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Let Every Man Mind His Own Business
by [?]

Splendid books and engravings lay about in every direction. Vases of rare and costly flowers exhaled perfume, and magnificent mirrors multiplied every object. All spoke of luxury and repose, save the anxious and sad countenance of its mistress.

It was late, and she had watched anxiously for her husband for many long hours. She drew out her gold and diamond repeater, and looked at it. It was long past midnight. She sighed as she remembered the pleasant evenings they had passed together, as her eye fell on the books they had read together, and on her piano and harp, now silent, and thought of all he had said and looked in those days when each was all to the other.

She was aroused from this melancholy revery by a loud knocking at the street door. She hastened to open it, but started back at the sight it disclosed–her husband borne by four men.

“Dead! is he dead?” she screamed, in agony.

“No, ma’am,” said one of the men, “but he might as well be dead as in such a fix as this.”

The whole truth, in all its degradation, flashed on the mind of Augusta. Without a question or comment, she motioned to the sofa in the parlor, and her husband was laid there. She locked the street door, and when the last retreating footstep had died away, she turned to the sofa, and stood gazing in fixed and almost stupefied silence on the face of her senseless husband.

At once she realized the whole of her fearful lot. She saw before her the blight of her own affections, the ruin of her helpless children, the disgrace and misery of her husband. She looked around her in helpless despair, for she well knew the power of the vice whose deadly seal was set upon her husband. As one who is struggling and sinking in the waters casts a last dizzy glance at the green sunny banks and distant trees which seem sliding from his view, so did all the scenes of her happy days pass in a moment before her, and she groaned aloud in bitterness of spirit. “Great God! help me, help me,” she prayed. “Save him–O, save my husband.”

Augusta was a woman of no common energy of spirit, and when the first wild burst of anguish was over, she resolved not to be wanting to her husband and children in a crisis so dreadful.

“When he awakes,” she mentally exclaimed, “I will warn and implore; I will pour out my whole soul to save him. My poor husband, you have been misled–betrayed. But you are too good, too generous, too noble to be sacrificed without a struggle.”

It was late the next morning before the stupor in which Edward was plunged began to pass off. He slowly opened his eyes, started up wildly, gazed hurriedly around the room, till his eye met the fixed and sorrowful gaze of his wife. The past instantly flashed upon him, and a deep flush passed over his countenance. There was a dead, a solemn silence, until Augusta, yielding to her agony, threw herself into his arms, and wept.

“Then you do not hate me, Augusta?” said he, sorrowfully.

“Hate you–never! But, O Edward, Edward, what has beguiled you?”

“My wife–you once promised to be my guardian in virtue–such you are, and will be. O Augusta! you have looked on what you shall never see again–never–never–so help me God!” said he, looking up with solemn earnestness.

And Augusta, as she gazed on the noble face, the ardent expression of sincerity and remorse, could not doubt that her husband was saved. But Edward’s plan of reformation had one grand defect. It was merely modification and retrenchment, and not entire abandonment. He could not feel it necessary to cut himself off entirely from the scenes and associations where temptation had met him. He considered not that, when the temperate flow of the blood and the even balance of the nerves have once been destroyed, there is, ever after, a double and fourfold liability, which often makes a man the sport of the first untoward chance.