The Baldwn Library
C .9 Y.' r
wLx4 4r G~
THE BRAVE SPIRIT.
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE.
THE BRAVE SPIRIT.
THE most interesting event of our family his-
tory, during my tenth year, was the purchase of
a cow. My father had a patch of land two
miles off, large enough to pasture a cow, and he
well thought her 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 for our berries, butter
for our bread, to say nothing of occasional
cheeses made by my mother in an antiquated
cheese-press, an heir-loom of her family. Next
to Cuff, the cow might have been called the pet,
at least in the esteem of Jane, Mary, and my-
6 oberl .Dawson.
"And who is going to drive the cow to pas-
ture, father ?" 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 responsibility: and for some
time this duty was discharged with great alacrity.
The weather was fine, "our cow" was still a no-
velty, and above all, my friend, Charley Frazier,
had his cow to drive a mile in the same direc-
tion. One difference in our cow-driving duties
soon became manifest, and it was not long be-
fore it sorely afflicted me. Charley only drove
his-cow in pleasant weather, while I had to drive
mine in all weathers, just as it happened, rain
"or shine. Now Charley was a stout boy, and
nearly two years older than myself, and I did
not see any reason whyhe should not drve his
cow when I could mine. No: that was not ex-
"actly 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 rainy weather.. I am not
AMy Parents. 7
going in rainy weather. Not I. I do not like
to." So said Charley, as he lounged idly over
"Well, I have to go," said I, pitying myself.
"I would not. It is too bad to be obliged to
go, carrying a great heavy umbrella all the way.
Mother 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
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 hardship.
"I wonder if father thinks I am tougher than
anybody else ? Charley Frazier is older than
I am;" and I had a new fit of brooding over
the matter, quite natural to me.
A cold rain came pattering upon the windows
one morning in October. 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 clothes.
"Robert !" presently called my father, at the
8 Robert Dawson.
foot of the stairs. It was his usual summons
before going out to milking.
I am not awake yet, sir," said I to myself,
getting further down, and resolving to sleep
again. Who does not know that sleep, vigo-
rously wooed, is never won? I was wide
After a time, I heard my father's steps return-
ing from the barn.
Father has done his part, ought I not to do
mine ?" was a suggestion that tried to find its
way fairly into my heart, but I answered it with
"No: 'tis too bad to go two miles in the rain
such a morning as this !"
"Robert, my son, get up; the cow is ready to
go to pasture." No answer. "Robert !" a little
louder. "Robert!" louder yet. No response.
Presently his step was on the stair. It was a
slow and feeble step, for he was an invalid. I
began to breathe heavily; he entered the cham-
ber, 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;
My Parents. 9
jump up !" All this he said with a cheerful, in-
"Oh! it rains, father !" I began to say, but
he was gone. There was no help for dressing
and coming downstairs; but my disposition
to rebel brought an ugly pout upon my lips.
Come," said my mother, when I at last ap-
peared; "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 muttering lower, "I guess
Charley's mother would not let him go out 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 en-
tered the kitchen door. I supposed he was
"Are you ill this morning, Robert?"
"No, father; I am not ill, but it rains.
Charley Frazier does not go to pasture except
in pleasant weather, and none of the other boys
o1 Robert Dawson.
go my way." My tone was deprecating. Some-
how 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 remarks to these I had often heard ad-
dressed to Charley Frazier by his parents, when
having pitifully represented his case, he was re-
lieved from some disagreeable duty. "I wish I
was as well off,"-I said to myself a hundred
times, when I beheld Charley at liberty, while I
was tugging 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 drops at a time. Can you not do that, Ro-
bert? Make up your mind, now, and act like
a man." His tone was both courageous and
encouraging, and his fine eye was fixed earnestly
My Parents. r
upon me. Only a few drops at a time I
inwardly repeated it once, and the great, huge,
leviathan shower seemed actually to dwindle
down in an instant, to only a few drops at a
"Yes, father," I answered briskly, in spite of
myself. The shoes were no longer heavy, nor
the umbrella 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. Pass-
ing 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 afew drops at a time, Charley. Make
up your mind to it, and you will find it is
nothing," said I-marching by with the agree-
able consciousness of something gained, which
I would not have exchanged with any boy. I
now know that it was the experience of the
great art of grappling with difficulties, rather
than avoiding them. It is not to grumble about
'2 Robert Dawson.,
them and magnify them-no: but to meet
them with a brave heart. 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 reli-
gion :-That we know not what shall be on the
morrow, but sufficient unto the day is the evil
THE ARITHMETIC LESSON-EXAMPLE
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 in deed, and children in cha-
racter, are often ready enough to act from im-
pulse or circumstances, and make great achieve-
ments; 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 wit/
our might whatsoever our hands find to do.
This habit cannot be begun too early, and it
The Seventh Example. 3
can only be successfully cultivated in a child,
by making him feel that there is power enough
in parental authority to compel obedience. He
must understand that from "you must," there is
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 satisfaction!
What a length and breadth of proportion one
feels! I well remember how I seemed to fill
up the whole school-room with my little self.
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 principles and rules which
we had just been studying. The committee of
examination, on such occasions, usually visited
the school, and each scholar felt desirous of
making a creditable appearance. On this occa-
sion I raced home with my slate and pencil;
and, with great alacrity, finished splitting and
14 .Robert Dazeson.
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 remember
how we all sat by the small deal table, of those
long-gone days: my mother with her darning;
my sisters braiding palm-leaf hats, wherewith to
add their mite to our family means, while I was
working at my arithmetic, with all the diligence
I was master of. With the first,. second, and
third sums there was no difficulty; nor was
there 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. "Oh, I cannot stop all this
evening on the seventh!" said I, impatiently.
"Father must tell me." And I began to play
with my sister's palm-leaves.
"But do you not remember," said Jane,
"that father never tells you how to do test ex-
amples ? He always says he is ready enough to
explain all about the rules as you go along, but
The Seventh Example. 15
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
Why, Robert, he never does help you in
test sums. He says you can, and you must do
"And you know father never alters his mind,"
"But I am up at the head now, Mary; father
would rather help me than let me go down, I
guess; right in the face and eyes of the com-
mittee, too; would he not, mother ?"
"Would he not be likely to think, if you can-
not maintain your place by yourself, that you
are not worthy of it ?" asked my mother, look-
ing 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
16 Robert Dawson.
the while I was inwardly declaring I could not
do it. Of what use is effort, unless one believes
that effort can accomplish something ?
The sum remained as intricate as ever. In
fact, I would not make the exertion even of try-
ing fairly and bravely. It began to grow late,
and father did not come home. Jane and Mary
kissed mother and went away to bed; I nestled
close beside her. "Mother, I wish when you
were a girl, you had studied this arithmetic, so
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
oat my sums.
I am very sorry my dear boy prefers being
told, to studying it out himself," she answered,
"Mother, I cannot!" declared I, knocking
my heavy cow-hide shoes against the legs of her
"Cannot is a lazy drone," said she.
"And what is can, mother ?" I merrily said.
"A smart, brisk, persevering creature, that
2he Seventh Exailnf. 17
stands on his own legs, and does not need to
use other people's." Alas how many bright
prospects and fair hopes has that same lazy
drone overcast and blasted! How many have
met some flattering temptation, and when reason
and conscience have cried out-Resist Flee !
-they have drawled out a languid "I cannot I"
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 dar-
ling 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
Hark! The front door opened, and my
father's step was heard in the entry. "What,
my son, up still 1" he exclaimed on entering;
"I hope the lesson is well learned. I suppose
it must be by this time."
18 Robert Dawson.
"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.
"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 an-
xiety did I watch his face: "So hard !" I mut-
tered every now and 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. Besides, you must support your
present position in the class by your own exer-
tions, or you are not worthy of it."
"Oh, father !" I exclaimed bitterly.
"It is late, now, my dear," he said, patting
The Seventh Exanjmle. 9
my head. "Go to bed now, and rise early.
Make up your mind to do that sum and then do
it. I want to see you sustain yourself honour-
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 sup-
pose I awoke refreshed and grateful, and longing
to begin study ? Oh, no I although I enjoyed a
sleep so sweet, and awoke in the bright, early
dawn, as soon as I thought of my arithmetic I
began to kick the clothes and toss about in
bed, and to declare I did not feel like looking
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 help me."
Ungrateful boy! I forgot my prayers and
all good thoughts while I lay there, dreading
and shrinking from duty. The consequence
20 Robert Dawson.
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 like showing myself to my
parents, nor did I feel as keen an appetite for
breakfast as usual. I feared they would pene-
trate 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 give
The Seventh Example. 2
me an excuse ? I have just got home from pas-
ture, 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
"Do you honestly think you deserve one,
Robert ?" he asked, seriously.
"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 son ?"
Yes, father," I would have said, but the
effort died in my throat. He still rested from
his work, his eyes fixed on mine, and mine fixed
on the chip.
"No, father," I faintly articulated; for I well
knew there was no such thing as deceiving him
in such a matter.
I am very glad to see you dealing 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 honestly give you an excuse,
S2 Robert Dawson.
because I think your 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 might easily have done,
had you really tried. Make up your mind to do
anything, and you can do it."
Knowing it was in vain to argue the case, I
escaped from the wood-house.
I hate the school, and my arithmetic, and
everything !" cried I, aloud, when fairly beyond
the hearing 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 con-
quered by them, that is unhappy, discontented,
I went into the kitchen for my books, where
my pitiful and complaining look and tone
wrought upon the sympathies of my sister
Mary. Oh, mother poor Robert will get
down, he will, I know; and the school com-
mittee will be there, too. Oh, mother do ask
father to write him an excuse. Do, mother."
The Seventh Exanple. 23
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." Then I wiped my face, and sorrow-
fully left them.
On my way to school I met one and another
of the boys, and sympathy enough did I find.
Joe Hill's mother had given him an excuse, and
in consequence, he had been on the playground
full an hour and a half. Sam Jones had an ex-
cuse. Bill Farley declared, flatly, he knew he
could not do the lesson, and would not even
try. Charley Frazier, where is he? Soon we
espied Charley bounding over the green, ap-
proaching 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 satis-
24 Robert Dawson.
"Easy enough !" scornfully repeated Bill
Farley; "I don't know where the easy is, for
"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
"I'll join you. Come, who's for a game of
bat and ball ?" shouted Charley.
Charley Frazier thinks the lesson easy
enough, and I could not do it !" The idea
fastened itself on me. In truth, I had enter-
tained no very high opinion of Charley's abi-
lities, but now they rose much in my estima-
"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 yester-
day, Charley. Come now," I besought him;
"come, and I will lend you my new knife just
The Seventh Example. 25
when you want it,-my best knife.' He un-
willingly suffered himself to be 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 explain the sixth.
"The seventh-the seventh, Charley. I
know well enough about the sixth," I cried, im-
"Well, the seventh," added Charley, 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 much puzzled.
But it's just nothing at all, unless we can
"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 them ? For mother said it was too
26 Robert Dawson.
bad, I should get down in my class, just because
I could not do them. Now, do not you tell,
will you, Robert ?"
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.
"Pooh !" I inwardly exclaimed; "people do
make miserable shifts to get along easy, as
father says. I will try, and 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 master him."
And now I began to work in earnest. I read
over the example, and meant to understand it.
I began to cypher, and meant to work 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
The Seven'/h Example. 27
save multitudes from present uselessness and
from eternal suffering.
"Bob! Bob! come out here; come we
have a plan on foot !" cried Sam Jones, opening
the school-room door, and beckoning me thither.
I looked up and shook my head.
"Come !" shouted Charley, peeping 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 up-
on the column of figures.
"Business !" they shouted merrily; "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. Then away they ran
to the playground.
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
28 Robert Dawson.
surprised to find how slight an interruption all
this proved to be; and I now see that it was
just because my mind 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 labouring upon the memorable
seventh, and it was done! yes, done! and I
could explain every step of the process. How
grateful to my mind was the pleasure of achieve-
ment! As I stood in the class that day, I
knew I had earned my position. I had bought
it with the price of effort, and I valued it
accordingly. Ah my father understood how
fine a thing it is to make us rely properly upon
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
I thought young Hill and Jones belonged
The Sevenfh Exaample. 29
to this class," said Squire Hall, one of the com-
mittee; at the same time looking around to see
where they were.
"Their parents wish them to be excused
from the recitation," answered 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 it was generally formed upon true
grounds, and his estimate of character was al-
most invariably correct. Jones and Hill hung
down their heads when his eye searched them
"Some of the boys have done themselves
great credit," remarked the Squire, when the
class was dismissed. "They seem to under-
stand what they are about; it is not parrot-talk."
He certainly looked very much gratified, and so
did those of us who had earned the commenda-
"! I will not study arithmetic-I declare I will
30 Robert Dawson.
not !" exclaimed Charley, in a pet, as we went
out of school together.
Charley, if you would only do your examples
yourself, you would like it. There is nothing
like helping one's self, depend upon it," said I,
feeling strong, manly, and self-relying, from the
morning's victory over myself. How different
was our training !
THE NEW SUIT OF CLOTHES.
ALTHOUGH our family always contrived 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
extent, in outdoor 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 parents is asso-
The New Suit of Clolhes. 31
cited 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. Schoolboy as I was, some-
times by cutting wood, or going to mill, or plant-
ing, or harvesting 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
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 trowsers had dropped all ac-
quaintance 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 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-
32 Roicrt Dawson.
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 would
give her Jane's bonnet to touch, and all mother's
old shoes, and her old red shawl. Then it
might be as handsome as father says it was when
he brought it home from sea. Yes; and I
would give her the old bellows, too; then I
would not have such a fuss building the fire,
mornings. I would give her a good assortment
of things, if she could come."
"Who come ?"
"Pooh there are no such things as fairies;
and father says, 'What is the use in brooding
over what cannot be ?' Yes; what is the use ?"
"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
2Te AcNew Suit of Clothes. 33
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
my 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 twinkle ?"
Oh, well do I remember how delightfully the
thought struck me In very joy I seized my
small pillow, threw it up in the air and caught
it. Then jumping out of bed, I hopped round
the room, playing curious antics all by myself
while engaged in the more serious occupation
of dressing. How to earn the desired sum
began to engage my attention. "Yes, how ?
That is the question." I mused on how."
" I cannot braid palm-leaf-that is Mary's and
Jane's work. Mr. Jones's harvesting is about
over. I do not know of anybody that wants
wood cut. If I could go into the woods and
dig up and sell sassafras roots, now that would
be something: but they do not buy them here.
34 Robert Dawson.
Jim Crout says they sell them to druggists, and
I am sure we have no such people here." I
took down my clothes from the peg and held
them up before me. "They are shorter than
ever. They grow shorter every week, it seems
to me." A very natural result, by-the-way.
"I'll have a new pair; I'll earn them, too.
' Where there is a will there is a way.' That is
often said, and I believe it." Such were the
beginnings of the new purpose which I resolved
On the way to school that morning, Sam
Jones joined me. I say, Bob, did you know
Charles French is very ill of fever ? He is, and
he had the doctor 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 who has Mr. French got to attend the
shop ?" I added, quickly.
Sam did not know; and what was Sam's sur-
prise to behold me posting off in an opposite
direction from school, without saying one word
The New Suit of Clothes. 35
more. For nearly a mile did I continue my
trot, until quite out of breath. There was but
one shop in that part of the village where we
resided, and it was kept by Mr. French at the
And a various stock it was, truly; for who
could enumerate the contents 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
step, 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 tub near the
door. No one but Mr. French himself was be-
hind the counter, and he looked very sad. He
had his hands full of work, supplying 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 he think I know
36 Robert Dawson.
enough to help him ?" As the customers be-
came supplied they went out, even to the last.
My heart beat quickly.
"Well, my boy, what do you want?" as!;cd
Mr. French. I arose from the tub, 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 ill, sir," at last I sum-
moned 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 sensa-
tion arose in my throat.
"If you had offered yourself half an hour
before, Robert, I do not know but I should
have taken you, 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
The New Suit of Clothes. 37
till Charles gets better. You go to school, do
you not, Robert ?"
"Yes, sir ; but I thought if I could hire my.
self out a little while, it would not be so much
matter; I can write and cipher evenings with
And as I ventured 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 waistcoat, 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 regret.
"Is Charles very ill, sir ?" I asked.
"Well, I am afraid so; I am afraid so,"
answered Mr. French, sorrowfully. "There
comes the doctor's gig, now;" and at that mo-
ment the horse stopped at one of the posts be-
fore the door.
I should like to have employed you, Robert,
though I suppose it would ha\ e been new busi-
ness to you; but- By this time he met
the doctor, and they went round together, to
38 Robert Dawson.
the door which opened into his house, adjoining
"Well," I sighed,-as I walked away.-
"tending shop is not the only business. Poor
Charles I am sorry he is ill. 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 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 is cer-
"Well, but we must have some meal, Mr.
Giles," said Mrs. Giles.
"I suppose so, and I must try and get some.
The New Stuit of Clothes. 39
body to go, I guess; but everybody is so busy
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
"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 ear.
Robert," said Mr. Giles, turning round, can
you go to mill for me this morning ?"
Yes, sir; just as soon as I have finished my
stint of digging potatoes," answered 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 look-
40 Roberl Dawson.
"How long before you will get done your
job ?" said my employer.
"In about three-quarters of an hour."
I'll have the horses harnessed, 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 waggon.
"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 take 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
The New Suit of Clothes. 41
hole in the garden fence, and returned to my
And now fancy me on the way to mill. I
was fairly in business, and not losing my studies,
either; for I should have said that the master
had been called home by a sudden death in his
father's family, and we were enjoying a few days'
Now, how shall I sell my corn ?" was the
next question that occupied 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 final conclusion.
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 cus-
tomers of the mill, and I heartily wished that I
might not have to transact any business with
him. "He was a hard man for a bargain." So
said the people round; while the miller's son
4.2 Robert Dawesont.
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, al-
though Tom must have numbered twenty-five
years of his life, he still was known to all the
country simply as Tom; and a better fellow
could not have been found. "Tom," said I,
" will you grind my corn-six bushels ?"
"Try to," answered Tom; "who is it
It's Mr. Giles's corn; and, Tom, 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 worth, now."
"How much are you going to sell ?" asked a
man who was walking in and out.
"A peck," answered I.
"No great sale," remarked the man.
The New Suit of Clothes. 43
"He only wants enough to get a pipe and
tobacco." Tom meant to be droll.
"No, Tom; I am going to earn me a new
suit of clothes, and the money for my corn is
going towards it. I hope I shall get enough be-
fore the cold weather sets in."
"How much have you now ?" asked Tom.
"Nothing, yet. I am in hopes I shall take
my first earnings to-day; so I offered to do this
job 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 will."
"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 carrying, which was added to the miller's
heap, and the rest was poured into the hopper.
Then I went away to look about the pleasant
precincts of the mill. There was the water
44 Robert Dawson.
dashing 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 by the 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
"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. Even if I should live to be a man,
my ideas about such things may change very
much. I am sure 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 Crea-
The New Suit of Clothes. 45
tor. 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 promises 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 conclusion 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. That evening I reached home, the happy
possessor of twenty cents.
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 trunk
46 Robert Dawson.
which was carefully kept in the upper drawer of
my mother's bureau. The money already earned
was but a small part of that which was neces-
sary for my purpose ; and I began to look about
for something else to do.
Some of the boys (myself among the num-
ber) 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 village had but one. On this, at long inter-
vals from each other, stood the principal houses,
among which the school-house and the meeting-
house were, of course, regarded as the most
"There goes Squire Hall's winter wood," re-
marked Charley Frazier. 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
Hall's oxen, followed. Some of the boys sup-
ported the claims of a pair that Major Brooks
The New Suit of Clothes. 47
owned, but they made a feeble stand against the
acknowledged merits of Squire Hall's.
I wish I could help pile that wood," thought
I. "Squire Hall has got one man less than he
used to have. I wonder if he would not em-
ploy me? One can never know till one tries,
father says; so I'll try."
When school closed in the afternoon, I de-
termined 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 atten-
tion-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
workman, just then came along from the field.
"Mr. Merry," said I, "do you not think
Squire Hall will let me help pile his wood ?"
"You How much could you pile, I wonder ?"
he asked, in a surly tone.
48 Robert Dawson.
"Try me, and see."
"I do not want any boys about me. They
are more plague than profit," growled Mr.
Merry, as he turned his back upon me. But I
was resolved not to be discouraged.
"I can just ask the Squire himself," thought
I. "There can be no harm in asking; and
father says we must not let little obstacles
frighten us." 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, wondering 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 sunset began to creep over
"If I 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 ap-
2Te New Suit of Clothes. 49
preached the front gate. "Perhaps 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 "No-
body is near !" So I hastened to meet him.
As I drew near I pulled off my cap and made
a respectful bow. He stopped.
"Will you please to let me help pile your
wood, sir ?" said I, blushing up to the very eye-
"What is your name? I see you often!"
And he looked searchingly at me.
Robert Dawson, sir."
"Hem! ah, yes; Robert-Robert Dawson.
I know you. Well, you want to pile my wood,
"Can you pile wood as well as you can ci-
pher, Robert?" he asked. "I remember you
at the school. Does Mr. Merry want you?
He's the man to ask."
go Robert Dawson.
"No, sir," answered I, with great sim city,
"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 bare toes.
"You cannot do much in these short days,"
"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 disappointment, for
he added-" We will see, Robert I 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 a few moments, in busy
thought. Then crossing the street, I raced
home over the dry leaves and short turfs on the
The New Suit of Clothes. 51
other side of the road. 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 the corner.
"Halloo, there !" some one shouted. "Hal-
loo, boy !" It came from Squire Hall's yard.
"Come over here."
I looked up, and there was Mr. Merry, beckon-
ing to me.
"You're the boy that wants some work, are
you ?" said he, as I scampered 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
Then I went upon my errand with great glee.
"Work to do! work to do I" was all I could
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
52 Robert Dawson.
playground, 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, carry-
ing 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 weather 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 possesses uncom-
mon interest. I believe 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
Frazier, and Sam Jones, and all the boys whom
I saw, talked of my going as a thing of course.
The New Suit of Clotes. 53
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 my nuts.
"Then you will go, will you not ?" said Jane.
I shall not be sure till to-morrow morning,"
said I, between fear and hope. "I can tell
better when I see Mr. Merry again."
"Do go !" added Mary. Do go, Robert !"
My parents offered no advice in the case.
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, brim-
tal of delightful anticipations from the day's
excursion. It was a wonderfully fine day in
54 Robert Dawson.
the Indian summer,-days that are like a smile
on the stern and grave face of November: I
did not for a moment doubt, that within two
hours we should be on our winding way to the
I will be sure and go over to see Mr. Merry
first;" and away were my steps bent towards
the Squire's. "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
"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
There was a sly and wicked expression in
his tone and manner, which he usually wore
when he had outwitted or overreached any of
The New Suit of Clothes. 55
the boys with whom he had anything to do.
The truth is, Mr. Merry did not like boys.
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 job; for if I go now
Mr. Merry will never let me come back again."
These were my second thoughts.
By-and-by the gate opened, and in rushed
Charley Frazier, Sam Jones, and two or three
others into the yard.
"Where are you?" shouted Charley. "I
have been hunting everywhere after you Your
father said he guessed 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 hurry hurry !"
"What a noise," snarled Mr. Merry.
"I cannot go !" said I, at last; for I have
taken this job and I must do it."
56 Robert Dawson.
Oh Mr. Merry will let you go 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 somebody 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
Come out here !" said I, drawing them out-
side the gate, just to get away from the pre-
sence of Mr. Merry.
A noisy discussion followed.
No, Charley; I am not going. I have
taken the job, and I mean to go straight through
it. Father says, 'We must not back out for
small things.'" Such was my settled, yet pain-
It is too bad !-Pile wood all day 1" cried
one. That great pile !"
"Only stick by stick," said I, 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.
Tle New Suit of Clothes. 57
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 depart-
ing 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 some-
thing would turn up, 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 saw-saw-saw !
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 tell
me to go. If Squire Hall would only happen
to be out in the yard, and the boys here, too I
then I was sure Squire Hall would bid me go,
and let me complete the job when I could.
My ears were open to every sound I worked
with a quick, excited movement, as if I were on
58 Robert Dawson.
the eve of a rescue. My heart beat violently.
The nutting fields never seemed so charming
-the excursion never appeared 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 condescended 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 the cracking of
their whips, and the voices of their drivers-
five,--six! I mounted the wood-pile and be-
held them. There they went! gallop trot!
speed away! speed away! full of animation
and joyful anticipation I and I-I was actually
Nothing happened to relieve me from my
duties. Tears of bitter disappointment rushed
to my eyes, and blinded the sight of the
The New Suit of Clothes. 59
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, gather-
ing 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 ex-
clamation. "Mr. Merry might have said, Go
Robert! and do your work after you get
home.' 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 with-
out 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 ac-
complish it,-WORK IT OUT.' Yes; and I have
60 Robert Dawson.
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!
Reflections of this nature came and went like
lights and shadows across my spirit, as I lay on
"It's of no use," I exclaimed again, springing
upon my feet. "I must make up my mind,
and do it."
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
the wood-pile. 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 their duty.
The New Suit of Clothes. 6
Herein do I exercise (or exert) myself, said
the great Apostle Paul, to have always a con-
science void of offence towards God and man.
To obtain this peace of conscience 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 washing away of
all sin and uncleanness. This is the atoning
blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We may be
crossed, and disappointed, and mortified 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 sincerity, not by fleshly wisdom, but
by the grace of God, we have our conversation
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 sur-
prising, as I have since learned. I was in the
way of duty. The bitterness of the struggle
was in the disappointment. That must soon pass
62 Robert Dawson.
away before the light of an approving heart.
Ah it is a violated conscience 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
A long, long time did I pursue my work,
whlio0lit any interrupton, until TIound I gained
rapidly on Mr. Merry; and by Ten o'cTMIo"T
was quite out of usness. How mai -
barrowsful I carriedto the inner wood-house
and pnup I now not, but 'ad e f
work for three hours. I had just brought back
the barrow, an T ere was not enoughg" to fill
it. iTTMerry stopped his saw and looked
Y6a 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 kitchen.
"Is that you, Robert ?" said my mother, in
The New Suit of Clothes. 63
"Why, Robert !" exclaimed Jane and Mary,
at once. Have you not gone ?"
"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
brute !" 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.
"At any rate I would have gone, work or no
work!" added Jane.
"Robert decided the matter himself, and
acted accordingly. I do not see that any one
is to be'blamed," said my mother, taking off
her spectacles 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
64 Robert Dawson.
went back to work. Another man, with his
saw, was in the yard, and the business went
At dinner my sisters again discussed my day's
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 Saturday after-
noon, a few days afterwards, the ten lots of
Squire Hall's wood were sawed, split, and
neatly piled up in the wood-house, ready for
winter use. An agreeable sight it was, to look
upon. After laying 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.
2 ze New Suit of Clothes. 65
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 remarkable 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 re-
At length when his saw hung upon its ac-
customed 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
66 Robert Dawson.
hour passed. Mr. Merry finished a second
small job, and then sat down on a wood-block.
He then very deliberately took out his wallet,
and turned over carefully some bank-notes. My
heart beat quickly. "A bank-note Surely he
cannot mean to give me a bank-note !" thought
I. It was more money than I was accustomed
to see, much less to handle. I sat down upon
a log, looking intently at him.
"Bob, 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 a
shilling a lot-here! take ten shillings and be
"Thank you, sir !" said I, eagerly. Thank
you, sir !" And off I ran with my precious
"Ten shillings ten shillings !"-so tumultu-
ous 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 New Suit of Clothes. 67
the other side, to calculate the amount of my
I remember it as if it were but yesterday.
"A new suit! a new suit Mother said it
would cost nearly ten shillings, and that I have
got. Yes; and I have earned it myself, too !"
And then, after turning something like a somer-
set over the stone wall, I went home with a new
notion of myself. In the evening I meant to
open the subject of a new suit.
At an early hour on Saturday evening, all
work was put aside. Our parents felt that holy
time was at hand, and the evening was usually
passed with our catechism or Bible, or in quiet
and serious conversation.
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 Sunday after next: mine are so
"I know they are cold," she answered, in
rather a short tone.
68 Robert Dawson.
"Will you buy me a suit, mother ?" I asked,
-laughing at the corners of my mouth.
I would if I could, Robert," said she.
But you can, mother !" said I.
She gravely shook her head-" We want a
great many things for winter, Robert."
"Well, mother, will you buy me a suit if I
give you the money ?"
You give mother the money !" cried Jane,
who had drawn up towards us. "I wonder
where you could get so much ? Robert grows
very fast; 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 triumphantly, "There, mother;
there is the money to get my clothes. I earned
it with my own hands. Yes; there is the bill,
and there is the shining silver !"
The New Suit of Clothes. 69
"Oh !" exclaimed Jane.
Oh!" echoed Mary, peeping over Jane's
My father looked up from the book he was
Here is the money Robert has been earning
for a new suit !" said my mother, handing it to
him with evident delight.
Ah that was a glad hour to me.
"I am glad to see you accomplishing some-
thing, my son; working 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
In short, emphatic sayings like these did my
father imprint great truths upon us by the ear-
70 Robert Dawson.
nestness and force with which he uttered
Their value and wisdom we gradually expe-
rienced 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 satinet 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, unshrinkingly, my own goodpurposes. Then
I laid the foundation of a habit to which I owe
all my success-I PERSEVERED. Then I first
began to feel the value of steady, manly, self-
The New Suit of Clothes. 7
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, threadbare, mended,
and darned as it was-this old jacket was a pre-
cious relic of my boyhood, and often seemed to
inspire my flagging energies, and excite me to
the successful prosecution of greater and better
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 delibera-
tion, and several different unsuccessful applica-
tions, 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.
72 Robert Dawson.
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! Often have I kept awake,
during the night, wondering how it would all
seem in my future residence; planning 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
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 othei'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, and Cuff sleeping at
his feet. Stoves had not then come into gene-
ral us ; but we beheld the dancing flame and
the bright coals in the capacious fire-place. And
leaving Home. 73
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 laying and relaying the
brands, when anything occurred to discompose
This autumn found my father increasingly
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 ap-
pointed time of my departure. One day, as Jane
was studying the almanac, she all at once ex-
claimed, Oh, Robert I have discovered some-
thing-a piece of good news for you-oh !"
And she gave several mysterious nods, quite pe-
culiar to her.
What is it ?" we all asked.
"It is only for Robert;" and she took me by
74 Robert Dawson.
the hand and led me into the bedroom, closing
"Oh, Robert! it is only three weeks from
Thanksgiving that you go. Now you must not
go until after Thanksgiving. Why, everybody
stays till after Thanksgiving. I am in earnest.
"I must stay until after Thanksgiving, I am
sure I must," I replied. I know Mr. Simpson
will not want me before,-it would not be
Thanksgiving 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
"I know we can bring it about," said ihe
sanguine Jane ; and no less sure was I.
That day, on going towards the corner, who
should clap me on the shoulders and give me
a boisterous welcome, but Charley Frazier.
Leaving Home. 75
Charley 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 store at C--.
But, Charley, what are you at home for ?" I
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 easy."
"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
"What! all the time, and have no fun?
Mother says it is too bad to tie up boys so. I
came off so long before Thanksgiving, I suppose
76 Robert Dawson.
he will 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
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 joyous-
ness 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 situations. 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 Thanks-
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 round
my shoulder as he used to do when we were
My time is fixed to go on the 5th of No-
vember; but since Thanksgiving-day is so near,
Jane and Mary say I ought to stay, and I think
Leaving Home. 77
"What does your father say ?"
"I have not said anything to him yet," I re-
plied,-with many misgivings as to the result
of such an application.
"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-
indeed, it cannot make any difference that I
see. Only two weeks! Ask your father this
very evening,-I would." 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
heart, feeling that something very agreeable was
"I thought of it when Mr. Simpson's letter
was read," answered my mother.
"Thought of it and said nothing!-that is
unfavourable," I said to myself. So it seemed,
and I had not courage to go on.
78 Roberl Dawson.
"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 Thanksgiving,"
added Mary. Poor Robert, how lonely he
would be, thinking of us all day, away from
"Charley Frazier 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
"Mother, don't you think it would be
pleasanter to have Robert here ?" asked
"A great deal pleasanter," answered my
"Then he ought to stay, I think. It is only
a fortnight! It will pass away very soon," said
"And perhaps we may never be all together
again," added Jane.
Leaving Home. 79
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 footsteps 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 towards my father. "It is too bad he
should go before! Besides, a fortnight cannot
make much difference."
"Difference in what, Charles ?" asked my
father, pleasantly surveying him.
"Why, sir, in what he can learn, or anything
he could do for Mr. Simpson," he answered.
"It would certainly make a great difference
in his promptness and punctuality to his en-
gagement," continued 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 to have him come
8o Robert Dawson.
by the fifth, 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
"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 should let our feelings of pleasure inter-
fere 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
as well for him to stay. I do not know how we
can undertake to decide 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 se-
curing 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 commencing business. He will
find, in the business world, a great many diffi-
cult and disagreeable circumstances. Now the
true way to get rid of them is not to turn about
Leaving Home. 8
and run away, but to face them; to fight through
them; to meet them with a true and manly
heart. What you have got to do, do; and do it
without shrinking or complaining, That is the
only true way, Charley -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 war-
fare, a race. 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 pros-
perous 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 genera-
tion day by day, and humbly hope for a blessed
rest, through Jesus Christ our Lord, beyond the
82 Robert Dawson.
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 the pleasures of a
"Thanksgiving at home must be given up.
The fifth of November came apace. The
morning was gray 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 behave like a man." I flew into the
kitchen with my kindling wood. When the flames
Leaving Home. 83
grew bright, my mother came down, and we had
pleasant words together.
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 loving look, as she
ground the coffee or set the table or baked the
cakes for breakfast.
Breakfast was a sad season, though my father
spoke cheerfully. The family altar was sur-
rounded. My father's voice trembled and broke
as he prayed for me. Tears flowed freely, and
hearts were full of sympathy and strong emo-
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 bag-
gage-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,
Bobby," said she, smiling through her tears.
"Here, Robert," said my father; "here is a
84 Robert Dawson.
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 be-
lieve 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 from home At the close of the
second day I reached B--.
"Where is Mr. John Simpson's ?" I asked of
a boy about my own age.
He pointed me far down the street, to a small
yellow house, with a book store and printing-
office on the other side of it. The sight of my
Leaving Home. 85
future home hastened me forward, in spite of
the cold, the dust, and the weariness which
penetrated every part of me. Arriving at the
gate, I knocked at a side door, and was soon
ushered into a large kitchen, where sat two ap-
prentices. I was glad it was dark, so that I
could escape their staring scrutiny. But a tal-
low candle blazed in our faces from the mantel-
piece, fully revealing me to my companions.
"Are you the new hand ?" at length asked the
"I have come to work in Mr. Simpson's
A loud bell then rung.
"Supper supper !" shouted the two appren-
tices, starting up. My new master now en-
Robert, is this you ? I am glad to see that
you are as good as your word. We are full of
work, and want all the little help a new hand
can give us." And I followed him into a long,
"I see it was best for me to come. He is
86 Robert Dawson.
hurried," I said to myself. This, indeed, gave
me satisfaction. But I felt little appetite, and
stupidly did I answer the few questions they put
to me. My heart was almost as heavy as my
After supper Mr. Simpson and his men has-
tened back to the office. I escaped into the
yard, in order to avoid the conversation of the
family. Wearily did I sit down upon the side
of a trough near the well, with nothing like a
definite impression upon my mind, until my left
hand was carelessly thrust into my pocket, and
out came a small quarter of the last dough-nut.
"Oh, home home! home!" I sighed pite-
ously, as the old kitchen fire, with its beloved
circle, came up vividly before me, in the dark-
ness of that evening. "There is Charley Fra-
zier at his home. I wish I was Charley; I do,
indeed What an easy lot is his-and mine,
how hard !" So I soliloquized over the last
crumb of my last dough-nut.
"A stout heart, Robert I" I seemed to hear
my father say; and'all his wise and encouraging
Leaving Home. 87
words came up to my remembrance with a re-
awakening power. "Let me not put my hand
to the plough and look back. I will make up
my mind to do what is before me cheerfully."
And I rose up from the side of the trough with
a compressed lip and a courageous heart. I
hope I offered a sincere prayer to the Giver of
all Good, that He would give me grace and
strength to do His will.
AN IMPORTANT ERA.
THERE were trials, obstacles, and much em-
barrassment to contend with in the new scenes
which opened upon me at Mr. Simpson's house
and office. New influences, new companions,
and new ideas came fast around me. I tried to
go straight on my way, doing diligently and with
all my might whatsoever my hands found to do.
My father had always taught me not to be afraid
of work, nor grumble, nor complain, nor com-
pare myself with others more advantageously
88 Robert Dawson.
situated; but to look at my own duties, and to
do them cheerfully and faithfully. And I had,
afterwards, abundant reason to rejoice that I
followed his counsels.
The moral atmosphere of my new home was
altogether unlike the one I had left. My pa-
rents were strictly religious. They always acted
upon conscientious Christian principles in all
their walk and conversation. Although it was
not then a very common thing to address chil-
dren upon the subject of personal piety, yet the
light of their example was constantly before us,
and we children could not remain ignorant of
our duty or our responsibility to God our Sa-
Mr. Simpson was an honest and an in-
dustrious man, but the fear of God was not in
his heart nor before his eyes. In pleasant
weather he attended public worship with his
family; but a rainy Sabbath was a choice day
to examine his accounts, and study his ledger.
Three apprentices lived with him, and we were
all permitted to pass the Sabbath as we pleased,
An Important Era. 89
provided we interfered with none of the pro-
prieties of the house. How different was all
this from my own home, where the Sabbath was
a day remembered and kept holy, and yet never
irksome to me, for my parents always secured
for us a pleasing variety in its duties.
James, Thomas, and myself (the three appren-
tices) occupied the same chamber; and how
did we pass the Sabbath ? James usually dressed
and went out, after breakfast, seeking com-
panions of his own age, with whom he walked,
talked, or rode. To him it was a day of recre-
ation and amusement. Thomas preferred his
bed. A large part of the day was given to
sleep : the remainder was passed in some church
or in the kitchen, where he made merry with the
dog, kittens, and children, And as for me, I
found my way into the gallery of a church,
where principles were inculcated akin to my
father's; and for several Sabbaths was a con-
stant attendant there. The daily influences
which were around me began, at length, to
operate unfavourably upon my conduct. In
90 Robert Dawson.
pleasant weather I read my Bible hastily, if at
all, and preferred a walk on Sabbath afternoon,
to being pent up in church," as my associates
described the exercises of worship. My scruples
about reading religious books, or none, upon
the Lord's day, became weaker. I at last read
even "The Forty Thieves during the interval
of worship, without any serious compunction of
conscience. I could laugh at low jokes, and
even crack them myself. Although I was sel-
dom alone, yet was I often lonely.
"Home !-home !-home !"-was the burden
of my secret sigh. "What is Jane, or Mary, or
father, or mother doing?" was my frequent
inquiry, while busiest at my work; and I longed
for the tranquil pursuits of my native village.
In the last letter I received from home, Jane
asked, Can you print yet, Robert ?" Now I
was desirous of showing her some specimen of
my new employment, although, as yet, I had
scarcely begun to learn its first principles.
"I will print Jane a letter," was the happy
thought; but when and how shall I do it ?"
An Important Era. 91
After breakfast, one Sabbath morning, I went
into the office to look about and find some type
that would not be wanted for some days, at least.
"I will work until the bell rings, and then to
church." Such was the decision; but so inte-
rested did I become in setting the type, that the
bell made little impression upon my ear, and
less on my mind. I did not heed it, and worked
on in something like a very bungling manner, I
am quite sure. But the little metallic letters
arranged themselves, with my help, into syllables,
words, and lines : and I pleased myself in think-
ing how pleased Jane would be.
There is no more harm in doing this than
in writing a letter. What is the difference?
And I am sure everybody here writes letters on
Sunday i" In this way I answered the question
that would continually force itself upon me,-
"Are you doing ri/gt, Robert ?"
I have no time any other day, and it will
please them at home so much, to see my own
printing. And besides, I shall go to church
when the bell rings."
92 Robert Dawson.
Unfortunately I began this, my first work,
from type that lay in disorder; and of course it
sadly puzzled me to find the letters, and greatly
prolonged my labour. On I worked, nor was I
aroused until the house-bell called me to dinner.
What day is it ?" I asked, almost bewildered.
"Sunday It is Sunday !" and a great fear stole
over me as I looked at my work, and again said,
" It is Sunday !" I looked out at the window.
It was a clear, warm, sunny day in February,
when the snow melted on the tops of the houses,
and came down from the eaves like a shower
of rain. "How pleasant to go to meet-
In no very peaceful state of mind did I leave
the office and go to dinner. I felt afraid-not
certainly of my master, for I but copied his
example; not of Tom nur James, but of myself:
of the sense of wrong-doing, which began to op-
press my heart. I will go to meeting; yes, I
will!" firmly did I resolve.
Mr. Simpson had been at church, and talked
An lnportant Era. 93
about the sermon. James and Thomas had
been there too.
"Where have you been ?" asked Thomas, who
sat next to me at the table.
"Been about here, all alone," answered I-
in a surly tone, to forbid further inquiry.
Robert, you had better go to meeting," said
I hung down my head and said nothing.
Some time before the second bell rang in the
afternoon, I sallied forth towards the church.
It was, as I said, a beautiful winter's day, but
not beautiful to me, for my heart was ill at ease.
The sound of sleigh-bells was behind me,
swiftly coming up the street.
"Halloo !" shouted a voice.
"Come, Bob! come, now; get in!" It was
Tom; and the sleigh was beside my very foot-
"Where are you going ?" said I.
Oh! only a little way; come, jump in with
His companion was a lad for whom little
94 Roleert Dawson.
respect was felt by the more sober part of his
No, no : I cannot go !" I said; I must show
myself inside some church to-day,-it is so
"So pleasant for riding, Bob! Come, we
have no time for it in the week-days. Come, we
shall not be gone long."
They urged, and I willingly heard them.
Suddenly, even to myself, I jumped in beside
them. Crack went the whip, and away we sped
like lightning. The bells, the bracing air, the
winter beauties of the scene, dazzled and excited
me ; and to drown reflection, I strove to become
the merriest of the three. Tom drove ; and he
drove, scarcely knowing whither. On,-on,-
on we went, until the spires of a town, ten miles
distant, were in sight.
"We must have supper here," exclaimed
Oh, no do let us go back !" said I. We
shall be so late,-ten miles to return !" and I
wished myself anywhere but there. The sun
An Important Era. 95
was declining, and the chills of evening came
A supper," with a profane oath, exclaimed
our companion.-Tom drew up to a tavern door.
"I say, let us go back. Mr. Simpson will
expect us back to supper." And, alas! there
was no money in my pocket to buy one else-
My companions rushed into the house, and
planted themselves at the bar. Gin ?" cried
"No : brandy-and-water !---I take brandy !"
vociferated the other.
Several men were in the bar-room. I looked
around, and they were tavern loungers, with
bloated cheeks, red noses, and thread-worn gar-
ments. The fumes of strong drink filled the
room, and the fire-place was covered with to-
bacco. Oaths mingled with every sentence that
caught my car. Tom and Curtis were drinking
and rejoicing over their cups.
"Is this the evening of Sabbath-day?" I
asked myself, with deep emotion.
96 Robert Dawson.
"Come, Bob; come, my good fellow; take a
drink !" cried Curtis, beckoning to me to come
towards the bar; "it will warm you up !"
What they both urged I can now scarcely re-
member. I only know that I refused to drink.
They sat down by the fire, smoked cigars, and
drank again. Their swaggering, boisterous
manner disgusted me, and for the first time I
was heartily ashamed of my companions.
"Where do you go to meeting?" sneeringly
asked an old man of Curtis Hare.
Oh I do my own preaching," answered
Curtis. I am satisfied,-that is enough."
A general laugh followed. Then the fiery
cup began to show its effects on Curtis's brain.
Astonished and mortified to hear the profane-
ness of his language, I arose and went out into
the piazza. The sun was just setting. The
sky had a wan and mellow appearance. A deep
and solemn stillness was in the air. I took two
or three turns in the piazza, without knowing
what to do. If we stay longer, they might not
be able to get home; certainly not soberly, even
An Im lfoi'rnt EZra. 97
if we went now; and how could I ride with
such brutish companions, on a still Sabbath
twilight! I felt as if we should be known and
marked, in spite of all I could do. Presently
out they came, declaring their intention to return
"I think it is high time," said I, gravely.
"Time, eh! time! time! high, higher, high-
est !-high time, eh eh Master Bob, eh c"
Such were the senseless gibberings of the mad-
dened youths. Tom was disgusting,-my soul
loathed him. We hastened into the sleigh.
Tom struck his foot and tumbled in, muttering
oaths as he fell. In attempting to take the reins
he pulled this way and that, until the fierce and
spirited horse grew restive under the unsteady
"Give me the reins, Tom!" said I.
"No, my boy;--but you will not have the
reins-not you." Again another lurch of the
sleigh. Our limbs, if not our lives, were at
stake. Seizing the reins with a strong hand, I
pushed Tom aside; and putting the horse's