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Guy Morgan hesitated a little and then concluded to go. The place
selected was a lovely spot, known in all the neighborhood as "the old
mill." It was on the banks of the Quassit River, where the stream ran
fast, and the grass was green, and great trees with drooping boughs shut
away the July sunlight.

Among the rest were Dick Osgood and his little sister Hetty, the one
human being whom he seemed really and tenderly to love. The teacher's
eyes were on him for this one day, and he did not venture to insult the
older scholars or domineer over the little ones. He and Guy kept apart
as much as they conveniently could; and Guy entered into the spirit of
the day, and really enjoyed it much better than he had anticipated.

Dinner was spread on the grass, and though it was eaten with pewter
spoons, and out of crockery of every hue and kind, it was certainly
eaten with greater enjoyment and keener appetite than if it had been
served in the finest dining room.

They made dinner last as long as they could, and then they scattered
here and there, to enjoy themselves as they liked.

[Illustration: _"Guy Morgan caught her by her long, golden hair."_]

On the bridge, just above the falls, stood a little group, fishing.
Among them were Dick Osgood and his sister. Guy Morgan, always deeply
interested in the study of botany, was a little distance away, with one
of the teachers, pulling in pieces a curious flower.

Suddenly a wild cry arose above the sultry stillness of the summer
afternoon and the hum of quiet voices round. It was Dick Osgood's cry:
"She's in, boys! Hetty's in the river, and _I_ can't swim. O, save her!
save her! Will _no_ one try?"

Before the words were out of his lips, they all saw Guy Morgan coming
with flying feet, - a race for life. He unbuttoned coat and vest as he
ran, and cast them off as he neared the bridge. He kicked off his shoes,
and threw himself over.

They heard him strike the water. He went under, rose again, and then
struck out toward the golden head, which just then rose for the second
time. Every one who stood there lived moments which seemed hours.

Mr. Sharp, the teacher with whom Guy had been talking, and some of the
boys, got a strong rope, and running down the stream, threw it out on
the water just above the falls, where Guy could reach it if he could get
so near the shore - _if!_

The water was very deep where Hetty had fallen in, and the river ran
fast. It was sweeping the poor child on, and Dick Osgood threw himself
upon the bridge, and sobbed and screamed. When she rose the third time,
she was near the falls. A moment more and she would go over, down on
the jagged, cruel rocks beneath.

But that time Guy Morgan caught her - caught her by her long, glistening,
golden hair. Mr. Sharp shouted to him. He saw the rope, and swam toward
it, his strong right arm beating the water back with hammer-strokes - his
left motionless, holding his white burden.

"O God!" Mr. Sharp prayed fervently, "keep him up, spare his strength a
little longer, a little longer!" A moment more and he reached the rope
and clung to it desperately, while teacher and boys drew the two in over
the slippery edge, out of the horrible, seething waters, and took them
in their arms. But they were both silent and motionless. Mr. Sharp spoke
Guy's name, but he did not answer. Would either of them ever answer
again?

Teachers and scholars went to work alike for their restoration. It was
well that there was intelligent guidance, or their best efforts might
have failed.

Guy, being the stronger, was first to revive. "Is Hetty safe?" he asked.

"Only God knows?" Mr. Sharp answered. "We are doing our best."

It was almost half an hour before Hetty opened her blue eyes. Meantime
Dick had been utterly frantic and helpless. He had sobbed and groaned
and even prayed, in a wild fashion of his own, which perhaps the pitying
Father understood and answered.

When he heard his sister's voice, he was like one beside himself with
joy; but Mr. Sharp quieted him by a few low, firm words, which no one
else understood.

Some of the larger girls arranged one of the wagons, and received Hetty
into it.

Mr. Sharp drove home with Guy Morgan. When he reached his mother's gate,
Guy insisted on going in alone. He thought it might alarm her to see
some one helping him; besides, he wanted her a few minutes quite to
himself. So Mr. Sharp drove away, and Guy went in. His mother saw him
coming, and opened the door.

"Where have you been?" she cried, seeing his wet, disordered plight.

"In Quassit River, mother, fishing out Hetty Osgood."

Then, while she was busying herself with preparations for his comfort,
he quietly told his story. His mother's eyes were dim, and her heart
throbbed chokingly.

"O, if _you_ had been drowned, my boy, my darling!" she cried, hugging
him close, wet as he was. "If I had been there, Guy, I couldn't have let
you do it."

"I went in after the coals of fire, mother."

Mrs. Morgan knew how to laugh as well as to cry over her boy. "I've
heard of people smart enough to set the river on fire," she said, "but
you are the first one I ever knew who went in there after the coals."

The next morning came a delegation of the boys, with Dick Osgood at
their head. Every one was there who had seen the blow which Dick struck,
and heard his taunts afterward. They came into the sitting room, and
said their say to Guy before his mother. Dick was spokesman.

"I have come," he said, "to ask you to forgive me. I struck you a mean,
unjustifiable blow. You received it with noble contempt. To provoke you
into fighting, I called you a coward, meaning to bring you down by some
means to my own level. You bore that, too, with a greatness I was not
great enough to understand; but I do understand it now.

"I have seen you - all we boys have seen you - face to face with Death,
and have seen that you were not afraid of him. You fought with him, and
came off ahead; and we all are come to do honor to the bravest boy in
town; and I to thank you for a life a great deal dearer and better worth
saving than my own."

Dick broke down just there, for the tears choked him.

Guy was as grand in his forgiveness as he had been in his forbearance.

Hetty and her father and mother came afterward, and Guy found himself a
hero before he knew it. But none of it all moved him as did his mother's
few fond words, and the pride in her joyful eyes. He had kept, with
honor and with peace, his pledge to her, and he had his reward. The
Master's way of peace had not missed him.




[Illustration]

LYMAN DEAN'S TESTIMONIALS


I do not believe two more excellent people could be found than Gideon
Randal and his wife. To lift the fallen and to minister to the destitute
was their constant habit and delight. They often sacrificed their own
comforts for the benefit of others. In vain their friends protested at
this course; Gideon Randal's unfailing reply was: -

"I think there's enough left to carry Martha and me through life, and
some besides. What we give to the poor, we lend to the Lord, and if a
dark day comes, He will provide."

The "dark day" came; but it was not until he had reached the age of
three score and ten years. As old age came upon him, and his little farm
became less productive, debts accumulated. Being forced to raise money,
he had borrowed a thousand dollars of Esquire Harrington, giving him a
mortgage on his home for security. But as the interest was regularly
paid, his creditor was well satisfied. However, Mr. Harrington died
suddenly, and his son, a merciless, grasping man, wrote Mr. Randal,
demanding payment of the mortgage.

Vainly did the old man plead for an extension of time. The demand was
pressed to such an extent that it even become a threat to deprive him of
his home unless payment were made within a given time.

"Martha," he said to his wife, "young Harrington is a hard man. He has
me in his power, and he will not scruple to ruin me. I think I would
better go and talk with him, telling him how little I have. It may be he
will pity two old people, and allow us better terms."

"But husband, you are not used to traveling; Harrowtown is a hundred
miles away, and you are old and feeble too."

"True, wife; but I can talk much better than I can write, and besides,
Luke Conway lives there, you remember. I took an interest in him when he
was a poor boy; perhaps he will advise and help us, now that we are in
trouble."

At last, since he felt that he must go, Mrs. Randal reluctantly
consented, and fitted him out for the journey with great care.

The next morning was warm and sunny for November, and the old man
started for Harrowtown.

"Gideon," called Mrs. Randal as he walked slowly down the road, "be sure
to take tight hold of the railing, when you get in and out of the cars."

"I'll be careful, Martha," and with one more "good bye" wave of his
hand, the old man hurried on to take the stage, which was to carry him
to the station. But misfortune met him at the very outset. The stage was
heavily loaded, and on the way, one of the wheels broke down; this
caused such a delay that Mr. Randal missed the morning train, and the
next did not come for several hours.

It was afternoon when he finally started. He became anxious and weary
from long waiting, and after three stations were passed, he became
nervous, and worried.

"How long before we reach Harrowtown?" he inquired, stopping the busy
conductor.

"At half past eight."

[Illustration: "_How long before we reach Harrowtown?_"]

Another question was upon Mr. Randal's lips, but the conductor was gone.
"Not reach there until evening!" he exclaimed to himself in dismay, "and
pitch dark, for there's no moon now; I shall not know where to go!"

Presently the conductor passed again. "Mr. Conductor, will you kindly
tell me when to get out? I've never been to Harrowtown, and I don't want
to stop at the wrong place."

"Give yourself no uneasiness," was the polite reply, "I'll let you know;
I will not forget you."

Soothed by this assurance, the old man settled back in his seat and
finally went to sleep.

In the seat behind him sat a tall, handsome boy. His name was Albert
Gregory. He was bright and intelligent, but there was an expression of
cruelty about his mouth, and a look about his eyes that was cold and
unfeeling. This lad saw the old man fall asleep, and he nudged his
companion: -

"See here, John, by and by I'll play a good joke on that old country
greeny, and you'll see fun."

On rushed the train; mile after mile was passed. Daylight faded, and the
lamps were lighted in the cars, and still the old man slept, watched by
his purposed tormentor and the other boy, who wanted to see "the fun."

At last the speed of the train began to slacken. They were nearing a
station. Albert sprang up and shook Mr. Randal violently.

"Wake up! wake up!" he called sharply. "This is Harrowtown. You must get
off here!"

Thus roughly roused, the old man started from his seat and gazed around
in a bewildered way. The change from daylight to darkness, the
unaccustomed awakening on a moving train, and the glare of the lights
added tenfold to his confusion.

"Wh - what did you say, boy?" he asked helplessly.

"This is Harrowtown. The place where you want to stop. You must get
off. Be quick, or you'll be carried by."

The noise of the brakes, and ignorance of the real locality on the part
of those near enough to have heard him, prevented any correction of the
boy's cruel falsehood.

Mr. Randal knew it was not the conductor who had aroused him; but,
supposing Albert to be some employee of the road, he hurried to the car
door with tottering steps. The name of the station was called at the
other end of the car, - a name quite unlike that of "Harrowtown," but his
dull ears did not notice it. He got off upon the platform, and before he
could recover himself or knew his error, the train was again in motion.

[Illustration: "_This is Harrowtown. Be quick, or you'll be carried by_."]

Albert was in ecstasies over the success of his "joke," and shook all
over with laughter, in which, of course, his companion joined. "O dear!
that's jolly fun!" he cried, "isn't it, John?"

John assented that it was very funny indeed.

Neither of the boys had noticed that the seat lately occupied by the
poor old man had just been taken by a fine-looking gentleman, wrapped in
a heavy cloak, who appeared to be absorbed in his own thoughts, but who
really heard every word they said.

They kept up a brisk conversation, Albert speaking in a loud tone, for
he was feeling very merry. "Ha, ha, ha! - but I did think the old fool
would hear the brakeman call the station, though. I didn't suppose I
could get him any farther than the door. To think of his clambering
clear out on the platform, and getting left! He believed every word I
told him. What a delicious old simpleton!"

And having exhausted that edifying subject for the moment, he presently
began to boast of his plans and prospects.

"I don't believe you stand much of a chance there; they say Luke
Conway's awful particular," the stranger heard John remark.

"Pooh! shut up!" cried Albert. "Particular! That's just it, and that
makes my chance all the better. I've brought the kind of recommendations
that a particular man wants, you see."

"But there'll be lots of other fellows trying for the place."

"Don't care if there's fifty," said Albert, "I'd come in ahead of 'em
all. I've got testimonials of character and qualifications from Prof.
Howe, Rev. Joseph Lee, Dr. Henshaw, and Esq. Jenks, the great railroad
contractor. His name alone is enough to secure me the situation."

At this, the gentleman on the next seat turned and gave Albert a quick,
searching glance. But the conceited boy was too much occupied with
himself to notice the movement, and kept on talking. Now and then the
thought of the victim whom he had so cruelly deceived seemed to come
back and amuse him amazingly.

"Wonder where the old man is now. Ha, ha! Do you suppose he has found
out where Harrowtown is? Oh, but wasn't it rich to see how scared he was
when I awoke him? And how he jumped and scrambled out of the car! 'Pon
my word, I never saw anything so comical."

Here the stranger turned again and shot another quick glance, this time
from indignant eyes, and his lips parted as if about to utter a stern
reproof. But he did not speak.

We will now leave Albert and his fellow-travelers, and follow good
Gideon Randal.

It was quite dark when he stepped from the cars. "Can you tell me where
I can find Mr. Aaron Harrington?" he inquired of a man at the station.

"There's no such man living here, to my knowledge," was the reply.

"What, isn't this Harrowtown?" asked Mr. Randal, in great consternation.

"No, it is Whipple Village."

"Then I got out at the wrong station. What shall I do?" in a voice of
deep distress.

"Go right to the hotel and stay till the train goes in the morning,"
said the man, pleasantly.

There was no alternative. Mr. Randal passed a restless night at the
hotel, and at an early hour he was again at the station, waiting for the
train. His face was pale, and his eye wild and anxious. "The stage broke
down, and I missed the first train," thought he, "and then that boy told
me to get out here. I've made a bad beginning and I'm afraid this trip
will have a bad ending."

[Illustration: "_Allow me to assist you, sir_."]

There were many passengers walking to and fro on the platform, waiting
for the cars to come.

Among them was a plain-featured, honest-looking boy, who had been
accompanied to the station by his mother. Just before she bade him
"good-bye," she said, "Lyman, look at that pale, sad old man.
I don't believe he is used to traveling. Perhaps you can help him
along."

As the train came into the station, the lad stepped up to Mr. Randal,
and said, respectfully: "Allow me to assist you, sir." Then he took hold
of his arm, and guided him into the car to a seat.

"Thank you, my boy. I'm getting old and clumsy, and a little help from a
young hand comes timely. Where are you going, if I may ask?"

"To Harrowtown, sir. I saw an advertisement for a boy in a store, and
I'm going to try to get the situation. My name is Lyman Dean."

"Ah? I'm sure I wish you success, Lyman, for I believe you're a good
boy. You are going to the same place I am. I want to find Aaron
Harrington, but I've had two mishaps. I don't know what's coming next."

"I'll show you right where his office is. I've been in Harrowtown a good
many times."

Half an hour later, the brakeman shouted the name of the station where
they must stop. Lyman assisted Mr. Randal off the train, and walked with
him to the principal street. "Here's Mr. Harrington's office," said he.

"Oh, yes, thank you kindly. And now could you tell me where Mr. Luke
Conway's place of business is?"

"Why, that's the very gentleman I'm going to see," said Lyman. "His
place is just round the corner, only two blocks off."

Mr. Randal was deeply interested. He turned and shook the boy's hand,
warmly. "Lyman," he said, "Mr. Conway knows me. I am going to see him
by-and-by. I am really obliged to you for your politeness, and wish I
could do something for you. I hope Mr. Conway will give you the
situation, for you deserve it. If you apply before I get there, tell him
Gideon Randal is your friend. Good-by."

Fifteen minutes after found Lyman waiting in the counting-room of Luke
Conway's store. Albert Gregory had just preceded him. The merchant was
writing, and he had requested the boys to be seated a short time, till
he was at leisure. Before he finished his work, a slow, feeble step was
heard approaching, and an old man stood in the doorway.

"Luke, don't you remember me?" The merchant looked up at the sound of
the voice. Then he sprang from his chair and grasped the old man's hands
in both his own.

[Illustration: "_Welcome, my benefactor!_"]

"Mr. Randal! Welcome, a thousand times welcome, my benefactor!" he
exclaimed. Seating his guest, Mr. Conway inquired after his health and
comfort, and talked with him as tenderly as a loving son. It was
evident to the quick perception of the merchant that the good old man's
circumstances had changed, and he soon made it easy for him to unburden
his mind.

"Yes, Luke, I am in trouble. Aaron Harrington owns a mortgage on my
farm. I can't pay him, and he threatens to take my home," said Mr.
Randal, with a quivering lip. "I went to his office, but didn't find
him, and I thought may be you'd advise me what to do."

"Mr. Randal," answered the merchant, laying his hand on the old man's
shoulder, "almost thirty years ago when I was cold, and hungry, and
friendless, you took me in and fed me. Your good wife - God bless
her! - made me a suit of clothes with her own hands. You found me work,
and you gave me money when I begun the world alone. Much if not all that
I am in life I owe to your sympathy and help, my kind old friend. Now I
am rich, and you must let me cancel my debt. I shall pay your mortgage
to-day. You shall have your home free again."

Mr. Randal wiped great hot tears from his cheeks, and said, in a husky
voice, "It is just as I told Martha. I knew, if we lent our money to the
Lord, when a dark day came, He would provide."

The reader can imagine the different feelings of the two boys, as they
sat witnesses of the scene. The look of derision, that changed to an
expression of sickly dismay, on Albert's face, when the old man came in
and was so warmly greeted by the merchant, was curiously suggestive. But
his usual assurance soon returned. He thought it unlikely that Mr.
Randal would recognize him in the daylight, and he determined to put on
a bold front.

For a minute the two men continued in conversation. Mr. Conway called up
pleasant reminiscences of "Aunt Martha," his boy-life on the farm, and
the peace and stillness of the country town. He thought a railway ride
of a hundred miles must be quite a hardship for a quiet old man. "It was
a long way for you," he said, "Did you have a comfortable journey?"

"Well, I can't quite say that. First, the stage broke down and delayed
me. Then I slept in the cars, and a boy played a trick on me, and waked
me up, and made me get out at the wrong station, so I had to stay over
nigh in Whipple Village. To tell the truth I had a great deal of
worriment with one thing and another, getting here; but it's all right
now," he added, with a radiant face.

[Illustration: "_Is this the boy who lied to you_?"]

"You shall go with me to my house and rest, as soon as I have dismissed
these boys," said Mr. Conway, earnestly; and turning to Albert and
Lyman, who anxiously waited, he spoke to them about their errand.

"I suppose you came because you saw my advertisement?"

"Yes, sir," replied both, simultaneously.

"Very well. I believe you came in first," he began, turning to Albert.
"What is your name?"

"I am Albert Gregory, sir. I think I can suit you. I've brought
testimonials of ability and character from some of the first men - Esq.
Jenks, Rev. Joseph Lee, Dr. Henshaw, and others. Here are my letters of
recommendation," holding them out for Mr. Conway to take.

"I don't care to see them," returned the merchant, coldly. "I have seen
you before. I understand your character well enough for the present."

He then addressed a few words to Lyman Dean.

"I should be very glad of work," said Lyman. "My mother is poor, and I
want to earn my living, but I haven't any testimonials."

"Yes, you have," said old Mr. Randal, who was waiting for an opportunity
to say that very thing. And then he told the merchant how polite and
helpful Lyman had been to him.

Mr. Conway fixed his eyes severely upon the other boy. The contrast
between him and young Dean was certainly worth a lesson.

"Albert Gregory," said the merchant, "I occupied the seat in the car in
front of you last evening. I heard you exultingly and wickedly boasting
how you had deceived a distressed and helpless old man. Mr. Randal, is
this the boy who lied to you, and caused you to get out at the wrong
station?"

"I declare! Now I do remember him. It is! I'm sure it is," exclaimed the
old gentleman, fixing his earnest eyes full upon the crimson face of the
young man.

It was useless for Albert to attempt any vindication of himself. His
stammered excuses stuck in his throat, and he was glad to hide his
mortification by an early escape. Crestfallen, he slunk away, taking all
his "testimonials" with him.

"Lyman," said Mr. Conway kindly, "I shall be very glad to employ you in
my store. You shall have good pay if you do well, and I am sure you
will. You may begin work at once."

Lyman's eyes danced with joy as he left the counting-room to receive his
instructions from the head clerk.

Mr. Conway furnished the money to pay the debt due to Mr. Harrington by
Mr. Randal, and a heavy load was lifted from the good old farmer's
heart. He remained a visitor two or three days in Mr. Conway's house,
where he was treated with the utmost deference and attention.

[Illustration: _Mr. Randal pays Mr. Harrington_.]

Mr. Conway also purchased for him a suit of warm clothes, and an
overcoat, and sent his confidential clerk with him on his return journey
to see him safely home. Nor was good Mrs. Randal forgotten. She received
a handsome present in money from Mr. Conway, and a message full of
grateful affection. Nothing ever after occurred to disturb the lives of
the aged and worthy pair.

Albert Gregory secured an excellent situation in New York, but his false
character, and his wanton disregard of others' feelings and rights, made
him as hateful to his employers as to all his associates, and it soon
became necessary for him to seek another place.

He has changed places many times since, and his career has been an
unhappy one - another example of the results of frivolous habits and a
heartless nature.

Lyman Dean is now a successful merchant, a partner of Mr. Conway, and
occupies a high position in society, as an honorable, enterprising man.
But best of all, he is a Christian, and finds deep satisfaction and
happiness in the service of Him who has said: -

"Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old
man, and fear thy God."




[Illustration]

BERT'S THANKSGIVING


At noon on a dreary November day, a lonesome little fellow stood at the
door of a cheap eating house, in Boston, and offered a solitary copy of
a morning paper for sale to the people passing.

But there were really not many people passing, for it was Thanksgiving


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Online LibraryVariousTiger and Tom and Other Stories for Boys → online text (page 2 of 10)