Melodramatic story by T. S. Arthur, published in 1854. It became a favorite text for temperance lecturers, and was popular in the dramatic version by William W. Pratt (1858). A temperance song by Henry Clay Work, “Come Home, Father,” which begins:Father, dear father, come home with me now,The clock in the belfry strikes onewas introduced into the play about 1864.
A traveler, who visits the town of Cedarville from time to time during a period of ten years, notes the changing fortunes of the citizens, and places the responsibility on the evil influences of Simon Slade's saloon, the “Sickle and Sheaf.” The landlord rises to affluence but then gradually sinks into poverty and degradation, and among the gruesome events that are described are Slade's accidental murder of little Mary, the daughter of Joe Morgan the drunkard, who comes to fetch her father home from the saloon and is hit by a glass which is thrown at him in a brawl; the disastrous gambling experiences of Willy Hammond with the cheating Harvey Green, who murders him; the insanity of Mrs. Slade, resulting from her son's rowdyism; and finally the son's murder of his father. Following this last outrage, the townspeople hold a mass meeting, decree a prohibition on the sale of liquor, destroy the saloon's stock, and disperse with new hope for the town's future.