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The Temperance Pledge
by [?]

“I WANT a quarter of a dollar, Jane.”

This was addressed by a miserable creature, bloated and disfigured by intemperance, to a woman, whose thin, pale face, and heart-broken look, told but too plainly that she was the drunkard’s wife.

“Not a quarter of a dollar, John? Surely you will not waste a quarter of a dollar of my hard earnings, when you know that I can scarcely get food and decent clothes for the children?”

As the wife said this, she looked up into her husband’s face with a sad appealing expression.

“I must have a quarter, Jane,” said the man firmly.

“O, John! remember our little ones. The cold-weather will soon be here, and I have not yet been able to get them shoes. If you will not earn any thing yourself, do not waste the little my hard labor can procure. Will not a sixpence do? Surely that is enough for you to spend for–“

“Nothing will do but a quarter, Jane, and that I must have, if I steal it!” was the prompt and somewhat earnest reply.

Mrs. Jarvis laid aside her work mechanically and, rising, went to a drawer, and from a cup containing a single dollar in small pieces, her little all, took out a quarter of a dollar, and turning to her husband, said, as she handed it to him–

“Remember, that you are taking the bread out of your children’s mouths!”

“Not so bad as that, I hope, Jane,” said the drunkard, as he clutched the money eagerly; something like a feeble smile flitting across his disfigured and distorted countenance.

“Yes, and worse!” was the response, made in a sadder tone than that in which the wife had at first spoken.

“How worse, Jane?”

“John!” and the wife spoke with a sudden energy, while her countenance lighted up with a strange gleam. “John, I cannot bear this much longer! I feel myself sinking every day. And you–you who pledged yourself–“

Here the voice of the poor woman gave way, and covering her face with her hands, she bent her head upon her bosom, and sobbed and wept hysterically.

The drunkard looked at her for a moment, and then turning hurriedly, passed from the room. For some moments after the door had closed upon her husband, did Mrs. Jarvis stand, sobbing and weeping. Then slowly returning to her chair near the window, she resumed her, work, with an expression of countenance that was sad and hopeless.

In the mean time, the poor wretch who had thus reduced his family to a state of painful destitution, after turning away from his door, walked slowly along the street with his head bowed down, as if engaged in, to him, altogether a new employment, that of self-communion. All at once a hand was laid familiarly upon his shoulders, and a well-known voice said–

“Come, John, let’s have a drink.”

“Jarvis looked up with a bewildered air, and the first thing that caught his eye, after it glanced away from the face of one of his drinking cronies, was a sign with bright gold letters, bearing the words, “EAGLE COFFEE-HOUSE.” That sign was as familiar to him as the face of one of his children. At the same moment that his eyes rested upon this, creating an involuntary impulse to move towards the tavern-door, his old crony caught hold of his coat-collar and gave him a pull in the same direction. But much to the surprise of the latter, Jarvis resisted this attempt to give his steps a direction that would lead him into his old, accustomed haunt.

“Won’t you drink this morning, Jarvis?” asked the other, with a look of surprise.

There was evidently a powerful struggle going on in the mind of the drunkard. This lasted only for a moment or two, when he said, loudly, and emphatically–


And instantly broke from his old boon companion, and hurried on his way.

A loud laugh followed him, but he heeded it not. Ten minutes’ walk brought him to the store of a respectable tradesman.