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AFTER A SHADOW, AND OTHER STORIES.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
I. AFTER A SHADOW.
II. IN THE WAY OF TEMPTATION.
III. ANDY LOVELL.
IV. A MYSTERY EXPLAINED.
V. WHAT CAN I DO?
VI. ON GUARD.
VII. A VISIT WITH THE DOCTOR.
VIII. HADN'T TIME FOR TROUBLE.
IX. A GOOD NAME.
X. LITTLE LIZZIE.
XI. ALICE AND THE PIGEON.
XII. DRESSED FOR A PARTY.
XIII. COFFEE VS. BRANDY.
XIV. AMY'S QUESTION.
XV. AN ANGEL IN DISGUISE.
XVI. WHICH WAS MOST THE LADY?
XVII. OTHER PEOPLE'S EYES.
AFTER A SHADOW,
AND OTHER STORIES.
AFTER A SHADOW.
"ARTY! Arty!" called Mrs. Mayflower, from the window, one bright
June morning. "Arty, darling! What is the child after? Just look at
him, Mr. Mayflower!"
I leaned from the window, in pleasant excitement, to see what new
and wonderful performance had been attempted by my little prodigy--my
first born--my year old bud of beauty, the folded leaves in whose
bosom were just beginning to loosen themselves, and send out upon
the air sweet intimations of an abounding fragrance. He had escaped
from his nurse, and was running off in the clear sunshine, the slant
rays of which threw a long shadow before him.
"Arty, darling!" His mother's voice flew along and past his ear,
kissing it in gentle remonstrance as it went by. But baby was in
eager pursuit of something, and the call, if heard, was unheeded.
His eyes were opening world-ward, and every new
phenomenon--commonplace and unheeded by us--that addressed itself to
his senses, became a wonder and a delight. Some new object was
drawing him away from the loving heart and protecting arm.
"Run after him, Mr. Mayflower!" said my wife, with a touch of
anxiety in her voice. "He might fall and hurt himself."
I did not require a second intimation as to my duty in the case.
Only a moment or two elapsed before I was on the pavement, and
making rapid approaches towards my truant boy.
"What is it, darling? What is Arty running after?" I said, as I laid
my hand on his arm, and checked his eager speed. He struggled a
moment, and then stood still, stooping forward for something on the
"O, papa see!" There was a disappointed and puzzled look in his face
as he lifted his eyes to mine. He failed to secure the object of his
"What is it, sweet?" My eyes followed his as they turned upon the
He stooped again, and caught at something; and again looked up in a
perplexed, half-wondering way.
"Why, Arty!" I exclaimed, catching him up in my arms. "It's only
your shadow! Foolish child!" And I ran back to Mrs. Mayflower, with
my baby-boy held close against my heart.
"After a shadow!" said I, shaking my head, a little soberly, as I
resigned Arty to his mother. "So life begins--and so it ends! Poor
Mrs. Mayflower laughed out right merrily.
"After a shadow! Why, darling!" And she kissed and hugged him in
"So life begins--so it ends," I repeated to myself, as I left the
house, and walked towards my store. "Always in pursuit of shadows!
We lose to-day's substantial good for shadowy phantoms that keep our
eyes ever in advance, and our feet ever hurrying forward. No
pause--no ease--no full enjoyment of _now_. O, deluded heart!--ever
bartering away substance for shadow!"
I grow philosophic sometimes. Thought will, now and then, take up a
passing incident, and extract the moral. But how little the wiser
are we for moralizing! we look into the mirror of truth, and see
ourselves--then turn away, and forget what manner of men we are.
Better for us if it were not so; if we remembered the image that
held our vision.
The shadow lesson was forgotten by the time I reached my store, and
thought entered into business with its usual ardor. I buried myself,
amid letters, invoices, accounts, samples, schemes for gain, and
calculations of profit. The regular, orderly progression of a fair
and well-established business was too slow for my outreaching
desires. I must drive onward at a higher speed, and reach the goal
of wealth by a quicker way. So my daily routine was disturbed by
impatient aspirations. Instead of entering, in a calm
self-possession of every faculty, into the day's appropriate work,
and finding, in its right performance, the tranquil state that ever
comes as the reward of right-doing in the right place, I spent the
larger part of this day in the perpetration of a plan for increasing
my gains beyond, anything heretofore achieved.
"Mr. Mayflower," said one of the clerks, coming back to where I sat
at my private desk, busy over my plan, "we have a new man in from
the West; a Mr. B----, from Alton. He wants to make a bill of a
thousand dollars. Do you know anything about him?"
Now, even this interruption annoyed me. What was a new customer and
a bill of a thousand dollars to me just at that moment of time? I
saw tens of thousands in prospective.
"Mr. B----, of Alton?" said I, affecting an effort of memory. "Does he
look like a fair man?"
"I don't recall him. Mr. B----? Hum-m-m. He impresses you favorably,
"Yes, sir; but it may be prudent to send and get a report."
"I'll see to that, Edward," said I. "Sell him what he wants. If
everything is not on the square, I'll give you the word in time.
It's all right, I've no doubt."
"He's made a bill at Kline & Co.'s, and wants his goods sent there
to be packed," said my clerk.
"Ah, indeed! Let him have what he wants, Edward. If Kline & Co. sell
him, we needn't hesitate."
And turning to my desk, my plans, and my calculations, I forgot all
about Mr. B----, and the trifling bill of a thousand dollars that he
proposed buying. How clear the way looked ahead! As thought created
the means of successful adventure, and I saw myself moving forward
and grasping results, the whole circle of life took a quicker
motion, and my mind rose into a pleasant enthusiasm. Then I grew
impatient for the initiatory steps that were to come, and felt as if
the to-morrow, in which they must be taken, would never appear. A
day seemed like a week or a month.
Six o'clock found me in not a very satisfactory state of mind. The
ardor of my calculations had commenced abating. Certain elements,
not seen and considered in the outset, were beginning to assume
shape and consequence, and to modify, in many essential particulars,
the grand result towards which I had been looking with so much
pleasure. Shadowy and indistinct became the landscape, which seemed
a little while before so fair and inviting. A cloud settled down
upon it here, and a cloud there, breaking up its unity, and
destroying much of its fair proportion. I was no longer mounting up,
and moving forwards on the light wing of a castle-building
imagination, but down upon the hard, rough ground, coming back into
the consciousness that all progression, to be sure, must be slow and
I had the afternoon paper in my hands, and was running my eyes up
and down the columns, not reading, but, in a half-absent way, trying
to find something of sufficient interest to claim attention, when,
among the money and business items, I came upon a paragraph that
sent the declining thermometer of my feelings away down towards the
chill of zero. It touched, in the most vital part, my scheme of
gain; and the shrinking bubble burst.
"Have the goods sold to that new customer from Alton been
delivered?" I asked, as the real interest of my wasted day loomed up
into sudden importance.
"Yes, sir," was answered by one of my clerks; "they were sent to
Kline & Co.'s immediately. Mr. B----said they were packing up his
goods, which were to be shipped to-day."
"He's a safe man, I should think. Kline & Co. sell him." My voice
betrayed the doubt that came stealing over me like a chilly air.
"They sell him only for cash," said my clerk. "I saw one of their
young men this afternoon, and asked after Mr. B----'s standing. He
didn't know anything about him; said B----was a new man, who bought a
moderate cash bill, but was sending in large quantities of goods to
be packed--five or six times beyond the amount of his purchases with
"Is that so!" I exclaimed, rising to my feet, all awake now to the
real things which I had permitted a shadow to obscure.
"Just what he told me," answered my clerk.
"It has a bad look," said I. "How large a bill did he make with us?"
The sales book was referred to. "Seventeen hundred dollars," replied
"What! I thought he was to buy only to the amount of a thousand
dollars?" I returned, in surprise and dismay.
"You seemed so easy about him, sir," replied the clerk, "that I
encouraged him to buy; and the bill ran up more heavily than I was
aware until the footing gave exact figures."
I drew out my watch. It was close on to half past six.
"I think, Edward," said I, "that you'd better step round to Kline &
Co.'s, and ask if they've shipped B----'s goods yet. If not, we'll
request them to delay long enough in the morning to give us time to
sift the matter. If B----'s after a swindling game, we'll take a short
course, and save our goods."
"It's too late," answered my clerk. "B----called a little after one
o'clock, and gave notes for the amount of his bill. He was to leave
in the five o'clock line for Boston."
I turned my face a little aside, so that Edward might not see all
the anxiety that was pictured there.
"You look very sober, Mr. Mayflower," said my good wife, gazing at
me with eyes a little shaded by concern, as I sat with Arty's head
leaning against my bosom that evening; "as sober as baby looked this
morning, after his fruitless shadow chase."
"And for the same reason," said I, endeavoring to speak calmly and
"Why, Mr. Mayflower!" Her face betrayed a rising anxiety. My assumed
calmness and firmness did not wholly disguise the troubled feelings
that lay, oppressively, about my heart.
"For the same reason," I repeated, steadying my voice, and trying to
speak bravely. "I have been chasing a shadow all day; a mere phantom
scheme of profit; and at night-fall I not only lose my shadow, but
find my feet far off from the right path, and bemired. I called Arty
a foolish child this morning. I laughed at his mistake. But, instead
of accepting the lesson it should have conveyed, I went forth and
wearied myself with shadow-hunting all day."
Mrs. Mayflower sighed gently. Her soft eyes drooped away from my
face, and rested for some moments on the floor.
"I am afraid we are all, more or less, in pursuit of shadows," she
said,--"of the unreal things, projected by thought on the canvas of a
too creative imagination. It is so with me; and I sigh, daily, over
some disappointment. Alas! if this were all. Too often both the
shadow-good and the real-good of to-day are lost. When night falls
our phantom good is dispersed, and we sigh for the real good we
might have enjoyed."
"Shall we never grow wiser?" I asked.
"We shall never grow happier unless we do," answered Mrs. Mayflower.
"Happiness!" I returned, as thought began to rise into clearer
perception; "is it not the shadow after which we are all chasing,
with such a blind and headlong speed?"
"Happiness is no shadow. It is a real thing," said Mrs. Mayflower.
"It does not project itself in advance of us; but exists in the
actual and the now, if it exists at all. We cannot catch it by
pursuit; that is only a cheating counterfeit, in guilt and tinsel,
which dazzles our eyes in the ever receding future. No; happiness is
a state of life; and it comes only to those who do each day's work
peaceful self-forgetfulness, and a calm trust in the Giver of all
good for the blessing that lies stored for each one prepared to
receive it in every hour of the coming time."
"Who so does each day's work in a peaceful self-forgetfulness and
patient trust in God?" I said, turning my eyes away from the now
tranquil face of Mrs. Mayflower.
"Few, if any, I fear," she answered; "and few, if any, are happy.
The common duties and common things of our to-days look so plain and
homely in their ungilded actualities, that we turn our thought and
interest away from them, and create ideal forms of use and beauty,
into which we can never enter with conscious life. We are always
losing the happiness of our to-days; and our to-morrows never come."
I sighed my response, and sat for a long time silent. When the tea
bell interrupted me from my reverie, Arty lay fast asleep on my
bosom. As I kissed him on his way to his mother's arms, I said,--
"Dear baby! may it be your first and last pursuit of a shadow."
"No--no! Not yet, my sweet one!" answered Mrs. Mayflower, hugging him
to her heart. "Not yet. We cannot spare you from our world of
IN THE WAY OF TEMPTATION.
MARTIN GREEN was a young man of good habits and a good conceit of
himself. He had listened, often and again, with as much patience as
he could assume, to warning and suggestion touching the dangers that
beset the feet of those who go out into this wicked world, and
become subject to its legion of temptations. All these warnings and
suggestions he considered as so many words wasted when offered to
"I'm in no danger," he would sometimes answer to relative or friend,
who ventured a remonstrance against certain associations, or
cautioned him about visiting certain places.
"If I wish to play a game of billiards, I will go to a billiard
saloon," was the firm position he assumed. "Is there any harm in
billiards? I can't help it if bad men play at billiards, and
congregate in billiard saloons. Bad men may be found anywhere and
everywhere; on the street, in stores, at all public places, even in
church. Shall I stay away from church because bad men are there?"
This last argument Martin Green considered unanswerable. Then he
"If I want a plate of oysters, I'll go to a refectory, and I'll take
a glass of ale with my oysters, if it so pleases me. What harm, I
would like to know? Danger of getting into bad company, you say?
Hum-m! Complimentary to your humble servant! But I'm not the kind to
which dirt sticks."
So, confident of his own power to stand safely in the midst of
temptation, and ignorant of its thousand insidious approaches,
Martin Green, at the age of twenty-one, came and went as he pleased,
mingling with the evil and the good, and seeing life under
circumstances of great danger to the pure and innocent. But he felt
strong and safe, confident of neither stumbling nor falling. All
around him he saw young men yielding to the pressure of temptation
and stepping aside into evil ways; but they were weak and vicious,
while he stood firm-footed on the rock of virtue!
It happened, very naturally, as Green was a bright, social young
man, that he made acquaintances with other young men, who were
frequently met in billiard saloons, theatre lobbies, and eating
houses. Some of these he did not understand quite as well as he
imagined. The vicious, who have ends to gain, know how to cloak
themselves, and easily deceive persons of Green's character. Among,
these acquaintances was a handsome, gentlemanly, affable young man,
named Bland, who gradually intruded himself into his confidence.
Bland never drank to excess, and never seemed inclined to sensual
indulgences. He had, moreover, a way of moralizing that completely
veiled his true quality from the not very penetrating Martin Green,
whose shrewdness and knowledge of character were far less acute than
he, in his self-conceit, imagined.
One evening, instead of going with his sister to the house of a
friend, where a select company of highly-intelligent ladies and
gentleman were to meet, and pass an evening together, Martin excused
himself under the pretence of an engagement, and lounged away to an
eating and drinking saloon, there to spend an hour in smoking,
reading the newspapers, and enjoying a glass of ale, the desire for
which was fast growing into a habit. Strong and safe as he imagined
himself, the very fact of preferring the atmosphere of a drinking or
billiard saloon to that in which refined and intellectual people
breathe, showed that he was weak and in danger.
He was sitting with a cigar in his mouth, and a glass of ale beside
him, reading with the air of a man who felt entirely satisfied with
himself, and rather proud than ashamed of his position and
surroundings, when his pleasant friend, Mr. Bland, crossed the room,
and, reaching out his hand, said, with his smiling, hearty manner,--
"How are you, my friend? What's the news to-day?" And he drew a
chair to the table, calling at the same time to a waiter for a glass
"I never drink anything stronger than ale," he added, in a
confidential way, not waiting for Green to answer his first remark.
"Liquors are so drugged nowadays, that you never know what poison
you are taking; besides, tippling is a bad habit, and sets a
questionable example. We must, you know, have some regard to the
effect of our conduct on weaker people. Man is an imitative animal.
By the way, did you see Booth's Cardinal Wolsey?"
"A splendid piece of acting,--was it not? You remember, after the
cardinal's fall, that noble passage to which he gives utterance. It
has been running through my mind ever since:--"'Mark but my fall,
and that that ruined me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition:
By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by't?
Love thyself last: Cherish those hearts that hate thee:
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues; be just, and fear not.
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st, O Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr.'
"'Love thyself last.--Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy
country's, thy God's, and truth's.' Could a man's whole duty in life
be expressed in fewer words, or said more grandly? I think not."
And so he went on, charming the ears of Green, and inspiring him
with the belief that he was a person of the purest instincts and
noblest ends. While they talked, two young men, strangers to Green
came up, and were introduced by Bland as "My very particular
friends." Something about them did not at first impress Martin
favorably. But this impression soon wore off, they were so
intelligent and agreeable, Bland, after a little while, referred
again to the Cardinal Wolsey of Booth, and, drawing a copy of
Shakspeare's Henry VIII. from his pocket, remarked,--
"If it wasn't so public here, I'd like to read a few of the best
passages in Wolsey's part."
"Can't we get a private room?" said one of the two young men who had
joined Bland and Green. "There are plenty in the house. I'll see."
And away he went to the bar.
"Come," he said, returning in a few minutes; and the party followed
a waiter up stairs, and were shown into a small room, neatly
furnished, though smelling villanously of stale cigar smoke.
"This is cosy," was the approving remark of Bland, as they entered.
Hats and overcoats were laid aside, and they drew around a table
that stood in the centre of the room under the gaslight. A few
passages were read from Shakspeare, then drink was ordered by one of
the the party. The reading interspersed with critical comments, was
again resumed; but the reading soon gave way entire to the comments,
which, in a little while, passed from the text of Shakspeare to
actors, actresses, prima donnas, and ballet-dancers, the relative
merits of which were knowingly discussed for some time. In the midst
of this discussion, oysters, in two or three styles, and a smoking
dish of terrapin, ordered by a member of the company--which our young
friend Green did not know--were brought in, followed by a liberal
supply of wine and brandy. Bland expressed surprise, but accepted
the entertainment as quite agreeable to himself.
After the supper, cigars were introduced, and after the cigars,
cards. A few games were played for shilling stakes. Green, under the
influence of more liquor than his head could bear, and in the midst
of companions whose sphere he could not, in consequence, resist,
yielded in a new direction for him. Of gambling he had always
entertained a virtuous disapproval; yet, ere aware of the direction
in which he was drifting, he was staking money at cards, the sums
gradually increasing, until from shillings the ventures increased to
dollars. Sometimes he won, and sometimes he lost; the winnings
stimulating to new trials in the hope of further success, and the
losses stimulating to new trials in order to recover, if possible;
but, steadily, the tide, for all these little eddies of success,
bore him downwards, and losses increased from single dollars to
fives, and from fives to tens, his pleasant friend, Bland, supplying
whatever he wanted in the most disinterested way, until an aggregate
loss of nearly a hundred and fifty dollars sobered and appalled him.
The salary of Martin Green was only four hundred dollars, every cent
of which was expended as fast as earned. A loss of a hundred and
fifty dollars was, therefore, a serious and embarrassing matter.
"I'll call and see you to-morrow, when we can arrange this little
matter," said Mr. Bland, "on parting with Green at his own door. He
spoke pleasantly, but with something in his voice that chilled the
nerves of his victim. On the next day while Green stood at his desk,
trying to fix his mind upon his work, and do it correctly, his
"Martin, there's a young man in the store who has asked for you."
Green turned and saw the last man on the earth he desired to meet.
His pleasant friend of the evening before had called to "arrange
that little matter."
"Not too soon for you, I hope," remarked Bland, with his courteous,
yet now serious, smile, as he took the victim's hand.
"Yes, you _are_, too soon," was soberly answered.
The smile faded off of Bland's face.
"When will you arrange it?"
"In a few days."
"But I want the money to-day. It was a simple loan, you know."
"I am aware of that, but the amount is larger than I can manage at
once," said Green.
"Can I have a part to-day?"
"I'll do the best in my power."
"Very well. To-morrow, at this time, I will call. Make up the whole
sum if possible, for I want it badly."
"Do you know that young man?" asked Mr. Phillips, the employer of
Green, as the latter came back to his desk. The face of Mr. Phillips
was unusually serious.
"His name is Bland."
"Why has he called to see you?" The eyes of Mr. Phillips were fixed
intently on his clerk.
"He merely dropped in. I have met him a few times in company."
"Don't you know his character?"
"I never heard a word against him," said Green.
"Why, Martin!" replied Mr. Phillips, "he has the reputation of being
one of the worst young men in our city; a base gambler's
stool-pigeon, some say."
"I am glad to know it, sir," Martin had the presence of mind, in the
painful confusion that overwhelmed him, to say, "and shall treat him
accordingly." He went back to his desk, and resumed his work.
It is the easiest thing in the world to go to astray, but always
difficult to return, Martin Green was astray, but how was he to get
into the right path again? A barrier that seemed impassable was now
lying across the way over which he had passed, a little while
before, with lightest footsteps. Alone and unaided, he could not
safely get back. The evil spirits that lure a man from virtue never
counsel aright when to seek to return. They magnify the perils that
beset the road by which alone is safety, and suggest other ways that
lead into labyrinths of evil from which escape is sometimes
impossible. These spirits were now at the ear of our unhappy young
friend, suggesting methods of relief in his embarrassing position.
If Bland were indeed such a character as Mr. Phillips had
represented him, it would be ruin, in his employer's estimation, to
have him call again and again for his debt. But how was he to
liquidate that debt? There was nothing due him on account of salary,
and there was not a friend or acquaintance to whom he could apply
with any hope of borrowing.
"Man's extremity is the devil's opportunity." It was so in the
present case, Green had a number of collections to make on that day,
and his evil counsellors suggested his holding back the return of
two of these, amounting to his indebtedness, and say that the
parties were not yet ready to settle their bills. This would enable
him to get rid of Bland, and gain time. So, acting upon the bad
suggestion, he made up his return of collections, omitting the two
accounts to which we have referred.
Now it so happened that one of the persons against whom these
accounts stood, met Mr. Phillips as he was returning from dinner in
the afternoon, and said to him,--
"I settled that bill of yours to-day."
"That's right. I wish all my customers were as punctual," answered
"I gave your young man a check for a hundred and five dollars."
And the two men passed their respective ways.
On Mr. Phillips's return to his store, Martin rendered his account
of collections, and, to the surprise of his employer, omitted the
one in regard to which he had just been notified.
"Is this all?" he asked, in a tone that sent a thrill of alarm to
the guilty heart of his clerk.
"Yes, sir," was the not clearly outspoken answer.
"Didn't Garland pay?"
"N-n-o, sir!" The suddenness of this question so confounded Martin,
that he could not answer without a betraying hesitation.
"Martin!" Astonishment, rebuke, and accusation were in the voice of
Mr. Phillips as he pronounced his clerk's name. Martin's face
flushed deeply, and then grew very pale. He stood the image of guilt
and fear for some moments, then, drawing out his pocket book, he
brought therefrom a small roll of bank bills, and a memorandum slip
"I made these collections also." And he gave the money and
memorandum to Mr. Phillips.
"A hundred and fifty dollars withheld! Martin! Martin! what _does_
"Heaven is my witness, sir," answered the young man, with quivering
lips, "that I have never wronged you out of a dollar, and had no
intention of wronging you now. But I am in a fearful strait. My feet
have become suddenly mired, and this was a desperate struggle for
extrication--a temporary expedient only, not a premeditated wrong
"Sit down, Martin," said Mr. Phillips, in a grave, but not severe,
tone of voice. "Let me understand the case from first to last.
Conceal nothing, if you wish to have me for a friend."
Thus enjoined, Martin told his humiliating story.
"If you had not gone into the way of temptation, the betrayer had
not found you," was the remark of Mr. Phillips, when the young man
ended his confession. "Do you frequent these eating and drinking
"I go occasionally, sir."
"They are neither safe nor reputable, Martin. A young man who
frequents them must have the fine tone of his manhood dimmed. There
is an atmosphere of impurity about these places. Have you a younger
"Would you think it good for him, as he emerged from youth to
manhood, to visit refectories and billiard saloons?"
"No, sir, I would do all in my power to prevent it."
"There's danger in them, sir."
"And, knowing this, you went into the way of danger, and have
Martin dropped his eyes to the floor in confusion.
"Bland is a stool-pigeon and you were betrayed."
"What am I to do?" asked the troubled young man. "I am in debt to
"He will be here to-morrow."
"I will have a policeman ready to receive him."
"O, no, no, Sir. Pray don't do that!" answered Martin, with a
"Why not?" demanded Mr. Phillips.
"It will ruin me."
"Bland will denounce me."
"I shall be exposed to the policeman."
"An evil, but a mild one, compared with that to which you were
rushing in order to disentangle yourself. I must have my way, sir.
This matter has assumed a serious aspect. You are in my power, and
On the next day, punctual to the hour, Bland called.
"This is your man," said Mr. Phillips to his clerk. "Ask him into
the counting-room." Bland, thus invited, walked back. As he entered,
Mr. Phillips said,--
"My clerk owes you a hundred and fifty dollars, I understand."
"Yes, sir;" and the villain bowed.
"Make him out a receipt," said Mr. Phillips.
"When I receive the money," was coldly and resolutely answered.
Martin glanced sideways at the face of Bland, and the sudden change
in its expression chilled him. The mild, pleasant, virtuous aspect
he could so well assume was gone, and he looked more like a fiend
than a man. In pictures he had seen eyes such as now gleamed on Mr.
Phillips, but never in a living face before.
The officer, who had been sitting with a newspaper in his hand, now
gave his paper a quick rattle as he threw it aside, and, coming
forward, stood beside Mr. Phillips, and looked steadily at the face
of Bland, over which passed another change: it was less assured, but
not less malignant.
Mr. Phillips took out his pocket-book, and, laying a twenty-dollar
bill on the desk by which they were standing, said,--
"Take this and sign a receipt."
"No, sir!" was given with determined emphasis. "I am not to be
robbed in this way!"
"Ned," the officer now spoke, "take my advice, and sign a receipt."
"It's a cursed swindle!" exclaimed the baffled villain.
"We will dispense with hard names, sir!" The officer addressed him
sternly. "Either take the money, or go. This is not a meeting for
parley. I understand you and your operations."
A few moments Bland stood, with an irresolute air; then, clutching
desperately at a pen, he dashed off a receipt, and was reaching for
the money, when Mr. Phillips drew it back, saying,--
"Wait a moment, until I examine the receipt." He read it over, and
then, pushing it towards Bland, said,--
"Write 'In full of all demands.'" A growl was the oral response.
Bland took the pen again, and wrote as directed.
"Take my advice, young man, and adopt a safer and more honorable
business," said Mr. Phillips, as he gave him the twenty-dollar bill.
"Keep your advice for them that ask it!" was flung back in his face.
A look of hate and revenge burned in the fellow's eyes. After
glaring at Mr. Phillips and Martin in a threatening way for several
moments, he left more hurriedly than he had entered.
"And take my advice," said the officer, laying his hand on Martin's
arm,--he spoke in a warning tone,--"and keep out of that man's way.
He'll never forgive you. I know him and his prowling gang, and they
are a set of as hardened and dangerous villains as can be found in
the city. You are 'spotted' by them from this day, and they number a
dozen at least. So, if you would be safe, avoid their haunts. Give
drinking saloons and billiard rooms a wide berth. One experience
like this should last you a life-time."
Thus Martin escaped from his dangerous entanglement, but never again
to hold the unwavering confidence of his employer. Mr. Phillips
pitied, but could not trust him fully. A year afterwards came
troublesome times, losses in business, and depression in trade.
Every man had to retrench. Thousands of clerks lost their places,
and anxiety and distress were on every hand. Mr. Phillips, like
others, had to reduce expenses, and, in reducing, the lot to go fell
upon Martin Green. He had been very circumspect, had kept away from
the old places where danger lurked, had devoted himself with renewed
assiduity to his employer's interests; but, for all this, doubts
were forever arising in the mind of Mr. Phillips, and when the
question, "Who shall go?" came up, the decision was against Martin.
We pity him, but cannot blame his employer.
ALL the village was getting out with Andy Lovell, the shoemaker; and
yet Andy Lovell's shoes fitted so neatly, and wore so long, that the
village people could ill afford to break with him. The work made by
Tompkins was strong enough, but Tompkins was no artist in leather.
Lyon's fit was good, and his shoes neat in appearance, but they had
no wear in them. So Andy Lovell had the run of work, and in a few
years laid by enough to make him feel independent. Now this feeling
of independence is differently based with different men. Some must
have hundreds of thousands of dollars for it to rest upon, while
others find tens of thousands sufficient. A few drop below the tens,
and count by units. Of this last number was Andy Lovell, the
When Andy opened his shop and set up business for himself, he was
twenty-four years of age. Previous to that time he had worked as
journeyman, earning good wages, and spending as fast as he earned,
for he had no particular love of money, nor was he ambitious to rise
and make an appearance in the world. But it happened with Andy as
with most young men he fell in love; and as the village beauty was
compliant, betrothal followed. From this time he was changed in many
things, but most of all in his regard for money. From a free-handed
young man, he became prudent and saving, and in a single year laid
by enough to warrant setting up business for himself. The wedding
followed soon after.
The possession of a wife and children gives to most men broader
views of life. They look with more earnestness into the future, and
calculate more narrowly the chances of success. In the ten years
that followed Andy Lovell's marriage no one could have given more
attention to business, or devoted more thought and care to the
pleasure of customers. He was ambitious to lay up money for his
wife's and children's sake, as well as to secure for himself the
means of rest from labor in his more advancing years. The
consequence was, that Andy served his neighbors, in his vocation, to
their highest satisfaction. He was useful, contented, and thrifty.
A sad thing happened to Andy and his wife after this. Scarlet fever
raged in the village one winter, sweeping many little ones into the
grave. Of their three children, two were taken; and the third was
spared, only to droop, like a frost-touched plant, and die ere the
summer came. From that time, all of Andy Lovell's customers noted a
change in the man; and no wonder. Andy had loved these children
deeply. His thought had all the while been running into the future,
and building castles for them to dwell in. Now the future was as
nothing to him; and so his heart beat feebly in the present. He had
already accumulated enough for himself and his wife to live on for
the rest of their days; and, if no more children came, what motive
was there for a man of his views and temperament to devote himself,
with the old ardor, to business?
So the change noticed by his customers continued. He was less
anxious to accommodate; disappointed them oftener; and grew
impatient under complaint or remonstrance. Customers, getting
discouraged or offended, dropped away, but it gave Andy no concern.
He had, no longer, any heart in his business; and worked in it more
like an automaton than a live human being.
At last, Andy suddenly made up his mind to shut up his shop, and
retire from business. He had saved enough to live on--why should he
go on any longer in this halting, miserable way--a public servant,
yet pleasing nobody?
Mrs. Lovell hardly knew what to say in answer to her husband's
suddenly formed resolution. It was as he alleged; they had laid up
sufficient; to make them comfortable for the rest of their lives;
and, sure enough, why should Andy worry himself any longer with the
shop? As far as her poor reason went, Mrs. Lovell had nothing to
oppose; but all her instincts were on the other side--she could not
feel that it would be right.
But Andy, when he made up his mind to a thing, was what people call
hard-headed. His "I won't stand it any longer," meant more than this
common form of speech on the lips of ordinary men. So he gave it out
that he should quit business; and it was soon all over the village.
Of course Tompkins and Lyon were well enough pleased, but there were
a great many who heard of the shoemaker's determination with regret.
In the face of all difficulties and annoyances, they had continued
to depend on him for foot garniture, and were now haunted by
unpleasant images of cramped toes, corns, bunyons, and all the
varied ill attendant on badly made and badly fitting shoes, boots,
and gaiters. The retirement of Andy, cross and unaccommodating as he
had become, was felt, in many homes, to be a public calamity.
"Don't think of such a thing, Mr. Lovell," said one.
"We can't do without you," asserted another.
"You'll not give up altogether," pleaded a third, almost coaxingly.
But Andy Lovell was tired of working without any heart in his work;
and more tired of the constant fret and worry attendant upon a
business in which his mind had ceased to feel interest. So he kept
to his resolution, and went on with his arrangements for closing the
"What are you going to do?" asked a neighbor.
"Do?" Andy looked, in some surprise, at his interrogator.
"Yes. What are you going to do? A man in good health, at your time
of life, can't be idle. Rust will eat him up."
"Rust?" Andy looked slightly bewildered.
"What's this?" asked the neighbor, taking something from Andy's
"An old knife," was the reply. "It dropped out of the window two or
three months ago and was lost. I picked it up this morning."
"It's in a sorry condition," said the neighbor. "Half eaten up with
rust, and good for nothing."
"And yet," replied the shoemaker, "there was better stuff in that
knife, before it was lost, than in any other knife in the shop."
"Better than in this?" And the neighbor lifted a clean, sharp-edged
knife from Andy's cutting-board.
"Worth two of it."
"Which knife is oldest?" asked the neighbor.
"I bought them at the same time."
"And this has been in constant use?"
"While the other lay idle, and exposed to the rains and dews?"
"And so has become rusted and good for nothing. Andy, my friend,
just so rusted, and good for nothing as a man, are you in danger of
becoming. Don't quit business; don't fall out of your place; don't
pass from useful work into self-corroding idleness, You'll be
The pertinence of this illustration struck the mind of Andy Lovell,
and set him to thinking; and the more he thought, the more disturbed
became his mental state. He had, as we have see, no longer any heart
in his business. All that he desired was obtained--enough to live on
comfortably; why, then, should he trouble himself with
hard-to-please and ill-natured customers? This was one side of the
The rusty knife suggested the other side. So there was conflict in
his mind; but only a disturbing conflict. Reason acted too feebly on
the side of these new-coming convictions. A desire to be at once,
and to escape daily work and daily troubles, was stronger than any
cold judgement of the case.
"I'll find something to do," he said, within himself, and so pushed
aside unpleasantly intruding thoughts. But Mrs. Lovell did not fail
to observe, that since, her husband's determination to go out of
business, he had become more irritable than before, and less at ease
in every way.
The closing day came at last. Andy Lovell shut the blinds before the
windows of his shop, at night-fall, saying, as he did so, but in a
half-hearted, depressed kind of a way, "For the last time;" and then
going inside, sat down in front of the counter, feeling strangely
and ill at ease. The future looked very blank. There was nothing in
it to strive for, to hope for, to live for. Andy was no philosopher.
He could not reason from any deep knowledge of human nature. His
life had been merely sensational, touching scarcely the confines of
interior thought. Now he felt that he was getting adrift, but could
not understand the why and the wherefore.
As the twilight deepened, his mental obscurity deepened also. He was
still sitting in front of his counter, when a form darkened his open
door. It was the postman, with a letter for Andy's wife. Then he
closed the door, saying in his thought, as he had said when closing
the shutters, "For the last time," and went back into the house with
the letter in his hand. It was sealed with black. Mrs. Lovell looked
frightened as she noticed this sign of death. The contents were soon
known. An only sister, a widow, had died suddenly, and this letter
announced the fact. She left three young children, two girls and a
boy. These, the letter stated, had been dispensed among the late
husband's relatives; and there was a sentence or two expressing a
regret that they should be separated from each other.
Mrs. Lovell was deeply afflicted by this news, and abandoned
herself, for a while, to excessive grief. Her husband had no
consolation to offer, and so remained, for the evening, silent and
thoughtful. Andy Lovell did not sleep well that night. Certain
things were suggested to his mind, and dwelt upon, in spite of many
efforts to thrust them aside. Mrs. Lovell was wakeful also, as was
evident to her husband from her occasional sighs, sobs, and restless
movements; but no words passed between them. Both rose earlier than
Had Andy Lovell forgotten that he opened his shop door, and put back
the shutters, as usual? Was this mere habit-work, to be corrected
when he bethought himself of what he had done? Judging from his
sober face and deliberate manner--no. His air was not that of a man
Absorbed in her grief, and troubled with thoughts of her sister's
oprhaned children, Mrs. Lovell did not, at first, regard the opening
of her husband's shop as anything unusual. But, the truth flashing
across her mind, she went in where Lovell stood at his old place by
the cutting-board, on which was laid a side of morocco, and said,--
"Why, Andy! I thought you had shut up the shop for good and all."
"I thought so last night, but I've changed my mind," was the
low-spoken but decided answer.
"Changed your mind! Why?"
"I don't know what you may think about it, Sally; but my mind's made
up." And Andy squared round, and looked steadily into his wife's
face. "There's just one thing we've got to do; and it's no use
trying to run away from it. That letter didn't come for nothing. The
fact is, Sally, them children mustn't be separated. I've been
thinking about it all night, and it hurts me dreadfully."
"How can we help it? Mary's dead, and her husband's relations have
divided the children round. I've no doubt they will be well cared
for," said Mrs. Lovell.
She had been thinking as well as her husband, but not to so clear a
result. To bring three little children into her quiet home, and
accept years of care, of work, of anxiety, and responsibility, was
not a thing to be done on light consideration. She had turned from
the thought as soon as presented, and pushed it away from every
avenue through which it sought to find entrance. So she had passed
the wakeful night, trying to convince herself that her dead sister's
children would be happy and well cared for.
"If they are here, Sally, we can be certain that they are well cared
for," replied Andy.
"O, dear! I can never undertake the management of three children!"
said Mrs. Lovell, her countenance expressing the painful reluctance
Andy turned partly away from his wife, and bent over the
cutting-board. She saw, as he did so, an expression of countenance
that rebuked her.
"A matter like this should be well considered," remarked Mrs.
"That's true," answered her husband. "So take your time. They're
your flesh and blood, you know, and if they come here, you'll have
the largest share of trouble with them."
Mrs. Lovell went back into the house to think alone, while Andy
commenced cutting out work, his hands moving with the springs of a
readier will than had acted through them for a long time.
It took Mrs. Lovell three or four days to make up her mind to send
for the children, but the right decision came at last. All this
while Andy was busy in his shop--cheerfully at work, and treating the
customers, who, hearing that he had changed his mind, were pressing
in upon him with their orders, much after the pleasant fashion in
which he had treated them in years gone by. He knew that his wife
would send for the children; and after their arrival, he knew that
he would have increased expenses. So, there had come a spur to
action, quickening the blood in his veins; and he was at work once
more, with heart and purpose, a happier man, really, than he had
been for years.
Two or three weeks passed, and then the long silent dwelling of Andy
Lovell was filled with the voices of children. Two or three years
have passed since then. How is it with Andy? There is not a more
cheerful man in all the village, though he is in his shop early and
late. No more complaints from customers. Every one is promptly and
cheerfully served. He has the largest run of work, as of old; and
his income is sufficient not only to meet increased expenses, but to
leave a surplus at the end of every year. He is the bright, sharp
knife, always in use; not the idle blade, which had so narrowly
escaped, falling from the window, rusting to utter worthlessness in
the dew and rain.
A MYSTERY EXPLAINED.
"GOING to the Falls and to the White Mountains!"
"Yes, I'm off next week."
"How long will you be absent?"
"From ten days to two weeks."
"What will it cost?"
"I shall take a hundred dollars in my pocket-book! That will carry
"A hundred dollars! Where did you raise that sum? Who's the lender?
Tell him he can have another customer."
"I never borrow."
"Indeed! Then you've had a legacy."
"No, and never expect to have one. All my relations are poor."
"Then unravel the mystery. Say where the hundred dollars came from."
"The answer is easy. I saved it from my salary."
"I saved it during the last six months for just this purpose, and
now I am to have two weeks of pleasure and profit combined."
"I have given you the fact."
"What is your salary, pray?"
"Six hundred a year."
"So I thought. But you don't mean to say that in six months you have
saved one hundred dollars out of three hundred?"
"Yes; that is just what I mean to say."
"Preposterous. I get six hundred, and am in debt."
"Why no wonder?"
"If a man spends more than he receives, he will fall in debt."
"Of course he will. But on a salary of six hundred, how is it
possible for a man to keep out of debt?"
"By spending less than he receives."
"That is easily said."
"And as easily done. All that is wanted is prudent forethought,
integrity of purpose, and self-denial. He must take care of the
pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves."
"Trite and obsolete."
"True if trite; and never obsolete. It is as good doctrine to-day as
it was in poor Richard's time. Of that I can bear witness."
"I could never be a miser or a skinflint."
"Nor I. But I can refuse to waste my money in unconsidered trifles,
and so keep it for more important things; for a trip to Niagara and
the White Mountains, for instance."
The two young men who thus talked were clerks, each receiving the
salary already mentioned--six hundred dollars. One of them, named
Hamilton, understood the use of money; the other, named Hoffman,
practised the abuse of this important article. The consequence was,
that while Hamilton had a hundred dollars saved for a trip during
his summer vacation, Hoffman was in debt for more than two or three
times that amount.
The incredulous surprise expressed by Hoffman was sincere. He could
not understand the strange fact which had been announced. For an
instant it crossed his mind that Hamilton might only have advanced
his seeming impossible economy as a cover to dishonest practices.
But he pushed the thought away as wrong.
"Not much room for waste of money on a salary of six hundred a
year," answered Hoffman.
"There is always room for waste," said Hamilton. "A leak is a leak,
be it ever so small. The quart flagon will as surely waste its
precious contents through a fracture that loses only a drop at a
time, as the butt from which a constant stream is pouring. The fact
is, as things are in our day, whether flagon or butt, leakage is the
rule not the exception."
"I should like to know where the leak in my flagon is to be found,"
said Hoffman. "I think it would puzzle a finance committee to
"Shall I unravel for you the mystery?"
"You unravel it! What do you know of my affairs?"
"I have eyes."
"Do I waste my money?"
"Yes, if you have not saved as much as I have during the last six
months; and yes, if my eyes have given a true report."
"What have your eyes reported?"
"A system of waste, in trifles, that does not add anything
substantial to your happiness and certainly lays the foundation for
a vast amount of disquietude, and almost certain embarrassment in
money affairs, and consequent humiliations."
Hoffman shook his head gravely answering, "I can't see it."
"Would you like to see it?"
"O, certainly, if it exists."
"Well, suppose we go down into the matter of expenditures, item by
item, and make some use of the common rules of arithmetic as we go
along. Your salary, to start with, is six hundred dollars, and you
play the same as I do for boarding and washing, that is, four and a
half dollars per week, which gives the sum of two hundred and
thirty-four dollars a year. What do your clothes cost?"
"A hundred and fifty dollars will cover everything!"
"Then you have two hundred and sixteen dollars left. What becomes of
that large sum?"
Hoffman dropped his eyes and went to thinking. Yes, what had become
of these two hundred and sixteen dollars? Here was the whole thing
in a nutshell.
"Cigars," said Hamilton. "How many do you use in a day?"
"Not over three. But these are a part of considered expenses. I am
not going to do without cigars."
"I am only getting down to the items," answered the friend. "We must
find out where the money goes. Three cigars a day, and, on an
average, one to a friend, which makes four."
"Very well, say four."
"At six cents apiece."
Hamilton took a slip of paper and made a few figures.
"Four cigars a day at six cents each, cost twenty-four cents. Three
hundred and sixty-five by twenty-four gives eighty-seven dollars and
sixty cents, as the cost of your cigars for a year."
"O, no! That is impossible," returned Hoffman, quickly.
"There is the calculation. Look at it for yourself," replied
Hamilton, offering the slip of paper.
"True as I live!" ejaculated the other, in unfeigned surprise. "I
never dreamed of such a thing. Eighty-seven dollars. That will never
do in the world. I must cut this down."
"A simple matter of figures. I wonder you had not thought of
counting the cost. Now I do not smoke at all. It is a bad habit,
that injures the health, and makes us disagreeable to our friends,
to say nothing of the expense. So you see how natural the result,
that at the end of the year I should have eighty-seven dollars in
band, while you had puffed away an equal sum in smoke. So much for
the cigar account. I think you take a game of billiards now and
"Certainly I do. Billiards are innocent. I am very fond of the game,
and must have some recreation."
"Exactly so. The question now is, What do they cost?"
"Nothing to speak of. You can't make out a case here."
"We shall see. How often do you play?"
"Two or three times a week."
"Say twice a week."
"Very well. Let it be twice. A shilling a game must be paid for use
of the table?"
"Which comes from the loser's pocket. I, generally, make it a point
"But lose sometimes."
"Of course. The winning is rarely all on one side."
"One or two games a night?"
"Suppose we put down an average loss of three games in a week. Will
that be too high?"
"No. Call it three games a week."
"Or, as to expense. three shillings. Then, after the play, there
comes a glass of ale--or, it may be oysters."
"Will two shillings at week, taking one week with another, pay for
your ale and oysters?"
Hoffman did not answer until he had reflected for a few moments,
Then he said,--
"I'm afraid neither two nor four shillings will cover this item. We
must set it down at six."
"Which gives for billiards, ale and oysters, the sum of one dollar
and a shilling per week. Fifty-two by a dollar twelve-and-a-half,
and we have the sum of fifty-eight dollars and fifty cents. Rather a
serious item this, in the year's expense, where the income is only
six hundred dollars!"
Hoffman looked at his friend in a bewildered kind of way. This was
"How often do you go to the theatre and opera?" Hamilton went on
with his questions.
"Sometimes once a week. Sometimes twice or thrice, according to the
"And you take a lady now and then?"
"Particularly during the opera season?"
"Yes. I'm not so selfish as always to indulge in these pleasures
"Very well. Now for the cost. Sometimes the opera is one dollar. So
it costs two dollars when you take a lady."
"Which is not very often."
"Will fifty cents a week, averaging the year, meet this expense?"
After thinking for some time, Hoffman said yes, he thought that
fifty cents a week would be a fair appropriations.
"Which adds another item of twenty-six dollars a year to your
"But would you cut off everything?" objected Hoffman. "Is a man to
have no recreations, no amusements?"
"That is another question," coolly answered Hamilton. "Our present
business is to ascertain what has become of the two hundred and
sixteen dollars which remained of your salary after boarding and
clothing bills were paid. That is a handsome gold chain. What did it
"Within six months."
"So much more accounted for. Is that a diamond pin?"
Hoffman colored a little as he answered,--
"Not a very costly one. Merely a scarf-pin, as you. see. Small,
though brilliant. Always worth what I paid for it."
"Cost twenty-five or thirty dollars?"
"Shall I put that down as one of the year expenses?"
"Yes, you may do so."
"What about stage and car hire? Do you ride or walk to and from
"I ride, of course. You wouldn't expect me to walk nearly a mile
four times a day."
"I never ride, except in bad weather. The walk gives me just the
exercise I need. Every man, who is confined in a store or
counting-room during business hours, should walk at least four miles
a day. Taken in installments of one mile at a time, at good
intervals, there is surely no hardship in this exercise. Four rides,
at six-pence a ride and we have another item of twenty-five cents at
day. You go down town nearly every evening?"
"And ride both ways?
"A shilling more, or thirty seven and a half cents daily for car and
stage hire. Now for another little calculation. Three hundred days,
at three shillings a day. There it is."
And Hamilton reached a slip of paper to his friend.
"Impossible!" The latter actually started to his feet. "A hundred
and twelve dollars and fifty cents!"
"If you spend three shillings a day, you will spend that sum in a
year. Figures are inexorable."
Hoffman sat down again in troubled surprise, saying,
"Have you got to the end?"
"Not yet," replied his companion.
"Very well. Go on."
"I often notice you with candies, or other confections; and you are,
sometimes, quite free in sharing them with your friends. Burnt
almonds, sugar almonds, Jim Crow's candied fruits, macaroons, etc.
These are not to be had for nothing; and besides their cost they are
a positive injury to the stomach. You, of course, know to what
extent you indulge this weakness of appetite. Shall we say that it
costs an average of ten cents a day?"
"Add fruit, in and out of season, and call it fifteen cents,"
"Very well. For three hundred days this will give another large
"Anything more?" said Hoffman in a subdued, helpless kind of way,
like one lying prostrate from a sudden blow.
"I've seen you driving out occasionally; sometimes on Sunday. And,
by the way, I think you generally take an excursion on Sunday. over
to Staten Island, or to Hoboken, or up the river, or--but no matter
where; you go about and spend money on the Sabbath day. How much
does all this cost? A dollar a week? Seventy-five cents? Fifty
cents? We are after the exact figures as near as maybe. What does it
cost for drives and excursions, and their spice of refreshment?"
"Say thirty dollars a year."
"Thirty dollars, then, we will call it. And here let us close, in
order to review the ground over which we have been travelling. All
those various expenses, not one of which is for things essential to
health, comfort, or happiness, but rather for their destruction,
amount to the annual sum of four hundred and two dollars sixty
cents,--you can go over the figures for yourself. Add to this three
hundred and eighty-four dollars, the cost of boarding and clothing,
and you swell the aggregate to nearly eight hundred dollars; and
your salary is but six hundred!"
A long silence followed.
"I am amazed, confounded!" said Hoffman, resting his head between
his hands, as he leaned on the table at which they were sitting.
"And not only amazed and confounded," he went on, "but humiliated,
ashamed! Was I a blind fool that I did not see it myself? Had I
forgotten my multiplication table?"
"You are like hundreds--nay, thousands," replied the friend, "to whom
a sixpence, a shilling, or even a dollar spent daily has a very
insignificant look; and who never stop to think that sixpence a day
amounts to over twenty dollars in a year; a shilling a day to over
forty; and a dollar a day to three hundred and sixty-five. We cannot
waste our money in trifles, and yet have it to spend for substantial
benefits. The cigars you smoked in the past year; the games of
billiards you played; the ale and oysters, cakes, confections, and
fruit consumed; the rides in cars and stages; the drives and Sunday
excursions, crave only the briefest of pleasures, and left new and
less easily satisfied desires behind. It will not do, my friend, to
grant an easy indulgence to natural appetite and desire, for they
ever seek to be our masters. If we would be men--self-poised,
self-controlling, self-possessing men--we must let reason govern in
all our actions. We must be wise, prudent, just, and self-denying;
and from this rule of conduct will spring order, tranquillity of
mind, success, and true enjoyment. I think, Hoffman, that I am quite
as happy a man as you are; far happier, I am sure, at this moment;
and yet I have denied myself nearly all theses indulgences through
which you have exhausted your means and embarrassed yourself with
debt. Moreover, I have a hundred dollars clear of everything, with
which I shall take a long-desired excursion, while you will be
compelled, for lack of the very money which has been worse than
wasted, to remain a prisoner in the city. Pray, be counselled to a
different course in future."
"I would be knave or fool to need further incentive," said Hoffman,
with much bitterness. "At the rate I am going on, debt, humiliation,
and disgrace are before me. I may live up to my income without
actually wronging others--but not beyond it. As things are now going,
I am two hundred dollars worse off at the end of each year when than
I began, and, worse still, weaker as to moral purpose, while the
animal and sensual natures, from constant indulgence, have grown
stronger. I must break this thraldom now; for, a year hence, it may
be too late! Thank, you, my friend, for your plain talk. Thank you
for teaching me anew the multiplication table, I shall, assuredly,
not forget it again."
WHAT CAN I DO?
HE was a poor cripple--with fingers twisted out of all useful shape,
and lower limbs paralyzed so that he had to drag them after him
wearily when he moved through the short distances that limited his
sphere of locomotion--a poor, unhappy, murmuring, and, at times,
ill-natured cripple, eating the bread which a mother's hard labor
procured for him. For hours every fair day, during spring, summer,
and autumn, he might be seen in front of the little house where he
lived leaning upon the gate, or sitting on an old bench looking with
a sober face at the romping village children, or dreamily regarding
the passengers who moved with such strong limbs up and down the
street. How often, bitter envy stung the poor cripple's heart! How
often, as the thoughtless village children taunted him cruelly with
his misfortune, would he fling harsh maledictions after them. Many
pitied the poor cripple; many looked upon him with feelings of
disgust and repulsion; but few, if any, sought to do him good.
Not far from where the cripple lived was a man who had been
bedridden for years, and who was likely to remain so to the end of
his days. He was supported by the patient industry of a wife.
"If good works are the only passport to heaven," he said to a
neighbor one day, "I fear my chances will be small."
"'Well done, good and faithful servant,' is the language of
welcome," was replied; and the neighbor looked at the sick man in a
way that made him feel a little uncomfortable.
"I am sick and bedridden--what can I do?" he spoke, fretfully.
"When little is given, little is required. But if there be only a
single talent it must be improved."
"I have no talent," said the invalid.
"Are you sure of that?"
"What can I do? Look at me! No health, no strength, no power to rise
from this bed. A poor, helpless creature, burdening my wife. Better
for me, and for all, if I were in my grave."
"If that were so you would be in your grave. But God knows best.
There is something for you to do, or you would be no longer
permitted to live," said the neighbor.
The sick man shook his head.
"As I came along just now," continued the neighbor, "I stopped to
say a word to poor Tom Hicks, the cripple, as he stood swinging on
the gate before his mother's house, looking so unhappy that I pitied
him in my heart. 'What do you do with yourself all through these
long days, Tom?' I asked. 'Nothing,' he replied, moodily. 'Don't you
read sometimes?' I queried. 'Can't read,' was his sullen answer.
'Were you never at school?' I went on. 'No: how can I get to
school?' 'Why don't your mother teach you?' 'Because she can't read
herself,' replied Tom. 'It isn't too late to begin now,' said I,
encouragingly; 'suppose I were to find some one willing to teach
you, what would you say?' The poor lad's face brightened as if the
sunshine had fallen upon it; and he answered, 'I would say that
nothing could please me better.' I promised to find him a teacher;
and, as I promised, the thought of you, friend Croft, came into my
mind. Now, here is something that you can do; a good work in which
you can employ your one talent."
The sick man did not respond warmly to this proposition. He had been
so long a mere recipient of good offices,--had so long felt himself
the object towards which pity and service must tend,--that he had
nearly lost the relish for good deeds. Idle dependence had made him
"Give this poor cripple a lesson every day," went on the neighbor,
pressing home the subject, "and talk and read to him. Take him in
charge as one of God's children, who needs to be instructed and led
up to a higher life than the one he is now living. Is not this a
good and a great work? It is, my friend, one that God has brought to
your hand, and in the doing of which there will be great reward.
What can you do? Much! Think of that poor boy's weary life, and of
the sadder years that lie still before him. What will become of him
when his mother dies? The almshouse alone will open its doors for
the helpless one. But who can tell what resources may open before
him if stimulated by thought. Take him, then, and unlock the doors
of a mind that now sits in darkness, that sunlight may come in. To
you it will give a few hours of pleasant work each day; to him it
will be a life-long benefit. Will you do it?"
The sick man could not say "No," though in uttering that
half-extorted assent he manifested no warm interest in the case of
poor Tom Hicks.
On the next day the cripple came to the sick man, and received his
first lesson; and every day, at an appointed hour, he was in Mr.
Croft's room, eager for the instruction he received. Quickly he
mastered the alphabet, and as quickly learned to construct small
words, preparatory to combining them in a reading lesson.
After the first three or four days the sick man, who, had undertaken
this work with reluctance, began to find his heart going down into
it. Tom was so ready a scholar, so interested, and so grateful, that
Mr. Croft found the task of instructing him a real pleasure. The
neighbor, who had suggested this useful employment of the invalid's
time, looked in now and then to see how matters were progressing,
and to speak words of encouragement.
Poor Tom was seen less frequently than before hanging on the gate,
or sitting idly on the bench before his mother's dwelling; and when
you did find him there, as of old, you saw a different expression on
his face. Soon the children, who had only looked at him, half in
fear, from a distance, or come closer to the gate where he stood
gazing with his strange eyes out into the street, in order to worry
him, began to have a different feelings for the cripple, and one and
another stopped occasionally to speak with him; for Tom no longer
made queer faces, or looked at them wickedly, as if he would harm
them if in his power, nor retorted angrily if they said things to
worry him. And now it often happened that a little boy or girl, who
had pitied the poor cripple, and feared him at the same time, would
offer him a flower, or an apple, or at handful of nuts in passing to
school; and he would take these gifts thankfully, and feel better
all day in remembrance of the kindness with which they had been
bestowed. Sometimes he would risk to see their books, and his eyes
would run eagerly over the pages so far in advance of his
comprehension, yet with the hope in his heart of one day mastering
them; for he had grown all athirst for knowledge.
As soon as Tom could read, the children in the neighborhood, who had
grown to like him, and always gathered around him at the gate, when
they happened to find him there, supplied him with books; so that he
had an abundance of mental food, and now began to repay his
benefactor, the bedridden man, by reading to him for hours every
The mind of Tom had some of this qualities of a sponge: it absorbed
a great deal, and, like a sponge, gave out freely at every pressure.
Whenever his mind came in contact with another mind, it must either
absorb or impart. So he was always talking or always listening when
he had anybody who would talk or listen.
There was something about him that strongly attracted the boys in
the neighborhood, and he usually had three or four of them around
him and often a dozen, late in the afternoon, when the schools were
out. As Tom had entered a new world,--the world of books,--and was
interested in all he found there, the subjects on which he talked
with the boys who sought his company were always instructive. There,
was no nonsense about the cripple: suffering of body and mind had
long ago made him serious; and all nonsense, or low, sensual talk,
to which boys are sometimes addicted, found no encouragement in his
presence. His influence over these boys was therefore of the best
kind. The parents of some of the children, when they found their
sons going so often to the house of Tom Hicks, felt doubts as to the
safety of such intimate intercourse with the cripple, towards whom
few were prepossessed, as he bore in the village the reputation of
being ill-tempered and depraved, and questioned them very closely in
regard to the nature of their intercourse. The report of these boys
took their parents by surprise; but, on investigation, it proved to
be true, and Tom's character soon rose in the public estimation.
Then came, as a natural consequence, inquiry as to the cause of such
a change in the unfortunate lad; and the neighbor of the sick man
who had instructed Tom told the story of Mr. Croft's agency in the
matter. This interested the whole town in both the cripple and his
bedridden instructor. The people were taken by surprise at such a
notable interest of the great good which may sometimes be done where
the means look discouragingly small. Mr. Croft was praised for his
generous conduct, and not only praised, but helped by many who had,
until now, felt indifferent, towards his case--for his good work
rebuked them for neglected opportunities.
The cripple's eagerness to learn, and rapid progress under the most
limited advantages, becoming generally known, a gentleman, whose son
had been one of Tom's visitors, and who had grown to be a better boy
under his influence, offered to send him in his wagon every day to
the school-house, which stood half a mile distant, and have him
brought back in the afternoon.
It was the happiest day in Tom's life when he was helped down from
the wagon, and went hobbling into the school-room.
Before leaving home on that morning he had made his way up to the
sick room of Mr. Croft.
"I owe it all to you," he said, as he brought the white, thin hand
of his benefactor to his lips. It was damp with more than a kiss
when he laid it back gently on the bed. "And our Father in heaven
will reward you."
"You have done a good work," said the neighbor, who had urged Mr.
Croft to improve his one talent, as he sat talking with him on that
evening about the poor cripple and his opening prospects; "and it
will serve you in that day when the record of life is opened. Not
because of the work itself, but for the true charity which prompted
the work. It was begun, I know, in some self-denial, but that
self-denial was for another's good; and because you put away love of
ease, and indifference, and forced yourself to do kind offices,
seeing that it was right to help others, God will send a heavenly
love of doing good into your soul, which always includes a great
reward, and is the passport to eternal felicities.
"You said," continued the neighbor, "only a few months ago, 'What
can I do?' and spoke as a man who felt that he was deprived of all
the means of accomplishing good; and yet you have, with but little
effort, lifted a human soul out of the dark valley of ignorance,
where it was groping ill self-torture, and placed it on an ascending
mountain path. The light of hope has fallen, through your aid, with
sunny warmth upon a heart that was cold and barren a little while
ago, but is now green with verdure, and blossoming in the sweet
promise of fruit. The infinite years to come alone can reveal the
blessings that will flow from this one act of a bedridden man, who
felt that in him was no capacity for good deeds."
The advantages of a school being placed within the reach of Tom
Hicks, he gave up every thought to the acquirement of knowledge. And
now came a serious difficulty. His bent, stiff fingers could not be
made to hold either pen or pencil in the right position, or to use
them in such a way as to make intelligible signs. But Tom was too
much in earnest to give up on the first, or second, or third effort.
He found, after a great many trials, that he could hold a pencil
more firmly than at first, and guide his hand in some obedience to
his will. This was sufficient to encourage him to daily
long-continued efforts, the result of which was a gradual yielding
of the rigid muscles, which became in time so flexible that he could
make quite passable figures, and write a fair hand. This did not
satisfy him, however. He was ambitious to do better; and so kept on
trying and trying, until few boys in the school could give a fairer
"Have you heard the news?" said a neighbor to Mr. Croft, the poor
bedridden man. It was five years from the day he gave the poor
cripple, Tom Hicks, his first lesson.
"What news?" the sick man asked, in a feeble voice, not even turning
his head towards the speaker. Life's pulses were running very low.
The long struggle with disease was nearly over.
"Tom Hicks has received the appointment of teacher to our public
"Are you in earnest?" There was a mingling of surprise and doubt in
the low tones that crept out upon the air.
"Yes. It is true what I say. You know that after Mr. Wilson died the
directors got Tom, who was a favorite with all the scholars, to keep
the school together for a few weeks until a successor could be
appointed. He managed so well, kept such good order, and showed
himself so capable as an instructor, that, when the election took
place to-day, he received a large majority of votes over a number of
highly-recommended teachers, and this without his having made
application for the situation, or even dreaming of such a thing."
At this moment the cripple's well-known shuffling tread and the
rattle of crutches was heard on the stairs. He came up with more
than his usual hurry. Croft turned with an effort, so as to get a
sight of him as he entered the room.
"I have heard the good news," he said, as he reached a hand feebly
towards Tom, "and it has made my heart glad."
"I owe it all to you," replied the cripple, in a voice that trembled
with feeling. "God will reward you."
And he caught the shadowy hand, touched it with his lips, and wet it
with grateful tears, as once before. Even as he held that thin,
white hand the low-moving pulse took an lower beat--lower and
lower--until the long-suffering heart grew still, and the freed
spirit went up to its reward.
"My benefactor!" sobbed the cripple, as he stood by the wasted form
shrouded in grave-clothes, and looked upon it for the last time ere
the coffin-lid closed over it. "What would I have been except for
Are your opportunities for doing good few, and limited in range, to
all appearances, reader? Have you often said, like the bedridden
man, "What can I do?" Are you poor, weak, ignorant, obscure, or even
sick as he was, and shut out from contact with the busy outside
world? No matter. If you have a willing heart, good work will come
to your hands. Is there no poor, unhappy neglected one to whom you
can speak words of encouragement, or lift out of the vale of
ignorance? Think! Cast around you. You may, by a single sentence,
spoken in the right time and in the right spirit, awaken thoughts in
some dull mind that may grow into giant powers in after times,
wielded for the world's good. While you may never be able to act
directly on society to any great purpose, in consequence of mental
or physical disabilities, you may, by instruction and guidance,
prepare some other mind for useful work, which, but for your agency,
might have wasted its powers in ignorance or crime. All around us
are human souls that may be influenced. The nurse, who ministers to
you in sickness, may be hurt or helped by you; the children, who
look into your face and read it daily, who listen to your speech,
and remember what you say, will grow better or worse, according to
the spirit of your life, as it flows into them; the neglected son of
a neighbor may find in you the wise counsellor who holds him back
from vice. Indeed, you cannot pass a single day, whether your sphere
be large or small, your place exalted or lowly, without abundant
opportunities for doing good. Only the willing heart is required. As
for the harvest, that is nodding, ripe for the sickle, in every
man's field. What of that time when the Lord of the Harvest comes,
and you bind up your sheaves and lay them at his feet?
"O, MAMMA! See that wicked-looking cat on the fence! She'll have one
of those dear little rabbits in a minute!"
Mattie's sweet face grew pale with fear, and she trembled all over.
"It's only a picture, my dear," said Mattie's mother. "The cat can't
get down, and so the rabbits are safe."
"But it looks as if she could--as if she'd jump right upon the dear
little things. I wish there was a big dog, like Old Lion, there.
Wouldn't he make her fly?"
"But it's only a picture. If there was a dog there, he couldn't bark
nor spring at the cat."
"Why didn't the man who made the picture put in a dog somewhere, so
that we could see him, and know the rabbits were safe?"
"Maybe he didn't think of it," said Mattie's mother.
"I wish he had."
"Perhaps," said the mother, "he wished to teach us this lesson,
that, as there are evil and hurtful things in the world, we should
never be so entirely off of our guard as the children playing, with
the rabbits seem to be. Dear little things! How innocent and happy
they are! There is not a thought of danger in their minds. And yet,
close by them is a great cat, with cruel eyes, ready to spring upon
their harmless pets. Yes; I think the artist meant to teach a lesson
when he drew this picture."
"What lesson, mother?" asked Mattie. "O, I remember," she added
quickly. "You said that it might be to teach us never to be off of
our guard, because there are evil and hurtful things in the world."
"Yes; and that is a lesson which cannot be learned too early. Baby
begins to learn it when he touches the fire and is burnt; when he
pulls the cat too hard and she scratches him; when he runs too fast
for his little strength, and gets a fall. And children learn it when
they venture too near vicious animal and are kicked or bitten; when
they tear their clothes, or get their hands and faces scratched with
thorns and briers; when they fall from trees, or into the water, and
in many other ways that I need not mention. And men and women learn,
it very, very, often in pains and sorrows too deep for you to
Mattie drew a long sigh, as she stood before her mother, looking,
soberly into her face.
"I wish there wasn't anything bad in the world," she said. "Nothing
that could hurt us."
"Ah, dear child!" answered the mother, her voice echoing Mattie's
sigh, "from millions and millions of hearts that wish comes up
daily. But we have this to cheer us: if we stand on guard--if we are
watchful as well as innocent--we shall rarely get hurt. It is the
careless and the thoughtless that harm reaches."
"And so we must always be on guard," said Mattie, still looking very
"There is no other way, my child. 'On guard' is the watchword of
safety for us all, young and old. But the harm that comes from the
outside is of small account compared with the, harm that comes from
"From within, mother! How can harm could from within?"
"You read about the 'hawk among the birds'?"
"Yes, yes--O, now I understand what you mean! Bad thoughts and
feelings can do us harm."
"Yes; and the hurt is deeper and more deadly than any bodily harm,
for it is done to the soul. These rabbits are like good and innocent
things of the mind, and the cat like evil and cruel things. If you
do not keep watch, in some unguarded moment angry passions evil
arise and hurt or destroy your good affections; just as this cat, if
she were real, would tear or kill the tender rabbits."
"O, mother! Is it as bad as that?" said Mattie.
"Yes, my dear; just as bad as that. And when any of these good and
innocent feelings are destroyed by anger, hatred, jealousy, envy,
revenge and the like, then just so much of heavenly good dies in us
and just so far do we come under the power of what is evil and
hurtful. Then we turn aside from safe and pleasant ways and walk
among briers and thorns. Dear Mattie! consider well the lesson of
this picture, and set a watch over your heart daily. But watching is
not all. We are told in the Bible to pray as well as watch. All of
us, young and old, must do this if we would be in safety; for human
will and human effort would all be in vain to overcome evil if
divine strength did not flow into them. And unless we desire and
pray for this divine strength we cannot receive it."
A VISIT WITH THE DOCTOR.
"HOW are you to-day, Mrs. Carleton?" asked Dr. Farleigh, as he sat
down by his patient, who reclined languidly in a large cushioned
"Miserable," was the faintly spoken reply. And the word was
The doctor took one of the lady's small, white hands, on which the
network of veins, most delicately traced, spread its blue lines
everywhere beneath the transparent skin. It was a beautiful hand--a
study for a painter or sculptor. It was a soft, flexible hand--soft,
flexible, and velvety to the touch as the hand of a baby, for it was
as much a stranger to useful work. The doctor laid his fingers on
the wrist. Under the pressure he felt the pulse beat slowly and
evenly. He took out his watch and counted the beats, seventy in a
minute. There was a no fever, nor any unusual disturbance of the
system. Calmly the heart was doing its appointed work.
"How is your head, Mrs. Carleton?"
The lady moved her head from side to side two or three times.
"Anything out of the way there?"
"My head is well enough, but I feel so miserable--so weak. I haven't
the strength of a child. The least exertion exhausts me."
And the lady shut her eyes, looking the picture of feebleness.
"Have you taken the tonic, for which I left a prescription
"Yes; but I'm no stronger."
"How is your appetite?"
"Have you taken the morning walk in the garden that I suggested?"
"O, dear, no! Walk out in the garden? I'm faint by the time I get to
the breakfast-room! I can't live at this rate, doctor. What am I to
do? Can't you build me up in some way? I'm burden to myself and
every one else."
And Mrs. Carleton really looked distressed.
"You ride out every day?"
"I did until the carriage was broken, and that was nearly a week
ago. It has been at the carriage-maker's ever since."