeper's lad appeared.
"Mr. Smith says, please let me have the jug of antimonial wine he
"Antimonial wine!" exclaimed Mr. Jones, his chin falling, and a
paleness instantly overspread his face.
"Yes, sir," said the lad.
"Antimonial wine!" fell again, but huskily, from the quivering lips
of Mr. Jones. "Send for the doctor, Kitty, quick! Oh! How sick I
feel! Send for the doctor, or I'll be a dead man in half an hour!"
"Antimonial wine! Dreadful!" exclaimed Mrs. Jones, now as pale and
frightened as her husband. "Do you feel sick?"
"O! yes. As sick as death!" And the appearance of Mr. Jones by no
means belied his words. "Send for the doctor instantly, or it may be
Mrs. Jones ran first in one direction and then in another, and
finally, after telling the boy to run for the doctor, called Jane,
her single domestic, and started her on the same errand.
Off sprung Jane at a speed outstripping that of John Gilpin.
Fortunately, the doctor was in his office, and he came with all the
rapidity a proper regard to the dignity of his profession would
permit, armed with a stomach pump and a dozen antidotes. On arriving
at the house of Mr. Jones he found the sufferer lying upon a bed,
ghastly pale, and retching terribly.
"O! doctor! I'm afraid it's all over with me!" gasped the patient.
"How did it happen? what have you taken?" inquired the doctor,
"I took, by mistake, nearly a pint of antimonial wine."
"Then it must be removed instantly," said the doctor; and down the
sick man's throat went one end of a long, flexible, India rubber
tube, and pump! pump! pump! went the doctor's hand at the other end.
The result was very palpable. About a pint of reddish fluid,
strongly smelling of wine, came up, after which the instrument was
"There," said the doctor, "I guess that will do. Now let me give you
an antidote." And a nauseous dose of something or other was mixed up
and poured down, to take the place of what had just been removed.
"Do you feel any better now?" inquired the doctor, as he sat holding
the pulse of the sick man, and scanning, with a professional eye,
his pale face, that was covered with a clammy perspiration.
"A little," was the faint reply. "Do you think all danger is past?"
"Yes, I think so. The antidote I have given you will neutralize the
effect of the drug, as far as it has passed into the system."
"I feel as weak as a rag," said the patient. "I am sure I could not
bear my own weight. What a powerful effect it had!"
"Don't think of it," returned the doctor. "Compose yourself. There
is now no danger to be apprehended whatever."
The wild flight of Jane through the street, and the hurried
movements of the doctor, did not fail to attract attention. Inquiry
followed, and it soon became noised about that Mr. Jones had taken
Mr. Smith was just stepping into his wagon, when a man came up and
said to him,
"Have you heard the news?"
"Mr. Jones has taken poison!"
"Who! Mr. Jones?"
"Yes. And they say he cannot live."
"Dreadful! I must see him." And without waiting for further
information, Mr. Smith spoke to his horse and rode off at a gallop
for the residence of his friend. Mrs. Jones met him at the door,
looking very anxious.
"How is he?" inquired Mr. Smith, in a serious voice.
"A little better, I thank you. The doctor has taken it all out of
his stomach. Will you walk up?"
Mr. Smith ascended to the chamber where lay Mr. Jones, looking as
white as a sheet. The doctor was still by his side.
"Ah! my friend," said the sick man, in a feeble voice, as Mr. Smith
took his hand, "that antimonial wine of yours has nearly been the
death of me."
"What antimonial wine?" inquired Mr. Smith, not understanding his
"The wine you left here in the gallon demijohn."
"That wasn't antimonial wine!"
"It was not?" fell from the lips of both Mr. and Mrs. Jones.
"Why, no! It was only wine that I had bought for the purpose of
making antimonial wine."
Mr. Jones rose up in bed.
"Not antimonial wine?"
"Why the boy said it was."
"Then he didn't know any thing about it. It was nothing but some
common wine which I had bought."
Mr. Jones took a long breath. The doctor arose from the bedside, and
Mr. Jones exclaimed,
"Well, I never!"
Then came a grave silence, in which one looked at the other,
"Good-day;" said the doctor, and went down stairs.
"So you have been drinking my wine, it seems," laughed Mr. Smith, as
soon as the man with the stomach pump had retired.
"I only took a little toll," said Mr. Jones, back into whose pale
face the color was beginning to come, and through whose almost
paralyzed nerves was again flowing from the brain a healthy
influence. "But don't say any thing about it! Don't for the world!"
"I won't, on one condition," said Mr. Smith, whose words were
scarcely coherent, so strongly was he convulsed with laughter.
"What is that?"
"You must become a teetotaller."
"Can't do that," replied Mr. Jones.
"Give me a day or two to make up my mind."
"Very well. And now, good bye; the sun is nearly down, and it will
be night before I get home."
And Mr. Smith shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. Jones and hurriedly
retired, trying, but in vain, to leave the house in a grave and
dignified manner. Long before Mr. Jones had made up his mind to join
the teetotallers, the story of his taking toll was all over the
town, and for the next two or three months he had his own time of
it. After that, it became an old story.
"THOU ART THE MAN!"
"HOW can you reconcile it to your conscience to continue in your
present business, Mr. Muddler?" asked a venerable clergyman of a
tavern-keeper, as the two walked home from the funeral of a young
man who had died suddenly.
"I find no difficulty on that score," replied the tavern-keeper, in
a confident tone: "My business is as necessary to the public as that
of any other man."
"That branch of it, which regards the comfort and accommodation of
travellers, I will grant to be necessary. But there is another
portion of it which, you must pardon me for saying, is not only
uncalled for by the real wants of the community, but highly
detrimental to health and good morals."
"And pray, Mr. Mildman, to what portion of my business do you
"I allude to that part of it which embraces the sale of intoxicating
"Indeed! the very best part of my business. But, certainly, you do
not pretend to say that I am to be held accountable for the
unavoidable excesses which sometimes grow out of the use of liquors
as a beverage?"
"I certainly must say, that, in my opinions a very large share of
the responsibility rests upon your shoulders. You not only make it a
business to sell liquors, but you use every device in your power to
induce men to come and drink them. You invent new compounds with new
and attractive names, in order to induce the indifferent or the
lovers of variety, to frequent your bar-room. In this way, you too
often draw the weak into an excess of self-indulgence, that ends,
alas! in drunkenness and final ruin of body and soul. You are not
only responsible for all this, Mr. Muddler, but you bear the weight
of a fearful responsibility!"
"I cannot see the subject in that light, Mr. Mildman," the
tavern-keeper said, rather gravely. "Mine is an honest and
honourable calling, and it is my duty to my family and to society,
to follow it with diligence and a spirit of enterprise."
"May I ask you a plain question, Mr. Muddler?"
"Oh yes, certainly! as many as you please."
"Can that calling be an honest and honourable one which takes
sustenance from the community, and gives back nothing in return?"
"I do not know that I understand the nature of your question, Mr.
"Consider then society as a man in a larger form, as it really is.
In this great body, as in the lesser body of man, there are various
functions of use and a reciprocity between the whole. Each function
receives a portion of life from the others, and gives back its own
proper share for the good of the whole. The hand does not act for
itself alone--receiving strength and selfishly appropriating it
without returning its quota of good to the general system. And so of
the heart, and lungs, and every other organ in the whole body.
Reverse the order--and how soon is the entire system diseased! Now,
does that member of the great body of the people act honestly and
honourably, who regularly receives his portion of good from the
general social system, and gives nothing back in return?"
To this the landlord made no reply, and Mr. Mildman continued--
"But there is still a stronger view to be taken. Suppose a member of
the human body is diseased--a limb, for instance, in a partial state
of mortification. Here there is a reception of life from the whole
system into that limb, and a constant giving back of disease that
gradually pervades the entire body; and, unless that body possesses
extraordinary vital energy, in the end destroys it. In like manner,
if in the larger body there be one member who takes his share of
life from the whole, and gives back nothing but a poisonous
principle, whose effect is disease and death, surely he cannot be
called a good member--nor honest, nor honourable."
"And pray, Mr. Mildman," asked the tavern-keeper, with warmth,
"where will you find, in society, such an individual as you
The minister paused at this question, and looked his companion
steadily in the face. Then raising his long, thin finger to give
force to his remark, he said with deep emphasis--
_"Thou art the man!"_
"Me, Mr. Mildman! me!" exclaimed the tavern-keeper, in surprise and
displeasure. "You surely cannot be in earnest."
"I utter but a solemn truth, Mr. Muddler: such is your position in
society! You receive food, and clothing, and comforts and luxuries
of various kinds for yourself and family from the social body, and
what do you give back for all these? A poison to steal away the
health and happiness of that social body. You are far worse than a
perfectly dead member--you exist upon the great body as a moral
gangrene. Reflect calmly upon this subject. Go home, and in the
silence of your own chamber, enter into unimpassioned and solemn
communion with your heart. Be honest with yourself. Exclude the bias
of selfish feelings and selfish interests, and honestly define to
yourself your true position.'
"But, Mr. Mildman--"
The two men had paused nearly in front of Mr. Muddler's splendid
establishment, and were standing there when the tavern-keeper
commenced a reply to the minister's last remarks. He had uttered but
the first word or two, when he was interrupted by a pale,
thinly-dressed female, who held a little girl by the hand. She came
up before him and looked him steadily in the face for a moment or
"Mr. Muddler, I believe," she said.
"Yes, madam, that is my name," was his reply.
"I have come, Mr. Muddler," the woman then said, with an effort to
smile and affect a polite air, "to thank you for a present I
received last night."
"Thank me, madam! There certainly must be some mistake. I never made
you a present. Indeed, I have not the pleasure of your
"You said your name was Muddler, I believe?"
"Yes, madam, as I told you before, that is my name."
"Then you are the man. You made my little girl, here a present also,
and we have both come with our thanks."
"You deal in riddles, madam, Speak out plainly."
"As I said before," the woman replied, with bitter irony in her
tones, "I have come with my little girl to thank you for the present
we received last night;--a present of wretchedness and abuse."
"I am still as far from understanding you as ever," the
tavern-keeper said--I never abused you, madam. I do not even know
"But you know my husband, sir! You have enticed him to your bar, and
for his money have given him a poison that has changed him from one
of the best and kindest of men, into a demon. To you, then, I owe
all the wretchedness I have suffered, and the brutal treatment I
shared with my helpless children last night. It is for this that I
have come to thank you."
"Surely, madam, you must be beside yourself. I have nothing to do
with your husband."
"Nothing to do with him!" the woman exclaimed, in an excited tone.
"Would to heaven that it were so! Before you opened your accursed
gin palace, he was a sober man, and the best and kindest of
husbands--but, enticed by you, your advertisement and display of
fancy drinks, he was tempted within the charmed circle of your
bar-room. From that moment began his downfall; and now he is lost to
self-control--lost to feeling--lost to humanity!"
As the woman said this, she burst into tears, and then turned and
walked slowly away.
"To that painful illustration of the truth of what I have said," the
minister remarked, as the two stood once more alone, "I have nothing
to add. May the lesson sink deep into your heart. Between you and
that woman's husband existed a regular business transaction. Did it
result in a mutual benefit? Answer that question to your own
How the tavern-keeper answered it, we know not. But if he received
no benefit from the double lesson, we trust that others may; and in
the hope that the practical truth we have endeavoured briefly to
illustrate, will fall somewhere upon good ground, we cast it forth
for the benefit of our fellow-men.
THE TOUCHING REPROOF.
"HERE, Jane," said a father to his little girl not over eleven years
of age, "go over to the shop and buy me a pint of brandy."
At the same time he handed her a quarter of a dollar. The child took
the money and the bottle, and as she did so, looked her father in
the face with an earnest, sad expression. But he did not seem to
observe it, although he perceived it, and felt it; for he understood
its meaning. The little girl lingered, as if reluctant, from some
reason, to go on her errand.
"Did you hear what I said?" the father asked, angrily, and with a
frowning brow, as he observed this.
Jane glided from the room and went over to the shop, hiding, as she
passed through the street, the bottle under her apron. There she
obtained the liquor, and returned with it in a few minutes. As she
reached the bottle to her father, she looked at him again with the
same sad, earnest look, which he observed. It annoyed and angered
"What do you mean by looking at me in that way? Ha!" he said, in a
loud, angry tone.
Jane shrunk away, and passed into the next room, where her mother
lay sick. She had been sick for some time, and as they were poor,
and her husband given to drink, she had sorrow and privation added
to her bodily sufferings. As her little girl came in, she went up to
the side of her bed, and, bending over it, leaned her head upon her
hand. She did not make any remark, nor did her mother speak to her,
until she observed the tears trickling through her fingers.
"What is the matter, my dear?" she then asked, tenderly.
The little girl raised her head, endeavouring to dry up her tears as
she did so.
"I feel so bad, mother," she replied.
"And why do you feel bad, my child?"
"Oh, I always feel so bad when father sends me over to the shop for
brandy; and I had to go just now. I wanted to ask him to buy you
some nice grapes and oranges with the quarter of a dollar--they
would taste so good to you--but he seemed to know what I was going
to say, and looked at me so cross that I was afraid to speak. I wish
he would not drink any more brandy. It makes him cross; and then how
many nice things he might buy for you with the money it takes for
The poor mother had no words of comfort to offer her little girl,
older in thought than in years; for no comfort did she herself feel
in view of the circumstances that troubled her child. She only
said--aying her hand upon the child's head--
"Try and not think about it, my dear; it only troubles you, and your
trouble cannot make it any better."
But Jane could not help thinking about it, try as hard as she would.
She went to a Sabbath school, in which a Temperance society had been
formed, and every Sabbath she heard the subject of intemperance
discussed, and its dreadful consequences detailed. But more than all
this, she had the daily experience of a drunkard's child. In this
experience, how much of heart-touching misery was involved!--how
much of privation--how much of the anguish of a bruised spirit. Who
can know the weight that lies, like a heavy burden, upon the heart
of a drunkard's child! None but the child--for language is powerless
to convey it.
On the next morning, the father of little Jane went away to his
work, and she was left alone with her mother and her younger sister.
They were very poor, and could not afford to employ any one to do
the house-work, and so, young as she was, while her mother was sick,
Jane had everything to do:--the cooking, and cleaning, and even the
washing and ironing--a hard task, indeed, for her little hands. But
she never murmured--never seemed to think that she was overburdened;
How cheerfully would all have been done, if her father's smiles had
only fallen like sunshine upon her heart! But that face, into which
her eyes looked so often and so anxiously, was ever hid in
clouds--clouds arising from the consciousness that he was abusing
his family while seeking his own base gratification, and from
perceiving the evidences of his evil works stamped on all things
As Jane passed frequently through her mother's room during the
morning, pausing almost every time to ask if she wanted anything;
she saw, too plainly, that she was not as well as on the day
before--that she had a high fever, indicated to her by her hot skin
and constant request for cool water.
"I wish I had an orange," the poor woman said, as Jane came up to
her bed-side, for the twentieth time, "it would taste so good to
She had been thinking about an orange all the morning; and
notwithstanding her effort to drive the thought from her mind, the
form of an orange would ever picture itself before her, and its
grateful flavour ever seem about to thrill upon her taste. At last
she uttered her wish--not so much with the hope of having it
gratified, as from an involuntary impulse to speak out her desire.
There was not a single cent in the house, for the father rarely
trusted his wife with money--he could not confide in her judicious
expenditure of it!
"Let me go and buy you an orange, mother," Jane said; "they have
oranges at the shop."
"I have no change, my dear; and if I had, I should not think it
right to spend four or five cents for an orange, when we have so
little. Get me a cool drink of water; that will do now."
Jane brought the poor sufferer a glass of cool water, and she drank
it off eagerly. Then she lay back upon her pillow with a sigh, and
her little girl went out to attend to the household duties that
devolved upon her. But all the while Jane thought of the orange, and
of how she should get it for her mother.
When her father came home to dinner, he looked crosser than he did
in the morning. He sat down to the table and eat his dinner in moody
silence, and then arose to depart, without so much as asking after
his sick wife, or going into her chamber. As he moved towards the
door, his hat already on his head, Jane went up to him, and looking
timidly in his face, said, with a hesitating voice--
"Mother wants an orange so bad. Won't you give me some money to buy
"No, I will not! Your mother had better be thinking about something
else than wasting money for oranges!" was the angry reply, as the
father passed out, and shut the door hard after him.
Jane stood for a moment, frightened at the angry vehemence of her
father, and then burst into tears. She said nothing to her mother of
what had passed, but after the agitation of her mind had somewhat
subsided, began to cast about in her thoughts for some plan by which
she might obtain an orange. At last it occurred to her, that at the
shop where she got liquor for her father, they bought rags and old
"How much do you give a pound for rags?" she asked, in a minute or
two after the idea had occurred to her, standing at the counter of
"Three cents a pound," was the reply.
"How much for old iron?"
"A cent a pound."
"What's the price of them oranges?"
"Four cents apiece."
With this information, Jane hurried back. After she had cleared away
the dinner-table, she went down into the cellar and looked up all
the old bits of iron that she could find. Then she searched the
yard, and found some eight or ten rusty nails, an old bolt, and a
broken hinge. These she laid away in a little nook in the cellar.
Afterwards she gathered together all the old rags that she could
find about the house, and in the cellar, and laid them with her old
iron. But she saw plainly enough that her iron would not weigh over
two pounds, nor her rags over a quarter of a pound. If time would
have permitted, she would have gone into the street to look for old
iron, but this she could not do; and disappointed at not being able
to get the orange for her mother, she went about her work during the
afternoon with sad and desponding thoughts and feelings.
It was summer time, and her father came home from his work before it
"Go and get me a pint of brandy," he said to Jane, in a tone that
sounded harsh and angry to the child, handing her at the same time a
quarter of a dollar. Since the day before he had taken a pint of
brandy, and none but the best would suit him.
She took the money and the bottle, and went over to the shop.
Wistfully she looked at the tempting oranges in the window, as she
gave the money for the liquor,--and thought how glad her poor mother
would be to have one.
As she was hurrying back, she saw a thick rusty iron ring lying in
the street: she picked it up, and kept on her way. It felt heavy,
and her heart bounded with the thought that now she could buy the
orange for her mother. The piece of old iron was dropped in the
yard, as she passed through. After her father had taken a dram, he
sat down to his supper. While he was eating it, Jane went into the
cellar and brought out into the yard her little treasure of scrap
iron. As she passed backwards and forwards before the door facing
which her father sat, he observed her, and felt a sudden curiosity
to know what she was doing. He went softly to the window, and as he
did so, he saw her gathering the iron, which she had placed in a
little pile, into her apron. Then she rose up quickly, and passed
out of the yard-gate into the street.
The father went back to his supper, but his appetite was gone. There
was that in the act of his child, simple as it was, that moved his
feelings, in spite of himself. All at once he thought of the orange
she had asked for her mother; and he felt a conviction that it was
to buy an orange that Jane was now going to sell the iron she had
evidently been collecting since dinner-time.
"How selfish and wicked I am!" he said to himself, almost
In a few minutes Jane returned, and with her hand under her apron,
passed through the room where he sat into her mother's chamber. An
impulse, almost irresistible, caused him to follow her in a few
"It is so grateful!" he heard his wife say, as he opened the door.
On entering her chamber, he found her sitting up in bed eating the
orange, while little Jane stood by her looking into her face with an
air of subdued, yet heartfelt gratification. All this he saw at a
glance, yet did not seem to see, for he pretended to be searching
for something, which, apparently obtained, he left the room and the
house, with feelings of acute pain and self-upbraidings.
"Come, let us go and see these cold-water men," said a companion,
whom he met a few steps from his own door. "They are carrying all
the world before them."
"Very well, come along."
And the two men bent their steps towards Temperance Hall.
When little Jane's father turned from the door of that place, his
name was signed to the pledge, and his heart fixed to abide by it.
On his way home, he saw some grapes in a window,--he bought some of
them, and a couple of oranges and lemons. When he came home,
he--went into his wife's chamber, and opening the paper that
contained the first fruits of his sincere repentance, laid them
before her, and said, with tenderness, while the moisture dimmed his
"I thought these would taste good to you, Mary, and so I bought
"O, William!" and the poor wife started, and looked up into her
husband's face with an expression of surprise and trembling hope.
"Mary,"--and he took her hand, tenderly--"I have signed the pledge
to-night, and I will keep it, by the help of Heaven!"
The sick wife raised herself up quickly, and bent over towards her
husband, eagerly extending her hands. Then, as he drew his arm
around her, she let her head fall upon his bosom, with an emotion of
delight, such as had not moved over the surface of her stricken
heart for years.
The pledge taken was the total-abstinence pledge, and it has never
been violated by him, and what is better, we are confident never
will. How much of human hope and happiness is involved in that
THE TEMPERANCE SONG.
"DEAR father," said Mary Edwards, "don't go out this evening!" and
the young girl, who had scarcely numbered fourteen years, laid her
hand upon the arm of her parent.
But Mr. Edwards shook her off impatiently, muttering, as he did so,
"Can't I go where I please?"
"O! yes, father!" urged Mary, drawing up to him again,
notwithstanding her repulse. "But there is going to be a storm, and
I wouldn't go out."
"Storm! Nonsense! That's only your pretence. But I'll be home
soon--long before the rain, if it comes at all."
And, saying this, Mr. Edwards turned from his daughter and left the
house. As soon as she was alone, Mary sat down and commenced
weeping. There had been sad changes since she was ten years old. In
that time, her father had fallen into habits of intemperance, and
not only wasted his substance, but abused his family; and, sadder
still, her mother had died broken-hearted, leaving her alone in the
world with a drunken father.
The young girl's trials, under these painful circumstances, were
great. Night after night her father would come home intoxicated, and
it was so rare a thing for her to get a kind word from him, that a
tone of affection from his lips would move her instantly to tears.
Daily the work of declension went on. Drunkenness led to idleness,
and gradually Mr. Edwards and his child sunk lower and lower in the
scale of comfort. The pleasant home where they had lived for years
was. given up, and in small, poorly furnished rooms, in a narrow
street, they hid themselves from observation. After this change, Mr.
Edwards moved along his downward way, more rapidly; earning less and
Mary grew old fast. Under severe trials and afflictions, her mind
rapidly matured; and her affection for her father, grew stronger and
stronger, as she realized more and more fully the dreadful nature
and ultimate tendency of the infatuation by which he was led.
At last, in the anguish of her concern, she ventured upon
remonstrance. This brought only angry repulse, adding bitterness to
her cup of sorrow. The appearance of a storm, on the evening to
which we have alluded, gave Mary an excuse for urging her father not
to go out. How her remonstrance was received has been seen. While
the poor girl sat weeping, the distant rolling of thunder indicated
the approach of the storm to which she had referred. But she cared
little for it now. Her father had gone out. She had spoken of it
only with the hope that he might have been induced to remain with
her. Now that he was away, the agitation within was too great to
leave any concern for the turbulent elements without.
On leaving his home, Mr. Edwards, who had not taken any liquor for
three or four hours, and whose appetite was sharp for the accustomed
stimulus, walked quickly in the direction of a drinking-house where
he usually spent his evenings. On entering, he found that there was
a little commotion in the bar-room. A certain individual, not over
friendly to landlords, had intruded himself; and, his character
being known, the inmates were disposed to have a little sport with
"Come now, old fellow!" said one, just as Edwards came in,--"mount
this table and make us a first rate temperance speech."
"Do; and I'll treat you to the stiffest glass of whisky toddy the
landlord can mix," added another. "Or perhaps you'd like a mint
julep or gin cocktail better? Any thing you please. Make the speech
and call for the liquor. I'll stand the treat."
"What d'ye say, landlord? Shall he make the speech?" said another,
who was eager for sport.
"Please yourselves," replied the landlord, "and you'll please me."
"Very well. Now for the speech, old fellow! Here! mount this table."
And two or three of the most forward took hold of his arms.
"I'm not just in the humor for making a speech," said the temperance
man, "but, if it will please you as well, I'll sing you a song."
"Give us a song then. Any thing to accommodate. But come, let's
"No!" said the other firmly, "I must sing the song first, if I sing
it at all."
"Don't you think your pipes will be clearer for a little drink of
some kind or other."
"Perhaps they would," was replied. "So, provided you have no
objection, I'll take a glass of cold water--if such a thing is known
in this place."
The glass of water was presented, and then the man, who was somewhat
advanced in years, prepared to give the promised song. All stood
listening attentively, Edwards among the rest. The voice of the old
man was low and tremulous, yet every word was uttered distinctly,
and with a pathos which showed that the meaning was felt. The
following well-known temperance song was the one that he sung; and
while his voice filled the bar-room every other sound was hushed.
"Where are the friends that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago--long, long ago?
Where are the hopes that my heart used to cheer,
Long, long ago--long ago!
Friends that I loved in the grave are laid low,
Hopes that I cherished are fled from me now,
I am degraded, for rum was my foe
Long, long ago--long ago!
"Sadly my wife bowed her beautiful head,
Long, long ago--long, long ago.
Oh! how I wept when I knew she was dead!
Long, long ago--long ago.
She was an angel! my love and my guide!
Vainly to save me from ruin she tried;
Poor, broken-hearted! 'twas well that she died
Long, long ago--long ago.
"Let me look back on the days of my youth,
Long, long ago--long, long ago,
I was no stranger to virtue and truth,
Long, long ago--long ago.
Oh! for the hopes that were pure as the day!
Oh! for the joys that were purer than they!
Oh! for the hours that I've squandered away
Long, long ago--long ago."
The silence that pervaded the room when the old man's voice died, or
might rather be said, sobbed away, was as the silence of death. His
own heart was touched, for he wiped his eyes, from which tears had
started. Pausing scarcely a moment, he moved slowly from the room,
and left his audience to their own reflections. There was not one of
them who was not more or less affected; but the deepest impression
had been made on the heart of Edwards. The song seemed as if it had
been made for him. The second verse, particularly, went thrilling to
the very centre of his feelings.
"Sadly my wife bowed her beautiful head!"
How suddenly arose before him the sorrow-stricken form of the wife
of his youth at these words! and when the old man's voice faltered
on the line--
"Poor, broken-hearted! 'twas well that she died!"
the anguish of his spirit was so great, that he only kept himself
from sobbing aloud by a strong effort at self-control. Ere the spell
was broken, or a word uttered by any one, he arose and left the
For many minutes after her father's departure, Mary sat weeping
bitterly. She felt hopeless and deserted. Tenderly did she love her
parent; but this love was only a source of the keenest anguish, for
she saw him swiftly passing along the road to destruction without
the power to save him.
Grief wastes itself by its own violence. So it was in this instance.
The tears of Mary were at length dried; her sobs were hushed, and
she was about rising from her chair, when a blinding flash of
lightning glared into the room, followed instantly by a deafening
jar of thunder.
"Oh, if father were home!" she murmured, clasping her hands
Even while she stood in this attitude, the door opened quietly, and
Mr. Edwards entered.
"I thought you would be afraid, Mary; and so I came home," said he
in a kind voice.
Mary looked at him with surprise. This was soon changed to joy as
she perceived that he was perfectly sober.
"Oh, father!" she sobbed, unable to control her feelings, and
leaning her face against his breast as she spoke--"if you would
never go away!"
Tenderly the father drew his arm around his weeping child, and
kissed her pure forehead.
"Mary," said he, as calmly as he could speak, "for your mother's
sake--" but he could not finish the sentence. His voice quivered,
and became inarticulate.
Solemnly, in the silence of his own heart, did the father, as he
stood thus with his child in his arms, repeat the vows he had
already taken. And he kept his vows.
Wonderful is the power of music! It is the heart's own language, and
speaks to it in a voice of irresistible persuasion. It is a good
gift from heaven, and should ever be used in a good cause.
THE DISTILLER'S DREAM.
FROM the time Mr. Andrew Grim opened a low grogshop near the
Washington Market, until, as a wealthy distiller, he counted himself
worth a hundred thousand dollars, every thing had gone on smoothly;
and now he might be seen among the money-lords of the day, as
self-complacent as any. He had stock, houses, and lands: and, in his
mind, these made up life's greatest good. And had he not obtained
them in honest trade? Were they not the reward of persevering
industry? Mr. Grim felt proud of the fact, that he was the architect
of his own fortunes. "How many had started in life side by side with
him; and yet scarcely one in ten of them had risen above the common
Thoughts like these often occupied the mind of Mr. Grim. Such were
his thoughts as he sat in his luxurious parlor, one bleak December
evening, surrounded by every external comfort his heart could
desire, when a child not over seven or eight years of age was
brought into the room by a servant, who said, as he entered--
"Here's a little girl that says she wants to see you."
Mr. Grim, turned, and looked for a moment or two at the visiter. She
was the child of poor parents; that was evident from her coarse and
"Do you wish to see me?" he inquired, in a voice that was meant to
"Yes, sir," timidly answered the child.
"Well, what do you want?"
"My mother wants you."
"Your mother! Who's your mother?"
The manner of Mr. Grim changed instantly; and he said--
"Indeed! What does your mother want?"
"Father is sick; and mother says he will die."
"What ails your father?"
"I don't know. But he's been sick ever since yesterday; and he
screams out so, and frightens us all."
"Where does your mother live?"
The child gave the street and number.
Mr. Grim walked about the room uneasily for some time.
"Didn't your mother say what she wanted with me?" he asked again,
pausing before the little girl, whose eyes had been following all
"No, sir. But she cried when she told me to go for you."
Mr. Grim moved about the room again for some time. Then stopping
suddenly, he said--
"Go home and tell your mother I'll be there in a little while."
The child retired from the room, and Mr. Grim resumed his
perambulations, his eyes upon the floor, and a shadow resting on his
countenance. After the lapse of nearly half an hour he went into the
hall, and drawing on a warm overcoat, started forth in obedience to
what was evidently an unwelcome summons--for he muttered to himself
as he descended to the pavement--
"I wish people would take care of what they get, and learn to depend
Mr. Grim took an omnibus and rode as far as Canal street. Down Canal
street he walked to West Broadway, and along West Broadway for a
couple of blocks, when he stopped before an old brick house that
looked as if it had seen service for at least a hundred years, and
examined the number.
"This is the place, I suppose," said he, fretfully. And he stepped
back and looked up at the house. Then he approached the door, and
searched for a bell or knocker; but of neither of these appendages
could the dwelling boast. First, he rapped with his knuckles, then
with his cane. But no one responded to the summons. He looked up and
saw lights in the window. So he knocked again, and louder. After
waiting several minutes, and not being admitted, Mr. Grim tried the
door and found it unfastened; but the passage into which he stepped
was dark as midnight. After knocking on the floor loudly with his
cane, a door opened above, a gleam of light fell on an old stairway,
and a rough voice called out,
"Does Mr. Dyer live here?"
"Be sure he does!" was roughly answered.
"Will you be kind enough to show me his room?"
"You'll find it in the third story back," said the voice,
impatiently. The door was shut again, and all was dark as before.
Mr. Grim stood irresolute for a few moments, and then commenced
groping his way up stairs, slowly and cautiously. Just as he gained
the landing on the second flight, a stifled scream was heard in one
of the rooms on the third floor, followed by a sudden movement, as
if two persons were struggling in a murderous conflict. He stopped
and listened, while a chill went over him. A long shuddering groan
followed, and then all was still again. Mr. Grim was about
retreating, when a door opened, and the child who had called for him
came out with a candle in her hand. The light fell upon his form and
the child saw him.
"Oh! mother! mother!" she cried, "Mr. Grim is here!"'
Instantly the form of a woman was seen in the door. Her look was
wild and distressed, and her hair, which had become loosened from
the comb, lay in heavy masses upon her shoulders.
"For heaven's sake, Mary! what is the matter?" exclaimed Mr. Grim,
as he approached the woman.
"The matter!" She looked sternly at the visiter. "Come and see!" And
she pointed into the room.
A cry of unutterable distress broke upon the air, and the woman
sprang back quickly into the room. Mr. Grim hurried after her. By
the feeble light of a single poor candle, he saw a half-clothed man
crouching fearfully in a corner of the room, with his hands raised
in the attitude of defence.
"Keep off! Keep off, I say!" he cried, despairingly. "Oh! oh! oh!
It's on me, Mary! Mary! Oh! Lord, help me! help me!"
And as these broken sentences fell from his lips, he shrunk closer
and closer into the corner, and then fell forward, writhing upon the
floor. By this time, his wife was bending down over him, and with
her assuring voice she soon succeeded in quieting him.
"They've all gone now, Henry," said she, in a tone of cheerful
confidence, assumed at what an effort! "I've driven them away. Come!
lie down upon the bed."
"They're under the bed," replied the sufferer, glancing fearfully
around. "Yes, yes! There! I see that blackest devil with the snake
in his hand. He's grinning at me from behind the bed post. Now he's
going to throw his horrible snake at me! There! oh-oh-oh-oh!"
The fearful, despairing scream that issued from the poor creature's
lips, as he clung to his wife, curdled the very blood in the veins
of Mr. Grim, who now comprehended the meaning of the scene. Dyer and
his wife were friends of other days. With the latter he had grown up
from childhood, and there were many reasons why he felt an interest
in her. Her husband had learned drinking and idleness in his
bar-room, many years before; and more than once during the time of
his declension, had she called upon Mr. Grim, and earnestly besought
him to do something to save the one she loved best on earth from
impending ruin. But, he had entered the downward way, and it seemed
that nothing could stop his rapid progress. Now he met him, after
the lapse of ten years, and found him mad with the drunkard's
The scene was too painful for Mr. Grim. He could not bear it. So,
hurriedly drawing his purse from his pocket, he threw it upon the
floor, and turning from the room made his way out of the house,
trembling in every nerve. When he arrived at home, the perspiration
stood cold and clammy on every part of his body. His mind was
greatly excited. Most vividly did he picture, in imagination, the
horrible fiend, striking the poor drunken wretch with his serpent
spear, or blasting him with his terrific countenance. For an hour he
walked the floor of his chamber, and then, exhausted in body and
mind, threw himself on a bed, and tried to find oblivion in sleep.
But, though he wooed the gentle goddess, she came not with her
soothing poppies. Too vivid was the impression of what he had seen,
and too painful were the accompanying reflections, to admit of sweet
repose. At last, however, exhaustion came, and he fell into that
half sleeping and waking state--in which the imagination remains
active, so painful to endure. In this state, one picture presented
by imagination was most vivid of all; it was the picture of poor
Dyer, shrinking from the fiend with the serpent, which latter was
now as plainly visible to him as it had been to the unhappy
drunkard. Presently the fiend began to turn his eyes upon him with a
malignant expression; then it glanced from him to the drunkard, and
pointing at the latter, said Grim heard the voice distinctly--
"_It is your work!_"
The distiller closed his eyes to hide from view the grinning
phantom. But it did not shut out the vision. The fiend was before
him still; and now it swung around its head a horrid serpent with
distended jaws, and seemed about to dash it upon him. He cowered and
groaned in fear. As he still gazed upon the dreadful form, it slowly
changed into a female of stern yet beautiful aspect. In one hand she
held a naked sword, and in the other a balance. Her knew her, and
trembled still more intensely.
"I am JUSTICE," said the figure. "You have been weighed in the
balance and found wanting. The world is sustained by mutual
benefits. No man can live wholly for himself. Each must serve the
others. What one man produces another enjoys. You have enjoyed, in
abundance, the good things produced by others; but what has been
your return? Let me show you the work of your hands. Look!"
Suddenly there was a murmur of voices; the sound came nearer and
nearer, and a crowd of men and women came eagerly toward the
prostrate distiller--all eyes upon him, and all countenances
expressive of anger, rebuke, or despair. One poor mother held
towards him her ragged, starving child, and cried--
"Your cursed trade has murdered his father. Give him back to us!"
Another marred and degraded wretch called, with clenched hand--
"Where is my money, my good name, my all?" You have robbed me of
By his side was a poor drunkard, supporting the pale form of his
sick wife, while their starving children stood weeping before them--
"Look at us?" said he. "It is _your_ handy-work!"
And there were dozens of others in the squalid crowd who called to
him with bitter execrations, or pointed to their ruined homes and
"It is your work! Your work! Rum--rum has cursed us!"
"Yes, this is your work," said Justice, sternly. "For the good
things of life you received on all hands from your fellow-men, you
gave them back a stream of fire to consume them. Wealth is the
representative of use to society. It comes, or should come, as a
reward for serving the common good. So earned, it is a blessing; and
he who thus gains it has a right to its possession. But, in your
eager pursuit of gain you have cursed every man who brought you a
blessing; and now your ill-gotten wealth must be given up. See!"
And, as she spoke, she pointed to an immense bag of gold.
"It is all there!" continued Justice. "Your houses and lands, your
stocks and your merchandise, have been converted into gold; and I
now distribute it once more among the people, to be gathered by
those more worthy to possess it than thou!"
Then a troop of fiends came rushing down through the air, and,
seizing the bag, were bearing it off in triumph, when the agonized
sleeper sprang towards his gold, and in the effort threw off the
terrible nightmare that was almost crushing out his life.
There was no sleep for him during the hours that intervened until
the daylight broke. The images he had seen, and the words he had
heard, were before him all the time, crushing his heart like the
pressure of heavy footsteps. As soon as the day had dawned he
started forth and sought the dwelling he had so hastily left on the
night before. All was silent as he ascended the stairway. The door
of the room where he had been stood partly open. He listened a
moment--all was silent. He moved the door, but nothing stirred
within. Then he entered. His purse lay upon the floor where he had
thrown it; that was the first object which met his sight. The next
was the ghastly face of death! The wretched drunkard had passed to
his account; and his body lay upon the bed. Close beside was the
form of her who had been to Mr. Grim, in early years, as a tender
sister. She was in a profound sleep; and on the floor lay the child,
also wrapped in deep forgetfulness of the misery with which she was
"And this is the work I have been doing!" sighed the distiller;
whose mind could not lose the vivid impression made by his dream.
A little while he contemplated the scene around him, and then taking
up his purse he silently withdrew. But ere returning home he made
known to a benevolent person the fact of the unhappy death which had
occurred, and, placing money in his hand, asked him to do all that
humanity required, and to do it at his expense.
Few men went about their daily business with a heavier heart than
Mr. Andrew Grim. He felt that he was the possessor of ill-gotten
gain; and felt, besides, a sense of insecurity.
"_Wealth is the representative of use to society. It comes, or
should come, as a reward for serving the common good_," he repeated
to himself, in the words he had heard in his dream. "And how have I
served the common good? What good have I performed that corresponds
to the blessings I have received and enjoy? Ah, me! I wish it were
With such thoughts, how could the man be happy! When night came
round again he feared to trust himself in the arms of sleep; and
when exhausted nature yielded, painful dreams haunted him until
morning. Weeks elapsed before the vivid impression he had received
wore off, and before he enjoyed any thing like a quiet slumber. But,
though he had a better sleep, his waking thoughts ceased to be
peaceful and self-satisfying. A year went by, and then, fretted
beyond endurance at his position of manufacturer of death and
destruction, both natural and spiritual, for his fellow men, he
broke up his distillery, and invested his money in a business that
could be followed with benefit to all.
THE RUINED FAMILY.
"HOW beautiful!" ejaculated Mary Graham, as she fixed her eyes
intently on the western sky, rich with the many-coloured clouds of a
brilliant sunset in June.
"Beautiful indeed!" responded her sister Anna.
"I could gaze on it for ever!" Ellen, a younger and more
enthusiastic sister remarked, with fervent admiration. "Look, Ma!
was ever anything more gorgeous than that pure white cloud, fringed
with brilliant gold, and relieved by the translucent and sparkling
"It is indeed very beautiful, Ellen," Mrs. Graham replied. But there
was an abstraction in her manner, that indicated, too plainly, that
something weighed upon her mind.
"You don't seem to enjoy a rich sunset as much as you used to do,
Ma," Anna said, for she felt the tone and manner in which her mother
had expressed her admiration of the scene.
"You only think so, perhaps," Mrs. Graham rejoined, endeavouring to
arouse herself, and to feel interested in the brilliant exhibition
of nature to which her daughter had alluded. "The scene is, indeed,
very beautiful, Anna, and reminds me strongly of some of
Wordsworth's exquisite descriptions, so full of power to awaken the
heart's deepest and purest emotions. You all remember this:
"'Calm is the evening air, and loth to lose
Day's grateful warmth, though moist with falling dews
Look for the stars, you'll say that there are none;
Look up a second time, and, one by one,
You mark them twinkling out with silvery light,
And wonder how they could elude the sight.'"
"'No sound is uttered,--but a deep
And solemn harmony pervades
The hollow vale from steep to steep,
And penetrates the glades.
Far distant images draw nigh,
Called forth by wondrous potency
Of beamy radiance, that imbues
Whate'er it strikes with gem-like hues!
In vision exquisitely clear,
Herds range along the mountain-side;
And glistening antlers are descried;
And gilded flocks appear.
Thine is the tranquil hour, purpureal Eve!
But long as god-like wish, or hope divine,
Informs my spirit, ne'er can I believe
That this magnificence is wholly thine!
From worlds not quickened by the sun
A portion of the gift is won.'"
"How calm and elevating to the heart, like the hour he describes,"
Ellen said, in a musing tone, as she sat with her eyes fixed
intently on the slow-fading glories of the many-coloured clouds.
The influence of the tranquil hour gradually subdued them into
silence; and as the twilight began to fall, each sat in the
enjoyment of a pure and refined pleasure, consequent upon a true
appreciation of the beautiful in nature, combined with highly
cultivated tastes, and innocent and elevated thoughts.
"There comes Pa, I believe," Anna remarked, breaking the silence, as
the hall door opened and then closed with a heavy jar; and the
well-known sound of her father's footsteps was heard along the
passage and on the stairs.
None of her children observed the hushed intensity with which Mrs.
Graham listened, as their father ascended to the chamber. But they
noticed that she became silent and more thoughtful than at first. In
about ten minutes she arose and left the room.
"Something seems to trouble Ma, of late," Ellen observed, as soon as
their mother had retired.
"So I have thought. She is certainly, to all appearance, less
cheerful, "Mary replied.
"What can be the cause of it?"
"I hardly think there can be any very serious cause. We are none of
us always in the same state of mind."
"But I have noticed a change, in Ma, for some months past--and
particularly in the last few weeks," Anna said. "She is not happy."
"I remember, now, that I overheard her, about six weeks ago, talking
to Alfred about something--the company he kept, I believe--and that
he seemed angry, and spoke to her, I thought, unkindly. Since that
time she has not seemed so cheerful;" Ellen said.
"That may be the cause; but still I hardly think that it is," Anna
replied. "Alfred's principal associates are William Gray and Charles
Williams; and they belong to our first families. Pa, you know, is
very intimate with both Mr. Gray and Mr. Williams."
"It was to William Gray and Charles Williams, I believe, however,
that Ma particularly objected."
"Upon what ground?"
"Upon the ground of their habits, I think, she said."
"Their habits? What of their habits, I wonder?"
"I do not know, I am sure. I only remember having heard Ma object to
them on that account."
"That is strange!" was the remark of Anna. "I am sure that I have
never seen anything out of the way, in either of them; and, as to
William Gray, I have always esteemed him very highly."
"So have I," Mary said. "Both of them are intelligent, agreeable
young men; and such, as it seems to me, are in every way fitted to
be companions for our brother."
But Mrs. Graham had seen more of the world than her daughters, and
knew how to judge from appearances far better than they. Some recent
circumstances, likewise, had quickened her perceptions of danger,
and made them doubly acute. In the two young men alluded to, now
about the ages of eighteen and twenty, she had been pained to
observe strong indications of a growing want of strict moral
restraints, combined with a tendency towards dissipation; and, what
was still more painful, an exhibition of like perversions in her
only son, now on the verge of manhood,--that deeply responsible and
dangerous period, when parental authority and control subside in a
degree, and the individual, inexperienced yet self-confident,
assumes the task of guiding himself.
When Mrs. Graham left the room, she proceeded slowly up to the
chamber into which her husband had gone, where all had been silent
since his entrance. She found him lying upon the bed, and already in
a sound sleep. The moment she bent over him, she perceived the truth
to be that which her trembling and sinking heart so much dreaded. He
Shrinking away from the bed-side, she retired to a far corner of the
room, where she seated herself by a table, and burying her face in
her arms, gave way to the most gloomy, heart-aching thoughts and
feelings. Tears brought her no relief from these; for something of
hopelessness in her sorrow, gave no room for the blessing of tears.
Mr. Graham was a merchant of high standing in Philadelphia, where,
for many years, he had been engaged extensively in the East India
trade. Six beautiful ships floated for years upon the ocean,
returning at regular intervals, freighted with the rich produce of
the East, and filling his coffers, until they overflowed, with
accumulating wealth. But it was not wealth alone that gave to Mr.
Graham the elevated social position that he held. His strong
intelligence, and the high moral tone of his character, gave him an
influence and an estimation far above what he derived from his great
riches. In the education of his children, four in number, he had
been governed by a wise regard to the effect which that education
would have upon them as members of society. He early instilled into
their minds a desire to be useful to others, and taught them the
difference between an estimation of individuals, founded upon their
wealth and position in society, and an estimation derived from
intrinsic excellence of character. The consequence of, all this was,
to make him beloved by his family--purely and tenderly beloved,
because there was added to the natural affection for one in his
position, the power of a deep respect for his character and
At the time of his introduction to the reader, Mr. Graham was
forty-five years old. Alfred, his oldest child, was twenty-one;
Mary, nineteen; Ellen, eighteen; and Anna just entering her
sixteenth year. Up to this time, or nearly to this time, a happier
family circled no hearth in the city. But now an evil wing was
hovering over them, the shadow from which had already been perceived
by the mother's heart, as it fell coldly and darkly upon it, causing
it to shrink and tremble with gloomy apprehensions. From early
manhood up, it had been the custom of Mr. Graham to use wines and
brandies as liberally as he desired, without, the most remote
suspicion once crossing his mind that any danger to him could attend
the indulgence. But to the eye of his wife, whose suspicions had of
late been aroused, and her perceptions rendered, in consequence,
doubly acute, it had become apparent that the habit was gaining a
fatal predominance over him. She noted, with painful emotions, that
as each evening returned, there were to her eye too evident
indications that he had been indulging so freely in the use of
liquors, as to have his mind greatly obscured. His disposition, too,
was changing; and he was becoming less cheerful in his family, and
less interested in the pleasures and pursuits of his children.
Alfred, whom he had, up to this time, regarded with an earnest and
careful solicitude, was now almost entirely left to his own
guidance, at an age, too, when he needed more than ever the
direction of his father's matured experience.
All these exhibitions of a change so unlooked for, and so terrible
for a wife and mother to contemplate, might well depress the spirits
of Mrs. Graham, and fill her with deep and anxious solicitude. For
some weeks previous to the evening on which our story opens, Mr.
Graham had shown strong symptoms almost every day--symptoms
apparent, however, in the family, only to the eye of his wife--of
drunkenness. Towards the close of each day, as the hour for his
return from business drew near her feelings would become oppressed
under the fearful apprehension that when he came home, it would be
in a state of intoxication. This she dreaded on many accounts.
Particularly was she anxious to conceal the father's aberrations
from his children. She could not bear the thought that respect for
one now so deeply honoured by them, should be diminished in their
bosoms. She felt, too, keenly, the reproach that would rest upon his
name, should the vice that was now entangling, obtain full
possession of him, and entirely destroy his manly, rational freedom
of action. Of consequences to herself and children, resulting from
changed external circumstances, she did not dream. Her husband's
wealth was immense; and, therefore, even if he should so far abandon
himself as to have to relinquish business, there would be enough,
and more than enough, to sustain them in any position in society
they might choose to occupy.
On the occasion to which we have already referred, her heart was
throbbing with suspense as the hour drew nigh for his return, when,
sooner than she expected him, Mr. Graham opened the hall-door, and
instead of entering the parlour, as usual, proceeded at once to his
chamber. The quick ear of his wife detected something wrong in the
sound of his footsteps--the cause she knew too well. Oh, how deeply
wretched she felt, though she strove all in her power to seem
unmoved while in the presence of her children! Anxious to know the
worst, she soon retired, as has been seen, from the parlours, and
went up to the chamber above. Alas! how sadly were her worst fears
realized! The loved and honoured partner of many happy years, the
father of her children, lay before her, slumbering, heavily, in the
sleep of intoxication. It seemed, for a time, as if she could not
bear up under the trial. While seated, far from the bed-side,
brooding in sad despondency over the evil that had fallen upon
them--an evil of such a character that it had never been feared--it
seemed to her that she could not endure it. Her thoughts grew
bewildered, and reason for a time seemed trembling. Then her mind
settled into a gloomy calmness that, was even more terrible, for it
had about it something approaching the hopelessness of despair.
Thoughts of her children at last aroused her, as the gathering night
darkened the chamber in which she sat, and she endeavoured to rally
herself, and to assume a calmness that she was far from feeling. A
reason would have to be given for the father's non-appearance at the
tea-table. That could easily be done. Fatigue and a slight
indisposition had caused him to lie down: and as he had fallen
asleep, it was thought best not to awaken him. Such a tale was
readily told, and as readily received. The hardest task was to
school her feelings into submission, and so control the expression
of her face, and the tone of her voice, as to cause none to suspect
that there was anything wrong.
To do this fully, however, was impossible. Her manner was too
evidently changed; and her face wore too dreamy and sad an
expression to deceive her daughters, who inquired, with much
tenderness and solicitude, whether she was not well, or whether
anything troubled her.
"I am only a little indisposed," was her evasive reply to her
children's kind interrogatories.
"Can't I do something for you?" inquired Ellen, with an earnest
affection in her manner.
"No, dear," was her mother's brief response; and then followed a
silence, oppressive to all, which remained unbroken until the tea
things were removed.
"Alfred is again away at tea-time," Mrs. Graham at length said, as
they all arose from the table.
"He went out this afternoon with Charles Williams," Mary replied.
"Did he?" the mother rejoined quickly, and with something of
displeasure in her tone.
"Yes. Charles called for him in his buggy about four o'clock, and
they rode out together. I thought you knew it."
"No. I was lying down about that time."
"You do not seem to like Charles Williams much."
"I certainly do not, Anna, as a companion for Alfred. He is too fond
of pleasure and sporting, and I am very much afraid will lead your
"I never saw anything wrong about him, Ma."
"Perhaps not. But I have learned to be a much closer observer in
these matters than you, Mary. I have seen too many young men at
Alfred's age led away, not to feel a deep and careful solicitude for
As the subject seemed to give their mother pain, her daughters did
not reply; and then another, and still more troubled silence
A chill being thrown thus over the feelings of all, the family
separated at an early hour. But Mrs. Graham did not retire to bed.
She could not, for she was strangely uneasy about her son. It was
about twelve o'clock when Alfred came in. His mother opened her door
as he passed it, to speak to him--but her tongue refused to give
utterance to the words that trembled upon it. He, too, was
Brief were the hours given to sleep that night, and troubled the
slumber that locked her senses in forgetfulness. On the next
morning, the trembling hand of her husband, as he lifted his cup to
his lips, and the unrefreshed and jaded appearance of her son, told
but too plainly their abuse of nature's best energies. With her
husband, Mrs. Graham could not bring herself to speak upon the
subject. But she felt that her duty as a mother was involved in
regard to her son, and therefore she early took occasion to draw him
aside, and remonstrate against the course of folly upon which he was
"You were out late last night, Alfred," she said, in a mild tone.
"I was in at twelve, Ma."
"But that was too late, Alfred."
"I don't know, Ma. Other young men are out as late, and even later,
every night," the young man said, in a respectful tone. "I rode out
with Charles Williams in the afternoon, and then went with him to a
wine party at night."
"I must tell you frankly, Alfred, that I like neither your companion
in the afternoon, nor your company in the evening."
"You certainly do not object to Charles Williams. He stands as high
in society as I do."
"His family is one of respectability and standing. But his habits, I
fear, Alfred, are such as will, ere long, destroy all of his title
to respectful estimation."
"You judge harshly," the young man said, colouring deeply.
"I believe not, Alfred. And what is more, I am convinced that you
stand in imminent danger from your association with him."
"How?" was the quick interrogatory.
"Through him, for instance, you were induced to go to a wine party
"And there induced to drink too much."
"I saw you when you came in, Alfred. You were in a sad condition."
For a few moments the young man looked his mother in the face, while
an expression of grief and mortification passed over his own.
"It is true," he at length said, in a subdued tone, "that I did
drink to excess, last evening. But do not be alarmed on that
account. I will be more guarded, in future. And let me now assure
you, most earnestly, that I am in no danger: that I am not fond of
wine. I was led to drink too much, last evening, from being in a
company where wine was circulated as freely as water. I thought you
looked troubled, this morning, but did not dream that it was on my
account. Let me, then, urge you to banish from your mind all fears
in regard to me."
"I cannot banish such fears, my son, so long as I know that you have
dangerous associates. No one is led off, no one is corrupted
"But I do not think that I have dangerous associates."
"I am sure you have, Alfred. If they had not been such, you would
not have been led astray, last night. Go not into the way of
temptation. Shun the very beginnings of evil. Remember Pope's
"'Vice, to be hated, needs but to be seen,' &c."
"Indeed, indeed, Ma, you are far too serious about this matter."
"No, my son, I cannot be!"
"Well, perhaps not. But, as I know the nature of my associations far
better than you possibly can, you must pardon me for thinking that
they involve no danger. I have arrived to years of discretion, and
certainly think that I am, or at least ought to be, able to judge
for my self."
There was that in the words and tone of the young man, that made the
mother feel conscious that it would be no use for her to urge the
matter further, at that time. She merely replied--
"For your mother's sake, Alfred, guard yourself more carefully, in
It is wonderful, sometimes, how rapidly a downward course is run.
The barrier, against which the waters have been driven for years, is
rapidly washed away, so soon as even the smallest breach is made. A
breach had been made in Mr. Graham's resolution to be only a sober
drinker of intoxicating liquors; and the consequence was, that he
had less power to resist the strong inclination to drink, that had
become almost like a second nature to him. A few weeks only elapsed,
before he came home so drunk as to expose himself in the street, and
before his children and servants, in a most disgusting and degrading
Terrible indeed was the shock to his children--especially to Mary,
Ellen and Anna. His sudden death could not have been a more fearful
affliction. Then, they would have sorrowed in filial respect and
esteem, made sacred by an event that would embalm the memory of
their father in the permanent regard of a whole community: now, he
stood degraded in their eyes; and they felt that he was degraded in
the eyes of all. In his presence they experienced restraint, and
they looked for his coming with a shrinking fear. It was, indeed, an
awful affliction--such as few can realize in imagination; and
especially for them, as they occupied a conspicuous position in
society, and were conscious that all eyes were upon them, and that
all tongues would be busy with the story of their father's
It is wonderful, we have said, how rapidly a downward course is
sometimes run. In the case of Mr. Graham, many circumstances
combined to hasten his ruin. It was nearly a year after he had given
way to the regular indulgence of drink, so far as to be kept almost
constantly in a state of half-intoxication through the business
hours of almost every day, that he received news of the loss of a
vessel richly laden with teas from China. At the proper time he
presented the requisite documents to his underwriters, and claimed
the loss, amounting, on ship and cargo, to one hundred and
twenty-five thousand dollars. On account of alleged improper conduct
on the part of the captain, united with informality in the papers,
the underwriters refused to pay the loss. A suit at law was the
consequence, in which the underwriters were sustained. An appeal was
made, but the same result followed-thus sweeping away, at a single
blow, property to the amount of over one hundred thousand dollars.
During the progress of the trial, Mr. Graham was much excited, and
drank more freely than ever. When the result was finally
ascertained, he sank down into a kind of morose inactivity for some
months, neglecting his large and important business, and indulging,
during the time, more deeply than ever in his favourite potations.
It was in vain that his distressed family endeavoured to rouse him
into activity. All their efforts were met by an irritability and a
moroseness of temper so unlike what he had been used to exhibit
towards them, that they gave up all idea of influencing him in
A second heavy loss, of nearly equal amount, altogether consequent
upon this neglect of business, seemed to awaken up the latent
energies of his character, and he returned to himself with something
of his former clear-sighted energy of character. But his affairs had
already become, to him, strangely entangled. The machinery of his
extensive operations had been interrupted; and now, in attempting to
make the wheels move on again, it was too apparent that much of it
had become deranged, and the parts no longer moved in harmonious
action with the whole. The more these difficulties pressed upon him,
the deeper did he drink, as a kind of relief, and, in consequence,
the more unfit to extricate himself from his troubles did he become.
Every struggle, like the efforts of a large animal in a quagmire,
only tended to involve him deeper and deeper in inextricable
This downward tendency continued for about three years, when his
family was suddenly stunned by the shock of his failure. It seemed
impossible for them to realize the truth--and, indeed, almost
impossible for the whole community to realize it. It was only three
or four years previous that his wealth was estimated, and truly so,
at a million and a half. He was known to have met with heavy losses,
but where so much could have gone, puzzled every one. It seems
almost incredible that any man could have run through such an estate
by mismanagement, in so brief a period. But such was really the
case. Accustomed to heavy operations, he continued to engage in only
the most liberal transactions, every loss in which was a matter of
serious moment. And towards the last, as his mind grew more and more
bewildered in consequence of is drinking deeper and deeper, he
scarcely got up a single voyage, that did not result in loss; until,
finally, he was driven to an utter abandonment of business--but not
until he had involved his whole estate in ruin.
The beautiful family mansion on Chestnut-street had to be given
up--the carriage and elegant furniture sold under the hammer, while
the family retired, overwhelmed with distress, to an humble dwelling
in an obscure part of the city.
Seven years from the day on which Mrs. Graham and her children were
thus thrown suddenly down from their elevation, and driven into
obscurity, that lady sat alone, near the window of a
meanly-furnished room in a house on the suburbs of the city,
overlooking the Schuylkill. It was near the hour of sunset.
Gradually the day declined, and the dusky shadows of evening fell
gloomily around. Still Mrs. Graham sat leaning her head upon her
hand, in deep abstraction of mind. Alas! seven years had wrought a
sad change in her appearance, and a sadder one in her feelings. Her
deeply-sunken eye, and pale, thin face, told a tale of wretchedness
and suffering, whose silent appeal made the very heart ache. Her
garments, too, were old and faded, and antiquated in style.
She sat thus for about half-an-hour, when the door of the room was
opened slowly, and a young woman entered, carrying on her arm a
small basket. She seemed, at first sight, not over twenty-three or
four years of age; but, when observed more closely, her hollow
cheek, pale face, and languid motions, indicated the passage of
either many more years over her head, or the painful inroads of
disease and sorrow. Mrs. Graham looked up, but did not speak, as the
young woman entered, and, after placing her basket on a table, laid
aside her bonnet and faded shawl.
"How did you find Ellen, to-day?" she at length said.
"Bad enough!" was the mournful reply. "It makes my heart ache, Ma,
whenever I go to see her."
"Was her husband at home?"
"Yes, and as drunk and ill-natured as ever."
"How is the babe, Mary?"
"Not well. Dear little innocent creature! it has seen the light of
this dreary world in an evil time. Ellen has scarcely any milk for
it; and I could not get it to feed, try all I could. It nestles in
her breast, and frets and cries almost incessantly, with pain and
hunger. Although it is now six weeks old, yet Ellen seems to have
gained scarcely any strength at all. She has no appetite, and creeps
about with the utmost difficulty. With three little children hanging
about her, and the youngest that helpless babe, her condition is
wretched indeed. It would be bad enough, were her husband kind to
her. But cross, drunken and idle, scarcely furnishing his family
with food enough to sustain existence, her life with him is one of
painful trial and suffering. Indeed, I wonder, with her sensitive
disposition and delicate body, how she can endure such a life for a
A deep sigh, or rather moan, was the mother's only response. Her
"Bad as I myself feel with this constant cough, pain in my side, and
weakness, I must go over again to-morrow and stay with her. She
ought not to be left alone. The dear children, too, require a great
deal of attention that she cannot possibly give to them."
"You had better bring little Ellen home with you, had you not, Mary?
I could attend to her much better than Ellen can."
"I was thinking of that myself, Ma. But you seemed so poorly, that I
did not feel like saying anything about it just now."
"O yes. Bring her home with you to-morrow evening, by all means. It
will take that much off of poor Ellen's hands."
"Then I will do so, Ma; at least if Ellen is willing," Mary said, in
a lighter tone--the idea of even that relief being extended to her
overburdened sister causing her mind to rise in a momentary
"Anna is late to-night," she remarked, after a pause of a few
As she said this, the door opened, and the sister of whom she spoke
"You are late to-night, Anna," her mother said.
"Yes, rather later than usual. I had to take a few small articles
home for a lady, after I left the store, who lives in Sixth near
"In Sixth near Spring Garden!"
"Yes. The lad who takes home goods had gone, and the lady was
particular about having them sent home this evening."
"Do you not feel very tired?"
"Indeed I do," the poor girl said, sinking into a chair. "I feel,
sometimes, as if I must give up. No one in our store is allowed to
sit down from morning till night. The other girls don't appear to
mind it much; but before evening, it seems as if I must drop to the
floor. But I won't complain," she added, endeavouring to rally
herself, and put on a cheerful countenance. "How have you been
"If you won't complain, I am sure that I have no right to, Anna."
"You cannot be happy, of course, Ma; that I know too well. None of
us, I fear, will ever be again happy in this world!" Anna said, in a
tone of despondency, her spirits again sinking.
No one replied to this; and a gloomy silence of many minutes
followed--a quiet almost as oppressive as the stillness that reigns
in the chamber of death. Then Mary commenced busying herself about
the evening meal.
"Tea is ready, Ma and Anna," she at length said, after their frugal
repast had been placed upon the table.
"Has not Alfred returned yet?" Anna asked.
"No," was the brief answer.
"Hadn't we better wait for him?"
"He knows that it is tea-time, and ought to be here, if he wants
any," the mother said. "You are tired and hungry, and we will not,
of course, wait."
The little family, three in number, gathered around the table, but
no one eat with an appetite of the food that was placed before them.
There were two vacant places at the board. The husband and son--the
father and brother--where were they?
In regard to the former, the presentation of a scene which occurred
a few weeks previous will explain all. First, however, a brief
review of the past seven years is necessary. After Mr. Graham's
failure in business, he gave himself up to drink, and sunk, with his
whole family, down into want and obscurity with almost unprecedented
rapidity. He seemed at once to become strangely indifferent to his
wife and children--to lose all regard for their welfare. In fact, he
had become, in a degree, insane from the sudden reverses which had
overtaken him, combined with the bewildering effects of strong
drinks, under whose influence he was constantly labouring.
Thus left to struggle on against the pressure of absolute want,
suddenly and unexpectedly brought upon them, and with no internal or
external resources upon which to fall promptly back, Mrs. Graham and
her daughters were for a time overwhelmed with despair. Alfred, to
whom they should have looked for aid, advice, and sustenance, in
this hour of severe trial, left almost entirely to himself, as far
as his father had been concerned, for some two years, had sunk into
habits of dissipation from which even this terrible shock had not
the power to arouse him. Having made himself angry in his opposition
to, and resistance of, all his mother's admonitions, warnings, and
persuasions, he seemed to have lost all affection for her and his
sisters. So that a sense of their destitute and distressed condition
had no influence over him--at least, not sufficient to arouse him
into active exertions for their support. Thus were they left utterly
dependent upon their own resources--and what was worse, were
burdened with the support of both father and brother.
The little that each had been able to save from the general wreck,
was, as a means of sustenance, but small. Two or three gold watches
and chains, with various articles of (sic) jewelery, fancy
work-boxes, and a number of trifles, more valued than valuable, made
up, besides a remnant of household furniture, the aggregate of their
little wealth. Of course, the mother and daughters were driven, at
once, to some expedient for keeping the family together. A
boarding-house, that first resort of nearly all destitute females,
upon whom families are dependent, especially of those who have
occupied an elevated position in society, was opened, as the only
means of support that presented itself. The result of this
experiment, continued for a year and a half, was a debt of several
hundred dollars, which was liquidated by the seizure of Mrs.
Graham's furniture. But worse than this, a specious young man, one
of the boarders, had won upon the affections of Ellen, and induced
her to marry him. He, too soon, proved himself to have neither a
true affection for her, nor to have sound moral principles. He was,
moreover, idle, and fond of gay company.
On the day that Mrs. Graham broke up her boardinghouse, Markland,
her daughter's husband, was discharged from his situation as clerk,
on account of inefficiency. For six months previous, the time he had
been married, he had paid no boarding, thus adding himself as a dead
weight to the already overburdened family. As he had no house to
which he could take Ellen, he very naturally felt himself authorized
to share the house to which the distressed family of her mother
retired, seemingly regardless of how or by whom the food he daily
consumed was provided.
But Mrs. Graham was soon reduced to such extremities, that he was
driven off from her, with his wife, and forced to obtain employment
by which to support himself and her. As for the old man, he had
managed, in the wreck of affairs, to retain a large proportion of
his wines, and other choice liquors; and these, which no pressure of
want in his family could drive him to sell, afforded the means of
gratifying his inordinate love of drink. His clothes gradually
became old and rusty--but this seemed to give him no concern. He
wandered listlessly in his old business haunts, or lounged about the
house in a state of half stupor, drinking regularly all through the
day, at frequent periods, and going to bed, usually, at nights, in a
state of stupefaction.
When the boarding-house was given up, poor Mrs. Graham, whose health
and spirits had both rapidly declined in the past two years, felt
utterly at a loss what to do. But pressing necessities required
"Anna, child, what are we to do," she said, rousing herself, one
evening, while sitting alone with her daughters in gloomy
"Indeed, Ma, I am as much at a loss as you are. I have been thinking
and thinking about it, until my min--has become beclouded and
"I have been thinking, too," said Mary, "and it strikes me that Anna
and I might do something in the way of ornamental needlework. Both
of us, you know, are fond of it."
"Do you think that we can sell it, after it is done?" Anna asked,
with a lively interest in her tone.
"I certainly do. We see plenty of such work in the shops; and they
must buy it, of course."
"Let us try, then, Mary," her sister said with animation.
A week spent in untiring industry, produced two elegantly wrought
capes, equal to the finest French embroidery.
"And, now, where shall we sell them?" Anna inquired, in a tone of
"Mrs.--would, no doubt, buy them; but I, for one, cannot bear the
thought of going there."
"Nor I. But, driven by necessity, I believe that I could brave to go
there, or anywhere else, even though I have not been in
Chestnut-street for nearly two years."
"Will you go, then, Mary?" Anna asked, in an earnest, appealing
"Yes, Anna, as you seem so shrinkingly reluctant, I will go."
And forthwith Mary prepared herself; and rolling up the two elegant
capes, proceeded with them to the store of Mrs.--, in
Chestnut-street. It was crowded with customers when she entered, and
so she shrunk away to the back part of the store, until
Mrs.--should be more at leisure, and she could bargain with her
without attracting attention. She had stood there only a few
moments,--when her ear caught the sound of a familiar voice--that of
Mary Williams, one of her former most intimate associates. Her first
impulse was to spring forward, but a remembrance of her changed
condition instantly recurring to her, she turned more away from the
light, so as to effectually conceal herself from the young lady's
observation. This she was enabled to do, although Mary Williams came
once or twice so near as to brush her garments. How oppressively did
her heart beat, at such moments! Old thoughts and old feelings came
rushing back upon her, and in the contrast they occasioned between
the past and the present, she was almost overwhelmed with
despondency. Customer after customer came in, as one and another
retired, many of whose faces were familiar to Mary as old friends
and acquaintances. At last, however, after waiting nearly two hours,
she made out to get an interview with Mrs.--.
"Well, Miss, what do you want?" asked that personage, as Mary came
up before her where she still stood at the counter, for she had
observed her waiting in the store for some time. Mrs.--either did
not remember, or cared not to remember, her old customer, who had
spent, with her sisters, many hundreds of dollars in her store, in
"I have a couple of fine wrought capes that I should like to sell,"
Mary said, in a timid, hesitating voice, unrolling, at the same
time, the articles she named.
"Are they French?" asked Mrs.--, without pausing in her employment
of rolling up some goods, to take and examine the articles proffered
"No, ma'am; they are some of my own and sister's work."
"They won't do, then, Miss. Nothing in the way of fine collars and
capes will sell, unless they are French."
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