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BEN HOWARDORTRUTH AND HONESTYBYCHARLOTTE ADAMSAUTHOR OF"EEDGAR CLIFTON," "BOYS AT HOME," "MATILDA LONSDAL:"ETC. ETC.LONDONGEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONSBROADWAY, LUDGATE HILLNEW YORK : 9 LAFAYETTE PLACE
SHILLING JUVENILE BOOKSTHE COUSINS. By Miss M'INTOSHEMILY HERBERT. By Miss M'INTOSHA VISIT TO MY BIRTHPLACE. By Miss BUYBURYMAGGIE & EMMA. By Miss M'INTOSHMADELINE. By JACOB ABBOTT..MARY ERSKINE, By JACOB ABBOTT.MARY BELL. By JACOB ABBOTT.AUNT MADDY'S DIAMONDS. By HARRIET MYRTLE
OONTENT8.CHAPTER I.PageTheknives ................................... 7CHAPTER II.Character and employment of Ben Howard.-His visitto Mrs. Benson ............................ 14CHAPTER III.The market-town.-The cutler's shop.-An imperti-nent acquaintance.-Temptation 22CHAPTER IV.The robbery.-Purchase of a knife. -An ill-gottentreat.-Unpleasant interruption ................ 31CHAPTER V.The chair-mender and his family.-Ben guides themto his father's house.-The " King's Hlead."-Pri-vation.-Ben fears a discovery.-A welcome guest.-Joseph the Pedlar................ ...... 43
CONTENTS.CH APTER VI.PagThe Pedlar's tale.-Ben's terror and remorse.-Ilisconfession .................. ... ............CHAPTER VII.Susan, the little maidof the inn.-The silver thimble.-Walk to M- .-Conversation by the way be-tween Joseph and Ben.-Joseph sets Ben to work,that he may make some reparation for his bad con-duct......................... ..... .... 9CHAPTER VIII.Winter.-The wager.-Dismay.-Malancholy event... 80CHAPTER IX.Ben's labour destroyed.-Passion.-Regret. Plea-sant party round a Christmas fire.-Joseph's pre-sents.-Obstinacy.- -Repentance.-The Pedlar's de-parture ...... ........................CHAPTER X.Ben fights in defence of a little girl's rights.-Self.denial.-Distress of the chair-mender and his family.-Ben's kindness towards them.-Improvement ofhis character ..........................., 0?CHAPTER XI.The new jail.-The funeral. -Jones and the brick-layer.--Never too young te do N\hat is right ...... 115
CONTENTS.CHAPTER XII.PageBen visits his former play-fellow, Tom Jones, in pri.son.-Awful impressions.-Cheerful performance ofduty... .................................... 125CHAPTER XIII.The task completed.- Susan's pleasant news.-TheSquire's gift.-Ben and Susan's debate over a tur.key.-Joseph persuades Howard to let his son go toschool .................. ................... 1 1CHAPTER XIV.The Pedlar and his sister ....................... 141CHAPTER XV.Ben's birth-day.-Useful presents.-Susan's errands.-Ben's care for his mother.-A feast.-Ben's guests. 148CHAPTER XVI.The chair-mende's narrative.-His adventures in Ame-rica.-His return to England, and dangerous illness.-Ben's good conduct.-His modesty on its beingdiscovered .. .............................. 15CHAPTER XVIh.Conlusion .................................. 10
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BEN HOWARD.CHAPTER 1.THE KNIVES."How sharp your knife is! how well it doescut!" said Ben Howard to T6m Jones, as hestood watching the ease and quickness withwhich his companion trimmed off the small twigsfrom a bough which he held in his hand." It is sharp, indeed; it is a famous -nife!"replied Tom Jones: "'look, I can cut off the topof this stick at one stroke; there! and thereagain !" exclaimed he, as he repeated the feat." What would you not give to have a knife ?""I have one," said Ben, " and a good one tis too."
6 HtEN HOWARD." Tou do not mean that trumpery thing, doyou?" asked Tom, as he cast a contemptuousglance at the kilife that Ben now drew from hispocket. "Why it could not have cost more thansixpence, at the utmost."" Cost what it might," rejoined Ban, somewhatnettled at his friend's manner, "it is a good one,and very sharp too; and I will be bound thatI cut that stick in two at once.""Try then," said Tom.Ben tried, and used all his force ; but in vain:he only made a notch in the stick. He triedagain and again, but with no better success." It won't do, man; the knifi is a bad one,"said Tom; " here, look how mine cuts !"" But you are older and stronger than I am,"said Ben; " that is the reason you cut that stickat once.""Well then, here, try it yourself; give meyour knife, anL take mine. Now these twobough: are the same size: come, cut away."Ben did so, and divided his stick at once; but'iuo, with his superior force, made bVil a smallimpression with Ben's knife.
BEN HOWARD."What do you think, now?" said Tom, ex-ultingly; "and see, use your eyes; look at thefinish of the two! see how smooth and brightmine is! but yours," continued he, passing hisfinger down the back of the handle, "is as roughas a file."After this, there could no longer be any dis-pute as to the worthlessness of Ben's knife; andsuffering his blunt and. despised tool to slip,rather than putting it into his pocket, he stoodsilently regarding, with envious eyes, his morefortunate companion, as he still continued proudlyto exhibit his prize. At length he exclaimed," I wonder where you got that knife. Did yourfather give it you? or did you buy it? or didyou find it ? Can't you speak, Tom ? tell me,where did you get it.""You don't suppose," replied Tom, "that Iam going to tell you my secrets, do you ?"" A secret is it ?" repeated Ben. "Come, youmay as well just tell me; besides, I dare saythat it is no secret at all.""No, no, I can't tell you; besides, I mustgo now."
10 BS HOWARD."Not this very moment," said Ben, layinghold of his companion's arm to detain him."Stop one moment longer; do tell me whereyou got that knife. Could I get one too ? Say,did your father give it you ? Now, do pray tellme; at any rate, let me know what it cost; wasit more than a shilling ?""A shilling!" exclaimed Tom, sneeringly."Well then, two," said Ben." Two! ay, more than twice two.""Indeed! more than four shillings How didyou come by it ? Now, tell me, was it yourfather, or your uncle who gave it you, cr didyou buy it ?""Poh, poh!" interrupted Tom, "leave offguessing. It was neither father, nor uncle, noraunt, nor buying, nor finding, that gave it me.I got that knifa by my own cleverness; and,"added he, with what he thought a most knowingwink of the eye, "there are other and betterways that a lad of spirit has of getting whathe wants, than by buying or finding, or by giftseither." So saying, he cocked his bat on oneside, and marched off, singing-
BE HOWARD. 11" A lad of spirit's the lad for me,"while Ben remained standing on the same spot,lost in thought. He felt the greatest desire tobe possessed of a knife like Tom's, that wouldcut sticks-large sticks; or, in short, any thingthat he liked. Then, how delightful it would beto show it to the boys he played with-to havethem praise and admire it, and long to havesuch a one, and then quietly to draw it out ofhis pocket, and begin using it before Tom Jones,and to see how surprised he would look, and tofeel that he could now no longer triumph overhim, nor call his property a trumpery, sixpennything. But how to get the knife was the diffi-culty-how would that be possible? His father,even if he had the inclination, had not the powerof giving him so expensive a present, and heknew no one else who would be at all likelyto bestow such a gift upon him. He then beganconjecturing how Tom had procured his. Tom'sfather was not richer than his, and he felt almostcertain that he had not bought it himself. Whatcould he mean by "the best ways a lad of spirit
12 BBN HOWABD.has of obtaining what he wanted"? And then,that odd look, what could that mean? He con-sidered a long while, and then the thoughtstruck him, whether these ways could be honestways-he was almost tempted to think notHe recollected often having seen" Tom with avariety of expensive playthings; and he had newballs, new tops, and new marbles oftener thanany of the other boys whom he knew; and henow remembered, that Master Jones, Tom'sfather, often worked as a carpenter, at a largetoy-shop at M- and that his son was inthe habit of carrying him his dinner theregenerally every day. Perhaps Mr. Harris hadgiven him the knife; but then, why should hebe unwilling to say so? He was quite perplexed;and so lost was he in thought, that, althoughhe was standing nearly opposite his own house,he never heard his father, who had come outat the door, and called to him several times."Ben, where are you? Ben, can't you hear?"At last, Ben started and turned round. "Comenere, you idle boy; are you deaf? why don'tyou come ? Don't you see that customers are
MEN HOWABD. 13gone into the house? Here, get along; takethese mugs and draw some beer, and carry somepipes and tobacco to the men in the tap."Ben ran up, and looking in his father's face,saw that he was not so angry as his wordsappeared to denote, and taking the mugs, has-tened into the house to do what he was desired.
14 BEN TOWARD.CHAPTER ILCharacter and employment of Ben Howard.-His visit toMrs. Benson.WmTT.TTA HOWAD, Ben's father, kept the King'sHead, a small public house, that stood in the crossroad that led from the village of Whitley to thelarge market-town of M--. He was a manof indolent habits, subject to occasional fits ofpassion; but, generally speaking, easy and good-natured. He sold good, wholesome beer, and ashis manners were cheerful and pleasant towardshis customers, and as he was always ready to joinin a drinking bout, his house was a good deal fre-quented; but his profits were not what theymight have been, had he attended more closely tobusiness. At every merry-making in the neigh-bouring villages William Howard was sure to be
BEN HOWARD. 15found; he frequented all the fairs in the countryround about, and in a summer's afternoon he wassure to be seen standing by the hour together,watching a game at quoits, or nine-pins; buttoo lazy to join in such robust exercise himself.In the mean time, the care of the house was leftto his wife, (who, poor woman, had been confinedto her bed, or arm-chair, up stairs, for severalyears, having almost lost the use of one side by astroke of the palsy), to Ben, and to Susan, a littleparish girl, who was kept by way of servant.Ben was an only son; he was a clever, active boy,of a good natural disposition, but as his educationwas very much neglected, his good qualities werenot sufficiently called forth, and his bad ones weresuffered to increase without being much checked.His business was to wait upon the customersthat came to the house, and to go on errands forthe family, and in any way to make himself use-ful. As he had cheerful, pleasant manners, oftenperformed droll tricks, and had a number of oddsayings, he was a general favourite with theguests. He was quick and handy in preparingrefreshments that were called for, and brought
;6 BEN HOWARD."!hem forward with obliging readiness. Ben hadbeen accustomed, from the time he was a verylittle boy, to pass many hours every day in thetap room; and often, when the men sat drinkingthere, they would call the little fellow to them,take him on their knees, and, through mistakenkindness, let him take sips of beer, or spirits andwater, from their mugs and glasses.But this was not the only evil which he wasexposed to; he was in the way of hearing muchimproper conversation, and his ears became fa-miliar with profane language, coarse jests, andswearing. It was fortunate for Ben, as regardedboth his mind and body, that his love of exerciseled him to take every opportunity of running outof doors to play, or to ramble over the fields, andas he grew older he got more and more away fromhome.Ben, as is common with many idle people, lovedmischief, and he used most frequently to practisehis troublesome jokes on their little maid. Susanwas the pattern of neatness; and often, when shehad been cleaning the house, Ben would cross therooms with dirty shoes, pretending that he came
BEN HOWARD. 17in great haste for something he wanted; or, whenshe had been fetching a pail of water, he wouldkick it over, as if by accident; and his father.when he saw these feats, though he would some-times say it was too bad, would much oftener givehim a gentle pull by the ear, and call him a wag.But it must be said for Ben, that when Susan,tired out with a repetition of these pranks, wouldsometimes burst into tears, he would be seizedwith a sudden fit of repentance, run up to her,and try to console her, and do all in his power torepair his error and assist her in her work.When Ben had done attending to the customers,his father told him that he must carry a smallcask of ale to a poor woman, who lived about twomiles off, up the road. "She wants to have itto-day," said he: "I saw her last night, andpromised to send it this afternoon. Times," added.he, "I am afraid, don't go so well with the oldlady as they used; for it is a long while since shehad her little keg filled. Here, boy, let me strapthe cask on you, and then set off. Is it too heavyfor you ?"Ben told his father that he could carry it veryB
18 BEN HOWARD.well, and trudged off, his mind so full of theknife, that he actually arrived at neighbour Ben-son's before he was aware that he had got halfway. He opened the little garden-gate, and wentinto the cottage. The good woman was seatedbefore her ironing-board, finishing some linen thatshe was going to carry home; her face was heated,and she looked tired. " A warm afternoon this,"said Ben; " I have brought you something thatwill refresh you."" Thank you, my dear. I am almost sorry tospend my money so; but I have had a great dealof hard work lately, and not felt very strong;and, I believe," added she, with a good-naturedsmile, "that I am not quite so young as I was,when I nursed your father in my arms, fortyyears ago. Sit down and rest yourself, and I wihfetch you the empty keg in a few minutes. Canyou wait, dear, till I have just finished a littleiob here ?"Ben said that he was in no hurry, and satlown; but the room was hot and close, and therewas a strong smell of scorched linen, and Benfound that he soon began to grow tired; and cast-
aBN HOWARD. 19ing his eyes round in search of something toamuse, he discovered a jar of fine white-lookinghcaey,* standing on a table close by him: hesmelt it, and longed to taste it, and when hethought Mrs. Benson's head was turned, so thatshe could not see him, he slyly dipped his fingersin several times and carried them to his mouth."Whether he was observed or not, he could notdetermine; but he felt ashamed when Mrs. Ben-son suddenly rose, and said: "I had almost for-gotten; I have a piece of honey-comb for you; Isaved it on purpose :" and bringing it to him ina saucer, she took up the jar, and put it into acupboard that stood in the corner of the room,and, locking the door, hung the key on a nail bythe mantelpiece. Ben thought the honey delicious,and when he had eaten it, he thanked Mrs. Ben-son, and said that he must go. "Your cask isready for you," replied she; "but I want youjust to step with me into my little garden for aminute. I have got a few fine broccoli plants,"* New honey, in the early part of the summer, is ob-tained by a process called driving bees, which spares thenecessity of burning these ingenious and useful insects.2
20 BEN HOWARD.that I wish to send to your father-here they armin this bed, will you pull them up ? Mind youdo not break their heads off. Now count themout: how many have you ?" Ben counted threescore. "That is right: take them to your father,with my service, and tell him that they are raisedfrom the choice Cape seed that our friend Josephbrought me in the spring."At the name of Joseph, Ben looked up, andanxiously enquired if any thing had been heardlately of Joseph."I heard by accident, a day or two ago, thathe had been very ill.""And is he ill now ?" said Ben."No, he is recovered; and we may expect tosee him going his rounds soon again.""I am glad to hear it," replied Ben, and swing-ing the cask over his shoulder, and putting theplants under his arm, he bade Mrs. Benson goodafternoon, and made the best of his way home.The next morning Howard called his son to assistin setting the plants in the garden; but the workwas not half completed before the father recollectedthat he had somewhere to call, and speak about
SBEN TOWARD. 21a cask of beer, and went off, leaving the work tobe finished by Ben; but no sooner was the fatheroff the premises, than the son too rememberedthat he had to go to the town for some tea, sugar,and tobacco; so sticking the spade into theground, he left the broccoli plants to their fate,and sauntered forth on a much more amusing o-cupation.
22 "m HOWA.D.CHAPTER III.The Market Town.-The Cutler's shop.-An ImpertinentAcquaintance.-Temptation.THERE were few things that Ben liked better thangoing to M- The walk itself was verypleasant, the path lay for some way across somemeadows by the side of a clear running stream,shaded by tall trees; in one part there was a con-siderable rise in the ground, and the water fellover a bank with a soft murmuring noise. Justabove was a narrow foot-bridge, and on this spotBen would loiter away many a half hour, hang-ing over the rude wooden railing, throwing biteof stick or pebbles into the stream; or watchingstraws and leaves gliding down its current; or ingazing at the beautiful blossoms of the water-lily,whose white flowers were spread in abundance
BEN HOWARD. 23over the surface of the water. At the end of themeadows the path led over a small common, onone side of which was a wood, where, in spring,Ben used to look for birds'-nests, and in theautumn, searched among the hazelboughs for nuts.On the far side of the common was a shady greenlane, which led into the high road, where carriagesof all descriptions were constantly passing. -Keeping along this for some little time, Ben tooka short cut across a cricket-ground, that broughthim into a back street of the town. It wasmarket-day at M-- and the shop where heusually made his purchases was so full of people,that he waited some time without being attendedto. Getting tired, he set off to go to anothergrocer's, at a different part of the town. In hisway he passed through one of the principal streets,in which were many large shops filled with differ-ent sorts of goods, all placed for sale in the mosttempting forms. Ben looked and admired, andcrossed over from one side of the street to theother to view the windows, till he came to acutler's shop; here he made a sudden and longstop, and leaning on the edge of the glass cases
24 BEN HOWARD.that projected into the street, looked with delightand envy at the contents within. What rows ofknives and scissors he beheld! How bright andshining they looked! Buckles and clasps of cutsteel, beautifully polished, and a great variety ofother pretty things, all caught his admiring eye.But the knives were what interested him far morethan any thing else; they were of all sorts andsizes-some with two blades, some with four, andone Ben counted with twelve blades besides alittle gimblet, a punch, and a corkscrew. Therewere many among them that resembled TomJones's, and some that were far better and hand-somer. Ben wished that he could handle some,and passed his finger along the glass that separatedthem from his hand; but they were quite shutup from him, and he thought, with a sigh, that heshould never have such a knife as he longed for,At length he raised himself up, turned his headaway, and walked on; but he had not got farwhen he met with fresh temptation in the sightof a pastry-cook's shop. "I must have one ofthose raspberry tarts," said Ben to himself, and hefelt in his pocket for halfpence, but he had none
BEN HOWARD. 25he had only the money that his father had givennim to pay the grocer. He took it out and count-ed it: "I shall have some change out of this,"thought he, " and as I come back I will have thetart. My father will never miss a penny out ofthe change; and if he does-why, I must tellhim that-I mean he will think-that I havelost it. I have taken halfpence before, and nevergot into much difficulty by it."When Ben arrived at the other shop, he foundthat also full of customers; but he waited patiently,for his mind was full of the knives he had justseen. He seated himself on some plum basketsnear the door, and remained lost in thought, till abrisk little man, running into the shop, stumbledover his legs. The pain he gave him made Benstart up; he rubbed his shins, and walked to theother end of the shop, to see if there was any oneleady to serve him; but every body was still en-gaged, and he was obliged to wait, and amusedhimself by looking on at the purchases made byother customers.The little man, from whom he had received thehurl, was very busy, buying a variety of article,
26 BEN HOWARD.and when he was served, the shopman promisedto attend to Ben. When he had got every thingthat he wanted, the same man said to the shop-man: "You tell me that you have no honey:could you not procure me some ? I would willinglygive a good price for some fine honey.""I do not know indeed, sir: it is a very scarcearticle at this time of year; but I will try whatI can do.""Very well; I will call in a day or two andsee."" And now, my little.man," said the shopman,turning to Ben, "what shall I do for you?" Bentold what he wanted, and putting the articles intohis pocket, received the change, and set off to-wards home. But though he held the halfpencein his hand, he passed by the pastry-cook's with-out even recollecting the raspberry tart, so muchwas his mind engaged with a sudden thought thathad just struck him, and he did not stop till hecame again to the cutler's. But here he remainedas before, looking intently at the knives, till hefelt some one give him a smart slap on the shoulder.Ben turned quickly to see who it was, and per-
BEN HOWARD. 27ceived Tom Jones standing behind him laughing;but directly Ben looked round he ran off, saying :" At it still, my boy !"" What a disagreeable jeering way, Tom has,''said Ben to himself: " surely I may look withoutbeing laughed at. I wonder if he saw me all thetime I was standing: perhaps it did look rathersilly; but still his manner need not be so un-pleasant. And though he has such a fine knife, heneed not brag quite so much about it. I must andwill have a good knife too: yes, I am now quiteresolved about it;" and Ben walked on with adetermined step, as though he had made up hismind to some daring project. He hastened homeand went to bed early; but he did not, he couldnot sleep much that night, for his mind was fullof a very wicked scheme-he had determined torob a poor industrious woman, to gratify an idleand extravagant wish. Ever since he suspectedthat Tom Jones had not come honestly by hisknife, he had been considering what he couldpossibly take of his father's and sell, that wouldproduce sufficient money to make the desiredpurchase; but he could think of no thing that
28 PEN ROWALBD.would not be likely to lead to detection: forthough he did not mind doing wrong, he dreadedbeing found out, and receiving the punishmentdue to his crime. It was in the midst of thesemeditations that he heard the man at M--enquiring about honey, and it instantly struckhim, that could he but gain possession of theWidow Benson's little store, he could immediatelysell it, and with the money buy the much-wished-for knife. He lay awake most of the night, form-ing different plans how to steal the pot of honey;and at last he recollected, that on every SaturdayMrs. Benson carried home to the gentlemen'sfamilies that employed her, the linen which shehad to wash. It was on Friday that he was atM---- and the next day was Saturday, and onthat very day he determined to make his wicked.attempt. Many children who read this story,will perhaps here exclaim, that they never couldhave been so wicked.A few months back, Ben would have thoughtso too; and if any body had told him that hewould ever do such a thing, he would have shud-dered, and said that it was impossible.
BEN HOWABD. 2&But Ben had gone on step by step in the pathof guilt, and his conscience had gradually becomedeadened he began by stealing little things.After the first halfpenny had been stolen by him,he was very unhappy for some time, and it was along while before he took another; but after that,he felt less and less every time he committed atheft, till he arrived at the point at which wenow see him.Little children, beware of the beginnings ofcrime; the first thing you take that is not yourown, is often the opening step of a long train ofguilt, which must one day end in sorrow and inshame.But to return to Ben. Although it has beensaid that his conscience was very much deadened,it was not without many most uneasy feelings thathe positively made up his mind to do this wickeddeed. Several times in the course of the night,he was on the point of abandoning his scheme;he was full of doubts and difficulties; and aboveevery thing, he dreaded detection. But still,wrong prevailed over right, for Ben had very littlethe habit of self-government; that is, he very
30 BEN HOWARD.seldom checked his unreasonable wishes; for in-stead of recollecting how much better he was offthan many poor boys, and being grateful for thenumerous blessings he enjoyed, he frequentlywished for things that were not fitted for hisstation, and was uneasy and discontented when hecould not obtain them. Such was the case withregard to the knif
SEI HOWABD. StCHAPTER IVThe robbery.-Purchase of a knife.-An ill-gotten treat.-Unpleasant interruption.As soon as it was light, Ben rose, and havingdressed himself, he went to the window, andopening the casement, looked out upon the morn-ing. The grey dawn was fast disappearing, anda beautiful crimson was spreading over the sky.Soon the glorious sun rose in the east, and dis-persed the mists that rolled along by the side of thestream in the meadows. The birds were singinggaily among the trees, and the peaceful flockswere straying over the green pasture. It wasstill, he thought, too soon to set out; but hefeared being too late. His plan was, to go andhide himself behind a little quick-set hedge thatseparated Mrs. Benson's garden from an adjoining
32 BN HOWARD.field, and then watch for her setting out, a&he knew that she often hid the key of the house-door in some bush or plant in the garden, andif he missed seeing where it was put, he fearedthat he should be obliged to abandon his scheme,for he did not think that he should have eitherthe courage or the power to break into the house.He went down stairs, took a draught of milk,and ate a piece of bread for his breakfast; butnow a new difficulty met him-the door of thehouse was locked, and the key was in his father'sroom. He thought of getting out by the window,but that he could not contrive, and he crept softlyup stairs, and listened outside his parents' room.Every thing was quiet within, and he gently openedthe door and stole in on tiptoe. The key lay on atable opposite the foot of the bed; Ben tookit up, and paused a moment to look at his parents,who were both asleep. His eyes rested on hismother; her thin, pallid face seemed to lie un-easily on her pillow, for the strong beams of themorning sun fell full upon her. Ben steppedgently forward and closed the window-curtain."How sick she looks," said he to himself; and
BEN HOWARL. 33at that moment she drew a heavy sigh. Benfelt that sigh at his heart. " Perhaps," th ughthe, "she is dreaming of me, and is unhappybecause I am not a better boy; she tells mesometimes that she should not mind being illif I was good. Poor mother! what would shefeel if she knew what I was going about now?perhaps I shall be found out, and she will knowit, and then what shame and sorrow I shouldbring upon her. I should not wonder if thegrief she would feel half killed her; how verywrong then it must be in me to go on; yes, Imust-I will give up my wicked scheme. Iwi!l not steal the honey. I will try to forgetthe knife."In the earnestness with which Ben made thisresolution he clasped his hands together; and,forgetting the key, it fell upon the ground. Atthe noise it made, his father turned round. Beninstantly dropped down by the side of the bed,and lay in breathless expectation that his fatherwould speak; but in a minute or two it appearedto him that he again slept; still Ben feared tostand up, and taking up the key, he crawled onC
34 BEN HOWARD.his hands and knees towards the door, which heopened, and crept out, shutting it gently afterhim, and was hastening down stairs, when heheard his father call out, " Who's there ? Ben,Ben! is that you ?" Ben heeded not his father'svoice, but hurried off, and did not stop till hewas safe outside the house. Here he stood sometime, when he ventured to step a little forwardand looked up at the windows; the curtainswere still drawn; he then went cautiously backinto the house, and finding all quiet, he concludedthat his father was still in bed. Ben went outagain-the fresh air raised his spirits, and thesinging of the birds, the bleating of the flocks,and the variety of pleasant morning sounds soonrestored him to cheerfulness. But unfortunately,with Ben's cheerfulness returned his wickedthoughts; no longer in sight of his mother, hisfear of giving her pain was forgotten, and heagain determined to do what, a short time before,he had felt to be very wrong. lie hastened upthe road, and never stopped till he came in sightof Mrs. Benson's cottage; he then slackened hisDace, and looking fearfully around to observe if
SmB HOWARD. 35any one saw him, he placed himself behind thelittle hedge that bordered the garden. He hadnot waited long when the door of the cottageopened, and through a hole in the hedge he sawthe widow come out with a basket of clothesunder her arm, which she placed on the ground,and then stepping back a moment for a bundle,she quickly returned, and locking the door ofthe house, put the key under a tile by the sideof a large double-blossomed stock, and went outat the garden-gate. When she had been goneabout ten minutes, and Ben thought that therewas no chance of her returning, he crept from hishiding-place, and entered the garden. He soon'found the key, and with trembling hand unlockedthe door and went in. He looked round to seeif all was safe; he listened, but heard no soundexcept the ticking of the clock, which stood in acorner of the room, and the purring of the catthat was lying on the hearth. He went directlyup to the cupboard, in which, two days before,he had seen Mrs. Benson place the jar of honey;but the door was locked. Ben looked about inhope of finding the key, and at -last espied it
36 BEN HOWARD.hanging on a nail, wheie he recollected to have seenit placed by the widow. He then took a chair, andgetting up upon it, unlocked the cupboard and dis-covered a china jar tied over with a paper, standingon a shelf just opposite to him; but was it theright ? He drew out his knife, and with eagerhaste cut the string! It was the honey! Hetook down the jar, and tied it up in his handker-chief. He then quitted the cottage, and tookthe shortest road to M- --, where he arrivedwithout meeting with any adventure; but whenhe got into the town, he dreaded lest, in everyperson he met, he should see an acquaintance,for he forgot how early the hour was, and feltsurprised to find the streets so empty. When hereached the shop where he intended to dispose ofthe honey, he found the shutters but just takendown, and no one belonging to the house stirring,except a little sleepy-looking boy, who was sweep-ing the pavement before the door. Ben wentinto the shop, and the boy followed him: " Thereis nobody up, only me," said the boy." Run then, tell the shopman that I must speakwith him directly, on particular business."
BEN HOWARD, Z7"We have two shopmen," replied the boy;"we do a deal of business."" I mean the tallest of the two-the one withred hair; go, and bid him make haste."" It is no use to go yet," said the boy, at thesame time moving slowly off. " Mr. Sprigginswas at the bowling-green supper last night,and he will not be up this hour." The boy soonreturned, and from the length of time Ben waited,he began to think that Mr. Spriggins had not beeninformed of his arrival, and he kept urging theboy to go and tell him again; but he could notget him to stir from behind the counter, wherehe stood leaning on his elbows, with a thumbof each hand in his mouth; neither would he talk,and Ben began to find the time insufferably tedious.When at last the church-bells, one after another,struck eight, and people began to move busilyabout the streets, his patience was quite ex-hausted, and he told the boy, if he would notgo and see if Mr. Spriggins was coming, hemust go. At that moment a side door opened,and Mr. Spriggins, without his coat, and his shoqdown at heel, shuffled into the shop. " Well,i
38 BEN HOWARD.my little man," said he to Ben, "what is thisimportant business upon which you want tosee me ?"" I have brought you some honey," said Ben."Honey!" repeated the shopman; "is thatall?"" I thought," answered Ben, " that you wantedsome very much, so I have brought you some,which I hope you will buy.""Well, honey is a useful article; what do youask a pound for it ?"" I do not know," answered Ben." How many pounds are there ?""I do not know," again replied Ben."You do not know! Why you are a smart lad,truly, to send to market. Is there any thing youdo know ?" continued Mr. Spriggins, with a self-satisfied laugh."I know," said Ben, who began to recollecthimself, and to consider how suspicious such igno-rance must look, " that you must weigh the honey,and give me the usual price."" But suppose I should cheat you, my little con-juror
'EN HOWAKRD. 39" I trusc to your- honesty" Ben woula haveadded, but the word died upon his lips, for he feltthat with honesty he had nothing to do. Theshopman, however, was honest; he told Ben thathe had brought nine pounds, and that he shouldgive him a shilling a pound for it, that being themarket price. At the sight of the money, which theman counted down before him, Ben was half wildwith delight, and eagerly snatching it up, was has-tening out of the shop, when the man called afterhim: " You have forgot your jar, youngster."" Oh! I do not want it," said Ben, hastily."You do not want it! You are vastly generous;and it is a very pretty jar, real China; I have notseen so pretty a one for a long while. But thoughyou do not want it, perhaps your father may:here, take it, and give my service to him, and tellhim, I advise him to sharpen his son's wits a littlebefore he next sends him to market."Ben coloured with confusion, and stooping downto hide his face, he opened his handkerchief onthe ground and tied up the handsome jar; a freshcustomer had arrived, and he sneaked out of theshop without being perceived. He hastened to
40 BEN HOWARD.the ( ntler's and here shame, dishonesty, everything was forgotten, in the delightful business ofchoosing a knife. He examined, and handled, andasked the price of first one and then another, tillhis own head grew perplexed, and the patience ofthe lad who waited on him was almost exhausted.At last he fixed upon one just like Tom Jones's,for which he was to give five shillings, when a knifethat he had not before seen caught his- eye, lyingback in one of the glass cases. Benasked to lookat it: it pleased him better than any he had yetseen; he enquired the price-it was eight shil-lings and sixpence."I will have it," said Ben, laying down hisnine shillings.The lad carefully folded the knife in a piece ofpaper and gave it, with sixpence, to Ben, who,putting them into his pocket, and taking up thejar, immediately left the shop. He had not takenmany steps towards home, when recollecting thathe might as well spend the sixpence, he turnedback towards the pastry-cook's, determined to havea treat. He gave his money, and desired to havesix raspberry tarts, which he placed in the jar,
BEN HOWAu. 41and then hastened out of the town; nor did hestop till he came to the wood by the side of thecommon, where, scrambling over a hedge, he soongot in, and pulling out his new knife, began im-mediately to try it. It cut admirably! He tried,first one blade then another, and found them allexcellent. He could have remained all day cut-ting sticks; but recollecting his tarts, and feelinghungry, he got out of the wood and walked onto the middle of the common, where he could seeall around, and thought he could make his feastfree from interruption.Seating himself on a little hillock, he took thetarts out of the jar, and placed his knife beforehim, that he might see it while he was eating.The sun was shining brightly, the blue sky waswithout a cloud, the birds were singing gaily, andthe bees humming among the purple flowers of thewild thyme. It was a delightful day ; but thoughall nature seemed pleasant and gay, and thoughBen was eating his raspberry tarts, and looking athis handsome new knife, he did not feel quitehappy. " But I shall feel quite happy," thoughthe, "when I am showing my knife to Tom Jones
42 BEN HOWARD.and the other boys." Then hastily swallowing hnslast tart, he determined to go in search of his com-panions. But what was to be done with the jar ?He could not take it home, and he did not daresell it. Ben took it in his hands to look at it; ithad a blue ground, and was thickly spotted withstars of gold: " It is a pity to break it," said heto himself, and yet he considered that was theonly thing to be done, and it would be necessary tobreak it into very small bits, for every part of itwas fully marked. Ben turned round to look fora stone to accomplish his deed of destruction, whenhe saw persons approaching, and he had but justtime to replace the jar in his handkerchief, beforethey came up.
MEN HOWARD. 43CHAP TER V.The Chair-mender and his family.-Ben guides them to hisfather's house.-The " King's Head."-Privation.-Benfears a discovery.-A welcome Guest.-Joseph the Pedlar.THE party who caused this ill-timed interruptionto Ben, consisted of a travelling chair-mender,with a bundle of rushes at his back, his wife, witha young child in her arms, and another walkingby her side. "Pray, my lad," said the man, " canyou tell us the way to the next public-house ?""Which way are you going ?" said Ben."To Whitley," replied the man, "where Iam in hope of getting a job.""Then the only public-house you will meetwith in your way," said Ben, "is my father's,the King's Head.""Perhaps you are going home, my lad, andwill show us the way" Ben unwillingly con-
44 BEN HOWARD.sentoe, for he thought it would appear odd to re-fuse, and guilt made him feel anxious. They setforward, but their progress was slow, for thetravelling party were all very much tired.The little girl, who walked, was without shoesand stockings, and she cried as the prickles of theheath ran into her feet and legs; and then againshe cried for food, calling out to her mother, "Iam hungry, mother! Mother, I am very hungry!"Ben made many attempts to remain behind, andbreak the jar; but the man always turned andstopped for him, so that he was obliged to give itup for the present, and he took hold of the littlegirl's hand to assist her in walking. When theycame in sight of the house, Ben saw his fatherstanding outside the door: he beckoned and calledto him to make haste. Ben was in terror lest thejar should be discovered; he held it behind him,and considered what he could do, when a man onhorseback rode up and engaged his father's at-tention. Ben started off to the garden, and seiz-ing the spade which had stood in the groundsince he last left it there, he made a hole in thenewly turned-up earth, and throwing the jar into
BEN HOWARD. 45it, which, as it fell, broke in several pieces, hecovered it over with mould, and ran into the housethe back way, where he found the travelling manjust beginning to ask his fatlhr if he had anychairs to mend, that he might earn a meal for him-self and family. Howard answered that he hadnone. "Then," said the man, pulling some half-pence out of his pocket, "we must be contented withwhat this will purchase;" and counting four pencehalfpenny, said to Howard, " be so good, Sir, as togive us what bread you can afford for this money,for the children can go no further without food."Howard went to a cupboard, and pulled outpart of a loaf, which the man took, and dividingit into four pieces, gave one each to his wife andchildren, and kept the other for himself. " Haveyou a little morsel of cheese that you could affordus?" said the chair-mender: "it is dry eating,bread alone."" But we may be thankful for that," said thewoman."I have no cheese for you," said Howard;"but you may have this bit of bacon, if you will,"and he placed a small piece on the table. Tha
46 BIN HOWARD.man drew it to him and cut it in two, giving onepiece to his wife, and keeping the other for him-self. The wife, before she began to eat, cut off aportion from her slice of bread and put it on oneside, and the piece of bacon she divided betweenher children. The eldest soon devoured, with aravenous appetite, her share of the scanty meal,and began pulling her mother's gown for more."Poor child!" said the mother, and gave herhalf the piece of bread that she had laid aside;but this was soon despatched by the hungry child,and she called again for more food, when the poorwoman took the crust she was eating from herlips, and breaking it, gave the largest part to herlittle girl. The other piece of bread was savedfor the child on her lap.Ben, who had been standing in one corner ofthe room, looking on in silence at what was pass-ing, felt moved with pity, and ran out to find hisfather, and begged him to give the travellers somemore food ; but IHoward was busy talking to somemen at the door, and bid his son not teaze him.Still Ben, who never readily gave up a point onwhich he was determined, urged his father to
BEN HOWARD. 47listen to him, and repeated, over and over again,"They are very hungry !""Well, and if they are," at last said Howard,impatiently, "do you think that I am to feed allthose who are hungry? Come, boy, get alongwith you, and carry out these bills: do somethingto earn a livelihood, before you would be generouswith your father's property."Ben took the papers, and set out to carry themaccording to his direction. He felt tired and outof spirits, and it was some time before he couldforget the scene that he had just witnessed: heremembered too, with shame, the money that helad expended on himself, and, worse than all,that that money was not his own.At the first house he stopped at he had some re-freshment, and soon after meeting an acquaintance,who admired his new knife as much as he couldpossibly have wished or expected, fresh life andspirits returned, and the distressed family wasforgotten. It was not till late in the day that hereturned home; when he did, he found his fatherlust arrived before him." "See. here, boy," said he to Ben, " I have got
48 BEN HOWARD.some more plants; our garden will bo well stockedthis year. I shall be up at five to-morrow morn-ing, to set them in the ground, and mind you areup too, to help me."At these words Ben recollected the jar in theground, and felt terrified at the idea of his fatherturning it up: and he determined, the moment hecould escape notice, to dig it up again, and findfor it some more secure hiding-place. But hisfather kept talking to him, and he could find noopportunity; he did not dare leave it till themorning, for though he was accustomed often tohear his father say he would rise early to work,and though he seldom found that he did, yet itwas too great a risk to run, and he could not de-pend on himself to be up still earlier; so that itwas with a feeling of great satisfaction, that aftera time he saw his father button his coat, andteaching his oak stick from behind the door, walkout and take the road towards M-- aftercharging Ben to keep in the way, as Susan wasnot at home.Ben hastened into the garden, and withoutmuch difficult found the spot where he had
BEN HOWAXR,. 49buried the jar, and taking up the pieces, put theminto his pocket. He then went into the house,and cautiously drawing them out one by one,broke them with a hammer still smaller, and re-placed them in his pocket, for he dared not throwthem away so near home. He then looked aboutin search of some amusement, but when he beganto move he found the broken pieces rattled in hispocket, and he became very much puzzled whatto do with them. At last he thought of tyingthem up in his handkerchief, and hiding them inhis bed. He carried them up stairs, and put themcarefully between the mattress and the bedstead,in his own room. Having placed his bundle insafety, he felt more at ease, and ran down to play.The evening was gloomy, and it was getting dusk.He wished for some companion to play with, andgoing to the door looked out, but there was noone to be seen, and it was beginning to rain, andthe air felt cold. He returned into the room andstirred the fire, where the kettle was hanging fortea. He tried to make it blaze, but it would not*it still burned with a dull, reddish hue. He gothis bag of marbles, and took them out on theD
50 BEN HOWARD.floor: some rolled to a distance, but he would notgo after them, for he could not exactly make outthe imperfect shapes that the shadows of thechairs and tables made upon the walls of theroom, and a sensation of fear was fast creepingover him. He would have gone into his sickmother's room, a place he was by no means fondof, for company, but she had desired him to keepbelow, as she was trying to get a little sleep. Hekept listening, in the hope that he should hear hisfather, or Susan returning; but the rain was nowpouring down, and it was quite dark out of doors.At length he heard some one lift the latch, anda tall, middle-aged man, with a box slung at hisback, entered the room. Ben started up, andlooking at the stranger, uttered a joyful cry, andspringing forward, caught him by the hand, ex.claiming, "Oh, Joseph, is it you? How glad Iam to see you! Come in: set down your box.How are you ? Are you better ? What a nightthis is for you to be out in! How wet your coatis! I will run and get some sticks to make ablaze to dry you," and off he flew to the woodstack: all his fears banished in a moment. He
BEN HOWARD. 51quickly returned, and helping his friend off withhis coat, hung it before the fire. Joseph thankedhim, and enquired after his father and mother."They are much as usual," replied Ben; "butmy mother is asleep, and my father out, and Ihave been quite alone for some time. Oh! thereis Susan," cried he, as he heard the sound of herpattens crossing the kitchen bricks. " Susan,Susan, come here; Joseph is come Make hasteand get him some supper directly.""But is not the little girl wet?" enquiredJoseph."No, I am not, Sir, thank you," said Susan,"a neighbour lent me an umbrella:" and Susan,who loved Joseph, set about getting him his sup-per, quite as quickly as Ben could wish. Shereached the frying pan, and Ben, getting upon achair, handed down a ham, from which they cutsome slices and placed them over the fire. Susanthen broke in some eggs, and Be ., having laid thecloth, stood holding the dish to the fire as Susancarefully turned about the contents of the frying-pan. "Were there no greens or potatoes left to-day at dinner?" said she. Ben ran to the cup-
52 BEN HOWARD.board to loo k, and brought some out, which beingspeedily he ited, the savoury meal was placed ona little taVbe before the fire, and Susan drawing ajug of ber, and Ben getting some bread, they toldthe hungry traveller all was ready, and kindlybade him welcome.Susan then made some tea, and carried it up toher mistress; and Ben hovered round his friendas he made his supper, watching to see if hewanted any thing, or spreading his coat out to thefire, or piling on more wood, or feeling the rest ofhis dress to see if it got dry.Joseph was a pedlar, who travelled chiefly forabout fifty or sixty miles round that part of thecountry where Howard lived: but he had visitedmost parts of England, and had been both in Scot-land and Ireland. He had witnessed a variety ofdifferent scenes, and seen a vast number of people,and he had improved these opportunities. Hewas a man of mild and pleasing manners, with acheerful-looking countenance, and so perfectlyhonest in his dealings, that his word was takenand his price given, even when the purchaser didnot know the exact value of the article bought.
BEN HOWARD. 63His wares were good of their kind: he neverdrove a hard bargain, and his integrity was such,that in all the years that he had travelled thecountry, he had never been known to practise asingle imposition, even upon a child. He wasremarkably obliging, and if a customer wished forany thing that could only be got from a distance,he was sure to bring it the next time he came.He made many little presents, such as his meansafforded; and he would often be the bearer of aletter, or small parcel, which one friend mightwant to send to another at a distance. These,and a number of other kind actions that he wasconstantly doing, made him beloved by all whoknew him; besides all this, Joseph was a mostentertaining companion; he had much to relateof all that he had seen and heard in his travels,many interesting adventures that he had metwith, and many amusing circumstances that hadhappened to himself. He always knew the newsof the day, and he carried information of whatwas passing in the great world to many a retirednook, where a newspaper was seldom seen. Therewas something, too, exceedingly engaging in his
54 IXE HOWARD.way of talking, and the mild and impressive man-ner in which he occasionally mingled a moral orreligious observation in the histories he was telling,"gave them a peculiar interest in the estimation ofhis hearers. And whenever he had occasion tospeak of himself, it was always done with thegreatestt modesty.
M. HowADn. 0.CHAPTER VI.The Pedlar's tale.-Ben's terror and remorse,-his' cone.sion.THE society of the pedlar was particularly delight-ful to Ben, and there was no diversion that he wouldnot at any time readily give up to hear one ofJoseph's stories; and he always seemed to love vir-tue better, and hate vice more, when he was withJoseph, than he did at any other time; in short,it appeared to himself, that when he was inthis good man's company, he was altogether abetter boy.The evening that the pedlar arrived, afterBen had waited upon his friend, he ate his ownsupper, and as he was finishing it, his fatherreturned home, accompanied by a neighbour whojust stepped in to drink a pint. They were
56 BmN UowARD.both glad to see the pedlar, and Howard desiredBen to fetch a jug of the best beer, that theymight drink a welcome to their friend, and wishhim joy upon his late recovery. He placed hisown chair nearer, and bid his guests draw upto the fire, for it was a cold evening.Ben having handed round the beer, Howardsaid, "Well, friend Joseph, what news do youbring us ?" At these words, Ben, who had beenanxiously waiting for a story, placed his littlewooden stool in the chimney-corner, and firstrunning up to feel that his bundle was safeunder the bed, seated himself upon it, in the ex-pectation of high enjoyment." My tale of to-night," said JosepI jokingsorrowful, "is a distressing one. In my roua.-to-day I called at the house .__ acquaintance,whom I have not seen for a long time, andwhose daughter I heard was ill away from homeWhen I arrived at the cottage I opened thedoor, and putting in my head, as my custom is,I said, 'Any thing in my way to day, if youplease, Ma'am?' When, instead of the cheerfulreply of 'Ah, Joseph' it it you ? walk in, walk
BEN HOWARD. 57in and rest a little,' no answer was returned;and looking round, I saw my poor friend seatedat a table, leaning her face on her hands, andbefore her lay a half-finished letter, the writingall blotted with tears. Nothing more the mat-ter, I hope friend,' said I; 'no worse news, Itrust, from Sophy.' Not worse from her,' saidshe; 'but it is bad news that I have to sendher. But,' said she, rising and wiping awayher tears, for she is a person who always makesthe best of any misfortune that happens to her:'sit down, and I will tell you all about it.Sit down, and rest; you have not got up allyour strength, I warrant, since your late illness,'and away went the kind-hearted creature to fetchme a mug of beer and a bit of something to eat.I made her drink half the beer, for in truth shewanted it, for her hands were as cold as ice,and she trembled like a leaf. When she wassomewhat composed, she said: My daughter, asyou know, is ill away from home; she had beenin a declining state for some time; it is supposedthat she has outgrown her strength, and thedoctor told me, that the only chance of recovering
58 BEN HOWARD.her health, was to send her to the sea-side. Thiswas a great expense to one in my circumstances,but I had contrived to lay by a little money,which I always intended for her use, and withthat I sent her to the sea-side, with an achingheart, that I could not go with her myself towatch over her, and many a pang lest I might bedoomed never to meet her again. Poor thing!I think I see her now, seated in the van thatwas to carry her away; her thin, sunk face wasturned towards me; she tried to smile, but the tearsforced themselves from under her heavy droopingeyelids, and rolled down her pale cheeks. Takecare of yourself, dear mother,' she said, andwrite, write to me soon.' I thought that she wouldhave added something more, but the van droveoff. Poor Sophy!' said I, and is she then somuch changed ? Her cheeks used to be as red as arose, and her blue eyes as clear as the hare-bell.'' True, true,' said the poor woman, and the tearsfell so fast that she was obliged to stop sometime before she could again speak; when shedid, she said, I trust to your kindness, friend,to excuse my weakness; but I speak of my only
BEN HOWARD. 59child-the only tie to life that is left me sincemy husband died, and I lost my two fine lads;and Sophy is a good girl, a kind, dutiful daughter,a great help and comfort to me.-Well, butthe worst part of my story is yet to come.Sophy has been gone about six weeks, and theyhave sent me word that her strength is returning,and that if she continues where she is, there isevery prospect of her recovering; but that ifshe returns, the chance for her life is very smallindeed. My daughter and I, as you know, sup-port ourselves by taking in washing, and doingnow and then a little plain work. Since shehas been gone I have laboured hard, been upearly and late to earn money; but the time forpaying my rent is just at hand, and I musthave given up all idea of keeping Sophy out,(for it costs four shillings a week, and the personshe is with, although a relation, would not keepher for less,) if it had not been for my bees,which yielded me nine pounds of honey thisseason; and it being very fine, and honey scarce,Squire Dalton's housekeeper was so good as tosay she would give me twelve shillings for it;
60 BEN HOWARD.besides which, she promised to dispose of a chinajar for me for six shillings. This money I wasgoing to send to Sophy, with a letter, to tell herto remain where she is, and to get quite well,to rejoice her mother's heart. But instead ofthis pleasant letter, I must write my poor girla very different one; I must tell her to returnhome, for that I have no longer the means ofsupporting her away from me; for when I wasout this morning, some one entered my house,and stole away my store of honey, and the jarwhich contained it. The robbery must have beencommitted by some one w)- 1-ow me, and knewmy ways; for the key, which I nau hid in thegarden, wab in the door on my return, and thecloset was unlocked with its own key, not forcedopen.' "Ben, who from nearly the beginning of thishistory, had sat uneasily on his seat, now felt acold sweat spread over him, his hair seemed testand on end, and it was as though the roouL turnedround with him."It is a cruel act !" said Howard."Cruel indeed !" repeated Joseph; "it is a
BEN HOWARD. 61cruel and a cowardly act, to rob the widow andthe orphan; and I am resolved, if possible, todiscover the offender."At these words Ben could bear no more; butpushing back his seat, started up and rushed outof the room and out of the house, nor stopped tillhe reached the middle of the field opposite hisfather's house; there he stood, with the rain pour-ing down on him, in a panic of fear, expectingevery moment to hear somebody call after him, orcatch hold of him and deliver him up to justice.But no one pursued, no one called, and recoveringhimself a little, he began to think that his fearshad exaggerated the danger, and after a time heslowly bent his footsteps homeward, and aftersome hesitation re-entered the house. He closedthe door cautiously after him, and stationed him-self outside the room where the party were sitting,to try if he could hear what they were saying,and if they seemed to suspect him. Ben listenedattentively; they appeared to be in earnest conver-sation, but the tones in which they spoke were toolow for him to discover on what subject they weretalking, only he thought that once or twice he
62 BEN HOWARD.heard the words robbery, punishment and justice.He dared not go in, and it looked too like guiltto remain where he was, so he crept softly up stairsin the dark to his own room: his teeth chattered,and he shook all over with cold and agitation; therain continued to pour down in torrents, the case-ment rattled in the wind, and the door creaked onits hinges. Ben felt all the horrors of a guiltyconscience !Presently the wind abated, and he could dis-tinguish the faint sound of voices talking below.Once or twice he heard a door open and shut, andhe hoped that it might be Susan coming to enquireafter him; but he had been more than usuallytroublesome to her of late, and he felt that he didnot deserve any kindness from her. After a timeall was silent below, and he judged that the guestwas departed, and that Joseph was gone to sitwith his mother, and talk to her to amuse her, ashe always made a point of doing, whenever hestopped at the King's Head. In these visits tothe sick chamber, Ben was always sure to beJoseph's companion, for the pedlar never appearedmore entertaining than when he was with hia
BEN HOWARD. 63mother. Ben felt strongly the contrast of hispresent situation, and keenly regretted losing anamusement he so dearly loved. But this wasnothing to what he felt when he considered thewicked action that he had committed, and bitterlydid he lament his folly. "And all for what is itthat I have made myself so wretched ?" said heto himself; " to gain a knife that I shall hardlyever dare use, lest it should lead to detection.Oh that I could call back the day that is past.Last night I was innocent, and now what am I?what is it that I have done ? I have robbed a poordistressed widow, and shall be the cause of thedeath of her only daughter. What a wretch Iam!" and Ben stamped on the floor in an agony ofremorse. He cried and sobbed aloud; and overcomewith shame and terror, sunk down upon a chair.After a time he became gradually more com-posed, and it suddenly struck him that he wouldconfess his guilt to Joseph. "He will have com-passion on me, I know," thought Ben: "he isever good and kind." Having come to this reso-lution his mind became calmer, and getting up,he put off his wet clothes, and wrapping himself
64 BEN HOWARD.in a great coat, sat down to wait for Joseph'scoming, for he always occupied a spare bed thatstood in Ben's room. He waited a long while;he thought that Joseph never would come, and atevery sound his heart died within him. At lengtha gleam of light shot under the door, and heheard the pedlar's footsteps ascending the stairs.Ben started up and went forward. "What, notin bed, Ben?" exclaimed Joseph, as he openedthe door and came in; and he had hardly time toplace the lamp on the table, and set down his box,when Ben threw his arms about his waist, andhanging round him, sobbed out: "Oh, Joseph!what will you say, what will you think of me,when I tell you that it was I who robbed thewidow Benson ? I stole her honey, that I mightsell it to get money to buy a knife."The pedlar was silent for a moment or two,when unclasping Ben's arms from around him, andputting him gentlyback, he looked gravely and sor-rowfully at him, and said; "Is it possible that youcan have been so wicked ? can it be, that one soyoung in years should have so hard a heart as to roba poor defenceless widow and her sick daughter."
BEN HOWARD. '5"Oh but," interrupted Ben, "1 did not knwwhat I have since learned.""Peihaps you did not," replied J seph, "butyou knew that Mrs. Benson was a poor woman,and worked hard for her livelihood; and did itnot strike you, that even if she and her daughterwere not in want, they might have many thingsthat they would equally wish to buy, as you didthe knife? But even, Ben, if they were rich,and you were certain of not being found out,there would be no excuse for taking what is notyour own. Thieving, under any circumstances,is inexcusable, for God has commanded, that'Thou shalt not steal.' ""Indeed," said Ben, "I am truly sorry foiwhat I have done.""I trust you are," replied Joseph; "it is theonly thing that you can do, to repent thoroughlyof your fault and resolve never to commit thesame again. But who can soften the distress ofthe poor widow, which a little idle, mischievousboy, in one hour, has brought upon her, becausehe could not resist the temptation of procuringwhat was not at all belonging to his station ?"7
^ BBEN HOWAaRD."Indeed, Joseph, if you will believe me, I willnever again take what is not my own."" I trust that you will not; but you must notrely upon your own weak endeavour to amend,you must pray to God for grace to withstand temp-tation. Have you said your prayers to-day ?""No," faintly answered Ben." Then pray now; let us pray together," andthe pedlar knelt down, Ben placing himself byhis side. Joseph pulled a small book out of hispocket, and read two or three prayers, in one ofwhich he particularly recommended to the care ofthe Almighty the fatherless and widows in theiraffliction, and concluded by offering a few words,that Ben's crime might be regarded with mercy,and that his heart might be touched with true re-pentance. The pedlar then rose from his knees,and at peace with God and. man, undressed him-self and laid down on his bed, where he soon fellasleep; while Ben, whose troubled spirit wouldnot let him rest, continued weeping on a chair.In about an hour the pedlar woke, and asked Bento come to bed. "I cannot sleep," said he."Oh! that there was any thing I 'could do to
BEN HOWAB. 67make poor Mrs. Benson amends for the injury Ihave done her.""Well, undress," said Joseph, "and come tobed, and let us think what there is that you cando." Ben did as he was advised, and he and thepedlar lay considering what could be done. "Ican plait straw," at length said Ben, joyfully;"I learned last winter. Mr. Barton, who was atthe great house, near Whitby, had all the childrenround about taught, for he said it was a sad thingto see so many idle hands. Many have gone onwith it, and got a good deal by it; but though Icould plait as well as any of them, I have neverdone much, for I thought it tiresome work; butnow I would gladly do it. But," said he, sud-denly checking himself, " I have no straw, and Ihave lost my engine.""If," said Joseph, " you really are in earnest,and will steadily go on till you have earnedeighteen shillings, the money you have deprivedMrs. Benson of, I will assist you in giving you thenecessary bundles of straw and the tool you re-quire; but I must be quite certain that you arin earnest."
(i BEN HOWARD.Oh, indeed I am quite in earnest! indeed youmay depend upon me.""Then, if that is the case, you shall go withme to-morrow to M-- and we will make thepurchases. Now try and compose yourself, andgo to sleep, that you may be up early in the morn-ing." Ben's rest was broken and disturbed, andonce towards the latter part of the night he wakedthe pedlar to tell him about the China jar, andconsult with him where he could put the pieces,and to beg of him to take away the knife, whichhe now could not bear the sight of, and also toentreat him not to betray him. Joseph set hismind at rest upon all these points, promising totake charge of the broken jar and the knife, andgiving his word most faithfully to keep his secret
am NOWA&B. 69CHAPTER VII.Susan, the little maid of the inn.-The silver thimble.-Walk to M- .-Conversation by the way, betweenJoseph and Ben.-Joseph sets Ben to work, that he maymake some reparation for his bad conduct.AFTER his conversation with the pedlar, Ben be-came more composed and fell asleep, nor did heawake till Susan, in the morning, tapped gentlyat the door, when she came to fetch the pedlar'scoat and shoes to brush, an attention that shenever failed to pay him; for however busy Susanmight be, she always found a few minutes' leisureto wait upon Joseph. Ben jumped up and dressedhimself, and having, by the pedlar's desire, joinedhim in his prayers, he called loudly to Susan tobring Joseph's coat and shoes, for he was all im-patience to set off to M-- At last Susat
70 BEN HOWARD.re-appeared, bringing the clothes neatly brushed."I should have brought them before," said she,"only I have been fastening a button that wasalmost off the coat, and mending a little place thatwas torn in the skirt.""But you need not have been so long about it,"said Ben, hastily."I could not make more haste," replied Susan,"for some tiresome person has taken away mythimble, to play me a trick, and I am obliged towork without one."Ben coloured and turned away his head, for herecollected that some days ago he had caught upSusan's thimble, as he saw it lying on the table,and putting it in his pocket to tease her, hadsince lost it."You have no thimble, little maiden," saidJoseph; "look here then a minute, will you?"and taking his keys, he unlocked a drawer of hisbox, in which were displayed a variety of knives,icissors, and bodkins, and a long row of silverthimbles, all new and glittering."Oh, how pretty!" exclaimed Susan."Give me hold of this little hand," said Joseph.
BEN HOWARD. 71"No, stay, you had better fit one yourself: here,take these t -mbles, and choose one that will suityou.""This fits me well," said Susan, as she selectedone from among the rest."Then keep it, and mind you do not let anyone take it away from you.""No, that I will not, thank you," said Susan:"I will keep it in my pocket, and take doublecare of it, because you gave it me. It is a veryhandsome thimble, and I am very much obligedto you for it. Sir, I will just step and showit to my mistress," and away ran the delightedSusan."Heaven bless thee, poor child," said Joseph,as he looked after her: "hard must be his heartwho could torment and hurt thee !"The pedlar did not stop at the King's Head tobreakfast, as he preferred travelling a few milesfirst, that he might enjoy his meal with a betterappetite; and strapping on his box, he told Benhe was ready, and the two friends set off for----. It was a fine morning, after the stormof the preceding night; the sun was shining
72 BEN HOWARD.brightly, a pleasant breeze was blowing, and thesky was blue and serene, except where a fewlight clouds drifted before the wind. Josephwalked on at a brisk pace, and his companion fol-lowed a little behind, in silence; for his mind,among other things, was busily occupied in con-sidering Joseph's last words to Susan. When hereached his favourite bridge he stopped, Josephstopped too, and resting his box on the side rail,took off his hat and unbuttoned his coat to let themorning breeze blow more freely upon him. Themeadow-sweet and other wild flowers that grewon the margin of the stream, scented the air withtheir fragrance, and Joseph admired the beauty oftheir blossoms, and lifting up his heart in silentgratitude to heaven, he thanked the great Authorof Creation for the health and strength he pos-sessed, for the enjoyment of all his senses, and forthe numberless blessings with which he was sur-rounded. At length Ben broke silence, and look-ing up at the pedlar, said: "Joseph, do you thinkthat T.have a hard heart?""A hard heart," repeated Joseph, "what makesyou ask that question just now ?"
HEN HOWARD 7S" Because you said, that the person must havea hard heart that could tease Susan; now I oftendo, but then it is only in plky."" Does she consider it as play ?""I do not know; she sometimes cries, but Iam sure I mean it all in sport."" Susan cries, does she? and you, when a boyat play hurts you, laugh, I suppose."" Oh dear no; if he plays unfairly I fight him,and he does not dare do so any more.""And then, because Susan is a little defencelessgirl, you think that you have a right to plagueher as much as you like." Ben looked downashamed, and the pedlar continued: "let me askyou; Susan, I suppose, gives you her services,she keeps your room in order, and mends yourclothes.""Yes," said Ben, "my mother calls her a handylittle girl."" And she prepares your meals for you."" Yes, if I have been out for my father at din-ner time, she will always save me part of whatthe family had to eat, and get it ready for medirectly I come in."
74 BEN HOWARD.",And I think that I have often known yousend her about for any thing you want; she runsup stairs for your ball or top, or to the field, inthe evening, to fetch in your kite, or any other ofyour play-things that may be left out. Is not thistrue ?""Yes.""And you find her then, altogether useful andobliging.""Oh, yes, yes !" cried Ben, struck with a sud-den sense of his own ingratitude. " I have usedSusan very ill; I wish I had a great deal ofmoney, that I might take her twenty presentshome to make her amends.""But that is not necessary, neither is it in yourpower, or if it was, would it perhaps be right, forit might be the means of creating in Susan's mindunnecessary wants. But I will tell you whatyou may do, that is quite in your power, andwhich will really and truly contribute to Susan'shappiness; you can be civil and obliging to her-you can avoid spoiling her work, and occasioningher often to do it twice over; and you can leaveoff many little teasing tricks, and cease to molest
BEN HOWA.D. 75her in several ways that you know full well dis-tress her."" Indeed, indeed I will," said Ben; " I will bevery good to her for the future.""That is right," said Joseph; "now let uswalk on, for I want to be some miles beyondM- before noon to-day.""Stop one minute longer," said Ben, "there isone thing more I want to say. If I am very dili-gent, and earn the money for Mrs. Benson, and ifI am never dishonest again, and if I do not teaseSusan any more, will you love me again as youused to do, and call me your Ben,' and not lookso grave at me ?"The pedlar smiled good-naturedly, and said,"Is there not one more fault that I very muchwish to see amended ?""I know what you mean," replied Ben, "I willleave off drinking beer and spirits.""If you do not, you will spoil your growth,and bring on bad health; besides, you cannot hopeto have the esteem and love of good people, if youpersist in so pernicious a habit.""I will do any thing to have vou love me again."
76 BEN IHOWARD."I do still love you, and it is sorrow on youraccount that has made me look grave: but I trustthat I shall yet see you all I could wish."Joseph and his companion then walked on, andhaving reached M- the pedlar made thepromised purchases, and the two friends parted.Juseph having first recommended Ben to worksteadily at his plaiting, at least one hour a day,and to do it in his mother's room, where he wouldbe much more free from interruption than below.On Ben's return, a little before he reached thehouse, he saw Susan in the road before him,returning with a pail of water from the well, andeager to put some of his good resolutions inpractice, he called her to stop, that he might helpher carry her load; but Susan, who suspectedthat he only intended to play her a trick, quick-ened her pace, and when she saw that Ben gainedupon her, she left her pail and fled to the house.Ben took it up, and carrying it in, said: " Hereis your pail of water, Susan. I really meantto have helped you, and I was not going to havekicked it over, or pulled your hair, or chuckedyou hard under the chin, or played you any other
BEN HOWARD. 77trick. You need not stand there peeping atme from behind the door, you may come outsafely. I am very sorry that I have teased andhurt you, and I promise never to do so any more.Now let me have a mug of that water, for 1 havegot some straw to split and put into it."Susan filled a mug and gave it to him, andtaking it up stairs, he sat down in his mother'sroom, and worked at his plaiting, without stir-ring, for one hour. Ben thought it a very longwhile, and it was long to one who was accus-tomed to such idle habits as he was; still thenext day, and every day for the first fortnight,he forced himself to perform his task; but afterthat time he began to tire, and his work proceededvery irregularly: and he found, too, that Mrs.Benson's daughter did not return home, and thecircumstance of the stolen honey seemed to beforgotten, as no one now spoke of it. " I do notsee why," said Ben to himself, at the end of aday, when he had done none of his plaiting, "Ishould tire myself so much with that disagreeablework, for I dare say that nobody will ever findout that it was I who stole the honey: and as
78 BEN HOWARD.to that sad history about Sophy Benson, I thinkher mother must have got money elsewhere tokeep her at the sea-side, for she is not comehome, and I do not hear that she is likely todo so at present. But Joseph !"- at therecollection of him the blood rushed into Bens'face, he stopped short in his improper thought,and he felt overcome with shame at the recollec-tion of what had been passing in his mind."Without diligence and perseverance, how washe to recover the good opinion of the pedlar?and without his good opinion Ben felt that hecould not be happy; for notwithstanding thewicked action that he had lately been guilty of,he had still a strong sense of what was right,and a great desire to be beloved by the virtuous,and in his best moments it was the height ofhis ambition to grow up like the pedlar incharacter. Joseph had often taken pains to im-prove Ben, and had endeavoured to make himregard virtue for its own sake; and Ben felt,when he witnessed his many benevolent actions,and experienced the effects of his kind wordsand looks, that he loved virtue for Joseph's sake.
BEN HOWARD. 78It was thi3 feeling that often checked Ben inwhat was wrong, and led him to do what wasright, and now induced him to continue, howeverimperfectly, an occupation that was both tediousand disagreeable to him. But still, to do rightwas not sufficiently a fixed principle in his mind,and the autumn had passed away, and winterwas come, and yet Ben had not completed thqnecessary quantity of plaitii'.
S0 BEN BO W A.DCHAPTER VIII.Winter.-The wager.-Dismay.-Melancholy eeat.THE cold season set in with unusual severity,and the river which passed by Whitley wascompletely frozen over, and afforded great amuse-ment to all the skaters in the neighbourhood.Ben was extremely fond of this sport, and thechief part of every day was now spent upon theice, or in making snow-balls; still some morningshe was glad to keep by the fire, and then hiswork proceeded a little. "There now wantsbut one score more," said Ben to himself, oneday, as he was sitting most reluctantly at hiswork in his mother's room, " but one score more,and then it is done. I have a great mind to layit by entirely for the present, at any rate till thisfrost is gone. How merry they are below, while
BEN HOWARD. 81I am forced to sit here toiling at this work; Ihave a great mind to go and see what all thatlaughing and talking is about. And hark! Ihear the boys going by to the river, I will goand join them; I will not sit here any longer,I am determined;" and starting up, he hastenedout of the room. His mother called to him; butthinking that it was to repeat her constant en-treaties, to mind that he did not venture toorashly on the ice, and tell him of the dangerhe ran of being drowned; Ben heeded not herfeeble voice, but quickened his pace down stairs.His hat was in the room where his father andthe jovial party he had been listening to werecarousing; he opened the door to seek for it, andjust at that moment he heard his father saying,"I will wager half-a-crown of it;" and uponseeing Ben he continued, " and here he is to settlethe business."Ben advanced into the room; there was ast ong smell of brandy and water; the oak tablebefore the fire was half covered with beer, andthe broken remains of an earthen mug, and twoor three pewter pots lay strewed on the floor,F
82 BEN Howan.and the faces of Howard and the men who hadbeen drinking with him looked red and inflamed.They were all talking loud, and Ben perceived,that though it was yet early in the day, they weremore than half intoxicated." Here, Ben," said Howard, " come here, boy;I want you. I have been laying a wager aboutyou; I have been betting that you will toss offa glass of brandy, such a sized glass as this,"continued Howard, holding up a moderate-sizeddram glass; "I have been betting, I say, thatyou will toss off a glass of brandy without makingone wry face. Half-a-crown is the bet, and youshall have one shilling of the money for yourself,"said Howard, laying one down before his son;"will you stand to it ?"Ben, who was always ready for any thing likesport, and who thought it would be an easymethod of earning a shilling, readily consented,and going up to the table, took the glass and heldit for his father to fill."Up to the brim, Master Howard; up to thebrim-fair play, if vou von ase," said the man whobetted ngaiist h;i,
BEN HOWARD. 88"It is quite full," replied Howard; "letSparks be the judge." Sparks, the man appealedto, declared all was fair." It would hold no more," said Ben; and witha steady hand heilifted the glass from the table,and was just carrying it to his lips, when a voicefrom behind called out, "Hold!" and a stronghand arrested the progress of his arm. Ben turnedquickly round, and, to his utter shame and con-fusion, beheld the pedlar. He hastily replacedthe glass of brandy on the table, and slunk outof the room, while Howard, who felt no incon-siderable portion of his son's respect for Joseph,stood abashed and silent; but the rest of theparty, to whom the pedlar was nearly or whollyunknown, felt little pleased with this unexpectedinterruption to their sport, and called loudly tohave their bet decided. " Come, Howard, come,"said they, "to the bet,, to the bet!" " But whereis the boy?" said the man who had laid thewager, " where is he gone ?""The boy will not return," said Howard; andwalking up to the window, he stood with his backto his late boon companions. watching the progress
84 BEN HOWARD.of a snow-storm that was gathering in awfulblackness over the horizon.The men, seeing that it was no use talking toHoward, turned their attention to Joseph, andhaving darted many angry glances at him, askedwhat he meant by coming and spoiling their sport ?Joseph, who was standing at the further end cfthe apartment, shaking the snow-flakes from hisgarments, now came forward." I have indeed, my friends, spoiled your sport,if that can be called sport which endangers thelife of a human being. But," added he, after ashort pause, " had you witnessed the sight I havethis morning, you would no longer wonder at myinterference. I was walking slowly up the hill,the other side of ---- with my pack at myback, thinking that I had a small parcel to deliverto my old friend Tom Brown, at the Chequers:-you know the Chequers, Howard; it is the little innwith the three elms before it, just at the top ofthe hill as you go into M-- Well, as Ijudged by the height of the sun that it was aboutLoon, and as I was getting weary with my walk,I thought I would step in and take a crust of
BEN TOWARD. 85bread and cheese, and a draught of ale; when a cartwith two men in it drove quickly by, and stoppedat the public-house where I was going. The twomen each called for a glass of brandy, and tossed;t off in an instant; but hardly had one of themreturned the glass to the landlord, when, utteringa loud groan, he fell back insensible in the cart.His companion, who was half stupified by theeffects of the cold and the liquor he had drank,called out, How now, Jem, what prank is thisyou are playing?' But Brown, who saw by theblackness of the man's face that somethingdreadful had happened, called to a boy who hadjust rode into the yard on a pony, and bid himhasten with all speed to M---- for a doctor;and then, assisted by the ostler and myself, liftedthe unhappy man out of the cart, carried himinto the house, and placed him gently on a bed.The doctor was not long in arriving: he hastenedto the bed-side of the sufferer, but it was too late.he was already dead-dead to this world; and hisliving soul summoned to the presence of hiseternal Judge, to give an account of all his actions,good or bad, done in this world, 'The brandy
86 BEN ROWAIWD.has killed him,' said the doctor, as he quitted hishcld of the man's hand, which was already coldand stiffening in the grasp of death. 'Spiritsdrank in intense weather will often produce suchan effect.' By this time there were many personsgathered together in the room; and the doctor'sreport, that there was nothing to be done, andthat the man was really dead, filled every onewith consternation, and it might well be said,that the silence of death was in the chamber; tillthe dead man's companion, who had hitherto stoodwith glazed eyes, fixed in speechless horror on thelifeless form before him, finding that there was nohope, and that he was indeed dead, threw himselfon the corpse, and bursting into an agony of tears,called out, My brother Oh, my brother! howshall I live without you ? Would that I weredead instead of you!' It appears that the menwere brothers, and loved each other with no com-mon love.""It is a melancholy tale, truly," said Howard," and an awful thing to be called to account forone's actions at so short a notice."The summons v as sudden, indeed," replied
BEX IIOWARD. 7Joseph; "but let us, in charity, hope that thispoor man's life was a preparation for death, theonly preparation on which we may with any de-gree of safety found our hope of salvation."This narration of Joseph's appeared to have asobering effect upon the tipsy party in the tap-room, for, one by one, they quietly paid theirreckoning and left the inn. When the guesenwere all departed, Joseph, perceiving that themoral of his tale had been felt and applied byHoward, had too much good sense and too muchkindness to recur to the subject of the wager, andhe enquired after Mrs. Howard, and hearing thatshe was up, said he would go and chat a httlewhile with her.
88 a",N HOWARa .CHAPTER IX.men's labour destroyed.-Passion.-Regret.-Pleasantpartyround a Christmas fire.-Joseph's presents.-Obstinacy.-Repentance.-The Pedlar's departure.THE pedlar quitted the tap-room with the inten-tion of visiting the invalid; but hardly had hereached the bottom of the stairs, when the soundof violent sobbing and crying met his car. Hepaused, hardly knowing what to do-he fearedlest something more than usual was the matterwith Mrs. Howard; but at last, hearing herweak voice in alternate chiding and soothingaccents, amidst fits of passionate exclamationsfrom Ben, he determined to proceed. He hadhardly entered the room when Ben, half chokedwith tears, rushed towards him, holding outseveral bundles of plait, all more or less scorchedand burned.
sEN HOWARD. 89"See here! and here and here!" cried Ben,when at length he was able to speak : " theyare all, all burned; all spoiled; every one of myscore bundles!" and he dashed the fragments ofhis work with violence on the ground."I called to him to come back," said hismother: "I called as loud as I could; and ifhe had returned, the chief part of the mischiefwould have been spared; but he would not heedme.""How could I tell what you wanted me for r?cried Ben, his passion increasing as he was madeto feel that his own misconduct had aggravatedhis misfortune: "how could I tell ?""Ben, Ben," said the pedlar, "are you notashamed of giving way to such passion?" andtaking the angry boy by the arm, he led himaway from his sick mother, and. bid him go downstairs and recover himself. Joseph then learned,that in the morning Ben had taken all his bun-lies out of a drawer in the room where they wereaept, to count them, and instead of replacingthem he laid them on a little three-legged foot-stool that stood before the fire, and that hearing
90 E] HOWARI.some boys go by in the lane, in his hurry torun and join them he had upset the stool, andthe bundles fell on the hearth at the samemoment that a half-blazing stick dropped fromthe grate, which setting fire to the nearest bun-dle, the flame was soon communicated to therest, and they were all either entirely consumed,or rendered unfit for use. "Poor child!" saidhis mother, " I would have spared him this grief,if I could. If he had but come back when Icalled him, I think the chief part of this plaitwould have been saved. It has been a wonderfuldeal of trouble to him the doing it; and I haveoften considered what it could be made him keepon so with it; but all I could learn from himwas, that it was for a good purpose; and I think,friend Joseph, whatever that good was, you putit into the boy's head, for you are always, oneway or other, kindly doing something to improvehis character."After the pedlar had remained some time withthe poor sick woman, endeavouring by his cheer-ful, rational conversation to beguile her weary,painful hours, Susan stepped upstairs to know
BEN HOWARD. 91if Mr. Joseph would be pleased to take a cupof tea with her mistress in her room, as she hadgot it ready. She also added, that Ben bid hersay, he was very sorry for his violent behaviour,and hoped to be allowed to join the party upstairs. "I am sure," said Susan, "you would for-give him if you knew how sorry he is; and hehas been very good below, helping me all he could.Pray let him come.""Yes, bid him come," said his mother."And I," said Joseph, " shall be very happy todrink tea with your mistress."Susan ran down and quickly returned, bringingthe tea-tray, and followed close behind by Ben,carrying a plate of hot buttered toast. Ben wentup to his mother and kissed her, and by manylittle kind attentions endeavoured to make amendsfor the pain his late violent conduct might havegiven her; and in the little well-behaved boywho sat at the table, making tea for his motherand the pedlar, no one would have recognizedthe noisy, violent urchin, that a short time beforehad disturbed the house with his cries.Towards the end of the evening Howard came
92 BEN HOWARD.up stairs, and brought with him a jug of hi?strongest ale, to make the pedlar welcome. Susanmade some toasts, and Ben brought out his storeof hazel nuts, always saved for a treat againstJoseph paid his Christmas visit. The fire blazedhigh in the chimney, and sent its glowing lightthrough the chamber. The party drew theirchairs round it, Ben seated himself on a low stoolclose to the pedlar; and Susan, whose work wasall done, crept in by the side of her mistress andasked permission to stay. The pedlar, alwaysobliging and good-natured, felt the comfort ofhis present situation, contrasted with the coldhe had suffered in the morning; and by hispleasant conversation and entertaining anecdotes,enlivened the circle, and a more happy partythan the present seldom assembled round a Christ-mas fire.The next morning the pedlar was occupied forsome time in examining and arranging the con-tents of his box: he drew from it various articles,which he carefully rubbed and polished, lest theyshould have been at all tarnished in the lateinclement weather to which he had been much
SBE HOWA-M. 93exposed. In this work Ben lent him his willingassistance, and was much gratified by having avariety of questions answered which he put tothe pedlar concerning the nature and manufactureof various articles which attracted his admiration.He was particularly interested in the accountJoseph gave him of the working of an iron-mine;and he was led by his kind friend to think ofthe bounty and goodness of God, who not onlycovered the face of the earth with what is ser-viceable and pleasant to man, but who has alsodeposited below its surface, treasures only to bediscovered by diligent search.When this occupation was finished, Josephwent to M-- to make some purchases to in-crease his store of wares; at the same time hepromised to return by dinner-time, which in somedegree consoled Ben for not being able to accom-pany his friend, his father wanting him at home.At the dinner-hour, true to his promise, thepedlar returned, and placed in Ben's hand aparcel, which he desired him to bring him assoon as they had dined. Accordingly, as soonas dinner was over, Ben brought forward the
44 BEN HOWARD.parcel, and Joseph drew from it, first a shawl,which he intended as a present for Mrs. Howard;next a neckhandkerchief for Howard, then aribbon for Susan; and last of all, a new top andbag of marbles for Ben. There still remainedsomething else in the parcel, and when Benhad done admiring his top, and counting thenumber of his marbles, he felt a degree of cu-riosity to know what the parcel still contained;but his spirits fell, when Joseph unrolled thepaper and discovered several bundles of straw."Here, Ben," said the pedlar, "I have againbrought you some straw, to make the plait to sellfor the widow Benson.""Oh, Joseph!" exclaimed Ben, " I cannot, can-not do any more: I am tired to death with what Ihave already done. I have done it once; at leastit was nearly done, and I cannot do it over again.""Then how," said the pedlar, looking verygrave, " is Mrs. Benson to be repaid for the lossof her honey ?""I do not know,' said Ben."You do not know !" repeated the pedlar, in atone of surprise.
BEN HOWARD. 95"Indeed, I cannot do any more: yoli do notknow the trouble it has been to me; I have sathours and hours over it, till I hate the very nameof plaiting."" Then you forget your determination of work-ing to repay Mrs. Benson what you defrauded herof. You forget her distress, her poor sick daugh-ter, and your own wicked conduct ?" asked thepedlar in an enquiring tone." I have done the plait once," answered Ben,stubbornly."And pray," said Joseph, of what use is thatcollection of burnt odds and ends, that you showedme up stairs; will they fetch money, do you think ?"Ben was silent for a few moments: all theworst parts of his character rose uppermost, andprompted him to say: " Nobody knew that it wasI who stole the honey; and as to Mrs. Bensonwanting money to keep Sophy by the sea-side, sheis not come home yet, and I dare say she is verywell. Besides, only you knew that it was I whotook the honey, and you promised never to tell;and I know you will never break your promise."" I nave kept my word," replied Joseph, "and
96 BEN HOWARD.always shall keep it; but there is a witness againstyou, Ben, that you little think of:" so saying, thepedlar put his hand in his pocket, and drew fromit a clasped knife, with " Ben Howard," burnt inlegible letters on the horn handle. At the sightof this knife the blood rushed into Ben's face-hebreathed short, and, in a trembling voice, asked,"Where was that found ?""In Mrs. Benson's cupboard," replied Joseph,"the same morning that you stole the honey."Ben was panic-struck: he knew the knife tobe his own, and he knew that the pedlar toldhim the truth as to where it was found. Indeed,for some days after he had committed the theft,he had felt uneasy about this knife : he missed it,and he had some uncomfortable misgivings thathe might have lost it somewhere on Mrs. Ben-son's premises; but, as after a time nothing wasdisclosed, he forgot the circumstance."I intended," resumed the pedlar, "that youshould never have known this discovery had beenmade; I was willing to have spared you the shameand mortification that such a disclosure wouldcause you; but the hardened conduct that I, with