The Two Clerks
Boys are apt to think that their parents and teachers are too strict;
that they ought not to be obliged to get such perfect lessons, or to go
to Sabbath school, to be so punctual and so particular. They wonder why
they are not allowed a great many amusements and indulgences which they
would like so much.
"What's the use?" they often discontentedly ask.
Well, boys, there is a great deal of use in being brought up right;
and the discipline which sometimes seems to you so hard, is precisely
what your parents see that you need in order to make you worth anything.
I will tell you an incident, to illustrate it, which has just come to my
William was the oldest child of a widowed mother, and she looked upon
him, under God, as her future staff and support. He was trained to
industrious habits, and in the fear of God. The day-school and Sabbath
school seldom saw his seat vacant. Idleness, that rust which eats into
character, had no opportunity to fasten upon him.
By and by he got through school and succeeded in securing a situation
in a store in the city.
William soon found himself in quite altered circumstances; the stir and
bustle of the streets was very unlike the quiet of his village home;
then the tall stores, loft upon loft, piled with goods—boxes and bales
now, instead of books and bat; the strange faces of the clerks, and the
easy manners and handsome appearance of the rich boy, Ashton, just above
him in the store,—all these contributed not a little to his sense of
the newness and strangeness of his position.
William looked at Ashton almost with admiration, and thought how new and
awkward everything was to himself, and how tired he got standing so many
hours on duty, and crowding his way through the busy thoroughfares. But
his good habits soon made him many friends. The older clerks liked his
obliging and active spirit, and all had a good word for his punctuality.
But William had his trials. One morning he was sent to the bank for
money; and returning, laid the pile on the counting room desk. His
master was gone, and there was no one in the room but Ashton. Mr. Thomas
soon came back.
"Two dollars are missing," said he, counting the money.
The blood mounted to poor William's face, but he answered firmly:—
"I laid it all on your desk, sir."
Mr. Thomas looked steadily into the boy's face, and seeing nothing but
an honest purpose there, said, "Another time put the money into my
hands, my boy."
When the busy season came on, one of the head clerks was taken sick, and
William rendered himself useful to the bookkeeper by helping him add
some of his tall columns. Oh, how glad he was now for his drilling in
arithmetic, as the bookkeeper thanked him for his valuable help.
Ashton often asked William to go and ride, or to visit the oyster
saloons, or the bowling alley, or the theatre. To all invitations of
this kind, William had but one answer. He always said he had no time, or
money to spare for such things. After the day's work was done, he loved
to get back to his chamber to read. He did not crave perpetual
excitement, or any more eating and drinking than was supplied at his
Not so with Ashton. This young man had indulgent parents, and a plenty
of money, or it seemed so to William; and yet he ate it, or drank it, or
spent it in other things, as fast and so soon that he was often
borrowing from the other clerks.
Ashton joked William upon his "stiff notions," but the truth was that
William was far the happier of the two.
At last a half bale of goods was missing; searching inquiries were made,
and the theft was traced to Ashton. O the shame and disgrace of the
discovery! but alas, it was not his first theft. Ashton had been in the
habit of stealing little sums in order to get the means to gratify his
taste for pleasure; and now that his guilt had come to light, he ran
off, and before his parents were aware of it, fled to a far country, an
outcast from his beautiful home, from his afflicted friends, and from
all the comforts and blessings of a virtuous life.
William is rapidly rising in the confidence and respect of his
employers, fearing God, and faithful in duty.