Susan Warner.

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Do you mind trouble ? I know, though."

"I don't mind trouble when there is anything
to be got by it. I wouldn't mind going up twice
as many stairs to get to this."

" Well now you can talk, Stephen, and nobody
will hear you, only me. Now tell me all about

" But I don't want anybody to know, Posie."

" I won't tell."

" Are you sure ? "

" I'll say I don't know anything about it."

" Posie, Posie ! you mustn't say that. Not if I
tell you."

"That's the easiest way. Why mustn't I say


" Posie, God says we mustn't. It is what he
don't like."


" Telling stories. * A lying tongue is but for a

" That aint lying."

" yes, Posie. Saying what isn't true that is

"But it's no harm. Everybody does it, except

" Nobody does it, who loves Jesus. And if any-


body does it, He is displeased. It is always harm
to displease him. And I don't want you to displease

" Why not ? what will he do to me ? "

" It isn't that, Posie ; but Jesus loves us and wants
us to be good ; and he will make us good, if we will
let him, And then it is so happy ! We belong to
him, and he says we belong to him; and he will
take care of us, and love us, and bring us to
heaven, and give us white robes, and make us like
the angels."

"I don't want to go to heaven. I'd rather be
here, with pa and ma."

"0 but you wouldn't say so if you loved the
Lord Jesus. And you can't stay here always; and
where will you go then ? "

" Where pa goes."

" Then you'd better get him to go to heaven."

" He will of course ; he's good."

" Is he a servant of God ? "

"I don't know," said Posie, looking strangely
at her questioner. "I never asked him. He's
good, anyhow; that I know. He's as good as any
body!" "

Stephen did not know what to answer. He had
a childish assurance that Mr. Hardenbrook's good
ness, well as he knew it, lacked something of the
Bible character; but how tell that to Posie? He
was silent. Posie however, intent on justifying her
father, watched him and was not satisfied with his


*' Stephen!" she urged, "he's as good as any

"Is he a servant of God, Posie ?" Stephen re
peated, feeling challenged.

" I don't know."

" Because God takes only his servants to be with

" How do you know ? "

"The Bible says so."

" I don't care what the Bible says ! I want to
know what they did to you Sunday ? "

" But I can't tell you, Posie, unless you will pro
mise that you will not tell it again, and that you
will not say anything about it that isn't true."

" Go on, Stephen. I'll see," said Posie diplomat

" But you must promise, Posie. And oh Posie !
I want you to belong to Jesus ! "


" 'Cause I want you to be good."

"Aint I good now?"

" Why Posie ! not when you say things that
are not true."

" Everybody says things sometimes that are not

"0 no, Posie! not the people that belong to
Jesus. They don't. They always tell the truth-
even if they were to die for it."

" What's the harm ? Ma does it, and pa."

" But God says we mustn't," said Stephen, shak
ing his head.


"I'll tell you what," said Posie confidentially.
" I don't believe they either of 'em care much what
God says."

"But I wish they did," said Stephen. "And 0,
Posie, I want you to be good ! "

The little girl looked wonderingly at Stephen's
earnest face and the eyes which came to her so
lovingly. Then Stephen's hand came too, softly
touching and stroking the fair blooming little
cheek. Posie's face changed.

" Stephen," she said, snuggling up to him in the
window seat, " I'll do just whatever you do ! "

"Will you?"

" Yes, just ! And you must never go away, Ste
phen; you must always stay with me; and you
must always belong to me, and 1 always belong to

" Well, we will," said Stephen. " I know I shall
always belong to you."

"And I will always belong to you. Now Ste
phen, tell me about Sunday."

It was a long recital, for Posie wanted every de
tail ; and seeing that he gave up his secret at all,
Stephen took the comfort of sympathy and went
into the story thoroughly. Long the children sat
there, eagerly questioning and answering; the two
being as much one, for the moment, as fellow feel
ing could make them. Then feelings parted.

"Don't you hate that Wilkins, and that other
man, awfully ? " said Posie.

* No, I guess not."


" I do ! I hate 'em as bad as can be. I'd like
to whip 'em till they were a'most dead 1 "

"You mustn't feel so. Tisn't right."

"/think it is right. It's just what they deserve."

" The Bible says it aint right."

"I think the Bible seems to be a very queer
book. Are you going to do just as the Bible says ? "

" Why of course. And you too, Posie ; for you
said you would do as I do."

" Well, then it mustn't be too queer. Aint you
going to tell pa ? "

Stephen shook his head.

"You ought to. He'd fix 'em! I know he

"Yes, Posie, but I've got to forgive 'em. w

" You cant. I can't. I never will ! "

" but we must. I think I do now."

" You cant" Posie repeated. " You cannot for
give 'em ; and the Bible don't want you to do what
you can't do, I suppose ? "

"Yes, it does, Posie; for what we cannot do,
Jesus can, and he will help us. I think he has
helped me; for I asked him; and now I am not
angry at Calcott and Wilkins."

" Not angry ! "


" Don't you hate 'em ? "


"Stephen" lowering her voice, "aint you afraid
of 'em?"

" No, Posie. I was afraid ; but I am not now."


" Suppose they were to try to do something to
you again ? "

" I do not think they will. I do not think God
will let 'em."

"You think God will take care of you, Stephen?"

" I am sure he will."

"Better than my pa could?"

"Yes, a great deal better. Why, Posie, God can
do anything; and I am his child."

" Then I guess he will take care of you," said
Posie thoughtfully.

Stephen lay by only that one day. Next morn
ing he was in his place again. Nobody made the
least allusion to his being missing on Monday, with
one exception. Gordon in the course of the morn
ing came down to the room where Stephen was,
and casually asked him what he had done with
himself yesterday? Calcott and Wilkins were close
by. Stephen answered with his usual politeness
and also with his usual composure, that something
had kept him at home.

" Something, eh ? What was the something ? "

" I went to bed with a very bad headache, sir,
the night before; and they didn't think I was fit
to come."

Gordon looked sharp at him, but said no more;
and that was the end of the whole matter as far as
immediate consequences were concerned. Calcott
and Wilkins never repeated their attempt, and in
deed rather let Stephen alone thenceforth; and Mr.
Gordon, much to the boy's comfort, followed the


same wise policy. Indeed Gordon had wisdom
enough to see that any other line of action would
be in a high degree unpopular among the workmen.
A word here and there had shewn him that most of
them liked Stephen and that he was likely to become
the pet of the place. Moreover, it was evident he
had friends at "the house." And, for there was
really a third element in JMr. Gordon's considera
tions, it was also plain that Stephen had not tried
to do anything to his disadvantage. He durst not
was Gordon's comment on this thought; but he
remembered too the boy's sweet, frank face, and
could not prevent the notion that it did not look
like revenge-taking.

So, most unexpectedly and wonderfully, Ste
phen had peace. Nobody meddled with him, un
less kindly. Wilkins and Calcott let him alone,
indeed, as if he were not in existence; yet even
in them a certain degree of respect by degrees
began to mingle with their dislike of him. " He's
a game little chap," Calcott remarked to the other
fellow; "I do believe he haint said the first word
of what happened that day."

"He knows we'd kill him," growled Wilkins.

" He knows we wouldn't. Don't be a fool, Wil
kins. He's more of a man than you are, this minute."

" Best go and make an apology to him," sneered

Calcott did not that; but after a time he allowed
Stephen to see that he was quite with the other
men in holding the new little boy in kindly regard.


And from this time Stephen's life flowed on
smoothly. His morning and evening duties in the
factory were regularly done ; he began to learn bits
of the more proper factory work, and shewed himself
so diligent and so apt that he won general applause.
Every one of the workmen made a pleasure of in
structing him ; his friend Mr. Nutts and one or two
others took special pains to shew and to help him how
to do things in the best way ; and it was not long be
fore, up to the mark of his strength, Stephen could
hold his own with anybody in the place. He and
Posie had few chances now to sail boats; he was too
much engaged and too intent on learning the busi
ness ; but they were together a great part of every
Sunday, and the friendship strengthened with every
week that went by. So many a week went by ; the
summer passed, and the autumn and winter came.

One Sunday afternoon the two children were
sitting alone together before the kitchen fire. I
don't know where Jonto was, but she was not there,
and the two were as cosy as possible. They had
been roasting some chestnuts in the ashes, and now
were eating and talking.

" Stephen," Posie suddenly burst out, " I had
forgotten ! I have got something to tell you."

"What is it? See, Posie, there is a nice fat

" It's something I don't like, and it's something
you won't like. Guess what it is."

"Are you going away somewheres? "

"How could you guess? No, it's not that exactly ,


I'm not really going away; but you came very near
it I am going to school."

"Tc school!" Stephen forgot his chestnut
"Where, Posie?"

" not far, just to Cowslip. I hate it, but ma
eays I must, or I shall never grow up to be a lady.
What's my going to school to do with it ? I should
grow up all the same."

" But you wouldn't be a lady, would you, if yov
didn't know anything?" Stephen queried doubt


"I would always be Posie, wouldn't 1?"

" Yes; but Posie ought to be everything nice.
Posie, I should think you'd be so glad ! "

"Would you be glad, if you were going?"

" I guess I would ! See, Posie, how are you going?
Will Mr. Hardenbrook take you in his wagon ? "

" No, he says he can't. I'll have to walk."

"All alone?"

"Yes. I don't care. I don't mind the walk.
What I don't like, is to sit in school and write copies
and do sums. I do hate sums."

"01 like 'em ! I like sums, ever so much. Only
I can't do 'em."

" What can you do, Stephen ? Can you write ? "

" A little. Mother, she taught me to read and to
write, and she began to teach me arithmetic; and
then, she got so sick she couldn't."

" Was she good ? " said Posie. But Stephen did
not answer. A wave of recollection had come ovei
him, and his head sank a little.


"I shouldn't like to have ma teach me," Posie
went on. "She always gets cross."

" She never was cross," said Stephen gently.

" And you're never cross, either, are you ? I like
you, Stephen I like you all the world ! I like
you so much. But I am cross sometimes."

"Not very often, Posie. You're never cross to

" I should think not ! " said the little girl. " And
do you love me, Stephen ? as much as I do you ?
And will you always love me ? "

"Yes, Posie. Better than all the rest of the

" That's nice ! " said the little girl, clapping her
hands. " Because you always say what is true."

"And you do too, now, Posie, don't you? "

"01 don't know ! Sometimes it's too difficult ; and
then I don't."

" But those are just the times, when the angels
listen, to see if we are the real servants of God or
not. And Jesus looks too, to see whether we are
or not. Anybody can do right when it's easy, Posie."

"Yes," said Posie nodding. "I do it when it's
easy. You do it when it's hard. That's why I
love you."



' F)A," said Posie the next morning at breakfast,
IT "pa, Stephen ought to go to school, when
I go."

"Stephen!" said Mr. Hardenbrook. "What put
that in your head ? "

" He'd like to go."

"How do you know?"

" 'Cause I asked him. He'd like to go, dreadfully! '

" It would be just like you, Mr. Hardenbrook, to
send him ! " remarked Mr. Hardenbrook's wife; and
as she said it, she arched her eyebrows a little, and
her nostrils quivered a little, and the corners of her
mouth drew down. "That would be the finishing

"To what, Maria?

" To your gooseness, / should say. I think you're
a regular goose about that child ; and about every
body in general, who isn't of your own family."

44 Do I let my own family suffer, then ? "

"You would, if there came stray children enough
along. You cannot withstand them. You don't



seem to have money for anything else, except to
throw it away."

" That boy is a very fine little fellow."

" Aint he, pa? " said Posie enthusiastically. "And
he's good."

"How do you know he is good?" queried her
mother scornfully.

" 'Cause. He tells the truth when it aint easy."

Mr. Hardenbrook laughed. Mrs. Hardenbrook

"And you know, ma," Posie went on, "you and
pa tell it when it is easy. And I do."

" You impertinent child ! Do you mean to say
your mother does not speak truth?"

"When it's easy, you do, ma."

"Come, come, Posie, that's going too far," said
her father, who saw symptoms of discomposure in
his wife's face which he always hastened to get rid
of when he saw them. " You have no business to
speak so to your mother."

" I'm telling the truth though, pa. When people
ask her for money, she always says she's 'sorry
she has got none in her purse ;' and when they're
gone she says she has got some, or she's glad she

"Why Posie, what do you mean?" said Mrs.
Hardenbrook, half angry and half laughing. "Who
has asked me for money ? "

" Deacon Sumner, ma, to get books for the Sun
day school library."

Mr. and Mrs. Hardenbrook looked at each other


across the table and both laughed; though Mrs.
Hardenbrook's nostrils were quivering uneasily.

" And, ma, when Mrs. Barnes was coming along
yesterday in her wagon, you said you hoped to
goodness she wasn't coming in; and when she
came, you said you were as glad to see her as
could be."

" If you were a little older," said the lady, in
whose face displeasure began to predominate, "you
would know, Posie, that that is politeness."

" Well, that is what I said," repeated Posie ; " you
speak truth when you don't want to be polite."

Mr. Hardenbrook laughed again, but his wife
put her face in her handkerchief.

" Pa, Stephen ought to go to school," said Posie,
disregarding this effect of her words, and returning
to the charge.

" Where is he ? Go fetch him."

" Mr. Hardenbrook ! " said his wife, uncovering
her face as Posie ran off, and speaking with great
emphasis, "you are never going to do that?"

" We will see. I don't know but I ought."

"What is that boy to you, I should like to

" Well, if you ask it, he is my charge. And I
have half forgotten him these months."

"What made him your charge? Are' you bound
to take up all the desolate children you can find ?
I really think, Mr. Hardenbrook, you are unnatural
towards your own. Every bit that you give away
to others, you must remember, is taken from Posie.'


"I don't know that. Well, Stephen, how do
you do ? "

" I am very well, sir, thank you."

" Upon my word, you have grown this summer.
You're a good deal taller than you were."

" Yes, sir."

"And how are you getting along?"

The boy's face answered for him, as well as his
words. Clear, honest, manly, the smile of content
and bright energy was pleasant to see. Pleasant
to one spectator at least; Mrs. Hardenbrook looked
at him, but seemed to get no satisfaction from the

" What have you and Posie been saying about
going to school ? "

" She said she was going, sir."

" Did you say you wanted to go too ? "

Stephen's face flushed high. "No, sir. Yes,
sir! I didn't say just that; but I believe she
asked me if I would like to go too, and I said I

" So you would. What would you like to go to
school for ? "

" Why of course ! " put in Mrs. Hardenbrook
" to get rid of work."

" That is not my reason," said Stephen, a shade
coming over the brightness of his face.

"What then? Go on and say," Mr. Harden
brook urged encouragingly.

"I want to be a man, sir."

The words were modestly spoken, quietly, with


a slight flush coming up again in the boy's cheeks;
and Mr. Hardenbrook smiled. But his wife, as
usual, took things differently.

" A man ! " she repeated. " If you go on growing
at the rate you are doing, you'll be a man soon
enough. Soon enough for all concerned."

Stephen looked at her as if he could have said
something to that; however, he was quite silent.

" Perhaps Stephen is thinking that it takes some
thing more than inches to make a man," Mr. Har
denbrook suggested kindly.

" Yes sir," said Stephen. " Because, if I knew
nothing, I should be only a bigger boy."

"What do you want to know? " inquired Mrs.
Hardenbrook, with her nostrils in full play, as they
were wont when the lady was incensed or disdain
ful. " I thought you were going to learn a cabinet
maker's trade ? "

"Yes, what do you want to know, Stephen?"
Mr. Hardenbrook added encouragingly.

" I would like to know all I can, sir."

" And you don't mind hard work ? "

"No, sir." Stephen smiled.

" Will you keep the factory rooms in order, night
and morning, and walk to Cowslip and back again
every day ? "

" I ? 6, gladly, sir ! "

"Yes, and what for?" said Mrs. Hardenbrook.
"/always approve of keeping things in their places,
and people."

" We do not know Stephen's place, my dear


He may be President of the United States yet; and
T approve of preparing him to be a good President,
if he's to be one at all. Well that is settled. You
shall go to school with Posie, Stephen."

" Pa," said Posie, " he won't have time to sweep
up the factory. Don't you know we must start by
half past seven o'clock, to get to Cowslip in time ?
He can't do it."

"That is for Stephen to say. I think he can
do it."

" yes, sir ! " answered the boy, whose face was
beaming with joy. " I'll do it easy enough."

" Got any clothes fit to go to school in ? Well, be
off now ; I'll speak to Jon to and see what's wanting."

"I should think you'd send for your tailor to
come out and measure him ! " observed Mrs. Har-
denbrook ; while Stephen withdrew, and Posie threw
herself on her father's neck in a transport of delight,
averring that he was " the very best and nicest
man in the world."

" Your mother used to think so once," remarked
Mr. Hardenbrook humorously.

" I do still," insisted that lady. " Only I think
ycu are eaten up by a craze of benevolence, which
if it don't leave your own family poor, it will not
be your fault."

" One little boy's schooling won't break me yet."

" I shouldn't wonder next if you would propose
to make over your business to him, and marry him
to Posie."

" Prophecies are their own fulfilment sometimes.


I would not recommend you to publish your views
too extensively."

So it fell out, that the next week, when Posie
began her school going, Stephen accompanied her.
Mr. Hardenbrook drove them down, the first morn
ing, and introduced them ; after that the two chil
dren went and came alone. And even Mrs. Har
denbrook was forced to confess that it was a good
thing for Posie to have some one with her, and that
it would have been very inconvenient and nearly
impossible for her father to take her and fetch her
every day. The elders were content. But what
shall 1 say of the joy of the children? It was
something unmeasured, inexpressible, inexhausti
ble. They were so glad, as they went, hand in
hand or side by side, along the road to Cowslip,
Stephen carrying lunch basket and books, Posie
picking flowers, and dancing for very lightness of
foot; they were so glad, both of them, that they
seemed to have no feet and to be borne of wings.
They did not feel the ground; they did not get
tired ; they took up their studies and tasks with a
zeal and good will before which no difficulties
could stand; all the school day was triumph and
delight, and the walk home after it was the rarest
of entertainments. How much they had to say to
each other! There was the whole day's experience
to be gone over ; there were studies to be discussed,
and lessons half learned as they went along, some
times; there were confidences to be exchanged re
specting this and another of their schoolmates; and


there was the hungry expectation of supper as they
neared home. No walks to be taken in after years
would ever quite equal the fresh charm or the spicy
sweetness of these. Never would feet be so light
again, or heads so free, or hearts so unshadowed.
Yet even this delight received an enhancement as
the weeks went on, though one might have thought
enhancement impossible.

Snow had come. It comes early in those regions;
this year it had held off unusually ; but with the
first of December it had given a powdering to the
brown and bare outer world, and a week or two
later it came down in earnest. It was no question
of powdering; the two children in their way to
school had inches of soft, cold snow to tread at
every step, and the going was laborious. They
laughed at it, it is true; at what did they not
laugh? However, two days after that, when
Jonto came downstairs in the morning, she found
not only her fire burning brightly and her kettle
singing; but Stephen was there with a face of pride
and triumph eyeing something on the kitchen
floor. And the something was a sled, the prettiest
possible, made of cherry wood, stained and polished
and finished with great neatness.

"Whar's you got dat ar?" was Jonto's instant

" I made it,"

" You made it ? What you make it of? "

"Nice cherry boards, Jonto. Now I've got to
fix a seat on and then "


Jonto stood in speechless admiration, while Ste
phen proceeded to fit carefully the legs of a sort of
low bench into holes made for them on the sled;
then he stood up and looked at it, well content.

"You'se nebber done made dat all yourself, boy?"
she said.

" Yes I did, Jonto. Mr. Nutts shewed me how
to do the mortising but I did it myself. Don't
you think that cherry wood is prettier than
painting ? ''

Jonto gave unqualified applause. "An' what's
dat ar seat for, den ? I nebber see 'em fixed up so."

"That's for Posie to sit upon. Now I'm going
to give her a ride over the snow. She couldn't
walk, when the snow comes to be deeper. It
would be too heavy for her."

"I s'pose dar aint not'ing too heavy for you?
Well, I'se gwine to git you a fust rate breakfust,
den, if you'se gwine to drive to Cowslip, and be
team yourself besides. You see if I don't."

" Why so you always do," said Stephen laughing.
For he was very happy, and a little proud of his
work; and when Mr. Hardenbrook came to exam
ine it he said Stephen had reason. It was very
neatly made, and capital work for a boy of his age.
Stephen took the praise he knew he deserved, and
I suppose he enjoyed it; but his head was full of
the pride and glory of seeing Posie on it and draw
ing her to school; and when the little lady, well
muffled up, took her seat, and Stephen harnessed
himself to the ropes and drew the sled off, the


whole family standing at the door and looking on
at them, it was a moment of great and crowning
satisfaction ; probably never to be exceeded by any
subsequent triumph in a life of successes. Yet the-
first minute was not so good as the second, and the

" Are you comfortable, Posie ? "

"0 Stephen, it's just beyond everything!" cried
Posie, in a tone which was even more expressive
than her words. " what made you think of it ? "

" I've been thinking of it ever since you told me
you were going to school. I've been nearly all
this while making it."

" Stephen, it's so nice ! It's such fun ! It's so
pleasant, you can't think. I ought to pull you a
little way, just to let you see how nice it is."

"I like my part best," said Stephen, toiling at
the moment up an incline. "You keep warm,
Posie; that's all I ask of you."

Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 13 of 34)