Part 3 out of 3
contents to be brandy and water. This caused me to feel some
concern, and I kept him, in closer observation. In a little while he
was at the table again, pouring out another glass of wine. I thought
it might be for a lady upon whom he was in attendance; but no, the
sparkling liquor touched his own lips. When the company returned to
the parlors, the flushed face, swimming eyes, and over-hilarious
manner of my young friend, showed too plainly that he had been
drinking to excess. He was so much excited as to attract the
attention of every one, and his condition became the subject of
remark. He was mortified and distressed at the occurrence, and
drawing him from the room, made free to tell him the truth. He
showed some indignation at first, and intimated that I had insulted
him but I rebuked him sternly, and told him he had better go home. I
was too much excited to act very wisely. He took me at my word, and
left the house. There was no sleep for my eyes on that night, Mrs.
Eldridge. The image of that boy going home to his mother at
midnight, in such a condition, and made so by my hand haunted me
like a rebuking spectre; and I resolved never again to set out a
table with liquors to a promiscuous company of young and old, and I
have kept that word of promise. My husband is not willing to have a
party unless there is wine with the refreshments, and I would rather
forego all entertainments than put temptation in the way of any one.
Your son's suggestion is admirable. Have the independence to act
upon it, and set an example which many will be glad to follow. Don't
fear criticism or remark; don't stop to ask what this one will say
or that one think. The approval of our own consciences is worth far
more than the opinions of men. Is it right? That is the question to
ask; not How will it appear? or What will people say? There will be
a number of parties given to your niece, without doubt; and if you,
lead off with coffee instead of wine, all the rest of Fanny's
friends may follow the good example."
When Mr. Eldridge came home at dinner-time, his wife said to him,--
"You needn't order any liquors from Snyder."
"Why not?" Mr. Eldridge looked at his wife with some surprise.
"I'm going to have coffee, instead of wine, and brandy," said Mrs.
Eldridge, speaking firmly.
"Nonsense!" You're jesting."
"No, I'm in earnest. These liquors are not only expensive, but
dangerous things to offer freely in mixed companies. Many boys get
their first taste for drink at fashionable parties, and many
reformed men have the old fiery thirst revived by a glass of wine
poured out for them in social hospitality. I am afraid to have my
conscience burdened with the responsibility which this involves."
"There is no question as to the injury that is done by this free
pouring out of liquors at our fashionable entertainments. I've long
enough seen that," said Mr. Eldridge; "but she will be a bold lady
who ventures to offer a cup of coffee in place of a glass of wine.
You had better think twice on this subject before you act once."
"I've done little else I but think about it for the last two hours,
and the more I think about it the more settled my purpose becomes."
"But what put this thing into your head?" inquired Mr. Eldridge.
"You were in full sail for party this morning, liquor and all; this
sudden tacking for a new course is a little surprising. I'm
"Your son put it into my head," replied Mrs. Eldridge.
"Henry? Well, that boy does beat all!" Mr. Eldridge did not speak
with disapprobation, but with a tone of pleasure in his voice. "And
so he proposed that we should have coffee instead of wine and
"Bravo for Henry! I like that. But what will people say, my dear? I
don't want to become a laughing stock."
"I'd rather have other people laugh at me for doing right," said
Mrs. Eldridge, "than to have my conscience blame me for doing
"Must we give the party?" asked Mr. Eldridge, who did not feel much
inclined to brave public opinion.
"I don't see that we can well avoid doing so. Parties will be given,
and as Fanny is our niece, it will look like a slight towards her if
we hold back. No, she must have a party; and as I am resolved to
exclude liquor, we must come in first. Who knows but all the rest
may follow our example."
"Don't flatter yourself on any such result. We shall stand alone,
you may depend upon it."
The evening of the party came and a large company assembled at the
house of Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge. At eleven o'clock they passed to the
supper-room. On this time the thoughts of the host and hostess had
passed, ever and anon, during the whole evening, and not without
many misgivings as to the effect their entertainment would produce
on the minds of the company. Mr. Eldridge was particularly nervous
on the subject. There were several gentlemen present whom he knew to
be lovers of good wine; gentlemen at whose houses he had often been
entertained, and never without the exhilarating glass. How would
they feel? What would they think? What would they say? These
questions fairly haunted him; and he regretted, over and over again,
that he had yielded to his wife and excluded the liquors.
But there was no holding back now; the die was cast, and they must
stand to the issue. Mr. Eldridge tried to speak pleasantly to the
lady on his arm, as he ascended to the supper-room; but the words
came heavily from his tongue, for his heart was dying in him. Soon
the company were around the table, and eyes, critical in such
matters, taking hurried inventories of what it contained. Setting
aside the wine and brandy, the entertainment was of the most liberal
character, and the whole arrangement extremely elegant. At each end
of the table stood a large coffee-urn, surrounded with cups, the
meaning of which was not long a mystery to the company. After the
terrapin, oysters, salad, and their accompaniments, Mr. Eldridge
said to a lady, in a half-hesitating voice, as if he were almost
ashamed to ask the question,--
"Will you have a cup of coffee?"
"If you please," was the smiling answer. "Nothing would suit me
"Delicious!" Mr. Eldridge heard one of the gentlemen, of whom he
stood most in dread, say. "This is indeed a treat. I wouldn't give
such a cup of coffee for the best glass of wine you could bring me."
"I am glad you are pleased," Mr. Eldridge could not help remarking,
as he turned to the gentleman.
"You couldn't have pleased me better," was replied.
Soon the cups were circling through the room, and every one seemed
to enjoy the rich beverage. It was not the ghost of coffee, nor
coffee robbed of its delicate aroma; but clear, strong, fragrant,
and mellowed by the most delicious cream. Having elected to serve
coffee, Mrs. Eldridge was careful that her entertainment should not
prove a failure through any lack of excellence in this article. And
it was very far from proving a failure. The first surprise being
over, one and another began to express an opinion on the subject to
the host and hostess.
"Let me thank you," said a lady, taking the hand of Mrs. Eldridge,
and speaking very warmly, "for your courage in making this
innovation upon a custom of doubtful prudence. I thank you, as a
mother, who has two sons here to-night."
She said no more, but Mrs. Eldridge understood well her whole
"You are a brave man, and I honor you," was the remark of a
gentleman to Mr. Eldridge. "There will be many, I think, to follow
your good example. I should never have had the courage to lead, but
I think I shall be brave enough to follow, when it comes my turn to
entertain my friends."
Henry was standing by his father when this was said listening with
respectful, but deeply gratified attention.
"My son, sir," said Mr. Eldridge.
The gentleman took the boy by the hand, and while he held it, the
"I must let the honor go to where it really is due. The suggestion
came from him. He is a Cadet of Temperance, and when the party was
talked of, he pleaded so earnestly for the substitution of coffee
for wine and brandy, and used such good reason for the change, that
we saw only one right course before us, and that we have adopted."
The gentleman, on hearing this, shook the lad's hand warmly, and
"Your father has reason to be proud of you, my brave boy! There is
no telling what good may grew out of this thing. Others will follow
your father's example, and hundreds of young men be saved from the
enticements of the wine cup."
With what strong throbs of pleasure did the boy's heart beat when
these words came to his ears! He had scarcely hoped for success when
he pleaded briefly, but earnestly, with his mother. Yet he felt that
he must speak, for to his mind, what she proposed doing was a great
evil. Since it had been resolved to banish liquor from the
entertainment, he had heard his father and mother speak several
times doubtfully as to the result; and more than once his father
expressed result that any such "foolish" attempt to run in the face
of people's prejudices had been thought of. Naturally, he had felt
anxious about the result; but now that the affair had gone off so
triumphantly, his heart was outgushing with pleasure.
The result was as had been predicted. Four parties were given to the
bride, and in each case the good example of Mrs. Eldridge was
followed. Coffee took the place of wine and brandy, and it was the
remark of nearly all, that there had been no pleasant parties during
So much for what a boy may do, by only a few right words spoken at
the right time, and in the right manner. Henry Eldridge was
thoughtful, modest, and earnest-minded. His attachment to the cause
of temperance was not a mere boyish enthusiasm, but the result of a
conviction that intemperance was a vice destructive, to both soul
and body, and one that lay like a curse and a plague-spot on
society, He could understand how, if the boys rejected, entirely,
the cup of confusion, the next, generation of men would be sober;
and this had led him to join the Cadets, and do all in his power to
get other lads to join also. In drawing other lads into the order,
he had been very successful; and now, in a few respectfully uttered,
but earnest words, he had checked the progress of intemperance in a
circle far beyond the ordinary reach of his influence.
Henry Eldridge was a happy boy that night.
Mrs. Grove called from the door that opened towards the garden. But
no answer came. The sun had set half an hour before, and his
parting, rays, were faintly tinging with gold and purple few clouds
that lay just alone the edge of the western sky. In the east, the
full moon was rising in all her beauty, making pale the stars that
were sparking in the firmament.
"Where is Amy?" she asked. "Has any one seen her come in?"
"I saw her go up stairs with her knitting in her hand half an hour
ago," said Amy's brother, who was busily at work with his knife on a
block of pine wood, trying to make a boat.
Mrs. Grove went to the foot of the stairs, and called again. But
there was no reply.
"I wonder where the child can be," she said to herself, a slight
feeling of anxiety crossing her mind. So she went up stairs to looks
for her. The door of Amy's bedroom was shut, but on pushing it open
Mrs. Grove saw her little girl sitting at the open window, so lost
in the beauty of the moonlit sky and her own thoughts that she did
not hear the noise of her mother's entrance.
"Amy," said Mrs. Grove.
The child started, and then said quickly,--
"O, mother! Come and see! Isn't it lovely?"
"What are you looking at, dear?" asked Mrs. Grove, as she sat down
by her side, and drew an arm around her.
"At the moon, and stars, and the lake away off by the hill. See what
a great road of light lies across the water! Isn't it beautiful,
mother? And it makes me feel so quiet and happy. I wonder why it
"Shall I tell you the reason?"
"O, yes, mother, dear! What is the reason?"
"God made everything that is good and beautiful."
"O, yes, I know that!"
"Good and beautiful for the sake of man; because man is the highest
thing of creation and nearest to God. All things below him were
created for his good; that is, God made them for him to use in
sustaining the life of his body or the life of his soul."
"I don't see what use I can make of the moon and stars," said Amy.
"And yet," answered her mother, "you said only a minute ago that the
beauty of this moon-light evening made you feel so quiet and happy."
"O, yes! That is so; and you were going to tell me why it was."
"First," said the mother, "let me, remind you that the moon and
stars give us light by night, and that, if you happened to be away
at a neighbor's after the sun went down, they would be of great use
in showing you the path home-ward."
"I didn't think of that when I spoke of not seeing what use I could
make, of the moon and stars," Amy replied.
Her mother went on,--
"God made everything that is good and beautiful for the stake of
man, as I have just told you; and each of these good and beautiful
things of creation comes to us with a double blessing,--one for our
bodies and the other for our souls. The moon and stars not only give
light this evening to make dark ways plain, but their calm presence
fills our souls with peace. And they do so, because all things of
nature being the work of God, have in them a likeness of something
in himself not seen by our eyes, but felt in our souls. Do you
understand anything of what I mean, Amy?"
"Just a little, only," answered the child. "Do you mean, mother
dear, that God is inside of the moon and stars, and everything else
that he has made?"
"Not exactly what I mean; but that he has so made them, that each
created thin is as a mirror in which our souls may see something of
his love and his wisdom reflected. In the water we see an image of
his truth, that, if learned, will satisfy our thirsty minds and
cleanse us from impurity. In the sun we see an image of his love,
that gives light, and warmth, and all beauty and health to our
"And what in the moon?" asked Amy.
"The moon is cold and calm, not warm and brilliant like the sun,
which tells us of God's love. Like truths learned, but not made warm
and bright by love, it shows us the way in times of darkness. But
you are too young to understand much about this. Only keep in your
memory that every good and beautiful thing you see, being made by
God, reflects something of his nature and quality to your soul and
that this is why the lovely, the grand, the beautiful, the pure, and
sweet things of nature fill your heart with peace or delight when
you gaze at them."
For a little while after this they sat looking out of the window,
both feeling very peaceful in the presence of God and his works.
Then voice was heard below, and Amy, starting up, exclaimed,--
"O, there is father!" and taking her mother's hand, went down to
AN ANGEL IN DISGUISE.
IDLENESS, vice, and intemperance had done their miserable work, and
the dead mother lay cold and still amid her wretched children. She
had fallen upon the threshold of her own door in a drunken fit, and
died in the presence of her frightened little ones.
Death touches the spring of our common humanity. This woman had been
despised, scoffed at, and angrily denounced by nearly every man,
woman, and child in the village; but now, as the fact of, her death
was passed from lip to lip, in subdued tones, pity took the place of
anger, and sorrow of denunciation. Neighbors went hastily to the old
tumble-down hut, in which she had secured little more than a place
of shelter from summer heats and winter cold: some with
grave-clothes for a decent interment of the body; and some with food
for the half-starving children, three in number. Of these, John, the
oldest, a boy of twelve, was a stout lad, able to earn his living
with any farmer. Kate, between ten and eleven, was bright, active
girl, out of whom something clever might be made, if in good hands;
but poor little Maggie, the youngest, was hopelessly diseased. Two
years before a fall from a window had injured her spine, and she had
not been able to leave her bed since, except when lifted in the arms
of her mother.
"What is to be done with the children?" That was the chief question
now. The dead mother would go underground, and be forever beyond all
care or concern of the villagers. But the children must not be left
to starve. After considering the matter, and talking it over with
his wife, farmer Jones said that he would take John, and do well by
him, now that his mother was out of the way; and Mrs. Ellis, who had
been looking out for a bound girl, concluded that it would be
charitable in her to make choice of Katy, even though she was too
young to be of much use for several years.
"I could do much better, I know," said Mrs. Ellis; "but as no one
seems inclined to take her, I must act from a sense of duty expect
to have trouble with the child; for she's an undisciplined
thing--used to having her own way."
But no one said "I'll take Maggie." Pitying glances were cast on her
wan and wasted form and thoughts were troubled on her account.
Mothers brought cast-off garments and, removing her soiled and
ragged clothes, dressed her in clean attire. The sad eyes and
patient face of the little one touched many hearts, and even knocked
at them for entrance. But none opened to take her in. Who wanted a
"Take her to the poorhouse," said a rough man, of whom the question
"What's to be done with Maggie?" was asked. "Nobody's going to be
bothered with her."
"The poorhouse is a sad place for a sick and helpless child,"
"For your child or mine," said the other, lightly speaking; "but for
tis brat it will prove a blessed change, she will be kept clean,
have healthy food, and be doctored, which is more than can be said
of her past condition."
There was reason in that, but still it didn't satisfy. The day
following the day of death was made the day of burial. A few
neighbors were at the miserable hovel, but none followed dead cart
as it bore the unhonored remains to its pauper grave. Farmer Jones,
after the coffin was taken out, placed John in his wagon and drove
away, satisfied that he had done his part. Mrs. Ellis spoke to Kate
with a hurried air, "Bid your sister good by," and drew the tearful
children apart ere scarcely their lips had touched in a sobbing
farewell. Hastily others went out, some glancing at Maggie, and some
resolutely refraining from a look, until all had gone. She was
alone! Just beyond the threshold Joe Thompson, the wheelwright,
paused, and said to the blacksmith's wife, who was hastening off
with the rest,--
"It's a cruel thing to leave her so."
"Then take her to the poorhouse: she'll have to go there," answered
the blacksmith's wife, springing away, and leaving Joe behind.
For a little while the man stood with a puzzled air; then he turned
back, and went into the hovel again. Maggie with painful effort, had
raised herself to an upright position and was sitting on the bed,
straining her eyes upon the door out of which all had just departed,
A vague terror had come into her thin white face.
"O, Mr. Thompson!" she cried out, catching her suspended breath,
"don't leave me here all alone!"
Though rough in exterior, Joe Thompson, the wheelwright, had a
heart, and it was very tender in some places. He liked children, and
was pleased to have them come to his shop, where sleds and wagons
were made or mended for the village lads without a draft on their
"No, dear," he answered, in a kind voice, going to the bed, and
stooping down over the child, "You sha'n't be left here alone." Then
he wrapped her with the gentleness almost of a woman, in the clean
bedclothes which some neighbor had brought; and, lifting her in his
strong arms, bore her out into the air and across the field that lay
between the hovel and his home.
Now, Joe Thompson's wife, who happened to be childless, was not a
woman of saintly temper, nor much given to self-denial for others'
good, and Joe had well-grounded doubts touching the manner of
greeting he should receive on his arrival. Mrs. Thompson saw him
approaching from the window, and with ruffling feathers met him a
few paces from the door, as he opened the garden gate, and came in.
He bore a precious burden, and he felt it to be so. As his arms held
the sick child to his breast, a sphere of tenderness went out from
her, and penetrated his feelings. A bond had already corded itself
around them both, and love was springing into life.
"What have you there?" sharply questioned Mrs. Thompson.
Joe, felt the child start and shrink against him. He did not reply,
except by a look that was pleading and cautionary, that said, "Wait
a moment for explanations, and be gentle;" and, passing in, carried
Maggie to the small chamber on the first floor, and laid her on a
bed. Then, stepping back, he shut the door, and stood face to face
with his vinegar-tempered wife in the passage-way outside.
"You haven't brought home that sick brat!" Anger and astonishment
were in the tones of Mrs. Joe Thompson; her face was in a flame.
"I think women's hearts are sometimes very hard," said Joe. Usually
Joe Thompson got out of his wife's way, or kept rigidly silent and
non-combative when she fired up on any subject; it was with some
surprise, therefore, that she now encountered a firmly-set
countenance and a resolute pair of eyes.
"Women's hearts are not half so hard as men's!"
Joe saw, by a quick intuition, that his resolute bearing had
impressed his wife and he answered quickly, and with real
indignation, "Be that as it may, every woman at the funeral turned
her eyes steadily from the sick child's face, and when the cart went
off with her dead mother, hurried away, and left her alone in that
old hut, with the sun not an hour in the sky."
"Where were John and Kate?" asked Mrs. Thompson.
"Farmer Jones tossed John into his wagon, and drove off. Katie went
home with Mrs. Ellis; but nobody wanted the poor sick one. 'Send her
to the poorhouse,' was the cry."
"Why didn't you let her go, then. What did you bring her here for?"
"She can't walk to the poorhouse," said Joe; "somebody's arms must
carry her, and mine are strong enough for that task."
"Then why didn't you keep on? Why did you stop here?" demanded the
"Because I'm not apt to go on fools' errands. The Guardians must
first be seen, and a permit obtained."
There was no gainsaying this.
"When will you see the Guardians?" was asked, with irrepressible
"Why put it off till to-morrow? Go at once for the permit, and get
the whole thing off of your hands to-night."
"Jane," said the wheelwright, with an impressiveness of tone that
greatly subdued his wife, "I read in the Bible sometimes, and find
much said about little children. How the Savior rebuked the
disciples who would not receive them; how he took them up in his
arms, and blessed them; and how he said that 'whosoever gave them
even a cup of cold water should not go unrewarded.' Now, it is a
small thing for us to keep this poor motherless little one for a
single night; to be kind to her for a single night; to make her life
comfortable for a single night."
The voice of the strong, rough man shook, and he turned his head
away, so that the moisture in his eyes might not be seen. Mrs.
Thompson did not answer, but a soft feeling crept into her heart.
"Look at her kindly, Jane; speak to her kindly," said Joe. "Think of
her dead mother, and the loneliness, the pain, the sorrow that must
be on all her coming life." The softness of his heart gave unwonted
eloquence to his lips.
Mrs. Thompson did not reply, but presently turned towards the little
chamber where her husband had deposited Maggie; and, pushing open
the door, went quietly in. Joe did not follow; he saw that, her
state had changed, and felt that it would be best to leave her alone
with the child. So he went to his shop, which stood near the house,
and worked until dusky evening released him from labor. A light
shining through the little chamber windows was the first object that
attracted Joe's attention on turning towards the house: it was a
good omen. The path led him by this windows and, when opposite, he
could not help pausing to look in. It was now dark enough outside to
screen him from observation. Maggie lay, a little raised on the
pillow with the lamp shining full upon her face. Mrs. Thompson was
sitting by the bed, talking to the child; but her back was towards
the window, so that her countenance was not seen. From Maggie's
face, therefore, Joe must read the character of their intercourse.
He saw that her eyes were intently fixed upon his wife; that now and
then a few words came, as if in answers from her lips; that her
expression was sad and tender; but he saw nothing of bitterness or
pain. A deep-drawn breath was followed by one of relief, as a weight
lifted itself from his heart.
On entering, Joe did not go immediately to the little chamber. His
heavy tread about the kitchen brought his wife somewhat hurriedly
from the room where she had been with Maggie. Joe thought it best
not to refer to the child, nor to manifest any concern in regard to
"How soon will supper be ready?" he asked.
"Right soon," answered Mrs. Thompson, beginning to bustle about.
There was no asperity in her voice.
After washing from his hands and face the dust and soil of work, Joe
left the kitchen, and went to the little bedroom. A pair of large
bright eyes looked up at him from the snowy bed; looked at him
tenderly, gratefully, pleadingly. How his heart swelled in his
bosom! With what a quicker motion came the heart-beats! Joe sat
down, and now, for the first time, examining the thin free carefully
under the lamp light, saw that it was an attractive face, and full
of a childish sweetness which suffering had not been able to
"Your name is Maggie?" he said, as he sat down and took her soft
little hand in his.
"Yes, sir." Her voice struck a chord that quivered in a low strain
"Have you been sick long?"
"Yes, sir." What a sweet patience was in her tone!
"Has the doctor been to see you?"
"He used to come."
"But not lately?"
"Have you any pain?"
"Sometimes, but not now."
"When had you pain?"
"This morning my side ached, and my back hurt when you carried me."
"It hurts you to be lifted or moved about?"
"Your side doesn't ache now?"
"Does it ache a great deal?"
"Yes, sir; but it hasn't ached any since I've been on this soft
"The soft bed feels good."
"O, yes, sir--so good!" What a satisfaction, mingled with gratitude,
was in her voice!
"Supper is ready," said Mrs. Thompson, looking into the room a
little while afterwards.
Joe glanced from his wife's face to that of Maggie; she understood
him, and answered,--
"She can wait until we are done; then I will bring her somethings to
eat." There was an effort at indifference on the part of Mrs.
Thompson, but her husband had seen her through the window, and
understood that the coldness was assumed. Joe waited, after sitting
down to the table, for his wife to introduce the subject uppermost
in both of their thoughts; but she kept silent on that theme, for
many minutes, and he maintained a like reserve. At last she said,
"What are you going to do with that child?"
"I thought you understood me that she was to go to the poorhouse,"
replied Joe, as if surprised at her question.
Mrs. Thompson looked rather strangely at her husband for sonic
moments, and then dropped her eyes. The subject was not again
referred to during the meal. At its close, Mrs. Thompson toasted a
slice of bread, and softened, it with milk and butter; adding to
this a cup of tea, she took them into Maggie, and held the small
waiter, on which she had placed them, while the hungry child ate
with every sign of pleasure.
"Is it good?" asked Mrs. Thompson, seeing with what a keen relish
the food was taken.
The child paused with the cup in her hand, and answered with a look
of gratitude that awoke to new life old human feelings which had
been slumbering in her heart for half a score of years.
"We'll keep her a day or two longer; she is so weak and helpless,"
said Mrs. Joe Thompson, in answer to her husband's remark, at
breakfast-time on the next morning, that he must step down and see
the Guardians of the Poor about Maggie.
"She'll be so much in your way," said Joe.
"I sha'n't mind that for a day or two. Poor thing!"
Joe did not see the Guardians of the Poor on that day, on the next,
nor on the day following. In fact, he never saw them at all on
Maggie's account, for in less than a week Mrs. Joe Thompson would as
soon leave thought of taking up her own abode in the almshouse as
sending Maggie there.
What light and blessing did that sick and helpless child bring to
the home of Joe Thompson, the poor wheelwright! It had been dark,
and cold, and miserable there for a long time just because his wife
had nothing to love and care for out of herself, and so became soar,
irritable, ill-tempered, and self-afflicting in the desolation of
her woman's nature. Now the sweetness of that sick child, looking
ever to her in love, patience, and gratitude, was as honey to her
soul, and she carried her in her heart as well as in her arms, a
precious burden. As for Joe Thompson, there was not a man in all the
neighborhood who drank daily of a more precious wine of life than
he. An angel had come into his house, disguised as a sick, helpless,
and miserable child, and filled all its dreary chambers with the
sunshine of love.
WHICH WAS MOST THE LADY?
"DID you ever see such a queer looking figure?" exclaimed a young
lady, speaking loud enough to be heard by the object of her remark.
She was riding slowly along in an open carriage, a short distance
from the city, accompanied by a relative. The young man, her
companion, looked across the, road at a woman, whose attire was
certainly not in any way very near approach to the fashion of the
day. She had on a faded calico dress, short in the waist; stout
leather shoes; the remains of what had once been a red merino long
shawl, and a dingy old Leghorn bonnet of the style of eighteen
hundred and twenty.
As the young man turned to look at the woman, the latter raised her
eyes and fixed them steadily upon the young lady who had so rudely
directed towards her the attention of her companion. Her face, was
not old nor faded, as the dress she wore. It was youthful, but plain
almost to homeliness; and the smallness of her eyes, which were
close together and placed at the Mongolian angle, gave to her
countenance a singular aspect.
"How do you do, aunty?" said the young man gently drawing on the
rein of his horse so as still further to diminish his speed.
The face of the young girl--for she was quite young--reddened, and she
slackened her steps so as to fall behind the rude, unfeeling couple,
who sought to make themselves merry at her expense.
"She is gypsy!" said the young lady, laughing.
"Gran'mother! How are catnip and hoarhound, snakeroot and tansy,
selling to-day? What's the state of the herb market?" joined the
young man with increasing rudeness.
"That bonnet's from the ark--ha! ha!"
"And was worn by the wife of Shem, Ham or Japheth. Ha! now I've got
it! This is the great, great, great granddaughter of Noah. What a
discovery! Where's Barnum? Here's a chance for another fortune!"
The poor girl made no answer to this cruel and cowardly assault, but
turned her face away, and stood still, in order to let the carriage
"You look like a gentleman and a lady," said a man whom was riding
by, and happened to overhear some of their last remarks; "and no
doubt regard yourselves as such. But your conduct is anything but
gentlemanly and lady-like; and if I had the pleasure of knowing your
friends, I would advise them to keep you in until you had sense and
decency enough not to disgrace yourselves and them!"
A fiery spot burned instantly on the young man's face, and fierce
anger shot from his eyes. But the one who had spoken so sharply
fixed upon him a look of withering contempt, and riding close up to
the carriage, handed him his card, remarking coldly, as he did so,--
"I shall be pleased to meet you again, sir. May I ask your card in
The young man thrust his hand indignantly into his pocket, and
fumbled there for some moments, but without finding a card.
"No matter," said he, trying to speak fiercely; "you will hear from
me in good time."
"And you from me on the spot, if I should happen to catch you at
such mean and cowardly work as you were just now engaged in," said
the stranger, no seeking to veil his contempt.
"The vulgar brute! O, he's horrid!" ejaculated the young lady as her
rather crestfallen companion laid the whip upon his horse and dashed
ahead. "How he frightened me!"
"Some greasy butcher or two-fisted blacksmith," said the elegant
young man with contempt. "But," he added boastfully, "I'll teach him
Out into the beautiful country, with feeling a little less buoyant
than when they started, rode our gay young couple. As the excitement
of passion died away both feel a little uncomfortable in mind, for
certain unpleasant convictions intruded themselves, and certain
precepts in the code of polite usage grew rather distinct in their
memories. They had been thoughtless, to say the least of it.
"But the girl looked so queer!" said the young lady. "I couldn't
help laughing to save my life. Where on earth did she come from?"
Not very keen was their enjoyment of the afternoon's ride, although
the day was particularly fine, and their way was amid some bits of
charming scenery. After going out into the country some five or six
miles, the horse's head was turned, and they took their way
homeward. Wishing to avoid the Monotony of a drive along the same
road the young man struck across the country in order to reach
another avenue leading into the city, but missed his way and
bewildered in a maze of winding country roads. While descending a
steep hill, in a very secluded place, a wheel came off, and both
were thrown from the carriage. The young man received only a slight
bruise, but the girl was more seriously injured. Her head had struck
against a stone with so strong a concussion as to render her
Eagerly glancing around for aid, the young man saw, at no great
distance from the road, a poor looking log tenement, from the mud
chimney of which curled a thin column of smoke, giving signs of
inhabitants. To call aloud was his first impulse, and he raised his
voice with the cry of "Help!"
Scarcely had the sound died away, ere he saw the door of the cabin
flung open, and a woman and boy looked eagerly around.
"Help!" he cried again, and the sound of his voice directed their
eyes towards him. Even in his distress, alarm, and bewilderment, the
young man recognized instantly in the woman the person they had so
wantonly insulted only an hour or two before. As soon as she saw
them, she ran forward hastily, and seeing the white face of the
insensible girl, exclaimed, with pity and concern,--
"O, sir! is she badly hurt?"
There was heart in that voice of peculiar sweetness.
"Poor lady!" she said, tenderly, as she untied the bonnet strings
with gentle care, and placed her hand upon the clammy temples.
"Shall I help you to take her over to the house?" she added, drawing
an arm beneath the form of the insensible girl.
"Thank you!" There was a tone of respect in the young man's voice.
"But I can carry her myself;" and he raised the insensible form in
his arms, and, following the young stranger, bore it into her humble
dwelling. As he laid her upon a bed, he asked, eagerly,--
"Is there a doctor near?"
"Yes, sir," replied the girl. "If you will come to the door, I will
show you the doctor's house; and I think he must be at home, for I
saw him go by only a quarter of an hour since. John will take care
of your horse while you are away, and I will do my best for the poor
The doctor's house, about a quarter of a mile distant, was pointed
out, and the young man hurried off at a rapid speed. He was gone
only a few minutes when his insensible companion revived, and,
starting up, looked wildly around her.
"Where am I? Where is George?" she asked, eagerly.
"He has gone for the doctor; but will be back very soon," said the
young woman, in a kind, soothing voice.
"For the doctor! Who's injured?" She had clasped her hands across
her forehead, and now, on removing them, saw on one a wet stain of
blood. With a frightened cry she fell backs upon the pillow from
which she had risen.
"I don't think you are much hurt," was said, in a tone of
encouragement, as with a damp cloth the gentle stranger wiped very
tenderly her forehead. "The cut is not deep. Have you pain
"No," was faintly answered.
"You can move your arms; so _they_ are uninjured. And now, won't you
just step on to the floor, and see if you can bear your weight? Let
me raise you up, There, put your foot down--now the other--now take a
step--now another. There are no bones broken! How glad I am!"
How earnest, how gentle, how pleased she was. There was no acting in
her manner. Every tone, expression, and gesture showed that heart
was in everything.
"O, I am glad!" she repeated. "It might have been so much worse."
The first glance into the young girl's face was one of
identification; and even amid the terror that oppressed her heart,
the unwilling visitor felt a sense of painful mortification. There
was no mistaking that peculiar countenance. But how different she
seemed! Her voice was singularly sweet, her manner gentle and full
of kindness, and in her movements and attitude a certain ease that
marked her as one not to be classed, even by the over-refined young
lady who was so suddenly brought within her power, among the common
All that assiduous care and kind attention could do for the unhappy
girl, until the doctor's arrival, was done. After getting back to
the bed from which she bad been induced to rise, in order to see if
all her limbs were sound, she grew sick and faint, and remained so
until the physician came. He gave it as his opinion that she had
received some internal injuries, and that it would not be safe to
attempt her removal.
The young couple looked at each other with dismay pictured in their
"I wish it were in my power to make you more comfortable," said the
kind-hearted girl, in whose humble abode they were. "What we have is
at your service in welcome, and all that it is in my power to do
shall be done for you cheerfully. If father was only at home--but
that can't be helped."
The young man dazed upon her in wonder and shame--wonder at the charm
that now appeared in her singularly marked countenance, and shame
for the disgraceful and cowardly cruelty with which he had a little
while before so wantonly assailed her.
The doctor was positive about the matter, and so there was no
alternative. After seeing his unhappy relative in as comfortable a
condition as possible, the young man, with the doctor's aid,
repaired his crippled vehicle by the restoration of a linchpin, and
started for the city to bear intelligence of the sad accident, and
bring out the mother of the injured girl.
Alone with the person towards whom she had only a short time before
acted in such shameless violation of womanly kindness and lady-like
propriety, our "nice young lady" did not feel more comfortable in
mind than body. Every look--every word--every tone--every act of the
kind-hearted girl--was a rebuke. The delicacy of her attentions, and
the absence of everything like a desire to refund her of the recent
unpleasant incident, marked her as possessing, even if her face and
attire were plain, and her position humble, all the elements of a
Although the doctor, when he left, did not speak very encouragingly,
the vigorous system of the young girl began to react and she grew
better quite rapidly so that when her parents arrived with the
family physician, she was so much improved that it was at once
decided to take her to the city.
For an hour before her parents came she lay feigning to be in sleep,
yet observing every movement and word of her gentle attendant. It
was an hour of shame, self-reproaches, and repentance. She was not
really bad at heart; but false estimates of things, trifling
associations, and a thoughtless disregard of others, had made her
far less a lady in act than she imagined herself to be in quality.
Her parents, when they arrived, overwhelmed the young girl with
thankfulness; and the father, at parting, tried to induce her to
accept a sum of money. But the offers seemed to disturb her.
"O, no, sir!" she said, drawing back, while a glow came into her
pale face, and made it almost beautiful; "I have only done a simple
"But you are poor," he urged, glancing around. "Take this, and let
it make you more comfortable."
"We are contented with what God has given to us," she replied,
cheerfully. "For what he gives is always the best portion. No, sir;
I cannot receive money for doing only a common duty."
"Your reward is great," said the father, touched with the noble
answer, "may God bless you, my good girl! And if you will not
receive my money, accept my grateful thanks."
As the daughter parted from the strange young girl, she bent down
and kissed her hand; then looking up into her face, with tearful
eyes, she whispered for her ears alone,--
"I am punished, and you are vindicated. O, let your heart forgive
"It was God whom you offended," was whispered back. "Get his
forgiveness, and all will be right. You have mine, and also the
prayer of my heart that you may be good and wise, for only such are
The humbled girl grasped her hand tightly, and murmured, "I shall
never forget you--never!"
Nor did she. If the direct offer of her father was declined,
indirect benefits reached, through her means, the lonely log
cottage, where everything in time put on a new and pleasant aspect,
wind the surroundings of the gentle spirit that presides there were
more in agreement with her true internal quality. To the thoughtless
young couple the incidents of that day were a life-lesson that never
passed entirely from their remembrance. They obtained a glance below
the surface of things that surprised them, learning that, even in
the humblest, there may be hearts in the right places--warm with pure
feelings, and inspired by the noblest sentiments of humanity; and
that highly as they esteem themselves on account of their position,
there was one, at least, standing below them so far as external
advantages were concerned, who was their superior in all the higher
qualities that go to make up the real lady and gentleman.
OTHER PEOPLE'S EYES.
"OUR parlor carpet is beginning to look real shabby," said Mrs.
Cartwright. "I declare! if I don't feel right down ashamed of it,
every time a visitor, who is anybody, calls in to see me."
"A new one will cost--"
The husband of Mrs. Cartwright, a good-natured, compliant man, who
was never better pleased than when he could please his wife, paused
to let her finish the sentence, which she did promptly, by saying,--
"Only forty dollars. I've counted it all up. It will take thirty-six
yards. I saw a beautiful piece at Martin's--just the thing--at one
dollar a yard. Binding, and other little matters, won't go beyond
three or four dollars, and I can make it myself, you know."
"Only forty dollars! Mr. Cartwright glanced down at the carpet which
had decorated the floor of their little parlor for nearly five
years. It had a pleasant look in his eyes, for it was associated
with many pleasant memories. Only forty dollars for a new one! If
the cost were only five, instead of forty, the inclination to banish
this old friend to an out-of-the-way chamber would have been no
stronger in the mind of Mr. Cartwright. But forty dollars was an
item in the calculation, and to Mr. Cartwright a serious one. Every
year he was finding it harder to meet the gradually increasing
demand upon his purse; for there was a steadily progressive
enlargement of his family, and year after year the cost of living
advanced. He was thinking of this when his wife said,--
"You know, Henry, that cousin Sally Gray is coming here on a visit
week after next. Now I do want to put the very best face on to
things while she is here. We were married at the same time, and I
hear that her husband is getting rich. I feel a little pride about
the matter, and don't want her to think that we're growing worse off
than when we began life, and can't afford to replace this shabby old
carpet by a new one." No further argument was needed. Mr. Cartwright
had sixty dollars in one of the bureau drawers,--a fact well known to
his wife. And it was also well known to her that it was the
accumulation of very careful savings, designed, when the sum reached
one hundred dollars, to cancel a loan made by a friend, at a time
when sickness and a death in the family had run up their yearly
expenses beyond the year's income. Very desirous was Mr. Cartwright
to pay off this loan, and he had felt lighter in heart as those
aggregate of his savings came nearer and nearer to the sum required
for that purpose.
But he had no firmness to oppose his wife in anything. Her wishes in
this instance, as in many others, he unwisely made a law. The
argument about cousin Sally Gray was irresistible. No more than his
wife did he wish to look poor in her eyes; and so, for the sake of
her eyes, a new carpet was bought, and the old one--not by any means
as worn and faded as the language of his wife indicated--sent up
stairs to do second-hand duty in the spare bedroom.
Not within the limit of forty dollars was the expense confined. A
more costly pattern than could be obtained for one dollar a yard
tempted the eyes of Mrs. Cartwright, and abstracted from her
husband's savings the sum of over fifty dollars. Mats and rugs to go
with the carpet were indispensable, to give the parlor the right
effect in the eyes of cousin Sally Gray, and the purchase of these
absorbed the remainder of Mr. Cartwright's carefully hoarded sixty
Unfortunately, for the comfortable condition of Mrs. Cartwright's
mind, the new carpet, with its flaunting colors, put wholly out of
countenance the cane-seat chairs and modest pier table, and gave to
the dull paper on the wall a duller aspect. Before, she had scarcely
noticed the hangings on the Venetian blinds, now, it seemed as if
they had lost their freshness in a day; and the places where they
were broken, and had been sewed again, were singularly apparent
every time her eye rested upon them.
"These blinds do look dreadfully!" she said to her husband, on the
day after the carpet went down. "Can you remember what they cost?"
"Eight dollars," replied Mr. Cartwright.
"So much?" The wife sighed as she spoke.
"Yes, that was the price. I remember it very well."
"I wonder what new hangings would cost?" Mrs. Cartwright's manner
grew suddenly more cheerful, as the suggestion of a cheaper way to
improve the windows came into her thought.
"Not much, I presume," answered her husband.
"Don't you think we'd better have it done?"
"Yes," was the compliant answer.
"Will you stop at the blind-maker's, as you go to the store, and
tell him to send up for them to-day? It must be attended to at once,
you know, for cousin Sally will be here on next Wednesday."
Mr. Cartwright called at the blind-maker's, as requested, and the
blind-maker promised to send for the blinds. From there he continued
onto the store in which he was employed. There he found a note on
his desk from the friend to whom he was indebted for the one hundred
"Dear Cartwright" (so the note ran), "if it is possible for you to
let me have the one hundred dollars I loaned you, its return
to-morrow will be a particular favor, as I have a large payment to
make, and have been disappointed in the receipt of a sum of money
A very sudden change of feeling did Mr. Cartwright experience. He
had, in a degree, partaken of his wife's pleasure in observing the
improved appearances of their little parlor but this pleasure was
now succeeded by a sense of painful regret and mortification. It was
nearly two hours before Mr. Cartwright returned an answer to his
friend's note. Most of that time had been spent in the vain effort
to discover some way out of the difficulty in which he found himself
placed. He would have asked an advance of one hundred dollars on his
salary, but he did not deem that a prudent step, and for two
reasons. One was, the known character of his employers; and the
other was involved in the question of how he was to support his
family for the time he was working out this advance? At last, in
sadness and humiliation, he wrote a brief reply, regretting his
inability to replace the loan now, but promising to do it in a very
short time. Not very long after this answer was sent, there came
another note from his friend, written in evident haste, and under
the influence of angry feelings. It was in these words:--
"I enclose your due bill, which I, yesterday, thought good for its
face. But, as it is worthless, I send it back. The man who buys new
carpets and new furniture, instead of paying his honest debts, can
be no friend of mine. I am sorry to have been mistaken in Henry
Twice did the unhappy man read this cutting letter; then, folding it
up slowly, be concealed it in one of his pockets. Nothing was said
about it to his wife, whose wordy admiration of the new carpet, and
morning, noon, and night, for the next two or three days, was a
continual reproof of his weakness for having yielded to her wishes
in a matter where calm judgement and a principle of right should
have prevailed. But she could not help noticing that he was less
cheerful; and once or twice he spoke to her in a way that she
thought positively ill-natured. Something was wrong with him; but
what that something was, she did not for an instant imagine.
At last the day arrived for cousin Sally Gray's visit. Unfortunately
the Venetian blinds were still at the blind-maker's, where they were
likely to remain for a week longer, as it was discovered, on the
previous afternoon, that he had never touched them since they came
into his shop. Without them the little parlor had a terribly bare
look; the strong light coming in, and contrasting harshly the new,
gaudy carpet with the old, worn, and faded furniture. Mrs.
Cartwright fairly cried with vexation.
"We must have something for the windows, Henry," she said, as she
stood, disconsolate, in the parlor, after tea. "It will never do in
the world to let cousin Sally find us in this trim."
"Cousin Sally will find a welcome in our hearts," replied her
husband, in a sober voice, "and that, I am sure, will be more
grateful to her than new carpets and window blinds."
The way in which this was spoken rather surprised Mrs. Cartwright,
and she felt just a little rebuked.
"Don't you think," she said, after a few moments of silence on both
sides, "that we might afford to buy a few yards of lace to put up to
the windows, just for decency's sake?"
"No," answered the husband, firmly. "We have afforded too much
His manner seemed to Mrs. Cartwright almost ill-natured. It hurt her
very much. Both sat down in the parlor, and both remained silent.
Mrs. Cartwright thought of the mean appearance everything in that
"best room" would have in the eyes of cousin Sally, and Mr.
Cartwright thought of his debt to his friend, and of that friend's
anger and alienation. Both felt more uncomfortable than they had
been for a long time.
On the next day cousin Sally arrived. She had not come to spy out
the nakedness of the land,--not for the purpose of making contrasts
between her own condition in life and that of Mr. Cartwright,--but
from pure love. She had always been warmly attached to her cousin;
and the years during which new life-associations had separated them
had increased rather than diminished this attachment. But the
gladness of their meeting was soon overshadowed; at least for cousin
Sally. She saw by the end of the first day's visit that her cousin
was more concerned to make a good appearance in her eyes,--to have
her understand that she and her husband were getting along bravely
in the world,--than to open her heart to her as of old, and exchange
with her a few pages in the history of their inner lives. What
interest had she in the new carpet, or the curtainless window, that
seemed to be the most prominent of all things in the mind of her
relative? None whatever! If the visit had been from Mary Cartwright
to herself, she would never have thought for an instant of making
preparations for her coming in the purchase of new furniture, or by
any change in the externals of her home. All arrangements for the
reception would have been in her heart.
Cousin Sally was disappointed. She did not find the relative, with
whom so many years of her life had been spent in sweet intercourse,
as she had hoped to find her. The girlish warmth of feelings had
given place to a cold worldliness that repelled instead of
attracting her. She had loved, and suffered much; had passed through
many trials, and entered through many opening doors into new
experiences, during the years since their ways parted. And she had
come to this old, dear friend, yearning for that heart
intercourse,--that reading together of some of the pages of their
books of life,--which she felt almost as a necessity. What interest
had she for the mere externals of Mary's life? None! None! And the
constant reference thereto, by her cousin, seemed like a
desecration. Careful and troubled about the little things of life,
she found the dear old friend of her girlish days, to whom she had
come hopefully, as to one who could comprehend, as in earlier years,
the feelings, thoughts, and aspirations which had grown stronger,
deeper, and of wider range.
Alas! Alas! How was the fine gold dimmed in her eyes!
"Dear Mary!" she said to her cousin, on the morning of the day that
was, to end her visit,--they were sitting, together in the little
parlor, and Mrs. Cartwright had referred, for the fortieth time, to
the unshaded windows, and declared herself mortified to death at the
appearance of things,--"Dear Mary! It was to see you, not your
furniture, that I came. To look into your heart and feel it beating
against mine as of old; not to pry, curiously, into your ways of
living, nor to compare your house-furnishing with my own. But for
your constant reference to these things, I should not have noticed,
particularly, how your house was attired; and if asked about them,
could only have answered, 'She's living very nicely.' Forgive me for
this plain speech, dear cousin. I did not mean to give utterance to
such language; but the words are spoken now, and cannot be
Mrs. Cartwright, if not really offended, was mortified and rebuked
and these states of feeling united with pride, served to give
coldness to her exterior. She tried to be cordial in manner towards
her cousin; to seem as if she had not felt her words; but this was
impossible, for she had felt them too deeply. She saw that the
cherished friend and companion of her girlhood was disappointed in
her; that she had come to look into her heart, and not into the
attiring of her home; and was going away with diminished affection.
After years of divergence, their paths had touched; and, separating
once more, she felt that they would never run parallel again.
A few hours later, cousin Sally gave her a parting kiss. How
different in warmth to the kiss of meeting! Very sad, very
dissatisfied with herself,--very unhappy did Mrs. Cartwright feel, as
she sat musing alone after her relative had departed. She was
conscious of having lost a friend forever, because she had not risen
to the higher level to which that friend had attained--not in
external, but in the true internal life.
But a sharper mortification was in store for her. The letter of her
husband's friend, in which he had returned the due bill for one
hundred dollars, fell accidentally into her hands, and overwhelmed
her with consternation. For that new carpet, which had failed to win
more than a few extorted sentences of praise from cousin Sally Gray,
her husband had lost the esteem of one of his oldest and best
friends, and was now suffering, in silence, the most painful trial
of his life.
Poor, weak woman! Instead of the pleasure she had hoped to gain in
the possession of this carpet, it had made her completely wretched.
While sitting almost stupefied with the pressure that was on her
feelings, a neighbor called in, and she went down to the parlor to
"What a lovely carpet!" said the neighbor, in real admiration.
"Where did you buy it?"
"At Martin's," was answered.
"Had they any more of the same pattern?" inquired the neighbor.
"This was the last piece."
The neighbor was sorry. It was the most beautiful pattern she had
ever seen; and she would hunt the city over but what she would find
another just like it.
"You may have this one," said Mrs Cartwright, on the impulse of the
moment. "My husband doesn't particularly fancy it. Your parlor is
exactly the size of mine. It is all made and bound nicely as you can
see; and this work on it shall cost you nothing. We paid a little
over fifty dollars for the carpet before a stitch was taken in it;
and fifty dollars will make you the possessor."
"Are you really in earnest?" said the neighbor.
"Never more so in my life."
"It is a bargain, then."
"When can I have it?"
"Just as soon as I can rip it from the floor," said Mrs. Cartwright,
in real earnest.
"Go to work," replied the neighbor, laughing out at the novelty of
the affair. "Before your task is half done, I will be back with the
fifty dollars, and a man to carry home the carpet."
And so she was. In less than half an hour after the sale was made,
in this off-hand fashion, Mrs. Cartwright sat alone in her parlor,
looking down upon the naked floor. But she had five ten-dollar gold
pieces in her hand, and they were of more value in her eyes than
twenty carpets. Not long did she sit musing here. There was other
work to do. The old carpet must be replaced upon the parlor floor
ere her husband's return. And it was replaced. In the midst of her
hurried operations the old blinds with the new hangings came in, and
were put up to the windows. When Mr. Cartwright returned home, and
stepped inside of the little parlor, where he found his wife
awaiting him, he gave an exclamation of surprise.
"Why, Mary! What is the meaning of this? Where is the new carpet?"
She laid the five gold pieces in his hand, and then looked
earnestly, and with tears in her eyes, upon his wondering face.
"What are these, Mary? Where did they come from?"
"Cousin Sally is gone. The carpet didn't seem attractive in her
eyes, and it has lost all beauty in mine. So I sold the unlovely
thing, and here is the money. Take it, dear Henry, and let it serve
the purpose for which it was designed."
"All right again!" exclaimed Mr. Cartwright, as soon as the whole
matter was clear to him. "All right, Mary, dear! That carpet, had it
remained, would have wrecked, I fear, the happiness of our home. Ah,
let us consult only our own eyes hereafter, Mary--not the eyes of
other people! None think the better of us for what we seem--only for
what we are. It is not from fine furniture that our true pleasure in
life is to come, but from a consciousness of right-doing. Let the
inner life be right, and the outer life will surely be in just
harmony. In the humble abode of virtue there is more real happiness
than in the palace-homes of the unjust, the selfish, and
wrong-doers. The sentiment is old as the world, but it must come to
every heart, at some time in life, with all the force of an original
utterance. And let it so come to us now, dear wife!"
And thus it did come. This little experience showed them an aspect
of things that quickened their better reasons, and its smart
remained long enough to give it the power of a monitor in all their
after lives. They never erred again in this wise. For two or three
years more the old carpet did duty in their neat little parlor, and
when it was at last replaced by a new one, the change was made for
their own eyes, and not for the eyes of another.