Time, Faith, Energy
Timothy Shay Arthur, 1851
"Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." Proverbs 20:1
"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper!" Proverbs 23:29-32
"I don't see that I am so much better off," said Mr. Gordon, a man who had recently given up drinking. "I lost my situation on the very day I signed the pledge, and have had no regular employment since."
"But you would have lost your situation even if you hadn't signed the pledge, I presume," said the individual to whom he was complaining.
"Yes. I lost it because I got drunk and spoiled my job. But to hear some temperance people talk, one who didn't know, would be led to believe that the very moment the pledge was signed — gold could be picked up in the streets! I must confess that I haven't found it so. Money is scarcer with me than it ever was; and though I don't spend a cent for myself, my family haven't a single comfort more than they had before."
"Though there's no disputing the fact that they would have many less comforts if you hadn't signed the pledge?"
"I suppose not. But I cannot help feeling discouraged at the way things go. If I had the same wages I received before I signed the pledge, I could be saving up money. But, as it is, it requires the utmost economy to keep from getting in debt."
"Still, you do manage to keep even?"
"On about half your former income?"
"A little over half. I used to get ten dollars a week. Now I manage, by picking up odd jobs here and there, to make about six."
"Then you are better off than you were before."
"I hardly see how you can make that out."
"Your family have enough to live upon — all they had before — and you have a healthier body, a calmer mind, and a clearer conscience. Isn't here something gained?"
"I rather think there is," replied Gordon, smiling.
"And I rather think you are a good deal better off than you were before. Isn't your wife happier?"
"O! yes. She's as cheerful as a lark all the day."
"And doesn't murmur because of your light wages?"
"No, indeed! not she. I believe if I didn't earn more than three dollars a week, and kept sober, she would make it do, somehow or other, and keep a good heart. It's wonderful how much she is changed!"
"And yet you are no better off? Aren't you better off in having a happy wife and a pleasant home — what I am sure you hadn't before?"
"You are right in that. I certainly had neither of them before. Oh! yes. I am much better off all around. I only felt a little despondent, because I can't get regular employment as I used to, and good wages; for now, if I had these, I could do so well."
"Be patient, friend Gordon; time will make all right. There are three words that every reformed drinker should write on the walls of his chamber, that he may see them every morning. They are 'Time, Faith, Energy.' No matter how low he may have fallen; no matter how discouraging all things around him may appear — let him have energy, and faith, and in time all will come out well at last."
Gordon went home, feeling in better heart than when he met the temperance friend who had spoken to him these encouraging words.
Henry Gordon, when he married, had just commenced business for himself, and went on for several years doing very well. He laid aside enough money to purchase himself a snug little house, and was in a good way for accumulating a comfortable property, when the habit of alcohol drinking, which he had indulged for years, became an over-mastering passion. From that period he neglected his business, which steadily declined. In half the time it took to accumulate the property he possessed — all disappeared. His business was broken up, and he compelled to work at his trade as a journeyman to support his family. From a third to a half of the sum he earned weekly, he spent in gratifying the debasing appetite which had almost beggared his family and reduced him to a state of degradation little above that of the brute! The balance was given to his sad-hearted wife, to get food for the hungry, half-clothed children.
Nor was this all. Debts were contracted which Gordon was unable to pay. One or two of his creditors, more exacting than the rest, seized upon his furniture and sold it to satisfy their claims, leaving to the distressed family only the few articles exempt by law.
Things had reached this low condition, when Gordon came home from the shop, one day, some hours earlier than usual. Surprised at seeing him, his wife said —
"What's the matter, Henry? Are you sick?"
"No!" he replied, sullenly, "I've been fired."
"Fired! For what, Henry?"
"For spoiling a job."
"How did that happen?" Mrs. Gordon spoke kindly, although she felt anxious and distressed.
"How has all my trouble happened?" asked Gordon, with unusual bitterness of tone. "I took a glass too much, and — and — "
"It made you spoil your job," said his wife, her voice still kind.
"Yes. Curse the day I ever saw a drop of liquor! It has been the cause of all my misfortunes!"
"Why not abandon its use at once and forever, Henry?"
"That is not so easily done."
"Hundreds have done it, and are doing it daily, and so may you. Only make the resolution, Henry. Only determine to break these fetters — and you are free. Let the time past, wherein you have wrought folly, and your family suffered more than words can express, suffice. Only determine it, and there will be a bright future for all of us."
Tears came into the eyes of Mrs. Gordon while she made this appeal, although she strove hard to appear calm. Her husband felt a better spirit awaking within him. There was a brief struggle between appetite and the good resolution which was forming in his mind — and then the latter conquered.
"I will be free!" he said, turning towards the door through which he had a little while before entered, and hurriedly leaving the house.
The hour that passed from the time her husband went out until he returned, was one of most anxious suspense to Mrs. Gordon. Her hand trembled so that she could not hold her needle, and was obliged to lay aside the sewing upon which she was engaged, and go about some household employments.
"Mary, I have signed the pledge, if that will do any good." said Gordon, opening the door and coming in upon his wife with his pledge in his hand. "There," and he unrolled the paper and pointed to his name, "there is my signature, and here is the document."
He did not speak very cheerfully; but his wife's face was lit up with a sudden brightness, followed by a gush of tears.
"Do any good?" she replied, leaning her head upon his shoulder, and grasping one of his hands tightly in both of hers. "It will do all good!"
"But I have no work, Mary. I was fired today, and it is the only shop in town. What are we to do?"
"Mr. Everly will take you back, now that you have signed the pledge."
"Perhaps he will!" Gordon spoke more cheerfully. "I will go and see him tomorrow."
Mrs. Gordon prepared her husband a strong cup of coffee, and baked some nice hot cakes for his supper. She combed her hair, and made herself as tidy as possible. The children, too, were much improved in their looks by a little attention, which their mother felt encouraged to give. There was an air of comfort about the ill-furnished dwelling of Henry Gordon that it had not known for a long time — and he felt it.
On the next morning, after breakfast, Gordon went back to the shop from which he had been discharged only the day previous. Everly, the owner of it, was a rough, unfeeling man, and had kept Gordon on, month after month, because he could not well do without him. But, on the very day he discharged him, a man from another town had applied for work, and the spoiled job was made an excuse for discharging a journeyman, whose habits of intoxication had always been offensive to the master-workman.
When Gordon entered the shop for the purpose of asking to be taken back, he met Everly near the door, who said to him, in a rough manner —
"And what do you want?"
"I want you to take me back again," replied Gordon. "I have signed the pledge, and intend leading a sober life hereafter."
"The devil you have!"
"Yes sir. I signed it yesterday, after you fired me."
"How long do you expect to keep it?" asked Everly, with a sneer.
"Long enough to reach the next saloon?"
"I have taken the pledge for life, I trust," returned the workman, seriously. He was hurt at the contemptuous manner of his old employer, but his dependent condition made him conceal his feelings. "You will have no more trouble with me."
"No, I am aware of that. I will have no more trouble with you, for I never intend to let you come ten feet inside the front door of my shop!"
"But I have reformed my bad habit, Mr. Everly. I will give you no more trouble with my drinking," said the poor man, alarmed at this language.
"It's no use for you to talk to me, Gordon," replied Everly, in a rough manner. "I've long wanted to get rid of you, and I have finally succeeded. Your place is filled. So there is no more to say on that subject. Good day!"
And the man turned on his heel and left Gordon standing half stupified at what he had heard.
"Rum's done the destroying business for you at last, my friend! I told you it would come to this!" said an old fellow workman, who heard what passed between Gordon and the employer. He spoke in a light, insulting voice.
Without replying, the unhappy man left the shop, feeling more wretched than he had ever felt in his life.
"And thus I am met at my first effort to reform!" he murmured, bitterly.
"Hallo, Gordon! Where are you going?" cried a voice as these words fell from his lips.
He looked up and found himself opposite to the door of one of his old haunts. It was the tavern-keeper who had called him.
"Come! Walk in and let us see your pleasant face this morning. Where were you last night? My company all complained about your absence. We were as dull as a funeral."
"Curse you — and your company too!" ejaculated Gordon between his teeth, and moved on, letting his eyes fall again to the pavement.
"Hey! What's the matter?"
But Gordon did not stop to bandy words with one of the men who had helped to ruin him.
"It's all over with us, Mary. Everly's got a man in my place," said Gordon, as he entered his house and threw himself despairingly into a chair. "But won't he give you work, too?" asked Mrs. Gordon, in a husky voice.
"No! He insulted me, and said I would never come ten feet inside of his shop."
"Did you tell him that you had signed the pledge?"
"Yes. But it was no use. He did not seem to care for me any more than he did for a dog."
The poor man's distress was so great, that he covered his face with his hands, and sat swinging his body to and fro, and uttering half-suppressed moans.
"What are we to do, Mary? There is no other shop in town," he said, looking up, after growing a little calm. "Doesn't it seem hard — just as I am trying to do right?"
"Don't despair, Henry. Let us trust in divine Providence. It is only a dark moment; yet, as dark as it is, it is brighter to me than any period has been for years. A clear head and ready hands will not go long unemployed. I do not despond, dear husband — neither should you. Keep fast anchored to your pledge, and we will outride the storm."
"But we shall starve, Mary. We cannot live upon air."
"No," replied Mrs. Gordon; "but we can live upon half what you have been earning at your trade, and quite as comfortably as we have been living. And it will be an extreme case, I think, if you can't get employment at five dollars a week, doing something or other. Don't you?"
"It appears so. Certainly I ought to be able to earn five dollars a week, if it is at sawing wood. I'll do that — I'll do anything!"
"Then we needn't be alarmed. I'll try and get some sewing at any rate, to help out. So brighten up, Henry. All will be well. It will take a little time to get things going right again; but time and industry will do all for us that we could ask."
Thus encouraged, Gordon started out to see if he could find something to do. It was a new thing for him to go in search of work; and rather hard, he felt, to be obliged almost to beg for it. Where to go, or to whom to apply, he did not know. After wandering about for several hours, and making several applications at out of the way places with no success — he turned his steps homeward, feeling utterly cast down. In this state, he was assailed by the temptation to drown all his trouble in the cup of confusion — and nearly drawn aside. But a thought of his wife, and the bright hope which had sprung up in her heart in the midst of darkness, held him back.
"It's no use to try, Mary," he said, despondingly, as he entered his poorly-furnished abode, and found his wife busy with her needle. "I can't get any work."
"I have been more successful than you have, Henry," Mrs. Gordon returned, speaking cheerfully. "I went to see if Mrs. Hewitt hadn't some sewing to give out, and she gave me a dozen shirts to make. So don't be discouraged. You can afford to wait for work even for two or three weeks, if it doesn't come sooner. Let us be thankful for what we have today — and trust in God for tomorrow. Depend upon it, we shall not lack. Providence never forsakes the man who is trying to do right."
Thus Mrs. Gordon strove to keep up the spirits of her husband. After dinner, he went out again and called to see a well-known temperance man. After relating to him what he had done, and how unhappily he was situated in regard to work, the man said —
"It won't do to be idle, Gordon; that's clear. An idle man is tempted ten times worse. You will never be able to keep the pledge unless you get something to do. We must assist you in this matter. What can you do besides your trade?"
"I have little skill beyond my regular calling; but then, I have health, strength, and willingness; and I think these might be made useful in something."
"So do I. Now to start with, I'll tell you what I'll do. If you will come and open my store for me every morning, make the fire and sweep out, and come and stay an hour for me every day while I go to dinner — I will give you three dollars a week. Two hours a day is all your time I shall want."
"Thank you from my heart! Of course I accept your offer. So far, so good," said Gordon, brightening up.
"Very well. You may begin with tomorrow morning. No doubt you can make an equal sum by acting as a light porter for the various stores about. I can throw a little work in your way; and I will speak to my neighbors to do the same." There was not a happier home in the whole town, than was the home of Henry Gordon that night, as poor as it was.
"I knew it would all come out right," said Mrs. Gordon. "I knew a better day was coming. We can live quite comfortably upon five or six dollars a week, and be happier than we have been for years." When Gordon thought of the past, he did not wonder that tears fell over the face of his wife, even while her lips and eyes were bright with smiles.
As the friend had supposed, Gordon was employed to do many errands by the storekeepers in the neighborhood. Some weeks he made five dollars and sometimes six or seven. This went on for a few months, when he began to feel discouraged. The recollection of other and brighter days returned frequently to his mind, and he began ardently to desire an improved external condition, as well for his wife and children, as for himself. He wished to restore what had been lost; but saw no immediate prospect of being able to do so. Six dollars a week was the average of his earnings, and it took all this, besides what little his wife earned, to make things tolerably comfortable at home.
Gordon was in a more desponding mood than usual, when he indulged in the complaint with which our story opens. What was said to him, changed the tone of his feelings, and inspired him with a spirit of cheerfulness and hope.
"Time, Faith, Energy!" he said to himself, as he walked with a more elastic step. "Yes, these must bring out all right in the end. I will not be so weak as to despond. All is much improved as it is. We are happier and better. Time, Faith, Energy! I will trust in these."
When Gordon opened the door of his humble abode, he found a lad waiting to see him, who arose, and presenting a small piece of paper, said —
"Mr. Blake wishes to know when you can settle this?"
Mr. Blake was a grocer, to whom ten dollars had been owing for a year. He had bothered the poor drunkard for the money until he got tired of so profitless a business, and gave up the account for lost. By some means, it had recently come to his ears that Gordon had signed the pledge.
"Some chance for me yet," he said, and immediately had the bill made out anew, and sent to Gordon; not thinking or caring whether it might not be premature for him to do so, and have the effect to discourage the poor man and drive him back to his old habits. What he wanted was his money. It was his due; and he meant to have it if he could get it.
"Tell Mr. Blake that I will pay him as soon as possible. At present it is out of my power," said Gordon, in answer to the demand.
The lad, in the spirit of his master, turned away with a sulky air, and left the house.
Poor Gordon's feelings went down to zero in a moment.
"It's hopeless, Mary! I see it all as plain as day," he said. "The moment I get upon my feet — there will be a dozen to knock me down. While I was a drunkard, no one thought of bothering me for money; but now that I am trying to do right, everyone to whom I am indebted a dollar, will come pouncing down upon me."
"It's a just debt, Henry, you know, and we ought to pay it."
"I don't dispute that. But we can't pay it now."
"Then Blake can't get it now; so there the matter will have to rest. A little bothering won't kill us. We have had harder trials than that to bear. So don't get discouraged so easily."
The words "Time, Faith, Energy!" came into the mind of Gordon and rebuked him.
"There is sense in what you say, Mary," he replied. "I know I am too easily discouraged. We owe Blake, that is clear; and I suppose he is right in trying to get his money. We can't pay him now; and therefore he can't get it now, do what he will. So we will be no worse for his begging, if he begs every day. But I hate so to be asked for money."
"I'll tell you what might be done," said Mrs. Gordon.
"Well?" inquired the husband.
"Mr. Blake has a large family, and no doubt his wife gives out a good deal of sewing. I could work it out."
Gordon thought a few moments, and then said —
"Or, better than that; perhaps Blake would let me work it out in his store. I have a good deal of unemployed time on my hands."
"Yes, that would be better," replied Mrs. Gordon; "for I have as much sewing as I can do, and get paid for it all."
This thought brightened the spirits of Gordon. As soon as he had eaten his dinner he started for the store of Mr. Blake.
"I've come to talk to you about that bill of mine," said Mr. Gordon.
"Well, what of it?" returned the grocer. "I wish to pay it, but have not the present ability. I lost my situation on the very day I signed the pledge, and have had no regular employment since. So far, I have only been able to pick up five or six dollars a week, and it takes all that to live upon. But I have time to spare, Mr. Blake, if I have no money; and if I can pay you in labor — I will be glad to do so."
"I don't know that I could ask more than that," replied the grocer. "If I did, I would be unreasonable. Let me see. I reckon I could find a day's work for you about the store at least once a week, for which I would allow you a credit of one dollar and a quarter. How would that do?"
"It would be exactly what I would like. I can spare you a day easily. And it is much better to work out an old debt than to be idle."
"Very well, Gordon. Come tomorrow and work for me, and I will pass a dollar and a quarter to your account. I like this. It shows you are an honest man. Never fear but what you'll get along."
The approving words of the grocer encouraged Gordon very much. On the next day he went as he had agreed and worked for Mr. Blake. When he was about leaving the store at night, Blake called to him and said —
"Here, Gordon; stop a moment. I want you to deliver a pound of this white crushed sugar; and a quarter of young hyson tea."
Gordon did as he was directed. Blake took the two packages from the counter, and handing them to Gordon, said —
"Take them to your wife with my compliments, and tell her that I wish her joy of an honest husband."
Gordon took the unexpected favor, and without speaking, turned hastily from the grocer and walked away.
"Behind that frowning Providence
God hides a smiling face!"
said Mrs. Gordon, with tearful eyes, when her husband presented her the sugar and tea, and repeated what the grocer had said.
"Yes. It was a blessing sent to us in disguise," returned Gordon. "How little do we know of the good or ill which lies in our immediate future!"
"Do not say ill, dear husband — only seeming ill; if we think right and do right. When God makes our future, all is good; the ill is of our own procuring."
"Right, Mary. I see that truth as clear as if a sunbeam shone upon it."
"Time, Faith, Energy!" murmured Gordon to himself, as he lay awake that night, thinking of the future. Before losing himself in sleep, he had made up his mind to go to another creditor for a small amount, and see if he could not make a similar arrangement with him to the one entered into with the grocer. The man demurred a little, and then said he would take time to think about it. When Gordon called again, he declined the proposition, and said he had sold his goods for money, not for work.
"But I have no money," replied Gordon.
"I'll wait awhile and see," returned the man, in a way and with a significance that fretted the mind of Gordon.
"He'll wait until he sees me getting a little ahead — and then pounce down upon me like a hawk upon his prey!"
Over this idea, the reformed man worried himself, and went home to his wife unhappy and dispirited.
"I owe at least a hundred and fifty, or two hundred dollars," he said; "and there is no hope of inducing all of those to whom money is due to wait until we can pay them with comfort to ourselves. I shall be tormented to death, I see that plain enough."
"Don't look at the dark side, Henry!" replied his wife to this. "I think you do. You owe some eight or ten people, and one of them has asked you for what was due. You offered to work out the debt, and he accepted your offer. To another who has not asked you, you go and make the same offer, which he declines, preferring to wait for the money. There is nothing so really discouraging in all this, I am sure. If he prefers waiting, let him wait. No doubt it will be the same to us in the end. As to our getting much ahead, or many comforts around us until our debts are settled off, we might as well not think of that. We will feel better to pay what we owe as fast as we earn it; and, more than that, it will put the temptation to distress us in nobody's way. If one man won't let you work out your debt — another will. I've no doubt that two-thirds of your creditors will be glad to avail themselves of the offer."
Thus re-assured, Gordon felt better. On the next day he tried a third party to whom he owed fifteen dollars. This man happened to keep a retail grocery and liquor store. That is, he had a bar at one counter, and sold groceries at the other. Two-thirds of the debt was for liquor. "I want to wipe off that old score of mine, if I can, Mr. King," said Gordon, as he met the storekeeper at his own door.
"That's clever," replied Mr. King. "Walk in. What will you take?
And Mr. King stepped behind the counter and laid his hand upon a decanter.
"Nothing at all, thank you," replied Gordon quickly.
"Why how's that? Have you sworn off?"
"Yes. I've joined the temperance society."
The storekeeper shrugged his shoulders. "I didn't expect that of you, Gordon. I thought you were too fond of a little creature comfort."
"I ruined myself and beggared my family by drink, if that is what you mean by creature comfort. Poor comfort it was for my wife and children, to say nothing of my own case, which was, Heaven knows, bad enough. But I have come to talk to you about paying off that old score. Now that I've given up drinking, I want to try and be honest if I can."
"That's right. I like to see a man, when he sets out to be decent, go the whole figure. Have you got the money?"
"No. I wish I had. I have no money and not half work; but I have time on my hands, Mr. King."
"Time? That is what some people call money. You want to pay me in time, instead of money, I presume? Rather rich, that, Gordon! But time doesn't pass current, like money, in these diggins, my friend. There are a plenty who come here — and throw it away for nothing. I can get more than I want."
"I have no wish to throw my time away, nor to pass it upon you for money, Mr. King. What I want is, to render you some service — in other words, to work for you — if you can give me something to do. I have time on my hands unemployed, and I wish to turn it to some good account."
"O, yes. I understand now. Very well, Gordon; I rather think I can meet your views. Yesterday my barkeeper was sent to prison for getting into a scrape while drunk, and I need his place supplied until he gets out. Come and tend bar for me a couple of weeks, and I will give you a receipt in full of all demands."
Gordon shook his head and looked grave.
"What's the matter? Won't you do it?"
"No, sir. I can't do that."
"Because I have sworn neither to taste, touch, nor handle the accursed thing. Neither to drink it myself, nor put it to the lips of another. No, no, Mr. King, I can't do that. But I will sell your groceries for you three days a week, for four weeks. Part of my time is already regularly engaged."
"Go off about your business!" said the store-keeper, his face red with anger at the language of the reformed man, which he was pleased to consider highly insulting. "I'll see to collecting that bill in a different way from that!"
By this time, Gordon was learning not to be frightened and discouraged at everything. His wife had so often showed him its folly, that he felt ashamed to go to her again in a desponding mood, and therefore cheered himself up before going home.
In other quarters he found rather better success. Not all of those he owed were of the stamp of the two to whom application had last been made. In less than six months he had worked out nearly a hundred dollars of what he owed, and had regular employment that brought him in six dollars every week, besides earning, by odd jobs and light porterage, from two to three dollars. His wife rarely let a week go without producing her one or two dollars by needle-work. Little comforts gradually crept in, notwithstanding all their debts were not yet paid off. This was inevitable.
By the end of twelve months, Gordon found himself clear of debt, and in a good situation in a store at five hundred dollars a year.
"So much for 'Time, Faith, Energy,'" he said to himself, as he walked backwards and forwards, in his comfortable little home, one evening, thinking of the incidents of the year, and the results that had followed. "I would not have believed it. Scarcely a year has passed, and here am I, a sober man and out of debt."
"Though still very far from the advanced position in the world you held a few years ago, and to which you can never more attain," said a desponding voice within him. "A man never has but one chance for attaining ease and competence in this life. If he neglects that, he need not waste his time in any useless struggles."
"Time, Faith, Energy!" spoke out another voice. "If one year has done so much for you, what will not five, ten, or twenty years do? Redouble your energies, have confidence in the future, and time will make all right."
"I will have faith in time; I will have energy!" responded the man in Gordon, speaking aloud.
From that time Gordon and his wife lived with even stricter economy than before, in order to lay aside a little money with which he could — at some future time, re-commence his own business, which was profitable. There was still only a single shop in town, and that was the one owned by his old employer, who had, in fact, built himself up on his downfall, when he took to drinking and neglecting his business. On less than a thousand dollars, Gordon did not think of commencing business. Less than that, he knew would make the effort a doubtful one. This amount he expected to save in about five years.
Two years of this time had elapsed, and Gordon had four hundred dollars invested and bearing interest. He still held his situation at five hundred dollars per annum. The only shop yet established in the town for doing the work for which he was qualified both as a journeyman and master workman, was that owned and still carried on by his old employer, who had made a good deal of money; but who had, of late, fallen into habits of dissipation and neglected his business.
One evening, while Gordon was reading at home in his comfortable little sitting-room, with his wife beside him engaged with her needle, and both feeling very contented, there was a rap at the door. On opening it Gordon recognized Mr. Everly, and politely invited him to come in. After being seated, his old employer, who showed too plainly the debasing signs of frequent intoxication, said —
"Gordon what are you doing now?"
The reformed man stated the nature of his occupation.
"What salary do you receive?" asked Everly.
"Five hundred dollars a year."
"Do you like your present employment?"
"Yes, very well. It is lighter than my old business, and much cleaner."
"Would you be willing to come to work for me again?" further inquired Everly.
"I don't know that I would. My present situation is permanent, my employer a very pleasant man, and my work easy."
"Three things that are very desirable, certainly. But I'll tell you what I want, and what I will give you. Perhaps we can make a bargain. There is no man in town who understands our business better than you do. That I am free to admit. Heretofore I have been my own manager; but I am satisfied that it will be for my interest to have a competent foreman in my establishment. You will do exactly; and if you will take charge of my shop, I will make your wages fifteen dollars a week. What do you say to that?"
"I rather think," replied Gordon, "that I will accept your offer. Five dollars a week advance in wages for a poor man, is a consideration not lightly to be passed by."
"It is not, certainly," remarked Everly. "Then I may consider it settled that you will take charge of my shop."
"Yes. I believe I needn't hesitate about the matter."
So the arrangement was made, and Gordon went back to the shop as foreman, from which he had been discharged as a journeyman three years before.
Firmly bent upon commencing the business for himself, whenever he should feel himself able to do so, Gordon continued his frugal mode of living for two years longer, when the amount of his savings, interest and all added, was very nearly fifteen hundred dollars. The time had now come for him to take the step he had contemplated for four years. Everly received the announcement with undisguised astonishment. After committing to such competent hands the entire manufacturing part of his business, he had given himself up more and more to dissipation. Had it not been for the active and energetic manner in which the affairs of the shop were conducted by Gordon, everything would have fallen into disorder.
"I can't let you go," said Everly, when Gordon informed him of his intention to go into business for himself. "If fifteen dollars a week doesn't satisfy you, you shall have twenty."
"It is not the wages," replied Gordon. "I wish to go into business for myself. From the first, this has been my intention."
"But you haven't the capital."
"Yes. I have fifteen hundred dollars."
"Yes. I have saved it in four years. That will give me a fair start.
I am not afraid for the rest."'
Everly felt well satisfied that if Gordon went into business for himself, his own would be ruined, and therefore, finding all efforts to dissuade him from his purpose of no avail, he offered to take him in as a partner. But to this came an unexpected objection. Gordon was averse to such a connection. Being pressed to state the reason why, he frankly said —
"My unwillingness to enter into business with you arises from the fact that you are, as I was four years ago, a slave to strong drink. You are not yourself one half of the time, and hardly ever in a fit condition to attend to business. Pardon me for saying this. But you asked for my reason, and I have given it."
Everly, at first, was angry. But reflection soon came, and then he felt humiliated as he had never felt before. There was no intention on the part of Gordon to insult him, nor to triumph over him, but rather a feeling of sorrow — and this Everly saw.
"And this is your only objection?" he at length said.
"I have none other," replied Gordon.
"If it did not exist, you would meet my proposals?"
"Then it shall no longer exist. From this hour, I will be as free from the vice of alcohol as you are."
"Will you sign the pledge?"
"Yes, this very hour."
And he did so.
A year afterwards an old friend, who had joined the temperance ranks about the time Gordon did, and who had only got along moderately well, passed the establishment of EVENLY & GORDON, and saw the latter standing in the door.
"Are you in this concern?" he asked, in some surprise.
"And making money fast?"
"We are doing very well."
"Gordon, I don't understand this altogether. I tried to recover myself, but soon got discouraged, and have ever since plodded along in a poor way I live, it is true; but you are doing much better than that. What is your secret?"
"It lies in three words," replied Gordon.
"Time, Faith, Energy!"
The man looked startled for a moment, and then walked away wiser than when he asked the question. Whether he will profit by the answer, we cannot tell. Others may, if they will.