The day ended; the votes were counted, and Laneville was proclaimed elected by a majority of one!
The night was one of carousal. The betting on both sides had been considerable, and the payment of these debts caused the small change to circulate pretty freely among the dispensers of eatables and drinkables.
This night James yielded more easily than ever before to the cravings of an appetite that began to master him.
Poor fellow! Deluded man! A fond, a devoted, a trusting wife waiting at home, watching the hands of the clock as they neared the mark of twelve, and listening for thy footfall! Thou, trusting in thine own strength, but to learn thy weakness, lying senseless among thy drinking mates in the hall of dissolute festivity!
Tom Moore may sing in praise of “wine and its sparkling tide;” but the sighing of wronged women and their tears shall toll the requiem of its praise.
Notwithstanding the entreaties of George, added to those of Josephine, James continued in the way he had begun to walk, and which was leading him to ruin. The arguments of the one, and the tears of the other, were equally unavailing.
So far had he proceeded in a downward course that his employers remonstrated; and the same arguments they had used upon their former clerks were urged upon his consideration. Fearing the loss of situation, he repented, but it was only to fall again before the power of that appetite with which he had tampered as with a torpid viper, which now felt the warmth of his embrace, and became a living, craving creature within his bosom.
His old companions perceived the change he was undergoing, and, like butterflies that hovered about his path in sunshine, left him as clouds overshadowed his way. But he had friends who would not leave him. He had a wife who clung to him with all the affection of woman’s love, and a brother whose hand was ever extended to aid him.
James saw the evil that threatened to overwhelm him; yet, strangely infatuated, he would not come to a fixed determination to reform so far as to sign the pledge.
The sun never shone with a brighter effulgence than it did on the morning of the 24th of July, 1849. The streets of Boston were filled with busy crowds, and banners and flags streamed from balconies and windows. Delegates of men from the suburbs poured into the city, and the sound of music filled the air. Men, women, and children, the rich and the poor, the merchant and the mechanic, the American and the foreigner, joined in the movement; and a stranger could not long remain ignorant of the fact that some great event was to transpire that day in the capital of the Old Bay State. Crowds gathered at the corners, and lined the principal thoroughfares.
“He has blist his own country, an’ now he will bliss ours,” said a well-dressed Irishman.