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FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Dime Novel and Popular Literature
The Youth's companion
Volume 37 (1863)
The Youth's companion, v. XXXVII, no. 29, Thursday, July 16, 1863.
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The Youth's companion, v. XXXVII, no. 29, Thursday, July 16, 1863.
6 March 2020
Boston : Olmstead & Co.
Dime Novel and Popular Literature
The Door in the heart.
Children's periodicals, American.
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NUMBEBR 29, _ OLMSTEAD & CO., PUBLISHERS. THE DOOR IN THE HEART. : She was a stern and hard woman, but far away, up. a 4 great many pairs of winding s.airs, in her heart was a 4 door easily passed by and on that door was written RLES . And so it is with the drundard. | Far up a rest many ‘pairs of winding stairs in his heart, is a door, and on that door i is written Max, twice, seven time— emaet seventy times seven—that it may open unto us—Joun B. Gov “. He was an old man—not so old, either, for the years of his life could not have wrinkled his fore- head and whitened his hair, and’ the hands locked together on the low pine table did not tremble so with the weakness of age; yet very old and very miserable looked the solitary occupant of that nar- .row room or entry, with its faded red curtains, and its atmosphere rendered almost intolerable by the “bar-room. into which it opened. A hat, bearing “ ‘unmistakable evidence of long intimacy with “brick- bats and gutters,” maintained a safe. position on one side of the owner’s head; and a pair of elbows thrust themselves through his coat-sleeyes in re- joicing consciousness that they could “afford to be out.” Add to this, reader, a pair of pants. whose original color would have been a matter of time and study to determine, and you haye the tout. ensem- ble of the wretched being who occupied the back of the only grog-shop which he -was allowed to fre- quent in all the villagé of Greenfield. And yet that miserable, solitary, friendless crea- ture, sitting there half stupefied with :the effects of last night’s revel, and utterly unconscious that out- side the May morning had been born of God, with its glorious birthright of sunshine, and dews, and _ bird-songs, has a heart, and “far away, up a great many pairs of stairs in his heart, is a door,” covered with cobwebs and dust ; and on that door is a word », Written, which time and sin have never been able to efface ; and that word,is MAN. But nobody ever dreamed of this, and people shook their heads, and said Billy Strong’s case was a hopeless one. Had not many kind-hearted per- sons reasoned with him earnestly on the evil of his ways? Had not the “temperance men” gone to him with the pledge, and promised him employ- ment if he would sign it? And all this had been in vain. "Ah, none of them had groped their way up the winding stairs, and read the name on the hidden door there! But while the unhappy man sat by the pine table that morning, the bar-keeper suddenly. entered, followed by a lady with soft, hazel eyes, and a face that a child would have gone to in any trouble, The old man looked up with a vacant gaze of wonder, as the bar-keeper offered the lady a chair, and pointed to the occupant of the other, saying : “That's Bill Strong, madam,” and with a lin- gering stare of surprise and curiosity, left the gentle woman alone with the astonished and now thor- oughly sobered man. The soft eyes of the lady wandered with a sad, pitying expression over Bill's features, and then in a low, sweet voice she asked: "Am I rightly informed? Do I address Mr. ‘William Strong ?” Ah! with these words the lady had gotten fur- ther up the winding stairs, nearer the hidden door than all that had gone before her. . | - . “Yes, that is my name, ma’am,” said old Bill, and he glanced down at his shabby attire, and ac- tually tried to hide the elbow which was peeping out the farthest, for it was a long time since he had been addressed by that name, and, somehow, it seemed very pleasant to him. “J am very glad to meet you, Mr. Strong,” said the lady. “I have heard my father speak of you so often, and of the days when you and he were boys together, that I almost feel as if we were old ac- quaintances. You surely cannot have forgotten Charles Morrison ?” . “No, no; Charles and I used to be old. cronies,” said Old Bill, with a sudden animation, and a light in his eyes such as had not been there for many a day, except when rum lent it a fitful brilliancy. Ab! the lady did not know, as perhaps the an- 4 gels did, that she had mounted the stairs, and was softly feeling for that unseen door. So she went cle nem “ ag acaeeererrcann Sree Ne FSI NI ee =e Serene ok ee on: : so “J alntost feel as though I could see the old set » upon which your homestead stood,’Mr. Strong, I } \ ave heard father deseritte it so often. The hill, Ww ie - JENNY ARMSTRONG’S BOUQUET, with its crown of old oaks, at the back of your house, and the field of golden harvest grain that waved in front. Then there was a green grass plot before the front door, and the huge old apple tree that threw its shadows across it, and the great old- fashioned portico, and the grape-vine that crept around the pillars, and the rose-bush that looked in at the bed-room window, and the spring that went flashing and singing through the bed of mint at the side of the house.” . Old’ Bill moved uneasily in his chair, and the muscles around his mouth twitched occasionally ; but, unmindful of this, in the same low, sweet tones, the lady kept on: “ ‘Many and many were the hours,’ so father would say, ‘Willie and I used to pass under the shadow of that old apple tree, playing at hide and seek, or rolling and tumbling about on the grass, telling each other the things we would certainly do when we became men; and when the sun set its cap of gold on the top of the oaks, I can see Wil- lie’s mother standing in the front door, with her white cap-and checked apron, and the pleasant smile that always hovered around her’ lips, and hear her cheerful voice calling, ‘Come, boys, come to supper.’ *” One after another the big, warm, blessed tears came rolling down Old Bill's pale cheeks.: Ab! the lady had found the door then. ’ “«T was always at home at Willie's,’ father would say, ‘and used to have my fresh milk and bread, too; and when this had disappeared, Willie would draw his stool to his mother’s feet, lay his head on her lap, and she would tell us some very pleasant story ; it might be of David, or some good child who afterward became a great man; and then she would part Willie’s brown curls from his forehead, and,*in’a voice I can never forget, say, ‘Promise me, Willie, when you go into the world and its temptations, and your mother is laid down to sleep in the church-yard yonder, promise me, child, that her prayers and her memory shall keep you from all evil ways.’ And Willie would lift his laughing blue eyes to her face, and say, ‘I'll be a first-rate man; don’t be afraid, mother’ And then, after we had said our prayers, we would go to bed as happy as the birds that went to their nests in the old ap- ple-tree branches by the window, and just as we were ‘sinking to sleep, we would hear a soft foot- fall on the. stairs, and a loving face would bend over, to see if we were nicely tucked up, ‘It isa long time,’ father would say, after a pause, ‘since I heard from Willie, but sure Iam that he has never ye we ysew te . | fallen into evil ways. .The memory of his mother would keep him from that.’.” Rap, rap, rap! went the words of the lady at the door of that man’s heart. . Crack, crack, crack! went the door on its rusty hinges ; while far above them both the angels of God held their, breath and listened. But the lady could only see the subdued man bury his face in his hands, and ‘while bis whole frame shook like an aspen leaf, she heard him murmur, amid child-like sobs: “My mother! O, my mother!” And she knew the tears were washing out also many a dark page in the record of Old Bill's past life; so, with a silent prayer of thankfulness, she resumed : “But there was one scene father loved to talk of better than all the rest. It was on the morning you were married, Mr. Strong. ‘It was enough to do one’s eyes good,’ he used to say, ‘to look at them as they walked up the old, church-aisle; he with his proud, manly tread, and she a. delicate, fragile creature, fair as the orange blossoms that trembled in her hair. I remember: how clear and firm his voice sounded through the old church, as he promised to love, protect and cherish the fair girl at his side; and I knew, as he looked upon her, the very winds of heaven should not, . Visit her face too roughly.’ “And then my father ‘would tell us of a home made very bright by watchful affection, and. of a dark-eyed boy and a fair-haired girl who came after awhile to gladden it; and then you know he re- moved to the West and Jost sight , of 2 YOU, Mr, Strong. Once again the lady paused, for the agony of the man before her was fearful to behold; and when she spoke again, it was in a lower and more mourn- ful tone: “I ‘promised my father, previous to’ his death, that if I ever visited his native State, I would seek out his old friend. But when I inquired for you, they unfolded a terrible story to me, Mr. Strong; they told me of a broken, desolate household; of the gentle, uncomplaining wife, who went down, with a prayer on her lips for the erring husband, broken-hearted to the grave; and of the fair- haired girl they placed in a little while by her side. O, it is a sad, sad story I have heard of my father’s old friend.” “It was I! It was I that did it all! I killed them!” said Old Bill, in'a yoice hoarse with emo- tion, as be lifted his head from his clasped hands and looked upon the lady, every feature wearing aes 22 SCHOOL STREET, BOSTON. such a look of agony and remorse that she shud- dered to behold it.. Wide, wide open stood the door then, and the lady hastened to pass in, A small hand was laid gently upon Old Bill’s arm, and a sweet voice murmured: “Even for all this there is redemption. In the name of the mother that loved you, in the name of your dying wife and of the child that sleeps beside her, I ask you, will you sign the pledge ?” hand with such force on the pine table that its rheumatic limbs hardly regained their equilibrium, placed before him, and when he returned them to her the name of William Strong lay in broad, legi- ble characters upon the paper. ‘ tee There was an expression, ludicrous from ‘its ex- treme curiosity, on the bar-keeper’s face, as. the lady passed quietly through the “shop,” after. the long interview with Old. Bill;, and the expres- sion was in no degree lessened, when, in a few mo- ments after, Old Bill followed her without stopping, as usual, to take his first glass... And he never passed over that threshold again! And now, reader, you whose heart throbs with tenderness and reverence for humanity, fallen, de- spised, miserable though it may be, remember that somewhere in the heart of your fellow-man is a door, which, though closed for many years, will surely open to the hand that knocks in kindness and the voice that calls in love. For the Companion, — ; wt WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, : There were a great many happy faces in Miss Weston’s school one afternoon, when she said, just before closing, ““You need ‘not bring your dinners to-morrow. “I intend to give you a half-holiday.” What a few words it takes to make school chil- dren happy! Such shouting, and: talking,’ and planning as there was when school was dismissed that day!: What should they do with their half- holiday? This was the great question; and it was finally decided to go to the “Bush Lots” and ‘Pick berries. . “We will take our inch: with us, eid have a splendid time, if it only doesn’t rain,” said Susan, looking hopefully at the western sky. “O it won't rain; for see how clear the sun is setting !” said Arthur, wisely. “ And so, amid talking and arranging ibe plans, they reached their homes. i “What makes you so late, Alice ” asked Mrs. Brown: “Why, we've been settling about ‘to-morrow. Miss Weston is going to give us holiday in the afternoon, and we are all going berrying over to the Bush Lots. : Won't it be nice?» And I'll bring you ever so many berries, Lily,” she said, going up to: her sister, who sat-in the large arm-chair, propped up by pillows, Lily: was younger than Alice, but she looked older, for her face was thin and pale, and she had.been always afflicted with sickness, and not able to run about and play like other children. . Alice was very kind to her, and now she sat down to tell her all about their plans for the next afternoon, promising her plenty of beautiful fresh berries for her tea; Lily, all the while, looking very much pleased. \sAlice’s father was late that’ evening, aad che went to bed early, without waiting to see him, 80 as to be all bright for the next day. . * “Do you think. it will rain, mother ?” she whe, the last thing as she bade her good night. : . “No; I think it will. be clear,” was the answer; and with this comforting thought Alice closed her eyes. She was up with the sun the next morning, and clapped her hands for joy when she saw the clear, bright sky, the promise of a pleasant day. She went to breakfast, expecting everybody to be glad with her, in the prospect of a delightful holi- day: but even in the midst of her joy, she noticed atroubled look upon her mother’s face, which made her ask if “anything had happened.” ©”. - _.“Let us have breakfast first, Alice, and then 3 we will talk,” said her mother. “OQ please mother, tell me now, beeause—well— I don’t want much breakfast this morning.” “Well, Alice, your father received a letter last evening, which calls us both away to-day; and we shall not be able to return before the night train. “I will,” said Old Bill; and he brought down his. and he eagerly seized the pen and pledge the lady J Al ce RR SY i f