The Young Artist
WELL done, little one! A very pretty tune, and very nicely sung!”
The speaker was a stranger who had just come in sight of the
pretty cottage where Robbie and Maria Barnes lived with their widowed
mother, and outside of which the little singer sat nursing the baby, while
Robbie chopped wood at a little distance.
The widow, hearing a stranger’s voice, came to the door, and seeing that
he appeared to have been walking far invited him to come in and take a rest.
This he very gladly did; and while she dusted a chair for him, Mary brought
a mug of fresh milk, and they were soon on very friendly terms with him.
He said that he was an artist, and that he had come to that part of the
country for a time to take sketches of the scenery around; that he was at
present staying at the village inn, but that he would be very glad if they could
arrange to let him live with them for a few weeks. This was agreed upon, and
on the next day Mr. Page—for that was the stranger’s name—took up his
abode in the widow Paul’s cottage.
Very pleased Robbie and Maria were with him; and when he came home
from his rambles and sat under the shade of the large tree by the side of the
house finishing the sketches he had taken, they would stand looking on with
wondering interest. Robbie especially, who had never seen any other pictures
than those in his spelling-book, was rapt in amazement as he saw hills, rivers,
flowers, trees and animals start up into seeming life under the artist’s hand.
Mr. Page, seeing how interested the boy was in what he saw, invited him to
accompany him in his rambles. Robbie did so, and many valuable things he
learned in these pleasant wanderings.
When the time came for Mr. Page to leave these simple cottagers, he was
as sorry to go as they were to part with him; and he promised that if he lived
and prospered, he would endeavor to do something for his favorite, Robbie.
This visit of the artist to their humble abode became the turning-point in
Robbie’s life. An idea had taken possession of the boy’s mind. Why should
he not learn to be an artist like Mr. Page? He had watched very carefully
the manner in which that gentleman proceeded when taking sketches of the
objects around him; he had begun himself to look upon those objects with
very different eyes from what he had been accustomed to, and felt sure that
with patience and perseverance he could master the art of drawing and painting
His first attempt was a rough sketch of grandma on his slate. It was done
with a few strokes of the pencil, but there was really some likeness to the
dear old lady in it, and mother felt sure her boy would some day be an
THE YOUNG ARTIST.
Several weeks passed away, and at length he thought he might attempt the
portrait of his little dog, “Pink,” and, if he could succeed to his satisfaction,
he determined that he would carry it home and surprise his mother with it.
After much patient labor he finished his task, and showed the sketch first of
all to his friend Thomas, who being much pleased with it, they hastened at
once to Robbie’s home with it. Watching their opportunity, they stood the
picture unobserved against the wall, and waited to see the effect it would produce.
Little Maria was the first to notice it. “Oh, mother,” she cried,
“here’s a picture of Pinky! Do come and look at it! Isn’t it real?”
The widow turned from her work to look.
“Why, so it is,” she exclaimed. “Who painted it, Robbie? Where did
you get it from?”
“Robbie did it himself,” cried Thomas, unable to keep the secret any
“Robbie did it?” echoed the widow, with a look of bewilderment. “You
painted it, Robbie?”
“Yes, mother,” laughed Robbie, enjoying her perplexity; “I did it all
myself. I have been learning unknown to you. If I can learn to paint
as well as Mr. Page, mother, eh! Sha’n’t I be able to help you then,
She smiled and kissed him. His cleverness was pleasing to her, but his
loving ambition to be of service to her was still more grateful to her mother’s
The famous Benjamin West said his mother’s kiss made him a painter.
Robbie Barnes might have said the same thing, for from that moment he was
more than ever determined to persevere. A few weeks after this, Robbie and
Thomas were out in the woods together. It was a holiday with them both,
and Robbie had determined to spend the time in sketching a certain landscape
he had in view. They had brought their dinner with them; and while
Robbie was drawing, Thomas laid out the provisions. Having got it all ready,
he went off to the brook to fetch a mug of water, and as he returned called to
Robbie to come to dinner. But what was his annoyance, as he came near, to
see the mischievous dog munching the last piece of cheese? In sudden
passion he caught up a stick and gave chase to Pink, who scampered off with
the cheese in his mouth. Robbie was so amused at the comical scene that he
thought he would attempt a painting of it, and this idea set Thomas laughing
as heartily as himself. It was weeks before he had finished the sketch; but
when it was completed, it made a striking picture for a boy of his age.
Years passed, and Robbie worked faithfully at his painting, and made such
progress that Mr. Moring urged him to go with him on a visit to the neighboring
city, where he could see some gentlemen who might be able to assist him
in his desire of becoming a painter. Robbie was unwilling to leave his mother,
but she was resolved he should not lose the opportunity for her; and shortly
afterward Robbie, with Thomas and Mr. Moring, was on his way to the great
city, which he had never seen before. Arrived there, Mr. Moring took him
to an exhibition of pictures, and there introduced him again to his old friend
Mr. Page. The artist, to whom Mr. Moring had already showed the painting
of the dog running off with the dinner, was exceedingly surprised that a boy
so entirely self-taught should have made such progress, and was pleased indeed
to see him again. His judgment of the merits of Robbie’s work was
such that Mr. Moring undertook to have the boy instructed by one of the best
teachers of drawing, and so put him in a fair way of attaining that upon
which his heart was set—the becoming a painter like Mr. Page. Robbie’s
mother, though sad to part with him, gratefully consented to his leaving his
home for a time for this purpose; and though Robbie was much troubled to
think what his mother would do without the little help he had been able to
render her, he was persuaded that the best way to serve her was to improve
himself. He had not been long away before a message came to his mother
telling her that he could earn enough by the sale of his little drawings to pay
one of the village-lads to fetch wood and water, and to do other little things
for her; that he was improving very fast, and that he had good reason to hope
that he should one day be able to earn enough to keep them all in comfort.
Little Maria was busy braiding straw when this message came.
“I shall not want Robbie to work for me, mother,” she said. “I shall
soon be able to earn my own living, and I will help to support our dear
mother when she grows old.”
“God bless you, my child!” said the happy mother. “With such dutiful
children as you and your dear brother, no mother need fear to grow old.”
YOU’RE starting to-day on life’s journey,
Along on the highway of life;
You’ll meet with a thousand temptations;
Each city with evil is rife.
This world is a stage of excitement;
There’s danger wherever you go;
But if you are tempted in weakness,
Have courage, my boy, to say NO!