Wednesday, November 7, 2007



{about 50 titles}
The Boys
"PAUL PRESCOTT'S CHARGE" is presented to
the public as the second volume of the Campaign
Series. Though wholly unlike the first
volume, it is written in furtherance of the same
main idea, that every boy's life is a campaign,
more or less difficult, in which success depends
upon integrity and a steadfast adherence to duty.
How Paul Prescott gained strength by
battling with adverse circumstances, and, under
all discouragements, kept steadily before him
the charge which he received from his dying
father, is fully told; and the author will be
glad if the record shall prove an incentive and
an encouragement to those boys who may have
a similar campaign before them.
The speaker was a tall, pompous-looking
man, whose age appeared to verge close upon
fifty. He was sitting bolt upright in a highbacked
chair, and looked as if it would be
quite impossible to deviate from his position
of unbending rigidity.
Squire Benjamin Newcome, as he was
called, in the right of his position as Justice
of the Peace, Chairman of the Selectmen, and
wealthiest resident of Wrenville, was a man
of rule and measure. He was measured in his
walk, measured in his utterance, and measured
in all his transactions. He might be
called a dignified machine. He had a very
exalted conception of his own position, and the
respect which he felt to be his due, not only
from his own household, but from all who
approached him. If the President of the United
States had called upon him, Squire Newcome
would very probably have felt that he himself
was the party who conferred distinction, and
not received it.
Squire Newcome was a widower. His wife,
who was as different from himself as could well
be conceived, did not live long after marriage.
She was chilled to death, as it was thought, by
the dignified iceberg of whose establishment
she had become a part. She had left, however,
a child, who had now grown to be a boy
of twelve. This boy was a thorn in the side
of his father, who had endeavored in vain to
mould him according to his idea of propriety.
But Ben was gifted with a spirit of fun, sometimes
running into mischief, which was constantly
bursting out in new directions, in spite
of his father's numerous and rather prosy lectures.
"Han-nah!" again called Squire Newcome,
separating the two syllables by a pause of
deliberation, and strongly accenting the last
syllable,--a habit of his with all proper names.
Hannah was the Irish servant of all work,
who was just then engaged in mixing up bread
in the room adjoining, which was the kitchen.
Feeling a natural reluctance to appear
before her employer with her hands covered with
dough, she hastily washed them. All this,
however, took time, and before she responded
to the first summons, the second "Han-nah!"
delivered with a little sharp emphasis, had
been uttered.
At length she appeared at the door of the
"Han-nah!" said Squire Newcome, fixing
his cold gray eye upon her, "when you hear my
voice a calling you, it is your duty to answer
the summons IMMEJIATELY."
I have endeavored to represent the Squire's
pronunciation of the last word.
"So I would have come IMMEJOUSLY," said
Hannah, displaying a most reprehensible
ignorance, "but me hands were all covered
with flour."
"That makes no difference," interrupted the
Squire. "Flour is an accidental circumstance."
"What's that?" thought Hannah, opening
her eyes in amazement.
"And should not be allowed to interpose an
obstacle to an IMMEJIATE answer to my summons."
"Sir," said Hannah, who guessed at the
meaning though she did not understand the
words, "you wouldn't have me dirty the doorhandle
with me doughy hands?"
"That could easily be remedied by ablution."
"There ain't any ablution in the house,"
said the mystified Hannah.
"I mean," Squire Newcome condescended
to explain, "the application of water--in
short, washing."
"Shure," said Hannah, as light broke in
upon her mind, "I never knew that was what
they called it before."
"Is Ben-ja-min at home?"
"Yes, sir. He was out playin' in the yard
a minute ago. I guess you can see him from
the winder."
So saying she stepped forward, and looking
out, all at once gave a shrill scream, and
rushed from the room, leaving her employer
in his bolt-upright attitude gazing after
her with as much astonishment as he was
capable of.
The cause of her sudden exit was revealed
on looking out of the window.
Master Benjamin, or Ben, as he was called
everywhere except in his own family, had got
possession of the black kitten, and appeared to
be submerging her in the hogshead of rainwater.
"O, you wicked, cruel boy, to drown poor
Kitty!" exclaimed the indignant Hannah,
rushing into the yard and endeavoring to
snatch her feline favorite--an attempt which
Ben stoutly resisted.
Doubtless the poor kitten would have fared
badly between the two, had not the window
opened, and the deliberate voice of his father,
called out in tones which Ben saw fit to heed.
"Come into my presence immejiately, and
learn to answer me with more respect."
Ben came in looking half defiant.
His father, whose perpendicularity made
him look like a sitting grenadier, commenced
the examination thus:--
"I wish you to inform me what you was a
doing of when I spoke to you."
It will be observed that the Squire's dignified
utterances were sometimes a little at variance
with the rule of the best modern grammarians.
"I was trying to prevent Hannah from
taking the kitten," said Ben.
"What was you a doing of before Hannah
went out?"
"Playing with Kitty."
"Why were you standing near the hogshead, Benjamin?"
"Why," said Ben, ingenuously, "the
hogshead happened to be near me--that was all."
"Were you not trying to drown the kitten?"
"O, I wouldn't drown her for anything,"
said Ben with an injured expression, mentally
adding, "short of a three-cent piece."
"Then, to repeat my interrogatory, what
was you a doing of with the kitten in the hogshead?"
"I was teaching her to swim," said Ben,
looking out of the corner of his eye at his
father, to see what impression this explanation
made upon him.
"And what advantageous result do you
think would be brought about by teaching of
the kitten to swim, Benjamin?" persisted his
"Advantageous result!" repeated Ben,
demurely, pretending not to understand.
"What does that mean?"
"Do you not study your dictionary at
school, Benjamin?"
"Yes, but I don't like it much."
"You are very much in error. You will
never learn to employ your tongue with elegance
and precision, unless you engage in this
beneficial study."
"I can use my tongue well enough, without
studying grammar," said Ben. He proceeded
to illustrate the truth of this assertion
by twisting his tongue about in a comical
"Tongue," exclaimed his father, "is but
another name for language I mean your
native language."
Ben was about to leave the room to avoid
further questions of an embarrassing nature,
when his father interrupted his exit by saying--
"Stay, Benjamin, do not withdraw till I
have made all the inquiries which I intend."
The boy unwillingly returned.
"You have not answered my question."
"I've forgotten what it was."
"What good would it do?" asked the
Squire, simplifying his speech to reach Ben's
comprehension, "what good would it do to
teach the kitten to swim?"
"O, I thought," said Ben, hesitating, "that
some time or other she might happen to fall
into the water, and might not be able to get
out unless she knew how."
"I think," said his father with an unusual
display of sagacity, "that she will be in much
greater hazard of drowning while learning to
swim under your direction than by any other
chance likely to befall her."
"Shouldn't wonder," was Ben's mental comment,
"Pretty cute for you, dad."
Fortunately, Ben did not express his
thoughts aloud. They would have implied
such an utter lack of respect that the Squire
would have been quite overwhelmed by the
reflection that his impressive manners had
produced no greater effect on one who had so
excellent a chance of being impressed by them.
"Benjamin," concluded his father, "I have
an errand for you to execute. You may go to
Mr. Prescott's and see if he is yet living. I
hear that he is a lying on the brink of the
An expression of sadness stole over the
usually merry face of Ben, as he started on his
"Poor Paul!" he thought, "what will he do
when his father dies? He's such a capital
fellow, too. I just wish I had a wagon load
of money, I do, and I'd give him half. That's
We will precede Ben on his visit to the house
of Mr. Prescott.
It was an old weather-beaten house, of one
story, about half a mile distant from 'Squire
Newcome's residence. The Prescott family
had lived here for five years, or ever since they
had removed to Wrenville. Until within a
year they had lived comfortably, when two
blows came in quick succession. The first was
the death of Mrs. Prescott, an excellent woman,
whose loss was deeply felt by her husband
and son. Soon afterwards Mr. Prescott, a
carpenter by trade, while at work upon the
roof of a high building, fell off, and not only
broke his leg badly, but suffered some internal
injury of a still more serious nature. He had
not been able to do a stroke of work since.
After some months it became evident that he
would never recover. A year had now passed.
During this time his expenses had swallowed
up the small amount which he had succeeded
in laying up previous to his sickness. It was
clear that at his death there would be nothing
left. At thirteen years of age Paul would have
to begin the world without a penny.
Mr. Prescott lay upon a bed in a small bedroom
adjoining the kitchen. Paul, a thoughtfullooking
boy sat beside it, ready to answer
his call.
There had been silence for some time, when
Mr. Prescott called feebly--
"I am here, father," said Paul.
"I am almost gone, Paul, I don't think I
shall last through the day."
"O, father," said Paul, sorrowfully, "Don't
leave me."
"That is the only grief I have in dying--I
must leave you to struggle for yourself, Paul.
I shall be able to leave you absolutely nothing."
"Don't think of that, father. I am young
and strong--I can earn my living in some
"I hoped to live long enough to give you
an education. I wanted you to have a fairer
start in the world than I had."
"Never mind, father," said Paul, soothingly,
"Don't be uneasy about me. God will provide
for me."
Again there was a silence, broken only by
the difficult breathing of the sick man.
He spoke again.
"There is one thing, Paul, that I want to
tell you before I die."
Paul drew closer to the bedside.
"It is something which has troubled me as
I lay here. I shall feel easier for speaking of
it. You remember that we lived at Cedarville
before we came here."
"Yes, father."
"About two years before we left there, a
promising speculation was brought to my
notice. An agent of a Lake Superior mine
visited our village and represented the mine in
so favorable a light that many of my neighbors
bought shares, fully expecting to double their
money in a year. Among the rest I was attacked
with the fever of speculation. I had
always been obliged to work hard for a moderate
compensation, and had not been able to
do much more than support my family. This
it seemed to me, afforded an excellent opportunity
of laying up a little something which
might render me secure in the event of a sudden
attack of sickness. I had but about two
hundred dollars, however, and from so scanty
an investment I could not, of course, expect a
large return; accordingly I went to Squire
Conant; you remember him, Paul?"
"Yes, father."
`I went to him and asked a loan of five hundred
dollars. After some hesitation he agreed
to lend it to me. He was fond of his money
and not much given to lending, but it so happened
that he had invested in the same speculation,
and had a high opinion of it, so he felt
pretty safe in advancing me the money. Well,
this loan gave me seven hundred dollars, with
which I purchased seven shares in the Lake
Superior Grand Combination Mining Company.
For some months afterwards, I felt
like a rich man. I carefully put away my
certificate of stock, looking upon it as the
beginning of a competence. But at the end of six
months the bubble burst--the stock proved to
be utterly worthless,--Squire Conant lost five
thousand dollars. I lost seven hundred, five
hundred being borrowed money. The Squire's
loss was much larger, but mine was the more
serious, since I lost everything and was
plunged into debt, while he had at least forty
thousand dollars left.
"Two days after the explosion, Squire
Conant came into my shop and asked abruptly
when I could pay him the amount I had borrowed.
I told him that I could not fix a time.
I said that I had been overwhelmed by a result
so contrary to my anticipations, but I told
him I would not rest till I had done something
to satisfy his claim. He was always an
unreasonable man, and reproached me bitterly
for sinking his money in a useless speculation,
as if I could foresee how it would end any better
than he."
"Have you ever been able to pay back any
part of the five hundred dollars, father?"
"I have paid the interest regularly, and a
year ago, just before I met with my accident,
I had laid up a hundred and fifty dollars which
I had intended to pay the Squire, but when my
sickness came I felt obliged to retain it to defray
our expenses, being cut off from earning
"Then I suppose you have not been able to
pay interest for the last year."
"Have you heard from the Squire lately?"
"Yes, I had a letter only last week. You
remember bringing me one postmarked Cedarville?"
"Yes, I wondered at the time who it could
be from."
"You will find it on the mantelpiece. I
should like to have you get it and read it."
Paul readily found the letter. It was
enclosed in a brown envelope, directed in a bold
hand to "Mr. John Prescott, Wrenville."
The letter was as follows:--
SIR: I have been waiting impatiently to hear something
about the five hundred dollars in which sum you are indebted
to me, on account of a loan which I was fool enough to make
you seven years since. I thought you an honest man, but I
have found, to my cost, that I was mistaken. For the last
year you have even failed to pay interest as stipulated between
us. Your intention is evident. I quite understand that you
have made up your mind to defraud me of what is rightfully
mine. I don't know how you may regard this, but I consider
it as bad as highway robbery. I do not hesitate to say that
if you had your deserts you would be in the Penitentiary.
Let me advise you, if you wish to avoid further trouble, to
make no delay in paying a portion of this debt.
Yours, etc.
Paul's face flushed with indignation as he
read this bitter and cruel letter.
"Does Squire Conant know that you are
sick, father?" he inquired.
"Yes, I wrote him about my accident, telling
him at the same time that I regretted it in
part on account of the interruption which it
must occasion in my payments."
"And knowing this, he wrote such a letter
as that," said Paul, indignantly, "what a hard,
unfeeling wretch he must be!"
"I suppose it is vexatious to him to be kept
out of his money."
"But he has plenty more. He would never
miss it if he had given it to you outright."
"That is not the way to look at it, Paul.
The money is justly his, and it is a great sorrow
to me that I must die without paying it."
"Father," said Paul, after a pause, "will it
be any relief to you, if I promise to pay it,--
that is, if I am ever able?"
Mr. Prescott's face brightened.
"That was what I wanted to ask you, Paul.
It will be a comfort to me to feel thar there is
some hope of the debt being paid at some
future day."
"Then don't let it trouble you any longer,
father. The debt shall be mine, and I will pay
Again a shadow passed over the sick man's
face, "Poor boy," he said, "why should I
burden your young life with such a load? You
will have to struggle hard enough as it is. No,
Paul, recall your promise. I don't want to
purchase comfort at such a price."
"No, father," said Paul sturdily, "it is too
late now. I have made the promise and I mean
to stick to it. Besides, it will give me something
to live for. I am young--I may have a
great many years before me. For thirteen
years you have supported me. It is only right
that I should make what return I can. I'll
keep my promise, father."
"May God help and prosper you, my boy,"
said Mr. Prescott, solemnly. "You've been a
good son; I pray that you may grow up to be a
good man. But, my dear, I feel tired. I think
I will try to go to sleep."
Paul smoothed the comforter, adjusting it
carefully about his father's neck, and going
to the door went out in search of some wood
to place upon the fire. Their scanty stock of
firewood was exhausted, and Paul was obliged
to go into the woods near by, to obtain such
loose fagots as he might find upon the ground.
He was coming back with his load when his
attention was drawn by a whistle. Looking up
he discovered Ben Newcome approaching him.
"How are you, Paul?"
"Pretty well, Ben."
"How precious lonesome you must be,
mewed up in the house all the time."
"Yes, it is lonesome, but I wouldn't mind
that if I thought father would ever get any
"How is he this morning?"
"Pretty low; I expect he is asleep. He said
he was tired just before I went out."
"I brought over something for you," said
Ben, tugging away at his pocket.
Opening a paper he displayed a couple of
apple turnovers fried brown.
"I found 'em in the closet," he said.
"Won't Hannah make a precious row when
she finds 'em gone?"
"Then I don't know as I ought to take
them," said Paul, though, to tell the truth,
they looked tempting to him.
"O, nonsense," said Ben; "they don't belong
to Hannah. She only likes to scold a
little; it does her good."
The two boys sat on the doorstep and talked
while Paul ate the turnovers. Ben watched
the process with much satisfaction.
"Ain't they prime?" he said.
"First rate," said Paul; `won't you have
"No," said Ben; "you see I thought while
I was about it I might as well take four, so I
ate two coming along."
In about fifteen minutes Paul went into the
house to look at his father. He was lying very
quietly upon the bed. Paul drew near and
looked at him more closely. There was something
in the expression of his father's face
which terrified him.
Ben heard his sudden cry of dismay, and
hurriedly entered.
Paul pointed to the bed, and said briefly,
"Father's dead!"
Ben, who in spite of his mischievous
propensities was gifted with a warm heart, sat
down beside Paul, and passing his arm round
his neck, gave him that silent sympathy which
is always so grateful to the grief-stricken heart.
Two days later, the funeral of Mr. Prescott
took place.
Poor Paul! It seemed to him a dream of
inexpressible sorrow. His father and mother
both gone, he felt that he was indeed left alone
in the world. No thought of the future had
yet entered his mind. He was wholly occupied
with his present sorrow. Desolate at heart he
slipped away from the graveyard after the
funeral ceremony was over, and took his way
back again to the lonely dwelling which he had
called home.
As he was sitting in the corner, plunged in
sorrowful thought, there was a scraping heard
at the door, and a loud hem!
Looking up, Paul saw entering the cottage
the stiff form of Squire Benjamin Newcome,
who, as has already been stated, was the
"Paul," said the Squire, with measured deliberation.
"Do you mean me, sir?" asked Paul,
vaguely conscious that his name had been called.
"Did I not address you by your baptismal
appellation?" demanded the Squire, who
thought the boy's question superfluous.
"Paul," pursued Squire Newcome, "have
you thought of your future destination?"
"No, sir," said Paul, "I suppose I shall live here."
"That arrangement would not be consistent
with propriety. I suppose you are aware that
your deceased parent left little or no worldly
"I know he was poor."
"Therefore it has been thought best that
you should be placed in charge of a worthy
man, who I see is now approaching the house.
You will therefore accompany him without
resistance. If you obey him and read the
Bible regularly, you will--ahem!--you will
some time or other see the advantage of it."
With this consolatory remark Squire Newcome
wheeled about and strode out of the
Immediately afterwards there entered a
rough-looking man arrayed in a farmer's blue frock.
"You're to come with me, youngster," said
Mr. Nicholas Mudge, for that was his name.
"With you?" said Paul, recoiling instinctively.
In fact there was nothing attractive in the
appearance or manners of Mr. Mudge. He had
a coarse hard face, while his head was surmounted
by a shock of red hair, which to all
appearance had suffered little interference
from the comb for a time which the observer
would scarcely venture to compute. There
was such an utter absence of refinement about
the man, that Paul, who had been accustomed
to the gentle manners of his father, was repelled
by the contrast which this man exhibited.
"To be sure you're to go with me," said Mr.
Mudge. "You did not calc'late you was a
goin' to stay here by yourself, did you? We've
got a better place for you than that. But the
wagon's waitin' outside, so just be lively and
bundle in, and I'll carry you to where you're
a goin' to live."
"Where's that?"
"Wal, some folks call it the Poor House, but
it ain't any the worse for that, I expect. Anyhow,
them as has no money may feel themselves
lucky to get so good a home. So jest be
a movin', for I can't be a waitin' here all day."
Paul quietly submitted himself to the guidance
of Mr. Mudge. He was so occupied with
the thought of his sad loss that he did not
realize the change that was about to take
place in his circumstances.
About half a mile from the village in the
bleakest and most desolate part of the town,
stood the Poor House. It was a crazy old
building of extreme antiquity, which, being no
longer considered fit for an ordinary dwellinghouse,
had been selected as a suitable residence
for the town's poor. It was bleak and comfortless
to be sure, but on that very account
had been purchased at a trifling expense, and
that was, of course, a primary consideration.
Connected with the house were some dozen
acres of rough-looking land, plentifully overspread
with stones, which might have filled
with despair the most enterprising agriculturist.
However, it had this recommendation at
least, that it was quite in character with the
buildings upon it, which in addition to the
house already described, consisted of a barn
of equal antiquity and a pig pen.
This magnificent domain was under the
superintendence of Mr. Nicholas Mudge, who in
consideration of taking charge of the town
paupers had the use of the farm and buildings,
rent free, together with a stipulated weekly
sum for each of the inmates.
"Well, Paul," said Mr. Mudge, as they
approached the house, in a tone which was meant
to be encouraging, "this is goin' to be your
home. How do you like it?"
Thus addressed, Paul ventured a glance around him.
`I don't know," said he, doubtfully;
"it don't look very pleasant."
"Don't look very pleasant!" repeated Mr.
Mudge in a tone of mingled amazement and
indignation. "Well, there's gratitude for you.
After the town has been at the expense of providin'
a nice, comfortable home for you, because
you haven't got any of your own, you
must turn up your nose at it."
"I didn't mean to complain," said Paul,
feeling very little interest in the matter.
"Perhaps you expected to live in a marble
palace," pursued Mr. Mudge, in an injured
tone. "We don't have any marble palaces in
this neighborhood, we don't."
Paul disclaimed any such anticipation.
Mr. Mudge deigned to accept Paul's apology,
and as they had now reached the door,
unceremoniously threw it open, and led the way
into a room with floor unpainted, which, to
judge from its appearance, was used as a
Everything was "at sixes and sevens," as
the saying is, in the room Mr. Mudge and Paul
had just entered. In the midst of the scene
was a large stout woman, in a faded calico
dress, and sleeves rolled up, working as if her
life or the world's destiny depended upon it.
It was evident from the first words of Mr.
Mudge that this lady was his helpmeet.
"Well, wife," he said, "I've brought you
another boarder. You must try to make him as
happy and contented as the rest of 'em are."
From the tone of the speaker, the last words
might be understood to be jocular.
Mrs. Mudge, whose style of beauty was not
improved by a decided squint, fixed a scrutinizing
gaze upon Paul, and he quite naturally
returned it.
"Haven't you ever seen anybody before,
boy? I guess you'll know me next time."
"Shouldn't wonder if he did," chuckled Mr. Mudge.
"I don't know where on earth we shall put
him," remarked the lady. "We're full now."
"Oh, put him anywhere. I suppose you won't be
very particular about your accommodations?"
said Mr. Mudge turning to Paul.
Paul very innocently answered in the negative,
thereby affording Mr. Mudge not a little amusement.
"Well, that's lucky," he said, "because our
best front chamber's occupied just now. We'd
have got it ready for you if you'd only wrote a
week ago to tell us you were coming. You
can just stay round here," he said in a different
tone as he was about leaving the room,
"Mrs. Mudge will maybe want you to do something
for her. You can sit down till she calls on you."
It was washing day with Mrs. Mudge, and
of course she was extremely busy. The water
was to be brought from a well in the yard, and
to this office Paul was at once delegated. It
was no easy task, the full pails tugging most
unmercifully at his arms. However, this was
soon over, and Mrs. Mudge graciously gave
him permission to go into the adjoining room,
and make acquaintance with his fellow-boarders.
There were nine of them in all, Paul, the
newcomer making the tenth. They were all
advanced in years, except one young woman,
who was prevented by mental aberration from
supporting herself outside the walls of
the Institution.
Of all present, Paul's attention was most
strongly attracted towards one who appeared
more neatly and scrupulously attired than any
of the rest.
Aunt Lucy Lee, or plain Aunt Lucy, for in
her present abode she had small use for her
last name, was a benevolent-looking old lady,
who both in dress and manners was distinguished
from her companions. She rose from
her knitting, and kindly took Paul by the hand.
Children are instinctive readers of character,
and Paul, after one glance at her benevolent
face, seated himself contentedly beside her.
"I suppose," said the old lady, socially,
"you've come to live with us. We must do all
we can to make you comfortable. Your name
is Paul Prescott, I think Mrs. Mudge said."
"Yes, ma'am" answered Paul, watching the
rapid movement of the old lady's fingers.
"Mine is Aunt Lucy," she continued, "that
is what everybody calls me. So now we know
each other, and shall soon be good friends, I
hope. I suppose you have hardly been here
long enough to tell how you shall like it."
Paul confessed that thus far he did not find
it very pleasant.
"No, I dare say not," said Aunt Lucy, "I
can't say I think it looks very attractive
myself. However, it isn't wholly the fault of Mr.
and Mrs. Mudge. They can't afford to do
much better, for the town allows them very little."
Aunt Lucy's remarks were here interrupted
by the apparition of the worthy landlady at
the door.
"Dinner's ready, folks," said that lady, with
little ceremony, "and you must come out
quick if you want any, for I'm drove with
work, and can't be hindered long."
The summons was obeyed with alacrity, and
the company made all haste to the dining-room,
or rather the kitchen, for it was here that the
meals were eaten.
In the center of the room was set a table
without a cloth, a table-cloth being considered
a luxury quite superfluous. Upon this were
placed several bowls of thin, watery liquid,
intended for soup, but which, like city milk, was
diluted so as hardly to be distinguishable.
Beside each bowl was a slice of bread.
Such was the bill of fare.
"Now, folks, the sooner you fall to the
better," exclaimed the energetic Mrs. Mudge, who
was one of those driving characters, who
consider any time spent at the table beyond ten
minutes as so much time wasted.
The present company appeared to need no
second invitation. Their scanty diet had the
positive advantage of giving them a good
appetite; otherwise the quality of their food
might have daunted them.
Paul took his place beside Aunt Lucy.
Mechanically he did as the rest, carrying to his
mouth a spoonful of the liquid. But his appetite
was not sufficiently accustomed to Poor House regime
to enable him to relish its standing dish, and he laid
down his spoon with a disappointed look.
He next attacked the crust of bread, but
found it too dry to be palatable.
"Please, ma'am," said he to Mrs. Mudge,
"I should like some butter."
Paul's companions dropped their spoons in
astonishment at his daring, and Mrs. Mudge
let fall a kettle she was removing from the fire,
in sheer amazement.
"What did you ask for?" she inquired, as if
to make sure that her ears did not deceive her.
"A little butter," repeated Paul, unconscious
of the great presumption of which he had been guilty.
"You want butter, do you?" repeated Mr. Mudge.
"Perhaps you'd like a slice of beefsteak
and a piece of plum-pudding too, wouldn't you?"
"I should very much," said Paul, resolved
to tell the truth, although he now began to
perceive the sarcasm in his landlady's tone.
"There isn't anything more you would like,
is there?" inquired the lady, with mock politeness.
"No, ma'am," returned Paul after a pause,
"I believe not, to-day."
"Very moderate, upon my word," exclaimed
Mrs. Mudge, giving vent at length to her pentup
indignation. "You'll be contented with
butter and roast beef and plum-pudding! A
mighty fine gentleman, to be sure. But you
won't get them here, I'll be bound."
"So will I," thought Aunt Lucy.
"If you ain't satisfied with what I give you,"
pursued Mrs. Mudge, "you'd better go somewhere
else. You can put up at some of the
great hotels. Butter, forsooth!"
Having thus given expression to her feelings,
she left the room, and Paul was left to
finish his dinner with the best appetite he could
command. He was conscious that he had offended
Mrs. Mudge, but the thoughts of his recent great
sorrow swallowed up all minor annoyances, so that
the words of his estimable landlady were forgotten
almost as soon as they were uttered. He felt that
he must henceforth look for far different treatment
from that to which he had been accustomed during his
father's lifetime.
His thoughts were interrupted in a manner
somewhat ludicrous, by the crazy girl who sat
next to him coolly appropriating to herself his
bowl of soup, having already disposed of her own.
"Look," said Aunt Lucy, quickly, calling
Paul's attention, "you are losing your dinner."
"Never mind," said Paul, amused in spite of
his sadness, "she is quite welcome to it if she
likes it; I can't eat it."
So the dinner began and ended. It was very
brief and simple, occupying less than ten
minutes, and comprising only one course--
unless the soup was considered the first course,
and the bread the second. Paul left the table
as hungry as he came to it. Aunt Lucy's appetite
had become accustomed to the Mudge diet,
and she wisely ate what was set before her,
knowing that there was no hope of anything better.
About an hour after dinner Ben Newcome came
to the door of the Poor House and inquired for Paul.
Mrs. Mudge was in one of her crusty moods.
"You can't see him," said she.
"And why not?" said Ben, resolutely.
"Because he's busy."
"You'd better let me see him," said Ben, sturdily.
"I should like to know what's going to happen
if I don't," said Mrs. Mudge, with wrathful
eyes, and arms akimbo.
"I shall go home and report to my father,"
said Ben, coolly.
"Who is your father?" asked Mrs. Mudge,
for she did not recognize her visitor.
"My father's name is Newcome--Squire Newcome,
some call him."
Now it so happened that Squire Newcome
was Chairman of the Overseers of the Poor,
and in that capacity might remove Mr. Mudge
from office if he pleased. Accordingly Mrs.
Mudge softened down at once, on learning that
Ben was his son.
"Oh," said she, "I didn't know who it was.
I thought it might be some idle boy from the
village who would only take Paul from his
work, but if you have a message from your father----"
This she said to ascertain whether he really
had any message or not, but Ben, who had
in fact come without his father's knowledge,
only bowed, and said, in a patronizing manner,
"I accept your apology, Mrs. Mudge.
Will you have the goodness to send Paul out?"
"Won't you step in?" asked Mrs. Mudge
with unusual politeness.
"No, I believe not."
Paul was accordingly sent out.
He was very glad to meet his schoolmate and
playfellow, Ben, who by his gayety, spiced
though it was with roguery, had made himself
a general favorite in school.
"I say, Paul," said Ben, "I'm sorry to find
you in such a place."
"It isn't very pleasant," said Paul, rather soberly.
"And that woman--Mrs. Mudge--she looks
as if she might be a regular spitfire, isn't she?"
"Rather so."
"I only wish the old gentleman--meaning
of course, the Squire--would take you to live
with me. I want a fellow to play with. But
I say, Paul, go and get your hat, and we'll go
out for a walk."
"I don't know what Mrs. Mudge will say,"
said Paul, who had just come from turning
the handle of a churn.
"Just call Mrs. Mudge, and I'll manage it."
Mrs. Mudge being summoned, made her
appearance at the door.
"I presume, ma'am," said Ben, confidently,
"you will have no objection to Paul's taking
a walk with me while I deliver the message I
am entrusted with."
"Certainly," said Mrs. Mudge, rather
unwillingly, but not venturing to refuse.
"It takes me to come it over the old lady,"
said Ben, when they were out of hearing.
"Now, we'll go a fishing."
Before sunrise the next morning Paul was
awakened by a rude shake from Mr. Mudge,
with an intimation that he had better get up,
as there was plenty of work before him.
By the light of the lantern, for as yet it was
too dark to dispense with it, Paul dressed himself.
Awakened from a sound sleep, he hardly
had time to collect his thoughts, and it was
with a look of bewilderment that he surveyed
the scene about him. As Mrs. Mudge had said,
they were pretty full already, and accordingly
a rude pallet had been spread for him in the
attic, of which, with the exception of nocturnal
marauders, he was the only occupant. Paul
had not, to be sure, been used to very superior
accommodations, and if the bed had not been
quite so hard, he would have got along very
well. As it was he was separated from slats
only by a thin straw bed which did not improve
matters much. It was therefore with a
sense of weariness which slumber had not
dissipated, that Paul arose at the summons
of Mr. Mudge.
When he reached the kitchen, he found that
gentleman waiting for him.
"Do you know how to milk?" was his first salutation.
"I never learned," said Paul.
"Then you'll have to, in double-quick time,"
was the reply, "for I don't relish getting up so
early, and you can take it off my hands."
The two proceeded to the barn, where Paul
received his first lesson in this important
branch of education.
Mr. Mudge kept five cows. One might have
thought he could have afforded a moderate
supply of milk to his boarders, but all, with
the exception of a single quart, was sold to the
milkman who passed the door every morning.
After breakfast, which was on the same
economical plan with the dinner of the day
previous, Paul was set to work planting potatoes,
at which he was kept steadily employed
till the dinner-hour.
Poor Paul! his back ached dreadfully, for he
had never before done any harder work than
trifiing services for his father. But the
inexorable Mr. Mudge was in sight, and however
much he wished, he did not dare to lay aside
his hoe even for a moment.
Twelve o'clock found him standing beside
the dinner-table. He ate more heartily than
before, for his forenoon's labor made even
poorhouse fare palatable.
Mrs. Mudge observed the change, and remarked
in a satisfied tone. "Well, my fine
gentleman, I see you are coming to your
appetite. I thought you wouldn't hold out long."
Paul, who had worn off something of his
diffidence, could not help feeling indignant at
this speech; unaccustomed to be addressed in
this way, the taunt jarred upon his feelings,
but he only bit his lip and preserved silence.
Aunt Lucy, too, who had come to feel a
strong interest in Paul, despite her natural
mildness, could not resist the temptation of
saying with some warmth, "what's the use of
persecuting the child? He has sorrows enough
of his own without your adding to them."
Mrs. Mudge was not a little incensed at this remonstrance.
"I should like to know, ma'am, who
requested you to put in your oar!" she said with
arms akimbo. "Anybody wouldn't think from
your lofty airs that you lived in the poorhouse;
I'll thank you to mind your own business in the future,
and not meddle with what don't concern you."
Aunt Lucy was wise enough to abstain from provoking
further the wrath of her amiable landlady,
and continued to eat her soup in silence.
But Mrs. Mudge neer forgot this interference,
nor the cause of it, and henceforth with the
malignity of a narrow-minded and spiteful woman,
did what she could to make Paul uncomfortable.
Her fertile ingenuity always found some new taunt,
or some new reproach, to assail him with. But Paul,
though at first he felt indignant, learned at last
to treat them as they deserved, with silent disdain.
Assured of the sympathy of those around him, he did
not allow his appetite to be spoiled by any remark
which Mrs. Mudge might offer.
This, of course, only provoked her the more,
and she strove to have his daily tasks increased,
in the amiable hope that his "proud spirit"
might be tamed thereby.
Mr. Mudge, who was somewhat under petticoat government,
readily acceded to his wife's wishes, and henceforth
Paul's strength was taxed to its utmost limit.
He was required to be up with the first gray tint
of dawn and attend to the cattle. From this time until
night, except the brief time devoted to his meals, he was
incessantly occupied. Aunt Lucy's society, his chief comfort,
was thus taken from him; since, in order to rise early,
he was obliged to go to bed as soon as possible after
day's work was finished.
The effects of such incessant labor without
a sufficient supply of nourishing food, may easily
be imagined. The dry bread and meagre soup which
constituted the chief articles of diet in Mrs.
Mudge's economical household, had but one
recommendation,--they were effectual preventives of
gluttony. It was reported that on one occasion a
beggar, apparently famishing with hunger, not
knowing the character of the house, made application
at the door for food. In an unusual fit of
generosity, Mrs. Mudge furnished him with a
slice of bread and a bowl of soup, which, however,
proved so farfrom tempting that the beggar, hungry
as he was, left them almost untouched.
One day, as Paul was working in the field at a
little distance from Mr. Mudge, he became conscious
of a peculiar feeling of giddiness which compelled
him to cling to the hoe for support,--otherwise he
must have fallen.
"No laziness there," exclaimed Mr. Mudge, observing
Paul's cessation from labor, "We can't support you
in idleness."
But the boy paid no regard to this adminition, and
Mr. Mudge, somewhat surprised, advanced toward him
to enforce the command.
Even he was startled at the unusual paleness of
Paul's face, and inquired in a less peremptory tone,
"what's the matter?"
"I feel sick," gasped Paul.
Without another word, Mr. Mudge took Paul up in his
arms and carried him into the house.
"What's the matter, now?" asked his wife, meeting
him at the door.
"The boy feels a little sick, but I guess he'll get
over it by-and by. Haven't you got a little soup
that you can give him? I reckon he's faint, and
that'll brighten him up."
Paul evidently did not think so, for he motioned
away a bowl of the delightful mixture, though it was
proffered him by the fair hands of Mrs. Mudge. The
lady was somewhat surprised, and said, roughly,
"I shouldn't wonder if he was only trying to shirk."
This was too much even for Mr. Mudge; "The boy's
sick," said he, "that's plain enough; if he don't
get better soon, I must send for the doctor,
for work drives, and I can't spare him."
"There's no more danger of his being sick than
mine," said Mrs. Mudge, emphatically; "however, if
you're fool enough to go for a doctor, that's none
of my business. I've heard of feigning sickness
before now, to get rid of work. As to his being
pale, I've been as pale as that myself sometimes
without your troubling yourself very much about me."
"'Twon't be any expense to us," alleged Mr. Mudge,
in a tone of justification, for he felt in some awe
of his wife's temper, which was none of the mildest
when a little roused, "'Twon't be any expense to us;
the town has got to pay for it, and as long as it
will get him ready for work sooner, we might as well
take advantage of it."
This consideration somewhat reconciled Mrs. Mudge to
the step proposed, and as Paul, instead of getting
better, grew rapidly worse, Mr. Mudge thought it
expedient to go immediately for the village
physician. Luckily Dr. Townsend was at home,
and an hour afterwards found him standing
beside the sick boy.
"I don't know but you'll think it rather foolish,
our sending for you, doctor," said Mrs. Mudge, "but
Mudge would have it that the boy was sick and so he
went for you."
"And he did quite right," said Dr. Townsend,
noticing the ghastly
pallor of Paul's face. "He is a very sick boy, and
if I had not been called I would not have answered
for the consequences. How do you feel, my boy?"
he inquired of Paul.
"I feel very weak, and my head swims," was the reply.
"How and when did this attack come on?" asked the doctor,
turning to Mr. Mudge.
"He was taken while hoeing in the field," was the reply.
"Have you kept him at work much there lately?"
"Well, yes, I've been drove by work, and he has
worked there all day latterly."
"At what time has he gone to work in the morning?"
"He has got up to milk the cows about five o'clock.
I used to do it, but since he has learned, I have
indulged myself a little."
"It would have been well for him if he had enjoyed
the same privilege. It is my duty to speak plainly.
The sickness of this boy lies at your door. He has
never been accustomed to hard labor, and yet you have
obliged him to rise earlier and work later than most men.
No wonder he feels weak. Has he a good appetite?"
"Well, rather middlin'," said Mrs. Mudge, "but it's mainly
because he's too dainty to eat what's set before him.
Why, only the first day he was here he turned up his nose
at the bread and soup we had for dinner."
"Is this a specimen of the soup?" asked Dr. Townsend,
taking from the table the bowl which had
been proffered to Paul and declined by him.
Without ceremony he raised to his lips a spoonful of
the soup and tasted it with a wry face.
"Do you often have this soup on the table?" he asked abruptly.
"We always have it once a day, and sometimes twice,"
returned Mrs. Mudge.
"And you call the boy dainty because he don't relish
such stuff as this?" said the doctor, with an
indignation he did not attmpt to conceal. "Why,
I wouldn't be hired to take the contents of that
bowl. It is as bad as any of my own medicines,
and that's saying a good deal. How much nourishment
do you suppose such a mixture would afford? And yet
with little else to sustain him you have worked this
boy like a beast of burden,--worse even, for they at
least have abundance of GOOD food."
Mr. and Mrs. Mudge both winced under this plain
speaking, but they did not dare to give expression
to their anger, for they knew well that Dr. Townsend
was an influential man in town, and, by representing
the affair in the proper quarter, might render their
hold upon their present post a very precarious one.
Mr. Mudge therefore contented himself with muttering
that he guessed he worked as hard as anybody, and he
didn't complain of his fare.
"May I ask you, Mr. Mudge," said the doctor, fixing
his penetrating eye full upon him,"whether you
confine yourself to the food upon which you have
kept this boy?"
"Well," said Mr. Mudge, in some confusion, moving
uneasily in his seat,"I can't say but now and then I
eat something a little different."
"Do you eat at the same table with the inmates of
your house?"
"Well, no," said the embarrassed Mr. Mudge.
"Tell me plainly,--how often do you partake of this soup?"
"I aint your patient," said the man, sullenly, "Why
should you want to know what I eat?"
"I have an object in view. Are you afraid to answer?"
"I don't know as there's anything to be afraid of.
The fact is, I aint partial to soup; it don't agree
with me, and so I don't take it."
"Did you ever consider that this might be the case
with others as well as yourself?" inquired the
doctor with a glance expressive of his contempt for
Mr. Mudge's selfishness. Without waiting for a
reply, Dr. Townsend ordered Paul to be put to bed
immediately, after which he would leave some
medicine for him to take.
Here was another embarassment for the worthy couple.
They hardly knew where to put our hero. It would
not do for them to carry him to his pallet in the
attic,for they felt sure that this would lead
to some more plain speaking on the part of Dr.
Townsend. He was accordingly, though with some
reluctance, placed in a small bedroom upstairs,
which, being more comfortable than those
appropriated to the paupers, had been reserved for a
son at work in a neighboring town, on his occasional
visits home.
"Is there no one in the house who can sit in the
chamber and attend to his occasional wants?" asked
Dr. Townsend. "He will need to take his medicine at
stated periods, and some one will be required
to administer it."
"There's Aunt Lucy Lee," said Mrs. Mudge, "she's
taken a fancy to the boy, and I reckonshe'll do as
well as anybody."
"No one better," returned the doctor, who well knew
Aunt Lucy's kindness of disposition, and was
satisfied that she would take all possible care of
his patient.
So it was arranged that Aunt Lucy should take her
place at Paul's bedside as his nurse.
Paul was sick for many days,--not dangerously so,
but hard work and scanty fare had weakened him to
such a degree that exhausted nature required time to
recruit its wasted forces. But he was not unhappy
or restless. Hour after hour he would lie
patiently, and listen to the clicking of her
knitting needles. Though not provided with
luxurious food, Dr. Townsend had spoken with so much
plainness that Mrs. Mudge felt compelled to modify
her treatment, lest, through his influence, she with
her husband, might lose their situation. This
forced forbearance, however, was far from warming
her heart towards its object. Mrs. Mudge was a
hard, practical woman, and her heart was so
encrusted with worldliness and self-interest that
she might as well have been without one.
One day, as Paul lay quietly gazing at Aunt Lucy's
benevolent face, and mentally contrasting it with
that of Mrs. Mudge, whose shrill voice could be
heard form below, he was seized with a sudden desire
to learn something of her past history.
"How long have you been here, Aunt Lucy?" he inquired.
She looked up from her knitting, and sighed as she
answered, "A long and weary time to look back upon,
Paul. I have been here ten years."
"Ten years," repeated Paul, thoughtfully, "and I am
thirteen. So you have been here nearly all my
lifetime. Has Mr. Mudge been here all that time?"
"Only the last two years. Before that we had Mrs.
"Did she treat you any better than Mrs. Mudge?"
"Any better than Mrs. Mudge!" vociferated that lady,
who had ascended the stairs without being heard by
Aunt Lucy of Paul, and had thus caught the last
sentence. "Any better than Mrs. Mudge!" she
repeated, thoroughly provoked. "So you've been
talking about me, you trollop, have you? I'll come
up with you, you may depend upon that. That's to
pay for my giving you tea Sunday night, is it?
Perhaps you'll get some more. It's pretty well in
paupers conspiring together because they aint
treated like princes and princesses. Perhaps you'd
like to got boarded with Queen Victoria."
The old lady sat very quiet during this tirade. She
had been the subject of similar invective before,
and knew that it would do no good to oppose Mrs.
Mudge in her present excited state.
"I don't wonder you haven't anything to say," said
the infuriated dame. "I should think you'd want to
hide your face in shame, you trollop."
Paul was not quite so patient as his attendant. Her
kindness had produced such an impression on him,
that Mrs. Mudge, by her taunts, stirred up his
"She's no more of a trollop than you are," said he,
with spirit.
Mrs. Mudge whirled round at this unexpected attack,
and shook her fist menacingly at Paul--
"So, you've put in your oar, you little jackanapes,"
said she, "If you're well enough to be impudent
you're well enough to go to work. You aint a goin'
to lie here idle much longer, I can tell you. If
you deceive Dr. Townsend, and make him believe
you're sick, you can't deceive me. No doubt you
feel mighty comfortable, lyin' here with nothing to
do, while I'm a slavin' myself to death down stairs,
waitin' upon you; (this was a slight exaggeration,
as Aunt Lucy took the entire charge of Paul,
including the preparation of his food;) but you'd
better make the most of it, for you won't lie
here much longer. You'll miss not bein' able to
talk about me, won't you?"
Mrs. Mudge paused a moment as if expecting an answer
to her highly sarcastic question, but Paul felt that
no advantage would be gained by saying more.. He was
not naturally a quick-tempered buy, and had only
been led to this little ebullition by the wanton
attack by Mrs. Mudge.
This lady, after standing a moment as if defying the
twain to a further contest, went out, slamming the
door violently after her.
"You did wrong to provoke her, Paul," said Aunt
Lucy, gravely.
"How could I help it?" asked Paul, earnestly. "If
she had only abused ME, I should not have cared so
much, but when she spoke about you, who have been so
kind to me, I could not be silent."
"I thank you, Paul, for your kind feeling," said the
old lady, gently, "but we must learn to bear and forbear.
The best of us have our faults and failings."
"What are yours, Aunt Lucy?"
"O, a great many."
"Such as what?"
"I am afraid I am sometimes discontented with the
station which God has assigned me."
"I don't think you can be very much to blame for
that. I should never learn to be contented here if
I lived to the age of Methuselah."
Paul lay quite still for an hour or more. During
that time he formed a determination which will be
announced in the next chapter.
At the close of the last chapter it was stated that
Paul had come to a determination.
This was,--TO RUN AWAY.
That he had good reason for this we have already
He was now improving rapidly, and only waited till
he was well enough to put his design into execution.
"Aunt Lucy," said he one day, "I've got something
to tell you."
The old lady looked up inquiringly.
"It's something I've been thinking of a long
time,--at least most of the time since I've been
sick. It isn't pleasant for me to stay here, and
I've pretty much made up my mind that I sha'n't."
"Where will you go?" asked the old lady, dropping
her work in surprise.
"I don't know of any particular place, but I should
be better off most anywhere than here."
"But you are so young, Paul."
"God will take care of me, Aunt Lucy,--mother used
to tell me that. Besides, here I have no hope of
learning anything or improving my condition. Then
again, if I stay here, I can never do what father
wished me to do."
"What is that, Paul?"
Paul told the story of his father's indebtedness to
Squire Conant, and the cruel letter which the Squire
had written.
"I mean to pay that debt," he concluded firmly. "I
won't let anybody say that my father kept them out
of their money. There is no chance here; somewhere
else I may find work and money."
"It is a great undertaking for a boy like you,
Paul," said Aunt Lucy, thoughtfully. "To whom is
the money due?"
"Squire Conant of Cedarville."
Aunt Lucy seemed surprised and agitated by the
mention of this name.
"Paul," said she, "Squire Conant is my brother."
"Your brother!" repeated he in great surprise.
"Then why does he allow you to live here? He is
rich enough to take care of you."
"It is a long story," said the old lady, sadly.
"All that you will be interested to know is that I
married against the wishes of my family. My husband
died and I was left destitute. My brother has
never noticed me since."
"It is a great shame," said Paul.
"We won't judge him, Paul. Have you fixed upon
any time to go?"
"I shall wait a few days till I get stronger. Can
you tell me how
far it is to New York?"
"O, a great distance; a hundred miles at least. You
can't think of going so far as that?"
"I think it would be the best plan," said Paul. "In
a great city like New York there must be a great
many things to do which I can't do here. I don't
feel strong enough to work on a farm. Besides,
I don't like it. O, it must be a fine thing to live
in a great city. Then too," pursued Paul, his face
lighting up with the hopeful confidence of youth, "I
may become rich. If I do, Aunt Lucy, I will build a
fine house, and you shall come and live with me."
Aunt Lucy had seen more of life than Paul, and was
less sanguine. The thought came to her that her
life was already declining while his was but just
begun, and in the course of nature, even if his
bright dreams should be realized, she could hardly
hope to live long enough to see it. But of this she
said nothing. She would not for the world have
dimmed the brightness of his anticipations by the
expression of a single doubt.
"I wish you all success, Paul, and I thank you for
wishing me to share in your good fortune. God helps
those who help themselves, and he will help you if
you only deserve it. I shall miss you very
much when you are gone. It will seem more lonely
than ever."
"If it were not for you, Aunt Lucy, I should not
mind going at all, but I shall be sorry to leave you
"God will care for both of us, my dear boy. I shall
hope to hear from you now and then, and if I learn
that you are prosperous and happy, I shall be better
contented with my own lot. But have you thought of
all the labor and weariness that you will have to
encounter? It is best to consider well all this,
before entering upon such an undertaking."
"I have thought of all that, and if there were any
prospect of my being happy here, I might stay for
the present. But you know how Mrs. Mudge has
treated me, and how she feels towards me now."
"I acknowledge, Paul, that it has proved a
hard apprenticeship, and perhaps it might be
made yet harder if you should stay longer.
You must let me know when you are going, I
shall want to bid you good-by."
"No fear that I shall forget that, Aunt Lucy.
Next to my mother you have been most kind to me,
and I love you for it."
Lightly pressing her lips to Paul's forehead
Aunt Lucy left the room to conceal the emotion
called forth by his approaching departure. Of
all the inmates of the establishment she had
felt most closely drawn to the orphan boy,
whose loneliness and bereavement had appealed
to her woman's heart. This feeling had
been strengthened by the care she had been
called to bestow upon him in his illness, for it
is natural to love those whom we have benefited.
But Aunt Lucy was the most unselfish
of living creatures, and the idea of dissuading
Paul from a course which he felt was right
never occurred to her. She determined that
she would do what she could to further his
plans, now that he had decided to go. Accordingly
she commenced knitting him a pair of
stockings, knowing that this would prove a
useful present. This came near being the
means of discovering Paul's plan to Mrs.
Mudge The latter, who notwithstanding her
numerous duties, managed to see everything
that was going on, had her attention directed
to Aunt Lucy's work.
"Have you finished the stockings that I set
you to knitting for Mr. Mudge?" she asked.
"No," said Aunt Lucy, in some confusion.
"Then whose are those, I should like to
know? Somebody of more importance than
my husband, I suppose."
"They are for Paul," returned the old lady,
in some uneasiness.
"Paul!" repeated Mrs. Mudge, in her haste
putting a double quantity of salaeratus into the
bread she was mixing; "Paul's are they? And
who asked you to knit him a pair, I should like
to be informed?"
"No one."
"Then what are you doing it for?"
"I thought he might want them."
"Mighty considerate, I declare. And I
shouldn't be at all surprised if you were knitting
them with the yarn I gave you for Mr.
Mudge's stockings."
"You are mistaken," said Aunt Lucy,
"Oh, you're putting on your airs, are you?
I'll tell you what, Madam, you'd better put
those stockings away in double-quick time, and
finish my husband's, or I'll throw them into
the fire, and Paul Prescott may wait till he
goes barefoot before he gets them."
There was no alternative. Aunt Lucy was
obliged to obey, at least while her persecutor
was in the room. When alone for any length
of time she took out Paul's stockings from
under her apron, and worked on them till the
approaching steps of Mrs. Mudge warned her
to desist.
Three days passed. The shadows of twilight
were already upon the earth. The paupers
were collected in the common room appropriated
to their use. Aunt Lucy had suspended
her work in consequence of the darkness,
for in this economical household a lamp
was considered a useless piece of extravagance.
Paul crept quietly to her side, and whispered
in tones audible to her alone, "I AM GOING TOMORROW."
"To-morrow! so soon?"
"Yes," said Paul, "I am as ready now as
I shall ever be. I wanted to tell you, because
I thought maybe you might like to know that
this is the last evening we shall spend together
at present."
"Do you go in the morning?"
"Yes, Aunt Lucy, early in the morning. Mr.
Mudge usually calls me at five; I must be gone
an hour before that time. I suppose I must
bid you good-by to-night."
"Not to-night, Paul; I shall be up in the
morning to see you go."
"But if Mrs. Mudge finds it out she will
abuse you."
"I am used to that, Paul," said Aunt Lucy,
with a sorrowful smile. "I have borne it
many times, and I can again. But I can't
lie quiet and let you go without one word
of parting. You are quite determined to go?"
"Quite, Aunt Lucy. I never could stay
here. There is no pleasure in the present, and
no hope for the future. I want to see something
of life," and Paul's boyish figure dilated
with enthusiasm.
"God grant that you do not see too much!"
said Aunt Lucy, half to herself.
"Is the world then, so very sad a place?"
asked Paul.
"Both joy and sorrow are mingled in the
cup of human life," said Aunt Lucy, solemnly:
"Which shall preponderate it is partly in our
power to determine. He who follows the path
of duty steadfastly, cannot be wholly miserable,
whatever misfortunes may come upon
him. He will be sustained by the conviction
that his own errors have not brought them
upon him."
"I will try to do right," said Paul, placing
his hand in that of his companion, "and if
ever I am tempted to do wrong, I will think of
you and of my mother, and that thought shall
restrain me."
"It's time to go bed, folks," proclaimed Mrs
Mudge, appearing at the door. "I can't have
you sitting up all night, as I've no doubt you'd
like to do."
It was only eight o'clock, but no one thought
of interposing an objection. The word of
Mrs. Mudge was law in her household, as
even her husband was sometimes made aware.
All quietly rose from their seats and repaired
to bed. It was an affecting sight to
watch the tottering gait of those on whose
heads the snows of many winters had drifted
heavily, as they meekly obeyed the behest of
one whose coarse nature forbade her sympathizing
with them in their clouded age, and
many infirmities.
"Come," said she, impatient of their slow
movements, "move a little quicker, if it's
perfectly convenient. Anybody'd think you'd
been hard at work all day, as I have. You're
about the laziest set I ever had anything to do
with. I've got to be up early in the morning,
and can't stay here dawdling."
"She's got a sweet temper," said Paul, in a
whisper, to Aunt Lucy.
"Hush!" said the old lady. "She may hear you."
"What's that you're whispering about?"
said Mrs. Mudge, suspiciously. "Something
you're ashamed to have heard, most likely.
Paul thought it best to remain silent.
"To-morrow morning at four!" he whispered
to Aunt Lucy, as he pressed her hand in
the darkness.
Paul ascended the stairs to his hard pallet
for the last time. For the last time! There is
sadness in the thought, even when the future
which lies before us glows with brighter colors
than the past has ever worn. But to Paul,
whose future was veiled in uncertainty, and
who was about to part with the only friend
who felt an interest in his welfare, this
thought brought increased sorrow.
He stood before the dirt-begrimed window
through which alone the struggling sunbeams
found an inlet into the gloomy little attic, and
looked wistfully out upon the barren fields
that surrounded the poorhouse. Where would
he be on the morrow at that time? He did not
know. He knew little or nothing of the great
world without, yet his resolution did not for
an instant falter. If it had, the thought of
Mrs. Mudge would have been enough to remove
all his hesitation.
He threw himself on his hard bed, and a few
minutes brought him that dreamless sleep
which comes so easily to the young.
Meanwhile Aunt Lucy, whose thoughts were
also occupied with Paul's approaching departure,
had taken from the pocket of her OTHER
dress--for she had but two--something
wrapped in a piece of brown paper. One by one
she removed the many folds in which it was
enveloped, and came at length to the contents.
It was a coin.
"Paul will need some money, poor boy,"
said she, softly to herself, "I will give him
this. It will never do me any good, and it may
be of some service to him."
So saying she looked carefully at the coin in
the moonlight.
But what made her start, and utter a half
Instead of the gold eagle, the accumulation
of many years, which she had been saving for
some extraordinary occasion like the presents
she held in her hand--a copper cent.
"I have been robbed," she exclaimed
indignantly in the suddenness of her surprise.
"What's the matter now?" inquired Mrs
Mudge, appearing at the door, "Why are you
not in bed, Aunt Lucy Lee? How dare you
disobey my orders?"
"I have been robbed," exclaimed the old
lady in unwonted excitement.
"Of what, pray?" asked Mrs. Mudge, with a sneer.
"I had a gold eagle wrapped up in that paper,"
returned Aunt Lucy, pointing to the fragments
on the floor, "and now, to-night, when I come
to open it, I find but this cent."
"A likely story," retorted Mrs. Mudge, "very
likely, indeed, that a common pauper should
have a gold eagle. If you found a cent in the
paper, most likely that's what you put there.
You're growing old and forgetful, so don't get
foolish and flighty. You'd better go to bed."
"But I did have the gold, and it's been stolen,"
persisted Aunt Lucy, whose disappointment was
the greater because she intended the money for Paul.
"Again!" exclaimed Mrs. Mudge. "Will you never
have done with this folly? Even if you did have
the gold, which I don't for an instant believe,
you couldn't keep it. A pauper has no right
to hold property."
"Then why did the one who stole the little I had
leave me this?" said the old lady, scornfully,
holding up the cent which had been substituted
for the gold.
"How should I know?" exclaimed Mrs.
Mudge, wrathfully. "You talk as if you
thought I had taken your trumpery money."
"So you did!" chimed in an unexpected
voice, which made Mrs. Mudge start nervously.
It was the young woman already mentioned,
who was bereft of reason, but who at times,
as often happens in such cases, seemed gifted
with preternatural acuteness.
"So you did. I saw you, I did; I saw you
creep up when you thought nobody was looking,
and search her pocket. You opened that
paper and took out the bright yellow piece, and
put in another. You didn't think I was looking
at you, ha! ha! How I laughed as I stood behind
the door and saw you tremble for fear some one
would catch you thieving. You didn't think of me,
dear, did you?"
And the wild creature burst into an unmeaning laugh.
Mrs. Mudge stood for a moment mute, overwhelmed
by this sudden revelation. But for the darkness,
Aunt Lucy could have seen the sudden flush which
overspread her face with the crimson hue of detected guilt.
But this was only for a moment. It was quickly succeeded
by a feeling of intense anger towards the unhappy creature
who had been the means of exposing her.
"I'll teach you to slander your betters, you crazy fool,"
she exclaimed, in a voice almost inarticulate with passion,
as she seized her rudely by the arm, and dragged her violently
from the room.
She returned immediately.
"I suppose," said she, abruptly, confronting Aunt Lucy,
"that you are fool enough to believe her ravings?"
"I bring no accusation," said the old lady, calmly,
"If your conscience acquits you, it is not for me
to accuse you."
"But what do you think?" persisted Mrs. Mudge,
whose consciousness of guilt did not leave her quite at ease.
"I cannot read the heart," said Aunt Lucy,
composedly. "I can only say, that, pauper as
I am, I would not exchange places with the one
who has done this deed."
"Do you mean me?" demanded Mrs. Mudge.
"You can tell best."
"I tell you what, Aunt Lucy Lee," said Mrs.
Mudge, her eyes blazing with anger, "If you
dare insinuate to any living soul that I stole
your paltry money, which I don't believe you
ever had, I will be bitterly revenged upon you."
She flaunted out of the room, and Aunt Lucy,
the first bitterness of her disappointment over,
retired to bed, and slept more tranquilly
than the unscrupulous woman who had robbed her.
At a quarter before four Paul started from
his humble couch, and hastily dressed himself,
took up a little bundle containing all his
scanty stock of clothing, and noiselessly descended
the two flights of stairs which separated
him from the lower story. Here he paused
a moment for Aunt Lucy to appear.
Her sharp ears had distinguished his stealthy
steps as he passed her door, and she came
down to bid him good-by. She had in her
hands a pair of stockings which she slipped
into his bundle.
"I wish I had something else to give you,
Paul," she said, "but you know that I am not
very rich."
"Dear Aunt Lucy," said Paul, kissing her,
"you are my only friend on earth. You have
been very kind to me, and I never will forget
you, NEVER! By-and-by, when I am rich, I will
build a fine house, and you will come and live
with me, won't you?"
Paul's bright anticipations, improbable as
they were, had the effect of turning his
companion's thoughts into a more cheerful channel.
She bent down and kissed him, whispering softly,
"Yes, I will, Paul."
"Then it's a bargain," said he, joyously,
"Mind you don't forget it. I shall come
for you one of these days when you least
expect it."
"Have you any money?" inquired Aunt Lucy.
Paul shook his head.
"Then," said she, drawing from her finger a
gold ring which had held its place for many
long years, "here is something which will bring
you a little money if you are ever in distress."
Paul hung back.
"I would rather not take it, indeed I would,"
he said, earnestly, "I would rather go hungry
for two or three days than sell your ring.
Besides, I shall not need it; God will
provide for me."
"But you need not sell it," urged Aunt Lucy,
"unless it is absolutely necessary. You can
take it and keep it in remembrance of me.
Keep it till you see me again, Paul. It will be
a pledge to me that you will come back again some day."
"On that condition I will take it," said Paul,
"and some day I will bring it back."
A slight noise above, as of some one stirring
in sleep, excited the apprehensions of the two,
and warned them that it was imprudent for
them to remain longer in conversation.
After a hurried good-by, Aunt Lucy quietly
went upstairs again, and Paul, shouldering
his bundle, walked rapidly away.
The birds, awakening from their night's
repose, were beginning to carol forth their rich
songs of thanksgiving for the blessing of a new
day. From the flowers beneath his feet and the
blossom-laden branches above his head, a delicious
perfume floated out upon the morning air, and filled
the heart of the young wanderer with a sense of the
joyousness of existence, and inspired him with
a hopeful confidence in the future.
For the first time he felt that he belonged to
himself. At the age of thirteen he had taken
his fortune in his own hand, and was about to
mold it as best he might.
There were care, and toil, and privations before
him, no doubt, but in that bright morning
hour he could harbor only cheerful and trusting
thoughts. Hopefully he looked forward
to the time when he could fulfil his father's
dying injunction, and lift from his name the
burden of a debt unpaid. Then his mind reverting
to another thought, he could not help
smiling at the surprise and anger of Mr.
Mudge, when he should find that his assistant
had taken French leave. He thought he should
like to be concealed somewhere where he could
witness the commotion excited by his own
departure. But as he could not be in two places
at the same time, he must lose that satisfaction.
He had cut loose from the Mudge household,
as he trusted, forever. He felt that a
new and brighter life was opening before him.
Our hero did not stop till he had put a good
five miles between himself and the poorhouse.
He knew that it would not be long before Mr.
Mudge would discover his absence, and the
thought of being carried back was doubly
distasteful to him now that he had, even for a
short time, felt the joy of being his own master.
His hurried walk, taken in the fresh morning
air, gave him quite a sharp appetite. Luckily
he had the means of gratifying it. The night
before he had secreted half his supper, knowing
that he should need it more the next morning.
He thought he might now venture to sit
down and eat it.
At a little distance from the road was a
spring, doubtless used for cattle, since it was
situated at the lower end of a pasture. Close
beside and bending over it was a broad, branching
oak, which promised a cool and comfortable shelter.
"That's just the place for me," thought
Paul, who felt thirsty as well as hungry, "I
think I will take breakfast here and rest awhile
before I go any farther."
So saying he leaped lightly over the rail
fence, and making his way to the place indicated,
sat down in the shadow of the tree.
Scooping up some water in the hollow of his
hand, he drank a deep and refreshing draught.
He next proceeded to pull out of his pocket a
small package, which proved to contain two
small pieces of bread. His long morning walk
had given him such an appetite that he was not
long in despatching all he had. It is said by
some learned physicians, who no doubt understand
the matter, that we should always rise
from the table with an appetite. Probably
Paul had never heard of this rule. Nevertheless,
he seemed in a fair way of putting it into
practice, for the best of reasons, because he
could not help it.
His breakfast, though not the most inviting,
being simply unbuttered bread and rather dry
at that, seemed more delicious than ever before,
but unfortunately there was not enough
of it. However, as there seemed likely to be
no more forthcoming, he concluded in default
of breakfast to lie down under the tree for a
few minutes before resuming his walk.
Though he could not help wondering vaguely
where his dinner was to come from, as that
time was several hours distant, he wisely
decided not to anticipate trouble till it came.
Lying down under the tree, Paul began to
consider what Mr. Mudge would say when he
discovered that he had run away.
"He'll have to milk the cows himself,"
thought Paul. "He won't fancy that much.
Won't Mrs. Mudge scold, thought? I'm glad
I shan't be within hearing."
It was a boy's voice that Paul heard.
Looking up he saw a sedate company of cows
entering the pasture single file through an
aperture made by letting down the bars. Behind
them walked a boy of about his own size,
flourishing a stout hickory stick. The cows
went directly to the spring from which Paul
had already drunk. The young driver looked
at our hero with some curiosity, wondering,
doubtless, what brought him there so early in
the morning. After a little hesitation he said,
remarking Paul's bundle, "Where are you
"I don't know exactly," said Paul, who was
not quite sure whether it would be politic to
avow his destination.
"Don't know?" returned the other,
evidently surprised.
"Not exactly; I may go to New York."
"New York! That's a great ways off. Do
you know the way there?"
"No, but I can find it."
"Are you going all alone?" asked his new
acquaintance, who evidently thought Paul had
undertaken a very formidable journey.
"Are you going to walk all the way?"
"Yes, unless somebody offers me a ride now and then."
"But why don't you ride in the stage, or in the cars?
You would get there a good deal quicker."
"One reason," said Paul, hesitating a little,
"is because I have no money to pay for riding."
"Then how do you expect to live? Have
you had any breakfast, this morning?"
"I brought some with me, and just got
through eating it when you came along."
"And where do you expect to get any dinner?"
pursued his questioner, who was evidently
not a little puzzled by the answers he received.
"I don't know," returned Paul.
His companion looked not a little confounded
at this view of the matter, but presently
a bright thought struck him.
"I shouldn't wonder," he said, shrewdly,
"if you were running away."
Paul hesitated a moment. He knew that his
case must look a little suspicious, thus unexplained,
and after a brief pause for reflection
determined to take the questioner into his
confidence. He did this the more readily because
his new acquaintance looked very pleasant.
"You've guessed right," he said; "if you'll
promise not to tell anybody, I'll tell you all
about it."
This was readily promised, and the boy who
gave his name as John Burgess, sat down beside
Paul, while he, with the frankness of boyhood,
gave a circumstantial account of his
father's death, and the ill-treatment he had
met with subsequently.
"Do you come from Wrenville?" asked
John, interested. "Why, I've got relations
there. Perhaps you know my cousin, Ben Newcome."
"Is Ben Newcome your cousin? O yes, I
know him very well; he's a first-rate fellow."
"He isn't much like his father."
"Not at all. If he was"--
"You wouldn't like him so well. Uncle
talks a little too much out of the dictionary,
and walks so straight that he bends backward.
But I say, Paul, old Mudge deserves to be
choked, and Mrs. Mudge should be obliged to
swallow a gallon of her own soup. I don't
know but that would be worse than choking.
I wouldn't have stayed so long if I had been in
your place."
"I shouldn't," said Paul, "if it hadn't been
for Aunt Lucy."
"Was she an aunt of yours?"
"No, but we used to call her so, She's the
best friend I've got, and I don't know but the
only one," said Paul, a little sadly.
"No, she isn't," said John, quickly; "I'll be
your friend, Paul. Sometime, perhaps, I shall
go to New York, myself, and then I will come
and see you. Where do you expect to be?"
"I don't know anything about the city," said
Paul, "but if you come, I shall be sure to see
you somewhere. I wish you were going
Neither Paul nor his companion had much
idea of the extent of the great metropolis, or
they would not have taken it so much as a matter
of course that, being in the same place,
they should meet each other.
Their conversation was interrupted by the
ringing of a bell from a farmhouse within sight.
"That's our breakfast-bell," said John
rising from the grass. "It is meant for me.
I suppose they wonder what keeps me so long.
Won't you come and take breakfast with me, Paul?"
"I guess not," said Paul, who would have
been glad to do so had he followed the promptings
of his appetite. "I'm afraid your folks
would ask me questions, and then it would be
found out that I am running away."
"I didn't think of that," returned John,
after a pause. "You haven't got any dinner
with you?" he said a moment after.
"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. Come with me
as far as the fence, and lie down there till I've
finished breakfast. Then I'll bring something out for you,
and maybe I'll walk along a little way with you."
"You are very kind," said Paul, gratefully.
"Oh, nonsense," said John, "that's nothing.
Besides, you know we are going to be friends."
"John! breakfast's ready."
"There's Nelson calling me," said John, hurriedly.
"I must leave you; there's the fence; lie down there,
and I'll be back in a jiffy."
"John, I say, why don't you come?"
"I'm coming. You mustn't think everybody's
got such a thundering great appetite as you, Nelson."
"I guess you've got enough to keep you from
pining away," said Nelson, good-naturedly,
"you're twice as fat as I am."
"That's because I work harder," said John,
rather illogically.
The brothers went in to breakfast.
But a few minutes elapsed before John
reappeared, bearing under his arm a parcel
wrapped up in an old newspaper. He came up
panting with the haste he had made.
"It didn't take you long to eat breakfast,"
said Paul.
"No, I hurried through it; I thought you
would get tired of waiting. And now I'll walk
along with you a little ways. But wait here's
something for you."
So saying he unrolled the newspaper and
displayed a loaf of bread, fresh and warm, which
looked particularly inviting to Paul, whose
scanty breakfast had by no means satisfied his
appetite. Besides this, there was a loaf of
molasses ginger-bread, with which all who
were born in the country, or know anything of
New England housekeeping, are familiar.
"There," said John, "I guess that'll be
enough for your dinner."
"But how did you get it without having any
questions asked?" inquired our hero.
"Oh," said John, "I asked mother for them,
and when she asked what I wanted of them, I
told her that I'd answer that question to-morrow.
You see I wanted to give you a chance
to get off out of the way, though mother
wouldn't tell, even if she knew."
"All right," said Paul, with satisfaction.
He could not help looking wistfully at the
bread, which looked very inviting to one
accustomed to poorhouse fare.
"If you wouldn't mind," he said hesitating,
"I would like to eat a little of the bread now."
"Mind, of course not," said John, breaking
off a liberal slice. "Why didn't I think of
that before? Walking must have given you a
famous appetite."
John looked on with evident approbation,
while Paul ate with great apparent appetite.
"There," said he with a sigh of gratification,
as he swallowed the last morsel, "I haven't
tasted anything so good for a long time."
"Is it as good as Mrs. Mudge's soup?" asked
John, mischievously.
"Almost," returned Paul, smiling.
We must now leave the boys to pursue their
way, and return to the dwelling from which
our hero had so unceremoniously taken his departure,
and from which danger now threatened him.
Mr. Mudge was accustomed to call Paul at
five o'clock, to milk the cows and perform
other chores. He himself did not rise till an
hour later. During Paul's sickness, he was
obliged to take his place,--a thing he did not
relish overmuch. Now that our hero had
recovered, he gladly prepared to indulge himself
in an extra nap.
"Paul!" called Mr. Mudge from the bottom
of the staircase leading up into the attic, "it's
five o'clock; time you were downstairs."
Mr. Mudge waited for an answer, but none came.
"Paul!" repeated Mr. Mudge in a louder
tone, "it's time to get up; tumble out there."
Again there was no answer.
At first, Mr. Mudge thought it might be in
consequence of Paul's sleeping so soundly, but
on listening attentively, he could not distinguish
the deep and regular breathing which
usually accompanies such slumber.
"He must be sullen," he concluded, with a feeling
of irritation. "If he is, I'll teach him----"
Without taking time to finish the sentence,
he bounded up the rickety staircase, and
turned towards the bed with the intention of
giving our hero a smart shaking.
He looked with astonishment at the empty
bed. "Is it possible," he thought, "that Paul
has already got up? He isn't apt to do so
before he is called."
At this juncture, Mrs. Mudge, surprised at
her husband's prolonged absence, called from
below, "Mr. Mudge!"
"Well, wife?"
"What in the name of wonder keeps you up
there so long?"
"Just come up and see."
Mrs. Mudge did come up. Her husband
pointed to the empty bed.
"What do you think of that?" he asked.
"What about it?" she inquired, not quite
"About that boy, Paul. When I called him
I got no answer, so I came up, and behold he is
among the missing."
"You don't think he's run away, do you?"
asked Mrs. Mudge startled.
"That is more than I know."
"I'll see if his clothes are here," said his
wife, now fully aroused.
Her search was unavailing. Paul's clothes
had disappeared as mysteriously as their owner.
"It's a clear case," said Mr. Mudge, shaking
his head; "he's gone. I wouldn't have lost
him for considerable. He was only a boy, but
I managed to get as much work out of him
as a man. The question is now, what shall we
do about it?"
"He must be pursued," said Mrs. Mudge,
with vehemence, "I'll have him back if it costs
me twenty dollars. I'll tell you what, husband,"
she exclaimed, with a sudden light
breaking in upon her, "if there's anybody in
this house knows where he's gone, it is Aunt
Lucy Lee. Only last week I caught her knitting
him a pair of stockings. I might have
known what it meant if I hadn't been a
"Ha, ha! So you might, if you hadn't been
a fool!" echoed a mocking voice.
Turning with sudden anger, Mrs. Mudge
beheld the face of the crazy girl peering up at
her from below.
This turned her thoughts into a different channel.
"I'll teach you what I am," she exclaimed,
wrathfully descending the stairs more rapidly
than she had mounted them, "and if you know
anything about the little scamp, I'll have it
out of you."
The girl narrowly succeeded in eluding the
grasp of her pursuer. But, alas! for Mrs.
Mudge. In her impetuosity she lost her footing,
and fell backward into a pail of water
which had been brought up the night before
and set in the entry for purposes of ablution.
More wrathful than ever, Mrs. Mudge bounced
into her room and sat down in her dripping
garments in a very uncomfortable frame of
mind. As for Paul, she felt a personal dislike
for him, and was not sorry on some accounts
to have him out of the house. The knowledge,
however, that he had in a manner defied her
authority by running away, filled her with an
earnest desire to get him back, if only to prove
that it was not to be defied with impunity.
Hoping to elicit some information from
Aunt Lucy, who, she felt sure, was in Paul's
confidence, she paid her a visit.
"Well, here's a pretty goings on," she
commenced, abruptly. Finding that Aunt Lucy
manifested no curiosity on the subject, she
continued, in a significant tone, "Of course, YOU
don't know anything about it."
"I can tell better when I know what you
refer to," said the old lady calmly.
"Oh, you are very ignorant all at once. I
suppose you didn't know Paul Prescott had
run away?"
"I am not surprised," said the old lady, in
the same quiet manner.
Mrs. Mudge had expected a show of
astonishment, and this calmness disconcerted her.
"You are not surprised!" she retorted. "I
presume not, since you knew all about it
beforehand. That's why you were knitting him
some stockings. Deny it, if you dare."
"I have no disposition to deny it."
"You haven't!" exclaimed the questioner,
almost struck dumb with this audacity.
"No," said Aunt Lucy. "Why should I?
There was no particular inducement for him
to stay here. Wherever he goes, I hope he will
meet with good friends and good treatment."
"As much as to say he didn't find them here.
Is that what you mean?"
"I have no charges to bring."
"But I have," said Mrs. Mudge, her eyes
lighting with malicious satisfaction. "Last
night you missed a ten-dollar gold piece,
which you saw was stolen from you. This
morning it appears that Paul Prescott has run
away. I charge him with the theft."
"You do not, can not believe this," said the
old lady, uneasily.
"Of course I do," returned Mrs. Mudge,
triumphantly, perceiving her advantage. "I
have no doubt of it, and when we get the boy
back, he shall be made to confess it."
Aunt Lucy looked troubled, much to the
gratification of Mrs. Mudge. It was but for a
short time, however. Rising from her seat,
she stood confronting Mrs. Mudge, and said
quietly, but firmly, "I have no doubt, Mrs.
Mudge, you are capable of doing what you say.
I would advise you, however, to pause. You
know, as well as I do, that Paul is incapable
of this theft. Even if he were wicked enough
to form the idea, he would have no need, since
it was my intention to GIVE him this money.
Who did actually steal the gold, you PERHAPS
know better than I. Should it be necessary, I
shall not hesitate to say so. I advise you not
to render it necessary."
The threat which lay in these words was
understood. It came with the force of a
sudden blow to Mrs. Mudge, who had supposed it
would be no difficult task to frighten and
silence Aunt Lucy. The latter had always been
so yielding in all matters relating to herself,
that this intrepid championship of Paul's
interests was unlooked for. The tables were
completely turned. Pale with rage, and a
mortified sense of having been foiled with her
own weapons, Mrs. Mudge left the room.
Meanwhile her husband milked the cows,
and was now occupied in performing certain
other duties that could not be postponed, being
resolved, immediately after breakfast was
over, to harness up and pursue the runaway.
"Well, did you get anything out of the old
lady?" he inquired, as he came from the barn
with the full milk-pails.
"She said she knew beforehand that he was going."
"Eh!" said Mr. Mudge, pricking up his ears,
"did she say where?"
"No, and she won't. She knit him a pair
of stockings to help him off, and doesn't pretend
to deny it. She's taken a wonderful fancy
to the young scamp, and has been as obstinate
as could be ever since he has been here."
"If I get him back," said Mr. Mudge, "he
shall have a good flogging, if I am able to give
him one, and she shall be present to see it."
"That's right," said Mrs. Mudge, approvingly,
"when are you going to set out after him?"
"Right after breakfast. So be spry, and get
it ready as soon as you can."
Under the stimulus of this inspiring motive,
Mrs. Mudge bustled about with new energy,
and before many minutes the meal was in
readiness. It did not take long to dispatch it.
Immediately afterwards, Mr. Mudge harnessed up,
as he had determined, and started off in pursuit
of our hero.
In the meantime the two boys had walked
leisurely along, conversing on various subjects.
"When you get to the city, Paul," said John,
"I shall want to hear from you. Will you
write to me?"
Paul promised readily.
"You can direct to John Burges, Burrville.
The postmaster knows me, and I shall be sure
to get it."
"I wish you were going with me," said Paul.
"Sometimes when I think that I am all alone
it discourages me. It would be so much pleasanter
to have some one with me."
"I shall come sometime," said John, "when
I am a little older. I heard father say
something the other day about my going into a
store in the city. So we may meet again."
"I hope we shall."
They were just turning a bend of the road,
when Paul chanced to look backward. About
a quarter of a mile back he descried a horse
and wagon wearing a familiar look. Fixing
his eyes anxiously upon them, he was soon
made aware that his suspicions were only too
well founded. It was Mr. Mudge, doubtless in
quest of him.
"What shall I do?" he asked, hurriedly of
his companion.
"What's the matter?"
This was quickly explained.
John was quickwitted, and he instantly
decided upon the course proper to be pursued.
On either side of the road was a growth of
underbrush so thick as to be almost impenetrable.
"Creep in behind there, and be quick about
it," directed John, "there is no time to lose."
"There," said he, after Paul had followed
his advice, "if he can see you now he must
have sharp eyes."
"Won't you come in too?"
"Not I," said John, "I am anxious to see
this Mr. Mudge, since you have told me so
much about him. I hope he will ask me some
"What will you tell him?"
"Trust me for that. Don't say any more.
He's close by."
John lounged along, appearing to be very
busily engaged in making a whistle from a slip
of willow which he had a short time before cut
from the tree. He purposely kept in the
middle of the road, apparently quite unaware
of the approach of the vehicle, until he was
aroused by the sound of a voice behind him.
"Be a little more careful, if you don't want
to get run over."
John assumed a look of surprise, and with
comic terror ran to the side of the road.
Mr. Mudge checked his horse, and came to a
sudden halt.
"I say, youngster, haven't you seen a boy of
about your own size walking along, with a
bundle in his hand?"
"Tied up in a red cotton handkerchief?"
inquired John.
"Yes, I believe so," said Mr. Mudge, eagerly,
"where did you----"
"With a blue cloth cap?"
"Yes, where----"
"Gray jacket and pants?"
"Yes, yes. Where?"
"With a patch on one knee?"
"Yes, the very one. When did you see
him?" said Mr. Mudge, getting ready to
start his horse.
"Perhaps it isn't the one you mean,"
continued John, who took a mischievous delight in
playing with the evident impatience of Mr.
Mudge; "the boy that I saw looked thin, as
if he hadn't had enough to eat."
Mr. Mudge winced slightly, and looked at
John with some suspicion. But John put on
so innocent and artless a look that Mr. Mudge
at once dismissed the idea that there was any
covert meaning in what he said. Meanwhile
Paul, from his hiding-place in the bushes, had
listened with anxiety to the foregoing colloquy.
When John described his appearance so minutely,
he was seized with a sudden apprehension
that the boy meant to betray him. But
he dismissed it instantly. In his own singleness
of heart he could not believe such duplicity
possible. Still, it was not without anxiety
that he waited to hear what would be said next.
"Well," said Mr. Mudge, slowly, "I don't
know but he is a little PEAKED. He's been sick
lately, and that's took off his flesh."
"Was he your son?" asked John, in a
sympathizing tone; "you must feel quite troubled
about him."
He looked askance at Mr. Mudge, enjoying
that gentleman's growing irritation.
"My son? No. Where----"
"Nephews perhaps?" suggested the
imperturbable John, leisurely continuing the
manufacture of a whistle.
"No, I tell you, nothing of the kind. But
I can't sit waiting here."
"Oh, I hope you'll excuse me," said John,
apologetically. "I hope you won't stop on my
account. I didn't know you were in a hurry."
"Well, you know it now," said Mr. Mudge,
crossly. "When and where did you see the
boy you have described? I am in pursuit of him."
"Has he run away?" inquired John in
assumed surprise.
"Are you going to answer my question or
not?" demanded Mr. Mudge, angrily.
"Oh, I beg your pardon. I shouldn't have
asked so many questions, only I thought he
was a nice-looking boy, and I felt interested
in him."
"He's a young scamp," said Mr. Mudge,
impetuously, "and it's my belief that you're
another. Now answer my question. When and
where did you see this boy?"
This time Mr. Mudge's menacing look
warned John that he had gone far enough.
Accordingly he answered promptly, "He
passed by our farm this morning."
"How far back is that?"
"About three miles."
"Did he stop there?"
"Yes, he stopped a while to rest."
"Have you seen him since?"
"Yes, I saw him about half a mile back."
"On this road?"
"Yes, but he turned up the road that
branches off there."
"Just what I wanted to find out," said Mr.
Mudge, in a tone of satisfaction, "I'm sure to
catch him."
So saying, he turned about and put his horse
to its utmost speed, determined to make up
for lost time. When he was fairly out of sight,
Paul came forth from his hiding-place.
"How could you do so!" he asked in a
reproachful tone.
"Could I do what?" asked John, turning a
laughing face towards Paul. "Didn't I tell
old Mudge the exact truth? You know you
did turn up that road. To be sure you didn't
go two rods before turning back. But he
didn't stop to ask about that. If he hadn't
been in such a hurry, perhaps I should have
told him. Success to him!"
"You can't think how I trembled when you
described me so particularly."
"You didn't think I would betray you?"
said John, quickly.
"No, but I was afraid you would venture
too far, and get us both into trouble."
"Trust me for that, Paul; I've got my eyes
wide open, and ain't easily caught. But
wasn't it fun to see old Mudge fuming while I
kept him waiting. What would he have said
if he had known the bird was so near at hand?
He looked foolish enough when I asked him if
you were his son."
John sat down and gave vent to his pent-up
laughter which he had felt obliged to restrain
in the presence of Mr. Mudge. He laughed so
heartily that Paul, notwithstanding his recent
fright and anxiety, could not resist the infection.
Together they laughed, till the very air
seemed vocal with merriment.
John was the first to recover his gravity.
"I am sorry, Paul," he said, "but I must
bid you good-by. They will miss me from the
house. I am glad I have got acquainted with
you, and I hope I shall see you again some time
before very long. Good-by, Paul."
"Good-by, John."
The two boys shook hands and parted. One
went in one direction, the other in the opposite.
Each looked back repeatedly till the other was
out of sight. Then came over Paul once more
a feeling of sadness and desolation, which the
high spirits of his companion had for the time
kept off. Occasionally he cast a glance
backwards, to make sure that Mr. Mudge was not
following him. But Paul had no cause to fear
on that score. The object of his dread was
already some miles distant in a different
For an hour longer, Paul trudged on. He
met few persons, the road not being very much
frequented. He was now at least twelve miles
from his starting-place, and began to feel very
sensibly the effects of heat and fatigue
combined. He threw himself down upon the grass
under the overhanging branches of an appletree
to rest. After his long walk repose
seemed delicious, and with a feeling of
exquisite enjoyment he stretched himself out at
full length upon the soft turf, and closed his eyes.
Insensibly he fell asleep. How long he slept
he could not tell. He was finally roused from
his slumber by something cold touching his
cheek. Starting up he rubbed his eyes in
bewilderment, and gradually became aware that
this something was the nose of a Newfoundland
dog, whose keen scent had enabled him
to discover the whereabouts of the small stock
of provisions with which Paul had been
supplied by his late companion. Fortunately he
awoke in time to save its becoming the prey of
its canine visitor.
"I reckon you came nigh losing your dinner,"
fell upon his ears in a rough but hearty tone.
At the same time he heard the noise of
wheels, and looking up, beheld a specimen of
a class well known throughout New England
--a tin pedler. He was seated on a cart liberally
stocked with articles of tin ware. From
the rear depended two immense bags, one of
which served as a receptacle for white rags, the
other for bits of calico and whatever else may
fall under the designation of "colored." His
shop, for such it was, was drawn at a brisk
pace by a stout horse, who in this respect
presented a contrast to his master, who was long
and lank. The pedler himself was a man of
perhaps forty, with a face in which shrewdness
and good humor seemed alike indicated. Take
him for all in all, you might travel some distance
without falling in with a more complete
specimen of the Yankee.
"So you came nigh losing your dinner," he
repeated, in a pleasant tone.
"Yes," said Paul, "I got tired and fell
asleep, and I don't know when I should have
waked up but for your dog."
"Yes, Boney's got a keen scent for
provisions," laughed the pedler. "He's a little
graspin', like his namesake. You see his real
name is Bonaparte; we only call him Boney,
for short."
Meanwhile he had stopped his horse. He
was about to start afresh, when a thought
struck him.
"Maybe you're goin' my way," said he, turning
to Paul; "if you are, you're welcome to a ride."
Paul was very glad to accept the invitation.
He clambered into the cart, and took a seat
behind the pedler, while Boney, who took his
recent disappointment very good-naturedly,
jogged on contentedly behind.
"How far are you goin'?" asked Paul's
new acquaintance, as he whipped up his horse.
Paul felt a little embarrassed. If he had
been acquainted with the names of any of the
villages on the route he might easily have answered.
As it was, only one name occurred to him.
"I think," said he, with some hesitation,
"that I shall go to New York."
"New York!" repeated the pedler, with a
whistle expressive of his astonishment.
"Well, you've a journey before you.
Got any relations there?"
"No uncles, aunts, cousins, nor nothing?"
Paul shook his head.
"Then what makes you go? Haven't run
away from your father and mother, hey?"
asked the pedler, with a knowing look.
"I have no father nor mother," said Paul,
sadly enough.
"Well, you had somebody to take care of
you, I calculate. Where did you live?"
"If I tell you, you won't carry me back?"
said Paul, anxiously.
"Not a bit of it. I've got too much business
on hand for that."
Relieved by this assurance, Paul told his
story, encouraged thereto by frequent questions
from his companion, who seemed to take a lively
interest in the adventures of his young companion.
"That's a capital trick you played on old
Mudge," he said with a hearty laugh which
almost made the tins rattle. "I don't blame
you a bit for running away. I've got a story to
tell you about Mrs. Mudge. She's a regular skinflint."
This was the pedler's promised story about
Mrs. Mudge.
"The last time I was round that way, I
stopped, thinking maybe they might have some
rags to dispose of for tin-ware. The old lady
seemed glad to see me, and pretty soon she
brought down a lot of white rags. I thought
they seemed quite heavy for their bulk,--
howsomever, I wasn't looking for any tricks, and
I let it go. By-and-by, when I happened to
be ransacking one of the bags, I came across
half a dozen pounds or more of old iron tied
up in a white cloth. That let the cat out of the
bag. I knew why they were so heavy, then, I
reckon I shan't call on Mrs. Mudge next time
I go by."
"So you've run off," he continued, after a
pause, "I like your spunk,--just what I should
have done myself. But tell me how you managed
to get off without the old chap's finding
it out."
Paul related such of his adventures as he
had not before told, his companion listening
with marked approval.
"I wish I'd been there," he said. "I'd have
given fifty cents, right out, to see how old
Mudge looked, I calc'late he's pretty well tired
with his wild-goose chase by this time."
It was now twelve o'clock, and both the
travelers began to feel the pangs of hunger.
"It's about time to bait, I calc'late,"
remarked the pedler.
The unsophisticated reader is informed that
the word "bait," in New England phraseology,
is applied to taking lunch or dining.
At this point a green lane opened out of the
public road, skirted on either side by a row of
trees. Carpeted with green, it made a very
pleasant dining-room. A red-and-white heifer
browsing at a little distance looked up from
her meal and surveyed the intruders with mild
attention, but apparently satisfied that they
contemplated no invasion of her rights, resumed
her agreeable employment. Over an
irregular stone wall our travelers looked into
a thrifty apple-orchard laden with fruit. They
halted beneath a spreading chestnut-tree
which towered above its neighbors, and offered
them a grateful shelter from the noonday sun.
From the box underneath the seat, the pedler
took out a loaf of bread, a slice of butter,
and a tin pail full of doughnuts. Paul, on his
side, brought out his bread and gingerbread.
"I most generally carry round my own
provisions," remarked the pedler, between two
mouthfuls. "It's a good deal cheaper and
more convenient, too. Help yourself to the
doughnuts. I always calc'late to have some
with me. I'd give more for 'em any day than
for rich cake that ain't fit for anybody. My
mother used to beat everybody in the neighborhood
on making doughnuts. She made 'em so
good that we never knew when to stop eating.
You wouldn't hardly believe it, but, when I
was a little shaver, I remember eating twentythree
doughnuts at one time. Pretty nigh
killed me."
"I should think it might," said Paul, laughing.
"Mother got so scared that she vowed she
wouldn't fry another for three months, but I
guess she kinder lost the run of the almanac,
for in less than a week she turned out about a
bushel more."
All this time the pedler was engaged in
practically refuting the saying, that a man
cannot do two things at once. With a little
assistance from Paul, the stock of doughnuts
on which he had been lavishing encomiums,
diminished rapidly. It was evident that his
attachment to this homely article of diet was
quite as strong as ever.
"Don't be afraid of them," said he, seeing
that Paul desisted from his efforts, "I've got
plenty more in the box."
Paul signified that his appetite was already appeased.
"Then we might as well be jogging on. Hey,
Goliah," said he, addressing the horse, who
with an air of great content, had been browsing
while his master was engaged in a similar
manner. "Queer name for a horse, isn't it?
I wanted something out of the common way,
so I asked mother for a name, and she gave me
that. She's great on scripture names, mother
is. She gave one to every one of her children.
It didn't make much difference to her what
they were as long as they were in the Bible. I
believe she used to open the Bible at random,
and take the first name she happened to come
across. There are eight of us, and nary a
decent name in the lot. My oldest brother's
name is Abimelech. Then there's Pharaoh,
and Ishmael, and Jonadab, for the boys, and
Leah and Naomi, for the girls; but my name
beats all. You couldn't guess it?"
Paul shook his head.
"I don't believe you could," said the pedler,
shaking his head in comic indignation. "It's
Jehoshaphat. Ain't that a respectable name
for the son of Christian parents?"
Paul laughed.
"It wouldn't be so bad," continued the
pedler, "if my other name was longer; but Jehoshaphat
seems rather a long handle to put before
Stubbs. I can't say I feel particularly
proud of the name, though for use it'll do as
well as any other. At any rate, it ain't quite
so bad as the name mother pitched on for my
youngest sister, who was lucky enough to die
before she needed a name."
"What was it?" inquired Paul, really
curious to know what name could be considered
less desirable than Jehoshaphat.
"It was Jezebel," responded the pedler.
"Everybody told mother 'twould never do;
but she was kind of superstitious about it,
because that was the first name she came to in
the Bible, and so she thought it was the Lord's
will that that name should be given to the child."
As Mr. Stubbs finished his disquisition upon
names, there came in sight a small house, dark
and discolored with age and neglect. He
pointed this out to Paul with his whip-handle.
"That," said he, "is where old Keziah
Onthank lives. Ever heard of him?"
Paul had not.
"He's the oldest man in these parts,"
pursued his loquacious companion. "There's
some folks that seem a dyin' all the time, and
for all that manage to outlive half the young
folks in the neighborhood. Old Keziah Onthank
is a complete case in p'int. As long ago
as when I was cutting my teeth he was so old
that nobody know'd how old he was. He was
so bowed over that he couldn't see himself in
the looking-glass unless you put it on the floor,
and I guess even then what he saw wouldn't
pay him for his trouble. He was always ailin'
some way or other. Now it was rheumatism,
now the palsy, and then again the asthma. He
had THAT awful.
"He lived in the same tumble-down old
shanty we have just passed,--so poor that
nobody'd take the gift of it. People said that
he'd orter go to the poorhouse, so that when he
was sick--which was pretty much all the time
--he'd have somebody to take care of him.
But he'd got kinder attached to the old place,
seein' he was born there, and never lived anywhere
else, and go he wouldn't.
"Everybody expected he was near his end,
and nobody'd have been surprised to hear of
his death at any minute. But it's strange how
some folks are determined to live on, as I said
before. So Keziah, though he looked so old
when I was a boy that it didn't seem as if he
could look any older, kept on livin,' and livin',
and arter I got married to Betsy Sprague, he
was livin' still.
"One day, I remember I was passin' by the
old man's shanty, when I heard a dreadful
groanin', and thinks I to myself, `I shouldn't
wonder if the old man was on his last legs.'
So in I bolted. There he was, to be sure, a
lyin', on the bed, all curled up into a heap,
breathin' dreadful hard, and lookin' as white
and pale as any ghost. I didn't know exactly
what to do, so I went and got some water, but
he motioned it away, and wouldn't drink it,
but kept on groanin'.
"`He mustn't be left here to die without
any assistance,' thinks I, so I ran off as fast I
could to find the doctor.
"I found him eatin' dinner----
"Come quick," says I, "to old Keziah Onthank's.
He's dyin', as sure as my name is Jehoshaphat."
"Well," said the doctor, "die or no die, I
can't come till I've eaten my dinner."
"But he's dyin', doctor."
"Oh, nonsense. Talk of old Keziah Onthank's
dyin'. He'll live longer than I shall."
"I recollect I thought the doctor very
unfeelin' to talk so of a fellow creetur, just
stepping into eternity, as a body may say. However,
it's no use drivin' a horse that's made up
his mind he won't go, so although I did think
the doctor dreadful deliberate about eatin' his
dinner (he always would take half an hour for
it), I didn't dare to say a word for fear he
wouldn't come at all. You see the doctor was
dreadful independent, and was bent on havin'
his own way, pretty much, though for that
matter I think it's the case with most folks.
However, to come back to my story, I didn't
feel particularly comfortable while I was
waitin' his motions.
"After a long while the doctor got ready. I
was in such a hurry that I actilly pulled him
along, he walked so slow; but he only laughed,
and I couldn't help thinkin' that doctorin' had
a hardinin' effect on the heart. I was determined
if ever I fell sick I wouldn't send for him.
"At last we got there. I went in all of a
tremble, and crept to the bed, thinkin' I
should see his dead body. But he wasn't there
at all. I felt a little bothered you'd better
"Well," said the doctor, turning to me with
a smile, "what do you think now?"
"I don't know what to think," said I.
"Then I'll help you," said he.
"So sayin', he took me to the winder, and
what do you think I see? As sure as I'm alive,
there was the old man in the back yard, a
squattin' down and pickin' up chips."
"And is he still living?"
"Yes, or he was when I come along last.
The doctor's been dead these ten years. He
told me old Keziah would outlive him, but I
didn't believe him. I shouldn't be surprised if
he lived forever."
Paul listened with amused interest to this
and other stories with which his companion
beguiled the way. They served to divert his
mind from the realities of his condition, and
the uncertainty which hung over his worldly
"If you're in no great hurry to go to New
York," said the pedler, "I should like to have
you stay with me for a day or two. I live
about twenty-five miles from here, straight
ahead, so it will be on your way. I always
manage to get home by Saturday night if it is
any way possible. It doesn't seem comfortable
to be away Sunday. As to-day is Friday,
I shall get there to-morrow. So you can lie
over a day and rest yourself."
Paul felt grateful for this unexpected
invitation. It lifted quite a load from his mind,
since, as the day declined, certain anxious
thoughts as to where he should find shelter,
had obtruded themselves. Even now, the
same trouble would be experienced on Monday
night, but it is the characteristic of youth to
pay little regard to anticipated difficulties as
long as the present is provided for.
It must not be supposed that the pedler
neglected his business on account of his companion.
On the road he had been traveling the
houses were few and far between. He had,
therefore, but few calls to make. Paul
remarked, however, that when he did call he
seldom failed to sell something.
"Yes," said Mr. Stubbs, on being interrogated,
"I make it a p'int to sell something, if
it's no more than a tin dipper. I find some
hard cases sometimes, and sometimes I have
to give it up altogether. I can't quite come up
to a friend of mine, Daniel Watson, who used
to be in the same line of business. I never
knew him to stop at a place without selling
something. He had a good deal of judgment,
Daniel had, and knew just when to use `soft
sodder,' and when not to. On the road that
he traveled there lived a widow woman, who
had the reputation of being as ugly, crossgrained
a critter as ever lived. People used to
say that it was enough to turn milk sour for
her even to look at it. Well, it so happened
that Daniel had never called there. One night
he was boasting that he never called at a
house without driving a bargain, when one of
the company asked him, with a laugh, if he
had ever sold the widow anything.
"Why, no," said Daniel, "I never called
there; but I've no doubt I could."
"What'll you bet of it?"
"I'm not a betting man," said Daniel, "but
I feel so sure of it that I don't mind risking
five dollars."
"The next morning Daniel drove leisurely
up to the widow's door and knocked. She had
a great aversion to pedlers, and declared they
were cheats, every one of them. She was busy
sweeping when Daniel knocked. She came to
the door in a dreadful hurry, hoping it might
be an old widower in the neighborhood that
she was trying to catch. When she saw how
much she was mistaken she looked as black as
a thundercloud.
"Want any tin ware to-day, ma'am?"
inquired Daniel, noways discomposed.
"No, sir," snapped she.
"Got all kinds,--warranted the best in the
market. Couldn't I sell you something?"
"Not a single thing," said she, preparing
to shut the door; but Daniel, knowing all
would then be lost, stepped in before she could
shut it quite to, and began to name over some
of the articles he had in his wagon.
"You may talk till doomsday," said the
widow, as mad as could be, "and it won't do
a particle of good. Now, you've got your
answer, and you'd better leave the house before
you are driven out."
"Brooms, brushes, lamps----"
"Here the widow, who had been trying to
keep in her anger, couldn't hold out any
longer. She seized the broom she had been
sweeping with, and brought it down with a
tremendous whack upon Daniel's back. You
can imagine how hard it was, when I tell you
that the force of the blow snapped the broom
in the middle. You might have thought
Daniel would resent it, but he didn't appear to
notice it, though it must have hurt him awful.
He picked up the pieces, and handing them,
with a polite bow, to the widow, said, "Now,
ma'am, I'm sure you need a new broom. I've
got some capital ones out in the cart."
"The widow seemed kind of overpowered
by his coolness. She hardly knew what to say
or what to think. However, she had broken
her old broom, that was certain, and must
have a new one; so when Daniel ran out and
brought in a bundle of them, she picked out
one and paid for it without saying a word;
only, when Daniel asked if he might have the
pleasure of calling again, she looked a little
queer, and told him that if he considered it a
pleasure, she had no objection."
"And did he call again?"
"Yes, whenever he went that way. The
widow was always very polite to him after
that, and, though she had a mortal dislike to
pedlers in general, she was always ready to
trade with him. Daniel used to say that he
gained his bet and the widow's custom at ONE BLOW."
They were now descending a little hill at the
foot of which stood a country tavern. Here
Mr. Stubbs declared his intention of spending
the night. He drove into the barn, the
large door of which stood invitingly open, and
unharnessed his horse, taking especial care to
rub him down and set before him an ample
supply of provender.
"I always take care of Goliah myself," said
he. "He's a good friend to me, and it's no
more than right that I should take good care
of him. Now, we'll go into the house, and see
what we can get for supper."
He was surprised to see that Paul hung
back, and seemed disinclined to follow.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Stubbs, in
surprise. "Why don't you come?"
"Because," said Paul, looking embarrassed,
"I've got no money."
"Well, I have," said Mr. Stubbs, "and that
will answer just as well, so come along, and
don't be bashful. I'm about as hungry as a
bear, and I guess you are too."
Before many minutes, Paul sat down to a
more bountiful repast than he had partaken
of for many a day. There were warm biscuits
and fresh butter, such as might please the palate
of an epicure, while at the other end of the
table was a plate of cake, flanked on one side
by an apple-pie, on the other by one of pumpkin,
with its rich golden hue, such as is to be
found in its perfection, only in New England.
It will scarcely be doubted that our hungry travellers
did full justice to the fare set before them.
When they had finished, they went into the
public room, where were engaged some of the
village worthies, intent on discussing the news
and the political questions of the day. It was
a time of considerable political excitement,
and this naturally supplied the topic of
conversation. In this the pedler joined, for his
frequent travel on this route had made him
familiarly acquainted with many of those present.
Paul sat in a corner, trying to feel
interested in the conversation; but the day had
been a long one, and he had undergone an unusual
amount of fatigue. Gradually, his
drowsiness increased. The many voices fell
upon his ears like a lullaby, and in a few
minutes he was fast asleep.
Early next morning they were up and on
their way. It was the second morning since
Paul's departure. Already a sense of
freedom gave his spirits unwonted elasticity, and
encouraged him to hope for the best. Had his
knowledge of the future been greater, his
confidence might have been less. But would he
have been any happier?
So many miles separated him from his late
home, that he supposed himself quite safe from
detection. A slight circumstance warned him
that he must still be watchful and cautious.
As they were jogging easily along, they
heard the noise of wheels at a little distance.
Paul looked up. To his great alarms he recognized
in the driver of the approaching vehicle,
one of the selectmen of Wrenville.
"What's the matter?" asked his companion,
noticing his sudden look of apprehension.
Paul quickly communicated the ground of
his alarm.
"And you are afraid he will want to carry
you back, are you?"
"Not a bit of it. We'll circumvent the old
fellow, unless he's sharper than I think he is.
You've only got to do as I tell you."
To this Paul quickly agreed.
The selectman was already within a
hundred rods. He had not yet apparently noticed
the pedler's cart, so that this was in our hero's
favor. Mr. Stubbs had already arranged his
plan of operations.
"This is what you are to do, Paul," said he,
quickly. "Cock your hat on the side of your
head, considerably forward, so that he can't
see much of your face. Then here's a cigar to
stick in your mouth. You can make believe
that you are smoking. If you are the sort of
boy I reckon you are, he'll never think it's you."
Paul instantly adopted this suggestion.
Slipping his hat to one side in the jaunty
manner characteristic of young America, he
began to puff very gravely at a cigar the
pedler handed him, frequently taking it from his
mouth, as he had seen older persons do, to
knock away the ashes. Nothwithstanding his
alarm, his love of fun made him enjoy this
little stratagem, in which he bore his part
The selectman eyed him intently. Paul
began to tremble from fear of discovery, but his
apprehensions were speedily dissipated by a
remark of the new-comer, "My boy, you are
forming a very bad habit."
Paul did not dare to answer lest his voice should
betray him. To his relief, the pedler spoke----
"Just what I tell him, sir, but I suppose he
thinks he must do as his father does."
By this time the vehicles had passed each
other, and the immediate peril was over.
"Now, Paul," said his companion, laughing,
"I'll trouble you for that cigar, if you have
done with it. The old gentleman's advice was
good. If I'd never learned to smoke, I
wouldn't begin now."
Our hero was glad to take the cigar from
his mouth. The brief time he had held it was
sufficient to make him slightly dizzy.
Towards evening they drew up before a
small house with a neat yard in front.
"I guess we'll get out here," said Mr.
Stubbs. "There's a gentleman lives here that
I feel pretty well acquainted with. Shouldn't
wonder if he'd let us stop over Sunday.
Whoa, Goliah, glad to get home, hey?" as the
horse pricked up his ears and showed manifest
signs of satisfaction.
"Now, youngster, follow me, and I guess I
can promise you some supper, if Mrs. Stubbs
hasn't forgotten her old tricks."
They passed through the entry into the
kitchen, where Mrs. Stubbs was discovered
before the fire toasting slices of bread.
"Lor, Jehoshaphat," said she, "I didn't
expect you so soon," and she looked inquiringly
at his companion.
"A young friend who is going to stay with
us till Monday," explained the pedler. "His
name is Paul Prescott."
"I'm glad to see you, Paul," said Mrs.
Stubbs with a friendly smile. "You must be
tired if you've been traveling far. Take a seat.
Here's a rocking-chair for you."
This friendly greeting made Paul feel quite
at home. Having no children, the pedler and
his wife exerted themselves to make the time
pass pleasantly to their young acquaintance.
Paul could not help contrasting them with
Mr. and Mrs. Mudge, not very much to the
advantage of the latter. On Sunday he went to
church with them, and the peculiar circumstances
in which he was placed, made him listen
to the sermon with unusual attention. It
was an exposition of the text, "My help
cometh from the Lord," and Paul could not
help feeling that it was particularly applicable
to his own case. It encouraged him to
hope, that, however uncertain his prospects
appeared, God would help him if he put his
trust in Him.
On Monday morning Paul resumed his journey,
with an ample stock of provisions supplied
by Mrs. Stubbs, in the list of which
doughnuts occupied a prominent place; this
being at the particular suggestion of Mr. Stubbs.
Forty or fifty miles remained to be
traversed before his destination would be reached.
The road was not a difficult one to find, and
he made it out without much questioning.
The first night, he sought permission to sleep
in a barn.
He met with a decided refusal.
He was about to turn away in disappointment,
when he was called back.
"You are a little too fast, youngster. I said
I wouldn't let you sleep in my barn, and I
won't; but I've got a spare bed in the house,
and if you choose you shall occupy it."
Under the guise of roughness, this man had
a kind heart. He inquired into the particulars
of Paul's story, and at the conclusion terrified
him by saying that he had been very
foolish and ought to be sent back. Nevertheless,
when Paul took leave of him the next
morning, he did not go away empty-handed.
"If you must be so foolish as to set up for
yourself, take this," said the farmer, placing
half a dollar in his hand. "You may reach
the city after the banks are closed for the day,
you know," he added, jocularly.
But it was in the morning that Paul came
in sight of the city. He climbed up into a high
tree, which, having the benefit of an elevated
situation, afforded him an extensive prospect.
Before him lay the great city of which
he had so often heard, teeming with life and
Half in eager anticipation, half in awe and
wonder at its vastness, our young pilgrim
stood upon the threshold of this great Babel.
Everything looked new and strange. It had
never entered Paul's mind, that there could
be so many houses in the whole State as now
rose up before him. He got into Broadway,
and walked on and on thinking that the street
must end somewhere. But the farther he
walked the thicker the houses seemed crowded
together. Every few rods, too, he came to a
cross street, which seemed quite as densely
peopled as the one on which he was walking.
One part of the city was the same as another
to Paul, since he was equally a stranger to all.
He wandered listlessly along, whither fancy
led. His mind was constantly excited by the
new and strange objects which met him at
every step.
As he was looking in at a shop window, a
boy of about his own age, stopped and inquired
confidentially, "when did you come
from the country?"
"This morning," said Paul, wondering how a stranger
should know that he was a country boy.
"Could you tell me what is the price of
potatoes up your way?" asked the other boy,
with perfect gravity.
"I don't know," said Paul, innocently.
"I'm sorry for that," said the other, "as I
have got to buy some for my wife and family."
Paul stared in surprise for a moment, and
then realizing that he was being made game
of, began to grow angry.
"You'd better go home to your wife and family,"
he said with spirit, "or you may get hurt."
"Bully for you, country!" answered the other
with a laugh. "You're not as green as you look."
"Thank you," said Paul, "I wish I could
say as much for you."
Tired with walking, Paul at length sat
down in a doorway, and watched with interest
the hurrying crowds that passed before him.
Everybody seemed to be in a hurry, pressing
forward as if life and death depended on his
haste. There were lawyers with their sharp,
keen glances; merchants with calculating
faces; speculators pondering on the chances
of a rise or fall in stocks; errand boys with
bundles under their arms; business men hurrying
to the slip to take the boat for Brooklyn
or Jersey City,--all seemed intent on business
of some kind, even to the ragged newsboys
who had just obtained their supply of evening
papers, and were now crying them at the top
of their voices,--and very discordant ones at
that, so Paul thought. Of the hundreds
passing and repassing before him, every one had
something to do. Every one had a home to go
to. Perhaps it was not altogether strange that
a feeling of desolation should come over Paul
as he recollected that he stood alone, homeless,
friendless, and, it might be, shelterless for the
coming night.
"Yet," thought he with something of
hopefulness, "there must be something for me to
do as well as the rest."
Just then a boy some two years older than
Paul paced slowly by, and in passing, chanced
to fix his eyes upon our hero. He probably
saw something in Paul which attracted him,
for he stepped up and extending his hand,
said, "why, Tom, how came you here?"
"My name isn't Tom," said Paul, feeling a
little puzzled by this address.
"Why, so it isn't. But you look just like
my friend, Tom Crocker."
To this succeeded a few inquiries, which
Paul unsuspiciously answered.
"Do you like oysters?" inquired the new
comer, after a while.
"Very much."
"Because I know of a tip top place to get
some, just round the corner. Wouldn't you
like some?"
Paul thanked his new acquaintance, and
said he would.
Without more ado, his companion ushered
him into a basement room near by. He led the
way into a curtained recess, and both boys
took seats one on each side of a small table.
"Just pull the bell, will you, and tell the
waiter we'll have two stews."
Paul did so.
"I suppose," continued the other, "the governor
wouldn't like it much if he knew where I was."
"The governor!" repeated Paul. "Why, it
isn't against the laws, is it?"
"No," laughed the other. "I mean my
father. How jolly queer you are!" He
meant to say green, but had a purpose in not
offending Paul.
"Are you the Governor's son?" asked Paul in amazement.
"To be sure," carelessly replied the other.
Paul's wonder had been excited many times
in the course of the day, but this was more
surprising than anything which had yet befallen
him. That he should have the luck to fall in
with the son of the Governor, on his first
arrival in the city, and that the latter should
prove so affable and condescending, was indeed
surprising. Paul inwardly determined to
mention it in his first letter to Aunt Lucy. He
could imagine her astonishment.
While he was busy with these thoughts, his
companion had finished his oysters.
"Most through?" he inquired nonchalantly.
"I've got to step out a minute; wait till I
come back."
Paul unsuspectingly assented.
He heard his companion say a word to the
barkeeper, and then go out.
He waited patiently for fifteen minutes and
he did not return; another quarter of an hour,
and he was still absent. Thinking he might
have been unexpectedly detained, he rose to
go, but was called back by the barkeeper.
"Hallo, youngster! are you going off without paying?"
"For what?" inquired Paul, in surprise.
"For the oysters, of course. You don't
suppose I give 'em away, do you?"
"I thought," hesitated Paul, "that the one
who was with me paid,--the Governor's son,"
he added, conscious of a certain pride in his
intimacy with one so nearly related to the
chief magistrate of the Commonwealth.
"The Governor's son," laughed the barkeeper.
"Why the Governor lives a hundred
miles off and more. That wasn't the Governor's
son any more than I am."
"He called his father governor," said Paul,
beginning to be afraid that he had made some
ridiculous blunder.
"Well, I wouldn't advise you to trust him
again, even if he's the President's son. He
only got you in here to pay for his oysters.
He told me when he went out that you would
pay for them."
"And didn't he say he was coming back?"
asked Paul, quite dumbfounded.
"He said you hadn't quite finished,
but would pay for both when you came out.
It's two shillings.
Paul rather ruefully took out the half dollar
which constituted his entire stock of money,
and tendered it to the barkeeper who returned
him the change.
So Paul went out into the streets, with his
confidence in human nature somewhat lessened.
Here, then, is our hero with twenty-five
cents in his pocket, and his fortune to make.
Although Paul could not help being vexed
at having been so cleverly taken in by his late
companion, he felt the better for having eaten
the oysters. Carefully depositing his only
remaining coin in his pocket, he resumed his
wanderings. It is said that a hearty meal is a
good promoter of cheerfulness. It was so in
Paul's case, and although he had as yet had no
idea where he should find shelter for the night
he did not allow that consideration to trouble him.
So the day passed, and the evening came on.
Paul's appetite returned to him once more.
He invested one-half of his money at an old
woman's stall for cakes and apples, and then
he ate leisurely while leaning against the iron
railing which encircles the park.
He began to watch with interest the movements
of those about him. Already the lamplighter
had started on his accustomed round,
and with ladder in hand was making his way
from one lamp-post to another. Paul quite
marvelled at the celerity with which the lamps
were lighted, never before having witnessed
the use of gas. He was so much interested in
the process that he sauntered along behind the
lamplighter for some time. At length his eye
fell upon a group common enough in our cities,
but new to him.
An Italian, short and dark-featured, with
a velvet cap, was grinding out music from a
hand-organ, while a woman with a complexion
equally dark, and black sorrowful-looking
eyes, accompanied her husband on the tambourine.
They were playing a lively tune as
Paul came up, but quickly glided into "Home,
Sweet Home."
Paul listened with pleased, yet sad interest,
for him "home" was only a sad remembrance.
He wandered on, pausing now and then to
look into one of the brilliantly illuminated
shop windows, or catching a glimpse through
the open doors of the gay scene within, and
as one after another of these lively scenes
passed before him, he began to think that all
the strange and wonderful things in the world
must be collected in these rich stores.
Next, he came to a place of public amusement.
Crowds were entering constantly, and
Paul, from curiosity, entered too. He passed
on to a little wicket, when a man stopped him.
"Where's your ticket?" he asked.
"I haven't got any," said Paul.
"Then what business have you here?" said
the man, roughly.
"Isn't this a meeting-house?" asked Paul.
This remark seemed to amuse two boys who
were standing by. Looking up with some
indignation, Paul recognized in one of them the
boy who had cheated him out of the oysters.
`Look here," said Paul, "what made you go off
and leave me to pay for the oysters this morning?"
"Which of us do you mean?" inquired the
"governor's son," carelessly.
"I mean you."
"Really, I don't understand your meaning.
Perhaps you mistake me for somebody else."
"What?" said Paul, in great astonishment.
"Don't you remember me, and how you told
me you were the Governor's son?"
Both boys laughed.
"You must be mistaken. I haven't the
honor of being related to the distinguished
gentleman you name."
The speaker made a mocking bow to Paul.
"I know that," said Paul, with spirit, "but
you said you were, for all that."
"It must have been some other good-looking
boy, that you are mistaking me for. What are
you going to do about it? I hope, by the way,
that the oysters agreed with you."
"Yes, they did," said Paul, "for I came
honestly by them."
"He's got you there, Gerald," said the other boy.
Paul made his way out of the theater. As
his funds were reduced to twelve cents, he
could not have purchased a ticket if he had
desired it.
Still he moved on.
Soon he came to another building, which
was in like manner lighted up, but not so
brilliantly as the theater. This time, from the
appearance of the building, and from the tall
steeple,--so tall that his eye could scarcely
reach the tapering spire,--he knew that it
must be a church. There was not such a
crowd gathered about the door as at the place
he had just left, but he saw a few persons
entering, and he joined them. The interior of
the church was far more gorgeous than the
plain village meeting-house which he had been
accustomed to attend with his mother. He
gazed about him with a feeling of awe, and
sank quietly into a back pew. As it was a
week-day evening, and nothing of unusual
interest was anticipated, there were but few
present, here and there one, scattered through
the capacious edifice.
By-and-by the organist commenced playing,
and a flood of music, grander and more solemn
than he had ever heard, filled the whole edifice.
He listened with rapt attention and suspended
breath till the last note died away, and then
sank back upon the richly cushioned seat with
a feeling of enjoyment.
In the services which followed he was not so
much interested. The officiating clergyman
delivered a long homily in a dull unimpassioned
manner, which failed to awaken his interest.
Already disposed to be drowsy, it
acted upon him like a gentle soporific. He
tried to pay attention as he had always been
used to do, but owing to his occupying a back
seat, and the low voice of the preacher, but
few words reached him, and those for the most
part were above his comprehension.
Gradually the feeling of fatigue--for he had
been walking the streets all day--became so
powerful that his struggles to keep awake became
harder and harder. In vain he sat erect,
resolved not to yield. The moment afterwards
his head inclined to one side; the lights began
to swim before his eyes; the voice of the
preacher subsided into a low and undistinguishable
hum. Paul's head sank upon the
cushion, his bundle, which had been his constant
companion during the day, fell softly to
the floor, and he fell into a deep sleep.
Meanwhile the sermon came to a close, and
another hymn was sung, but even the music
was insufficient to wake our hero now. So the
benediction was pronounced, and the people
opened the doors of their pews and left the church.
Last of all the sexton walked up and down
the aisles, closing such of the pew doors as
were open. Then he shut off the gas, and after
looking around to see that nothing was
forgotten, went out, apparently satisfied, and
locked the outer door behind him.
Paul, meanwhile, wholly unconscious of his
situation, slept on as tranquilly as if there
were nothing unusual in the circumstances in
which he was placed. Through the stained
windows the softened light fell upon his tranquil
countenance, on which a smile played, as
if his dreams were pleasant. What would
Aunt Lucy have thought if she could have seen
her young friend at this moment?
Notwithstanding his singular bedchamber,
Paul had a refreshing night's sleep from which
he did not awake till the sun had fairly risen,
and its rays colored by the medium through
which they were reflected, streamed in at the
windows and rested in many fantastic lines on
the richly carved pulpit and luxurious pews.
Paul sprang to his feet and looked around
him in bewilderment.
"Where am I?" he exclaimed in astonishment.
In the momentary confusion of ideas which
is apt to follow a sudden awakening, he could
not remember where he was, or how he chanced
to be there. But in a moment memory came to
his aid, and he recalled the events of the
preceding day, and saw that he must have been
locked up in the church.
"How am I going to get out?" Paul asked
himself in dismay.
This was the important question just now.
He remembered that the village meeting-house
which he had been accustomed to attend was
rarely opened except on Sundays. What if
this should be the case here? It was Thursday
morning, and three days must elapse before
his release. This would never do. He must
seek some earlier mode of deliverance.
He went first to the windows, but found
them so secured that it was impossible for him
to get them open. He tried the doors, but
found, as he had anticipated, that they were
fast. His last resource failing, he was at
liberty to follow the dictates of his curiosity.
Finding a small door partly open, he peeped
within, and found a flight of steep stairs rising
before him. They wound round and round,
and seemed almost interminable. At length,
after he had become almost weary of ascending,
he came to a small window, out of which
he looked. At his feet lay the numberless roofs
of the city, while not far away his eye rested
on thousands of masts. The river sparkled in
the sun, and Paul, in spite of his concern,
could not help enjoying the scene. The sound
of horses and carriages moving along the
great thoroughfare below came confusedly to
his ears. He leaned forward to look down, but
the distance was so much greater than he had
thought, that he drew back in alarm.
"What shall I do?" Paul asked himself,
rather frightened. "I wonder if I can stand
going without food for three days? I suppose
nobody would hear me if I should scream as
loud as I could."
Paul shouted, but there was so much noise
in the streets that nobody probably heard him.
He descended the staircase, and once more
found himself in the body of the church. He
went up into the pulpit, but there seemed no
hope of escape in that direction. There was
a door leading out on one side, but this only
led to a little room into which the minister
retired before service.
It semmed rather odd to Paul to find himself
the sole occupant of so large a building. He
began to wonder whether it would not have
been better for him to stay in the poorhouse,
than come to New York to die of starvation.
Just at this moment Paul heard a key rattle
in the outer door. Filled with new hope, he
ran down the pulpit stairs and out into the porch,
just in time to see the entrance of the sexton.
The sexton started in surprise as his eye
fell upon Paul standing before him, with his
bundle under his arm.
"Where did you come from, and how came
you here?" he asked with some suspicion.
"I came in last night, and fell asleep."
"So you passed the night here?"
"Yes, sir."
"What made you come in at all?" inquired
the sexton, who knew enough of boys to be
curious upon this point.
"I didn't know where else to go," said Paul.
"Where do you live?"
Paul answered with perfect truth, "I don't
live anywhere."
"What! Have you no home?" asked the
sexton in surprise.
Paul shook his head.
"Where should you have slept if you hadn't
come in here?"
"I don't know, I'm sure."
"And I suppose you don't know where you
shall sleep to-night?"
Paul signified that he did not.
"I knew there were plenty of such cases,"
said the sexton, meditatively; "but I never
seemed to realize it before."
"How long have you been in New York?"
was his next inquiry.
"Not very long," said Paul. "I only got
here yesterday."
"Then you don't know anybody in the city?"
"Why did you come here, then?"
"Because I wanted to go somewhere where
I could earn a living, and I thought I might
find something to do here."
"But suppose you shouldn't find anything to do?"
"I don't know," said Paul, slowly. "I
haven't thought much about that."
"Well, my lad," said the sexton, not
unkindly, "I can't say your prospects look very
bright. You should have good reasons for
entering on such an undertaking. I--I don't
think you are a bad boy. You don't look like
a bad one," he added, half to himself.
"I hope not, sir," said Paul.
"I hope not, too. I was going to say that
I wish I could help you to some kind of work.
If you will come home with me, you shall be
welcome to a dinner, and perhaps I may be
able to think of something for you."
Paul gladly prepared to follow his new acquaintance.
"What is your name?" inquired the sexton.
"Paul Prescott."
"That sounds like a good name. I suppose
you haven't got much money?"
"Only twelve cents."
"Bless me! only twelve cents. Poor boy!
you are indeed poor."
"But I can work," said Paul, spiritedly. "I
ought to be able to earn my living."
"Yes, yes, that's the way to feel. Heaven
helps those who help themselves."
When they were fairly out of the church,
Paul had an opportunity of observing his companion's
external appearance. He was an elderly
man, with harsh features, which would
have been forbidding, but for a certain air of
benevolence which softened their expression.
As Paul walked along, he related, with less
of detail, the story which is already known to
the reader. The sexton said little except in
the way of questions designed to elicit further
particulars, till, at the conclusion he said,
"Must tell Hester."
At length they came to a small house, in a
respectable but not fashionable quarter of the
city. One-half of this was occupied by the
sexton. He opened the door and led the way into
the sitting-room. It was plainly but neatly
furnished, the only ornament being one or two
engravings cheaply framed and hung over the
mantel-piece. They were by no means gems of
art, but then, the sexton did not claim to be a
connoisseur, and would probably not have
understood the meaning of the word.
"Sit here a moment," said the sexton,
pointing to a chair, "I'll go and speak to Hester."
Paul whiled away the time in looking at the
pictures in a copy of "The Pilgrim's Progress,"
which lay on the table.
In the next room sat a woman of perhaps
fifty engaged in knitting. It was very easy to
see that she could never have possessed the
perishable gift of beauty. Hers was one of the
faces on which nature has written PLAIN, in
unmistakable characters. Yet if the outward
features had been a reflex of the soul within,
few faces would have been more attractive
than that of Hester Cameron. At the feet of
the sexton's wife, for such she was, reposed a
maltese cat, purring softly by way of showing
her contentment. Indeed, she had good reason
to be satisfied. In default of children, puss
had become a privileged pet, being well fed
and carefully shielded from all the perils that
beset cat-hood.
"Home so soon?" said Hester inquiringly,
as her husband opened the door.
"Yes, Hester, and I have brought company
with me," said the sexton.
"Company!" repeated his wife. "Who is it?"
"It is a poor boy, who was accidentally
locked up in the church last night."
"And he had to stay there all night?"
"Yes; but perhaps it was lucky for him, for
he had no other place to sleep, and not money
enough to pay for one."
"Poor child!" said Hester, compassionately.
"Is it not terrible to think that any
human creature should be without the comforts
of a home which even our tabby possesses.
It ought to make you thankful that you are
so well cared for, Tab."
The cat opened her eyes and winked
drowsily at her mistress.
"So you brought the poor boy home, Hugh?"
"Yes, Hester,--I thought we ought not to
begrudge a meal to one less favored by fortune
than ourselves. You know we should consider
ourselves the almoners of God's bounties."
"Surely, Hugh."
"I knew you would feel so, Hester. And
suppose we have the chicken for dinner that I
sent in the morning. I begin to have a famous
appetite. I think I should enjoy it."
Hester knew perfectly well that it was for
Paul's sake, and not for his own, that her
husband spoke. But she so far entered into
his feelings, that she determined to expend her
utmost skill as cook upon the dinner, that Paul
might have at least one good meal.
"Now I will bring the boy in," said he. "I
am obliged to go to work, but you will find
some way to entertain him, I dare say."
"If you will come out (this he said to
Paul), I will introduce you to a new friend."
Paul was kindly welcomed by the sexton's
wife, who questioned him in a sympathizing
tone about his enforced stay in the church. To
all her questions Paul answered in a modest
yet manly fashion, so as to produce a decidedly
favorable impression upon his entertainer.
Our hero was a handsome boy. Just at
present he was somewhat thin, not having
entirely recovered from the effects of his sickness
and poor fare while a member of Mr. Mudge's
family; but he was well made, and bade fair
to become a stout boy. His manner was free
and unembarrassed, and he carried a letter of
recommendation in his face. It must be admitted,
however that there were two points in
which his appearance might have been improved.
Both his hands and face had suffered
from the dust of travel. His clothes, too, were
full of dust.
A single glance told Hester all this, and she
resolved to remedy it.
She quietly got some water and a towel, and
requested Paul to pull off his jacket, which
she dusted while he was performing his
ablutions. Then, with the help of a comb to
arrange his disordered hair, he seemed quite like
a new boy, and felt quite refreshed by the operation.
"Really, it improves him very much," said
Hester to herself.
She couldn't help recalling a boy of her own,
--the only child she ever had,--who had been
accidentally drowned when about the age of
"If he had only lived," she thought, "how
different might have been our lives."
A thought came into her mind, and she
looked earnestly at Paul.
"I--yes I will speak to Hugh about it," she
said, speaking aloud, unconsciously.
"Did you speak to me?" asked Paul.
"No,--I was thinking of something."
She observed that Paul was looking rather
wistfully at a loaf of bread on the table.
"Don't you feel hungry?" she asked, kindly.
"I dare say you have had no breakfast."
"I have eaten nothing since yesterday afternoon."
"Bless my soul! How hungry you must
be!" said the good woman, as she bustled about
to get a plate of butter and a knife.
She must have been convinced of it by the
rapid manner in which the slices of bread and
butter disappeared.
At one o'clock the sexton came home.
Dinner was laid, and Paul partook of it with an
appetite little affected by his lunch of the
morning. As he rose from the table, he took
his cap, and saying, "Good-by, I thank you
very much for your kindness!" he was about to
"Where are you going?" asked the sexton,
in surprise.
"I don't know," answered Paul.
"Stop a minute. Hester, I want to speak to you."
They went into the sitting-room together.
"This boy, Hester," he commenced with
"Well, Hugh?"
"He has no home."
"It is a hard lot."
"Do you think we should be the worse off
if we offered to share our home with him?"
"It is like your kind heart, Hugh. Let us
go and tell him."
"We have been talking of you, Paul," said
the sexton. "We have thought, Hester and
myself, that as you had no home and we no
child, we should all be the gainers by your
staying with us. Do you consent?"
"Consent!" echoed Paul in joyful surprise.
"How can I ever repay your kindness?"
"If you are the boy we take you for, we
shall feel abundantly repaid. Hester, we can
give Paul the little bedroom where--where
John used to sleep."
His voice faltered a little, for John was the
name of his boy, who had been drowned.
Paul found the sexton's dwelling very
different from his last home, if the Poorhouse
under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Mudge deserved
such a name. His present home was an
humble one, but he was provided with every
needful comfort, and the atmosphere of kindness
which surrounded him, gave him a feeling
of peace and happiness which he had not
enjoyed for a long time.
Paul supposed that he would be at once set
to work, and even then would have accounted
himself fortunate in possessing such a home.
But Mr. Cameron had other views for him.
"Are you fond of studying?" asked the
sexton, as they were all three gathered in the
little sitting room, an evening or two after
Paul first came.
"Very much!" replied our hero.
"And would you like to go to school?"
"What, here in New York?"
"Oh, very much indeed."
"I am glad to hear you say so, my lad.
There is nothing like a good education. If I
had a son of my own, I would rather leave him
that than money, for while the last may be
lost, the first never can be. And though you
are not my son, Paul, Providence has in a
manner conducted you to me, and I feel
responsible for your future. So you shall go to
school next Monday morning, and I hope you
will do yourself much credit there."
"Thank you very much," said Paul. "I
feel very grateful, but----"
"You surely are not going to object?" said
the sexton.
"No, but----"
"Well, Paul, go on," seeing that the boy
"Why," said our hero, with a sense of
delicacy which did him credit, "If I go to school,
I shall not be able to earn my board, and shall
be living at your expense, though I have no
claim upon you."
"Oh, is that all?" said the sexton
cheerfully, "I was afraid that it was something
more serious. As to that, I am not rich, and
never expect to be. But what little expense
you will be will not ruin me. Besides, when
you are grown up and doing well, you can repay
me, if I ever need it."
"That I will," said Paul.
"Mind, if I ever need it,--not otherwise.
There, now, it's a bargain on that condition.
You haven't any other objection," seeing that
Paul still hesitated.
"No, or at least I should like to ask your
advice," said Paul. "Just before my father
died, he told me of a debt of five hundred dollars
which he had not been able to pay. I saw
that it troubled him, and I promised to pay it
whenever I was able. I don't know but I
ought to go to work so as to keep my promise."
"No," said the sexton after a moment's
reflection, "the best course will be to go to
school, at present. Knowledge is power, and
a good education will help you to make money
by and by. I approve your resolution, my lad,
and if you keep it resolutely in mind I have
no doubt you will accomplish your object.
But the quickest road to success is through the
schoolroom. At present you are not able to
earn much. Two or three years hence will be
time enough."
Paul's face brightened as the sexton said
this. He instinctively felt that Mr. Cameron
was right. He had never forgotten his father's
dying injunction, and this was one reason that
impelled him to run away from the Almshouse,
because he felt that while he remained he
never would be in a situation to carry out his
father's wishes. Now his duty was reconciled
with his pleasure, and he gratefully accepted
the sexton's suggestions.
The next Monday morning, in accordance
with the arrangement which had just been
agreed upon, Paul repaired to school. He was
at once placed in a class, and lessons were
assigned him.
At first his progress was not rapid. While
living in Wrenville he had an opportunity only
of attending a country school, kept less than
six months in the year, and then not affording
advantages to be compared with those of a city
school. During his father's sickness, besides,
he had been kept from school altogether. Of
course all this lost time could not be made up
in a moment. Therefore it was that Paul
lagged behind his class.
There are generally some in every school,
who are disposed to take unfair advantage of
their schoolmates, or to ridicule those whom
they consider inferior to themselves.
There was one such in Paul's class. His
name was George Dawkins.
He was rather a showy boy, and learned
easily. He might have stood a class above where
he was, if he had not been lazy, and depended
too much on his natural talent. As it was, he
maintained the foremost rank in his class.
"Better be the first man in a village than
the second man in Rome," he used to say; and
as his present position not only gave him the
pre-eminence which he desired, but cost him
very little exertion to maintain, he was quite
well satisfied with it.
This boy stood first in his class, while Paul
entered at the foot.
He laughed unmercifully at the frequent
mistakes of our hero, and jeeringly dubbed
him, "Young Stupid."
"Do you know what Dawkins calls you?"
asked one of the boys.
"No. What does he call me?" asked Paul,
"He calls you `Young Stupid.'"
Paul's face flushed painfully. Ridicule was
as painful to him as it is to most boys, and he
felt the insult deeply.
"I'd fight him if I were you," was the
volunteered advice of his informant.
"No," said Paul. "That wouldn't mend
the matter. Besides, I don't know but he has
some reason for thinking so."
"Don't call yourself stupid, do you?"
"No, but I am not as far advanced as most
boys of my age. That isn't my fault, though.
I never had a chance to go to school much. If
I had been to school all my life, as Dawkins
has, it would be time to find out whether I am
stupid or not."
"Then you ain't going to do anything about
"Yes, I am."
"You said you wasn't going to fight him."
"That wouldn't do any good. But I'm
going to study up and see if I can't get ahead of
him. Don't you think that will be the best
way of showing him that he is mistaken?"
"Yes, capital, but----"
"But you think I can't do it, I suppose,"
said Paul.
"You know he is at the head of the class,
and you are at the foot."
"I know that," said Paul, resolutely. "But
wait awhile and see."
In some way George Dawkins learned that
Paul had expressed the determination to dispute
his place. It occasioned him considerable amusement.
"Halloa, Young Stupid," he called out, at recess.
Paul did not answer.
"Why don't you answer when you are
spoken to?" he asked angrily.
"When you call me by my right name," said
Paul, quietly, "I will answer, and not before."
"You're mighty independent," sneered
Dawkins. "I don't know but I may have to
teach you manners."
"You had better wait till you are qualified,"
said Paul, coolly.
Dawkins approached our hero menacingly,
but Paul did not look in the least alarmed, and
he concluded to attack him with words only.
"I understand you have set yourself up as
my rival!" he said, mockingly.
"Not just yet," said Paul, "but in time I
expect to be."
"So you expect my place," said Dawkins,
glancing about him.
"We'll talk about that three months hence,"
said Paul.
"Don't hurt yourself studying," sneered
Dawkins, scornfully.
To this Paul did not deign a reply, but the
same day he rose one in his class.
Our hero had a large stock of energy and
determination. When he had once set his
mind upon a thing, he kept steadily at work
till he accomplished it. This is the great
secret of success. It sometimes happens that
a man who has done nothing will at once
accomplish a brilliant success by one spasmodic
effort, but such cases are extremely rare.
"Slow and sure wins the race," is an old
proverb that has a great deal of truth in it.
Paul worked industriously.
The kind sexton and his wife, who noticed
his assiduity, strove to dissuade him from
working so steadily.
"You are working too hard, Paul," they said.
"Do I look pale?" asked Paul, pointing
with a smile to his red cheeks.
"No, but you will before long."
"When I am, I will study less. But you
know, Uncle Hugh," so the sexton instructed
him to call him, "I want to make the most
of my present advantages. Besides, there's a
particular boy who thinks I am stupid. I
want to convince him that he is mistaken."
"You are a little ambitious, then, Paul?"
"Yes, but it isn't that alone. I know the
value of knowledge, and I want to secure as
much as I can."
"That is an excellent motive, Paul."
"Then you won't make me study less?"
"Not unless I see you are getting sick."
Paul took good care of this. He knew how
to play as well as to study, and his laugh on
the playground was as merry as any. His
cheerful, obliging disposition made him a
favorite with his companions. Only George
Dawkins held out; he had, for some reason,
inbibed a dislike for Paul.
Paul's industry was not without effect. He
gradually gained position in his class.
"Take care, Dawkins," said one of his
companions--the same one who had before spoken
to Paul--"Paul Prescott will be disputing
your place with you. He has come up seventeen
places in a month."
"Much good it'll do him," said Dawkins,
"For all that, you will have to be careful;
I can tell you that."
"I'm not in the least afraid. I'm a little
too firm in my position to be ousted by Young
"Just wait and see."
Dawkins really entertained no apprehension.
He had unbounded confidence in himself,
and felt a sense of power in the rapidity
with which he could master a lesson. He
therefore did not study much, and though he
could not but see that Paul was rapidly
advancing, he rejected with scorn the idea that
Young Stupid could displace him.
This, however, was the object at which Paul
was aiming. He had not forgotten the nickname
which Dawkins had given him, and this
was the revenge which he sought,--a strictly
honorable one.
At length the day of his triumph came. At
the end of the month the master read off the
class-list, and, much to his disgust, George
Dawkins found himself playing second fiddle
to Young Stupid.
Mrs. Mudge was in the back room, bending
over a tub. It was washing-day, and she was
particularly busy. She was a driving, bustling
woman, and, whatever might be her faults of
temper, she was at least industrious and
energetic. Had Mr. Mudge been equally so,
they would have been better off in a worldly
point of view. But her husband was
constitutionally lazy, and was never disposed to
do more than was needful.
Mrs. Mudge was in a bad humor that morning.
One of the cows had got into the garden
through a gap in the fence, and made sad
havoc among the cabbages. Now if Mrs.
Mudge had a weakness, it was for cabbages.
She was excessively fond of them, and had
persuaded her husband to set out a large
number of plants from which she expected
a large crop. They were planted in one
corner of the garden, adjoining a piece of
land, which, since mowing, had been used for
pasturing the cows. There was a weak place
in the fence separating the two inclosures, and
this Mrs. Mudge had requested her husband to
attend to. He readily promised this, and Mrs.
Mudge supposed it done, until that same morning,
her sharp eyes had detected old Brindle
munching the treasured cabbages with a provoking
air of enjoyment. The angry lady
seized a broom, and repaired quickly to the
scene of devastation. Brindle scented the
danger from afar, and beat a disorderly retreat,
trampling down the cabbages which she
had hitherto spared. Leaping over the broken
fence, she had just cleared the gap as the
broom-handle, missing her, came forcibly
down upon the rail, and was snapped in sunder
by the blow.
Here was a new vexation. Brindle had not
only escaped scot-free, but the broom, a new
one, bought only the week before, was broken.
"It's a plaguy shame," said Mrs. Mudge,
angrily. "There's my best broom broken; cost
forty-two cents only last week."
She turned and contemplated the scene of
devastation. This yielded her little consolation.
"At least thirty cabbages destroyed by that
scamp of a cow," she exclaimed in a tone
bordering on despair. "I wish I'd a hit her. If
I'd broken my broom over her back I wouldn't
a cared so much. And it's all Mudge's fault.
He's the most shiftless man I ever see. I'll
give him a dressing down, see if I don't."
Mrs. Mudge's eyes snapped viciously, and
she clutched the relics of the broom with a degree
of energy which rendered it uncertain
what sort of a dressing down she intended for
her husband.
Ten minutes after she had re-entered the
kitchen, the luckless man made his appearance.
He wore his usual look, little dreaming
of the storm that awaited him.
"I'm glad you've come," said Mrs. Mudge,
"What's amiss, now?" inquired Mudge, for
he understood her look.
"What's amiss?" blazed Mrs. Mudge. "I'll
let you know. Do you see this?"
She seized the broken broom and flourished
it in his face.
"Broken your broom, have you? You must
have been careless."
"Careless, was I?" demanded Mrs. Mudge,
sarcastically. "Yes, of course, it's always I
that am in fault."
"You haven't broken it over the back of any
of the paupers, have you?" asked her husband,
who, knowing his helpmeet's infirmity of
temper, thought it possible she might have
indulged in such an amusement.
"If I had broken it over anybody's back it
would have been yours," said the lady.
"Mine! what have I been doing?"
"It's what you haven't done," said Mrs.
Mudge. "You're about the laziest and most
shiftless man I ever came across."
"Come, what does all this mean?"
demanded Mr. Mudge, who was getting a little
angry in his turn.
"I'll let you know. Just look out of that
window, will you?"
"Well," said Mr. Mudge, innocently, "I
don't see anything in particular."
"You don't!" said Mrs. Mudge with withering
sarcasm. "Then you'd better put on your
glasses. If you'd been here quarter of an hour
ago, you'd have seen Brindle among the cabbages."
"Did she do any harm?" asked Mr. Mudge, hastily.
"There's scarcely a cabbage left," returned
Mrs. Mudge, purposely exaggerating the mischief done.
"If you had mended that fence, as I told
you to do, time and again, it wouldn't have
"You didn't tell me but once," said Mr.
Mudge, trying to get up a feeble defence.
"Once should have been enough, and more
than enough. You expect me to slave myself
to death in the house, and see to all your work
besides. If I'd known what a lazy, shiftless
man you were, at the time I married you, I'd
have cut off my right hand first."
By this time Mr. Mudge had become angry.
"If you hadn't married me, you'd a died an
old maid," he retorted.
This was too much for Mrs. Mudge to bear.
She snatched the larger half of the broom, and
fetched it down with considerable emphasis
upon the back of her liege lord, who, perceiving
that her temper was up, retreated hastily
from the kitchen; as he got into the yard he
descried Brindle, whose appetite had been
whetted by her previous raid, re-entering the
garden through the gap.
It was an unfortunate attempt on the part
of Brindle. Mr. Mudge, angry with his wife,
and smarting with the blow from the broomstick,
determined to avenge himself upon the
original cause of all the trouble. Revenge
suggested craft. He seized a hoe, and crept
stealthily to the cabbage-plot. Brindle, whose
back was turned, did not perceive his
approach, until she felt a shower of blows upon
her back. Confused at the unexpected attack
she darted wildly away, forgetting the gap in
the fence, and raced at random over beds of
vegetables, uprooting beets, parsnips, and
turnips, while Mr. Mudge, mad with rage,
followed close in her tracks, hitting her with the
hoe whenever he got a chance.
Brindle galloped through the yard, and out
at the open gate. Thence she ran up the road
at the top of her speed, with Mr. Mudge still
pursuing her.
It may be mentioned here that Mr. Mudge
was compelled to chase the terrified cow over
two miles before he succeeded with the help of
a neighbor in capturing her. All this took
time. Meanwhile Mrs. Mudge at home was
subjected to yet another trial of her temper.
It has already been mentioned that Squire
Newcome was Chairman of the Overseers of
the Poor. In virtue of his office, he was
expected to exercise a general supervision over
the Almshouse and its management. It was
his custom to call about once a month to look
after matters, and ascertain whether any
official action or interference was needed.
Ben saw his father take his gold-headed
cane from behind the door, and start down the
road. He understood his destination, and
instantly the plan of a stupendous practical
joke dawned upon him.
"It'll be jolly fun," he said to himself, his
eyes dancing with fun. "I'll try it, anyway."
He took his way across the fields, so as to
reach the Almshouse before his father. He
then commenced his plan of operations.
Mrs. Mudge had returned to her tub, and
was washing away with bitter energy, thinking
over her grievances in the matter of Mr.
Mudge, when a knock was heard at the front
Taking her hands from the tub, she wiped
them on her apron.
"I wish folks wouldn't come on washing
day!" she said in a tone of vexation.
She went to the door and opened it.
There was nobody there.
"I thought somebody knocked," thought
she, a little mystified. "Perhaps I was mistaken."
She went back to her tub, and had no sooner
got her hands in the suds than another knock
was heard, this time on the back door.
"I declare!" said she, in increased vexation,
"There's another knock. I shan't get through
my washing to-day."
Again Mrs. Mudge wiped her hands on her
apron, and went to the door.
There was nobody there.
I need hardly say that it was Ben, who had
knocked both times, and instantly dodged
round the corner of the house.
"It's some plaguy boy," said Mrs. Mudge,
her eyes blazing with anger. "Oh, if I could
only get hold of him!"
"Don't you wish you could?" chuckled Ben
to himself, as he caught a sly glimpse of the
indignant woman.
Meanwhile, Squire Newcome had walked
along in his usual slow and dignified manner,
until he had reached the front door of the
Poorhouse, and knocked.
"It's that plaguy boy again," said Mrs.
Mudge, furiously. "I won't go this time, but
if he knocks again, I'll fix him."
She took a dipper of hot suds from the tub
in which she had been washing, and crept
carefully into the entry, taking up a station close
to the front door.
"I wonder if Mrs. Mudge heard me knock,"
thought Squire Newcome. "I should think
she might. I believe I will knock again."
This time he knocked with his cane.
Rat-tat-tat sounded on the door.
The echo had not died away, when the door
was pulled suddenly open, and a dipper full
of hot suds was dashed into the face of the
astonished Squire, accompanied with, "Take
that, you young scamp!"
"Wh--what does all this mean?" gasped
Squire Newcome, nearly strangled with the
suds, a part of which had found its way into
his mouth.
"I beg your pardon, Squire Newcome," said
the horrified Mrs. Mudge. "I didn't mean it."
"What did you mean, then?" demanded
Squire Newcome, sternly. "I think you
addressed me,--ahem!--as a scamp."
"Oh, I didn't mean you," said Mrs. Mudge,
almost out of her wits with perplexity.
"Come in, sir, and let me give you a towel.
You've no idea how I've been tried this morning."
"I trust," said the Squire, in his stateliest
tone, "you will be able to give a satisfactory
explanation of this, ahem--extraordinary proceeding."
While Mrs. Mudge was endeavoring to sooth
the ruffled dignity of the aggrieved Squire,
the "young scamp," who had caused all the mischief,
made his escape through the fields.
"Oh, wasn't it bully!" he exclaimed. "I
believe I shall die of laughing. I wish Paul
had been here to see it. Mrs. Mudge has got
herself into a scrape, now, I'm thinking."
Having attained a safe distance from the Poorhouse,
Ben doubled himself up and rolled over and over
upon the grass, convulsed with laughter.
"I'd give five dollars to see it all over again,"
he said to himself. "I never had such splendid
fun in my life."
Presently the Squire emerged, his tall dicky
looking decidedly limp and drooping, his face
expressing annoyance and outraged dignity.
Mrs. Mudge attended him to the door with an
expression of anxious concern.
"I guess I'd better make tracks," said Ben
to himself, "it won't do for the old gentleman
to see me here, or he may smell a rat."
He accordingly scrambled over a stone wall
and lay quietly hidden behind it till he judged
it would be safe to make his appearance.
"Benjamin," said Squire Newcome, two
days after the occurrence mentioned in the
last chapter, "what made the dog howl so this
morning? Was you a doing anything to him?"
"I gave him his breakfast," said Ben,
innocently. "Perhaps he was hungry, and howling
for that."
"I do not refer to that," said the Squire.
"He howled as if in pain or terror. I repeat;
was you a doing anything to him?"
Ben shifted from one foot to the other, and
looked out of the window.
"I desire a categorical answer," said Squire Newcome.
"Don't know what categorical means," said
Ben, assuming a perplexed look.
"I desire you to answer me IMMEGIATELY,"
explained the Squire. "What was you a doing
to Watch?"
"I was tying a tin-kettle to his tail," said
Ben, a little reluctantly.
"And what was you a doing that for?"
pursued the Squire.
"I wanted to see how he would look," said
Ben, glancing demurely at his father, out of
the corner of his eye.
"Did it ever occur to you that it must be
disagreeable to Watch to have such an appendage
to his tail?" queried the Squire.
"I don't know," said Ben.
"How should you like to have a tin pail
suspended to your--ahem! your coat tail?"
"I haven't got any coat tail," said Ben, "I
wear jackets. But I think I am old enough to
wear coats. Can't I have one made, father?"
"Ahem!" said the Squire, blowing his nose,
"we will speak of that at some future period."
"Fred Newell wears a coat, and he isn't any
older than I am," persisted Ben, who was
desirous of interrupting his father's inquiries.
"I apprehend that we are wandering from
the question," said the Squire. "Would you
like to be treated as you treated Watch?"
"No," said Ben, slowly, "I don't know as I
"Then take care not to repeat your conduct
of this morning," said his father. "Stay a
moment," as Ben was about to leave the room
hastily. "I desire that you should go to the
post-office and inquire for letters."
"Yes, sir."
Ben left the room and sauntered out in the
direction of the post-office.
A chaise, driven by a stranger, stopped as it
came up with him.
The driver looked towards Ben, and inquired,
"Boy, is this the way to Sparta?"
Ben, who was walking leisurely along the path,
whistling as he went, never turned his head.
"Are you deaf, boy?" said the driver, impatiently.
"I want to know if this is the road to Sparta?"
Ben turned round.
"Fine morning, sir," he said politely.
"I know that well enough without your telling me.
Will you tell me whether this is the road to Sparta?"
Ben put his hand to his ear, and seemed to
listen attentively. Then he slowly shook his
head, and said, "Would you be kind enough
to speak a little louder, sir?"
"The boy is deaf, after all," said the driver
"Yes, sir, this is Wrenville," said Ben, politely.
"Plague take it! he don't hear me yet. IS
"Just a little louder, if you please," said
Ben, keeping his hand to his ear, and appearing
anxious to hear.
"Deaf as a post!" muttered the driver. "I
couldn't scream any louder, if I should try.
Go along."
"Poor man! I hope he hasn't injured his voice,"
thought Ben, his eyes dancing with fun.
"By gracious!" he continued a moment later,
bursting into a laugh, "if he isn't going to ask
the way of old Tom Haven. He's as deaf
as I pretended to be."
The driver had reined up again, and inquired
the way to Sparta.
"What did you say?" said the old man,
putting his hand to his ear. "I'm rather hard
of hearing."
The traveller repeated his question in a
louder voice.
The old man shook his head.
"I guess you'd better ask that boy," he said,
pointing to Ben, who by this time had nearly
come up with the chaise.
"I have had enough of him," said the traveller,
disgusted. "I believe you're all deaf in this town.
I'll get out of it as soon as possible."
He whipped up his horse, somewhat to the
old man's surprise, and drove rapidly away.
I desire my young readers to understand
that I am describing Ben as he was, and not as
he ought to be. There is no doubt that he
carried his love of fun too far. We will hope
that as he grows older, he will grow wiser.
Ben pursued the remainder of his way to
the Post-office without any further adventure.
Entering a small building appropriated to
this purpose, he inquired for letters.
"There's nothing for your father to-day,"
said the post-master.
"Perhaps there's something for me,--
Benjamin Newcome, Esq.," said Ben.
"Let me see," said the post-master, putting
on his spectacles; "yes, I believe there is.
Post-marked at New York, too. I didn't know
you had any correspondents there."
"It's probably from the Mayor of New
York," said Ben, in a tone of comical
importance, "asking my advice about laying out
Central Park."
"Probably it is," said the postmaster. "It's
a pretty thick letter,--looks like an official
By this time, Ben, who was really surprised
by the reception of the letter, had opened it.
It proved to be from our hero, Paul Prescott,
and inclosed one for Aunt Lucy.
"Mr. Crosby," said Ben, suddenly, addressing
the postmaster, "you remember about
Paul Prescott's running away from the Poorhouse?"
"Yes, I didn't blame the poor boy a bit. I
never liked Mudge, and they say his wife is
worse than he."
"Well, suppose the town should find out
where he is, could they get him back again?"
"Bless you! no. They ain't so fond of
supporting paupers. If he's able to earn his own
living, they won't want to interfere with him."
"Well, this letter is from him," said Ben.
"He's found a pleasant family in New York,
who have adopted him."
"I'm glad of it," said Mr. Crosby, heartily.
"I always liked him. He was a fine fellow."
"That's just what I think. I'll read his
letter to you, if you would like to hear it."
"I should, very much. Come in behind here,
and sit down."
Ben went inside the office, and sitting down
on a stool, read Paul's letter. As our reader
may be interested in the contents, we will take
the liberty of looking over Ben's shoulder while
he reads.
New York, Oct. 10, 18--.
I have been intending to write to you before, knowing
the kind interest which you take in me. I got safely to New
York a few days after I left Wrenville. I didn't have so hard
a time as I expected, having fallen in with a pedler, who was
very kind to me, with whom I rode thirty or forty miles. I
wish I had time to tell all the adventures I met with on the
way, but I must wait till I see you.
When I got to the city, I was astonished to find how large
it was. The first day I got pretty tired wandering about,
and strayed into a church in the evening, not knowing where
else to go. I was so tired I fell asleep there, and didn't wake
up till morning. When I found myself locked up in a great
church, I was frightened, I can tell you. It was only Thursday
morning, and I was afraid I should have to stay there till
Sunday. If I had, I am afraid I should have starved to
death. But, fortunately for me, the sexton came in the morning,
and let me out. That wasn't all. He very kindly took
me home with him, and then told me I might live with him
and go to school. I like him very much, and his wife too. I
call them Uncle Hugh and Aunt Hester. When you write to
me, you must direct to the care of Mr. Hugh Cameron, 10
R---- Street. Then it will be sure to reach me.
I am going to one of the city schools. At first, I was a
good deal troubled because I was so far behind boys of my
age. You know I hadn't been to school for a long time before
I left Wrenville, on account of father's sickness. But I
studied pretty hard, and now I stand very well. I sometimes
think, Ben, that you don't care quite so much about study as
you ought to. I wish you would come to feel the importance
of it. You must excuse me saying this, as we have always
been such good friends.
I sometimes think of Mr. and Mrs. Mudge, and wonder
whether they miss me much. I am sure Mr. Mudge misses
me, for now he is obliged to get up early and milk, unless he
has found another boy to do it. If he has, I pity the boy.
Write me what they said about my going away.
I inclose a letter for Aunt Lucy Lee, which I should like to
have you give her with your own hands. Don't trust it to
Mrs. Mudge, for she doesn't like Aunt Lucy, and I don't think
she would give it to her.
Write soon, Ben, and I will answer without delay,
Your affectionate friend,
"That's a very good letter," said Mr.
Crosby; "I am glad Paul is doing so well. I
should like to see him."
"So should I," said Ben; "he was a prime
fellow,--twice as good as I am. That's true,
what he said about my not liking study. I
guess I'll try to do better."
"You'll make a smart boy if you only try,"
said the postmaster, with whom Ben was
rather a favorite, in spite of his mischievous
"Thank you," said Ben, laughing, "that's
what my friend, the mayor of New York, often
writes me. But honestly, I know I can do a
good deal better than I am doing now. I don't
know but I shall turn over a new leaf. I suppose
I like fun a little too well. Such jolly
sport as I had coming to the office this morning."
Ben related the story of the traveller who
inquired the way to Sparta, much to the amusement
of the postmaster, who, in his enjoyment
of the joke, forgot to tell Ben that his conduct
was hardly justifiable.
"Now," said Ben, "as soon as I have been
home, I must go and see my particular friend,
Mrs. Mudge. I'm a great favorite of hers,"
he added, with a sly wink.
Ben knocked at the door of the Poorhouse.
In due time Mrs. Mudge appeared. She was
a little alarmed on seeing Ben, not knowing
how Squire Newcome might be affected by the
reception she had given him on his last visit.
Accordingly she received him with unusual
"How do you do, Master Newcome?" she inquired.
"As well as could be expected," said Ben,
"Why, is there anything the matter with
you?" inquired Mrs. Mudge, her curiosity excited
by his manner of speaking.
"No one can tell what I suffer from rheumatism,"
said Ben, sadly.
This was very true, since not even Ben
himself could have told.
"You are very young to be troubled in that
way," said Mrs. Mudge, "and how is your
respected father, to-day?" she inquired, with
some anxiety.
"I was just going to ask you, Mrs. Mudge,"
said Ben, "whether anything happened to disturb
him when he called here day before yesterday?"
"Why," said Mrs. Mudge, turning a little
pale, "Nothing of any consequence,--that is,
not much. What makes you ask?"
"I thought it might be so from his manner,"
said Ben, enjoying Mrs. Mudge's evident alarm.
"There was a little accident," said Mrs.
Mudge, reluctantly. "Some mischievous boy
had been knocking and running away; so, when
your father knocked, I thought it might be he,
and--and I believe I threw some water on
him. But I hope he has forgiven it, as it
wasn't intentional. I should like to get hold
of that boy," said Mrs. Mudge, wrathfully, "I
should like to shake him up."
"Have you any idea who it was?" asked
Ben, gravely.
"No," said Mrs. Mudge, "I haven't, but I shall
try to find out. Whoever it is, he's a scamp."
"Very complimentary old lady," thought
Ben. He said in a sober tone, which would
have imposed upon any one, "There are a good
many mischievous boys around here."
Mrs. Mudge grimly assented.
"Oh, by the way, Mrs. Mudge," asked Ben,
suddenly, "have you ever heard anything of
Paul Prescott since he left you?"
"No," snapped Mrs. Mudge, her countenance
growing dark, "I haven't. But I can tell
pretty well where he is."
"In the penitentiary. At any rate, if he
isn't, he ought to be. But what was you wanting?"
"I want to see Mrs. Lee."
"Aunt Lucy Lee?"
"Yes. I've got a letter for her."
"If you'll give me the letter I'll carry it to her."
"Thank you," said Ben, "but I would like to see her."
"Never mind," thought Mrs. Mudge, "I'll
get hold of it yet. I shouldn't wonder at all if
it was from that rascal, Paul."
Poor Paul! It was fortunate that he had
some better friends than Mr. and Mrs. Mudge,
otherwise he would have been pretty poorly off.
Aunt Lucy came to the door. Ben placed
the letter in her hands.
"Is it from Paul?" she asked, hopefully.
"Yes," said Ben.
She opened it eagerly. "Is he well?" she asked.
"Yes, well and happy," said Ben, who
treated the old lady, for whom he had much
respect, very differently from Mrs. Mudge.
"I'm truly thankful for that," said Aunt
Lucy; "I've laid awake more than one night
thinking of him."
"So has Mrs. Mudge, I'm thinking," said Ben, slyly.
Aunt Lucy laughed.
"There isn't much love lost between them,"
said Aunt Lucy, smiling. "He was very badly
treated here, poor boy."
"Was he, though?" repeated Mrs. Mudge?
who had been listening at the keyhole, but not
in an audible voice. "Perhaps he will be
again, if I get him back. I thought that letter
was from Paul. I must get hold of it some
time to-day."
"I believe I must go," said Ben. "If you
answer the letter, I will put it into the office
for you. I shall be passing here to-morrow."
"You are very kind," said Aunt Lucy. "I
am very much obliged to you for bringing me
this letter to-day. You can't tell how happy
it makes me. I have been so afraid the dear
boy might be suffering."
"It's no trouble at all," said Ben.
"She's a pretty good woman," thought he,
as he left the house. "I wouldn't play a trick
on her for a good deal. But that Mrs. Mudge
is a hard case. I wonder what she would have
said if she had known that I was the "scamp"
that troubled her so much Monday. If I had such
a mother as that, by jingo, I'd run away to sea."
Mrs. Mudge was bent upon reading Aunt
Lucy's letter. Knowing it to be from Paul,
she had a strong curiosity to know what had
become of him. If she could only get him
back! Her heart bounded with delight as she
thought of the annoyances to which, in that
case, she could subject him. It would be a
double triumph over him and Aunt Lucy,
against whom she felt that mean spite with
which a superior nature is often regarded by
one of a lower order.
After some reflection, Mrs. Mudge concluded
that Aunt Lucy would probably leave the letter
in the little chest which was appropriated
to her use, and which was kept in the room
where she slept. The key of this chest had
been lost, and although Aunt Lucy had
repeatedly requested that a new one should be
obtained, Mrs. Mudge had seen fit to pay no
attention to her request, as it would interfere
with purposes of her own, the character of
which may easily be guessed.
As she suspected, Paul's letter had been
deposited in this chest.
Accordingly, the same afternoon, she left
her work in the kitchen in order to institute
a search for it. As a prudent precaution,
however, she just opened the door of the common
room, to make sure that Aunt Lucy was at
work therein.
She made her way upstairs, and entering
the room in which the old lady lodged, together
with two others, she at once went to
the chest and opened it.
She began to rummage round among the old
lady's scanty treasures, and at length, much
to her joy, happened upon the letter, laid
carefully away in one corner of the chest. She
knew it was the one she sought, from the recent
postmark, and the address, which was in
the unformed handwriting of a boy. To make
absolutely certain, she drew the letter from
the envelope and looked at the signature.
She was right, as she saw at a glance. It
was from Paul.
"Now I'll see what the little rascal has to
say for himself," she muttered, "I hope he's
in distress; oh, how I'd like to get hold of
Mrs. Mudge began eagerly to read the letter,
not dreaming of interruption. But she was
destined to be disappointed. To account for
this we must explain that, shortly after Mrs.
Mudge looked into the common room, Aunt
Lucy was reminded of something essential,
which she had left upstairs. She accordingly
laid down her work upon the chair in which
she had been sitting, and went up to her chamber.
Mrs. Mudge was too much preoccupied to
hear the advancing steps.
As the old lady entered the chamber, what
was her mingled indignation and dismay at
seeing Mrs. Mudge on her knees before _*her_
chest, with the precious letter, whose arrival
had gladdened her so much, in her hands.
"What are you doing there, Mrs. Mudge?"
she said, sternly.
Mrs. Mudge rose from her knees in confusion.
Even she had the grace to be ashamed
of her conduct.
"Put down that letter," said the old lady
in an authoritative voice quite new to her.
Mrs. Mudge, who had not yet collected her
scattered senses, did as she was requested.
Aunt Lucy walked hastily to the chest, and
closed it, first securing the letter, which she
put in her pocket.
"I hope it will be safe, now," she said, rather
contemptuously. "Ain't you ashamed of yourself,
Mrs. Mudge?"
"Ashamed of myself!" shrieked that amiable
lady, indignant with herself for having
quailed for a moment before the old lady.
"What do you mean--you--you pauper?"
"I may be a pauper," said Aunt Lucy,
calmly, "But I am thankful to say that I mind
my own business, and don't meddle with other
people's chests."
A red spot glowed on either cheek of Mrs.
Mudge. She was trying hard to find some vantageground
over the old lady.
"Do you mean to say that I don't mind my business?"
she blustered, folding her arms defiantly.
"What were you at my trunk for?" said
the old lady, significantly.
"Because it was my duty," was the brazen reply.
Mrs. Mudge had rapidly determined upon
her line of defense, and thought it best to
carry the war into the enemy's country.
"Yes, I felt sure that your letter was from
Paul Prescott, and as he ran away from my
husband and me, who were his lawful guardians,
it was my duty to take that means of
finding out where he is. I knew that you
were in league with him, and would do all
you could to screen him. This is why I went
to your chest, and I would do it again, if necessary."
"Perhaps you have been before," said Aunt
Lucy, scornfully. "I think I understand, now,
why you were unwilling to give me another
key. Fortunately there has been nothing there
until now to reward your search."
"You impudent trollop!" shrieked Mrs. Mudge, furiously.
Her anger was the greater, because Aunt
Lucy was entirely correct in her supposition
that this was not the first visit her landlady
had made to the little green chest.
"I'll give Paul the worst whipping he ever had,
when I get him back," said Mrs. Mudge, angrily.
"He is beyond your reach, thank Providence,"
said Aunt Lucy, whose equanimity was
not disturbed by this menace, which she knew
to be an idle one. "That is enough for you
to know. I will take care that you never have
another chance to see this letter. And if you
ever go to my chest again"--
"Well, ma'am, what then?"
"I shall appeal for protection to 'Squire Newcome."
"Hoity, toity," said Mrs. Mudge, but she
was a little alarmed, nevertheless, as such an
appeal would probably be prejudicial to her interest.
So from time to time Aunt Lucy received,
through Ben, letters from Paul, which kept
her acquainted with his progress at school.
These letters were very precious to the old
lady, and she read them over many times.
They formed a bright link of interest which
bound her to the outside world, and enabled
her to bear up with greater cheerfulness
against the tyranny of Mrs. Mudge.
The month after Paul Prescott succeeded
in reaching the head of his class, George Dawkins
exerted himself to rise above him. He
studied better than usual, and proved in truth
a formidable rival. But Paul's spirit was
roused. He resolved to maintain his position
if possible. He had now become accustomed
to study, and it cost him less effort. When the
end of the month came, there was considerable
speculation in the minds of the boys as to the
result of the rivalry. The majority had faith
in Paul, but there were some who, remembering
how long Dawkins had been at the head of the class,
thought he would easily regain his lost rank.
The eventful day, the first of the month,
at length came, and the class-list was read.
Paul Prescott ranked first.
George Dawkins ranked second.
A flush spread over the pale face of Dawkins,
and he darted a malignant glance at Paul,
who was naturally pleased at having retained his rank.
Dawkins had his satellites. One of these
came to him at recess, and expressed his regret
that Dawkins had failed of success.
Dawkins repelled the sympathy with cold disdain.
"What do you suppose I care for the head of
the class?" he demanded, haughtily.
"I thought you had been studying for it."
"Then you thought wrong. Let the sexton's
son have it, if he wants it. It would be of no
use to me, as I leave this school at the end of
the week."
"Leave school!"
The boys gathered about Dawkins, curiously.
"Is it really so, Dawkins?" they inquired.
"Yes," said Dawkins, with an air of
importance; "I shall go to a private school, where
the advantages are greater than here. My
father does not wish me to attend a public
school any longer.
This statement was made on the spur of the
moment, to cover the mortification which his
defeat had occasioned him. It proved true,
however. On his return home, Dawkins succeeded
in persuading his father to transfer
him to a private school, and he took away his
books at the end of the week. Had he recovered
his lost rank there is no doubt that he
would have remained.
Truth to tell, there were few who mourned
much for the departure of George Dawkins.
He had never been a favorite. His imperious
temper and arrogance rendered this impossible.
After he left school, Paul saw little of him
for two or three years. At their first
encounter Paul bowed and spoke pleasantly, but
Dawkins looked superciliously at him without
appearing to know him.
Paul's face flushed proudly, and afterwards
he abstained from making advances which
were likely to be repulsed. He had too much
self-respect to submit voluntarily to such slights.
Meanwhile Paul's school life fled rapidly. It
was a happy time,--happy in its freedom from
care, and happy for him, though all school
boys do not appreciate that consideration, in
the opportunities for improvement which it
afforded. These opportunities, it is only just
to Paul to say, were fully improved. He left
school with an enviable reputation, and with
the good wishes of his schoolmates and teachers.
Paul was now sixteen years old, a stout,
handsome boy, with a frank, open countenance,
and a general air of health which
formed quite a contrast to the appearance he
presented when he left the hospitable mansion
which Mr. Nicholas Mudge kept open at the
public expense.
Paul was now very desirous of procuring
a situation. He felt that it was time he was
doing something for himself. He was ambitious
to relieve the kind sexton and his wife of some portion,
at least, of the burden of his support.
Besides, there was the legacy of debt which
his father had bequeathed him. Never for a
moment had Paul forgotten it. Never for a
moment had he faltered in his determination
to liquidate it at whatever sacrifice to himself.
"My father's name shall be cleared," he said
to himself, proudly. "Neither Squire Conant
nor any one else shall have it in his power
to cast reproach upon his memory."
The sexton applauded his purpose.
"You are quite right, Paul," he said. "But
you need not feel in haste. Obtain your education
first, and the money will come by-andby.
As long as you repay the amount, principal
and interest, you will have done all that
you are in honor bound to do. Squire Conant,
as I understand from you, is a rich man, so
that he will experience no hardship in waiting."
Paul was now solicitous about a place. The
sexton had little influence, so that he must
depend mainly upon his own inquiries.
He went into the reading-room of the Astor
House every day to look over the advertised
wants in the daily papers. Every day he noted
down some addresses, and presented himself
as an applicant for a position. Generally,
however, he found that some one else had been
before him.
One day his attention was drawn to the
following advertisement.
"WANTED. A smart, active, wide-awake
boy, of sixteen or seventeen, in a retail drygoods
store. Apply immediately at--Broadway."
Paul walked up to the address mentioned.
Over the door he read, "Smith & Thompson."
This, then, was the firm that had advertised.
The store ran back some distance. There
appeared to be six or eight clerks in attendance
upon quite a respectable number of customers.
"Is Mr. Smith in?" inquired Paul, of the
nearest clerk.
"You'll find him at the lower end of the
store. How many yards, ma'am?"
This last was of course addressed to a customer.
Paul made his way, as directed, to the lower
end of the store.
A short, wiry, nervous man was writing at
a desk.
"Is Mr. Smith in?" asked Paul.
"My name; what can I do for you?" said
the short man, crisply.
"I saw an advertisement in the Tribune for a boy."
"And you have applied for the situation?" said Mr. Smith.
"Yes, sir."
"How old are you?" with a rapid glance at our hero.
"Sixteen--nearly seventeen."
"I suppose that means that you will be
seventeen in eleven months and a half."
"No, sir," said Paul, "I shall be seventeen
in three months."
"All right. Most boys call themselves a
year older. What's your name?"
"Paul Prescott."
"P. P. Any relation to Fanny Fern?"
"No, sir," said Paul, rather astonished.
"Didn't know but you might be. P. P. and
F. F. Where do you live?"
Paul mentioned the street and number.
"That's well, you are near by," said Mr.
Smith. "Now, are you afraid of work?"
"No sir," said Paul, smiling, "not much."
"Well, that's important; how much wages
do you expect?"
"I suppose," said Paul, hesitating, "I
couldn't expect very much at first."
"Of course not; green, you know. What
do you say to a dollar a week?"
"A dollar a week!" exclaimed Paul, in dismay,
"I hoped to get enough to pay for my
"Nonsense. There are plenty of boys glad
enough to come for a dollar a week. At first,
you know. But I'll stretch a point with you,
and offer you a dollar and a quarter. What do
you say?"
"How soon could I expect to have my wages advanced?"
inquired our hero, with considerable anxiety.
"Well," said Smith, "at the end of a month or two."
"I'll go home and speak to my uncle about it,"
said Paul, feeling undecided.
"Can't keep the place open for you.
Ah, there's another boy at the door."
"I'll accept," said Paul, jumping to a decision.
He had applied in so many different quarters
without success, that he could not make up his mind
to throw away this chance, poor as it seemed.
"When shall I come?"
"Come to-morrow"
"At what time, sir?"
"At seven o'clock."
This seemed rather early. However, Paul
was prepared to expect some discomforts, and
signified that he would come.
As he turned to go away, another boy passed him,
probably bent on the same errand with himself.
Paul hardly knew whether to feel glad or
sorry. He had expected at least three dollars
a week, and the descent to a dollar and a quarter
was rather disheartening. Still, he was
encouraged by the promise of a rise at the end
of a month or two,--so on the whole he went
home cheerful.
"Well, Paul, what luck to-day?" asked Mr.
Cameron, who had just got home as Paul entered.
"I've got a place, Uncle Hugh."
"You have,--where?"
"With Smith & Thompson, No.--Broadway."
"What sort of a store? I don't remember the name."
"It is a retail dry-goods store."
"Did you like the looks of your future employer?"
"I don't know," said Paul, hesitating, "He
looked as if he might be a pretty sharp man in
business, but I have seen others that I would
rather work for. However, beggars mustn't
be choosers. But there was one thing I was
disappointed about."
"What was that, Paul?"
"About the wages."
"How much will they give you?"
"Only a dollar and a quarter a week, at first."
"That is small, to be sure."
"The most I think of, Uncle Hugh, is, that
I shall still be an expense to you. I hoped to
get enough to be able to pay my board from the first."
"My dear boy," said the sexton, kindly,
"don't trouble yourself on that score. It costs
little more for three than for two, and the
little I expend on your account is richly made
up by the satisfaction we feel in your society,
and your good conduct."
"You say that to encourage me, Uncle Hugh," said Paul.
"You have done all for me. I have done nothing for you."
"No, Paul, I spoke the truth. Hester and I have both
been happier since you came to us. We hope you will
long remain with us. You are already as dear to us
as the son that we lost."
"Thank you, Uncle Hugh," said Paul, in a
voice tremulous with feeling. "I will do all
I can to deserve your kindness."
At seven o'clock the next morning Paul
stood before Smith & Thompson's store.
As he came up on one side, another boy came
down on the other, and crossed the street.
"Are you the new boy?" he asked, surveying
Paul attentively.
"I suppose so," said Paul. "I've engaged
to work for Smith & Thompson."
"All right. I'm glad to see you," said the other.
This looked kind, and Paul thanked him for
his welcome.
"O." said the other, bursting into a laugh,
"you needn't trouble yourself about thanking
me. I'm glad you've come, because now I
shan't have to open the store and sweep out.
Just lend a hand there; I'll help you about taking
down the shutters this morning, and to-morrow
you'll have to get along alone."
The two boys opened the store.
"What's your name?" asked Paul's new acquaintance.
"Paul Prescott. What is yours?"
"Nicholas Benton. You may call me MR. Benton."
"Mr. Benton?" repeated Paul in some astonishment.
"Yes; I'm a young man now. I've been Smith
& Thompson's boy till now. Now I'm promoted."
Paul looked at MR. Benton with some amusement.
That young man was somewhat shorter
than himself, and sole proprietor of a stock
of pale yellow hair which required an abundant
stock of bear's grease to keep it in order.
His face was freckled and expressionless. His
eyebrows and eyelashes were of the same faded
color. He was dressed, however, with some
pretensions to smartness. He wore a blue
necktie, of large dimensions, fastened by an
enormous breast-pin, which, in its already
tarnished splendor, suggested strong doubts as
to the apparent gold being genuine.
"There's the broom, Paul," said Mr. Benton,
assuming a graceful position on the counter.
"You'll have to sweep out; only look sharp about
raising a dust, or Smith'll be into your wool."
"What sort of a man is Mr. Smith?" asked
Paul, with some curiosity.
"O, he's an out and outer. Sharp as a steel trap.
He'll make you toe the mark."
"Do you like him?" asked Paul, not quite
sure whether he understood his employer's
character from the description.
"I don't like him well enough to advise any
of my folks to trade with him," said Mr. Benton.
"Why not?"
"He'd cheat 'em out of their eye teeth if
they happened to have any," said the young
man coolly, beginning to pick his teeth with a
Paul began to doubt whether he should like
Mr. Smith.
"I say," said Mr. Benton after a pause,
"have you begun to shave yet?"
Paul looked up to see if his companion were
in earnest.
"No," said he; "I haven't got along as
far as that. Have you?"
"I," repeated the young man, a little
contemptuously, "of course I have. I've shaved
for a year and a half."
"Do you find it hard shaving?" asked Paul,
a little slyly.
"Well, my beard is rather stiff," said the
late BOY, with an important air, "but I've got
used to it."
"Ain't you rather young to shave,
Nicholas?" asked Paul.
"Mr. Benton, if you please."
"I mean, Mr. Benton."
"Perhaps I was when I begun. But now I
am nineteen."
"Yes, that is to say, I'm within a few
months of being nineteen. What do you think
of my moustache?"
"I hadn't noticed it."
"The store's rather dark," muttered Mr.
Benton, who seemed a little annoyed by this
answer. "If you'll come a little nearer you
can see it."
Drawing near, Paul, after some trouble,
descried a few scattering hairs.
"Yes," said he, wanting to laugh, "I see it."
"Coming on finely, isn't it?" asked Mr.
Nicholas Benton, complacently.
"Yes," said Paul, rather doubtfully.
"I don't mind letting you into a secret,"
said Benton, affably, "if you won't mention
it. I've been using some of the six weeks' stuff."
"The what?" asked Paul, opening his eyes.
"Haven't you heard of it?" inquired Benton,
a little contemptuously. "Where have
you been living all your life? Haven't you
seen it advertised,--warranted to produce a
full set of whiskers or moustaches upon the
smoothest face, etc. I got some a week ago,
only a dollar. Five weeks from now you'll see
something that'll astonish you."
Paul was not a little amused by his new
companion, and would have laughed, but that
he feared to offend him.
"You'd better get some," said Mr. Benton.
"I'll let you just try mine once, if you want to."
"Thank you," said Paul; "I don't think I
want to have a moustache just yet."
"Well, perhaps you're right. Being a boy,
perhaps it wouldn't be advisable."
"When does Mr. Smith come in?"
"Not till nine."
"And the other clerks?"
"About eight o'clock. I shan't come till
eight, to-morrow morning."
"There's one thing I should like to ask
you," said Paul. "Of course you won't answer
unless you like."
"Out with it."
"How much does Mr. Smith pay you?"
"Ahem!" said Benton, "what does he pay you?"
"A dollar and a quarter a week."
"He paid me a dollar and a half to begin with."
"Did he? He wanted me to come first at
a dollar."
"Just like him. Didn't I tell you he was an
out and outer? He'll be sure to take you in if
you will let him."
"But," said Paul, anxiously, "he said he'd
raise it in a month or two."
"He won't offer to; you'll have to tease
him. And then how much'll he raise it? Not
more than a quarter. How much do you think
I get now?"
"How long have you been here?"
"A year and a half."
"Five dollars a week," guessed Paul.
"Five! he only gives me two and a half.
That is, he hasn't been paying me but that.
Now, of course, he'll raise, as I've been promoted."
"How much do you expect to get now?"
"Maybe four dollars, and I'm worth ten
any day. He's a mean old skinflint, Smith is."
This glimpse at his own prospects did not
tend to make Paul feel very comfortable. He
could not repress a sigh of disappointment
when he thought of this mortifying termination
of all his brilliant prospects. He had
long nourished the hope of being able to repay
the good sexton for his outlay in his behalf,
besides discharging the debt which his father
had left behind him. Now there seemed to be
little prospect of either. He had half a mind
to resign his place immediately upon the entrance
of Mr. Smith, but two considerations
dissuaded him; one, that the sum which he
was to receive, though small, would at least
buy his clothes, and besides, he was not at
all certain of obtaining another situation.
With a sigh, therefore, he went about his duties.
He had scarcely got the store ready when
some of the clerks entered, and the business
of the day commenced. At nine Mr. Smith appeared.
"So you're here, Peter," remarked he, as
he caught sight of our hero.
"Paul," corrected the owner of that name.
"Well, well, Peter or Paul, don't make much
difference. Both were apostles, if I remember
right. All ready for work, eh?"
"Yes, sir," said Paul, neither very briskly
nor cheerfully.
"Well," said Mr. Smith, after a pause, "I
guess I'll put you into the calico department.
Williams, you may take him under your wing.
And now Peter,--all the same, Paul,--I've got
a word or two to say to you, as I always do to
every boy who comes into my store. Don't
forget what you're here for? It's to sell goods.
Take care to sell something to every man,
woman, and child, that comes in your way.
That's the way to do business. Follow it up,
and you'll be a rich man some day."
"But suppose they don't want anything?"
said Paul.
"Make 'em want something," returned
Smith, "Don't let 'em off without buying.
That's my motto. However, you'll learn."
Smith bustled off, and began in his nervous
way to exercise a general supervision over all
that was going on in the store. He seemed to
be all eyes. While apparently entirely occupied
in waiting upon a customer, he took notice of all
the customers in the store, and could tell what
they bought, and how much they paid.
Paul listened attentively to the clerk under
whom he was placed for instruction.
"What's the price of this calico?" inquired
a common-looking woman.
"A shilling a yard, ma'am," (this was not
in war times.)
"It looks rather coarse."
"Coarse, ma'am! What can you be thinking of?
It is a superfine piece of goods. We sell more
of it than of any other figure. The mayor's wife
was in here yesterday, and bought two dress patterns
off of it."
"Did she?" asked the woman, who appeared
favorably impressed by this circumstance.
"Yes, and she promised to send her friends
here after some of it. You'd better take it
while you can get it."
"Will it wash?"
"To be sure it will."
"Then I guess you may cut me off ten yards."
This was quickly done, and the woman departed
with her purchase.
Five minutes later, another woman entered
with a bundle of the same figured calico.
Seeing her coming, Williams hastily slipped
the remnant of the piece out of sight.
"I got this calico here," said the newcomer,
"one day last week. You warranted it to wash,
but I find it won't. Here's a piece I've tried."
She showed a pattern, which had a faded look.
"You've come to the wrong store," said Williams,
coolly. "You must have got the calico somewhere else."
"No, I'm sure I got it here. I remember particularly
buying it of you."
"You've got a better memory than I have, then.
We haven't got a piece of calico like that in the store."
Paul listened to this assertion with unutterable surprise.
"I am quite certain I bought it here," said the woman, perplexed.
"Must have been the next store,--Blake & Hastings.
Better go over there."
The woman went out.
"That's the way to do business," said Williams, winking at Paul.
Paul said nothing, but he felt more than ever
doubtful about retaining his place.
One evening, about a fortnight after his
entrance into Smith & Thompson's employment,
Paul was putting up the shutters, the business
of the day being over. It devolved upon him
to open and close the store, and usually he was
the last one to go home.
This evening, however, Mr. Nicholas Benton
graciously remained behind and assisted Paul
in closing the store. This was unusual, and
surprised Paul a little. It was soon explained,
"Good-night, Nicholas,--I mean, Mr. Benton,"
said Paul.
"Not quite yet. I want you to walk a little
way with me this evening."
Paul hesitated.
"Come, no backing out. I want to confide
to you a very important secret."
He looked so mysterious that Paul's
curiosity was aroused, and reflecting that it was
yet early, he took his companion's proffered
arm, and sauntered along by his side.
"What's the secret?" he asked at length,
perceiving that Nicholas was silent.
"Wait till we get to a more retired place."
He turned out of Broadway into a side
street, where the passers were less numerous.
"I don't think you could guess," said the
young man, turning towards our hero.
"I don't think I could."
"And yet," continued Benton, meditatively,
"it is possible that you may have noticed
something in my appearance just a little unusual,
within the last week. Haven't you, now?"
Paul could not say that he had.
Mr. Benton looked a little disappointed.
"Nobody can tell what has been the state
of my feelings," he resumed after a pause.
"You ain't sick?" questioned Paul, hastily.
"Nothing of the sort, only my appetite has
been a good deal affected. I don't think I
have eaten as much in a week as you would in
a day," he added, complacently.
"If I felt that way I should think I was
going to be sick," said Paul.
"I'll let you into the secret," said Mr. Benton,
lowering his voice, and looking carefully
about him, to make sure that no one was
within hearing distance--"I'M IN LOVE."
This seemed so utterly ludicrous to Paul,
that he came very near losing Mr. Benton's
friendship forever by bursting into a hearty laugh.
"I didn't think of that," he said.
"It's taken away my appetite, and I haven't
been able to sleep nights," continued Mr. Benton,
in a cheerful tone. "I feel just as Howard
Courtenay did in the great story that's
coming out in the Weekly Budget. You've
read it, haven't you?"
"I don't think I have," said Paul.
"Then you ought to. It's tiptop. It's rather
curious too that the lady looks just as Miranda
does, in the same story."
"How is that?"
"Wait a minute, and I'll read the description."
Mr. Benton pulled a paper from his pocket,
--the last copy of the Weekly Budget,--and
by the light of a street lamp read the following
extract to his amused auditor.
"Miranda was just eighteen. Her form was
queenly and majestic. Tall and stately, she
moved among her handmaidens with a dignity
which revealed her superior rank. Her eyes
were dark as night. Her luxuriant tresses,--
there, the rest is torn off," said Mr. Benton,
in a tone of vexation.
"She is tall, then?" said Paul.
"Yes, just like Miranda."
"Then," said our hero, in some hesitation,
"I should think she would not be very well
suited to you."
"Why not?" asked Mr. Benton, quickly.
"Because," said Paul, "you're rather short,
you know."
"I'm about the medium height," said Mr.
Benton, raising himself upon his toes as he
"Not quite," said Paul, trying not to laugh.
"I'm as tall as Mr. Smith," resumed Mr.
Benton, in a tone which warned Paul that this
was a forbidden subject. "But you don't ask
me who she is."
"I didn't know as you would be willing to tell."
"I shan't tell any one but you. It's Miss
Hawkins,--firm of Hawkins & Brewer. That
is, her father belongs to the firm, not she. And
Paul," here he clutched our hero's arm convulsively,
"I've made a declaration of my love, and--and----"
"She has answered my letter."
"Has she?" asked Paul with some curiosity,
"What did she say?"
"She has written me to be under her window
this evening."
"Why under her window? why didn't she
write you to call?"
"Probably she will, but it's more romantic
to say, `be under my window.'"
"Well, perhaps it is; only you know I don't
know much about such things."
"Of course not, Paul," said Mr. Benton;
"you're only a boy, you know."
"Are you going to be under her window,
Nich,--I mean Mr. Benton?"
"Of course. Do you think I would miss the
appointment? No earthly power could prevent
my doing it."
"Then I had better leave you," said Paul,
making a movement to go.
"No, I want you to accompany me as far as
the door. I feel--a little agitated. I suppose
everybody does when they are in love," added
Mr. Benton, complacently.
"Well," said Paul, "I will see you to the
door, but I can't stay, for they will wonder at
home what has become of me."
"All right."
"Are we anywhere near the house?"
"Yes, it's only in the next street," said Mr.
Benton, "O, Paul, how my heart beats! You
can't imagine how I feel!"
Mr. Benton gasped for breath, and looked as
if he had swallowed a fish bone, which he had
some difficulty in getting down.
"You'll know how to understand my feelings
sometime, Paul," said Mr. Benton;
"when your time comes, I will remember your
service of to-night, and I will stand by you."
Paul inwardly hoped that he should never
fall in love, if it was likely to affect him in
the same way as his companion, but he thought
it best not to say so.
By this time they had come in sight of a
three-story brick house, with Benjamin Hawkins
on the door-plate.
"That's the house," said Mr. Benton, in an
agitated whisper.
"Is it?"
"Yes, and that window on the left-hand side
is the window of her chamber."
"How do you know?"
"She told me in the letter."
"And where are you to stand?"
"Just underneath, as the clock strikes nine.
It must be about the time."
At that moment the city clock struck nine.
Mr. Benton left Paul, and crossing the
street, took up his position beneath the window
of his charmer, beginning to sing, in a
thin, piping voice, as preconcerted between them--
"Ever of thee,
I'm fo-o-ondly dreaming."
The song was destined never to be finished.
From his post in a doorway opposite, Paul
saw the window softly open. He could
distinguish a tall female figure, doubtless Miss
Hawkins herself. She held in her hand a
pitcher of water, which she emptied with welldirected
aim full upon the small person of her
luckless admirer.
The falling column struck upon his beaver,
thence spreading on all sides. His carefully
starched collar became instantly as limp as
a rag, while his coat suffered severely from
the shower.
His tuneful accents died away in dismay.
"Ow!" he exclaimed, jumping at least a
yard, and involuntarily shaking himself like a
dog, "who did that?"
There was no answer save a low, musical
laugh from the window above, which was
involuntarily echoed by Paul.
"What do you mean by laughing at me?"
demanded Mr. Benton, smarting with mortification,
as he strode across the street, trying
to dry his hat with the help of his handkerchief,
"Is this what you call friendship?"
"Excuse me," gasped Paul, "but I really
couldn't help it."
"I don't see anything to laugh at,"
continued Mr. Benton, in a resentful tone;
"because I have been subjected to unmanly
persecution, you must laugh at me, instead of
extending to me the sympathy of a friend."
"I suppose you won't think of her any
more," said Paul, recovering himself.
"Think of her!" exclaimed Mr. Benton,
"would you have me tear her from my heart,
because her mercenary parent chooses to frown
upon our love, and follow me with base persecution."
"Her parent!"
"Yes, it was he who threw the water upon
me. But it shall not avail," the young man
continued, folding his arms, and speaking in a
tone of resolution, "bolts and bars shall not
keep two loving hearts asunder."
"But it wasn't her father," urged Paul,
perceiving that Mr. Benton was under a mistake.
"Who was it, then?"
"It was the young lady herself."
"Who threw the water upon me? It is a
base slander."
"But I saw her."
"Saw who?"
"A tall young lady with black hair."
"And was it she who threw the water?"
asked Mr. Benton, aghast at this unexpected
"Then she did it at the command of her
proud parent."
Paul did not dispute this, since it seemed
to comfort Mr. Benton. It is doubtful, however,
whether the young man believed it himself,
since he straightway fell into a fit of
gloomy abstraction, and made no response
when Paul bade him "good-night."
Paul had a presentiment that he should not
long remain in the employ of Smith & Thompson;
it was not many weeks before this presentiment
was verified.
After having received such instruction as
was necessary, the calico department was left
in Paul's charge. One day a customer in turning
over the patterns shown her took up a piece
which Paul knew from complaints made by
purchasers would not wash.
"This is pretty," said she, "it is just what
I have been looking for. You may cut me off
twelve yards."
"Yes, ma'am."
"Wait a minute, though," interposed the
lady, "will it wash?"
"I don't think it will," said Paul, frankly,
"there have been some complaints made about that."
"Then I shall not want it. Let me see what
else you have got."
The customer finally departed, having found
nothing to suit her.
No sooner had she left the store than Mr.
Smith called Paul.
"Well, did you sell that lady anything?"
"No, sir."
"And why not?" demanded Smith, harshly.
"Because she did not like any of the pieces."
"Wouldn't she have ordered a dress pattern
if you had not told her the calico would not
"Yes, sir, I suppose so," said Paul, preparing
for a storm.
"Then why did you tell her?" demanded his
employer, angrily.
"Because she asked me."
"Couldn't you have told her that it would wash?"
"That would not have been the truth," said Paul, sturdily.
"You're a mighty conscientious young man," sneered Smith,
"You're altogether too pious to succeed in business.
I discharge you from my employment."
"Very well, sir," said Paul, his heart sinking,
but keeping up a brave exterior, "then I
have only to bid you good-morning."
"Good-morning, sir," said his employer with
mock deference, "I advise you to study for the
ministry, and no longer waste your talents in
selling calico."
Paul made no reply, but putting on his cap
walked out of the store. It was the middle of
the week, and Mr. Smith was, of course, owing
him a small sum for his services; but Paul was
too proud to ask for his money, which that
gentleman did not see fit to volunteer.
"I am sure I have done right," thought
Paul. "I had no right to misrepresent the
goods to that lady. I wonder what Uncle
Hugh will say."
"You did perfectly right," said the sexton,
after Paul had related the circumstances of
his dismissal. "I wouldn't have had you act
differently for twenty situations. I have no
doubt you will get a better position elsewhere."
"I hope so," said Paul. "Now that I have
lost the situation, Uncle Hugh, I don't mind
saying that I never liked it."
Now commenced a search for another place.
Day after day Paul went out, and day after
day he returned with the same want of success.
"Never mind, Paul," said the sexton
encouragingly. "When you do succeed, perhaps
you'll get something worth waiting for."
One morning Paul went out feeling that
something was going to happen,--he didn't
exactly know what,--but he felt somehow that
there was to be a change in his luck. He went
out, therefore, with more hopefulness than
usual; yet, when four o'clock came, and nothing
had occurred except failure and disappointment,
which unhappily were not at all out of
the ordinary course, Paul began to think that
he was very foolish to have expected anything.
He was walking listlessly along a narrow
street, when, on a sudden, he heard an exclamation
of terror, of which, on turning round,
he easily discovered the cause.
Two spirited horses, attached to an elegant
carriage, had been terrified in some way, and
were now running at the top of their speed.
There was no coachman on the box; he had
dismounted in order to ring at some door,
when the horses started. He was now doing
his best to overtake the horses, but in a race
between man and horse, it is easy to predict
which will have the advantage.
There seemed to be but one person in the
carriage. It was a lady,--whose face, pale
with terror, could be seen from the carriage
window. Her loud cries of alarm no doubt
terrified the horses still more, and, by accelerating
their speed, tended to make matters worse.
Paul was roused from a train of despondent
reflections by seeing the horses coming up the
street. He instantly comprehended the whole
danger of the lady's situation.
Most boys would have thought of nothing
but getting out of the way, and leaving the
carriage and its inmate to their fate. What,
indeed, could a boy do against a pair of powerful
horses, almost beside themselves with fright?"
But our hero, as we have already had
occasion to see, was brave and self-possessed, and
felt an instant desire to rescue the lady, whose
glance of helpless terror, as she leaned her
head from the window, he could see. Naturally
quickwitted, it flashed upon him that
the only way to relieve a horse from one terror,
was to bring another to bear upon him.
With scarcely a moment's premeditation, he
rushed out into the middle of the street, full
in the path of the furious horses, and with
his cheeks pale, for he knew his danger, but
with determined air, he waved his arms aloft,
and cried "Whoa!" at the top of his voice.
The horses saw the sudden movement. They saw
the boy standing directly in front of them.
They heard the word of command to which
they had been used, and by a sudden impulse,
relieved from the blind terror which had urged
them on, they stopped suddenly, and stood still
in the middle of the street, still showing in
their quivering limbs the agitation through
which they had passed.
Just then the coachman, panting with his hurried running,
came up and seized them by the head.
"Youngster," said he, "you're a brave fellow.
You've done us a good service to-day.
You're a pretty cool hand, you are. I don't
know what these foolish horses would have done
with the carriage if it had not been for you."
"Let me get out," exclaimed the lady,
not yet recovered from her fright.
"I will open the door," said Paul, observing
that the coachman was fully occupied in soothing
the horses.
He sprang forward, and opening the door of
the carriage assisted the lady to descend.
She breathed quickly.
"I have been very much frightened," she said;
"and I believe I have been in very great danger.
Are you the brave boy who stopped the horses?"
Paul modestly answered in the affirmative.
"And how did you do it? I was so terrified
that I was hardly conscious of what was passing,
till the horses stopped.
Paul modestly related his agency in the matter.
The lady gazed at his flushed face admiringly.
"How could you have so much courage?"
she asked. "You might have been trampled
to death under the hoofs of the horses."
"I didn't think of that. I only thought of
stopping the horses."
"You are a brave boy. I shudder when I
think of your danger and mine. I shall not
dare to get into the carriage again this afternoon."
"Allow me to accompany you home?" said Paul, politely.
"Thank you; I will trouble you to go with me as far
as Broadway, and then I can get into an omnibus."
She turned and addressed some words to the
coachman, directing him to drive home as soon
as the horses were quieted, adding that she
would trust herself to the escort of the young
hero, who had rescued her from the late peril.
"You're a lucky boy," thought John, the
coachman. "My mistress is one that never
does anything by halves. It won't be for nothing
that you have rescued her this afternoon."
As they walked along, the lady, by delicate
questioning, succeeded in drawing from our
hero his hopes and wishes for the future. Paul,
who was of a frank and open nature, found
it very natural to tell her all he felt and wished.
"He seems a remarkably fine boy," thought
the lady to herself. "I should like to do
something for him."
They emerged into Broadway.
"I will detain you a little longer," said the lady;
"and perhaps trouble you with a parcel."
"I shall be very glad to take it," said Paul politely.
Appleton's bookstore was close at hand.
Into this the lady went, followed by her young
A clerk advanced, and inquired her wishes.
"Will you show me some writing-desks?"
"I am going to purchase a writing-desk for
a young friend of mine," she explained to Paul;
"as he is a boy, like yourself, perhaps
you can guide me in the selection."
"Certainly," said Paul, unsuspiciously.
Several desks were shown. Paul expressed
himself admiringly of one made of rosewood
inlaid with pearl.
"I think I will take it," said the lady.
The price was paid, and the desk was wrapped up.
"Now," said Mrs. Danforth, for this proved
to be her name, "I will trouble you, Paul, to
take the desk for me, and accompany me in the
omnibus, that is, if you have no other occupation
for your time."
"I am quite at leisure," said Paul. "I shall
be most happy to do so."
Paul left the lady at the door of her residence
in Fifth Avenue, and promised to call
on his new friend the next day.
He went home feeling that, though he had
met with no success in obtaining a place, he
had been very fortunate in rendering so important
a service to a lady whose friendship
might be of essential service to him.
"Mrs. Edward Danforth," repeated the sexton,
on hearing the story of Paul's exploit.
"Why, she attends our church."
"Do you know Mr. Danforth?" asked Paul,
with interest.
"Only by sight. I know him by reputation, however."
"I suppose he is very rich."
"Yes, I should judge so. At any rate, he is
doing an extensive business."
"What is his business?"
"He is a merchant."
"A merchant," thought Paul; "that is just
what I should like to be, but I don't see much
prospect of it."
"How do you like Mrs. Danforth?" inquired the sexton.
"Very much," said Paul, warmly. "She was very kind,
and made me feel quite at home in her company."
"I hope she may be disposed to assist you.
She can easily do so, in her position."
The next day Paul did not as usual go out
in search of a situation. His mind was occupied
with thoughts of his coming interview with
Mrs. Danforth, and he thought he would defer
his business plans till the succeeding day.
At an early hour in the evening, he paused
before an imposing residence on Fifth Avenue,
which he had seen but not entered the day previous.
He mounted the steps and pulled the bell.
A smart-looking man-servant answered his ring.
"Is Mrs. Danforth at home?" asked Paul.
"Yes, I believe so."
"I have called to see her."
"Does she expect you?" asked the servant,
looking surprised.
"Yes; I come at her appointment," said Paul.
"Then I suppose it's all right," said the man.
"Will you come in?" he asked, a little doubtfully.
Paul followed him into the house, and was
shown into the drawing-room, the magnificence
of which somewhat dazzled his eyes; accustomed
only to the plain sitting-room of Mr. Cameron.
The servant reappeared after a brief
absence, and with rather more politeness than he
had before shown, invited Paul to follow him
to a private sitting-room upstairs, where he
would see Mrs. Danforth.
Looking at Paul's plain, though neat clothes,
the servant was a little puzzled to understand
what had obtained for Paul the honor of being
on visiting terms with Mrs. Danforth.
"Good evening, Paul," said Mrs. Danforth,
rising from her seat and welcoming our hero
with extended hand. "So you did not forget
your appointment."
"There was no fear of that," said Paul, with
his usual frankness. "I have been looking forward
to coming all day."
"Have you, indeed?" said the lady with a
pleasant smile.
"Then I must endeavor to make your visit
agreeable to you. Do you recognize this desk?"
Upon a table close by, was the desk which
had been purchased the day previous, at Appleton's.
"Yes," said Paul, "it is the one you bought yesterday.
I think it is very handsome."
"I am glad you think so. I think I told
you that I intended it for a present. I have
had the new owner's name engraved upon it."
Paul read the name upon the plate provided
for the purpose. His face flushed with
surprise and pleasure. That name was his own.
"Do you really mean it for me" he asked.
"If you will accept it," said Mrs. Danforth, smiling.
"I shall value it very much," said Paul, gratefully.
"And I feel very much indebted to your kindness."
"We won't talk of indebtedness, for you remember
mine is much the greater. If you will open the desk
you will find that it is furnished with what will,
I hope, prove of use to you."
The desk being opened, proved to contain a liberal
supply of stationery, sealing wax, postage stamps, and pens.
Paul was delighted with his new present,
and Mrs. Danforth seemed to enjoy the
evident gratification with which it inspired him.
"Now," said she, "tell me a little about
yourself. Have you always lived in New York?"
"Only about three years," said Paul.
"And where did you live before?"
"At Wrenville, in Connecticut."
"I have heard of the place. A small country town, is it not?"
Paul answered in the affirmative.
"How did you happen to leave Wrenville,
and come to New York?"
Paul blushed, and hesitated a moment.
"I ran away," he said at length, determined
to keep nothing back.
"Ran away! Not from home, I hope."
"I had no home," said Paul, soberly. "I
should never have left there, if my father had
not died. Then I was thrown upon the world.
I was sent to the Poorhouse. I did not want to go,
for I thought I could support myself."
"That is a very honorable feeling. I suppose
you did not fare very well at the Poorhouse."
In reply, Paul detailed some of the grievances
to which he had been subjected. Mrs.
Danforth listened with sympathizing attention.
"You were entirely justified in running away,"
she said, as he concluded. "I can hardly imagine
so great a lack of humanity as these people showed.
You are now, I hope, pleasantly situated?"
"Yes," said Paul, "Mr. and Mrs. Cameron
treat me with as great kindness as if I were
their own child."
"Cameron! Is not that the name of the
sexton of our church?" said Mrs. Danforth,
"It is with him that I have a pleasant home."
"Indeed, I am glad to hear it. You have
been attending school, I suppose."
"Yes, it is not more than two months since
I left off school."
"And now I suppose you are thinking of
entering upon some business."
"Yes; I have been trying to obtain a place
in some merchant's counting-room."
"You think, then, that you would like the
career of a merchant?"
"There is nothing that would suit me better."
"You have not succeeded in obtaining a
place yet, I suppose?"
"No. They are very difficult to get, and I
have no influential friends to assist me."
"I have heard Mr. Danforth say that he
experienced equal difficulty when he came to
New York, a poor boy."
Paul looked surprised.
"I see that you are surprised," said Mrs.
Danforth, smiling. "You think, perhaps, judging
from what you see, that my husband was
always rich. But he was the son of a poor
farmer, and was obliged to make his own way
in the world. By the blessing of God, he has
been prospered in business and become rich.
But he often speaks of his early discouragements
and small beginnings. I am sorry he
is not here this evening. By the way, he left
word for you to call at his counting-room tomorrow,
at eleven o'clock. I will give you his
She handed Paul a card containing the
specified number, and soon after he withdrew,
bearing with him his handsome gift, and
a cordial invitation to repeat his call.
He looked back at the elegant mansion
which he had just left, and could not help feeling
surprised that the owner of such a palace,
should have started in life with no greater
advantages than himself.
Paul slept late the next morning. He did
not hear the breakfast-bell, and when the sexton
came up to awaken him he rubbed his eyes
with such an expression of bewilderment that
Mr. Cameron could not forbear laughing.
"You must have had queer dreams, Paul,"
said he.
"Yes, Uncle Hugh," said Paul, laughing, "I
believe I have."
"When you have collected your wits, which
at present seem absent on a wool-gathering
expedition, perhaps you will tell what you have
been dreaming about."
"So I will," said Paul, "and perhaps you
can interpret it for me. I dreamed that I was
back again at Mr. Mudge's, and that he sent me
out into the field to dig potatoes. I worked
away at the first hill, but found no potatoes.
In place of them were several gold pieces. I
picked them up in great surprise, and instead
of putting them into the basket, concluded to
put them in my pocket. But as all the hills
turned out in the same way I got my pockets
full, and had to put the rest in the basket. I
was just wondering what they would do for
potatoes, when all at once a great dog came up
and seized me by the arm----"
"And you opened your eyes and saw me,"
said the sexton, finishing out his narrative.
"Upon my word, that's very complimentary
to me. However, some of our potatoes have
escaped transformation into gold pieces, but I
am afraid you will find them rather cold if you
don't get down to breakfast pretty quick."
"All right, Uncle Hugh. I'll be down in a jiffy."
About half-past ten Paul started on his way
to Mr. Danforth's counting-room. It was located
on Wall Street, as he learned from the
card which had been given him by Mrs. Danforth.
He felt a little awkward in making this
call. It seemed as if he were going to receive
thanks for the service which he had rendered,
and he felt that he had already been abundantly
repaid. However, he was bound in courtesy to call,
since he did so at the request of Mrs. Danforth.
It was a large stone building, divided up
into offices, to which Paul had been directed.
Mr. Danforth's office he found after a little
search, upon the second floor.
He opened the door with a little
embarrassment, and looked about him.
In one corner was a small room, used as a
more private office, the door of which was
closed. In the larger room the only one whom
he saw, was a boy, apparently about his own
age, who was standing at a desk and writing.
This boy looked around as Paul entered, and
he at once recognized in him an old acquaintance.
"George Dawkins!" he exclaimed in surprise.
The latter answered in a careless indifferent
tone, not exhibiting any very decided pleasure
at meeting his old schoolmate.
"Oh, it's you, Prescott, is it?"
"Yes," said Paul, "I haven't met you since
you left our school."
"No, I believe we have not met," said Dawkins,
in the same tone as before.
"How long have you been in this office?"
asked our hero.
"I really can't say," said Dawkins, not
looking up.
"You can't say!"
"No, I'm rather forgetful."
Paul could not help feeling chilled at the
indifferent manner in which his advances were
met. He had been really glad to see Dawkins,
and had addressed him with cordiality. He
could not conceal from himself that Dawkins
did not seem inclined to respond to it.
"Still," thought Paul, extenuatingly,
"perhaps that is his way."
As the conversation began to flag, Paul was
reminded of his errand by Dawkins saying, in
a tone which was half a sneer, "Have you any
business with Mr. Danforth this morning, or
did you merely come in out of curiosity?"
"I have called to see Mr. Danforth," said Paul.
"He is usually pretty busy in the morning,"
said Dawkins.
"He directed me to call in the morning,"
said Paul, sturdily.
"Oh, indeed!" said Dawkins, a little
surprised. "I wonder," he thought, "what
business this fellow can have with Mr. Danforth.
Can he be fishing for a place?"
"Mr. Danforth is engaged with a visitor
just now," he at length condescended to say;
"if your time is not too valuable to wait, you
can see him by-and-by."
"Thank you," said Paul, rather nettled,
"you are very polite."
To this Dawkins made no reply, but resumed
his pen, and for the next ten minutes seemed
entirely oblivious of Paul's presence.
Our hero took up the morning paper, and
began, as he had so often done before, to look
over the list of wants, thinking it possible he
might find some opening for himself.
About ten minutes later the door of the
inner office opened, and two gentlemen came
out. One was a gentleman of fifty, a business
friend of Mr. Danforth's, the other was Mr.
Danforth himself.
The former remarked, on seeing Paul, "Is
this your son, Danforth?"
"No," said the merchant, nodding in a
friendly manner to Paul.
"That's a good joke," thought Dawkins,
chuckling to himself; "Mr. Danforth must
be immensely flattered at having a sexton's
adopted son taken for his."
After a final word or two on business
matters, and arrangements for another interview,
the visitor departed, and Mr. Danforth, now
at leisure, turned to Paul.
"Now my lad," he said kindly, "if you will
follow me, we shall have a chance to talk a little."
Paul followed the merchant into his office,
the door of which was closed, much to the regret
of Dawkins, who had a tolerably large
share of curiosity, and was very anxious to
find out what business Paul could possibly
have with his employer.
"Take that seat, if you please;" said Mr.
Danforth, motioning Paul to an arm-chair, and
sitting down himself, "Mrs. Danforth told me
from how great a peril you rescued her. You
are a brave boy."
"I don't know," said Paul, modestly, "I
didn't think of the danger. If I had, perhaps
I should have hesitated."
"If you had not been brave you would have
thought of your own risk. My wife and myself
are under very great obligations to you."
"That more than repays me for all I did,"
said Paul, in a tone of mingled modesty and
"I like the boy," thought Mr. Danforth;
"he is certainly quite superior to the common run."
"Have you left school?" he inquired, after a pause.
"Yes, sir. Last term closed my school life."
"Then you have never been in a situation."
"Yes, sir."
"Indeed! Before you left school?"
"No, sir, since."
"You did not like it, then?"
"No, sir," said Paul.
"And was that the reason of your leaving?"
"No, sir; my employer was not satisfied with me,"
said Paul, frankly.
"Indeed! I am surprised to hear this!
If you have no objection, will you tell me
the circumstances?"
Paul related in a straightforward manner
the difficulty he had had with Smith & Thompson.
"I hope you don't think I did wrong," he concluded.
"By no means," said Mr. Danforth, warmly.
"Your conduct was entirely creditable.
As for Smith, I know of him. He is a sharper.
It would have done you no good to remain in his employ."
Paul was pleased with this commendation.
He had thought it possible that his dismissal
from his former situation might operate
against him with the merchant.
"What are your present plans and wishes?"
asked Mr. Danforth, after a slight pause.
"I should like to enter a merchant's counting-room,"
said Paul, "but as such places are hard to get,
I think I shall try to get into a store."
Mr. Danforth reflected a moment, then
placing a piece of paper before our hero, he
said, "Will you write your name and address
on this piece of paper, that I may know where
to find you, in case I hear of a place?"
Paul did as directed. He had an excellent handwriting,
a point on which the merchant set a high value.
The latter surveyed the address with
approval, and said, "I am glad you write so
excellent a hand. It will be of material
assistance to you in securing a place in a countingroom.
Indeed, it has been already, for I have
just thought of a place which I can obtain for you."
"Can you, sir?" said Paul, eagerly.
"Where is it?"
"In my own counting-room," said Mr.
Danforth, smiling.
"I am very much obliged to you," said Paul,
hardly believing his ears.
"I was prepared to give it to you when you
came in, in case I found you qualified. The
superiority of your handwriting decides me.
When can you come?"
"To-morrow, if you like, sir."
"I like your promptness. As it is the middle
of the week, however, you may take a vacation
till Monday. Your salary will begin to-morrow."
"Thank you, sir."
"I will give you five dollars per week at
first, and more as your services become more
valuable. Will that be satisfactory?"
"I shall feel rich, sir. Mr. Smith only gave
me a dollar and a quarter."
"I hope you will find other differences between
me and Mr. Smith," said the merchant, smiling.
These preliminaries over, Mr. Danforth
opened the door, and glancing at Dawkins,
said, "Dawkins, I wish you to become
acquainted with your fellow clerk, Paul Prescott."
Dawkins looked surprised, and anything but
gratified as he responded stiffly, "I have the
honor of being already acquainted with Mr. Prescott."
"He is a little jealous of an interloper,"
thought Mr. Danforth, noticing the repellent
manner of young Dawkins. "Never mind,
they will get acquainted after awhile."
When George Dawkins went home to dinner,
his father observed the dissatisfied look he wore.
"Is anything amiss, my son?" he inquired.
"I should think there was," grumbled his son.
"What is it?"
"We've got a new clerk, and who do you think it is?"
"Who is it?"
"The adopted son of old Cameron, the sexton."
"Indeed," said Mrs. Dawkins. "I really
wonder at Mr. Danforth's bad taste. There are
many boys of genteel family, who would have
been glad of the chance. This boy is a low
fellow of course."
"Certainly," said her son, though he was
quite aware that this was not true.
"What could have brought the boy to Danforth's
notice?" asked Dawkins, senior.
"I don't know, I'm sure. The boy has
managed to get round him in some way. He is
very artful."
"I really think, husband, that you ought to
remonstrate with Mr. Danforth about taking
such a low fellow into his counting-room with
our George."
"Pooh!" said Mr. Dawkins, who was a
shade more sensible than his wife, "he'd think
me a meddler."
"At any rate, George," pursued his mother,
"there's one thing that is due to your family
and bringing up,--not to associate with this
low fellow any more than business requires."
"I certainly shall not," said George, promptly.
He was the worthy son of such a mother.
At the end of the first week, Paul received
five dollars, the sum which the merchant had
agreed to pay him for his services. With this
he felt very rich. He hurried home, and
displayed to the sexton the crisp bank note which
had been given him.
"You will soon be a rich man, Paul," said Mr. Cameron,
with a benevolent smile, returning the bill.
"But I want you to keep it, Uncle Hugh."
"Shall I put it in the Savings Bank, for you, Paul?"
"I didn't mean that. You have been
supporting me--giving me board and clothes--for
three years. It is only right that you should
have what I earn."
"The offer is an honorable one on your part,
Paul," said the sexton; "but I don't need it.
If it will please you, I will take two dollars
a week for your board, now, and out of the
balance you may clothe yourself, and save
what you can."
This arrangement seemed to be a fair one.
Mr. Cameron deposited the five dollar note in
his pocket-book, and passed one of three
dollars to Paul. This sum our hero deposited the
next Monday morning, in a savings bank. He
estimated that he could clothe himself
comfortably for fifty dollars a year. This would
leave him one hundred towards the payment
of the debt due to Squire Conant.
"By-and-by my salary will be raised,"
thought Paul. "Then I can save more."
He looked forward with eager anticipation
to the time when he should be able to redeem
his father's name, and no one would be entitled
to cast reproach upon his memory.
He endeavored to perform his duties
faithfully in the office, and to learn as rapidly as he
could the business upon which he had entered.
He soon found that he must depend mainly
upon himself. George Dawkins seemed disposed
to afford him no assistance, but repelled
scornfully the advances which Paul made towards
cordiality. He was by no means as
faithful as Paul, but whenever Mr. Danforth
was absent from the office, spent his time in
lounging at the window, or reading a cheap
novel, with one of which he was usually provided.
When Paul became satisfied that Dawkins
was not inclined to accept his overtures, he
ceased to court his acquaintance, and confined
himself to his own desk.
One day as he was returning from dinner, he
was startled by an unceremonious slap upon
the shoulder.
Looking up in some surprise, he found that
this greeting had come from a man just behind
him, whose good-humored face and small,
twinkling eyes, he at once recognized.
"How do you do, Mr. Stubbs?" inquired
Paul, his face lighting up with pleasure.
"I'm so's to be round. How be you?"
returned the worthy pedler, seizing our hero's
hand and shaking it heartily.
Mr. Stubbs was attired in all the glory of a
blue coat with brass buttons and swallow tails.
"When did you come to New York?" asked Paul.
"Just arrived; that is, I got in this mornin'.
But I say, how you've grown. I shouldn't
hardly have known you."
"Shouldn't you, though?" said Paul, gratified as
most boys are, on being told that he had grown.
"Have you come to the city on business?"
"Well, kinder on business, and kinder not.
I thought I'd like to have a vacation. Besides,
the old lady wanted a silk dress, and she was
sot on havin' it bought in York. So I come to
the city."
"Where are you stopping, Mr. Stubbs?"
"Over to the Astor House. Pretty big hotel, ain't it?"
"Yes, I see you are traveling in style."
"Yes, I suppose they charge considerable,
but I guess I can stand it. I hain't been
drivin' a tin-cart for nothin' the last ten years.
"How have you been enjoying yourself since you arrived?"
"Oh, pretty well. I've been round seeing
the lions, and came pretty near seeing the
elephant at one of them Peter Funk places."
"You did! Tell me about it."
"You see I was walkin' along when a fellow
came out of one of them places, and asked me
if I wouldn't go in. I didn't want to refuse
such a polite invitation, and besides I had a
curiosity to see what there was to be seen, so
I went in. They put up a silver watch, I could
see that it was a good one, and so I bid on it.
It ran up to eight dollars and a quarter. I
thought it was a pity it should go off so cheap,
so I bid eight and a half."
"`Eight and a half and sold,' said the man;
`shall I put it up for you?"
"`No, I thank you,' said I, `I'll take it as it is.'
"`But I'll put it up in a nice box for you,' said he.
"I told him I didn't care for the box. He
seemed very unwilling to let it go, but I took
it out of his hand and he couldn't help himself.
Well, when they made out the bill, what do
you suppose they charged?"
"I don't know."
"Why, eighteen and a half."
"`Look here,' said I, `I guess here's something
of a mistake. You've got ten dollars too much.'
"`I think you must be mistaken,' said he,
smiling a foxy smile.
"`You know I am not,' said I, rather cross.
"We can't let that watch go for any thing shorter,'
said he, coolly.
"Just then a man that was present stepped up and said,
`the man is right; don't attempt to impose upon him.'
"With that he calmed right down. It seems
it was a policeman who was sent to watch
them, that spoke. So I paid the money, but as
I went out I heard the auctioneer say that the
sale was closed for the day. I afterwards
learned that if I had allowed them to put the
watch in a box, they would have exchanged it
for another that was only plated."
"Do you know anybody in the city?" asked Paul.
"I've got some relations, but I don't know
where they live."
"What is the name?" asked Paul, "we can
look into the directory."
"The name is Dawkins," answered the pedler.
"Dawkins!" repeated Paul, in surprise.
"Yes, do you happen to know anybody of the name?"
"Yes, but I believe it is a rich family."
"Well, so are my relations," said Jehoshaphat.
"You didn't think Jehoshaphat Stubbs
had any rich relations, did you? These, as I've
heard tell, hold their heads as high as anybody."
"Perhaps I may be mistaken," said Paul.
"What is the name--the Christian name, I
mean--of your relation?"
"It must be he, then. There is a boy of
about my own age of that name. He works in
the same office."
"You don't say so! Well, that is curious, I
declare. To think that I should have happened
to hit upon you so by accident too."
"How are you related to them?" inquired Paul.
"Why, you see, I'm own cousin to Mr. Dawkins.
His father and my mother were brother and sister."
"What was his father's business?" asked Paul.
"I don't know what his regular business
was, but he was a sexton in some church."
This tallied with the account Paul had
received from Mr. Cameron, and he could no
longer doubt that, strange as it seemed, the
wealthy Mr. Dawkins was own cousin to the pedler.
"Didn't you say the boy was in the same
office with you, Paul?"
"Well, I've a great mind to go and see him,
and find out where his father lives. Perhaps
I may get an invite to his house."
"How shocked Dawkins will be!" thought
Paul, not, it must be confessed, without a feeling
of amusement. He felt no compunction
in being the instrument of mortifying the false
pride of his fellow clerk, and he accordingly
signified to Mr. Stubbs that he was on his way
to the counting-room.
"Are you, though? Well, I guess I'll go
along with you. Is it far off?"
"Only in the next street."
The pedler, it must be acknowledged, had a
thoroughly countrified appearance. He was
a genuine specimen of the Yankee,--a long,
gaunt figure, somewhat stooping, and with a long
aquiline nose. His dress has already been described.
As Dawkins beheld him entering with Paul,
he turned up his nose in disgust at what he
considered Paul's friend.
What was his consternation when the
visitor, approaching him with a benignant
smile, extended his brown hand, and said,
"How d'ye do, George? How are ye all to hum?"
Dawkins drew back haughtily.
"What do you mean?" he said, pale with passion.
"Mr. Dawkins," said Paul, with suppressed merriment,
"allow me to introduce your cousin, Mr. Stubbs."
"Jehoshaphat Stubbs," explained that individual.
"Didn't your father never mention my name to you?"
"Sir," said Dawkins, darting a furious glance at Paul,
"you are entirely mistaken if you suppose that any
relationship exists between me and that--person."
"No, it's you that are mistaken," said Mr.
Stubbs, persevering, "My mother was Roxana
Jane Dawkins. She was own sister to your
grandfather. That makes me and your father
cousins Don't you see?"
"I see that you are intending to insult me,"
said Dawkins, the more furiously, because he
began to fear there might be some truth in the
man's claims. "Mr. Prescott, I leave you to
entertain your company yourself."
And he threw on his hat and dashed out of
the counting-room.
"Well," said the pedler, drawing a long
breath, "that's cool,--denyin' his own flesh
and blood. Rather stuck up, ain't he?"
"He is, somewhat," said Paul; "if I were you,
I shouldn't be disposed to own him as a relation."
"Darned ef I will!" said Jehoshaphat
sturdily; "I have some pride, ef I am a pedler.
Guess I'm as good as he, any day."
Squire Newcome sat in a high-backed chair
before the fire with his heels on the fender.
He was engaged in solemnly perusing the leading
editorial in the evening paper, when all
at once the table at his side gave a sudden
lurch, the lamp slid into his lap, setting the
paper on fire, and, before the Squire realized
his situation, the flames singed his whiskers,
and made his face unpleasantly warm.
"Cre-a-tion!" he exclaimed, jumping
briskly to his feet.
The lamp had gone out, so that the cause
of the accident remained involved in mystery.
The Squire had little trouble in conjecturing,
however, that Ben was at the bottom of it.
Opening the door hastily, he saw, by the
light in the next room, that young gentleman
rising from his knees in the immediate vicinity
of the table.
"Ben-ja-min," said the Squire, sternly,
"What have you been a-doing?"
Ben looked sheepish, but said nothing.
"I repeat, Benjamin, what have you been
"I didn't mean to," said Ben.
"That does not answer my interrogatory.
What have you been a-doing?"
"I was chasing the cat," said Ben, "and
she got under the table. I went after her, and
somehow it upset. Guess my head might have
knocked against the legs."
"How old are you, Benjamin?"
"A boy of fifteen is too old to play with cats.
You may retire to your dormitory."
"It's only seven o'clock, father," said Ben,
in dismay.
"Boys that play with cats are young enough
to retire at seven," remarked the Squire,
There was nothing for Ben but to obey.
Accordingly with reluctant steps he went up
to his chamber and went to bed. His active
mind, together with the early hour, prevented
his sleeping. Instead, his fertile imagination
was employed in devising some new scheme, in
which, of course, fun was to be the object
attained. While he was thinking, one scheme
flashed upon him which he at once pronounced "bully."
"I wish I could do it to-night," he sighed.
"Why can't I?" he thought, after a
moment's reflection.
The more he thought of it, the more feasible
it seemed, and at length he decided to attempt it.
Rising from his bed he quickly dressed
himself, and then carefully took the sheet, and
folding it up in small compass put it under his
Next, opening the window, he stepped out
upon the sloping roof of the ell part, and slid
down to the end where he jumped off, the
height not being more than four feet from the
ground. By some accident, a tub of suds was
standing under the eaves, and Ben, much to
his disgust, jumped into it.
"Whew!" exclaimed he, "I've jumped into
that plaguy tub. What possessed Hannah to
put it in a fellow's way?"
At this moment the back door opened, and
Hannah called out, in a shrill voice, "Who's
there?" Ben hastily hid himself, and thought
it best not to answer.
"I guess 'twas the cat," said Hannah, as
she closed the door.
"A two-legged cat," thought Ben, to
himself; "thunder, what sopping wet feet I've got.
Well, it can't be helped."
With the sheet still under his arm, Ben
climbed a fence and running across the fields
reached the fork of the road. Here he concealed
himself under a hedge, and waited
silently till the opportunity for playing his
practical joke arrived.
I regret to say that Mr. Mudge, with whom
we have already had considerable to do, was
not a member of the temperance society. Latterly,
influenced perhaps by Mrs. Mudge's
tongue, which made his home far from a happy
one, he had got into the habit of spending his
evenings at the tavern in the village, where he
occasionally indulged in potations that were
not good for him. Generally, he kept within
the bounds of moderation, but occasionally he
exceeded these, as he had done on the present
Some fifteen minutes after Ben had taken
his station, he saw, in the moonlight, Mr.
Mudge coming up the road, on his way home.
Judging from his zigzag course, he was not
quite himself.
Ben waited till Mr. Mudge was close at
hand, when all at once he started from his
place of concealment completely enveloped
in the sheet with which he was provided.
He stood motionless before the astounded Mudge.
"Who are you?" exclaimed Mudge, his
knees knocking together in terror, clinging to
an overhanging branch for support.
There was no answer.
"Who are you?" he again asked in affright.
"Sally Baker," returned Ben, in as
sepulchral a voice as he could command.
Sally Baker was an old pauper, who had
recently died. The name occurred to Ben on
the spur of the moment. It was with some
difficulty that he succeeded in getting out the
name, such was his amusement at Mr. Mudge's
evident terror.
"What do you want of me?" inquired Mudge, nervously.
"You half starved me when I was alive," returned Ben,
in a hollow voice, "I must be revenged."
So saying he took one step forward,
spreading out his arms. This was too much for Mr.
Mudge. With a cry he started and ran towards
home at the top of his speed, with Ben in pursuit.
"I believe I shall die of laughing, exclaimed Ben,
pausing out of breath, and sitting down on a stone,
"what a donkey he is, to be sure, to think there are
such things as ghosts. I'd like to be by when he tells
Mrs. Mudge."
After a moment's thought, Ben wrapped up
the sheet, took it under his arm, and once
more ran in pursuit of Mr. Mudge.
Meanwhile Mrs. Mudge was sitting in the
kitchen of the Poorhouse, mending stockings.
She was not in the pleasantest humor, for one
of the paupers had managed to break a plate
at tea-table (if that can be called tea where
no tea is provided), and trifles were sufficient
to ruffle Mrs. Mudge's temper.
"Where's Mudge, I wonder?" she said,
sharply; "over to the tavern, I s'pose, as usual.
There never was such a shiftless, good-fornothing
man. I'd better have stayed unmarried
all the days of my life than have married
him. If he don't get in by ten, I'll lock the
door, and it shall stay locked. 'Twill serve him
right to stay out doors all night."
Minutes slipped away, and the decisive hour
"I'll go to the door and look out," thought
Mrs. Mudge, "if he ain't anywhere in sight
I'll fasten the door."
She laid down her work and went to the door.
She had not quite reached it when it was
flung open violently, and Mr. Mudge, with a
wild, disordered look, rushed in, nearly overturning
his wife, who gazed at him with mingled
anger and astonishment.
"What do you mean by this foolery, Mudge?"
she demanded, sternly.
"What do I mean?" repeated her husband, vaguely.
"I needn't ask you," said his wife, contemptuously.
"I see how it is, well enough. You're drunk!"
"Yes, drunk; as drunk as a beast."
"Well, Mrs. Mudge," hiccoughed her husband,
in what he endeavored to make a dignified tone,
"you'd be drunk too if you'd seen what I've seen."
"And what have you seen, I should like to know?"
said Mrs. Mudge.
Mudge rose with some difficulty, steadied
himself on his feet, and approaching his wife,
whispered in a tragic tone, "Mrs. Mudge, I've
seen a sperrit."
"It's plain enough that you've seen spirit,"
retorted his wife. "'Tisn't many nights that
you don't, for that matter. You ought to be
ashamed of yourself, Mudge."
"It isn't that," said her husband, shaking his hand,
"it's a sperrit,--a ghost, that I've seen."
"Indeed!" said Mrs. Mudge, sarcastically,
"perhaps you can tell whose it is."
"It was the sperrit of Sally Baker," said Mudge, solemnly.
"What did she say?" demanded Mrs. Mudge, a little curiously.
"She said that I--that we, half starved her,
and then she started to run after me--and--
oh, Lordy, there she is now!"
Mudge jumped trembling to his feet. Following
the direction of his outstretched finger,
Mrs. Mudge caught a glimpse of a white figure
just before the window. I need hardly say
that it was Ben, who had just arrived upon
the scene.
Mrs. Mudge was at first stupefied by what
she saw, but being a woman of courage she
speedily recovered herself, and seizing the
broom from behind the door, darted out in
search of the "spirit." But Ben, perceiving
that he was discovered, had disappeared, and
there was nothing to be seen.
"Didn't I tell you so?" muttered Mudge,
as his wife re-entered, baffled in her attempt,
"you'll believe it's a sperrit, now."
"Go to bed, you fool!" retorted his wife.
This was all that passed between Mr. and
Mrs. Mudge on the subject. Mr. Mudge firmly
believes, to this day, that the figure which
appeared to him was the spirit of Sally Baker.
Delighted with the complete success of his
practical joke, Ben took his way homeward
with the sheet under his arm. By the time he
reached his father's house it was ten o'clock.
The question for Ben to consider now was,
how to get in. If his father had not fastened
the front door he might steal in, and slip up
stairs on tiptoe without being heard. This
would be the easiest way of overcoming the
difficulty, and Ben, perceiving that the light
was still burning in the sitting-room, had some
hopes that he would be able to adopt it. But
while he was only a couple of rods distant he
saw the lamp taken up by his father, who
appeared to be moving from the room.
"He's going to lock the front door," thought
Ben, in disappointment; "if I had only got
along five minutes sooner."
From his post outside he heard the key turn
in the lock.
The 'Squire little dreamed that the son
whom he imagined fast asleep in his room was
just outside the door he was locking.
"I guess I'll go round to the back part of
the house," thought Ben, "perhaps I can get
in the same way I came out."
Accordingly he went round and managed to
clamber upon the roof, which was only four
feet from the ground. But a brief trial served
to convince our young adventurer that it is a
good deal easier sliding down a roof than it is
climbing up. The shingles being old were
slippery, and though the ascent was not steep,
Ben found the progress he made was very
much like that of a man at the bottom of a
well, who is reported as falling back two feet
for every three that he ascended. What
increased the difficulty of his attempt was that
the soles of his shoes were well worn, and
slippery as well as the shingles.
"I never can get up this way," Ben concluded,
after several fruitless attempts; "I know what I'll do,"
he decided, after a moment's perplexity; "I'll pull
off my shoes and stockings, and then I guess I can
get along better."
Ben accordingly got down from the roof, and
pulled off his shoes and stockings. As he
wanted to carry these with him, he was at first
a little puzzled by this new difficulty. He
finally tied the shoes together by the strings
and hung them round his neck. He disposed
of the stockings by stuffing one in each pocket.
"Now," thought Ben, "I guess I can get
along better. I don't know what to do with
the plaguy sheet, though."
But necessity is the mother of invention,
and Ben found that he could throw the sheet
over his shoulders, as a lady does with her
shawl. Thus accoutered he recommenced the
ascent with considerable confidence.
He found that his bare feet clung to the
roof more tenaciously than the shoes had done,
and success was already within his grasp, when
an unforeseen mishap frustrated his plans. He
had accomplished about three quarters of the
ascent when all at once the string which united
the shoes which he had hung round his neck
gave way, and both fell with a great thump on
the roof. Ben made a clutch for them in which
he lost his own hold, and made a hurried descent
in their company, alighting with his bare
feet on some flinty gravel stones, which he
found by no means agreeable.
"Ow!" ejaculated Ben, limping painfully,
"them plaguy gravel stones hurt like thunder.
I'll move 'em away the first thing to-morrow.
If that confounded shoe-string hadn't broken
I'd have been in bed by this time."
Meanwhile Hannah had been sitting over
the kitchen fire enjoying a social chat with a
"cousin" of hers from Ireland, a young man
whom she had never seen or heard of three
months before. In what way he had succeeded
in convincing her of the relationship I have
never been able to learn, but he had managed
to place himself on familiar visiting terms with
the inmate of 'Squire Newcome's kitchen.
"It's only me cousin, sir," Hannah explained
to the 'Squire, when he had questioned her
on the subject; "he's just from Ireland, sir,
and it seems like home to see him."
On the present occasion Tim Flaherty had
outstayed his usual time, and was still in the
kitchen when Ben reached home. They did
not at first hear him, but when he made his
last abortive attempt, and the shoes came
clattering down, they could not help hearing.
"What's that?" asked Hannah, listening attentively.
She went to the door to look out, her cousin following.
There was nothing to be seen.
"Perhaps you was dramin' Hannah," said
Tim, "more by token, it's time we was both
doin' that same, so I'll bid you good-night."
"Come again soon, Tim," said Hannah,
preparing to close the door.
A new plan of entrance flashed upon Ben.
He quickly put on his shoes and stockings,
unfolded the sheet and prepared to enact the
part of a ghost once more,--this time for the
special benefit of Hannah.
After fully attiring himself he came to the
back door which Hannah had already locked,
and tapped three times.
Hannah was engaged in raking out the
kitchen fire.
"Sure it's Tim come back," thought she,
as she went to the door. "Perhaps he's
forgotten something."
She opened the door unsuspiciously, fully expecting
to see her Irish cousin standing before her.
What was her terror on beholding a whiterobed
figure, with extended arms.
"Howly virgin, defend me!" she exclaimed,
in paralyzing terror, which was increased by a
guttural sound which proceeded from the throat
of the ghost, who at the same time waved
his arms aloft, and made a step towards Hannah.
Hannah, with a wild howl dropped the lamp
and fed towards the sitting-room, where
'Squire Newcome was still sitting.
Ben sped upstairs at the top of his speed,
dashed into his own chamber, spread the sheet
on the bed, and undressed so rapidly that he
seemed only to shake his clothes off, and
jumped into bed. He closed his eyes and
appeared to be in a profound slumber.
Hannah's sudden appearance in the sittingroom
in such a state naturally astonished the 'Squire.
"What's the matter?" he demanded of the affrighted servant.
"Oh, sir," she gasped, "I'm almost kilt entirely."
"Are you?" said the 'Squire, "you appear
to be more frightened than hurt."
"Yes, sir, shure I am frightened, which indeed
I couldn't help it, sir, for I never saw
a ghost before in all my life."
"A ghost! What nonsense are you talking, Hannah?"
"Shure it's not nonsense, for it's just now
that the ghost came to the door, sir, and
knocked, and I went to the door thinking it
might be me cousin, who's been passing the
evening with me, when I saw a great white
ghost, ten foot tall, standing forninst me."
"Ten feet tall?"
"Yes, sir, and he spread out his arms and
spoke in a terrible voice, and was going to
carry me off wid him, but I dropped the lamp,
and O sir, I'm kilt entirely."
"This is a strange story," said 'Squire
Newcome, rather suspiciously; "I hope you have
not been drinking."
Hannah protested vehemently that not a drop
of liquor had passed her lips, which was true.
"I'll go out and hunt for the ghost," said the 'Squire.
"Oh, don't sir. He'll carry you off,"
said Hannah, terrified.
"Nonsense!" exclaimed the 'Squire. "Follow me,
or you may stay here if you are frightened."
This Hannah would by no means do, since
the 'Squire had taken the lamp and she would
be left in the dark.
Accordingly she followed him with a
trembling step, as he penetrated through the
kitchen into the back room, ready to run at the
least alarm.
The back-door was wide open, but nothing
was to be seen of the ghost.
"Perhaps the ghost's up-stairs," said Hannah,
"I can't sleep up there this night, shure."
But something had attracted Squire Newcome's
attention. It was quite muddy out of
doors, and Ben had tracked in considerable
mud with him. The footprints were very
perceptible on the painted floor.
"The ghost seems to have had muddy shoes,"
said the 'Squire dryly; "I guess I can find
He followed the tracks which witnessed so
strongly against Ben, to whose chamber they led.
Ben, though still awake, appeared to be in a
profound slumber.
"Ben-ja-min!" said his father, stooping over the bed.
There was no answer.
"Ben-ja-min!" repeated his father, giving
him a shake, "what does all this mean?"
"What?" inquired Ben, opening his eyes,
and looking very innocent.
"Where have you been, to-night?"
"You sent me to bed," said Ben, "and I came."
But the 'Squire was not to be deceived. He
was already in possession of too much information
to be put off. So Ben, who with all his
love of mischief was a boy of truth, finally
owned up everything. His father said very
little, but told him the next morning that he
had made up his mind to send him to a military
boarding-school, where the discipline was
very strict. Ben hardly knew whether to he
glad or sorry, but finally, as boys like change
and variety, came to look upon his new
prospects with considerable cheerfulness.
George Dawkins was standing at his desk
one morning, when a man entered the office,
and stepping up to him, unceremoniously
tapped him on the shoulder.
Dawkins turned. He looked extremely
annoyed on perceiving his visitor, whose outward
appearance was certainly far from prepossessing.
His face exhibited unmistakable
marks of dissipation, nor did the huge breast
pin and other cheap finery which he wore
conceal the fact of his intense vulgarity. His eyes
were black and twinkling, his complexion very
dark, and his air that of a foreigner. He was,
in fact, a Frenchman, though his language
would hardly have betrayed him, unless, as
sometimes, he chose to interlard his discourse
with French phrases.
"How are you this morning, my friend?"
said the newcomer.
"What are you here for?" asked Dawkins, roughly.
"That does not seem to me a very polite way
of receiving your friends."
"Friends!" retorted Dawkins, scornfully,
"who authorized you to call yourself my friend?"
"Creditor, then, if it will suit you better, mon ami."
"Hush," said Dawkins, in an alarmed whisper, "he will hear,"
here he indicated Paul with his finger.
"And why should I care? I have no secrets
from the young man."
"Stop, Duval," exclaimed Dawkins, in an angry whisper,
"Leave the office at once. Your appearing here
will injure me."
"But I am not your friend; why should I care?" sneered Duval.
"Listen to reason. Leave me now, and I will meet you
when and where you will."
"Come, that sounds better."
"Now go. I'm afraid Mr. Danforth will be in."
"If he comes, introduce me."
Dawkins would like to have knocked the fellow over.
"Name your place and time, and be quick about it,"
said he impatiently.
"Eight o'clock this evening, you know where,"
was the answer.
"Very well. Good-morning."
"Mind you bring some money."
"Good-morning," returned Dawkins, angrily.
At length, much to his relief, Duval left the
office. Dawkins stole a side glance at Paul, to
see what impression the interview had made
upon him, but our hero, who had overheard
some portions of the dialogue, perceiving that
Dawkins wished it to be private, took as little
notice of the visitor as possible. He could not
help thinking, however, that Duval was a man
whose acquaintance was likely to be of little
benefit to his fellow clerk.
Throughout the day Dawkins appeared
unusually nervous, and made several blunders
which annoyed Mr. Danforth. Evidently he
had something on his mind. Not to keep the
reader in suspense, George had fallen among
bad companions, where he had learned both
to drink and to gamble. In this way he had
made the acquaintance of Duval, an unscrupulous
sharper, who had contrived to get away all
his ready money, and persuading him to play
longer in the hope of making up his losses had
run him into debt one hundred and fifty dollars.
Dawkins gave him an acknowledgment
of indebtedness to that amount. This of course
placed him in Duval's power, since he knew of
no means of raising such a sum. He therefore
kept out of the Frenchman's way, avoiding
the old haunts where he would have been likely
to meet him. Dawkins supposed Duval
ignorant of the whereabouts of his employer's
counting-room. So he had been, but he made
it his business to ascertain where it was. He
had no idea of losing sight of so valuable a prize.
Dawkins would willingly have broken the
appointment he had made with Duval, but he
did not dare to do so. He knew that the man
was well able to annoy him, and he would not
on any account have had the affair disclosed
to his father or Mr. Danforth.
As Trinity clock struck eight, he entered
a low bar-room in the neighborhood of the docks.
A young man with pale, sandy hair stood
behind the counter with his sleeves rolled up.
He was supplying the wants of a sailor who
already appeared to have taken more drink than
was good for him.
"Good evening, Mr. Dawkins," said he,
"you're a stranger."
"Is Duval in?" inquired Dawkins, coldly.
His pride revolted at the place and company.
He had never been here but once before, having
met Duval elsewhere.
"He's up in his room. John show the young
gentleman up to No. 9. Won't you have a
glass of something this evening?"
"No," said Dawkins, abruptly.
The boy preceded him up a dark and dirty
"That's the room, sir," he said.
"Stop a minute," said Dawkins, "he may
not be in."
He inwardly hoped he might not. But
Duval answered his knock by coming to the door
"Delighted to see you, mon ami. John,
may leave the lamp. That's all, unless Mr.
Dawkins wishes to order something."
"I want nothing," said Dawkins.
"They have some capital brandy."
"I am not in the mood for drinking tonight."
"As you please," said the Frenchman,
disappointed; "be seated."
Dawkins sat down in a wooden rockingchair,
minus an arm.
"Well," said Duval, "how much money
have you brought me?"
The Frenchman frowned and stroked his
mustache, fiercely.
"What does all this mean? Are you going
to put me off longer?"
"I would pay it if I could," said Dawkins,
"but I haven't got the money."
"You could get it."
"Ask your father."
"My father would rave if he knew that I had
lost money in such a way."
"But you need not tell him."
"If I ask for money, he will be sure to ask
what I want it for."
"Tell him you want clothes, or a watch, or
a hundred things."
Dawkins shook his head; "it won't do," said he.
"He wouldn't give me a hundred and fifty dollars."
"Then ask seventy-five, and I will wait a
month for the rest."
"Look here, Duval, you have no rightful
claim to this money. You've got enough out of
me. Just tear up the paper."
Duval laughed scornfully, "Aha, Mr.
Dawkins," he said, "that would be a very pretty
arrangement FOR YOU. But I don't see how it
is going to benefit me. No, no, I can't afford
to throw away a hundred and fifty dollars so
easily. If I was a rich man like your father
it would make a difference."
"Then you won't remit the debt," said
Dawkins, sullenly.
"You would think me a great ninny, if I did."
"Then you may collect it the best way you can."
"What do you mean by that?" demanded
the Frenchman, his face darkening.
"I mean what I say," said Dawkins, desperately,
"Gambling debts are not recognizable in law."
"Nothing is said about it's being a gambling debt.
I have your note."
"Which is worth nothing, since I am a minor."
Duval's face became black with rage.
"Aha, my friend," said he showing his teeth,
"this is a very nice game to cheat me out of
my money. But it won't do, it won't do."
"Why won't it?"
"I shall say a word in your father's ear,
mon ami, and in the ear of your worthy employer
whom you were so anxious for me not
to see, and perhaps that would be worse for
you than to pay me my money."
Dawkins's brief exultation passed away.
He saw that he was indeed in the power of an
unscrupulous man, who was disposed to push his
advantage to the utmost.
He subsided into a moody silence, which
Duval watched with satisfaction.
"Well, my friend, what will you do about it?"
"I don't know what I can do."
"You will think of something. You will find it best,"
said the Frenchman, in a tone which veiled a threat.
"I will try," said Dawkins, gloomily.
"That is well. I thought you would listen
to reason, mon ami. Now we will have a pleasant
chat. Hold, I will order some brandy myself."
"Not for me," said Dawkins, rising from his
chair, "I must be going."
"Will you not have one little game?" asked
Duval, coaxingly.
"No, no, I have had enough of that. Goodnight."
"Then you won't stop. And when shall I
have the pleasure of seeing you at my little
apartment once more?"
"I don't know."
"If it is any trouble to you to come, I will
call at your office," said Duval, significantly.
"Don't trouble yourself," said Dawkins,
hastily; "I will come here a week from today."
"A week is a long time."
"Long or short, I must have it."
"Very well, mon ami. A week let it be.
Good-night. Mind the stairs as you go down."
Dawkins breathed more freely as he passed
out into the open air. He was beginning to
realize that the way of the transgressor is hard.
Three months before, George Dawkins had
made his first visit to a gambling house.
At first, he had entered only from curiosity.
He watched the play with an interest which
gradually deepened, until he was easily persuaded
to try his own luck. The stakes were small,
but fortune favored him, and he came out some
dollars richer than he entered. It would have
been fortunate for him if he had failed. As it
was, his good fortune encouraged him to another
visit. This time he was less fortunate,
but his gains about balanced his losses, so that
he came out even. On the next occasion he left
off with empty pockets. So it went on until
at length he fell into the hands of Duval, who
had no scruple in fleecing him to as great an
extent as he could be induced to go.
George Dawkins's reflections were not of the
most cheerful character as, leaving Duval, he
slowly pursued his way homeward. He felt
that he had fallen into the power of an unscrupulous
villain, who would have no mercy upon
him. He execrated his own folly, without
which all the machination of Duval would
have been without effect.
The question now, however, was, to raise the
money. He knew of no one to whom he could
apply except his father, nor did he have much
hope from that quarter. Still, he would make
the effort.
Reaching home he found his father seated
in the library. He looked up from the evening
paper as George entered.
"Only half-past nine," he said, with an air
of sarcasm. "You spend your evenings out so
systematically that your early return surprises
me. How is it? Has the theater begun to lose
its charm!"
There was no great sympathy between father
and son, and if either felt affection for the
other, it was never manifested. Mutual
recrimination was the rule between them, and
George would now have made an angry answer
but that he had a favor to ask, and felt
it politic to be conciliatory.
"If I had supposed you cared for my society, sir,
I would have remained at home oftener."
"Umph!" was the only reply elicited from his father.
"However, there was a good reason for my
not going to the theater to-night."
"I had no money."
"Your explanation is quite satisfactory,"
said his father, with a slight sneer.
"I sympathize in your disappointment."
"There is no occasion, sir," said George,
good humoredly, for him. "I had no great
desire to go."
Dawkins took down a book from the library
and tried to read, but without much success.
His thoughts continually recurred to his pecuniary
embarrassments, and the debt which
he owed to Duval seemed to hang like a millstone
around his neck. How should he approach
his father on the subject? In his present
humor he feared he would have little chance.
As his father laid down the newspaper
Dawkins said, "Wouldn't you like a game of
checkers, sir?"
This, as he well knew, was a favorite game
with his father.
"I don't know but I should," said Mr.
Dawkins, more graciously than was his wont.
The checker-board was brought, and the two
commenced playing. Three games were played
all of which his father won. This appeared
to put him in a good humor, for as the two
ceased playing, he drew a ten-dollar-bill from
his pocket-book, and handed to his son, with
the remark, "There, George, I don't want you
to be penniless. You are a little extravagant,
though, I think. Your pay from Mr. Danforth
ought to keep you in spending money."
"Yes, sir, I have been rather extravagant,
but I am going to reform."
"I am very glad to hear it."
"I wish, sir," said George a moment
afterwards," that you would allow me to buy my
own clothes."
"I've no sort of an objection, I am sure.
You select them now, don't you?"
"Yes, sir, but I mean to suggest that you
should make me an allowance for that purpose,
--about as much as it costs now,--and give
me the money to spend where I please."
Mr. Dawkins looked sharply at his son.
"The result would probably be," he said,
"that the money would be expended in other
ways, and I should have to pay for the clothes
twice over."
Dawkins would have indignantly disclaimed
this, if he had not felt that he was not
altogether sincere in the request he had made.
"No," continued his father, "I don't like the
arrangement you propose. When you need
clothing you can go to my tailor and order it,
of course not exceeding reasonable limits."
"But," said Dawkins, desperately, "I don't
like Bradshaw's style of making clothes. I
would prefer trying some other tailor."
"What fault have you to find with Bradshaw?
Is he not one of the most fashionable
tailors in the city?"
"Yes, sir, I suppose so, but----"
"Come, sir, you are growing altogether too
particular. All your garments set well, so far
as I can judge."
"Yes, sir, but one likes a change sometimes,"
persisted George, a little embarrassed for
further objections.
"Well," said Mr. Dawkins, after a pause,
"If you are so strongly bent upon a new tailor,
select one, and order what you need. You can
tell him to send in his bill to me."
"Thank you sir," said his son, by no means
pleased at the manner in which his request had
been granted. He saw that it would in no manner
promote the plan which he had in view,
since it would give him no command of the
ready money. It is hardly necessary to say
that his alleged dissatisfaction with his father's
tailor had all been trumped up for the occasion,
and would never have been thought of
but for the present emergency.
"What shall I do!" thought Dawkins, in
perplexity, as he slowly undressed himself and
retired to bed.
The only true course, undoubtedly, was to
confess all to his father, to incur the storm of
reproaches which would have followed as the
just penalty of his transgression, and then the
haunting fear of discovery would have been
once and forever removed. But Dawkins was
not brave enough for this. He thought only of
escaping from his present difficulty without
his father's knowledge.
He rose the next morning with the burden
of care still weighing upon him. In the
evening the thought occurred to him that he might
retrieve his losses where he had incurred them,
and again he bent his steps to the gambling
house. He risked five dollars, being one-half
of what he had. This was lost. Desperately
he hazarded the remaining five dollars, and
lost again.
With a muttered oath he sprang to his feet,
and left the brilliant room, more gloomy and
discouraged than ever. He was as badly off
as before, and penniless beside. He would
have finished the evening at the theater, but
his recent loss prevented that. He lounged
about the streets till it was time to go to bed,
and then went home in a very unsatisfactory
state of mind.
A day or two after, he met on Broadway the
man whom of all others he would gladly have avoided.
"Aha, my friend, I am glad to meet you,"
said Duval, for it was he.
Dawkins muttered something unintelligible,
and would have hurried on, but Duval detained him.
"Why are you in such a hurry, my friend?" he said.
"Business," returned Dawkins, shortly.
"That reminds me of the little business
affair between us, mon ami. Have you got any
money for me?"
"Not yet."
"Not yet! It is three days since we saw
each other. Could you not do something in
three days?"
"I told you I required a week," said
Dawkins, roughly, "Let go my arm. I tell you I
am in haste."
"Very well, mon ami," said Duval, slowly
relinquishing his hold, "take care that you do
not forget. There are four days more to the week."
Dawkins hurried on feeling very uncomfortable.
He was quite aware that four days hence
he would be as unprepared to encounter the
Frenchman as now. Still, something might happen.
Something, unfortunately, did happen.
The next day Mr. Danforth was counting
a roll of bills which had been just paid in,
when he was unexpectedly called out of the
counting-room. He unguardedly left the bills
upon his own desk. Dawkins saw them lying
there. The thought flashed upon him, "There
lies what will relieve me from all my embarrassment."
Allowing himself scarcely a minute to think,
he took from the roll four fifty dollar notes,
thrust one into the pocket of Paul's overcoat,
which hung up in the office, drew off his right
boot and slipped the other three into the bottom
of it, and put it on again. He then nervously
resumed his place at his desk. A moment
afterwards, Paul, who had been to the
post-office, entered with letters which he
carried into the inner office and deposited on Mr.
Danforth's desk. He observed the roll of bills,
and thought his employer careless in leaving
so much money exposed, but said nothing on
the subject to Dawkins, between whom and
himself there was little communication.
Half an hour later Mr. Danforth returned.
"Has any one been here?" he asked as he
passed through the outer office.
"No, sir," said Dawkins, with outward
composure though his heart was beating rapidly.
While apparently intent upon his writing he
listened attentively to what might be going on
in the next room. One,--two,--three minutes
passed. Mr. Danforth again showed himself.
"Did you say that no one has been here?"
he demanded, abruptly.
"No, sir."
"Have either of you been into my office since
I have been out?"
"I have not, sir," said Dawkins.
"I went in to carry your letters," said Paul.
"Did you see a roll of bills lying on my desk?"
"Yes, sir," said Paul, a little surprised at
the question.
"I have just counted it over, and find but six
hundred dollars instead of eight hundred. Can
you account for the discrepancy?"
Mr. Danforth looked keenly at the two boys.
Dawkins, who had schooled himself to the ordeal,
maintained his outward calmness. Paul,
beginning to perceive that his honesty was
called in question, flushed.
"No, sir," said the boys simultaneously.
"It can hardly be possible, that Mr. Thompson,
who is a very careful man, should have made such
a mistake in paying me," resumed Mr. Danforth.
"As we have been the only persons here,"
said Dawkins, "the only way to vindicate ourselves
from suspicion is, to submit to a search."
"Yes, sir," said Paul promptly.
Both boys turned their pockets inside out,
but the missing money was not found.
"There is my overcoat, sir," said Dawkins,
"will you be kind enough to search it for yourself?"
Next, of course, Paul's overcoat was searched.
What was our hero's dismay when from one
of the pockets Mr. Danforth produced a fifty
dollar bill.
"Is it possible?" he exclaimed in as much
grief as surprise, "Unhappy boy, how came
you by this money in your pocket?"
"I don't know, sir," returned Paul, his cheek
alternately flushing and growing pale.
"I wish I could believe you," said Mr. Danforth;
"where have you put the other bills? Produce them,
and I may overlook this first offense."
"Indeed, sir," said Paul, in great distress,
"I have not the slightest knowledge of how
this bill came into my pocket. I hope you will
believe me, sir."
"How can I? The money evidently did not
go into your pocket without hands."
A sudden thought came to Paul. "Dawkins,"
said he, "did you put that money into my pocket?"
"What do you mean, sir?" returned Dawkins,
haughtily. "Is it your intention to insult me?"
Dawkins could not prevent his face from flushing
as he spoke, but this might easily be referred
to a natural resentment of the imputation cast upon him.
"Paul," said his employer, coldly, "you will
not help your own cause by seeking to involve
another. After what has happened you can
hardly expect me to retain you in my employment.
I will not make public your disgrace,
nor will I inquire farther for the remainder
of the money for which you have been willing
to barter your integrity. I will pay your wages
up to the end of this week, and----"
"Mr. Danforth," said Paul, manfully,
though the tears almost choked his utterance,
"I am sorry that you have no better opinion
of me. I do not want the balance of my wages.
If I have taken so large a sum which did not
belong to me, I have no claim to them.
Good-morning, sir. Sometime I hope you will
think better of me."
Paul put on his coat, and taking his cap
from the nail on which it hung, bowed respectfully
to his employer and left the office.
Mr. Danforth looked after him, and seemed
perplexed. Could Paul be guilty after all?
"I never could have suspected him if I had
not this evidence in my hand," said Mr. Danforth,
to himself, fixing his eyes upon the bill
which he had drawn from Paul's overcoat.
"Dawkins, did you observe whether Paul
remained long in the office?" he asked,
"Longer than sufficient to lay the letters
on the desk?"
"Yes, sir, I think he did."
"Did you notice whether he went to his
overcoat after coming out?"
"Yes, sir, he did," said Dawkins, anxious to
fix in Mr. Danforth's mind the impression of
Paul's guilt.
"Then I am afraid it is true," said his
employer sadly. "And yet, what a fine, manly
boy he is too. But it is a terrible fault."
Mr. Danforth was essentially a kind-hearted
man, and he cared much more for Paul's dereliction
from honesty than for the loss of the
money. Going home early to dinner, he
communicated to his wife the unpleasant
discovery which he had made respecting Paul.
Now, from the first, Paul had been a great
favorite with Mrs. Danforth, and she scouted
at the idea of his dishonesty.
"Depend upon it, Mr. Danforth," she said
decisively, "you have done the boy an injustice.
I have some skill in reading faces, and I
tell you that a boy with Paul Prescott's open,
frank expression is incapable of such a crime."
"So I should have said, my dear, but we
men learn to be less trustful than you ladies,
who stay at home and take rose-colored views
of life. Unfortunately, we see too much of the
dark side of human nature."
"So that you conclude all to be dark."
"Not so bad as that."
"Tell me all the circumstances, and perhaps
a woman's wit may help you."
Mr. Danforth communicated all the details,
with which the reader is already familiar.
"What sort of a boy is this Dawkins?"
she asked, "Do you like him?"
"Not particularly. He does his duties passably well.
I took him into my counting-room to oblige his father."
"Perhaps he is the thief."
"To tell the truth I would sooner have suspected him."
"Has he cleared himself from suspicion?"
"He was the first to suggest a search."
"Precisely the thing he would have done,
if he had placed the bill in Paul's pocket.
Of course he would know that the search must
result favorably for him."
"There is something in that."
"Besides, what could have been more foolish,
if Paul wished to hide the money, than to
multiply his chances of detection by hiding it
in two different places, especially where one
was so obvious as to afford no concealment at all."
"Admitting this to be true, how am I to
arrive at the proof of Paul's innocence?"
"My own opinion is, that George Dawkins
has the greater part of the money stolen.
Probably he has taken it for some particular purpose.
What it is, you may learn, perhaps, by watching him."
"I will be guided by your suggestion.
Nothing would afford me greater pleasure than
to find that I have been mistaken in assuming
Paul's guilt, though on evidence that seemed convincing."
This conversation took place at the dinnertable.
Mr. Danforth understood that no time
was to be lost if he expected to gain any
information from the movements of his clerk.
George Dawkins had ventured upon a bold act,
but he had been apparently favored by fortune,
and had succeeded. That he should have
committed this crime without compunction
could hardly be expected. His uneasiness,
however, sprang chiefly from the fear that
in some way he might yet be detected.
He resolved to get rid of the money which he
had obtained dishonestly, and obtain back from Duval the
acknowledgment of indebtedness which he had given him.
You will perhaps ask whether the wrong which
he had done Paul affected him with uneasiness.
On the contrary, it gratified the dislike which
from the first he had cherished towards our hero.
"I am well rid of him, at all events," he muttered
to himself, "that is worth risking some thing for."
When office hours were over Dawkins gladly
threw down his pen, and left the counting-room.
He bent his steps rapidly towards the locality
where he had before met Duval. He had decided
to wait some time before meeting that worthy.
He had to wait till another day, when as he was
emerging from the tavern he encountered
the Frenchman on the threshold.
"Aha, my good friend," said Duval, offering his hand,
which Dawkins did not appear to see, "I am very glad
to see you. Will you come in?"
"No, I have not time," said Dawkins, shortly.
"Have you brought me my money?"
"Aha, that is well. I was just about what
you call cleaned out."
"Have you my note with you?"
Duval fumbled in his pocket-book, and
finally produced the desired document.
"Give it to me."
"I must have the money first," said the
Frenchman, shrewdly.
"Take it," said Dawkins contemptuously.
"Do you judge me by yourself?"
He tore the note which he received into small pieces,
and left Duval without another word.
Sheltered by the darkness, Mr. Danforth,
who had tracked the steps of Dawkins, had
been an unseen witness of this whole transaction.
George Dawkins resumed his duties the
next morning as usual. Notwithstanding the
crime he had committed to screen himself from
the consequences of a lighter fault, he felt
immeasurably relieved at the thought that he had
shaken himself free from the clutches of Duval.
His satisfaction was heightened by the disgrace
and summary dismissal of Paul, whom he had never liked.
He decided to ask the place for a cousin of his own,
whose society would be more agreeable to him than
that of his late associate.
"Good-morning, sir," he said, as Mr. Danforth entered.
"Good-morning," returned his employer, coldly.
"Have you selected any one in Prescott's place, yet, sir?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Because I have a cousin, Malcolm Harcourt,
who would be glad to take it."
"Indeed!" said Mr. Danforth, whose manner
somewhat puzzled Dawkins.
"I should enjoy having him with me,"
continued Dawkins.
"Did you like Prescott?"
"No, sir," said Dawkins, promptly, "I didn't
want to say so before, but now, since he's
turned out so badly, I don't mind saying
that I never thought much of him."
"On the contrary," said Mr. Danforth, "I
liked him from the first. Perhaps we are
wrong in thinking that he took the money."
"I should think there could be no doubt of it,"
said Dawkins, not liking the sympathy and returning
good feeling for Paul which his employer manifested.
"I don't agree with you," said Mr. Danforth, coldly.
"I have decided to reinstate Paul in his former place."
"Then, if any more money is missing, you will know
where it has gone," said Dawkins, hastily.
"I shall."
"Then there is no chance for my cousin?"
"I am expecting to have a vacancy."
Dawkins looked up in surprise.
"I shall require some one to fill YOUR place,"
said Mr. Danforth, significantly.
"Sir!" exclaimed Dawkins, in astonishment and dismay.
His employer bent a searching glance upon
him as he asked, sternly, "where did you obtain
the money which you paid away last evening?"
"I--don't--understand--you, sir," gasped
Dawkins, who understood only too well.
"You met a man at the door of a low tavern
in--Street, last evening, to whom you paid
one hundred and fifty dollars, precisely the
sum which I lost yesterday."
"Who has been slandering me, sir?" asked
Dawkins, very pale.
"An eye-witness of the meeting, who heard
the conversation between you. If you want
more satisfactory proof, here it is."
Mr. Danforth took from his pocket-book the
torn fragments of the note which Dawkins had
given to Duval.
"Here is an obligation to pay a certain
Duval the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars.
It bears your signature. How you could have
incurred such a debt to him you best know."
Dawkins maintained a sullen silence.
"I suppose you wish me to leave your employment,"
he said at length.
"You are right. Hold," he added, as Dawkins
was about leaving the room, "a word more.
It is only just that you should make a
restitution of the sum which you have taken.
If you belonged to a poor family and there
were extenuating circumstances, I might
forego my claim. But your father is abundantly
able to make good the loss, and I shall
require you to lay the matter before him
without loss of time. In consideration
of your youth, I shall not bring the matter before
the public tribunals, as I have a right to do."
Dawkins turned pale at this allusion, and
muttering some words to the effect that he
would do what he could, left the counting-room.
This threat proved not to be without its effect.
The next day he came to Mr. Danforth and brought
the sum for which he had become responsible.
He had represented to his father that he had
had his pocket picked of this sum belonging
to Mr. Danforth, and in that manner obtained
an equal amount to replace it. It was some time
before Mr. Dawkins learned the truth. Then came
a storm of reproaches in which all the bitterness
of his father's nature was fully exhibited.
There had never been much love between father and son.
Henceforth there was open hatred.
We must return to Paul, whom we left in much trouble.
It was a sad walk which he took homeward
on the morning of his dismissal.
"What brings you home so early?" asked Mrs. Cameron,
looking up from her baking, as Paul entered.
Paul tried to explain, but tears came to his eyes,
and sobs choked his utterance.
"Are you sick, Paul?" exclaimed Mrs. Cameron, in alarm.
"No, Aunt Hester."
"Then what is the matter?" she asked anxiously.
"I have lost my place."
"Poor boy! I am very sorry to hear it.
But it might have been worse."
"No, not very well, Aunt Hester, for Mr. Danforth
thinks I have taken some of his money."
"He is very unjust!" exclaimed Aunt Hester,
indignantly, "he ought to have known better
than to think you would steal."
"Why, no," said Paul, candidly, "I must
confess the evidence was against me, and he
doesn't know me as well as you do, Aunt Hester."
"Tell me all about it, Paul."
Aunt Hester sat down and listened
attentively to our hero's story.
"How do you account for the money being
found in your pocket?" she asked at length.
"I think it must have been put there by
some one else."
"Have you any suspicions?"
"Yes," said Paul, a little reluctantly,
"but I don't know whether I ought to have.
I may be wronging an innocent person."
"At any rate it won't do any harm to tell me."
"You've heard me speak of George Dawkins?"
"I can't help thinking that he put the fifty
dollars into my pocket, and took the rest himself."
"How very wicked he must be!" exclaimed
Mrs. Cameron, indignantly.
"Don't judge him too hastily; Aunt Hester,
he may not be guilty, and I know from my
own experience how hard it is to be accused
when you are innocent."
Soon after the sexton came in, and Paul of
course, told his story over again.
"Never mind, Paul," said Uncle Hugh, cheerily.
"You know your own innocence; that is the main thing.
It's a great thing to have a clear conscience."
"But I liked Mr. Danforth and I think he liked me.
It's hard to feel that he and Mrs. Danforth
will both think me guilty, especially after
the kindness which I have experienced from them."
"We all have our crosses, my boy,--some
light and others heavy. Yours, I admit is a
heavy one for a boy to bear. But when men
are unjust there is One above who will deal
justly with us. You have not forgotten him."
"No, Uncle Hugh," said Paul, reverently.
"Trust in him, Paul, and all will come out
right at last. He can prove your innocence,
and you may be sure he will, in his own good time.
Only be patient, Paul."
"I will try to be, Uncle Hugh."
The simple, hearty trust in God, which the
sexton manifested, was not lost upon Paul.
Sustained by his own consciousness of innocence,
and the confidence reposed in him by
those who knew him best, his mind soon
regained its cheerful tone. He felt an inward
conviction that God would vindicate his innocence.
His vindication came sooner than he anticipated.
The next day as the sexton's family were
seated at their plain dinner, a knock was heard
upon the outer door.
"Sit still, Hester," said Mr. Cameron.
"I will go to the door."
Opening the door he recognized Mr. Danforth,
who attended the same church.
"Mr. Cameron, I believe," said Mr. Danforth, pleasantly.
"Yes, sir."
"May I come in? I am here on a little business."
"Certainly, Mr. Danforth. Excuse my not inviting you before;
but in my surprise at seeing you, I forgot my politeness."
The sexton led the way into the plain sitting-room.
"I believe Paul Prescott is an inmate of your family."
"Yes, sir. I am sorry----"
"I know what you would say, sir; but it is needless.
May I see Paul a moment?"
Paul was surprised at the summons, and still more
surprised at finding who it was that wished to see him.
He entered the room slowly, uncertain how
to accost Mr. Danforth. His employer solved
the doubt in his mind by advancing cordially,
and taking his hand.
"Paul," he said pleasantly, "I have come
here to ask your forgiveness for an injustice,
and to beg you to resume your place in my
"Have you found out who took the money, sir?"
asked Paul, eagerly.
"Who was it, sir?"
"It was Dawkins."
Mr. Danforth explained how he had become
acquainted with the real thief. In conclusion,
he said, "I shall expect you back to-morrow
morning, Paul."
"Thank you, sir."
"Dawkins of course leaves my employ. You
will take his place, and receive his salary,
seven dollars a week instead of five. Have you
any friend whom you would like to have in
your own place?"
Paul reflected a moment and finally named a
schoolmate of his, the son of poor parents,
whom he knew to be anxiously seeking a situation,
but without influential friends to help him.
"I will take him on your recommendation,"
said Mr. Danforth, promptly. "Can you see
him this afternoon?"
"Yes, sir," said Paul.
The next day Paul resumed his place in Mr.
Danforth's counting-room.
Two years passed, unmarked by any
incident of importance. Paul continued in Mr.
Danforth's employment, giving, if possible,
increased satisfaction. He was not only faithful,
but exhibited a rare aptitude for business,
which made his services of great value to
his employer. From time to time Mr. Danforth
increased his salary, so that, though only
nineteen, he was now receiving twelve dollars
per week, with the prospect of a speedy
increase. But with his increasing salary, he did
not increase his expenses. He continued as
economical as ever. He had not forgotten his
father's dying injunction. He remained true
to the charge which he had taken upon himself,
that of redeeming his father's memory from
reproach. This, at times subjected him to the
imputation of meanness, but for this he cared
little. He would not swerve from the line of
duty which he had marked out.
One evening as he was walking down Broadway
with an acquaintance, Edward Hastings,
who was employed in a counting-room near
him, they paused before a transparency in
front of a hall brilliantly lighted.
"The Hutchinsons are going to sing to-night, Paul,"
said Hastings. "Did you ever hear them?"
"No; but I have often wished to."
"Then suppose we go in."
"No, I believe not."
"Why not. Paul? It seems to me you never go anywhere.
You ought to amuse yourself now and then."
"Some other time I will,--not now."
"You are not required to be at home in the evening,
are you?"
"Then why not come in now? It's only twenty-five cents."
"To tell the truth, Ned, I am saving up my
money for a particular purpose; and until that
is accomplished, I avoid all unnecessary expense."
"Going to invest in a house in Fifth Avenue?
When you do, I'll call. However, never mind the expense.
I'll pay you in."
"I'm much obliged to you, Ned, but I can't. accept."
"Why not?"
"Because at present I can't afford to return the favor."
"Never mind that."
"But I do mind it. By-and-by I shall feel more free.
Good-night, if you are going in."
"Good-night, Paul."
"He's a strange fellow," mused Hastings.
"It's impossible to think him mean, and yet,
it looks a great deal like it. He spends nothing
for dress or amusements. I do believe that
I've had three coats since he's been wearing
that old brown one. Yet, he always looks neat.
I wonder what he's saving up his money for."
Meanwhile Paul went home.
The sexton and his wife looked the same
as ever. Paul sometimes fancied that Uncle
Hugh stooped a little more than he used to do;
but his life moved on so placidly and evenly,
that he grew old but slowly. Aunt Hester was
the same good, kind, benevolent friend that she
had always been. No mother could have been
more devoted to Paul. He felt that he had
much to be grateful for, in his chance meeting
with this worthy couple.
It was the first of January,--a clear, cold day.
A pleasant fire burned in the little stove.
Mr. Cameron sat at one side, reading the evening
paper; Mrs. Cameron at the other, knitting
a stocking for Paul. A large, comfortablelooking
cat was dozing tranquilly on the
hearth-rug. Paul, who had been seated at the
table, rose and lighted a candle.
"Where are you going, Paul?" asked Aunt Hester.
"Up-stairs for a moment."
Paul speedily returned, bearing in his hand
a small blue bank-book, with his name on the cover.
He took out his pencil and figured a few minutes.
"Uncle Hugh," said he, looking up, "when
I get a hundred dollars more, I shall have
enough to pay father's debt."
"Principal and interest?"
"Yes, principal and interest; reckoning the
interest for a year to come."
"I did not suppose you had so much money, Paul.
You must have been very economical."
"Yes, Uncle Hugh more so than I have wanted to be,
oftentimes; but whenever I have been tempted to spend
a cent unnecessarily, I have always called to mind
my promise made to father on his deathbed,
and I have denied myself."
"You have done well, Paul. There are few who would
have had the resolution to do as you have."
"Oh yes, Uncle Hugh," said Paul, modestly,
"I think there are a great many. I begin to
feel repaid already. In a few months I shall
be able to pay up the whole debt."
At this moment a knock was heard at the door.
Mr. Cameron answered the summons.
"Does Mr. Paul Prescott live here?" inquired a boy.
"Yes. Do you want to see him?"
"Here is a letter for him. There is no answer."
The messenger departed, leaving the letter
in Mr. Cameron's hand.
Somewhat surprised, he returned to the
sitting-room and handed it to Paul.
Paul opened it hastily, and discovered
inclosed, a bank-note for one hundred dollars.
It was accompanied with a note from his employer,
stating that it was intended as a New Year's gift,
but in the hurry of business, he had forgotten
to give it to him during the day.
Paul's face lighted up with joy.
"Oh, Uncle Hugh!" he exclaimed, almost
breathless with delight. "Don't you see that
this will enable me to pay my debt at once?"
"So it will, Paul. I wish you joy."
"And my father's memory will be vindicated,"
said Paul, in a tone of deep satisfaction.
"If he could only have lived to see this day!"
A fortnight later, Paul obtained permission
from his employer to be absent from the office
for a week. It was his purpose to visit Cedarville
and repay 'Squire Conant the debt due him:
and then, to go across the country to Wrenville,
thirty miles distant, to see Aunt Lucy Lee.
First, however, he ordered a new suit of a tailor,
feeling a desire to appear to the best advantage
on his return to the scene of his former humiliation.
I must not omit to say that Paul was now a fine-looking
young fellow of nineteen, with a frank, manly face,
that won favor wherever he went.
In due course of time, he arrived at Cedarville,
and found his way without difficulty to
the house of 'Squire Conant.
It was a large house, rather imposing in its exterior,
being quite the finest residence in the village.
Paul went up the walk, and rang the bell.
"Can I see 'Squire Conant?" he asked of
the servant who answered the bell.
"You'll find him in that room," said the girl,
pointing to a door on the left hand of the hall.
"As he doesn't know me, perhaps you had
better go before."
The door was opened, and Paul found himself
in the presence of his father's creditor.
'Squire Conant was looking pale and thin. He
was just recovering from a severe sickness.
"I presume you don't recognize me, sir," said Paul.
"Did I ever see you before?"
"Yes, sir; my name is Paul Prescott."
"Not the son of John Prescott?"
"The same, sir. I believe my father died in your debt."
"Yes. I lent him five hundred dollars, which he never repaid."
"He tried to do so, sir. He had saved up a hundred and fifty
dollars towards it, but sickness came upon him, and he was
obliged to use it."
'Squire Conant's temper had been subdued
by the long and dangerous illness through
which he had passed. It had made him set a
smaller value on his earthly possessions,
from which he might be separated at any moment.
When he answered Paul, it was in a manner
which our hero did not expect.
"Never mind. I can afford to lose it. I
have no doubt he did what he could."
"But I have come to pay it, sir," said Paul.
"You!" exclaimed 'Squire Conant,
in the greatest astonishment.
"Yes, sir."
"Where did you get the money?"
"I earned it, sir."
"But you are very young. How could you
have earned so much?"
Paul frankly told the story of his struggles;
how for years he had practised a pinching economy,
in order to redeem his father's memory from reproach.
'Squire Conant listened attentively.
"You are a good boy," he said, at length.
"Shall you have anything left after paying this money?"
"No, sir; but I shall soon earn more."
"Still, you ought to have something to begin
the world with. You shall pay me half the
money, and I will cancel the note."
"But, sir,----"
"Not a word. I am satisfied, and that is enough.
If I hadn't lent your father the money,
I might have invested it with the rest, and lost all."
'Squire Conant produced the note from a
little trunk of papers, and handed it to Paul,
who paid him the amount which he had stipulated,
expressing at the same time his gratitude
for his unexpected generosity.
"Never mind about thanks, my boy," said
'Squire Conant: "I am afraid I have loved
money too well heretofore. I hope I am not
too old to turn over a new leaf."
While 'Squire Conant was speaking, Paul formed
a sudden resolution. He remembered that Aunt
Lucy Lee was a sister of 'Squire Conant. Perhaps,
in his present frame of mind, it might be possible
to induce him to do something for her.
"I believe I am acquainted with a sister of yours,
'Squire Conant," he commenced.
"Ha!" exclaimed the 'Squire.
"Mrs. Lucy Lee."
"Yes," was the slow reply; "she is my sister.
Where did you meet her?"
"At the Wrenville Poorhouse."
"How long ago?"
"About six years since."
"Is she there, still?"
"Yes, sir. Since I have been in New York,
I have heard from her frequently. I am going
from here to visit her. Have you any message,
sir? I am sure she would be glad to hear from you."
"She shall hear from me," said the 'Squire
in a low voice. "Sit down, and I will write
her a letter which, I hope, will not prove unwelcome."
Five minutes afterwards he handed Paul an open letter.
"You may read it," he said, abruptly.
"You have been a better friend to my sister than I.
You shall witness my late reparation."
The letter was as follows:----
I hope you will forgive me for my long neglect.
It is not fitting that while I am possessed of abundant means
you should longer remain the tenant of an almshouse.
I send you by the bearer of this note, Paul Prescott,
who, I understand, is a friend of yours, the sum
of three hundred dollars. The same sum will be sent
you annually. I hope it will be sufficient to maintain you
comfortably. I shall endeavor to call upon you soon,
and meanwhile remain, Your affectionate brother
Paul read this letter with grateful joy. It
seemed almost to good to be true. Aunt Lucy
would be released from the petty tyranny of
Mrs. Mudge's household, and perhaps--he felt
almost sure Aunt Hester would be willing to
receive her as a boarder, thus insuring her a
peaceful and happy home in her declining years.
"Oh, sir," said he, seizing 'Squire Conant's hand,
"you cannot tell how happy you have made me."
"It is what I ought to have done before.
Here is the money referred to in the letter,--
three hundred dollars,--mind you don't lose it."
"I will take every care, sir."
"You may tell my sister that I shall be
happy to have her write me."
"I will, sir."
Paul left 'Squire Conant's house, feeling
that he had great cause for joy. The 'Squire's
refusal to receive more than half the debt,
left him master of over three hundred dollars.
But I am not sure whether he did not rejoice
even more over the good fortune which had
come to Aunt Lucy Lee, whose kindness to him,
in his unfriended boyhood, he would ever hold
in grateful remembrance. He enjoyed in
anticipation the joy which he knew Aunt Lucy
would feel when the change in her fortunes was
communicated to her. He knew also how great
would be the chagrin of Mr. and Mrs. Mudge,
when they found that the meek old lady whom
they hated was about to be rescued from their
clutches. On the whole, Paul felt that this was
the happiest day of his life. It was a satisfaction
to feel that the good fortune of his early
friend was all due to his own intercession.
He was able to take the cars to a point four
miles distant from Wrenville. On getting out
on the platform he inquired whether there was
a livery stable near by. He was directed to
one but a few rods distant. Entering he asked,
"Can you let me have a horse and chaise to go
to Wrenville?"
"Yes, sir," said the groom.
"Let me have the best horse in the stable,"
said Paul, "and charge me accordingly."
"Yes, sir," said the groom, respectfully,
judging from Paul's dress and tone that he was
a young gentleman of fortune.
A spirited animal was brought out, and Paul
was soon seated in the chaise driving along the
Wrenville road. Paul's city friends would
hardly have recognized their economical
acquaintance in the well-dressed young man who
now sat behind a fast horse, putting him
through his best paces. It might have been a
weakness in Paul, but he remembered the manner
in which he left Wrenville, an unfriended boy,
compelled to fly from persecution under
the cover of darkness, and he felt a certain
pride in showing the Mudges that his circumstances
were now entirely changed. It was over this very road
that he had walked with his little bundle,
in the early morning, six years before.
It seemed to him almost like a dream.
At length he reached Wrenville. Though he
had not been there for six years, he recognized
the places that had once been familiar to him.
But everything seemed to have dwindled.
Accustomed to large city warehouses,
the houses in the village seemed very diminutive.
Even 'Squire Benjamin Newcome's house, which he
had once regarded as a stately mansion,
now looked like a very ordinary dwelling.
As he rode up the main street of the village,
many eyes were fixed upon him and his carriage,
but no one thought of recognizing, in the
well-dressed youth, the boy who had run away
from the Wrenville Poorhouse.
At the very moment that Paul was driving
through the village street, Mr. Nicholas Mudge
entered the Poorhouse in high spirits. Certainly
ill-fortune must have befallen some one
to make the good man so exhilarant.
To explain, Mr. Mudge had just been to the
village store to purchase some groceries.
One of his parcels was tied up in a stray leaf
of a recent New York Daily, in which he discovered
an item which he felt sure would make Aunt
Lucy unhappy. He communicated it to Mrs.
Mudge, who highly approved his design. She
called the old lady from the common room.
"Here, Aunt Lucy," she said, "is something
that will interest you."
Aunt Lucy came in, wondering a little at
such an unusual mark of attention.
Mrs. Mudge immediately commenced reading
with malicious emphasis a paragraph concerning
a certain Paul Prescott, who had been
arrested for thieving, and sentenced to the
House of Reformation for a term of months.
"There," said Mrs. Mudge, triumphantly,
"what do you say to your favorite now?
Turned out well, hasn't he? Didn't I always
say so? I always knew that boy was bad at heart,
and that he'd come to a bad end."
"I don't believe it's the same boy," declared
Aunt Lucy, who was nevertheless unpleasantly
affected by the paragraph. She thought it
possible that Paul might have yielded to a
powerful temptation.
"Perhaps you think I've been making it up.
If you don't believe it look at the paper for
yourself," thrusting it into Aunt Lucy's hands.
"Yes," said the old lady. "I see that the name
is the same; but, for all that, there is a
mistake somewhere. I do not believe it is
the same boy."
"You don't? Just as if there would be
more than one boy of that name. There may
be other Prescotts, but there isn't but one
Paul Prescott, take my word for it."
"If it is he," said Aunt Lucy, indignantly,
"is it Christianlike to rejoice over the poor
boy's misfortune?"
"Misfortune!" retorted Mrs. Mudge with a
sneer; "you call it a misfortune to steal, then!
I call it a crime."
"It's often misfortune that drives people to
it, though," continued the old lady, looking
keenly at Mrs. Mudge. "I have known cases
where they didn't have that excuse."
Mrs. Mudge colored.
"Go back to your room," said she, sharply;
"and don't stay here accusing me and Mr.
Mudge of unchristian conduct. You're the
most troublesome pauper we have on our
hands; and I do wish the town would provide
for you somewhere else."
"So do I," sighed the old lady to herself,
though she did not think fit to give audible
voice to her thoughts.
It was at this moment that Paul halted his
chaise at the gate, and lightly jumping out,
fastened his horse to a tree, and walked up
to the front door.
"Who can it be?" thought Mrs. Mudge, hastily
adjusting her cap, and taking off her apron.
"I don't know, I'm sure," said Mr. Mudge,
"I declare! I look like a fright."
"No worse than usual," said her husband, gallantly.
By this time Paul had knocked.
Good-morning, sir," said Mrs. Mudge, deferentially,
her respect excited by Paul's dress and handsome chaise.
"Is Mrs. Lee in?" inquired Paul, not caring
to declare himself, yet, to his old enemy.
"Yes," said Mrs. Mudge, obsequiously, though not
overpleased to find that this was Aunt Lucy's
visitor; "would you like to see her?"
"If you please."
"What can he want of the old lady?" thought Mrs. Mudge,
as she went to summon her.
"A visitor for me?" asked Aunt Lucy, looking
at Mrs. Mudge somewhat suspiciously.
"Yes; and as he's come in a carriage, you'd better
slick up a little; put on a clean cap or something."
Aunt Lucy was soon ready.
She looked wonderingly at Paul, not recognizing him.
"You are not very good at remembering your old friends,"
said Paul, with a smile.
"What!" exclaimed Aunt Lucy, her face
lighting up with joy; "are you little Paul?"
"Not very little, now," said our hero, laughing;
"but I'm the same Paul you used to know."
Mrs. Mudge, who through the half open door
had heard this revelation, was overwhelmed with
astonishment and confusion. She hurried to her husband.
"Wonders will never cease!" she exclaimed,
holding up both hands. "If that doesn't turn out
to be Paul Prescott. Of course he's up in the world,
or he wouldn't dress so well, and ride in such
a handsome carriage."
"You don't say so!" returned Mr. Mudge, who
looked as if he had heard of a heavy misfortune.
"Yes, I do; I heard him say so with his own lips.
It's a pity you showed that paragraph to Aunt Lucy,
this morning."
"That you showed, you mean," retorted her husband.
"No, I don't. You know it was you that did it."
"Hush; they'll hear."
Meanwhile the two friends were conversing together happily.
"I'm so glad you're doing so well, Paul," said Aunt Lucy.
"It was a lucky day when you left the Poorhouse behind you."
"Yes, Aunt Lucy, and to-day is a lucky day for you.
There's room for two in that chaise, and I'm going
to take you away with me."
"I should enjoy a ride, Paul. It's a long time
since I have taken one."
"You don't understand me. You're going away
not to return."
The old lady smiled sadly.
"No, no, Paul. I can't consent to become a burden
upon your generosity. You can't afford it,
and it will not be right."
"O," said Paul, smiling, "you give me credit for
too much. I mean that you shall pay your board."
"But you know I have no money."
"No, I don't. I don't consider that a lady is penniless,
who has an income of three hundred dollars a year."
"I don't understand you, Paul."
"Then, perhaps you will understand this," said
our hero, enjoying the old lady's astonishment.
He drew from his pocket a roll of bills, and passed
them to Aunt Lucy.
The old lady looked so bewildered, that he lost
no time in explaining the matter to her. Then,
indeed, Aunt Lucy was happy; not only because she
had become suddenly independent, but, because
after years of coldness and estrangement, her
brother had at last become reconciled to her.
"Now, Aunt Lucy," resumed Paul, "I'll tell you
what my plans are. You shall get into the chaise
with me, and go at once to New York. I think
Aunt Hester will be willing to receive you as a boarder;
if not, I will find you a pleasant place near by.
Will that suit you?"
"It will make me very happy; but I cannot realize it.
It seems like a dream."
At this moment Mrs. Mudge entered the room, and,
after a moment's scrutiny, pretended to recognize Paul.
Her husband followed close behind her.
"Can I believe my eyes?" she exclaimed.
"Is this indeed Paul Prescott?
I am very glad to see you back."
"Only a visit, Mrs. Mudge," said Paul, smiling.
"You'll stop to dinner, I hope?"
Paul thought of the soup and dry bread which he
used to find so uninviting, and said that he should
not have time to do so.
"We've thought of you often," said Mr. Mudge,
writhing his harsh features into a smile. "There's
scarcely a day that we haven't spoken of you."
"I ought to feel grateful for your remembrance,"
said Paul, his eyes twinkling with mirth. "But I
don't think, Mr. Mudge, you always thought so much of me."
Mr. Mudge coughed in some embarrassment, and not
thinking of anything in particular to say, said nothing.
"I am going to take from you another of your boarders,"
said Paul. "Can you spare Aunt Lucy?"
"For how long?" asked Mrs. Mudge.
"For all the time. She has just come into
possession of a little property,--several hundred
dollars a year,--and I have persuaded her to go to
New York to board."
"Is this true?" exclaimed Mrs. Mudge in astonishment.
"Yes," said the old lady, "God has been bountiful to me
when I least expected it."
"Can I be of any service in assisting you to pack up, Mrs.
Lee?" asked Mrs. Mudge, with new-born politeness. She felt
that as a lady of property, Aunt Lucy was entitled to much
greater respect and deference than before.
"Thank you, Mrs. Mudge," said Paul, answering for her.
"She won't have occasion for anything in this house.
She will get a supply of new things when she gets to New York.
The old lady looked very happy, and Mrs. Mudge, in spite of
her outward deference, felt thoroughly provoked at her good fortune.
I will not dwell upon the journey to New York. Aunt Lucy,
though somewhat fatigued, bore it much better than she had
anticipated. Mr. and Mrs. Cameron entered very heartily into
Paul's plans, and readily agreed to receive Aunt Lucy as an
inmate of their happy and united household. The old lady felt
it to be a happy and blessed change from the Poorhouse, where
scanty food and poor accommodations had been made harder
to bear by the ill temper of Mr. and Mrs. Mudge, to a home
whose atmosphere was peace and kindness.
And now, dear reader, it behooves us to draw together the
different threads of our story, and bring all to a satisfactory
Mr. and Mrs. Mudge are no longer in charge of the Wrenville
Poorhouse. After Aunt Lucy's departure, Mrs. Mudge became
so morose and despotic, that her rule became intolerable.
Loud complaints came to the ears of 'Squire Newcome, Chairman
of the Overseers of the Poor. One fine morning he was compelled
to ride over and give the interesting couple warning to leave
immediately. Mr. Mudge undertook the charge of a farm, but
his habits of intoxication increased upon him to such an extent,
that he was found dead one winter night, in a snow-drift,
between his own house and the tavern. Mrs. Mudge was not
extravagant in her expressions of grief, not having a very strong
affection for her husband. At last accounts, she was keeping
a boarding-house in a manufacturing town. Some time since,
her boarders held an indignation meeting, and threatened to
leave in a body unless she improved her fare,--a course to
which she was obliged to submit.
George Dawkins, unable to obtain a recommendation from
Mr. Danforth, did not succeed in securing another place in
New York. He finally prevailed upon his father to advance him
a sum of money, with which he went to California. Let us hope
that he may "turn over a new leaf" there, and establish a
better reputation than he did in New York.
Mr. Stubbs is still in the tin business. He is as happy as the
day is long, and so are his wife and children. Once a year he
comes to New York and pays Paul a visit. This supplies him
with something to talk about for the rest of the year. He is
frugal in his expenses, and is able to lay up a couple of hundred
dollars every year, which he confides to Paul, in whose financial
skill he has the utmost confidence.
I am sure my boy readers would not forgive me for omitting
to tell them something more about Ben Newcome. Although
his mirthful spirit sometimes led him into mischief, he was
good-hearted, and I have known him do many an act of kindness,
even at considerable trouble to himself. It will be
remembered that in consequence of his night adventure, during
which he personated a ghost, much to the terror of Mr. Mudge
his father determined to send him to a military school. This
proved to be a wise arrangement. The discipline was such as
Ben needed, and he soon distinguished himself by his excellence
in the military drill. Soon after he graduated, the Rebellion
broke out, and Ben was at once, in spite of his youth, elected
Captain of the Wrenville company. At the battle of Antiatam
he acquitted himself with so much credit that he was promoted
to a major. He was again promoted, and when Richmond was
evacuated, he was one of the first officers to enter the streets
of the Rebel capital, a colonel in command of his regiment. I
have heard on high authority, that he is considered one of the
best officers in the service.
Mr. and Mrs. Cameron are still living. They are happy in
the success and increasing prosperity of Paul, whom they regard
as a son. Between them and Aunt Lucy he would stand
a very fair chance of being spoiled, if his own good sense and
good judgment were not sufficient to save him from such a
misfortune. Paul is now admitted to a small interest in the
firm, which entitles him to a share in the profits. As Danforth
and Co. have done a very extensive business of late years, this
interest brings him in a very handsome income. There is only
one cause of difference between him and the sexton. He insists
that Uncle Hugh, who is getting infirm, should resign his office,
as he is abundantly able to support the whole family. But the
good sexton loves his duties, and will continue to discharge
them as long as he is able.
And now we must bid farewell to Paul. He has battled
bravely with the difficulties and discouragements that beset
him in early life, he has been faithful to the charge which he
voluntarily assumed, and his father's memory is free from
reproach. He often wishes that his father could have lived to
witness his prosperity? but God has decreed it otherwise.
Happy in the love of friends, and in the enjoyment of all that
can make life desirable, so far as external circumstances have
that power, let us all wish him God speed!

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