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CHAPTER VI.

THE INEBRIATE WIFE.

Man sinks beneath misfortune's blow,

And hope forsakes his breast;
His boasted powers are all laid low,

His strength is swallowed up in woe,
When not by woman blest,"

F.J. Water8.

THE sky, that had been clear the forepart of that memorable night, had suddenly become overcast, and the fair face of the moon was veiled in a drapery of gloom; and the distant thunder told of an approaching storm. By the red glare of the lightning, the pale face of the sufferer could be seen, as he lay near the open casement. The midnight lamp remained untrimmed, shedding a sickly light upon a scene that baffled description. Mrs.

Willard continued to drink till she was too much intoxicated to attend to the wants of her suffering child ; he was often disturbed by her clumsy hands rummaging about for she knew not what. Emptying her glass again, she sank back in her chair, and was insensible to what passed around her. The rain was now pouring in torrents, a strong wind was blowing in at the window, carrying in large drops which fell upon the cradle, until the thick blankets

wet through and through.

The inebriate finally lost her equilibrium, and fell heavily upon the floor. The noise awoke Mr. Willard, who rushed from his room. For a moment he stood horror-stricken at the scene before him; his wife made an attempt to rise by seizing upon the edge of the cradle. Before the distracted father could reach the cradle, it was turned

were

over.

He sprang forward, took the child in his arms, and with one blow he sent his wife to the floor, to all appearance lifeless; for a moment silence reigned unbroken save by the death rattle of the child. Joe and Bob hurried to the scene of suffering. They were frightened by the maniac glare of Mr. Willard, as, grating his teeth, he ordered them to take the monster out of his sight. She was immediately borne to another part of the house. Mr. Willard continued to pace the apartment with his dying child folded tight to his bosom, and was deaf to all entreaties. His deep groans and distorted features told of the dreadful tempest within. At length Dr. Livingston came as he had been requested. Alighting from his sulky, he met several gentlemen coming out of the house. The Doctor bade them a polite“ good morning," adding,

"I did not expect to meet so many of you at this early hour.” One of them told him that they had been called to hold an inquest over the body of Dr. Spencer. The astonished Dr. started back.

“What was your verdict ?”

“ Died in consequence of intemperance."

Joe led the way to a scene still more agonizing. The Doctor entered the room unobserved by the bewildered father, who was still walking up and down with long unmeasured strides, folding close to his heart the lifeless body of his child. The Dr. turned pale as the sepulchral voice repeated, “Darling, you are not dead-you will not die." It was some minutes before Dr. Livingston had strength of nerve to speak to him. Laying his hand upon his shoulders, he endeavored to call back the mind that had wandered

reason,

in a labyrinth of thought unaided by

He seated him in a large arm chair, and took from him the body of his child which for the last two hours he had folded convulsively to his bosom. Dr. Livingston saw strong symptoms of brain-fever; after bleeding him copiously, he ordered a large blister upon the neck, he watched him closely through the day, allowing no one to enter the room but his nurse.

The body of Dr. Spencer was carried to his own house. Preparations for Ashbel's funeral were made. Bob and Joe were faithful to perform every duty that devolved upon

them. Agnes was unable to do anything about the house till late in the after

She then found enough to do. Mrs. Willard did not insult any one with her presence. When Agnes inquired of Bob for her, he said she

noon.

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