THE HOME MISSION.
T. S. ARTHUR.
A VISION OF CONSOLATION
POWER OF KINDNESS
BEAR AND FORBEAR
THE SOCIAL SERPENT
THE YOUNG MOTHER
THE GENTLE WARNING
"MY FORTUNE'S MADE"
THE GOOD MATCH
THE BROTHER'S TEMPTATION
THE HOME OF TASTE
THE TWO SISTERS
THE EVENING PRAYER
A PEEVISH DAY, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE ON THE PATH OF A MONEY-LENDER
ENGAGED AT SIXTEEN
THE LOVE SECRET
IF it were possible to trace back to their beginnings, in each
individual, those good or evil impulses that have become ruling
affections, in most cases the origin would not be found until we had
reached the home of childhood. Here it is that impressions are made,
which become lasting as existence itself. But the influence of home
is not alone salutary or baneful in early years. Wherever a home
exists, there will be found the nursery of all that is excellent in
social or civil life, or of all that is deformed. Every man and
woman we meet in society, exhibit, in unmistakable characters, the
quality of their homes. The wife, the husband, the children, the
guest, bear with them daily a portion of the spirit pervading the
little circle from which they have come forth. If the sun shines
there, a light will be on their countenances; but shadows, if clouds
are in the sky of home. If there be disorder, defect of principle,
discord among the members, neglect of duty, and absence of kind
offices, the sphere of those who constitute that home can hardly be
salutary. They will add little to the common stock of good in the
social life around them. We need not say how different will be the
influence of those whose home-circle is pervaded by higher, purer,
and truer principles.
A word to the wise is, we are told, sufficient. He, therefore, who
speaks a true word in the ear of the wise, has planted a seed that
will surely spring up and yield good fruit. May we hope that all
into whose hands this little book is destined to come are wise, and
that the few suggestive words spoken therein, as "hints to make home
happy," will fall into good ground. If this be so, "The Home
Mission" will not be fruitless. Though no annual reports of what it
has accomplished are made, its silent and unobtrusive work, we
trust, will be none the less effectual.
THE HOME MISSION.
A VISION OF CONSOLATION.
THE tempest of grief which, for a time, had raged so wildly in the
heart of Mrs. Freeland, exhausted by its own violence, sobbed itself
away, and the stricken mother passed into the land of dreams.
To the afflicted, sleep comes with a double blessing—rest is given
to the wearied body and to the grieving spirit. Often, very often,
the Angel of Consolation bends to the dreaming ear, and whispers
words of hope and comfort that from no living lips had yet found
And it was so now with the sleeping mother. A few hours only had
passed since she stood looking down, for the last time, on the fair
face of her youngest born. Over his bright, blue eyes, into whose
heavenly depths she had so loved to gaze, the pale lids had closed
for ever. Still lingered around his lips the smile left there by the
angels, as, with a kiss of love, they received his parting spirit.
In the curling masses of his rich, golden hair, the shadows nestled
away, as of old, while his tiny fingers held a few white blossoms,
as with a living grasp. Was it death or sleep? So like a sleeping
child the sweet boy lay, that it seemed every moment as if his lips
would unclose, his eyes open to the light, and his voice come to the
listening ear with its tones of music.
If to the mother had come this illusion, it remained not long. Wild
with grief, she turned away as the sweet face she had so loved to
gaze upon was hidden from her straining eyes for ever.
Hidden from her eyes, did we say? Only hidden from her natural eyes.
Still he was before the eyes of her spirit in all his living beauty.
But, to her natural affections, he was lost—even as he had faded
from before her natural eyes; and, in the agony of bereavement, it
seemed that her heart would break. Back to her darkened chamber she
went. Her nearest and dearest friends gathered around, seeking
lovingly to sustain her in her great affliction; but she refused to
At length, as at first said, the tempest of grief, which, for a
time, raged so violently in the heart of Mrs. Freeland, sobbed
itself away, and the stricken mother passed into the land of dreams.
For the most part, dreams are fantastic. Yet they are not always so.
In states of deep sorrow or strong trial, when the heart turns from
the natural world, hopeless of aid or consolation, truth often comes
in dreams and similitudes.
The mother found herself in the company of two beautiful maidens, in
the very flower of youth; and as she gazed earnestly into their
faces, which seemed transparent from an inward celestial light, she
saw expectation therein—loving expectation. They stood beneath the
eastern portico of a pleasant dwelling, around which stately
trees—the branches vocal with the song of feathered
minstrels—lifted their green tops far up into the crystal air.
Flowers of a thousand hues and sweet odours were woven into forms
and figures of exquisite beauty upon the carpet of living green
spread over the teeming earth, while groups of little children
sported one with another, and mingled their happy voices with the
melody of birds.
Yet, amid all this external joy and beauty, the hand of grief still
lay upon the mother's heart; and when she looked upon the sportive
infants around her, she sighed for her own babe. Even as she sighed,
one of the maidens turned to her and said, while her whole
countenance was lit up with a glow of delight—
"It has come. A new babe is born unto heaven."
And, as she spoke, she gathered her arms quickly to her bosom, and
the wondering mother saw lying thereon her own child. The other
maiden was already bending over the infant—already had she greeted
its coming with a kiss of love. Quickly both retired within the
dwelling, and the bereaved mother went with them, eager to receive
the babe she had lost.
"Oh, my child! my child!" she said. "Give me my child."
And ere the words had died upon her lips, the maiden who had
received the babe gave it into her arms, when she clasped it with a
wild delight, and rained tears of gladness upon its face.
For a time, the two maidens looked upon the mother in silence, and
in their bright countenances love and pity were blended. At length,
one of them said to her, (and she smiled sweetly, and spoke with an
exquisite, penetrating tenderness,)—
"Your heart is full of love for your babe?"
"He is dearer to me than life—dearer than a thousand lives,"
replied the mother quickly, drawing the babe closer to her bosom.
"Love seeks to bless the object of its regard."
There was a meaning in the words and tone of the maiden, as she said
this, that caused the mother to look into her face earnestly.
"This is not the land of sickness, of sorrow, of death," resumed the
maiden, "but the land of eternal life and blessedness. Into this
land your babe has been born. You are here only as a visitant, and
must soon return to bear a few more trials and pains, a few more
conflicts with evil; but the end is your preparation for these
A shadow fell instantly upon the mother's heart. Tears rushed to her
eyes, and she drew her arms more tightly about her babe.
"Shall we keep this babe in our heavenly home, or will you bear it
with you back to the dark, cold, sad regions of mortality?"
"Do not take from me my more than life!" sobbed the mother wildly.
"Oh! I cannot give you my child;" and more eagerly she hugged it to
For a time there was silence. Then one of the maidens laid gently
her hand upon the mother, and she lifted her bowed head.
"Come," said the maiden.
The mother arose, and the two walked into the open air, and passing
through the group of children sporting on the lawn and in the
gardens, went for what seemed the space of a mile, until they came
to a forest, into the depths of which they penetrated; and, for a
time, the farther they went the darker and more gloomy it became,
until scarcely a ray of light from the arching sky came down through
the dense and tangled foliage. At last they were beyond the forest.
"Look," said the companion.
The mother lifted her eyes—the babe had strangely passed from her
arms. A dwelling, familiar in aspect, stood near, and through an
open window she saw a sick child lying upon a bed, and knew it as
her own. Its little face was distorted by pain and flushed with
fever; and as it tossed restlessly to and fro, its moans filled her
ears. She stretched forth her hands, yearning to give some relief;
even as she did so, the scene faded from her view, and next she saw
an older child, bearing still the linaments of her own. There was
the same broad, white forehead and clustering curls; the same large,
bright eyes and full, ruddy lips; but, alas! not the soft vail of
innocence which had given the features of the babe such a heavenly
charm. The fine brow was contracted with passion; the eyes flashed
with an evil light; and the lips were tightly drawn, and with
something of defiance, against the teeth. The boy was resisting,
with a stern determination, the will of the parents—was setting at
naught those early salutary restraints which are the safeguard of
"Oh! my unhappy boy!" cried the mother.
The scene changed as she spoke. The boy, now grown up to manhood,
once more stood before her. Alas! how had the light of innocence
faded from his countenance, giving place to a shadow of evil, the
very darkness of which caused a cold shudder to pass through the
"Look again," said the maiden, as this scene was fading.
But the mother hid her face in her hands, and turned weeping away.
"Look again." And this time there was something so heart-cheering in
the maiden's voice, that the mother lifted her tearful eyes. She was
back again in the beautiful place from which she had gone forth a
little while before, and her babe, beautiful as innocence itself,
lay sweetly sleeping in the arms of the lovely maiden who had
received it on its first entrance into heaven. With a heart full of
joy, the mother now bent over the slumbering babe, kissing it again
"Grieving mother," said the angel-maiden, in tones of flute-like
softness, "God saw that it would not be good for your child to
remain on earth, and he therefore removed it to this celestial
region, where no evil can ever penetrate. To me, as an angel-mother,
it has been given; and I will love it and care for it with a love as
pure and tender as the love that yearns in your bosom. As its
infantile mind opens, I will pour in heavenly instruction, that it
may grow in wisdom and become an angel. Will you not let me have it
"But why may I not remain here and be its heavenly mother? Oh! I
will love and care for it with a tenderness and devotion equal to,
if not exceeding yours."
Even while the mother spoke there was a change. She saw before her
other objects of affection. There was her husband, sitting in deep
dejection, sorrowing for the loss of one who was dear as his own
life; while three children, the sight of whom stirred her maternal
heart to its profoundest depths, lay sleeping in each other's arms,
the undried tears yet glistening on their lashes.
The wife and mother stretched forth her hands toward these beloved
ones, eager to be with them again and turn their grief into
gladness. But, in a moment, there passed another change. The
pleasant home in which her children had been sheltered for years, no
longer held them; the fold had been broken up and the tender lambs
scattered. One of these little ones the mother saw, sitting apart
from a group of sportive children, weeping over some task work. The
bloom on her cheek had faded—its roundness was gone—the light of
her beautiful eyes was quenched in tears. And, as she looked, a
woman came to the child and spoke to her harshly. She was about
springing forward, when another scene was presented. Her first-born,
a noble-spirited boy, to whose future she had ever looked with pride
and pleasure, stood before her. Alas! how changed. Every thing about
him showed the want of a mother's care and considerate affection;
and from his dear, young face had already vanished the look of
joyous innocence she had so loved to contemplate.
Again the mother was in the presence of the angel-maiden, to whose
loving arms a good God had confided the babe, which, in his wisdom,
he had removed from the earth. And the angel-maiden, as she looked
first at the babe in her arms and then at the mother, smiled sweetly
"He is safe here; will you not let him remain?"
And, with a gushing heart, the mother answered, "Not for worlds
would I take him with me into the outer life of nature. Oh, no! He
is safe—let him remain."
"And you will return to those who still need your love and care?"
"Yes, yes," said the mother, earnestly. "Let me go to them again.
Let me be their angel on earth."
And she bent hastily to the heaven-born babe, kissing it with
There came now another change. The mother was back again in her
chamber of sorrow; and undried tears were yet upon her cheeks. But
she was comforted and reconciled to the great affliction which had
been sent for good from heaven.
Those who saw Mrs. Freeland in the first wild grief that followed
the loss of her babe, wondered at her serene composure when she came
again among them. And they wondered long, for she spoke not of this
Vision of Consolation. It was too sacred a thing to be revealed, to
any save the companion of her life.
THERE are few positions in social life of greater trial and
responsibility than that of a step-mother; and it too rarely happens
that the woman who assumes this position, is fitted for the right
discharge of its duties. In far too many cases, the widower is
accepted as a husband because he has a home, or a position to offer,
while the children are considered as a drawback in the bargain. But
it sometimes happens, that a true woman, from genuine affection,
unites herself with a widower, and does it with a loving regard for
his children, and with the purpose in her mind of being to them, as
far as in her power lies, a wise and tender mother.
Such a woman was Agnes Green. She was in her thirty-second year when
Mr. Edward Arnold, a widower with four children, asked her to become
his wife. At twenty-two, Agnes had loved as only a true woman can
love. But the object of that love proved himself unworthy, and she
turned away from him. None knew how deep the heart-trial through
which she passed—none knew how intensely she suffered. In part, her
pale face and sobered brow witnessed, but only in part; for many
said she was cold, and some even used the word heartless, when they
spoke of her. From early womanhood a beautiful ideal of manly
excellence had filled her mind; and with this ideal she had invested
one who proved false to the high character. At once the green things
of her heart withered and for a long time its surface was a barren
waste. But the woman was yet strong in her. She must love something.
So she came forth from her heart-seclusion, and let her affections,
like a refreshing and invigorating stream, flow along many channels.
She was the faithful friend, the comforter in affliction, the wise
counsellor. More than once had she been approached with offers of
marriage, by men who saw the excellence of her character, and felt
that upon any dwelling, in which she was the presiding spirit, would
rest a blessing. But none of them were able to give to the even
pulses of her heart a quicker motion.
At last she met Mr. Arnold. More than three years had passed since
the mother of his children was removed by death, and, since that
time, he had sought, with all a father's tenderness and devotion, to
fill her place to them. How imperfectly, none knew so well as
himself. As time went on, the want of a true woman's affectionate
care for his children was more and more felt. All were girls except
the youngest, their ages ranging from twelve downward, and this made
their mother's loss so much the more a calamity. Moreover, his
feeling of loneliness and want of companionship, so keenly felt in
the beginning, instead of diminishing, increased.
Such was his state of mind when he met Agnes Green. The attraction
was mutual, though, at first, no thought of marriage came into the
mind of either. A second meeting stirred the placid waters in the
bosom of Agnes Green. Conscious of this, and fearful lest the
emotion she strove to repress might become apparent to other eyes,
she assumed a certain reserve, not seen in the beginning, which only
betrayed her secret, and at once interested Mr. Arnold, who now
commenced a close observation of her character. With every new
aspect in which this was presented, he saw something that awakened
admiration; something that drew his spirit nearer to her as one
congenial. And not the less close was her observation.
When, at length, Mr. Arnold solicited the hand of Agnes Green, she
was ready to respond. Not, however, in a selfish and self-seeking
spirit; not in the narrow hope of obtaining some great good for
herself, was her response made, but in full view of her woman's
power to bless, and with an earnest, holy purpose in her heart, to
make her presence in his household indeed a blessing.
"I must know your children better than I know them now, and they
must know me better than they do, before I take the place you wish
me to assume," was her reply to Mr. Arnold, when he spoke of an
And so means were taken to bring her in frequent contact with the
children. The first time she met them intimately, was at the house
of a friend. Mary, the oldest girl, she found passionate and
self-willed; Florence, the second, good-natured, but careless and
slovenly; while Margaret, the third, was in ill health, and
exceedingly peevish. The little brother, Willy, was a beautiful,
affectionate child, but in consequence of injudicious management,
very badly spoiled. Take them altogether, they presented rather an
unpromising aspect; and it is no wonder that Agnes Green had many
misgivings at heart, when the new relation contemplated, and its
trials and responsibilities, were pictured to her mind.
The earnestly-asked question by Mr. Arnold, after this first
interview,—"What do you think of my children?"—was not an easy one
to answer. A selfish, unscrupulous woman, who looked to the
connection as something to be particularly desired on her own
account, and who cared little about duties and responsibilities,
might have replied, "Oh, they are lovely children!" or, "I am
delighted with them!" Not so Agnes Green. She did not reply
immediately, but mused for some moments, considerably embarrassed,
and in doubt what to say. Mr. Arnold was gazing intently in her
"They do not seem to have made a favourable impression," said he,
speaking with some disappointment in his tone and manner.
A feeble flush was visible in the face of Agnes Green, and also a
slight quiver of the lips as she answered:
"There is too much at stake, as well in your case as my own, to
warrant even a shadow of concealment. You ask what I think of your
children, and you expect me to answer truly?"
"I do," was the almost solemnly-spoken reply.
"My first hurried, yet tolerably close, observation, has shown me,
in each, a groundwork of natural good."
"As their father," replied Mr. Arnold, in some earnestness of
manner, "I know there is good in them,—much good. But they have
needed a mother's care."
"When you have said that, how much has been expressed! If the garden
is not cultivated, and every weed carefully removed, how quickly is
it overrun with things noxious, and how feeble becomes the growth of
all things good and beautiful! It is just so with the mind. Neglect
it, and bad habits and evil propensities will assuredly be quickened
into being, and attain vigorous life."
"My children are not perfect, I know, but—"
Mr. Arnold seemed slightly hurt. Agnes Green interrupted him, by
saying, in a mild voice, as she laid her hand gently upon his arm:
"Do not give my words a meaning beyond what they are designed to
convey. If I assume the place of a mother to your children, I take
upon myself all the responsibilities that the word 'mother'
involves. Is not this so?"
"Thus I understand it."
"My duty will be, not only to train these children for a happy and
useful life here, but for a happy and useful life hereafter."
"It is no light thing, Mr. Arnold, to assume the place of a mother
to children who, for three years, have not known a mother's
affectionate care. I confess that my heart shrinks from the
responsibility, and I ask myself over and over again, 'Have I the
requisite wisdom, patience, and self-denial?'"
"I believe you have," said Mr. Arnold, who was beginning to see more
deeply into the heart of Agnes. "And now," he added, "tell me what
you think of my children."
"Mary has a quick temper, and is rather self-willed, if my
observation is correct, but she has a warm heart. Florence is
thoughtless, and untidy in her person, but possesses a happy temper.
Poor Maggy's ill health has, very naturally, soured her disposition.
Ah, what can you expect of a suffering child, who has no mother?
Your little Willy is a lovely boy, somewhat spoiled—who can wonder
at this?—but possessing just the qualities to win for him kindness
from every one."
"I am sure you will love him," said Mr. Arnold, warmly.
"I have no doubt on that subject," replied Agnes Green. "And now,"
she added, "after what I have said, after showing you that I am
quick to see faults, once more give this matter earnest
consideration. If I become your wife, and take the place of a mother
to these children, I shall, at once,—wisely and lovingly, I
trust,—begin the work of removing from their minds every noxious
weed that neglect may have suffered to grow there. The task will be
no light one, and, in the beginning, there may be rebellion against
my authority. To be harsh or hard is not in my nature. But a sense
of duty will make me firm. Once more, I say, give this matter
serious consideration. It is not yet too late to pause."
Mr. Arnold bent his head in deep reflection. For many minutes he sat
in silent self-communion, and sat thus so long, that the heart of
Agnes Green began to beat with a restricted motion, as if there was
a heavy pressure on her bosom. At last Mr. Arnold looked up, his
eyes suddenly brightening, and his face flushing with animation.
Grasping her hands with both of his, he said:
"I have reflected, Agnes, and I do not hesitate. Yes, I will trust
these dear ones to your loving guardianship. I will place in your
hands their present and eternal welfare, confident that you will be
to them a true mother."
And she was. As often as it could be done before the time appointed
for the marriage, she was brought in contact with the children.
Almost from the beginning, she was sorry to find in Mary, the oldest
child, a reserve of manner, and an evident dislike toward her, which
she in vain sought to overcome. The groundwork of this she did not
know. It had its origin in a remark made by the housekeeper, who,
having learned from some gossipping relative of Mr. Arnold that a
new wife was soon to be brought home, and, also, who this new wife
was to be, made an imprudent allusion to the fact, in a moment of
"Your new mother will soon put you straight, my little lady," said
she, one day, to Mary, who had tried her beyond all patience.
"My new mother! Who's she, pray?" was sharply demanded.
"Miss Green," replied the unreflecting housekeeper. "Your father's
going to bring her home one of these days, and make her your mother,
and she'll put you all right—she'll take down your fine airs, my
"Will she?" And Mary, compressing her lips tightly, and drawing up
her slender form to its full height, looked the image of defiance.
From that moment a strong dislike toward Miss Green ruled in the
mind of Mary; and she resolved, should the housekeeper's assertion
prove true, not only to set the new authority at defiance, but to
inspire, if possible, the other children with her own feelings.
The marriage was celebrated at the house of Mr. Arnold, in the
presence of his own family and a few particular friends, Agnes
arriving at the hour appointed.
After the ceremony, the children were brought forward, and presented
to their new mother. The youngest, as if strongly drawn by invisible
chords of affection, sprung into her lap, and clasped his little
arms lovingly about her neck. He seemed very happy. The others were
cold and distant, while Mary fixed her eyes upon the wife of her
father, with a look so full of dislike and rebellion, that no one
present was in any doubt as to how she regarded the new order of
Mr. Arnold was a good deal fretted by this unexpected conduct on the
part of Mary; and, forgetful of the occasion and its claims, spoke
to her with some sternness. He was recalled to self-possession by
the smile of his wife, and her gently-uttered remark, that reached
only his own ear:
"Don't seem to notice it. Let it be my task to overcome prejudices."
During the evening Mary did not soften in the least toward her
step-mother. On the next morning, when all met, for the first time,
at the breakfast table, the children gazed askance at the calm,
dignified woman who presided at the table, and seemed ill at ease.
On Mary's lip, and in her eye, was an expression so like contempt,
that it was with difficulty her father could refrain from ordering
her to her own room.
The meal passed in some embarrassment. At its conclusion, Mr. Arnold
went into the parlour, and his wife, entering at once upon her
duties, accompanied the children to the nursery, to see for herself
that the two oldest were properly dressed for school. Mary, who had
preceded the rest, was already in contention with the housekeeper.
Just as Mrs. Arnold—so we must now call her—entered the room, Mary
"I don't care what you say, I'm going to wear this bonnet!"
"What's the trouble?" inquired Mrs. Arnold, calmly.
"Why, you see, ma'am," replied the housekeeper, "Mary is bent on
wearing her new, pink bonnet to school, and I tell her she mustn't
do it. Her old one is good enough."
"Let me see the old one," said Mrs. Arnold. She spoke in a very
pleasant tone of voice.
A neat, straw bonnet, with plain, unsoiled trimming, was brought
forth by the housekeeper, who remarked:
"It's good enough to wear Sundays, for that matter."
"I don't care if it is, I'm not going to wear it today. So don't
bother yourself any more about it."
"Oh, yes, Mary, you will," said Mrs. Arnold, very kindly, yet
"No, I won't!" was the quick, resolute answer. And she gazed,
unflinchingly, into the face of her step-mother.
"I'll call your father, my young lady! This is beyond all
endurance!" said the housekeeper, starting for the door.
"Hannah!" The mild, even voice of Mrs. Arnold checked the excited
housekeeper. "Don't speak of it to her father,—I'm sure she doesn't
mean what she says. She'll think better of it in a moment."
Mary was hardly prepared for this. Even while she stood with
unchanged exterior, she felt grateful to her step-mother for
intercepting the complaint about to be made to her father. She
expected some remark or remonstrance from Mrs. Arnold. But in this
she was mistaken. The latter, as if nothing unpleasant had occurred,
turned to Florence, and after a light examination of her dress, said
to the housekeeper:
"This collar is too much soiled; won't you bring me another?"
"Oh, it's clean enough," replied Florence, knitting her brows, and
affecting impatience. But, even as she spoke, the quick, yet gentle
hands of her step-mother had removed the collar from her neck.
"Do you think it clean enough now?" said she, as she placed the
soiled collar beside a fresh one, which the housekeeper had brought.
"It is rather dirty," replied Florence, smiling.
And now Mrs. Arnold examined other articles of her dress, and had
them changed, re-arranged her hair, and saw that her teeth were
properly brushed. While this was progressing, Mary stood a little
apart, a close observer of all that passed. One thing she did not
fail to remark, and that was the gentle firmness of her step-mother,
which was in strong contrast with the usual scolding, jerking, and
impatience of the housekeeper, as manifested on these occasions.
By the time Florence was ready for school, Mary's state of mind had
undergone considerable change, and she half regretted the exhibition
of ill temper and insulting disobedience she had shown. Yet was she
in no way prepared to yield. To her surprise, after Florence was all
ready, her step-mother turned to her and said, in a mild, cheerful
voice, as if nothing unpleasant had occurred,
"Have you a particular reason for wishing to wear your new bonnet,
this morning, Mary?"
"Yes, ma'am, I have." The voice of Mary was changed considerably,
and her eyes fell beneath the mild, but penetrating, gaze of her
"May I ask you the reason?"
There was a pause of some moments; then Mary replied:
"I promised one of the girls that I'd wear it. She asked me to. She
wanted to see it."
"Did you tell Hannah this?"
"No, ma'am. It wouldn't have been any use. She never hears to
"But you'll find me very different, Mary," said Mrs. Arnold,
tenderly. "I shall ever be ready to hear reason."
All this was so far from what Mary had anticipated, that her mind
was half bewildered. Her step-mother's clear sight penetrated to her
Taking her hand, she drew her gently to her side. An arm was then
placed lovingly around her.
"My dear child,"—it would have been a hard heart, indeed, that
could have resisted the influence of that voice, "let us understand
each other in the beginning. You seem to look upon me as an enemy,
and yet I wish to be the very best friend you have in the world. I
have come here, not as an exacting and overbearing tyrant, but to
seek your good and promote your happiness in every possible way. I
will love you; and may I not expect love in return? Surely you will
not withhold that."
As Mrs. Arnold spoke thus, she felt a slight quiver in the hand she
had taken in her own. She continued:
"I cannot hope to fill the place of your dear mother, now in heaven.
Yet even as she loved you, would I love you, my child." The voice of
Mrs. Arnold had become unsteady, through excess of feeling. "As she
bore with your faults, I will bear with them; as she rejoiced over
every good affection born in your heart, so will I rejoice."
Outraged by the conduct of Mary, the housekeeper had gone to Mr.
Arnold, whom she found in the parlour, and repeated to him, with a
colouring of her own, the insolent language his child had used. The
father hurried up stairs in a state of angry excitement. No little
surprised was he, on entering the nursery, to see Mary sobbing on
the breast of her step-mother, whose gentle hands were softly
pressed upon the child's temples, and whose low, soothing voice was
speaking to her words of comfort for the present, and cheerful hope
for the future.
Unobserved by either, Mr. Arnold stood for a moment, and then softly
retired, with a gush of thankfulness in his heart, that he had found
for his children so true and good a mother.
With Mary there was no more trouble. From that hour, she came wholly
under the influence of her step-mother, learning day by day, as she
knew her better, to love her with a more confiding tenderness.
Wonderful was the change produced on the children of Mr. Arnold in a
single year. They had, indeed, found a mother.
It is painful to think how different would have been the result, had
the step-mother not been a true woman. Wise and good she was in her
sphere; loving and unselfish; and the fruit of her hand was sweet to
the taste, and beautiful to look upon.
How few are like her! How few who assume the position of
step-mother,—a position requiring patience, long-suffering, and
unflinching self-denial,—are fitted for the duties they so lightly
take upon themselves! Is it any wonder their own lives are made, at
times, miserable, or that they mar, by passion or exacting tyranny,
the fair face of humanity, in the children committed to their care?
Such lose their reward.
POWER OF KINDNESS.
"TOM! Here!" said a father to his boy, speaking in tones of
The lad was at play. He looked toward his father, but did not leave
"Do you hear me, sir?" spoke the father, more sternly than at first.
With an unhappy face and reluctant step, the boy left his play and
approached his parent.
"Why do you creep along at a snail's pace?" said the latter,
angrily. "Come quickly, I want you. When I speak, I look to be
obeyed instantly. Here, take this note to Mr. Smith, and see that
you don't go to sleep by the way. Now run as fast as you can go."
The boy took the note. There was a cloud upon his brow. He moved
away, but at a slow pace.
"You, Tom! Is that doing as I ordered? Is that going quickly?"
called the father, when he saw the boy creeping away. "If you are
not back in half an hour, I will punish you."
But the words had but little effect. The boy's feelings were hurt by
the unkindness of the parent. He experienced a sense of injustice; a
consciousness that wrong had been done him. By nature he was like
his father, proud and stubborn; and these qualities of his mind were
aroused, and he indulged in them, fearless of consequences.
"I never saw such a boy," said the father, speaking to a friend who
had observed the occurrence. "My words scarcely make an impression
"Kind words often prove most powerful," said the friend. The father
"Kind words," continued the friend, "are like the gentle rain and
the refreshing dews; but harsh words bend and break like the angry
tempest. The first develop and strengthen good affections, while the
others sweep over the heart in devastation, and mar and deform all
they touch. Try him with kind words; they will prove a hundred fold
The latter seemed hurt by the reproof; but it left him thoughtful.
An hour passed away ere his boy returned. At times during his
absence he was angry at the delay, and meditated the infliction of
punishment. But the words of remonstrance were in his ears, and he
resolved to obey them. At last the lad came slowly in with a cloudy
countenance, and reported the result of his errand. Having stayed
far beyond his time, he looked for punishment, and was prepared to
receive it with an angry defiance. To his surprise, after delivering
the message he had brought, his father, instead of angry reproof and
punishment, said kindly, "Very well, my son; you can go out to play
The boy went out, but was not happy. He had disobeyed and disobliged
his father, and the thought of this troubled him. Harsh words had
not clouded his mind nor aroused a spirit of reckless anger. Instead
of joining his companions, he went and sat down by himself, grieving
over his act of disobedience. As he thus sat, he heard his name
called. He listened.
"Thomas, my son," said his father, kindly. The boy sprang to his
feet, and was almost instantly beside his parent.
"Did you call, father?"
"I did, my son. Will you take this package to Mr. Long for me?"
There was no hesitation in the boy's manner. He looked pleased at
the thought of doing his father a service, and reached out his hand
for the package. On receiving it, he bounded away with a light step.
"There is a power in kindness," said the father, as he sat musing,
after the lad's departure. And even while he sat musing over the
incident, the boy came back with a cheerful, happy face, and said—
"Can I do any thing else for you, father?"
Yes, there is the power of kindness. The tempest of passion can only
subdue, constrain, and break; but in love and gentleness there is
the power of the summer rain, the dew, and the sunshine.
BEAR AND FORBEAR.
"DON'T talk to me in such a serious strain, Aunt Hannah. One would
really think, from what you say, that James and I would quarrel
before we were married a month."
"Not so soon as that, Maggy dear. Heaven grant that it may not come
so soon as that! But, depend upon it, child, if you do not make
'bear and forbear' your motto, many months will not have passed,
after your wedding-day, without the occurrence of some serious
misunderstanding between you and your husband."
"If anybody else were to say that to me, Aunt Hannah, I would be
"For which you would be a very foolish girl. But it is generally the
way that good advice is taken, it being an article of which none
think they stand in need."
"But what in the world can there be for James and I to have
differences about? I am sure that I love him most truly; and I am
sure he loves me as fondly as I love him. In mutual love there can
be no strife—no emulation, except in the performance of good
offices. Indeed, aunt, I think you are far too serious."
"Over the bright sky bending above you, my dear niece, I would not,
for the world, bring a cloud even as light as the filmy, almost
viewless gossamer. But I know that clouds must hide its clear, calm,
passionless blue, either earlier or later in life. And what I say
now, is with the hope of giving you the prescience required to avoid
some of the storms that may threaten to break upon your head."
"Neither cloud nor storm will ever come from that quarter of the sky
from which you seem to apprehend danger."
"Not if both you and James learn to bear and forbear in your conduct
toward each other."
"We cannot act otherwise."
"Then there will be no danger."
Margaret Percival expressed herself sincerely. She could not believe
that there was the slightest danger of a misunderstanding ever
occurring between her and James Canning, to whom she was shortly to
be married. The well-meant warning of her aunt, who had seen and
felt more in life than she yet had, went therefore for nothing.
A month elapsed, and the young and lovely Maggy pledged her faith at
the altar. As the bride of Canning, she felt that she was the
happiest creature in the world. Before her was a path winding amid
green and flowery places, and lingering by the side of still waters;
while a sunny sky bent over all.
James Canning was a young lawyer of some talent, and the possessor
of a good income independent of his profession. Like others, he had
his excellencies and his defects of character. Naturally, he was of
a proud, impatient spirit, and, from a child, had been restless
under dictation. As an offset to this, he was a man of strict
integrity, generous in his feelings, and possessed of a warm heart.
Aunt Hannah had known him since he was a boy, and understood his
character thoroughly; and it was this knowledge that caused her to
feel some concern for the future happiness of her niece, as well as
to speak to her timely words of caution. But these words were not
"We've not quarrelled yet, Aunt Hannah, for all your fears," said
the young wife, three or four months after her marriage.
"For which I am truly thankful," replied Aunt Hannah. "Still, I
would say now, as I did before, 'Bear and forbear.'"
"That is, I must BEAR every thing and FORBEAR in every thing. I
hardly think that just, aunt. I should say that James ought to do a
little of this as well as me."
"Yes, it is his duty as well as yours. But you should not think of
his duty to you, Maggy, only of your duty to him. That is the most
dangerous error into which you can fall, and one that will be almost
certain to produce unhappiness."
"Would you have a wife never think of herself?"
"The less she thinks of herself, perhaps, the better; for the more
she thinks of herself, the more she will love herself. But the more
she thinks of her husband, the more she will love him and seek to
make him happy. The natural result of this will be, that her husband
will feel the warmth and perceive the unselfishness of her love;
this will cause him to lean toward her with still greater
tenderness, and prompt him to yield to her what otherwise he might
have claimed for himself."
"Then it is the wife who must act the generous, self-sacrificing
"If I could speak as freely to James as I can speak to you, Maggy, I
should not fail to point out his duty of bearing and forbearing, as
plainly as I point out yours. All should be mutual, of course. But
this can never be, if one waits for the other. If you see your duty,
it is for you to do it, even if he should fail in his part."
"I don't know about that, aunt. I think, as you said just now, that
all this is mutual."
"I am sorry you cannot or will not understand me, Maggy," replied
"I am sorry too, aunt; but I certainly do not. However, don't, pray,
give yourself any serious concern about James and me. I assure you
that we are getting along exceedingly well; and why this should not
continue is more than I can make out."
"Well, dear, I trust that it may. There is no good reason why it
should not. You both have virtues enough to counterbalance all
defects of character."
On the evening of that very day, as the young couple sat at the
tea-table, James Canning said, as his wife felt, rather unkindly, at
the same time that there was a slight contraction of his brow—
"You seem to be very much afraid of your sugar, Maggy. I never get a
cup of tea or coffee sweet enough for my taste."
"You must have a sweet palate. I am sure it is like syrup, for I put
in several large lumps of sugar," replied Margaret, speaking in a
slightly offended tone.
"Taste it, will you?" said Canning, pushing his cup across the table
with an impatient air.
Margaret sipped a little from the spoon, and then, with an
expression of disgust in her face, said—
"Pah! I'd as lief drink so much molasses. But here's the sugar bowl.
Sweeten it to your taste."
Canning helped himself to more sugar. As he did so his wife noticed
that his hand slightly trembled, and also that his brow was drawn
down, and his lips more arched than usual.
"It's a little matter to get angry about," she thought to herself.
"Things are coming to a pretty pass, if I'm not to be allowed to
The meal was finished in silence. Margaret felt in no humour to
break the oppressive reserve, although she would have been glad,
indeed, to have heard a pleasant word from the lips of her husband.
As for Canning, he permitted himself to brood over the words and
manner of his wife, until he became exceedingly fretted. They were
so unkind and so uncalled for. The evening passed unsocially. But
morning found them both in a better state of mind. Sleep has a
wonderful power in restoring to the mind its lost balance, and in
calming down our blinding passions. During the day, our thoughts and
feelings, according with our natural state, are more or less marked
by the disturbances that selfish purposes ever bring; but in sleep,
while the mind rests and our governing ends lie dormant, we come
into purer spiritual associations, and the soul, as well as the
body, receives a healthier tone.
The morning, therefore, found Canning and his wife in better states
of mind. They were as kind and as affectionate as usual in their
words and conduct, although, when they sat down to the breakfast
table, they each experienced a slight feeling of coldness on being
reminded, too sensibly, of the unpleasant occurrence of the previous
evening. Margaret thought she would be sure to please her husband in
his coffee, and therefore put into his cup an extra quantity of
sugar, making it so very sweet that he could with difficulty swallow
it. But a too vivid recollection of what had taken place on the
night before, caused him to be silent about it. The second cup was
still sweeter. Canning managed to sip about one-third of this, but
his stomach refused to take any more. Noticing that her husband's
coffee, an article of which he was very fond, stood, nearly
cup-full, beside his plate, after he had finished his breakfast,
"Didn't your coffee suit you?"
"It was very good; only a little too sweet."
"Then why didn't you say so?" she returned, in a tone that showed
her to be hurt at this reaction upon what she had said on the
previous evening. "Give me your cup, and let me pour you out some
"No, I thank you, Margaret, I don't care about any more."
"Yes, you do. Come, give me your cup. I shall be hurt if you don't.
I'm sure there is no necessity for drinking the coffee, if not to
your taste. I don't know what's come over you, James."
"And I'm sure I don't know what's come over you," Canning thought,
but did not say. He handed up his cup, as his wife desired. After
filling it with coffee, she handed it back, and then reached him the
sugar and cream.
"Sweeten it to your own taste," she said, a little fretfully; "I'm
sure I tried to make it right."
Canning did as he was desired, and then drank the coffee, but it was
with the utmost difficulty that he could do so.
This was the first little cloud that darkened the sky of their
wedded life; And it did not fairly pass away for nearly a week. Nor
then did the days seem as bright as before. The cause was
slight—very slight—but how small a thing will sometimes make the
heart unhappy. How trifling are the occurrences upon which we often
lay, as upon a foundation, a superstructure of misery! Had the
earnestly urged precept of Aunt Hannah been regarded,—had the
lesson—"Bear and Forbear," been well learned and understood by
Margaret, this cloud had never dimmed the sun of their early love. A
pleasant word, in answer to her husband's momentary impatience,
would have made him sensible that he had not spoken with propriety,
and caused him to be more careful in future. As it was, both were
more circumspect, but it was from pride instead of love,—and more
to protect self than from a tender regard for each other.
Only a month or two passed before there was another slight
collision. It made them both more unhappy than they were before. But
the breach was quickly healed. Still scars remained, and there were
times when the blood flowed into these cicatrices so feverishly as
to cause pain. Alas! wounds of the spirit do not close any more
perfectly than do wounds of the body—the scars remain forever.
And thus the weeks and months went by. Neither of the married
partners had learned the true secret of happiness in their holy
relation,—neither of them felt the absolute necessity of bearing
and forbearing. Little inequalities of character, instead of being
smoothed off by gentle contact, were suffered to strike against each
other, and produce, sometimes, deep and painful wounds—healing, too
often, imperfectly; and too often remaining as festering sores.
And yet Canning and his wife loved each other tenderly, and felt,
most of their time, that they were very happy. There were little
things in each that each wished the other would correct, but neither
felt the necessity of self-correction.
The birth of a child drew them together at a time when there was
some danger of a serious rupture. Dear little Lilian, or "Lilly," as
she was called, was a chord of love to bind them in a closer union.
"I love you more than ever, Maggy," Canning could not help saying to
his wife, as he kissed first her lips and then the soft cheek of his
child, a month after the babe was born.
"And I am sure I love you better than I did, if that were possible,"
returned Margaret, looking into her husband's face with a glance of
As the babe grew older the parent's love for it continued to
increase, and, with this increase, their happiness. The chord which
had several times jarred harshly between them, slept in profound
But, after this sweet calm, the surface of their feelings became
again ruffled. One little incongruity of character after another
showed itself in both, and there was no genuine spirit of
forbearance in either of them to meet and neutralize any sudden
effervescence of the mind. Lilly was not a year old, before they had
a serious misunderstanding that made them both unhappy for weeks. It
had its origin in a mere trifle, as such things usually have. They
had been taking tea and spending an evening with a friend, a widow
lady, for whom Mrs. Canning had a particular friendship. As there
was no gentleman present during the evening, the time passed rather
heavily to Canning, who could not get interested in the conversation
of the two ladies. Toward nine o'clock he began to feel restless and
impatient, and to wonder if his wife would not soon be thinking
about going home. But the time passed wearily until ten o'clock, and
still the conversation between the two ladies was continued with
undiminished interest, and, to all appearance, was likely to
continue until midnight.
Canning at length became so restless and wearied that he said,
thinking that his wife did not probably know how late it was,—
"Come, Margaret, isn't it 'most time to go home?"
Mrs. Canning merely looked into her husband's face, but made no
More earnestly than ever the ladies now appeared to enter upon the
various themes for conversation that presented themselves, all of
which were very frivolous to the mind of Canning, who was
exceedingly chafed by his wife's indifference to his suggestion
about going home. He determined, however, to say no more if she sat
all night. Toward eleven o'clock she made a movement to depart, and
after lingering in the parlor before she went up stairs to put on
her things, and in the chamber after her things were on, and on the
stairs, in the passage, and at the door, she finally took the arm of
her husband and started for home. Not a word was uttered by either
until they had walked the distance of two squares, when Margaret,
unable to keep back what she wanted to say any longer, spoke thus,—
"James, I will thank you, another time, when we are spending an
evening out, not to suggest as publicly as you did to-night that it
is time to go home. It's very bad manners, let me tell you, in the
first place; and in the second place, I don't like it at all. I do
not wish people to think that I have to come and go just at your
beck or nod. I was about starting when you spoke to me, but sat an
hour longer just on purpose."
The mind of Canning, already fretted, was set on fire by this.
"You did?" he said.
"Yes, I did. And I can tell you, once for all, that I wish this to
be the last time you speak to me as you did to-night."
It was as much as the impatient spirit of Canning could do to keep
"It's the last time I will ever speak to you at all," and then
leaving her in the street, with the intention of never seeing her
again. But suddenly he thought of Lilly, and the presence of the
child in his mind kept back the mad words from his lips. Not one
syllable did he utter during their walk home, although his wife said
much to irritate rather than soothe him. Nor did a sentence pass his
lips that night.
At the breakfast table on the next morning, the husband and wife
were coldly polite to each other. When the meal was completed,
Canning retired to his office, and his wife sought her chamber to
weep. The latter half repented of what she had done, but her
contrition was not hearty enough to prompt to a confession of her
fault. The fact that she considered her husband to blame, stood in
the way of this.
Reserve and coldness marked the intercourse of the unhappy couple
for several weeks; and then the clouds began to break, and there
were occasional glimpses of sunshine.
But, before there was a clear sky, some trifling occurrence put them
again at variance. From this time, unhappily, one circumstance after
another transpired to fret them with each other, and to separate,
rather than unite them. Daily, Canning grew more cold and reserved,
and his wife met him in a like uncompromising spirit. Even their
lovely child—their darling blue-eyed Lilly—with her sweet little
voice and smiling face, could not soften their hearts toward each
To add fuel to this rapidly enkindling fire of discord, was the fact
that Mrs. Canning was on particularly intimate terms with the wife
of a man toward whom her husband entertained a settled and
well-grounded dislike, and visited her more frequently than she did
any one of her friends. He did not interfere with her in the matter,
but it annoyed him to hear her speak, occasionally, of meeting Mr.
Richards at his house, and repeating the polite language he used to
her, when he detested the character of Richards, and had not spoken
to him for more than a year.
One day Mrs. Canning expressed a wish to go in the evening to a
"It will be impossible for me to go to-night, or, indeed, this
week," Canning said. "I am engaged in a very important case, which
will come up for trial on Friday, and it will take all my time
properly to prepare for it. I shall be engaged every evening, and
perhaps late every night."
Mrs. Canning looked disappointed, and said she thought he might
spare her one evening.
"You know I would do so, Margaret, with pleasure," he replied, "but
the case is one involving too much to be endangered by any
consideration. Next week we will go to a party."
When Canning came home to tea, he found his wife dressed to go out.
"I'm going to the party, for all you can't go with me," said she.
"Indeed! With whom are you going?"
"Mrs. Richards came in to see me after dinner, when I told her how
much disappointed I was about not being able to go to the party
to-night. She said that she and her husband were going, and that it
would give them great pleasure to call for me. Am I not fortunate?"
"But you are not going with Mr. and Mrs. Richards?"
"Indeed I am! Why not?"
"Margaret! You must not go."
"Must not, indeed! You speak in quite a tone of authority, Mr.
Canning;" and the wife drew herself up haughtily.
"Authority, or no authority, Margaret"—Canning now spoke calmly,
but his lips were pale—"I will never consent that my wife shall be
seen in a public assembly with Richards. You know my opinion of the
"I know you are prejudiced against him, though I believe unjustly."
"Madness!" exclaimed Canning, thrown off his guard. "And this from
"I don't see that you have any cause for getting into a passion, Mr.
Canning," said his wife, with provoking coolness. "And, I must say,
that you interfere with my freedom rather more than a husband has
any right to do. But, to cut this matter short, let me tell you,
once for all, that I am going to the assembly to-night with Mr. and
Mrs. Richards. Having promised to do so, I mean to keep my promise."
"Margaret, I positively forbid your going!" said Canning, in much
"I deny your right to command me! In consenting to become your wife,
I did not make myself your slave; although it is clear from this,
and other things that have occurred since our marriage, that you
consider me as occupying that position."
"Then it is your intention to go with this man?" said Canning, again
speaking in a calm but deep voice.
"Certainly it is."
"Very well. I will not make any threat of what I will do, Margaret.
But this I can assure you, that lightly as you may think of this
matter, if persevered in, it will cause you more sorrow than you
have ever known. Go! Go against my wish—against my command, if you
will have it so—and when you feel the consequence, lay the blame
upon no one but yourself. And now let me say to you, Margaret, that
your conduct as a wife has tended rather to estrange your husband's
heart from you than to win his love. I say this now, because I may
"James! It is folly for you to talk to me after that fashion,"
exclaimed Margaret, breaking in upon him. "I—"
But before she could finish the sentence, Canning had left the room,
closing the door hard after him.
Just an hour from this time, Mr. and Mrs. Richards called in their
carriage for Mrs. Canning, who went with them to the assembly. An
hour was a long period for reflection, and ought to have afforded
sufficient time for the wife of Canning to come to a wiser
determination than that from which she acted.
Not half a dozen revolutions of the carriage wheels had been made,
however, before Margaret repented of what she had done. But it was
now too late. The pleasure of the entertainment passed before her,
but it found no response in her breast. She saw little but the pale,
compressed lip and knit brow of her husband, and heard little but
his word of disapproval. Oh! how she did long for the confused
pageant that was moving before her, and the discordant mingling of
voices and instruments, to pass away, that she might return and tell
him that she repented of all that she had done.
At last the assembly broke up, and she was free to go back again to
the home that had not, alas! proved as pleasant a spot to her as her
imagination had once pictured it.
"And that it has not been so," she murmured to herself, "he has not
been all to blame."
On being left at the door, Mrs. Canning rang the bell impatiently.
As soon as admitted, she flew up stairs to meet her husband,
intending to confess her error, and beg him earnestly to forgive her
for having acted so directly in opposition to his wishes. But she
did not find him in the chamber. Throwing off her bonnet and shawl,
she went down into the parlours, but found all dark there.
"Where is Mr. Canning?" she asked of a servant.
"He went away about ten o'clock, and has not returned yet," was
This intelligence caused Mrs. Canning to lean hard on the
stair-railing for support. She felt in an instant weak almost as an
Without further question, she went back to her chamber, and looked
about fearfully on bureaus and tables for a letter addressed to her
in her husband's handwriting. But nothing of this met her eye. Then
she sat down to await her husband's return. But she waited long.
Daylight found her an anxious watcher; he was still away.
The anguish of mind experienced during that unhappy night, it would
be vain for us to attempt to picture. In the morning, on descending
to the parlour, she found on one of the pier-tables a letter bearing
her name. She broke the seal tremblingly. It did not contain many
words, but they fell upon her heart with an icy coldness.
"MARGARET: Your conduct to-night has decided me to separate myself
from a woman who I feel neither truly loves nor respects me. The
issue which I have for some time dreaded has come. It is better for
us to part than to live in open discord. I shall arrange every thing
for your comfortable support, and then leave the city, perhaps for
ever. You need not tell our child that her father lives. I would
rather she would think him dead than at variance with her mother.
These were the words. Their effect was paralyzing. Mrs. Canning had
presence of mind enough to crush the fatal letter into her bosom,
and strength enough to take her back to her chamber. When there, she
sunk powerless upon her bed, and remained throughout the day too
weak in both body and mind to rise or think. She could do little
else but feel.
Five years from the day of that unhappy separation, we find Mrs.
Canning in the unobtrusive home of Aunt Hannah, who took the almost
heart-broken wife into the bosom of her own family, after the
passage of nearly a year had made her almost hopeless of ever seeing
him again. No one knew where he was. Only once did Margaret hear
from him, and that was on the third day after he had parted from
her, when he appeared in the court-room, and made a most powerful
argument in favour of the client whose important case had prevented
his going with his wife to the assembly. After that he disappeared,
and no one could tell aught of him. A liberal annuity had been
settled upon his wife, and the necessary papers to enable her to
claim it transmitted to her under a blank envelope.
Five years had changed Margaret sadly. The high-spirited, blooming,
happy woman, was now a meek, quiet, pale-faced sufferer. Lilly had
grown finely, all unconscious of her mother's suffering, and was a
very beautiful child. She attracted the notice of everyone.
"Aunt Hannah," said Margaret, one day after this long, long period
of suffering, "I have what you will call a strange idea in my mind.
It has been visiting me for weeks, and now I feel much inclined to
act from its dictates. You know that Mr. and Mrs. Edwards are going
to Paris next month. Ever since Mrs. Edwards mentioned it to me, I
have felt a desire to go with them. I don't know why, but so it is.
I think it would do me good to go to Paris and spend a few months
there. When a young girl, I always had a great desire to see London
and Paris; and this desire is again in my mind."
"I would go, then," said Aunt Hannah, who thought favourably of any
thing likely to divert the mind of her niece from the brooding
melancholy in which it was shrouded.
To Paris Mrs. Canning went, accompanied by her little daughter, who
was the favourite of every one on board the steamer in which they
sailed. In this gray city, however, she did not attain as much
relief of mind as she had anticipated. She found it almost
impossible to take interest in any thing, and soon began to long for
the time to come when she could go back to the home and heart of her
good Aunt Hannah. The greatest pleasure she took was in going with
Lilly to the Gardens of the Tuileries, and amid the crowd there to
feel alone with nature in some of her most beautiful aspects. Lilly
was always delighted to get there, and never failed to bring
something in her pocket for the pure white swans that floated so
gracefully in the marble basin into which the water dashed cool and
sparkling from beautiful fountains.
One day, while the child was playing at a short distance from her
mother, a man seated beside a bronze statue, over which drooped a
large orange tree, fixed his eyes upon her admiringly, as hundreds
of others had done. Presently she came up and stood close to him,
looking up into the face of the statue. The man said something to
her in French, but Lilly only smiled and shook her head.
"What is your name, dear?" he then said in English.
"Lilly," replied the child.
A quick change passed over the man's face. With much more interest
in his voice, he said—
"Where do you live? In London?"
"Oh no, sir; I live in America."
"What is your name besides Lilly?"
"Lilly Canning, sir."
The man now became strongly agitated. But he contended vigorously
with his feelings.
"Where is your mother, dear?" he asked, taking her hand as he spoke,
and gently pressing it between his own.
"She is here, sir," returned Lilly, looking inquiringly into the
"Yes, sir. We come here every day."
"Where is your mother now?"
"Just on the other side of the fountain. You can't see her for the
"Is your father here, also?" continued the man.
"No, I don't know where my father is." "Is he dead?" "No, sir;
mother says he is not dead, and that she hopes he will come home
soon. Oh! I wish he would come home. We would all love him so!"
The man rose up quickly, and turning from the child, walked
hurriedly away. Lilly looked after him for a moment or two, and then
ran back to her mother.
On the next day Lilly saw the same man sitting under the bronze
statue. He beckoned to her, and she went to him.
"How long have you been in Paris, dear?" he asked.
"A good many weeks," she replied.
"Are you going to stay much longer?"
"I don't know. But mother wants to go home."
"Do you like to live in Paris?"
"No, sir. I would rather live at home with mother and Aunt Hannah."
"You live with Aunt Hannah, then?"
"Yes, sir. Do you know Aunt Hannah?" and the child looked up
wonderingly into the man's face.
"I used to know her," he replied.
Just then Lilly heard her mother calling her, and she started and
ran away in the direction from which the voice came. The man's face
grew slightly pale, and he was evidently much agitated. As he had
done on the evening previous, he rose up hastily and walked away.
But in a short time he returned, and appeared to be carefully
looking about for some one. At length he caught sight of Lilly's
mother. She was sitting with her eyes upon the ground, the child
leaning upon her, and looking into her face, which he saw was thin
and pale, and overspread with a hue of sadness. Only for a few
moments did he thus gaze upon her, and then he turned and walked
hurriedly from the garden.
Mrs. Canning sat alone with her child that evening, in the
handsomely-furnished apartments she had hired on arriving in Paris.
"He told you that he knew Aunt Hannah?" she said, rousing up from a
state of deep thought.
"Yes, ma. He said he used to know her."
A servant opened the door, and said that a gentleman wished to see
"Tell him to walk in," the mother of Lilly had just power to say. In
breathless suspense she waited for the space of a few seconds, when
the man who had spoken to Lilly in the Gardens of the Tuileries
entered and closed the door after him.
Mrs. Canning raised her eyes to his face. It was her husband! She
did not cry out nor spring forward. She had not the power to do
"That's him now, mother!" exclaimed Lilly.
"It's your father!" said Mrs. Canning, in a deeply breathed whisper.
The child sprung toward him with a quick bound and was instantly
clasped in his arms.
"Lilly, dear Lilly!" he sobbed, pressing his lips upon her brow and
cheeks. "Yes! I am your father!"
The wife and mother sat motionless and tearless with her eyes fixed
upon the face of her husband. After a few passionate embraces,
Canning drew the child's arms from about his neck, and setting her
down upon the floor, advanced slowly toward his wife. Her eyes were
still tearless, but large drops were rolling over his face.
"Margaret!" he said, uttering her name with great tenderness.
He was by her side in time to receive her upon his bosom, as she
sunk forward in a wild passion of tears.
All was reconciled. The desolate hearts were again peopled with
living affections. The arid waste smiled in greenness and beauty.
In their old home, bound by threefold cords of love, they now think
only of the past as a severe lesson by which they have been taught
the heavenly virtue of forbearance. Five years of intense suffering
changed them both, and left marks that after years can never efface.
But selfish impatience and pride were all subdued, and their hearts
melted into each other, until they became almost like one heart.
Those who meet them now, and observe the deep, but unobtrusive
affection with which they regard each other, would never imagine,
did they not know their previous history, that love, during one
period of that married life, had been so long and so totally
THE SOCIAL SERPENT.
A LADY, whom we will call Mrs. Harding, touched with the destitute
condition of a poor, sick widow, who had three small children,
determined, from an impulse of true humanity, to awaken, if
possible, in the minds of some friends and neighbours, an interest
in her favour. She made a few calls, one morning, with this end in
view, and was gratified to find that her appeal made a favourable
impression. The first lady whom she saw, a Mrs. Miller, promised to
select from her own and children's wardrobe a number of cast-off
garments for the widow, and to aid her in other respects, at the
same time asking Mrs. Harding to call in on the next day, when she
would be able to let her know what she could do.
Pleased with her reception, and encouraged to seek further aid for
the widow, Mrs. Harding withdrew and took her way to the house of
another acquaintance. Scarcely had she left, when a lady, named
Little, dropped in to see Mrs. Miller. To her the latter said, soon
after her entrance:
"I've been very much interested in the case of a poor widow this
morning. She is sick, with three little children dependent on her,
and destitute of almost every thing. Mrs. Harding was telling me
"Mrs. Harding!" The visitor's countenance changed, and she looked
unutterable things. "I wonder!" she added, in well assumed surprise,
and then was silent.
"What's the matter with Mrs. Harding?" asked Mrs. Miller.
"I should think," said Mrs. Little, "that she was in nice business,
running around, gossiping about indigent widows, when some of her
own relatives are so poor they can hardly keep soul and body
"Is this really so?" asked Mrs. Miller.
"Certainly it is. I had it from my chambermaid, whose sister is cook
next door to where a cousin of Mrs. Harding's lives, and she says
they are, one half of their time, she really believes, in a starving
"But does Mrs. Harding know this?"
"She ought to know it, for she goes there sometimes, I hear."
"She didn't come merely to gossip about the poor widow," said Mrs.
Miller. "Her errand was to obtain something to relieve her
"Did you give her any thing?" asked Mrs. Little.
"No; but I told her to call and see me to-morrow, when I would have
something for her."
"Do you want to know my opinion of this matter?" said Mrs. Little,
drawing herself up, and assuming a very important air.
"What is your opinion?"
"Why, that there is no poor widow in the case at all."
"You needn't look surprised. I'm in earnest. I never had much faith
in Mrs. Harding, at the best."
"I am surprised. If there was no poor widow in the case, what did
she want with charity?"
"She has poor relations of her own, for whom, I suppose, she's
ashamed to beg. So you see my meaning now."
"You surely wrong her."
"Don't believe a word of it. At any rate, take my advice, and be the
almoner of your own bounty. When Mrs. Harding comes again, ask her
the name of this poor widow, and where she resides. If she gives you
a name and residence, go and see for yourself."
"I will act on your suggestion," said Mrs. Miller. "Though I can
hardly make up my mind to think so meanly of Mrs. Harding; still,
from the impression your words produce, I deem it only prudent to
be, as you term it, the almoner of my own bounty."
The next lady upon whom Mrs. Harding called, was a Mrs. Johns, and
in her mind she succeeded in also awakening an interest for the poor
"Call and see me to-morrow," said Mrs. Johns, "and I'll have
something for you."
Not long after Mrs. Harding's departure, Mrs. Little called, in her
round of gossipping visits, and to her Mrs. Johns mentioned the case
of the poor widow, that matter being, for the time, uppermost in her
"Mrs. Harding's poor widow, I suppose," said Mrs. Little, in a
half-sneering, half-malicious tone of voice.
Mrs. Johns looked surprised, as a matter of course.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing, much. Only I've heard of this destitute widow before."
"Yes, and between ourselves,"—the voice of Mrs. Little became low
and confidential—"it's the opinion of Mrs. Miller and myself, that
there is no poor widow in the case."
"Mrs. Little! You astonish me! No poor widow in the case! I can't
understand this. Mrs. Harding was very clear in her statement. She
described the widow's condition, and very much excited my
sympathies. What object can she have in view?"
"Mrs. Miller and I think," said the visitor, "and with good reason,
that this poor widow is only put forward as a cover."
"As a cover to what?"
"To some charities that she has reasons of her own for not wishing
to make public."
"Still in the dark. Speak out more plainly."
"Plainly, then, Mrs. Johns, we have good reasons for believing, Mrs.
Miller and I, that she is begging for some of her own poor
relations. Mrs. Miller is going to see if she can find the widow."
"Indeed! That's another matter altogether. I promised to do
something in the case, but shall now decline. I couldn't have
believed such a thing of Mrs. Harding! But so it is; you never know
people until you find them out."
"No, indeed, Mrs. Johns. You never spoke a truer word in your life,"
replied Mrs. Little, emphatically.
On the day following, after seeing the poor widow, ministering to
some of her immediate wants, and encouraging her to expect more
substantial relief, Mrs. Harding called, as she had promised to do,
on Mrs. Miller. A little to her surprise, that lady received her
with unusual coldness; and yet, plainly, with an effort to seem
"You have called about the poor widow you spoke of yesterday?" said
"Such is the object of my present visit."
"What is her name?"
"Where did you say she lived?"
The residence was promptly given.
"I've been thinking," said Mrs. Miller, slightly colouring, and with
some embarrassment, "that I would call in and see this poor woman
"I wish you would," was the earnest reply of Mrs. Harding. "I am
sure, if you do so, all your sympathies will be excited in her
As Mrs. Harding said this, she arose, and with a manner that showed
her feelings to be hurt, as well as mortified, bade Mrs. Miller a
formal good-morning, and retired. Her next call was upon Mrs. Johns.
Much to her surprise, her reception here was quite as cold; in fact,
so cold, that she did not even refer to the object of her visit, and
Mrs. Johns let her go away without calling attention to it herself.
So affected was she by the singular, and to her unaccountable change
in the manner of these ladies, that Mrs. Harding had no heart to
call upon two others, who had promised to do something for the
widow, but went home disappointed, and suffering from a troubled and
depressed state of feeling.
So far as worldly goods were concerned, Mrs. Harding could not boast
very large possessions. She was herself a widow; and her income,
while it sufficed, with economy, to supply the moderate wants of her
family, left her but little for luxuries, the gratification of
taste, or the pleasures of benevolence. Quick to feel the wants of
the needy, no instance of destitution came under her observation
that she did not make some effort toward procuring relief.
What now was to be done? She had excited the sick woman's hopes—had
promised that her immediate wants, and those of her children, should
be supplied. From her own means, without great self-denial, this
could not be effected. True, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Johns had both
promised to call upon the poor widow, and, in person, administer
relief. But Mrs. Harding did not place much reliance on this; for
something in the manner of both ladies impressed her with the idea
that their promise merely covered a wish to recede from their first
"Something must be done" said she, musingly. And then she set
herself earnestly to the work of devising ways and means. Where
there is a will there is a way. No saying was ever truer than this.
It was, perhaps, a week later, that Mrs. Little called again upon
"What of Mrs. Harding's poor widow?" said the former, after some
ill-natured gossip about a mutual friend.
"Oh, I declare! I've never thought of the woman since," replied Mrs.
Miller, in a tone of self-condemnation. "And I promised Mrs. Harding
that I would see her. I really blame myself."
"No great harm done, I presume," said Mrs. Little.
"I don't know about that. I'm hardly prepared to think so meanly of
Mrs. Harding as you do. At any rate, I'm going this day to redeem my
"The promise I made Mrs. Harding, that I would see the woman she
spoke of, and relieve her, if in need."
"You'll have all your trouble for nothing."
"No matter, I'll clear my conscience, and that is something. Come,
wont you go with me?"
Mrs. Little declined the invitation at first; but, strongly urged by
Mrs. Miller, she finally consented. So the two ladies forthwith took
their way toward the neighbourhood in which Mrs. Harding had said
the needy woman lived. They were within a few doors of the house,
which had been very minutely described by Mrs. Harding, when they
met Mrs. Johns.
"Ah!" said the latter, with animation, "just the person, of all
others, I most wished to see. How could you, Mrs. Miller, so greatly
wrong Mrs. Harding?"
"Me wrong her, Mrs. Johns? I don't understand you." And Mrs. Miller
looked considerably astonished.
"Mrs. Little informed me that you had good reasons for believing all
this story about a poor widow to be a mere subterfuge, got up to
cover some doings of her own that Mrs. Harding was ashamed to bring
to the light."
"Mrs. Little!" There was profound astonishment in the tones of Mrs.
Miller, and her eyes had in them such an indignant light, as she
fixed them upon her companion, that the latter quailed under her
"Acting from this impression," resumed Mrs. Johns, "I declined
placing at her disposal the means of relief promised; but, instead,
told her that I would myself see the needy person for whom she asked
aid. This I have, until now, neglected to do; and this neglect, or
indifference I might rather call it, has arisen from a belief that
there was no poor widow in the case. Wrong has been done, Mrs.
Miller, great wrong! How could you have imagined such baseness of
"And there is a poor, sick widow, in great need?" said Mrs.
Miller, now speaking calmly, and with regained self-possession.
"There is a sick widow," replied Mrs. Johns, "but not at present in
great need. Mrs. Harding has supplied immediate wants."
"Well, Mrs. Little!" Mrs. Miller again turned her eyes, searchingly,
upon her companion.
"I—I—thought so. It was my impression—I had good reason
for—I—I" stammered Mrs. Little.
"It should have been enough for you to check a benevolent impulse in
my case by your unfounded suggestions. Not content with this,
however, you must use my name in still further spreading your unjust
suspicions, and actually make me the author of charges against a
noble-minded woman, which had their origin in your own evil
"I will not bear such language!" said the offended Mrs. Little,
indignantly; and turning with an angry toss of the head, she left
the ladies to their own reflections.
"I am taught one good lesson from this circumstance," said Mrs.
Miller, as they walked away; "and that is, never to even seem to
have my good opinion of another affected by the allegations and
surmises of a social gossip. Such people always suppose the worst,
and readily pervert the most unselfish actions into moral offences.
The harm they do is incalculable."
"And, as in the present case," remarked Mrs. Johns, "they make
others responsible for their base suggestions. Had Mrs. Little not
coupled your name with the implied charges against Mrs. Harding, my
mind would not have been poisoned against her."
"While not a breath of suspicion had ever crossed mine until Mrs.
Little came in, and wantonly intercepted the stream of benevolence
about to flow forth to a needy, and, I doubt not, most worthy
"We have made of her an enemy. At least you have; for you spoke to
her with smarting plainness," said Mrs. Johns.
"Better the enmity of such than their friendship," replied Mrs.
Miller. "Their words of detraction cannot harm so much as the poison
of evil thoughts toward others, which they ever seek to infuse. Your
dearest friend is not safe from them, if she be pure as an angel.
Let her name but pass your lips, and instantly it is breathed upon,
and the spotless surface grows dim."
THE YOUNG MOTHER.
[The following brief passage is from our story, "The Wife," in the
series "Maiden," "Wife," and "Mother."]
A NEW chord vibrated in Anna's heart, and the music was sweeter far
in her spirit's ear, than any before heard. She was changed.
Suddenly she felt that she was a new creature. Her breast was filled
with deeper, purer, and tenderer emotions. She was a mother! A babe
had been born to her! A sweet pledge of love lay nestling by her
side, and drawing its life from her bosom. She was happy—how happy
cannot be told. A mother only can feel how happy she was on first
realizing the new emotions that thrill in a young mother's heart.
As health gradually returned to her exhausted frame, and friends
gathered around her with warm congratulations, Anna felt that she
was indeed beginning a new life. Every hour her soul seemed to
enlarge, and her mind to be filled with higher and purer thoughts.
Before the birth of her babe, she suffered much more than even her
husband had supposed, both in body and mind. Her spirits were often
so depressed that it required her utmost effort to receive him with
her accustomed cheerfulness at each period of his loved return. But,
living as she did in the ever active endeavour to bless others, she
strove daily and hourly to rise above every infirmity. Now, all was
peace within—holy peace. There came a Sabbath rest of deep,
interior joy, that was sweet, unutterably sweet. Body and spirit
entered into this rest. No wind ruffled the still, bright waters of
her life. She was the same, and yet not the same.
"I cannot tell you, dear husband! how happy I am," she said, a few
weeks after her babe was born. "Nor can I describe the different
emotions that pervade my heart. When our babe is in my arms, and
especially when it lies at my bosom, it seems as if angels were near
"And angels are near you," replied her husband. "Angels love
innocence, and especially infants, that are forms of innocence. They
are present with them, and the mother shares the blessed company,
for she loves her babe with an unselfish love, and this the angels
can perceive, and, through it, affect her with a measure of their
"How delightful the thought! Above all, is the mother blessed. She
suffers much—her burden is hard to bear—the night is dark—but the
morning that opens upon her is the brightest a human soul knows
during its earthly pilgrimage. And no wonder. She has performed the
highest and holiest of offices—she has given birth to an immortal
being—and her reward is with her."
Hartley had loved his wife truly, deeply, tenderly. Every day, he
saw more and more in her to admire. There was an order, consistency,
and harmony in her character as a wife, that won his admiration. In
the few months they had passed since their marriage, she had filled
her place to him, perfectly. Without seeming to reflect how she
should regulate her conduct toward her husband, in every act of her
wedded life she had displayed true wisdom, united with unvarying
love. All this caused his heart to unite itself more and more
closely with hers. But now, that she held to him the twofold
relation of a wife and mother, his love was increased fourfold. He
thought of her, and looked upon her, with increased tenderness.
"Mine, by a double tie," he said, with a full realization of his
words, when he first pressed his lips upon the brow of his child,
and then, with a fervour unfelt before, upon the lips of his wife.
"As you have been a good wife, you will be a good mother," he added,
THE GENTLE WARNING.
"Do not accept the offer, Florence," said her friend Carlotti.
A shade of disappointment went over the face of the fair girl, who
had just communicated the pleasing fact that she had received an
offer of marriage.
"You cannot be happy as the wife of Herman Leland," added Carlotti.
"How little do you know this heart," returned the fond girl.
"It is because I know it so well that I say what I do. If your love
be poured out for Herman Leland, Florence, it will be as water on
the desert sand."
"Why do you affirm this, Carlotti?"
"A woman can truly love only the moral virtue of her husband."
"I do not clearly understand you."
"It is only genuine goodness of heart that conjoins in marriage."
"Just so far as selfish and evil affections find a place in the mind
of either the husband or wife, will be the ratio of unhappiness in
the marriage state. If there be any truth in morals, or in the
doctrine of affinities, be assured that this is so. It is neither
intellectual attainments nor personal attractions that make
happiness in marriage. Far, very far from it. All depends upon the
quality of the affections. If these be good, happiness will come as
a natural consequence; but if they be evil, misery will inevitably
follow so close a union."
"Then you affirm that Mr. Leland is an evil-minded man?"
"Neither of us know him well enough to say this positively,
Florence. Judging from what little I have seen, I should call him a
selfish man; and no selfish man can be a good man, for selfishness
is the basis of all evil."
"I am afraid you are prejudiced against him, Carlotti."
"If I have had any prejudices in the matter, Florence, they have
been in his favour. Well-educated, refined in his manners, and
variously accomplished, he creates, on nearly all minds, a
favourable impression. Such an impression did I at first feel. But
the closer I drew near to him, the less satisfied did I feel with my
first judgment. On at least two occasions, I have heard him speak
lightly of religion."
"Of mere cant and sectarianism, perhaps."
"No; he once spoke lightly of a mother for making it a point to
require all her children to repeat their prayers before going to
bed. On another occasion, he alluded to one of the sacraments of the
church in a way that produced an inward shudder. From that time, I
have looked at him with eyes from which the scales have been
removed; and the more I seek to penetrate beneath the surface of his
character, the more do I see what repels me. Florence, dear, let me
urge you, as one who tenderly loves you and earnestly desires to see
you happy, to weigh the matter well ere you assent to this
"I'm afraid, Carlotti," said Florence in reply to this, "that you
have let small causes influence your feelings toward Mr. Leland. We
all speak lightly, at times, even on subjects regarded as
sacred—not because we despise them, but from casual thoughtlessness.
It was, no doubt, so with Mr. Leland on the occasion to which you
"We are rarely mistaken, Florence," replied Carlotti, "as to the
real sentiment involved in the words used by those with whom we
converse. Words are the expressions of thoughts, and these the form
of affections. What a man really feels in reference to any subject,
will generally appear in the tones of his voice, no matter whether
he speak lightly or seriously. Depend upon it, this is so. It was
the manner in which Leland spoke that satisfied me as to his real
feelings, more than the language he used. Judging him in this way, I
am well convinced that, in his heart, he despises religion; and no
man who does this, can possibly make a right-minded woman happy."
The gentle warning of Carlotti was not wholly lost on Florence. She
had great confidence in the judgment of her friend, and did not feel
that it would be right to wholly disregard her admonitions.
"What answer can I make?" said she, drawing a long sigh. "He urges
an early response to his suit."
"Duty to yourself, Florence, demands a time for consideration.
Marriage is a thing of too vital moment to be decided upon
hurriedly. Say to him in reply, that his offer is unexpected, and
that you cannot give an immediate answer, but will do so at the
earliest possible moment."
"So cold a response may offend him."
"If it does, then he will exhibit a weakness of character unfitting
him to become the husband of a sensible woman. If he be really
attracted by your good qualities, he will esteem you the more for
this act of prudence. He will understand that you set a high regard
upon the marriage relation, and do not mean to enter into it unless
you know well the person to whom you commit your happiness in this
world, and, in all probability, the next."
"A coldly calculating spirit, Carlotti, that nicely weighs and
balances the merits and defects of one beloved, is, in my view,
hardly consonant with true happiness in marriage. All have defects
of character. All are born with evil inclinations of one kind or
another. Love seeks only for good in the object of affection.
Affinities of this kind are almost spontaneous in their birth. We
love more from impulse than from any clear appreciation of
character—perceiving good qualities by a kind of instinct rather
than searching for them."
"A doctrine, Florence," said Carlotti, "that has produced untold
misery in the married life. As I said at first, it is only the moral
virtue of her husband that a woman can love—it is only this, as a
uniting principle, that can make two married partners one. The
qualities of all minds express themselves in words and actions, and,
by a close observance of these latter, we may determine the nature
of the former. We cannot perceive them with sufficient clearness to
arrive at a sound judgment: the only safe method is to determine the
character of the tree by its fruits. Take sufficient time to arrive
at a knowledge of Mr. Leland's character by observation, and then
you can accept or reject him under the fullest assurance that you
are acting wisely."
"Perhaps you are right," murmured Florence. "I will weigh carefully
what you have said."
And she did so. Much to the disappointment of Mr. Leland, he
received a reply from Florence asking a short time for reflection.
When Florence next met the young man, there was, as a natural
consequence, some slight embarrassment on both sides. On separating,
Florence experienced a certain unfavourable impression toward him,
although she could not trace it to any thing he had said or done. At
their next meeting, Leland's reserve had disappeared, and he
exhibited a better flow of spirits. He was more off his guard than
usual, and said a good many things that rather surprised Florence.
Impatient of delay, Leland again pressed his suit; but Florence was
further than ever from being ready to give an answer. She was not
prepared to reject him, and as little prepared to give a favourable
answer. Her request to be allowed further time for consideration,
wounded his pride; and, acting under its influence, he determined to
have his revenge on her by suing for the hand of another maiden, and
bearing her to the altar while she was hesitating over the offer he
had made. With this purpose in view, he penned a kind and polite
note, approving her deliberation, and desiring her to take the
fullest time for reflection. "Marriage," said he, in this note, "is
too serious a matter to be decided upon hastily. It is a life-union,
and the parties who make it should be well satisfied that there
exists a mutual fitness for each other."
Two days passed after Florence received this note before seeing her
friend Carlotti. She then called upon her in order to have further
conversation on the subject of the proposal she had received. The
tenor of this note had produced a favourable change in her feelings,
and she felt strongly disposed to make a speedy termination of the
debate in her mind by accepting her attractive suitor.
"Are you not well?" was her first remark on seeing Carlotti, for her
friend looked pale and troubled.
"Not very well, dear," replied Carlotti, making an effort to assume
a cheerful aspect.
The mind of Florence was too intent on the one interesting subject
that occupied it to linger long on any other theme. But a short time
elapsed before she said, with a warmer glow on her cheeks—
"I believe I have made up my mind, Carlotti."
"The offer of Mr. Leland."
"Well, what is your decision?" Carlotti held her breath for an
"I will accept him."
Without replying, Carlotti arose, and going to a drawer, took
therefrom a letter addressed to herself and handing it to Florence,
There was something ominous in the manner of Carlotti, which caused
Florence to become agitated. Her hands trembled as she unfolded the
letter. It bore the date of the day previous, and read thus:—
"MY DEAR CARLOTTI: From the first moment I saw you, I felt that you
were the one destined to make me happy or miserable. Your image has
been present to me, sleeping or waking, ever since. I can turn in no
way that it is not before me. The oftener I have met you, the more
have I been charmed by the gentleness, the sweetness, the purity,
and excellence of your character. With you to walk through life by
my side, I feel that my feet would tread a flowery way; but if
heaven have not this blessing in store for me, I shall be, of all
men, most miserable. My heart is too full to write more. And have I
not said enough? Love speaks in brief but eloquent language. Dear
young lady, let me hear from you speedily. I shall be wretched until
I know your decision. Heaven give my suit a favourable issue!
A deadly paleness overspread the countenance of Florence as the
letter dropped from her hands; and she leaned back against her
friend to prevent falling to the floor. But, in a little while, she
"And this to you?" said she, with a quivering lip, as she gazed
earnestly into the face of her friend.
"Yes, Florence, that to me."
"Can I trust my own senses? Is there not some illusion? Let me look
at it again."
And Florence stooped for the letter, and fixed her eyes upon it once
more. The language was plain, and the handwriting she knew too well.
"False-hearted!" she murmured, in a low and mournful voice, covering
her face and sobbing.
"Yes, Florence," said her friend, "he is false-hearted. How thankful
am I that you have escaped! Evidently in revenge for your prudent
deliberation, he has sought an alliance with another. Had that other
one accepted his heartless proposal, he would have met your
favourable answer to his suit with insult."
For a long time, Florence wept on the bosom of her friend. Then her
feelings grew calmer, and her mind became clear.
"What an escape!" fell from her lips as she raised her head and
turned her still pale face toward Carlotti. "Thanks, my wiser
friend, for your timely, yet gentle warning! Your eyes saw deeper
"Yes, yes; you have made an escape!" said Carlotti. "With such a
man, your life could only have been wretched."
"Have you answered his letter?" asked Florence.
"Not yet. But if you are inclined to do so, we will, on the same
sheet of paper and under the same envelope, each decline the honour
of an alliance. Such a rebuke he deserves, and we ought to give it."
And such a rebuke they gave.
A few months later, and Leland led to the altar a young lady reputed
to be an heiress.
A year afterward, just on the eve of Florence's marriage to a
gentleman in every way worthy to take her happiness in his keeping,
she sat alone with her fast friend Carlotti. They were conversing of
the bright future.
"And for all this joy, in store for me, Carlotti," said Florence,
leaning toward her friend and laying her hand affectionately on her
cheek, "I am indebted to you."
"To me? How to me, dear?" asked Carlotti.
"You saved me from an alliance with Leland. Oh, into what an abyss
of wretchedness would I have fallen! I heard to-day that, after
cruelly abusing poor Agnes in Charleston, where they removed, he
finally abandoned her. Can it be true?"
"It is, I believe, too true. Agnes came back to her friends last
week, bringing with her a babe. I have not seen her; but those who
have tell me that her story of suffering makes the heart ache. She
looks ten years older."
"Ah me!" sighed Florence. "Marriage—how much it involves! Even now,
as I stand at its threshold, with so much that looks bright in the
future, I tremble. Of Edward's excellent character and goodness of
heart, all bear testimony. He is every thing I could wish; but will
I make him happy?"
"Not all you could wish," said Carlotti, seriously. "None are
perfection here; and you must not expect this. You will find, in
your husband's character, faults. Anticipate this; but let the
anticipation prepare you to bear with rather than be hurt when they
appear, and do not seek too soon to correct them. It is said by a
certain deeply-seeing writer on spiritual themes, that when the
angels come to try one, they explore his mind only to find the good
therein, that they may excite it to activity. Be, then, your
husband's angel; explore his mind for the good it contains, and seek
to develop and strengthen it. Looking intently at what is good in
him, you will not be likely to see faults looming up and assuming a
magnitude beyond their real dimensions. But when faults appear, as
they assuredly will, compare them with your own; and, as you would
have him exercise forbearance toward you, do you exercise
forbearance toward him. Be wise in your love, my friend. Wisdom and
love are married partners. If you separate them, neither is a safe
guide. But if you keep them united, like a rower who pulls both
oars, you will glide swiftly forward in a smooth sea."
Florence bent her head as she listened, and every word of her friend
made its impression. Long after were they remembered and acted upon,
and they saved her from hours of pain. Florence is a happy wife; but
how near did she come to making shipwreck of her love-freighted
heart? There are times when, in thinking of it, she trembles.
KATE HARBELL, a high-spirited girl, who had a pretty strong will of
her own, was about being married. Like a great many others of her
age and sex who approach the matrimonial altar, Kate's notions of
the marriage relation were not the clearest in the world.
Ferdinand Lee, the betrothed of Kate, a quiet, sensitive young man,
had, perhaps, as strong a will as the young lady herself, though it
was more under the control of reason. He was naturally impatient of
dictation or force, and a strong love of approbation made him feel
keenly any thing like satire, ridicule or censure. To point him to a
fault was to wound if not offend him. Here lay the weakness of his
character. All this, on the other side, was counterbalanced by kind
feelings, good sense, and manly principles. He was above all
meanness or dishonour.
Of course, Kate did not fully understand his character. Such a thing
as a young girl's accurate knowledge of the character of the man she
is about to marry, is of very rare occurrence. She saw enough of
good qualities to make her love him with tenderness and devotion;
but she also saw personal defects that were disagreeable in the
object of her affections. But she did not in the least doubt that
all these she could easily correct in him after she became his wife.
From a defect of education, or from a natural want of neatness and
order, Ferdinand Lee was inclined to carelessness in his attire;
and also exhibited a certain want of polish in his manners and
address that was, at times, particularly annoying to Kate.
"I'll break him of that when I get him," said the young lady to a
married friend, alluding to some little peculiarity both had
"Don't be too certain," returned the lady, smiling.
Kate tossed her head in a resolute way.
"I'll see you disappointed."
"Wait a little while. Before I'm his wife six months, you'll hardly
know the man, there'll be such a change."
"The change is far more likely to take place in you."
"Why do you say that, Mrs. Morton?" inquired Kate, looking grave.
"Because I think so. Men are not so easily brought into order, and
the attempt at reformation and correction by a young wife generally
ends in painful disappointment. If you begin this work you will, in
all probability, find yourself tasked beyond your ability. I speak
from some experience, having been married for about ten years, and
having seen a good many young girls come up into our ranks from the
walks of single blessedness. Take my advice, and look away from
Frederick's faults and disagreeable peculiarities as much as
possible, and think more of his manly traits of character—his fine
sentiments, and honourable principles."
"I do look at them and love them," replied Kate, with animation.
"These won my heart at first, and now unite me to him in bonds that
cannot be broken. But if on a precious gem there be a slight blemish
that mars its beauty, shall we not seek to remove the defect, and
thus give the jewel a higher lustre? Will you say, no?"
"I will, if in the act there be danger of injuring the gem."
"I don't understand you, Mrs. Morton?"
"Reflect for a moment, and see if my meaning is not apparent."
"You think I will offend him if I point out a fault, or seek to
"A result most likely to follow."
"I will not think so poorly of his good sense," answered Kate, with
some gravity of manner. The suggestion half offended her.
"None are perfect, my young friend; don't forget that," said Mrs.
Morton, with equal seriousness. "To think differently is a common
mistake of persons circumstanced as you are."
"It's no mistake of mine, let me assure you," replied Kate. "I can
see faults as quickly as any one. Love can't blind me. It is because
I see defects in Frederick that I wish to correct them."
"And you trust to his good sense to take the work of correction
"Certainly I do."
"Then you most probably think him more perfect than he really is.
Very few people can bear to be told of their faults, and fewer still
to be told of them by those they love. Love is expected to be blind
to defects; therefore, when it is seen looking at and pointing them
out, the feeling produced is, in the very nature of things, a
disagreeable one. Take my advice, and let Frederick's faults alone,
at least for a year after you are married; and even then put your
hand on them very lightly, and as if by accident."
"Do you think I could see him lounge, or, rather, slide down in his
chair in that ungraceful way, and not speak to him about it? Not I.
It makes me nervous now; and, if I wasn't afraid he might take it
unkindly, would call his attention to it."
"Do you think he will be less likely to take it unkindly after
"Certainly. Then I will have a right to speak to him about it."
"Then marriage will give you certain rights over your husband?"
"It will give him rights over me, and a very poor rule that is which
doesn't work both ways. Marriage will make him my husband; and,
surely, a wife may tell her husband that he is not perfect, without
"Kate, Kate; you don't know what you are talking about, child!"
"I think I do."
"And I know you don't."
"Oh, well, Mrs. Morton, we won't quarrel about it," said Kate,
laughing. "I mean to make one of the best of wives, and have one of
the best of husbands to be found. He will require a little fixing up
to make him just to my mind, but don't you fear but what I'll do it
in the gentlest possible manner. Women have more taste than men, you
know, and a man never looks and acts just right until he gets a
woman to take charge of him."
A happy bride Kate became a few months after this little
conversation took place, and Lee thought himself the most fortunate
of men in obtaining such a lovely, accomplished, and right-minded
woman for a wife. Swiftly glided away the sweet honey-moon, without
a jar of discord, though, during the time, Kate saw a good many
things not exactly to her mind, and which she set down as needing
One evening, it was just five weeks after the marriage, and when
they were snugly settled in their own house, Frederick Lee was
seated before the grate, in a handsome rocking-chair, his body in a
position that it would have required a stretch of language to
pronounce graceful or becoming. He had drawn off one of his boots,
that was lying on the floor, and the leg from which it had been
taken was hanging over an arm of his chair. He had slipped forward
in the chair—his ordinary mode of sitting, or, rather, lying—so
far that his head, which, if he had been upright, would have been
even with the top of the back, was at least twelve inches below it.
To add to the effect of his position, he was swinging the bootless
leg that hung across the arm of the chair with a rapid, circling
motion. He had been reclining in this inelegant attitude for about
ten minutes, when Kate, who had permitted herself to become a good
deal annoyed by it, said to him, rather earnestly—
"Do, Frederick, sit up straight, and try and be a little more
graceful in your positions."
"What's that?" inquired the young man, as if he had not heard
"Can't you sit up straight?"
Kate smiled; but Lee saw that it was a forced smile.
"Oh, yes," he answered, indifferently. "I can sit up straight as an
arrow, but I find this attitude most agreeable."
"If you knew how you looked," said Kate.
"How do I look?" asked the young man, playfully.
"Oh! you look—you look more like a country clod-hopper than any
There was a sharpness in Kate's tones that fell unpleasantly on the
ears of the young man.
"Do I, indeed!" was his rather cold remark. Yet he did not change
"Indeed, you do," said the wife, who was, by this time, beginning to
feel a good deal of irritation; for she saw that Frederick was not
inclined to respond in the way she had hoped, to her very reasonable
desire that he would assume a more graceful attitude. "The fact is,"
she continued, impelled to further utterance by the excited state of
her feelings, although she was conscious of having already said more
than was agreeable to her husband, "you ought to correct yourself of
these ungraceful and undignified habits. It shows a want of"—
Kate stopped suddenly. She felt that she was about using words that
would inevitably give offence.
"A want of what?" inquired Lee, in a low, firm voice, while he
continued to look his young wife steadily in the face.
Kate's eyes fell to the floor and she remained silent.
"Ungraceful and undignified. Humph!"
Lee was evidently hurt at this allegation, as the tone in which he
repeated the words clearly showed.
"Do you call your present attitude graceful?" Kate asked, rallying
herself under the reflection that she was right.
"It is comfortable for me; and, therefore, ought to be graceful in
your eyes," was the young man's perverse answer. Not the slightest
change had yet taken place in his position.
This was beyond what the high spirited lady could bear, and she
retorted with more feeling than discretion:
"Love is not blind in my case, I can assure you, Frederick, and
never will be. You are very ungraceful and untidy, and annoy me,
sometimes, excessively. I wish you would try to correct these
There was something cool and provoking in the way Lee said this.
"I do, Frederick, and I'm in earnest."
The cheeks of Kate were in a glow, and her eyes lit up, and her lips
"How long since you made the discovery that I was only a country
clod-hopper?" said Lee, who was particularly annoyed by Kate's
unexpected charges against his good-breeding.
"I didn't say you were only a country clod-hopper," replied Kate.
"I believe you used the words. My ears rarely deceive me. I must own
to feeling highly complimented."
"Do sit up straight, Frederick! Do take your leg from over the arm
of that chair! You make me so nervous that I can hardly contain
"Really! I thought a man was privileged to sit in any position he
pleased in his own house."
The excitement of Kate's mind had, by this time, reached a crisis.
Bursting into tears, she hurried from the room, and went sobbing up
to her chamber.
Here was a fine state of affairs, indeed! Was ever a man so perverse
Did Frederick Lee follow, quickly, his weeping wife? No; his pride
was too deeply wounded for that.
"A country clod-hopper! Undignified and ungraceful! Upon my word!"
Such were some of his mental ejaculations. And then, as his feelings
grew excited, he started up from his chair and began pacing the
floor, muttering, as he did so—
"It is rather late in the day to make this discovery! Why didn't she
find it out before? Humph!"
Meanwhile, Kate had thrown herself across her bed, where she lay,
What a storm had suddenly been blown about their ears!
It was fully an hour before Frederick Lee's disturbed feelings began
to run at all clear. He was both surprised and offended. What could
all this mean? What had all at once come over his young wife?
"A country clod-hopper!" he muttered to himself over and over again.
"Ungraceful—ungenteel, and all that! Very complimentary, indeed!"
When Lee joined his wife in their chamber, two hours after she had
left him, he found that she had retired to bed and was sleeping.
On the next morning both looked very sober, and both were cold and
distant. A few words only passed between them. It was the same when
they met at dinner-time, and the same when Lee came home in the
evening. During the whole of this day, the thought of each was upon
the other; but it was not a forgiving thought. Kate cherished angry
feelings toward her husband; and Lee continued to be offended at the
freedom of expression which his young wife had ventured to use
toward him. Of course, both were very unhappy.
The formal intercourse of the tea-table having ended, Lee, feeling
little inclined to pass the evening with his reserved and
sober-looking partner, put on his hat, and merely remarking that he
would not return until bed-time, left the house. This act startled
Kate. With the jar of the closing door came a gush of tears. The
evening was passed alone. How wretched she felt as the hours moved
It was nearly eleven o'clock when Lee came home. By that time, the
mind of Kate was in an agony of suspense. More than once the thought
that he had abandoned her intruded itself, and filled her with fear
and anguish. What a relief to her feelings it was when she heard the
rattle of his night-key in the lock! But she could not meet him with
a smile. She could not throw her arms around his neck, and press her
hot cheek to his. No: for she felt that he was angry with her
without just cause, and had visited with unjust severity a light
offence—if, so far as she was concerned, her act were worthy to be
called an offence.
And so they looked coldly upon each other when they met, and then
averted their eyes.
The morning broke, but with no fairer promise of a sunny day. Clouds
obscured their whole horizon. Coldly they parted after the brief and
scarcely tasted meal. How wretched they were!
During the forenoon, Mrs. Morton, the friend of Mrs. Lee, called in
to see her young friend.
"Why, Kate! What has happened?" she exclaimed, the moment she saw
Mrs. Lee tried to smile and look indifferent, as she answered—
"Happened? Why do you say that?"
"You look as if you hadn't a friend left in the world!"
"And I don't know that I have," said Mrs. Lee, losing, all at once,
her self-command, and permitting the ready tears to gush forth.
"Why, Kate, dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Morton, drawing her arm around the
neck of her young friend. "What is the meaning of all this?
Something wrong with Frederick?"
Kate was silent.
Mrs. Morton reflected for a moment, and then said—
"Been trying to correct some of his faults, ha?"
No answer. But the sobbing became less violent.
"Ah, Kate! Kate! I warned you of this."
"Warned me of what?"
Mrs. Lee lifted her head, and tried to assume an air of dignity as
"I warned you that Frederick would not bear it, if you attempted to
lay your hand upon his faults."
Kate raised her head higher, and compressed her lips. Still she did
"A young husband, naturally enough, thinks himself faultless—at
least in the eyes of his wife."
"Very far from faultless is Frederick in my eyes," said Kate. "My
love is not blind, and so I told him."
"Yes, I did, and in so many words," replied Kate, with spirit.
"Ah, silly child!" returned her friend. "Already you have the reward
of your folly. I forewarned you how it would be."
"Are my wishes, feelings, and taste to be of no account whatever?"
said Kate, warmly. "Frederick is to be and do just what he pleases,
and I must say nothing, do nothing, and bear every thing. Was this
the contract between us? No, Mrs. Morton!"
The bright eyes of Mrs. Lee flashed with indignant fire.
"Come, come, Katy, dear! Don't let that impulsive heart of thine
lead thee too far aside from the path of prudence and safety. I am
sure that Frederick Lee is no self-willed, exacting, domestic
tyrant. I could not have been so deceived in him. But tell me the
particular cause of your trouble. What has been said and done? You
have given offence, and he has become offended. Tell me the whole
story, Kate, and then I'll know what to say and do for the
restoration of your peace."
"You are aware," said Kate, after a brief pause, and with a
deepening flush on her cheeks, "how awkward and untidy Frederick is
at times,—how he lounges in his chair, and throws his body into all
manner of ungraceful attitudes."
"This, as you know, has always annoyed me sadly. Night before last,
I felt so worried with him, that I could not help speaking right
"Ah! when you were worried?"
"Of course. If I hadn't felt worried, I wouldn't have said any
"Indeed! Well, what did you say? Was your tone of voice low and full
of love, and your words as gentle as the falling dew?"
There was a half-angry, indignant expression in the voice of Kate.
"Did you lay your hand lightly, like the touch of a feather, upon
the fault you designed to correct, or did you grasp it rudely and
Kate's eyes drooped beneath those of her friend.
"You were annoyed and excited," continued Mrs. Morton. "This by your
own acknowledgment, and, in such a frame of mind, you charged with
faults the one who had vainly thought himself, at least in your
eyes, perfect. And he, as a natural consequence, was hurt and
offended. But what did you say to him?"
"I hardly know what I said, now," returned Kate. "But I know I used
the words ungraceful, undignified, and country clod-hopper."
"Why, Kate! I am surprised at you! And this to so excellent a man as
Frederick, who, from all the fair and gentle ones around him, chose
you to be his bosom friend and life companion. Kate, Kate! That was
unworthy of you. That was unkind to him. I do not wonder that he was
hurt and offended."
"Perhaps I was wrong, Mrs. Morton," said Kate, as tears began to
flow again. "But Frederick's want of order, grace, and neatness, is
dreadful. I cannot tell you how much it annoys me."
"You saw all this before you were married."
"Not all of it."
"You saw enough to enable you to judge of the rest."
"True; but then I always meant to correct these things in him. They
were but blemishes on a jewel of surpassing value."
"Ah, Kate, you have proved the truth of what I told you before your
marriage. It is not so easy a thing to correct the faults of a
husband—faults confirmed by long habit. Whenever a wife attempts
this, she puts in jeopardy, for the time being at least, her
happiness, as you have done. A man is but little pleased to make the
discovery that his wife thinks him no better than a country
clod-hopper; and it is no wonder that he should be offended, if she,
with strange indiscreetness and want of tact, tells him in plain
terms what she thinks. Your husband is sensitive, Kate."
"I know he is."
"And keenly alive to ridicule."
"I am not aware of that."
"Then your reading of his character is less accurate than mine.
Moreover, he has a pretty good opinion of himself."
"We all have that."
"And a strong will, quiet as he is in exterior."
"Not stronger, perhaps, than I have."
"Take my advice, Kate," said Mrs. Morton, seriously, "and don't
bring your will in direct opposition to his."
"And why not? Am I not his equal? He is no master of mine. I did not
sell myself as his slave, that his will should be my law!"
"Silly child! How madly you talk!" said Mrs. Morton. "Not for the
world would I have Frederick hear such utterance from your lips.
Does he not love you tenderly? Has he not, in every way, sought your
happiness thus far in your brief married life? Is he not a man of
high moral virtue? Does not your alliance with him rather elevate
than depress you in the social rank? And yet, forsooth, because he
lounges in his chair, and permits his body, at times, to assume
ungraceful attitudes, you must throw the apple of discord into your
pleasant home to mar its beautiful harmonies."
"Surely, a wife may be permitted to speak to her husband, and even
seek to correct his faults," said Kate.
"Better shut her eyes to his faults, if seeing them is to make them
both unhappy. You are in a very strange mood, Kate."
"Am I?" returned Mrs. Lee, querulously.
"You are; and the quicker it passes away, the better for both
yourself and husband."
"I don't know how soon it will pass away," sighed Kate, moodily.
"Good-morning," said Mrs. Morton, rising and making a motion to
"You are not going?"
Kate glanced up with a look of surprise.
"Yes; I am afraid to stay here any longer," was the affected serious
reply. "I might catch something of your spirit, and then my husband
would find a change in his pleasant home. Good-morning. May I see
you in a better state of mind when we meet again."
And saying this, Mrs. Morton passed from the room so quickly that
Kate could not arrest the movement; so she remained seated, though a
little disturbed by her friend and monitor's sudden departure.
What Mrs. Morton had said, although it seemed not to impress the
mind of her young friend, yet lingered there, and now began
gradually to do its work.
As for Frederick Lee, he was unhappy enough. The words of Kate had
stung him severely.
"And so, in her eyes, I am no better than a country clod-hopper!"
Almost every hour was this repeated—sometimes mentally and
sometimes aloud; and at each repetition it disturbed his feelings
and awakened an unforgiving spirit.
"A clod-hopper, indeed! Wonder she never made this discovery
This was the thought of Lee as he left his place of business to
return home, on the evening of the day on which Mrs. Morton called
upon Kate. Why would he not look away from this? Why would he ponder
over and magnify the offence of Kate? Why would he keep this ever
before his eyes? His self-love had been wounded. His pride had been
touched. The weapon of ridicule had been used against him, and to
ridicule he was morbidly sensitive. Kate should have read his
character more closely, and should have understood it better. But
she was ignorant of his weaknesses, and bore heavily upon them ere
aware of their existence.
It was in this brooding, clouded, and unforgiving state of mind that
Frederick Lee took his way homeward. On entering his dwelling, which
he did almost noiselessly, he went into the parlour and seated
himself in the very place where he was sitting when Kate began, so
unexpectedly to him, her unsuccessful work of reformation. Every
thing around reminded him of that unfortunate evening—even the
lounging position he so naturally assumed, sliding down, as he did,
in the chair, and throwing one of his legs over the arm.
"It is comfortable for me," said he, moodily to himself; "and it's
my own house. If she don't like it, let her—"
He did not finish the sentence, for he felt that his state of mind
was not what it should be, and that to speak thus of his wife was
neither just nor kind.
Unhappy young man! Is it thus you visit the light offence—for it
was light, in reality—of the loving and gentle young creature who
has given her happiness, her very life into your keeping? Could you
not bear a word from her? Are you so perfect, that her eyes must see
no defect? Is she never to dare, on penalty of your stern
displeasure, to correct a fault—to seek to lift you, by her purer
and better taste, above the ungraceful and unmanly habits consequent
upon a neglected boyhood? What if her hand was laid rather heavily
upon you? What if her feelings did prompt her to use words that had
better been left unsaid? It was the young wife's pride in her
husband that warmed her into undue excitement, and this you should
have at once comprehended.
If Frederick Lee did not think precisely as we have written, his
thoughts gradually inclined in that direction. Still he felt moody,
and his feelings warmed but little toward Kate.
Thus he sat for some ten or fifteen minutes. At the end of this
time, he heard light footsteps coming down the stairs. He knew them
to be those of his wife. He did not move nor make a sound, but
rather crouched lower in his chair, the back of which was turned
toward the door. But his thought was on his wife. He saw her with
the eyes of his mind—saw her with her clouded countenance. His
heart throbbed heavily against his side, and he partially held his
Now her footsteps moved along the passage, and now he was conscious
that she had entered the room where he sat. Not the slightest
movement did he make—not a sign did he give of his presence. There
he sat, shrinking down in his chair, moody, gloomy, and angry with
Kate in his heart.
Was she aware of his presence? Had she heard him enter the house?
Such were the questioning thoughts that were in his mind.
Footsteps moved across the room. Now Kate was at the mantel-piece, a
few feet from the chair he occupied, for he heard her lay a book
thereon. Now she passed to the back window, and throwing it up,
pushed open the shutters, giving freer entrance to the waning light.
A deep silence followed. Now the stillness is broken by a gentle
sigh that floats faintly through the room. How rebukingly smote that
sigh upon the ears of Lee! How it softened his heart toward Kate,
the young and loving wife of his bosom! A slower movement in the
current of his angry feelings succeeds to this. Then it becomes
still. There is a pause.
But where is Kate? Has she left the room? He listens for some
movement, but not the slightest sound meets his ear.
"Kate!" No, he did not utter the word aloud, in tender accents,
though it was in his heart and on his tongue. Nor did he start up or
move. No, as if spell-bound, he remained crouching down in his
All at once he is conscious that some one is bending above him, and,
in the next moment, warm lips touch his forehead, gently,
hesitatingly, yet with a lingering pressure.
"Kate! Dear Kate!"
He has sprung to his feet, and his arms are flung around his wife.
"Forgive me, Frederick, if I seemed unkind to you," sobbed Kate, as
soon as she could command her voice. "There was no unkindness in my
"It is I who most need to ask forgiveness," replied Lee. "I who
"Hush! Not a word of that now," quickly returned Kate, placing her
hand upon his mouth. "Let the past be forgotten."
"And forgiven, too," said Lee, as he pressed his lips eagerly to
those of his wife.
How happy they were at this moment of reconciliation! How light
seemed the causes which had risen up to mar the beautiful harmony of
their lives! Haw weak and foolish both had been, as their acts now
appeared in eyes from which had fallen the scales of passion!
Both were wiser than in the aforetime. Kate tried to look away, as
much as possible, from the little faults which at first so much
annoyed her; while her husband turned his thoughts more narrowly
upon himself, at the same time that he made observation of other
men, and was soon well convinced that sundry changes in his habits
and manners might be made with great advantage. The more his eyes
were opened to these little personal defects, the more fully did he
forgive Kate for having in the beginning laid her hand upon them,
though not in the gentlest manner.
"Six months have passed since you were married," said Mrs. Morton
one day to Kate.
"Yes, six months have flown on wings of perfume," replied the happy
"I saw Frederick yesterday."
"Yes; and I knew him the moment my eyes rested upon him."
"Knew him! Why shouldn't you know him?"
Kate looked a little surprised.
"I thought he was to be so changed under your hands in six months,
that I would hardly recognise him."
There was an arch look in Mrs. Morton's eyes, and a merry flutter in
"Mrs. Morton! Now that is too bad!"
"Your experiment failed, did it not, dear?"
The door of the room in which the ladies were sitting opened at the
moment, and Frederick Lee entered.
"Not entirely," whispered Kate, as she bent to the ear of her
friend. "He is vastly improved—at least, in my eyes."
"And in others' eyes, too," thought Mrs. Morton, as she arose and
returned the young man's smiling salutation.
"MY FORTUNE'S MADE."
My young friend, Cora Lee, was a gay, dashing girl, fond of dress,
and looking always as if, to use a common saying, just out of a
bandbox. Cora was a belle, of course, and had many admirers. Among
the number of these, was a young man named Edward Douglass, who was
the very "pink" of neatness in all matters pertaining to dress, and
exceedingly particular in his observance of the little proprieties
I saw, from the first, that if Douglass pressed his suit, Cora's
heart would be an easy conquest, and so it proved.
"How admirably they are fitted for each other!" I remarked to my
husband, on the night of their wedding. "Their tastes are similar,
and their habits so much alike, that no violence will be done to the
feelings of either in the more intimate associations that marriage
brings. Both are neat in person and orderly by instinct, and both
have good principles."
"From all present appearances, the match will be a good one,"
replied my husband. There was, I thought, something like reservation
in his tone.
"Do you really think so?" I said, a little ironically, for Mr.
Smith's approval of the marriage was hardly warm enough to suit my
"Oh, certainly! Why not?" he replied.
I felt a little fretted at my husband's mode of speaking, but made
no further remark on the subject. He is never very enthusiastic nor
sanguine, and did not mean, in this instance, to doubt the fitness
of the parties for happiness in the marriage state—as I half
imagined. For myself, I warmly approved of my friend's choice, and
called her husband a lucky man to secure, for his companion through
life, a woman so admirably fitted to make one like him happy. But a
visit which I paid to Cora one day about six weeks after the
honeymoon had expired, lessened my enthusiasm on the subject, and
awoke some unpleasant doubts. It happened that I called soon after
breakfast. Cora met me in the parlour, looking like a very fright.
She wore a soiled and rumpled morning wrapper; her hair was in
papers; and she had on dirty stockings, and a pair of old slippers
down at the heels.
"Bless me, Cora!" said I. "What is the matter? Have you been sick?"
"No. Why do you ask? Is my dishabille rather on the extreme?"
"Candidly, I think it is, Cora," was my frank answer.
"Oh, well! No matter," she carelessly replied, "my fortune's made."
"I don't clearly understand you," said I.
"I'm married, you know."
"Yes; I am aware of that fact."
"No need of being so particular in dress now."
"Didn't I just say?" replied Cora. "My fortune's made. I've got a
Beneath an air of jesting, was apparent the real earnestness of my
"You dressed with a careful regard to taste and neatness, in order
to win Edward's love?" said I.
"Certainly I did."
"And should you not do the same in order to retain it?"
"Why, Mrs. Smith! Do you think my husband's affection goes no deeper
than my dress? I should be very sorry indeed to think that. He loves
me for myself."
"No doubt of that in the world, Cora. But remember that he cannot
see what is in your mind except by what you do or say. If he admires
your taste, for instance, it is not from any abstract appreciation
thereof, but because the taste manifests itself in what you do. And,
depend upon it, he will find it a very hard matter to approve and
admire your correct taste in dress, for instance, when you appear
before him, day after day, in your present unattractive attire. If
you do not dress well for your husband's eyes, for whose eyes, pray,
do you dress? You are as neat when abroad as you were before your
"As to that, Mrs. Smith, common decency requires me to dress well
when I go upon the street or into company, to say nothing of the
pride one naturally feels in looking well."
"And does not the same common decency and natural pride argue as
strongly in favour of your dressing well at home, and for the eye of
your husband, whose approval and whose admiration must be dearer to
you than the approval and admiration of the whole world?"
"But he doesn't want to see me rigged out in silks and satins all
the time. A pretty bill my dressmaker would have against him! Edward
has more sense than that, I flatter myself."
"Street or ball-room attire is one thing, Cora, and becoming home
apparel another. We look for both in their places."
Thus I argued with the thoughtless young wife, but my words made no
impression. When abroad, she dressed with exquisite taste, and was
lovely to look upon; but at home, she was careless and slovenly, and
made it almost impossible for those who saw her to realize that she
was the brilliant beauty they had met in company but a short time
before. But even this did not last long. I noticed, after a few
months, that the habits of home were confirming themselves, and
becoming apparent abroad. Her "fortune was made," and why should she
now waste time or employ her thoughts about matters of personal
The habits of Mr. Douglass, on the contrary, did not change. He was
as orderly as before, and dressed with the same regard to neatness.
He never appeared at the breakfast-table in the morning without
being shaved; nor did he lounge about in the evening in his
shirt-sleeves. The slovenly habits into which Cora had fallen
annoyed him seriously; and still more so, when her carelessness
about her appearance began to manifest itself abroad as well as at
home. When he hinted any thing on the subject, she did not hesitate
to reply, in a jesting manner, that her fortune was made, and she
need not trouble herself any longer about how she looked.
Douglass did not feel very much complimented; but as he had his
share of good sense, he saw that to assume a cold and offended
manner would do no good.
"If your fortune is made, so is mine," he replied on one occasion,
quite coolly and indifferently. Next morning he made his appearance
at the breakfast table with a beard of twenty-four hours' growth.
"You haven't shaved this morning, dear," said Cora, to whose eyes
the dirty-looking face of her husband was particularly unpleasant.
"No," he replied, carelessly. "It's a serious trouble to shave every
"But you look so much better with a cleanly-shaved face."
"Looks are nothing—ease and comfort every thing," said Douglass.
"But common decency, Edward."
"I see nothing indecent in a long beard," replied the husband.
Still Cora argued, but in vain. Her husband went off to his business
with his unshaven face.
"I don't know whether to shave or not," said Douglass next morning,
running his hand over his rough face, upon which was a beard of
forty-eight hours' growth. His wife had hastily thrown on a wrapper,
and, with slip-shod feet and head like a mop, was lounging in a
large rocking-chair, awaiting the breakfast-bell.
"For mercy's sake, Edward, don't go any longer with that shockingly
dirty face," spoke up Cora. "If you knew how dreadfully you look!"
"Looks are nothing," replied Edward, stroking his beard.
"Why, what's come over you all at once?"
"Nothing; only it's such a trouble to shave every day."
"But you didn't shave yesterday."
"I know; I am just as well off to-day as if I had. So much saved, at
But Cora urged the matter, and her husband finally yielded, and
mowed down the luxuriant growth of beard.
"How much better you do look!" said the young wife. "Now don't go
another day without shaving."
"But why should I take so much trouble about mere looks? I'm just as
good with a long beard as with a short one. It's a great deal of
trouble to shave every day. You can love me just as well; and why
need I care about what others say or think?"
On the following morning, Douglass appeared not only with a long
beard, but with a bosom and collar that were both soiled and
"Why, Edward! How you do look!" said Cora. "You've neither shaved
nor put on a clean shirt."
Edward stroked his face and run his fingers along the edge of his
collar, remarking, indifferently, as he did so—
"It's no matter. I look well enough. This being so very particular
in dress is waste of time, and I'm getting tired of it."
And in this trim Douglass went off to his business, much to the
annoyance of his wife, who could not bear to see her husband looking
Gradually the declension from neatness went on, until Edward was
quite a match for his wife; and yet, strange to say, Cora had not
taken the hint, broad as it was. In her own person she was as untidy
About six months after their marriage, we invited a few friends to
spend a social evening with us, Cora and her husband among the
number. Cora came alone, quite early, and said that her husband was
very much engaged, and could not come until after tea. My young
friend had not taken much pains with her attire. Indeed, her
appearance mortified me, as it contrasted so decidedly with that of
the other ladies who were present; and I could not help suggesting
to her that she was wrong in being so indifferent about her dress.
But she laughingly replied to me—
"You know my fortune's made now, Mrs. Smith. I can afford to be
negligent in these matters. It's a great waste of time to dress so
I tried to argue against this, but could make no impression upon
About an hour after tea, and while we were all engaged in pleasant
conversation, the door of the parlour opened, and in walked Mr.
Douglass. At first glance I thought I must be mistaken. But no, it
was Edward himself. But what a figure he did cut! His uncombed hair
was standing up, in stiff spikes, in a hundred different directions;
his face could not have felt the touch of a razor for two or three
days; and he was guiltless of clean linen for at least the same
length of time. His vest was soiled; his boots unblacked; and there
was an unmistakable hole in one of his elbows.
"Why, Edward!" exclaimed his wife, with a look of mortification and
distress, as her husband came across the room, with a face in which
no consciousness of the figure he cut could be detected.
"Why, my dear fellow! What is the matter?" said my husband, frankly;
for he perceived that the ladies were beginning to titter, and that
the gentlemen were looking at each other, and trying to repress
their risible tendencies; and therefore deemed it best to throw off
all reserve on the subject.
"The matter? Nothing's the matter, I believe. Why do you ask?"
Douglass looked grave.
"Well may he ask, what's the matter?" broke in Cora, energetically.
"How could you come here in such a plight?"
"In such a plight?" And Edward looked down at himself, felt his
beard, and ran his fingers through his hair. "What's the matter? Is
any thing wrong?"
"You look as if you'd just waked up from a nap of a week with your
clothes on, and come off without washing your face or combing your
hair," said my husband.
"Oh!" And Edward's countenance brightened a little. Then he said
with much gravity of manner—
"I've been extremely hurried of late; and only left my store a few
minutes ago. I hardly thought it worth while to go home to dress up.
I knew we were all friends here. Besides, as my fortune is
made"—and he glanced with a look not to be mistaken toward his
wife—"I don't feel called upon to give as much attention to mere
dress as formerly. Before I was married, it was necessary to be
particular in these matters, but now it's of no consequence."
I turned toward Cora. Her face was like crimson. In a few moments
she arose and went quickly from the room. I followed her, and Edward
came after us pretty soon. He found his wife in tears, and sobbing
"I've got a carriage at the door," said he to me, aside, half
laughing, half serious. "So help her on with her things, and we'll
retire in disorder."
"But it's too bad in you, Mr. Douglass," replied I.
"Forgive me for making your house the scene of this lesson to Cora,"
he whispered. "It had to be given, and I thought I could venture to
trespass upon your forbearance."
"I'll think about that," said I, in return.
In a few minutes Cora and her husband retired, and in spite of good
breeding and every thing else, we all had a hearty laugh over the
matter, on my return to the parlour, where I explained the curious
little scene that had just occurred.
How Cora and her husband settled the affair between themselves, I
never inquired. But one thing is certain, I never saw her in a
slovenly dress afterward, at home or abroad. She was cured.
THE GOOD MATCH.
"MY heart is now at rest," remarked Mrs. Presstman to her sister,
Mrs. Markland. "Florence has done so well. The match is such a good
Mrs. Presstman spoke with animation, but her sister's countenance
remained rather grave.
"Mr. Barker is worth at least eighty thousand dollars," resumed Mrs.
Presstman. "And my husband says, that if he prospers in business as
he has done for the last ten years, he will be the richest merchant
in the city. Don't you think we have been fortunate in marrying
Florence so well?"
"So far as the securing of wealth goes, Florence has certainly done
very well," returned Mrs. Markland. "But, surely, sister, you have a
higher idea of marriage than to suppose that wealth in a husband is
the primary thing. The quality of his mind is of much more
"Oh, certainly, that is not to be lost sight of. Mr. Barker is an
excellent man. Every one speaks well of him. No one stands higher in
the community than he does."
"That may be. But the general estimation in which a man is held does
not, by any means, determine his fitness to become the husband of
one like Florence. I think that when I was here last spring, there
was some talk of her preference for a young physician. Was such
really the case?"
"There was something of that kind," replied Mrs. Presstman, the
colour becoming a very little deeper on her cheek—"a foolish notion
of the girl's. But that was broken off long ago. It would not do. We
could not afford to let her marry a young doctor with a poor
practice. We knew her to be worthy something much higher, as the
result has shown."
"Doctor Estill, I believe, was his name?"
"I remember him very well—and liked him much. Was Mr. Barker
preferred by Florence to Doctor Estill?"
"Why, yes—no—not at first," half-stammered Mrs. Presstman. "That
is, you know, she was foolish, like all young girls, and thought she
loved him. But that passed away. She is now as happy as she can be."
Mrs. Markland felt that it was not exactly right to press this
matter now that the mischief, if any there were, had been done, and
so remarked no further upon the subject. But the admission made in
her sister's reply to her last question pained her. It corroborated
a suspicion that crossed her mind, when she saw her niece, that all
was not right within—that the good match which had been made was
only good in appearance. She had loved Florence for the innocence,
purity, and elevation of soul that so sweetly characterized her. She
knew her to be susceptible of tender impressions, and capable of
loving deeply an object really worthy of her love. This plant had
been, she feared, removed from the warm green-house of home, where
the earth had touched tenderly its delicate roots, while its leaves
put forth in a genial air, and placed in a hard soil and a chilling
atmosphere, still to live on, but with its beauty and fragrance
gone. She might be mistaken. But appearances troubled her.
Mrs. Markland lived in a neighbouring city, and was on a visit to
her sister. During the two weeks that elapsed, while paying this
visit, she heard a great deal about the excellent match that
Florence had made. No one of the acquaintances of the family had any
thing to say that was not congratulatory. More than one mother of an
unmarried daughter, she had good cause for concluding, envied her
sister the happiness of having the rich Mr. Barker for a son-in-law.
When she parted with her niece, on the eve of her return home, there
were tears in her mild blue eyes. It was natural—for Florence loved
her aunt, and to part with her was painful. Still, those tears
troubled Mrs. Markland. She ought of them hours, and days, and
months after, as a token that all was not right in her gentle
Briefly let us now sketch a scene that passed twenty years from this
period. Twenty years! That is a long time. Yes—but it is a period
that tests the truth or falsity of the leading principles with which
we set out in life. Twenty years! Ah! how many, even long before
that time elapses, prove the fallaciousness of their hopes! discover
the sandy foundation upon which they have built!
Let us introduce Mrs. Barker. Her husband has realized even more
than he had hoped for, in the item of wealth. He is worth a million.
Rather a small sum in his eye, it is true, now that he possesses it.
And from this very fact, its smallness, he is not happy—for is not
Mr. T—worth three millions of dollars? Mr. T—, who is no
better, if as good as he is? But what of Mrs. Barker? Ah, yes. Let
us see how time has passed with her. Let us see if the hours have
danced along with her to measures of glad music, or in cadence with
a pensive strain. Has hers indeed been a good match? We shall see.
Is that sedate-looking woman, with such a cold expression upon her
face, who sits in that elaborately furnished saloon, or parlour,
dreamily looking into the glowing grate, Mrs. Barker? Yes, that is
the woman who made a good match. Can this indeed be so? I see, in
imagination, a gentle, loving creature, whose eyes and ears are open
to all things beautiful in creation, and whose heart is moved by all
that is good and true. Impelled by the very nature into which she
has been born—woman's nature—her spirit yearns for high, holy,
interior companionship. She enters into that highest, holiest, most
interior relationship—marriage. She must be purely happy. Is this
so? Can the woman we have introduced at the end of twenty years be
the same being with this gentle girl? Alas! that we should have it
to say that it is so. There has been no affliction to produce this
change—no misfortune. The children she has borne are all about her,
and wealth has been poured liberally into her lap. No external wish
has been ungratified. Why, then, should her face wear habitually so
strange an expression as it does?
She had been seated for more than half an hour in an abstract mood,
when some one came in. She knew the step. It was that of her
husband. But she did not turn to him, nor seem conscious of his
presence. He merely glanced toward his wife, and then sat down at
some distance from her, and took up a newspaper. Thus they remained
until a bell announced the evening meal, when both arose and passed
in silence to the tea-room. There they were joined by their four
children, the eldest at that lovely age when the girl has blushed
into young womanhood. All arranged themselves about the table, the
younger children conversing together in an under tone, but the
father, and mother, and Florence, the oldest child, remaining
silent, abstracted, and evidently unhappy from some cause.
The mother and daughter eat but little, and that compulsorily. After
the meal was finished, the latter retired to her own apartment, the
other children remained with their books in the family sitting-room,
and Mr. and Mrs. Barker returned to the parlour.
"I am really out of all patience with you and Florence!" the former
said, angrily, as he seated himself beside his wife, in front of the
grate. "One would think some terrible calamity were about to
Mrs. Barker made no reply to this. In a moment or two her husband
went on, in a dogmatical tone.
"It's the very best match the city affords. Show me another in any
way comparable. Is not Lorimer worth at least two millions?—and is
not Harman his only son and heir? Surely you and the girl must both
be beside yourselves to think of objecting for a single moment."
"A good match is not always made so by wealth," Mrs. Barker
returned, in a firm voice, compressing her lips tightly, as she
closed the brief sentence.
"You are beside yourself," said the husband, half sneeringly.
"Perhaps I am," somewhat meekly replied Mrs. Barker. Then becoming
suddenly excited from the quick glancing of certain thoughts through
her mind, she retorted angrily. Her husband did not hesitate to
reply in a like spirit. Then ensued a war of words, which ended in a
positive declaration that Florence should marry Harman Lorimer. At
this the mother burst into tears and left the room.
After that declaration was made, Mrs. Barker knew that further
opposition on her part was useless. Florence was gradually brought
over by the force of angry threats, persuasions, and arguments, so
as finally to consent to become the wife of a man from whom her
heart turned with instinctive aversion. But every one called it such
a good match, and congratulated the father and mother upon the
What Mrs. Barker suffered before, during, and after the brilliant
festivities that accompanied her tenderly-loved daughter's
sacrifice, cannot all be known. Her own heart's history for twenty
long years came up before her, and every page of that history she
read over, with a weeping spirit, as the history of her sweet child
for the dreary future. How many a leaf in her heart had been touched
by the frost; had withered, shrunk, and dropped from affection's
stem—how many a bud had failed to show its promised petals—how
many a blossom had drooped and died ere the tender germ in its bosom
could come forth into hardy existence. Inanimate golden leaves, and
buds, and blossoms—nay, even fruits were a poor substitute for
these. A woman's heart cannot be satisfied with them.
In her own mind, obduracy and coldness had supervened to the first
states of disappointed affection. But her heart had rebelled through
long, long years against the violence to which it had been
subjected—and the calmness, or rather indifference, that at last
followed was only like ice upon the surface of a stream—the water
still flowing on beneath. Death to the mother would have been a
willing sacrifice, could it have saved her child from the living
death that she had suffered. But it would not. The father was a
resolute tyrant. Money was his god, and to that god he offered up
even his child in sacrifice.
Need the rambling hints contained in this brief sketch—this dim
outline—be followed by any enforcing reflections? An opposite
picture, full of light and warmth, might be drawn, but would it tend
to bring the truth to clearer perception, where mothers—true
mothers—mothers in spirit as well as in name—are those to whom we
hold up the first picture? We think not.
Wealth, reputation, honours, high intelligence in a man—all or
either of these—do not constitute him a good match for your child.
Marriage is of the heart—the blending of affection with affection,
and thought with thought. How, then, can one who loves all that is
innocent, and pure, and holy, become interiorly conjoined with a man
who is a gross, selfish sensualist? a man who finds happiness only
in the external possession of wealth, or honours, or in the
indulgence of luxuries? It is impossible! Take away these, and give
her, in their stead, one with whom her affections can blend in
perfect harmony—one with whom she can become united as one—and
earth will be to her a little heaven.
In the opposite course, alas! the evil does not always stop with
your own child. The curse is too often continued unto the third and
fourth generation—yea, even through long succeeding ages—to
eternity itself! Who can calculate the evil that may flow from a
single perversion of the marriage union—that is, a marriage entered
into from other than the true motives? None but God himself!
THE BROTHER'S TEMPTATION.
"COME, Henry," said Blanche Armour to her brother, who had seemed
unusually silent and thoughtful since tea time,—"I want you to read
while I make this cap for ma."
"Excuse me, Blanche, if you please, I don't feel like reading
to-night," the brother replied, shading his face both from the light
and the penetrating glance of his sister, as he spoke.
Blanche did not repeat the request, for it was a habit with her
never to urge her brother; nor, indeed, any one, to do a thing for
which he seemed disinclined. She, therefore, took her work-basket,
and sat down by the centre-table, without saying any thing farther,
and commenced sewing. But she did not feel quite easy, for it was
too apparent that Henry was disturbed about something. For several
days he had seemed more than usually reserved and thoughtful. Now he
was gloomy as well as thoughtful. Of course, there was a cause for
this. And as this cause was hidden from Blanche, she could not but
feel troubled. Several times during the evening she attempted to
draw him out into conversation, but he would reply to her in
monosyllables, and then fall back into his state of silent
abstraction of mind. Once or twice he got up and walked across the
floor, and then again resumed his seat, as if he had compelled
himself to sit down by a strong effort of the will. Thus the time
passed away, until the usual hour of retiring for the night came,
when Blanche put up her work, and rising from her chair by the
centre-table, went to Henry, and stooping down over him, as he lay
half reclined upon the sofa, kissed him tenderly, and murmured an
affectionate "good night."
"Good night, dear," he returned, without rising or adding another
Blanche lingered a moment, and then, with a repressed sigh, left the
room, and retired to her chamber. She could not understand her
brother's strange mood. For him to be troubled and silent was
altogether new. And the cause? Why should he conceal it from her,
toward whom, till now, he had never withheld any thing that gave him
either pleasure or pain?
The moment Blanche retired, the whole manner of Henry Armour
changed. He arose from the sofa and commenced walking the floor with
rapid steps, while the deep lines upon his forehead and his strongly
compressed lips showed him to be labouring under some powerful
mental excitement. He continued to walk thus hurriedly backward and
forward for the space of half an hour; when, as if some long debated
point had been at last decided, he grasped the parlour door with a
firm hand, threw it open, took from the rack his hat, cloak, and
cane, and in a few moments was in the street.
The jar of the street door, as it closed, was distinctly heard by
Blanche, and this caused the troubled feeling which had oppressed
her all the evening, to change into one of anxiety. Where could
Henry be going at this late hour? He rarely stayed out beyond ten
o'clock; and she had never before known him to leave the house after
the usual bedtime of the family. His going out had, of course,
something to do with his unhappy mood. What could it mean? She could
not suspect him of any wrong. She knew him to be too pure-minded and
honourable. But there was mystery connected with his conduct—and
this troubled her. She had just laid aside a book, that she had
taken up for the purpose of reading a few pages before retiring for
the night, and commenced disrobing herself, when the sound of the
door closing after her brother startled her, and caused her to pause
and think. She could not now retire, for to sleep would be
impossible. She, therefore, drew a shawl about her, and again
resumed her book, determined to sit up until Henry's return. But
little that she read made a very distinct impression on her mind.
Her thoughts were with her brother, whom she tenderly loved, and had
learned to confide in as one of pure sentiments and firm principles.
While Henry Armour still lingered at home in moody indecision of
mind, a small party of young men were assembled in an upper room of
a celebrated refectory, drinking, smoking, and indulging in
conversation, a large portion of which would have shocked a modest
ear. They were all members of wealthy and respectable families. Some
had passed their majority, and others still lingered between
nineteen and twenty-one,—that dangerous age for a young
man—especially if he be so unfortunate as to have little to do, and
a liberal supply of pocket money.
"Confound the fellow! What keeps him so long?" said one of the
company, looking at his watch. "It's nearly ten o'clock, and he has
not made his appearance."
"Whom do you mean? Armour?" asked another.
"Certainly I do. He promised to join us again to-night."
"So he did! But I'll bet a pewter sixpence he won't come."
"His sister won't let him. Don't you know that he is tied to her
apron string almost every night, the silly fellow! Why don't he be a
man, and enjoy life as it goes?"
"Sure enough! What is life worth, if its pleasures are all to be
sacrificed for a sister?" returned the other, sneeringly.
"Here! Pass that champagne," interrupted one of the company. "Let
Harry Armour break his engagement for a sister if he likes. That
needn't mar our enjoyment. There are enough of us here for a regular
"Here's a toast," cried another, as he lifted a sparkling glass to
his lips—"Pleasant dreams to the old folks!"
"Good! Good! Good!" passed round the table, about which the young
revellers were gathered, and each drained a glass to the well
In the mean time, young Armour had left his home, having decided at
last, and after a long struggle with himself, to join this gay
company, as he had agreed to do. It was, in fact, a little club,
formed a short time previous, the members of which met once a week
to eat, drink, smoke, and corrupt each other by ridiculing those
salutary moral restraints which, once laid aside, leave the
thoughtless youth in imminent danger of ruin.
Henry Armour had been blessed with a sister a year or two older than
himself, who loved him tenderly. The more rapid development of her
mind, as well as body, had given her the appearance of maturity that
enabled her to exercise a strong influence over him. Of the dangers
that beset the path of a young man, she knew little or nothing. The
constant effort which she made to render home agreeable to her
brother by consulting his tastes, and entering into every thing that
seemed to give him pleasure, did not, therefore, spring from a wish
to guard him from the world's allurements; it was the spontaneous
result of a pure fraternal affection. But it had the right effect.
To him, there was no place like home; nor any smile so alluring, or
voice so sweet, as his sister's. And abroad, no company possessed a
perfect charm, unless Blanche were one of its members.
This continued until Henry gained his twenty-second year, when, as a
law student, he found himself thrown more and more into the company
of young men of his own age, and the same standing in society. An
occasional ride out with one and another of these, at which times an
hour at least was always spent in a public house, opened to him new
scenes in life, and for a young man of lively, buoyant mind, not
altogether unattractive. That there was danger in these paths he did
not attempt to disguise from himself. More than one, or two, or
three, whom he met on almost every visit he made to a fashionable
resort for young men, about five miles from the city, showed too
strong indications of having passed beyond the bounds of
self-control, as well in their use of wines and stronger drinks as
in their conduct, which was too free from those external decent
restraints that we look for even in men who make no pretensions to
virtue. But he did not fear for himself. The exhibitions which these
made of themselves instinctively disgusted him. Still, he did not
perceive that he was less and less shocked at some things he beheld,
and more than at first inclined to laugh at follies which verged too
nearly upon moral delinquencies.
Gradually his circle of acquaintance with young men of the gay class
extended, and a freer participation with them in many of their
pleasures came as a natural consequence.
"Come," said one of them to him, as the two met in the street, by
accident, one evening,—"I want you to go with me."
"But why should I go with you? Or, rather, where are you going?"
"To meet some of our friends down at C—'s," replied the young
"What are you going to do there?" farther inquired Armour.
"Nothing more than to drink a glass of wine, and have some pleasant
chit-chat. So come along."
"Will I be welcome?"
"Certainly you will. I'll guarantee that. Some half dozen of us have
formed a little club, and each member has the privilege of inviting
any one he pleases. To-night I invite you, and on the next evening I
expect to see you present, not as a guest, but as a member. So come
along, and see how you like us."
Armour had no definite object in view. He had walked out, because he
felt rather listless at home, Blanche having retired with a sick
headache. It required, therefore, no persuasion to induce him to
yield to the friend's invitation. Arrived at C—'s, a fashionable
house of refreshment, the two young men passed up stairs and entered
one of the private apartments of the house, which they found
handsomely furnished and brilliantly lighted. In this, gathered
around a circular, or rather oblong table, were five or six young
men, nearly all of them well known to Armour. On the table were
bottles of wine and glasses—the latter filled.
"Just in time!" cried the president of the club. "Henry Armour, I
bid you welcome! Here's a place waiting for you," placing his hand
upon a chair by his side as he spoke. "And now," as Armour seated
himself, "let me fill your glass. We were waiting for a sentiment to
find its way out of some brain as you came in, and our brimming
glasses had stood untasted for more than a minute. Can't you help us
to a toast?"
"Here's to good fellowship!" said Armour, promptly lifting his
glass, and touching it to that of the president.
"To be drunk standing," added the president.
All rose on the instant, and drank with mock solemnity to the
sentiment of their guest.
Then followed brilliant flashes of wit, or what was thought to be
wit. To these succeeded the song, the jest, the story,—and to these
again the sparkling wine-cup. Gayly thus passed the hours, until
midnight stole quietly upon the thoughtless revellers. Surprised, on
reference to his watch, to find that it was one o'clock, Armour
arose and begged to be excused.
"I move that our guest be excused on one condition," said the friend
who had brought him to the company. "And that is, on his promise to
meet with us again, on this evening next week."
"What do you think of the condition?" asked the president, who, like
nearly all of the rest, was rather the worse for the wine he had
taken, looking at Armour as he spoke.
"I agree to it with pleasure," was the prompt reply.
"Another drink before you go, then," said the president, "and I will
give the toast. Fill up your glasses."
The bottle again passed round the table.
"Here's to a good fellow!" was the sentiment announced. It was
received standing. Armour then retired with bewildered senses. The
gay scene that had floated before his eyes, and in which himself had
been an actor, and the freedom with which he had taken wine, left
him confused, almost in regard to his own identity. He did not seem
to himself the same person he had been a few hours before. A new
world had opened before him, and he had, almost involuntarily,
entered into, and become a citizen of that world. Long after he had
reached his home, and retired to his bed, did his imagination revel
amid the scenes he had just left. In sleep, too, fancy was busy. But
here came a change. Serpents would too often glide across the table
around which the gay company, himself a member, were assembled; or
some other sudden and more appalling change scatter into fragments
the bright phantasma of his dreams.
The sober morning found him in a soberer mood. Calm, cold,
unimpassioned reflection came. What had he been doing? What path had
he entered; and whither did it lead? These were questions that would
intrude themselves, and clamour for an answer. He shut his eyes and
endeavoured again to sleep. Waking thoughts were worse than the airy
terrors which had visited him in sleep. At length he arose, with
dull pains in his head, and an oppressive sluggishness of the whole
body. But more painful than his own reflections, or the physical
consequences of the last night's irregularity, was the thought of
meeting Blanche, and bearing the glance of her innocent eyes. He
felt that he had been among the impure,—and worse, that he had
enjoyed their impure sentiments, and indulged with them in excess of
wine. The taint was upon him, and the pure mind of his sister must
instinctively perceive it. These thoughts made him wretched. He
really dreaded to meet her. But this could not be avoided.
"You do not look well, brother," said Blanche, almost as soon as she
"I am not well," he replied, avoiding her steady look. "My head
aches, and I feel dull and heavy."
"What has caused it, brother?" the affectionate girl asked, with a
look and voice of real concern.
Now this was, of all others, the question that Henry was least
prepared to answer. He could not utter a direct falsehood. From that
his firm principles shrunk. Nor could he equivocate, for he
considered equivocation little better than a direct falsehood. "Why
should I wish to conceal any part of my conduct from her?" he asked
himself, in his dilemma. But the answer was instant and conclusive.
His participation in the revelry of the last night was a thing not
to be whispered in her ear. Not being prepared, then, to tell the
truth, and shrinking from falsehood and equivocation, Armour
preferred silence as the least evil of the three. The question of
Blanche was not, therefore, answered. At the breakfast-table, his
father and mother remarked upon his appearance. To this, he merely
replied that he was not well. As soon as the meal was over, he went
out, glad to escape the eye of Blanche, which, it seemed to him,
rested searchingly upon him all the while.
A walk of half an hour in the fresh morning air dispelled the dull
pain in his head, and restored his whole system to a more healthy
tone. This drove away, to some extent, the oppressive feeling of
self-condemnation he had indulged. The scenes of the previous
evening, though silly enough for sensible young men to engage in,
seemed less objectionable than they had appeared to him on his first
review. To laugh involuntarily at several remembered jests and
stories, the points of which were not exactly the most chaste or
reverential, marked the change that a short period had produced in
his state of mind. During that day, he did not fall in with any of
his wild companions of the last evening, too many of whom had
already fairly entered the road to ruin. The evening was spent at
home, in the society of Blanche. He read while she sewed, or he
turned for her the leaves of her music book, or accompanied her upon
the flute while she played him a favourite air upon the piano.
Conversation upon books, music, society, and other topics of
interest, filled up the time not occupied in these mental
recreations, and added zest, variety, and unflagging interest to the
gently-passing hours. On the next evening they attended a concert,
and on the next a party. On that succeeding, Henry went out to see a
friend of a different character from any of those with whom he had
passed the hours a few nights previous—a friend about his own age,
of fixed habits and principles, who, like himself, was preparing for
the bar. With him he spent a more rational evening than with the
others, and, what was better, no sting was left behind.
Still, young Armour could never think of the "club" without having
his mind thrown into a tumult. It awoke into activity opposing
principles. Good and evil came in contact, and battled for
supremacy. There was in his mind a clear conviction that to indulge
in dissipation of that character, would be injurious both to moral
and physical health. And yet, having tasted of the delusive sweets,
he was tempted to further indulgence. Meeting with some two or three
of the "members" during the week, and listening to their extravagant
praise of the "club," and the pleasure of uniting in unrestrained
social intercourse, made warm by generous wine, tended to make more
active the contest going on within—for the good principles that had
been stored up in his mind were not to be easily silenced. Their
hold upon his character was deep. They had entered into its warp and
woof, and were not to be eradicated or silenced in a moment. As the
time for the next meeting of the club approached, this battle grew
more violent. The condition into which it had brought him by the
arrival of the night on which he had promised again to join his gay
friends, the reader has already seen. He was still unable to decide
his course of action. Inclination prompted him to go; good
principles opposed. "But then I have passed my word that I would go,
and my word must be inviolable." Here reason came in to the aid of
his inclinations, and made in their favour a strong preponderance.
We have seen that, yet undecided, he lingered at home, but in a
state of mind strangely different from any in which his sister had
ever seen him. Still debating the question, he lay, half reclined
upon the sofa, when Blanche touched her innocent lips to his, and
murmured a tender good-night. That kiss passed through his frame
like an electric current. It came just as his imagination had
pictured an impure image, and scattered it instantly. But no
decision of the question had yet been made, and the withdrawal of
Blanche only took off an external restraint from his feelings. He
quietly arose and commenced pacing the floor. This he continued for
some time. At last the decision was made.
"I have passed my word, and that ends it," said he, and instantly
left the house. Without permitting himself to review the matter
again, although a voice within asked loudly to be heard, he walked
hastily in the direction of the club-room. In ten minutes he gained
the door, opened it without pausing, and stood in the midst of the
wild company within. His entrance was greeted with shouts of
welcome, and the toast, "Here's to a good fellow!" with which he had
parted from them, was repeated on his return, all standing as it was
To this followed a sentiment that cannot be repeated here. It was
too gross. All drunk to it but Armour. He could not, for it involved
a foul slander upon the other sex, and he had a sister whose pure
kiss was yet warm upon his lips. The individual who proposed the
toast marked this omission, and pointed it out by saying—
"What's the matter, Harry? Is not the wine good?"
The colour mounted to the young man's face as he replied, with a
"Yes, much better than the sentiment."
"What ails the sentiment?" asked the propounder of it, in a tone of
"I have a sister," was the brief, firm reply of Armour.
"So Charley, here, was just saying," retorted the other, with a
merry laugh; "and, what is more, that he'd bet a sixpence you were
tied to her apron-string, and would not be here to-night! Ha! ha!"
The effect of this upon the mind of Armour was decisive. He loved,
nay, almost revered his sister.
She had been like an angel of innocence about his path from early
years. He knew her to be as pure as the mountain snow-flake. And yet
that sister's influence over him was sneered at by one who had just
uttered a foul-mouthed slander upon her whole sex. The scales fell
instantly from his eyes. He saw the dangerous ground upon, which he
stood; while the character of his associates appeared in a new
light. They were on a road that he did not wish to travel. There
were serpents concealed amid the flowers that sprung along their
path, and he shuddered as he thought of their poisonous fangs. Quick
as a flash of light, these things passed through his mind, and
caused him to act with instant resolution. Rising from the chair he
had already taken, he retired, without a word, from the room. A
sneering laugh followed him, but he either heard it not or gave it
The book which Blanche resumed after she had heard her brother go
out, soon ceased to interest her. She was too much troubled about
him to be able to fix her mind on any thing else. His singularly
disturbed state, and the fact of his having left the house at that
late hour, caused her to feel great uneasiness. This was beginning
to excite her imagination, and to cause her to fancy many reasons
for his strange conduct, none of which were calculated in any degree
to allay the anxiety she felt. Anxiety was fast verging upon serious
alarm, when she heard the sound of footsteps approaching the house.
She listened breathlessly. Surely it was the sound of Henry's
footsteps! Yes! Yes! It was indeed her brother. The tears gushed
from her eyes as she heard him enter below and pass up to his
chamber. He was safe from harm, and for this her heart lifted itself
up in fervent thankfulness! How near he had been to falling, that
pure-minded maiden never knew, nor how it had been her image and the
remembrance of her parting kiss that had saved him in the moment of
his greatest danger. Happy he who is blest with such a sister! And
happier still, if her innocence be suffered to overshadow him in the
hours of temptation!
THE HOME OF TASTE.
THERE are three words, in the utterance of which more power over the
feelings is gained than in the utterance of any other words in the
language. These are "Mother," "Home," and "Heaven." Each appeals to
a different emotion—each bears influence over the heart from the
cradle to the grave.—And just in the degree that this influence is
active, are man's best interests secured for time and eternity.
Only of "home" do we here intend to speak; and, in particular, as to
the influence of the home of taste. We hear much, in these days, of
enlarging the sphere of woman's social duties; as if, in the sphere
of home, nothing remained to be done, and she must either fold her
hands in idleness, or step forth to engage with man in life's
sterner conflicts. But it is not true that our homes are as they
might be, if their presiding genius fully comprehended all that was
needed to make home what the word implies. Among those in poorer
circumstances, this is especially so. They are too apt to regard
matters of taste as mere superfluities; to speak lightly of order,
neatness, and ornament; to think time and money spent on such things
as useless. But this is a serious mistake, involving, often, the
most lamentable consequences.
If we expect our children to grow up with a love for things pure and
orderly, we must surround them with the representations thereof in
the homes where first impressions are formed. The mind rests upon
and is moulded by things external to a far greater extent than many
suppose. These are not only a mirror, reflecting all that passes
before the surface, but a highly sensitive mirror, that, like the
Daguerreotype plate, retains the image it receives. If the image be
orderly and beautiful, it will ever have power to excite orderly and
beautiful thoughts in the mind; but if it be impure and disorderly,
its lasting influence will be debasing. If you meet with a coarse,
vulgar-minded man or woman, and are able to trace back the thread of
life until the period of early years, you will be sure to find the
existence of coarse and vulgar influences; and, in most cases, the
opposite will alike be found to hold good.
There is no excuse for disorder in a household, no matter how small
or how low the range of income, but idleness or indifference. The
time required to maintain neatness, order, and cleanliness, is
small, if the will is active and the hands prompt. Every home, even
the poorest, may become a home of taste, and present order and forms
of beauty, if there is only a willing purpose in the mind.
It is often charged upon men—particularly operatives with low
wages—that they do not love their homes, preferring to spend their
evening hours in bar-rooms, or wandering about with other men as
little attracted by the household sphere as themselves, until the
time for rest. If you were to go into the homes of such, in most
cases, you would hardly wonder at the aversion manifested. The
dirty, disordered rooms, which their toiling wives deem it a waste
of time and labour to make tidy and comfortable for their reception,
it would be a perversion to call homes. Home attracts; but these
repel. And so, with a feeling of discomfort, the men wander away,
fall into temptation, and usually spend, in self-indulgence, money
that otherwise would have gone to increase home comforts, if there
had been any to increase. And so it is, in its degree, in the homes
of every class. The more pleasant, orderly, and tasteful home is
made, in all its departments and associations, the stronger is its
attractive power, and the more potent its influence over those who
are required to go forth into the world and meet its thousand
allurements. If every thing is right there, it will surely draw them
back, with a steady retraction, through all their absent moments,
and they will feel, on repassing the threshold, that, in the wide,
wide world, there is no spot to them so full of blessings.
What true woman does not aspire to be the genius of such a home?
THE TWO SYSTEMS.
"IT'S no use to talk; I can't do it. The idea of punishing a child
in cold blood makes me shiver all over. I certainly think that, in
the mind of any one who can do it, there must be a latent vein of
This remark was made by Mrs. Stanley to her friend and visiter Mrs.
"I have known parents," she continued, "who would go about executing
some punishment with a coolness and deliberation that to me was
frightful. No promise, no appeal, no tear of alarm or agony, from
the penitent little culprit, would have the least effect. The law
must be fulfilled even to the jot and tittle."
"The disobedient child, doubtless, knew the law," remarked Mrs.
"Perhaps so. But even if it did, great allowance ought to be made
for the ardor with which children seek the gratification of their
desires, and the readiness with which they forget."
"No parent should lay down a law not right in itself; nor one
obedience to which was not good for the child."
"But it is very hard to do this. We have not the wisdom of Solomon.
Every day, nay, almost every hour, we err in judgment; and
especially in a matter so little understood as the management of
"Better, then, have very few laws, and them of the clearest kind.
But, having them, implicit obedience should be exacted. At least,
that is my rule."
"And you punish for every infraction?"
"Certainly. But, I am always sure that the child is fully aware of
his fault, and let my punishment be graduated according to the
wilfulness of the act."
"And you do this coolly?"
"Oh, yes. I never punish a child while I am excited with a feeling
of indignation for the offence."
"If I waited for that to pass off, I could never punish one of my
"Do you find, under this system, that your children are growing up
orderly and obedient?"
"No, indeed! Of course I do not. Who ever heard of orderly and
obedient children? In fact, who would wish their children to be mere
automatons? I am sure I would not. They are, by nature, restless,
and impatient of control. It will not do to break down their young
spirits. As for punishments, I don't believe much in them, any how.
I have an idea that the less they are brought into requisition the
better. They harden children. Kindness, long suffering, and
forbearance will accomplish a great deal more, and in the end be
better for the child."
At this moment a little fellow came sliding into the parlour, with a
look that said plainly enough, "I know you don't want me here."
"Run out, Charley, dear," said Mrs. Stanley, in a mild voice.
But Charley did not seem to notice his mother's words, for he
continued advancing toward her, until he was by her side, when he
paused and looked the visiter steadily in the face.
"Charley, you must run out, my dear," said Mrs. Stanley, in a firmer
and more decided voice.
But Charley only leaned heavily against his mother, not heeding in
the smallest degree her words. Knowing how impossible it would be to
get the child out of the room, without a resort to violence, Mrs.
Stanley said no more to him, but continued the conversation with her
friend. She had only spoken a few words, however, before Charley
interrupted her by saying—
"Mother!—Mother!—Give me a piece of cake."
"No, my son. You have had cake enough this afternoon," replied Mrs.
"Oh yes, do, mother, give me a piece of cake."
"It will make you sick, Charley."
"No, it won't. Please give me some."
"I had rather not."
"Yes, mother. Oh do! I want a piece of cake."
"Go 'way, Charles, and don't tease me."
There was a slight expression of impatience in the mother's voice.
The child ceased his importunities for a few moments, but just as
Mrs. Stanley had commenced a sentence, intended to embody some wise
saying in regard to the management of children, the little boy broke
in upon her with—
"I say, mother, give me a piece of cake, won't you?" in quite a loud
Mrs. Stanley felt irritated by this importunity, but she governed
herself. Satisfied that there would be no peace unless the cake were
forthcoming, she said, looking affectionately at the child:
"Poor little fellow! I suppose he does feel hungry. I don't think
another piece of cake will hurt him. Excuse me a moment, Mrs.
The cake was obtained by Charley in the very way he had, hundreds of
times before, accomplished his purpose, that is, by teasing it out
of his mother. For the next ten minutes the friends conversed,
unmolested. At the end of that time Charley again made his
"Go up into the nursery, and stay with Ellen," said Mrs. Stanley.
The child took no notice, whatever, of this direction, but walked
steadily up to where his mother was sitting, saying, as he paused by
"I want another piece of cake."
"Not any more, my son."
"Yes, mother. Give me some more."
"No." This was spoken in a very positive way. Charley began to beg
in a whining tone, which, not producing the desired effect, soon
rose into a well-defined cry.
"I declare! I never saw such a hungry set as my children are. They
will eat constantly from morning until night." Mrs. Stanley did not
say this in the most amiable tone of voice.
"Mother! I want a piece of cake," cried Charley.
"I'll give you one little piece more; but, remember, that it will be
the last; so don't ask me again."
Charley stopped crying at once. Mrs. Stanley went out with him. As
soon as she was far enough from the parlour not to be heard, she
took Charley by the shoulders, and giving him a violent shake,
"You little rebel, you! If you come into the parlour again, I'll
The cake was given. Charley cared about as much for the threat as he
did for the shaking. He had gained his end.
"I pray daily for patience to bear with my children," said Mrs.
Stanley, on returning to the parlour. "They try us severely."
"That they do," replied Mrs. Noland. "But it is in our power, by
firmness, consistency, and kindness, to render our tasks
"Perhaps so. I try to be firm, and consistent, and kind with my
children; to exercise toward them constant forbearance; but, after
all, it is very hard to know exactly how to govern them."
"Mother, can't I go over into the square?" asked Emma, looking into
the parlour just at this time. She was a little girl about eight
"I would rather not have you go, my dear," returned Mrs. Stanley.
"Oh yes, mother, do let me go," urged Emma.
"Ellen can't go with you now; and I do not wish you to go alone."
"I can go well enough, mother."
"Well, run along then, you intolerable little tease, you!"
Emma scampered away, and Mrs. Stanley remarked—
"That is the way. They gain their ends by importunity."
"But should you allow that, my friend?"
"There was no particular reason why Emma should not go to the
square. I didn't think, at first, when I said I would rather not
have her go, or I would have said 'yes' at once. It is so difficult
to decide upon children's requests on the spur of the moment."
"But after you had said that you did not want her to go to the
square, would it not have been better to have made her abide by your
"I don't think it would have been right for me to have deprived the
child of the pleasure of playing in the square, from the mere pride
of consistency. I was wrong in objecting at first—to have adhered
to my objection would have been still a greater wrong;—don't you
"I do not," returned Mrs. Noland. "I know of no greater evil in a
family, than for the children to discover that their parents
vacillate in any matter regarding them. A denial once made to any
request should be positive, even if, in a moment after, it be seen
to have been made without sufficient reason."
"I cannot agree with you. Justice, I hold, to be paramount in all
things. We should never wrong a child."
The third appearance of Charley again broke in upon the
"Give me another piece of cake, mother."
"What! Didn't I tell you that there was no more for you? No! you
cannot have another morsel."
"I want some more cake," whined the child.
"Not a crumb more, sir."
The whine rose into a cry.
"Go up stairs, sir."
Charley did not move.
"Go this instant."
"Give me some cake."
The cry swelled into a loud bawl.
Mrs. Stanley became excessively annoyed. "I never saw such
persevering children in my life," said she, impatiently. "They don't
regard what I say any more than if I had not spoken. Charles! Go out
of the parlour this moment!"
The tone in which this was uttered the child understood. He left the
parlour slowly, but continued to cry at the top of his voice. The
parlour bell was rung, and Ellen the nurse appeared.
"Do, Ellen, give that boy another piece of cake! There is no other
way to keep him quiet."
In about three minutes after this direction had been given, all was
still again. Mrs. Stanley now changed the topic of conversation. Her
manner was not quite so cheerful as before. The conduct of Charley
had worried and mortified her.
The last piece of cake had not been really wanted. Charley asked for
it because a spirit of opposition had been aroused, but he had no
appetite to eat it. It was crumbled about the floor and wasted. His
mother had peace for the next hour. After that she went into the
kitchen to give directions, and make some preparations for tea.
Charley was by her side.
"Ellen, take this child out," said she.
Ellen took hold of Charley's arm.
"No!—no!—Go 'way, Ellen!" he screamed.
"There!—there!—never mind. Let him stay," said the mother.
A jar of preserved fruit was brought forth.
"Give me some?" asked Charley.
"No, not now. You will get some at the table."
"I want some now. Give me some now."
A spoonful of the preserves was put into a saucer, and given to the
"Give me some more," said he, holding up his saucer in about half a
"No. Wait until tea is ready."
"Give me some sweetmeats. I want more, mother!"
"I tell you, no."
A loud bawl followed.
"I declare this child will worry me to death!" exclaimed the mother,
her mind all in confusion, lading out a large spoonful of the fruit,
and putting it into his saucer.
When this was eaten, still more was demanded, and peremptorily
refused. Crying was resorted to, but without effect, though it was
loud and deafening. Finding this unsuccessful, the spoiled urchin
determined to help himself. As soon as his mother's back was turned,
he clambered up to the table and seized the jar containing the
preserves. In pulling it over far enough to get his spoon into it,
the balance of the jar was destroyed, and over it went, rolling off
upon the floor, and breaking with a loud crash. At the moment this
occurred, Mrs. Stanley entered the room. Her patience, that had been
severely tried, was now completely overthrown. She was angry enough
to punish her child, and feel a delight in doing so. Seizing him by
one arm, she lifted him from the floor, as if he had been but a
feather, and hurried with him up to her chamber. There she whipped
him unmercifully, and then put him to bed. He continued to cry after
she had done so, when she commanded him to stop in a voice that he
dared not disobey. An hour afterward, when much cooled down, she
passed through the chamber. She looked down upon her little boy with
a feeling of repentance for her anger and the severity of her
punishment. This feeling was in no way mitigated on hearing the
child sob in his sleep. The mother felt very unhappy.
So much for Mrs. Stanley—so much for her tenderness of feeling—so
much for her warm-blooded system. Its effects need not be exposed
further. Its folly need not be set in any plainer light.
Some weeks afterward she was spending an afternoon with Mrs. Noland.
Her favourite topic was the management of children, and she
introduced it as usual, inveighing as was her wont against the
cruelty of punishing children—especially in cold blood, as she
called it. For her part, she never punished except in extreme cases,
and not then, unless provoked to do so. Unless she felt angry, and
punished on the spur of the moment, she could not do it at all.
During the conversation, which was led pretty much by Mrs. Stanley,
a child, about the age of Charley, came into the parlour. He walked
up to his mother and whispered some request in her ear.
"Oh no, Master Harry!" was the smiling, but decided reply.
The child lingered with a look of disappointment. At length he came
up, and kissing his mother, asked again, in a sweet, earnest way,
for what he had been at first denied.
"After I said no!" And Mrs. Noland looked gravely into his face.
Tears came into Henry's eyes. But he said no more. In a moment or
two he silently left the room.
"Mrs. Noland! How could you resist that dear little fellow? I
declare it was right down cruel in you."
The eyes of Mrs. Stanley glistened as she spoke.
"It would have been far more cruel to him if I had yielded, after
once having said 'no'—far more cruel had I given him what I knew
would have injured him."
"But, I don't see how you could refuse so dear a child, when he
asked you in such a sweet, affectionate manner. I should have given
him any thing in the world he had asked for."
"That's not my way. I say 'no' only when I have good reason, and
then I never change."
Henry appeared at the parlour door again.
"Come in, dear," said Mrs. Noland.
The child came quickly forward, put up his mouth to kiss her, and
then nestled closely by his mother's side. The conversation
continued, without the slightest interruption from him.
"Dear little fellow," said Mrs. Stanley, once or twice, looking into
the child's face, and smoothing his hair with her hand.
When the tea bell rung, the family assembled in the dining-room. A
visiter made it necessary that one of the children should wait.
Henry was by the table as usual.
"Harry, dear," said his mother, "you will have to wait and come with
The child felt very much disappointed. He looked up into his
mother's face for a moment, and then, without a word, went out of
"Poor little fellow! It is really a pity to make him wait; and he is
so good," said Mrs. Stanley. "I am sure we can make room for him. Do
call him back, and let him sit by me."
And she moved close to one of the older children as she spoke. "Here
is plenty of room."
Mrs. Noland thought for a moment, and then told the waiter to call
Henry back. The child came in as quietly as he had gone out, and
came up to his mother's side.
"My dear," said Mrs. Noland, "this good lady here has made room for
you by her side. You can go and sit by her."
The child's face brightened. He went quickly and took the offered
seat. By the time tea was over, Henry had fallen asleep in his
chair. Mrs. Noland, when all arose from the table, took Henry in her
arms, and went with him, accompanied by Mrs. Stanley, to her
chamber, where she undressed him, and kissing fondly his bright
young cheek, laid him in his little bed.
Mrs. Stanley stood for some moments over the sleeping child, and
looked down upon his calm face. As she did so, she remembered her
own little Charley, and under what different circumstances and
feelings he had been put to bed on the evening of Mrs. Noland's
visit to her.
Whether the contrast did her any good, we have no means of knowing.
We trust the lesson was not without its good effect upon her.
THE EVENING PRAYER.
"OUR Father." The mother's voice was low, and tender, and solemn.
"Our Father." On two sweet voices the words were borne upward. It
was the innocence of reverent childhood that gave them utterance.
"Who art in the heavens."
"Who art in the heavens," repeated the children, one with her eyes
bent meekly down, and the other looking upward, as if she would
penetrate the heavens into which her heart aspired.
"Hallowed be Thy name."
Lower fell the voices of the little ones. In a gentle murmur they
said: "Hallowed be Thy name."
"Thy kingdom come."
And the burden of the prayer was still taken up by the
children—"Thy kingdom come."
"Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven."
Like a low, sweet echo from the land of angels—"Thy will be done on
earth, as it is done in heaven," filled the chamber.
And the mother continued—"Give us this day our daily bread."
"Our daily bread" lingered a moment on the air, as the mother's
voice was hushed into silence.
"And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors."
The eyes of the children had drooped for a moment. But they were
uplifted again as they prayed—"And forgive us our debts, as we also
forgive our debtors."
"And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For
Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
All these holy words were said, piously and fervently, by the little
ones, as they knelt with clasped hands beside their mother. Then, as
their thoughts, uplifted on the wings of prayer to their heavenly
Father, came back again and rested on their earthly parents, a
warmer love came gushing from their hearts.
Pure kisses—tender embraces—the fond "good night." What a sweet
agitation pervaded all their feelings! Then two dear heads were
placed side by side on the snowy pillow, the mother's last kiss
given, and the shadowy curtains drawn.
What a pulseless stillness reigns throughout the chamber! Inwardly
the parents' listening ears are bent. They have given these innocent
ones into the keeping of God's angels, and they can almost hear the
rustle of their garments as they gather around their sleeping babes.
A sigh, deep and tremulous, breaks on the air. Quickly the mother
turns to the father of her children, with a look of earnest inquiry
on her countenance. And he answers thus her silent question.
"Far back, through many years, have my thoughts been wandering. At
my mother's knee thus said I nightly, in childhood, my evening
prayer. It was that best and holiest of all prayers, "Our Father,"
that she taught me. Childhood and my mother passed away. I went
forth as a man into the world, strong, confident, and self-seeking.
Once I came into great temptation. Had I fallen in that temptation,
I would have fallen, I sadly fear, never to have risen again. The
struggle in my mind went on for hours. I was about yielding. All the
barriers I could oppose to the in-rushing flood seemed just ready to
give way, when, as I sat in my room one evening, there came from an
adjoining chamber, now first occupied for many weeks, the murmur of
low voices. I listened. At first, no articulate sound was heard, and
yet something in the tones stirred my heart with new and strange
emotions. At length, there came to my ears, in the earnest, loving
voice of a woman, the words—'Deliver us from evil.' For an instant,
it seemed to me as if the voice were that of my mother. Back, with a
sudden bound through all the intervening years, went my thoughts;
and, a child in heart again, I was kneeling at my mother's knee.
Humbly and reverently I said over the words of the holy prayer she
had taught me, heart and eyes uplifted to heaven. The hour and the
power of darkness had passed. I was no longer standing in slippery
places, with a flood of waters ready to sweep me to destruction; but
my feet were on a rock. My mother's pious care had saved her son. In
the holy words she taught me in childhood, was a living power to
resist evil through all my after life. Ah! that unknown mother, as
she taught her child to repeat his evening prayer, how little
dreamed she that the holy words were to reach a stranger's ears, and
save him through memories of his own childhood and his own mother!
And yet it was so. What a power there is in God's Word, as it flows
into and rests in the minds of innocent children!"
Tears were in the eyes of the wife and mother as she lifted her
face, and gazed with a subdued tenderness upon the countenance of
her husband. Her heart was too full for utterance. A little while
she thus gazed, and then, with a trembling joy, laid her head upon
his bosom. Angels were in the chamber where their dear ones slept,
and they felt their holy presence.
A PEEVISH DAY, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
"IT is too bad, Rachael, to put me to all this trouble; and you know
I can hardly hold up my head!"
Thus spoke Mrs. Smith, in a peevish voice, to a quiet-looking
domestic, who had been called up from the kitchen to supply some
unimportant omission in the breakfast-table arrangement.
Rachael looked hurt and rebuked, but made no reply.
"How could you speak in that way to Rachael?" said Mr. Smith, as
soon as the domestic had withdrawn.
"If you felt just as I do, Mr. Smith, you would speak cross too!"
Mrs. Smith replied a little warmly. "I feel just like a rag; and my
head aches as if it would burst."
"I know you feel badly, and I am very sorry for you. But still, I
suppose it is as easy to speak kindly as harshly. Rachael is very
obliging and attentive, and should be borne with in occasional
omissions, which you of course know are not wilful."
"It is easy enough to preach," retorted Mrs. Smith, whose temper,
from bodily lassitude and pain, was in quite an irritable state. The
reader will understand at least one of the reasons of this, when he
is told that the scene here presented occurred during the last
oppressive week in August.
Mr. Smith said no more. He saw that to do so would only be to
provoke instead of quieting his wife's ill-humour. The morning meal
went by in silence, but little food passing the lips of either. How
could it, when the thermometer was ninety-four at eight o'clock in
the morning, and the leaves upon the trees were as motionless as if
suspended in a vacuum? Bodies and minds were relaxed—and the one
turned from food, as the other did from thought, with an instinctive
After Mr. Smith had left his home for his place of business, Mrs.
Smith went up into her chamber, and threw herself upon the bed, her
head still continuing to ache with great violence. It so happened
that a week before, the chambermaid had gone away, sick, and all the
duties of the household had in consequence devolved upon Rachael,
herself not very well. Cheerfully, however, had she endeavoured to
discharge these accumulated duties, and but for the unhappy, peevish
state of mind in which Mrs. Smith indulged, would have discharged
them without a murmuring thought. But, as she was a faithful,
conscientious woman, and, withal, sensitive in her feelings, to be
found fault with worried her exceedingly. Of this Mrs. Smith was
well aware, and had, until the latter part of the trying month of
August, acted toward Rachael with consideration and forbearance. But
the last week of August was too much for her. The sickness of the
chambermaid threw such heavy duties upon Rachael, whose daily
headaches and nervous relaxation of body were borne without a
complaint, that their perfect performance was almost impossible.
Slight omissions, which were next to unavoidable under the
circumstances, became so annoying to Mrs. Smith, herself, as it has
been seen, labouring under great bodily and mental prostration, that
she could not bear them.
"She knows better, and she could do better, if she chose," was her
rather uncharitable comment often inwardly made on the occurrence of
some new trouble.
After Mr. Smith had taken his departure on the morning just referred
to, Mrs. Smith went up into her chamber, as has been seen, and threw
herself languidly upon a bed, pressing her hands to her throbbing
temples, as she did so, and murmuring,
"I can't live at this rate!"
At the same time, Rachael set down in the kitchen the large waiter
upon which she had arranged the dishes from the breakfast-table, and
then sinking into a chair, pressed one hand upon her forehead, and
sat for more than a minute in troubled silence. It had been three
days since she had received from Mrs. Smith a pleasant word; and the
last remark, made to her a short time before, had been the unkindest
of all. At another time, even all this would not have moved her—she
could have perceived that Mrs. S. was not in a right state—that
lassitude of body had produced a temporary infirmity of mind. But,
being herself affected by the oppressive season almost as much as
her mistress, she could not make these allowances. While still
seated, the chamber-bell was rung with a quick, startling jerk.
"What next?" peevishly ejaculated Rachael, and then slowly proceeded
to obey the summons.
"How could you leave my chamber in such a condition as this?" was
the salutation that met her ear, as she entered the presence of Mrs.
Smith, who, half raised upon the bed, and leaning upon her hand,
looked the very personification of languor, peevishness, and
ill-humour. "You had plenty of time while we were eating breakfast
to have put things a little to rights!"
To this Rachael made no reply, but turned away and went back into
the kitchen. She had scarcely reached that spot, before the bell
rang again, louder and quicker than before; but she did not answer
it. In about three minutes it was jerked with an energy that snapped
the wire, but Rachael was immovable. Five minutes elapsed, and then
Mrs. Smith, fully aroused from the lethargy that had stolen over
her, came down with a quick, firm step.
"What's the reason you didn't answer my bell? say!" she asked, in an
Rachael did not reply.
"Do you hear me?"
Rachael had never been so treated before; she had lived with Mrs.
Smith for three years, and had rarely been found fault with. She had
been too strict in regard to the performance of her duty to leave
much room for even a more exacting mistress to find fault; but now,
to be overtasked and sick, and to be chidden, rebuked, and even
angrily assailed, was more than she could well bear. She did not
suffer herself to speak for some moments, and then her voice
trembled, and the tears came out upon her cheeks.
"I wish you to get another in my place. I find I don't suit you. My
time will be up day after tomorrow."
"Very well," was Mrs. Smith's firm reply, as she turned away, and
left the kitchen.
Here was trouble in good earnest. Often and often had Mrs. Smith
said, during the past two or three years—"What should I do without
Rachael?" And now she had given notice that she was going to leave
her, and under circumstances which made pride forbid a request to
stay. Determined to act out her part of the business with firmness
and decision, she dressed herself and went out, hot and oppressive
as it was, and took her way to an intelligence office, where she
paid the required fee and directed a cook and chambermaid to be sent
to her. On the next morning, about ten o'clock, an Irish girl came
and offered herself as a cook, and was, after sundry questions and
answers, engaged. So soon as this negotiation was settled, Rachael
retired from the kitchen, leaving the new-comer in full possession.
In half an hour after she received her wages, and left, in no very
happy frame of mind, a home that had been for three years, until
within a few days, a pleasant one. As for Mrs. Smith, she was ready
to go to bed sick; but this was impracticable. Nancy, the new cook,
had expressly stipulated that she was to have no duties unconnected
with the kitchen. The consequence was, that notwithstanding the
thermometer ranged above ninety, and the atmosphere remained as
sultry as air from a heated oven, Mrs. Smith was compelled to
arrange her chamber and parlours. By the time this was done, she was
in a condition to go to bed, and lie until dinner-time.
The arrival of this important period brought new troubles and
vexations. Dinner was late by forty minutes, and then came on the
table in a most abominable condition. A fine sirloin was burnt to a
crisp. The tomatoes were smoked, and the potatoes watery. As if this
was not enough to mar the pleasure of the dinner hour for a hungry
husband, Mrs. Smith added thereto a distressed countenance and
discouraging complaints. Nancy was grumbled at and scolded every
time she had occasion to appear in the room, and her single attempt
to excuse herself on account of not understanding the cook-stove,
was met by, "Do hush, will you! I'm out of all patience!"
As to the latter part of the sentence, that was a needless waste of
words. The condition of mind she described was fully apparent.
About three o'clock in the afternoon, just as Mrs. Smith had found a
temporary relief from a troubled mind, and a most intolerable
headache, in sleep, a tap on the chamber-door awoke her, and there
stood Nancy, all equipped for going out.
"I find I won't suit you, ma'am," said Nancy, "and so you must look
out for another girl."
Having said this, she turned away and took her departure, leaving
Mrs. Smith in a state of mind, as it is said, "more easily imagined
"Oh dear! what shall I do?" at length broke from her lips, as she
burst into tears, and burying her face in the pillow, sobbed aloud.
Already she had repented of her fretfulness and fault-finding
temper, as displayed toward Rachael, and could she have made a truce
with pride, or silenced its whispers, would have sent for her
well-tried domestic, and endeavoured to make all fair with her
again. But, under the circumstances, this was now impossible. While
yet undetermined how to act, the street-bell rung, and she was
compelled to attend the door, as she was now alone in the house. She
found, on opening it, a rough-looking country girl, who asked if she
were the lady who wanted a chambermaid. Any kind of help was better
than none at all, and so Mrs. Smith asked the young woman to walk
in. In treating with her in regard to her qualifications for the
situation she applied for, she discovered that she knew "almost
nothing at all about any thing." The stipulation that she was to be
a doer-of-all-work-in-general, until a cook could be obtained, was
readily agreed to, and then she was shown to her room in the attic,
where she prepared herself for entering upon her duties.
"Will you please, ma'am, show me what you want me to do?" asked the
new help, presenting herself before Mrs. Smith.
"Go into the kitchen, Ellen, and see that the fire is made. I'll be
down there presently."
To be compelled to see after a new and ignorant servant, and direct
her in every thing, just at so trying a season of the year, and
while her mind was "all out of sorts," was a severe task for poor
Mrs. Smith. She found that Ellen, as she had too good reason for
believing, was totally unacquainted with kitchen-work. She did not
even know how to kindle a coal fire; nor could she manage the stove
after Mrs. Smith had made the fire for her. All this did not in any
way tend to make her less unhappy or more patient than before. On
retiring for the night she had a high fever, which continued
unabated until morning, when her husband found her really ill; so
much so as to make the attendance of a doctor necessary.
A change in the air had taken place during the night, and the
temperature had fallen many degrees. This aided the efforts of the
physician, and enabled him so to adapt his remedies as to speedily
break the fever. But the ignorance and awkwardness of Ellen,
apparent in her attempts to arrange her bed and chamber, so worried
her mind, that she was near relapsing into her former feverish and
excited state. The attendance of an elder maiden sister was just in
time. All care was taken from her thoughts, and she had a chance of
recovering a more healthy tone of mind and body. During the next
week, she knew little or nothing of how matters were progressing out
of her own chamber. A new cook had been hired, of whom she was
pleased to hear good accounts, although she had not seen her; and
Ellen, under the mild and judicious instruction of her sister, had
learned to make up a bed neatly, to sweep, and dust in true style,
and to perform all the little etceteras of chamber-work, greatly to
her satisfaction. She was, likewise, good-tempered, willing, and to
all appearance strictly trustworthy.
One morning, about a week after she had become too ill to keep up,
she found herself so far recovered as to be able to go down stairs
to breakfast. Every thing upon the table she found arranged in the
neatest style. The food was well cooked, especially some tender rice
cakes, of which she was very fond.
"Really, these are delicious!" said she, as the finely flavoured
cakes almost melted in her mouth. "And this coffee is just the
thing! How fortunate we have been to obtain so good a cook! I was
afraid we should never be able to replace Rachael. But even she is
equalled, if not surpassed."
"Still she does not surpass Rachael," said Mr. Smith, a little
gravely. "Rachael was a treasure."
"Indeed she was. And I have been sorry enough I ever let her go,"
returned Mrs. Smith.
At that moment the new cook entered with a plate of warm cakes.
"Rachael!" ejaculated Mrs. Smith, letting her knife and fork fall.
"How do you do? I am glad to see you! Welcome home again!"
As she spoke quickly and earnestly, she held out her hand, and
grasped that of her old domestic warmly. Rachael could not speak,
but as she left the room she put her apron to her eyes. Hers were
not the only one's dim with rising moisture.
For at least a year to come both Mrs. Smith and her excellent cook
will have no cause to complain of each other. How they will get
along during the last week of next August we cannot say, but hope
the lesson they have both received will teach them to bear and
[We make the following extract from one of our books—"Advice to
Young Men on their Duties and Conduct in Life."]
IF you have younger sisters, who are just entering society, all your
interest should be awakened for them. You cannot but have seen some
little below the surface, and already made the discovery that too
few of the young men who move about in the various social circles to
which you have admission, are fit associates for a pure-minded
woman. Their exterior, it is true, is very fair; they sing well,
they dance well, their persons are elegant, and their manners
attractive; but you have met them when they felt none of the
restraints of female society, and seen them unmask their real
characters. You can remember the ribald jest, the obscene allusion,
the sneer at virtue, the unblushing acknowledgment of licentiousness.
You have heard them speak of this sweet girl, and that pure-minded
woman, in terms that would have roused your deepest indignation, had
your own sister been the subject of allusion.
You may know all these things, but your innocent sisters at home
cannot know them, nor see reason for shunning the society of those
whose real characters, if revealed, would cause them to turn away in
disgust and horror. From the dangers of an acquaintanceship with
such young men it is your duty to guard your sisters; and you must
do this more by warding off the evil than by warnings against it. In
order to this, you should make it a point of duty always to go with
your sisters into company, and to be their companion, if possible,
on all public occasions. By so doing, you can prevent the
introduction of men whose principles are bad; or, if such
introductions are forced upon them in spite of you, can throw in a
timely word of caution. This latter it may be too late to do after
an acquaintanceship is formed with a man whose character is
detestable in your eyes, provided he have a fair exterior. Your
sister will hardly be made to believe that one who is so attractive
in all respects, and who can converse of virtue and honour so
eloquently, can possibly have an impure or vicious mind. She will
think you prejudiced. The great thing is to guard, by every means in
your power, these innocent ones from the polluting presence of a bad
man. You cannot tell how soon he may win the affections of the most
innocent, confiding, and loving of them all, and draw her off from
virtue. And even if his designs be honourable—if he win her but to
wed her—her lot will be by no means an enviable one; he cannot make
her happy; for happy no pure-minded woman ever has been, or ever can
be made, by a corrupt, evil-minded, and selfish man.
You are a brother; your position is one of great responsibility; let
this be ever before your mind.
On your faithfulness to your duty, may depend a lifetime of
happiness or misery for those who are, or ought to be, very dear to
you. But not only should you seek to guard them from the danger just
alluded to—your affection for them should lead you to enter into
their pleasures as far as in your power to do so; to give interest
and variety to the home circle; to afford them, at all times, the
assistance of your judgment in matters of trivial as well as grave
importance. By this you will gain their confidence and acquire an
influence over them that may, at some later period, enable you to
serve them in a moment of impending danger.
We very often—indeed, far too often—see young men with sisters who
appear to be entirely indifferent in regard to them. They rarely
visit together; their associates, male and female, are strangers to
each other; they appear to have no common interests. This state of
things is the fault, nine times in ten, of the young men. It is the
result of their neglect and indifference. There are very few sisters
who do not love with a most tender and unselfish regard their
brothers, especially their elder brothers, and who would not feel
happier in being their companions than in the companionship of
almost any one. Notwithstanding all this neglect and indifference,
how willingly is every little office performed that adds to the
brother's comfort! How much care is there for him who gives back so
little in return! The sister's love is as unselfish as it is
unostentatious. It is shown in acts, not in professions. How can any
young man be indifferent to such love? How can he fail in its full
and free reciprocation?
A regard for himself, as well as for his sisters, should lead a
young man to be much with them. Their influence in softening,
polishing, and refining his character, will be very great. They have
perceptions of the propriety and fitness of things far quicker than
he has; and this he will soon see if he observe their remarks upon
the persons with whom they come in contact, and the circumstances
that transpire around them. While he is reasoning on the subject,
and balancing many things in his mind before coming to a
satisfactory conclusion, they, by a kind of intuition, have settled
the whole matter, and settled it, he will find, truly. In the graver
things of life, a man's judgment is more to be relied upon than a
woman's, because here a regular course of reasoning from premises
laid down is required, and this a man is much more able to do than a
woman; but in matters of taste and propriety, and in the quick
appreciation of character, a woman's perceptions are worth far more
than a man's judgment. And in the more weighty and serious matters
of life, a man will always find that he will receive aid, in coming
to a nice decision, from a wife or sister who loves him, if he will
only carefully lay the whole subject before her, with the reasons
that appeal to his judgment, and be guided in some measure by her
perceptions of what is right. This is because man is in the province
of the understanding, which acts by thought, and woman in the
province of the affections, which act by perceptions; not that a man
does not have perceptions and a woman reason, but the leading
characteristic difference between the sexes is as stated, and each
comes to conclusions mainly by either the one or the other of these
two modes. This position, which we believe to be the true one in
regard to the difference between the sexes, demonstrates the great
use of female society, especially the society of those who feel some
interest in and affection for us. In such society, there is a
reciprocation of benefits that is nearly, if not quite, equal. And
nowhere can this reciprocation be of greater utility than among
brothers and sisters, just entering upon life, with all their
knowledge of human character and human life to gain.
[The following suggestions, on the relation and duties of a sister
to her brother, are taken from a volume by the Author of this book,
entitled, "Advice to Young Ladies on their Duties and Conduct in
OLDER brothers are not usually as attentive to their younger sisters
as the latter would feel to be agreeable. The little girls that were
so long known as children, with the foibles, faults, and caprices of
children, although now grown up into tall young ladies, who have
left or are about leaving school, are still felt to be children, or
but a little advanced beyond childhood, by the young men who have
had some three or four years' experience in the world. With these
older brothers, there will not usually be, arising from this cause,
much confidential and unreserved intercourse; at least, not until
the sisters have added two or three years more to their ages, and
assumed more of the quiet dignity of womanhood.
Upon these older brothers, therefore, the conduct of sisters cannot,
usually, have much effect. They are removed to a point chiefly
beyond the circle of their influence. But upon brothers near about
their own age, and younger than themselves, the influence of sisters
may be brought to bear with the most salutary results.
The temptations to which young men are exposed, when first they come
in contact with the world, are many, and full of the strongest
allurements. Their virtuous principles are assailed in a thousand
ways; sometimes boldly, and sometimes by the most insidious arts of
the vicious and evil-minded. All, therefore, that can make virtue
lovely in their eyes, and vice hideous, they need to strengthen the
good principles stored up, from childhood, in their minds. For their
sakes, home should be made as attractive as possible, in order to
induce them frequently to spend their evenings in the place where,
of all others, they will be safest. To do this, a young lady must
consult the tastes of her brothers, and endeavour to take sufficient
interest in the pursuits that interest them, as to make herself
companionable. If they are fond of music, one of the strongest
incentives she can have for attaining the highest possible skill in
performing upon the piano, will be the hope of making home, thereby,
the most attractive place where they can spend their evenings. If
they are fond of reading, let her read, as far as she can, the books
that interest them, in order that she may take part in their
conversations; and let her, in every other possible way, furnish
herself with the means of making home agreeable.
There is no surer way for a sister to gain an influence with her
brother, than to cultivate all exterior graces and accomplishments,
and improve her mind by reading, thinking, and observation. By these
means she not only becomes his intelligent companion, but inspires
him with a feeling of generous pride toward her, that, more than any
thing else, impresses her image upon his mind, brings her at all
times nearer to him, and gives her a double power over him for good.
The indifference felt by brothers toward their sisters, when it does
exist, often arises from the fact that their sisters are inferior,
in almost every thing, to the women they are in the habit of meeting
abroad. Where this is the case, such indifference is not so much to
be wondered at.
Sisters should always endeavour to gain, as much as possible, the
confidence of their brothers, and to give them their confidence in
return. Mutual good offices will result from this, and attachments
that could only produce unhappiness may be prevented. A man sees
more of men than woman does, and the same is true in regard to the
other sex. This being so, a brother has it in his power at once to
guard his sister against the advances of an unprincipled man, or a
man whose habits he knows to be bad; and a sister has it in her
power to reveal to her brother traits of character in a woman, for
whom he is about forming an attachment, that would repel rather than
Toward her younger brother a sister should be particularly
considerate. In allusion to this subject, Mrs. Farrar has written so
well that we cannot repress our wish to quote her. "If your brothers
are younger than you, encourage them to be perfectly confidential
with you; win their friendship by your sympathy in all their
concerns, and let them see that their interests and their pleasures
are liberally provided for in the family arrangements. Never
disclose their little secrets, however unimportant they may seem to
you; never pain them by an ill-timed joke; never repress their
feelings by ridicule; but be their tenderest friend, and then you
may become their ablest adviser. If separated from them by the
course of school and college education, make a point of keeping up
your intimacy by full, free, and affectionate correspondence; and
when they return to the paternal roof, at that awkward age between
youth and manhood, when reserve creeps over the mind like an
impenetrable vail, suffer it not to interpose between you and your
brothers. Cultivate their friendship and intimacy with all the
address and tenderness you possess; for it is of unspeakable
importance to them that their sisters should be their confidential
friends. Consider the loss of a ball or party, for the sake of
making the evening pass pleasantly to your brothers at home, as a
small sacrifice—one you should unhesitatingly make. If they go into
company with you, see that they are introduced to the most desirable
acquaintances, and show them that you are interested in their
acquitting themselves well."
Having quoted thus much from the "Young Lady's Friend," we feel
inclined to give a few passages more from the author's admirable
remarks on the relation of brother and sister.
"So many temptations beset young men, of which young women know
nothing, that it is of the utmost importance that your brothers'
evenings should be happily passed at home; that their friends should
be your friends; that their engagements should be the same as yours;
and that various innocent amusements should be provided for them in
the family circle. Music is an accomplishment usually valuable as a
home enjoyment, as rallying round the piano the various members of a
family, and harmonizing their hearts, as well as their voices,
particularly in devotional strains. I know no more agreeable and
interesting spectacle than that of brothers and sisters playing and
singing together those elevated compositions in music and poetry
which gratify the taste and purify the heart, while their parents
sit delighted by. I have seen and heard an elder sister thus leading
the family choir, who was the soul of harmony to the whole
household, and whose life was a perfect example of those virtues
which I am here endeavouring to inculcate. Let no one say, in
reading this chapter, that too much is here required of sisters;
that no one can be expected to lead such a self-sacrificing life;
for the sainted one to whom I refer was all that I would ask my
sister to be; and a happier person never lived. 'To do good and make
others happy,' was the rule of her life; and in this she found the
art of making herself so.
"Brothers will generally be found strongly opposed to the slightest
indecorum in sisters…..Their intercourse with all sorts of men
enables them to judge of the construction put upon certain actions,
and modes of dress and speech, much better than women can; and you
will do well to take their advice on all such points.
"I have been told by men, who had passed unharmed through the
temptations of youth, that they owed their escape from many dangers
to the intimate companionship of affectionate and pure-minded
sisters. They have been saved from a hazardous meeting with idle
company by some home engagement, of which their sisters were the
charm; they have refrained from mixing with the impure, because they
would not bring home thoughts and feelings which they could not
share with those trusting and loving friends; they have put aside
the wine-cup, and abstained from stronger potations, because they
would not profane with their fumes the holy kiss, with which they
were accustomed to bid their sisters good-night."
SOCIETY is marked by greater and smaller divisions, as into nations,
communities, and families. A man is a member of the commonwealth, a
smaller community, as a hamlet or city, and his family at the same
time; and the more perfectly all his duties to his family are
discharged, the more fully does he discharge his duties to the
community and the nation; for a good member of a family cannot be a
bad member of the commonwealth, for he that is faithful in what is
least, will also be faithful in what is greater. Indeed, the more
perfectly a man fulfils all his domestic duties, the more perfectly,
in that very act, has he discharged his duty to the whole; for the
whole is made up of parts, and its health depends entirely upon the
health of the various parts. There are, of course, general as well
as specific duties; but the more conscientious a man is in the
discharge of specific duties, the more ready will he be to perform
those that are general; and we believe that the converse of this
will be found equally true, and that those who have least regard for
home—who have, indeed, no home, no domestic circle—are the worst
citizens. This they may not be apparently; they may not break the
laws, nor do any thing to call down upon them censure from the
community, and yet, in the secret and almost unconscious
dissemination of demoralizing principles, may be doing a work far
more destructive of the public good than if they had committed a
We always feel pain when we hear a young man speak lightly of home,
and talk carelessly, or, it may be, with sportive ridicule, of the
"old man" and the "old woman," as if they were of but little
consequence. We mark it as a bad indication, and feel that the feet
of that young man are treading upon dangerous ground. His home
education may not have been of the best kind, nor may home
influences have reached his higher and better feelings; but he is at
least old enough now to understand the causes, and to seek rather to
bring into his home all that it needs to render it more attractive,
than to estrange himself from it and expose its defects.
Instances of this kind are not of very frequent occurrence. Home has
its charms for nearly all, and the very name comes with a blessing
to the spirit. This, however, is more the case with those who have
been separated from it, than it is with those who yet remain in the
old homestead with parents, brothers, and sisters, as their friends
The earnest love of home, felt by nearly all who have been compelled
to leave that pleasant place, is a feeling that should be tenderly
cherished: and this love should be kept alive by associations that
have in them as perfect a resemblance of home as it is possible to
obtain. It is for this reason that it is bad for a young man to
board in a large hotel, where there is nothing in which there is
even an image of the home-circle. Each has his separate chamber; but
that is not home. All meet together at the common table; but there
is no home feeling there, with its many sweet reciprocations. The
meal completed, all separate, each to his individual pursuit or
pleasure. There is a parlour, it is true; but there are no family
gatherings there. One and another sit there, as inclination prompts;
but each sits alone, busy with his own thoughts. All this is a poor
substitute for home. And yet it offers its attractions to some. A
young man in a hotel has more freedom than in a family or private
boarding-house. He comes in and goes out unobserved; there is no one
to say to him, "why?" or "wherefore?" But this is a dangerous
freedom, and one which no young man should desire.
But mere negative evils, so to speak, are not the worst that beset a
young man who unwisely chooses a public hotel as a place for
boarding. He is much more exposed to temptations there than in a
private boarding-house, or at home. Men of licentious habits, in
most cases, select hotels as boarding-places; and such rarely
scruple to offer to the ardent minds of young men, with whom they
happen to fall in company, those allurements that are most likely to
lead them away from virtue. And, besides this, there being no
evening home-circle in a hotel, a young man who is not engaged
earnestly in some pursuit that occupies his hours of leisure from
business has nothing to keep him there, but is forced to seek for
something to interest his mind elsewhere, and is, in consequence,
more open to temptation.
Home is man's true place. Every man should have a home. Here his
first duties lie, and here he finds the strength by which he is able
successfully to combat in life's temptations. Happy is that young
man who is still blessed with a home—who has his mother's counsel
and the pure love of sisters to strengthen and cheer him amid life's
A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE ON THE PATH OF A MONEY-LENDER.
MR. EDGAR was a money-lender, and scrupled not in exacting the
highest "street rates" of interest that could be obtained. If good
paper were offered, and he could buy it from the needy seeker of
cash at two or even three per cent. a month, he did not hesitate
about the transaction on any scruples of justice between man and
man. Below one per cent. a month, he rarely made loans. He had
nothing to do with the question, as to whether the holder of bills
could afford the sacrifice. The circle of his thoughts went not
beyond gain to himself.
Few days closed with Mr. Edgar that he was not able to count up
gains as high as from thirty to one hundred dollars: not acquired in
trade—not coming back to him as the reward of productive
industry—but the simple accumulation of large clippings from the
anticipated reward of others' industry. Always with a good balance
in bank, he had but to sign his name to a check, and the slight
effort was repaid by a gain of from ten to fifty dollars, according
to the size and time of the note he had agreed to discount. A shrewd
man, and well acquainted with the business standing of all around
him, Mr. Edgar rarely made mistakes in money transactions. There was
always plenty of good paper offering, and he never touched any thing
regarded as doubtful.
Was Mr. Edgar a happy man? Ah! that is a home question. But we
answer frankly, no. During his office hours, while his love of gain
was active—while good customers were coming and going, and good
operations being effected—his mind was in a pleasurable glow. But,
at other times, he suffered greatly from a pressure on his feelings,
the cause of which he did not clearly understand. Wealth he had
always regarded as the greatest good in life. And now he not only
had wealth, but the income therefrom was a great deal more than he
had any desire to spend. And yet he was not happy—no, not even in
the thought of his large possessions. Only in the mental activity
through which more was obtained, did he really find satisfaction;
but this state was only of short duration.
Positive unhappiness, Mr. Edgar often experienced. Occasional
losses, careful and shrewd as he always was, were inevitable. These
fretted him greatly. To lose a thousand dollars, instead of gaining,
as was pleasantly believed, some sixty or seventy, was a shower of
cold water upon his ardent love of accumulation: and he shivered
painfully under the infliction. The importunities of friends who
needed money, and to whom it was unsafe to lend it, were also a
source of no small annoyance. And, moreover, there was little of the
heart's warm sunshine at home. As Mr. Edgar had thought more of
laying up wealth for his children than giving them the true riches
of intellect and heart, ill weeds had sprung up in their minds. He
had not loved them with an unselfish love, and he received not a
higher affection than he had bestowed. Their prominent thought, in
regard to him, seemed ever to be the obtaining of some concession to
their real or imaginary wants; and, if denied these, they reacted
upon him in anger, sullenness, or complaint.
Oh, no! Mr. Edgar was not happy. Few gleams of sunshine lay across
his path. Life to him, in his own bitter words, uttered after some
keen disappointment, had "proved a failure." And yet he continued
eager for gain; would cut as deep, exact as much from those who had
need of his money in their business, as ever. The measure of per
centage was the measure of his satisfaction.
One day a gentleman said to him—
"Mr. Edgar, I advised a young mechanic who has been in business for
a short time, and who has to take notes for his work, to call on you
for the purpose of getting them cashed. He has no credit in bank,
and is, therefore, compelled to go upon the street for money. Most
of his work is taken by one of the safest houses in the city; his
paper is, therefore, as good as any in market. Deal as moderately
with him as you can. He knows little about these matters, or where
to go for the accommodation he needs."
"Is he an industrious and prudent young man?" inquired Mr. Edgar,
caution and cupidity at once excited.
"What's his name?"
"Oh, I know him. Very well; send him along, and if his paper is
good, I'll discount it."
"You'll find it first-rate," said the gentleman.
"How much shall I charge him?" This was Mr. Edgar's first thought,
so soon as he was alone. Even as he asked himself the question, the
young mechanic entered.
"You take good paper, sometimes?" said the latter, in a hesitating
The countenance of Mr. Edgar became, instantly, very grave.
"Sometimes I do," he answered, with assumed indifference.
"I have a note of Leyden & Co.'s that I wish discounted," said
"For how much?"
"Three hundred dollars—six months;" and he handed Mr. Edgar the
"I don't like over four months' notes," remarked the money-lender,
coldly. Then he asked, "What rate of interest do you expect to pay?"
"Whatever is usual. Of course, I wish to get it done as low as
possible. My profits are not large, and every dollar I pay in
discounts is so much taken from the growth of my business and the
comfort of my family."
"You have a family?"
"Yes, sir. A wife and four children."
Mr. Edgar mused for a moment or two. An unselfish thought was
struggling to get into his mind.
"What have you usually paid on this paper?" he asked.
"The last I had discounted cost me one and a half per cent. a
"Notes of this kind are rarely marketable below that rate," said Mr.
Edgar. He had thought of exacting two per cent. "If you will leave
the note, and call round in half an hour, I will see what can be
"Very well," returned the mechanic. "Be as moderate with me as you
For the half hour that went by during the young man's absence, Mr.
Edgar walked the floor of his counting-room, trying to come to some
decision in regard to the note. Love of gain demanded two per cent.
a month, while a feeble voice, scarcely heard so far away did it
seem, pleaded for a generous regard to the young man's necessities.
The conflict taking place in his mind was a new one for the
money-lender. In no instance before had he experienced any
hesitation on the score of a large discount. Love of gain continued
clamorous for two per cent. on the note; yet, ever and anon, the low
voice stole, in pleading accents, to his ears.
"I'll do it for one and a half," said Mr. Edgar, yielding slightly
to the claim of humanity, urged by the voice, that seemed to be
Love of gain, after slight opposition, was satisfied.
But the low, penetrating voice asked for something better still.
"Weakness! Folly!" exclaimed Mr. Edgar. "I'd better make him a
present of the money at once."
It availed nothing. The voice could not be hushed.
"One per cent! He couldn't get it done as low as that in the city."
"He is a poor young man, and has a wife and four little children,"
said the voice. "Even the abstraction of legal interest from his
hard earnings is defect enough; to lose twice that sum, will make a
heavy draught on his profits, which, under the present competition
in trade, are not large. He is honest and industrious, and by his
useful labour is aiding the social well-being. Is it right for you
to get his reward?—to take his profits, and add them to your
already rich accumulations?"
Mr. Edgar did not like these home questions, and tried to stop his
ears, so that the voice could not find an entrance. But he tried in
"Bank rates on this note," continued the inward voice, "would not
much exceed nine dollars. Even this is a large sum for a poor man to
lose. Double the rate of interest, and the loss becomes an injury to
his business, or the cause of seriously abridging his home comforts.
And how much will nine dollars contribute to your happiness? Not so
much as a jot or a tittle. You are unable, now, to spend your
The young mechanic entered at this favourable moment. The
money-lender pointed to a chair; then turned to his desk, and filled
up, hurriedly, a check. Blakewell glanced at the amount thereof as
it was handed to him, and an instant flush of surprise came into his
"Haven't you made a mistake, Mr. Edgar?" said he.
"In what respect?"
"The note was for three hundred dollars, six months; and you have
given me a check for two hundred and ninety dollars, forty-three
"I've charged you bank interest," said Mr. Edgar, with a feeling of
pleasure at his heart so new, that it sent a glow along every nerve
and fibre of his being.
"Bank interest! I did not expect this, sir," replied the young man,
visibly moved. "For less than one and a half per cent. a month, I
have not been able to obtain money. One per cent, I would have paid
you cheerfully. Eighteen dollars saved! How much good that sum will
do me! I could not have saved it—or, I might say, have received
it—more opportunely. This is a kindness for which I shall ever
remember you gratefully."
Grasping the money-lender's hand, he shook it warmly; then turned
and hurried away.
Only one previous transaction had that day been made by Mr. Edgar.
In that transaction, his gain was fifty dollars, and much pleasure
had it given him. But the delight experienced was not to be compared
with what he now felt. It was to him a new experience in life—a
realization of that beautiful truth, "It is more blessed to give
than to receive."
Once or twice during the day, as Mr. Edgar dwelt on the little
circumstance, his natural love of gain caused regret for the loss of
money involved in the transaction to enter his mind. How cold,
moody, and uncomfortable he instantly became! Self-love was seeking
to rob the money-lender of the just reward of a good deed. But the
voice which had prompted the generous act was heard, clear and
sweet, and again his heart beat to a gladder measure.
Evening was closing in on the day following. It was late in
December, and winter had commenced in real earnest. Snow had fallen
for some hours. Now, however, the sky was clear, but the air keen
and frosty. The day, to Mr. Edgar, was one in which more than the
usual number of "good transactions" had been made. On one perfectly
safe note he had been able to charge as high as three per cent. per
month. Full of pleasurable excitement had his mind been while thus
gathering in gain, but now, the excitement being over, he was
oppressed. From whence the pressure came, he did not know. A cloud
usually fell upon his spirits with the closing day; and there was
not sunshine enough at home to chase it from his sky.
As Mr. Edgar walked along, with his eyes upon the pavement, his name
was called. Looking up, he saw, standing at the open door of a small
house, the mechanic he had befriended on the day before.
"Step in here just one moment," said the young man. The request was
made in a way that left Mr. Edgar no alternative but compliance. So
he entered the humble dwelling. He found himself in a small,
unlighted room, adjoining one in which a lamp was burning, and in
which was a young woman, plainly but neatly dressed, and four
children, the youngest lying in a cradle. The woman held in her hand
a warm Bay State shawl, which, after examining a few moments, with a
pleased expression of countenance, she threw over her shoulders, and
glanced at herself in a looking-glass. The oldest of the children, a
boy, was trying on a new overcoat; and his sister, two years
younger, had a white muff and a warm woollen shawl, in which her
attention was completely absorbed. A smaller child had a new cap,
and he was the most pleased of any.
"Oh, isn't father good to buy us all these? and we wanted them so
much," said the oldest of the children. "Yesterday morning, when I
told him how cold I was going to school, he said he was sorry, but
that I must try and do without a coat this winter, for he hadn't
money enough to get us all we wanted. How did he get more money,
"To a kind gentleman, who helped your father, we are indebted for
these needed comforts," replied the mother.
"He must be a good man," said the boy. "What's his name?"
"His name is Mr. Edgar."
"I will ask God to bless him to-night when I say my prayers,"
innocently spoke out the youngest of the three children.
"What does all this mean?" asked the money-lender, as he hastily
retired from the room he had entered.
"If you had charged me one per cent. on my note, this scene would
never have occurred," answered the mechanic. "With the sum you
generously saved me, I was able to buy these comforts. My heart
blesses you for the deed; and if the good wishes of my happy family
can throw sunshine across your path, it will be full of brightness."
Too much affected to reply, Mr. Edgar returned the warm pressure of
the hand which had grasped his, and glided away.
A gleam of sunshine had indeed fallen along the pathway of the
money-lender. Home had a brighter look as he passed his own
threshold. He felt kinder and more cheerful; and kindness and
cheerfulness flowed back to him from all the inmates of his
dwelling. He half wondered at the changed aspect worn by every
thing. His dreams that night were not of losses, fires, and the
wreck of dearly-cherished hopes, but of the humble home made glad by
his generous kindness. Again the happy mother, the pleased children,
and the grateful father, were before him, and his own heart leaped
with a new delight.
"It was a small act—a very light sacrifice on my part," said Mr.
Edgar to himself, as he walked, in a musing mood, toward his office
on the next morning. "And yet of how much real happiness has it been
the occasion! So much that a portion thereof has flowed back upon my
"A good act is twice blessed." It seemed as if the words were spoken
aloud, so distinctly and so suddenly were they presented to the mind
of Mr. Edgar.
Ah, if he will only heed that suggestion, made by some pure spirit,
brought near to him by the stirring of good affections in his mind!
In it lies the secret of true happiness. Let him but act therefrom,
and the sunshine will never be absent from his pathway.
ENGAGED AT SIXTEEN.
"MRS. LEE is quite fortunate with her daughters," remarked a visitor
to Mrs. Wyman, whose oldest child, a well grown girl of fifteen, was
"Yes; Kate and Harriet went off in good time. She has only Fanny
"Who is to be married this winter."
"She is engaged to Henry Florence."
"Indeed! And she is only just turned of sixteen. How fortunate,
truly! Some people have their daughters on their hands until they
are two or three-and-twenty, when the chances for good matches are
very low. I was only sixteen when I was married."
"Certainly; and then I had rejected two or three young men. There is
nothing like early marriages, depend upon it, Mrs. Clayton. They
always turn out the best. The most desirable young men take their
pick of the youngest girls, and leave the older ones for second-rate
"Do you hear that, Anna?" Mrs. Clayton said, laughing, as she turned
to Mrs. Wyman's daughter. "I hope you will not remain a moment later
than your mother did upon the maiden list."
Anna blushed slightly, but did not reply. What had been said,
however, made its impression on her mind. She felt that to be
engaged early was a matter greatly to be desired.
"My mother was married at sixteen, and here am I fifteen, and
without a lover." So thought Anna, as she paused over the page of a
new novel, some hours after she had listened to the conversation
that passed between her mother and Mrs. Clayton, and mused of love
From that time, Anna Wyman was another girl. The sweet simplicity of
manner, the unconscious innocence peculiar to her age, gradually
vanished. Her eye, that was so clear and soft with the light of
girlhood's pleasant fancies, grew earnest and restless, and, at
times, intensely bright. The whole expression of her countenance was
new. It was no longer a placid sky, with scarce a cloud floating in
its quiet depths, but changeful as April, with its tears and smiles
blending in strange beauty. Her heart, that had long beat
tranquilly, would now bound at a thought, and send the bright
crimson to her cheek—would flutter at the sight of the very
individual whom she, a short time before, would meet without a
single wave ruffling the surface of her feelings. The woman had
suddenly displaced the girl; a sisterly regard, that pure affection
which an innocent maiden's heart has for all around her had expired
on the altar where was kindling up the deep passion called love.
And yet Anna Wyman had not reached her sixteenth year.
All at once, she became restless, capricious, unhappy. She had been
at school up to this period, but now insisted that she was too old
for that; her mother seconded this view of the matter, and her
father, a man of pretty good sense, had to yield.
"We must give Anna a party now," said Mrs. Wyman, after their
daughter had left school.
"Why so?" asked the father.
"Oh—because it is time that she was beginning to come out."
"Come out, how?"
"You are stupid, man. Come out in the list of young ladies. Go into
"But she is a mere child, yet—not sixteen."
"Not sixteen! And how old was I, pray, when you married me?"
The husband did not reply.
"How old was I, Mr. Wyman?"
"About sixteen, I believe."
"Well; and was I a mere child?"
"You were rather young to marry, at least," Mr. Wyman ventured to
say. This remark was made rather too feelingly.
"Too young to marry!" ejaculated the wife, in a tone of surprise and
indignation—"too young to marry; and my husband to say so, too! Mr.
Wyman, do you mean to intimate—do you mean to say?—Mr. Wyman, what
do you mean by that remark?"
"Oh, nothing at all," soothingly replied the husband; "only that
"That I don't, as a general thing, approve of very early marriages.
The character of a young lady is not formed before twenty-one or
two; nor has she gained that experience and knowledge of the world
that will enable her to choose with wisdom."
"You don't pretend to say that my character was not formed at
sixteen?" This was accompanied by a threatening look.
Whatever his thoughts were, Mr. Wyman took good care not to express
them. He merely said—
"I believe, Margaret, that I haven't volunteered any allusion to
"Yes, but you don't approve of early marriages."
"Well, didn't I marry at sixteen? And isn't your opinion a
reflection upon your wife?"
"Circumstances alter cases," smilingly returned Mr. Wyman. "Few
women at sixteen were like you. Very certainly your daughter is
"There I differ with you, Mr. Wyman. I believe our Anna would make
as good a wife now as I did at sixteen. She is as much of a woman in
appearance; her mind is more matured, and her education advanced far
beyond what mine was. She deserves a good husband, and must have one
before the lapse of another year."
"How can you talk so, Margaret? For my part, I do not wish to see
her married for at least five years."
"Preposterous! I wouldn't give a cent for a marriage that takes
place after seventeen or eighteen. They are always indifferent
affairs, and rarely ever turn out well. The earlier the better,
depend upon it. First love and first lover, is my motto."
"Well, Margaret, I suppose you will have these matters your own way;
but I don't agree with you for all."
"Anna must have a party."
"You can do as you like."
"But you must assent to it."
"How can I do that, if I don't approve?"
"But you must approve."
And Mrs. Wyman persevered until she made him approve—at least do so
apparently. And so a party was given to Anna, at which she was
introduced to several dashing young men, whose attentions almost
turned her young head. In two weeks she had a confidante, a young
lady named Clara Spenser, not much older than herself. The progress
already made by Anna in love matters will appear in the following
conversation held in secret with Clara.
"Did you say Mr. Carpenter had been to see you since the party?"
"Yes, indeed," was the animated reply.
"He's a love of a man!—the very one of all others that I would set
my cap for, if there was any hope. But you will, no doubt, carry him
Anna coloured to the temples, half with confusion and half with
"He used to pay attention to Jane Sherman, I'm told."
"Yes; but you've cut her out entirely. Didn't you notice how unhappy
she seemed at the party whenever he was with you?"
"No; was she?"
"Oh, yes; everybody noticed it. But you can carry off all of her
beaux; she's a mere drab of a girl. And, besides, she's getting on
the old maids' list; I'm told she's more than twenty."
"Oh, dear; there's no fear of her then. If I were to go over sixteen
before I married, I should be frightened to death."
"Suppose Carpenter offers himself?"
"I hope he won't just yet."
"I want two or three strings to my bow. It would be dangerous to
reject one unless I had another in my eye."
"Reject? Nonsense! Why should you reject an offer?"
"My mother had three offers before she was sixteen, and rejected two
"Was she married so early?"
"Oh, yes; she was a wife at sixteen, and I'm not going to be a day
later, if possible. I'd like to decline three offers and get
married into the bargain before a year passes. Wouldn't that be
admirable? It would be something to boast of all my life."
Pretty well advanced!—the reader no doubt exclaims; and so our
young lady certainly was. When a very young girl gets into love
matters, she "does them up," as the saying is, quite fast; she
doesn't mince matters at all. A maiden of twenty is cooler, more
thoughtful, and more cautious. She thinks a good deal, and is very
careful how she lets any one—even her confidante, if she should
happen to have one, (which is doubtful)—know much beyond her mere
external thoughts. Four or five years make a good deal of difference
in these things. But this need hardly have been said.
"You are going to Mrs. Ashton's on Wednesday evening, of course?"
said Clara Spenser to Anna, on visiting her one morning, some weeks
after the introduction to Carpenter had taken place.
"Oh, certainly; their soirees, I'm told, are elegant affairs."
"Indeed they are; I've been to two of them. Fine music, pleasant
company, and so much freedom of intercourse—oh, they are
"Did you ever see Mr. Carpenter there?"
"Oh, yes; he always attends."
"I shall enjoy myself highly."
"That you will—the young men are so attentive."
Wednesday night soon came round, and Anna was permitted to go,
unattended by either of her parents, to the so-called soiree at Mrs.
Ashton's. As she had hoped and believed, Carpenter was there. His
attentions to her were constant and flattering; he poured many
compliments into her ears, talking to her all the time in a low,
musical tone. Anna's heart fluttered in her bosom with pleasure; she
felt that she had made a conquest. But the fact of bringing so
charming a young man to her feet, and that so speedily, quickened
her pride, and made it seem the easiest thing in the world to be
able to reject three lovers and yet be engaged, or even married, at
Besides Carpenter, there was another present who saw attractions
about Anna Wyman. He wore a moustache, and made quite a dashing
appearance. In the language of many young ladies, who admired him,
he was an elegant-looking young man—just the one to be proud of as
a beau. His name was Elliott.
As soon as he could get access to the ear of the young and
inexperienced girl, he charmed it with a deeper charm than Carpenter
had been able to impart. She felt almost like one within a magic
circle. His eye fascinated her, and his voice murmured in her ear
like low, sweet music.
A short time before parting from her, he said—
"Miss Wyman, may I have the pleasure of calling upon you at your
"Oh, yes, sir; I shall be most happy to see you." She spoke with
"Then I shall visit you frequently. In your society I promise myself
Anna's eyes fell to the floor, and the colour deepened on her
cheeks. When she looked up, Elliott was gazing steadily in her face,
with an expression of admiration and love.
Her heart was lost. Carpenter, that love of a man, was not thought
of—or, only as one of her rejected lovers.
When Anna laid her head upon her pillow that night, it was not to
sleep. Her mind was too full of pleasant images, central to all of
which was the elegant, accomplished, handsome Mr. Elliott. He had,
she conceived, as good as offered himself, and she, much as she
wished to reject three lovers before she accepted one, felt strongly
inclined to accept him, and so end the matter.
Now, who was Mr. Thomas Elliott? A few words will portray him. Mr.
Elliott was twenty-six; he kept a store in the city; had been in
business for some years, but was not very successful. His habits of
life were not good; his principles had no sound, moral basis. He
was, in fact, just the man to make a silly child like Anna Wyman
wretched for life. But why did he seek for one like her? That is
easily explained. Mr. Wyman was reputed to be pretty well off in the
world, and Mr. Elliott's affairs were in rather a precarious
condition; but he managed to keep so good a face upon the matter,
that none suspected his real condition.
After visiting Anna for a short time, he offered his hand. If it had
not been that her sixteenth birthday was so near, Anna would have
declined the offer, for Thomas Elliott did not grow dearer to her
every day. There were young men whom she liked much better; and if
they had only come forward and presented their claims to favour, she
would have declined the offer. But time was rapidly passing away.
Anna was ambitious of being engaged before she was sixteen, and
married, if possible. Her mother had rejected two offers, and she
was anxious to do as much. Here was a chance for one rejection—but
was she sure of another offer in time? No! There was the difficulty.
For some days she debated the question, and then laid it before her
mother. Mrs. Wyman consulted her husband, who did not much like
Elliott; but the mother felt the necessity of an early marriage, and
overruled all objections. Her advice to Anna was to accept the
offer, and it was accepted, accordingly.
A fond, wayward child of sixteen may chance to marry and do well,
spite of all the drawbacks she will meet; but this is only in case
she happen to marry a man of good sense, warm affections, and great
kindness, who can bear with her as a father bears with a capricious
child; can forgive much and love much. But give the happiness of
such a creature into the keeping of a cold, narrow-minded, selfish,
petulant man, and her cup will soon run over. Bitter, indeed, will
be her lot in life.
Just such a man was Thomas Elliott. He had sought only his own
pleasures, and had owned no law but his own will. For more than ten
years he had been living without other external restraints than
those social laws that all must observe who desire to keep a fair
reputation. He came in when he pleased and went out when he pleased.
He required service from all, and gave it to none—that is, so far
as he needed service, he exacted it from those under him, but was
not in the habit of making personal sacrifices for the sake of
others. Thus, his natural selfishness was confirmed. When he
married, it was with an end to the good he should derive from the
union—not from a generous desire to make another happy in himself.
Anna was young, vivacious, and more than ordinarily intelligent and
pretty. There was much about her that was attractive, and Elliott
really imagined that he loved her; but it was himself that he loved
in her fascinating qualities. These were all to minister to his
pleasure. He never once thought of devoting himself to her
On the night of the wedding, which took place soon after Anna's
sixteenth birthday, the bride was in that bewildered state of mind
which destroys all the rational perceptions of the mind. Her whole
soul was in a pleasing tumult, and yet she did not feel happy; and
why? Spite of the solemn promise she had made to love and honour her
husband above all men, she felt that there were others whom she
could have loved and honoured more than him, were they in his place.
But this, reason told her, was folly. They had not presented
themselves, and he had. They could be nothing to her—he must be
every thing. To secure a husband early was the great point, and that
had been gained. This thought, whenever it crossed her mind, would
cause her to look around upon her maiden companions with proud
self-complacency, They were still upon the shores of expectancy. She
had launched her boat upon the sunny sea of matrimony, and was
already moving steadily away under a pleasant breeze.
Alas! young bride, thy hymeneal altar is an altar of sacrifice. Love
is not the deity who is presiding there. Little do they dream who
have led thee, poor lamb! garlanded with flowers, to that altar, how
innocent, how true, how good a heart they were offering up upon its
strange fires. But they will know in time, and thou wilt know when
it is too late.
Two years from the period of their marriage, Elliott and his wife
were seated in a small room moderately well furnished. He was
leaning back in a chair, with arms folded, and his chin resting on
his bosom. His face was contracted into a gloomy scowl. Anna, who
looked pale and troubled, was sewing and touching with her foot a
cradle, in which was a babe. The little one seemed restless. Every
now and then it would start and moan, or cry out. After a time it
awoke and commenced screaming. The mother lifted it from the cradle
and tried to hush it upon her bosom, but the babe still cried on. It
was evidently in pain.
"Confound you! why don't you keep that child quiet?" exclaimed the
husband, impatiently casting at the same time an angry look upon his
Anna made no reply, but turned half away from him, evidently to
conceal the tears that suddenly started from her eyes, and strove
more earnestly to quiet the child. In this she soon succeeded.
"I believe you let her cry on purpose, whenever I am in the house,
just to annoy me," her husband resumed in an ill-natured tone.
"No, Thomas, you know that I do not," Anna said.
"Say I lie, why don't you?"
"Oh, Thomas, how can you speak so to me?" And his young wife turned
toward him an earnest, tearful look.
"Pah! don't try to melt me with your crying. I never believed in it.
Women can cry at any moment."
There was a convulsive motion of Mrs. Elliott's head as she turned
quickly away, and a choking sound in her throat. She remained
silent, ten minutes passed, when her husband said in a firm voice,
"Anna, I'm going to break up."
Mrs. Elliott glanced around with a startled air.
"It's true, just what I say—your father may think that I'm going to
make a slave of myself to support you, but he's mistaken. He's
refused to help me in my business one single copper, though he's
able enough. And now I've taken my resolution. You can go back to
him as quick as you like."
Before the brutal husband had half finished the sentence, his wife
was on her feet, with a cheek deadly pale, and eyes almost starting
from her head. Thomas Elliott was her husband and the father of her
babe, and as such she had loved him with a far deeper love than he
had deserved. This had caused her to bear with coldness and neglect,
and even positive unkindness without a complaint. Sacredly had she
kept from her mother even a hint of the truth. Thus had she gone on
almost from the first; for only a few months elapsed before she
discovered that her image was dim on her husband's heart.
"You needn't stand there staring at me like one moon-struck"—he
said, with bitter sarcasm and a curl of the lip. "What I say is the
truth. I'm going to give up, and you've got to go home to them that
are more able to support you than I am; and who have a better right,
too, I'm thinking."
There was something so heartless and chilling in the words and
manner of her husband, that Mrs. Elliott made no attempt to reply.
Covering her face with her hands, she sunk back into the chair from
which she had risen, more deeply miserable than she had ever been in
her life. From this state she was aroused by the imperative
"Anna, what do you intend doing?"
"That is for you to say"—was her murmured reply.
"Then, I say, go home to your father, and at once."
Without a word the wife rose from her chair, with her infant in her
arms, and pausing only long enough to put on her shawl and bonnet,
left the house.
Mr. and Mrs. Wyman were sitting alone late on the afternoon of the
same day, thinking about and conversing of their child. Neither of
them felt too well satisfied with the result of her marriage. It
required not even the close observation of a parent's eye, to
discover that she was far from happy.
"I wish she were only single"—Mr. Wyman at length said. "She
married much too young—only eighteen now, and with a cold-hearted
and, I fear, unprincipled and neglectful husband. It is sad to think
"But I was married as young as she was, Mr. Wyman?"
"Yes; but I flatter myself you made a better choice. Your condition
at eighteen was very different from what hers is now. As I said
before, I only wish she were single, and then I wouldn't care to see
her married for two or three years to come."
"I can't help wishing she had refused Mr. Elliott. If she had done
so, she might have been married to a much better man long before
this. Mr. Carpenter is worth a dozen of him. Oh dear! this marriage
is all a lottery, after all. Few prizes and many blanks. Poor Anna!
she is not happy."
At this moment the door opened, and the child of whom they were
speaking, with her infant in her arms, came hurriedly in. Her face
was deadly pale, her lips tightly compressed, and her eyes widely
distended and fixed.
"Anna!" exclaimed the mother, starting up quickly and springing
"My child, what ails you?" was eagerly asked by the father, as he,
too, rose up hastily.
But there was no reply. The heart of the child was too full. She
could not utter the truth. She had been sent back to her parents by
her husband, but her tongue could not declare that! Pride, shame,
wounded affections, combined to hold back her words. Her only reply
was to lay her babe in her mother's arms, and then fling herself
upon the bosom of her father.
All was mystery then, but time soon unveiled the cause of their
daughter's strange and sudden appearance, and her deep anguish. The
truth gradually came out that she had been deserted by her husband;
or, what seemed to Mrs. Wyman more disgraceful still, had been sent
home by him. Bitterly did she execrate him, but it availed nothing.
Her ardent wish had been gratified. Anna was engaged at sixteen, and
married soon after; but at eighteen, alas! she had come home a
deserted wife and mother! And so she remained. Her husband never
afterward came near her. And now, at thirty, with a daughter well
grown, she remains in her father's house, a quiet, thoughtful,
dreamy woman, who sees little in life that is attractive, and who
rarely stirs beyond the threshold of the house that shelters her.
There are those who will recognise this picture.
So much for being engaged at sixteen!
IT often happens that a daughter possesses greatly superior
advantages to those enjoyed, in early years, by either her father or
mother. She is not compelled to labour as hard as they were obliged
to labour when young; and she is blessed with the means of education
far beyond what they had. Her associations, too, are of a different
order, all tending to elevate her views of life, to refine her
tastes, and to give her admission into a higher grade of society
than they were fitted to move in.
Unless very watchful of herself and very thoughtful of her parents,
a daughter so situated will be led at times to draw comparisons
between her own cultivated intellect and taste and the want of such
cultivation in her parents, and to think indifferently of them, as
really inferior, because not so well educated and accomplished as
she is. A distrust of their judgment and a disrespect of their
opinions will follow, as a natural consequence, if these thoughts
and feelings be indulged. This result often takes place with
thoughtless, weak-minded girls; and is followed by what is worse, a
disregard to their feelings, wishes, and express commands.
A sensible daughter, who loves her parents, will hardly forget to
whom she is indebted for all the superior advantages she enjoys. She
will also readily perceive that the experience which her parents
have acquired, and their natural strength of mind, give them a real
and great superiority over her, and make their judgment, in all
matters of life, far more to be depended upon than hers could
possibly be. It may be that her mother has never learned to play
upon the piano, has never been to a dancing-school, has never had
any thing beyond the merest rudiments of an education; but she has
good sense, prudence, industry, economy; understands and practises
all the virtues of domestic life; has a clear, discriminating
judgment; has been her husband's faithful friend and adviser for
some twenty or thirty years; and has safely guarded and guided her
children up to mature years. These evidences of a mother's title to
her respect and fullest confidence cannot long be absent from a
daughter's mind, and will prevent her acting in direct opposition to
Thoughtless indeed must be that child who can permit an emotion of
disrespect toward her parents to dwell in her bosom for more than a
Respect and love toward parents are absolutely necessary to the
proper formation of the character upon that true basis which will
bring into just order and subordination all the powers of the mind.
Without this order and subordination there can be no true happiness.
A child loves and respects his parents, because from them he derived
his being, and from them receives every blessing and comfort. To
them, and to them alone, does his mind turn as the authors of all
the good gifts he possessed. As a mere child, it is right for him
thus to regard his parents as the authors of his being and the
originators of all his blessings. But as reason gains strength, and
he sees more deeply into the nature and causes of things, which only
takes place as the child approaches the years of maturity, it is
then seen that the parents were only the agents through which life,
and all the blessings accompanying it, came from God, the great
Father of all. If the parents have been loved with a truly filial
love, then the mind has been suitably opened and prepared for love
toward God, and an obedience to his divine laws, without which there
can be no true happiness. When this new and higher truth takes
possession of the child's mind, it in no way diminishes his respect
for his earthly parents, but increases it. He no longer obeys them
because they command obedience, but he regards the truth of their
precepts, and in that truth hears the voice of God speaking to him.
More than ever is he now careful to listen to their wise counsels,
because he perceives in them the authority of reason, which is the
authority of God.
Most young ladies, on attaining the age of responsibility, will
perceive a difference in the manner of their parents. Instead of
opposing them, as heretofore, with authority, they will oppose them
with reason, where opposition is deemed necessary. The mother,
instead of saying, when she disapproves any thing, "No, my child,
you cannot do it;" or, "No you must not go, dear;" will say, "I
would rather not have you do so;" or, "I do not approve of your
going." If you ask her reasons, she will state them, and endeavour
to make you comprehend their force. It is far too often the case,
that the daughter's desire to do what her mother disapproves is so
active, that neither her mother's objections nor reasons are strong
enough to counteract her wishes, and she follows her own
inclinations instead of being guided by her mother's better
judgment. In these instances, she almost always does wrong, and
suffers therefore either bodily or mental pain.
Obedience in childhood is that by which we are led and guided into
right actions. When we become men and women, reason takes the place
of obedience; but, like a young bird just fluttering from its nest,
reason at first has not much strength of wing; and we should
therefore suffer the reason of those who love us, like the
mother-bird, to stoop under and bear us up in our earlier efforts,
lest we fall bruised and wounded to the ground. To whose reason
should a young girl look to strengthen her own, so soon as to her
mother's, guided as it is by love? But it too often happens that,
under the first impulses of conscious freedom, no voice is regarded
but the voice of inclination and passion. The mother may oppose, and
warn, and urge the most serious considerations, but the daughter
turns a deaf ear to all. She thinks that she knows best.
"You are not going to-night, Mary?" said a mother, coming into her
daughter's room, and finding her dressing for a ball. She had been
rather seriously indisposed for some days, with a cold that had
fallen upon her throat and chest, which was weak, but was now
"I think I will, mother, for I am much better than I was yesterday,
and have improved since morning. I have promised myself so much
pleasure at this ball, that I cannot think of being disappointed."
The mother shook her head.
"Mary," she replied, "you are not well enough to go out. The air is
damp, and you will inevitably take more cold. Think how badly your
throat has been inflamed."
"I don't think it has been so very bad, mother."
"The doctor told me it was badly inflamed, and said you would have
to be very careful of yourself, or it might prove serious."
"That was some days ago. It is a great deal better now."
"But the least exposure may cause it to return."
"I will be very careful not to expose myself. I will wrap up warm
and go in a carriage. I am sure there is not the least danger,
"While I am sure that there is very great danger. You cannot pass
from the door to the carriage, without the damp air striking upon
your face, and pressing into your lungs."
"But I must not always exclude myself from the air, mother. Air and
exercise, you know, the doctor says, are indispensable to health."
"Dry, not damp air. This makes the difference. But you must act for
yourself, Mary. You are now a woman, and must freely act in the
light of that reason which God has given you. Because I love you,
and desire your welfare, I thus seek to convince you that it is
wrong to expose your health to-night. Your great desire to go blinds
you to the real danger, which I can fully see."
"You are over-anxious, mother," urged Mary. "I know how I feel much
better than you possibly can, and I know I am well enough to go."
"I have nothing more to say, my child," returned the mother. "I wish
you to act freely, but wisely. Wisely I am sure you will not act if
you go to-night. A temporary illness may not alone be the
consequence; your health may receive a shock from which it will
"Mother wishes to frighten me," said Mary to herself, after her
mother had left the room. "But I am not to be so easily frightened.
I am sorry she makes such a serious matter about my going, for I
never like to do any thing that is not agreeable to her feelings.
But I must go to this ball. William is to call for me at eight, and
he would be as much disappointed as myself if I were not to go. As
to making more cold, what of that? I would willingly pay the penalty
of a pretty severe cold rather than miss the ball."
Against all her mother's earnestly urged objections, Mary went with
her lover to the ball. She came home, at one o'clock, with a sharp
pain through her breast, red spots on her cheeks, oppression of the
chest, and considerable fever. On the next morning she was unable to
rise from her bed. When the doctor, who was sent for, came in, he
looked grave, and asked if there had been any exposure by which a
fresh cold could be taken.
"She was at the ball last night," replied the mother.
"Not with your approval, madam?" he said quickly, looking with a
stern expression into the mother's face.
"No, doctor. I urged her not to go; but Mary thought she knew best.
She did not believe there was any danger."
A strong expression rose to the doctor's lips, but he repressed it,
lest he should needlessly alarm the patient. On retiring from her
chamber, he declared the case to be a very critical one; and so it
proved to be. Mary did not leave her room for some months; and when
she did, it was with a constitution so impaired that she could not
endure the slightest fatigue, nor bear the least exposure. Neither
change of climate nor medicine availed any thing toward restoring
her to health. In this feeble state she married, about twelve months
afterward, the young man who had accompanied her to the ball. One
year from the period at which that happy event took place, she died,
leaving to stranger hands a babe that needed all her tenderest care,
and a husband almost broken-hearted at his loss.
This is not merely a picture from the imagination, and highly
coloured. It is from nature, and every line is drawn with the pencil
of truth. Hundreds of young women yearly sink into the grave, whose
friends can trace to some similar act of imprudence, committed in
direct opposition to the earnest persuasions of parents or friends,
the cause of their premature decay and death. And too often other,
and sometimes even worse, consequences than death, follow a
disregard of the mother's voice of warning.
[From our story of "The Two Brides," we take a scene, in which some
one sorrowing as those without hope may find words of consolation.]
IN the very springtime of young womanhood, the destroyer had come;
and though he laid his hand upon her gently at first, yet the touch
was none the less fatal. But, while her frail body wasted, her
spirit remained peaceful. As the sun of her natural life sunk low in
the sky, the bright auroral precursor of another day smiled along
the eastern verge of her spiritual horizon. There was in her heart
neither doubt, nor fear, nor shrinking.
"Dear Marion!" said Anna, dropping a tear upon her white transparent
hand, as she pressed it to her lips, a few weeks after the alarming
hemorrhage just mentioned; "how can you look at this event so
They had been speaking of death, and Marion had alluded to its
approach to Anna, with a strange cheerfulness, as if she felt it to
be nothing more than a journey to another and far pleasanter land
than that wherein she now dwelt.
"Why should I look upon this change with other than tranquil
feelings?" she asked.
"Why? How can you ask such a question, sister?" returned Anna. "To
me, there has been always something in the thought of death that
made the blood run cold about my heart."
"This," replied Marion, with one of her sweet smiles, "is because
your ideas of death have been, from the first, confused and
erroneous. You thought of the cold and pulseless body; the pale
winding-sheet; the narrow coffin, and the deep, dark grave. But, I
do not let my thoughts rest on these. To me, death involves the idea
of eternal life. I cannot think of the one without the other. Should
the chrysalis tremble at the coming change?—the dull worm in its
cerements shrink from the moment when, ordained by nature, it must
rise into a new life, and expand its wings in the sunny air? How
much less cause have I to tremble and shrink back as the hour
approaches when this mortal is to put on immortality?"
"Yours is a beautiful faith," said Anna. "And its effects, as seen
now that the hour from which all shrink approaches, are strongly
corroborative of its truth."
"It is beautiful because it is true," replied Marion. "There is no
real beauty that is not the form of something good and true."
"If I were as good as you, I might not shrink from death," remarked
Anna, with a transient sigh.
"I hope you are better than I am, dear; and think you are," said
"Oh, no!" quickly returned Anna.
"Do you purpose evil in your heart?" asked Marion, seriously.
Anna seemed half surprised at the question.
"Evil! Evil! I hope not," she replied, as a shadow came over her
"It is an evil purpose only that should make us fear death, Anna;
for therein lies the only cause of fear. Death, to those who love
themselves and the world above every thing else, is a sad event; but
to those who love God and their neighbour supremely, it is a happy
"That is all true," said Anna. "My reason assents to it. But, in the
act of dissolution—in that mortal strife, when the soul separates
itself from the body—there is something from which my heart shrinks
and trembles down fainting in my bosom. Ah! In the crossing of that
bourne from which no traveller has returned to tell us of what is
beyond, there is something that more than half appals me."
"There is much that takes away the fear you have mentioned," replied
Marion. "It is the uncertain that causes us to tremble and shrink
back. But, when we know what is before us, we prepare ourselves to
meet it. Attendant upon every one who dies, says a certain writer,
are two angels, who keep his mind entirely above the thought of
death, and in the idea of eternal life. They remain with him through
the whole process—protecting him from evil spirits—and receive him
into the world of spirits after his soul has fully withdrawn itself
from the interior of the body. The last idea, active in the mind of
the person before death, is the first idea in his mind after death,
when his consciousness of life is restored; and it is some time
after this conscious life returns before he is aware that he is
dead. Around him he sees objects similar to those seen in the
natural world. There are houses and trees, streams of water and
gardens. Men and women dressed in variously fashioned garments. They
walk and converse together, as we do upon earth. When, at length, he
is told that he has died, and is now in a world that is spiritual
instead of natural—that the body in which he is, is a body formed
of spiritual instead of natural substances, he is in a measure
affected with surprise, and for the most part a pleasing surprise.
He wonders at the grossness of his previous ideas, which limited
form and substances to material things; and now, unless he had been
instructed during his life in the world, begins to comprehend the
truth that man is a man from the spirit, not from the body."
Anna, who had been listening intently, drew a long breath, as Marion
"Dead, and yet not know the fact!" said she, with an expression of
wonder. "It seems incredible. And all this you fully believe?"
"Yes, Anna; as entirely as I believe in the existence of the sun in
"If these doctrines can take away the fear of death, which so haunts
the mind of even those who are striving to live pure lives, they are
indeed a legacy of good to the world. Oh, Marion, how much I have
suffered, ever since the days of my childhood, from this dreadful
"They do take away the fear of death," returned Marion; "because
they remove the uncertainty which has heretofore gathered like a
gloomy pall over the last hours of mortality. When the soul of lover
or friend passed from this world, it seemed to plunge into a dark
profound, and there came not back an echo to tell of his fate. 'The
bourne from which no traveller returns!' Oh! the painful eloquence
of that single line. But, now, we who receive the doctrine of which
I speak, can look beyond this bourne; and though the traveller
returns not, yet we know something of how he fared on his entrance
into the new country."
"Then we need not fear for you," said Anna, tenderly, "when you are
called to pass this bourne?"
"No, sister," replied Marion, "I know in whom I have believed, and I
feel sure that it will be well with me, so far as I have shunned
what is evil and sought to do good. Do not think of me as sinking
into some gloomy profound; or awakening from my sleep of death,
startled, amazed, or shocked by the sudden transition. Loving angels
will be my companions as I descend into the valley and the shadow of
death; and I will fear no evil. Upon the other side I will be
received among those who have gone before, and I will scarcely feel
that there has been a change. A little while I will remain there,
and then pass upward to my place in heaven."
The mother of Marion entered her room at this moment, and the
conversation was suspended. But it was renewed again soon after, and
the gentle-hearted, spiritual-minded girl continued to talk of the
other world as one preparing for a journey talks about the new
country into which he is about going, and of whose geography, and
the manners and customs of whose people, he has made himself
conversant from books.
Not long did she remain on this side of the dark valley, through
which she was to pass. A few months wound up the story of her
earthly life, and she went peacefully and confidently on her way to
her eternal dwelling-place. It was a sweet, sad time, when the
parting hour came, and the mother, brother, and dearly loved adopted
sister, gathered around Marion's bed to see her die. That angels
were present, each one felt; for the sphere of tranquillity that
pervaded the hearts of all was the sphere of heaven.
"God is love," said Marion, a short time before she passed away. She
was holding the hand of her mother, and looking tenderly in her
face. "How exquisite is my perception of this truth? It comes upon
me with a power that subdues my spirit, yet fills it with ineffable
peace. With what a wondrous love has he regarded us! I never had had
so intense a perception of this as now."
Marion closed her eyes, and for some time lay silent, while a
heavenly smile irradiated her features. Then looking up, she said,
and as she spoke she took the hand of Anna and placed it within that
of her mother—
"When I am gone, let the earthly love you bore me, mother, be added
to that already felt for our dear Anna. Think of me as an angel, and
of her as your child."
In spite of her effort to restrain them, tears gushed from the eyes
of Mrs. Lee, and fell like rain over her cheeks. For a short time
she bent to her dying one, and clasped her wildly to her bosom. But
the calmness of a deeply laid trust in Providence was soon restored
to her spirit, and she said, speaking of Anna—
"Without her, how could we part with you? I do not think I could
"I shall go before you only a little while," returned Marion, "only
a very little while. A few years—how quickly they will hurry by! A
few more days of labour, and your earthly tasks will be done. Then
we shall meet again. And even in the days of our separation we shall
not be far removed from each other. Thought will bring us
spiritually near, and affection conjoin us, even though no sense of
the body give token of proximity. And who knows but to me will be
assigned the guardianship of the dear babe given to us by Anna? Oh!
if love will secure that holy duty, then it will be mine!"
A light, as if reflected from the sun of heaven, beamed from the
countenance of Marion, who closed her eyes, and, in a little while,
fell off into a gentle sleep. Silently did those who loved her with
more than human tenderness—for there was in their affection a love
of goodness for its own sake—bend over and watch the face of the
sweet sleeper, even until there came stealing upon them the fear
that she would not waken again in this world. And the fear was not
groundless; for thus she passed away. To her death came as a gentle
messenger, to bid her go up higher. And she obeyed the summons
without a mortal fear.
No passionate grief at their loss raged wildly in the bosoms of
those who suffered this great bereavement. For years, the mother and
son had daily striven against selfish feelings as evil; and now,
comprehending with the utmost clearness that Marion's removal was,
for her, a blessed change, their hearts were thankful, even while
tears wet their cheeks. They mourned for her departure, because they
were human; they suffered pain, for ties of love the most tender had
been snapped asunder; they wept, because in weeping nature found
relief. Yet, in all, peace brooded over their spirits.
When the fading, wasting form of earth which Marion's pure spirit
had worn, as a garment, but now laid aside forever, was borne out,
and consigned to its kindred clay, those who remained behind
experienced no new emotions of grief. To them Marion still lived.
This was the old mortal body, that vailed, rather than made visible,
her real beauty. Now she was clothed in a spiritual body, that was
transcendently beautiful, because it was the very form of good
affections. To lay the useless garment aside was not, therefore, a
painful task. This done, each member of the bereaved family returned
to his and her life-tasks, and, in the faithful discharge of daily
duties, found a sustaining power. But Marion was not lost to them.
Ever present was she in their thought and affection, and often, in
dreams, she was with them,—yet, never as the suffering mortal; but
as the happy, glorified immortal. Beautiful was the faith upon which
they leaned. To them the spiritual was not a something vague and
undeterminate; but a real entity. They looked beyond the grave, into
the spiritual world, as into a better country, where life was
continued in higher perfection, and where were spiritual ultimates,
as perfectly adapted to spiritual sense as are the ultimates of
creation to the senses of the natural body.
THE LOVE SECRET.
"EDWARD is to be in London next week," said Mrs. Ravensworth; "and I
trust, Edith, that you will meet him with the frankness he is
entitled to receive."
Edith Hamilton, who stood behind the chair of her aunt, did not make
Mrs. Ravensworth continued—"Edward's father was your father's own
brother. A man of nobler spirit never moved on English soil; and I
hear that Edward is the worthy son of a worthy sire."
"If he were as pure and perfect as an angel, aunt," replied Edith,
"it would be all the same to me. I have never seen him, and cannot,
therefore, meet him as one who has a right to claim my hand."
"Your father gave you away when you were a child, Edith; and Edward
comes now to claim you by virtue of this betrothal."
"While I love the memory of my father, and honour him as a child
should honour a parent," said Edith, with much seriousness, "I do
not admit his right to give me away in marriage while I was yet a
child. And, moreover, I do not think the man who would seek to
consummate such a marriage contract worthy of any maiden's love.
Only the heart that yields a free consent is worth having, and the
man who would take any other is utterly unworthy of any woman's
regard. By this rule I judge Edward to be unworthy, no matter what
his father may have been."
"Then you mean," said Mrs. Ravensworth, "deliberately to violate the
solemn contract made by your father with the father of Edward?"
"I cannot receive Edward as anything but a stranger," replied Edith.
"It will not mend the error of my father for me to commit a still
"How commit a still greater one?" inquired Mrs. Ravensworth.
"Destroy the very foundation of a true marriage—freedom of choice
and consent. There would be no freedom of choice on his part, and no
privilege of consent on mine. Happiness could not follow such a
union, and to enter into it would be doing a great wrong. No, aunt,
I cannot receive Edward in any other way than as a stranger—for
such he is."
"There is a clause in your father's will that you may have
forgotten, Edith," said her aunt.
"That which makes me penniless if I do not marry Edward Hamden?"
"No—I have not forgotten it, aunt."
"And you mean to brave that consequence?"
"In a choice of evils we always take the least." Edith's voice
Mrs. Ravensworth did not reply for some moments. While she sat
silent, the half-closed door near which Edith stood, and toward
which her aunt's back was turned, softly opened, and a handsome
youth, between whom and Edith glances of intelligence instantly
passed, presented the startled maiden with a beautiful white rose,
and then noiselessly retired.
It was nearly a minute before Mrs. Ravensworth resumed the light
employment in which she was engaged, and as she did so, she said—
"Many a foolish young girl gets her head turned with those gay
gallants at our fashionable watering-places, and imagines that she
has won a heart when the object of her vain regard never felt the
throb of a truly unselfish and noble impulse."
The crimson deepened on Edith's cheeks and brow, and as she lifted
her eyes, she saw herself in a large mirror opposite, with her
aunt's calm eyes steadily fixed upon her. To turn her face partly
away, so that it could no longer be reflected from the mirror, was
the work of an instant. In a few moments she said—
"Let young and foolish girls get their heads turned if they will.
But I trust I am in no danger."
"I am not so sure of that. Those who think themselves most secure
are generally in the greatest danger. Who is the youth with whom you
danced last evening? I don't remember to have seen him here before."
"His name is Evelyn." There was a slight tremor in Edith's voice.
"How came you to know him?"
"I met him here last season."
"Yes, ma'am. And I danced with him last night. Was there any harm in
that?" The maiden's voice had regained its firmness.
"I didn't say there was," returned Mrs. Ravensworth, who again
relapsed into silence. Not long after, she said—"I think we will
return to London on Thursday."
"So soon!" Edith spoke in a disappointed voice.
"Do you find it so very pleasant here?" said the aunt, a little
"I have not complained of its being dull, aunt," replied Edith. "But
if you wish to return on Thursday, I will be ready to accompany
Soon after this, Edith Hamilton left her aunt's room, and went to
one of the drawing-rooms of the hotel at which they were staying,
where she sat down near a recess window that overlooked a beautiful
promenade. She had been here only a few minutes, when she was joined
by a handsome youth, to whom Edith said—
"How could you venture to the door of my aunt's parlour? I'm half
afraid she detected your presence, for she said, immediately
afterward, that we would return to London on the day after
"So soon? Well, I'll be there next week, and it will be strange if,
with your consent, we don't meet often."
"Edward Hamden is expected in a few days," replied Edith, her voice
Her companion looked at her searchingly for a few moments, and then
"You have never met him?"
"But when you do meet him, the repugnance you now feel may instantly
A shadow passed over Edith's face, and she answered in a voice that
showed the remark—the tone of which conveyed more than the words
themselves—to have been felt as a question of her constancy.
"Can one whose heart is all unknown to me, one who must think of me
with a feeling of dislike because of bonds and pledges, prove a
nearer or a dearer friend than—"
Edith did not finish the sentence. But that was not needed. The
glance of rebuking tenderness cast upon her companion expressed all
that her lips had failed to utter.
"But you do not know me, Edith," said the young man.
"My heart says differently," was Edith's lowly spoken reply.
Evelyn pressed the maiden's hand, and looked into her face with an
earnest, loving expression.
Mrs. Ravensworth, to whose care Edith had been consigned on the
death of her father, had never been pleased with the unwise contract
made by the parents of her niece and Edward Hamden. The latter had
been for ten years in Paris and Italy, travelling and pursuing his
studies. These being completed, in obedience to the will of a
deceased parent, he was about returning to London to meet his future
wife. No correspondence had taken place between the parties to this
unnatural contract; and, from the time of Edward's letter, when he
announced to Mrs. Ravensworth his proposed visit, it was plain that
his feelings were as little interested in his future partner as were
hers in him.
During the two or three days that Mrs. Ravensworth and her niece
remained at the watering-place, Edith and young Evelyn met
frequently; but, as far as possible, at times when they supposed the
particular attention of the aunt would not be drawn toward them in
such a manner as to penetrate their love secret. When, at length,
they parted, it was with an understanding that they were to meet in
On returning to the city, the thoughts of Edith reverted more
directly to the fact of Edward Hamden's approaching visit; and, in
spite of all her efforts to remain undisturbed in her feelings, the
near approach of this event agitated her. Mrs. Ravensworth
frequently alluded to the subject, and earnestly pressed upon Edith
the consideration of her duty to her parent, as well as the
consequences that must follow her disregard of the contract which
had been made. But the more she talked on this subject, the more
firm was Edith in expressing her determination not to do violence to
her feelings in a matter so vital to her happiness.
The day at length came upon which Edward Hamden was to arrive. Edith
appeared, in the morning, with a disturbed air. It was plain to the
closely observing eyes of her aunt, that she had not passed a night
of refreshing sleep.
"I trust, my dear niece," she said, after they had retired from the
breakfast table, where but little food had been taken, "that you
will not exhibit toward Edward, on meeting him, any of the
preconceived and unjust antipathy you entertain. Let our feelings,
at least, remain uncommitted for or against him."
"Aunt Helen, it is useless to talk to me in this way," Edith
replied, with more than her usual warmth. "The simple fact of an
obligation to love puts a gulf between us. My heart turns from him
as from an enemy. I will meet him with politeness; but it must be
cold and formal. To ask of me more, is to ask what I cannot give. I
only wish that he possessed the manliness I would have had if
similarly situated. Were this so, I would now be free by his act,
not my own."
Seeing that all she urged but made the feelings of Edith oppose
themselves more strongly to the young man, Mrs. Ravensworth ceased
to speak upon the subject, and the former was left to brood with a
deeply disturbed heart over the approaching interview with one who
had come to claim a hand that she resolutely determined not to
About twelve o'clock, Mrs. Ravensworth came to Edith's room and
announced the arrival of Edward Hamden. The maiden's face became
pale, and her lips quivered.
"If I could but be spared an interview," she murmured. "But that is
more than I can ask."
"How weak you are, Edith," replied her aunt, in a tone of reproof.
"I will join you in the drawing-room in half an hour," said Edith,
speaking more calmly.
Mrs. Ravensworth retired, and left Edith again to her own thoughts.
She sat for nearly the whole of the time she had mentioned. Then
rising hurriedly, she made a few changes in her attire; after which
she descended to the drawing-room with a step that was far from
So noiselessly did she enter the apartment where Hamden awaited her,
that neither her aunt nor the young man perceived her presence for
some moments, and she had time to examine his appearance, and to
read the lineaments of his half-averted face. While she stood thus
observing him, her countenance suddenly flushed, and she bent
forward with a look of surprise and eagerness. At this moment the
young man became aware that she had entered, and rising up quickly,
advanced to meet her.
"Evelyn!" exclaimed Edith, striking her hands together, the moment
he turned toward her.
"Edith! my own Edith!" returned the young man, as he grasped her
hand, and ventured a warm kiss on her beautiful lips. "Not Evelyn,
but Hamden. Our parents betrothed us while we were yet too young to
give or withhold consent. Both, as we grew older, felt this pledge
as a heart-sickening constraint. But we met as strangers, and I saw
that you were all my soul could desire. I sought your regard and won
it. No obligation but love now binds us."
The young man then turned to Mrs. Ravensworth, and said—
"You see, madam, that we are not strangers."
Instead of looking surprised, Mrs. Ravensworth smiled calmly, and
"No—it would be singular if you were. Love-tokens don't generally
pass, nor familiar meetings take place between strangers."
"Love-tokens, Aunt Helen?" fell from the lips of Edith, as she
turned partly away from Hamden, and looked inquiringly at her
"Yes, dear," returned Mrs. Ravensworth. "White roses, for instance.
You saw your own blushing face in the mirror, did you not?"
"The mirror! Then you saw Edward present the rose?"
"And did you know me?" inquired the young man.
"One who knew your rather as well as I did could not fail to know
the son. I penetrated your love secret as soon as it was known to
"Aunt Helen!" exclaimed Edith, hiding her face on the neck of her
kind relative, "how have I been deceived!"
"Happily, I trust, love," returned Mrs. Ravensworth, tenderly.
"Most happily! My heart swells with gladness almost to bursting,"
came murmuring from the lips of the joyful maiden.