The Lights and Shadows of Real Life
Part 5 out of 11
Mary felt chilled at heart as Mrs.--said this, and commenced
slowly rolling up her capes, faint with disappointment. As she was
about turning from the counter, Mrs.--said, in rather an
"Suppose you let me look at them."
"I am sure you will think them very beautiful," Mary replied,
quickly unrolling her little bundle. "They have been wrought with
"Sure enough, they are quite well done," Mrs.--said, coldly, as
she glanced her eyes over the capes. "Almost equal in appearance to
the French. But they are only domestic; and domestic embroidered
work won't bring scarcely anything. What do you ask for these?"
"We have set no price upon them; but think that they are richly
worth five or six dollars apiece."
"Five or six dollars!" ejaculated Mrs.--, in well feigned
surprise, handing back; suddenly, the capes. "O! no, Miss;--American
goods don't bring arty such prices."
"Then what will you give for them, Madam?"
"If you feel like taking two dollars apiece for them, you can leave
them. But I am not particular," Mrs.--said, in a careless tone.
"Two dollars!" repeated Mary, in surprise. "Surely, Mrs.--, they
are worth more than two dollars apiece!"
"I'm not at all anxious to give you even that for them," said
Mrs.--. "Not at all; for I am by no means sure that I shall ever
get my money back again."
"You will have to take them, then, I suppose," Mary replied, in a
disappointed and desponding tone.
"Very well, Miss, I will give you what I said." And Mrs.--took the
capes, and handed Mary Graham four dollars in payment.
"If we should conclude to work any more, may we calculate on getting
the same money for them?"
"I can't say positively, Miss; but I think that you may calculate on
that price for as many as you will bring."
Mary took the money, and turned away. It was only half an hour
after, that Mrs.--sold one of them, as "French," for twelve
Sadly, indeed, were the sisters disappointed at this result. But
nothing better offering that they could do, they devoted themselves,
late and early, to their needles, the proceeds of which rarely went
over five dollars per week; for two years they continued to labour
At the end of that period, Anna sunk under her self-imposed task,
and lay ill for many weeks. Especially forbidden by the physician,
on her recovery, to enter again upon sedentary employments, Anna
cast earnestly about her for some other means whereby to earn
something for the common stock. Necessity, during the past two
years, had driven her frequently into business parts of the city for
the purchase of materials such as they used. Her changed lot gave
her new eyes, and her observations were necessarily made upon a new
class of facts. She had seen shop-girls often enough before, but she
had never felt any sympathy with them, nor thought of gaining any
information about them. They might receive one dollar a week, or
twenty, or work for nothing--it was all the same to her. Even if any
one had given her correct information on the subject, she would have
forgotten it in ten minutes. But now, it was a matter of interest to
know how much they could make--and she had obtained a knowledge of
the fact, that they earned from three to six and seven dollars a
week, according to their capacities or the responsibility of their
When, therefore, her shattered health precluded her from longer
plying her needle, much as she shrank from the publicity and
exposure of the position, she resolutely set about endeavouring to
obtain a situation as saleswoman in some retail dry-goods store. One
of the girls in Mrs.--'s store, who knew all about her family, and
deeply commiserated her condition, interested herself for her, and
succeeded in getting her a situation, at four dollars a week, in
Second-street. To enter upon the employment that now awaited her,
was indeed a severe trial; but she went resolutely forward, in the
way that duty called.
The sudden change from a sedentary life to one of activity, where
she had to be on her feet all day, tried her feeble strength
severely. It was with difficulty that she could sometimes keep up at
all, and she went home frequently at night in a burning fever. But
she gradually acquired a kind of power of endurance, that kept her
up. She did not seem to suffer less, but had more strength, as it
were, to bear up, and hold on with unflinching resolution.
Thus she had gone on for two or three years, at the time she was
again introduced, with her mother and sister, to the reader.
As for their father, his whole stock of liquors had been exhausted
for nearly two years, and, during that time, he had resorted to many
expedients to obtain the potations he so much loved. Finally, he
became so lost to all sense of right or feeling, that he would take
money, or anything he could carry off from the house, for the
purpose of obtaining liquor. This system had stripped them of many
necessary articles, as well as money, and added very greatly to
their distress, as well as embarrassments.
At last, everything that he could take had been taken, and as
neither his wife nor daughters would give him any money, his supply
of stimulus was cut off, and he became almost mad with the
intolerable desire that was burning within him for the fiery poison
which had robbed him of rationality and freedom.
"Give me some money!" he said, in an excited tone, to his wife,
coming in hurriedly from the street, one day about this time. His
face was dark and red, as if there were a congestion of the blood in
the veins of the skin, while his hands trembled, and his whole frame
was strongly agitated. Those who had been familiar with that old
man, years before, would hardly have recognized him now, in his old
worn and faded garments.
"I have no money for you," his wife replied. "You have already
stripped us of nearly everything."
"Buy me some brandy, then."
"No. I cannot do that either. Brandy has cursed you and your family.
Why do you not abandon it for ever?"
"I must have brandy, or die! Give me something to drink, in the name
The wild look that her husband threw upon her, alarmed Mrs. Graham,
and she hesitated no longer, but handed him a small piece of money.
Quick as thought, he turned away and darted from the house.
It was, perhaps, after the lapse of about half an hour that he
returned. He opened the door, when he did so, quietly, and stood
looking into the room for a few moments. Then he turned his head
quickly from the right to the left, glancing fearfully behind him
once or twice. In a moment or two afterwards he started forward,
with a strong expression of alarm upon his countenance, and seated
himself close beside Mrs. Graham, evidently in the hope of receiving
her protection from some dreaded evil.
"What is the matter?" quickly exclaimed Mrs. Graham, starting up
with a frightened look.
"It is really dreadful!" he said. "What can it all mean?"
"What is dreadful?" asked his wife, her heart throbbing with an
"There! Did you ever see such an awful sight? Ugh!" and he shrunk
behind her chair, and covered his eyes with his hands.
"I see nothing, Mr. Graham," his wife said, after a few moments of
hurried thought, in which she began to comprehend the fact that her
husband's mind was wandering.
"There is nothing here that will hurt you, father," Mary added,
coming up to him, as her own mind arrived at a conclusion similar to
"Nothing to hurt me!" suddenly screamed the old man, springing to
his feet, and throwing himself backwards half across the room; "and
that horrible creature already twining himself about my neck, and
strangling me! Take it off! take it off!" he continued, in a wild
cry of terror, making strong efforts to tear something away from his
"Take it off'! Why don't you take it off! Don't you see that it is
choking me to death! Oh! oh! oh!" (uttered in a terrific scream.)
Panting, screaming and struggling, he continued in this state of
awful alarm, vainly endeavouring to extricate himself from the toils
of an imaginary monster, that was suffocating him, until he sank
exhausted to the floor.
Happily for his alarmed and distressed family, two or three
neighbours, who had been startled by the old man's screams,--came
hurriedly in, and soon comprehended the nature of his aberration. A
brief consultation among themselves determined them, understanding,
as they did perfectly, the condition of the family, and his relation
to them, to remove him at once to the Alms-House, where he could get
judicious medical treatment, and be out of the sight and hearing of
his wife and children.
One of them briefly explained to Mrs. Graham, and Mary, the nature
of his mental affection, and the absolute necessity that there was
for his being placed where the most skilful and judicious management
of his case could be had. After some time, he gained their reluctant
consent to have him taken to the Alms-House. A carriage was then
obtained, and he forced into it, amid the tears and remonstrances of
the wife and daughter, who had already repented of their
acquiescence in what their judgment had approved. Old affection had
rushed back upon their hearts, and feelings became stronger than
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when this occurred. Early
on the next morning, Mrs. Graham, with Mary and Anna, went out to
see him. Their inquiries about his condition were vaguely answered,
and with seeming reluctance, or as it appeared to them, with
indifference. At length the matron of the institution asked them to
go with her, and they followed on, through halls and galleries,
until they came to a room, the door of which she opened, with a
silent indication for them to enter.
They entered alone. Everything was hushed, and the silence that of
the chamber of death. In the centre of the room lay the old man. A
single glance told the fearful tale. He was dead! Dead in the
pauper's home! Seven years before, a millionaire--now sleeping his
last sleep in the dead-room of an Alms-House, and his beggared wife
and children weeping over him in heart-broken and hopeless sorrow.
From that time the energies of Mary and Anna seemed paralyzed; and
it was only with a strong effort that Mrs. Graham could rouse
herself from the stupor of mind and body that had settled upon her.
Mrs. Graham and her two daughters had nearly finished their evening
meal, at the close of the day alluded to some pages back, when the
sound of rapidly hurrying footsteps was heard on the pavement. In a
moment after, a heavy blow was given just at their door, and some
one fell with a groan against it. The weight of the body forced it
open, and the son and brother rolled in upon the floor, with the
blood gushing from a ghastly wound in his forehead. His assailant
instantly fled. Bloated, disfigured, in coarse and worn clothing,
how different, even when moving about, was he from the genteel,
well-dressed young man of a few years back! Idleness and dissipation
had wrought as great a change upon him as it had upon his father,
while he was living. Now he presented a shocking and loathsome
The first impulse of Mary was to run for a physician, while the
mother and Anna attempted to stanch the flow of blood, that had
already formed a pool upon the floor. Assistance was speedily
obtained, and the wound dressed; but the young man remained
insensible. As the physician turned from the door, Mrs. Graham sank
fainting upon her bed. Over-tried nature could bear up no longer.
"Doctor, what do you think of him?" asked the mother, anxiously,
three days after, as the physician came out of Alfred's room. Since
the injury he had received, he had lain in a stupor, but with much
"His case, Madam, is an extremely critical one. I have tried in vain
to control that fever."
"Do you think him very dangerous, Doctor?" Mary asked, in a husky
"I certainly do. And, to speak to you the honest truth, have,
myself, no hope of his recovery. I think it right that you should
"No hope, Doctor!" Mrs. Graham said, laying her hand upon the
physician's arm, while her face grew deadly pale. "No hope!--My only
son die thus!--O! Doctor, can you not save him?"
"I wish it were in my power, Madam. But I will not flatter you with
false hopes. It will be little less than a miracle should he
The mother and sisters turned away with an air of hopelessness from
the physician, and he retired slowly, and with oppressed feelings.
When they returned to the sick chamber, a great change had already
taken place in Alfred. The prediction of the physician, it was
evident to each, as all bent eagerly over him, was about to be too
surely and too suddenly realized. His face, from being slightly
flushed with fever, had become sunken, and ghastly pale, and his
respiration so feeble that it was almost imperceptible.
The last and saddest trial of this ruined family had come. The son
and brother, for whom now rushed back upon their hearts the tender
and confiding affection of earlier years, was lingering upon life's
extremest verge. It seemed that they could not give him up. They
felt that, even though he were neglectful of them, they could not do
without him. He was a son and brother; and, while he lived, there
was still hope of his restoration. The strength of that hope,
entertained by each in the silent chambers of affection, was unknown
before--its trial revealed its power over each crushed and sinking
But the passage of each moment brought plainer and more palpable
evidence of approaching dissolution. For about ten minutes he had
lain so still, that they were suddenly aroused by the fear that he
might be already dead Softly did the mother lay her hand upon his
forehead. Its cold and clammy touch sent an icy thrill to her heart
Then she bent her ear to catch even the feeblest breath--but she
could distinguish none.
"He is dead!" she murmured, sinking down and burying her face in the
The cup of their sorrow was, at last, full--full and running over!
THE RUINED FAMILY
STUNNED by this new affliction, which seemed harder to bear than any
of the terrible ones that had gone before, Mrs. Graham sunk into a
state of half unconsciousness; but Anna still lingered over the
insensible body of her brother, and though reason told her that the
spirit had taken its everlasting departure, her heart still hoped
that it might not be so,--that a spark yet remained which would
The pressure of her warm hand upon his cold, damp forehead, mocked
her hopes. His motionless chest told of the vanity of her fond
anticipations of seeing his heart again quicken into living
activity. And yet, she could not give him up. She could not believe
that he was dead. As she still hung over him, it seemed to her that
there was a slight twitching of the muscles about the neck. How
suddenly did her heart bound and throb until its strong pulsations
pained her! Eagerly did she bend down upon him, watching for some
more palpable sign of returning animation. But nothing met either
her eye or her ear that strengthened the newly awakened hope.
After waiting, vainly, for some minutes, until the feeble hope she
had entertained began to fail, Anna stepped quickly to the
mantelpiece, and lifted from it a small looking-glass, with which
she returned to the bedside. Holding this close to the face of her
brother, she watched the surface with an eager anxiety that almost
caused the beating of her heart to cease. As a slight mist slowly
gathered upon the glass and obscured its surface, Anna cried out
with a voice that thrilled the bosoms of her mother and sister--
"He lives! he lives!" and gave way to a gush of tears.
This sudden exclamation, of course, brought Mrs. Graham and Mary to
the bedside, who instantly comprehended the experiment which Anna
had been making and understood the result. The mother, in turn, with
trembling hands, lifted the mirror, and held it close to the face of
her son. In a moment or two, its surface was obscured, plainly
indicating that respiration, though almost imperceptible, was still
going on,--that life still lingered in the feeble body before them.
Gradually, now, the flame that had well-nigh gone out, kindled up
again, but so slowly, that for many hours the mother and sisters
were in doubt whether it were really brightening or not. The fever
that had continued for several days, exhausting the energies of the
young man's system, had let go its hold, because scarcely enough
vital energy remained for it to subsist upon. In its subsidence,
life trembled on the verge of extinction. But there was yet
sufficient stamina for it to rally upon; and it did rally, and
gradually, but very slowly, gained strength.
In an earnest spirit of thankfulness for this restoration of Alfred,
did the mother and sisters look up to the Giver of all good, and
with tearful devotion pray that there might ensue a moral as well as
a physical restoration. For years, they had not felt towards him the
deep and yearning tenderness that now warmed their bosoms. They
longed to rescue him, not for their sakes, but for his own, from the
horrible pit and the miry clay into which he had fallen.
"O, if we could but save him, sister!" Anna said, as she sat
conversing with Mary, after all doubt of his recovery had been
removed. "If we could only do some. thing to restore our brother to
himself, how glad I should be!"
"I would do anything in my power," Mary replied, "and sacrifice
everything that it was right to sacrifice, if, by so doing, I could
help Alfred to conquer his besetting evils. I cannot tell you how I
feel about it. It seems as if it would break my heart to have him
return again into his old habits of life: and yet, what have we to
found a hope upon, that he will not so return?"
"I feel just as you do about it, Mary," her sister said. "The same
yearning desire to save him, and the same hopelessness as to the
"There is one way, it seems to me, in which we might influence him."
"What is that, Mary?"
"Let us manifest towards him, fully, the real affection that we
feel; perhaps that may awaken a chord in this own bosom, and thus
lead him, for our sakes, to enter upon a new course of life."
"We can at least try, Mary. It can do no harm, and may result in
With the end of his reformation in view, the two sisters, during his
convalescence, attended him with the most assiduous and affectionate
care. The moment Anna would come home from the store at night, she
would repair with a smiling countenance to his bedside, and although
usually so fatigued as to be compelled to rally her spirits with an
effort, she would seem so interested and cheerful and active to
minister in some way to his pleasure, that Alfred began to look
forward every day as the evening approached, with a lively interest,
for her return. This Mary observed, and it gave her hope.
Three weeks soon passed away, when Alfred was so far recovered as to
be able to walk out.
"Do not walk far, brother," Mary said, laying her hand gently upon
his arm, and looking him with affectionate earnestness in the face.
"You are very weak, and the fatigue might bring on a relapse."
"I shall only walk a little way, Mary," he replied, as he opened the
door and went out.
Neither the mother nor sister could utter the fear that each felt,
lest Alfred should meet with and fall in temptation before he
returned. This fear grew stronger and stronger, as the minutes began
to accumulate, and lengthen to an hour. A period of ten or fifteen
minutes was as long as they had any idea of his remaining away.
Where could he be? Had he been taken sick; or was he again yielding
to the seductions of a depraved and degrading appetite? The suspense
became agonizing to their hearts, as not only one, but two, and even
three hours passed, bringing the dim twilight, and yet he returned
In the meantime, the young man, whose appearance the careful hand of
Mary and her sister had been rendered far superior to what it had
been for years past, went out from his mother's humble dwelling, and
took his way slowly down one of the streets, leading to the main
portion of the city, with many thoughts of a painful character
passing through his mind. The few weeks that he had been confined to
the house, and in constant association with his mother, and one or
both of his sisters, who were at home, had startled his mind into
reflection. He could not but contrast their constant and
affectionate devotion to him, with his own shameful and criminal
neglect of them. Conceal her real feelings as she would, it did not
escape his notice, that when Anna came home at night, she was so
much exhausted as to be hardly able to sit up; and as for Mary,
often when she dreamed not that he was observing her, had he noticed
her air of languor and exhaustion, and her half-stifled expression
of pain,--as she bent resolutely over her needle-work. Never before
had he felt so indignant towards Ellen's husband for his neglect and
abuse of her, his once favourite sister; and, indeed, the favourite
of the whole family.
It was, to his own mind, a mystery how he ever could have sunk so
low, and become so utterly regardless of his mother and sisters.
"Wretch! wretch! miserable wretch that I am!" he would, sometimes,
mentally exclaim, turning his face to the wall as he lay reviewing,
involuntarily, his past life. Uniformly it happened, that following
such a crisis in his feelings, would be some affectionate word or
kind attention from Mary or his mother, smiting upon his heart with
emotions of the keenest remorse.
It was under the influence of such feelings that he went out on the
afternoon just alluded to. Still, no settled plan of reformation had
been formed in his mind, for the discouraging question would
constantly arise while pondering gloomily over his condition and the
condition of the family.
"What can I do?" To this, he could find no satisfactory answer.
Three or four years of debasing drunkenness, had utterly separated
him from those who had it in their power to encourage and strengthen
his good desires,--and to put him in the way of providing for
himself and his family, by an industrious application to some kind
He had walked slowly on, in painful abstraction, for about five
minutes, when a hand was laid on his arm, and a familiar voice
"Is this you, Graham! Where in the name of Pluto have you been, for
the last three weeks? Why, how blue you look about the gills! Havn't
been sick, I hope?"
"Indeed I have, Harry," Alfred replied, in a feeble voices. "It came
very near being all over with me."
"Indeed! Well, what was the matter?"
Raising his hat, and displaying a long and still angry-looking wound
on the side of his head, from which the hair had been carefully cut
away, he said--
"Do you see that?"
"I reckon I do."
"Well, that came very near doing the business for me."
"How did it happen?"
"I hardly know, myself. I was drunk, I suppose, and quarrelled with
some one, or insulted some one in the street--and this was the
"Really, Graham, you have made a narrow escape."
"Havn't I? It kept me in bed for nearly three weeks, and now, I can
just totter about. This is the first time I have been outside of the
house since it happened."
"You certainly do look weak and feeble enough," replied his old
friend and crony, who added, in a moment after,
"But come! take a drink with me at the tavern across here. You stand
in need of something."
"No objection, and thank you," Alfred rejoined, at once moving over
towards a well-known, low tavern, quenching in imagination a morbid
thirst that seemed instantly created, by a draught of sweetened
"What will you take?" asked his friend, as the two came up to the
"I'll take a mint sling," Alfred replied.
"Two mint slings," said his companion, giving his orders to the
"Hallo, Graham! Is this you?" exclaimed one or two loungers, coming
forward, and shaking him heartily by the hand. "We had just made up
our minds that you had joined the cold-water army."
"Indeed!" suddenly ejaculated Graham, an instant consciousness of
what he was, where he was, and what he was about to do, flashing
over his mind. "I wish to heaven your conclusion had been true!"
This sudden charge in his manner, and his earnestly, indeed solemnly
expressed wish, were received with a burst of laughter.
"Here Dan," said one, to the bar-keeper, "havn't you a pledge for
him to sign."
"O, yes! Bring a pledge! Bring a pledge! Has no one a pledge?"
rejoined another, in a tone of ridicule.
"Yes, here is one," said a man in a firm tone, entering the shop at
the moment. "Who wants to sign the pledge?"
"I do!" Graham said, in a calm voice.
"Then here it is," the stranger replied, drawing a sheet of paper
from his pocket, and unrolling it.
"Give me a pen Dan," Alfred said, turning to the barkeeper.
"Indeed, then, and I won't," retorted that individual, "I'm not
going to lend a stick to break my own head."
"O, never mind, young man, I can supply pen and ink," said the
stranger, drawing forth a pocket inkstand.
Alfred eagerly seized the pen that was offered to him, and instantly
subscribed the total abstinence pledge.
"Another fool caught!" sneered one.
"Ha! ha! ha! What a ridiculous farce!" chimed in another.
"He'll be rolling in the gutter before three days, feeling upwards
for the ground," added a third.
"Why, I don't believe he can see through a ladder now;" the first
speaker said, with his contemptuous sneer. "Look here, mister," to
the stranger who had appeared so opportunely. "This is all gammon!
He's been fooling you."
"Come along, my friend," was all the stranger said, drawing his arm
within that of the penitent young man, as he did so,--"this is no
place for you."
And the two walked slowly out, amid the laughter, sneers, and open
ridicule of the brutal company. Once again in the open air, Alfred
breathed more freely.
"O, sir," he said, grasping the hand of the individual who had
appeared so opportunely--"you have saved me from my last temptation,
into which I was led so naturally, that I had not an idea of danger.
If I had fallen then, as I fear I should have fallen but for you, I
must have gone down, rapidly, to irretrievable ruin. How can I
express to you the grateful emotions that I now feel?"
"Express them not to me, young man," the stranger said, in a solemn
voice; "but to him, who in his merciful providence, sent me just at
the right moment to meet your last extremity. Look up to him, and,
whenever tempted, let your conscious weakness repose in his
strength, and no evil power can prevail against you. Be true to the
resolution of this hour--_to your pledge_--to those who have claims
upon you, for such, I know there must be, and you shall yet fill
that position of usefulness in society, which no one else but you
can occupy. And now let me advise you to go home, and ponder well
this act, and your future course. No matter how dark all may now
seem, light will spring up. If you are anxious to walk in a right
path, and to minister to those who have claims upon you, the way
will be made plain. This encouragement I can give you with
confidence; for twelve months ago, _I_ trembled on the brink of
ruin, as _you_ have just been trembling. _I_ was once a slave to the
same wild infatuation that has held you in bondage. Hope, then, with
a vigorous hope, and that hope will be a guarantee for your future
And so saying, the stranger shook the hand of Alfred heartily, and,
turning, walked hastily away.
The young man had proceeded only a few paces when he observed his
old friend and companion, Charles Williams, driving along towards
him. No one had done so much towards corrupting his morals, and
enticing him away from virtue, as that individual. But he had
checked himself in his course of dissipation, long before, while
Alfred had sunk rapidly downward. Years had passed since any
intercourse had taken place between them, for their condition in
life had long been as different as their habits. Charles had entered
into business with his father, and was now active and enterprising,
increasing the income of the firm by his energy and industry.
His eye rested upon Graham, the moment he came near enough to
observe him. There was something familiar about his gait and manner,
that attracted the young man's attention. At first, he did not
distinguish, through the disguise that sickness and self-imposed
poverty had thrown over Alfred, his old companion. But, suddenly, as
he was about passing, he recognised him, and instantly reined up his
"It is only a few minutes since I was thinking about you, Alfred,"
he said. "How are you? But you do not look well. Have you been
"I have been very ill, lately," Alfred Graham replied, in a mournful
tone; former thoughts and feelings rushing back upon him in
consequence of this unexpected interview, and quite subduing him.
"I am really sorry to hear it," the young man said, sympathizingly.
"What has been the matter?"
"A slow fever. This is the first time I have been out for weeks."
"A ride, then, will be of use to you. Get up, and let me drive you
out into the country. The pure air will benefit you, I am sure."
For a moment or two, Alfred stood irresolute. He could not believe
that he had heard aright.
"Come," urged Williams. "We have often ridden before, and let us
have one more ride, if we should never go out again together. I wish
to have some talk with you."
Thus urged, Alfred, with the assistance of Charles Williams, got up
into the light wagon, in which the latter was riding, and in a
moment after was dashing off with him behind a spirited horse.
It was on the morning of a day, nearly a week previous to this time,
that Mary Williams, or rather Mrs. Harwood,--for Anna and Mary
Graham's old friend had become a married woman--entered the store of
Mrs.--on Chestnut-street, for the purchase of some goods.
While one of the girls in attendance was waiting upon her, she
observed a young woman, neatly, but poorly clad, whom she had often
seen there before, come in, and go back to the far end of the store.
In a little while, Mrs.--joined her, and received from her a small
package, handing her some money in return, when the young woman
retired, and walked quickly away. This very operation Mrs. Harwood
had several times seen repeated before, and each time she had felt
much interested in the timid and retiring stranger, a glance at
whose face she had never been able to gain.
"Who is that young woman?" she asked of the individual in
"She's a poor girl, that Mrs.--buys fine work from, out of mere
charity, she says."
"Do you know her name?"
"I have heard it, ma'am, but forget it."
"Have you any very fine French worked capes, Mrs.--," asked Mrs.
Harwood, as the individual she addressed came up to that part of the
counter where she was standing, still holding in her hand the small
package which had been received from the young woman. This Mrs.
"O, yes, ma'am, some of the most beautiful in the city."
"Let me see them, if you please."
A box was brought, and its contents, consisting of a number of very
rich patterns of the article asked for, displayed.
"What is the price of this?" asked Mrs. Harwood, lifting one, the
pattern of which pleased her fancy.
"That is a little damaged," Mrs.--replied. "But here is one of the
same pattern," unrolling the small parcel she had still continued to
hold in her hand, "which has just been returned by a lady, to whom I
sent it for examination, this morning."
"It is the same pattern, but much more beautifully wrought," Mrs.
Harwood said, as she examined it carefully. "These are all French,
"Of course, ma'am. None but French goods come of such exquisite
"What do you ask for this?"
"It is worth fifteen dollars, ma'am. The pattern is a rich one, and
the work unusually fine."
"Fifteen dollars! That is a pretty high price, is it not, Mrs.--?"
"O, no, indeed, Mrs. Harwood! It cost me very nearly fourteen
dollars--and a dollar is a small profit to make on such articles."
After hesitating for a moment or two, Mrs. Harwood said--
"Well, I suppose I must give you that for it, as it pleases me."'
And she took out her purse, and paid the price that Mrs.--had
asked. She still stood musing by the side of the counter, when the
young woman who had awakened her interest a short time before,
re-entered, and came up to Mrs.--, who was near her.
"I have a favour to ask, Mrs.--," she overheard her say, in a half
tremulous, and evidently reluctant tone.
"Well, what is it?" Mrs.--coldly asked.
"I want six dollars more than I have got, for a very particular
purpose. Won't you advance me the price of three capes, and I will
bring you in one a week, until I have made it up."
"No, miss," was the prompt and decisive answer--"I never pay any one
for work not done. Pay beforehand, and never pay, are the two worst
kinds of pay!"
All this was distinctly heard by Mrs. Harwood, and her very heart
ached, as she saw the poor girl turn, with a disappointed air, away,
and walk slowly out of the store.
"That's just the way with these people," ejaculated Mrs.--, in
affected indignation, meant to mislead Mrs. Harwood, who, she
feared, had overheard what the young woman had said. "They're always
trying in some way or other, to get the advantage of you."
"How so?" asked Mrs. Harwood, wishing to learn all she could about
the stranger who had interested her feelings.
"Why, you see, I pay that girl a good price for doing a certain kind
of work for me, and the money is always ready for her, the moment
her work is done. But, not satisfied with that, she wanted me, just
now, to advance her the price of three weeks' work. If I had been
foolish enough to have done it, it would have been the last I ever
should have seen of either money, work, or seamstress."
"Perhaps not," Mrs. Harwood ventured to remark.
"You don't know these kind of people as well as I do, Mrs. Harwood.
I've been tricked too often in my time."
"Of course not," was the quiet reply. Then after a pause,
"What kind of sewing did she do for you, Mrs.--?"
"Nothing very particular; only a little fine work. I employ her,
more out of charity, than anything else."
"Do you know anything about her?"
"She's old Graham's daughter, I believe. I'm told he died in the
Alms-house, a few weeks ago."
"What old Graham?" Mrs. Harwood asked, in a quick voice.
"Why, old Graham, the rich merchant that was, a few years ago. Quite
a tumble-down their pride has had, I reckon! Why, I remember when
nothing in my store was good enough for them. But they are glad
enough now to work for me at any price I choose to pay them."
For a few moments, Mrs. Harwood was so shocked that she could not
reply. At length she asked--
"Which of the girls was it that I saw here, just now?"
"That was Mary."
"Do you know anything of Anna?"
"Yes. She stands in a store in Second-street."
"Married to a drunken, worthless fellow, who abuses and half starves
her. But that's the way; pride must have a fall!"
"Where do they live?" pursued Mrs. Harwood.
"Indeed, and that's more than I know," Mrs.--replied, tossing her
Unable to gain any further information, Mrs. Harwood left the store,
well convinced that the richly-wrought cape, for which she had paid
Mrs.--fifteen dollars, had been worked by the hands of Mary
Graham, for which she received but a mere pittance.
Poor Mary returned home disappointed and deeply troubled in mind.
She had about three dollars in money, besides the two which
Mrs.--had paid her. If the six she had asked for had only been
advanced, as she fondly hoped would be the case, the aggregate sum,
eleven dollars, added to three which Anna had saved, would have
enabled them to purchase a coat and hat for their brother, who would
be ready in a few days to go out. They were anxious to do, this,
under the hope, that by providing him with clothes of a more
respectable appearance than he had been used to wearing, he would be
led to think more of himself, seek better company, and thus be
further removed from danger. At her first interview with Mrs.--,
Mary's heart had failed her--and it was only after she had left the
store and walked some squares homeward, that she could rally herself
sufficiently to return and make her request. It was refused, as has
"Did Mrs.--grant your request?" was almost the first question that
Anna asked of her sister that evening, when she returned from the
"No, Anna, I was positively refused," Mary replied, the tears rising
and almost gushing over her cheeks.
"Then we will only have to do the best we can with what little we
have. We shall not be able to get him a new coat; but we can have
his old one done up, with a new collar and buttons,--I priced a pair
of pantaloons at one of the clothing-stores, in Market-street, as I
came up this evening, and the man said three dollars and a half.
They looked pretty well. There was a vest, too, for a dollar. I
heard one of the young men in the store say, two or three days ago,
that he had sold his old hat, which was a very good one, to the
hatter, from whom he had bought a new one--or rather, that the
hatter had taken the old one on account, valued at a dollar. I asked
him a question or two, and learned that many hatters do this, and
sell the old hats at the same that they have allowed for them. One
of these I will try to get,--even if a good deal worn; it will look
far better than the one he has at present."
"In that case, then," Mary said, brightening up, "we can still get
him fitted up respectably. O, how glad I shall be! Don't you think,
sister, that we have good reason to hope for him?"
"I try to think so, Mary. But my heart often trembles with fearful
apprehensions when I think of his going out among his old associates
again. It will be little less than a miracle if he should not fall."
"Don't give way to desponding thoughts, sister. Let us hope so
strongly for the best, that our very hope shall compass its own
fruition. He cannot, he must not, go back!"
Anna did not reply. Her own feelings were inclined to droop and
despond, but she did not wish to have her sister's droop and despond
likewise. One reason for her saddened feelings arose from the fact,
that she had a painful consciousness that she should not long be
able to retain her present situation. Her health was sinking so
rapidly, that it was only by the aid of strong resolutions, which
lifted her mind up and sustained her in spite of bodily weakness,
that she was at all enabled to get through with her duties. This she
was conscious could not last long.
On the next morning, when she attempted to rise from her bed, she
became so faint and sick that she was compelled to lie down again.
The feeling of alarm that instantly thrilled through her bosom, lest
she should no longer be able to minister to the wants of her mother,
and especially of her brother at this important crisis in his life,
acted as a stimulant to exhausted nature, and endowed her with a
degree of artificial strength that enabled her to make another and
more successful effort to resume her wearying toil.
But so weak did she feel, even after she had forced herself to take
a few mouthfuls of food at breakfast time, that she lingered for
nearly half an hour longer than her usual time of starting in order
to allow her system to get a little braced up, so that she could
stand the long walk she had to take.
"Good by, brother," she said in a cheerful tone, coming up to the
bed upon which Alfred lay, and stooping down and kissing him. "You
must try and sit up as much as you can to-day."
"Good by, Anna. I wish you didn't have to go away and stay so long."
To this, Anna could not trust herself to reply. She only pressed
tightly the hand she held in her own, and then turned quickly away.
It was nearly three quarters of an hour later than the time the
different clerks were required to be at the store, when Anna came
in, her side and head both paining her badly, in consequence of
having walked too fast.
"It's three quarters of an hour behind the time," the storekeeper
said, with a look and tone of displeasure, as he drew out his watch.
"I can't have such irregularity in my store, Miss Graham. This is
the third time within a few days, that you have come late."
A reply instantly rose to Anna's tongue, but she felt that it would
be useless--and would, perhaps, provoke remarks deeply wounding to
her feelings. She paused, therefore, only a moment, with a bowed
head, to receive her rebuke, and then passed quickly, and with a
meek, subdued air, to her station behind the counter. There were
some of her fellow-clerks who felt for and pitied Anna--there were
others who experienced a pleasure in hearing her reproved.
All through that day, with only the respite of some ten or fifteen
minutes, when she retired to eat alone the frugal repast of bread
and cold meat that she had brought with her for her dinner, did Anna
stand behind the shop-man's counter, attending to his customers with
a cheerful air and often a smiling countenance. She spoke to no one
of the pain in her breast, back, and side; and none of those around
her dreamed that, from extreme lassitude, she could scarcely stand
beside the counter.
To her, suffering as she did, the hours passed slowly and heavily
away. It seemed as if evening would never come--as if she would have
to yield the struggle, much as she strove to keep up for the sake of
those she loved.
But even to the weary, the heavy laden, and the prisoner, the slow
lingering hours at length pass on, and the moment of respite comes.
The shadows of evening at last began to fall dimly around, and Anna
retired from her position of painful labour, and took her way
homeward. But not even the anticipation of speedily joining those
she loved, had power so to buoy up her spirits, that her body could
rise above its depressed and weakened condition. Her weary steps
were slowly taken, and it seemed to her that she should never be
able to reach home. Many, very many depressing thoughts passed
through her mind as she proceeded slowly on her homeward way. The
condition of her sister Ellen troubled her exceedingly. About
one-third of her own and Mary's earnings were required to keep her
and her little ones from absolute suffering; and Mary, like herself,
she too plainly perceived to be rapidly sinking under her burdens.
"What is to be done when we fail, heaven only knows!" she murmured,
as a vivid consciousness of approaching extremity arose in her mind.
As she said this, the idea of her brother presented itself, with the
hope that he would now exert for them a sustaining and supporting
energy--that he would be to them at last a brother. But this
thought, that made her heart leap in her bosom, she put aside with
"No,--no,--Do not rest on such a feeble hope!"
At last her hand was upon the latch, and she lifted it and entered.
"I am glad to see you home again, Anna," Alfred said, with an
expression of real pleasure and affection; as she came in.
"And I am glad to see you sitting up and looking so well, brother,"
Anna replied, her gloomy thoughts at once vanishing. "How do you
"O, I feel much better, sister. In a few days I hope I shall be able
to go out. But how are you? It seems to me that you do not look
"I do feel very much fatigued, Alfred," Anna said, while her tone,
in spite of her effort to make it appear cheerful, became sad. "We
are not permitted in our store to sit down for a moment, and I get
so tired by night that I can hardly keep up."
"But surely, Anna, you do not stand up all day long."
"Yes. Since I left this morning, I have been standing every moment,
with the exception of the brief period I took to eat my dinner."
This simple statement smote upon the heart of the young man, and
made him silent and thoughtful. He felt that, but for his neglect of
duty--but for his abandonment of himself to sensual and besotting
pleasures, this suffering, this self-devotion need not be.
Anna saw that what she had said was paining the mind of her brother,
and she grieved that she had been betrayed into making any allusion
to herself. To restore again the pleased expression to Alfred's
countenance, she dexterously changed the subject to a more cheerful
one, and was rewarded for her effort by seeing his eye again
brighten and the smile again playing about his lips.
Instead of sitting down after tea and assisting Mary with her
embroidery, as she usually did, Anna took a book and read aloud for
the instruction and amusement of all; but most for the sake of
Alfred-that he might feel with them a reciprocal pleasure, and thus
be enabled to perceive that there was something substantial to fall
back upon, if he would only consent to abandon the bewildering and
insane delights to which he had given himself up for years. The
effect she so much desired was produced upon the mind of her
brother. He did, indeed, feel, springing up within him, a new-born
pleasure,--and wondered to himself how he could so long have strayed
away from such springs of delight, to seek bitter waters in a
tangled and gloomy wilderness.
When the tender good-night was at last said, and Mary stretched her
wearied limbs in silent thoughtfulness beside her sister, there was
a feeble hope glimmering in the dark and gloomy abyss of doubt and
despondency that had settled upon her mind--a hope that her brother
would go forth from his sick chamber a changed man. On this hope,
fancy conjured up scenes and images of delight, upon which her mind
dwelt in pleased and dreamy abstraction, until sleep stole upon her,
and locked up her senses.
When she awoke, it was with the same sinking sensation that she had
experienced on the morning previous, and, indeed, on every morning
for many months past. The remembrance of the rebuke she had received
on the day before for being late at her place of business, acted as
a kind of stimulant to arouse her to exertion, so as to be able to
get off in time. It was, however, a few minutes past the hour when
she entered the store, the owner of which looked at his watch,
significantly, as she did so.
This day passed, as the previous one had, in pain and extreme
weariness--and so did the next, and the next, the poor girl's
strength failing her too perceptibly. During this time, Alfred's
coat had been repaired, a pair of pantaloons and a vest bought for
him, and also a second-hand hat of very respectable appearance--all
ready so soon as he should be strong enough to venture out. How
anxiously, and yet in fear and trembling, did the sisters look
forward to that period, which was to strengthen their feeble hopes,
or scatter them to the winds!
"I do really feel very ill," Anna said, sinking back upon her
pillow, after making an attempt to rise, one morning some four or
five days after that on which Mary has been represented as
endeavouring to get an advance from Mrs.--.
"What is the matter?" Mary inquired kindly.
"My head aches most violently--and grows confused so soon as I
attempt to rise."
"Then I would lie still, Anna."
"No, I must be up, and getting ready to go to the store."
"I wouldn't go down to the store, if I were you, Anna. You had
better rest for a day."
"I cannot afford to lose a day," Anna said, again rising in bed, and
sitting upright, until the swimming in her head, that commenced upon
the least motion, had subsided. Then she got out upon the floor, and
stood for a few moments, while her head seemed reeling, and she
every instant about to sink down. In a little while this dizziness
went off, but her head throbbed and ached with aggravated violence.
At breakfast, she forced herself to swallow a small portion of food,
although her stomach loathed it; and then, with trembling limbs and
a feeling of faintness, she went out into the open air, and took her
way to the store. The fresh breeze, as it fell coolingly on her
fevered forehead, revived her in a degree; but long ere she had
reached the store her limbs were sinking under her with excessive
"Late again, miss--" said her employer, as she came in, with a look
of stern reproof.
"I have not been very well, sir," Anna replied, lifting her pale,
languid face, and looking appealingly into the countenance of the
"Then you should stay at home altogether, Miss," was is cold
response, as he turned away, leaving her to proceed to her
accustomed station at the counter.
The day happening to be one of unusual activity in business, Anna
was kept so constantly busy, that she could not find a moment in
which to relieve the fatigue she felt by even leaning on the
counter. Customer after customer came and went, and box after box
was taken from, and replaced again upon the shelves, in what seemed
to her an endless round. Sometimes her head ached so violently, that
it was with difficulty she could see to attend correctly to her
business. And sometimes she was compelled to steady herself by
holding to the counter to prevent sinking to the floor, from a
feeling of faintness, suddenly passing over her. Thus she held
bravely on, under the feeble hope that her indisposition, as she
tried mentally to term it, would wear off.
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon that the fever which had
been very high all through the day, began to subside. This symptom
she noticed with an emotion of pleasure, as indicating a healthy
reaction in her system.
It was but half an hour after, that she sunk, fainting, to the
floor, at her place beside the counter. When the fever abated,
exhausted nature gave way.
For nearly an hour she remained insensible. And it was nearly two
hours before she had so far recovered as to be able to walk, when
she was suffered to go away unattended. It was seven o'clock, when,
with a face almost as white as ashes, and nearly sinking to the
ground with weakness, she arrived at home, and opening the door,
"O, Anna! What ails you?" exclaimed her mother.
"I feel very sick," the poor girl replied, sinking into a chair.
"But where is Alfred?" she asked, in a quicker tone, in which was a
strong expression of anxiety, as she glanced her eye about the room,
in a vain search for him.
"He has walked out," Mary said.
"Has he!" ejaculated Anna. "How long has he been away?"
"It is now nearly four hours,'" Mary said, endeavouring to conceal
the distress she felt, in pity for her sister, who was evidently
"Four hours!" exclaimed Anna, her face blanching to still whiter
hue. "Four hours! And do you not know where he is?"
"Indeed we do not, Anna. He went out to take a short walk, and said
he would not be gone more than ten or twenty minutes."
Anna did not reply, but turned slowly away, and entering her
chamber, threw herself exhausted upon her bed, feeling so utterly
wretched, that she breathed an audible wish that she might die. In
about ten minutes a carriage stopped at the door; and in a moment
after, amid the rattling of departing wheels, Alfred entered,
looking better and happier than he had looked for a long, long time.
A single glance told the mother and sister that all was right.
"O, brother! How could you stay away so long?" Mary said, springing
to his side, and grasping tightly his arm.
"I did not expect, when I walked out, that it would be so long
before I returned, Mary," he replied, kissing her cheek
affectionately. "But I met with an old, though long estranged
friend, who seeing that I had been ill, and needed fresh air,
insisted on taking me out into the country in his carriage. I could
but consent. I was, however, so weak, as to be obliged to go to bed,
when about three miles from the city, and lie there for a couple of
hours. But I feel well, very well now; and have some good news to
tell you. But where is Anna?"
"She has just come in, and gone up to her chamber. I do not think
her at all well to-night," Mary said.
"Poor girl! She is sacrificing herself for the good of others,"
Alfred remarked, with tenderness and interest.
"Shall I call her down?" Mary asked.
"O, yes,--by all means."
Mary went up and found her sister lying across the bed, with her
face buried in a pillow.
"Anna! Anna!" she said, taking hold of her and shaking her gently.
Anna immediately arose, and looking wildly around her, muttered
something that her sister could not comprehend.
"Anna, brother's come home."
But she did not seem to comprehend her meaning.
The glaring brightness of Anna's eyes, and her flushed cheeks,
convinced Mary that all was not right. Stepping to the head of the
stairs, she called to Alfred, who instantly came up.
"Here is Alfred, Anna," she said, as she re-entered the chamber,
accompanied by her brother.
For a moment or two, Anna looked upon him with a vacant stare, and
then closing her eyes, sunk back upon the bed, murmuring
"It is all over--all over."
"What is all over, Anna?" her sister asked.
"What is all over?" the sick girl responded, in a sharp, quick tone,
rising suddenly, and staring at Mary with a fixed look. "Why, it's
all over with him! Havn't I drained my heart's blood for him? Havn't
I stood all day at the counter for his sake, when I felt that I was
dying? But it's all over now! He is lost, and I shall soon be out of
this troublesome world!"
And then the poor half-conscious girl, covered her face with her
hands and sobbed aloud.
"Don't do so, dear sister!" Alfred said, pressing up to the bedside,
and drawing his arm around her. "Don't give way so! You won't have
to stand at the counter any longer. I am Alfred--your brother--your
long lost, but restored brother, who will care for you and work for
you as you have so long cared for and worked for him. Take courage,
dear sister! There are better and happier days for you. Do not give
up now, at the very moment when relief is at hand."
Anna looked her brother in the face for a few moments, steadily, as
her bewildered senses gradually returned, and she began to
comprehend truly what he said, and that it was indeed her brother
who stood thus before her, and thus appealed to her with
"O, Alfred," the almost heart-broken creature, said--as she bent
forward, and leaned her head upon his bosom--"Heaven be praised, if
you are really and truly in earnest in what you say!"
"I am most solemnly in earnest, dear sister!" the young man said,
with fervency and emphasis. "Since I saw you this morning, I have
signed my name to the total abstinence pledge, and I will die before
that pledge shall be broken! And that is not all. I met Charles
Williams immediately after that act, and have had a long interview
with him. He confessed to me that he had often felt that he was much
to blame for having first introduced me into dissipated company, and
that he now desired to aid me in reforming and assisting my mother
and sisters, if I would only try and abandon my past evil courses. I
responded most gladly to his generous interest, and he then told me,
that if I would enter his and his father's store as a clerk, he
would make my salary at once a thousand dollars per annum. Of course
I assented to the arrangement with thankfulness. Dear mother! Dear
sisters! There is yet, I trust, a brighter day in store for you."
"May our Heavenly Father cause these good resolutions to abide for
ever, my son!" Mrs. Graham, who had followed her children up stairs,
said, with tearful earnestness.
"He will cause them to abide, mother, I know that he, will," Alfred
Just at that moment some one entered below--immediately after quick
feet ascended the stairs, and Ellen bounded into the room.
"O, I have such good news to tell!" she exclaimed, panting for
breath as she entered. "My husband has joined the reformers! I felt
so glad that I had to run over and let you know. O, aint it good
news, indeed!" And the poor creature clapped her hands together in
an ecstacy of delight.
"It is truly good news, my child," Mrs. Graham said, as she drew her
arm about the neck of Ellen. "And we too have glad tidings. Alfred
has joined them also, and has got a situation at a thousand dollars
Ellen, who had always loved her brother, tenderly, notwithstanding
his vile habit of life, turned quickly towards him, and flinging her
arms about his neck, said while the tears gushed from her eyes,
"Dear brother! I have never wholly despaired of this hour. Truly, my
cup of joy is full and running over!"
It was about eleven o'clock on the next day, as Mary and her mother
sat conversing by the side of the bed upon which lay Anna, now too
ill to sit up, that a knock was heard below. Mrs. Graham went down
and opened the door, when an elegantly dressed lady entered, calling
her by name as she did so, at the same time asking for Anna and
She was shown up stairs by the mother, who did not recognise her,
although both voice and face seemed familiar. On entering the
chamber, Mary turned to her and exclaimed--
"Mary Williams! Is it possible!"
"And Mary Graham, is it indeed possible that I see you
thus!"--(kissing her)" And Anna--is that pale, worn face, the face of
my old friend and companion, Anna Graham?" And she bent down over
the bed and kissed the lips and cheek of the sick girl, tenderly,
while her eyes grew dim with tears. "How changed in a few short
years!" she added, as she took a proffered chair. "Who could have
dreamed, seven years ago, that we should ever meet thus!"
In a short time, as the first shock and surprise of meeting passed
off, Mary Williams, or rather Mrs. Harwood, entered into a serious
conversation with Mrs. Graham, and her daughters, in reference to
the past, the present, and the future. After learning all that she
could of their history since their father's failure, which was
detailed without disguise by Mary--Anna was too feeble to
converse--Mrs. Harwood turned to Mary and asked suddenly--
"Do you know this cape, Mary?" alluding to one she had on.
"O, yes--very well."
"You worked it, did you not?"
"For what price?"
"Is it possible! I bought it of Mrs.--for French, and paid her for
it fifteen dollars."
"Fifteen dollars!" ejaculated Mary, in surprise. "How shamefully
that woman has imposed upon me! During the last two years, I have
worked at least one hundred capes for her, each of which brought me
in only two dollars. No doubt she has regularly sold them for French
goods, at from ten to fifteen dollars apiece."
"No doubt of it. I, myself, have bought several from her during that
time at high prices, all of which may have been worked by you. I saw
you in her store a few days ago, but did not recognise you, although
your appearance, as it did several times here before, attracted my
attention. I had my suspicions, after I had learned from Mrs.--who
you were, that you had wrought this cape, and from having overheard
you ask her for an advance of six dollars, as the price of three
capes, was pretty well satisfied that two dollars was all you
received for it. I at once determined to seek you out, and try to
aid you in your severe struggle with the world. It was only last
evening that I learned from my brother where you lived--and I also
learned, what rejoiced my heart, that there was about occurring a
favourable change in your circumstances. If, however, your health
should permit, and your inclination prompt you to do so, I will take
care that you get a much better price for any capes that you may
hereafter work. They are richly worth ten and twelve dollars apiece,
and at that price, I have no doubt but that I can get sales for
"Bless you, Mary! Bless you!" Anna said, smiling through gushing
tears, as she rose up in the bed, and bent over towards her old
friend and companion. "Your words have fallen upon my heart like a
Mrs. Harwood came forward, and received the head of Anna upon her
bosom, while she drew an arm round her waist, and bent down and
pressed her with tenderness and affection.
A better day had truly dawned upon this ruined and deeply afflicted
family. Mrs. Harwood and her brother continued to be their steady
friends. For a year Alfred remained in his new situation as an
efficient clerk, and at the end of that time had his salary
advanced. During that period, Mary, and Anna, whose health had
become measurably restored, employed all their spare time in
embroidery, which, at the excellent prices which, through the aid of
Mrs. Harwood, they were enabled to get for their really beautiful
work, brought in a handsome addition to their brother's earnings,
and this enabled them to live in independence, comfort and
respectability. As for Ellen, her husband had become truly a
reformed man, and provided for her comfortably.
It is now nearly two years since this happy change took place, and
there is every appearance that another and a still happier one is
about to occur in reference to Anna. Charles Williams is seen very
often, of late, riding out with her and attending her to public
places. The reader can easily guess the probable result. If there;
is not a wedding-party soon, then appearances, in this case at
least, are very deceptive.
THE RUM-SELLER'S DREAM.
"HOW much have you taken in to-day, Sandy?" asked a modern
rum-seller of his bar-tender, after the doors and windows of his
attractive establishment were closed for the night.
"Only about a dollar, Mr. Graves. I never saw such dull times in my
"Only about a dollar! Too bad! too bad! I shall be ruined at this
"I really don't know what ails the people now. But 'spose it's these
blamenation temperance folks that's doin' all the mischief."
"We must get up something new, Sandy;--something to draw attention
to our house."
"So I've been a thinkin'. Can't we get George Washington Dixon to
walk a plank for us? That would draw crowds, you know; and then
every feller almost that we got in here would take a drink."
"We can't get him, Sandy. He's secured over at the--. But, any
how, the people are getting up to that kind of humbuggery; and I'm
afraid, that, like the Indian's gun, it would cost in the end more
than it came to."
"Couldn't we get a maremaid?"
"Yes, a maremaid. You know they had one in town t'other day. It
would be a prime move, if we could only do it. We might fix her up
here, just back of where I stand, so that every feller who called to
see it would have to come up to the bar, front-face. There'd be no
backing out then, you know, without ponying up for a drink. No one
would be mean enough, after seeing a real maremaid for nothing, to
go away without shelling out a fip for a glass of liquor."
"Nonsense, Sandy! Where are we to get a mermaid?"
"Where did they get that one from?"
"That was brought from Japan; and was a monkey's head and body sewed
on to a fish's tail,--so they say;"
"Well, can't we send to Japan as well as any one? And as to its
being a monkey's head on a fish's tail, that's no concern. It would
only make a better gull-trap."
"And wait some two years before it arrived? Humph! If that's the
only thing that will save me, I shall go to the dogs in spite of
"Don't swear, Mr. Graves. It's a bad habit, though I am guilty of it
myself,"--the bar-tender said, with vulgar familiarity. "But, why
need we wait two years for a maremaid?"
"Did you ever study geography, Sandy?"
"Why, the maps, at school."
"I warn't never to school."
"Then you don't know how far Japan is from here?"
"Not exactly. But 'spose it's some twenty or thirty miles."
"Twenty or thirty miles! It's t'other side of the world!"
"O, dear! Then we can't get a maremaid, after all. But 'spose we try
and get a live snake."
"That won't do."
"A live snake is no great curiosity."
"Yes, but you know we could call it some outlandish name; or say
that it was dug up fifty feet below the ground, out of a solid rock,
and was now all alive and doin' well."
"It wouldn't do, Sandy."
"Now I think it would, prime."
"It might if these temperance folks were not so confounded thick
about here, interfering with a man and preventing him making an
honest living. If it wasn't for them, I should be clearing five or
ten dollars a day, as easy as nothing."
"Confound them! I say," was Sandy's hearty response; while he
clenched his fist, and ground his teeth together. "If I had a rope
round the necks of every mother's son of 'em, wouldn't I serve 'em
as old Julus Cesar did the Hottentots? Wouldn't I though! But what
could they say or do about it, Mr. Graves."
"They'd pretty quick put it on to us in their temperance papers
about the good device we had. They'd talk pretty fast about the
serpent that seduced Eve, and all that. No, blast 'em! A snake won't
"How will a monkey do?"
"A monkey might answer, if he was a little cuter than common. But we
can't get one handy."
"Try a band of music."
"That would soon wear out; and then we should have to get up
something else, and the people would suspect us of trying to gull
"Then what is to be done, Mr. Graves? We can never stand it at this
"I'm sure I don't know." And the rum-seller leaned upon his bar, and
looked quite sad and dejected.
"I wonder what has become of Bill Riley?" he at length asked, rising
up with a sigh. "He hasn't been here for a week."
"Dick Hilton told me to-day that he believed he had joined the
"I feared as much. He was one of my very best customers; worth a
clear dollar and a half a week to me, above the cost of the liquors,
the year round. And Tom Jones? Where can he be?"
"Tom Jones?" in surprise.
"It's a fact. They got him on the same night Bill Riley was caught."
"Foolish fellow, to go and throw himself away in that style! Them
temperance men will get from him every dollar he can earn, to build
Temperance Halls, and get up processions, and buy clothes for lazy,
loafing vagabonds, that had a great sight better be sent to the
poorhouse. It is too bad. My very blood boils when I think what
fools men are."
"And there's Harry Peters,--Dick Hilton told me that he'd gone,
"Not Harry Peters, surely!"
"Yes. He hasn't been near our house for several days.
"Well, something must be done to get up a new set of customers, or
we are gone. We must invent some new drink."
"What shall it be?"
"O, that's no consequence. The name must be taking."
"Have you thought of one?"
"No, Can't you think of something?"
"Well--Let me see. But I'm sure I don't know what would do."
"What do you think of 'Bank Stock?' That would attract attention."
"I can't say that I like it."
"Most too vulgar."
"So I think myself. Suppose we call it a 'Mummy?'"
"I'm afraid it wouldn't go. It ought to have 'Imperial,' or
'Nectar,' or something like that about it."
"O, yes, I see your notion. But they've all been used up long ago.
It must be some entirely new name, which, at the same time, will hit
a popular idea. As 'Tariff,' or 'Compromise.'"
"I see now. Well, can't you hammer out something?"
"I must try. Let me see. How will 'Sub-Treasury' do?"
"Capital! 'Graves' Sub-Treasury' will be just the thing. You see,
the young-fellows will say--'Why, what kind of a new drink is this
they've been getting up, down at the Harmony House?'
"'I don't know--What is it?'
"'The Sub-Treasury, they call it.'
"'Have you tried it yet?'
"'Well, come, let's give him a call. Novelty, you know, is the order
of the day.'
"That's the way these matters work, Mr. Graves. But how are you
going to make it?"
"I've not thought of that. But anything will do. Liquor tastes good
to 'em any way you choose to fix it."
"True enough. You can leave that part to me. I'll hatch up something
that will tickle as it goes down, and make 'em wish their throats
were a mile long, that they might taste it all the way."
"Have you tried Graves' new drink yet, Joe?" asked one young man of
another, a day or two after the conversation just noted took place.
"No.--What is it?"
"Sub-Treasury? That must be something new. I wonder what it is?"
"I've just been wondering the same thing. Suppose we go down and try
"I was about swearing off from ever tasting another drop of liquor.
But, I believe I will try a 'Sub-Treasury' with you, just for the
fun of the thing."
"Well, come along then."
And so the two started off for the Harmony House.
"Give us a couple of Sub-Treasuries," said one of them as they
entered; and forthwith a couple of glasses filled with mixed
liquors, crushed ice, lemonpeel, and snow-white sugar, were
prepared, and a straw placed in each, through which the young men
"imbibed" the new compound.
"Really, this is fine, Nelson!" said the one, called Joe, smacking
"It is, indeed. You'll make your fortune out of this, Graves."
"Do you think so?" the pleased liquor-seller responded, with a broad
smile of satisfaction.
"I've not the least doubt of it," Joe, or Joseph Bancroft, said,--"I
had half resolved to join the temperance society this day. But your
'Sub-Treasury' has shaken my resolution. I shall never be able to do
it now in this world, nor in the next, either, if I can only get you
in the same place with me to make 'Sub-Treasury!' Ha! ha! ha!"
"A Sub-Treasury," said another young man, coming up to the bar.
"Here, landlord, let us have one of your--what do you call 'em? O,
Sub-Treasuries!" was the request of another.
"Hallo, Sandy! What new-fangled stuff is this you've got?" broke in
a half-drunken creature, staggering up, and holding on to the
bar-railing. "Let us have one, will you?"
Both Sandy and Graves were now kept as busy as they could be, mixing
liquors and serving customers. The advertisement which had been
inserted in two or three of the morning papers, in the following
words, had answered fully the rum-sellers' expectations.
"Drop in at the HARMONY HOUSE, and try a 'Sub-Treasury.' 'What is a
Sub-Treasury?' you ask. Come and see for yourself, and taste for
yourself. Old Graves' word for it, you'll never want anything else
to wet your whistle with, as long as you live."
All through the forenoon the run was kept up steadily, dozens of new
faces appearing at the bar, and cheering the heart of the
tavern-keeper with the prospect of a fresh set of customers. About
two o'clock, succeeded a pause.
"That works admirably,--don't it, Sandy?" said Mr. Graves, as soon
as the bar-room was perfectly clear, for the first time, since
"Indeed, it does. They havn't given me time to blow. But aint some
folks easily gulled?"
"Easily enough, Sandy. This Sub-Treasury they think something
wonderful. But it's only rum after all, by another name, and in a
little different form. A 'cobbler,' or a 'julep' has lost its
attractions; but get up some new name for an old compound, and you
go all before the wind again."
"I think we might tempt some of the new converts to temperance with
this. Bill Riley, for instance."
"No doubt. I'll see if I can't come across Bill; he is too good a
customer to lose."
And so saying, Mr. Graves retired from the bar-room, to get his
dinner, feeling better satisfied with himself than he had been for a
long time. After eating heartily, and drinking freely, he went into
his handsomely furnished parlour, and reclined himself upon a sofa,
thinking still, and with a pleasurable emotion that warmed his
bosom, of the success of his expedient to draw custom. He had been
lying down, it seemed to him, but a few moments, when a tap at the
door, to which he responded with a loud "come in," was followed by
the entrance of a thin, pale, haggard-looking creature, her clothes
soiled, and hanging loosely, and in tatters about her attenuated
body. By the hand she held a little girl, from whose young face had
faded every trace of childhood's happy expression. She, too, was
thin and pale, and had a fixed, stony look, of hopeless suffering.
They came up to where he still lay upon the sofa, and stood looking
down upon him in silence.
"Who are you? What do you want?" the rum-seller ejaculated, raising
himself up with a strange feeling about his heart.
"The wife and child of one of your victims! He is dying, and wishes
to see you."
"Who is he? What is his name?" asked the tavern-keeper, while his
face grew pale, and his lips quivered.
"William Riley," was the mournful reply.
"Go home, woman! Go home! I cannot go with you! What good can I do
"You must go! You shall go!" shrieked the wretched being, suddenly
grasping the arm of Mr. Graves, with a tight grip, while her hand
seemed to burn his arm, as if it were a hand of fire.
A sudden and irresistible impulse to obey the call of the dying man
came over him, and as he arose mechanically, the mother and her
child turned towards the door, and he followed after them. On
emerging into the street, he became conscious of a great and sudden
change in external nature. On retiring from his bar an hour before,
the sun was shining in a sky of spotless beauty. Now the heavens
were shrouded in dense masses of black clouds that were whirling
here and there in immense eddies, or careering across the sky as if
driven by a fierce and mighty wind. But below, all was hushed and
pulseless as the grave; and the stagnant air felt like the hot
vapour over an immense furnace. The tavern-keeper would have paused
and returned so soon as he became conscious of this fearful change,
portending the approach of a wild storm; but his conductors seemed
to know his thoughts; and turning, each fixed upon him a stern and
threatening look, whose strange power he could neither resist nor
"Come," said the mother in a hollow, husky voice; and then turned
and moved on again, while the tavern-keeper followed impulsively.
They had proceeded thus, for only a few paces, when a fierce light
glanced through half the sky, followed by a deafening crash, under
the concussion of which the earth trembled as if shaken to its very
centre. The tavern-keeper again paused in shrinking irresolution,
and again the woman's emphatic,
"Come!" caused him to follow his guides mechanically.
Soon the storm burst over their heads, and raged with a wild fury,
such as he had never before witnessed. The wind howled through the
streets and alleys of the city, with the roar of thunder; while the
deep reverberations following every broad sheet of lightning that
blazed through the whole circle of the heavens, was as the roar of a
dissolving universe. Amid all this, the rain fell like a deluge. But
the rum-seller's guides paused not, and he kept steadily onwards
after them, shrinking now into the shelter of the houses, and now
breasting the fierce storm with a momentary desperate resolution.
Through street after street, lined on either side with wretched
tenements that seemed tottering and just ready to fall, and through
alley after alley, where squalid misery had hid itself from the eye
of general observation, did they pass, in what seemed to Mr. Graves
an interminable succession; At last the woman and her child paused
at the door of an old, wretched-looking frame house, that appeared
just ready to sink to the ground with decay.
"This is the place, sir. Come in! Your victim would see you before
he dies," the woman said in a deep voice that made a chill run
through every nerve, at the same time that she looked him sternly
and with an expression of malignant triumph in the face.
Unable to resist the impulse that drove him onward, the rum-seller
entered the house.
"See there, sir! Look! Behold the work of your own hands!" exclaimed
the woman with startling emphasis, as he found himself in a room,
with a few old rags in one corner of it for a bed, upon which lay,
in the last sad agonies of dissolution, his old customer, Bill
Riley, who, he had been that day informed by his bar-keeper, had
joined the temperance society.
"There, sir! See there!" she continued, grasping his arm, and
dragging him up to where the miserable wretch lay. "Look at
him!--Bill--Bill!" she continued, stooping down, while she still
held tightly the rum-seller's arm, and shaking the dying man.
"Bill--Bill! Here he is. You said you wanted to see him! Now curse
him, Bill! Curse him with your dying breath!" And the woman's voice
rose to a wild shriek.
The wretch, thus rudely and suddenly called back from the brink of
death into a painful consciousness of existence, half rose up, and
stared wildly around him for a moment or two.
"Here he is, Bill! Here he is!" resumed his wife, again shaking him
"Who? Who?" inquired the dying man.
"Why, the rum-seller, who robbed you of your hard earnings, that he
might roll in wealth and feast daily on luxuries, while your wife
and children were starving! Here he is. Curse him now, with your
dying breath! Curse him, I say, Bill Riley! Curse him!"
"Who? Who?" eagerly asked the wretched being, a thrill of new life
seeming to flash through his exhausted frame--"Old Graves? Where is
"Here he is, Bill! Here he is! Don't you see him?"
"Ah, yes! I see him now!" And Riley fixed his eyes, that seemed, to
the rum-seller, to burn and flash like balls of fire, sending off
vivid scintillations, upon him with a long and searching stare.
"Ah, yes," he continued, "this is old Graves, the rum-seller, who
has sent more men to hell, and more widows and orphans to the
poor-house, than any other man living. How do you do, sir?" rising
up still more in his bed, and grasping the unwilling hand of the
tavern-keeper, which he clenched hard, and shook with superhuman
strength. "How are you, old fellow? I'm glad to see you once more in
this world. We shall have a jolly time in the next, though, shan't
A smile of malignant triumph flitted for a moment over the livid
face of Riley. Then its expression brightened into one of
"Look here," he said, and brought his lips close to the ear of
Graves. Then in a deep whisper, he breathed the words,
The rum-seller started, suddenly, and grew paler than ever.
Instantly a loud, unearthly laugh rang through the room, causing the
blood to curdle about his heart.
"Ha! ha! ha! I thought that chord could be touched! Ha! ha! That was
a capital idea, wasn't it, old fellow? But you were too late for
Bill Riley. You thought the temperance men had him. But that was a
The sweat already stood in large drops on the pale face of the
tavern-keeper, and his limbs trembled like the quivering aspen.
"Horrible!" he murmured, closing his eyes, to shut out the scene.
"Not half so horrible as the place where I was, just before you came
in, Mr. Graves," said Riley in a calmer voice. "And where do you
think that was?"
"In hell, I suppose," replied the rum-seller, with the energy of
"Exactly," was the calm reply. "And what do you think I heard and
saw there? Let me tell you. I was dead for a little while, and found
myself in strange quarters, as you will say, when you get there. I
always thought devils had long tails, and cloven feet, horns, and
all that kind of thing. But that's a vulgar error. They are nothing
but wicked men like you, who in this world have taken delight in
injuring others. You will make a first-rate devil! Ha! ha! I heard
'em say so, and wishing you were only there to help them work out
their evil intentions.
"There are a great many little hells there, all grouped into one
immense hell, like societies here, grouped into one larger society
or nation. And there, as here, every smaller society is engaged in
doing some particular thing, and all are in one society who love to
do that thing. As for instance, all who, while here, have taken
delight in theft, are there associated together, and are all the
while busy in inventing reasons to put into the heads of thieves
here to justify them in stealing. Murderers, in like manner; and so
rum-sellers. They have a hell all filled with rum-sellers there! I
was let into it for a little while to see what was going on, and who
do you think I saw there. Why, old Adams, that died about a month
ago. The old fellow was as lively as a cricket, and as busy as a
"'How is that prime old chap, Graves?' he asked of me, as soon as he
found out I was there.
"'I havn't seen him for a week,' I replied. 'I have been sick for
"'But he's a rum 'un, though, ain't he?' chuckled Adams. 'Many a
scheme he and I have laid to get money out of the grog-drinkers. But
he was always ahead of me. I used, in my early days, to feel a
little compunction when I saw a clever fellow going to ruin. But it
never affected him in the least. All was fish that came into his
net. I wish we had him with us. We want just such scheming devils as
he to help us devise ways and means to circumvent these temperance
men. They'll ruin us, if we don't look out. How were they coming on
when you left?'
"'Carrying everything before them,' I said. 'The rum-sellers are
almost driven to their wit's ends for devices to get customers.'
"'Too bad! Too bad!' ejaculated old Adams. 'I'll turn hell upside
down, but what I'll beat them out.'
"'You'll have to do your prettiest, then, let me tell you, old
fellow,' I rejoined, 'for the temperance cause is going with a
perfect rush. It is a mighty torrent whose course, neither men nor
devils can stay. It moves onward with a power and majesty that
astonishes the world,--and onward it will move, until your hell of
rum-makers and rum-sellers will not be able to find a single point
through which to flow into the world and tempt men with your
"O, if you had heard the horrid yell of malignancy which arose, and
echoed through the black chamber of that region of wickedness and
misery, it would have made you shrink into nothingness with terror.
They fairly gnashed on me with their teeth in impotent rage. At
length old Adams got upon a whiskey-still--they have such things in
hell--the pattern was got from there when introduced here, and made
a speech to his associates. From what he said, I found that he had
minute information of all that was going on in this region.
"'Old Graves,' he said--'our very best man, has already been so
reduced in his business by this accursed temperance movement, that
he has recently thought seriously of giving up. This must not be. We
cannot lose him. No mind receives our suggestions more readily than
his.--If he gives up, we lose a host. You all know, that our
influence on earth is powerless, unless we have men to carry out our
plans. If they will not listen to our suggestion--if they will not
become our agents, we can do nothing there. As spiritual existences,
we cannot affect that which is corporeal, except through the
spiritual united with the corporeal--that is, through spiritual
bodies in material bodies. In other words, we can act on men's
minds, and they can do our works on earth for us. Now, seeing that
we can do nothing to stop this temperance movement, except through
the self-love of the rum-sellers and rum-makers, it will never do to
let old Graves fall. We must help him to some new scheme by which to
bring back his diminished custom. Now what shall it be?'
"'Some device that will call attention to his bar-room, is what is
wanted,' remarked one.
"Yes, that is plain enough,' replied old Adams, who seemed to be a
kind of head devil there--'but what shall it be? That's the
"'Suppose we put him up to getting a woman to walk a plank,'
"'No. That has been tried already; and if it is tried again so soon,
these temperance men will cry, humbug!'
"'How would it do for him to get a pretty girl behind his bar.'
"'That might do. But then, his wife is a sort of religious woman,
and wouldn't let him do it.'
"Couldn't we induce him to poison her, and so get her out of the
"'No--That's out of the question. He kind of likes the woman too
well for that.'
"'What, then, do you suggest?'
"'Some new drink will be the thing. Something that will tickle the
ear at the same time that it tickles the palate. It will be a great
thing, if, in this matter, we can kill two birds with one stone.
Bring back by some new attraction the wavering ones, and turn the
tide of custom in the direction of our very particular friend Mr.
"'Have you thought of a name for it?'
"'How would Ambrosia do?' suggested one.
"'Not at all,' replied old Adams. 'It aint the thing to catch gulls
now-a-days. And more than that, it isn't something new.'
"'What do you think of Harlequinade?'
"'That might answer; but it's been used, already.'
"'The same objection.'
"'Good, but stale.'
"'No'--And Adams shook his head emphatically.
"'Been used already.'
"'What do you think of Elevator?'
"'That might do; but still I can't exactly say that I like it. It
should be something to strike the popular idea.'
"That's it, exactly! Sub-Treasury--Sub-Treasury. Let it be called
Sub-Treasury! And now, as I have more power over Graves than any of
you, let me have the managing of him.' And so saying, Adams seemed
to go away, and remain, for a day or two. When he came back, all the
devils gathered around him full of interest to hear of his success.
They greeted him, first, with three wild, infernal cheers, full of
malignant pleasure, and then asked,
"'What news? What news from earth?'
"'Glorious!' was his response. And then another wild yell of triumph
"'I found Graves,' he went on, 'just the same pliant fool that he
has ever been. He fell into my suggestions at once, and on the very
next day advertised his 'Sub-Treasury.' It took like a charm. I
could tell you of a dozen young fellows just about being caught by
the teetootallers, who couldn't withstand the new temptation. There
was one in particular. His name is Joe Bancroft. Only married about
three years, and almost at the bottom of the hill already. On the
day before 'Sub-Treasury' was announced, he came home sober, for the
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