S. M. I. (Sarepta Myrenda Irish) Henry.

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The National Temperance Society and Publication House.








A SNOW blockade has its mission. Clifton was
enjoying such a means of grace. A heavy
storm, with a strong, persistent wind, defied the
efforts of locomotives, street cars or snow-plows to
keep the world together. Every home was shut in
with itself, and its own affairs, and obliged to become
acquainted with itself, as not before in a decade.
Neighbors were separated, friends excluded, mail and
telegraph restricted, and business almost suspended.
Christian work was folded up and put away for a time.
One whole Sabbath the churches were not opened.
Pastor Wadelle, of Memorial Church, spent the day
in hallowed pleasures, with his lovely group of chil-
dren ; while Pastor Somerfield, of the old, aristocratic
Waymarket Church, sat in gown and cap in his study,
and smoked the air blue, taking an extra half hour at
dinner, over his customary wine.

At Gracia Lod^e, Annie Davton was shut in with

cT> j

her six girls, who, beside poor Maggie Dwight, and
helpful Fannie Mead, enjoyed the shelter of this
working girls' home. At Elmwood Farm there had
been held a solemn council, and protests had been
entered by John Mark, William Dayton, and Aunt


6 Beforehand.

Hittie, against Aunt Gracia's preparations for going
out into the weather, while Uncle Benjamin sat
smiling and waiting, not even wondering how it would
end, for he knew. The horses were harnessed, the
long sleigh filled with straw and robes, shawls were
laid in handy, and all was ready for an early start.

" I should be ashamed to stay at home for a little
snow, and let the devil have it all his own way to-
day," was Aunt Gracia's reply to all objections.
"Some of the men will be sure to be at the Hall, and
I must not let them go away without anything to
help them through."

" Not a church will open to-day," said William.

" All the more need of us. The W. C. T. U. is Lo
step in, where, and whenever, others do not come up.
It is ours to do the thing which no one else will do.
If we fail in this, God has no use for us."

" All right ! If you will go, I suppose we boys
ought to go along and dig you out, if you get buried
in the snow," said William Dayton, getting up, and
beginning to put on his overshoes. " Come, John
Mark, there's no rest for the wicked ! '

" No rest from the wicked, either," interrupted
Aunt Gracia, " any more than for them. It is be-
cause the wicked are so busy, that we who would do
God's work, must not rest, only as we learn how to
rest in the midst of labor, by leaning on Him."

The young men got into their overcoats and mit-
tens, and followed Aunt Gracia into the sleigh,
where, armed each with a shovel, they waited in deep
admiration on the grand courage of the sweet-faced
woman, and the loyal gray-haired lover and yoke-

Beforehand. 7

fellow, who, never remonstrating, always ready, stood
beside her in her work.

Aunt Hittie closed the door after them, and
watched from the window as the horses sent the fine
snow back in clouds, as they floundered out of the
yard, into the road.

" Well," she murmured, " I hope the good-for-
nothing fellows who come into Union Hall to get
warm to-day, will appreciate it all; but they won't;
nobody will. Gracia's just wearing herself and Ben-
jamin out, and she won't get any thanks for it,

At the Graham cottage, Charles, and Hortense,
and Clementine, passed the day together, in a way
that made the child glad of the storm, and would fix
its memory in her mind forever. The two little boys,
Philip and Benny, absent from home with Grand-
mother Graham, in the old New England homestead,
were not forgotten. Long letters from father and
mother, and a little printed one from sister, were
prepared and laid away to await the first mail out.

The Date house, just out of town, might have
been labelled, "Bottled Irritation," a contention
having arisen between Horace Date and his thirteen


year old son, Llewellen.

At the Fletcher's, Bessie kept the cornpopper go-
ing, and made taffy out of the cheapest glucose for
Sadie and Susie, to keep them quiet, so that the sick
mother could endure them in the little room.

At the Griffins, there was stormy altercation be-
cause the frail mother was not able to restrain the
reckless Henry from being quite as selfish and un-

8 Beforehand.

principled in his pleasures as his father was in his

At the Brown's, father and mother sat silent, over
books and papers, wondering why their Walter
should be turning out so badly, after all they had
done for him.

At the Monk's, the lightest of light literature, even
bordering on the obscene, was lying on chairs and
floor, within hand-reach of parents and children, loll-
ing away the sacred hours.

At the European Hotel, a variety troupe made
things merry, and kept Bridget McGuire busy, in the
effort to find out how the blonde actress put up her
hair, and made up her face into such charming grim-
aces; and how the elaborate dress of the dazzling
brunette was constructed. Her heart burned within
her to be both of these charming creatures in one.

In the prison, the crooked remains of Tom D wight
lay stretched out, on a bare board, waiting for a cof-
fin; while in his room, Hollis Ellenwood sat writing
to his mother, and dreaming of Annie Dayton.

At Lem's, all through the blockade, things went
on after the old fashion. Somehow, Lem seemed
even to grow fat, on that which made the rest of the
world lean. There had come changes within these
walls, changes, however, which seemed not to touch
him, or his profits. New faces had taken the places
of those that were seen no more, while a few old set-
tlers still looked at each other from across the lunch
and gaming-tables.

Among these latter, Walter Brown/ Henry Griffin,
and Chet Monk, were noticeable. They were nearly

Beforehand. r>

always together, and were the observed of all loung-
ers, because of their association with the famous trial
of Tom Dwight They enjoyed a notoriety which
was in itself a mark of the low tide of morality that
surged about them. But they were not entirely
consoled by these tokens of distinction, for the mis-
fortunes which had overtaken the "immortal seven."
What with Clarence in the place to which his sins
had brought him, Paul Dunwell and Bert Springer,
with Hollis Ellenwood in the Church, Y. M. C. A.
and temperance work, and Annie Dayton's House for
the girls, they were in danger of being left very much
to themselves ; and had already begun to realize
something of the loneliness of sin. They were likely
to find, as many another beside poor Tom Dwight
had done, that there is no isolation so desolate, no
loneliness so heart-sickening, as that, which sooner
or later, steals in upon every soul, that jostles
through the crowded thoroughfare known as the

During the Sabbath of the blockade, Brown and
Griffin were sitting over a lunch, with beer, in the
room where the roystering crowd had so often killed
the time, of which there was none too much for
the real life-work they had to do, when Monk
came in. He was noisily greeted by the twain, but
seemed wholly absorbed in the task of picking the ice
from his mustache and beard, and flinging it into the
grate. He stood unmoved by the fusilade of banter
and quizzing, which was aimed at him, in the usual
fashion, mingled with oaths, until he had dried his
beard and warmed his hands ; then, turning toward

i o Beforehand.

them, he let fall one word which silenced them, for a
moment, at least :

The tone was solemn, almost sepulchral. He
looked at the boys for a moment, and then with a ner-
vous laugh, turned his back "to them, standing with his
hands behind him, facing the fire. They waited for
explanations, but he seemed to have nothing more to

" Well ! " said Walter Brown, at last, with an oath.
"What's the row, diet ?" asked Henry Griffin;
" what are you monkeying that way about ? '
" He's dead ! "
" W T ho ? " cried both at once.

" Clare ? Clarence, do you mean ? " asked Brown.
''Tom D wight ? " asked Griffin.
"Wonder what name they'll put on his mile
stone ? " continued Chester Monk, giggling again in
an almost hysterical way.

" Well, well ! " said Walter Brown, leaning forward
on his hand, " Clare dead ! I should think you'd
laugh ! Say, fellows, it'll be a silent world after
this. I feel like getting out myself."

" How's that ?" said Henry Griffin. " What good
could he do you in jail ? 'Twas next thing to the
black hole."

" Yes, 'course ; but I've always had hopes of his get-
ting out and making things lively again : but death
knocks that, you know ; no getting out o' that."

" 'F he'd 'a got out," remarked Chester Monk, still
chuckling, " he'd always been blind, they say."

Beforehand. 1 1

" Blind ! "

" And a cripple ; he ! he ! '

" A cripple ! "

" A poor, mean spirited cuss 's ever you saw, if all
they tell's true. Ha ! ha ! ha ! "

" No ! How'd you come to know so much 'bout
it. Who told ? "

" Oh, I heard the soul doctor, 't lives out in the
big boarding-house, talkin' to that there Aunt Gracia.
Do you believe there ever was a storm bad enough
to keep that woman in ? Ha ! ha ! ha ! '

" Not if she thought anybody needed her," said
Walter Brown, with a touch of reverence in his tone.

There was a moment of silence, broken by an ejac-
ulation from Brown, profane as to form, but reverent
in tone and expression, followed by the exclamation :

" That woman's a Christian if one ever lived ! I
never see her without feeling that I am a sinner, and
knowing that I may be good if I will."

Walter Brown had never heard that the followers
of Him should be known by His name, and yet the
same old truth fell naturall y from his lips.

" That's awful 'bout Clare, dead ! in prison !
blind ! cripple! " said Henry Griffin. "Stop your
confounded giggling, Chet ! Makes life look gloomy,
and sours all the fun, like thunder 'n lightning does
sweet milk."

"Thunder 'n lightning! Boys! I tell you I can't
stand this any longer ! " cried Brown.

" What ? " asked Monk, with his knife blade
between his teeth, " Clare's smash up ? What's that
to us ? "

1 2 Beforehand.

" It's a good deal to me, whatever 'tis to you," and
Walter hung his hands between his knees and leaned
dejectedly on his elbows. " I tell you we're com in'
to where we get glimpses, once 'n a while, of what's
before us fellows ; and for my part I don't like the
prospect. I'm going to light out."

" Oh, yes, you're going ; you've been going to
light out for the last month. Ha, ha ! I think I see
you, Hank ; we've said good-by how many
times ? "

" Oh, several, more or less. I've said my last"

" I too ; so when you do go, you needn't expect
anything further, by way of a send-off from us.
You've stayed beyond your time a'ready 1 '

" All right, old pal ; then when I come up missing,
one of these days, you'll understand it."

" So well that we shall not need to inquire."

" So be it," said Walter ; " and now, suppose I
ask you to take one more drink all around, before we

" I shall say, ' with all my heart, old chum ; ' what
'11 you say, Hank ? "

" I shall say less, and drink more."

" Drink ! I should say you did ; ' said Walter.
*' Hank, my boy, I'm afraid your going to rival your
instructors in the gentlemanly art, and make us
regret ever taking you in tow. Honestly, I should
be sorry to see you get to- to where I am."

" Why don't you say on ; you've got more where
that came from, I know," said diet Monk.

" You're right, I have, and I would like to say it,
if 'twould do any good, but 'twont ; so I'll keep still."

Beforehand. 1 3

" How d'ye know 'twont ? " asked Henry.

" Judge you by myself, that's all. Live and
learn 's an old saw, but it cuts square to the line.
I know what I would ha' done with anybody who'd
'a said to me the things I want to say to you, and
I'll be excused, if you please.''

"Now I am curious," said Henry. (< Speak out."

Walter looked at him quizzically a moment, then
said :

"Tell me where you've started for, Hank ? '

" Where I've started for ? What do you mean ?
Haven't started at all, yet 's I know of."

" Yes, you have ; I mean figuratively speaking, of
course. What kind of a place do you intend to fetch
up in twenty, or ten years from now ? What kind of
a of a a man did you set out to make ? '

" Ha, ha ! that's a good one ! ' laughed Chester
Monk. " A preacher couldn't ha' asked it better."

" Well, I'm going to have an answer, now I've
asked it," said Walter. " Say Hank, how is it? Did
you set out to bring up in prison, and die and be
buried, like poor Clare ? '

" Course not ! What do you take me for ? "

" A big, green fool. ' Of course not ! ' nobody
ever did. 'Going to escape myself! can't catch
me ! ' That's what every last one of us thinks.
Never was a bigger surprise party than when Tom
D wight came to himself, and found he was caught.
And you we all of us are on the road to the same
place I'm going to switch off, honest now, I am,
light out, and be missing. You better go 'long. I
mind the time when you'd ha' been shocked to even


14 Beforehand.

hear of the things that you do now, just as e-a-s-y
as rolling off a log. You're going it fast ; better stop,
Hank. Come, old boy, let's do it together, get out
o' Clifton, away among strangers, and begin new

and all right."

" Ha ! ha ! Well ; I declare to gracious ! 'twouldn't
do to swear in this presence, so I put it mildly," said
Chester Monk, in a derisive tone. " I hadn't the
least idea I was going to bring about a reformation,
and possible conversion, when I came in with the
news. When you get there, Walt, please tell the
Lord 'twas I started it ; maybe he'll set it down to
my credit. Of course Hank '11 go with you, won't
you, Hank ? 'twon't do to send him off in the straight
and narrow way alone."

" Guess he'll have to go 'thout me," said Henry.
" I haven't time."

" That's so ; you'll be in danger of losing your job."

" Exactly."

" And 'tis a job worth holding on to, eh, Hank ? '

" You better believe it is."

" 'S she going to the New Year dance ? '

" Dunno yet ; thinks she ha'n't nothing fit to wear,
the goose ! told it out frank 's a country milk maid.
Old Fletcher, you know look at the old coon over
there patronizes the tables in this den too liberally
for Bessie's good. I told her, ' beauty unadorned
was adorned the most,' you know. Ha, ha ! '

" She took it, of course ; " and Chet laughed loud
and long.

"Of course she did: blushed like a rose, looked
too tempting for anything ! '

Beforehand. 15

" Blushed ! well, that is sweet. Imagine Bridget
doing that sort o' thing."

" I couldn't. Bridget McGuire blush ! Honest-
ly, I shouldn't like to see Bess get to be like her;
'twould spoil her for me."

'Twould ? Well, all I have to say then, is thac you'd
better go with Walt. You're a pair of you, you are."

" For my part," said Walter, speaking again very
soberly, " I'd like to ask this Bessie Fletcher where
she's started for."

" She'd be likely to tell you ! " said Henry.

" Yes, but what does she expect ? '

" Oh, a home of her own one of these days, with a
good boy to take care of her, and love her true."

" Yes ; but will she find that if she goes your way ?"

" Well ! " sneered Henry, angrily, you must be a
crank at last, Watt. You're a pretty fellow to be
doing the Sunday School business like this. I ex-
pect, of course, to get married sometime, but the girl
will not be Betsy Fletcher."

"Well, I'd like to tell her just what she'll come to
if she goes your way. I'd like to show her Maggie
Dwight's and Bell's graves, and "

" Better introduce her to Fan Mead, and get her to
help you. Gracia Lodge 'd be a good place to put
her in."

" I wish she may escape you, Hen, and find as safe
a shelter," said Walter; " but as for me, I'm going to
light out, so I can't warn her ; and you have taken my
advice, just as I knew you would, and we're all fools
together. Come, let's have a drink for the last time."

And it was for the last time.


IEFORE we go on with our story we would
like to read the letter which Hollis Ellenwood
wrote to his mother.

" CLIFTON, Jan. 15, 18 .

" MY DEAR MOTHER : The snow lies in heaps ;
everything is blockaded. I have not heard a church
bell this morning. I shall get out by-and-by, and
go down to Union Hall, although I do not expect
any one can get down from Elmwood, to hold a
meeting. Some of the boys may venture out, and
if they do I shall want to be there to keep them com-
pany, and help them if I can. You see I begin to
class myself with the grand company of rescuers.
And besides I have a little curiosity, which will be
like snow-shoes to-day. I have heard it said that no
storm has ever been so severe yet, as to prevent Aunt
Gracia and Uncle Benjamin from coming to the Gos-
pel meeting. And because of this fact, wind and
weather have but little effect on the meeting. My
experience so far corroborates this but this storm is
just a little different from anything we have ever had,
I think, at least since the day of Gospel meetings,
so I am anxious to know how it will turn out.

" Our work has been going on granHt-

fW _-^_ -/ > MUl 1 'd.lii

Beforehand. 1 7

anxious about some of the boys. I know that if I
had done as some of .them are doing, I should have
been back in the old sinful way, giving you and all
my friends no end of trouble and sorrow, instead of
being, as I hope, my dear mother, I am, a comfort to
you. Paul D unwell and Bert Springer somehow
make me anxious. They do not come out completely
from the old haunts; I do not mean the saloons:
but the same old restaurants streets fellows. I
see them turning the same corners, -going past the
same places. When I began my new life, 1 had to make
a new map of the city for my own purpose. They
may be stronger than I, or may not feel the same
drawing of habit ; I may be needlessly anxious, but
I could not bear to have them fail, and I confess to
you, what I would not even to Aunt Gracia, that I
am anxious and fearful about them.

" This, with a few other things, makes me feel like
leaving Clifton. I really think I shall go away and
begin anew somewhere.

" I fell to thinking, after I wrote this far, and time
slipped by, so that it was time to start for the Hall
before I knew it So I had to leave my letter un-
finished for I went! And Aunt Gracia was there,
with Uncle Benjamin, John Mark, and Mr. \Vill
Dayton. They had a warm time getting through
took them over two hours to come the two miles.
The boys had to make a road in some places : but it
paid, I assure you : us, if not them. I guess they
felt paid too, from the way they enjoyed the meeting.

" The old usual crowd of men were there : - we

1 8 Beforehand.

missed Charley Graham, however, who was detained
at home with his family. One lot of rough fellows
said they came just to get ahead of Aunt Gracia once.
And it was real funny to see the glances and grim-
aces they exchanged, when she came in, looking
like a June day. She had been in the Smither's sit-
ting-room below, for an hour or more, of course, and
came in without bonnet or wrap; just her white cap
on her head. After a second of surprise, a perfect
storm of applause broke out. She just threw a kind
smiling look out of her eyes at us all, and announced
the hymn :

' From every stormy wind that blows/

and then led the singing herself, for, of course, the
choir of girls was not there. I was never in any
meeting that did me so much good. I only wished
Paul and Bert had been there, but they were not In
the course of the testimony meeting, one man said
he had heard of the death of Tom D wight in the
prison. I could see that Aunt Gracia knew of it -
and that not one of them could forget that he was
" Clarence Hollister ; " but she made no remark about
it. John Mead told me afterward that she had had a
talk with the chaplain of the prison, and that there
were hopeful things about him at last. Poor fellow !


- O, mother, how my heart goes out in gratitude to
God, for the wonderful deliverance he gave me.
What am I, that He should have had mercy on me ?
" But I must not let all the time for writing pass
without doing the one thing which I made up my
mind to, as I sat thinking this forenoon. I am going

Beforehand. 19

to open my heart, and so get you to share my bur-
den. Do you remember the talk we bad about my
future and I don't know how to put it on paper
but you will remember, I am sure, the time when
you discovered the secret that I was trying to hide
from all the world. Now I am going to tell it all.
Her name is familiar to you : it is no other than
Annie Dayton; and in telling you this, I also tell
you how hopeless I consider it for this world. Her
experience in the terrible past makes me ashamed
that I had to let her know by even a sign, that I love
her : and my own past, makes me more ashamed
still. I am not ashamed that I love her. I am glad,
happy in it in one way. Glad, because it is to me the
token of the genuineness of the new life in me. I could
not afford not to love her, but I am ashamed that- 1
could not have been strong enough not to annoy
her with it. I feel that she ought to be allowed to
live undisturbed, in the place and work she has*
chosen as a refuge from the great sorrow that would
have crushed her had she been any less than she is.
I must not disturb her : I can't afford to have her
shrink from me : and yet this must be every time I
meet her, as long as she knows that I have these
thoughts toward hen I cannot keep out of her way
here in Clifton. We meet of necessity everywhere,
in our mutual Christian work. We are both inter-
ested in the same things, seem naturally to take
hold of the same end of affairs. It seems strange
that it should be so, and I am powerless to help
it. I often think that this is the means the Lord
intends to employ to send me out into some other

2O Beforehand.

field, where my life-work as a Christian is waiting
for me.

" I don't want to move hastily, I can't afford to
make a mistake in this matter. I have prayed over
it, and now, you, mother, pray for me, that I may be
able to know just what I ought to do.

" I cannot mention this to any one of the dear
friends, to whom I usually go for counsel, for fear I
should betray the cause of the change I think of mak-
ing. It must be all between you, and me, and God.

" What queer creatures we are ! Why can't I
meet her, and work with her in the church, and be
still ? God, who made me as I am no I must
change that: God did not make me as I am: sin
has had too much to do with me to make it right
for me to finish what I began to say ; but God,
who is my Father and Redeemer, who ' knows my
frame that it is dust,' knows all about why I am as I
am, and why I must go away from the vicinity of
Annie Dayton, so as to leave her in peace. I can
understand that this will cause you some anxiety,
my dear mother, and I can wish most heartily, for
your sake, that you had a different son, but I am
truly trying to give you reason to rejoice in me. I
shall never do anything to cause you sorrow, God
being my helper. And sometime I may be able to
have you with me in a home that I shall make for
you. I have thought much about this, of late. If I
could find some point where I could open up a busi-
ness, which would furnish an income sufficient so that
I could take care of you, and make you happy, I
should be glad. Here again, I am met by the fear-

Beforehand. 2 1

ful consequences of my foolishness. At my age,
with the money I have earned, I ought to have al-
ready the means to do all this ; but, mother dear, I
will do the best I can to redeem the time already

Online LibraryS. M. I. (Sarepta Myrenda Irish) HenryBeforehand → online text (page 1 of 31)