Lyman Dean's Testimonials by Unknown

I do not believe two more excellent people could be found than Gideon Randal and his wife. To lift the fallen and to minister to the destitute was their constant habit and delight. They often sacrificed their own comforts for the benefit of others. In vain their friends protested at this course; Gideon Randal's unfailing reply was:—

"I think there's enough left to carry Martha and me through life, and some besides. What we give to the poor, we lend to the Lord, and if a dark day comes, He will provide."

The "dark day" came; but it was not until he had reached the age of three score and ten years. As old age came upon him, and his little farm became less productive, debts accumulated. Being forced to raise money, he had borrowed a thousand dollars of Esquire Harrington, giving him a mortgage on his home for security. But as the interest was regularly paid, his creditor was well satisfied. However, Mr. Harrington died suddenly, and his son, a merciless, grasping man, wrote Mr. Randal, demanding payment of the mortgage.

Vainly did the old man plead for an extension of time. The demand was pressed to such an extent that it even become a threat to deprive him of his home unless payment were made within a given time.

"Martha," he said to his wife, "young Harrington is a hard man. He has me in his power, and he will not scruple to ruin me. I think I would better go and talk with him, telling him how little I have. It may be he will pity two old people, and allow us better terms."

"But husband, you are not used to traveling; Harrowtown is a hundred miles away, and you are old and feeble too."

"True, wife; but I can talk much better than I can write, and besides, Luke Conway lives there, you remember. I took an interest in him when he was a poor boy; perhaps he will advise and help us, now that we are in trouble."

At last, since he felt that he must go, Mrs. Randal reluctantly consented, and fitted him out for the journey with great care.

The next morning was warm and sunny for November, and the old man started for Harrowtown.

"Gideon," called Mrs. Randal as he walked slowly down the road, "be sure to take tight hold of the railing, when you get in and out of the cars."

"I'll be careful, Martha," and with one more "good bye" wave of his hand, the old man hurried on to take the stage, which was to carry him to the station. But misfortune met him at the very outset. The stage was heavily loaded, and on the way, one of the wheels broke down; this caused such a delay that Mr. Randal missed the morning train, and the next did not come for several hours.

[Illustration: "<i>How long before we reach Harrowtown? </i>"]

It was afternoon when he finally started. He became anxious and weary from long waiting, and after three stations were passed, he became nervous, and worried.

"How long before we reach Harrowtown?" he inquired, stopping the busy conductor.

"At half past eight."

Another question was upon Mr. Randal's lips, but the conductor was gone. "Not reach there until evening!" he exclaimed to himself in dismay, "and pitch dark, for there's no moon now; I shall not know where to go!"

Presently the conductor passed again. "Mr. Conductor, will you kindly tell me when to get out? I've never been to Harrowtown, and I don't want to stop at the wrong place."

"Give yourself no uneasiness," was the polite reply, "I'll let you know; I will not forget you."

Soothed by this assurance, the old man settled back in his seat and finally went to sleep.

In the seat behind him sat a tall, handsome boy. His name was Albert Gregory. He was bright and intelligent, but there was an expression of cruelty about his mouth, and a look about his eyes that was cold and unfeeling. This lad saw the old man fall asleep, and he nudged his companion:—

"See here, John, by and by I'll play a good joke on that old country greeny, and you'll see fun."

On rushed the train; mile after mile was passed. Daylight faded, and the lamps were lighted in the cars, and still the old man slept, watched by his purposed tormentor and the other boy, who wanted to see "the fun."

At last the speed of the train began to slacken. They were nearing a station. Albert sprang up and shook Mr. Randal violently.

"Wake up! wake up!" he called sharply. "This is Harrowtown. You must get off here!"

Thus roughly roused, the old man started from his seat and gazed around in a bewildered way. The change from daylight to darkness, the unaccustomed awakening on a moving train, and the glare of the lights added tenfold to his confusion.

"Wh—what did you say, boy?" he asked helplessly.

"This is Harrowtown. The place where you want to stop. You must get off. Be quick, or you'll be carried by."

The noise of the brakes, and ignorance of the real locality on the part of those near enough to have heard him, prevented any correction of the boy's cruel falsehood.

Mr. Randal knew it was not the conductor who had aroused him; but, supposing Albert to be some employee of the road, he hurried to the car door with tottering steps. The name of the station was called at the other end of the car,—a name quite unlike that of "Harrowtown," but his dull ears did not notice it. He got off upon the platform, and before he could recover himself or knew his error, the train was again in motion.

[Illustration: "<i>This is Harrowtown. Be quick, or you'll be carried

Albert was in ecstasies over the success of his "joke," and shook all over with laughter, in which, of course, his companion joined. "O dear! that's jolly fun!" he cried, "isn't it, John?"

John assented that it was very funny indeed.

Neither of the boys had noticed that the seat lately occupied by the poor old man had just been taken by a fine-looking gentleman, wrapped in a heavy cloak, who appeared to be absorbed in his own thoughts, but who really heard every word they said.

They kept up a brisk conversation, Albert speaking in a loud tone, for he was feeling very merry. "Ha, ha, ha!—but I did think the old fool would hear the brakeman call the station, though. I didn't suppose I could get him any farther than the door. To think of his clambering clear out on the platform, and getting left! He believed every word I told him. What a delicious old simpleton!"

And having exhausted that edifying subject for the moment, he presently began to boast of his plans and prospects.

"I don't believe you stand much of a chance there; they say Luke Conway's awful particular," the stranger heard John remark.

"Pooh! shut up!" cried Albert. "Particular! That's just it, and that makes my chance all the better. I've brought the kind of recommendations that a particular man wants, you see."

"But there'll be lots of other fellows trying for the place."

"Don't care if there's fifty," said Albert, "I'd come in ahead of 'em all. I've got testimonials of character and qualifications from Prof. Howe, Rev. Joseph Lee, Dr. Henshaw, and Esq. Jenks, the great railroad contractor. His name alone is enough to secure me the situation."

At this, the gentleman on the next seat turned and gave Albert a quick, searching glance. But the conceited boy was too much occupied with himself to notice the movement, and kept on talking. Now and then the thought of the victim whom he had so cruelly deceived seemed to come back and amuse him amazingly.

"Wonder where the old man is now. Ha, ha! Do you suppose he has found out where Harrowtown is? Oh, but wasn't it rich to see how scared he was when I awoke him? And how he jumped and scrambled out of the car! 'Pon my word, I never saw anything so comical."

Here the stranger turned again and shot another quick glance, this time from indignant eyes, and his lips parted as if about to utter a stern reproof. But he did not speak.

We will now leave Albert and his fellow-travelers, and follow good Gideon Randal.

It was quite dark when he stepped from the cars. "Can you tell me where I can find Mr. Aaron Harrington?" he inquired of a man at the station.

"There's no such man living here, to my knowledge," was the reply.

"What, isn't this Harrowtown?" asked Mr. Randal, in great consternation.

"No, it is Whipple Village."

"Then I got out at the wrong station. What shall I do?" in a voice of deep distress.

"Go right to the hotel and stay till the train goes in the morning," said the man, pleasantly.

There was no alternative. Mr. Randal passed a restless night at the hotel, and at an early hour he was again at the station, waiting for the train. His face was pale, and his eye wild and anxious. "The stage broke down, and I missed the first train," thought he, "and then that boy told me to get out here. I've made a bad beginning and I'm afraid this trip will have a bad ending."

[Illustration: "<i>Allow me to assist you, sir</i>."]

There were many passengers walking to and fro on the platform, waiting for the cars to come.

Among them was a plain-featured, honest-looking boy, who had been accompanied to the station by his mother. Just before she bade him "good-bye," she said, "Lyman, look at that pale, sad old man. I don't believe he is used to traveling. Perhaps you can help him along."

As the train came into the station, the lad stepped up to Mr. Randal, and said, respectfully: "Allow me to assist you, sir." Then he took hold of his arm, and guided him into the car to a seat.

"Thank you, my boy. I'm getting old and clumsy, and a little help from a young hand comes timely. Where are you going, if I may ask?"

"To Harrowtown, sir. I saw an advertisement for a boy in a store, and I'm going to try to get the situation. My name is Lyman Dean."

"Ah? I'm sure I wish you success, Lyman, for I believe you're a good boy. You are going to the same place I am. I want to find Aaron Harrington, but I've had two mishaps. I don't know what's coming next."

"I'll show you right where his office is. I've been in Harrowtown a good many times."

Half an hour later, the brakeman shouted the name of the station where they must stop. Lyman assisted Mr. Randal off the train, and walked with him to the principal street. "Here's Mr. Harrington's office," said he.

"Oh, yes, thank you kindly. And now could you tell me where Mr. Luke Conway's place of business is?"

"Why, that's the very gentleman I'm going to see," said Lyman. "His place is just round the corner, only two blocks off."

Mr. Randal was deeply interested. He turned and shook the boy's hand, warmly. "Lyman," he said, "Mr. Conway knows me. I am going to see him by-and-by. I am really obliged to you for your politeness, and wish I could do something for you. I hope Mr. Conway will give you the situation, for you deserve it. If you apply before I get there, tell him Gideon Randal is your friend. Good-by."

Fifteen minutes after found Lyman waiting in the counting-room of Luke Conway's store. Albert Gregory had just preceded him. The merchant was writing, and he had requested the boys to be seated a short time, till he was at leisure. Before he finished his work, a slow, feeble step was heard approaching, and an old man stood in the doorway.

[Illustration: "<i>Welcome, my benefactor!</i>"]

"Luke, don't you remember me?" The merchant looked up at the sound of the voice. Then he sprang from his chair and grasped the old man's hands in both his own.

"Mr. Randal! Welcome, a thousand times welcome, my benefactor!" he exclaimed. Seating his guest, Mr. Conway inquired after his health and comfort, and talked with him as tenderly as a loving son. It was evident to the quick perception of the merchant that the good old man's circumstances had changed, and he soon made it easy for him to unburden his mind.

"Yes, Luke, I am in trouble. Aaron Harrington owns a mortgage on my farm. I can't pay him, and he threatens to take my home," said Mr. Randal, with a quivering lip. "I went to his office, but didn't find him, and I thought may be you'd advise me what to do."

"Mr. Randal," answered the merchant, laying his hand on the old man's shoulder, "almost thirty years ago when I was cold, and hungry, and friendless, you took me in and fed me. Your good wife—God bless her!—made me a suit of clothes with her own hands. You found me work, and you gave me money when I begun the world alone. Much if not all that I am in life I owe to your sympathy and help, my kind old friend. Now I am rich, and you must let me cancel my debt. I shall pay your mortgage to-day. You shall have your home free again."

Mr. Randal wiped great hot tears from his cheeks, and said, in a husky voice, "It is just as I told Martha. I knew, if we lent our money to the Lord, when a dark day came, He would provide."

The reader can imagine the different feelings of the two boys, as they sat witnesses of the scene. The look of derision, that changed to an expression of sickly dismay, on Albert's face, when the old man came in and was so warmly greeted by the merchant, was curiously suggestive. But his usual assurance soon returned. He thought it unlikely that Mr. Randal would recognize him in the daylight, and he determined to put on a bold front.

For a minute the two men continued in conversation. Mr. Conway called up pleasant reminiscences of "Aunt Martha," his boy-life on the farm, and the peace and stillness of the country town. He thought a railway ride of a hundred miles must be quite a hardship for a quiet old man. "It was a long way for you," he said, "Did you have a comfortable journey?"

"Well, I can't quite say that. First, the stage broke down and delayed me. Then I slept in the cars, and a boy played a trick on me, and waked me up, and made me get out at the wrong station, so I had to stay over nigh in Whipple Village. To tell the truth I had a great deal of worriment with one thing and another, getting here; but it's all right now," he added, with a radiant face.

>[Illustration: "<i>Is this the boy who lied to you</i>?"]

"You shall go with me to my house and rest, as soon as I have dismissed these boys," said Mr. Conway, earnestly; and turning to Albert and Lyman, who anxiously waited, he spoke to them about their errand.

"I suppose you came because you saw my advertisement?"

"Yes, sir," replied both, simultaneously.

"Very well. I believe you came in first," he began, turning to Albert. "What is your name?"

"I am Albert Gregory, sir. I think I can suit you. I've brought testimonials of ability and character from some of the first men—Esq. Jenks, Rev. Joseph Lee, Dr. Henshaw, and others. Here are my letters of recommendation," holding them out for Mr. Conway to take.

"I don't care to see them," returned the merchant, coldly. "I have seen you before. I understand your character well enough for the present."

He then addressed a few words to Lyman Dean.

"I should be very glad of work," said Lyman. "My mother is poor, and I want to earn my living, but I haven't any testimonials."

"Yes, you have," said old Mr. Randal, who was waiting for an opportunity to say that very thing. And then he told the merchant how polite and helpful Lyman had been to him.

Mr. Conway fixed his eyes severely upon the other boy. The contrast between him and young Dean was certainly worth a lesson.

"Albert Gregory," said the merchant, "I occupied the seat in the car in front of you last evening. I heard you exultingly and wickedly boasting how you had deceived a distressed and helpless old man. Mr. Randal, is this the boy who lied to you, and caused you to get out at the wrong station?"

"I declare! Now I do remember him. It is! I'm sure it is," exclaimed the old gentleman, fixing his earnest eyes full upon the crimson face of the young man.

It was useless for Albert to attempt any vindication of himself. His stammered excuses stuck in his throat, and he was glad to hide his mortification by an early escape. Crestfallen, he slunk away, taking all his "testimonials" with him.

"Lyman," said Mr. Conway kindly, "I shall be very glad to employ you in my store. You shall have good pay if you do well, and I am sure you will. You may begin work at once."

[Illustration: <i>Mr. Randal pays Mr. Harrington</i>.]

Lyman's eyes danced with joy as he left the counting-room to receive his instructions from the head clerk.

Mr. Conway furnished the money to pay the debt due to Mr. Harrington by Mr. Randal, and a heavy load was lifted from the good old farmer's heart. He remained a visitor two or three days in Mr. Conway's house, where he was treated with the utmost deference and attention.

Mr. Conway also purchased for him a suit of warm clothes, and an overcoat, and sent his confidential clerk with him on his return journey to see him safely home. Nor was good Mrs. Randal forgotten. She received a handsome present in money from Mr. Conway, and a message full of grateful affection. Nothing ever after occurred to disturb the lives of the aged and worthy pair.

Albert Gregory secured an excellent situation in New York, but his false character, and his wanton disregard of others' feelings and rights, made him as hateful to his employers as to all his associates, and it soon became necessary for him to seek another place.

He has changed places many times since, and his career has been an unhappy one—another example of the results of frivolous habits and a heartless nature.

Lyman Dean is now a successful merchant, a partner of Mr. Conway, and occupies a high position in society, as an honorable, enterprising man. But best of all, he is a Christian, and finds deep satisfaction and happiness in the service of Him who has said:—

"Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God."