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- From Wealth to Poverty - 4/45 -
at all intimate with her was her friend, and ready to give sympathy and help. She felt grateful for the many expressions of kindness she had received, and it was a severe trial to sever the cords which bound her to those whom she had known so long, and to leave her dear native land and old home to go among strangers who were thousands of miles away. But though it was hard to part, she thought it would be for the best--it could scarcely be for the worse. She was rashly advised by some not to go, as they said, "there was no knowing how utterly he might fall, and then, if she were among strangers, she and her children might be brought down to the deepest depths of poverty and woe." But she nobly replied, "he is my husband and the father of my children, and no matter how he is despised by others he is inexpressibly dear to me, and I will never forsake him 'till death do us part,' no matter what may befall."
Soon after the conversation I have just narrated ensued, Richard Ashton settled up his business gathered the small remnant of his fortune together, and he and his family set sail for that land of promise--America. It was with sad forebodings that Ruth bade her friends a long, and, as it proved to be, a final farewell.
She stood upon the deck of the gallant vessel that bore them away, and as she saw the land she loved so well slowly fade from view and grow dimmer and dimmer as the distance lengthened, until it seemed as a haze upon the dreary waste of waters, there was a feeling of inexpressible sadness took possession of her. She involuntarily drew closer to her husband, and gave expression to the emotions of her soul by sobbing as though her heart would break. He lovingly threw his arm around her waist and drew her closely to him, soothing her sorrow by loving caresses. As the old look shone in his eye, he gently whispered, "God helping me, my darling, I will be a better man, and, as far as I can, I will redeem the past."
After landing in New York he remained there a short time to visit some old friends, and then pushed through to the beautiful city of Rochester, where a relative of his resided. Here he purchased an unpretentious but cozy little cottage, situated not far from Mt. Hope. It had a latticed porch, which was in summer-time covered with honeysuckles; and the cottage was embosed in flowering trees and morning glories. It had at the back a very fine garden, which also contained numerous peach trees and a delightful snuggery of a summer-house, whose sides were covered with lattice-work, over which clambered the vine, and through whose interstices, in their season, hung bunches of luscious grapes. In the front there was a nice lawn, with circular flower beds; in attending to which Ruth and her two children (Eddie and Allie) spent many happy hours.
After a short delay, he, through the influence of his friends, obtained employment as book-keeper for a large dry goods firm in the city. When he first began his engagement, his salary was comparatively small; but when his capabilities were recognized, his employer, who was a man of gentlemanly instincts, and was also generous in his dealings with those of his employees who were capable and industrious, raised his salary to an amount which not only enabled them to live respectably, but also to deposit something in the savings-bank each week, preparatory for a rainy day.
Ruth's face began to wear the old radiant look of calm peace, if not exuberant joy, which shone in her eye in the days of yore, and she, for two years, was able to send home to her friends in the old home land "glad tidings of great joy." But, alas! the dream was short as it was blissful. He met one day an old companion of his, with whom he had associated in his native town, and was induced by him, after much persuasion, to join in a friendly glass for the sake of "Auld Lang Syne." He met Ruth when she ran to the gate to welcome him that night with what seemed to her loving heart a cold repulse, for he was drunk--yes, my dear reader-- crazily, brutally drunk. His poor wife was as much stunned as if he had been brought home dead. She stood pale as death, with lips tightly pressed, with wide open eyes staring wildly. Poor little Eddie and Allie ran to their mother and nestled close to her for protection, as birdlings run to the cover of the mother in seasons of danger. And even poor little Mamie, for they had been blessed by a little girl, whom they had thus named, shortly after they arrived in Rochester, cuddled her head more closely to her mother's bosom, and clung to her as if in mortal terror of one whom she usually greeted with the fondest tokens of welcome.
From that time forward his descent to Avernus was very rapid. He soon lost his situation and was unable to secure another. He also became dissatisfied with the country. It is generally men who are their own worst enemies, who become agitators against the existing order of things.
The time of which I am writing was immediately after the American War, and, at that period, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction felt and expressed against England, because there were so many of her citizens who sympathized with the Southern cause. And if any of the more ignorant discovered a man to be an Englishman, he was almost certain to seize the opportunity to rail against his country. Ashton had to endure a great deal of this; for, in the hotels he met a great many returned soldiers, among whom there was a large percentage of the Fenian element; for the majority of the rank and file of these miscreants were tavern loafers. Their denunciation of England was not only strong, but blatant and couched in language both blasphemous and obscene. This Ashton felt he could not endure, this land of freedom was far too free for him. He said he loved liberty, but not license, and, therefore, stimulated by the spirit of patriotism, and by another spirit, which in his case was far the more potent, he resolved to move to Canada, to shelter again under the protecting folds of the "Union Jack." I have already given the reader to understand, in another chapter, that he acted upon that resolution.
GOOD RESOLUTIONS; A TEMPTER, AND A FALL.
On the morning we introduced him to the reader he took the train to Charlotte and secured a berth on the steamer _Corinthian_ for a port on the Canadian side, and as it would not start for an hour after he arrived, he thought he would endeavor to compose his perturbed mind by a quiet walk up the river. For in his sober moments he suffered intensely from the "pricks of an outraged conscience," and more than once he had been tempted to take his own life, but the thought of wife and children had restrained him from the rash and cowardly act. It may be, there was intermingled with that the thought, as Shakespeare says--
"Which makes cowards of us all, And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of."
He now resolved, God helping him, he would never drink again, but he would establish a home in the strange land whither he was journeying, and live a sober, industrious life. But even as he made these resolves his craving, burning appetite came tempting him; and as he strove against it, he shut his teeth and knit his brow, and involuntarily clenched his hand as if about to struggle with a mortal foe, and stamped his foot as he hissed through his clenched teeth, "I will be free." Ah, Richard! don't begin to boast before you have gained the victory, depend more upon God than self, you surely need his aid, for here comes a tempter.
"Hallo, Ashton, is that you? What is the matter with you? Why, one would suppose you had an attack of the blues. At what were you glaring so fiercely? You look as if you had a live Fenian before you and was striking for the Old Land with a determination to give no quarter. How came you here, and whither are you bound?" And the speaker, with a quizzical smile upon his face, which half concealed and half revealed an underplay of devilish mockery, put his hand familiarly upon the shoulder of Ashton, and then grasped him by the hand and gave it a hearty shake. But if a good judge of human nature had been by, he would have concluded his manner was assumed for the occasion--that he was simply acting, and was a failure at the role he had assumed.
I have not given to the reader the expletives with which he adorned his conversation, nor do I intend to do so, for though he, like others who indulge in the habit of swearing, may have thought it was both ornamental and emphatic, I don't think so. Besides, I have hopes that these pages may be read by the young, and I do not wish to give, even in the conversations which I may transcribe, anything that is profane or impure; for if I did I might inoculate their young minds with an evil virus, which I would not knowingly do.
This person, who now accosted Ashton, was the one who acted imp to his satanic majesty in leading him to his last fall, and here he was again to tempt him. Well would it be for you, Richard Ashton, if you would contemptuously spurn him as you would kick a rabid dog from your path.
I have noticed this person before in these pages but I will now give him a more elaborate introduction to the reader; but as he is an unsavory subject I will make the introduction as brief as possible.
His name was Stanley Ginsling, he was the youngest son of an English gentleman, of considerable property, and of more pride, whose estate lay in the vicinity of Ashton's native town. His father intended him for the Church, not because there were any manifestations that he was peculiarly qualified for holy orders, either by mental or moral endowments, but because he did not know what else to do with him, he concluded he would make him a parson.
So, after he had gone through a certain course by private tuition he was sent to Eton, preparatory to going to Oxford.
He then got through his studies in some manner, though it was generally understood by his mates that he was better acquainted with the brands of his favorite liquors and cigars than he was with the works of the authors which filled up the list of his college curriculum.
But when he entered Oxford he threw off all restraint and gave himself up to a life of utter dissipation, and before long his father received a polite note from the college authorities, intimating that to save further disgrace he had better call his worthy son home.
After this he became a dissipated tavern lounger, a barnacle on the good ship of society, a miserable sponge.
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