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The Iron Rule by T.S. Arthur

Part 2 out of 3

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be dreadful to be sent to sea!"

"I don't know. I'd as lief be there as anywhere else, if I can't see

"But you will see me sometimes. We can't meet any more as we go to
school; but we'll see each other often, Andrew."

These words lifted much of the heavy weight that pressed on the
feelings of the boy.

"When will we see each other?" he asked.

"I don't know," replied Emily. "Father said we musn't meet going to
school; but there will be other chances. Good-by! I wouldn't like
father to see me here, for then he would think me a very disobedient

And saying this, Emily turned and ran fleetly away. Andrew's
feelings were relieved from the pressure that rested upon them.
Still he felt angry and indignant at Mr. Winters, and this state
increasing rather than subsiding, tended to encourage other states
of mind that were not good. With a feeling of rebellion in his heart
he returned home, where he found no difficulty in provoking some
reaction, and in falling under the quickly excited displeasure of
his father, who was ever more inclined to seek than overlook causes
of reproof. The consequence was, that when he left home for school
in the afternoon he felt little inclination to attend, and, after a
slight debate, yielded to this inclination. A little forbearance and
kindness would have softened the child's feelings, and prompted him
to enter the right way. But the iron hand was never relaxed, and
there was no room beneath it for the crushed heart of the boy to
swell with better impulses.

At supper time, on that evening, the boy was absent. He should have
been at home nearly two hours before.

"Where is Andrew?" asked Mr. Howland, as they gathered at the table.

"I'm sure I don't know," replied Mrs. Howland, in a voice touched
with a deeper concern than usual.

"Has he been home since school was dismissed?"


"Was there ever such a boy!" exclaimed Mr. Howland.

"Most probably he has been kept in," suggested the mother.

"Edward, go round to the house of his teacher and ask if he was
dismissed at five o'clock," said Mr. Howland.

Edward left the table and went on his errand. He soon returned with
word that Andrew had not been to school all day.

Knife and fork fell from the hands of Mr. Howland, and the mother's
face instantly grew pale.

"I felt troubled about him all day," murmured the latter.

"He was home at dinner time?" said Mr. Howland, as he pushed his
chair back from the table.


"Oh dear!--oh dear! What is to become of him? I've tried everything
in my power to restrain him from evil, but all is of no avail."

Just at this moment the street-door bell was rung very violently. As
each one paused to listen, and the room became perfectly silent, the
murmur of many voices could be heard in the street. For a few
moments all was breathless expectation. The sound of the servant's
feet, as she moved along the passage to the door, throbbed on each
heart, and then all sprung from their chairs, as a cry of distress
was uttered by the servant, followed by men's voices, and the
entrance of a crowd of people.

Poor Mrs. Howland sunk to the floor, nerveless, while Mr. Howland
sprung quickly out of the room. The story was soon told. Andrew had
been out on the river with some other boys in a boat, from which he
had fallen into the water, and was now brought home to his parents,
to all appearance, lifeless. It proved in the end that vitality was
only suspended; after an hour's unremitted effort, by a skillful
physician, the circle of life went on again.

The shock of this event somewhat subdued the mind of Mr. Howland. He
felt utterly discouraged about the boy. While in this state of
discouragement, he refrained from saying anything to him about his
bad conduct. Indeed, in view of this second narrow escape from
death, his feelings were a good deal softened toward Andrew, and
something like pity took the place of anger. During the two days
that the lad was convalescing, his father said little to him; but
what little he did say was spoken kindly, and with more of a
parental sentiment therein than had been apparent for years.
Electrically did this sentiment reach the heart of Andrew. Once when
Mr. Howland took his hand, and asked in a kind voice how he felt,
tears rushed to his eyes, and his lips quivered so that he could not
reply. This was perceived by Mr. Howland, and he felt that his boy
was not altogether given over to hardness of heart. In that moment
Andrew promised in his own mind, that in future he would be a more
obedient boy.

Unhappily, Mr. Howland attributed this subdued and better state of
feeling in his son, to the narrow escape from drowning that he had
had, and not to the real cause--the change of his own manner toward
him. Through the feeble moving of sympathy and kindness in his own
heart, there was the beginning of power over the perverse boy, and
this power might have been exercised, had the father possessed
enough of wisdom and self-denial, until he had gained a complete
control over him. But alas! he did not possess this wisdom and
self-denial. He was a hard man, and believed in no virtue but that
of force. He could drive, but not lead. He could hold with an iron
hand, but not restrain by a voice full of the power of kindness.
Before the close of the second day he spoke harshly to Andrew, and
did, thereby, such violence to the boy's feelings, that he turned
his face from him and wept.

On the third day after the accident Andrew went back to school, and
continued, for a time, to go punctually and to attend (sic)
dilligently to his studies. But soon the angry reaction of his
father, against little acts of thoughtlessness or disobedience,
threw him back into his old state, and he was as bad as ever.


THUS the struggle went on, Mr. Howland's power to control his boy
growing less and less every year. Naturally, considering the
relation of the two families of Mr. Howland and Mr. Winters, and the
bad reputation of the son of the former, the intercourse between
Andrew and Emily was more and more restricted. Still their
friendship for each other remained, to a certain extent,
undiminished, and they met as often as favorable circumstances would
permit. To Emily, the kind feelings entertained for the wayward boy
proved sources of frequent unhappiness. Few opportunities for
speaking against him were omitted by her parents, and she never
heard his name coupled with words of censure without feeling pain.
One half that was said of him she did not believe; for she saw more
of the bright side of his character than did any one else.

As before intimated, by the time Emily gained her sixteenth year,
she had developed so far toward womanhood, that Andrew, who still
remained a slender boy in appearance, felt his heart tremble as he
looked upon her, and thought of the distance this earlier
development had placed between them. And even a greater distance was
beginning to exist--the distance that lies between a pure mind and
one that is corrupt. As Andrew grew older, he grew worse, and the
sphere of his spiritual quality began to be felt, oppressively, at
times, by Emily, during the periods of their brief intercourse.
Moreover, she was ever hearing some evil thing laid to his charge.
At length their intimate intercourse came to an end, and, with the
termination of this, was removed the last restraint that held the
lad in bounds of external propriety. The cause of this termination
we will relate: As Andrew grew older, he grew more and more
self-willed, and strayed farther and farther from the right way.
Social in his feelings, he sought the companionship of boys of his
own age, and by the time he was seventeen, had formed associations
of a very dangerous character. Though positively forbidden by his
father to be out after night, he disregarded the injunction, and
went from home almost every evening. At home there was nothing to
attract him; nothing to give him pleasure. A shadow was ever on the
brow of his father, and this threw a gloom over the entire
household. But, abroad, among his companions, he found a hundred
things to interest him. All license tends toward further extremes.
It was not long before Andrew found ten o'clock at night too early
for him. The theatre was a place positively interdicted by his
parents; and, restrained by some lingering respect for his mother's
feelings, Andrew had, up to the age of seventeen, resisted the
strong desire he felt to see a play. At last, however, he yielded to
temptation, and went to the theatre. On returning home about eleven
o'clock, he found his father sitting up for him. To the stern
interrogation as to where he had been so late, he replied with
equivocation, and finally with direct falsehood.

"Andrew," said Mr. Howland, at length, speaking with unusual
severity of tone, and with a deliberation and emphasis that
indicated a higher degree of earnestness than usual, "if you are out
again until after ten o'clock, you remain out all night. To this my
mind is fully made up. So act your own good pleasure."

The father and son then separated.

Ten o'clock came on the next night, and Andrew had not returned. For
the half hour preceding the stroke of the clock, Mr. Howland had
walked the floor uneasily, with his ear harkening anxiously for the
sound of the bell that marked his son's return; and, as the time
drew nearer and nearer, he half repented the utterance of a law,
that, if broken, could not, he feared, but result in injury to the
disobedient boy. At last the clock struck ten. He paused and stood
listening for over a minute; then he resumed his walk again, and
continued his measured paces for over ten minutes longer, intending
to give his erring son the benefit of that space of time. But he
yielded thus much in his favor in vain. Anger at this deliberate
disobedience of a positive order then displaced a portion of
anxiety, and he closed, mentally, the door upon his child for that

Of his purpose, Mr. Howland said nothing to his wife. He hoped that
she would be asleep before Andrew returned, if he returned at all
before morning. But in this his hope was not realized. The fact of
Andrew's having staid out so late on the night before had troubled
her all day, and she had made up her mind to sit up for him now
until he came home.

"Come, Esther, it is time to go to bed," said Mr. Howland to his
wife, seeing that she made no motion towards retiring.

"You go. I will sit up for Andrew," was replied.

"Andrew can't come in, to-night," said Mr. Howland.

The mother sprung to her feet instantly; her face flushing, and then
becoming very pale.

"I told him, last night, that if he staid out again until after ten
o'clock, there would be no admission for him until morning. And I
shall assuredly keep my word!"

"Oh, Andrew! Don't, don't do this!" pleaded the unhappy mother, in a
low, choking voice. "Would you turn an erring son from your door,
when danger is hovering around him?"

"He turns himself away. The act is his, not mine," replied Mr.
Howland, coldly.

As he spoke, the bell rung.

"There he is, now!" exclaimed the mother, starting toward the door.

"Esther!" Mr. Howland stept in front of his wife, and, looking
sternly in her face, added, "Havn't I just said that there was no
entrance for him, to-night?"

"But it's early! It's only a few minutes after ten," eagerly replied
the mother.

"It's past ten o'clock, and that settles the matter," returned Mr.

"But where will he go?" asked the mother.

"To the Station House, if he can find no better place. To-morrow he
will most probably have a higher appreciation of the comforts of

As Mr. Howland closed this sentence, the bell rung again.

"Andrew! I must let him in!" exclaimed the mother, in a tone of
anguish, and she made a movement to pass her husband. But a strong
hand was instantly laid upon her arm, and a stern voice said--

"Don't interfere with me in this matter, Esther! As the father of
that wayward boy, it is my duty to control him."

"This is driving him from his home; not controlling him!"

"I'll bear the responsibility of what I am doing," said Mr. Howland,
impatiently. "Why will you interfere with me in this way?"

"Is he not _my_ son also?" inquired Mrs. Howland, passing, in her
distress of mind, beyond the ordinary spirit of her intercourse with
her self-willed husband.

"I am his father," coldly replied the latter, "and knowing my duty
toward him, shall certainly do it."

The bell was rung again at this moment, and more loudly than before.

"Oh, Andrew! let me beg of you to open the door!" And Mrs. Howland
clasped her hands imploringly, and lifted her eyes running over with
tears to her husband's face.

"It cannot be opened to-night, Esther!" was the firm reply. "Have I
not said this over and over again. Why will you continue these
importunities? They are of no avail."

A loud knocking on the street door was now heard. By this time, a
servant who had retired came down from her room and was moving along
the passage, when Mr. Howland intercepted her, with the question--

"Where are you going?"

"Some one rung the bell," replied the servant.

"Never mind; go back to your room. You needn't open the door."

"Andrew isn't in yet," said the servant, respectfully.

"Didn't I say, go back to your room?" returned Mr. Howland, in a
sharp voice.

Twice more the bell was rung, and twice more the knocking was
repeated. Then all remained silent.

"Come, Esther!" said Mr. Howland to his wife, who was sitting on a
sofa, with her face buried in her hands. "Let us go up stairs. It is

The mother did not stir.

"Esther! did you hear me?"

Slowly, more like a moving automaton than a living creature, did
Mrs. Howland arise from her place, and follow her husband up to
their chamber. There, without uttering a word, she partially
disrobed herself, and getting into bed, buried her tearful face in a
pillow. Mr. Howland was soon by her side. Both lay without moving
for nearly half an hour, and then the heavy respiration of the
husband told that he was asleep. The moment this was apparent, Mrs.
Howland, who had lain as still as if locked in deep slumber, crept
softly from the bed, and then, with a quick, eager motion, commenced
putting on a wrapper. This done, she drew a pair of slippers on her
feet, glided noiselessly from the room, and hurried down to the
street door, which she softly opened.

The mother had hoped to find her erring son still there. But, as she
looked anxiously forth into the darkness, no human form was

"Andrew!" she called, in a low voice, as she stepped from the door,
and threw her eyes up and down the street: "Andrew!"

But all was silent. Descending to the pavement, she passed along a
few yards to the steps of the next house, a faint hope in her mind
that Andrew might have seated himself there in his disappointment
and fallen asleep. But this hope was not realized. Then she passed
on to the next house, and the next, with the same purpose and the
same result. She was near the corner of the street, when the sound
of a closing door fell upon her ear, and the thought that the wind
might have shut her own door upon her, filled her with sudden alarm.
Running back, she found that what she had feared was too true. She
was alone in the street, half-dressed and with her head uncovered,
and the door, which closed with a dead-latch, shut against her.

To ring the bell was Mrs. Howland's first impulse. But no one
answered to the summons. Every ear was sealed in slumber, and, even
were that not the case, no one would come down, unless her husband
should awaken, and discover that she was not by his side. Again and
again she pulled the bell. But eagerly though she listened, with her
ear to the door, not the slightest movement was heard within.

While the mother shrunk close to the door in a listening attitude,
the sound of a slow, heavy step was heard approaching along the
street. Soon the form of a man came in view, and in a little while
he was in front of Mrs. Howland, where he paused, and after standing
and looking at her for a few moments, said,

"What's the matter here?"

Mrs. Howland trembled so, that she could make no answer.

The man put his hand on the iron railing, and lifted one foot upon
the stone steps leading to the door of the house, saying as he did

"Do you live here?"

"Yes!" was replied in a low, frightened voice.

Mrs. Howland now looking at the man more closely, perceived, by his
dress, that he was one of the night policemen, and her heart took
instant courage.

"Oh," said she, forgetting, for the moment, the unpleasant
circumstances by which she was surrounded, and turning to the man as
she spoke, "have you seen anything of my son--of Mr. Howland's
son--about here to-night?"

"Mrs. Howland! Is it possible!" replied the man, in a respectful
voice. Then he added, "I saw him go down the street about half an
hour ago."

"Did you! And do you know where he has gone?"

"No, ma'am. He passed on out of sight."

A low moan escaped the mother's lips at this intelligence. A few
moments she stood silent, and then placed her hand upon the
bell-pull and rung for admittance.

"Is the door locked?" asked the watchman, manifesting surprise.

"No; the wind blew it to, and it has become fastened with the

Both stood silent for some time, but no one answered the bell. The
night dews were falling upon the mother's head, and the night air
penetrating her thin garments. A shiver ran through her frame, and
she felt a constriction of the chest as if she had inhaled sulphur.
Again she rung the bell.

"Does no one know of your being out?" asked the watchman.

"All are asleep in the house," replied Mrs. Howland.

At this the watchman came up the steps, and struck two or three
heavy blows upon the door with his mace, the sound of which went
reverberating through the house, and startling Mr. Howland from his
slumber. But not perceiving immediately that his wife was absent
from her place by his side, and thinking that his son had renewed
his efforts to gain admission, the latter did not make a motion to
rise. In a few moments, however, the repeated strokes of the mace,
to which was added the loud call of a man in the street below caused
him to start up in bed. He then perceived that his wife was not by
his side. With an exclamation, he sprang upon the floor, and
throwing up the window, called out--

"Who's there?"

"Come down and open the door," was answered by the watchman.

"Who wants to come in?" asked Mr. Howland, his mind beginning by
this time to get a little clear from the confusion into which it was
at first thrown.

"I do," replied a voice that threw all into bewilderment again.

"Bless me! What does this mean!" exclaimed Mr. Howland, aloud, yet
speaking to himself.

"Open the door, quickly," called out Mrs. Howland, in a tone of
distress. "Come down and let me in."

Hurriedly Mr. Howland now dressed himself and went down. As he
opened the door, his wife glided past him, and ran up stairs. The
watchman retired without speaking to the confused and astonished
husband, who, recovering his presence of mind, reclosed the door and
followed his wife to their chamber.

"Esther! What is the meaning of all this?" asked Mr. Howland, with
much severity of manner.

But there was no reply.

"Will you speak?" said he, in a tone of authority.

The home-tyrant had gone a step too far. The meek, patient,
long-suffering, much enduring wife, was in no state of mind to bear
further encroachments in the direction from which they were now
coming. Suddenly she raised herself up from whence she had fallen
across the bed, and looking at her husband with an expression that
caused him to step back a pace, involuntarily answered.

"By what authority do you speak to me thus?"

"By the authority vested in me as your husband," was promptly

"I was on God's errand, Mr. Howland; searching after the weak, the
simple, and the erring! Have you anything to say against the
mission? Does your authority reach above His?"

And the mother, lifting her hand, pointed trembling finger upward,
while she fixed an eye upon her husband so steady that his own sunk
beneath its gaze.

For the space of nearly a minute, the attitude of neither changed,
nor was the silence broken. Twice during the time did Mr. Howland
lift his eyes to those of his wife, and each time did they fall,
after a few moments, under the strange half-defiant look they
encountered. At last he said firmly, yet in a more subdued, though
rebuking voice,

"This to me, Esther?"

"Am I not a mother?" was asked in response to this, yet without a
perceptible tremor in her voice.

"You are a wife, as well as a mother," replied Mr. Howland, "and, as
a wife, are under a sacred obligation to regard the authority
committed to your husband by God."

"Have I not just said to you," returned Mrs. Howland, "that I was on
God's errand? Does your authority go beyond His?"

"When did He speak to you?" There was a covert sneer in the tone
with which this half impious interrogation was made.

"I heard his still, small voice in my mother's heart," replied Mrs.
Howland, meekly, "and I went forth obedient thereto, to seek the
straying child you had so harshly and erringly turned from your
door: thus does God shut the door of Heaven against no wandering one
who comes to it and knocks for entrance."

"Esther! I will not hear such language from your lips!" There was an
unsteadiness in the voice of Mr. Howland, that marked the effect his
wife's unexpected and searching words had produced.

"Then do not seek to stand between me and my duty as a mother," was
her firm reply. "Too long, already, have you placed yourself between
me and this duty. But that time is past."

As Mrs. Howland uttered these words, she passed across the room to a
window, which she threw up, and leaning her body out, looked
earnestly up and down the street. For a reaction like this Mr.
Howland was not prepared. He was, in fact, utterly confounded. Had
there been the smallest sign of irresolution on the part of his
wife--the nearest appearance of weakness in the will so suddenly
opposed to his own--he would have known what to do. But nothing of
this was apparent, and he hesitated about advancing again to the
contest, while there was so strong a doubt as to the issue.

For a long time Mr. Howland moved about the room, while his wife
continued to sit, listening, at the window.

"Come, Esther," said the former, at length, in a voice greatly
changed from its tone when he last spoke. "You had better retire. It
is useless to remain there. Besides, you are in danger of taking
cold. The air is damp and chilly."

"You can retire--I shall sleep none, to-night," was answered to
this. And then Mrs. Howland looked again from the window.
"Where--where can he have gone?" she said aloud, though speaking to
herself. "My poor, unhappy boy!"

Mr. Howland made no answer to this. He had no satisfying
intelligence to offer, nor any words of comfort that it would be of
avail to speak.

Thus the greater portion of that long remembered night was
passed--Mrs. Howland sitting at the window, vainly waiting and
watching for her son, and Mr. Howland walking the floor of the room,
his mind given up to troubled and rebuking thoughts. In his hardness
and self-will he had justified himself up to this in his course of
conduct pursued toward his children; but he was in doubt now. A
question as to whether he had been right or not had come into his
mind, and disturbed him to the very centre.


WHEN Mr. Howland threatened his son with exclusion from the house,
if he were away at ten o'clock, Andrew's feelings were in a state of
reaction against his father, and he said to himself, in a rebellious

"We'll see if you will."

But after growing cooler, he came into a better state of mind; and,
in view of consequences such as he knew would be visited on him,
decided not to come in contact with his father in this
particular--at least not for the present. If turned from his own
door at midnight, where was he to find shelter? This question he
could not answer to his own satisfaction.

After supper, on the evening succeeding that in which he had visited
the theatre, Andrew left home and went to an engine-house. in the
neighborhood, where he joined about a dozen lads and young men as
idle and aimless as himself. With these he spent an hour or two,
entering into their vicious and debasing conversation, when a person
with whom he had gone to see the play on the previous evening,
proposed to him to go around to the theatre again. Andrew objected
that he had no money, but the other said that he could easily
procure checks, and volunteered to ask for them. Still Andrew, whose
thoughts were on the passing time, refused to go. He meant to be
home before the clock struck ten.

"Come round with me, then," urged the lad.

"What time is it?" asked Andrew.

"Only a little after nine o'clock," was replied.

"Are you certain?"

"Oh, yes. I heard the clock strike a short time ago. It isn't more
than a quarter past nine."

"I thought it was later than that."

"No. It's early yet; so, come along. I want to talk to you."

Thus urged, Andrew went with the boy. The theatre was some distance
away. Just as they reached it, a clock was heard to strike.

"Bless me!" exclaimed Andrew.
Three--four--five--six--seven--eight--nine--TEN!" And, as he uttered
the last word, he started back the way he had come, running at full
speed. It was ten o'clock--the hour he was required to be at home,
under penalty of having the door closed against him. How troubled he
felt! How strongly his heart beat! He had not intended to disregard
his father's command in this instance. In fact, during the day, he
had reflected more than usual, and many good resolutions had formed
themselves in his mind.

"I wish I could be better," he said to himself involuntarily, a
great many times. And then he would sigh as he thought of the
difficulties that were in his way. At dinner time he came to the
table with his feelings a good deal subdued. But it so happened,
that, during the morning, Mr. Howland had heard of some impropriety
of which he had been guilty a month previous, and felt called upon
to reprimand him, therefore, with considerable harshness. The
consequence was, that the boy left the table without finishing his
dinner, at which his father became very much incensed. The angry
feelings of the latter had not subsided when tea-time came, and he
met the family at their evening meal with the clouded face he too
often wore. The supper hour passed in silence. After leaving the
table, Andrew, to whom the sphere of the house was really
oppressive, from its entire want of cheerfulness and mutual good
feeling, went out to seek the companionship of those who were more

"There's nothing pleasant here," he said, as he stood in the door,
half disposed to leave the house. "If there only was! But I won't
think of it!" he added with impulsive quickness; and, as he murmured
these words, he descended the steps to the street, and walked slowly

Thus, it will be seen, the wayward boy was virtually driven out by
the harshness and want of sympathy which prevailed at home, to seek
the society of those who presented a more attractive exterior, but
who were walking in the paths of evil, and whose steps tended to

But, though thus thrust out, as it were, from the circle of safety,
Andrew still preserved his intention of being at home at the hour
beyond which his father had warned him not to be away. It has been
seen how, through an error as to time, he was betrayed into
unintentional transgression. Not an instant did he pause on his
return from the theatre, but ran all the way homeward at a rapid
speed. Arriving at the door, he pulled the bell, and then stood
panting from excitement. For a short time he waited, in trembling
anxiety, but no one answered his summons. Then he rung the bell more
violently than before. Still none came to let him in, and his heart
began to fail him.

"Surely father don't mean to keep me out!" said he to himself. "He
wouldn't do that. Where am I to go for shelter at this hour?"

And again he pulled the bell, causing it to ring longer and louder
than before. Then he leaned close to the door and listened, but no
sound reached his ears. Growing impatient, he next tried knocking.
All his efforts to gain admission, however, proved unavailing; and
ceasing at last to ring or knock, he sat down upon the stone steps,
and covering his face with his hands, wept bitterly. For over a
quarter of an hour he remained seated at the threshold of his
father's house, from which he had been excluded. During that period,
much of his previous life passed in review before him, and the
conclusions of the boy's mind were at last expressed in these

"I believe father hates the very sight of me! He says I'm going to
ruin, and so I am; but he is driving me there. What does he think
I'm going to do, to-night? If he cared for me, would he let me sleep
in the streets? I have tried to do right, but it was of no use. When
I tried the hardest, he was the crossest, and made me do wrong
whether I would or not. I don't care what becomes of me now!"

As Andrew uttered these last words, a reckless spirit seized him,
and starting up, he walked away with a firm step. But he had gone
only a block or two, before his mind again became oppressed with a
sense of his houseless condition, and pausing, he murmured, in a sad
under tone--

"Where shall I go?"

For a little while he stood irresolute, and then moved on again. For
several squares farther he walked, with no definite purpose in his
mind, when he came to a row of three or four unfinished houses, the
door of one of which was partially opened; at least so much so, that
it was only necessary to pull off a narrow strip of board in order
to effect an entrance. With the sight of these houses came the
suggestion to the mind of Andrew that he might find a place to sleep
therein for the night, and acting upon this, he passed up the plank
leading to the door least securely fastened, and soon succeeded in
getting it open. But, just as he stepped within, a heavy hand was
laid upon him from behind, and a rough voice said--

"What are you doing here, sir?"

Turning, Andrew found himself in the custody of a policeman.

For a few moments every power of mind and body forsook the unhappy
boy, and he stood shrinking and stammering before the officer--thus
confirming a suspicion of intended incendiarism in the mind of that

"Come! you must go with me." And the officer commenced moving down
the plank that connected the door with the ground, drawing Andrew
after him.

"I was only going to sleep there," said the frightened boy, as soon
as the power of speech had returned.

"Of course," returned the policeman, "I understand all that. But
I'll find a better place in which you can spend the night. So come
along with me."

Remonstrance on the part of Andrew was all in vain, and so, watching
an opportunity, he made an effort to escape. But he ran only a few
yards before he was tripped up by the officer, when falling, he
struck his forehead on the curb-stone, wounding it severely.

"Look here!" said the officer, in a resolute voice, passing his
heavy mace before the eyes of Andrew; "if you try this again I'll
knock you senseless!"

Then grasping his arm more firmly, he added--

"Move along quickly!"

With his head aching severely from the fall, and the blood trickling
down his face from the wound on his forehead, Andrew walked along by
the side of the officer, who continued to keep hold of him. In
passing under a gas-lamp, they met a lady and gentleman. The former
Andrew recognized at a glance, and she knew him, even with his
bloody face, and uttered a cry of surprise and alarm. It was Emily
Winters returning with her father from the house of a friend, where
they had stayed to an unusually late hour. The officer was about
pausing, but Andrew sprung forward, saying as he did so, in an under

"Don't stop!"

At the same instant Mr. Winters urged on his daughter, and the
parties were separated in a moment.

"Unhappy boy!" said the father of Emily, who had also recognized
Andrew, "his folly and evil are meeting a just but severe return.
His poor mother!--when she hears of this it will almost break her
heart. What an affliction to have such a son!"

"Did you see the blood on his face?" asked Emily, in a choking
voice, while her hand shook so violently, as it rested on the arm
of, her father, that he felt the tremor in every nerve.

"I did," he replied.

"What was the matter? He must be badly hurt. What could have done

"He's been quarreling with some one, I presume," coldly replied Mr.
Winters, who did not like the interest his daughter manifested.

Emily made no reply to this, and they walked the rest of the way
home in silence.


IT was within an hour of daylight when Mrs. Howland, worn down by
her long vigil, fell asleep, and an hour after the sun had risen,
before her troubled slumber was broken. Then starting up, she
eagerly inquired of her husband, who had already arisen, and was
walking about the room, if Andrew had yet returned. Mr. Howland
merely shook his head.

Soon after, breakfast was announced, and the family assembled at the
table; but one place was vacant.

"Where is Andrew?" asked Mary.

No answer was made to this question; and Mary saw by the expression
of her parents faces, that to repeat it would not be agreeable. A
few moments afterward the bell rung. As the steps of a servant were
heard moving along the passage toward the door, Mr. and Mrs. Howland
sat listening in breathless expectation. Soon the servant came down,
and said that a man wished to see Mr. Howland.

At these words the latter started up from the table and left the
room. At the street door he found a man, whose appearance indicated
his attachment to the police of the city.

"Mr. Howland!" said he, respectfully, yet with the air of a man who
had something not very agreeable to communicate.

"That is my name," replied Mr. Howland, striving, but in vain, to
assume an air of unconcern.

"You are wanted at the Mayor's office," said the policeman.

"For what purpose?" was inquired.

"Your son is before his Honor, on a charge of attempting to set fire
to a row of new buildings last night."

At this intelligence, Mr. Howland uttered an exclamation of
distress, and stepping back a pace or two, leaned heavily against
the wall.

"Well! What is wanted with me?" asked the unhappy father, recovering
himself, after a few moments.

"To go his bail," replied the officer. "The Mayor demands a thousand
dollars bail, in default of which, he will have to go to prison and
there await his trial."

"Let him go to prison!" said Mr. Howland, in a severe tone of voice.
He was beginning to regain his self-possession.

"No, Andrew!" came firmly from the lips of Mrs. Howland, who had
followed her husband, unperceived, to the door, and who had heard
the dreadful charge preferred against her son. "Don't say that! Go
and save him from the disgrace and wrong that now hang over his
head--and go quickly!"

"Yes, Mr. Howland," said the officer, "your lady is right. You
should not let him go to prison. That will do him no good. And,
moreover, he may be innocent of the crime laid to his charge."

"He must be innocent. My boy has many faults, but he would not be
guilty of a crime like this," said Mrs. Howland. "Oh, Mr. Howland!
go! go quickly and save him from these dreadful consequences. If you
do not, I must fly to him. They shall not imprison my poor boy!"

"This is folly, Esther!" returned Mr. Howland, severely. "He has got
himself, by his bad conduct, into the hands of the law, and it will
do him good to feel its iron grip. I am clear for letting him at
least go to prison, and remain there for a few days. By that time he
will be sick enough of his folly."

"I would not advise this," suggested the officer. "Depend upon it,
if his present position is of no avail toward working change for the
better--sending him to prison will harden, rather than reform him."

"Andrew!" said Mrs. Howland, with a firmness and decision of tone
that marked a high degree of resolution on her part--"if you do not
go his bail, I will find some person who will."

"Esther!" The offended husband fixed a look of stern rebuke upon his
wife; but her large eyes looked steadily into his, and he saw in
them, not rebellion, or anger--but a spirit that his own heart told
him instinctively, it would be folly for him to oppose. That look
determined his action.

"I'll go with you," said he, after pausing a few moments, turning to
the officer as he spoke.

The charge brought against Andrew by the watchman, was an intention
to set fire to the buildings in which he found him. Several
unfinished houses had been burned of late, and there was some
excitement in the public mind thereat. Had it not been for this,
Andrew might have made his way into the building where he intended
to sleep, without, in all probability, attracting attention.
Unfortunately for him, a few matches were found in one of his
pockets. This fact, added to his attempt to escape, and the rather
exaggerated statement of the watchman, caused the Mayor to look upon
the case as one that ought to go before the Court. He accordingly
decided to require an appearance, under bail.

Not a word was spoken to Andrew by his stern father, on the arrival
of the latter at the Mayor's office. Mr. Howland looked at the
evidence which went to support the charge of intended incendiarism
against his son, and to his mind, prejudiced as it was against that
son, the evidence was conclusive. In fact, the watchman's eyes had
seen rather more, than in reality, was to be seen, and his testimony
was strongly colored.

The required security given, Mr. Howland, without turning toward his
son, or speaking to him, left the office.

"You can go home, young man," said the Mayor, addressing Andrew.

"Oh, sir!" exclaimed the unhappy boy, in a distressed tone--"I am
not guilty of this thing. Father turned me from the door because I
was not at home at ten o'clock, and I had no place to sleep."

"Disobedience to parents ever brings trouble," replied the Mayor, in
a voice of admonition. "Go home, and try to behave better in future.
If innocent, you will no doubt be able to make it so appear when
your trial comes on before the Court."

Slowly the lad arose, and with a troubled and downcast look, retired
from the office.

"Where is Andrew?" eagerly asked the mother, as Mr. Howland entered
the house, after returning from the errand upon which he had gone.

"I left him at the Mayor's office," was coldly replied.

"Did you go his bail?"


"Why didn't he come home with you?"

"I didn't ask him."


Mr. Howland started at the tone of voice with which his name was
pronounced. Again there was an expression in the eyes of his wife
that subdued him.

"I gave bail for his appearance at Court, and then came away. He
will, no doubt, be home in a few minutes," he replied. "But I do not
wish to hold any intercourse with him; for he has disgraced both
himself and me."

"Is he not your son?" asked the mother, solemnly.

"He is not a son worthy of affection and regard."

"Andrew! when the sons of men wandered far away from God, and broke
all his laws, did He turn from them as you have turned from this
erring boy? No! All day long He stretched forth His hands to them,
and said, in a voice full of infinite kindness, 'Return unto Me; why
will you die?' It is not Godlike to be angry at those who sin
against us; but Godlike to draw them back with cords of love from
error. Oh, Andrew! you have wronged this boy!"

"Esther! I will not hear the utterance of such language from any
one!" exclaimed Mr. Howland, whose imperious nature could ill brook
an accusation like this.

"I have uttered only what I believe to be true," answered the wife,
in a milder tone, yet with a firmness that showed her spirit to be
unsubdued. No further words passed between them. Half an hour
afterward, up to which time Andrew had not come home, Mr. Howland
left the house and went to his place of business.

Time passed on until nearly noon, and yet Andrew was still away.
Mrs. Howland, whose mind was in a state of strong excitement, could
bear her suspense and fear no longer, and she resolved to go out and
seek for her wandering son. She had dressed herself, and was just
taking up her bonnet, as the door of her room opened, and Andrew
came in, looking pale and distressed. Across his forehead was a
deep, red mark, the scar left by the wound he received, when he fell
on the pavement, in the attempt to escape from the watchman.

"My son!" exclaimed Mrs. Howland, in a voice that thrilled the poor
boy's heart--for it was full of sympathy and tenderness--and then
she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.

Overcome by this reception, Andrew wept aloud. As soon as he could
speak, he said--

"Indeed, indeed, mother! I am innocent. You wouldn't let me in last
night, and I was going to sleep in the building, when the watchman
came and said I meant to set it on fire! I'm bad enough, mother, but
not so wicked as that! Why should I set a house on fire?"

"I didn't believe it for a moment, Andrew," replied Mrs. Howland.
"But, oh! isn't it dreadful?"

"I'm not to blame, mother," said the weeping boy. "I didn't mean to
stay out later than ten. But I was deceived in the time. I was a
good way off when the clock struck, and I ran home as fast as I
could. I'm sure it wasn't ten minutes after when I rang the bell.
But nobody would let me in; not even _you_, mother--and I thought so
hard of _that!_"

With what a pang did these last words go through the heart of Mrs.

"I wanted to let you in," replied the mother, "but your father said
that I must not do so."

"And so you left me to sleep in the streets," said the boy, with
much bitterness. "I couldn't have turned a dog off in that way!"

"Don't, don't speak so, Andrew! You will break my heart!" returned
the mother, sobbing, "I did open the door for you, but you were not

"I knocked and rung a good while."

"I know. But I had to wait until your father was asleep. Then I went
down, but it was too late."

"Yes--yes, it was too late," said Andrew, speaking now in a firmer
voice. "And it is too late now. I am to be tried as a felon, and it
may be, will be sent to the State Prison. Oh, dear!"

And he covered his face with his hands, and sobbed.

What little comfort she had to offer her unhappy child, was offered
by Mrs. Howland. But few rays of light came through the heavy clouds
that enveloped both of their hearts.

At dinner time, Andrew declined meeting his father at the table.

"Go and tell him," said the unyielding man, when the servant, who
had been sent to his room to call him to dinner, came back and said
that he did not wish to come down, "that he cannot have a mouthful
to eat unless he comes to the table."

"No, no, Andrew--don't say that!" quickly spoke Mrs. Howland.

"I do say it, and I mean it," replied Mr. Howland, fixing his eyes
rebukingly upon his wife.

Mrs. Howland answered nothing. But her purpose to stand between her
unrelenting husband and wandering son, was none the less fixed; and
in her countenance Mr. Howland read this distinctly. Accordingly, so
soon as the latter had left the house, she took food to Andrew, who
still remained in his room, at the same time that she expressed to
him her earnest wish that he would meet the family at the tea-table
in the evening.

"I don't want to meet father," he replied to this. "He will only
frown upon me."

"He is, of course, very much fretted at this occurrence," said the
mother. "And you cannot much wonder at it, Andrew."

"He is more to blame than I am," was answered in an indignant tone.

"Don't speak of your father in that way, my son," said the mother, a
gentle reproof in her voice.

"I speak as I feel, mother. Is it not so?"

An argument on this subject Mrs. Howland would not hold with her
boy, and she therefore changed it; but she did not cease her appeals
to both his reason and his feelings, until he yielded to her wishes.
At supper time he joined the family at table--it was his first
meeting with his father since morning. Oh, what an intense desire
did he feel for a kind reception from his stern parent! It seemed to
him that such a reception would soften everything harsh and
rebellious, and cause him to throw himself at his feet, and make the
humblest confessions of error, and the most truthful promise of
future well doing. Alas! for the repentant boy! no such reception
awaited him. His father did not so much as turn his eyes upon his
son, and, during the meal, maintained a frigid silence. Andrew ate
but a few mouthfuls. He had no appetite for food. On leaving the
table, he went into one of the parlors, whither he was followed in a
little while, by his younger brother, Edward, who was, by nature,
almost as hard and unsympathsizing as his father. It was the first
time, on that day, that the two boys had been alone.

"Set a house on fire!" said Edward, in a half-sneering,
half-censorious, tantalizing voice.

"If you say that again, I'll knock you down!" fell sharply from the
lips of Andrew, in whom his father's repulsive coldness was
beginning to awaken bad feelings.

"Set a house on fire!" repeated Edward, in a tone still more

The words had scarcely left his tongue, ere the open hand of his
brother came along side of his head, with a force that knocked him
across the room. At this instant Mr. Howland entered. He made no
inquiry as to the cause of the blow he saw struck, but took it for
granted that it was an unprovoked assault of Andrew upon his
brother. Yielding to the impulse of the moment, he caught the former
by the arm, in a fierce grip, and struck him with his open hand, as
he had struck his brother, repeating the blow three or four times.

Andrew neither shrunk from the blows, cried out, nor offered the
smallest resistance, but stood firmly, until his incensed father had
satisfied his outraged feelings.

"You forgot, I suppose, that I could strike also?" said the latter
angrily, when he released his son from the tight grasp, with which
he held him.

"No sir," replied Andrew, with a calmness that surprized, yet still
more incensed his father; "I thought nothing about it. I punished
Edward as he deserved; and if he says to me what he did just now,
will repeat the punishment, if it cost me my life."

"Silence!" cried Mr. Howland.

"I said nothing but the truth," spoke up Edward.

"What did you say?" inquired the father.

"I told him that he'd set a house on fire."

"And lied when he said it," calmly and deliberately spoke Andrew.

"Silence! I'll have no such language in my presence!" angrily
retorted Mr. Howland.

"It is bad enough to be accused falsely by a lying policeman," said
Andrew, "but to have the charge repeated by my own brother is more
than I can or will bear. And I warn Edward, in your presence, not to
try the experiment again. If he does he will not escape so lightly."

"Silence, I say!"

Andrew remained silent.

"Edward, leave the room," said Mr. Howland. There was little
sternness in his voice, as he thus spoke to his favorite boy.

The lad retired. For several minutes Mr. Howland walked the floor,
and Andrew who had seated himself, waited in a calm, defiant spirit,
for him to renew the interview. It was at length done in these

"What do you expect is to become of you, sir?"

Not feeling inclined to answer such an interrogation, Andrew
continued silent.

"Say!" repeated the father, "what do you think is to become of you?"

Still the boy answered not a word.

"Under bail to answer for a crime--"

"Which I never committed--nor designed to commit!" spoke up Andrew,
quickly interrupting his father, and fixing his eyes upon, him with
an unflinching gaze.

"It is easy to make a denial. But the evidence against you is

"The evidence against me is a positive lie!" was Andrew's indignant

"I won't be talked to in this way!" said Mr. Howland, in an offended
tone. "No son of mine shall insult me!"

"A strange insult to a father, for a son to declare himself innocent
of a crime falsely laid to his charge," replied Andrew, with a
strong rebuke in his voice. "A true father would be glad--"

"Silence!" again fell harshly from the lips of Mr. Howland.
"Silence, I say; I will hear no such language from a son of mine!"

Without a word, Andrew arose, and, retiring from the room, took up
his hat and left the house--the relation between him and his father
by no means in a better position than it was before. Within a few
minutes of ten o'clock the boy returned, and, being admitted, went
up to his room without joining the family.

On the next morning, one or two of the daily papers contained an
account of Andrew's arrest, with his father's name and all the
particulars of the transaction. Any one reading this account, with
the reporter's comment, could not help but believe that Andrew was a
desperate bad boy, and undoubtedly guilty in design of incendiarism.

"See what a disgrace you have brought upon us!" exclaimed Mr.
Howland, flinging a paper, containing this mortifying intelligence
in the face of his son.

The boy took up the paper, and read the paragraph referred to with a
burning cheek. He made no remark, but sat for some time in a state
of profound abstraction. No one guessed the thoughts that were
passing through his mind, nor the utter hopelessness that was lying,
with a heavy weight, upon his spirit. Before him was the image of
Emily. She had seen him with his blood-disfigured face, in the hands
of the watchman; and now she would see this slanderous story, and
what was worse, believe it!

Some two hours subsequently, while walking along the street, Andrew
perceived Emily, within a few paces of him. He looked her steadily
in the face, and saw that she saw him; for a quick flush overspread
her countenance. But, averting her eyes, she passed him without a
further sign of recognition.

At night-fall, the boy did not return to his home.

Anxiously did the time pass with Mrs. Howland until ten o'clock, and
yet he was away. Eleven--twelve--one o'clock, pealed on the ear of
the watching mother, but he came not. It was all in vain that her
husband remonstrated with her. His words passed her unheeded; and
she remained waiting and watching, until near the hour of morning,
but her waiting and watching were all in vain.

Two days passed--yet there came no tidings of the absent boy. On the
third day, Mrs. Howland received the following letter:--

"MY DEAR MOTHER:--I have left my home--forever! What is to become of
me, I do not know. But I can remain with you no longer. Father
treats me like a dog--or worse than a dog; and he has never treated
me much better. I have tried to do right a great many times; but it
was of no use. The harder I tried to do right, the more he found
fault with me. He was always blaming me for something I didn't do.
It is all a lie of the watchman's about my setting the house on
fire. Such a thing never entered my mind. Father (sic) would't let
me in, and I had to sleep somewhere. He wouldn't speak a word for me
in the Mayor's office. So it's all his fault that I am to be tried
before the Court. But I'm not going to be sent to the Penitentiary.
Father is my bail for a thousand dollars. I shall be sorry if he has
to pay it; but it will be better for him to do that, than for me to
go to the Penitentiary for nothing. So, good-by, mother, I love you!
You have always been good to me. If father had been as good, I would
have been a better boy. Don't grieve about me. It's better that I
should leave home. You'll all be happier. If I ever return to you, I
will be different from what I am now. Farewell mother! Don't forget
me. I will never forget you. Don't grieve about me. The thought of
that troubles me the most. But it is better for me to go away,
mother--better for us all. Farewell.



A YEAR elapsed before any tidings of the wanderer came. Then Mrs.
Howland received a few lines from him, dated in a Southern city,
where he spoke of having just arrived from South America. He had
little to say of himself, beyond that he was well; and did not speak
of visiting home.

After reading this letter, Mrs. Howland placed it in the hands of
her husband, who read it also, and then gave it back without a
remark. He checked an involuntary sigh as he did so. Not the
slightest reference was made to him by his son; a fact that he did
not overlook, and that he did not observe without a sense of
disappointment. The long absence of his wayward boy had softened his
feelings toward him; and with pain he remembered many acts of
harshness that now seemed to have in them too much of the element of
severity. At the term of the Court, which was held soon after Andrew
went away, the Grand Jury failed to obtain sufficient evidence to
justify the finding of a bill against him, and released the security
given for his appearance at Court. This fact, with a previous
questioning of the policeman by whom Andrew had been arrested,
satisfied Mr. Howland that the boy had been unjustly suspected of an
intention to commit a crime. But this conviction had come too late.
The effects of that unjust accusation had already fallen in sad
consequences upon the head of the poor boy; and the father could not
force from his mind the painful conviction that he was, mainly,
responsible for these consequences.

Another year went by, but during all the time, no further tidings
came of Andrew. To his first letter, Mrs. Howland had immediately
replied, urging him, by every tender consideration, to return to his
home. But she had no means of knowing whether it had ever been
received. Upon her the effect of his absence had been, for a time,
of the most serious character. For a few weeks after he went away,
both body and mind were prostrated; to this succeeded a state of
mental depression, which continued so long that her friends began to
fear for her reason. Not until after the lapse of a year, when she
received the above-mentioned letter from her son, did her mind
attain to anything like its former state. The knowledge that he was
yet, alive, that he thought of her, and still cherished her memory,
gave a new impulse to her fainting spirit, and a quicker motion to
the circle of life. There was yet room to hope for him. But, as time
went on, there came not back even a faint echo to the voice she had
sent after him, her heart failed her again. Yet time, which imparts
strength to all in trouble, had done its work for her also. The care
and labor that ever attend the mother's position among her children,
had bent her thoughts so much away from Andrew, that, while his
absence left a constant weight upon her feelings, it did not crush
them down as before, into a waveless depression.

The second year of Andrew's absence came to a close; but nothing
further was heard from him. And it was the same with the third,
fourth, and fifth years. In the meantime, there had been many
changes in Mr. Howland's family. Mary had married against her
father's wishes, and both herself and husband had been so unkindly
treated by him on the occasion and afterward, that neither of them
visited at his house.

Henry Markland, the husband of Mary, had been rather a gay young
man, and this, with some other things which had come to his ears,
created a prejudice in the mind of Mr. Howland against him. As to
what was good in Markland, and likely to overbalance defects, he did
not inquire. The hue of his prejudice colored everything. Men like
Mr. Howland, who seek to bend everything into forms suited to their
own narrow range of ideas, are rarely successful in attaining their
ends. The principle of freedom is too deeply interwoven with all the
tissues of the human mind to admit of this. From. earliest infancy
there is a reaction against arbitrary power; and, those who are
wise, have long since discovered that it is a much easier task to
lead than force the young into right ways. Those who would truly
govern children, must first learn to govern themselves. Let a parent
break his own imperious will before he tries to break the will of
his child; and he will be far more successful in the work he essays.
to perform. But not so had Mr. Howland learned his duty in life.
Without being, aware of the fact, he was a domestic tyrant, and
sought to establish a family despotism. And the worst of the whole
was, he did nearly all this work in the name of religion! Not that
he was a hypocrite. No; Mr. Howland was sincere in his professions
of piety. But he was a narrow-minded man, and did much in the name
of religion, that in no way harmonized with its true character. His
faith was a blind faith, and he sacrificed to the god of his
imagination in the unyielding spirit of a dehumanizing superstition.
Of necessity, he marred everything upon which he sought to impress
the form of his own mind.

Erroneous judgment of others is almost certain to mark the
conclusions of such a man's mind; and it is no wonder that Mr.
Howland erred in his conclusions respecting the true character of
his daughter's husband, who had in him many good qualities, and was
sincerely attached to Mary. The great defect appertaining to him,
was the fact that he was not a church member. Mr. Howland did not
look past the veil of a profession, to see if there was in the
ground work of the young man's character a basis of right
principles--the only true foundation upon which a religious
structure can be built. Because he did not belong to the church, and
make an open profession, he classed him with the irreligious, and
considered him as one whose feet were moving swiftly along the road
to destruction.

And so, instead of wisely seeking to win the confidence of the young
man, that he might gain an influence over him for good, Mr. Howland,
offended because his daughter could not obey him in a matter so
vital to her happiness, angrily repulsed and insulted both of them,
even after he saw that a marriage was inevitable. The consequence
was, as has been mentioned, that Markland, who possessed an
independent spirit, would not go to the house of his father-in-law;
and Mary, resenting the wanton attacks that had been made upon her
husband's feelings in more than one or two instances, absented
herself also. Mr. Howland, however much he might regret the hardness
of his unavailing opposition, was not the man to yield anything; and
so the breach remained open, in spite of all the grieving mother's
efforts to heal it.

Of all his children, Mr. Howland saw most to hope for in Edward, who
early perceived it to be his best policy to humor his father, and,
by that means, gain the ends he had in view. Cold in his
temperament, he was generally able to control himself in a way to
deceive his father as to the real motives that were in his heart.
Thus, while Mr. Howland, by his peculiar treatment of his children,
drove some of them off, he made this one a hypocrite.

Not the smallest affection existed between Edward and the other
children, who knew too well the selfish and evil qualities that lay
concealed beneath an external of propriety, put on especially for
his father's eyes. The mother, too, saw beneath the false exterior
assumed by her son, who treated her, except when his father was
present, with little respect or affection.

Martha, the youngest, was a sweet tempered girl, who had managed to
keep, as a general thing, beyond the sphere of antagonism that
marked the intercourse of the other children. To her mother, as she
grew up, she proved a source of comfort; and she could, at almost
any time, dispel by her smiles the cloud that too often rested on
the brow of her morose father.

On reaching his seventeenth year, Edward had been placed in a store
by his father, for the purpose of acquiring knowledge of mercantile
affairs. A young man in this position, if he has any ambition to
make his way in the world, soon gets his mind pretty well filled
with money-making ideas, and sees the way to wealth opening in a
broad vista before him. Every day he hears about this, that, and the
other one, who started in business but a few years before, with
little or no capital, and who are now worth their tens of thousands;
and he thus learns to aspire after wealth, without being made to
feel sensibly the fact, that the number who grow rich rapidly are as
one to a hundred compared with those who succeed as the result of
small beginnings united with long continued and untiring
application. Long before Edward reached his twenty-first year, he
had so fully imbibed the spirit of the atmosphere in which he
breathed, that his mind was made up to go into business for himself
as soon as he attained his majority. This idea Mr. Howland sought to
discourage in his son; but Edward never gave it up. Soon after he
was twenty-one, an offer to go into a business, that promised a
large return was made, provided a few thousand dollars capital could
be furnished. Not a moment did Edward rest until he had prevailed
upon his father, ever too ready to yield a weak compliance to the
wishes of this son, to place in his hands the amount of money
required. To do this, was, at the time, no easy matter for Mr.
Howland, whose own business was far from being as good as usual and
whose pecuniary affairs were not in the most easy condition. Six
thousand dollars was the amount of capital he was obliged to raise,
and it was not accomplished without considerable sacrifice.

Edward and his partner were what are usually called "enterprising
young men," and they drove ahead in the business they had undertaken
at a kind of railroad speed, calculating their profits at an
exceedingly high range. It is not surprising that, by the end of the
first year, they required a little more capital to help them through
with their engagements, the furnishing of which fell upon Mr.
Howland; who, in this emergency, passed his notes to the new firm
for several (sic) thonsand dollars.

It is not our purpose to trace, step by step, the progress of this
young man in the work of ruining his father and disgracing himself
by dishonest practices in business. Enough, that in the course of
three years, the "enterprising young men," who made from the
beginning such rapid strides toward fortune, found their course
suddenly checked, and themselves involved in hopeless bankruptcy.
But, with themselves rested not the evil consequences of failure;
others were included in the disaster, and among them Mr. Howland,
who was so badly crippled as to be obliged to call his creditors
together, and solicit a reduction and extension of the claims they
had against him. To Mr. Howland, this was a crushing blow. He was
not only a man who strictly regarded honesty in his dealings, but he
was proud of his honesty, and in his pride, had often been harsh in
his judgment of others when in circumstances similar to those in
which he was now placed. To be forced to ask of his creditors both a
reduction and an extension, humiliated him to a degree, that for a
time, almost deprived him of the power of doing business. From that
time, there was a perceptible change in the man of iron. His tall,
erect form seemed to shrink downward; his head bent toward his
bosom, and the harsh lines on his brow and around his less tightly
closed lips grew softer. His indignation against Edward was so
great, when he finally comprehended the character of the
transactions in which he had been engaged, involving as they did a
total absence of integrity, that he turned his back upon him
angrily, saying, as he did so--

"Never come into my presence again, until you come an honest man!"

On the day after this utterance of the father's indignant feelings,
Edward left the city; and it was the opinion of many that he went
with a pocket full of money. They were not far wrong.

Thus, of all his children, only the youngest remained with Mr.
Howland. All the rest were estranged from him; and in spite of all
his efforts to push the conviction from his mind, he could not help
feeling that he was to blame for the estrangement.


NEARLY eight years from the time Andrew Howland left his home have
passed, and we now bring him before the reader as a discharged
United States' dragoon, having just concluded a five years' service
in the far West. He had enlisted, rather than steal, at a time when
he found it impossible to obtain employment, and had gone through
the hard and humiliating service of a trooper on our extreme
frontier, under an assumed name, omitting to write home during the
entire period, lest by any chance a knowledge of his position might
be communicated to his mother, and (her memory had never faded) to
Emily Winters. The images of these two, the only ones he loved in
the world, were green in his bosom. They were drawing him homeward
with a force of attraction that grew stronger and stronger as the
end of his service approached. Nearly three years had elapsed since
he had met any one recently from the East who was able to answer,
satisfactorily, the few inquiries he ventured to make; and now he
was all impatience to return.

Steadily, for a long time, had the young man looked forward to this
period; and in order to have the means of effecting a thorough
change in his external appearance, and to be able to support himself
after his return East, until he obtained some kind of employment, he
had left nearly all his pay in the hands of the disbursing officer.
It now amounted to nearly two hundred dollars.

It was in Santa Fe that Andrew obtained his discharge from the
United States' service. This was soon after the conclusion of the
peace with Mexico, and about the time when the first exciting news
came of golden discoveries on the tributaries of the Sacramento.

On the day after Andrew received his discharge, and while making
preparations for his journey eastward, a company, in which were
several new recruits arrived from the Wachita. Among them he
discovered a young man from P--, to whom he put the direct

"Do you know a Mr. Howland of your city?"

"Andrew Howland, the merchant?" inquired the young man, who was not
over twenty-one years of age.

"Yes," returned Andrew, in a tone of affected indifference.

"His store is in the same block with my father's."

"Indeed! What is your father's name?"

The young man's eyes fell to the ground, and his face became
overspread with crimson.

"Winters," he replied, at length recovering himself.

Andrew turned partly away to conceal the sudden emotion this
intelligence had created. Mastering his feelings with a vigorous
effort, he lifted his eyes to the countenance of the young man and
at once recognized in him the brother of Emily. Restraining the
eagerness he felt to press many questions, Andrew asked him about
his journey from the last military post, and after getting a number
of answers to which he scarcely listened, said--

"How long is it since you left P--?"

"About six months," replied young Winters.

"Do your friends know where you are?"

"No, indeed! Nor would I have them. So, please bear that in mind. I
answered your question almost on the spur of the moment."

"Do you know anything about Mr. Howland or his family?" asked
Andrew, without seeming to notice the young man's remark.

"Nothing very particular; only that the old gentleman failed in
business about a year ago."

"Ah! How came that?"

"His son Edward broke him up."

"His son Edward?"

"Yes. The old man set him a going in business; but he soon run
himself under, and his father into the bargain. He made a terrible
bad failure of it."


"Edward Howland. He went off soon after, and they do say, carried
his pockets full of money. And I imagine there is some truth in it.
He wasn't exactly the clear grit. Some people called him a
smooth-faced hypocrite, and I guess they were not very far wrong."

Andrew asked no more questions for some time, but sat, thoughtful,
with his face so far turned away from the young man, that its
expression could not be seen.

"Mrs. Howland is living, I presume?" said he, at length, in a tone
as indifferent as he could assume; but which was, nevertheless,

"Yes. She was living when I came away."

Andrew drew a quick breath, and then his laboring chest found relief
in a long expiration.

"Poor old man! I'm sorry for him," came from his lips in a few
moments afterwards. The tone was half indifferent, yet expressed
some sympathy.

"Everybody seems sorry for him," said Winters. "It has broken him
down very much. He looks ten years older."

"Is he entirely out of business?" asked Andrew.

"No; he is still going on; but he doesn't appear to do much. I think
the family is poor. They've sold their handsome house, and are
living in a much smaller one. I heard father say that Mr. Howland
had received an extension from his creditors, but that he was too
much crippled to be able to go through, and would, in the end, break
down entirely."

There was another pause, and then Andrew changed the subject by
asking the young man something about himself, and led on the
conversation, from step to step, until he got him to mention the
fact that he had a sister named Emily.

"Is she older than yourself?" inquired Andrew.

"Oh, yes. Some four years older," was replied.

"Married, of course," said Andrew.

The very effort he made to say this with seeming unconcern gave so
unnatural an expression to his tone of voice, that young Winters
looked at him with momentary surprise.

"No, she is not married," he answered.

"She's old enough," said Andrew, speaking now in a tone of more real

"Yes; but she'll probably die an old maid. She's had two or three
good offers; but no one appears just to suit her fancy. Father was
very angry about her rejecting a young man some two or three years
ago, who afterwards disgraced himself, and broke the heart of a
young creature who had been weak enough to marry him."

"Then I should say that your sister was a sensible girl," remarked
Andrew, in a cheerful voice.

"Yes, she is a sensible girl; and, what is more, a good girl. Ah,
me! I wish I were half as sensible and half as good."

With what a free motion did the heart of Andrew beat after receiving
this intelligence!

"Is Mary Howland married?" he asked. He knew that she was, for he
had seen the fact noticed in a newspaper.

"Yes; she married a Mr. Markland."

"Who is he?"

"I don't know much about, him. He's a teller in one of the banks."

"How did the family like her marriage?"

"Not at all. They don't visit."

"Indeed! Why?"

"Dear knows! Old Mr. Howland is a hard sort of a man when he takes
up a prejudice against any one. He didn't like Markland, and said
that Mary shouldn't marry him. She felt differently, and did marry
him. The consequence was, that the old man said and did so much that
was offensive, that he and Markland have had no intercourse since."

"Mary comes home, I suppose?"

"I rather think not. I believe that she and her father have not
spoken in two years. At least, so I heard sister once say."

"That is bad! Poor man! He is unfortunate with his children."

Andrew, as he spoke, felt that he was unfortunate, and an emotion of
pity stirred along the surface of his feelings.

"Indeed he is!" said Winters, who was disposed to be communicative.
"But I presume it is a good deal his own fault. They say that his
harsh treatment drove his oldest son from home."


"Yes. He was a wild sort of a boy, and his father didn't show him
any mercy. The consequence was, that instead of leading him into the
right way, he drove him into the wrong way. He ran off from home a
great while ago, and has never been heard from since. It is thought
that he is dead. I once heard father say that, with all his faults,
he was the best of the bunch."

Something interrupted the conversation of the two young men at this
point, and they separated. A couple of hours afterward, as Andrew
walked along one of the streets of Santa Fe, musing over the
intelligence he had gleaned from young Winters, a fellow soldier,
whose time of service had also just expired, met him, and said--

"You're not going back to the States, are you?"

"Such has been my intention," replied Andrew.

"I'm not going."

"I thought you were."

"I've altered my mind. A party sets off to-morrow for the gold
regions of California, and I'm going with them."

"Indeed! That's a sudden change of resolution. But you don't believe
all the stories you hear of this El Dorado?

"No, not all of them. But if even the half be true, there's a golden
harvest to be reaped by all who put in the sickle."

"Yes, the half is encouraging enough," said Andrew, in a tone of
abstraction. The fact is, since he had heard from home, his desire
to return immediately was lessened. News of his father's altered
circumstances had softened his feelings toward him very much, and
created a strong desire to aid him in the extremity to which he had
been reduced. But he had no ability to do this. All he possessed in
the world was about two hundred dollars, and it would take at least
half of this to pay his passage home. Already had his thoughts been
reaching Westward, as the only point where, by any possibility, he
could better his fortunes to an extent that would enable him to help
his father. But there was so much of apparent romance in the stories
that reached his ears, that he had many strong doubts as to even the
main facts reported.

"You'd better join us," remarked the comrade.

"How many are going?" inquired Andrew.

"Seven. And we'd very much like to add you to the number."

"I'm really half-inclined to go with you," said Andrew, speaking
with a good deal of animation in his voice.

"You'll never regret it," said the other. "Not only are the stories
about an abundance of gold authentic, but I have good reasons for
believing that the half has not been told. I talked with a man last
night, who says that he knew of several instances where lumps of the
precious metal, weighing several pounds, have been picked up. One
man collected ten thousand dollars worth of lumps of pure gold in a

"That's a large story," replied Andrew, smiling.

"Perhaps so; but it is not all a fabrication. At any rate, I am off
to this region, and my advice to you is, to join our little party."

"When do you start?

"To-morrow morning."

"I'll think about it," said Andrew Howland.

"You must think quickly," was answered. "There is no time to spare.
It is but two hours to nightfall; and we are to be in the saddle by
sunrise. So, if you conclude to join our party you have but small
space left for preparation."

Andrew stood with his eyes upon the ground for nearly a minute; then
looking up, he said, in a firm voice--

"I will go."

"And, my word for it, you'll never repent the decision. Gathering up
lumps of gold by the peck is a quicker way to fortune than
dragooning it at five dollars a month--ha?"

"My anticipations lie within a much narrower circle than yours," was
quietly answered to this; "but one thing is certain, if gold is to
be had in California for the mere digging, you may depend on Andrew
Howland getting his share of the treasure."

"That's the spirit, my boy!" said the other, clapping him on the
shoulder--"the very spirit of every member of our little party. And
if we don't line our pockets with the precious stuff, it will be
because none is to be found."

On the next morning, Andrew Howland started on his long and perilous
journey for the region of gold, with a new impulse in his heart, and
a hope in the future, such as, up to this time, he had never known.
But it was not a mere selfish love of gold that was influencing him.
He was acted on by a nobler feeling.


FROM the shock of his son's failure, Mr. Howland did not recover. In
arranging with his own creditors, he had arranged to do too much,
and consequently his reduced business went on under pressure of
serious embarrassment. He had sold his house, and two other pieces
of property, and was living at a very moderate expense; but all this
did not avail, and he saw the steady approaches of total ruin.

One day, at a time when this conviction was pressing most heavily
upon him, one of the creditors of Edward, who had lost a good deal
by the young man, came into the store, and asked if he had heard
lately from his son.

Mr. Howland replied he had not.

"He's in Mobile, I understand?" said the gentleman.

"I believe he is," returned Mr. Howland.

"A correspondent of mine writes that he is in business there, and
seems to have plenty of money."

"It is only seeming, I presume," remarked Mr. Howland.

"He says that he has purchased a handsome piece of property there."

"It cannot be possible!" was ejaculated.

"I presume that my information is true. Now, my reason for
communicating this fact to you is, that you may write to him, and
demand, if he have money to invest, that he refund to you a portion
of what you have paid for him, and thus save you from the greater
difficulties that I too plainly see gathering around you, and out of
which I do not think it is possible for you to come unaided."

"No, sir," was the reply of Mr. Howland, as he slowly shook his
head. "If he have money, it is ill-gotten, and I cannot share it. He
owes you, write to him, and demand a payment of the debt."

"I am willing to yield my right in your favor, Mr. Howland. In your
present extremity, you can make an appeal that it will be impossible
for him to withstand. He may not dream of the position in which you
are placed; and it is due to him that you inform him thereof. It
will give him an opportunity to act above an evil and selfish
spirit, and this action may be in him the beginning of a better

But the father shook his head again.

"Mr. Howland," said the other "you owe it to your son to put it in
his power to act from a better principle than the one that now
appears to govern him. Let him know of your great extremity, and he
may compel himself to act against the selfish cupidities by which he
is too plainly governed. Such action, done in violence of evil
affections, may be to him the beginning of a better life. All things
originate in small beginnings. There must first be a point of influx
for good, as well as for bad principles. Sow this seed in your son's
mind, and it may germinate, and grow into a plant of honesty."

Mr. Howland heaved a deep sigh, as he answered--

"This is presenting the subject in a new light; I will think about

"May you think about it to good purpose," replied the friend,

This communication disturbed Mr. Howland greatly. He had too many
good reasons for doubting his son's integrity of character; but he
was not prepared to hear of such deliberate and cruel dishonesty as
this. It was but another name for robbery--a robbery, even to the
ruin of his own father.

"I will demand restitution!" said the old man, impatiently, as his
mind dwelt longer and longer on the subject, and his feelings grew
more and more indignant. From the thought of any appeal on the
ground of humanity, he revolted. It was something entirely out of
keeping with his peculiar character. He could not bend to this.

So Mr. Howland wrote a pretty strong letter to his son, in which he
set forth in terse language the facts he had heard, and demanded as
a right, that restitution be at once made.

Weeks passed and no answer to this demand was received. In the
meantime, another crisis in the affairs of Mr. Howland was rapidly
approaching. Unless aid were received from some quarter, he must
sink utterly prostrate under the pressure that was upon him, and
again fail to meet the honorable engagements that he had made. When
that crisis came, he would fall to rise no more.

Ten days only remained, and then there would come a succession of
payments, amounting in all to over five thousand dollars. To meet
these payments unaided, would be impossible; and there was no one
now to aid the reduced and sinking merchant. There was not a friend
to whom he could go for aid so substantial as was now required, for
most of his business friends had already suffered to some extent by
his failure, and were not in the least inclined to risk anything
farther on one whose position was known to be extremely doubtful.

The nearer this second crisis came, and the more distinctly Mr.
Howland was able to see its painful features, the more did his heart
shrink from encountering a disaster that would involve all his
worldly affairs in hopeless ruin.

In this strait, the mind of Mr. Howland kept turning, involuntarily,
toward his son Edward, as toward the only resource left him on the
earth; but ever as it turned thus, something in him revolted at the
idea, and he strove to push it from his thoughts. He could not do
this, however, for it was the straw on the surface of the waters in
which he felt himself sinking.

Painfully, and with a sense of deep humiliation, did Mr. Howland at
length bring himself up to the point of writing again to his son. As
everything depended on the effect of this second letter, he went
down into a still lower deep of humiliation, and after representing
in the most vivid colors the extremity to which he was reduced,
begged him, if a spark of humanity remained in his bosom, to send
him the aid he needed.

With a trembling hope did the father wait, day after day, for an
answer to this letter. Time passed on, and the ninth day since its
transmission came and yet there was no reply.

Nervously anxious was Mr. Howland on the morning of the tenth day,
for if no help came then, it was all over with him. His note for
fifteen hundred dollars fell due, and must be lifted ere the stroke
of three, or the end with him had come.

A few mouthfuls of food were taken at breakfast, and then Mr.
Howland hurried away to the Post Office, his heart fluttering with
fear and expectation. A few moments, and he would know his fate. As
he came in sight of the long row of boxes, his eyes glanced eagerly
toward the one in which his letters were filed up. There was
something in it. In a tone of forced composure, he called out the
number of his box, and received from the clerk two letters. He
glanced at the post-mark of one, and read--"New York," and at the
other, and saw--"Boston." For a moment or two his breath was
suspended, and his knees smote together. Then he moved away, slowly,
with such a pressure on his feelings that the weight was reproduced
on his physical system, and he walked with difficulty.

The letters were from business correspondents, and in no way
affected the position of extremity he occupied. For a greater part
of the morning Mr. Howland sat musing at his desk, in a kind of
dreamy abstraction. All effort was felt to be useless, and he made
none. At dinner time he went home, and sat at the table, silent and
gloomy; but he scarcely tasted food. After the meal, he returned to
his store--a faint hope springing up in his mind that Edward might
have submitted the aid he had asked for so humbly by private hand,
or through some broker in the city, and that it would yet arrive in
time to save him. Alas! this proved a vain hope. Three o'clock came,
and the unredeemed note still lay in bank.

"It is all over!" murmured the unhappy man, as like the strokes of a
hammer upon his heart fell the three distinct chimes that rung the
knell of his business life.

Taking up a newspaper, and affecting to read, Mr. Howland sat for
nearly an hour awaiting the notorial visit, which seemed long
delayed. At last he saw a man enter and come walking back toward the
desk at which he sat. Not doubting but that it was the Notary, he
was preparing to answer--"I can't take it, up," when a well-dressed
stranger, with a dark, sun-burnt, countenance that had in it many
familiar lines, passed before him, and fixed his eyes with an
earnest look upon his face. For a few moments the two men regarded
each other in silence, and then the stranger reached out his hand
and uttered the single word--


"Andrew!" responded Mr. Howland, catching eagerly hold of the
offered hand.; "Andrew! my son! my son! are you yet alive?"

The great deep of the old man's heart was suddenly broken up, and he
was overwhelmed by the rising floods of emotion. His lips quivered;
there was a convulsive play of all the muscles of his face; and then
large tears came slowly over his cheeks. The man of iron will was
melted down; he wept like a child, and his son wept with him.

Scarcely had the first strong emotions created by this meeting
exhausted themselves, when another person entered the store, and
advanced to where the father and son were standing. He held a small
slip of paper in his hand, and as he came up to Mr. Howland, he
said, holding up the piece of paper--

"Your note for fifteen hundred dollars remains unpaid."

"I'm sorry, but I can't lift it," replied Mr. Howland, in a low
voice that he wished not to reach the ear of his son; but Andrew
heard the answer distinctly, and instantly drawing a large pocket
book from his pocket, took out a roll of bank bills which he reached
to his father, saying, as he did so--

"Take what you want. How timely has been my arrival!"

"My heart blesses you, my son, for this generous tender of aid in a
great extremity," said Mr. Howland in a trembling voice, as he
pushed back the roll of money. "But a crisis in my affairs has just
arrived, and the lifting of this note will not save me."

"How much will save you?" asked Andrew.

"I must have five or six thousand dollars in as many days," replied
Mr. Howland.

"This package of money will serve you then, for it contains ten
thousand dollars," said Andrew. "Take it."

"I cannot rob you thus," returned Mr. Howland, in a broken voice, as
he still drew back.

"Let me have that note, my friend." Andrew now turned to the Notary,
who did not hesitate to exchange the merchant's promise to pay, for
three five hundred dollar bills of a solvent bank.

A brief but earnest and affectionate interview then took place
between Andrew and his father, which closed with a request from the
former that he might be permitted to see his mother alone, and spend
with her the few hours that remained until evening, before the
latter joined them.


IT is nine years since Mrs. Howland looked her last look on her
wayward, wandering boy, and eight years since any tidings came from
him to bless her yearning heart. She appears older by almost twenty
years, and moves about with a quiet drooping air, as if her heart
were releasing itself from its hold on earthly objects, and reaching
out its tendrils for a higher and surer support. With the exception
of Martha, the youngest, all her children have given her trouble.
Scarcely one of the sweet hopes cherished by her heart, when they
first lay in helpless innocence upon her bosom, have been realized.
Disappointment--disappointment--has come at almost every step of her
married life. The iron hand of her husband has crushed almost every
thing. Ah! how often and often, as she breathed the chilling air of
her own household, where all was constrained propriety, would her
heart go back to the sunny home in which were passed the happy days
of girlhood, and wish that something of the wisdom and gentleness
that marked her father's intercourse with his children could be
transferred to her uncompromising husband. But that was a vain wish.
The two men had been cast in far different moulds.

Martha, now in her eighteenth year, was more like her mother than
any of the children, and but for the light of her presence Mrs.
Howland could hardly have kept her head above the waters that were
rushing around her. Toward Martha the conduct of her father had,
from the first, been of a mild character compared with his action
toward the other children; and this received a still farther
modification, when it become apparent even to himself, that by his
hardness he had estranged the affections of his elder children, and
driven them away. Gentle and loving in all her actions, she
gradually won her way more and more deeply into the heart of her

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