Tiger and Tom
Other Stories for Boys
"WORDS FITLY SPOKEN"
Every Story Contains an Important Lesson
The stories in this book were compiled from a four volume set titled,
Sabbath Readings. The stories were originally gathered from church papers
in the 1870's, Methodists, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. We bring to you
this 1910 reproduction, which is when the stories were first
illustrated. We have found the stories to be truly "a breath of fresh
air" in literature for children and youth. May they receive a warm
welcome in your home is our prayer.
Tiger and Tom
Coals of Fire
Lyman Dean's Testimonials
The Boy and His Spare Moments
Only This Once
The Right Decision
The Use of Learning
Jamie and His Teacher
With a Will, Joe!
Effects of Disobedience
Stand By the Ship
A Faithful Shepherd Boy
Dick Harris; or the Boy-Man
The Way of Safety
A Morning Thought
The Two Clerks
Ten Minutes' Delay
Where the Gold Is
Taking Him in Hand
The Best Fun
Waiting for the Grist
A Boy's Lesson in Dishonesty
A Picture of God
If You Are Only Honest
Six Things Behind
The Old Brown Hand
TIGER AND TOM
The day was pleasant, in that particularly pleasant part of summer time,
which the boys call "vacation," when Tiger and Tom walked slowly down
the street together.
You may think it strange that I mention Tiger first, but I assure you,
Tom would not have been in the least offended by the preference. Indeed,
he would have told you that Tiger was a most wonderful dog, and knew as
much as any two boys, though this might be called extravagant.
Nearly a year ago, on Tom's birthday, Tiger arrived as a present from
Tom's uncle, and as the dog leaped with a dignified bound from the wagon
in which he made his journey, Tom looked for a moment into his great,
wise eyes, and impulsively threw his arms around his shaggy neck.
Tiger was pleased with Tom's bright face, and affectionately licked his
smooth cheeks. So the league of friendship was complete in an hour.
Tom had a pleasant, round face, and you might live with him a week, and
think him one of the noblest, most generous boys you ever knew. But some
day you would probably discover that he had a most violent temper.
You would be frightened to see his face crimson with rage, as he stamped
his feet, shook his little sister, spoke improperly to his mother, and
above all, displeased his great Father in heaven.
Now I am going to tell you of something which happened to Tom, on this
account, which he never forgot to the end of his life.
Tiger and Tom were walking down the street together one pleasant day,
when they met Dick Casey, a schoolfellow of Tom's.
"O Dick!" cried Tom, "I'm going to father's grain store a little while.
Let's go up in the loft and play."
Dick had just finished his work in his mother's garden, and was ready
for a little amusement. So the two went up in the loft together, and
enjoyed themselves for a long time.
But at last one of those trifling disputes arose, in which little boys
are so apt to indulge. Pretty soon there were angry words, then (Oh, how
sorry I am to say it!) Tom's wicked passions got the mastery of him, and
he beat little Dick severely.
Tiger, who must have been ashamed of his master, pulled hard at his
coat, and whined piteously, but all in vain. At last Tom stopped, from
"There, now!" he cried, "which is right, you or I?"
"I am," sobbed Dick, "and you tell a lie."
Tom's face became crimson, and darting upon Dick, he gave him a sudden
push. Alas! he was near to the open door. Dick screamed, threw up his
arms, and in a moment was gone.
Tom's heart stood still, and an icy chill crept over him from head to
foot. At first he could not stir; then—he never knew how he got there,
but he found himself standing beside his little friend. Some men were
raising him carefully from the hard sidewalk.
"Is he dead?" almost screamed Tom.
"No," replied one, "we hope not. How did he fall out?"
"He didn't fall," groaned Tom, who never could be so mean as to tell a
lie, "I pushed him out."
"You pushed him, you wicked boy," cried a rough voice. "Do you know
you ought to be sent to jail, and if he dies, maybe you'll be hung."
Tom grew as white as Dick, whom he had followed into the store, and he
heard all that passed as if in a dream.
"Is he badly hurt?" cried some one.
"Only his hands," was the answer. "The rope saved him, he caught hold of
the rope and slipped down; but his hands are dreadfully torn—he has
fainted from pain."
Just then Tom's father came in, and soon understood the case. The look
he gave his unhappy son, so full of sorrow, not unmingled with pity, was
too much for Tom, and he stole out followed by the faithful Tiger.
He wandered to the woods, and threw himself upon the ground. One hour
ago he was a happy boy, and now what a terrible change! What had made
the difference?—Nothing but the indulgence of this wicked, violent
His mother had often warned him of the fearful consequences. She had
told him that little boys who would not learn to govern themselves, grew
up to be very wicked men, and often became murderers in some moment of
And now, Tom shuddered to think he was almost a murderer! Nothing but
God's great mercy in putting that rope in Dick's way, had saved him
from carrying that load of sorrow and guilt all the rest of his life.
But poor Dick might die yet—how pale he looked—how strange! Tom fell
upon his knees, and prayed God to spare Dick's life, and from that time
forth, with God's help, he promised that he would strive to conquer his
Then, as he could no longer bear his terrible suspense, he started for
Widow Casey's cottage. As he appeared at the humble door, Mrs. Casey
angrily ordered him away, saying, "You have made a poor woman trouble
enough for one day." But Dick's feeble voice entreated, "O mother, let
him come in; I was just as bad as he."
Tom gave a cry of joy at hearing these welcome tones, and sprang hastily
in. There sat poor Dick, with his hands bound up, looking very pale, but
Tom thanked God that he was alive.
"I should like to know how I am to live now," sighed Mrs. Casey. "Who
will weed the garden, and carry my vegetables to market? I am afraid we
shall suffer for bread before the summer is over," and she put her apron
to her eyes.
"Mrs. Casey," cried Tom, eagerly, "I will do everything that Dick did. I
will sell the cabbages, potatoes, and beans, and will drive Mr. Brown's
cows to pasture."
Mrs. Casey shook her head incredulously; but Tom bravely kept his word.
For the next few weeks Tom was at his post bright and early, and the
garden was never kept in better order. Every morning Tiger and Tom
stood faithfully in the market place with their baskets, and never gave
up, no matter how warm the day, till the last vegetable was sold, and
the money placed faithfully in Mrs. Casey's hand.
Tom's father often passed through the market, and gave his little son an
encouraging smile, but he did not offer to help him out of his
difficulty, for he knew if Tom struggled on alone, it would be a lesson
he would never forget. Already he was becoming so gentle and patient
that every one noticed the change, and his mother rejoiced over the
sweet fruits of his repentance and self-sacrifice.
After a few weeks, the bandages were removed from Dick's hands, but they
had been unskillfully treated, and were drawn up in very strange shapes.
Mrs. Casey could not conceal her grief. "He will never be the help he
was before," she said to Tom, "he will never be like other boys, and he
wrote such a fine hand; now he can no more make a letter than that
little chicken in the garden."
"If we only had a great city doctor," said a neighbor, "he might have
been all right. Even now his fingers might be helped if you should take
him to New York."
"Oh, I am too poor, too poor" said she, and burst into tears.
Tom could not bear it, and again rushed into the woods to think what
could be done, for he had already given them all his quarter's
allowance. All at once a thought flashed into his head, and he started
as if he had been shot. Then he cried in great distress:—
"No, no, anything but that, I can't do that!"
Tiger gently licked his hands, and watched him with great concern.
Now came a terrible struggle. Tom paced back and forth, and although he
was a proud boy, he sobbed aloud. Tiger whined, licked Tom's face,
rushed off into dark corners, and barked savagely at some imaginary
enemy, and then came back, and putting his paws on his young master's
knees, wagged his tail in anxious sympathy.
At last Tom took his hands from his pale, tear stained face, and looking
into the dog's great, honest eyes, he cried with a queer shake in his
"Tiger, old fellow! dear old dog, could you ever forgive me if I sold
Then came another burst of sorrow, and Tom rose hastily, as if afraid to
trust himself, and almost ran out of the woods. Over the fields he
raced, with Tiger close at his heels, nor rested a moment till he stood
at Major White's door, nearly two miles away.
"Do you still want Tiger, sir?"
"Why yes," said the old man in great surprise, "but it can't be
possible that you want to sell him, do you, my boy?" and the kind old
gentleman gave Tom a quick, questioning glance.
"Yes, please," gasped Tom, not daring to look at his old companion.
The exchange was quickly made, and the ten dollars in Tom's hand. Tiger
was beguiled into a barn, the door hastily shut, and Tom was hurrying
off, when he turned and cried in a choking voice:—
"You will be kind to him, Major White, won't you? Don't whip him, I
never did, and he's the best dog—"
"No, no, child," said Major White, kindly; "I'll treat him like a
prince, and if you ever want to buy him back, you shall have him."
Tom managed to falter "Thank you," and almost flew out of hearing of
Tiger's eager scratching on the barn door.
I am making my story too long, and can only tell you in a few words that
Tom's sacrifice was accepted. A friend took little Dick to the city free
of expense, and Tom's money paid for the necessary operation.
The poor, crooked fingers were very much improved, and were soon almost
as good as ever. And the whole village loved Tom for his brave,
self-sacrificing spirit, and the noble atonement he had made for his
moment of passion.
A few days after Dick's return came Tom's birthday, but he did not feel
in his usual spirits. In spite of his delight in Dick's recovery, he had
so mourned over the matter, and had taken Tiger's loss so much to heart,
that he had grown quite pale and thin. So as he was allowed to spend the
day as he pleased, he took his books and went to his favorite haunt in
the woods. He lay down under the shade of a wide-spreading maple, and
buried his face in his hands:—
"How different from my last birthday," thought Tom. "Then Tiger had just
come, and I was so happy, though I didn't like him half as well as I do
Tom sighed heavily; then added more cheerfully, "Well, I hope some
things are better than they were last year. I hope I have begun to
conquer myself, and with God's help I will never give up trying while I
live. But O how much sorrow and misery I have made for myself as well as
for others, by only once giving way to my wicked, foolish temper. And
not only that, but," added Tom, with a sigh, "I can never forget that I
might have been a murderer, had it not been for the mercy of God. Now if
I could only earn money enough to buy back dear old Tiger."
While Tom was busied with these thoughts, he heard a hasty, familiar
trot, a quick bark of joy, and the brave old dog sprang into Tom's arms.
"Tiger, old fellow," cried Tom, trying to look fierce, though he could
scarcely keep down the tears, "how came you to run away, sir?"
Tiger responded by picking up a letter he had dropped in his first joy,
and laying it in Tom's hand:—
"MY DEAR CHILD: Tiger is pining, and I must give him a change of air. I
wish him to have a good master, and knowing that the best ones are those
who have learned to govern themselves, I send him to you. Will you
take care of him and oblige
Your old friend, MAJOR WHITE."
Tom then read through a mist of tears—
"P.S. I know the whole story. Dear young friend, be not weary in well
"What are those scars?" questioned Mary Lanman of her father as she sat
in his lap, holding his hand in her own little ones.
"Those scars, my dear? If I were to tell you the history of them, it
would make a long story."
"But do tell me, papa," said Mary, "I should like to hear a long story."
"These scars, my child, are more than forty years old. For forty years
they have every day reminded me of my disobedience to my parents and my
violation of the law of God."
"Do tell me all about it, father," pleaded Mary.
"When I was about twelve years old," he began, "my father sent me one
pleasant autumn day into the woods to cut a pole to be used in beating
apples off the trees. It was wanted immediately to fill the place of one
that had been broken.
"I took my little hatchet and hastened to the woods as I had been bidden.
I looked in every direction for a tall, slender tree that would answer
the purpose; and every time I stopped to examine a young tree, a taller
and straighter sapling caught my eye farther on.
"What seemed most surprising to me was that the little trees that looked
so trim and upright in the distance, grew deformed and crooked as I
approached them. Frequently disappointed, I was led from tree to tree,
till I had traversed the entire grove and made no choice.
"My path opened into a clearing, and near the fence stood a young cherry
tree loaded with fruit. Here was a strong temptation. I knew very well
to whom this tree belonged, and that it bore valuable fruit. I knew,
too, that I had no right to touch a single cherry. No house was near, no
person was in sight. None but God could see me, and I forgot that His
eye looked down upon me.
"I resolved to taste the tempting fruit. I climbed the tree and began to
pick the rich, ripe cherries. But I found no pleasure in the taste of
them; I was so fearful of surprise and detection. Some one might come
and find me in the tree. I therefore resolved to break off some
richly-loaded boughs, and feast upon the cherries as I hastened home.
"The top of the tree was bowed with the weight of its fruit. I climbed
as high as I could, and bending down the top, attempted to cut it off
with my knife. In my eagerness to secure my prize, I did not guard my
left hand, which held down the top of the tree. My knife slipped from
the yielding wood to my fingers, and passed with unspent force across
all the fingers of my left hand, cutting the flesh to the bone.
"I never could look at fresh blood without fainting. My eye caught sight
of the red drops that oozed from every finger, and my heart began to die
within me. I slipped through the limbs of the tree to the ground. The
shock of the fall drove away the faintness, and I soon stood upon my
"I wrapped my handkerchief about my bleeding fingers, and hurried home.
My mission was worse than useless; I had not accomplished the purpose
for which I was sent, I had committed a crime and disabled myself for
work; for how could I pick apples in my present condition.
"I found no sympathy from anybody; my father reproved me, and threatened
chastisement when my wounds were healed. My mother, who dressed my
aching fingers, looked very sorrowfully upon me, and I knew that I had
grieved her deeply by my disobedience.
"I assisted in picking the apples, but I was compelled to work with one
hand, while the other hung in a sling. That was a sad day for me.
"It required some weeks to heal the deep gashes made by my knife, and
the scars are as bright, after forty years, as they were when the wounds
were first closed.
"But if the scars in the flesh were all, it would have been
comparatively a trifle. But the soul was wounded as well as the body.
The conscience was defiled with guilt. Tears of repentance could not
wipe away the stain. Nothing but the blood of Christ could give health
to the wounded spirit.
"As wounds leave scars, so, my dear child, youthful sins leave the
traces of their existence. Like the scars of the healed wound, they
disfigure and weaken the soul. The follies of youth may be overcome, but
they are always sure to leave their mark. Every sin of childhood hangs
like a weight upon the neck of manhood. The blood of Jesus Christ alone
cleanseth from all sin."
COALS OF FIRE
Guy Morgan came in from school with rapid step and impetuous manner. His
mother looked up from her work. There was a round, red spot on his
cheek, and an ominous glitter in his eyes. She knew the signs. His
naturally fierce temper had been stirred in some way to a heat that had
kindled his whole nature. He tossed down his cap, threw himself on an
ottoman at her feet, and then said, with still a little of the heat of
his temper in his tone, "Never say, after this, that I don't love you,
"I think I never did say so," she answered gently, as she passed her
hand over the tawny locks, and brushed them away from the flushed brow.
"But what special thing have you done to prove your love for me just
"Taken a blow without returning it." She bent over and kissed her boy.
He was fifteen years old, a tall fellow with strong muscles; but he had
not grown above liking his mother's kisses.
Then she said softly, "Tell me all about it, Guy."
"O, it was Dick Osgood! You know what a mean fellow he is, anyhow. He
had been tormenting some of the younger boys till I could not stand it.
Every one of them is afraid of him.
"I told him he ought to be ashamed of himself, and tried to make him
leave off, till, after a while, he turned from them, and coming to me,
he struck me in the face. I believe the mark is there now;" and he
turned the other cheek toward his mother. Her heart was filled with
sympathy and secret indignation.
"Well," she said, "and you—what did you do?"
"I remembered what I had promised you for this year, and I took
it—think of it, mother—took it, and never touched him! I just looked
into his eyes, and said, 'If I should strike you back, I should lower
myself to your level.'
"He laughed a great, scornful laugh, and said, 'You hear, boys, Morgan's
turned preacher. You'd better wait, sir, before you lecture me on my
behavior to the little ones, till you have pluck enough to defend them.
I've heard about the last impudence I shall from a coward like you.'
"The boys laughed, and some of them said, 'Good for you, Osgood!' and I
came home. I had done it for the sake of my promise to you! for I'm
stronger than he is, any day; and you know, mother, whether there's a
drop of coward's blood in my veins. I thought you were the one to
comfort me; though it isn't comfort I want so much, either. I just want
you to release me from that promise, and let me go back and thrash him."
Mrs. Morgan's heart thrilled with silent thanksgiving. Her boy's temper
had been her greatest grief. His father was dead, and she had brought
him up alone, and sometimes she was afraid her too great tenderness had
She had tried in vain to curb his passionate nature. It was a power
which no bands could bind. She had concluded at last that the only hope
was in enlisting his own powerful will, and making him resolve to
conquer himself. Now he had shown himself capable of self-control. In
the midst of his anger he had remembered his pledge to her, and had kept
it. He would yet be his own master,—this brave boy of hers,—and the
kingdom of his own mind would be a goodly sovereignty.
"Better heap coals of fire on his head!" she said quietly.
"Yes, he deserves a good scorching,"—pretending to misunderstand
her,—"but I should not have thought you would be so revengeful."
"You know well enough what kind of coals I mean, and who it was that
said, 'If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.'
I can not release you from your promise till the year for which you made
it is over.
"I think that the Master who told us to render good for evil, understood
all the wants and passions of humanity better than any other teacher has
ever understood them. I am sure that what He said must be wise and right
and best. I want you to try His way first. If that fails, there will be
time enough after this year to make a different experiment."
"Well, I promised you," he said, "and I'll show you that, at least, I'm
strong enough to keep my word until you release me from it. I think,
though, you don't quite know how hard it is."
Mrs. Morgan knew that it was very hard for a true, brave-hearted boy to
be called a coward; but she knew, also, that the truest bravery on earth
is the bravery of endurance.
"Look out for the coals of fire!" she said smilingly, as her boy started
for school the next morning. "Keep a good watch, and I'm pretty sure
you'll find them before the summer is over."
But he came home at night depressed and a little gloomy. There had
always been a sort of rivalry between him and Dick Osgood, and now the
boys seemed to have gone over to the stronger side, and he had that
bitter feeling of humiliation and disgrace, which is as bitter to a boy
as the sense of defeat ever is to a man.
The weeks went on, and the feeling wore away a little. Still the memory
of that blow rankled in Guy's mind, and made him unsocial and ill at
ease. His mother watched him with some anxiety, but did not interfere.
She had the true wisdom to leave him to learn some of the lessons of
At length came the last day of school, followed next day by a picnic, in
which all the scholars, superintended by their teachers, were to join.
Guy Morgan hesitated a little and then concluded to go. The place
selected was a lovely spot, known in all the neighborhood as "the old
mill." It was on the banks of the Quassit River, where the stream ran
fast, and the grass was green, and great trees with drooping boughs shut
away the July sunlight.
Among the rest were Dick Osgood and his little sister Hetty, the one
human being whom he seemed really and tenderly to love. The teacher's
eyes were on him for this one day, and he did not venture to insult the
older scholars or domineer over the little ones. He and Guy kept apart
as much as they conveniently could; and Guy entered into the spirit of
the day, and really enjoyed it much better than he had anticipated.
Dinner was spread on the grass, and though it was eaten with pewter
spoons, and out of crockery of every hue and kind, it was certainly
eaten with greater enjoyment and keener appetite than if it had been
served in the finest dining room.
They made dinner last as long as they could, and then they scattered
here and there, to enjoy themselves as they liked.
On the bridge, just above the falls, stood a little group, fishing.
Among them were Dick Osgood and his sister. Guy Morgan, always deeply
interested in the study of botany, was a little distance away, with one
of the teachers, pulling in pieces a curious flower.
Suddenly a wild cry arose above the sultry stillness of the summer
afternoon and the hum of quiet voices round. It was Dick Osgood's cry:
"She's in, boys! Hetty's in the river, and I can't swim. O, save her!
save her! Will no one try?"
Before the words were out of his lips, they all saw Guy Morgan coming
with flying feet,—a race for life. He unbuttoned coat and vest as he
ran, and cast them off as he neared the bridge. He kicked off his shoes,
and threw himself over.
They heard him strike the water. He went under, rose again, and then
struck out toward the golden head, which just then rose for the second
time. Every one who stood there lived moments which seemed hours.
Mr. Sharp, the teacher with whom Guy had been talking, and some of the
boys, got a strong rope, and running down the stream, threw it out on
the water just above the falls, where Guy could reach it if he could get
so near the shore—if!
The water was very deep where Hetty had fallen in, and the river ran
fast. It was sweeping the poor child on, and Dick Osgood threw himself
upon the bridge, and sobbed and screamed. When she rose the third time,
she was near the falls. A moment more and she would go over, down on
the jagged, cruel rocks beneath.
But that time Guy Morgan caught her—caught her by her long, glistening,
golden hair. Mr. Sharp shouted to him. He saw the rope, and swam toward
it, his strong right arm beating the water back with hammer-strokes—his
left motionless, holding his white burden.
"O God!" Mr. Sharp prayed fervently, "keep him up, spare his strength a
little longer, a little longer!" A moment more and he reached the rope
and clung to it desperately, while teacher and boys drew the two in over
the slippery edge, out of the horrible, seething waters, and took them
in their arms. But they were both silent and motionless. Mr. Sharp spoke
Guy's name, but he did not answer. Would either of them ever answer
Teachers and scholars went to work alike for their restoration. It was
well that there was intelligent guidance, or their best efforts might
Guy, being the stronger, was first to revive. "Is Hetty safe?" he asked.
"Only God knows?" Mr. Sharp answered. "We are doing our best."
It was almost half an hour before Hetty opened her blue eyes. Meantime
Dick had been utterly frantic and helpless. He had sobbed and groaned
and even prayed, in a wild fashion of his own, which perhaps the pitying
Father understood and answered.
When he heard his sister's voice, he was like one beside himself with
joy; but Mr. Sharp quieted him by a few low, firm words, which no one
Some of the larger girls arranged one of the wagons, and received Hetty
Mr. Sharp drove home with Guy Morgan. When he reached his mother's gate,
Guy insisted on going in alone. He thought it might alarm her to see
some one helping him; besides, he wanted her a few minutes quite to
himself. So Mr. Sharp drove away, and Guy went in. His mother saw him
coming, and opened the door.
"Where have you been?" she cried, seeing his wet, disordered plight.
"In Quassit River, mother, fishing out Hetty Osgood."
Then, while she was busying herself with preparations for his comfort,
he quietly told his story. His mother's eyes were dim, and her heart
"O, if you had been drowned, my boy, my darling!" she cried, hugging
him close, wet as he was. "If I had been there, Guy, I couldn't have let
you do it."
"I went in after the coals of fire, mother."
Mrs. Morgan knew how to laugh as well as to cry over her boy. "I've
heard of people smart enough to set the river on fire," she said, "but
you are the first one I ever knew who went in there after the coals."
The next morning came a delegation of the boys, with Dick Osgood at
their head. Every one was there who had seen the blow which Dick struck,
and heard his taunts afterward. They came into the sitting room, and
said their say to Guy before his mother. Dick was spokesman.
"I have come," he said, "to ask you to forgive me. I struck you a mean,
unjustifiable blow. You received it with noble contempt. To provoke you
into fighting, I called you a coward, meaning to bring you down by some
means to my own level. You bore that, too, with a greatness I was not
great enough to understand; but I do understand it now.
"I have seen you—all we boys have seen you—face to face with Death,
and have seen that you were not afraid of him. You fought with him, and
came off ahead; and we all are come to do honor to the bravest boy in
town; and I to thank you for a life a great deal dearer and better worth
saving than my own."
Dick broke down just there, for the tears choked him.
Guy was as grand in his forgiveness as he had been in his forbearance.
Hetty and her father and mother came afterward, and Guy found himself a
hero before he knew it. But none of it all moved him as did his mother's
few fond words, and the pride in her joyful eyes. He had kept, with
honor and with peace, his pledge to her, and he had his reward. The
Master's way of peace had not missed him.
LYMAN DEAN'S TESTIMONIALS
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."
At noon on a dreary November day, a lonesome little fellow stood at the
door of a cheap eating house, in Boston, and offered a solitary copy of
a morning paper for sale to the people passing.
But there were really not many people passing, for it was Thanksgiving
day, and the shops were shut, and everybody who had a home to go to, and
a dinner to eat, seemed to have gone home to
Bert Hampton, the newsboy, stood trying in vain to sell the last Extra
left on his hands by the dull business of the morning.
An old man, with a face that looked pinched, and who was dressed in a
seedy black coat, stopped at the same doorway, and, with one hand on the
latch, he appeared to hesitate between hunger and a sense of poverty,
before going in.
It was possible, however, that he was considering whether he could
afford himself the indulgence of a morning paper, seeing it was
Thanksgiving day; so at least Bert thought, and addressed him
"Buy a paper, sir? All about the fire in East Boston, and arrest of
safe-burglars in Springfield. Only two cents."
The little old man looked at the boy, with keen gray eyes which seemed
to light up the pinched look of his face, and answered in a shrill
"You ought to come down in your price, this time of day. You can't
expect to sell a morning paper at 12 o'clock for full price."
"Well, give me a cent, then," said Bert. "That's less than cost; but
never mind. I'm bound to sell out, anyhow."
"You look cold," said the old man.
"Cold," replied Bert, "I'm nearly froze. And I want my dinner. And I'm
going to have a big dinner, too, seeing it's Thanksgiving day."
"Ah! lucky for you, my boy!" said the old man. "You've a home to go to,
and friends, too I hope."
"No, sir; no home, and no friend—only my mother." Bert hesitated and
grew serious, then suddenly changed his tone—"and Hop Houghton. I told
him to meet me here, and we'd have a first-rate Thanksgiving dinner
together, for it's no fun to be eating alone Thanksgiving day! It sets a
fellow thinking,—if he ever had a home, and then hasn't got a home any
"It's more lonesome not to eat at all," said the old man, his gray eyes
twinkling. "And what can a boy like you have to think of? Here, I guess
I can find one cent for you—though there's nothing in the paper, I
The old man spoke with some feeling, his fingers trembled, and somehow
he dropped two cents instead of one into Bert's hand.
"Here! you've made a mistake!" cried Bert. "A bargain's a bargain.
You've given me a cent too much!"
"No, I didn't,—I never give anybody a cent too much!"
"But—see here!" And Bert showed the two cents, offering to return one.
"No matter," said the old man. "It will be so much less for my
Bert had instinctively pocketed the pennies, but his sympathies were
"Poor old man!" he thought; "he's seen better days, I guess. Perhaps
he's no home. A boy like me can stand it, but I guess it must be hard
for him. He meant to give me the odd cent, all the while; and I don't
believe he has had a decent dinner for many a day."
All this, which I have been obliged to write out slowly in words, went
through Bert's mind like a flash. He was a generous little fellow, and
any kindness shown him, no matter how trifling, made his heart overflow.
"Look here," he cried; "where are you going to get your dinner,
"I can get a bite here as well as anywhere—it don't matter much to me,"
replied the old man.
"Come; eat dinner with me," said Bert, "I'd like to have you."
"I'm afraid I couldn't afford to dine as you are going to," said the
man, with a smile, his eyes twinkling again.
"I'll pay for your dinner!" Bert exclaimed. "Come! we don't have a
Thanksgiving but once a year, and a fellow wants a good time then."
"But you are waiting for another boy."
"Oh! Hop Houghton. He won't come now, it's too late. He's gone to a
place down in North street, I guess,—a place I don't like, there's so
much tobacco smoked and so much beer drank there." Bert cast a final
glance up the street, but could see nothing of his friend.
"No, he won't come now. So much the worse for him! He likes the men down
there; I don't."
"Ah!" said the man, taking off his hat and giving it a brush with his
elbow as they entered the restaurant, as if trying to appear as
respectable as he could in the eyes of a newsboy of such fastidious
To make him feel quite comfortable in his mind on that point, Bert
hastened to say:—
"I mean rowdies, and such. Poor people, if they behave themselves, are
just as respectable to me as rich folks. I ain't at all aristocratic!"
"Ah, indeed!" And the old man smiled again, and seemed to look relieved.
"I'm very glad to hear it."
He placed his hat on the floor, and took a seat opposite Bert at a
little table which they had all to themselves. Bert offered him the bill
"I must ask you to choose for me; nothing very extravagant, you know I
am used to plain fare."
"So am I. But I'm going to have a dinner, for once in my life, and so
are you," cried Bert, generously. "What do you say to chicken soup—and
wind up with a big piece of squash pie! How's that for a Thanksgiving
"Sumptuous!" said the old man, appearing to glow with the warmth of the
room and the prospect of a good dinner. "But won't it cost you too
"Too much? No, sir!" said Bert. "Chicken soup, fifteen cents; pie—they
give tremendous big pieces here, thick, I tell you—ten cents. That's
twenty-five cents; half a dollar for two. Of course, I don't do this way
every day in the year! But mother's glad to have me, once in a while.
Here! waiter!" And Bert gave his princely order as if it were no very
great thing for a liberal young fellow like him, after all.
"Where is your mother? Why don't you take dinner with her?" the little
Bert's face grew sober in a moment.
"That's the question! Why don't I? I'll tell you why I don't. I've got
the best mother in the world! What I'm trying to do is to make a home
for her, so we can live together, and eat our Thanksgiving dinners
together, sometime. Some boys want one thing, some another; there's one
goes in for good times, another's in such a hurry to get rich, he don't
care much how he does it; but what I want most of anything is to be with
my mother and my two sisters again, and I am not ashamed to say so."
Bert's eyes grew very tender, and he went on; while his companion across
the table watched him with a very gentle, searching look.
"I haven't been with her now for two years—hardly at all since father
died. When his business was settled up,—he kept a little hosiery store
on Hanover street,—it was found he hadn't left us anything. We had
lived pretty well, up to that time, and I and my two sisters had been to
school; but then mother had to do something, and her friends got her
places to go out nursing; she's a nurse now. Everybody likes her, and
she has enough to do. We couldn't be with her, of course. She got us
boarded at a good place, but I saw how hard it was going to be for her
to support us, so I said, I'm a boy; I can do something for myself; you
just pay the board for the girls and keep them to school, and I'll go
to work, and maybe help you a little, besides taking care of myself."
"What could you do?" said the little old man.
"That's it; I was only eleven years old; and what could I do? What I
should have liked would have been some nice place where I could do light
work, and stand a chance of learning a good business. But beggars
mustn't be choosers. I couldn't find such a place; and I wasn't going to
be loafing about the streets, so I went to selling newspapers. I've sold
newspapers ever since, and I shall be twelve years old next month."
"You like it?" said the old man.
"I like to get my own living," replied Bert, proudly. "But what I want
is, to learn some trade, or regular business, and settle down and make a
home for my mother. But there's no use talking about that.
"Well I've told you about myself," added Bert; "now suppose you tell
"Yes. I think that would go pretty well with the pie."
But the man shook his head. "I could go back and tell you about many of
my plans and high hopes when I was a lad of your age; but it would be
too much like your own story over again. Life isn't what we think it
will be, when we are young. You'll find that out soon enough. I am all
alone in the world now; and I am nearly seventy years old."
"It must be so lonely, at your age! What do you do for a living?"
"I have a little place in Devonshire street. My name is Crooker. You'll
find me up two nights of stairs, back room at the right. Come and see
me, and I'll tell you all about my business and perhaps help you to such
a place as you want, for I know several business men. Now don't fail."
And Mr. Crooker wrote his address, with a little stub of a pencil, on a
corner of the newspaper which had led to their acquaintance, tore it off
carefully, and gave it to Bert.
Thereupon the latter took a card from his pocket, and handed it across
the table to his new friend.
The old man read the card, with his sharp gray eyes, which glowed up
funnily at Bert, seeming to say, "Isn't this rather aristocratic for a
Bert blushed and explained:—
"Got up for me by a printer's boy I know. I had done some favors for
him, and so he made me a few cards. Handy to have sometimes, you know."
"Well, Herbert," said the old man, "I'm glad to make your acquaintance,
and I hope you'll come and see me. You'll find me in very humble
quarters; but you are not aristocratic, you say. Now won't you let me
pay for my dinner? I believe I have money enough. Let me see." And he
put his hand in his pocket.
Bert would not hear of such a thing; but walked up to the desk, and
settled the bill with the air of a person who did not regard a trifling
When he looked around again, the little old man was gone.
"Now mind; I'll go and see him the first chance I have," said Bert, as
he looked at the penciled strip of newspaper margin again before putting
it into his pocket.
He then went round to his miserable quarters, in the top of a cheap
lodging-house, and prepared himself at once to go and see his mother. He
could not afford to ride, and it was a long walk,—at least five miles
to the place where his mother was nursing.
On the following Monday, Bert, having a leisure hour, went to call on
his new acquaintance in Devonshire street.
Having climbed the two nights, he found the door of the back room at the
right ajar, and, looking in, saw Mr. Crooker at a desk, in the act of
receiving a roll of money from a well-dressed visitor.
Bert entered unnoticed, and waited till the money was counted and a
receipt signed. Then, as the visitor departed, Mr. Crooker noticed the
lad, offered him a chair, and then turned to place the money in the
"So this is your place of business?" said Bert, glancing about the plain
office room. "What do you do here?"
"I buy real estate, sometimes—sell—rent—and so forth."
"Who for?" asked Bert.
"For myself," said the old gentleman, with a smile.
Bert started, perfectly aghast, at this situation. This, then, was the
man whom he had invited to dinner and treated so patronizingly the
"I—I—I thought—you were a poor man!"
"I am a poor man," said Mr. Crooker, locking his safe. "Money doesn't
make a man rich. I've money enough. I own houses in the city. They give
me something to think of, and so keep me alive. I had truer riches once,
but I lost them long ago."
From the way the old man's voice trembled and eyes glistened, Bert
thought he must have meant by these riches, the friends he had lost,
wife and children, perhaps.
"To think of me inviting you to dinner!" he said, abashed and ashamed.
"It was odd. But it may turn out to have been a lucky circumstance for
both of us. I like you. I believe in you, and I've an offer to make you.
I want a trusty, bright boy in this office, somebody I can bring up to
my business, and leave it with, as I get too old to attend to it myself.
What do you say?"
What could Bert say?
Again that afternoon he walked—or rather ran—to his mother; and, after
consulting with her, joyfully accepted Mr. Crooker's offer.
Interviews between his mother and his employer followed. The lonely,
childless old man, who owned so many houses, wanted a home; and one of
these houses he offered to Mrs. Hampton, with ample support for herself
and children if she would also make it a home for him.
Of course this proposition was accepted; and Bert soon had the
satisfaction of seeing the great ambition of his life accomplished. He
had employment, which promised to become a profitable business, as indeed
it did in a few years. The old man and the lad proved useful to each
other; and, more than that, he was united once more with his mother and
sisters in a happy home, where he has since had many Thanksgiving
THE BOY AND HIS SPARE MOMENTS.
A lean, awkward boy came one morning to the door of the principal of a
celebrated school, and asked to see him.
The servant eyed his mean clothes, and thinking he looked more like a
beggar than anything else, told him to go around to the kitchen.
The boy did as he was bidden, and soon appeared at the back door.
"I should like to see Mr. Brown," said he.
"You want a breakfast, more like," said the servant girl, "and I can
give you that without troubling him."
"Thank you," said the boy; "I should have no objection to a bit of
bread; but I should like to see Mr. Brown, if he can see me."
"Some old clothes, may be, you want," remarked the servant, again eyeing
the boy's patched trousers. "I guess he has none to spare; he gives away
a sight;" and without minding the boy's request, she set out some food
upon the kitchen table and went about her work.
"Can I see Mr. Brown?" again asked the boy, after finishing his meal.
"Well, he's in the library; if he must be disturbed, he must; but he
does like to be alone sometimes," said the girl, in a peevish tone. She
seemed to think it very foolish to admit such an ill-looking fellow into
her master's presence. However, she wiped her hands, and bade him
follow. Opening the library door, she said:—
"Here's somebody, sir, who is dreadfully anxious to see you, and so I
let him in."
I don't know how the boy introduced himself, or how he opened his
business, but I know that after talking awhile, the principal put aside
the volume he was studying, took up some Greek books, and began to
examine the new-comer. The examination lasted some time. Every question
which the principal asked, the boy answered as readily as could be.
"Upon my word," exclaimed the principal, "you certainly do well!"
looking at the boy from head to foot, over his spectacles. "Why, my boy,
where did you pick up so much?"
"In my spare moments," answered the boy.
Here he was, poor, hard-working, with but few opportunities for
schooling, yet almost fitted for college, by simply improving his spare
moments. Truly, are not spare moments the "gold dust of time?" How
precious they should be! What account can you give of your spare
moments? What can you show for them? Look and see.
This boy can tell you how very much can be laid up by improving them;
and there are many other boys, I am afraid, in the jail, in the house
of correction, in the forecastle of a whale ship, in the gambling house,
or in the tippling shop, who, if you should ask them when they began
their sinful courses, might answer:—
"In my spare moments."
"In my spare moments I gambled for marbles."
"In my spare moments I began to smoke and drink."
"It was in my spare moments that I began to steal chestnuts from the old
"It was in my spare moments that I gathered with wicked associates."
Oh, be very, very careful how you spend your spare moments! Temptation
always hunts you out in small seasons like these when you are not busy;
he gets into your hearts, if he possibly can, in just such gaps. There
he hides himself, planning all sorts of mischief. Take care of your
spare moments. "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do."
Will Winslow was the worst boy in the village; his father's indulgence
had spoiled him.
"Don't check the boy," he would say to his mother, "you will crush all
the manhood in him."
And so he grew up the terror of his neighbors. The old, the infirm, and
the crippled were the especial objects of his vicious merriment.
One poor woman, bent by age and infirmities, he assailed with his
ridicule, as she daily went out upon her crutch, to draw water from the
well near her house, and just within the playground of the schoolhouse.
"Only look at her," he would say, "isn't she the letter S now, with an
extra crook in it?" and his cruel laugh, as he followed closely behind,
mocking and mimicking her, called forth from her no rebuke.
One day, however, she turned, and looking at him reproachfully, said:—
"Go home, child, and read the story of Elisha and the two bears out of
"Shame on you, Will," said Charles Mansfield, "to laugh at her
misfortunes! I heard my grandmother say that she became a cripple by
lifting her invalid son, and tending him night and day."
"I don't care what made her so," said Will, "but I wouldn't stay among
people if I was such a looking thing as that. Do look!"
"Shame!" said Charles; "shame!" echoed each of the boys present. And to
show their sympathy, several of them sprang forward to aid the poor
woman; but Charles Mansfield, the oldest, and always an example of
nobleness and generosity, was the first. "Let me get the water for you,
ma'am," and he gently took the bucket from her hand.
Her voice was tremulous and tearful, as she said, "Thank you, my dear
boy. God grant that you may never suffer from such infirmities."
"If I should," said Charles, kindly, "it would be the duty, and ought to
be the pleasure of young people to assist me. One of us will bring you
water every day, and so you need not come for it."
"Yes, so we will," was echoed from lip to lip.
"God bless you! God bless you all." She exclaimed as she wiped away the
tears and entered her poor and lonely home.
Will Winslow was reported to the master, and was sentenced to study
during the usual recess for a week to come. The punishment was hard, for
he loved play better than his book; but how slight in comparison with
the retribution which awaited him.
It was the second day of his confinement, and he sat near the open
window, watching the sports of the boys in the playground. Suddenly,
when the master was absorbed in his occupations, he leaped into the
midst of them, with a shout at his achievement.
"Now let him punish me again, if he can," and he ran backward, throwing
up his arms, and shouting in defiance, when his voice suddenly ceased;
there was a heavy plunge, and a horrible groan broke on the ears of his
Now it happened that the well, of which we have before spoken, was
undergoing repairs, and the workmen were then at a distance collecting
their materials. Carelessly the well was left uncovered, and at the very
moment of his triumph, Will Winslow was precipitated backward into the
A cry of horror burst from the assembled boys, who rushed to the spot,
and Charles Mansfield, the bravest of them all, was the first to seize
the well-rope, tie it around his waist, and descend to the rescue.
The well was deep; fortunately, however, the water at that time was
mostly exhausted, but Will lay motionless at the bottom. Carefully
Charles lifted him, and with one arm around his mutilated and apparently
lifeless form, and the other upon the rope, he gave the signal, and was
slowly drawn to the top.
The livid face of the wicked boy filled his companions with horror; and
in perfect silence they bore him to the house of the poor woman, which
was close at hand. She had witnessed the accident from the window, and
upon her crutch hastened to meet them.
And now Will Winslow was in the humble home, and upon the lowly bed of
her whom he had assailed with cruelty and scorn; and faithfully she
obeyed the commandment of Him who said:—
"Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use
you, and persecute you."
Silently her prayers ascended to God for the sufferer. Her little vials
of camphor and other restoratives, provided by charitable neighbors,
were emptied for his relief. She took from her scanty store, bandages
for his head, which was shockingly mangled and bleeding; and she
herself, forgetful of all but his sufferings, sat down and tenderly
bathed his hands and his forehead, while some of the boys ran for the
surgeon, and others for the master.
The injury to the head was supposed to be the only one he had sustained;
and after the surgeon had done his work, the poor boy was borne away on
a litter to his home, still insensible, and surrounded by his
companions, mute with emotion. That day was destined to make an
impression upon the school, its master, and all that heard of the awful
A few hours later and a group of boys collected in the playground. Their
conversation was in whispers; horror sat upon every face; all were pale
and awe stricken. Charles Mansfield approached.
"How is poor Will now, have you heard?"
"Oh, Charlie!" several exclaimed at once as they gathered around him.
"Oh! don't you know? haven't you heard? Why, he opened his eyes and
spoke, but they think his back is broken."
Charles clasped his hands, lifted them high in the air, uttered not a
word, but burst into tears. For a few minutes he wept in silence, and
then, still pale and grief stricken, but with a manly voice, he said to
"Boys, shall we ever forget the lesson of this day?"
And poor Will—words would be too feeble to portray his agony of body
and mind as he lay for long months upon his bed of suffering; but when
he arose therefrom, with a feeble and distorted body, and a scar upon
his forehead, he was changed in heart also, crushed in spirit, humble,
Repentance had had its perfect work, and when he became convalescent,
and his schoolmates came to congratulate him on his recovery, he threw
his arms around the necks of each, and burst into tears, but could not
speak, except to whisper, "Forgive, forgive."
At his request the poor woman became the tenant, rent free, of a cottage
belonging to his father, and his mother constantly ministered to her
wants. As soon as he could do so, he wrote to her, humbly pleading her
forgiveness, and in return she gave him her blessing.
From this time one half of his ample quarterly allowance was given her;
he visited her in her loneliness, and at last made his peace with God,
and declared his punishment just—henceforth to be a cripple and a
Youthful readers, let the history of Will Winslow impress your hearts.
Revere the aged, whether they be in poverty or affluence; and feel it a
privilege to minister to them in their infirmities, as they have done to
you in the weakness and helplessness of infancy. It is the only
recompense which youth can make to age, and God will bless the youthful
heart which bows in reverence before the hoary head.
ONLY THIS ONCE
"I'll be in again very soon, mother; I am only going 'round the corner
to see the new billiard rooms;" and, cap in hand, Harry was closing the
parlor door when his mother called him back.
"I cannot consent to your going there, my dear," she said; "you must
know that both your father and myself disapprove of all such places."
"But I don't intend to play, mother; only to look on; the boys say the
tables are splendid; and besides, what could I tell Jim Ward after
promising to go with him? He is waiting outside for me. Please say 'yes'
only this once."
"Tell Jim that we rather you would remain at home; and ask him to walk
in and spend the evening," said Harry's father, as he looked up from the
"Oh, I know he'll not do that!" and Harry stood turning the door handle,
till, finding that his parents did not intend to say anything more, he
walked slowly to the front step.
"Why don't you hurry along," called Jim, "and not keep a fellow standing
all night in the cold?"
"I am not going. Won't you come in?" said Harry.
"Not going! Your mother surely doesn't object to your looking at a
"She would prefer I should not go," said Harry, and Jim's only reply was
a significant whistle, as he walked off.
"He'll be sure to tell all the boys!" said Harry, half aloud, as he shut
the front door with rather more force than was necessary. "I don't see
what does make father and mother so particular." Then, entering the
parlor, he took the first book that came to hand from the table, and,
taking a seat very far from the light, looked exceedingly unamiable.
His father laid aside the paper, and without seeming to notice Harry's
mood, said pleasantly, "I wonder if my son feels himself too old for a
story; if not I have one to tell him which might well be named, 'Only
This Once.'" The book was returned to the table; but Harry still kept
thinking of what the boys would say when Jim told an exaggerated story,
and his countenance remained unchanged.
"When I was about your age, Harry," began his father, "we lived next
door to Mr. Allen, a very wealthy gentleman, who had one son. As Frank
was a good-natured, merry boy, and had his two beautiful ponies, several
dogs, and a large playground, he soon made friends.
"Many an afternoon did we spend together, riding the ponies, or playing
ball on the playground, and one summer afternoon in particular, I never
expect to forget, for it seems to me now, looking back upon it, as the
turning point of Frank's life; but we little thought of such a thing at
"It was a very warm afternoon; and, becoming tired of playing ball, we
had stopped to rest on the piazza, when Frank proposed that we should
take the ponies to a plank road a few miles from the house, and race
them. I was certain that his father would disapprove of this, and,
besides, it would have been most cruel work on such a warm afternoon, so
I tried to make Frank think of something else he would like to do
instead; but all in vain.
"'I think you might go, Charlie,' he said. 'What's the harm of doing it;
only this once? I just want to see if either of my ponies is likely to
be a fast trotter.'
"For one moment I hesitated, but in the next came the thought of my
father's displeasure, and I shook my head.
"'Very well, just as you please, Mr. Good Boy! I know plenty who will be
glad of the chance to ride Jet;' and so saying he walked away.
"Frank did find a boy who was delighted to go with him, and enjoyed the
race so much that, notwithstanding his father's reprimand, he managed to
pursue the same sport more times than 'only that once.'
"As soon as the summer was ended, Mr. Allen went to Europe for his
health, and I did not see his son again for three years, till I left the
country and entered the same college with him.
"Frank began studying very earnestly; but before the first year was
ended, the earnestness had passed away. Friends would induce him to
spend his evenings at their rooms, or at some public place of amusement,
and each time Frank would try to satisfy his conscience with, 'It will
be only this once.'
"Thus by degrees, his lessons were neglected, and as study became
irksome, his love for excitement and gaiety increased, till one day I
overheard a gentleman, who knew him well, remark that he feared Frank's
'only this once' would prove his ruin.
"But a few years before, Frank would have been shocked with the thought
of spending the afternoons in racing, and evenings in billiard saloons.
He had not at first really intended to visit these places more than
'once,' 'just to see for myself;' but there are very few who ever stop
in the course of wrong doing at 'only this once.'
"At length his father died. When the sad tidings reached the son, he
seemed more thoughtful for a time; but in an hour of temptation he
yielded. Before long his old companions surrounded him again, and of
them he soon learned how to spend the large fortune left him by his
father, in a most reckless manner.
"In vain his true friends tried to check him in his wild career; and,
five years ago, Harry, my poor friend Frank died a drunkard."
"Oh, father, how dreadful!" and Harry shuddered.
"Yes, it is dreadful, my son; but there are countless untold stories as
dreadful as this one. If we were to visit a prison, and ask the wretched
inmates how it was that they were first led into crime, we should find
that 'only this once' brought most of them there. One took something
which did not belong to him, never intending to do it more than that
once; but the crime soon grew into a habit. Another was once tempted to
gamble, and only that one game was the foundation of all his crimes.
Another fully intended to stop with the first glass; but instead, became
a reckless drunkard.
"Learn, my son, to dread those three little words, and when tempted to
use them, think of all they may lead to, and ask for strength to resist
the temptation; and, Harry, do you wonder now at our refusing to allow
you to visit the billiard room even once?"
"No, father; I see now that you were right, and I was wrong in supposing
that it could not possibly do me any harm to go only this once; and if
Jim does tell the boys some silly story to make them laugh at me, I
can tell them about Frank Allen, and that will soon sober them."
My dear boys, do you flatter yourself that it is a trifling thing to do
wrong, "only this once?" If so, stop and consider, how often not only
the young but those of mature years yield to this deceptive and
alluring thought and take the first steps in a career of sin, when,
could they but see the end of the path which they are so thoughtlessly
entering, they would shudder with horror. They do not realize that sin
once indulged in hardens the heart, and that one step in the downward
path leads to the broad road.
How many parents yield to the pleadings of their children to be indulged
"this once," who find that to deny after once being indulged, costs a
greater effort than to have stood with firmness to conviction of
conscience and true principle.
THE RIGHT DECISION
It was the beginning of vacation when Mr. Davis, a friend of my father,
came to see us, and asked to let me go home with him. I was much pleased
with the thought of going out of town.
The journey was delightful, and when we reached Mr. Davis's house
everything looked as if I were going to have a fine time. Fred Davis, a
boy about my own age, took me cordially by the hand, and all the family
soon seemed like old friends.
"This is going to be a vacation worth having," I said to myself several
times during the evening, as we all played games, told riddles, and
laughed and chatted merrily.
At last Mrs. Davis said it was almost bedtime. Then I expected family
prayers, but we were very soon directed to our chambers. How strange it
seemed to me, for I had never before been in a household without the
"Come," said Fred, "mother says you and I are going to be bed fellows,"
and I followed him up two pair of stairs to a nice little chamber which
he called his room. He opened a drawer and showed me a box, and boat,
and knives, and powderhorn, and all his treasures, and told me a world
of new things about what the boys did there.
Then he undressed first and jumped into bed. I was much longer about it,
for a new set of thoughts began to rise in my mind.
When my mother put my purse into my hand, just before the train started,
she said tenderly, in a low tone, "Remember, Robert, that you are a
I knew very well what that meant, and I had now just come to a point of
time when her words were to be minded.
At home I was taught the duties of a Christian child; abroad I must not
neglect them, and one of these was evening prayer. From a very little
boy I had been in the habit of kneeling and asking the forgiveness of
God, for Jesus' sake, acknowledging His mercies, and seeking His
protection and blessing.
"Why don't you come to bed, Robert?" cried Fred. "What are you sitting
I was afraid to pray, and afraid not to pray. It seemed that I could not
kneel down and pray before Fred. What would he say? Would he not laugh?
The fear of Fred made me a coward. Yet I could not lie down on a
prayerless bed. If I needed the protection of my heavenly Father at
home, how much more abroad.
I wished many wishes; that I had slept alone, that Fred would go to
sleep, or something else, I hardly knew what. But Fred would not go to
Perhaps struggles like these take place in the bosom of every boy when
he leaves home and begins to act for himself, and on his decision may
depend his character for time, and for eternity. With me the struggle
At last, to Fred's cry, "Come, boy, come to bed," I mustered courage to
say, "I will kneel down and pray first; that is always my custom."
"Pray?" said Fred, turning himself over on his pillow and saying no
His propriety of conduct made me ashamed. Here I had long been afraid of
him, and yet when he knew my wishes, he was quiet and left me to myself.
How thankful I was that duty and conscience triumphed.
That settled my future course. It gave me strength for time to come. I
believe that the decision of the "Christian boy," by God's blessing,
made me a Christian man; for in after years I was thrown amid trials
and temptations which must have drawn me away from God and from virtue,
had it not been for my settled habit of secret prayer.
Let every boy who has pious parents, read and think about this. You have
been trained in Christian duties and principles. When you go from home,
do not leave them behind.
Carry them with you, and stand by them; then, in weakness and
temptation, by the help of God, they will stand by you.
Take your place like a man, on the side of your God and Saviour, of your
mother's God and Saviour, and of your father's God.
It is by a failure to do this, that so many boys go astray, and grow up
to be young men dishonoring their parents, without hope and without God
in the world.
Ashamed of Jesus! that dear friend,
On whom my hopes of heaven depend?
No; when I blush, be this my shame,
That I no more revere His name.
Ashamed of Jesus! yes, I may,
When I've no guilt to wash away,
No tears to wipe, no good to crave,
No fears to quell, no soul to save.
THE USE OF LEARNING
"I am tired of going to school," said Herbert Allen to William Wheeler,
the boy who sat next to him. "I don't see any great use, for my part, in
studying geometry, and navigation, and surveying, and mensuration, and
the dozen other things that I am expected to learn. They will never do
me any good. I am not going to get my living as a surveyor, or measurer,
or sea captain."
"How are you going to get your living, Herbert?" his young friend asked,
in a quiet tone, as he looked up into his face.
"Why, I am going to learn a trade; or, at least, my father says that I
"And so am I," replied William; "and yet my father wishes me to learn
everything that I can; for he says that it will all be useful some time
or other in my life."
"I'm sure I can't see what use I am ever going to make, as a saddler, of
algebra or surveying."
"Still, if we can't see it, Herbert, perhaps our fathers can, for they
are older and wiser than we are. And we ought to try to learn, simply
because they wish us to, even if we do not see clearly the use in
everything that we are expected to study."
"I can't feel so," Herbert replied, tossing his head, "and I don't
believe that my father sees any more clearly than I do the use of all
"You are wrong to talk so," protested his friend, in a serious tone. "I
would not think as you do for the world. My father knows what is best
for me, and your father knows what is best for you; and if we do not
study and improve our time, we will surely go wrong."
"I am not afraid," responded Herbert, closing the book which he had been
reluctantly studying for half an hour, in the vain effort to fix a
lesson on his unwilling memory. Then taking some marbles from his
pocket, he began to amuse himself with them, at the same time concealing
them from the teacher.
William said no more, but turned to his lesson with an earnest
attention. The difference in the character of the two boys is plainly
indicated in this brief conversation. To their teacher it was evident in
numerous particulars—in their conduct, their habits, and their manners.
William always recited his lessons correctly, while Herbert never
learned a lesson well. One was always punctual at school, the other a
loiterer by the way. William's books were well taken care of, Herbert's
were soiled, torn, disfigured, and broken.
Thus they began life. The one obedient, industrious, attentive to the
precepts of those who were older and wiser, and willing to be guided by
them; the other indolent, and inclined to follow the leadings of his own
will. Now, at the age of thirty-five, Mr. Wheeler is an intelligent
merchant, in an active business; while Mr. Allen is a journeyman
mechanic, poor, in embarrassed circumstances, and possessing but a small
share of general information.
"How do you do, my old friend?" said the merchant to the mechanic, about
this time, as the latter entered the counting room of the former. The
contrast in their appearance was very great. The merchant was well
dressed, and had a cheerful look; while the other was poorly clad, and
seemed troubled and dejected.
"I cannot say that I do very well, Mr. Wheeler," the mechanic replied,
in a tone of despondency. "Work is very dull, and wages low; and, with
so large a family as I have, it is tough enough getting along under the
"I am really sorry to hear you say so," replied the merchant, in a kind
tone. "How much can you earn now?"
"If I had steady work, I could make twelve or fifteen dollars a week.
But our business is very bad. The consequence is, that I do not average
nine dollars a week, the year round."
"How large is your family?"
"I have five children, sir."
"Five children! And only nine dollars a week!"
"That is all, sir; but nine dollars a week will not support them, and I
am, in consequence, going behindhand."
"You ought to try to get into some other business."
"But I don't know any other."
The merchant mused awhile, and then said: "Perhaps I can aid you into
getting into something better. I am president of a newly-projected
railroad, and we are about putting on the line a company of engineers,
for the purpose of surveying and locating the route. You studied
surveying and engineering at the same time I did, and I suppose have
still a correct knowledge of both; if so, I will use my influence to
have you appointed surveyor. The engineer is already chosen, and you
shall have time to revive your early knowledge of these matters. The
salary is one hundred dollars a month."
A shadow, still darker than that which had before rested there, fell
upon the face of the mechanic.
"But," he said, "I have not the slightest knowledge of surveying. It is
true I studied it, or rather pretended to study it, at school; but it
made no permanent impression on my mind. I saw no use in it then, and am
now as ignorant of surveying as if I had never taken a lesson on the
"I am sorry, my old friend," replied the merchant. "But you are a good
accountant, I suppose, and I might, perhaps, get you into a store. What
is your capacity in this respect?"
"I ought to have been a good accountant, for I studied mathematics long
enough; but I took little interest in figures, and now, although I was
for many months, while at school, pretending to study bookkeeping, I am
utterly incapable of taking charge of a set of books."
"Such being the case, Mr. Allen, I really do not know what I can do for
you. But stay; I am about sending an assorted cargo to Buenos Ayres, and
thence to Callao, and want a man to go as supercargo, who can speak the
Spanish language. The captain will direct the sales. I remember that we
studied Spanish together. Would you be willing to leave your family and
go? The wages will be one hundred dollars a month."
"I have forgotten all my Spanish, sir. I did not see the use of it while
at school, and therefore it made no impression upon my mind."
After thinking a moment, the merchant replied:—
"I can think of but one thing that you can do, Mr. Allen, and that will
not be much better than your present employment. It is a service for
which ordinary laborers are employed, that of chain carrying for the
surveyor to the proposed railroad expedition."
"What are the wages, sir?"
"Forty dollars a month."
"I will accept it, sir, thankfully," the man said. "It will be much
better than my present employment."
"Then make yourself ready at once, for the company will start in a
"I will be ready, sir," the poor man replied, and then withdrew.
In a week the company of engineers started, and Mr. Allen with them as a
chain carrier, when, had he, as a boy, taken the advice of his parents
and friends, and stored his mind with useful knowledge, he might have
filled the surveyor's office at more than double the wages paid to him
as chain carrier. Indeed, we cannot tell how high a position of
usefulness and profit he might have held, had he improved all the
opportunities afforded him in youth. But he perceived the use and value
of learning when it was too late.
I hope that none of my young readers will make the same discovery that
Mr. Allen did, when it is too late to reap any real benefit. Children
and youth cannot possibly know as well as their parents, guardians, and
teachers, what is best for them. They should, therefore, be obedient and
willing to learn, even if they cannot see of what use learning will be
JAMIE AND HIS TEACHER
Among the scholars in a mission Sabbath school formed in one of our
large country villages, was a little Irish boy, whose bright,
intelligent face, quickness of mind, and earnest attention to the
lessons, had awakened great interest in the mind of his teacher.
After a few Sabbaths, however, this boy was missing, and when sought by
the visiting committee during the week, was never to be found.
Sometimes he was seen from a distance, looking with apparent interest,
as the superintendent or one of the teachers passed by, but if they
attempted to approach him, he would take to his heels, and spring over
walls and fences with such agility that there was no hope of overtaking
Miss L., his teacher in the Sabbath school, was a young lady belonging
to one of the wealthiest families in the village. One cold afternoon in
December, after Jamie had been absent from his class more than a month,
he made his appearance at the back door of her father's house, asking to
"No, no," said the cook, "ye needn't be thinking the young leddy'll come
in the woodshed to see ye. If ye have any message, ye can go in the
"I don't look nice enough to go in," said Jamie, glancing ruefully at
his torn trousers and coarse, muddy boots.
But it so happened that Miss L. was passing through the hall, and she
heard and recognized the voice at once; so she came to the door to see
what was wanted.
Jamie hung his head in confusion, while the young lady kindly took his
hand in hers, and asked if he had been well, and why he had not been to
"Me father wouldn't let me come," he sobbed out at last; "he bate me
because I'd been to the Sabbath school."
"Poor child!" exclaimed Miss L. "But does your father know you came
here this afternoon?"
"No, ma'am; but he said I might have every half holiday to go skating,
if I promised never to go inside the Sabbath school again. So I brought
me Testament, and I thought mebbe you'd teach me here, ma'am."
Was it not a bold request? Did not Jamie know that with home duties and
the claims of social life, his teacher's time must be fully occupied?
Might she not think that her services on the Sabbath were all that
should be required of her?
Ah, no; what were time, and strength, and fashionable amusements, to be
compared with the value of a precious soul? Miss L. could only thank God
for so rich a privilege, and enter with joy upon the work of
So every half holiday found Jamie seated by her side in the beautiful
library, earnestly studying the words of the Master, who has said,
"Suffer little children to come unto Me."
Skating-time came and went; the last ice had melted from the pond; but
never once had Jamie gone skating. He had found a source of better,
deeper delight, than even boyish sports could afford.
But Jamie could not always hide the fact that he was spending his time
in this way.
One day, his well-worn Testament fell from his pocket in the presence of
"What's that?" demanded the father fiercely.
"It's me Testament, father," Jamie gently replied.
"And where did ye get that? Have ye been to the Sabbath school since I
told ye not?"
"No, father; but my teacher gave me this a great while ago."
"And who is your teacher?"
"What, Miss L.? The one that lives in that splendid house on the hill?"
"Well, well, what's in the book? let's hear a bit."
Providentially, this was one of the rare occasions when Mr. Ryan was not
intoxicated, and as the boy read passage after passage from his beloved
book, the father's mind opened with a child-like interest to the truths
of the holy word.
From that day he became a sincere inquirer after the truth as it is in
Jesus. The appetite for strong drink, which had been the cause of his
degradation, was at last quenched; for a stronger thirst had taken
possession of his soul, even for that purifying stream of which
whosoever drinketh shall never thirst.
When sober, Mr. Ryan was an industrious and intelligent man, and by his
renewed energies his family was soon placed in a position of comfort
and respectability. But that was not all the good effect of Jamie's love
for the truth.
Within a few months, both father and mother had cast off the fetters of
restraint, and were receiving for themselves with meekness and
earnestness, that precious word which was able to save their souls.
Had not Jamie made the very best use of his winter holidays? and was not
his teacher richly rewarded for all her exertions?
How many of our young readers will study with equal earnestness the word
of truth, which is always open to them, that they may learn from it the
way of life? How many Christian teachers will engage with equal interest
in the work of instruction, in the hope that in so doing they may save a
soul from death?
Hosanna to the Son
Of David and of God,
Who brought the news of pardon down,
And bought it with His blood.
To Christ the anointed King
Be endless blessings given;
Let the whole earth His glories sing,
Who made our peace with heaven.
"WITH A WILL, JOE!"
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."
EFFECTS OF DISOBEDIENCE
The following affecting narrative was related by a father to his son, as
a warning, from his own bitter experience of the sin of resisting a
mother's love and counsel.
What agony was on my mother's face when all that she had said and
suffered failed to move me. She rose to go home and I followed at a
distance. She spoke to me no more until she reached her own door.
"It is school time now," she said. "Go, my son, and once more let me
beseech you to think upon what I have said."
"I shan't go to school," said I.
She looked astonished at my boldness, but replied firmly:—
"Certainly you will, Alfred! I command you!"
"I will not," said I.
"One of two things you must do, Alfred—either go to school this minute,
or I will lock you up in your room, and keep you there until you promise
implicit obedience to my wishes in the future."
"I dare you to do it," I said; "you can't get me up stairs."
"Alfred, choose now," said my mother, who laid her hand upon my arm.
She trembled violently and was deadly pale.
"If you touch me, I will kick you!" said I in a fearful rage. God knows
I knew not what I said.
"Will you go, Alfred?"
"No," I replied, but I quailed beneath her eyes.
"Then follow me," said she as she grasped my arm firmly. I raised my
foot,—O, my son, hear me,—I raised my foot and kicked her—my sainted
mother! How my head reels as the torrent of memory rushes over me. I
kicked my mother, a feeble woman—my mother. She staggered back a few
steps and leaned against the wall. She did not look at me.
"O, heavenly Father," she cried, "forgive him, he knows not what he
does." The gardener, just then passing the door, and seeing my mother
pale and almost unable to support herself, came in.
"Take this boy up stairs and lock him in his room," said she, and turned
from me. She gave me a look of agony, mingled with most intense love,
from a true and tender heart that was broken.
In a moment I found myself a prisoner in my own room. I thought for a
moment I would fling myself from the open window, but I felt that I was
afraid to die. I was not penitent. At times my heart was subdued, but my
stubbornness rose in an instant, and bade me not yield yet.
The pale face of my mother haunted me. I flung myself on my bed and fell
asleep. Just at twilight I heard a footstep approach my door. It was my
"What shall I tell mother for you?" she said.
"Nothing," I replied.
"O, Alfred, for my sake and for all our sakes, say that you are sorry.
She longs to forgive you."
I would not answer. I heard her footsteps slowly retreating, and flung
myself on the bed to pass a wretched night.
Another footstep, slower and more feeble than my sister's, disturbed me.
"Alfred, my son, shall I come in?" she asked.
I cannot tell what influence made me speak adverse to my feelings. The
gentle voice of my mother, that thrilled me, melted the ice from my
heart, and I longed to throw myself upon her neck; but I did not. My
words gave the lie to my heart when I said I was not sorry. I heard her
withdraw. I heard her groan. I longed to call her back, but I did not.
I was awakened from an uneasy slumber by hearing my name called loudly,
and my sister stood by my bedside:—
"Get up, Alfred! Don't wait a minute. Get up and come with me, mother is
I thought I was yet dreaming, but I got up mechanically, and followed my
sister. On the bed, pale as marble, lay my mother. She was not yet
undressed. She had thrown herself upon the bed to rest, and rising again
to go to me she was seized with heart failure, and borne to her room.
I cannot tell you my agony as I looked upon her,—my remorse was
tenfold more bitter from the thought that she never would know it. I
believed myself to be her murderer. I fell on the bed beside her; I
could not weep. My heart burned within me; my brain was on fire. My
sister threw her arms around me and wept in silence. Suddenly we saw a
motion of mother's hand; her eyes unclosed. She had recovered her
consciousness, but not her speech.
"Mother, mother!" I shrieked; "say only that you forgive me."
She could not speak, but her hand pressed mine. She looked upon me, and
lifting her thin, white hands, she clasped my own within them, and cast
her eyes upward. She moved her lips in prayer, and thus died. I remained
kneeling beside that dear form till my sister removed me; but the joy of
youth had left me forever.
Boys who spurn a mother's counsel, who are ashamed to own that they are
wrong, who think it manly to resist her authority, or yield to her
influence, beware. One act of disobedience may cause a blot that a
life-time can not wipe out. Wrong words and wrong actions make wounds
that leave their scars.
Be warned; subdue the first rising of temper, and give not utterance to
the bitter thought. Shun the fearful effects of disobedience. Lay not up
for yourselves sad memories for future years.
STAND BY THE SHIP
"Do, grandmother, tell us about the little drummer boy whose motto was,
'Stand by the ship.'"
"Grandmother is not used to telling children stories; but, if you will
be quiet, she will try." And this is the story she told us:—
During one of the fiercest battles of the civil war, the colonel of a
Michigan regiment noticed a very small boy, acting as drummer.
The great coolness and self-possession of the boy, as displayed during
the engagement; his habitual reserve, so singular in one of his years;
his orderly conduct, and his fond devotion to his drum (his only
companion, except a few well-worn books),—all these things unusual in
one so young had attracted notice, both from the officers and the men.
Colonel B.'s curiosity was aroused, and he desired to know more of him.
So he ordered that the boy should be sent to his tent.
The little fellow came, his drum on his breast, and the sticks in his
hands. He paused before the colonel and made his best military salute.
He was a noble looking boy, the sunburnt tint of his face in good
keeping with his dark, crisp curls.
But strangely out of keeping with the rounded cheeks and dimpled chin,
was the look of gravity and thoughtfulness, in the serious, childish
eyes. He was a boy, who seemed to have been prematurely taught the
self-reliance of a man. A strange thrill went through Colonel B.'s heart
as the boy stood before him.
"Come forward, I wish to talk to you." The boy stepped forward, showing
no surprise under the novel position in which he found himself. "I was
very much pleased with your conduct yesterday," said the colonel, "from
the fact that you are so young and small for your position."
"Thank you, colonel; I only did my duty; I am big enough for that, if I
am small," replied the noble little fellow.
"Were you not very much frightened when the battle began?" questioned
"I might have been, if I had let myself think of it; but I kept my mind
on my drum. I went in to play for the men; it was that I volunteered
for. So I said to myself: 'Don't trouble yourself about what doesn't
concern you, Jack, but do your duty, and stand by the ship.'"
"Why, that is sailors' talk," said the colonel.
"It is a very good saying, if it is, sir," said Jack.
"I see you understand the meaning of it. Let that rule guide you
through life, and you will gain the respect of all good men."
"Father Jack told me that, when he taught me to say, 'Stand by the
"He was your father?"
"No, sir,—I never had a father,—but he brought me up."
"Strange," said the colonel, musing, "how much I feel like befriending
this child. Tell me your story, Jack."
"I will tell it, sir, as near as I can, as Father Jack told it to me.
"My mother sailed on a merchant ship from France to Baltimore, where my
father was living. A great storm arose; the ship was driven on rocks,
where she split, and all hands had to take to the boats. They gave
themselves up for lost; but at last a ship bound for Liverpool took them
up. They had lost everything but the clothes they had on; but the
captain was very kind to them; he gave them clothes, and some money.
"My mother refused to remain at Liverpool, though she was quite sick,
for she wanted to get to this country so badly; so she took passage in
another merchant ship, just going to New York. She was the only woman on
board. She grew worse after the ship sailed; the sailors took care of
her. Father Jack was a sailor on this ship, and he pitied her very much,
and he did all he could for her. But she died and left me, an infant.
"Nobody knew what to do with me; they all said I would die—all but
Father Jack; he asked the doctor to give me to him. The doctor said:—
"'Let him try his hand, if he has a mind to; it's no use, the little one
will be sure to go overboard after it's mother;' but the doctor was
"I was brought safe to New York. He tried to find my father, but did not
know how to do it, for no one knew my mother's name. At last he left me
with a family in New York, and he went to sea again; but he never could
find out anything about my mother, although he inquired in Liverpool and
elsewhere. The last time he went to sea, I was nine years old, and he
gave me a present on my birthday, the day before he sailed. It was the
last; he never came back again; he died of ship fever.
"But Father Jack did well by me; he had me placed in a free school, at
seven years of age, and always paid my board in advance for a year.
"So you see, sir, I had a fair start to help myself, which I did right
off. I went errands for gentlemen, and swept out offices and stores. No
one liked to begin with me, for they all thought me too small, but they
soon saw I got along well enough.
"I went to school just the same, for I did my jobs before nine in the
morning; and after school closed at night, I had plenty of time to work
and learn my lessons. I wouldn't give up my school, for Father Jack told
me to learn all I could, and some day I would find my father, and he
must not find me a poor, ignorant boy. He said I must look my father in
the face, and say to him without falsehood: 'Father, I may be poor and
rough, but I have always been an honest boy and stood by the ship, so
you needn't be ashamed of me.' Sir, I could never forget those words."
He dropped his cap, drum, and sticks, bared his little arm, and showed
the figure of a ship in full sail, with this motto beneath it, pricked
into the skin: "Stand by the ship."
"When I was twelve, I left New York and came to Detroit with a gentleman
in the book business. I was there two years, when the war broke out.
"One day, a few months afterward I was passing by a recruiting office,
and went in. I heard them say they wanted a drummer. I offered; they
laughed and said I was too little; but they brought me a drum and I beat
it for them. They agreed to take me. So the old stars and stripes was
the ship for me to stand by."
The colonel was silent; he seemed to be in deep thought. "How do you
ever expect," he said, "to find your father? You do not even know his
"I don't know, sir, but I am sure I shall find him, somehow. My father
will be certain to know that I am the right boy, when he does find me,
for I have something to show him that was my mother's," and he drew
forth a little canvas bag, sewed tightly all around, and suspended from
his neck by a string.
"In this," he said, "is a pretty bracelet that my mother always wore on
her arm. Father Jack took it off after she died, to keep for me. He said
I must never open it until I found my father, and that I must wear it so
around my neck, that it might be safe."
"A bracelet, did you say?" exclaimed the colonel, "let me have it—I
must see it at once!"
With both his small hands clasped around it, the little boy stood
looking into Colonel B.'s face; then, slipping the string from over his
head, he silently placed it in his hand. To rip open the canvas was but
the work of a moment.
"I think I know this bracelet," stammered Colonel B. "If it be as I hope
and believe, within the locket we will find two names,—Wilhelmina and
Carleton; date, May 26, 1849"
There were the names as he said. Colonel B. clasped the boy to his
heart, crying brokenly, "My son! my son!"
I must now go back in my story. In the first year of his married life,
Colonel B. and his lovely young wife sailed for Europe, expecting to
remain several years in Southern Europe, on account of the delicate
health of his wife. He was engaged in merchandise in the city of
Baltimore. The sudden death of his business partner compelled his return
to America, leaving his wife with her mother in Italy.
Soon after he left, his mother-in-law died. Mrs. B. then prepared to
return to Baltimore at once, and took passage on the ill-fated steamer
which was lost. Vainly he made inquiries; no tidings came of her. At
last he gave her up as dead; he almost lost his reason from grief and
Fourteen years had passed; he did not know that God in his mercy had
spared to him a precious link with the young life so lost and mourned.
Restless, and almost aimless, he removed to Michigan. When the war broke
out, he was among the first to join the army.
There stood the boy, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Father," he said,
"you have found me at last, just as Father Jack said. You are a great
gentleman, while I am only a poor drummer boy. But I have been an honest
boy, and tried my best to do what was right. You won't be ashamed of me,
"I am proud to call you my son, and thank God for bringing you to me
just as you are."
My little hero is now a grown man; and as the boy was so is the man.
"Stand by the ship," the motto which served him so well while a boy, is
his motto still.
A FAITHFUL SHEPHERD BOY
Gerhardt was a German shepherd boy, and a noble fellow he was, although
he was very poor.
One day he was watching his flock, which was feeding in a valley on the
borders of a forest, when a hunter came out of the woods and asked:—
"How far is it to the nearest village?"
"Six miles, sir," replied the boy; "but the road is only a sheep track,
and very easily missed."
The hunter looked at the crooked track and said:—
"My lad, I am very hungry and thirsty; I have lost my companions and
missed my way; leave your sheep and show me the road. I will pay you
"I cannot leave my sheep, sir," replied Gerhardt. "They will stray into
the forest, and may be eaten by wolves or stolen by robbers."
"Well, what of that?" queried the hunter. "They are not your sheep. The
loss of one or more wouldn't be much to your master, and I'll give you
more than you have earned in a whole year."
"I cannot go, sir," rejoined Gerhardt, very firmly. "My master pays me
for my time, and he trusts me with his sheep; if I were to sell my time,
which does not belong to me, and the sheep should get lost, it would be
the same as if I stole them."
"Well," said the hunter, "will you trust your sheep with me while you go
to the village and get some food, drink, and a guide? I will take care
of them for you."
The boy shook his head. "The sheep do not know your voice, and—" he
"And what? Can't you trust me? Do I look like a dishonest man?" asked
the hunter, angrily.
"Sir," said the boy, "you tried to make me false to my trust, and wanted
me to break my word to my master; how do I know that you would keep your
word to me?"
The hunter laughed, for he felt that the lad had fairly cornered him. He
"I see, my lad, that you are a good, faithful boy. I will not forget
you. Show me the road and I will try to make it out myself."
Gerhardt then offered the contents of his bag to the hungry man, who,
coarse as it was, ate it gladly. Presently his attendants came up, and
then Gerhardt, to his surprise, found that the hunter was the grand
duke, who owned all the country round.
The duke was so pleased with the boy's honesty, that he sent for him
shortly after that, and had him educated.
In after years Gerhardt became a great and powerful man, but he
remained honest and true to his dying day.
DICK HARRIS; OR, THE BOY-MAN
Dick Harris was called a clever boy, and no one believed this more
firmly than he. He was only fourteen years of age, and yet he dearly
loved to be thought a man.
As he was about to leave school, his friends often asked him what he
intended to be. Dick could not tell; only, that it must be something
great. Now while Dick had learned some good thing in school, he had also
learned many evil habits—among them the practice of smoking.
Dick's father smoked. He saw men smoking in the streets, and so he
thought it would be manly to smoke. Along with some of his schoolmates,
he used to hide himself and take his turn of the one pipe or cigar which
they had among them. As they were afraid of being found out, they hid
the pipe when any one came near.
His father, who although he smoked himself, forbade Dick doing so, asked
him one day why his clothes smelled so of tobacco smoke.
"Some of my schoolmates smoke, father."
"But do you smoke?"
"Take care you don't then; it's all very well for men, but I won't have
any of my children smoking."
Dick went away, as the Bible says, "with a lie in his right hand."
And yet he wanted to be a man. Now look at that, my lads. What is it
that makes a man—I mean a true man? There are many things. The Bible
says that the glory of young men is their strength—strength of body,
and strength of mind.
Would Dick get this kind of glory by smoking? He certainly would not
strengthen his body, for it has been proved again and again that boys
who smoke weaken their bodies.
Tobacco is a poison—slower perhaps than strong drink, but quite as
sure; and although it may not kill you outright, because the quantity
taken is not large enough, yet it pollutes the blood, injures the brain
and stomach, and paralyzes many of the healthy functions of the body.
The result is stunted growth and general weakness. A boy who smokes much
never can have the glory of bodily strength.
Dick found this out for himself, to his bitter regret. And besides this,
do you think that his conduct showed strength of mind? He began the
practice of smoking, not because he believed it to be right, but because
men smoked. He was only a boy, yet he wished to appear a man—that
is, to appear what he was not.
What could be more weak than for a boy to have no reason for doing a
thing than that men do it? But it led to something worse. He was
smoking on the sly, and to conceal it he became a liar. He lied in the
school by his conduct, he lied at home by his words.
We could have respected him, although we pitied him, had he smoked
openly and taken the consequences; but who can respect a coward? He is
not worthy of the name of man. Dick continued to smoke after he left
school, and was apprenticed in a large warehouse.
Here again the old desire to be like men influenced him. They had
cigars, he must have one; they smoked, he must do so. This conduct had
its invariable effects. He became the associate of "fast" young men—got
into debt—learned to drink—stayed out late at night—and before his
apprenticeship had ended, was ruined in health; and but for the
indulgence of his employers would have been discharged in disgrace. Was
that acting the part of a man?
This happened many years ago. Last week amidst a crowd who surrounded a
polling booth, there stood a man about forty years of age—he looked
twenty years older. On his head was a battered hat; he wore a seedy,
black coat; both his hands were in his pockets, and in his mouth the
stump of a cigar which had been half-smoked by another man; his face was
bloated, his eyes bleared and languid. Even the vulgar crowd looked at
him with contempt.
I looked into his face thinking there was in it a resemblance to one I
had known. Slowly and painfully came the sad truth, that the drunken
creature was Dick Harris; he had become a man but he was a lost man.
It has often been said, "How great a matter a little fire kindleth." The
spark which kindled a blaze among Dick's evil passions, was the spark
which lit the tobacco pipe at school. Bad habits are easily acquired,
but they are hard to get rid of. See what smoking had done for Dick. It
led him to drink, and the two habits have left him a wreck.
But you say to me, "There are many thousands who smoke, and yet are
strong men." It is so. But in almost all cases these strong smokers did
not begin the habit while they were boys; if they had done so, the
likelihood is, they never would have become strong men. Besides, how
much stronger they might have been if they had never smoked!
Many who smoke and still appear strong, have nevertheless undermined
their constitution, and when an unusual strain comes upon it there is a
"But again," you say, "all who smoke do not learn to drink, and so lose
true manhood." That may be; and yet there is a significant fact that a
confirmed drunkard who does not smoke can scarcely be found. It has
recently been shown that the great majority of those who break their
temperance pledge are smokers.
Smoking and drinking are branches of the same deadly tree whose leaves
curse the nation.
And now, my lads, "Quit you like men, be strong." The next time any one
says to you, "Have a cigar," say "No!"
If he says it is manly to smoke, say "No; it is manly to exercise
self-control; to act from principle; to have cleanly habits; to be
unselfish; to pay one's debts; to be sober; and to have the approval of
one's conscience. Now, I might lose all these elements of manhood if I
learned to smoke."
THE WAY OF SAFETY.
Dear grandma is one of those who "being dead yet speaketh."
She was not a preacher, or a lecturer—much less a censurer or reprover;
but she was that most agreeable of teachers to childhood and youth, a
story-teller. Yet, let no one suppose that she told us tales of fairy
lore or ingenious romance, as pernicious as they are false. Not so; the
stories to which we listened with so much delight, were all true, and
all from the capacious store-house of her own memory.
We had returned from the church one Sabbath afternoon, and as usual,
hastened to grandma to repeat as much as we could remember of the
sermon. The text was that solemn command of the wise man: "My son, if
sinners entice thee, consent thou not;" and our pastor had made it the
ground-work of a powerful exhortation to the young especially, to beware
of the many temptations, snares, and allurements which they should meet;
and warned them of the consequences of yielding to the seductive
influences by which they might be surrounded.
"That reminds me of a young man whom I knew before any of you were
born," grandma remarked, when we had reported as much as we could
remember of the sermon. "You have heard me speak of Jacob Wise?" she
said, addressing my father.
"Yes, mother," he replied, "please tell the children about him. I am
sure your account of his experience will be a very suitable addition to
our afternoon sermon."
"O yes, grandma, please do!" we exclaimed; and, drawing our seats around
her, we prepared for what we knew would be a treat. The good old lady
did not need to be urged, but, after pausing a moment to collect her
thoughts, began as follows:—
"Jacob Wise was the son of a near neighbor when I was a happy wife in my
Western home. His father was a plain, practical man, respected for his
uprightness, good sense, and piety; and he brought up his son in his own
sound principles, at the same time giving him all the education that was
within his reach.
"When Jacob was about fourteen years of age, he was sent to Louisville
for the benefit of a year's instruction in a large school there.
"There were, also, other sons and daughters around his father's hearth.
It therefore appeared expedient that Jacob should be allowed to develop
his taste for commercial pursuits.
"The first circumstances of any note, that I remember, which
particularly marked his character, occurred at the time of his first
practical acquaintance with business.
"While in Louisville, he received much attention from the family of a
wealthy man who kept a large store in the city; and when, at the close
of his school term, he was offered a place behind the counter of his
friend, he found no difficulty in obtaining his father's permission to
accept of it.
"The merchant, Mr. Rankin, was a smooth, bland, good-tempered man, and
in his intercourse with the world maintained outwardly a fair and honest
"But Jacob had not been many weeks in intimate connection with him
before he discovered that his dealings were not all conducted with
scrupulous adherence to divine law; neither was a conscientious regard
to his neighbor's interests a very deep-seated principle. This caused
the lad much uneasiness; and a feeling of nervous disquiet took
possession of the hitherto happy boy.
"He hesitated as to which was the more honorable course: to obey his
employer without question, or to sacrifice his own ideas of strict
"But he was not long left in doubt. One day a carriage drove to the
door, and a richly dressed lady entered the store, and asked to be shown
some children's necklaces. Jacob, who attended in that department, was
proceeding to wait on her, when Mr. Rankin came forward smiling, and
with the ease and courtesy for which he was noted, took the lad's place,
and spread before the lady an assortment of glittering trinkets which,
judging from her gay appearance, he knew would please her eye.
"An animated dialogue ensued between the merchant and his customer,
respecting the style and value of the various articles under view. The
lady was made to believe that this elegant display had been imported
with great cost and difficulty from the manufacturing cities of Europe,
and, in consequence of the immense and rapid demand for them, the
obliging trader had been satisfied with moderate profit, and was now
willing to dispose of the remainder of the stock at fabulously low
"To all this, which he knew to be utterly and shamelessly false, Jacob
listened with equal grief and astonishment, and it was with difficulty
that he restrained his honest indignation as he saw one after another of
the tinsel gewgaws transferred to the shopping bag of the deceived
customer at prices which were five times their value, while she was
duped with the flattering persuasion that she was receiving unequaled
"All doubts as to the unlawfulness of his remaining another hour under
the roof where this swindling transaction had taken place, were
immediately removed from the mind of the noble and upright youth.
"When Mr. Rankin returned after having very politely attended the lady
to her carriage, and placed the parcel containing her purchases by her
side, he was met by Jacob, who, with an air of grave rebuke rarely
assumed by lads of his years, informed him that from what he had seen of
his method of conducting business he thought it quite impossible that
they could agree.
"He was, therefore, resolved to return without delay to his father's
house, and he was glad that the terms upon which he had entered the
establishment left him free to do so.
"The firm and fearless bearing of the boy awed the man of unjust
practices, and he neither attempted to vindicate his own meanness nor to
oppose the departure of his right-minded assistant. At once Jacob
returned to the old homestead, his character more permanently formed by
the ordeal through which he had passed."
"But do you think, grandma," inquired Henry, "that Jacob would have
acted so independently if he had had no home to return to?"
"Yes, dear, I think he would," was the prompt reply. "He had learned to
obey the commands of God and to believe His promises. He knew that the
injunction, 'Come out from among them,' was followed by the assurance,
'I will receive you,' and such was his trust in his heavenly Father's
word that no thought for his future provision would have interfered with
the performance of what he deemed to be his duty."
"Well, grandma," said Henry, "I like the stand taken by the honest boy.
Please go on with the story."
"Jacob remained at home for the next three years, making himself useful
in teaching his younger brothers and sisters, besides assisting his
father in the management of his affairs. In the meantime his own
education was advancing. Nor was he without receiving many offers of
clerkship in the neighboring cities, whither the good report of his
honesty and integrity had come.
"But a cousin of his father, who was a merchant of some eminence in New
Orleans, had proposed to take him into his counting house in a
confidential capacity when he should reach a more mature age, and for
this important post he was qualifying himself.
"Accordingly, when he was eighteen years of age, at the request of his
relative, he again left home. This time his departure was a more serious
affair than it had been when, a few years before, he left for school in
"Now he was going to a large and populous city, where fashion and vice
walked hand in hand, and where snares and pitfalls were spread for the
simple and unwary, with scarcely a finger-mark cautioning them to
"All the neighborhood was moved with anxiety and friendly interest for
the youth, and the last Sabbath of his attendance at our rural church,
the good pastor made an earnest and affectionate address from the same
text which the minister presented to-day.
"Our friend's journey to the great maritime city of the South was not
without incident. Mr. Wise accompanied his son to Louisville, and, after
the necessary preliminary arrangements, went with him on board the boat
that was to bear him down the broad waters of the Mississippi.
"The parting advice and benediction of his father were then given. He
reminded him of the subject of his pastor's last sermon, and closed by
giving him, as the motto of his life, the imperative charge, 'Come out
from among them.'
"Then, as he desired to return home by daylight, and the boat was not to
start for a couple of hours, he once more committed his son to the care
and guidance of heaven, and left him, with a calm trust that he would be
kept in the way of safety.
"After a pleasant trip on board the 'Southern Belle,' our young friend
arrived in New Orleans.
"Jacob was much pleased with his new situation. He found his relative a
man of the most honorable character. Accommodations were procured for
him in a first-class boarding-house, where none but persons of the best
standing were admitted. And, whether owing to his attractions of mind or
person, the sterling worth of his character, or the independent position
of his family, or perhaps all these combined, he soon found himself an
object of marked interest and attention to all with whom he came in
"Naturally of a social disposition, and disposed to look at everything
in the most favorable light, Jacob saw none of those vicious traits and
habits which he had been cautioned to shun.
"He did not partake of the mirthful spirit by which the unwary are
enticed into scenes of folly, neither did he deny himself innocent
"And now to the unsophisticated youth, life presented the fairest
aspect. His religious duties were carefully attended to, and in the
faithful discharge of his business engagements no one could be more
careful and punctual. His evenings were devoted to the society of those
who were congenial to him. But it was not long before the hidden thorns
of the flowers that strewed his path began to make themselves felt, nor
was it without pain that conscience awoke him from the repose in which
he had been lulling himself.
"Among the many charming sojourners at the establishment in which he had
taken up his abode, was the family of a wealthy planter, who had come to
the city for the winter. Mr. and Mrs. De Veaux were a lively and
fashionable couple, and their children partook of the gay and careless
temperament of their parents.
"Isabel, the eldest, was now in her sixteenth year, and the faultless
beauty of her face and figure was only equaled by the child-like
sweetness of her disposition. She had been brought up without much
restriction or control, and now that she was entering society for the
first time, being gay, spirited, and witty, she flung herself into the
enjoyments of fashionable pleasure with all the zest of her nature.
"The winter glided along with its witching gayeties, and, though the
young Christian was never tempted to join the giddy multitude in their
unlawful pastimes, yet his views were more lax than they had been.
"With the hope of his presence having a restraining effect upon the fair
being who had touched the tenderest chords of his nature, he suffered
himself to be led into scenes such as sober conscience could not
"At length, however, the alarm came that was to disturb his security. A
sermon was to be preached by a celebrated minister before the members of
the 'Young Men's Christian Association.' Jacob attended, and heard with
startled interest the minister deliver, as his text, the very same verse
which the pious pastor of his country home had made the subject of the
last discourse he had heard from him: 'My son, when sinners entice thee
consent thou not.'
"The young man of irreproachable life had no idea that this exhortation
could be applied to his case; he had been careful that 'sinners' were
granted no opportunity of enticing him.
"But to many of the young men present, who were not so cautious, he
hoped the sermon would prove of benefit. So he settled himself
comfortably to listen to the brilliant orator.
"But his self-complacency did not last long. It was that very class to
which he belonged, that the preacher addressed. He exposed the cunning
temptations of Satan, and told how he labored to lead even those who
hated vice, to join in the pleasures of the world, without requiring
them to commit one apparent sin.
"Thus the enemy sought to lead even the Christian, and to turn his heart
from God, from holiness, and from heaven.
"Painfully solemn were the feelings with which Jacob left the house of
God at the close of the service. The film had passed from his eyes, and
he saw that while his outward walk had been strictly correct, his heart
had wandered from its true allegiance.
"When he reached home he found a gay party of young people, dancing and
making merry in the brilliantly lighted parlors. But the sickening
sensations that ran through his frame, at the thought of time thus
wasted, and creatures fashioned in their Maker's image perverting their
fine intelligences, showed the change that had been made in his views
within the last hour.
"He went at once to his chamber, and with earnest prayer, he gave
himself anew to his Master.
"He decided at once that Isabel must be given up, with all her
attractions. How lone and cheerless the future appeared. Casting himself
upon his knees, he prayed for help to bear the blow which had descended
upon his hopes.
"With Jacob Wise, to know his duty was to do it. Having felt the evil
influence of intimate association with light and giddy worldlings, he
determined to change his boarding place to some more retired spot where
no similar temptation should waylay him. And so, the next morning, he
called on his pastor, stated the circumstances in which he was placed,
and asked his help in obtaining board in some private family connected
with the church.
"The minister sympathized with his young friend, and after a few
minutes' thought, mentioned a pious couple of his charge, whose only son
had lately gone from home, and into whose vacant room he thought it
likely Jacob might be admitted.
"It was as he had hoped. When Mrs. Bennet heard the case, she was glad
to be able to give a home to the young man. No other difficulty now
remained but his parting with Isabel.
"He found her seated at the piano, and a long conversation ensued, in
which opinions and sentiments entirely opposite were maintained by each.
On subjects of vital importance they were disagreed. So that finally
they, whose hearts had received their first tender impressions from each
other, with an apparent calmness inconsistent with their true feelings,
separated, to meet no more."
Grandma paused, and for several minutes no one seemed disposed to speak.
Each of us was looking into his own heart to see if there were grace
enough there to bear us conquerors through such trials as might be in
store for us. The silence was broken by Henry, inquiring the sequel of
the young Christian's career.
"Well," said grandma, "Jacob continued to live a consistent, Christian
life. He visited his parents every summer, gladdening their hearts by
the purity and simplicity of his life.
"When he had been six or seven years in New Orleans, he was taken into
partnership by his kinsman and employer; and shortly after he married
the daughter of his pastor, whose sweet companionship was a great help
to him in his Christian life.
"It is a long time since I have had an opportunity of hearing of Jacob
Wise; but I dare say, if still living, he is an example of moral
dignity, truth, and uprightness, and an honor to the church of which he
has been, from childhood, a steady and consistent member."
"Hurrah! hurrah! Such a splendid morning for skating; clear as jelly and
as cold as ice cream. Come ahead, boys; there's no telling how long this
weather will last."
So said Roger to his two friends, whom he met on his way to the park.
His eyes sparkled, his cheeks were almost as bright as the scarlet
muffler he wore around his neck, and the dangling skates told for
themselves the expedition upon which he was bound. The other boys
readily agreed to join him, and after running home for their skates, the
party started off in such high spirits that the conductor of the car
which they entered, begged them to be a little more quiet.
"Not quite so noisy, please, young gentlemen," he said, as they paid
"Pshaw!" said Roger, while Bob made a face when his back was turned to
them, giving Frank an opportunity of noticing the large patch on his
overcoat. He made some funny speech about it, at which the others
laughed heartily. It usually does boys good to laugh, unless the laugh
be at the expense of some one else. A good-natured laugh is good for the
After a while the car stopped for another passenger; the conductor
assisted the person in getting on, and Roger, thinking more time was
taken than usual, called out:—
"Hurry up, hurry up—no time to lose!"
The new-comer was a boy about his own age, but sadly deformed; he was a
hunchback, and had a pale, delicate face, which spoke of sorrow and
"Now do move up," said the conductor, as the boys sat still, not
offering to make room; but when he spoke, they all crowded together,
giving much more room than was necessary,—the three together trying to
occupy the space that one would comfortably fill. They continued talking
and joking noisily, until the car stopped at the entrance of the park.
Bob and Frank pushed out ahead of all the other passengers. Roger was
pushing out after them when the conductor laid his hand on his shoulder.
"Don't crowd, don't crowd; plenty of time, young man."
This expostulation came too late, for Roger in his impatience to get
out, unheeding of what he was doing, caught one of his skates in the
scarf of the crippled boy, who had been sitting next to him. He gave his
skate strap a rude pull, knocking the boy rather roughly, and stepping
on a lady's toes.
"Bother take it!" he exclaimed impatiently, and giving the scarf another
jerk, ruder than before, he succeeded in disentangling it; then he
rushed out, hurried over to the boys who awaited him on the pavement,
where they stood stamping their feet and whistling. Roger made no reply
to the crippled boy, who said to him gently:—
"It wasn't my fault, was it?"
"That hunchback caught his scarf in my skate. I thought it never would
come out," he exclaimed. "It's kept me all this time!"
"Hush, Roger," interrupted Frank in a low tone of voice.
The boy was just behind them; he had evidently heard what had been said,
for his pale face turned scarlet, and lingering behind to see which path
the boys intended taking, he walked off in the opposite direction, and
they soon lost sight of him.
Roger was hasty and impulsive, but his nature was kindly, after all; and
when his skates were fairly on, the ice tried, and the first excitement
of the pleasure over, he thought of his unfeeling speech, and the pale,
sad face of the boy rose before him.
"Was it my fault?" The question rang in his ears. Was it the boy's fault
that his legs were crooked, and his back misshapen and awkward? Was it
his fault that he must go through life, receiving pity or contempt from
his more fortunate fellow-creatures, whose limbs were better formed than
The more Roger thought, the ruder his treatment of the poor lad now
seemed, and putting himself in the boy's place, he felt that such words
would have cut him to the quick.
"I say," said Bob, who had been cutting his initials on a smooth, glassy
spot of ice: "I say, Roger, what makes you so glum? Why, I declare,
there's the little hunchback sitting over there on the bank, looking at
Roger looked in that direction, and saw him sitting alone, his only
enjoyment consisting in seeing without at all engaging in the pleasure
"What can a poor fellow like that do with himself I wonder?" added Bob.
"I don't suppose he can skate or do anything else without making a show
"That's so," said Roger thoughtfully, wondering how he could make up
for his rudeness, or take back his own words. He concluded to let it all
pass for this time. In future he would be more careful, and less hasty
in speaking; for Roger did not have sufficient manliness to go over to
where the boy was sitting, and say frankly; "I beg your pardon for my
The boys proposed a game of tag. Roger was a splendid skater; he engaged
in the game with great zest: his spirits rose, and the crippled boy and
the reproaches of his conscience passed entirely out of his mind as he
skated on, knowing that he could keep his balance as well and strike
out, perhaps, better than any fellow on the pond.
The swiftest and strongest, however, are not always the most successful,
and as he swooped around, curving in very near the shore, a strap gave
way, and before Roger could help himself, it tripped him, and he
sprawled at full length on the ice.
The boys shouted; some laughed, but a fall is such a common occurrence
that no one was very much concerned until Roger attempted to spring up
again, to show them all that he didn't mind it in the least,—he would
be all right again in a minute. Then he tried to stand; but when an
awful pain shot up from his ankle, then he realized that it was quite
impossible to stand.
They ran to his assistance, but before they reached him, a soft hand was
held out to him, and a gentle voice asked:
"Have you hurt yourself badly?" Roger saw the deformed boy standing by
his side, and then remembered that he had seen him sitting near by on
"I think I must have sprained my ankle," he replied.
The deformed boy knelt on the ice, and while the others clustered
around, asking questions and offering suggestions, he quietly unbuckled
his skates for him.
"I'll have to get home, I suppose," said Roger faintly; "but, boys,
don't let this spoil your fun—don't come with me."
"May I go with you?" said the deformed boy. "I am not going to stay
here any longer."
Roger thanked him, and a policeman coming up at that moment to inquire
about the accident, a carriage was procured, Roger was put in, the
deformed boy followed, and Roger was driven home.
"My fun is spoiled for this winter," he said, with a moan. "I know a
fellow who sprained his ankle last year, and the doctor says perhaps he
will never be able to skate again. What an unlucky thing for me!—it
wasn't my fault either."
"No," added the deformed boy gently. "It was not your fault; and it was
not my fault that my nurse let me fall when I was a baby and injured my
back. I sometimes think it would have been better if she had killed me
outright, though strong and well-formed people think it wicked for me to
The color which had left Roger's pale cheeks from his pain, rushed back
for a moment, as he held out his hand and said:—
"I was a brute to you in the car this morning, but I didn't think what I
was doing. Will you excuse me?"
"I know you didn't. Please don't say anything more about it. It is hard
to pity the suffering of others unless we have felt pain ourselves."
Roger's sprain prevented him from skating again that season, and taught
him also a lesson which let us hope he will remember all his lifetime.
Bert was determined to go. He wouldn't ask his father, for he was very
sure his father would say, No. He didn't quite like to disobey a
positive command, so he would say nothing at all about the matter.
Bert was thirteen years old, and it was high time that he began to
exercise his own judgment, at least when his own affairs were
concerned,—so Bert thought.
He would like to know what harm his going down to the river for a quiet
moonlight swim could possibly do to anybody. He would try it, at all
events. Ned Sellars would be there, and Frank Peters. They didn't seem
to care whether their parents liked it or not. Bert couldn't feel so,
exactly; but, still, where was the sense in a boy's going to his father
every time he turned round?
He was going. He had fully made up his mind to that. He went up to bed
at the usual time, however, but his mother coming into his little
bedroom about half an hour afterward, was surprised to find him almost
hidden by blanket and quilt, though it was a warm night in August.
"Why, Bert, you'll smother. Do let me pull off some of these clothes."
But Bert held them tightly down. "I ain't cold, mother. I mean I ain't
"Are you sick?"
"Two blankets and a quilt," laughed his mother, as she turned away. "I
don't know what you're made of, Bert."
"And jacket and pants and stockings and shoes," thought Bert, as he
snapped his fingers very softly under the weight of bedclothes.
The beautiful moon looked in at the little window. There had been times
when Bert, gazing at her pure, pale face, had marveled that any boy
could have the heart to do wrong when her soft light was shining on him;
but to-night she seemed to say, "Come on, come on. I tell no tales. The
night indoors is warm and stifling. The river is cool and clear. My
beams are there before you. Come on, come on!"
It seemed as if the hours had never lagged so heavily. Eleven o'clock
was the time agreed upon.
Twice Bert found himself napping. Suppose he should go to sleep. The
idea was not to be entertained for a moment. He sat up in the bed and
listened, listened, listened, until at length the welcome strokes
greeted his ear. He was tired and sleepy and stupid and very warm. He
opened his door softly, and went down stairs. He did not dare unlock
the front door, for grandpa's room was just across the hall, and grandpa
always slept with one eye open. He crept through the kitchen, and found
himself in the shed. Was ever anything more fortunate? The outer door
He took his hat from the nail, and just then a plaintive "mew" greeted
"Hush! Be still, Cuff," said he, in a whisper.
But Cuff wouldn't be still. She was very glad to see him, and was
determined to tell him so.
"Mew, me-aw," called Billy, the mocking-bird, from his cage above.
"Dear me," thought Bert, "they'll wake father up as sure as the world."
But it was not unusual for Billy to sing in the night. Indeed, his
midnight music was sometimes overpowering. Bert stood very still for a
moment, but could hear no one stirring. He walked on a few steps, Cuff
purring loudly, and rubbing her soft gray sides against him.
"Bow, wow, wow, wow," barked the faithful watch-dog.
"Be quiet, Prince. Stop your noise!"
Prince knew his young master's voice, and, like Cuff, was delighted to
be near him, and so gave expression to his feelings in a succession of
loud quick barks.
"Hadn't you better go down, John?" asked Bert's mother, anxiously. "I'm
afraid some one is trying to get in."
"They can't get farther than the shed," was the careless reply. "I left
In a few moments all was quiet again. Prince lay down at Bert's feet,
and Cuff stretched herself out beside him. Time was passing. The boys
would surely be there before him. Very carefully he crept toward the
door, hardly daring to breathe, in his anxiety.
But Prince had not been asleep. No, indeed! Restarted up at the first
sound of his master's footsteps. It was very evident that something
unusual was going on, and he was determined to be "in it."
"I must run as fast as I can," said Bert to himself. "Hit or miss,
there's nothing else for me to do."
He was preparing to suit the action to the word, when Snow, the old
family horse, who for a few days past had been allowed to wander about
among the clover fields, put her white nose just inside the door and
gave a loud and fiercely prolonged neigh.
"What next!" muttered Bert, between his teeth. "I shall expect to see
some of the cows soon. I don't care if all the animals on the place
He was walking defiantly from the door, when he heard his mother's voice
at her window. "I never can sleep, John, with a horse crying around. I
wish you'd go down to see what the trouble is. And do lock the shed
door. I haven't slept five minutes to-night."
What was Bert to do now? To go forward in the moonlight, with his mother
watching from above, would be foolish, indeed. To remain in the shed, to
be discovered by his father, seemed equally unwise.
He had very little time to think about the matter, for at that moment
he heard the well-known footsteps on the stairs. He darted over to the
shed closet, shut the door, and tremblingly awaited the result.
And the result was that, after standing painfully still for about ten
minutes, during which Prince's significant sniffs and growls had thrice
driven him to the very verge of disclosure, he was left unmolested in
the dark old closet. He opened the door; but the shed seemed darker yet.
No loving cat or friendly dog was there to cheer or to betray. Nothing
but thick, black darkness. Was it possible that the moon was still
He wondered if the boys were having a good time. He would open the door
and go to them as soon as he dared. But while he was thinking and
wondering, waiting until he was sure his father and mother were asleep
again, the old clock rang out the hour of twelve. Midnight! It was of no
use to go then; the boys would be gone.
And so Bert crept up stairs to his room, cross and dissatisfied, feeling
that the fates were against him.
He was late to breakfast the next morning. His mother laughingly
inquired if the weight of his bedclothes had affected his hearing.
"Yes'm—no'm. I mean—I guess not," he replied absently.
It was a rainy morning, and the weather was disagreeably warm. After
breakfast Bert came into the shed, and watched his father as he mended
an old harness.
"What sort of boy is that Ned Sellars?" inquired his father at length.
"I don't know. I think he's a pretty good boy. Why?"
"I passed the house this morning. Some one was getting a terrible
flogging, and I think it must have been Ned."
"What for? Do you know?"
"Yes. They spoke very loud, and I couldn't help hearing. It was for
running off last night. Going swimming, I believe."
Bert's eyes flashed.
"That's just like his father," said he, indignantly. "He never wants Ned
to have any fun."
There was no reply. Some hidden feeling, he could hardly tell what,
prompted Bert's next question.
"Would you flog me, father, if I went swimming without leave?"
"That depends upon circumstances," replied his father, looking
searchingly into his face. "If my boy was mean enough to skulk out of
the house at night, when I supposed him to be abed and asleep, it is
just possible that I might not consider him worth flogging."
How Bert's cheeks burned. He had never looked at the matter in just that
light before. "Never be a sneak, my son. It is cowardly and
Bert made no answer, but his thoughts were busy. Was he not every whit
as mean and cowardly as if he had really gone with his unfortunate
friend? Yes, verily.
And then he thought of his father. How good he was—never denying him
any reasonable pleasure; nay, often denying himself for his sake. Bert
seemed to realize his father's goodness now as never before.
As he thought of this two large tears rolled down his sunburnt cheeks.
"What is it, my boy?"
He brushed them away hastily.
"Father," said he, "I've been a sneak; but I won't be a coward. I was
going with the boys last night."
"Yes. I should have gone if it hadn't been for the dog, and the cat,
and—all the rest of them. 'Twasn't any goodness of mine that kept me at
His father was silent.
"I wish you'd say something, father," cried poor Bert, impatiently. "I
s'pose you don't think I'm worth flogging; but"—
"My dear boy," said his father, "I knew your footsteps in the shed last
night. I knew perfectly well who was hidden in the old closet."
"Why didn't you say so?" inquired astonished Bert, tremblingly.
"Because I preferred to let you go. I thought, if my boy wanted to
deceive me, he should, at least, imagine that he had that pleasure."
"Yes, you should have gone, Bert. Very likely I might have gone with
you; but you would not have known it."
Bert hadn't a word to say.
"I pitied you, too. I knew that, after the fun was over, there must come
the settling with your conscience. I was sure you had a conscience,
The boy tried to speak, but no words came.
"I was disappointed in you, Bert. I was very much disappointed in you."
Down went Bert's head into his hands.
"But now," continued his father, placing one hand upon his shoulder,
"now I have my honest boy again, and I am proud of him. I do consider
you worth a dozen floggings, Bert; but I have no disposition to give
them to you."
Bert wrung his father's hand and rushed out into the rain. Cuff came
running to meet him, and Prince barked with pleasure at his approach.
Billy whistled and sung in his cage above, and old Snow's voice was
heard in the field close by.
Bert loved them and they knew it. It was some minutes, however, before
he noticed them now; and when he did, it was not in his accustomed merry
"Just like the monitors at school," said he, seriously. "Making such a
fuss that a fellow can't go wrong, if he wants to." And he took Cuff up
in his lap, and patted Prince's shaggy coat.
Bert's monitors still watch him with affectionate interest; but never
again, I am happy to say, has he felt the least inclination to disturb
their midnight slumbers.
A MORNING THOUGHT
With every rising of the sun
Think of your life as just begun.
The past has shrivelled and buried deep,
All yesterdays. There let them sleep,
Nor seek to summon back one ghost
Of that innumerable host.
Concern yourself with but to-day,
Woo it, and teach it to obey
Your will and wish. Since time began
To-day has been the friend of man;
But in his blindness and his sorrow
He looks to yesterday and to-morrow.
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.
TEN MINUTES' DELAY
All well-informed people are familiar with the sad account of the death
of the young Prince Napoleon, who fell pierced by nineteen wounds at the
hands of the Zulus, in South Africa, June 1, 1879.
Many will remember that Capt. Carey, in his published report, mentioned
that after they had selected the camping ground,—the object for which
the squad of six had been detailed,—and had had coffee and rested, he
suggested that they should remount and return to camp. But the young
prince, who commanded the squad, said,—
"No, let's wait ten minutes."
Just as they were preparing to remount, at the expiration of that ten
minutes, a body of Zulus came on them, and all fled but the prince,
whose horse broke from him. After a desperate resistance, he fell,
covered with wounds, and died "in the tall grass of the douga."
I presume all do not know that this pleading for ten minutes' delay was
a habit of the young prince from early childhood.
A correspondent of a leading Paris journal interviewed the empress as
she was about leaving for the scene of the tragedy that had wrecked all
her earthly hopes, and drew her into conversation on the subject of her
She talked freely during the interview, but with an evident anguish of
spirit, which seemed only the more sad from her effort at control.
During this interview, while speaking of the childhood of her son, the
prince, she unconsciously revealed the trait in his character that had
caused all this woe,—to her, wrecked hopes and a broken heart; to him,
the probable loss of a throne, an earthly future, and his life.
After describing her as still lovely in her lonely grief, the writer
from whom we quote said:—
"The empress had now risen and stood, slightly trembling with emotion,
when, stepping rapidly and gracefully across the room, she opened a
cabinet, from which she took a pocketbook, and read therefrom on a leaf,
'Going with Carey,'—the last words ever written by the prince; then she
added,—'Of all that Captain Carey has ever written in regard to my son,
those fatal ten minutes alone, I hold to be true. It was ever his
habit,' she continued, 'to plead for ten minutes' delay; so much so that
I used to tell him they ought to call him Monsieur Dix Minutes.'
"'He always begged for ten minutes more sleep in the morning; ten
minutes more at night to sleep in his chair; and when too much overcome
with sleep to speak, he would hold up his two little hands, the ten
fingers representing the ten minutes more for which he pleaded.'"
The habit of procrastination is a deadly foe to all prosperity in
temporal or in moral affairs. We ought to do every duty as soon as it
can be done.
I have a secret which I should like to whisper to the boys and girls if
they will put their ears down close enough. I don't want father and
mother to hear—for it is to be a surprise on them.
You have long wanted your own way. You have become tired of hearing
mother say, "Come right home after school." "Don't be late." "Be sure to
tell the teacher." It is "Do this" and "Don't do that" all the time. You
are sick of it, and would like to have your own way. Well, put your ears
down while I whisper one word, "Obey."
Oh, you think I am making fun. No, I am not. I know a boy who decided to
do just what his father said. He never offered excuses, never tried to
get out of work, until finally his father came to trust him perfectly.
His father said, "I know that Harlie will do what is right." When he
went out nights, or to school, or to play, his father never said a word,
for he had come to have perfect confidence in his boy.
Honestly, obedience is the road to freedom. If you want to have your own
way, just begin to obey.
"I think I am sure of one premium at least," said Edward, as he stood
among his schoolfellows.
It was examination day, and many a young heart was beating quick with
the hope of approbation and reward, or with the fear of disgrace.
Some had looked forward to this day, and applied to their tasks, knowing
how carefully they would be examined, and commended or punished
according as they deserved.
Others had chosen to forget that such a day must come, and idled away
the time which they would now have given a great deal to have at their
In the center of the schoolroom was placed a long table, covered with
books of various sizes and of different value. There were Bibles and
Testaments, both large and small, the histories of Rome, of Greece, and
of England. There were volumes elegantly bound and pamphlets just
The school was extensive, and it was desired that every one who had
exerted himself to the best of his ability, however little that might
be, should carry home with him some mark of encouragement, to remind him
that diligence and perseverance were not overlooked.
Like the servants to whom the Lord intrusted the talents, some had five,
and some had but one, yet these last could not be excused for hiding and
neglecting it because it was small; even the youngest and the simplest
child at school may make something of the reason and opportunities which
the Lord has given him to improve.
With anxious hearts and earnest faces, the boys arranged themselves
around the table; and were examined with great care and patience by
their teachers, as to the progress they had made in their studies.
Now, Edward had set his heart on one particular premium, the Roman
History, neatly bound, and making two very pretty volumes, which he
thought would handsomely fill up a vacant space on his book-shelves.
He allowed himself to think of this until no other prize was of any
value in his sight. This is a great fault, often committed by children,
and grown people too; instead of thankfully receiving whatever the
bounty of Providence assigns them, they would choose for themselves;
they become discontented and unhappy in the midst of blessings, because
the wisdom of God sees fit to withhold some one thing that their folly
deems necessary to their happiness.
Edward passed his examination with much credit, and one of the first
premiums was adjudged to him; but instead of the Roman History, a very
neat Bible, in excellent large type, was placed in his hands.
Many of his school-mates had longed for that Bible, but Edward did not
care for it.
The eyes of the foolish boy filled with tears, as he saw the elegant
History of Rome presented to another, who, perhaps would gladly have
exchanged with him.
The next day Edward returned home and related his disappointment to his
parents, who thought his desire for the Roman History a mark of great
learning and taste; but since he had distinguished himself so well,
they did not much care what prize he received.
Edward's father lived in the country, not far from the seaside, in a
most delightful and healthful situation.
At this time his mother's brother, whose health was very poor, came to
enjoy the benefit of the sea breezes, and rest a little from the toil
and bustle of active life in London.
Mr. Lewis was a young man of the most pleasing manners and appearance.
He was gentle and serious, but not at all gloomy or severe.
His bad health only served to increase his patience in enduring it
without a murmuring word or discontented look. Edward, who was really a
kind-hearted and affectionate boy, soon became very much attached to his
uncle, who had not seen him since he was an infant, and who was much
pleased at the attentions his nephew delighted to show him.
Young hearts are soon won; and it was only three days after Edward's
return from school, that he went bounding over the grounds in search of
his uncle, whose society he already preferred to his usual amusements.
Mr. Lewis was seated under a fine old oak, the high and knotted roots of
which served as a seat; while the soft moss, in which grew many delicate
little flowers, was like a carpet beneath his feet.
A rich and extensive tract of country lay spread before his eyes; and,
at a distance the mighty ocean, whose deep green waters were seen in
beautiful contrast with the pale yellow cliff, bounded the prospect.
Thin clouds were floating past the sun every now and then, and threw all
the varieties of light and shade upon the lovely scene below.
Mr. Lewis had a book in his hand, into which he frequently looked, and
then raised his eyes again to gaze upon the beauties of nature that
So intent he seemed that Edward doubted whether he ought to disturb him,
until his uncle, seeing him at some little distance, kindly beckoned him
to come near.
"Is not this a pretty place, uncle?" asked Edward, as he seated himself
beside him; "and do you not find the breeze from the water very
"It is beautiful indeed, my dear boy; and I am refreshed and instructed
as I look around me."
"Is that a Bible, uncle?"
"Yes. I always find it the best commentary upon His works;—they explain
"I love the Bible too, uncle," said Edward, "and got much credit for my
answering on Scripture questions last half-year."
"And which did you enjoy most, Edward, the Scriptures, or the credit you
got for studying them?"
Edward looked a little embarrassed and did not immediately reply.
"It is quite right to take pleasure in the well-earned approbation of
your teachers," continued Mr. Lewis, "and I was glad to hear that you
were given a premium at the last examination also."
"Yes, uncle, but not the prize I wanted most. There was a Roman History
that I should have liked better, and it was exactly of equal value with
the Bible that I got."
"Of equal value, Edward?"
"I mean that it was not reckoned a higher prize, and it would have been
a nicer book for me."
"Then you had a Bible already?"
"Why, no, uncle, not of my own, but it is easy to borrow one on the
Sabbath; and I had gone through all my Scripture proofs, and do not want
it on other days."
"Read these four verses for me," said Mr. Lewis, pointing to the sixth
chapter of Deuteronomy "commencing with the sixth verse."
Edward read: "And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in
thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and
shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou
walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be
as frontlets between thine eyes, and thou shalt write them upon the
posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
"To whom did the Lord give this command, Edward?"
"To the Jews, uncle."
"Yes; and the word of God, which cannot pass away, is as much binding on
us as on them, in everything excepting the sacrifices and ceremonies,
which foreshowed the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and which were
done away. For by His death He fulfilled all those types and shadows."
"Then," said Edward, "we are commanded to write the Bible on our hands
and on our doorposts."
"No, my dear boy, not literally, but in a figure of speech; as the Lord,
when declaring he never will forget Zion, says, 'I have graven thee upon
the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.'
"The meaning of the passage you first read is, that we must have the
word of God as continually present in our minds as anything written on
our hands, and on every object around us, would be to our bodily sight.
And how are we to get our thoughts so occupied by it, Edward?"
"By continually reading it I suppose," replied Edward, rather sullenly.
"By reading it often, and meditating on it much," said his uncle; "and
that we can do without interfering with our other business. Without
prayer, you cannot obtain any spiritual blessing, nor maintain any
communion with God; and without reading the Scriptures you will have but
little desire to pray.
"We are like people wandering in the dark, while the Bible is as a
bright lamp held out to direct us in the only safe path. You cannot be
a child of God if you do not His will; you cannot do it unless you know
it, and it is by the Bible that He is pleased to have that knowledge
known. Do you begin to see, Edward, that the Bible is more suitable as
an every-day book than your profane history?"
"Why, yes, uncle; but the Bible is a serious book, and if I read it so
constantly, I never should be merry."
"There is no merriment among the lost, Edward; and that dreadful lot
will be your portion if you neglect the great salvation which the
Scriptures set forth. Besides, there is no foundation for what you
suppose to be the effect of reading the Bible. I have known people
naturally melancholy and discontented, become cheerful and happy by
studying it; but I never in my life saw an instance of persons becoming
unhappy because they had a hope of going to heaven."
"I remember, uncle, that it is written concerning wisdom, that 'her ways
are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.'"
"Most true, my dear boy, 'quietness and assurance forever' is the
portion of God's people.
"'Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice.'
"'The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs,
and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and
gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.'
"Are such expressions as these likely to make us gloomy, Edward?"
"O no, uncle; and I often wonder that you, who suffer so much pain, and
read the Bible constantly, are not melancholy."
"How can I be melancholy, Edward, when the Bible tells me that all these
things are working together for my spiritual good? that He who spared
not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will with Him also
freely give us all things?
"When I think of what my sins deserve, and see the Lamb of God bearing
the chastisement that should fall upon me, how can I be melancholy!
"When I feel that the Spirit of God is bringing these things to my
remembrance, and enabling me to love the Lord Jesus, who has done so
much for me, must I not rejoice?
"I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; and
since God has promised forgiveness to all who seek that blessing through
His Son; and since I feel assured that I have sought that blessing, and
feel peace and joy in believing, surely the song of praise, not the moan
of lamentation, becomes me.
"Yet I do lament, Edward, daily lament my many offenses against God; but
I am assured that Christ's blood cleanseth from all sin, and that in Him
I have a powerful and all-prevailing Advocate with the Father. I know in
whom I have believed, and that He will never cast off nor forsake me.
"I am sinking into the grave, my dear boy, but I do not shrink from that
prospect, because the bitterness of death is taken away by my Saviour,
who died for my sins, and rose again for my justification; and though
this body returns to dust, I shall live again, and enter into the
presence of my Redeemer, and rejoice there evermore."
Edward looked at the animated countenance of his uncle, and then cast
down his eyes; they were full of tears. At last he said:—
"Indeed, uncle, I am a very sinful boy, neglecting the Bible, because I
know it would show me my sin, and the consequences of it.
"But I will trifle no more with God's displeasure. I will get that
precious Bible, worth a thousand Roman histories, and I will read it
daily, with prayer, that I may be wise unto salvation."
Mr. Lewis did not live long after this. He died, rejoicing in hope of
life eternal; and as often as Edward was allowed to return home from
school, he was to be seen under the oak tree, with the Bible in his
hand, from which he learned more and more the will of his God and
Saviour, the utter sinfulness of his own nature, and his inability to
help himself. From this holy word he learned to place all his dependence
upon the merits of his Saviour, to follow the example of his Saviour, in
prayer, in resignation, and in doing good to the poor.
He often thought of his dear uncle, and counted that day happy when he
sat to listen to his kind advice, which brought him to a knowledge of
himself and of his heavenly Father.
LESSONS FROM THE 119th PSALM
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
"Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies."
"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are
"I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts."
WHERE THE GOLD IS
Tom Jones was a little fellow, and not so quick to learn as some boys;
but nobody in the class could beat him in his lessons. He rarely missed
in geography, never in spelling, and his arithmetic was always correctly
done; as for his reading, no boy improved like him. The boys were fairly
angry sometimes, he outdid them so.
"Why, Tom, where do you learn your lessons? You don't study in school
more than the other boys."
"I rise early in the morning and study two hours before breakfast,"
Ah, that is it! "The morning hour has gold in its mouth."
There is a little garden near us, which is the prettiest and most
plentiful little spot in all the neighborhood. The earliest radishes,
peas, strawberries, and tomatoes, grow there. It supplies the family
with vegetables, besides some for the market.
If anybody wants flowers, that garden is the place to go for the
sweetest roses, pinks and "all sorts," without number. The soil, we used
to think, was poor and rocky, besides being exposed to the north wind.
The owner is a busy man, yet he never hires.
"How do you make so much out of your little garden?"
"I give my mornings to it," answered the owner, "and I don't know which
is the most benefited by my work, my garden or myself."
Ah, "the morning hour has gold in its month."
William Down was one of our young converts. He united with the church,
and appeared well; but I pitied the poor fellow when I thought of his
going back to the shipyard to work among a gang of godless associates.
Will he maintain his stand? I thought. It is so easy to slip back in
religion—easier to go back two steps than advance one. Ah, well, we
said, we must trust William to his conscience and his Saviour. Two years
passed, and instead of William's losing ground, his piety grew brighter
and stronger. Others fell away, but not he, and no boy perhaps was
placed in more unfavorable circumstances. Talking with William one
evening, I discovered one secret of his steadfastness.
"I never, sir, on any account let a single morning pass without secret
prayer and the reading of God's word. If I have a good deal to do, I
rise an hour earlier. I think over my weak points and try to get God's
grace to fortify me just there."
Mark this. Prayer is armor for the battle of life. If you give up your
morning petitions, you will suffer for it; temptation is before you, and
you are not fit to meet it; there is a guilty feeling in the soul, and
you keep at a distance from Christ.
Be sure the hour of prayer broken in upon by sleepiness can never be
made up. Make it a principle, young Christian, to begin the day by
watching unto prayer. "The morning hour has gold in its mouth;" aye, and
something better than gold—heavenly gain.
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
The boys of our time are too much afraid of work. They act as if the
honest sweat of the brow was something to be ashamed of. Would that they
were all equally afraid of a staggering gait and bloated face! This
spirit of laziness builds the gambling houses, fills the jails, supplies
the saloons and gaming places with loiterers, and keeps the alms houses
and charitable institutions doing a brisk business.
It doesn't build mammoth stores and factories, nor buildings like the
Astor Library and Cooper Institute. The men who built such monuments of
their industry and benevolence were not afraid of work.
All the boys have heard of the great publishing house of the Harpers.
They know of their finely illustrated papers and books of all kinds, and
perhaps have seen their great publishing house in New York City. But if
I should ask the boys how the eldest of the brothers came to found such
an illustrious house, I should perhaps be told that he was a
"wonderfully lucky man."
He was lucky, and an old friend and fellow-workman, a leading editor,
has revealed the secret of his luck. He and the elder Harper learned
their trade together, many years ago, in John Street, New York. They
began life with no fortune but willing hands and active brains;—fortune
enough for any young man in this free country.
"Sometimes after we had done a good day's work, James Harper would say,
'Thurlow, let's break the back of another token (a quarter of a ream
of paper),—just break its back.' I would generally reluctantly consent
just to break the back of the token; but James would beguile me, or
laugh at my complaints, and never let me off until the token was
completed, fair and square!
"It was our custom in summer to do a fair half-day's work before the
other boys and men got their breakfast. We would meet by appointment in
the gray of the morning, and go down to John Street. We got the key of
the office by tapping on the window, and Mr. Seymour would take it from
under his pillow, and hand it to one of us through the blind.
"It kept us out of mischief, and put money into our pockets."
The key handed through the window tells the secret of the luck that
enabled these two men to rise to eminence, while so many boys that lay
soundly sleeping in those busy morning hours are unknown.
No wonder that James Harper became mayor of the city, and head of one of
the largest publishing houses in the world. When his great printing
house burned down, the giant perseverance which he had learned in those
hours of overwork, made him able to raise, from the ashes, a larger
and finer one.
Instead of watching till his employer's back was turned, and saying,
"Come, boys, let's go home; we've done enough for one day," and
sauntering off with a cigar in his mouth, his cry was, "Let's do a
That overwork which frightens boys nowadays out of good places, and
sends them out West, on shipboard, anywhere, eating husks, in search of
a spot where money can be had without work, laid the foundation of the
apprentice boy's future greatness.
Such busy boys were only too glad to go to bed and sleep soundly. They
had no time nor spare strength for dissipation, and idle thoughts, and
Almost the last words that James Harper uttered were appropriate to the
end of such a life, and ought to be engraven upon the mind of every boy
who expects to make anything of himself: "It is not best to be studying
how little we can work, but how much."
Boys, make up your minds to one thing,—the future great men of this
country are doing just what those boys did. If you are dodging work,
angry at your employer or teacher for trying to make you faithful; if
you are getting up late, cross, and sleepy, after a night of
pleasure-seeking, longing for the time when you can exchange honest work
for speculation, you will be a victim to your own folly.
The plainly-dressed boys whom you meet carrying packages, going of
errands, working at trades, following the plow, are laying up stores of
what you call good luck. Overwork has no terrors for them. They are
preparing to take the places of the great leaders of our country's
affairs. They have learned James Harper's secret. The key handed out
to him in the "gray of the morning"—that tells the story!
"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night."
THE BEST FUN
"Now, boys, I'll tell you how we can have some fun," said Fred Blake to
his companions, who had assembled on a beautiful, moonlight evening for
sliding, snowballing, and fun generally.
"How?" "Where?" "What is it?" asked several eager voices together.
"I heard Widow More tell a man a little while ago," replied Fred, "that
she would go to sit up with a sick child to-night. She said she would be
there about eight o'clock. Now, as soon as she is gone, let's make a big
snow man on her doorstep so that when she comes home, she cannot get in
without first knocking him down."
"Capital!" shouted several of the boys.
"See here," said Charlie Neal, "I'll tell you the best fun."
"What is it?" again inquired several at once.
"Wait awhile," said Charlie. "Who has a wood-saw?"
"I have," "So have I," answered three of the boys. "But what in the
world do you want a wood saw for?"
"You shall see," replied Charlie. "It is almost eight o'clock now, so go
and get your saws. You, Fred and Nathan, get each an axe, and I will get
a shovel. Let us all be back here in fifteen minutes, and then I'll show
you the fun."
The boys separated to go on their several errands, each wondering what
the fun could be, and what possible use could be made of wood saws and
axes, in their play. But Charlie was not only a great favorite with them
all, but also an acknowledged leader, and they fully believed in him and
Anxious to know what the "fun" was which Charlie had for them, they made
haste, and were soon on hand, with their saws, axes, and shovels.
"Now," said Charlie, "Mrs. More is gone, for I met her when I was coming
back; so let's be off at once."
"But what are you going to do?" inquired several impatient members of
"You shall see directly," replied the leader, as they approached the
humble home of Mrs. More.
"Now, boys," said Charlie, "you see that pile of wood; a man hauled it
here this afternoon, and I heard Mrs. More tell him that unless she got
some one to saw it to-night, she would have nothing to make a fire with
in the morning. Now, we can saw and split that pile of wood just about
as easy as we could build a great snow man, and when Mrs. More comes
home from her watching, she will be fully as much surprised to find her
wood sawed, as she would to find a snow man at her doorstep, and a great
deal more pleasantly, too. What say you—will you do it?"
One or two of the boys demurred at first, but the majority were in favor
of Charley's project; so all finally joined in, and went to work with a
"I'll go round to the back of the shed," said Charley, "and crawl
through the window and unfasten the door. Then we'll take turns in
sawing, splitting, and carrying in the wood; and I want to pile it up
nicely, and to shovel all the snow away from the door; and make a good
wide path, too, from the door to the street: What fun it will be when
she comes home and sees it?"
The boys began to appreciate the fun, for they felt that they were doing
a good deed, and experienced the satisfaction which always results from
It was not a long, wearisome job, for seven robust and healthy boys to
saw, split, and pile up the poor widow's half-cord of wood, and to
shovel a good path.
When it was done, so great was their pleasure, that one of the boys, who
objected to the work at first, proposed that they should go to a
neighboring carpenter's shop, where plenty of shavings could be had for
the carrying away, and each bring an armful of kindling wood. This they
did, and afterward hurried home, all of them more than satisfied with
the "fun" of the winter evening.
The next morning, when Mrs. More came home, weary from watching by the
sick bed, and saw what was done, she was very much surprised. When she
was told who had done it, by a neighbor, who had witnessed the kindly
deed, her fervent prayer, "God bless the boys!" was, of itself, an
abundant reward for their labors.
Boys and girls, the best fun is always found in doing something that is
kind and useful. If you doubt it in the least, just try it for
yourselves, and you will be convinced.
The woman was old, and ragged and gray,
And bent with the chill of a winter's day;
The street was wet with recent snow,
And the woman's feet were aged and slow,
She stood at the crossing, and waited long,
Alone, uncared for amid the throng
Of human beings who passed her by,
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eye.
Down the street with laugh and shout,
Glad in the freedom of "school is out,"
Came the boys like a flock of sheep,
Hailing the snow piled white and deep.
Past the woman so old and gray
Hastened the children on their way,
Nor offered a helping hand to her,
So meek, so timid, afraid to stir
Lest the carriage wheels or the horses' feet
Should crowd her down in the slippery street.
At last came out of the merry troop
The gayest laddie of all the group;
He paused beside her, and whispered low,
"I'll help you across, if you wish to go."
Her aged hand on his strong young arm
She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,
He guided the trembling feet along,
Proud that his own were firm and strong.
Then back again to his friends he went,
His young heart happy and well content.
"She's somebody's mother, boys, you know,
For all that she's aged and poor and slow;
"And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand,
"If ever she's poor and old and gray,
When her own dear boy is far away."
And "somebody's mother" bowed low her head
In her home that night, and the prayer she said
Was, "God be kind to the noble boy,
Who is somebody's son and pride and joy!"
WAITING FOR THE GRIST
It is impossible to measure the influence which may be exerted by a
single act, a word, or even a look. It was the simple act of an entire
stranger that changed the course of my whole life.
When I was a boy, my father moved to the Far West—Ohio. It was before
the days of steam, and no great mills thundered on her river banks, but
occasionally there was a little gristmill by the side of some small
To these little mills, the surrounding neighborhood flocked with their
sacks of corn. Sometimes we had to wait two or three days for our turn.
I was generally the one sent from our house, for, while I was too small
to be of much account on the farm, I was as good as a man to carry a
grist to mill. So I was not at all surprised one morning when my father
said, "Henry, you must take the horse and go to mill to-day."
But I found so many of the neighboring farmers there ahead of me, that I
knew there was no hope of getting home that day; but I was not at all
sorry, for my basket was well filled with provisions, and Mr. Saunders
always opened his big barn for us to sleep in.
That day there was an addition to the number who had been in the habit
of gathering, from time to time, in the old Saunders barn,—a young
fellow about my own age. His name was Charley Allen, and his father had
bought a farm over on the Brush Creek road. He was sociable and
friendly, but somehow I felt that he had "more manners" than the rest of
The evening was spent, as usual, in relating coarse jokes and playing
cards. Although I was not accustomed to such things at home, I had
become so used to it at the mill, that it had long since ceased to shock
me, and, indeed, I was getting to enjoy watching the games of the
When bedtime came, we were all so busy with our own affairs that we did
not notice Charley Allen, until a rude, profane fellow exclaimed:—
"Heyday! we've got a parson here!" sure enough. Charley was kneeling by
the oatbin praying. But the jest met with no response. The silence was
broken only by the drowsy cattle below, and the twittering swallows
overhead. More than one rough man wiped a tear from his eyes as he went
silently to his bed on the hay.
I had always been in the habit of praying at home, but I never thought
of such a thing at Saunder's Mill.
As I laid awake that night in the old barn, thinking of Charley Allen's
courage, and what an effect it had upon the men, I firmly resolved that
in the future I would do right. I little thought how soon my courage
would be tested.
Just after dinner I got my grist, and started for home. When I arrived
at Squire Albright's gate, where I turned off to go home, I found the
old squire waiting for me. I saw in a moment that something had gone
wrong. I had always stood in the greatest awe of the old gentlemen,
because he was the rich man of the neighborhood, and, now I felt my
heart beginning to beat very fast. As soon as I came near he said:—
"Did you go through this gate yesterday?"
I could easily have denied it, as it was before daylight when I went
through, and I quite as often went the other way. But the picture of
Charley Allen kneeling in the barn, came to my mind like a flash, and
before I had time to listen to the tempter I replied:—
"Yes, sir; I did."
"Are you sure you shut and pinned the gate?" he asked.
This question staggered me. I remembered distinctly that I did not. I
could pull the pin out without getting off my horse, but I could not put
it in again; so I carelessly rode away, and left it open.
"Out with it; tell just what you did!"
"I left it open," I said abruptly.
"Well, you let the cattle in and they have destroyed all my early
potatoes,—a terrible piece of business!"
"I'm very sorry, I'd—"
"Talking won't help matters now; but remember, boy, remember that sorrow
doesn't make potatoes,—sorrow doesn't make potatoes."
I felt very bad about the matter, for I was really sorry that the old
gentleman had lost his potatoes, and then I expected to be severely
reproved at home. But I soon found that they knew nothing of the matter,
and after several days had passed, I began to rest quite easy.
Alas for human hopes! one rainy afternoon I saw the squire riding down
the lane. I ran off to the barn, ashamed to face him, and afraid to meet
my father. They sat on the porch and talked for a long time.
At last my curiosity overcame my fear, and I stole back to the house,
and went into mother's room to see if I could hear what they were
"Why, the boy could be spared well enough, but he doesn't know anything
about the business," said my father.
"There is one thing he does know," said the squire, "he knows how to
tell the truth." He then related the circumstance which I so much
dreaded to have my father hear.
After he had gone, my father called me to him, and told me that the
squire was going to start a store in the village, and wanted a boy to
help, and that I could go if I wished. I went, and remained in the
village store until it became a city store. People say that I got my
start in life when I entered Albright's store, but I will always declare
that I got it while I was waiting for the grist.
A BOY'S LESSONS IN DISHONESTY
"Have you examined that bill, James?"
"I find two errors."
"Ah, let me see."
The lad handed his employer a long bill that had been placed on his desk
"Here is an error of ten dollars in the calculation which they have made
against themselves; and another of ten dollars in the footing."
"Also against themselves?"
The merchant smiled in a way that struck the lad as peculiar.
"Twenty dollars against themselves," he remarked in a kind of pleased
surprise; "trusty clerks they must have!"
"Shall I correct the figures?" asked the lad.
"No; let them correct their own mistakes. We don't examine bill's for
other people's benefit," replied the merchant. "It will be time to
correct those errors when they find them out. All so much gain as it now
The boy's delicate moral sense was shocked at so unexpected a remark. He
was the son of a poor widow, who had taught him that to be just is the
duty of man, and that "honesty is the best policy" always.
Mr. Carman, the merchant, in whose employment the lad James had been for
only a few months, was an old friend of James's father, and a man in
whom he had the highest confidence. In fact, James had always looked
upon him as a kind of model man. When Mr. Carman agreed to take him into
his store, the lad felt that great good fortune was in his way.
"Let them correct their own mistakes." These words made a strong
impression on the mind of James Lewis. When first spoken by Mr. Carman,
with the meaning which he gave them, as we have said, he felt shocked.
But as he turned them over again in his thoughts, and remembered that
this man stood very high in his mother's estimation, he began to think
that perhaps the thing was fair enough in business. Mr. Carman was
hardly the man to do wrong.
A few days after James had examined the bill, a clerk from the house
which had sent it, called for settlement. The lad, who was present,
waited with interest to see whether Mr. Carman would speak of the error.
But he made no remark. A check for the amount of the bill as rendered,
was filled up, and a receipt taken.
"Is that right?" James asked himself this question. His conscience said
no. The fact that Mr. Carman had so acted, bewildered his mind.
"It may be the way in business"—he thought to himself—"but it doesn't
look honest. I wouldn't have believed it of him."
Mr. Carman had a way with him that won the boy's heart, and naturally
tended to make him judge of whatever he might do in a most favorable
"I wish he had corrected that error," he said to himself a great many
times when congratulating himself upon his own good fortune in having
been received into Mr. Carman's employment. "It doesn't look right, but
it may be in the way of business."
One day he went to the bank and drew the money for a check. In counting
it over, he found that the teller had paid him fifty dollars too much.
So he went back to the counter and told him of his mistake. The teller
thanked him, and he returned to the store with the consciousness in his
mind of having done right.
"The teller overpaid me fifty dollars," he said to Mr. Carman, as he
handed him the money.
"Indeed," replied the latter, a light breaking over his countenance; and
he hastily counted the bank bills.
The light faded as the last bill left his fingers. "There's no mistake,
James." A tone of disappointment was in his voice.
"Oh, I gave them back the fifty dollars. Wasn't that right?"
"You simpleton!" exclaimed Mr. Carman.
"Don't you know that bank mistakes are never corrected? If the teller
had paid you fifty dollars short he would not have made it right."
The warm blood mantled the cheek of James under this reproof. It is
often the case that more shame is felt for a blunder than for a crime.
In this instance the lad felt a sort of mortification at having done
what Mr. Carman was pleased to call a silly thing, and he made up his
mind that if they should ever over-pay him a thousand dollars at the
bank, he should bring the amount to his employer, and let him do as he
pleased with the money.
"Let people look out for their own mistakes," said Mr. Carman.
James Lewis pondered these things in his heart. The impression they made
was too strong ever to be forgotten. "It may be right," he said, but he
did not feel altogether satisfied.
A month or two after this last occurrence, as James counted over his
weekly wages, just received from Mr. Carman, he saw that he had been
paid a half dollar too much.
His first impulse was to return the half dollar to his employer, and it
was on his lips to say, "You have given me a half dollar too much, sir,"
when the unforgotten words, "Let people look after their own mistakes,"
flashing into his mind, made him hesitate. To parley with evil is to be
"I must think about this," said James, as he put the money into his
pocket. "If it is right in one case, it is right in another. Mr. Carman
doesn't correct mistakes that people make in his favor, and he can't
complain when the rule works against himself."
But the boy was very far from being comfortable. He felt that to keep a
half dollar would be a dishonest act. Still he could not make up his
mind to return it, at least not then.
James did not return the half-dollar, but spent it for his
gratification. After he had done this, it came suddenly into his head
that Mr. Carman had only been trying him, and he was filled with anxiety
Not long after this Mr. Carman repeated the same mistake. Again James
kept the half-dollar, and with less hesitation.
"Let him correct his own mistakes," said he resolutely; "that's the
doctrine he acts upon with other people, and he can't complain if he
gets paid in the same coin he puts in circulation. I just wanted a half
From this time, the fine moral sense of James Lewis was blunted and his
conscience troubled him but little. He began to cherish a spirit of
covetousness, which is in the heart of all, until subdued by the grace
of Christ. He soon began to desire the possession of things for which he
was not able to pay.
James had good business qualifications. This pleased Mr. Carman. He saw
that the young man was intelligent, industrious, and tactful with
customers. For this reason, he advanced him rapidly, and, before he was
eighteen years of age, he held the most responsible position in the
But James had learned something more from his employer than the secret
of doing business well. He had learned to be dishonest. He had never
forgotten the first lesson he had received in the downward course. And
this wicked instruction he had acted upon, not only in two instances,
but in a hundred, and almost always to the injury of Mr. Carman.
The young man had long since given up waiting for mistakes to be made in
his favor. He originated them in the varied and complicated transactions
of a large business in which he was trusted implicity.
Of course, he grew to be sharp and cunning; always on the alert; always
bright, and ready skillfully to meet any approaches towards a discovery
of his wrong-doing by his employer, who held him in high regard.
In this way it went on until James Lewis was in his twentieth year. Then
the merchant received a letter which aroused his suspicions. This letter
spoke of the young man as not keeping the most respectable company, and
as spending money too freely for a clerk on a moderate salary.
Before this time James and his mother had removed into a pleasant house,
for which he paid a rent of four hundred dollars yearly. His salary was
only eight hundred dollars, but he deceived his mother by telling her
that it was fifteen hundred. Every comfort that she needed was fully
supplied, and she was beginning to feel that, after a long struggle with
the world, her happier days had come.
James was at his desk when the letter was received by Mr. Carman. He
looked at his employer, and saw him change countenance suddenly. The
letter was read twice, and James saw that the contents appeared to
disturb his employer. Mr. Carman glanced toward the desk and their eyes
met. It was only for a moment, but the look that James received made his
heart stop beating.
There was something about the movements of the merchant for the rest of
the day that troubled the young man. It was plain to him that suspicion
had been aroused by that letter. Oh, how bitterly now did he repent! How
he dreaded discovery and punishment! Exposure would disgrace and ruin
him, and bow the head of his widowed mother even to the grave.
That evening at supper, Mrs. Lewis noticed that her son did not eat; and
that his face was troubled.
"You are not well," she said "perhaps a rest will make you feel
"It's nothing but a headache; I'll lie down on the sofa in the parlor a
Mrs. Lewis followed him into the parlor shortly, and sitting down on the
sofa on which he was lying, placed her hand upon his head. Ah, it would
take more than the loving pressure of a mother's hand to ease the pain
which he was suffering. The touch of that pure hand increased the pain
"Do you feel better?" asked Mrs. Lewis. She had remained some time with
her hand on his forehead.
"Not much," he replied; "I think a walk in the open air will do me
good," he added, rising.
"Don't go out, James," said Mrs. Lewis, a troubled feeling coming into
"I'll only walk a few squares," he replied, as he hurried down the
"There is something more than headache the matter with him," thought
For half an hour James walked without any purpose in his mind beyond the
escape from the presence of his mother. At last his walk brought him
near Mr. Carman's store, and in passing, he was surprised at seeing a
"What can this mean?" he asked himself, a new fear creeping into his
He listened by the door and windows, but he could hear no sound within.
"There's something wrong," he said; "what can it be? If this is
discovered what will be the end of it? Ruin! ruin! O my poor mother!"
The wretched young man hastened on, walking the streets for two hours,
when he returned home. His mother met him when he entered, and with
unconcealed anxiety, asked him if he were better. He said "yes," but in
a manner that only increased the trouble she felt. He then passed
hastily to his own room.
In the morning the strangely altered face of her son as he met his
mother at the breakfast table, struck alarm to her heart. He was silent,
and evaded all her questions. While they still sat at the table, the
door bell rang loudly. The sound startled James, and he turned his head
nervously to listen.
"Who is it?" asked Mrs. Lewis.
"A gentleman who wishes to see Mr. James," replied the girl.
James rose instantly and went out into the hall, shutting the
dining-room door as he did so. Mrs. Lewis sat waiting her son's return.
She heard him coming back in a few moments; but he did not enter the
dining-room. Then he returned along the hall to the street door, and she
heard it shut. All was silent. Starting up, she ran into the passage,
but James was not there. He had gone away with the person who called.
Ah, that was a sad home leaving. Mr. Carman had spent half the night in
examining the accounts that had been kept by James. He discovered
frauds of over six thousand dollars. Blindly indignant, he had sent an
officer to arrest him early in the morning. It was with this officer
that he went away from his mother, never to return.
"The young villain shall lie in the bed he has made for himself!"
exclaimed Mr. Carman, in his bitter indignation. And he made a complete
exposure. At the trial he showed an eager desire to have him convicted,
and presented such an array of evidence that the jury could not give any
other verdict than guilty.
The poor mother was in court, and sobbed as she heard the evidences of
the guilt of her son. The presiding judge addressed the culprit, and
asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced
against him. The prisoner arose, and said:
"Will it please your honor to ask my prosecutor to come a little
nearer, so that I can look at him and your honor at the same time?"
Mr. Carman was directed to come forward. James looked at him a few
moments, and turned to the judge.
"What I have to say to your honor is this" (he spoke calmly and
distinctly), "and it may, in a degree, excuse, though it cannot justify,
my crime. I went into that man's store an innocent boy. If he had been
an honest man, I would not stand before you to-day as a criminal!"
Mr. Carman appealed to the court for protection against that which he
called an outrageous attack upon his character; but he was ordered to be
silent. James went on in a firm voice:—
"Only a few weeks after I began work in this man's store, I examined a
bill, by his direction, and discovered an error of twenty dollars."
The face of Mr. Carman was crimson.
"You remember it, I see," said James, "and I shall have cause to
remember it as long as I live. I asked if I should correct the figures,
and you answered:—
"'No; let them correct their own mistakes. We don't examine bills for
other people's benefit.'
"It was my first lesson in dishonesty. I saw the bill settled, and Mr.
Carman took twenty dollars that was not his own. I felt shocked at
first. It seemed such a wrong thing. But soon after this, he called me a
simpleton for handing back a fifty-dollar bill to the teller of a bank,
which he had overpaid me on a check, and then"—
"May I ask the protection of the court?" said Mr. Carman.
"Is the story of the lad true?" asked the judge.
Mr. Carman looked confused. All felt certain that he was guilty of
leading the unhappy young man astray.
"Not long afterward," resumed the young man, "in receiving my wages, I
found that Mr. Carman had paid me fifty cents too much. I was about to
give it back to him, when I remembered his remark about letting people
correct their own mistakes, and I said to myself, 'let him discover and
correct his own errors.' Then I dishonestly kept the money.
"Again the same thing happened, and again I kept the money that did not
belong to me. This was the beginning of evil, and here I am. If he had
shown any mercy to me, I might have kept silent and made no defense."
The young man covered his face with his hands, and sat down overpowered
with his feelings. His mother who was near him, sobbed aloud, and
bending over, laid her hands on his head. "My poor boy! my poor boy!"
There were few undimmed eyes in the court-room. In the silence that
followed, Mr. Carman exclaimed:—
"Is my character to be thus blasted on the word of a criminal, your
honor? Is this right?"
"Your solemn oath that this charge is untrue," said the judge, "will
clear your reputation in the eyes of the people."
At these words, James Lewis stood up again instantly. It was the unhappy
boy's only opportunity, and the court felt bound in humanity to hear
him. Turning his eyes upon Mr. Carman, he exclaimed:—
"Let him take his oath if he dare!"
Mr. Carman consulted with his counsel, and withdrew.
The judge then arose to pass sentence.
"In consideration of your youth, and the temptation to which in tender
years you were subjected, the court gives you the lightest
sentence,—one year's imprisonment. But let me solemnly warn you against
any further steps in the way you have taken. Crime can have no valid
excuse. It is evil in the sight of God and man, and leads only to
suffering. When you come forth again after your imprisonment, may it be
with the resolution to die rather than commit crime!"
A year afterward, when James Lewis came from prison, his mother was
dead. From the day her pale face faded from his vision as he passed from
the court-room, he never saw her again.
Ten years thereafter a man was reading a newspaper in a far Western
town. He had a calm, serious face, and looked like one who had known
suffering and trial.
"Brought to justice at last!" he said to himself, with deep emotion.
"Convicted on the charge of open insolvency, and sent to state prison.
So much for the man who gave me in tender years the first lessons in
wrong-doing. But thank God! another lesson,—the words of the judge,
spoken to me so many years ago,—have been remembered. 'When you come
forth again, may it be with the resolution to die rather than commit
crime!' and I have kept these words in my heart when there seemed no way
of escaping except through crime. And God helping me, I will remember
them as long as I live."
"A PICTURE OF GOD."
It is fairly pathetic what a stranger God is in His own world. He comes
to His own, and they who are His own kinsfolk keep Him standing outside
the door while they peer suspiciously at Him through the crack at the
To know God really, truly, is the beginning of a normal life. One of the
best pictures of God that I ever saw came to me in a simple story. It
was of a man, a minister, who lived in a New England town, who had a
son, about fourteen years of age, going to school. One afternoon the
boy's teacher called at the home, and asked for the father, and said:—
"Is your boy sick?"
"He was not at school to-day."
"Is that so?"
"You don't mean it!"
"Nor the day before."
"And I supposed he was sick."
"No, he's not sick."
"Well, I thought I should tell you."
And the father said, "Thank you," and the teacher left.
And the father sat thinking. By and by he heard a click at the gate, and
he knew the boy was coming, so he went to open the door. And the boy
knew as he looked up that his father knew about those three days. And
the father said:—
"Come into the library, Phil." And Phil went, and the door was shut. And
the father said: "Phil, your teacher was here this afternoon. He tells
me you were not at school to-day, nor yesterday nor the day before. And
we supposed you were. You let us think you were. And you do not know how
badly I feel. I have always trusted you. I have always said, 'I can
trust my boy Phil.' And here you've been a living lie for three whole
days. And I can't tell you how badly I feel about it."
Well, that was hard on Phil to be talked to quietly like that. If his
father had spoken to him roughly, or—had asked him out to the woodshed
for a confidential interview, it would not have been nearly so hard.
Then, after a moment's pause, the father said, "Phil, we'll get down and
pray." And the thing was getting harder for Phil all the time.
He didn't want to pray just then. And they got down. And the father
poured out his heart in prayer. And the boy knew as he listened how
badly his father felt over his conduct. Somehow he saw himself in the
mirror on his knees as he had not before. It's queer about that mirror
of the knee-joints. It does show so many things. Many folks don't like
And they got up. And the father's eyes were wet. And Phil's eyes were
not dry. Then the father said:—
"My boy, there's a law of life that where there is sin, there is
suffering. You can't detach those two things. Where there is suffering
there has been sin somewhere. And where there is sin there will be
suffering. You can't get these two things apart. Now," he went on, "you
have done wrong. And I am in this home like God is in the world. So we
will do this. You go up to the attic. I'll make a pallet for you there.
We'll take your meals up to you at the regular times, and you stay up
there as long as you've been a living lie—three days and three nights."
And Phil didn't say a word. They went up stairs, the pallet was made,
and the father kissed his boy and left him alone with his thoughts.
Supper time came, and the father and mother sat down to eat. But they
couldn't eat for thinking about the boy. The longer they chewed upon the
food, the bigger and dryer it got in their mouths. And swallowing it was
clear out of the question. Then they went into the sitting room for the
evening. He picked up the evening paper to read, and she sat down to
sew. Well, his eyes weren't very good. He wore glasses. And this evening
he couldn't seem to see distinctly—the glasses seemed blurred. It must
have been the glasses, of course. So he took them off and cleaned them
very deliberately and then found that he had been holding the paper
upside down. And she tried to sew. But the thread broke, and she
couldn't seem to get the needle threaded again. You could see they were
both bothered. How we do reveal ourselves in the details!
By and by the clock struck nine, and then ten, their usual hour for
retiring. But they made no move toward retiring. She said, "Aren't you
going to bed?" And he said, "I think I'll not go yet a bit; you go."
"No, I guess I'll wait a while, too." And the clock struck eleven, and
the hands worked around toward twelve. Then they arose, and locked up,
and went to bed, but—not to sleep. Each one made pretence to be asleep,
and each one knew the other was not asleep. By and by she said (women
are always the keener), "Why don't you sleep?" And he said gently, "How
did you know I wasn't sleeping? Why don't you sleep?"
"Well, I just can't for thinking of the boy up in the attic."
"That's the bother with me," he replied. And the clock in the hall
struck twelve, and one, and two. Still no sleep came.
At last he said, "Mother, I can't stand this any longer; I'm going up
stairs with Phil." And he took his pillow and went softly out of the
room, and up the attic stairs, and pressed the latch-key softly, so as
not to wake the boy if he were asleep, and tiptoed across the attic
floor to the corner by the window, and looked—there Phil lay, wide
awake, with something glistening in his eyes, and what looked like
stains on his cheeks. And the father got down in between the sheets with
his boy, and they got their arms around each other's necks, for they had
always been the best of friends, father and boy, and their tears got
mixed up on each other's cheeks. Then they slept. And the next night
when the time came for sleep, the father said, "Good-night, mother, I'm
going up stairs with Phil." And the second night he slept in the attic
with his boy. And the third night, again he said, "Mother, good-night,
I'm going up with the boy again." And the third night he slept in the
place of punishment with his son.
You are not surprised to know that to-day that boy, a man grown, is
telling the story of Jesus with tongue and life of flame in the heart of
Do you know, I think that father is the best picture of God I ever saw.
God could not take away sin. It's here. He could not take away suffering
out of kindness to man. For suffering is sin's index finger, saying,
"There's something wrong here." So He came down in the person of His
Son, and lay down alongside of man for three days and three nights.
That's God—our God. And beyond that He comes and puts His life
alongside of yours and mine, and makes us hate the bad, and long to be
pure. To be on intimate terms with Him, to live in the atmosphere of His
presence, to spend the day with Him—that is the true normal life.
IF YOU ARE ONLY HONEST
It is not best to try to still the voice of conscience by repeating the
popular maxim, "If you are only honest, that is all."
The mill was doing a great business that day, when Jack and David
Jamison rode up with their bag of corn to be ground. They lived on a
small farm five miles off the main road, and were not sorry at the
prospect of waiting several hours for their grist.
This would give them a chance of seeing something of the liveliness and
bustle of "The Corner," as that part of the village was called, where
stood the tavern, the store, and the mill.
Jack and David had plenty of time, and they ran about a great deal, here
and there, and saw and heard many things.
At last, a heavy shower coming on, they went back to the mill to eat
their lunch, and to inquire when their turn would come.
There they found the miller's son and the son of the squire engaged in
earnest conversation, which soon took Jack's attention. The miller's son
was urging upon the squire's son the importance of a correct
understanding of the Bible. But the squire's son only insisted that "It
doesn't matter what a man believes, if he is only sincere."
Jack was a vain, foolish fellow, and felt very much pleased with the
rattling off-hand speech of the squire's son, and he only wished that
he could talk as well; then he would put his old grandfather to
confusion—indeed he would.
"It is no matter what a man believes, provided he is sincere,"
muttered Jack, bracing his conscience against the godly conversation of
his relatives; "I'll fix 'em now," he said to himself, with a decided
nod of the head.
Late in the afternoon the boys' grist was ready; then the old horse was
brought out of the shed, the bag of meal placed across her back, and
Jack and David both mounted; boys, horse, and bag, all homeward bound.
"You have a longer ride ahead than I wish you had, boys," said the
miller, casting his eyes toward a dark cloud which was rising and
darkening the western sky; "there's plenty of water up there for my
But they set off briskly, and were soon lost to sight among the windings
of the forest road. But the gloom gathered faster than the horse
trotted, so that it was quite dark when they reached a fork in the road
where it might make considerable difference which road they took. One
was the main road; this way there was a good bridge over Bounding Brook,
a mountain stream which was often dangerously swollen by the spring
rains. It was the safest, though the longest way home.
The other was a wood path through the pines, which was the one often
taken by farmers living east of the town, to shorten the distance to The
Corner. In this road, Bounding Brook was crossed by fording.
"Father told us to be sure to take the traveled road if it was late,"
"Going to," asserted Jack, as he drew rein for a moment, at the division
of the roads.
But really, Jack was confused; the windings of the road, with nothing
but woods on each side, and, of course, no distinct landmarks to direct
them, together with the gloom of the night and their small acquaintance
with the roads, puzzled the boys not a little. But Jack, being the
older, wished to impress his brother with a sense of his superior
wisdom, and would not admit his confusion.
Quickly deciding which road he would take, he whipped up, exclaiming
conclusively, "it's all right!"
"Are you sure?" asked David.
"Certainly; I cannot be mistaken."
"I don't know," said David. "Let me jump off and run to that light
yonder; there must be a cabin there."
"Oh, we can't stop for all that," said Jack. "I honestly believe this
is the traveled road, David; can't you trust me?"
"But your honestly believing it, doesn't make it so," protested David.
"I haven't a doubt of it, Dave, you be still," cried Jack angrily.
"I think we ought to ask, so as to be sure," persisted David.
But Jack whipped up and poor David's words went to the winds, as gust
after gust of the coming shower roared through the forest, and Jack
urged the horse to all the speed which her heavy load would allow.
The self-willed lad was well pleased with his hasty decision, and the
farther he went, the more and more convinced was he that it was the
Presently the roaring of Bounding Brook arose above the noise of the
"We shall be over the bridge in a jiffy," cried Jack, "and then, old
fellow, what will you say?"
"I'd like to feel myself safely over," muttered David, when, before the
other could reply, Jack, David, horse, and meal went floundering into
the raging waters of the swollen stream. It was pitch dark; the storm
was on them, and they were miles from human help.
The first few moments of horrible suspense can scarcely be expressed.
Jack at last found himself anchored on a log of drift-wood, the icy
waters breaking over him, and the bridle still fast in his hand.
"David!" he shouted at the top of his voice, "David!"
"The Lord have mercy!" cried David, "I'm somewhere."
The meal? ah, that was making a pudding in some wild eddy of the
Bounding Brook far below.
"No matter what a man believes, provided he's sincere," cried poor Jack,
thoroughly drenched and humbled. "It's the biggest lie the devil ever
"It does matter. Being right is the main thing. Sincerity doesn't
save a fellow from the tremendous consequences of being wrong. It can't
get him out of trouble. He's obliged to endure it, no matter how
sincere he had been.
"Didn't I honestly believe I was on the right road, when I was like
going to perdition all the time?"
The experience of that night completely and forever cured poor Jack of a
common error which has brought many a poor soul into the wild surges of
unbelief and irreligion.
SIX THINGS BEHIND
"Rufus," said his mother, "did you mail the letter I gave you last
"Oh, mother, I forgot it! I meant to, but just then I had to go and get
some new shoe strings, so it went out of my mind."
"Didn't I speak of those strings yesterday?"
"Yes; but just then father called me to ask if I had weeded the pansy
bed the night before."
"And had you?"
"No, mother, I was just writing the letter you said must go to
"I thought you were to write that on Saturday."
"I meant to, but I had to do some examples that I didn't do on Friday,
so I hadn't time."
"Rufus," called his brother, "didn't you nail the broken slat on the
rabbit pen yesterday?"
"Oh!" Rufus sprang up in dismay. "I was just going to, but I hadn't
watered the house plants, and I went to do that, and then—"
"The rabbits are all out."
Rufus hastened to join in the hunt for the pets. In the course of his
search he came upon two tennis rackets which he had "meant to" bring in
the night before, and they were in bad condition.
"There now! It will cost ever so much to get these strung up. Why didn't
I take them in, anyway? I remember I hadn't locked the stable door when
father called me, and then I hurried to do it before he asked me again."
Later in the day, Rufus, with a penitent face, brought to his mother the
letter which should have been mailed. During the rabbit hunt it had
slipped out of his pocket, and one of his brothers had found it in the
damp clover. It was now a sorry-looking missive.
THE OLD BROWN HAND
The hand that pressed my fevered brow
Was withered, wasted, brown, and old;
Its work was almost over now,
As swollen veins and wrinkles told.
No longer brushing back my hair,
It gently rested on my wrist;
Its touch seemed sacred as a prayer
By the sweet breath of angels kissed.
I knew 'twas thin, and brown, and old,
With many a deep and honored seam,
Wearing one little band of gold,—
The only trace of youth's bright dream:
And yet o'er every mark of care,
In every wrinkle's mystic line,
I fancied jewels gleaming there
That wore a beauty all divine!
Another hand my fingers pressed—
'Twas like the lily dipped in snow;
Yet still it gave a wild unrest—
A weariness that none should know.
There pearls with costly diamonds gleamed,
And opals showed their changing glow,
As moonlight on the ice has beamed,
Or trembled on the stainless snow.
I caught again the old, brown hand,
And smoothed it fondly in my own,—
A woman's, though so old and tanned—
A woman's—brave and fearless grown.
Aye! it had labored long and well
To dry the tear, to soothe the pain;
Its own strong nerve to all would tell
That life has work which brings no shame.
We love the pretty hand that rests
In gentle fondness on our own,
With nails like rosy calyx pressed
Upon a pearly, stainless cone;
But sacred is the healthful palm
Which smooths the ills that round us band;
The many feel its sacred balm,
And holy seems the old brown hand!