THE TWO BROTHERS.

BY FRANCES HENSHAW BADEN.

"Ah here we are!" said pleasant voice, as the driver, having jumped from his seat, opened the carriage door.

"Yes, sir, I think so. This is the street and number—244 or 246, which did you say?"

"'Pon my word, I've forgotten, and lost the card," answered the pleasant voice.

"The name, sir? I'll inquire."

"Never mind. I'll take a look at both houses, and see if I cannot decide. I'm earlier than expected, so I can look well before they come out to welcome me. Just dump my luggage down on the sidewalk, and make off for another job," said the old gentleman, handing the fare to the man, who soon after drove off.

"Well, here are two cottages alike, and very unlike, too. This one is Charley's home, I know. Why? Because it is newly painted. The fencing all in perfect order. The grounds, although very limited, are prettily fixed up. Flowers and vines—ah, I like the looks of this place! And I'm sure I'm right in fixing it in my mind as Charley's. Some don't-carish fellow lives there—loves his pipe, cigars and wine, may be, better than his home, wife and children. Dear, dear! how those blinds are suffering for a coat of paint! A few dollars would make that fence all right. How different that entrance would look with a little rustic seat like this one! I wonder that fellow does not notice how much he might improve his place, if he only did as Charley. But here comes the servant. I'll get her to let me in."

"Rather sooner than you expected me, ain't it? Folks not up yet? Just go back and open the door, my girl; let me in, and then tell Mr. Charles Mayfield that his uncle has come!"

"Oh, sir, you mistake! It is next door Mr. Charles Mayfield lives," answered the girl.

"Next door? No; you mistake, surely. My nephew Charley can't live there!"

"Yes, sir. But his—" What the girl was going to say was stopped by a jovial voice in the next door, calling out: "Uncle, here! How are you?" And a moment more the pleasant old gentleman was caught by both hands and drawn along to the next house. His nephew Charley saying: "I'm so delighted to see you! Come in!"

Into the parlor he was carried, and seated in a very comfortable arm-chair. The interior was more inviting than the outside. It told very plainly that the wife did her duty toward making everything as nice as possible; in a word, making the best of her means.

A very short time after a sweet-faced little woman entered, and was presented by Charley, saying:

"Here is your niece, uncle."

The old gentleman received her welcome greeting by a return of real affection. His heart warmed immediately to his nephew's wife. She bore the traces of beauty which had been chased away by an over-amount of care, the uncle very soon felt sure. There was an unmistakable look of weariness and anxiety in her eyes.

Very soon Nellie, as Charley called her, excused herself, and went out, saying she had a very inexperienced servant, and had to oversee and assist her in her work.

Breakfast was announced, which was one that Uncle Hiram enjoyed, notwithstanding the feeling which was uppermost in his mind, that the strong, fragrant coffee, the delicate rolls, and the steak which was cooked just as it should be, in a word, all that was so nice, was the result of Nellie's skilful hands. And she looked so tired and heated when she sat down to do the honors of her table. Again Uncle Hiram noticed that constantly her eyes wandered from the table to a door which entered the next room, which was partially opened. Her ear seemed strained to catch every sound. At length a little, feeble wail told the cause of her anxiety.

"Will you excuse me a moment, uncle?" she asked, and continued: "Our babe was quite sick all night, and I feel anxious about her."

A moment or so after Nellie withdrew, the servant came in, bringing a fresh supply of hot rolls. Then Uncle Hiram had a chance of seeing the help Nellie had with her many duties—a half-grown girl.

"Inexperienced, truly, inefficient and insufficient," said the kind old man to himself; and he made a note of that on the tablets of his heart.

Soon Nellie came back, looking much relieved, and said, smiling:

"She seems much better this morning. How these little ones fill our heart with anxiety! I was up with her all night!"

Down went another note on Uncle Hiram's tablets. Awake all night with a sick baby, and up cooking breakfast in the morning! No wonder her youth and beauty have been chased away, poor, weary, over-worked mother!

"Who lives next door, Charley?" asked his uncle, after they had withdrawn from the breakfast-room.

"Why, I have a surprise for you—Henry lives there."

"Henry! Henry who?"

"Why, Henry Mayfield, my brother."

"No! Why, the last time I heard from him he was in St. Louis."

"Well, he is here now, and has been for five months. His wife's relatives are all here. And so he having been offered a position in the same firm with me, accepted it. We agreed to keep it as a pleasant little surprise for you."

"Well, I'm glad of it."

Just as Uncle Hiram said so the object of their conversation came in.

Henry Mayfield was not the jovial, merry fellow that Charley was, and not likely to be so generally a favorite. But there was an earnestness and determination in his bearing that inspired respect immediately.

"Come, uncle! Go in with me to see my wife and little ones," said Henry, after sitting and talking a while. "We have a half hour yet before business requires us, and then, if you like, we will go down town together."

Henry's parlor, into which he ushered his uncle, was furnished better than his brother's; but still it was not so prettily arranged—the "woman's touch" was not so plainly visible. Immediately Henry's wife came in to welcome her husband's uncle.

She was a bright little woman, not near so delicately featured as Nellie; but with a youthful, well-preserved look, an easy, quiet, peaceful air about her that made Uncle Hiram feel quite sure, if he stayed her guest a month, it would not put her out a bit. If any extra care or worry came, it was not to her. Some one else's mind and hands would have to overcome any difficulties.

"Henry, dear, have our boy brought in to see his uncle," she said.

"Ah, ha!" thought Uncle Hiram, "I see—the shoulders best able to bear the burden of family cares have it. Just as it should be!"

A few moments, and the baby-boy was brought in by the nurse and presented to the uncle. Baby, like his mother, looked happy and healthy.

When they were about leaving for down town, Uncle Hiram heard Henry say:

"Ada, please order the cook to delay dinner an hour to-day. I've business which will delay me so long."

"Very well," was the smiling reply.

"A cook and a nurse. That is why Ada looks so calm, healthy and happy. Just as it should be. Poor little, patient, over-worked Nellie! I wonder how it is, both having equal means. I must find out what the trouble is," said Uncle Hiram to himself.

Now, Charley was not a drinking man, his uncle felt sure. He knew, indeed, that when he first grew to manhood he had vowed never to touch rum in any form.

The dinner at Charley's was better, if possible, than the breakfast. It was a real treat to the old bachelor, whose life was spent in a boarding-house, to partake of such good, healthy fare as Nellie gave him. But always he felt like partaking of it under protest. Nellie—little, weary, tired Nellie—ever filled his mind and heart. At dinner Charley brought forth his ale, declaring it to be "the very best in town." And after dinner his cigars, "none finer to be found," he said.

Now, Uncle Hiram could partake of both without serious disadvantage either to his health or purse. But caring very little for either, he seldom used them. During the evening several gentlemen friends came in to call on Charley's uncle, and again ale and cigars were put out.

Uncle Hiram went to calculating. Ale, fifty cents, at least, that day; sometimes less, sometimes more. Make the average half as much—twenty-five cents. Cigars always as much; frequently, as that day, treble the amount. In a month it would sum up, to the very lowest, fifteen dollars. And who could tell how much more? What would not that money, worse than lost, have secured for Charley's wife and children?

Rest, health, peace and length of days, most likely.

Now, Uncle Hiram knew well enough how it was Charley did not have things beautiful without and around his premises, and why Nellie's weary mind and tired hands could not have help and rest.

But, next, he must find out how it was that with Henry things were so very different.

The following day Uncle Hiram dined with Henry. Everything was excellent and well cooked; and Ada sat at the head of the table, with an easy, quiet grace, which perfectly relieved Uncle Hiram's mind from any care for her. He knew very well Ada's husband sought in every way to relieve her of all unnecessary care and anxiety. After dinner came tea and coffee—nothing more. When they retired from the table Henry said:

"Uncle, would you like a cigar or pipe? I'll get you one in a few moments, if you say so."

"And will you join me?" asked his uncle.

"I do not use either. I care not for the weed, and think it better not to cultivate a taste," answered Henry.

"You are right, my boy—and how about wine or ale?"

"Nothing of the kind, uncle."

"Total abstinence, is it, Henry?"

"Yes, sir."

"I knew you were a temperate man, as is Charley. But he takes his ale, I notice," said Uncle Hiram.

"Yes, I wish he did not; a man has no idea how such little things, as he thinks them, draw upon his purse."

"I know, I know!" said Uncle Hiram. And he no longer wondered at the difference in Charley's and Henry's style of living. And so he had a good talk with Charley, and showed him how Henry, with the same salary, could keep two servants and beautify his home, and he not be able "to keep his head above water," to use his own expression.

"Yes, my boy, the cause is just this—the difference between temperance and total abstinence. You'll try it now, will you not, for your wife's sake?" said Uncle Hiram.

"Indeed I will, sir, and with many thanks to you for opening my eyes," answered Charley, who really loved his wife, but was thoughtless, and never for a moment had considered himself at all responsible for Nellie's failing health, strength and beauty.

When Uncle Hiram's next visit was made, he saw, before he entered the house, that Charley had kept his word. And when Nellie's joyous greeting was sounding in his ear he knew then that all was "just as it should be" with Nellie, as well as Ada. And the grateful little wife knew to whom she was indebted for the happy change, and blessed Uncle Hiram for it.