No and Other Stories Compiled by Uncle Humphrey online

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Willy and the Beggar Girl
The Good Son
The Sick Mother
Cornelia's Prayer
The Guilty Conscience
Acorn Hollow
Industry and Idleness


This little book has been prepared for the instruction and amusement of
my dear young friends, and it is hoped that they will be profited by its
perusal. It will show them their duty, and lead them to perform it.

The little word _No_ is of great importance, although composed of but
two letters. It will be of great service in keeping us from the path of
sin and misery, and of inducing us to walk in "wisdom's ways, whose ways
are ways of pleasantness, and all whose paths are peace."

Exercise charity to the destitute, as did little Willy.

Be good sons and daughters, and you will be a comfort to your parents,
in sickness or in health. "Forgiveness is an attribute of Heaven."

A guilty conscience gives us no peace.

Which of you have a place of resort that is like Aunt Lissa's Acorn

Be industrious, and learn to make yourselves useful, if you would be
respected and beloved.

Beware of envy, for it begetteth hatred.

In short, I hope the reader who is now looking at this preface will
carefully read every word in the following pages; and not only _read_,
but _remember_, the lessons there taught, and thereby become wiser and

And when you have read this book so much and so carefully as to be able
to tell me what it is all about, when I come to your houses, another
little volume will be prepared for the young friends of


LYNN, January, 1851.



"There is a word, my son, a very little word, in the English language,
the right use of which it is all important that you should learn," Mr.
Howland said to his son Thomas, who was about leaving the paternal roof
for a residence in a neighboring city, never again, perchance, to make
one of the little circle that had so long gathered in the family

"And what word is that, father?" Thomas asked.

"It is the little word _No_, my son."

"And why does so much importance attach to that word, father?"

"Perhaps I can make you understand the reason much better if I relate an
incident that occurred when I was a boy. I remember it as distinctly as
if it had taken place but yesterday, although thirty years have since
passed. There was a neighbor of my father's, who was very fond of
gunning and fishing. On several occasions I had accompanied him, and had
enjoyed myself very much. One day my father said to me,

"'William, I do not wish you to go into the woods or on the water again
with Mr. Jones.'

"'Why not, father?' I asked, for I had become so fond of going with him,
that to be denied the pleasure was a real privation.

"'I have good reasons for not wishing you to go, William,' my father
replied, 'but do not want to give them now. I hope it is all-sufficient
for you, that your father desires you not to accompany Mr. Jones again.'

"I could not understand why my father laid upon me this prohibition;
and, as I desired very much to go, I did not feel satisfied in my
obedience. On the next day, as I was walking along the road, I met Mr.
Jones with his fishing rod on his shoulder, and his basket in his hand.

"'Ah, William! you are the very one that I wish to see,' said Mr. Jones
smiling. 'I am going out this morning, and want company. We shall have a
beautiful day.'

"'But my father told me yesterday,' I replied, 'that he did not wish me
to go out with you.'

"'And why not, pray?' asked Mr. Jones.

"'I am sure that I do not know,' I said, 'but indeed, I should like to
go very much.'

"'O, never mind; come along,' he said, 'Your father will never know it.'

"'Yes, but I am afraid that he will,' I replied, thinking more of my
father's displeasure than of the evil of disobedience.

"'There is no danger at all of that. We will be home again long before

"I hesitated, and he urged; and finally, I moved the way that he was
going, and had proceeded a few hundred yards, when I stopped, and said:

"'I don't like to go, Mr. Jones.'

"'Nonsense, William! There is no harm in fishing, I am sure. I have
often been out with your father, myself.'

"Much as I felt inclined to go, still I hesitated; for I could not fully
make up my mind to disobey my father. - At length he said -

"'I can't wait here for you, William. Come along, or go back. Say yes or

"This was the decisive moment. I was to make up my mind, and fix my
determination in one way or the other. I was to say _yes_ or NO."

"'Come, I can't stay here all day,' Mr. Jones remarked, rather harshly,
seeing that I hesitated. At the same moment the image of my father rose
distinctly before my mind, and I saw his eyes fixed steadily and
reprovingly upon me. With one desperate resolution I uttered the word,
'No!' and then turning, ran away as fast as my feet would carry me. I
cannot tell you how relieved I felt when I was far beyond the reach of

"On the next morning, when I came down to breakfast, I was startled and
surprised to learn that Mr. Jones had been drowned on the day before.
Instead of returning in a few hours, as he had stated to me that he
would, he remained out all the day. A sudden storm arose; his boat was
capsized, and he drowned. I shuddered when I heard this sad and fatal
accident related. - That little word NO, had, in all probability, saved
my life."

"'I will now tell you, William,' my father said, turning to me, 'why I
did not wish you to go with Mr. Jones. - Of late, he had taken to
drinking; and I had learned within a few days, that whenever he went out
on a fishing or gunning excursion he took his bottle of spirits with
him, and usually returned a good deal intoxicated. I could not trust you
with such a man. I did not think it necessary to state this to you, for
I was sure that I had only to express my wish that you would not
accompany him, to insure your implicit obedience.'

"I felt keenly rebuked at this, and resolved never again to permit even
the thought of disobedience to find a place in my mind. From that time,
I have felt the value of the word NO, and have generally, ever since,
been able to use it on all right occasions. - It has saved me from many
troubles. Often and often in life have I been urged to do things that my
judgment told me were wrong: on such occasions I always remembered my
first temptation, and resolutely said -


"And now, my son," continued Mr. Howland, do you understand the
importance of the word _No_?"

"I think I do, father," Thomas replied. "But is there not danger of my
using it too often and thus becoming selfish in all my feelings, and
consequently unwilling to render benefits to others?"

"Certainly there is, Thomas. The legitimate use of this word is to
resist evil. To refuse to do a good action is wrong." "If any one asks
me, then, to do him a favor or kindness, I should not, on any account,
say, no."

"That will depend, Thomas, in what manner you are to render him a
kindness. If you can do so without really injuring yourself or others,
then it is a duty which you owe to all men, to be kind, and render

"But the difficulty, I feel, will be for me to discriminate. When I am
urged to do something by one whom I esteem, my regard for him, or my
desire to render him an obligation, will be so strong as to obscure my

"A consciousness of this weakness in your character, Thomas, should put
you upon your guard."

"That is very true, father. But I cannot help fearing myself. Still, I
shall never forget what you have said, and I will try my best to act
from a conviction of right."

"Do so, my son. And ever bear in mind, that a wrong action is _always_
followed by pain of mind, and too frequently by evil consequences. If
you would avoid these, ever act from a consciousness that you are doing
right, without regard to others. If another asks you, from a selfish
desire to benefit or gratify himself, to do that which your judgment
tells you is wrong, surely you should have no hesitation in refusing."

The precept of his father, enforced when they were about parting, and at
a time when his affections for that father were active and intense,
lingered in the mind of Thomas Howland. He saw and felt its force, and
resolved to act in obedience to it, if ever tempted to do wrong.

On leaving the paternal roof, he went to a neighboring town, and entered
the store of a merchant, where were several young men nearly of his own
age, that is, between eighteen and twenty. With one of these, named
Boyd, he soon formed an intimate acquaintance. But, unfortunately, the
moral character of this young man was far from being pure, or his
principles from resting upon the firm basis of truth and honor.

His growing influence over Thomas Howland was apparent in inducing him
to stay away from church on the sabbath-day, and pass the time that had
heretofore been spent in the place of worship, in roaming about the
wharves of the city, or in excursions into the country. This influence
was slightly resisted, Thomas being ashamed or reluctant to use the
word "_No_," on what seemed to all the young men around him a matter of
so little importance. Still, his own heart condemned him, for he felt
that it would pain his father and mother exceedingly if they knew that
he neglected to attend church at least once on the sabbath-day; and he
was, besides, self-convicted of wrong in what seemed to him a violation
of the precept, _Remember the sabbath-day_, &c. as he had been taught to
regard that precept. But once having given way, he felt almost powerless
to resist the influence that now bore upon him.

The next violation of what seemed to him a right course for a young man
to pursue, was in suffering himself to be persuaded to visit frequently
the theatre; although his father had expressly desired that he would
avoid a place where lurked for the young and inexperienced so many
dangers. He was next easily persuaded to visit a favorite eating-house,
in which many hours were spent during the evenings of each week, with
Boyd and others, in eating, drinking, and smoking.

Sometimes dominos and backgammon were introduced, and at length were
played for a slight stake. To participate in this Thomas refused, on
the plea that he did not know enough of the games to risk anything. He
had not the moral courage to declare that he considered it wrong to

All these departures from what he had been taught by his father to
consider a right course, were attended by much uneasiness and pain of
mind. - But he had yielded to the tempter, and he could not find the
power within him to resist his influence successfully.

It happened about six months after his introduction to such an entirely
new course of life that he was invited one evening by his companion
Boyd, to call on a friend with him. He had, on that day, received from
his father forty dollars, with which to buy him a new suit of clothes
and a few other necessary articles. He went, of course, and was
introduced to a very affable, gentlemanly young man, in his room at one
of the hotels. In a few minutes, wine and cigars were ordered, and the
three spent an hour or so, in drinking, smoking, and chit-chat of no
elevating or refined character.

"Come, let us have a game of cards," the friend at last remarked, during
a pause in the conversation; at the same time going to his trunk and
producing a pack of cards.

"No objection," responded Boyd.

"You'll take a hand, of course?" the new friend said, looking at Thomas

But Thomas said that he knew nothing of cards.

"O that's no matter! You can learn in two minutes," responded the friend
of Boyd.

Young Howland felt reluctant, but he could not resist the influence that
was around him, and so he consented to finger the cards with the rest.
As they gathered around the table, a half-dollar was laid down by each
of the young men, who looked towards Thomas as they did so.

"I cannot play for money," he said, coloring; for he felt really
ashamed to acknowledge his scruples.

"And why not?" asked the friend of Boyd, looking him steadily in the

"Because I think it wrong," stammered out Howland, coloring still more

"Nonsense! Isn't your money your own? And pray what harm is there in
your doing with your own as you please?" urged the tempter.

"But I do not know enough of the game to risk my money."

"You don't think we would take advantage of your ignorance?" Boyd said.
"The stake is only to give interest to the game. I would not give a
copper for a game of cards without a stake. Come, put down your
half-dollar, and we'll promise to pay you back all you loose, if you
wish it, until you acquire some skill."

But Thomas felt reluctant, and hesitated. Nevertheless, he was debating
the matter in his mind seriously, and every moment that reluctance was
growing weaker.

"Will you play?" Boyd asked in a decided tone, breaking in upon his

"I had rather not," Thomas replied, attempting to smile, so as to
conciliate his false friends.

"You're afraid of your money," said Boyd, in a half-sneering tone.

"It is not that, Boyd."

"Then what is it, pray?"

"I am afraid it is not right."

This was answered by a loud laugh from his two friends, which touched
Thomas a good deal, and made him feel more ashamed of the scruples that
held him back from entering into the temptation.

"Come down with your stake, Howland," Boyd said, after he had finished
his laugh.

The hand of Thomas was in his pocket, and his fingers had grasped the
silver coin, yet still he hesitated.

"Will you play, or not?" the friend of Boyd now said, with something of
impatience in his tone. "Say yes, or no."

For a moment the mind of Thomas became confused - then the perception
came upon him as clear as a sunbeam, that it was wrong to gamble. He
remembered, too, vividly his father's parting injunction.

"_No_," he said, firmly and decidedly.

Both of his companions looked disappointed and angry.

"What did you bring him for?" he heard Boyd's companion say to him in
an under tone, while a frown darkened upon his brow.

The reply did not reach his ear, but he felt that his company was no
longer pleasant, and rising, he bade them a formal good-evening, and
hurriedly retired. That little word _no_ had saved him. The scheme was,
to win from him his forty dollars, and then involve him in "debts of
honor," as they are falsely called, which would compel him to draw upon
his father for more money, or abstract it from his employer, a system
which had been pursued by Boyd, and which was discovered only a week
subsequent, when the young man was discharged in disgrace. It then came
out, that he had been for months in secret association with a gambler,
and that the two shared together the spoils and peculations.

This incident roused Thomas Howland to a distinct consciousness of the
danger that lurked in his path, as a young man, in a large city. He
felt, as he had not felt while simply listening to his father's precept,
the value of the word _no_; and resolved that hereafter he would utter
that little word, and that, too, decidedly, whenever urged to do what
his judgment did not approve.

"I will be free!" he said, pacing his chamber backward and forward. "I
will be free, hereafter! No one shall persuade me or drive me to do what
I feel to be wrong."

That conclusion was his safeguard ever after. When tempted, and he was
tempted frequently, his "_No_" decided the matter at once. There was a
power in it that was all-sufficient in resisting evil.


"An apple, dear mother!"
Cried Willy one day,
Coming in, with his cheeks
Glowing bright, from his play.
"I want a nice apple,
A large one, and red."
"For whom do you want it?"
His kind mother said.

"You know a big apple
I gave you at noon;
And now for another,
My boy, it's too soon."
"There's a poor little girl
At the door, mother dear,"
Said Will, while within
His mild eye shone a tear.

"She says, since last evening
She's eaten no bread;
Her feet are all naked
And bare is her head.
Like me, she's no mother
To love her, I'm sure,
Or she'd not look so hungry,
And ragged, and poor.

"Let me give her an apple;
She wants one, I know;
A nice, large, red apple -
O! do not say no."
First a kiss to the lips
Of her generous boy,
Mamma gave with a feeling
Of exquisite joy -

For goodness, whene'er
In a child it is seen,
Gives joy to the heart
Of a mother, I ween -
And then led her out, where,
Still stood by the door,
A poor little beggar-girl,
Ragged all o'er.

"Please ma'am, I am hungry,"
The little thing said,
"Will you give me to eat
A small piece of bread?"
"Yes, child, you shall have it;
But who sends you out
From dwelling to dwelling
To wander about?"

A pair of mild eyes
To the lady were raised;
"My mother's been sick
For a great many days
So sick she don't know me."
Sobs stifled the rest
And heaved with young sorrow
That innocent breast.

Just then from the store-room -
Where wee Willy run,
As his mother to question
The poor child begun -
Came forth the sweet boy,
With a large loaf of bread,
Held tight in his tiny hands
High o'er his head.

"Here's bread, and a plenty!
Eat, little girl, eat!"
He cried, as he laid
The great loaf at her feet.
The mother smiled gently,
Then, quick through the door
Drew the sad little stranger,
So hungry and poor.

With words kindly spoken
She gave her nice food,
And clothed her with garments
All clean, warm and good.
This done, she was leading
Her out, when she heard
Willy coming down stairs,
Like a fluttering bird.

A newly bought leghorn,
With green bow and band.
And an old, worn out beaver
He held in his hand.
"Here! give her my new hat,"
He cried; "I can wear
My black one all summer -
It's good - you won't care -

"Say! will you, dear mother?"
First out through the door,
She passed the girl kindly;
Then quick from the floor
Caught up the dear fellow,
Kissed and kissed him again,
While her glad tears fell freely
O'er his sweet face like rain.


Little Martin went to a peasant and endeavored to procure employment, by
which he might be able to earn some money.

"Yes," said the peasant, "I will take you for a herds-boy, and if you
are industrious, will give you your board and ten dollars for the whole

"I will be very industrious," said Martin, "but I beg you to pay me my
wages every week, for I have a poor father at home to whom I wish to
carry all I earn."

The peasant, who was pleased beyond measure at this filial love, not
only willingly consented, but also raised his wages much higher. Every
Saturday the son carefully carried his money, and as much bread and
butter as he could spare from his own mouth, to his father.

Children, love and gratitude
Always please the wise and good,
But contempt and hate from all,
On the thankless child will fall.


A mother once lay very sick, and suffered great and constant pain. Her
children were all very sad and melancholy, and the large ones often
kneeled down together, and prayed that God would restore their mother to
health once more.

The youngest child would stand all day by the bed of her mother, and
with tearful eyes, anxiously inquire when she would be well and get up
again. One day this little child observed a glass filled with some dark
fluid standing by the sick bed, and asked, "Mother, what is this?" The
mother answered, "My dear child, it is something very bitter; but I must
drink it, that I may get well again." "Mother," said the good child, "if
it is so bitter, I will drink it for you; then you will be well again."


And the sick mother, in all her pains, had the comfort and consolation
of seeing how dearly all her children loved her.

Parents, joy and comfort find
In a child that is good and kind;
But their hearts are very sad,
When the child they love is bad.


Cornelia was the joy and pride of her parents, for she was a slender,
graceful little creature, darting about like a young fawn, and her
cheeks were as fresh and blooming as the young rose when it first opens
to receive the dew. Added to this, she was blessed with a temper as
sweet and serene as a spring morning when it dawns upon the blooming
valleys, announcing a fair and delightful day.

Cornelia had never in her life known what it is to experience trouble
and anxiety, for her youth had been all brightness and sunshine. But
such freedom from all trials does not generally continue for a long time
uninterrupted. And so it was with Cornelia. She was one day very much
delighted at being shown a little brother with which her mother had
presented her, but her joy was soon clouded by the severe illness of
that mother. She lay many long days without noticing or appearing to
know her little Cornelia, for her fever was strong, and her senses were
continually wandering.

Cornelia was almost heart-broken at this, and they could scarcely
persuade her to leave the bedside of her dear mother, for a single
moment. She would entreat and implore until she won their consent that
she should remain in the sick room; and then all night long would the
affectionate little girl watch by her mother's bed, and attentively
study her every want, wetting her parched lips and moving around her
with the lightest and most anxious footsteps.

On the seventh day of her sickness the fever approached its crisis and
there was deep silence in the little chamber, and stifled weeping, for
every one thought that death was near.

But with the night came long absent slumber, and revived the almost
dying mother, and seemed to give her back to life. What a season for
Cornelia! Through the whole night she sat by the bed listening to her
now soft and regular breathing, while hope and fear were struggling
together in her bosom. When daylight appeared the mother opened her
eyes, and turning them upon the anxious Cornelia, knew her. "I am
better, my child," said she in a clear, but feeble voice, "I am better,
and shall get well!" They then gave her drink and nourishment, and she
went to sleep again.

What joy was this for the affectionate little girl! Her heart was too
full for utterance, and she stole softly out of the chamber, and skipped
out into the field, and ascended a hill near by, just as the sun was
dawning. Here she stood her hands clasped together, and her bosom
swelling with many contending emotions of pain and hope. Presently the
sun arose and streamed over her face, and Cornelia thought of the new
life of her mother after her reviving sleep, and the anguish of her own
feelings. But she could not long shut up the flood of feeling within her
own heart, and she knelt down upon blooming flowers with which the hill
was covered, and bowing her face to the fragrant sod, her tears were
mingled with the dew of heaven.

After a few minutes silence, she lifted up her head, and rising from the
ground, returned to her home, and the chamber of her mother. Never
before had there been so sweet and calm a loveliness on the face of
Cornelia. It was a reflection of the peace and tranquility of her soul,
for she had held communion with her God!

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