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- From Wealth to Poverty - 10/45 -

seraphic beauty, purity, innocence and faith, the thought of the poet came to her mind--

"O man, could thou in spirit kneel beside that little child; As fondly pray, as purely feel, with heart as undefiled; That moment would encircle thee with light and love divine, Thy soul might rest on Deity, and heaven itself be thine."

And she prayed that God might ever keep her as innocent and pure.



Time seemed to creep along very slowly for the next two days to Ruth Ashton. She sent Eddie to the Post Office, and when he came without a letter she was terribly disappointed. She exclaimed: "Oh, I am afraid he has broken his promise and is drinking again; for he certainly would have written if he were not!"

If those Christians and respectable members of society, who favor the drinking usages and oppose with all the power of their intellect the passing of a law to do away with its sale, only experienced for one short day the agony which wrung the heart of that sensitive, loving woman, that experience would do what the tongue of the most eloquent pleader would utterly fail to accomplish; that is, turn them to hate the traffic as they hate the father of evil.

Her mind was preyed upon by doubt, fear, terrible anxiety. "If he were drinking, in a strange country, what would become of him? She remembered he had considerable money with him; also, when he was intoxicated he always became reckless, and would be almost certain to display it, and thus, probably, tempt some hard character to rob or murder him.

"Oh, my Father, protect him!" she exclaimed in her anguish, as she knelt before Him who was her only help and consolation in such times of trouble.

The next morning Eddie was again sent for a letter, and as he came with one in his hand, the mother grasped it impulsively. But, a moment after, thinking her action might appear strange to Eddie, she kissed him affectionately, and said: "Excuse your mamma; my boy, I was so anxious to read papa's letter that I forgot myself."

The reader has already been made acquainted with the contents of that letter, and when Ruth had read it her worse fears were not allayed--rather, confirmed.

She wrote to him immediately--not expressing her fears, but filling her letter with words of love and confidence, thinking that by thus doing it would influence him, at least to some extent, to endeavor to prove to her that her confidence had not been misplaced.

She did not hear from him again for more than two weeks, though either she or the children wrote him several letters in the meantime. The agony she endured during that period I will allow the reader to imagine.

At length Eddie brought home the letter, the contents of which I have given in a former chapter. It relieved her heart of a great burden. In fact, she felt some compunctions of conscience--she thought she must have judged him wrongfully, for it hardly seemed possible to her that a stranger to her husband would have engaged him, if he had presented himself immediately after a long continued debauch.

That night, as she knelt by her bedside, she thanked God for His loving-kindness to her, in her hour of great trial. But, after she had retired and began to think over what the letter contained, she found that while, on the whole, its contents gave her great cause for thankfulness, yet, that it made her feel inexpressibly sad-- sad, because she would have again to part with tried and true friends and go among strangers.

Never in her life had she been the recipient of more gentle attentions and delicate expressions of kindness than since she had resided in Rochester. True, some of her neighbors were more curious in regard to her affairs than she thought was consistent with good breeding, and sometimes they made inquiries which she did not wish to answer, but which she did not know how to evade without giving offence. However, this trait of a certain class of her American friends--and which, by-the-bye, has furnished a fund for humorists the world over--was more than redeemed by their genuine kindness and willingness to help upon every possible occasion. And some, she thought, were noble examples of what men and women are when in them natural goodness is joined with intelligence and culture; for they seemed to divine her wants like a quick-witted person will catch at a hint, and any service rendered was so delicately tendered that it almost left the impression upon the mind of the recipient that a favor had been granted in its acceptance. In fact, she had been favorably impressed with her acquaintances in Rochester from the first, and now she was about to leave, their kindly attentions endeared them to her so as to make it very hard for her to separate from them; for, day after day, they vied with each other in doing everything which kindness could suggest to prepare her for her anticipated journey.

And Ruth herself was employing every moment, for she never doubted her husband would have a permanent engagement. She had clothes to provide for the children, and her own wardrobe to replenish, so that all might be well prepared to go among strangers.

Eddie and Allie, also, had their own sorrows and trials. At first they said they would not leave their old home. Child-like, they thought Rochester was the only place in the wide, wide world where they could live and find pleasure; and as they had but dim recollections of England, and all the persons, objects, and scenes which they loved, and around which their memories lingered, were centred there, it is not surprising it was the dearest spot on earth to them, nor that it seemed very hard to leave their school and school-mates, their trees and flowers, and the many and varied objects which had been familiar to them for so many years.

"I do wish mamma would coax father not to move among strangers, especially when it is a cold country like Canada he is going to. I declare, it is too bad to leave everything we like behind, and go among those we won't care for, and who will not care for us."

As Eddie spoke, the tears began to glimmer in his eyes, for he certainly thought their lot was a hard one.

Allie agreed to use all her powers of persuasion to prevail upon their mother to influence their father not to take them from Rochester.

It was at one of these little indignation meetings they had given expression to the speeches which had been reported to their mother by Mamie. This called forth a remonstrance from her, and she pointed out to them how selfish and sinful it was to talk as they had been doing. This had the desired effect, and they promised not to murmur again, and the promise was kept; for they truly loved their mother, and would not do anything which they thought would grieve her.

"I tell you, Allie," said Eddie, one day, "it won't be so bad after all; for if we are lonesome, when we are not helping father and mother, you can be working in your flower garden, and I can help you; and if the fishing is as good as father thinks it is, won't I enjoy it? I tell you it will be jolly, and if I catch some big ones I will be able to write back and tell Harry Wilson and Jim Williams about it."

The eyes of Eddie sparkled with animation as he was looking forward and by anticipation enjoying these pleasures--forgetting, for the time being, the hardships which a short period before had stirred up such rebellious feelings; and then they settled into a more thoughtful expression as he continued: "Father says there is a good high school there, and I will, if I can, be the best in my class there, as I have been here."

"Well," said Allie, "I think we were naughty to speak as we did, and we caused mamma to grieve. She says God knows what is best, and that we should be satisfied to leave everything in His hands. I am sure I shall enjoy myself helping mamma and attending to my flower garden; for I know you will help me to make the beds, and we will also make a nice tiny one for Mamie, too. O! won't that be splendid?"

"I hope," continued Eddie, "that father will keep from drink there. I am sure mamma thinks he has been drinking since he has been away, and she is almost grieving herself to death about it. Oh, I don't see how it is that he don't leave whiskey alone!"

"I do wish he would," said Allie; "for sometimes, when I see mamma looking so sad, I go to my room and cry, and, Eddie, I often pray to God to keep papa from drink. Do you think He will hear and answer me, Eddie?"

"I guess He will," said Eddie. "Mamma says so, and she knows. I always say my prayers, Allie, but I don't do much more praying. I think you girls are better than we boys, anyway."

"I don't know," replied his sister; "I think I am bad enough, and I pray to God to make me better. I think the girls quarrel just as much the boys, and though they may not swear and talk so roughly, yet I think they speak far more spitefully."

"I never thought so," said Eddie.

"Well, they do. Why, just yesterday, Sarah Stewart, because I got ahead of her in our spelling class, twitted me about father's drinking, and said 'a girl who had an old drunkard for a father need not put on such airs.' And, Eddie, I did not say anything to her to make her speak so, only teacher put me up because I knew my lesson better."

"If a boy, had twitted me like that I would have knocked him down." And he clenched his teeth and doubled up his fist as he spoke, which left no doubt in the mind of his sister that he would have tried his best to have done as he said.

"Well, Eddie, that would have been wicked; it would have grieved

From Wealth to Poverty - 10/45

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