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