An Angel in Disguise
by T. S. Arthur
(about 2700 words)
Outside of her home, a woman drops dead of excessive alcoholism. Everyone saw it coming, and really, she wasn’t all that well liked in her community. But now what must the village do with her three children? Her two eldest are old and fit enough to be put to work in one way or another but the youngest, Maggie, is chronically ill and no use to anyone for anything. The general consensus is that she must be taken to the poorhouse if she has no relations to take her in, and no charitable heart around her to fill the role of guardian. Everyone is quick to sentence poor Maggie to her fate, however, no one is willing to actually drop her off into a life of assured misery. When Joe the wheelwright, friend to all children finally goes to check on her, he is instantly charmed by her cherubim demeanor and innocent look. He can’t bear to take her to the poorhouse, but his wife is hardhearted and will most certainly object to adopting her. Can Joe convince the dour Mrs. Thompson to take poor Maggie in, or will the child eventually be tossed away, unwanted and unloved?
Timothy Shay Arthur was born in Newburgh, New York on June 6, 1809. He had a very distinguished writing career, during which he wrote more than 150 novels and was an editor or the managing editor at over a dozen magazines. Being born to highly religious parents, many of T. S. Arthur’s works are moralistic in nature. He was also a strong proponent of temperance, and his most famous work is his essay, The Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There (1854). His short story, An Angel in Disguise features both his characteristic moral message, and his strong views on the consumption of alcohol.