Taking Him in Hand
Two boys met in the street and the following conversation ensued:—
"Isaac," said George, "why don't you take that fellow in hand? he has
insulted you almost every day for a week."
"I mean to take him in hand," said Isaac.
"I would make him stop, if I had to take his ears off."
"I mean to make him stop."
"Go and flog him now. I should like to see you do it. You can do it
easily enough with one hand."
"I rather think I could; but I'll not try it to-day."
At this point in the conversation the school-boys parted, as they were
on their way home, and their roads led them in different directions.
The boy alluded to was the son of an intemperate man, who was angry with
Isaac's father, in consequence of some effort to prevent his obtaining
The drunkard's son took up the cause of his father, and called Isaac
hard names every time he saw him pass; and as he did not do anything by
way of retaliation, he went farther and threw stones at him.
Isaac was at first provoked at the boy's conduct. He thought he ought to
be thankful that his father was prevented, in some degree, from
procuring rum, the source of so much misery to himself and family.
But when he thought of the way in which he had been brought up, and of
the poor lad's ignorance and wretchedness, he pitied him and ceased to
wonder, or to be offended at his conduct.
But Isaac resolved, indeed, to "take him in hand," and to "stop him,"
but not in the sense in which his schoolfellow understood those terms.
The boy's name was James, but he was never called anything but Jim.
Indeed, if you were to call him by his true name, he would think you
meant somebody else.
The first opportunity Isaac had of "taking him in hand" was on election
day. On that day as Isaac was on his way home, he saw a group of boys a
little off the road, and heard some shouting and laughing.
Curiosity led him to the spot. He found that the boys were gathered
around Jim, and another boy, a good deal larger than he was. This boy
was making fun of Jim's clothes, which were indeed very ragged and
dirty, and telling how he must act to become as distinguished a man as
Jim was very angry, but when he attempted to strike his persecutor, he
would take hold of Jim's hands, and he was so much stronger that he
could easily hold them.
Jim then tried kicking, but as he was barefoot, he could not do much
execution in that line; besides, while he was using one foot in this
way, his tormentor would tread upon the other with his heavy boot.
When Isaac came up and saw what was going on, he remonstrated with the
boys for countenancing such proceedings; and such was his influence, and
the force of truth, that most of them agreed that it was "too bad;"
though he was such an "ugly boy," they said, "that he was hardly worth
The principal actor, however, did not like Isaac's interference; but he
soon saw that Isaac was not afraid of him, and that he was too popular
with the boys to be made the object of abuse. As he turned to go away,
Isaac said to Jim:—
"I'll keep my eyes upon you, and when you go home, I'll go with you. It
is on my way; they shan't hurt you; so don't cry any more. Come Jim, go
home with me; I'm going now," continued Isaac.
Jim did not look up or make any answer. He did not know what to make of
Isaac's behavior toward him. It could not be because he was afraid of
him, and wished to gain his good will, for Isaac was not afraid of one
much stronger than he. He had never heard of the command, "Love your
enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you," for
he had never been to Sabbath school, and could not read the Bible.
He followed silently and sullenly, pretty near to Isaac, till he had
reached home, if that sacred name can with propriety be applied to such
a wretched abode of sin and misery.
He parted from Isaac without thanking him for his good offices in his
behalf. This Isaac did not wonder at, considering the influences under
which the poor lad had grown up. That he parted with him without abusing
him, Isaac considered as something gained.
The next morning George and Isaac met on their way to school. As they
passed the drunkard's dwelling, Jim was at the door, but he did not look
up or say anything as they passed. He looked very much as though he had
been whipped. George did not know what had taken place the day before.
"What keeps Jim so still?" said he.
"Oh, I've had him in hand."
"Have you! I'm glad of it. When was it?"
"Anybody see you do it?"
"Yes; some of the boys."
"Found it easy enough, didn't you?"
"Did you give him enough to stop him?"
"I guess so; he is pretty still this morning, you see."
Upon the strength of this conversation, George circulated a report that
Isaac had flogged Jim. This created a good deal of surprise, as it was
not in keeping with Isaac's character. The report at length reached the
ears of the teacher.
He inquired about the matter, of Isaac, and learned that George had been
deceived, or rather had deceived himself. He warmly commended Isaac for
his new mode of taking his enemies "in hand," and advised him to
continue to practice it. A few days afterward, as Isaac was on his way
to school, he met Jim driving some cattle to a distant field. The cattle
were very unruly, and Jim made little headway with them. First one would
run back, and then another, till he began to despair of being able to
drive them to pasture.
He burst out crying, and said, "Oh dear, I can't make them go, and
father will kill me if I don't."
Isaac pitied his distress, and volunteered to assist him. It cost him a
good deal of running, and kept him from school nearly all the morning.
But when the cattle were safe in the pasture, Jim said, "I shan't stone
you any more."
When Isaac reached the schoolhouse he showed signs of the violent
exercise he had been taking.
"What has Isaac been about?" was the whispered question which went
round. When put to him he replied, "I have been chasing cattle to
pasture." He was understood to mean his father's cattle.
After school, he waited till all the pupils had left the schoolroom,
before he went up to the teacher to give his excuse for being late at
"What made you so late?" asked the teacher.
"I was taking Jim in hand again, sir;" and he gave him an account of his
proceeding, adding at the close, "I thought you would excuse me, sir."
"Very well, you are excused."
Reader, if you have enemies who annoy you, take them in hand in the
same way that Isaac did, and you will be certain, if you persevere to