« PreviousContinue »
poetize and speculate as much as you choose, you can't alter the adjustment."
"So you don't try to?"
"Most assuredly not. Give palaces to my princes, and hovels to my beggars."
He looked at her with the halt-smile.
"That seems very hard," she said, — "very selfish and wrong."
"What ? — that you should wear purple, and the beggars in the street rags'? It is in the nature of the adjustment. They would not fulfil their destiny except by starving."
It was cruel, she thought, this entire devotion to self; but then Edward said it was the world. Was the world so entirely run mad tbat no man should care for his neighbor? It didn't seem to her the doctrine that Christ meant when he said,—
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
That was eighteen hundred and fiftyseven years ago, and perhaps the Lord and neighbor of to-day meant something less than when the man fell among thieves in those days.
Christ's sermons were unpractical,—unutilitarian in this age it seemed. The poor old world was getting mystified and crazed in the smoke of this fast life. Was it right to see her groping out of the path, and not hold out a hand for her relief?
"I'm afraid I'm not a convert to your doctrine, Edward," she said, honestly.
The bird had wings, he saw. So much the more honor in caging it.
The morning was ushered in by the innumerable sounds of an awakening city. A dull autumn rain had followed in the train of the boding clouds of the previous day, and the streets looked wet and comfortless. Uptown, the mansions of the wealthy showed close-shuttered windows
still slumberous. Down among the shops, the butcher-boys, fat and freckled, lowbrowed and surly, squared off with rivals, before taking down the shutters to carpet the floors with a new coating of saw-dust, and prepare for cheap morning purchasers.
. Teams from the country, laden with provisions of all sorts, came rumbling over the pavements in a drowsy discontent, the horses muddy and dispirited, the drivers wet and grumbling. Day laborers were on the way to their tasks, jostling one another as they passed and repassed, accosting acquaintances with a quick nod, each with his dinner-pail, containing his noonday meal, on his arm, or with the money in his pocket for his beer or gin.
Uptown was enjoying the delieiousness of the last morning nap before chocolate. Downtown had shaken off its slumbers, without chocolate, and was alert for the coining work-day.
The foundries were collected down near the whirl and hurry of the railroad depots, where there was neither night nor day, only an endless Pandemonium of iron and coal dust, gleaming fires, and shrill whistlings, mixed up with redshirted, grimy-faced men. The huge furnaces were glowing with red-hot fires, and smoke, black and bulky, puffed from the chimneys, falling back again in very heaviness of blackness in a pillar above the buildings. Great heaps of raw material from the neighboring mines lay just where the lumbering trains had plumped them; long rough pigs rusting in the heavy atmosphere, unwitting the Prometheus within that should imbue them with the soul of a Titanic monster, to fume and fret and worry and work over an iron road, chained and subject to the will of man, as never a mouster was in the olden days.
The hands were collecting, rough visaged, brawny-shouldered, but loose and shambling in gait, — poverty-tied you knew by that. — brow-beaten and discouraged until the whole form had prepared, not to resist, but suffer the expected blow. ing; a few Germans, with thick, slow eyes, and stolid faces; fewer Americans, quick, decisive, expectant, eyes light-blue, catching the light, ready for the main chance there as everywhere.
The bell rang, and they shambled into the main room, where was collected the organized material, only waiting for a phi here, a lever there, a screw fastened, and steam to enliven, to start off dozens of Titans.
The superintendent stood in his place, greeting the hands with a quick bow. A grand man physically, tall and strong and commanding.
His eyes were blue, clear, and penetrating. A broad, full forehead, with a push to it, a nose well-shaped and sensitive, but strong and emphatic, a mouth fashioned firmly, but ready for the sweetest expressions of love and kindness. A man strong, healthy, concentrated, straightforward, — a man, moreover, of warm sympathies and kindly nature.
God allows such men, now and then, to grow up into manhood, and possibly through a long life, to show to some disheartened souls the grand proportions of the Christ-man, to strengthen their faith in the love of God by showing the perfectness of the love of man.
This man, John Bates, never thought that of himself, I know. His organization was purely strong and manly, his perceptions strong and true. I don't think he ever thought of duty in an abstract sense, his reasoning and works were always in the concrete. He never thought how many mansions he was laying up for himself in heaven; I don't think he thought of the possibility of gaining one. He cared for others because he must; because Buffering hurt him; because sin was out of nature, and must be removed.
There are many who will sneer at this man, who will impute the desire of selfaggrandizement to the God-given impulses; but, thank God! love is yet alive, pure, true in men as in women, unselfish, devoted, perfect.
Ho had come up an orphan in the home of an uncle, kindly cared for in his tender years, a tax on the poor mechanic's labor that was ungrudgingly given; but
the uncle and aunt were both taken ill, during the prevalence of an epidemic, and died, leaving John, fourteen years of age, with the care of a little girl-cousin not half his years. Month after month he struggled along, down and up again, indomitable, persevering, hopeful, never complaining, working at all sorts of odd jobs during the day, running here and there, working as errand boy, sawyer, what-not, for a few pennies to pay for Ruth's board and clothing, and picking up knowledge and experience from the filth and disease of souls, his healthy, perfect organization throwing off all contaminating influences as a healthy body resists infection. Through the hurry and skurry of nearly a score of years, he had pushed his way upward, and now found himself, at thirty, a man well-cultured in men and books, still retaining the free heart and open face of his bo\hood.
Of the half-dozen foundries in the city, not one other bore the reputation of the Star Company. There was better material sent out, less rotten iron, more perfect in all parts. The men, though composed of the lowest of the city poor, were more industrious, less drunken and swearing. John Bates was the cause. The managers acknowledged it; the men, in their respectful demeanor and rough partisanship, acknowledged it; and Bates, for six years, had proved the justice of the acknowledgment.
The bell had called the hands together, and Bates, in a clear voice called the roll, each man in guttcral German, or rich brogue, or tame Yankee answering," Here, sir." Then, with a few instructions to the foremen for the day's work, the bell rang, and the men filed out behind their leaders to their tasks.
There was no time spent in wordy haranguing, wasting a half-wheel, perhaps, of a morning. If a man proved insubordinate, or careless, or lazy, Bates took him in training, and if he wasn't straightened out in a fortnight's time, he was notified to leave the works; so the drones were kept out of the hive, and the honey, the managers affirmed, was all the better and larger in quantity for it.
"Good-morning, Grant," he said to a
man who came up toward him from the moving hands. "What's wanted?"
"What's wanted, d'ye ask? Ah, there's the heart wanted for work when it's away. There's no work for me here to-day, sir."
"What's the trouble? are you sick?"
"Ye may well ask that same. Yes, heartsick for the poor little un who is goiu'."
"The little lame Bessie?"
"The same, sir, who came, many's the time, wid her sweet voice and pretty ways; but she never'll come any more." And the poor father's voice faltered from the emotion in his soft Irish heart.
"Well," said the superintendent, "it's very hard. I'm glad you came to tell me; I'll be over to-night. Keep up heart, man; it'll all be for the best, no doubt. To-morrow will be Saturday, and pay-day, — here's the week's money in full. Don't trouble to come to-morrow, if I shouldn't see you. Keep a brave face."
This Grant had been the greatest bully in the works two years ago. Bates remembered him a swearing, fighting, roystering hand, who could imbue a whole room with insubordination. Now for a year there had been no one so quick, so respectful, so industrious and conscientious; and the men affirmed he had been a changed man from the day when sixyear-old Bessie had run into the smeltingroom a laughing, light-tripping child, and was carried out a writhing, moaning mass of pain. No one knew how she foil into the seething mould of molten iron, but iron-eneased hearts melted when the little maimed body was taken out. Grant had never entered the smelting-room, now one year, and the little limbless girl was going to end her suffering, it seemed.
Walking through the building, — in the room where great hot castings lay cooling in dust beds, where the trip, trip
life for the angelic vestments of the better one. So when the work-day ended in the dusk of the evening, he hurried through ^he rain toward Grant's house, — a good mile.
The door was opened by a slatternly girl of fifteen, with red face and eyes, who, without a word, retired to a corner of the room, crouching down, and giving vent to loud cries. The room was small and ill-lighted and close. On a low bed the body of the little girl was stretched, while Grant sat by it, bent over, his hands on his knees, looking at the floor.
Bates felt no nervous, aesthetic dread of the wretchedness and filth and moral as well as physical degradation of the class these people represented. When he found a starving man, he never examined the causes that had led to it,— whether it was laziness, or lack of judgment, or misfortune; bread was needed for the present, he knew, and that was sufficient in knowledge; there was plenty of time for the rest afterward.
This man, red-shirted, rough-bearded, harsh-spoken, had yet the tender human affection, and the great trial of parting was the same.
I think God vouchsafes a glimpse of heaven to each soul on earth; and she had been his, and now the earthy taste and the earthy smell were all that was left.
Bates felt this without analysis, and knew that in such seasons only God and that soul can hold communion.
The terrible strength of the overwhelming mystery of death, when it takes one's better life and shuts it out of sight, out of touch, of feeling, of hearing; when the dark doors are remorselessly closed, and inside, look and long and seek where one may, there is no dear voice, no sweet eyes, no tender lips, no heaven, nowhere, oh, God! No human voice, however tender, can repay then for the lost tones; no der mercy, trying with no human crumbs of comfort to feed the gnawing hunger that only He could satisfy, knowing that after the first great loss and comfort, hu^ man love can be felt.
"You must come or send for me or Miss Ruth," he said to Biddy before leaving, "if you need us. Don't disturb your father. Be quiet and thoughtful, and remember how much better it is for Bessie where she can walk and play and feel no more pain. I will see about all the arrangements. Don't disturb your father except to get him a cup of tea, or something to eat."
He went out into the wet streets. The lamplighter was already on his rounds.
Bates's home, as he called and thought it, brightened by Ruth's happy face and Mrs. Gurnsey's cheerful smile, lay away nearly a mile yet. The wind blew chill, and buttoning up his coat he walked briskly forward.
He was not of a thoughtful cast generally; his heart lay too near his eyes and lips to allow any troublous feeling to brood silently in the depths of his soul. I mean troublous thoughts of others or for others of the same interest to those around as to him; any care or trouble of his own, if he had it, was kept seduously guarded as his especial property of ill. There was enough care and trouble in the world, heaped up outside each man's life, that the poor old world must bear, without burdening her shoulders with each man's private bundle, he thought.
But to-night, walking the wet, comfortless streets hedged in by houses just such as that he had left behind, bare in comfort, in hepeful thoughts, in love, imbruted souls inhabiting them, the God-image pressed out of them by generations of labor and poverty and sin, his soul arose in an indignant protest against it. He had almost *~
crafty, successful politician, riding into power and distinction on the shoulders of these very men behind him. Would he, in turn, think of the undercurrent that had sent him sailing? Bates thought not; they were tools to be used, not cared for. When they were of no farther benefit to him, he wouldn't trouble himself to look after them.
Bates had nearly wrought himself into an excitement when he got home. He cooled it off by a detailed account of poor little Bessie to Mrs. Uurnscy and Ruth, who listened in true womanly sympathy, Ruth's soft eyes filling with tears; for Bessie, before her terrible misfortune, had been her scholar, and since she had not allowed a week to pass without a visit to the sufferer.
"Don't you think a pot of sweetmeats and cake would do the poor man good, Ruth dear?" Mrs. Gurnsey asked Kuth, after drawing her into the pantry for a private consultation.
"I think it might," answered Ruth, gravely; "but wouldn't a loaf of your nice bread, and some ham and tea be a little better to send?"
Whatever self-satisfied thoughts the old lady had felt over the gift she had proposed would have made no difference. She would as cheerfully have followed Ruth's plan at any time, if, thereby, all her private arrangements were demolished; for Ruth, in Mrs. Gurnsey's eyes, was the perfection of all goodness and knowledge in woman, as John was in a man. Since John had become superintendent of the Star Company, and Ruth teacher in the sixth ward, they had boarded with her, until she felt as if they were the son and daughter of her early hope, brought to her in their maturity and goodness.
The following day little Bessie was buried in the potter's field by the side of THE CHATELAIN'S WOOING,
FROM TIIE FRENCH OF VICTOR HUGO. "Pourcc »imer-moy, cepcndant qu'eistes belle."—Roxsahd.
Listen, listen, Madeleine!
Come! my suite afar have sped;
By yon horn's faint echo led.
Come! meseemeth, Madeleine,
Smile and blush the roses bright,
Love, for love of thee, to-night!
Would I were, 0 Madeleine,
'Xeath thy hand that doth rejoice!
At the summons of thy voice.
Would I were, O Madeleine
Bending in confessional,
Warm the fragrant breathings fall.
Would I were. 0 Madeleine,
Sees thee seek thy maiden sleep,
Blessed vigil there may keep.
When thy bosom, Madeleine,
From its prison freed at last,
O'er the glass thy robe is cast!
If thou wouldest, Madeleine,
Page and squire should swell the train
At thy feet in castle halls;
The stone arches of its walls.
If thou wouldest, Madeleine,
Dearest, a proud coronet,
If thou wouldest, Madeleine,
'Tis Count Roger kneels to thee;
Here will I a shepherd be!
6ET ENOUGH SLEEP,
We have often heard young men remark that four or five hours was all they wanted, and all that the human system required. The habit of going without sufficient sleep is very injurious. Thousands, no doubt, permanently injure their health in this way. We live in a fast age, when everybody seems to be trying to pervert the order of nature. If folks will persist in turning night into day, it is not to be wondered at that few last out the allotted terra of life. No matter what a man's occupation, physical or mental, or, like Othello's, "gone," and living in idleness, the constitution cannot stand it without a sufficiency of regular and refreshing sleep. John Hunter, the great surgeon, died suddenly of spasmodic affection of the heart, a disease greatly encouraged by want of sleep. In a volume just published by a medical man, there is one great lesson that may be learned by hard students and literary men, and that is that Hunter probably killed himself by too little sleep. "Four hours' rest at night, and one after dinner, cannot be deemed sufficient to recruit the exhausted powers of body and mind.'* Certainly not; and the consequence was that Hunter died early. If men will insist on cheating Sleep, her "twin-sister, Death," will avenge the insult. — Home Journal.
"Let it pass from me," said Christ, in the agony of the garden, as the sweat fell like drops of blood upon the ground. Thank God that he prayed "Let this cup pass from me," and justified the trembling