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"He is there in the bed."
"Is he sick?"
"Yes'm, and the doctor thinks he ain't going to get well."
"What is the matter with him?"
"He was never very strong, and he's had to work too hard, carrying water and helping me lift the washtubs and things like that."
"Is his father dead?"
"No, he ain't dead. But all he earns goes for drink. If he'd only let me have what little I make over the washtub. But half the time he takes that away from me, and then the children go hungry.
"Tommy had been crazy to go to school. I never could spare him till this winter. He thought if he could get a little education, he'd be able to help take care of Sissy and baby and me. He knew he'd never be able to work hard. So I fixed up his clothes as well as I could, and last week he started. I stood in the door and watched him go. I can never forget how the little fellow looked. His patched-up clothes, his old shoes, his ragged cap, his poor little anxious look. He turned around to see me as he left the yard, and said, 'Don't you worry, mother; I ain't going to mind what the boys say.' But he did mind. It wasn't an hour till he was back again.
"I believe the child's heart was just broke. He cried all day. He said it wasn't any use trying to do anything. Folks would only laugh at him for being a drunkard's boy. I tried to comfort him before my husband came home. I told him his father would be mad if he saw him crying. But it wasn't any use. Seemed like he couldn't stop. His father came and saw him. He wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been drinking. I hate to tell it, but he whipped Tommy. And the child fell and struck his head. Oh, my poor little boy!"
A voice spoke from the bed.
"Father wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been drinking. I'm glad I'm going to die. I'm too weak ever to help mother,
anyhow. Up in heaven the angels ain't going to call me a drunkard's child, and make fun of my clothes. And maybe if I'm right there where God is, I can keep reminding him of mother, and he'll make it easier for her. Some day-they ain't going to let the saloons-keep open. But I'm afraid-poor father-will be deadbefore then."
The next morning the sun shone in on the dead face of little Tommy.
Over eighteen hundred years ago, it was also said: "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea."
GOD, FREE THE DRINK CAPTIVE.
FRANCES DANA GAGE.
OD of the beautiful! God of the free,
Earnestly, hopefully turn we to Thee;
Crushing the heart of the mother with care,
That Thou in Thy wisdom made free as the wind.
God of the beautiful! God of the free,
Guide us and guard us and lead us aright,
Let our lips utter truth, and our hands hold the light That shall show to our brothers the death-bounded path Their footsteps are treading in sorrow and wrath.
Show to our rulers the right from the wrong-
Lead Thou our people to see the right way,
Hark! hark! Saloon dogs bark,
But naught do the beggars care,
When men vote "No,"
And rescue the city fair.
HEY used to call me "Whisky Bill' down town, but I haven't touched a drop since last year.
Before that I was half drunk day in and day out, and more of a brute than a man. I don't mind saying that my wife's death set me to thinking, but it didn't stop my liquor. God forgive me! I was drunk when she died, half drunk at the grave, and I meant to go on a regular spree that night. I was no better than a brute those days.
The poor children were crying all day, and after coming home from the burial I thought to get 'em tucked away in bed before I went out. Drunk or sober, I never struck one of my children, and they never ran from me when I staggered home. There's four of 'em in there, and the youngest is not quite four years yet. I got the oldest ones to bed all right, and then came little Ned. He had cried himself to sleep, and he called for mother as soon as I woke him. Until that night I never had that boy on my knee, to say nothing of putting him to bed, and you can guess these big fingers made slow work with the hooks and buttons. Every minute he kept saying mother didn't do this; and the big children were hiding their heads under the quilts to drown their sobs. When I had the clothes off and his night-gown on, I was ashamed -broke down; and when the oldest saw the tears in my eyes, and jumped out of bed to put her arms around my neck, I dropped the name of "Whisky Bill" right then and there forever.
After I got Ned's night-gown on, what did he do but kneel right down beside me and wait for me to say the Lord's Prayer to him! You might have knocked me down with a feather!