We sat down under the bridge and began to reflect on the prospect of early decease, and on the uncertainty of all earthly expectations. We had determined to smoke the cigar all up and thus get the worth of our money, but were obliged to throw three-fourths of it away, yet knew just where we threw it, in case we felt better the next day.
Getting home, the old people were frightened, and demanded that we state what kept us so late and what was the matter with us. Not feeling that we were called to go into particulars, and not wishing to increase our parents’ apprehension that we were going to turn out badly, we summed up the case with the statement that we felt miserable at the pit of the stomach. We had mustard plasters administered, and careful watching for some hours, when we fell asleep and forgot our disappointment and humiliation in being obliged to throw away three-fourths of our first cigar. Being naturally reticent, we have never mentioned it until this time.
But how about our last cigar? It was three o’clock Sabbath morning in our Western home. We had smoked three or four cigars since tea. At that time we wrote our sermons and took another cigar with each new head of discourse. We thought we were getting the inspiration from above, but were getting much of it from beneath. Our hand trembled along the line; and strung up to the last tension of nerves, we finished our work and started from the room. A book standing on the table fell over; and although it was not a large book, its fall sounded to our excited system like the crack of a pistol. As we went down the stairs their creaking made our hair stand on end. As we flung ourselves on a sleepless pillow we resolved, God helping, that we had smoked our last cigar, and committed our last sin of night-study.
We kept our promise. With the same resolution went overboard coffee and tea. That night we were born into a new physical, mental and moral life. Perhaps it may be better for some to smoke, and study nights, and take exciting temperance beverages; but we are persuaded that if thousands of people who now go moping, and nervous, and half exhausted through life, down with “sick headaches” and rasped by irritabilities, would try a good large dose of abstinence, they would thank God for this paragraph of personal experience, and make the world the same bright place we find it—a place so attractive that nothing short of heaven would be good enough to exchange for it.
The first cigar made us desperately sick; the throwing away of our last made us gloriously well. For us the croaking of the midnight owl hath ceased, and the time of the singing of birds has come.
Move, moving, moved.
The first of May is to many the beginning of the year. From that are dated the breakages, the social startings, the ups and downs, of domestic life. One-half New York is moving into smaller houses, the other half into larger. The past year’s success or failure decides which way the horses of the furniture-wagon shall turn their heads.