Part 3 out of 4
to be laid out with the most thoughtful economy. Eugenia no longer
went out, except to visit her father. Mrs. Gaston brought home as
much work from the shop as both of them could do, and received the
money for it when it was done, which all went into a common fund.
Thus the time wore on, Eugenia feeling happier than she had felt for
many weary years. Mrs. Gaston had been a mother to her while she
lived in Troy, and Eugenia entertained for her a deep affection.
Their changed lot, hard and painful though it was, drew them closer
together, and united them in a bond of mutual tenderness.
New Year's day at last came, and the mother, who had looked forward
so anxiously for its arrival, that she might see her boy once more,
felt happier in the prospect of meeting him than she had been for a
long time. Since his departure, she had not heard a single word from
him, which caused her to feel painfully anxious. But this day was to
put an end to her mind's prolonged and painful suspense, in regard
to him. From about nine o'clock in the morning, she began to look
momently for his arrival. But the time slowly wore on, and yet he
did not come. Ten, eleven twelve, one o'clock came and went, and the
boy was still absent from his mother, whose heart yearned to see his
fair face, and to hear his voice, so pleasant to her ear, with
unutterable longings. But still the hours went by--two, three, four,
and then the dusky twilight began to fall, bringing with it the
heart-aching assurance that her boy would not come home. The tears,
which she had restrained all day, now flowed freely, and her
over-excited feelings gave way to a gush of bitter grief. The next
day came and went, and the next, and the next--but there was no word
from Henry. And thus the days followed each other, until the severe
month of January passed away. So anxious and excited did the poor
mother now become, that she could remain passive no longer. She must
see or hear from her child. Doctor R--had obtained him his place,
and to him she repaired.
"But haven't you seen your little boy since he went to Lexington?"
the doctor asked, in some surprise.
"Indeed, I have not; and Mr. Sharp promised to bring him home on New
Year's day," replied the mother.
"Mr. Sharp! Mr. Sharp!" ejaculated the doctor, thoughtfully. "Is
that the name of the man who has your son?"
"Yes, sir. That is his name."
Doctor R--arose and took two or three turns across the floor at
this, and, then resuming his seat, said--
"You shall see your son to-morrow, Mrs. Gaston. I will myself go to
Lexington and bring him home. I had no idea that the man had not
kept his promise with you. And, as I got Henry the place, I must see
that his master is as good as his word in regard to him."
With this assurance, Mrs. Gaston returned home, and with a lighter
PERKINS ANXIOUSLY SEEKS LIZZY GLENN.
ONE Morning, a few days after the young man named Perkins had
related to his friend the history of his attachment to Miss
Ballantine and his subsequent bereavement, he opened a letter which
came by mail, among several relating to business, postmarked New
Orleans. It was from an old friend, who had settled there. Among
other matters, was this paragraph:--
"I heard something the other day that surprised me a good deal, and,
as it relates to a subject in which no one can feel a deeper
interest than yourself, I have thought it right to mention it. It is
said that, about a year and a half ago, a young woman and her father
suddenly made their appearance here, and claimed to be Mr. and Miss
Ballantine. Their story, or rather the story of the daughter (for
the father, it is, said, was out of his mind), was that the ship in
which they sailed from New York had been burned at sea, and that a
few of the passengers had been saved in a boat, which floated about
until all died but herself and father; that they were taken up
almost exhausted, by a Dutch East Indiaman, and that this vessel
when near the Cape of Good Hope, encountered a gale, and was blown
far off south, losing two of her masts; and that she was finally
wrecked upon an uninhabited island, and the few saved from her
compelled to remain there for nearly two years before being
discovered and taken off. This story was not believed. Mr.
Paralette, it is said, who has retained possession of all Mr.
Ballantine's property since his absence, was waited upon by the
young woman; but he repulsed her as an impostor, and refused to make
the least investigation into her case. He had his own reasons for
this, it is also said. Several of Mr. Ballantine's old friends
received notes from her; but none believed her story, especially as
the man she called her father bore little or no resemblance to Mr.
Ballantine. But it is now said, by many, that loss of reason and
great physical suffering had changed him, as these would change any
man. Discouraged, disheartened, and dismayed at the unexpected
repulse she met, it is supposed by some, who now begin to half
believe the story, that she died in despair. Others say that the
same young woman who called upon Mr. Paralette has occasionally been
seen here; And it is also said that two of our most eminent
physicians were engaged by a young woman, about whom there was to
them something singular and inexplicable, for nearly a year and a
half to attend her father, who was out of his mind, but that they
failed to give him any relief. These things are now causing a good
deal of talk here in private circles, and I have thought it best to
make you aware of the fact."
From that time until the cars left for New York, Perkins was in a
state of strong inward excitement. Hurriedly arranging his business
for an absence of some weeks, he started for the South late in the
afternoon, without communicating to any one the real cause of his
sudden movement. After an anxious journey of nearly two weeks, he
arrived in New Orleans, and called immediately upon Mr. Paralette,
and stated the rumor he had heard. That gentleman seemed greatly
surprised, and even startled at the earnestness of the young man,
and more particularly so when he learned precisely the relation in
which he stood to the daughter of Mr. Ballantine.
"I remember the fact," was his reply. "But then, the young woman
was, of course, a mere pretender."
"But how do you know?" urged Mr. Perkins. "Did you take any steps to
ascertain the truth of her story?"
"Of course not. Why should I? An old friend of her father's called
upon them at the hotel, and saw the man that was attempted to be put
off by an artful girl as Mr. Ballantine. But he said the man bore no
kind of resemblance to that person. He was old and white-headed. He
was in his dotage--a simple old fool--passive in the hands of a
"Did you see him?"
"Strange that you should not!" Perkins replied, looking the man
steadily in the face. "Bearing the relation that you did to Mr.
Ballantine, it might be supposed that you would have been the first
to see the man, and the most active to ascertain the truth or
falsity of the story."
"I do not permit any one to question me in regard to my conduct,"
Mr. Paralette said, in an offended tone, turning from the excited
Perkins saw that he had gone too far, and endeavored to modify and
apologize: but the merchant repulsed him, and refused to answer any
more questions, or to hold any further conversation with him on the
The next step taken by the young man was to seek out his friend, and
learn from him all the particular rumors on the subject, and who
would be most likely to put him in the way of tracing the
individuals he was in search of. But he found, when he got fairly
started on the business for which he had come to New Orleans, that
he met with but little encouragement. Some shrugged their shoulders,
some smiled in his face, and nearly every one treated the matter
with a degree of indifference. Many had heard that a person claiming
to be Miss Ballantine had sent notes to a few of Mr. Ballantine's
old friends about two years previous; but no one seemed to have the
least doubt of her being an impostor. A week passed in fruitless
efforts to awaken any interest, or to create the slightest
disposition to inquiry among Mr. B.'s old friends. The story told by
the young woman they considered as too improbable to bear upon its
face the least appearance of truth.
"Why," was the unanswerable argument of many, "has nothing been
heard of the matter since? If that girl had really been Miss
Ballantine, and that simple old man her father, do you think we
should have heard no more on the subject? The imposition was
immediately detected, and the whole matter quashed at once."
Failing to create any interest in the minds of those he had supposed
would have been most eager to prosecute inquiry, but led on by
desperate hope, Perkins had an advertisement inserted in all the
city papers, asking the individuals who had presented themselves
some eighteen months before as Mr. Ballantine and his daughter, to
call upon him at his rooms in the hotel. A week passed, but no one
responded to the call. He then tried to ascertain the names of the
physicians who, it was said, had attended an old man for imbecility
of mind, at the request of a daughter who seemed most deeply devoted
to him. In this he at length proved successful.
"I did attend such a case," was at last replied to his oft-repeated
"Then, my dear sir," said Perkins, in a deeply excited voice, "tell
me where they are."
"That, my young friend, is, really out of my power," returned the
physician. "It is some time since I visited them."
"What was their name?" asked the young man.
"Glenn, if I recollect rightly."
"Glenn! Glenn!" said Perkins, starting, and then pausing to think.
"Was the daughter a tall, pale, slender girl, with light brown
"She was. And though living in the greatest seclusion was a woman of
refinement and education."
"You can direct me, of course, to the house where they live?"
"I can. But you will not, I presume, find them there. The daughter,
when I last saw her, said that she had resolved on taking her father
on to Boston, in order to try the effects of the discipline of the
Massachusetts Insane Hospital upon him, of which she had seen a very
favorable report. I encouraged her to go, and my impression is that
she is already at the North."
"Glenn! Glenn!" said Perkins, half aloud, and musingly, as the
doctor ceased. "Yes! it must be, it is the same! She was often seen
visiting Charlestown, and going in the direction of the hospitals.
Yes! yes! It must be she!"
Waiting only long enough in New Orleans to satisfy himself that the
persons alluded to by the physician had actually removed from the
place where they resided some months before, and with the declared
intention of going North, Perkins started home by the quickest route
from New Orleans to the North. It was about the middle of February
when he arrived in Boston. Among the first he met was Milford, to
whom he had written from New Orleans a full account of the reason of
his visiting that place so suddenly, and of his failure to discover
the persons of whom he was in search.
"My dear friend, I am glad to see you back!" said Milford,
earnestly, as he grasped the hand of Perkins. "I wrote you a week
ago, but, of course, that letter has not been received, and you are
doubtless in ignorance of what has come to my knowledge within the
last few days."
"Tell me, quickly, what you mean!" said Perkins, grasping the arm of
"Be calm, and I will tell you," replied Milford. "About a week ago I
learned, by almost an accident, from the transfer clerk in the bank,
that the young woman whom we knew as Lizzy Glenn had, early in the
fall, come to the bank with certificates of stock, and had them
transferred to the Massachusetts Insane Hospital, to be held by that
institution so long as one Hubert Ballantine remained an inmate of
"Well?" eagerly gasped Perkins.
"I know no more. It is for you to act in the matter; I could not."
Without a moment's delay, Perkins procured a vehicle, and in a
little while was at the door of the institution.
"Is there a Mr. Ballantine in the asylum?" he asked, in breathless
eagerness, of one of the attendants who answered his summons.
"No, sir," was the reply.
"But," said Perkins in a choking voice, "I have been told that there
was a man here by that name."
"So there was. But he left here about five days ago, perfectly
restored to reason."
Perkins leaned for a moment or two against the wall to support
himself. His knees bent under him. Then he asked in an agitated
"Is he in Boston?"
"I do not know. He was from the South, and his daughter has, in all
probability, taken him home."
"Where did they go when they left here?"
But the attendant could not tell. Nor did any one in the institution
know. The daughter had never told her place of residence.
Excited beyond measure, Perkins returned to Boston, and went to see
Berlaps. From him he could learn nothing. It was two months or so
since she had been there for work. Michael was then referred to; he
knew nothing, but he had a suspicion that Mrs. Gaston got work for
"Mrs Gaston!" exclaimed Perkins, with a look of astonishment. "Who
is Mrs. Gaston?"
"She is one of our seamstresses," replied Berlaps.
"Where does she live?"
The direction was given, and the young man hurried to the place. But
the bird had flown. Five or six days before, she had gone away in a
carriage with a young lady who had been living with her, so it was
said, and no one could tell what had become of her or her children.
Confused, perplexed, anxious, and excited, Perkins turned away and
walked slowly home, to give himself time to reflect. His first fear
was that Eugenia and her father, for he had now no doubt of their
being the real actors in this drama, had really departed for New
Orleans. The name of Mrs. Gaston, as being in association with the
young woman calling herself Lizzy Glenn, expelled from his mind
every doubt. That was the name of the friend in Troy with whom
Eugenia had lived while there. It was some years since he had
visited or heard particularly from Troy, and therefore this was the
first intimation he had that Mrs. Gaston had removed form there, or
that her situation had become so desperate as the fact of her
working for Berlaps would indicate.
PERKINS FINDS IN LIZZY GLENN HIS LONG LOST EUGENIA.
AFTER Eugenia Ballantine, for she it really was, had removed to the
humble abode of Mrs. Gaston, her mind was comparatively more at ease
than it yet had been. In the tenderly manifested affection of one
who had been a mother to her in former, happier years, she found
something upon which to lean her bruised and wearied spirits. Thus
far, she had been compelled to bear up alone--now there was an ear
open to her, and her overburdened heart found relief in sympathy.
There was a bosom upon which she could lean her aching head, and
find a brief but blessed repose. Toward the end of January, her
father's symptoms changed rapidly, indicating one day more alarming
features than ever, and the next presenting an encouraging aspect.
The consequence was, that the mind of Eugenia became greatly
agitated. Every day she repaired to the Asylum, with a heart
trembling between hope and fear, to return sometimes with feelings
of elation, and sometimes deeply depressed.
On the day after Dr. R--had promised to go to Lexington to look
after Mrs. Gaston's little boy, the mother's anxious desire to see
her child, from whom she had heard not a word for nearly three
months, became so strong that she could with difficulty compose
herself so far as to continue her regular employments. She counted
the hours as they slowly wore away, thinking that the moment would
never come when her eyes should rest upon her dear boy. As the
doctor had not said at what hour he would return from Lexington,
there was no period in the day upon which she could fix her mind as
that in which she might expect to see her child; but she assumed
that it would not be until the after part of the day, and forward to
that time she endeavored to carry her expectations.
When Doctor R--parted with her, as has been seen, on the day
previous, he was exquisitely pained under the conviction that the
child he had met with in Lexington in so deplorable a condition was
none other than the son of Mrs. Gaston, who had been put out to Mr.
Sharp at his instance. Hastily visiting a few patients that required
immediate attention, he, very soon after parting with Mrs. Gaston,
started in a sleigh for the town in which Henry had been
apprenticed. On his arrival there, and before he had proceeded far
along the main street, he observed the child he had before met,
toiling along under a heavy burden. His clothes were soiled and
ragged, and his hands and face dirty--indeed, he presented an
appearance little or nothing improved from what it was a short time
before. Driving close up to the side-walk upon which the boy was
staggering along under his heavy load, he reined up his horses, and
called out, as he did so--
The lad stopped instantly, and turned toward him, recognizing him as
he did so.
"Don't you want to see your mother, Henry?" asked the doctor.
The bundle under which he was toiling fell to the ground, and he
stood in mute surprise for a moment or two.
"What is your name?" Doctor R--asked.
"Henry Gaston," replied the child.
"Then jump in here, Henry, and I will take you to see your mother."
The boy took two or three quick steps toward the doctor, and then
stopped suddenly and looked back at the load which had just fallen
from his shoulders.
"Never mind that. Let Mr. Sharp look after it," said Doctor R--.
"But he will--," and Henry hesitated.
"Jump in, quick, my little fellow; and say good-bye in your heart to
Mr. Sharp! You shall never go back there again."
The child sprang eagerly forward at this, and clambered into Doctor
R--'s sleigh. A word to the horses, and away they were bounding
toward Boston. When Doctor R--arrived there, his mind was made up,
as it had been, indeed, before he started, not to take Henry home to
his mother that day. He saw that it would be too cruel to present
the child to her in the condition he was; and, besides, he felt
that, after having procured for him the situation, he could not look
the mother in the face with her abused child in all the deformity of
his condition before them. He, therefore, took Henry to his own
home; had him well washed, and dressed in a suit of comfortable
clothing. The change produced in him was wonderful. The
repulsive-looking object became an interesting boy; though with a
pale, thin face, and a subdued, fearful look. He was very anxious to
see his mother; but Doctor R--, desirous of making as great a change
in the child's appearance and manner as possible, kept him at his
house all night, and until the afternoon of the next day. Then he
took him to his eagerly expectant mother.
Mrs. Gaston had waited and waited with all the patience and
fortitude she could summon, hour after hour, (sic) antil the
afternoon had advanced far toward evening. So anxious and restless
had she now become, that she could no longer sit at her work. She
had been standing at the window looking out and watching each
approaching vehicle for some time, until she felt sick from
constantly awakening hope subsiding in disappointment, when she
turned away, and, seating herself by the bed, buried her face
despondingly in the pillow. She had been sitting thus only a minute
or two, when a slight noise at the door caused her to lift her head
and turn in that direction. There stood a boy, with his eyes fixed
upon her. For an instant she did not know him. Suffering, and
privation, and cruel treatment had so changed him, even after all
the doctor's efforts to eradicate their sad effects, that the mother
did not at first recognize her own child, until his plaintive voice,
uttering her name, fell upon her ear. A moment more, and he was in
her arms, and held tightly to her bosom. Her feelings we will not
attempt to describe, when he related in his own artless and pathetic
manner, all and more than the reader knows in regard to his
treatment at Mr. Sharp's, too sadly confirmed by the change im the
whole expression of his face.
While her mind was yet excited with mingled feelings of joy and
pain, Eugenia came in from her regular visit to her father. Her step
was quicker, her countenance more cheerful and full of hope.
"Oh, Mrs. Gaston!" she said, clasping her hands together, "my father
is so much better to-day, and they begin to give me great hopes of
his full restoration. But who is this? Not your little Henry?"
"Yes, this is my poor, dear boy, whom I have gotten back once more,"
Mrs. Gaston said, the tears glistening upon her eyelids.
After a few words to, and in relation to Henry, the thoughts of
Eugenia went off again to her father, and she spoke many things in
regard to him, all of which bore a highly encouraging aspect. For
the three or four days succeeding this, Mr. Ballantine showed
stronger and stronger indications of returning reason; his daughter
was almost beside herself with hope and joy.
Earlier than usual, one day about the second week in February, she
went over to the asylum to pay her accustomed visit. She was moving
on, after having entered the building, in the direction of the
apartment occupied by her father, when an attendant stepped up, and
touching her arm in a respectful manner, said--
"This direction, if you please."
There was something in the manner of the attendant that seemed to
Eugenia a little mysterious, but she followed as he led the way. He
soon paused at the door of an apartment, and half whispering in her
"Your father is in this room."
Eugenia entered alone. Her father was standing near the fire in an
attitude of deep thought. He lifted his eyes as she entered, and
looked her inquiringly in the face for some moments. She saw in an
instant that he was greatly changed--that reason had, in fact, again
assumed her sway over the empire of his mind.
"My dear, dear father!" she instantly exclaimed, springing toward
"Eugenia! Eugenia!" he ejaculated, in turn, as he held her from him
for a moment or two. "Can this be my own Eugenia? Surely we are both
dreaming! But it is! It is!" and he drew her to his bosom, and held
her there in a long-strained embrace.
"But what does all this mean, my dear child? Why are we here? What
place is it? Why am I so unlike myself that I doubt my own identity?
Why am I so changed? Surely! surely! I am not Hubert Ballantine!"
"Be composed, dear father!" said Eugenia, with an instinctive
feeling of concern. "We will go from here at once, and then we will
talk over all that seems strange to you now."
As she said this, Eugenia pulled a bell, and requested the attendant
who answered to call the principal of the institution. He came
immediately, and she had a brief interview with him in regard to the
propriety of removing her father instantly. He acquiesced, and
ordered a carriage to be brought to the door. In this she entered
with him, and directed the driver to take them to the Tremont House
in Boston. There handsome rooms were ordered, and every effort was
made by her to cause external circumstances to assume a character
similar to what he had been accustomed to in former years. But her
own appearance--her plain, worn, meagre garments, and above all, her
changed face, so pale, so thin, so careworn, so marred by years of
intense suffering--sadly perplexed him. Still he had a faint glimpse
of the truth, and as his mind's eye turned intently toward the point
from whence light seemed to come, he more than suspected the real
facts in the case--at least the leading fact, that he had been out
of his mind for a long time. He could remember distinctly the
burning of the vessel at sea, and also the days and nights of
suffering which were spent in open boats after leaving the vessel.
But all from that time was dim and incoherent, like the vagaries of
After satisfying her father's mind, as far as she dared do so at
once, in regard to the real position in which he suddenly found
himself placed, she left him, and going to the proper representative
of the asylum, procured a transfer of the stock held for the support
of Mr. Ballantine, and then placed the certificates in the hands of
an agent for sale, procuring from him at the same time an advance of
one hundred dollars for immediate use. This was all accomplished in
the course of a couple of hours. After this arrangement, she paid
Mrs. Gaston a hurried visit--explained the happy change in her
father's state of mind, and promising to see her again in a little
while; had her trunk sent to the hotel, to which she herself
returned, after having purchased various articles of clothing. When
she next saw her father, her external appearance was greatly
changed. This seemed to afford him real pleasure.
The next two or three days she spent in gradually unfolding to him
the whole history of the past five years. At every step of her
progress in this she trembled for the result--like one traversing a
narrow, unknown, and dangerous passage in the dark. But on the third
day, after nearly every thing had been told, she began to feel
confidence that all would be well. The agitation and strong
indignation exhibited when she related the treatment she had
received in New Orleans, especially from Mr. Paralette, alarmed her
greatly. But this gave way to a calm and rational consideration of
the right course to be pursued to prove his identity and claim his
property, to do which he was well aware would not be attended with
any real difficulty, especially as with the return of reason had
come back a distinct recollection of every particular connected with
his business and property in New Orleans.
In the mean time, Mrs. Gaston was looked after, and temporary
arrangements made for her comfort. As soon as Mr. Ballantine fully
understood the position of things in New Orleans, he insisted upon
an immediate return to that city, which Eugenia did not oppose.
Preparations were therefore made for their early departure, and
completed in a very short time.
It was nearly four o'clock on the afternoon of the day fixed for
their departure, and when they were about leaving for the cars, that
a servant came to the door of their parlor and said that a gentleman
wished to see Mr. Ballantine. The servant was requested to ask him
to walk up. Eugenia was in the parlor, and could not but feel
surprised that any one in Boston should wish to see her father. She
waited, therefore, to see who the individual was. He soon made his
appearance--entering without speaking, and advancing toward her with
his eyes fixed intently upon her face.
"William!" she ejaculated, in a quick, low, astonished voice, and
sank instantly upon a chair, pale as ashes, and trembling in every
"Eugenia! Can this be, indeed, my own long-lost Eugenia?" said
Perkins, for it was he, springing eagerly forward and taking the
half-fainting girl in his arms.
It needed no words of explanation from either--no renewal of early
vows--no new pledges of affection--for "Love hath wordless language
all its own, Heard in the heart---"
"My dear children!" said the father, coming forward, as soon as he
could recall his bewildered senses, and taking both in his arms,
"the long night has at last broken, and the blessed sun has thrown
his first bright beams upon us. Let us look up to HIM who chasteneth
his children for good, and bless him not only for the present joy,
but for past sorrow--it was not sent in anger, but in mercy."
The departure of Mr. Ballantine and Eugenia was deferred for some
days, during which time, at the urgent solicitation of Mr. Perkins,
the nuptial ceremonies, so long delayed, were celebrated. He then
accompanied them to New Orleans, where a summary proceeding restored
to Mr. Ballantine all his property. He did not resume business, but
returned to the North to reside with his daughter and her husband.
Nothing more remains to be said, except that Mrs. Gaston was never
after compelled to work for the slop-shop men. Mr. Perkins and his
lovely wife cared well for her.
THE FATHER'S DREAM.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
WHEN Mr. William Bancroft, after much reflection, determined upon
matrimony, he was receiving, as a clerk, the moderate salary of four
hundred dollars, and there was no immediate prospect of any
increase. He had already waited over three years, in the hope that
one or two hundred dollars per annum would be added to his light
income. But, as this much-desired improvement in his condition did
not take place, and both he and his lady-love grew impatient of
delay, it was settled between them, that, by using strict economy in
their expenses, they could get along very well on four hundred
dollars a year.
"If there should be no increase of family," was the mental exception
that forced itself upon Mr. Bancroft, but this he hardly felt at
liberty to suggest; and as it was the only reason he could urge
against the step that was so favorably spoken of by his bride to be,
he could do no less than resolve, with a kind of pleasant
desperation, to take it and let the worst come, if it must come.
Single blessedness had become intolerable. Three years of patient
waiting had made even patience, itself, no longer a virtue.
So the marriage took place. Two comfortable rooms in a very
comfortable house, occupied by a very agreeable family, with the use
of the kitchen, were rented for eighty dollars a year, and, in this
modest style, housekeeping was commenced. Mrs. Bancroft did all her
own work, with the exception of the washing. This was not a very
serious labor--indeed, it was more a pleasure than a toil, for she
was working for the comfort of one she loved.
"Would I not rather do this than live as I have lived for the past
three years?" she would sometimes say to herself, from the very
satisfaction of mind she felt. "Yes, a hundred times!"
A year passed away without any additional income. No! we forget
there has been an income, and a very important one; it consists in
the dearest little babe that ever a mother held tenderly to her
loving breast, or ever a father bent over and looked upon with
pride. Before the appearance of this little stranger, and while his
coming was anxiously looked for, there was a due portion of anxiety
felt by Mr. Bancroft, as to how the additional expense that must
come, would be met. He did not see his way clear. After the babe was
born, and he saw and felt what a treasure he had obtained, he was
perfectly satisfied to make the best of what he had, and try to lop
off some little self-indulgences, for the sake of meeting the new
demands that were to be made upon his purse.
At first, as Mrs. Bancroft had now to have some assistance, and they
had but two rooms, a parlor and chamber adjoining, it was thought
best to look out for a small house; the objection to this was the
additional rent to be paid. After debating the matter, and looking
at it on all sides, for some time, they were relieved from their
difficulty by the offer of the family from which they rented, to let
their girl sleep in one of the garret-rooms, where their own
domestic slept. This met the case exactly. The only increased
expense for the present, on account of the babe, was a dollar a week
to a stout girl of fourteen, and the cost of her boarding, no very
serious matter, and more than met from little curtailments that were
easily made. So the babe was stowed snugly into the little family,
without any necessity for an enlargement of its border. It fit in so
nicely that it seemed as if the place it occupied had just been made
And now Mr. Bancroft felt the home-attraction increasing. His steps
were more briskly taken when he left his desk and turned his back,
in the quiet eventide, upon ledgers and account books.
At the end of another year, Mr. Bancroft found that his expenses and
his salary had just balanced each other. There was no preponderance
any way. Like the manna that fell in the wilderness from heaven, the
supply was equal to the demand. This, however, did not satisfy him.
He had a great desire to get a little ahead. In the three years
preceding his marriage, he had saved enough to buy the furniture
with which they were enabled to go to housekeeping, in a small way;
but, since then, it took every dollar to meet their wants.
"In case of sickness and the running up of a large doctor's bill,
what should I do?" he would sometimes ask himself, anxiously; "or,
suppose I were thrown out of employment?"
These questions always made him feel serious. The prospect of a
still further increase in his family caused him to be really
"It is just as much as I can now do to make both ends meet," he
would say, despondingly, and sometimes give utterance to such
expressions even in the presence of his wife. Mrs. Bancroft was not
a woman very deeply read in the prevailing philosophies of the day;
but she had a simple mode of reasoning, or rather of concluding, on
most subjects that came up for her special consideration. On this
matter, in particular, so perplexing to her husband, her very
satisfactory solution to the difficulty, was this--
"He that sends mouths, will be sure to send something to fill them."
There was, in this trite and homely mode of settling the matter,
something conclusive, for the time, even to Mr. Bancroft. But doubt,
distrust and fear, were his besetting sins, and in a little while,
would come back to disturb his mind, and throw a shadow even over
the sweet delights of home.
"If there was to be no more increase of family, we could do very
well," he would often say to himself; "but how we are to manage with
another baby, is more than I am able to see."
But all this trouble upon interest availed not. The baby came, and
was received with the delight such visits always produce, even where
there is already a house full of children. A crib for little Flora,
who was now two years old, and able to amuse herself, with
occasional aid from her mother and Nancy, the stout girl, who had in
two years, grown stouter and more useful, was all the change the
coming of the little stranger, already as warmly welcomed as the
oldest and dearest friend could be, produced in the household
arrangements of Mr. Bancroft. But sundry expenses attendant upon the
arrival and previous preparations therefor, drew rather heavier than
usual upon his income, and made the supply fall something short of
the demand. At this point in his affairs, a vacancy occurred in an
insurance office, and Mr. Bancroft applied for and obtained the
clerkship. The salary was seven hundred dollars a year. All was now
bright again. In the course of a few months, it was thought best for
them to rent the whole of a moderate-sized house, as they really
needed more room, for health, than they now had; besides, it would
be much pleasanter to live alone. For an annual rent of one hundred
and fifty dollars, they suited themselves very well. They waited,
until the additional salary gave them the means of increasing their
furniture in those particulars required, and then made the change.
The second comer was a boy, and they had him christened William. As
year after year was added to his young life, he grew into a gentle,
fair-haired, sweet-tempered child, whose place upon his father's
knee was never yielded even to his sister, on any occasion. His ear
was first to catch the sound of his father's approaching footsteps,
and his voice the first to herald his coming. This out-going of
affection toward him, caused Mr. Bancroft to feel for little
"Willy," as he was called, a peculiar tenderness, and gave to his
voice a tone of music more pleasant than sounds struck from the
Year after year came and went, in ever varying succession, adding,
every now and then, another and another to the number of Mr.
Bancroft's household treasures. For these, he was not always as
thankful as he should have been; and more than once, in anticipation
of blessings in this line, was known to say something, in a
murmuring way, about being "blessed to death." And yet for Flora,
and William, and Mary, and Kate, and even Harry, the last and least,
he had a place in his heart, and all lay there without crowding or
jostling each other. The great trouble was, what he was to do with
them all. How are they to be supported and educated? True, his
salary had been increased until it was a thousand dollars, which was
as much as he could expect to receive. On this he was getting along
very well, that is, making both ends meet at the expiration of each
year. But the children were getting older all the time, and would
soon be more expense to him; and then there was no telling how many
more were still to come. They had been dropping in, one after
another, ever since his marriage, without so much as saying "By your
leave, sir!" and how long was this to continue, was a question much
more easily asked than answered. Sometimes he made light of the
subject, and jested with his wife about her "ten daughters;" but it
was rather an unrelishable jest, and never was given with a
heartiness that made it awaken more than a smile upon the gentle
face of his excellent partner.
We will let five or six years more pass, and then bring our friend,
Mr. Bancroft, again before the reader. Flora has grown into a tall
girl of fifteen, who is still going to school. William, now a youth
of thirteen, is a lad of great promise. His mind is rapidly opening,
and is evidently one of great natural force. His father has procured
for him the very best teachers, and is determined to give him all
the advantages in his power to bestow. Mary and Kate are two
sprightly girls, near the respective ages of eight and eleven; and
Harry, a quiet, innocent-minded, loving child, is in his sixth year.
There is another still, a little giddy, dancing elf, named Lizzy,
whose voice, except during the brief periods of sleep, rings through
the house all day. And yet another, who has just come, that the home
of Mr. Bancroft may not be without earth's purest form of
innocence--a newborn babe.
To feed, clothe, educate, and find house-room for several children,
was more than the father could well do on a thousand dollars a year.
But this was not required. During the five or six years that have
elapsed, he has passed from the insurance office into a banking
institution as book-keeper, at a salary of twelve hundred dollars,
thence to the receiving teller's place, which he now holds at
fifteen hundred dollars a year. As his means have gradually
increased, his style of living has altered. From a house for which
he paid the annual rent of one hundred and fifty dollars, he now
resides in one much larger and more comfortable, for which three
hundred dollars are paid.
This was the aspect of affairs when the seventh child came in its
helpless innocence to ask his love.
One evening, after the mother was about again, Mr. Bancroft, as soon
as the children were in bed, and he was entirely alone with his
wife, gave way to a rather stronger expression than usual, of the
doubt, fear and anxiety with which he was too often beset.
"I really don't see how we are ever to get through with the
education of all these children, Mary," he remarked with a sigh,
"I'm sure it can't be done with my salary. It takes every cent of it
now, and in a little while it must cost us more than it does at
"We've always got along very well, William," replied the wife. "As
our family has increased our means have increased, and I have no
doubt will continue to increase, if the wants of our children
require us to have a larger income than we enjoy at present."
"I don't know--I'm not sure of that. It was more by good fortune
than any thing else that I succeeded in obtaining better employment
than I had when we were married. Suppose my salary had continued to
be only four hundred dollars, what would we have done?"
"But it didn't continue at four hundred dollars, William."
"It might though--think of that. It was by the merest good luck in
the world that I got into the insurance office--there we're two or
three dozen applicants, and the gaining of the place by me was mere
chance work. If I hadn't been in the insurance office for so many
years, and by that means become acquainted with most of the
directors of the bank, I never would have attained my present
comfortable place. It makes me sick when I think of the miserable
plight we would now be in, if that piece of good fortune had not
accidentally befallen me."
"Don't say accidentally," returned the wife, in a gentle tone, "say
providentially. He who sent us children, sent with them the means
for their support. It isn't luck, dear, it is Providence."
"It may be, but I can't understand it," returned Mr. Bancroft,
doubtingly. "To me it is all luck."
After this remark, he was silent for some time. Then he said, with a
tone made cheerful by the thought he expressed,
"How pleasantly we would be getting along if our family were no
larger than it was when I had only four hundred dollars income. How
easy it would be to lay up a thousand dollars every year. Let me
see, we have been married over sixteen years. Just think what a
handsome little property we would have by this time--sixteen
thousand dollars. As it is, we haven't sixteen thousand cents, and
no likelihood of ever getting a farthing ahead. It is right down
The semi-cheerful tone in which Mr. Bancroft had commenced speaking,
died away in the last brief sentence.
"Two or three children are enough for any body to have," he resumed,
half fretfully; "and quite as many as can be well taken care of.
With two or even three, we might be as happy and comfortable as we
could desire. But with seven, and half as many more in prospect, O
dear! It is enough to dishearten any one."
Mrs. Bancroft did not reply, but drew her arm tighter around the
babe that lay asleep upon her breast. Her mind wandered over the
seven jewels that were to her so precious, and she asked herself
which of them she could part with; or if there was an earthly good
more to be desired than the love of these dear children.
Mr. Bancroft had very little more to say that evening, but his state
of mind did not improve. He was dissatisfied because his income, ten
years before, when his expenses were less, was not as good as it was
now, and looked ahead with, a troubled feeling at the prospect of a
still increasing family, and still increasing expenses, to meet
which he could see no possible way. In this unhappy mood he retired
at an earlier hour than usual, but could not sleep for a long
time--his thoughts were too unquiet. At last, however, he sunk into
a deep slumber.
When again conscious, the sun was shining in at the window. His wife
had already risen. He got up, dressed himself, and went down stairs.
Breakfast was already on the table, and his happy little household
assembling. But after all were seated, Mr. Bancroft noticed a vacant
"Where is Flora?" he asked.
A shade passed over the brow of his wife.
"Flora has been quite ill all night," she replied; "I was up with
her for two or three hours."
"Indeed! what is the matter?"
Mr. Bancroft felt a sudden strange alarm take hold of his heart.
"I can't tell," returned the mother. "She has a high fever, and
complains of sore throat."
"Scarlet fever?" ejaculated Mr. Bancroft, pushing aside his untasted
cup of coffee and rising from the table. "I must have the doctor
here immediately. It is raging all around us."
The father hurried from the room, and went in great haste for the
family physician, who promised to make his first call that morning
at his house.
When Mr. Bancroft came home from the bank in the afternoon, he found
Flora extremely ill, with every indication of the dreadful disease
he named in the morning. A couple of days reduced doubt to
certainty. It was a case of scarlatina of the worst type. Speedily
did it run its fatal course, and in less than a week from the time
she was attacked, Flora was forever free from all mortal agonies.
This was a terrible blow to the father. It broke him completely
down. The mother bore her sad bereavement with the calmness of a
Christian, yet not without the keenest suffering.
But the visitation did not stop here. Death rarely lays his
withering hand upon one household flower without touching another,
and causing it to droop, wither, and fall to the ground. So it was
in this case. William, the manly, intelligent, promising boy, upon
whom the father had ever looked with love and pride so evenly
balanced, that the preponderance of neither became apparent, was
taken with the same fatal disease and survived his sister only two
The death of Flora bowed Mr. Bancroft to the ground: that of William
completely prostrated him. He remembered, too distinctly, how often
and how recently he had murmured at the good gift of children sent
him by God, and now he trembled lest all were to be taken from him,
as one unworthy of the high benefactions with which be had been
blessed. How few seemed now the number of his little ones. There
were but five left. The house seemed desolate; he missed Flora every
where, and listened, in vain, for her light step and voice of music.
William was never out of his thoughts.
For weeks and months his heart was full of fear. If Mary, or Kate,
or little Harry looked dull, he was seized with instant alarm. A
slight fever almost set him wild. Scarcely a week passed that the
doctor was not summoned on some pretense or other, and medicine
forced down the throats of the little ones.
This was the aspect of affairs, when, in a time of great fiscal
derangement, the bank in which Mr. Bancroft was clerk suffered a
severe run, which was continued so long that the institution was
forced to close its doors. A commission was appointed to examine
into its affairs. This examination brought to light many
irregularities in the management of the bank, and resulted in a
statement which made it clear that a total suspension and winding-up
of the concern must ensue.
By this disaster, Mr. Bancroft was thrown out of employment.
Fortunately, the clerk in his old situation in the insurance company
gave up his place very shortly afterward, and Bancroft on
application, was appointed in his stead. The salary was only a
thousand dollars, but he was glad to get that.
So serious a reduction in his income made some reduction in existing
expenses necessary. This was attained, in part, by removing into a
house for which a rent of only two hundred dollars, instead of
three, was paid.
Still the parents trembled for their children, and were filled with
alarm if the slightest indisposition appeared. A few months passed
and again the hand of sickness was laid upon the family of Mr.
Bancroft. Mary and Kate and little Harry were all taken with the
fatal disease that had stricken down Flora and William in the
freshness of youth and beauty. The father, as he bent over his desk
had felt all day an unusual depression of spirits. There was, upon
his mind, a foreshadowing of evil. On leaving the office, rather
earlier than usual, he hurried home with a heart full of anxiety and
fear. His wife opened the door for him. She looked troubled, but was
silent. She went up-stairs quickly--he followed. The chamber they
entered was very still. As he approached the bed, he saw that Mary
and Kate were lying there, and that Harry was in the crib beside
them. Their faces were red, and when he placed his hands upon their
foreheads, he found them hot with fever.
Hopelessly and silently the unhappy man turned from the bed, and
seated himself in a distant corner of the room. The death-mark was
upon his children--did he not recognize the fatal sign? He had
remained thus for only a minute or two, it seemed, when he felt a
hand upon his arm. He looked up; his wife stood beside him, and her
eyes rested steadily in his own. She pointed to the bed and motioned
him to return there. He obeyed with a shrinking heart. No words were
spoken until they were again close to the children; then the mother
said, in a calm, cold, stern voice--
"You murmured at the blessings God gave us, and he is withdrawing
them one by one. When these are gone, it will not cost us over five
hundred dollars to live, and then you can save five hundred a year.
Five hundred dollars for three precious children! But it's the price
you fixed upon them. Kate and Mary and Harry, dear, dear, dear ones!
not for millions of dollars would I part with you!"
A wild cry broke from the lips of the agonized mother, and she fell
forward upon the bed, with a frantic gesture.
The father felt like one freezing into ice. He could not speak nor
move; how long this state remained he knew not. A long, troubled,
dreary period seemed to pass, and then all was clear again. His wife
had risen from the bed, and left the chamber. Little Harry had been
removed from the crib, but Kate and Mary were still on the bed, with
every indication of a violent attack of the same disease that had
robbed them of their two oldest children. He was about leaving the
room for the purpose of inquiring whether a physician had been sent
for, when the door opened and the doctor came in with Mrs. Bancroft.
The stern expression that but lately rested upon the face of the
latter, had passed away. She looked kindly and tenderly into her
husband's face, and even leaned her head against him while the
physician proceeded to examine the children.
But little, if any encouragement was offered to the unhappy parents.
The incipiency of the disease gave small room for hope, it was so
like the usual precursor of the direful malady they feared.
Ten days of awful suspense and fear succeeded to this, and then the
worst came. Two happy voices that had, for so many years, echoed
through the familiar places of home, were hushed forever. Kate and
Mary were no more. But, as if satisfied, death passed, and Harry was
Three were now all that remained of the large and happy household;
the babe, whose coming had awakened afresh the murmurings of the
father, and clear little Harry, just snatched, as it were, from the
jaws of death, and the gay, dancing Lizzy, whose voice had, lost
much of its silvery sweetness. Mrs. Bancroft did not again, either
by look or word, repeat or refer to her stunning rebuke. But her
husband could not forget it. In fact, it had awakened his mind to a
most distressing sense of the folly, not to say sin, of which he had
In self upbraidings, in the bitterness of grief for which there came
no alleviation, the time passed on, and Mr. Bancroft lived in the
daily fear of receiving a still deeper punishment.
One day, most disastrous intelligence came to the office in which he
was employed. There had been a fierce gale along the whole coast,
and the shipping had suffered severely. The number of wrecks, with
the sacrifice of life, was appalling. Among the vessels lost, were
ten insured in the office. Nothing was saved from then. Five were
large vessels, and the others light crafts. The loss was fifty
thousand dollars. Following immediately upon this, was another loss
of equal amount arising from the failure of a certain large moneyed
institution, in the stock of which the company had invested largely.
In consequence of this serious diminution of the company's funds,
the directors found themselves driven to make sacrifices of
property, and to diminish all expenses.
"We shall have to reduce your salary Mr. Bancroft," said the
president, to him, some weeks after the company had received the
shock just mentioned. "The directors think that five hundred dollars
is as large a salary as they now ought to pay. I am sorry that the
necessity for reduction exists, but it is absolute. Of course we
don't expect you to remain at the diminished compensation. But we
will be obliged to you, if you will give us as much notice as
With a heavy heart did Mr. Bancroft return to the home that seemed
so desolate, when the duties of the day were done. He tried, at
tea-time, to eat his food as usual, and to conceal from his wife the
trouble that was oppressing him. But this was a vain effort. Her
eyes seemed never a moment from his face.
"What is the matter, dear?" she asked, as soon as they had left the
table. "Are you not well?"
"No; I am sick," he replied, sadly.
"Sick?" ejaculated the wife, in alarm.
"Yes, sick at heart."
Mrs. Bancroft sighed deeply.
"My cup is not yet full, Mary," he said, in a bitter tone. "There is
yet more gall and wormwood to be added. We must go back to the two
rooms, and live as we began some sixteen or seventeen years ago. My
salary, from this day, is to be only five hundred dollars. It is
useless to try for a better place--all is ill-luck now. We must go
down, down, down!"
Mrs. Bancroft wept bitterly, but did not reply.
Back to the two rooms they went, but oh! how sad and weary-hearted
they were. It was not with them as when with the first dear pledge
of their love, they drew close together in the small bounds of a
chamber and parlor, and were happy. Why could they not be happy now?
They still had three children, and an income equal to their
necessities, if dispensed with prudent care. They were relieved from
a world of labor and anxiety. No--no--they could not be happy. Their
hearts were larger now, for they had been expanding for years, as
objects of love came one after the other in quick succession; but
these objects of love, with two or three solitary exceptions, had
been taken away from them, and there was silence, vacancy, and
desolation in their bosoms.
"My cup is not yet full, Mary." No, it seemed that it was not yet
full, for a few days only had elapsed, after the family had
contracted itself to meet the diminished income, before little Harry
began to droop about. Mr. Bancroft noticed this, but he was afraid
to speak of it, lest the very expression of his fear should produce
the evil dreaded. He came and went to and from his daily tasks with
an oppressive weight ever at his heart. He looked for evil and only
evil; but without the bravery to meet it and bear it like a man.
One night, after having, before retiring to bed, bent long in
anxious solicitude over the child for whom all his fears was
aroused, he was awakened by a cry of anguish from his wife. He
started up in alarm, and sprung upon the floor, exclaiming:
"In Heaven's name, Mary! what is the matter?"
His wife made no answer. She was lying with her face pressed close
to that of little Harry, and both were pale as ashes. The father
placed his hand upon the cheek of his boy, and found it marble cold.
Clasping his hands tightly against his forehead, he staggered
backward and fell; but he did not strike the floor, but seemed
falling, falling, falling from a fearful height. Suddenly he was
conscious that he had been standing on a lofty tower--had missed his
footing, and was now about being dashed to pieces to the earth.
Before reaching the ground, horror overcame him, and he lost, for a
moment, his sense of peril.
"Thank God!" was uttered, most fervently, in the next instant.
"For what, dear?" asked Mrs. Bancroft, rising up partly from her
pillow, and looking at her husband with a half-serious,
"That little Harry is not dead." And Mr. Bancroft bent over and
fixed his eyes with loving earnestness upon the rosy-cheeked,
Just then there came from the adjoining room a wild burst of girlish
"What's that?" A strange surprise flashed over the face of Mr.
"Kate and Mary are in a gay humor this morning," said the mother.
"But what have you been dreaming about, dear?"
As this question was asked, a strain of music was heard floating up
from the parlor, and the voice of Flora came sweetly warbling a
The father buried his face in the pillow, and wept for joy. He had
awakened from a long, long dream of horror.
From that time Mr. Bancroft became a wiser man. He was no longer a
murmurer, but a thankful recipient of the good gifts sent him by
Providence. His wife bore him, in all, ten children, five of whom
have already attained their majority. He never wanted a loaf of
bread for them, nor anything needful for their comfort and
happiness. True, he did not "get ahead" in the world, that is, did
not lay up money; but One, wiser than he, saw that more than enough
would not be good for him, and, therefore, no efforts that he could
make would have given him more than what was needed for their "daily
bread." There was always enough, but none to spare.
I'LL SEE ABOUT IT.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
MR. EASY sat alone in his counting-room, one afternoon, in a most
comfortable frame, both as regards mind and body. A profitable
speculation in the morning had brought the former into a state of
great complacency, and a good dinner had done all that was required
for the repose of the latter. He was in that delicious, half-asleep,
half-awake condition, which, occurring after dinner, is so very
pleasant. The newspaper, whose pages at first possessed a charm for
his eye, had fallen, with the hand that held it, upon his knee. His
head was gently reclined backward against the top of a high,
leather-cushioned chair; while his eyes, half-opened, saw all things
around him but imperfectly. Just at this time the door was quietly
opened, and a lad of some fifteen or sixteen years, with a pale,
thin face, high forehead, and large dark eyes, entered. He
approached the merchant with a hesitating step, and soon stood
directly before him.
Mr. Easy felt disturbed at this intrusion, for so he felt it. He
knew the lad to be the son of a poor widow, who had once seen better
circumstances than those that now surrounded her. Her husband
had, while living, been his intimate friend, and he had promised him
at his dying hour to be the protector and adviser of his wife and
children. He had meant to do all he promised, but not being very
fond of trouble, except where stimulated to activity by the hope of
gaining some good for himself, he had not been as thoughtful in
regard to Mrs. Mayberry as he ought to have been. She was a modest,
shrinking, sensitive woman, and had, notwithstanding her need of a
friend and adviser, never called upon Mr. Easy, or even sent to
request him to act for her in any thing, except once. Her husband
had left her poor. She knew little of the world. She had three quite
young children, and one, the oldest, about sixteen. Had Mr. Easy
been true to his pledge, he might have thrown many a ray upon her
dark path, and lightened her burdened heart of many a doubt and
fear. But he had permitted more than a year to pass since the death
of her husband, without having once called upon her. This neglect
had not been intentional. His will was good but never active at the
present moment. "To-morrow," or "next week," or "very soon," he
would call upon Mrs. Mayberry; but to-morrow, or next week, or very
soon, had never yet come.
As for the widow, soon after her husband's death, she found that
poverty was to be added to affliction. A few hundred dollars made up
the sum of all that she received after the settlement of his
business, which had never been in a very prosperous condition. On
this, under the exercise of extreme frugality, she had been enabled
to live for nearly a year. Then the paucity of her little store made
it apparent to her mind that individual exertion was required,
directed toward procuring the means of support for her little
family. Ignorant of the way in which this was to be done, and having
no one to advise her, nearly two months more passed before she could
determine what to do. By that time she had but a few dollars left,
and was in a state of great mental distress and uncertainty. She
then applied for work at some of the shops, and obtained common
sewing, but at prices that could not yield her any thing like a
Hiram, her oldest son, had been kept at school up to this period.
But now she had to withdraw him. It was impossible any longer to pay
his tuition fees. He was an intelligent lad--active in mind, and
pure in his moral principles. But like his mother, sensitive, and
inclined to avoid observation. Like her, too, he had a proud
independence of feeling, that made him shrink from asking or
accepting a favor, or putting himself under an obligation to any
one. He first became aware of his mother's true condition, when she
took him from school, and explained the reason for so doing. At once
his mind rose into the determination to do something to aid his
mother. He felt a glowing confidence, arising from the consciousness
of strength within. He felt that he had both the will and the power
to act, and to act efficiently.
"Don't be disheartened mother," he said, with animation. "I can and
will do something. I can help you. You have worked for me a great
many years. Now I will work for you."
Where there is a will, there is a way. But it is often the case,
that the will lacks the kind of intelligence that enables it to find
the right way at once. So it proved in the case of Hiram Mayberry.
He had a strong enough will, but did not know how to bring it into
activity. Good, without its appropriate truth, is impotent. Of this
the poor lad soon became conscious. To the question of his mother--
"What can you do, child?" an answer came not so readily.
"Oh, I can do a great many things," was easily said; but, even in
saying so, a sense of inability followed the first thought of what
he should do, that the declaration awakened.
The will impels, and then the understanding seeks for the means of
effecting the purposes of the will. In the case of young Hiram,
thought followed affection. He pondered for many days over the means
by which he was to aid his mother. But the more he thought, the more
conscious did he become, that in the world, he was a weak boy. That
however strong might be his purpose, his means of action were
limited. His mother could aid him but little. She had but one
suggestion to make, and that was, that he should endeavor to get a
situation in some store or counting-room. This he attempted to do.
Following her direction, he called upon Mr. Easy, who promised to
see about looking him up a situation. It happened, the day after,
that a neighbor spoke to him about a lad for his store--(Mr. Easy
had already forgotten his promise)--Hiram was recommended, and the
man called to see his mother.
"How much salary can you afford to give him?" asked Mrs. Mayberry,
after learning all about the situation, and feeling satisfied that
her son should accept of it.
"Salary, ma'am?" returned the storekeeper, in a tone of surprise.
"We never give a boy any salary for the first year. The knowledge
that is acquired of business is always considered a full
compensation. After the first year, if he likes us, and we like him,
we may give him seventy-five or a hundred dollars."
Poor Mrs. Mayberry's countenance fell immediately.
"I wouldn't think of his going out now, if it were not in the hope
of his earning something," she said, in a disappointed voice.
"How much did you expect him to earn?" was asked by the storekeeper.
"I didn't know exactly what to expect. But I supposed that he might
earn four or five dollars a week."
"Five dollars a week is all we pay our porter an abled-bodied,
industrious man," was returned. "If you wish your son to become
acquainted with mercantile business, you must not expect him to earn
much for three or four years. At a trade you may receive from him
barely a sufficiency to board and clothe him, but nothing more."
This declaration so damped the feelings of the mother that she could
not reply for some moments. At length she said--
"If you will take my boy with the understanding, that, in case I am
not able to support him, or hear of a situation where a salary can
be obtained, you will let him leave your employment without hard
feelings, he shall go into your store at once."
To this the man consented, and Hiram Mayberry went with him
according to agreement. A few weeks passed, and the lad, liking both
the business and his employer, his mother felt exceedingly anxious
for him to remain. But she sadly feared that this could not be. Her
little store was just about exhausted, and the most she had yet been
able to earn by working for the shops, was a dollar and a half a
week. This was not more than sufficient to buy the plainest food for
her little flock. It would not pay rent, nor get clothing. To meet
the former, recourse was had to the sale of her husband's small,
select library. Careful mending kept the younger children tolerably
decent, and by altering for him the clothes left by his father, she
was able to keep Hiram in a suitable condition, to appear at the
store of his employer.
Thus matters went on for several months. Mrs. Mayberry, working late
and early. The natural result was, a gradual failure of strength. In
the morning, when she awoke, she would feel so languid and heavy,
that to rise required a strong effort, and even after she was up,
and attempted to resume her labors, her trembling frame almost
refused to obey the dictates of her will. At length, nature gave
way. One morning she was so sick that she could not rise. Her head
throbbed with a dizzy, blinding pain--her whole body ached, and her
skin burned with fever. Hiram got something for the children to eat,
and then taking the youngest, a little girl about two years old,
into the house of a neighbor, who had showed them some good-will,
asked her if she would take care of his sister until he returned
home at dinner time. This the neighbor readily consented to
do--promising, also, to call in frequently and see his mother.
At dinner-time, Hiram found his mother quite ill. She was no better
at night. For three days the fever raged violently. Then, under the
careful treatment of their old family physician, it was subdued.
After that she gradually recovered, but very slowly. The physician
said she must not attempt again to work as she had done. This
injunction was scarcely necessary. She had not the strength to do
"I don't see what you will do, Mrs. Mayberry," a neighbor who had
often aided her by kind advice, said, in reply to the widow's
statement of her unhappy condition. "You cannot maintain these
children, certainly. And I don't see how, in your present feeble
state, you are going to maintain yourself. There is but one thing
that I can advise, and that advice I give with reluctance. It is to
endeavor to get two of your children into some orphan asylum. The
youngest you may be able to keep with you. The oldest can support
himself at something or other."
The pale cheek of Mrs. Mayberry grew paler at this proposition. She
half-sobbed, caught her breath, and looked her adviser with a
strange bewildered stare in the face.
"Oh, no! I cannot do that! I cannot be separated from my dear little
children. Who will care for them like a mother?"
"It is hard, I know, Mrs. Mayberry. But necessity is a stern ruler.
You cannot keep them with you--that is certain. You have not the
strength to provide them with even the coarsest food. In an asylum,
with a kind matron, they will be better off than under any other
But Mrs. Mayberry shook her head.
"No--no--no," she replied--"I cannot think of such a thing. I cannot
be separated from them. I shall soon be able to work again--better
able than before."
The neighbor who felt deeply for her, did not urge the matter. When
Hiram returned at dinner-time, his face had in it a more animated
expression than usual.
"Mother," he said, as soon as he came in, "I heard to-day that a boy
was wanted at the Gazette office, who could write a good hand. The
wages are to be four dollars a week."
"You did!" Mrs. Mayberry said, quickly, her weak frame trembling,
although she struggled hard to be composed.
"Yes. And Mr. Easy is well acquainted with the publisher, and could
get me the place, I am sure."
"Then go and see him at once, Hiram. If you can secure it, all will
be well; if not, your little brothers and sisters will have to be
separated, perhaps sent into an orphan asylum."
Mrs. Mayberry covered her face with her hands, and sobbed bitterly
for some moments.
Hiram eat his frugal meal quickly, and returned to the store, where
he had to remain until his employer went home and dined. On his
return, he asked liberty to be absent for half an hour, which was
granted. He then went direct to the counting-house of Mr. Easy, and
disturbed him, as has been seen. Approaching with a timid step, and
a flushed brow, he said in a confused and hurried manner--
"Mr. Easy, there is a lad wanted at the Gazette Office."
"Well?" returned Mr. Easy, in no very cordial tone.
"Mother thought you would be kind enough to speak to Mr. G--for me."
"Haven't you a place in a store?"
"Yes, sir. But I don't get any wages. And at the Gazette office they
will pay four dollars a week."
"But the knowledge of business to be gained where you are, will be
worth a great deal more than four dollars a week."
"I know that, sir. But mother is not able to board and clothe me. I
must earn something."
"Oh, aye, that's it. Very well, I'll see about it for you."
"When shall I call, sir?" asked Hiram.
"When? Oh, almost any time. Say to-morrow or next day."
The lad departed, and Mr. Easy's head fell back upon the chair, the
impression which had been made upon his mind passing away almost as
quickly as writing upon water.
With anxious trembling hearts, did Mrs. Mayberry and her son wait
for the afternoon of the succeeding day. On the success of Mr.
Easy's application rested all their hopes. Neither she nor Hiram eat
over a few mouthfuls at dinner-time. The latter hurried away, and
returned to the store, there to wait with trembling eagerness, until
his employer should return from dinner, and he again be free to go
and see Mr. Easy.
To Mrs. Mayberry, the afternoon passed slowly.
She had forgotten to tell her son to return home immediately, if the
application should be successful. He did not come back, and she had,
consequently to remain in a state of anxious suspense, until dark.
He came in at the usual hour. His dejected countenance told of
"Did you see Mr. Easy?" Mrs. Mayberry asked, in a low, troubled
"Yes. But he hadn't been to the Gazette office. He said he had been
very busy. But that he would _see about it_ soon."
Nothing more was said. The mother and son, after sitting silent and
pensive during the evening, retired early to bed. On the next day,
urged on by his anxious desire to get the situation of which he had
heard, Hiram again called at the counting-room of Mr. Easy, his
heart trembling with hope and fear. There were two or three men
present. Mr. Easy cast upon him rather an impatient look as he
entered. His appearance had evidently annoyed the merchant. Had he
consulted his feelings, he would have retired at once. But there was
too much at stake. Gliding to a corner of the room, he stood, with
his hat in his hand, and a look of anxiety upon his face, until Mr.
Easy was disengaged. At length, the gentleman with whom he was
occupied, went away, and Mr. Easy turned toward the boy. Hiram
looked up earnestly in his face.
"I have really been so much occupied, my lad," the merchant said, in
a kind of apologetic tone, "as to have entirely forgotten my promise
to you. But I _will_ see about it. Come in again, to-morrow."
Hiram made no answer, but turned with a sigh toward the door. The
keen disappointment expressed in the boy's, face, and the touching
quietness of his manner, reached the feelings of Mr. Easy. He was
not a hard-hearted man, but selfishly indifferent to others. He
could feel deeply enough if he would permit himself to do so. But of
this latter feeling he was not often guilty.
"Stop a minute," he said. And then stood in a musing attitude for a
moment or two. "As you seem so anxious about this matter," he added
"if will wait here a little while, I will step down to see Mr. G--at
The boy's face brightened instantly. Mr. Easy saw the effect of what
he said, and it made the task he was about entering upon
reluctantly, an easy one. The boy waited for nearly a quarter of an
hour, so eager to know the result, that he could not compose himself
to sit down. The sound of Mr. Easy's step at the door, at length
made his heart bound. The merchant entered. Hiram looked into his
face. One glance was sufficient to dash every dearly-cherished hope
to the ground.
"I am sorry," Mr. Easy said, "but the place was filled this morning.
I was a little too late."
The boy was unable to control his feelings. The disappointment was
too great. Tears gushed from his eyes, as he turned away, and left
the counting-room without speaking.
"I'm afraid I've done wrong," said Mr. Easy to himself, as he stood,
in a musing attitude, by his desk, about five minutes after Hiram
had left. "If I had seen about the situation when he first called
upon me, I might have secured it for him. But it's too late now."
After saying this, the merchant placed his thumbs in the armholes of
his waistcoat, and commenced walking the floor of his counting-room
backward and forward. He could not get out of his mind, the image of
the boy as he turned from him in tears, nor drive away thoughts of
the friend's widow, whom he had neglected. This state of mind
continued all the afternoon. Its natural effect was to cause him to
cast about in his mind for some way of getting employment for Hiram,
that would yield immediate returns. But nothing presented itself.
"I wonder if I couldn't make room for him here?" he at length
said--"He looks like a bright boy. I know Mr.--is highly pleased
with him. He spoke of getting four dollars a week. That's a good
deal to give to a mere lad. But I suppose I might make him worth
that to me. And now I begin to think seriously about the matter, I
believe I cannot keep a clear conscience, and any longer remain
indifferent to the welfare of my old friend's widow and children. I
must look after them a little more closely than I have heretofore
This resolution reliever the mind of Mr. Easy a good deal.
When Hiram left the counting-room of the merchant, his spirits were
crushed to the very earth. He found his way back, how he hardly
knew, to his place of business, and mechanically performed the tasks
allotted to him, until evening. Then he returned home, reluctant to
meet his mother, and yet anxious to relieve her state of suspense,
even if in doing so, he should dash a last hope from her heart. When
he came in, Mrs. Mayberry lifted her eyes to his, inquiringly; but
dropped them instantly--she needed no words to tell her that he had
suffered a bitter disappointment.
"You did not get the place?" she at length said, with forced
"No--it was taken this morning. Mr. Easy promised to see about it.
But he didn't do so. When he went this afternoon, it was too late."
Hiram said this with a trembling voice, and lips that quivered.
"Thy will be done!" murmured the widow, lifting her eyes upward. "If
these tender ones are to be taken from their mother's fold, oh, do
thou temper for them the piercing blast, and be their shelter amid
the raging tempests."
A tap at the door brought back the thoughts of Mrs. Mayberry. A
brief struggle with her feelings, enabled her to overcome them in
time to receive a visitor with composure. It was the merchant.
"Mr. Easy!" she said, in surprise.
"Mrs. Mayberry, how do you do?" There was some restraint and
embarrassment in his manner. He was conscious of having neglected
the widow of his friend, before he came. The humble condition in
which he found her, quickened that consciousness into a sting.
"I am sorry, madam," he said, after he had become seated, and made a
few inquiries, "that I did not get the place for your son. In fact,
I am to blame in the matter. But I have been thinking since, that he
would suit me exactly, and if you have no objections, I will take
him, and pay him a salary of two hundred dollars for the first
Mrs. Mayberry tried to reply, but her feelings were too much excited
by this sudden and unlooked-for proposal, to allow her to speak for
some moments. Even then, her assent was made with tears glistening
on her cheeks.
Arrangements were quickly made for the transfer of Hiram from the
store where he had been engaged, to the counting-room of Mr. Easy.
The salary he received was just enough to enable Mrs. Mayberry, with
what she herself earned, to keep her little ones together, until
Hiram, who proved a valuable assistant in Mr. Easy's business, could
command a larger salary, and render her more important aid.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
BENJAMIN PARKER was not as thrifty as some of his neighbors. He
could not "get along in the world."
"Few men are more industrious than I am," he would sometimes say to
his wife. "I am always attending to business, late and early, rain
or shine. But it's no use, I can't get along, and am afraid I never
shall. Nothing turns out well."
Mrs. Parker was a meek, patient-minded woman; and she had married
Benjamin because she loved him above all the young men who sought
her hand, some of whom had fairer prospects in the world than he
had; and she continued to love him and confided in him,
notwithstanding many reverses and privations had attended their
"You do the best you can," she would reply to her husband when he
thus complained, "and that is as much as can be expected of any one.
You can only plant and sow, the Lord must send the rain and the
The usually pensive face of Mrs. Parker would lighten up, as she
spoke words of comfort and encouragement like these. But she never
ventured upon any serious advice as to the management of her
husband's affairs, although there were times when she could not help
thinking that if he would do a little differently it might be
better. To his fortunes she had united her own, and she was ready to
bear with him their lot in life. If he proposed any thing, she
generally acquiesced in it, even if it cost her much self-sacrifice;
and when, as it often happened, all did not turn out as well as had
been expected, she never said--"I looked for this," or "I never
approved of it," or, "If I had been allowed to advise you, it never
would have been done." No, nothing like this ever passed the lips of
Mrs. Parker. But rather words of sympathy and encouragement, and a
reference of all to the wise but inscrutable dispensations of
Providence. It might have been better for them if Mrs. Parker had
possessed a stronger will and had manifested more decided traits of
character; or it might not. The pro or con of this we will not
pretend to decide. As a general thing it is no doubt true that
qualities of mind in married partners have a just relation the one
to the other, and act and react in a manner best suited for the
correction of the peculiar evils of each and the elevation of both
into the highest moral state to which they can be raised. At first
glance this may strike the mind as not true as a general rule. But a
little reflection will cause it to appear more obvious. If an
all-wise Providence governs in the affairs of men, it is but
reasonable to suppose that, in the most important act of a man's
life, this Providence will be most conspicuous. Marriage is this
most important act, and without doubt it is so arranged that those
are brought together between whom action and reaction of
intellectual and moral qualities will be just in the degree best
calculated to secure their own and their children's highest good.
We are not so sure, therefore, that it would have been any better
for Mr. and Mrs. Parker had the latter been less passive, and less
willing to believe that her husband was fully capable of deciding as
to what was best to be done in all things relating to those pursuits
in life by which this world's goods are obtained. She was passive,
and therefore we will believe that it was right for her to be so.
Mrs. Parker, though thus passive in all matters where she felt that
her husband was capable of deciding and where he ought to decide,
was not without activity and force of character. But all was
directed by a gentle and loving spirit, and in subservience to a
profound conviction that every occurrence in life was under the
direction or permission of God. No matter what she was called upon
to suffer, either of bodily or mental pain, she never murmured, but
lifted her heart upward with pious submission and felt, if she did
not speak the sentiment--"Thy will be done."
Mrs. Parker was one of three sisters, between whom existed the
tenderest affection. Their mother had died while they were young,
and love for each other had been strengthened and purified in mutual
love and care for their father. They had never been separated, from
childhood. The very thought of separation was always attended with
pain. If in the marriage of Rachel with Benjamin Parker any thing
crossed the mind of the loving and happy girl to cast over it a
shade, it was the thought of being separated from her sisters. Not a
distant separation, for Benjamin was keeping a store in the village,
and there was every prospect therefore of their remaining there,
permanently, but a removal from the daily presence of and household
intercourse with those, to love whom had been a part of her nature.
In the deeper, tenderer, more absorbing love with which Rachel loved
her husband, she found a compensation for what she lost in being
separated from her sisters and father. She was happy--but happy with
a subdued and thankful spirit.
Not more than a year elapsed after their marriage before Parker
began to complain of the badness of the times, and to sit thoughtful
and sometimes gloomy during the evenings he spent at home. This
grieved Rachel very much, and caused her to exercise the greatest
possible prudence and economy in order that the household expenses
might be as little burdensome as possible to her husband. But all
would not do.
"I am afraid I shall never get ahead here in the world," Parker at
length said outright, thereby giving his wife the first suspicion of
what was in his mind--a wish to try his fortune in some other place.
The truth was, Parker was making a living and a little over, but he
was not satisfied with this, and had moreover a natural love of
change. An acquaintance had talked to him a good deal about the
success of a young friend who had commenced in a town some fifty
miles away, a business precisely like the one in which he was
engaged. According to the account given, on half the capital which
Parker possessed, this person was selling double the quantity of
goods and making better profits.
A long time did not pass before Parker, after a bitter complaint in
regard to his business, said:
"I don't know what is to be done unless we go to Fairview. We could
do a great deal better there."
"Do you think so?" asked Rachel, in a calm voice, although her heart
sank within her at the thought of being separated from those she so
"I know it," was the answer. "Fairview is a thriving town, while
this place is going behindhand as fast as possible. I shall never
get along if I remain here, that is certain."
Rachel made no reply, but the hand that held the needle with which
she was sewing moved at a quicker rate.
"Are you willing to go there?" the husband asked, with some
hesitation of manner.
"If you think it best to go I am willing, of course," Rachel said,
Parker looked into the face of his wife, as it bent lower over the
work she held in her hand, and tried to understand as well as read
its expression. But he could not exactly make it out. Nor did the
tone of voice in which she so promptly expressed her willingness to
remove, if he thought it best, entirely satisfy his mind. Her
assent, however, had been obtained, and this being the thing he most
desired, he was not long in forgetting the manner in which that
assent was given. Of the cloud that fell upon her heart--of the
sadness that oppressed--of the foreshadowing loneliness of spirit
that came over her, he knew nothing.
A removal once determined upon, it was soon made. A large portion of
the goods in Mr. Parker's store was sold at a rather heavy sacrifice
and converted into cash. What remained of his stock was packed up
and sent to Fairview, whither with his wife and child he quickly
followed. While he looked hopefully ahead, the tearful eyes of
Rachel were turned back upon the loved and loving friends that were
left behind. But she did not murmur, or make any open manifestation
of the grief she felt. She believed it to be her duty to go with her
husband, and her duty, if she could not go cheerfully, at least to
conceal from others the pain she suffered.
For a time, things looked very bright in Fairview to the eyes of Mr.
Parker. He sold more goods and at better prices than at the old
place; but he had to credit more. The result of his first year's
business was quite encouraging. There was, however, a slight
drawback; very much more than his profits were outstanding. But he
doubted not that all would come in.
As for Mrs. Parker the year had not gone by without leaving some
marks of its passage upon her heart. Some are purified by much
suffering who, to common observation, seem purer far than hundreds
around them whose days glide pleasantly on and whose skies are
rarely overcast, and then only by a swiftly-passing summer cloud.
Rachel Parker was one of these. During the first year of her absence
from those who were loved next to her husband and child, her father
died. And what rendered the affliction doubly severe, was the fact,
that it occurred while she herself was so ill that she could not be
moved without endangering her life. He died and she could not be
with him in the last sad hours of his earthly existence! He died and
was buried, and she was not there to look for the last time upon his
beloved face--to follow him to his quiet resting-place--to weep over
his grave! She suffered--but to no mortal eye were apparent the
adequate signs of that suffering. Even her husband was misled by the
calm surface of her feelings into the belief that there was no wild
turbulence beneath. He did not see the tears that wet the pillow
upon which she slept. He did not know how many hours she lay
sleepless in the silent midnight watches. Daily all her duties were
performed with unvarying assiduity; and when he spoke to her she
answered with her usual gentle smile. That it faded more quickly
than was its wont, Benjamin Parker did not notice, nor did he remark
upon the fact that she rarely introduced any subject of
conversation. Indeed, so entirely was his mind engrossed by
business, that it was impossible for him to have any realizing sense
of the true state of his wife's feelings.
Four years were past at Fairview, during which time Parker barely
managed to get sufficient out of his store to live upon; the greater
portion of his profits being represented by the figures on the
debtor side of his ledger. Many of these accounts were good, though
slow in being realized; but many more were hopelessly bad. He was
very far from being satisfied with the result. He lived, it is true,
and by carefully attending to his business could continue to live,
and it might be lay up a little; but this did not satisfy Benjamin
Parker. He wanted to be getting ahead in the world.
"Why don't you go to the West?" said an acquaintance, to whom he was
one day making complaint of his slow progress. "That is the country
where enterprise meets a just reward. If I were as young a man as
you are, you wouldn't catch me long in these parts. I would sell out
and buy five or six hundred acres of government land and settle down
as a farmer. In a few years you'd see me with property on my hands
worth looking at."
This set Parker to thinking and inquiring about the West. The idea
of becoming a substantial farmer, with broad acres covered with
grain and fields alive with stock, soon became predominant in his
mind, and he talked of little else at home or abroad. His wife said
nothing, but she thought almost as much on the subject as did her
husband. At length Benjamin Parker determined that he would remove
to Northern Indiana, more than a thousand miles away, upon a farm of
five hundred acres, that was offered to him at two dollars and a
half an acre. It was government land that had been taken up a year
or two before, and slightly improved by the erection of a log hut
and the clearing of a few acres, and now sold at one hundred per
cent. advance. Instead of first visiting the West and seeing the
location of the land that was offered to him, Parker was willing to
believe all that was said of its excellence and admirable location,
and weak enough to invest in it more than half of all he was worth.
The store at Fairview was sold out, and Mrs. Parker permitted to
spend a week with her sisters before parting with them, perhaps,
forever. When the final moment of separation came it seemed to her
like a death-parting. The eyes of Rachel lingered upon each loved
countenance, as if for the last time, and when these passed from
before her bodily visions, love kept them as distinct as ever, but
distinct in their tearful sadness.
If the wishes and feelings of Rachel Parker had been consulted--if
she had been at all considered and her true feelings and character
justly appreciated--a removal to the West would never have been
determined upon. But her husband's mind was all absorbed in ideas of
worldly things. Not possessing the habits and qualities of mind that
ensure success in any calling, he was always oppressed with the
consciousness that he was either standing still, or going
behind-hand. Instead of seeking to better his condition by greater
activity, energy, and concentration of thought upon his business, he
was ever looking to something beyond it, and to change of place and
pursuit as the means of improving his fortunes. This at last, as has
been seen, led him off to the West in the ardent hope of becoming in
time a wealthy farmer. In an inverse ratio to the hopeful elevation
of spirits with which Parker set out upon his journey was the
sorrowful depression experienced by his wife. But Rachel kept meekly
and patiently her feelings to herself. It was her duty, she felt, to
go with her husband. She had united her fortunes with his, and
without murmuring or complaining, she was ready to go with him
through the world and to stand bravely up by his side in any and all
After a journey of five weeks, Benjamin Parker and his wife, with
their family of three children, arrived at their new home in the
West. It was early in the spring. The main body of the farm, which
was densely wooded, lay upon the eastern bank of a small, sluggish
river, with broad, marshy bottom-lands. The cabin, which had been
put up the year before on a small clearing, stood on an eminence
just above this river, and was five miles away from any other human
habitation. It consisted of two rooms and a small loft above. One of
these rooms had only a ground floor. The windows were not glazed.
The last thirty miles of the journey to this wild region had been
performed in a wagon, which contained their furniture and a small
supply of provisions.
The first night spent in this lonely, cheerless place was one that
brought no very pleasant reflections to either Parker or his wife.
He was disappointed in his expectations, and she felt as if a heavy
hand were pressing upon her bosom.
But there they were, and the only thing for them to do was to make
the best of what was in their hands. Parker obtained an assistant
and went to work to prepare the cleared ground for spring crops, and
his wife, with a babe at her breast and no help, assumed all the
duties pertaining to her family. In cooking, washing, milking,
sewing, etc., she found enough to occupy all her time late and
early. It was a rare thing for her to lay her head upon her pillow
without extreme weariness and even exhaustion.
Time went on, and they began to reap the first fruits of their
industry. The wilderness and solitary place blossomed. The little
clearing widened gradually its circle, and many little comforts, at
first wanting, were obtained. Still they suffered many privations
and Mrs. Parker far more than her husband imagined.
The first summer, hot and sultry, drew near to its close. Thus far
they had been blessed with health. But now slight headache, nausea,
and a general feeling of debility were experienced by all. The first
to show symptoms of serious illness was the oldest child. She was
nearly five years of age, her name was Rachel, and she was aptly
named, for she was the image of her mother. The bright eyes, sweet,
loving face, and happy voice of little Rachel, that was heard all
day long, lightened the mother's toil, refreshed her spirits, and
often made her forget the loneliness and seclusion in which they
lived. She was like a cool spring in the desert, a bright flower in
a barren waste, a ray of sunshine from a wintry sky.
Little Rachel was the first to droop. Saturday was always the
busiest day of the week; it was the day of preparation for the
Sabbath; for even separate and lonely as they were, this family
sacredly regarded the Sabbath as a day of rest from worldly care and
labor. It was Saturday, and Mrs. Parker, in the more earnest
attention which she gave to her household duties, did not notice
that the child was more quiet than usual; nor did the fact of
finding her fast asleep on the floor when dinner was ready, cause
any thing further than a thought that she had tired herself out with
play. At night she refused her supper, and then it was observed for
the first time that her eyes were heavy, her hands hot, and that she
was affected with a general languor. Her mother undressed her and
put her to bed, and the child sank off immediately into a heavy
sleep. For some time Mrs. Parker stood bending over her with a
feeling of unusual tenderness for the child. She also felt concern,
but not arising from any definite cause. The fear of extreme
sickness and impending death she had not yet known. That was one of
the lessons she had still to learn.
In the morning little Rachel awoke with a severe chill, accompanied
by vomiting. A raging fever succeeded to this. The parents became
alarmed, and Mr. Parker started off on horseback, for a physician,
distant about seven miles. It was noon when the doctor arrived. He
did not say much in answer to the anxious questions of the mother,
but administered some medicine and promised to call on the next day.
At his second visit he found nothing favorable in the symptoms of
his little patient. Her fever was higher than on the day before.
There had been a short intermission after midnight, which lasted
until morning, when it had returned again greatly exacerbated.
Nine days did the fever last without the abatement of a single
symptom, but rather a steady increase of all. The little sufferer
had not only the violence of a dangerous disease to bear, but there
was added to this a system of medical treatment that of itself,
where no disease existed, would have made the child extremely ill.
In the first place large doses of mercury were given, followed by
other nauseous and poisonous drugs; then copious bleeding was
resorted to; and then the entire breast of the child was covered
with a blister that was kept on until the whole surface of the skin
was ready to peel off. Afterward the head was shaved and blistered.
During all this time, medicines that the poor sufferer's stomach
refused to take were forced down her throat, almost hourly! If there
had been any hope of escape from the fever, this treatment would
have made death certain.
At the close of the ninth day the physician informed the parents
that he could do no more for their child. When Mrs. Parker received
this intelligence, there was little change in her external
appearance, except that her pale, anxious face grew slightly paler.
She tried to say in her heart, as she endeavored to lift her spirit
upward--"Thy will be done." But she failed in the pious effort. It
was too much to take from her this darling child; this companion of
her loneliness; this blossom so gently unfolding and loading the
desert air with soul-refreshing sweetness. It was too much--she
bowed her spirit in meek endurance, but she could not say--"Thy will
Little Rachel died. The father dug her grave near by their humble
dwelling; he made the rough coffin in which they enclosed her; and
then bore out the body and laid it in the ground, while the weeping
mother stood by his side. Sole mourners were they at these sad
funereal rites. No holy words from the book of consolation were
read, no solemn hymn was sung--all was silence, heart-oppressing
On the succeeding day Parker had to go for the physician again. His
next child was taken sick. His wife was far from being well, and he
felt strangely. After the doctor had prescribed for the family, and
was about leaving, he took Mr. Parker to an eminence overlooking the
river that bounded his farm on the western side, and spoke to him
"My friend, do you see that river, with more than half of its muddy
bed exposed to the hot sun? Your farm lies upon its eastern side,
and the poisonous miasma that arises from its surface and banks is
steadily blown upon you by the south-westerly and westerly winds of
summer. Is it any wonder that your family have become sick? I
wouldn't live here if you would give me fifty farms like this!
Already a whole family have died on this spot, and your's will be
the next if you do not leave immediately. You have lost one child;
let that suffice. Flee from this place as hurriedly as Lot fled from
Sodom. Medical aid I solemnly believe to be useless while you remain
here. The village of A--is healthy. Remove your wife and children
there immediately. Do not wait for a single day. It is the only hope
for their lives."
A warning like this was not a thing to be let go by unheeded. Parker
promptly announced to his wife what the doctor had communicated, and
ended by saying--
"We must go at once."
"And leave Rachel?" she returned, sadly.
"Our staying here cannot do her any good," replied the husband, in a
"I know--I know," quickly answered the mother. "I am weak and
foolish. Yes--yes--we had better go."
A few hours sufficed for all needful preparations, and then, with
his wife and children in his wagon, Parker mounted one of the horses
and drove off for the village of A--, distant a little over ten
miles. As they moved away the mother's eyes were turned back upon
the little mound of earth beneath which slept the body of her
precious child, and remained fixed upon that one spot until by
intervening trees all was hidden from her sight. Then her eyes
closed, and she leaned her head down against the side of the wagon,
while her arm tightened its hold of the babe that was sleeping on
her bosom. For a long time she remained lost to all that was around
her. Years afterward she said to a friend that the severest trial of
her whole life was in leaving her child alone in that wild, desolate
place. It seemed as if the little one must feel the desertion.
At the town of A--Parker and his family obtained accommodations in a
poor tavern, where they remained for six weeks, during which time
every one suffered more or less severely from fevers, contracted in
the poisoned atmosphere in which they had been residing. During the
time that Parker remained at A--he obtained more information in
regard to Western life, and the prospects of a man like himself
getting ahead, as a farmer on wild lands than he had ever before
had. He learned, too, some particulars about his own farm, of which
be was before ignorant. All along the river upon which it was