sort of apology to his friend for a step that he
feared would not meet with Mr. Barclay's
approbation ; " quite natural, but our natural
inclinations sometimes make us lose sight of
prudence ; and I am afraid the widow O'Neil's
children and yours together will be more than
one house Avill hold, as they say, John. The
widow, â I beg your pardon, John, â your
wife has two children of her own ? "
" Two ! bless your eyes, sir ; yes, two and
two to that, and a stray into the bargain. "
"A stray? what do you mean by that?"
" I mane Biddy McClure, sir, the child of
her poor mother that's gone to rest. Ellen,
the mother, poor thing, died on Rosy's bed ;
so Rosy, with a full heart in her, as she has,
could do no less than take on the baby
with her own, though she was bid turn it over
to the orphan asylum; â the Lord help poor
Biddy ! never to know a home or a mother. "
"But where was her father?"
" She never had any to spake of, sir. "
U I suppose now, John, you would be glad
to get her into the orphan asylum."
" Plase the Lord, no, sir ; it would be an ill
turn to do Rosy, to cast away the chicken she's
brooded under her own wing. Besides, sir,
my mother, that's gone, â peace to her soul !
â always said there was a blessing to the roof
that sheltered an orphan child. "
A TRUE STORY. 81
Mr. Barclay thought there could scarcely
fail to be a blessing upon a roof that hung over
such generous hearts, and for once he was
persuaded out of his prepossessions against
this clubbing together of families, that so com-
monly issues in unhappiness. He could not,
however, forbear saying, " I trust, John, you
will have no additions to this family."
" We lave that with the Lord ; if they come
they'll find a welcome."
"A large family is a heavy burden to a poor
John scratched his head, and admitted what
was undeniable, but with a mouthful of bless-
ings on the country, he said, "No honest
working man in it need go to bed to dream
of hungry children."
Time went on, and in due succession two
more children appeared, and found the wel-
come John Phealan had promised. Mr. Bar-
clay took an especial interest in seeing how
far virtuous exertions and naturally happy
tempers could triumph over unfavorable cir-
cumstances. He kept his eye on the family.
He found Phealan ready to be guided by his
advice, and Phealan'e wife docile to the in-
structions of Mrs. Barclay ; always replying to
them, " I'll do my endeevors, madam." And
so faithfully did she do them, that, contrary to
common experience, and in the teeth of politi-
cal economy, this little confederation lived on
prosperously and happily, like the famous
family of natural haters, the dog, cat, rat, bird,
snake, and squirrel, proving that there are no
natural discordances or antipathies that may
not be overcome by moral force. There were
now and then some little clashings among the
children, but they passed over as harmless as
light summer showers.
But, alas ! a storm did come, that threatened
utter desolation. Both Phealan and his wife
were carried off by an epidemic, after a week's
illness. What was to be done ? Of the last
marriage there were two children living, one
five and the younger less than a year old.
Little Biddy McClure was not yet quite seven.
A friend of the Phealans adopted the child of
five years, but no one could be found to take
the baby, and poor Biddy was too young for
service. Mr. Barclay consulted with the elder
children, and realized a rich harvest in the
fruits of his instructions to them. They were
all earning something, and were able to esti-
mate their resources and make rational calcula-
tions for the future. They could pay their
room-rent, and support the baby and Biddy ;
and if old Miss Jones, who had lost the use of
her legs, and rented a dark little room in the
A TRUE STORY. 83
garret, would live in their room rent-free, and
just look a little after Biddy nursing the baby ;
while they were out at their places, they could
keep together yet, and need not send the baby
and Biddy â a jewel was Biddy â to any
orphan asylum but their own. This plan, call-
ing forth such virtuous exertions from these
young creatures, was approved by the Bar-
clays. Never a week passed that the Phea-
lans were not visited by one of them, and
such counsel or aid given as the exigencies of
these little worthies required. The family was
actually kept comfortably afloat for eighteen
months. Then Miss Jones took it into hep
head to retire to a relation's in the country,
but fortunately Mary Phealan, the oldest of
the family, married respectably just at this
juncture, having stipulated that if the family
did break up, she should take the baby for her
own. The family, Mr. Barclay said, must
break up; but what should be done with
Biddy ? Biddy was a general favorite, and
the children, after a consultation, agreed that
they would pay her board until she was old
enough to go to service. Mr. Barclay did not
quite like this plan. He thought Biddy would
be living in idleness for two or three years, and
forming bad habits, or no habits at all, when
the foundation should be laying for future
It may perhaps stimulate some reader's
benevolence to know, that while Mr. Barclay-
was paying this minute attention to the con-
cerns of the little orphan family, he was the
principal manager of one of the most impor-
tant printing establishments in New York.
" What is to be done with Biddy ? " he asked
his wife ; " the little stray, as poor Phealan
used to call her, must be provided for."
" Yes, she must. I have been thinking a
great deal of her, and if I could only get Mar-
tha to consent, we might take her ourselves."
" My dear wife ! the very plan I thought of,
but I could not bear to propose any thing
which should increase your cares."
" Oh ! that's nothing ; you know I do not
mind light burdens."
" I know you make all burdens light ; and
I wish that your children may learn from you,
that it is the light heart that makes the burden
light, and not vice versa, as most people think."
" Thank you ; that's a compliment worth
having, and I will see if it Avill make me elo-
quent to Martha ; but I dread the view she
may take of the subject."
Mrs. Barclay had some reason for this dread.
Martha had too long had her own way, â an
excellent way it was, â to brook any interfer-
ence with it. She was orderly to precision,
A TRUE STORY. 85
and she had always said (what she had once
said poor Martha was much given to always
say), that a child in the kitchen would be a
terrible annoyance to her. She had before
stoutly and successfully opposed a benevolent
plan of .Mis. Barclay's similar to the present,
Mrs. Barclay having thought it wisest to yield
her own wishes to her faithful servant's. â
Servant ! we beg Martha's pardon, hdp. Serv-
ing most assiduously, she had an antipathy to
the word servant. Was she not right? There
must be new terms to express new relations.
Help may have a ludicrous and perha]
alarming sound to unaccustomed ears ; but
is there a word in the English language mere
descriptive of the service rendered by a New-
England domestic; truly a " republican inde-
pendent dependent," and the very best Bervant
(this we say on the highest foreign, ay English
authority), provided we are willing to dispense
with obsequiousness and servility, for the capa-
bility and virtue of a self-regulating and self-
The Barclays' religion governed all their
relations. They did not regard their servant
as a hireling, but as a member of their family,
who, from her humble position in it, was enti-
tled to their protection and care. "Martha was
their friend ; the family joys and sorrows were
part and parcel with hers, hers with theirs.
As her qualifications increased with her years
and her labors with the growth of the family'
they had augmented her wages ; never taking
advantage of her preference of their house to
withhold a just (others might have called it a
generous) consideration for her labors, and
quieting their consciences by a resolution to
recompense her at some convenient season, -
that future indefinite, so convenient to the
debtor, so hopeless to the creditor.
Mrs. Barclay was certainly a most success-
ful grower of the virtues ; but with the best
moral cultivation, human infirmity is a weedy
soil, and poor Martha sometimes, wearied with
the unvaried routine of domestic service,
became, like others, unreasonable and fretful.
She was not fretted at in turn, and wondered
at, as servants are (as if they alone should be
exempt from human weakness), but sent to
recreate herself in her native New England;
whence she returned, strong and cheerful to'
But we are leaving too long unsettled the
interests of our little friend Biddy.
" Martha," said Mrs. Barclay, Â« the Phealans
are breaking up at last."
_ "Are they indeed, ma'am? I am sorry for
it; they have been a sight to behold, that
A TRUE Â»TORY. 17
family. I never could look at them without
"Courage!" thought Mrs. Barclay; "if
Martha once has what she calls feelings, all
will go right. Poor Biddy," she continued,
" is looking puny; she has been too much shut
up with the baby. â She is a nice, bright
" Yes, she is indeed, ma'am."
"I wish, Martha, she could get a good
"I wish she could, ma'am, but she is not fit
tor service yet."
"No, not exactly; I suppose hardly any-
body would be willing to take the trouble of
her for two or three years yet, while she is
going to school."
"I suppose not, but they would be well
paid for it afterwards,- â such a very good
"That they would, Martha; but there arc
so few persons that are willing to take trouble
now, for a possible reward hereafter."
"I know it ; there's few, even of those that
aim to do right, that are willing to pay the
cost. You and Mr. Barclay" â Martha
stopped ; it was not in her line to pay direct
"Mr. Barclay and I, you think, perhaps,
might be willing to stretch out a helping hand
to poor Biddy ; and so we should, and would,
but the trouble, Martha, would come upon
" O ma'am ! in such a case, â for a poor lit-
tle orphan like Biddy, and so good too, I
should not mind the trouble."
" If you really would not, Martha, I should
take her joyfully into the family. But you
must consider well ; you will have her con-
stantly with you. You know you don't like a
child under your feet. If she is brought up in
the family, you will have to teach her ; for you
know I do not choose to keep any one to wait
on the children. It will be a task, and a long
one, Martha ; but then, if you should decide to
undertake it, you will have the consolation of
doing a great service to a fellow creature.
Think of it, Martha, and decide for yourself."
Martha took time for consideration, and then
little Biddy was installed, a most happy and
grateful member of the family ; and Martha,
who had been generously allowed to be a free
agent in the good work, bore all the little
trials it brought with patience, and trained
Biddy with a zeal that enters only into volun-
1 ' The poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life,
A DARK DAY. 89
When they can know and feel that they have been
the dealers out
Of some small blessings, - have been kind to such
As needed kindness."
A DARK DAY.
Â» A foolUh son is the calamity of his father."
There are seldom allotted to humanity four-
teen years of such success and happiness as
had been experienced by the Barclays. In
this time, Mr. Barclay had secured a compe-
tency. His competency did not merit the
well-known satirical definition of being a Â« little
more than a man has," but was enough to
satisfy his well regulated desires, to provide
for the education of his children, and to save
his daughters from the temptation of securing
a home, in that most wretched of all modes,
by marrying for it. It was no part of his plan
to provide property for his sons. Good char-
acters, good education, and a start in the world,
was all they were to expect. This they per-
fectly understood. As soon as they were capa-
ble of comprehending them, they were made
acquainted with their father's affairs, minutely
informed of the condition of his property, and
his plans for the future. Mr. Barclay despised
that mean jealousy with which some parents
hide then- pecuniary affairs from their children,
-some husbands from their wives even, as if
they were not joint and equal proprietors in
He had now nearly reached the p.riod when
he meditated a great change in his life. From
the beginnrng of his career in the city, he had
ooked forward with a yearning heart to the
Â£ne when he might retire to Greenbrook.
His children often visited their relatives there
It was their Jerusalem, to which the heart
made all its pilgrimages. The old parsonage
had recently come into market; Mr BaÂ°r
day had purchased it ; and it was a fixed mat-
ter, that in the ensuing spring, as soon as the
house could be repaired, the family should
remove thither. In the mean time, this long
hoped-for event was the constant theme of
father, mother, and children. Improvements
and occupations were planned by day, and
at night Mr. Barclay's dreams were of that
home of his childhood. Again he was wading
and swimming in that prettiest of all streams
that circled the meadows, slaking his thirst
A DARK DAY. 91
from the moss-grown bucket, and making cupa
and saucers for little Anne Hyde from the
acorns under the great oak-tree at the end of
Alas! disappointment comes to the moBl
prudent, when least expected and often when
It was just before Christmas, aboul the
animal period when business is investigated
and it- results ascertained. Mr. Barclay had
been shut up all the morning in his count ing-
room with his elder partner, Norton. Then-
accounts stood fairly, and showed a prosperous
business and great increase of profits. The
old man did not seem at all animated by this
happy state of things, lie was absent and
thoughtful, and nothing roused him till Mr.
Barclay said, " I do not believe you will ever
regret taking my advice and putting Harry
into the printing-office."
"Never, never," repeated Norton, emphati-
"I should not be surprised," continued Mr.
Barclay, " if he were in the end richer than
his brother, and I am sure he will not be less
happy, nor less respectable."
A half-suppressed groan escaped Norton.
"You are not well, sir?"
" No, I am not well, â I have not been well
for a long time, â I never expect to be again.
u O sir ! you are needlessly alarmed."
" No, no ; I am not alarmed, â not alarmed
sbout my health."
" You have worked too hard this morning.
You will feel better for the fresh air : I will
walk home with you."
The fresh air did not minister to the mind
diseased. Norton's depression continued dur-
ing the walk. He said little, and that little in
broken sentences, in praise of his son Harry.
" He is an honest boy, Barclay, â good princi-
ples, â good habits, â owes them all to you,
â he'll be able to shift for himself, if â he's
a good boy, Barclay."
When they reached Norton's fine residence
in Hudson Square, his daughter Emily, a child
of eleven or twelve, met them at the door,
exclaiming, "O papa, the men have hung
the lamps, and brought the flowers, and the
rooms look beautifully ! "
In her eagerness she did not at first give
any heed to Mr. Barclay's presence , but when
she did she nodded to him, stammered through
the last half of her sentence, turned on her
heel, and briskly ran through the entry ahd up-
stairs. Norton was roused, his energy was
excited by what he deemed a necessary exer-
tion, and he begged Mr. Barclay to enter, say-
ing he had a word to say to him in private.
A DARK DAY. yd
Mr. Barclay followed him into one of his two
tine drawing-rooms; the folding doors wort-
open, and both were furnished in a style that be-
comes the houses of our wealthiest merchants.
The apartments were obviously in prepara-
tion for a party. The servants were going to
and fro with the most bustling and important
air. Norton looked round with a melancholy
gaze, and then asked .Mr. Barclay to follow
him to a small breakfasting-room. He shut
the door, and, after a little moving of the
chairs and hemming, he said, " We are to
have a great party this evening, Barclay."
" So I perceive, sir."
M It is a party that John's wife gives for
" Indeed ! "
"It an't my fault, Barclay, nor Harry's â
Heaven knows! nor can it be called Em's â
poor child! these foolish notions are put in her
head ; but it is John's wife's fault, â and John's
too, I must own, that your folks are not asked."
" My dear sir, do not give yourself a mo-
ment's uneasiness about it. It would be no
kindness to my family to invite them ; they
know none of Mrs. John Norton's friends, and
these fine parties are not at all in our way."
" It is the better for you, â it is all cursed
folly, â I see it too late."
Mr. Barclay responded mentally and most
heartily, " Amen," and was going away, when
Norton laid his hand on his arm, saying,
" Don't blame Harry ; he is good and true, â
he is your own boy, you've made him all he
is ; don't blame him."
" I assure you I blame no one, my good
friend," said Mr. Barclay, and hurried home,
thinking a great deal of Norton's dejection,
but not again of the party, till, in the even-
ing, Harry Norton joined his family circle as
usual, and stayed till bedtime ; but was not,
as usual, cheerful and sociable.
The elder Norton was an uneducated man.
He spent all his early life in toiling in a lean
business, and accumulating, in consequence of
his very frugal house-keeping, his small gains.
When Mr. Barclay threw his talent into the
concern, it at once became thriving ; and when
John Norton, whose education his ignorant
father had been quite incapable of directing,
was of a marriageable age, he was reputed the
son of a rich man. Being ambitious of a
fashionable currency, he succeeded in marry-
ing a poor stylish girl, who immediately
introduced her notions of high life into her
father-in-law's house, and easily induced the
weak old man to fall into her plan of setting
up a genteel establishment, and living fashion-
A DARK DAT. 95
ably y " weakly imitating" (as has been pithily
said) " what is weakest abroad." Old Xorton
had but three children ; two by a second mar-
riage. Harry was in firm hands, and easily
managed, but poor little Emily was removed
from all her old associates, sent to a French
school, and fairly inducted into a genteel
The party was over, and a beautiful Christ-
mas morning followed. Mrs. Barclay was in
her nursery and Mr. Barclay still in his room,
where he had already received the greetings
of his children as they passed downstairs;
M A merry Christmas, father ! " and " The next
at Greenbrook, and oh, how merry it will be! "
Another and hurried tap at the door, and
M May I come in, sir ? "
" Yes, Harry, come in. Mercy on us ! what
is the matter, my boy ? "
Harry Norton was pale and breathless ; he
burst into tears, and almost choking, ex-
claimed, "John has killed himself!"
Â« Your brother ! â John ! â God forbid ! "
" Indeed he has, sir, and that is not the
worst of it."
" What can there be worse ? "
"O Mr. Barclay!" replied the poor lad,
covering his burning cheeks with both hands,
" I cannot bear to tell."
What Harry in a broken voice, and tears
poured out like rain for the shame of another,
told, was briefly as follows. John, without
education for business and without any cap-
ital of his own, had engaged largely in mer-
cantile concerns, and had plunged deeply into
that species of gaming called speculation. His
affairs took a disastrous turn, and after his
credit was exhausted, his paper was accepted
by virtue of the indorsement of Norton and
Co., which he obtained from his weak father
without the concurrence or knowledge of Mr.
Barclay. A crisis came. The old man refused
any farther assistance. John committed a
fraud, and, when soon after he perceived that
detection and ruin were inevitable, he resolved
on self-murder. He spent an hour or two at
his wife's Christmas-eve party, talked and
laughed louder than anybody else, drank
immeasurably of champagne, and retired to
the City Hotel to finish the tragedy by the
last horrid act. Thus, poor wretch, did he
shrink from the eye of man, to rush into His
presence, with whom the great account of an
outraged nature and a misspent life was to be
His family were roused from their beds to
hear the horrible news. The old man's health
had long been undermined in consequence of
A DAEKDAV. 97
his anxiety about his son's affairs, and the
reproaches of his conscience for the secret
wrong he had done his partner. The Bhock
was too much for him. It brought on nervous
convulsions. At the first interval of reason
he sent for Mr. Barclay. Mr. Barclay has-
tened to him with poor Harry, who looked
more like the guilty, than like the innocent
victim of the guilt of another.
Reflections swarmed in Mr. Barclay's mind,
as he passed to the dying man's room through
the luxurious apartments where pleasure, so
called, had, through the demands of waste
and extravagance, led to the fatal issue. Some
of the lamps were still burning, or smoking in
their sockets, lie passed the open door of
the supper-room. There still stood the relies
of the feast, â fragments of perigord pies,
drooping flowers, broken pyramids, and piles
â literally piles â of empty champagne bot-
tles; an enormous whiskey-punch howl,
drained to the last drop, stood in a niche
in the entry. * The door of Mrs. Norton's
apartment was open, â she in hysterics on
the sofa, her attendants running in and out,
* The writer was told by a lady, that, after a party at her
house where one of these mammoth punch-bowls had been
nearly emptied, she offered a glass of the beverage to a ger-
vant. " No, I thank you, madam," he replied, " I belong to
the Temperance Society." What a satire !
their minds divided between the curiosity
ever awake on such occasions and the wants
of the weak sufferer. When at last Mr. Barclay
reached the old man's apartment in the third
story, he found him bolstered up in his bed,
breathing painfully. When he saw Mr. Bar-
clay enter, followed by Harry, a slight shiv-
ering passed over his frame. He stretched out
his arm and closed his eyes ; Mr. Barclay took
his hand. Norton felt that there was no
longer time for delay or concealment. He
attempted to speak, but his organs were now
weaker than his mind. After several futile
efforts, his quivering lips uttered the words,
" I have â much to tell you, â John â I â
John, â oh, I cannot ! "
" You need not, sir ; Harry has told me."
Norton turned his eager eye to his son.
The blood that seemed to be congealed at his
heart, once more flushed to his cheek. " All,
Harry ? " he asked in a husky voice.
" Yes, sir ; Mr. Barclay knows all that we
Norton's eye again explored Mr. Barclay's
face. No reproach was there, â not even a
struggling and repressed displeasure, â noth-
ing but forgiveness and pity. The poor man
understood it, and felt it to his heart's core.
He was past tears, but the veins of his fore-
A DARK PAY. 99
head swelled, his features were convulsed, and
he said in a broken voice, "Oh, how kind ! but
I can't forgive myself; â poor John! â he's
past it ! Tin going, and I can't â I can't even
ask God to â forgive me."
" My dear friend ! do not say so, â God is
infinitely more merciful than any of his creat-
ures. He pitieth us, even as a father pitieth
These words seemed to the poor man's
spirit like water to parched lips. He looked
at his son, and thru at his little daughter,
Emily, who was kneeling behind the bed with
her face buried in the bed-clothes, and he
realized in the gushing tenderness of his own
parental feelings the full worth of that benig-
nant assurance which has raised up so many
desponding hearts. u Can you â will you
pray for me?" he asked.
"Most certainly I will."
" But now, I mean, â aloud, so that I can
hear you.' 1
Mr. Barclay knelt at the bedside. Harry
threw himself down by his Bister, and put his