With a Will, Joe! by Unknown
It was a summer afternoon; the wheelbarrow stood before Mrs. Robbins'
door; the street was empty of all traffic, for the heat was intense.
I sauntered languidly along on the shady side opposite the widow's
house, and noticed her boy bringing out some linen in a basket, to put
on the wheelbarrow.
I was surprised at the size of the basket he was lugging along the
passage and lifting on to the wheelbarrow, and paused to look at him. He
pulled, and dragged, and then resting a moment began again, and in the
silence of the street, I heard him saying something to himself.
I half crossed the road. He was too busy to notice me, and then, in a
pause of his toil, I heard him gasp out:—
"With a will, Joe!" He was encouraging himself to a further effort with
these words. At last, bringing the large basket to the curbstone, he ran
in and got a piece of smooth wood as a lever; resting one end of the
basket on the wheelbarrow, he heaved up the other end, and saying a
little louder than before, "With a will, Joe," the basket was mounted
on to the wheelbarrow.
As he rested, and looked proudly at his successful effort, he saw me,
and his round, red face, covered with perspiration, became scarlet for a
moment, as I said:—
"That's a brave boy." The mother's voice sounded in the passage:—
"I'm coming, Joe!" and out she came, as the child, pointing to the
"I've managed it, mother!" It was a pretty sight,—the gratified smile
of the widowed mother, as she fondly regarded her willing boy. Though no
further word was spoken, the expression of satisfaction on their faces
was very plain, and I have no doubt in each heart there was a throb of
pleasure for which words have no language.
I went on my way, but the saying, "With a will, Joe," went with me. How
much there was in that simple phrase, "With a will!"
How different is our work according as we do it with or against our
will. This little fellow might have cried or murmured, or left his
mother to do the work, and been dissatisfied with himself, and a source
of discontent to his mother; but he had spurred himself on to toil and
duty, with his words, powerful in their simplicity—"With a will, Joe."
Often since have I recalled the scene and the saying. When some young
lady complains to me, "I have no time to give to doing good. I've visits
to make, and shopping to do, and embroidery to finish, how can I help
the poor when I'm so pressed for time?" I am apt to say mentally, "How
different it would be with her, if she had ever said to herself, 'With a
Yes, with a will we can do almost anything that ought to be done; and
without a will we can do nothing as it should be done. To all of us,
whatever our station, there come difficulties and trials. If we yield to
them, we are beaten down and conquered.
But if we, ourselves, conquer the temptation to do wrong, calling the
strength of God to aid us in our struggle with the enemy, we shall grow
stronger and more valiant with every battle, and less liable to fall
again into temptation. Our wisdom and our duty are to rouse
ourselves,—to speak to our own hearts as the child did in his simple
words, "With a will, Joe."