“No—no! Not yet, my sweet one!” answered Mrs. Mayflower, hugging him to her heart. “Not yet. We cannot spare you from our world of shadows.”
In the way of temptation.
Martin green was a young man of good habits and a good conceit of himself. He had listened, often and again, with as much patience as he could assume, to warning and suggestion touching the dangers that beset the feet of those who go out into this wicked world, and become subject to its legion of temptations. All these warnings and suggestions he considered as so many words wasted when offered to himself.
“I’m in no danger,” he would sometimes answer to relative or friend, who ventured a remonstrance against certain associations, or cautioned him about visiting certain places.
“If I wish to play a game of billiards, I will go to a billiard saloon,” was the firm position he assumed. “Is there any harm in billiards? I can’t help it if bad men play at billiards, and congregate in billiard saloons. Bad men may be found anywhere and everywhere; on the street, in stores, at all public places, even in church. Shall I stay away from church because bad men are there?”
This last argument Martin Green considered unanswerable. Then he would say,—
“If I want a plate of oysters, I’ll go to a refectory, and I’ll take a glass of ale with my oysters, if it so pleases me. What harm, I would like to know? Danger of getting into bad company, you say? Hum-m! Complimentary to your humble servant! But I’m not the kind to which dirt sticks.”
So, confident of his own power to stand safely in the midst of temptation, and ignorant of its thousand insidious approaches, Martin Green, at the age of twenty-one, came and went as he pleased, mingling with the evil and the good, and seeing life under circumstances of great danger to the pure and innocent. But he felt strong and safe, confident of neither stumbling nor falling. All around him he saw young men yielding to the pressure of temptation and stepping aside into evil ways; but they were weak and vicious, while he stood firm-footed on the rock of virtue!
It happened, very naturally, as Green was a bright, social young man, that he made acquaintances with other young men, who were frequently met in billiard saloons, theatre lobbies, and eating houses. Some of these he did not understand quite as well as he imagined. The vicious, who have ends to gain, know how to cloak themselves, and easily deceive persons of Green’s character. Among, these acquaintances was a handsome, gentlemanly, affable young man, named Bland, who gradually intruded himself into his confidence. Bland never drank to excess, and never seemed inclined to sensual indulgences. He had, moreover, a way of moralizing that completely veiled his true quality from the not very penetrating Martin Green, whose shrewdness and knowledge of character were far less acute than he, in his self-conceit, imagined.