“O, mother! Is it as bad as that?” said Mattie.
“Yes, my dear; just as bad as that. And when any of these good and innocent feelings are destroyed by anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, revenge and the like, then just so much of heavenly good dies in us and just so far do we come under the power of what is evil and hurtful. Then we turn aside from safe and pleasant ways and walk among briers and thorns. Dear Mattie! consider well the lesson of this picture, and set a watch over your heart daily. But watching is not all. We are told in the Bible to pray as well as watch. All of us, young and old, must do this if we would be in safety; for human will and human effort would all be in vain to overcome evil if divine strength did not flow into them. And unless we desire and pray for this divine strength we cannot receive it.”
A visit with the doctor.
“How are you to-day, Mrs. Carleton?” asked Dr. Farleigh, as he sat down by his patient, who reclined languidly in a large cushioned chair.
“Miserable,” was the faintly spoken reply. And the word was repeated,—“Miserable.”
The doctor took one of the lady’s small, white hands, on which the network of veins, most delicately traced, spread its blue lines everywhere beneath the transparent skin. It was a beautiful hand—a study for a painter or sculptor. It was a soft, flexible hand—soft, flexible, and velvety to the touch as the hand of a baby, for it was as much a stranger to useful work. The doctor laid his fingers on the wrist. Under the pressure he felt the pulse beat slowly and evenly. He took out his watch and counted the beats, seventy in a minute. There was a no fever, nor any unusual disturbance of the system. Calmly the heart was doing its appointed work.
“How is your head, Mrs. Carleton?”
The lady moved her head from side to side two or three times.
“Anything out of the way there?”
“My head is well enough, but I feel so miserable—so weak. I haven’t the strength of a child. The least exertion exhausts me.”
And the lady shut her eyes, looking the picture of feebleness.
“Have you taken the tonic, for which I left a prescription yesterday?”
“Yes; but I’m no stronger.”
“How is your appetite?”
“Have you taken the morning walk in the garden that I suggested?”
“O, dear, no! Walk out in the garden? I’m faint by the time I get to the breakfast-room! I can’t live at this rate, doctor. What am I to do? Can’t you build me up in some way? I’m burden to myself and every one else.”
And Mrs. Carleton really looked distressed.
“You ride out every day?”
“I did until the carriage was broken, and that was nearly a week ago. It has been at the carriage-maker’s ever since.”