"There, jump into bed afore I carry the candle off," continued Jacob.
"I don't care about any light. You needn't wait," replied Harry, as he slipped off his shoes and stockings.
"That is right; boys always ought to be learnt to go to bed in the dark," added Jacob, as he departed.
But Harry was determined not to go to bed in the dark; so, as soon as he heard Jacob's step on the floor below, he crept to the stairway, and silently descended. He had made up his mind not to wait for the bull-dog. Pausing in the entry, he heard Jacob tell his wife that he was going over to Leman's to borrow his dog; he was afraid the boy would get up in the night and set his barn on fire, or run away. Jacob then left the house, satisfied, no doubt, that the bull-dog would be an efficient sentinel while the family were asleep.
After allowing time enough to elapse for Jacob to reach Leman's house, he softly opened the front door and went out. It was fortunate for him that Mrs. Wire was as "deaf as a post," or his suddenly matured plan to "try again" might have been a failure. As it was, his departure was not observed. It was quite dark, and after he had got a short distance from the house, he felt a reasonable degree of security.
His first purpose was to get as far away from Redfield as possible before daylight should come to betray him; and, taking the road, he walked as fast as his legs would carry him towards Boston. Jacob's house was on the turnpike, which was the direct road to the city, and the distance which the squire had carried him in his wagon was so much clear gain.
He did not feel very sentimental now. The sky was overshadowed with clouds, so that he could not see any stars, and the future did not look half so bright as his fancy had pictured it on the preceding night. But he was free again; and free under more favorable circumstances than before. This time he was himself commander of the expedition, and was to suffer for no one's bad generalship but his own. Besides, the experience he had obtained was almost a guarantee of success. It had taught him the necessity of care and prudence.
The moral lesson he had learned was of infinitely more value than even the lesson of policy. For the first time in his life he was conscious of a deep and earnest desire to be a good boy, and to become a true man. As he walked along, he thought more of being a good man than of being a rich man. It was very natural for him to do so, under the circumstances, for he had come very near being punished as an incendiary. The consequences of doing wrong were just then strongly impressed upon his mind, and he almost shuddered to think he had consented to remain with Ben Smart after he knew that he burned the barn. Ah, it was an exceedingly fortunate thing for him that he had got rid of Ben as he did.
For two hours he walked as fast as he could, pausing now and then to listen for the sound of any approaching vehicle. Possibly Jacob might have gone to his room, or attic, to see if he was safe, and his escape had been discovered. He could not be too wary, and every sound that reached his waiting ear caused his heart to jump with anxiety.
He heard a clock strike eleven. It was not the Redfield clock, and it was evident that he was approaching Rockville, a factory village eight miles from his native place. But his legs were failing him. He was exhausted by the labors and the excitement of the day and night, and his strength would hardly hold out till he should get beyond the village.
Seating himself on a rock by the side of the road, he decided to hold a council of war, to determine what should be done. If he went forward, his strength might fail him at the time when a vigorous effort should be required of him. Somebody's dog might bark, and bring the "Philistines upon him." He might meet some late walker, who would detain him. It was hardly safe for him to go through the village by night or day, after the search which had been made for Ben Smart. People would be on the lookout, and it would be no hard matter to mistake him for the other fugitive.
On the other hand, he did not like to pause so near Redfield. He had scarcely entered upon the consideration of this side of the question before his quick ear detected the sound of rattling wheels in the direction from which he had come. His heart beat violently. It was Squire Walker and Jacob Wire, he was sure, in pursuit of him; but his courage did not fail him.
Leaping over the stone wall by the side of the road, he secured the only retreat which the vicinity afforded, and waited, with his heart in his throat, for the coming of his pursuers, as he had assured himself they were. The present seemed to be his only chance of escape, and if he failed now, he might not soon have another opportunity to "try again."
The vehicle was approaching at a furious pace, and as the noise grew more distinct, his heart leaped the more violently. He thought he recognized the sound of Squire Walker's wagon. There was not much time for his fancy to conjure up strange things, for the carriage soon reached the place where he was concealed.
"Ur-r—woo!" said a big bull-dog, placing his ugly nose against the wall, behind which Harry was lying.
"Whoa!" added a voice, which the trembling fugitive recognized as that of George Leman.
"The dog has scented him," said another—that of Jacob Wire.
Harry's heart sank within him, and he felt as faint as though every drop of blood had been drawn from his veins.
"I knew the dog would fetch him," said George Leman, as he leaped from the wagon, followed by Jacob Wire. "At him, Tiger!"
In obedience to this command, Tiger drew back a few steps, and then leaped upon the top of the wall. The prospect of being torn to pieces by the bull-dog was not pleasant to Harry, and with a powerful effort he summoned his sinking energies for the struggle before him. Grasping two large stones, he stood erect as the dog leaped on the wall. Inspired by the imminence of his peril, he hurled one of the stones at Tiger the instant he showed his ugly visage above the fence. The missile took effect upon the animal, and he was evidently much astonished at this unusual mode of warfare. Tiger was vanquished, and fell back from the wall, howling with rage and pain.
"Thunder! He has killed my dog!" exclaimed Leman, as he jumped over the wall.
Harry did not wait any longer, but took to his heels, followed by both pursuers, though not by the dog, which was hors de combat. Our hero was in a "tight place," but with a heroism worthy the days of chivalry, he resolved not to be captured.
He had not run far, however, before he realized that George Leman was more than a match for him, especially in his present worn-out condition. He was almost upon him, when Harry executed a counter movement, which was intended to "outflank" his adversary. Dodging round a large rock in the field, he redoubled his efforts, running now towards the road where the horse was standing. Leman was a little confused by this sudden action, and for an instant lost ground.
Harry reached the road and leaped the wall at a single bound; it was a miracle that, in the darkness, he had not dashed his brains out upon the rocks, in the reckless leap. The horse was startled by the noise, and his snort suggested a brilliant idea to Harry.
"Go 'long!" he shouted; and the horse started towards Rockville at a round pace.
Harry jumped into the wagon over the hind board, and grasping the reins, put the high-mettled animal to the top of his speed.
"Go 'long!" hallooed Harry, mad with excitement.
The horse manifested no feeling of partiality toward either of the parties, and seemed as willing to do his best for Harry as for his master.
"Stop! Stop!" shouted George Leman, astounded at the new phase which the chase had assumed. "Stop! and I will let you go."
That was quite reasonable. It was natural that he should prefer to let the fugitive escape, to the alternative of losing his horse. George Leman was noted for three things in Redfield—his boat, his ugly dog, and his fast horse; and Harry, after stealing the boat and killing the dog, was in a fair way to deprive him of his horse, upon which he set a high value. The boy seemed like his evil genius, and no doubt he was angry with himself for letting so mean a man as Jacob Wire persuade him to hunt down such small game.
Harry did not deem it prudent to stop, and in a few moments had left his pursuers out of sight. Then he began to breathe freer. He had played a desperate game, and won the victory; yet he did not feel like indulging in a triumph. The battle had been a bitter necessity, and he even regretted the fate of poor Tiger, whose ribs he had stove in with a rock.
He passed through Rockville. All was still, save the roaring of the waters at the dam, and no one challenged him.
"I am safe, at any rate," said he to himself, when he had passed the village. "What will be the next scrape, I wonder? Confound it! They will have me up for stealing a horse next. But I didn't steal him. George Leman is a good fellow, and only for the fun of the thing, he wouldn't have come out on such a chase. I wouldn't steal anybody's horse. Whoa!"
Harry hauled up by the roadside, and fastened the horse to the fence.
"There, George, you can have your horse again; but I will just put the blanket over him, for he is all of a reeking sweat. It will just show George, when he comes up, that I don't mean him any harm. I hope his dog wasn't killed."
Taking the blanket which lay in the bottom of the wagon (for George Leman was very careful of his horse, and though it was October, always covered him when he let him stand out at night), he spread it over him.
"Now, for Number One again," muttered Harry. "I must take to the woods, though I doubt if George will follow me any farther."
So saying, he got over the fence, and made his way across the fields to the woods, which were but a short distance from the road.
IN WHICH HARRY KILLS A BIG SNAKE, AND MAKES A NEW FRIEND
Harry was not entirely satisfied with what he had done. He regretted the necessity which had compelled him to take George Leman's horse. It looked too much like stealing; and his awakened moral sense repelled the idea of such a crime. But they could not accuse him of stealing the horse; for his last act would repudiate the idea.
His great resolution to become a good and true man was by no means forgotten. It is true, at the very outset of the new life he had marked out for himself, he had been obliged to behave like a young ruffian, or be restored to his exacting guardians. It was rather a bad beginning; but he had taken what had appeared to him the only course.
Was it right for him to run away? On the solution of this problem depended the moral character of the subsequent acts. If it was right for him to run away, why, of course it was right for him to resist those who attempted to restore him to Jacob Wire.
Harry made up his mind that it was right for him to run away, under the circumstances. His new master had been charged to break him down—even to starve him down. Jacob's reputation as a mean and hard man was well merited; and it was his duty to leave without stopping to say good by.
I do not think that Harry was wholly in the right, though I dare say all my young readers will sympathize with the stout-hearted little hero. So far, Jacob Wire had done him no harm. He had suffered no hardship at his hands. All his misery was in the future; and if he had stayed, perhaps his master might have done well by him, though it is not probable. Still, I think Harry was in some sense justifiable. To remain in such a place was to cramp his soul, as well as pinch his body—to be unhappy, if not positively miserable. He might have tried the place, and when he found it could not be endured, fled from it.
It must be remembered that Harry was a pauper and an orphan. He had not had the benefit of parental instruction. It was not from the home of those whom God had appointed to be his guardians and protectors that he had fled; it was from one who regarded him, not as a rational being, possessed of an immortal soul—one for whose moral, mental, and spiritual welfare he was accountable before God—that he had run away, but from one who considered him as a mere machine, from which it was his only interest to get as much work at as little cost as possible. He fled from a taskmaster, not from one who was in any just sense a guardian.
Harry did not reason out all this; he only felt it. What was Jacob Wire to him? What was even Squire Walker to him? What did they care about his true welfare? Nothing. Harry so understood it, and acted accordingly.
The future was full of trials and difficulties. But his heart was stout; and the events of the last chapter inspired him with confidence in his own abilities. He entered the dark woods, and paused to rest himself. What should he do next?
While he was discussing this question in his own mind he heard the sound of voices on the road, which was not more than fifty rods distant. It was George Leman and Jacob Wire. In a few minutes he heard the sound of wagon wheels; and soon had the satisfaction of knowing that his pursuers had abandoned the chase and were returning home.
The little fugitive was very tired and very sleepy. It was not possible for him to continue his journey, and he looked about him for a place in which to lodge. The night was chilly and damp; and as he sat upon the rock, he shivered with cold. It would be impossible to sleep on the wet ground; and if he could, it might cost him his life. It was a pine forest; and there were no leaves on the ground, so that he could not make such a bed as that in which he had slept the previous night.
He was so cold that he was obliged to move about to get warm. It occurred to him that he might get into some barn in the vicinity, and nestle comfortably in the hay; but the risk of being discovered was too great, and he directed his steps towards the depths of the forest.
After walking some distance, he came to an open place in the woods. The character of the growth had changed, and the ground was covered with young maples, walnuts and oaks. The wood had been recently cut off over a large area, but there were no leaves of which he could make a bed.
Fortune favored him, however; for, after advancing half way across the open space he reached one of those cabins erected for the use of men employed to watch coal pits. It was made of board slabs, and covered with sods. Near it was the circular place on which the coal pit had burned.
At the time of which I write, charcoal was carried to Boston from many towns within thirty miles of the city. Perhaps my young readers may never have seen a coal pit. The wood is set up on the ends of the sticks, till a circular pile from ten to twenty feet in diameter is formed and two tiers in height. Its shape is that of a cone, or a sugar loaf. It is then covered with turf and soil. Fire is communicated to the wood, so that it shall smoulder, or burn slowly, without blazing. Just enough air is admitted to the pit to keep the fire alive. If the air were freely admitted the pile would burn to ashes. Sometimes the outer covering of dirt and sods falls in, as the wood shrinks permitting the air to rush in and fan the fire to a blaze. When this occurs, the aperture must be closed, or the wood would be consumed; and it is necessary to watch it day and night. The cabin had been built for the comfort of the men who did this duty.
Harry's heart was filled with gratitude when he discovered the rude hut. If it had been a palace, it could not have been a more welcome retreat. It is true the stormy wind had broken down the door, and the place was no better than a squirrel hole; yet it suggested a thousand brilliant ideas of comfort, and luxury even, to our worn-out and hunted fugitive.
He entered the cabin. The floor was covered with straw, which completed his ideal of a luxurious abode. Raising up the door, which had fallen to the ground, he placed it before the aperture—thus excluding the cold air from his chamber.
"I'm a lucky fellow," exclaimed Harry, as he threw himself on the straw. "This place will be a palace beside Jacob Wire's house. And I can stay here a month, if I like."
Nestling closely under the side of the hut, he pulled the straw over him, and soon began to feel perfectly at home. Only one consideration troubled him. The commissary department of the establishment could not be relied on. There were no pork and potatoes in the house, no well-filled grain chest, no groceries, not even a rill of pure water at hand. This was an unpromising state of things; and he began to see that there would be no fun in living in the woods, where the butcher and the baker would not be likely to visit him.
Various means of supplying the deficiency suggested themselves. There were rabbits, partridges, and quails in the woods; he might set a snare, and catch some of them. But he had no fire to cook them; and Dr. Kane had not then demonstrated the healthy and appetizing qualities of raw meat. The orchards in the neighborhood were accessible; but prudence seemed to raise an impassable barrier between him and them.
While he was thus considering these matters, he dropped asleep, and forgot all about his stomach. He was completely exhausted; and no doubt the owls and bats were astonished as they listened to the sonorous sounds that came from the deserted cabin.
Long and deep was his sleep. The birds sang their mating songs on the tree tops; but he heard them not. The sun rose, and penetrated the chinks of the hut; but the little wanderer still slumbered. The Rockville clock struck nine; and he heard it not.
I think it was Harry's grumbling stomach that finally waked him; and it was no wonder that neglected organ grew impatient under the injury put upon it, for Harry had eaten little or nothing since his dinner at the poorhouse on the preceding day.
Jumping out of the heap of straw in which he had "cuddled" all night scarcely without moving, he left the hut to reconnoitre his position. So far as security was concerned, it seemed to be a perfectly safe place. He could see nothing of the village of Rockville, though, beyond the open space, he saw the top of a chimney; but it was at least half a mile distant.
Just then he did not feel much interested in the scenery and natural advantages of the position. His stomach was imperative, and he was faint from the want of food. There was nothing in the woods to eat. Berry time was past; and the prospect of supplying his wants was very discouraging. Leaving the cabin, he walked towards the distant chimney that peered above the tree tops. It belonged to a house that "was set on a hill, and could not be hid."
After going a little way, he came to a cart path, which led towards the house. This he followed, descending a hill into a swamp, which was covered over with alders and birches. At the foot of the declivity he heard the rippling of waters; but the bushes concealed the stream from his view.
He had descended nearly to the foot of the hill when the sound of footsteps reached his ears. His heart beat quick with apprehension, and he paused to listen. The step was soft and light; it was not a man's, and his courage rose. Pat, pat, pat, went the steps on the leafy ground, so gently that his fears were conquered; for the person could be only a child.
Suddenly a piercing shriek saluted his ears. Something had occurred to alarm the owner of the fairy feet which made the soft pat, pat, on the ground. Another shriek, and Harry bounded down the road like an antelope, heedless of the remonstrances of his grumbling stomach.
"Mercy! help!" shouted a voice, which Harry perceived was that of a little girl.
In a moment more he discovered the young lady running with all her might towards him.
"Save me!" gasped the girl.
"What is the matter?"
But Harry had scarcely asked the question before he saw what had alarmed her. Under other circumstances he would have quailed himself; for, as he spoke, a great black snake raised his head two or three feet from the ground directly in front of him. He was an ugly-looking monster, and evidently intended to attack him. All the chivalry of Harry's nature was called up to meet the emergency of the occasion. Seizing a little stick that lay in the path, he struck sundry vigorous blows at the reptile, which, however, seemed only to madden, without disabling him. Several times he elevated his head from the ground to strike at his assailant; but the little knight was an old hand with snakes, and vigorously repelled his assaults. At last, he struck a blow which laid out his snakeship; and the field was won, when Harry had smashed his head with a large rock. The reptile was about four feet and a half long, and as big round as a small boy's wrist.
"There, miss, he won't hurt you now," said Harry, panting with his exertions.
"Won't he? Are you sure he is dead?"
The little girl ventured to approach the dead body of the snake, and satisfied herself that he could not harm her.
"What an ugly snake! I was crossing the brook at the foot of the hill, when he sprang out from beneath my feet and chased me. I never was so frightened in all my life," said the little miss.
"I don't wonder," replied Harry.
"I am very much obliged to you. What is your name?" asked she, with childish simplicity.
Harry did not like to answer that question, and made no reply.
"Do you live in Rockville?" she continued.
"No; I used to live in Redfield."
"Where do you live now?"
"I don't live anywhere."
The little girl wanted to laugh then, it seemed such a funny answer.
"Don't you? Who is your father?"
"I have no father."
"Who is your mother, then?"
"I have no mother."
"Poor boy! Then you are an orphan."
"I suppose so. But, little girl, I don't want you to tell any one that you have seen me. You won't—will you?"
"Not father and mother?" asked the maiden, with a stare of astonishment.
"If you please, don't. I am a poor boy, and have run away from a hard master."
"I won't tell anybody."
"And I am very hungry."
"Poor boy! How lucky that I have lots of goodies in my basket!" exclaimed she. "You shall eat all you can."
"I haven't eat anything since yesterday noon," replied Harry, as he took a handful of doughnuts she handed him.
"Sit down on this rock, and do eat all you want. I never knew what it was to be very hungry."
Harry seated himself, and proceeded to devour the food the sympathizing little maiden had given him, while she looked on with astonishment and delight as he voraciously consumed cake after cake, without seeming to produce any effect upon the "abhorred vacuum."
IN WHICH HARRY BREAKFASTS ON DOUGHNUTS, AND FINDS THAT ANGELS DO NOT ALWAYS HAVE WINGS
Harry was very hungry, and the little girl thought he would never have eaten enough. Since he had told her he had run away, she was deeply interested in him, and had a hundred questions to ask; but she did not wish to bother him while he was eating, he was so deeply absorbed in the occupation.
"What a blessed thing doughnuts are!" laughed she, as Harry leveled on the sixth cake. "I never thought much of them before, but I never shall see a doughnut again without thinking of you."
Our hero was perfectly willing to believe that doughnuts were a very beneficent institution; but just then he was too busily occupied to be sentimental over them.
"What is your name, little girl?" asked Harry as he crammed half of the cake into his mouth.
"I have a great mind not to tell you, because you wouldn't tell me what yours is," replied she, roguishly.
"You see how it is with me. I have run away from—well, from somewhere."
"And you are afraid I will tell? I won't though. But, as you killed the snake, I shall tell you. My name is Julia Bryant."
"Mine is Harry West," replied he, unable to resist the little lady's argument. "You must not tell any one about me for three days, for then I shall be out of the way."
"Where are you going, Harry?"
"Are you? They say that none but bad boys run away. I hope you are not a bad boy." And Julia glanced earnestly at the fugitive.
"I don't think I am."
"I don't think you are, either."
It was a hearty endorsement, and Harry's heart warmed as she spoke. The little maiden was not more than nine or ten years old, but she seemed to have some skill in reading faces; at least, Harry thought she had. Whatever might be said of himself, he was sure she was a good girl. In short, though Harry had never read a novel in his life, she was a little angel, even if she had no wings. He even went so far as to believe she was a little angel, commissioned by that mysterious something, which wiser and more devout persons would have called a special providence, to relieve his wants with the contents of her basket, and gladden his heart by the sunshine of her sweet smile. There is something in goodness which always finds its way to the face. It makes little girls look prettier than silks, and laces, and ribbons, and embroidery. Julia Bryant was pretty, very pretty. Harry thought so; but very likely it was the doughnuts and her kind words which constituted her beauty.
"I am pretty sure I am not a bad boy," continued Harry; "but I will tell you my own story, and you shall judge for yourself."
"You will tell me all of it—won't you?"
"To be sure I will," replied Harry, a little tartly, for he misapprehended Julia's meaning.
He thought she was afraid he would not tell his wrong acts; whereas her deep interest in him rendered her anxious to have the whole, even to the smallest particulars.
"I shall be so delighted! I do so love to hear a good story!" exclaimed Julia.
"You shall have it all; but where were you going? It will take me a good while."
"I was going to carry these doughnuts to Mrs. Lane. She is a poor widow, who lives over the back lane. She has five children, and has very hard work to get along. I carry something to her every week."
"Then you are a little angel!" added Harry, who could understand and appreciate kindness to the poor.
"Not exactly an angel, though Mrs. Lane says I am," replied Julia, with a blush.
"Aunty Gray, over to the poorhouse, used to call everybody an angel that brought her anything good. So I am sure you must be one."
"Never mind what I am now. I am dying to hear your story," interposed Julia, as she seated herself on another rock, near that occupied by Harry.
"Here goes, then"; and Harry proceeded with his tale, commencing back beyond his remembrance with the traditionary history which had been communicated to him by Mr. Nason and the paupers.
When he came to the period of authentic history, or that which was stored up in his memory, he grew eloquent, and the narrative glowed with the living fire of the hero. Julia was quite as much interested as Desdemona in the story of the swarthy Moor. His "round, unvarnished tale," adorned only with the flowers of youthful simplicity, enchained her attention, and she "loved him for the dangers he had passed;" loved him, not as Desdemona loved, but as a child loves. She was sure now that he was not a bad boy; that even a good boy might do such a thing as run away from cruel and exacting guardians.
"What a strange story, Harry! How near you came to being drowned in the river! I wonder the man had not killed you! And then they wanted to send you to prison for setting the barn afire!" exclaimed Julia, when he had finished the story.
"I came pretty near it; that's a fact!" replied Harry, warming under the approbation of his partial auditor.
"And you killed the big dog?"
"I don't know; I hope I didn't."
"But you didn't steal the horse?"
"I didn't mean to steal him."
"No one could call that stealing. But what are you going to do next, Harry?"
"I am going to Boston."
"What will you do when you get there?"
"I can go to work."
"You are not big enough to work much."
"I can do a good deal."
For some time longer they discussed Harry's story, and Julia regretted the necessity of leaving him to do her errand at Mrs. Lane's. She promised to see him when she returned, and Harry walked down to the brook to get a drink, while she continued on her way.
Our hero was deeply interested in the little girl. Like the "great guns" in the novels, he was sure she was no ordinary character. He was fully satisfied in relation to the providential nature of their meeting. She had been sent by that incomprehensible something to furnish him with food, and he trembled when he thought what might have happened if she had not come.
"I can't be a very bad boy," thought he, "or she would not have liked me. Mr. Nason used to say he could tell an ugly horse by the looks of his eye; and the schoolmaster last winter picked out all the bad boys at a glance. I can't be a very bad boy, or she would have found me out. I know I am not a bad boy. I feel right, and try to do right."
Harry's investigation invested Julia Bryant with a thousand poetical excellences. That she felt an interest in him—one so good as she—was enough to confirm all the noble resolutions he had made, and give him strength to keep them; and as he seated himself by the brook, he thought over his faults, and renewed his determination to uproot them from his character. His meeting with the "little angel," as he chose to regard her, was an oasis in the desert—a place where his moral nature could drink the pure waters of life.
No one had ever before seemed to care much whether he was a good boy or a bad boy. The minister used now and then to give him a dry lecture; but he did not seem to feel any real interest in him. He was minister, and of course he must preach; not that he cared whether a pauper boy was a saint or a sinner, but only to do the work he was hired to do, and earn his money.
Julia did not preach. Her sweet face was the "beauty of holiness." She hoped he was not a bad boy. She liked a good boy; and this was incentive enough to incur a lifetime of trial and self-sacrifice. Harry was an orphan. To have one feel an interest in his moral welfare, to have one wish him to be a good boy, had not grown stale by long continuance. He had known no anxious mother, who wished him to be good, who would weep when he did wrong. The sympathy of the little angel touched a sensitive chord in his heart and soul, and he felt that he should go forward in the great pilgrimage of life with a new desire to be true to himself, and true to her who had inspired his reverence.
Even a child cannot be good without having it felt by others. "She hoped he was not a bad boy," were the words of the little angel; and before she returned from her errand of mercy, he repeated them to himself a hundred times. They were a talisman to him, and he was sure he should never be a bad boy in the face of such a wish.
He wandered about the woods for two or three hours, impatient for the return of the little rural goddess who had taken possession of his thoughts, and filled his soul with admiration. She came at last, and glad was the welcome which he gave her.
"I have been thinking of you ever since I left you," said Julia, as she approached the place where he had been waiting her return.
Harry thought this was a remarkable coincidence. He had been thinking of her also.
"I hope you didn't think of me as a bad boy," replied he, giving expression to that which was uppermost in his mind.
"I am sure I didn't. I am sure you must be a good boy."
"I am glad you think so; and that will help me be a good boy."
"I never had any one to care whether I was good or bad. If you do, you will be the first one."
The little girl looked sad. She had a father and mother who loved her, and prayed for her every day. It seemed hard that poor Harry should have no mother to love him as her mother loved her; to watch over him day and night, to take care of him when he was sick, and, above all, to teach him to be good. She pitied the lonely orphan, and would gladly have taken him to her happy home, and shared with him all she had, even the love of her mother.
"Poor boy!" she sighed. "But I have been thinking of something," she added, in more sprightly tones.
"If you would only let me tell my father that you are here—"
"Not for the world!" cried Harry.
"O, I won't say a word, unless you give me leave; but my father is rich. He owns a great factory and a great farm. He has lots of men to work for him; and my father is a very good man, too. People will do as he wants them to do, and if you will let me tell him your story, he will go over to Redfield and make them let you stay at our house. You shall be my brother then, and we can do lots of things together. Do let me tell him."
"I don't think it would be safe. I know Squire Walker wouldn't let me go to any place where they would use me well."
"What a horrible man he must be!"
"No; I think I will go on to Boston."
"You will have a very hard time of it."
"No matter for that."
"They may catch you."
"If they do, I shall try again."
"If they do catch you, will you let my father know it? He will be your friend, for my friends are his friends."
"I will. I should be very glad to have such a friend."
"There is our dinner bell!" said Julia, as Harry heard the distant sound. "I must go home. How I wish you were going with me!"
"I wish I was. I may never see you again," added Harry, sadly.
"O, you must see me again! When you get big you must come to Rockville."
"You will not wish to see the little poorhouse boy, then."
"Won't I? I shall always be glad to see the boy that killed that snake! But I shall come up after dinner, and bring you something to eat. Do let me tell mother you are here."
"I would rather you wouldn't."
"Suppose she asks me what I am going to do with the dinner I shall bring you? I can't tell a lie."
"Don't bring any, then. I would rather not have any dinner than have you tell a lie."
Harry would not always have been so nice about a lie; but for the little angel to tell a falsehood, why, it seemed like mud on a white counterpane.
"I won't tell a lie, but you shall have your dinner. I suppose I must go now."
Harry watched the retreating form of his kind friend, till she disappeared beyond the curve of the path, and his blessing went with her.
IN WHICH HARRY FARES SUMPTUOUSLY, AND TAKES LEAVE OF THE LITTLE ANGEL
When Harry could no longer see the little angel, he fixed his eyes upon the ground, and continued to think of her. It is not every day that a pauper boy sees an angel, or even one whom the enthusiasm of the imagination invests with angelic purity and angelic affections.
In the records of individual experience, as well as in the history of the world, there are certain points of time which are rendered memorable by important events. By referring to a chronological table, the young reader will see the great events which have marked the progress of civilized nations from the lowest depths of barbarism up to their present enlightened state. Every individual, if he had the requisite wisdom, could make up a list of epochs in his own experience. Perhaps he would attach too little importance to some things, too much to others; for we cannot always clearly perceive the influences which assist in forming the character. Some trivial event, far back in the past, which inspired him with a new reverence for truth and goodness, may be forgotten. The memory may not now cherish the look, the smile of approbation, which strengthened the heart, when it was struggling against the foe within; but its influence was none the less potent. "It is the last pound which breaks the camel's back;" and that look, that smile, may have closed the door of the heart against a whole legion of evil spirits, and thus turned a life of woe and bitterness into a life of sunshine and happiness.
There are hundreds of epochs in the experience of every person, boy or man—events which raised him up or let him down in the scale of moral existence. Harry West had now reached one of these epochs in his pilgrimage.
To meet a little girl in the woods, to kill a black snake, and thus relieve her from a terrible fright, to say the least, was not a great event, as events are reckoned in the world; yet it was destined to exert a powerful influence upon his future career. It was not the magnitude of the deed performed, or the chivalrous spirit which called it forth, that made this a memorable event to Harry; it was the angel visit—the kindling influence of a pure heart that passed from her to him. But I suppose the impatient reader will not thank me for moralizing over two whole pages, and I leave the further application of the moral to the discretion of my young friends.
Harry felt strangely—more strangely than he had ever felt before. As he walked back to the cabin everything seemed to have assumed a new appearance. Somehow the trees did not look as they used to look. He saw through a different medium. His being seemed to have undergone a change. He could not account for it; perhaps he did not try.
He entered the cabin; and, without dropping the train of thought which Julia's presence suggested, he busied himself in making the place more comfortable. He shook up the straw, and made his bed, stuffed dried grass into the chinks and crannies in the roof, fastened the door up with some birch withes, and replaced some of the stones of the chimney which had fallen down. This work occupied him for nearly two hours, though, so busy were his thoughts, they seemed not more than half an hour.
He had scarcely finished these necessary repairs before he heard the light step of her who fed him, as Elijah was fed by the ravens, for it seemed like a providential supply. She saw him at the door of the cabin; and she no longer dallied with a walk, but ran with all her might.
"O, Harry, I am so glad!" she cried, out of breath, as she handed him a little basket, whose contents were carefully covered with a piece of brown paper.
"Glad of what, Julia?" asked Harry, smiling from sympathy with her.
"I have heard all about it; and I am so glad you are a good boy!" exclaimed she, panting like a pretty fawn which had gamboled its breath away.
"Father has seen and talked with—who was he?"
Harry laughed. How could he tell whom her father had seen and talked with? He was not a magician.
"The man that owned the dog, and the horse and the boat."
"O! George Leman," replied Harry, now deeply interested in the little maiden's story. "Where did he see him?"
"Over at the store. But I have brought you some dinner; and while you are eating it, I will tell you all about it. Come, there is a nice big rock—that shall be your table."
Julia, full of excitement, seized the basket, and ran to the rock, a little way from the cabin. Pulling off half a dozen great oak leaves from a shrub, she placed them on the rock.
"Here is a piece of meat, Harry, on this plate," she continued, putting it on an oak leaf; "here is a piece of pie; here is some bread and butter; here is cheese; and here is a piece of cold apple pudding. There! I forgot the sauce."
"Never mind the sauce," said Harry; and he could hardly keep from bursting into tears, as he saw how good the little angel was.
It seemed as though she could not have been more an angel, if she had had a pair of wings. The radiant face was there; the pure and loving heart was there; all was there but the wings, and he could easily imagine them.
And what a dinner! Roast beef, pudding, pie! He was not much accustomed to such luxuries; but just then he did not appreciate the sumptuousness of the feast, for it was eclipsed by the higher consideration of the devotion of the giver.
"Come, eat, Harry! I am so glad!" added Julia.
"So am I. If you feed me as high as this, I shall want to stay here a good while."
"I hope you will."
"Only to-day; to-morrow I must be moving towards Boston."
"I was hoping you would stay here a good long while. I shall be so pleased to bring you your breakfast, and dinner, and supper every day!"
"Your father would not like it."
"I don't know why he shouldn't. You are not very hungry; you don't eat as you did this morning."
"I ate so much then. Tell me, now, what your father said, Julia."
"He saw George Leman; and he told him how you tied his horse to the fence, and how careful you were to put the blanket on him, so that he shouldn't catch cold after his hard run. That was very kind of you, Harry, when you knew they were after you. Father said almost any one would have run the horse till he dropped down. That one thing showed that you were not a bad boy."
"I wouldn't have injured George Leman for anything," added Harry. "He's a good fellow, and never did me any harm."
"He said, when he found his horse, he was so glad he wouldn't have chased you any farther for all the world. He told father what Mr. Nason said about you—that you were a good boy, had good feelings, and were willing to work. He didn't blame you for not wanting to go to Jacob Wire's—wasn't that the man?"
"And he didn't blame you for running away. Nobody believes that you set the barn afire; and, Harry, they have caught the other boy—Ben Smart, wasn't it?"
"Yes, that was his name."
"They caught him in the woods, over the other side of the river."
"Did you find out whether the dog was killed?" asked Harry.
"Mr. Leman said he thought he would get over it; and he has got his boat again."
"I am glad of that; and if anybody ever catches me with such a fellow as Ben Smart again, they'll know it."
"You can't think how I wanted to tell father where you were, when he spoke so well of you. He even said he hoped you would get off, and that you must be in the woods around here somewhere. You will let me tell him now—won't you, Harry?"
"I think not."
"Why not, Harry?"
"He may hope I will get off, and still not be willing to help me off."
Julia looked very much disappointed; for she had depended upon surprising her father with the story of the snake, and the little fugitive in the woods.
"He will be very good to you," pleaded she.
"I dare say he would; but he may think it his duty to send me back to Redfield; and Squire Walker would certainly make me go to Jacob Wire's."
"But you won't go yet."
"I'm afraid you will never get to Boston."
"O, yes, I shall. I don't think it is safe for me to stay here much longer."
"Why not? Hardly any one ever goes through the woods here at this time of year but myself."
"Didn't your mother want to know what you were going to do with the dinner you brought me?"
"No, I went to the store room, and got it. She didn't see me; but I don't like to do anything unknown to her."
"You mustn't do it again."
"You must have something to eat."
"You have brought enough to last me while I stop here. To-morrow morning I must start; so I suppose I shall not see you again. But I shall never forget you," said Harry looking as sad as he felt.
"No, you mustn't go off without any breakfast. Promise me you will not go till I have brought you some."
Harry assured Julia he had enough, and tried to persuade her not to bring him any more food; but Julia was resolute, and he was obliged to promise. Having finished his dinner, she gathered up the remnants of the feast and put them in the cabin for his supper. She was afraid to remain any longer, lest she might be missed at home and Harry gallantly escorted her beyond the brook on her return home.
He busied himself during the greater part of the afternoon in gathering dry grass and dead leaves for the improvement of his bed in the cabin. About an hour before sundown, he was surprised to receive another visit from Julia Bryant. She had her little basket in one hand, and in the other she carried a little package.
"I didn't expect to see you again," said Harry, as she approached.
"I don't know as you will like what I have done," she began timidly; "but I did it for the best."
"I shall like anything you have done," answered Harry promptly, "even if you should send me back to Redfield."
"I wouldn't do such a mean thing as that; but I have told somebody that you are here."
"Have you?" asked Harry, not a little alarmed.
"You will forgive me if I have done wrong—won't you?"
Harry looked at her. He mistook her anxious appearance for sorrow at what she had done. He could not give her pain; so he told her that, whatever she had done, she was forgiven.
"But whom have you told?"
"Who is he?"
"Mrs. Lane's oldest son. He drives the baggage wagon that goes to Boston every week. He promised not to lisp a word to a single soul, and he would be your friend for my sake."
"Why did you tell him?"
"Well, you see, I was afraid you would never get to Boston; and I thought what a nice thing it would be if you could only ride all the way there with John Lane. John likes me because I carry things to his mother, and I am sure he won't tell."
"How good you are, Julia!" exclaimed Harry. "I may forget everybody else in the world; but I shall never forget you."
A tear moistened his eye, as he uttered his enthusiastic declaration.
"The worst of it is, John starts at two o'clock—right in the middle of the night."
"So much the better," replied Harry, wiping away the tear.
"You will take the wagon on the turnpike, where the cart path comes out. But you won't wake up."
"Yes, I shall."
"I am sorry to have you go; for I like you, Harry. You will be a very good boy, when you get to Boston; for they say the city is a wicked place."
"I will try."
"There are a great many temptations there, people say."
"I shall try to be as good as you are," replied Harry, who could imagine nothing better. "If I fail once, I shall try again."
"Here, Harry, I have brought you a good book—the best of all books. I have written your name and mine in it; and I hope you will keep it and read it as long as you live. It is the Bible."
Harry took the package, and thanked her for it.
"I never read the Bible much; but I shall read this for your sake."
"No, Harry; read it for your own sake."
"I will, Julia."
"How I shall long to hear from you! John Lane goes to Boston every week. Won't you write me a few lines, now and then, to let me know how you prosper, and whether you are good or not?"
"I will. I can't write much; but I suppose I can—"
"Never mind how you write, if I can only read it."
The sun had gone down, and the dark shadows of night were gathering over the forest when they parted, but a short distance from Mr. Bryant's house. With the basket which contained provisions for his journey and the Bible in his hand, he returned to the hut, to get what sleep he might before the wagon started.
IN WHICH HARRY REACHES THE CITY, AND THOUGH OFTEN DISAPPOINTED, TRIES AGAIN
Harry entered the cabin, and stretched himself on his bed of straw and leaves; but the fear that he should not wake in season to take the wagon at the appointed place, would scarcely permit him to close his eyes. He had not yet made up for the sleep he had lost; and Nature, not sharing his misgiving, at last closed and sealed his eyelids.
It would be presumptuous for me to attempt to inform the reader what Harry dreamed about on that eventful night; but I can guess that it was about angels, about bright faces and sweet smiles, and that they were very pleasant dreams. At any rate, he slept very soundly, as tired boys are apt to sleep, even when they are anxious about getting up early in the morning.
He woke, at last, with a start; for with his first consciousness came the remembrance of the early appointment. He sprang from his bed, and threw down the door of the cabin. It was still dark; the stars twinkled above, the owls screamed, and the frogs sang merrily around him. He had no means of ascertaining the time of night. It might be twelve; it might be four; and his uncertainty on this point filled him with anxiety. Better too early than too late; and grasping the basket and the Bible, which were to be the companions of his journey, he hastened down the cart path to the turnpike.
There was no sound of approaching wheels to cheer him, and the clock in the meeting house at Rockville obstinately refused to strike. He reached the designated place; there was no wagon there. Perhaps he was too late. The thought filled him with chagrin; and he was reading himself a very severe lesson for having permitted himself to sleep at all, when the church clock graciously condescended to relieve his anxiety by striking the hour.
"One," said he, almost breathless with interest.
"Two," he repeated, loud enough to be heard, if there had been any one to hear him.
"Three"; and he held his breath, waiting for more.
"No more!" he added, with disappointment and chagrin, when it was certain that the clock did not mean to strike another stroke. "I have lost my chance. What a fool I have been! Miss Julia will think that I am a smart fellow, when she finds that her efforts to get me off have been wasted. Why did I go to sleep? I might have known that I should not wake;" and he stamped his foot upon the ground with impatience.
He had been caught napping, and had lost the wagon. He was never so mortified in his life. One who was so careless did not deserve to succeed.
"One thing is clear—it is no use to cry for spilt milk," muttered he, as he jumped over the fence into the road. "I have been stupid, but try again."
Unfortunately, there was no chance to try again. Like thousands of blessed opportunities, it had passed by, never to return. He had come at the eleventh hour, and the door was closed against him. With the wagon it had been "now or never."
Harry got over his impatience, and resolved that Julia should not come to the cabin, the next morning, to find he had slept when the bridegroom came. He had a pair of legs, and there was the road. It was no use to "wait for the wagon;" legs were made before wagon wheels; and he started on the long and weary pilgrimage.
He had not advanced ten paces before pleasant sounds reached his ears. He stopped short, and listened. A wagon was certainly approaching, and his heart leaped high with hope. Was it possible that John Lane had not yet gone? Retracing his steps, he got over the fence at the place where John was to take him. Perhaps it was not he, after all. He had no right to suppose it was; but he determined to wait till the wagon had passed.
The rumbling noise grew more distinct. It was a heavy wagon, heavily loaded, and approached very slowly; but at last it reached the spot where the impatient boy was waiting.
"Whoa!" said the driver; and the horses stopped.
Harry's heart bounded with joy. Some lucky accident had detained the team, and he had regained his opportunity.
"Harry West!" said he on the wagon.
"John Lane!" replied Harry, as he leaped over the fence.
"You are on hand," added John Lane.
"I am; but I was sure you had gone. It is after three o'clock."
"I know it. I don't generally get off much before this time," answered John. "Climb up here, and let us be moving on."
It was a large wagon, with a sail-cloth cover—one of those regular baggage wagons which railroads have almost driven out of existence in Massachusetts. It was drawn by four horses, harnessed two abreast, and had a high "box" in front for the driver.
Harry nimbly climbed upon the box, and took his seat by the side of John Lane—though that worthy told him he had better crawl under the cover, where he would find plenty of room to finish his nap on a bale of goods.
"I thought likely I should have to go up to the cabin and wake you. Julia told me I must, if you were not on the spot."
"I am glad I have saved you that trouble; but Julia said you would start at two o'clock."
"Well, I get off by two or three o'clock. I don't carry the mail, so I ain't so particular. What do you mean to do when you get to Boston?"
"I mean to go to work."
"Anything I can find."
John Lane questioned the little wanderer, and drew from him all the incidents of his past history. He seemed to feel an interest in the fortunes of his companion, and gave him much good advice on practical matters, including an insight into life in the city.
"I suppose Squire Walker would give me fits, if he knew I carried you off. He was over to Rockville yesterday looking for you."
"He won't find me."
"I hope not, my boy; though I don't know as I should have meddled in the matter, if Julia hadn't teased me. I couldn't resist her. She is the best little girl in the world; and you are a lucky fellow to have such a friend."
"I am; she is an angel;" and when Harry began to think of Julia, he could not think of anything else, and the conversation was suspended.
It was a long while before either of them spoke again, and then John advised Harry to crawl into the wagon and lie down on the load. Notwithstanding his agreeable thoughts, our hero yawned now and then, and concluded to adopt the suggestion of the driver. He found a very comfortable bed on the bales, softened by heaps of mattings, which were to be used in packing the miscellaneous articles of the return freight.
John Lane took things very easily; and as the horses jogged slowly along, he relieved the monotony of the journey by singing sundry old-fashioned psalm tunes, which had not then gone out of use. He was a good singer; and Harry was so pleased with the music, and so unaccustomed to the heavy jolt of the wagon, that he could not go to sleep at once.
"While shepherds watched their flocks by night, All seated on the ground, The angel of the Lord came down, And glory shone around."
Again and again John's full and sonorous voice rolled out these familiar lines, till Harry was fairly lulled to sleep by the harmonious measures. The angel of the Lord had come down for the fortieth time, after the manner of the ancient psalmody, and for the fortieth time Harry had thought of his angel, when he dropped off to dream of the "glory that shone around."
Harry slept soundly after he got a little used to the rough motion of the wagon, and it was sunrise before he woke.
"Well, Harry, how do you feel now?" asked John, as he emerged from his lodging apartment.
"Better; I feel as bright as a new pin. Where are we?"
"We have come about twelve miles. Pretty soon we shall stop to bait the team and get some breakfast."
"I have got some breakfast in my basket. Julia gave me enough to last a week. I shan't starve, at any rate."
"No one would ever be hungry in this world, if everybody were like Julia. But you shall breakfast with me at the tavern."
"It won't be safe—will it?"
"O, yes; nobody will know you here."
"Well, I have got some money to pay for anything I have."
"Keep your money, Harry; you will want it all when you get to Boston."
After going a few miles farther, they stopped at a tavern, where the horses were fed, and Harry ate such a breakfast as a pauper never ate before. John would not let him pay for it, declaring that Julia's friends were his friends.
The remaining portion of the journey was effected without any incident worthy of narrating, and they reached the city about noon. Of course the first sight of Boston astonished Harry. His conceptions of a city were entirely at fault; and though it was not a very large city twenty-five years ago, it far exceeded his expectations.
Harry had a mission before him, and he did not permit his curiosity to interfere with that. John drove down town to deliver his load; and Harry went with him, improving every opportunity to obtain work. When the wagon stopped, he went boldly into the stores in the vicinity to inquire if they "wanted to hire a hand."
Now, Harry was not exactly in a condition to produce a very favorable impression upon those to whom he applied for work. His clothes were never very genteel, nor very artistically cut and made; and they were threadbare, and patched at the knees and elbows. A patch is no disguise to a man or boy, it is true; but if a little more care had been taken to adapt the color and kind of fabric in Harry's patches to the original garment, his general appearance would undoubtedly have been much improved. Whether these patches really affected his ultimate success I cannot say—only that they were an inconvenience at the outset.
It was late in the afternoon before John Lane had unloaded his merchandise and picked up his return freight. Thus far Harry had been unsuccessful; no one wanted a boy; or if they did, they did not want such a boy as Harry appeared to be. His country garb, with the five broad patches, seemed to interfere with the working out of his manifest destiny. Yet he was not disheartened. Spruce clerks and ill-mannered boys laughed at him; but he did not despond.
"Try again," exclaimed he, as often as he was told that his services were not required.
When the wagon reached Washington Street, Harry wanted to walk, for the better prosecution of his object; and John gave him directions so that he could find Major Phillips's stable, where he intended to put up for the night.
Harry trotted along among the gay and genteel people that thronged the sidewalk; but he was so earnest about his mission, that he could not stop to look at their fine clothes, nor even at the pictures, the gewgaws, and gimcracks that tempted him from the windows.
"'Boy wanted'" Harry read on a paper in the window of a jeweler's shop. "Now's my time;" and, without pausing to consider the chances that were against him, he entered the store.
"You want a boy—don't you?" asked he of a young man behind the counter.
"We do," replied the person addressed, looking at the applicant with a broad grin on his face.
"I should like to hire out," continued Harry, with an earnestness that would have secured the attention of any man but an idiot.
"Do you? Your name is Joseph—isn't it?"
"No, sir; my name is Harry West."
"O, I thought it was Joseph. The Book says he had a coat of many colors, though I believe it don't say anything about the trousers," sneered the shopkeeper.
"Never mind the coat or the trousers. If you want to hire a boy, I will do the best I can for you," replied Harry, willing to appreciate the joke of the other, if he could get a place.
"You won't answer for us; you come from the country."
"What did you come to Boston for?"
"You had better go back, and let yourself to some farmer. You will make a good scarecrow to hang up in the field. No crow would ever come near you, I'll warrant."
Harry's blood boiled with indignation at this gratuitous insult. His cheeks reddened, and he looked about him for the means of inflicting summary vengeance upon the poltroon who so wantonly trifled with his glowing aspirations.
"Move on, boy; we don't want you," added the man.
"You are a ——"
I will not write what Harry said. It was a vulgar epithet, coupled with a monstrous oath for so small a boy to utter. The shopkeeper sprang out from his counter; but Harry retreated, and escaped him, though not till he had repeated the vulgar and profane expression.
But he was sorry for what he had said before he had gone ten paces.
"What would the little angel say, if she had heard that?" Harry asked himself. "'Twon't do; I must try again."
IN WHICH HARRY SUDDENLY GETS RICH AND HAS A CONVERSATION WITH ANOTHER HARRY
By the time he reached the stable, Harry would have given almost anything to have recalled the hasty expressions he had used. He had acquired the low and vulgar habit of using profane language at the poorhouse. He was conscious that it was not only wicked to do so, but that it was very offensive to many persons who did not make much pretension to piety, or even morality; and, in summing up his faults in the woods, he had included this habit as one of the worst.
She hoped he was a good boy—Julia Bryant, the little angel, hoped so. Her blood would have frozen in her veins if she had listened to the irreverent words he had uttered in the shop. He had broken his resolution, broken his promise to the little angel, on the first day he had been in the city. It was a bad beginning; but instead of permitting this first failure to do right to discourage him, he determined to persevere—to try again.
A good life, a lofty character, with all the trials and sacrifices which it demands, is worth working for; and those who mean to grow better than they are will often be obliged to "try again." The spirit may be willing to do well, but the flesh is weak, and we are all exposed to temptation. We may make our good resolutions—and it is very easy to make them, but when we fail to keep them—it is sometimes very hard to keep them—we must not be discouraged, but do as Harry did—TRY AGAIN. The strong Spirit may conquer the weak Flesh.
"Well, Harry, how did you make out?" asked John Lane, when Harry joined him at the stable.
"I didn't make out at all. Nobody seems to want a boy like me."
"O, well, you will find a place. Don't be discouraged."
"I am not. To-morrow I shall try again."
"I don't know what I shall do with you to-night. Every bed in the tavern up the street, where I stop, is full. I shall sleep with another teamster."
"Never mind me! I can sleep in the wagon. I have slept in worse places than that."
"I will fix a place for you, then."
After they had prepared his bed, Harry drew out his basket, and proceeded to eat his supper. He then took a walk down Washington Street, with John, went to an auction, and otherwise amused himself till after nine o'clock, when he returned to the stable.
After John had left him, as he was walking towards the wagon, with the intention of retiring for the night, his foot struck against something which attracted his attention. He kicked it once or twice, to determine what it was, and then picked it up.
"By gracious!" he exclaimed; "it is a pocketbook. My fortune is made;" and without stopping to consider the matter any further, he scrambled into the wagon.
His heart jumped with excitement, for his vivid imagination had already led him to the conclusion that it was stuffed full of money. It might contain a hundred dollars, perhaps five hundred; and these sums were about as far as his ideas could reach.
He could buy a suit of new clothes, a new cap, new shoes, and be as spruce as any of the boys he had seen about the city. Then he could go to a boarding house, and live like a prince, till he could get a place that suited him; for Harry, however rich he might be, did not think of living without labor of some kind. He could dress himself up in fine broadcloth, present himself at the jeweler's shop where they wanted a boy, and then see whether he would make a good scarecrow.
Then his thoughts reverted to the cabin, where he had slept two nights, and, of course, to the little angel, who had supplied the commissary department during his sojourn in the woods. He could dress himself up with the money in the pocketbook, and, after a while, when he got a place, take the stage for Rockville. Wouldn't she be astonished to see him then, in fine broadcloth! Wouldn't she walk with him over to the spot where he had killed the black snake! Wouldn't she be proud to tell her father that this was the boy she had fed in the woods!
What would she say to him? He had promised to write to her when he got settled, and tell her how he got along, and whether he was good or not. What should he say? How glad she would be to hear that he was getting along so finely!
"Stop!" said he to himself. "What have I been thinking about? This pocketbook isn't mine."
I am sorry to say it, but Harry really felt sad when the thought occurred to him. He had been building very pretty air castles on this money, and this reflection suddenly tumbled them all down—new clothes, new cap, boarding house, visit to Rockville—all in a heap.
"But I found it," Harry reasoned with himself.
Something within him spoke out, saying:
"You stole it, Harry."
"No, I didn't; I found it."
"If you don't return it to the owner, you will be a thief," continued the voice within.
"Nobody will know that I found it. I dare say the owner does not want it half so much as I do."
"No matter for that, Harry; if you keep it you will be a thief."
He could not compromise with that voice within. It was the real Harry, within the other Harry, that spoke, and he was a very obstinate fellow, positively refusing to let him keep the pocketbook, at any rate.
"What am I about? She hoped I would be a good boy, and the evil one is catching me as fast as he can," resumed Harry.
"Be a good boy," added the other Harry.
"I mean to be, if I can."
"The little angel will be very sad when she finds out that you are a thief."
"I don't mean to be a thief. But this pocketbook will make me rich. She never will know anything about it."
"If she does not, there is One above who will know, and his angels will frown upon you, and stamp your crime upon your face. Then you will go about like Cain, with a mark upon you."
"Pooh!" said the outer Harry, who was sorely tempted by the treasure within his grasp.
"You will not dare to look the little angel in the face, if you steal this money. She will know you are not good, then. Honest folks always hold their heads up, and are never ashamed to face any person."
"I don't keep it!" replied the struggling, tempted Flesh. "Why did I think of such a thing?"
He felt strong then, for the Spirit had triumphed over the Flesh. The foe within had been beaten back, at least for the moment; and as he laid his head upon the old coat that was to serve him for a pillow, he thought of Julia Bryant. He thought he saw her sweet face, and there was an angelic smile upon it.
My young readers will remember, after Jesus had been tempted, and said, "Get thee behind, Satan," that "behold, angels came and ministered unto him." They came and ministered to Harry after he had cast out the evil thought; they come and minister to all who resist temptation. They come in the heart, and minister with the healing balm of an approving conscience.
Placing the pocketbook under his head, with the intention of finding the owner in the morning, he went to sleep. The fatigue and excitement of the day softened his pillow, and not once did he open his eyes till the toils of another day had commenced around him. I question whether he would have slept so soundly if he had decided to keep the pocketbook.
But the tempter was not banished. He had only been conquered for the moment—subdued only to attack him again. The first thought of the treasure, in the morning, was to covet it. Again he allowed his fancy to picture the comforts and the luxuries which it would purchase.
"No one will know it," he added. "Why shouldn't I keep it?"
"God will know it; you will know it yourself," said the other Harry, more faithful and conscientious than the outside Harry, who, it must be confessed, was sometimes disposed to be the "Old Harry."
"No use of being too good. I will keep it."
"She hoped you would be a good boy," added the monitor within.
"I will—that is, when I can afford it."
"Be good now, or you never will."
One hundred dollars!—perhaps five hundred! It was a fortune. The temptation was very great. But the little angel—the act would forever banish him from her presence. He would never dare to look at her again, or even to write the letter he had promised.
"Be true to yourself, Harry. Good first, and rich next."
"I will," exclaimed Harry, in an earnest whisper; and again the tempter was cast out.
Once more the fine air castles began to pile themselves up before him, standing on the coveted treasure; but he resolutely pitched them down, and banished them from his mind.
"Where did you lose it?" said a voice near the wagon.
"I don't know. I didn't miss it till this morning; and I have been to every place where I was last night; so I think I must have lost it here, when I put my horse up," replied another.
The first speaker was one of the ostlers; and the moment Harry heard the other voice he started as though a rattlesnake had rattled in his path. Was it possible? As the speaker proceeded, he was satisfied beyond the possibility of a doubt that the voice belonged to Squire Walker.
"Was there much money in it?" asked the ostler.
"About a hundred and fifty dollars; and there were notes and other papers of great value," replied Squire Walker.
"Well, I haven't seen or heard anything about it."
"I remember taking it out of my great-coat pocket, and putting it into a pocket inside of my vest, when I got out of the wagon."
"I don't think you lost it here. Some of us would have found it, if you had."
Here was a dilemma for Harry. He had determined to restore the pocketbook; but he could not do so without exposing himself. Besides, if there had been any temptation to keep the treasure before, it was ten times as great now that he knew it belonged to his enemy. It would be no sin to keep it from Squire Walker.
"It would be stealing," said the voice within.
"But if I give it to him, he will carry me back to Jacob Wire's. I'll be—I'll be hanged if I do."
"She hopes you will be a good boy."
There was no resisting this appeal; and again the demon was put down, and the triumph added another laurel to the moral crown of the little hero.
"It will be a dear journey to me," continued Squire Walker. "I was looking all day yesterday after a boy that ran away from the poorhouse, and came to the city for him. I had better let him go."
"Did you find him?"
"No. I brought that money down to put in the bank. It is gone, I suppose. Confound the boy!"
Harry waited no longer; but while his heart beat like the machinery in the great factory at Rockville, he tumbled out of his nest, and slid down the bale of goods to the pavement.
"Ah, Master Harry West! You are here—are you?" exclaimed Squire Walker, springing forward to catch him.
Harry dodged, and kept out of his reach.
"Catch him!" shouted the squire to the ostler.
"Wait a minute, Squire Walker," said Harry. "I won't go back to Jacob Wire's, anyhow. Just hear what I have got to say; and then, if you want to take me, you may, if you can."
It was evident, even to the squire, that Harry had something of importance to say; and he involuntarily paused to hear it.
"I have found your pocketbook, squire, and—"
"Give it to me, and I won't touch you," cried the overseer, eagerly.
It was clear that the loss of his pocketbook had produced a salutary impression on the squire's mind. He loved money, and the punishment was more than he could bear.
"I was walking along here, last night, when I struck my foot against something. I picked it up, and found it was a pocketbook. I haven't opened it. Here it is;" and Harry handed him his lost treasure.
"By gracious!" exclaimed he, after he had assured himself that the contents of the pocketbook had not been disturbed. "That is more than ever I expected of you, Master Harry West."
"I mean to be honest," replied Harry, proudly.
"Perhaps you do. I told you, Harry, I wouldn't touch you; and I won't," continued the squire. "You may go."
The overseer was amazed. He had come to Boston with the intention of catching Harry, cost what it might,—he meant to charge the expense to the town; but the recovery of his money had warmed his heart, and banished the malice he cherished toward the boy.
Squire Walker volunteered some excellent advice for the guidance of the little pilgrim, who, he facetiously observed, had now no one to look after his manners and morals—manners first, and morals afterwards. He must be very careful and prudent, and he wished him well. Harry, however, took this wholesome counsel as from whom it came, and was not very deeply impressed by it.
John Lane came to the stable soon after, and congratulated our hero upon the termination of the persecution from Redfield, and, when his horses were hitched on, bade him good bye, with many hearty wishes for his future success.
IN WHICH HARRY BECOMES A STABLE BOY, AND HEARS BAD NEWS FROM ROCKVILLE
Harry was exceedingly rejoiced at the remarkable turn his affairs had taken. It is true, he had lost the treasure upon which his fancy had built so many fine castles; but he did not regret the loss, since it had purchased his exemption from the Redfield persecution. He had conquered his enemy—which was a great victory—by being honest and upright; and he had conquered himself—which was a greater victory—by listening to the voice within him. He resisted temptation, and the victory made him strong.
Our hero had won a triumph, but the battlefield was still spread out before him. There were thousands of enemies lurking in his path, ready to fall upon and despoil him of his priceless treasure—his integrity.
"She had hoped he would be a good boy." He had done his duty—he had been true in the face of temptation. He wanted to write to Julia then, and tell her of his triumph—that, when tempted, he had thought of her, and won the victory.
The world was before him; it had no place for idlers, and he must get work. The contents of the basket were not yet exhausted, and he took it to a retired corner to eat his breakfast. While he was thus engaged, Joe Flint, the ostler, happened to see him.
"That is cold comfort," said he. "Why don't you go to the tavern and have your breakfast like a gentleman?"
"I can't afford it," replied Harry.
"Can't afford it? How much did the man that owned the pocketbook give you?"
"Nothing! I'm blamed if he ain't a mean one!" exclaimed Joe, heartily. "I don't wonder you run away."
"I didn't want anything. I was too glad to get clear of him to think of anything else."
"Next time he loses his pocketbook, I hope he won't find it."
And with this charitable observation, Joe resumed his labors. Harry finished his meal, washed it down with a draught of cold water at the pump, and was ready for business again. Unfortunately, there was no business ready for him. All day long he wandered about the streets in search of employment; but people did not appreciate his value. No one would hire him or have anything to do with him. The five patches on his clothes, he soon discovered, rendered it useless for him to apply at the stores. He was not in a condition to be tolerated about one of these; and he turned his attention to the market, the stables, and the teaming establishments, yet with no better success. It was in vain that he tried again; and at night, weary and dispirited, he returned to Major Phillips's stable.
His commissariat was not yet exhausted; and he made a hearty supper from the basket. It became an interesting question for him to consider how he should pass the night. He could not afford to pay one of his quarters for a night's lodging at the tavern opposite. There was the stable, however, if he could get permission to sleep there.
"May I sleep in the hay loft, Joe?" he asked, as the ostler passed him.
"Major Phillips don't allow any one to sleep in the hay loft; but perhaps he will let you sleep there. He was asking about you to-day."
"How should he know anything about me?" said Harry, not a little surprised to find his fame had gone before him.
"He heard about the pocketbook, and wanted to see you. He said it was the meanest thing he ever heard of, that the man who lost it didn't give you anything; and them's my sentiments exactly. Here comes the major; I will speak to him about you."
"Thank you, Joe."
"Major Phillips, this boy wants to know if he may sleep in the hay loft to-night."
"No," replied the stable keeper, short as pie crust.
"This is the boy that found the pocketbook, and he hain't got no place to sleep."
"O, is it? Then I will find a place for him to sleep. So, my boy, you are an honest fellow."
"I try to be," replied Harry, modestly.
"If you had kept the pocketbook you might have lodged at the Tremont House."
"I had rather sleep in your stable, without it."
"Squire Walker was mean not to give you a ten-dollar bill. What are you going to do with yourself?"
"I want to get work; perhaps you have got something for me to do. I am used to horses."
"Well, I don't know as I have."
Major Phillips was a great fat man, rough, vulgar, and profane in his conversation; but he had a kind of sympathizing nature. Though he swore like a pirate sometimes, his heart was in the right place, so far as humanity was concerned.
He took Harry into the counting room of the stable, and questioned him in regard to his past history and future prospects. The latter, however, were just now rather clouded. He told the major his experience in trying to get something to do, and was afraid he should not find a place.
The stable keeper was interested in him and in his story. He swore roundly at the meanness of Jacob Wire and Squire Walker, and commended him for running away.
"Well, my lad, I don't know as I can do much for you. I have three ostlers now, which is quite enough, and all I can afford to pay; but I suppose I can find enough for a boy to do about the house and the stable. How much wages do you expect?"
"Whatever you think I can earn."
"You can't earn much for me just now; but if you are a-mind to try it, I will give you six dollars a month and your board."
"Thank you, sir; I shall be very glad of the chance."
"Very well; but if you work for me, you must get up early in the morning, and be wide awake."
"I will, sir."
"Now, we will see about a place for you to sleep."
Over the counting room was an apartment in which two of the ostlers slept. There was room for another bed, and one was immediately set up for Harry's use.
Once more, then, our hero was at home, if a mere abiding place deserves that hallowed name. It was not an elegant, or even a commodious, apartment in which Harry was to sleep. The walls were dingy and black; the beds looked as though they had never been clean; and there was a greasy smell which came from several harnesses that were kept there. It was comfortable, if not poetical; and Harry soon felt perfectly at home.
His first duty was to cultivate the acquaintance of the ostlers. He found them to be rough, good-natured men, not over-scrupulous about their manners or their morals. If it does not occur to my young readers, it will to their parents, that this was not a fit place for a boy—that he was in constant contact with corruption. His companions were good-hearted men; but this circumstance rendered them all the more dangerous. There was no fireside of home, at which the evil effects of communication with men of loose morals would be counteracted. Harry had not been an hour in their society before he caught himself using a big oath—which, when he had gone to bed, he heartily repented, renewing his resolution with the promise to try again.
He was up bright and early the next morning, made a fire in the counting room, and had let out half the horses in the stable to water, before Major Phillips came out. His services were in demand, as Joe Flint, for some reason, had not come to the stable that morning.
The stable keeper declared that he had gone on a "spree," and told Harry he might take his place.
Harry did take his place; and the ostlers declared that, in everything but cleaning the horses, he made good his place. The knowledge and skill which he had obtained at the poorhouse was of great value to him; and, at night, though he was very tired, he was satisfied that he had done a good day's work.
The ostlers took their meals at the house of Major Phillips, which stood at one side of the stable yard. Harry did not like Mrs. Phillips very well; she was cross, and the men said she was a "regular Tartar." But he was resolved to keep the peace. He afterwards found it a difficult matter; for he had to bring wood and water, and do other chores about the house, and he soon ascertained that she was determined not to be pleased with anything he did. He tried to keep his temper, however, and meekly submitted to all her scolding and grumbling.
Thus far, while Harry has been passing through the momentous period of his life with which we commenced his story, we have minutely detailed the incidents of his daily life, so that we have related the events of only a few days. This is no longer necessary. He has got a place, and of course one day is very much like every other. The reader knows him now—knows what kind of boy he is, and what his hopes and expectations are. The reader knows, too, the great moral epoch in his history—the event which roused his consciousness of error, and stimulated him to become better; that he has a talisman in his mind, which can be no better expressed than by those words he so often repeated, "She hoped he would be a good boy." And her angel smile went with him to encourage him in the midst of trial and temptation—to give him the victory over the foes that assailed him.
We shall henceforth give results, instead of a daily record, stopping to detail only the great events of his career.
We shall pass over three months, during which time he worked diligently and faithfully for Major Phillips. Every day had its trials and temptations; not a day passed in which there were none. The habit of using profane language he found it very hard to eradicate; but he persevered; and though he often sinned, he as often repented and tried again, until he had fairly mastered the enemy. It was a great triumph, especially when it is remembered that he was surrounded by those whose every tenth word at least was an oath.
He was tempted to lie, tempted to neglect his work, tempted to steal, tempted in a score of other things. And often he yielded; but the remembrance of the little angel, and the words of the good Book she had given him, cheered and supported him as he struggled on.
Harry's finances were in a tolerably prosperous condition. With his earnings he had bought a suit of clothes, and went to church half a day every Sunday. Besides his wages, he had saved about five dollars from the "perquisites" which he received from customers for holding their horses, running errands, and other little services a boy could perform. He was very careful and prudent with his money; and whenever he added anything to his little hoard, he thought of the man who had become rich by saving up his fourpences. He still cherished his purpose to become a rich man, and it is very likely he had some brilliant anticipations of success. Not a cent did he spend foolishly, though it was hard work to resist the inclination to buy the fine things that tempted him from the shop windows.
Those who knew him best regarded him as a very strange boy; but that was only because he was a little out of his element. He would have preferred to be among men who did not bluster and swear; but, in spite of them, he had the courage and the fortitude to be true to himself. The little angel still maintained her ascendency in his moral nature.
The ostlers laughed at him when he took out his little Bible, before he went to bed, to drink of the waters of life. They railed at him, called him "Little Pious," and tried to induce him to pitch cents, in the back yard, on Sunday afternoon, instead of going to church. He generally bore these taunts with patience, though sometimes his high spirit would get the better of his desire to be what the little angel wished him to be.
John Lane put up at the stable once a week; and, every time he returned to Rockville, he carried a written or a verbal account of the prosperity of the little pauper boy. One Sunday, he wrote her a long letter all about "being good"—how he was tempted, and how he struggled for her sake and for the sake of the truth.
In return, he often received messages and letters from her, breathing the same pure spirit which she had manifested when she "fed him in the wilderness." These communications strengthened his moral nature, and enabled him to resist temptation. He felt just as though she was an angel sent into the world to watch over him. Perhaps he had fallen without them; at any rate, her influence was very powerful.
About the middle of January, when the earth was covered with snow, and the bleak, cold winds of winter blew over the city, John Lane informed Harry, on his arrival, that Julia was very sick with the scarlet fever and canker rash, and it was feared she would not recover.
This was the most severe trial of all. He wept when he thought of her sweet face reddened with the flush of fever; and he fled to his chamber, to vent his emotions in silence and solitude.
IN WHICH HARRY DOES A GOOD DEED, AND DETERMINES TO "FACE THE MUSIC"
While Harry sat by the stove in the ostlers' room, grieving at the intelligence he had received from Rockville, a little girl, so lame that she walked with a crutch, hobbled into the apartment.
"Is my father here?" she asked, in tones so sad that Harry could not help knowing she was in distress.
"I don't know as I am acquainted with your father," replied Harry.
"He is one of the ostlers here."
"Oh, Joseph Flint!"
"Yes; he has not been home to dinner or supper to-day, and mother is very sick."
"I haven't seen him to-day."
"O, dear! What will become of us?" sighed the little girl, as she hobbled away.
Harry was struck by the sad appearance of the girl, and the desponding words she uttered. Of late, Joe Flint's vile habit of intemperance had grown upon him so rapidly that he did not work at the stable more than one day in three. For two months, Major Phillips had been threatening to discharge him; and nothing but kindly consideration for his family had prevented him from doing so.
"Have you seen Joe to-day?" asked Harry of one of the ostlers, who came into the room soon after the departure of the little girl.
"No, and don't want to see him," replied Abner, testily; for, in Joe's absence, his work had to be done by the other ostlers, who did not feel very kindly towards him.
"His little girl has just been here after him."
"Very likely he hasn't been home for a week," added Abner. "I should think his family would be very thankful if they never saw him again. He is a nuisance to himself and everybody else."
"Where does he live?"
"Just up in Avery Street—in a ten-footer there."
"The little girl said her mother was very sick."
"I dare say. She is always sick; and I don't much wonder. Joe Flint is enough to make any one sick. He has been drunk about two-thirds of the time for two months."
"I don't see how his family get along."
"Nor I, either."
After Abner had warmed himself, he left the room. Harry was haunted by the sad look and desponding tones of the poor lame girl. It was a bitter cold evening; and what if Joe's family were suffering with the cold and hunger! It was sad to think of such a thing; and Harry was deeply moved.
"She hoped I would be a good boy. She is very sick now, and perhaps she will die," said Harry to himself. "What would she do, if she were here now?"
He knew very well what she would do, and he determined to do it himself. His heart was so deeply moved by the picture of sorrow and suffering with which his imagination had invested the home of the intemperate ostler that it required no argument to induce him to go.
But he must go prepared to do something. However sweet and consoling may be the sympathy of others to those in distress, it will not warm the chilled limbs or feed the hungry mouths; and Harry thanked God then that he had not spent his money foolishly upon gewgaws and gimcracks, or in gratifying a selfish appetite.
After assuring himself that no one was approaching, he jumped on his bedstead, and reaching up into a hole in the board ceiling of the room, he took out a large wooden pill box, which was nearly filled with various silver coins, from a five-cent piece to a half dollar. Putting the box in his pocket, he went down to the stable, and inquired more particularly in relation Joe's house.
When he had received such directions as would enable him to find the place, he told Abner he wanted to be absent a little while, and left the stable. He had no difficulty in finding the home of the drunkard's family. It was a little, old wooden house, in Avery Street, opposite Haymarket Place, which has long since been pulled down to make room for a more elegant dwelling.
Harry knocked, and was admitted by the little lame girl whom he had seen at the stable.
"I have come to see if I can do anything for you," said Harry, as he moved forward into the room in which the family lived.
"Have you seen anything of father?" asked the little girl.
"I haven't; Abner says he hasn't been to the stable to-day. Haven't you any lights?" asked Harry, as he entered the dark room.
"We haven't got any oil, nor any candles."
In the fireplace, a piece of pine board was blazing, which cast a faint and fitful glare into the room; and Harry was thus enabled to behold the scene which the miserable home of the drunkard presented.
In one corner was a dilapidated bedstead, on which lay the sick woman. Drawn from under it was a trundle bed, upon which lay two small children, who had evidently been put to bed at that early hour to keep them warm, for the temperature of the apartment was scarcely more comfortable than that of the open air. It was a cheerless home; and the faint light of the blazing board only served to increase the desolate appearance of the place.
"Who is it?" asked the sick woman, faintly.
"The boy that works at the stable," replied the lame girl.
"My name is Harry West, marm; and I come to see if you wanted anything," added Harry.
"We want a great many things," sighed she. "Can you tell me where my husband is?"
"I can't; he hasn't been at the stable to-day."
"Oh, God! what will become of us?" sobbed the woman.
"I will help you, marm. Don't take on so. I have money! and I will do everything I can for you."
When her mother sobbed, the lame girl sat down on the bed and cried bitterly. Harry's tender heart was melted; and he would have wept also if he had not been conscious of the high mission he had to perform; and he felt very grateful that he was able to dry up those tears and carry gladness to those bleeding hearts.
"I don't know what you can do for us," said the poor woman, "though I am sure I am very much obliged to you."
"I can do a great deal, marm. Cheer up," replied Harry, tenderly.
As he spoke, one of the children in the trundle bed sobbed in its sleep; and the poor mother's heart seemed to be lacerated by the sound.
"Poor child," wailed she. "He had no supper but a crust of bread and a cup of cold water. He cried himself to sleep with cold and hunger. Oh, Heaven! that we should have come to this!"
"And the room is very cold," added Harry, glancing around him.
"It is. Our wood is all gone but two great logs. Katy could not bring them up."
"I worked for an hour trying to split some pieces off them," said Katy, the lame girl.
"I will fix them, marm," replied Harry, who felt the strength of ten stout men in his limbs at that moment. "But you have had no supper."
"Wait a minute. Have you a basket?"
Katy brought him a peck basket, and Harry rushed out of the house as though he had been shot. Great deeds were before him, and he was inspired for the occasion.
In a quarter of an hour he returned. The basket was nearly full. Placing it in a chair, he took from it a package of candles, one of which he lighted and placed in a tin candlestick on the table.
"Now we have got a little light on the subject," said he, as he began to display the contents of the basket. "Here, Katy, is two pounds of meat; here is half a pound of tea; you had better put a little in the teapot, and let it be steeping for your mother."
"God bless you!" exclaimed Mrs. Flint. "You are an angel sent from Heaven to help us in our distress."
"No, marm; I ain't an angel," answered Harry, who seemed to feel that Julia Bryant had an exclusive monopoly of that appellation, so far as it could be reasonably applied to mortals. "I only want to do my duty, marm."
Katy Flint was so bewildered that she could say nothing, though her opinion undoubtedly coincided with that of her mother.
"Here is two loaves of bread and two dozen crackers; a pound of butter; two pounds of sugar. There! I did not bring any milk."
"Never mind the milk. You are a blessed child."
"Give me a pitcher, Katy. I will go down to Thomas's in two shakes of a jiffy."
Mrs. Flint protested that she did not want any milk—that she could get along very well without it; but Harry said the children must have it; and, without waiting for Katy to get the pitcher, he took it from the closet, and ran out of the house.
He was gone but a few minutes. When he returned he found Katy trying to make the teakettle boil, but with very poor success.
"Now, Katy, show me the logs, and I will soon have a fire."
The lame girl conducted him to the cellar, where Harry found the remnants of the old box which Katy had tried to split. Seizing the axe, he struck a few vigorous blows, and the pine boards were reduced to a proper shape for use. Taking an armful, he returned to the chamber; and soon a good fire was blazing under the teakettle.
"There, marm, we will soon have things to rights," said Harry, as he rose from the hearth, where he had stooped down to blow the fire.
"I am sure we should have perished if you had not come," added Mrs. Flint, who was not disposed to undervalue Harry's good deeds.
"Then I am very glad I came."
"I hope we shall be able to pay you back all the money you have spent; but I don't know. Joseph has got so bad, I don't know what he is coming to. He is a good-hearted man. He always uses me well, even when he is in liquor. Nothing but drink could make him neglect us so."
"It is a hard case, marm," added Harry.
"Very hard; he hasn't done much of anything for us this winter. I have been out to work every day till a fortnight ago, when I got sick and couldn't do anything. Katy has kept us alive since then; she is a good girl, and takes the whole care of Tommy and Susan."
"Poor girl! It is a pity she is so lame."
"I don't mind that, if I only had things to do with," said Katy, who was busy disposing of the provisions which Harry had bought.
As soon as the kettle boiled, she made tea, and prepared a little toast for her mother, who, however, was too sick to take much nourishment.
"Now, Katy, you must eat yourself," interposed Harry, when all was ready.
"I can't eat," replied the poor girl, bursting into tears. "I don't feel hungry."
"You must eat."
Just then the children in the trundle bed, disturbed by the unusual bustle in the room, waked, and gazed with wonder at Harry, who had seated himself on the bed.
"Poor Susy!" exclaimed Katy; "she has waked up. And Tommy, too! They shall have their supper, now."
They were taken up; and Harry's eyes were gladdened by such a sight as he had never beheld before. The hungry ate; and every mouthful they took swelled the heart of the little almoner of God's bounty. If the thought of Julia Bryant, languishing on a bed of sickness, had not marred his satisfaction, he had been perfectly happy. But he was doing a deed that would rejoice her heart; he was doing just what she had done for him; he was doing just what she would have done, if she had been there.
"She hoped he would be a good boy." His conscience told him he had been a good boy—that he had been true to himself, and true to the noble example she had set before him.
While the family were still at supper, Harry, lighting another candle, went down cellar to pay his respects to those big logs. He was a stout boy, and accustomed to the use of the axe. By slow degrees he chipped off the logs, until they were used up, and a great pile of serviceable wood was before him. Not content with this, he carried up several large armfuls of it, which he deposited by the fireplace in the room.
"Now, marm, I don't know as I can do anything more for you to-night," said he, moving towards the door.
"The Lord knows you have done enough," replied the poor woman. "I hope we shall be able to pay you for what you have done."
"I don't want anything, marm."
"If we can't pay you, the Lord will reward you."
"I am paid enough already. I hope you will get better, marm."
"I hope so. I feel better to-night than I have felt before for a week."
"Good night, marm! Good night, Katy!" And Harry hurried back to the stable.
"Where have you been, Harry?" asked Abner, when he entered the ostler's room.
"I have been out a little while."
"I know that. The old man wanted you; and when he couldn't find you, he was mad as thunder."
"Where is he?" said Harry, somewhat annoyed to find that, while he had been doing his duty in one direction, he had neglected his duty in another.
"In the counting room. You will catch fits for going off."
Whatever he should catch, he determined to "face the music," and left the room to find his employer.
IN WHICH HARRY MAKES THE ACQUAINTANCE OF A VERY IMPORTANT PERSONAGE
Major Phillips was in the counting room, where Harry, dreading his anger, presented himself before him. His employer was a violent man. He usually acted first, and thought the matter over afterwards; so that he frequently had occasion to undo what had been done in haste and passion. His heart was kind, but his temper generally had the first word.
"So you have come, Harry," exclaimed he, as our hero opened the door. "Where have you been?"
"I have been out a little while," replied Harry, whose modesty rebelled at the idea of proclaiming the good deed he had done.
"Out a little while!" roared the major, with an oath that froze the boy's blood. "That is enough—enough, sir. You know I don't allow man or boy to leave the stable without letting me know it."
"I was wrong, sir; but I—"
"You little snivelling monkey, how dared you leave the stable?" continued the stable keeper, heedless of the boy's submission. "I'll teach you better than that."
"Will you?" said Harry, suddenly changing his tone, as his blood began to boil. "You can begin as quick as you like."
"You saucy young cub! I have a great mind to give you a cowhiding," thundered the enraged stable keeper.