Little Andy and his Grandfather

by Grace Greenwood

In the county of Waterford once lived an honest old farmer, by the name of Walsh. His wife died young, and left him one only child—a son, of whom he was very proud. And Patrick Walsh was worthy of a great deal of affection and respect; for he was a fine, amiable, industrious young man.

Unfortunately, Patrick fell in love with a proud, handsome young woman, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer in the neighborhood, and finally persuaded her to marry him, though she gave him to understand pretty plainly that she thought she was condescending not a little in doing so.

Why, the Mullowneys (she was a Mullowney) actually had three rooms in their cabin, and kept a horse, two cows, a goat, and a good-sized donkey! And then, they had relations who were very well off in the world—in particular, some fourth cousins, who kept a draper's shop in Waterford, who, though they never visited the country Mullowneys, couldn't help being an honor to the family. So it was little wonder that "Peggy Mullowney Walsh," as she always insisted on being called, held her pretty nose rather high, and curled her red lip a little scornfully, as she stepped into the neat, but humble cabin of her handsome young husband. Old Mr. Walsh felt for Patrick, and in order to make his fortune equal the goods and the honors which his wife had brought him, he made over to him the farm and all his possessions, and left himself a pennyless dependent upon his son and daughter-in-law.

All went well for a few years, for Patrick honored and loved his father, and did all that he could to make him happy and comfortable. But I am sorry to say that Mrs. Peggy never was very kind to him. With her high notions, she rather looked down upon him than felt grateful to him for being simple enough to give up all his property to his son. Then she was selfish and violent tempered, and did not like "the bother of an ould body like him about the cabin." Still, she bore with him, for he made himself quite useful, mostly in taking care of the children, especially of the oldest boy, Andy. This child was all the comfort the old grandfather had. He was always gentle and loving to him, and made him as little trouble as possible. Sometimes, when the poor old man was lying awake at night, grieving over the hard, scornful treatment of his proud daughter-in-law, and praying God to take him to a home of peace and love, where he would never be "in the way" any more, little Andy would hear his low sobs, and go to him, creep close to his desolate old heart, and whisper—

"Don't cry, gran'daddy—I love you wid all my heart, avourneen."

But the older and more feeble her father-in-law grew, the more unkindly Mrs. Peggy treated him, till she made the cabin such a scene of constant storm and confusion that everybody in it was wretched. At last, old Mr. Walsh came to a resolution to put an end to all this trouble. He would take to the road—that is, go a-begging. "The Lord will take care of me," he said: "He who feeds the sparrows will put it into the hearts of good Christians to give me all that I need."

Of course, Patrick was sad at the thought of his old father becoming a mendicant; but he was a peaceable man and ruled by his wife; he was tired of her scolding and complaints, and so, at last, consented.

As for Mrs. Peggy, she was very glad; she thought it was the best thing the "ould body" could do, and set about making a beggar's bag for him at once. He was to start the next morning.

Little Andy heard all the talk, but did not say any thing. He sat in a corner, busily at work, sewing up his bib.

"What's that yer doing, Andy, darling?" said his father.

The child looked up at him sadly and reproachfully, and answered,—"Making a bag for you to go beg—when you're as old as gran'daddy."

Patrick Walsh burst into tears, flung his arms around his old father's neck, and begged his forgiveness. And even the proud Peggy was so affected that she fell upon her knees and asked pardon of God, of her husband and his father, for her undutiful conduct. For his part, the good old man forgave her at once. I need hardly say that he never went on the road; for, from that hour, Peggy was a better and gentler woman, and tried hard to make her house a happy home for her father-in-law, and so, for all her family. To be sure, her besetting sins—pride and temper—would break out once in a while, but God was stronger than either; she prayed to Him, and He gave her strength to get the better of them at last.

Grandfather Walsh lived in comfort and content several years, and on his peaceful death-bed, blessed his son and daughter, and their children, very solemnly and lovingly. When all thought that he was gone, little Andy, who had been very quiet till then, began to cry aloud. The good old man, whose soul was just at the gates of heaven, heard him, opened his eyes, reached out his hand, and blessed his darling once more. Then he died.