Hearts Afire - By J. D. Rawden


Never, in all its history, was the proud and opulent city of New York more glad and gay than in the bright spring days of Eighteen-Seventy-One. It had put out of sight every trace of the old world, all its homes had been restored and re-furnished, and its sacred places re-consecrated and adorned. Like a young giant ready to run a race, it stood on tiptoe, eager for adventure and discovery— sending ships to the ends of the world, and round the world, on messages of commerce and friendship, and encouraging with applause and rewards that wonderful spirit of scientific invention, which was the Epic of the youthful nation. The skies of Italy were not bluer than the skies above New York; the sunshine of Arcadia not brighter or more genial. It was a city of beautiful, and even splendid, homes; and all the length and breadth of its streets were shaded by trees, in whose green shadows dwelt and walked some of the greatest men of the century.

These gracious days of Eighteen-Seventy-One were also the early days of the pioneers of political freedom on the aged side of the Atlantic. The merchants on Exchange Street, the Legislators in their Council Chambers, the working men on the wharves and streets, the loveliest women in their homes, and walks, and drives, alike wore the red cockade. The Marseillaise was sung with The Star Spangled Banner; and the notorious Carmagnole could be heard every hour of the day—on stated days, officially, at the Belvedere Club. Love for the new world, hatred for the old, was the spirit of the age; it effected the trend of commerce, it dominated politics, it was the keynote of conversation wherever men and women congregated.

In these days of wonderful hopes and fears there was, in Brooklyn, a very humble residence—an old house built in the early century as a coach house but converted to residential home. The great linden trees which shaded the garden had been planted by the former owners; so also had the high hedges of cut boxwood, and the wonderful sweet briar, which covered the porch and framed all the windows filling the open rooms in summer time with the airs of Paradise.

Cornelius Harleigh Daly, the young man of this sketch, was of humble parentage. The elder Daly, fully appreciating the disadvantages of his own position, early determined that his only son should receive a superior education.

As a consequence, Cornelius—or, as he was more familiarly called, Harleigh—was sent to school at an early age, and on his Eighteenth birthday was in a condition to fairly combat the world and achieve success. He was comely of feature, athletic of frame, and intelligent of mind. He was the pride of his old father and mother, and the admiration of all the friends of the family.

One day Harleigh returned to his humble home from school to find terror and grief supplanting the usual greeting of joy and pleasure; his father had been brought home in a helpless condition, a victim of the dreaded paralysis. It was evident, now that the head of the family had been incapacitated from further labor, that Harleigh must do something toward their support.

Throwing to one side all his cherished ambitions and boyish hopes, Harleigh left school and apprenticed himself in a large machine shop located in Brooklyn. His wages at first were small, but being strong of limb and stout of heart, backed by intelligence, he speedily progressed, and in less than two years was promoted to the position of journeyman. His wages sufficed to keep his father and mother in comparative comfort, but even this failed to satisfy him. He yearned for something higher and nobler, and after working a few months as a journeyman, he grew dissatisfied with his position. He loved his old father and mother with all the ardor of his warm generous heart, and he feared lest lack of means should compel him to abridge their enjoyment of little luxuries he deemed necessary for their declining years.

It chanced one day that the proprietor’s beautiful daughter, Charlotte, visited her father’s establishment, and not finding him in the business office sought him among the workmen. Mr. Morgan was in the act of giving Harleigh some instructions in reference to a piece of work when the rich young beauty approached him, and with girlish impetuousness began questioning about the to her wonderful mysteries of the tools and machinery about her. The indulgent father, after mildly chiding her for thus