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"To-morrow," observed Mr. Sunderland, "is the annversary of the melancholy death of our dear Henry,-tomorrow will be ten years since the vessel in which he sailed was lost, and all on board perished-all, all."

"Alas!" exclaimed his wife, as the tears coursed ther way down her cheeks, "to-morrow will be a melancholy day."

"Indeed it will, for to-morrow this house, which belonged to my father; the furniture, which time has made, as it were, a part of ourselves, and associated with many a pleasing event in our lives, is to be sold-torn from us by the unre lenting hands of creditors; but, thank Providence, misfortune, not crime, has reduced us to this stage of poverty."

"Will they sell every thing, pa; can we secure nothing;" asked the daughter.

"No, my child, unless with what little money a friend has generously loaned me, I can secure a few articles. Ellen, my dear, take your pencil and put them down: first, the sideboard, two beds, sofa, chairs, and kitchen things. The sideboard, it is true, will be to us now a superfluous piece of furniture, but it belonged to my mother, and I cannot--will not part with it!"

"But my piano, pa !--must it go?"

The wife sighed, the father cast his eyes toward the flickering fire, and the daughter was silent. The fate of the piano was decided upon. A melancholy pause in the conversation plainly told how severe was the alternative--for the law never studies the feelings of its victims when exacting the penalty of a bond.

"Go, Mary," said Mr. Sunderland, addressing the servant, "go and request the sheriff's officer, who is watching the property, to walk into the parlor; he is only doing his duty no doubt it is painful to him, as it is distressing to us.

Let him have a seat at our fire, and a glass of wine, for it is a severe night."


"It is indeed a fearful night," observed Mrs. Sunderland, "and we have behaved rude to this man."


'Mother, I made a fire in the room where he is, but-" "Speak out, child-it was with the last stick."

"Father, it was."

Mary returned with the officer, a polite, gentlemanly man, for such should be the character of men who have to perform a part in the drama of life, not unlike that of the inquisitors of old, whose province it was to torture by the rack, with this difference, however; their's was a physical torture—ours a mental one, administered with all the nicety and precision of legal justice. The officer politely accepted the invitation, tasted the wine, and endeavored to cheer his victims, by enumerating many cases of a similar kind, equally poignant and distressing. Thus the evening passed heavily and cheerlessly away.

On the morning of the contemplated sale, there was to be seen a crowd of people flocking to the house of Mr. Sunderland. Some out of sheer, heartless curiosity, friends of the family, who came with mockery on their lips—and empty purses. Others with an intent to purchase, but no one among the crowd showed the least desire to aid, assist, or sympathize with the distress of the family. This is the world we laugh at the misfortunes of our fellow creatures, and even mock their distresses, by witnessing in silence their sufferings. The auctioneer was now making his arrangements, by flourishing his hammer, rolling his eyes, and using his tongue. The motley crowd gathered around him. The house was put up first; it was accurately described, free of all incumbrances, and subject to but a very small ground rent. It was started at five thousand dollars.

There were several bidders, all of whom seemed anxious te purchase it. Seven thousand five hundred dollars was the last bid, upon which the auctioneer dwelt for a moment. Mr. Sunderland compressed his lips together, and muttered to himself, "it cost my father fifteen thousand dollars." Seven thousand five hundred dollars, going-once-twicethree times for the last time going-eight thousand—thank you, sir-going at eight thousand-once-eight thousand twice-eight thousand three times-going-gone-what name? "Clifford," was the response, and all eyes rested on a tall, noble looking man, who had remained silent during the rapid bidding of the speculators-and who, as the whisper went round, was a total stranger.

"It is gone," whispered Mr. Sunderland to his wife, as he pressed her hand in silent grief. "We have no home now."

"Now, gentlemen," cried the auctioneer, "we will sell this side-board, in regard to which I am requested by the creditor to say that it is an old family piece, and it is the wish of the owner to retain it if possible. I merely mention this, as it is known to you under what peculiar circumstances the things are sold." This had the desired effectno one seemed willing to bid against the unfortunate man, who started it at ten dollars. Twenty was bid by Mr. Clifford; twenty-five from Mr. Sunderland; fifty from Mr. Clifford silenced the anxious parent, and the family piece of furniture was knocked down to the new owner of the house. A gentleman who stood by remarked that the act was a cold, heartless one. "Was it," sarcastically asked Mr. Clifford, "then, Sir, why did you not buy it for him?"

Mr. Sunderland was much affected at this little incident. "He little knows how much he has lacerated this heart. But I will purchase the piano for my child." He stepped

up to Mr. Clifford, and told him the desire he had to purchase the piano for his daughter, and hoped he would not bid against him."


Sir," said the stranger, "I will not deceive you, as much as I respect your feelings and the sympathy of this good company; I cannot, nay, will not, alter the determination made when I first entered this house."

"And pray, Sir, what may that be ?”

"To purchase every thing in it, and by heaven I'll do it, though I pay double price."

"Strange," muttered Mr. Sunderland, as he joined his family in another part of the room.

The stranger fulfilled his promise, and actually bought every thing from the house itself down to the very axe in the cellar.

After the sale was over, and the company had retired, Mr. Clifford requested the Auctioneer to walk with him into an adjoining room. After the lapse of a few moments they both returned to the parlor where the family still remained. The Auctioneer looked around, gave a knowing smile-wished them all a good day, and as he left the room was heard to say-" I never heard of such a thing—a perfect romance-ha! ha! ha!"

"You are now," observed Mr. Sunderland to Mr. Clifford, "the owner of this house and furniture-they were once mine-let that pass."

"I am Sir, and for the time being your landlord."

"I understand you, Sir, but will not long remain your tenant; I was going to observe, however, that there are two or three articles which I am anxious to purchase-that sideboard, for instance-it is a family relic-I will give you the fifty dollars the price you paid, and I feel assured under the circumstances, you will not refuse me this favor?"

"I cannot take it, Sir."

"Obdurate ungrateful man!"

"Will you not let Pa buy my piano, Sir?" humbly asked Ellen. "He will give you the price at which it was


"It is painful for me, young lady, to refuse even this-I will sell nothing-not even the wood-saw in the cellar."

"Then, Mr. Clifford," exclaimed Mr. Sunderland, "we have no further business here; come my dear,-Ellen, get your bonnet-that's your band box-let us quit this house, we are not even free from insult. Where is Mary?"


I am here, Sir-the key of my trunk is lost, and I am fastening it with a rope?"


Stop, my girl-but methinks I purchased that trunk,” coolly observed the stranger.

"Mr. Clifford-I am not so old, but that I can resent an insult-nay, will, if you carry this arrogant, and to me, strange conduct much further; that poor girl has been to me and mine the best, and I may say the only friend; she has remained with us in poverty, assisted us in our distresses, not only with her purse but her hands; she is to me not as a servant, but one of my family-for there is-thank heaven, no such base distinctions in poverty, that exists in a state of bloated wealth. Here-here with nothing but what we have upon our backs-the master and servant are equal. She is part of my family and I will protect her from insult. That trunk is hers, and who dare take it from her? Not you, Sir!"

Mr. Clifford cast his eyes upon Mary, who at that moment arose from the floor-for a moment they gazed upon each other in silence-" And she, you say, has been to you a friend ?”

"Indeed she has—a kind, noble one."

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