--n- r .-s _-.- **'*i r /
"I ran hom the door down the road, without looking bacr, '
echoing ny father's words, 'A stout heart, Bobert i 8 stout heart I' "
THE BRAVE SPIRIT.
GALL & INGLIS.
E0 BE urg: i EACEI onon
0 BERNABD IERRACE. I 25 PATERNOSTER SoP.
CHAPTER I. PAE
-My father's maxims -My first
The school examination-The arithmetic
lesson-Can and cannot-Different
ways of getting over difficulties-
Another triumph, 14
My old suit, and plans for a new-Mr.
French's shop-Mr. Giles-The mill-
Squire Hall's winter v,,...|--,1., 1...
at home, 35
CHAPTER IV. PAGE
ing home-Another lesson of self-
denial-My departure and journey-
My new home, 83
My master and fellow-apprentices-How
:i.: .i.. -.. i, i.i_,1 -- Evil com-
,i!- ,... -' I idiuence--My
Sabbath letter, and sleigh-ride-A
warning-The struggle, 101
to Mr. Anson- Perseverance -My
their's death, 120
The city publisher-A little event the
turning point in my history-What
it- f- 133
THE BRAVE SPIRIT.
A memorable purchase-An irksome duty-My
THE most interesting event of our
family history, during my tenth
year, was the purchase of a cow!
My father had a patch of land a
mile off, large enough to pasture a
o:\\-, ;Id 1. tsllsiht hli.-r milk might
greatly add to the comforts of our
frugal table. What a world of good
things come in the wake of a good
cow! Cream for our coffee, milk
6 ROBERT DAWSON.
for our pudding, butter for our
bread, to say nothing of occasional
cheeses made by my mother in an
antiquated cheese-press, an heirloom
of her family. Next to Cuff, the
cow might have been called the pet,
at least in the esteem of Jane, Mary,
"And wvl, i: no--i: to drive the
cow to 1..i-t,., ft'l:li. :" I asked, as
he put her into the yard on the first
evening after her arrival.
"You, my son;" and his answer
imparted to me a new sense of re-
sponsibility : and for some time this
duty was discharged with great
alacrity. The weather was fine,
" our cow was still a novelty, and
above all my friend, Charley Frazer,
had his cow to drive half-a-mile in
the same direction. One difference
in our cow-driving duties soon be-
came manifest, and it was not long
before it sorely afflicted me. Charley
only drove his cow in pleasant
weather, while I had to drive mine
AN IRKSOME DUTY. 7
in all weathers, just as it happened,
rain or sunshine. Now, Charley
was a stout boy, and nearly two
years older than myself, and I did
not see any reason why he should
not drive his cow when I could
mine. No: that was not exactly
the aspect in which I viewed it. I
began not to see any reason why I
should drive mine, when Charley
could not his.
"Mother says I shall not go in
the rain. My father hires a boy for
. y i-ii- it:i'. I am not going in
rainy weather. Not I. I do not
like to go." So said <' 'ik:. as he
lounged idly over the si ilil_.
"Well, I have to ,..' -aid I,
"I would not. It is too bad to
be obliged to go, ce-rrvii se .'i,:'-t.
heavy umbrella all tej: w.'y. Mlith'-r
says it is enough to walk so far,
without having to go in the rain."
So Charley talked; and so much
did it begin to appear like a hard
8 ROBERT DAWSON.
case, that I wondered why I had not
thought of it sooner, and grumbled
more. The more I thought of it,
the more it troubled me, until, by-
and-by, it looked like a very great
"I wonder if father thinks I am
tougher than anyi odyx else? Charley
Frazer is older than I am;" and I
had a new fit of brooding over the
matter, quite natural to me.
A cold rain came ip: il in I.i p.:
the windows one morning in Octo-
ber. "It rains, and I will not go
to pasture for anybody,-not I;"
and down I sank upon the bed,
thrusting my head under the warm
"Robert!" presently called my
father at the foot of the stairs. It
was his usual summons before going
out to milking.
"I am not awake yet," said I to
myself, getting further down, and
il-.c:l\vi .g t,: -.-, .. -,in. Who does
not know that sleep, vigorously
AN IRKSOME DUTY. 9
wooed, is never won? I was wide
After a time, I heard my father's
steps returning from the barn.
Father has done his part, ought
I not to do mi!n- \.- -i_..ti..
that tried to li.l it- \\ay t.,il -il i t.:
my heart, but I answered it with,
"No: 'tis too bad to go a mile in
the rain such m,.,'i.j_ :, th. t "
"Robert, my son, get up; the
cow is ready to go to pasture." No
"Robert!" a little louder. "Ro-
bert !" louder yet. No response.
Presently his step was on the
stair. It was a slow and feeble
step, for he was an invalid. I be-
gan to breathe heavily; he entered
the chamber and took me by the
arm. "Come, my son, jump up;
you have over-slept yourself; this
is unbusiness-like; there is work to
do; jump up !" All this he said
with a cheerful, inspiring tone.
"Oh! it rains, father!" I began
10 ROBERT DAWSON.
to say, but he was gone. There was
no help for it but to dress and come
down-stairs; but my disposition to
rebel brought an ugly pout upon my
Come," said my mother, when I
at last appeared; "come, Robert,
put on your coat and thick shoes,
and take the old umbrella, and see
how fast you can trot."
"Nobody can trot fast in all this
rain," said I pettishly; and mutter-
ing lower, "I know Charley's mother
would not let him go out in such a
morning; he could stay at home
when he wanted to. This ugly
old umbrella, and these heavy old
shoes !" And so nothing suited
me; I lagged and fretted, when, lo!
my father entered the kitchen door.
I supposed he was gone.
"Are you sick this morning, Ro-
"No, father; I am not sick, but
it rains. Charley Frazer does not
go to pasture but in pleasant weather,
MY FATHER'S MAXIMS. 11
and none of the other boys go my
way." My tone was deprecating.
Somehow or other I expected he
would pity me, and begin to say,
"Well, wait a while;" or, "You
need not go to-day, poor boy;" or,
"The rain is too bad; I will get
somebody else to go." Similar re-
marks to these I had often heard
addressed to Charley Frazer by his
parents, when, having pitifully re-
presented his case, he was relieved
from some disagreeable duty. "I
wish I was as well off,"-I said to
myself a hundred times when I be-
held Charley at liberty, while I was
tn' 1.2;I.*! hard at work. But it took
long years to develop results.
What I expected-I might better
have said, what I wished my father
to say, he did not say. No unwise
or indiscreet condolence came from
"My son, you must meet the
shower just as you must meet all
obstacles. It will be only a few
12 ROBERT DAWSON.
drops at a time. Can you not do
that, Robert ? Make up your mind,
now, and act like a man." His tone
was both courageous and encourag-
ing, and his fine eye was fixed
earnestly upon me. Only a few
drops at a time!" I inwardly re-
peated it once, and the great, huge,
leviathan shower seemed actually to
dwindle down in an instant to only
afew drops at a time.
"Yes, sir," I answered briskly,
in spite of myself. The shoes were
no longer heavy, nor was the um-
brella ugly. Off I walked bravely.
" Only a few drops at a time," I
said aloud to the pelting rain half-
a-dozen times, and my walk seemed
comparatively a short one.
Passing by Charley's house on my
way home, he cried out, "I have
but just got up, and you have been
away up to pasture in the rain.
Oh, I would not do that !"
Only a few drops at a time,
Charley. Make up your mind to
MY FIRST TRIUMPH. 13
it, and you will find it i- !I-t. _,".
said I, marching by with trl. ._.2r.,-
able consciousness of something
gained, which I would not have
exchanged with any boy.
I now know that it was the expe-
rience of the great art of -r.l'1ili_'
with difficulties, rather than avoid-
ing them. It is not to grumble
.,ut it] j I ti v 1,, ', r.
Then every moment would be laden
only with its own burden. I have
since learned from the volume of
Divine truth, that this is also a
great principle of religion :-That
we know not what shall be on the
morrow, but sufficient unto the day
is the evil thereof
m ,. \
14 ROBERT DAWSON.
The school examination-The arithmetic lesson
over difficulties-Another triumph.
WHo does not know the natural
reluctance of childhood to make
steady effort ? Indeed, is it not the
reluctance of the human heart at all
ages ? Children indeed, and others
who are children in character, are
often ready enough to act from im-
pulse or circumstances, and make
great achievements; but it is the
habit of steady, self-relying, yet
humble effort, which accomplishes
all that is truly good and useful.
We are to do with our might what-
soever our hands find to do. This
habit cannot be begun too early,
and it can only be successfully culti-
THE SCHOOL EXAMINATION. 15
vated in a child, by making him
feel that there is power enough in
parental authority to compel obedi-
ence. Hli- .l..r-t-n thl t fre,
" you must," there is no appeal.
I was at the head of my arithmetic
class. What boy that has attained
this honour under the old system of
teaching, forgets how great the
honour, how exquisite the satis-
faction What a length and breadth
of importance one feels! I well
remember how I seemed to fill up
the whole school-room with my little
By something, that some boys
would call a lucky hit, Charley was
next to me. Every month, ten or
twelve "test questions," as they
were called, were given to the class,
comprising and combining the prin-
ciples and rules which we had just
The committee of examination,
on such occasions, usually visited
the school, and each scholar felt
16 ROBERT DAWSON.
desirous of making a creditable
appearance. On this occasion I
raced home with my slate and
pencil; and, with great alacrity,
finished splitting and bringing in
my wood before supper, that I
might devote the whole evening
to the lesson. How carefully did I
wash and dry the old slate, and cut
and point my pencil! I well re-
member how we all sat by the small
deal table, of those long-gone days:
my mother, with her darning; my
si-ti-. l:i.lii, palm-leaf hats,
wh,.,,.:oil t':. :..11 their mite to our
f.,iiily InI ni -: while I was working
at my arithmetic, with all the dili-
gence I was master of. With the
first, second, and third sums, there
was no difficulty; nor was there
much with the fourth, fifth, and
sixth. They were done, and I could
explain them. At the seventh I
made a full stop; the eighth and
ninth looked quite as hard. The
tenth I could see how to do.
THE ARITHMETIC LESSON. 17
"Oh, I cannot stop all this even-
ing on the seventh !" said I, im-
patiently. Father must tell me."
And I began to play with my sister's
"But do you not remember,"
said Jane, "that father never tells
you how to do test examples ? He
always says he is ready enough to
explain all about the rules as you
go along, but you must learn how to
use them. Do you not remember he
said so, Robert ?"
Oh, it is so hard, I cannot find
it out, I know I cannot! Besides,
Jane, you know I am at the head of
my class. Father will help me out
of this, I know," said I, with a nod
and a wink.
Why, Robert, he never does help
you in test sums. He says you can
and must do them yourself."
And you know father never
alters his mind," added Mary.
"But I am up at the head now,
M ary; fll,--t-r \-...il.l .,it,. r help me,
18 ROBERT DAWSON.
than let me go down, I should think;
right in the face and eyes of the
committee, too ; would he not,
Would he not be likely to think,
if you cannot maintain your place
by yourself, that you are not worthy
of it ?" asked my mother, looking
up from her work.
This reasoning was so exactly like
father's, that I turned towards the
slate, read the sum to myself, and
then read it aloud, and put the
figures on the slate; but all the
while I was inwardly declaring I
could not do it. Of what use is
effort, unless one believes that effort
can ;,,:,,potClil ,,tii_
The sum remained as intricate as
ever. In fact, I would not make
the exertion even of trying fairly
and bravely. It began to grow late,
and ltlt.i did not come home.
Jane and Mary kissed mother, and
went away to bed; I nestled close
beside her. Mother, I wish, when
CAN AND CANNOT. 19
you w\\..- .i c,1 you had studied
this ,:ciitiii to, -,.. that you could
tell me," I said-looking up into
her face, and wondering that she,
who knew so much, should not
know how to work out my sums.
"I am very sorry my dear boy
prefers being told, to studying out
it himself," she answered, soberly.
"Mother, I cannot!" declared I,
knocking my heavy cowhide shoes
against the legs of her chair.
"Cannot is a lazy drone," said
"And what is can, mother?" I
A smart, brisk, persevering crea-
ture, that stands on his own legs,
and does not need to use other
people's." Alas how many bright
prospects and fair hopes has that
lazy drone overcast and blasted !
How many have met some flatter-
ing temptation, and when reason
and conscience have cried out-
Resist! Flee !-they have drawled
20 ROBERT DAWSON.
out a languid "I cannot!" and
given themselves up to the influence
of the wicked one How many have
been urged and almost persuaded
to choose the straight and narrow
path that leads to life eternal, who,
at the first sight of a cross to be
borne, or a darling sin to be forsaken,
or a bad habit to be broken, have
shrunk back with that irresolute and
cowardly I cannot !"
I like can best; I will try to be
like can;" and my slate and pencil
began to be in motion again.
Hark the front door opened, and
my father's step was heard in the
"What, my son, up still!" he ex-
claimed on entering; "I hope the
lesson is well learned. I suppose it
must be by this time."
"I am waiting for you to help
me, father;" and I would have given
much not to have been obliged to
say it. He put on his slippers, and
sat down by the fire.
GETTING OVER DIFFICULTIES. 21
"Well, Robert," said he, kindly,
"what are your difficulties ? Let
us hear them !" Then he looked
at the sum and heard all I had to
say;-" that I wanted him to help
me, because I was at the head, and
he would not wish to have me go
down; and how hard the lesson
was; and that I had tried and tried,
and could not do it."
Again he looked at the sum, then
at my slate, and then at me. With
what anxiety did I watch his face:
"So hard!" I ,.,utter.- l-d iv i,,,- ill
then in anything but a manly tone.
Then he gave the slate back to
me, and said, slowly, No, my son,
I cannot help you. This is a work
you can do, if you fairly try. Be-
sides, you must support your pre-
sent position in the class by your
own exertions, or you are not worthy
"Oh, father!" I exclaimed bitterly.
It is late, now, my dear," he
said, patting my head. "Go to
22 ROBERT DAWSON.
bed, now, and rise early. Make up
your mind to do that sum, and then
do it. I want to see you sustain
As I trudged off with my little
lamp, I felt angry and disappointed,
yet I could not say, "Father never
helps me;" for I could remember
evening after evening which he had
devoted to my studies.
Sleep soon came, and I forgot
the seventh sum, and every other
vexation, until the cock crowed the
next morning. Do you suppose I
awoke refreshed and grateful, and
longing to begin study ? Oh, no!
although I enjoyed a sleep so sweet,
and awoke in the bright, early dawn,
as soon as I thought of my arith-
metic, I began to kick the clothes,
and toss about in bed, and to declare
I did not feel inclined to look at
my slate at all. The sum was so
hard, I was sure I could not do it;'
and It was just like father, not to
GETTING OVER DIFFICULTIES. 23
Ungrateful boy! I forgot my
-T.-v. -,, s i ,...... I 1 h, t-, while
] i.y tI I .i 1 ,i;g :.in -Ininking
from duty. The consequence was,
that the sun was high up in the east
before the cow was in the pasture,
and I was on my way home again.
"A pretty plight I am in!" I said
to myself again and again; but I
know what I'll do. I mean to make
it just as late as I can, before I get
home from pasture, and then there
will not be a minute to study before
school begins, and then-and then"
-and I chuckled at the thought-
"father will have to give me an
excuse, and so I shall get off."
To carry out my resolution, I
began to climb fences, and gather
flowers, and knock apples off the
trees with stones. I fully succeeded
in whiling away the time, and did
not get home until within half-an-
hour of school-time.
But, ah! I did not feel desirous
of showing myself to my parents,
24 ROBERT DAWSON.
nor did I feel as keen an appetite
for breakfast, as usual. I feared
they would penetrate my designs,
and I was a coward. My bowl of
nice bread and milk, set aside for
me, was hastily swallowed. Then
I followed my father into the wood-
house. Father" (I began with
some exertion), "father, will you
please to write me an excuse ? I
have just got home from pasture,
and have had no time to get my
sums done." He stopped his work
and looked at me. My eyes fell,
and were fixed on a chip at my foot.
"Do you honestly think you
deserve one, Robert ?" he asked,
I have not got my lesson, and
cannot get it;" my eyes being still
fixed on the chip.
"And that is your conclusion,
after a fair, resolute trial; is it, my
"Yes," I would have said, but
the effort died in my throat. He
GETTING OVER DIFFICULTIES. 25
still rested from his work, his eyes
fixed on mine, and mine fixed on
"No, father," I faintly articulated;
for I well knew there was no such
thing as deceiving him in such a
"I am very glad to see you deal-
ing honestly with yourself, Robert.
We can understand each other in
no other way. People sometimes
make miserable shifts to get along
easy, but it is in vain. I cannot
i .:iv- i v e you an excuse, because
I tsi',!.: y.ij. lesson can be learned,
and I do not think you have taken
that time to study this morning
which you ought to have taken, and
which you in,,i_.lt easily have done,
had you really tried. Make up
your mind to do any thing, and you
can do it."
Knowing it was in vain to argue
the case, I escaped from the wood-
I hate the school, and my arith-
26 ROBERT DAWSON.
metic, and everything!" cried I,
aloud, when fairly beyond the hear-
ing of my father.
And what poor, lazy, inefficient
youth does not indulge in the same
foolish feelings It is not he who
has conquered difficulties, but he
who has been conquered by them,
that is unhappy, discontented, and
I went into the kitchen for my
books, where my pitiful and com-
plaining look and tone wrought upon
the sympathies of my sister Mary.
"Oh, mother! poor E:..i,,:, i ,i gt,
down, he will, I know; and the
school committee will be there, too.
Oh, mother do ask father to write
him an excuse. Do, mother." I
was touched by this kindness; my
little blue-spotted handkerchief was
at my face.
"Mother, do !" added Jane.
"You are in trouble, Robert, I
know," said my mother, feelingly;
"but try and meet it like a man."
GETTING OVER DIFFICULTIES. 27
Then I wiped my face, and sorrow-
fully left them.
On my way to school I met one
and another of the boys, and sym-
pathy enough did I find. Joe Hill's
in consequence he had been on the
playground full an hour and a-half.
Samuel Jones had an excuse.
William Farley declared flatly he
knew he could not do the lesson,
and would not even try. Charley
Frazer, where is he ? Soon we es-
pied Charley bounding over the
green, approaching the school-house
upon the full run.
Your arithmetic lesson, Charley,
-how is it ? You look as if you
had done it, but I do not believe
you have," cried Farley.
"Yes; I've done it. Why, it's
easy enough, I'm sure," declared
Charley, with a most satisfied air.
Easy enough !" scornfully re-
peated Bill Farley; I don't know
where the easy is, for my part."
28 ROBERT DAWSON.
"I knew the committee were
coming in, and I did not mean to
let the master mortify me before
them, so I got an excuse; now I
am ready for play," cried Sam Jones,
flourishing his bat.
I'll join you. Come, who's for
a game of bat and ball ?" shouted
Charley Frazer thinks the lesson
easy enough, and I could not do it !"
The idea fastened itself on me. In
truth I had entertained no very high
opinion of Charley's abilities, but now
they rose much in my estimation.
"Now, Charley, do tell me how
you did the seventh," said I, taking
him by the arm, just as he was
going to join the game of ball. He
pulled his arm away violently.
Oh you know what I did for
you yesterday, Charley. Come, now,"
I besought him; "come, and I will
lend you my new knife just when
you want it-my best knife." He
unwillingly suffered himself to be
GETTING OVER DIFFICULTIES. 29
dragged into the school-room, and
even to our seats, where we sat
down together. He took up his
slate, found out, and began to ex-
plain the sixth.
"The seventh, the seventh, Char-
ley. I know well enough about the
sixth," I cried, impatiently.
Well, the seventh," added Char-
ley, good-naturedly; "there, Robert,
you may copy it yourself, here it is."
"But just tell me all the hows
and whys," I said, enviously reading
over his figures.
I do not believe I can explain
it, Robert," said Charley, looking
"But it's iu-t ,,lhi,, :.t all, un-
less we can ::hii It.
"That is just what I cannot do,"
whispered Charley; "for my father
did all the hard ones for me, and I
copied them off; and then, when he
tried to explain them to me, I was
so sleepy I did not know one word
he said. Was he not kind to do
30 ROBERT DAWSON.
them ? for mother said it was too
bad I should get down in my class,
just because I could not do them.
Now, do not you tell, will you,
"Why, we do not go down for
anything else, except for not doing
them," said I, bluntly. My respect
for Charley's abilities declined as
rapidly as it had risen.
While I was picking up my pencil,
which had dropped at my feet,
Charley vanished from my side, and
I heard his halloo on the green.
Poh I inwardly exclaimed,
"people do make miserable shifts
" I _, I- .1o:j-, easy, as father says. I
".A ill ty. :iii.[ then, if I do it, I shall
know how to explain it. I will
make up my mind to meet this hard
old seventh like a man, and I will
And now I began to work in
earnest. I read over the example,
and meant to understand it. I be-
gan to cipher, and meant to work
ANOTHER TRIUMPH. 31
it out. Father says I can, and I
must; now let me see," I said, with
an honest desire to do all that I
could. Oh, what priceless value
there is in an honest desire to do
what we can It would save mul-
titudes from present uselesessness and
from eternal suffering.
Bob, Bob! come out here; come!
we have a plan on foot !" cried Sam
Jones, opening the school-rdom door
and beckoning me thither. I looked
up and shook my head.
"Come I" shouted Charley, peep-
ing over his shoulder. We cannot
do without you. Come, Robert,
never mind about your seventh."
"No; business before pleasure,"
I answered, keeping my pencil
moving, and my eye fixed upon the
column of figures.
"Business !" they shouted, mer-
rily; business! I guess he is Mr.
Robert Dawson, with his great big
ledger." And they took off their
hats to bow, with a mock gravity.
32 ROBERT DAWSON.
Then away they ran to the play-
By-and-by the school bell rang.
The master appeared, and the boys
began to crowd in at the door. Soon
all became quiet. Books were laid
aside. A chapter was read in the
Bible, and the master offered up the
morning prayer. I was attentive to
this service, and yet I was surprised
to find how slight an interruption
all this proved to be; and I now
- tlt it 1w., j -t 1.1 ... ., a ny ri,,,
was fixed, and easily returned to its
task. The resolute do not suffer
from the slight interruptions which
disturb others. Thirty-five minutes
after school began beheld me labour-
ing upon the memorable seventh,
and it was done! yes, done; and I
could explain every step of the pro-
cess. How grateful to my mind
was the pleasure of achievement!
As I stood in the class that day I
knew I had earned my position. I
had bought it with the price of effort,
ANOTHER TRIUMPH. 33
and I valued it accordingly. Ah
my father understood how fine a
thing it is to make us rely properly
Poor Charley had hard work to
maintain his ground. He blushed,
and stammered, and made some
droll blunders, until, at length, he
was obliged to confess that he knew
nothing about his sum, and thus lost
his standing in the class.
"I thought young Hill and Jones
belonged to this class," said Squire
Hall, one of the committee, at the
same time looking around to see
where they were.
Their parents wish them to be
excused from the examination," an-
swered the master.
They are not where they ought
to be, then. We want to see every
boy at his post in his class," said
the Squire, who kept his eye upon
the standing and character of every
boy in the school. The Squire's
good opinion was worth having, for
34 ROBERT DAWSON.
it was generally formed upon true
grounds, and his estimate of charac-
ter was almost invariably correct.
Jones and Hill hung downtheirheads
when his eye searched them out.
Some of the boys have done
themselves great credit," remarked
the Squire, when the class was dis-
missed. They seem to understand
what they are about; it is not par-
rot talk." He certainly looked very
much gratified, and so did those of us
who had earned the commendation.
I will not study arithmetic-
I declare I will not !" exclaimed
Charley, in a pet, as we went out of
Charley, if you would only do
your examples yourself you would
like it. There is nothing like help-
ing one's-self, depend upon it;"
said I, feeling strong, manly, and
self-relying, from the morning's vic-
tory over myself. How different
was our training !
MY OLD SUIT. 35
...I -,;t i !'..i .. M r. French's
shop-Mr. Giles-The mill-Squire Hall's
winter wood-Surprise at home.
ALTHOUGH our family always con-
tinued to make a decent, and even
respectable appearance, we were
poor. In his best days, my father
had been a sea-captain, in which
business he gained enough to buy a
small farm in the country, the object
of his fondest desires. Not long
after his removal to our new abode,
his health began to fail, and he was
unable to engage, to any great ex-
tent, in out-door occupations. A
small sum, invested in some city
stocks, was lost; and his three eldest
boys died in childhood. So that
the earliest remembrance of my
36 ROBERT DAWSON.
parents is associated in my mind
with traces of sorrow. I was the
child of their mourning days, and
yet to me what happy days they
were I soon felt the necessity of
doing what little I could to add to
the family stock. School-boy as I
was, sometimes by cutting wood, or
going to mill, or planting, or har-
vesting for our neighbours, I picked
up a little money now and then, or
perhaps I earned a bushel of corn,
or half-a-bushel of wheat.
One morning, as I lay in bed, with
my best jacket and trousers hanging
up on a peg upon the wall before
me, it struck me how very shabby
and threadbare they looked. I well
knew the sleeves of my jacket had
long since refused to approach my
wrists, and that the bottoms of my
trousers had dropped all acquaint-
ance with my ankles. And now
that winter was drawing near, I
needed a new, warm suit. Mother
would get me one if she could, and
PLANS FOR A NEW SUIT. 37
so would father; but I am sure they
could not, for father wants a new
outside coat as much as I do, and
he does not get it. It must be be-
cause he has no money to buy one.
I wish I was rich; but then it is of
no use to wish. I wish fairy days
would come back again, and a good
fairy would come and touch with
her wand my old clothes, so that in
an instant they would be new-all
new and handsome. Then I could
give her Jane's bonnet to touch, and
all mother's old shoes, and her old
red shawl. Then it might be as
l .- 1i, .:iiL t it c. i, .- t, v. .- :
and I would give her the old bellows
too; then I would not have such a
fuss making up the fire in the morn-
ings. I would give her a good as-
sortment of things if she could
Who come ?"
Poh I There are no such things
38 ROBERT DAWSON.
as fairies; and father says, 'What
is the use in brooding over what
cannot be?' Yes, what is the
Well, I cannot have a fairy,
good or bad, I am sure; but why
cannot I have a new suit ? That is
not impossible. Then, if I ask
mother, she will say, Yes, Robert,
I know you want a new suit;' and
then she will look sorry because she
cannot get them. Now, I wonder if
I could not earn me a whole suit ?
Me earn Yes, I could-I know I
could. Now, I will make up mny
mind to it, as father says, and then
I will do it,-I will earn me a new
suit. Earn the money, and then
take it to mother, and ask her to
buy the cloth. Won't her eyes
Oh, well do I remember how de-
lightfully the thought struck me.
In very joy I seized my small pil-
low, threw it up in the air, and
caught it. Then, jumping out of
PLANS FOI A NEW SUIT. 39
bed, I hopped round the room, play-
ing curious antics all by myself,
while engaged in the more serious
occupation of dressing. IHow to
earn the desired sum began to en-
gage my attention. "Yes, ....'?
Th.,t i. /, .'p..-.." I mused on
"holw ?" I cannot braid palm-
leaf--that is Mary's and Jane's
work. Mr. Jones' harvesting is
about over. I do not know of any-
body that wants wood cut. If I
could go into the woods and dig up
and sell sassafras roots,-now that
would be -... ,.ili,;-. : but they do
not -,,N t' l. I. i.-. Jim 'c, -
they sell them to druggists, and I
am sure we have no such people
here." I took down my clothes
from the perg nd! held them up be-
fore me. 'T'l!y I.:- shorter than
ever. They grow shorter every
week, it seems to me." A very natu-
ral result, by the way. I'll have
me a new pair; I'll earn them, too.
'Where there is a will, there is a
40 ROBERT DAWSON.
way.' That is often said, and I be-
Such were the beginnings of the
new purpose which I resolved to ac-
On the way to school that morn-
ing, Samuel Jones joined me.
"I say, Robert, did you know
Charles French is very sick with a
fever? He is, and he had the doc-
tor last night."
"I am sorry for it. Poor Charles
had a headache the very last time I
saw him, when I bought some tea
there for mother."
But whom has Mr. French got to
attend the shop ?" I added, quickly.
Samuel did not know; and what
was his surprise to behold me post-
ing off in an opposite direction from
school, without saying one word
more. For nearly a mile did I con-
tinue my trot, until quite out of
breath. Coming to a corner where
two roads met, I approached what
was called "The Shop." There was
MR. FRENCH'S SHOP. 41
but one shop in that part of the vil-
lage where we resided, and it was
kept by Mr. French, at the corner.
And a variety shop it was, truly;
for who could enumerate the con-
tents of his shelves ? brooms,
brushes, crockery, tea, coffee, pipes,
candy, scythes, rakes,-indeed, every
article that the neighbourhood for
ten miles round could want. My
speed declined as I approached the
shop, and I began to consider what
I was about to do. Two waggons
were at the door, and as I looked
into the shop my eye caught several
people at the counters. "Who is
waiting upon them, I wonder ?"
I stole in, and sat down upon a
box near the door. No one but Mr.
French himself was behind the coun-
ter, and he looked very sad. He
had his hands full of work, supply-
ing one and then another.
I wonder if Mr. French has got
anybody yet ?" I said to myself. "I
wonder if he will have me ? Will
42 ROBERT DAWSON.
he think I know enough to help
As the customers became supplied
they went out, even to the last. My
heart beat quickly.
Well, my boy, what do you
want ?" asked Mr. French. I arose
from the box, and, taking off my
hat, approached where he stood. I
trembled and feared to speak.
"Why, this is Robert Dawson !"
said he. "Ah, I did not know you
with your cap over your face so.
How is your father ?"
I heard Charles was sick, sir," at
last I summoned resolution to say;
"and so I thought you might be
wanting help in the shop. I came
to see if you would not take me in
till he gets well again." I dared
not lift my eyes from the weights
on the counter, and a suffocating
sensation arose in my throat.
If you had offered yourself half-
an-hour before, Robert, I do not
know but I should have taken you,
MR. FRENCH'S SHOP. 43
for you seem to be a smart little
fellow. But I have sent for my
nephew, Charles Emery, at Orange,
to come and stay with me till Charles
gets better. You go to school, do
you not, Robert ?"
"Yes, sir; but I thought if I
could hire myself out a little while,
it would not be so much matter; I
can write and cipher in the evenings
with my father." And as I ven-
tured to look up into Mr. French's
thin, kind face, as he stood leaning
against the shelves, with his thumb
caught in the armhole of his waist-
coat, how sorry did I feel that I had
not come half-an-hour sooner. "I
came just as I heard of it," thought
I; and, indeed, there was nothing to
"Is Charles very sick, sir ?" I
"Well, I am afraid so! I am
afraid so !" answered Mr. French,
sorrowfully. There comes the doc-
tor's gig now;" and at that moment
44 ROBERT DAWSON.
the horse stopped at one of the posts
before the door.
I should like to have employed
you, Robert, though I suppose it
would have been new business to
you; but- By this time he
met the doctor, and they went round
together to the door which opened
into his house adjoining the shop.
"Well," I sighed, as I walked
away, "keeping shop is not the only
business. Poor Charles I am sorry
he is sick. I remember now that
he said, when he weighed out the
tea, that he had such a headache
he could hardly see how to do it."
I did not reach the school-house
till a quarter of an hour after school
had begun. The master took no
notice of my lateness, however. Sam
Jones asked me if I was taken with
a running fit when I left him in
such a hurry. And this was the end
of my first attempt to get a new
Two or three days afterwards, as
MR. GILES. 45
I was digging potatoes in our garden,
I heard a neighbour, Mr. Giles, say
to his wife, I cannot go to mill to-
day, or to-morrow, or next day, that
"Well, but we must have some
meal," said Mrs. Giles.
"I suppose so, and I must try
and get somebody to go, I suppose;
but everybody is so busy just now."
"I'll go," thought I, throwing
down my spade. "I am just the
one to.go!" And pushing through
a little opening at the bottom of the
garden, I soon found myself with
Mr. Giles in his door-yard.
"There is Robert Dawson, send
him," cried Mrs. Giles, espying me
as I issued forth from behind the
wood-pile. She could not have made
a more grateful suggestion to my
Robert," said Mr. Giles, turning
round, "can you go to mill for me
this morning ?"
"Yes, sir; just as soon as I have
46 ROBERT DAWSON.
finished my digging potatoes," an-
swered I, with cheerful alacrity.
"I should like to go."
"You can take the horse and
waggon, and I'll put in the corn- "
A good grist of it too, Mr. Giles:
so it will last; and then I shall not
be plagued again very soon," added
Mrs. Giles, setting down her pail on
the doorstep, and looking round.
"How long will it be before you
will get your work done ?" said my
"In about three-quarters of an
"I'll have the horses put in, and
be here ready for you; and I will
put in six bushels of corn-three
bags full. The miller will take his
toll, and you may have yours. You
can have yours ground there, and
bring home the meal for your folks,
or not, just as you have a mind."
So said Mr. Giles, as he threw the
meal bags into the bottom of the
MR. GILES. 47
How much corn will be due to
me, do you think, Mr. Giles ?"
"A peck, I suppose. Will you
have it ground with the rest, and
then take it home, or will you take
it out in corn before you start for
the mill ?"
"I think I will carry it all," I
answered; for I had not had time
to think just how I should dispose
of my corn, in order to turn it into
"That is right; bring home the
meal to your mother;" and with
that I vanished through the hole
in the garden-fence and returned to
And now fancy me on the way to
the mill. I was fairly in business,
and not losing my studies either;
for the schoolmaster had been called
home by a sudden death in his
father's family, and we were enjoy-
ing a few days' vacation.
Now, how shall I sell my corn?"
was the next question that occupied
48 ROBERT DAWSON.
my mind. Shall I ask Mr. French
to buy it, or shall I sell it to the
miller? The miller once before had
taken my corn. Perhaps he will
now;" and to offer it to him was the
Arriving at the mill, a snug
establishment in a hollow, where a
deep and narrow stream ran over a
sort of natural fall, three waggons
were before me, and the mill was at
work merrily. The old miller was
no favourite with the customers of
the mill, and I heartily wished that
I might not have to transact my
business with him. He was a
hard man for a bargain." So said
the people round; while the miller's
son was a general favourite. I
stopped my horse, and tying him,
went in to find the men. Greatly
relieved was I to behold the son,
Tom by name, standing by the
hopper. Now, although Tom must
have numbered twenty-five years of
his life, he still was known to all the
THE MILL. 49
country simply as Tom; and a better
fellow could not have been found.
"Well," said I, "will you grind
my corn-six bushels ?"
"I'll try to," answered Tom; "who
is it for ?"
"It's Mr. Giles's corn, and he is
going to pay me a peck for bringing
it. Now I want to sell it; do you
not want to buy it ?"
"Father thinks we have got a
good deal on hand now," answered
Tom, stirring round the corn in the
hopper with his hand; "how much
will you take for it ?"
"I do not know what corn is
"How much are you going to
sell ?" asked a man, who was walk-
ing in and out.
"A peck," answered I.
No great sale," remarked the
"He only wants enough to get a
pipe and tobacco." Tom meant to
50 ROBERT DAWSON.
"No," said I; "I am going to
earn me a new suit of clothes, and
the money for my corn is going to-
wards it. I hope I shall get enough
before the cold weather sets in."
"How much have you now?"
"Nothing yet. I am in hopes I
shall take my first earnings to-day;
so I offered to do this errand for
Mr. Giles," said I.
"Why, you are quite a little
business fellow," exclaimed the man,
appearing from behind a post. If
you do not take the corn, Tom, I
Oh! I'll take it," said Tom; I
would take all Robert's corn, whether
I took anybody's else or not." And
his large mouth widened into a
By-and-by the corn was duly
measured out; a part to the miller
for grinding, a part to me for carry-
ing, which was added to the miller's
heap, and the rest was poured into
THE MILL. 51
the hopper. Then I went away to
look about the pleasant precincts of
the mill. There was the water dash-
ing over the craggy rocks; here the
white foam; there the whirling
eddy; and, farther on, the dark,
glassy surface. I threw dry leaves
into the stream, and watched their
motion till they were swallowed up
in the miniature vortex. I leaped
from rock to rock, and bathed my
bare feet in the little pools warmed
bythe clear sunshine. Then I wound
my way up a narrow path among
the pines on the hill-side, and sat
down on the smooth underbrush to
eat my bread and cheese.
"What I meant to be when I
was a man,"-was a subject that
frequently occupied my fancies.
Now, I thought, how pleasant to be
a miller, and live by the side of a
little river; but, after all, father
says it is not so much matter what
one's business is, if one does what
one has to do, and does it right.
52 ROBERT DAWSON.
Even if I should live to be a man,
my ideas about such things may
change very much. I know this
world is not to be my home. I am
to live for ever in another and very
different world, and perhaps I am
much nearer to it than I suppose.
God is my Creator. He has given
me a mind and heart, and has placed
me here to love and obey Him. I
am to learn His will from the Bible.
He there tells me what He would
have me to do, and He there pro-
mises to give me all the grace and
strength I need to do it. He tells
me of a Saviour, who died that I
might live, and that for His sake
He will freely give me all things.
These were my sober thoughts,
and the quiet loneliness of the place
naturally led to them. The conclu-
sion of the whole matter was, that I
would try to do my duty, day by
day; and, thinking that my corn
must, by this time, be nearly or quite
ground, I hastened back to the mill.
THE MILL. 53
That evening I reached home the
happy possessor of tenpence.
"What are you going to do with
it, Robert ?" asked my father.
Keep it for the present, sir."
"Well, when you spend it, spend
it usefully," said he. Remember
that a little spent wisely is better
than a thousand misused." I at
once put my little fortune into a
small tin box, which was carefully
kept in the upper drawer of my
The money already earned was
but a small part of that which was
necessary for my purpose; and I
began to look about for something
else to do.
Some of the boys (myself among
the number) were stretched out, at
noon, during the interval of school,
on the sunny side of the school-
house. This noted building was
situated at one end of a long plain,
through which ran the village street.
It was truly the street; for the vil-
54 ROBERT DAWSON.
lage had but one. On this, at long
intervals from each other, stood the
principal houses, among which the
school-house and the church were,
of course, regarded as the most
"There goes Squire Hall's winter
wood," remarked Charley Frazer.
"He has got a neat yoke of oxen
there; not another like them in our
village-is there ?"
A discussion of this question,
about Squire's Hall's oxen, followed.
Some of the boys supported the
claims of a pair that Major Brooks
owned, but they made a feeble stand
against the acknowledged merits of
I wish I could help to pile that
wood," thought I. Squire Hall
has got one man less than he used
to have. I wonder if he would not
employ me ? One can never know
till one tries, father says; so I'll
try."When school closed in the fter-
When school closed in the after-
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 55
noon, I determined to go over to
the Squire's; and so I joined the
boys whose homes were below his
house. The great gate of his wood-
yard was open, and several of us
went in. Everything about the
premises-was in perfect order. We
looked about, and in a short time my
companions departed. The wood-
pile attracted my attention or
rather, the wood to be piled.
I must find work here,"-was
the uppermost thought in my mind.
Mr. Merry, Squire Hall's chief work-
man, just then came along from the
"Mr. Merry," said I; "do you
not think Squire Hall will let me
help to pile his wood ?"
"You! How much could you
pile, I wonder ?" he asked, in a
Try me, and see."
"I do not want any boys about
me. They are more plague than
profit," growled Mr. Merry, as he
56 ROBERT DAWSON.
turned his back upon me. But I
was resolved not to be discouraged.
"I can just ask the Squire him-
self," thought I. "There can be no
harm in asking; and father says we
must not let little obstacles frighten
So, putting my hands in my coat
pockets, I walked out of the yard.
As I passed the front of the house,
I looked up at every window, won-
dering whether the Squire was in,
and whether, after all, it was best
to ask him. Perhaps it will be of
no use, if I should. Try," father
always says, when he would urge
my courage on. I sat down upon
the stone wall on the other side of
his house, revolving the subject in
my mind. The chills of an October
evening began to creep over me.
"If I am to have a new, warm
suit, I must try for it. Suppose I
go in and ask Squire Hall, and then
the matter is settled." And I slowly
approached the front gate. "Per-
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTERWWOOD. 57
haps Mr. Merry will not let me help
him," and at that moment I espied
the Squire turning round a lane,
and coming towards his house.
"Here is a good chance. I will
run and ask him NOW !"
What a magic there is in that
little word now !
"Nobody is near !" So I hastened
to meet him. As I drew near, I
pulled off my cap, and made a re-
spectful bow. He stopped.
Will you please to let me help
to pile your wood, sir ?" said I,
blushing to the very eyebrows.
What is your name ? I see
you often !" And he looked search-
ingly at me.
"Robert Dawson, sir."
"Hem ah, yes; Robert-Robert
Dawson. I know you. Well, you
want to pile my wood, do you ?"
Can you pile wood as well as
you can cypher, Robert ?" he asked.
"I remember you at the school.
58 ROBERT DAWSON.
Does Mr. Merry want you ? He's
the man to ask."
"No, sir," answered I, with great
simplicity; "he does not want me."
You are after employment, then,
Robert; and you do not go to school
now, I suppose." He spoke kindly.
"Yes, sir; I go to school. But I
wanted to get something to do out
of school-hours," said I, poking the
dirt about with my toes.
"You cannot do much in these
short days," he said.
"I can TRY !"
"Yes, TRY; that is right. And
if Mr. Merry wanted you, I should
like to employ you very well. But
Mr. Merry manages these things
pretty much in his own way." And
he began to move on.
He must have seen my disap-
pointment, for he added-" We will
see, Robert we will see But Mr.
Merry has got to be consulted in
all these things." And he left me
with a hurried step. I stood still
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 59
a few moments, in busy thought.
Then crossing the street, I raced
home over the dry leaves and
short turf, on the other side of the
At night I bethought myself what
new applications I could make.
On the afternoon of the third day,
my mother sent me on an errand to
"Halloo, there!" some one shouted.
" Halloo, boy !" It came from Squire
"Come over here."
I looked up, and there was Mr.
Merry, beckoning to me.
"You're the boy that wants some
work, are you ?" said he, as I scam-
pered over to him.
"Well, if you will pile as fast
as I cut and split, you may come.
But you will have to work, I tell
you. All this wood must be housed
within a week. So you can come
as soon as you like."
60 ROBERT DAWSON.
Then I went upon my errand with
"Work to do I work to do !" was
all I could say.
The early morning and the late
evening found me striving to keep
up with Mr. Merry's saw and axe.
The boys vainly tempted me to the
play-ground, and I was at home only
to perform my accustomed duties.
A grand nutting party, long talked
of among the boys, was at length
appointed to take place this week.
The boys in our district were going
to join district number four, and
visit the great nutting region, about
ten miles off. The plan was, to go
in waggons and spend the day,
carrying our dinners to eat among
the trees. We were to take a tea-
kettle and other cooking utensils,
and live in true camp style.
Heavy frosts had already cracked
the bark of the nuts, and a warm
day in the early part of November
promised to give us the finest wea-
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 61
their for our excursion. How much
had I thought of it! Boys in the
country have so few excitements of
the kind, that a nutting party pos-
sesses uncommon interest. I be-
lieve I dreamed about it for nearly
a week together: and it was now
come The day had been actually
appointed! and I, what was I to do ?
Go, or not go ?
Charley Frazer, and Sam Jones,
and all the boys whom I saw, talked
of my going as a thing of course. I
was to go in Sam Jones's waggon.
The evening before, I made a few
preparations. My bread, and cheese,
and pies were laid aside, ready to be
rolled up; and I borrowed a large
basket of neighbour Giles for mynuts.
Then you will go, will you
not ?" said Jane. "If I were you,
"I shall not be sure till to-mor-
row morning," said I, between fear
and hope. I can tell better when
I see Mr. Merry again."
62 ROBERT DAWSON.
"Do go!" added Mary. "Do
My parents offered no advice in
I had piled up all the cut wood
that evening. My work had been
done clean. Meaning to reach the
wood-pile the next morning before
Mr. Merry, I could ask him to let
me go with great safety, because it
would appear that there was nothing
then to do, and I could promise to
work the faster on the next day.
No man was harder to deal with
than Mr. Merry.
At early sunrise I was up and
dressed, brimful of delightful antici-
pations from the day's excursion.
It was a wonderfully fine day in the
Indian summer,-days that are like
a smile on the stern and grave face
of November. I did not for a mo-
ment doubt, that within two hours
we should be on our winding way
to the nutting forest.
I will be sure and go over to
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 63
see Mr. Merry first;" and away
were my steps bent towards the
But he will not be there : I shall
have to wait." As I approached the
gate, I heard the sound saw-saw-
saw: "Who is up so early?" I
opened the gate and went in, and
who should be there but Mr. Merry
himself, and another man, with wood
enough sawed and split to employ
me for two hours, at least! What
shall I do ?" thought I. "What
shall I do ?"
"Work enough work enough !"
cried Mr. Merry. It is time for
lazy boys to be at their work. Come!
take hold or you will lose the bar-
There was a sly and wicked ex-
pression in his tone and manner,
which he usually wore when he had
outwitted or overreached any of the
boys with whom he had anything
to do. The truth is, Mr. Merry did
not like boys.
64 ROBERT DAWSON.
With a heavy heart, indeed, did
I begin my work. I have a great
mind to run off, and have nothing
more to do with such a man. He
knew I wanted to go nutting."
Such were my first thoughts.
I will give up the nutting rather
than give up the work; for if I go
now, Mr. Merry will never let me
come back again." These were my
By-and-by the gate opened, and
in rushed C'!.i i, 'y Frazer, Sam Jones,
and two or three others, into the
Where are you ?" shouted Char-
ley. I have been hunting every-
where after you Your father said
he supposed you were here. Come!
make ready! We are off directly!"
Come, Robert! we ought not to
lose the time!" echoed Sam. "A
jolly day we shall have of it. Come!
What a noise snarled Mr.
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 65
"I cannot go," said I at last;
"for I have taken this piece of work,
and I must do it."
Oh Mr. Merry will let you off
just one day,-will you not, Mr.
Merry ?" said Charley. "Just to
have Robert go with us nutting."
"Go if he likes! I can get some-
body else, easy enough." Saw-
saw-saw-and so he sawed up and
down as if he heard nothing.
Come go, Robert! Why, you
must cried Charley, earnestly.
"Come out here," said I, drawing
them outside the gate, just to get
awayfrom the presence of Mr. Merry.
A noisy discussion followed.
"No, Charley, I am not going. I
have taken the task, and I mean to
go straight through it. Father says,
' We must not back out for small
things.' Such was my settled, yet
"It is too bad! Pile wood all
day!" cried one. "That great pile!"
"Only stick by stick," said I,
66 ROBERT DAWSON.
courageously. If we make up our
minds to it we can then do it." Well
do I remember how hard it was to
act out those principles.
A great deal was said, but my
purpose was fixed. They went away,
and I turned to re-enter the gate. I
gave one peep at the departing boys
before I shut the gate. Oh! what
good times they will have!" I sighed
in spite of myself; and in spite of
myself I felt that something would
turn up, and that I should go after
all. I did not believe it could be,
that I should not go,-I who had
helped so much to plan all about it
When I went back to my work I
was sure that Mr. Merry would say
something about the affair. Not a
word did he speak. It was only-
Time was passing; and if I were
going should I not be pushing my
preparations ? I expected some of
the boys back; and perhaps, should
they come again, Mr. Merry might
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 67
tell me to go. If Squire Hall would
only happen to be out in the yard,
and the boys here too! then I was
sure Squire Hall would bid me go,
and let me complete the work when
My ears were open to every sound!
I worked with a quick, excited move-
ment, as if I were on the eve of a
rescue. My heart beat violently.
The nutting fields never seemed so
charming-the excursion never ap-
peared so interesting, now that I
was just about to lose it; now that
my going depended upon what some
would call mere good luck.
Alas Mr. Merry never conde-
scended to utter a syllable Squire
Hall did not make his appearance
at the door; nor did the boys
By-and-by the sound of waggon
wheels, with merry shouts, broke
upon the still morning air. One,-
two,-three,-four waggons went
by! I counted them all! I heard
68 ROBERT DAWSON.
the cracking of their whips, and
the voices of their drivers-five-
I mounted the wood-pile, and be-
held them. There they went! trot!
gallop speed away speed away!
-full of animation and joyful anti-
cipation and I-I was actually left
Nothing happened to relieve me
from my duties. Tears of bitter
disappointment rushed to my eyes,
and blinded the sight of the distant
waggons. I jumped down and
made the best of my way into the
great barn, which was near, to hide
my uncontrollable emotion from the
eye of my master. I remember how
I ascended a ladder to the hay-mow,
and gathering myself up in a corner
where I could fling myself on the
sweet hay, I actually cried.
It is too bad too bad!" was
my bitter exclamation. Mr. Merry
might have said, 'Go, Robert! and
do your work after you get home.'
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 69
He ought to have said so." Then I
wiped my eyes, and bitter thoughts
began to pervade my mind. "It's
of no use, now!" I said aloud, and
mournfully. "It's of no use at
all! They're gone, and I told them
to go without me! But I did not
expect it,-that's a fact. I thought
surely something would turn up.
But I remember father says we must
not hang our good fortune on 'turn-
ups,' as he says a great many people
do; for they will certainly fail us.
Yes; I know that. He says, Have
an object in view, and keep to it
until you accomplish it,-WORK IT
OUT.' Yes; and I have an object
in view,-I want a new suit of
clothes, and I have taken a job on
purpose to get them,-now let me
WORK IT OUT I wonder how far
they have got ? Oh 'tis such a
pleasant day to go into the woods-
Oh! oh !"
Reflections of this nature came
and went like lights and shadows
70 ROBERT DAWSON.
across my spirit as I lay on the
It's of no use !" I exclaimed
again, springing upon my feet. I
must make up my mind and do
Again I wiped away every trace
of feeling, and began to descend the
ladder, struggling (and it was indeed
a struggle) to feel calm and manly.
"Almost any boy's father can get
him a jacket, but mine cannot. So
there is some reason why I should
work and they play !" and I came
out into the sunshine and approached
"Come now, then! go at it!"
said I; "it is only stick by stick,
and a new suit to pay for it! So
did I put my reluctant hands to
Herein do I exercise (or exert)
myself," said the great Apostle Paul,
" to have always a conscience void
of offence towards God and man."
To obtain this peace of conscience
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 71
we must not only do our duty with
a cheerful and steadfast heart, but
we must repair to the Fountain
which has been opened for the wash-
ing away of all sin and uncleanness.
This is the atoning blood of our
Lord Jesus Christ. We may be
crossed, and disappointed, and mor-
tified in a thousand ways in our
passage through the world, but if
our sins have been forgiven and our
souls renewed, our rejoicing will be
the testimony of a good conscience,
that in simplicity and godly sincer-
ity, not by fleshly wisdom, but by
the grace of God, we have our con-
versation in the world.
Cheerful calmness gradually stole
over me, and I soon began to work
with an alacrity which surprised
even myself; nor yet was it surpris-
ing, as I have since learned. I was
in the way of duty. The bitterness
of the struggle was in the disappoint-
ment. That must soon pass away
before the light of an approving
72 ROBERT DAWSON.
heart. Ahl! it is a violated con-
science which carries the sharp and
bitter sting. All things else are but
shadows, flitting across the sunshine
of our path. They go and leave us
serene as the summer evening.
A long, long time did I pursue my
work, without any interruption, until
I found I gained rapidly on Mr.
Merry ; and by ten o'clock I was
quite out of business. How many
wheel-barrows full I carried to the
inner wood-house and piled up, I
know not, but I had plenty of work
for three hours. I had just brought
back the barrow, and there was not
enough to fill it.
Mr. Merry stopped his saw and
"You may be off and rest ye,"
he said, in a pleasanter tone than
was usual for him. They were the
first words he had spoken, and most
promptly were they obeyed. In a
few moments I was in my mother's
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 73
Is that you, Robert 1" said my
mother, in surprise.
"Why, Robert !" exclaimed Jane
and Mary at once. Have you not
We saw your bread, and cheese,
and pie in the closet, and we did not
know what it all meant; but we
missed your bag. Why, Robert, tell
us how it is that you did not go !"
I stated the case. Jane and Mary
had many comments to make. In
turn they blamed Mr. Merry, the
boys, and myself.
Mr. Merry might have told you
to go, the surly fellow!" cried Jane.
"And the boys might have called
again, I think, in their waggons;
and then Mr. Merry could not have
helped himself," said Mary.
I would have gone at any rate,
work or no work added Jane.
Robert decided the matter him-
self, and acted accordingly. I do
not see that any one is to be blamed,"
said my mother, taking off her spec-
74 ROBERT DAWSON.
tackles, and wiping the glasses with
the corner of her apron.
Meanwhile I was eating a piece
of pie with great relish, and in
silence. This being done, I went
back to work. Another man, with
his saw, was in the yard, and the
business went forward rapidly.
At dinner my sisters again dis-
cussed my day's occupation.
"Do you not think, father,
Robert might have gone just as well
as not ?" asked Jane.
"I think, my dear, that Robert
acted like a boy who has business
that he means to do. He had an
object in view, and he resolved to
accomplish it." And I knew by
my father's tone and manner that
he was satisfied with my conduct.
But he did not know anything about
my struggles on the hay-mow.
About the middle of a cold Satur-
day afternoon, a few days after-
wards, the ten cords of Squire HaIl's
wood were sawed, split, and neatly
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 75
piled up in the wood-house, ready
for winter use. An agreeable sight
it was to look upon. After laying
S the last stick, I got down, and stood
surveying every part of it with deep
interest. There was a degree of
satisfaction in thinking how it had
arisen by my own industry. I
thought how long the work seemed
to be when I laid the first stick;
but, even stick by stick, how fast
the work went on; and now it was
completed! And that even with
Mr. Merry's approval, too; for he
came in with his saw just then.
"You have done your part well,
boy," said he; and they were re-
markable words for Mr. Merry to
use, for he seldom chose to be pleased
with anything a boy did or could
do. He filed his saw, and busied
himself about something, while I
lingered in sight, hoping to hear
something of my pay.
My pay! my pay! I wonder
if he remembers it !"
76 ROBERT DAWSON.
At length, when his saw hung
upon its accustomed peg, he said,
" Well, I suppose you expect some
wages, Robert ?"
Then he went about some other
work. I knew it would not do to
hasten him, so I busied myself in
picking up some nails that had fallen
from an overturned box.
Half-an-hour passed. Mr. Merry
finished a second small job, and then
sat down on a wood-block. He
then very deliberately took out his
pocket-book, and turned over care-
fully some money. My heart beat
It was more money than I was
accustomed to see, much less to
handle. I sat down upon a log,
looking intently at him.
"Robert, I like you. You are
not like other boys. You know
what you are about, and that is
more than some men do. I will
give you eightpence a cord-here !
SQUIRE HALL'S WINTER WOOD. 77
take six shillings and eightpence,
and be off!" and he put the whole
into my hand.
Thank you, sir !" said I, eagerly.
"Thank you, sir." And off I ran
with my precious earnings.
Six shillings and eightpence!
six shillings and eightpence, and I
had tenpence before !" I tried to
put them together, but could not, so
tumultuous were my feelings. But
I will-I will know whether I have
got my new suit or not before I go
a step farther;" and I skipped over
the stone wall like a squirrel, and
sat down by the other side, to calcu-
late the amount of my means. There
I drew the cap over my eyes, and
bent my head towards my knees,
and strove to calm myself for the
counting. Six shillings and eight-
pence-and tenpence-(a shilling all
but twopence)-is seven shillings
I remember it as if it were but
78 ROBERT DAWSON.
"A new suit! a new suit! Mother
said it would cost seven and six-
pence, and I have got it all. ,Yes;
and I have earned it myself, too."
And then, after turning something
like a somerset over the stone wall,
I went home with a new notion of
In the evening I meant to open
the subject of a new suit.
Mother !" I whispered, when she
had washed up the tea-things, and
sat down near me-"Mother, I must
have a new suit of clothes by the Sab-
bath after next: mine are so cold !"
I know they are cold," she an-
swered, in rather a short tone.
Will you buy me pair, mother ?"
I asked-laughing at the corners of
I would if I could, Robert," said
But you can, mother," said I.
She gravely shook her head. "We
want a great many things for winter,
SURPRISE AT HOME. 79
Well, mother, will you buy me
a pair if I will give you the money ?"
You give mother the money !"
cried Jane, who had drawn up to-
wards us. I wonder where you
could get so much ? Robert grows
very fast, in more ways than one;
does he not, mother ?" said she, with
a significant smile.
He will soon be able to earn it,
I hope," said my mother, looking
kindly upon me.
My hand had been in my pocket
for some time, grasping the money,
carefully wrapped up in a piece of
paper; and now I drew it forth.
Unfolding it slowly, I placed it on
my mother's knee, saying trium-
"There, mother; there is the
money to get my clothes. I earned
it with my own hands. Yes, there
Oh!" exclaimed Jane.
"Oh!" echoed Mary, peeping over
80 ROBERT DAWSON.
My father looked up from the book
he was reading.
"Here is the money Robert has
been earning for a new suit !" said
my mother, handing it to him with
Ah that was a glad hour to me.
"I am glad to see you accom-
plishing something, my son; work-
ing out wise and useful purposes,
and then executing them with your
own hands. And when you begin,
resolve never to give up, if it is good
and right to succeed. Put your hand
to the plough, and look not back.
If you make up your mind to do
anything, do it. Oftentimes it is
only through much suffering that
we can achieve a noble work; and
the very conflict and trial give us
new strength and new courage for
the next duty."
In short emphatic sayings like
these did my father imprint great
truths upon us by the earnestness
and force with which he uttered
SURPRISE AT HOME. 81
them. Their value and wisdom we
gradually experienced as we obeyed
them. Was I not then tasting some
of the satisfaction of achievement ?
And did not I feel an increasing
strength for the new duties that
might be before me ?
In due time the cloth was bought
and made up. And with what
hearty interest did I watch every
stitch which my mother took before
me; and how many times did I go
and examine the quality of the cloth
with quite a business-like air !
That blue jacket and trousers-
how pleasant is their memory to
me The finest broadcloths of my
later days can never possess the
charm which invested them. It was
the first successful prosecution, by
myself, of my father's principles, so
carefully taught-to work out, un-
shrinkingly, my own good purposes.
Then I laid the foundation of a habit
to which I owe all my success,-I
PERSEVERED. Then I first began to
82 ROBERT DAWSON.
feel the value of steady, manly, self-
The jacket I kept in my trunk
many years after I had ceased to
wear it. And when I was far away
from the spot where it figured in its
original comeliness-faded, thread-
bare, mended, and darned as it was
-this old jacket was a precious
relic of my boyhood, and often
seemed to inspire my flagging ener-
gies, and excite me to the successful
prosecution of greater and better en-
CHOICE OF A CALLING. 83
Choice of a calling-Preparations for leaving
home-Another lesson of self-denial-My
departure and journey-My new home.
A FEW years more passed away, and
I was reaching the most important
period of my life-the choice of a
calling. My father could do nothing
for me. Of rich relations we could
not boast. Upon myself, then, with
the blessing of God, must I alone
depend. After long deliberation,
and several different unsuccessful ap-
plications, a situation in a printing-
office, in a town some fifty miles off,
was obtained. Printing was my
choice, without, indeed, ever having
seen the inside of a printing-office.
The time was drawing near, and
it was my first departure from home.
What mingled emotions of hope and
fear and expectation filled my bosom!
84 ROBERT DAWSON.
Often have I kept awake during the
night, wondering how it would all
seem in my future residence; plan-
ning how I should get there, and who
would meet me, and what kind of a
man my new master would be. The
October frosts became more frequent.
The leaves already began to cover the
ground, and my preparations must
be hastened, for I had engaged to
be there by the 5th of November.
With what interest do I look back
upon that last month at home, where,
every evening, our little family
assembled around the kitchen fire,
happy in each other's love, and busy
for the one who was soon to leave
it. At one corner sat my father in
his great arm-chair, his pipe on
the oven-shelf beside him (for he
smoked), and Cuff sleeping at his
feet. And there, too, were the
crane and hooks, and the tea-kettle
ever hanging on its own long hook,
and the old iron tongs, too, with
which my father diverted himself in
PREPARING TO LEAVE HOME. 85
laying and relaying the brands,
when anything occurred to discom-
pose his mind.
This autumn found my father in-
creasingly feeble: his cough grew
harder, and the hectic flickered
brightly upon his cheek. His voice
was low and hollow, and yet there
was so much of cheerfulness in all his
intercourse with us, that no one but
the family realized how fast he was
travelling towards the grave.
The 5th of November, as I said,
was the appointed time of my
departure. One day, as Jane was
studying the almanac, she at once
exclaimed, Oh, Robert! I have
discovered something-a piece of
good news for you-oh !" And she
gave several mysterious nods, quite
peculiar to her.
What is it ?" we all asked.
"It is only for Robert;" and she
took me by the hand, and led me
into the bed-room, closing the door.
"Oh, Robert it is only three
86 ROBERT DAWSON.
weeks from Thanksgiving-day
that you go. Now you must not
go until after Thanksgiving. Why,
everybody stays till after Thanks-
giving. I am in earnest. You- "
"I must stay until after Thanks-
giving, I am sure I must," I replied.
" I know Mr. Simpson will not want
me before; it would not be Thanks-
giving away from home,-no, indeed,
it would not! But, father," I added,
after a pause-" father, what will
he say to it, Jane ?"
Why, in the evening, when we
are all sitting together, you ask him,
and we will all join in." Such was
the plan of my sisters,-for Mary
was soon let into the secret revealed
by the almanac.
"I know we can bring it about,"
said the sanguine Jane; and no less
sure was I.
That day, on going along the
road, who should clap me on the
Thanksgiving for harvest, an annual festival
in the New England States.
PREPARING TO LEAVE HOME. 87
shoulder, and give me a boisterous
welcome, but Charley Frazer. Char-
ley and I lived no longer side by
side. His father had removed into
his new house, situated in a different
part of the village. I was very glad
to see Charley. Six months before
that he had left town, to become a
clerk in a shop at Canonbury.
"But, Charley, what are you at
home for ?" I inquired.
"Oh! I came home to spend
Thanksgiving; but I do not know
that I shall go back again,-the
work is so hard there."
"I thought a clerk's work was
"No; I do not call it easy to be
on your feet from morning till night.
Besides, Mr. Jones says, if I take so
many vacations, he does not think
I shall do for him; just as if one
could work all the time."
"But people must stick to their
business, Charley," said I. "That
is what my father always says."
88 ROBERT DAWSON.
"What! all the time, and have
no fun? Mother says it is too bad to
tie up boys so. I came off so long
beforeThanksgiving, I suppose hewill
have to get somebody to help him.
For my part, I am glad to get rid
of work; and I do not care a snap
whether I go back again or not."
I looked at Charley, in his new
suit of blue broadcloth, with a bright
and animated smile upon his face,
and with a freedom and joyousness of
manner, that could not fail to strike
any one. I think a faint emotion
of envy, at least of regret, sprung up
within me, at the contrast of our situ-
ations. Charley was rich, and could
do as he pleased. I was poor, and
must stoutly work for my living.
"And you will not go until after
ThIl:,-giving, will you, Robert?
Well, then, I am for having some
capital fun-some first-rate times,-
will we not ?" And he threw his
arm around my shoulder as he used
to do when we were younger.
PREPARING TO LEAVE HOME. 89
"My time is fixed to go on the
5th of November; but since Thanks-
giving-day is so near, Jane and Mary
say I ought to stay, and I think so,
What does your father say ?"
I have not said anything to him
yet," I replied, with many misgivings
as to the result of such an applica-
Oh well, you shall not go.
Why, it will be too bad Of course
your father will let you stay. It
cannot make much difference-in-
deed, it cannot make any difference
that I see. Only two weeks Ask
your father this very evening,-
We parted, and I resolved to do
as Charley advised. Evening came,
and we were sitting, as usual, around
the kitchen fire-place.
"Mother, only think-it is but
two weeks before Thanksgiving, that
I am to go." So I opened the
matter with some palpitation of
90 ROBERT DAWSON.
heart, feeling that something very
agreeable was at stake.
I thought of it when Mr. Simp-
son's letter was read," answered my
Thought of it, and said nothing!
-that is unfavourable," I said to
myself. So it seemed, and I had
not courage to go on.
"Yes, mother; I am sure he ought
not to go until after Thanksgiving.
There is no need of it. Robert
could not learn much in two weeks."
So Jane took up the matter.
"Boys are always at home Thanks-
giving," added Mary. "Poor Robert,
how lonely he would be, thinking of
us all day, away from home i"
"Charley Frazer has come home.
I saw him to-day," said I.
My father continued to smoke his
pipe, and my mother to ply her
needle. Not a word from either.
Mother, don't you think it would
be pleasanter to have Robert here ?"
PREPARING TO LEAVE HOME. 91
"A great deal pleasanter," an-
swered my mother, feelingly.
"Then he ought to stay, I think.
It is only a fortnight! It will pass
away very soon," said Mary.
And perhaps we may never be
all together again," added Jane.
As I looked at my father, I felt
that there was little reason to expect
a long continuance of the family
circle unbroken. Oh, that I might
At that moment we heard foot-
steps at the door, and Charley
entered. A hearty shaking of hands
followed, for he was a great favourite
at our house.
"I want you to let Robert stay
until after Thanksgiving, sir," he
said, turning his fine, fair face to-
wards my father. "It is too bad he
should go before Besides, a fort-
night cannot make much difference."
"Difference in what, Charles?"
asked my father, pleasantly survey-
92 ROBERT DAWSON.
"Why, sir, in what he can learn,
or any thing he could do for Mr.
Simpson," he answered.
"It would certainly make a great
difference in his promptness and
punctuality to his engagement," con-
tinued my father; and as to his
use-perhaps that will be likely to
depend upon what kind of a boy
Robert means to be. Mr. Simpson
wrote expressly for him to come by
the 5th, and it is to be presumed
he knows his business wants better
than we can know them." He
paused, and there was a general
silence, interrupted only by the
snapping of the fire.
It would certainly be agreeable
for Robert to stay with us," resumed
my father; "very agreeable; but it
is an important question, how far we
shall let our feelings of pleasure in-
terfere in matters of duty. We have
had some difficulty in getting Robert
a situation, and by this delay he
might lose it. Jane says it is just
LESSONS ON SELF-DENIAL. 93
as well for him to stay. I do not
know how we can undertake to de-
cide that point exactly. In my own
experience, I never saw that it was
'just as well' to give up a duty for
the sake of securing a pleasure; and
I believe it is never 'just as well.'
If we do it once, we may do it twice;
and who can tell how many times
afterwards ? Robert is now com-
mencing business. He will find, in
the business world, a great many
difficult and disagreeable circum-
stances. Now, the true way to get
rid of them is not to turn about and
run away, but to face them; tonight
through them; to meet them with a
true, manly heart. What you have
got to do, do, and do it without
shrinking or complaining.
That is the only true way, Char-
ley-the only true way, Robert.
Remember it, boys. It is so in the
business world. It is just so in the
Christian life. The Christian life is
called a fight, a warfare, a race.
94 ROBERT DAWSON.
Does the brave soldier shrink, and
turn back, and flee, when difficulties
are to be encountered, or dangers
are to be met? Does he fight the
good fight of faith, who shuns trials,
and seeks his own ease and pleasure,
rather than to do and suffer the will
of God with meekness and patience ?
And in the common business of life,
do we find that man successful and
prosperous who cries out at the sight
of obstacles and crosses,-' It is too
bad! It is really too bad!' No,
boys; such is the language of drones
and sluggards. We must wake up
to the true business of life,-to serve
God and our generation day by day,
and humbly hope for a blessed rest
through Jesus Christ our Lord, be-
yond the grave. Robert must go at
the appointed time, and go with a
firm, self-relying heart."
Charley looked into the fire, and
listened. To him this was, indeed,
a new lesson. The question was
decided, and for me the pleasures of
MY DEPARTURE. 95
a "Thanksgiving at home must be
The 5th of November came apace.
The morning was grey and cold. I
pulled the bed-clothes over my head,
and should have enjoyed one more
nap. But no; I must up and do
my work; and "Up up !" I cried
to myself. But the flesh is very
weak. I arose, dressed, and went
into the wood-shed to get some
kindling-wood. There lay the old
axe-so long and faithfully used.
"The last time," did I exclaim, with
pain, swinging it high in the air.
Then the green sled, hanging upon
its summer peg, caught my eye. I
took it down and examined the iron
on the runners-" all right,"-and
then I dashed away the unbidden
tear, crying inwardly, "I must be-
have like a man." I flew into the
kitchen with my kindling-wood.
When the flames grew bright, my
mother came down, and we had
pleasant words together.
96 ROBERT DAWSON.
I sat down in the chimney-corner,
to make the holes and put some
leather strings into my new cow-
hide shoes. Every now and then
did I follow my mother with a lov-
ing look, as she ground the coffee,
or set the table, or baked the cakes
Breakfast was a sad time, though
my father spoke cheerfully. The
family altar was surrounded. My
father's voice trembled and broke,
as he prayed for me. Tears flowed
freely, and hearts were full of sym
pathy and strong emotion.
I was to depart on foot--a bundle
in my hand, containing a change of
clothes and a Bible, and half-a-crown
in my pocket. A baggage-waggon,
belonging to a neighboring town,
was to take my trunk a week later.
Some dough-nuts and cheese my
kind mother put up, and slipped
into my pocket, to eat by the way,
Robert," said she, smiling through
MY DEPARTURE. 97
"Here, Robert," said my father;
"here is a walking-stick to help you
on-a stout one, too."
I had noticed how carefully he
had smoothed and fashioned it, a
few days before.
Jane looked out at the window
sorrowfully. Cuff was whining in
the cellar, where he was fastened, to
prevent his accompanying me on
How long, after I was ready, did I
make believe I was not ready This
little thing, and that, was still to be
seen to, until I could find no excuse
to do more. I stood up by the fire
and buttoned up my coat. Ah! the
last good-bye!-I will not describe it.
I ran from the door down the
road, without looking back, echoing
my father's words, "A stout heart,
Robert! a stout heart!" Oh the
long, weary miles of that first day
At the close of the second day, I