“No—no! Not yet, my sweet one!” answered Mrs. Mayflower, hugging him to her heart. “Not yet. We cannot spare you from our world of shadows.”



MARTIN GREEN was a young man of good habits and a good conceit of himself. He had listened, often and again, with as much patience as he could assume, to warning and suggestion touching the dangers that beset the feet of those who go out into this wicked world, and become subject to its legion of temptations. All these warnings and suggestions he considered as so many words wasted when offered to himself.

“I’m in no danger,” he would sometimes answer to relative or friend, who ventured a remonstrance against certain associations, or cautioned him about visiting certain places.

“If I wish to play a game of billiards, I will go to a billiard saloon,” was the firm position he assumed. “Is there any harm in billiards? I can’t help it if bad men play at billiards, and congregate in billiard saloons. Bad men may be found anywhere and everywhere; on the street, in stores, at all public places, even in church. Shall I stay away from church because bad men are there?”

This last argument Martin Green considered unanswerable. Then he would say,—

“If I want a plate of oysters, I’ll go to a refectory, and I’ll take a glass of ale with my oysters, if it so pleases me. What harm, I would like to know? Danger of getting into bad company, you say? Hum-m! Complimentary to your humble servant! But I’m not the kind to which dirt sticks.”

So, confident of his own power to stand safely in the midst of temptation, and ignorant of its thousand insidious approaches, Martin Green, at the age of twenty-one, came and went as he pleased, mingling with the evil and the good, and seeing life under circumstances of great danger to the pure and innocent. But he felt strong and safe, confident of neither stumbling nor falling. All around him he saw young men yielding to the pressure of temptation and stepping aside into evil ways; but they were weak and vicious, while he stood firm-footed on the rock of virtue!

It happened, very naturally, as Green was a bright, social young man, that he made acquaintances with other young men, who were frequently met in billiard saloons, theatre lobbies, and eating houses. Some of these he did not understand quite as well as he imagined. The vicious, who have ends to gain, know how to cloak themselves, and easily deceive persons of Green’s character. Among these acquaintances was a handsome, gentlemanly, affable young man, named Bland, who gradually intruded himself into his confidence. Bland never drank to excess, and never seemed inclined to sensual indulgences. He had, moreover, a way of moralizing that completely veiled his true quality from the not very penetrating Martin Green, whose shrewdness and knowledge of character were far less acute than he, in his self-conceit, imagined.

One evening, instead of going with his sister to the house of a friend, where a select company of highly- intelligent ladies and gentleman were to meet, and pass an evening together, Martin excused himself under the pretence of an engagement, and lounged away to an eating and drinking saloon, there to spend an hour in smoking, reading the newspapers, and enjoying a glass of ale, the desire for which was fast growing into a habit. Strong and safe as he imagined himself, the very fact of preferring the atmosphere of a drinking or billiard saloon to that in which refined and intellectual people breathe, showed that he was weak and in danger.

He was sitting with a cigar in his mouth, and a glass of ale beside him, reading with the air of a man who felt entirely satisfied with himself, and rather proud than ashamed of his position and surroundings, when his pleasant friend, Mr. Bland, crossed the room, and, reaching out his hand, said, with his smiling, hearty manner,—

“How are you, my friend? What’s the news to-day?” And he drew a chair to the table, calling at the same time to a waiter for a glass of ale.

“I never drink anything stronger than ale,” he added, in a confidential way, not waiting for Green to answer his first remark. “Liquors are so drugged nowadays, that you never know what poison you are taking; besides, tippling is a bad habit, and sets a questionable example. We must, you know, have some regard to the effect of our conduct on weaker people. Man is an imitative animal. By the way, did you see Booth’s Cardinal Wolsey?”


“A splendid piece of acting,—was it not? You remember, after the cardinal’s fall, that noble passage to which he gives utterance. It has been running through my mind ever since:—“‘Mark but my fall, and that that ruined me.

Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition: By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then, The image of his Maker, hope to win by’t? Love thyself last: Cherish those hearts that hate thee: Corruption wins not more than honesty. Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace, To silence envious tongues; be just, and fear not. Let all the ends thou aim’st at be thy country’s, Thy God’s, and truth’s; then if thou fall’st, O Cromwell, Thou fall’st a blessed martyr.’

“‘Love thyself last.—Let all the ends thou aim’st at be thy country’s, thy God’s, and truth’s.’ Could a man’s whole duty in life be expressed in fewer words, or said more grandly? I think not.”

And so he went on, charming the ears of Green, and inspiring him with the belief that he was a person of the purest instincts and noblest ends. While they talked, two young men, strangers to Green came up, and were introduced by Bland as “My very particular friends.” Something about them did not at first impress Martin favorably. But this impression soon wore off, they were so intelligent and agreeable, Bland, after a little while, referred again to the Cardinal Wolsey of Booth, and, drawing a copy of Shakspeare’s Henry VIII. from his pocket, remarked,—

“If it wasn’t so public here, I’d like to read a few of the best passages in Wolsey’s part.”

“Can’t we get a private room?” said one of the two young men who had joined Bland and Green. “There are plenty in the house. I’ll see.”

And away he went to the bar.

“Come,” he said, returning in a few minutes; and the party followed a waiter up stairs, and were shown into a small room, neatly furnished, though smelling villanously of stale cigar smoke.

“This is cosy,” was the approving remark of Bland, as they entered. Hats and overcoats were laid aside, and they drew around a table that stood in the centre of the room under the gaslight. A few passages were read from Shakspeare, then drink was ordered by one of the the party. The reading interspersed with critical comments, was again resumed; but the reading soon gave way entire to the comments, which, in a little while, passed from the

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