The servant, who yet stood at the door waiting orders, burst forth into a loud laugh, as the reading of this was finished, while George, though inwardly sorrowing over the situation of his friend, could not refrain from smiling at his ridiculous appearance and doings. There was a good humor running through the method of his madness, that made him far from being disagreeable.
Mr. Alverton passed to the door, and, motioning the servant aside, entreated her not to bring him wine.
“Well, sir, that be’s just as he says,” said she, in a loud voice, and in a manner that convinced Mr. Alverton that she cared not as to what might follow.
“Good!” shouted James. “Why, she’s my confidential; she’s as true to me as a book. Sal, bring up two decanters of that best.”
The girl laughed, and bounded out of the room to do as he requested.
The wine came; a long talk ensued, as unmeaning and useless as that we have above related, and George left with a heavy heart, promising to call on the morrow.
As he entered the street, and the cool, fresh air of an autumn morning greeted him, he felt somewhat revived, and, quickening his step, he soon reached his home. He dare not mention his adventure to Josephine, though he wanted to. She was the betrothed of James. In one month they were to be married! Dark and frowning were the clouds that gathered in their blackness over the mind of George, as he mused on what had been and what was to be. Should he tell her all? It was his duty. Should he shrink from the performance of his duty? No.
“Never!” exclaimed the young lady, as she wiped her eyes, and a smile of joy and hope burst through her tears. “George, I know he will not go too far,—O, no! As an eagle may touch the earth, yet, soaring again, float in its own element in the light of the sun, so may he, though he has this once fallen, soar upward, and higher than ever, planning not another descent so low.”
“I hope it may be so,” said George.
“And why not hope? You know each has an opinion of his own, but that opinion may be changed. Though he now opposes the pledge, and the cause of which it is the representative, yet he may think differently, and may, through your influence, become one of its most zealous advocates. Don’t mention to him that I know of his act,” exclaimed Josephine, springing to catch the arm of her brother, as he opened the door to leave.
She was answered in the negative, and in the examination of a few articles that were being prepared for her bridal-day she gradually forgot all unpleasant misgivings, and nothing but happiness could she see before her.
It was not until the next day that George had an opportunity of seeing his friend. He then met him at the store, and James laughed over the doings of the day previous as a “good joke,” as he called them. On that occasion, as on several subsequent ones, he urged him to sign and become a total-abstinent; but, with such influences as those which surrounded him, it was not strange that these efforts proved ineffectual.