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  • 1852
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“I was,” replied the hackman.

“Did you get any passengers?”

“No, sir.”

“Did you see any thing of a lady with a child?”

The hackman thought for a little while, and then replied–

“Yes, I did. There was a lady and a child, nearly the last on the boat. John Murphy drove them away.”

“Where can I find John Murphy?” eagerly enquired Mr. Lane.

“He’s probably on the stand.”

“Drive me there if you please.” And he sprang into the carriage.

In a few minutes they were at a carriage stand; and Mr. Lane heard the driver call out, as he reined up his horses–“Hallo! there, John Murphy! here’s a gentleman who wants to see you.”

The person addressed came up as Mr. Lane descended from the carriage.

“I understand,” said Lane, “that you received a lady and child in your carriage, last night, from the New York line. Where did you take them?”

“Who said that I did?” boldly inquired the man addressed.

“I said so!” as firmly replied the driver who had given the information to Mr. Lane. “What interest have you in denying it?”

Murphy evinced some surprise at this, and looked a little dashed, but repeated his denial.

A new fear instantly seized Mr. Lane. His wife might have been entrapped into some den of infamy, through means of the driver she had employed to convey her to an hotel. The thought affected him like an electric shock.

“You are certain of what you say?” asked Mr. Lane, turning to the hackman he had employed.

“Certain,” was answered positively.

“Is there a police officer near at hand?” was the next inquiry. This was intended as no threat; and Murphy understood its meaning.

The eyes of Mr. Lane were fixed on his face, and he saw in it a guilty change. No reply being made to the question about a police officer, Mr. Lane said, addressing the accused hackman–

“If you wish to escape trouble, take me instantly to the house where I can find the lady you took from the boat last night. She is my wife, and I will go through fire and water to find her; and let him who stands in my way take the consequences.”

Murphy now drew Mr. Lane aside, and said a few words to him hurriedly.

“Can I depend upon what you say?” eagerly asked the latter.

“Yes, upon honour!” replied the hackman.

“You must go with me,” said Lane.

“I cannot leave the stand.”

“I will call a policeman and compel you to go with me, if you don’t accompany me peaceably. As I live, I will not part from you until I find her! Take your choice–go quietly, or under compulsion.”

There was a fierce energy in the excited man that completely subdued the Irish hackman, who, after a further, though feeble remonstrance, got into the carriage with Mr. Lane, and was driven off. The course taken was out–street. Some distance beyond Washington Square, the carriage stopped before a house, in which Mr. Lane was informed that he would find the woman whom Murphy had taken from the boat the night before. He stepped out quickly, and, as he sprang across the pavement, Murphy, who was out of the carriage almost as soon as he was, glided around the corner of a street, and was beyond recall. A quick jerk of the bell was answered by a female servant, who held the door only partly open, while Lane addressed her.

“Wasn’t there a woman and child brought here last night?” said he, in an agitated manner.

“No, sir,” replied the girl; and, as she spoke, she made an attempt to close the door, seeing which, Mr. Lane thrust a part of his body in and prevented the movement.

“Are you certain?” he asked.

“I am,” was positively answered, while the girl strove to shut the door by forcing it against Mr. Lane. At this moment something like a smothered cry from within reached his ears, when, throwing open the door with a sudden application of strength that prostrated the girl, he stepped over her body and entered the vestibule. Just then there arose a wild cry for help! He knew the voice; it came from one of the parlours, into which he rushed. There he saw his wife struggling in the arms of a woman and a man, while his frightened child stood near, white and speechless with terror. As he entered, Amanda saw him.

“Oh, my husband!” she exclaimed. In a moment she was released, and the man and woman fled from the room, but not before the face of the former was fully recognised by Mr. Lane.

Little Mary had already sprung to her father, and was quivering and panting on his breast.

“Oh! take me away quickly–quickly!” cried Mrs. Lane, staggering towards her husband and falling into his arms.

Without waiting for explanations, Mr. Lane went from the house with his wife and child, and, placing them in the carriage at the door, was driven to an hotel.

The reader doubtless understands the scene we have just described. The man named Bond was in the act of carrying out his threat to remove Mrs. Lane to a chamber by force when her husband appeared.

Of all that passed between the severely-tried husband and wife after their meeting, it behooves us not to write. The circumstances we have detailed were exceedingly painful to the parties most interested; but their effect, like the surgeon’s knife, was salutary. Mr. Lane afterwards regarded his wife from an entirely different point of view, and found her a very different woman from what he had at first believed her to be. He saw in her a strength of character and a clearness of intellect for which he had never given her credit; and, from looking down upon her as a child or an inferior, came to feel towards her as an equal.

His indignation at the treatment she had received in Philadelphia was extreme. The man named Bond he knew very well, and he at first determined to call him to account personally; but as this would lead to a mortifying notoriety and exposure of the whole affair, he was reluctantly induced to keep silence. Bond has never crossed his way since: it might not be well for him to do so.

Some years have passed. No one who meets Mr. and Mrs. Lane, at home or abroad, would dream that, at one time, they were driven asunder by a strong repulsion. Few are more deeply attached, or happier in their domestic relations; but neither trespasses on the other’s rights, nor interferes with the other’s prerogative. Mutual deference, confidence, respect, and love, unite them with a bond that cannot again be broken.

THE INVALID WIFE.

“MY poor head! It seems as if it would burst!” murmured Mrs. Bain, as she arose from a stooping position, and clasped her temples with both hands. She was engaged in dressing a restless, fretful child, some two or three years old. Two children had been washed and dressed, and this was the last to be made ready for breakfast.

As Mrs. Bain stood, with pale face, closed eyes, and tightly compressed lips, still clasping her throbbing temples, the bell announcing the morning meal was rung. The sound caused her to start, and she said, in a low and fretful voice–

“There’s the breakfast bell; and Charley isn’t ready yet; nor have I combed my hair. How my head does ache! I am almost blind with the pain.”

Then she resumed her work of dressing Charley, who struggled, cried, and resisted, until she was done.

Mr. Bain was already up and dressed. He was seated in the parlour, enjoying his morning paper, when the breakfast bell rang. The moment he heard the sound, he threw down his newspaper, and, leaving the parlour, ascended to the dining-room. His two oldest children were there, ready to take their places at the table.

“Where’s your mother?” he inquired of one of them.

“She’s dressing Charley,” was answered.

“Never ready in time,” said Mr. Bain, to himself, impatiently. He spoke in an under tone.

For a few moments he stood with his hands on the back of his chair. Then he walked twice the length of the dining-room; and then he went to the door and called–

“Jane! Jane! Breakfast is on the table.”

“I’ll be there in a minute,” was replied by Mrs. Bain.

“Oh, yes! I know something about your minutes.” Mr. Bain said this to himself. “This never being in time annoys me terribly. I’m always ready. I’m always up to time. But there’s no regard to time in this house.”

Mrs. Bain was still struggling with her cross and troublesome child, when the voice of her impatient husband reached her. The sound caused a throb of intenser pain to pass through her aching head.

“Jane, make haste! Breakfast is all getting cold, and I’m in a hurry to go away to business,” was called once more.

“Do have a little patience. I’ll be there in a moment,” replied Mrs. Bain.”

“A moment! This is always the way.”

And Mr. Bain once more paced backwards and forwards.

Meantime the wife hurriedly completed her own toilet, and then repaired to the dining-room. She was just five minutes too late.

One glance at her pale, suffering face should have changed to sympathy and pity the ill-humour of her thoughtless, impatient husband. But it was not so. The moment she appeared, he said–

“This is too bad, Jane! I’ve told you, over and over, that I don’t like to wait after the bell rings. My mother was always promptly at her place, and I’d like my wife to imitate so good an example.”

Perhaps nothing could have hurt Mrs. Bain more than such a cruel reference of her husband to his mother, coupled with so unfeeling a declaration of his will concerning her–as if she were to be the mere creature of his will.

A sharp reply was on the tongue of Mrs. Bain; but she kept it back. The pain in her head subsided all at once; but a weight and oppression in her breast followed that was almost suffocating.

Mr. Bain drank his coffee, and eat his steak and toast, with a pretty fair relish; for he had a good appetite and a good digestion–and was in a state of robust health. But Mrs. Bain ate nothing. How could she eat? And yet, it is but the truth to say, that her husband, who noticed the fact, attributed her abstinence from food more to temper than want of appetite. He was aware that he had spoken too freely, and attributed the consequent change in his wife’s manner to anger rather than a wounded spirit.

“Do you want any thing?” asked Mr. Bain, on rising from the table and turning to leave the room. He spoke with more kindness than previously.

“No,” was the wife’s brief answer, made without lifting her eyes to her husband’s face.

“In the sulks!”

Mr. Bain did not say this aloud, but such was his thought, as he turned away and left the house. He did not feel altogether comfortable, of course. No man feels comfortable while there is a cloud upon the brow of his wife, whether it be occasioned by peevishness, ill-temper, bodily or mental suffering. No, Mr. Bain did not feel altogether comfortable, nor satisfied with himself, as he walked along to his store; for there came across his mind a dim recollection of having heard the baby fretting and crying during the night; and also of having seen the form of his wife moving to and fro in the chamber, while he lay snugly reposing in bed.

But these were unpleasant images, and Mr. Bain thrust them from his mind.

While Mr. Bain took his morning walk to his store, his lungs freely and pleasurably expanding in the pure, invigorating air, his wife, to whose throbbing temples the anguish had returned, and whose relaxed muscles had scarcely enough tension to support the weight of her slender frame, slowly and painfully began the work of getting her two oldest children ready for school. This done, the baby had to be washed and dressed. It screamed during the whole operation, and when, at last, it fell asleep upon her bosom, she was so completely exhausted, that she had to lie down. Tears wet her pillow as she lay with her babe upon her arm. He, to whom alone she had a right to look for sympathy, for support, and for strength in her many trials, did not appear to sympathize with her in the least. If she looked sober from the pressure of pain, fatigue, or domestic trials, he became impatient, and sometimes said, with cruel thoughtlessness, that he was tired of clouds and rain, and would give the world for a wife who could smile now and then. If, amid her many household cares and duties, she happened to neglect some little matter that affected his comfort, he failed not to express his annoyance, and not always in carefully chosen words. No wonder that her woman’s heart melted–no wonder that hot tears were on her cheeks.

Mr. Bain had, as we have said, an excellent appetite; and he took especial pleasure in its gratification. He liked his dinner particularly, and his dinners were always good dinners. He went to market himself. On his way to his store he passed through the market, and his butcher sent home what he purchased.

“The marketing has come home,” said the cook to Mrs. Bain, about ten o’clock, arousing her from a brief slumber into which she had fallen–a slumber that exhausted nature demanded, and which would have done far more than medicine for the restoration of something like a healthy tone to her system.

“Very well. I will come down in a little while,” returned Mrs. Bain, raising herself on her elbow, and see about dinner. What has Mr. Bain sent home?”

“A calf’s head.”

“What!”

“A calf’s head.”

“Very well. I will be down to see about it.” Mrs. Bain repressed any further remark.

Sick and exhausted as she felt, she must spend at least two hours in the kitchen in making soup and dressing the calf’s head for her husband’s dinner. Nothing of this could be trusted to the cook, for to trust any part of its preparation to her was to have it spoiled.

With a sigh, Mrs. Bain arose from the bed. At first she staggered across the room like one intoxicated, and the pain, which had subsided during her brief slumber, returned again with added violence. But, really sick as she felt, she went down to the kitchen and passed full two hours there in the preparation of delicacies for her husband’s dinner. And what was her reward?

“This is the worst calf’s head soup you ever made. What have you done to it?” said Mr. Bain, pushing the plate of soup from before him, with an expression of disgust on his face.

There were tears in the eyes of the suffering wife, and she lifted them to her husband’s countenance. Steadily she looked at him for a few moments; then her lips quivered, and the tears fell over her cheeks. Hastily rising, she left the dining room.

“It is rather hard that I can’t speak without having a scene,” muttered Mr. Bain, as he tried his soup once more. It did not suit his taste at all; so he pushed it from him, and made his dinner of something else.

As his wife had been pleased to go off up-stairs in a huff, just at a word, Mr. Bain did not feel inclined to humour her. So, after finishing his dinner, he took his hat and left the house, without so much as seeking to offer a soothing word.

Does the reader wonder that, when Mr. Bain returned in the evening, he found his wife so seriously ill as to make it necessary to send for their family physician? No, the reader will not wonder at this.

But Mr. Bain felt a little surprised. He had not anticipated any thing of the kind.

Mrs. Bain was not only ill, but delirious. Her feeble frame, exhausted by maternal duties, and ever-beginning, never-ending household cares, had yielded under the accumulation of burdens too heavy to bear.

For a while after Mr. Bain’s return, his wife talked much, but incoherently; then she became quiet. But her fever remained high, and inflammation tended strongly towards the brain. He was sitting by the bedside about ten o’clock, alone with her, when she began to talk in her wandering way again; but her words were distinct and coherent.

“I tried to do it right,” said she, sadly; “but my head ached so that I did not know what I was doing. Ah me! I never please him now in any thing. I wish I could always look pleasant–cheerful. But I can’t. Well! well! it won’t last for ever. I never feel well–never–never–never! And I’m so faint and weak in the morning! But he has no patience with me. _He_ doesn’t know what it is to feel sick. Ah me!”

And her voice sighed itself away into silence.

With what a rebuking force did these words fall upon the ears of Mr. Bain! He saw himself in a new light. He was the domestic tyrant, and not the kind and thoughtful husband.

A few days, and Mrs. Bain was moving about her house and among her children once more, pale as a shadow, and with lines of pain upon her fore-head. How differently was she now treated by her husband! With what considerate tenderness he regarded her! But, alas! he saw his error too late! The gentle, loving creature, who had come to his side ten years before, was not much longer to remain with him. A few brief summers came and went, and then her frail body was laid amid the clods of the valley.

Alas! how many, like Mrs. Bain, have thus passed away, who, if truly loved and cared for, would have been the light of now darkened hearths, and the blessing and joy of now motherless children and bereaved husbands!

THE FIRST AND LAST QUARREL.

“IF I am his wife, I am not his slave!” said young Mrs. Huntley, indignantly. “It was more than he dared do a month ago.”

“If you love me, Esther, don’t talk in this way,” said Mrs. Carlisle.

“Am I his slave aunt?” and the young bride drew herself up, while her eyes flashed.

“No, Esther, you are his wife.”

“To be loved, and not commanded! That is the difference, and he has got to learn it.”

“Were Edward to see and hear you now, do you think your words, manner, and expression would inspire him with any new affection for you?”

“I have nothing to do with that. I only express a just indignation, and that is a right I did not alienate when I consented to become his wife.”

“You are a silly girl, Esther,” said Mrs. Carlisle, “and I am afraid will pay dear for your folly. Edward has faults, and so have you. If you understood the duties and responsibilities of your position, and felt the true force of your marriage vows, you would seek to bend into better forms the crooked branches of your husband’s hereditary temper, rather than commit an irreparable injury by roughly breaking them. I was not pleased with Edward’s manner of speaking; but I must admit that he had provocation: that you were first, and, therefore, most to blame.”

“I objected to going with him to the opera, because I particularly wanted to call and see Anna Lewis to-night. I had made up my mind to this, and when I make up my mind to any thing I do not like to be turned from my purpose.”

“Edward resembles you rather too much in that respect. Therefore, there must be a disposition to yielding and self-denial on one side or the other, or unhappiness will follow. Hitherto, as far as I have been able to see, the yielding has all been on the part of Edward, who has given up to you in everything. And now, when he shows that he has a will of his own, you become very indignant, and talk bout not being his slave.”

“It is too bad for you to speak so, aunt! You never think I do any thing right.” And Esther burst into tears.

Meantime, Edward Huntley, the husband, was at the opera, listening to, but not enjoying, the beauties Norma. It was only a month since he had led to the altar his beautiful bride, and felt himself the happiest man in the world. Before marriage, he thought only of how he should please Esther. The preference of his own wishes to hers was felt as no sacrifice. But, after the hymeneal contract had been gratified, his feelings began gradually to change. What he had yielded in kindness was virtually demanded as a right, and against this, the moment it was perceived, his spirit rose in rebellion. In several instances, he gave way to what savoured, much more than he liked, of imperiousness.

Norma had just been brought out, and received with unprecedented favour. The newspapers were filled with its praises, and the beauties of the opera were spoken of by every one. A friend lauded it with more than usual enthusiasm, on the day it was advertised for a third performance.

“You haven’t heard it yet!” said he, with surprise, on learning that Huntley had yet to enjoy that pleasure.

“No, but I think I will buy tickets for to-night.”

“Do by all means! And get them at once, or you will not be able to secure a seat.”

It was in the afternoon, and Huntley could not ask his young wife about it, unless he made a special errand home, which, as he lived some distance away from his office, would be inconvenient. Not in the least doubting, however, that Esther would be pleased to go to the opera, as she had more than once expressed a wish to see and hear Norma, he secured tickets and considered the matter settled.

Now that the gratification of hearing the opera was so near at hand, Huntley kept thinking of the enjoyment he was to have, and wishing for the time to pass more rapidly. He pictured, too, the pleasure that Esther would feel and express when she found that he had procured tickets. Half an hour earlier than usual he was at home. He found Esther and her aunt, Mrs. Carlisle, with whom they were living, in the parlour.

“We are going to see Norma to-night,” said Huntley, in a gay voice, and with a broad smile upon his face, as he sat down beside Esther and took her hand.

“_We_ are?”

The tone and look with which this was said chilled the warm feelings of the young man.

“_I_ am, at least,” said he, in a changed voice.

“And _I_ am not,” as promptly, and much more decidedly, replied Esther.

“Oh, yes you are.” This was said with a suddenly assumed, half playful, yet earnest manner. “I have bought tickets, and we will go to-night.”

“The least you could have done was to have asked me before you bought tickets,” returned Esther. “I wish to go somewhere else to-night.”

“But, as I have the tickets now, you will go, of course. To-morrow night will do as well for a visit.”

“I wish to make it to-night.”

“Esther, you are unreasonable.” Huntley knit his brows and compressed his lips.

“We are quite even then.” The pretty lip of the bride curled.

“Esther!” said Huntley, assuming a calm but cold exterior, and speaking in a firm voice. “I have bought tickets for the opera to-night, thinking that to go would give you pleasure, and now my wish is that you accompany me.”

“A wish that you will certainly not have gratified. I believe I am your wife, not your slave to command.”

There was something so cutting in the way this was said, that Huntley could not bear it. Without a word he arose, and, taking his hat, left the house. In a fever of excitement he walked the street for an hour and a half, and then, scarcely reflecting upon what he did, went to the opera. But the music was discord in his ears, and he left before the performance was half over.

The moment Esther heard the street-door close upon her husband, she arose and went from the room where she was sitting with her aunt, moving erect and with a firm step. Mrs. Carlisle did not see her for two hours. The tea bell rang, but she did not come down from her chamber, where, as the aunt supposed, she was bitterly repenting what she had done. In this, however, she was mistaken, as was proved, when, on joining her in her room for the purpose of striving to console her, the conversation with which our story opens took place.

When the fit of weeping with which Esther received the reproof her aunt felt called upon to give, had subsided, Mrs. Carlisle said, in a most solemn and impressive manner,

“What has occurred this evening may prove the saddest event of your whole life. There is no calculating the result. No matter whose the fault, the consequences that follow may be alike disastrous to the happiness of both. Are you prepared, thus early, for a sundering of the sacred bonds that have united you? And yet, even this may follow. It has followed with others, and may follow with you. Oh! the consequences of a first quarrel! Who can anticipate them?”

The voice of Mrs. Carlisle trembled, and then sank almost into a sob. Her manner more than her words startled Esther.

“What do you mean, aunt?” said she.

But her aunt was too much disturbed to speak for some minutes.

“Esther,” she at length said, speaking in a voice that still trembled, “I knew a girl, who, at your age, married an excellent, but proud-spirited young man. Like Edward, the lover yielded too much when, as the husband, he began to be a little less considerate, and to act as if he had a will of his own, his wife set herself against him just as you set yourself against Edward. This chafed him, although he strove to conceal his feelings. But, in an un- guarded moment, when his young wife was unusually self-willed, a quarrel of no more serious character than the one that has occurred this evening, between you and Edward, took place. They parted in anger as you parted, and–“

The aunt was unable for some time to control her voice sufficiently to finish the sentence–

“And never met again,” she at length said, with such visible emotion as betrayed more than she had wished to reveal.

“Never met again!” ejaculated Esther, a sudden fear trembling through her heart, and causing her cheeks to grow pale.

“Never!” was the solemn response.

“Why, dear aunt? Why?” eagerly inquired Esther.

“Pride caused him,” said Mrs. Carlisle, recovering her self-possession, “after a breach had been made, to leave not only his home, but the city in which he lived. Repenting of her ungenerous contact, his bride waited anxiously for his return at evening, but waited it vain. Sadly enough passed the lonely hours of that dreadful night, and morning found her a sleepless watcher. Days passed, but no word came from the unhappy wanderer from home and love. A week, and still all was silence and mystery. At the end of that time a letter was received from a neighbouring city, which brought intelligence to his friends that he was there, and lying dangerously ill. By the next conveyance his almost frantic wife started for the purpose of joining him. Alas! she was too late. When she stood beside the bed upon which he lay, she looked only upon the inanimate form of her husband. Death had been there before her. Esther! thirty years have passed since then, but the anguish I felt when I stood and looked upon the cold, dead, face of my husband, in that terrible hour, time has not altogether obliterated!”

Esther had risen to her feet, and now stood with her pale lips parted, and her cheeks blanched to an ashy whiteness.

“Dear aunt is all this true?” she asked huskily, while she grasped the arm of her relative.

“Heaven knows it is too true, my child! It was the first and, the last quarrel I had with my husband. And now, as you value your own and Edward’s peace of mind, be warned by my sad example, and let the present unhappy difference that has occurred be quickly reconciled. Acknowledge your error the moment you see him, and make a firm resolution that you will, under no circumstances, permit the slightest misunderstanding again to take place. Yield to him, and you will find him ready as before to yield to you. What he was not ready to give under the force of a demand, love will prompt him cheerfully to render.”

“Oh! if Edward should never return!” Esther said, clasping her hands together. She had scarcely heard the last sentence of her aunt.

“You need not fear on that account, my child,” replied Mrs. Carlisle, in a voice meant to inspire confidence. “Edward will no doubt return. Few men act so rashly as to separate themselves at the first misunderstanding, although, too often, the first quarrel is but the prelude to others of a more violent kind, that end in severing the most sacred of all bonds, or rendering the life that might have been one of the purest felicity, an existence of misery. When Edward comes home to-night, forget every thing but your own error, and freely confess that. Then, all will be sunshine in a moment, although the light will fall and sparkle upon dewy tear-drops.”

“I was mad to treat him so!” was Esther’s response to this, as she paced the floor, with uneasy step. “Oh! if he should never return.”

Once possessed with the idea that he would not return, the poor wife was in an agony of fear. No suggestion made by her aunt in the least relieved her mind. One thought–one fear–absorbed every thing else. Thus passed the evening, until ten o’clock came. From that time Esther began to listen anxiously for her husband’s return, but hour after hour went by, and she was still a tearful watcher.

“I shall go mad if I sit here any longer!” murmured Huntley to himself, as the music came rushing upon his agitated soul, in a wild tempest, toward the middle of the opera, and, rising abruptly, he retired from the theatre. How still appeared the half deserted streets! Coldly the night air fell upon him, but the fever in his veins was unabated. He walked first up one street and then down another, with rapid steps, and this was continued for hours. Then the thought of going home crossed his mind. But he set his teeth firmly, and murmured audibly,

“Oh! to be defied, and charged with being a tyrant? And has it come to this so soon?”

The more Huntley brooded, in this unhappy mood, over his wife’s words and conduct, the denser and more widely refracting became the medium through which he saw. His pride continually excited his mind, and threw a thick veil over all the gentler emotions of his heart. He was beside himself.

At one o’clock he found himself standing in front of the United States Hotel, his mind made up to desert the affectionate young creature, who, in a moment of thoughtlessness, had set her will in opposition to his,–to leave the city, under an assumed name, by the earliest lines, and go, he knew not nor cared not where. Blind passion was his prompter and guide. In this feverish state he entered the hotel and called for a bed.

Eleven, twelve, one o’clock came, and found Mrs. Huntley in a state of wild agitation. Edward had not yet returned. The silence and evident distress of Mrs. Carlisle struck down the heart of Esther, almost as much as her own fears. The too vivid recollection of one terrible event in her own life completely unbalanced the aunt’s mind, and took away all power to sustain her niece.

“I will go in search of him, aunt!” exclaimed Esther, as the clock struck two. “He cannot leave the city before daylight. I will find him, and confess all my folly before it is too late.”

“But where will you go, my child?” Mrs. Carlisle asked in a sad voice.

“Where–where shall I go?” eagerly inquired Mrs. Huntley.

“It is midnight, Esther. You cannot find him now.”

“But I must see him before he leaves me, perhaps for ever! It will kill me. If I wait until morning, it will be too late.”

Mrs. Carlisle bent her eyes to the floor, and for the space of more than a minute remained in deep thought. She then said, in a calm voice,

“Esther, I cannot believe that Edward will desert you on so slight a provocation. For a few hours his mind may be blinded with passion, and be swayed by false judgment. But morning will find him cooler and more reflective. He will see his error, and repent of any mad act he may have contemplated. Still, to guard against the worst of consequences, should this salutary change not take place, I think it would be best for you to go early to the boat, and by meeting him prevent a step that may cost you each a life of wretchedness.”

“I will do it! He shall not go away! Oh! if I could once more meet him! all would be reconciled on the instant.”

Confident in her own mind that Edward had determined to go away from the city in the morning, and fully resolved upon what she would do, Esther threw herself upon the bed, and in snatches of uneasy slumber passed the remainder of that dreadful night. At day-dawn she was up, and making preparations for going to the boat to intercept her husband.

“Be self-possessed, my dear niece,” urged Mrs. Carlisle, in a voice that trembled so she could scarcely speak.

Esther tried to reply, but, though her lips and tongue moved, there was no utterance. Turning away, just as the sun threw his first rays into her chamber window, she went down stairs, and her aunt, no longer able to restrain herself, covered her face with her hands and wept.

On the day before, Esther had laid her gloves on one of the parlour mantels, and she went in to get them. It was so dark that she could not see, and she, therefore, opened a window and pushed back one of the shutters. As she did so, a sound between a sigh and a groan fell upon her ear, and caused her to turn with a start. There lay her husband, asleep upon one of the sofas! A wild cry that she could not restrain burst from her lips, and, springing toward him, she threw her arms about his neck as he arose, startled, from his recumbent position.

An hour’s reflection, alone in the room he had taken at the hotel, satisfied Huntley that he was wrong in not going home. By the aid of his night key he entered, silently, at the very time his wife resolved to seek him in the morning, and, throwing himself upon a sofa in the parlour to think what he should next do, thought himself to sleep.

All was, of course, reconciled. With tears of joy and contrition Esther acknowledged the error she had committed. Huntley had his own share of blame in his impatient temper, and this he was also ready to confess He did not, however, own that he had thought of deserting his wife on such slight provocation, nor did she confess the fearful suspicion that had crossed her mind.

It was their first and last quarrel.

GUESS WHO IT IS!

“IT will be great deal better for us, Lizzy. America is a country where all things are in full and plenty; but here we are ground down to the earth and half-starved by the rich and great in order that they may become richer and greater. I isn’t so there, Lizzy. Don’t you remember what John McClure wrote home, six months after he crossed the ocean?”

“Yes, I remember all that, Thomas; but John McClure was never a very truthful body at home and I’ve always thought that if we knew every thing, we would find that he wrote with his magnifying glasses on. John, you know, was very apt to see things through magnifying glasses.”

“But the testimony doesn’t come alone from John. We hear it every day and from every quarter, that America is a perfect paradise for the poor, compared to England.”

“I don’t know how that can be, Thomas. They say that it is full of wild beast poisonous serpents, and savage Indians, and that the people are in constant fear of their lives. I’m sure England is a better place than that, even if we do have to work hard and get but little for it.”

“All that used to be, Lizzy,” replied Thomas. “But they’ve killed the wild beasts and serpents, and tamed the savage Indians. And there are great cities there, the same as in England.”

But Lizzy could not be convinced. From her earliest childhood she had never had but one idea of America, and that was as a great wilderness filled with Indians and wild beasts. Of the former, she had heard tales that made her blood curdle in her veins. It was in vain, therefore, for Thomas Ward to argue with his wife about going to America. She was not to be convinced that a waste, howling wilderness was at all comparable with happy old England, even if the poor were “ground down.”

As a dozen previous discussions on the subject had ended, so ended this. Thomas Ward was of the same mind as before, and so was his wife. The one wished to go, and the other to stay.

Ward had only been married a short time, but the period, short as it was, proved long enough to bring a sad disappointment of his worldly hopes. He had been employed as a gentleman’s gardener for many years, and had been able, by strict economy, to lay up a little money. But soon after his, marriage, through some slight misunderstanding he lost his place, and had not since been able to obtain any thing more than transient employment, the return from which had, so far, proved inadequate to the maintenance of himself and wife, requiring him to draw steadily upon the not very large fund that was deposited in the Savings’ Bank.

About once a fortnight Thomas would become completely discouraged, and then he invariably introduced his favourite project of going to America; but Lizzy always met him when in this mood with a decided negative, as far as she was concerned and sometimes went so far as to say, when he grew rather warm on the subject–“It’s no use to talk about it, Thomas; I shall never go to America, that’s decided.”

This, instead of being a settler, as Lizzy supposed it would be, only proved a silencer. Thomas would instantly waive all present reference to the subject. But the less he talked, the more he thought about the land of plenty beyond the ocean; and the oftener Lizzy said she would never go to America, the more earnest became his desire to go, and the more fully formed his resolution to emigrate while possessed the ability to do so. He did not like Lizzy’s mode of silencing him when he talked about his favourite theme. He had certain primitive notions about a wife’s submission of herself to her husband, and it not only fretted him, but made him a little resolute on the subject of going to America when Lizzy declared herself determined not to go.

One day Ward came home with brows knit more closely than usual, and a firmer and more decided expression upon his tightly-closed lips.

“What’s the matter now, Thomas?” asked his wife.

The “now” indicated that Thomas had something to trouble him, more or less, nearly all the time.

“The matter is, that I’m going to America!” returned Ward, in an angry tone of voice. “If you won’t wish to go, you will only have to stay where you are. But I’ve made up my mind to sail in the next ship.”

Ward had never spoken to his young wife in such harsh, angry, rebuking tone of voice since they were married. But the import of what he said was worse than his manner of saying it. Going to America–and going whether she chose to go with him or remain behind! What was this less than desertion? But Lizzy had pride and firmness as tell as acute sensibilities. The latter she controlled by means of the former, and, with unexpected coolness, replied–“Well, Thomas, if you wish to leave me, I have nothing to say. As to that savage country, I say now only what I have said before–I cannot go.”

“Very well; I am not going to stay here and starve.”

“We haven’t starved yet, Thomas,” spoke up Lizzy.

“No, thanks to my prudence in saving every dollar I could spare while a bachelor! But we’re in a fair way for it now. Every week we are going behindhand, and if we stay here much longer we shall neither have the means of living nor getting away. I’ve finished my job, and cannot get another stroke to do.”

“Something will turn up, Thomas; don’t be impatient.”

“Impatient!” ejaculated Ward.

“Yes, impatient, Thomas,” coolly said his wife. “You are in a very strange way. Only wait a little while, and all will come right.”

“Lizzy,” said Thomas Ward, suddenly growing calm, and speaking slowly and with marked emphasis–“I’ve decided upon going to America. If you will go with me, as a loving and obedient wife should, I shall be glad of your company; but if you prefer to remain here, I shall lay no commands upon you. Will you or will you not go? Say at a word.”

Lizzy had a spice of independence about her, as well as a good share of pride. The word “obedience,” as applied to a wife, had never accorded much with her taste, and the use of it made on the present occasion by her husband was particularly offensive to her. So she replied, without pausing to reflect–“I have already told you that I am not going to America.”

“Very well, Lizzy,” replied Thomas, in a voice that was considerably softened, “I leave you to your own choice, notwithstanding the vow you made on that happy morning. My promise was to love you and to keep you in sickness and in health, but though I may love you as well in old England as in a far-off country, I cannot perform that other promise so well. So I must e’en leave you with my heart’s best blessing, and a pledge that you shall want for no earthly comfort while I have a hand to work.”

And saying this, Thomas Ward left the presence of his wife, and started forth to walk and to think. On his return, he found Lizzy sitting by the window with her hands covering her face, and the tears making their way through her fingers. He said nothing, but he had a hope that she would change her mind and go with him when the time came. In a little while Lizzy was able to control herself, and move silently about her domestic duties; but her husband looked into her face for some sign of a relenting purpose, and looked in vain.

On the next day, Ward said to his wife–“I’ve engaged my passage in the Shamrock, that sails from Liverpool for New York in a week.”

Lizzy started, and a slight shiver ran through; her body; but a cold “Very well” was the only reply she made.

“I will leave twenty pounds in the Savings’ Bank for you to draw out as you need. Before that is gone, I hope to be able to send you more money.”

Lizzy made no answer to this, nor did she display any feeling, although, as she afterwards owned, she felt as if she would have sunk through the floor, and sorely repented having said that she would not go with her husband to America.

The week that intervened between that time and the sailing of the Shamrock passed swiftly away. Lizzy wished a hundred times that her husband would refer to his intended voyage across the sea, and ask her again if she would not go with him. But Thomas Ward had no more to say upon the subject. At least as often as three times had his wife refused to accompany him to a land where there was plenty of work and good wages, and he was firm in his resolution not to ask her again.

As the time approached nearer and nearer, Lizzy’s heart sank lower and lower in her bosom; still she cherished all possible justifying reasons for her conduct, and sometimes had bitter thoughts against her husband. She called him, in her mind, arbitrary and tyrannical, and charged him with wishing to make her the mere slave of his will. As for Ward he also indulged in mental criminations, and tried his best to believe that Lizzy had no true affection for him, that she was selfish, self-willed, and the dear knows what all.

Thus stood affairs when the day came upon which the Shamrock was to sail, and Ward must leave in the early train of cars for Liverpool, to be on board at the hour of starting. Lizzy had done little but cry all night, and Thomas had lain awake thinking of the unnatural separation, and listening to his wife’s but half-stifled sobs that ever and anon broke the deep silence of their chamber. At last daylight came, and Ward left his sleepless pillow to make hurried preparations for his departure. His wife arose also, and got ready his breakfast. The hour of separation at length came.

“Lizzy,” said the unhappy but firm-hearted man, “we must now part. Whether we shall ever meet again, Heaven only knows. I do not wish to blame you in this trying moment, in this hour of grief to both, but I must say that–No, no!” suddenly checking himself, “I will say nothing that may seem unkind. Farewell! If ever your love for your husband should become strong enough to make you willing to share his lot in a far-off and stranger land, his arms and heart will be open to receive you.”

Ward was holding the hand of his wife and looking into her face, over which tears, in spite of all her efforts to control herself, were falling. The impulse in Lizzy’s heart was to throw herself into her husband’s arms; but, as that would have been equivalent to giving up, and saying–“I must go with you, go where you will,” she braved it out up to the last moment, and stood the final separation without trusting her voice in the utterance of a single word.

“God bless you, Lizzy!” were the parting words of the unhappy emigrant, as he wrung the passive hand of his wife, and then forced himself away.

The voyage to New York was performed in five weeks. On his arrival in that city, Ward sought among his countrymen for such information as would be useful to him in obtaining employment. By some of these, the propriety of advertising was suggested. Ward followed the suggestion, and by so doing happily obtained, within a week after his arrival, the offer of a good situation as overseer and gardener upon a large farm fifty miles from the city. The wages were far better than any he had received in England.

“Are you a single man?” asked the sturdy old farmer, after Ward had been a day or two at his new home.

“No, sir; I have a wife in the old country,” he replied, with a slight appearance of confusion.

“Have you? Well, Thomas, why didn’t you bring her along?”

“She was not willing to come to this country,” returned Thomas.

“Then why did you come?”

“Because it was better to do so than to starve where I was.”

“It doesn’t matter about your wife, I suppose?”

“Why not?” Thomas spoke quickly, and knit his brows.

“If _you_ couldn’t live in England, what is your _wife_ to do?”

“I shall send her half of my wages.”

“Ah, that’s the calculation, is it? But it seems to me that it would have been a saving in money as well as comfort, if she had come with you. Does she know any thing about dairy work?”

“Yes, sir; she was raised on a dairy farm.”

“Then she’s a regular-bred English dairy maid?”

“She is, and none better in the world.”

“Just the person I want. You must write home for her, Thomas, and tell her she must come over immediately.”

But Thomas shook his head.

“Won’t she come?”

“I cannot tell. But she refused to come with me, although I repeatedly urged her. She must now take her own course. I felt, it to be my duty to her as well as to myself, to leave England for a better land; and if she thinks it her duty to stay behind, I must bear the separation the best way I can.”

“I hope you had no quarrel, Thomas?” said the farmer, in his blunt way.

“No, sir,” said Thomas, a little indignantly. “We never had the slightest difference, except in this matter.”

“Then write home by the next steamer and ask her to join you, and she will be here by the earliest packet, and glad to come.”

But Thomas shook his head. The man had his share of stubborn pride.

“As you will,” said the farmer. “But I can tell you what, if she’d been my wife, I’d have taken her under my arm and brought her along in spite of all objections. It’s too silly, this giving up to and being fretted about a woman’s whims and prejudices. I’ll be bound, if you’d told her she must come, and packed her trunk for her to show that you were in earnest, she’d never have dreamed of staying behind.”

That evening Thomas wrote home to his wife all about the excellent place he had obtained, and was particular to say that he had agreed to remain for a year, and would send her half of his wages every month. Not one word, however, did he mention of the conversation that had passed between him and the farmer; nor did he hint, even remotely, to her joining him in the United States.

All the next day Thomas thought about what the farmer had said, and thought how happy both he and Lizzy might be if she would only come over and take charge of the dairy. The longer this idea remained present in his mind, the more deeply did it fix itself there. On the second night he dreamed that Lizzy was with him, that she had come over in the very next packet, and that they were as happy as they could be. He felt very bad when he awoke and found that it was only a dream.

At last, after a week had passed, Thomas Ward fully forgave his wife every thing, and sat himself down to write her a long letter, filled with all kinds of arguments, reasons, and entreaties favourable to a voyage across the Atlantic. Thus he wrote, in part:–

…….”As to wild Indians, Lizzy, of which you have such fear, there are none within a thousand miles, and they are tame enough. The fierce animals are all killed, and I have not seen a single serpent, except a garter snake, that is as harmless as a tow string. Come then, Lizzy, come! I have not known a happy moment since I left you, and I am sure you cannot be happy. This is a land of peace and plenty–a land where–“

Thomas Ward did not know that a stranger had entered the room, and was now looking over his shoulder, and reading what he had written. Just as his pen was on the sentence left unfinished above, a pair of soft hands were suddenly drawn across his eyes, and a strangely familiar voice said, tremblingly–“Guess who it is!”

Before he had time to think or to guess, the hands passed from his eyes to his neck, and a warm wet cheek was laid tightly against his own. He could not see the face that lay so close to his, but he knew that Lizzy’s arms were around him, that her tears were upon his face, and that her heart was beating against him.

“Bless us!” ejaculated the old farmer, who had followed after the young woman who had asked at the door with such an eager interest for Thomas Ward–“what does all this mean?”

By this time Thomas had gained a full view of his wife’s tearful but happy face. Then he hugged her to his bosom over and over again, much to the surprise and delight of the farmer’s urchins, who happened to be in the room.

“Here she is, sir; here she is!” he cried to the farmer, as soon as he could see any thing else but Lizzy’s face, and then first became aware of the old gentleman’s presence; “here is your English dairy maid.”

“Then it’s your wife, Thomas, sure enough.”

“Oh, yes, sir; I thought she would be along after a while, but didn’t expect this happiness so soon.”

“How is this, my young lady?” asked the farmer, good-humouredly–“how is this? I thought you wasn’t going to come to this country. But I suppose the very next packet after your husband left saw you on board. All I blame him for is not taking you under his arm, as I would have done, and bringing you along as so much baggage. But no doubt you found it much pleasanter coming over alone than it would have been in company with your husband–no doubt at all of it.”

The kind-hearted farmer then took his children out of the room, and, closing the door, left the reunited husband and wife alone. Lizzy was too happy to say any thing about how wrong she had been in not consenting to go with her husband; but she owned that he had not been gone five minutes before she would have given the world, if she had possessed it, to have been with him. Ten days afterwards another packet sailed for the United States, and she took passage in it. On arriving in New York she was fortunate enough to fall in with a passenger who had come over in the Shamrock, and from him learned where she could find her husband, who acknowledged that she had given him the most agreeable surprise he had ever known in his life.

Lizzy has never yet had cause to repent of her voyage to America. The money she received for managing the dairy of the old farmer, added to what her husband could save from his salary, after accumulating for some years, was at length applied to the purchase of a farm, the produce of which, sold yearly in New York, leaves them a handsome annual surplus over and above their expenses. Thomas Ward is in a fair way of becoming a substantial and wealthy farmer.

MARRYING A TAILOR.

“KATE, Kate!” said Aunt Prudence, shaking her head and finger at the giddy girl.

“It’s true, aunt. What! marry a tailor? The ninth part of a man, that doubles itself down upon a board, with thimble, scissors, and goose! Gracious!”

“I’ve heard girls talk before now, Kate; and I’ve seen them act, too; and, if I am to judge from what I’ve seen, I should say that you were as likely to marry a tailor as anybody else.”

“I’d hang myself first!”

“Would you?”

“Yes, or jump into the river. Do any thing, in fact, before I’d marry a tailor.”

“Perhaps you would not object to a merchant tailor?”

“Perhaps I would, though! A tailor’s a tailor, and that is all you can make of him. ‘Merchant tailor!’ Why not say merchant shoemaker, or merchant boot-black? Isn’t it ridiculous?”

“Ah well, Kate,” said Aunt Prudence, “you may be thankful if you get an honest, industrious, kind-hearted man for a husband, be he a tailor or a shoemaker. I’ve seen many a heart-broken wife in my day whose husband was not a tailor. It isn’t in the calling, child, that you must look for honour or excellence, but in the man. As Burns says–‘The man’s the goud for a’ that.'”

“But a _man_ wouldn’t stoop to be a tailor.”

“You talk like a thoughtless, silly girl, as you are, Kate. But time will take all this nonsense out of you, or I am very much mistaken. I could tell you a story about marrying a tailor, that would surprise you a little.”

“I should like, above all things in the world, to hear a story of any interest, in which a tailor was introduced.”

“I think I could tell you one.”

“Please do, aunt. It would be such a novelty. A very _rara avis_, as brother Tom says. I shall laugh until my sides ache.”

“If you don’t cry, Kate, I shall wonder,” said Aunt Prudence, looking grave.

“Cry? oh, dear! And all about a tailor! But tell the story, aunt.”

“Some other time, dear.”

“Oh, no. I’m just in the humour to hear it now. I’m as full of fun as I can stick, and shall need all this overflow of spirits to keep me up while listening to the pathetic story of a tailor.”

“Perhaps you are right, Kate. It may require all the spirits you can muster,” returned Aunt Prudence, in a voice that was quite serious. “So I will tell you the story now.”

And Aunt Prudence thus began:

A good many years ago,–I was quite a young girl then,–two children were left orphans, at the age of eleven years. They were twins–brother and sister. Their names I will call Joseph and Agnes Fletcher. The death of their parents left them without friends or relatives; but a kind-hearted tailor and his wife, who lived neighbours, took pity on the children and gave them a home. Joseph was a smart, intelligent lad, and the tailor thought he could do no better by him than to teach him his trade. So he set him to work with the needle, occasionally sent him about on errands, and let him go to school during the slack season. Joseph was a willing boy, as well as attentive, industrious, and apt to learn. He applied himself to his books and also to his work, and thereby gave great satisfaction to the good tailor. Agnes was employed about the house by the tailor’s wife, who treated her kindly.

As Joseph grew older, he became more useful to his master, for he rapidly acquired a knowledge of his trade, and did his work remarkably well. At the same time, a desire to improve his mind made him studious and thoughtful. While other boys were amusing themselves, Joseph was alone with his book. At the age of eighteen he had grown quite tall, and was manly in his appearance. He had already acquired a large amount of information on various subjects, and was accounted by those who knew him a very intelligent young man. About this time, a circumstance occurred that influenced his whole after-life. He had been introduced by a friend to several pleasant families, which he visited regularly. In one of these visits, he met a young lady, the daughter of a dry-goods dealer, toward whom he felt, from the beginning, a strong attachment. Her name was Mary Dielman. Led on by his feelings, he could not help showing her some attention, which she evidently received with satisfaction. One evening, he was sitting near where she was chatting away at a lively rate, in the midst of a gay circle of young girls, and, to his surprise, chagrin, and mortification, heard her ridiculing, as you too often do, the business at which he was serving an apprenticeship.

“Marry a tailor!” he heard her say, in a tone of contempt. “I would drown myself first.”

This was enough. Joseph’s feelings were like the leaves of a sensitive plant. He did not venture near the thoughtless girl during the evening, and whenever they again met, he was distant and formal. Still, the thought of her made the blood flow quicker through his veins, and the sight of her made his heart throb with a sudden bound.

From that time, Joseph, who had looked forward with pleasure to the period when, as a man, he could commence his business, and prosecute it with energy and success, became dissatisfied with the trade he was learning. The contemptuous words of Mary Dielman made him feel that there was something low in the calling of a tailor–something beneath the dignity of a man. He did not reason on the subject; he only felt. Gradually he withdrew himself from society, and shut himself up at home, devoting all his leisure to reading and study. This was continued until he attained the age of manhood, soon after which he procured the situation of clerk in a dry-goods store. At his trade he could easily earn twelve dollars a week; but he left it, because he was silly enough to be ashamed of it, and went into a dry-goods store at a salary of four hundred dollars a year. As a clerk he felt more like a man. Why he should, is more than I can comprehend. But so it was.

As for Mary Dielman, she was not aware, at the time when she felt so pleased with the attentions of Joseph Fletcher, that he was a tailor–a calling for which she always expressed the most supreme contempt. Her thoughtless words were not, therefore, meant for his ears. The fact that she had uttered them was not remembered ten minutes after they were spoken. Why she no longer met the fine-looking, attentive and intelligent young man, she did not know. Often she thought of him, and often searched the room for him, with her eyes, when in company.

Nearly four years passed before they again met. Then Joseph was greatly improved, and so was the beautiful maiden. The half-extinguished fire of love, that had been smouldering in their bosoms, rekindled, and now burned with a steady flame. They saw each other frequently, and it was not long before the young man told her all that was in his heart, and she heard the story with tremulous delight.

The father of Mary, although a merchant, was not nearly so well off in the world as many tailors. His family was expensive and drew too heavily upon his income. The capital employed in trade was therefore kept low, and his operations were often crippled for want of adequate means. He had nothing, therefore, to settle upon his daughter. When young Fletcher applied for her hand, his salary was five hundred dollars. Mr. Dielman thought his prospects not over flattering, but still gave his consent; at the same time advising him not to think of marriage for a year or two, when he would no doubt be in a better condition to take a wife.

The young couple, like most young couples, were impatient to be married; and Joseph Fletcher, in order to be in a condition that would justify him in talking a wife, was impatient to go into business. Somehow or other, it had entered his mind that any young man of business capacity and enterprise could do well in the West; and he finally made up his mind to take a stock of goods, which he found no difficulty in obtaining, and go to Madison, in Indiana. Before starting, however, he engaged to return in six months, or so soon as he was fairly under way, and make Mary his wife. At the time named, he was back, when the marriage took place, and he returned with his bride to Madison.

At the trade of a tailor, the young man had served an apprenticeship of seven years. He was a good workman, and had, during the last two years of his apprenticeship, assisted his master in cutting; so that in the art to which he was educated he was thoroughly at home; and, in setting it up, would have been sure of success. But success was by no means so certain a thing in the new pursuit unwisely adopted. He had been familiar with it for only about two years; in that time he had performed his part as a clerk to the entire satisfaction of his employers; but he had not gained sufficient knowledge of the principles of trade, nor was his experience enlarged enough to justify his entering into business, especially as he did not possess a dollar of real capital. The result was as might have been expected. A year and a half of great difficulty and anxiety was all the time required to bring his experiment to a close.

Finding that he was in difficulty, two or three of his principal eastern creditors, whose claims were due, sent out their accounts to a lawyer, With directions to put them in suit immediately. This brought his affairs to a crisis. An arrangement was made for the benefit of all the creditors, and the young man thrown out of business, with less than a hundred dollars in his pocket. Nearly about the same time, Mr. Dielman, the father of his wife, failed likewise.

As a serious loss has been sustained by his eastern creditors on account of the unfortunate termination of his business, Fletcher could not think of going back. He therefore sought to obtain employment as a clerk in Madison. Failing in this, he visited Louisville and Cincinnati, but with no better success. He was unknown in the two last-named cities, and therefore his failure to obtain employment there was no matter of surprise.

Things now wore a very serious aspect. A few weeks found the unhappy young man reduced to the extremity of breaking up and selling his furniture by auction in order to get money to live upon. There was scarcely a store in Madison at which he had not sought for employment. But all his efforts proved vain. He had a good trade; why, you will ask, did he not endeavour to get work at that? You forget. It was the trade of a tailor!–the calling so despised by his wife. How could he own to her that he was but a tailor! How could he break to her the disgraceful truth that she had married a tailor!

The money obtained by selling their furniture did not last a very long time.

“I will make another effort to obtain employment in Cincinnati,” said the young man, after they were reduced almost to their last dollar. “It is useless to try any longer in this place. I have waited and hoped for some favourable turn of fortune, until my heart is sick.”

His wife made no objection, for she had none to make.

On the next day, Fletcher left for Cincinnati. He arrived there in the night. On the following morning, he left the hotel at which he had stopped, and, going into Main street, entered the first merchant-tailor’s shop that came in his way.

“Have you any work?” he asked.

“We have room for a journeyman, and are in want of one. Can you do the best work?”

“I can.”

“Did you serve your time in the city?”

“No. I am from the East.”

“Very well. Here is a job all ready. You can go to work at once.”

The young man did not hesitate. He took the bundle of work that was given him, and was shown into the back shop. He wrote home immediately that he had obtained employment, which he hoped would be permanent, and that he would be in Madison, Saturday about midnight, and leave again on Sunday evening. He did not say, however, what kind of employment he had procured. That was a secret he meant, if possible, to conceal. When he met his wife, he evaded her direct questions as to the kind of employment he was engaged in, somewhat to her surprise.

For a month, Fletcher went and returned from Cincinnati, weekly, bringing home about eight dollars each week, after paying all his expenses. By that time, his wife insisted so strongly upon going to Cincinnati with him, and taking boarding, that he could make no reasonable objection to the step. And so they removed, Fletcher feeling many serious misgivings at heart, lest his wife should make a discovery of the truth that she had married only a tailor!

“Where did you say the store was at which you are employed?” she asked, a day or two after they were comfortably settled at a very pleasant boarding-house in Cincinnati.

“On Main street,” replied Fletcher, a little coldly.

“What is the name of the firm? I forget.”

“Carter & Cassard.”

Fletcher could not lie outright to his wife, so he told her the truth, but with great reluctance.

No more was said then on the subject. About a week afterward, Mrs. Fletcher said to her husband, “I was along Main street to-day, and looked at the signs over every dry-goods store that I passed, but I did not see that of Carter & Cassard.”

In spite of all he could do, the blood rushed to the face of the young man, and his eyes fell under the steady look directed toward him by his wife.

“The store is there, nevertheless,” said he. His manner and the tone in which he spoke excited in the mind of his wife a feeling of surprise.

For the next four days, there was a strong conflict in Fletcher’s mind between false pride and duty. It grieves me to say that, in the end, the former conquered. On Saturday night, he came home with a troubled look, and told his wife that he had lost his situation, which he said had only been a temporary one. In this he certainly went beyond the truth, for he had given it up voluntarily.

The poor young creature’s heart sank in her. They had only been in Cincinnati about two weeks; were among entire strangers, and all means of subsistence were again taken from them. It is no wonder that she wept bitterly upon receiving this sudden and distressing intelligence. To see his wife in tears filled the heart of Fletcher with the severest pangs. He more than half repented of what he had done. But the thought of confessing that he was only a tailor made him firm in his resolution to meet any consequence rather than that.

“He was a fool!” exclaimed Kate, no longer able to restrain her indignation against the young man, and thus breaking in upon her aunt’s narrative.

“But remember, Kate, how contemptuously he had heard her speak of his trade, and even vow that she would rather drown herself than marry a tailor.”

“Suppose she did say this, when a thoughtless girl”–

“As you are, Kate.”

“Don’t bring me into the matter, aunt. But suppose she did say so, is that any reason for his starving her? He was bound to use his best efforts for the support of his family, and ought to have been thankful, under the circumstances, that he was a tailor.”

“So I think. And his wife ought to have been thankful too.”

“And I suppose she would have been if he had possessed the manliness to tell her the truth.”

“No doubt in the world of that,” returned Aunt Prudence, and then resumed her narrative:

A week was spent by the young man in another vain effort to find employment as a clerk. Then he avowed his intention to go to Louisville, and see if nothing could be done there.

“Try longer here, Joseph. Don’t go away yet, earnestly and tearfully pleaded his wife. “You don’t know how hard it is for me to be separated from you. I am lonely through the day, and the nights pass, oh! so heavily. Something may turn up for you here. Try for a while longer.”

“But our money is nearly all gone. If I don’t go now, I shall have no means of getting away from this place. I feel sure that I can find something to do there.”

His wife pleaded with him, but in vain. To Louisville he went, and there got work at the first shop to which he made application. At the end of a week he sent his wife money, and told her that he had procured temporary employment. She wrote back asking if she might not join him immediately. But to this he objected, on the score that, as his situation was not a permanent one, he might, in a few weeks, be obliged to leave Louisville and go somewhere else. This, to his wife, was by no means satisfactory. But she could do no less than submit.

Thus separated, they lived for the next three months, Fletcher visiting his wife and child once every two weeks, and spending Sunday with them. During the time, he made good wages. But both himself and wife were very unhappy. Earnestly did the latter plead with her husband to be allowed to remove to Louisville. To this however, he steadily objected. Daily he lived in the hope of securing a clerkship in some store, and thus, being able to rise above the low condition in which he was placed. The moment he reached that consummation, so much desired, he would instantly remove his family.

At length, it happened that Fletcher did not write once, instead of several times, during one of the periods of two weeks that he was regularly absent. The Sunday morning when he was expected home arrived, but it did not bring, as usual, his anxiously looked-for presence. His wife was almost beside herself with alarm. No letter coming on Monday, she took her child and started for Louisville in the first boat. She arrived at daylight, on Tuesday morning, in a strange city, herself a total stranger to all therein, except her husband, and perfectly ignorant as to where he was to be found. The captain of the steamboat kindly attended her to a boarding-house, and there she was left, without a single clue in her mind as to the means of finding her husband. Inquiries were made of all in the boarding-house, but no one had heard even the name of Joseph Fletcher. As soon as she could make arrangements to get out, Mrs. Fletcher visited all the dry-goods stores in the city, for in some one of these she supposed her husband to be employed, although he had never stated particularly the kind of business in which he was engaged. This search, after being continued for a greater part of the day, turned out fruitless. Night found the unhappy wife in an agony of suspense and alarm. Some one at the boarding-house advised her to have an advertisement for her husband inserted in a morning paper. She did not hesitate long about this course. In the morning, a brief advertisement appeared; and about nine o’clock a man called and asked to see her.

She descended from her room to the parlour with a wildly throbbing heart, but staggered forward and sank into a chair, weak almost as an infant, when she saw that the man was a stranger, instead of her husband, whom she had expected to meet.

“Are you Mrs. Fletcher?” he asked.

“I am,” she faintly replied.

“You advertised for information in regard to your husband?”

“I did. Where is he? Oh, sir, has any thing happened to him?”

“No, ma’am, nothing serious. He has only been sick for a week or ten days; that is, the man I refer to has. Your husband is a tailor?”

“Is the man you speak of a tailor?” eagerly asked Mrs. Fletcher.

“He is, ma’am; and has been working for me at No.–Fourth street.”

“Then he is not my husband,” replied the poor wife, bursting into tears. “My husband is a clerk.” In the bitterness of a keen disappointment, rendered sharper by doubt and fear, Mrs. Fletcher wept for some minutes. When she could command her feelings to some extent, she thanked the tailor for calling, and repeated what she had said, that the man at his house could not be her husband.

“He is from Cincinnati, ma’am; and goes there once in every two weeks. I know that he has wife and child there,” said the man.

“Still he cannot be my husband,” replied Mrs. Fletcher; “for my husband is not a tailor.”

“No, not in that case, certainly.” And the man owed and withdrew.

All day long the wife waited for some more satisfactory reply to her advertisement, but no farther response to it was made. The call of the tailor seemed like a mockery of her unhappy condition.

Night came, and all remained in doubt and darkness; and then the mind of Mrs. Fletcher turned to the visit of the tailor, half despairingly, in order to find some feeble gleam of hope. Perhaps, she said to herself, as she thought about it, there is some mistake. Perhaps it is my husband after all, and the man is in some error about his being a tailor. As she thought, it suddenly flashed through her mind that there had been a good deal of mystery made by her husband about his situation in Cincinnati as well as in Louisville, which always struck her as a little strange. Could it be possible that his real business was that of a tailor? All at once she remembered that her husband had been particularly silent in regard to his early history. Trembling with excitement, she left the house about eight o’clock in the evening, and started for the place where she remembered that the tailor said he lived. He was in his shop, and recollected her the moment she entered.

“Can I see the man you told me was named Fletcher?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am; and I sincerely hope there has been some mistake, and that you will find him to be your husband; for he is very ill, and needs to be nursed by a careful hand.”

Mrs. Fletcher followed the tailor up stairs, her heart scarcely beating under the pressure of suspense. In a small chamber in the third story, the atmosphere of which was close, oppressive, and filled with an offensive odour, she was shown a man lying upon a bed. She needed not a second glance, as the dim light fell upon his pale, emaciated face, to decide her doubts. Her husband lay before her. Eagerly she called his name, but his eyes did not open. She spoke to him again and again, but he did not recognise, even if he heard her voice.

On inquiring, she found that he was ill with a violent fever, which the doctor said was about at its crisis. This had been brought on by too long continued labour–he having worked, often, sixteen and seventeen hours out of the twenty-four–by that means earning a third more wages than any journeyman in the shop.

Alarmed and troubled as she was, Mrs. Fletcher was utterly confounded by all this. She could not comprehend it. All night she hovered over the pillow of her husband, giving him medicine at the proper times, placing the cooling draught to his lips or bathing his hot forehead. Frequently she called his name, earnestly and tenderly, but the sound awoke no motions in his sluggish mind. Toward morning, she was sitting with her face resting against a pillow, when his voice, speaking distinctly, aroused her from a half slumber into which she had, momentarily, lost herself. In an instant she was leaning over him, with his name upon her lips. His eyes were opens and he looked steadily into her face. But it was evident that he did not know her.

“Joseph! Joseph! don’t you know me?” said she. “I am your wife. I am here with you.”

“Poor Mary!” he murmured, sadly, not understanding what was said. “If she knew all, it would break her heart.”

“What would break her heart?” quickly asked his wife.

“Poor Mary! She said she would never marry”–here the sick man’s voice became inarticulate.

But all was clear to the mind of Mrs. Fletcher. She remembered how often she had made the thoughtless remark to which her husband evidently referred. The tears again fell over her cheeks, until they dropped even upon the face of her husband, who, after he had said this, muttered for a while, inarticulately, and then, closing his eyes, went off into sleep.

Toward morning a slight moisture broke out all over him, and his sleep that was heavy, became soft and tranquil. The crisis was past! In order not to disturb the quiet slumberer, Mrs. Fletcher sat down by the bedside perfectly still. It was not very long before, over-wearied as she was, sleep likewise stole over her senses. It was daylight when she was awakened by hearing her name called. Starting up, she met the face of her husband turned earnestly toward her.

“Dear husband!” she exclaimed, “do you know me?”

“Yes, Mary. But how came you here?” he said, in a feeble voice.

“We will speak of that at some other time,” she replied. “Enough that I am here, where I ought to have been ten days ago. But that was not my fault.”

Fletcher was about to make some farther remark, when his wife placed her finger upon his lips, and said–

“You must not talk, dear; your disease has just made a favourable change, and your life depends upon your being perfectly quiet. Enough for me to say that I know all, and love you just as well, perhaps better. You are a weak, foolish man, Joseph,” she added, with a smile, “or else thought me a weak and foolish woman. But all that we can settle hereafter. Thank God that I have found you; and that you are, to all appearances, out of danger.”

Aunt Prudence looked into Kate’s face, and saw that tears were on her cheeks.

“Would you have loved him less, Kate,” she asked, “if he had been your husband?”

“He would have been the same to me whatever might have been his calling. That could not have changed him.”

“No, certainly not. But I have a word or two more to add. As soon as Fletcher was well enough to go to work, he took his place again upon the shop-board, his wife feeling happier than she had felt for a long time. In about six months he rose to be foreman of the shop, and a year after that became a partner in the business At the end of ten years he sold out his interest in the business, and returned to the East with thirty thousand dollars in cash. This handsome capital enabled him to get into an old and well-established mercantile house as partner, where he remained until his death. About the time of his return to the East, you, Kate, were born.”

“I!” ejaculated the astonished girl.

“Yes. Their two older children died while they were in Louisville, and you, their third child, were born about six months before they left.”

“I!” repeat Kate, in the same surprised tone of voice.

“Yes, dear, you! I have given you a history of your own father and mother. So, as you’re the daughter of a tailor, you must not object to a tailor for a husband, if he be the right kind of a man.”

It may very naturally be supposed that Kate had but little to say against tailors after that, although we are by no means sure that she had any intention of becoming the bride of one.

THE MAIDEN’S CHOICE.

“TWO offers at once! You are truly a favoured maiden, Rose,” said Annette Lewis to her young friend Rose Lilton, in a gay tone. “It is husband or no husband with most of us; but you have a choice between two.”

“And happy shall I be if I have the wisdom to choose rightly,” was the reply of Rose.

“If it were my case, I don’t think that I should have much difficulty in making a choice.”

“Don’t you? Suppose, then, you give me the benefit of your preference.”

“Oh, no, not for the world!” replied Annette, laughing. “I’m afraid you might be jealous of me afterwards.”

“Never fear. I am not of a jealous disposition.”

“No, I won’t commit myself in regard to your lovers. But, if they were mine, I would soon let it be known where my preference lay.”

“Then you won’t assist me in coming to a decision? Surely I am entitled to this act of friendship.”

“If you put it upon that ground, Rose, I do not see how I can refuse.”

“I do put it upon that ground, Annette. And now I ask you, as a friend, to give me your opinion of the two young men, James Hambleton and Marcus Gray, who have seen such wonderful attractions in my humble self as to become suitors for my hand at the same time.”

“Decidedly, then, Rose, I should prefer Marcus Gray.”

“There is about him, certainly, Annette, much to attract a maiden’s eye and to captivate her heart but it has occurred to me that the most glittering surface does not always indicate the purest gold beneath. I remember once to have seen a massive chain, wrought from pure ounces, placed beside another that was far inferior in quality, but with a surface of ten times richer hue. Had I not been told the difference, I would have chosen the latter as in every way more valuable; but when it was explained that one bore the hue of genuine gold, while the other had been coloured by a process known to jewellers, I was struck with the lesson it taught.”

“What lesson, Rose?”

“That the richest substance has not always the most glittering exterior. That real worth, satisfied with the consciousness of interior soundness of principle, assumes few imposing exterior aspects and forms.”

“And that rule you apply to these two young men?”

“By that rule I wish to be guided, in some degree, in my choice, Annette. I wish to keep my mind so balanced, that it may not be swayed from a sound discrimination by any thing of imposing exterior.”

“But is not the exterior–that which meets the eye–all that we can judge from? Is not the exterior a true expression of what is within?”

“Not by any means, Annette. I grant that it should be, but it is not. Look at the fact I have just named respecting the gold chains.”

“But they were inanimate substances. They were not faces, where thoughts, feelings, and principles find expression.”

“Do you suppose, Annette, that bad gold would ever have been coloured so as to look even more beautiful than that which is genuine, if there had not been men who assumed exterior graces and virtues that were not in their minds? No. The very fact you adduce strengthens my position. The time was, in the earlier and purer ages–the golden ages of the world’s existence–when the countenance was the true index to the mind. Then it was a well-tuned instrument, and the mind within a skilful player; to whose touch every muscle, and chord, and minute fibre gave answering melody. That time has passed. Men now school their faces to deception; it is an art which nearly all practise–I and you too often. We study to hide our real feelings; to appear, in a certain sense, what we are not. Look at some men whom we meet every day, with faces whose calmness, I should rather say rigidity, gives no evidence that a single emotion ever crosses the waveless ocean of their minds. But it is not so; the mind within is active with thought and feelings; but the instrument formed for it to play upon has lost its tune, or bears only relaxed or broken chords.”

“You have a strange, visionary way of talking sometimes, Rose,” replied Annette, as her friend ceased speaking. “All that may do for your transcendentalists, or whatever you call them; but it won’t do when you come down to the practical matter-of-fact business of life.”

“To me, it seems eminently a practical principle, Annette. We must act, in all important matters in life, with a just discrimination; and how can we truly discriminate, if we are not versed in those principles upon which, and only upon which, right discriminations can be made?”

“I must confess, Rose,” replied her young friend, “that I do not see much bearing that all this has upon the matter under discussion; or, at least, I cannot see the truth of its application. Gold never assumes a leaden exterior.”

“Well?”

“We need not be very eminent philosophers to tell one from the other.”

“No, of course not.”

“Very well. Here is Marcus Gray, with a genuine golden exterior, and James Hambleton with a leaden one.”

“I do not grant the position, Annette. It is true that Mr. Hambleton is not so brilliant and showy; but I have found in him one quality that I have not yet discovered in the other.”

“What is that?”

“Depth of feeling, and high moral principle.”

“You certainly do not pretend to affirm that Mr. Gray has neither feeling nor principle?”

“Of course I do not. I only say that I have never yet perceived any very strong indications of their existence.”

“Why, Rose!”

“I am in earnest, Annette. I doubt not that he possesses both, and, I trust, in a high degree. But he seems to be so constantly acting a brilliant and effective part, that nature, unadorned and simple, has no chance to speak out. It is not so with Mr. Hambleton. Every word he utters shows that he is speaking what he really feels; and often, though not so highly polished in speech as Mr. Gray, have I heard him utter sentiments of genuine truth and humanity, in a tone that made my heart bound with pleasure at recognising the simple eloquence of nature. His character, Annette, I find it no way difficult to read; that of Marcus Gray puzzles my closest scrutiny.”

“I certainly cannot sympathize with you in your singular notions, Rose,” her friend replied. “I have never discovered either of the peculiarities in these young men that you seem to make of so much importance. As for Mr. Gray, he is a man of whom any woman might feel proud; for he combines intelligence with courteous manners and a fine person: while this Hambleton is, to me, insufferably stupid. And no one, I am sure, can call his address and manners any thing like polished. Indeed, I should pronounce him downright boorish and awkward. Who would want a man for a husband of whom she would be ashamed? Not I, certainly.”

“I will readily grant you, Annette,” said Rose, as her friend ceased speaking, “that Mr. Hambleton’s exterior attractions are not to be compared with those of Mr. Gray; but, as I said before, in a matter like this, where it is the quality of the mind, and not the external appearance of the man alone, that is to give happiness, it behooves a maiden to look beneath the surface, as I am trying to do now.”

“But I could not love a man like Mr. Hambleton, unless, indeed, there were no possibility of getting any one else. In that case, I would make a choice of evils between single blessedness and such a husband. But to have two such offers as these, Rose, and hesitate to make a choice, strikes me as singular indeed!”

“I do not hesitate, Annette,” was the quiet reply.

“Have you, then, indeed decided, Rose?”

“I have–and this conversation has caused me to decide; for, as it has progressed, my mind has been enabled to see truly the real difference in the characters of my suitors.”

“You have, then, decided in favor of Mr. Gray?”

“Indeed I have not, Annette. Though I admire his fine talents and his polished exterior, yet I have never been able to perceive in him those qualities upon which my heart can rest in confidence. He may possess these in even a higher degree than Mr. Hambleton, but I am afraid to run so great a risk. In the latter, I know there are moral qualities that I can love, and that I can repose upon.”

“But he is so dull, Rose.”

“I really do not think so, Annette. There is not so much flash about him, if I may use the word, as about Mr. Gray. But as to his being dull, I must beg to differ with you. To me, his conversation is always interesting.”

“It never is so to me. And, besides all that, his tastes and mine are as widely different as the poles. Why, Rose, if you become his wife, you will sink into obscurity at once. He never can make any impression on society. It is not in him.”

“Rather make no impression on society at all, than a false or disgraceful one, say I,” was the firm reply of Rose.

“You cannot, certainly, mean to say,” returned her friend, “that the impression made upon society by Mr. Gray is either a false or disgraceful one.”

“I should be sorry to make that assertion, for I do not believe such to be the case,” Rose replied. “What I mean is, that I can read Mr. Hambleton’s true character, and I know it to be based upon fixed and high-toned principles. These can never make the woman who truly loves him unhappy. They give place to no moral contingencies, by which hopes are so often wrecked, and hearts broken. Now, in regard to Mr. Gray, there is nothing in his character, so far as I can, read it, upon which to predicate safe calculations of this kind. He is intelligent, and highly interesting as a companion. His personal appearance and his address are attractive. But all below the exterior is hidden. The moral qualities of the man never show themselves. I feel that to give my heart to such a one would be risking too much. Of course, I must decline his offer.”

“Indeed, indeed, Rose, I think you are very foolish!”

“Time will show, Annette.”

“Yes, time will show,” was the prophetic response. And time did show that Rose made a right choice, when she accepted the offer of James Hambleton, and gave him, with her hand, a warm, true heart.

THE FORTUNE-HUNTER.

“I KNOW a young lady who will suit you exactly.”

“Indeed!”

“It’s a fact. She is just the thing.”

“Is she rich?”

“Of course.”

“How rich?”

“Worth some fifty thousand dollars.”

“Are you sure?”

“Certainly. Her father died about a year ago, and she was his only child. Her mother has been dead many years. The old man was well off, and his daughter received all of his property, and, as she is of age, she has it all under her own control.”

“Is she handsome?”

“Just so-so. But that don’t matter a great deal. Gold is beautiful”

“Exactly. And intelligent?”

“I’ve seen smarter girls. But that’s all the better, you know.”

“Yes. Well now, who is she? That’s the next question.”

“Her name is Margaretta Riston, and she is now living with an old aunt in Sycamore street.”

“Are you acquainted?”

“Intimately.”

“Then be kind enough to introduce me forthwith. I must make a conquest of some rich heiress soon, or I shall have to run away, or petition for the benefit of the Insolvent Law.”