Part 3 out of 11
"'What do you find the matter there, doctor?' Mr. Camper asked,
after I had finished my examination.
"'A very serious injury, sir, I am sorry to say,' was my reply.
"'Of what nature?' was his somewhat stern inquiry.
"'Her knee-pan is fractured, sir; but so much swollen, that I
cannot, now, fully ascertain the extent of the injury.'"
"Henry!" cried the old man in a quick, eager tone to an attendant,
"go again for doctor L--; and if he is not in, go for doctor
R--; and if you cannot find him, call on doctor T--, and ask him
to come instantly."
The attendant hurriedly departed, when Mr. Camper turned slowly
towards me, with a mingled expression of anger, pain, and contempt,
upon his face, and said, in a stern voice,
"'Go home young man! and quit drinking wine, or quit the profession!
You are in no fit state to undertake a case like this.'
"It came upon me like a peal of thunder from an unclouded summer
sky. It was the knell of newly-awakened hopes--the darkening of
newly-opening prospects. Silently I turned away under the cutting
rebuke, and left the house."
"Really, that was most unfortunate!" his friend Everett remarked,
with earnest sympathy.
"Could anything have been more unfortunate, or more mortifying. Her
case was one that I fully understood; and could have treated
successfully. It would have brought me into contact with the family
for six months, or more, and the _eclat_ which I should have derived
from the case, would have given me a prominence as a young surgeon,
that I am afraid the fact of my losing the case under such
mortifying circumstances, will prevent me ever attaining in this
"Really, Harvey, I do feel exceedingly pained at what you have told
me. Confound this wine! I believe it does more harm than good."
"Too free an indulgence of it does, no doubt. Our error has lain in
this. We must be more prudent in future."
"Suppose we swear off for ever from touching it."
"No, I will not do that. Wine is good in its place, and I shall
continue to use it, but more moderately. A physician never knows the
moment he may be called upon, and should, therefore, always be in a
state to exercise a clear head and a steady hand."
"Certainly, we have both of us had lessons not soon to be
forgotten," was the reply; and then the two young men separated.
Two weeks from the day this conversation took place, doctor Lane and
his friend James Everett met at a supper-party, where all kinds of
liquors were introduced, and every kind of inducement held out for
the company to drink freely. Both of the young men soon forgot their
resolutions to be guarded in respect to the use of wine. As the
first few glasses began to take effect, in an elevation of spirits,
each felt a kind of pride in the thought that he could bear as much
as any one there, and not show signs of intoxication.
By eleven o'clock, there was not one at the table who was not drunk
enough to be foolish. The rational and intelligent conversation that
had been introduced early in the evening, had long since given place
to the obscene jest--the vulgar story--or the bacchanalian song.
Gayest of the gay were our young men, who had already, one would
think, received sufficient lessons of prudence and temperance.
"Take care, James!" cried Lane, across the table to his friend
Everett, familiarly, late in the evening. "You are pouring the wine
on the table, instead of in your glass."
"You are beginning to see double," was Everett's reply, lifting his
head with a slight drunken air, and throwing a half-angry glance
upon his friend.
"That is more than you can do," was the retort, with a meaning toss
of the head.
"I don't understand you," Everett said, pausing with the decanter
still in his hand, and eyeing his friend, steadily.
"Don't you, indeed! You see yourself in a state of blessed
singleness--ha! Do you take?"
"Look here, James,--you are my friend. But there are things that I
will not allow even a friend to utter. So take care now!"
"Ha! ha! There comes the raw. Do I rub too hard, my boy?"
"You 're drunk, and a fool into the bargain!" was the angry retort
"Not so drunk as you were when you hugged and kissed Ernestine Lee!
How do you like--?"
Lane could not finish the sentence, before the decanter which
Everett had held in his hand glanced past his head with fearful
velocity, and was dashed into fragments against the wall behind him.
The instant interference of friends prevented any further acts of
It was about ten o'clock on the next morning that young doctor Lane
sat in his office, musing on the events of the previous night, of
which he had only a confused recollection, when a young man entered,
and presented a note. On opening it, he found it to be a challenge
"Leave me your card, and I will refer my friend to you," was his
reply, with a cold bow, as he finished reading the note. The card
was left, and the stranger, with a frigid bow in return, departed.
"Fool, fool that I have been!" ejaculated Lane, rising to his feet,
and pacing the floor of his office backwards and forwards with
hurried steps. This was continued for nearly half an hour, during
which time his countenance wore a painful and gloomy expression. At
last, pausing, and seating himself at a table, he murmured, as he
lifted a pen,
"It is too late now for vain regrets."
He then wrote a note with a hurried air, and dispatched it by an
attendant. This done, he again commenced pacing the floor of his
office, but now with slower steps, and a face expressive of sad
determination. In about twenty minutes a young man entered, saying,
as he did so--
"I'm here at a word, Harvey--and now what is this important business
which I can do for you, and for which you are going to be so
"That will tell you," Lane briefly said, handing him the challenge
he had received.
The young man's face turned pale as he read the note.
"Bless me, Harvey!" he ejaculated, as he threw the paper upon the
table. "This is a serious matter, truly! Why how have you managed to
offend Everett? I always thought that you were friends of the
"So we have been, until now. And at this moment, I have not an
unkind thought towards him, notwithstanding he threw a bottle of
wine at my head last night, which, had it taken effect, would have,
doubtless, killed me instantly."
"How in the world did that happen, doctor?"
"We were both flushed with wine, at the time. I said something that
I ought not to have said--something which had I been myself, I would
have cut off my right hand before I would have uttered--and it
roused him into instant passion."
"And not satisfied with throwing the bottle of wine at your head, he
now sends you a challenge?"
"Yes. And I must accept it, notwithstanding I have no angry feelings
against him; and, but for the hasty step he has now taken, would
have most willingly asked his pardon."
"That, of course, is out of the question now," the friend replied.
"But I will see his second; and endeavour, through him, to bring
about a reconciliation, if I can do so, honourably, to yourself."
"As to that," replied Lane, "I have nothing to say. If he insists
upon a meeting, I will give him the satisfaction he seeks."
It was about half an hour after, that the friend of Lane called upon
the friend of Everett. They were old acquaintances.
"You represent Everett, I believe, in this unpleasant affair between
him and doctor Lane," the latter said.
"I do," was the grave reply.
"Surely we can prevent a meeting!" the friend of Lane said, with
"I do not see how," was the reply.
"They were flushed with wine when the provocation occurred, and this
ought to prevent a fatal meeting. If Lane insulted Everett, it was
because he was not himself. Had he been perfectly sober, he would
never have uttered an offensive word."
"Perhaps not. But with that I have nothing to do. He has insulted my
friend, and that friend asks a meeting. He can do no less than grant
it--or prove himself a coward."
"I really cannot see the necessity that this should follow," urged
the other. "It seems to me, that it is in our power to prevent any
"By representing to the principals in this unhappy affair, the
madness of seeking each other's lives. You can learn from Everett
what kind of an apology, if any, will satisfy him, and then I can
ascertain whether such an apology will be made."
"You can do what you please in that way," the friend of Everett
replied. "But I am not disposed to transcend my office. Besides, I
know that, as far as Everett is concerned, no apology will be
accepted. The insult was outrageous, involving a breach of
confidence, and referring to a subject of the most painful,
mortifying, and delicate nature."
"I am really sorry to hear that both you and your friend are
determined to push this matter to an issue, for I had hoped that an
adjustment of the difficulty would be easy."
"No adjustment can possibly take place. Doctor Lane must fight, or
be posted as a coward, and a scoundrel."
"He holds himself ready to give Mr. Everett all the satisfaction he
requires," was the half-indignant reply.
"Then, of course, you are prepared to name the weapons; and the time
and place of meeting?"
"I am not. For so confident did I feel that it would only be
necessary to see you to have all difficulties put in a train for
adjustment, that I did not confer upon the subject of the
preliminaries of the meeting. But I will see you again, in the
course of an hour, when I shall be ready to name them."
"If you please." And then the seconds parted.
"I am afraid this meeting will take place in spite of all that I can
do," the friend of doctor Lane said, on returning after his
interview with Everett's second. "The provocation which you gave
last night is felt to be so great, that no apology can atone for
"My blood probably will,--and he can have that!" was the gloomy
A troubled silence ensued, which was at last broken by the question,
"Have you decided, doctor, upon the weapons to be used?"
"Pistols, I suppose," was the answer.
"Have you practised much?"
"Me! No. I don't know that I ever fired a pistol in my life."
"But Everett is said to be a good shot."
"So much the worse for me. That is all."
"You have the liberty of choosing some other weapon. One with which
you are familiar."
"I am familiar with no kind of deadly weapons."
"Then you will stand a poor chance, my friend; unless you name the
day of meeting next week, and practise a good deal in the meantime."
"I shall do no such thing. Do you suppose, that if I fight with
Everett, I shall try to kill him? No. I would not hurt a hair of his
head. I am no murderer!"
"Then you go out under the existence of a fatal inequality."
"I cannot help that. It is my misfortune. I did not send the
"That is no reason why you should not make an effort to preserve
your own life."
"If we both fire at once, and both of our balls take effect, the
fact that my ball strikes him will not benefit me any. And suppose
he should be killed, and I survive, do you think I could ever know a
single hour's happiness? No--no--I choose the least of two evils. I
must fight. But I will not kill."
"In this you are determined?"
"I certainly am. I have weighed the matter well, and come to a
"You choose pistols, then?"
"Yes. Let the weapons be pistols."
"When shall the meeting take place?"
"Let it be to-morrow morning, at sunrise. The quicker it is over,
This determined upon, the friend went again to the second of
Everett, and completed all necessary arrangements for the duel.
It was midnight, and young doctor Lane sat alone in his chamber,
beside a table, upon which were ink and paper. He had, evidently,
made several attempts to write; and each time failed from some cause
to accomplish his task. Several sheets of paper had been written
upon, and thrown aside. Each of these bore the following words:--
"_My Dear Parents:--_When these lines are read by you, the hand
that penned them will be cold and nerveless--"
Thus far the unhappy young man could go, but no farther. Imagination
pictured too vividly the heart-stricken father who had so often
looked down upon him when a boy with pride and pleasure, and the
tender, but now agonized mother, as that appalling announcement met
Again, for the fifth time, he took up his pen, murmuring in a low
tone, yet with a resolute air,
"It must be done!"
He had again written the words:--
"My Dear Parents--"
When his ear caught the sound of steps, strangely familiar to his
ear, ascending the stairs, and approaching his chamber. He paused,
and listened with a heart almost stilled in its pulsations. In a
brief space, the door of his room opened, and a grey-haired, feeble
old man came slowly in.
"My father!" exclaimed Harvey, starting to his feet in
astonishment--scarcely, for the moment, being able to realize
whether it were indeed his father, or, only an apparition.
"Thank heaven! that I have found my son alive--" ejaculated the old
man, uncovering his head, and lifting his eyes upward. "O, Harvey,
my child!" he then said, with an earnest pathos, that touched the
young man's heart--"how could you so far forget us as to think even
for a single moment of the dreadful act you are preparing to
"I had hoped to be spared this severest trial of all," the young man
said, rising and grasping the hand of his father, while the tears
sprang to his eyes. "What officious friend has taken the pains to
disturb both your peace and mine--dragging you thus away from your
home, in the vain effort to prevent an act that must take place."
"Speak not so rashly, my son! It cannot, it must not, it shall not
"I have no power to prevent it, father."
"You are a free agent."
"Not to do a deed of dishonour,--or, rather, I am not free to suffer
"There is no honour in wantonly risking or taking life, Harvey."
"I insulted a friend, in the grossest manner."
"_That_ was dishonourable. But why did you insult him?"
"I was _flushed with wine_."
The old man shook his head, sadly.
"I know it was wrong, father. But it can't be helped now. Well, as I
said; I insulted him, and he has demanded satisfaction. Can I do
less than give it to him?"
"If you insulted him, you can apologize. And, from what I know of
James Everett, he will at once forgive."
"I cannot do that now, father. He threw a bottle of wine at my head,
and then precipitately challenged me. I owe at least something to
"And something, I should think, to your mother, if not to me,"
replied the old man, bitterly. "How, think you she will receive the
news of your death, if the combat should terminate fatally for you?
Or, how, if your hands should become stained with the blood of your
"Talk not thus, father! Talk not thus!" ejaculated the young man,
rising up quickly, and beginning to pace the floor of his chamber
with hurried steps. "Is not my situation dreadful enough viewed in
any light? Then why seek to agonize my heart with what I would
gladly forget? I am already racked with tortures that can scarcely
be endured--why seek to run my cup of misery over?"
"I seek but to save you, my child," the father replied, in a voice
that suddenly became low and tremulous.
"It is a vain effort. There is but one course for me, and that is to
go on, and meet whatever consequences ensue. The result may not be
so bad as feared."
"Harvey!" old Mr. Lane said, in a voice that had somewhat regained
its steadiness of tone. "This meeting must not take place. If you
persist in going out tomorrow morning, I must take measures to
"And thus dishonour your son."
"All dishonour that will appertain to you, Harvey, appertains to you
now. You insulted your friend. Neither your death nor his can atone
for that offence. If reparation be truly made, it will come in some
"It is vain to urge that matter with me," was the reply to this. "I
must give James Everett the satisfaction he requires to-morrow
morning. And now, father, if I should fall, which heaven forbid for
others' sakes more than my own," and the young man's voice quivered,
"break the matter to my mother as gently as possible--tell her, that
my last thoughts were of her, and my last prayer that she might be
given strength from above to bear this heavy affliction."
It was a damp, drizzly morning, just at break of day, when Harvey
Lane, accompanied by his friend, and a young physician, entered a
close carriage, and started for the duelling-ground, which had been
selected, some four miles from the city. Two neat mahogany cases
were taken along, one containing a pair of duelling pistols, and the
other a set of surgical instruments. As these were handed in, the
eye of Lane rested upon them for a moment. They conjured up in his
mind no very pleasant thoughts. He was very pale, and silent. Nor
did his companions seem in much better condition, or much better
spirits. A rapid drive of nearly three quarters of an hour brought
them upon the ground. The other party had not yet arrived, but came
up in a few minutes afterwards. Then commenced the formal
preparations. The ground was measured off--ten paces. The seconds
prepared the deadly weapons which were to heal the honour that had
been so dreadfully wounded, and arranged all the minor provisions of
During all this time, neither of the young men looked towards each
other, but each paced rapidly over a little space of ground,
backwards and forwards, with agitated steps--though evidently with
an effort to seem composed.
"Ready," said Lane's second, at length, close to his ear.
The young man started, and his cheek blanched to a pale hue. He had
been thinking of his father and mother. With almost the vividness of
reality had he seen them before him, and heard their earnest;
tearful pleadings with him to forbear for their sakes, if not for
his own. But he took the deadly weapon in his hand mechanically, and
moved to the position that had been assigned him. The arrangement
was, that the seconds should give the words--one--two--three--in
slow succession, and that the parties should fire as soon after
"three" was uttered, as they chose.
Their positions taken, the young men's eyes met for the first
time--and for the first time they looked again upon each other's
faces. The word one had been given, at which each raised his
pistol,--_two_ was uttered--and then another individual was
suddenly, and unexpectedly added to the party, who threw himself in
front of Harvey Lane, in range of both the deadly weapons. Turning,
then, towards Everett, he said, lifting his hat, and letting his
thin grey hairs fall about his forehead--
"We cannot spare our son, yet, James! We are growing old, and he is
our only child. If he were taken thus away from us, we should not be
able to bear it. For our sakes, then, James, if he has injured you,
Already had the face of his old and long-tried friend, as he met its
familiar expression, softened in some degree the feelings of
Everett, and modified the angry vindictiveness which he still
continued to cherish. The apparition of the father, and his
unexpected appeal, completely conquered him, and he threw, with a
sudden effort, his pistol away some twenty yards.
"I am satisfied!" he said, in a low tone, advancing, and taking the
old man's hand. "You have conquered the vindictive pride of a
"I know that I grossly insulted you, James"--Harvey Lane said,
coming quickly forward, and offering his hand. "But would I, could I
have done it, if I had been myself?"
"No, Harvey, you could not! And I was mad and blind that I would not
see this"--Everett replied, grasping the hand of his friend. "We
were both _flushed with wine_, and that made both of us fools.
Surely, Harvey, we have had warning enough, of the evil of drinking.
Within the last two weeks, it has seriously marred our prospects in
life, and now it has brought us out here with the deliberate intent
of taking each other's lives."
"From this hour, I solemnly declare, that I will never again touch,
taste, or handle the accursed thing!" Lane said, with strong
"In that resolution I join you," replied Everett, with a like
earnest manner. "And let this resolution be the sealing bond of our
"Amen!" ejaculated Harvey Lane, solemnly,--and, "Amen!" responded
the old man, fervently, lifting his eyes to Heaven.
"JOHN," said a sweet-faced girl, laying her hand familiarly upon the
shoulder of a young man who was seated, near a window in deep
abstraction of mind. There was something sad in her voice,--and her
countenance, though, lovely, wore an expression of pain.
"What do you want, sister?" the young man replied, without lifting
his eyes from the floor.
"You are not happy, brother."
To this, there was no reply, and an embarrassing pause of some
"May I speak a word with you, brother?"--the young girl at length
said, with a tone and manner that showed her to be compelling
herself to the performance of a painful and repugnant task.
"On what subject, Alice?" the brother asked, looking up with a
This question brought the colour to Alice's cheeks, and the moisture
to her eyes.
"You know what I would say, John," she at length made out to utter,
in a voice that slightly trembled.
"How should I know, sister?"
"You were not yourself last night, John."
"Forgive me, brother, for what I now say," the maiden rejoined. "It
is a painful trial, indeed; and were it not that I loved you so
well--were it not that, besides you, there is no one else in the
wide world to whom I can look up, I might shrink from a sister's
duty. But I feel that it would be wrong for me not to whisper in
your ear one warning word--wrong not to try a sister's power over
"I will forgive you this time, on one condition," the brother said,
in a tone of rebuke, and with a grave expression of countenance.
"What is that?" asked Alice.
"On condition that you never again, directly or indirectly, allude
to this subject. It is not in your province to do so. A sister
should not look out for her brother's faults."
A sudden gush of tears followed this cold, half-angry repulse; and
then the maiden turned slowly away and left the room.
John Barclay's anger towards his only sister, who had no one, as she
had feelingly said, in the wide world to look up to and love, but
him, subsided the moment he saw how deeply his rebuke had wounded
her. But he could not speak to her, nor recall his words--for the
subject she had introduced was one so painful and mortifying, that
he could not bear an allusion to it.
From long indulgence, the habit of drinking had become confirmed in
the young man to such a degree that he had almost ceased to resist
an inclination that was gaining a dangerous power over him. And yet
there was in his mind an abiding resolution one day to break away
from this habit. He did not intend to become a drunkard. Oh, no! The
condition of a drunkard was too low and degrading. He could never
sink to that! After awhile, he intended to "swear off," as he called
it, and be done with the seductive poison altogether; but he had not
yet been able to bring so good a resolution into present activity.
This being his state of mind--conscious of danger, and yet unwilling
to fly from that danger, he could not bear any allusion to the
Half an hour, passed in troubled thought, elapsed after this brief
interview between the brother and sister, when the young man left
the house and took his way, scarcely reflecting upon where he was
going, to one of his accustomed places of resort--a fashionable
drinking house, where every device that ingenuity could invent, was
displayed to attract custom. Splendid mirrors and pictures hung
against the walls, affecting the mind with pleasing thoughts--and
tempting to self-indulgence. There were lounges, where one might
recline at ease, while he sipped the delicious compounds the richly
furnished bar afforded, never once dreaming that a serpent lay
concealed in the cup that he held to his lips--a serpent that one
day would sting him, perhaps unto death!
"Regular as clock-work,"--said an old man, a friend of Barclay's
father, who had been dead several years, meeting the young man as he
was about to enter the attractive establishment just alluded to.
"How?" asked Barclay in a tone of enquiry.
"Six times a day, John, is too often for you to be seen going into
the same drinking-house,"--said the old man, with plain-spoken
"You must not talk to me in that way, Mr. Gray," the other rejoined
"My respect and regard for the father, will ever cause me to speak
plainly to the son when I think him in danger," was Mr. Gray's calm
"In danger of what, Mr. Gray?"
"In danger of--shall I utter the word in speaking o' the son of my
old friend, Mr. Barclay? Yes; in danger of--drunkenness!"
"Mr. Gray, I cannot permit any one to speak to me thus."
"Be not offended at me, John. I utter but the truth."
"I will not stand to be insulted by any one!" was the young man's
angry reply, as he turned suddenly away from his aged friend, and
entered the drinking-house. He did not go up at once to the bar, as
had been his habit, but threw himself down upon one of the lounges,
took up a newspaper, and commenced; or rather, appeared to commence
reading, though he did not, in fact, see a letter.
"What will you have, Mr. Barclay?" asked an officious attendant,
coming up, a few moments after he had entered.
"Nothing just now," was the reply, made in a low tone, while his
eyes were not lifted from the newspaper. No very pleasant
reflections were those that passed through his mind as he sat there.
At last he rose up quickly, as if a resolution, had been suddenly
formed, and left the place where clustered so many temptations, with
a hurried step.
"I want you to administer an oath," he said, entering the office of
an Alderman, a few minutes after.
"Very well, sir. I am ready," replied the Alderman. "What is its
"I will give you the form."
"I, John Barclay, do solemnly swear, that for six months from this
hour, I will not taste a drop of any kind of liquor that
"I wouldn't take that oath, young man," the Alderman said.
"You had better go and join a temperance society. Signing the pledge
will be of as much avail."
"No--I will not sign a pledge never to drink again. I'm not going to
make a mere slave of myself. I'll swear off for six months."
"Why not swear off perpetually, then?"
"Because, as I said, I am not going to make a slave of myself. Six
months of total-abstinence will give me a control over myself that I
do not now possess."
"I very much fear, sir," urged the Alderman, notwithstanding he
perceived that the young man was growing impatient--"and you must
pardon my freedom in saying so, that you will find yourself in
error. If you are already so much the slave of drink as to feel
yourself compelled to have recourse to the solemnities of an oath to
break away from its bewitching power, depend upon it, that no
temporary expedient of this kind will be of any avail. You will, no
doubt, keep your oath religiously, but when its influence is
withdrawn, you will find the strength of an unsupported resolution
as weak as ever."
"I do not believe the position you take to be a true one," argued
young Barclay--"All I want is to get rid of present temptation, and
to be freed from present associations. Six months will place me
beyond the reach of these, and then I shall be able to do right from
an internal principle, and not from mere external restraint."
"I see the view you take, and would not urge a word against it, did
I not know so many instances of individuals who have vainly opposed
their resolutions against the power of habit. When once an appetite
for intoxicating drinks has been formed, there is only one way of
safety--that of taking a perpetual pledge of total-abstinence. That,
and that alone is the wall of sure protection. Without it, you are
exposed to temptations on every hand. The manly and determined
effort to be free will not always avail. In some weak and
unsuspecting moment, the tempter will steal quietly in, and all will
be again lost."
"It is useless, sir, to argue the point with me," Barclay replied to
this. "I will not now take the pledge--that is settled. I will take
an oath of abstinence for six months. If I can keep to it that long,
I can keep from drinking always."
Seeing that further argument would be useless, the Alderman said no
more, but proceeded to administer the oath. The young man then paid
the required fee and turned from the office in silence.
When Alice left the room in tears, stung by the cutting rebuke of
her brother, she retired to her chamber with an oppressed and aching
heart. She loved him tenderly. They were, sister and brother, alone
in the world, and, therefore, her affections clung the closer to
him. The struggle had been a hard one in bringing herself to perform
the duty which had called down upon her the anger of one for whom
she would almost have given her life; and, therefore, the result was
doubly painful, more particularly, as it had effected nothing,
apparently, towards a change in his habits.
"But perhaps it will cause him to reflect.--If so, I will cheerfully
bear his anger," was the consoling thought that passed through her
mind, after the passage of an hour, spent under the influence of
most painful feelings.
"O, if he will only be more on his guard," she went on, in
thought--"if he will only give up that habit, how glad I should be!"
Just then she heard him enter, and marked the sound of his footsteps
as he ascended to his own room, with a fluttering heart. In the
course of fifteen or twenty minutes, he went down again, and she
listened to observe if he were going out. But he entered the
parlours, and then all was, again, quiet.
For some time Alice debated with herself whether she should go down
to him or not, and make the effort to dispel the anger that she had
aroused against her; but she could not make up her mind how to act,
for she could not tell in what mood she might find him. One repulse
was as much, she felt, as she could bear. At last, however, her
feelings became so wrought up, that she determined to go down and
seek to be reconciled. Her brother's anger was more than she could
When she entered the parlours, with her usual quiet step, she found
him seated near the window, reading. He lifted his head as she came
in, and she saw at a glance that all his angry feelings were gone.
How lightly did her heart bound as she sprang forward!
"Will you forgive me, brother?" she said, laying her hand upon his
shoulder as she stood by his side, and bent her face down until her
fair cheek almost touched his own.
"Rather let me say, will you forgive me, sister?" was his reply, as
he kissed her affectionately--"for the unkind repulse I gave you,
when to say what you did must have caused you a most painful
sacrifice of feeling?"
"Painful indeed it was, brother. But it is past now and all
"Since then, Alice," he said, after a pause, "I have taken a solemn
oath, administered by an Alderman, not to touch any kind of
intoxicating drink for six months."
"O, I am so glad, John!" the sister said, a joyful smile lighting up
her beautiful young face. "But why did you say six months? Why not
"Because, Alice, I do not wish to bind myself down to a kind of
perpetual slavery. I wish to be free, and act right in freedom from
a true principle of right. Six months of entire abstinence from all
kinds of liquor will destroy that appetite for it which has caused
me, of late, to seek it far too often. And then I will, as a free
man, remain free."
"I shall now be so happy again, John!" Alice said, fully satisfied
with her brother's reason.
"So you have not been happy then of late?"
"O, no, brother. Far from it."
"And has the fact of my using wine so freely been the cause of your
"Its effects upon me have not been so visible as often to attract
your attention, Alice?"
"O, yes, they have. Scarcely a day has gone by for three or four
months past, that I could not see that your mind was obscured, and
often your actions sensibly affected."
"I did not dream that it was so, Alice.'
"Are you not sensible, that at Mr. Weston's, last night you were by
no means yourself?"
"Yes, Alice, I am sensible of that, and deeply has it mortified me.
I was suffering acutely from the recollection of the exposure which
I made of myself on that occasion, especially before Helen, when you
alluded to the subject. That was the reason that I could not bear
your allusion to it. But tell me, Alice, did you perceive that my
situation attracted Helen's attention particularly?"
"Yes. She noticed, evidently, that you were not as you ought to have
"How did it affect her, Alice?" asked the young man.
"She seemed much pained, and, I thought, mortified."
A pause of some moments ensued, when Barclay asked, in a tone of
"Do you think it has prejudiced her against me?"
"It has evidently pained her very much, but I do not think that it
has created in her mind any prejudice against you."
"From what do you infer this, Alice?"
"From the fact, that, while we were alone in her chamber, on my
going up stairs to put on my bonnet and shawl, she said to me, and
her eyes were moist as well as my own, 'Alice, you ought to speak to
your brother, and caution him against this free indulgence in wine;
it may grow on him, unawares. If he were as near to me as he is to
you, I should not feel that my conscience was clear unless I warned
him of his danger.'"
"Did she say that, sister?"
"Yes, those were her very words."
"And you did warn me, faithfully."
"Yes. But the task is one I pray that I may never again have to
"Amen," was the fervent response.
"How do you like Helen?" the young man asked, in a livelier tone,
after a silence of nearly a minute.
"I have always been attached to her, John. You know that we have
been together since we were little girls, until now we seem almost
"And a sister, truly, I hope she may one day become," the brother
said, with a meaning smile.
"Most affectionately will I receive her as such," was the reply of
Alice. "Than Helen Weston, there is no one whom I had rather see the
wife of my dear brother."
As she said this, she drew her arm around his neck, and kissed him
"It shall not be my fault, then, Alice, if she do not become your
sister--" was the brother's response.
Rigidly true to his pledge, John Barclay soon gained the honourable
estimation in the social circle through which he moved, that he had
held, before wine, the mocker, had seduced him from the ways of true
sobriety, and caused even his best friends to regard him with
changed feelings. Possessing a competence, which a father's patient
industry had accumulated, he had not, hitherto, thought of entering
upon any business. Now, however, he began to see the propriety of
doing so, and as he had plenty of capital, he proposed to a young
man of industrious habits and thorough knowledge of business to
enter into a co-partnership with him. This offer was accepted, and
the two young men commenced the world with the fairest prospects.
Three months from the day on which John Barclay had mentioned to his
sister that he entertained a regard for Helen Weston, he made
proposals of marriage to that young lady, which were accepted.
"But how in regard to his pledge?" I hear some one ask.
O, as to that, it was kept, rigidly. Nothing that could intoxicate
was allowed to touch his lips. Of course, he was at first frequently
asked to drink by his associates, but his reply to all importunities
"No--I have sworn off for six months."
"So you have said for the last six months," remarked young man,
named Watson, one day, on his refusing for the twentieth time to
drink with him.
"Not for six months, Watson. It is only three months this very day
since I swore off."
"Well, it seems to me like six months, anyhow. But do you think that
you feel any better for all this total-abstinence?"
"O as to that, I don't know that I feel such a wonderful difference
in body; but in mind I certainly do feel a great deal better."
"While I drank, I was conscious that I was beginning to be too fond
of drinking, and was too often painfully conscious that I had taken
too much. Now, I am, of course, relieved from all such unpleasant
"Well, that's something, at least. But I never saw you out of the
"Do you know the reason; Watson?"
"I'll tell you. You were always too far gone yourself, when we drank
freely together, to perceive my condition."
"So you say."
"Well, have it as you like. But, see here, John, what are you going
to do when your six months are out?"
"I'm going to be a sober man, as I am now."
"You never were a drunkard."
"I was precious near being one, then."
"Nonsense! That's all some old woman's notion of yours."
"Well, be that as it may, I certainly intend continuing to be as
sober a man as I have been for the last three months."
"Won't you drink a drop after your time is up?"
"That'll be just as I choose. I will drink or let it alone, as I
like. I shall then be free to drink moderately, or not at all, as
seems agreeable to me."
"That is a little more sensible than your perpetual
total-abstinence, teetotal, cold-water system. Who would be such a
miserable slave? I would rather die drunk in the gutter, than throw
away my liberty."
"I believe I have said as much myself."
"Don't you feel a desire to have a good glass of wine, or a julep,
now and then?"
"No, not the slightest. I've sworn off for six months, and that ends
the matter. Of course, I have no more desire for a glass of liquor
than I have to fly to the moon,--one is a moral, and the other a
physical impossibility; and, therefore, are dismissed from my
"What do you mean by a moral impossibility?"
"I have taken an oath not to drink for six months, and the violation
of that oath is, for one of my views and feelings, a moral
"Exactly. There are three months yet to run, you say. After that, I
hope to have the pleasure of taking a glass of wine with you in
honour of your restoration to a state of freedom."
"You shall have that pleasure, Watson, if it will really be one--"
was Barclay's reply, as the two young men parted.
Time wore on, and John Barclay, besides continuing perfectly sober,
gave constant attention to business. So complete a change in him
gave confidence to the parents and friends of Helen Weston, who made
no opposition to his wish for an early marriage. It was fixed to
take place on the evening of the very day upon which his temporary
pledge was to expire.
To the expiration of this pledge, Barclay had never ceased, from the
moment it was taken, to look forward with a lively interest. Not
that he felt a desire to drink. But he suffered himself to be
worried with the idea that he was no longer a free man. The nearer
the day came that was to terminate the period for which he had bound
himself to abstinence, the more did his mind dwell upon it, and the
more did he desire its approach. It was, likewise, to be his
wedding-day, and for that reason, also, did he look eagerly forward.
But it is doubtful whether the consummation of his marriage, or the
expiration of his pledge, occupied most of his thoughts. The day so
long looked for came at last.
The day that was to make Barclay a free man, and happy in the
possession of one of the sweetest girls for a wife he had ever seen.
"I shall not see you again, until to-night, John," his sister said
to him, as he was about leaving the house, after dinner, laying her
hand as she spoke upon his arm, and looking into his face with a
quiet smile resting upon her own lovely features.--"I have promised
Helen to go over and spend the afternoon with her."
"Very well, sis'."
"Of course we shall see you pretty early,"--an arch smile playing
about her lips as she made the remark.
"O, yes, I shall be there in time," was the brother's smiling reply,
as he kissed the cheek of Alice, and then turned away and left the
house. He first proceeded to his store, where he went through,
hurriedly, some business that required his attention, occupying
something like an hour. Then he went out, and walked rapidly up one
of the principal streets of the city, and down another, as if on
some urgent errand. Without stopping anywhere, he had nearly
returned to his own store, when he was stopped by a friend, who
accosted him with--
"Hallo, John! Where are you going in such a hurry?"
"I am on my way to the store."
"Any life and death in the case?"
"No.--Only I'm to be married to-night, as you are aware; and,
consequently, am hardly able to tell whether I am on my head or my
"True enough! And besides, you are a free man today, are you not?"
"Yes, Watson, thank Heaven! that trammel will be off in half an
"You must be fond of trammels, John, seeing that you are going to
put another on so soon after getting rid of this--" the friend said,
laughing heartily at his jest.
"That will be a lighter, and far pleasanter bondage I trust, Watson,
than the one from which I am about escaping. It will be an easy yoke
compared to the galling one under which I have toiled for the last
six months. Still, I do not regret having bound myself as I did. It
was necessary to give me that self-control which I had well-nigh
lost. Now I shall be able to act like a rational man, and be
temperate from principle, and not from a mere external restraint
that made me little better than a machine."
"Your time will be up, you say, in half an hour?"
"Yes--" looking at his watch--"in ten minutes. It is later than I
"Come, then, let us go over to R--'s--it is full ten minutes' walk
from here--and take a drink to freedom and principle."
"I am ready to join you, of course," was Barclay's prompt reply, as
he drew his arm within that of his friend, and the two turned their
steps towards the drinking establishment that had been named by the
"A room, a bottle of sherry, and some cigars," said Watson, as they
entered the drinking-house, and went up to the bar.
In a few minutes after, they were alone, with wine and glasses
"Here's to freedom and principle!" said Watson, lifting his glass,
after having filled his own and Barclay's.
"And here's to the same high moral (sic) atributes which should ever
be man's distinguishing characteristics," responded Barclay, lifting
his own glass, and touching with it the brim of that held in the
hand of his friend. Both then emptied their glasses at a draught.
"Really, that is delicious!" Barclay said, smacking his lips, as the
rich flavour of the wine lingered on his palate with a sensation of
"It's a pretty fair article," was the indifferent reply of
Watson--"though I have tasted better in my time. Long abstinence has
made its flavour peculiarly pleasant. Here, let me fill your glass
Without hesitating, Barclay presented his glass, which was again
filled to the brim. In the next moment it was empty. So eager was he
to get it to his lips, that he even spilled a portion of the wine in
lifting it hurriedly. Suddenly his old, and as he had thought,
extinguished desires, came back upon him, roused into vigorous
activity, like a giant awakening refreshed by a long repose. So keen
was his appetite for wine, and stimulating drinks, thus suddenly
restored, that he could no more have withstood its influence than he
could have borne up against the current of a mighty river.
"Help yourself," said his friend, ere another minute had elapsed, as
Barclay took up the bottle to fill his glass for the third time.
"Long-abstinence has no doubt made you keen."
"It certainly has, or else this is the finest article of wine that
has ever passed my lips."
'It's not the best quality by a good deal; still it is pretty fair.
But won't you try a mint-julep, or a punch, by way of variety?"
"No objection," was the brief response.
"Which will you choose?"
"I'll take a julep."
"Two juleps," said Watson to the waiter who entered immediately
The juleps were soon ready, each furnished with a long straw.
"Delicious!" was Barclay's low, and delighted ejaculation, as he
bent to the table, and "imbibed" through the straw a portion of the
"Our friend R--understands his business," was Watson's brief
A silence of some moments ensued, during which a painful
consciousness of danger rushed through the mind of Barclay. But with
an effort he dismissed it. He did not intend to drink beyond the
bounds of moderation, and why should he permit his mind to be
disturbed by idle fears?
* * * * *
"It is time that brother was here," Alice said to Helen Weston, as
the two maidens sat alone, near a window in Helen's chamber, the
evening twilight falling gently and with a soothing influence.
"Yes. I expected him earlier," was the reply, in a low tone, while
Helen's bosom heaved with a new, and exquisitely pleasurable
emotion. "What can keep him?"
"He is lingering at his toilet, perhaps," Alice said, with a smile.
All was silent again for many minutes, each gentle and innocent
heart; busy with images of delight.
"It's strange that he does not come, Alice, or sister, as I must
call you," Helen remarked, in a graver tone, as the shadowy twilight
deepened until everything wore a veil of indistinctness.
"There! That must be him!" Alice said. "Hark! That is certainly his
voice! Yes--And he is coming right up to your room, as I live, as
boldly as if the house belonged to him."
While Alice was yet speaking, the door of the chamber in which they
sat was swung open with a rude hand, and her brother entered. His
face was flushed, and his whole person in disorder.
"Why, brother! what has kept--," but the sister could utter no more.
Her tongue was paralyzed, and she stood, statue-like, gazing upon
him with a look of horror. He was intoxicated! It was his
wedding-night, a portion of the company below, and the gentle,
affectionate maiden who was to become his bride, all attired and
waiting, and he had come intoxicated!
Poor Helen's bewildered senses could not at first fully comprehend
the scene. When she did realize the terrible truth, the shock was
more than she could bear.
Over the whole scene of pain, disorder, and confusion, that
transpired on that evening, we must draw a veil. Any reader of even
ordinary imagination can realize enough of the exquisite distress
which it must have brought to many hearts, without the aid of
distinct pictures. And those who cannot realize it, will be spared
the pain of its contemplation.
One week from that night, at about nine o'clock in the evening, as
old Mr. Gray was passing along one of the principal streets of the
city where the occurrences we are relating took place, a young man
staggered against him, and then fell at full length upon the
pavement, from whence he rolled into the gutter, swollen by a smart
shower that had just fallen. Too drunk to help himself, he must have
been drowned even in that insignificant stream, had there not been
help at hand.
Mr. Gray came at once to his relief, and assisted him to rise and
get upon the pavement. But now he was unable to stand. Either hurt
by the fall, or unnerved by the liquor he had taken, he was no
longer able to keep his feet. While Mr. Gray stood holding him up,
undetermined how to act, another young man, not quite so drunk as
the one he had in charge, came whooping along like an Indian.
"Hallo! Is this you, John, holding up old Mr. Gray? or is it old Mr.
Gray holding you up! [hiccup.] Blast me! If I can tell which of you
is drunk, or which sober. Let me see? hic-hic-cup. Was it the Whale
that swallowed Jonah, or Jonah the Whale? Is it old Mr.
Gray--hic-cup--that is drunk, or John Barclay?"
"John Barclay!" ejaculated the old man, in a tone of surprise and
grief. "Surely this wretched young man is not John Barclay!"
"If he is not John Barclay, then I am not--hic-cup--not Tom Watson.
He's a bird, though! aint he, old gentleman?--hic-cup--Look here,
I'll give you five dollars,--hic-cup--if you'll stop
these,--hic--these confounded hic-hic-hic-cups--There now--There's a
chance for you!--hic--blast 'em! He swore off for six months, ha!
ha! ha! And it's just,--hic--just a week to-night since the six
months were up. Hurrah for freedom and principle! Hur--hic--hurrah!"
"Don't come your preaching touch over me, mister, if you please. I'm
free Tom Watson,--hic-hic-hic-cup--I'm--hic--I'm a regular
team--whoop! John, there, you see, would drink to freedom and
principle,--hic-cup--on the--hic--day his pledge was up. But the old
fellow was--hic--too strong--hic-cup--for him. He's been drunk as a
fool ever since--hic-cup!--"
Just at that moment a cab came by which was stopped by the old man.
Young Barclay was gotten into it and driven to Mr. Gray's dwelling.
When brought to the light, he presented a sad spectacle, indeed. His
face was swollen, and every feature distorted. His coat was torn,
and all of his clothing wet and covered with mud. Too far gone to be
able to help himself, Mr. Gray had him removed to a chamber, his wet
garments taken off, and replaced by dry under-clothing. Then he was
put into a bed and left for the night. When the morning broke,
Barclay was perfectly sober, but with a mind altogether bewildered.
The room in which he found himself, and the furniture, were all
strange. He got up; and looked from the window; the houses opposite
"Where am I? What is the meaning of all this?" he said, half-aloud,
as he turned to look for his clothes. But no garments of any kind,
not even his hat and boots, were visible.
"Strange!" he murmured, getting into bed again, and clasping his
hands tightly upon his aching and bewildered head. He had lain,
thus, for some minutes, trying to collect his scattered senses, when
the door of his chamber was opened by a servant, who brought him in
a full suit of his own clothes; not, however, those he remembered to
have worn the day previous.
As soon as the servant had withdrawn, the young man, who had felt
altogether disinclined to speak to him, hurriedly arose, and dressed
himself. On attempting to go out, he was surprised, and somewhat
angered, to find that the door of the room had been locked.
Ringing the bell with a quick jerk, he awaited, impatiently, an
answer to his summons, for the space of about a minute, when he
pulled the cord again with a stronger hand. Only a few moments more
elapsed, when the key was turned in the door, and Mr. Gray entered.
"Mr. Gray! Is it possible!" Barclay ejaculated, as the old man
stepped into the room, and closed the door after him.
"I can hardly believe it possible, John," his father's friend said,
as he turned towards him a sad, yet unreproving countenance.
"But what is the meaning of all this, Mr. Gray? Where am I? And how
came I here?"
"Sit down, John, and be calm. You are in my house. Last night I took
you from the gutter, too much intoxicated to help yourself. You
would have drowned there, in three inches of water, had not a
friendly hand been near to save you."
"Dreadful!" ejaculated the young man, striking his hand hard against
his forehead, while an expression of shame and agonizing remorse
passed over his face.
"It is, indeed, dreadful to think of, my young friend!" Mr. Gray
remarked, in a sympathizing tone. "How wretched you must be!"
"Wretched? Alas! sit, you cannot imagine the horror of this dreadful
moment. Surely I have been mad for the past few days! And enough has
occurred to drive me mad."
"So I should think, John. But that is past now, and the future is
still yours, and its bright page still unsullied by a single act of
"But the past! The dreadful past! That can never be recalled--never
be atoned for," Barclay replied, his countenance bearing the
strongest expression of anguish and remorse. "To think of all I have
lost To think how cruelly I have mocked the fondest hopes, and
crushed the purest affections--perhaps broken a loving heart by my
folly. O, sir! It will drive me mad!"
As the young man said this, he arose to his feet, and commenced
pacing the room to and fro with agitated steps. Now striking his
hands against his forehead, and now wringing them violently.
"Since that accursed hour," he resumed, after a few minutes thus
spent, "when I madly tempted myself, under the belief that I had
gained the mastery over a depraved appetite by an abstinence from
all kinds of liquor for six months, I have but a dim recollection of
events. I do, indeed, remember, with tolerable distinctness, that I
went to claim the hand of Helen Weston, according to appointment.
But from the moment I entered the house, all is to me confusion, or
a dead blank. Tell me, then, Mr. Gray,"--and the young man's voice
grew calmer,--"the effect of my miserable conduct upon her whom I
loved purely and tenderly. Let me know all. I ask no disguise."
"The effect, John, has been painful, indeed. Since that dreadful
night, she has remained in a state of partial delirium. But her
physician told me, yesterday, that all of her symptoms had become
"And how is her father, and friends?"
"Deeply incensed, of course, at your conduct."
"And my sister? How is Alice?"
"She keeps up with an effort. But oh, how wretched and
broken-hearted she looks! Is it not dreadful, John, to think, how,
by a single act of folly, you have lacerated the hearts that loved
you most, and imposed upon them burdens of anguish, almost too heavy
to be borne?"
"It is dreadful! dreadful! O, that I had died, before I became an
accursed instrument of evil to those I love. But what can I do, Mr.
Gray, to atone, in some degree, for the misery I have wrought?"
"You can do much, John, if you will."
"If I will, Mr. Gray?"
"Yes, John, if you will."
"There is nothing that I am not ready to do, Mr. Gray--even the
cutting off of my right hand, could it be of any avail."
"You swore off, as I believe you called it, for six months, did you
"Had you any desire to drink, during that time?"
"Sign a pledge of perpetual total-abstinence, and you are safe from
all future temptations. Time will doubtless heal the present painful
"And make a slave of myself, Mr. Gray. Surely I ought to have power
enough over myself to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, without
binding myself down by a written contract."
"That is true; but, unfortunately, you have not that control over
yourself. Your only safety, then, lies in the pledge. Take that, and
you throw between yourself and danger an insurmountable barrier. You
talk about freedom; and yet are a slave to the most debasing
appetite. Get free from the influence of that eager, insatiable
desire, and you are free, indeed. The perpetual total-abstinence
pledge will be your declaration of independence. When that is taken,
you. will be free, indeed. And until it is taken, rest assured, that
none of your friends will again have confidence in you. For their
sakes,--for your sister's sake, that peace may once more be restored
to her troubled heart--for the sake of her, from whose lip you
dashed the cup of joy, sign the pledge."
"I will sign it, Mr. Gray. But name not her whom I have so deeply
wronged. I can never see Helen Weston again."
"Time heals many a wound, and closes many a breach my young friend."
"It can never heal that wound, nor close that breach," was the sad
response. "But give me a pen and ink, and some paper; and let me
write a pledge. I believe it is necessary for me to sign one."
The materials for writing were brought as desired, and Barclay wrote
and subscribed a pledge of perpetual abstinence from all that could
"That danger is past," he said, with a lighter tone, as he arose
from the table at which he had been writing. "I can never pass
another such a week as that which has just elapsed."
"Now come down and take a good warm breakfast with me," Mr. Gray
said, in a cheerful voice.
"Excuse me if you please," Barclay replied. "I cannot meet your
family this morning, after what has occurred. Besides, I must see my
sister as quickly as possible, and relieve, as far as lies in my
power, her suffering heart."
"Go then, John Barclay," the old man said. "I will not, for Alice's
sake, urge you to linger a moment."
It was still early when Mr. Barclay entered his own home. He found
Alice sitting in the parlour so pale, haggard, and wretched, that
her features hardly seemed like those of his own sister. She looked
up into his face as he came in with a sad, doubting expression,
while her lips trembled. One glance, however, told her heart that a
change had taken place, and she sprang quickly towards him.
"Alice, my own dear sister!" he said, as her head sank upon his
breast. "The struggle is over. I am free once more, and free for
ever. I have just signed a pledge of total-abstinence from all that
can intoxicate--a pledge that will remain perpetually in force."
"And may our Father in Heaven help you to keep it, John," the maiden
murmured, in a low, fervent tone.
"I will die before it shall be violated," was the stern response.
One year from that time, another bridal party assembled at the
residence of Mr. Weston. Helen long since recovered from the shock
she had received, had again consented to be led to the altar, by
John Barclay, whose life had been, since he signed the pledge, of
the most unexceptionable character. Indeed, almost his only fault in
former times had been a fondness for drinking, and gay company. Not
much of boisterous mirth characterized the bridal party, for none
felt like giving way to an exuberance of feeling,--but there was,
notwithstanding few could draw a veil entirely over the past, a
rational conviction that true and permanent happiness must, and
would crown that marriage union. And thus far, it has followed it,
and must continue to follow it, for John Barclay is a man of
high-toned principle, and would as soon think of committing a
highway robbery, as violating his pledge.
THE FAILING HOPE.
"SHALL I read to you, ma?" said Emma Martin, a little girl, eleven
years of age, coming up to the side of her mother, who sat in a
musing attitude by the centre-table, upon which the servant had just
placed a light.
Mrs. Martin did not seem to hear the voice of her child; for she
moved not, nor was there any change in the fixed, dreamy expression
of her face.
"Ma," repeated the child, after waiting for a few moments, laying,
at the same time, her head gently upon her mother's shoulder.
"What, dear?" Mrs. Martin asked, in a tender voice, rousing herself
"Shall I read to you, ma?" repeated the child.
"No--yes, dear, you may read for me"--the mother said, and her tones
were low, with something mournful in their expression.
"What shall I read, ma?"
"Get the Bible, dear, and read to me from that good book," replied
"I love to read in the Bible," Emma said, as she brought to the
centre-table that sacred volume, and commenced turning over its
pages. She then read chapter after chapter, while the mother
listened in deep attention, often lifting her heart upwards, and
breathing a silent prayer. At last Emma grew tired with reading, and
closed the book.
"It is time for you to go to bed, dear," Mrs. Martin observed, as
the little girl showed signs of weariness.
"Kiss me, ma," the child said, lifting her innocent face to that of
her mother, and receiving the token of love she asked. Then,
breathing her gentle,
"Good-night!" the affectionate girl glided off, and retired to her
"Dear child!" Mrs. Martin murmured, as Emma left the room. "My heart
trembles when I think of you, and look into the dark and doubtful
She then leaned her head upon her hand, and sat in deep, and
evidently painful abstraction of mind. Thus she remained for a long
time, until aroused by the clock which struck the hour of ten.
With a deep sigh she arose, and commenced pacing the room backwards
and forwards, pausing every now and then to listen to the sound of
approaching footsteps, and moving on again as the sound went by.
Thus she continued to walk until nigh eleven o'clock, when some one
drew near, paused at the street door, and then opening it, came
along the passage with a firm and steady step.
Mrs. Martin stopped, trembling in spite of herself, before the
parlour door, which a moment after was swung open. One glance at the
face of the individual who entered, convinced her that her
solicitude had been unnecessary.
"Oh, James!" she said, the tears gushing from her eyes, in spite of
a strong effort to compose herself,--"I am so glad that you have
"Why are you so agitated, Emma?" her husband said, in some surprise,
looking inquiringly into Mrs. Martin's face.
"You staid out so late--and--you know I am foolish sometimes!" she
replied, leaning her head down upon his shoulder, and continuing to
A change instantly passed upon Mr. Martin's countenance, and he
stood still, for some time, his face wearing a grave thoughtful
expression, while his wife remained with her head leaning upon him.
At last he drew his arm tenderly around her, and said--
"Emma, I am a sober man."
"Do not, dear James! speak of that. I am so happy now!"
"Yes, Emma, I will speak of it now." And as he said so, he gently
seated her upon the sofa, and took his place beside her.
"Emma"--he resumed, looking her steadily in the face. "I have
resolved never again to touch the accursed cup that has so well-nigh
destroyed our peace for ever."
"Oh, James! What a mountain you have taken from my heart!" Mrs.
Martin replied, the whole expression of her face changing as
suddenly as a landscape upon which the sun shines from beneath an
obscuring cloud. "I have had nothing to trouble me but that--yet
that one trouble has seemed more than I could possibly bear."
"You shall have no more trouble, Emma. I have been for some months
under a strange delusion, it has seemed. But I am now fully awake,
and see the dangerous precipice upon which I have been standing.
This night, I have solemnly resolved that I would drink no more
spirituous liquors. Nothing stronger than wine shall again pass my
"I cannot tell you how my heart is relieved," the wife said. "The
whole of this evening I have been painfully oppressed with fear and
dark forebodings. Our dear little girl is now at that age, when her
future prospects interest me all the while. I think of them night
and day. Shall they all be marred? I have asked myself often and
often. But I could give my heart no certain answer. I need not tell
"Give yourself no more anxiety on this point, Emma," her husband
replied. "I will be a free man again. I will be to you and my dear
child all that I have ever been."
"May our Heavenly Father aid you to keep that resolution," was the
silent prayer that went up from the heart of Mrs. Martin.
The failing hope of. her bosom revived under this assurance. She
felt again as in the early years of their wedded life, when hope and
confidence, and tender affection were all in the bloom and vigour of
their first developement. The light came back to her eye, and the
smile to her lip.
It was about four months afterwards, that Mr. Martin was invited to
make one of a small party, given to a literary man, as visiter from
a neighbouring city.
"I shall not be home to dinner, Emma," he said, on leaving in the
"Why not, James?" she asked.
"I am going to dine at four, with a select party of gentlemen."
Mrs. Martin did not reply, but a cloud passed over her face, in
spite of an effort not to seem concerned.
"Don't be uneasy, Emma," her husband said, noting this change. "I
shall touch nothing but wine. I know my weakness, and shall be on my
"Do be watchful over yourself, for my sake, and for the sake of our
own dear child," Mrs. Martin replied, laying her arm tenderly upon
"Have no fear, Emma," he said, and kissing the yet fair and
beautiful cheek of his wife, Mr. Martin left the house.
How long, how very long did the day seem to Mrs. Martin! The usual
hour for his return came and went, the dinner hardly tasted; and
then his wife counted the hours as they passed lingeringly away,
until the dim, grey twilight fell with a saddening influence around
"He will be home soon, now," she thought. But the minutes glided
into hours, and still he did not come. The tea-table stood in the
floor until nearly nine o'clock, before Mrs. Martin sat down with
little Emma. But no food passed the mother's lips. She could not
eat. There was a strange fear about her heart--a dread of coming
evil, that chilled her feelings, and threw a dark cloud over her
In the meantime, Martin had gone to the dinner-party, firm in his
resolution not to touch a drop of ardent spirits. But the taste of
wine had inflamed his appetite, and he drank more and more freely,
until he ceased to feel the power of his resolution, and again put
brandy to his lips, and drank with the eagerness of a worn and
thirsty traveller at a cooling brook. It was nine o'clock when the
company arose, or rather attempted to arise from the table. Not all
of them could accomplish that feat. Three, Martin among the rest,
were carried off to bed, in a state of helpless intoxication.
Hour after hour passed away, the anxiety of Mrs. Martin increasing
every moment, until the clock struck twelve.
"Why does he stay so late?" she said, rising and pacing the room
backwards and forwards. This she continued to do, pausing every now
and then to listen, for nearly an hour. Then she went to the door
and looked long and anxiously in the direction from which she
expected her husband to come. But his well-known form met not her
eager eyes, that peered so intently into the darkness and gloom of
the night. With another long-drawn sigh, she closed the door, and
re-entered the silent and lonely room. That silence was broken by
the loud and clear ringing of the clock. The hour was one! Mrs.
Martin's feelings now became too much excited for her to control
them. She sank into a chair, and wept in silent anguish of spirit.
For nearly a quarter of an hour her tears continued to flow, and
then a deep calm succeeded--a kind of mental stupor, that remained
until she was startled again into distinct consciousness by the
sound of the clock striking two.
All hope now faded from her bosom. Up to this time she had
entertained a feeble expectation that her husband might be kept away
from some other cause than the one she so dreaded; but now that prop
became only as a broken reed, to pierce her with a keener anguish.
"It is all over!" she murmured bitterly, as she again arose, and
commenced, walking to and fro with slow and measured steps.
It was fully three o'clock before that lonely, and almost
heart-broken wife and mother retired to her chamber. How cruelly had
the hope which had grown bright and buoyant in the last few months,
gaining more strength and confidence every day, been again crushed
to the earth!
For an hour longer did Mrs. Martin sit, listening in her chamber,
everything around her so hushed into oppressive silence, that the
troubled beating of her own heart, was distinctly audible. But she
waited and listened in vain. The sound of passing footsteps that now
came only at long, very long intervals, served but to arouse a
momentary gleam in her mind, to fade away again, and leave it in
Without disrobing, she now laid herself down, still listening, with
an anxiety that grew more and more intense every moment. At last,
over-wearied nature could bear up no longer, and she sunk into a
troubled sleep. When she awoke from this, it was daylight. Oh, how
weary and worn and wretched she felt! The consciousness of why she
thus lay, with her clothes unremoved, the sad remembrance of her
hours of waiting and watching through nearly the whole night, all
came up before her with painful distinctness. Who but she who has
suffered, can imagine her feelings at that bitter moment?
On descending to the parlour, she found her husband lying in a
half-stupid condition on the sofa, the close air of the room
impregnated with his breath--the sickening, disgusting breath of a
drunken man! Bruised, crushed, paralyzed affection had now to lift
itself up--the wife just ready to sink to the earth, powerless,
under the weight of an overburdening affliction, had now to nerve
herself under the impulse of duty.
"James! James!" she said, in a voice of assumed calmness--laying her
hand upon him and endeavouring to arouse him to consciousness. But
it was a long time before she could get him so fully awake as to
make him understand that it was necessary for him to go up stairs
and retire to bed. At length she succeeded in getting him into his
chamber before the servants had come down; and then into bed. Once
there, he fell off again into a profound sleep.
"Is pa sick?" asked little Emma, coming into her mother's chamber,
about an hour after, and seeing her father in bed.
"Yes, dear, your father is quite unwell!" Mrs. Martin said, in a
"What ails him, ma?" pursued the child.
"He is not very well, dear; but will be better soon," the mother
The little girl looked into her mother's face for a few moments
unsatisfied with the answer, and unwilling to ask another question.
She felt that something was wrong, more than the simple illness of
It was near the middle of the day when Mr. Martin became fully awake
and conscious of his condition. If he had sought forgetfulness of
the past night's debauch and degradation, the sad, reproving face of
his wife, pale and languid from anxiety and watching, would too
quickly have restored the memory of his fall.
The very bitterness of his self-condemnation--the very keenness of
wounded pride irritated his feelings, and made him feel gloomy and
sullen. He felt deeply for his suffering wife--he wished most
ardently to speak to her a word of comfort, but his pride kept him
silent. At the dinner hour, he eat a few mouthfuls in silence, and
then withdrew from the table and left the house to attend to his
ordinary business. On his way to his office, he passed a hotel where
he had been in the habit of drinking. He felt so wretched--so much
in want of something to buoy up his depressed feelings, that he
entered, and calling for some wine, drank two or three glasses.
This, in a few minutes, had the desired effect, and he repaired to
his office feeling like a new man.
During the afternoon, he drank wine frequently; and when he returned
home in the evening, was a good deal under its influence; so much
so, that all the reserve he had felt in the morning was gone. He
spoke pleasantly and freely with his wife--talked of future schemes
of pleasure and success. But, alas! his pleasant words fell upon her
heart like sunshine upon ice. It was too painfully evident that he
had again been drinking--and drinking to the extent of making him
altogether unconscious of his true position. She would rather a
thousand times have seen him overwhelmed by remorse. Then there
would have been something for her hope to have leaned upon.
Day after day did Mr. Martin continue to resort to the wine-cup.
Every morning he felt so wretched that existence seemed a burden to
him, until his keen perceptions were blunted by wine. Then the
appetite for something stronger would be stimulated, and draught
after draught of brandy would follow, until when night came, he
would return home to agonize the heart of his wife with a new pang,
keener than any that had gone before.
Such a course of conduct could not be pursued without its becoming
apparent to all in the house. Mrs. Martin had, therefore, added to
the cup of sorrow, the mortification and pain of having the
servants, and her child daily conscious of his degradation. Poor
little Emma would shrink away instinctively from her father when he
would return home in the evening and endeavour to lavish upon her
his caresses. Sometimes Mr. Martin would get irritated at this.
"What are you sidling off in that way for, Emma?" he said,
half-angrily, one evening, when he was more than usually under the
influence of liquor, as Emma shrunk away from him on his coming in.
The little girl paused and looked frightened--glancing first at her
mother, and then again, timidly, at her father.
"Come along here, I say," repeated the father, seating himself, and
holding out his hands.
"Go, dear," Mrs. Martin said.
"I reckon she can come without you telling her to, madam!" her
husband responded, angrily. "Come along, I tell you!" he added in a
loud, excited tone, his face growing red with passion.
"There now! Why didn't you come when I first spoke. to you, ha?" he
said, drawing the child towards him with a quick jerk, so soon as
she came within reach of his extended hand. "Say. Why didn't you
come Tell me! Aint I your father?"
"Yes, sir," was the timid reply.
"And havn't I taught you that you must obey me?"
"Then why didn't you come, just now, when I called you?"
To this interrogation the little girl made no reply, but looked
"Did you hear what I said?" pursued the father, in a louder voice.
"Then answer me, this instant! Why didn't you come when I called
"Because, I--I--I was afraid," was the timid, hesitating reply.
Something seemed to whisper to the father's mind a consciousness,
that his appearance and conduct while under the influence of liquor,
might be such as not only to frighten, but estrange his child's
affection from him; and he seemed touched by the thought, for his
manner changed, though he was still to a degree irrational.
"Go away, then, Emma! Take her away, mother," he said, in a tone
which indicated that his feelings were touched. "She don't love her
father any more, and don't care anything more about him," pushing at
the same time the child away from him.
Poor little Emma burst into tears, and shrinking to the side of her
mother, buried her face in the folds of her dress, sobbing as if her
heart were breaking.
Mrs. Martin took her little girl by the hand and led her from the
room, up to the chamber, and kissing her, told her to remain there
until the servant brought her some supper, when she could go to bed.
"I don't want any supper, ma!" she said, still sobbing.
"Don't cry, dear," Mrs. Martin said, soothingly.
"Indeed, ma, I do love father," the child said--looking up earnestly
into her mother's face, the tears still streaming over her cheeks.
"Won't you tell him so?"
"Yes, Emma, I will tell him," the mother replied.
"And won't you ask him to come up and kiss me after I'm in bed?"
"And will he come?"
"Oh, yes; he will come and kiss you."
Martin remained with her little girl until her feelings were quieted
down, and then she descended with reluctant steps to the parlour.
There was that in the scene which had just passed, that sobered, to
a great extent, the half-intoxicated husband and father, and caused
him to feel humbled and pained at his conduct; which it was too
apparent was breaking the heart of his wife, and estranging the
affection of his child.
When Mrs. Martin re-entered the parlour, she found him sitting near
a table, with his head resting upon his hand, and his whole manner
indicating a state of painful self-consciousness. With the
instinctive perception of a woman, she saw the truth; and going at
once up to him, she laid her hand upon him, and said:
"James--Emma wants you to come up and kiss her after she gets into
bed. She says that she does love you, and she wished me to tell you
Mr. Martin did not reply. There was something calm, gentle, and
affectionate, in the manner and tones of his wife--something that
melted him completely down. A choking sob followed; when he arose
hastily, and retired to his chamber. Mrs. Martin did not follow him
thither. She saw that his own reflections were doing more for him
than anything that she could do or say; and, therefore, she deemed
it the part of wisdom to let his own reflections be his companion,
and do their own work.
When Mr. Martin entered his chamber, he seated himself near the bed,
and leaned his head down upon it. He was becoming more and more
sobered every moment--more and more distinctly conscious of the true
nature of the ground he occupied. Still his mind was a good deal
confused, for the physical action of the stimulus he had taken
through the day, had not yet subsided; although there was a strong
mental counteracting cause in operation, which was gradually
subduing the effect of his potations. As he sat thus, leaning his
head upon his hand, and half-reclining upon the bed, a deep sigh, or
half-suppressed sob, caught his ear. It came from the adjoining
chamber. He remembered his child in an instant. His only child--whom
he most fondly loved. He remembered, too, her conduct, but a short
time before, and saw, with painful distinctness, that he was
estranging from himself, and bringing sorrow upon one whose gentle
nature had affected even his heart with feelings of peculiar
"My dear child!" he murmured, as he arose to his feet, and went
quietly into her room. She had already retired to bed, and lay with
her head almost buried beneath the clothes, as if shrinking away
with a sensation akin to fear. But she heard him enter, and
instantly rose up, saying, as she saw him approach her bed--
"O, pa, indeed I do love you!"
"And I love you, my child," Mr. Martin responded, bending over her
and kissing her forehead, cheeks, and lips, with an earnest
"And don't you love ma, too?" inquired Emma.
"Certainly I do, my dear! Why do you ask me?"
"Because I see her crying so often--almost every day. And she seems
so troubled just before you come home, every evening. She didn't use
to be so. A good while ago, she used to be always talking about when
pa would be home; and used to dress me up every afternoon to see
you. But now she never says anything about your coming home at
night. Don't you know how we used to walk out and meet you
sometimes? We never do it now!"
This innocent appeal was like an arrow piercing him with the most
acute pain. He could not find words in which to fame a reply. Simply
kissing her again, and bidding her a tender good-night, he turned
away and left her chamber, feeling more wretched than he had ever
felt in his life.
It was about twelve years since the wife of Mr. Martin had united
her hopes and affections with his. At that time he was esteemed by
all--a strictly temperate man, although he would drink with a
friend, or at a convivial party, whenever circumstances led him to
do so. From this kind of indulgence the appetite for liquor was
formed. Two years after his marriage, Martin had become so fond of
drinking, that he took from two to three glasses every day,
regularly. Brandy at dinner-time was indispensable. The meal would
have seemed to him wanting in a principal article without it. It was
not until about five years after their marriage that Mrs. Martin was
aroused to a distinct consciousness of danger. Her husband came home
so much intoxicated as to be scarcely able to get up into his
chamber. Then she remembered, but too vividly, the slow, but sure
progress he had been making towards intemperance, during the past
two or three years, and her heart sunk trembling in her bosom with a
new and awful fear. It seemed as if she had suddenly awakened from a
delusive dream of happiness and security, to find herself standing
at the brink of a fearful precipice.
"What can I do? What shall I do?" were questions repeated over and
over again; but, alas! she could find no answer upon which her
troubled heart could repose with confidence. How could she approach
her husband upon such a subject? She felt that she could not allude
Month after month, and year after year, she watched with an anguish
of spirit that paled her cheek, and stole away the brightness from
her eye, the slow, but sure progress of the destroyer. Alas! how did
hope fail--fail--fail, until it lived in her bosom but a faint,
feeble, flickering ray. At last she ventured to remonstrate, and met
with anger and repulse. When this subsided, and her husband began to
reflect more deeply upon his course, he was humbled in spirit, and
sought to heal the wound his conduct and his words had made. Then
came promises of amendment, and Mrs. Martin fondly hoped all would
be well again. The light again came back to her heart. But it did
not long remain. Martin still permitted himself to indulge in wine,
which soon excited the desire for stronger stimulants, and he again
indulged, and again fell.
Ten times had he thus fallen, each time repenting, and each time
restoring a degree of confidence to the heart of his wife, by
promises of future abstinence. Gradually did hope continue to grow
weaker and weaker, at each relapse, until it had nearly failed.
"There is no hope," she said to herself, mournfully, as she sat in
deep thought, on the evening in which occurred the scene we have
just described. "He has tried so often, and fallen again at every
effort. There is no hope--no hope!"
It was an hour after Mr. Martin had retired to his chamber, that his
wife went up softly, and first went into Emma's room. The child was
asleep, and there was on her innocent face a quiet smile, as if
pleasant images were resting upon her mind. A soft kiss was
imprinted on her fair forehead, and then Mrs. Martin went into her
own chamber. She found that her husband had retired to bed and was
But few hours of refreshing slumber visited the eyelids of the
almost despairing wife. Towards morning, however, she sank away into
a deep sleep. When she awoke from this, it was an hour after
daylight. Her husband was up and dressed, and sat beside the bed,
looking into her face with an expression of subdued, but calm and
"Emma," he said, taking her hand, as soon as she was fairly
awakened, "can you again have confidence in me, or has hope failed
Mrs. Martin did not reply, but looked at her husband steadily and
"I understand you," he said, "you have almost, if not altogether
ceased to hope. I do not wonder at it. If I had not so often mocked
your generous confidence, I would again assure you that all will be
well. I see that what I say does not make the warm blood bound to
your face, as once it did. I will not use idle words to convince
you. But one thing I will say. I have been, for sometime past,
conscious, that it was dangerous for me to touch wine, or ale, or
anything that stimulates, as they do. They only revive an appetite
for stronger drinks, while they take away a measure of self-control.
I have, therefore, most solemnly promised myself, that I will never
again touch or taste any spirituous liquors, wine, malt, or cider.
Nor will I again attend any convivial parties, where these things
are used. Hereafter, I shall act upon the total-abstinence
principle--for only in total-abstinence, is there safety for one
There was something so solemn and earnest in the manner of her
husband, that Mrs. Martin's drooping spirits began to revive. Again
did her eye brighten, and her cheek kindle. Then came a gush of
tears attesting the power of a new impulse. The failing hope was
And day after day, week after week, and month after month, did that
hope strengthen and gain confidence. Years have passed, since that
total-abstinence resolution was taken, and not once during the time
has Martin been tempted to violate it. Yet, is he vividly conscious,
that only in _total-abstinence_ from everything that can intoxicate
is there safety for him.
MR. SMITH kept a drug shop in the little village of Q--, which was
situated a few miles from Lancaster. It was his custom to visit the
latter place every week or two, in order to purchase such articles
as were needed from time to time in his business. One day, he drove
off towards Lancaster, in his wagon, in which, among other things,
was a gallon demijohn. On reaching the town, he called first at a
grocer's with the inquiry,
"Have you any common wine?"
"How common?" asked the grocer.
"About a dollar a gallon. I want it for antimonial wine."