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both out for a nice walk.” And without any further questioning, the children said their evening prayer, and went off to their little crib.
The twins were soon fast asleep, and their brother sat moodily by their side. They had seldom asked him to repeat their mother's sayings to them, and why they had done so to-night he could not imagine. Did they suspect anything? Not they !-how could they have known that he had paid for a glass of brandy-and-water at the “Golden Robin" ? All this was mere childishness; he must rouse himself; and, accordingly, he tried to shake off the uncomfortable feelings which had begun to oppress him. But, despite all his efforts, the idea took possession of his mind that the questions of the twins were only so many warnings, to show him on the brink of what a precipice he stood. There they lay asleep in the crib; they had never been parted from the day of their birth for a single hour; and now they looked more beautiful than they had ever done. The thought struck John Graham's mind, that perhaps, through their lips, he had been spoken to from heaven.
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CHAPTER IV. The tempter will never easily forego an advantage when once it has been obtained; and in the present instance he pressed hard upon John Graham, until at last he carried his point. Had the children been awake, or had the public-house been at any great distance, the probability is, that the youth would have remained at home; but the nearness of the place of temptation, and the sound sleep in which the children were, favoured the suggestion which the Wicked One made to him, that he might as well go across and learn the end of the shipwreck, about which he had been so anxious. It perhaps seems strange that John Graham's curiosity should have overcome such strong forces as had been brought to bear upon him for good; strange, that it should have drawn him on to so much evil; but when once the Wicked One is fairly at work upon the heart, he can bring about his own ends by instruments slight enough in themselves. Had John Graham, as he sat by the children's bed-side, taken out his Bible, or occupied himself in any useful way, he might have escaped the snares which were woven for him; but there he sat, allowing his mind to dwell upon the paper which he had been reading, until at
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length his curiosity became so strong, that he determined to go over to the “ Golden Robin" and find out how the matter ended.
A few steps brought him to the publichouse, and he soon found himself in the taproom, and seated at a table, with the newspaper in his hand. So interested was he in all he read, that the time flew quickly by, and he did not perceive that the room had gradually filled with men, who had, alas ! come to spend some of their week's wages in a Saturday night carouse. John Graham was rather dismayed when he found himself surrounded by these men on every side, for every little table had its own company, each man indulging himself according to his own fancy, some with gin, some with porter, some with ale, while almost every one had a pipe in his mouth. The potboy was very busy going about the room, replenishing the glasses and taking orders; and, to John Graham's great dismay, this individual soon stopped before him, and asked him what he would be pleased to take. The youth would have very gladly made his escape, but this was now impossible; the Wicked One had snared him too effectually ; and while he was screwing up his courage to say, “ Nothing, thank you,” he found that the eyes of all around were fixed upon him. And, in truth, he cut a strange figure in the tap-room of the “Golden Robin.” There he was, amid old confirmed drunkards, and men of notorious bad character; he was far the youngest of the party; his very appearance was unlike any of theirs, and he alone had no drink before him.' John Graham would have given the potboy all he had in the world, if only he would go i away, if only he could sneak out unobserved ; but there his tormentor stood, evidently determined not to stir until something had been ordered, and continually asking the youth what he would be pleased to have. At length, in order to divert the attention of so many starers from him, the youth ordered a pint of ale; to pay for this, he produced a five-shilling piece, part of the wages which he had that afternoon received, and which was to form a very considerable part of their livelihood for the ensuing week. John Graham did not like to drink down his ale in a moment, so he sat for a little while, and that little while only served to rivet the chain which the Evil One had already wound about his heart. The fumes of the tobacco, which were very strong, from so many persons smoking in the one room, took rapid effect upon him, after he had taken a portion of his ale. In a little while he felt his head very strange, and thus it went on, until at length he did not exactly know what he did or said. This was not unperceived by two or three low fellows who sat at the next table, and as they saw that he had money, they determined
to fleece him of it- a task by no means difficult in his present state. They produced some halfpence and began to gamble with each other, and soon drew in the unhappy youth to join the game. This he did, scarcely knowing what he was about, and they never left him until they had stripped him of every farthing.
How John Graham ever got home he could not tell; but the following morning he. found himself, in the broad day-light, lying upon the ground, with a very considerable cut in his forehead, and little Eddy and Mary crying by his side, while one of the women of the house was bathing his head with water, and using some very strong language with reference to his present state.
It was difficult to see which frightened the children most, the cut on their brother's forehead, or the abuse which Mrs. Schneegans was lavishing upon him; but sorely and bitterly they cried, as though their little hearts would break. As soon as John Graham came to himself, he got Mrs. Schneegans away as fast as possible, but even as she departed she muttered as much abuse as she could.
66 Mrs. Schneegans is a wicked woman," said Eddy; "she says bad things."
" Don't let her come again, John," said little Mary; “ she called you ugly names; she's very wicked."