* * *
“As I thus look back through a period of some twenty, thirty, and forty years,” continued the old man, “noting the changes that have taken place, and counting over the hopes that have been given like chaff to the winds, I feel sad. And yet, amid all this change and disappointment, there is much to stir the heart with feelings of pleasure. A single instance I will relate:
“A very intimate friend, a merchant, had three daughters, to whom he gave an education the best that could be obtained. When the eldest was but twenty, and the youngest fourteen, Mr. W–failed in business. Every thing passed from his hands, and he was left entirely penniless. Well advanced in years, with his current of thoughts, from long habit, going steadily in one way, this shock almost entirely prostrated him. He could not find courage to explain to his daughters his condition, and the change that awaited them. But they loved their father too well not to perceive that something was wrong. Suspecting the true cause, the eldest, unknown to him, waited upon one of his clerks at his residence, and received from him a full statement of her father’s affairs. She begged that nothing might be concealed; and so obtained all the information that the clerk could give, from which she saw plainly that the family would be entirely broken up, and worse than all, perhaps scattered, the children from their father.
“On returning home, she took her younger sisters, and fully explained to them the gloomy prospect in view. Then she explained to them her plan, by which the force of the storm might be broken. In it they all gladly acquiesced. This plan, they proceeded, unknown to their father, to put into execution.
“It was about one week after, that the old man came home so much troubled in mind that he was compelled to leave the tea-table, his food untasted. As he arose, his children arose also, and followed him into the parlours.
“‘Dear father!’ said the eldest, coming up to his side, and drawing her arm around his neck–’do not be troubled. We know it all, and are prepared for the worst.’
“‘Know what, my child?’ he asked in surprise.
“‘Know that our condition is changed. And know more–that we are prepared to meet that change with brave, true hearts.’
“The tears came into the daughter’s eyes as she said this–not tears for her changed prospect–but tears for her father.
“‘And we are all prepared to meet it,’ broke in the other two, gathering around the old man.
“‘God bless you, my children!’ Mr. W–murmured, with a voice choked with emotion. ‘But, you know not how low you have fallen. I am a beggar!’
“‘Not quite,’ was the now smiling reply of his eldest child. ‘We learned it all–and at once determined that we would do our part. For two weeks, we have been out among our friends, and freely related our plans and the reason for adopting them. The result is, we obtained forty scholars to a school we have determined to open, for teaching music, French, drawing, etc. You are not a beggar, dear father! And never shall be, while you have three daughters to love you!’
“The old man’s feelings gave way, and he wept like a child. He could not object to the proposition of his children. The school was at once opened, and is still conducted by the two youngest. It proved a means of ample support to the family. To some men, the fact that their children had been compelled to resort to daily labour, in any calling, for a support, would have been deeply humiliating. Not so to Mr. W–. That evidence of his daughters’ love to him compensated for all the changes which circumstances, uncontrolled by himself, had effected.”