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HOME LIGHTS AND SHADOWS.
BY T. S. ARTHUR,
AUTHOR OF "LIFE PICTURES," "OLD MAN'S BRIDE," AND "SPARING TO SPEND."
RIGHTS AND WRONGS
THE HUMBLED PHARISEE
ROMANCE AND REALITY
BOTH TO BLAME
IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS
THE MOTHER'S PROMISE
THE TWO HUSBANDS
VISITING AS NEIGHBORS
NOT AT HOME
THE FATAL ERROR
FOLLOWING THE FASHIONS
A DOLLAR ON THE CONSCIENCE
AUNT MARY'S SUGGESTION
HELPING THE POOR
MAKING A SENSATION
SOMETHING FOR A COLD
HOME! How at the word, a crowd of pleasant thoughts awaken. What
sun-bright images are pictured to the imagination. Yet, there is no
home without its shadows as well as sunshine. Love makes the
home-lights and selfishness the shadows. Ah! how dark the shadow at
times--how faint and fleeting the sunshine. How often selfishness
towers up to a giant height, barring out from our dwellings every
golden ray. There are few of us, who do not, at times, darken with
our presence the homes that should grow bright at our coming. It is
sad to acknowledge this; yet, in the very acknowledgement is a
promise of better things, for, it is rarely that we confess, without
a resolution to overcome the evil that mars our own and others'
happiness. Need we say, that the book now presented to the reader is
designed to aid in the work of overcoming what is evil and selfish,
that home-lights may dispel home-shadows, and keep them forever from
RIGHTS AND WRONGS.
IT is a little singular--yet certainly true--that people who are
very tenacious of their own rights, and prompt in maintaining them,
usually have rather vague notions touching the rights of others.
Like the too eager merchant, in securing their own, they are very
apt to get a little more than belongs to them.
Mrs. Barbara Uhler presented a notable instance of this. We cannot
exactly class her with the "strong-minded" women of the day. But she
had quite a leaning in that direction; and if not very strong-minded
herself, was so unfortunate as to number among her intimate friends
two or three ladies who had a fair title to the distinction.
Mrs. Barbara Uhler was a wife and a mother. She was also a woman;
and her consciousness of this last named fact was never indistinct,
nor ever unmingled with a belligerent appreciation of the rights
appertaining to her sex and position.
As for Mr. Herman Uhler, he was looked upon, abroad, as a mild,
reasonable, good sort of a man. At home, however, he was held in a
very different estimation. The "wife of his bosom" regarded him as
an exacting domestic tyrant; and, in opposing his will, she only
fell back, as she conceived, upon the first and most sacred law of
her nature. As to "obeying" him, she had scouted that idea from the
beginning. The words, "honor and obey," in the marriage service, she
had always declared, would have to be omitted when she stood at the
altar. But as she had, in her maidenhood, a very strong liking for
the handsome young Mr. Uhler, and, as she could not obtain so
material a change in the church ritual, as the one needed to meet
her case, she wisely made a virtue of necessity, and went to the
altar with her lover. The difficulty was reconciled to her own
conscience by a mental reservation.
It is worthy of remark that above all other of the obligations here
solemnly entered into, this one, _not_ to honor and obey her
husband, ever after remained prominent in the mind of Mrs. Barbara
Uhler. And it was no fruitless sentiment, as Mr. Herman Uhler could
From the beginning it was clearly apparent to Mrs. Uhler that her
husband expected too much from her; that he regarded her as a kind
of upper servant in his household, and that he considered himself as
having a right to complain if things were not orderly and
comfortable. At first, she met his looks or words of displeasure,
when his meals, for instance, were late, or so badly cooked as to be
unhealthy and unpalatable, with--
"I'm sorry, dear; but I can't help it."
"Are you sure you can't help it, Barbara?" Mr. Uhler at length
ventured to ask, in as mild a tone of voice as his serious feelings
on the subject would enable him to assume.
Mrs. Uhler's face flushed instantly, and she answered, with dignity:
"I _am_ sure, Mr. Uhler."
It was the first time, in speaking to her husband, that she had said
"Mr. Uhler," in her life the first time she had ever looked at him
with so steady and defiant an aspect.
Now, we cannot say how most men would have acted under similar
circumstances; we can only record what Mr. Uhler said and did:
"And I am _not_ sure, Mrs. Uhler," was his prompt, impulsive reply,
drawing himself up, and looking somewhat sternly at his better half.
"You are not?" said Mrs. Uhler; and she compressed her lips tightly.
"I am not," was the emphatic response.
"And what do you expect me to do, pray?" came next from the lady's
"Do as I do in my business," answered the gentleman. "Have competent
assistance, or see that things are done right yourself."
"Go into the kitchen and cook the dinner, you mean, I suppose?"
"You can put my meaning into any form of words you please, Barbara.
You have charge of this household, and it is your place to see that
everything due to the health and comfort of its inmates is properly
cared for. If those to whom you delegate so important a part of
domestic economy as the preparation of food, are ignorant or
careless, surely it is your duty to go into the kitchen daily, and
see that it is properly done. I never trust wholly to any individual
in my employment. There is no department of the business to which I
do not give personal attention. Were I to do so my customers would
pay little regard to excuses about ignorant workmen and careless
clerks. They would soon seek their goods in another and better
"Perhaps you had better seek your dinners elsewhere, if they are so
little to your fancy at home."
This was the cool, defiant reply of the outraged Mrs. Uhler.
Alas, for Mr. Herman Uhler; he had, so far as his wife was
concerned, committed the unpardonable sin; and the consequences
visited upon his transgression were so overwhelming that he gave up
the struggle in despair. Contention with such an antagonist, he saw,
from the instinct of self-preservation, would be utterly disastrous.
While little was to be gained, everything was in danger of being
"I have nothing more to say," was his repeated answer to the running
fire which his wife kept up against him for a long time. "You are
mistress of the house; act your own pleasure. Thank you for the
suggestion about dinner. I may find it convenient to act thereon."
The last part of this sentence was extorted by the continued
irritating language of Mrs. Uhler. Its utterance rather cooled the
lady's indignant ardor, and checked the sharp words that were
rattling from her tongue. A truce to open warfare was tacitly agreed
upon between the parties. The antagonism was not, however, the less
real. Mrs. Uhler knew that her husband expected of her a degree of
personal attention to household matters that she considered
degrading to her condition as a wife; and, because he _expected_
this, she, in order to maintain the dignity of her position, gave
even less attention to these matters than would otherwise have been
the case. Of course, under such administration of domestic affairs,
causes for dissatisfaction on the part of Mr. Uhler, were ever in
existence. For the most part he bore up under them with commendable
patience; but, there were times when weak human nature faltered by
the way--when, from heart-fulness the mouth would speak. This was
but to add new fuel to the flame. This only gave to Mrs. Uhler a
ground of argument against her husband as an unreasonable,
oppressive tyrant; as one of the large class of men who not only
regard woman as inferior, but who, in all cases of weak submission,
hesitate not to put a foot upon her neck.
Some of the female associates, among whom Mrs. Uhler unfortunately
found herself thrown, were loud talkers about woman's rights and
man's tyranny; and to them, with a most unwife-like indelicacy of
speech, she did not hesitate to allude to her husband as one of the
class of men who would trample upon a woman if permitted to do so.
By these ladies she was urged to maintain her rights, to keep ever
in view the dignity and elevation of her sex, and to let man, the
tyrant, know, that a time was fast approaching when his haughty
pride would be humbled to the dust.
And so Mrs. Uhler, under this kind of stimulus to the maintainance
of her own rights against the imaginary aggressions of her husband,
trampled upon his rights in numberless ways.
As time wore on, no change for the better occurred. A woman does not
reason to just conclusions, either from facts or abstract principles
like man; but takes, for the most part, the directer road of
perception. If, therefore her womanly instincts are all right, her
conclusions will be true; but if they are wrong, false judgment is
inevitable. The instincts of Mrs. Uhler were wrong in the beginning,
and she was, in consequence, easily led by her associates, into
wrong estimates of both her own and her husband's position.
One day, on coming home to dinner, Mr. Uhler was told by a servant,
that his wife had gone to an anti-slavery meeting, and would not get
back till evening, as she intended dining with a friend. Mr. Uhler
made no remark on receiving this information. A meagre, badly-cooked
dinner was served, to which he seated himself, alone, not to eat,
but to chew the cud of bitter fancies. Business, with Mr. Uhler, had
not been very prosperous of late; and he had suffered much from a
feeling of discouragement. Yet, for all this, his wife's demands for
money, were promptly met--and she was not inclined to be over
careful as to the range of her expenditures.
There was a singular expression on the face of Mr. Uhler, as he left
his home on that day. Some new purpose had been formed in his mind,
or some good principle abandoned. He was a changed man--changed for
the worse, it may well be feared.
It was late in the afternoon when Mrs. Uhler returned. To have
inquired of the servant whether Mr. Uhler had made any remark, when
he found that she was absent at dinner time, she would have regarded
as a betrayal to that personage of a sense of accountability on her
part. No; she stooped not to any inquiry of this kind--compromised
not the independence of the individual.
The usual tea hour was at hand--but, strange to say, the punctual
Mr. Uhler did not make his appearance. For an hour the table stood
on the floor, awaiting his return, but he came not. Then Mrs. Uhler
gave her hungry, impatient little ones their suppers--singularly
enough, she had no appetite for food herself--and sent them to bed.
Never since her marriage had Mrs. Uhler spent so troubled an evening
as that one proved to be. A dozen times she rallied herself--a dozen
times she appealed to her independence and individuality as a woman,
against the o'er-shadowing concern about her husband, which came
gradually stealing upon her mind. And with this uncomfortable
feeling were some intruding and unwelcome thoughts, that in no way
stimulated her self-approval.
It was nearly eleven o'clock when Mr. Uhler came home; and then he
brought in his clothes such rank fumes of tobacco, and his breath
was so tainted with brandy, that his wife had no need of inquiry as
to where he had spent his evening. His countenance wore a look of
"Ah! At home, are you?" said he, lightly, as he met his wife. "Did
you have a pleasant day of it?"
Mrs. Uhler was--frightened--shall we say? We must utter the word,
even though it meet the eyes of her "strong minded" friends, who
will be shocked to hear that one from whom they had hoped so much,
should be frightened by so insignificant a creature as a husband.
Yes, Mrs. Uhler was really frightened by this new aspect in which
her husband presented himself. She felt that she was in a dilemma,
to which, unhappily, there was not a single horn, much less choice
We believe Mrs. Uhler did not sleep very well during the night. Her
husband, however, slept "like a log." On the next morning, her brow
was overcast; but his countenance wore a careless aspect. He chatted
with the children at the breakfast table, goodnaturedly, but said
little to his wife, who had penetration enough to see that he was
hiding his real feelings under an assumed exterior.
"Are you going to be home to dinner to-day?" said Mr. Uhler,
carelessly, as he arose from the table. He had only sipped part of a
cup of bad coffee.
"Certainly I am," was the rather sharp reply. The question irritated
"You needn't on my account," said Mr. Uhler. "I've engaged to dine
at the Astor with a friend."
"Oh, very well!" Mrs. Uhler bridled and looked dignified. Yet, her
flashing eyes showed that cutting words were ready to leap from her
tongue. And they would have come sharply on the air, had not the
manner of her husband been so unusual and really mysterious. In a
word, a vague fear kept her silent.
Mr. Uhler went to his store, but manifested little of his usual
interest and activity. Much that he had been in the habit of
attending to personally, he delegated to clerks. He dined at the
Astor, and spent most of the afternoon there, smoking, talking, and
drinking. At tea-time he came home. The eyes of Mrs. Uhler sought
his face anxiously as he came in. There was a veil of mystery upon
it, through which her eyes could not penetrate. Mr. Uhler remained
at home during the evening, but did not seem to be himself. On the
next morning, as he was about leaving the house, his wife said--
"Can you let me have some money to-day?"
Almost for the first time in her life, Mrs. Uhler asked this
question in a hesitating manner; and, for the first time, she saw
that her request was not favorably received.
"How much do you want?" inquired the husband.
"I should like to have a hundred dollars," said Mrs. Uhler.
"I'm sorry; but I can't let you have it," was answered. "I lost five
hundred dollars day before yesterday through the neglect of one of
my clerks, while I was riding out with some friends."
"Riding out!" exclaimed Mrs. Uhler.
"Yes. You can't expect me to be always tied down to business. I like
a little recreation and pleasant intercourse with friends as much as
any one. Well, you see, a country dealer, who owed me five hundred
dollars, was in the city, and promised to call and settle on the
afternoon of day before yesterday. I explained to one of my clerks
what he must do when the customer came in, and, of course, expected
all to be done right. Not so, however. The man, when he found that
he had my clerk, and not me, to deal with, objected to some
unimportant charge in his bill, and the foolish fellow, instead of
yielding the point, insisted that the account was correct. The
customer went away, and paid out all his money in settling a bill
with one of my neighbors. And so I got nothing. Most likely, I shall
lose the whole account, as he is a slippery chap, and will, in all
probability, see it to be his interest to make a failure between
this and next spring. I just wanted that money to-day. Now I shall
have to be running around half the morning to make up the sum I
"But how could you go away under such circumstances, and trust all
to a clerk?" said Mrs. Uhler warmly, and with reproof in her voice.
"How could I!" was the quick response. "And do you suppose I am
going to tie myself down to the store like a slave! You are mistaken
if you do; that is all I have to say! I hire clerks to attend to my
"But suppose they are incompetent? What then?" Mrs. Uhler was very
"That doesn't in the least alter my character and position." Mr.
Uhler looked his wife fixedly in the face for some moments after
saying this, and then retired from the house without further remark.
The change in her husband, which Mrs. Uhler at first tried to make
herself believe was mere assumption or caprice, proved, unhappily, a
permanent state. He neglected his business and his home for social
companions; and whenever asked by his wife for supplies of cash,
invariably gave as a reason why he could not supply her want, the
fact of some new loss of custom, or money, in consequence of
neglect, carelessness, or incompetency of clerks or workmen, when he
was away, enjoying himself.
For a long time, Mrs. Uhler's independent spirit struggled against
the humiliating necessity that daily twined its coils closer and
closer around her. More and more clearly did she see, in her
husband's wrong conduct, a reflection of her own wrong deeds in the
beginning. It was hard for her to acknowledge that she had been in
error--even to herself. But conviction lifted before her mind,
daily, its rebuking finger, and she could not shut the vision out.
Neglect of business brought its disastrous consequences. In the end
there was a failure; and yet, to the end, Mr. Uhler excused his
conduct on the ground that he wasn't going to tie himself down like
a galley slave to the oar--wasn't going to stoop to the drudgery he
had employed clerks to perform. This was all his wife could gain
from him in reply to her frequent remonstrances.
Up to this time, Mr. Uhler had resisted the better suggestions
which, in lucid intervals, if we may so call them, were thrown into
her mind. Pride would not let her give to her household duties that
personal care which their rightful performance demanded; the more
particularly, as, in much of her husband's conduct, she plainly saw
At last, poverty, that stern oppressor, drove the Uhlers out from
their pleasant home, and they shrunk away into obscurity, privation,
and want. In the last interview held by Mrs. Uhler with the "strong
minded" friends, whose society had so long thrown its fascinations
around her, and whose views and opinions had so long exercised a
baleful influence over her home, she was urgently advised to abandon
her husband, whom one of the number did not hesitate to denounce in
language so coarse and disgusting, that the latent instincts of the
wife were shocked beyond measure. Her husband was not the brutal,
sensual tyrant this refined lady, in her intemperate zeal,
represented him. None knew the picture to be so false as Mrs. Uhler,
and all that was good and true in her rose up in indignant
To her poor, comfortless home, and neglected children, Mrs. Uhler
returned in a state of mind so different from anything she had
experienced for years, that she half wondered within herself if she
were really the same woman. Scales had fallen suddenly from her
eyes, and she saw every thing around her in new aspects and new
"Has my husband really been an exacting tyrant?" This question she
propounded to herself almost involuntarily. "Did he trample upon my
rights in the beginning, or did I trample upon his? He had a right
to expect from me the best service I could render, in making his
home comfortable and happy. Did I render that service? did I see in
my home duties my highest obligation as a wife? have I been a true
wife to him?"
So rapidly came these rebuking interrogations upon the mind of Mrs.
Uhler, that it almost seemed as if an accuser stood near, and
uttered the questions aloud. And how did she respond? Not in self
justification. Convinced, humbled, repentant, she sought her home.
It was late in the afternoon, almost evening, when Mrs. Uhler passed
the threshold of her own door. The cry of a child reached her ears
the moment she entered, and she knew, in an instant, that it was a
cry of suffering, not anger or ill nature. Hurrying to her chamber,
she found her three little ones huddled together on the floor, the
youngest with one of its arms and the side of its face badly burned
in consequence of its clothes having taken fire. As well as she
could learn, the girl in whose charge she had left the children, and
who, in the reduced circumstances of the family, was constituted
doer of all work, had, from some pique, gone away in her absence.
Thus left free to go where, and do what they pleased, the children
had amused themselves in playing with the fire. When the clothes of
the youngest caught in the blaze of a lighted stick, the two oldest,
with singular presence of mind, threw around her a wet towel that
hung near, and thus saved her life.
"Has your father been home?" asked Mrs. Uhler, as soon as she
comprehended the scene before her.
"Yes, ma'am," was answered.
"Where is he?"
"He's gone for the doctor," replied the oldest of the children.
"What did he say?" This question was involuntary. The child
hesitated for a moment, and then replied artlessly--
"He said he wished we had no mother, and then he'd know how to take
care of us himself."
The words came with the force of a blow. Mrs. Uhler staggered
backwards, and sunk upon a chair, weak, for a brief time, as an
infant. Ere yet her strength returned, her husband came in with a
doctor. He did not seem to notice her presence; but she soon made
that apparent. All the mother's heart was suddenly alive in her. She
was not over officious--had little to say; but her actions were all
to the purpose. In due time, the little sufferer was in a
comfortable state and the doctor retired.
Not a word had, up to this moment, passed between the husband and
wife. Now, the eyes of the latter sought those of Mr. Uhler; but
there came no answering glance. His face was sternly averted.
Darkness was now beginning to fall, and Mrs. Uhler left her husband
and children, and went down into the kitchen. The fire had burned
low; and was nearly extinguished. The girl had not returned; and,
from what Mrs. Uhler gathered from the children would not, she
presumed, come back to them again. It mattered not, however; Mrs.
Uhler was in no state of mind to regard this as a cause of trouble.
She rather felt relieved by her absence. Soon the fire was
rekindled; the kettle simmering; and, in due time, a comfortable
supper was on the table, prepared by her own hands, and well
Mr. Uhler was a little taken by surprise, when, on being summoned to
tea, he took his place at the usually uninviting table, and saw
before him a dish of well made toast, and a plate of nicely boiled
ham. He said nothing; but a sensation of pleasure, so warm that it
made his heart beat quicker, pervaded his bosom; and this was
increased, when he placed the cup of well made, fragrant tea to his
lips, and took a long delicious draught. All had been prepared by
the hands of his wife--that he knew. How quickly his pleasure sighed
itself away, as he remembered that, with her ample ability to make
his home the pleasantest place for him in the world, she was wholly
wanting in inclination.
Usually, the husband spent his evenings away. Something caused him
to linger in his own home on this occasion. Few words passed between
him and his wife; but the latter was active through all the evening,
and, wherever her hand was laid, order seemed to grow up from
disorder; and the light glinted back from a hundred places in the
room, where no cheerful reflection had ever met his eyes before.
Mr. Uhler looked on, in wonder and hope, but said nothing. Strange
enough, Mrs. Uhler was up by day-dawn on the next morning; and in
due time, a very comfortable breakfast was prepared by her own
hands. Mr. Uhler ventured a word of praise, as he sipped his coffee.
Never had he tasted finer in his life, he said. Mrs. Uhler looked
gratified; but offered no response.
At dinner time Mr. Uhler came home from the store, where he was now
employed at a small salary, and still more to his surprise, found a
well cooked and well served meal awaiting him. Never, since his
marriage, had he eaten food at his own table with so true a
relish--never before had every thing in his house seemed so much
And so things went on for a week, Mr. Uhler wondering and observant,
and Mrs. Uhler finding her own sweet reward, not only in a
consciousness of duty, but in seeing a great change in her husband,
who was no longer moody and ill-natured, and who had not been absent
once at meal time, nor during an evening, since she had striven to
be to him a good wife, and to her children a self denying mother.
There came, now, to be a sort of tacit emulation of good offices
between the wife and husband, who had, for so many years, lived in a
state of partial indifference. Mr. Uhler urged the procuring of a
domestic, in place of the girl who had left them, but Mrs. Uhler
said no--their circumstances would not justify the expense. Mr.
Uhler said they could very well afford it, and intimated something
about an expected advance in his salary.
"I do not wish to see you a mere household drudge," he said to her
one day, a few weeks after the change just noted. "You know so well
how every thing ought to be done, that the office of director alone
should be yours. I think there is a brighter day coming for us. I
hope so. From the first of next month, my salary is to be increased
to a thousand dollars. Then we will move from this poor place, into
a better home."
There was a blending of hopefulness and tenderness in the voice of
Mr. Uhler, that touched his wife deeply. Overcome by her feelings,
she laid her face upon his bosom, and wept.
"Whether the day be brighter or darker," she said, when she could
speak calmly, "God helping me, I will be to you a true wife, Herman.
If there be clouds and storms without, the hearth shall only burn
the brighter for you within. Forgive me for the past, dear husband!
and have faith in me for the future. You shall not be disappointed."
And he was not. Mrs. Uhler had discovered her true relation, and had
become conscious of her true duties. She was no longer jealous of
her own rights, and therefore never trespassed on the rights of her
The rapidity with which Mr. Uhler rose to his old position in
business, sometimes caused a feeling of wonder to pervade the mind
of his wife. From a clerk of one thousand, he soon came into the
receipt of two thousand a year, then rose to be a partner in the
business, and in a singularly short period was a man of wealth. Mrs.
Uhler was puzzled, sometimes, at this, and so were other people. It
was even hinted, that he had never been as poor as was pretended. Be
that as it may, as he never afterwards trusted important matters to
the discretion of irresponsible clerks, his business operations went
on prosperously; and, on the other hand, as Mrs. Uhler never again
left the comfort and health of her family entirely in the hands of
ignorant and careless domestics, the home of her husband was the
pleasantest place in the world for him, and his wife, not a mere
upper servant, but a loving and intelligent companion, whom he cared
for and cherished with the utmost tenderness.
THE HUMBLED PHARISEE.
"WHAT was that?" exclaimed Mrs. Andrews, to the lady who was seated
next to her, as a single strain of music vibrated for a few moments
on the atmosphere.
"A violin, I suppose," was answered.
"A violin!" An expression almost of horror came into the countenance
of Mrs. Andrews. "It can't be possible."
It was possible, however, for the sound came again, prolonged and
"What does it mean?" asked Mrs. Andrews, looking troubled, and
moving uneasily in her chair.
"Cotillions, I presume," was answered, carelessly.
"Not dancing, surely!"
But, even as Mrs. Andrews said this, a man entered, carrying in his
hand a violin. There was an instant movement on the part of several
younger members of the company; partners were chosen, and ere Mrs.
Andrews had time to collect her suddenly bewildered thoughts, the
music had struck up, and the dancers were in motion.
"I can't remain here. It's an outrage!" said Mrs. Andrews, making a
motion to rise.
The lady by whom she was sitting comprehended now more clearly her
state of mind, and laying a hand on her arm, gently restrained her.
"Why not remain? What is an outrage, Mrs. Andrews?" she asked.
"Mrs. Burdick knew very well that I was a member of the church." The
lady's manner was indignant.
"All your friends know that, Mrs. Andrews," replied the other. A
third person might have detected in her tones a lurking sarcasm. But
this was not perceived by the individual addressed. "But what is
"Wrong! Isn't that wrong?" And she glanced towards the mazy wreath
of human figures already circling on the floor. "I could not have
believed it of Mrs. Burdick; she knew that I was a professor of
"She doesn't expect you to dance, Mrs. Andrews," said the lady.
"But she expects me to countenance the sin and folly by my
"Sin and folly are strong terms, Mrs. Andrews."
"I know they are, and I use them advisedly. I hold it a sin to
"I know wise and good people who hold a different opinion."
"Wise and good!" Mrs. Andrews spoke with strong disgust. "I wouldn't
give much for their wisdom and goodness--not I!"
"The true qualities of men and women are best seen at home. When
people go abroad, they generally change their attire--mental as well
as bodily. Now, I have seen the home-life of certain ladies, who do
not think it sin to dance, and it was full of the heart's warm
sunshine; and I have seen the home-life of certain ladies who hold
dancing to be sinful, and I have said to myself, half shudderingly:
"What child can breathe that atmosphere for years, and not grow up
with a clouded spirit, and a fountain of bitterness in the heart!"
"And so you mean to say," Mrs. Andrews spoke with some asperity of
manner, "that dancing makes people better?--Is, in fact, a means of
"No. I say no such thing."
"Then what do you mean to say? I draw the only conclusion I can
"One may grow better or worse from dancing," said the lady. "All
will depend on the spirit in which the recreation is indulged. In
itself the act is innocent."
Mrs. Andrews shook her head.
"In what does its sin consist?"
"It is an idle waste of time."
"Can you say nothing worse of it?"
"I could, but delicacy keeps me silent."
"Did you ever dance?"
"Me? What a question! No!"
"I have danced often. And, let me say, that your inference on the
score of indelicacy is altogether an assumption."
"Why everybody admits that."
"Not by any means."
"If the descriptions of some of the midnight balls and assemblies
that I have heard, of the waltzing, and all that, be true, then
nothing could be more indelicate,--nothing more injurious to the
young and innocent."
"All good things become evil in their perversions," said the lady.
"And I will readily agree with you, that dancing is perverted, and
its use, as a means of social recreation, most sadly changed into
what is injurious. The same may be said of church going."
"You shock me," said Mrs. Andrews. "Excuse me, but you are profane."
"I trust not. For true religion--for the holy things of the
church--I trust that I have the most profound reverence. But let me
prove what I say, that even church going may become evil."
"I am all attention," said the incredulous Mrs. Andrews.
"You can bear plain speaking."
"Me!" The church member looked surprised.
"Certainly I can. But why do you ask?"
"To put you on your guard,--nothing more."
"Don't fear but what I can bear all the plain speaking you may
venture upon. As to church going being evil, I am ready to prove the
negative against any allegations you can advance. So speak on."
After a slight pause, to collect her thoughts, the lady said:
"There has been a protracted meeting in Mr. B----'s church."
"I know it. And a blessed time it was."
"Yes, every day; and greatly was my soul refreshed and
"Did you see Mrs. Eldridge there?"
"Mrs. Eldridge? No indeed, except on Sunday. She's too
worldly-minded for that."
"She has a pew in your church."
"Yes; and comes every Sunday morning because it is fashionable and
respectable to go to church. As for her religion, it isn't worth
much and will hardly stand her at the last day."
"Why Mrs. Andrews! You shock me! Have you seen into her heart? Do
you know her purposes? Judge not, that ye be not judged, is the
"A tree is known by its fruit," said Mrs. Andrews, who felt the
rebuke, and slightly colored.
"True; and by their fruits shall ye know them," replied the lady.
"But come, there are too many around us here for this earnest
conversation. We will take a quarter of an hour to ourselves in one
of the less crowded rooms. No one will observe our absence, and you
will be freed from the annoyance of these dancers."
The two ladies quietly retired from the drawing rooms. As soon as
they were more alone, the last speaker resumed.
"By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns,
or figs of thistles? Let me relate what I saw and heard in the
families of two ladies during this protracted meeting. One of these
ladies was Mrs. Eldridge. I was passing in her neighborhood about
four o'clock, and as I owed her a call, thought the opportunity a
good one for returning it. On entering, my ears caught the blended
music of a piano, and children's happy voices. From the front
parlor, through the partly opened door, a sight, beautiful to my
eyes, was revealed. Mrs. Eldridge was seated at the instrument, her
sweet babe asleep on one arm, while, with a single hand, she was
touching the notes of a familiar air, to which four children were
dancing. A more innocent, loving, happy group I have never seen. For
nearly ten minutes I gazed upon them unobserved, so interested that
I forgot the questionable propriety of my conduct, and during that
time, not an unkind word was uttered by one of the children, nor did
anything occur to mar the harmony of the scene. It was a sight on
which angels could have looked, nay, did look with pleasure; for,
whenever hearts are tuned to good affections, angels are present.
The music was suspended, and the dancing ceased, as I presented
myself. The mother greeted me with a happy smile, and each of the
children spoke to her visitor with an air at once polite and
"'I've turned nurse for the afternoon, you see,' said Mrs. Eldridge,
cheerfully. 'It's Alice's day to go out, and I never like to trust
our little ones with the chambermaid, who is n't over fond of
children. We generally have a good time on these occasions, for I
give myself up to them entirely. They've read, and played, and told
stories, until tired, and now I've just brightened them up, body and
mind, with a dance.'
"And bright and happy they all looked.
"'Now run up into the nursery for a little while, and build block
houses,' said she, 'while I have a little pleasant talk with my
friend. That's good children. And I want you to be very quiet, for
dear little Eddy is fast asleep, and I'm going to lay him in his
"Away went the children, and I heard no more of them for the half
hour during which I staid. With the child in her arms, Mrs. Eldridge
went up to her chamber, and I went with her. As she was laying him
in the crib, I took from the mantle a small porcelain figure of a
kneeling child, and was examining it, when she turned to me. 'Very
beautiful,' said I. 'It is,' she replied.--'We call it our Eddy,
saying his prayers. There is a history attached to it. Very early I
teach my little ones to say an evening prayer. First impressions are
never wholly effaced; I therefore seek to implant, in the very
dawning of thought, an idea of God, and our dependence on him for
life and all our blessings, knowing that, if duly fixed, this idea
will ever remain, and be the vessel, in after years, for the
reception of truth flowing down from the great source of all truth.
Strangely enough, my little Eddy, so sweet in temper as he was,
steadily refused to say his prayers. I tried in every way that I
could think of to induce him to kneel with the other children, and
repeat a few simple words; but not his aversion thereto was
unconquerable. I at last grew really troubled about it. There seemed
to be a vein in his character that argued no good. One day I saw
this kneeling child in a store. With the sight of it came the
thought of how I might use it. I bought the figure, and did not show
it to Eddy until he was about going to bed. The effect was all I had
hoped to produce. He looked at it for some moments earnestly, then
dropped on his little knees, clasped his white hands, and murmured
the prayer I had so long and so vainly striven to make him repeat.'
"Tears were in the eyes of Mrs. Eldridge, as she uttered the closing
words. I felt that she was a true mother, and loved her children
with a high and holy love. And now, let me give you a picture that
strongly contrasts with this. Not far from Mrs. Eldridge, resides a
lady, who is remarkable for her devotion to the church, and, I am
compelled to say, want of charity towards all who happen to differ
with her--more particularly, if the difference involves church
matters. It was after sundown; still being in the neighborhood, I
embraced the opportunity to make a call. On ringing the bell, I
heard, immediately, a clatter of feet down the stairs and along the
passage, accompanied by children's voices, loud and boisterous. It
was some time before the door was opened, for each of the four
children, wishing to perform the office, each resisted the others'
attempts to admit the visitor. Angry exclamations, rude outcries,
ill names, and struggles for the advantage continued, until the
cook, attracted from the kitchen by the noise, arrived at the scene
of contention, and after jerking the children so roughly as to set
the two youngest crying, swung it open, and I entered. On gaining
the parlor, I asked for the mother of these children.
"'She isn't at home,' said the cook.
"'She's gone to church,' said the oldest of the children.
"'I wish she'd stay at home,' remarked cook in a very disrespectful
way, and with a manner that showed her to be much fretted in her
mind. 'It's Mary's day out, and she knows I can't do anything with
the children. Such children I never saw! They don't mind a word you
say, and quarrel so among themselves, that it makes one sick to hear
"At this moment a headless doll struck against the side of my neck.
It had been thrown by one child at another; missing her aim, she
gave me the benefit of her evil intention. At this, cook lost all
patience, and seizing the offending little one, boxed her soundly,
before I could interfere. The language used by that child, as she
escaped from the cook's hands, was shocking. It made my flesh creep!
"'Did I understand you to say that your mother had gone to church?'
I asked of the oldest child.
"'Yes, ma'am,' was answered. 'She's been every day this week.
There's a protracted meeting.'
"'Give me that book!' screamed a child, at this moment. Glancing
across the room, I saw two of the little ones contending for
possession of a large family Bible, which lay upon a small table.
Before I could reach them, for I started forward, from an impulse of
the moment, the table was thrown over, the marble top broken, and
the cover torn from the sacred volume."
The face of Mrs. Andrews became instantly of a deep crimson. Not
seeming to notice this, her friend continued.
"As the table fell, it came within an inch of striking another child
on the head, who had seated himself on the floor. Had it done so, a
fractured skull, perhaps instant death, would have been the
Mrs. Andrews caught her breath, and grew very pale. The other
"In the midst of the confusion that followed, the father came home.
"'Where is your mother?' he asked of one of the children.
"'Gone to church,' was replied.
"'O dear!' I can hear his voice now, with its tone of
hopelessness,--'This church-going mania is dreadful. I tell my wife
that it is all wrong. That her best service to God is to bring up
her children in the love of what is good and true,--in filial
obedience and fraternal affection. But it avails not.'
"And now, Mrs. Andrews," continued the lady, not in the least
appearing to notice the distress and confusion of her over-pious
friend, whom she had placed upon the rack, "When God comes to make
up his jewels, and says to Mrs. Eldridge, and also to this mother
who thought more of church-going than of her precious little ones,
'Where are the children I gave you?' which do you think will be most
likely to answer, 'Here they are, not one is lost?'"
"Have I not clearly shown you that even church-going may be
perverted into an evil? That piety may attain an inordinate growth,
while charity is dead at the root? Spiritual pride; a vain conceit
of superior goodness because of the observance of certain forms and
ceremonies, is the error into which too many devout religionists
fall. But God sees not as man seeth. He looks into the heart, and
judges his creatures by the motives that rule them."
And, as she said this, she arose, the silent and rebuked Mrs.
Andrews, whose own picture had been drawn, following her down to the
gay drawing rooms.
Many a purer heart than that of the humbled Pharisee beat there
beneath the bosoms of happy maidens even though their feet were
rising and falling in time to witching melodies.
ROMANCE AND REALITY.
"I MET with a most splendid girl last evening," remarked to his
friend a young man, whose fine, intellectual forehead, and clear
bright eye, gave indications of more than ordinary mental
"Who is she?" was the friend's brief question.
"Her name is Adelaide Merton. Have you ever seen her?"
"No, but I have often heard of the young lady."
"As a girl of more than ordinary intelligence?"
"O yes. Don't you remember the beautiful little gems of poetry that
used to appear in the Gazette, under the signature of Adelaide?"
"Very well. Some of them were exquisite, and all indicative of a
fine mind. Was she their author?"
"So I have been told."
"I can very readily believe it; for never have I met with a woman
who possessed such a brilliant intellect. Her power of expression is
almost unbounded. Her sentences are perfect pictures of the scenes
she describes. If she speaks of a landscape, not one of its most
minute features is lost, nor one of the accessories to its
perfection as a whole overlooked. And so of every thing else, in the
higher regions of the intellect, or in the lower forms of nature.
For my own part, I was lost in admiration of her qualities. She will
yet shine in the world."
The young man who thus expressed himself in regard to Adelaide
Merton, was named Charles Fenwick. He possessed a brilliant mind,
which had been well stored. But his views of life were altogether
perverted and erroneous, and his ends deeply tinctured with the love
of distinction, for its own sake. A few tolerably successful
literary efforts, had been met by injudicious over praise, leading
him to the vain conclusion that his abilities were of so high a
character, that no field of action was for him a worthy one that had
any thing to do with what he was pleased to term the ordinary
grovelling pursuits of life. Of course, all mere mechanical
operations were despised, and as a natural consequence, the men who
were engaged in them. So with merchandizing, and also with the
various branches of productive enterprise. They were mere ministers
of the base physical wants of our nature. His mind took in higher
aims than these!
His father was a merchant in moderate circumstances, engaged in a
calling which was of course despised by the son, notwithstanding he
was indebted to his father's constant devotion to that calling for
his education, and all the means of comfort and supposed distinction
that he enjoyed. The first intention of the elder Mr. Fenwick had
been to qualify his son, thoroughly, for the calling of a merchant,
that he might enter into business with him and receive the benefits
of his experience and facilities in trade. But about the age of
seventeen, while yet at college, young Fenwick made the unfortunate
discovery that he could produce a species of composition which he
called poetry. His efforts were praised--and this induced him to go
on; until he learned the art of tolerably smooth versification. This
would all have been well enough had he not imagined himself to be,
in consequence, of vastly increased importance. Stimulated by this
idea, he prosecuted his collegiate studies with renewed diligence,
storing a strong and comprehensive mind with facts and principles in
science and philosophy, that would have given him, in after life, no
ordinary power of usefulness as a literary and professional man, had
not his selfish ends paralysed and perverted the natural energies of
a good intellect.
The father's intention of making him a merchant was, of course,
opposed by the son, who chose one of the learned profession as more
honorable--not more useful; a profession that would give him
distinction--not enable him to fill his right place in society. In
this he was gratified. At the time of his introduction to the
reader, he was known as a young physician without a patient. He had
graduated, but had not yet seen any occasion for taking an office,
as his father's purse supplied all his wants. His pursuits were
mainly literary--consisting of essays and reviews for some of the
periodicals intermixed with a liberal seasoning of pretty fair
rhymes which rose occasionally to the dignity of poetry--or, as he
supposed, to the lofty strains of a Milton or a Dante. Occasionally
a lecture before some literary association brought his name into the
newspapers in connection with remarks that kindled his vanity into a
flame. Debating clubs afforded another field for display, and he
made liberal use of the facility. So much for Charles Fenwick.
Of Adelaide Merton, we may remark, that she was just the kind of a
woman to captivate a young man of Fenwick's character. She was showy
in her style of conversation, but exceedingly superficial. Her
reading consisted principally of poetry and the popular light
literature of the day, with a smattering of history. She could
repeat, in quite an attractive style, many fine passages from Homer,
Virgil, Milton, Shakspeare, Pope, Byron, Shelley, Coleridge, and a
host of lesser lights in the poetic hemisphere--and could quote from
and criticise the philosophy and style of Bulwer with the most
edifying self-satisfaction imaginable--not to enumerate her many
other remarkable characteristics.
A second visit to Adelaide confirmed the first favorable impression
made upon the mind of Fenwick. At the third visit he was half in
love with her, and she more than half in love with him. A fourth
interview completed the work on both sides. At the fifth, the
following conversation terminated the pleasant intercourse of the
evening. They were seated on a sofa, and had been talking of poetry,
and birds, and flowers, green fields, and smiling landscapes, and a
dozen other things not necessary to be repeated at present. A pause
of some moments finally succeeded, and each seemed deeply absorbed
"Adelaide," at length the young man said in a low, musical tone,
full of richness and pathos--"Do you not feel, sometimes, when your
mind rises into the region of pure thoughts, and ranges free among
the beautiful and glorious images that then come and go like angel
visitants, a sense of loneliness, because another cannot share what
brings to you such exquisite delight?"
"Yes--often and often," replied the maiden lifting her eyes to those
of Fenwick, and gazing at him with a tender expression.
"And yet few there are, Adelaide, few indeed who could share such
"Few, indeed," was the response.
"Pardon me, for saying," resumed the young man, "that to you I have
been indebted for such added delights. Rarely, indeed, have I been
able to find, especially among your gentler sex, one who could rise
with me into the refining, elevating, exquisite pleasures of the
imagination. But you have seemed fully to appreciate my sentiments,
and fully to sympathize with them."
To this Adelaide held down her head for a moment or two, the
position causing the blood to deepen in her cheeks and forehead.
Then looking up with an expression of lofty poetic feeling she
"And, until I met you, Mr. Fenwick, I must be frank in saying, that
I have known no one, whose current of thought and feeling--no one
whose love of the beautiful in the ideal or natural--has seemed so
perfect a reflection of my own."
To this followed another pause, longer and more thoughtful than the
first. It was at length broken by Fenwick, who said, in a voice that
"I have an inward consciousness, that sprung into activity when the
first low murmur of your voice fell upon my ear, that you were to me
a kindred spirit. Since that moment, this consciousness has grown
daily more and more distinct, and now I feel impelled, by a movement
which I cannot resist, to declare its existence. First parden this
freedom, Adelaide, and then say if you understand and appreciate
what I have uttered in all frankness and sincerity?"
Not long did our young friend wait for an answer that made him
happier than he had ever been in his life--happy in the first
thrilling consciousness of love deeply and fervently reciprocated.
To both of them, there was a degree of romance about this brief
courtship that fully accorded with their views of love truly so
called. The ordinary cold matter-of-fact way of coming together,
including a cautious and even at times a suspicious investigation of
character, they despised as a mere mockery of the high, spontaneous
confidence which those who are truly capable of loving, feel in each
other--a confidence which nothing can shake. And thus did they
pledge themselves without either having thought of the other's moral
qualities; or either of them having formed any distinct ideas in
regard to the true nature of the marriage relation.
A few months sufficed to comsummate their union, when, in accordance
with the gay young couple's desire, old Mr. Fenwick furnished them
out handsomely, at a pretty heavy expense, in an establishment of
their own. As Charles Fenwick had not, heretofore, shown any
inclination to enter upon the practice of the profession he had
chosen, his father gently urged upon him the necessity of now doing
so. But the idea of becoming a practical doctor, was one that
Charles could not abide. He had no objection to the title, for that
sounded quite musical to his ear; but no farther than that did his
fancy lead him.
"Why didn't I choose the law as a profession?" he would sometimes
say to his young wife. "Then I might have shone. But to bury myself
as a physician, stealing about from house to house, and moping over
sick beds, is a sacrifice of my talents that I cannot think of
without turning from the picture with disgust."
"Nor can I," would be the wife's reply. "And what is more, I never
will consent to such a perversion of your talents."
"Why cannot you study law, even now, Charles?" she asked of him one
day. "With your acquirements, and habits of thought, I am sure you
would soon be able to pass an examination."
"I think that is a good suggestion, Adelaide," her husband replied,
thoughtfully. "I should only want a year or eighteen months for
preparation, and then I could soon place myself in the front rank of
The suggestion of Charles Fenwick's wife was promptly adopted. A
course of legal studies was entered upon, and completed in about two
years. Up to this time, every thing had gone on with our young
couple as smoothly as a summer sea. A beautifully furnished house,
well kept through the attention of two or three servants, gave to
their indoor enjoyments a very important accessory. For money there
was no care, as the elder Mr. Fenwick's purse-strings relaxed as
readily to the hand of Charles as to his own. A pleasant round of
intelligent company, mostly of a literary character, with a full
supply of all the new publications and leading periodicals of the
day, kept their minds elevated into the region of intellectual
enjoyments, and caused them still more to look down upon the
ordinary pursuits of life as far beneath them.
But all this could not last forever. On the day Charles was admitted
to the bar, he received a note from his father, requesting an
immediate interview. He repaired at once to his counting room, in
answer to the parental summons.
"Charles," said the old man, when they were alone, "I have, up to
this time, supplied all your wants, and have done it cheerfully. In
order to prepare you for taking your right place in society, I have
spared no expense in your education, bearing you, after your term of
college life had expired, through two professional courses, so that,
as either a physician or a lawyer, you are fully equal to the task
of sustaining yourself and family. As far as I am concerned, the
tide of prosperity has evidently turned against me. For two years, I
have felt myself gradually going back, instead of forward,
notwithstanding my most earnest struggles to maintain at least the
position already gained. To-day, the notice of a heavy loss
completes my inability to bear the burden of your support, and that
of my own family. You must, therefore, Charles, enter the world for
yourself, and there struggle as I have done, and as all do around
you, for a living. But, as I know that it will be impossible for you
to obtain sufficient practice at once in either law or medicine to
maintain yourself, I will spare you out of my income, which will now
be small in comparison to what it has been, four hundred dollars a
year, for the next two years. You must yourself make up the
deficiency, and no doubt you can easily do so."
"But, father," replied the young man, his face turning pale, "I
cannot, possibly, make up the deficiency. Our rent alone, you know,
is four hundred dollars."
"I am aware of that, Charles. But what then? You must get a house at
one half that rent, and reduce your style of living, proportionably,
in other respects."
"What! And compromise my standing in society? I can never do that,
"Charles," said the old man, looking at his son with a sterner
countenance than he had ever yet put on when speaking to him,
"remember that you have no standing in society which you can truly
call your own. I have, heretofore, held you up, and now that my
sustaining hand is about to be withdrawn, you must fall or rise to
your own level. And I am satisfied, that the sooner you are
permitted to do so the better."
The fact was, that the selfish, and to old Mr. Fenwick, the
heartless manner in which Charles had received the communication of
his changed circumstances, had wounded him exceedingly, and suddenly
opened his eyes to the false relation which his son was holding to
"You certainly cannot be in earnest, father," the son replied, after
a few moments of hurried and painful thought, "in declaring your
intention of throwing me off with a meagre pittance of four hundred
dollars, before I have had a chance to do any thing for myself. How
can I possibly get along on that sum?"
"I do not expect you to live on that, Charles. But the difference
you will have to make up yourself. You have talents and
acquirements. Bring them into useful activity, and you will need
little of my assistance. As for me, as I have already told you, the
tide of success is against me, and I am gradually moving down the
stream. Four hundred dollars is the extent of what I can give you,
and how long the ability to do that may last, Heaven only knows."
Reluctantly the young couple were compelled to give up their
elegantly arranged dwelling, and move into a house of about one half
of its dimensions. In this there was a fixed, cold, common place
reality, that shocked the sensibilities of both even though
throughout the progress of the change, each had remained passive in
the hands of the elder Mr. and Mrs. Fenwick, who had to choose them
a house, and attend to all the arrangements of moving and refitting
the new home. For Charles to have engaged in the vulgar business of
moving household furniture, would have been felt as a disgrace;--and
as for Adelaide, she didn't know how to do any thing in regard to
the matter, and even if she had, would have esteemed such an
employment as entirely beneath her.
While the packing up was going on under the direction of her
husband's mother, Adelaide, half dressed, with an elegant shawl
thrown carelessly about her shoulders, her feet drawn up and her
body reclining upon a sofa, was deeply buried in the last new novel,
while her babe lay in the arms of a nurse, who was thus prevented
from rendering any assistance to those engaged in preparing the
furniture for removal. As for her husband, he was away, in some
professional friend's office, holding a learned discussion upon the
relative merits of Byron and Shelley.
After the removal had been accomplished, and the neat little
dwelling put, as the elder Mrs. Fenwick termed it, into "apple-pie
order" the following conversation took place between her and her
"Adelaide, it will now be necessary for you to let both your nurse
and chambermaid go. Charles cannot possibly afford the expense, as
things now are."
"Let my nurse and chambermaid go!" exclaimed Adelaide, with a look
and tone of profound astonishment.
"Certainly, Adelaide," was the firm reply. "You cannot now afford to
keep three servants."
"But how am I to get along without them? You do not, certainly,
suppose that I can be my own nurse and chambermaid?"
"With your small family," was Mrs. Fenwick's reply, "you can readily
have the assistance of your cook for a portion of the morning in
your chamber and parlors. And as to the nursing part, I should think
that you would desire no higher pleasure than having all the care of
dear little Anna. I was always my own nurse, and never had
assistance beyond that of a little girl."
"It's no use to speak in that way, mother; I cannot do without a
nurse," said Adelaide, bursting into tears. "I couldn't even dress
"The sooner you learn, child, the better," was the persevering reply
of Mrs. Fenwick.
But Adelaide had no idea of dispensing with either nurse or
chambermaid, both of whom were retained in spite of the
remonstrances and entreaties of the mother-in-law.
Driven to the absolute necessity of doing so, Charles Fenwick opened
an office, and advertised for business. Those who have attempted to
make their way, at first, in a large city, at the bar, can well
understand the disappointment and chagrin of Fenwick on finding that
he did not rise at once to distinction, as he had fondly imagined he
would, when he turned his attention, with strong reasons for
desiring success, to the practice of his profession. A few petty
cases, the trifling fees of which he rejected as of no
consideration, were all that he obtained during the first three
months. At the end of this time he found himself in debt to the
baker, butcher, milkman, tailor, dry-goods merchants, and to the
three servants still pertinaciously retained by his wife.--And, as a
climax to the whole, his father's business was brought to a
termination by bankruptcy, and the old man, in the decline of life,
with still a large family dependent upon him for support, thrown
upon the world, to struggle, almost powerless, for a subsistence.
Fortunately, the Presidency of an Insurance Company was tendered
him, with a salary of fifteen hundred dollars per annum. On this he
could barely support those dependent upon him, leaving Charles the
whole task of maintaining himself, his wife, and their child.
To be dunned for money was more than the young man could endure with
any kind of patience. But creditor tradesmen had no nice scruples in
regard to these matters, and duns came, consequently, thick and
fast, until poor Charles was irritated beyond measure. Cold, and
sometimes impatient, and half insulting answers to applications for
money, were not to be endured by the eager applicants for what was
justly their own. Warrants soon followed, as a matter of course,
which had to be answered by a personal appearance before city
magistrates, thus causing the infliction of a deeper mortification
than had yet assailed him. Added to these came the importunities of
his landlord, which was met by a response which was deemed
insulting, and then came a distraint for rent. The due bill of the
father, saved the son this utter prostration and disgrace.
The effect of all this, was to drive far away from their dwelling
the sweet angel of peace and contentment. Fretted and troubled
deeply in regard to his present condition and future prospects,
Charles had no smiling words for his wife. This, of course, pained
her deeply. But she readily found relief from present reality in the
world of pure romance. The more powerful fictions of the day,
especially the highly wrought idealities of Bulwer, and those of his
class, introduced her into a world above that in which she
dwelt,--and there she lingered the greatest portion of her time,
unconscious of the calls of duty, or the claims of affection.
A single year sufficed to break them up entirely. Expenses far
beyond their income, which rose to about three hundred dollars
during the first year of Charles' practice at the bar, brought
warrants and executions, which the father had no power to stay. To
satisfy these, furniture and library had to be sold, and Charles and
his wife, child and nurse, which latter Adelaide would retain, were
thrown upon old Mr. Fenwick, for support.
For four years did they remain a burden upon the father, during
which time, unstimulated to exertion by pressing necessities,
Charles made but little progress as a lawyer. Petty cases he
despised, and generally refused to undertake, and those of more
importance were not trusted to one who had yet to prove himself
worthy of a high degree of legal confidence. At the end of that time
both his father and mother were suddenly removed to the world of
spirits, and he was again thrown entirely upon his own resources.
With no one now to check them in any thing Charles and his wife,
after calculating the results of the next year's legal efforts, felt
fully justfied in renting a handsome house, and furnishing it on
credit. The proceeds of the year's practice rose but little above
four hundred dollars, and at its conclusion they found themselves
involved in a new debt of three thousand dollars. Then came another
breaking up, with all of its harrowing consequences--consequences
which to persons of their habits and mode of thinking, are so deeply
mortifying,--followed by their shrinking away, with a meagre remnant
of their furniture, into a couple of rooms, in an obscure part of
"Adelaide," said the husband, one morning, as he roused himself from
a painful reverie.
"Well, what do you want?" she asked abstractedly, lifting her eyes
with reluctant air from the pages of a novel.
"I want to talk to you for a little while; so shut your book, if you
"Won't some other time do as well? I have just got into the middle
of a most interesting scene."
"No--I wish to talk with you now."
"Well, say on," the wife rejoined, closing the book in her hand,
with her thumb resting upon the page that still retained her
thoughts, and assuming an attitude of reluctant attention.
"There is a school vacant at N----, some twenty miles from the city.
The salary is eight hundred dollars a year, with a house and garden
included. I can get the situation, if I will accept of it."
"And sink to the condition of a miserable country pedagogue?"
"And support my family comfortably and honestly," Fenwick replied in
a tone of bitterness.
"Precious little comfort will your family experience immured in an
obscure country village, without a single congenial associate. What
in the name of wonder has put that into your head?"
"Adelaide! I cannot succeed at the bar--at least, not for years. Of
that I am fully satisfied. It is absolutely necessary, therefore,
that I should turn my attention to something that will supply the
pressing demands of my family."
"But surely you can get into something better than the office of
schoolmaster, to the sons of clodpoles."
"I'm sure I cannot tell. That is a matter for you to think about,"
and so saying, Mrs. Fenwick re-opened her book, and commenced poring
again over the pages of the delightful work she held in her hand.
Irritated, and half disgusted at this, a severe reproof trembled on
his tongue, but he suppressed it. In a few minutes after he arose,
and left the apartment without his wife seeming to notice the
"Good morning, Mr. Fenwick!" said a well known individual, coming
into the lawyer's office a few minutes after he had himself entered.
"That trial comes on this afternoon at four o'clock."
"Well, John, I can't help it. The debt is a just one, but I have no
means of meeting it now."
"Try, and do so if you can, Mr. Fenwick, for the plaintiff is a good
deal irritated about the matter, and will push the thing to
"I should be sorry for that. But if so, let him use his own
pleasure. Take nothing from nothing, and nothing remains."
"You had better come then with security, Mr. Fenwick, for my orders
are, to have an execution issued against your person, as soon as the
case is decided."
"You are not in earnest, John?" suddenly ejaculated the lawyer,
rising to his feet, and looking at the humble minister of the law
with a pale cheek and quivering lip. "Surely Mr.----is not going to
push matters to so uncalled-for an extremity!"
"Such, he positively declares, is his fixed determination. So hold
yourself prepared, sir, to meet even this unpleasant event."
The debt for which the warrant had been issued against Mr. Fenwick,
amounted to ninety dollars.
The whole of the remaining part of that day was spent in the effort
to obtain security in the case. But in vain. His friends knew too
well his inability to protect them from certain loss, should they
step between him and the law. Talents, education, brilliant
addresses, fine poetry "and all that," turned to no good and useful
ends, he found availed him nothing now. Even many of those with whom
he had been in intimate literary association, shrunk away from the
penniless individual, and those who did not actually shun him had
lost much of their former cordiality.
The idea of being sent to jail for debt, was to him a terrible one.
And he turned from it with a sinking at the heart. He said nothing
to Adelaide on returning home in the evening, for the high communion
of spirit, in which they had promised themselves such deep and
exquisite delight, had long since given place to coldness, and a
state of non-sympathy. He found her deeply buried, as usual, in some
volume of romance, while every thing around her was in disorder, and
full of unmitigated realities. They were living alone in two small
rooms, and the duty of keeping them in order and providing their
frugal meals devolved as a heavy task upon Adelaide--so heavy, that
she found it utterly impossible to do it justice.
The fire--that essential preliminary to household operations--had
not even been made, when Fenwick reached home, and the dinner table
remained still on the floor, with its unwashed dishes strewn over
it, in admirable confusion.
With a sigh, Adelaide resigned her book, soon after her husband came
in, and commenced preparations for the evening meal. This was soon
ready, and despatched in silence, except so far as the aimless
prattle of their little girl interrupted it. Tea over, Mrs. Fenwick
put Anna to bed, much against her will, and then drew up to the
table again with her book.
Cheerless and companionless did her husband feel as he let his eye
fall upon her, buried in selfish enjoyment, while his own heart was
wrung with the bitterest recollections and the most heart-sickening
Thoughts of the gaming table passed through his mind, and with the
thought he placed his hand involuntarily upon his pocket. It was
empty. Sometimes his mind would rise into a state of vigorous
activity, with the internal consciousness of a power to do any
thing. But, alas--it was strength without skill--intellectual power
without the knowledge to direct it aright.
Late on the next morning he arose from a pillow that had been
blessed with but little sleep, and that unrefreshing. It was past
eleven o'clock before Adelaide had breakfast on the table. This
over, she, without even dressing Anna or arranging her own person
sat down to her novel, while he gave himself to the most gloomy and
desponding reflections. He feared to go out lest the first man he
should meet, should prove an officer with an execution upon his
About one o'clock, sick and weary of such a comfortless home, he
went out, glad of any change. Ten steps from his own door, he was
met by a constable who conveyed him to prison.
Several hours passed before his crushed feelings were aroused
sufficiently to cause him even to think of any means of extrication.
When his mind did act, it was with clearness, vigor, and decision.
The walls of a jail had something too nearly like reality about
them, to leave much of the false sentiment which had hitherto marred
his prospects in life. There was, too, something deeply humiliating
in his condition of an imprisoned debtor.
"What shall I do?" he asked himself, towards the close of the day,
with a strong resolution to discover the best course of action, and
to pursue that course, unswayed by any extraneous influences. The
thought of his wife came across his mind.
"Shall I send her word where I am?"--A pause of some moments
succeeded this question.
"No," he at length said, half aloud, while an expression of pain
flitted over his countenance. "It is of little consequence to her
where I am or what I suffer. She is, I believe, perfectly
But Fenwick was mistaken in this. She needed, as well as himself,
some powerful shock to awaken her to true consciousness. That shock
proved to be the knowledge of her husband's imprisonment for debt,
which she learned early on the next morning, after the passage of an
anxious and sleepless night, full of strange forebodings of
approaching evil. She repaired, instantly, to the prison, her heart
melted down into true feeling. The interview between herself and
husband was full of tenderness, bringing out from each heart the
mutual affections which had been sleeping there, alas! too long.
But one right course presented itself to the mind of either of them,
and that was naturally approved by both, as the only proper one. It
was for Fenwick to come out of prison under the act of insolvency,
and thus free himself from the trammels of past obligations, which
could not possibly be met.
This was soon accomplished, the requisite security for his personal
appearance to interrogatories being readily obtained.
"And now, Adelaide, what is to be done?" he asked of his wife, as he
sat holding her hand in his, during the first hour of his release
from imprisonment. His own mind had already decided--still he was
anxious for her suggestion, if she had any to make.
"Can you still obtain that school you spoke of?" she asked with much
interest in her tone.
"Yes. The offer is still open."
"Then take it, Charles, by all means. One such lesson as we have
had, is enough for a life time. Satisfied am I, now, that we have
not sought for happiness in the right paths."
The school was accordingly taken, and with humbled feelings, modest
expectations, and a mutual resolution to be satisfied with little,
did Charles Fenwick and his wife re-commence the world at the bottom
of the ladder. That he was sincere in his new formed resolutions, is
evident from the fact, that in a few years he became the principal
of a popular literary institution, for which office he was fully
qualified. She, too, learned, by degrees, to act well her part in
all her relations, social and domestic--and now finds far more
pleasure in the realities, than she ever did in the romance of life.
BOTH TO BLAME.
"OF course, both are to blame."
"Of course. You may always set that down as certain when you see two
persons who have formerly been on good terms fall out with each
other. For my part, I never take sides in these matters. I listen to
what both have to say, and make due allowance for the wish of either
party to make his or her own story appear most favorable."
Thus we heard two persons settling a matter of difference between a
couple of their friends, and it struck us at the time as not being
exactly the true way in all cases. In disputes and differences,
there are no doubt times when both are _equally_ to blame; most
generally, however, one party is _more_ to blame than the other. And
it not unfrequently happens that one party to a difference is not at
all to blame, but merely stands on a just and honorable defensive.
The following story, which may or may not be from real life, will
illustrate the latter position.
"Did you hear about Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Tarleton?" said one friend
"No; what is the matter?"
"They are up in arms against each other."
"Indeed; it's the first I've heard of it. What is the cause?"
"I can hardly tell; but I know that they don't speak. Mrs. Tarleton
complains bitterly against Mrs. Bates; and Mrs. Bates, they say, is
just as bitter against her. For my part, I've come to the conclusion
that both are to blame."
"There is no doubt of that. I never knew a case of this kind where
both were not to blame."
"But don't you know the ground of the difference?"
"They say it is about a head-dress."
"I'll be bound dress has something to do with it," grumbled out Mr.
Brierly, the husband of one of the ladies, who sat reading a
newspaper while they were talking.
"My husband is disposed to be a little severe on the ladies at
times, but you musn't mind him. _I_ never do," remarked Mrs.
Brierly, half sarcastically, although she looked at her husband with
a smile as she spoke. "He thinks we care for nothing but dress. I
tell him it is very well for him and the rest of the world that we
have some little regard at least to such matters. I am sure if I
didn't think a good deal about dress, he and the children would soon
look like scarecrows."
Mr. Brierly responded to this by a "Humph!" and resumed the perusal
of his newspaper.
"It is said," resumed Mrs. Brierly, who had been asked to state the
cause of the unhappy difference existing between the two ladies,
"that Mrs. Bates received from her sister in New York a new and very
beautiful head-dress, which had been obtained through a friend in
Paris. Mrs. Tarleton wanted it very badly, and begged Mrs. Bates for
the pattern; but she refused to let her have it, because a grand
party was to be given by the Listons in a few weeks, and she wanted
to show it off there herself. Mrs. Tarleton, however, was not going
to take 'no' for an answer; she had set her heart upon the
head-dress and must have it. You know what a persevering woman she
is when she takes anything into her head. Well, she called in almost
every day to see Mrs. Bates, and every time she would have something
to say about the head-dress, and ask to see it. In this way she got
the pattern of it so perfectly in her mind that she was able to
direct a milliner how to make her one precisely like it. All unknown
to Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Tarleton came to the party wearing this new
style of head-dress, which made her so angry when she discovered it,
that she insulted Mrs. Tarleton openly, and then retired from the
"Is it possible!"
"That, I believe, is about the truth of the whole matter. I have
sifted it pretty closely."
"Well, I declare! I was at the party, but I saw nothing of this. I
remember Mrs. Tarleton's head-dress, however, very well. It
certainly was very beautiful, and has become quite fashionable
"Yes, and is called by some the Tarleton head-dress, from the first
wearer of it."
"This no doubt galls Mrs. Bates severely. They say she is a vain
"It is more than probable that this circumstance has widened the
"I must say," remarked the other lady, "that Mrs. Tarleton did not
"No, she certainly did not. At the same time, I think Mrs. Bates was
served perfectly right for her selfish vanity. It wouldn't have hurt
her at all if there had been two or three head-dresses there of
exactly the pattern of hers. But extreme vanity always gets
mortified, and in this case I think justly so."
"Besides, it was very unladylike to insult Mrs. Tarleton in public."
"Yes, or anywhere else. She should have taken no notice of it
whatever. A true lady, under circumstances of this kind, seems
perfectly unaware of what has occurred. She shuns, with the utmost
carefulness, any appearance of an affront at so trivial a matter,
even if she feels it."
Such was the opinion entertained by the ladies in regard to the
misunderstanding, as some others called it, that existed between
Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Tarleton. Both were considered to blame, and
nearly equally so; but whether the parties really misunderstood
their own or each other's true position will be seen when the truth
Mrs. Bates did receive, as has been stated, a beautiful head-dress
from a sister in New York, who had obtained it from a friend in
Paris. The style was quite attractive, though neither unbecoming nor
showy. Mrs. Bates had her own share of vanity, and wished to appear
at a large party soon to take place, in this head-dress, where she
knew it must attract attention. Although a little vain, a fault that
we can easily excuse in a handsome woman, Mrs. Bates had a high
sense of justice and right, and possessed all a lady's true delicacy
The head-dress, after being admired, was laid aside for the occasion
refrered to. A few days afterwards, Mrs. Tarleton, an acquaintance,
"I have something beautiful to show you," said Mrs. Bates, after she
had chatted awhile with her visitor.
"Indeed! What is it?"
"The sweetest head-dress you ever saw. My sister sent it to me from
New York, and she had it direct from a friend in Paris, where it was
all the fashion. Mine I believe to be the only one yet received in
the city, and I mean to wear it at Mrs. Liston's party.
"Do let me see it," said Mrs. Tarleton, all alive with expectation.
She had an extravagant love of dress, and was an exceedingly vain
The head-dress was produced. Mrs. Tarleton lifted her hands and
"The loveliest thing I ever saw! Let me try it on," she said, laying
off her bonnet and taking the head-dress from the hands of Mrs.
Bates. "Oh, it is sweet! I never looked so well in anything in my
life," she continued, viewing herself in the glass. "I wish I could
beg it from you; but that I havn't the heart to do."
Mrs. Bates smiled and shook her head, but made no reply.
"Here, you put it on, and let me see how you look in it," went on
Mrs. Tarleton, removing the cap from her own head and placing it
upon that of her friend. "Beautiful! How well it becomes you! you
must let me have the pattern. We can wear them together at the
party. Two will attract more attention than one."
"I am sorry to deny you," replied Mrs. Bates, "but I think I shall
have to be alone in my glory this time."
"Indeed, you must let me have the pattern, Mrs. Bates. I never saw
anything in my life that pleased me so much, nor anything in which I
looked so well. I have been all over town for a head-dress without
fnding anything I would wear. If you don't let me have one like
yours, I do not know what I will do. Come now, say yes, that is a
But Mrs. Bates said no as gently as she could. It was asking of her
too much. She had set her heart upon appearing in that head-dress as
something new and beautiful, and could not consent to share the
distinction, especially with Mrs. Tarleton, for whom, although a
friend, she entertained not the highest esteem, and for the reason
that Mrs. Tarleton had rather a vulgar mind, and lacked a lady's
true perceptions of propriety.
"Well, I must say you are a selfish woman," returned Mrs. Tarleton,
good-humoredly, and yet meaning what she said. "It wouldn't do you a
bit of harm to let me have the pattern, and would gratify me more
than I can tell."
"I'll tell you what I will do," said Mrs. Bates, to this, with a
reluctant effort that was readily perceived by her visitor, "I will
give you the head-dress and let you wear it, as long as you seem to
have set your heart so upon it."
"Oh no, no; you know I wouldn't do that. But it seems strange that
you are not willing for us to wear the same head-dress."
The indelicate pertinacity of her visitor annoyed Mrs. Bates very
much, and she replied to this rather more seriously than she had
"The fact is, Mrs. Tarleton," she said, "this head-dress is one that
cannot fail to attract attention. I have several very intimate
friends, between whom and myself relations of even a closer kind
exist than have yet existed between you and me. If I give you the
pattern of this cap and the privilege of wearing it with me for the
first time it is seen in this city, these friends will have just
cause to think hard of me for passing them by. This is a reason that
would inevitably prevent me from meeting your wishes, even if I were
indifferent about appearing in it myself alone."
"I suppose I must give it up, then," said Mrs. Tarleton, in a
slightly disappointed tone.
"As I said before," returned Mrs. Bates, "I will defer the matter
entirely to you. You shall have the head-dress and I will choose
some other one."
"Oh no; I couldn't think of such a thing," returned Mrs. Tarleton.
"That is more than I ought to ask or you to give."
"It is the best I can do," Mrs. Bates said, with a quiet smile.
"Sister," said Mrs. Tarleton, on returning home, "you can't imagine
what a sweet head-dress Mrs. Bates has just received from Paris
through her sister in New York. It is the most unique and beautiful
thing I ever saw. I tried hard for the pattern, but the selfish
creature wouldn't let me have it. She is keeping it for the Liston's
party, where it will be the admiration of every one."
"What is it like?"
"Oh, I can't begin to describe it. It is altogether novel. I wish
now I had asked her to let me bring it home to show it to you."
"I wish you had. You must go there again and get it for me."
"I believe I will call in again to-morrow.--Perhaps she will have
thought better of it by that time, and changed her mind. At any
rate, if not, I will ask her to let me bring it home and show it to
This was done. Mrs. Bates did not object to letting Mrs. Tarleton
take the head-dress and show it to her sister, for she had the
fullest confidence that she would not do anything with it that she
knew was against her wishes, which had been clearly expressed.
The sister of Mrs. Tarleton was in raptures with the head-dress.
"It is right down mean and selfish in Mrs. Bates not to let you have
the pattern," she said. "What a vain woman she must be. I always
thought better of her."
"So did I. But this shows what she is."
"If I were you," remarked the sister, "I would have it in spite of
her. It isn't _her_ pattern, that she need pretend hold it so
exclusively. It is a Paris fashion, and any body else may get it
just as well as she. She has no property in it."
"No, of course not."
"Then while you have the chance, take it to Madame Pinto and get her
to make you one exactly like it."
"I have a great mind to do it; it would serve her perfectly right."
"I wouldn't hesitate a moment," urged the sister. "At the last
party, Mrs. Bates managed to have on something new that attracted
every one and threw others into the shade, I wouldn't let her have
another such triumph."
Thus urged by her sister, Mrs. Tarleton yielded to the evil counsel,
which was seconded by her own heart. The head-dress was taken to
Madame Pinto, who, after a careful examination of it, said that she
would make one exactly similar for Mrs. Tarleton. After charging the
milliner over and over again to keep the matter a profound secret,
Mrs. Tarleton went away and returned the head-dress to Mrs. Bates.
It had been in her possession only a couple of hours.
Mrs. Pinto was a fashionable milliner and dress maker, and was
patronized by the most fashionable people in the city, Mrs. Bates
among the rest. The latter had called in the aid of this woman in
the preparation of various little matters of dress to be worn at the
party. Three or four days after Mrs. Tarleton's visit to Mrs. Pinto
with the head-dress, Mrs. Bates happened to step in at the
milliner's, who, during their consultation, about little matters of
dress, drew the lady aside, saying--"I've got something that I know
I can venture to show you.--It's for the party, and the loveliest
thing you ever saw."
As she said this she took from a box a facsimile of Mrs. Bates' own
beautiful head-dress, and held it up with looks of admiration.
"Isn't it sweet?" she said.
"It is the most beautiful head-dress I ever saw," replied Mrs.
Bates, concealing her surprise. "Who is it for?"
"It's a secret, but I can tell _you_. It is for Mrs. Tarleton."
"Ah! Where did she get the pattern?"
"I don't know; she brought it here, but said she couldn't leave it
for the world. I had to study it all out, and then make it from my
recollection of the pattern."
"The pattern did not belong to her?"
"Oh, no. Somebody had it who was going to show it off at the party,
she said; but she meant to surprise her."
"Have you any new patterns for head-dresses not chosen by the ladies
who have made selections of you for Mrs. Liston's party?" asked Mrs.
Bates, not seeming to notice the reply of Mrs. Pinto.
"Oh, yes, ma'am, a good many," and half-a-dozen really handsome
head-dresses were shown--none, however, that pleased her half so
well as the one she was about throwing aside. She suited herself
from the assortment shown her, and directed it to be sent home.
Mrs. Bates felt justly outraged at the conduct of Mrs. Tarleton, but
she did not speak of what had taken place, except to one or two very
intimate friends and to her husband. The evening of the party at
length arrived. Mrs. Tarleton was there a little earlier than Mrs.
Bates, in all the glory of her ungenerous triumph. The beautiful
head-dress she wore attracted every eye, and in the admiration won
by the display of her taste, she lost all the shame she had felt in
anticipation of meeting Mrs. Bates, to whom her meanness and
dishonesty would be at once apparent.
At length she saw this lady enter the parlors by the side of her
husband, and noticed with surprise that her head-dress was entirely
different from the one she wore. The truth flashed across her mind.
Mrs. Pinto had betrayed her secret, and Mrs. Bates, justly outraged
by what had occurred, had thrown aside her beautiful cap and
Now Mrs. Bates was a woman whom Mrs. Tarleton would be sorry to
offend seriously, because her position in certain circles was
undoubted, while her own was a little questionable. The fact that
Mrs. Bates had declined wearing so beautiful a head-dress because
she had obtained one of the same pattern by unfair means, made her
fear that serious offence had been given, and dashed her spirits at
once. She was not long left in doubt. Before ten minutes had elapsed
she was thrown into immediate contact with Mrs. Bates, from whom she
received a polite but cold bow.
Mrs. Tarleton was both hurt and offended at this, and immediately
after the party, commenced talking about it and mis-stating the
whole transaction, so as not to appear so much to blame as she
really was. Mrs. Bates, on the contrary, said little on the subject,
except to a few very intimate friends, and to those who made free to
ask her about it, to whom she said, after giving fairly the cause of
complaint against Mrs. Tarleton--"I spoke to her coldly because I
wished our more intimate acquaintance to cease. Her conduct was
unworthy of a lady, and therefore I cannot and will not consider her
among my friends. No apologies, if she would even make them, could
change the wrong spirit from which she acted, or make her any more
worthy of my confidence, esteem or love."
"But you will surely forgive her?" said one.
"The wrong done to me I am ready enough to forgive, for it is but a
trifling matter; but the violation of confidence and departure from
a truly honest principle, of which she has been guilty, I cannot
forgive, for they are not sins against me, but against Heaven's
first and best laws."
But that did not satisfy some. Persons calling themselves mutual
friends strove hard to reconcile what they were pleased to call a
misunderstanding in which "both were to blame." But it availed not.
To their interference, Mrs. Bates usually replied--"If it will be
any satisfaction to Mrs. Tarleton to be recognized by me and treated
kindly and politely in company, I will most cheerfully yield her all
that; but I cannot feel towards her as heretofore, because I have
been deceived in her, and find her to be governed by principles that
I cannot approve. We can never again be on terms of intimacy."
But it was impossible to make some understand the difference between
acting from principle and wounded pride. The version given by Mrs.
Tarleton was variously modified as it passed from mouth to mouth,
until it made Mrs. Bates almost as much to blame as herself, and
finally, as the coldness continued until all intercourse at last
ceased, it was pretty generally conceded, except by a very few, that
"both were about equally to blame."
The reader can now make up his own mind on the subject from what has
been related. For our part, we do not think Mrs. Bates at all to
blame in at once withdrawing herself from intimate association with
such a woman as Mrs. Tarleton showed herself to be, and we consider
that a false charity which would seek to interfere with or set aside
the honest indignation that should always be felt in similar cases
of open betrayal of confidence and violation of honest and honorable
We have chosen a very simple and commonplace incident upon which to
"hang a moral."--But it is in the ordinary pursuits of business and
pleasure where the true character is most prone to exhibit itself,
and we must go there if we would read the book of human life aright.
IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
"WAS N'T that young Sanford?" asked Mrs. Larkin of her husband, as
the two stood at a window of their dwelling one Sunday afternoon,
noticing the passers by. The individual she alluded to was a young
man who had ridden gaily along on a spirited horse.
"Yes," was the reply.
"He rides past here almost every Sunday afternoon, and often in
company with Harriet Meadows. He is quite a dashing young fellow."
"He is dashing far beyond his ostensible means. I wonder at Millard
for keeping him in his store. I would soon cast adrift any one of my
clerks who kept a fast horse, and sported about with the gay
extravagance that Sanford does. His salary does not, I am sure, meet
half his expenses. I have heard some of my young men speak of his
habits. They say money with him is no consideration. He spends it as
freely as water."
"Strange that his employer does not see this!"
"It is. But Millard is too unsuspicious, and too ignorant of what is
going on out of the narrow business circle. He is like a horse in a
mill. He sees nothing outside of a certain limit. He gets up in the
morning, dresses himself, goes to his store, and then devotes
himself to business until dinner time. Then he goes home and dines.
After this he comes back to his store and stays until night. His
evenings are either spent in reading or dozing at home, or with a
neighbor at checkers. On Sunday morning he goes to church, in the
afternoon he sleeps to kill time, and in the evening retires at