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GEORGE EMSALL'S CHOICE, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.
VERYBODY who knew George Emsall was sur
prised to see that he was attracted by a girl like Emma Gavin; for she was a silly little creature,
a flirt, fond of dress, always running after excitement, and never opening a book, unless it were one of those yellow-backed novels, in which there is too often so much worthless trash. She had been originally a milliner employed in a large millinery and drapery establishment, but had beeu brought down from the work-room to the sale department, in which she acquitted herself very well. She was quick and smart; she was not specially scrupulous in her praise of the articles she had to sell; and she had a certain kind of tact in the management of customers, so that she seldom suffered them to slip through her fingers without making purchases. Of course she was liked by her employers. They found her somewhat capricious and forward, but she was a good saleswoman, and that covered all faults.
And George Emsall was a sober, steady fellow, rather fond of reading, a Sunday school teacher, a member of a Christian church; nor had his religious friends any reason to doubt the sincerity of his profession. So Emma Gavin was one of the very last he could have been thought likely to chose for a wife. It is saying a great deal, but that was almost the only mistake of his life; but it was such a grievous one that he never fully retrieved it.
They were thrown together by the fact that Emsall was employed as chief woollen salesman in the same concern. He was a native of the town, but had been absent two or three years, and had only recently returned. Meanwhile Emma Gavin had gone thither from a large city at a distance, and had risen to the position she occupied in the establishment of Messrs. Mandall.
Matters were pretty far advanced between George and Emma before his parents-good, worthy, Christian people, who had done their very best to promote the best interests of their children-knew anything about it; and then they heard, not from George himself, but in quite a roundabout sort of way. They had, indeed, noticed a change in their son, which had caused them some solicitude. He spent fewer evenings at home than he had been wont to do, and
he was specially close as to where he had been. His sisters, who were teachers in the same Sunday school, found that his class was now and then left vacant; and occasionally, though not very often, his seat at church was unoccupied on the Sunday evening. At length some of his sisters' friends told them what was going on, and of course they reported it at home.
George's parents, but especially his mother, were much troubled when they heard the news. Mrs. Emsall was a sensible, judicious woman, and bad never for a moment expected that her son would ask her to choose a wife for him ; but she had hoped that he would choose one for himself likely to be a true helper to him in the battle of life, and in his journey to heaven; and it was a sore disappointment to her that his choice seemed like to fall on one so unsuitable.
“ I am afraid," said her husband, “ it will be of very little use saying anything. Young men don't like either fathers or mothers to interfere with them in such things; and besides it is a question whether it be not too late. However, it is only right that he should know what we think.”
That evening his mother asked him if he were actually engaged to Emma Gavin. From what he said, she con. cluded that he was not, and that he could still, without any lack of honour, draw back.' She then told him kindly and plainly what she thought, disclaiming any wish to dictate, but begging him to ponder seriously the wishes of what he was doing as affecting his happiness for life.
George listened to what his mother had to say, and then replied, “Now, mother, what meddling body has been prejudicing your mind in this fashion? Emma Gavin is a great deal better than all that. I don't mean to say she's perfect; but, then, she's young; and by-and-by she will sober down, and become as matter-of-fact and practical as you could wish. Besides, she is a good business woman, and when I start for myself, she will be a great help.”
“I am not going to dispute that, George,” replied his mother; “ but is there not something of far higher moment? Are you agreed on the main point of all ? Your future home is not likely to be a happy one, unless you are.”
George had had his doubts on that matter. He was compellod to admit to himself that he had seen nothing in Emma which betokened any approach to seriousness. Nay, she had told him frankly, that according to his notions of religion she did not profess to be religious. It was quite right for people to go to church on the Sunday, once, at any rate; and quite right for them to read their Bibles—sometimes ; but she had no idea of moping, and she meant to enjoy herself whilst she was young.
“ Well, mother," he replied, after a little hesitation, “I don't think she is what you might call decided; but I think there's a good deal that is hopeful about her, and under right influences she will, I trust, become all you could wish.”
Mrs. Emsall did not think it right to pursue the conversation further; and nothing more was said on the subject for about ten months, when George told his mother that the thing was finally settled, and asked permission to introduce to the family his intended wife. They at once consented, although, every one of them, grievously disappointed. For George's sake they resolved to receive her with the utmost kindness, and they did so. Who could tell, they thought, whether they might not exert upon her some good influence, which might make George's home a happy one after all ?
In the course of a few months longer George Emsall began business, and about the same time Emma Gavin and he were married.
Most young men, with anything like thoughtfulness, when they enter on business and married life, form their own ideal as to how it should be spent; and George Emsall had formed his. He would conduct his business with unswerving uprightness; he would set up family worship at once; all beneath his care-servants, apprentices and assistants-should be expected to attend the house of God; and if children should be given to him, he would try to bring them up well. His father's household had been an orderly and happy one, and, with some slight modifications, he would form his own on the same model. Nor is there any reason to doubt that if he had had a wife likeminded with himself he would have succeeded, in the main, in carrying out his plans. But how was it possible, when, as he soon found out to his great disappointment, he was not only left unsupported, but his wife's influence was almost dead against him?
For a little time things went on smoothly. Mrs. George Emsall was really fond of her husband, and she was willing in some degree, for the sake of pleasing him, to fall in with his arrangements. That, however, lasted only for a short time.
She had been brought up in a gay and pleasure-loving, but poor family, and she had been always accustomed to think of pleasure as the great end of life. Her parents had never placed any restriction on their children, either in respect to Sunday excursions, or company-keeping, or balls—such balls, that is to say, as were accessible to persons of their position. Still, they were greatly restrained by the necessity of earning their bread, and by their limited means. It will be readily believed that, before her marriage, Mrs. George Emsall had pictured to herself somewhat highly the possibilities of a much larger gratification of her taste for pleasure than had ever been in her power. What would she not do when she was mistress of an establishment of her own?
To do her justice she was quite willing to work, and in addition to the care of her household-in which, by the way, she displayed but little skill-she took the superintendence of a department similar to that of which she had the charge in Messrs. Mandall's. Still she said, she was not going to be a mere business and household drudge: she had friends, and she would have them about her, and of course she would go and visit them. Sorely against his will, her husband found himself gradually involved in a round of company keeping, and that too with people whom he certainly would not have chosen as his own friends. Of course all this involved cost to a greater extent than was desirable for a young man who had his way to make in the world. It broke in, too, on the regularity of their family arrangements. They were frequently out in the evenings, and of course there could in their absence be no family worship ; and it was all the same when their friends were visiting them. It was gradually given up altogether in the evenings. Late hours at night of necessity involve late hours in the morning; and very soon it was found quite as much as apprentices and assistants could do to swallow a hasty breakfast and get down into the shop. Ere long family worship was quite given up on week-days, and observed only on the Sunday mornings and evenings, and even then it was frequently interrupted. The house was fast becoming all but a prayerless one.
There were times when all this troubled Mr. Emsall verymuch, and once or twice he tried to make a firm stand, and to restore things to the condition in which they were established when they began housekeeping and business; but it was of no use. It is quite true that his wife offered no direct opposition; she admitted that it might be “quite as well,” if what he wished could be done ; but she rendered him no help, and took her own way as before. So matters went on still in the same unsatisfactory fashion.
Mrs. Emsall, senior, could not but see what we have thus described, and it grieved her much. She saw that it was of no use whatever remonstrating with her daughter-in-law, who was especially jealous of anything like interference ; but once she ventured to speak on the subject to her son, He received what she had to say kindly and respectfully; 1 still in such a way as to indicate that the subject was an unwelcome one, and to show that he did not wish to have it mentioned again. Seeing that she could, for the present at least, do no good, she wisely kept silence.
On one point Mr. Emsall never swerved. He could never on any account short of absolute necessity leave his place in the house of God vacant; and he insisted on all his household as well attending regularly. There was, however, one exception. On various grounds his wife was often absent, and by-and-by her example had its evil influence.
Time rolled on, and children were born—a somewhat large family-two sons and four daughters. Mr. Emsall loved his children dearly, and he was most anxious that they should be well and religiously trained; but, with the best intentions, he soon found out how little a father can do, especially one who is much occupied in business, when the mother's influence is either directly or negatively against him. It would be wrong to say that his wife was not attached to their children; but her chief attention to them was directed to their material comforts, and her love was shown, too frequently, by foolish indulgence. She never did anything to lead them to Jesus—how, indeed, could she ?- nor did she ever seek to storo their minds with the lessons and truths of Scripture. In many respects, moreover, her influence was unsatisfactory. Her temper was hasty and capricious, and the quick eyes of her children soon discovered that she was in the habit