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"That is the question you are to help me to answer," he replied.
"But you have your own idea?"
"Yes, I know what needs to be done. They must be kept busy, and kept interested and contented. They are, in some way, to be so helped back to their sense of manhood, and they are so to commit themselves to a new course of life that they will never fall again. How to effect these objects is the great question, and I really feel incompetent to answer it."
"The difficulty to be overcome in the attempt to reform a pauper of any sort, it seems to me," said Miss Larkin, "lies in the impossibility of placing him in dignified conditions. No matter what ambitions and resolutions you may be able to stir in a man whose conditions are mean and suggestive only of his animal wants, they fade out when he realizes the setting in which his life is placed. His wife and children are ragged, his tenement is filthy, his neighborhood is base, and everything around him is a draught upon his self-respect. How he is to get that which will keep him and his alive is the ever-present question. Every thought is concentrated upon his animal life. Every thought of his neighbor is engaged in the same way. In this respect they are all like babies. Everything that comes to their hands is carried at once to their mouths. They cannot see any significance in the Christianity which good people preach to them unless it will, in some way, feed them or give them money."
"Well, I have removed my men from their mean conditions," said Nicholas, "and I shall lend them books and pictures."
"I was not thinking so much about them, as about those who are in worse conditions," said Miss Larkin. "If we could only contrive, in some way, to dignify the facts of their every-day life and surroundings, to inspire ambitions and emulations among them, to enable them to see that even poverty has its poetical side, and that their pinched lives may be dignified by humble
spiritualities, we could do much for them. Until we can accomplish this, every good thing which we do for them will be debased. We must make men and women of them before they will answer to motives addressed to men and women. There is no use in addressing our religion to an open mouth; we must have the open mind and heart."
"You have taken a very large contract, my good friends," said Glezen, who had never entered very heartily into their schemes. "Wise heads have been trying to solve this problem for a great many years, and they have never solved it."
"Well," said Nicholas, "perhaps the solution of the problem is to be revealed unto babes. I believe in Christian benevolence, of the right sort, but I suspect that the benevolence of propagandism is not exactly the thing for our pauper population. There is one field, it seems to me, which Christian benevolence has never properly occupied. It has fed the mouth and clothed the back, and thus nursed the very greed which it ought to have destroyed. When it has done this, it has undertaken to give to the pauperism it has helped to develop, the Christian religion. I don't believe it can be made to grow on such a stock. I believe you might just as well preach religion to a stableful of ravenous horses. There is an intermediate ground that Christian benevolence generally has failed to occupy. There is, now and then, a missionary or a Christian preacher, who sees the right thing to be done; but most of them ignore the conditions of the life they attempt to benefit, and, after cramming and clothing the body, present their religion in the form of a sermon or a tract. I feel sure that if three-quarters of the money that has been expended on food and clothing, and Sundayschools and preaching, had been devoted to the enterprise of placing the pauper population in better conditions,-to giving them better tenements, better furniture, instruction in the facts and possibilities of common life, entertaining books, suggestive pictures, and training in household arts,-the good results to religion itself would be ten-fold greater than they are."
"Where did you learn all this?" inquired Glezen, with genuine surprise.
"I never learned it; I see it,” replied Nicholas. "I thank God that I never learned anything to cloud my instincts in this matter."
"Well, you seem to have succeeded very well with the three fellows whose salvation
you have undertaken, so far. The end is not yet, even with them, but I'm inclined to think you can manage them."
"I am going to make them help me in some way," said Nicholas. "The reformed drunkard knows what motives to address to a man who is still a slave to his vice, and I don't see why a reformed pauper cannot be as useful to the class from which he has risen."
"We must all be careful about one thing," said Miss Larkin; "we must be careful not to forget that the poor who need aid are not all voluntary paupers, and we must not forget the little children."
This remark brought out Miss Coates, whose whole heart was with the children, and who believed that the way to cure pauperism was to stop raising paupers.
"Now you touch the vital point," she said. "I have not much faith in the reformation of the confirmed paupers, but I have great faith in the training up of a generation of children that will wipe out pauperism."
"Do you suppose you can counteract on Sunday a week's teaching in pauperism?" inquired Nicholas. "Do you suppose that children who live in a room little better than a sty, and who hear nothing talked of but food and the easiest way to get it, and who are instructed to manage for the reception of benefactions from their teachers, can be cured of pauperism in a Sundayschool? Their whole life is in pauper homes and pauper conditions."
They can be taught honesty and truthfulness and moral obligation, at least," she responded.
"Under hopeless disadvantages, I fear,” he said.
"Would you advise that we let them alone?" she inquired.
“No, but they ought to have something more done for them-something more and of a different kind. Your teaching will go to waste, otherwise. You will find that parental influence will quite overbalance yours."
"I am ready to learn," she said; "but until I do learn I shall work in the old way." "Oh, tell us about Bob Spencer," said Miss Ilmansee, who was getting somewhat bored by the character of the discussion, in which she was incompetent to bear a part.
Miss Coates laughed. She had a good deal to tell, beyond what she had reported on the night of her visit to the Spencer family. Even Glezen had heard nothing of her Sunday experiences, and when, in her
own lively and graphic way, she related the incidents of her memorable encounter with one who was so very sure that he was a bad boy, his merriment was without bounds. He walked the room and clapped his hands, and roared with laughter.
"Good!" he exclaimed. "Good! Now you touch what you call the vital point. These fellows all need flogging-every man and boy of them. I tell you that what we call the Christian amenities and forbearances are lost on this whole crew. They don't understand them, and they despise them. Bob Spencer is not a pauper exactly, but he is in danger of becoming one, by his associations; and I believe his soul is as good as saved. Didn't he fight?"
"How could he?"
"And has he been to your school again?" "Regularly."
"How does he behave?"
"He not only behaves well himself, but he keeps the other boys in order, and I believe he would fight for me at the shortest notice against the greatest odds.”
"Now here's a reformation worth having," said Glezen. "Don't leave chastisement out of your scheme, Nicholas. I tell you it's worth more than all your preaching and teaching. Knock the wickedness out of them, and drive the goodness in. Sentiment is lost in this business. Miss Coates has made my life brighter from this hour, and Bob Spencer has become very dear to my heart. I'll engage him for an office-boy to-morrow."
"Oh, will you?" said Miss Coates with delight.
"Don't strike me!" said Glezen, dodging, as if he expected a blow. "I assure you I meant him no harm. I'll dress him in a blue roundabout with brass buttons, and lavish my wasting affections upon him."
The reader has already perceived that Glezen had a sharper bark than bite, and that while he assumed the attitude of an outside critic, he was quite ready to second, in any practical way that was possible to a man absorbed in his own affairs, the operations of the enthusiasts around him. His interest in his new clerk was genuine, and his knowledge of men enabled him to manage him with prudent skill. He saw that Bob Spencer had been thoroughly shamed, and brought to a "realizing sense" of the fact that he was not a very bad boy after all. That he had been heartily flogged, and had responded kindly to the influence of the discipline, won his heart for the boy.
"You are very kind," said Miss Coates. Up to the measure of my interests and the capacities of my office-that's all," said he. "You must see," he went on, "that I cannot do any more for you. I'm not the keeper of a museum for the storage of your trophies. You will be obliged to enlarge your acquaintance. I can take care of one or two of the first drops, but, when the shower comes, buckets will not do. You will be obliged to build a reservoir."
When the laugh that followed Glezen's words had subsided, Miss Larkin said:
"There is one subject that I would like to hear discussed to-night. I need to be instructed upon it, for, as it stands now in my mind, it is a burden upon my judgment and my conscience."
"Broach it, by all means," said Glezen, promptly. "Knowledge is of no account. in this company, so long as we have a man here who sees. Ladies, Mr. Minturn awaits the question."
"I'm very much in earnest, Mr. Glezen," said Miss Larkin, "so please don't make fun of me, or of anybody. You know that the times are very hard. The poor throughout the city are suffering, and we are all called upon to help them. Now, the question as to what we who have money can do for them, without injuring them, is a very important one. I have felt as if I could not spend a penny on myself—as if I ought to curtail my comforts, and drop all my luxuries. It somehow seems when I purchase anything for my own gratification, as if I were taking the bread out of mouths that are starving. My life is really made quite unhappy by this thought."
"Put her out of her misery at once, Nicholas," said Glezen. "If you don't, I shall be obliged to do it myself."
"Perhaps we had better learn what the wisdom of the world says first," said Nicholas, with a laugh, "and, if that fails, we'll fall back on the unsophisticated instinct."
"Well," said Glezen, "I suppose I am a little heterodox on this matter. One fact, however, we may all regard as established, viz., that it is a curse to a poor man to give him what his labor can fairly earn. I know it is the custom of rich people, when hard times come down upon the community, to cut off their luxuries, and all unnecessary expenditures, not because they cannot afford them, but from the fear of some disaster that may come to them. They give up their carriages, stop dining their friends, suppress their social assemblies, cease buying clothes,
and by every action and all their policy do what they can to deprive those who have ministered to their artificial wants-to their extravagances, if you please-of employment. When they have done this, and brought about a state of starvation among those who have depended upon them, then they wonder whether they had better make paupers of them or set them to work." "Bravo!" exclaimed Nicholas.
"I see, and I thank you," said Miss Larkin.
"Don't thank me," said Glezen. "Spare my blushes. You embarrass me."
"Go on," said Miss Coates, who was getting new ideas, and arriving at the practical center of the subject much quicker than she had expected to.
"Well, it seems to me," Glezen proceeded, "that if ever there is a time in a rich man's life when he should indulge in luxuries, or, perhaps, I should say, use his money in such a way as to give people work to do, it is in a time of depression like this. If he has building to do, let him build. Materials and labor are cheap, and he will never have so good a time again. He certainly will not if he waits until better times arrive. Instead of this, he shuts up his purse, curtails his expenses, and waits while people starve. The truth is that half the evils which the poor are feeling now come from the rich man's short-sightedness and cowardliness. Every luxury that he indulges in gives work to somebody. Every enterprise that he engages in, puts bread into hungry mouths. I should say that every
rich man who cuts off his luxuries in a time like this, or fails to devise all possible schemes to keep the poor employed, and then sits down and doles out his money to keep them from starving, most lamentably fails of doing his duty. I'm not a rich man, but if any of my good friends have more money than they know what to do with, I advise them to spend it for something that will give work to idle hands,-to do this at once, and do it all the time. The work that produces a garment which you procure as a luxury, is to the person who makes it a necessity. The house which you build in a time of depression, helps to bring the better time when you can get a good rent for it. The fact is that the good time we are all waiting for is locked up in the form of money in the coffers of those who refuse to use it to their own advantage, as well as to the advantage of those who are suffering for lack of labor."
"MR. MINTURN-It is best for you not to show your head at "The Crown and Crust" again. You are spotted, and you'll be took care of by them as knows you. You can't catch me if you try, so give that up. If you want to talk about the bonds, there's ways of doing it. The silver you will never see again. That's gone; but the bonds are placed, and you can get them if you are willing to come down handsome. I haven't got 'em, but I know where they be, and I
can tell you where they be, but you'll have to show the color of your money. I advise you as a friend to keep out of our part of the town, but the bonds are nearer to you than you know, and you can have 'em if you'll pay. Write to Bill Sanders, and the letter'll come to me, but that's not my name."
The little company were very much excited over the letter.
"Let me see it," said Glezen.
He took it, and read it through. "It's genuine, I think," he said, as he handed it back.
"What shall I do with it, or do about it?" inquired Nicholas.
"Do nothing in a hurry," Glezen replied. "I will see you again about it."
"I'm sure it's genuine," said Nicholas, who remembered and then recounted to his companions the bootless chase he had indulged in, on the night of his visit to "The Crown and Crust."
"The fellow is out of money again," said Nicholas, "and does not dare to offer his
bonds in the market. He undoubtedly supposes that I know their numbers, and that Wall street knows them."
The incident of the letter quite diverted the thoughts of the company from the topics they had met to discuss, and, after a desultory conversation, the visitors rose to take their leave.
"Don't go yet," said Nicholas. "I will be with you in a moment."
He passed out of the door with the intention of showing the letter to Mr. Benson. Arriving at the library, where he knew that gentleman always spent his evenings, he paused, and overheard voices. Mr. Benson had company. Nicholas hesitated. He was standing within three feet of his own bonds. He could not suspect it, of course, but there was a strange influence upon him. He had no love for Mr. Benson, but he felt that he must see him. The earnest conversation that was in progress in the room withheld him, however, and he turned reluctantly away, and rejoined his friends.
Soon they all went out together, and as Nicholas passed Mr. Benson's door, he paused. Then he went half-way down the stairs, and paused again, turned, and started to go back. He finally concluded that he would not return, and then he hurriedly ran down the stairs into the street.
Why did he not carry out his purpose? What was it that suggested it, and urged him to it? Some spiritual influence was upon him to which he was unaccustomed. Some
angel was whispering to him, though he could not understand the language. He did not know how much he had done, or failed to do, to decide Mr. Benson's fate. He could not know that the man from whom he had turned away was passing through a great temptation, and that, debased as he had been in many respects, he would have been glad of any occasion that would compel him to put the terrible bonds out of his hands.
He had now had them in his possession for several weeks. They had begun to seem like his property. In his own mind, they were beginning to form a part of the barrier that he was trying to build between himself and bankruptcy. As a last resort, he could raise money on them, and, although they were not his, he did not absolutely know whose they were. The man who had delivered them to him did not own them— that was certain. Was it a kind Providence that had placed them in his hands? Who could tell? Would it not be just as well
for the bonds to serve temporarily his purposes, who was trying to save himself and preserve his trusts, as to lie idle in his safe?
While these sophistries were exercising his mind, he knew that he was debasing himself, but there was a strange feeling of helplessness within him, as if the good angel and the bad angel of his life were engaged in a struggle for his soul.
If in this mood Nicholas had found him, and shown him the letter he had received, he would have hailed the message of the robber as a message from God. That would have decided the matter. He might not at that moment have surrendered the property,
(To be continued.)
"LE MONSIEUR DE LA PETITE DAME."
but he would have seen the impossibility of using it for himself. He would have been placed beyond the reach of a tormenting temptation-a temptation to use that which was not his by any valid title, and a temptation to bring himself to the belief that wrong was right.
Ah! if Nicholas had only gone in when he intended to go in, how different it all might have been with Mr. Benson! If he had known what the result of his visit would have been upon the man who disliked and even hated him, he would, if necessary, have burst in the door. But he did not go in.
This old lady in the box opposite was that venerable and somewhat severe aristocrat, Madame de Castro, and having gazed for a moment or so a little disapprovingly at the new arrival, she turned her glasses to the young beauty's companion and uttered an exclamation.
It was at Monsieur she was looking now. Monsieur had followed his wife closely, bearing her fan and bouquet and wrap, and had silently seated himself a little behind her and in the shadow.
| dered at, since I have exiled myself long enough to forget and be forgotten by half Paris. What is his name?"
The gentleman at her side a distinguished-looking old young man, with a sarcastic smile-began with the smile, and ended with a half laugh.
"They call him," he replied, "Le Monsieur de la petite Dame. His name is Villefort."
"Le Monsieur de la petite Dame," repeated Madame, testily. "That is a title of new Paris-the Paris of your American and English. It is villainously ill-bred."
M. Renard's laugh receded into the smile again, and the smile became of double significance.
"True," he acquiesced, "but it is also villainously apropos. Look for yourself."
Madame did so, and her next query, after she had dropped her glass again, was a sharp one.
"Who is she-the wife?”
"Ciel!" cried Madame de Castro, "what an ugly little man!”
It was not an unnatural exclamation. Fate had not been so kind to the individual referred to as she might have been-in fact she had been definitely cruel. He was small of figure, insignificant, dark, and wore a patient sphynx-like air of gravity. He did not seem to speak or move, simply sat in the shadow holding his wife's belongings, apparently almost entirely unnoticed by her.
"She is what you are pleased to call one of our Americans! You know the class," with a little wave of the hand,"rich, unconventional, comfortable people, who live well and dress well, and have an incomprehensibly naïve way of going to impossible places and doing impossible things by way of enjoyment. Our fair friend there, for instance, has probably been round the world upon several occasions, and is familiar with a number of places and objects of note fearful to contemplate. They came here as tourists, and became fascinated with
"I don't know him at all," said Madame de Castro; "though that is not to be won