Part 2 out of 5
village, at fifty dollars an acre. Its present value was about three
hundred dollars an acre. After a good deal of talk on both sides,
Smith finally agreed to sell the particular lot pitched upon. The
next thing was to arrange as to price.
"At what do you hold this ground per acre?"
It was some time before Smith answered this question. His eyes were
cast upon the floor, and earnestly did he enter into debate with
himself as to the value he should place upon the lot. At first he
thought of five hundred dollars per acre. But his cupidity soon
caused him to advance on that sum, although, a month before, he
would have caught at such an offer. Then he advanced to six, to
seven, and to eight hundred. And still he felt undecided.
"I can get my own price," said he to himself. "The city has to pay,
and I might just as well get a large sum as a small one."
"For what price will you sell?" The question was repeated.
"I must have a good price."
"We are willing to pay what is fair and right."
"Of course. No doubt you have fixed a limit to which you will go."
"Not exactly that," said one of the gentlemen.
"Are you prepared to make an offer?"
"We are prepared to hear your price, and to make a report thereon,"
"That's a very valuable lot of ground," said Smith.
"Name your price," returned one of the committeemen, a little
Thus brought up to the point, Smith, after thinking hurriedly for a
few moments, said--
"One thousand dollars an acre."
Both the men shook their heads in a very positive way. Smith said
that it was the lowest he would take; and so the conference ended.
At the next meeting of the city councils, a report on the town lot
was made, and the extraordinary demand of Smith canvassed. It was
unanimously decided not to make the proposed purchase.
When this decision reached the landholder, he was considerably
disappointed. He wanted money badly, and would have "jumped at" two
thousand dollars for the five acre lot, if satisfied that it would
bring no more. But when the city came forward as a purchaser, his
cupidity was subjected to a very strong temptation. He believed that
he could get five thousand dollars as easily as two; and quieted his
conscience by the salvo--"An article is always worth what it will
A week or two went by, and Smith was about calling upon one of the
members of the council, to say that, if the city really wanted the
lot he would sell at their price, leaving it with the council to act
justly and generously, when a friend said to him,
"I hear that the council had the subject of a public square under
consideration again this morning."
"Indeed!" Smith was visibly excited, though he tried to appear calm.
"Yes; and I also hear that they have decided to pay the extravagant
price you asked for a lot of ground at the north end of the city."
"A thousand dollars an acre?"
"Its real value, and not cent more," said Smith.
"People differ about that. How ever, you are lucky," the friend
replied. "The city is able to pay."
"So I think. And I mean they shall pay."
Before the committee, to whom the matter was given in charge, had
time to call upon Smith, and close with him for the lot, that
gentleman had concluded in his own mind that it would be just as
easy to get twelve hundred dollars an acre as a thousand. It was
plain that the council were bent upon having the ground, and would
pay a round sum for it. It was just the spot for a public square;
and the city must become the owner. So, when he was called upon, by
the gentlemen, and they said to him,
"We are authorized to pay you your price," he promptly answered,
"The offer is no longer open. You declined it when it was made. My
price for that property is now twelve hundred dollars an acre."
The men offered remonstrance; but it was of no avail. Smith believed
that he could get six thousand dollars for the ground as easily as
five thousand. The city must have the lot, and would pay almost any
"I hardly think it right, Mr. Smith," said one of his visiters, "for
you to take such an advantage. This square is for the public good."
"Let the public pay, then," was the unhesitating answer. "The public
is able enough."
"The location of this park, at the north end of the city, will
greatly improve the value of your other property."
This Smith understood very well. But he replied,
"I am not so sure of that. I have some very strong doubts on the
subject. It's my opinion, that the buildings I contemplated erecting
will be far more to my advantage. Be that as it may, however, I am
decided in selling for nothing less than six thousand dollars."
"We are only authorized to pay five thousand," replied the
committee. "If you agree to take that sum, will close the bargain on
Five thousand dollars was a large sum of money, and Smith felt
strongly tempted to close in with the liberal offer. But six
thousand loomed up before his imagination still more temptingly.
"I can get it," said he to himself; "and the property is worth what
it will bring."
So he positively declined to sell it at a thousand dollars per acre.
"At twelve hundred you will sell?" remarked one of the committee, as
they were about retiring.
"Yes. I will take twelve hundred the acre. That is the lowest rate,
and I am not anxious even at that price. I can do quite as well by
keeping it in my own possession. But, as you seem so bent on having
it, I will not stand in your way. When will the council meet again?"
"Not until next week."
"Very well. If they then accept my offer, all will be right. But,
understand me; if they do not accept, the offer no longer remains
open. It is a matter of no moment to me which way the thing goes."
It was a matter of moment to Smith, for all this assertion--a matter
of very great moment. He had several thousand dollars to pay in the
course of the next few months on land purchases, and no way to meet
the payments, except by mortgages, or sales of property; and, it may
naturally be concluded, that he suffered considerable uneasiness
during the time which passed until the next meeting of the council.
Of course, the grasping disposition shown by Smith, became the town
talk; and people said a good many hard things of him. Little,
however, did he care, so that he secured six thousand dollars for a
lot not worth more than two thousand.
Among other residents and property holders in the town, was a
simple-minded, true-hearted, honest man, named Jones. His father had
left him a large farm, a goodly portion of which, in process of
time, came to be included in the limits of the new city; and he
found a much more profitable employment in selling building lots
than in tilling the soil. The property of Mr. Jones lay at the west
side of the town.
Now, when Mr. Jones heard of the exorbitant demand made by Smith for
a five acre lot, his honest heart throbbed with a feeling of
"I couldn't have believed it of him," said he. "Six thousand
dollars! Preposterous! Why, I would give the city a lot of twice the
size, and do it with pleasure."
"You would?" said a member of the council, who happened to hear this
"Certainly I would."
"You are really in earnest?"
"Undoubtedly. Go and select a public square from any of my
unappropriated land on the west side of the city, and I will pass
you the title as a free gift to-morrow, and feel pleasure in doing
"That is public spirit," said the councilman.
"Call it what you will. I am pleased in making the offer."
Now, let it not be supposed that Mr. Jones was shrewdly calculating
the advantage which would result to him from having a park at the
west side of the city. No such thought had yet entered his mind. He
spoke from the impulse of a generous feeling.
Time passed on, and the session day of the council came round--a day
to which Smith had looked forward with no ordinary feelings of
interest, that were touched at times by the coldness of doubt, and
the agitation of uncertainty. Several times he had more than half
repented of his refusal to accept the liberal offer of five thousand
dollars, and of having fixed so positively upon six thousand as the
The morning of the day passed, and Smith began to grow uneasy. He
did not venture to seek for information as to the doings of the
council, for that would be to expose the anxiety he felt in the
result of their deliberations. Slowly the afternoon wore away, and
it so happened that Smith did not meet any one of the councilmen;
nor did he even know whether the council was still in session or
not. As to making allusion to the subject of his anxious interest to
any one, that was carefully avoided; for he knew that his exorbitant
demand was the town talk--and he wished to affect the most perfect
indifference on the subject.
The day closed, and not a whisper about the town lot had come to the
ears of Mr. Smith. What could it mean? Had his offer to sell at six
thousand been rejected? The very thought caused his heart to grow
heavy in his bosom. Six, seven, eight o'clock came, and still it was
all dark with Mr. Smith. He could bear the suspense no longer, and
so determined to call upon his neighbour Wilson, who was a member of
the council, and learn from him what had been done.
So he called on Mr. Wilson.
"Ah, friend Smith," said the latter; "how are you this evening?"
"Well, I thank you," returned Smith, feeling a certain oppression of
the chest. "How are you?"
"Oh, very well."
Here there was a pause. After which Smith said, "About that ground
of mine. What did you do?"
"Nothing," replied Wilson, coldly.
"Nothing, did you say?" Smith's voice was a little husky.
"No. You declined our offer; or, rather, the high price fixed by
yourself upon the land."
"You refused to buy it at five thousand, when it was offered," said
"I know we did, because your demand was exorbitant."
"Oh, no, not at all," returned Smith quickly.
"In that we only differ," said Wilson. "However, the council has
decided not to pay you the price you ask."
"There was not a dissenting voice."
Smith began to feel more and more uncomfortable.
"I might take something less," he ventured to say, in a low,
"It is too late now," was Mr. Wilson's prompt reply.
"Too late! How so?"
"We have procured a lot."
"Mr. Wilson!" Poor Smith started to his feet in chagrin and
"Yes; we have taken one of Jones's lots on the west side of the
city. A beautiful ten acre lot."
"You have!" Smith was actually pale.
"We have; and the title deeds are now being made out."
It was some time before Smith had sufficiently recovered from the
stunning effect of this unlooked-for intelligence, to make the
"And pray how much did Jones ask for his ten acre lot."
"He presented it to the city as a gift," replied the councilman.
"A gift! What folly!"
"No, not folly--but true worldly wisdom; though I believe Jones did
not think of advantage to himself when he generously made the offer.
He is worth twenty thousand dollars more to-day than he was
yesterday, in the simple advanced value of his land for building
lots. And I know of no man in this town whose good fortune affects
me with more pleasure."
Smith stole back to his home with a mountain of disappointment on
his heart. In his cupidity he had entirely overreached himself, and
he saw that the consequences were to react upon all his future
prosperity. The public square at the west end of the town would draw
improvements in that direction, all the while increasing the wealth
of Mr. Jones, while lots at the north end would remain at present
prices, or, it might be, take a downward range.
And so it proved. In ten years, Jones was the richest man in the
town, while half of Smith's property had been sold for taxes. The
five acre lot passed from his hands, under the hammer, in the
foreclosure of a mortgage, for one thousand dollars!
Thus it is that inordinate selfishness and cupidity overreach
themselves; while the liberal man deviseth liberal things, and is
THE SUNBEAM AND THE RAINDROP.
A SUNBEAM and a raindrop met together in the sky
One afternoon in sunny June, when earth was parched and dry;
Each quarrelled for the precedence ('twas so the story ran),
And the golden sunbeam, warmly, the quarrel thus began:--
"What were the earth without me? I come with beauty bright,
She smiles to hail my presence, and rejoices in my light;
I deck the hill and valley with many a lovely hue,
I give the rose its blushes, and the violet its blue.
"I steal within the window, and through the cottage door,
And my presence like a blessing gilds with smiles the broad earth o'er;
The brooks and streams flow dancing and sparkling in my ray,
And the merry, happy children in the golden sunshine play."
Then the tearful raindrop answered--"Give praise where praise is due,
The earth indeed were lonely without a smile from you;
But without my visits, also, its beauty would decay,
The flowers droop and wither, and the streamlets dry away.
"I give the flowers their freshness, and you their colours gay,
My jewels would not sparkle, without your sunny ray.
Since each upon the other so closely must depend,
Let us seek the earth together, and our common blessings blend."
The raindrops, and the sunbeams, came laughing down to earth,
And it woke once more to beauty, and to myriad tones of mirth;
The river and the streamlet went dancing on their way,
And the raindrops brightly sparkled in the sunbeam's golden ray.
The drooping flowers looked brighter, there was fragrance in the air,
The earth seemed new created, there was gladness everywhere;
And above the dark clouds, gleaming on the clear blue arch of Heaven,
The Rainbow, in its beauty, like a smile of love was given.
'Twas a sweet and simple lesson, which the story told, I thought,
Not alone and single-handed our kindliest deeds are wrought;
Like the sunbeam and the raindrop, work together, while we may,
And the bow of Heaven's own promise shall smile upon our way.
A PLEA FOR SOFT WORDS.
STRANGE and subtle are the influences which affect the spirit and
touch the heart. Are there bodiless creatures around us, moulding
our thoughts into darkness or brightness, as they will? Whence,
otherwise, come the shadow and the sunshine, for which we can
discern no mortal agency?
Oftener, As we grow older, come the shadows; less frequently the,
sunshine. Ere I took up my pen, I was sitting with a pleasant
company of friends, listening to music, and speaking, with the rest,
Suddenly, I knew not why, my heart was wrapt away in an atmosphere
of sorrow. A sense of weakness and unworthiness weighed me down, and
I felt the moisture gather to my eyes and my lips tremble, though
they kept the smile.
All my past life rose up before me, and all my short-comings--all,
my mistakes, and all my wilful wickedness, seemed pleading
trumpet-tongued against me.
I saw her before me whose feet trod with mine the green holts and
meadows, when the childish thought strayed not beyond the near or
the possible. I saw her through the long blue distances, clothed in
the white beauty of an angel; but, alas! she drew her golden hair
across her face to veil from her vision the sin-darkened creature
whose eyes dropped heavily to the hem of her robe!
O pure and beautiful one, taken to peace ere the weak temptation had
lifted itself up beyond thy stature, and compelled thee to listen,
to oppose thy weakness to its strength, and to fall--sometimes, at
least, let thy face shine on me from between the clouds. Fresh from
the springs of Paradise, shake from thy wings the dew against my
forehead. We two were coming up together through the sweet land of
poesy and dreams, where the senses believe what the heart hopes; our
hands were full of green boughs, and our laps of cowslips and
violets, white and purple. We were talking of that more beautiful
world into which childhood was opening out, when that spectre met
us, feared and dreaded alike by the strong man and the little child,
and one was taken, and the other left.
One was caught away sinless to the bosom of the Good Shepherd, and
one was left to weep pitiless tears, to eat the bread of toil, and
to think the bitter thoughts of misery,--left "to clasp a phantom
and to find it air." For often has the adversary pressed me sore,
and out of my arms has slid ever that which my soul pronounced good:
slid out of my arms and coiled about my feet like a serpent,
dragging me back and holding me down from all that is high and
Pity me, dear one, if thy sweet sympathies can come out of the
glory, if the lovelight of thy beautiful life can press through the
cloud and the evil, and fold me again as a garment; pity and plead
for me with the maiden mother whose arms in human sorrow and human
love cradled our blessed Redeemer.
She hath known our mortal pain and passion--our more than mortal
triumph--she hath heard the "blessed art thou among women." My
unavailing prayers goldenly syllabled by her whose name sounds from
the manger through all the world, may find acceptance with Him who,
though our sins be as scarlet, can wash them white as wool.
Our hearts grew together as one, and along the headlands and the
valleys one shadow went before us, and one shadow followed us, till
the grave gaped hungry and terrible, and I was alone. Faltering in
fear, but lingering in love, I knelt by the deathbed--it was the
middle night, and the first moans of the autumn came down from the
hills, for the frost specks glinted on her golden robes, and the
wind blew chill in her bosom. Heaven was full of stars, and the
half-moon scattered abroad her beauty like a silver rain. Many have
been the middle nights since then, for years lie between me and that
fearfulest of all watches; but a shadow, a sound, or a thought,
turns the key of the dim chamber, and the scene is reproduced.
I see the long locks on the pillow, the smile on the ashen lips, the
thin, cold fingers faintly pressing my own, and hear the broken
voice saying, "I am going now. I am not afraid. Why weep ye? Though
I were to live the full time allotted to man, I should not be more
ready, nor more willing than now." But over this there comes a
shudder and a groan that all the mirthfulness of the careless was
impotent to drown.
Three days previous to the death-night, three days previous to the
transit of the soul from the clayey tabernacle to the house not;
made with hands--from dishonour to glory--let me turn theme over as
so many leaves.
The first of the November mornings, but the summer had tarried late,
and the wood to the south of our homestead lifted itself like a
painted wall against the sky--the squirrel was leaping nimbly and
chattering gayly among the fiery tops of the oaks or the dun foliage
of the hickory, that shot up its shelving trunk and spread its
forked branches far over the smooth, moss-spotted boles of the
beeches, and the limber boughs of the elms. Lithe and blithe he was,
for his harvest was come.
From the cracked beech-burs was dropping the sweet, angular fruit,
and down from the hickory boughs with every gust fell a shower of
nuts--shelling clean and silvery from their thick black hulls.
Now and then, across the stubble-field, with long cars erect, leaped
the gray hare, but for the most part he kept close in his burrow,
for rude huntsmen were on the hills with their dogs, and only when
the sharp report of a rifle rung through the forest, or the hungry
yelping of some trailing hound startled his harmless slumber, might
you see at the mouth of his burrow the quivering lip and great timid
Along the margin of the creek, shrunken now away from the blue and
gray and yellowish stones that made its cool pavement, and projected
in thick layers from the shelving banks, the white columns of
gigantic sycamores leaped earthward, their bases driven, as it
seemed, deep into the ground--all their convolutions of roots buried
out, of view. Dropping into the stagnant waters below, came one by
one the broad, rose-tinted leaves, breaking the shadows of the
Ruffling and widening to the edges of the pools went the circles, as
the pale, yellow walnuts plashed into their midst; for here, too,
grew the parent trees, their black bark cut and jagged and broken
into rough diamond work.
That beautiful season was come when
"Rustic girls in hoods
Go gleaning through the woods."
Two days after this, we said, my dear mate and I, we shall have a
holiday, and from sunrise till sunset, with our laps full of ripe
nuts and orchard fruits, we shall make pleasant pastime.
Rosalie, for so I may call her, was older than I, with a face of
beauty and a spirit that never flagged. But to-day there was
heaviness in her eyes, and a flushing in her cheek that was deeper
than had been there before.
Still she spoke gayly, and smiled the old smile, for the gaunt form
of sickness had never been among us children, and we knew not how
his touch made the head sick and the heart faint.
The day looked forward to so anxiously dawned at last; but in the
dim chamber of Rosalie the light fell sad. I must go alone.
We had always been together before, at work and in play, asleep and
awake, and I lingered long ere I would be persuaded to leave her;
but when she smiled and said the fresh-gathered nuts and shining
apples would make her glad, I wiped her forehead, and turning
quickly away that she might not see my tears, was speedily wading
through winrows of dead leaves.
The sensations of that day I shall never forget; a vague and
trembling fear of some coming evil, I knew not what, made me often
start as the shadows drifted past me, or a bough crackled beneath my
From the low, shrubby hawthorns, I gathered the small red apples,
and from beneath the maples, picked by their slim golden stems the
notched and gorgeous leaves. The wind fingered playfully my hair,
and clouds of birds went whirring through the tree-tops; but no
sight nor sound could divide my thoughts from her whose voice had so
often filled with music these solitary places.
I remember when first the fear distinctly defined itself. I was
seated on a mossy log, counting the treasures which I had been
gathering, when the clatter of hoof-strokes on the clayey and
hard-beaten road arrested my attention, and, looking up--for the
wood thinned off in the direction of the highway, and left it
distinctly in view--I saw Doctor H----, the physician, in attendance
upon my sick companion. The visit was an unseasonable one. She, whom
I loved so, might never come with me to the woods any more.
Where the hill sloped to the roadside, and the trees, as I said,
were but few, was the village graveyard. No friend of mine, no one
whom I had ever known or loved, was buried there--yet with a child's
instinctive dread of death, I had ever passed its shaggy solitude
(for shrubs and trees grew there wild and unattended) with a hurried
step and averted face.
Now, for the first time in my life, I walked voluntarily
thitherward, and climbing on a log by the fence-side, gazed long and
earnestly within. I stood beneath a tall locust-tree, and the small,
round leaves; yellow now as the long cloud-bar across the sunset,
kept dropping, and dropping at my feet, till all the faded grass was
covered up. There the mattock had never been struck; but in fancy I
saw the small Heaves falling and drifting about a new and
smooth-shaped mound--and, choking with the turbulent outcry in my
heart, I glided stealthily homeward--alas! to find the boding shape
I had seen through mists and, shadows awfully palpable. I did not
ask about Rosalie. I was afraid; but with my rural gleanings in my
lap, opened the door of her chamber. The physician had preceded me
but a moment, and, standing by the bedside, was turning toward the
lessening light the little wasted hand, the one on which I had
noticed in the morning a small purple spot. "Mortification!" he
said, abruptly, and moved away, as though his work were done.
There was a groan expressive of the sudden and terrible
consciousness which had in it the agony of agonies--the giving up of
all. The gift I had brought fell from my relaxed grasp, and, hiding
my face in the pillow, I gave way to the passionate sorrow of an
When at last I looked up, there was a smile on her lips that no
faintest moan ever displaced again.
A good man and a skilful physician was Dr. H----, but his infirmity
was a love of strong drink; and, therefore, was it that he softened
not the terrible blow which must soon have fallen. I link with his
memory no reproaches now, for all this is away down in the past; and
that foe that sooner or later biteth like a serpent, soon did his
work; but then my breaking heart judged him, hardly. Often yet, for
in all that is saddest memory is faithfulest, I wake suddenly out of
sleep, and live over that first and bitterest sorrow of my life; and
there is no house of gladness in the world that with a whisper will
not echo the moan of lips pale with the kisses of death.
Sometimes, when life is gayest about me, an unseen hand leads me
apart, and opening the door of that still chambers I go in--the
yellow leaves are at my feet again, and that white band between me
and the light.
I see the blue flames quivering and curling close and the
smouldering embers on the hearth. I hear soft footsteps and sobbing
voices and see the clasped hands and placid smile of her who, alone
among us all, was untroubled; and over the darkness and the pain I
hear voice, saying, "She is not dead, but sleepeth." Would, dear
reader, that you might remember, and I too all ways, the importance
of soft and careful words. One harsh or even thoughtlessly chosen
epithet, may bear with it a weight which shall weigh down some heart
through all life. There are for us all nights of sorrow, in which we
feel their value. Help us, our Father, to remember it!
MR. QUERY'S INVESTIGATION.
"HE is a good man, suppose, and an excellent doctor," said Mrs.
Salina Simmons, with a dubious shake of her head but----"
"But what, Mrs. Simmons?"
"They say he _drinks!_"
"No, impossible!" exclaimed Mr. Josiah Query, with emphasis.
"Impossible? I hope so," said Mrs. Simmons. "And--mind you, I don't
say he _drinks_, but that such is the report. And I have it upon
tolerably good authority, too, Mr. Query."
"Oh, I couldn't tell that: for you know I never like to make
mischief. I can only say that the _report_ is--he drinks."
Mr. Josiah Query scratched his head.
"Can it be that Dr. Harvey drinks?" he murmured. "I thought him pure
Son of Temperance. And his my family physician, too! I must look
into this matter forthwith. Mrs. Simmons, you still decline slating
who is your authority for this report?"
Mrs. Simmons was firm; her companion could gain no satisfaction. She
soon compelled him to promise that he would not mention her name, if
he spoke of the affair elsewhere, repeating her remark that she
never liked to make mischief.
Dr. Harvey was a physician residing in a small village, where he
shared the profits of practice with another doctor, named Jones. Dr.
Harvey was generally liked and among his friends was Mr. Josiah
Query, whom Mrs. Simmons shocked with the bit of gossip respecting
the doctor's habits of intemperance. Mr. Query was a good-hearted
man, and he deemed it his duty to inquire into the nature of the
report, and learn if it had any foundation in truth. Accordingly, be
went to Mr. Green, who also employed the doctor in his family.
"Mr. Green," said he, "have you heard anything about this report of
Dr. Harvey's intemperance?"
"Dr. Harvey's intemperance?" cried Mr. Green, astonished.
"Yes--a flying report."
"No, I'm sure I haven't."
"Of course, then, you don't know whether it is true or not?"
"That he drinks."
"I never heard of it before. Dr. Harvey is my family physician, and
I certainly would not employ a man addicted to the use of ardent
"Nor I," said Mr. Query "and for this reason, and for the doctor's
sake, too, I want to know the truth of the matter. I don't really
credit it myself; but I thought it would do no harm to inquire."
Mr. Query next applied to Squire Worthy for information.
"Dear me!" exclaimed the squire, who was a nervous man; "does Dr.
"Such is the rumour; how true it is, I can't say."
"And what if he should give one of my family a dose of arsenic
instead of the tincture of rhubarb, some time, when he is
intoxicated? My mind is made up now. I shall send for Dr. Jones in
"But, dear sir," remonstrated Mr. Query. "I don't say the report is
"Oh, no; you wouldn't wish to commit yourself. You like to know the
safe side, and so do I. I shall employ Dr. Jones."
Mr. Query turned sorrowfully away.
"Squire Worthy must have bad suspicions of the doctor's intemperance
before I came to him," thought he; "I really begin to fear that
there is some foundation for the report. I'll go to Mrs. Mason; she
Mr. Query found Mrs. Mason ready to listen to and believe any
scandal. She gave her head a significant toss, as if she knew more
about the report than she chose to confess.
Mr. Query begged of her to explain herself.
"Oh, _I_ sha'n't say anything," exclaimed Mrs. Mason; "I've no ill
will against Dr. Harvey, and I'd rather cut off my right hand than
"But is the report true?"
"True, Mr. Query? Do you suppose _I_ ever saw Dr. Harvey drunk? Then
how can you expect me to know? Oh, I don't wish to say anything
against the man, and I won't."
After visiting Mrs. Mason, Mr. Query went to half a dozen others to
learn the truth respecting Dr. Harvey's habits. Nobody would confess
that they knew anything, about his drinking; but Mr. Smith "was not
as much surprised as others might be;" Mr. Brown "was sorry if the
report was true," adding, that the best of men had their faults.
Miss Single had frequently remarked the doctor's florid complexion,
and wondered if his colour was natural; Mr. Clark remembered that
the doctor appeared unusually gay, on the occasion of his last visit
to his family; Mrs. Rogers declared that, when she came to reflect,
she believed she had once or twice smelt the man's breath; and Mr.
Impulse had often seen him riding at an extraordinary rate for a
sober Gentleman. Still Mr. Query was unable to ascertain any
definite facts respecting the unfavourable report.
Meanwhile, with his usual industry, Dr. Harvey went about his
business, little suspecting the scandalous gossip that was
circulating to his discredit. But he soon perceived he was very
coldly received by some of his old friends, and that others employed
Dr. Jones. Nobody sent for him, and he might have begun to think
that the health of the town was entirely re-established, had he not
observed that his rival appeared driven with business, and that he
rode night and day.
One evening Dr. Harvey sat in his office, wondering what could have
occasioned the sudden and surprising change in his affairs, when,
contrary to his expectations, he received a call to visit a sick
child of one of his old friends, who had lately employed his rival.
After some hesitation, and a struggle between pride and a sense of
duty, he resolved to respond to the call, and at the same time
learn, if possible, why he had been preferred to Dr. Jones, and why
Dr. Jones had on other occasions been preferred to him.
"The truth is, Dr. Harvey," said Mr. Miles, "we thought the child
dangerously ill, and as Dr. Jones could not come immediately, we
concluded to send for you."
"I admire your frankness," responded Dr. Harvey, smiling; "and shall
admire it still more, if you will inform me why you have lately
preferred Dr. Jones to me. Formerly I had the honour of enjoying
your friendship and esteem, and you have frequently told me
yourself, that you would trust no other physician."
"Well," replied Mr. Miles, "I am a plain man, and never hesitate to
tell people what they wish to know. I sent for Dr. Jones instead of
you, I confess not that I doubted your skill--"
"It is a delicate subject, but I will, nevertheless, speak out.
Although I had the utmost confidence in your skill and
faithfulness--I--you know, I--in short, I don't like to trust a
physician who drinks."
"Sir!" cried the astonished doctor.
"Yes--drinks," pursued Mr. Miles. "It is plain language, but I am a
plain man. I heard of your intemperance, and thought it unsafe--that
is, dangerous--to employ you."
"My intemperance!" ejaculated Dr. Harvey.
"Yes, sir! and I am sorry to know it. But the fact that you
sometimes drink a trifle too much is now a well known fact, and is
generally talked of in the village."
"Mr. Miles," cried the indignant doctor, "this is scandalous--it is
false! Who is your authority for this report?"
"Oh, I have heard it from several mouths but I can't say exactly who
is responsible for the rumour."
And Mr. Miles went on to mention several names, as connected with
the rumour, and among which was that of Mr. Query.
The indignant doctor immediately set out on a pilgrimage of
investigation, going from one house to another, in search of the
author of the scandal.
Nobody, however, could state where it originated, but it was
universally admitted that the man from whose lips it was first
heard, was Mr. Query.
Accordingly Dr. Harvey hastened to Mr. Query's house, and demanded
of that gentleman what he meant by circulating such scandal.
"My dear doctor," cried Mr. Query, his face beaming with conscious
innocence, "_I_ haven't been guilty of any mis-statement about you,
I can take my oath. I heard that there was a report of your
drinking, and all I did was to tell people I didn't believe it, nor
know anything about it, and to inquire were it originated. Oh, I
assure you, doctor, I haven't slandered you in any manner."
"You are a poor fool!" exclaimed Dr. Harvey, perplexed and angry.
"If you had gone about town telling everybody that you saw me drunk,
daily, you couldn't have slandered me more effectually than you
"Oh, I beg your pardon," cried Mr. Query, very sad; "but I thought I
was doing you a service!"
"Save me from my friends!" exclaimed the doctor, bitterly. "An
_enemy_ could not have done me as much injury as you have done. But
I now insist on knowing who first mentioned the report to you."
"Oh, I am not at liberty to say that."
"Then I shall hold you responsible for the scandal--for the base
lies you have circulated. But if you are really an honest man, and
my friend, you will not hesitate to tell me where this report
After some reflection, Mr. Query, who stood in mortal fear of the
indignant doctor, resolved to reveal the secret, and mentioned the
name of his informant, Mrs. Simmons. As Dr. Harvey had not heard her
spoken of before, as connected with the report of his intemperance,
he knew very well that Mr. Query's "friendly investigations" had
been the sole cause of his loss of practice. However, to go to the
roots of this Upas tree of scandal, he resolved to pay an immediate
visit to Mrs. Simmons.
This lady could deny nothing; but she declared that she had not
given the rumour as a fact, and that she had never spoken of it
except to Mr. Query. Anxious to throw the responsibility of the
slander upon others, she eagerly confessed that, on a certain
occasion upon entering a room in which were Mrs. Guild and Mrs.
Harmless, she overheard one of these ladies remark that "Dr. Harvey
drank more than ever," and the other reply, that "she had heard him
say he could not break himself, although he knew his health suffered
Thus set upon the right track, Dr. Harvey visited Mrs. Guild and
Mrs. Harmless without delay.
"Mercy on us!" exclaimed those ladies, when questioned respecting
the matter, "we perfectly remember talking about your _drinking
coffee_, and making such remarks as you have heard through Mrs.
Simmons. But with regard to your _drinking liquor_, we never heard
the report until a week ago, and never believed it at all."
As what these ladies had said of his _coffee-drinking_ propensities
was perfectly true, Dr. Harvey readily acquitted them of any designs
against his character for sobriety, and well satisfied with having
at last discovered the origin of the rumour, returned to the
friendly Mr. Query.
The humiliation of this gentleman was so deep, that Dr. Harvey
avoided reproaches, and confined himself to a simple narrative of
"I see, it is all my fault," said Mr. Query. "And I will do anything
to remedy it. I never could believe you drank--and now I'll go and
tell everybody that the report _was_ false."
"Oh! bless you," cried the doctor, "I wouldn't have you do so for
the world. All I ask of you, is to say nothing whatever on the
subject, and if you ever again hear a report of the kind, don't make
it a subject of friendly investigation."
Mr. Query promised; and, after the truth was known, and, Dr. Harvey
had regained the good-will of the community, together with his share
of medical practice, he never had reason again to exclaim--"Save me
from my friends!" And Mr. Query was in future exceedingly careful
how he attempted to make friendly investigations.
ROOM IN THE WORLD.
THERE is room in the world for the wealthy and great,
For princes to reign in magnificent state;
For the courtier to bend, for the noble to sue,
If the hearts of all these are but honest and true.
And there's room in the world for the lowly and meek,
For the hard horny hand, and the toil-furrow'd cheek;
For the scholar to think, for the merchant to trade,
So these are found upright and just in their grade.
But room there is none for the wicked; and nought
For the souls that with teeming corruption are fraught.
The world would be small, were its oceans all land,
To harbour and feed such a pestilent band.
Root out from among ye, by teaching the mind,
By training the heart, this chief curse of mankind!
'Tis a duty you owe to the forthcoming race--
Confess it in time, and discharge it with grace!
"THE foolish thing!" said my Aunt Rachel, speaking warmly, "to get
hurt at a mere word. It's a little hard that people can't open their
lips but somebody is offended."
"Words are things!" said I, smiling.
"Very light things! A person must be tender indeed, that is hurt by
"The very lightest thing may hurt, if it falls on a tender place."
"I don't like people who have these tender places," said Aunt
Rachel. "I never get hurt at what is said to me. No--never! To be
ever picking and mincing, and chopping off your words--to be afraid
to say this or that--for fear somebody will be offended! I can't
"People who have these tender places can't help it, I suppose. This
being so, ought we not to regard their weakness?" said I. "Pain,
either of body or mind, is hard to bear, and we should not inflict
"People who are so wonderfully sensitive," replied Aunt Rachel,
growing warmer, "ought to shut themselves up at home, and not come
among sensible, good-tempered persons. As far as I am concerned, I
can tell them, one and all, that I am not going to pick out every
hard word from a sentence as carefully as I would seeds from a
raisin. Let them crack them with their teeth, if they are afraid to
swallow them whole."
Now, for all that Aunt Rachel went on after this strain, she was a
kind, good soul, in the main, and, I could see, was sorry for having
hurt the feelings of Mary Lane. But she didn't like to acknowledge
that she was in the wrong; that would detract too much from the
self-complacency with which she regarded herself. Knowing her
character very well, I thought it best not to continue the little
argument about the importance of words, and so changed the subject.
But, every now and then, Aunt Rachel would return to it, each time
softening a little towards Mary. At last she said,
"I'm sure it was a little thing. A very little thing. She might have
known that nothing unkind was intended on my part."
"There are some subjects, aunt," I replied, "to which we cannot bear
the slightest allusion. And a sudden reference to them is very apt
to throw us off of our guard. What you said to Mary has, in all
probability touched some weakness of character, or probed some wound
that time has not been able to heal. I have always thought her a
sensible, good-natured girl."
"And so have I. But I really cannot think that she has showed her
good sense or good nature in the present case. It is a very bad
failing this, of being over sensitive; and exceedingly annoying to
"It is, I know; but still, all of, us have a weak point, and to her
that is assailed, we are very apt to betray our feelings."
"Well, I say now, as I have always said--I don't like to have
anything to do with people who have these weak points. This being
hurt by a word, as if words were blows, is something that does not
come within the range of my sympathies."
"And yet, aunt," said I, "all have weak points. Even you are not
entirely free from them."
"Me!" Aunt Rachel bridled.
"Yes; and if even as light a thing as a word were to fall upon them,
you would suffer pain."
"Pray, sir," said Aunt Rachel, with much dignity of manner; she was
chafed by my words, light as they were, "inform me where these
weaknesses, of which you are pleased to speak, lie."
"Oh, no; you must excuse me. That would be very much out of place.
But I only stated a general fact that appertains to all of us."
Aunt Rachel looked very grave. I had laid the weight of words upon a
weakness of her character, and it had given her pain. That weakness
was a peculiarly good opinion of herself. I had made no allegation
against her; and there was none in my mind. My words simply
expressed the general truth that we all have weaknesses, and
included her in their application. But she imagined that I referred
to some particular defect or fault, and mail-proof as she was
against words, they had wounded her.
For a day or two Aunt Rachel remained more sober than was her wont.
I knew the cause, but did not attempt to remove from her mind any
impression my words had made. One day, about a week after, I said to
"Aunt Rachel, I saw Mary Lane's mother this morning."
"Ah?" The old lady looked up at me inquiringly.
"I don't wonder your words hurt the poor girl," I added.
"Why? What did I say?" quickly asked Aunt Rachel.
"You said that she was a jilt."
"But I was only jest, and she knew it. I did not really mean
anything. I'm surprised that Mary should be so foolish."
"You will not be surprised when you know all," was my answer.
"All? What all? I'm sure I wasn't in earnest. I didn't mean to hurt
the poor girl's feelings." My aunt looked very much troubled.
"No one blames you, Aunt Rachel," said I. "Mary knows you didn't
intend wounding her."
"But why should she take a little word go much to heart? It must
have had more truth in it than I supposed."
"Did you know that Mary refused an offer of marriage from Walter
Green last week?"
"Why no! It can't be possible! Refused Walter Green?"
"They've been intimate for a long time."
"She certainly encouraged him."
"I think it more than probable."
"Is it possible, then, that she did really jilt the young man?"
exclaimed Aunt Rachel.
"This has been said of her," I replied. "But so far as I can learn,
she was really attached to him, and sufferred great pain in
rejecting his offer. Wisely she regarded marriage as the most
important event of her life, and refused to make so solemn a
contract with one in whose principles she had not the fullest
"But she ought not to have encouraged Walter, if she did not intend
marrying him," said Aunt Rachel, with some warmth.
"She encouraged him so long as she thought well of him. A closer
view revealed points of character hidden by distance. When she saw
these her feelings were already deeply involved. But, like a true
woman, she turned from the proffered hand, even though while in
doing so her heart palpitated with pain. There is nothing false
about Mary Lane. She could no more trifle with a lover than she
could commit a crime. Think, then, how almost impossible it would be
for her to hear herself called, under existing circumstances, even
in sport, a jilt, without being hurt. Words sometimes have power to
hurt more than blows. Do you not see this, now, Aunt Rachel?"
"Oh, yes, yes. I see it; and I saw it before," said the old lady.
"And in future I will be more careful of my words. It is pretty late
in life to learn this lesson--but we are never too late to learn.
Poor Mary! It grieves me to think that I should have hurt her so
Yes, words often have in them a smarting force, and we cannot be too
guarded how we use them. "Think twice before you speak once," is a
trite but wise saying. We teach it to our children very carefully,
but are too apt to forget that it has not lost its application to
THE THANKLESS OFFICE.
"AN object of real charity," said Andrew Lyon to his wife, as a poor
woman withdrew from the room in which they were seated.
"If ever there was a worthy object she is one, returned Mrs. Lyon.
"A widow, with health so feeble that even ordinary exertion is too
much for her; yet obliged to support, with the labour of her own
hands, not only herself, but three young children. I do not wonder
that she is behind with her rent."
"Nor I," said Mr. Lyon, in a voice of sympathy. "How much, did she
say, was due to her landlord?"
"She will not be able to pay it."
"I fear not. How can she? I give her all my extra sewing, and have
obtained work for her from several ladies; but with her best efforts
she can barely obtain food and decent clothing for herself and
"Does it not seem hard," remarked Mr. Lyon, "that one like Mrs.
Arnold, who is so earnest in her efforts to take care of herself and
family, should not receive a helping hand from some one of the many
who could help her without feeling the effort? If I didn't find it
so hard to make both ends meet, I would pay off her arrears of rent
for her, and feel happy in so doing."
"Ah!" exclaimed the kind-hearted wife, "how much I wish that we were
able to do this! But we are not."
"I'll tell you what we can do," said Mr. Lyon, in a cheerful voice;
"or rather what _I_ can do. It will be a very light matter for say
ten persons to give a dollar apiece, in order to relieve Mrs. Arnold
from her present trouble. There are plenty who would cheerfully
contribute, for this good purpose; all that is wanted is some one to
take upon himself the business of making the collections. That task
shall be mine."
"How glad I am, James, to hear you say so!" smilingly replied Mrs.
Lyon. "Oh, what a relief it will be to poor Mrs. Arnold. It will
make her heart as light as a feather. That rent has troubled her
sadly. Old Links, her landlord, has been worrying her about it a
good deal, and, only a week ago, threatened to put her things in the
street, if she didn't pay up."
"I should have thought of this before," remarked Andrew Lyon. "There
are hundreds of people who are willing enough to give if they were
only certain in regard to the object. Here is one worthy enough in
every way. Be it my business to present her claims to benevolent
consideration. Let me see. To whom shall I go? There are Jones, and
Green, and Tompkins. I can get a dollar from each of them. That will
be three dollars,--and one from myself, will make four. Who else is
there? Oh, Malcolm! I'm sure of a dollar from him; and also from
Smith, Todd, and Perry."
Confident in the success of his benevolent scheme, Mr. Lyon started
forth, early on the very next day, for the purpose of obtaining, by
subscription, the poor widow's rent. The first person he called on
"Ah, friend Lyon!" said Malcolm, smiling blandly, "Good morning!
What can I do for you, to-day?"
"Nothing for me, but something for a poor widow, who is behind with
her rent," replied Andrew Lyon. "I want just one dollar from you,
and as much more from some eight or nine as benevolent as yourself."
At the word poor widow the countenance of Malcolm fell, and when his
visiter ceased, he replied, in a changed and husky voice, clearing
his throat two or three times as he spoke.
"Are you sure she is deserving, Mr. Lyon?" The man's manner had
become exceedingly grave.
"None more so," was the prompt answer. "She is in poor health, and
has three children to support with the product of her needle. If any
one needs assistance, it is Mrs. Arnold."
"Oh! Ah! The widow of Jacob Arnold?"
"The same," replied Andrew Lyon.
Malcolm's face did not brighten with a feeling of heart-warm
benevolence. But he turned slowly away, and opening his
money-drawer, _very slowly_ toyed with his fingers amid its
contents. At length he took therefrom a dollar bill, and said, as he
presented it to Lyon,--signing involuntarily as he did so,--
"I suppose I must do my part. But we are called upon so often."
The ardour of Andrew Lyon's benevolent feelings suddenly cooled at
this unexpected reception. He had entered upon his work under the
glow of a pure enthusiasm; anticipating a hearty response the moment
his errand was made known.
"I thank you in the widow's name," said he, as he took the dollar.
When he turned from Mr. Malcolm's store, it was with a pressure on
his feelings, as if he had asked the coldly-given favour for
It was not without an effort that Lyon compelled himself to call
upon Mr. Green, considered the "next best man" on his list. But he
entered his place of business with far less confidence than he had
felt when calling upon Malcolm. His story told, Green, without a
word or smile, drew two half dollars from his pocket and presented
"Thank you," said Lyon.
"Welcome," returned Green.
Oppressed with a feeling of embarrassment, Lyon stood for a few
moments. Then bowing, he said,
"Good morning," was coldly and formally responded.
And thus the alms-seeker and alms-giver parted.
"Better be at his shop, attending to his work," muttered Green to
himself, as his visiter retired. "Men ain't very apt to get along
too well in the world who spend their time in begging for every
object of charity that happens to turn up. And there are plenty of
such, dear knows. He's got a dollar out of me; may it do him, or the
poor widow he talked so glibly about, much good."
Cold water had been poured upon the feelings of Andrew Lyon. He had
raised two dollars for the poor widow, but, at what a sacrifice for
one so sensitive as himself! Instead of keeping on in his work of
benevolence, he went to his shop, and entered upon the day's
employment. How disappointed he felt;--and this disappointment was
mingled with a certain sense of humiliation, as if he had been
asking alms for himself.
"Catch me at this work again!" he said half aloud, as his thoughts
dwelt upon what had so recently occurred. "But this is not right,"
he added, quickly. "It is a weakness in me to feel so. Poor Mrs.
Arnold must be relieved; and it is my duty to see that she gets
relief. I had no thought of a reception like this. People can talk
of benevolence; but putting the hand in the pocket is another affair
altogether. I never dreamed that such men as Malcolm and Green could
be insensible to an appeal like the one I made."
"I've got two dollars towards paying Mrs. Arnold's rent," he said to
himself, in a more cheerful tone, some time afterwards; "and it will
go hard if I don't raise the whole amount for her. All are not like
Green and Malcolm. Jones is a kind-hearted man, and will instantly
respond to the call of humanity. I'll go and see him."
So, off Andrew Lyon started to see this individual.
"I've come begging, Mr. Jones," said he, on meeting him. And he
spoke in a frank, pleasant manner,
"Then you've come to the wrong shop; that's all I have to say," was
the blunt answer.
"Don't say that, Mr. Jones. Hear my story first."
"I do say it, and I'm in earnest," returned Jones. "I feel as poor
as Job's turkey to-day."
"I only want a dollar to help a poor widow pay her rent," said Lyon.
"Oh, hang all the poor widows! If that's your game, you'll get
nothing here. I've got my hands full to pay my own rent. A nice time
I'd have in handing out a dollar to every poor widow in town to help
pay her rent! No, no, my friend, you can't get anything here."
"Just as you feel about it," said Andrew Lyon. "There's no
compulsion in the matter."
"No, I presume not," was rather coldly replied.
Lyon returned to his shop, still more disheartened than before. He
had undertaken a thankless office.
Nearly two hours elapsed before his resolution to persevere in the
good work he had begun came back with sufficient force to prompt to
another effort. Then he dropped in upon his neighbour Tompkins, to
whom he made known his errand.
"Why, yes, I suppose I must do something in a case like this," said
Tompkins, with the tone and air of a man who was cornered. "But
there are so many calls for charity, that we are naturally enough
led to hold on pretty tightly to our purse strings. Poor woman! I
feel sorry for her. How much do you want?"
"I am trying to get ten persons, including myself, to give a dollar
"Well, here's my dollar." And Tompkins forced a smile to his face as
he handed over his contribution,--but the smile did not conceal an
expression which said very plainly--
"I hope you will not trouble me again in this way."
"You may be sure I will not," muttered Lyon, as he went away. He
fully understood the meaning of the expression.
Only one more application did the kind-hearted man make. It was
successful; but there was something in the manner of the individual
who gave his dollar, that Lyon felt as a rebuke.
"And so poor Mrs. Arnold did not get the whole of her arrears of
rent paid off," says some one who has felt an interest in her
Oh, yes she did. Mr. Lyon begged five dollars, and added five more
from his own slender purse. But, he cannot be induced again to
undertake the thankless office of seeking relief from the benevolent
for a fellow creature in need. He has learned that a great many who
refuse alms on the plea that the object presented is not worthy, are
but little more inclined to charitable deeds, when on this point
there is no question.
How many who read this can sympathize with Andrew Lyon! Few men who
have hearts to feel for others but have been impelled, at some time
in their lives, to seek aid for a fellow creature in need. That
their office was a thankless one, they have too soon become aware.
Even those who responded to their call most liberally, in too many
instances gave in a way that left an unpleasant impression behind.
How quickly has the first glow of generous feeling, that sought to
extend itself to others, that they might share the pleasure of
humanity, been chilled; and, instead of finding the task an easy
one, it has proved to be hard, and, too often, humiliating! Alas
that this should be! That men should shut their hearts so
instinctively at the voice of charity!
We have not written this to discourage active efforts in the
benevolent; but to hold up a mirror in which another class may see
themselves. At best, the office of him who seeks of his fellow men
aid for the suffering and indigent, is an unpleasant one. It is all
sacrifice on his part, and the least that can be done is to honour
his disinterested regard for others in distress, and treat him with
delicacy and consideration.
OH! if there is one law above the rest,
Written in Wisdom--if there is a word
That I would trace as with a pen of fire
Upon the unsullied temper of a child--
If there is anything that keeps the mind
Open to angel visits, and repels
The ministry of ill--_'tis Human Love!_
God has made nothing worthy of contempt;
The smallest pebble in the well of Truth
Has its peculiar meanings, and will stand
When man's best monuments wear fast away.
The law of Heaven is _Love_--and though its name
Has been usurped by passion, and profaned
To its unholy uses through all time,
Still, the external principle is pure;
And in these deep affections that we feel
Omnipotent within us, can we see
The lavish measure in which love is given.
And in the yearning tenderness of a child
For every bird that sings above its head,
And every creature feeding on the hills,
And every tree and flower, and running brook,
We see how everything was made to love,
And how they err, who, in a world like this,
Find anything to hate but human pride.
"EVERY LITTLE HELPS."
WHAT if a drop of rain should plead--
"So small a drop as I
Can ne'er refresh the thirsty mead;
I'll tarry in the sky?"
What, if the shining beam of noon
Should in its fountain stay;
Because its feeble light alone
Cannot create a day?
Does not each rain-drop help to form
The cool refreshing shower?
And every ray of light, to warm
And beautify the flower?
SCORN not the slightest word or deed,
Nor deem it void of power;
There's fruit in each wind-wafted seed,
Waiting its natal hour.
A whispered word may touch the heart,
And call it back to life;
A look of love bid sin depart,
And still unholy strife.
No act falls fruitless; none can tell
How vast its power may be,
Nor what results enfolded dwell
Within it silently.
Work and despair not; give thy mite,
Nor care how small it be;
God is with all that serve the right,
The holy, true, and free!
FIVE years ago, this fair November day,--five years? it seems but
yesterday, so fresh is that scene in my memory; and, I doubt not,
were the period ten times multiplied, it would be as vivid still to
us--the surviving actors in that drama! The touch of time, which
blunts the piercing thorn, as well as steals from the rose its
lovely tints, is powerless here, unless to give darker shades to
that picture engraven on our souls; and tears--ah, they only make it
We do not speak of her now; her name has not passed our lips in each
other's presence, since we followed her--grief-stricken mourners-to
the grave, to which--alas, alas! but why should not the truth be
spoken? the grave to which our careless words consigned her. But on
every anniversary of that day we can never forget, uninvited by me,
and without any previous arrangement between themselves, those two
friends have come to my house, and together we have sat, almost
silently, save when Ada's sweet voice has poured forth a low,
plaintive strain to the mournful chords Mary has made the harp to
breathe. Four years ago, that cousin came too; and since then,
though he has been thousands of miles distant from us, when, that
anniversary has returned, he has written to me: he cannot look into
my face when that letter is penned; he but looks into his own heart,
and he cannot withhold the words of remorse and agony.
Ada and Mary have sat with me to-day, and we knew that Rowland, in
thought, was here too; ah, if we could have known another had been
among us,--if we could have felt that an eye was upon us, which will
never more dim with tears, a heart was near us which carelessness
can never wound again;--could we have known she had been here--that
pure, bright angel, with the smile of forgiveness and love on that
beautiful face--the dark veil of sorrow might have been lifted from
our souls! but we saw only with mortal vision; our faith was feeble,
and we have only drawn that sombre mantle more and more closely
about us. The forgiveness we have so many tim es prayed for, we have
not yet dared to receive, though we know it is our own.
That November day was just what this has been fair, mild, and sweet;
and how much did that dear one enjoy it! The earth was dry, and as
we looked from the window we saw no verdure but a small line of
green on the south side of the garden enclosure, and around the
trunk of the old pear-tree, and here and there a little oasis from
which the strong wind of the previous day, had lifted the thick
covering of dry leaves, and one or two shrubs, whose foliage feared
not the cold breath of winter. The gaudy hues, too, which nature had
lately worn, were all faded; there was a pale, yellow-leafed vine
clambering over the verdureless lilac, and far down in the garden
might be seen a shrub covered with bright scarlet berries. But the
warm south wind was sweet and fragrant, as if it had strayed through
bowers of roses and eglantines. Deep-leaden and snow-white clouds
blended together, floated lazily through the sky, and the sun
coquetted all day with the earth, though his glance was not, for
once, more than half averted, while his smile was bright and loving,
as it bad been months before, when her face was fair and blooming.
But how sadly has this day passed, and how unlike is this calm,
sweet evening to the one which closed that November day! Nature is
the same. The moonbeams look as bright and silvery through the
brown, naked arms of the tall oaks, and the dark evergreen forest
lifts up its head to the sky, striving, but in vain, to shut out
the, soft light from the little stream, whose murmurings, seem more
sad and complaining than at another season of the year, perhaps
because it feels how soon the icy bands of winter will stay its free
course, and hush its low whisperings. The soft breeze sighs as sadly
through the vines which still wreath themselves around the window;
though seemingly conscious they have ceased to adorn it, they are
striving to loosen their bold, and bow themselves to the earth; and
the, chirping of a cricket in the chimney is as sad and mournful as
it was then. But the low moan of the sufferer, the but
half-smothered, agonized sobs of those fair girls, the deep groan
which all my proud cousin's firmness could not hush, and the words
of reproach, which, though I was so guilty myself, and though I saw
them so repentant, I could not withhold, are all stilled now.
Ada and Mary have just left me, and I am sitting alone in my
apartment. Not a sound reaches me but the whisperings of the wind,
the murmuring of the stream, and the chirping of that solitary
cricket. The family know my heart is heavy to-night, and the voices
are hushed, and the footsteps fall lightly. Lily, dear Lily, art
thou near me?
Five years and some months ago--it was in early June--there came to
our home from far away in the sunny South, a fair young creature, a
relative of ours, though we had never seen her before. She had been
motherless rather less than a year, but her father had already found
another partner, and feeling that she would not so soon see the
place of the dearly-loved parent filled by a stranger, she had
obtained his permission to spend a few months with those who could
sympathize with her in her griefs.
Lily White! She was rightly named; I have never seen such a fair,
delicate face and figure, nor watched the revealings of a nature so
pure and gentle as was hers. She would have been too fair and
delicate to be beautiful, but for the brilliancy of those deep blue
eyes, the dark shade of that glossy hair, and the litheness of that
fragile form; but when months had passed away, and, though the brow
was still marble white, and the lip colourless, the cheek wore that
deep rose tint, how surpassingly beautiful she was! We did not dream
what had planted that rose-tint there--we thought her to be throwing
off the grief which alone, we believed, had paled her cheek; and we
did not observe that her form was becoming more delicate, and that
her step was losing its lightness and elasticity. We loved the sweet
Lily dearly at first sight, and she had been with us but a short
time before we began to wonder how our home had ever seemed perfect
to us previous to her coming. And our affection was returned by the
dear girl. We knew how much she loved us, when, as the warm season
had passed, and her father sent for her to return home, we saw the
expression of deep sorrow in every feature, and the silent entreaty
that we would persuade him to allow her to remain with us still.
She did not thank me when a letter reached me from her father, in
reply to one which, unknown to her, I had sent him, saying, if I
thought Lily's health would not be injured by a winter's residence
in our cold climate, he would comply with my urgent request, and
allow her to remain with us until the following spring--the dear
girl could not speak. She came to me almost totteringly, and wound
her arms about my neck, resting her head on mine, and tears from
those sweet eyes fell fast over my face; and all the remainder of
that afternoon she lay on her couch. Oh, why did I not think
wherefore she was so much overcome?
Ada L----and Mary R----, two friends whom I had loved from
childhood, I had selected as companions for our dear Lily on her
arrival among us, and the young ladies, from their first
introduction to her, had vied with me in my endeavours to dispel the
gloom from that fair face, and to make her happy; and they shared,
almost equally with her relatives, dear Lily's affections.
Ada--she is changed now--was a gay, brilliant, daring girl; Mary,
witty and playful, though frank and warm-hearted; but it made me
love them more than ever. The gaiety and audacity of the one was
forgotten in the presence of the thoughtful, timid Lily: and the
other checked the merry jest which trembled on her lips, and sobered
that roguish eye beside the earnest, sensitive girl; so that, though
we were together almost daily, dear Lily did not understand the
character of the young ladies.
The warm season had passed away, and October brought an addition to
our household--Cousin Rowland--as handsome, kind-hearted, and
good-natured a fellow as ever lived, but a little cowardly, if the
dread of the raillery of a beautiful woman may be called cowardice.
Cousin Rowland and dear Lily were mutually pleased with each other,
it was very evident to me, though Ada and Mary failed to see it;
for, in the presence of the young ladies, Rowland did not show her
those little delicate attentions which, alone with me, who was very
unobservant, he took no pains to conceal; and Lily did not hide from
me her blushing face--her eyes only thanked me for the expression
which met her gaze.
That November day--I dread to approach it! Lily and I were sitting
beside each other, looking down the street, and watching the return
of the carriage which Rowland had gone out with to bring Ada and
Mary to our house; or, rather, Lily was looking for its coming--my
eyes were resting on her face. It had never looked so beautiful to
me before. Her brow was so purely white, her cheek was so deeply
red, and that dark eye was so lustrous; but her face was very thin,
and her breathing, I observed, was faint and difficult. A pang shot
through my heart.
"Lily, are you well?" I exclaimed, suddenly.
She fixed her eyes on mine. I was too much excited by my sudden fear
to read their expression, but when our friends came in, the dear
girl seemed so cheerful and happy--I remembered, afterwards, I had
never seen her so gay as on that afternoon--that my suspicions
gradually left me.
The hours were passing pleasantly away, when a letter was brought in
for Lily. It was from her father, and the young lady retired to
peruse it. The eye of Rowland followed her as she passed out of the
room, and I observed a shadow flit across his brow. I afterwards
learned that at the moment a thought was passing through his mind
similar to that which had so terrified me an hour before. Our
visiters remarked it, too, but little suspected its cause; and
Mary's eye met, with a most roguish look, Ada's rather inquiring
"When does Lily intend to return home, S----?" she inquired, as she
bent, very demurely, over her embroidery. "I thought she was making
preparations to go before Rowland came here!" and she raised her
eyes so cunningly to my face, that I could not forbear answering,
"I hear nothing of her return, now. Perhaps she will remain with us
during the winter."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Ada, and her voice expressed much surprise. "I
wonder if I could make such a prolonged visit interesting to a
"Why, Lily considers herself conferring a great favour by remaining
here," replied Mary.
"On whom?" asked Rowland, quickly.
"On all of use of course;" and to Mary's great delight she perceived
that her meaning words had the effect she desired on the young man.
"I hope she will not neglect the duty she owes her family, for the
sake of showing us this great kindness," said Rowland, with affected
carelessness, though he walked across the apartment with a very
"Lily has not again been guilty of the error she so frequently
commits, has she, S----?" asked Ada, in a lower but still far too
distinct tone; "that of supposing herself loved and admired where
she is only pitied and endured?" and the merry creature fairly
exulted in the annoyance which his deepened colour told her she was
causing the young man.
A slight sound from the apartment adjoining the parlour attracted my
attention. Had Lily stopped there to read her letter instead of
going to her chamber? and had she, consequently, overheard our
foolish remarks? The door was slightly ajar, and I pushed it open.
There was a slight rustling, but I thought it only the waving of the
A half-hour passed away, and Lily had not returned to us. I began to
be alarmed, and my companions partook of my fears. Had she overheard
us? and, if so, what must that sensitive heart be suffering?
I went out to call her; but half way up the flight of stairs I saw
the letter from her father lying on the carpet, unopened, though it
had been torn from its envelope. I know not how I found my way up
stairs, but I stood by Lily's bed.
Merciful Heaven! what a sight was presented to my gaze. The white
covering was stained with blood, and from those cold, pale lips the
red drops were fast falling. Her eyes turned slowly till they rested
on mine. What a look was that! I see it now; so full of grief; so
full of reproach; and then they closed. I thought her dead, and my
frantic shrieks called my companions to her bedside. They aroused
her, too, from that swoon, but they did not awaken her to
consciousness. She never more turned a look of recognition on us, or
seemed to be aware that we were near her. Through all that night, so
long and so full of agony to us, she was murmuring, incoherently, to
"They did not know I was dying," she would say; "that I have been
dying ever since I have been here! They have not dreamed of my
sufferings through these long months; I could not tell them, for I
believed they loved me, and I would not grieve them. But no one
loves me--not one in the wide world cares for me! My mother, you
will not have forgotten your child when you meet me in the
spirit-land! Their loved tones made me deaf to the voice which was
calling to me from the grave, and the sunshine of _his_ smile broke
through the dark cloud which death was drawing around me. Oh, I
would have lived, but death, I thought, would lose half its
bitterness, could I breathe my last in their arms! But, now, I must
die alone! Oh, how shall I reach my home--how shall I ever reach
Dear Lily! The passage was short; when morning dawned, she was
HOW TO BE HAPPY.
A BOON of inestimable worth is a calm, thankful heart--a treasure
that few, very few, possess. We once met an old man, whose face was
a mixture of smiles and sunshine. Wherever he went, he succeeded in
making everybody about him as pleasant as himself.
Said we, one day,--for he was one of that delightful class whom
everybody feels privileged to be related to,--"Uncle, uncle, how
_is_ it that you contrive to be so happy? Why is your face so
cheerful, when so many thousands are craped over with a most
"My dear young friend," he answered, with his placid smile, "I am
even as others, afflicted with infirmities; I have had my share of
sorrow--some would say more--but I have found out the secret of
being happy, and it is this:
"Until you do that, you can lay but little claim to a cheerful
spirit. 'Forget what manner of man you are,' and think more with,
rejoice more for, your neighbours. If I am poor, let me look upon my
richer friend, and in estimating his blessings, forget my
"If my neighbour is building a house, let me watch with him its
progress, and think, 'Well, what a comfortable place it will be, to
be sure; how much he may enjoy it with his family.' Thus I have a
double pleasure--that of delight in noting the structure as it
expands into beauty, and making my neighbour's weal mine. If he has
planted a fine garden, I feast my eyes on the flowers, smell their
fragrance: could I do more if it was my own?
"Another has a family of fine children; they bless him and are
blessed by him; mine are all gone before me; I have none that bear
my name; shall I, therefore, envy my neighbour his lovely children?
No; let me enjoy their innocent smiles with him; let me _forget
myself_--my tears when they were put away in darkness; or if I weep,
may it be for joy that God took them untainted to dwell with His
holy angels for ever.
"Believe an old man when he says there is great pleasure in living
for others. The heart of the selfish man is like a city full of
crooked lanes. If a generous thought from some glorious temple
strays in there, wo to it--it is lost. It wanders about, and wanders
about, until enveloped in darkness; as the mist of selfishness
gathers around, it lies down upon some cold thought to die, and is
shrouded in oblivion.
"So, if you would be happy, shun selfishness; do a kindly deed for
this one, speak a kindly word for another. He who is constantly
giving pleasure, is constantly receiving it. The little river gives
to the great ocean, and the more it gives the faster it runs. Stop
its flowing, and the hot sun would dry it up, till it would be but
filthy mud, sending forth bad odours, and corrupting the fresh air
of Heaven. Keep your heart constantly travelling on errands of
mercy--it has feet that never tire, hands that cannot be
overburdened, eyes that never sleep; freight its hands with
blessings, direct its eyes--no matter how narrow your sphere--to the
nearest object of suffering, and relieve it.
"I say, my dear young friend, take the word of an old man for it,
who has tried every known panacea, and found all to fail, except
this golden rule,
"_Forget self, and keep the heart busy for others._"
THE great Teacher, on being asked "Who is my neighbour?" replied "A
man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho," and the parable which
followed is the most beautiful which language has ever recorded.
Story-telling, though often abused, is the medium by which truth can
be most irresistibly conveyed to the majority of minds, and in the
present instance we have a desire to portray in some slight degree
the importance of Charity in every-day life.
A great deal has been said and written on the subject of
indiscriminate giving, and many who have little sympathy with the
needy or distressed, make the supposed unworthiness of the object an
excuse for withholding their alms; while others, who really possess
a large proportion of the milk of human kindness, in awaiting
_great_ opportunities to do good, overlook all in their immediate
pathway, as beneath their notice. And yet it was the "widow's mite"
which, amid the many rich gifts cast into the treasury, won the
approval of the Searcher of Hearts; and we have His assurance that a
cup of cold water given in a proper spirit shall not lose its
Our design in the present sketch is to call the attention of the
softer sex to a subject which has in too many instances escaped
their attention; for our ideas of Charity embrace a wide field, and
we hold that it should at all times be united with justice, when
those less favoured than themselves are concerned.
"I do not intend hereafter to have washing done more than once in
two weeks," said the rich Mrs. Percy, in reply to an observation of
her husband, who was standing at the window, looking at a woman who
was up to her knees in the snow, hanging clothes on a line in the
yard. "I declare it is too bad, to be paying that poking old thing a
half-a-dollar a week for our wash, and only six in the family. There
she has been at it since seven o'clock this morning, and now it is
almost four. It will require but two or three hours longer if I get
her once a fortnight, and I shall save twenty-five cents a week by
"When your own sex are concerned, you women are the _closest_
beings," said Mr. P., laughing. "Do just as you please, however," he
continued, as he observed a brown gather on the brow of his wife;
"for my part I should be glad if washing-days were blotted entirely
from the calendar."
At this moment the washerwoman passed the window with her stiffened
skirts and almost frozen hands and arms. Some emotions of pity
stirring in his breast at the sight, he again asked, "Do you think
it will be exactly right, my dear, to make old Phoebe do the same
amount of labour for half the wages?"
"Of course it will," replied Mrs. Percy, decidedly; "we are bound to
do the best we can for ourselves. If she objects, she can say so.
There are plenty of poor I can get who will be glad to come, and by
this arrangement I shall save thirteen dollars a year."
"So much," returned Mr. P., carelessly; "how these things do run
up!" Here the matter ended as far as they were concerned. Not so
with "old Phoebe," as she was called. In reality, however, Phoebe
was not yet forty; it was care and hardship which had seamed her
once blooming face, and brought on prematurely the appearance of
age. On going to Mrs. Percy in the evening after she had finished
her wash, for the meagre sum she had earned, that lady had spoken
somewhat harshly about her being so slow, and mentioned the new
arrangement she intended to carry into effect, leaving it optional
with the poor woman to accept or decline. After a moment's
hesitation, Phoebe, whose necessities allowed her no choice, agreed
to her proposal, and the lady, who had been fumbling in her purse,
"I have no change, nothing less than this three-dollar bill. Suppose
I pay you by the month hereafter; it will save me a great deal of
trouble, and I will try to give you your dollar a month regularly."
Phoebe's pale cheek waxed still more ghastly as Mrs. Percy spoke,
but it was not within that lady's province to notice the colour of a
washerwoman's face. She did, however, observe her lingering, weary
steps as she proceeded through the yard, and conscience whispered
some reproaches, which were so unpleasant and unwelcome, that she
endeavoured to dispel them by turning to the luxurious supper which
was spread before her. And here I would pause to observe, that
whatever method may be adopted to reconcile the conscience to
withholding money so justly due, so hardly earned, she disobeyed the
positive injunction of that God who has not left the time of payment
optional with ourselves, but who has said--"The wages of him that is
hired, shall not abide with thee all night until the morning."--Lev.
19 chap. 13th verse.
The husband of Phoebe was a day labourer; when not intoxicated he
was kind; but this was of rare occurrence, for most of his earnings
went for ardent spirits, and the labour of the poor wife and mother
was the main support of herself and four children--the eldest nine
years, the youngest only eighteen months old. As she neared the
wretched hovel she had left early in the morning, she saw the faces
of her four little ones pressed close against the window.
"Mother's coming, mother's coming!" they shouted, as they watched
her approaching through the gloom, and as she unlocked the door,
which she had been obliged to fasten to keep them from straying
away, they all sprang to her arms at once.
"God bless you, my babes!" she exclaimed, gathering them to her
heart, "you have not been a minute absent from my mind this day. And
what have _you_ suffered," she added, clasping the youngest, a
sickly, attenuated-looking object, to her breast. "Oh! it is hard,
my little Mary, to leave you to the tender mercies of children
hardly able to take care of themselves." And as the baby nestled its
head closer to her side, and lifted its pale, imploring face, the
anguished mother's fortitude gave way, and she burst into an agony
of tears and sobbings. By-the-by, do some mothers, as they sit by
the softly-lined cradles of their own beloved babes, ever think upon
the sufferings of those hapless little ones, many times left with a
scanty supply of food, and no fire, on a cold winter day, while the
parent is earning the pittance which is to preserve them from
starvation? And lest some may suppose that we are drawing largely
upon our imagination, we will mention, in this place, that we knew
of a child left under such circumstances, and half-perishing with
cold, who was nearly burned to death by some hops (for there was no
fuel to be found), which it scraped together in its ragged apron,
and set on fire with a coal found in the ashes.
Phoebe did not indulge long in grief, however she forgot her weary
limbs, and bustling about, soon made up a fire, and boiled some
potatoes, which constituted their supper--after which she nursed the
children, two at a time, for a while, and then put them tenderly to
bed. Her husband had not come home, and as he was nearly always
intoxicated, and sometimes ill-treated her sadly, she felt his
absence a relief. Sitting over a handful of coals, she attempted to
dry her wet feet; every bone in her body ached, for she was not
naturally strong, and leaning her head on her hand, she allowed the
big tears to course slowly down her cheeks, without making any
attempt to wipe them away, while she murmured:
"Thirteen dollars a year gone! What is to become of us? I cannot get
help from those authorized by law to assist the poor, unless I agree
to put out my children, and I cannot live and see them abused and
over-worked at their tender age. And people think their father might
support us; but how can I help it that he spends all his earnings in
drink? And rich as Mrs. Percy is, she did not pay me my wages
to-night, and now I cannot get the yarn for my baby's stockings, and
her little limbs must remain cold awhile longer; and I must do
without the flour, too, that I was going to make into bread, and the
potatoes are almost gone."
Here Phoebe's emotions overcame her, and she ceased speaking. After
a while, she continued--
"Mrs. Percy also blamed me for being so slow; she did not know that
I was up half the night, and that my head has ached ready to split
all day. Oh! dear, oh! dear, oh! dear, if it were not for my babes,
I should yearn for the quiet of the grave!"
And with a long, quivering sigh, such as one might heave at the
rending of soul and body, Phoebe was silent.
Daughters of luxury! did it ever occur to you that we are all the
children of one common Parent? Oh, look hereafter with pity on those
faces where the records of suffering are deeply graven, and remember
"_Be ye warmed and filled_," will not suffice, unless the hand
executes the promptings of the heart. After awhile, as the fire died
out, Phoebe crept to her miserable pallet, crushed with the prospect
of the days of toil which were still before her, and haunted by the
idea of sickness and death, brought on by over-taxation of her
bodily powers, while in case of such an event, she was tortured by
the reflection--"what is to become of my children?"
Ah, this anxiety is the true bitterness of death, to the friendless
and poverty-stricken parent. In this way she passed the night, to
renew, with the dawn, the toils and cares which were fast closing
their work on her. We will not say what Phoebe, under other
circumstances, might have been. She possessed every noble attribute
common to woman, without education, or training, but she was not
prepossessing in her appearance; and Mrs. Percy, who never studied
character, or sympathized with menials, or strangers, would have
laughed at the idea of dwelling with compassion on the lot of her
washerwoman with a drunken husband. Yet her feelings sometimes
became interested for the poor she heard of abroad, the poor she
read of, and she would now and then descant largely on the few cases
of actual distress which had chanced to come under her notice, and
the little opportunity she enjoyed of bestowing alms. Superficial in
her mode of thinking and observation, her ideas of charity were
limited, forgetful that to be true it must be a pervading principle
of life, and can be exercised even in the bestowal of a gracious
word or smile, which, under peculiar circumstances, may raise a
brother from the dust--and thus win the approval of Him, who,
although the Lord of angels, was pleased to say of her who brought
but the "box of spikenard"--with tears of love--"_She hath done what
THE VISION OF BOATS.
ONE morn, when the Day-god, yet hidden
By the mist that the mountain enshrouds,
Was hoarding up hyacinth blossoms,
And roses, to fling at the clouds;
I saw from the casement, that northward
Looks out on the Valley of Pines,
(The casement, where all day in summer,
You hear the drew drop from the vines),
White shapes 'mid the purple wreaths glancing,
Like the banners of hosts at strife;
But I knew they were silvery pennons
Of boats on the River of Life.
And I watched, as the, mist cleared upward,
Half hoping, yet fearing to see
On that rapid and rock-sown River,
What the fate of the boats might be.
There were some that sped cheerily onward,
With white sails gallantly spread
Yet ever there sat at the look-out,
One, watching for danger ahead.