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 rum.

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 his father.

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.

[Illustration: "<i>Isaac remonstrated with the boys</i>."]

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 pitying."

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."

[Illustration: "<i>Jim was at the door, but he did not look up or say anything</i>."]

"Have you! I'm glad of it. When was it?"

"Yesterday."

"At election?"

"Yes."

[Illustration: "<i>The cattle were very unruly</i>."]

"Anybody see you do it?"

"Yes; some of the boys."

"Found it easy enough, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"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 school.

"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 conquer them.