Jerry Bright


Material Information

Jerry Bright
Physical Description:
45 p. : ill. ; 16 cm.
Dodd, Mead & Company ( Publisher )
Dodd, Mead & Company
Place of Publication:
New York
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Blacksmiths -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Judges -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Family -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Nurses -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Horses -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Family stories -- 1882   ( local )
Bldn -- 1882
Family stories   ( local )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York


Statement of Responsibility:
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002239788
notis - ALJ0322
oclc - 35989808
System ID:

Full Text


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Copyright, 1882.


JERRY BRIGHT lived in the village
of Brownville, and was, it was said,
the most popular man in it. Every
one liked him, from Judge Claymont,
who employed him sometimes upon his
place, and who often gave him grave ad-
vice with his wages, to Tommy Toots,
who paddled barefooted through the
village street to beg a ride on Jerry's
back. He was never cross, either at
home or abroad. His wife thought him
the best and kindest husband in the
world, and his children felt certain that
no child had ever had such a father.


There was only one fault to be found
with him, and that was his lack of perse-
verance. He would work at one thing
for a while, doing twice as much in a
day as most men would do; but soon tir-
ing of that occupation would insist upon
trying his hand at something new. Some-
times it would be gardening to which he
devoted himself, and no one coaxed flow-
ers to grow as he did ; sometimes he
would work for a while in a blacksmith's
shop, and people said that his horseshoes
stayed on better than any others.
No sooner, however, would this foolish
man begin to build up for himself a good
business, than he would tire of it, sell out
everything for half its value, and start off
to find something which would give him
a change of occupation, and better suit
his taste.


This state of things troubled his wife a
good deal, but he was always so funny

when she tried to remonstrate with him,
turning everything into ridicule, that she


was forced to give it up with a sigh.
" You've got to have some faults in your
husband," she would say, and Jerry's
might be worse. If he hadn't this one
he'd be perfect, and too good to live."
One day Jerry was at the forge hard at
work, and as usual surrounded by a
group of idlers who were glad of the
chance for a little chat, when an officer
drew up his rein and asked if the smith
could put on a shoe for his horse who
had just cast one.
Jerry said that he could, so the rider
alighted and waited till the work was
After he had gone, another man came
in to have his horse shod, and while wait-
ing he gradually led Jerry into conversa-
tion about his plans, and told him that he
had a very profitable shop which he


wanted to rent to a bright man who
would make the business pay. "And

from what I have heard of you," he said,
" I consider you just the man." He told
such grand stories of the large sums of


money which he had made there during
the past year that Jerry at last said he

the following day.
the following day.


That evening he dressed in his best
clothes and went up to Judge Claymont's
house to ask his advice upon the matter.
That gentleman was just coming up the
street, and when he saw Jerry he invited
him to come in, which Jerry did.
Jerry told the judge the proposition for
renting the meat shop. 1 thought I'd
feel better to ask your advice," he said,
but it seems to me rather a good idea."
Judge Claymont was not particularly
pleased with the plan, and strongly ad-
vised him not to think of it. Stick to
your blacksmithing," he said ; you do
it well, and you are here among friends."
Jerry thanked him, and went out re-
solved to follow his advice, but the inter-
view the next morning with the owner of
the shop caused him to change his mind.
His wife with many tears prepared to



leave their pleasant cottage, and in about
a week the men came to take away their

furniture and luggage. The door was
closed, the key given up to the coming


tenant, and the family started off to seek
a new home in a neighboring town.
Things went on very well for a little
while. To be sure the sales were not
nearly so large as had been represented,
"but Jerry, who was of a very hopeful dis-
position, was sure more customers would
come by and by.
But we all know how idle hands are
soon full of mischief. Jerry found too
much time for loafing, and there were
plenty of idlers to keep him company.
He soon fell in with bad companions, and
his shop was neglected.
One day Judge Claymont, having busi-
ness in the place, had come down on the
morning train. After finishing what he
had to do, he resolved to go and call
upon Jerry to see how he was getting on.
He reached the shop at about three


o'clock in the afternoon, as Jerry was
preparing to put the things away. A

first glance at poor Jerry showed Judge
Claymont that. that which he had feared
had come. The man had been drinking,


and now stood looking at his kind friend
in a dazed sort of way. It was of little
use to talk to him then, and Judge Clay-
mont turned sadly from the shop won-
dering what was to become of his poor
That night as Jerry opened the door to
go into the room where his wife and chil-
dren were sitting, he overheard Johnny,
his little boy, say :
Oh, mother, why did we ever come
here; are we never going home again ?
It is so different from what it used to be.
Father is so changed, and now we have
had to give up two of our rooms, and all
have to crowd into this, and the little
closet, and you look so pale, and oh, I
miss the cottage and the fields and those
old happy days. This isn't a bit like



Poor Mrs. Bright leaned her head on
her hands, and in spite of all her efforts at

self-control a few tears trickled through
her fingers. She closed the book from

which she had been reading to the chil-
dren, and said :
We must hope for better times, dear.
But come, let us set the table and try to
make things look pleasantly for your fa-
ther when he comes in. Perhaps we
may be able to keep him at home to-
Jerry felt miserable enough when he
heard these pitiful words, and resolved
that he would never drink another drop.
He spent the evening with them, and a
happy time they had. But, alas! his
good resolutions were soon broken, and
one day soon after he came home, and, not
knowing what he did, struck his little
daughter Maggie with so much force that
her head was badly cut.
Johnny was her devoted nurse, and did
1 -everything he could to amuse her while



she had to lie in an old cradle which be-
longed in the poor old room.

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She grew worse, however, so that her
mother moved her into her own bed.
mother moved her into her own bed.


But instead of being able to stay at home
and take care of her little one, she was
forced to go out daily to earn what she
could. Matters were growing worse and
worse, and Mrs. Bright began to tremble
at the thought of what her children would
become, surrounded as they were by such
influences. They were too ragged to go
to school, and she, poor woman, had no
time to teach them at home. Tired as
she was when evening came, she would
read to them and do what she could, but
her health soon failed under all this strain,
and the future looked very terrible in-
deed. Maggie grew worse rather than
better. Johnny was getting very rough
in his ways, and Julia was idle and
But she worked bravely on, always
trying to show a cheerful face when her


husband came home, and doing what she
could for the children.


One day Mr. Paulding, the clergyman,
whose church they used to attend in the


happy days at home, happened to be rid-
ing through the town, when he saw Jerry

standing in a cait, very much the worse
for drink, waving a jug in the air, and
shouting at the top of his voice.


Quite shocked at the sight, he rode up
to him, and tried to persuade him to go
quietly home. The man refused, how-
ever, and showed such a disposition to
have a fight that Mr. Paulding thought it
much better to go in search of a police-
man, which he' did. Jerry was conse-
quently marched off to the station-house,
where he remained till he became sober
and very much ashamed of himself.
Mr. Paulding saw that it was high time
that something should be done for his
family. He had no idea of letting any
member of his parish suffer for want of
Although he knew the street in which
they lived, he had forgotten the number,
but hoping to find the house by inquir-
ing of the neighbors, he rode on until he
came to an alleyway which led up to the

right street. Keeping slowly on, what
was his surprise to see Johnny and Julia

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seated on the doorstep of a miserable-
looking house.
In answer to his inquiries for their


mother he was told that she was upstairs
cleaning the room. She hadn't any work
to-day, they added, and so she was tidy-
ing up here. She has been talking aw-
fully solemn to us to-day," said Julia,
" for we have been getting into bad ways
since we came to this hateful place. So
I have been trying to make myself neat,
andto hear Johnny say his lessons. But
oh, Mr. Paulding, you don't know how
dreadful it is here, nor how we all long
to go back to Brownville to the cottage
and the dear old church and the Sun-
Asking Johnny to hold the horse for
him, Mr. Paulding went upstairs to see
Mrs. Bright.
He had a long talk with her, and when
he left, a more hopeful light shone in her
eye than had been there for many a day.


That evening Mr. Paulding went to
Judge Claymont's house and told him
what he had seen.

.. .. . .

The next morning the judge took his
little boy Freddy in his lap, and said:


I am going to Clifftown in the after-
noon train. Would you like to go with
me, and make grandmamma a visit ?"
You may imagine what Freddy's an-
swer was ; for what little boy does not
like to visit grandmamma, where he is
sure to be spoiled.
So his clothes and papa's were packed
in a small trunk, and mamma was kissed
over and over again, and so was sister
Mollie, and off went the two, in the car-
riage which was waiting for them, to
catch the afternoon train.
You never saw any one so surprised
and delighted as grandmamma was when
papa and Freddy walked in suddenly.
She happened to be just at that minute
telling Freddy's cousin Susy, who had
come over to pass the afternoon, a story
of her own girlhood.


They both jumped up, however, upon
the arrival of the visitors, and the story
was forgotten.

Papa told them that 'he had come to
look after the family of a man who had


once worked faithfully for him, but after
moving to Clifftown had fallen into bad
ways, to see if he could not persuade him
to return to Brownville, and at any rate
to try to rescue his children from the bad
influences which surrounded them.
If I can do anything to help you or
them you must let me know, my dear,"
said the kind old lady. In the mean
time I might just send James over when
you go, with a basket of provisions. If
the father drinks, the children are sure to
suffer from hunger."
Judge Claymont said he was sure a
basket of good food would not come
Freddy had a bed in his papa's room
next to his, and the next morning when
the judge opened his sleepy eyes there
was Freddy, sitting bolt upright looking


at him. Oh, papa," he said, "I am so
glad you are awake, for I wanted to get

up, and I did not know whether it was
time. Beside," he added, "I was not


quite sure if I could button all my clothes
Very well," answered his papa, you
may get up now. I am glad to be early,
for I want to go as soon as possible to see
poor Jerry's wife."
Judge Claymont caught Jerry, as he
had hoped to do, before he left the house,
for late hours the night before had made
him sleep late the next morning.
Jerry was, as usual after a spree, very
headachy and penitent. He was thor-
oughly sick of the path he was treading,
yet did not know how to break loose from
his companions, and strike out anew for
Judge Claymont came just in time.
He persuaded them to go back at once
to Brownville, and to send Julia and
Johnny that very day. Mr. Paulding

had promised to take Johnny and Mrs.
Claymont Julia until Jerry could get

(i r

work and make enough to support his


They went, and Julia was at once neat-
ly dressed and sent to school, where she
learned many useful things beside her
ordinary lessons.
Jerry and his wife worked with spirit,
so anxious were they to get away from
this dreadful place, and begin life over
The cottage was again procured, for
Judge Claymont was anxious to have
everything as much as possible like the
old days, that the memory of the past
year might be wiped out. Alas, many an
article of furniture which had made the
cottage homelike was wanting, having
gone to pay for the wretched stuff which
had made Jerry abuse his wife, and starve
his children.
He looked sadly at the empty spaces
when they were in the familiar home

again, and resolved that if hard and per-
sistent work would do it, others should

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be brought to supply the places of those
which he had so shamefully sacrificed.
On the day after they reached the cot-


tage Mollie went down with a basket of
fruit for Maggie, who was still quite ill.
She knocked at the door, and it was
quickly opened by Mrs. Bright, who
looked so happy that it would have done
you good to see her. Maggie was bol-
stered up in bed, and insisted that she
felt better already. She was delighted
with Mollie's gift, for she eat very little,
and she fancied the fruit.
One day about a week later Judge
Claymont went to the cottage to see how
its inmates were getting on. He found
that Jerry had gone into the blacksmith's
shop. Not as its head, alas as he was
once, but as a hand. Mrs. Bright felt
sure he would work his way up, for he
seemed now so much in earnest and so
determined to work steadily at one thing.
While they were talking, a great noise


wras heard at the door, and in rushed
Johnny like a whirlwind. He did not see


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any one but his mother at first, and throw-
ing his arms around her neck he ex-
claimed :


"Oh, mother, mother, Mr. Paulding
has got me the most beautiful place, and
I am to be paid-oh, mother, how kind
our friends are !"
Why, Johnny, dear," said his moth-
er, here is the kindest one of all, and
you have never been civil enough to
speak to him."
Johnny turned around in such confu-
sion that he forgot to take off his hat un-
til his mother reminded him of it; but his
benefactor spoke to him so kindly that
the boy soon forgot everything but the
good news which he had come to tell.
He had found, through Mr. Paulding's
kindness, a situation in a bookstore, where
he was to run errands, sweep out the
shop, and do everything he was told.
The wages were not very large, but Mrs.
King, who kept the shop, said he would


have a good deal of time to read, and that
she would see that he was constantly sup-

[dii I

plied with suitable and interesting read-
ing. As Mrs. King was an excellent wo.


man and one in whom both Mr. Paulding
and Judge Claymont had great confi-
dence, they felt that Johnny might im-
prove very much, and at the same time
be earning enough to help to support
Mrs. Bright patched up his old suit,
brushed and cleaned it, and told her boy
it would do until he could lay by money
enough to get one for himself.
The next day Johnny's duties began,
and he was at his post bright and early.
The hours were fully occupied, for Mrs.
King wanted all the books taken down
and carefully dusted and neatly arranged
again upon the shelves. Upon going
home at night he was allowed to carry
with him a book upon travels which was
full of the most thrilling adventures.
There was one story in particular, about


a boy's encounter with an enormous
bird, while he was robbing her nest of

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eggs, which he thought particularly de-


His mother suggested that he should
read aloud to them all, and Johnny was

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glad to give such a pleasure. It did
good in three ways: first, in amusing
Mrs. Bright and Julia while they sat so


patiently at their sewing; secondly, in
interesting his father and so keeping him


at home; thirdly, in giving him practice
in reading.


There was one story in the book which
Julia wanted to hear over and over. It
was about a little girl named Sarah, who
was lost. She had wandered far from
home, and just as night was falling a
kind lady had taken her home with her.
She had a good supper, and was just say-
ing her prayers before going to bed
when she heard her papa's voice at the
door. He had found her and had come
to take her home. Instead of going to
bed, she put on her clothes again in great
What pleasant evenings those were!
Maggie, who was rapidly improving now,
would lie on the sofa, knitting a little or
resting as she felt inclined; Julia and
her mother by the table sewing; Jerry,
who said that since Johnny was enter-
taining him he would do something in re-



turn, sitting by the hearth whittling out
a boat which would have made the eyes
of any boy sparkle just to look at. In-
deed, delightful as his book was, the
young reader could not resist the tempta-
tion of running over occasionally to watch
its progress.
And when Sunday came, oh what a
change They were even better than
the old ones before they had moved
away. It was so pleasant, Jerry found,
to sit in the garden with his children
about him, when church was over, that
it seemed as if all his past troubles must
have been a dream.


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