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Don't Ruin the poor man's character.‘"What causes such a cloud upon your brow this morning, Mr. Babcock?"’ asked Mrs. B., as her usually placid husband turned from his scarcely tasted breakfast and looked gloomily into the fire, as if seeking to find consolation in its varying glow. ‘"I hardly know how to tell you Jane, but as you must know it, I suppose the sooner the better."’ ‘"What can have happened?"’ ejaculated Mrs. B., trembling violently and setting down the cup which she was at that instant raising to her lips. ‘"Don't turn so pale, my dear,"’ said Mr. B. as if wakened from a painful dream by the sight of his partner's agitation. ‘"I had no intention of alarming you thus, and there is no real cause for it. We certainly have reason for depression in the fact that Mr. Griswold, whom I made my confidential clerk, and trusted almost as myself, should abuse his trust, and appropriate my funds to his own use, occasioning me much inconvenience and much loss; but, indeed love,"’ said he, drawing her to his side, a thousand dollars need not make you tremble." ‘"And how much will you lose by him?"’ said Mrs. B.; a true wife's anxiety for her husband's perplexities taking the place of all other feelings. ‘"Not much, my dear. Fortunately the first transaction has come to my knowledge, or there is no knowing where the mischief might have ended. A thousand dollars is the extent of the loss, but just now I can but illy spare even that."’ ‘"Well, dear husband, do not let that disturb you. You know you had intended to get me a carriage at this time; now I am as able to walk as ever I was, and having no false pride in the matter, we will put it off a year longer, and thus prevent your feeling the inconvenience. But now I am easy about you, I must ask what you intend to do with Mr. Griswold. I am sorry for him; and his young wife, too, so gentle and so pretty!"’ ‘"Stop Jane, or you will let your compassion for them run away with your memory of what is due to society. If this is lightly passed over, he may do the same thing again, and thus run a course of vice which must end in his utter ruin!"’ ‘"And if you expose him will not that ruin him at once, without giving him an opportunity of repentance? Consider, dear husband, that it is his first offence, and losing his situation with you must be punishment enough."’ And as with tearful eyes she pleaded the cause of mercy, the tender heart of Mr. Babcock, always averse to harshness, yielded to her solicitations, and he promised to pursue the matter no further than parting with Mr. Griswold; losing sight entirely of the injury he was doing society, by letting loose upon it a man without principle to prevent his wronging every one who trusted him. The plea of not ruining the poor man's character seeming at the time more forcible than the just reasoning he had held with himself, he left the house and proceeded to his counting-room. It was quite late in the afternoon when Mr. G. made his appearance, and entering with a melancholy countenance stood before the man whose confidence he had abused. ‘"I suppose,"’ said he, after an embarrassed pause, turning from the calm eyes of Mr. B., which, mild as they were, seemed to pierce his soul; ‘"I suppose you can no longer employ me, after my conduct, and that I must come upon the world as an acknowledged sharper. There is no other course before me, if I am exposed. But, sir, if you knew my pure minded wife, have pity on her, and for her sake do not drive me to despair. I may repay my wrong if a chance is given me, and by a steady course of industry again restore myself to your confidence. O, sir, I know not what could have driven me to this mad step; to forfeit the confidence of one who has always been to me more a friend than a master. Indeed, sir, I dare not hope for your forgiveness, but, for my poor wife's sake, do not ruin my character entirely."’ He paused, and hiding his face in his handkerchief, appeared overcome by his feelings Mr. B. could not bear the sight of such distress in one whom he had trusted, and almost loved as a son, and brushing the moisture hastily from his eyes, said--. ‘"Well, well, Mr. G., do not take on in this way; I have talked over the matter with my wife, and she has already persuaded me to be content with discharging you from my employment, and leaving you a chance of doing better. I have yielded to my feelings, I confess, against my reason, and beg of you, as you would not burden my conscience with the sin, to act uprightly in future, and let me rejoice in seeing a fellow-creature saved from destruction."’ Mr. Griswold appeared full of gratitude, and, after many promises for the future, at last, and with much stammering, asked Mr. Babcock if he might refer to him as to his business capabilities. This was rather a hard question for the good-hearted, but honest man. He hesitated for some time, and at last said, ‘"If you do, it must be at your own risk; for it I am questioned as to your honesty, I must tell the truth. I will not, however, reveal the past unless questioned, trusting that you have now learned that no man without integrity can prosper."’ Mr. G. said he was content with this leniency, and departed, leaving his former employer in a state of inquietude which he had never before experienced. There was an inward voice constantly reminding him that he was not ‘"doing as he would be done by,"’ in suffering a man to pass for honest when he knew the contrary, thereby subjecting others to perhaps greater losses than he had himself experienced.--But the softness of his heart prevented the golden rule by asking, ‘"and would I wish to be punished for all my misdeeds?"’ He was not tranquil when he took up his way to his comfortable home for dinner, but the smiles of his wife, her cheerful conversation and fond praise for his kindness, at last made him almost think he had done right. The next afternoon he received a note requesting him to give the qualifications of Mr. Griswold, formerly his clerk. Conscience began to whisper, but remembering his promise to his wife, and the penitent man, he took up his pen, and recommended him as ‘"one who was attentive to his business, active, and well versed in mercantile affairs."’ As he received no further inquiries, he felt comparatively easy, Honesty had not been called in question; and he dismissed the affair as much as possible from his mind. About two years after the time of the above occurrence, Mrs. B. was sitting in her rocking chair, talking to a beautiful babe, and her husband, in his undress coat and slippers, sat looking on with an expression of countenance that told his happiness and his affection for the sweet beings before him. He rose, and taking the child, began tossing it in his arms, and, with many expressions of fondness, joined in its infant laughter. This happy party was disturbed by the entrance of a servant with a note for Mr. B. The man stated that the boy who delivered it said Mr. Babcock must have it at once, and immediately ran away. Mr. B. was about to throw it on the table, feeling too happy to let a trifling affair, as he supposed from the messenger's actions this must be, disturb him. But his wife begged him to read it, and taking the babe from his arms and soothing it to rest, placed it in the cradle. On looking at the countenance of her husband, late so joyous, she saw with surprise the marks of strong and evidently painful emotion; and upon his calling for his hat and boots, she could not restrain her anxiety, but eagerly inquired the cause of his uneasiness. ‘"Read that, Jane,"’ said he placing the letter in her hand, ‘"and you will see."’ So saying he hurried from the room and house, without further adieu. Mrs. Babcock remained a moment, gazing at the closed door, not knowing to what cause such abruptness on the part of her husband could be attributed. At last, rousing all her faculties, she sat down, and was soon as much agitated by the perusal of the letter as her husband had been. It was from Mr. Griswold. After many incoherent expressions of remorse, it went on--‘"Had you not, by your mistaken kindness, been the means of placing me in a situation I was not fit for, how different would my life have been. I craved your forgiveness, and had that alone been conceded, had you refused to recommend me to another office of trust, I should have retired to the new world of the West, and a life of honest industry might have been followed by a death of peace. How different from that which awaits me now. My weak principles having once given way, I was ready to look upon your leniency as arising from a sense of the lightness of my offence! If you did not totally abhor me, why should I so bitterly contemn myself? Forming, however, resolutions, which, alas, I hoped to keep, I entered the situation, and for a short time discharged my duties faithfully; but when large sums were intrusted to my care, and my accounts seldom examined, temptation assailed me on all sides. I asked myself why should I not escape at least as easily as before? If discovered in a ' slight appropriation,' why should I be more blamed than another? And many examples began now to be placed before me. Enough! I succumbed. At first, small sums contented me; but sin never allows its victims to rest at any given point I kept on — and now my speculations have all failed — my employer is involved by my guilt, and I go to the bar of that God for whose mercy I dare not pray. Succor my poor wife, who must now suffer for my crimes."’ The letter dropped from the nerveless hand which had held it. The reproaches it contained seemed armed with a double sting; for would not her husband also feel that they were deserved? Alas, for humanity! how may the best intentions be productive of misery it not guided by the only rule of right! Who can answer for the consequences of their slightest act? Weeping, oppressed with bitter thoughts, Mrs. B. awaited the return of the husband she for the first time almost dreaded to see.--Would he not reproach her who had led him to act contrary to his convictions of right? Alas! she could answer nothing. She could but weep. When Mr. Babcock arrived at the house of the wretched man all was confusion. That gentle wife — how! changed! Shrieking, struggling with those who sought to restrain her — uttering the most heart-piercing exclamations, until exhausted nature found relief in insensibility — those children, frightened at the scene of their mother's anguish, joining their cries to her's — and, most horrible to behold, that lifeless body — those scattered brains — but it is enough — let us draw the curtain on the wretched scene. Six months after, we may see, in a neat chamber of Mr. Babcock's house, a young woman breathing out her stricken soul in prayer — prayer for the children she was leaving behind, in a world where she had known so much sorrow. Around the bed were kneeling her host and hostess, and those poor children whose name was but a heritage of shame. The dying mother's prayer rose fervently for them. ‘"C, lead them not into temptation,"’ was the burden of that prayer, and she expired with the petition yet warm upon her lips. Never, from that time, did Mr. and Mrs. B. act in reference to these helpless beings, without reflecting on the prayer of that mother. In the lessons of right which they bestowed upon the children, they endeavored to stone, as far as lay in their power, for the temptation into which they had, unwittingly, led their unhappy parent.
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