Lyman Dean's Testimonials by
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
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.
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
"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
"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
"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
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.
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
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
"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."
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
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
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.
"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
"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.
"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
"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
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."
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
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."